Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Out & About...

Hey, everyone!  Sorry for my random delay.  I had a few days that spun into a blur with no blogging on the agenda...and by the time I finally got to the computer, I actually hit a random bit of writers blockJ  So strange.  So bare with me while I attempt to get back in the swingJ.

At least I have 2 great meals that I've had out & about in the last week to share with you.  The first was had at Blackbird in Collingswood, NJ.
My friend & I had been wanting to pay a visit here ever since we heard the chef, Alex Capasso (who also owns the upscale/comfort food joint "West Side Gravy") was from our old neighborhood.  And when we heard Blackbird was celebrating their 6th anniversary with a month-long, $30 4-course tasting menu, we knew it was finally time to head onward.

We sat down to no menus and let the little plates come out and dazzle us.  First up: escargot braised with candied walnuts, cranberries & butternut squash in a pinot sauce...
Oh man...this dish was out of this world.  Crunchy walnuts, tangy cranberries, creamy squash and THE most tender escargot I've ever tasted.  Grant it, I've only had escargot one other time in lifeJ, but they were memorably tough & rubbery.  However, my friend likened these to the consistency of mussels, which is a pretty spot-on comparison.  Really delicious.

And the other highlight was the INCREDIBLE sauce, which I POLISHED OFF every last drop with the crisp & crackly bread...sooo good!

Next up was an obvious crowd-pleaser:  Handcut linguine topped with tomato compote...

Followed by a creamy mushroom risotto (carb-watchers, look awayJ) topped with chicken confit.  The risotto was good, but the chicken stole the show.  It was rich & decadent with a crisp & crunchy 'coating.'  Outstanding!

And finally, our dueling dessert course consisted of a fudgy flour-less chocolate cake topped with raspberries & fresh whipped cream...yum...

And a spring-appropriate LEMON creme brulee.  We gobbled off every last vanilla bean of this lightly lemon-scented baby.
SUCH a great meal and a really fun way to sample quite a variety of their menu offerings.  And hell, I'm ALL for the "non-menus/let the chefs do their thang" thing.  Keeps it exciting...ya never know what you're gonna get AND ya never know what you're gonna like that you probably would never have ordered on your own.

Another great meal was had yesterday when a friend & I ventured over to NYC for a "Moms-Day-Out" of munchingJ

And since it was Cinco de Mayo "week" ANDDD my friend & I can NEVER get enough of guacamole, a quick Google-search of the city's best led us to Toloache in Mid-town for our lunch destination.

And before we even placed our drink order, we ordered up the guacamole trio samplerJ  The one furthest to the left was the traditional (good), the one to the left was the spicy, made with chipotle which was GREAT.  I am not a "spice-person" and this was perfectly spiced for me!  But the FAR AND AWAY PHENOMENAL BEST was that center little cup made with mango, apple & peach and topped with pomegranate seeds.
That was like a little cup of happyJ  Creamy & cool guacamole threaded with sweet bites of fruit...a total surprise just how awesome it turned out to be.  My friend & I both admitted, via text, to wanting another bowl of this around 10pmJ hahahahahhahaha

Next up were our 2 entree "samplers." #1 was a lobster & strawberry ceviche with avocado...
It was good, but not something I'd order again.  But that ingredient combo was just too intriguing to pass upJ

And entree #2 was the suckling pig tacos topped with cactus salad and, probably my favorite food word known to man (just ask Scott, who hears me say it atleast 10 times a monthJ), the...say it with me: chicharron! (in less glamorous terms: fried pork rindJ)
These snuck up on you with how good they were.  One bite was good...and then they just got better & better with each bite.  The savory pork topped with the creamy & subtle cactus salad and the BAM of the CRUNCH of the CHICHARRON, we polished these off and then wished we each had one moreJ

 But our TRUE "snuck up" favorite was the...mmmmm....fried brussel sprouts topped with queso fresco...
Pardon my blurry picture as I basically snapped & INHALED these.  Out of all the delicious dishes, THIS ONE somehow had the most flavor bang for it's buckJ  If you don't like 'sprouts,' try these!  You'll be a believerJ

And how in the world were we suppose to walk out of the restaurant WITHOUT a sampling of the red velvet tre leches cake??
We liked it...but truth be told, we REALLY liked the little scoop of strawberry ice cream that was served along-sideJ

Besides, we had more desserts to tackle in the city.  After trying to walk off as much of our lunch as we could, we eventually made our way to the infamous Momofuku Milk Bar...
Type "Dessert/Manhattan" into Google & I guarantee at least 1 reference to Momofuku will pop up.  They're known for their quirky & addicting array of desserts...and we just happened to sample a fewJ

First was the "cereal milk" soft serve topped with cornflakes.  The ice cream is suppose to taste like the milk leftover from cereal...except my friend & I were thinking it was going to be more "Frosted Flakes" leftovers rather than "Cornflake" leftoversJ
It had a very subtle & distinct flavor that was not too sweet...but the cornflake topping is a MUST!  Not only does it add GREAT crunchy texture, but they're slightly salty, slightly caramel-y which eventually makes this ice cream slightly addicting.  Not a cornflake left when we were doneJ

And our other shared dessert was a slice of their appropriately named "Crack Pie..." 
What is CRACK PIE, you ask?  Just a gooey, sugary, buttery piece of heaven.  In my book, there is NEVER enough brown sugar, and this tasted like a slab of it...oh yeah, mixed with butter.  Is that ever bad??  (However, we did eat this cautiously & left about 1/3...seems like it would make you feel not so great VERY quicklyJ)

And OK, OK...I did have one small sample of one other item when I got home.  I had brought Scott home a little sampler of the Momofuku goodies that included this Blueberry & Cream cookie...
I honestly don't think I've ever tasted a better cookie...EVER!  As "Bent Spoon" makes the PERFECTLY pure tasting cupcakes, Momofuku does so with cookies.  I can't think of ever having a cookie done so RIGHT.  You could just TASTE the fresh ingredients on the first bite.  Chewy, buttery & studded with blueberries & white chocolate, THIS was definitely the most outstanding dessert of the 3.  If you make it to Momofuku, do yourself a favor and GET ONE OF THESE COOKIES.  

Or a dozen.'s that for bouncin back??  Hope you liked my couple little 'food adventures.'  I actually have no clue what dinner has in store tonight because I also have an interesting 'yoga-event' on the agenda.  Should be interesting!  

Have a great, Wednesday!

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