Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trip Review...Part 1...NYC

My husband travels frequently for work. So when he goes somewhere good (and by that I mean somewhere that has good food) I always try to tag along. This past job took him/us to NYC and Boston for 3 days each. For my husband the trip was all about work; for me it was all about the food.
Our first night in NY we headed to Guantanamera, a Cuban restaurant near Central Park. It was 8pm on a Tuesday night and the place was hopping. There was a live band and a man hand rolling Cuban cigars for patrons to take as they left.
Not at all in a rush to get back to our hotel room (we were given a smoking room by "mistake" and it smelled horrible) we ordered two mojitos and some appetizers and settled in to enjoy the music.
Several mojitos, and a huge plate of fried calamari later, we ordered our entrees. My husband got the oxtail which was braised in a red wine sauce and served with mashed sweet plantains. He said it was very tender and good.
I got the sea bass. It was cooked in a light tomato sauce, served on top of a bed of fava beans and surrounded with clams. It was really fresh and delicious. The music continued on for several hours and people even started dancing. All in all it was a very enjoyable evening.
Day 2 had us up and out of that horrible smelling hotel room early. We had a NY bagel and Dunkin Donuts' coffee for breakfast. It was the perfect combination. It's funny how two simple foods, bagels and coffee, can taste so good. It must be the water.
The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city. We were able to catch a tour of the NY Public Library, which was awesome. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone with even a little interest in architecture and/or libraries.
By late afternoon it had gotten a bit cold for our Arizona blood so we headed over to my all time favorite building in NYC, Grand Central Station . Not only is the building itself amazing but it's also a great place to people watch. So we got some cupcakes and espresso and enjoyed the scenery.
We met a family friend for dinner that night at Roberto Passon. Located in Hell's kitchen this tiny one room restaurant served up some really good food. I think we were all impressed.
We started our meal with a delicious white asparagus and prosciutto appetizer. The meat and asparagus were drizzled in a brown butter and Parmesan sauce and topped with a poached egg. We cracked the egg and let it mix in with the rest of the dish. I thought it was a wonderful combination of flavors. Although, I'm not sure that our friend Cheryl agreed.
My husband choose the pappardelle with venison as his entree. Topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese; it looked and tasted delicious.
Cheryl ordered the chicken backed with prosciutto and melted cheese served over mashed potatoes. It sounds like a pretty basic dish but it was still really good and such a huge portion.
I ordered the braised rabbit. I was served half a rabbit covered in olives, tomato and red pepper. All of this was sitting on a mound of creamy polenta. The mixture of rabbit tomato and polenta was different and good.
The next day was our travel day to Boston. You can read about our food adventure here. Stay tuned for Trip Report...Part 2...Boston.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'd Rather Eat at Gaetano's...

When I told my friends I was planning to drive from NY to Boston and needed to find a place to have lunch on the way they thought I was crazy. Not because I was in NY or because I was going to be driving but rather because I was planning a lunch "pit stop". I was told by more than one person not to worry "there will be plenty of places to stop for food on the road" Well they were right; there were plenty of places to stop. All fast food. I know you're probably thinking: what did I expect to find on the road. Well with a little effort and planning (really that's all it took) I actually found a great Italian deli. Literally feet from the Stratford exit off I-95 is Gaetano's Deli. Gaetano's is a small store front packed to the gills with Italian specialties. There are shelves filled with dried pastas, glass cases containing various antipasti selections and cured meats hanging from above. It's only downfall is that it doesn't have seating.

The guys behind the counter are all from Brooklyn and seemed to know just about every customer by name. Those they didn't know were still made to feel at home with freshly cut slices of sharp provolone to sample while deciding what to order. A very nice touch.

The menu consists of about 20 or so cold sandwiches, 8 hot dishes, various salads, stuffed breads and most importantly cannoli. I was in heaven. We ordered the "godfather" a side of tortellini salad and a cannoli. Yes, we had to eat it in the car but I'd rather eat good food in the car than fast food on the road any day. So if you find yourself driving between NY and Boston I would highly recommend a "pit stop" in Stratford for some good food. And make sure you tell the boys I sent you!

Gaetano's 1886 Main St. Stratford CT 06615 203-377-8860

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Flintstone Porterhouse

What do you get when you cross Fred Flintstone and a porterhouse? A 3 inch thick, nearly 5 lb, delicious piece of meat. My two favorite chefs are Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich. So when my husband found a recipe for T-bone in Mario's Simple Italian Food cookbook that was very similar to a recipe for porterhouse in Lidia's Italy cookbook I instantly agreed we should give them a try. Both recipes called for a 3 inch thick piece of meat. Who knew when we picked it up from the market that it was going to be Fred Flintstone size. I swear our car was leaning to one side the whole ride home. We decided to combine both Lidia and Mario's recipe and here's what we came up with: Flintstone Porterhouse 1 porterhouse steak, 3 inches thick 1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage 1 Tbs fresh thyme 1 Tbs fresh ground black pepper 2 Tbs grey sea salt 2 Tbs olive oil Mix herbs and oil together to form a paste. Coat the entire steak with the herb/oil mixture. Place the steak on heated charcoal grill. Grill on the first side for 10 minutes. Flip and grill on that side for 10 minutes. Prop up the steak, using tongs, grill all edges for 5 minutes each. Grill in this manner until medium rare. Remove from grill and let the steak rest for 10 minutes before carving. Drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

GREAT GIVEAWAY

I stumbled across a great giveaway over at Bubbles and Squeak. Stop by and check it out; you could win a $50 William Sonoma gift card.
So, what would I buy if I had $50 to spend at William Sonoma? Hmmm. There's a lot to pick from; but my first choice would be the OXO Mandoline. I've been wanting one for awhile now but haven't been able to justify the cost of yet another kitchen gadget. A $50 gift card would sure make that justification a lot easier!