April 30, 2009

Ocean Grill: One of our Go-To Neighborhood spots

Whenever we want to go somewhere with a nice ambiance, but not too expensive, we head to our neighbourhood spot: Ocean Grill. We started with glasses of Zardetto prosecco ($8/glass, always a safe choice because it's not sweet).

The oysters we had were Evening Cove (BC, $2.50 ea), Cortez Island (BC, $2.50 ea), Fisher Island (NY, $2.75 ea), and Little Skookum (WA, $3 ea). We found the Little Skookums to be very mild (almost sweet) with a creamy texture. The Fisher Islands were also creamy with minimal salt. Both of the BC oysters were of the briny, salty variety.

Salmon and Tuna Tartare ($12.50) with taro root chips in sesame, lime zest, and lemongrass. We regularly order the tartare as the fish is always fresh and the taro chips make it a fun dish to share.

Sushi! From left to right:
Spider roll ($13.50): This soft-shelled crab roll was their special that night.
Rainbow roll ($14): Salmon, shrimp, tuna, hamachi, and avocado wrap this roll.
Spicy Lobster and Hamachi roll ($13): Our favourite! We love the spicy kick from the jalapeno peppers in the roll, the texture of the creamy avocado, and the subtle cilantro aioli.
Creamy Wasabi Tuna roll ($13): This also contained avocado and tempura crunch.

Horseradish Encrusted Scottish Salmon ($26) with subtle goat cheese gnocchi and baby artichokes. We love the light crust on the perfectly prepared (medium) fish.

Complimentary lemon squares: a tangy light dessert to end our meal.

The meal we shared was enough for our party of four. Ocean Grill has that great neighborhood vibe that people in t-shirts and jeans can feel comfortable sitting next to those wearing dinner jackets.

Ocean Grill is located at 384 Columbus Ave. (at 78th St).
Ocean Grill on Urbanspoon

April 29, 2009

Jacques Torres - When a Kiss isn't just a Kiss

Jacques Torres houses delicious and artfully-designed chocolates and other sweet treats. Recently, Hershey's threatened the chocolatier with legal action stating that consumers would be confused between a Hershey Kiss and Torres' new Champagne Kiss (pictured left). Hershey is demanding that Torres rename its product.

Today, at all 3 Jacques Torres NYC locations, the stores will be giving away 10,000 Champagne Kiss chocolates (noon-3pm).

When we first heard about the controversy, we thought it was ridiculous. After all, the two certainly look different. As well, though iconic, the Hershey Kiss is a mass-produced candy. Torres' Champagne Kiss, however, is a gourmet product found on his website or in his handful of stores.

We went to the store on the UWS (Amsterdam btwn 73rd and 74th streets) to try out his new creation. The Champagne Kiss is made of milk chocolate, with a champagne filling. The texture is soft, silky, and melts in your mouth. Though we could not taste the champagne in the filling, it was good and reminded us of caramel (but not as sweet).

Did it remind us those foil wrapped treats we last had when we were trick-or-treating as kids? Definitely not! These treats were much more luxurious.

The Champagne Kiss retails for $1.50/each or $55 for a box of 50.

For more information or to sign Jacques Torres' petition, go to http://www.savejacqueskiss.com/ . Jacques Torres is located at 285 Amsterdam Ave., 350 Hudson at King Street, and in DUMBO at 66 Water Street, Brooklyn.

Tabla Frankie Street Cart

With the line at Danny Meyer's Shake Shack (below) extending the length of Madison Square Park, we decided to check out his other nearby establishment, Tabla. We heard that Tabla just added a street cart located right outside the restaurant.

April 28, 2009

Chinatown wanderings

Whenever we are in New York City's Chinatown and need a sweet treat, we always stop off for ice cream at The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St).

April 27, 2009

Dining at the new Yankee Stadium

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, we headed out to the new Yankee stadium.

As we did when we were kids, we immediately headed towards the street vendors for "dirty water" dogs that are located outside the stadium. For $2, we have the most nostalgic (and cheapest) meal of the day.

We sat down and hit up the beer guy. For $9, we get our own bottle of Miller Light.

We wanted a souvenir, so for $10 we opted for the Miller Lite from one of the concession stands.

As the Yanks were already down 14-2 to the Indians in the 2nd inning, we decided to check out the food and drink options at the new stadium. Above is the Mexican food offering.

The crowds check out the Johnny Rockets burger stand.

Philly Cheesesteaks (complete with calorie count...up to 605 calories!) at Carl's Steaks.

This was interesting....Lobel's (the store's on the UES) featured a window with a butcher cutting meat.

Two sushi chefs were preparing food for hungry fans.

We settled on Garlic Fries (large $9) which were pretty good. Not that greasy, but incredibly garlicky.

By the middle of the 5th inning, the Yankees are now down 20-2...we need another beer ($6).

The stadium's hot dog ($6, 297 calories) and sausage vendors ($8, 500 calories). Glad we opted for the hot dogs outside the stadium!

Needing more comforting in our team's eventual 22-4 loss to the Indians, we managed to get into the Jim Beam Suite Lounge in the 300s.

The Lounge features a full bar, pizzas (9-inch hearth-fired pizza $11), and this Food Network station (above) that sold burgers (1/4 pound grass-fed Angus burger $11) and fish tacos (with citrus salad, $9). Both of these items were pre-made and then kept on warmers for purchase.

In time, we will see if this new stadium lives up to the one that Ruth build. In the meantime, there are plenty of food and drink options to keep fans occupied.

April 26, 2009

Best Hole in the Wall in the City

Walking into this narrow bodega transports us back to Mexico. We are surrounded by canned jalapeno peppers, Mexican Coca-Cola (uses real sugar, not the high fructose corn syrup used in American Coke), and Jarritos drinks.

We make our way to the back to the tiny kitchen counter to order our meal. The area is filled with the wonderful smells of home-cooking. After we placed our order, we got our extra toppings (onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, tomatoes, and various hot sauces) ready.

Tacos (from left):
Chorizo c/papas (Sausage with potatoes) ($2.50): creamy potatoes with sausage - everything you want in comfort food!
Enchilada (Spicy pork) ($2.50):
Papas c/rajas (Potatoes with jalapenos) ($2.50): spicy creamy potatoes

Tacos (from left):
Bisteck (Beef) ($2.50): well done beef that was a little dry
Barbacoa (Goat meat) ($2.75): well done and crispy, the goat was not too dry, a balance of the crackling fat and ends
Chorizo c/papas (Sausage with potatoes) ($2.50)

Chorizo c/papas Tortas (Sausage with potatoes Mexican sandwich) ($6): Our favourite flavourful part of our meal was this sandwich. It was filled with avocado, potatoes, sausages, and lettuce with a touch of sour cream.

Bohemia beer ($3)
Penafiel club soda ($1.75)

Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery store is located at 695 10th Ave (between 47th and 48th Streets)

Tehuitzingo on Urbanspoon

Easy Sunday Brunch with the Breville Panini Press

In addition to dining out, we are also big home cooks. We love to entertain and oftentimes friends would come over for an impromptu get-together. Paninis are great to make because you can use whatever you find in your refrigerator to put together a tasty meal.

We love the Breville Ikon Panini Press because it is so versatile. Not only can we make quick and tasty paninis, but we can also grill meats and vegetables. The press is very easy to use. It takes minimal warm-up time (by the time you get all your ingredients ready, the press will be all set to go) and clean-up is a snap.

The Breville Panini Press retails for $99.99 and is available online and at numerous stores nationwide (including Williams-Sonoma).

April 25, 2009

The Treats Truck - Mobile Homemade Goodness

Wandering about on the UWS one afternoon, we were happy to see The Treats Truck in our neighbourhood.

As first-timers, we asked Kim Ima (owner/baker) for her recommendations on her best sellers. She graciously provided us a couple of samples from her extensive menu.

We settled on the top-selling Pecan Butterscotch bar ($2.75) and the Espresso brownie ($3). Of the two, we preferred the brownie because it had that nice bitter espresso and dark chocolate taste to it. If you like very sweet desserts, then the Butterscotch bar is more your style. It is sweet, nutty, and chewy. Both were prepared well - not dry or hard at all.

Treats Truck can be found around NYC. For locations, schedules, and menu, check out the website: http://www.treatstruck.com

Our favourite grocery/wine carryall - for less than $1

Saturday mornings are a great time to head out to the food markets and get our groceries for the week. In honour of Earth Week, we celebrate our favourite handy carryall - The Trader Joe's 6-pack wine tote bag.

Not only does the bag easily carry 6 bottles of wine, beer, water, etc., we have also used it on our market trips for canned goods, jars, and other smaller items. We have used it many times (and given them out to friends) and it still has not torn apart!

The 6-pack wine tote bag usually retails for $0.99 (California), but we have seen it sold in Manhattan for $0.58 at Trader Joe's Wine Shop (Union Square).

April 24, 2009

The Pony

In April 2009, the owners of Lansdowne Road in Hell's Kitchen opened up The Pony Bar, a bar dedicated to craft beers, on 10th Ave and 45th Street. No Budweiser or Coors on tap, but American craft beers from Ommegang, Victory, Left Hand, Captain Lawrence and Stone fill the menu.

Sandwiches will be on the menu as well (kitchen was not up and running when we stopped in). Pints are only $5 each. A few of the rare offerings that day, such as Stone's Double Bastard, were being served in 8 oz. pours. When we arrived in the early afternoon, they were already out of Harpoon's Leviathan Imperial IPA and a couple of other craft beers. We hope they keep the rotations going...new brews should make it a worthwhile trip to 10th Avenue!

First up, the Left Hand JuJu Ginger (on left)
Slight, subtle ginger, not too overpowering, more of a session or summer brew
Second course, the Left Hand Milk Stout (on right above)
Slight, foamy and creamy head, coffee accents and some sweeter taste than traditional stouts, good overall, light/short finish

Sierra Nevada Imperial Smoked Porter (above left)
Tastes like all other smoked porters, 'smoked'... not really our style but maybe we'll give the Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter a try next time if it is still on tap
Sixpoint Otis (above right)
Definitely tasted better as it opened up and warmed up... totally different experience from the quick tasting Sixpoint had from cask at the Bowery Whole Foods a few months back. Some coffee aroma, subdued malt, slight caramel taste, a smooth, integrated oatmeal stout.

Victory Hop Wallop (photo above)
If you like hops, try this, an aromatic seasonal offering from Victory (we are big fans of Victory's strong, big beers like the Storm King Imperial Stout)
Also, they let you start filling out a beer club card (be an All American), to rate and review your beer "tastings". Once you have rated 100 beers, a coveted Pony shirt is yours! Five down, only 95 more to go...cheers!

The Pony Bar is located at 637 10th Ave. at 45th Street

The Pony Bar on Urbanspoon

April 23, 2009

St. Helena Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Instant Margarita Pizza!

While we were in Napa, we took a break from our wine tasting and decided to go olive oil tasting instead. We checked out the St. Helena Olive Oil Company in Napa.

We loved the Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Just add it to plain pizza and instantly get a Margarita pizza...or simply dip your paninis and sandwiches in the oil for a touch of basil.

The Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil retails for $24 and is available online