Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Munchies?

As a college student, I unfortunately have to endure many late nights. And that means I get hungry. This past year, I have been very good at avoiding late-night buffalo chicken calzones or General Tso's chicken. Instead, I keep my pantry and fridge abundant with small bites.

Here are some snacks that I stock up on that I don't feel as guilty for eating:
Archer Farm's Multiseed Flatbread Crackers- this is probably not the most nutritious choice, but it is baked rather than fried, and for a cracker, this is very tasteful.

Fruit leathers- the adult Fruit Roll Up. I am a huge fan of fruit leathers and according to the box, it is 100% fruit puree with no additives, such as sugar. Furthermore, each strip has 1/2 a serving of fruit!

Luna Minis- as a snack, I find the Luna Minis more bearable than a full sized Luna bar. It is only 80 calories, and still contains a decent amount of protein, carbohydrates, and even fiber and calcium. Definitely a better choice than a chocolate or candy bar.

Clementines- I am obsesssed with clementines and can eat them all day. Clearly clementines contain vitamin C and fiber, and are a very refreshing treat. ($6-8 for a whole box that can last you 2 weeks. Perfect for dorming!)

GRANOLA- I have about three types of granola in my pantry right now. Sometimes when I have back to back afternoon classes, I mix a bag and bring it along with me to lecture. I ordered a customized granola from Me and Goji that contains banana chips and golden granola. Great granola with low sugar content. I am also a fan of Cascadian Farms granola. Granola can be a great snack because it contains high fiber content, but be careful! It can also have a lot of added sugar and be quite noisy to eat in class.

Toblerone- I know, this does not sound nutritious at all. And it really isn't. But if you really cannot stand Luna minis and need a chocolate kick, I think Toblerone is the way to go because you can always just rip off a small chunk and wrap the rest away. (I'm really good at this, but I know some people can't stop at one chunk, so try this at your own risk). Just make sure you buy the normal sized bars, and not the giant sized bars from Switzerland.

Rice Dream- For my lactose intolerance/sensitive consumers out there, I highly recommend trying Rice Dream. I had a phase where I thought I was consuming too much protein and fat from milk, so I tried soy. But it turned out I was allergic (so unfortunate, but no worries, only to American soy drinks), so I tried Rice Dream. Rice Dream is a rice drink that you can purchase enriched with calcium and vitamin D, and is usually only found in the organic aisles. Great milk replacement (unless you're on a budget).


For those with a fridge:
Blueberries- Really, any berries would do. I love just meandering to my fridge and grabbing a handful to shove into my mouth. But I wrote blueberries because I found those to be on sale most often at the local Shaw's.

Cheese- After living in France for a summer, I realized the perks of always having blocks of cheese in your fridge. Though a bit fatty, cheese is filling and contains calcium. Pluses in my book!

Fage yogurt- Fage is my favorite greek yogurt brand. At times I find normal yogurt too diluted or liquidy, so I prefer Greek yogurt. Go for the 2% Fage with honey (I don't think fat free is available yet), or you can buy a tub of Fage 0% fat and mix in your own toppings such as granola, dried fruit, or fresh blueberries.

Milk- Recently, whenever I head for the fridge, I instinctively pour myself a glass of milk. High protein, high calcium, and high satiety.

Hummus- Great alternative to chips and dip. Hummus is usually made with chickpeas and also serves as a high protein snack. Instead of using pita bread, you can improvise and use the previously mentioned flatbread crackers.


Enough for now. Time for some milk. And another clementine.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Penelope

I'm moving from Chelsea to Murray Hill today, and in celebration, I'm going to post about one of my new neighborhood's gems, Penelope.

Penelope is part cafe, part bar, part bakery that gives off a very homey vibe. On a quite commercialized Lexington Avenue, it's not easy to find a small nook as cozy as this one. Even their coffee mugs are engraved with, "welcome home."

This morning I tried their Penny Sandwich, which was scrambled egg with American cheese and pesto in a croissant. Great comfort food after a long morning of performing moving errands.
For next time though, I might order the same but instead of a croissant, I'd opt for an English muffin: less fat/butter and smaller serving size. Also, if you're a cheese lover and like to enjoy cheese several times a day, the best choice is actually to not have cheese with your meal, but perhaps as a snack. Having cheese in a sandwich easily increases your saturated fat intake.



Penelope offers a country-kitchen vibe that's ideal for Sunday brunches, however there are usually lines starting 9am (they serve brunch until 4pm on weekends). The best times to go are weekdays or late afternoon for tea time.


Penelope
159 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016-8154

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Adour by Alain Ducasse

Tonight I had the pleasure of dining at Alain Ducasse's Adour in the St. Regis Hotel on 5th Avenue. Simply, Alain Ducasse is a widely acclaimed French chef who holds multiple Michelin three star ratings for his restaurants.

My family each ordered the tasting menu, and honestly, it was a lot more enjoyable experience than Bouley, and I love Bouley. We were seated in a very private niche, and our waiter was super accommodating and knowledgeable.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a passion for bread. Their baguettes were fragrant and perfectly crispy on the outside. Also, they had the option of a brioche, which is one of my favorite baked goods. It was airy and flaky, but a bit on the buttery side and could be quite filling.



We all started with a shrimp consomme composed of a very refreshing broth with cucumbers, a single succulent shrimp, and a slice of sea urchin. Wonderful.


This was followed by a seared foie gras served with caramelized grapes, which was a great pairing.


Then we had seared diver scallops that were served with a special order of black truffles, which are just in season (white truffle season just ended). Very worth it. The sauce had a very distinct flavor that only comes with black truffles.


Our main course was a prime rib, which came with a surprise of bone marrow on the side. I couldn't finish even a quarter of my beef, for the bone marrow was very heavy. But all was good nonetheless.


With our main course came pommes souffle, Alain Ducasse's french fries, it was a light puff of potato. I've never had anything like it before. It was also made with truffle oil, and I couldn't stop eating it even though I was already stuffed.


Dessert was a layer of a crispy cake, chocolate ganache, topped with a dark chocolate mousse, a chocolate rice cracker, and a gold leaf.


With Ducasse's meals come a box of macarons, usually one per person. However, our waiter brought us a surprise of 7 more. Just because. The pink ones were raspberry and the white ones tiramisu.


Crispy almond shell on the exterior, and chewy filling on the inside. Great after dinner takeaway.


I highly recommend Adour! Stupendous dining experience with high scores for ambiance, service, and food quality.


Adour
2 East 55th Street
New York, NY 10022

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bouley revisited

Funny how I actually went to Bouley again this weekend, after initially writing about it when I first revamped my blogging.

Even with the new location, the entrance was still a room filled with apples and the architecture was again beautifully vaulted ceilings. 100% for ambiance: tall candles, soft lighting, lush carpets.

I didn't do the tasting menu because I know I always eat too much bread. This time around, I had these to choose from (listed in the order of my preference): black currant, pepper, baguette, olive, and sourdough.

I started with the foie gras. Haven't had it in awhile, so I thought I would indulge. It was seared perfectly and served with some shredded dried fruit, which pairs well with the fatty liver.


For my main course, I decided to try the venison because I've never had it before. It tasted like beef, but had a tougher texture. Not something that I'd try again, per se.


However, my brother ordered the duck and it was delicious. I usually would recommend anyone to order duck at French restaurants, and the same goes for Bouley. The meat was tender and the skin was slightly crisp.


Instead of dessert, I ordered a cheese platter because when I studied abroad in Annecy/Talloires, every meal ended with an assortment of cheese.


Finally, the meal ended with petit fours. There were a couple notable pieces: a pistachio macaron and a shortbread cookie dipped in white chocolate.


This was definitely a very enjoyable meal and it lasted a bit more than three and a half hours. The tasting menu goes for $125 per person and includes six courses, and an entree is about $35. I'd say if you really want to try Bouley, go for the lunch prix fixe menu for $48.
Perfect for close friends and/or special occasions.


Bouley
163 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Taste of Ethiopia

After talking to Melody and Katie, I was convinced that I had to try Ethiopian cuisine. So today I tried Queen of Sheba in Midtown West.

It was my first time trying this type of food, so I really have no basis of comparison. For starters, everything was served with this flat bread made with teff, called injera. After doing some research, it turns out that teff is a type of small grain commonly found in Ethiopia and is very high in many minerals, such as calcium, as well as protein. The injera is sort of like a spongy crepe with which my Sheba sampler was served with. The sampler included many sauce-like things that were made with either beef or chicken and had flavors ranging from sweet to spicy. (Comparable to Indian curries, but not as strong of a taste and lighter in oil.) Also, a lot of the sauces were made with lentil or chickpea bases, also great protein sources.

In the middle of the platter I ordered was the chef's special lamb that was lamb prepared with "Ethiopian seasoning" and cooked with onions, rosemary, and garlic. Though the lamb was a bit like jerky, it was very fragrant and went well with the injera.



Definitely a different experience eating with my hands. I did a lot of reading on etiquette and you are only supposed to use your right hand and use the injera to wrap the food and use only your thumb, index, and middle fingers. A very novel experience.

Queen of Sheba
650 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
---
In terms of grain sources, with natural grasses like teff that have relatively high protein and mineral sources, why is there so much publicity and push for genetically modified organisms such as Golden Rice*? Wouldn't it make morse sense to invest in planting more naturally nutrient rich food sources? Food for thought.

*Golden Rice is a genetically modified rice that contains beta-Carotene or vitamin A traces, in which researchers claim can prevent blindness and other vitamin A deficiencies that cause thousands of deaths in children in developing countries annually.

Dinner with the Yungs: $23 for a party of four

Sometimes when I'm stressed or just have some me time, I find cooking to be very therapeutic.

After a long day, I thought it'd be nice to prepare something simple yet delicious for dinner. As a college student, the go-to for a simple meal is always pasta. I was just hoping my pasta was good enough for my family's high standards.

The grocery list from Food Emporium:

This is for an easy to make pasta dinner:
16 oz pasta
~1lb sausage (I used spicy Italian, but if you're looking for something with less saturated fat, opt for chicken sausage or turkey meatballs)
1 onion
3-4 zucchinis/ yellow squash
sauce- I happened to find a good roasted pepper pesto. I prefer buying "home made" looking sauces rather than jars of tomato sauce (I usually find them flavorless)
6oz chicken broth
garlic, olive oil
Fresh mozzarella

Start boiling the pasta in water (don't forget to add salt!) while you prepare everything else.
Cut the sausage links into bite size pieces, and same with the onions and zucchini.

First sear the sausage until it looks about 75% done, then I take it off the pan and you can use the same pan with a bit of olive oil to sautee the garlic. Then add the chopped onions to the garlic, and when that browns a bit, add in all the squash/zucchini.

When all the vegetables look about 80% done, add the sausage back in as well as the sauce and the chicken broth. Mix it all together, and cook until everything done. Finally, mix in the drained pasta (after running it through cold water to avoid it sticking together) and then top it off with chunks of fresh mozzarella.

This is a great dish with flavor, and something that's easy to eat and isn't too heavy. As always, adding more fresh vegetables to a dish is always a plus. For this pasta, grape tomatoes, fresh peppers, or portabello mushrooms all could've been added or substituted for the zucchini and squash. The fresh mozzarella really does it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recovery drinks of choice

After a good workout, I always wonder about what to eat or drink to optimize my post-exercise recovery.

For cardio:
I try to find something simple to replenish electrolytes. I find Gatorade and Vitamin Water to be too sugary/salty and the serving sizes too large.
Recently after intense hot yoga sessions, I turn to coconut water. 11fl ounces of coconut water provides: 14g of sugar, 60mg of sodium, 40mg of calcium, 25mg of magnesium, 60 calories, and a whopping 670mg of potassium. It's about the same sugar content as one serving of vitamin water (usually each bottle has 2.5 servings), and check out that potassium level. Great for recovery and cramp prevention.
If you don't want to go too fancy, a banana works as well.



After strength training regimens, I don't usually go for coconut water because I need something more substantial for muscle maintenance. Protein powder is too much of a leap for me, so as of now, I stick to something classic: Milk. Milk contains about 20% whey protein, the most easily digestible form, and about 80% casein. Casein is a protein that digests slowly, and will continue releasing amino acids long after the whey is digested. Casein is not exactly ideal for post-workout because it is known to take longer to digest, but can work well in conjunction with whey for building and maintaining muscle.
And as a female, milk is also a great drink in general because of the high calcium levels.
Drink milk!

Le Pain Quotidien

When I first had Le Pain, it was for weekly brunch/coffee breaks. I frequented the upper east side location on 85th and Madison, and admired the cozy wooden furnishings and the large communal table. The concept is a French boulangerie that serves fresh baked breads, pastries, soups, salads, and tartines. The name itself translates roughly to "the everyday bread" --which I totally agree with because this is bread that I would not mind eating every day.

For a nutritious quick fix, I would recommend the soft boiled egg (only available before noon on weekdays), which comes with a side of bread. I usually request for five grain because their five grain is nutty and contains raisins, which gives it a nice tang. Definitely enough carbs and protein to jump start your afternoon! (an order of their aromatic coffee helps with that also).

A few days ago, I was there with Chelsea for lunch.
Le Pain aims to use organic ingredients whenever they can, and they offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly options.

I know from experience that their salads and tartines are quite sizable, so we ordered one of each to share.

The shrimp salad was made of organic mesclun, avocado, mango, tomato salsa, and vinaigrette. The tomato salsa/vinaigrette went well with the mango and I feel like you can never go wrong with ripe avocado and shrimp. Their ingredients were definitely all very fresh, which always deserves extra points.

They offer a wide selection of tartines of which I'm usually underwhelmed by. However, this time I was thoroughly impressed by the ricotta tartine with with mission figs, black pepper & organic acacia honey. It tasted like Fage yogurt with honey spread over their own whole wheat bread. Even better, there were sweet figs sprinkled on top. The ricotta was creamy, but not overwhelming, and this would be a pretty solid choice because it offers protein, carbohydrates, and calcium, but it may be a bit over with the fat from the ricotta. Definitely a great entree to share. And also, it complemented the tart salad quite well.



Another perk about dining at Le Pain is the amazing bread and their custom spreads that you can just ask for. As mentioned before, their five grain is great, but I also enjoy their baguettes (I spent a summer in France, I know what baguettes should taste like). If you're looking to indulge, ask for their spreads and you will be greeted by three jars: their fruit preserve, an apricot spread, and some sort of nutty spread.
Recently, they've been serving their noisella, which was a chocolate hazelnut spread, but they also have a blonde, which is a praline spread. Both very rich. The noisella tastes like a spreadable Ferrero Rocher.



Their fruit preserve is my all time favorite, and it's a very fruity berry mixture. I usually have a jar of this at home; that's how good it is.



Definitely a great place to bring a date. Any kind of date: romantic, friendly, coffee, dessert. It's casual enough that you just walk in, but unique and tasteful enough to impress.


Le Pain Quotidien
1131 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tao

Tao: renowned for its giant buddha, delightful drinks, and off the roof prices.

But honestly, I think the price is worth the ambiance. And the food. You walk into the main dining area, and all you see is this big buddha that is at least 12 feet tall sitting above a pond koi. It's wonderful.


My amazing friend Chelsea and I ended a great day of New York City festivities with dinner at of course, a trendy Midtown East location. Since she's pescatarian, we chose all seafood items, which is totally fine by me because seafood is my favorite food.

We started with edamame and cocktails. I had a refreshing Jade Blossom (pear based) and she had a very fruity Peach Cosmopolitan.

For appetizers, we shared a spicy tuna tartar and a Thai crab cakes. The Thai crab cakes had a great mango based chili sauce and there was definitely a substantial amount of crab meat, but it came out a bit soggy because it was sitting in the sauce. The spicy tuna tartar was very original. It was served over a fried sticky rice layer, which provided a great complementary texture to the tartar.


For main course, we shared a scallop tempura and a teppanyaki swordfish. The scallop tempura was made from diver scallops, and it was good, but not something that I would go just to Tao to order. Same with the teppanyaki swordfish. It was prepared well because it wasn't too over cooked, but it was quite ordinary. However, the swordfish was served with asparagus tempura, which I've never had before, and it was delicious. Definitely a great surprise.



I would definitely go to Tao again because it's such a novel place. Definitely a place with good friends, but maybe not for parents looking for good Asian food, or a first date. You might be wondering what the bill amounted to. 3 appetizers, 2 main courses, and 2 round of drinks: $140 including tip. I thought it was worth it.



(Sorry for the picture quality. Still using my Blackberry)

Tao
42 East 58th Street
New York, NY 10022

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dinner with the Yungs

Every so often, I hope to post some dishes and recipes that I help my mom prepare for dinner. Tonight we had a beef with mushroom stir fry and a silky steamed egg custard.

The silky steamed egg custard is quite simple
You will need:
4 eggs
scallion
chicken broth
oil, sugar, soy sauce
secret ingredient: super soft tofu

First, fill the bottom of a pot/wok with water and bring it to a boil. You will use this to steam the ingredients.
Second, prepare all your ingredients. Dice the tofu into cubes and finely chop the scallions. Beat four eggs until foamy, and mix together gently and evenly with the tofu. Then add chicken broth (the ratio of chicken broth to egg mixture should be 1:2).


Place the entire dish into the pot/wok and boil at high heat for 5 minutes. After that, let it sit for about 12-15 minutes on the lowest heat possible.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Bring about 3 tablespoons of oil to a boil. Then remove from the heat and add about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.
When the egg is ready, just pour the simple sauce on top, and there you have it.
I swear it's a lot tastier than it looks. Very silky indeed.
This is definitely a great go-to dish that offers ample amounts of meat and plant-based protein!


There's not much to a beef and mushroom stir fry
You will need:
Sliced beef
Mushrooms
Soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder
Fresh garlic

For the beef and mushroom stir fry, first marinate the beef with the appropriate amount of soysauce, a pinch of sugar, and a few shakes of garlic powder. (Hint: adding a bit of baking soda to this marinade will help beef retain it's water/juiciness)
I live near a Korean mart, Hanareum, which sells great pre-sliced short rib. When choosing beef, be sure to go red for fresh. Also, choose the fattiness level that appeals to you.

Chop the mushrooms into slices, and be sure to cut off stems when necessary and to clean all the dirt off of them.
For this dish, I used an assortment of three different type of mushrooms that were available. Choose whatever is most fresh!

Now with the cooking. First heat up the oil and toss in the beef and stir fry until the beef is medium rare. Then scoop the beef out, add a bit more oil, and then stir fry the garlic until it is golden/brown (I also added chopped hot chili peppers for color and a hint of flavor). Then dump in all the mushroom and when the mushrooms are about 80% cooked, place the beef back into the wok.
There is this two step process with the beef because the cooking times for mushroom and beef are different, and the last thing you want to eat is overdone beef.
Add salt/pepper/other seasoning until the flavor seems right.
The beef in this dish can easily be substituted with chicken (for less saturated fat), and I even make something similar (and a lot more simple) with tofu when I'm at college.


More dining experiences to come. And exercise posts, too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A case of the leftovers

It was a cold wintry January evening, and my brother and I were too warm to leave the apartment to pick up dinner. (Why didn't we think of delivery??) Well, good thing we had a lot of leftovers in the fridge, so I was able to put together a very substantial meal.

One the menu:
Osso bucco
Dukbokki
Fried rice

I'm going to walk you through the fried rice, because the other two I didn't actually make. The osso bucco (very delicious/tender/fatty veal shank/bone marrow) was made from my good friend's father for a new years pot luck, and the dukbokki (Korean rice cake) was leftover from Shilla in Korean Town.

How to make (super basic) fried rice
You will need:
at least 2 cups of leftover cooked rice (leftover is key because no one enjoys a soggy fried rice)
garlic, scallions, shallots
2 eggs
Soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper

I happened to have leftover glutinous rice, so I threw that in with the white rice. That itself contains a bit of Chinese sausage, so additional flavor.


First, finely chop the garlic, scallion, and shallots and sautee them with vegetable oil (you can use butter for extra fragrance/fat) until golden/brown on high heat. Then add all the rice. make sure to stirfry it evenly to spread the oil and to prevent the rice from sticking to the wok.


When the rice seems unclumped and individual, put in a dash of soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper for flavoring. After that is well blended in, pour the egg over and fold into the rice. Once it looks about half cooked, turn off the fire and continue mixing the rice and the egg. This is so the egg is about 75% cooked and is neither runny or too solid.

How does it look?

Not too shabby for leftovers!

Riverpark

Last night for my grandmother's birthday, I ate at Riverpark: A Tom Colicchio Restaurant. It serves New American food, and is located along the East River in Kips Bay.

Because we had a party of 14, we had a customized menu in which I ordered the mushroom consomme, seared scallops, and beignets with a cranberry and vanilla custard dipping sauces.
Other choices for first courses: lobster and artichoke sala, short rib ravioli
Entrees: Rack of lamb, steak sirloin
Desserts: Hazelnut financier, chocolate torte

The mushroom consomme's broth was very tasteful, but the large crouton on the bottom got soggy too quickly. The lobster was fresh, but could've used more artichoke. The short rib ravioli was really good. The sauce tasted like liquid braised short ribs. However, they were a bit too heavy for a first course, especially if you were going to follow it with meat.
The lamb chops were very well marinated and cooked very well. Seared scallops were not as fresh as the lobster, but still tasted great. It was accompanied by some sort of chutney that had very strong flavor and was only edible in nibbles. The sirloin was the least popular, and it came out a bit rough, though the juice/sauce was good.
The beignets were such a surprise. Such a simple dessert can send back so many memories of zeppolis or funnel cakes, and was a favorite among both adults and children. The hazelnut financier was a pleasant compilations of layers of hazelnut cream, cake, and ice cream. The chocolate torte was made of a dark chocolate ganache and drizzled with salted caramel --a very rich and comforting dessert.

Here are some pretty horrible pictures of my meal. (Taken from my Blackberry.)



Riverpark
450 E 29th street
New York, NY 10016



Upcoming food trends

I thought this article on food trend predictions was quite interesting.

I thought macarons were a thing of 2006. But they are quite enjoyable and I definitely enjoy Payard's as well as La Maison du Chocolat's. ...and of course Laduree's is always a treat.

Less meat: I definitely think this is already happening. There are also a lot more vegetarian friendly places and options. My favorite vegetarian restaurant is actually Korean: HanGawi

Which brings me to the next prediction I found most interesting, the rise of Korean cuisine. More like Korean American, actually, because it's the popularity of the Kogi BBQ Truck and Kyochon. Regardless, Korean food has always been a favorite of mine. Korean barbecue is definitely the best type of barbecue.

Food halls: definitely a trend that I would not mind. Super convenient for lunch breaks! FoodParc just opened right across the street from me, and I've already been there twice last week. They have options ranging from spicy beef wontons to New York egg sodas. I hear a new one just opened up in Korean Town with seven different vendors. Can't wait to check it out!