Archive for ‘review’

February 2, 2011

New York: Oriental Gardens

Oriental Gardens

14 Elizabeth St
(between Bayard St & Canal St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhood: Chinatown

One of the greatest finds from our short New York visit was “Oriental Gardens” in China Town. I guess it was one of the most interesting experiences in the city. Since I moved from Sydney, I never really could find a restaurant anywhere else, which serves yum cha, or pretty much “dumplings on the trolley”. Or even just dumplings for that matter. I found some places in London, but they didn`t really make a good impression. But here in New York, yum cha was called “lunch” good lunch to be honest, I can`t wait to go back and have even more dumplings!

We found the restaurant by pure luck, and with a little Zagat help. Wandering around in China Town we were a bit lost. Shall we eat here or there? Everything looked good or interesting. And I was a bit afraid we going to miss out something really good. The choise went to Oriental Gardens, the price range noted in the book and the review was pretty good, and we were only a block away. The fact that we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table was a bit uncomfortable but very exciting at the same time. The place was PACKED, and packed is good, meaning the food is good! So if you visit you have to be very lucky to be seated straight away, and get ready to possibly share your table with somebody else. Which actually doesn`t bothert me, this way you can meet some interesting people!

So, the food. Waitresses were walking around serving chinese dumplings finest, like spring rolls, and bbq pork bun, and steamed chicken dumplings and many many fried goods. If you didn`t like that selection, or just had a few things in mind, you could ick from a very long list of dumplings, noodles, soups from the menu. We said yes to almost everything, and ended up eating a lot, but I knew im not going to see much dumpling for a while, so no guilty feeling there!

The dumplings were nice, my favourite of all time are bbq pork buns. I’m crazy for them. There were 2 things I really disliked, but at some point I expected it! The mini prawns!!!! In everything!!! You order chicken, there prawns in it! Pork..the same! And I don`t eat seafood, so it was a bit annoying, trying to dig them out with a chopstick! The other thing, the hot and sour soup was really disappointing! It was just pure hot and tasteless. Try and avoid it! But finally I had steamed pok choi again! One of my favourite vegetables, which are sometimes very hard to get a hand on in Europe.

If you are in China Town, visit Oriental Gardens, I highly recommend it!

January 31, 2011

Bari: Di Cosimo Pizzeria, picture expension.

I think Pizzeria di Cosimo, from Bari was one of my first posts on the blog, and since it`s been one of the most popular ones. Especially in the recent weeks, it was one of the most googled article from Wonderingchef. I decided to add some more photos, for the ones who are interested. Puglia is an up and coming travel points among bloggers and food lovers, the recent year has really done well for it`s popularity. And if you trust me, you`ll belive me it is worth to visit! Nothing is better than picking up some fresh giant green olives from one of the local markets, and pretty much eat your way trough the whole day! Also, after visiting New York, I have to say, Bari is one of the most cheapest places to eat around Europe, or pretty much anywhere!

So…. 3 pictures from Di Cosimo!

Picture 1: Since my first visit to Bari I`m addivted to Panzerotto. Small big, I don’t care as long as It`s fried! I’m not really a big fan of it`s ovenbaked version. I don`t know why , it`s just nothing special.  The fried version however, just had me at hello! It`s very similar to a hungarian langos – fried dough, but most of the time we eat it with sour creme and cheese. Well let me say the tomato sauce-mozarella cheese combo is even better. On this picture you can see a fried and an al forno panzerotto.

Picture 2: My latest discovery is pizza pana. It was fantastic! Also very simple, and I can`t believ I havent thought about it myself. This is pretty much, a simple pizza, with the tomato sauce basic, on top with fresh cooking creme. We have creme based pizzas here but that`s it, it`s never mixed with the tomato sauce, but it damn right should be! Try at home if you want, or at Cosimo, it`s even better:)

Picture 3; Pizza nd pizzella. Pizzella is a pizza, it`s just a small version. The food prices here are relatively small, price for a pizza is about 5 Euros, for a pizzella is 4 as far as I remember. I would suggest, if you are hungry order a panzerotto and a pizzella, so you can try as many things as possible. Also I pretty much described what Di Cosimo sells, These are the 2 items on the menu. Try and go early, otherwise you’ll be fighting for your food with the locals!

January 24, 2011

New York: Les Halles Review

Les Halles Downtown
15 John Street (off Broadway)
New York, NY 10038
212-285-8585 phone, 212-791-3280 fax

Yes I`m one of those who admire Anthony Bourdain. It`s not because I`m a chef and I idolize him, or because I have to like him because it’s a written law..No I like him because he is cool and honest. Anyway this post is not about Anthony Bourdain, it’s about Les Halles, who is already “Long gone” if I want to quote ZAGAT`s 2011 review!  Still, there`s no Les halles without Bourdain, he is the reason foodies all over the world get excited even by just mentioning the name. It’s a little bit like mentioning Ferra Adrian or El Bulli, but a bit more realistic and affordable way.  The brasseries cookbook is available almost all over the world, written of course by “you know who”, and has recipes in it, which you can still order from the menu. Yes i do own the book…cooked from it? To be honest not yet, but planning, cos even the most simplest things like, tomato salad and french fries has a new level of approach in it.   So yes, I couldn`t wait, to finally dine at the famous Les Halles and taste the fries!

Of course not only the fries, to be honest if I had the capability ive would have eaten the whole menu, but I couldn`t even finish my own 2 portions.  Note to self the american “bigger portion” is different from all over the world, by translation it would be like “It’s a bigger portion” meaning”it is massive”!


Its January, the snow storm CNN was talking about has arrived. It is as big as it managed to clear the streets of Manhattan from people, and everybody decided to stay in. Well, almost everyone. As we arrive to Les Halles to out pretty late dinner reservation, something unexpected happens…the restaurant is empty! The weather is just as cold as it managed to freeze the citizens appetite and leave most places empty. Well,  crowd or no crowd we are eating here tonight! As for the service, it was pretty good, fast, and polite.  Hoping it is about the same when the place is full of costumers.  The menus are the same that were on the website no changes there, also there are not much specials tonight so we already pretty much know what we are going to eat.  The appetizers are home made terrine, and toasted brie with honey and black pepper. We get them in no time, but im not really impressed. Also I don’t know what I really expected? So the most simplest foods if they are done in Les Halles are going to taste and look different? Well, they don`t, and they didn`t. The presentation was a bit boring, as the taste was alright, but, I expected a bit more, a twist or a secret ingredient. The terrine might have been a bit of work, but the toasted brie wasn`t anything more, what an unexperienced cook couldn`t make at home.


For main course I decided to be a bit more adventurous so, i picked the raw meat and the raw egg. Yes I had a beef tartare, which is a bit of a risky order, but I figured it is a Tuesday, the stock must be fresh, it is made at the table and we have to live an adventurous life, so I went for it!. The portion was quite big, it was made at my table, but the ingredients for me were a bit surprising. As so far, from my dad (who is a chef for 30 years now) I only saw the mustard-butter-egg-salt-pepper-onion version for the mix. Here instead, were some capers, and tabasco, parsley, among the onion and mustard, it was nice, actually it was more then nice, it was indeed very tasty! It came with the famous thin and crispy fries, and side salad. The meat had a beautiful pink-red colour even long after the mix, and very fresh taste. I couldnt stop ordering bread for the tartar ( we eat it with toast, hungarian is a funny nation). It was a good choice, I didn`t have tartare for a long time. My dinner partner had “Choucroute Garnie” which might sound french, indeed it is a very German selection. It is a very typical german meal, which is the favourite among tourists at the Xmas markets. It’s a Frankfurter, a white sausage, a slice of smoked pork loin, and sour cabbage aka. “sauerkraut”. You can like or hate this dish, I guess there’s absolutely no fantasy in it, and you don`t need to b a good chef to prepare it.  Of course he got a pretty big portion from, it, as much i tried to warn him, he didn`t listen to me.  Later he admitted, he should have taken the tuna, as much heavy the meal was, it wasn`t too tasty.  Of course there was no room for dessert.

It was a nice dinner, but I’ve been missing something. Maybe more people in the restaurant, and a bit more twists in the food, or just maybe a unique taste. Maybe this is what happens when you raise the bar too high, and forget why You went there on the first place.

January 23, 2011

New York: Billys Bakery

Billy’s Bakery

184 9th Avenue
Between 21st and 22nd Streets

Website

If you are visiting New York, and if you have this thing for cupcakes, Magnolia Bakery isn`t the only place worth visiting. In fact the city is the heaven for cupcake lovers, offering fresh delights almost on every street or corner. I found “Billy’s Bakery” in Chelsea, and the fresh cakes being frosted and decorated in the huge window just attracted me in. They were so cute, colourful, and pretty, we had o try one. Red Velvet cake is of course the favourite, the only other place beside the states was London`s “Hummingbird Bakery” where I could find them, they were delicious.


The shop in Chelsea, is tiny, but plenty to choose from. I loved the rustic interior design, Everything is so colourful, like you were in a fairy tale. Here you could also have a small look on the cake making process, to be honest I have this thing for open kitchens. Chefs, bakers etc shouldnt be hidden, this way you can bring the costumers a bit closer.


The cakes were delicious, the price usually is about 3 dollars per cake. If you are either in Chelsea or Tribeca I would recommend treating yourself with a cupcake!

January 18, 2011

Brussels: Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Place du Jeu-de-Balle 1 Marolles

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Belgian chocolate, Beer, Waffle, Smurfs, many things a country can be famous for, and yet have such an unknown cousine, why unknown? As they don`t have one. Ok I know it’s a bit harsh, but lets face it, it is true. As Belgium and it`s capital can be the dream destination for sweet-lovers and dessert enthusiasts, as much that’s all the city has to offer culinary vise. Also even in some restaurants we have to watch out , as Brussels famous restaurant street, which offers lunch and dinner menus is just a giant rip-off. If look carefully all the menus are exactly the same, and our food will come out of the freezer, into the microwave and on our plates, all this for 12 euros least. Of course you can eat well, and have a tasty dinner and in the city, but in this case some local advise from a friend or from a hotel, or guide is very necessary. Still, you’ll find almost the same things everywhere. The city is undergoing a Spaghetti Bolognese and Chilli con Carne phase, so try and not be too picky. On the other hand you will find a chip shop almost on every corner, if you are not too adventurous, it can be a nice substitute for a couple of meals.

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Frambois Beer at Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brussels Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Onion soup with cheese at Brasserie la Clef d`Or

Brasserie la Clef d`Or, is one those places, where you would`nt just walk-in, well, first as it looks a bit dirty, and you are not really sure they cook there. But it might be your best meal in Brussels.   somewhere between the main train station and the city center. So it is a little bit off the radar, despite the local flea market which is right next to it. As we walk in, we already see, yes most of the people here are locals. Some don`t even order, just take their seat, and a beer will be served to them immediately. The staff is friendly, and the service is quite fast. And yes, there`s food, of course not a huge variety of it, but right enough for a bistro. The Brasserie is famous of it`s home-made soups, and the stoemp. What is a stoemp? It`s a traditional Belgian and dutch mashed potato with some other root vegetables included, like broccoli, or leek. Here it’s served on a slice of bread,with some fried bacon.  Theres of course Bolognese and chili on the menu. Also a few version of croque`s. But let me say, in Brussels I was disappointed in the croque monsieur. As it is only toasted cheese and ham sandwich, and there’s no bechamel inside, and no butter-parmesan crust. The onion soup here was very nice, served with some fresh baguette, the stoemp was big and filling, the beer was nice and cold. My fixation is the Frambois beer which is raspberry beer, it is nice sweet and sour, must try!

Brussels Stoemp at Brasserie a la clef d`Or

Stoemp avec Lard

The restaurant is one of those places where you just want to hang out, with friends, or just sit down and read a book. It does have a friendly and cosy atmosphere, and I pretty much wanted to stay there all day. If you are in Brussels, it would a mistake to leave it out!

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January 17, 2011

New York: Chelsea Market in words and pictures

Chelsea Market

75 9th Avenue (Between 15th and 16th streets), New York

Chelsea Market Website

Chelsea Market building New York

Chelsea Market building New York

This enclosed shopping center and food court was once home of the famous Oreos, and is now one of the No.1 meeting point of the city’s gourmet food lovers. Naturally I had to visit it. If you want a piece of advise, you won`t have breakfast before you go there. The market has plenty to offer! From cupcakes to foccacia, from risotto to sushi, even if you are picky, you`ll want to try them all.

Chelsea Market, New York, Amys Bakery

Chelsea market Amy`s Bakery

Gourmet food tours, should be the best way to visit the area. The tours are available on the markets website. Unfortunately I didn’t know about these, and only discovered them when we arrived to the market, they seemed fun and interesting, and surely You can try, and taste more products this way, also you can learn some insight stories about the establishments. Next time I visit I`ll surely join one of them, but not only the market`s but whole a whole Chelsea tour.

Chelsea Market- Amy`s Bakery, Lobster`s place

Amy`s Bakery, Lobsters place, Chelsea Market New York

2 of my favourite businesses were “Amy`s Bakery” and “Lobster`s Place”- even thou I dont` eat seafood. If you are a sushi lover I would strongly recommend to pick up 1 or 2 plates of freshly made rolls there, or just look at the making process from the window. And of course fresh lobsters and plenty other seafood is available. What I liked the most, is the presentation of different products, from all around the market, everything is so organized, colourful and creative! And most of the time, open, so you can look at the production process of several bakery, or restaurants, or pretty much anything.

Chelsea Market, New York, Buon Italia

Chelsea market, New York, Buon Italia


Chelsea and it`s market should be a foodies dream destination when visiting New York Ci, it`s a nice walk from Times Square for the more adventurous tourists!

 

Chelsea market, New york- Buon Italia

Buon Italia, Chelsea market, New York

 

January 16, 2011

New York: Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

1240 Avenue of the Americas New York

For info and more locations click here

 

Magnolia Bakery at the Rockefeller Center

Magnolia Bakery New York

Well I like to think about myself as a real “Cupcake Connoisseur”, and to be perfectly frank, I`m crazy for them! Not always about the taste or the consuming, I just like how they look like. Small, cute, colourful, and creative. Sadly, the cupcake madness isn`t really big in Europe, or If you can buy some, most of the time, they are dry and tasteless. I have this dream, about opening my Cupcake-bakery, untill then I`m just visiting shops and websites for more inspiration.

Cakes at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery Ney York

Merchandise at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York

So it happened, on my very first visit to New York I searched for the best cupcakes in town.  Google`s search engines pointed pretty much to one direction: MAGNOLIA BAKERY!!!!! After a bit more searches I realised these are also the famous cupcakes from Sex and the City, and they also appeared in some other film productions. Well, of course I had to check them out. Their website was already mouth-watering. It`s cute, a bit rustic, and you can read titles like: orange, double chocolate, pumpkin, Red Velvet cake, devil`s food cake, Pumpkin spice cake, pies, cookies, brownies.. all yum yum yum! How I’m going to try ALL of these by only one visit??????????

Cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York


Well in terms, I was lucky, as my hotel was only 1 block away from its midtown`s location. So ive been a frequent visitor for over a week. Going early so, I don`t have to que u, with all the other cupcake lovers inside the small bakery, which has a very nice and cosy atmosphere.Friendly staff, an almost open kitchen, so you can have a sneak peek into the cupcake decoration and cake frosting.

Magnolia Bakery New York

Magnolia Bakery New York


From all what we tried the red velvet cupcake was the favourite, also the vanilla and chocolate classic cakes were very very nice. I loved the frosting, it was creamy and tasty, the cakes were all moist and light. But some of them were a bit disappointing, the orange and lemon cupcakes were a bit tasteless, and there were a bit lack of variety of cupcakes you could get without ordering in advance.The 2 and the 3 story cakes looked amazing. My favourite was, the pumpkin spice cake, but there’s many more to try!

Cheesecakes at Magnolia Bakery New York

If you wish to become a cupcake baker at home, you can pick up a copy of “Magnolia bakery`s cookbook” with pictures and recipes, for about 27 Dollars, among with the bakery costume made t-shirts and aprons. If you are there, treat yourself, once, twice or well, any day if you feel like it!

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