Friday, April 8, 2011

The Frog and The Peach

We decided to partake in New Brunswick's Restaurant Week this afternoon by visiting The Frog and the Peach, a restaurant exactly as old as we are (if you don't know, we're not telling). One of the few restaurants offering both dinner and lunch prix fixe menus, our decision on where to dine was relatively easy. Both of us have eaten at F&P in the past and enjoyed it immensely.

As a starter we both ordered the spring pea soup with mint creme fraiche. The earthy aroma was a welcome start to our meal, and the soup had a nice kick to it that complimented the peas nicely. Unfortunately the mint didn't really come through as much as we would have liked, and we couldn't help but compare it to the absolutely divine pea and mint soup we enjoyed at NYC's Fig & Olive. Still, this was a nice start to the meal.

Again, we both opted for the same entree, Duck Confit Risotto with asparagus (none on mine, thank you), parmesan cheese, and a sherry reduction. The duck on this was absolutely superb. There were meaty, juicy pieces mixed in with ultra-crispy strips that presented a great textural balance with the creamy risotto. The parmesan cheese added a nice salty note to the dish.

At this point we couldn't cram much more in, but thankfully the desserts were quite small. We ordered both options this time, a ginger creme brulee and an Alpaco chocolate sorbet with cassis meringue. The creme brulee had a great ginger flavor, but to be honest, the dessert has never been a favorite of mine. The chocolate sorbet was incredibly rich, and the topping (what I'm guessing was the cassis meringue) wasn't meringue like at all, but it was very salty and even potent. We barely finished, and I think there was even a bit of sorbet leftover.

For $19, you won't find much better food. I wish we could go for dinner as well so I could order the chipotle glazed flat iron steak, but that will have to wait for another day.

You can check out all the restaurant week menus here, which run until April 16th.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

H-Mart dining

I headed into Edison last night to check out the food court of the recently opened H-Mart - joined by friends John and Scott (of Eat Out New Jersey), we made a beeline for the Japanese ramen stand. There are four or five different places to choose from, including Korean, Chinese, and sushi. I was anxious to try the ramen after New York City's Totto Ramen had transformed me into a noodle fiend, so the other cuisines would have to wait until my next trip.

Spicy ramen, please. Other varieties are offered (John and Scott both went with Miso ramen), but I like the peppery kick. While waiting for our meals we dined on the free samples sitting out front. The first was pork trotters, sliced up chunks of a pig's foot. The porky flavor was fantastic, although texturally there's a lot of fat and tendons which is sometimes tough to work through. The second sample was some type of sausage - we had no clue what type. Immediately the texture caught us off guard, but then the pork flavor starting setting in. It was actually pretty tasty! What was up with the texture, though? It was somewhat gelatinous, and not what we were expecting from sausage. After asking (and finding some frozen links in the store), we discovered it was a Korean-style sausage called Soondae, made with vermicelli noodles, rice, beef blood, pork feet, and other pork parts. Traditionally (yes, I researched later) it is made with intestines, so I'm curious as to whether or not they're included under "other pork parts".

On to dinner! The Miso ramen came out first along with some chicken wings the guys had ordered. I was offered one and gladly dug in - wow. These were really, really good. Super crispy, super flavorful (soy, honey, spice).

My Spicy ramen came out next. Traditional noodles and spicy broth with half of an egg, mushrooms, broccoli, bean sprouts, and some weird imitation seafood on top (which I avoided). The ramen itself was good - the broth had the kick I wanted, and the noodles were tasty as well. I'm assuming they were not hand-made in the kitchen, though - while they were good, I have to say they did not come close to meeting the incredibly delicious noodles at Totto Ramen (freshly made each night). Not a huge surprise, but it's worth noting you can absolutely tell the difference once you've had house-made noodles. The ramen was served with little sides of kimchi and pickled radish. The chicken wings were served with fries and some pickled daikon (unbelievably intense pickled flavor).

After dining we explored the store a bit and I eventually decided to pick up a few items. Vegetable, leek, and pork dumplings with some dumpling sauce to go with them. Steamed juicy pork puns (I've been craving these for a long time). Pickled radish, shelled soy beans, and milk tea - a sweet drink Scott recommended to me. I also found some honey powder (not Asian at all, but I hadn't seen it before) - apparently it can be used the same way you use sugar. Figured it was worth a shot. Elizabeth is trying to avoid processed sugar (among other things), so maybe she can use this instead. After adding some run-of-the-mill items to my cart (carrots, plantains, green tea) I checked out.

I had to restrain myself a bit from buying everything interesting I found in the store. There will be other shopping trips! I am excited to try the things I did pick up, especially those pork buns. Mmm.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NYC Restaurant Week - Winter 2011

We're finally headed to restaurant week! After looking over menus for years, we've finally booked a lunch and dinner for next weekend! For lunch we'll be dining at Tribeca's Plein Sud, followed by a dinner at Barbounia, located in the Flatiron district.

Here are both menus: Plein Sud and Barbounia

While we'll probably do a little sharing/sampling, I think I've got my meals all planned out.

Tarte Flambee - smoked baked, onion & fromage blanc
Butternut Squash Ravioli - crispy sweetbreads, toasted almonds, brown butter & sage
Tribeca - peanut butter ganache, rich chocolate cake, chocolate sorbet

Moroccan Harira Soup - lamb, chickpea, black lentil, harrisa & lemon juice
Fresh Fettucine Carbonara - duck prosciutto, duck confit, wild mushrooms & black pepper
Valrhona Dark Chocolate Terrine - sumsumia & carmelized hazelnuts

It should be a blast, and we'll hopefully have restaurant reviews for both locations sometime next week.