Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Photography and Gluttony at Pies 'N Thighs and Best Pizza

Chicken Fried Steak from Pies 'N Thighs
I took an inspiring stroll through North Brooklyn with my mate Hong-An Tran this past weekend. We are both avid photographers and meet up every so often to make a little art, followed by a little gluttony. You can see some on my photos here and Hong-An's work over at her blog. I got to know Hong-An when I interviewed her for Slice about her beautiful photos of pizza so it was appropriate that after a few hours of exploring the North West edges of Brooklyn we found ourselves at Best Pizza.

I am sure the regular round pie was quite delicious when it was fresh. Unfortunately by the time we got to it is was beyond its sell by date. It was too dry - the cheese desiccated, the crust shatteringly crisp with no life. A disappointment but more than compensated for by the square grandma which was simply wonderful. The sauce is spiked with anchovies and perfumed with mixed herbs, the crust is crisp where it counts but also exhibited a pleasing chewiness. A great slice by any measure. As good as I suspect the regular slice may be when fresh I can't see myself choosing it over the square.

Next up we hit Pies 'N Thighs, a lovely little restaurant that I have not visited since I favorably reviewed their hamburger. I intended to get the fried chicken which is among my favorites in NYC but noticed that there was a chicken fried steak special on offer.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Steak and Pasta for Six at Morini

Another day, another White restaurant. This time the Fashionista and I found ourselves in our native downtown stomping grounds at Osteria Morini with several skinny young things from her showroom in tow. "We want the Beef Aficionado/Fashionista dining experience" they had foolishly requested a few days earlier. Not realizing what that meant and how difficult it would be to get in to their jeans the next day. This request could have landed us at any number of places - Minetta Tavern or Balthazar, one of the Momofuku restaurants, a steakhouse. But since we were six we chose Morini because it is the perfect place for such proceedings - a casual mood, great service, an ability to accommodate large parties and food that we both adore. 
Executive Sous Chef Asi Maman and the 64oz Porterhouse
Despite being renowned for pasta Morini is, even on a average day, a carnivores delight  but on occasion they run a dry aged steak for two special. I had a better idea. I called ahead and requested something bigger. Much bigger. The steaks at Morini come from my man Pat LaFrieda. I spent a month in his dry age room working on Pat LaFrieda's Big App for Meat and I knew that one of his prime porterhouse steaks from Creekstone Farms would be perfect for our needs.

I was shocked when I popped into the kitchen to visit the Executive Sous Chef Asi Maman to look at the steak in its raw state - not because of its sheer size - which must have been around 64oz, nor because of the prodigious degree of mold that covered the cut - but because of the amount of marbling on the tenderloin. It looked like a piece of Wagyu. As you might imagine a steak that size takes a little time to cook so we started off with some light snacks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Real Cheap Eats NYC: Winter Edition 2012

Corned beef hash from the Stage Restaurant
 The Winter Edition of Real Cheap Eats is live. My pick? Corned beef hash from the Stage Restaurant, details over at Real Cheap Eats.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ethereality at Marea

It was the Fashionista's birthday this past Saturday and only Marea interested her as a dinner destination. We have always loved Michael White's restaurants but since Morini opened a few blocks from her showroom she has become completely enraptured, breaking bread and wine there with alarming frequency. It is not just the food, which is beyond reproach, but also the service and attention to detail,  and,  I suspect, that both she and the chef hail from the Midwest, that have made her such a White acolyte. 
Dispelling with the menus we put ourselves in the chefs large and capable hands and he crafted a meal that ranks amongst the best we have had together, right up there with our experiences at Per Se, Jean George, Daniel et al. Marea doesn't hold quite the critical acclaim (read: NY Times stars) of these other fine restaurants but, as I hinted at in my review of the restaurant for Serious Eats back in 2009, it is equally accomplished yet is more accessible and just more fun.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Momofuku Ssam Bar - Ribsteak

It had been a while since I had eaten at Ssam Bar when I rolled in with my girlfriend the Fashionista right before an Xmas trip to the Midwest, even longer since I had eaten the steak there. So long in fact that the ribsteak, once sourced from Four Story Hill Farms, is now listed as coming from Niman Ranch. I found the steak virtually indistinguishable from the ones I had eaten at Ssam before, suggesting that perhaps the same meatlocker is being used to age the meat. But no matter, the method of preparation remains the same - it comes seared and served with a garlic confit and a heart-stoppingly rich au jus - and so does the result - it's a fabulous hunk of beef.

Service in motion
But it also takes about 40 minutes to prepare so we started off with a light snack of crab claws, mussels and ham, while quaffing a lovely bottle of Decenio Riojo. The steak was as epic as I remember it although the Fashionista was a bit annoyed that I ordered it so rare (which is to say raw). The kitchen was kind enough to re-fire a couple of the slabs for her, to her preferred (and frankly rationale) temperature of rare. We both left happy, a fine send off for our trip. Food porn after the break.