Archives for category: Restaurants

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This was somewhat of a magical spring weekend in Brooklyn. Finally, warmth. Finally, a reason to use sunscreen. Finally, dust off the bike and get in the park. I didn’t waste a minute of it. Saturday I was at the farmer’s market in Grand Army Plaza plucking asparagus and radishes (post to come soon). The cherry blossoms made a rosé carpet of petals. Today it was the Fifth Avenue market in Park Slope, stopping by to visit friends at the Butterstein’s kettle corn stand and Runner & Stone‘s tent for Peter Endriss’s almond croissants and rye miche. Other weekend treats included nettle gnochi (from Runner & Stone’s brick-and-mortar restaurant in Gowanus), tatsoi dressed with lemon and olive oil that I made at home, and these chocolate coconut date bars. Raw, vegan. Inspired by fellow blogger Emily von Euw’s recipe for chocolate cream caramel bars over at This Rawsome Vegan Life.

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My friend Jill and I made some substitutions which ultimately worked well but left us with more of a peanut-butter-and-jelly style bar than a chocolate-cream-caramel. We substituted a cup of dates in the nut butter layer with a cup of dried cherries (because we ran out of dates, oops!); and we used peanut butter instead of cashew butter mostly because it’s cheaper. Next time though I think I’ll try with the cashew butter and dates, but this version is lip-smacking. And there is no baking, no heat involved. All you need is a blender or food processor.

And go see the new Jon Favreau movie Chef. It’s the story of a father learning how to get close to his son. It’s a story about how to make the best Cubanos. About how not to settle in life. Just don’t watch this movie hungry like I did.

I also include a photo below of the new Dan Graham installation on the Met’s rooftop garden. If you’re in New York, go see it!  The views, even on a rainy misty evening, are sublime.

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Chocolate Coconut Date Bars (Raw & Vegan)
Adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life

For the crust:
1 1/4 cup almond flour (or 1 cup almonds)
1 cup dates
pinch of salt

For the nut butter layer:
1/2 cup peanut butter or cashew butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup dried cherries or dates

For the chocolate layer:
1/3 cup coconut oil
2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup sweetener (I used date syrup; maple syrup or honey would work)
Sea salt, for sprinkling

To make the crust:
Blend the almonds (or almond flour) with the dates in a food processor or blender until smooth and stuck together. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a loaf pan or 8 x 8 baking pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest.

To make the remaining two layers:
Mix the nut butter, coconut oil, and dried cherries or dates in your food processor or blender until smooth. Pour over the slightly chilled crust layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the final layer. Wipe out your blender and add the remaining coconut oil, cocoa powder, and sweetener. Blend until smooth and pour this final layer on top. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Or in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Before serving sprinkle some Maldon sea salt flakes over the top.

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You may have heard the northeastern U.S. got hit with a snowstorm Thursday night and New York City was no exception. It wasn’t massive or anything, maybe 8 inches, but it was enough to quiet the city the way that snow does here—by night, almost no cars on the road save for some yellow cabs and black livery cars, and by day, parents with children and sleds in tow headed for the parks.

As luck would have it I had to work my monthly shift at the Park Slope Food Coop yesterday, and while there, packaging cheddars and enjoying the rare luxury of an empty coop (no lines!), I got inspired to make two favorite cold-weather foods: cheese fondue and gingerbread. A shift-mate told me she was planning to make a gingerbread cake with Guinness and I thought, that’s just the thing. A gingerbread made with stout and molasses.

I found this recipe via the Smitten Kitchen blog, Claudia Fleming’s gingerbread from her days at Gramercy Tavern (but more recently of North Fork Table & Inn—I stayed there once, the breakfast was memorable). It produces a dark and stormy kind of gingerbread, with bite, not a timid cake. It’s intense and moody and spicy and just the way I like it. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar on top of the 1 cup of molasses, so of course I reduced this, leaving out 1 cup of sugar and I think it’s just right this way. I also don’t own a bundt pan so cooked this in a glass 9 x 9 inch dish which worked out just fine. The cooking time was 45 minutes. (Only thing is this recipe produces more batter than I could fit in that sized dish so I’m left with a little excess batter which I plan to make into gingerbread muffins later today.)

Oh and I finally joined twitter. Much to my surprise, having a blast. Follow me @laduelala. Tweeting and retweeting on all manner of #food #art #architecture #yoga.

Molasses Stout Gingerbread
Adapted from Claudia Fleming

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar (either packed dark brown sugar or 1/2 brown sugar 1/2 maple syrup)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Accompaniment: Unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a bundt pan (or other baking dish) generously and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature. Note: make sure saucepan is large because when the baking soda is added the mixture puffs up like a soufflé.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into your pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes in a bunt, 45 minutes in a 9 x 9 square dish. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s also nice served with a cup of black tea.

Some say this gingerbread is better if made a day ahead.

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Photo below of the Christopher Wool exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. It’s up til the 22nd of January.

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It’s time I say goodbye to my dear friend Sarah. She was visiting me from Vancouver since Friday and we had a blast all over NYC. Highlights include: visiting the Tomás Saraceno sculpture on the roof of the Met (that’s a reflection of me in the sculpture above); eating in the new Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg @ Reynards; joking about “man repellent” clothing; Jones Beach; an inversion workshop at Jivamukti yoga school; and dinner at Kyo Ya.

Sarah and I met fourteen years ago at Pearson College on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, a wonderfully bizarre, idyllic school that brings students together from around the world to promote international peace. She was an alternative skateboarding punk from B.C. and we bonded instantly. Since then we’ve been pretty good about visiting each other nearly every year—sometimes I go to Vancouver and more often she comes here to NYC. Below is us at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene, doing our part at brokering peaceful international relations.

We ate like queens while she was in town. Three meals in particular stood out. Friday night we dined at the bar of Gwynnett Street, the new Williamsburg joint run by two former WD-50 chefs, Justin Hilbert and Owen Clark. Pete Wells gave this place two stars back in April, writing:

And while it is a restaurant in Brooklyn, Gwynnett St. is not really a Brooklyn restaurant. There are no butchers’ tools hanging from reclaimed barn doors. Under the eye of Carl McCoy, the proprietor, the dining room staff is calmly professional, utterly free of pretense and attitude. Nobody is the least bit likely to pull up a chair and offer to show you pictures of the sauerkraut the chef is currently fermenting inside a pair of Red Wing boots.

If only he were kidding about the sauerkraut pictures. But who am I to judge? I’m brewing kombucha atop my fridge as I write. At least it’s not brewing in my Toms shoes. Anyway…not only was the food at Gwynnett really solid, the service was attentive and atmosphere lively without being loud. I love a restaurant where you would just as much want to dine at the bar as a table—Dressler being one of my favorites for this—and Gwynnett is such a place. We started with whiskey bread served with cultured butter from VT, and a pea & mint salad. The peas were full of spring—bright and fresh and grassy—and the whiskey bread was decadent and a hint sweet. We then had duck that tasted like perfectly charred steak, and, just to be redundant, the steak with radishes two ways. (My mostly vegan diet mostly went out the window this week – I’m back on the wagon though. Side note: a guy turned to me in line at Chop’t yesterday and said: you know why this line is so long? Everybody was at the beach this weekend and thought, “I need to start eating salads for lunch.” Ha!) For dessert we had what tasted like amazing peanut butter and jelly, but was actually milk chocolate ganache, peanut crumble, and black currant somethingorother.

I had also been wanting to try Reynards, Andrew Tarlow’s new joint in the Wythe Hotel, also in Williamsburg. Shout out to my friend Hale Everets and his team for a really elegant redesign of this former waterfront factory. We met up with our friend Ella, also from our Pearson days, whom I hadn’t seen in many years, and feasted on a beet-and-mint salad; nettle toast; arctic char with spring vegetables; house-made sausage; lobster and peas poached in butter; chocolate olive oil cake; and Mast Brothers chocolate sorbet. The food was creative without being fussy. It was seasonal and fresh and really well seasoned. The place is a little sceney for everyday eating, but perfectly fun with out-of-town guests on a balmy holiday weekend. The staff are effortlessly hip in that Williamsburg way—lots of short denim cut-offs, wedge heels, and Warby Parker eyeglasses—but the clientele leaned more toward a slightly older out-of-town crowd with gold jewelry and blue blazers, guests of the hotel I imagine. After dinner we skipped the half-hour lineup for the rooftop bar (see what I mean, sceney) and headed down to Zebulon. I dig Reynards open kitchen design (below), to which we had front row seats.

And last but not least, there was Kyo Ya. For Sarah’s last night in town I thought dinner at this five-year-old Japanese joint hidden on East 7th Street was the proper sendoff. I made the reservation weeks ago. Since it was (also) reviewed in the Times not long ago, I didn’t want to take any chances. This place is charming in a hushed but not snobby way. It’s the kind of place you wish there were more of in this crazy loud city of no-reservation restaurants, open kitchens, new American cuisine, cool kids everywhere, and savvy marketing behind the next new thing. Kyo Ya is kind of opposite. The antidote to Gwynnett St. and Reynards, which don’t get me wrong, I really liked.

For starters, there’s something like ten tables at Kyo Ya. And a quaint staircase off the street level leading you to the subterranean restaurant (above). The entrance has leaves pressed between two large panes of glass and I noticed instantly upon entering that I was put at ease. We ordered a la carte rather than kaiseki, and chose the sea urchin, two bites worth of luscious uni served with small sheets of nori and fresh wasabi; chawanmushi, a silky, savory custard with shrimp and gingko nuts, among the best I’ve ever had; a smoked potato salad, made by dressing the potatoes in a smoked soy sauce; one of their specialities—pressed sushi with soy-marinated Canadian salmon (photo below); and snapper chazuke—a pot of rice served with snapper sashimi and little side toppings like shiso, wasabi, tiny cubes of daikon. At the end you pour green tea over your bowls of rice and mix with the leftover chazuke sauce. Each bite at Kyo Ya is a kind of revelation, a testament to chef Chikara Sono’s inventiveness paired with reverence for tradition.

And here’s the uni…

It was a decadent meal in a very understated way, quite a fitting end to my week with Sarah.

Gwynnett St.
312 Graham Ave., Brooklyn

Reynards
80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn

Kyo Ya
94 E. 7th St., East Village

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