Happy New Year!!! Apologies for being so late in updating this lil bloggie, but things have been pretty nuts for me lately. I've started a new 9-5 gig, which was a huge change for me, and fortunately that is going well. All of the anxiety and preparation for the new gig ate up lots of my time and energy as of late. Speaking of eating, I have managed to eat at some amazing places (OF COURSE!) and had some great experiences recently that I must update you on!!
I was in New York over the holidays and managed to hit up a number of great spots during my stay. I was able to try out A Salt and Battery, made famous by Food Network's "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." While the fish, a much more available and local Pollock than the traditional fillet of Cod, was fried and flavored perfectly, I wasn't a huge fan of the chips. They could have been crispier, as they were a bit chewy. But overall, it was a good plate of fish and chips, and probably the closest to authentic as we would get on this side of the pond. I would still recommend giving it a try, even if just to see the certificate naming A Salt and Battery the winner of the Throwdown.
For a much more formal dining experience, my boyfriend and I gave Harold Dieterle, winner of Top Chef Season 1, a chance to wow us with his Greenwich Village bistro Perilla. He did not disappoint. Photo: perillanyc.com
The bistro is quite large for a New York restaurant. Not overly pretentious yet classy, the atmosphere resembles Harold's personality - laid back and yet quietly ambitious. The extensive wine list and the menu attest to Harold's thoughtful creativity. They offered a couple different tasting menus, including a five course Lamb tasting, as well as a five course New Year's exclusive "Lucky Duck" tasting, in honor of the New Year good luck tradition. As tempting as both tastings sounded, we wanted to make sure we tried a few different items on the menu.
We started with a Winter Vegetable Salad, with a which was seasoned perfectly with enough peppery bite of fresh greens and endive, and a smooth touch of ricotta salata, small tofu-like pieces of creamy ricotta. The vinaigrette brought it all together like glue. It cleansed the palate very well and prepared us for the upcoming heavy hitters.
Even though we didn't try the full shebang, my boyfriend opted for the next best Lamb Three Ways entree. This included roasted leg of lamb, crispy lamb belly and seared lamb chop popsicle. I am actually not a huge fan of lamb. However, this has recently been changing, thanks to lamb dishes like this one at Perilla that are obviously delicately prepared and make the lamb stand out, giving my favorite beef dishes a run for their money. The freshness of the lamb and the enhancing seasoning left a great "flavory" (flavor memory) with me.
Since I couldn't get the Lucky Duck tasting menu off my mind, I ordered the Smoked Duck Breast served over a bed of couscous and some crisp popcorn bits, dressed with a sweet vinaigrette. The popcorn was surprisingly quite crunchy in spite of being surrounded by juicy and fatty elements, and it oddly worked wonderfully with the tender couscous and the buttery duck. I will be attempting to recreate this dish at home, albeit a terrible variation or not. Or I'll die trying. I can't wait to go back to NY to try this dish again.
We paired our entrees with Roasted Brussel Sprouts Leaves, made with dried cranberries and pine nuts. The bitterness of the brussel sprouts leaves was offset beautifully by the sweetness of the cranberries, without overshadowing the mild flavor of the crunchy pine nuts. And it was a green item, making us feel like we ate something somewhat nutritious. Not that being nutritious or not would have stopped us anyway.
After enjoying Harold's talent and touch on the food, it is obvious why he was selected as the winner of Top Chef. Definitely swing by and give Perilla a whirl.
I definitely have some more updates for you, like:
** My audition for Gordon Ramsay's new upcoming cooking show on Fox, MasterChef - one word preview: HINDSIGHT. As in, my hindsight is definitely 20/20...
** Thomas Keller's Bouchon - one word preview: AMAZING...
** AND... my quiet love for fashion will be integrated into my SCREAMING love for food. Let's see if/how I can make the two work...
Looking forward to keeping the EPICURIOSITY alive and well!!!! Happy New Year, everyone!!