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Archive for April, 2007

bermuda- part deux!

Bermuda is famous for Bailey’s Ice Cream and there just happened to be a store not far from our resort so we had ice cream for … yes… breakfast.  Bailey’s has a very cutesy old style ice cream parlor feel and they even serve sandwiches at lunch.  There are 24 flavors, which are all made on the premises from ingredients imported from Boston.  I ordered the strawberry cheesecake with cheesecake chunks on a waffle cone.  McTwinkle had a chocolate milkshake.  Both tasted like any other brand of cheesecake ice cream and chocolate milkshake.  You don’t have to go to a Bailey’s ice cream store to try their ice cream, anywhere that has ice cream is probably serving up Bailey’s.

bailey's ice cream

strawberry cheesecake ice cream
McTwinkle getting to my ice cream before me

We also went to visit the Royal Naval Dockyards and got to visit a store solely dedicated to rum cakes.  The Bermuda Rum Cake Company shares a storefront with Dockyards Glassworks, a glass blowing shop.  They had samples of their 7 flavors of rum cakes out for customers to try; we tried them all- some of them multiple times.  McTwinkle and I decided on the banana for us and the rum swizzle for our friends back home.  It’s clever how they chose to make a cake out of their signature Bermudian cocktail.  These cakes are so addicting with just the right amount rum and banana/ rum swizzle.  We thought the coffee overpowered the rum.  The lemon was an okay choice too.  These cakes were so expensive!  I think the little one, which is not more than approximately 6 inches in diameter, cost us about $12. 

bermuda rum cakes

rum swizzle

After exploring the Dockyards and its shops, we stopped by The Frog and Onion Pub to grab some food to hold us over until dinner.  The interior was set up like a fort from medieval times with stonewall fireplaces.  Though, in honor of the dockyards, the bathroom was named the “poop deck.”  I would say this place is akin to New York’s Heartland Brewery, except with more of a unique atmosphere.  The Frog and Onion is home to the Dockyard’s own brewing company so McTwinkle and I couldn’t resist trying their beer sampler.  We were given five six ounce glasses with samples from a light “whale of a wheat” to a full bodied “black anchor porter.” 

We ordered a fish and chips platter and an order of calamari to share between the two of us.  I didn’t enjoy the calamari because I was disappointed with the batter that they used.  It wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked and it had an odd flavor that I can’t quite describe- maybe it was even the squid itself?  On the other hand, the fish and chips were mediocre but traditional and edible.  I found nothing special about our food.  Our friend, Anna ordered a burger that she found very satisfying.  It came with bacon that I stole.

inside frog & onion

beer sampler
McTwinkle and I tried the beer sampler

calamari

fish n chips

poop deck

After the pub, we ventured back to Hamilton City and had dinner at The Lobster Pot.  Hamilton City is the center of Bermudian social life; it’s where most of the cruise ships dock and where most of the shops and nightlife lies.  The first thing that caught my attention at The Lobster Pot is that we were served warm bread rolls; I think that alone gives a restaurant at least 3 extra brownie points.  I ordered a local speciality- rockfish topped with bananas and almonds- it seems to be one of those savory and sweet blends.  I’m not sure that the sweetness of the bananas and almonds really did much to the flavor of the fish.  The rockfish has a similar consistency to mahi mahi, but I can’t say I particularly like or disliked the rockfish.  It didn’t really stand out too much as a fish, like my beloved fatty tuna.   Kam ordered half a lobster that came baked all covered in cheese.  McTwinkle got the fish of the day cooked with cajun spices.  Anna had a burger at the pub earlier so she ordered some pumpkin soup.  I love the swirls in the presentation of her soup.  All the entrees came with veggies and pipped mashed potatoes on the side.  

the lobster pot

rockfish

cajun fish

pumpkin soup

lobster
not the best angle, I know

Okay, so apparently a two part post isn’t enough for Bermuda even though the place is tiny!  It’s two miles at its widest point and 25 miles at its longest.  But then again, I am a picture/fooding whore so it could explain some things.  =X

I’ll leave you with another picture of the pretty Bermuda scenary while I work on part three.  Bermuda is known for a lot of their caves with the abundance of stagmites and stalagtites.  There were two on our resort grounds alone.  You can even swim in some of them, though I didn’t do any of that.  The following two pictures are from two different caves we visited.

caves
Prospero Caves

cave monster
this cave monster character looks totally man-made

 

 

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bermuda- part one

Last month, McTwinkle and I and two of our friends went to Bermuda for a few days.  I just got my new camera at this time so a lot of the five days were spent messing around with different settings and such.  I kept switching back and forth from the point and shoot and the DSLR. 

When I got out of the airport and saw palm trees, I realized just how much I love and missed them!  Palm trees always give me a peaceful feeling inside.  Bermuda is absolutely gorgeous.  Pictures simply do not do the archipelago justice.  And the best part?  Pink sand!  Real pink sand!  It’s a result from the interaction with the coral reefs or something of the sort and gives the sand a pink tint.  Sadly, all the hurricanes are wiping them out so I was glad I was even able to see it at all. 

pink sand

Getting onto the food stuffs…

I discovered several types of new sodas that don’t exist in the US [well, I haven’t seen them here].  I turn your attention to all those flavors of Sunkist available.  There’s pineapple, strawberry, and grape!  Instead of Welch’s grape soda, there’s NuGrape.  And a local soda is the Ginger Beer- I’m told it’s suppose to be some sort of Ginger Root Beer type soda.  Sadly, McTwinkle put his foot down and wouldn’t let me have any of them!  Bah!  I want to taste strawberry soda even if it’s bad for me!

bermuda, soda

The local market by our resort is housed in … a house.  There are shutters are on the second story windows!  I wonder if the owners actually live up there.  Tony’s Fine Foods is just a local shop; the bigger supermarkets resemble our Stop & Shops- only on a smaller scale.

supermarket, bermuda

Originally, we were to stay at the Fairmont Southampton, but we ended up at the Grotto Bay Resort for several reasons; a majority of it being monetary.  When we arrived, the hotel were serving high tea, so we grabbed a cup before venturing out.  I loved the decor at the restaurant, mainly because of the palm trees inside.  I didn’t realize that anyone brewed blackcurrant teauntil I saw it here.  I love blackcurrant; Chinese people are always making blackcurrant flavored snacks.  In Hong Kong and China, there are even blackcurrant flavored Mentos!  Hmm.. for those of you who haven’t had blackcurrant, I’d say the flavor most closely resembles a cross between blackberries and blueberries.  In addition to tea, they also offered some cookies and scones as snacks.

inside hotel rest

tea table

blackcurrent tea snacks
these snacks were actually from the Manger’s Rum Swizzle Party

We also had the lunch and breakfast buffets at our resort during our stay.   Both buffets cost under $20 each per person, so in Bermuda, that is pretty much considered to be a deal.  Food is sooo expensive here because everything needs to be imported- even the milk!  The simplest entrees typically go for about $30 and up for dinner. 

Here are some photos from both buffets.  The breakfast buffet included a make your own omlette station.

breakfast buffet
the 3 across are mine =X

lunch buffet
the desert table

plate 1
mahi mahi / chicken / rice [all very yum]

fd
smoked salmon / russian salad [yum] / meat salad [meh] / potato salad

One thing that everyone always comments on in regards to Bermuda and the Caribbean Islands is that service is always so slow.  Locals are constantly dwadling and giving off a very cool seemingly carefree vibe.  They call this running on “Bermuda time.”  As a result, us hungry hungry New Yorkers who are used to speedy service suffered when it came to meal time.  

The first night, we ate at the Swizzle Inn, which serves as both a bar and a restaurant.  The Swizzle Inn has a motto of “Swizzle Inn and Swagger Out” because of their signature drink; the Rum Swizzle.  They serve basic bar food in addition to some classic Bermudian dishes, and every Friday, they feature a special bar-be-que menu.  Guess what day we went on?  Yep, Friday.  We ordered a half pitcher of the Run Swizzle made with dark rum [Bermuda’s liquor of choice], the juices of lime, pineapple, and orange, and some falernum [similar to grenadine but with ginger & other spices].  McTwinkle had the Swizzle Burger topped with cheese and bacon with cole slaw and fries on the side.  I got the baby back ribs platter with a side of salad and mashed potatoes.  McTwinkle says the burger tasted like it was made on the premises; the patty didn’t taste so much like a frozen patty made on a conveyer belt.  He could taste the ground meat.  The ribs were made with a dry rub and topped with bbq sauce.  The ribs were good but the sauce was way too much.  The dry rub alone provided enough flavor; all that bbq sauce is just excess.  The mashed potatoes, unfortunately, were a bit on the bland side. 

swizzle inn

rum swizzle 1/2 pitcher rum swizzle

swizzle burger

ribs

Since Bermuda is in the middle of the Atlantic, we had to have seafood- there was no other option.  On weekdays from 5-6:30, there’s a sushi happy hour at The Harbourfront, so we had to take advantage of that.  McTwinkle and I were starving!  I ordered us … 11 rows.  Seriously.  They were just simple small rows costing $3.95 each.  Drinks are also $3.95.  The special also comes with free miso soup.  I’ve got to say that this is probably the best deal I stumbled upon while in Bermuda.  The fish was fresh, but it didn’t particularly stand out as a superb sushi.  My friends decided they wanted desert after sushi, so they ordered a chocolate cake with liquid chocolate filling to share.  The presentation was really nice so I’m sharing a photo of it.  I was told it is as tasty as it is visually pleasing.

harborfront

drinks

sushi

desert!

I’m realizing that this post is getting to be a bit too photo heavy and too long so I’m going to break this up into two parts.  Look out for part 2!  I’ll leave you a picture of the beach for now.  😉

warwick beach

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A friend and I had lunch on the East Mezzanine of Grand Central Terminal [not Station] at Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur.  With all the natural daylight shinning thruogh, the whole place lit up through the large windows.  This is the only restaurant of Charlie Palmer’s that I’ve ever eaten at even though he owns several throughout the US. 

I looovee this space!!  I love how it’s so open and if you get a table by the railing, you can look down at all the people [like me in the mornings] running for the escalators to the MET building, or for theMetroNorth trains!  And then there are all the tourists posing and taking pictures of the clock and the ceiling.  I know that an hour later, I will be the dumbass that’s running for those escalators trying to make it back to my cube. 

metrazur

The menu is small and offers basic American fare – everything seems pretty simple and straight forward.  I did notice that even thought their website had a prix-fixe lunch menu- the menu the hostess gave us didn’t have the option on there.  I had to ask her about it before she would bring the menu over.  Our entree would have cost $19 each if it weren’t for the prix-fixe.  With the prix-fixe, three courses cost $20.12.

metrazur 001

Aside from the 3 lunch courses, we ordered 8 littleneck clams which came with cocktail sauce, Tabasco and lemon.  These were some meaty clams- see how they’re almost spilling out of the shell?  It was great and went down smoothly without too much of a fishy taste/scent.  The shucker didn’t do the cleanest job though; I tasted/saw bits of shell in some of my clams. 

metrazur 009  

I got a salad of baby lettuce, tomato carpaccio, crisp fingerlings with sherry vinaigrette for my appetizer.  My companion got the soup of the day, which happened to be white bean.  The leaves to this salad were huge- it made the salad look all fluffy; I think it was one of the only times that a salad warranted a use for my knife!  I loved the potato chips [that is essentially what they are] on top! 

metrazur 008

There is only one entree option, so the menu isn’t very broad but it was okay with me since it was my first time there.  It’s a wood grilled salmon [you can pick between salmon, chicken, or beef] with tomato paste, olive oil and served with the day’s market selection [which were mashed potatoes and string beans and carrots the day I went].  My friend got the beef sirloin.  There was a bit too much olive oil for my liking, but the tomato paste went well with the salmon.  The salmon had perfect grill marks [as you can see] and was not too over or underdone.  The mashed potatoes were remarkably soft and smooth.

metrazur 012

I realllllllly wanted ice cream so I skipped the creme brulee and ordered vanilla ice cream.  The presentation was really nice and I loved the cookie curl on top!  I stole my friend’s since he ordered ice cream too after I got him craving it.  Cookies and ice cream- who can beat that?

metrazur 026

If it’s a nice day and you have time to spare, go have lunch at Metrazur.  Ask for the prix-fixe menu!  It’s offered all year around.  It’s definitely too pricey for me to order off of the regular menu for lunch.  *sigh.  Midtown and its expensive lunches.

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Some friends and I went to my friend Benny’s favorite Italian restaurant, Via Della Pace for his birthday.  Nestled on an East Village side street, this seemed like a hidden treasure to me right off the bat.  It even looks all rustic from the outside, doesn’t it?  Sadly, much to my dismay, this restaurant was a disappointment. 

There’s a small bar off to the right when you walk in.  There were quite a few people hanging around there throughout our dinner; I’m sure it’s probably just a neighborhood crowd.  There are so many bars in the East Village- why come to a cramped restaurant for drinks?  The atmosphere is very cozy, dim, and definitely gives off a romantic vibe.  The space is small so couples are often almost hovering over each other – which some like.  This probably wasn’t the best place to try to accomodate over 10 people, but they did it. 

outside
i kept trying to wait til these people left to take a pic 

They provided each table with a bottle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping their warm bread into.  It took our group forever and a day to get settled and for our whole party arrived, so I ate a LOT of bread and I’m mighty glad it was warm and soft too.  

balsamic and olive
balsamic & olive oil = yummy combo

Browsing the menu [and from looking at Menupages earlier], I noticed that the prices for this restaurant are reallyyy wallet friendly.  A friend did warn me that the portions weren’t too big though- which is why they could afford to charge so little.  I wasn’t very hungry so I decided an appetizer and a salad would fill me up just fine. I ordered a bruschetta; the friulana, seared tuna avocado and mustard.  At first glance, this looked waayy appetizing.  Upon tasting the bruschetta, I noticed that the mustard used is just regular cheapo mustard [French’s?] and the tuna was not of the highest quality therefore the flavor suffered.  If the avocado was browning, I think I would’ve cried.

tuna bruchetta

I ordered a salad that included shaved parmesan, yellow tomatoes, italian ham, capers, and arugula in a balsamic dressing.   The greens were very shredded and I asked for no capers, but they put them in anyways.  There was nothing special about this salad; what you see is basically what you get.  There were other choices for dressings, one which was a almond and walnut dressing.  I forgot to ask for that specifically and I wasn’t asked which dressing I wanted, so I got [stuck] with the balsamic.  However, I’m not complaining about that- I do like balsamic.  I would liked to have been asked though.

salad salad

I did hear better reviews about the pasta dishes so if I ever come across eating at this restaurant again, maybe I’ll try one of them.  One particular pasta dish I heard was good is the lobster ravioli.  I was sad that this place did not live up to my standards- it could have been a potential date place!  Intimate, cheap, and candles aren’t enough.  The quality of the ingredients in the dishes I ordered [I picked at my friends’ plates too, including their baked ziti] is low/mediocre.

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dAn $80 seven course tasting menu for $55 ?  Count me in!

Eva and I couldn’t pass up this good dinner deal in the West Village.  We had 7PM reservations for Chanto and I guess it was still considered pretty early, because I was surprised to see so few people there.  While the restaurant seems small because all you see are the tables in the back and the mezzanine, there are actually a few levels to Chanto.  There’s even a designated fine dining room.  The restaurant has a full bar with a large lounge in the front, which probably means it gets to be pretty crowded on Saturday nights.  The decor and furniture are mostly deep reds and black, giving off a very intimate vibe.

chanto outside chanto bar

 Course 1: Fatty Tuna Carpaccio with a ginger sauce and watercress salad.  The fatty tuna was delicious – it was so .. smooth, it just sides down my throat!  The color of the tuna is really good too – it definitely has that vibrant zebra pattern, though you can’t see it too well here.

tuna carpacio

Course 2: Tebagyo- chicken wing filled with pork gyoza stuffing marinated in teriyaki sauce with Chinese broccoli on the side.  Teriyaki sauce is probably one of my favorite sauces- it’s like soy sauce, only better!  And you can put it on virtually anything, and is especially yummy on those greens.  I tend to be really good about my veggies and don’t eat them with any type of sauce, but this teriyaki/choy combo may be deadly.  Also, chicken wings stuffed with pork?  Wow- who thought of that idea?  Soo clever!  The flavor of the pork is preserved inside the chicken and the chicken itself was good because of the teriyaki.  This goes to show that you can make a dumpling out of anything.   

pork stuffed chicken wingchanto- pork chicken wing inside

Course 3: Sauteed miso marinated black cod- sake kasu sauce garnished with sake plum and watercress salad.  I was a fan of the fish, but not so much the sauce.  I’m not sure which element of the sauce my palate didn’t appreciate, but the favor just didn’t do it for me – it was a bit on the tangy side.  The fish was succulent and flavorful all by itself. 

chanto- miso cod

Course 4: Hashiyasume/Intermezzo: yuzu sorbet.  This more or less tastes like plain yogurt with its hint of sourness- but different.  The flavor needs a little getting used to in the beginning; it’s like nothing I’ve ever tried before.  But I think plain yogurt is probably the easiest way to explain this in both terms of flavor and texture. 

sorbet

Course 5: Specially aged charcoal grilled sirloin- served with jyaga butter wasabi soy sauce.  It seems to be a Japanese twist to the classic American potato and meat dish- but taste-wise, it just wasn’t very inventive.  The meat was cooked medium rare [on their suggestion] and was a little tough and meaty tasting for me.  The soy sauce didn’t go well with the steak because it was just too salty- I did like the large grain salt they provided- it didn’t take over the taste of the beef completely. 

chanto sirloin

Course 6: Omakase nigiri sushi.  Nigiri pieces were good, but what stood out for my friend and I were the tuna sushi pieces- they were sooo soft and flavorful, they kind of just melted in our mouths.

chef's choice sushi

Course 7: Chanto chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream.  If I was a chocolate lover, I would probably trip over myself in chocolatety happiness with this cake.  It’s rich molten chocolate on the inside and chocolate cake on the outside – with ice cream on the side- how can one go wrong with that?!  I certainly wasn’t going to let this go to waste – I mixed each spoonful of chocolate with some greentea to take out some of the sweetness just so I could tolerate this massive amount of chocolate.  In the end, I didn’t finish the cake, but I did manage to eat a good chunk of it.  The green tea ice cream was great though- it has a very strong green tea flavor.   

molten chocoo cake molten choco lava

One of my favorite things about Chanto is the plates that they use.  All the China were beautifully and intricately decorated, giving it a very classy feel.  Before Japanese Restaurant Week, I didn’t even know Chanto existed and I’ve been in the neighborhood before.  I’m glad I discovered this place and would definitely come here again.  They do seafood, regular entrees, and desserts well.

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