Thursday, July 31, 2008

You Say Tomato, I say Locally Grown

Look at those beauties. Born and raised Lancaster, PA.

Beer Braised Short Ribs

Ah, Beer Braised Short Ribs. Don't those four words just conjure up images of deep, rich, reduced beer, tenderizing tough fatty chuck short ribs. Add a mermaid to serve that to me and you've got my Beer Heaven. At Lacroix, they braise shortribs in Guinness and veal stock, and that was my inspiration for trying my own, beer braised short ribs.

I picked up some bone-in chuck short ribs from whole foods and went to work immediately. I first trimmed them of excess fat, then seared those suckers off in a flaming hot cast-iron pan.

I then removed them from the pan, and added some carrots and celery, caramelizing those veggies before deglazing with red wine. I let the wine reduce to oblivion, and believe me, in that hot pan, the wine evaporated quicker than my guilt of forgoing my summer reading.I then returned the short ribs to the pan and added equal parts Heineken and Beef Stock to cover about 3/4 the ribs. All this went into a 350 degree oven for about 2.5 hours.The rib-tastic result? Incredible. Beer Heaven worthy? Undoubtedly. The ribs were literally falling off the bone, and incredibly tender and flavorful. I'm really into braising now. Look for more dishes of the like in the future.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pinkberry; My New Obsession

I just got back from a New York trip, and I really like Pink Berry. Though I didn't try the Red Mango across the street, Pinkberry is clearly its superior.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Summer Reading

While I should be spending my free time reading this

My summer reading has consisted of things more along the lines of this.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not So Recent Meal at 10 Arts

A while ago I promised you devoted readers a review of 10 Arts. I had this great, long review, that any English teacher would approve of, however due to some major snafu's, it got deleted. Since it's all on the computer, and I can't use the "my dog ate it" excuse, I decided to tell you guys the truth. I however have decided to post a few pics from the meal, with some commentary.
That's the humongous, awesome wine cellar.

What my waiter ingeniously called a "fruitatini."

Mmmm, pate en croute. Mini pork pies.

That's braised pork belly with bean ragout and an herb vinaigrette. Mom wouldn't share :(

That's my appetizer, "Grilled (guess it's not much of a ceviche now is it) octopus ceviche." Flavor was definitely there, but octopus was slightly tough for my liking. Octopus at Lacroix for brunch is better (I'm not being blackmailed).

Rabbit Paillard with arugula/sweet pea salad and mustard sauce. Basically rabbit scalloppini. It was two flat slices of rabbit with mustard and some greens, and yep, that's it. I was expecting a little more out of an entree. The rabbit was good (too lazy to check the thesaurus), and the mustard sauce brightened it up. No new, bold, interesting flavors here. Not worth the money.

Trout, bok choy, hazelnut brown butter. Didn't taste this one. She's a looker though ain't she?

Cheesecake! and strawberry sorbet.

Delicious apricot sorbet, with a few cookies.

Beignets (I hope I spelled that right).

Wild strawberry sorbet. Tried this, delicious.

10 Arts was definitely good and worth going. The slightly expensive prices paired with mediocre food however, may delay your return. Though there are some other "playful" items I would like to try from the lounge menu (soft pretzels with cheddar sauce and jalapeno jam, mini fish burgers, etc.) 10 Arts ultimately falls into the category of a big name (Eric Ripert), no game restaurant- a foodie's worst enemy. Haha just kidding. I wouldn't go that far. Besides, I only went once, and that was opening night! Overall though, it just doesn't seem like Ripert has got his heart and soul put into this one like he does at Le Bernardin. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lacroix 7/19

The most exciting part of my day at Lacroix is when all the brunch prep is finished. Though the prep is necessary, my learning peaks between the time the brunch prep is over and dinner service begins. I am often involved in the determining, and the preparing of the amuse bouche, a tiny, complimentary dish served before the meal. Its main goal being to "amuse the palate" as I am so constantly reminded by my buddies at the restaurant.
I finished up my prep as quickly as I could, and presented my idea for the Bouche (tuna tartare with spicy mayonnaise and a citrus foam) to the macdaddy of the Lacroix Restaurant cooks. He however, turned it down, and rightly so. He had his own little trick up his sleeve.

I started by taking candied cherries and mixing them with some basil, salt, and lime juice and then macerating them by vacuum sealing them with these ingredients (the vacuum seal causes diffusion, osmosis, etc. between the cherries and the other ingredients).

I left the cherries in the vacuum pouch for about an hour before taking them out and putting them on a skewer. I then took some pepperoni that had been picked up from DiBruno earlier that day, and dredged, then deep fried them. I put that on the same skewer as the cherry, and served that with an avocado mousse.

Though I was slightly skeptical when Mr. Macdaddy chef put me up to the task of serving pepperoni, cherry, and avocado on the same plate, my skepticism was not validated after a taste test. The three flavors married beautifully. The sweet cherry juxtaposed (tend to throw that in when I need a big word) the salty and slightly spicy pepperoni. The avocado puree achieved the almost intangible combination of rich and light, and allowed for happy marriage between the pepperoni and cherry. Shortly after I asked "Are we in Disney world? cause that was one roller coaster ride for my taste buds!" (kidding, didn't actually).
I actually received a compliment about my blog from one chef. He said "sometimes you move like you're on pot, but you sure don't write like so." Made me happy. Oh yea and I have copyright on the roller coaster joke if anyone was thinking of using it.

p.s. The pictures are just random photos of Lacroix food, available online. They may be retransmitted, reproduced and duplicated in any way without my express written consent.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I know what you're thinking, but no, Tom Colicchio was never inducted into baseball's hall of fame.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kaffa Crossing

Gday folks, it's been quite a while. I just got back from a 4 day Florida excursion, yet as always, my tan is lacking. I burn like Sandra Lee with food she can't microwave. Oh Yea! High fives all around!
I read a recent article in the Inquirer about an Ethiopian restaurant/coffee shop called Kaffa Crossing. Craig LaBan's review claimed it to be a rare jewel in Philadelphia's Ethiopian Dining scene, and though I had little intention of trying it, when my parents offered to take me, my free meal sensors went wild and I obliged. Ethiopian food is new to me. I knew nothing of the cuisine. My meal at Kaffa Crossing proved to be an enlightening experience.
Kaffa Crossing was primarily known as a coffee shop hangout for college kids, that is, before LaBan's review came out. The room was laid back and the food inexpensive. Sambusas (Ethiopian samosas), filled with lentils, green peppers and herbs, tasted similar, yet far surpassed their Indian counterpart in terms of texture, as the thick crunchy shell maintained a perfect ratio of filling to crust. And a hummus platter severely turned me off the pre-packaged variety.
For our entree, we ordered the Kaffa Veggie Sampler which was a humongous plate of injera bread, covered with spiced, pureed split peas and lentils, collard greens, carrots, and chicken in a tomato based sauce(we ordered chicken separately but asked for it on the same plate). There are honestly few things I have munched up quicker. You eat by breaking off a piece of injera bread and kind of using it like a claw to pick up and of the food on the plate. The soft, spongy injera bread was delicious on its own, yet magnificent when paired with split pea puree and the chicken. The two entrees we ordered easily fed 3. At least I think so, I can't quite recall how much I left for my parents.
If you know me, you know I like to conclude short and sweet. Get to Kaffa Crossing. You will enjoy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Have I been up to?

Hmm, let's see...

-I'm working at my local farmer's market making smoothies with fresh produce (this job brings home the bacon).
-I've ordered Miracle Fruit, and should be receiving it sometime soon (I'll let you know).
-I've made a July 26th reservation for Daniel in New York City.
-I'm hoping to go to Rouge soon, to sample the famous burger.
-I'm sleeping till 1:00 most days of the week.

That's about it!

No Reservations

A new season of No Reservations airs tonight at 10 on the travel channel. Bourdain will be in wartorn Laos. It will no doubt be interesting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chilled Pea Soup and Chicken with Mashed Taters

After reading tons and tons of restaurant blog reviews, I've learned one thing about mashed potatoes; Joel Robuchon is king. This dude is a French chef, now with a bundle of restaurants here in America, who's regarded as one of the best of our time. Possibly the only consensus food bloggers can reach, is that Joel Robuchon's mashed potatoes are the hands down best. I was therefore quite excited when one of the cooks at Lacroix told me that he knew how to make Robuchon's mashed potatoes, and proceeded to tell me how. He said however, that Thomas Keller's mashed potatoes were just as good. Since I had Keller's recipe on paper, I decided to make his. Oh and as for the pea soup, I had made a similar soup at Lacroix a few times and wanted to try it at home.
First I blanched then shocked my market fresh peas. Then I grabbed some basil and mint from my garden, and did the same. I pureed my peas with the mint and basil along with some ice and water. I then drizzled in some cream and made sure it was properly seasoned. I passed the soup through a sieve then let it chill.
Meanwhile, I roasted a chicken, then carved it as best I could. I broke the carcass into a few pieces then browned it in a heavy skillet. I added some butter and garlic and browned the garlic before adding some chicken stock and reducing that to a glaze. I added more chicken stock and reduced that to a suitable consistency.
While that was going on, I gently boiled my Yukon gold potatoes until they were tender. I drained off the water and returned them to the pan for a minute over high heat to remove excess moisture. I removed them, peeled them, then passed them through a strainer. I then put them in a saucepan and heated gently while I added large amounts of butter and cream (I don't think it's a secret why they taste so good).
First I served the pea soup. I crumbled some bacon, then put it in the bowl, while I poured the soup tableside (talk about service). For the mashed potatoes, I put a dollop of mashed potatoes, topped that with a chicken leg, then spooned some sauce over top.
The verdict: Pea soup was good, nothing spectacular. Texture was a little off, I'll strain it more next time. The mashed potatoes were phenomenal, I couldn't stop eating. Be wary though, consumption of those fat bombs requires extended periods of exercise shortly after. The sauce was delicious, and went very well with the chicken and the taters, and of course the chicken was great with the mashed potatoes, are you kidding?