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Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

 

I may have stopped recapping Top Chef Just Desserts, but I continued to watch.  The show actually got better as the drama went away, and viewers were able to get a glimpse at some extremely talented pastry chefs.  The wide range of skills they have is incredible, from wedding cakes, to edible dresses, these chefs are pretty inspiring.

Zac Young is amazing and makes creative, delicious desserts.  He will definitely be getting my “fan favorite” vote:-)  Lucky for me, he happens to work at a New York City restaurant, Flex Mussels.  When one of my best friends from college was visiting last Friday, who also also happens to be a huge Zac fan from the show, I had the perfect opportunity to visit the restaurant!flex donuts

Flex Mussels has a wide variety of seafood dishes, along with over a dozen varieties of mussels.  They also have a chicken dish which was perfect for my seafood-hating friend.  The restaurant has a trendy vibe and is reasonably priced in the nice NYC-restaurant category.

A group of 5 of us went to the Upper East Side location for a 9:30 reservation.  The place was packed which led to slightly slow service, but the food was so good we didn’t care.  Matt and I shared the goat cheese salad plus two varieties of mussels: Italiano and Maine.  I really enjoyed the food, but honestly, was saving room for dessert.

Unfortunately, Zac was in the kitchen at the other location that night, but the desserts were still designed by him so I was ok with that.  Besides, it gives me an excuse to try the restaurant again.

The five of us decided to choose one donut each and have the waiter choose a sixth for us.  He picked salted caramel and I am glad he did! It had a surprisingly complex flavor.  My selection was fluffernutter and my friends picked blueberry, meyer lemon, chocolate and peanut butter and jelly. The donuts were the perfect ratio of filling to pastry, a taste of each in every bite.  They came warm and fresh with a side of some sort of creamy glaze.

flex donuts 2

Of course we also had to try Zac’s famous deep fried whoopie pie.

flex whoopie pie 1

O.M.G.  I now wish I had a deep fryer.  This was not the boring whoopie pie I have had in the past.  It was moist and flavorful chocolate cake sandwiched with cream cheese icing that oozed out as soon as I sliced it.  The crispy outer layer was delicious and added a great balance of textures. I’m not even sure what all of the sides were but I think the big scoop was coffee ice cream.

flex whoopie pie 2

We may have shared this around the table, but I managed to take an extra piece for myself.  It was too good to leave behind:-)  Definitely one of the top five restaurant desserts I have ever had.

Overall, it was a great night at Flex Mussels.  We all left full of delicious food and Matt and I resolved to go back for more mussels and dessert and hopefully catch Zac!

Have you ever met any famous chefs?  Did their food live up to your expectations?

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Early Celebration

This weekend I made a quick trip to visit my parents in Philly and see my best friend since 4th grade for an early birthday dinner.  My birthday is actually next Saturday, but the Husband and I have a wedding that night.

Carissa has been an amazing friend forever.  Even more amazing is that she got me a new dessert cookbook for my birthday!

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I think that my Dad was so excited to be featured on my “food” blog he wanted to include a grilled chicken skewer in the picture.

We decided to go to Seasons 52, one of the only chain restaurants I will voluntarily  go to.  I like the restaurant because they have a good selection of healthy food that tastes really good.  Sometimes I feel like you have to get grilled fish or a salad with grilled chicken be healthy and eat out, but Seasons 52 is not like that at all.  We shared a Ripe Plum Tomato Flatbread to start and I had the grilled scallops with extra veggies instead of pasta.  As a result, I had plenty of room for their “mini indulgences”:-)

The waitress brings over the night’s selection of desserts, each served in a large shot glass.  The best part is that you can have just 1 for the perfect “taste” of dessert, or choose a few to get tastes of a variety of desserts.

My selection was red velvet cake!  Red velvet is my current favorite flavor as long as it is served with cream cheese icing.  The top tier of our wedding cake was actually red velvet and I can’t wait for our 1st anniversary just so I can finally dig into that cake;-)

Of course we had to get a selection for the table to share

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I think we had red velvet cake, mocha macchiato, blueberry cheesecake, key lime pie and pecan pie.  I liked the red velvet cake the best but the blueberry cheesecake and pecan pie were also delicious.  I like that you can get both cake and icing in every bite!

Desserts were enjoyed by all.  I think this calls for future recipe inspiration!

I have to admit, I am usually let down by restaurant desserts and don’t think they are “worth it”.  They usually look much better than they taste.  These, however, were moist and flavorful.  What restaurant desserts do you think are “worth it”?

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Bouley.

Wow.  Yesterday started off a little rough.  I had to be at work for a 7am meeting which is not the norm, and was exhausted all day!  However, I left work early enough to get to the gym for an endorphin punch before an amazing dinner.

Back in May, Matt graduated business school.  Since he loves food as much as I do, I told him I’d take him out for a tasting menu of choice in the city.  We waited until after the wedding and after we felt recovered from our intense eating escapades on our honeymoon in Italy to finally celebrate.  I am so glad he picked Bouley.

For our dinners, we each did the tasting menu and Matt also got the wine pairing.  I ordered one glass of wine, a nice light white, to go with my meal and had sips of his along the way.   Here it goes…..

We started off with a tomato, melon, cucumber gazpacho topped with cucumber sorbet.  So surprisingly delicious and refreshing!

The first of many bread plates

From the menu “Chilled Kumamoto Oysters, Oscetra Caviar Homemade Radish Pickle, Thinly Sliced Live Sea Scallops Parsley Juice”.

I am not really an oyster fan but thought I’d try this anyway.  I ate one and gave the rest to the Husband.  Confirmed: I don’t like oysters.

From the menu:  “Sashimi-Quality Big Eye Tuna Fresh Hawaiian Heart of Palm, Yuzo-Miso Dressing”

Matt’s first course was a tuna sashimi dish.  I had a taste and for someone who doesn’t eat tuna, I enjoyed it!

From the menu: “Porcini Flan Dungeness Crab, Black Truffle Dashi”

This was my favorite savory dish of the night.  Huge perfectly cooked crab chunks.  I shared half with Matt.
From the menu:  “Maine Day Boat Lobster Roasted with Tri-State Strawberries, Baby Fennel Organic Petits Pois”
The actual restaurant dish was different from the online menu, as it was for many of our courses.  I had a small taste of Matt’s lobster.  Cooked perfectly!
This was a shrimp and scallop dish with “ravioli” in a saffron sauce.  It actually was more of a deconstructed ravioli.
I love shellfish so I chose this as my next course.  Again, the seafood was cooked perfectly.  Shared half with Matt.
From the menu: “Organic Connecticut Farm Egg Serrano Ham, Steamed Polenta, Artichoke All-Natural Radish Sprouts, Coconut-Garlic Broth”
Matt was worried about “just” getting an egg.  I don’t think he regretted it.  It was his favorite dish.
From the menu:  “Roasted Black Sea Bass Young Bok Choy, Fresh Burdock, Shitake Mushrooms, Celery Root Purée, Spanish Saffron and Pineapple Sauce”
I think that the restaurant actually had steamed sea bass (different from the online menu).  They actually only had meat dishes for this course (lamb, duck and steak), but when I told the waiter I couldn’t decide because I am not much of a meat-eater he said I could get this instead.  Success! I had about half and tried to share the rest with Matt but he was getting full at this point!
From the menu:  “Long Island Duckling with a Balinese Pepper Crust White Truffle Honey, Julienneof Snow Peas, Tahitian Vainilla-Glazed Turnips, Verjus, Ginger Dressing”
Matt, however, does eat meat;-) Again, I think the restaurant dish was different from the online menu.  I had a taste and it had a lot of good flavor.
And now for my favorite part of the meal, obviously!!  It paid off that I ate half or less of each dish because it left me with plenty of room for dessert.
First they brought us both this strawberry soup with greek yogurt gelato.  It was delicious, but strikingly similar to my breakfast:
And then the “real” desserts…..
From the menu: “Hot Caramelized Anjou Pear Valrhona Chocolate , Biscuit Breton, Hot Toffee Sauce Réglisse Sorbet and Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream”
Loved this!  I didn’t like the “Réglisse Sorbet”, but the rest was perfection.  A great balance of hot and cold.  It melted in my mouth.
From the menu: “Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé Vermont Maple and Vanilla Ice Creams Chocolate Sorbet”
The Husband had to get the chocolate souffle.  He can’t see it on a menu and choose something else.  The souffle itself was rich and tasted of quality dark chocolate.  I just had a taste but would have devoured it if I had the chance.
But we weren’t done!  They also brought us a complimentary creme brulee that tasted like roasted marshmallows and 3 tiers of petitfours.  The waiter was so nice that he even brought out a dessert wine for me to enjoy with our last course.  I drank some of it but was pretty over-the-top full at this point!  Even the Husband couldn’t finish his port.
The tasting menu at Bouley was quite the experience.  I’d definitely recommend it for a special occasion!
Oh and I can’t forget- they sent us each home with a lemon tea cake!!

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