Sunday, May 29, 2005

Summer Saturday - Greenmarket/Street Fair

This past week, there has been absolutely nothing redeaming about the weather: cold, wet, and just all around disgusting. So when yesterday turned out to be sunny and warm, my plans to go into the office early were postponed in favor of a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket.

As Adam and I like buying organic when possible, and we're big impulse buyers when it comes to food, a farmer's market is a lot of fun. On the first circuit around the park, we just looked at everything (food window shopping...mmm), but ended up buying some fingerling potatoes and tomatoes to cook with this week.

My favorite thing is the cheese, though. I love cheese. I'm sure this comes as a big surprise to anyone who found their way to my website url. :) The brilliance of the Greenmarket is the samples. Our first stop was the Coach Farm stand. While there's something less exciting about products that you can get from Fresh Direct, but I do so love those lactating goats. Anyway, ever since the Le Bernardin goat cheese in oil from years ago (I think I mentioned this in my Le Bernardin post?), we've been looking for something similar. We ended up with a jar of small disks (like slices from a chevre log) marinated with oil and herbs. While the cheese needs to be left out for awhile to get nicely softened, and the ideal goat-in-oil wasn't herbed, it's still delicious. We also bought a tangy, smelly blue from the Cato Corner Farm stand, which is more interesting that your run-of -the mill blue (though leave it out too long and it starts to smell up the living room).

On our way back to the apartment, ladened down with the potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, some unhomogenize milk from Ronnybrook farms, and two potted herbs (lemon thyme - great on the potatoes when we cooked them later - and purple sage), we hit the street fair on Sixth Ave. I passed on crepes, fruit smoothies, and most other standard street fair offerings, but then I saw a stand with various deep fried delicacies. Now, I can resist funnel cakes and zeppoles (and all the associated memories of "Fair Day" in high school...that's right...that one day a year that we got off from school in honor of the state fair), but they were offering me deep fried oreos. They were golden and delicious on the outside, and on the inside the cookie and cream had gotten all melty and soft. I hadn't expected that the cookie would soften, but it was delicous! Things like deep fried oreos are the reason that I cannot own a deep fryer. I would fry everything. If you can eat it, I would try it fried. Mmm...fried...

Speaking of fried deliciousness eaten outside, I highly recommend hitting up Danny Meyer's Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Apparently they have amazing burgers (I wouldn't know), but one thing I have tried is their 'Shroom Burger. Essentially, it is a portobello mushroom filled with cheese and deep fried, then put on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and shake sauce (whatever that is). The fried mushroom itself is to die for, and even the tomatoes used are surprisingly ripe and delicious for food you buy from a metal shack. I like it with an Arnold Palmer (iced tea/lemonade mix) for a refreshing drink, but their milk shakes and concretes are also very good. While I've heard raves about frozen custard over regular ice cream, I can't say that I can tell a significant difference. The custard treats are delicious but not the reason to eat here. And eat here I do, practically whenever I walk by...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A break from the apartment hunt at Craftbar

I haven't blogged in months! This is disgraceful. It's part laziness/business (as in being busy), and partly because we haven't eaten out as frequently recently. Adam's still gimpy, but while on the hunt for a summer sublet for him (mostly in the Union Square/Flatiron area), we ate dinner at craftbar. The restaurant is extremely accessible, and I liked the modern, high ceilinged room.

We ate at craft almost three years ago (with Korn) the summer we were all living in NYC. At the time, we had thought the food was technically excellent but did not warrant the expense. However, I still remember how good the white beer with raspberry puree was (probably the only time I've ever ordered a beer over another alcoholic option)! Anyway, we were hoping that the less expensive craftbar would provide a similar quality at a lower price.

Our waiter was not particularly friendly, though it's unclear if he was a little shy or a little aloof. Once we told him that we didn't want anything with meat (including stocks), he did tell us what foods were not pesca-vegi friendly, though it did take more than one trip to the kitchen to make sure. The two soups and a risotto were rule out as a result, but we did find two appetizers and two entrees that sounded good.

The young pecorino fondue, pepperoncini, acacia honey and hazelnuts was excellent! This is obviously just the sort of dish I would like, but the shallow layer of cheese was a delicious balance of tangy cheese and sweet honey. Hazelnuts are put to good use here and elsewhere on the menu (dessert...keep reading). The salad with soft-cooked egg was overdressed, almost to the point of being soggy. I like egg in salad (Stone Barns does a GREAT salad that includes it), but this one was not particularly memorable. We got the house-cured anchovies on the side. I didn't bother to try them, and Adam sampled one but did not add them. However, I realize that some people really like anchovies on salad and I'm just not one of those people, no matter how lovingly made in-house those fishies are.

For entrees, one fish was eliminated because of meat stock in the broth. We ended up with a skate wing with morels and ramps (some sort of bean was removed because it was precooked in stock). A white fish (I believe is was loup de mer) was cooked with leeks, fingerling potatoes, and some sort of tomato puree. The skate was well cooked and the vegetables (morels, ramps, leeks, etc) were all good, but nothing was particularly memorable. The loup de mer was had too much pepper on it, and the tomato seemed a bit too similar to glorified ketchup.

Despite being pretty full at this point, we ordered dessert anyway. I got a carrot cake and Adam got a hazelnut flan. I should know better than to order carrot cake in a restaurant. Thanks to a family recipe from my mother's best friend, I grew up eating and making carrot cake better than anything I've ever had in a restaurant, and I am invariably disappointed. This one was not particularly moist (not particularly dry either, but I like a moist cake) and a bit bland. However, the sort of caramel and nut brittle that came with it was very good. Adam's flan came in an orange sauce with orange segments. I thought the flan was too soft, but Adam liked it a lot. The carmel popcorn that is craftbar's version of petit fours was also very tasty.

When we got our check, Adam noticed immediately that we had been charged for two of everything we'd ordered, effectively doubling our total. The fact that no one noticed this (nor was particularly apologetic when it was pointed out) was indicative of the entire meal. Not a huge deal, nothing hugely wrong, but not up to the peak of performance that makes an impression. Craftbar was good, but not great and not particularly memorable.
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