Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fresh Fish ala NYC/Greece

So I’m about to fly off to Greece tomorrow and I thought I’d just post one last time to hold you over (although I’ve been pretty bad lately..sorry it’s the summer! My apologies). Anyways, Mediterranean cuisine is probably one of my most favorite types of food so I’m pretty excited to explore the traditional meals and the fresh fish. I’ve already made a reservation at Nobu’s restaurant in Mykonos – Matsuhisa, which apparently they also have in LA.

Last night I actually went out to dinner to celebrate my Mom’s birthday at Aquagrill. We opted there for the convenience to my work and the fresh fish. My mom kept saying she liked the ‘variety.’ To be honest, I didn’t think it was so diverse but I always love fish so I can’t complain. The restaurant was good, but I wouldn’t go stark raving mad over it. I had the Chilean turbot served over cucumber and crab risotto. They give you a lot of fish; two nice size fillets and the sauce was pretty good; complimenting the fish well. For app, I had the warm octopus salad- this also, pretty good..but I was kind of testing my limits because I’m not really a fan of anything with suction cups on legs. They prepped it so that it was the least tentacley and leggy that it could possibly be and it was pretty tasty. My sister had the bonito sashimi and Japanese eggplant for starter and I thought that was tasty and extremely fresh as well.

I’ve heard some pretty good things about aquagrill but I really wasn’t blown away. Maybe I’m just too excited for the literally ‘just caught, fresh off the boat’ fish that I will be experiencing in Greece? In any case, there will definitely be a post or two when I return to the states whether to describe the tastes and smell of the Greek Islands or the over-abundance of alcohol…see you in 10 days!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mark Ronson makes me blush...

So every now and then I feel the need to write about something else other than food. After going to the Mark Ronson concert on Wednesday night, I was going to post about the best show I've been to in a very long time. But my good friend L.Dawg already did--so here's a link to her blog and post: Generator 79. But seriously, really great album (Version), amazing special guests, and nobody can help the fact that Mark is a cutie pie.

Monday, July 9, 2007

CPK arrives in Manhattan

It's hard to imagine that I would even become remotely excited over a place that hands out beepers when there's a wait at the restaurant--but on a late night trip home from some bar; my friends and I eyed the newly opened California Pizza Kitchen from the cab half reminiscing half salivating. The next day being July 4th; we pondered what we considered to be an amazing idea which could only include pizza, Doogs's rooftop, some fireworks and a man we like to consider 'nice.'

So after we enjoyed 10 dollar beers at the yankees game (in seats that were beyond amazing might I add-Thanks Ging!); we rang in a call to our friend; waited for the response and assaulted the CPK menu online. All of the personal pizza options were too much to handle from Garlic Chicken to 3 cheese to the classic bbq chicken. Each of us went back and forth on our decisions. Garlic Shrimp or Vegetarian with goat cheese? Tandoori chicken or thai? Finally, an hour and a half later our friend said he'd stop by and we were ready to place our orders. We decided we'd all get differenct pizzas to make swapping more fun. I got the bbq chicken, a.duh got the garlic shrimp, my sis the thai, and doogs the tandoori with mango. When we were ready to call in the order, we found out because of the holiday there were no deliveries. Bravely, we decided our hearts had been set and a.duh and i would make the 6 block trek to the actual restaurant (oh! The horror). Anyways all was well worth it; we got all the goods, prepped accordingly, ate a slice, make our swaps and created a 'half time' for the frieworks.

Somehow I forgot about the deliciousness of chain-dining; but I guess you cant go wrong when theres cheese bread and various sauces involved. Now if only the next chain to arrive into the island of Manhattan was the Cheesecake Factory...

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Lately I don’t know what it is but I’ve been returning to my roots…and by roots, I truly don’t mean my heritage- I mean my first love of food- Italian. The first cheese I ever liked-- Mozzarella; the first sauce I ever learned how to cook- Sicilian tomato sauce; and the cuisine that I consider to be one of my first loves. This adoration shortly expanded into all Mediterranean food including Greek, Turkish and other European food like French, but I will also hold a very dear place in my heart for the food from the country shaped like a boot.

I hadn’t actually eaten the get-down-and-dirty rich type of Italian food for awhile as I had been trying intensely to stay away from Pasta (Lean Cuisine Meals surely don’t count although they make a decent substitute). About a month and a half ago, a friend took me to Frank’s for my birthday. The little place in the east village is cozy with unnoticeable signage and a number of tables outside. The place is packed so definitely expect to wait. It also sort of reminds me of Bar Piti; not in décor but in food. We waited at the busy bar to enjoy the wonderful weather and people watch while we enveloped the classic Italian fare: starting with the burrata Mozzarella with beefsteak tomatoes and a salad with grilled mushrooms. We knew half-way through our appetizers we had ordered too much as usual and our eyes proved to be much larger than our stomachs. We both ordered the fish special for our main: a brozino over sautéed spinach in a garlic and lemon sauce. Fresh and delicious, but we couldn’t help and eye the pasta arriving at every other table around us. Next time, I’d definitely deal with the carbs but overall really awesome.

A few weeks later A.Duh, Doogs and I wanted to get together for a dinner that satisfied our pallets as well as our wallets. We opted on Foccacia, a cute corner restaurants (also with outside seating) on bank street in the west village. We had all been here before and were pleasantly delighted with the homey and warm food, the cozy atmosphere and the reasonable prices. Once again, our eyes were wider than what we could eat and we ordered the eggplant napoleon appetizer along with the Cesar salad. For entrée, this time I went with my gut (literally) and ordered the ear shell pasta with Bolognese sauce which was a nice switch from the usual spaghetti Bolognese; the sauce was delicious and the ear shaped pasta went great with the chopped meat. It was also fresh as ever. Doogs went with the Ravioli in a cream sauce with walnuts which was really great but super super rich; one of those dishes which is difficult to finish just based on the creaminess. As usual, A. Duh went with a dish infused with salmon; a black fettucini (although she opted for regular fettucini) with salmon and peas in a cream sauce. By the end of our meal, we all felt satiated, caught up on each others lives, and rekindled with a restaurant I was fond of. I ended up returning with my sister two weeks later to take her there for her birthday. This time, we split a salad and both got the rigatoni with eggplant (my favorite dish at Foccacia) as its extremely garlicy (mmm) and include my favorite- eggplant!

Cut to about a week ago, I hadn’t seen Ginger in quite some time; she had been frolicking in the Mediterranean (literally!) and busy schedules made coordination hard. So on the night before my Lasik surgery (which is amazing btw), we decided to go for a bite to eat and catch up. We ended up at Crispo; a restaurant Ginger frequents pretty often. I was a little apprehensive and I just assumed the place was over-rated; I mean it is on 14th street by meatpacking. But when we entered the restaurant, it already exceeded my expectation in coziness as it was warmer than I expected and cavernous. We waited at the bar for a table (initially the sat us at a table without any AC, which was NOT going to happen). We ordered a bottle of wine at the bar, which we had to pay for at the bar and couldn’t transfer over to the table; which is a bit annoying but the food was pretty good so I’ll let it go . We ordered an eggplant tapenade to start; which was good—the eggplant was cooked perfectly, not to mushy, not overripe and acidic. One couldn’t help but dip a little bread into it. Ginger and I decided to split the bronzini and the gnocci with duck and parmesan. The bronzini was really fresh and the gnocci was such a nice mix up from the norm, I couldn’t help but love it. The duck complimented the parmesan and savory pasta so well. In any case, the food definitely exceeded my expectations as well. The service was okay; nothing to brag about, but I will say the place was extremely busy even on a Tuesday night at 9. The service wasn’t there to shmooze with you or cater to your undying needs; they were there to take your order and bring your food and that was that.

Overall, 3 cozy places. One- Cozy trendy (Crispo); One Cozy East (Frank’s) but ridiculously busy and close tabled; One Cozy West (Foccacia). Drilling down, I can’t stay away from Bank Street. It’s an adorable street in the west village that is flooded with awesome restaurants (from Extra Virgin to Café Cluny) so its usually my first pick and Focaccia does most things right from food, atmosphere and service (although last time I waited for my check for 30 min..I guess you can’t win every time). Frank’s would be next because it has awesome food that is traditional and homey and in a Italian vibed atmosphere with the potential to watch passerbyers as you sit outside (although almost on top of your neighbor- also if I remember correctly the bartender was cute? Hmm..maybe). Lastly, I would pick Crispo. I wouldn’t ever say no to this place as I really enjoyed the food, but the service isn’t too welcoming and I think you can find equal or better food somewhere else. All in all though, I would return to all of these restaurants as they treat my first love well-Italian fare. And if you know how to cook it well, you will always have my vote.