The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Monday, April 19, 2010

lunch at restaurants I can't afford dinner: Del Posto

The best lunch deal in New York can be found at Del Posto. This is a three star restaurant (possibly four in the near future) serving three courses plus a bunch of extra nibbles and bites for $29. The meal is worth every penny (and probably more, but don't tell the owners). Molly and I had a lunch date with a pair of Brits recently where we were spoiled rotten, starting with a round of complimentary Bellinis. Our party of four is then present with this trio of starters. In the foreground left are gougères-y type things studded with bits of mortadella. To the right are suppli, Roman rice balls with mozzarella in the mix. These are usually coated in breadcrumbs, but Del Posto rolled them in cooked rice and then sprinkled with gold dust. The cups are filled with stracciatella, a sort of egg-drop soup. So simple, yet so delicious, which sums up Italian cooking so often.

Wait, there's more! We then we get a second round of amuses: wedges of buffalo mozzarella dipped in shaved black olive (or was it cocoa...or both?), mini crostada with whipped cod and chickpea fritters filled with cheese. De-li-cious. Please give me only bite-sized tastes from now on.

Oozy, cheesy fritter innards.

For my first course I chose the roasted vegetables with robiola sformato and truffled hazelnuts. in addition to the veg, there were some bites of fruit, including a wonderful wedge of roasted pear. I am a sucker for robiola and have been from the first time I tried it at a little cicchetti stand in Venice some 8 years ago.

Instead of our second course, the kitchen sent out plates of the agnolotti dal plin with Parmigiano-Reggiano. They were served in a napkin nest and we were instructed to take a veal and pork filled packet (still a little wet from the pasta water), and dip it into the cheese before popping into our mouths. Incredible. I could have eaten these all afternoon long.

I had a doozy of a time deciding on a second course - pasta or protein? Once I saw my plate, I knew I had made the right choice. This is Carlo's stracchiotte with frutti di mare alla marinara.
Note the gorgeous two-toned pasta, first of all. The perfectly cooked pasta mingled with rings of perfectly cooked squid and lumps of scallop and this incredibly light, but flavorful sauce of tomato, onion and garlic. I would have a difficult time NOT ordering this on any return visit.

Before we move onto our dessert course, we get a modified cheese course, assembled table side by pastry chef Brooks Headley (a friend of Molly's, hence the extra special treatment. I know you were wondering!). But wait, I haven't even talked about the bread we were served. I didn't take any photos of it because I was too busy stuffing my face with grissini, olive rolls, mini baguettes and foccacia slathered with fancy butter and lardo! So Chef Brooks explains that Lidia, one of the owners, requires that he incorporate vegetables in his desserts, like this eggplant crostada. Here he spoons melted robiola (again!) over the slice.

And then drizzles chocolate over it. A weird combo, but the eggplant was so sweet and tender, it could have been mistaken for fig. The chocolate cut through the funk of the cheese and so it worked!

This was our palate cleanser - a rhubarb creamsicle. That would be rhubarb sorbet on the bottom and olive oil gelato on top and olive oil drizzled over it. The garnish was a piece of brown butter cookie. Yum.

For our official dessert course, we played pass the plate with four different offerings. TI can't remember all the components, but the base was some sort of chocolate, duh. There was also a chocolate twig and the ridged, potato chippy looking thing is actually crumbled penne rigate pasta!

Fennel pollen cheesecake with rhubarb and blood orange, with torn pieces of bread to be used to sop up the remaining juices. This was a cool flavor combination because we were at the tail end of blood orange season and the very beginning of rhubarb.

Chestnut cake with warm plum macedonia, crushed chestnuts and yogurt gelato. More yummmm.

This was the most interesting dessert of the quartet: sfera di caprino with celery & fig agrodolce & celery sorbetto. The little balls are goat cheese rolled in breadcrumbs (I loved the chef's use of bread in his desserts), the dark stuff is the fig and aged balsamic, if I remember correctly. And the green stuff is shaved celery and the sorbet. More veggies in dessert and more incredibleness! The celery was so refreshing.

But no, we're still not finished. We end the meal with more bites, this time sweet and charmingly displayed on a cheese grater. From left to right: mini bomboloni; roasted dates filled with cheese and sprinkled with sea salt; pineapple "jolly ranchers"; chocolate-olive oil popsicle rolled in breadcrumbs.

I thought we were done, but then the drawer was pulled out and there were more bites! Candied grapefruit flavored with Aperol (I think), another mini crostada but sweet this time, of course (I love the parallels with the savory bites), chocolate covered honeycomb (think of the deliciousness of a Crunchie bar and then multiply that tenfold) and caramels wrapped in edible rice paper.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

austin day 2: a three queso day

breakfast tacos @ torchy's tacos trailer park edition. migas and the monk pictured here.

obligatory order of queso to round out breakfast.

later in the afternoon, more queso and a shiner at the iron cactus.

final queso of the day comes at the kerbey lane cafe by UT. with a side of Larry K!

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austin day 1

sandy's drive-in is a five minute walk from my hotel.

ordered a single - a thin griddled patty topped with mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, on a sturdy bun with bacon and cheese. the fries were forgettable, but the burger solid.

later in the evening, dinner at fonda san miguel: fish in vera cruz sauce washed down with a DIY michelada.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

i think it's a good idea to post cannes photos before i post austin photos, right?

escargot @ le petit lardon (3 Rue du Batéguier)

assorted provençale appetizers @ la cave (9 Boulevard de la République)

tasteless steamed cod and overcooked veggies saved by the crock of aioli that
accompanied @ la cave (9 Boulevard de la République)

poire et chocolat tarte @ la tarterie (33 Rue Bivouac Napoleon)

seafood risotto @ pierrot 1 er (51, rue Felix Faure)

scallops and vegetable fondue jammy @ pierrot 1 er (51, rue Felix Faure)

three man bouillabaisse preparation for sadly, not us @ pierrot 1 er (51, rue Felix Faure)

raspberry macaron

delicious frenchie snacks!

lobster veloute amuse @ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine)

roasted sea scallops with potato gnocchi and truffle whipped cream
@ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine).

dourade, baked onions, parsley and Chioggia beets
@ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine).

orange souffle pancakes, candied peel and caramelized citrus butter sauce
@ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine)

petit fours @ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine)

take home panettone type bread @ le mesclun (16 Rue Saint-Antoine)

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

homemade ho-ho

From Bouchon Bakery, part of DMR's birthday box of treats. Not pictured: Twiggle (chocolate covered pretzel rod), caramel macaron and the bakery's massive, homemade Nutter Butter.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Dinner at Restaurants I Can't Afford Dinner: WD-50

One of my oldest college buddy, Paris, was in town for the New Year and we decided to treat ourselves to the tasting menu at WD-50. I know, you're thinking we're like 5 years too late on this, but whatevs, Wylie was in the kitchen cooking our food!

Our bread basket turned out to be a wooden container of super thin sesame crisps that I'm sure were created using some sort of dehydrating machine with numbers in its name. Deliciously crunchy and plentiful! I was able to snack on these throughout the entire meal. Thank you servers for not removing this from our table. I hate when the bread basket is taken away. Hey you, I'm not done with that!

Amuse time! Peekytoe crab, celery root, golden raisin and miso. So tasty, I didn't even mind the raisin.

This is the bottle of wine we had. The restaurant is running a recession special of 50% off a bottle with the tasting menu, so this turned into a very good deal.

Everything bagel ice cream with smoked salmon threads and crispy cream cheese. This was brilliant - probably my favorite course of the night when take inventiveness into consideration with flavor. The cream cheese had the texture of a thin sheet of white chocolate. I made each bite a combo bite with a shard of cream cheese, sprinkling of smoked salmon and portion of ice cream.

Foie gras, passion fruit and Chinese celery two ways (thin shavings atop and crunchified at the base) . This is view one.

View two to show you the passion fruit innards. I loved the crunch of the celery crumbles but I think I'm just not a huge fan of passion fruit. Too sweet for my tastes. Still, a good accompaniment to the richness and unctuousness of the foie.

Scrambled egg ravioli, charred avocado, seared kampachi and tiny, tiny home fries. I love the way the chef balances textures. Without the crispy potato bits, texture wise, this would have been too one dimensional a dish.

Cold fried chicken with buttermilk-ricotta, tabasco reduction and caviar. The ricotta was a great stand-in for rustic, mashed potatoes.

Langoustine, red pepper threads, black sesame and shiso.

Beef and bearnaise turned out to be nothing like what I was anticipating. These were crazy rich but light as a feather bearnaise dumplings in a very beefy broth. Silly me expected a piece of steak!

Lamb loin, black garlic romesco, soybeans and pickled garlic chive. This may have been my least favorite course of the evening. The lamb was a bit undercooked for my tastes. The silvery bit was left on the meat, making the chewy bites even chewier, nearly impossible to break down.

"Caramel apple" was apple ice cream with caramel on the inside.

Caramel apple insides.

Hazelnut tart, coconut, chocolate and chicory foam.

That's not a scallop! It's a caramelized brioche with dried apricot, buttercream ribbon and lemon thyme foam dollops.

To finish the evening, cocoa packets which reminded me of the old sample packs from Kiehl's and chocolate shortbread covered milk ice cream.

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