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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

i heart nyc, curry chocolate bar & brioche french toast (and such)

So, definite lack of blogging due to attending the Textile & Gift Trade Show at Javits all last week and then back to AC for a great weekend at the shore.  Wasn’t in the kitchen too much. 
But I went to a couple of old favorite places while in the city and 2 new favs that I’ll share.  
Started the show on sunday.. but around 2pm when I was debating what over-priced lunch at the center to force down,.. I knew it was gorgeous-gorgeous out and it was sunday! (my favorite downtown NYC day of the week).. so, instead I bolted and headed to my favorite part of the city.. Soho. ahhhh.

Where I had an amazing late sunday brunch at Balthazar.  I actually took a picture of my plate, because it was so delish and I wanted to show it on my blog.. but honestly, it looks like a train wreck.  Really not pretty.   (Besides that and the fact that my camera is out for repair.. the iphone is just not cutting it with the camera.. But I loves me iphone.. don’t get me wrong!)  Well, what I had was the Belladonna(? might be bellisimo..) eggs.. which is poached eggs on polenta abed sauted spinach & onions, then topped with a thick slab of smoked bacon & large shaving of parmesan.  Honestly, I am never let down at Balthazar.. it was amazing.  Of course with a the best toast in town, a mimosa and good french coffee.. I was in brunch heaven.  Grabbed a couple of my fav Madeline cookies to go from the bakery which is connected.. to enjoy with coffee the next day, if they last that long! 

Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Soho.  I wanted to visit this shop as months ago I watched Katrina Speak at Taste3 conference this year.  She really impressed me and showed a lot of passion for what she does.  I couldn’t wait to try her product.  You can watch her speak here, which is very inspiring.  They let you sample the bar that started it all.. Naga Bar.  Deep milk chocolate with sweet Indian curry powder & coconut flakes.  Which I loved and of course bought along with the Woolloomooloo Bar, which has roasted & salted macadamia nuts, indonesian coconut & hemp seeds.  I don’t really love milk chocolate, so I was skeptical.. but oddly enough, when I opened the Naga bar later.. it’s amazingly addicting the curry flavor and chocolate.. I ate 1/2 the bar in one sitting.   Here's a link to have some delivered.  Just do it.  You will thank me! Vosges Naga Chocolate Bar, 3-Ounce Bars (Pack of 4)
Monday night after the show... grabbed a cab and headed to Bryant park to watch Casablanca.. 
but even arriving an hour and half before start time.. it was a crazy, not my scene, crowded in the humid-sticky heat.  Taxi!!  with the a/c on I head downtown to Graffiti Food & Wine Bar that I read that just was opening on 10th st. btwn 1st & 2nd.  I wanted to go here, as more chill downtown, a cool glass of wine and a/c sounded perfect after the sweaty affair searching for a chair at the park. Another reason it’s on my hit list... the chef used to be at Jean Georges, an old fav.   And  it is said that the bathrooms are outfitted with spray cans and markers!  C’mon.. I love that.  But sad to say, I got dropped off and not open yet. damn!  Taxi!!
Decided to head to a place I know opened end of July and had heard rav reviews about.   Wakiya at the Gramercy Park Hotel,  backed and run by Nobu and his team (I think DeNiro is in there somewhere)..  and as expected, it really is an amazing chinese restaurant.  The reviews were right.  Friendly bar staff.. great menu and drink list. (I must say the decor photographs way better than it is in person, a bit too dark for my taste.. but nice feel. I think the lighting is wrong.)  I had a glass of white wine, as I am not a mixed drink-they-always-seem-too-fruity-and-sweet kinda girl and the bang bang chicken.  Both very good, enjoying the place waay too much...  I called Erika and she joined me at the bar.  E ordered the Mango martini.. with a floating star fruit and after one sip, I quickly switched over.  V. yummy and not too sweet.  A handsome guy at the bar sent over a lobster appetizer which was really good.  Said that everyone sends pretty girls drinks.  Nice. We loved it. :) Had more drinks (!) at the GPH bar, right across the lobby and discovered a new fav drink.. Pink 75.  Have to figure out what was in that!  We laughed a lot and then got in a final cab, went home and passed out, great nite. 

Wednesday night went to Bond St. for drinks and sushi.  I had been there before for drinks, but a few years ago.  Keep reading about it everywhere.. so, wanted to go again.  Ok, I know.. sushi is sushi.. lots of places make it great.. but wait, this was amazing.  Different and just remarkable.  Totally worth the cab ride downtown.   First off, cute bartender, Warren, who made it very enjoyable.. even creating a drink with Lillet & vodka for me while E enjoyed a Lychee martini off the menu.  Replacing her lychee fruit every time they disappeared, which was often! ;)  Only complaint,.. the drinks are too damn small.  I know, showing my lush side, again.  Shrimp tempura roll with a curry aoili style sauce, that was spectacular.  Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail and softshell crab rolls.. all surprisingly fresh & new.  Loved it!  Bond St. 6 Bond St. near Lafayette.  I have a feeling I will crave this sushi. 
What else noteworthy besides the show... bought a great brioche on 87th at a great bakery that I can’t remember the name of.. damn!  Between 1st and 2nd.. in the middle of the block.  Near M. Rohr’s tea and coffee shop where I got a bag of beans, their house blend.  The brioche became french toast of course!  Here’s my recipe for that. 
brioche french toast

Brioche Bread, sliced about an inch thick
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 t. vanilla extract
squeeze of 1 orange
1 t. finely grated orange zest (optional)
splash of grand marnier (optional)
1 T. sugar
butter & canola oil for skillet
In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs & milk.  Add vanilla, oj, grand marnier and sugar, blending well.  Sprinkle custard mixture with a good bit of cinnamon.  
Heat a griddle or skillet till hot.  add a little oil with butter, just enough to keep the toast from sticking. (The oil allows the butter not to burn at a higher heat)
Poach brioche slices, one or two at a time, flipping till soaked. (1-2 minutes) 
Place on skillet, flipping once when toasty brown on each side.  add more cinnamon to the custard before soaking a new slice of brioche.
Serve immediately dusted with powder sugar and with maple syrup. 
Try it next time you are craving french toast.  The eggy bread was made for soaking up the rich custard.  The orange zest says optional, but I think not.  It makes it.. the lemony-ness with the sweet syrup.. such a delish comboi!!

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