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Suggestions for the best meal of my family's life: money's (almost) no object

EVERYBODY! Thank you so much!

Truly enjoyed the exchanges (even if they weren't totally relevant to my question haha), and I think I might try to go for EMP.

What I said OMG experience, I really meant as much as possible. We are discriminating and critical eaters, but we love food first and foremost. None of us are looking for true spiritual enlightenment through food... only something that we won't likely have again for a very, very long while. Sorry to overstate!

Thanks thanks thanks!!!! If my little plan actually works, I will post photos.

Jun 15, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Suggestions for the best meal of my family's life: money's (almost) no object

I'm planning on taking three of my family members out to hopefully the best meal ever, and money is (nearly) no object. I'd like to keep it between $700 and $1,000 for four people total. If that includes gratuity, perfect. If it's a little over, I'm still open.

I've been eyeing the usual suspects: Eleven Madison Park and Daniel (both on the higher end of my budget), Del Posto, even Sushi Yasuda, although I'd much rather spring for an experience at a real 'restaurant' (like the former two). But nobody's squeamish and we're all fairly adventurous eaters.

Genuinely looking for an OMG experience we'll really remember -- not gimmicky, but really wonderful food and service.

They've all been so good and generous to me over the years, and I can finally give something back! I don't want it to be a "meh" kind of thing...

Any and all suggestions most welcome.

Thank you!!!

Jun 11, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Desperately seeking wild strawberries, to buy or pick

Thanks to you both!!! Excited to follow up your tips! Hooray for strawberries!

May 21, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Desperately seeking wild strawberries, to buy or pick

Hello!

Evidently, information about where to buy -- or preferably where to pick -- wild strawberries is the single category of information not indexed by Google. Im looking for legit wild strawberries: tiny, red, explosive with flavor...

I'd love to find a known place to pick them myself, or even instructions for how to locate and identify a place.

100% willing to go beyond New York into CT or NJ or even PA. I'm simply dying for these little guys!!

I hear that sometimes Whole Foods or the greenmarkets will carry them, but I'd love a little weekend berry picking adventure if possible (posting this in Manhattan because I live here, and ideally would like to find something fairly local and more or less accessible, perhaps with a Zipcar if need be).

If anybody can help point me in the right direction that would be amazing. Thanks hounds!

May 20, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Challenge: Fantastic Group Dinner Spot? Help Please!

Thanks to all replies so far! Mercadito looks perfect for cuisine and price. I've been there once a year or so back, and I remember the portions and the space were both teeny tiny! I will call to make sure they could fit my group, but that might be the winner!

Supper also looks great. I reached out to them to check out their group menu.

Thanks again everyone!

P.S. Roberta's looks delish but I think we need more than their menu has, and we'd also like to stay in Manhattan... sorry forgot that on the list!

Apr 09, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Cha Siu Bao Recipe?

I'm not sure if you've picked up Andrea Nguyens book yet, but if you are even remotely competent with baking, you will have great success with her dough for buns, steamed, baked, and pan fried.

Apr 07, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Challenge: Fantastic Group Dinner Spot? Help Please!

Hi there!

I'm taking my vegetarian girlfriend (eats seafood and eggs but prefers dishes moslty without them) and about 10 or 12 other people out for a group dinner the first week in May. We will be less than 15 people most likely (all in our mid/late 20s), and it will ideally be on a Monday (which I mention only because I'm finding that many restaurants are not open on Monday!)...

Basic criteria:
- Around (hopefully less than) $100/p after wine and gratuity
- group dining menu (as opposed to all ordering individually)
- vegetarian friendly, simple, and delicious (I've had my eye on both Suenos and Zi'Pep; the former isn't open on Mondays and the latter doesn't have a group dining menu... I've also looked at Co, the pizza place in Chelsea, but they have very strange timing restrictions)

Bonus:
- churros on the dessert menu
- fun or otherwise unusually cool atmosphere (not necessarily upscale)

Any ideas?! I'd be extremely grateful for any help!

Thanks hounds!!!

Apr 07, 2012
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Best places to buy frozen dim sum - Chinatown

Thanks so much for the tips!! I have all manner of steamer as well as a killer Asian (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese) pantry. This is the last piece to the puzzle. Thanks thanks thanks!

Nov 13, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Best places to buy frozen dim sum - Chinatown

Thanks to you both! I'll check all these places out.

Nov 10, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Best places to buy frozen dim sum - Chinatown

I have a lifelong hankering for Char Siu Sou, the flaky baked version of char siu bao. I've tried to find recipes, tried to make it myself using conventional puff pastry: no luck... ANYWHERE.

In Chinatown, at some of the dim sum places, I know you can pick up frozen steamed buns and siu mai, so you can take it home and make it 'fresh' yourself. BUT... does anybody know where to get frozen char siu sou? I'd prefer Chinatown in Manhattan but I'd journey to any of the outer boroughs if necessary.

As a distant secondary objective, does anybody have opinions on the best frozen dim sum in general? I DO get to dim sum frequently, but it's those off hour cravings I just can't seem to shake. (My personal bible is Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings, but it's tough to muster the strength to whip up a batch of scratch made dumplings when the cravings hit at midnight or a lazy day).

Thank you!!!

Nov 08, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Need a source for great Char Siu Pork

I'm making buns from Andrea Nguyen's superb cookbook Asian Dumplings. I've had great success with her other recipes... The ONLY issue I have is that her recipe for char siu pork -- while delicious -- simply isnt the same as in Chinatown.

So rather than mess around with the recipes, I figure I'd just pick up some of the real thing, hanging in the windows in Chinatown. Anybody know which shop has the best stuff?

As a bonus, if you have a recipe for the char siu bao filling (the sauce/cornstarch mix that you combine with the chopped char siu to make the filling for the buns) I'm all ears.

Immensely grateful for any help!

Aug 15, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Cha Siu Bao Recipe?

i'm only 8 years late to this one, but figured i'd give it a shot.

david: Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings will serve you well. her recipes for both steamed and baked buns come out beautifully. the steamed are white, fluffy, airy, and perfect. the baked dough is simultaneously moist, chewy, tender, flakey, sturdy, and glazed. it's a wonderful book, and her bao recipes are the easy highlight. she DOES use AP flour, and yeast, but also include baking powder, which keeps the dough doubly airy and light. she gives the OK to bleached, and recommends Gold Medal. I followed her recommendations, and the recipe, and i was immensely pleased.

i dont have the time to type up the whole deal, but i strongly advise you (and everybody else) go gets a copy of her book! one caveat: i had serious issues with her tapioca starch-based dumpling wrappers, as well as the recipe for soup dumplings. both, however, are a high art form as far as i'm concerned, so i didn't feel too bad. the rest of the book is foolproof. coming from a fool.

Aug 14, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Challah recipe - need a winner!

I've become obsessed over the past couple days. I ended up settling with this recipe: http://zabars.typepad.com/recipes/200...

I only made half (which made a HUGE loaf), and followed the video instructions within (rather hilariously) for the braiding: http://followingtheancientpaths.wordp...

The results were fairly tasty, surprisingly not too sweet (i even could have gone a touch sweeter), and decently fluffy -- as well as very pretty. However when I think of challah I think of something a little stretchier/stringier, a little eggier, and overall a little more airy and yeasty. That sort of thing. This was a touch dry.

At the end of the day, it's possible I'm simply craving like a pannetone or something, but I'm sticking with challah while I can!

I've found a couple good looking recipes via Chow, but if anybody has any other winners to offer up I'm totally game. Jewish recipes? Grandma's, perhaps? If it's delicious and at least vaguely fits the above descriptors I'd love to give it a shot. I've got a month long 'staycation' kicking off as of yesterday, and I'm not leaving my kitchen until I've attained success!

Thanks!

Aug 09, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Lip-Smacking Fish Soup/Stew

I associate the stickiness with meat based stocks/broths too. However I know I've had at least one seafood based stock with that lip/smackingness (new word), and even seen tv show hosts (namely Andrew Zimmern) refer to fish broth as such. Anyway, thanks to all for the advice! Very helpful and I'll report back soon with good results hopefully! Now I suppose the question is what to DO with the broth once I get it how I want it? Cioppino? Crusty bread? Asian noodles? Can't wait.

Jul 27, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Lip-Smacking Fish Soup/Stew

Thanks! Interesting recommendation for salmon... will definitely give that a shot. For the stock itself, that's where I need the most help. I've read lots of different things... add a little vinegar to help dissolve the collagen, simmer don't boil, etc etc. I've got the animal bone based stock basics down... just not sure if this translates to fish.

Jul 25, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Lip-Smacking Fish Soup/Stew

I've been craving a really delicious fish soup or stew, but no recipes or restaurants have really been hitting the mark.

I'm looking for that sticky, lip-smacking, deeply fishy broth that you get with a really good cioppino or fisherman's stew.

Whether there is tomato, whether it's spicy, whether it's a mix of seafood or just one type of fish, or whether it's complex or as simple as fish, water, and salt, I'm into it!

That succulent, gelatinous seafood broth is what I'm after. Tips and recipes both welcome!

Thanks everyone!!

Jul 25, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Malted Milk Powder - where to find?!

Thanks everyone! I got it the day of the first reply at Meyer's. Also, just by the way, tried their sausage roll which I think is made with cumberland sausage. A little coleman's mustard. Awesome.

Here is the recipe for the cookies I made. Definitely worth the effort (although the filling turns to stringy, gummy glue if you overmix it, which I did -- but still delicious once you fluff it up after chilling).

http://www.marthastewart.com/258285/c...

May 22, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Malted Milk Powder - where to find?!

I've been drooling over Martha Stewart's recipe for chocolate malt sandwich cookies for months, and finally got around to trying to make them. But I can't find malted milk powder ANYWHERE!

I found chocolate malt from Ovaltine but that's all. I gather I'm looking for pretty straightforward, 'pure' malted milk powder.

I've tried D'ag, food emporium, agata, and Morton.

I'll go anywhere in Manhattan, or outside if necessary. I'd rather not order the stuff online as I realy want to make them tomorrow for a special (and hopefully lucky) someone.

Thank you!!!

May 14, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Best Irish Breakfast in the City

I can't comment on the authenticity, so I apologize in advance if this isn't what you're looking for.

THAT SAID - the Ritz Diner on 62nd and 1st actually had a very satisfying version. Black and white pudding is fried crisp and tasty, two or three other types of sausage, ham, and two very nicely poached eggs. I don't recall any beans, and there's also no tomato.

So perhaps low marks for authenticity, and freshness is anybody's guess... but it's certainly delicious. So if you're in the neighborhood...

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Ritz Diner
1133 1st Ave, New York, NY 10065

Apr 06, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Manhattan

Posole / Pozole (rojo, preferably)

Shockingly, there aren't a whole lot of intense-looking recipes out there... at least they arent that easy to find.

I'm looking for deep red, porky, rich, sticky-fatty-unctuous broth...

Does anybody have a really great recipe? Grandparents' recipes are a bonus!

Also, for that matter, if you have any other soup recipes with really wonderful sticky-unctuous-sinfully-rich broths, I'd love to hear them! Looking for soups, really, not a stew. That is, a broth I can slurp with a spoon (or from the bowl) without succumbing to cardiac arrest on the spot. For this secondary recipe, other cuisines are totally cool...

Help!

Feb 24, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Char Siu Sou - A Real Recipe? Please?!

thanks to you all! fantastic!!

Jan 19, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Char Siu Sou - A Real Recipe? Please?!

I just discovered what these things were called, but I'm in love with them. I live in Manhattan, so I can get great Char Siu Sou in Chinatown, but I don't get down there as often as I need to, and I have a pretty serious Asian pantry (courtesy of Andrea Nguyen's outline in "Asian Dumplings").

Does anybody have a recipe for these triangular, flaky pockets of love? I have a good recipe for the char siu pork filling, but the dough that yields the slightly sweet, flaky, tender casing is what I can't seem to get a hold of.

Cookbooks, family recipes, links, chefs open to bribes, whatever. I'll take anything...

Jan 10, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

What are those triangular baked pork buns called?

Thanks to you all -- let the recipe search/salivating commence!

Jan 07, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in General Topics

What are those triangular baked pork buns called?

Thank you!

Jan 07, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in General Topics

What are those triangular baked pork buns called?

They are sometimes a bit yellow, often triangular, and the pastry dough is flaky and tender, and slightly sweet. Not the typical rounded baked buns made from a similar dough as steamed.... these guys are special.

Please help me! What are they called?!

Jan 06, 2011
iprobeattoomuch in General Topics

What obscure recipe book do you have and love?

Two come to mind:

Numero uno is Past Perfect, by Anna Del Conte. I think it's out of print, but you can find it on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Pasta-Perfect-C.... Every recipe is a gem. It's the kind of old school pasta recipes that you'd expect to see in a restaurant that hasn't changed the menu in 30 years.

The second is Into The Vietnamese Kitchen, by Andrea Nguyen. I guess it's not THAT obscure, but I found it in my college library (when I was still in college), so it seemed pretty random to me. Every single recipe is unexpectedly excellent. And if you have a good Chinatown or a good Vietnamese market in your town or city, this book will change your life. Make the beef pho recipe (no shortcuts), and you'll never be able to order another restaurant bowl again. Seriously.

Also, Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings is similarly excellent -- although I find the recipes for the buns (steamed, baked, and fried) come out the best.

Nov 07, 2010
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Coromandel in Darien [moved from Manhattan board]

i hate to suggest a trip to another state, because i hate reading off-target suggestions myself, but i simply can't resist.

if you are looking for absolutely perfect indian food, you need to get on a train and get to Coromandel in Darien, CT. it's probably about 40 minutes on metro-north, so it's not much worse than a trip to the distant outer boroughs. this place is simply masterful with indian food.

the food is consistently incredible. the lamb is always tender, perfectly fatty/melty, never chewy, never ever dry. The sauces are wonderfully balanced. You can tell the attention paid to even minor details: the whole spices, the perfectly cooked/seasoned rice, the perfect amount of oil in dishes (not too much, not too litte), the lightly buttered naan, the always-crispy poori, everything everything everything is perfect.

AND -- it's completely affordable (they also have a $12 -- i think -- lunch buffet, but dinner is best)

I was born and raised in NYC so it takes a lot to champion a CT restaurant. Rest assured, this place is the real deal.

Also, as a bonus, it is beautiful inside, the service is PHENOMENAL, and you will be sharing a wall with the Darien Cheese shop, which (for service, variety -- not quantity -- and quality, beats Murray's any day of the week).

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND GO!!! It's not high-brow, and it's not very large, but if you want fantastic indian food that will spoil you forever, this is the only place.

(the absolute only concession I will make is that their potato samosas were a little large, and a bit pasty inside... but even so, very precisely and delicately seasoned!)

http://www.coromandelcuisine.com/ (there are other locations -- the south norwalk location being the one that comes closest to Darien's perfection. PLEASE don't be put off by the multiple locations. they only cropped up because of the obscene success of the original Darien location, which is as stellar today as the first hour it opened

)

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Coromandel
25 Old Kings Hwy N Ste 11, Darien, CT 06820

Oct 25, 2010
iprobeattoomuch in Southern New England

Szechuan Peppercorns -- Ideas???

Kung pao chicken and mapo tofu sound like absolute winners -- thanks so much! I might try to find good version of the dishes at a Szechuan place before I try cooking them myself.

I might also try the steak, and the popcorn certainly sounds interesting.

Thanks thanks thanks!

Sep 23, 2010
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Have a large supply of Beets...need suggestions???

My favorite is steamed, sliced into half- or quarter-moons (quarter and then slice into 1/4-1/2 inch slices) with a little black pepper and a drizzle of good balsamic and olive oil. It can sit for days (maybe even a week or two) and is excellent, sweet, and earthy. It's also super easy. They are quite snackable, so if you have a quantity of beets this is a good way to put them to use!

Sep 22, 2010
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking

Szechuan Peppercorns -- Ideas???

I have a little handful of Szechuan peppercorns (about half the size of a large fist), and I know some recipes don't use much, so I'm hoping for some good ones!

I have an absolutely incredible cookbook called Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen, and so I have a couple recipes for dumplings with Szechuan pepper. But if there are any other suggestions for some interesting dishes with the stuff please let me know! I'll get more if I have to, and Chinatown is my second home, so I'm not put off by any hard to find Asian ingredients, unusual meat, etc.

The recipe search begins.

Thanks!!!

Sep 22, 2010
iprobeattoomuch in Home Cooking