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The Lounge at Gabriel Kreuther

February 19, 2017

Gabriel Kreuther opened a little over a year just north of Bryant Park.  The sun drenched beautiful dining room is elegant and still one of my favorite spots in Midtown for lunch.

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Fancy beautiful soft cocktails is a great start to lunch…

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Followed by a generous serving of house made silky smooth liverwurst with grainy mustard and pickled kirbies and a disc of unctuous foie gras torchon.

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From there, move onto the seasonal salad.  Like the beautifully colorful salad of acorn and butternut squash with jewel like pomegranate seeds scattered throughout below.

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There is also an entire section of tart flambees for when I am in the mood for something a little more substantial.  You can’t go wrong with the classic, made with smoked bacon, creme fraiche and caramelized onion but the hens of the woods mushroom is also a winner.  Crispy thin crust, these are made to share with the table so I still have room for the entrees.

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There are some amazing choices in the entree section.  For the winter season, the red wine braised tripe gratine with puy lentils is hearty and satisfying.  For those less adventurous, they also have one of the best duck confit I have ever had as well as at least two fantastic fish options.

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Desserts here are fantastic if you have the room for it.  One of my favorites is the grand marnier baba with fresh mango, vanilla ice cream and lime granita.  For when I am in the mood for chocolate, the rich decadent chocolate tart with chocolate sorbet does just the trick.  Just as beautiful as the dining room.

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Gabriel Kreuther | 41 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036 | http://www.gknyc.com

Between Slurps of Ramen and Crunch of Fried Chicken…

January 19, 2017

Oops… somehow I found myself so behind on the blog!  And because of an incredible and growing backlog of entries, I am forced to condense a few delicious bites from the end of 2015.

Starting with ramen slurped at a Japanese import, Mr. Taka in the LES.

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Even though noodles were priority, I can never pass up wings especially soy glazed ones.

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And for the main event, delicious bowls of ramen, from hearty classics like spicy tonkatsu and spicy miso to a suprisingly light and refreshing yuzu shoyu ramen.  Delicious and satisfied slurps heard all around the table.

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Almost clear across town from Mr. Taka on the outskirts of Chelsea is Jun-men Ramen, a welcomed addition to a ramen desert.

Not surprising, more wings and some buns this time before we dove into the noodles.

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A bowl of classic tonkatsu is kind of like a magharita pie that you must judge a pizza place by.  This bowl could make or break the whole impression.  Luckily, the bowl here didn’t disappoint.

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And for something a little more unexpected, a bowl of ramen topped with uni, porcini butter and truffle oil.  This is definitely not for the faint of heart.

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And finally we threw in a plate of Jum-men fried rice for good measure.  Laced with Chinese sausage and kimchi, this was a pretty strong contender for kind of an after thought.

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And when I wasn’t too busy slurping down bowls of ramen all across town, I took my eating adventures into the fried chicken realm.

The first stop was at Streetbird, all the way up in Harlem.  A casual rotisserie serving some pretty finger licking delicious fried bird.  Not a bad spot to meet up for dinner on a weeknight with friends who live in the UWS.

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The sides available were a little all over the place, ranged from Asian stirfry..

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to classics like a skillet full of blistered mac and cheese to cornbread and crunchy fries.

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For somewhere a little more centrally located there is of course David Chang’s Fuku Plus.  What launched as a restaurant serving only fried chicken sandwich in East Village quickly expanded to a second location in the Chamber Hotel in midtown with a much more robust menu.

In addition to the classic fried chicken sandwich with its comically outsized fried chicken to bun ratio, they also created chicken bites with a mild jalapeno sauce and a mouth numbingly spicy chicken fingers.

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Of course there is the obligatory salad, this one actually quite beautiful and photogenic with its bold colors and groupings of like colors.

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A sleeper here is the juicy Lucy, an appropriately named burger that was oozing with fatty deliciousness and melted cheese.  Served on a soft potato bun, this went down a little too easily.

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And a final look at the full spread…

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Mr. Taka Ramen | 170 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002 | http://www.mrtakaramen.com/

Jun-Men Ramen | 249 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001 | http://www.junmenramen.com/#home

Streetbird | 2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10027 | http://streetbirdnyc.com/

Fuku Plus | 15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10022 | https://fukuplus.momofuku.com/

Maison Premiere’s Secret Garden Brunch

December 4, 2016

The garden at Maison Premiere is like a little secret hide away with its canopy and whimsical garden furniture.

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It’s absolutely perfect on a fall afternoon for brunch, starting off with a cocktail or two.  One of the best is the fully loaded Bloody Caesars with fish stock.

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The spicy cocktail is best accompanied with a beautiful tray of plump oysters and clams…

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And a little seared scallop with beets and cream.

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And finally onto the entrees.  Two poached eggs with gently poached oysters on a bed of tender leeks and potatoes are served with crusty French bread.  The creamy egg yolks bursts as soon as you cut into it, enrobbing the barely cooked oysters and little jewels of trout roe.

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Another delicate choice that is a bit lighter is the absinth cured gravlax.  Served with trout roe and potato latkes, these translucent colored salty bites of fish are a sophisticated version of the typical New York brunch of bagel and lox.

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Linger over the delicious drinks in the secluded garden while soaking up the rays of sunshine.  No better way to spend the afternoon catching up with a friend.

Maison Premiere | 298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211 | http://maisonpremiere.com/

My Italy Bites: Venetian Delights

October 11, 2016

Last minute change at the end of our Italian adventure led us east.  All the way east to Venice.

We started our impromptu day trip by stumbling into Hostaria Vecio Biavarol just a turn away from the train station.  Cappuccino for both of us to perk ourselves up in order to explore the city.

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The cute little wine bar featured little nibbles and we couldn’t resist a few bites.  No reason why prosciutto and salami can’t be breakfast right?

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From there, we meandered leisurely through the windy streets of Venice for the next few hours.  Luckily, most of our walks took us away from the tourist traps but instead through some quiet neighborhoods where we found cheap wine shops and local artist galleries.  We didn’t meander aimlessly though.  I was determined to find our way to La Palanca, a small eateries a ferry ride away.

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Even though we had shown up past lunch time, there was still a line waiting to be seated at the popular restaurant.  We contemplated sacrificing the view for the sake of our stomachs but luckily, we persevered and were treated with this amazing waterside seat.

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We started lunch with a mixed seafood platter.  Filled with vinegary filet of sardines and anchovies, rich white fish salad and swordfish carpaccio so thin that it was translucent, I could have devoured another plate of these delicacies.

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We followed it up by sharing the cuttle fish special cooked in squid ink.  Served with crispy squares of polenta, these might not look like the most beautiful photogenic dish but it was a winner with us as we mopped up every last bit of the sauce with bread.

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Even though we had one less day in Milan than previously planned, this trip to beautiful Venice was just what we needed.  Otherwise, we would have missed out on the charming streets of Venice and the fantastic meal seaside.

Hostaria Vecio Biavarol | Fondamenta dei Tolentini, 225, Venezia, Italy

La Palanca Giudecca, 448, 30133 Venice, Italy

My Italy Bites: Last Bite of Piedmont at I Bologna

September 26, 2016

Our last meal in Piedmont ended up being one of the most memorable of the whole trip.  Because of a misplaced wallet and last minute cancellation of our Airbnb in Milan, we almost decided to forgo our reservation at I Bologna.  Luckily for our taste buds and stomachs, we made the right call and arrived at the trattoria/agriturismo.

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Located right outside of Asti, this family owned trattoria offers homemade regional cuisine that changes daily in a comfortable and elegant dining room.  Everything is cooked by chef Giuseppe Bologna with his mother making the pastas, a true family affair.  There was no menu, only the order of courses outlined outside of the main dining room so we simply sat down and surrendered our stomachs to I Bologna. 

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Our lunch started with a simple plate of melon and prosciutto.  The ripe honey melon slice was exquisitely sweet, a beautiful contrast to the salty almost buttery slices of cured meat.

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More sweet and savory combination appeared next in the form of sauteed mushroom and sweet peaches.

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Just as soon as we were done, a beautiful bowl of agnolotti filled with veal and pork appeared.   These delicate little handmade purses were almost too cute to eat but we inhaled them, one bite after another.

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Since there can never be enough pasta, onto the next!  Known for being the home of pesto, this particular bowl of pesto and tagliolini took pesto to another level.  Made with lemon basil, the pasta offered such an unique scent that we could not stop inhaling the aromatic scent.  This was by far our favorite bowl of pasta on a trip filled with pasta.

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We concluded the meal with a plate of bonet, a specialty dessert from Piedmont made with amaretti cookies and rum.

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A little popsicle of lemon and melon and some homemade shots of limoncello drew a period on this fabulous meal at Trattoria I Bologna.  It was just what we needed to take our minds off of the mess that was our Airbnb and to really enjoy our last bite in this lovely delicious region of Piedmont.

Trattoria I Bologna | Via Nicola Sardi, 4, 14030 Rocchetta Tanaro AT, Italy | http://www.trattoriaibologna.it/?lang=en

My Italy Bites: Trattoria Della Posta and Trattoria In Piazza

August 23, 2016

After we bid adieu to the beautiful coast of Cinque Terre, we made our way inland to the gorgeous tranquil rolling hills of Piemonte.  There was something absolutely magical and calming about the way the hills seems to leisurely unfold in front of us as we navigated often empty country roads in our tiny yet nimble Fiat 500c.  Even as I was clutching to the side of the armrest as we whipped around some ridiculously sharp corners I couldn’t help but relax.  We are in the country side now where everything slowed down with every sip of Barolo and Barbaresco and every breath of fresh air.

We settled down into our amazing agriturismo, Cascina Sant’Eufemia, a combination of working farm vineyard and bed and breakfast with a snack and a glass of Barbaresco.  And of course, a much needed nap to recuperate from the hectic pace of the first half of the trip.  Before we knew it, it was time to make our way to dinner in a tiny nearby town Monforte d’Alba near the heart of Langhe.  Trattoria Della Posta was situated in a country house that was renovated and restored by the chef owner Gianfranco Massolino.  The interior was warm and welcoming, with various rooms set up to receive diners.

As with all restaurants, dinner was offered as a set menu of five courses.  Excited to taste some of the regions specialties, we happily settled into our seats in the living room and eagerly awaited the arrival of our first dishes, a finely diced veal tartar with cheese and thinly sliced veal with cream of tuna, a regional specialty.  Even though both were meat dishes, they were both very light and refreshing, a great light start to the meal.

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We were next presented with a grilled sweet peppers stuffed with tuna cream, anchovies and eggs.

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And instead of repeating the same course, we asked instead to substitute for a colorful and refreshing salad with rabbit.

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The next course was a stuffed onion with cheese and sweet Bra sausage.  The delicious onion was cooked down until it just melted under the pressure of the knife, giving way to oozing cheese and savory sausage.  Definitely one of our favorites of the night.

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And now onto the pasta course.  First up was local specialty, tajarin with ragu.  Thin freshly made tagliatelle pasta is topped with a rich savory meat ragu.  I could have eaten an entire bowl of this tender pasta and been perfectly content for dinner.

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We were not done yet.  One last savory course, a shank of veal braised in Barolo wine.  The local wine imparted a great depth to the veal that was so powerful that the small portion felt more than adequate than the size might have belied.

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By the time we moved onto dessert, we were both quite stuffed but we must power on.  A little creme brulee and a tray of cookies to cleanse our palette.

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And because our waitress was so convincing, we couldn’t resist ordering a proper dessert.  The delicate millefeuille was layered with fresh fruit and an airy pastry cream.  It was so light that it almost doesn’t count right?

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For our second night in Piemonte, we decided to go with another local favorite, Trattoria in Piazza.  This time, we drove south west from the agriturismo and arrived in the heart of another little town, Montelupo Albese.  Trattoria in Piazza was much smaller in scale and modest than Trattoria della Posta.  The restaurant’s down home cooking that just as popular with the locals though.

We learned our lesson last night and instead of both ordering a full set of five courses, we chose to share one tasting and supplemented with a few additions.  The meal starts with focaccia and cured meats.

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Our first courses were light salads of smoked salmon and local cheese and mixed greens with poached chicken in a light lemon dressing.

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And when in Rome, we eat veal tonnata.  This time, a more rustic take on the dish, still delicious though with the tender paper thin slices of veal and a more textured tuna sauce.

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This was followed by a roasted tomato and onion tart.  Sweet and savory at the same time.

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We moved onto the pasta course with a hearty plate of flat pasta folded with a light truffle cream and mushroom.

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And no meal without a bowl of tajarin. Did I mention this is one of my favorite forms of pasta?  How can you resist the meaty cheesy strands of tender noodles that just seem never ending?

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And for our final course, we shared a delightful roast rabbit leg and loin.  This dish was finished off with shavings of white truffle that seem to dissolve the second it hits our tongue, leaving an aromatic memory.

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And finally, one dessert to share, a parfait of marinated peaches and cream topped with broken pieces of amaretto cookies.

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As it was with the previous night, once we made the reservation the week before, the table was ours for the entire night.  I love the sense of relaxation here in Piemonte where you don’t feel like you have every pair of hungry judging eyes on you as you linger over coffee at the end of the night.  You just take all the time in the world to enjoy the meal and let the night just quietly slip between you with each delicious bite.  I could stay here a little longer for sure.

Trattoria Della Posta | Loc. Sant’Anna, 87, 12065 Monforte d’Alba CN, Italy | http://www.trattoriadellaposta.it/

Trattoria in Piazza | Piazza, Via Castello, 4, Montelupo Albese CN, Italy

My Italy Bites: Eating Up and Down Cinque Terre

August 21, 2016

The five fishing villages of Cinque Terre were remote yet overrun with tourists all at the same time.  We spent a wonderful two days exploring the quaint villages that hugged the rugged terrain of northern Italian coastline.  Our first stop unintentionally became Monterroso when the ferry we hopped on at La Spezia was not able to dock near any of the smaller villages.  We hopped off the ferry in the biggest of the five villages in Cinque Terre right around lunch time so we made Gastronomia San Martino our first stop.

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It took us a while to find it in the winding and sometimes unmarked cobble stone streets of Monterosso so we were starving when we finally found Gastronomia San Martino.   This little casual pasta counter service shop was the perfect fit for a quick bite to eat.

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Daily selection of pastas and seafood salads and other savory dishes were all displayed so no need to know any Italian.  We pointed and nodded our way through our food order and found ourselves with three bountiful plates of mixed seafood salad with green beans and octopus with olives and potatoes, fresh squash and shrimp pasta and plump spinach ravioli with brown butter sauce.  We happily devoured our carb heavy meal with a half bottle of chilled white wine from the deli’s fridge.

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And for sweets, we stopped by a seaside gelato shop for some fragrant and refreshing lemon gelato before hitting the beach for the afternoon.  And as always, in a cup with a cone on top.

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We started our second day of exploring Cinque Terre with Riomaggiore, the southern most village via the train this time.  We had spent the morning roaming the farmers market in La Spezia right outside of our Airbnb so it was already nearly noon by the time we made it to Riomaggiore.

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We made a quick stop by Tutti Fritti before heading to the water.  This fry shop specializes in, you guessed it, fried goodies!  Featuring primarily fresh fried seafood with a few vegetables thrown in, this shop was perfect for grabbing a seafood filled cone that everyone seems to be enjoying throughout Cinque Terre.  The best part is that you can pick and choose which of the fried seafood you want in the cone.

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It took a little bit of aerobatics and careful maneuvering across giant boulders by the water before we found a comfortable spot in the shade to enjoy our lunch.  Just look at that beautiful view!

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We didn’t waste much time digging into our cone filled with mixed seafood, taking extreme pleasure in the plump fried sardines and anchovies.

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We supplemented our picnic with fresh focaccia bread, both classic and whole wheat, fresh local cheese and plump Italian plums we picked up in La Spezia.

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And we topped off this beautiful picnic with a few Italian sweets.

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After lunch, we continued our trek to Manarola and Corniglia.  Even though we had chickened out by taking the train from town to town, by the time we reached Corniglia, we were well ready for another break.  Lime popsicle, ice cream canoli and gelato sounded just about right for the occasion.

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And just across the cobble stoned street from the ice cream shop is a small local sandwich shop called KM0.  KM0 is focused on sourcing local meats and cheeses and other seasonal ingredients so this was a double win.

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Even though we had already eaten lunch, I couldn’t resist ordering us a sausage and cheese sandwich on focaccia sandwich to share.  It was perfect with a cold local brew.

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So there you have it, our highlights from Cinque Terre.  Casual bites featuring local ingredients and breathtaking views, there is no better way to explore the five quaint fishing villages of the Italian coast than nibbling our way up and down the coast.

Gastronomia San Martino Via San Martino 3, 19016 Monterosso al Mare, Italy

Tutti Fritti | Via Colombo 161 19017 Riomaggiore Liguria, Italy

KM0 Via Fieschi 151, 19018 Corniglia, Italy

My London/Cambridge Bites: Bone Daddies, The Eagle and Tayyabs

July 31, 2016

With only 4 short days in London, we had a lot of ground to cover.  One of the stops included slurping up some delicious rich ramen noodles at Bone Daddies late Sunday night.

We were there for the ramen on that rainy damp day but the sweet and spicy pork bones were just calling our names.  We couldn’t resist so we placed an order to gnaw on while we waited on our noodles.

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Then came the pipping bowls of ramen, tantanmen and tonkotsu, just as good as any of the best in New York.  We were happily slurping up the rich broth, glad to have popped by the shop in Soho just as they were getting ready to close for the night.

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Our culinary journey took us next to the town of Cambridge where we stopped by The Eagle for a blast from the past.  From the decor to the classic menu, it does seem like more has changed in this classic pub where scientists announced the discovery of the DNA.

One hearty steak and ale pie to start…

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And a plate of salt beef, gherkin and mustard with a bagel…

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And finally, ended the throwback lunch with a classic, sticky toffee and date pudding with clotted cream.  How much more British can you get?

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We ended our last meal in London with a trip to East London’s famous Tayyabs.  The rather large and chaotic restaurant was filled large groups enjoying platters of grilled meats and other delicious Indian/Pakistani dishes.

We started off with a few samosas…

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and paneer tikka…

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and of course, an order of their famous lamb chops, sizzling and grilled to perfection.

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What followed were a flurry of main dishes to share, including chickpea, lentil and eggplant curries…

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and I almost never leave South Asian restaurants without getting myself a plate of mutton tikki masala.  One of my favorite types of meat, these were cooked tender in a spicy tomato based sauce, perfect over rice or with naan.  A very strong note to end our British adventures on before we hop and skip across the channel to Italy.

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Bone Daddies | Various Locations | http://www.bonedaddies.com/

The Eagle | Benet Street, Cambridge, UK | http://www.eagle-cambridge.co.uk/

Tayyabs | 83-89 Fieldgate Street, London, UK E1 1JU | http://tayyabs.co.uk/

My London Bites: Saturday Mornings at Maltby Market

July 18, 2016

This is possibly the most tardy I have ever been on a post but better late than never or so I keep telling myself.  That is precisely how I found myself looking through photos from our London trip nearly a year ago.  I vowed to not let this slowly bleed over the one year mark so here goes nothing.

We spent one cloudy dreary raining Saturday morning exploring Maltby Market right off the Tower Bridge.  Nestled in a narrow alley way, the market features a myriad vendors of all types of little nibbles and bibbles.

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We peeked into the antique shops and after realizing that we couldn’t actually buy anything substantial to take back to the States with us, we settled down to properly explore the various food stalls which ranged from scotch eggs…

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… to skilled baristas pulling a beautiful cup of latte to…

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…a beautiful leg of cured ham on display.

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We were drawn in by the grilled cheese chefs and the punchy flavors they offered so one Stilton and pear grilled cheese to accompany our scotch egg please!

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And a lovely gin bloody Mary from Little Bird completes our brunch at Maltby Market.

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Maltby Street Market | Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA, United Kingdom | http://www.maltby.st

My London Bites: Worshipping Ottolenghi at NOPI

April 23, 2016

I have been obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi ever since I first visited his Notting Hill location of Ottolenghi back in college.  Owning every single one of his cookbooks was just my way of showing how much I absolutely adore the vibrant and flavorful creations that Yotam and his team churns out.  Making his newest restaurant NOPI my first stop on a trip to London back last August was not up for debate.  Not even an overnight flight and a missed connection in Ireland can stop me from making my lunch reservation at the Soho restaurant.

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We were greeted by a dazzling spread of colorful salads and mounds of bread immediately upon entering the chic white and gold eatery.  This signature arrangement was a familiar sight for those who have been to Ottolenghi.  I had not even had the chance to stop for breakfast that morning so it took every ounce of will power not to reach out and sneak away a little bite while we waited for our table.  Lucky for everyone involved, it happened almost immediately.

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The seasonal menu here is broken down into nibbles, mains as well as wide range of starters and shareable plates for the table.  Since I am all about sharing, this was the most natural place to start.  A trio of small vegetable plates to start:  chickpea and mung bean sprout salad with blue cheese, burnt eggplant with black garlic, pine nuts, and basil, and finally a chickpea salad with sweet roasted tomatoes and crumbles of feta.  The chickpea salad with roasted tomatoes was the standout with its bold and robust flavor.

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A signature at NOPI is the burrata salad with lavendar honey and peaches.  Topped with roasted mustard seeds, this touch made the dish an interesting twist on the now ubiquitous burrata.

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For our main courses, we opted for the beautifully grilled artic char served simply with herb sauce and yogurt.  Perfectly cooked to medium, the fish was as fresh as can be.

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And to accompany it, a simple dish of blistered shishito peppers.

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The ultimate star of the show that meal was the twice cooked baby chicken with lemon myrtle salt and chili sauce.  Another excellent example of simplicity at its best.  The incredibly juicy baby chicken benefitted from a long and slow cook and marinate in flavorful Asian stock and a second roast for that amazing char on the outside.  The punchy bold chili sauce was just icing on the top.

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And finally, we were ready to move onto dessert.  Salted caramel ice cream sundae with a rich chocolate sauce and crunchy peanuts for topping was reminiscent of a Snickers bar.  We did not hesitate to dig in.

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And in true English fashion, an Eton mess, NOPI style of course.  The layers of fresh strawberry, crunchy meringue, sweet rose water cream and refreshing strawberry sorbet was topped with dried rose petal for a magical touch.  Every bite was refreshing and delightfully girly.

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Now that was a lunch well worth the journey across the pond for.  The menu here kept the tradition of Ottolenghi by celebrating the ingredients in a bold and vibrant way but just that much more grown up.  And if this was any indication of my adventures in London from here on out, I can’t wait to start exploring!

NOPI | 21-22 Warwick St, London W1B 5NE, United Kingdom | http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/