Thursday, June 26, 2008

A New York Foodie Fable

Mom and I flew into Manhattan on Sunday and we've eaten some tasty treats since our arrival in one of my favorite cities on the planet, let me tell ya. For me, the culinary arts are right up there in the creative pantheon next to the artsy and crafty. However, I don't get much time to cook because (i) I'm on the road a lot, (ii) in the air just about as much, (iii) hole up in my office when not on the road or in the air, and (iv) knitting, crocheting, weaving, dyeing and spinning during my waking hours. There's not a whole lot of room in my schedule for cookery. However, I girl's gotta eat and well, I'm not one for missing meals.

So, where does this crafty maven eat while in the Big Apple?

Buddakan.

Let me just open with the fact that Dale was nowhere to be found. In spite of this fact, Mom, my friend and colleague, Amanda, and I still managed to have a wonderful supper filled with outstanding dishes. Let's just see what tantalized our taste buds, shall we?

Appetizers included Edamame Dumplings in shallot-sauternes broth, Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly with spicy shallots, cabbage and steamed buns, General Tso's Dumplings stuffed with chicken, ginger and garlic, Tuna Spring Rolls and Chili Rock Shrimp. Main selections included Shrimp and Lobster Chow Fun, Charred Fillet of Beef and Twice Cooked Long Beans. For dessert we indulged in Chocolate Mille Feuille. Oh, and we also polished off two bottles of Leitz Reisling (2006).

I loved the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly served sliced atop a bed of tangy cabbage slaw, alongside split steamed buns, encouraging the eater to build his or her own bao. The pork was cooked perfectly, tender, juicy, the glaze a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. Also of note were the Chili Rock Shrimp (batter dip it and fry it and I'll pretty much love it) and the Charred Fillet of Beef in all of it's buttery goodness. If you're a culinary adventurer like me, you will enjoy the Chocolate Mille Feuille, which combines bananas, chocolate and avocado. A lovely and unexpected dish to end a truly outstanding meal.

The restaurant itself is a feast for the eyes. Gorgeous, dark, rich surroundings. The service was prompt and on point for the entire meal. Dishes were brought out steaming hot from the kitchen when ready, providing diners with a constant onslaught of food. Hey, works for me!

Buddakan
75 9th Ave. (Bet. W. 15th & W. 16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011
212-989-6699

Next up, Prune.

Mom and I grabbed a cab to the East Village Tuesday night in order to dine in a little bistro that I'd heard nothing but good things about. And I'm happy to report, everything I had heard was absolutely true. Prune is something special. Owner/Chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, creates food that is all at once, spirited, homey, rich and resonant.

Mom and I started our meal with Roast Marrow Bones, atop a parsley salad, accompanied by toasted hunks of fresh baguette and a small dish of sea salt. I like dishes that require a little work. With this dish, the eater is required to extract the rich marrow from the bones with spoon or knife and then spread the fatty goodness atop bread. Well worth the effort.

Our main courses consisted of Grilled Quail with Braised Escarole and Raisins on the Vine and Lamb Ribs with Braised Dandelion Greens and Skordalia. The quail was smoky and tender. The greens, equally tender as the quail with a hint of sweetness from the raisins. A good dish. Although, the lamb ribs were better, rich and perfectly cooked. The ribs were crispy on the outside, while the meat itself was tender and falling off the bone. We also indulged in a side of braised leeks and greens. They were buttery and soft. Yum!

Mom and I rounded out the meal with a shared dessert of Ricotta Ice Cream with Butterscotch Croutons. Heaven in a bowl.

The restaurant itself is a quirky and quaint little joint, cozy and comfortable, filled with light, albeit small. Service was spot on. I will definitely be making ressies for Prune each and every time I find myself in NYC.

Prune
54 E. 1st Street (Bet. 1st & 2nd Avenues)
New York, NY 10003
212-677-6221

Third stop on the food tour, Blue Hill. This was not my first visit to this lovely little spot in Washington Square and it was absolutely a pleasure to be able to feast there again.

Mom and I were seated in a comfortable table along the east wall. We began with a bottle of Rose (the name is escaping me and it's not listed in this wine list available on their website!), our current fave. Got to love that Rose is making a comeback AND its not that sickeningly sweet junk found in a screw top bottle or in a box with a tap (FOR SHAME).

Service was a bit slow at first. Someone finally caught on that we were sitting for quite some time, sucking down more than one glass of wine apiece, without having placed our order. From then on, service was smooth.

We began our meal with Gazpacho (fresh, tangy and GREEN) and Maine Crabmeat, shredded atop a compote of fennel, apple and Stone Barns panther soybeans in an apple mustard broth. Both dishes were quite good. Although if I had to choose my favorite, it would be the Gazpacho, hands down. Big fan of the chilled soup.

Mom and I both had the Potato and Green Garlic Ravioli for our main selection. The ravioli itself was rich and the flavors clean. Actually, this was probably one of the more interesting raviolis I've tried. The pasta pockets were served tossed with baby collards, roasted chicken wing pieces (boneless and crisp) and shiitake mushrooms. We both inhaled everything on our plates.

For dessert we indulged in the Chocolate Bread Pudding and the Ricotta Souffle. The bread pudding was served warm topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate oozing from it's center. Need I say more? The Ricotta Souffle was also served warm, every spoonful light and lemony. So good.

I love Blue Hill. It is seasonal dining at its best.

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place
New York, NY 10011
212-539-1776

One last night for dining. I'll keep you posted!

5 comments:

woolanthropy said...

My computer is sitting in a puddle of drool. Oh I wish I were there filling my belly with those good eats. oh man....

Nichole D. said...

God, now I'm starving, and the most edible thing in the house is peanut butter and jelly. sigh.

FinnyKnits said...

Ooooooooooh -- I've wanted to try Prune for a while. I'm glad to hear it's as good as I've heard. I love how rustic and unpretentious it seems. Like you can just sit down and enjoy the incredible food without having to be all, *look how fancy I am and these are all the fancy places I've been to eat fancy food* or whatever.

Did she still have French breakfast radishes with butter on the menu? I love that.

Octopus Knits said...

Oh, my! It all sounds delicious!

Manhattan Craft Room said...

ooh good choices! Prune is one of my favorite places. Next time you're in NYC we must dine out together!