Monday, October 28, 2013

Umami Burger - Greenwich Village

432 6th Avenue
New York, N.Y.  10011

"I don't get it"  "I don't either.  It's just a burger right?"
"Look at all those people waiting! For a burger!?"
"What is it about those burgers that makes all those people wait.  Look at that line!"

Several times, as I have walked by the East Coast outlet of the 
West Coast Burger joint called Umami Burger, I have heard these phrases verbalized.
I have verbalized them myself - then I ate at Umami Burger.

A lot of burger places have opened around 
New York and a few other places over the past few years.  
Mostly they are just hamburger places.   
Your basic meat patties on a choice of well made artisan buns, imported cheeses, slab bacon.  
Lots of flavors piled on top of the basic meat patty.

Well here the meat patty is well seasoned, 
cooked to perfection as ordered and anything but basic.  
And thats just the beginning.  
You won't notice the absents of salt and pepper shakers on the table 
until someone points it out because you won't be reaching for them.

Fries come with sauces - not everyday ketchup but Umami ketchup. 
Just the right mix of flavor to tingle the tongue.  

Here is a peak inside of a perfectly cooked to order, 
perfectly seasoned and piled high with the perfectly flavored toppings. 

Bottom Line - 
2 burgers, one sweet potato fries and one regular, 2 soft drinks and a tip was $50.00
Average price of burger platters around town is $15, so they are right in there.
Avoid the line by eating a little earlier or later then the usual crowd.  
Unfortunately, they are not doing take-out. . .yet.

Friday, August 2, 2013


185 Ave C
New York, New York 10009

A little corner of Cuban latin goodness on the real, old school, Lower East Side.
I always walk away feeling like I was just fed by a friends mother.
(If my mother ever cooked like this I'd never have left home)

Mojito's are the drink we go for here, although the sangria looks tempting.
Ceviche that reminds you of the ocean, fresh salt air and a faint sea breeze.  It is accompanied by these whispers of plantains chips; deep fried but not greasy and so good we could eat them by the bagful 
Ensalada de Casa - Avocado so fresh and creamy with salad greens that are lightly dress leaving just the right amount of crunch.
Camarones al Ajillo - Shrimp cooked to perfection and with the right balance of seasoning accompanied by rice and plantanos maduros (sweet plantains)
Pork Especial - Tender and flavorful, no knife needed.  It came with rice and tostones. 
All accompanied by this creamy white garlic cloud of heaven sauce 
(if you like garlic you all love this stuff)

Bottom line
2 drinks, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 drinks for dessert, tax and tip $135.00
We not only would go there again, we have many times over.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I'll be catching up a little in the next few posts.  Its not that we haven't gone out or that the restaurants are not up to a review, we've just been too darn ___________ (you fill in the blank).


8 Little West 12th Street
between 9th and Washington Ave.
NYC, NY 10014
Weeknights for dinner only
Weekends for brunch, lunch and dinner

I have realized lately that some still think of French food as heavy with creams and sauces.
And while it is some of that it is also a whole lot more.

Clean flavors, delicate seasonings that let natures palette shine through. That is Paradou.
So I'll start with this little gem on Little West 12th Street.  Some French Riviera on the Hudson River.

The decor is French Provence and so is the menu.  Table tops from wine crates, very high ceilings, a garden in the back and very relaxed.  You will hear a lot of French spoken here by your fellow patrons (always a good sign)

Annie started with a glass of Champagne and I had a glass of house rose from Provence.
We decided on a dinner of appetizers,  making our own tasting menu.

So here we have a Lobster roll without the roll . . .

A fabulous bowl of mussels with broth which we did drink out of the bowl (we used spoons) . . .

Foie Gras Brule . . .

Nicoise salad for me  . . .

Decadant Duck for Annie . . .

I am a fan of French cuisine.  And this place is a prime example of good French food.  Not a heavy sauce in sight!

Bottom line -
Great place for a date or just to meet friends.  Nice garden in back.  Off the river and a few blocks from the HighLine.
Dinner with drinks and tips was about $150.  We used a Savored reservation and got 30% off the bill.
Yes I will be eating here again with or without the discount.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard
116 East 27th Street
New York, N.Y.  10016
between Park and Lexington

Blue Smoke never disappoints.  No matter what kind of Bar-B-Que your in the mood for they can fill the bill.  This is a Danny Meyer restaurant and lives up to the high standard and quality his restaurants are known for. (See Union Square Cafe or Gramercy Tavern) And he is a driving force behind the Big Apple Bar-B-Que block party held in Madison Square Park every June.  So you know he knows his Que.  And Blue Smoke has a gluten free menu - always a bonus for me.

We started with appetizers.  Annie ordered fried pork ravioli and I had a garden salad.  The ravioli came out crisp with just the right amount of sauce.  My lightly dressed salad was fresh and full of salad veggies.  Two yums! 

Baby Back
Saint Louis
Annie ordered the juicy, sauce slathered saint louis ribs and I ordered the tender, dry rubbed baby back ribs.  Sides of collard greens, mashed potatoes and vinegar coleslaw; we were in hog heaven.  The saint louis style are juicier and well marbled.  The baby backs are leaner.  Several sauces are on the table, all are good.  They are even available for you to take home.  I have their rub sitting on my spice rack right now.
Vinegar slaw on top and collard greens on the bottom.
Being full we skipped dessert.
A full wine, beer and cocktail menu rounds things out perfectly. 
There is a separate jazz performance venue downstairs but you'll never hear it unless you venture down there.  The restaurant can get crowded and they do take reservations.  Good place for special occasion dinners for family or just dinner for two friends.  This is my son's favorite birthday place.

Bottom line -
Dinner including 2 appetizers, 2 half racks, 3 sides, soft drinks, wine and tip was $102.00
Would I eat there again - oh yes and yes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I have had a hard time motivating myself to write a blog post 
when so much more important happenings deserve our collective attention.  
I feel for all the fellow New Yorkers still left homeless by hurricane Sandy 
while they await desperately needed help.  
I feel for those who just wanted to escape into a movie, 
do some holiday shopping or go to school and lost their lives to violence.  
I feel for the parents, siblings, children, friends and other loved ones who will miss those smiles.  

As this year winds to a close I appreciate my life more then ever.  
I give thanks for all that is good in it.  
I am grateful to be able to hug my son at night and ask him about his day.
 To sleep next to a man that loves and cares for me.  
To be alive.  

I look forward to this new year with hope and optimism.
Happy New Year - now go hug somebody

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spiced Rum Recipe

My husband and I were first introduced to sweet spiced rum after a fine meal in Grand Case on the French side of Saint Martin.  It is a locally made spiced rum called Ma Doudou.  Over the years we have had home made spiced rums all over Saint Martin.  Some were infused with bananas, coconut or vanilla beans.  Ma Doudou reins as the standard among those for sale.  For many years we brought home several bottles, by request, for friends & family.  
Then security hit the airports and liquor had to be packed into your checked luggage.  Lets just there wasn't enough liquor in those bottles to make up for a plane ride filled with stress over rum soaked luggage.  
I knew I would have to learn how to make my own spiced rum at home.  So with a couple of bottles of Ma Doudou in my possession, to use for taste comparison, I experimented with seasoning and sugars and rums.  Yes tasting the samples was fun.  What I came up with is a recipe that makes my mouth feel like its sitting in a restaurant on Saint Martin.  I am posting the recipe here so family, friends & everyone else can make their own!

Spiced Rum

You'll need a small pot to make the syrup and a large jar to store the rum while it infuses with the spices.
2 to 3 liters of rum (I use Bacardi dark)
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2-4 vanilla beans - split lengthwise and beans scraped out with a knife
2-5 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon whole green cardamon pods
1 tablespoon whole allspice
18 inches cinnamon sticks (more or less)
     Mix sugar and water in the pot and heat to a low simmer.  Sugar will dissolve. Add spices and let them all continue to simmer, covered, for 45 mins.  Turn off heat and let cool to room temperature.  Put syrup with spices into large jar.  Add rum of choice.  Seal jar with lid and store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks.  Show it some love with a shake or two every once in a while.
Start tasting at the 4 week point and when it has enough spice for you strain the spices and discard all but the cinnamon and vanilla beans.  Pour your rum into clean bottles and add a vanilla bean and /or piece of cinnamon to each, if desired.   

--The rum can be sipped straight as a dessert drink or cordial, mixed with OJ and/or cranberry juice or added to a hot earl grey tea with cream.  I made french toast with it this morning (the alcohol cooks off but the flavor remains).  It can be used in cooking instead of vanilla.  The list is limited by ones imagination.
--You can use what ever kind of rum you like, different rums will add their own flavors. Meyers Dark Jamaican rum will add a molasses note, lighter rums will have less caramel notes.  The kind of sugar you use will also affect the final flavors. Start with white sugar which adds the least flavoring.  Turbinado sugar adds a little richness, light brown sugar adds more.  I used unbleached sugar which adds the lightest note of molasses.  Also smell the spices, use more or less to your taste.  Taste it as it steeps, you might like more or less steeping time.  
--Make your first batch plain.  As you get to know the flavors you like you can add bananas to the jar for steeping with the spices or after the spices are strained.  Coconut milk, coconut water, or coconut creme each add their own kind of flavors.  Some like orange peel, some mandarin segments, some both.  Experiment, have fun, enjoy and share the rum!

Thursday, November 22, 2012