Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Catfish with Spicy Spinach and Peppers

Even though I was sans kitchen plumbing (currently on day 17!), I decided I had no choice but to cook.  A food lover can only eat take out for so long!  I did have to use the kitchen downstairs to rinse the ingredients, but other than that the magic happened in my kitchen.

Two pieces of catfish
1 bunch fresh spinach
½ red pepper julienned
½ green pepper, julienned
½ small onion
1 1/2 tbs chipotle adobo sauce
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbs all purpose flour
2 tbs vegetable oil

Salt and pepper the catfish then coat lightly with flour.  Heat 1 tbs of oil on medium heat then add the catfish.  Cook for 4 minutes then turn over and cook for another four minutes.

Put the fish to the side and add the remaining oil into the pan. Once it heats up, add the onions and peppers for about 3 minutes.  

Next add the chipotle adobo sauce and the spinach.  Cook while stirring until the spinach is wilted. Serve with the catfish.

The vegetables tasted incredible.  That chipotle-adobo sauce added a great kick! Yup, I killed it! Even sans kitchen plumbing, I beasted in the kitchen.  If I had plumbing I probably would have made rice or some other carb.  In the end, I decided cookies were the perfect side dish dessert.

Hungry yet?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I can’t count how many times I’ve walked past Kashkaval wondering what was going on in there.  So when Z suggested that we have dinner there, I was excited to try it out.  It’s a tricky restaurant because the front of it is like any other deli storefront, but in the back are a few tables where diners packed in to enjoy delicious meals.  We waited quite a bit before we got a table, but it was totally worth it.  Our meal started with a sampling of Cold Mediterranean Tapas.

I should have photographed each individually, but I was too hungry.  We had (clockwise from bottom) Eggplant Caponata, Russian Salad, Taboule, Hummus, and in the middle Piyaz!

My favorites were the Taboule (although not as good as the one Ms. O's mom makes) and the Eggplant Caponata.  They were spectacular. The Hummus was also incredible.  The Piyaz (White beans, scallions, parsley, dill, olive oil, vinegar) was alright as was the Russian Salad (Potatoes, carrots, green peas, pickles, capers and herbs).  The pita bread was fresh and they gave us a hearty serving.  I tried not to stuff my face too much before my entrée arrived.  The Chicken Kebab was fantastic.

The cubes of roasted chicken breast were marinated in delicious spices and served on a bed of orzo with a side salad. The salad was a little over feta'd but the dressing was delicious. Z ordered the Spinach & Feta Borek.

The spinach and feta cheese was rolled in phyllo dough and tasted great. I only had a small bite though because I was so full from the chicken Kebab.

The food at Kashkaval was tasty and the variety of options and different flavors made for a pleasurable dining experience. I’m definitely planning to stop by there to pick up Hummus or Eggplant Caponata next time I’m passing by. I recommend you do the same!

Hungry yet?

Kashkaval on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stewed Breakfast Potatoes

It seems like forever ago when Ms. O and Mr. M came over for brunch.  I’ve been meaning to write about it, but with all the kitchen and bathroom craziness, I really haven’t blogged much these last two weeks. Luckily I had some time to catch up on blogging so expect a few posts this week

Considering they bought me an amazing Breakfast and Brunch cookbook and they’ve hosted me for many a meals, it’s only right that they finally come enjoy a delicious brunch at my place.  I was super excited to have them come over and while I was planning on making a lot of dishes I’d already made, I knew it was finally time I try to recreate the Stewed Potatoes I lust after at Il Bastardo.

6 Idaho Potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup green peppers, chopped
¼ cup red peppers, chopped
1 jalapeno minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 10-oz can tomato sauce
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs chili pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Peel and cube the potatoes then boil for about 10 minutes until tender but not mushy.  Drain the potatoes and leave to the side.  In the same pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add peppers, jalapeno, garlic and onions. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add tomato sauce, chili pepper, salt and pepper.

Cook for about 5 minutes then fold in potatoes.

Cover and cook on low heat for another 5 – 10 minutes. The longer you cook it the softer the potatoes will be so you can adjust accordingly.  The potatoes turned out quite good actually.

But they were only part of the brunch.  The rest of it helped me remember why I should cook more often for brunch rather than going out.

French Toast, which you might recognize from this brunch.

Spicy cajun chicken sausage.
The best eggs EVER.
And some super yummy fruit salad courtesy of Ms. O.

After enjoying our meal, we watched a few more episodes of Archer. I’ve heard laughter is good for digestion.

Hungry yet?

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Sometime last week, things in my apartment went haywire. Through no fault of my own, I currently have no use of the plumbing in my kitchen and bathroom. It's a long story, the facts are unclear and the relationships of the parties involved is complicated. Since it's not my fault, you can imagine that I'm thinking of all the remedies that are owed to me. One of them of course is reimbursement for my meals. 

I figured I'd keep things local since I've been on a Harlem World kick these days. I went to Bettolona with the highest of expectations considering all the hype surrounding its fall opening. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to expectations. The restaurant is tastefully decorated (save the Christmas lights adorning the front) and it has a neighborhood feel that makes you want to spend hours in there. The server brought an extra chair to our table then displayed the chalkboard with the specials.

Cute. But nothing appealed to me. The menu had some great options and I was def looking forward to the meal. We started out with a simple Caprese.

Fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil. It was fine. That's right just fine. Nothing remarkable whatsoever. I was a little disappointed because I definitely wanted more than just fine. Although he had a hard time deciding on an entree, the Spinach Fettuccine was apparently a good choice.

It was mixed with sweet sausage, peas and tomatoes in a cream sauce. I'm not one for the cream sauces and certainly don't do (non-poultry) sausage but I must admit I had a little food envy when I saw green pasta. My Gnocchi was perfect.

The little bite size pieces were soft and melt in your mouth good. Unfortunately, the sauce was way too tangy. How tragic. Such perfect gnocchi should not have to share the plate with such subpar sauce. The presentation was also disappointing. The plate was so big and the portion was so small. It was also drowning in the sauce. I really wanted to try the pizza but my fear that they would be using the same sauce prevented me from ordering.

While Bettolona certainly didn't live up to my expectations, it was still a decent meal and I can see why people might choose to go there. I still really want to try the pizza so I may return. For those in the Columbia area this is probably worth the short walk and it won't do too much damage to your wallet. There are a couple of more established Italian restaurants in that neighborhood but it's clear they cater to a crowd with a more refined palate. Eventually Bettolona might get on their level, for now know that you get what you pay for.

Hungry yet?

Bettolona on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lido Restaurant Harlem

Oh Harlem! It seems like every day a new dining establishment opens and I’m finding less and less reasons to leave the ‘hood for entertainment. Last weekend Lido was the newish restaurant I decided to try. I think it’s been open since February but it wasn’t until last week that I finally got around to it.  There was a lot of catching up to do with Ms. S so I figured a neighborhood spot would be best.  I walked into Lido and was pleasantly surprised by the décor. Exposed brick with a variety of seating option including round booths and group tables in the back. 

We sat in an elevated booth, which felt more like a private table for two.  We had a great view of bustling Fred Doug Blvd. Within a few minutes our server, Steve appeared. He was cheerful and offered suggestions when we asked.  We started off with the Crostino. I ordered the Tomato Crostino. (Sincerest apologies again for the low quality pics. It wasn't until the end of the night that I got the hang of things. I promise it's smooth sailing after this post!)

Ohhemmgeee! The many types of roasted tomatoes were flavored with garlic and basil. Incredibly flavorful. There were lots of tomatoes so definitely some spillage but I didn't mind too much.  Ms.S referred to it as "boosted up bruschetta" which i think is pretty accurate. She ordered the Rock Shrimp Crostino.

We anticipated she would receive a few tiny shrimp but we were completely wrong. The shrimp were plentiful. I was even able to sample a few strays that remained on the plate because they could no longer hang on to the Crostino. The sea salt flavored shrimp were incredibly fresh and quite delicious. The simple flavors are what made it so good.

In evaluating the menu for an entree, I must say that I was unimpressed. There are simply not enough options! Almost every item had some form of pork hiding in there. The gnocchi had guanciale and the scallops had speck. Most of the other items were not poultry or seafood but we both managed to find something to eat. Ms. S ordered the Orecchiette.

It was served with Rock Shrimp, Broccoli Rabe and Cherry Peppers.  The flavor was simplistic and there was nothing that spectacular about it.  It's a shame there were such limited options on the menu, especially for pasta. Luckily, I was able to find something amazing to eat. Whole Branzino.

I must apologize again because the picture really doesn't do the fish any justice. It was divine. Served with Roasted Red Livornese, Charred Onion, Organic Watercress and fennel, I truly thought I was in heaven when I took my first bite. 

It is seasoned with salt but doesn't taste salty. The fish was deboned which was an excellent surprise! I really enjoyed the fennel too. This dish was perfectly executed and I'm convinced I ordered the best thing on the menu. After devouring the fish, I ordered dessert.

See finally got the camera setting right :) unfortunately as good as it looked the tiramisu just didn't do it for me. I think it had soaked too long so it was over powering.  Maybe next time.

Lido was a solid dining experience. The appetizers are great but I'm a little concerned about the lack of variety on the menu. Not everyone wants pieces of pork in everything they eat and really it would be nice of there were a few more pastas on there. I know they're changing their menu soon so hopefully they'll switch it up in a good way. Also their prices are on the high side and it’s really not worth it considering the lack of options. Hopefully, their revamped menus will also reflect more reasonable pricing. I'm thrilled that Harlem continues to bloom with new restaurants and bakeries and look forward to continuing my exploration and re-discovery.

Hungry yet?

Lido on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

KOI New York

As always on a Friday few things make me happier than a great meal! I know not that different from other days ;-)

A few Fridays ago, KOI was the location of the great meal. I must admit I wasn't thaaaat excited because I had heard that the NY location doesn't live up to the LA location's hype. Regardless, I figured it'd be a fun dining experience.  Our server tried to push Edamame on us before we evaluated the menu.  Never one to be suckered, I had no problem saying no.  Instead we ordered the Edamame Dumplings.

Delicious little pockets filled with edamame and served with a mix of black truffle, lobster and lemon-thyme sake butter.  (Apologies for the pictures still figuring out the settings on the new camera.)  We also happily ordered the Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura.

I initially saw creamy and hesitated but the slightly spicy sauce was perfect. It worked well with the crispiness of the tempura and the freshness of the shrimp.  I was a little suspicious when the Crispy Rice with tuna arrived at the table.

However, one bite and I was hooked! Tightly packed rice deep-fried for a nice crispy shell but moist inside. Of course the spicy tuna was the star of the show topped with a small slice of jalapeno.  YUM!  It was definitely my favorite, but the Baked Crab came in a close second.

Warm pieces of crab with rice…I mean what could go wrong? Absolutely nothing. It was sensational.  The crab was well flavored and the warmth was a pleasant surprise.  The biggest disappointment of the night was the Koi Dragon Roll.

It looks messy which was my first clue that I wouldn’t like it.  Allegedly there was shrimp tempura and eel inside that big pile of rubbish.  However, all I experienced was bits of tempura dumped all over the roll. GROSS.  I had one piece and asked for a do over.  We were already full though so we ended up just moving on to dessert, which was much more pleasant. The Warm Chocolate Brownie Banana Sundae with Vanilla Ice Cream (sans Banana) was spectacular.

Quite the presentation and it tasted incredible.  The brownie was chocolate heaven and a bite of ice cream made it that much better.  Wowee. I also had to sample the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake.

The presentation was even better than the chocolate cake. I liked the cake, but was happier with the brownie. I think I’ve had a little too much cake these days ;-)

Overall Koi was a good dining experience but nothing spectacular.  Although none of the entrées really wowed me, I’d come back for a bite of the Crispy Rice and the Rock Shrimp Tempura.  The dragon roll was so disappointing the bad taste stayed with me for longer than I would like.  If you must go to Koi, skip the Dragon Roll and double up on the Crispy Rice. The desserts were great, but not enough for a return trip. The company was of course fabulous and totally made the dinner worth it :)

Hungry yet? 

Koi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cilantro-Chipotle Tilapia

I’m trying to do better by my kitchen.  It has gotten no love these days.  I decided to see what fresh fish was on sale at my local grocer then find a recipe that featured that item.  Tilapia – you win! I searched through the epicurious app and found this recipe.   Even though it was dinner for two, I still followed the recipe for 4 and figured I could use the remaining rub another time.

1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 (6-ounces) tilapia fillets

Preheat broiler. Purée cilantro, oil, chiles with some adobo sauce, water, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth.

Coat fish with sauce.

Line rack of a broiler pan with foil, then broil fish 3 to 4 inches from heat until just cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes. Yes. It really is that easy! I was so impressed with this rub. It created a smoky spicy flavor. I served it with Cilantro Rice and plantain.

Since I prepared so much, I was able to use it on a whole red snapper a couple of days later.


Hungry yet?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My One-Year Blogiversary!!

Wowee! I did it!! A year ago today, I posted my first blog entry! I wish I had a screen grab from that entry because the blog looks sooooo different now! I got rid of the lame black background (what was I thinking?), have an awesome new logo (thanks friend!) and I’m finally starting to catalogue the restaurants and recipes (props to Y-squared for his assistance).  Feeling kinda good about how far I’ve come :) 

I thought about making a celebratory meal to commemorate the occasion, but if you can’t tell by the infrequent posting these days, work is hectic again.  I considered an uber fancy restaurant outing but reservations were hard to come by on the evenings I wanted.  So instead, I write to thank all my readers! Those of you who stop by to check out a particular restaurant review or recipe and those of you who check in daily to see what I’ve been eating totally make each entry worth it. 

I also want to give a special shout out to My Guest Blogger who has helped pick up the slack each time my day job got in the way.

Thank you all for the e-mails and comments, keep ‘em coming! Stay tuned for even more improvements as year 2 gets underway!

Hungry yet?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bocca di Bacco

Sometime last week, our schedules happened to work out and Z and I met up for a last minute dinner. We had scoped out Bocca di Bacco a few times on our random walks down 9th avenue so we decided it was finally time we went in.  The restaurant is fairly large and welcoming - mainly due to its well lit bar area and adjacent communal high table. The rest of the restaurant is fairly dark almost cavernous but in a romantic way. 

We were mostly in agreement when it came to the menu.  We shared the Shrimp appetizer.

Four shrimp inter connected and flavored with tomato sauce, garlic and a type of legume that I can’t remember.  The flavors were powerful. The shrimp was fresh and while drowned in the tomato sauce it was not overpowering.  I used the bread to soak up the sauce because it was just that good.  The service was sluggish but eventually our entrées arrived.   Z ordered the Coda Di Rospo Livornese.

Pan-seared monkfish with tomato sauce, kalamata olives and potatoes.  The monkfish was delightful! It was covered in a tomato sauce that was similar to the sauce used for the shrimp. YUM!  My carb heavy entrée was amazing.

The Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina was perfect.  Light potato gnocchi, fresh chopped tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella.  My mouth is watering just at the thought of it. The portion was large enough that I ended up taking the rest home. I had planned on eating it for lunch the following day, but I just couldn’t resist! I ate it within a couple of hours of getting home.   Just because I didn’t finish my entrée, doesn’t mean I didn’t have dessert! I ordered the Warm Chocolate Souffle.

It was served with Vanilla Ice Cream and a raspberry sauce.  The Souffle was okay – but not worth writing home about. The ice cream was also less than. Overall, I probably should have done without the dessert.  The service at Bocca di Bacco was also not spectacular.  They had several waiters who were standing around doing nothing.  I appreciate when restaurants give their patrons lots of time to enjoy the meal, but they didn’t even let us order they just stood around until we called them over.

The food at Bocca di Bacco was good, but a little pricier than necessary. I’d definitely go back – but probably on someone else’s dime. :) 

Hungry yet?

Bocca di Bacco on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Africa Kine

My exploration of the uptown restaurant scene continues. A few weeks ago I went to dinner at Africa Kine.   This was my first time going to this restaurant even though it's about a 5-minute walk from my apartment.  The Senegalese restaurant is famous for its fish special so of course we both ordered it.  Definitely lived up to the hype.

One whole grilled tilapia that was coated in an incredibly aromatic sauce. The grilled onions and peppers were cold which was disappointing but they were delicious. The white rice was the perfect accompaniment because it balanced the heavy flavors of the fish.  The boiled eggs were random but no complaints from me since they weren't runny.

The meal was delicious and actually more food than one person needs so I was happy to eat it as leftovers a day or so later. The biggest drawback was the service, but if you can focus on the food (or just get take out) you'll know it was worth your time. I'm not sure if there's anything else that I would try there but I am certainly interested in the variety of dishes and the different aromas that were floating throughout the restaurant.

Hungry yet?

Africa Kine Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 4, 2011

Harry's Italian

After a super long and extremely stressful week, there was nothing I wanted more than to eat good food while hanging with great friends.  Obvs that meant making my way downtown to see Ms. O and Mr. M. After the random wintry mix that we experienced that day, I voted for ordering in and loungin around inside. I was in the mood for Italian so when they suggested Harry's Italian, my face lit up.  After reviewing the menu we made some excellent decisions and in no time Mr. M went to pick up our meal.  I must say I'm impressed with their packaging because it makes take out photogenic. We started with the Calamari.

Very well seasoned - not greasy and accompanied with a slightly tangy marinara sauce that blended perfectly.  My mouth couldn't help but water when I saw the pizza.

I know we ordered onion pizza but I guess I didn't think they would be red onions.  They just looked. so. good! I inhaled a slice of pizza so I could make room for our pastas.  The Shrimp and Asparagus with Bowtie was an excellent choice by Ms. O.

If there's shrimp involved I'm almost always happy :) The sauce was a little thin here but it was big on flavor.  The Penne alla Vodka was incredible.

We had them de-prosciutto-fy it first but it was still really good.  Almost as good as Ms. O's. I was quite happy with our decision to stay in and indulge in some treats from Harry's. Eventually they also introduced me to Archer and now I can't wait to finish watching the first season!

Hungry yet?

Harry's Italian Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon