Sunday, October 30, 2011

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, being a modern and cosmopolitan city, has much to offer as the capital of the Netherlands. I visited with my sorority sister, Annie, a few summers ago when I was abroad in Annecy, France, and this city was a great break from the non-English-speaking-small-town-vibe of Haute Savoie. I didn't eat much Dutch cuisine when I was there, for there was just so many options to choose from. I miss these few days of wandering along the canals, not being able to pronounce any street names, and eating french fries with mayo and waffles between every meal. 
















Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sugiyama

I've written about Sugiyama before on my recommendation list for New York City, but now I want to share with you a more comprehensive review and why exactly it's one of my favorite places to go for quality Japanese cuisine in New York. 


Sugiyama is located on an unassuming street in Midtown West, and though my parents go there every once in awhile for a good dinner or to entertain guests, they usually suggest dining here after I return home from Boston because they think that I'm neglected from good food in Beantown (half true). 

Here's a compilation of our meals combined. I ordered the Authentic (6) Course dinner, my brother usually orders the Modern Kaiseki (8) Course with Wagyu .

Both start with seasonal appetizers such as a tofu pate, grilled eggplant, and other delicately flavored and arranged cold plates. 


Then comes more cold courses with assorted sashimi chosen by the chef based on season and availability. The fish is aesthetically topped  with gold flakes and served over a lacquer tray of ice. 

The raw oyster is served with an acidic sauce that also includes mashed radish. 

My father ordered yellow tail neck, which is simply seasoned with salt and grilled to perfection. It is also served with mashed daikon radish and lemon. 

Then comes the Wagyu, or Kobe beef, which is highly renowned for their high fat content (notice the streaks of fat in the beef slices). It is served raw, so that you can cook it yourself on a heated volcanic rock. Because the beef is so naturally fatty itself, there is no need to use butter or oil in preparation. 

Make sure to cook the beef vigilantly, for the worst thing would be overcooking such a nice cut of meat. 

My mother and I both ordered the black cod, which is prepared with a sweet miso glaze and served with an aromatic bowl of white rice. 

Finally for dessert, they always serve this unique tart grapefruit wine jelly with a sweet condensed milk drizzle. This time they also had a season baby peach (the green globes photographed on the left). My father was a huge fan, so I swapped my pieces for an extra serving of the grapefruit jelly. 

Sugiyama offers a wonderful dining experience that you leave comfortably full and immensely content. The couple that owns the restaurant are super sweet, and the husband is the head chef, and the wife is the maitre d'. They take customer service very seriously and remember you and your food preferences. This is a great place for anything ranging from a celebration to a serious business dinner. I know I'll be back very soon.

Sugiyama
251 W 55th St
New York, 10019

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A case of the leftovers: Chicken and Chili Peppers

I just realized that I haven't been posting much about cooking, so here's something that might be useful for people that are living alone like me: how to totally remake your leftovers.

It's hard to prepare a meal for one person without having some leftovers, and it's boring eating the same exact thing several nights in a row, especially if just heating it up doesn't necessarily do it justice. So something that I do a lot with my family is to stir-fry leftover meat with chili peppers. 

Here's an example of something that we usually have a lot of leftover meat from: a full steamed chicken. 

Chicken and Chili Peppers Stir-fry:
8oz leftover de-boned steamed chicken 
2-3 chili peppers
1-2 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
Myulchi bokum (pre-made anchovy, Korean ban chan style)  


First, chop the garlic and scallion. For the chili peppers, you can choose to remove the seeds first to make the dish a bit more mild, or just keep the seeds in. 

When cooking, first heat 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Then add the garlic, scallion, and chili peppers. Once slightly browned, toss in the leftover de-boned chicken. Since the chicken is already cooked, you're really just heating it up and hoping for it to absorb the now garlic-scallion-chili infused oil. Finally, mix in about a quarter to half a cup of the anchovy to add some saltiness and texture.

For something as bland as leftover steamed chicken, these results aren't bad, no? Simple, few ingredients, and low preparation and cook time. Sounds like an easy go-to dish for lazy nights with leftovers you don't want to eat! 

Writing this just made me super hungry for something spicy. What a coincidence.. I have all these ingredients waiting for me in my refrigerator. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Neptune Oyster

I'm trying to post more about Boston now that I am living here, and there's no better place to begin than with Neptune Oyster, a must-visit staple in the North End. 

I visited last Spring with my family on my final day as a resident at Tufts University, and had what I thought was a very memorable meal that was quite representative of local faire.  

My mom ordered the lobster salad, which was a very simple and refreshing choice (though I don't think this is on the menu anymore.) 

My grandmother and I both ordered the infamous Maine Lobster Roll which you can choose to have with hot butter or cold mayo. 

This was a very very solid lobster roll. Unlike typical lobster rolls I've had in Boston, it wasn't made like tuna salad with lots of mayo/lettuce/cucumber. It was just very fresh succulent lobster tossed in butter. Many times, simple is better. 

Neptune is a tiny restaurant with probably only about twenty seats. They don't take reservations, so I suggest going early on a week day if you want to have a comfortable meal without waiting for too long.
Next time I will definitely try the Neptune Burger, a cheeseburger with fried oysters and garlic mayo.

Neptune Oyster
63 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Night in Central: Craigie on Main and Toscanini


This past Tuesday I went to Tony Maw's Craigie on Main with a fellow Jumbo graduate, Tim. I've only been to Central a few times and I have yet to be disappointed. Craigie is known for their seasonal menus and their use of local farm foods. 

I started with a petit pot de vin and Tim had a sparkling wine cocktail. Very masculine, but it tasted full of fruity goodness nonetheless, though I believe there was some absinthe in it. 


The three course prix fixe menu comes with a choice of meat, fish, or vegetable amuse-bouche. Here's the meat:

And I got the fish, which was a Portugese sardine. It was great: not too salty and the texture was almost sashimi-like compared to sardines I'm used to. 

For first course, I got a Spanish octopus and Tim ordered raw oysters. 

The great thing about the creek oysters was that it wasn't served with cocktail sauce and Tabasco sauce, but rather it had a very light, naturally salty ... brine? 

For my main course, I ordered arctic char with rock shrimp and daikon. The arctic char was cooked to a medium-rare and had the greatest buttery texture that sort of just melted in your mouth. However, the daikon was actually buttery but still very good. 

Tim got the rib eye that was served with roasted carrots. 

For dessert, Tim got a very dark and very rich chocolate mousse tart with miso ice cream, and I ordered the sour milk pannacotta, which is a yogurt lover's dream dessert. 

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
___________________________________


Yes, I realize I already posted a dessert photo, but when I walked to Craigie from the Central T stop, I couldn't help but notice Toscanini's which had a very bold quote on the window as New York Time's "best ice cream in the world." I simply couldn't resist. So we went for dessert round two. 


Tim ordered wort, which is pre-fermented beer, and ginger and green tea. I ordered earl grey and salty caramel. The wort had a very distinct and strong flavor, and not something that's readily acceptable in a full scoop. The salty caramel was very good and exactly as it sounds, but it was a bit too sweet and hard to finish as well. However, the earl grey was absolutely delicious. It was light and tasted like creamy tea. Amazeballs. 


Toscanini's 
899 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
_____________________________________

I think I really like Central. After all this, I wandered into the Harvest Co-op Market, which was an organic market and I got to stock up on granola bars and juice. I have yet to have  disappointing experience in Central, which is rare for me in greater Boston area. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sullivan Street Bakery

I don't know how my parents always find the best places and things to eat in New York City, but I'm not complaining. This morning, I get a wake up call from my mom asking if I want a doughnut for breakfast. My instinctive answer, "Uhhm, ew, no." Okay, I realize doughnuts are quintessentially part of the American breakfast block, but fried sweet dough first thing in the morning just doesn't sound too appetizing (yay, nutrition school!). However, my mother told me I will only get to eat this once a year because we needed to bring our car in for her annual inspection, and this particular bakery just so happens to be close by. Meaning, they were both out of the way in the depths of Hell's Kitchen. 

My mom returns with a bag of baked goods exclaiming how she just spent $50 on doughnuts. It's still pretty early in the morning and I unpack the goods, realizing that it's from Sullivan Street Bakery. I've read about this place a few times including a piece in New York Magazine, listing the below photographed vanilla cream bombolonis as the best doughnuts in Manhattan.  

The bomboloni was very light and airy and the vanilla cream inside offered  a nice touch of sweetness. It's definitely a very traditional take on what I think a doughnut should taste like, but I can tell you it probably won't satisfy your sweet tooth if you're expecting something similar to the Doughnut Plant's. Today's seasonal doughnut was apple filling, which reminded me of apple sauce. 

My mom also purchased some other breads including one that had pieces of ham and crusted cheese coat that was very aromatic and a danish-type bread with blackberry and a sweet crumble. 

I think what I enjoyed most were their pizzes. They're very thin crust squares with different toppings including funghi, zucchini, and cauliflower. The choice and generous use of ingredients worked very well with the crispy crust. 

Overall, if I was in the neighborhood, I would definitely go back for more. At $3 a doughnut and $3.50 a slice, the prices are definitely steeper than an average breakfast, but the ingredients and quality are definitely worth it. My mom came back home later that afternoon with two paninis prepared with equally satisfying pane. 


Sullivan Street Bakery
533 West 47th St # 1
New York, NY 10036

Monday, October 10, 2011

SoundBites

On this celebrated national holiday, I asked my friend Douglas to brunch at a local Medford/Somerville favorite of mine, SoundBites. It's located in Ball Square, right off the Powderhouse Rotary, and it was my favorite place for hangover breakfasts (until I was introduced to Magnificent Muffins and Bagels). 

This morning Doug and I wanted to have both sweet and savory (always the breakfast dilemma), and settled on ordering an omelet and a french toast to share.

We had the three egg crabmeat omelet complete with fresh tomatoes and melted Monterey Jack cheese, something I always look forward to. All breakfasts also come with a choice of bagel or toast and their unbeatable home fries. 

We also shared the challah french toast with fresh seasonal fruit. I'm a huge fan of challah, so I would opt for this before waffles. Also, when they say fresh fruit, they mean it. Their fruit salads are a great combination of everything from kiwis to mangos. 

I always wanted to try their stuffed french toast. I hear great things about it, but I keep going back to the same order. I also hear great things about their breakfast bowl, which is exactly as it sounds: everything you would want for breakfast in a bowl. 

I'm pretty emotionally attached to SoundBites. There were many memorable Dishes for Wishes charity events, post-twenty-one-birthday brunches, and my sorority semi-formal (surprisingly, maybe not so surprisingly, the latter two involved a good deal of purging and then some breakfast food binging). The eggs can be kind of greasy, and the lines are usually long on the weekends, but it has a great ambiance and vibe for breakfast/brunch. Worst case scenario: head to Ball Square Cafe, Renee's, or the Broken Yolk. 


SoundBites
704 Broadway 
Somerville, MA 02144