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48 Hours in New York City


We headed to NYC for the premiere of Mike’s latest documentary “Gringos at the Gate.” If you are into soccer especially the US -Mexico rivalry check it out (shamless plug). Anyways, I went mainly for the food. I had each day planned out weeks before we left. Here was our itinerary…

DAY 1

Our flight arrived at JFK at 8am and by 9:30am we were waiting in line for a table at Clinton St. Baking Company – yes, there was a 30 minute wait on a Tuesday. But it was voted best pancakes in NY by New York magazine and Martha (Stewart) is on their website homepage so I knew it had to be good. I ordered the eggs benedict -poached eggs, maple cured ham, classic hollandaise,over a toasted buttermilk biscuit. Awesome. Loved the biscuit and the chopped onion/ bell peppers on top gave it a zesty kick. Mike chose the famous wild maine blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter. Super light and fluffy. Worth the wait. CASH ONLY! This held us over till dinner.

I had to hit at least one of Mario Batali’s NY restaurants and we chose LUPA OSTERIA ROMANA which is a casual spot specializing in Roman trattoria fare. This was our best meal of the trip. Everything tasted superb. We had some great wine and service. Prices were reasonable but make sure you order a couple courses per person or you will leave hungry.

Apps: Seasonal salad with asparagus and peas

and

Roasted Mushrooms w/ Cavolo Nero & Ricotta Salata

Mains: *Special of the day* Fresh pasta with braised pork
and
Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage & Fennel

We skipped dessert and walked to Puddin’ a sweet shop that serves up different flavors of pudding. I know, brilliant idea! We ordered some of the signature (pre-made) minis so we could sample a bunch.

My favorite was the Caramel Macchiato (coffee /chocolate puddings, brownie pieces, salted caramel sauce) followed by Banana Cream Dream (banana pudding, graham cracker crumbs, banana cake,whipped cream). Before arriving I would have bet that my fav would have been the Coconut Cruise (coconut pudding, pineapple, coconut-soaked lime cake, graham cracker crumbs) but it had a weirdly thick consistency that didn’t move me.

DAY 2

With all that eating I had to schedule some sort of exercise. We had never been to Central Park and after some research many said the best way to see it all (since it is 843 acres) is by bike. We took a guided 2-hour  Bike Tour and had a beautiful ride. Look for coupons …they are out there. I found one for $10 off each person!

We finished up around noon so we walked to Shake Shack for lunch. This is NYC’s version of In-N-Out.

2 burgers and fries

We added a Fair Shake to our burger order -vanilla shake featuring 100% certified organic Arabica Fair Trade coffee. Yum! Something different for a fast food joint …they serve beer & wine too.
I was worried about eating a burger in the middle of the day since we were having dinner early but it was miniature…more like a slider. It was a very fresh and tasty burger. Did it put I-N-O to shame? I think not. Both do things well so I’m gonna leave it as a tie.

cereal milk soft serve with corn flakes – tasted best when it was all melted.

Next stop momofuku milk bar to pick up some treats for the plane ride home. Cookies and crack pie. I tried to make this pie at home a couple years ago. Mine came out good but this was mind blowing. Made the flight much more enjoyable : )

I couldn’t pass this soft serve up since it was really HOT out. I needed the energy to walk back to the hotel. Sooo much walking in the city!

Our final dinner was at The dutch. I had heard tons of good press about this place especially for the lunch/brunch. We were in a hurry because we arrived late and had to get to the premiere so we didn’t get to experience all it has to offer (namely THE PIE) but what we did have let’s just say I was not impressed. The food was just so-so and really expensive for what you got. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all!
I still ♥ NY

Note: The next morning before we jumped on our plane back to CALI we took a walking food tour of Greenwich village. Check it out here

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Eggplant Parmesan: Parmigiana di Melanzane

eggplantparm
OMG! This was awesome. Little stacks from heaven. Mario put his foot in this recipe. If you like eggplant, you’ll love this…heck, if you don’t like eggplant I have a feeling you’ll like this. It was time consuming and messy to make (why are eggplant recipes always so complicated?) but sooo worth it. The tomato sauce that went along with this will now be our go-to pasta sauce. I would of been happy with just a bowl of sauce!

Recipe link

Ziti with Pesto Pantesco

batalipasta

I picked this Mario Batali recipe because we had not been to the grocery in a week and it included ingredients that we had at home. This is similar to a dish I have made many times but this is a bit more zippy in flavor. I love this kind of pasta sauce because you toss everything in a blender and you’re done. Super easy and fast. Make sure you don’t try this on a first date because the garlic is potent.

Recipe link (we used penne and 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes!)

Chicken Parmesan battle

Bon Appétit “Classic” vs. “New” Chicken Parm battle

I found two chicken parmesan recipes from Bon Appétit. The Sept 2008 cover featured a classic version by Mario Batali’s Otto restaurant and the June 2008 issue featured a new somewhat healthier version. Mike and I made both to see… which recipe reigned supreme.

The “classic” version was pretty time consuming to make but worth it. The sauce was tangy and the chicken ooey gooey. Many dishes benefit from some time in the fridge –this is not one of them. Starve yourself for the day and tuck-in! This is best pipin’ hot out the oven.

Modifications to sauce : Mike added fresh oregano plus 1/2 can of tomato paste to thicken.   Classic Recipe link

Classic

The “new” recipe was fast and easy to prepare. The garlic chicken covered in cheese was super juicy, and the roasted tomatoes burst in your mouth and were a perfect complement to the chicken. It was a fresh and light dish but when all was said and done I didn’t really feel like I was eating chicken parmesan.

Modifications: I added Italian seasoning and fresh basil to the dish to punch up the flavors.  New Recipe link

New

THE VERDICT: both were good in their own ways but if I had to pick a winner it would be… the Classic … you can’t beat crispy chicken slathered with tomato sauce & bubblin’ mozzarella!

Caprese Salad

A couple times a year we have a wine & food night with friends. The evening consists of decadent food and many bottles of fantastic wine. This time Mike and I were assigned the salad course.

I attempted to make the Caprese Salad Mike and I ate at Enoteca San Marco last month. I had found an adaptation of the recipe online. I will admit I didn’t have time to make the pesto so I picked some up at Whole Foods. It was fresh and had the exact same ingredients the recipe called for but it was not as garlicky as I would have liked.

The 2 hour roasted tomatoes turned out well but didn’t have the same consistency as I remember at Enoteca. Enoteca looked and tasted more like stewed tomatoes.

Final verdict: No complaints from the foodies but I think I could do better.

You can find the original recipe in Mario’s cookbook:Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

Enoteca San Marco

On our last night in Vegas we decided to have a light, casual meal at Mario Batali’s Enoteca San Marco at the Venetian. The restaurant is located in the Grand Canal Shoppes area of the hotel.

We started things off with a Caprese salad. It was the most interesting and tasty version of a caprese salad that I’d ever had. No sliced tomatoes and cheese. What we received was a ball of mozzarella surrounded by roasted tomatoes and covered in garlic pesto and pinenuts. I actually found a version of the recipe on epicurious. I plan on making this at home. Recipe link

or you can find the original recipe in Mario’s cookbook: Molto Italiano

Mike and I then shared an order of veal and ricotta meatballs and the cavatappi primavera which is corkscrew pasta and fresh veggies tossed with olive oil and cheese. Both were outstanding. We of course couldn’t leave without getting dessert. We had seen gelato shops all over Vegas for 2 days and we waited until now to get any. We chose 2 sundaes to share. Yes, two! The first was banana gelato with walnuts, chopped banana, carmel sauce and mini banana muffins. YUM!! The second was espresso gelato with marscapone, espresso bean chips, chocolate sauce and lady fingers. YUM YUM!! Both were deliciously sinful. Enoteca is great for lunch or dinner. In addition to the pasta they offer thin personal pizzas and many antipasti dishes. We highly recommend you visit.

This was a wonderful way to end our Vegas vacation. In regards to the weekend battle between Flay and Batali… Who’s cuisine reigned supreme? Chef Batali!

Rating: halfdrumstick

Website: http://www.venetian.com/ENOTECA.aspx

Enoteca San Marco (Venetian) on Urbanspoon

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