Food Disasters

By grace.g.yang · April 23, 2007
Under: Brunch,Dinner,My Life,Recipes

On Friday night, my friend David had a college themed housewarming party at his new apartment on the west side (right by my old apartment, actually). I brought along Leo since I didn’t think I’d know many people:

We’re a matching couple! :) There was beer pong, taps, and lots of beer (just like a college party!). We didn’t stay too long since it was getting late, but I’m glad David moved into the city (finally) and that he likes his new Ikea-ed out apartment.

On Saturday, since it was so nice outside, I went running in Central Park. It was absolutely packed! I’m glad that the weather has gotten a lot better – now I can finally go outside instead of hiding in my apartment. After running, Chris and I met up to go shopping in my area and went to Bloomingdales to try their frozen yogurt (Forty Carrots). We ordered the plain (not vanilla – they WILL correct you) and chocolate. The plain was actually really good and creamy, like Mister Softee (although Chris likes Pinkberry more). I like Forty Carrots more because:

1. Their portions are HUGE (we couldn’t finish a medium),
2. It’s cheaper than Pinkberry,
3. It’s creamier,
4. Forty carrots is closer to my apartment, which means I can walk there over the summer!!

After frozen yogurt, we went to Whole Foods to buy ingredients to make gnocchi with salmon and peas with salad. I pulled the gnocchi recipe from Michael Chiarello on foodnetwork. Since Chris eats really healthily, I thought it would be a good idea to buy whole wheat flour. MISTAKE #1. Look at our dough:

We also had potatoes left over from the previous week when we made Lobster and Chips, so we baked them and shredded them for the gnocchi (like it says in the instructions). People usually eye recipes, right? Well, we definitely did a really bad job eying the amount of potatoes we put in the recipe because we put around 3 pounds of potatoes into the gnocchi. Mistake #2. I was really frustrated because the dough was too sticky and we kept adding flour to the mixture, but it was really grainy because the flour was whole wheat, not regular unbleached flour. We eventually just gave up and started adding flour until the dough solidified and put the little gnocchi’s into the water to cook. While we were cooking the gnocchi, we were also poaching salmon, boiling water for peas, and making salad dressing. Here’s the final product of the gnocchi with salmon and peas:

It doesn’t look too bad, right? Maybe because I put an entire can of marinara sauce on the gnocchi to mask the taste. :) We bought the marinara from Whole Foods (the store brand) and made it a creamy marinara, which actually tasted really good! I think if we made it again, we’d probably just make a creamy sauce and angel hair pasta. Here’s the table set up:

Chris made the salad dressing this time and was very successful – one part lemon, two parts olive oil, one part red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. We also had mangoes (frozen and from Whole Foods, which we defrosted while we were cooking), which was probably the second best part of the meal (next to the salad Chris made :) ).

So, are you interested in how the gnocchi tasted? Well, Chris said, “I’m trying to find the best way to eat AROUND the gnocchi because the salmon and peas are good.” Thanks. Actually, the marinara was great and I basically had a creamy tomato soup with peas for dinner (I didn’t even like the way the salmon turned out so I ate around THAT, too). On top of not liking the dinner we made, it took two and a half hours to make! We ended up watching Saturday Night Live while eating because it took so long to make everything!!

What we did with the leftover gnocchi:

Well, you can’t win them all, right?

On Sunday, I refused to leave Chris’ kitchen with the idea that I cooked an incredibly disgusting meal the night before, so we decided to have brunch at his place instead of going out. We wanted to recreate Balthazar’s waffles with berries and sour cream for brunch, so we bought brioche bread from Balthazar (available at Whole Foods), and made French toast with berries and sour cream instead (no waffle maker = no waffles). Since the bread was only a day old, it wasn’t as stiff as I would’ve liked (especially for french toast), but we worked with what we had. Chris was in charge of making turkey bacon, I made the French toast and the eggs, and we made the smoothie together from the leftover berries we had. Since we had some extra eggs leftover, I made some scrambled eggs AND eggs over easy. Check out our brunch:

AND check out our seats:

We ate on his patio! I definitely redeemed myself, especially with the scrambled eggs (which were perfect – not too runny and not rubbery at all). We spent the afternoon lounging around, reading magazines, and catching up for the week. For dinner, we headed to John’s Pizzeria and ran into some of my friends from work, so we had an impromptu double date. The pizza, as usual, was awesome and a great way to start the week. This Wednesday – lobster rolls!

Sushi Yasuda

By grace.g.yang · April 19, 2007
Under: Dinner,Grace's Picks,Japanese,Sushi


Last night, Chris and I headed to one of my favourite sushi restaurants in New York: Sushi Yasuda. Getting reservations is pretty tough; we scored two seats at the sushi bar after I called relentlessly for a couple of days. We both ordered the sushi matsu – 12 pieces of sushi from the “matsu menu” and half a roll (you pick). Our sushi chef:

I’m not really good with identifying sushi (unless it’s tuna or salmon since those are easily identifiable). I ordered 2 pieces of tuna, 2 pieces of salmon, 2 pieces of eel, 2 pieces of sea bass, 2 pieces of flank (I think that’s what it’s called), and two random pieces I can’t recall. I also ordered a half roll of the King of the Universe awesomest Salmon available (or something like that). Everything is incredibly fresh and I think I prefer sitting at the sushi bar because you can watch the chef prepare your food (their knives are so sharp!). I was going to wait for all of my sushi to come out before I took the picture, but I was too hungry, so you’ll have to settle for this:

The chef also put a little soy sauce on all of the individual pieces so you didn’t have to – you could just pop the sushi into your mouth! My favorite sushi this time wasn’t the tuna, but instead, was the eel. I’m usually a big fan of eel and you really can’t go wrong with it (at least I haven’t had any really bad eel ever), but this eel was just the right temperature, had the perfect amount of sauce on it, and melted in your mouth. Even Chris, who’s not a fan of eel AT ALL enjoyed it (it reminded him of the cod we had at Nobu the week before). The half roll I got at the end of the meal was the highlight – it was a pale orange (or white) colored salmon that almost tasted like it was pureed (that’s how smooth it was). Here’s the sushi bar that we sat at:

(by the way, sorry for the pictures being slightly blurry – SOMEONE isn’t a fan of using flash in restaurants).

After dinner, we headed to Pinkberry (as usual) and waited in line for some delicious fro-yo. The lines were RIDICULOUS – AND it was raining! I can’t even imagine how the lines are going to be when the weather warms up (this weekend = upper 60′s/70′s). Maybe I should quit my job and open a Pinkberry (Darren, are you in?!).

Sushi Yasuda on Urbanspoon

Weekend Cooking!

By grace.g.yang · April 15, 2007
Under: Brunch,Recipes,West Village

After eating out practically every night since I’m moved to New York (don’t tell my physician!) I decided to FINALLY cook dinner at home. Someone’s home, not my own. On Saturday, Chris and I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Food Emporium in Union Square to make a lobster dinner (he was in the mood for shellfish). I found some interesting recipes online, but the favorite was a lobster and chips recipe from Emeril! I usually don’t like watching Emeril on television because he says Bam! too much, but this recipe looked really easy and sounded GREAT! We had to buy most of the ingredients because Chris didn’t have a lot in his pantry, but now he’s fully stocked for future cooking adventures we’ll have this summer. Here’s our grocery list for the lobster tails:

1. Two lobster tails (we only prepared the tails, even though the original recipe calls for the entire lobster)
2. Ritz crackers
3. Parsley
4. Malt Vinegar
5. Potatoes
6. Lemons

The dish is really easy to make – all you do it crush up the ritz crackers, mix in some chopped up parsley, warmed up butter, and add some lemon juice to make the “crust.” You put the crust on the lobster tails (I cut the shells in half to open the lobsters up) and back at 450 degrees for 25 minutes and you’re done! Here’s what our lobsters looked like before we put it in the oven:

Look at how HUGE the lobster tails were!! Actually, the lobster tails were quite pricey at $20/piece, but they looked pretty fatty, so we decided to splurge (at many points in our grocery shopping, we were tempted to just leave our cart and go out for dinner). While the lobsters were baking, we cut up potatoes to make french fries, I dressed our salad, and we made a sauce for dessert (a berry parfait I thought of while shopping for groceries). We used a basic dressing for our salad – I combined olive oil, lemon juice (leftover from the lobster tails), red wine vinegar (there wasn’t any balsamic in the house), and some salt and pepper. Dinner took a while to prepare because we were working together and prepping everything (cutting, cleaning, frying, baking, etc). Here’s what our table looked like (we opened the wine that I brought back from my visit to Napa Valley):

And a close up of the meal:

The fries were PERFECTLY crisp and slighty chewy on the inside (the perfect browned color, too), and LOOK AT THE CRUST! It was soooo buttery and delicious – who would’ve thought to use Ritz crackers? Thank, you, Emeril! The salad was a nice way to end the meal (European style).

For dessert, we made a berry parfait, which is a really simple but DELICIOUS dessert. Our shopping list for dessert:

1. Cool whip (or you can use ice cream)
2. Frozen raspberries
3. Strawberries
4. Pound cake (I like the frozen kinds for some reason)
5. Lemon

You melt the raspberries and place the extra juice from the bag into a pan to warm up (add sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, and some strawberries) to make a nice sauce to drizzle onto the pound cake/raspberries/cool whip. I cubed up the pound cake to make them into bite-sized pieces, and then when we were ready for dessert, I found some cute glasses and started layering (pound cake, raspberry sauce, cool whip, fresh strawberries/raspberries). A picture of our desserts:

Better than Serendipity’s!! :) The meal was fantastic and cleanup wasn’t too difficult, either (except for a spilled oil incident that ruined Chris’ clothes).

Today, we headed to Tartine for Sunday brunch. They actually have a great deal – $13.95/person, you get juice and coffee/tea, and an assortment of breakfast foods to choose from. I ordered the french toast:

The bacon, which is HUGE, was really meaty and tasty, not like usual bacon strips you find at breakfast joints. Also, they put potatoes in the middle with their homemade hollandaise sauce. I usually don’t like hollandaise sauce because it’s too heavy, but this sauce really complemented the potatoes well (which were just the right amount of chewy/crispy/brown). They were also tossed with some tomatoes and green onions, which mixed really well together. The french toast itself was o-k, but I don’t think the bread was old enough (the toast was too soggy).

Chris ordered the omelet with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, red pepper, swiss cheese, and ham, which also came with a side of their delicious potatoes:

The omelet was fairly standard and the egg wasn’t too runny (yay!). Overall, the best part of both meals were the potatoes (we were both big fans).

It’s been raining all day (not just regular rain, but MEAN rain…and MEAN WIND) so I’ve been inside doing taxes (they’re due on Tuesday, I still have time). This Wednesday, we are headed to Sushi Yasuda, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC!

Nobu

By grace.g.yang · April 12, 2007
Under: Dinner,Japanese,Sushi,Tribeca


A conversation I had with a person that would not like to be named (PTWNLTBN) two nights ago…

Grace: Chris and I are going to Nobu tomorrow night – I’m really excited!
PTWNLTBN: Oh, I’ve heard of that place!
Grace: Have you? They have locations all over the US and London.
PTWNLTBN: …don’t they make stuff for…black people?
Grace: …are you thinking of…FUBU?

So last night, Chris and I headed to Nobu in Tribeca to try some of their specialties (they’re actually not known for the sushi – it’s more of a fusion restaurant, so it’s recommended to order hot dishes instead). I liked the decor at Nobu – there were tree trunks in the middle of the restaurant with large pieces of wood to resemble twigs:

We started off by ordering their signature dish, Black Cod with Miso:

Chris’ reaction to his first taste of the cod: “mmmm it tastes like beef jerky!”

…yay!

He probably thought it tasted like beef jerky because it was a little on the salty side. It is incredibly delicious, maybe they shouldn’t steep it in the miso for so long (it says 2 – 3 days on the recipe).

Chris ordered the the rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce:

Apparently, some food bloggers that tried the dish and have had bad experiences….I thought the dish was good, but then I had a piece of shrimp that left a REALLY bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, it was only one piece, but it definitely lingered. The tempura sauce had some kind of lemon juice that made the shrimp really tasty – there were also some salad-type veggies underneath the shrimp that had a better dressing of the creamy spicy sauce.

The prices for both dishes weren’t that bad ($20 for the cod, $19 for the shrimp)…probably because the portions were SO incredibly SMALL!! We were both still pretty hungry after our food (even though I was pretty satisfied with the taste) so we ordered some tempura (sweet potato) and a spicy tuna roll. I don’t have pictures of either, but the spicy tuna wasn’t as good as Morimoto’s (Chris refused to be around while I took the pictures so I had to take the main course dishes while he was in the bathroom…seriously).

For dessert, we ordered the bento box:

Chocolate souffle cake on the left, green tea ice cream on the right. The chocolate souffle cake was dark, rich, and creamy and paired well with the green tea ice cream. I don’t really have anything BAD to say about Nobu, I guess there isn’t anything really SPECTACULAR to say though. If we went again, I think we would try the “Omakase,” which is $100, $120, or $150/pp and the chef basically gives you a tasting of what he thinks represents Nobu the best (just smaller portions).

My new rating metric will be up soon…I just have to set it up through Flickr.

By the way, I’ve started watching 30 Rock and ONE question – WHY DIDN’T I START WATCHING SOONER?! It’s HILARIOUS! Will Arnett (Gob from Arrested Development) is absolutely hilarious in the most recent episode (Fireworks). A special shoutout to my cousin, Andrew, who reads my blog ALLLLL the way from Korea!! :)

Nobu on Urbanspoon

Morimoto NYC

By grace.g.yang · April 11, 2007
Under: Chelsea,Japanese,Nightlife,Sushi


Last night, two coworkers from the San Jose office treated me and Vikkie to a meal at Morimoto, the restaurant opened by this guy:

Recognize him? He’s one of head honchos from the show Iron Chef, a show on food network. Needless to say, I was *very* excited! (an interesting side note – he used to be the executive chef at Nobu, the restaurant I’m going to tonight). Morimoto is located in Chelsea (next to the Chelsea Market) in an industrial-looking space. It was designed by Tadao Ando and has this awesome wall of 17,000 water bottles. Also, there are glass partitions that make the atmosphere semi-private (and it’s really great because even though the restaurant was packed, the noise level was kept to a minimum). The sushi bar looked very clean and simple:

We started off with the tuna pizza, the oyster foie gras, a spicy tuna roll, and an eel cucumber roll (and I snuck in two fatty tuna pieces). The tuna pizza is one of Morimoto’s “signature dishes” – it’s a cold appetizer with bluefin tuna, anchovy aioli, and jalepeno’s. There’s also a white sauce that’s drizzled on top of the tuna (maybe wasabi mixed with a japanese mayo?) – the tuna mixed with the crunchiness of the tortilla styled “pizza” is a great combination and our table definitely enjoyed it. The oyster foie gras was also pretty good (no, oyster’s don’t have livers…it was an oyster and on TOP of the oyster was a piece of foie gras). The foie gras literally melted in your mouth and it mixed well with the oyster/teriyaki sauce. I guess the only downside was that there were only THREE oysters, so Vikkie volunteered to be the odd man out (don’t worry – we gave her two extra pieces of tuna pizza to make up for it).

–Side comment: I took pictures of ALL the appetizers with my canon with a 2G memory card, but after taking about 5 pictures, it said that the memory card was FULL! Why would the camera do that? Was it the camera’s fault for reading the 2G card incorrectly? Or was it the SD card’s fault for LYING TO MY CAMERA? Either way, I formatted the card by accident and deleted all of the pictures. :( I was so sad I almost made everyone order the appetizers/sushi again so I could get pictures of the awesome presentation).

After the foie gras and tuna pizza came, we had the spicy tuna, fatty tuna, and eel/cucumber rolls. The spicy tuna rolls seemed REALLY fresh (the fatty tuna was awesome) and the eel was slightly warm and semi sweet (can it get any better?). The appetizers were definitely a great start to the meal (I was a little worried since Chris said he read about the place and he had it hyped up in his head…I didn’t want to disappoint!).

For my main course, I ordered the surf and turf (yozu butter poached lobster, seared kobe filet, seasoned spinach, and red wine jus):

I’m usually not a fan of butter with lobster (I think it ruins the sweetness of the lobster) but I was literally drenching the lobster in the butter sauce). The butter sauce was slightly creamy and complemented the lobster really well. The kobe filet was AWESOME. I don’t think I’ve ever had meat that tender and juicy (it also had an interesting green sauce that tasted like spinach puree). I liked the pairing with baby asparagus (well, at least that’s what I THINK it was), red wine jus, and mushrooms.

Vikkie ordered their signature dish, the duck duck duck, which is on a foie gras croissant, has a duck egg dipping sauce, a red miso sauce, and one other dipping sauce I didn’t catch the waitress say:

Look at the flakey crust:

She really enjoyed her dish and didn’t feel extremely full afterwards (you know, the way you feel when you eat a lot of red meat). I almost regret not trying it, but it’s incentive to go back!

Chris ordered the Japanese Bouillabaisse, which included a half shell lobster, king crab, mussels, clam diver scallops, all in a red miso sake broth:

He really liked the dish in general, but it looked like it needed a side of rice (or bread? It was too soupy to go without any kind of starch). It looked like a tasty dish and they definitely weren’t stingy with the copious amounts of seafood…I mean, LOOK AT IT.

Finally, Bo ordered the braised black cod – Japanese ratatouille in a ginger soy reduction (at least I think that’s what he ordered – correct me if I’m wrong!):

Bo enjoyed his dish and thought the fish was fresh and light. I think all of us were satisfied with our main courses and didn’t feel extremely full afterwards (which is always a good thing). We ordered dessert (you have to get the FULL picture of the restaurant, obviously). Morimoto’s known for their tofu cheesecake, kabosu creme brulee, and two types of tarts, but we decided to go with the chocolate pecan brownie and the coconut macaroon.

The chocolate pecan brownie:

I brownie was warm and gooey and I usually HATE nuts in brownies (sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t), but the pecans meshed well with the brownie. It was like they were meant for each other. There was also a sliver of ameretto cream espresso ice cream that added a kick to the brownie (Bo thought it was a too sweet in general but Vikkie and I agreed that it was more of a comfort food dish).

The coconut macaroon:

Layer one: coconut macaroon
Layer two: bananas
Layer three: possibly a banana mousse with a little bit of passion-fruit covered in chocolate
Layer four: rum raisin ice cream

I’ve never had a macaroon before, but I thought the coconut macaroon was a little too stiff (it reminded me of a rice cake). If you pushed away the first layer and carefully placed layers two – four on your spoon with a drizzle of the passion fruit sauce, you’d have a party in your mouth! The coconut macaroon was definitely a more summer oriented dessert because it was a lot lighter and the chocolate pecan brownie was a winter-like dessert because it was so rich and you definitely couldn’t pull that off in the heat.

Bo also ordered some tea and it came with this lovely platter of additions:

Vikkie was really excited because she thought they included marshmallows for Bo’s green tea (top left hand corner), but upon closer inspection, we saw that it was just cubes of sugar. The waiter heard Vikkie’s comment and said that she wasn’t the first person to think that they gave marshmallows with tea. :)

So, one of the most exciting things about Morimoto (besides the delicious food, great ambiance, and great company), was the bathroom. No joke, the bathroom. Vikkie and I went down there (sans camera) and walked into this toilet:

You’re probably wanting to ask me, what is the bar of buttons next to the toilet, Grace? Well, dear reader, it is THIS:

It was a heated toilet seat with a bidet – front AND rear cleansing! hahaha I just HAD to take a picture! You could hear people giggling in the bathroom stalls next to you…I wonder why. :)

After our wonderful dinner (and two White Lily cocktails), we walked to Magnolia for cupcakes (only Bo and Chris could fit them in after ALL the food we devoured):

I’m more partial to Buttercup because their frosting is less sugary and you can’t taste individual granules…but it looks like Bo and Chris are really enjoying their cupcakes (especially Chris).

Bo and Chris came in from Long Island (where their client is) and since their train wasn’t until 11/12ish, we decided to go for more drinks at the Gansevoort Hotel. Actually, we headed to Ono, the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel since it was a Tuesday night around 10. I’m walking to the restroom in the back of the restaurant…and I run into freaking FABIO!

Do you know him?! He’s probably most well known for his “I can’t believe it’s not Butter” commercials…or the time a bird ran into his nose on a roller coaster. :) He was with three other guys (his less glamorous entourage?) having dinner at the restaurant. I’ve actually seen him before – when I lived in Pittsburgh, I saw him at a mall doing a promotion for some random thing…maybe a cologne he associated his name with?

Anyway, I tried some of the drinks at Ono, including the lemongrass mojito (which was good, except the mint leaves were too small so I kept eating them – gross). The four of us at Ono:

Bo, me, Chris, and Vikkie.

Audrey, Kori, and Jon joined us after their group dinner at Gramercy Tavern and told us all the debauchery that happened there (I still haven’t been there but I’ve heard it’s pretty good). Chris also joined us after his dinner with a college buddy:

Morimoto on Urbanspoon


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