Monday, April 29, 2013

Dinner at La Pizza & La Pasta at Eataly in NYC

Ladies dinner to celebrate Jess's birthday!  Eataly is huge but we decided on La Pizza & La Pasta restaurant because who doesn't like pizza or pasta?  Not any of my friends!  Unfortunately there was a bit of a wait (45 minutes or so) but fortunately the place is so huge that we got to wander and grocery shop while we waited.  Everyone got pasta and everyone's dishes were DELICIOUS.  Probably the best pasta I've had, though to be fair I'm no pasta connoisseur.  The meat and cheese platters were a great starter, though at the counter area there seems to be more variety.  All in all a very delicious meal with some lovely company.

Formaggi Misti - mixed cheese plate.  From left clockwise - blue cheese, honey and jam?, goat cheese, which was the BEST, and some other mild cheese that was okay

Salumi Misti - mixed meat platter!  I honestly could not tell you how many types of mea ton here.  A LOT of meaty goodness though.

Pasta al forno al pesto (Jess) - lasagne with pesto, bechamel sauce, and green beans.  Delicious.  Even without meat.  I think all the different textures really made this one amazing.  Pretty sure there was pine nuts in here.  My second favorite after my own order.

Tagliatelle with braised shortrib ragu (Nicole) - super tasty and that short rib was awesome

Bucatini (Laura) with local guanciale, red onion, tomato, chili flake, pecorino and parsley - a great combo with slight slight spice

Gnocchi with braised lamb shank ragu - my order.  Amazing.  Best gnocchi I've ever had.  Nice and fluffy, not heavy at all with the sauce.  The lamb was tender and perfectly paired.  I ate the whole plate and I have NEVER done that with gnocchi.  Granted it was a fairly small plate compared to other Italian restaurants, but still, it was soo good I had to finish.

Linguine (Kavita) with a housemade pesto of tomato, basil, almond, garlic, chili flake, and pecorino.  Also very tasty amd more of a creamy taste.

Fiddlehead ferns.  $18/pound WTF.  You're welcome Dan :)

Lunch at Chick-fil-A

I feel kind of bad going to Chick-fil-A, but when you're hungry and one of them appears before you, I feel compelled to go in.  This is probably only the third time that I've had it, but I guess I kind of forgot why people like it so much.  I enjoyed my food but it definitely wasn't worth it to seek one out.  Dan was sorely underwhelmed  by his "spicy" chicken sandwich.  I didn't take a pic because that's just how unimpressive it was.  I liked the waffle fries but they could have used some cajun seasoning or a little more time in the fryer.  My nuggets were good but tiny.  Nothing special.  And we hate their homophobia.  So probably won't ever eat there again.

8 piece nug meal + waffle fries

Dinner at Taqueria in Jersey City, NJ

Taqueria finally re-opened post-Sandy a few weeks ago, and since it's re-opening there has always been a ridic long line to get in.  Dan and I were fortunate enough to get in with no wait.  I think overall that the new changes make things a lot better - namely the wait service versus ordering at the counter then sitting down.  I like the expansion of the menu and am excited to try some other new dishes that I didn't get to.  The only negative was the guacamole - very onion-y and no other flavor it seems besides onion and avocado.  Where were the tomatoes?  Cilantro?  Jalapenos?  Not worth the $7/8, but yay for complimentary chips and salsa. 

Complimentary chips (a little salty) + overpriced guacamole

Fish taco on left, steak on right.  Dan's order and both were as good as he remembered.

Dan's Barbacoa (lamb) taco.  Delicious as usual.
Beef flank taco on left (one of the new ones!)  Super tasty, tender beef.  A little fatty but nothing I couldn't eat.  I liked having beef that didn't make me need to chug a glass of water (a.k.a. Steak is too spicy for HP!).  Carnitas on right.  Old reliable haha

My chorizo taco - one of my favs.  Love the sausage and cheese combo

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Brunch at The Hamilton Inn in Jersey City, NJ

Found a delicious new brunch spot in JC.  Don't know how we hadn't been here before, but had some great food and even better drinks.  We started with the French Onion Soup Dumplings, which were sooo tasty.  Perfectly caramelized onions and provolone and gruyere.  Every bit as good as the ones at Stanton Social.  Then I had Chilaquilies and Dan got LBLT - lobster BLT.  Both dishes were pretty good.  Not necessarily the most memorable dishes but quality food.

Pear Bellini and Bacon Bloody Mary.  Both excellent and mine was only $4!  I also had a mango bellini, which was possibly even better, but forgot to take a pic.  I actually didn't loathe Dan's Bloody Mary, which is unusual for me.  Probably because of the bacon.

French Onion Soup Dumplings with provolone and gruyere.  Amazing.

Shot of the dumplings after we dug into it

LBLT - butter poached lobster, smoked applewood bacon, caper lime aioli served with French Fries

Chilaquilies - eggs, tortillas, chorizo, queso fresco, pico de gallo

Dinner at La Conguita in Jersey City, NJ

It seems almost impossible to get seated for dinner anywhere in JC on a Friday night without a reservation.  Except at one reliable place - La Conguita.  The food is always delicious, inexpensive, and more than enough to eat.  And as of late, the service has been pretty good as well.

Side of red beans, rice, and plaintains

Braised Chicken with potatoes, yuca, and lots of garlic sauce

Churrasco - skirt steak with chimichurri

Dinner from Park & Sixth in Jersey City, NJ

We went to Park & Sixth because I had seen on their facebook page and an incredible pic of one of their specials - mac-n-chese grilled cheese with bacon.  It was one of THE cheesiest and heart-clogging dishes I've ever had and it was totally worth it.  Dan got the Beast.  As per usual haha.  Also delightfully terrible for him.

Mac-n-cheese and bacon grilled cheese with seasoned Old Bay fries.  Only $9!

Dinner from Buon Appetito in Jersey City, NJ

When in doubt, order from Buon Appetito haha.  We ordered two new pasta dishes and both were awesome.  Dan chose chicken with broccoli rabe on linguini.  The sauce was basically garlic and olive oil and it was delicious and tasted pretty healthy.  They were not stingy with either the chicken or broccoli rabe.  I chose Shrimp Fra-Diavlo on linguini as well.  Had a nice kick but not too spicy, and lots of large shrimp.  Yum.

Chicken with broccoli rabe on linguini

Shrimp Fra-Diavlo on linguini

Dinner at SmashBurger in Clifton, NJ

Another delicious dinner at SmashBurger.  This time I tried the chicken and was pleasantly surprised.  I think my chicken burger had more hearty ingredients on it than what Dan got.  Dan also obvi enjoyed his burger.  And we were both pleasantly surprised by the Veggie Frites - flash-fried green beans and carrots.  The green beans were DELICIOUS.  And healthy!  The carrots weren't quite crisp enough but a good alternative to fries.

Veggie Frites

Make Your Own Burger with American cheese, grilled onions, and bacon

Avocado Club - Chicken with avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a multi-grain bun.  No ranch or mayo for HP.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dessert at Torico in Jersey City, NJ

Everyone should go to Torico in JC!  Home-made ice cream in soo many flavors.  Home-made soft-serve in tons of flavors.  Home-made waffle cones and other cones.  Make-your-own ice cream cakes.  Only downside is sometimes they run out of the more popular flavors (i.e. why I don't always get pistachio even though I always want that).  They also readily give out samples.  Oh other downside is all the kids haha, but I guess that's expected.

Pistachio on a sugar cone.  That's ONE scoop wtf.  Maybe next time I'll get kiddie size

Chocolate marshmallow on cake cone.  And my lovely pistachio again

Dinner at Rustique Pizza in Jersey City, NJ

I was craving brick-oven pizza so Dan and I decided to go to Rustique in JC.  It has pretty good reviews on Yelp, with many people calling it the best brick-oven pizza in the area.  Spoiler alert - it's not ha.  Razza def beats Rustique in both of our opinions, though perhaps we were a little clouded by the disparate service.  The restaurant was oddly hard for us to find.  We entered in the take-out area and didn't realize immediately that there was an actual restaurant/seating area in the back.  Nor did they tell us til I started exploring awkwardly backwards.  The waiter also wasn't very attentive or friendly, and it took about thirty minutes for our food to come.  I realize everything was made from scratch but does pizza really take that long?  At Razza our food came pretty quickly and service was just wonderful.  I enjoyed both of the pizzas we got, and we had a lot leftover, but it was def not even close to the best pizza I've had.  The crust was kinda burned and not that fluffy - more thick and doughy.  Also the meats on Dan's pizza were wayyy too salty.  My meat was nearly non-existant on my pizza.  Oh well.  At least we tried it.  The sandwiches are allegedly better than the pizza, so I'd prob try that but take-out only.  I don't know if I'd wanna sit there again.  It is BYOB but apparently no places to go that nearby.

The Frank - soppresata, prosciutto di parma and capicola.  This is the SMALL size btw haha

The Proscuitto di parma - proscuitto, arugula, mozzarella, roasted garlic oil and shaved parmesan.  Loved the garlic and cheese but the meat was hard to find

Proof of meat but had to dig to get that pic

Lunch from Dario's in Newark, NJ

First nice day in a long time so we took a clerk trip to Dario's in Newark.  As usual, I food coma-ed hard afterwards, but it was worth it for this amazing and inexpensive chicken burrito. 

Chicken Burrito with complimentary rice, salsa, and sour cream

Dinner from Rasoi in Jersey City, NJ

I have been meaning to try Rasoi in Jersey City for quite awhile, but we always end up ordering from/going to Taj Mahal instead.  I guess because it's closer, but I wonder if it actually is.  Anyway, the Yelp reviews on Rasoi are all soooo positive, calling it the best Indian food in NYC area, with the best lunch buffet, and best lots of particular dishes.  It's a little more expensive than Taj Mahal and other places in the area, but in my humble opinion it's definitely worth it.  Not that I am by any means an expert on Indian food, but everything was DELICIOUS and had a kick.  I ordered the main dishes medium spice and they did not disappoint, but it wasn't so bad that I couldn't enjoy my food.  I definitely want to try their lunch buffet sometime on a weekend.   P.S. Sorry these aren't the classiest pictures.  We figured it would get messy so we used the styrofoam places they provided so we had less to clean haha

Samosa Choley - crispy deep-fried vegetable patties stuffed with potatoes and green peas, served with sauteed chick peas.  Served with three sauces - some red onion-y, some spicy green one pictured, and a purple one that is kind of sweet and my fav, on the far right.

(L to R) Aloo Mutter - potatoes and green peas in medium sauce, naan, and chicken tikka masala - tandoori chicken cooked in spicy tomato sauce.  Also had peppers in it.  Best chicken tikka masala I think I've had

Dinner at Hill Country in NYC

I already have two posts on Hill Country in NYC.  Also this pic doesn't do justice to all the meaty goodness, but I just have two things to say.  One- the best side ever is white shoepeg corn pudding.  I don't know why it's called that, but it's f-ing AMAZING.  Not too sweet and has wonderful chunks of corn kernels plus whatever else they mix in.  Maybe cornbread?  Who knows but everyone loved it and wished we had ordered a bigger side.  Also lean brisket is def not as good as the moist brisket.  Perhaps that's obvious but I would spring the extra $2. Dan and his friends and I indulged in a ridic feast of beef ribs, pork ribs, moist brisket and beef shoulder.  All the meats were amazing and I enjoyed the beef shoulder (very prime rib like) and moist brisket.  Also discovered the new side, which I would come back for on its own.  It's that good.   I made a corn pudding courtesy of Paula Deen a few months ago, which was tasty but not at all comparable to this.

(L to R clockwise) white shoepeg corn pudding, beef shoulder, beef ribs, sweet potato bourbon mash, mac and cheese, corn bread and ancho honey butter, pork ribs, brisket, and more corn bread

Dinner at Bareburger in NYC

Finally took Dan to Bareburger.  While this time we had to wait, it was only 15 minutes or so, not too bad.  Dan got elk and I tried wild boar.  Both of us really enjoyed our meats - very juicy and similar to beef but definitely different.  Hard to explain why but I'm glad I tried something new.  We also shared onion rings and fries, which was a little too much food ha.  But everything was delicious and the meal overall not too expensive for elevated burgers.

Habanero Express - elk burger with pepperjack cheese, tomatoes, raw red onions, pobalano peppers, habanero chipotle mayo, buffalo sauce and topped with spicy fried pickle chips, all on brioche bun.  Dan really enjoyed this and def tasted a kick

Big Blue Bacon - wild boar with Wisconsin blue cheese, country bacon, sauteed mushrooms, fried onions, and bacon marmalade on brioche.  First of all, I got this last time and I cannot tell you how amazing it was.  The bacon marmalade alone makes this order-worthy, but everything together is perfection.  The blue cheese isn't too extreme/stinky and the roughness is tempered by the bacon marmalade.  The country bacon was really thick and almost hammy.  The bun was perfect ratio of bun to toppings.  Order this with your fav meat.

Rings and fries combo.  Onion rings were tasty, but the onions weren't melted into the batter so I pulled them out lol.  Fries were good but nothing that memorable.

(L to R clockwise) Smoked paprika mayo, smokehouse sauce, bare burger special sauce, and curry ketchup.  It was fun to dip in all but my fav was the BB special sauce and Dan really liked the smoked paprika mayo.  I think the thickness of those sauces worked really well with the friedness.  The ketchup and bbq type sauce were fine but there were two other bottles of ketchup on the table in little bear plastic bottles and both were better haha

Inside of my Big Blue Bacon.  Yumm

Friday, April 5, 2013

Home-made Vodka Pasta, Brussel Sprouts + Turkey Meatballs

This was another semi-homemade meal.  Had some leftover vodka sauce that I made last week, so we tossed it on top of a variety of garden pasta.  My fav - it has shells, rotini, and penne.  Turkey meatballs were all courtesy of Trader Joe's, so that "cooking" just entailed sticking it in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Dan sauteed the brussel sprouts with oil and TJ's pepper turkey bacon.  The turkey bacon was actually really good with the sprouts and could've probably tricked someone and masqueraded as real bacon.  Overall a very successful and hearty meal.

Brussel sprouts with turkey bacon, turkey meatballs, and pasta in vodka sauce

Home-made Stir-Fry and Deep Fried Tofu

I made a stir-fry of string beans, mushrooms, and shredded carrot, sauteed in hoison sauce.  Then I deep fried some extra firm tofu and topped with sweet chili sauce.  The first batch was a little "well-done" haha, so it kind of looked like a dried sponge and wasn't so tasty.  The second batch was more edible.  I couldn't tell how cooked it was because the color didn't change that quickly.  I think that's what I get for deep frying it straight instead of breading in flour.  Next time I'll use flour.