After an epic day at Coney Island, Rob and I decided to explore the boroughs for some delicious eats on the way home. I'd heard all kinds of great things about Brooklyn, so we decided to get off on a random subway stop. Bad idea. The minute we walked out of the subway there were at least five homeless people strewn about, and nothing but a shabby convenient shop. It took us all of 2.5 seconds to turn around and get back on the N train.
To get back to Staten Island you have to catch the ferry at the southernmost point of Manhattan-- Whitehall Street. With empty bellies and a craving for sushi, we wandered around the financial district hand in hand hoping to stumble upon something yummy.
The outside of Shinju Sushi looks kind of sketchy with it's neon lights and construction mess, but once you get inside it's cozy and quiet.
Rock & Roll
The hostess led us to a back corner table near a large fishtank. Minus the annoying lullaby music playing over the loudspeakers, the atmosphere was quite romantic.
To start we ordered edamame, miso soup and the shrimp & vegetable tempura. The edamame was perfectly salted and not too hard, while the tempura batter was crisp with just a touch of grease. The shrimp were enormous and tasted best dipped in soy sauce. The tempura fried broccoli was hands down my favorite. I understand that deep frying it completely negates any of the good veggie qualities, but ya know, oh well.
We didn't know what to expect when our sushi rolls came out, but we were definitely pleasantly surprised. The presentation of both rolls was simple yet vibrant with bright, fresh colored toppings. Rob ordered the Rock 'N Roll: spicy tuna, cucumber & crunch topped with avocado and tobiko. While I predictably ordered the Twister Roll: shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna.
Twister Roll, again.
Both rolls had such great textures and flavors. The spicy tuna had a nice kick to it, while the avocado added a refreshing coolness to the Rock 'N Roll. Sometimes spicy tuna mixed together can be mushy, but the softness really brought out the crunch of the shrimp tempura.
Needless to say, we left the restaurant full, fat and oh-so happy.
Check out the review I wrote on Pazza Bistro for INsite, Gainesvile's No. 1 Entertainment Magazine, here.
Owned by the Perotti brothers, the restaurant has some of the most delicious yet affordable pasta in Gainesville. They even import most of their ingredients from Italy. Don't remember the entry I wrote on their Inferno Challenge? Refresh your memory ---> Inferno Challenge
Keep checking back for more updates on my summer in New York City as well as my internship at More Magazine.
I'm going on week number three here in the big apple, and let me tell you I am spoiled rotten with all of this cooking. Louie, the gourmet chef I live with, has made it his personal mission to get me fat this summer. Why he would want to such an evil thing I don't know, but I sure am loving all of the great food.
I apologize for not being as vigilant with the blog. I've been chowing down instead. As a way of saying I'm sorry, I wanted to give you all a little peak into the heaven that has been waiting for me when I come home from work every night. Did I mention I'm working for More magazine this summer? (More has a circulation of close to 1.3 million and is for the smart & sophisticated woman between 40 and 60 years of age.) I'm doing a lot of food related things in their health department, so check back for links and cool updates.
Anywho, one of my favorite appetizers so far has been Goat Cheese & Crackers with a Concord Grape and Vanilla Vodka Compote. Fresh from the local farmers market, I've never tasted a cheese so rich in flavor. The compote added an extra tartness that worked quite well with the saltiness of the crackers.
Tonight's appetizer is one of my all time favorites. It reminds of working for Louie and Cristina when I was in high school at Great Events Catering, Key West's premiere catering company. A simple dish, Tomato Caprice is made of tomato, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes are light while the mozzarella really adds a richness to the dish.
About a week ago Louie had a craving for BBQ ribs. Boy, I'm glad he did. I have never tasted anything more succulent, moist and flavorful in my life. The Apple Cider Ribs with a Ginger Apple Slaw would put any BBQ place to shame. The secret is in the apples. It adds a wondefully sweet tang to the tender meat that fell right off the bone. I think they may have been even better the next day when I heated them up for both lunch and dinner.
Apple Cider Ribs
Now I wasn't too big a fan of the next dish, but that's because I'm not a fan of cherries. Everyone else raved about it so it couldn't have been that bad. These Cherries with Torched Cherry Bacardi Rum were served over a black and white cake ring cake from a local Staten Island bakery. You better believe I ate some of the cake and it was delicious.
Cherries with Torched Cherry Bacardi Rum
Chef Louis Scaramuzzi
Today starts the first installment of my new Sunday series "Dinner with the Scaramuzzi's." The dynamic duo have been together for 17 years and they are both masters in the kitchen. Louie was trained by the Hyatt Regency for six years, and Christina has dreamed of owning her own catering company since she was 6 years old.
They used to own Great Events Catering in Key West and the two are graciously hosting me in their three story Staten Island home with its cozy kitchen. Once you have dinner with them you won't want to eat anywhere else. Louie's meals rival any you can get in the city -- he's cooked for the likes of Jude Law, Sienna Miller, Glenn Close and President Clinton.
Tonight's food masterpiece was Sesame Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass in a Orange Miso Broth. Louie plated the fresh fish with a Bok Choy and Snow Pea Red Pepper Slaw.
To start, it was beautifully plated. I felt like we were eating in a high end restaurant instead of their kitchen, where their two adorable children were screaming and throwing rice.
I was a little hesitant because I've never had sea bass, but oh man, I'm definitely going to have to start eating it more often. It was extremely fresh (I helped carry it from the car hours before), and I think that was what made it delicious -- that and the butter of course. So flaky and moist, pieces of the fish fell away into the broth.
Chilean Sea Bass
Layered with delicate care, each bite revealed a different texture the further you dug in. First crunchy, soft and then moist, I lapped up every bit of this delectable dish. When I asked Louie for the recipe he didn't remember because he hadn't written it down.
He was inspired by the fresh ingredients and just kept throwing things in. He relied on nothing but his palette and his gut instinct. To me, that's what makes a great chef.
After working up an appetite roaming the city this summer, head to the 5 Napkin Burger for tasty, char-grilled perfection. Located in the heart of Hell's Kitchen, the decor is old school with a twist. Dozens of raw light fixtures hang from metal tracks on the ceiling reminiscent of a non-creepy meat locker. The old, white tiled walls look vintage without being dingy.
Three adults and two children can fit comfortable in the restaurant's oversized booths. (I know because I've tried.) A large bar in the back with a funky bottle display provides a focal point and adds to the fun feel of the diner.
Southwestern and Shrimp Tempura Rolls
The menu doesn't just have delectable burgers, they're also known for sushi, salads and interesting starters. We dug right in to the Southwestern Roll
The Shrimp Tempura Roll was just as good with cucumber, radish, sprout and avocado. The smooth texture of the avocado was a nice contrast with the crunchiness of the shrimp.
filled with spicy yellowtail, cilantro, chayote wrapped in a scallion soy wrapper and topped with jalapeno and tobeko. The flavors were fresh and light with just the right kick from the jalapeno at the end. It was refreshing to find a roll not completely made of sticky rice. I also really enjoyed the plating of the dish and the vibrant colors of the ingredients.
Burger for Two
For dinner I decided to split the Burger for Two. This monstrocity of meat is made with two 8 oz. beef patties, cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and 5N sauce. The beef was tender and grilled a perfect medium rare. I'm not quite sure what was in their secret 5N sauce, but it definitely added a rich creaminess to the dish.
I was this close to getting the Ahi Tuna Burger, marinated in ginger, scallions it's topped with a soy wasabi mayo and tempura fried onions on a sesame egg roll.
Tip: Want a refreshing drink for summer? Order their mojito for a minty mid-day treat.
Spaghetti & meatballs Scaramuzzi style
I've only been in New York City for about five days and I'm already absolutely spoiled. Even though I am making the heinous commute from Staten Island, I am living with gourmet chef Louis Scaramuzzi and his wife Cristina -- an equally great cook, foodie and party planning guru.
Almost every morning one of them has made me some type of gourmet breakfast. From omelets to pancakes, Louie makes food filled with robust flavors and classical influences. The best part? He makes the omelets with egg whites to reduce the fat. And Cristina? She can whip up fluffy apple pancakes topped with a sweet apple glaze in no time.
Beginning this Sunday, I'm going to post recipes, videos, pictures, tips and more of our Sunday night feasts. Every meal with them is beautifully presented and all about the complete experience. (See the photo above for spaghetti and meatball night Scaramuzzi style.)
I don't want to give too much away, so check back this Sunday for more info on the Scaramuzzi's and our first Sunday meal -- Chilean Sea Bass.
Our Salsa Loca feast.
My last day in Key West I went on a glorious double date with my best friend and her beau. She took all the photos with her point and shoot Olympus camera because I was feeling lazy.
Originally we wanted sushi, but Salsa Loca's extensive Mexican menu enticed us down near Angela St. and Duval St. Located inside Cowboy Bills, the food makes up for the bar's loud atmosphere. I could barely hear myself think, let alone carry on a conversation. The decor was eclectic, and the wooden booth was spacious. Good thing too, because we ordered a ridiculous amount of food.
I split a #14 combination dinner with an enchilada, quesadilla, burrito and two side tacos. Now I understand that you can't really mess up a taco, but these were delicious with chicken, shredded cheese, refried beans and a dollop of salsa. I prefer hard shelled tacos because of their crunchy texture, but I'm sure their soft shell ones were just as good. The enchilada mole was decent, but the burrito filled with only refried beans was kind of bland. Even though, I must say, the refried beans that came on the side were the perfect consistency.
My friends tried the Shrimp Fajita's for one, and the plate was practically licked clean. Honestly, I can't say anything because our side was pretty devoured as well. The service was a little slow on the day that we went, but the waiter also let us know they were understaffed. It's a great place to stop for a quick lunch if you're doing the Duval Crawl, but I don't think I would go out of my way to eat here again.
I prefer their old menu and location. The restaurant used to be where the Blackfin Bistro is now -- it probably should have stayed there.
During my last hectic week at home I had a lovely dinner date with one of my favorite gals, Chelsea Wells. Not only is she an extremely talented photographer (she snapped all of these photos), but she is a total foodie as well.
It took us a little while to decide where to go, but I'm really glad we picked Blackfin Bistro. Open since October 2009, Blackfin has a wide-array of adventurous tapas well worth their prices. The restaurant, located at 918 Duval St., has both indoor and outdoor seating. We opted for a cozy table with bench seating near the outside bar. The ambiance of the place was extremely relaxing and accentuated by lit tiki torches and large palm fronds.
Calamari with walnut parsley, garlic and butter.
Chelsea had eaten here before and knew exactly what to order. We opted for a lot of the day's specials because they were made with the freshest ingredients and catch of the day. We went right before closing time so they were out of Lobster Spring Rolls. Apparently they are to die for.
Instead we ordered the Calamari tossed in walnut, parsley, garlic and butter. So fresh and light, the calamari wasn't fishy at all. The texture was just chewy enough without being too rubbery. I never would have thought to put walnuts with it, but I liked the hint of flavor it added.
Five Spice Tuna Medallions w/ a wasabi cream sauce and sweet potato chips.
The next dish to arrive was one of the day's specials, Five Chinese Spice Tuna Medallions with a wasabi cream sauce and sweet potato chips. Every ingredient was great by itself, but when you made a mini tuna sandwich dipped in the glaze with a sweet potato bun, the flavors were out of this world. The varying textures of the dish made it fun to eat.
Goat Cheese Balls
My favorite dish of the night had to be the Goat Cheese Balls. I am a sucker for any kind of cheese and anything fried, so basically this meal is perfect for me. The sweetness of the caramelized onions went well with the saltiness of the chip and breading. I felt like a super fatty afterward, but it was so dang delicious.
I thought there was no way I was going to have room for dessert, but when the Creme Brulee came out my mouth started watering. The dish was so creamy and rich. I felt more and more luxurious with each spoonful.