Thursday, January 21, 2010

Muji, I Love You

This are my favourite kitchen items so I thought I would feature them as part of the making food at home process. They are all from Muji, along with the rest of my housewares and were all purchased within the last year or so. They just opened their newest location on 19th street which is super convenient. Although Muji is priced higher here in the US than in Japan, in my mind it's worth every penny. They think of everything keeping in consideration of both functionality and design. I can't even begin to tell you about my duvet cover.. it's way too amazing!

Cooking Hashi
The first is the cooking chopsticks, they are extra long and I use them to cook everything from flipping fried tofu, mixing salads and especially for cooking noodles and capelli (I don't do spaghetti).

Rice Spoon
This wooden spoon is amazing. It's the perfect thing for serving rice. It's made of bamboo, very light and so beautiful.

Rubber Gloves
I bought these last week for the first time after and honestly they have changed my life. I almost make me want to do the dishes now. They have put some kind of material on the inside which makes your hands slip in without any trouble, no more pulling gloves on! Just amazing.

16 W 19th Street
New York, NY
(212) 334-2002

The New Gitane

A few of us girls had a lovely night out at the new Cafe Gitane located inside the recently revived Jane Hotel. The manager took good care of us and we had a great table in the back. The space is beautiful, they've done a really great job with it. The servers are outfitted in stripes, how French! Our server, Frankie was shy and so adorable, we all wanted him for dessert! The food was good as usual, the menu is the same as the original. Try their fresh juices, watermelon and cucumber mint, they taste great with vodka. A full bar is a major difference from the old Gitane, which is a nice addition. We had a pre-cocktail, after a bottle of wine before we hit the town for the evening. It wasn't very busy for a weekend, I had been there the weekend before too and same situation, a bit quiet. Maybe people are still reluctant to trek it to the west village and the weekend tourists crowd haven't seemed to have discovered it yet, which is good, for us.

Café Gitane
113 Jane Street
New York, NY 10014

Happy New Year Ramen!

This was my first time back to Ippudo since the year ended. Chef Hirata has created yet another amazing ramen for January. It's a very silky pork and chicken-based ramen with a special slight yuzu taste. I absolutely LOVE yuzu and I think it complemented perfectly the chicken taste. He's definitely on a yuzu kick because he also presented a gift of a new version of chicken karage on a fried daikon chip and there was yuzu powder sprinkled on top! It left me all warm and fuzzy and ready for the chill weather outside.

Ippudo NY
65 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088

A Bottle for Your Collection

Recently I treated myself to this beautiful wine rack from Japan that I've always wanted so I am trying to fill it up with a few bottles for the next special occasion. I was in my favourite wine store, Discount Wine & Liquors on Broadway. My boy Yann always recommends the best wines. I usually go for the good and cheap but today I bought this beauty, it's an Australian Shiraz. He said it was amazing and worth $94 at another shop uptown. They are currently selling it at $29 so it's a steal. Run and grab one before they're all gone. I'm really excited to try it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Epic Dim Sum

Apparently Eloise and I (aka Mario) arranged a massive dim sum event this weekend to celebrate us all being back in New York and to ring in the New Year! Of course we didn't have a reservation so we squeezed 11 of us into a table made for 8, it was VERY cozy! The dim sum, tea and even wine (damn Belgians) flowed freely and it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning!

Golden Unicorn
18 East Broadway
New York, NY
(212) 941-0911

Pricey Pig

A friend and I wound down after the first week back at work over a few glasses of vino at this lovely little wine bar. I've walked by this place way too many times and never stepped inside. It's a little wine and tapas bar named after the most expensive pig in Spain, Pata Negra. This is one happy pig, it lives freely in the mountains eating spends it's life eating nothing but acorns, which is what gives it it's unique flavour. The meat itself was priced at $40/plate here, so we sadly didn't get it. Instead we tried the next best one, the Jamón Ibérico, which was priced at $24/plate. This pig eats acorns and grass and is cured less years, making it less expensive.

I have always wanted to try it and have done some research on the subject over the last few months. (You can only buy it at Despana in Soho and Dean & Deluca and it will run you about $150/lb!) I had always heard that it was amazing and so much better than the Jamón Serrano... and boy were they right! It was like butter, too good to be true. I can only imagine what the Pata Negra is like! When I get my next big job I'll go back and treat myself to some Pata Negra!

Anyway this place is great, the wine is wonderful and the owner is very friendly. It's now definitely one of my favourite neighbourhood wine bars!

Pata Negra
345 East 12th Street
New York, NY
(212) 228-1696

Cocoa Loco

After a great lunch at New Malaysia a bunch of us headed over to la Colombe for an afternoon pick me up cappucino. It's such a great place to just stop in because it's got seats and not just a to-go like most of the good coffee in that area. The coffee is always great but my friend tried a mocha and was a bit suprised. It wasn't what she was expecting, it was some seriously strong bitter cocoa. It's not that naughty kind of comforting hot chocolate. Just so you know.

La Colombe
270 Lafayette Street (nr Prince)
New York, NY
(212) 625-1717

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Comfort Food

Since it's so cold in New York I decided to run home today and warm up by making one of my favourite winter foods, risotto! As a kid I always loved watching my dad make the risotto's every Sunday for lunch. He would usually make this one, which we called simply "green risotto". So it's probably still my favourite one. It's very simple, just sauté sweet yellow onions in olive oil and add fresh spinach (or anything green) ... and of course add a bit of butter and parmesano at the end to give it a nice flavour and a little thickness... that's the comfort bit. It's so nice to enjoy a little warm risotto with a nice glass of vino. I recommend a nice cortese in the summer for lunch and a nice barbera for dinner in the winter. Unfortunately I am detoxing after the holiday madness and didn't have a drop of wine with my risotto tonight. So sad.

Ball Obsession

I'm so happy to be back in New York and it's time to start eating my way through 2010!

I can't believe this place has been across the street from me and I haven't been once!... until now. I walk by this little food stand every day thinking I will get it but since it's a takeaway spot I just end up always going home instead. It's hard to believe because I absolutely LOVE Japanese food, especially okonomiyaki, yakisoba and takoyaki, which is what they serve!

It was a cold rainy day before the holiday and I decided to finally try it and ordered a okonomiyaki-yakisoba combination. I brought it home and ate it there. (sorry I devoured it before I took photos!) It was super good! Okonomiyaki is a japanese pancake. There are actually a few different styles of okonomiyaki in Japan; the most common is the one they serve here which is Osaka or Tokyo-style, which has all the ingredients mixed together in the pancake mix and then grilled all together. The other distinct style is from Hiroshima and is more like 2 thinner pancake layers and all the fillings are inside like a sandwich. Takoyaki is a common street food in Japan and also commonly eaten during hanami (cherry blossom festival). It brings back so many fond memories of being in Tokyo with my friends drinking sake and eating takoyaki balls under the blossom trees. The yakisoba was really delicious too, nice and pan-fried served with ginger and nori on top. Can't wait to go back again and indulge again! I miss Japan.

236 East 9th Street (nr 2nd Ave)
New York, NY
(212) 353-8503

Vancouver Holiday Special

It's always so nice to go back home to Canada and enjoy the holidays with my family. I enjoyed my grandmother's annual Christmas turkey dinner (pictured here), with homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and even cabbage rolls! They are a special treat, a very German-Ukranian speciality of hers and I hardly even get the chance to eat them.

Vancouver is known for it's amazing asian food so I indulged as usual. I ate at my favourite restos, like Kakurenbo and also finally got to try the now very popular Ajisai, which was so AMAZING! The sushi was super fresh and so cheap! I also had some amazing local fish at Blue Water Café. I had some tasty Pho Tai at Au Petit Café with my brother Joe. (pictured below) And even had a chance to try some incredible fancy dim sum at Kirin. (also pictured) It was really incredible. I do miss the food in Vancouver! I have to say I think it's the best asian food outside of Asia.

Au Petit Café
4851 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 873-3328

2081 West 42nd Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 266-1428

Blue Water Cafe & Raw Bar
1095 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 688-8078

Kirin Seafood Restaurant
201-555 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 879-8038