Saturday, March 15, 2008

Food for Thought

This "Food Fight" video is both amazing from an animation point of view and for what it depicts... a historical representation through food of the wars that America has been involved in since WWII. It's kind of depressing, yet really fascinating at the same time. It also made me kind of want a burger...

A Little This, A Little That...

I am not a big fan of one-pot meals. Don't get me wrong, if someone were to offer me a bowl of lasagna or mac 'n cheese or some kind of curry stew, (or dumplings of course) I'd eat it and probably love it. But, my favorite way to eat is what I call, "a little this, a little that" -- it's pretty self-explanatory but the idea is that you get to take a couple bites of one thing, then move on to the next. You don't get sick of what you're eating because each bite is like the first all over again. Each bite does not have to be dramatically different from the next, but it should be distinct enough to feel like a new experience. Potlucks, really amazing salad bars, dim sum and tapas fit perfectly into the ALTALT way of eating. More on the others later, the focus here is tapas.

Below is a recent pictorial recording of an awesome tapas meal at Boqueria in Chelsea.

Started with Red Sangria. I typically prefer a nice glass of medium-bodied, smooth, dry red but this was a nice change of pace. Went down a little too easily!

One of the first dishes to arrive: Patatas Bravas (Crispy potatoes, "salsa brava" roasted garlic al i oli). Perfectly crisp potatoes with a light garlic aioli. The "Salsa Brava" was underneath. It added a bit of spice to the dish.

These came next: Datiles con Beicon (Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeon, wrapped in bacon). We couldn't stop raving about this perfect combination. I didn't realize until just now that they were filled with Valdeon as well as the almond. No wonder they were SO good. My only criticism is that the bacon could have been a little crispier.

The selection of Croquetas Cremosas: Setas, Bacalao y Cochinillo (Creamy Croquettes: Mushroom, Salt Cod, Suckling Pig) and Croquetas de Jamon (Croquette with Spanish Ham) rolled out next (actually I skipped the Tortilla that came in betwen -- the photo didn't come out that well and it was salty and not really a favorite at the table). These were only okay, in my opinion. The mushroom was the best, then the Cochinillo and the Jamon. The salt cod was very fishy and a little too salty. They tasted more baked than fried.

Gambas... oops, I failed to record the name of this gem. When this dish was brought out, the shrimp were somewhat translucent and the platter was sizzling. We assumed they were supposed to cook from the residual heat of the platter but as the dish cooled the shrimp didn't appear to have fully cooked, so we had to have them reheated. When the shrimp were brought back out they were fantastic. They rivaled the dates as a favorite at the table. The sauce was AMAZING -- really garlicky with hot peppers and shrimp stock; particularly good for bread-dipping.

The Coles de Bruseles (Pan-roasted brussel sprouts, chorizo) were also delicious and perfectly-cooked.

A very unique combo: the Bocata de ... not sure what this was called as it was a special, featured pickled anchovies, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and an olive tapenade, I think. I personally loved these but one person from our party was not a fan. Anchovies are such a love 'em or leave 'em kind of thing. We actually also got a really good sardine dish that came breaded on a bed of white beans. Yum, but not stand-out.

This was a special -- I can't recall what it was called, but the "square" was suckling pig with a very crispy skin. The meat was really tender, almost like a pulled pork. This was served with artichoke hearts and wild mushrooms -- both deliciously tender and buttery.

By the way, at this point I was wishing I had worn elastic waistband pants! I was SO full, but everything was really good so I couldn't stop... and up next was dessert.

Our waiter told us that Churros con Chocolate (Traditional fried dough, thick hot chocolate) were a favorite, so we ordered these. They were good, but nothing compared to the grand finale below.

The creme de la creme: Torriya y Helado (Carmelized "Spanish toast," goat's milk ice cream). Wow. I am not really a dessert person but this was freaking fantastic. It was essentially French toast, but probably the best French toast I've ever had. The exterior had a crispy caramelized sugar coating and the interior was incredibly fluffy. Even the way it smelled -- all cinnamon-y and vanilla-y was amazing. And the goat cheese ice cream was the perfect accompaniment, though I barely noticed it next to the toast.

At the end of the meal, I felt so incredibly full. Perhaps I should rename this post, A Lot of This, A Lot of That...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stuffed from Thai

The food came fast! Now I'm insanely full because being the pig that I am, I had most of the curry, 4 puffs and 4 dumplings! (I'm gross). Here are the pics and some thoughts on the meal...

The Thai Puffs are above. These look like dumplings but are more like little pastries. They're filled with a curry potato and ground chicken mixture. Pretty tasty, a tad greasy. The menu says it's served with a salad but it's more of a dipping sauce with carrots, cucumber and red onions. I couldn't figure out what the base of it is flavored with -- maybe fish sauce? The puffs work well when dipped in the curry.

Here are the Siam Dumplings. See how they look more like Siu Mai? When you bite into them, there's a slight crunch -- I think it might be watercress. These are pretty good but the sauce a bit too sweet. It tastes like a thick soy sauce with sugar and a little ginger.

This was my main meal (well, half of it). It was pretty good, but man am I FULL.

Overall, the meal was good. I wouldn't say fantastic, but pretty solid and really not a bad deal.

Starving for Thai

It's 7:29 and I am waiting for my Manee Thai food to arrive. I am absolutely STARVING. Here's a preview of what I will be eating (hopefully sooner, rather than later)!
- Thai Puffs: Ground chicken and potato filled puffs. (Had these once and they were good but can't recall what the puff was made of... more to com when the food arrives)
- Siam Dumplings (of course): Steamed chicken and shrimp served with ginger sauce (YUM. These are different than the typical dumpling. They're more siu mai than dumpling-like but still delicious).
- Panang Curry with Chicken: Also comes with string beans, bell pepper, lime and basil.

This is the third time I've ordered from here. It's pretty good Thai. Everything is seasoned maybe a tiny bit too much, but it's still really good. Photos will be posted as soon as it arrives!