Tuesday, December 1, 2009

White Beans with Garlic and Rosemary


It occurs to us as we're writing this that this recipe should begin by telling you to get some dry beans and soak them overnight and then cook them with some aromatics and never, ever use those evil canned beans (horrors!) But, are you really going to do that? You are? That's great! Oh, you'll maybe do that? Hmm, we see... Oh, you say you'll put that on your long, long list of things to do? Yeah, that's what we thought.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009


Without a doubt, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it has been since I was a little girl. Nothing makes me happier than a houseful of people on Thanksgiving even though, now that I am the cook, it's completely exhausting. This year, Brian and I hosted both our families again and the meal was a hit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who Can Resist a Fresh-Baked Apple Pie


The first time I baked an apple pie for Brian was on our first Thanksgiving together. He'd expressed some doubt about whether the home-made version would be so much better than a pie from the bakery. That holiday also marked the first time we were introducing our mothers to each other so there was some pressure to demonstrate my pie-making, not to mention other culinary skills. But one taste of my pie and he was a convert and now tells everyone that nothing beats my home-made version.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amarelle

2028 North Country Rd, Wading River, NY 11792, 631-886-2242, www.amarelle.net

Amarelle

Autumn is wonderful at Amarelle. it was a cold, drizzling November evening when we arrived but a prompt seating near the glowing fireplace quickly took the chill off. The restaurant is beautiful with a clean, modern look. Extra high ceilings though, can amplify noise and don't make for as intimate an ambiance.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Au Poivre Goes Light

Au Poivre Goes Light

Our favorite bistro dish is steak au poivre so, with rain predicted for Saturday night, we decided to skip a wet outing and make it ourselves. We planned all week and made sure we had all the ingredients. Good fillets from our favorite butcher...got 'em. French fried potatoes... well... let's skip the fried part and roast new potatoes in the oven with olive oil, salt and a little rosemary. We just picked up a great looking bunch of asparagus so we'll throw that on the grill with the fillets. Now for the peppercorn sauce...OK...let's look up a recipe...oil, butter, heavy cream...how much butter and cream??? Hmm. No wonder we like this stuff so much.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Healthy Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Healthy Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

It's tzatziki to the Greeks and cacik to the Turks. Either way, the original recipe for this creamy yogurt sauce is rich and delectable but not very heart healthy. This lighter version spares your heart and your waistline but still delivers on taste. The reduced fat recipe relies on garlic, lemon and lots of fresh herbs for robust flavor. The addition of a little low-fat sour cream and reduced fat Feta cheese brings back the creaminess of the original. Enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Parker House Inn and Restaurant

1792 Quechee Main St., Quechee VT 05059, 802-295-6077, www.theparkerhouseinn.com

We'd been somewhat disappointed with the atmosphere, service and food of our first dinner in Vermont at the Barnard Inn so we hoped for better on our second night in nearby Quechee. And we were initially impressed with our choice. The Parker House is quaint and romantic and we were nicely greeted and given a comfortable table near the fireplace.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Barnard Inn Restaurant

Rt. 12, Barnard, VT 05031, 802-234-9961, www.barnardinn.com

On our first night in Vermont we took our innkeeper's suggestion and headed to the Barnard Inn for dinner. The more formal dining room was full so we booked a table in their casual tavern room. It was a bit noisy but had a rustic charm and most of the diners appeared to be local..a good sign :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Simon Pearce - The Mill at Quechee, VT

Simon Pearce  -  The Mill at Quechee, VT
The Simon Pearce glass blowing factory, showroom and restaurant is built over a stunning waterfall in Quechee, near where we were staying in Woodstock, VT.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Village Inn of Woodstock

41 Pleasant St, Woodstock, VT 05091, 802-457-1255, www.villageinnofwoodstock.com

The Village Inn of Woodstock

A long planned fall foliage vacation and extensive research on B&B's in southern Vermont led us to The Village Inn of Woodstock. This bed & breakfast had garnered many rave reviews and was located just at the edge of the main street in the chic town of Woodstock. Their web site was very helpful and we booked our stay in room 5, the inn's only 2-room suite. We have to say that we found the fact that the bathroom was a pass-through between the bedroom and the sitting room to be a bit awkward. But otherwise, the room was beautiful, immaculately clean and richly appointed with a wonderfully comfortable king size bed. All possible temperature options were available including heat, air-conditioning, fireplace and screened windows. A small refrigerator in the room was extremely convenient.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cortina Restaurant Closed

We're not sure exactly when they closed or why but we were strolling down 2nd Avenue the other day and saw that it was out of business. It's not that we were so enamored of this place although the atmosphere was quite lovely. But, we had our first date here and have gone back on anniversaries so it's passing hits a nerve.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Wicked Wolf Closed

We read that The Wicked Wolf closed last night and that a branch of the 2nd Avenue Deli will take it's place. Although we enjoyed The Wicked Wolf to a degree, we're actually looking forward to the deli. But from what we've read, it may be a while before we're queing up for pastrami a few blocks from home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garlic and Herb Chicken in a Pot

Garlic and Herb Chicken in a Pot

Last year Brian bought me a Dutch oven pot - a beautiful red enamel over cast iron behemoth too large to fit in any of the cabinets. I promptly went in search of recipes for it and over the winter I produced beef stews, lamb stews and any number of roasts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Low Fat-Low Sugar Almond Scones

Low Fat-Low Sugar Almond Scones

Cookies and milk are great but there's a certain warm pleasure that comes from a good pot of afternoon tea and a basket of freshly baked scones. Traditional scone recipes do contain less sugar than other pastries but the butter and cream laden batter makes them only a rare indulgence. This quick and easy recipe, however, removes most of the sugar and fat while still providing a delightful afternoon treat. I vary the recipe based on whatever ingredients I have in the house. On this Sunday afternoon, a leftover bag of slivered almonds from Passover begged to be used up. Enjoy!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Palace Diner

194 Washington St, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, 845-473-1576, www.thepalacediner.com

The Palace Diner
We don't normally drive two hours north from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie for diner food but, since we were there...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cortina

1448 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021, 212-517-2066, www.ristorantecortina.com

We'll confess, we had our first date at Cortina and have been back a few times including to celebrate anniversaries.

The food is good, serviceable Northern Italian served in a very pretty setting. When the weather is nice, try to get the round table by the open windows. It gives you the breeze and feeling of sitting in the outdoor cafe while keeping the 2nd Avenue noise down. But our romantic haze notwithstanding, the service here leaves something to be desired and the owner needs a management class. There only ever seems to be one waitress and although she does well early in the evening, as the place fills it becomes impossible to get her attention. The owner is effusively friendly as long as you're sitting down to a meal. If you're only starting with drinks or perhaps some coffee and cake however, he can be downright rude and doesn't realize that you could enjoy yourself and be back tomorrow for dinner.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lombardi's on the Bay

600 Ocean Ave, Patchogue, NY 11772, 631-654-8970, www.lombardisonthebay.com

Brian and I usually agree on our reviews but Lombardi's has us a bit stumped. We've been there twice and have not been able to reconcile our opinions so we're agreeing to disagree.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Louis XVI Restaurant

600 Ocean Avenue, Patchogue, NY 11772, 631-654-8970

We LOVE it here. We're in the area during the summers and this place is beautifully situated on the Great South Bay. The dining room is elegant and comfortable with plenty of room between tables so you can focus on your food and your companion. Service is friendly and relaxed. You won't be rushed out here! The food is classic and delicious French with unusually generous portions. In between courses, the wonderful chef sends out several rounds of amuse bouche, the most heavenly tasting little "offerings."  And just when you think you can't eat another bite...the signature chocolate dessert is a religious experience and must not be skipped! Save up your money and bring your appetite. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Le Boeuf A La Mode

539 East 81st Street, New York, NY 10028, 212-249-1473, www.leboeufalamode.net

We frequently pass this restaurant on our way to the upper east side river promenade. Although it's closed during the day when we walk by, it’s unusual, out-of-the-way location piqued our interest so we returned at dinner time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Beyoglu

1431 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10028, 212-650-0850

Beyoglu

This Turkish/ Mediterranean offers meze's (small dishes) in a beautiful, colorful setting. The inlaid Mosaic-topped tables are pretty but small and, since the whole menu concept involves sharing, dining can be a little cramped. But the taste largely makes up for it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

American Bounty Restaurant at the CIA

American Bounty Restaurant at the CIA
Asparagus Salad
The menu at the American Bounty is seasonal with a lot of emphasis on presentation. A classic beet & goat cheese salad got an updated look but retained the great classic taste and a gnocchi appetizer was perfectly flavored. An entree of fillet of beef served with purple potato salad and fried plantains was tender and delicious. Unfortunately, we did find the plantains to be a little overdone and tough. A BBQ short rib that melted in the mouth was served over a tasty spiced coleslaw and fabulous yucca fritters.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Culinary Institute of America - Hyde Park, NY

The Culinary Institute of America  -  Hyde Park, NYDining at any of the restaurants at the Culinary Institute of America is much more than just a meal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dallas BBQ

1265 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10021, 212-772-9393, www.dallasbbq.com

Prices are low and portions are large at this noisy, crowded BBQ spot. On a warm Saturday evening, the gigantic dining room was packed at an early hour and long lines were forming. Fortunately for us, most people come with larger groups so a small table for two was quickly available.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bistro Le Steak

1309 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10021, 212-517-3800, www.bistrolesteak.com

Bistro Le Steak

Space is tight at this busy upper east-sider, especially on a warm Saturday evening in Spring. But a reservation will get you a nice table by the open window of the enclosed sidewalk cafe.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Barking Dog Luncheonette

1453 York Avenue, New York, NY 10075, 212-861-3600

When we're in the mood for a great (and we do mean great) burger and all the fixings, the Barking Dog is where we go. Easily the best burger, served on toasted rosemary Focaccia bread and accompanied by a heavenly slaw. Choosing between the spicy curly fries and the beer-battered onion rings is too painful so we get an order of each and share.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Due Restaurant

1396 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10075, 212-772-3331, www.duenyc.com

Due Restaurant

This lovely northern Italian does everything right. A nice room, excellent service (even when they’re busy), a good wine selection by the glass (including an excellent shiraz) and an extensive menu with lots of specials. All the expected Italian favorites can be found alongside some more interesting fare. Both the beef carpaccio salad with plenty of shaved parmeseano reggiano and the eggplant croquette salad with a generous amount of fresh goat cheese were great starts to the meal. The veal piccata, veal Milanese and the verdi gnocchi with asparagus were all perfectly made.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Brasserie Julien

1422 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10075, 212-744-6327, www.brasseriejulien.com

Brasserie Julien in pretty, romantic and not too stuffy. Service is friendly but they get a little overwhelmed later in the evening as the place gets more crowded. The back is roomier and the live music won't be so loud. Appetizer specials were interesting and delicious. Unfortunately, we had to send both entrees back - one was way to raw and the other inedibly chewy. Both were fixed/replaced with no attitude but it was still aggravating. Dessert was the chocolate offering but it was a complete disappointment - tiny and average tasting. Overall, the place is too pricey for what you get and there are too many other choices to back to this one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Louis XVI Closed...We're Devastated

We're by the Great South Bay in summers and Louis was our find. Our hands-down-favorite restaurant. Pricey but so worth it. We plan all winter for a meal here and now they're closed.

A part of us isn't really surprised. Patchogue is an old fishing village and not the sort of place you'd normally find a restaurant like this. Too far from Manhattan, not quite close enough to the Hamptons. It added to the feeling that this was our special place but obviously didn't do the owners any good.

The chef, Jean-Claude Teulade, came from a four star place in the city and we're hoping to track down his next location. Wherever he's cooking, we'll be heading but we haven't been able to find him yet. Anyone know if he's landed?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Firenze

1594 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028, 212-861-9368, www.firenzeristorantenyc.com

A stroll up 2nd Avenue in Yorkville on a warm Saturday evening, past rows of noisy bar/restaurants with sidewalk seating and young crowds reveling, brings you to the far more subdued Firenze. The well dressed owner stands outside and quickly spots the slightest interest. He corrals you into the restaurant, guaranteeing you will enjoy your meal. You're walked past the civilized bar area with a sophisticated piano player and are handed over to a smiling waiter to be seated. Romantic tables decorated with subtle floral tablecloths, painted chargers, tall candlesticks and mini flower pots are more reminiscent of a French brasserie but the food is 100% Italian.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wicked Wolf

1442 First Avenue, New York, NY 10021, 212-861-4670

We ducked in here on a freezing night without expecting too much. But this place is full of surprises. It was packed while many neighboring restaurants are empty and the food is a terrific value. The menu is a bit limited and somewhat boring. But what appealed on this cold night was the prime rib dinner. We ordered it, again, not expecting too much considering the low price. But what arrived was as good as a pricey steak house. The restaurant is noisy and the ambiance is far from romantic although we saw many couples who appeared to be on a date. Worst of all, the service from our overly-busy waitress was slow and sometimes scattered. But in the end, we got a hot delicious and satisfying dinner including a great new wine discovery for what we'd expect to pay at our local diner. No complaints about a great value!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Green Kitchen Restaurant

1477 First Avenue, New York, NY 10075, 212-988-4163, www.greenkitchennyc.com

Green Kitchen Restaurant

This is a cut above a diner. We wandered in one evening when we were too tired to cook and were pleasantly surprised. Both the service and food were a notch above typical diner offerings. Entrees are extremely generous and tasty, rival some of those at "nicer" restaurants and come with large salads and a bread basket. We went back the following week and were treated like regulars, with the waiter bringing us complimentary appetizers while we perused the menu. The dessert offerings are surprisingly poor for a diner but there are plenty of bakeries nearby to pick up something on the way home. Overall, this place offers a pleasant, tasty meal and a great value.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brio Restaurant - New York, NY

137 East 61st Street, New York, NY 10021, 212-980-2300, www.brionyc.com

Located slightly off the avenue, Brio offers a little side-street peace in the middle of a busy shopping area and their outdoor tables are appealing without the avenue noise and traffic. Once inside, though, the room is drab, undecorated and in need of some paint and sprucing up. Cain chair that look beautiful are uncomfortable and we found it odd that they don't open for Sunday brunch until Noon. Worst of all, though, is the slow and indifferent service, with waiters more interested in talking to each other than addressing their customers.