Throwback Thursday – Spot Dessert Bar

This year I have visited a restaurant that focuses on desserts.  This place has become my favorite go to places if I have a sweet tooth. The unique Asian fusion flavors and elaborate presentations has been recognized by NBC, Zagat and Examiner. 

Each dessert is served to share and it’s $10 per dish.  It’s ideal to go with groups and order the tapas set. I was with a group of girls and we ate at the original Spot Dessert Bar in the East Village.  We ordered a 3 tapas set costing $27.  Below is the three tapas we ordered:

The Harvest

Golden Toast

Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake

Another perk of Spot Dessert Bar is their punch card; so for every $10 or every tapas set ordered a stamp is placed. If you collect 9 stamps, you get a free dessert.  The quickest way to the free dessert is to order the tapas set. I’ve eaten here three times at all the locations and ordered the 3 tapas set each time, which resulted in 9 stamps entitling me to a free dessert tapa on my next trip.  Stay tuned for more….

Social Saturday – Dessert Professional Magazine Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the Country 

One year ago, I have had the privilege to attend the the celebration of the top ten pastry chefs in the country hosted by Dessert Professional Magazine at the ICE in downtown New York City.  Below are some of the many favorite highlights from the amazing pastry chefs.  We are very excited to return this year’s event. 

Throwback Thursday – Mixed Berries Dessert

This past Christmas my cousin made of the best cobblers ever and I’ve yet to order one from a restaurant.  This week was the week to clean out the fridge and pantry.  As a result, there were still leftover blueberries and strawberries from New Year’s  and an old fashion fruit cobbler mix purchased on sale from Aldi. Therefore, a decision was made to made a mixed berry cobbler. Totally not being creative here but we followed directions outlined on the cobbler mix. Therefore, the look and taste definitely does not compared to the freshly made cobbler from scratch.  Although this dessert is high on calories it carries some healthy ingredients that have demonstrated resourceful in healing, preventing and evening treating disease, two of which were mentioned in previous posts. 

1 box of the old fashion fruit cobbler mix from Baker’s Corner = <$2 on sale = 110 calories/serving

1 large egg = 70 calories 

strawberries, sliced = 24 calories

16 tbsp blueberries = 85 calories

2 tbsp sugar = 100 calories 

6 tbsp melted butter = 300 calories (50 calories/tbsp. 

Five ingredients used plus sugar

Mix egg with the dry mix using a fork until well blended.

Grease 8×8 pan and lay out the fruit

Sprinkle sugar over the fruit.

Place egg cobbler mixture on top and spread evenly to cover the fruit.

Sprinkle melted butter evenly on top of the cobbler. Place the dish in the over at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Good news: Cleaned out three leftover products from the fridge and pantry (strawberries, blueberries and cobbler mix). 

Mediocre news: Definitely can tell that the taste of the end product came from a prepared mix. 

Take home message: attempt to make a cobbler with available fruit from scratch. 

Flashback Friday – China Grill

Happy Friday! It is time to take full advantage of the summer deals during my vacation.

One of these deals is the bento box lunch special from 12pm-4pm Monday-Saturday at China Grill in New York City.

Did you know that China Grill was around for almost thirty years? Well after one of the best fusion lunches I have had in a while, I can definitely testify to that.

Earlier this week, I caught up with a friend for lunch and both of us were definitely excited to explore the options.  So below are the two bento boxes we created.  Both of us ordered the Peking duck salad and wasabi mashed potatoes.  My friend ordered the dumplings and salmon teriyaki and I was on the noodle box and shrimp red curry.  Our bento boxes were “to die for”, presentation was beautiful but more importantly the taste was on point.  It was definitely worth the $19.87 spent on this meal.

In addition to the bento box, we decided order the popular salted caramel soufflé ($20), which has to be ordered ahead of time and it is served only on the lunch menu.

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Made to order dessert that serves two people available during lunch

After devouring the divine dessert, that was well balanced.  The sponge cake, plus the cream and caramel definitely hit the spot.

It was after 4pm and happy hour begins.  My other friend contacted me and informed me that I have to come here for happy hour.  It turns out she was right.  The menu offers a lot of options for drinks such as cocktails and bar bites from their appetizer menu.  So I settled for the lychee and cucumber cocktail ($8) with the lotus root dumplings ($7).  Both choices were delicious.

Overall service for lunch and happy hour were awesome.  My friend and I were satisfied and I can’t wait to share this experience with my friends and peers.  Cheers to China Grill and their continuing success.  See you soon China Grill!

 

Throwback Thursday – Blenheim

Happy Thursday so as promised and better late than never I will be posting my dining experience from NYC restaurant week.  Although it was painful to see the $4 price hike on a prix fixe meal, I want to get my money’s worth eating a restaurant with a reputation e.g. Zagat rated, Michelin starred.  In my previous post categorizing where I would eat while getting my money’s worth plus collecting bonus OpenTable points.

Well guess what, I did not include a farm to table Michelin rated restaurant called Blenheim.  The reason why this restaurant was not on my list of restaurants to eat during restaurant week was that their menu was not yet posted on their website or NYC.go’s site.  Anyways, the ambiance and West Village location, the restaurant was cozy, local and low key.

Unfortunately I missed the happy hour special, which ends at 6pm but very excited to indulge in their summer cocktail that contains a hashtag called “#WildWestVillage.  This cocktail consists of watermelon, tequila, honey and berry.  At at splurge of this $16 cocktail, one drink was definitely enough but more importantly it was very refreshing.

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Two of my girlfriends joined me in this restaurant week experience.  The restaurant week menu and the regular menu were given with instructions.  If we wanted to order from the restaurant week menu, the whole table had to participate, which we all did.  Now in hindsight, service treatment was biased because we felt that we were not treated as regular customers.  For example, bread was served to us but in a smaller plate compared with the rest of the customers.  My friend actually called it out where our server heard it and the host had to “clean up the mess”.  Anyways, back to the food, the food served during restaurant week was in small portions compared to their a la carte menu.  However the quality of food did not disappoint.  For appetizers, I ordered the poached egg served with beans and asparagus.  My friend ordered the chilled soup and my order friend got the salad.  I had a tasting of all three dishes and they were all good, but my favorite of the three was the poached egg with asparagus and bean.  The presentation was natural and pretty, but more importantly the flavors were perfectly balanced.

One of the major reasons why I wanted to eat here was their english pea agnolotti and was so glad it was part of their restaurant week menu.  In addition to the agnolotti my two other friends ordered the roast chicken and fish dishes.  Portion wise, the agnolotti and chicken entrees had one of the smallest, the best entree buy was the fish.  I loved the agnolotti entree and enjoyed tasting the freshness of the roast chicken and fish entrees.

Blenheim’s restaurant week menu dessert did not have many options so we went with the waitress’s suggestion of the honey semifreddo and the suggestion was spot on.   The portion size of this dish was also good.  The semifreddo and the fresh wholeness of the berries with honey was a great end to the meal. 20160728_202921

I would actually return to the restaurant just to have another order of the agnolotti regardless of the mediocre service.  But it would be interesting to actually see whether I would be served differently if I ordered from the regular menu than from the restaurant week menu.  Time will only tell…

Meatless Monday – Mung Bean Pudding

Happy Monday, technically Tuesday.  Well, this week there is no game plan because, I had an accident working out and I am recovering from the aftermath.  Therefore, since this week is Songkran aka Thai New Year, I will dedicate this week to posting healthy Thai recipes and recent places I have eaten at.

Therefore, the first of two Thai recipes for the week is meatless for Meatless Monday.  This dish is a Thai dessert, which personally can be versatile and be served as a meal.  The meal can be made with two ingredients or up to four ingredients.  The star ingredient of the dish is Mung Bean, a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and it is very nutritious and detoxifying.

Health Benefits of Mung Bean Consumption:

Contain high soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol

Contain protease inhibitors, which block the copying and reproducing of tumor and cancer cells especially breast cancer

Contain isoflavones that regulate hormones, estrogen, in particular, which helps women with post-menopause.

Low glycemic making it diabetic friendly.

High in protein

Recently, an article was published at the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggesting the possibility that the extract of mung bean sprouts can serve as a potent antiviral property.  The extract’s potency can economically and effectively fight against the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and Herpes Simplex virus −1 (HSV-1).

Tau Suan – Mung Bean Sweet Dessert/Pudding

This dish is very easy to make and it cost effective.  Total cost of the dish can range between $5-$10 at most Asian supermarkets.  This dish serves two people.

8 tablespoons of dried mung beans = 361 calories/2 servings

2 cups of water = 0 calories

4 tablespoons tapioca starch  = 84 calories/2 servings (optional)

4 tablespoons sugar =186 calories/2 servings (optional)

5 tablespoons coconut milk = 100 calories/2 servings (optional)

  1. Boil beans in water for approximately 20 minutes.
  2. Mix tapioca starch with water, keep stirring so nothing sticks in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add sugar (optional)
  4. Warm coconut milk but do not heat it all the way (optional).
  5. Pour warm coconut milk to the lentil dish (optional).

Personally I have made this dish several times, using three ingredients and performing only the first two steps because my father does not eat sweets.  Recently I have made this dish using all the ingredients listed to obtain the sweet and creamy texture.

Cheers to better health! Off to the next recipe.  Stay tuned.

Throwback Thursday – Élan

Recently I have received information from various sources of restaurant closings in New York City.  One of them was a restaurant that was on my list for NYC restaurant week to go to, but unfortunately was booked for the days that I am available to go.  The name of this restaurant is élan and I finally made the effort to explore the restaurant on what I thought was the last day.  The restaurant was only serving a prix fixe menu – 3 course meal for $40.  I had the privilege of meeting one of the owners – George.  George informed me that they are extending business until the end of the month hopefully. Meg, my server for that evening was good, but she could be better.  She neglected to inform me of the other specials that was off the menu that evening.  However, her accommodation and hospitality towards was good.  Meg provided a great sales pitch on the popular dishes to try and her recommendations were on point.

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Three course menu options

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Sea Urchin Guacamole 

The first dish I ordered was the Sea Urchin Guacamole.  The dish caught my eye and I was immediately curious.  I asked Meg, my server, about the dish and she highly recommended it so I went with my gut plus her approval and ordered it.   The dish was beautifully presented, approximately 1 cup of guacamole with a sea urchin in the middle surrounded by taro chips heavily seasoned in sea salt.  Personally I am not a salt fan, but the dish was well balanced.  The saltiness of the taro chips complemented the acidity and sourness of sea urchin mixed with the guacamole.  I devoured the dish.

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Complementary house made everything pretzel w whole grain mustard butter. 

While feasting on my appetizer dish, Meg served me a house made everything pretzel with whole grain mustard butter, which was delicious. Hands down.

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Striped bass in red wine butter sauce with house made fried sage potato chips and snap peas. 

For the main course, I followed Meg’s recommendation of the chef’s special of the day dish, which was off the menu.  I ordered a striped bass, which is pan seared star bass on top of a delightful red wine butter sauce.   I loved the red wine butter sauce.  The fried sage potato chips were cleverly made, a piece of fresh sage leaf sandwiched in between two very thinly sliced potatoes and deep fried.  The dish was beautifully presented and tasted even better than the guacamole appetizer.

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Enjoyed my meal with a 30z sherry wine

 

After reviewing the drink list, I came across this sherry wine that cost only $6 I had to try it.  The sherry wine was just right for my tolerance and went well with what I ate so far.

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Milk chocolate mousse with passion fruit 

For dessert, I decided to once again follow Meg’s recommendation of the milk chocolate mousse.  George, one of the owners, served me the dish.  The dish hit the spot.  It had the right balance of the natural sweets of the passion fruit with the milk chocolate.  What I learned is that this was the first day that they were serving this dish and I was satisfied.  I would definitely order it again.

Overall this was one of best prix fixe meals I have had in a while because every dish tasted better and better.  The food experience left a lasting impression and I am sad that this place was closing.  I told three of my friends and convinced them to come to this restaurant.  Therefore, I will definitely be returning.  Hopefully, they will extend their business until the end of the month.

NYC Restaurant Week Anticipation

It’s been a busy week but I have been reminiscing my happy days of eating out.  One of my hobbies to this day is taking advantage of NYC Restaurant Week.   NYC Restaurant Week is back and starting from January 18th – February 5th, participating restaurants will be promoting three course meals at a bargain price ($25 for lunch/brunch and $38 dinners) Mondays – Sundays.  Over the past 10 years, I have had the pleasure of eating at high end restaurants at a bargain price.  Ideally, the best deals for NYC restaurant week is lunch/brunch and one of my favorite restaurants, which took about two years to get reservations, David Burke Kitchen in Soho.  My very first experience at a David Burke restaurant was at David Burke Kitchen for dinner back in 2012 thanks to Celebrity Chef David Burke who I have had the pleasure of meeting at a library earlier in the year.  This very first experience introduced me to the famous Frozen Arnold Palmer created by Zac Young.  I loved the Frozen Arnold Palmer so much that I have to make one trip every summer just to have it.

During NYC restaurant week, David Burke Kitchen utilizes their current menu as part of their restaurant week menu.  In translation, this means that there is no separate menu for restaurant week, one can choose an appetizer, main entree and dessert from their regular menu.  As a result, reservations would sell out days after the promotions were released. During the past two years, I have had the privilege of eating lunch for restaurant week at David Burke Kitchen.  Food, service and staff were on point.  The first restaurant week lunch I had was at their Garden. For the appetizer, I ordered the Kale Salad, which was healthy and had a good portion serving; the dressing balanced the dish very well.  Kale and cashew are two of my personal favorite kinds of food. For the entree, I went hearty by ordering the Short Rib with Homemade Cavatelli Pasta.  The short ribs were tender and the cavatelli just melted it my mouth.

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NYC Restaurant Week Lunch 2013: Kale salad, Short Rib Cavatelli & Frozen Arnold Palmer

The following summer, I returned to the same restaurant for lunch and took advice from my waitress and went with the BBQ chicken dumplings for the appetizer and the classic Kitchen burger with fries for entree. For the dessert in both occasions, I always turn to the Frozen Arnold Palmer, the refreshing end to my meal.

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BBQ chicken dumplings

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Kitchen Burger

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Frozen Arnold Palmer

It is amazing how a year changes, and now I am excited to explore new restaurants such as The Wayfarer for restaurant week lunch to support E Squared Hospitality and David Burke.  In addition, David Burke will be hosting a Signature Chef Series at on Wednesday January 20th entitled “Tip to Tail”, it will be a 5 course meal of beef with wine pairing, I’m so excited to come and support David’s work.