Friday, December 24, 2010

SPEED PLATING - Are you freaking serious ??

I almost choked on my coffee this morning when I got to page 34 of my Women’s Health Magazine. Almost choked, really irked and made me laugh in disgust. Speedplating? Really? What is the world coming to?

Speed Plating as described in WH, is a speed dating for foodies, where singles are paired off with a different date for each part of a four-course meal. According to the magazine, these food-focused flirt-fests are now taking place in New York City and will be expanding to more cities.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer letting happenstance do it’s job when it comes to the matters of my heart. I like the idea of someone catching my eye before I let him catch me in all of my glory, sharing and devouring a four-course meal, that is. I prefer it when I meet that special someone because he was courageous enough to introduce himself to me, asked my number and calls to invite me for dinner. To you guys out there, this is not high maintenance, it’s called dating.

Yes, we live in such a fast-paced world; it’s a necessity to multi-task. But let’s not bring multi-tasking into the dining table or the bedroom – worst of all, trying to combine the two in one sitting. Seriously, what’s the next concept in line after this? Mail-order-spouse with your Amazon order? Combo #9 with Date #2??

To all my single ladies out there, please let this concept fail. I think this was inspired by George Costanza, eating a pastrami sandwich while watching a portable TV during foreplay. And guess what, George’s girlfriend was NOT happy. I'm just saying.......


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Dear Food Buddha,

Last month, I discovered your show, thanks to my inability to sleep while I’m up in the air, en route to DFW. I was flipping through Continental’s In-Flight Entertainment channels, hoping to look for something boring to help me doze off. And then I flipped through TLC and saw two guys occupying a table (or maybe it was a couple of tables) just filled with food. I thought at first it was an eating competition, but the two guys (I learned on later that it was you and Fireman Mike) were not inhaling the food, but rather pleasurably taking your time in eating. That caught my attention, goodbye in-flight nap, hello Food Buddha !!!!

In this episode, you were in New Orleans, in search of an inspiration for a dish that you will create for your restaurant. You already caught my eye by being a chef. But when you ordered O.O.E. off the menu, you took my breath and heart away. I was smitten !! You ordered One Of Each Item off the menu on all three restaurants that you visited. WOW. Fireman Mike was one lucky guy. I wanted to be Fireman Mike the entire time I was watching the show!!! That was probably the first and only time that I wanted to be a fireman. One named Mike. But there’s always a first for everything, right? Right.

Towards the end of the show, after you found your inspiration and about ready to create a new dish for your restaurant in Chicago; I found murmuring to myself, “I bet he owns Sunda”. And I was right. When I went to Chicago last August for Lollapalooza, on the second day of the music festival, right after listening to Dan Black, before Social Distortion – I needed to recharge, went to Chow Town North and found Sunda. I couldn’t resist. For $9, I got myself not one or two but THREE!! Braised Pork Belly Bao Buns, with pickled vegetables & Hoison. The bun was moist and soft, and has that sweet taste, reminded me of the siopao’s from NYC Chinatown. I loved that there was a generous amount of veggies in there, carrots, caramelized onions, cucumber and hints of scallions. A little bit salty from the hoisin sauce and sweet from the bun and then the softness of the braised pork, contrasted by the bit of crunchiness from the fresh veggies. I was surprised that I didn’t have to cut other starving concertgoers for these scrumptious buns.

But, I was not surprised to hear that you, the Food Buddha, own Sunda. I wish I had the time for a full sit-down meal but if I promise that I will do so for Lollapalooza 2011, will you promise to bring me along for your next O.O.E. adventure? I think it’s an even exchange =) No doubt about it.

Your biggest fan in the universe,
Gypsy Addie


Thursday, December 16, 2010


179 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013

If you love olives, olive oil and Greek yogurt as much as I do, chances are, you’ve come across Fantis, a century-old and a very well-respected (Greek and Mediterranean) food importer in America. Fantis is a leading Greek food company which has been importing the freshest, highest quality Greek foods (Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese, and Ibis (I love these – mixed jelly beans!!). When I found out that the owners of Fantis also own a Greek restaurant in New York City, I was so ecstatic and thankful to have been invited for a dinner tasting.

So it is quite fitting that the owners had named the restaurant, Thalassa “The Sea”, as the establishment’s menu focuses on contemporary Greek seafood dishes. Thanks to its Fantis link, the diners can expect that unspoken guarantee that they will be getting a selection of fresh and unique variety of imported Mediterranean and Greek fish straight from the source.

When I arrived at the restaurant with my friend Christine, we were greeted immediately and seated in the main dining room with impressive 18-foot high ceilings, open-faced brick walls, Greek urns, shiny hardwood floors, with blue mood lighting and white leather chairs surround each dining table (a candle on every table). The atmosphere is impressively sexy, pretty, and uncrowded, even with a party on the lower level (wine room).

While browsing through the menu, the bread Basket came around and from the fresh selection, we opted bread with rosemary and olives. They brought then brought some Melitzanosalata (which was chunky and tasty dip made of eggplant and tomatoes and scallions usually with olive oil and sea salt), taramosalata (another dip which was made from salty roe, bread crumbs, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil), some Greek olives and extra virgin olive oil with fresh rosemary.

The menu is seasonal, simple yet sophisticated, ranging from Greek peasant salad to Lamb Shank Ravioli, it was tough to pick as every item sounded very enticing. The wine menu is equally impressive (12,000 bottles) with award winning selection of domestic and international wines. I was both excited and intimidated, so we just asked to pour us some Greek wine (white for me and red for my hot date). That was a good call as the wines were great complement to our meal.

They’ve brought us a dainty amouse bouche, made of shrimp salad on top of cucumber slice with Greek yogurt and fish eggs. A refreshing bite-sized deliciousness.

After much thought, we decided to try:


Maine Diver Scallops, $17
Fresh scallops, wrapped in kataifi (shredded phyllo dough soaked in syrup) with sheep’s milk butter (tend to be pungent but was beautifully tempered by the capers, and Kalamata balsamic reduction), sprinkled with some diced scallions, tomatoes and capers. The texture and flavor were utter delight, it was buttery, and the soft, light and flavorful mollusks were contrasted with the crunch of the phyllo. My friend Christine, who was not a big seafood fan, raved this dish as a “winner”. In fact, she liked this so much that she even ordered the snapper for main dish!!

Dolmas, $14
Very savory grape leaves, carefully stuffed with veal and rice in a delicate avgolemono sauce.

Portugese Octapodi, $16
Grilled octopus with micro organic greens, olive oil and red wine vinaigrette. The octopus was tender, tasty and seasoned well. The char grilled flavor was simple but tasty.

Seafood Sausage
This is not on the regular menu, so please check with the staff for pricing and availability before ordering. It is the chef’s special appetizer. A sausage made of crabmeat, shrimp, lobster meat and scallops, spread on top of a lemon buttery sauce and sprinkled with fresh diced tomatoes and fresh greens. It was quite enjoyable to have four delicious seafood combined into a sausage. It should be added to their regular menu!

Main Entrée

Lavraki, $33.00
Lavraki is a lean white fish with wild, moist, tender flakes. It is from Greece, the whole fish is supposed to be for 1 person but it is big enough to share. It was grilled whole, filleted and topped with capers. The fish was fresh, delicate and light.

Hawaiian Lemon Snapper Fillet, $
The snapper fillet was grilled, and served with trahana and asparagus. The fish was thick and mouth-watering juicy.

After the main course, we were treated with glasses of Greek dessert wine and a very nice ice cream sampler. The sampler was bite-sized samplings of pistachio, vanilla, pumpkin and coffee ice creams served in a waffle cone with fresh strawberries, raspberries and a mint leaf. It was adorably delectable, my favorite was the pistachio.

Since Thalassa make their desserts on site, I had to try their:

Valrhona Chocolate Crepes, $
Crepe filled with the luxurious Valrhona chocolate, served with rice pudding (generously sprinkled with cinnamon) and Fresh Berries

Toasted Greek Almond & Walnut Baklava, $
This was a delicious layering of the sweet and crunchy phyllo dough and then filled with chopped almonds and walnuts, then sweetened with honey. It was incredibly nutty, sweet and luscious. Great way to end a delightful meal.

Our meal was a never-ending medley of seasonal and fresh ingredients, healthy flavors of the Mediterranean diet and the warmth of Greek hospitality. Needless to say, it exceeded my already high expectations.

Thalassa’s motto is “Eat Fish and Live Longer”. After this meal, my motto is to live longer to eat more at Thalassa.


Monday, December 6, 2010


51 Avenue B
Between 3rd and 4th Street
New York, NY 10009

A few weeks ago I was invited to a Press dinner for Max, a rustic home-style Italian trattoria in the East Village. I was to blog about my dinner experience. That’s easy enough. It turned out, it’s more than about the food – it’s about good food, the passion, inspiration and how it connects people.

About two years ago, on a very cold winter evening, three very hungry friends ventured to Tribeca. One of the friends, Christina, urged Addie and Rima to brave the cold to have a try at what she thought was one of the best lasagnas that she ever had. So off they all went to a restaurant called Max.

About fourteen years ago Luigi, affectionately called the “visionario” of his family, left Southern Italy for the Americas. When his friends would go out to play, he would rather read Max, an Italian magazine that features a lot of things American and would dream to live there. After years of hard work, Luigi is now the proud owner/chef of a restaurant that prepares home-style Italian dishes, emphasizing Southern Italian flavors. He named his restaurant Max.

Four days ago, I went to Max, East Village where I met the owner/chef. My passion for food was pint-sized compared to Luigi’s but my continual search for good food came into full swing with Luigi’s unflappable passion to deliver it.

The press dinner started with a fresh basket of Tuscan bread and the delicious Salsetta (Max’s complimentary dipping sauce). This delicious dipping sauce is one of its kind, made with a mixture of Extra virgin olive oil, roasted tomato paste and olives. We were also served with a glass of proseco, which went well with the appetizers that we sampled.

Crostino Toscano $6.95
- Chicken liver pate on toasted bread, which I recommend to order as an appetizer if you’re a fan of pates. Every bite is rich, doesn’t have that pasty texture, not overpowering or too heavy – you will need all the tummy space for the main course!

Melanzane a Fungetto $5.95
- Diced fried eggplant in thick tomato sauce with basil, also a solid dish. The tomato sauce was described on the menu as thick, but it complements the thin and delicate eggplant pieces.

Mozzarella di Bufalo
- imported from Southern Italy, it is one of the best, melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella cheese that I’ve ever tried. It is not on Max’s regular menu, so you might want to ask your server about pricing and availability, if you plan on ordering it.

Insalata Mista $6.95
- It’s your usual fresh mixed green salad, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Probably a good start if you’re going to attempt finding room for dessert.

Ravioli of the Day $13.95
- the ravioli of the day was Ravioli di Porcini in Crema Tartufata, this dish was so rich in flavor. I’m more fond of red sauces, but I enjoyed every bite. I thought it would be a mushroom overkill, what with Ravioli being stuffed with Porcini mushrooms then again poured with more mushrooms (sauce that is, crema tartufata is usually made from combination of truffles, olives, olive oil and seasonings). I was wrong, this was delicious.

Rigatoni Al Ragu Napoletano $10.95
- The Rigatoni was cooked perfectly al dente, meatballs were delicious, sweet Italian sausage was a good complement to the flavorful meat sauce.

Lasagna Fatta in Casa $10.95
- This was the lasagna that my good friend Christina raved about and now I remembered why. The combination of the homemade pasta, chunks of meat within and the red sauce that tasted kinda sweet with a hint of cinnamon, complemented well with béchamel (thin white sauce made of butter, flour and milk). The tasting portion was a good size, so I can just imagine the actual serving size – it would be a steal for this price.

Fettucini Al Sugo Toscano $10.95
- Again, homemade fettuccini was cooked perfectly al dente, with Max’s tomato meat sauce was unusually sweet, the acidity that you normally taste in tomato sauce was not that apparent here. According to the chef, the red toscano sauce is a concoction of celery, carrots, onion, wine, ground beef and a spoon of heavy cream. According to me, this sauce is a concoction of deliciousness.

Filetto di Baccala Al Forno $15.95
- The pan seared fresh cod fish was meaty and juicy, and served with creamy mashed potatoes. I’d order this if I started with the Melanzane a Fungetto.

O’ Polpettone “E Mamma” $13.95
- Mom’s meat loaf with potato pancetta gratin and mixed greens. The meat loaf was shaped like a football and when cut, you can see that it was stuffed with a perfectly hard boiled egg in the middle. It was seasoned well, a little crusty outside yet soft and well seasoned as you bite into it. And the potato pancetta gratin is not something to overlook. The saltiness from the pancetta, the grated cheese, starchiness of the potato, all layered and topped with a browned crust. A steal for $13.95 – this is not a dish, it’s a meal.

Polenta al Ragu d’Agnello
- light and fluffy but still tasty, it was very delicate to the mouth. I didn’t see this on their regular menu, but was part of the Press dinner tasting menu, so ask the staff prior to ordering it.

The round of desserts came and I wished I had brought another stomach with me because the homemade Tiramisu ($6.95), Panna Cotta ($6.95) and Crème Brulee (not on the regular menu) were served in a generous potion but I could only take a spoonful each and I had to wave the white flag. I officially surrendered. Happily of course.

Before enjoying each dish (all fourteen of them with a bonus small portion of the Gnocchi with walnuts and gorgonzola, very good combination of flavors, and the gnocchi is so fresh), Luigi served and answered our questions with gusto. There’s no doubt that Luigi does everything with passion.

Now its my turn to share this passion to other foodies, and I’ll start by bringing Christina and Rima back to Max.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rise n°1

Rise n°1
Suite 220
Inwood Village
Dallas, Tx 75209

The first time that I heard of Rise was from my airline neighbor on my way to Dallas, to visit family, back in May 2010. We were both en route to DFW out of EWR, both visiting family, and both miserable as we couldn’t get a second of shut eye from a colic baby who was sitting right in front of us. Long story short, we got to talking, talked about our Dallas itineraries and exchanged restaurant recommendations. I urged her to go to Porch (which was one of my must hit spots on that visit) and she told me about Rise. Her words were, “almost magical, very French and a must go, if you love soufflé like I do.” Pressed on the amount of hours and days, I only had time to go to Porch and I’m sure that she had gone to Rise.

Fast forward to six months later and another family visit to Dallas, I finally made it to Rise on November 6th, 2011.

On its website, Rise n°1 describes itself as “a 92-seat salon de soufflé and wine bar, located in the heart of landmark retail center Inwood Village. A relaxed bistro focused on the soufflé – the masterpiece of French cuisine – rise n°1 is the first of its kind, bringing the French classic to Dallas diners in a comfortable, casual environment.” When I went in with my family to get seated, the maitre d was wearing a beret; the décor was cozy and chic with its wine bottle chandelier, the cups that are recycled from old wine glasses, the row of small tree trunks and tree branches that serve as the restaurant dividers. In my opinion, these are not necessarily exclusive to “French”- decor but it’s quite adorable.

Small loaves of hot baguettes were brought to our table, while we were busy studying the menu. Here’s what my family ordered:

Chariot de fromages
- 3 fromages $14
- When this came out, it was a good production, their cheese specialist wheeled out the International cheese cart filled with different international cheeses, which she happily recited and described to us. I was the only one that is considered “cheese crazy”, so I went on to order 2 soft cheeses ( the Camembert and the chef’s creation, which was a combination of all the soft cheeses on the cart and was rolled onto one) and 1 sharp (extra sharp cheddar). The fromages were plated with apricots, dates, nuts and sweet gherkins, in addition to a separate plate of slightly toasted breads. For $14, it’s priced reasonably and worth every cheddar.

Marshmallow Soup
- Made from Roma tomatoes, the tomato bisque (I also tasted a hint of carrots there) is perfectly complimented with the “marshmallow”-goodness of the goat cheese that floats on top like pillows and the homemade pesto that was poured on top. I know Rise prides itself with their soufflés, but this was my absolute favorite that was ordered. A little tart, savory in both taste and smell, it is rich in flavor in every spoonful. Priced at $9, I’d come back to Rise just for the sheer enjoyment of having this soup again.

Savory Soufflés
Truffle Infused Mushroom soufflé $16
- When I asked if the mushrooms were organic and was it locally grown, our server paused for a second as if he wasn’t sure. And he said that he thinks it’s from Plano and that it was made of button mushrooms. Hence, the word “infused”. This was just okay, especially after coming off from the flavorful marshmallow soup.

Crab soufflé $20
- You will not find this on their regular menu. Its one of their specials, made with crabmeat and Boursin cheese. This combination, made into a soufflé, was buttery, a little salty, and delicate but rich. Was it worth the $20? Probably not. But it’s the best savory soufflé from the selection that we ordered.

Lobster Soufflé $40
- It didn’t look like a soufflé to me. There wasn’t enough fluff, and the lobster shell was used instead of ramekins. It was a big portion, with some chunks of lobster meat, it wasn’t impressive and not worth the extra price. This was highly recommended by our wait staff, I thought it was because he thinks it’s the best, but he just wants to sell more.

Entrees – half of our party consisted of my 3 young gentlemen nephews, and the youngest, whom I asked his opinion of Rise, told me, “The menu needs a kid’s meal with chicken tenders and French fries.” Good point, after all, this is a French restaurant, so, where’s the French fries? ;-)

I did not try any of these, so I cannot give a review, but just a description of the dish. I did try the house salad that came with and that was fresh and drizzled with a lovely pecan vinaigrette. When I asked the waiter about the dressing, he told me that it was made in-“house” and that it is available to be purchased to take home. And that in fact, almost everything that I see in the restaurant is for sale and to just tell him if there’s anything that interests me. I almost asked him if he’s a wait staff or a salesperson, but I bit my lip as we’re only halfway through our meal.

(2 orders of ) Parisian Jambon Sandwich $13
- Mini French baguettes with ham, Gruyere, cornichons and sweet butter.

Brie & Cornichon Baguettes $13
- classic country French sandwich with creamy Brie cheese and cornichons on two mini baguettes

Sweet Soufflés

Chocolate soufflé $10
- This was murdered as soon as it was set on the table. As they say, “You wait for the soufflé, the soufflé does not wait for you.” – This was definitely the case for the chocolate soufflé. This is usually baked for 15 minutes, it took us less than 15 seconds to devour it. lol. It was good, sweet and tasty and not enough to be shared around 6 people.

Grand Marnier soufflé $12
- The white chocolate sauce was fantastic.

Overall, the food was good, it has its highs and lows, most dishes that we ordered were tasty, some are overpriced but the effort to selling me other products besides food (which is the only reason why I came here in the first place) is a little overdone and a bit deplaisant. There was a bit too much selling and pointing out that everything is “French”. Yes, I get the concept, but please next time, just feed me instead of selling overpriced “French” stuff for me to take home. I’m just here for the food.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are you a Moody Foodie?

We’ve all experienced this, at one point or another. And it’s quite frustrating. You know.. That predicament when you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for exactly. It’s even worse when you’re trying to plan a meal outing with someone who is equally unsure. And worst, if that someone is the person that you’re dating.

Does this sound familiar?

“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
“Well, what are you in the mood for?”
“I’m not sure. What are YOU in the mood for?”

OH. MY. GOD. This vicious exchange of uncertainty does not alleviate that hunger-crank, does it? At this point, I just don’t think there’s a safe choice. Some people would recommend, “buffet” or to be adventurous and explore a place that you have yet to try. I disagree. Buffet does give a lot of options – a plentiful of mediocrity which will guarantee a regrettable over-eating moment. Going someplace new, sure sounds like a promising plan. But I think it’s a disaster awaiting. You’re already irritable from being hungry, so anything can and will potentially set you off. A neighboring diner who won’t stop talking about himself, the waiter who hasn’t came by for the last couple of minutes, or that unsuspecting girl with the perfectly shiny hair, waiting to be seated.

How about going to one of your favorite spots? Sounds like it could work. But I highly discourage it, especially if the conversation premise goes like this..

“Well, I guess we can just go to Sushi Samba. Again.”
“Yeah” Siggghhhs “I guess.”

To the (occasionally) moody foodies out there, may I suggest.. A visit to your local BIERGARTEN =) Adults, (surprisingly a fair amount of) kids, pretty much everyone there just seem to be in a relatively good mood. The food, let me tell you now, will not be a sure hit. But when you’re indecisive, you don’t get a right to critique.
Plus did you know that the human body naturally will get thirsty more often than it gets hungry? Many people mistake thirst as hunger (about 8 out of 10). So give it a go, drink up your moodiness my moody foodies! Venture out to your neighboring biergarten !!

Below are a few that I visited over the summer (even when I wasn’t moody):

Zeppelin Hall Restaurant & Biergarten (Jersey City, NJ)
- Great space, indoor and outdoor spaces and televisions to watch your favorite team, the menu is not great, just your good ‘ol schnitzels, burgers, giant pretzels and grilled sausages.

The Standard Hotel Biergarten (NYC)
- Pricey (not surprising, since it’s in Meatpacking district), regular bar food on the menu, but great bathroom (trust me – its interesting).

Bohemian Hall Beer Garden (Astoria)
- Pretty good menu. Try one of these three:
Bramboraky – Czech potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce
Palacinka – definitely a must order!!! Baked crepes with choice of chicken or vegetable (get the chicken), melted Muenster cheese, spinach and mushrooms.
Anglicka Slanina – Cold double smoked bacon and crunchy pickle. Its bacon, you can’t go wrong!
Little Kraut, Red Bank's (NJ) Organic Beer Garden
- They have an item on their menu called "Roasted Christmas Goose" !!
Happy Oktober everyone =)

SAUF AUS !!! Damitst no oane dringa kannst…


Monday, September 27, 2010

David Burke Prime, so good, it makes me rhyme.

**I've been to David Burke's restaurants in Las Vegas, in New York and now Chicago. I find his dishes deliciously playful, and I had to write my blog about his restaurant in a similar manner. I used 5 different nursery rhymes as an inspiration, do you recognize any or all of them?

Here goes..

There was a not so old of a woman who loved shoes.
She had so many shoes, she knew what to do.
To the Prime, she wore her favorite gray pair from LAMB
Not to be mistaken with the lamb that can be made into a good broth,
The meal started with some fresh and warm bread,
With whipped butter, surely it’s a meal we’ll be talking about in bed.

Six pretty ladies sat down to dine;
Wait staff passed by and they asked for wine;
Amanda, Addie, Caitlin, Tammy, Kelly and Christine,
"Can I get you anything else?"
"Shrimp cocktail, surf and turf dumplings and an angry lobster as a start ."
"Shall I come back for the rest of your orders?"
"No, no, Miss, please follow it with filet mignons, tuna steak and some dry aged steak .""
Oh, no, we’ll not stop ; we’d like some creamed spinach, basil Whipped potato ."
“And a dessert that’s not tart.”
“Why, we do have a great one”
“You must try our Red Velvet Cake in a Can.”
“Yes we will, yes we will.”
“And yes, it was yum. It was yummy yum in our tum tum.”

Little Miss Tammy, sat next to a muppet,
Eating her delicious food and drinking her red wine;
Not sure what happened, but water came spilling down, goodness its not wine,
The muppet helped Miss Tammy
By wiping Tammy’s dress to keep the water away.

A good steak on a great day
Sends the doctor far far away
Thick and juicy steak in the evening
Doctor won’t be warning
A fabulously fresh tuna steak at night
Will make any doctor jealous outright
We ate a delicious meal that we’ll be dreaming in bed
David Burke was born to feed
If I can have a similar meal, Three each day, seven days a week Ruddy apple, ruddy cheek .

To Prime, to prime, if you’re off to phat meal not a pig,
So delicious it would make you eat again, back to Prime again, jiggety jig.
To Prime, to Prime, to have the Red Velvet Cake in a Can ,
Its like a little piece of heaven, .yes I am a FAN =)