Tag Archives: UWS

Say Cheese! and then Yes Please!

French Onion "Soup" Grilled and Fig-Smoke Gouda Grilled Cheese Halves

French Onion "Soup" Grilled and Fig-Smoke Gouda Grilled Cheese Halves

Well who doesn’t love grilled cheese? And snow cones? And mac ‘n cheese? And homemade rosemary-lemonade? I can’t think of a more drool-inducing menu from Say Cheese!, a gourmet grilled cheese-focused sandwich shop that just opened up around the corner from me.

The brick-walled shop is adorned with antiquities that relay a certain charm on a street otherwise comprised of rental car companies and cheap nail salons. The space is open, with standing-room only tables and wall-counters and a no-step doorway, that makes this very stroller-friendly for the Upper West Side bugaboo-pushers.

Say Cheese!Snow Cones. With flavors like Swedish Fish, Root Beer and Ginger Lemongrass, this menu will attract both kids and kids-at-heart. Their clever “Farm to Glass” sno cones use only freshly squeezed fruits and vegetables and are created from herb infused simple syrups from their own mini herb garden, incorporating natural sweeteners such as honey and agave.

Say Cheese. You can stick with the standard American on Potato Bread, but if you’re ready to stray in the the world of creative crafted cheese, try the “French Onion Soup” with a reduced sweet onion spread slathered between slices of gruyere and swiss and melted to perfection. Or if you want to go with my personal favorite, try the Smoked Gouda & Fig smooooshed between peasant bread — it is the sweet, smokey combo that dreams are made of. Add maple bacon or tomato to any sandwich for a wee fee, or accessorize with eye-popping treats such as the Candied Bacon Lollipops or Super Cream Mac ‘n Cheese {with bacon! or truffle!} Stop the insanity.

Say Cheese Menu

Say Cheese Menu

The Skim: I couldn’t possibly list all the items I want to inhale, so check it out yourself {full menu here}. If you’re braving the Upper West Side for an afternoon in the park, this might just be the perfect box lunch to carry into New York City’s big backyard.

Map: 142 West 83rd Street (Between Amsterdam & Columbus Avenues)
Reservations: Available for Private Parties 
Email: Bridget@scoozievents.com 

Feel Like a Kid Again:
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups {bottom of post}
Blueberry, Lemon & Coconut Pancakes
Goat Town’s Non-*Goat* ‘Scream
Luke’s Low-Key Lobster Roll Licks Competition {And My Lips}
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
Soft & Salty Snack @Sigmund Pretzelshop

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NYC Best: I’m In Love with Jacob’s Pickle

Jacob's Pickles Warms West Side

Jacob's Pickles Warms West Side

At first glance you might think this picture is of a really cool bar in Brooklyn. Lucky for upper west siders, it’s the newly opened Jacob’s Pickles — an outpost that took over a former lighting store and is bringing a new brightness to the neighborhood’s dining scene. Serving a menu centered around artisanal Beer, Biscuits, Pickles, Jams and Sustainably-Raised Meats, owner Jacob Hadjigeorgis saw an opportunity to bring simple American craft-comfort cuisine to an area that doesn’t welcome news-worthy restaurant openings with the same frequency as stops below 14th-street. I think Jacob is going to be a new friend.

American Craft-Comfort CuisineThe atmosphere has a casual elegant buzz about it. Soft lighting illuminates a wood-planked wall of bottles and jars behind the bar. The opposite wall is lined with tables intimately spaced along an elevated black leather banquette — the looks of which any man’s man would like in his own living room. Sit across from the banquette or at the bar and you’ve scored a seat in the most comfortable and cool looking bar stools I’ve seen in a long time. I should have taken a picture of these perfect perches, but with a deep seat, a back and arm rests, I promise they are the vehicles fit for a lengthy pickling session {you, not the gherkins}. The music is subtle so you can still have a conversation, but adds to the warm vibe — if I didn’t know any better, it could have been my ipod playing. It was the energy of the crowd that was really humming — I was enthralled.

The menu: 25 American craft beers on tap list some of my favorites {Founder IPA from Michigan}, as well as others begging to be sampled {Speakeasy-Prohibition Ale from California}. Intriguing cocktails include the Dirty Aphrodite, a martini made dirty with dill pickle brine, and the B.L.T Bloody Mary, which sounds like breakfast in a glass with peppercorn vodka, Niman Ranch bacon and a jalapeno pickled egg. There’s also a selection of artisanal root beers on tap, lemonade and other craft sodas if you’re looking to keep things simple. But even those can be converted to a float if you want to take it to another level. For the truly over the top treat, try the Sixpoints-Otis Oatmeal Stout float or the Allagash Black float. Beer and ice cream? Awesome.

Honey, Chicken and Pickles Southern Biscuit Sandwich

Honey, Chicken and Pickles Southern Biscuit Sandwich

But don’t get too carried away with the drink selection before you order up some grub. Like pickles? You’ve come to the right place — special or hot sours, candied beets, salt & pepper asparagus, sweet & spicy carrots, sour green tomatoes are just a few ways to get started. There also seemed to be a lot of fried pickle plates coming out of the kitchen {everything tastes better fried}. Our neighbors were ooohing and aaahing over the mac ‘n cheese — not surprising, since Jacob owns a mac n’ cheese shop in Boston, which was his primary focus before gracing us with his presence. The southern biscuit sandwiches all sounded outstanding — we tried the creamy mushroom gravy smothered chicken and the honey, chicken & pickles versions. The latter of which was my order and was the perfect sweet-salty-vinegary marriage of flavors. I swapped out the cheese grits for fries and the house ketchup {which I would bottle up and take home, if I could}. Speaking of which, if you just can’t get enough of these specialties, you can take home jars of their house-made pickles, preserves and 32- or 64-oz refillable growlers of beer. I’ll have to speak to Jacob about adding his ketchup to the pantry. Full menu here.

As if you don’t already have enough reasons to hop on the northbound subway, Jacob’s Pickles will be hosting a daily beer tasting from 3-6pm, which will also feature specials. Sounds like a perfect reason to leave work early.

The Skim: Good vibe. Good beer. Good grub. ‘nough said.  Will be back for more — tomorrow. This newcomer has quickly won me over and despite only opening a month ago, I’m adding it to my Favor8 list.

Map: 509 Amsterdam Avenue {Between 84th / 85th}
Reservations: Not taken
Phone: 212.470.5566 


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Other Favor8s:
The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand 
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
The Beagle: A Restaurant You Should Be Loyal To


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Luke’s Low-Key Lobster Roll Licks Competition {And My Lips}

Luke's Lobster Roll

Luke's Lobster Roll

I’ve had many a lobster roll in NYC. It’s like the great burger debate — everyone always wants to know who tops the competition. So naturally I have made my way about town sampling each take on the warm-weather favorite — Mermaid Oyster Bar, Pearl Oyster Bar, Lure, Ed’s. But I was especially excited to see the UWS dining renaissance lure two new lobster shacks in the past month: Luke’s Lobster and Ditch Plains. This is a no-lose situation for a lobster lover to have two walking-distance destinations to visit, but I have to say I was especially excited to see Luke’s join the ‘hood.

Instead of a walk-in chinese take-out, we now have a walk-in Lobster counter. Nothing fancy — a few bar stools and a parchment-lined red plastic diner basket is all you really need to focus your attention more properly on the simple, but standout sammie. You order at the counter from a simple seafood, soda, soup and chip menu that is Maine-sourced, and in a matter of a few seconds dinner is served.

Luke’s was only started two years ago, but owner, Luke Holden, has long been connected to the Maine coastal waters. He sources all his lobster meat from his father’s sustainable Maine seafood company, making his the only roll that’s traceable from the sea floor to your plate {love this!} What’s truly special is the lobster is only graced with a small amount of mayo, lemon butter and a few “secret spices.”  Everything should have some secret spice on it in my opinion, but the true secret to why this particular lobster roll stands out amongst the crowd is the fresh sweet claw meat that is used for each roll. This is also why you pay far less than any other lobster shack since there is much more market demand for the tail meat. The best deal on the menu: for only $21 you can get half a lobster roll, half a shrimp roll, half a crab roll, a pair of Empress claws, Miss Vickie’s chips and a Maine Root soda!

The Skim: Now that the sun is starting to shine and Spring seems to finally be here, I say break out the plastic bib and get thee to Luke’s Lobster. They also deliver, so if you prefer to enjoy from the comfort of your stoop, divine lobster goodness is only a phone call away.

Map426 Amsterdam Avenue
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 212.877.8800

Other Warm Weather Winners:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare 

NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

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NYC Best: A Cafe Stands For…

A Cafe Gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry

Adventurous…Alluring…Anonymous…Appetizing…the A train??

A Café has been a small eating haven on the upper west side for over 10 years, but somehow I never discovered it until recently. It’s not the type of place you walk by and take notice of. The front is anonymously non-descript, it’s nestled next to a defunct custom hardwood floor shop and the name itself doesn’t exactly provide any tantalizing color. But should you venture inside this small space, you will find organic French Caribbean cuisine worth writing about and a BYOB policy to jump for joy over {hard to find in NYC}. What’s even more exciting? They take reservations and offer a prix fixe menu for $25 from 6-8pm. Ok, so it’s inexpensive, easy to get into, personal wine collection-friendly and quaint, but the food?

Amazing.

The whole operation is more or less a one-man show. With a tiny — and I mean TEENY TINY — kitchen in the back, plates keep flying out with the speed of a assembly line operation. Your host/server/expediter/bus boy/”bartender” works the room with such precision you would never even notice staff size {or lack thereof} unless you took a trip to the restroom in the back and saw where all the magic happens.

And magic it is — the grilled Hass avocado, mushroom terrine in a shiitake-sesame dressing {must try to recreate this at home}, was an alluring combination of flavors that was creamy and earthy, while also surprisingly {and pleasantly} served warm. The broiled Bourgogne escargots, with pastis in a cilantro-chili butter was lick your plate-worthy — and lick we did. We had the pleasure of sitting at a table next to the owner and chatted it up for quite awhile. He was quick to tell us these are not just any escargot, but sourced from the best of the best — and I think I agree. For my entree I had the gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry. This was the dish that really caught my attention and showcased the marriage of the French and Caribbean cuisines. The flavors were rich and comforting and left me wanting more.

The Skim: If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, a trip up to 108th/Columbus is well worth the adventure. And if you know anything about Duke Ellington’s song, Take the A Train, {check it out HERE} well then you’ll understand where A Café really got its name {west 106th street was named Duke Ellington Blvd after his death}.

Map: 973 Columbus Avenue {between 107 & 108th}
Reservations: Taken! email: reservations@acafeny.com
Phone: 212.222.2033

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Outstanding Upper Ouest Side Dining

Ouest

My parents were recently in town and I took that opportunity to finally visit a great upper west side restaurant that has been on my “list” of places to try for waaaaay too long. I can’t explain why it took me 7 years to eat at Ouest — I’ve heard nothing but good things and it’s only 5 blocks away from my apartment. But there you have it, 7 years came and went and I finally walked through the doors leading to a small, intimate dark-wood bar, a short hall of cozy red leather booths and a hidden, unexpectedly spacious dining room in the back. Despite the soaring ceilings and a second level platform where more diners overlook the main room, Ouest provides a warm and sophisticated environment with oversized mirrors and almost circus tent-like chandeliers creating a red glow over the round red leather seating.

The atmosphere was not the only thing that did not disappoint. I was craving greens, so I started with an appetizer that doesn’t sound like anything spectacular, but just like the unexpected, hidden dining room, this dish was one more surprise worth noting. The Mixed Seasonal Greens with Herbed Red Wine-Parmesan Vinaigrette comes out as a beautifully stacked sculpture of curly, crunchy leaves, lightly dressed in the most wonderfully simple, but flavorful vinaigrette. Nothing fancy — no croutons or crumbled cheese to get in the way of the fresh greens and its companion dressing. Note to diners — the salad was large enough that it could easily be shared between two, even three people.

Ouest Mixed Seasonal Greens with Herbed Red Wine-Parmesan Vinaigrette

For my entree I got the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Fennel-Mint Risotto and Autumn Mushrooms. And yes, this too tasted just as fantastic as it sounds. The perfectly cooked seared scallops sat atop a bed of creamy risotto that was slightly sweet from the roasted fennel, fresh and herby from the mint, and earthy from the bits of mushroom. I was reluctant to share a bite, but that also probably made room for dessert!

Pan Seared Scallops with Fennel-Mint Risotto and Autumn Mushrooms

This is when I can’t refrain from dessert. Every course has been so noteworthy, I don’t want the meal to end. And I convince myself that dessert cannot be missed or the entire dining experience will be hopelessly incomplete. And I was right. The Peanut Butter-Chocolate “Bombe” with Spanish Peanuts & Warm Chocolate Sauce was as tasty as it was beautiful. Nothing goes better with chocolate than peanut butter, as was confirmed in each bite. I would say the sauce could have been warmer, but I was already won over by the entire meal and was willing to let it slide.

Ouest Peanut Butter-Chocolate Bombe

The Skim: Pricing falls on the higher end, but if you’re looking for a special occasion outting or have a few dollars you’re willing to trade for a memorable meal, I would highly suggest a trip to the upper Ouest side. Everything from the warm ambiance, to precise service and a stellar menu makes for a meal worth going north of 14th street for.

Map: 2315 Broadway {@84th Street}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-580-8700

What Else Can I Find on the UWS?
Barney Greengrass: Long Live the Sturgeon King
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare
5 & Dime: 10 oz. at Five Napkin Burger, that is

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A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite

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Apologies for my absence for a few days, but I have been busy shopping and chopping for what was the last 8.ate@eight supper club of the outdoor season. You wouldn’t think preparing “cafeteria” food would be such a distraction, but when you’re hand selecting figs and prosciutto from Italy for your pizza, catching red snapper off the east coast for your tacos, hunting bison out west for your mini sliders and hand frying potatoes for your truffle-rosemary chips, then there isn’t much time for blogging. Well maybe I wasn’t actually doing all of those things {except the hand frying – look out Frito Lay!} but the menu is accurate. As several friends had kids heading back to school, I thought it would be fun to relive the nostalgia of new sneakers, trapper keepers and the best of school cafeterias — only better! Here’s the full report card…

The Syllabus:

Starter
3 Grilled Pizzettes:
{1} Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese
{2} Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil
{3} Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella
w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil

Mini Lime-Chili Red Snapper Tacos
w/ “Fruit Punch” Sangria

Salad
Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley w/ Chipotle Bacon & Queso Fresco
w/ Bodegas Valdesil Godello Valdeorras Val de Sil Montenovo (Spain)

Entrée
Mini Bison Sliders w/ Buffalo Mozzarella and Olive Tapenade
Homemade Truffle Rosemary Parmesan Chips
w/ “P.S.” Local 2 Brooklyn Dark Ale

Dessert
Coconut “Twinkies” w/ Lemon Curd Filling
w/ Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk”

It was just like showing up to a new classroom — some old friends and some new faces to get to know. This is why I started 8.ate@eight and what I love about my table. People can come together to enjoy good food and drink and easily fall into conversation with an unfamiliar group.

Pablo is the Principal at his own school he started -- how awesome is that!

As the 8.ate@eight-ers filed in, I was busy at work grilling pizzas on the BBQ. Not an entirely new concept, but a new twist on school lunch favorite — wasn’t pizza day a must?! With dough and toppings on hand, I grilled up three different versions: an Arugula, Fig & Proscuitto w/ Grated Parmesan Cheese Pizza, a Greek Olive Tapenade, Pickled Red Onion & Feta w/ Lemon Olive Oil Pie and a crowd-pleasing favorite, Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Fennel & Fresh Mozzarella w/ Grandma’s Sauce & Fresh Rooftop Basil.

Fresh Figs

Served alongside the pizza were some Red Snapper Tacos with a Lime-Chili Marinade and Avocado Sauce. I’m pretty sure the lunch ladies didn’t fill our shells with anything better than greasy ground beef, but I wanted to keep it light. Both of the appetizers were served with an adult version of fruit punch: sangria! With a winning combination of spanish vino, brandy, triple sec and lemonade, I soaked a combination of lemon, lime, orange slices and cherries overnight and topped each cup off with a little club soda — every party is better with bubbles!

Red Snapper Tacos

Sangria "Fruit Punch"

Probably the least eaten items on those styrofoam trays were the vegetable medleys and fruit cup cocktails, so I decided to do a combination of both with a modified version of my friend Nora’s delicious corn salad. There are several things that are great about this salad and its a recipe for success that I have written about before: sweet, spicy, citrusy, savory and salty. I roasted several ears of sweet jersey corn, removing the kernels and adding to a combination of grapes {strange, but sweet and amazing}, red bell peppers {peppery and colorful}, red chilis {that subtle spicy kick that I love}, cilantro {a polarizing ingredient for many, but even I converted a hater at the table}, scallions and lime. So that’s the regular combination, but I also decided this salad would do well with a few bits of chipotle bacon crumbled on top with some queso fresco — if only school veggies were always this good.

Roasted Corn & Vegetable Medley

Roasted Corn Salad

It’s not only important to eat your veggies, but a good healthy protein also tops the food pyramid. I keep speaking the praises of bison to anyone who will listen {recipe here}, so I thought if I put them in slider form I could win the hearts of my table too. So let’s reiterate some important facts — please take notes.

Bison tastes very similar to beef, but is slightly richer, so I complemented that flavor with a spread of salty olive tapenade on the mini buns and melted some creamy buffalo mozzarella on top for a better take on a kiddie craving.

Mini Bison Sliders

And just like PB&J is a match made in heaven, so are burgers and chips. So I carried out the dutch oven, a few pounds of potatoes and got to work slicing, rinsing, drying and frying the makings of my Homemade Truffle, Rosemary Parmesan Chips. A lot of work, but there is something very satisfying about putting Frito Lay to shame from your own kitchen {recipe to follow}.

Toss in corn starch to remove moisture and create crispier results

Toss in 375 degree oil 4-5 minutes until golden blond

Strain and Season with Fresh Rosemary and Truffle Salt

Season with Rosemary, Truffle Salt, Parmesan Cheese and Try Not to Eat Too Many

While everyone settled in for the Ferris Bueller classic, Naerim also made a guest appearance and served her Coconut “Twinkie” with Lemon Curd filling and I blended up some Kahlua-Rum Chocolate “Milk” just in case  everyone didn’t have enough to drink.

Coconut "Twinkies" with Lemon Curd

As usual, we cleared the plates, handed out some blankets as the night started to cool and fired up the projector for our guest visitor: Ed Rooney. No better end to another memorable 8.ate@eight supper club.

Ed Rooney Was Our Guest Visitor

Thanks!

Thanks to Naerim again for all the help serving drinks and food and ending the evening with a great new take on an old lunchbox treat! Thanks to Kristin for snapping some pics while I was manning the grill. And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

I’m ruminating on some future indoor events for the fall and winter, so stay tuned. If you aren’t on the dinner distribution list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Recipe Goodness:

Homemade Rosemary, Truffle and Parmesan Chips or Fries

Prep Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
Serves 4

2 1/2 # russet potatoes  (about 4 large)
3 QT. peanut or canola oil

Peel and cut potatoes into either long sticks or 1/2-inch thick circles for fries or use a mandolin to thinly slice flat or waffle cut circles {using the waffle blade} for chips. Rinse cut potatoes in large bowl under cold running water until water turns clear. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Pour off water,spread potatoes onto towels, and thoroughly dry {important for crispiness}. Transfer to large bowl and toss with cornstarch until evenly coated. Transfer to wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet and let rest until fine white coating forms, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large, heavy bottomed dutch oven, fitted w/clip-on candy thermometer, heat oil to 325.  Add half of potatoes a handful at a time and increase heat to high.  Fry, shirring with mesh spider until potatoes start to turn from white to blond, 4-5 min.(oil temp will drop). Transfer fries to paper towels to absorb oil and cool. Return oil to 325 and repeat with rest of potatoes. Let potatoes cool.

Heat oil to 375. Add half of fries or chips, a handful at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 min. Transfer to paper towels & repeat with remaining fries. Season immediately with chopped rosemary, truffle salt and shaved parmesan.

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Events:
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

What are you still doing here? It’s over. Go home.

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Gone Fishin’ :: Back in a Week…

Farewell Bachelorhood!

As I referenced in a previous post, I’m off in San Francisco to be the best groom’s girl I can be in my brother’s wedding this weekend. Jackie, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, works for Ghirardelli. She’s pretty darn sweet as a person, but it also doesn’t hurt that she brings a dowry consisting of a lifetime supply of chocolate. Welcome to the family!

I’m sure I will have no shortage of things to blog about upon my return — I promise it will be more interesting than a post about rice and will include musings from Napa. In the meantime, visit some old favorites…

Make A Delicious Dinner For Friends:
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}
More Recipes >>> EAT@HOME

Keep Busy in the City:
Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes w/ Jessica Wurwarg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
NYC Best: Take the Dull Out Of Cooking {Knives} with Samurai Sharpening @ Chelsea Market

Enjoy a Cold One in the Garden:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Nothing says Warm Weather Like a “Gut Biergarten”

And in the Spirit of Weddings, Go on a Date!:
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
August in April
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
barmarche: Some Clever Crudites

Eat Up!
Christina

Sibling Fun in Tokyo

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #4 | Back to School Nite | @9.18.10.8:00pm

Labor Day is fast approaching and that means it’s time to head Back to School. So let’s celebrate the nostalgia of things like new sneakers, trapper keepers and most importantly, a new lunch box, with a meal that highlights some of the old time cafeteria favorites…only better.

See here for a recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Big Southern BBQ Meets Small Northern Rooftop
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #4: Back to School
Saturday, September 18th, 2010, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu, followed by
Post Dinner Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Suggested Donation: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

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NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

My two most favorite past-times: good food and good music. Both are readily accessible in this fine big apple city that I live in, but put them together and you’ve got yourself the makings of a double good time. Summerstage, the outdoor venue in the middle of Central Park, has long been my favorite venue to catch a show. Most shows are free as it’s privately funded through sponsors and a few benefit concerts, it’s small enough that you can touch the stage without taking a sharp elbow to the gut, and with a blanket and starry night to set the scene, it’s easy to settle down and take in some good tunes.

This season Summerstage added just another reason to love this venue and make it a “must do” summer activity: good food. Normally you would expect the standard overdone hamburger and dirty water dog as the only options at a place like this, but with much excitement I discovered a few food purveyors from Brooklyn Flea and the fine wine makers from City Winery have been brought in to satiate our every desire.

Central Park Syrah from City Winery Anyone?

City Winery

Wash Down a Darn Good Dog from Asia Dog

How about the Ginny with homemade kimchi and nori flakes or the Sidney with thai mango relish, cucumber, red onion, cilantro & crushed peanuts. Those two lady dogs sound a lot more interesting than your usual Frank.

Marlow & Sons/Daughters and AsiaDog

I Adopted Marlow Sons & Daughters

This Brooklyn based butcher serves up a cut above the rest with their grass-fed beef burgers, house made pork sausage and barbecued pork sandwich with jalapeno lime aioli, picked onion, mint and cilantro. I wanted the pork sammy, but popular demand cleared out that supply in a matter of minutes. My pork sausage with pickled relish did not disappoint though, it was flavorful, freshly cooked and the relish added a nice zing quickly making me forget this was concert food.

My Marlow & Daughters House Made Pork Sausage w/ Pickled Relish

Truckin’ Good Pizza from Pizza Moto

Fresh from the mobile wood burning oven {hopefully those aren’t Central Park trees} you can order a slice with all sort of goodies on top and a thin, crispy crust, just as pizza should be.

Pizza Moto

Ice Cream, You Scream for Blue Marble…

If sweets are more your craving, try a a few scoops or classic root beer float {I wonder if they would make this with Blue Moon} from Blue Marble Ice Cream. All products are made only from premium grass-fed organic dairy.

Blue Marble Ice Cream

Prices range from about $4-8 depending on the item, so you won’t break the bank while enjoying these seriously good eats with your tunes at Summerstage…unless of course you get the munchies. The Flaming Lips liked this so much, they threw a party. It’s not too late to catch a show as events are scheduled through September. See Schedule HERE.

The Flaming Lips Threw A Huge Celebration

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8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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It was a dark and stormy night {almost}. The orange and yellow radar covered the eastern seaboard. The dark, cumulonimbus clouds loomed overhead. And the wind blew….but it DID NOT rain. Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then. Good thing, because this 8.ate@eight BBQ took two full days to prep and I was fixin’ to have me a party. All those dixie flavors like to hang out over night, so the kitchen was in full swing from the moment the roosters crowed Friday. Here’s the scoop ya’ll…

The Menu:

Starter
Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa
Margarita Soaked Watermelon
w/ Fresh Agave-Lime Margaritas with Ancho Chili-Infused Silver Patron

Salad
Oven Roasted Avocado Tortilla Salad
w/ ’08 Basa Ruedo Blanco (Spain)

Entrée
Slooooow Cooked Pork Ribs
Lime-Chili Cornbread
Red Cabbage, Radish & Carrot Slaaaw
w/ Abita Amber, Purple Haze and Strawberry Lager Beer (Louisiana)

Dessert
Banana Puddin’ Served in Semi-Sweet Chocolate Cups
w/ Crios de Susana Balba ‘09 Torrontes (Argentina)

It wouldn’t be an 8.ate@eight without a kickoff cocktail and since I was spicing things up with the food, I also decided to throw together an Ancho Chili-Infused Fresh Lime Margarita to warm things up {thanks to inspiration from my wine friend, Mike}. A smoked Ancho Chili went into the bottle a few hours before serving and I got to work juicing more limes, oranges and grapefruit than a minute maid. But since Top Chef contestants always like to do things “two-ways” I also sliced a watermelon into finger sized pieces and soaked those in fresh lime margarita over night {careful, they’ll get ya when you’re not looking!}

The Fixins' for Fresh Lime Margaritas

Margarita Watermelon ready to chill out for a day

And what better app to serve with fresh margaritas than salsa? I rubbed the corn in Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning and roasted it on the grill before adding to vine-ripened grape tomatoes with more fresh lime, cilantro, scallions and some red chilis from my neighbor’s rooftop garden {thanks Julie!}

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

Before people had one too many watermelon slices, we all grabbed a seat and I served a Roasted Avocado Tortilla Salad. This was a new experiment inspired by Jamie Oliver — oven at full whack, sliced avocado on a tray tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin seed and roasted for 15 minutes. The result: warm, roasted, lightly charred avocado slices served over crispy tortilla chips, fresh greens, sprouts and a simple lemon-olive oil dressing. Refreshing and unique.

Roasted Avocado-Tortilla Salad

Now for the main event. St. Louis Spare Ribs went for a swim in apple juice and apple cider vinegar before being rubbed with love in a dry blend of spices, garlic and orange zest and left in the fridge for a day to take it all in. Everything is slower in the South, so I also made the slaw a day before so the flavors would mix and mash and come out really tasty. The secret to good cole slaw is time. With red cabbage as the base, I added thin radish and carrots slices, all of which are pretty sturdy veg, so the longer they get to hang out in the vinegar-mayo dressing, the more they soften up and take on the flavor of the marinade. This also means you don’t have to over do it with the mayo — I was pretty light handed, contrary to what you may be used to in the cole slaw department. And it wouldn’t be a BBQ without cornbread, in my opinion. Somewhere along the line I started making my cornbread with creamed corn to make them less dry and add some actual bits of corn to the mix. This time I also took this recipe a step further and added grated neighborly-red chili and lime zest to throw in a little kick.

Carrot, Radish and Red Cabbage Slaw

Chili-Lime Cornbread Cups

Rubbin' the hog ribs

On day 2, I fired up the oven about 5 hours prior to show time and got the ribs into slow-cook mode. While they were doin’ their thang, I got to chopping, sauteing and simmering away to make one of the most unique BBQ sauces I have ever had. Again, thanks to inspiration from Jamie Oliver this blend was a combination of fresh herbs, spices, more red chili, and generally accepted BBQ sauce condiment contributions {horseradish, ketchup, worcestershire, etc.} to add the needed kick and sweetness that any finger-lickin’ BBQ sauce requires. But what stood out amongst the 8.ate@eight crowd as the most distinct and crowd-pleasing flavor was the fresh orange juice and zest — not a common flavor found on the grill, but OH so fine. All this paired quite well with a selection of Abita brews from Louisiana — Amber, Purple Haze and Strawberry Harvest. Do not be afraid of the fruit flavored beer gentlemen — it is subtle and the perfect complement to the spicy red chilies that found their way in to many of the dishes.

Makin' the BBQ Sauce

Abita Beer Selection from LA - Save the Sea!

8.ate@eighters Diggin' In

When I polled my southern friends about their favorite desserts, there were many — cobblers, pies, hand churned ice cream, but one that stood out was banana pudding. Borrowing some more inspiration from a delightful dessert blog I read, Bakerella, I decided to make chocolate cups to serve this somewhat simple, but delicious banana pudding in. Armed with 3 pounds of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and water balloons {sans water} I got to dipping. My eyeballs nearly popped out of my head trying to blow up the tiny water balloons, but they are necessary to use to get the right size shell. Ultimately these were very easy to make and really jazzed up the puddin’, so the next time you’re looking for a unique serving option for anything that goes well with chocolate {fresh berries, ice cream, pudding, etc.} you should give these a try.

The makings of the banana puddin'

Setting the Chocolate Cups

Pop!

Banana Puddin' Cups

So with full bellies and licked fingers, it was time to sit back, relax and welcome the 3 Amigos into the evening. After so much finger linkin’ food and a large selection of beverages, it was good to have a lively movie to keep the night going and a few guttural laughs to help with digestion. And with still no rain in sight, the evening carried on into the wee hours — I reckon it was another successful and fun 8.ate@eight supper club!

Laughter Helps with Digestion

The 3 Amigos Rode in for the BBQ

Much Obliged:

Thanks, as always, to my guests for being part of the evening. Thanks to my lovely neighbors for the tent and red chili contributions and thank you to my roommate Haley for introducing me to the wonders of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning.

Stay tuned for news of the next dinner party. Everyone I know and love is getting married in August, so the kitchen is closed until September. If you aren’t on the invite list, email me at 8ateATeight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs

Recipe Goodness ::
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups

Pudding recipe courtesy of Cindy Lee

Makes 8-10 servings in one 8×8 pan {9×11 pan if double recipe}

Pudding:
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ cups cold water
1 (4 serving size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 cups whipping cream, lightly whipped
1 box vanilla wafers
4 bananas, sliced

In large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk & water.  Add pudding mix, beat with whisk until well blended and chill in refrigerator about 5 min.  Then fold in the lightly whipped cream {still liquid, but aerated to make thicker}.  Spoon pudding mixture (about 1 cup) into bottom of glass dish, then layer with vanilla wafers, then banana on top of wafer, pudding mix, wafer, banana,  pudding mix, wafer (you want to end on wafer). You will have plenty of pudding mixture, especially if you double the recipe so use the pudding mixture generously on the bottom of the dish and throughout.

Tip: Always best to make this the day before so the flavors will marry.

Chocolate Cups:
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate per 8 cups {I like Ghirardelli}

Blow up 8 water balloons with air, not water {careful not to bust a gut!} Get a cookie sheet ready, lined with a piece of parchment paper. Melt chocolate in a small metal bowl on top of a boiling pot of water or in a double boiler. Continue stirring and once fully melted, remove bowl and move to the counter, letting the chocolate cool slightly so as not to pop your balloons. Take a small spoon and put a dollop of chocolate, evenly spaced on the parchment paper, for the foot of each bowl you will create. Start dipping! I found that it was difficult to get an even edge by dipping the balloon straight down, so I took an angled approach and continued to turn and dip, turn and dip at an angle, creating what looked like a tulip bowl. Once you have covered the base of the balloon, place it on one of the dollops, standing upright and repeat. Let the chocolate harden for about an hour and then pop each balloon with a pin and enjoy!

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #3 | Big Southern BBQ Meets Small NYC Rooftop | @7.10.10.8:00pm

I may be a girl from the Midwest, but I love me some good BBQ.  In honor of Fourth of July and celebrating all things American, let’s roast up some hog, chill down some beer and have a proper BBQ with all the fixins of a good meal and a good time. After we lick our lips and wipe our fingers {or vice versa}, Three Amigos will be projected under the stars and a memorable, intimate social gathering amongst new friends will ensue.

See here for a recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #3: Big Southern BBQ Meets Small NYC Rooftop
Saturday, July 10
th, 2010, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu, followed by
Post Dinner Movie: Three Amigos
Cost: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

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8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

8.ate@eight #2: who cut the cheese

The rain held off and there was a perfect summer breeze in the air, which set the scene for another memorable evening with new and old friends. Lots of cheese, wine, beer and hand-prepared food to share, so without further ado…here’s the scoop>>>

Farm Fresh Cheese was the feature fare for the evening. To lighten things up to follow, I prepared a few citrus-centric dishes, including a grilled fishus delicious. I paired the movie with the setting instead of the food this time around. Our new friends gathered terrace-top overlooking the NY skyline and our lovely neighbors across the way, so it seemed only appropriate to roll tape on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

Welcome!

Cheese Menu:

Cheese & Wine Paring
Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert (Old Chatham, NY)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Delapierre Brut Cava (Spain)

Beringse Witte (Hamont-Achel, Belgium)
Buy: Formaggio Essex
w/ Brooklyn Local 1 Pale Ale

Ardith Mae Dairy’s Begelo (Hallstead, PA)
Buy: Union Square (Fri), 77th St & Columbia Univ. Greenmarket (Sun)
w/ Shaya ’08 Verdejo

Monte Enebro (Avila, Spain)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Shaya ’08 Verdejo

Roncal (Navarra Region, Spain)
Buy: Artisanal
w/ Perrin & Fils ’07 Cotes du Rhone

Valley Shepherd Farms Crema de Blue (NJ)
Buy: Union Square & Borough Hall Greenmarkets (Sat)
w/ Muscat de Saint Jean de Mineverois

Accompaniments:
Grandma Wilklow’s Homemade Berry-Berry Jam
Buy: Borough Hall Greenmarket (Tues & Sat)
Tremblay Apiary Creamed Honey
Buy: Union Square Greenmarket (Fri & Sat)

Dinner Menu:

Soup
Chilled Lemon-Rice Soup
w/ Cousiño-Macul Sauvignon Gris

Entrée and Sides
Grilled Wild North Atlantic Halibut w/ Chili-Lime Dressing, served over a Lentil, Orange & Feta Salad
Carrot Ribbon & Arugula Salad w/ a Lemon-Ginger Dressing
w/ Cousiño-Macul Sauvignon Gris

Dessert
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake w/ BBQ’d Summer Berries
w/ Tourangelle Touraine Rosé

Movie
Rear Window

Jessica Wurwarg, friend and Artisanal cheese expert {discount code and more about her cheese&wine classes here}, kicked off the evening with a beautiful array of local and artisanal cheeses. Each was paired with a selection of wines and a local Brooklyn ale to complement the flavor profiles and bring out the best in each cut. The cheese was also accompanied by locally produced Grandma Wilklow’s berry-berry jam and what I like to call semi-solid gold, Tremblay creamed honey, to add a contrasting sweetness to some of the more salty, earthy notes.  If you haven’t had creamed honey before, run, don’t walk to the Union Square Greenmarket or check it out here. This isn’t your typical honey-bear liquid gold — creamed honey goes through a controlled granulation process, which results in a finely crystallized form that spreads like butter, melts in your mouth and takes on creamy characteristics.

Jessica Cutting the Cheese

Cheese Plating in Progress

Jessica Shares her Cheese & Wine Knowledge

Cheese & Jam & Creamed Honey, oh my!

8.ate@eighters

While everyone was finishing off their cheese and multiple glasses of wine, beer and more wine, I served up a small bowl of chilled lemon rice soup to cleanse the palate. Conversation ensued and I fired up the grill to get the rest of the meal prepared. I wanted to keep things simple and light to cut all the creamy proteins we just enjoyed, so I grilled up a North Atlantic Halibut that had been hangin’ out in a lime, red chili, olive oil and herb marinade for a few hours. The fish was grilled in a tin foil pouch to lock in the moisture and infuse the fish with all the fresh juices. On the side I served two salads: the first was a lentil, red onion, feta and orange salad that had a bit of a mediterranean flare to complement the fish, and the second was a very simple arugula and carrot ribbon salad with a fresh lemon-ginger-sesame seed dressing that really kept things light and not too filling.

Chilled Lemon-Rice Soup

Grilled Wild North Atlantic Halibut w/ Chili-Lime Dressing, served over a Lentil, Orange & Feta Salad

Everyone seemed to be quite relaxed after all that wine and food, so while the conversation carried on, plates were cleared and the projector was set-up to bring a little Hitchcock into the evening.

8.ate@eighters After Sunset

It’s never a bad dinner party when Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart Show Up.

Grace Kelly and James Stewart Showed Up for Dinner

While the movie rolled, I got to work plating mini cheesecakes {my grandma’s recipe} and BBQ’ing a selection of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to serve over the top.

Summer Berries ready to be BBQ'd

Violet's Lemon Cheesecake w/ BBQ'd Summer Berries

Midway through the movie, dessert was served, some caught a little shut-eye and we closed out the evening with the suspenseful Rear Window.

Settling in for the Rear Window Viewing

Thanks:

Thank you to Jessica for selecting wonderful cheeses & wines to kick off the evening and for sharing so much knowledge with the 8.ate@eight table. Thank you also to Kristin for helping to set-up and do dishes — my least favorite thing to do was completely eliminated by the graces of a good friend!

Stay tuned for news of the next dinner party. If you aren’t on the invite list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com. See you at the table!

Recap of past 8.ate@eight dinners:
Silencing of the Spring Lambs

Recipe Goodness:

Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries

Makes 20 Cupcake Sized Mini Cheesecakes or one 9″ Spring Form Pan
Bake 350° for 25-30 mins.

Crust:
1 1/4 C  Ground Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 C  Finely Chopped Walnuts
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 C  Melted Butter

Filling:
16 oz
Cream Cheese
2 TBS  Heavy Cream
1 tsp  Vanilla
2 Large Eggs
3/4 C  Sugar
1 Lemon, Juiced (reserve for after prior ingredients combined)

Berry Topping:
1 Pint Strawberries
1-6-oz Container Blueberries
1-6-oz Container Raspberries
1-6-oz Container Blackberries

Chop graham crackers and walnuts in a food processor until medium to fine crumbs form. Mix in a bowl with cinnamon and melted butter. Press crumbs into the bottom of foil muffin wrappers placed in a muffin pan or into the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan if you prefer one cake. {Tip: Foil wrappers are better than paper to prevent any chance of leaking or absorption}

In a separate mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients {except for the lemon juice to avoid curdling} and blend. After the ingredients have been creamed thoroughly, add the lemon juice and blend to combine. Pour filling into each cup until 2/3 full to leave room for oven rising {or pour entire mixture into spring form}. Bake at 350° for ~25-30 minutes. Filling should be firm and a toothpick should come out clean when tested at the center. Let cakes cool completely before putting into the fridge for at least 5 hours to chill and rest before serving.

To serve with BBQ’d berries, rinse and dry fruit and place in a foil pouch to place directly on the grill. Let berries cook over low heat about 3-5 minutes, or until some of the juice is released to create a sauce and the berries are softened. Remove pouch from the grill and place on a sheet or plate to avoid leaking. Remove each cheesecake from the wrapper and place upside down so the crust is on top. Scoop berries over the cheesecake and serve warm.

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Barney Greengrass: Long Live the Sturgeon King

Barney Greengrass

After 100 years in business, it’s obvious that Barney Greengrass has mastered the way to New Yorkers’ hearts through supernal plates of smoked sturgeon, lox, bagels with a side of fresh attitude. You haven’t been to a true NY Jewish deli until you wait in line to be seated at closely packed ‘historical’ formica tables and are ‘welcomed’ by fast talking, fast moving waiters in white whose shtick may make you wonder why you waited. But then you scan the long menu of fresh smoked fish, bagels, bialys, scrambled eggs & onions, and the dining experience all comes together through a gleeful feeling that you are about to experience tradition that is all too rare in a city that prides itself on being home to many of the next up-and-coming restaurants.

“The cuisine at this Upper West Side delicatessen is one of the greatest gifts Jewish Culture has brought to mankind since the ten commandments.” — The New Yorker

The Skim: Pack your bags and make another worthwhile eating excursion to the Upper West Side. Let’s hope the Sturgeon King is around for another 100 years, but just in case it’s not, you might want to make sure you get as much of this little piece of history as you can now. {541 Amsterdam, btw 86th & 87th}

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Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare

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Weekend=brunch. Sunny long weekend=outdoor brunch. There is no better place to settle in for a delicious cup of joe and ‘egg’cellent sunnyside-up-something, than my favorite UWS-get-your-morning-going hot spot, Community Food & Juice. Usually buzzing with Columbia students and adventurous eaters willing to explore a 3-digit neighborhood {located @ 112th/broadway across from the Tom’s, the infamous Seinfeld diner}, C F&J lures brunchers with seasonal, local and organic fare that is simple, yet unique.

Orange Juice sound good? Try blending it with their freshly squeezed carrot juice for an ultra-orange, vitamin C-packed morning refresher that will help clear away the fuzzy head. Or if you’re more of a hair-of-the-dog kind of person, I highly recommend the Wasabi Prairie Mary that features house made bloody mary mix and wasabi powder for that extra kick that any good Mary requires. As for the more substantial part of the meal, you really can’t go wrong. The blueberry pancakes with maple butter syrup are one of the most popular dishes and have diners sopping up that liquid gold and asking for more. My favorite dish is a slightly new twist on an old classic. The B.E.L.T. is what a true breakfast sammie should be — double cut applewood bacon, a runny sunny-side-up organic egg, lettuce, tomato & mayo served on sourdough toast with a side of carrot hash browns. Is there really anything more you need to start your morning out right?

The Skim: Forget the breakfast sandwich from the cart guy on the corner and treat yourself to fantastic, fresh fare at Community Food & Juice. While most restaurants consider brunch a money making complement to their main dinner menu, C F&J’s brunch is the standout favorite meal of the day. So go on and get Juiced! {2893 Broadway, btw 112th/113th}


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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #2 | Who Cut the Cheese | @6.12.10.7:30pm

Round two of 8.ate@eight supper club is scheduled for 3 short weeks from now and we have something really exciting in store for the June 8.ate@eight table. Jessica Wurwarg, fellow 8.ate@eight-er and Artisanal cheese expert is going to be kicking off the evening sharing her knowledge of a selection of delicious farm fresh artisan cheeses, jams and a specially paired wine tasting. Come ready to taste, drink and ask questions! A 3-course dinner, featuring a lighter fishus delicious entrée {that’s a technical term!} will follow. After we all cut the cheese {and other hand prepared dishes} Rear Window will be projected under the stars and a memorable, intimate social gathering amongst new friends will ensue. We’re starting this one earlier @7:30 for more cheese and wine time — who would pass that up?!

See here for a recap of the last 8.ate@eight dinner.

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese
Saturday, June 12
th, 2010, 7:30pm {early for more cheese time}
cheese & wine tasting, followed by a 3-course dinner menu
post-dinner movie: Rear Window
Suggested Donation: $70 per person

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com {note: number attending in your email}

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Let's Cut the Cheese!

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8.ate@eight #1: Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

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What can I say, the inaugural 8.ate@eight supper club was lambtastic! Perfect weather (mid-70s) and perfect company set the scene for a great evening of fresh, hand-prepared food, deliciously paired wine and good conversation shared amongst new and old friends. Here’s the scoop >>>

Naerim, my friend and French Culinary Institute-trained pastry chef, showed up around 11am to start throwing around some cake flour and gettin’ down to business preparing her superbly delicious Panna Cotta Tartlets with Balsamic Strawberries. Meanwhile, the prosecco was chillin’ and I was chopping, grinding and whizzing away to to get all the elements together for each course of the meal, organized to complement our post-dinner flick, Silence of the Lambs.

The Menu:

Starter
Minted Fava Bean & Spring Pea Puree with Fresh Italian Ricotta on Garlic Rubbed Toasts
w/ Fresh Squeezed Blood Orange Mimosas

Salad
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta Vinaigrette, Michigan Dried Cherries & Candied Pecans
w/ 2008 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais

Entrée
Pistachio encrusted Spring Lamb with Cumin Yogurt & Pickled Red Onion
w/ 2001 Cataregia Gran Reserva

Dessert
Panna Cotta Tartlets w/ Balsamic Strawberries

Movie
Silence of the Lambs

Everyone grabbed a Fresh Blood Orange Mimosa, introduced themselves and settled in for some good food and drinks.

Fresh Blood Oranges Being Squeezed for Blood Orange Mimosas

Fava Bean and Pea Puree

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pancetta Vinaigrette, Dried Michigan Cherries and Candied Pecans

While the salad was being served, we were off in the kitchen orchestrating all the elements of the entrée. The lamb (and Jessica’s sea bass) was encrusted with a spice blend of thyme, chilli pepper, cumin, lemon zest and pistachios, pan-seared and finished in the oven. Each was topped with freshly pickled red onions and a cumin yogurt sauce. The white asparagus was steamed and topped with a melted smashed mint, lemon butter sauce. Pans were flying and the kitchen mercury was rising as we had all the burners fired at once, but with the help of Naerim, we got everything cooked and plated before anyone pulled a Hannibal Lector.

Pistachio Spring Lamb w/ Cumin Yogurt & Pickled Red Onion; White Asparagus w/ Smashed Mint & Lemon Butter

After the plates were cleared, we rolled the movie, opened more wine and Naerim got to work finishing dessert.

Naerim Plating Dessert

Panna Cotta Tartlets w/ Balsamic Strawberries

Hannibal Lector showed up for a bite too.

Hannibal Lector Shows Up After Dinner

Click here to see the full album.

Thanks:

I want to thank Naerim for preparing such a beautiful and delicious dessert and for all the help in getting the 8.ate@eight-ers fed. Thanks to Kristin for snapping some candids while I was off in the kitchen and for doing dishes late night {tisk tisk!!} And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

Our next dinner will be announced shortly {very shortly} so if you aren’t on the list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com. See you at the table!

Recipe Goodness:

Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4

Chops:
12 lamb chops, ~ 1 1/2 inches thick
2 TBS fresh thyme
1 TBS ground chilli pepper
1 TBS ground cumin
2 TBS fresh lemon zest
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup shelled pistachio nuts

Pickled Red Onion:
1 red onion
1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauce:
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

Thinly slice the red onion and put into a container that will seal. Pour the juice of one lemon over the onion, add a dash of salt and a crank or two of black pepper. Set the container in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The lemon juice will pickle the onion and soften the flavor for a nice addition to your chops.

In another bowl add the 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper to the yogurt and stir thoroughly. Set aside.

Meanwhile, mix all the dry spices and lemon zest in a bowl. In a zip lock, smash the shelled pistachios to smaller bits that will stick easily to your lamb. Pour the nuts into a separate bowl. Lightly drizzle a little olive oil over the lamb chops and gently press each side of the chops first in the spice bowl and then in the pistachio bowl, making sure both sides are generously covered in pistachios.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large oven safe pan on the stove {no need to add olive oil as the fat from the lamb will be enough to cook the chops}. Add all the of chops to the pan and push firmly down to create a good sear. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and put the pan into the oven for 4 minutes. {Note: If you don’t have an oven safe pan, you can preheat a cookie sheet in the oven and transfer the chops to the sheet to finish}.

To serve, top the lamb chops with a few rings of the pickled red onion and a drizzle of the cumin yogurt. Enjoy!

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5 & Dime: 10 oz. at Five Napkin Burger, that is

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There is a burger revolution going on, and rightly so. Simple or fancy, there is nothing quite as delicious as a well prepared burger. So it was only a matter of time before I paid a visit to the recently opened Five Napkin Burger on the Upper West Side. Let’s start out by saying they threw every thing on the menu but the kitchen sink, so if for some odd reason you are going to a burger joint and are not in the mood for a burger, you could try the sushi, vietnamese spring rolls, hot wings or Kobe beef foot long, among other unexpected menu items. But let’s just say you do what you’re supposed to do and you start with a stack of cornmeal crusted onion rings followed by the Original 5 Napkin Burger, well then you’ll understand why it requires 5 napkins.

The Original is 10 oz of ground chuck (that means good and juicy thanks to the high fat content) topped with caramelized onions, gruyere cheese, rosemary aioli on a soft white roll — all served with a side of fries (ok, so the onion rings weren’t necessary, but I would trade them for the fries any day.) So that’s 1 napkin for the juicy burger, 1 napkin for the sweet stacked sauteed onions, 1 napkin for the gruyere cheese oozing from beneath the bun, 1 napkin for the aioli generously slathered atop the cheese, dripping from the sides down your arm and 1 napkin for the well-fried onion rings and fries. All to be washed down with a namesake brew.

The Skim: Come hungry or ready to share. Five Napkin Burger is a great stop if you want to step it up on an american classic. The generous size and rich toppings provide the perfect excuse to order a few things and share with friends. Of course if you want to stake claim to your own dish, you certainly won’t be disappointed or hungry! {2315 Broadway @ 84th Street, aka Edgar Allen Poe Way — hopefully no allusions to “The Premature Burial”}

More on The Great Burger Debate:
recipe goodness :: bison, a better burger worth biting into
It’s All About the Bun @ Zaitzeff

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