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 2009 - NYC Trip 1

NYC Trip 1 (6/26-6/28)
At the end of June I had to fly to Chattanooga for work and stay through Friday. With a short weekend, I decided to fly back to Hartford and drive to NYC to visit Hewson and Celeste.

Thursday I got a text from Hewson asking if it was ok to have a dinner party on Saturday. Of course that was fine, but his next message was, "Tell us what you want and we'll make sure we get the ingredients for you." Apparently this dinner party would feature food from my own hands...

On Friday, after flying to Hartford I drove down to Brooklyn and arrived around 1AM after which we stayed up until 3 before I collapsed on their futon.

Saturday I woke up around noon and Hewson and I went to the city for some Ethiopian food. After that we went to Fairway Market to shop for the dinner party which was attended by Hewson's sister Maria, Celeste's childhood friend Antoinette and two of their other friends, Mike and Christine. For dinner I made fettuccini putanesca and farfalle with smoked salmon cream sauce while Celeste made strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Sunday we mostly chilled and played Wii before heading out for a pizza lunch and driving around Coney Island. After that we drove through Green Wood cemetery looking at the amazing mausoleums and tombs (apparently this was a nice way to spend your afternoons in the 70's or something). Also in the cemetery was Battle Hill, the site of the original battle for American independence from Britain.

4/5 50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2900
Rating: Chopsticks of Pleasure
A great place for a nice comfortable meal with a touch of molecular gastronomy and without the formal atmosphere of some fine dining establishments
After our afternoon, we went to Manhattan for dinner at WD-50. In terms of atmosphere, the restaurant has no dress code and allows walk-ins, giving it a nice comfortable feel. The tables actually have cutouts so the servers can stand by your table without blocking foot traffic. As a bonus, they had half price wines that night so (much to my surprise) we finished a bottle of a malbec and a rose.

Overall, I think the dinner was excellent (pics below). There were a couple dishes that were not that special, though there was some debate between us as to which ones they were. However, the final lamb entree was perfect and made the dinner worth it across the board. The two desserts after it were amazing as well. In the end, we were all quite happy, though the final bill did come out to $205 per person.

Pics are here
Posted 08/04/2009 09:04 PM in Dessert, Food, Pictures, Ramblings, Restaurants, Reviews, Travel | Total Comments: (11)
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    click for a larger image
Yummy Ethiopian food. Injera bread with Doro Wot chicken and combination plate.   View of the Statue of Liberty from Fairway Market   Classic windows behind Fairway Market   Tasty Sicilian pizza

Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs at Coney Island   Battle Hill at Green Wood Cemetary, the location of the first battle, the Battle of Long Island, in the war for independence from Britain   Memorial at Battle Hill   Minerva, goddess of wisdom, salutes the Statue of Liberty

Plaque describing Minerva   Plaque describing this site   Unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty (though that condo is awefully close to blocking it)   Huge weeping willow in Green Wood Cemetary

For dinner, Hewson, Celeste and I went to Wiley Dufresne's WD-50 which, despite the $125 tasting menu, has no dress code and accepts walk-ins. The restaurant known for it's molecular gastronomy, has an unassuming entrance that is easier to find by looking for Jenny's Unisex next door instead of the small neon sign.   Posted Menu   Inside the restaurant

A view into the very organized kitchen (reminds me of Charlie Trotter's)   Tasting Menu   Sesame Flatbread. Very thin and crispy, simple yet tasty, though at the end of the meal I wanted a little more variety

Everything Bagel, Smoked Salmon Threads, Crispy Cream Cheese - This bagel was actually made of ICE CREAM. I thought it was tasty and quite a surprise and the salmon, reminiscent of Taiwanese style shredded pork (some Americans call it hair) but with a wonderful smoked salmon flavor. Very creative and tasty. The crispy cream cheese didn't have much taste though.   Foi gras, Passion Fruit, Chinese Celery - A foie grois terrine garnished with curls of Chinese celery, slightly more mild than American celery. Cut it open and it oozed out sweet and tart passion fruis sauce. I'm not a fan of celery but this was tasty enough for me to eat it all. The one complaint is that the tart passion fruit overpowered the celery, which overpowered the foie gras. Tasty, but it could have been cheap pate or maybe even Spam and it would still taste primarily like passion fruit. I would have like the foie gras to stand out a tiny bit more.   Scrambled Egg Ravioli, Charred Avocado, Hamachi - the "ravioli" was basically scrambled egg wrapped in a cooked egg yolk "pasta". It was very tasty, but the scrambled egg was a bit grainy instead of smooth and fluffy. The avocado was a paste that has been torched, but wasn't particularly tasty. The hamachi was delicious on it's own, and the mini hash browns (a potato brunoise) were quite tasty.

Cold Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Ricotta, Tabasco, Caviar - The fried chicken was disappointing as the cooling process rendered the batter soggy. The Tabasco and caviar made it tasty, but the soggy skin just wasn't right. The ricotta made from buttermilk was delicious though.   Snails, Red Lentils, Juniper, Orange - The snails, flown in from Bordeaux, are an acquired taste. Compared to butter and garlic smothered escargot, these were kinda funny tasting (even odder than the ones I had in Crete). The snails didn't sit well with anyone at the table but I managed to finish mine mainly because the lentils were so well made, perfectly crunchy and tastey with a dash of orange flavor. I could barely detect any juniper   Duck Leg, Popcorn Pudding, Kalamansi, Lovage - This was a thin slice of a duck terrine, and the presentation was a bit disappointing to me. The duck was mild and tender, perhaps too mild. The popcorn pudding was a custard in the center of the plate with a barely discernable corn flavor. The Kalamansi, a citrus fruit was not very apparent (perhaps b/c we didn't know what it was) and the lovage, prepared as a small pile of greens were well cooked, though I can't remember the flavor (also possibly b/c we didn't know what it was). Unfortunately, nothing in this dish stood out and it ended up being quite forgettable.   Lamb Loin, Black Garlic Romesco, Pickled Ramp, Dried Soybeans - As a stark contrast to the duck, this dish was the absolute favorite of the table. The lamb was perfectly cooked, a wondefully mild yet distinctly lamb flavor, cooked to tender perfection. The black garlic romesco, a pastey sauce, was delicious and perfectly complemented the flavor of the lamb. The pickled ramp was not very apparent but the crunchy dried soybeans were wonderful and balanced the tenderness of the lamb.Celeste said that this dish alone made the entire dinner and I pretty much agree.

Vanilla Ice Cream, Balsamic, Raspberry - After the amazing lamb dish, I could have finished the meal quite happy, until this wonderful little treat came out. A little puck of ice cream filled with a to-die-for sweet, aged and reduced balsamic vinegar and topped with tangy raspberry powder. The tang from the raspberry mixed with the tart sweetness of the balsamic, were perfectly tempered by the creamy vanilla. I just wish there were more!   Hazelnut Tart, Coconut, Chocolate, Chicory - I've found that most tasting menus have one great dessert, one good dessert and one mediocre dessert. But WD-50 was the first in my memory to have two stellar desserts. The white powder on the right is the coconut which was an interesting concentrate of creamy flavor in a dry powder. The chicory foam was an interesting juxtaposition of a strong earthy flavor delivered by an ethereal foam. The chocolate hazelnut tart itself was deliciously smooth with the sweetness of the chocolate giving way to a caramelized pudding with a tender crust. Again, I wished there was more!

Caramelized Brioche, Apricot, Buttercream, Lemon Thyme - This was the ubiquitous "dessert that sounds better than it is." Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but when I heard caramelized brioche, my hopes were a little too high. The brioche was tender and buttery, but after the tart, which packed a caramelly wallop, this didn't have the dark mysterious flavors that I expected. The butter cream was good, but not as delicous as some butter cream frostings I've had. The little shards of apricot (think crispy fruit roll-ups) were delicious and the lemon thyme foam was tasty, but the brioche wasn't the star of the plate I expected.   Cocoa Packets, Chocolate Short Bread, Milk Ice Cream - This was a kind of odd dessert. The ice cream was rolled in the crumbled short bread which was quite nice; I always love ice cream rolled in something slightly crunch and crumbly (like those Chocolate Eclair popsicles) but the cocoa packets were weird. It was cocoa powder wrapped in some plastic-like edible chocolate wrapper, which had a vague resemblence to fruit roll-ups mixed with vinyl and not much flavor. I wasn't disappointed, but I didn't really like it either. This could have been omitted completely and I would neve have known. I think the raspberry ice cream dessert should have been the last.   Hewson's shirt wanted a sip of wine after dinner.   The Brooklyn Bridge (I think) on our way home after dinner.

Socko, one of Hewson and Celeste's cats            


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