Archive | February, 2013

Artisanal Merliance Tasting and Brunch

28 Feb

I love cheese.

Like really freakin’ love cheese.

And wine?

I love wine.

So wine and cheese?


I’m in.

But Merlot and I have not been good friends (and I swear I didn’t like it long before Sideways made it a faux pas).  But Lori (of the blog Stuff I Ate) has been singing the virtues of Long Island Merlots for quite some time. We went to a few wineries with her and I actually did like it more than I thought I would. I still would choose a Pinot Noir over a Merlot any day, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

So when she invited us to an event at the Artisanal Cheese Center (10th Ave between 36th and 37th) with the Merliance (Long Island Merlot Alliance), we decided to give it a try.

We didn’t know what to expect, but when we entered there were glasses in the back with  merlot and a table set with cheese. My favorite of which was the Epoisses (which I just realized is the same cheese that I enjoyed so much in our Colicchio and Sons dish). It was creamy and farmy and delicious. 

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We were not sure if that was the entirety of the event, but we were pleased when we were led into a room next door, poured 7 glasses of wine, and presented with a wheel of cheeses.

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Throughout the tasting, the different wine makers from each of the vineyards represented spoke about their wine and the cheese it went with. It was very interesting and educational.  

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And I was a model student and finished all of my wine and cheese. (Please notice the half full glasses of everyone in front of me… whoops!)

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While I can’t say I fell in love with Merlot, I obviously enjoyed every glass.  But I ESPECIALLY enjoyed the cheese. There was one in particular called Roomano that I could not get enough of. It is the best crystals of gruyere and parmesan combined with a rich and creaminess that I have never tasted before. I loved it so much that Mike surprised me with it as a present over the holidays and we pursued it each time we were back near Artisanal.

Speaking of…

When I was looking for a brunch location one Saturday after going to my dress fitting with my mother and sister (OMG! I’m getting married!!!), I noticed that Artisanal Bistro had an opening.  So off we went to 32nd Street, just off Park Ave.

There is a full retail Fromagerie in the back of the restaurant.


And a really nice atmosphere, keeping with their maroon and butter yellow brand identity.


They even use cheese wrap as the table cloths.


We started with a cheese plate including a truffle cheese (WOW!) and, my new favorite, Roomano.  


We asked them to bring out some nibbles to go with the cheese, so they brought out some quince paste and some walnuts in (really good) honey. It was all perfect and  a great start to the meal. All of us were doing the happy belly dance (yes… all 3 of us dance in our chairs when we like our food… I’m sure it is a sight to see!)


My sister got a salmon eggs benedict. She gobbled it all up, so I assume it was damn good.


My mom and I got the same dish, poached eggs over pork belly hash and sweet potatoes. It came with a chipotle hollandaise (that mom got).



And I got mine with regular hollandaise.  It was so good. A little crisp on the pork. Perfectly cooked eggs. It all went so well together and while the bowl was small, it was a perfect portion and I’m glad there wasn’t more or else I would have stuffed my maw far too much.


I am a big Artisanal fan, especially after these recent two experiences. How can you beat a restaurant that specializes in cheese?

I had been there for dinner in the past, and very much enjoyed their fondue, but I thought their brunch was even better. We also sat in the restaurant for hours and no one bothered us or pressured us to leave. Service was very good, for the most part, and everyone enjoyed everything they ate.

Yay for cheese!

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

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Colicchio and Sons Dining Room: Chef’s Seasonal Tasting Menu Revisited

26 Feb

As is our annual tradition, we went to a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner again this year. This time, it was Mike’s turn to come up with the location. He told me a few months before that he wanted to return to one of our favorites, to see if it could remain in the top.

So we set off on the Saturday after Valentine’s Day and the cab turned uptown, then west, then downtown. And suddenly I found myself in front of one of my all-time favorite places, Colicchio and Sons. We were returning to the dining room to try the Chef’s Seasonal Tasting Menu once again.  The last time we were there, it registered just behind our awesome meal at WD-50, and only barely. With the new reigning champ of Eleven Madison Park, it brought our last C&S Tasting meal down to spot #3 on the all-time best Noms of our lives list.

Could it hold on to this coveted Top 3 spot?

This time we went with the Tasting Menu but decided that the wine pairing might be overkill, so we started with cocktails before moving onto wine (and then dessert wine…)


We started with a trio for our amuse bouche.

A cauliflower puree on the left, a small jar of cucumber mousse in the center, and brussels sprouts with candied bacon on the right.

The tiny nibble of brussels sprout was perfect with the crisp of the candied bacon.

 And the little jar of cucumber with some roe was just perfect. A great way to start the meal.


 Then the famous Parker House rolls came out. They are buttery and soft and warm and sprinkled with salt. AKA heaven in bread form.


And then another little amuse bouche came out.   It was a hearts of palm puree with a dash of oil. While I think hearts of palm is fine in a salad, I have never thought of it as a main attraction. This was a great use of hearts of palm, however, and I really enjoyed it.




Our first course came and it was potato bavarois (which was like a whipped potato dome) with Hackeback caviar and vodka cream.  There were also homemade potato chips on the plate. This was perfect. Light and delicious with a great combination of flavors. The vodka was ever so subtle but added great depth. 


And the caviar inside was a great fishy taste without being too fishy.

There was nothing extra on this plate. Nothing that didn’t have to be there. And everything was perfectly balanced.


Our next course was Barolo spaghetti with coddled egg and guanciale. The pasta had a beautiful burgundy hue from cooking in the Barolo wine. The egg made for an amazing sauce (that was great to dip the Parker House rolls in) and the flavors of the sauce with the guanciale was perfect. Incredible pasta dish.


Our next course was a roasted scallop with hearts of palm and blood orange.  Wow. Again, hearts of palm at the center of the dish was very enjoyable. The scallop was perfectly cooked and just the slightest bit caramelized. And then the blood orange added a perfect sweet and tangy citrus to the scallop and hearts of palm.  Very, very good. 


Our next dish was a show stopper.  Duck breast with wheat berries, farro, and huckleberry jus.  Awesome. The duck breast was cooked to perfection with tons of flavor. The edge was spiced kind of like pastrami and the mushrooms (hen of the woods maybe?) were fantastic. And that huckleberry jus added the perfect touch of sweet. Yet another example of not an extra ingredient on the plate and everything coming together perfectly.  


Our final savory course was a 30-day dry-aged sirloin with butternut squash, salsify, and tuscan kale. The steak had a lovely char with just a touch of salty goodness.  It was aged and cooked perfectly and I even enjoyed the kale on this plate. 


Our first “sweet” course was the most perfect transition course. It was Époisses creme brulee with huckleberry and pecan-fennel shortbread.  I didn’t know what Époisses was, but our waiter described it as a very “barn yardy” cheese. A perfect description.  


They put just a touch of sugar on top to brulee it.


And inside was the most divine stinky, creamy, delicious cheese with huckleberry on the bottom.  The shortbread cookies with the fennel went perfectly with this and it really was the perfect segue from savory to sweet on the menu. I absolutely LOVED this dish. This was nearly as memorable and unique as the confit gizzard dish we had during the last tasting menu.


Our final tasting dish was a brown sugar cake with pineapple, macadamia nut, and milk chocolate ice cream.  Yup. This was fantastic. It had some strudel on the bottom and everything just went together with perfection.


The brown sugar cake looked simple but had a deep, rich flavor that was perfectly balanced by the pineapple.


And then out came the petit fours.


This was an almond nougat (very good).


And grapefruit jellies. Yum!


And then, as if they hadn’t already secured their place in my food heart, they sent us home with a corn muffin for the morning. (I’m such a sucker for this!)


By the end of the meal, both Mike and I were as impressed as the last time, if not more so.  From start to finish, this meal just continued to build and get better and better. I loved so many things and was constantly impressed by the perfect restraint and balance in each dish.  I have been recommending Colicchio and Sons to NYC visitors for a long time now, and I’m glad to see it lived up to all those expectations. We actually debated if this Tasting Menu beat out WD-50, but I argued that WD-50 slightly edged this out due to its cleverness and the entertainment factor. I’m pretty sure Mike was on the fence, and may have even voted for Colicchio and Sons over WD-50 if I hadn’t chimed in.

That, in and of itself, is impressive.

Total Nom Points: 9.5 out of 10


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Meatball Shop – Takeout

21 Feb

In honor of the newest location of The Meatball Shop opening in Chelsea (9th Ave and 22nd Street), I figured it time to blog about our quick takeout from the Greenwich Ave location.

We had just gotten out of a food event and somehow found ourselves still hungry and more than a little tipsy. When we realized that The Meatball Shop was right next door, we determined it was as good a time as any to finally try it. The wait was over an hour, but there is a takeout counter in the back. We had our Meatball Sandwiches in hand and were in a cab on our way home in less than 20 minutes. Not too shabby.

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We got home and opened up our box of goodies. Mike got something resembling a meatball parm.

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And I got one with a fried egg on top.

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The verdict?


It was fine. Okay. Passable. But it didn’t change my life. I’m not sure if it was because it was takeout or because we got the sandwich versions (which kind of reminded me of a regular burger, especially since the roll was so soft).

I guess I just need to hit up the new Chelsea location and check it out before I make my final assessment.