Monday, December 30, 2013
Sunday, December 15, 2013
It’s no secret that I LOVE NEW ORLEANS! Food is the primary reason that I love that city. So when I received an invite to attend a press dinner at Masq Restaurant & Lounge, a New York restaurant with a New Orleans theme, I HAD to be there. The theme is definitely there in the décor. There are three main areas and my favorite is definitely the back lounge area, which is heavy on the masques and likely to be the location of my birthday celebration next year.
Aside from the décor, the food is heavily influenced by New Orleans, but also has some standout dishes outside of that theme. By far my favorite dish was the Shrimp Po Boy.
It was served on a sweet Hawaiian roll, which enhanced the flavor of the Cajun fried shrimp by providing a contrast. The spicy remoulade was also a game changer that brought up the level of complexity in an otherwise simple Po boy. The Asian Marinated Salmon was a close second.
Since it falls outside of the theme, it couldn’t be the favorite. It is usually offered as a special. The honey garlic soy sauce had deep flavors. I treasured every bite of the salmon. I also very much enjoyed the Maryland Crabcake.
Another item that falls slightly outside of the theme, but it was seasoned to perfection. The breading was light and it was quite obvious I was eating chunks of crab and not filler. The arugula was slightly salty so I stayed away from that part of the dish. This is definitely not the restaurant for vegetarians. Both the Grilled Vegetable Flatbread and the Asiago Cheese Wedges were the least successful dishes.
The tomato basil sauce tasted great, but the cheese itself was bland and the breading was equally tasteless. The flatbread suffered a similar fate. It was also foiled by its use of cheese. The goat cheese seemed odd and detracted from the flavors.
The two dishes I would most like to return for are the ones I did not taste. The Mac ‘n Cheese Croquettes and the Jambalaya. Both of them contain some form of pork so I unfortunately missed out. Judging by the empty plates and looks of satisfaction around the table, I would guess that these were the top dishes. I have already inquired and I’m pleased to hear that the chef is willing to work with me and de-pork these dishes, when it comes to my birthday dinner. I can’t WAIT to try both.
Masq’s menu is diverse but definitely has a clear New Orleans swing. Considering my love for the city, I am thrilled that this restaurant exists in my city and I’m looking forward to returning.
Friday, December 13, 2013
As the weather starts to cool down, hanging out has become more of a challenge and I'm always looking for a fun and interactive indoor activity. When I received an invite to attend the press event at Cook & Go, I was pumped! Cook & Go is an awesome venue that allows you to do just what it says...cook, and go! The concept is brilliant. They have a short cooking class where you make an individual portion of a meal then you box it up and you take it elsewhere to eat. The set up is beautiful and I was super excited to get started.
Our chef was awesome and we had four fantastic dishes to make. The best part of the process is that you make your own dish, so you can add a little flair. My absolute favorite dish was the Ravioli with Pumpkin Sage Sauce.
We assembled the three cheese ravioli ourselves then cooked it…and of course I made a few extra pieces. The chef was also kind enough to give me some sauce to go. YUM! The panko crusted chicken bites were quite easy to make, and I have already replicated them at home.
Our entrées were restaurant worthy, and quite hearty! We also had not one, but two desserts!
The Chocolate Cranberry Tart tasted great but mine fell apart a little in the oven.
The Maple Upside Down Cake was much more successful!
I truly enjoyed the experience, and you can also take advantage of it. For a limited time, Cook & Go is offering my readers a chance to get a 10% discount! It’s totally worth it and I already have plans to return in January. Register here and use the password: Lady. Also not a bad idea if you're still looking for a list minute holiday gift!
This is also a great place for anyone who is unsure about whether they can cut it in the kitchen. You'll have some easy starter recipes created by well trained chefs! I also got to walk away with a new apron.
Monday, October 21, 2013
I love Indian food yet I find myself ordering take out rather than going to restaurants. So when I was invited to a press dinner at The MasalaWala, I was thrilled! The restaurant is understated and seats less than 30. The cuisine focuses on Indian street food. My mouth immediately started watering when we received the menu. The Kolkata Gobi Manchurian immediately stole the show.
I don't know why I've never experienced such deliciousness in my life. The cauliflower was crispy and to some extent it was difficult to tell it was cauliflower. The blend of Indo-Chinese spices made this reminiscent of a high class general tso dish. I was also a big fan of the Lamb Kakori Kebab.
In the last year lamb has reappeared in my diet and this was probably the best I've eaten. The lamb is imported from Australia, home of the world's best lamb. It is triple ground so it's incredibly tender then grilled in the Tandoori. Simply to die for! The Chicken Tikka was a close second.
The small chunks of chicken were marinated overnight which definitely showed in the depth of the flavor. They were then grilled in the Tandoori which cooked them to perfection. The samosas were standard fare.
Definitely well seasoned and thankfully not overstuffed but with so many other interesting dishes on the table it was not the star. When the entrees started arriving my nose was having a party thanks to all the amazing aromas. I absolutely loved the Nawabi Lamb Biryani (bottom left).
The lamb was just as tender as the Kebab. The rice was also cooked to perfection. The blend of flavors was what made it so amazing. I definitely had dreams about the biryani the following night and fully intend on calling in an order whenever I'm in the neighborhood. The Chicken Kali Mirch was another great dish.
It had a unique flavor unlike anything I've tried before. The black pepper chicken was blended with a variety of spices reminiscent of curries I've tried before but with an extra kick. The Lamb Pasanda was spectacular.
I really tasted the difference in Australian lamb than what I've eaten elsewhere. I had high hopes for the Shrimp Malabar. The flavors were right but the shrimp was slightly overcooked, almost tough. The coconut curry was mild with slight tamarind undertones.
Overall, I was quite pleased with the selection at The MasalaWala. The mix of new dishes and familiar staples was refreshing. I had to leave before dessert so I will definitely be back to try it out!
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a press dinner at incognito Italian Bistro in Chelsea. It's an open airy space and the weather was still nice enough to open the floor to ceiling windows. they recently started featuring live jazz on Tuesday nights so that could make for a very enjoyable dining experience.
Although Incognito bills itself as an Italian bistro, the cuisine is actually a mix of Italian and Scottish. Not surprisingly, my palette was much more pleased with the Italian dishes. The best thing I ate was definitely the Rack of Baby Lamb.
It was perfectly cooked, juicy and well seasoned. The accompanying creamed potatoes were a helpful way to soak up the rosemary jus. I knew it was good because it was the last item to arrive and I still devoured it. Usually by then I'm turning away food and only taking a couple of bites. The pasta tasting was also a plus and I wish we had received a larger portion.
Lobster Ravioli with saffron butter and Risotto with lamb ragu. The ravioli was creamy and light but lacked complexity. The risotto was an interesting twist. I don't think I've ever had a dish quite like this. I definitely recommend it. I would also come back for the margharita pizza.
I had to resist going back in for a second slice since it was at the beginning of our meal. The crust was crispy and the sauce was light enough so as to not make the pizza soggy. I was not impressed with the Highland Haggis.
Perhaps it's because I'm not familiar with Scottish food, but it just seemed like an odd item for a summer menu. The turnip tasted great but the lamb sausage was odd. It was like a poorly constructed shepard's pie. I would say the same about the Crepes.
Stuffing haddock, bechamel and leeks into a crepe just did not do it for me. The varying textures were not well defined and it tasted more like a pile of white than any distinct item. The fish was well cooked though and that was salvageable.
The meal certainly ended on a high note because the desserts were fantastic. The chocolate torte was rich and the caramel sauce enhanced the depth of the chocolate flavor.
Incognito has the right vibe for a post work hang out or even an evening dinner. Their menu offers a lot of diversity but has several staples that are bound to please. I recommend Tuesday night because I'm sure the jazz will add to a pleasurable dining experience.