Monthly Archives: August 2011

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Oh, Irene.  You are such a tease.  And since it takes one to know one, I can say this with conviction.  You got us New Yorkers all riled up, and for what? Nothing, I tell you, nothing!  Except maybe a little junk food eating contest.  If you stocked up on food to prepare for the possible power outages, I bet you ate it all this weekend.  Not because the power went out and you needed to, but because you were so bored the food actually provided an activity.  Well, if you gained the “Irene Fifteen” this weekend, you might be looking for a light and easy dinner, out of your apartment, which of course now feels like a jail cell. 

Westville is the perfect place to go.  This small and simple restaurant has a menu that speaks to everyone.  Their food is prepared simply and tastefully, which is exactly what the doctor ordered, or nutritionist, whatever.  

The Greek Salad is loaded with olives, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese and avocado.  It is served over grilled bread with melted herb goat cheese.  I like to add the Grilled Steak to this salad to make it a meal.  The steak is flavorful and juicy and the salad is crisp. 

The Grilled Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken is my favorite item on the menu.  The chicken is packed with flavor and it is incredibly juicy, the way chicken is meant to be cooked.  It is served with 2 sides from the market.  What’s the market? Glad you asked.  The market is Westville’s abundant list of veggies.   They offer everything from asparagus to bok choy and back again.  It is a vegetarian’s dream come true, and mine as well.   I love the Honey Dijon Brussels Sprouts, and for good reason.  They are little tidbits of veggie heaven.  I couldn’t resist the Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad.  After all, it is tomato season.

Riddle me this.  What’s dinner without dessert?  While you ponder that, feast your eyes on this.  A homemade ice cream sandwich. Clearly, I’ve become a little obsessed with Ice Cream Sammies recently.  This isn’t on the menu, but ice cream is, and so are cookies, and the waiters are more than happy to accommodate your needs, no matter how indulgent they are.

With three locations, Westville convenient for everyone.   I happen to love the Lower East Side location, but they offer the same menu in the West Village and Chelsea.  So, whether the weather has you feeling on a bit on the bulky side, or you just want an easy, light dinner, head over to Westville.

Westville East
173 Avenue A (11th Street)
New York, NY  
212.677.2933

Westville West
210 W 10th Street (Between Bleecker and West 4th Street )
New York, NY
212.741.7971

Westville Chelsea
246 W18th Street (Between 7th & 8th Avenue)
New York, NY
212.924.2223

A Little Taste of Tokyo

When you think about going out for Japanese food, you think about sushi, right? Maybe hibachi, but usually not.  Did you know there is another kind of Japanese restaurant altogether?  No, it’s not a hybrid, like a maltipoo.  It’s an entirely different breed.  Yakitori literally means grilled bird in Japanese.  So, a Yakitori restaurant is, you guessed it, place to get several courses of grilled chicken on skewers. Yakitori restaurants can be found all over Japan, or so I’m told.  This Bite-Sized Blonde hasn’t been to Japan yet…one day, one day.   Until then, I’ll just travel a few blocks north to have a little taste of Tokyo.

Yakitori Tori Shin is located on the Upper East Side.  Tori Shin means true chicken.  The restaurant was so named because of their mission to promote the most authentic Tokyo style yakitori experience with the highest quality ingredients.  The restaurant cooks organic chicken on charcoal grills for a unique flavor.  This small restaurant offers 40 different chicken skewers, and lots of veggies too.  For the timid diner, Tori Shin offers “regular” skewers of breast meat and wings.  But, for those a little more adventurous, they offer gizzards, hearts, and livers!  I have a few adventurous bones in my body, so I decided to go with the Omakase, otherwise known as the Chef’s Choice!  The omakase came with pickled vegetables, grated daikon, 6 kinds of meat, 2 kinds of vegetables, a rice dish and dessert.

We started with edamame.  Nothing like a little taste of the familiar to calm your nerves.  The edamame was kept on the branch, which makes for a beautiful presentation.  It is prepared on the grill so it absorbs the smoky flavor. These edadmame were awesome!

The Shitake Mushrooms were delicious, as they always are.  They have a very distinct, woodsy flavor.

The Corn was so sweet.  I love grilled corn.  Other than my corn salad, it is my favorite way to prepare corn.  This did not disappoint!

The Shishitou Peppers rocked.  These tiny peppers are usually mild, but every now and again, you will get a hot one.  The anticipation will drive you wild, and you know how this BSB likes to be kept on her toes.

The Chicken with Scallion skewers were one of my favorites.  The grilled scallions take on a sweet note, and the chicken is smoky from the grill.

The Quail Eggs were so unusual.   Not because they are quail.  Quail eggs taste just like chicken eggs.  But because they were grilled in their shells, they absorb that great charcoal flavor.  These are a must-order!

Neck.  I know what you are thinking.  No way Jose.  But, I have to tell you, it was mighty fine.  The neck tastes like any other part of the chicken.  If you don’t know it’s neck, you would never guess it.  Ignorance is bliss people! Ignorance is bliss.

The Dark Breast Meat was good.  It tasted like many of the rest of the dishes.  Because there were so many interesting dishes to try, this may have gotten lost in the shuffle.

The Meatballs were tender, the wings were flavorful, and the zucchini was sweet and mild.  It’s all about the grill at Tori Shin and they really know how to use it.

The Special rice dish is something I could have lived without.  Not only was I full by the time we got this, but it was soupy.

The extensive Sake list should be noted.  Not a sake expert? Don’t worry, they are at Tori Shin.  Another noteworth attribute: most of the seating is at the chef’s counter, so you get to see a show while you eat! You know how much this BSB loves that.

Need a little more vacation time this summer?  Head up to Yakitori Tori Shin for a little taste of Tokyo. It’s a vacation for your belly!

Yakitori Tori Shin
1193 First Ave
New York, NY
212.988.8408

Once You Go Cool…

I have recently reached stalker status.  Yup, this BSB is a class A stalker.  It’s funny how love will do that to you.  I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it.   I find myself constantly checking twitter to stay up to date on my new love’s whereabouts.  But it’s not unwarranted.  My new love is sweet and comforting and makes me blissful.  So, who is this new love you ask?  You may be surprised to hear he’s not a he at all.  He’s not a she either.  My new love is a truck.  Well, an ice cream truck to be exact.

But, this is no ordinary ice cream truck.  I’m talking about the Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck, driving in a new era in ice cream…The Era of the Ice Cream Sandwich.   These aren’t your typical ice cream sandwiches, no offense to the old school chipwich. But, once you go Cool, you never go old school.  Yes, I just said that.  I know, I’m a nerd.  I’m totally Cool with it.

Coolhaus offers homemade ice cream and cookies in the most unique flavors. Together, they create the most insane ice cream sandwich you have ever eaten. The possibilities are endless, since the flavors change daily.  You can expect about eight different flavors of both ice creams and cookies on any given day.  How do you know what to expect? Just become a stalker like me, and check twitter.

Some of their ice cream flavors include: baked apple, cabernet, coffee Oreo, Guinness chip, mango saffron, lychee martini, nutella toasted almost, red velvet cake batter and sea salt caramel.    If that’s not enough to get you salivating, how about these cookie flavors: chocolate chip, Chocolate chocolate chip, potato chip, maple waffle, s’mores, red velvet, snicker doodle, pistachio agave, and vegan coconut almond.

The only problem with all this deliciousness is actually deciding what you want!  Since I want everything, always, I obviously couldn’t just get one.  But, I compromised with my waistline at two: Chocolate chocolate chip cookie with brown butter and candied bacon ice cream and a vegan pistachio cookie with balsamic fig and mascarpone ice cream.  Holy sweet mother of all things delicious.  

The chocolate chocolate chip cookie was as decadent as a piece of cake.  The brown butter ice cream was sweet and subtle with a hint of smoky bacon.  Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe how wonderful this was!

The vegan pistachio cookie was totally unexpected.  If the sign didn’t say so, I would have no idea this was a vegan cookie.  Pistachios are sweet and nutty so they make an excellent cookie, and an even better vehicle for balsamic fig and mascarpone ice cream.  The ice cream was tangy from the balsamic and the mascarpone yet sweet from the fig.  What a unique combination of flavors.

Coolhaus is so much more than creativity.  They believe in quality and sustainability.  So, all their ingredients are natural and organic when possible.  Did I mention that the wrappers are edible?  But not just edible, they are calorie free (jackpot!) and customizable with edible ink.  Birthday fairy, if you are reading this, please get me a Bite-Sized Banter wrapper with an ice cream sandwich for my birthday.  It’s a big one this year!

Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck
Moving Target
For exact location, follow them on Twitter!

Mother Shucker

My favorite summer activities include going to the beach, rollerblading and shucking corn.  Yes, I just said shucking corn.  You know why? Because summer corn is the sweetest and cause I find it relaxing.  What can I say? I’m a quirky chick. But I also love shucking corn because I make a damn good Summer Corn Salad, and I would NEVER use anything but the sweetest, freshest corn for this refreshing salad. By the way, I am a terrible rollerblader.  Watch out now.

I could eat a big bowl of this salad all by itself, and, in fact I usually do.  But, it’s really more of a side-dish, like a great accessory.  It is the cognac colored wedges to any summer outfit.  Although this Bite-Sized Blonde likes to walk around in shoes, and only shoes, sometimes an outfit is not only necessary but desired. Queue the main dish…Chicken Paillard.  So, here’s to a well-rounded meal in a well-rounded outfit.

Chicken Paillard and Summer Corn Salad (serves 4)

Summer Corn Salad
Ingredients
6 ears of corn
6 oz. Baby heirloom tomatoes
2 Shallots
4 oz. Feta Cheese
3 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbs. Rice Wine Vinegar
Basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
To make the summer corn salad, shuck the corns! Add the corn to a pot of bowling water.  Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the color of the corn brightens.  Remove from the boiling water and add to an ice bath to chill.  This will stop the cooking process so the corn doesn’t overcook.  Remove from the ice bath after 1 minute.  Cut the kernels off and add them to a large bowl.  Cut the tomatoes depending on size.  If they are big, you may want to cut them in quarters.  Add the tomatoes to the bowl of corn.  Mince the shallots and add them to the bowl as well.  Crumble the feta cheese and sprinkle on top of the salad.  Toss with the extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Season with pepper. Set in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.  Garnish with basil before serving.

Chicken Paillard
Ingredients
4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
All purpose flour
1½ tbs. butter
1½ Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry.  Season with salt and pepper, and then dust with flour to coat lightly.  Make sure there is no excess flour!! Melt butter with oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to skillet and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Once the salad is chilled, add it to the Chicken Paillard to a sweet and healthy summer meal.

A Tale of Two Cities

This is a tale of two cities, if cities were restaurants.  One bad, one good.  But at least you know upfront there is a happy ending to this story.  I’ll start with the bad: The Mermaid Inn.  This classic NYC establishment gets a Bite-Sized Thumbs down.  If only my thumbs were bigger.

I was so excited to have a feast of oysters at The Mermaid Inn in the East Village.  I even tweeted about it.  Not that that says too much; I tweet about everything food related. But still, the excitement was there.  We got to the restaurant, and we were seated in the garden on a gorgeous night.  I saw an iPhone app for oysters on the menu and since I am in love with my iPhone, I was thoroughly impressed.  I thought to myself, we are off to a good start.  Little did I know the good ended there.

We ordered the Grilled Romaine Salad, half a dozen West Coast Oysters, and the Bay Scallops to start.  The salad was so underdressed, it could have gotten a ticket for public nudity.  There was a miniscule amount of lemon dressing on the lettuce, which was then covered in Parmesan cheese.  I took 3 bites before waiving the white flag.   If I want to eat plain lettuce, I’ll go back to camp where is the food is inedible.  It’s hard to comment on the Bay Scallops because there were so few of them on the plate.  Seriously, there were 4 of them, and since Bay Scallops are the size of nickels, you can understand how this is unacceptable.  There was, however, an overwhelming amount of the mediocre Summer Corn Succotash.  Lucky me.   The oysters were tasty, but since there is no prep work in oysters, other than shucking, it wasn’t enough to save the meal.

After the poor showing of appetizers, we didn’t want to stick around to be inevitably even more disappointed with the entrees.  So, we told the waitress we were unhappy with our appetizers and asked if the entrees had been fired.  She said no, and asked us if we wanted the check.   Did she apologize and send the manager over? Nope, she just brought us the check, in its entirety.  Well, ain’t that a swift kick in the pants.  This is a true testament to service, or lack thereof.  If the waitress had tried to recover the meal, I assure you we would have stayed.  *Disclaimer: This is not something I have ever done before or advocate doing.

Is this a reflection of all The Mermaid Inn restaurants? I am not sure.  But I am certainly not going to find out!  As another one BITES the dust…an OBG saves the day.

OBG.  What’s that you asked?  An OBG is an “oldie but goodie.”  And Lil’ Frankies is an OBG.  Located just a few short blocks from the mediocrity that is The Mermaid Inn, we knew that Lil’ Frankies was going to be the chocolate to our heartbreak.  Since we didn’t need appetizers, we skipped right to the entrees: Mezzi Rigatoni Polpettini Ragu and Spinach Gnocchi Pomodoro.  The Rigatoni was perfectly al dente and the polpettini, which are mini meatballs, were out of this world.  They were tenders little pearls of meat.  The Spinach Gnocchi tasted like a garden pure deliciousness, and you know how I love my Gnocchi.

So, thank you Lil’ Frankies for being an OBG, not to be confused with ODB.  That would just be weird.

The Mermaid Inn
96 Second Ave
New York, NY
212.674.5870

Lil’ Frankies
19 First Ave
New York, NY
212.420.4900

Cookie Monster

I love cookies. No, I mean I really love cookies.  Seriously though, at Thanksgiving, when we went around the table and said what we are all thankful for, I said, “Cookies.” Alright, you caught me.  I didn’t really say cookies.  But I totally thought it.

I happen to consider myself a cookie connoisseur, but what you should also know about this Bite-Sized Blonde is that I am an EOCE, Equal Opportunity Cookie Eater.  I have never met a cookie that I didn’t at least try.   When Gandhi said be the change you want to see in the world.  He was talking about eating ALL kinds of cookies.  I just know it.  So, with those wise words, I went into the world of cookies and decided to explore, and what I found was gooooood.   Salty sensations being added to sweet treats? Brilliant!

I went home and decided to experiment myself.  I thought, “What could I add to a chocolate chip cookie to make it better?” Unlike Cream Cheese, not everything goes with a cookie.  But, I did happen upon a few things that work marvelously with chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and pretzels.  That’s right, adding junk food to junk food is not only a junkie’s dream come true, it’s mine.  They say, “Without the bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet” but what I really think they meant to say is “without the salty, the chocolate ain’t as chocolaty.” Adding potato chips and pretzels to chocolate chip cookie dough to make one outrageous cookie is sheer genius, if i do say so myself.

Think munchies, and then think cookie, and you get this: The Mother of All Munchies Cookies.  Shout out to Mom here, cause this is the anti-mom cookie. This cookie is everything your mom doesn’t want you to eat.   Sorry Mom, but it’s delicious.

The Mother of All Munchies Cookies
Ingredients
3 rolls of Chocolate chip cookie dough
1 medium bag of Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
Approximately 15 pretzel rods

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Add the cookie dough to a large bowl.  (Make sure the cookie dough is at room temperature before you start working.  This will make it easier to combine the ingredients.)  Place the pretzel rods in a Ziploc bag and zip to close.  Smash the pretzels with a pan until they are in small pieces, about the size of a nickel.  Add the pretzels to the cookie dough along with the bag of potato chips.  The chips will break into smaller pieces when you are mixing them into the dough, so no need to smash them first.  Then, mix to incorporate.  When all the ingredients are evenly distributed, place the dough into parchment paper and roll into logs.*  I made 4 logs with these ingredients.  Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.  It is important that the dough be cold before it goes into the oven in order to evenly cook.

After the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator.  If you have made logs, slice the cookies and place them on an oiled baking sheet. If you are working with a bowl of dough, form each cookie with 2 tbs. of dough.  Place the cookies in the oven for approximately 13 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove and let cool before handling.

While these cookies are great on their own, they are even better with a little ice cream! Add a healthy tablespoon of chocolate ice cream to make an outrageous Ice Cream Sandwich!

*Forming the dough into logs will make it easier to “slice and bake” the cookies.  If you do not have parchment paper, just refrigerate the dough as is.

I L’ove L’artusi

L’artusi is one of those great West Village restaurants.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Great music.  Great Atmosphere.  Great Food.  And I can’t put enough emphasis on great, which makes it the perfect setting for just about any occasion.  The music is fun for a birthday but not too loud for a date.  That balance is key! The space is as exquisite as it is extensive; you can sit downstairs near the bar, in the backroom by the open kitchen, or upstairs near the wine cellar.  And most importantly, the food is heavenly. 

L’artusi even knows their food is stellar.  Their tagline is “L’arte di mangiare bene” which means “The art of eating well.”  Now, that kind of confidence really gets me going.   But it’s not just talk; L’artusi can walk the walk.  Their food is always special.  My love for L’artusi only grows with each and every visit.  And this most recent visit was no exception.

To start, we ordered the Dayboat Scallop Crudo.  The crudo was dressed in sea salt, olive oil, lemon and espelette.  Espelette is dried red pepper powder, similar to paprika.  This dish is light and airy with a hint of earthiness from the smoky espelette and spicy olive oil.

 

The Hamachi Tartar is one of my favorite appetizers.   The hamachi is paired with lemon, chives and ginger to create a refreshing dish.  These flavors play together so nicely.  This dish will stimulate your palette without leaving you in need of a palette cleanser. 

 

The Panzanella salad was a no-brainer.  I mean, how can anyone turn down pancetta, tomato, watermelon and basil?  Panzanella is usually a salad of bread and tomatoes, but I didn’t miss the bread one bit.  The watermelon was crisp, the heirloom tomatoes were juicy, the basil was sweet and the pancetta was salty.  I would be doing this pancetta an injustice to just call it salty, though.  The pancetta was thick cut, almost like a spare rib.  It was delicate but rough.  This is how pancetta is meant to be served. 

 

The Orechiette, which means “little ears” in Italian, are the perfect vehicle for the spicy sausage ragu.  The peppers and basil add a touch of sweetness, which is topped off with creamy parmesan cheese. 

 

The special pasta, which was homemade Fettuccine with portobello mushrooms, egg yolk, and shaved parmesan cheese, was sensual.  The pasta and mushrooms were light, while the egg yolks and cheese were creamy. 

 

Charred Octopus is one of my favorite things to eat, if cooked properly.  It’s not an easy dish to cook, but L’artusi knows how to do it well.  The meat is actually meaty and tender.   It is paired with simple baby potatoes, chilies, olives and pancetta.  The potatoes absorb the salty flavors from the olives and pancetta which offsets the smoky flavor from the grill. 

I don’t usually order steak in an Italian restaurant.  It’s like ordering a bagel at the diner. Sure, the diner has bagels, but you know the bagel store has better ones.  I hate to be proven wrong, but boy am I glad we ordered the steak at L’artusi.  The steak was cooked to a perfect medium, with charred crust and tender meat.  It was served with a creamy salsa blanca and crispy potatoes. 

So, I’ll leave you with this: L’arte di mangiare bene.  If eating well is an art form, and we all know it is, then L’artusi is the Met. Luckily, you don’t have to buy tickets to visit this exhibit.

L’artusi
228 West 10th Street
New York, NY
212.255.5757