Jean-Georges

If you go to New York one of the best deals you can get in terms of fine dining is the $38 dollar two-course lunch at Jean-Georges. Although it might seem a little steep for two courses Jean-Georges is a three Michelin star restaurant and I’d take two courses there over four courses in a lot of places.

View of  Central Park from Jean-Georges

View of Central Park from Jean-Georges

JG

JG

Plus you get an amuse bouche and a mignardise course at the end. Not to mention a very diverse bread basket. As for the amuse bouche it  varies but with the mignardise there are always many types of chocolate, cookies, marshmallows and pate de fruit. So reallyyy you kindof are getting four courses for $38.

AMUSE BOUCHE: For the amuse we had a toast with wild mushrooms, root vegetable soup with chili oil and salmon with pistachio pesto. All quite nice but I think the salmon was my favorite.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

BREAD BASKET: They have various types of bread; I tried the ciabatta and a Swedish rye bread. Both were excellent and the butter is of amazing quality.

Bread

Bread

APPETIZER: For the appetizers we tried the Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons which came with avocado, spicy radish, and ginger marinade. In terms of flavor these are a familiar taste profile nothing out of the ordinary but the way they cut the tuna ribbons was impressive and created interesting texture. So much tuna too.

Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons

Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons

We also ordered the Butternut Squash Soup which comes with black trumpet mushrooms. Usually I’m not a fan of butternut squash soup as I find that most have too much cream and sugar so it feels like you are eating some weird soup-dessert hybrid. This one was incredibly smooth and just the right amount of savoury with the mushrooms.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Lastly we also tried the Peekytoe Crab Dumplings that come in a Celeriac-Meyer Lemon Tea. These were pillowy and all lump crab inside, no fillers here. Together with the fragant lemon-y “tea” sauce they were quite nice. Next time though I want to try the Hamachi Sashimi with avocado, yuzu and radish as that is a constant in their menu and JG is known for it.

Peekytoe Crab Dumplings

Peekytoe Crab Dumplings

ENTREE: For entrees we ordered the Hake which came with a spicy jade emulsion and tender celeriac. The braised celeriac had great texture and taste I’ve never had it before but it reminded me of braised artichoke hearts. The spicy jade emulsion was lovely and the only thing I didn’t love was the very flaky texture of the hake but I think that’s just a personal preference of mine.

Hake

Hake

One of their largest entrees and the most picky-eater friendly entree as well is the Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken. Its a huge piece of super juicy chicken and with the cripsy crust and the rich sauce its hard not to like it.

Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken

Parmesan Crusted Organic Chicken

The last entree we ordered was a supplement to the regular menu, the Caramelized Beef Tenderloin it comes with miso butter, parsley root puree, brussel sprouts and is a $20 supplement. They always have a variation of a beef and sucking pig supplements which are usually $20 and $10 dollars respectively. Last year I ordered the beef one and got probably one of the best steaks I have eaten in my life, super charred on the outside and perfect medium-rare inside, it came with caramelized squash and a spicy butter sauce and was worth every penny. This year the steak was nice but not amazing, I don’t think it was worth the $20 price tag and the combination of flavors in the plate wasn’t that novel or fantastic.

Caramelized Beef Tenderloin

Caramelized Beef Tenderloin

DESSERT: Because we could not help ourselves we ordered a dessert course to share (this is not included in the two-course meal). Their desserts come as ‘tastings’ usually with four elements that are supposed to complement each other and all share a common theme (like ‘cherry’ or ‘chocolate’). We naturally went with chocolate and it came with white chocolate ice cream with  yuzu crumbs, milk chocolate panna cotta (the tube thing) + mango gel + smoked salt meringue +candied orange, and their famous warm chocolate cake with a vanilla bean ice cream on some other type of crumbs I forget.

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting

BIRTHDAY CAKE: We had a birthday in our midst and so we were presented with their Happy Birthday cake which is a rich multi-layer chocolate and chocolate ganache cake. Amazing. Definitely lie about it being someone’s birthday for this baby.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

MIGNARDISE: Whoops. I feel like I do this in 50% of my restaurant posts but yes did not take any pictures of the mignardise because they were promptly devoured. They included two kinds of pate de fruit, a crispy almost rice crispy-like cookie that was lavender flavoured I believe, chocolate truffles in a flavor I can’t remember, macarons and the most heavenly cloud-like vanilla bean marshmallows.

All in all a fantastic lunch experience and the service here is really top notch. There is a more formal air but everyone is very polite and friendly. Last year when we had to somewhat rush lunch because I had a flight to catch they were more than obliging. Their food is basically fine French food with Asian elements and they really nail it. No weird molecular gastronomy stunts or foams and jellies but just amazing quality extremely well-prepared food. And for $38 dollars its definitely a steal. Just make your reservations a couple weeks ahead of time.

Jean-Georges

1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023
(212) 299-3900
www.jean-georgesrestaurant.com/jean-georges/

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New York – Cronuts & The BEST Chocolate Mousse Ever

Super belated post but thought I’d upload some of the many food pics from a trip to NY a month ago. Every time we go to NY we eat. SO. MUCH. FOOD. Something like 4 meals a day plus squeezing in snacks everywhere (paninis at Eataly, the banana bread pudding at Magnolia, the Salty Pimp cone at Big Gay Al’s…). So I guess this time was no different. Part 1:

DOMINIQUE ANSEL CRONUTS:

Perhaps I am disqualified from properly judging this particular cronut flavor because I dislike things that are overly sweet (white chocolate, fudge, caramel….) but on the other hand I love dulce de leche so this should have been amazing.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Although I appreciated the flakes of sea salt to offset how sweet it was it was still SO SWEET. And very very buttery. A little too buttery for me. I had one bite and I think that was all I could eat. It’s not all bad news though, could definitely see this being delicious with the right flavor, maybe something more tart like raspberry? And it was perfectly executed, crisp shell on the outside, soft flaky layers inside and perfectly smooth dulce de leche cream between the layers. Lest ye abandon all hope.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut Innards

Dominique Ansel

189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
New York, NY 10012

http://dominiqueansel.com/

BUVETTE:

Buvette is a lovely little (and I mean little) bistro style restaurant in the West Village. We always go for their unbelievable Croque Monsieur/Madame and for the best chocolate mousse in the world.

Buvette

Buvette

The menu is fairly small and fairly traditionalist French with croque monsieurs, charcuterie, steak tartare, duck confit rillettes, coq au vin, tartinettes, etc. Portions are somewhat small too so be advised (perhaps that’s French too?). We prefer to come here for breakfast/brunch.

This time we all shared the Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto, which seems small but with the bread it becomes a more substantial meal.

Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Demolished Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Not substantial enough because we also individually ordered the Salade de Poulet which sounds boring but is actually quite nice. It comes with shredded roasted chicken, green beans, potatoes, butter lettuce and creamy mustard dressing. Probably one of the lightest things you can get at Buvette even with that rich dressing.

Salade de Poulet

Salade de Poulet

The Croques. You truly cannot go wrong with any of them. At most places vegetarian attempts of “real food” are often dismal but here the Croque Forrestier with creamy bechamel sauce and wild mushrooms is as good as the Croque Monsier with prosciutto and the Croque Madame with prosciutto AND an egg. All have gruyere and despite their apparent diminutive size these things are super rich and they pack quite the punch.

Croque Madame

Croque Forrestier with an added Egg

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

Lastly to end you must order the Chocolate Mousse. I  solemnly swear it is the best chocolate mousse I have ever tried. Incredibly rich and chocolate-y and with a texture so dense its almost chewy.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

We sneakily tried to find out what was in it by pretending to have a range of allergy afflictions and self-imposed dietary restrictions from lactose intolerance to keeping kosher in order to find out if there were dairy, eggs, nuts or gelatin in it. Sneaky. And for the record there is no dairy in the mousse itself (not including the whipped cream on top of course) and no gelatin. Hmm.

More to come and please forgive the amount of chipped nail polish in these pictures. Probably should have gone with gel nails.

Buvette

42 Grove St
(between Bedford St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014

http://ilovebuvette.com

Pickled Red Onions

I have always strongly disliked raw red onions. Even though in small amounts they can be tasty and cooked they are delicious, nothing can ruin a salad or a burger like huge chunks of raw red onion. Maybe its just me, but that sharp taste will stay in my mouth all day no matter what I eat or how many times I brush my teeth. Ick.

But pickled red onions. Those are a whole other story.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Two essential things to make raw red onions more palatable are slicing them thinly and adding an acid. For this picked red onion recipe you do both. How handy.

Pickled Red Onions

Don’t judge my handwriting.

For some reason when I think of pickling I think of boiling jars and pickling salts and all kinds of other things that I don’t really want to pursue. But luckily you really only have to do those things if you want your pickled whatevers to last more than an year. With this simpler pickling method they should be good for 3 weeks, which is fine by me.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

1. Thinly slice the onion and set apart. If you have a mandolin this would be a great time to bring it out.
2. Set aside the onions in a small bowl.
3. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the onions in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or until completely cool).
5. Once its cool, transfer it to a jar and keep in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions have even more tang and sweetness, they retain their crunch yet that sharp lingering taste is gone. Plus they turn a lovely pink color and look quite nice on everything.

Pickled Red Onions

It’s such an easy recipe and I’ve been adding them to everything. Made a stir fry with broccoli + cauliflower + kale with ginger and garlic then added the pickled onions on top. Also made a salad with arugula, roasted squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and added the pickled onions to that too. Lastly, have not made this yet (am currently waiting on the good will of the avocado ripening on my counter)but plan to make carnitas tacos with guacamole and pickled red onions. That jar will be gone in no time 🙂

TIPS:
1. Feel free to customize the spices. Thyme, rosemary, jalapenos and lime would be great additions as well depending what you’re going for.
2. And the amount of sugar.
3. If you want your onions a bit softer you can throw them into the boiling vinegar mixture for 20 seconds before draining and letting it sit until cool.
4. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or another more neutral tasting vinegar would work nicely.

Caramelized White Chocolate and Pumpkin Cheesecake

No idea what to do with that extra can (or half can) of pumpkin puree lurking around your kitchen? This cheesecake is a great way to use that and incorporate some fall flavours with a twist if you are pumpkin pie-d out from the last couple weeks. And by ‘with a twist’ I mean we add copious amounts of white chocolate and cream cheese to these so-called fall flavours.

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is based off a Nigella’s recipe for London Cheesecake. I personally like how the London Cheesecake is denser and richer than the New York Cheesecake which has whipped egg whites and less egg yolks. I do Americanize this London cheesecake by adding more sugar than Nigella does. After making this basic cheesecake batter you split it into two bowls and add pumpkin to one half and the caramelized white chocolate to the other.

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

Caramelized White Chocolate + Pumpkin Cheesecake

For the caramelized white chocolate that is a ingenious recipe from David Lebovitz. As someone who finds plain white chocolate too cloying this adds some dimension and toastiness that makes it have an almost dulce de leche taste to it. You can make the caramelized white chocolate ahead of time and you can find the recipe here.

The warm toasty notes from the caramelized white chocolate work splendidly with the cinnamon and spice in the cheesecake and sweet vanilla white chocolate offsets the more squash-y vegetable taste from the pumpkins. Or at least I think they taste kind of vegetable-y anyways.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of caramelized white chocolate
7 oz of pumpkin puree
3 bricks of cream cheese at room temperature (18 oz)
5 oz of honey graham crackers
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup of sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Process graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Add to a bowl with the melted butter and mix to combine. Line the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper then press the graham cracker and butter mixture to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Place in the fridge to set.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Beat cream cheese in a bowl until its smooth. Then add sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time and then add the vanilla and lemon juice.
3. Put a kettle or pan on the stove and heat up water.
4. Split the cream cheese mixture evenly into two bowls. To one bowl add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger then beat well. To the other bowl add 3/4 cup of the caramelized white chocolate and mix well.
5. Line the outside of the chilled springform pan with foil so that it completely covers sides. This will protect it from the water in the water bath it will be cooked in.
6. Pour the pumpkin cream cheese mixture into the pan first and then pour the caramelized white chocolate cream cheese mixture over that. Use a knife to make swirls.
7. Place the springform pan into a larger roasting pan. Pour hot water from the kettle or pan into the roasting pan around the cheesecake. Only fill it about halfway up.
8. Put it into the oven and cook for 70 minutes. It should seem mostly set on the outside but still have some jiggle in the middle.
9. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and then let it cool completely before moving it into the fridge. It should chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours prior to eating.

Graham Crackers + Pumpkin

Graham Crackers + Pumpkin

Graham Cracker Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Batter

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Pre-Baking Post-Swirling

Cheesecake Post-Baking

Cheesecake Post-Baking – Yes it cracked because I was too lazy to do the water bath. But you should do the water bath…

I think cheesecake always looks best topped with something whether it be berries or in this case caramelized white chocolate whipped cream and semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup caramelized white chocolate (remainder post making the cheesecake)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/8 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of semisweet chocolate

1. Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with the caramelized white chocolate and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Melt the semisweet chocolate with 1/8 cup of heavy cream. This can be over a double boiler but also with 30 second increments in the microwave. Mix until smooth.
3. Once cheesecake is cooled top evenly with the caramelized white chocolate whippped cream.
4. Once ganache has cooled a bit, but it still warm enough to be pourable, drizzle over the whipped cream.
5. Refrigerate.

I make this every holiday season and it seems to please both people who love pumpkin-everything and those who are less enthusiastic about pumpkin. Although I love pumpkin pie I am not one to eat tons of it because after a couple months of having both real and artificial pumpkin flavor injected into everything I get a little sick of it. This cheesecake on the other hand, for better or for the worse, I find I never grow tired of it 🙂



TIPS:
1. Obviously you can sub in pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger powder in the cheesecake if thats easier.
2. Make it a day ahead to ensure its properly chilled, cheesecake tastes so much better when its properly cold.

Sab-E-Lee

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nahm Tok

I’ve always wanted to try Sab-E-Lee having read many posts about the great quality of Thai food there. I think just mmm-yoso has about a million Sab-E-Lee posts, which all look verrry tempting.

After spending a month in Thailand a couple years ago its hard to be overjoyed with the insipid vaguely ketchup-y Pad Thai stuff that is passed off as Thai food in many places. It is also hard to will myself to drive to Linda Vista but getting a half day off work helped with that 🙂

So I stopped by the Sab-E-Lee on Ulric Rd and got some Pork Nahm Tok and their Papaya Salad to go. They have a Yum-Woon Sen salad with shrimp and ground pork on glass noodles as well as a Nam Sod Salad that sounded more interesting than the papaya salad but according to them their papaya salad is “VERY POPULAR!!!” and the use of not one or two but THREE exclamation marks won me over.

The location is verrrry small and despite them obviously being successful enough to open a second location this place is tiny and very bare bones. Don’t come here with a large group expecting to be seated right away. Or at all depending how large. The waitresses were friendly and the place was half full for lunch. I was happy to see the many kinds of chili you can top your meal with set out at the table just like we saw everywhere in Thailand.

Now for the food. The pork nahm tok was very flavorful, the pork was thinly sliced and topped with lots of cilantro, red onion, and rice powder. Could have been a little more charred but the abundance of spices and herbs guarantees its anything but bland. The nahm tok comes with cabbage and cucumbers for you to make little cabbage tacos with the pork.

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Pork Nam Tok

Cucumber + Cabbage

Cucumber + Cabbage

The papaya salad comes with green papaya, dried shrimps, sliced chiles, tomatoes, green onions, peanuts and has a very strong dressing. I personally liked it but I think people who have more reservations about fish sauce might be discouraged.

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Papaya Salad

Now the only downside: I read that their spicy levels are more legit than most Thai restaurants where a 10 is generally pretty unimpressive. So I was conservative and ordered a 4 (I would normally go with a 6). But even so the spiciness level was wayyy too high for me. For the papaya salad there are slices of Thai chili and biting into one of those larger pieces made my eyes water. I generally avoided them after that but for the nahm tok the sauce itself was pretty spicy so there was not much to do. I ate I think half of both and then just kind of drank copious amounts of water for a prolonged period of time….

I will readily admit that my spicy tolerance is kind of mediocre though as I did not grow up eating spicy food so perhaps take this with a grain of salt. I do however love hot sauce on my breakfast burritos, jalapenos in my sandwiches and have sriracha in my fridge at all times so I have somewhat been indoctrinated into San Diego’s spicy loving ways.

Pork Nahm Tok

Pork Nahm Tok

Overall despite the out-of-my-league spiciness I quite liked the food. Will be back to try the Pad See Ew and the Pork Neck Nahm Tok! Will also probably order a level 2 (the shame).

Sab-E-Lee

Two locations:
2405 Ulric Street, San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 650-6868

13223-2 Black Mountain Road, San Diego, CA 92129
(858) 780-0022

http://originalsab-e-lee.webs.com/

Bouchon Chocolate Covered Eclairs with Dulce de Leche Coconut Filling

Filled Eclair

Filled Eclair

So the Bouchon cookbook is amazing. The writing is extremely detailed and if you follow it step by step you will most likely obtain perfect results. Minus a little calibrating for finicky ovens.

Eclair

Whereas I stuck to the Bouchon recipe for the eclair dough and ganache topping I wanted to make my own filling. Having some leftover dulce de leche and coconut pudding I thought that would make a great filling. This recipe is based on Manjar de Coco, a Brazilian coconut pudding that is normally topped with prunes and prune syrup. Which sounds quite dismal but is actually pretty tasty. Here’s a traditional recipe for Manjar de Coco from Chronic Cravings.

In the traditional Manjar de Coco recipe you use a can of sweetened condensed milk but I substituted a can of dulce de leche for the condensed milk.

Manjar de Coco with Dulce de Leche

INGREDIENTS:
1 can of dulce de leche
whole milk
3/4 cup of coconut milk
4 tablespoons of corn starch
1/2 cup of coconut flakes

1. Add dulce de leche, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and corn starch into a pan.
2. Take the empty can of dulce de leche and pour two cans worth of whole milk into the pan with all the other ingredients.
3. Turn on stove and cook it on medium heat continuously stirring until its thickened.
4. Chill in fridge.

Remember that the mixture will thicken as it chills so cook until its a little runnier than you want it to be.

Now the Bouchon recipe is quite long and detailed, here is a link to it:

Bouchon Eclairs

Eclairs Cooling

Eclairs Cooling

Obviously did not use a pastry piping bag as was instructed but besides that the only other modification I had to make was that my eclairs were still not airy enough after the baking process was done so I had to leave them in for 8 minutes longer. I blame this on my oven as it tends to undercook things to a certain extent…

Slicing Eclairs

Slicing Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Filling Eclairs

Ganache

Ganache

Finishing up Eclairs

Finishing up Eclairs

Last step:

Eclair Innards

Eclair Innards

The last step is perhaps quite important because eclairs do not stand the test of time. Every moment they are sitting they are getting soggier so please make sure to assemble them right before you plan to eat them all!

TIPS:
– If you can’t find dulce de leche you can just make it yourself either by cooking it over a saucepan or by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk, see this link here.

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant II

The first time we went to Banker’s Hill we kind of have mixed reactions but loved the place and given it was new figured it just had to work some kinks out. We still haven’t been for the very enticing happy hour with $5 dollar appetizers…but we did stop by for SD Restaurant Week and I have to say this definitely won us over. Touche Bankers Hill.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

APPETIZERS: For the first course we got the Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Lentils, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade. Although I didn’t realize the crispy meant fried this was a lovely dish. The fish was super crunchy and the beluga lentils were delicious, topped off with a tangy and creamy caper remoulade this was awesome. Didn’t really get too much of the preserved lemon but still overall my favorite appetizer.

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

Crispy Pacific Red Snapper with Capers, Preserved Lemon and Remoulade

The other appetizer I tried was the Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta with Bucheron + Minted Apples on Grilled Levain Bread. Levain bread is an awesome sort of partially whole wheat sourdough and bucheron is a stronger goat cheese, it almost tastes like a mixture between brie and chevre. The bucheron was creamy and tangy and with the salty-sweet bacon citrus marmalade and crisp apples on the toasted bread this had a lot going on. In a good way. Couldn’t taste the mint on the apples but I was ok with that as I don’t know how mint would have tasted with everything else.

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta
Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta  Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

Bacon-Citrus Marmalade Bruschetta Whipped Bucheron, Minted Apples, Grilled Levain Bread

ENTREES: My entree was a Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail with Roasted Garlic Masa, Corn & Pasilla Saute with Salsa Verde. The yellowtail was just charred on the outside and perfectly pink and rare in the middle. The roasted garlic masa was similar to grits or polenta and together with the tomatoes, corn and salsa verde this was a fresh but satisfying dish with that creamy garlic-y masa.

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

Mesquite Grilled Local Yellowtail
Roasted Garlic ‘Masa,’ Corn & Pasilla Saute, Salsa Verde

The other entree I tried was Black Angus Bistro Tender with Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini & Cabernet Reduction. This was cooked nicely to the requested medium-rare and its hard to go wrong with steak, potatoes, bacon and veggies. Nothing super inventive but still very tasty.

Black Angus Bistro Tender   Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

Black Angus Bistro Tender Crispy Bacon & Cheddar Twice-Baked Potato, Broccolini, Cabernet Reduction

DESSERT: It seems to be a recurring trend for me to not post dessert photos because everyone (read: me) gets too excited and it disappears before I think of snapping a picture. Either way we got the Spiced Apple Cobbler Walnut Streusel, Salted Caramel Sauce, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and the BH ‘S’more’ Ice Cream Sandwich Graham Cookie, Chocolate Sauce, Toasted Marshmallow. Hot apple cobbler + vanilla ice cream is a classic and this was no different. Great fall dessert. The s’mores ice cream sandwich came with a swipe of toasted marshmallow to dip your ice cream sandwich in and the ice cream was studded with crunchy almonds. Although it was served a bit too frozen this was pretty great.

Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

Patio

Patio

Overall everyone really enjoyed their meals. The restaurant has a great sort of minimalist and masculine decor with all the dark accents and deer heads and whatnot. Hopefully we will get to enjoy happy hour on the patio which has a huge wall of succulents. I guess given its restaurant week its hard to comment on price but for $30 bucks this was a great meal.

CHECK:
Restaurant Week Menu $30 x 2
TOTAL: $69.94 (w/ tax)

Banker’s Hill Bar & Restaurant

2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0222

www.bankershillsd.com

Related Links:

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Now these were kind of inspired by acai bowls but mostly inspired by Jamba Juice’s Chunky Strawberry Topper fruit & yogurt parfait. Have you ever had one of those things? They are soo good. They blend strawberries, bananas, yogurt and peanut butter and then top it with fresh banana slices and granola. We had a Jamba Juice on campus and I used to have those things all the time until I realized they were 520 calories for the small ones which is more calories than a bagel with cream cheese! Therefore not really super appropriate for an in between classes snack and more meal replacement I suppose.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

So I wanted to copy this delicious little parfait with about 200 less calories.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The key to making this healthier is replacing sugar-y yogurt with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and plain fat free greek yogurt. And substituting peanut butter with PB2, a powdered almost fat free peanut butter that is a great way to add peanut butter flavor with so much less fat. I elaborate more on PB2 in this post.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries or strawberries
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons of PB2
3 tablespoons of sweetener (I used Splenda but feel free to use whatever you like)
1 banana
1/4 cup of granola
Drizzle of honey (optional)

1. Blend berries, greek yogurt, almond milk, sweetener, PB2 and 1/2 the banana together until smooth-ish.
2. Pour into bowl.
3. Top with thinly sliced other half of the banana + granola.
4. Drizzle with honey if you’d like.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The base of this parfait basically has 180 calories so if you add in the banana on top and granola on top you have a total of 310 calories (depending on the granola you use of course). A little more if you use real sugar as opposed to a calorie-free sweetener. Still its not bad right? This would make a fantastic breakfast. And you can add in a little less almond milk if you want it thicker and more PB2 if you want more peanut butterness.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The one pictured above was made with strawberries only which makes it really taste similar to the Jamba Juice version. I also made it with mixed berries (see below). I think the reason because its so purple in the pictures below is all the blueberries as well as taking a picture at night. And a lot of my granola sank into the parfait hence the few little lonely granola islands. Its a yummy and filling snack high in protein and antioxidants but still delicious with the peanut butter and crunchy granola.

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

TIPS:
– This is is a great way to get all your healthy foods in a.k.a. throw in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or flaxseed oil in the yogurt parfait mix or add in maca powder for energy! As far as topping it add in chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and/or berries. If you added in all those things you would have the ultimate omega-3, healthy fats, vitamin E, protein, antioxidants, you name it power punch.
– Add fresh sliced strawberries on top. I wish I did!

Diner en Blanc SD

Having heard of the Diner en Blanc events a couple years ago I considered going to last years for the first time it was happening in SD but ehh was too lazy and ended up not committing. This year we bought tickets fairly early on and I have to say it surpassed my expectations and I will definitely be back next year!

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc started in Paris 25 years ago and now its hosted in cities around the world, everywhere from Quebec to Cote d’Ivoire to Singapore. Basically the premise is that all these people dressed all in white (nicely I might add) bring their own tables, chairs, table decorations and food to a spot. Although mind you, you can also rent tables/chairs from them and purchase a multi-course meal as well if you are not inclined to make your own. After meeting up everyone gets on buses that will take you to an undisclosed location where the thousands of people that participate in these events will set up their tables, chairs and food and have a giant open-air dinner party. They have taken place in the Place Vendôme at Paris and they shut down Rodeo Drive last year for the one in Los Angeles. In SD last year it was at Harbor Island and this year it was in a lovely courtyard in Point Loma.

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

The meet up spot was at Balboa Park and when we arrived I was happy I wore a nice white dress because people go all out for this. Floor length dresses, all white suits, parasols, carnival masks, boas…you name it. Apparently there is an award for best-dressed person as well as best-decorated table. Originally I thought this was a more casual affair and so I was glad that I was informed that yes, you have to dress nicely and no, you can’t just eat on a picnic blanket.

So the only downside is having to carry all your stuff everywhere. Its not too bad but we did have some pot de creme desserts that tipped over and made a bit of a mess. As well as I had trouble carrying our table from the car to the bus but I would blame this more on a personal shortcoming of having the upper body strength of an 8 year old.

The bus took us around a bit, going on the freeway and then back off, around downtown, stopping in a random parking lot (psyche) and then finally to Point Loma. Although initially I was unimpressed by the location once we were in the courtyard and everyone was set up it looked beautiful. The courtyard around us also handily sheltered us from the wind so that both girls in skimpier dressing as well as tall flickering candles were well protected.

Napkin waving

Napkin waving

Once tables are set, dinner starts with a napkin waving thing. It was nice chatting to the tables around us and although we were definitely on the younger side of attendees it was cool to have a good mix of all ages and both couples that came alone and huge groups of people attending together.

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

We went with simple but elegant for our table and a bottle of rosé for libations. Also although organizers say you must purchase alcohol from them and not bring your own, EVERYONE brought their own and lots of it. Next year we will definitely be smuggling some more wine in with our food.

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

For our first course I made crostini with truffled ricottas and mushrooms. When you are cooking you kind of have to keep in mind that all this stuff has to be transported and also that it will most likely be served sort of closer to room temperature, unless you have a nice insulated mode of food transportation like I did not (does a Trader Joe’s bag count? I thought not).

Caeser Salad

Caeser Salad

For the second course I made a caeser salad with caeser-basil dressing. Also known as, I made a caeser dressing and added basil to it because why not.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

The entree was roast chicken with Meyer lemon + roasted potatoes. I followed Kenji’s recipe from Serious Eats for a perfect butterflied roast chicken with quick jus. This was awesome. And I roasted the chicken on top of a wire rack with the potatoes underneath so that the chicken spices/juices/fat/everything dripped on the potatoes and they were sooo flavorful. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, dropped them in a pan with cold water + rosemary, Meyer lemons and salt over medium heat until they boiled and then threw them in with the chicken in the oven. They were the best roast potatoes I have ever made. No lie. Sadly not as good served room temperature but will definitely repeat this recipe.

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

For dessert we had dulce de leche + coconut pudding with strawberries. This was also great and I want to make it again but with more coconut and a chocolate sauce.

So after dinner there is dancing and we were thinking of just leaving early because we are the lamest 23 and 25 year olds on the planet and have work really early. But the DJ who was playing mostly oldies throughout the dinner sneakily got people on the dance floor with the Cupid Shuffle and from that went to more upbeat music. By the end of the night people were dancing in the fountains, there was a guy running around with a bubble gun and when we snap chatted a picture of the event to a friend she thought we were at Sensation White (the rave).

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Being used to going to loud bars/clubs that mostly have just people your age and that play mostly EDM all night it was super fun to dance around to songs with WORDS that everyone knows the lyrics too. It was also great seeing people of all ages dance and even better to see both 20 year olds and 60 year olds dancing inside the fountain!

Fountain Dancing

Fountain Dancing

Bubble Gun

Bubble Gun

We stayed until the very end and of course the very last song they played was Journey. I don’t even have to tell you which one. Great experience and can’t wait to be back next year! Hopefully with leak-proof containers for the dessert and someone else to take up table-carrying duties 🙂

For more info on Diner en Blanc:
http://sandiego.dinerenblanc.info/

Doods Foods

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Doods Foods, the place is a small independent owned counter slinging burgers out of a little stand in the Tin Can bar with stellar Yelp reviews as well as cheap, cheap prices.

Now we love Burger Lounge but sometimes you don’t really want to pay $15 dollars for a burger and fries no matter how great that grass-fed burger and crispy fries are. Sometimes its ok that your burger was fed things other than grass…

The Tin Can Bar

The Tin Can Bar

Perhaps the best part is that Doods Foods is super close to us, in Banker’s Hill on 5th. When you enter the Tin Can its the ideal dive bar. Small, dark, Christmas lights, a great beer selection, a small crowd, 70s game shows on the TV and quirky live music. You order the burgers from the Doods Foods counter where it’s just one guy doing all the work. Note that if they’re pretty busy it can be kind of slow because as mentioned its one guy. You can get burgers, grilled cheese variations, sandwiches + fries and/or a salad with your burger.

Tin Can Bar

I got the Doods Burger, a classic burger a.k.a. thin patty, American cheese, tomato, onions, lettuce and chipotle buttermilk on a bolillo bun. Ok. Everything in this was very well done. The bolillo bun is AMAZING. The perfect amount of soft and squishy yet still held up to the burger. The tomato/lettuce/onions are super fresh and they also slice the onion suuuuper thinly which is nice because I for one think super thick crunchy slices of onion can completely overwhelm if not entirely ruin a burger. Lastly, the chipotle buttermilk is a nice touch, creamy and flavorful it definitely added a little twist to the otherwise classic cheeseburger.

Doods Burger

Doods Burger

Now for the bad news. The meat. The meat they use is apparently sourced from a Mexican market and its more fatty than usual chuck and super finely ground. Its definitely a little more greasy which I didn’t mind but the fact that it was super finely ground and tightly packed made the patty seem a little too mushy and too dense. The outside bites where that extra fatty chuck crisped up were nice but once those crispy edges are gone everything just seems so mushy and sadly the same cheap meat that makes the burger so attractively affordable also tends to be not so flavorful.

Doods Burger Inside

Doods Burger Inside

I got a side salad and that was good but nothing crazy. Just simple lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots and an Italian vinaigrette. I appreciated the freshness of the vegetables but I wish it had come with the chipotle buttermilk instead of the forgettable Italian vinaigrette.

Doods Foods side salad

Doods Foods side salad

The other more daring burger they have is the Flying Cheeseburger. This baby is a double patty, double American cheese, double bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, chipotle buttermilk on bolillo bun MONSTER. Definitely a generous portion of everything but sadly the already kindof extra greasy pattys paired with all the bacon and extra cheese and whatnot makes this a super greasy mess. Tasty but hard to finish and afterwords you definitely feel a pang of regret for eating the whole damn thing. But then again maybe that’s how people like to feel after polishing off such a huge thing?

Flying Cheeseburger

Flying Cheeseburger

The fries are ok, a little too crispy/greasy for me.

Overall, I think Doods Foods is doing everything right except for the meat they use. Its definitely not a bad burger at all but it could be PHENOMENAL with a better meat selection. Then again that might be why the prices are relatively cheap compared to Burger Lounge.

Despite not entirely fulfilling our burger dreams I can’t help hoping that this place improves the meat and really nails it. Sitting in this hipster-ish little dive bar under the green glow of Christmas lights talking to the super friendly bartender, drinking good beer and listening to a girl sing about her crappy boyfriend from Riverside I can’t wait to be back and have a really great burger to top the whole experience off.

CHECK:
Doods Burger $4
Flying Cheeseburger $8
TOTAL w/ tax: $12.96

Doods Foods

1863 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 381-2756

https://www.facebook.com/doodsfoods