Madison Square Eats

This is the last week of the Mad. Sq. Eats that ends on May 31st. Head to this pop-up market open daily from 11am to 9pm. For once skip the line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park and eat the best of the local food. 30 of the best and most popular NYC vendors offer their best food to new Yorkers for less than a month. Unfortunately I could not taste everything but I tried to make you a great selection.

Roberta’s: Just like the restaurant, but this time the Bushwick team comes to Manhattan with a selection of their best pizza. For $9, you have a smaller pizza than the original one, great to share for appetizer or just for one. The pizza is ready in 4 minutes, which means they must have pre-cooked the dough, but no-worries, they brought the brick oven and the Famous Original is almost as good as the one in Bk. For the full review of Roberta’s, click here.

Mexicue: this was probably one of my favourite food stands. The pulled pork sandwich is served on a bun with pickles and a spicy sauce that make the sandwich terrific! The mac-n-cheese is creamy with green chili that perfectly matches the cheese.

 

Arancini Bros.: Yes you are probably familiar with those fried rice balls that come from Sicily. It is easy to get too fat or tasteless ones. With their balls, they reached the perfect combination. The traditional ragu arancino will be a perfect start.

Red Hook Lobster Pound: I have been fascinated by lobster rolls since my trip to Boston where I had the best lobster roll at Neptune and I haven’t been able to find as good in NYC. Lobster, warm bitter in a roll has started being the new almost trendy combination in Paris. This lobster roll is not bad, it is just not my favourite one.

Sunday Gravy: slow braise of beef and pork, sausage and meatballs, simmered with plum tomatoes, garlic and basil. This ragu pasta looked absolutely delicious, and smelt really good. The flavour was just not as intense as I was expecting.

Dreamscoops: try the affogato for dessert. This shop serves your choice of ice cream in a cup topped with a shot of espresso made by the shop next door Third Rail Coffee. You get the sweet of the ice cream, the bitter of the coffee and a great coffee shake with it’s melted.

The Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile-Blogger

This is the first time my blog has been nominated for an award: The Versatile Blogger Award, and I would like to thank Oenophilogical. It made me really happy and it is great to see that your blog is actually red and sometimes even appreciated by other bloggers. The adventure started a couple of months ago, on January 22nd, 2013, and I could never believe I would have had people actually following me.

The rule is that now I have to nominate 15 bloggers I have recently followed. Here are my nominated:

The rules ask to share 7 things about ourselves…

1. I am French, but I have started drinking red wine and eating cheese in the US. Weird.
2. I am supposed to speak Italian since I spent a year in Rome, but I think I am losing a lot of it. And I totally lost my German since my last class in high school.
3. I love hosting people and I am able to set up a brunch in the night to be sure everything will be ready on time.
4. I am so scared of spiders I can do nightmares about it when I see one during the day… and I almost got a car accident because of one.
5. I’ve been in love with Michael Jackson since he died in 2009. I can listen to his songs every single day.
6. I hate the rain and can be either angry or depressed. Not easy when you are from Paris.
7. When I travel, the first thing I search for in a city guide is the food section.

Thank you again for your attention and I hope you will keep enjoying my food-crawls!

Cru Event at Lafayette – The Dutch

Last Wednesday was the presentation of the Georges Duboeuf 2012 Crus. Known as the biggest French negociant who started exporting wine 31 years ago in the US, Duboeuf does not mean only Beaujolais Nouveau. His 10 Crus, from the best part of the Beaujolais area, are named Flower and present a great value. But he also owns other domains and bottles the juice in his property.
The presentation took place at Lafayette, the new restaurant that has been open for exactly one month, owned by the same team behind The Dutch and Locanda Verde. 5 tables were dressed in the wine cellar downstairs, which was really appropriate for this event.
The first step was a walk-in tasting with some small appetizer. The gougère was too hard, but the mini slider was definitely one of the best burgers I had, and it is on the menu! The secret must have been the raclette cheese, even though it was a bit too salty.
The star of the event was again the Juliénas, Château des Capitans. The Beaujolais and Mâconnais were also featured with a special mention to the Pouilly-Fuissé, Domaine Emile Béranger, which is going to be the killer once people understand Duboeuf can also be featured in white tablecloth restaurants because of its quality.


As part of the lunch, the paté was paired with Beaujolais-Villages. All the French people got a bit disappointed since they put so much spices and fresh herbs you can barely taste the meat. And I hope you have strong teeth to eat the toasted bread served with it, you will need them.
Between each course, the legend, Georges, and his son Franck, talked about the wines.
The spinach and slight goat cheese ravioli were really fine. The roasted chicken was definitely the best dish. Naked, served only with 5 bites of roasted potatoes, it was like getting the chicken from the farmers market a summer in France. I was expecting a tarte tatin for dessert; we got a tarte fine, which is absolutely not the same. Thin slices of apple served on a puff pastry dough with a slight burned taste. I should probably share with them the actual recipe.
Overall, Lafayette is a very nice place to get the spirit of a French Brasserie. And I will probably go back to taste their bakery for breakfast.
And I have to say that the flower bouquet with the gift bag was a nice wink to the Flower label and kind thoughts to women.

Lafayette
380 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533 3000

The Dutch is the American Soho restaurant own by the same team. The venue is bright, with the same snobby atmosphere you find in these trendy Manhattan spots I talked about in earlier posts. The non-so classic poached egg was served with ham, chipotle and tomato and a cheddar biscuit in an oven dish. Special mention to the burger and French fries. I feel I always get my best burgers in restaurants that are not known for that.

The Dutch
131 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-6200

Maison Harlem or a walk through West Harlem

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Harlem is more and more having nice restaurants opening. Maison Harlem is one of them. Located in the very quiet West Harlem, this French restaurant is a nice place for brunch once you are done with the traditional Gospel church and if you are not ready to do the line in one of those Soul Food restaurants serving fried chicken. Avoid the Abyssinian Baptist Church since it seems all the NYC tourists have been told to get there. Canaan Baptist Church has also tourists I won’t lie, but at least if you are a little early you will probably get a seat and will forget those people holding their city guides as soon as you listen to the different choirs.

Canaan Baptist Church
132 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026
(212) 866-0301

It seems everybody is French at Maison Harlem, so I felt home very quickly. You first walk through the bar when your table is ready. The atmosphere is very friendly, and feels different and more relax than any downtown restaurants.
As part of the food, I can only say it was excellent. If you order the coq-au-vin, be patient and order an appetizer to kill the time they cook it to order. The portion was generous, and you feel definitely you are in France with this traditional dish.

Maison Harlem
341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027
(212) 222-9224

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You may have still some room for a desert, head to Levain Bakery, it has the best chocolate chip cookie ever. These are so dense and heavy you may probably need a friend to split it. The Harlem location is bigger than the one in the Upper West Side and offer other pastries I have not tried. I can just tell you to order the chocolate chip walnut cookie. And to go for a run later.

Levain Bakery
2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10026

If you are in West Harlem and want to visit around, check Columbia University and its campus. A couple of block down is the Cathedral St John the Divine, the 4th largest Christian church in the word. Started late 19th century, it was interrupted by the two World War and remains unfinished.
If by any chance you like history, art or you are just curious about seeing parts from five French cloistered abbeys reassembled brick-by-brick before being shipped to New York, head to The Cloisters. Besides the view on the Hudson is blind blowing, like all the 12th-15th century pieces of art this branch of the MET museum features.

Columbia University
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-1754

The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10025
(212) 316-7540

The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Dr
New York, NY 10040
(212) 923-3700

Capture d’écran 2013-05-19 à 00.09.33

Cinco de Mayo

I might be obsessed with some elements and as you probably may have noticed,  tacos are part of it. So when Cinco de Mayo happened, I realized it was another good excuse to have a taco crawl all day. My run in Central Park North in the morning reminded me (just in case I had forgotten) I am actually living in Spanish Harlem, and for once I was pretty happy to hang out in my neighborhood. National Mexican music screaming in the colorful streets, Harlem is great to get coconut ice cream for $1 and huge fresh squeezed orange juice for half the price of the rest of Manhattan.

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Unfortunately, East Harlem is not known to have the best Mexican food in town. Is it because it is mainly made up of Puerto Ricans? I decide to head to the only decent place recommended by most of the guides and foodies: Taco Mix, located on 116th st and 3rd avenue. The line is long, way too long, since we have to wait 30’ to get the precious taco Al Pastor. The pork is sliced to order off a rotating spit and covered with a pineapple that is probably giving only the juice to the meat. No cube of fruit, they are just covered with the traditional cilantro-raw onions mix. If you want to try the traditional Mexican taco, Taco Mix is the place to go.

Toloache 82 is a lot fancier, located in Yorkville. It seems you cannot go wrong with the menu. The guacamole is one of the best I had, the quesadillas are definitely looking original and the black truffle on one of them is really savory even though they won’t feed you. The fish taco is generous, baja-style tilapia with spicy-jicama slaw (Mexican coleslaw-style), topped with guacamole. I would not rate them favorite fish taco but they really worth it (click here for the taco-crawl). Anyway the restaurant offers one of the best Mexican foods in the city, so I would recommend to spend you next dinner out there.

For your upcoming Margarita night, head to Tequilla Park Taqueria. Located on the second floor of the Hudson Lodge, the huge taco-margarita garden is great to hang out, watch people or play the babyfoot. Watch out because your night will cost you a lot with the $16 margarita and the $8 baby-tacos.

Taco Mix
234 E 116th St # 1,
New York, NY 10029

Toloache 82
166 E 82nd St,
NY 10028
(212) 861-4505

Tequilla Park Taqueria
356 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 554-6217

Check the Taco-crawl here to get the top 10 tacos in NYC. Bonus, there is a Map!

Mission Chinese Food

 

If you are a minimum foodie, you have probably heard about Mission Chinese Food. Famous Chinese restaurant from San Francisco, the story of that place is actually pretty cool. Danny Bowien started his adventure a couple of years ago when the restaurant was only a pop-up place in an existing Chinese restaurant in the Mission District, SF. Since then he had a wild success, opened another restaurant a couple of months ago in the Lower East Side, NYC, was national acclaimed and won yesterday the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef.

Danny Bowien on his James Beard win,  Inside Scoop SF

Located in the basement on Orchard St, NYC, you must know the exact address or you risk passing it without seeing it. Once your name is called, pass the entrance and the long sketchy hall, you will find out a trendy Chinese looking restaurant. The music is loud, packed with Millennials only; you can choose small or large cheap dishes. But be careful this is not the regular Chinese food you will find here. No sesame chicken or dim sum here. You have to think out of the box, which I could not.

 

To be honest, I hesitated before writing this review. With 500+ reviews on Yelp and an article dedicated to this restaurant in every major newspaper and food blog, I got totally disappointed and questioning about what I ate. And it is killing me when I do not make the right choice with a restaurant.

Out of the three dishes I tried, the cucumber appetizer was just chopped cucumber with an extremely hot sauce that anesthetizes your palate. But the worst comes. The Szechuan lamb served with bones was just a piece of fat with a strong smell of meat. Do not even think it could taste like the cumin lamb from Xi’an Famous Food. The broccoli beef brisket with smoked oyster sauce could have been satisfactory if there had not been this huge piece of fat meat in the middle of the dish. The only good part of the whole diner experience was the broccoli rave cooked in the sauce of the beef. But only served with white rice. A lot of white rice.

I must have chosen the wrong dishes, but two awful dishes out of the menu is way too much to give another shot. I could not face the taste another time.

If you still want to try and understand the buzz, go at 11pm during the week to avoid the line. And tell me about a dish you actually loved at Mission Chinese Food. I am eager to hear about that.

Mission Chinese Food
154 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-8800