Friday, April 27, 2007

Really Old School

I said that the George Washington video was old school, this movie makes it look like an infant. I think this was made on an Apple IIe.

I'm a Slacker

So I'm a huge slacker and I've been really busy this week. We had a great meal at Blue Hill Wednesday night and out of the blue decided to get lobster rolls from Pearl Oyster Bar last night. If you haven't been to Pearl's and you like lobster with mayo on bread (who doesn't?), you are missing out. It is worth the wait I promise.

Since I've been such a slacker on the blog, I decided to post one of my favorite videos. It is a little bit old, but I think it is time to bring it back.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Post...sort of

I've had a pretty busy week and haven't had much time for posting. I'm going out to dinner tonight at Blue Hill, which has recently been given the incredible title of "My Favorite Restaurant in The City." Tonight will be my third trip to Blue Hill and I plan on giving a full report tomorrow or Friday.

Also, I really want to go to Blue Hill at Stone Barns...Anybody with a car and a credit card care to take me??

Read about Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns here, here (really good food blog btw), and of course here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Come on Fhqwgads

Don't you ever forget it.

Everybody to the Limit

I love Strong Bad. Seriously. I want to have like 10,000 of his babies.
I just wanted to let you know.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Biggest Steak Ever or You’re the Best Liz

My good friend Liz took the Widaalda crew out to a great steak dinner at BLT Prime. This was my third time dining at BLT (bistro Laurent Tourondel) Prime and every time has been a little bit overwhelming. I was going to tell you about the amazing meat locker where you can see huge pieces of cow dry aging, I was going to tell you about the great wine list and the great bordello that we drank, I was also going to mention the incredible potato dishes, especially the truffle oil potato skins and the blue cheese tater tots, but I think I’ll just talk about the steak.

Liz and I shared a Porterhouse rare. It was the biggest porterhouse I have ever seen. It was on the bone and about 3 inches thick. It was cooked perfectly with a nice seared exterior and a juicy raw interior. This is definitely one of the best steaks I have ever had. The only better might have been the strip that I had the last time I ate there.

The fillet that Alex ordered is also a thing of wonder. It must have been butchered from giant, tractor trailer sized cows. It was gargantuan. I have never seen a fillet so big and so expertly cooked. She was only able to eat about half of it.

That is about all you need to know about BLT Prime: great steak, great sides, great wine. Go there, but don’t have a bite to eat all day before and don’t plan on going out after.

A Great Cookbook or Make Your Significant Other Love you a Little More

My wonderful mother gave me this cookbook for Christmas. It is amazing. If I was going to have one cookbook, it would be this one. The editors of Cooks Illustrated have compiled 1000+ recipes taste tested by America's Test Kitchen. The recipes are great, the illustrated techniques and detailed instructions are wonderful for even the most amateur of chefs.

Most recently, I made the Spaghetti alla Carabonara from the cookbook. It was by far the best carabonara I have ever had. Alex agrees. So give it a shot, you won't regret it.

This book will make you a better cook. I guarantee it. Seriously. If you buy it, use it, and don't like it, I'll buy it from you.

Falafel Crusted Salmon or a Great Night at Aquagrill

Alex's mom was in town on Monday night and we were able to get a last minute reservation at Aquagrill, a wonderful seafood restaurant at Spring and 6th Ave in Soho. I've eaten at Aquagrill about ten times now and each time has been a pleasure. You might be wondering why I have eaten at this one restaurant 10 times in my two plus years in NYC. The answer boils down to simple geography and a family penchant for oysters. My sister lived around the corner from Aquagrill for 6 years and I subleased two different apartments nearby. I've been lucky to have such a great restaurant at my doorstep.

I love oysters. I really really do. Aqua grill has an amazing selection of oysters. I mean seriously look at this. They have 25 or 30 of these varieties on their menu at any one time. I don't think I've ever had a bad oyster there. The list can be kind of daunting, it isn't unusual that I'm only familiar with a handful of the varieties on the list at any given time, but thankfully their staff is knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to picking a selection of oysters. Monday night, the three of us ordered 18 oysters. We had 6 varieties, two of which I picked and the rest were left to the waiter. I chose Imperial Eagle Oysters and Carlsbad Blonde Oysters, purely because I liked the names, of course they were all of our least favorites. The Buzzard's Bay oysters and the Duck Island oysters (both the waiter's choice) were so good we ended up ordering another round of just those two. They are both medium sized, medium deep oysters from the north east US. The main difference is that the Buzzard’s Bay oysters are a little bit saltier and brinier than the Duck Island Oysters. Both went down nicely with the French Chenin Blanc that we were drinking.

For the main course I had the special Wasabi marinated Mahi Mahi which was strongly recommended by the waiter. He actually persuaded me to change my order from the Truffle Crusted Chatham Cod. Alex finally got her Falafel Crusted Salmon that she had been craving for months since our last visit to Aquagrill and Alex’s mom got the Bouillabaisse.

My Mahi Mahi was served with two large shrimp ravioli. I either missed it on the menu or it wasn’t there, but the shrimp ravioli might have been more accurately described as wasabi ravioli with shrimp instead of shrimp ravioli. My first large bite of the ravioli cleared my sinuses and made my eyes water a little bit. For non-sushi eaters or for people who don’t like wasabi, this would have been unbearable, but fortunately I’ve been known to put an absurd amount of wasabi on my sushi so this was just a little bit of a surprise, nothing unappetizing. Also if you don’t like wasabi you wouldn’t order this dish anyway, so I don’t think it is that big of a deal. My mahi mahi was well flavored with a nice wasabi kick from the marinade. The fish was tender and fresh, the flavor was great, but it was a cold night and it felt kind of like a summer, warm weather dish.

Alex’s mom’s bouillabaisse was pretty typical bouillabaisse with a tomato broth and a generous serving of shell fish and poached cod, including half of a lobster tail. The bouillabaisse was perfect for the weather and I think Meg enjoyed it. I’m not a huge fan of bouillabaisse in general, but I know for some (like my mom) it is just divine, so I’m not going to give any opinion about Aquagrill’s, I’m sure it is fine. I must say though, I did sneak a bite of the lobster tail and it was tender and flavorful. It seemed to have not taken on too much of the flavor of the broth, but maintained its integrity as lobster.

Alex’s dish, the Falafel Crusted Salmon, was the star of the show. I’ve had bites of this salmon before, but for some reason the crunchiness of the falafel mixed with the lemon coriander vinaigrette and the creaminess of the sauce is really excellent. After my first bite I wanted to steal Alex’s plate and run away with it. I finally understood why Alex had been pestering me to get reservations at Aquagrill. This salmon is probably the most talked about dish at Aquagrill and it is for a good reason. It is really an inspired dish. I’ve searched the interweb for a recipe and the best I have found is this. I don’t think it is going to compare. I hope the chefs and owners of Aquagrill, Jeremy and Jennifer Marshall, will someday write a cookbook, until then it is going to be trial and error in my kitchen.

So when you are craving some great seafood, head to Aquagrill. Make a reservation if you can, but they do take walk-ins.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Friday, April 6, 2007

I'm Not a Psycho I Promise

Read this and this book and lastly, this.

Recipe of the Day: Roasted Ortolan


Anyway, enjoy the work of fiction - there aren't Ortolan in Central Park and if there were, I wouldn't eat them.

We had quite the feast for dinner last night, first, fresh chilled Blue Point Oysters, delicious, but nearing the end of the season. A wonderful Foie Gras Torchon and then for the grand finale, a rare Ortolan Bunting, the most savory of all foul. Though shucking the oysters and deveining the foie gras was quite a task, it did not compare to the two weeks of preparation that I put into the ortolans. I must say the effort was worth it, eating the ortolans was almost a religious experience.

The ortolan is a small migratory bird of the bunting family. It's native habitat is the wine-growing districts of France. Particularly in the south-western regions. The typical ortolan is 16cm in length and weighs 20 to 25 grams. Fortunately for those of us on this side of the pond, Francios Mitterand's father, Gilbert FĂ©lix Joseph, smuggled a colony of ortolan's into the United States where they found a suitable habitat in Central Park and the northern regions of New Jersey. Many New Yorkers mistake the delectable ortolan for your common Finch (or mistakingly group it in to the "not pigeon" avian family). The ortolan's main nesting area is around the Central Park Zoo where they feast on the corn, oat, and grain fed to the many animals who call the zoo home.

When I decided it was time for my rite of passage into the gourmet world, I knew that cooking and eating the ortolan was the only option. For instruction in this matter I consulted a friend of mine, a retired Gascon, who moved to New York after being persecuted for disturbing an endangered species of birds who had taken nest in his thatched roof cottage in south-western France. The following are the instructions he gave me for the capture, preparation, and consumption of the ortolan. As the ortolan is considered a rare and maybe illegal delicacy throughout Europe, please do not try this if you are reading this from outside of the United States. These instructions are for informational use only.

First you must capture the ortolans. To do this you need one large net and a helpful friend (the taller, the better). At the end of the summer months, find the Ortolan nesting and feeding grounds, climb into the tree and sit patiently with the net. Have your friend do the same at another nesting or feeding ground (as we were not allowed into the zoo property with the nets, we had to focus on the nesting areas). After 15 or 20 minutes the ortolan will return to their nests. In one quick motion, swing the net around the nest and the bird and capture the bird. Gently place the bird in a dark pouch. The dark pouch will instantly calm the bird and you can store it in your jacket pocket while you hunt for more ortolans.


Make sure you have your home prepared for your new guests. A thinly wired or screen cage, about one foot cube should hold as many as 6 ortolans. When you get them home, remove the ortlans from the bag one by one and use tweezers to pluck out their eyeballs. This will be painful for the ortolan momentarily, but it will quickly recover. Place all of your ortolans into the cage and feed with a mixture of oats, millets, and especially figs and other dried fruits. Feed the birds continuously for up to two weeks or until it has reached twice it's original wieght (whichever happens sooner). After the feeding, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then remove the birds from the cage, drown them in a snifter of your finest Armagnac. This will infuse the birds with the wonderful sweet aroma of the Armagnac. The actual cooking of the birds is very simple, put them on a nonstick tray in the hot oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure not to overcook.


The presentation of the ortolan is of the utmost importance. Place the ortolan alone on a plate. Present to the diner with a fresh white napkin.


(The following is an excerpt from Brandon Kiley's excellent tome on gourmet etiquette.)

[Place the napkin] over your head to hide your cruelty from the sight of God. Put the whole bird into your mouth, with only the beak protruding from your lips. Bite. Put the beak on your plate and begin chewing, gently. You will taste three things: First, the sweetness of the flesh and fat. This is God. Then, the bitterness of the guts will begin to overwhelm you. This is the suffering of Jesus. Finally, as your teeth break the small, delicate bones and they begin to lacerate your gums, you will taste the salt of your own blood, mingling with the richness of the fat and the bitterness of the organs. This is the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Trinity—three united as one. It is cruel. And beautiful. According to Claude Souvenir, chewing the ortolan takes approximately 15 minutes.

We followed these instructions and I must say the experience was absolutely breathtaking. I would suggest it to anybody who desires the ultimate gourmet experience and is looking for something beyond the basic foie gras, caviar, or sashimi fugu.

Oh yes, and don't forget to wash it all down with a glass of your finest Bordeaux.

Monday, April 2, 2007

This Weekend's Theme Song or from Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow

the ballad of tantivy mucker-maffick

oh italian gin is a mother's curse,
and the beer of france is septic,
drinking bourbon in spain is the lonely domain
of the saint and the epileptic,
white lightning has fueled up many a hearse
in the mountains where ridge-runner dwell--
its a brew begot in a poison pot,
and mulled with the hammers of hell!

Oh- Tantivy's been drunk in many a place,
from here to the uttermost isle,
and if he should refuse any a chance to booze,
may i die with an hoary-eyed smile!

he's been ossified in oceans of grog,
in the haunts of the wobbly whale--
he's been half-seas over from durban to dover,
wiv four shaky sheets to the gale.
for in london fog or sahara's sun,
or the icebound steeps of zermatt,
loaded up for a lark to 'is plimsoll mark
he's been game to go off on a bat!

repeat refrain

...Thanks John