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Traveling solo - recs for dinner needed

Thanks everyone! Your suggestions were great, and much appreciated.

I went to Gramercy Tavern, Casa Mono, and wd 50.

Gramercy Tavern

After putting my name in with the bar for a seat, only had to wait about 10 minutes (I think I just beat a mini rush, @ 8pm on a Monday, many more people waiting after I was seated). Bartender was very attentive - impressed me by remembering my name throughout the evening. Drink #1: Church Key - very nice, citrusy, love the yellow chartreuse. Dinner: Starter: Marinated fluke - really nice, light, refreshing. Bartender recommended a glass of the Txakoli.

Main: Spinach and Mushroom lasagna - good, but the mushrooms stuck with me for a while after - almost too heavy a taste (not really a complaint, more of an observation).

Casa Mono

Many bar seats available at 7ish on Tuesday. Seated immediately, overlooking the kitchen. It was hot that day, and the room was warm. Ordered their house cava to start.

Food: Beets with Caña de Cabra, Blueberries and Everything Bagel Chips - really good - beets in two forms - warm (roasted?) and cool (pickled) - with the cheese, phenomenal. Chips added nice flavor and texture.

After finishing the cava, asked for a recommendation for the rest of my meal - was given the Granbazán Etiqueta Ambar 2012 Rías Baixas Albariño

Sardinas Fritas with Endive Salad - pretty simple - what's not to like about fried sardines? Nice and crispy. The endive salad was a nice lemony bitter cool complement.

Fideos with Chorizo and Clams - yum - I think this dish is one I will be craving again. I do think the adorable littleneck clams got a little lost with all of the other very robust flavors, but oh so good. The texture of the fideos is so great, aioli, chorizo, oh my.

wd 50

I didn't think I would, but I ended up ordering their "From the Vault" five course tasting menu with wine pairing. They did give me a print out of what I would be having, both food and wine, which was handy. I don' t have it with me, so I've copied what is on their website, which for the most part looks the same.

AMUSE BOUCHE (Clam with mint puree, and I'm not going to remember what else)

HANGER TARTARE, PICKLED ASIAN PEAR, AMARO, BÉARNAISE ICE CREAM

I don't have the exact wine served, but it was a sparkling dry riesling, which was quite nice.

SUNFLOWER-MISO GAZPACHO, TROUT ROE, SHIITAKE, DAIKON
Vermentino, Grenache Blanc ‘Heart of Gold’ Edmunds St. John 2013 / El Dorado County, California, USA

COD, SALSIFY, COFFEE-SAFFRON, SMOKED BULGHUR
Gamay Beaujolais Rosé ‘Rosé d’Folie’ Jean-Paul Brun 2012 / Burgundy, France

LAMB LOIN, HIBISCUS-DATE, BARLEY, AGED GOAT CHEESE
Listan Negro, Negromall, Listan Blanco ‘Tinto’ Monje 2012 / Canary Islands, Spain

TOASTED COCONUT CAKE, SMOKED CASHEW, CAROB, BROWN BUTTER SORBET
Muscat ‘Nectar’ Cooperative of Samos 2010 / Samos, Greece

Food was overall was very good - thinking about now, I'm not sure I could say one was a favorite - they were all delicious. I do wish I had some of that toasted coconut cake right now. I loved the sunflower - miso gazpacho, the lamb was amazingly tender, and the goat cheese with the barley was yum.

Chowhound for the win!

Jun 20, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Manhattan

Traveling solo - recs for dinner needed

I will be in Manhattan solo (female, from the Boston area) - looking for dinner suggestions for three nights (Monday - Wednesday), staying midtown. Price isn't such a concern. Don't get to NYC as often as I might like, so I'm interested in checking out some places that I've read about but haven't been to yet. Am thinking of Momofuku SSam Bar, and Alder. Am fairly omnivorous. Hoping that being just one person will make it easy to get a spot at the bar. Where else should I consider? Am interested in places where I can eat at the bar, and not feel self conscious or get hit on (not sure how likely that really would be anyway. :P).

Jun 13, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Manhattan

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Do you have a pointer to a recipe for coconut milk flan? That sounds delicious!

Apr 18, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Chile Dips pg. 172-181, Sweets pg. 252-266, Sundry Items pg. 267-287

I made this also - I dried out my rice on a cookie sheet in a low oven (maybe 300F convection?) and then decided to leave it in there, and just stir every 10 minutes. It got partially browned, and then just stopped getting color. I think it was in the oven for about an hour. I then put it in a cast iron pan, and stirred it for a bit, but after 20 min or so, lost patience. So maybe I just needed to be more patient?

Apr 16, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Fish pg. 72-87, Stir Fries pg. 88-103, Thai Minced Meat Salads pg. 104-121

Plaa Thawt Lat Phrik, Deep-Fried Whole Fish with Chile Sauce, p. 83

We made this last night with tilapia filets (1 lb). Dang that sauce is delicious - really perfect as is. It was pretty easy to put together - I was excited that I had cilantro roots in the freezer, as well as already made tamarind water! Aside from using filets rather than whole fish, the only other modification with with the tempura mix - I didn't have the recommended mix, so I subbed some cornstarch and baking soda, since they were ingredients in some homemade mixes found online. A bit scattershot, I'll admit, but I don't think our results were marred one bit. This is definitely going into the rotation.

If you were to make this with more than a pound of filets, I would definitely increase the sauce.
We ate this with the stir fried brussels sprouts and jasmine rice (recommended menu).

Apr 15, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Het Paa Naam Tok - Isaan-style Forest Mushroom Salad, pg. 70

We made this last night to accompany Northern Thai Stewed Beef Soup, pg. 154.

This was a really nice pairing with the soup - nice and tart and fresh, contrasted with the dark umami taste of the soup.

We "grilled" the mushrooms (mix of oyster and cremini) on a cast iron griddle inside. The dressing comes together easily - lime, thin soy, water, sugar, toasted chile powder (I subbed ancho chile powder + cayenne), and lemongrass, which all get heated slightly in a pan. When you are ready to serve, the mushrooms, mint, shallots, cilantro, and toasted sticky rice powder get tossed in the warm dressing, and then plated.

Apr 09, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Grilled Foods pg. 122-145, Curries and Soups pg. 146-171

Jin Hoom Neua - Northern Stewed Beef Soup p.154

We ate this last night. The verdict was mixed. My SO thought it was great; I was less enthused.

I broke the preparation into stages - curiously, Ricker does not note to this for this dish, although he has do ahead notes for other recipes in the book. I recommend you consider breaking this up - the curry paste takes some time.

He wants you to make the paste in a mortar and pestle - I opted for the food processor. I did process the items in the same order he directs you to do: Lemongrass and salt, then galangal, then tumeric root, then soaked chilies (in place of puya I used gualillo), then garlic, then shallots, then homemade shrimp paste. The shrimp paste is a mix of prepared shrimp paste and salted shrimp that he has you pound into a paste in the mortar and pestle - again, I opted for the food processor (making the shrimp paste first, before the curry paste, meant that I didn’t need to clean out the bowl too thoroughly - hurray).

You also need toasted chile powder (another recipe in the book) - I subbed some ancho chile powder we had.

I ended up cooking this in a slow cooker (on low, 4 hours) - it was the only way I could figure to make this a week night meal. In the instructions, the onions go in halfway through cooking, but I added them at the beginning. The beef, which Ricker wants to be on the chewy side, was much more tender than he would wanted (fine by me).

Due to the chile substitutions I made (guajillo and ancho) it wasn't as spicy as we wanted, so we also added a bit of cayenne.

We found the lemongrass to be pretty prominent. There was a funkiness to it that I'm not sure the source - galangal? tumeric? We also added some lime juice - it needed something bright, even after adding the fresh herbs. We had it with sticky rice and the mushroom salad that is also in the book (one of his recommended pairings). That was great, and had the sourness that the stew needed.

My SO thought that it would be really good with a more gelatinous cut of meat - we used chuck steaks, because that's what the butcher had.

We have a ton leftover - it's a good thing one of us is excited about it. I don't think this is one I'll be craving.

Apr 09, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Grilled Foods pg. 122-145, Curries and Soups pg. 146-171

Fyi, I bet your use of thai chilies made it a lot hotter than intended.

Looking at this table of chilies and their scoville unit ranges:
http://darnhotpeppers.com/scoville_sc...

Thai chilies: 50,000 - 100,000 vs Puya chilies: 5,000 - 10,000

This soup is on the menu for us tonight - will report back.

Apr 08, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

COTM April 2014 Announcement Thread: Congratulations Pok Pok!

I'm eager to hear about what people sub for some of the harder to find ingredients. I haven't been able to track down nam plaa raa yet, for example - wondering how critical it is.

Mar 24, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

Agree - we made this last night as part of a meal (with sticky rice and stir fried brussels sprouts). Really nice salad that comes together fairly quickly. I thought the two chilies might be a little much, but they added a nice amount of spice.

Mar 19, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

I don't know about the press (I haven't read any reviews of the book) - reading the book, Andy Ricker is very adamant about what is authentic, or the "right way" to execute these dishes. Not sure he would approve of you using your Sumeet grinder in lieu of a mortar and pestle! I think he chose pushing the "authentic" way because it's easier for him to write the recipes, and test against them, and be confident that if followed to a tee, they will come out the way he thinks they should.

The cook needs be able to make those judgement calls about where to cut corners, or sub this for that. I'm finding that a little easier as I make more of the dishes. It's tricky when you might not have had something before, so you don't have that benchmark to judge your result against.

I think if you plan to cook from this book, you'll need to make at least one shopping trip to a well-stocked asian market for all the soy sauces and fish sauces, various shrimp formats, rice, chilies, herbs, etc. That can be easy or more challenging depending on where you live.

Mar 12, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

Can't vouch for those. We have some fried onions from Trader Joe's that we inherited from a friend who was cleaning out her pantry of "bad" food. We crisped them up in the same skillet we used to dry fry the shrimp.

Mar 10, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

We made this last night. I would agree - it was delicious. I found that the pork took longer, more like 2 - 2.5 hours, but I was keeping the simmer very low, and I wasn't in a hurry with it (I will admit that I have not bought in to the concept that chewy is good).

We don't have a rice cooker, so we cooked the rice on the stove. I was able to find coconut cream at Whole Foods. (When I was shopping for asian ingredients at some large asian supermarkets, I never came across coconut cream, only coconut milk, and that only in cans.) I think I may have overcooked the rice slightly, but it had great coconut flavor.

For the papaya salad - no mortar and pestle, so big spoon in a bowl. We use a mini-chopper for the chilies and garlic. Green beans instead of long beans.

Instead of fried shallots, we used some canned fried onions we had. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that!

Everything works really well together - the spicy sweet sour crunchy salad is the perfect counterpoint to the softer rice and pork - and don't skip the fried shallots! - they add a great savory taste and crunchy texture.

Mar 10, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

I'm planning on making the Sweet Pork with Coconut Rice and Papaya Salad, and the Northern Thai Stewed Beef (for separate meals).

Any thoughts on what main to make if you are planning on sticky rice with mango for dessert? I've got a couple Ataulfo mangoes ripening on my counter - so excited, it's one of my favorites!

Mar 06, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

Cooking from Pok Pok

We made this last night with the thai basil - it was delicious (and spicy!). Agreed that this would work with whatever basil you can find.

Mar 06, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking
1

Cooking from Pok Pok

Were you able to find hot basil, or did you sub a different basil?

I'm actually planning on making this tonight, but I could only find thai basil (with the purple stems).

Mar 04, 2014
fairyinthewoods in Home Cooking

ISO Wild blueberries

Bumping this thread for 2012. Just came back from Maine - the wild blueberries are in, and it's apparently a great year for them. Anyone know where I could find some locally?

ISO Good noodles in Davis Sq. Somerville

I work in Davis Sq. I often have a hankering for some asian style noodles for lunch. Ideally suggestions would be within a 15 minute walk of the center of Davis. Anyone?

(I know "Asian" is a broad category - I just wanted to veer the conversation away from Italian pasta - I think I already know the usual suspects that might be suggested for that cuisine.)

ISO Macapuno coconut strings in heavy syrup

Can anyone tell me where I might find this in the Boston area? I'm looking to make this recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/de... for Bibingka.

I've looked in Reliable Market in Union Sq. Somerville, because it's the closest Asian market, but did not find it. Would H-Mart carry this?

Thanks in advance!

Video autoplay on Video page

I think it's a bad user experience to have the video autoplay when you go to the Video tab from chow.com.

I think it's reasonable to assume that a user is looking for what videos to watch, but may not appreciate a video autoplaying (which also starts with an ad, volume on.)

Nov 17, 2010
fairyinthewoods in Site Talk

July Openings and Closings

Walking through Union Sq. in Somerville this weekend, I noticed a "Store for rent" sign on the Neighborhood restaurant window. Anyone know if they are closing?

The Coveted Ice Cream Maker

I had this ice cream maker, and was always pretty happy with the results. Unfortunately, the bowl became warped over time, causing the paddle that moves the ice cream around not to sit correctly, and I had move on. My guess is that's why it's discontinued.

I highly recommend the Cuisinart ice cream maker (http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-ICE-2... very similar price point, same deal where you put the bowl in the freezer to chill. Makes great ice cream, and I actually think it's a nicer design - easier to put together.

Jan 31, 2008
fairyinthewoods in Features

A really great sandwich between Fresh Pond and MGH?

The Oxford Spa on Oxford St in Cambridge has yummy sandwiches.

Also Darwins - the special sandwiches are the ones to go for (changes daily).

seeking the SF/Ten Tables/Central Kitchen paradigm--the neighborhood place you'd take the T to

I really like The Independent in Union Sq. Somerville. They have a good bar/decent bar menu (though smallish, and I wish the salads were more exciting to me) when you are feeling more casual, and the restaurant is comfortable, and very nice too look at. I've been consistently happy with the food, and the service has been great every time I've been there.

Christina's Ice Cream - Bittersweet Chocolate

I just had a cup of the Bittersweet Chocolate flavor at Christina's - my new favortie flavor. The chocolate flavor is really good, not too sweet, and the texture is amazing - perfectly creamy without being overly rich. Just right.

Help! Visiting New York in 2 weeks

I would love recs for korean bbq - post away!

Oct 09, 2006
fairyinthewoods in Manhattan

taste of Cambridge july 20

I went last year and was really disappointed. I arrived 30 minutes after the start time, and already some of the vendors were closing down because they had run out of food. Really poor in my opinion for an event that is scheduled to run for 2 hours. And honestly, the food I sampled was not that great. I'm glad my money went to good causes, but I'm not running back.

Ice Cream!

I also am partial to Christina's. Right now my favorite flavor is Chocolate Banana (sooo good, perfect balance between banana and chocolate). When I don't know what to get, my default is Coffee Oreo. Yum.