Santina and High Street on Hudson

May 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

From a while back: dinner at Santina, right next to the Whitney Museum and the High Line, with Cahill folks and then two separate visits to hit bakery/restaurant High Street on Hudson for dinner and breakfast. Completely different restaurants but great experiences at both (Santina was surprising since I think the Torrisi restaurants tend to be over-priced and too hip for me and generally avoid them).

At Santina, we sat in the atrium outside under heat lamps, which was actually nice and almost felt as if we were outside in the middle of winter. We started with squash carpaccio with honey agrodolce – my favorite dish of the nice and completely new. The squash was thinly sliced and tasted almost as if it was bruleed, a wonderful mix of textures and savory against sweet.

Cecina pancakes with lamb tartare, green olive and aioli.

Family-style mains – rice of guanciale e pepe, spaghetti with blue crab with tomato and chili, lobster catalan with garlic and anchovy butter, grilled lamb chops, spicy fried potatoes. The rice was underwhelming and didn’t pack as much flavor as one would hope but the spaghetti stood out with its bright and briny notes. In the end, I was happy to try Santina but don’t think I would ever choose to go again given all the great restaurants constantly popping up in the neighborhood (as well as all of my time-tested favorites).

Turning to a totally different restaurant – High Street on Hudson. The original location is in Philly and ever since the owners announced that they were opening a NYC version, it’s gotten a lot of press and well-deserved love. Artemis, Cindy and I went for dinner during the week not too long after they opened and it was packed. We started with an addictive dark bread called vollkornbrot with creamy charred rutabaga hummus and long hot chermoula and black sesame oil and perfect, crispy fried razor clams with habanero buttermilk, which made me wish for summer.

Next, another (and in my opinion, superior) lamb tartare with burnt celery root, sunflower, cultured cashew and malted rye and tripe diavola with sunchoke and grilled cucumber (kind of an oddly textured element that I wasn’t crazy for). Both absolutely gorgeous on the plate and wolfed down within seconds.

Highlights of the meal were the main courses of seawood bucatini with njuda, lobster bottarga and breadcrumbs and Happy Valley beef with sweet potato and fermented broccoli. Stellar examples of dishes from the earth and sea…I was in such a happy place by the time our dinner came to a close.

And for good measure, Cindy and I went back to High Street not long after for breakfast to try their super-hyped sandwiches and they did not disappoint. We got the bread basket (so ambitious), the bodega sandwich of malted breakfast sausage, egg and aged cheddar on a giant sage-black pepper biscuit about the size of my head and old bay fried potatoes that I kept popping into my mouth even after I felt completely stuffed. I don’t think I ate another meal for the rest of the day but it was completely worth it.

Brunch at Dell’ Anima

June 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

A couple weekends ago, I met up with two family friends at Dell’ Anima, a jewel box of an Italian restaurant in the West Village. The place was tiny but we managed to beat the brunch rush and took our time catching up and enjoying some refined, yet down to earth breakfast favorites with an Italian twist.

Below we have the pappardelle integrale – with oyster mushrooms, scallions, and pecorino romano – and the uova in purgatorio – baked eggs with pancetta, shallots, rosemary and tomato, which both earned raves.

And because I can never resist any version of shrimp and grits, I ordered the gamberi alla amatricciana, shrimp and polenta with pancetta, spicy tomato sauce, and poached eggs. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, well seasoned and tender, and the polenta was flavorful and creamy. The two poached eggs and heavy sprinkling of cheese were the ideal oozy, golden finish and when mixed with the spicy tomato, shrimp sauce, and polenta, created the perfect combination of savoriness, cheese, acid and sweetness.

So if you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate brunch place that takes a well-executed Italian approach, Dell’ Anima does a fine job.

 

Dell’ Anima
38 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10014
212.366.6633

Northeast Kingdom

June 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Shots from brunch at Northeast Kingdom in Bushwick, Brooklyn from a while back. My creamy and comforting shrimp and grits (shrimp, two poached eggs, fiery tomato sauce that wasn’t that fiery, Anson Mill grits and scallions)…

Shrimp and grits

…and W’s hearty-looking buttermilk biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs

Biscuits and gravy

Northeast Kingdom
18 Wyckoff Avenue
New York, NY
718.386.3864

Alice’s Tea Cup

December 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

Christmas is the time for kitsch. Laura and I celebrated the end of her first round of college finals by embracing everything cute and corny at Alice’s Tea Cup, where the food and ambiance come together to create a really enjoyable and relaxing experience. The restaurant/tea shop itself is excessively decorated and eye-poppingly colorful, especially in the storefront area, but the actual dining room is more toned down, with old wooden spinning tables (machines removed of course) and mismatched tea settings which add to the place’s charm.

Alice's Tea Cup

We started with a pot of Alice’s Tea, their custom blend of Indian black Vanilla with Japanese green tea and rose petals, which was “smooth and subtle.”

Alice's Tea

Laura indulged in some of their Scones Benedict, with two poached eggs over a split savory scone healthily smothered in rich rosemary hollandaise sauce and served with a side of crispy potato hash. As soon as she broke into that first gooey, golden yolk, we knew we were in the right place for breakfast.

Our breakfast spread

Scones Benedict

But nothing, not even potatoes and yolky eggs, could deter me from the enormous lemon poppyseed glazed scone served with raspberry preserves and clotted cream. It was one of those moments where something so seemingly simple turns out to be so frikkin’ amazing. I spent most of breakfast just focusing on the scone (which is big enough to be breakfast in itself) and pretty much ignored my very good cornmeal and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

Lemon poppyseed scone with raspberry preserves and clotted cream

Cornmeal pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup

So buttery and flaky, the tart lemon tasted so delicious against the thick, dreamy cream and sweet, fruity preserves, and it was a perfect accompaniment to the hot, only slightly bitter tea. It was hard to walk pass the pastry counter on the way out without getting some more scones to go, and I was still dreaming about them this morning. Next time, I think I might just get their small pot of tea and 2 scones for $10 and spend all morning eating crumbly bite after crumbly bite.

Pastries and scones

Alice’s Tea Cup
102 West 73rd Street
New York, NY
212.799.3006
http://alicesteacup.com/

Pumpkin spice granola

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes, a shortage of ingredients and a bit of flexibility results in a pleasant surprise. A couple weeks ago, I was looking through the pantry trying to find ground cinnamon and vanilla extract to make basic granola, only to realize that I’d left it all at my parents’ house in NJ.

Pumpkin spice granola

It was probably more laziness than (I like to think) creativity, but instead of running to the store to buy some more, I just used some extra pumpkin spice, almond extract, and olive oil (since I also didn’t have the canola oil I typically use) as substitutes.

And I have to say that I might never go back to the original recipe. That same week, temperatures reached below 50 F in Ithaca, so having breakfast with some spice was the perfect way to wake up in the morning. This granola still had all of the things I love – a healthy amount of salt to balance the sweet, large and textured clumps of oats, and the crunch of walnuts – but became so much more with just a few modifications.

Just goes to show that sloth isn’t always a sin.

Pumpkin Spice Granola 

This recipe lasts about 1 – 1 1/2 weeks for one person. Store in an airtight container.

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (I used slightly less since I like my granola to be less sweet)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup walnuts (I like to add more)
1/2 cup dark raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Mix the rolled oats, salt, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl. Pour onto a foiled baking sheet and spread in one even layer.

Mix honey, brown sugar, olive oil, and almond extract in a small bowl. Microwave for about 20 seconds (don’t have to do this but I find it softens the sugar and makes whisking a bit easier) and then whisk until everything is thoroughly blended. Pour honey mixture over the oats mixture in the baking sheet and mix thoroughly so all the oats are evenly coated. If you like a clumpy granola, gather some of the mixture in your hand and make a fist so you get some clumps.

Bake for 10 minutes. Take out, stir granola, and add the walnuts. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and toasted in color. Take out of the oven and stir in raisins, if using. Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Do-it-yourself granola

April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another unloading-the-pantry recipe. Yogurt and granola always sounds like such a healthy combination, but in undergrad, yogurt for me meant sugary, strawberry goop from the dining hall and granola meant even sweeter crushed Nature Valley bars. No doubt having giant bowls of that for breakfast contributed to the poundage I gained during freshman year. If only I had known how easy it is to make granola at home.

This recipe is simple and versatile; you could probably substitute the honey for maple syrup, walnuts for pecans or almonds, dark raisins for dried cranberries, the possibilities are endless. And I like getting  little pops of the coarse sea salt with the overall sweetness so I tend to add a little more, but to each his own. I’ve gotten into the very good habit of making a batch every Sunday morning, which makes the whole apartment smell spicy and toasty, and having a little bit each day for breakfast with some tart Greek yogurt.

Homemade granola

Everyday Granola

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil (I used canola)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the oats with cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, stir together oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla until completely combined (I found that microwaving the mixture for about 30 seconds made mixing a lot easier). Pour honey mixture over the oats and mix, using your hands. If you like clumpy granola, gather some of the mixture in your hand and make a fist. Repeat until all oats are evenly coated.

Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes and then remove from the oven. Flip the granola with a large spatula, add the walnuts and stick the granola back in the oven. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown. Let cool completely and then sprinkle with raisins. Store in an airtight container.

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