NYC: Weekend Eats: New Amsterdam Market, Otto, and ABC Kitchen

Jasper Hill Farm: Moses Sleeper (Raw Cow’s Milk Cheese)

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I’ll get all the France posts up soon, but here’s a taste of NYC in the meantime :)

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After my Open House yesterday, I went down to the New Amsterdam Market for some quality alone time. The market is at the Fulton Fish Market all the way downtown and it took me an hour to get there from Chelsea with all the subway and bus changes…everything was out of service! Man. Once I was there, I dove straight for a beautiful loaf of Cabernet Rustica ($3) from Orwasher’s Bakery. This bread is one the four types of wine breads that Orwasher produces from their Upper East Side bakery.

I then walked a few stands over to Saxelby Cheesemongers for a quarter pound of Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farm, a bloomy, soft, and mild raw cow’s milk comparable to camembert (though this is more earthy, mushroom-y) and priced at $20 per pound. Oh! And if you’re a fan of blue cheese, Jasper Hill Farm also makes my favorite blue of all time: the Bayley Hazen Blue, nutty and grassy, a dry blue. You might recall this as the cheese I used to sneak into the movies with a bottle of wine, hehe ;)

And just to balance out my lunch, one last stop at Table Tales for a small serving of penne pasta with Sunday Gravy ($5), a truly warm and hearty concoction of slow braised pork, sausages, and beef meatballs, and San Marzano tomatoes. I also got a jar of their Tomato-Basil Sauce ($6) for a simple weeknight dinner. I brought my pile of food to a nearby bench and had an afternoon feast with views of the water. Not bad, huh? ;)

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Two seasonal favourites at Otto. This is the single restaurant I visit most often in NYC, and for good reason! Seats at the bar are best, for it’s a completely different (inferior) dining experience when you’re at table in the dining room (loud! impersonal! chaotic!). But onto the good things! First, the Bucatini alla Pastora ($12), an addictive saucy pasta finish with plops of creamy, silky fresh ricotta. You’ll want extra bread to go with this dish…soak up alll the gravy. They featured this same dish around January last year, so here’s hoping it will appear frequently as a weekly special during the cold months.

…and the Heirloom Caprese Salad ($16). Sliced local tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and a whole ball of fresh mozzarella, quartered. All the other Otto salads are priced at $8, so this one is a double splurge, but definitely worth it.

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ABC Kitchen: Chicken Liver Toast

Monsieur P and I have been on a movie watching spree lately, watching one a week for the last three weeks! Can you believe that tickets are nearly $13 a person for the theatres??! Crazy. We saw The Social Network the first week, then Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps the following week. I absolutely loved the first Wall Street, but this sequel was mediocre at best. The only thing I enjoyed about the movie was seeing the loft that Shia LaBeouf’s character owns. He sells it for $4.5M in the movie (with original asking of $6M). But in “real life” that loft is not a 1-bedroom loft, but a 10-bedroom penthouse loft at 31 West 21st Street for sale at $15M. Mind boggling.

ABC Kitchen: House Cut Fries

This week we saw The Town which was a solid, action/suspense film. In one scene of the movie they mention Dorchester, a not-so-safe neighborhood in Boston that happens to have a ton of great Vietnamese restaurants. My parents and I drove to that neighborhood when we visited Boston in August and there was a shooting in the neighborhood that very evening. Scary, and won’t be returning, but our dinner at Pho Hoa Restuarant was quite good.

Our movie finished just after 11pm and we walked a block south to ABC Kitchen for late and light dinner. Cocktails and a few shared dishes…Chicken Liver Toast ($9), and a bowl of House Cut Fries ($6) tossed with fried parsley, ketchup on the side. They were kind enough to split our potions of Housemade Ricotta Ravioli ($14) onto individual plates, served with sauteed field greens, olive oil, and lemon.

My favorite dish of the night was the Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad ($13). The carrots were spicy and tender, the avocado perfectly ripe. A mix of toasted, crunchy seeds and croutons topped the salad along with a dollop of sour cream. Who needs dressing when you have sour cream, right? :) Note, the photo above is also of a half-portion.

…And that was my weekend! Now onto another week…fingers crossed this will be a good one!

Addresses:
New Amsterdam Market
Sundays 11am-4pm at the Fulton Fish Market
Check website for schedule as they’re not open every Sunday

Otto
1 Fifth Avenue
NY, NY 10003
(212) 995-9559

ABC Kitchen
35 E 18th Street
NY, NY 10003
(212) 475-5829

Sugar Rushed…

…for the week at Serious Eats New York. Plus, my top five favourite desserts from SWEET 2010, and ‘Lunch for One‘ at the newest location of Birdbath Bakery in Tribeca.

SWEET 2010: The Top Five Desserts

Good Morning: Spice Muffins at ABC Kitchen

Sugar Rush: Honey and Agave Lemonade and Limeade at Three Tarts


Lunch for One: Birdbath Tribeca

Sugar Rush: Raspberry Lemon Pudding at Buttercup Bake Shop

Sugar Rush: Christopher Norman’s Hot Chocolate and Brownies

Sugar Rush: Les Canelés de Céline

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

France: In Brittany, Lunch at the Farm

We were in France for all of two short weeks, starting and ending our holiday in Paris. And in the middle, we went to Brittany for a few nights along the beach in Carnac, and took a day trip to see Monsieur P’s grandmother who resides in a town so small it doesn’t have an official name.

His grandmother prepared a fantastic feast when we arrived precisely at noon. She swung open the front doors to the country home before we even turned off the car engine, ushering us in with glasses of port, and buttery biscuit cookies. She lives on a farm, where she has resided her entire life, raising cows for milk and chickens for eggs. And of course, there was the dog, loyal and sternly watching our every move.

We spent the entire day eating, with a meal that spanned five hours, starting with individual servings of Coquilles St. Jacques, a dish of scallops baked in cream with shallots and white wine. The ramekins were topped in breadcrumbs before a quick broil in the oven. The only utensil required? Baguettes! Can you just imagine how fantastic that was? Soaking up the sauce, picking up the fresh scallops with in every bite? The fact that it was quite chilly out that day made this meal all the more perfect. I dunked the bread in with abandon and then realized that his grandmother had a much better method of first slathering the baguette with salted butter and then dipping it into the cream. Butter, then cream, got it?

Post-port, we switched over to red wine, and out came a roasted chicken which I oohed over until…I saw the potatoes. Now these potatoes, they are famous. Monsieur P has talked nonstop about them since we planned the holiday. He only had one word to describe them: BUTTERY. I took his word for granted…they’re not just buttery, they’re saturated in butter. The potatoes are cubed and literally boiled in butter. A pot full of butter. Then, removed and pan-fried in butter till the surfaces are all crisp and golden. Butter-boiled, and butter-fried. If you gently tap your fork on the potato, the tines will stick, that’s how buttery they are. A little salt goes a long way and that was all we needed to elevate this to pure bliss. The photo above is from what must have been my fourth helping of these butter potatoes. I only stopped because Monsieur P gave me the slightest nudge, looked at my belly and then looked at my eyes….there’s a lot of butter in those potatoes.

But oh! That’s not the best part. Heheh. Grandmother poured off the chicken drippings, fat and everything, into a cup. She served us the potatoes on a plate and then proceeded to douse the butter potatoes with glossy fat drippings. And only then could we eat!

His grandmother can’t speak English and I have yet to learn French (soon!), but conversation was not nearly as awkward as I feared. I think she liked me just because I ate everything, heh. She had an intense amount of energy, enthusiasm and an equally hearty appetite – Monsieur P and I were exhausted just trying to keep up with her!

A brief break after the last potato was devoured and then out came a salad, simple greens, a mustard vinaigrette. Then a plateful of cheese (did you expect anything else? ;). Monsieur P pounced on a soft round of goat milk cheese, cutting a generous wedge and smearing it over his baguette, “I haven’t had this once since I was a kid!” And of course, it turned out that grandmother got it just got the occasion. Too sweet for words :) There was tea and coffee to finish, an apple tart from the market…
…and then a tour (led by the dog!) through the farm…
…this cow is only a few weeks old!

Just before 4pm, we were called back for goûter, an afternoon snack…
…On the agenda? Far Breton we bought at the Sunday market in Carnac earlier that morning. Think of it as a custard tart, minus the shell (with a texture not too far off from clafoutis) and studded with dried prunes. Have you ever had the Bagel Pudding from Russ & Daughters in NYC? That coincidentally enough, comes very close to the flavor of far Breton.

We polished off the far Breton rather quick while a round of Kouign Amann, (purchased from the same Sunday market) warmed up in the oven…here it comes!!!
Now will you look at that! First check it out from the side…
…and the back. Golden! Caramelized sugar and quantities of salted butter that was almost excessive, an exterior well-browned and crusty. I started off with a fork, then decided to use my fingers as it made for a much more satisfying bite, breaking throw the flaky exterior, and down the many buttery sweet layers. Like the most intense croissant you’ve imagined, turned into a cake with sugar caramelized between each and every layer. Surely the most wonderful product of caramelization. One wedge, and then two wedges…it was a shame I didn’t have room for a third.

More tea concluded our visit, then big hugs and kisses, “au revoir!” We made the two-hour drive back to Carnac with happy butter-padded bellies. There was a walk along the beach near sunset, and a late, “light” dinner of fresh seafood…mussels, shrimp, crab, and snails, at a local restaurant. A fairytale day? You bet!

Paris: Our Daily Café Express

In Paris we had a routine.

Lazy wake-up around 9am, white curtains and French doors, soft-hued flowers along the window. We stayed in a beautiful apartment, with many thanks to Monsieur P’s godfather, in a location almost too perfect to imagine.

The weather hovered in the low 60s our entire visit, calling for knitted fall sweaters, and the tall black riding boots Monsieur P bought me one afternoon. We’d get dressed and walk over to a neighborhood café in the 7th. He preferred to visit the same café every morning, but upon my insistence (persistence? ;) we went to different cafés each day. Why?

Well you see, we always ordered the same thing: an espresso each, or café express if you prefer.

But each place would present their café express differently, some offering a treat on the side. Certain places gave squares of dark chocolate while others offered crunchy, biscotti-like cookies. And some places didn’t give anything.

But the places where the best goodies were given were not at traditional cafés with outside seats arranged theater style, all facing outwards, but at proper restaurants. At A Priori Thé, an order of café express was accompanied by the tiniest chocolate chip cookie, a subtle nod to the owner’s American roots.

And at Cuisine de Bar, a lunch spot best known for tartines, buttery cookie “spoons” was delivered in place of a traditional spoon. The spoons are baked in-house, but come from the boulangerie next door. Perhaps you might know it? A famous little place by the name of Poilâne ;) We’ll talk more about their glorious tarte aux pommes next time…::drool::

It was hard deciding whether to take our daily café express at an actual café or restaurant. Which was more important: the setting or the “goodies” that accompanied the café express? In the end, the cafés won our hearts, because we could linger at our outdoor table for hours with conversation and books (I read the entire Millennium trilogy on this trip!). And when our eyes tired of reading, there was plenty of people watching to do!

As for the café express themselves…none were exceptional, but it was certainly the experience as a whole, and not just the drink alone, that proved most important.

Sugar Rush’ed…

…for the week at Serious Eats New York. Plus a look at the Pesto-Grilled Pizza from North Shore Farms (at the KCC Market…hooray, Hawai’i!!!), ‘Lunch for One’ and ‘A Sandwich a Day’ posts ^_^

Lunch for One: François Payard Bakery

Sugar Rush: Chocolate-Banana Cream Pie at Two Little Red Hens

Sugar Rush: Lemon Cake from La Maison du Chocolat

Daily Slice: Pesto Grilled Pizza from North Shore Farms in Honolulu

Lunch for One: Via Emilia

Sugar Rush: Sweet Melissa’s Cinnamon Marshmallows

Sugar Rush: Yerba-Maté Ice Cream at Cones

A Sandwich a Day: Valley Shepherd Creamery’s Brielle and Ham

Sugar Rush: Cha-Chas by Lark Fine Foods

Hope everyone has a great weekend! ^_^