Monthly Archives: June 2011

Wild Edibles, 535 3rd ave, NY, NY

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My dear friend and I bought a $60-of-food/drink-for-$30 deal on yelp.com and were really excited to go eat oysters to our hearts content. We had discussed buying 2 of the deals, but settled on one. Looking back, we should have gone for both…It was rather easy to eat and drink $120 worth there. We did notice a sign saying that from 12-6 every day they have $1 oysters at the bar and we made a mental note to return for that sometime.

When we arrived, we took in the bare-bones seafood market atmosphere, with tables so close together that they were essentially all connected and had to be pulled out to allow a person to squeeze into the wall-side seats. Nothing fancy here, but the freshest, most outstanding seafood and casual, friendly service. I love this kind of vibe in a restaurant. Nothing pretentious, no frills, no hype, just quality food.

We each had a glass of wine and some of the delicious bread while we figured out what to order. We decided to start with an array of 2 each of 6 different types of east coast oysters. Both of us prefer the sweet, juicy types over the briny (as Betsy would say “the-I-just-swallowed-a huge-mouthful-of-ocean-water type) so we stuck to those that had descriptions of lettuce-y, light , mild, clean, flavors. They arrived on the classic bed of shaved ice and with lemon, cocktail sauce and a vinaigrette. We slurped those babies down so fast that it surprised even me, and we went right ahead and ordered 12 more. This time we stuck to our 6 each of our 2 favs from the previous platter: the Blue Points and the Beau Soleils. The funny thing about oysters is that they fill a platter, but in reality they are really kinda small and not filling, so even after we’d each polished off a dozen, we were still hungry. We shared a field green salad that was kinda boring, but at least something green. Then we ordered the calamari- which was really fantastic with a light, crunchy batter and 2 kicky sauces. If our bill wasn’t already creeping up toward the roof, I think we could have easily ordered another dozen oysters but alas, you have to stop at some point.

I’ll be back for sure! Most likely to try some of the other offerings…the tables next to ours were enjoying their tuna tartare, grilled fish, mussels, lobster rolls and pasta dishes immensely and I got the feeling that you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu. As we chatted with our waiter we learned that  they are the distributors for over 500 restaurants in the NYC area, and it’s no wonder why. Really top-notch seafood. Give them a shot.

Chez Carey! Summer Shrimp Salad

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Wow. This was SUCH a winning experiment that I wanted to share it with you all. I’d been getting into a bit of a rut with my lunch salads and decided to change things up a bit today based on some cool ingredients that were on sale at Fresh Direct. I started by steaming some rock shrimp and chopping them up. I mixed those up with the following list of ingredients, let it sit for 15 minutes and then stuffed it into the emptied avocado shells and I must say, I have outdone myself with this one. 5 stars Carey, if I do say so myself!

:0)

As always, the amount of each ingredient is up to you. This, like ALL of my recipes, is merely a concept to by toyed with to your liking.

Chop and combine the following:

rock shrimp

english cucumber

radish

jicama

pineapple

grape tomatoes

baby bok choy

avocado

mint

cilantro

fresh ginger

Toss all of the above gently with:

the juice of a lime,

salt & pepper

a little olive oil

Let the salad sit and marinate for 15 minutes or so and then scoop into the emptied avocado shell for a pretty presentation.

YUM! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Candle Cafe: 1307 3rd ave. New York, NY

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I avoided trying Candle Cafe for a long time because it’s the sister of Candle 79, a restaurant that I am, errr, less than fond of..see my review of it here: https://bigforkinmouth.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/candle-79-154-e-79th-st-new-york-ny/     It was my dear friend’s birthday though, someone I love to try healthy places with, and I’m always hearing from people I trust who adore Candle Cafe. I thought this provided the perfect occasion to give them a fair shot.

I’m SO glad that I didn’t write this one off! We were seated right away by the hostess and started looking, with wide eyes, over a menu that had WAY too many appealing choices on it. (this is a good thing) Everything sounded great, from the specials to the salads, sandwiches, entrees and smoothies…and I hadn’t even seen the dessert menu yet.

I settled on the special wrap of the day: An artichoke heart and arugula wrap with grilled lemon basil tofu, tapioca cheese, basil aioli wrapped in a spinach tortilla with a side salad and roasted tomato salsa. It was really SOOOOO good. YUM. The tofu was crisp on the outside and soft and creamy inside, the ‘diet’ cheese was flavorful and actually pretty interesting, the veggies were fresh and had nice texture to them and the basil aioli was sweet, spicy and delicious. The only complaint I had about this dish was that the side salad contained quite a few pieces of brown lettuce. Now, I understand that organic produce doesn’t always look as perfect as non-organic, but brown leaves are kind of pushing it as far as I’m concerned.

For dessert we shared (admittedly, I ate 80% of it) the chocolate mousse pie with a chocolate cookie crust. It was out-of-this-world. Kind of like a cheesecake, but somehow a bit lighter than that. It had a rich, dark chocolate flavor and a smooth consistency. No one is missing dairy here for sure!

The bill here was more-than reasonable and I really liked the casual, earth/animal-friendly atmosphere. The wait staff was super polite and attentive and the vibe was much more chill than it’s sister. I’ll leave Candle 79 for the wealthy UESers who can afford a $25 ounce of avocado. I will definitely be back!

Omonia Cafe: 3220 Broadway, Astoria, NY

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When dinner time rolled around last night, G and I decided to wander into Astoria to find somewhere to eat. Although I AM a fan of little hole-in-the-walls that no one has discovered yet, I also find super-crowded places to be very appealing, holding trust in the masses. Omonia Cafe (although I must say  that I hate that the name sounds like ammonia, not at all appealing associated with food) was completely hopping late on a Sunday night, with tons of outdoor seating and a vibrant, lively scene.

We were seated right away at a sidewalk table and took a few minutes to peruse the large and varied menu. Everything from breakfast foods, to salads, to paninis and 3 pages full of pastries, ice creams and other desserts sounded great.

We shared the calamari to start, and it was hot out of the deep-fryer, certainly not one of the healthiest choices I’ve made, but ohhhh so worth it. Not too much breading, generous cuts of calamari and a very good marinara dipping sauce made a great starter and we cleaned the plate pretty quickly.

For my entree, I had a Greek salad that totally hit the spot. Perfect ratios of romaine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, onions and feta with triangles of toasted pita on the side. The only bizarre thing was that they didn’t have any Greek dressing to go with it. Huh? Oh well, I ordered some ranch dressing but didn’t really like it and wound up using the red wine/vinegar that was on the table instead.

With 3 pages of dessert offerings, we really couldn’t leave without trying something…and being that we’d already had a fairly indulgent weekend, we decided one more overdo was at that point, not really a big deal. hahaha. So we ordered a peanut butter, hot fudge sundae and I got a really excellent cappuccino. Little did we know, the sundae was the size of a bowling ball. Somehow, we managed to do some pretty serious damage to it. Today, I am on no-sugar, eating only vegetables/fruits and fish…and feeling quite a bit less gross already 🙂

 

*photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com/enter/Magic_Sandbox.html

Iron Horse Grill:

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Anyone who thinks you need to be in NYC to have an amazing 5 star meal, PLEASE go try this place. Up in suburban Pleasantville, NY in the old train station, is a lovely, small, incredible dining experience waiting for your visit. The owner, Philip McGrath, has a ridiculously impressive resume having chefed at many of NYC’s top restaurants, but as a family man he wanted  a quieter, more intimate setting to call his home. His attention to detail and integrity comes through as he comes out to personally meet each of his customers, engaging in friendly conversation, and making sure that every plate is perfect. It’s special touches like these that set Iron Horse apart from the sea of above average restaurants as far as I’m concerned.

Nothing trendy about the atmosphere here, just classic, traditional decor and wait staff who not only know their stuff, but clearly look at it as a career and not just as a job.

My mother and I were celebrating her birthday and since we have the same tastes in food, we decided to share all of the apps, entrees and dessert that we ordered. How wonderful was it that the kitchen was willing to half-plate everything for us so there was no clumsy plate-swapping involved? It was so luxurious to be served our 3 courses in what felt like a 5 course meal.

A lovely , fresh bread basket and crisp, green olives were brought out promptly to wet our already voracious appetites. The first course served was a chilled carrot/dill soup, complete with homemade, waffled potato chips and a small pile of delicious flaked crab. This soup was phenomenal and light- no cream, just the veggies and crab. Perfect for a warm summer evening.

Next we had the peakytoe crab with corn, avocado and caviar and WOW, this was a perfect dish. Also incredibly summer-ific, light and totally succulent. Each flavor stood on it’s own as well as complementing the others that sat beside it. One of the things I love about this chef is that he never overwhelms flavors with excessive seasoning or oil. The dishes are all quite healthy and unmasked and you really get to enjoy the flavor of each top-quality ingredient without disguise. The actual plating of this dish was really quite beautiful as you can see in my photos.

For our entrees we shared the sole over mashed potatoes and the special of the day: my favorite, soft-shelled crabs which were served over wild rice, fiddleheads and almonds. This was a remarkable dish- that stood out to me even among it’s exceptional menu-partners. I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong at this restaurant.

By this time we were SO full, but it WAS a birthday so we HAD to at least look at the dessert menu. And okay, maybe we didn’t exactly need our arms twisted to try the special of the day, a key lime pie with coconut sorbet. I was really glad we went for it, with it’s crisp meringue topping and the delightful coconut sorbet, this key lime was refreshing and as light as can be and perfectly polished off our outstanding meal. This is officially one of my all-time favorite restaurants and I would love to return.

If you are ever in the area, or want a lovely escape from the city, take metronorth up to Pleasantville and you are right there at the Iron Horse. You will thank me, I promise.

>Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger: 739 Broadway, NY NY

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>What better way to replenish iron levels after blood donation than indulging in a ridiculously large burger?? None that I know of. I love a good burger. I probably eat one every 2 months or so and looked forward to this for a couple of weeks knowing it was coming. The burger menu at Cozy’s is an entire page long. Burgers with just about everything you can think of on them. I decided to go for their signature burger with cheddar, fried onions and mushrooms and Mmmm, good choice. Although I ordered it ‘medium’ it came out closer to well done, but that was just fine by me. Smothered in cheese and toppings, it was basically just a melty, delicious pile of more protein, carbs and fat than one person should really ever consume in one sitting….but ohhhhh so worth it. I figured at that point, I may as well have the classic chocolate egg cream that compliments such an overdo, and compliment it did. So chocolatey good and creamy. To amuse myself, I ordered a side salad instead of the french fries that would have made this a ‘deluxe’ platter. Making the healthy choice at this point is pretty much laughable. That said, I did taste the fries and thought they were kind of undercooked and mushy. I didn’t miss out on those at all.

 The service at this diner was actually pretty awesome. Our waiter was super friendly and funny- when we asked him exactly who had awarded their milkshake as #1, which was boldly written on the menu, he chuckled and basically said that they had given themselves the award. He was attentive and quick to serve our food and refill our water. The atmosphere is exactly what it should be, a cozy, little, old-fashioned, greasy-spoon diner. The burgers are a step or 2 above typical diner food but are priced very fairly. Is this the best burger in the city? No, but it was damn enjoyable, and I will happily be running long today to compensate.

>BLT Fish: 21 West 17th st. New York, NY

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>I’d been wanting to try BLT fish for a while and a super sticky summer day provided the perfect opportunity. When my date and I found out that happy hour oysters and clams were just a buck each, we were all over it.  Arriving right at the start of happy hour, it was clear that we weren’t the only ones who knew about this deal and the bar filled up very quickly.
Not pictured is the awesome mojito I ordered. I drink very rarely, but love a mojito on a hot day and it went oh-so-well with the seafood we shared. Filled with tons of freshly muddled mint and lime, it totally hit the spot. Deeeeeelcious and so refreshing without totally knocking me on my ass. Okay, maybe it knocked me on my ass a little bit.
On to the food! We ordered an assortment raw shellfish and apps.
The blue point oysters, top neck and little necks arrived quickly on a bed of shaved ice. The two sauces, one cocktail and the other a wine/shallots/vinaigrette mixed really well together and were the perfect topping on the fresh shellfish. They were all so fresh and succulent that we polished them off and ordered more. At $1 per, how could we not?!?!
The peel & eat shrimp arrived and were surprised to see they weren’t the typical boiled or steamed ones that are commonly described that way. These had a strong rosemary flavor and were either broiled or grilled which added a lovely smokiness to them. Cooked perfectly, they didn’t need any sauce at all but were even better with a squeeze of lemon over the top.
We also ordered the stuffed jalapenos and WOW. They were so awesome. A light batter coating added to the triple layers of texture. The jalapenos themselves were still slightly crunchy and stuffed with a gooey melty cheese,       they were pretty much perfection. Add a spicy aioli dipping sauce and voila, couldn’t be better.
Our bill came to around $60 total, and considering the amount of excellent food and drink we’d just enjoyed, I thought that was incredibly reasonable. I will definitely be back.

*1st and 3rd photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com/enter/Magic_Sandbox.html