Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New York, New York

per se - salmon cornets
Originally uploaded by joooone.
Wow, what a trip! We (as in family) talked about taking a trip to New York for various reasons— to visit this city that we had never been to, to visit friends and to eat. The airplane tickets and the hotel were booked, so all that was left was the itinerary. Research and choices had to be made on where we were going to eat, what we were going to eat, and why. New York offers you too much on a plate, anything from Chinese dumplings, haute French cuisine to hot dogs, tacos, Peruvian food, pizza, smoked sturgeon to a shop that offers 30 varieties of soups. For me, I would liken it to going to a global buffet, but you could only take what you can fill on your 12 inch dinner plate. With the thousands of choices available, it was thus important to do some focused eating and tasting. How we came to our dining choices, was a rather methodical process. We gathered information from few sources of information: travel guides, “googling”, food blogs and by talking to foodies who are/were in New York. Restaurants and eating places were then short-listed, reservations were made and then the details, such as reservation time, address of restaurant and such were entered into the excel spreadsheet.

We ate or tasted at the following:
Barney Greengrass
Blue Ribbon Bakery
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Carnegie’s Deli
DB Bistro Moderne
Gramercy Tavern
Gray’s Papayas
Il Laboratoria Del Gelato
Katz’s Deli
Oyster Bar
Papaya King
Pearl Oyster Bar
Per Se
The Burger Joint
Union Square Café
Virgil’s BBQ
White Castle

Tasting notes and photos to come.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How crunchy is the big apple?

I admit I've been a lazy food blogger for the past 2 weeks or so. Work work work is my excuse; thankfully, my labour has not been in vain. After overcoming the mountain of work that was piled on my desk, I've taken some time off and flown off to the big apple. Over a dinner the week before I left, my friend T asked what I was going to be doing in NYC. My answer was simple, as a tourist, I had to fulfill my tourist obligations: scale the empire state building, where I nearly froze to soak in the slights of the concrete jungle, take a photo of myself with a ridiculous one-armed-raised pose with the statue of liberty and such. I had also an eating itinery that took precedence over the sights, more importantly; I had my restaurant reservations lined up for our NYC trip. T then turned to me and said, so it is more of a food pilgrimage that you are going on. As a response I could only giggle in agreement. So here I am, tasting the big apple, it has been reckless gluttony and a scumptious trail so far and hopefully the best is yet to be with my upcoming dinner date with the mecca of them all, Per Se.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Da Paolo Il Giardino

Da Paolo Il Giardino
501 Bukit Timah Road, Cluny Court
Tel: 6463-9628

I’m not such which came before which among the many Da Paolo instalments around the island. For the sake of speculation and trivia, this is what I think the history of Da Paolo group. I think the original was Trattoria Da Paolo in Tanjong Pagar, which has now moved and is named Da Paolo e Judie, Da Paolo Il Ristorante at Club Street, followed by Da Paolo La Terrazza at Jalan Merah Saga and then this one at Cluny Court, followed by the Gourmet Deli and then the Pizza bar, also along Jalan Merah Saga. I dined at the Ristorante at Club Street a while back, from what I remember from dining there is that it shares the same or a very similar menu to the one at Cluny Court. The Deli is a great place to pick up sauces and fresh pastas if you are in the gourmet but lazy mood. You might just walk out with more than what you stepped in to get. The island of breads and pizza fill the little gourmet shop with an aroma that just makes you hungry and crave a slice. If you can resist that, you will have to then resist the other sweet temptations­­ of gelato, cakes and desserts. The Pizza bar just down the lane offers a laid back place for Sunday brunch and I’m guessing that the La Terrazza that lies between the Deli and the Pizza bar shares the same or similar menu to the one at Club Street and Cluny Court. Now that I have rambled on about my thoughts about the Da Paolo, here’s the exposition on my recent visit to the restaurant at Cluny Court.

Da Paolo Il Giardino at Cluny Court offers a great al fresco option, only if it is not blistering hot in mid-afternoon, like the afternoon I was there, where we took refuge in the very clean and modern furnished restaurant. Like the pizza bar, it has an “open-concept” kitchen, where you can watch some of the kitchen work through the glass wall that separates the dining room and the kitchen.

While studying the menu and listening to the Today’s Specials the waiters bring warm crusty bread and olive oil to start with. For starters we had the Fritto di Calamari e Granchi Con Salsa Tartara (deep-fried calamari and soft shell crab) and the Fegato Grasso e Insalata all’Arancia (mixed salad with duck liver, cherry tomatoes and orange). The former arrived first, batter of the seafood was wonderfully crisp and flavoured, which was wonderful to enjoy on its own or with the creamy mayonnaise that it was served with. The latter however was rather disappointing, the hero of the dish, the duck liver, was horribly over-cooked, well, enough said.

We elected to go with the homemade pastas and the half-and-half option that they have here, where they will help you in portioning your pasta if you would like to share yours with someone else. We shared the Linguine Vongole, Tagliatelle Aragosta al Rosmarino (homemade eggpasta with lobster meat, rosemary, Prosecco and cherry tomatoes), Tagliatelle al Granchio (homemade egg pasta tossed with crab meat, cream, tomatoes, vodka and Parmesan cheese) and the Today’s special, homemade ravioli stuffed with ricotta and pumpkin and tossed with pesto and prawns. Everything tasted good. I had the half-and-half plate of two creamy pastas; I was in comfort food territory and soon after in a lazy full bellied afternoon sleepy land.

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