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New York

07 October 2008

Manhattan Eats: Pearl Oyster Bar

Lobstersandwich

The lobster roll; an east-coast classic and reminiscent of New England summers, the roll is a soft hot dog bun filled with cooked lobster and mayonnaise peppered with celery and onion.

We were lucky (mostly) enough to sample many a roll on our recent road trip of the east coast. We left the sensory overload of Manhattan for the quaint seaside fishing towns of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and finally, Maine, all the while stopping at roadside clam shacks to sample the famed roll.

More often than not, it'd be a resounding disappointment. The lobster was too dry, too laden with mayonnaise or too bland. Often it seemed more waste than luxury: surely there was a better way to appreciate succulent lobster meat.

Ironically, it wasn't until we got back to Manhattan that we finally found the holy grail of lobster sandwiches -- at Pearl Oyster Bar.

Pearloysterbar

Pearl chef and owner Rebecca Charles has taken traditional east coast cooking to new levels and refined the flavours. Her food is truly homemade in the sense that meals are prepared from scratch, right down to the hand-cut fries and freshly grated horseradish, leading me to think that someone must really have sore knuckles.

Charles' inspiration came from her childhood summers spent in Kennebunkport, Maine. Her recipes are testament to the three generations of food-loving women in her family and are simple, old-fashioned and comforting.

Friedoysters_4

The menu is dependent on what's available each day and tables fill up as soon as the doors open.

We were lucky enough to try the Pearl lobster roll, the salt-crusted shrimp, cracker-crusted fried oysters and the blueberry cloud pie. In fact, we tried everything twice it was so good. Not on the same day of course. While we ate we were entertained and informed by Maria who served up the plates along with their charming stories.

If you find yourself within 500 miles of Manhattan then Pearl Oyster Bar is definitely worth a visit!

Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia Street
New York. NY 10014
212.691.8211

18 September 2008

Manhattan Eats: 'ino Cafe and Wine Bar

Inocafe

Our breakfast place of choice in New York was Italian panini bar 'ino. Located in the West Village, 'ino occupies a tiny, charming space on Bedford St.

The menu consists solely of panini, tramezzini, bruschette and an excellent selection of Italian wines. Some may shrug and say: "So what, a toasted sandwich." But 'ino is more than that. The flavours are bold, fresh and if you close your eyes, you're transported to Italy.

Another important factor is 'ino's bread -- it's very special. Baked fresh daily in legendary neighbouring restaurant Blue Ribbon's 140-year-old brick oven, the bread is carefully crafted from scratch using only the best ingredients.

Blueribbonbakery

One of the many stars on 'ino's menu is the truffled egg toast. It consists of an egg grilled on ciabatta with fontina cheese and truffle oil. The serving plate is scattered with blanched asparagus.

All in all, 'ino is a charming little cafe with a simple menu and friendly service: our favourite way to start the day in New York.

Ino

'ino cafe/wine bar

21 Bedford Street
between 6th Ave & Downing
New York, NY 1002

10 September 2008

Manhattan Eats: Momofuku Ssam Bar

Steamed_pork_bun

The power of the Momofuku Ssam's pork bun -- addictive indeed and New York is showing no signs of tiring of these tasty morsels.

Momofuku Ssam Bar is a revelation. I can only describe the food paradoxically. It's exciting, yet simple. It's confusing, yet comforting. It's of the highest quality, yet inexpensive. The one thing that is certain is that the food will captivate and make you want more.

The Momofuku empire is led by chef and co-owner David Cheng, famous not only for his culinary genius but also his colourful language. Only a few years ago Cheng was a little-known chef at a noodle bar. Now he's touted as one of the most "innovative and exciting chefs America has seen in decades".

In a city where restaurants will sparkle one day and fade into obscurity the next, Momofuku's Korean-inspired food has a firm place in the heart and mouths of New Yorkers.

The steamed bun (pictured above), has been replicated in restaurants all over the city yet none compare to Momofuku's. Pasture-raised heirloom pork belly, hoisin, cucumber and scallions are enclosed in a soft steamed bun. Each mouthful is sublime.

Momocollage

We went twice to Momofuku Ssam. Once at night and once at lunchtime. The difference is really night and day. If you want your meal charged with a frenetic energy, go at night. For something more subdued, lunchtime's your best bet.

For dinner we had the sliced Long Island Fluke (summer flounder) with yuzu koshu and puréed peaches, pork belly steamed buns, marinated hanger steak ssam and the divine spicy pork sausage and rice cakes.

For a light lunch, try out the Bi Bim Bap of braised tofu with bean sprouts, white kimchi, fresh edamame, whipped tofu and a delicately slow-poached egg.

Momofukubibimbap

Momofuku Ssam
207 2nd ave. nyc 10003 | corner of 13th and 2nd 
East Village

29 August 2008

New York

Newyorkfood

Just back from a whirlwind trip of New York. It was everything I had expected it to be and more. It was overwhelming, dazzling, exhausting and scrumptious. The trip could best be summed up as a total food fest. To try and explain it visually, just imagine two little yellow packmen chomping their way around the city - that was us.

Armed with a list of restaurants to try out and our voracious appetites, our culinary travels took us around the streets of Manhattan, to Brooklyn, to Long Island and New England.  We had both good and bad experiences but on the whole, they were pretty impressive.

Thank you to everyone who recommended places for us to try. We certainly have some favourites. And, in the coming weeks, we'll share with you some of our photos and experiences.

Even though I've only been back a day, I can't wait to relive my holiday through Taste Buddies. I think you'll enjoy it too.

11 August 2008

The Big Apple

Thebigapple

We're heading to New York for the next two weeks. It has long been a desire of mine to tread the city's famed streets and now that the time has come, I'm filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension of the impending sensory overload.

With New York, you get the impression that it's not just hype. Anytime you mention that you're going to New York, you're greeted with genuine excitement - especially if that person has been there themselves.

"You have to see MOMA... Rockefeller... Ellis Island... the Statue, etc, etc, etc"

So, along with our luggage and anticipation, we leave with a thousand tips from friends and also have our own large list of things to see and do... and eat of course.

We're not setting ourselves an itinerary, though. We're going to miss thousands of galleries, festivals and tourist attractions -- simply because the city is just too damn big to pack into a couple of weeks. Instead, we'll just wander the streets and let ourselves be pulled in whatever direction New York's gravity is flowing.

We're bringing the camera, of course, and hopefully will have some culinary adventures to share upon our return.

My Photo

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