Thursday, July 26, 2012

Babette Gets Chinese Food

Ah, how lovely. I've been craving Chinese food. In fact, I've been craving a lot of different ethnic foods...and last night my most wonderful SIL M took me to Ka Mei in Squirrel Hill,  a neighborhood just outside of Pittsburgh.

Ka Mei serves Hong Kong-style Chinese.
Cravings Satisfied. Behold:


And now is the time for me to admit I go so into the food that I didn't get photos of the eggplant in garlic sauce, which I almost couldn't stop eating, and the tofu with spicy sauce...Top to bottom I did get photos of the baby bok choy, the chow fun with brisket (who doesn't like pasta: come ON...) and the last, which was totally new to me, daikon and brisket in a rich brown gravy sauce flavored with star anise...that was awesome.

Sadly, I'm not where the leftovers are tonight.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

NYC: Maialino

Oooh, who wouldn't want to go to NYC's Maialino just on Gramercy Park? This is the latest (I think) of the Danny Meyer USC Hospitality Group's openings...pretty spot on.

The space is gorgeous--comfy, modern but still homey--neat trick that, making the space modern but cozy and old-worldy (oh yes I am making that word up) at the same time.
Perfect place for a solo dinner

We went on a Saturday afternoon, fearing it might be all eggs and branchy--but no. Although there were plenty of brunch dishes available, there were also pastas, sandwiches, entrees and side dishes.

Let's start with the side dish we ordered. Potato skins. Fried potato skins. But if you are thinking fried skins filled with heart-stopping ingredients like sour cream, bacon and cheddar, the likes of which were pretty popular in more than a few spots a couple of decades back, erase that memory. These are the peelings (hmm. What Italian nana wouldn't be proud of this lack of waste?!), fried and tossed with salt, pepper and parmesan.

Best. Snack. Ever.

fried potato skins Maialino style
Then it was pasta almost all around. My sister, the black pepper queen, couldn't resist the cacio e pepe--pasta with pepper and cheese. Oh, and probably butter. Definitely butter.

I see carbonara and I have to have it...this was made with crispy and satisfying.

In both dishes, the pasta was absolutely perfectly cooked.

If you're curious, there was also wine, fish, dessert..who could resist?? We shared a sampling of sorbets and gelato. There was a cheese sampler as well, and ...a cake, a tart? I can't remember, it was all so good...

Carbonara: bacon and egg pasta--brunch after all?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Finally: Prune

Ever since I read Blood, Bones and Butter, I have wanted to do two things:

  1. Go back to work in a kitchen and maybe, just maybe after all, own and run a restaurant.
  2. Go to eat at Prune, the restaurant owned and run by the author.

Of the two, that second item was far more likely to happen, and I knew that if I ever made it into Manhattan, I would make a beeline for Prune. That day happened last week. I dropped my daughter off to dance class in the city and found myself with about four hours to kill.

And guess what? It was lunchtime. One look at the subway map and I realized I was at the stop for a train that would take me to within two blocks of Prune. It was kismet. A trip to Prune for lunch was meant to be.

So it's probably okay to admit to a little bit of hero worship now for Gabrielle Hamilton. She's done what--twenty five years ago (coff coff)--I thought I would do. She's opened this tiny little space in a funky neighborhood with food that is just spot on. It's comfortable. It is definitely cozy in the Manhattan meaning of cozy (tiny, that is)...and for me it was just right for the food.

Food like my lunch: a crisp, cold glass of rose on a hot hot day.
A "kerchief" of pasta covering a perfectly poached egg and a salty-sweet-tender slice of ham, lean and melting. The whole dish then "sauced" with brown butter, toatsty-crunchy pine nuts and generous shavings of parmesan.

For a side dish, I couldn't resist the peas with a bit of honeycomb melting on the top. Just because.

Then also just because? Dessert--mascarpone ice cream with salted caramel sauce and brioche croutons.
Yes please.

It was all fabulous and low key and great food and relaxed and comfortable. Gabrielle was there, and even though I wanted to gush I didn't...I thought maybe she would be too cool for a gushing fan, but I did exchange a few words with her, saying how awesome the pasta was and that anything with a poached egg is heaven in my book.

And that was it. I went back out into the heat, had a few photos in my camera and wished I lived in NYC again.