When I consulted our constantly evolving list of restaurants we want to visit and asked Asheley where she wanted to go for her big birthday celebration, Eleven Madison park was immediately a finalist. Le Bernandin and Atera were also big contenders, but fell short of the mighty judgement from the birthday girl. I think those three shiny Michelin Stars reeled her in, and there was no going back.
So, I did what any loving, amazing, top-notch husband would do. I marked on the calendar precisely 28 days before her birthday to call the restaurant to make a reservation (that’s as far out as they reserve). When I called that morning and after waiting anxiously on hold for about twenty minutes, dinner reservations were already sold out, but openings were available for lunch. Hey, we’re flexible and the menu is the same for lunch and dinner (not to mention that natural lighting for taking photos is better during the day anyway ), so we booked it.
Madison Square Park is one of our favorite areas of the city. We know the area pretty well. But yet we somehow had no idea where Eleven Madison Park exactly was located. My phone GPS had us walk up to a giant office building. This couldn’t be it. It’s a huge skyscraper, with no signs of a dining establishment. And then, tucked in the side of the building under a little overhang, was the grand, marble entrance. Cue music.
We weren’t planning on heading into the city this past weekend. It was actually going to be a nice, lazy Sunday at home. Hang out with Asheley. Do a bit of cooking and develop some new recipes. And start planning our trip to the West Coast this summer (it’s in the very beginning stages… I’ll share more on that once we solidify plans a bit).
But then I totally remembered we had a Groupon for Bareburger that was going to expire in a couple of days! We couldn’t let a great deal just go to waste. So after church we headed to Bareburger’s Chelsea location, just a block away from one of our favorite spots, Chelsea Market.
If you’ve never heard of Bareburger, it is a local micro-chain of burger restaurants located throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Definitely not your average burger joint though. Almost all the food on the menu is organic, including the meat, vegetables, and dairy. And we’re not talking just beef burgers. They offer ostrich, bison, elk, lamb, wild boar, and turkey. With choices like those, who honestly orders beef (or turkey for that matter)? Curiosity alone had me wanting to try one of the rare, exotic meats you rarely see on NYC menus, let alone a NYC burger menu.
My brother tweeted me an article last week from the N.Y. Times which said many upscale restaurants are turning a cold shoulder to cameras. A couple days later, a bunch of other mainstream media sources reported in on the topic as well.
You’ve all seen it. Heck, most of you have probably done it: You’re at a nice restaurant. A beautiful plate of skillfully prepared food is placed down in front of you. You’re excited, so you take out your camera or smartphone to snap a photo. Well, you may want to think again, as apparently some very high profile chefs and restaurants are starting to ban and/or limit photography in their restaurants.
There are two very divided camps on the matter of food photography in restaurants. Some say its highly disruptive to the dining experience, bothering other patrons and messing up the flow of service. The restauranteurs work hard to create a certain ambience, and whipping out your camera takes away from that vibe.
Others argue that they paid for their meal, and they should be allowed to do with it whatever they want. Besides, isn’t sharing your food photos on one of the various social media outlets free publicity for the restaurant? Just the other day I saw a friend post a picture of a dish he was eating from a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try, and that immediately reminded me to make a reservation.
And on the topic of being disruptive, isn’t it equally disruptive when someone’s cell phone starts ringing “Don’t Cha Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?” Or how about when a certain table next to you has one of those really loud, annoying talkers, so you end up having to enjoy their conversation the entire meal instead of your own. Do we start banning cell phones all together? How about loud talkers?
As a food blogger and frequent patron of restaurants, I’m divided on the subject. Can photography be disruptive in a restaurant? Absolutely, especially when the person is inconsiderate. But is capturing those images of food something I really enjoy and part of the blogging process? Totally. It’s hard to talk about and discuss what a great meal I had and convince you why you should go there without any photos to back it up. We do, after all, eat with our eyes first.
So who’s right? And what do chefs think? Is there some happy middle ground where we can all coexist? I, of course, turned to the twitter-verse to ask some of the chefs I follow their opinion on the subject.
Asheley has been running a bunch of 5-Ks the past couple of weeks as part of a Winter Run Series in our area along with Tyler’s Ashley. Personally, I don’t enjoy running. At all. But I will do some running in the warm weather just to enjoy the outside and to appease my running-obsessed wife. Running in the freezing cold though is just plain insane to me.
I’m glad the Asheley/Ashley duo enjoy it, because while they are off at their little cold runs, Tyler and I get time to talk food. This past race day we cooked up and photographed a beautiful Sweet Potato and Kale Hash topped with a Fried Egg. Stay tuned for that recipe this upcoming week. Once the girls returned from their freezing 5K (while Tyler and I were enjoying the warmth of his house with food in hand), we decided to take a little trip into the city to try out Chef April Bloomfield’s newest spot, Salvation Taco.
And then it kind of spiraled outward from there…
So that cleanse that Asheley and I have been doing is officially over. We both are feeling a whole lot better about ourselves, which is a nice change from the fat-fest that ensued during the holiday season. Although we’ve made it a personal goal of ours to try to be a little more health-conscious overall for the start of 2013, we had to celebrate the end of our cleanse with a little indulgence!
This past Sunday we headed into Brooklyn to eat at Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s new restaurant, Krescendo, which just opened a couple months back. Chef Falkner had previously already made quite the name for herself as chef/partner of the popular Citizen Cake and Orso in San Francisco, but lucky for us, decided to leave the West Coast and set up shop right here in Brooklyn.
Chef Falkner has become quite recognizable over the past several years, making various TV appearances on Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, two different seasons of The Next Iron Chef competition, and a smattering of other culinary shows. I’ve always been quite intrigued by the dishes she came up with on The Next Iron Chef. She was a solid contender on both seasons and consistently brought great food to the judges table. And although she previously carried the stigma of only being a tremendous pastry chef, Chef Falkner quickly proved that she’s more than just cakes and ice cream.
It was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving when Tyler, my good friend and techie-guru behind Shared Appetite, emailed me a link of a recipe he found for an adaptation of Crack Pie, with the addition of Nutella. If you’ve never heard of Crack Pie, made famous byNYC’s Momofuku Milk Bar, well… I’ll get to that in a minute. Just know for now that you have been missing out, big time, if you never had the chance to try it.
Crack Pie in itself is absolutely amazing. Add nutella into the mix, and I could barely hold my excitement. I immediately knew what I was going to make for Thanksgiving dessert this year. Oh heck yea.
But then fast forward to a day or two before Thanksgiving. I was watching my wife eat her daily dose of animal crackers, which she enthusiastically dips into our jar of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (their version of the Speculoos). And it hit me… Crack Pie… with… you might want to sit down… Speculoos!
Following the consumption of said pie on Thanksgiving and the subsequent days of leftover gluttony, friends and family have been asking for this recipe more than any other. And I ask, who am I to disappoint?
Spending a lot of time in the Lower East Side recently, I’ve grown accustomed to and thoroughly enjoy those delicious dumplings served up over at C & C Prosperity. They are the perfect $1 treat in between my typical stops at Doughnut Plant, The Meatball Shop, and Big Gay Ice Cream.
But for a while now I’ve wanted to head down a bit to Chinatown and do a little dumpling tour, stopping at some of the best known spots for dumplings to have a look… or more accurately, taste. And as I quickly found out, you never even have to leave Eldridge Street. How convenient is that?!
So one late afternoon, Asheley and I headed down… headed down to Chinatown:
Chelsea. It’s one of my favorite NYC neighborhoods, and one that my wife and I hold near and dear to our heart (we got engaged in Chelsea Market). Gastronomically, there are some great options in Chelsea, including awesome mini beef tacos at Sue Torres’ Sueños, Jim Lahey’s pizza at Co. and bread at Sullivan Street Bakery, various treats within Chelsea Market, and an outpost of Doughnut Plant and Artichoke Basille’s Pizzeria. Oh… Oh! And who can forget Restaurant Morimoto and Mario Batali’s Del Posto. But do you know what could make Chelsea even better? What would make Chelsea even more of a culinary hotspot? A legit sandwich joint.
Look no more… Welcome to Rocket Pig. Chef Ralf Kuettel opened up this little treasure just this past June, literally steps away from his casual Swiss brasserie Trestle on Tenth. Check out why his sandwich shop has locals going crazy…
Do you want to learn how to speak Khmer, the official language of Cambodia? Well actually, just maybe one very important word. A word anyone that may ever remotely be in the Union Square area should memorize: Num Pang. Go ahead, say it. Say it again. Memorize it. Meaning ”sandwich” or “bread” in Khmer, Num Pang is not only a tasty word, it’s quite the tasty place.
Owned by Ben Daitz and Ratha Chaupoly, Num Pang has a unique line-up of Cambodian-inspired sandwiches. They offer a wide variety of sandwiches that will make carnivores, vegetarians, and everyone in between happy as can be. Just make sure to bring cash to cover your meal, which shouldn’t be hard considering sandwiches are around $8. Although there is also a Num Pang location right by Grand Central (140 E. 41st Street between Lexington and 3rd Ave.), I have only been to the one just around the corner from Union Square (21 12th Street between 5th Ave. and University Place).
So what exactly is a Cambodian sandwich?
Sometimes you are in the mood for that fancy, elusive dinner at the newest trendy restaurant that every blog and social media outlet are buzzing about. But then there are those times when you want some cheap, filling, totally satisfying, down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness comfort food. It still has to be really tasty, but the chefs don’t need tweezers to plate the food and you don’t need a reservation several months ahead of time (or, like the newest “trendy” restaurants, hope for a table because they don’t even take reservations).
Welcome to the Lower East Side’s C & C Prosperity Dumpling, where $1 has never tasted so good. If you have $2 to spare, you can eat like royalty. With the extreme popularity of the original Prosperity Dumpling located just a short distance away on Eldridge Street in Chinatown, this sister dumpling joint is located in the heart of the Lower East Side at 69 Clinton Street.