Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

Southern Cooking in the Windy City

April 4, 2010

Gary and I had scheduled a Monday morning meeting in Chicago that required us to go there Sunday. So we decided to make the most of inconvenience and go out for a very good meal that Sunday night.  And what a meal we had.

We knew about the meeting a month out so we had time to decide and get a reservation. So we created a list of possibilities and narrowed the list down to Table 52.  This is Chef Art Smith’s place in Chicago which features Southern Cooking. I have seen Chef Smith several times on Iron Chef America and Top Chef. He was Oprah’s personal chef,  recently cooked for Lady Gaga and President Obama and Michelle ate at Table 52 for Valentine’s Day so there was a really good chance it was going to be memorable. And it was.

Gary started his meal with the Southern Pickles. The dish came with several house-pickled cauliflower, carrots and okra with micro greens, onions, two kinds of salt, baguette, smoked gouda and jelly on the side. The idea was to make your own pickle sandwich out of the ingredients trying the different ingredients. I like participation dishes like this where you can choose your own combination of food so when Gary offered a taste, I went for it.  The pickled vegetables were tender and sweetly pickled but not to the point where the taste of the vegetable was lost or the crunch was gone. The rest of elements added interesting tastes of sweet jam and salty salts along with different textures of crusty bread, crunchy pickles and gooey jam. Combining the different elements of the dish was fun but we both agreed that although the gouda cheese was fine on it’s own we couldn’t find a combination that matched well with the cheese.

I went for the Beet Salad for my first course.  The salad came with nice portions of  two colourful beets, whipped goat cheese, thyme crumble and Myer lemon puree. For what I thought was going to be a simple salad turned out to be a very complex dish by the various combination of items you could put on your fork. The sweetness of the beets matched well against the tartness of the Myer Lemon Puree and the almost metallic flavour of the Thyme Crumble. The textures of the dish also provided a spectrum of densities, firm beets, semi soft Whipped Goat Cheese and thick puree.  We wanted wine with the meal and had our waiter match a glass of wine with each course. For this course we had Acustic from Montsant (Catalonia, Spain) named ‘unplugged’ in the same way that you find ‘naked’ (oak free) Chardonnay.

For Gary’s second course, he went for the classic southern dish Fried Green Tomatoes. The two large heirloom tomato slices were lightly battered and then pan-fried giving the tomatoes a light crunch with a soft center.  Along with the tomatoes came fresh greens, creme fraise and a light tomato puree.  Like an old married couple, Gary and I ended up sharing tastes from each others dishes so I can report this version of the southern classic was great.  The sweetness of the fried tomatoes contrasting nicely with the spicy tomato puree.  The crisp greens and silky puree matched well also.  For this course, our waiter recommended the Eyrie Chardonnay from Oregon. I found the wine to have a light oakiness and a little bit fruity. A nice match for both the Fried Green tomatoes and my dish.

For my second course, I also went for a southern classic in Low-Country Shrimp and Grits. I lived in Florence, South Carolina back in the 80’s so I tried grits many times but never became a big fan but when you are at Art Smith’s restaurant you give them another try.  It was great!.  These grits were Stone-ground White Corn Grits and so different from my memories of the 80’s.  These grits were more like a risotto than the cream of wheat memories.  These grits were nice and creamy as a whole but the individual grits still had a bite to them as in “el dente” pasta. A very nice consistency.  The Wild-Caught Shrimp were tender, sweet and well-cooked.  The Spicy Tomato Sauce contrasted well with the sweet shrimp and creamy grits. Basically a very simple dish but well executed with excellent ingredients.

For Gary’s main course, he went for the Fish of the Day special, which was Halibut. I forgot to bring my recorder to get all the details of the dish but from my memory, the fish was pain fried and topped with a variety of vegetables and greens.  I got to taste the fish and it was perfectly cooked with flakes falling off with just the touch of your folk.  Halibut is my favourite fish and Table 52 did it right.

For the main course we decided to order the Braised Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey as our side dish.  Collard Greens are about as “southern” as you can get but the smoked turkey was different twist I had not seen before. The more common version I had seen when I lived in the south was with ham hocks.  The turkey version turned out fine with greens taking on a light sweet taste of the turkey but not the saltness of the ham version.  The greens were well-cooked, infusing the turkey into the vegetable but stopping the cooking before turning the veggies into mush.  This was the best dish of collard greens I have ever eaten.

For my main course, I went for the Maple Sugar Short Ribs.  These were the most tender short ribs I ever had in my life. Just using your fork you could twist the meat and it would flake off into single strands of flavourful meat.  The carmelized maple sugar matched well with meaty flavours of the short rib. The dish came with red wine reduction that match well but I was so focused on the tender meat.  A potato puree was the matching starch and a carmelized onion accompanied the dish. Our waiter recommended the 2007 Cristom Pinot Noir to go with the dish.  I thought this was an interesting recommendation given Gary’s fish and my short rib selection but it ended up being perfect for both of us.  Not overcoming the fish and not under powered for the ribs.  Nice wine selecting Justin.

I have had the privilege to eat in several celebrity chef restaurants; Emeril’s, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, BLT Prime, Daniel,  over the years but one thing was always missing, the celebrity chef. Until this visit. Making several tours of the dining room during our three courses was owner/celebrity chef Art Smith.  He stopped at every table checking to see how the meal was progressing. I thought the treat of the evening was going to be this photo of the two of us but it got better when Art joined us at our table as the restaurant thinned out at the end of service.  They say that television puts pounds on you but this thinner and fitter version of Chef Smith has been dieting and exercising lately and looked the healthiest I have ever seen him. I wish I could say that about myself but after this great meal, I wouldn’t have much credibility would I. 

It gets worse, Gary and I agreed that we were going to pass on dessert as we were both pretty full from the three courses, wine and cocktails we had already consumed. But as we sat there with Chef Smith he had the staff big over some desserts for us to try.  First came the Smith Family Twelve-Layer Chocolate Cake.  Delicious, light and a great chocolate flavour. The cake came with Vanilla Gelato and Strawberry for contrast.

Next came the Peanut Brittle.  I remember peanut brittle as a Christmas treat during my childhood but this was the best brittle I ever had.  The thick rich harden caramel sauce was chock full of fresh Georgia peanuts.  I was amazed at how thick the brittle was.  It was very good and very sweet.

Finally Executive Chef John, formerly of Charlie Trotter’s restaurant, brought over Art’s Hummingbird Cake.  I had my share of cake when I lived in the south but never had Hummingbird cake.  If I had most likely I would still be in the south cause this is great cake.  Art make his version with Banana and Pineapple flavours three layers high all coated in Cream Cheese Frosting. Served on the side is a wonderful Vanilla Gelato.  It was delicious with all the different flavours going on and amazingly light.

We had a great chat with Chef Smith during our 30 minute sit-down talking about everything from the making of Iron Chef, his diet and exercise plan, to who’s cooking in Chicago he likes (and who’s he doesn’t) and where he likes to go hear the Blues in Chicago.  The evening ending amazingly with Chef taking us to his favourite Blues Club in Chicago and having a couple of cocktails listening happily to the blues.

It was an amazing meal that will, most likely, never happen again.  Thanks Gary and Chef Smith for a great meal and a great story.

Read other reviews about Table 52 here, here and here.

Table 52 52 Elm Street, Chicago, IL  – 312-573-4000

Fall Luncheon at Catherine Lombardi’s

October 7, 2009

 I wanted to get together with Amy to catch up and learn from her about online strategies for Managed Markets.  I have known Amy for many years since she was doing Media Strategies for our Pharma brands and Internet Media was just starting.  Amy has moved on to Managed Markets which is becoming very important to many brands.  So where do we eat in New Brunswick? I suggested we go to Catherine Lombardi’s for some classic American Italian Food.  The well decorated dining room also allows enough privacy for a business meeting a great food to nourish us. So Amy agreed to meet me there.

Prosciutto di San Daniele with Parmigiano-ReggianoAfter we caught up on what we both have been doing recently I suggest we get my Favourite Appetizer,  the Prosciutto di San Daniele with Parmigiano-Reggiano. I like this appetizer because of the quality of the ingredients and the contrast between taste and texture.  The Prosciutto is custom cut for each order at the bar allowing you watch as they cut.  The meat is moist and slightly sweet.  The Parmigiano-Reggiano is freshly cut into bit-sized cubes providing a contrast by being slightly salty and slightly el-dente.  The added feature to the dish are the Balsamic Cherries that contast with both the meat and cheese.  The size of the portion is large enough for two to share and even take a snack back to the office for a late afternoon bite. (Thanks Amy)

Pappardelle  with Bolognese at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick

Amy went for the Pappardelle with Bolognese as her main course.  I wasn’t familiar with the pasta Pappadelle so Alex, who did a great job serving us so well with her partner Scott, explained that it was kinda like “Fettuccini that had been run over by a steam roller”.  Alex and Scott are exactly who you want to see serving you at any meal, attentive, informative and professional. Great job guys.  I hope to see you again.  Amy shared with me that the pasta was perfectly cooked and meat sauce was very satisfying.

Cheese and Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter Cream Sauce at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick

I went for the Daily Ravioli Special for my main course. Since Fall had just started the Squash and Cheese Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Cream Sauce sounded perfect for a sunny Fall day in New Brunswick.  The store made ravioli were perfect with a great blend of squash and cheese, perfectly cooked with a drop of Pumpkin Oil on each. The Brocolli Rabe was a perfect side with the pasta as it brought some bitter and garlic taste to the party matching well with sweet squash and cheese.  It was a delicious dish, well balance and perfect for the season.  Well done.

Zabaglione with Fruit at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick NJ

It took a great deal of persuasion, but I managed to convince Amy to have some dessert.  After review all the delicious choices she selected my favourite dessert at Catherine Lombardi’s, the Zabaglione with Fruit. Most of the times I have had this Classic Italian Custard, it has come with Strawberries but today it came with Blueberries.  The light custard was sweet with the tart berries making a nice contrast .

Canollis at Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick, NJ

I had to try something different from Amy so that I could share with the readers the experience.  What I do for my readers. LOL.  I went for the Canolli. Come to find out they bake their own shells and then fill them on demand.  The filling, Alex warned was not as sweet as other canolli but the blend of Sweetened Mascarpone and Ricotta Cheese with some Orange Zest would be less sweet than I was used to but it would be very good.  The two canolli arrived on a giant plate with a dusting of Pistachio Nuts, Chocolate pieces and Powdered Sugar.  Alex was right, it was a great change from the super sweet pastries you can get everywhere and a great end to a great lunch.

Thanks Amy for playing along with my hobby, taking photos and helping me understand the state of the art of online marketing in the Managed Market space.  I hope we get to do this again.

Read other reviews about Catherine Lombardi’s here, here and here.

Catherine Lombardi on Urbanspoon 

Catherine Lombardi’s – 3 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1903          (732) 296-9463

Happy New Year Cake

September 20, 2009

Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends and readers.  It’s also Donna’s Birthday on Monday so when I was in search of a birthday cake or cupcakes for her I went to Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown.  Crossroads had done such a great job on the Ricotta Polenta Pie for Easter, I figured they could do a great birthday cake for Donna. But when I got there late on Saturday I spied the Jewish Apple Cake that I had posted a few weeks back and a Jewish Honey Cake that I had not tried. Remembering that this is the Rosh Hashanah weekend, I figured it would be cook to try something ethnic that I hadn’t tried before.  The Jewish Apple Cake looked as dry as the one I tried from the Town Crier so I figured the result would be the same as in my previous post so I went for the Jewish Honey Cake.

Jewish Honey Cake from Crossroads Bake Shop

The small cake was a perfect size for dessert that night.  I learned that this cake is a tradition at Rosh Hashanah meals and there are many recipes for it but here is one I picked up from Recipe Zarr. Usually I find cakes to be either light or heavy for the size but this cake seemed to weigh exactly what it should. The Golden Brown colour showcased the Almonds that added texture to the cake.

Jewish Honey Cake from Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown, PAThe great news was that the slices were Very Moist and flavourful.  Donna and I seem to detect almost a Spice Cake flavour rather than a “Honey” flavour that we anticipated based on the name of the cake.  The small portion slices require me to take two slices so I could ensure for my readers that the quality of the cake was consistent. (LOL – what I do for my readers) It was good but the distribution of almonds make the bites interesting as sometime you got them and sometimes not. The moist dense cake with the interesting spice and almonds is a great cake and regardless of your holiday worth buying.

BTW – Let us know your favourite Food Holiday at this poll.

Read other review about Crossroads Bake Shop here, here and here.

Crossroads Bake Shop on Urbanspoon 

Crossroads Bake Shop – 812 North Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902           (215) 348-0828

Steak Skewers Special

August 8, 2009

Filet Mignon at Cafe EuropaIt was poker night at Cafe Europe and my birthday so it was a perfect storm for me. Chef Joey created two appetizer specials for the night, a seaseme seed crusted chicken tenders with a honey soy sauce and a Filet Mignon skewer with a merlot demi-glace. I went for the Filet Mignon medium rare.  Donna tried the chicken special and Ryan went for the Penne alla Vodka based on last week’s post.

Joey nailed the medium rare for my skewer and still managed to have the Onions and Green Peppers crisp but cooked.  The Mushrooms came with the Demi Glace and they were perfectly cooked as well.  The savory demi glace matched well with meat and provided a nice contast to the sweet onions and green peppers. The different textures in the mushrooms, crispy veggies and perfectly cooked meat made for, Jenn’s favourite descriptor, “great mouth feel”. At $8.99 and $12.99 for two skewers, they were a bargin and a great appetizer.

Since is was my birthday bartender and Facebook friend Jenn made a Birthday Banner and Facebook Friend Erika traveled in from Jersey City to play poker and deliver a half dozen Crumb’s Cupcakes as my Birthday Cake. I ended up with a great Carrot Cake Cupcake that was through the roof.  Thanks Erika and Jenn for making my birthday extra special.  Thanks to all those free cocktails eveyone, it seemed and if I can remember, offered me. It was a great birthday.

Joey made the skewers out of Filet Mignon but what is your Favourite Cut of Steak? Take the food survey and let us know.

Happy Anniversary at the Black Bass Hotel

August 4, 2009

Donna and I went to newly opened Black Bass Hotel for our 24th Anniversary celebration dinner. The restaurant had a great reputation and the news of it’s recent opening had a good buzz going on in the foodie community. It even came up at the bar at Marsha Brown’s when Tricia and I visited there a week back. So we were pretty excited when we arrived. It was worth the buzz and the short trip up the Delaware River to Lumberville.

Cocktails at the Black Bass Hotel

We started the evening off with two classic cocktails, the Singapore Sling for Donna and a Vodka Martini for me. Donna’s drink was nicely made althoughthe bartender had to look up the recipe. The sling was slightly fruity with the gin being covered by the Cherry Brandy and Benedictine. Nice job.  My Vodka Martini was a classic, straight up ice cold and three olives.

Spinach Salad at Black Bass Hotel

Donna’s starter was the Baby Spinach Salad. It came with Bacon, Egg, Orange Segments, Sliced Red Onion, Mushrooms, and Candied Walnuts with a Honey Mustard Dressing. Donna found the salad to be well presented and the veggies fresh and crisp.  The mix in textures was great as well with the hard boiled eggs, candied nuts and veggies.  The salad was not over dressed so it was perfect.

Crayfish Appetizer at Black Bass HotelFor my appetizer, I went for Crayfish off the daily special menu.  I was also looking at the Acadian Barbequed Shrimp but they came shell-on and I could only imagined getting my shirt covered in BBQ Shimp juices, so I went for pre-shelled Crayfish.  It was a good choice. The sweet meat was well balanced against the slight heat from the broth. I was impressed by the amount of crayfish I got and how tender each one was. It felt like I was back in New Orlean’s again. Very nice appetizer.

New York Strip Steak at Black Bass Hotel

Donna went for the Grilled Dry Aged New York Strip. It was served with compound Garlic Herb Butter, Stag’s Leap Merlot Demi-Glace, Mashed Potatoes and vegetables. Donna likes her steak Medium Well and the chef nailed the cooking. The Demi-Glace was delicious and matched well with the Prime Grade Steak. The unfortunate part was that the veggies and the mashed potatoes were cold. The hot Demi-Glace saved the day a bit by heating the veggies and potatoes. The steak was excellent but the rest of the dish could use some attention.

Charleston Meeting Street Crab

For my entree, I went for the signature dish of the Black Bass, the Charleston Meeting Street Crab. Lino, our excellent waiter, shared that this dish has been served at the Black Bass for at least 55 years.  I can see why. It’s a simple delicious dish. Bascially a Crab au Gratin it was perfectly executed with Jumbo Lump Crab covered with a thick cheese sauce. The gratinwas broiled giving the dish some nice texture and flavour in the sauce. My dish suffered from the same cold veggies that Donna had but the gratin was hot enough to heat them to a good temperature so just mixing them together worked for me. The rice was perfectly cooked and matched well with the gratin and crab. It was a well executed dish with nice flavours and textures.

Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream at Black BassFor dessert, I convinced Donna to try Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream and I went for the Rice Pudding. The restaurant-made ice cream was smooth and tasting very much like cherry cheesecake. It was very nice. Lino snagged us some Guinness Ice Cream as a sample.  At first that tasted like coffee ice cream but as the ice cream warmed the flavour changed and you could taste the Guiness flavour. It was very interesting and very good.

Rice Pudding at the Black Bass Hotel

Lino presented my Arborio Rice Pudding complete with a Candle to celebrate our annivarsary. The classic rice pudding was served with with Rum Soaked Golden Raisins, Whipped Cream and a Rasberry Coulis. The rice was perfectly cooked but had been around a while that it start to glomb together a little too much. The addition of the raisins and strawberry gave the dish some interesting textures and different flavours. The candle was a nice touch on this great dessert.  Thanks Lino.

Net-net it was a great meal and appropriate for celebrating our 24th anniversary. The Black Bass is Back! Go and enjoy yourself.

Read other reviews about the Black Bass Hotel here, here and here.

Black Bass Hotel Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Black Bass Hotel 3774 River Road | Lumberville, PA 18933      215-297-9260

Jewish Apple Cake

July 28, 2009

I saw the book 500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late in the Gourmet magazine last month and tried to get a copy at our local Borders store but it was sold out.  I went back Wednesday and they had one copy which I bought. I figured there had to have Bucks County places in there for me to write about and sure enough there were a couple.

 The closest to me was the Jewish Apple Cake served at the Town Crier Bakery just down the road in Lahaska.  The authors Jane and Michael Stern report (page 91 -where was stuff like this when I had to do book reviews – LOL) that the cake is not make with butter despite being very moist and that make the cake a perfect dessert to go with a Kosher dairy of meat meal.  I have learned recently that a Kosher meal can not have dairy and meat in the same meal so this cake give the meal planners more options.  Apparently the Jewish folks just call it Apple Cake.

Jewish Apple Cake

 I stopped by the Town Crier Bakery on the way back from Dublin and Luburto’s to pick up a Jewish Apple Cake.  It was a good looking cake with frosting and pieces of apple decorating the top of the cake. The cake was heavy but inexpensive at $7.50.


Jewish Apple Cake

The shape of the cake results in relatively small slices.  Small but very dense. Donna and I found the cake to be quite dry but the apple flavour went thru the cake.  The moist Apple slices on the topping were sweet with a mild apple flavour. The Icing was quite sweet and a nice contrast to the dry insides of the cake. You will need milk or some other beverage with this cake but it is a nice change for regular cake. 

The book also said that Night Kitchen in Doylestown makes a better cake than the Town Crier so we will find out soon about that. Stay tuned.

BTW Town Crier Bakery offers a big selection of Gluten Free products including, scones, muffins, brownies and cookies.

Read other review of the Town Crier Bakery here, here and here.

Town Crier Bakery– Store #29 Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA 18931       215-794-9910

Amish Desserts

July 20, 2009

Amish Chocolate CakeWe had supper Saturday night with Poker buddy Steve and his wife Joan at Villaggio and then went back to their house for dessert. This post is about the dessert and the fun we had at Steve and Joan’s house.

There are two Amish Markets within 10 miles of New Hope, one in Flemington and one in Newtown.  Both markets offer homemade meats, sauagages, cheese, breads and desserts – all homemade goodness. And in the this case, great Chocolate Cake that Joan picked up in Flemington.  It was a great cake and the Amish bakers took a great deal of care cooking and decorating the cake.

Top View Amish Chocolate Cake

It was a four layer cake with great frosting and elegant decorating on top. It was a great chocolate cake. Moist, Sweet from the chocolate frosting and a slight Bitterness from the chocolate flavour of the cake.  Steve and I had our cake with Red Wine. I love chocolate and Red Wine. I learned from my very proper English Admin Assistant Eleanor, from my last company, on a terrase in France that chocolate and red wine goes together and I thank her often for that lesson.

After dessert, we retired to their family room where Steve and Joan showed some of their daugher Jessica’s films that she created during college. Two of Jessica’s films; 60 Second Buzz and Paneye are on YouTube. I liked 60 Second Buzz because it was about our local Brewhouse Triumph and I recognized Facebook friend Daniel, in the film, who is now in Sales and Marketing for Trimumph. I couldn’t find her documentry-film about college life that we screened that night on YouTube  but we enjoyed it too. It was fun to see Jessica’s work and the pride her parents had in her work too. 

Great Cake and Films.  Fun with Steve and Joan.  Thanks again for having us.

Frozen Dessert

July 9, 2009

Omaha Caramel Apple TartletsLast night I posted about the Omaha Steaks I had purchased over the phone. Tonight I am going post about the Caramel Apple Tartlets that came along with the steaks.

Four Caramel Apple TartletsThe Tartlets come four to a box with each one weighing in at 4 ounces each.  You buy them by the dozen. In my case it was buy a dozen and get a second dozen for just 1 cent. So that each tartlet worked out be about 70 cents each.  So who could pass that deal up. LOL

Caramel Apple TartletThe pre-nuked dessert showed the Thick Caramel Sauce, the sugar crystal sticking to the outsides of the pastry tart. The directions for heating are simple nuke for 70 seconds or 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I went for the 70 seconds cause I wanted it yesterday. LOL

Ice Cream and Caramel Apple TartletOne of my favourite scenes in Billy Crystal’s movie City Slickers is when Billy challenges the “Ben & Jerry” guys to the “what ice cream goes with any food contest”.  It was kind of like that tonight as we were trying to figure out which ice cream goes best with caramel apple tartlet. Donna and I decided to go with Butter Pecan.

The dessert was great. The hot pastry contrasting to the cold ice cream with a light aroma of cinnamon tickling your nose. The pastry had a light density to it not really flaky as I cut into it with the spoon. The first taste is that of the sweet caramel sauce and the sweet pastry crust. The second brings Apple Pieces and some cold ice cream melting from the heat of the tartlet. The syrup of caramel sauce and melted ice cream soften the pastry into sweet mixture in my mouth. The apple piece has a good apple taste and is almost crisp surprising given it was frozen just 70 some seconds ago. We picked the Butter Pecan ice cream because the butter flavour goes so well with the pastry and the pecan nuts added additional texture and nuttiness to the over all dessert. The four ounce portion is perfect with the scoop of ice cream making it a great dessert for the evening meal.

What is your Favourite Ice Cream? Take the Poll and share your favourite.

Gourmet Open House

June 29, 2009

Fruit Platter at Heidi & Paul'sMy boss, Heidi and her husband Paul hosted an Open House this weekend at their home just outside of Newtown. It was a great affair with friends from work and Paul and Heidi’s neighbours coming together over some great food. 

There is nothing like Fresh Fruit as an appetizer. Sweet cherries, grapes and strawberries bursting in your mouth. Nice healthy nibbles. The fruit went well with the Peace Valley wines that Paul had selected for the event.

International Fruit and Cheese DisplayThe wines also went well with the Cheese Display that the Caterer put together for the event. There are six different cheese to chose from along with some melon, pineapple, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries.

Carmelized Onion and Arugula StrudelThere were two savory appetizers ready for us when we arrived.  The first was Caramelized Onion and Arugula Strudels.  These pinwheel apps contain a sweet onion and slightly bitter arugula mixture. The smoothness of the mixture contrasted nicely with crisp texture of the phyllo dough. Simple combination but well executed.

Lemongrass ShrimpThe second savory appetizer was the Lemongrass Shrimp.  These tasty shrimp skewers were well prepared with the lemongrass giving the delicate shrimp a light Thai flavour. The pineapple presentation gave the shrimp a tropical feel and great decoration for the table.

Kara's White Bean DipFacebook Friend and co-worker Kara brought her Vegan White Bean Dip with some Taco Chips.  The dip was nice ‘n thick and creamy. I detected a slight garlic flavour in the dip. Kara also brought a Hummus dip that brought the garlic a little stronger.  Both were welcome additions to the table as they were homemade and well made.

Rosemary Filet MignonAs if the many appetizer wasn’t enough about 4:00, the caterer opened up with full blast of  entree bites for us to enjoy.  The first dish on the kitchen buffet was a Rosemary Marinated Filet Mignon. Served at room temperature, the tender beef was served with a Creamy Horseradish Sauce. The tang of the sauce contrasted nicely with sweet herb infused meat.

Poached SalmonThe second dish was a perfectly Poached Salmon with a Creamy Dill Sauce.  Well presented with carrots, lemon, limes and orchid flowers giving great colour to the dish.  The salmon portions were delicious with a great salmon taste, sweat with a little taste of the sea. The dill sauce contrasted with the sweetness of the flesh. A drop of lemon juice made the salmon flavour intensify.

 Portabella Mushroom Caps with Leek RagoutThe surprise of the main entrees was the Portabella Mushroom Caps with Leak Ragout. The meaty portabella mushrooms were coated by a creamy Leak Ragout. The contrast of the dense, meaty mushrooms and the almost cheese like ragout was very nice. This vegetarian dish was a nice change from all the protein in the Filet and Salmon.

Marinated Grilled Vegetables

For sides, the Caterer prepared Marinated Grilled Vegetables, Long Grain & Wild Rice Salad and Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes. The veggies included Grilled Peppers, Zucchini, Asparagus and Carrots.

Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes with Feta CheeseThe Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes were matched up with some Balsamic Vinaigrette with Feta Cheese. The sweetness of the potatoes matched well with vinegar and the salty cheese making a nice potato salad.  The small bite-sized potatoes went well with the main entrees of filet and salmon.

Long Grain and Wide Rice SaladThe Long Grain and Wild Rice Salad also went well with salmon.  At first I thought the plump pieces of fruit were raisins but come to find out the were Sun-dried Cranberries that were plumping up from the Sage Vinaigrette. I passed on the Rice Salad but others passed pleasing comments on how well the rice was cooked and the nice contrast of the sage in the vinaigrette and the sweetness of the rice.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

I am never sure if the the Tomato Mozzarella Salad is a side or a main entree.  This version is amazingly colourful with the Multicoloured Heirloom Tomatoes, White Mozzarella and Green Basil.  This classic dish looks very modern with the flower garnishes. The drizzle of Balsamic Vinaigrette gives the dish a shine and nice contrast in tastes with the sweetness of the Jersey Fresh tomatoes and the tang of the vinegar. It was an nice vegetarian dish.

Dessert TrayFor dessert, the caterer put together a comprehensive tray of different confections and fresh fruits. I won’t even try to name all the different pastries and sweet bites are on the tray.  I did try the Mini Cream Puffs and Eclairs along with some fruit but take a look and I bet you can find a least a couple of goodies you could complete the meal with.

 Thanks to Heidi and Paul for hosting a great Gourmet Open House.  Donna and I had a great time talking with old and new friends while eating some great food. I hope the pictures and descriptions did justice to party.  Thanks again.

Bryce’s Catering Co., 1438 Manoa Road, Wynnewood, PA 19096               610-658-2400

BLT Prime Time

June 28, 2009

Ryan and I spent most of Friday being tourists in New York City visiting the Howard Stern studio, wandering around Times Square, visiting the Hard Rock Cafe, going to a comedy club and having dinner at BLT Prime, one of the best steakhouses in the city.

We were met by Facebook friend Steve and his boss Erin who work a major digital agency.  They have recently re-branding their agency and wanted to share with me what the changes could mean for my company. Over a great dinner we talked about social media and how that was changing the way we communicate with our customers. I also found out that Steve and Erin are both into the food scene and participate on several blogs of their own. Erin also blogs about the wine she drinks and that has made her learn a great deal about which wines to drink.  Good for us LOL. So interesting people, in an interesting place all set to have a great meal so let me tell you about what we drank and ate.

The Last Ride at BLT Prime

I like to try the signature cocktail at the restaurants I eat in just to change things up from the usual glass of wine or standard cocktail. At BLT Prime, they have a few signature cocktails that would match most people’s taste. I went for The Last Ride since the ingredients sounded like the drink would be an upscale Manhattan, and since I was in Manhattan, why not? LOL.  The barmaid created my cocktail by muddling a half dozen cherries and then combining them in a shaker with some Makers Mark Bourbon, Cointreau, Carpano Antica (an upscale sweet vermouth) and some Ice. After some vigorous shaking, she poured out the wonderful libation in the photo.  not overtaking the drink as many house Manhattan tend to do. The Last Ride brought notes of orange and cherry but not making the drink overly sweet and sappy but well balanced with the Bourbon.  A very nice cocktail and highly recommended by me.

 Popovers at BLT Prime

Every order at BLT Prime gets their signature Popover as their take on an amuse-bouche. In most restaurants that serve amuse-bouche, it a bite size appetizer that gets you started for meal. Here, they give you a six-inch Yorkshire Pudding-looking piece of bread. Erin had been here a few times before so she knew that the best way to attack this was tearing off a piece, dabbing on some BLT Butter and then shaking on some of the Sea Salt. I was expecting a bland Yorkshire Pudding without-the-gravy-taste but it actually tasted like butter popcorn. The top of the popover was covered in melted Gruyere cheese, giving that section of the popover a cheesy popcorn flavour. That was a bit of a surprise for me but quite nice and enjoyable while we waited for the appetizers.

 Tuna Tartare at BLT PrimeWe all decided to share the different appetizers so we could all get a taste of them and then compare.  I had the Tuna Tartare.  The generous portion of tuna was served over avocado and lime soy sauce with potato crisps.  I liked this dish.  The sweet tuna and avocado matched well with the salty line-soy sauce.  The creamy tuna and avocado contrasted nicely with potato crisps giving each portion a nice mouth feel. A tasty and filling appetizer.

 Crab Cakes at BLT Prime

Steve ordered the Crab Cake. It came with Meyer Lemon sauce and a tiny Radish Salad.  The small bite I had was pleasant with the lemon contrasting nicely with the sweet crab meat and the radish salad offering some nice crunch to the chunks of crab meat. It was a good crab cake with some interesting textures you don’t usually see.

Cesear Salad at BLT PrimeRyan went for the classic Caesar Salad.  BLT Prime serves a generous portion with two large croutons. For some reason the prepared the salad by placing the dressing in the middle of the salad leaving the top leaves of lettuce undressed. After mixing the salad and getting all the greens dressed it turned into a very good Caesar Salad but Ryan was kind enough to say it wasn’t as good as mine.  LOL He’s a smart kid. The small portion I tried was nice.  Crisp lettuce, creamy dressing, nice level of garlic (I like more) and great cheese. Very acceptable.

Grilled Bacon at BLT PrimeErin called it the most “Bad Ass” appetizer ever, Grilled Double Cut Bacon. The dish came with four slices of double thick, slightly smoked grilled bacon. The great grill marks, sauteed garlic and parsley bites and bacon aroma made this appetizer a new classic for me. We each tried a slice and it was the best bacon I have ever had. Meaty, sweet, slightly smokey and a nice char from the grill. Definitely Bad Ass. Try it.

 NY Strip steak at BLT PrimeRyan went for the NY Strip steak. Sixteen ounces of 28 day aged meaty delight. Perfectly cooked to a medium rare and accompanied by a selection of sauces; Bearnaise, Peppercorn, Red Wine and Horseradish.  Ryan was loving this steak.

BLT Cut at BLT PrimeErin and I decide to split the BLT Cut, Bone in Double Cut Sirloin. Again 28 days of dry ageing and cooked to perfection medium rare.  At 32 ounces it was perfect to share giving us a reasonable amount of meat each.  The staff carved the steak before presenting it to us making it easy to select portions from the serving dish to enjoy on our plates. The first bite was amazing, tender, a lite char on the outside and earthy sweet meat on the inside. Meat perfection in a bite.  I tried the meat with the different sauces and each one brought a different note to each bite but even on it’s own the steak was perfect.

Italian Steak at BLT Prime

Steve ordered the Steak Special of the day, steak imported from Italy. I didn’t write down the name and now can’t find it on the Internet. I did manage to get a bite from Steve and it was very interesting. The first taste sensation was dry, not dry in a bad way but rather a concentration of meaty flavours. This steak seem to take to the dry aging more than the steak from the US. I had never tasted anything like that.  It was quite good and different from any other steak I have ever tasted.

We tried several sides and shared them; Gnocchi Pomadoro, Creamy Spinach, Grilled Asparagus, Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Hen of the Woods Mushrooms. Most were average at best with mushroom caps standing out. The gnocchi had too cheese and didn’t match weell with steaks. The creamy spinach was too runny for me but still flavourful. The asparagus was well grilled but needed some sauce to make it truly tasty. The Hen of the Woods muchroom arrived as surprise in place of the Blue Cheese Tater Tots we actually ordered.  The Hen of the Woods mushrooms were ok but the mushroom caps were much better.

Carrot Cake with Ginger Ice Cream

For dessert, I chose the Carrot Cake with Ginger Ice Cream. The classic dessert was well excuted with a great carrot flavour coming out of the cake and ginger coming out of the ice cream. It was a perfect size for one person and I managed to keep most of it for myself LOL but Steve did try it and commented strong ginger and carrot flavours.  Very nice.

Blueberry Crumble Dessert Special at BLT Prime

Erin went for the daily dessert special the Blueberry Cobbler.  The large portion came with Vanila Ice Cream. The biscuits covering the blueberry sauce were light and sweet and they made a nice contrast in texture with the blueberry sauce and ice cream.  The Blueberry sauce was warm making the cold ice cream melt into a delicious sauce soaked up by the biscuits. A classic dessert well executed in a very generous portion. Make sure you try it if it’s on the menu that night.

It was a great meal and I got to enjoy it with Steve and Erin, two leaders in the digital/social media space and of course my son.  BTW BTL Prime offers a $60 Prix Fixe menu, where you get to order of the specials menu, one app, one main, one side and one dessert. I am sure our meal was more expensive than that but if you want to try BLT Prime, the Prix Fixe maybe a more affordable way. 

Tell us your favourite cut of steak at the poll here and recommend the Best of Bucks Co-Steaks here.

Read other review on BLT Prime here, here and here.

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BLT Prime, 111 E 22ND St, New York, NY 10010-5400              (212) 995-8500