Tag Archives: cheese

Scarr’s

This category two pizza joint (individual slices available) on the lower east side has gotten some big hype for being a great spot. I was in the area for dinner, so I had to check it out and grab a slice for dessert.

Most people clamor for the pepperoni slice – probably after seeing ‘roni cups on Instagram – but I’m more of a traditional guy. So traditional, in fact, that I generally prefer the Margherita style slice to the plain slice. This consists of fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.

This was a great slice. The sauce was bright, sweet yet savory, and nicely seasoned. The cheese was delicious and evenly melted. The basil was fresh (just roasted). The crust was puffy and light, while also being crisp and stiff enough to fold. A winner all around. The only down side was the $4.25 price tag for a single slice.

SCARR’S
22 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Raoul’s

I’ve been meaning to try this spot for about four years now, and I finally got around to it. At least for the burger, anyway.

The Raoul’s burger debuted in 2015, and it has taken the burger world by storm ever since. This au poivre style masterpiece comes with sauce on the side, as well as a nice crispy set of French fries.

On top of the burger is some dressed spinach, sliced gherkins, red onion and a blob of triple-creamed French cheese that reminded me of a soft, velvety and mildly tangy goat cheese. The bun is a soft yet supple challah from Amy’s Bread. Perfect.

The bartender told me to cut the burger in half to make it easier to dip into the au poivre sauce, and he even cautioned me to ration some sauce for fry dipping. Wise words. However, this revealed that the cheese was relegated to one spot in the middle of the burger, and not spread evenly from edge to edge. I didn’t mind much, as this made for slightly different flavor experiences with each bite.

I loved this burger, and it’s easily in my top five at the moment. While the price tag was steep, I thought it was worth every penny.

I’ll be back for the strip steak au poivre very soon.

RAOUL’S
180 Prince St #2924
New York, NY 10012

Manhatta

There’s another French onion soup burger in the game, from Manhatta.

It’s very tasty but it definitely requires a fork and knife, as it sits in a puddle of soup and has some stewed onions and onion rings on the top bun. In any event, it’s one hell of a swanky place in which to get messy. Lots of fun. Check out the view!

I’ll be back in here for a proper dinner soon enough. Until then, this will be a short review.

MANHATTA
28 Liberty Street, 60th Fl
New York NY 10005

The Steakhouse Sandwich

I hate wasting food, but I’m also not a fan of leftover steak. That’s why I will always try to finish every scrap of meat on my plate. But sometimes you just can’t pack it all in, and you have to bring some of that meat home. If you’re like me, you don’t like to re-heat quality meat. Something just changes and it’s not the same.

I’ve had some sliced cold in a salad before, but I also hate salads. I’ve also made a lot of beef stocks and broths with bones and meat scraps. But making the same thing can get tiring, and that’s a long process as well. So I came up with this recipe to satisfy my urges.

What you need:

  • Leftover steak
  • Leftover creamed spinach
  • Leftover potato element
  • Cheddar and/or American cheese
  • Sub sandwich bread

Okay so here’s how it goes down. First, slice up your leftover steak scraps as thin as you can get them.

Inevitably, you’re going to have some congealed beef fat mixed with butter in the bottom of your take-out container.

Don’t throw that away!

Grab your bread.

Slice it open and spread that buttery beef fat onto each side of your bread, like so, and then heat up a pan.

Toast this baby as if it were grilled cheese.

Then start layering your components. Creamed spinach:

Potatoes and cheese:

Those were crispy potatoes mixed with onions, so that was a bonus ingredient for me!

Meat:

More cheese, because why not?

Close it up and wrap it in tinfoil.

Bake this fucker for a quick stint at like 450. It doesn’t need too long in there. Once the cheese is completely melted down it should be good to go. Also, you don’t want to overheat the meat since it should already be a nice medium rare from the steakhouse.

Done.

Unwrap, slice and eat. Just try to do a better job slicing it than I did.

MeltKraft

The Somerset is a really nice grilled cheese sandwich that’s available at MeltKraft, down in the Turn-Style food hall at Columbus Circle. I got to try this when I was invited to a PR event to promote Turn-Style and all the shops within.

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What’s so special about it? Melted gruyere, cured ham, cornichon, pickles and grain mustard. The version pictured here has some added prosciutto, because why the fuck not?

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It also pairs up nicely with the tomato soup, which has a nice herbaceous kick to it from the fennel.

MELTKRAFT
TurnStyle Food Hall
1000S 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Spaghetti Pie

This shit was a staple in my household when I was growing up. It’s really easy to make, and it’s something not many people have eaten. My mom used to make it with just the cheese, spices, eggs and spaghetti, but I decided to take it to the next level with some other shit. Here’s how it goes:

SHIT YOU NEED (Mom’s Way)

  • 1 Pound of Spaghetti
  • 1 Dozen Eggs
  • 6oz Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Basic Seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, etc)
  • Half Stick of Butter

SHIT YOU MAY WANT TO ADD (My Way)

  • 1 Bag of Baby Spinach
  • 8oz Imitation Crab Meat (or the real deal if it’s in the budget)
  • 6oz Mozzarella Cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Smear the half stick of butter all over the inside of a pyrex pan. Whatever extra you have can be melted and added into the bowl in the next step.

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3. Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk together with the grated parmesan cheese and seasonings until thoroughly mixed.

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4. Boil your spaghetti, then strain (or leftovers are fine, too).

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5. Cook the baby spinach, then strain or squeeze dry (optional).

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6. Pull apart the crab meat and chop or dice coarsely (optional).

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7. Coarsely chop or dice the mozzarella cheese (optional).

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8. Add spaghetti (and the other optional ingredients) into the egg and grated cheese bowl, and mix with your (clean) hands until everything is evenly distributed.

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9. Pour the mixture into the buttered pyrex pan and spread it around so it is flat and evenly distributed.

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10. Bake until you see butter bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pyrex, or until you can poke it with a toothpick and not have any slime or ooze come up when you remove the toothpick. Typically the edges will start to get some brown happening when it is finished, and the top of the pie will start to develop some dry, crispy, semi-burnt spaghetti bits.

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Eggs cook pretty quickly, and that’s really all that needs to get cooked at this point. They’re probably halfway cooked anyway since the hot spaghetti likely hit the egg and started the cooking process already before the pyrex went into the oven. I’m thinking this is usually around 30-45 minutes for me, but I honestly never look at the time. It’s all eyeballs for me.

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Once it’s finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let it set/rest for a while before cutting into squares/cubes.

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In the meantime, you can make a nice dipping sauce out of some canned or jarred tomatoes, if you have them sitting around collecting dust. I like to use a small can of Contadina tomato sauce, hit it in a small sauté pan with some olive oil, spices, herbs and a bit of chili paste or chili flakes. You can pour it on top of your piece of pie, or dip into it with each bite.

Some people eat by hand, and others use a fork and knife.

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It really all depends on the density and consistency of the final product. If you want a more dense pie, use fewer eggs and add in all of the goodies I suggested. If you want a fluffier pie, use more eggs and fewer extras.

Taureau

Taureau is a French fondue joint down in SoHo that’s owned and operated by the same badass chef dude, Didier, who runs neighboring La Sirene and cross-town East Village gem Le Village.

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My wife and I were invited here to round out a trio of press dinners for Didier’s restaurants.

The atmosphere here is cozy, with dim, warm lighting. Taureau derives its name, logo and decor concepts from the Taurus zodiac sign. It’s an earth sign specifically, and everything served and used for decor is of the earth (no fish on the menu, lots of natural objects for decor, dark wood and earth tones for the seating and tables, etc).

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The concept of fondue is pretty simple: melted cheeses, hot oils, mulled wines and melted chocolates, in which various meats, veggies, fruits, breads and other items are dunked and dipped prior to eating. It’s not complicated or messed with here at Taureau. As with his traditional French bistro La Sirene, Didier has kept his fondue concept restaurant straightforward, and I believe it’s the only fondue gig in town.

The fondue experience is inherently communal. No guys: there’s no LSD, cult leaders, hippies or outdoor multi-day music festivals. I only mean “communal” as in everyone is using the same cooking vessel. As such this lends itself to be a good place to go both with a group of friends, or even for an intimate date. After you share cooking vessels, you can share a bed together. And with music like Barry White playing during the meal, the mood for such behavior is subconsciously set. One caution I will give you is this: be prepared to come away with a scent of cooking oil on your clothing. Didier has some good air circulation in the restaurant, so it wasn’t as thick as I expected. However sometimes the fondue pots can smoke up a little bit, and the oil smells can cling to your fabrics – JUST the oil smells though; the cheese and chocolate smells don’t cling. So even though Barry White may have lubricated your libido while you were indulging in chocolate covered strawberries with your lover, you both may come away with a “fast food employee” smell on your persons that could ruin the mood. I suppose you can simply double down on the sexy and eat topless if you want; then there will be no smell on your clothing. However, while it’s perfectly legal to go topless in NYC, it may be frowned upon by the restaurant and its diners, and if you drip hot oil, liquefied cheese or melted chocolate on your nipples, you may regret the topless dining decision very quickly (unless, of course, you’re into that weird shit).

I have to be honest here: I had been to a fondue joint out on Long Island once and I didn’t like it very much. It felt over-priced and the food was underwhelming. But here, I knew I was in good hands with Didier. Everything I have ever tasted from his kitchens was high quality and really delicious. As such I was excited to dive in.

Okay so, basically, you choose your price point and fondue accompaniments (very reasonably priced, ranging from $43/pp to $52/pp), and soon the food starts to come out as the fondue pots heat up on built-in electric heaters that are embedded in the tables. They serve wine too, so you can pair your cheese fondue with white, and then transition over to red for the meats:

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The first course is a salad along with some croutons, which is unlimited if you choose to gorge yourself:

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The salad is mixed greens, lightly but evenly dressed. The croutons are for your cheese fondue course that comes out with this. We tried four different cheese concoctions. The first was a nutmeg-infused cheese, which smelled like fall:

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Then a combination of various Swiss cheeses:

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And a cauldron of Monterey jack and cheddar cheese:

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But my favorite was this earthy truffle perigord cheese:

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It went perfectly with our side items for dipping, which consisted of broccoli, chorizo, fennel sausage, and portobello mushrooms:

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In particular, the mushrooms with the truffle cheese was an incredible “double-down” on the earthy flavor notes. And the chorizo went really nicely with the nutmeg cheese. The spice of the sausage was off-set and balanced by that touch of sweetness from the cheese. We kept diving in, dipping food, and dodging and ducking from any errant drips of melty cheese as we reached over and across each other. Dodge, dip, dive, duck and dodge. Just like the five D’s of dodgeball, from the Dodgeball movie:

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Some drip-catching plates could have been helpful, I suppose, and I guess we could add a 6th D for the dodgeball reference, for Didier. He has truly created some really amazing cheese combinations, and that truffle cheese was the big star of the show for the evening. I just kept going at it, even when all that was left to dip was the broccoli!

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After about 15 hits of truffle cheese, I thought I might be full, but then the meat course came out. Our cheese fondue pots were swapped for four new pots: red wine, vegetable oil, olive oil and peanut oil. The idea here is to dunk your meat in for varying amounts of time (depending how thoroughly cooked you want it), and then add a little sauce to it before eating. The sauces included a dijon cream, truffle red wine reduction, peppercorn gravy, gorgonzola cream and Hollandaise.

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The sauces paired in unique ways depending on which meat you chose, and which fondue pot you used for cooking the meat. The meats are all marinated and pre-sliced, by the way, for maximum tenderness. Our meat selections were as follows:

Pork (cook for 45 seconds):

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Chicken (cook for 45 seconds):

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Filet Mignon (medium rare 15 seconds):

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Hanger Steak (medium rare 15 seconds):

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My favorite pairings were (1) hanger steak cooked in olive oil and topped with the truffle red wine reduction sauce; (2) filet mignon cooked in red wine and topped with the gorgonzola sauce; (3) pork cooked in red wine and topped with the peppercorn gravy; and (4) chicken cooked in peanut oil and topped with the dijon cream sauce. Really good shit.

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Dessert, as you can imagine, involved copious quantities of melted chocolate. We tried both the milk and dark chocolate varieties:

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We were served a plate of sliced fruit and dessert breads for dipping. Bananas, pineapples, apples, kiwi, grapes, strawberries, banana bread, white chocolate bread and even marshmallows were all involved.

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You can mix and match to your heart’s desire. I was actually surprised to find that I liked kiwi with milk chocolate. Pretty interesting.

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But you can’t really beat the simplicity of a chocolate covered banana or marshmallow:

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That about covers it for this really fun fondue night. If you’re up for something unique and different for dinner, this is definitely the way to go. When you go, tell Didier that Johnny Prime sends his regards.

TAUREAU
558 Broome St.
New York, NY 10013

The Johnny Prime Burger

Let me start off my reiterating the fact that I am a burger purist. I like my burgers pretty much on the standard side. My ideal: a nicely seared beef patty (on a flat top – not grilled), sandwiched between a potato bun with mayo on both halves of the bun, and topped with melty American cheese, iceberg lettuce, one thin slice of tomato, some pickles and a few rings of raw onion (not a full slice). Occasionally I will throw some bacon on top, but I figured out a better way to get the bacon into the mix without adding yet another topping. Sometimes when the toppings get too numerous, you end up with a tall stack; that sucks.

I should also mention here that anyone can make a good burger at home. In fact some home burgers far surpass anything you can get at a burger joint. It’s one of the easiest things to cook at home, so a “recipe” for a burger is kinda nonsense, know what I mean? There’s nothing particularly special or innovative about this recipe other than the first three steps, and to even suggest innovation there is a stretch. It’s really just good sense, and I feel like more people need to know about it.

Here’s a quick time lapse video of me executing all the steps below:

1) Fry up some bacon in a cast iron pan – as much as you would normally include on top of your burger.

2) Remove the finished bacon from your cast iron pan, but leave the grease in the pan.

3) Once cooled, crumble up the bacon and mix it into your chopped meat. The crunchy bacon inside will add texture as well as flavor to your finished product. Don’t overwork or overpack the meat when mixing the bacon into the patty. I like about 6oz of chopped meat for a burger. That means it’s not too ridiculously thick, and not too thin to the point where you need to eat two burgers just to feel something in your stomach.

Note: Some burger recipes tell you to add diced bacon into the chopped meat BEFORE cooking the bacon. BIG MISTAKE. If you’re like me, and you like your burger medium or medium rare, then some of that bacon won’t cook properly in the amount of time is takes to get the beef up to temperature. There’s nothing worse than rubbery, undercooked bacon. It blows. The key is to fry that shit off beforehand, as I noted in step one above, and then mix the fully cooked bacon into the raw beef burger patty.

4) Cook your burger in the bacon grease, in the same cast iron pan. This will follow through on your bacon flavor, and it’ll give the patty a good crust to boot.

5) When you flip the burger (you’re only flipping it once, by the way), add your American cheese (go with two slices) and cover the pan, so that the cheese gets nice and melty.

Note: Some people add a bit of water into the pan at this point, before covering the pan (like maybe 2-3oz). Why? The water instantly sublimates to steam, which is a higher temperature than the air in the pan. When sealed up and covered, this helps to melt the cheese faster. This is especially helpful if you like a rare or medium rare burger, because you don’t have to wait as long for the cheese to melt, which in turn means you are less likely to overcook your burger while waiting for the cheese to finish melting.

6) Remove your patty from the pan when the cheese is melted, and set it aside for a moment. You can use a cooling rack or a plate.

7) Prep your bun for assembly. This entails a few sub-steps:

a) Apply mayo to both sides of the potato bun.
b) Add one leaf of iceberg lettuce to each side.
c) On the bottom side, set down your thin slice of tomato on top of the lettuce. Ideally you want a good sized tomato so that your slice covers the majority of the bun from end to end.
d) On the top side, place your rings of raw onion and pickles on top of the lettuce.
e) I’ve also opted to add some fried crispy shallots to the burger for extra texture, as well as some sliced jalapeños for heat, mainly because I almost always have these things in my fridge.
f) Put your burger in there, and close her up.

That’s it. You’re ready to eat!

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Shorty’s

Shorty’s is a Philly cheesesteak joint on 9th Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets. They’ve actually got three other locations, but this is their flagship spot. I’d been in here once before and had a pretty damn good chicken cheesesteak. But this time I ordered a regular cheesesteak with American AND wiz, because I’m an animal, and onions, of course.

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That shit was so ooey and gooey that it would make Peter North drop his jaw in awe. I asked my buddy, who is familiar with genuine Philly cheesesteaks, if this compares to the famous Pat’s and Geno’s. His response was that this is pretty good, and that they do a very close job to the authentic style found in Philly.

We also tried regular and Italian flavored (parmesan and herbs) fries. Both were really good but if I had to choose a favorite I would say the Italian style was a little better. The cheese makes it pop.

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Anyway, if beer is your thing, the place has a great happy hour special. Every bottle, can or draft is $4 until 7pm during the week. That’s pretty great, so get on it.

SHORTY’S
576 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10036

Minetta Tavern

After coming here a few times for drinks back in the day, the place has taken on new ownership. Now there is a massive buzz about their amazing “Black Label Burger,” so I had to give it a try.

My wife and I decided to sit at the bar for our meal.

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We started with a pair of cocktails. For me, it was the Bull Shot, which was made with vodka, oxtail broth, lemon, and worcestershire sauce. It was really great, and super manly.

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My wife had a spicy bloody Mary with jalapeños, southwest spices, pickled okra, celery, and pickled green bean. It tasted very fresh.

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We ordered the Black Label Burger, which, for $28, comes with a shit load of fries. I didn’t realize, though, that it didn’t have any cheese. That sucked.

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Anyway the burger meat was perfectly cooked to medium rare (even though I ordered medium), and the sear on the outer crust was crispy and packed with crunchy meat flavor. It was topped with sautéed onions and I also put the lettuce and tomato on top as well.

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The fries are the best I’ve ever had. For real. And they give you enough to feed three people with ease. These are so perfectly seasoned and so crispy, that you may be tempted to run to the bathroom quick and jerk off thinking about how good that first fry was before going back for more.

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Speaking of jerk-sauce, they are served up with a really nice house made mayonnaise. Very nice. Contrast with the hellishly disgusting pickle they serve alongside the burger. Thank God it wasn’t already ON the burger. It was a sweet pickle, but flavored with cinnamon or some nonsense. Eww. All in all, a great meal. The Minetta Burger is served with cheese and costs over $10 less. Maybe next time I will try that. Cheese is absolutely necessary on a burger. Anyone who tells you otherwise can go fuck themselves.

SECOND VISIT

On a second visit, my wife and I had a psychotic meal with the man behind The Dishelin Guide and the Dish Envy app, which is soon to be released for public consumption. This was sort of a two-way celebration. First, it’s been four years to the day since I started this blog; and second, for our friend’s app.

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Alright enough bullshit. Let’s get down to business on this fucking incredible food we had. As an appetizer, we shared the black label burger. Our food companion had never tried it before, and I was convinced that my last experience could be better. We added cheddar cheese to it, because every burger needs cheese. It isn’t steak – it’s a burger, people! With that addition, I was correct. This was WAY better than my last burger here. Juicy, perfectly cooked, and really great with the melted cheese. You could still easily pick up all the great beef flavors going on in the grind.

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The three of us shared both the cote de boeuf and the pork shank. Take a look at this fucking delicious chunk of beef. It comes with two hulking marrow bones and a wedge of salad. Who cares about that bullshit? Not me, so I didn’t photograph the salad. Anyway they present it to you like this before they take it back to slice it up:

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Here’s the slice job. Very beautifully plated:

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The meat had a great crust all over and was still nice and pink throughout the eye of the meat. The fat cap was a bit underwhelming and gristled, but the flavor of the eye made up for that in spades. If this was a legit steakhouse review, the score would probably be a 9 for flavor. I’ve had better, but this is just a really impressive dish to pull off on a regular basis. We need to give credit where credit is due. Well done, Minetta Tavern. Delicious.

My wife took down most of the pork shank. Unfortunately the skin didn’t get crispy like we expected, but the meat was fork tender and really tasty.

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On the side we had these really nice potatoes that were described as “punched.” Basically, baked, crisped and flavored with rosemary salt and garlic while being pressed. I absolutely loved them, but I was so focused on the meat that I didn’t get a chance to really savor my portion. I just kinda wolfed it between bites of meat.

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For dessert we tried the cold nougat ice cream pie thingy. It was really nice, almost marshmallowy in texture on top, and with the flavor of a cold candy bar on the bottom. It was topped with a chocolate cherry sauce and some crushed pistachios.

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Here’s the William:

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Oh and I slammed one of these too. haven’t had one in years and it was fucking great. I will need to stock up the fridge at home now:

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MINETTA TAVERN
113 MacDougal St.
New York, NY 10012