Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Yesterday, I was reading about infused spirits, and was immediately inspired to make some of my own. I've had some good ones, notably Declan's strawberry infused-vodka. To that end, I picked up some booze at the local store, got 4 1-quart Mason jars from AC Moore and some fruit from Wegmans, and here's what I made.

Jar 1: vodka with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
Jar 2: vodka with pineapple and ginger
Jar 3&4: cachaca with pineapple

I'm going to open up the berry vodka on Thursday when my wife returns from her business trip, and I'm planning on opening one of the cachaca jars on Saturday for Sean's birthday get-together. I'll make sure I post pictures!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Restaurant Review: The Melting Pot

Somewhere Stephanie had been dying to eat for a very long time. Not bad, not outstanding, but definitely not worth the price tag. Don't get me wrong, the food was good, and some of the morsels were definitely interesting (hit the jump for more details), and I enjoyed my meal and the service was fantastic. All that aside, I think I can do it better.

I'm going to do it at home with some bagna cauda along with some shrimp and lobster tail, or maybe a shabu shabu (but with a dashi stock as opposed to water). Definitely something I'm going to have to do with people over, as I find the communal nature of fondue to be rather pleasing.

Hit the jump for details.

So the way the meal works, you do things a la carte or you can get the "Big Night Out" which is cheese fondue, salad, main course fondue and dessert, which is what we went with (complete with a coupon for a free dessert - thank you Internet!).

Cheese - cheddar & Emmenthaler with beer, garlic and Worcestershire: Like I have mentioned in other posts, I am a sucker for tableside service, so I loved it when our waitress made our cheese fondue for us. Granny Smith apples were tasty with it, as was the bread. Celery was not - gross veggies

Salad - It was a ho-hum salad. La dee da.

Fondue - They recommended a cooking time of 2 minutes for all things meat, which was too much for the lobster, shrimp and steak, just right for the pork, and too little for the chicken. Steph and I agreed that the highlights were the "limoncello-balsamic sirloin" (beefy yet tangy) and the "orange-fennel pork tenderloin"... flavor profiles I'm going to try and simulate at home. Too many dipping sauces, too. Oh, they had some porcini purse that was peppery and tasty.

Dessert - Cookies and Cream: Dark chocolate, flambeed marshmellow and crushed Oreos (again, tableside service!). The highlights here was that Stephanie actually ate cheesecake (!!!) and the Rice Krispie treats were the best non-homemade Rice Krispie treats I've ever had (I like mine super-dense and compacted...which these were).

Was it worth the $$$? No. Was it worth it to make Steph happy because we've been trying to try it for a few years now, and we finally were able to get it done without anything mussing it up? Yes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nicholas, 3/27/2009

So Steph and I headed up to Nicholas for her birthday last Friday. Yet again, we were quite satisfied with our amazing meal. After the jump, I'll tell you about what we had, along with my conversation with Nicholas himself!

Unlike last year's anniversary post, I'm way too drained to go into crazy formatting. I'll just talk about what we had, what we liked, what we didn't. Also, I don't quite remember the wines we had, I just remember that they were amazingly paired, per usual. I just wish the wine captain spoke a bit louder, he was a low-talker.

Braised & glazed turnip with minced haricot vert and baby carrot salad
Tasty, and I ate the whole thing, especially surprising since everyone who reads this should know by now I am not usually a fan of vegetables that I don't prepare myself. The turnip was super-sweet, completely unexpected.

Course #1:
Lobster & Blood Orange Salad, Avocado Puree, Grilled Scallion
Right off the bat, they start sauced tableside with a blood orange sauce, which is always a win for me (I am a sucker for table presentation). I am a big fan of blood oranges, and their tartness brought the entire dish together. We didn't order the other choice on the tasting, as it had some things we were a little wary about (octopus, geoduck, jalapenos for Steph).

Course #2:
Seared Day Boat Scallops, Ginger Marshmellow, Pineapple Vinagrette
Parisienne Gnocchi, Sugar Snap Peas, Braised Artichokes

We had the gnocchi previously, and they were just as good now as they were then, if not better. The peas were bright and sweet, the artichokes were amazing, and the gnocchi...well, I need to figure out how to make gnocchi like that, as I only know how to make Italian-style. The star was the scallop, Steph's favorite dish of the night. The ginger and pineapple are a great combo, but there was also a carrot puree that was unreal. I had the scallop with each individual component, and they were all good, but then when I got them all together, it was a winner.

Course #3:
Pine Nut Crusted Halibut, Roasted Garlic Polenta, Balsamic Marscapone
Roasted Monkfish, 24 Karat Gold Nugget Potatoes, Spring Onions, Bacon Butter Sauce

I really enjoyed the halibut, with its Italian flavors. It also was served with a basil foam, which added a nice herb note without being overpowering. The monkfish was prepared excellently, but the potatoes and onions were a little eh, to be honest. Bacon butter sauce? Sign me up.

Course #4:
Braised "Pulled" Suckling Pig, Poached Quince, Cinnamon Jus
Braised Beef Short Ribs, Heirloom Potato Leek Cake, Horseradish Jus

The only course Steph and I really didn't share. She took one bite of my short rib, shrugged her shoulders, then wanted the pig back, which was fine with me. Normally I don't order short ribs out, as I've found that I usually enjoy my own recipe better than what's made out. Not the case here - absolutely amazing. Here's where are story turns fun - when Steph got up to use the lav, who walks over to pick up and refold her napkin but the chef/owner himself, Nicholas Harary. He asked how my meal was going, and I told him my deal with short ribs, but I'd want to eat his dish every night, to which he casually replied "oh, we sous vide them overnight", at which point we lapsed into talking about sous vide at home, how I should buy a FoodSaver rather than use ZipLocs, how they cook their short ribs at 160, and I got a disparaging look about my ZipLoc vacuum seal bags. However, it was fun, if only for an instant, to talk food with such an amazing and talented professional.

Brillat-Savarin, Perla Grigia, Muenster, Roquefort
Amazing, amazing, amazing. I loved the perla grigia, with its tasty truffle scent. Steph, didn't eat much (except for the muenster) so I got a double dose. So good, I love cheese.

Palate Cleanser
Yogurt Sorbet with Blood Orange Syrup
3 perfect blood orange segments with a demisphere of sorbet about a quarter-size in diameter. Reminded me of the time my mom made grapefruit sorbet, all kinds of tart and delicious.

Dessert Tasting
A quadruple-tasting of vanilla ice cream on a chocolate tuile, a mini molten chocolate cake, a black currant creme brulee, and a linzertorte. The ice cream and cake were standard the brulee was rather tasty (and excellently prepared) but the star was the linzertorte - I love it and I need to make it more often.

Yet again, the meal started off strong, peaked early, then eased out to a tasty end. I think, next time, Steph and I are going to bring friends along, go to the bar, and make everyone order something different, as recommended by someone previously. Talk about smart thinking.