Friday, April 27, 2012

Tapas in NYC

A couple weeks ago, I celebrated the approaching marriage of one of my favorite people. Not only did we experience all of the ups and downs of college together, she has impeccable taste in food, and we've shared many great meals together over the eleven years that we've known each other.

It was only fitting that one of the highlights of Sarah's bachelorette weekend in New York City was a long, delicious dinner at a cozy Spanish tapas restaurant. The back corner booth at Boqueria Flatiron was the perfect setting for our festivities, and the service was fantastic. 

We all ordered a $40 fixed price menu, which was ultimately eleven or twelve courses, and all were beautifully presented. There were roasted padrones or shishito peppers (one of my favorites), asparagus with romesco sauce, dates stuffed with cheese and an almond and wrapped in bacon, sauteed spinach with chickpeas and raisins, patatas bravas, mushroom and ham croquettes, and crispy potatoes with a poached egg and ham on top. Everything was flavorful and seemed to be somewhat authentic.

I took a photo of the fried quail eggs and chorizo on toast, shown below, because they were so vibrant in both appearance and taste. Our server and the kitchen were extremely attentive to the vegetarian in our group. Her quail egg was complemented by a roasted red pepper instead of chorizo, and marked with a sprinkling of herbs.

Well into the meal, we thought we were almost finished, and then a plate with two golden soft shell crabs was delivered to our table. They were light, crispy, and tasted incredibly fresh.

Thinking that that had to be our final course, we were even more shocked at the arrival of a large dish of paella. Despite the fact that I was close to stuffed, I couldn't pass up the fragrant rice and abundance of seafood staring me in the face. The vegetarian plate with this course was a healthy wedge of Tortilla Espanola, along with an assortment of olives and cheese.

Dessert was also notable: two flans and two sets of churros with warm chocolate for dipping. I may or may not have participated in finishing the chocolate with a spoon.

Eating shared plates or family style with a group always generates conversation, and is a great way for people to get to know each other. It's also a fitting way to honor a close friend, which we certainly did at Boqueria. 

Monday, April 16, 2012


I'm totally ashamed that my Portland post never happened, but now that it's six months (or more) after our trip, I want to at least show off some pictures.

We made the requisite visit to Voodoo Doughnut to indulge in three varieties: the Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate peanut butter with oreo), Maple Bacon Bar, and a commemorative doughnut for Steve Jobs, who passed away the day before.

My cocktail at Whiskey Soda Lounge, which was a special that night and made with one of their infused vinegars. It was spicy and limey - definitely unique!

Whiskey Soda Lounge is under the same brilliant ownership as Pok Pok, and is strategically located across the street so that customers can have a drink or snack while they wait to get into the busy Southeast Asian restaurant. The famous Fish Sauce wings are on the menu at Whiskey Soda Lounge, and they're worth trying there, or at Pok Pok, or both.

We sampled two little cupcakes and a "bonbonbunbun" from Saint Cupcake, which are, according to the bakery's description, "sweet little pillows of buttery brioche dough hand-tossed in a secret mixture of sugar and spice deliciousness." I think that covers it.

Our final meal, and my birthday dinner, was at Meriweather's, a swanky farm to table restaurant with beautifully presented food. Don't let the dark photo mislead you; everything we ate there was fresh and appealing. Davy and I shared a small pantry board, and I had Dungeness Crab Risotto for my entree. My dessert, shown below, was the Dark Chocolate Coffee Torte with honey lavender gelato. It was smooth, rich, and memorable.

There are no pictures documenting our brunch at Tasty N Sons, but it was just as wonderful as our other culinary adventures. The chocolate potato donuts are not to be missed, and I hope that Richmond restaurants will catch onto the idea of small plates for brunch soon.

I feel so lucky that I was able experience a new city so thoroughly, and am still dreaming about the food we ate in Portland, even six months later.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Creme Brulee

As behind as I've gotten in my posting, it's probably no surprise that I didn't open one of my Christmas presents until Valentine's Day.  I had every intention of using my new kitchen torch regularly, but our home was creme brulee-less for the entire month of January.  

Valentine's Day felt like the perfect opportunity to prepare Davy's favorite dessert, and I chose an easy-sounding recipe from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World for my first attempt at creme brulee.  

It's strange to think that such a decadent dessert is comprised of so few ingredients: egg yolks, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean.  You beat the yolks and heat the cream and vanilla bean, and then combine them carefully so as not to curdle the egg.

The mixture is then divided between four ramekins, which are baked in a water bath until the tops are golden and the custard is mostly set.

I made mine the night before Valentine's Day so they would be ready, and we took care of the fun part, using the torch to caramelize the sugar topping, just before we ate them.

We made up for the lost time between Christmas and Valentine's Day, and finished the creme brulees in two days.  They were well worth the wait.