Lately, I've been eating out a lot and not cooking at all. Once upon a time, this wouldn't have been so abnormal. But now that we must pay a mortgage every month, I've enforced a strict "we-must-cook-dinner-ourselves-every-night" rule and while Daniel's been trying to enforce that rule for years, I was finally following it for awhile. But now that we have a baby (boy!) on the way in just four months, I've been regressing a bit. It's my four-month last hurrah, you could say. From what I hear, I won't be leaving my apartment much come April, so best to have a lot of fun nights out while I can.
Since I spend way too much time these days looking at cribs and sheet sets and analyzing strollers, I haven't had time to write posts about all the good food I've been eating. I also keep forgetting to bring my camera with me wherever I go (which many of my friends would say is a good thing since I'm already known for carrying a purse that's way too heavy). How about if I just give you a quick rundown of all the good restaurants and winter sweets I've been treating myself to these last few weeks?
Maybe when I'm in California next week, hanging in a house on Stinson Beach with my family and new niece, I'll find some time to write about all the good food my Mom is sure to make us. Happy Holidays, everyone!
Cafe Sabarsky: Daniel and I spent this past weekend in Manhattan eating, shopping, seeing friends and savoring our last few months as a twosome. On Saturday, we saw the Klimt exhibit at the Neue Gallery, a beautiful Upper East Side museum that opened in 2001 and was once the home of Cornelia Vanderbilt. The exhibit was good, and although I was hoping for more paintings and less drawings, none of that seemed to matter the minute we sat down in Cafe Sabarsky, a Viennese cafe within the museum that I'd been dying to try. Daniel soon realized that a late lunch of paprika-spiced egg salad sandwiches, bratwurst with two types of mustard, and mugs of hot chocolate were the real reason I'd suggested a trip to the Upper East Side.
I'm a little particular about hot chocolate, but since I'm not a coffee drinker, it's my winter beverage of choice. Cafe Sabarksy's was just the way I like it, milky rather than thick and rich and topped with a cloud of whipped cream. A little pricey at $6 a pop, but worth every sip.
Grom: Sunday in the city was wet, cold and rainy, but that didn't stop Daniel and I from spending a half hour in Grom, a gelateria that opened last summer on the Upper West Side. I'm pretty sure we sampled very single flavor before ordering small cups stuffed with three (gianduja, yogurt and cream with biscuits for me and cream with biscuits, pistachio and yogurt for Daniel).
I usually don't crave ice cream too often, let alone in the dead of winter. But this stuff? We ate it while while walking the windy Upper West Side Streets, our hands red and cold. Oh and did I mention it was raining?
A Voce: I've referred to this restaurant once before, but have never devoted a full post to it (which it definitely deserves). I've been twice now and have to say that it might just be one of my new favorite places. Located in Gramercy, it's a great place for an after-work meal. Their pasta is handmade and amazing -- the tortelloni di zucca and My Grandmother's Meat Ravioli are addictive, as is the Sardinian sheep's milk ricotta, an appetizer that you'll be tempted to gorge on every time you go. Entrees are also expertly prepared (and served in oval All Clad pans) and for dessert, I highly recommend the bomboloni: cream-filled sugar donuts served with a side of chocolate sauce.
Tarallucci e Vino: When I first visited this Italian spot near Union Square over the summer, I wasn't too impressed. My panini was bland and the place was empty. Then I went back last week for lunch with my friend Ginger and had a completely different experience. We split a pasta -- tagliatelle with speck and radicchio in a tomato cream sauce -- and a mozzarella, basil and olive paste panini. Let's just say I was kinda blown away. The place was packed and the food couldn't have been better. So what did I do? I went back for lunch less than a week later and tried a bacon quiche which was good but a bit too small, the mascarpone and spinach ravioli with fried prosciutto (delicious and definitely homemade), and my favorite of all: gnocchi with a duck ragu. I couldn't get enough of those fat and fluffy pasta pillows. Good thing I convinced my friend Mark to split a second plate with me. Oh how I love being pregnant and pigging out!
Po Brooklyn: I've only been to the Po in the West Village once and I have to admit I didn't love it. But the Po that recently opened on Smith Street? So good. For my friend Marie's 30th birthday, her husband Joe treated a group of us to a multi-course tasting that was delicious from start to finish. There was a beet salad to start, ravioli stuffed with a silky sundried tomato puree, gnocchi with a meat sauce, and the most amazing entree ever: a grilled guinea hen on top of fregula, a Sardinian pasta similar to Israeli cous cous. The guinea hen was boneless and so easy to eat with a flavor that was reminiscent of both steak and pork tenderloin. It alone is reason enough to return.
Cake Man Raven's red velvet cake: I've heard about Cake Man Raven for years, but didn't finally try his red velvet cake till Marie's birthday at Po. Our friend Margherita brought a bunch of slices and I have to say it might be one of the best cakes I've ever eaten (even though the thought of all that red dye causes me to cringe). It was so light and moist and the cream cheese frosting was sweetened perfectly.
The Red Cat: I've worked near this restaurant for over three years and didn't finally try it till just a few weeks ago. We went on a Monday night to celebrate my uncle's birthday (and the birth of my niece!), expecting it to be quiet and cozy (it is on 10th avenue after all, and we went on a particularly cold, windy night). Instead the place was packed and we almost didn't even get a table. I loved all the red accents throughout the slender space and will definitely be back for the grilled double cut pork chop with wilted romaine, dates, feta, gigantes and pumpkin seed pesto. YUMMMMM. Oh and another reason I love this place? You get to pluck a few granny smith apples from a crate on your way out. I took three.
Moim and Noo Na: I loved Korean food before pregnancy, but for some reason, I really love it now. Good thing that Moim, a new Korean restaurant in Park Slope opened a few weeks ago. Thanks to Judith I also now know about Noo Na, a Korean restaurant in Prospect Heights which is just as good, if not better.
Bi Bim Bap is my dish of choice and while it was great at both spots, Noo Na's is a bit bigger and comes with a fiery sauce that you pour on top.
A'Shay: I don't go to Williamsburg much, so it was nice to visit a few weeks ago for a dinner with our friend Scott. He took us to A'Shay, a small place that recently opened and is known for its really good comfort food. Daniel and I split mac and cheese, a chicken pot pie, a shrimp dish served with a cream sauce and plantains and best of all, a salad with pan fried manchego cheese. Unfortunately, the place was empty the night we were there, but the food was all top notch.
Cafe Cluny: Ever since this West Village restaurant opened earlier in the year, I'd heard mixed reviews. So, when planning a dinner with some girlfriends for last night, I decided to give it a try only after five other restaurants were booked solid. Luckily, we all ended up loving the location, food and ambiance. The menu had everything from burgers to artic char with melted leeks and last night's special was a hearty cassoulet. All this eating out had me sufficiently stuffed, so I went the two appetizer route and tried a beet salad with aged goat cheese followed by tiger shrimp on a mound of papardelle, peas, sundried tomatoes and truffles. For dessert, we split macerated berries with mascarpone cream, s'mores and profiteroles. The place was buzzing and it was the perfect place to catch up with friends on a cold, wintry evening. Good thing it's just a five-minute walk from my office. I can't wait to go back for some long lunches come January.