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Archive for the ‘Chelsea’ Category

billy’s bakery

I went to visit Katie Holme’s favorite cupcake shop!  Billy’s is usually really out of the way for me since I live and play in the East Village and LES area.  The only time I get to come to this neck of the woods is when I go to Chelsea Market, and after Chelsea Market, I’m usually too stuffed to go anywhere else.  This time, it just so happened that I was coming from the opposite direction towards Chelsea, so I finally had an opportunity to sample their infamous cupcakes. 

billy's bakery, outside decorating cupcakes

All the pastels here reminded me of Magnolia’s bakery, only more cozy.  Magnolia’s is a very strict “grr, get what you need and get out- don’t look around” type place to me, which makes sense because of the amount of consumer traffic they get.  Billy’s has a tiny seating area, bigger than Magnolia’s and smaller than my personal fave, Triple S. 

cheesecakes cupcakes

They also have a variety of cakes and cheesecakes in addition to cupcakes.  The cheesecakes looked really appetizing, but I just settled on trying just the cupcakes.  I tried the original vanilla and the carrot.   The carrot cupcake was to die for!  It was so rich and moist on the inside!  YUM!  The icing/frosting was also soo good (not too sweet) and not in the least bit hard!  The vanilla was a little on the doughy, cakey side (kinda like Magnolia’s, only not so much) so it was really good too.  I’m glad these cupcakes weren’t over the top rich or sweet.  I think Billy’s is one of my top places to get cupcakes now, but they still come after Triple S  [Sugar Sweet Sunshine].

carrot cupcake  inside of carrot cupcak

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For my birthday, Eva took me to Morimoto’s!!!  We got to sit at the omakase bar, which only seats 8 and got to watch all the chefs in action- including the iron chef himself, Morimoto.  We got there for the first seating at 6:30.  We had to take our shoes off when we got to the omakase bar.. which was really oddly set up because we basically had to climb on top of our seats and then lower ourselves into them.  Trust me, there was no sleek way of getting in or out.  The omakase bar came with bottled water service, though I believe for the amount of money we paid, it should get bottled alcohol service.  We ordered sparkling water, of course.  Our waiter/server, Dave came to talk to us about what is being offered on the omakase aka “chef’s choice” menu tonight.  We got wind of something really cool.  Apparently, Morimoto was filming Iron Chef America a little while back and he imported all these truffles from Alba, Italy for it and had a whole bunch left over after the show so he brought it to the restaurant.  In fact, in the bunch is one of the largest truffles found in the past five years; it weighs about 2 pounds!  Morimoto’s restaurant is actually right behind the Food Network studios.  Anyways, Morimoto decided to create a seven course tasting menu using these truffles for $300.  The regular omakase menu starts at $200, which comes with lobster and like one or two more courses, but we were going to get the $250 menu anyway, so we sprang for the truffles because… well.. it’s my birthday and I wanted them.

morimoto morimoto inside 
morimoto kitchen place setting

There was so much food that I forgot a lot of the specifics of our meal.  Dave neglected to repeat what was in our dishes once we got them so this is the best I could do with my knowledge combined with my dining partner’s.  We tried, we really did.  I had half a mind to call up Morimoto to speak to Dave and ask him what he served us that night, but that’s a little overboard, no?  Any help from you guys would be greatly appreciated!

Course 1: Toro tartar on a deep fried tortilla chip with baby greens on top with what we’ve deduced should be crème fraîche and black truffles. 

toro toro

We deduced the substance in the white teacup to be crème fraîche due to the fact that crème fraîche costs a buttload and we really doubt Morimoto would feed us yogurt.  This is very close to plain yogurt in consistency, texture, and taste- although much milder [I managed a taste test without touching the truffles].  Dave demonstrated that we should swirl the black truffle around in with the creamy substance and spoon dollops onto the toro and eat it like that.  You can see Dave’s handy work above.  The truffles definitely made the whole teacup taste like truffles; I ate a few spoonfuls straight from the cup.  I watched them dip the chip into a deep fryer for a few seconds and then cut them up on put the toro on top.  It makes the what I’m assuming was once having a bread like texture [it looked like a really thin paninni going in] tastes like an cracker with tons of air pockets.  Due to the air pockets, this was a light cracker, but very oily.  Meh, we only live once right?  It was hard to eat because everytime i bit into the chip, crumbs would fly all about.  It was also hard to hold after a while and I soiled my hands with truffles and crème fraîche.  The flavor combo was good though; the truffle definitely added a kick to it.  If there was no truffle, I would’ve gladly added some spicy mayo to this toro and eaten it like that.

Course 2: Seared yellowtail with aged soy sauce and scallions with white truffles

 truffling plate yellowtail

The chef laid the yellowtail and sprinkled scallions on top and drizzled everything with soy sauce.  Then, he boiled some hot oil and seared everything all that once.  The oil cooked the fish very lightly, giving it a new texture.  It’s the same way fish is made in the traditional Chinese household- Ming Tsai did a segment on it once.  My mom steams the fish with ginger and scallions, adds soy sauce and sears it with the hot oil.  It gives the fish a nice sheen and it tastes different too.  You should try it sometime.  The yellowfish was so fresh and not too salty with the soy sauce.  The truffle flavor was light and didn’t overpower the flavor of the fish. 

Course 3: Yose dofu

tofu

This is by far my least favorite dish of the bunch; I was unimpressed no matter how much truffle blankets it.  This dofu was made in the restaurant in a big clay pot and scooped into individual portions.  The chef then sprinkles some special olive oil and top with white and black truffles.  The dofu, in Cantonese is known as dau fu fa.  It’s usually a sweet treat; you drizzle liquified sugar onto the dofu, mix it up, and eat it.  Morimoto tried to make this a savory dish and… I thought it was disgusting honestly.  Dofu itself naturally has minimal flavor and as good as truffle is, truffle dofu is not.  The actual dofu was made really well- it was silky smooth and went down like milk.  I never eat anyone else’s dofu except from Tong Wu on Grand btwn Bowery and Elizabeth.  I kept trying to avoid thinking, “I could get the same quality homemade dofu for a dollar a quart in Chinatown.”  There was the tiniest bit of olive oil and since the dofu is already soft and smooth, the oil didn’t have much purpose.  Though the olive oil itself had a good strong flavor, it would have been better suited for another dish. 

Course 4: Risotto with uni [sea urchin] and a quail egg sprinkled with scallions and white truffle with truffle flavored foam on the side

risotto

Thank goodness for this risotto because it totally made up for the previous dish.  The flavors of this dish was really heavy with the cheese and quail egg.  If I had this on a regular basis, I’d definitely be asking for high cholesterol and a heart attack but it wa so good!  The risotto was all plump and fluffy.  I really enjoyed the flavors of all these ingredients mashed together.  That truffle flavored foam [I’m guessing there’s some truffle oil in there somewhere] was so good.  Why have I never had truffled risotto before in my life?!  And uni!  The uni was in the bottom of the bowl and I forgot about it until I dug it out in a spoonful and what a pleasant surprise.  The hidden egg yoke gave me a flashback of the truffle oil egg yoke ravioli I had a few weeks ago.  *mmm.   Back to this dish.  The risotto is a bit bland by itself, but with the flavors of the truffle, the smoothness of the egg, and the uni, it was golden. 

Course 5: Big eyed red snapper with black ruffles and cilantro swimming in some celery soup.

big eyed snapper

This is suppose to be the chef’s favorite fish and I can totally see why.  It was the best snapper I’ve had- everrrr.   Honestly, the fish didn’t even need any of the truffles; it was perfect alone.  It was expertly descaled and the texture was not too rubbery [undercooked] or hard [overcooked]- it was the perfect balance.  The celery soup however, kicked my ass on the first bite.  I didn’t expect the soup to be so pungantly celery-ish.  It was nuts.  Eva saw me face and was horrified.  I had that face on that looked like I just inhaled something really sour and it was beating me up.  Then, I took a second spoonful and you know what?  After the initial shock, it was actually tolerable.  Eva ended up doing the same thing- except she does brain freeze head shake thing.  She took a second spoonful and had the same reaction- it wasn’t bad.  I guess it’s kind of disheartening that the truffle really played no part in the flavor of the dish; it just seemed to be placed on top of the fish randomly.

*Course 6: 3 oz of kobe beef with a poached quail egg and mushrooms with truffle oil, topped with big slices of white & black truffles

kobe kobe 2

Here we are at my favoritest part of the meal.  The part where a non meat liker like me, especially red meat, learned to like – of all things, beef!  Once in a while, I will get a craving for a burger, but that usually means a turkey burger or a veggie burger, but I’m not really a meat person.  I just don’t really like the taste of it.  This is the best fracking meat dish I’ve ever tasted!  I think… I just like kobe beef.  =X  This is not good.  My expensive palate is just going to get me into trouble.  This is seriously where the truffles came into play wonderfully.  The taste of trufle combined with beef with mushroom and dipped in egg yolk is orgasmic.  The beef was tender and juicy, like good beef is suppose to be.  The only qualm I have about this is that the meat was a little too rare for me, but thank goodness it doesn’t look like or wobble like it was still moo-ing.  Honestly, after the first bite, I really wasn’t concerned about what stage my meat was cooked to- I just wanted to savor each and every bite.

Dessert: Truffle ice cream with candied pear, preserved pear slice, and chestnut cream in unidentifiable sugar blocks

truffle ice cream

First off, I have to say that I have no recollection of what that white block and its innards are.  Eva says chestnuts on the inside and i will agree.  I remember it was good and sweet and the white blocks that separates the cream tastes like blocks of hardened cotton candy.  I don’t generally like chestnuts, but apparently, I’m all for the cream form of it.  I took one bite of the ice cream and I was like, “whoaaa there are truffles in this!  This is truffle ice cream!!!  Holy crap!”  The truffle flavor was too overwhelming and I couldn’t eat the ice cream by itself.  The sweetness of the pear really balanced it out for me though.  Eating the truffle ice cream makes me think about the Iron Chef episodes when everyone is always trying to make ice cream out of everything and anything.  Wasn’t there some type of asparagus or fish ice cream at one point?  Bleh!  Truffle ice cream is a good concept and you could definitely taste the truffle, but it definitely wasn’t something I could eat alone.

Since Morimoto spent most of his night at the sushi bar, I got Dave to put in an order for a spicy tuna roll and have Morimoto make it for us.  I liked that he didn’t mash up the tuna with the spicy mayo for this so we could taste the actual fish.  The mayo blend he put together definitely has more kick to it than the ones I’m used to, but it was good.  I’m obsessed with spicy mayo.  There was a lot of scallions in this, which I have a slight problem with since I’m not a fan of scallions.  The ones in the previous dishes were ok because they were absolutely tiny.  

I also noticed that they only used the belly of the fish for all the sushi.  We saw one of the chefs cut off the top later and the ends of the salmon before cutting a piece for the roll he was making.  No wonder everything costs an arm and a leg!  But, there’s the proof that customers are only getting the best.

spicy tuna roll

Look!  They put together a little plate of stuff for me for my birthday!!  Aren’t they the sweetest?!  This was actually the only candle I got to blow out on my birthday, so it means a lot to me.  I didn’t get any birthday cake this year.  It’s kind of hard to believe.  Cake from Morimoto does make up for it though.  =) There was chocolate cake, espresso cake with a chocolate covered espresso bean and a tiny piece of sponge cake with green tea powder.

birthday cake

Finally…. the piece de resistance!  A picture with Morimotooooooo.  ❤  Eva and I are seriously like groupies of the culinary world- we squeed everytime he came/looked our way!

morimoto & i

birthday girl / morimoto / my friend Eva

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Truffle infused beef.  Mmm. 

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*gasp!  Alain Ducasse’s white truffle menu… for free?!!  Click to read about the Amateur Gourmet’s free truffle tasting.  I am.. all sad inside cuz I want some too!

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I had originally posted this review days ago, but WordPress decided to chew it up a bit and only bits and pieces came out.  So, here’s a recap of my original post.  Since I’ve been so mad at WordPress, [and maybe add many a non-sober nights], I haven’t been updating lately. 

For Corinne’s birthday, we thought it’d be cool to eat somewhere around her work place because we usually eat around midtown east.  Since she works in Chelsea now, I’ve got no problems with that.  Chelsea’s always coming out with new hip places to eat.  A lot of Chelsea food places tend to be attached to a lounge, which I wouldn’t go to for food [I say, just go for the atmosphere and drinks].  Corinne chose Righteous Urban Barbeque, RUB for short, and I had heard good things about it, so off we went one day after work.  The dining area is on the medium to smaller side; it seems like one of those places with long waits on weekends.  Luckily for us, it was a weekday and it was before 6PM.  The inside is very basic, and furnished with wooden tables and chairs.  There’s also a small bar area, though I’m not sure what’s on tap.

rub
outside

Corinne and I ordered a whole bunch of stuff to share.  We knew we couldn’t eat like two orders each otherselves, so we got 3 things to split between us.  We ordered half a rack of baby back ribs, a pulled pork sandwich, an order of onion strings, and to top it all off, fried oreos for dessert.  The baby back ribs were very tender and practically came right off the bone.  The half a rack came with 6 or 7 ribs; I recall not being able to finish my portion too.  They serve the ribs with white bread and a few pickles [which I ate] on a metal pizza tray.  Easy cleanup and hard to break I guess?  Before I continue with the pulled pork sandwich, I have to mention that RUB has some really good bbq sauce.  It wasn’t too tangy, like some of the store bought stuff and it wasn’t too liquidity, like I was expecting for some reason [I think it’s the squirt bottle].  RUB also provides Frank’s hot sauce for those who are fans.  The pulled pork sandwich was juicy and it was fairly easy to split into two.  The sandwich comes on a bun with some pickles on the side- nothing out of the ordinary.  I personally enjoy pulled porkwiches with cole slaw in them ever since I was introduced to them during the Big Apple BBQ.  Corinne’s not a big fan of the slaw, so we just got a regular pulled pork sandwich.  They do offer the sandwich with slaw though from what I remember; someone should try it and let me know how it is!

ribs
white bread & bbq- such southern things

pulled pork
add some slaw 😛

What we were really surprised at were the onion strings.  I thought they’d just be chopped of version of an onion blossom, but these are like the onion equivalent to shoe string fries- and you all know how I’m crazy for shoe stringed fries.  That wasn’t the part that really wowed us though.  These onion strings are seasoned with stuff!  [don’t ask me what type of seasoning.. cuz… I have absolutely no clue]  It was good enough to eat without ketchup.  But I’m the queen of condiments, so of course, I had to add the ketchup on anyways- though I did eat quite a couple without any ketchup.  We got a small order and it was wayy too much.  We kept eating it and it seemed to refill itself; the quantity never seemed to deplete!

onion strings
it was seriously never-ending.

 I really didn’t want any more food after this- but the fried oreo just seemed too tempting.  I didn’t know what to expect except for a lot of sugar.  I’ve seen these at street fairs and carnivals and such, and I was always curious about them, but I never thought I could handle it.  I like a lot of simple food, with simple flavors.  Anything too heavy, meaty, greasy, or fatty- you can count me out.  However, my love for food has overpowered my sense of self.  I’ve been eating chocolate and meat like they were my friends.  Half the time, I don’t even know what to do with myself afterwards.  Anyways, for the sake of food, I just had to try these oreos.  I liked the batter that they use.. it’s … cakey… it reminds me of that fried chinese treat with the meat stuffed inside.. [do you know what I’m talking about?].  The oreo and the cream inside is melted; they should’ve used double stuffed b/c it’s hard to locate the cream.  These come 4 in an order and are all sprinkled with confectionary sugar.

fried oreo
ya want some; i know it

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Here’s Corinne being a fatty friend.  One hand in the onion strings and one hand in the meat.  This is why we’re friends.  She also goes to Foxwoods just for the buffet.  I remember several trips to Atlantic City for the same.  No, we are not sad people. 

corinne 

And finally… here’s a pic of our sauce……

bbq sauce
this was full when we started… and we weren’t even done yet =X

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