Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seeking Sponsor

Our last call to a generous benefactor to sponsor our cheese habit- and a colorful write-up fell through but this will not stop us from continuing our quest to seek world cheese domination! Or at least very trained cheese palates.

Looking for a sponsor for the following event that has YUM written all over it it

It Takes a Tough Cheese

Wine and cheese, of course. But bourbon and cheese? A class and tasting will be held this evening from 7 to 8:30, with a Champagne reception at 6:30, at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center classroom, 500 West 37th Street. Tickets are $85; advance registration is preferred; (877) 797-1200 or

In addition to a blog entry shout out we will cook you a meal, and name it after you (as most New York benefactors appreciate- see the Steve Schwarzman NY Public Library)

Friday, April 18, 2008


I love cheese. This is probably quite obvious given the title of our blog. Cheese tasting, at restaurants or stops into Whole Foods on Bowery, Murray Cheese, Essex Market, or my fridge may be may favorite past time. When I am in the mood for a creamy, smooth and flavorful goat, Humboldt Fog is solid. There is a line of vegetable ash in the middle, and gets creamier moving outward with a very light edible rind. I didn’t realize that this cheese has a place on every cheese plate until dining at Cork Wine Bar, a Washington DC new up and coming restaurant. With a group of six I was put in charge of the cheese plate. I was with my friend St. Louis Sam the Eater, who scanned the list and said, “I know its standard, but I can’t resist.” I realized that Sam had introduced me to this cheese while visiting me in New York last summer. I have consistently ordered it ever since. While I can always count on trying the most unique menu items with Sam, Humboldt Fog to him may be standard, but I prefer to think of it as a staple.

Westville East- a Must!

About 6 months ago I moved into my East Village apartment across from a small restaurant called Westville East. I immediately put it on the must try list, in fact I may have subconsciously picked this apartment because the restaurant looked so good. It was not the lines of people or affordable prices that jumped out at me, but the daily specials and more importantly 14 different daily market vegetables specials at $15 for 4. I don’t know whether I was saving it for a special occasion or crowd, but it took me 6 months to try this gem. Six months later I want to kick myself in the butt for not having made this affordable, fresh, hit the spot restaurant with a very friendly staff my neighborhood go-to.

This particular Tuesday night, in Sex and the City fashion, I met with my three best girl friends for a late dinner. In addition to a bottle of Californian Sauvignon Blanc, we shared excellent crab cakes over greens, that were shaped like ping pong balls, crab stuffed, cooked with flavorful scallions, peppers and spices. The tarter sauce with a kick was the perfect compliment. Grilled salmon over salad proved generous but typical. Baked macaroni and cheese was delicious- old school with a béchamel cream sauce and crispy pecorino on top rather than really cheesy style. I could not resist ordering a side of the homemade English muffin, which was light and delicious, unique as the dough is slightly sweet. The highlight of the meal included the veggie plate in which we sampled sautéed mushrooms with leaks, roasted artichokes with pecorino (my favorite!), roasted asparagus with pecorino (perfectly thin- I am a stickler for this as I hate fat asparagus), and pesto infused mashed potatoes. The only problem was that trying 5 of the 14 veggies was not enough.

At Westville East dessert should not be passed over. We shared a berry cobbler a la mode, made with blueberries and raspberries, served warm in a small dish baked with a white flour crisp top with a heaping scoop of melting homemade vanilla ice cream that was incredible. A peanut butter fanatic in the group also could not resist the daily special milkshake of peanut butter brownie which you are given the option of vanilla or chocolate base- we wisely went vanilla.

My feeling about this restaurant was right on target- a neighborhood go-to favorite. My only regret is that it took me 6 months to get here- there is no wrong group or situation for this gem.

The evolution of our tastes: progression or regression?

On a hot summer day of 1996, deep in the woods of New Hampshire, Julie and I bonded over piglet and pooh bear stuffed animals. Thus two skinny late blooming clutzes began a beautiful friendship.

The early years were marked by bad camp food, eating juju bees out of a camera bag and fruit by the foot hidden in socks. Indulgences included shrimp flavored ramen noodles stolen from another camper’s stash hidden behind the bed and incredible avocado, sprout cheese sandwiches on trip day. Our reunions throughout the early years were marked by ice cream sundaes and stove top popcorn.

Remarkably as we’ve grown older, our friendship and love for food has grown aligned. Staples of this new era include sundried tomatoes, anchovies, CHEESE, and wine (lots of it). On a recent spring Saturday after an afternoon indulgence of soft serve in peppermint schnapps to reward taxes and attempted studying Julie and I climbed into bed to watch NBC’s The Office online with a bottle of Prosecco. It wasn’t long before we brought out the Manchego and Parrano and two easy to please girls were made extremely happy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

feeling charitable?

sponsor us!

saxelby cheesemongers - one of our favorite institutions - is running a "Day a-Whey" day trip to Mecox Bay Dairy and Wolffer Vineyard. to us, it sounds like a perfect day. priceless, you might say. and yet, there is a price. but with your quick, easy payments of lots of money, we can go! and take pictures! and tell you all about it! doesn't that sound like a great deal? for you? (hint: yes!)

we're not seriously expecting you to pay for us to go on this thing (you know, unless you want to...) but i thought we'd fill you in on all the fun we're not having. here's saxelby's dreamy description of their planned excursion:
Saxelby Cheesemongers says: You don't have to travel far from New York City to taste some of the finest wines and cheeses in the world! Cheese lovers, oenophiles, and just about anyone interested in sustainability, local farming, and good food will delight in this fabulous, farm-y excursion! Our Day A-Whey will begin at Wolffer Vineyard with a guided wine tasting and picnic lunch. Next, we'll stop at Mecox Bay Dairy, a fourth generation family farm in Bridgehampton for a tour of their farm and creamery. And last but not least, if the weather permits (and we're crossing our fingers it does!) we'll visit at a local beach for a little stroll in the sun and sand. Oh, and did we mention that we'll do the driving?? All you have to do is show up hungry!

A Day A-Whey starts with wine (as all good days a-whey should...) at Wolffer Vineyard. Daytrippers will have time to meander through the vines and see the beginnings of the wine making process in full bloom. Around noontime, we'll convene on Wolffer's beautiful terrace for a guided tasting and picnic lunch featuring five wines, an array of raw milk cheeses from Mecox Bay Dairy, and other local fixins from NYC Greenmarkets. Roman Roth, a German-born winemaker who studied winemaking all over the world before settling on Long Island to pursue his craft, produces excellent wine utilizing traditional and sustainable methods that highlight the loamy soil and mild climate of the East End of Long Island.

Next, we'll head out to Mecox Bay Dairy, where Art Ludlow, farmer and cheese maker extraordinaire, will treat daytrippers to a tour of his farm. We'll see how fruits and veggies, turkeys, pigs, and cows all play a part on this tiny, yet diverse family farm. Art will then lead us on a tour of his creamery and explain the oh-so-mysterious process that transforms raw milk into delicious cheese!

Finally, we'll stop off at a local beach for a late-afternoon stroll and an opportunity to soak up some precious early summer sunshine; with the bus returning to the city by 7:30 pm

Couldn't we all use A Day A-Whey?!

For tickets ($110) and further information, please visit:
and, uh... we accept paypal. i'm just saying.

Friday, April 4, 2008


remember sam, from top chef (season 2)? of course you do. he was the ruggedly handsome (long hair) yet vulnerable (diabetic) one who really deserved to win but was robbed of his victory because the producers would rather have seen the drama unfold between that whiny pre-pubescent wolverine wannabe, marcel, and ilan, the reasonably talented one-trick paella-making pony, than watch sam and ilan pal around good-naturedly in the kitchen. you remember.

anyway, in the days before taking top chef by storm, sam worked in a humble little restaurant near union square: punch. we've been hearing good things about their dinner appetizers, so we finally made time to grace them with our (and our friend hannah's) appetites.

there were at least a dozen appealing items on the menu, so our limited budget and stomach capacity prohibited us from giving you a full view, but we were very pleased with the sampling we did get. first, there was the salmon tartare:the grilled naan bread that came with it was warm and moist and fluffy, with enough crispiness to hold up to the tartare - which itself was an unexpectedly flavorful combination of salmon and apple. it sounded weird to us too, but the flavors mix really nicely.

because we can never get enough raw (or quasi-cooked) seafood, we had to try the maine crab and avocado rolls with yellowfin tuna sashimi:
i didn't even realize that's what these were when they arrived - they just looked like tuna on sushi rice - but, upon closer inspection (and tasting) i realized that they were so much more. the avocado flavor is mild, and contributes primarily to the smooth, creamy texture of the roll, enhancing the crab taste (which, in my opinion, all too often is lost in dishes like this) and the texture of the tuna.

roasted pumpkin hush puppies?! in april?? you betcha. these seemed like a safe investment, as they were one of the cheapest items on the menu, but we were not disappointed:
the description didn't really do them justice, as they did not look or taste anything like hush puppies to me. they were, rather, creamy little pumpkin-y nuggets with a delicately crispy exterior that was hard to penetrate without spurting the filling out on the plate. becca and hannah were uncomfortable with the idea of pumpkin in springtime, but not me. along with peppermint, it's one of those fall/winter flavors that i enjoy all year round.

last, we took a chance and ordered the vegetable tasting with vegetable lasagna, described as "best of the market" (how could we say no?). its essence was vaguely omakase-esque, since the vegetables included are whatever is fresh and abundant, but we're pretty sure that that's generally a good thing. in any case, it definitely was this time: