Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In a New York State of Mind: Part 1

Tisk tisk, Victoria. I have been MIA for the month of August and offer my sincerest apologies. I have a good excuse, though. I've been eating... a lot. I was in New York City last week on a bit of a food excursion. Not only was it still Restaurant Week in the city (it's been extended until Labor Day so get on it if you haven't already), but I also tried out a lot of the city's other treasures. I am here now to share with you some of my greatest finds on my most recent visit to the Big Apple! Brace yourselves for Part 1 of my journey (and tune in later for Part 2)!

Food Discovery #1: Astoria, Queens

Anyone who knows anything about Astoria in the borough of Queens knows that it is famous for its Greek cuisine. Everywhere you turn you see Greek restaurant after Greek restaurant. I didn't try nearly enough of them to point out a singular favorite for my reader's to try. I can point you towards Omonia Cafe for their incredible bakery which produced the wedding cake for My Big Fat Greek Wedding and features countless yummy treats to fatten up anyone with a sweet tooth. They also have a great brunch deal on weekends from 11am to 4pm which gives you an entree, a dessert, a beverage and a cocktail for $12.95!

Strapatsada: Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes, Feta, and Oregano, Served with Pita Bread

Amygdalou: Layers of White Sponge Cake Filled with Vanilla Custard, Light Almond Flavor, Topped with Fresh Chantilly Cream
We also tried Taverna Sofia, formally called S'Agapo Taverna. They had tasty saganaki (baked Greek cheese) and hummus, and everyone's food I tried was delicious! I actually liked my neighbors' food better than my own as I had ordered the grilled red snapper, which was served whole and made it difficult to eat while discarding all the bones and trying not to choke on them. Never been a huge fan of eating whole fish, but in any case, the rest of the meal was quite delicious!

Saganaki (Baked Greek Cheese)


Grilled Red Snapper with Rice
Food Discovery #2: New York Style Bagels

Now, I know that the most famous bagels in New York come from H&H Bagels on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I, however, never made it there this trip. I did enjoy some really delicious bagels at the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company in Astoria. They were HUGE and delicious, accompanied by at least a dozen possible cream cheeses and spreads. It made my head spin, but I managed to finally choose an everything bagel toasted with sun-dried tomato cream cheese. Yum! Just look at the size of that bagel!

Large Bagel with Flavored Cream Cheese $4.45

Food Discovery #3: The Food Network Doesn't Lie

I saw A Salt & Battery featured on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay in the fish and chips challenge and knew immediately that I'd need to try it out when I got to town. It was everything I thought it would be and more! The employees are certainly British, calling me "my love" every chance they got (gotta love it!) and the fare was certainly British as well, the best fish and chips I've had outside of London. The fish was moist and delicious with an incredible crust! The tartar sauce was homemade and far better than any I've had in the past (relish in mayonnaise anyone?), and the chips were lovely as well. I'd definitely stop in here again for more of their tasty fish and chips!

Large Pollock and Small Chips $12.45

Food Discovery #4: Restaurant Week Makes Fine Dining Affordable!

I enjoy fine dining, but also must do so on a budget. New York is a very expensive city, and I have expensive taste, especially when it comes to food (caviar and foie gras, anyone?) so when I realized that Restaurant Week had been extended this year until Labor Day, I knew that I would have many great opportunities to try places I couldn't normally afford to eat at all in one week at full price. Lunches are $24.07 for three courses, while dinner is $35 for three courses.  Let's get started with my choices...

Bar Boulud was my first Restaurant Week excursion in New York. I thought the service was great and the food was yummy, although I couldn't polish off the giant dish of mussels which I had been presented. At least I saved room for dessert!

Pâté Grand-Mère: Fine Country Pâté of Chicken Liver, Pork and Cognac (so delicious!)

Moules Belge: Mussels Steamed in Wheat Beer, Lemon, Coriander Cream, Onions, Herbs

Praline Rouge Bavaroise: Praline Rouge Mousse, Lemon Anglaise, Sable Breton
Next on my culinary journey was Petrossian. A big part of why I came here was to have caviar (one of my favorite luxuries in life), for which they are famous. The rest of my meal fell right into place as well, with a tasty duck breast and a classic mixed fruit tart. I'm so looking forward to my next visit here!

Transmontanus USA Farmed Caviar (12g Presentation)

Seared Long Island Duck Breast with Parsnip Puree, Orange Suprême, and Apricot Sauce

Fruit Tart with Pineapple Sorbet

Jean-Georges is arguably the best restaurant in the city, and lucky for me the slightly more casual eatery adjacent to it (Nougatine at Jean-Georges) is also participating in Restaurant Week! Score! They also offer their lunch prix fix menu year round for a couple bucks more than Restaurant Week so it's worth trying out any time of year. This was easily one of the best meals I've had! Thanks to Justin the awesome bartender who made it especially great :)

Tuna Tartare, Avocado, Spicy Radish, and Ginger Marinade (the best I've ever had!)

Pan-Roasted Red Snapper with Gold Bar Squash, Tomato Compote, Green Olives, Fresh Herbs and Olive Oil (simply amazing!)
Vanilla Cake with Fresh Strawberry Salad and Red Wine Sorbet
My last Restaurant Week experiment was at Butter, restaurant to the stars! Again, impeccable service (I think my waitress's name was Rachel, and she was awesome) alongside incredible food. I don't think I went wrong once with my choices! The entire meal was superb, but I would especially like to note that the raspberry beignets are smokin' (literally)! They are served piping hot, filled with gooey raspberry filling, coated in sugar and accompanied by a cool vanilla sauce for dipping. Yum! These alone would bring me back to Butter :)

Homemade Charcuterie Plate: Duck Mortadella, Fennel Salami, Chicken Sausage and Chicken Liver on Toast (Yum!)

Crispy Duck Confit with Lentils, Tuscan Kale, Crispy Onions, and Chestnut Honey Gastrique

Raspberry Beignets with Vanilla Dipping Sauce (Heaven!)

Complimentary Mango Chocolates

Tune in later this week for more of my culinary explorations in the City That Doesn't Sleep!


The Duo Dishes said...

Wow. All of that was part 1?? Amygdalou takes the cake. Pun intended.

Victoria K. said...

Haha! I ate SO much food! I'll hopefully post part 2 tomorrow so check back :) God, I love New York!

Miranda said...

Everything looks so terrific. Thank you for sharing!!!

Jessie said...

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time! I forgot about the Omonia Cafe, I walked past there once and I was drooling at all of the great desserts they had.

I can't wait to see what your next food discoveries are going to be :)

myblissfulbites said...

Great NYC choices! Glad you enjoyed your trip. I love A Salt & Battery and Greenwich Ave in general. Great shops and restaurants :)

Victoria K. said...

Thanks, guys! I will be posting more tomorrow most likely so check back! It's hard to go wrong in a city with so many great places :)

rhodeygirltests said...

Looks delicious Victoria! Did I tell you we got to take a cooking lesson at the Jean Georges restaurant in Bora Bora?? It was sooo awesome!

Loved hearing about all of these amazing places!

Victoria K. said...

Yes, Sabrina, and thanks! I read about that in your blog! How awesome is that? I loved Nougatine, but next time I want to try food off their formal menu :-D Can't wait!

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