Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dinner at Spunto Thin Crust Pizza in NYC

Post painting some gfs and I went to Spunto for dinner.  Fortunately we made it in time for happy hour and were able to take advantage of a great special - pitcher of draft beer --> free large cheese pizza!  We also got a second large pizza, half veggie and half meaty.  All this food and it only came out to about $16 a person.  Great deal, great pizza, and great day as we got to sit outside in perfect summer weather.
Clasica Pizza - marinara sauce, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil.  Super thin and crispy. 

Half Giardino -Marinara sauce & cheese, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, sweet red onions, roasted garlic, spinach; Half Meat Lover's - marinara sauce & cheese, pepperoni, sweet italian sausage, hot italian sausage.  Didn't try the giardino but the meat lover's was excellent.  Great variety of meats and sauce had great flavor.  Also got some garlic from the giardino which made it even better

Brunch at Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, NJ

Dan, the rents and I went to Tick Tock for brunch.  Service was very quick today.  I guess everyone went down the shore today because it wasn't crowded when we sat down.  I went with a classic while Dan made a new excellent selection.
Macho Nachos - chicken chili and chorizo with salsa, cheddar, sour cream, onions, jalapenos and guacamole.  Chili was delicious as were all the toppings.  So large also - everyone sruggled to finish

Tick Tock Chicken - grilled chicken, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and pesto on a roll w/waffle fries

My dad's Turkey Club - bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey w/mayo and fries

Brunch at Beechwood Cafe & Bakery in Jersey City, NJ

Dan and I went to Beechwood after taking the dog to the vet in JC.  We sat outside and some quality people/dog-watching.  The service was pretty terrible today though.  Our drinks didn't come until after our food did, utensils came out after food did, and everything just took forever in terms of service.  My food was good but not exactly what I expected, though props for making eggs over easy the right away.
Potato hash - more like potatoes, over easy eggs, and corned beef which looked like bacon.  Great combo together.  Just not exactly what I expected when I think of "hash" or "corned beef"

Huevos Rancheros - tortilla chips w/beans, fried eggs, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.  Good but messy

Dinner from Sushi House 21 in Newark, NJ

Dan and I got take-out from Sushi House 21, which had 4.5 stars on Yelp.  We felt bad leaving the doggie so got food to go, but it was still excellent and made me feel happy to have found one reliable take-out place near our apt.  Not super cheap but the seafood was all very fresh.  The ramen also was decent, esp. considering it was only $8!  Would like to eat in-house and try some of the other fresh seafood options.
Dan's Meteor Roll - spicy tuna roll w/eel, tuna, salmon, avocado on top with special sauce

Black Dragon Roll in the back - shrimp tempura, cucumber roll topped with eel and avocado.  Red Dragon Roll in front - eel crunch w/spicy tuna on top and special sauce

Tonkotsu Ramen - large, tender pieces of pork, egg (a little over cooked but I guess it would be hard to transport a soft boiled egg), corn, and bamboo shoots.  The broth had good flavor.  The noodles weren't anything special but the pork was great

Lunch at Shaka in West Long Branch, NJ

For lunch during random training near the beach, Andrew and I went to Shaka, which had Hawaiian-inspired food, most of which was healthy.  I thought I should be healthy and detox from my super rich dinner the night before.  This meant that I had some food regret from my choice haha, but glad we tried it.
Makaha Fish & Rice Bowl - mahi mahi, cilantro brown rice, hass avocado, tropical pico, toasted coconut, cilantro lime sauce

Bowl mixed up.  The fish was a little dry and the salsa was more fruit than I expected.  As in, all fruit ha.  It def tasted refreshing but I think I wanted something more meaty or at least something with beans

Dinner at Hakkasan in NYC

Dan and I went to Michelin-star restaurant Hakkasan in NYC for Restaurant Week.  It was AMAZING and def worth coming back to during non RW.  I don't think I've ever been to a really expensive Chinese restaurant but I def think this was worth it.  Everything had so much complex flavor and the portions were well-sized.   The drinks were also very unique and tasty.  At one point our drink order was severely delayed, I guess because it was super busy.  The waitress apologized multiple times, which was nice but not so helpful.  Right before our bill came the manager came over and apologized for the delay and said he was going to comp those drinks, which was awesome bc that was approx. $30.  They have a couple of other prix-fixe menu options throughout the year, which could def be worth it, or just come back and order a la carte. 
Chinese Mule - Spring 44 vodka, Hatsumago junmai sake, cilantro, ginger, lime and Fever-Tree ginger beer.  Very refreshing and strong

Blood and Sand - Hakushu 12 yr Japenese whisky, Martini Gran Lusso vermouth, Cherry Herring, Satsuma Godai umeshu, orange juice and orange wood smoke infusion.  Also looked crazy because it was still smoking and smelled so strong.  But it was super cold. which was crazy

Fried soft shell crab with curry leaf and chilli - the crab was so meaty and delicous.  The crunchy thing on top was apparently egg yolk threads.  This was a giant portion for an appetizer. Def the best thing we ate all night. 

har gau shrimp shumai, crab dumpling, prawn andchive dumpling. def quality ingredients.  Not the best dim sum I've eaten but you could tell this was carefully made

Jasmine tea smoked pork ribs - not part of RW but totally worth it.  Fall of the bone and great smoky flavor

Spicy prawn with lily bulb and almond - Dan got this and thought it was great spice-wise.  It was a little spicy for me but the curry flavors were excellent.  I also thought it wouldn't be enough food but the prawn were in fact prawn and giantic

Stir-fry black pepper rib-eye beef with merlot - so delicious.  Tender beef with great flavor.  Only negative was it wasn't super hot when it came out.  I also loved the roasted garlic cloves

Spring onion and egg fried rice-  as the yelp reviews instructed, def choose this over regular white rice.  So much flavor and also a large portion

(L) some drink with Cacha├ža and blueberries that Dan enjoyed.  (R) Fernet Julep - Spring 44 bourbon, Fernet Branca amaro, ginger juice, mint and spiced port syrup

Vanila parfait with sorbet, strawberries, and what tasted/felt like space ice cream on top haha.  Very delicious.  Great textures and the right amount of sweetness

I took my macarons to-go.  Top was raspberry and bottom mocha.  The next day confirmed that I don't like french-style macarons.  Only coconut macaroons.  This was the only thing I didn't love

Home-made roasted chicken, dill potatoes, and corn

We made a great, easy dinner of roasted chicken thighs, dill potatoes, and chipotle corn.  This time the dill potatoes were sooo close to Boston Market's version because I correctly steamed the potatoes vs. boiling.  Chicken was great - the skin was so crispy it was like chicarron.  And of course the corn was easy and a great side.

Dinner at The Counter in Clifton, NJ

Dan and I went to The Counter to try a new burger joint where you can custom build your burger, in addition to ordering a pre-set burger.  They also have gluten-free buns, and even more amazingly, unlimited sauces.  The inside was surprisingly large and very similar to Chipotle in my mind - lots of metal and kind of sterile yet modern.  For the build-your-own burger there are sooo many options, it may seem overwhelming.  But fortunately they have checklists so you don't have to worry about someone writing it down wrong.  Despite what the checklists say, extra sauce is free.  I def would like to come back to try other combos.  I didn't wanna get TOO carried away. 
Half & half - fries and sweet potato fries with accompanying horseradish sauce.  The fries were super thing but perfectly crisp and salted.  Like an elevated McDonald's fry ha.  The sweet potato fries were a little thicker but perfect amount of sweet and salty.  I also really liked the sauce even though I didn't think I liked horseradish

Dan's burger with american cheese, kale, spicy pickles, fresh jalapenos, and fried egg on a gluten-free bun.  With smoky chipotle aioli and roasted garlic aioli

My burger with cheddar, kale, jicama, pickled carrot and daikon with roasted garlic and sweet sriracha.  Great balance of flavors and almost felt healthy w/my toppings

View of my veggies.  All such unique choices for a burger joint

All the sauces!  We were good and only ordered two each but there are so many more I wanna try

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dinner at Provence en Boite in Brooklyn, NY

To bid farewell to Elena, I trekked to Brooklyn and we hung out around Cobble Hill.  Eventually we had dinner at a French restaurant that neither she nor her friend had eaten at.  Her friend once tried to go to brunch but waited so long that they eventually left.  They had a sign for Belgian night - mussels, fries, and a beer for $14, so we decided to give it a second chance.  Unfortunately that ended up being a mistake.  They had run out of mussels!  And only took American Express!  WTF.  Also no one's food was good.  Somehow their French Onion Soup was terrible, and my duck somehow was in a soup although it was def not supposed to be.  I think this is the first time I've had bad French food.  Lesson learned.  Do not go to Provence en Boite if you are in BK. 
Seared Duck Breast, honey and 4 spices sauce with vegetable cous cous.  This was what it was supposed to be.  Instead it appeared to be duck and shallots in soup with elbow macaroni and peas.  Not quite what I expected.  The duck was pretty overcooked, and the sauce was more bitter than sweet.  Plus three giant shallots that I could/would not eat.  Womp womp.

Traditional Onion soup, melted cheese, croutons - Elena had this and thought it was terrible.  I didn't try it but I find it crazy that a French restaurant could have bad soup.

Lunch at Vamoose Gluten Free Cafe in Kearny, NJ

There's at least one gluten-free place near our apt. and it's a cute cafe in Kearny.  You can tell that they cook everything from scratch and it kind of feels like it's someone house.  They have their baked goods in tupperware for storage.  Prices are a little expensive but the sandwich we had was delicious as was the coffee.  I forgot to take pics of the baked goods we got to go - two cupcakes plus chocolate chip cookies.  The baked goods were kind of a let down.  Cupcakes and cookies I've made were def better.  But I am a great baker :)  The food was good and we'd like to come back to try their home-made gf pizza.

GF meatball and mozz panini with chips.  And extra marinara dipping sauce

Inside of the sandwich.  That extra dipping sauce was clutch.  And the bread was good. I think it was Udis though, not home-made

Dinner at Amma in NYC

I went to Amma for Restaurant Week w/Karem because we both really like Indian and this RW dinner deal includes five dishes.  The service was a little spotty and the place itself oddly loud, but the food was decent for the price.  Unfortunately definitely not the best Indian food I've ever had, so would probably not come back.  But I'm glad we tried it.
Hara Bara Cold Soup - mixed vegetables with herbs & chef spice.  Def had a kick but was a nice starter. 

(L) Trio of Pakora - fritters of cauliflower, cottage cheese, and onion, and (R) Delhi Chaat - chickpeas, potato, yogurt, mint, and tamarind chutney.  Karem was detoxing from meat this week

Malai Prawn - marinated with coconut milk and hung yogurt, and Chicken Pakora - spiced chicken fritters.  The shrimp was tasty but couldn't really taste the marinade.  The pakora just tasted like pretty bland fried chicken.

(L) Rice, (Front) Chana Saag - chickpeas and spinach with spices, (R) Manchurian cauliflower.  Karem seemed to enjoy it and was pretty full about half-way through

Butter chicken - boneless chicken in creamy tomato sauce, rice w/peas, and Manchurian cauliflower.  The chicken was good; tasted like chicken tikka masala.  The cauliflower had a sweet taste and kind of tasted like sesame chicken sauce.  The portions weren't too large but I got full from the richness

Naan was tasty.  Nice and buttery and light

Karem's strawberry cheesecake that she took to go

Mango Kulfi - mango flavored reduced milk ice cream.  Not my fav.  Was so frozen had the consistency of a chocolate bar

Home-made broccoli cheddar bacon quiche

I made some delicious quiche with broccoli, cheddar, and bacon, along with a gluten-free crust.  Quiche is actually very easy to make, yet tastes so good it seems like it should take a lot of effort.  Next brunch I host will be quiche-ful.

Home-made gluten-free pan de bono & banana nut muffins

I tried my hand at pan de bono - Ecuadorian cheese bread that I first tried at Calle Ocho.  Apparently it is actually gluten free because the starches are tapioca and corn masa.  The texture was spot on and the cheese had good flavor, but it lacked the sweetness that the bread at Calle Ocho had.  Oh well.  On the bright side, my gluten-free banana pecan mini muffins came out great.  I made a bunch of them for Dan and me, and a couple nut-free for the puppy.  He goes crazy for them haha

My Pan de Bono

Gluten-free banana pecan mini muffins

More mini muffins.  The nutless ones were for the doggie

Brunch at Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, NJ

Dan, my parents, and I went to Tick Tock for lunch.  They had an amazing, inexpensive lunch special - soft shell crab BLT.  SO delicious!  I think they actually forgot the bacon, but barely noticed because the crab itself was so delicious.  Dan got his usual Route 3 Traffic Jam.  Delish as per usual.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Soft Shell Crab BLT with fries

Route 3 traffic jam - fried eggs w/cheese, sausage, and hash browns