Monday, August 22, 2011

I know what all the craze is about...TACOS

230 West 4th Street
New York

Empellon has been recommended to me at least three times this summer. It is the hot new place for amazing Mexican food. And ABSURDLYDELICIOUSMOUTHWATERING TACOS! With my sister and my mom we figured we would never get a last-minute reservation on a Saturday night, but my sister tried and succeeded and we were set (and at the reasonable hour of 7:45 no less)!

The loud, hip, dim-lit front room at Empellon is worlds different from the quieter, relaxed, bright back room. But all booked up, we settled at our table in the front room and began the adventure. The cocktails, although small, were fresh and quenched the thirst that a Saturday of hanging out will create. We opted for the guacamole and 2 salsas -- chili arbole and smoked cashew -- which were fantastic. The guacamole was basic but combined with either of the two saulsces (salsa/sauces because of their smooth consistency) it took on new levels of deliciousness. Beware, the chili arbole salsa packs a punch!

Next, the tacos. WOW! We had to ask that they come with corn tortillas but with 3 huge tacos to an entree sized portion and the fine tuned flavor combinations that came out, asking for different tortillas is hardly a complaint. We ordered the Chicken with Black Kale and Salsa Verde, Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo (garlic), and Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower and Raisin Puree.

I tried the scallops first and the two enormous scallops per taco were deliciously seared on the outside and soft and meaty on the inside. I was surprised by the sweetness of the raisin puree, but in contrast to the typical spicy flavors of Mexican food, I thought it was a beautiful reinvention of the wheel.

Next up was the skirt steak which was unreal. I did not want that taco to ever end! Empellon does not skimp on fully filling their tacos and the strength and durability of those corn tortillas was mesmerizing. The barely sweet garlic sauce paired perfectly with the caramelized onions atop the steak and the meat was cooked to perfection. This taco was appetizer, entree, and
dessert in one!

The chicken taco was great, but did not stand up to my transformative skirt steak taco experience right before, but I like the flavor of the bitter kale with the chicken (and a few spoonfuls of the leftover salsas). I did add my own spice to the tacos, but only after taking a bite and fully embracing the "naked" flavor that the chef so excellently presented.

We also had the Jicama with Radishes and Watermelon dressing salad which was equally as delicious as the tacos and a nice light and summery dish to accompany the meats.

Way too full to even consider dessert, I know I will be returning to Empellon as soon as I can. After all, they have 10 different tacos on their menu and I only tried 3!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zagat weighs in on Mexican

Here it is...Zagat Buzz 8 Best Mexican Restaurants in NYC

I've only been to two!! HELP!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

They Draw & They.....

What a cool website! Makes me want to take our my watercolors....and fry pan/blender/baking sheet.

Oh. And They Draw & They Travel!
Haven't quite figured this one out, but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Better late than never...

The blogger's dilemma hits again and I've been terrible at keeping this baby updated. Despite the ease that comes with the ch-ch-ch-changes (see previous post).

Well, better late than never and here are some of the excellent gluten-free finds I've had this summer. Oh, and they are delicious.

316 Columbus Ave
New York

This is a great Italian restaurant. Very classic/old-school with a ridiculous wine assortment. AND they have a gluten-free menu. This gluten-free menu is divine. Everything (and more) on the regular menu can be made gluten-free. Pizza, pasta, garlic bread, bruschetta. You name it! This is an Upper West Side staple and whether you are gluten-free or not, the food is fresh and delicious and the staff is beyond friendly. For $1.00 you can get a gluten-free roll to dip in your olive oil, and there is nothing more enjoyably than sharing bread with the non-gluten-free brethren. The Claudia Cardinale cocktail -- prosecco and St. Germain -- is absurd. Worth a trip just for that!

54 Irving Place
New York

This raw vegetarian restaurant was recommended to me by a random woman on the subway who saw me ogling over cupcakes that were not gluten-free. She said they were the best cupcakes in town, I said I was gluten-free, and she pulled out a juice and doggy bag from One Lucky Duck, the counterpart to Pure Food and Wine. 3 subway stops later, I was hooked and knew this place would be high on my list of go-to restaurants. After many attempts, and canceled reservations, I finally made it with my sister and a dear friend of ours. The menu was extensive (and a bit expensive) but if you order right, you cannot really go wrong. Definitely the lasagna, definitely the tamales, NOT the polenta (if you like real cooked polenta). The sangria was divine and the vibe in the restaurant is very nice -- not like the bare essentials vibe that some veg restaurants give off. In a world where we are all trying to be environmental and eat less meat, this is a great place to get started.