Thursday, February 10, 2011

Food and Puzzles for Dogs

This is a bit off-topic, but it's my blog and I can post off-topic if I want to. And it's kind of relevant because it's about food, even if it's dog food.

I've got a border collie named Archie. He's a pain in the butt sometimes because he's too smart and has too much energy. To combat those twin evils, we need to give him challenging things to do that don't drive us crazy at the same time. A few months back, we discovered the Kibble Nibble, an egg-shaped treat dispenser that keeps him engaged for, well, hours. It's been a life saver, and it's also a lot of fun to watch him use it.

So, today's post is a video of a dog playing with a toy getting his kibble. Yay, foodies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinner at Dino

Since Brian has yet to visit the new neighborhood favorite Dino, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I am no photographer, so you'll still have to wait for those glorious images of gluttony, but I think I have the advantage in terms of writing style. Hopefully I can charm you critical readers with my heavenly prose.

We hadn't planned to go to Dino, in particular. I was having dinner with a friend, unfamiliar with the Fort Greene eatery scene, and I decided to let him choose the spot. As we walked along DeKalb Avenue - in the middle of the ice storm, I might add - I pointed out Madiba, Cornerstone, and Kif, all favorites of mine. None of them seemed to catch his eye. We passed Sushi D (which apparently only got a B rating...a little scary for a sushi place) and the General Greene. We were about to walk by when he spotted the slightly hidden, but invitingly lit restaurant and pointed.

"That one," he said.

"Brian's going to kill me," I said.

We entered the front door and found ourselves in a small but cozy haven from the elements. There were only a few tables, maybe 10, but we were lucky enough to get one by the window, from which we could watch others struggle through the cold as we enjoyed a glass of wine. The staff was friendly and attentive, giving us a place to stow our bags and pointing out the specials, posted on a blackboard. I was almost convinced by the thought of pear and ricotta ravioli, but instead chose to order spinach gnocci and a side of roasted brussel sprouts. My friend got the caprese appetizer and grilled salmon served over lentils and topped with an eggplant tapenade.

While we waited for our food, we enjoyed bread with delicious olive oil. Since I have sworn off excessive cheese, I refrained from trying the mozzarella, but from the sounds of pleasure emanating from the seat across from me, I assume it was good. Then the main courses arrived. We both dug in, he exclaiming over his salmon's eggplant topping and I, charmed by the exotic contrast between the tomato sauce and roasted garlic cream that mingled atop my gnocci. As a gnocchi connoisseur, I enjoyed it, but wished it had been a bit more melt-in-your-mouth. The brussel sprouts, however, were to die for and I was so glad I had added them, almost as an afterthought. Buttery, yet crispy, they reminded me of Thanksgiving and my mom's cooking. And, as I'm sure previous posts on this blog have revealed, my mother is no amateur in the kitchen.

Once our plates had been cleared, we began contemplating dessert. Both of us are trying to diet, so there was a moment of hesitation, but we had been staring at the specials board all night and it had been calling to us. Green apple tart. When we heard it was served with vanilla ice cream, it was all over.

And so worth it. The crust was delicate and flaky, while the apples had the perfect tartness. The ice cream melted easily atop the warm tart and we devoured it. I almost regretted we hadn't ordered two.

Overall, I enjoyed Dino and look forward to taking Brian there so that we can get some pictures. I'm sure this is a place that will soon be added to his somewhat short list of recommended restaurants.

Clinton Hill Foodie Doubles in Size

It's impossible to spend any significant amount of time with me without ending up in this blog somewhere. Regular readers may recognize the names of friends and family who've passed through my culinary life, and most food experiences I have (and write about) involve others. For the last year, however, I've been blessed with sharing both kitchen and restaurant with my girlfriend, Olivia. While she enjoys being part of the blog tangentially, she grows ever frustrated with my lagging post schedule and my inability to do anything and everything she demands. I've decided that her oppression will reign no more. I will not stand idly by while she yells at me for not posting that Madiba review or forgetting to credit her pictures. Instead, I've simply given her a login.

I have no idea how often she'll post, but if she's got something to say, now she has a way to do it. Instead of hitting me.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Simple Sunday

Winter has brought lots of football, lots of staying in, and lots of feeling gross on Sunday nights after copious amounts of beer and wings. Last night we needed a break from the gluttony, so I tossed together a simple and healthy Sunday dinner. There's hardly a recipe here to speak of; it's just baked seasoned chicken breasts, white rice, and steamed broccoli. Sometimes it doesn't need to be complicated to be good.

New Grocery, New Farmer in the Deli

Looks like the northeast part of Clinton Hill (near where I currently call home) will be getting some new food options soon.

First up, it looks like at least part of the space in the new Pratt building on Myrtle will be occupied by a grocery store. I don't know much about Khim's Millennium market, but their spartan website proclaims "Natural and Organic Products at Affordable Prices." Anyone been to their other location in Williamsburg? Any good? The emphasis on natural and organic could point to a nice upscale grocer, which would be great. Or it could be overpriced nonsense.

On the other hand, it looks like some of the retail space across the street has been rented to none other than Farmer in the Deli, purveyors of excellently-built sandwiches. See this? This is me excited.

Along with Tamboril, the recently-relocated Jive Turkey, both Ruthies, the Emerson, and venerable White Castle, there seem to be a lot of food goings-on round these parts. Yay.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Saffron and Chicken Risotto

It's starting to sound really weak, even to me, to bemoan my lack of posting whenever I get around to throwing one up, so I'm not even going to bother. Needless to say, life these days hasn't afforded as much time for blogging as I'd otherwise like. Still, it doesn't mean there aren't some good eats to pass along. I'm still cooking from time to time, and starting to eat out more than I have over the last few months as well. Lots of spots, both new and old, are on my radar that I'm hoping to get to and review.

Until then, though, how about I pass along a recent saffron and chicken risotto? See what I did there? I made you think you had a choice.

I've done risotto a few times on this blog, and it's something I'll always being toying around with, even if I'm never going to reach the experimental heights of the great Last Night's Dinner. This time, however, I kept things pretty traditional and just did a basic saffron risotto with, oil, butter, chicken stock, and a valencia onion.

All well and good, but I also tossed in some amazing salt that Liv's parents were so kind as to give me for Christmas. The set has four different artisan salts, and for this risotto I tried the red sea salt. I simply added a pinch of salt along with the rice and another when I added the parmesan and butter at the end.

It was good.

Liv threw together some sauteed vegetables and I pan seared a couple of chicken breasts to go on top (or rather, along side) the risotto.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Which Way to Go?

Happy New Year, fellow foodies! Hope everyone made it through Blizzageddon '10/'11 all right. I got stuck in Vegas for a few extra days, but was otherwise unscathed. Now it's time to think about January eats, yeah? Some egregious holiday spending has curtailed my budget for eating out, so I haven't been sampling our local cuisine nearly as much as would be expected. I did get over to 67 Burger the other night, but other than that? Nada.

As we head into the new year, I realize there are a variety of places I have yet to try, both old and new. The new coffee place on Willoughby, WTF, for instance. The Local wrote about it recently, and a reader even e-mailed asking if I'd been there. Well, aside from walking past it a few times, I haven't. Yet.

The Emerson (which isn't on Emerson), is another. Looks like an interesting new bar, and it's right around the corner from me. Have I been there? No. Will I? Sure.

How about restaurants that have been around forever that I've yet to try?  Luz, for one. Black Iris, for another. What else am I missing? The new place that replaced Thomas Beisl? Dino?

Help me out here, folks.