Tag Archives: hamachi

Surprise Birthday Dinner 2015: Gabriel Kreuther

28 Sep

Hello old friends!

I have taken quite the hiatus since Baby Nom Nom’s arrival. We have spent the last 17 weeks enjoying (almost) every moment with our son (even the tough, sleepless ones). A new baby is every bit as tough as I anticipated, and then some, but it’s every bit as wonderful as I had hoped (and then some!)

But even a new baby did not stop us from our annual tradition of surprise holiday restaurants. And Mike rertainly didn’t disappoint this year for my birthday when we walked into the new Gabriel Kreuther in the Grace Building by Bryant Park.


For the record, previous birthdays were amazing choices, too: Sushi Nakazawa (awesome), Brooklyn Fare (incredible), Jean Georges (underwhelming), Daniel (amazing meal and the best dessert I’ve ever had… which led me to the incredible Dominique Ansel), Le Bernardin (fantastic), and (two of our top meals of all time, and sadly now closed) WD-50.

The inside is a little bit rustic (with reclaimed wood beams that I loved), a little bit sleek, and a whole lot of beautiful storks.

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With a window into the kitchen (wish we had sat facing this!)IMG_6927

The silverware pieces and dishes were all just a little bit sassy.IMG_6827

Elegant but a little whimsical.


We ordered cocktails, and they were very good, though the one on the right was a (very expensive) truffle cocktail and sadly, as is the state with many things made with fresh truffles, just didn’t taste all that much like truffles.

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The bread came out with homemade butter and was warm and delicious.



We went for the tasting menu, which was chef’s choice but we could mention if there was anything special we wanted and they would “try to work it in.”  The one item that really caught our eye was the “Mangalitsa Lardo Poached Maine Lobster” so we mentioned this and turned ourselves over to the chef.

Then we had 3 amuse bouche (bouches?) in a row.  They were all great and started the meal off very well.

This was a hearts of palm panna cotta with fresno chile purée and celery jus.


(My version without the peppers).


Then a roasted tomatillo gelée with rosemary meringue and crispy pig ear.


Loved this.


This was an incredible couple of bites. A coffee cracker (these should exist in real life) with roasted corn and goat cheese mousse and some other little goodies.


Our first real course was “10 Days Cured Brandt Beef Tenderloin” with tartar, shemogue oyster vinaigrette, and horseradish.


This was hearty without being heavy and the pour over sauce added a lovely additional texture.IMG_6850

It all came together beautifully.


Then we had the compressed hamachi with black truffle, foie gras terrine, and celery.  The layers in this were very complimentary and while it could have been super rich, there were little tastes throughout that cut the richness nicely.


Then we had the burnt heirloom tomato with arugula juice, crystalized orange peels, and boquerones.


This looked like it belonged in a contemporary museum. It was simply gorgeous. And the parts were all tasty.  However… it didn’t quite come together. The sauce was a bit too acidic so it burned the back of the throat. So much potential but just not our favorite item of the night.IMG_6863

The next course came out under a cloche (I’m such a sucker for food under a cloche… though that could be because I have never had a bad dish that began under a cloche)IMG_6864

This was no exception. It was a sturgeon and sauerkraut tart with American caviar mousseline and applewood smoke. Oh man this was smoky heaven. More please!


At this point I think something went a bit wrong with the pacing. We had two bread courses in a row. But the bread was great (and beautiful), so I can’t complain!




And the second one came with lardo!


The next course was definitely worth waiting for. Sweetbread dumplings with summer corn purée and red currents. These were the most perfectly cooked sweetbreads I’ve ever had, and the dumpling was a fantastic blend of flavors.


Next up was the baked dorade royale with fennel seed-coriander broth and green tomato marmalade.  IMG_6880

Which was placed on top tableside and added a great acidic, slightly sweet compliment to this great dish.



Then it was time for the Mangalitsa Lardo poached Maine lobster with squid ink gnocchi, cockle ragoūt, baby artichoke, and jamón émulsion that we had been waiting for. We were super excited to get this dish, and it was great, but after all the other amazing dishes that night, this one actually falls to the bottom. All the ingredients are some of my favorite things, but they didn’t seem to compliment each other well nor stand up on their own. It was a lot of really great things that just kind of got muddled and lost. Bummer. But hey… when the lobster is on the bottom of the list… you know you are having a FANTASTIC meal.


We then had Shemogue Oyster with North Sea uni, smoked salmon sauce, and champagne gelee. It was fresh and delicious and tasted like the best parts of the sea.

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Next up we were shown a rack of lamb smoking under a small stack of hay. The smell was brain melting. IMG_6895 IMG_6897

This was all the right flavors, textures, and preparations. A fantastic dish and especially fantastic lamb.


And then they served us a hay broth in a cup to drink with it.  Heaven.


It was then time to move into dessert, but the palate cleanser was a super fresh, super bright strawberries with limoncello sorbet and lemongrass marshmallow.




They then served a very nice birthday surprise cake. It was a lovely treat and they wrapped it up and gave the rest to take home on our way out. (Which proved a very nice way to thank Grandma, our babysitter!)


This was entitled “Fantasy” on the menu they gave me to take home and is described as Chocolate Kirsch Amerna with Guanaja chantilly, olive oil chocolate sponge cake, and kirsch sorbet.


They even poured a chocolate sauce over the chocolate cone at the table.IMG_6911

This was definitely delicious, but it seemed a bit more about the artistry and less about the flavor. It was good but not great.


They then wheeled over a cart and made a café frappé with caramel cremeux and candied pecans. IMG_6916

This was really, really good, but we were so full by this time that we just couldn’t finish it.


And just when we thought we couldn’t fit one more bite, they brought over homemade chocolates and petits fours.


The chocolates were served in a cocoa pod. Very cool.


The one strange moment came on the check. We were charged supplements for both the lobster and the lamb. Supplements we were happy to pay, and so worth it, but unexpected. Yes, the lobster was our request, however, the lamb was chosen by the chef so it was a bit strange that the supplemental charge wasn’t mentioned upfront. It didn’t take away from the fact that both Mike and I left this meal raving about it though!

This was one of the most memorable, simply delicious meals we have had in a while. Each dish was prepared with precision, artistry, and attention to flavors and textures. Even the dishes we didn’t overly care for were still a huge step above most of the food we are privileged to eat in this city.

They also have a bar menu and an a la carte menu, and I cannot wait to go back and try more.

This is a great addition to the Bryant Park area.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10


New York City Wine & Food Festival: Grand Tasting 2013 Review

19 Oct

This was our fourth year attending the New York City Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting. (Here are the reviews from 2012 and 2011, sadly I didn’t post about 2010).

The last few years it has been on a pier near 14th Street, but this year it moved to Piers 92/94 at 55th Street. We were a bit worried because it has always been nicely organized in the past and you never know what might change.  Turns out, the organization was definitely more lacking this year than in years past.

You used to come through a park before going to the Grand Tasting, where you would get your swag bag (some years) but always got to grab a cup/bottle of Illy coffee (a reoccurring sponsor) to wait with on line.  This year, it was just the line.

We got the Fast Pass which meant we were the line that went in first.  We were inside the building by 12:10 (start time was noon) but then the cluster started.

They give you a bracelet to show you turned in your ticket and are legal to drink, and it comes with a drink and swag bag ticket.  The problem was, you enter right into that table and there is really no way to get there in an organized fashion. Everyone was just en mass to get everything and then once they got it, they couldn’t get out through the crowd.  Last year, you walked down the hallway and got your stuff on the way in, so it all flowed with the foot traffic. This year, not so much.


But once we were inside, it was smooth sailing.

When I looked at the map from Zagat that came out this past week, I was worried. It looked like many fewer tables than years prior.  But the space was actually a bit more spread out and I think the ceilings were higher and the skylights were new, giving it a bit of a nicer feel.


As we have found to be the best plan, we beelined for the very back of the pier and then worked our way forward. This allows us some time before the masses get too thick and we have the back of the area pretty much to ourselves.

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Throughout the pier, they have multiple sections with sampling and demonstrations.  The main demo area was right in the middle with a cute picket fence around it.




Throughout the day, the most empty area was the (big) Barilla takeover. Probably because they are homophobic pricks.  I used to eat Barilla. I will never again. I’m glad they wasted money on this.  OKAY… will stop ranting now…. back to the food.



Starting with the eats, I’ll first highlight our favorite bites.

Our number one bite of the day (and this was echoed throughout many people we talked to) was from High Road Creamery.

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This was absolutely awesome.  The buns were slightly sweet and warmed on the spot. The ricotta ice cream was very flavorful and the pistachio black pepper toffee on the outside was a great compliment both in taste and texture.  We went back to get more around 3:30pm (the Grand Tasting goes until 6pm) and they were all out.  Though I can’t blame them. They were so good.



Chefs Vanessa Palazio & Adam Schneider- Little Muenster: “Super Fancy Grilled Cheese” with braised beef cheek with cracked pepper marscapone, pickled fennel, old bay onion paste & muenster cheese on local peasant bread.

We LOVED this grilled cheese. One of the best I have ever had. Perfect balance of everything with a satisfying crunch of the bread (without being too sharp or too thick). Looks like we may need to head down to the LES or Brooklyn to get our hands on more Little Muenster!




Surprisingly, one of my favorite noms was from Celebrity Cruise Lines.  Squash soup with a really great grilled cheese.




Chef Kirk McKinny- Suite 36: Lilikoi (Passionfruit) Cured Hamachi with a salad of baby watercress, scallion, pineapple & Big Island macadamia nut. Finished with Sweet Yuzu & Hawaiian Chili Oil drizzle.

I had mine without chili oil, but I really enjoyed this combination of flavors and great hamachi. The macadamia nuts added a nice texture and taste to everything.  And I’m quite excited we found this place… it’s just a few blocks away from our apartment. We may try to go there for dinner tomorrow!



Chef Manuel Berganza- Andanada: Pulpo a la Gallego- Octopus seasoned with olive oil, pimiento de vera and served with mashed potato puree.  (I had mine without the paprika on top… see second photo).


This was scrumptious.  Perfectly cooked octopus and the potato foam on top was light and creamy. Great dish.


Chef Jeremy Leech- ReBar: Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese.

This was stupid good. It was just mac and cheese. Just AWESOME mac and cheese.


Chef Roxanne Spruance- Alison Eighteen: Lamb Bacon with maitake, crispy lentils, foie gras, walnut and concord grape.  This bacon was perfectly cooked and flavored and the little additions all went well with the bacon itself.




And here are most of the other things we nibbled:

Chef Arturo McLeod- Benjamin Steakhouse: Porterhouse Bites and Creamed Spinach with USDA Prime, dry aged porterhouse bites served with their signature “creamless” creamed spinach.

A very tender, simply prepared piece of meat.



Chef Sophia Lee- miss Korea BBQ: Korean marinated Kalbi


Chef Sara Moulton- Maple Leaf Farms: Peking Duck Wraps


Chef Lucas Billheimer- The Writing Room: Smoked Duck Rillette with apple butter and pickled squash on dark rye bread


Chef Miguel Trinidad- Maharlika Filipino Moderno: Pork Rib Adobo- National dish of the Philipines. Pork marinated in Filipino soy sauce, bawang, suka, and sili.


The Munchies is a “People’s Choice Food Award” and they had a selection from Hill Country Barbecue.  It was a piece of brisket with a really nice cucumber salad.  Very tender.


Executive Chef Jim Botsacos- Molyvos: Yiayia’s Meatballs (Keftedes) with rich tomato sauce, green crakced olives and whipped Mizithra.


Chef Kyle McClelland- Prospect: Butternut Squash Velouté with root beer cream and espresso marshmallows.


Chef Kenneth Johnson- Pescatore Restaurant: “Goat, Goat, Goat” with goat cheese gnudi with goat bolognese and shaved goat cheese.


Chef Carmine Di Giovanni- Greenwich Project: Kobocha Squash Panna Cotta with spice candied walnut crunch and pomegranante cider meringue. (Popped a bite in my mouth and realized that spiced meant peppers and peppers mean allergy for me. So my mouth peeled a bit and I had to toss the rest… damn)


Chef Patricio Sandoval- Mercadito: Tacos de Camaron with shrimp, roasted garlic, avocado, and chipotle mayo.  (Mike had, not me)


Chef Thomas Biglan- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Borgata Fried Chicken Slider with black pepper candied bacon, sundried tomato mayonnaise and micro greens.  This was actually awful. The only really bad bite of the day.  The chicken was cold and mushy, with no crisp on the fry.  I had one bite and tossed it.


Manon: Some sort of dessert with pear and a filling that tasted like pecan pie. (This was very good but they had no sign and soon ran out.)


Sea salt ice cream sundae from Graeter’s


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Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream in Spiced Pumpkin flavor. We wound up actually combining this with the fresh Crown maple syrup next door for a delightful treat.






Haagen-Dazs Gelato.  Very good sea salt caramel.



On the way to the Celebrity Chef demonstrations/talks, Cooking Channel was serving some awesome gourmet popcorn.  We tried the pizza and the miso caramel.

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Lovely Australian Lamb with cheese and tomato jam

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A piece of burger from Mater Purveyors, Inc. in the Bronx.


Certified Piedmont Beef with Italian Seasoned Roast Beef.



Olive oils from Spain



Bertoli Olive Oil Cranberry Pesto with Olive Oil


SooFoo original grain and lentil blend lemon kale salad (kind of bland… meh)DSCF2627


Pasta Chips tasted like crispy, dried pasta with dried seasonings resembling pasta dishes.  I really enjoyed these, especially the simple sea salt that let the pasta flavor shine through.


Brownie brittle was good as well.


I liked that the chocolate crisp. (Why aren’t there more crispy chocolate products out there?)




And what we drank:

We started our day in the back at one of our favorite wineries: Decoy. Great Napa and Sonoma wines.  Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of their lovely duck themed bottles.

VeeV Acai Spirits smartly served their sangria in a jar with a lid so we could carry it around and enjoy it throughout the day (especially when we were sitting in the chef talks)


The Chartreuse was a really interesting flavor. Very herbacious and floral.  Would be a great mixer. Will need to keep my eye out for this.


Mike saw Amarula and suggested I try it. Sure enough, a delicious creamy liqueur.


This was… weird.  Cheesecake wine? Probably not going to go anywhere beyond the “I’ll try anything once” mantra.


Nice bourbon

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And the Demos:  

One of the highlights of the Grand Tasting is the impressive roster of Celebrity Chefs who do demos and talks throughout the day.  This new location seemed smaller, and for the first time we were turned away from one (Rachael Ray) so we checked out some others.  Our first stop was watching Iron Chef Morimoto break down a HUGE Toro fish.




It was incredibly hard to hear because the other stage was way too close in this venue, but what we did hear was fun.  He even sang us a song at the end before flexing for the camera.


We caught the end of Chef Chuck Hughes (from Cooking Channel) and he was fun to watch.


Then Nadia G (from Bitchin Kitchen) came out to make the introduction…


…For Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli.


She made a crepe cake (and burned a number of crepes in good humor). The crepe cake looked like it was going to fall down, but she managed to get a slice out and it looked lovely.


I really loved watching this demo because there is something just so endearing about Chef Alex.   Really it was the audience questions that made the demo so good.  One person asked her how it felt when she won Iron Chef.  And her ego (whatever ego she actually has) just fell to the floor and she talked about how shocking it was and how proud she was about it.  She made some great jokes and then mentioned that the moment she saw the curtain drop and her picture up there she was so overwhelmed that she had to tell herself “Iron Chefs don’t cry!”




At the end of the demo, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri crashed.  They asked some silly audience questions and they somehow wound up having a conversation about chafing due to being naked under chef coats.  They were obviously trashed but having a great time.  Alex took it all in good humor.  It was a lovely moment between 3 people you can tell really like each other.


This year’s Grand Tasting was certainly better than last year’s in terms of the event itself.  Sure, the new location had some issues, especially the chaos at the beginning of grabbing glasses and bags and then the closeness of the stages, causing some issues hearing the demos.  But there were a LOT more food options so I left totally full and not overly drunk.  Last year was somewhat pathetic in the amount of food that was there, so I’m glad they redeemed themselves.

I was questioning coming back after last year, but I’m glad we did. We had a blast!



16 Aug

Mike told me he was taking me to WD~50 for my birthday dinner a few weeks ago.  I was quite excited, but also worried that it wouldn’t live up to its hype.  Well… it lived up to its hype… and THEN SOME!  WOW!

The front of the restaurant was so unassuming.  A small green awning on a brick building with a little neon wd50 sign in the corner.  It was in the Lower East Side on Clinton Street between Stanton and Rivington Streets. 

In the basement, by the bathrooms, was a wine cellar.  While I was there taking pictures, I was jokingly accused of “being a spy.”  Oh if only I could get past humble notions and think that some day, Wylie Dufresne would be worried that my blog would be some sort of threatening enterprise.

WD~50 was made top of mind famous (at least from my perspective) with Wylie’s appearance on Top Chef.  I had read many blogs, articles, and foodie fan write-ups of Wylie’s perspective on Molecular Gastronomy and his amazing food, however, it was really his appearance on Top Chef that amassed my guilty pleasure notion of wanting to try his restaurant.  I knew my boyfriend knew me well when he made reservations about a month in advance to take me to WD~50 for my birthday.  

We began with quite an offering… with the Tasting Menu order, there was a 50% discount on any bottle of wine.  While there was a wine pairing with the tasting menu, the waitress told us that the 50% discount was “quite a deal” so we went for it.  With a lot of help from the Sommelier and browsing through the vast menu (that had an odd pair of vertical lips below the cover of the menu), we selected a white and a red.

The white was the Malvasia ‘Selezione’ Edi Kante 2000: Friuli, Italy ~ malvasia
caramelized peach, white currant, floral ($105.00… aka $52.50 with the deal).  We chose it because the description from the someliere referred to it being made in a “cave” and reminded us of our favorite wine discovery, a Domaine du Viking Vouvray that described to us as being brewed by a crazy man only during full moons.   It was a GREAT selection and we thoroughly enjoyed it (though the smell was sour-ish, we loved the taste).

We chose the red early, even though we decided to wait until more than halfway through the meal for the more “hearty” dishes to start drinking it.  This wine was an absolutely incredible winner.  It was a Syrah ‘Kalen’s Big Boy Blend’ Eric Kent Wine Cellars 2006: Sonoma County, CA ~ syrah- roasted bramble fruit, fennel, cocoa powder ($125.00… aka $75 with the deal).  This ranked in the top 5 of wines I’ve ever had.  It was so flavorful and complemented anything salty (and probably would have complemented anything with red meat or tomato sauce).  It was a big wine, and we loved it.

We went with the tasting (because for a birthday dinner, it’s worth the big splurge) and it was $140 each… and COMPLETELY worth it.  The staff was incredibly accommodating, even to my allergy, and I was a little excited and star struck to see Wylie Dufesne in the visible kitchen, fully invested in the preparations that night. 

The meal was supposed to begin with Striped bass, peach, paprika, and sake lees, but I’m allergic to peppers (which is in paprika) so I had an amuse bouche of a mushroom broth with some form of yam or sweet potato and celery (the details are fuzzy after the two bottles of wine).  It was quite good.

Mike had the correct starter, and thought it was delicious.  I trust his opinion, and was quite jealous of the fish + peaches.

Next up was the Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese.  What we didn’t know from the menu, however, was that the “everything bagel” was really ice cream.  It was a standout dish of the night.  The dish came together so well and all the flavors just blended in a great way.  The ice cream was an exciting surprise and I did not want the dish to end.

Next up was the Foie gras, passionfruit, chinese celery.  The surprise here was that the foie gras was actually stuffed with passionfruit, so as you cut it open it just oozed deliciousness.  It was fantastic, although I expected the foie gras to have a bit more flavor (though the passion fruit was AM.AZ.ING.)

I was excited upon reading the next dish: Scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado, hamachi.  A quick iPhone look up told us that hamachi was fish typically used in sushi.  It was AMAZING fish.  The scrambled egg ravioli was actually entirely made of egg (outside and in) and the charred avocado was the second best avocado I’ve ever had (after the Fishtail octopus app I had just this past week).  Mike absolutely LOVED this dish.  I thought it was great, but I preferred the previous tasting of the “everything bagel” with “smoked salmon.’

The next dish was something I also had to have substituted.  The dish on the tasting menu was Cold fried chicken, buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco, caviar.  The tabasco was the problem here.  So instead I was served smoked eel with some sort of homemade tofu that was incredible.  I’m not sure what the thinly sliced veggie was on top (perhaps some sort of turnip) but I wasn’t a huge fan.  The rest of the dish, however, was amazing.

Mike received the fried chicken and said it was amazing though spicy.  I tried the buttermilk ricotta with caviar (since it was safe) and though it was absolutely great.

Next up was Crab tail, kohlrabi, ‘dirty’ grape, cocoa nib.  This was an absolutely fascinating dish for me.  It was “spicy” without having peppers.  When I inquired, I was told that it was the “angel food cake” (the spongy looking things on either side) that had some sort of black or green (?) pepper in it.  I was shocked that I enjoyed it so much without having a reaction, and was pleased as punch that I could taste “spice” for pretty much the first time ever.  The rest of the dish was great, though not quite what I’d expect from crab.  I was just so taken aback by the spice without allergy thing that I couldn’t stop gabbing about this plate.

Our next treat was Duck leg, popcorn pudding, kalamansi, lovage.  Now it’s very hard to pick a least favorite dish, but this may have been mine.  It had all the workings of a best of (I love duck, popcorn, and according to our iPhones kalamansi is a fruit from the Phillippines and lovage is a spice that is a cousin to celery), however, it somehow fell short.  It was great, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t quite have the “wow” factor of the other dishes.  I think that the lovage may have been the ehh-ehh part for me personally.

The next dish sounded amazing, and I was a bit bummed that I was given a substitute.  My dish, however, was probably the best “entree” of the night: Wagyu skirt steak, long bean, tamarind, peanut butter ‘pasta’.  The peanut sauce was incredible, and the beef just tasted perfect. 

Mike got what was originally on the tasting menu: Lamb loin, black garlic romesco, pickled ramps, dried soybean.  Turns out it was the dried soybean that I was allergic too (I think), however, it wasn’t quite enough to give me a complete allergic reaction, so I got the chance to sample a wee bite.  It was really good, but not Wagyu beef with peanut sauce good.

The epic dessert journey began with vanilla ice cream that was filled with balsamic (the best I’ve EVER had) and raspberry.  This tiny dish with few ingredients tasted like a complete tart in my mouth.  I do not know what they did, but it was one of the most satisfying bites of food I’ve EVER had.

The next dessert was Hazelnut tart, coconut, chocolate, chicory.  I think the foam was chicory, though I’m not sure.  Whatever it was, it was sensational.  In fact, the entire thing was.  So many textures and flavors. My favorite dessert of the night. (Which is hard to say since all the choices were so amazing!)

Up next was Carmelized brioche, apricot, buttercream, lemon thyme.  I honestly cannot tell you what I was eating, but I enjoyed it to the utmost degree.  The “sorbet” like portion (I’m guessing lemon thyme) was so-so, but the carmelized brioche looked like a scallop and tasted like heaven.

We (sadly) ended our adventure with Cocoa packets, chocolate shortbread, milk ice cream.  This was definitely one of the more confusing descriptions. We actually had to ask the waitress her advice on how to eat this. Turns out it was “milk” ice cream balls that were rolled in chocolate shortbread.  It tasted like the best oreo I have ever had.   Our waitress advised to save the “packets” for last and turns out, you can eat the outside AND the inside.  It was a chocolate explosion in my mouth.  It left me so happy and so satisfied (without any aftertaste) that I just was in complete bliss as the meal ended.

I’ve had a lot of great meals in NYC and, as much as it is hard for me to say, this was the best.  There were little surprises along the way and everything just had phenomenal flavor. Combined with the amazing wine, it was beyond a great meal… it was an experience that I will not soon forget. What a birthday dinner!  Every single course left us thinking “WOW!”  It takes a lot to make me say “wow” even once, let alone with every single new bite.  I was impressed.  Very impressed.

Total Nom Points: 9.5 out of 10