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Game of Thrones Season 6 Dinner by Chef David Santos
Apr 23rd, 2016 by donuts4dinner

I’ve been following Chef David Santos around the city since he was doing secret dinners in his apartment on Roosevelt Island, and I can tell you that there’s no one in NYC doing more creative menus than this guy. There’s been Nashville hot chicken served in giant buckets, a Sun Noodle dinner with bowls of chilled and surf & turf ramen, and meals celebrating Dave’s Portuguese heritage, but I’ve especially come to love the themed dinners. Last week’s “Game of Thrones” pop-up at Noreetuh in the East Village is something my friends and I look forward to every year. Not only because the food is always boundary-pushing but because Dave’s menus are these masterful/hilarious odes to the characters on the show that proclaim this chef both an artist in the kitchen and a wordsmith on the page. None of us will ever forget the bacon-wrapped monkfish dish from a couple of years ago, where Dave said that the bacon protects the monkfish like the Hound protects Arya. Genius. If you want to see the entire explanation for this year’s menu, head on over to the Eventbrite ticketing page and prepare to be delighted.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
bread and butter

Dave’s bread is reason alone to come to one of these dinners and is worth the price of admission itself. Crusty on the outside and beyond smushable in the middle, and then he always makes some amazing butter to top it with. This time, the butter was sprinkled with thick salt crystals to make it even more delicious and more likely to kill you.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
black truffle fritter, asparagus puree, zahatar oil

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
fluke tartar with eel, avocado wasabi pudding, scallion, and puffed rice

Texture on texture on texture!

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
roots, celery, parsnip, peas shoots and tendrils, dirt

There was an asparagus granita on this that my friends refused to accept as a real thing in cooking, but they couldn’t deny how refreshing it was to get a little pile of savory shaved ice on top of a cool salad. None of us were okay with that carrot suggestively sticking up like that, but Dave is such the godfather of incredible carrots that the Times posted one of his carrot recipes, so you have to forgive him. The “dirt” was rye bread crumbs, just in case you were scared.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
smoked sable chowder, oyster, chicharron, nettles

I don’t care for oysters, but I care immensely for a huge crispy-as-hell piece of pork skin that I can dip into my chowder. Comfort food pushed to the max.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
malloreddus pasta, spicy wild boar ragu, house-aged ricotta

Apparently malloreddus is the national pasta of Sardinia, kind of like a gnocchi, that translates to “fat little calves”. Dave left his with quite a bit of chew, just the way I like it, and gave us just the right amount for being totally satisfied but not dying from the richness.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
steak and eggs, foie caramelized onions, emu eggs

The waitstaff passed around giant green emu eggs for us to all pretend to be the mother of dragons with before taking them back to the kitchen so Dave could make THE most intense scrambled eggs, loaded with foie and onions. They were so earthy I could’ve sprouted a tree in them, and then he had to go and top them with a piece of steak just for effect. The scallions gave the dish just the right amount of brightness to balance out all of that fat.

Game of Thrones Dinner by Chef David Santos
ice cream sandwich, meringue, strawberry puree

Representing the wall and the blood of Jon Snow, this ice-cream-sandwich-meets-baked-Alaska had just the right amount of novelty for such a fun dinner and just the right amount of elevation for a chef like Dave.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” Made Me Want to Eat and Cry
Aug 8th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

I entirely understand why the marketing team for Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Pictures invited me to a screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, and Om Puri last week. Even as a food-obsessed avid moviegoer, I wasn’t planning to see the movie in the theater. I wanted to watch it eventually, sure, but it looked like one of those feel-good, fun-for-the-entire-family films that I could enjoy from the comfort of my living room while also browsing Twitter. It was feel-good, and your whole family probably will like it, but it’s so, so much more than that. It made me feel so many feelings. I had tears in my eyes for about 75% of it, and I had tears on my cheeks for the rest of it. It was unexpectedly beautiful and a must-see for anyone who’s passionate about cooking and food.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

Nitehawk Cinema is an eat-in movie theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where servers bring food right to your seat throughout the show. You share a small table with the person next to you and write your order on slips of paper that attach to the front of the table and that the servers watch for while the movie’s playing.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

The menu is full of new American classics like burgers and Carolina BBQ short rib sandwiches, familiar sides like tator tots with a twist in the form of queso and scallions, favorites from other cultures like quesadillas and empanadas, plus some frou frou farro and kale salads for the health-conscious. There are themed food and drink specials to go along with each movie, and sure, being served a meat and cheese tray in the midst of a film can be a little distracting, but I’m not complaining when I’m chomping chorizo a minute later. Plus, the theater plays these amazing retro ads and old movie mashups before the show that are better than any preview.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

That night, we were served two types of popcorn to enjoy during the movie: herbes de Provence popcorn to represent the French cooking, and curry popcorn to represent the Indian.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

Likewise, I had a glass of sauvignon blanc, and my boyfriend had a Kingfisher beer.

Nitehawk Cinema, Brooklyn

It’s hard for me to say exactly why the movie hit me so hard. Maybe it’s because Indian food was the first “ethnic cuisine” I ate when I left my tiny farming town and moved to the city, and I still remember what it was like for me to taste samosas and kormas and dosas as an adult who had grown up eating only American food. There’s this moment at the very beginning of the film where the young Hassan races through the streets of India, trying to catch a man who’s bringing sea urchin to a stall in the market. The moment he pops open the shell and smells uni for the first time, and his face melts into bliss–I know what that feels like.

Or maybe it’s that my Michelin-starred restaurant experiences have been so meaningful to me. I absolutely loved this scene where the director was trying to show the difference between the hearty, rustic Indian cuisine by panning over big pots full of curry at the Indian family restaurant and then cutting to a clean white plate spotted with tiny foods barely big enough to cover a spoon at the Michelin restaurant across the street. Later, we’re shown a sleek, supposedly soulless restaurant in Paris using molecular gastronomy techniques, where the clientele constantly demands style over substance. And I love all of those things! At that moment, I felt so lucky to have grown up eating the food of my family, the incredibly newfangled food at restaurants like Atera and wd-50, and the classic teeny tiny foods at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.

I’ll stop giving away everything in the movie, but the scene that really made me tear up was the one where Hassan opens up his family’s spice box full of their own special blends, and I didn’t recognize a single word on any of the jars, and my heart was filled with all of this joy over secret family recipes and the fact that with all I’ve eaten, there’s so much more I have to eat.

This movie made me fall even more in love with food, family, and France. The acting was fantastic, the characters seemed real, and the entire audience laughed all the way through it. I understand why the marketing team for Walt Disney Studios and Dreamworks Pictures invited me to a screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey, because you can’t fit how wonderful this movie is into a 30-second preview.

It opens nationwide today, and if you’re a food lover of any kind, I hope you’ll go see it.

My Pick for America’s Next Great Restaurant
Mar 7th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

Thanks to a tip from Grub Street, my boyfriend and I hurried to Grand Central on Friday afternoon to pig out on foods inspired by the new NBC show “America’s Next Great Restaurant” and have our picture taken with Bobby Flay so I could later deface it with inappropriate Sharpie drawings.

The pop-up automat was serving mac & cheese, marinated chickpeas, grilled cheese, fried chicken sliders, and Spanish meatballs to preview some of the ideas presented by the would-be restauranteurs on last night’s premiere episode:

America's Next Great Restaurant Grand Central Pop-Up

Bobby wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but the meatball made up for it:

America's Next Great Restaurant Grand Central Pop-Up

Did any of you catch the show? It was especially interesting to watch from NYC (and other major cities, I imagine), because so many of the “novel” ideas for a new “fast casual” restaurant were foods we’ve been feasting on for years here. Anyone writing about food in New York has been to Meatball Shop, and anyone breathing has eaten a healthy wrap.

But some of the ideas were truly new, and I’m especially excited that so many of them were geared toward healthier eating. Based purely on the first episode alone, my vote is for Sandra Digiovanni, who pitched a restaurant concept called Limbo, where diners can choose from two versions of the offered dishes: the total-indulgence version or the lighter one.

Dessert Crazy (with Emphasis on the “Crazy”)
Sep 27th, 2010 by plumpdumpling

I know not everyone’s into desserts like I am (FOOLS!), but “Top Chef: Just Desserts” is undeniably watchable thanks to the antics of 34-year-old Seth Caro from NYC. Whether you think he just has emotional problems or believe, like Dr. Boyfriend and I do, that he may actually be mentally handicapped, you have to appreciate the WTF-ness he brings to the show.

Case in point:

You got that? He’s gonna be a dick, he’s gonna cook, he’s gonna win this whole fucking shit, and you can suck it, okay?

It’s Okay to Like Organ Meats a LITTLE
Apr 23rd, 2010 by plumpdumpling

I once complained about the smarmy boys next to me at dinner who claimed they looooooooved organ meats, thinking they were being disingenuous.

But you know what’s worse? People who are totally resistant to them. This scene from “The Millionaire Matchmaker” made me laaaaaaugh. And also cry.

PHILISTINES!

“Top Chef”: From a Little Prick to Big in Your Mouth
Oct 30th, 2009 by plumpdumpling

It might be that I’m a little biased against Padma Lakshmi and her completely untrained palate, but there are some things I don’t want coming out of my reality TV show host’s mouth:

Tom Colicchio, on the other hand, can say whatever he wants.

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