Tag Archives: pasta

Dining at Girl & the Goat

A few months ago I was in Chicago for a work conference and I had the most incredible and wonderful dining experience at Girl & the Goat. Stephanie Izard, the owner of the restaurant won “Top Chef!” For our team dinner, we had our own private room downstairs. The room where we dined was lovely and rustic, featuring a beautiful setting on a wood table with candles and a plant in the center.

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We met Gary, our go-to server for the evening and he was awesome. He knew the menu well, listened and tended to our dietary needs, and was completely gracious throughout the night.

I asked if any of the amazing-sounding cocktails could be made without alcohol and so I got The Royal Rubus that way. It was citrusy soda with lemon bitters, blackberry and lime. It came in a brilliant raspberry red and was very tasty and refreshing.

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The meal started off with an assortment of breads: One sourdough with little pieces of ham in it, which was okay. I didn’t have a ton of flavor but I liked the green peas and ham that came with it. There was also muffin top bread, which was nicely moist and it came with yummy seasoned butter.

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Next we had “Fried Naked Cowboys” which were fried oysters with egg salad on the bottom. These came in cute little spoons and one bite form. Even though I’m not a huge fan of oysters, it was quite good fried and the sauce on top worked well with it.

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Then there was salad which consisted of fennel, evalon cheese, toasted almonds and blueberries. This was nice and I especially liked the cheese, which was a sweet goat cheese with fruity and nutty finish. It added an additional layer of delightful flavor to the salad.

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The goat empanadas were one of my favorite dishes. It had strawberry, white asparagus with it and smashed avocado underneath. The empanadas were perfectly crispy and the goat meat was so very flavorful and melted in my mouth!

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We also had green garlic pierogis which was decent, but I didn’t taste a strong garlic taste. The filling was like mashed potatoes.

The vegetables we had were cauliflower, broccoli and string beans. The cauliflower dish had pickled peppers, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. It was slightly crispy and had a nice burst of flavor. The broccoli had little crisps and the green beans had yummy cashews!

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The entrees were pasta, fish and pork shank. The pasta was spiral with tons of appetizing beef, which was wonderfully juicy and incredibly savory. There were also little orange tomatoes and tomatoes on top that were fresh and flavorful. We also had wild striped bass in a coconut green curry, new potatoes and artichokes. I enjoyed this dish, especially the slightly charred skin on the fish.

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Last, was the crisp braised pork shank with naan and the following dipping sauces: Grilled spring onion kimchi and buttermilk dressing. The pork was so wonderful and tender!  I loved the crunchiness of it.

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After all that, there were 5 different types of desserts. My absolute favorite was vanilla gelato with chocolate shell, caramel sauce and caramel popcorn. This dessert was truly delectable and so decadent. I could have a whole bowl of it if I wasn’t already so stuffed.

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My second favorite dessert was balls of coated gelato with peanut butter inside and candied peanuts.

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There was also a tres leches cake with strawberry and some pudding, as well as fruity sorbet. It was a nice, light and yummy treat.

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Then there was a pudding-like dessert with a blend of pure toffee pieces, expresso and vanilla. The last dessert was different and interesting. It consisted of gelatin, blueberries and pieces of meringue.

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Each dish from appetizer, to entree, to dessert was well thought out and unique in a good way. All of the food exceeded my expectations and was mouthwateringly delicious! The service was impeccable. Everything came together seamlessly. This is absolutely one of the best dinners I have ever had!

Girl & The Goat
809 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL

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Celebrating at Sugar Factory

Sugar Factory is a fun, club-like, happening, beautifully and festively decorated restaurant hot spot in the trendy Meatpacking District. I came here to celebrate my belated birthday in NYC, with some of my closest friends.

 

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The menu is a hefty book with tons of cocktail drinks (which can be made non alcoholic), milkshakes, food and dessert options.

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I knew that I wanted a milkshake, which are expensive at $10, but really huge. I made a few of my friends order a milkshake as well, so was able to taste 4 different types. Here is what I thought, listed in order of favorite to least favorite.

1. Fluffier Nutter is the milkshake I chose and consisted of vanilla soft serve ice cream base, with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, marshmallows, topped with whipped cream and peanut butter cups. I was able to taste the peanut butter well, but wish there was more of a distinct marshmallow flavor. Also, it came topped with Reeses M&M’s, not peanut butter cups.

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2. Make A Wish, was also made with vanilla soft serve, made with yellow cake, sprinkles and a cute little birthday candle, which I wished upon and blew out. This milkshake was deliciously sweet and the cake was perfectly moist and tasty.

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3. Chocolate Cookie Jar had vanilla soft serve, oreo, chocolate chips, caramel and chocolate sauces. This tasted just like Cookies & Cream and was very yummy.

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4. Memory Lane was vanilla soft serve, blended with hot fudge, marshmallows, chocolate fudge and waffle cone pieces. When I tried it, it was actually pretty bland… I couldn’t really discern the flavors clearly and definitely did not taste a lot of hot fudge or marshmallows, so this milkshake flavor was a disappointment.

For my entree, I ordered the Mediterranean Chicken Pappardelle pasta dish, which included sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, fresh herbs and a lemony sauce made with  olive oil and roasted garlic, along with toasted thin slice of bread with garlic taste on it (I wouldn’t really call it garlic bread even though it calls it that on the menu). I liked my meal for the most part, but I thought the sauce was too oily. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente though and the chicken was nice and flavorful, going well with the artichoke, pine nuts and I enjoyed the plethora of parmesan cheese.

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When we were all finished, the servers came out with a seriously massive ice cream sundae with 2 sparklers in it and they all sang Happy Birthday to me! The sundae was beautifully presented with whipped cream, colorful sprinkles, sugar cones, 2 lollipops and the sizzling sparkling sparklers were a perfect touch! This sundae was the World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae, which had cookies & cream, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla ice cream flavors, as well as rice crispy treat pieces, pretzels, gummy bears, strawberries, blueberries and chocolate sauce. It also come with a comically big spoon. The servers handed out separate bowls for everyone and we started to dig in… It was delicious! I especially enjoyed the rice crispy treats and gummy bears. This amazing sundae concoction actually costs $99 for 12 people and the restaurant gave it to us without charge! Such a generous and wonderful gesture on their part… This definitely made up for having to wait a bit to be seated!

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This was the perfect place to celebrate my belated birthday dinner… I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and it seemed like most of my friends were having a ton of fun as well.

 

Sugar Factory
835 Washington St
New York, NY

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RW Lunch: i Trulli

i Trulli is a lovely and charming Italian restaurant with a gorgeous outdoor garden in the back, where a friend and I enjoyed our Restaurant Week lunch meal.

i trulli_meFirst we were given water and our glass was always full. Then the waiter brought out a small basket of bread: There were 2 different types. One was foccaccia like with sun-dried tomato, fennel, rosemary and other seasoning. The other was rustic brown bread. It came with nice fluffy and creamy butter.

i trulli_breadI had the baby calzones for my appetizer. One had cheese and tomato filling, while the other was sausage and broccoli rabe. I think I liked the cheesy one better. There wasn’t enough of the filling in the other calzone.

i trulli_appsFor my main course, I chose the “straw and hay” pasta dish, Paglia e Fieno, which came with peas, pancetta (lots of it, to my delight) and cream sauce. It was truly delicious! The pasta itself were long strips of golden yellow and green colors and cooked to perfection. The peas were fresh and wonderful, the pancetta was incredibly flavorful with just the right amount of salt, slightly crispy with tons of great seasoning. It tasted amazing. The dish also came with lots of Parmesan cheese. It was very rich and filling.

i trulli_pastaMy friend had the Pork Scaloppini which was pork medallions with bread salad of tomatoes, onion and cucumber. The presentation was really nice and I loved that it was so colorful, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pork. It didn’t taste all that flavorful to me and was a bit too chewy. The salad was pretty tasty though.

i trulli_porkchopDessert was Torta di Cioccolato, chocolate cake with a scoop of coconut sorbetti. When we were first served dessert, my friend and I felt that the portion size was quite small, but it still satisfied us. The cake, however, was more like a mini brownie with chocolate drizzled on top. The ice cream was in a perfect small ball and there was toffee peanut brittle underneath it. I enjoyed the cake which was chocolate-y, moist and slightly sweet, while the coconut sorbetti was refreshing and light.

i trulli_dessertI really enjoyed the meal, atmosphere and attentive service at i Trulli.

i trulli

i Trulli
124 E 27 St
New York, NY

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Winter Restaurant Week 2014

Winter Restaurant Week has now passed, but here is a  sampling of restaurants I tried this time around. Let’s begin with lunches…

City Lobster

City Lobster

Appetizer: Lettuce wedge salad, complete with cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy onions, bacon, and bleu cheese. Even though I’m not a huge fan of ice berg lettuce, I really liked the toppings.
Main:
Fish and Chips were great. The cod was extremely flaky and I would have liked slightly more crispy but the French fries were spot on.
Dessert:
Profiteroles (large cream puffs) with coffee ice cream and chocolate on top. This was delectable. The coffee ice cream inside complements the full sweet chocolate flavor.
Service: Good.
Location:
City Lobster
121 W 49 St
New York, NY

Craftbar

Craftbar

Appetizer: The warm pecorino fondue w/ acacia honey, hazelnuts & pepperoncini, as well as 4 long pieces of crostini, was out of this world amazing— I love the creamy taste of the thick pecorino cheese. The honey and pine nuts worked well with the cheese, while the crunchy crostinis were the perfect accompaniment.
Main:
Lumache Pasta Bolognese. The pasta was cooked al dente and the ragu with the sauce worked together beautifully. I would have liked a little more cheese on it, but overall was a solid choice.
Dessert:
Chocolate peanut butter pie with honey roasted peanuts was yummy. It was light, and had chocolate mousse as well as slight peanut butter flavor. The honey roasted peanuts added a layer of deliciousness.
Service: Very competent and friendly wait staff.
Location:
Craftbar
900 Broadway
New York, NY

Now, onto the dinners!

Rayuela

Rayuela

Starter: Cheesy bread was amazing. We were only given one piece, but I definitely could have had many more.
Appetizer: Garlic shrimp with foccacia bread. The garlic shrimp was extremely flavorful but had some specks of hot pepper so was a bit spicy. The foccacia bread was disappointing, as it seemed to be just regular bread.
Main: Salmon with butternut squash and brussel sprouts was good. The sauce was enjoyable and I liked the crispness of the salmon.
Dessert: Bread pudding with caramel sauce and bananas were okay. It wasn’t bread pudding in the traditional sense, but the pieces were still quite moist and I liked the sauce.
Service: Pretty good
Location:
Rayuela
165 Alllen St
New York, NY

L'Ecole

L’Ecole

Appetizer: Spinach fettuccine with braised duck leg ragu made with tomato jam and carrots. This was well done- Wonderful pasta with plenty of meat.
Main: Braised pork osso buco with risotto Milanese and gremolata was mouthwateringly good. The risotto had a robust flavor and the pork osso buco was perfectly tender and came off the bone easily.
Dessert: Chocolate with apple crisp was light and delightful.
Service: Attentive and thoughtful
Location:
L’Ecole
462 Broadway
New York, NY

Brasserie 8 1/2

Brasserie 8 1/2

Amuse-bouche: Chestnut soup had a nice flavor to it.
Appetizer: Consommé de Boeuf – Short Rib Consommé, Ravioli, Parsnips, Black Truffles
Side: French fries were so good, with just the right amount of crunch.
Main: Filet Mignon – Petit Filet, Potato Croquettes, Espelette Pepper Bearnaise
At first, my filet mignon did not come with the potato croquettes but they made up for it by giving me an extra one. The petit filet itself was delicious enough on its own… Perfectly tender, flavorful, but would have liked more of the sauce. The potato croquettes were decent, but I preferred the French fries.
Dessert: I was able to try both.

The tarte au citron (Meyer Lemon Tart) was pretty good. There was a strong lemon flavor and it was both tangy and sweet. I enjoyed the crust, however did not discern the taste of thyme scented honey and the crème fraiche was tasteless.

Macaron – Vanilla Macaron, Valhrona Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Ice Cream
I enjoyed the macaron more. The French Macaron was large, dusted with powdered sugar and had the perfect consistency and chewy texture. The Valhrona chocolate ganache was rich, creamy, delicious. The hazelnut ice cream was very tasty as well.

Service: Not the best and had a long wait time in receiving our meals. We received a plate of mini treats to make up for it: Sea salt caramel macarons, raspberry cookies, biscotti and mini chocolate chip cookies. All of the sweet treats were wonderful, especially the macaron and chocolate chip cookie.
Location:
Brasserie 8 1/2
9 West 57 St
New York, NY

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Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

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I recently received a gift card to Otto Enoteca Pizzeria (thank you, Chris!), one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. “Otto Enoteca Pizzeria is modeled after an Italian train station and located on 8th Street, in the historic One Fifth Avenue building,” … at the edge of Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village. Upon being seated, we were given a large, thick piece of bread wrapped in white paper and a packet of long bread sticks. The bread was decent, but would have been nice to have butter or olive oil and vinegar.

It was tough choosing between Spaghetti Alla Carbonara and one of the pasta specials, which contained radicchio, pancetta and gorgonzola. My friend and I ended up sharing, so I was able to have the best of both worlds.

The pasta special was pretty good. The radicchio (leafy purple-ish vegetable with a slightly bitter taste) was a bit wilted but I liked the pancetta. The gorgonzola was overpowering though. Overall, this dish was a bit too rich for me.

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I liked the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara better, which had pancetta, scallions, black pepper, and egg. The pasta was cooked al dente, there was just enough black pepper (and salt), the pancetta added a lot of delicious flavor, but I couldn’t really discern the taste of egg and the consistency was a little gummy.

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Then, of course I had to get dessert! I’ve had the Olive Oil Coppetta before and it is incredibly delicious, but wanted to try something different so went for the Parfait Carotina, which is described as “carrot & cashew cake, cardamom orange caramel, ricotta crema, cashew brittle, carrot orange marmelatta, cardamom orange gelato.” It was completely different from what I was expecting… There were grated carrots on top of the cake and the gelato didn’t have a strong flavor of either cardamom or orange, though I did like the cashew brittle. The flavors were ultimately not pleasant enough for me enjoy, so I switched my order to the Black & White, which did not disappoint.

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The Black & White was truly delectable. It was a beautiful concoction of milk chocolate chip gelato + chocolate sauce (the Black), crème fraiche gelato (the White), and hazelnut croccante, topped with caramel crema and a crispy waffle wedge. While the caramel crema had a delightful light flavor of caramel, it was too much to eat just by itself. However, when combined with the rest of the dessert, it added an extra layer of deliciousness. The crème fraiche was light, fresh, divine and the milk chocolate (with actual bits of pure chocolate) was rich, creamy, wonderful, while the sugary crispy hazelnut brittle added a satisfying sweet crunch.

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It is a testament to the quality of this restaurant that I’ve come back to dine here several times. Also, the service is quite good and the prices are affordable.

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Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

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Homemade Italian Dinner

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Tonight, I had a chance to help make a delicious, simple Italian dinner with a friend from Italy! We started with preparing and cutting the vegetable: Butternut squash, pumpkin, onions, tomatoes.

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I took upon the task of cutting the prosciutto into tiny cubes – Something I took great pride in doing well. The prosciutto was then cooked in simmering oil.

DSCN6257Next, I started taking the butternut squash slices, coating them in egg batter then loose bread crumbs…

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The squash was then dropped into a small pot of boiling oil so that they could be fried until they turned golden brown. It tasted wonderful — The fried squash was tender, fresh, slightly sweet with a satisfying crunchy exterior.

DSCN6262My friend also prepared bruschetta: Cut up bread that was warmed up in the oven paired with diced tomato, onion and fresh basil leaves. While I loved the taste of basil, I would’ve liked a little more flavor to the sauce- Perhaps some more garlic, olive oil and vinegar.

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The main course was pasta cooked perfectly al dente, filled with pumpkin and prosciutto and tasted absolutely delightful. Each bite was a burst of wonderful flavor, even without it being doused with sauce… I loved that the pasta was flavorful enough on its own, cooked in the juices of prosciutto and olive oil.

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We ended the meal with some mashed pumpkin with onion. It had an enjoyable and unique taste to it. I had a great time learning how to prepare some classic Italian dishes and of course, eating our creations!

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Easter Lunch

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A friend of mine invited me to Easter lunch at her friend’s apartment, and it was a lovely time with tons of great food and conversation. We had ham, greens, well-flavored scalloped potatoes, delicious mashed sweet potato, seasoned orzo, tasty garden vegetables (onion, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers), wonderfully savory pasta and perfectly cooked asparagus.

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I filled my plate with a bit of everything:

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For dessert there was fruit, whipped cream cake concoction with berries, sweet apple strudel pastry,  cookies and brownies, as well as specially brewed coffee from Haiti. Needless to say, we were stuffed after our Easter Lunch.

To further commemorate the occasion, we started to watch the first story in The History Channel’s “The Bible.” It was amazing how realistic it was, and how intense, poignant and emotional the scenes were — They really pull the viewer in.

Though Easter has come and gone, the reason for the holiday celebration is still here…

easter

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