Sunday, July 31, 2016

Brunch at Porta Pizza in Jersey City, NJ

We took the 'rents to Porta for a delicious pizza-filled brunch.  Three types of pizza and a super rich entree.  We were all stuffed by the end. As mentioned their menu changes constantly, though we finally tried the margherita pizza which is always on the menu.  Good standard pizza.
Margherita Pizza - san marzano tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, basil, and EVOO

Summer Betty - an marzano tomatoes, sliced Jersey tomatoes, goat cheese, thyme and garlic.  Didn't try it because was so stuffed, but will tomorrow when we eat leftovers 

Sylvia - homemade ricotta, speck, figs, and honey.  My order and the clear favorite.  So delicious.  Their ricotta was nice and fluffy. and the speck had the right amount of saltiness.  Figs weren't plentiful but tasty when I got a piece

Country Fried Ham Steak with fried eggs and southern milk gravy - insanely rich.  Dan was only able to make it through half but I'm sure it will be good later

Home-made breakfast

Dan was craving bananas foster after watching some Food Network show where someone was flambe-ing bananas.  So I made pancakes, with bacon and sausage, and he made bananas foster to top his pancakes - bananas sauteed in rum and topped w/home-made whipped cream.  No need to go out for brunch when both of you can cook.
Dan's banana foster pancakes w/whipped cream, sausage and thick-cut bacon, and my pancakes that I later drenched in maple syrup

Home-made scallops with white beans and kale

Dan picked up some fresh scallops from JC Fish Stand.  He seems to have mastered searing them to perfection.  He also made delicious white beans with garlic, and massage kale.  In terms of massaging it, he used olive oil and lemon juice.  At first it seemed too lemon-y so we let it drain a little.  It actually tasted perfect with the richness of the scallop and heartiness of the beans.  Great balance.  Restaurant-caliber meal.

Dinner at Swine in NYC

Jordan and I had a reunion dinner at Swine in the West Village, her new 'hood.  Delicious meaty dishes though didn't feel as full as I expected given my prior meal there.  Each meal had meat despite our faux attempt to be "healthy" with the side of mac and cheese.
The Mac n Cheese Daddy - bechamel, idizabal, cheddar, american cheese with onion rings.  Oh and we added bacon, because why not.

Pork Belly with pickled cabbage and sweet chili glaze.  This was delicious; I only wish it had been bigger

Grilled ribeye steak with chimichurri sauce, roasted Peruvian purple potatos, creamed kale, asparagus, and pickled cherry tomatoes.  Delicious meat and loved all the sides

Dessert from Dominique Ansel Kitchen in NYC

After dinner, Risheen and I walked to Dominique Ansel Kitchen for some DKA ice cream sammies.  Great combo though would've liked the ice cream to be sweeter.  I brought extra DKAs for Dan and he made his own ice cream sandwich at home.  Less picturesque, but I think tasted better because of the choice of ice cream.
Brown sugar DKA with smoked sea salt caramel soft serve ice cream

Dan's DKA ice cream sammie at home with vanilla bean ice cream.  Less rotund but just as good 

Dinner at Barbuto in NYC

Risheen and I met up for dinner at Barbuto in the East Village.  So happy to have seen her and also to have finally tried the gnocchi that I have been insta-stalking for months.  Our appetizer was ehh, but the pasta dishes were both amazing.  I honestly can't say which I liked more.  Would def be back because need to try their signature chicken dish.
Calamari alla plancha - point judith squid, baby market greens and chili aioli.  The squid was well cooked, similar to grilled squid in Spain.  But the greens for some reason tasted bitter, which was a turn off
Gnocchi stagionale - gnocchi with squash, cherry tomato, sweet corn and goat cheese.  The gnocchi was so light and fluffy, with a little cripsiness.  Loved all the toppings esp the goat cheese.  Vegetarian but still loved it and wouldn't have changed a thing.  The toppings change seasonally

Bucatini alla matriciana - pancetta, onion, beefsteak tomato and pecorino.  This was honestly perfect.  I could've inhaled it but we were sharing haha

Lunch at North River Lobster Company in NYC

Dan, Debbie, Nicole and I went on a lobsta cruise.  Food was good; certainly not the best seafood in the world but hit the spot as we were all hungry, and of course the boat itself was awesome because we sailed around the Hudson and got to drink.  We didn't get their early enough to be seated outdoors, but we got to hang out there later and take some pics.  A fun summer event that I would def do again.
Truffle Parmesan fries were awesome.  Perfectly fried and loved the toppings

The New England Classic Lobster Roll - northern Atlantic lobster, old bay mayo, celery, lemon juice and bibb lettuce

Dessert from Luigi's Ice Cream in Jersey City, NJ

Dan and I have been meaning to try this ice cream food truck that is frequently parked by our house.  They serve not only home-made cones, but home-made donut ice cream sandwiches!!  Delicious and sooo decadent.  The donut is sturdy yet great glazed taste.  We got different ice creams but both got oreo crunch toppings so they looked the same.  I got lemon cake, which I def recommend, and Dan got s'mores which he loved.  The girl at the truck also let us try lots of flavors while we waited, including pistachio, double chocolate, and cereal milk.  Next time I think I'd try cereal milk ice cream w/fruity pebbles topping.  The sandwich was very filling; I think one between two of us next time would be the more judicious call.
So wrong it's right

Thank god they give you a glove. So necessary esp. eating outside in public haha

Dinner at Teppan Bar and Grill in Jersey City, NJ

Another amazing dinner at Teppan, specifically at the bar so we can order from the dollar sushi menu.  How more people don't do this, I have no idea.  Everything was delicious, and am happy to have tried the sparkling sake that I got.  The only negative was the Republican Convention was on tv, but that was just happenstance ha.
Mio Sparkling Sake - didn't even know sparkling sake was a thing, but it is, and it's delicious!  Not heavy and fun drinking out of a shot glass so I felt like I had a lot because I had to keep refilling haha

Roti Canai - AMAZING and only $5.  So much better fresh and the dip had huge chunks of chicken and potato.  Def recommend getting this

Drunk Sake wings - good but not the best chicken wings, and def pales in comparison with the roti for an appetizer

Delicious sushi from the special menu.  Yellow tail and eel avocado rolls, and salmon, yellowtail, and spicy toro sushi pieces.  Great deal and fresh fish!

Dinner at Dolma in Jersey City, NJ

Dan and I had a delicious al fresco meal at Dolma.  The food was all super delicious, authentic Mediterranean.  Possibly best lamb I've ever had.  Definitely plan to keep this in our regular 'toire, though better in warm weather because inside is small, and their outdoor seating is at least twice as plentiful as inside.

Dip Trio (L to R) Berbere Hummus - chickpeas, toasted sunflower seeds, cilantro ; Mohammara roasted red pepper, walnuts, parsley, pomegranate molasses; and Baba Ghanoush - eggplant, roasted red pepper, yogurt, pomegranate molasses.  Shockingly I didn't love their hummus - something about it was different in a way I didn't like.  But the other two were delicious, esp. the roasted red pepper dish.  Mental note - you CAN ask for more bread.  We each thought each plate should've had one more piece of bread, at least.

Dan got the Crispy Skinned Pan-roasted Half Chicken - braised red cabbage, buttered carrots, za’atar potatoes.  So delicious with a definite spice.  Lots leftover.
Grilled Lamb Chops with "Dirty" Pilaf - fenugreek-rubbed grilled lamb chops, “dirty” bulgur pilaf, grilled vegetables, mint aioli.  So amazing.  I had to stop myself from getting down and dirty on those bones since we were in public and on the street haha.  We had some left over which also tasted great the next day.  I've never had more tender or flavorful lamb chops before.  That mint sauce was a great compliment, and the rice was fluffy and had flavor but also absorbed the meat and mint sauces
Baklava with creme fraiche for dessert.  Perfect ending.

Dessert from Lab-320 in NYC

After brunch, Debbie, Nicole and I went to try rolled ice cream.  Definitely interesting to watch them make it and a unique experience eating it.  I still prefer my ice cream either in a cone or smashed in a bowl ha, but nice to try something new.  It took us awhile to decide what we wanted though so I think the workers were getting annoyed, plus we all shared one order haha.
Cookies and cream rolled ice cream with chocolate pretzels, mochi and pistachios

Brunch at Pardon My French in NYC

We had book club at Pardon my French, a very trendy place in Alphabet City.  No AC, and very loud, which was tough on a hot summer day.  They had bottomless brunch but I don't think the mimosas were very strong.  The food, however, was delicious, so was happy for that.
Blurry french toast that Debbie got and enjoyed- brioche french toast with fresh fruit, maple syrup and whipped cream.  Pretty massive

Nicole and I split this and the entree below .  This is the Croque Monsieur - grilled ham and cheese sandwich covered in bechamel sauce and served w/mixed green salad and potatoes.  Sandwich was everything you want in a croque monsieur. Cheesy inside and out

We also split the grilled steak and cheese sandwich, which had of course grilled steak, melted white cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado.  Great balance and of course, a quality baguette

Salmon eggs benedict that Kavita got

Tunisian eggs that Tracy got - eggs baked in terracotta with spicy tomato sauce, feta cheese and capers

Buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, maple syrup and whipped cream that Sejal got

Dinner at Porta Pizza in Jersey City, NJ

Because our recent Porta trip was so good, we came back less than two weeks later for more haha.  As mentioned, the menu is constantly changing, so the stuff we got last time wasn't available.  I LOVE their shrimp pizzas!  This one had some heat, but still was delicious.  Didn't love our appetizer but that was my only complaint.  We were starving though so thought it necessary.
Formaggi e salumi - selection by chef.  Sausages and peppers were great.  Two of the cheeses were good but the gorgonzola/blue on the bottom right was too much.  Even a tiny bit was like a punch in the face, not in a good way haha.  

Shrimp Boats pizza- san marzano tomatoes, shrimp, garlic, chili flakes, and extra virgin olive oil.  Def spicy with the chili flakes but great sauce and shrimp were so plump and juicy 

Carbonara - guanciale, parmigiano reggiano, roasted egg, parsley, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil.  Haven't had this pizza since Monk Room in Newark.  As good as I remember

Birds eye view of the red and white pizzas

Dinner from More Express in Jersey City, NJ

Another order from More Express.  This time tried to expand my menu ordering.  The food was pretty good, and I was shocked at how good the duck was, particularly since it was take-out.  The roti wasn't as good as some other places, but we got a nice assortment of food.
Roasted Duck with baby bok choy - so tasty.  Duck was not too fatty and had great marinade and char.  The bok choy was a nice balance and made me feel healthier ha

Crab Meat Fried Rice - not sauce like Talde but great flavor

Roti with dipping sauce, which was missing any kind of meat :(

Chicken satay was okay.  Not as good as teppan, esp. that peanut sauce

Dinner at Yuca Bar in NYC

Elena and I went to Yuca Bar for happy hour/dinner.  Food and drinks were excellent, though no food deals sadly.  We went on the earlier side so it wasn't ridiculously loud/crowded yet.  The food was great; still so many things on the menu I want to eat though.
Platano relleno - sweet plantain stuffed with slow roasted pork and drizzled with sour cream
Arepas con steak y queso - white corn cakes filled with grilled steak, melted chease, and topped with guacamole

Elena got a frozen marg, and I think I got a watermelon caipirinha

Breakfast from Choc-o-pain in Jersey City, NJ

We have been going to Choc-o-pain nearly weekly this summer on the weekends for their amazing kouignamon and chocopain, and of course their quiche!  I failed to take pics of the pastries - I think I had done it recently but turns out I haven't ha.  But their quiche lorraine - omg so good! Huge chunks of both jam and bacon and pretty large portion for the price.  An excellent savory (but not too salty) compliment to the sweet pastries, which are also amazing.
Large slice (really two slices) of quiche lorraine.  

Dinner at Sam A.M. Cafe in Jersey City, NJ

Sam A.M. usually isn't open for dinner, but every now and again they do a supper club - a special prix-fixe menu with delicious seasonal options.  You need to make a reservation to go.  We decided to go after seeing their menu for that week on Instagram.  It was overall a great meal and didn't feel too full, but for $40 I felt perhaps portions could've been a tad bigger.
Lobster and Sea Bass Ceviche with ripe avocado - don't think I tasted avocado.  The ceviche itself was good, not overly lime-y but hard to differentiate the fish from lobster cut wise

Fresh Berry, Watercress salad with warm feta dressing.  Nice and light.  Creative ingredients for salad 

Entrees were the star.  Dan got the stuffed local flounder with salted petite potatoes.  The flounder was well cooked and loved the bread crumb topping

Long Island Duck Breast L'Orange - had the chance to pick pieces and I went with the leg and thigh.  Great flavor and well cooked, just a bit petite

Homemade classic flan.  Good but hardly the best I've had