A Sarcastic Appetite

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of May 28
May 28, 2009, 5:41 pm
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I canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Bobo now packs a punch. No, really.

Via the Eater Dealfeed, A Voce now has a bar menu and terrace seating in time for the, uh, rain this weekend. Food items will set you back between $5 and 10; wash them down with the drink specials, $6 from 3pm to 7pm nightly.

It’s summer, which means lobster rolls. Metromix has the round-up of best lobster rolls in the city.

Speaking of which, if you’re willing to go a little farther afield this weekend without breaking the bank, Newsday visited restaurants near each LIRR station. One of the gems: lobster rolls at the PJ Lobsterhouse in Port Jefferson.

Behold: summerbration.com. The geniuses at Corona have come up with an excuse for you to throw one back every day for the rest of the summer. Today’s reason? Why, it’s Getting the Band Back Together Today. Oh, and if you’re feeling frisky, have a Buccaneer: a Corona with a shot of Bacardi Limon. Just be sure to flip it like you would with a lime. Delicious.

Not doing anything on June 6? Feel like eating ribs? Feel like eating a lot of ribs? Then enter Hill Country’s rib-eating competition and win big, my little piggy: a $100 gift certificate and your name on a plaque mounted on the wall and the sweet, sweet smell of success. And ribs.

Footloose and fancy free tonight? Wined and Dined’s got your back with a nice little itinerary that will have you eating and drinking for free.

Another Exercise in Lazy Cooking
May 27, 2009, 8:32 pm
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Sometimes I think I picked the wrong name for this blog. Yes, I’m sarcastic, but maybe even more than that, well, I’m lazy. Just plain lazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read through a recipe and said, “I’m not doing that…I don’t have that….There is no way I’m using that many pots…..I have to do it for how long?….That is completely ridiculous….Who even wrote this?!”

So the end result is, while usually delicious, more often than not the product of a series of shortcuts, all of them stemming from my own sheer laziness.

Case in point: I made my own chicken stock the other day, though I’ll never post it here because a) I was too lazy to take pictures and b) I followed no recipe – I just threw some chicken carcasses, an onion, celery, and parsley into a stock pot with a bunch of water and boiled it for 3 hours. When it cooled enough, I strained it and poured it into some containers. The next day I did manage to skim the fat off the top of 2 before throwing them into the freezer. There was no “saute the onions until softened before adding the water,” “occasionally skim the fat off the surface as it boils” or “push the solids down into the strainer to extract the liquids.”  No, no – this was Lazy Chicken Stock, pure and simple. And you know what, I bet it will be delicious. Not that I would know – I’m too lazy to find a recipe that will use it…

So last night was another exercise in Lazy Cooking, this time with a brownie recipe out of Silver Palate. In my paltry defense, it was due less to my own laziness and more to a lack of time; I was trying to throw them together before heading out to meet some friends.

They’re delicious. I just ate two and maybe feel a little sick, but I could be convinced to have a third, I won’t lie. I’ve noted my, um, shortcuts below.


Coffee Blond Brownies

“Adapted” from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook

1 lb. dark brown sugar (I only had light brown; it was fine)

1 1/2 sticks butter

2 tbsp. instant coffee powder

1 tbsp. hot water

2 eggs

2 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp cocoa (optional)

1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan. Dissolve the coffee into the hot water; stir that in. Once everything’s melted, take it off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (Needless to say I did not wait for it to cool all the way to room temperature.)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter an 11 x 8-inch baking dish.

Transfer the butter mixture to a heatproof bowl to speed the cooling process; once you’re ready to proceed, beat in the eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and stir into the butter mixture with the cocoa, if using. (Or you could not bother with the sifting part if you are feeling, um, lazy.) Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture into the pan and bake until lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. (My pan was a bit bigger than the suggested size; I baked them for about 30 minutes and they were still a little underdone when I pulled them out. I do not regret my decision in the least.) Do not overbake! Cool completely before cutting – or try to, anyway.

White Bean Dip for Dummies
May 25, 2009, 11:33 am
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Not that I think you’re a dummy, of course….but this dip is easy and versatile and your dog could probably throw it together if need be. It takes about, oh, four minutes to make, but ideally you’ll make it a day ahead and let it sit in the fridge overnight – it really makes a difference.

In fact I’ll be having it on a sandwich for lunch today, with some tomatoes, avocados, and maybe some of this red cabbage slaw I made last night. Delightful.

White Bean Dip

1 15 oz. can white beans (cannellini beans) drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, halved

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 c. good olive oil

1/4 c. flat parsley, packed

1/4 tsp dried oregano

a pinch of red pepper flakes

lots of salt and pepper

Pita wedges, for serving

Throw everything (uh, except the pita) into the bowl of a food processor and mix until combined thoroughly. (Use a blender if you don’t have a food processor.) Add lots of salt and freshly ground pepper; taste, correct seasoning if necessary, and transfer to a serving bowl. Cover, refrigerate overnight.


Before you’re ready to serve it, first heat some olive oil in a pan with a pinch of dried oregano. Cut pita into wedges and fry in the oil, a minute or two on each side. See? I told you your dog could do this.

Hi, I Want Your Feedback
May 21, 2009, 10:35 pm
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Hello, my dear readers. Hey there.

No, I haven’t polished off a bottle of Grüner Veltliner all by my lonesome, but thank you for asking. No, no, I have some business to attend to, and it requires some input from you.

I’ve created a poll just for you, so you can vote on what you’d like me to write about. I’m kind of curious, frankly, if anyone cares one way or the other what kind of content I’m posting. And not to worry: we’re here in the tree trust in the nest, so your opinion is valued even as it remains anonymous. I think the options pretty much cover all the bases, but by all means leave a comment if you have a unique and magical suggestion that I absolutely need to know.


Round-Up for the Week of May 21
May 21, 2009, 11:48 am
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I canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. This week’s focus: food & wine related things in the city this weekend for those of you who aren’t skipping town.

New York mag just came out with their list of Places to Drink 2009; if you’re like I am, you’ve got a boozy To-Do list that just got a little longer – not that I have any qualms about that.

Chelsea Wine Vault has a free tasting from 4-7 today, plus a Winemaker Series tonight on Bodega Septima, a nice Mendoza, for only $20.

Via the Eater Dealfeed: kick off the weekend with a recession-friendly lunch tomorrow at Almond, which has a new deal for Summer Fridays, from 1:30 to 6pm: 3-piece shrimp cocktail, a burger, and a Blue Point Summer Ale or a Caipirinha for $21.

Water Taxi Beach v. 2.0 opens Saturday night at 10pm at South Street Seaport. Grub Street has the menu.

As usual, TastingTable has a nice little round-up of weekend events – including the all-you-can-eat-and-drink Crawfish Boil on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $60 (no door sales).

Free food never goes out of style – or not in this economy, anyway. AMNY has a round-up of free bites in the city, most of which come gratis when you fork over cash for a drink.

Go see the Mets take on the Nationals Monday night and get the Kosher Pastrami Dog while you’re at it.

Oh, yeah, and if somehow you weren’t already aware…it’s Fleet Week.

A Work in Progress
May 16, 2009, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Not too long ago I told you about my too-sweet kumquaticello and my inability to figure out what the heck to do with it. I shouldn’t have been so concerned. The other night I was messing around in the kitchen until it hit me: the memory of a coupe de colonel I had once in France, which is really just lemon sorbet with vodka generously poured over the top, and maybe some mint thrown on there too. It’s delicious – and reminiscient of limoncello, which is what had gotten me into this predicament in the first place.

I knew I was on to something, and whipped open the freezer door to see what we had lying around. And there it was: Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet, albeit with a sizeable amount of freezer burn. Whatever –  I was not about to be deterred so easily from a good drink. I scraped it off, scooped some into a champagne flute, poured some not-quite-frozen-but-still-slushy kumquaticello over the top, and spooned a soupy bite.

It was…better, but still too sweet. I needed something else, something to turn this into more of a drink than a soupy dessert. I needed something with a bite to it, something to cut the sweetness. And I needed something that wouldn’t take any color away from what was becoming a very good looking drink.

And then it came to me: I needed Campari.

Campari is not something I typically turn to, and in fact, I must admit, I don’t very much like it. Technically a bitter, it’s an Italian aperitif made from infused herbs and aromatics and fruit. And it’s, well, bitter. I’ve tried Negronis and Americanos and could just never quite get past the flavor. But it was clearly just the thing I needed for my little experiment.


I threw my halfway-cocktail into the freezer and ducked around the corner to the liquor store, where $3 bought me the tiniest little bottle of Campari. I poured a floater over the top and stirred it vigorously – the sorbet was still a bit solid and the kumquaticello still a bit slushy, which made for a weird not-dessert-but-not-quite-a-drink texture. I took a slurp and liked it.

Yeah, I did. At first I feared the Campari would be too much, too bitter, but then the sweetness of the kumquaticello comes in and finishes it off. Both are such strong flavors, it’s almost as if they cancel each other out – but they don’t, because the drink ends up tasting of both without being overwhelmed by either. And the color, always an important consideration in the business of cocktail-making, was pretty good too. I christened it the Kumquaticello Americano. (Ok, ok, so I took some poetic license.)


Next time I’ll let the sorbet soften a bit more and leave the kumquaticello in the freezer, and maybe add some sparking water to lighten it up a bit. Or: maybe I need to rethink it as a dessert – the sorbet with the liqueur and Campari over the top. I wonder how it would be garnished with some lemon basil? Or some candied kumquats chopped and sprinkled over the top? I guess this is still a work in progress, and something that will require a lot of taste-testing until I get it just right. And you know, I wouldn’t mind that one bit.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of May 14
May 14, 2009, 8:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Looking to hit the bottle early this weekend? Here are nine places you won’t feel out of place for doing it.

From Grub Street: Aldea opened on Wednesday after more than 2 years in the making. George Mendes toiled under the likes of David Bouley, Alain Ducasse, and Alain Passard, and at well-regarded restaurants Wallse and Tocqueville. Aldea is all his own – a “Modern Iberian” menu, with – you guessed it – a selection of small plates. And enter the pig, in the form of Jamón Serrano, Benton’s Country ham, and Bev Eggelston’s pork shoulder.

From Serious Eats, here’s a blow-by-blow of the process to create Momofuku Milk Bar’s infamous Volcano. I was hesitant to try it at first, and now I’m downright terrified – which means it has to happen, and soon.

Listen up, GG fans: from Grub Street, a new outdoor lounge in the Courtyard of the Palace Hotel will open in June, called, um, Palace Gate. The food comes courtesy of Gilt – though something tells me all the Blair and Serena wanna-bes won’t be snacking on the suckling pig tacos. No, no, that’ll be me instead – and eyeing the 20 wines by the glass, thanks.

Hotly anticipated restaurant opening of the week – or next week, anyway: Eater tells us that Locanda Verde, formerly known as Ago, in Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel, will start serving next week. The chef is Andrew Carmellini, formerly of A Voce and author of very highly regarded cookbook Urban Italian.

As usual, Grub Street gets the lowdown when Frank Bruni dines at Smith’s and The Smith….and favors The Smith, for its reasonable price point, comfortable menu, and appealing wine list. But don’t neglect Smith’s – on Monday and Tuesday nights, their $35 roast chicken dinner for two can’t be beat. (It’s not on the menu so be sure to ask.)

Word from TastingTable is that Recipe is now open on the UWS. Yet another new restaurant to serve the ‘hood, this one’s devoted to, surprise, “rustic, new American cuisine.” Recipe is open as we speak; get there early to snag one of its only 26 seats.

This Saturday, be sure to check out Chelsea Wine Vault’s free wine tasting from 2 to 5 pm, featuring the “Top Ten” wines for May.

Now you can take your patriotic liver on the road: Esquire’s June issue  features a list of the Best Bars in America – state by state for your handy reference.

Drinks off the 6
May 10, 2009, 10:04 pm
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When I was studying in London I found one of the most fantastic websites ever: it was solely devoted to pub crawls. You could generate your own crawl based on a neighborhood, yes, but you could also spell a specific word using the first letter of each pub. (Think of the options! “Happy Birthday” or “Hungover” or “Merry Christmas” or “Maybe we should see other people.”) Or you could create one crawl based on pubs within sight of whichever pub you’d chosen to start in.

The one option that most intrigued me, however, and unfortunately was one I never got to try, was a pub crawl based on Tube lines: you get out at alternate stops on any particular line, stop into the listed pub for a pint, and get back on the Tube – all the way out to the end, at which point you turn around and head back, stopping at the ones you skipped on the way out. Genius, right?

Unfortunately I haven’t yet had a chance to map out pubs, bars, or winebars near each of the 468 stations in the MTA…but maybe one day I will. I’m starting small: the 6, which we all know and love, heading south from 125th St. Each place listed is within 5 blocks of the respective subway stop. Now you’ve got a place to check out on your way in, or check into on your way out, no matter where you’re headed – as long as you’re, you know, on the 6 and south of 125th St, anyway…

Oh, and if there are any brave, intrepid souls out there who want to do this as a pub crawl, well, you know where to find me. Come on! It’s only 20 stops!

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The Fabled Kumquaticello
May 10, 2009, 5:23 pm
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I’m a little underwhelmed.

Six weeks ago I set out to make my own kumquaticello, using this recipe from Sippity Sup. Kumquats are weird and I like that: you can eat them raw, whole; and in a nice twist, the rind is sweet while the insides are sour. The recipe was straightforward: vodka, kumquats, steep; add some simple syrup and more vodka, steep; and drink. I’ve infused regular vodka with my own fruit concoctions – pomegranate and lime, and meyer lemon – so I knew this wouldn’t be terribly difficult. Kumquats were almost out of season, and I thought it might be nice to have something stored away for November, when it’s cold and dark, we’re just settling in for the winter, and I want to drink something bright. (Unfortunately I deleted the “before” pictures, so you’ll have to make do with the “after.” Get over it.)


One week went by, then two, then three weeks, at which point my kumquats still hadn’t lost a smidge of color. This was embarrassing. After a month I had had enough; I strained the kumquats out, poured the vodka into two 1-liter mason jars, divided a fresh bottle of vodka between them, added some simple syrup, and let it steep for another week.


So here we are, six weeks later. I had a taste this afternoon and it’s…it’s…

It’s a bit too sweet, so the kumquat’s complex flavor gets sort of lost in the shuffle. I’ve made cordials before that were too much on their own but opened up a little with some sparkling water to cut it a bit. Unfortunately…that didn’t quite happen. It was still a bit off; I have to play around with it a little. Maybe club soda; maybe more fruit; maybe Grand Marnier. Who knows – but when I do, I’ll post it here.

left to right: cocktail; liqueur; cyclamen

cocktail; liqueur; cyclamen

Restaurant Round-up for the week of May 7
May 7, 2009, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I canvass the food blogs so you don’t have to. Here are some highlights:

Hotly anticipated restaurant opening of the week: Table 8, in the Cooper Square Hotel. Details here.

Recession Special: Belcourt has a new Oyster Hour, from 4 to 7pm on weeknights. Half a dozen are yours for $10 and select cocktails for $5, via the Eater Dealfeed.

I love sandwiches and I love lunch, so of course I loved Midtown Lunch’s Sandwich Challenge. And as a result, I now love Certe, on 55th between 5th and 6th. Ok, ok, it’s not a restaurant, but that doesn’t matter; go there now. They just added their newest creation: a Mexican Torta. And then go on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Dip, and then on Friday for the Primavera…

A new Vietnamese place, An Choi, opens in the East Village, though I highly doubt I’ll darken its doorway anytime soon. Sorry – it lacks a liquor license.

Oh yeah, and if you hadn’t noticed, we’re in a bit of an economic slump these days, and restaurants are taking note…with their wine lists. Here are some tips for ordering wine in a restaurant – or bringing your own, thanks to the New York Post.