Saturday, April 29, 2006

Murray's Bagels
As I approach my last week of classes, I am seriously considering another trip down to the city, mainly to quell my desire for scones and muffins. The only thing holding me back is 3 finals, a project, and two papers. But I don't think I can concentrate if I didn't have my muffins. I wish someone could just cryovac them and send me some already!

DSC_0323.JPGSoo, onto more meals during spring break. New York is known for good bagels; the top joints that people name are Ess-a-Bagel, H&H, Murray's, etc. Since I was in the area, I went to the Muray's in Chelsea.

DSC_0321.JPGWild Nova Scotia Lox w/ red onion, tomatoes, scallion cream cheese, and capers

The bagel was good. I usually like them toasted, but since they don't do that here, I had to settle for it plain. It was still good though--the outside was slightly crispy, and the inside was soft and chewy. The lox was quite fresh. I really liked the cream cheese too; they have a pretty wide selection, which we don't get in the Bay Area. At $9.75, it was a bit pricier than your average bagel.

I suppose Murray's is good, but I can't exactly tell what a "good" bagel is. I grew up on Noah's, which I find perfectly adequate. Even if I went to the "best" bagel joints or just randomly chose one off the street, they'd probably taste pretty similar to me. That said, I don't find Murray's, if it is indeed one of the better bagel establishments in bagel capital, to be mindblowing.

Murray's Bagels
242 8th Ave Frnt
New York, NY 10011

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

DSC_0188.JPGHoly crap! A post! I promised I'd be better at updating. Though I should be working on a case study.

I still have a few meals from spring break left. So on my way to wd-50 on the Lower East Side, I see this sign:

DSC_0189.JPGYes, a huge ass BAKERY sign that is just beckoning me to approach. It turns out to be Babycakes, which I had heard many good things about. "Gentle treats for delicate tummies" is their mantra; they feature baked goods with no sugar, eggs, nuts, gluten, dairy, or wheat. The amazing thing is that their products are really freakin good!

DSC_0313Wheatfree vanilla cupcake

Behold, an excellent cupcake. The frosting was flavorful and not too sweet (ahem, Shitnolia). The cake was moist and had substance without being too heavy. I also tried the lemon one, which was great as well.

DSC_0190.JPGThese are some of my favorite blueberry muffins. At first, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about them. They were very light for being muffins, and the texture had a slight chewiness that I attributed to their veganism. But after my first one, I was hooked. In fact, I'm craving them right now. I think I might skip Slope Day for some LES eats (il Laboratorio del Gelato included).


DSC_0191.JPGSpelt Biscuits

DSC_0193.JPGThe cookies, I felt, were a bit overmixed. They were holey and lacking in texture.

DSC_0195.JPGMore cakes and goodies on the counter.

DSC_0194.JPGCool, frosting shots for $1! If Magnolia offered that, it would be diabetes galore. Also notice that Babycakes has a really cool retro feel to it. Sooo if you are in the nyc area, be sure to visit.

Babycakes NYC
248 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002

Store address is a new feature. The Hungry Hedonist is enriching the lives of readers everywhere.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Magnolia Bakery
DSC_0354.JPGCarrie and Miranda (SATC, for the non-watchers) really liked cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. The legendary store is often credited with launching the cupcake trend around the country. That said, I carried high hopes but was very let down.

DSC_0352.JPGCupcakes are self-serve, so you grab a box and put your cupcakes in there. Notice all the awards this place has won (undeservingly). I waited a long time to take this picture because there was such a long line out the door!

DSC_0353.JPGThese cupcakes sell so quickly that they bring out a new batch every five minutes.

DSC_0349.JPGI grab a chocolate one and plain one. The frosting is so tooth-achingly sweet that I smear it all on the box. I could literally discern the sugar granules. The cake itself is crumbly and quite dry. They pale in comparison to the cupcakes at Babycakes, or any home-made cupcakes for that matter.

DSC_0345.JPGThe ambiance of the place is retro and very 50s. It's a welcoming atmosphere, but really doesn't make up for the bad cupcakes, which should be Magnolia's main strength. When you come here at peak demand, the line snakes around the corner and the wait is a good 30-45 minutes. I really don't mind waiting in line for food, but it has to be good. I don't think I'd ever return, even if they were having free givaways.

DSC_0344.JPGI promise to update more frequently and finish meals from spring break. Can't wait to go back to the hyphyayarea in a couple weeks.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been having atrocious weeks at school, with midterms, papers, projects, in conjunction with my aversion to sleep. Last week was HEC, which turned out pretty well. I now know how to discern a good olive oil. I tasted one produced by Fresno State students, which was surprisingly excellent. Ok, onto le food.

DSC_0365.JPGOne of the meals during Spring Break I was more excited about--actually, to think of it, I was excited about all of them--was Nobu (the original one).

DSC_0447.JPGThe decor isn't anything too extraordinary, but it does it's job. I did expect something more "flashy" for Nobu though.

DSC_0454.JPGI liked the ceiling, I guess.

DSC_0453.JPGNow, what's this? No, not a buttcrack, but one of many slit-y cushions hanging above tables.

DSC_0366.JPGA better angle.

DSC_0367.JPGSo I heard that Angelina Jolie was here that night, and I really wanted her and her entourage to sit at the table next to us (pictured above). Alas, it only turned out to be two boring women.

Now, onto the food. We both went with the $120 omakase, mainly because we wanted beef.

DSC_0370.JPGToro Tartare w/ caviar and wasabi

The toro was very fatty and delicously creamy. The wasabi was a great enhancer and the saltiness of the caviar added just the right accent. The Japanese plum was pretty good too. This was one of my favorites of the night.

DSC_0378.JPGKumamoto Oysters with olive oil and lemon

I love oysters, and these were very fresh. Simple preparation and great, but I could've gotten this elsewhere. Can't wait to go to Zuni for some...

DSC_0390.JPGWashu beef, tataki style, with ponzo, scallions, ginger, and grated daikon

This was my favorite of the night. The beef was tataki (flash-grilled), so it was very rare and melt-in-your-mouth. It was so flavorful that it really didn't need any garnishes, but the sauce worked fine. I really could incorporate more of this into my daily diet.

DSC_0397.JPGYellowtail sashimi with Matsuhisa dressing and microgreens

Somehow we reverted back to cold dishes. The hamachi was good, but nothing truly outstanding. The dressing was also overwhelmingly sesame oil-y. I could have done without this and had more beef or tartare.

DSC_0409.JPGMaine Lobster Tempura with (one) Shitake Mushroom, Microgreens, and Creamy Spicy Sauce

This was yet another disappointment. The lobster was fresh and the frying/batter was good, but nothing I could've have gotten at a regular Japanese place. The biggest letdown, however, was the sauce. It was like a "movie without an ending," to quote my fellow rare beef-lover. The sauce was not very creamy nor spicy. It was savory and zesty and had that initial punch, but didn't follow through with any hint of sweetness (which it needed).


Miso Black Cod, marinated for 3 days and 3 nights, with a chunk of foie gras on top

This is the dish that launched a thousand fusion restaurants. The cod was cooked perfectly so that it was smooth and almost airy. The miso-soaked skin was quite good. My favorite part, though, was the foie gras. Closeup:

DSC_0417.JPGSeared, creamy, and delicious. Overall, the miso cod really is good, but a bit undeserving of all the hype it gets. Or perhaps it's just been replicated so many times, or the fact that so many fusion places have ruined it for me.

DSC_0421.JPGSushi (clockwise): toro, medium-fatty; hamachi; scottish salmon; mackerel; snapper

I've always heard that the sushi at Nobu is pretty bad, so I guess my expectations were met. The fish wasn't too great (I was pretty disappointed in the toro) and the rice was falling apart.

DSC_0426.JPGManila clam miso soup

Nothing special. Kiss is better.

DSC_0430.JPGLe Palate Cleanser: lychee granite with gold leaf

Good, but nothing compared to the tangerine sorbet from wd-50 (I'll write it up soon). A big fat shrug. We were not even done with it, and out came the chocolate cake since they were rushed.

DSC_0438.JPGBento box: chocolate lava cake with green tea ice cream

Nobu, have you no creativity? This was certainly a disappointment. Not only was the dessert generic--it was also not all that good! The guy next to us was raving about it, but I felt it was too heavy and sweet. The green tea ice cream was mediocre. They pretty much ended on a bad note.

The meal was alright overall, with a few highlights (tartare, beef, foie gras), but quite disappointing. Another minus was the service. When we got to desserts, we were rushed so they could turn over another table. Well, we pretty much just sat there for 2 extra hours, much to their dismay. You don't rush your customers, especially when you have such a high reputation, not to mention the high prices you are charging them. It's not a fast food joint!

Another busy week coming up but I'll try to update.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Stinky Cheese Girl
In lab yesterday, we had cheese tasting. As I have mentioned before, one of my goals this year is to cultivate myself to like strong cheeses. I'm pretty serious about that; it's on my Things to Do Before I Turn 20 List. I like to think that I eat almost anything, but cheese is one thing that is tougher for me. I will love cheese by the end of summer, if it's the last thing I do.

Soon, the class began to "smell like feet." Among other things uttered my by peers, "it smells like a dirty belly button!" We had a taste of fresh yogurt, mozarella, cheddar, jarlsberg, asiago, bucheron, catiembere, limburger, stilton, roquefort, and American. The yogurt had a sour milk aroma, but I actually liked it a lot. Mozarella and cheddar were typical. The jarlsberg was...much more offensive. It was very pungent and even slightly nutty. Moving on, I did like both the bucheron and camembert cheeses. Very creamy, soft, and not as rancid tasting as the asiago. My favorite of all, though, was the limburger. It definitely has a very pronounced aroma; I liked how it had hints of spiciness, sweetness, and saltiness. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Roquefort. I still can't get myself to stomach the mold-injected, cave-aged cheese. The taste is definitely distinct--slightly metallic from the mold and near rancid from the sheep's milk. I think I'll have to look into psychotherapy to really love this stuff. A wise 80-year-old man said to me, "Roquefort is the Annette to your Sebastian Valmont." I couldn't have said it better myself.