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Huitlacoche

I called Baldor a few months back. They are a major distributor of all foods here in NYC. They have frozen fresh huitlacoche, but its like $20+ a pound and you have to order a few pounds at a time. Also, since they are a distributor you need to establish an account and haev someone to receive delivery as you would a restaurant. Any rate it would be like 50-60 bucks to get a single order of like 2-3 pounds.

I am super tempted, but its a bit steep and what the heck would a single person do with 2-3 pounds of the stuff? Fortunately frozen so could chip away little by little, but still, a bit of a hassle.

Feb 12, 2010
jpashman in Manhattan

eli from top chef to cook at solo

Went last night. Here is my review:

Aside from the typical menu, you can get a 3 or 5 course tasting menu crafted entirely by Eli that changes more or less daily. All 4 of us had to get it or was no go... Thankfully we came to dine on Eli's grub.

The menu:

Opener:
Artic Char Carpaccio with Pineapple and Potato Topping, Artichoke Puree, and Whip

It was a good opener, light, easy to go down. Not a ton of flavor, but I love my arctic char any day of the week. The puree was quite flavorful. The whip was one of those small emulsified, egg white whips you often saw on Top Chef.

Second:
Smoked beef soup with a puree red beet, sunchoke soup and cilantro green puree and carmelized onion.

This was the clear highlight of the night for all of us. Was the first time on the menu as we learned while leaving that night and speaking to the woman who seated us. The beef was soft, flavorful. I don't love smokey flavors usually, but this was really smooth and full-bodied warming you through and through while being balanced by the light, colorful, and homey flavors infused from the beets and sunchokes. The presentation was amazing. Super colorful and delightful just to look at. A swirl of red from the beets and light beige frmo the sunchokes and as you worked through got down to the full-bodied beef. The greens also mixed around the edge of the bowl. Sadly, I forgot my camera so no photos of this or the rest of the meal....

Third:
Buffalo Chicken with Jalapeno "Creme"

Essentially this was buffalo wings done up. It was amazing chicken. Perfectly done with full flavors, soft, tender and melted in your mouth. The skin was left on with a smooth, yet perfectly hot and spiced buffalo flavor. The skin was soft and mildly crisped at the same time. The "creme" was a mayonaise spread mostly mixed with jalapeno chop and some spices. Strong and brought good full heat. The best aspect of the dish was the single slice of jalapeno on the plate. EAting that with the buffalo chicken and creme all in one bite had full-body flavor that lingered with the heat you love and a nice bite. It kicked on the heat, while also lingered with flavor. It was amazing and nearly as good as the soup.

Intermezzo:
Mango Puree Frozen Pancake

As we were eating the chicken a table was being set up beside our table. So when we finished, Eli came out and gaev some shpiel. Basically was "bored in the kitchen and wanted to come out and meet us and cook for us table-side." So while doing that, they had a metal pan they were pouring liquid nitrogen into and he was pouring the mango puree into the cooled pan and instantly it froze like a mini-pancake. We each had one. Great way to cleanse the palate. Simple. Like a sorbet.

It was quite funny to me all the while knowing this pork lover was now cooking in a Kosher restaurant. I was able to ask him, "Eli, you loved your pork on the show and Southern roots and now you're here first gig out doing Kosher, what's up?"
He laughed and said he didn't cook a ton of pork on Top Chef - I clarified and said, yea, it was more Kevin. But any rate - he said he can cook the pork at home, but that certainly cooking Kosher here changes his thinking a bit. He focuses a lot more on Asian and Mediterranean dishes and ensuring he keeps to his style of fresh flavors and natural flavors and avoiding substitutes.

Finale:

Braised Short Rib Beef with Collard Greens

My first bites were wonderful. Succulent, tender, fall off and melt in your mouth. It was a bit too overpowered by the glaze throughout the beef. But me and my buddy noticed over time the meat was overcooked. My final bites for more than 1/2 of my piece were too tough for a braise and quite overdone. Still full flavored, but a bit of a let down following the two prior courses. It was good I could taste melt-in-your mouth red meat, but unfortunately not through the entire piece. Also the greens were not as flavorful as could be. There was an orange slice on the beef though that with the greens and beef all in one bite did provide a great bite of acidity complementing the dish well.

Dessert:

Chocolate Ganache and Black Olive Torte with dried puffed rice and corn

Never would have imagined black olives in a dessert. The dish was the torte in quarters spread across a slate plate and spread around the plate was the dried corned and puffed rice. It was a hearty and fun close to a very solid meal. I am not sure I would eat the dessert a lot over time, but certainly a new twist on chocolate ganache. Gave more body and deeper richness to the chocolate than I would have imagined.

The entire meal came with a wine sampler that we also enjoyed.

Arctic Char: White semi-dry chardonnay (forget most of the labels)
Soup: Rose (I hate rose's but this stood up)
Chicken: Cabernet
Beef: Merlot
(Dalton was the only label I recall). I don't love Merlot's but this was perfect complement. Warm, full body, but not heavy and acidic like many I haev tasted before
Dessert: Chenin Blanc

As we were nearing dessert we demanded Eli come out and answer some more questions. He was great and did. Hung out an dchatted with us a bit longer. He said he refuses to use fake margarines or creams as substitutes and does his best to find ways to use natural flavors and ingredients. The "creme" was a mayonaise.

It was fun to dine and feel like we were Padma or Tom and judging each dish. Surely you can see how flavors play off one another and how bites are meant to be one taste unto itself or all flavors should go in your mouth at once like the jalapeno, creme, and chicken. It was amazing to experience that and understood more fully what the judges look for while on the show.

Its obvious that he has some incentive based contract because he was clearly in the first and second time at our table selling himself a bit and asking how much we liked it. He said something like he doesn't make money if we don't order his menu. He said that his whole goal is to provide flavors and dishes to this market that normally can't eat and find such high profile foods given dietary restrictions, but to do it in a way as to appeal to anyone and get you to overcome thinking its Kosher. He surely succeeded.

The meal was crazy $$$ when all said and done. But we were well liquored and stuffed. We had a great time chatting with Eli. Very solid and fun guy. Highly recommend it and hopefully we will be able to go back.

Feb 12, 2010
jpashman in Kosher

Kosher - Madison Square Garden in NYC

if you have regular seats?

Dec 02, 2009
jpashman in Kosher

Location of Mendy's MSG Stand?

Does this stand still exist?

Dec 02, 2009
jpashman in Kosher

Kosher - Madison Square Garden in NYC

Are there any kosher dining/food options at MSG? If so, any details are most welcome.

Dec 02, 2009
jpashman in Kosher

Sukkahs in Midtown Manhattan

The Sukkah in Bryant Park was up and running by evening on Monday and should be the rest of Sukkot.

Oct 05, 2009
jpashman in Kosher

Kosher Taco Truck in LA?

It is opposite corner of the Residence Inn by Marriot in Pico area. Literally the corner of Pico and S. Beverly next to the car wash.

It sets up about 30-45 minutes after Shabbat is over. He gets going and ready to serve about 20 minuts after arrival and set up.

It is meat, not dairy with some variety of options.

The food is good, not great. but it is cheap, quick and fun.

Aug 04, 2009
jpashman in Kosher

Huitlacoche

Anyone spy fresh huitlacoche anywhere in the city? Manhattan ideally, but any borough...?

Aug 04, 2009
jpashman in Manhattan

Kosher Taco Truck in LA?

Is this the truck (Use Google Maps STreet View and view the north side of the street)?

1402 South Beverly, Los Angeles, CA 90035

May 10, 2009
jpashman in Kosher