A Sarcastic Appetite

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of March 31
March 31, 2011, 6:45 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up

I’m here to canvas the food blogs so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:


The Siftster takes a voyage to India (see what I did there?) and checks out Tulsi, on E. 46th St, and Junoon, on W. 24th St, in the same review. He has warm things to say about both, and Tulsi comes out with one star, while Junoon makes away with two. My only quibble? Tamarind has been serving that delicious Manchurian cauliflower for years.

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation check out Social Eatz, with Asian-influenced stuff like Korean Tacos, Bibimbap Burgers, and Crispy Spring Rolls. Interestingly, they’re less impressed with the Kung Pao Chicken Sandwich, which Midtown Lunch declared a “home run.” Both sites also panned the Imperial Hot Dog; stay away.

Carly from the Serious Eats team checks out Teqa, a new “tequileria” in Murray Hill. Some drinks are hits (Tommy’s Margarita & the Voodoo Child) and some are definitely misses (the Leyenda & the Rosita) but it appears that this might be a nice happy hour option if you’re in the neighborhood – and you order carefully.

Danny at Food in Mouth sets out to refine his palate after a lackluster experience with the bomboloni from Sullivan Street Bakery. Any supertasters out there? Maybe you’ll have better luck.

And since it’s spring (I suspect, since the weather’s been no help), Restaurant Girl pulls together a nice list of Spring Lamb dishes in the city. I love that lamb sandwich at Locanda Verde – but then again, who doesn’t?

Zagat Buzz has word that What Happens When, the pop-up from John Fraser, is channeling Impressionism for Movement 3.

Lastly, not food related at all, but hilarious nonetheless: The missing cobra from the Bronx Zoo just gets funnier and funnier on Twitter.


And on the Second Blogiversary, an Interview with the Ninja
March 27, 2011, 10:59 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

A Sarcastic Appetite turns two today! If I’d been more organized, I’d have baked myself a cake. But then I got to thinking: this blog really exists because of my brother, the Nutritional Ninja, who came home that fateful day when we first moved in together (ew, that makes it sound like we’re dating) and demanded to know what I was making for dinner. The rest, as they say, is history.

So I decided to sit down with the Ninja for a little interview, and I’m pretty sure the result is better than any cake I could bake. Enjoy.

Continue reading

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of March 24
March 24, 2011, 6:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvas the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:


Danny at Food in Mouth and the Serious Eats Team set out to taunt me, both doing a round-up of the best doughnuts. Danny sticks to the new Doughnut Plant in Chelsea, while the SE Team takes on all of New York in their list. Anyone want to follow suit with me?

The Immaculate Infatuation boys check out What Happens When, now in its second “movement,” and deem it a pop-up worth freaking out over. The current movement, which lasts through March, was inspired by one Becky Fitzhugh, who contributed to the restaurant via Kickstarter and remembered foraging for food as a child.

Sam Sifton enjoys getting taken for a ride by the “extremely beautiful staff members” at La Petite Maison, and bestows it with one lonely star. An expensive and boring menu “demands a willing suspension of disbelief.” If you’re checking out the MoMa, hit up The Bar at the Modern instead.

Restaurant Girl talks to Alex Stupak, formerly of WD-50, who has just opened a 90-seat taqueria in the West Village. Eater has the rundown on the menu and the space, but BoozyNYC checks it out on Day 2 with a review that’s lukewarm at best. Looks like they’ve got their work cut out for them.

Andy from Wined & Dined alerts us to Belgian Restaurant Week, which starts today. Some deals abound, though most of them are best suited to those who can drink at lunch. One exception: Petite Abeille, which is doing outrageous things like selling $1 beers and half-priced wine. Check out the list for more details.

Fork in the Road checks out Goat Town to mostly positive reviews; I’m glad to see the place has improved after Immaculate Infatuation’s visit back in January.

Red Wine & Rosemary Lamb Chops
March 22, 2011, 6:24 am
Filed under: Recipes

My calendar might tell me it’s spring, but the thermometer apparently isn’t in on the joke; it’s supposed to be 52° and cloudy here in New York today. I keep thinking of all the delicious spring-like foods headed our way – peas, asparagus, rhubarb, and ramps for those of you who go bonkers for them – and yet the weather has me stymied.

This recipe does its very best to bridge the gap; the red wine puts it squarely in winter, but the fresh herbs hint at spring. It can be marinated overnight in the fridge, or, for the lazy ones among us, at room temperature for an hour. I think there’s no need to guess which route I took.

It also reminds me of a poor man’s version of a marinated leg of lamb my mother makes every spring, which involves whole sprigs of rosemary, lots of garlic, soy sauce, an entire bottle of red wine, and a slumber party in the fridge before the leg meets its delicious fate on the grill.

As I have neither a grill nor the willpower to manhandle a whole leg of lamb, and certainly am not in the business of planning dinners ahead, I’m left with this shortcut. While it might not measure up to the one I get to have every year, it’s nevertheless delicious. And if you are the kind of person who can manage to organize an overnight stay in the fridge for these lamb chops, I think you’ll be duly rewarded. Let me know how it is, since I can only imagine.

Red Wine & Rosemary Lamb Chops

Serves 4. Adapted ever so slightly from Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day.

8 lamb loin chops

1/2 c. red wine

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. mint jelly

2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lay the chops in a big Pyrex or other large, shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk the wine, vinegar, jelly, rosemary, and mint. Pour the marinade over the lamb and let sit, covered, at room temperature for an hour (or refrigerate overnight). Turn the chops several times while they marinate. Once you’re ready to go, heat two saute pans on high heat. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then sear them, cooking about 5 minutes on each side for rare to medium rare.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of March 17
March 17, 2011, 6:19 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up

I’m here to canvas the food blogs, so you don’t have to. Some highlights this week:

The Siftster falls all over himself to give Veritas three twinkling stars and also manages to slip in a little New York Times-ified vernacular: “Haters are going to hate.” Ocean and Land, a magical combination of lobster tail and roasted bone marrow, is apparently fabulous, as is the Beef in Transition, which features tartare, sirloin, and short ribs. And of course, this being Veritas, there’s plenty to drink with that too.

Restaurant Girl does a solid round-up of venues for various occasions – one more helpful answer for that endless question, “Where should I have my party?”

The Immaculate Infatuation boys slip down to Austin for SXSW, and check out some good eats Texas-style. If you’re ever in the area, now you know where to go.

Danny at Food in Mouth has a horrible, horrible picture of a practically meatless “Coppa” pie he received at Co. Avoid that fennelled fate and stick to the regular menu.

If you’re looking to do something good for Japan and also your stomach, Fork in the Road has a list of places donating a portion of their profits to the cause.

The Serious Eats team checks out Food 32, the food court in Koreatown, and deems it quite good, even good enough for a repeat visit. From noodles to pork chops and something delicious called the Milk Toaster, apparently there really is something for everyone.

Brownie’s Cheddar Waffles & Eggs Huntington at Buttermilk Channel were obviously a sign just for me, and that sign is that I need to go to Buttermilk Channel for brunch.

Lastly, Yvo at The Fiesty Foodie checks out M. Wells, and though there were some misses among the dishes her group tried, she says it’s definitely still worth making the trip.

Honey-Chipotle Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes
March 15, 2011, 7:00 am
Filed under: Recipes

Yesterday morning I sauntered into the kitchen after a weekend away to find the Ninja busily preparing his morning cup of coffee. (He uses a Moka pot for his Stumptown coffee and has visions of switching over to Chemex. Don’t even get me started.) I noticed a small jar filled with amber-colored liquid on the counter that wasn’t there when I left last week, with an orange price tag on the top that read “$11.99.”

“I got you some honey,” the Ninja said. “It’s local, from New York!”

It took me a moment to, ah, add it all up. “You paid $12 for some honey!?!” I cried. “Are you kidding?”

The Ninja became incredibly indignant. “She keeps her bees on a rooftop on 84th Street! You can’t get much more local than that! She was at the health food store and I talked to her! She is a nice lady.”

It is at this point that I realized I’d woken up in Bizarre-o World, where my brother is an UES SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom for you newbies) who spends time chatting with people hawking stuff at the health food store and makes outrageous, unnecessary purchases, and I’m the Working Dad who chastises him for said outrageous purchases. $12 for some honey!?

“I thought you would like it,” he said. “Well, I do,” I replied, “But remember we have friends who can get honey from home and they’ll give us theirs!”

Mr. UES SAHM was unsatisfied with my answer, and it seemed I had ruffled his feathers a bit. I resolved to do the nice thing and make something for dinner that will incorporate said $12 honey. It worked delightfully, and we’re both placated for now – until he swans home with another ridiculous purchase, anyway.

Lastly, a side note: I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but until now this little blog has mostly existed in a vacuum; I haven’t acknowledged events occurring outside this funny little space I call my own. Ironically, what’s happening in Japan now is so big and so terrible that I can’t even put words around it.  Catastrophe? Terror? Wholesale destruction? None really comes close. I can’t imagine what it is like there right now, as they contemplate a nuclear meltdown. Ruth Reichl wrote about this a few days ago, and like many others, it resonated with me too. If you want to give, here’s a list of resources. If you are looking for someone there, or have information about someone, Google has a page for that too.

Honey-Chipotle Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potatoes

Via Sassy Radish, who adapted it from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. Serves 3.

2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

lots of olive oil – about 6 Tbsp.

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt + lots of freshly ground pepper, plus more for the potatoes

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

chopped cilantro and limes for garnish

In a small bowl, stir together 3 Tbsp. olive oil, the minced chipotles, garlic, honey, vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Taste and correct for seasoning. Throw the chicken into a large Ziploc bag and add the honey-chipotle mixture; squeze the air out and let it marinate for 2-3 hours, refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 400º. Toss the diced sweet potatoes with the remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, and lots of salt and pepper. Scatter in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Pull the pan out, shove the potatoes together, and then place the marinated chicken breasts on top of the potatoes. Drizzle with a bit of the marinade and then roast for another 25 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro and the juice of half a lime.

Feeling lazy and want some veggies with that? Toss some bite-size pieces of broccoli in a bowl with 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground cumin, a bunch of olive oil (I usually use about 4 Tbsp), and lots of salt and pepper. Add it to the baking sheet when you add the chicken, and roast it alongside the potatoes. Toss once, at the 15 minute mark. Protein, vegetable and carb all on one baking sheet? I couldn’t be more pleased.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of March 10
March 10, 2011, 9:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m here to canvas the food blogs, so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:

The Siftster does a neat trick, bestowing two glowing stars on Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster while declaring the food to be “just fine.”

Danny of Food in Mouth has a hilarious write-up of his recent venture out to Buttermilk Channel, and despite the warnings of an hour-plus-long-wait, I’m still totally intrigued.

Over at The Awl, Neel Shah also takes an entertaining look at the horrible, horrible process of divvying up the bill after a group dinner. My take? Please. Just. Fork. Over. The. Cash.

Fork in the Road does a round-up of the 10 best vegetarian street foods, with Taïm Mobile topping the list.

Grub Street brings news that dilapidated Pier A in Battery Park is about to become a brand-spanking-new restaurant at the hands of the team behind Harry’s Steak and Financier.

And Gael Greene talks to Zarela Martinez, of the now sadly shuttered Zarela, and learns that Martinez is hoping to open a new, customer-owned version, somewhere downtown.

Lastly, if you’re looking for new reading material, Carol of Alinea at Home writes a wonderful review of  Life, on the Line, the new book by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. I can’t wait to read it. Plus, she’s giving away two copies! Get in there.

Flounder with Garlic & Lime
March 8, 2011, 7:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is not the thing to make if you are cooking for more than two; for the three of us, I needed two saute pans and it got a little, er, heated in the kitchen. For two, though, it’s quick and delicious.

I love that you don’t have to flip the fish; the filets I had were large and in charge and it would have been disastrous. It’s a simple process: cook the fish in some oil, then in a bit of lime juice; remove the fish and make the sauce in the pan. I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly in the name of laziness and lack of ingredients. And there will be a lot of sauce – it’s the same proportions as the original recipe, which served 4, though here it only serves 2. So apologies for the sauciness, which I also tweaked by adding a heaping half teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the garlic oil, and adding that to the sauce earlier than called for. I also took the liberty of adding some white wine, and it was met with cheers and applause all around. Well, ok, maybe I was the only one applauding – but it still counts, right? Right?

This is a good one to have in the repertoire; something about the limey sauce hits the spot on a cold, cold night, when the Ninja’s been talking nonstop about smoothies and “living gluten free, except for those cookies I had today,” and all you have to look forward to are three-week-old reruns of House Hunters.


Flounder with Garlic & Lime

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Serves 2.


1/4 c. neutral oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

heaping 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

lots of salt and pepper

2 flounder filets, about 1/2 lb. each; season with salt and pepper before added to the pan

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2ish limes) + 1 tbsp. lime juice

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 c. dry white wine

1/2 c. chopped cilantro


In a small saucepan, heat 2 tbsp. oil, the garlic and the red pepper flakes over medium heat, shaking occasionally, until the garlic is brown but not burnt (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. In a large, heavy saute pan, heat the remaining oil and let it get hot, for at least a minute. Add the fish and cook for about two minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the 1/4 c. lime juice and tomatoes, and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fish is fully cooked through. Remove the fish to a platter and keep warm. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan; let it boil down for a few minutes before adding in the garlic oil. Taste for seasoning, then remove from heat, stir in the cilantro and the last tbsp. of lime juice, and spoon over the fish. Serve with rice.

Restaurant Round-Up for the Week of March 3
March 3, 2011, 7:44 am
Filed under: Restaurant Round-Up

Hey kiddos! I’m here to canvas the food blogs, so you don’t have to. A few highlights this week:

The Siftster drops a bomb – zero stars!!! – on Michael Psilakis’ Fish Tag. Sadly, it appears these things run in the family; the restaurant is in the space that was formerly Gus & Gabriel….which also received zero stars from the New York Times. But if you go, be sure to order the “marvelous” lamb burger.

It seems Cats Quote Charlie Sheen and Sheen vs. Gaddafi are old news; now restaurants are getting in the game. Grub Street has a round-up of a few places with Sheen-themed eats or drinks, and something tells me that list will only get longer. But not to worry – you can still Live the Sheen Dream if you’d like.

The boys at Immaculate Infatuation review two classics this week: Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, which is still excellent despite being put on Eater’s Deathwatch….in 2007; and Yakitori Totto, where you need to “stick” with the yakitori avoid terrible, terrible puns and just order the yakitori because it’s all delicious.

Erin Frankel of New York Social Diary files a nice write-up of Il Buco, the Bond St. classic that’s been around since 1994. The burrata with watermelon radish looks pretty nice, and I’m mostly delighted it’s not another beet and goat cheese salad. The menu changes every day, but we won’t be led astray with the Mediterranean-influenced Italian menu.

The Serious Eats Team weighs in on Rubirosa, the old-school Italian restaurant that recently opened in Nolita. The chicken parmigiana, lasagna for two, and the pizza are all stand-outs; the rice balls and Rubirosa salad less so.

Community Board 3 just passed new guidelines for development that may affect the Essex Street Market, which Fork in the Road writes has been at its current location for 70 years. Cynthia Lamb has created an online petition to prevent that from happening; you can sign it here and help them reach their goal of 2,000 signatures.

If you read Midtown Lunch you know everyone’s crazy about kimchi tacos, and it was a sad day when the LA-based Kogi BBQ Truck announced it was no longer pursuing an expansion into New York. Well, thankfully, the long-awaited Kimchi Taco Truck has finally made its debut. Though it’s been sticking to LIC of late, word on the street is they’ll try to hit Midtown soon. See you there.

Tarragon Chicken & Sauteed Zucchini with Almonds and Basil
March 2, 2011, 7:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Inexplicably, I have friends who look to me as some kind of “authority” on food solely because I have a blog – like I actually know what I’m doing or something. It was for this reason that I found myself at my friends’ apartment on Monday night, cooking dinner for them and assuring them that, really, they can do this too. Then I dropped an empty pot, which clattered onto the floor and probably woke the neighbors below, and kind of melted one of their baking sheets. That’s me, knowing what I’m doing!

Honestly though, despite my clumsiness and inability to time things correctly (almost burning the side dish before the chicken was cooked through), this one really is a no-brainer. The chicken gets broiled, which makes quick work of things, and the side dish – sauteed zucchini with almonds and basil, which comes from Smitten Kitchen via the Red Cat, is really excellent. I stirred in a bunch of basil at the end and converted even the (lone) zucchini-hater at the table.

My friends claim dinner was delicious – or are they just saying that because they know I have a blog?



Broiled Mustard Tarragon Chicken Breasts

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen. Serves 2.

The sauce for the chicken is so delicious, I wanted more to drizzle over the chicken, even if it was only room temperature. The key, as Alexandra notes, is to use a lot of tarragon – more than you’d think. It’s a mild herb, so don’t be afraid of going overboard.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

juice of 1/2 a lemon

lots of salt and pepper

Preheat the broiler to high. Oil a rimmed baking pan with olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients; taste, and correct for seasoning. Smear less than half of the mixture on each breast, then broil for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken, smear the rest of the mixture on the other side, then broil for 4-5 more minutes or until cooked through (depending on your broiler and your chicken and all that, you may need more time). Serve with the zucchini and almonds; recipe below.

Sauteed Zucchini with Almonds & Basil

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen, who had it at the Red Cat. Serves 4ish.

I used way more sliced almonds than the recipe calls for, because I love them. The basil is also an addition. Just wait until the chicken’s done before you throw this together – there’s no need to freak out about cooking two things correctly when you can just freak out about only one.

3 zucchini, cut into matchsticks if you can swing it, or sliced in half-moon shapes if you can’t

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/3 c. sliced blanched almonds

lots of salt and pepper

lots of fresh basil, torn

Heat a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil; let it get hot but not smoking. Add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper, and stir, just until the zucchini is heated through. If you’ve chopped them into matchsticks, it will take a hot minute; if you’ve sliced them into half-moons, it’ll take a bit longer. Once everything is warmed through, remove from heat and stir in the fresh basil.