• Location: Brooklyn, NY

Latest Comments

Ask the Critic: My Brooklyn 'Vacation,' a Guide for Manhattanites

I love this question, and wish my own folks were as adventurous as the question-er!

From downtown Brooklyn, it's a fairly short cab ride to Red Hook, where you might enjoy a cocktail at Fort Defiance and dinner at the Good Fork - both places fit your requirements, except for taking reservations. You can also take a wonderful sunset stroll along water behind Fairway.

Serious Eats Neighborhood Guides: Sam Sifton's Red Hook (and Southwest Brooklyn)

Hang on just a second. How is it no one has mentioned the conspicuous absence of Fort Defiance here? They offer a well-curated selection of mostly French wines, the best cocktails in the neighborhood, and terrific food - plus Burger Night on Mondays! Sam Sifton must have a grudge - there's no way this place should be missing from a list of Red Hook dining highlights.
But at least he didn't include Botanica. That place is a joke. A gorgeous space, but terrible service and mediocre, overpriced food and drinks.

Cook the Book: 'The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook'

Homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. Good lord, I miss the South.

Dinner Tonight: Curried Lentil Soup with Chickpea Purée

I saw this in Bon Appetit and made it right away. It's fantastic, especially with some warm naan and a dollop of Greek yogurt. You can also cut back on the broth and you get a thicker, stew-ier dish that's great served over rice.

Going Pro: Opinions on the Institute of Culinary Education?

I did enroll, sophball. Classes started in Sept. and we'll be done in June. I have mixed feelings about the program. Here are some random observations.

- We have three different teachers, so there's a lot of repetition. They all have solid restaurant experience in a variety of roles (chefs, owners, managers, etc.), so they have a lot of interesting anecdotes to share. The emphasis is on class discussion, which doesn't always seem like a good use of time. As far as giving us significant, straightforward information, I feel the teachers could be better organized, both in presenting the information and dividing the workload so they're all giving us something new.

- Something like $600 of the $14,000 fee is for books. We've received probably 8 or 10 text books already, and are due to get several more as we start new units of the program. We got reading assignments from one book during the first couple weeks of class. Since then, we've barely touched them. The exception is the ServSafe textbook, which we did use every class when we were covering that food safety. Then we took the test, and UPS lost our results so none of us received our certification.

- We haven't really been given many opportunities to apply or demonstrate what we're learning. We've done a couple of in-class assignments, which were interesting and helped me get a better grasp on the concepts we were studying. And we had one big project - a marketing plan, which we had about 6 weeks to work on. We turned them in right after Thanksgiving and, as far as I know, still haven't gotten any feedback on them.

- One thing I do really like is the camaraderie among the students. I thought we'd have a bunch of stiff business types or food snobs, but there's a really good mix of people. We've got everything from a kid just out of high school who wants to open a bakery, to a Wall Street guy who wants to open a restaurant. Some people have restaurant experience, some have none, some have gone through ICE's culinary program and want to be chef/owners, and some are just doing the program and then planning to see where it takes them.

We're not even halfway through yet, so I don't know what the program is going to end up meaning for my career. I sort of wish I'd tried to get a part-time job as a server or host to get some real-world experience before investing the time and money in school.

I get one night in Miami. Where do I go?

Thanks for your perseverance, kingfish. I'll check it out!

NOLA eats

I went to NOLA last month for the first time.

One highlight was Cochon, where a table of six of us ordered nearly all the small plates and sides. The Cochon entree was amazing, and I really liked the deviled crab, the lima beans, greens, grits and eggplant & shrimp dressing. They also bring out these incredible rolls - NOM.

Maybe even better than Cochon, though, was Dante's Kitchen. I loved the shrimp & grits, chicken under a brick, and trois mignons. Great atmosphere and service, too - an all-around winner.

Other places I went:
Parkway Bakery - shrimp po' boy was really tasty
Cafe Du Monde - because you "have to" - but you don't. Should have gone to Cafe Beignet instead.
Slim Goodies Diner - solid diner-style brunch, not exceptional
Cure bar - kind of a weird space, drinks were interesting, but not outstanding
Napoleon House - crappy food served on cafeteria plastic plates, but the courtyard out back is lovely
French 75 bar - got a French 75, of course. Very pleasant.
Sazerac bar - kind of stuffy
Stanley - tourist trap, not great

Oh, and be aware, as we were NOT - Central Grocery is closed Monday (and Sunday, too, I think). No muffaletta for me. Sad.

I wish we'd gone to one of the old-school New Orleans restaurants like Brennan's or Commander's Palace. Oh well, something for next time!

Cook the Book: 'The Gourmet Cookie Book'

Another vote for Cook's Illustrated - I made their Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies this weekend. Wow, they are awesome.

Going Pro: Opinions on the Institute of Culinary Education?

Gastro888: Thanks for the tip! I'll see what I can do. I'm taking the evening course, so I'm not sure how much flexibility I'll have.

The Best Cupcakes in New York City

Also, Baked isn't really that inconvenient to get to. I mean - Red Hook's not Union Square, but it's not as remote as a lot of people think.

You just need the B61 bus to Red Hook, and you can pick that up at Jay St./Borough Hall, which is accessible by the A, C, F, M, R, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains.

And if there is a better Saturday afternoon treat than a Red Hook Lobster Pound lobster roll and a Baked cupcake, followed by a stroll along the Red Hook waterfront -- I don't know what it is!

Going Pro: Opinions on the Institute of Culinary Education?

Well, I went ahead and applied. Thanks, everyone, for the input!

Jen Blacker and kcijones001: Thanks for the book recommendations. I haven't read "Medium Raw" but I did read "Kitchen Confidential" - I'll add "Medium Raw" to my list. I read Danny Meyers' "Setting the Table" and really liked it. I'd love to work at one of his restaurants someday.

philandlauren: Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like ICE certainly did benefit you! That's a good point about the other classmates - it would be nice not to be the only 30+ person in the room.

meem21: I've taken a few rec classes, including the 8-week food writing course, and I've been pretty pleased with my experience there. That's why I decide on ICE vs. the French Culinary Institute. Oh yeah - plus the cost difference!

BrigitteHarley: Thanks for that tip - I'll look into it.

I've considered getting the double diploma with management and the culinary arts course, but, while I think it would be really interesting and I'd probably love it, I don't want to invest the time and money for the cooking part when I don't intend to pursue a career as a chef.

Cook the Book: 'Fiesta at Rick's'

Rick Bayless or Hubert Keller. Or both!

Fresh Chevre

My boyfriend just made goat cheese ice cream with sweet cherries and spicy pecans. Oh man - so delicious! The goat cheese makes it a little tangier than regular cream cheese.

Cook the Book: Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

My Kitchen Aid mixer. When I'm tackling a bunch of cookie dough, it's awesome.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Russ & Daughters Brunch Package

The fresh doughnuts at Good are the perfect start to brunch. Then just give me a goat cheese omelet and I'm happy for the rest of the day.

Low key bar near Madison Square Park/Flatiron?

The Flatiron Lounge is nice, but it can be a little loud.

Help! Whoopie Pies...

I made those whoopie pies a couple weeks ago, and they turned out great. They made more than a dozen, though - did anybody else have that happen? I think I ended up with enough cookies to make 18 whoopie pies. I ran out of frosting, so for the extra 12 cookies, I made a brown sugar glaze (butter, brown sugar, milk) and sprinkled them with minced crystallized ginger and toasted pecans. They were kind of like muffin tops or mini cakes. Very tasty!

Char No. 4: Bourbon, Barbecue, And Pork In Cobble Hill

Went there last month with my boyfriend. We ate the BLT, the brisket sandwich, the cheese curds, the pork nuggets, and the butter pecan ice cream. All were terrific, except maybe the cheese curds. I loved the pimento sauce that came with them, but unless you ate them piping hot, the little cheese bits were a bit rubbery.

Also got recommendations from the staff on bourbon selections, and they did not steer us wrong. I tried an Eagle Rare - nice and caramelly.

One thing not mentioned in the review is how nicely the little bits of house-made relish and pickled vegetables complement the dishes they accompany. The cabbage on the brisket sandwich was just acidic enough to balance the fat, and the side of pickled onions with the BLT helped cleanse the palate between bites.

Cake Shake from Squareburger in Philadelphia

Oh my god. I was in Philly -- IN Franklin Square -- two days ago and did not know this Cake Shake existed. I am so sad.

Cook the Book: 'Bite-Size Desserts'

The namesake chocolate bouchons at Bouchon Bakery. It's essentially a two-bite brownie, but the texture is divine -- not dry, dense, or gummy like a lot of brownies, but just moist and rich and amazing. Okay, now I need one.

Frank Bruni Gone????

Seriously, man. I haven't opened an email or looked at a blog in the past two weeks that didn't have an item about Frank Bruni, his last days at the NYT, his book, his favorites, his thoughts on the Choco Taco, etc. I'm pretty friggin' sick of him.

Recommendations in Koreatown and Curry Hill?

Wow, thanks for the great suggestions, everyone!


CandyBean hasn't favorited a post yet.