Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The True Face of Jealousy

Things are pretty good in the House of Brian these days.  Great job, a new dog, and it's almost football season.

Still, all is not well, for the lovely and talented Olivia has been gone for the better part of a month, gallivanting around Europe without me.  Right now she's hopping from hostel to hostel in Ireland, but before that?  Before that she was livin' the dream, man.  Olivia and her mother spent a week on a biking and wine tour in Provence.  I'd say more, but what more really needs to be said?  They ate, they drank, they biked.  Sounds like a perfect holiday to me.

They were kind enough to pass along some pictures, I imagine chosen specifically to make me frothy with jealousy.  They chose wisely, assuming that was their goal.

This was our first meal in Provence - all of the meals have about 5 courses. This one had quite a lot.

First picture is the Amuse-bouche, literally meaning to amuse the mouth - in this case, a salmon sashimi with a garlic cream and seasonal veggies and a cold melon soup.

Second picture is the appetizer - again, sushi-related, with rice, seaweed, avocado, with a tomato jelly below and tomato sorbet on top.

The third is the main course - lamb with seasonal vegetables, cooked to perfection and delicious

The fourth is a collection of pre-desserts - meringue cookies, nougat cookies, mini fruit tarts and violet lolly pops (not shown)

The fifth is the real dessert - custard with graham cracker and chocolate, plus strawberry sorbet on top.

Looks tasty.  How about another entire meal?

Appetizer of sea scallops uncooked except for some citrus juice, atop seasonal vegetables.

Fois gras with tomatoes stuffed with tomato jelly (my mom's appetizer).

Cod fillet with sauteed fava beans, topped with peppers and a wonderful candied lemon slice (I ate the entire slice). On the side is a tomato sorbet.

Mint-infused chocolate mousse with dark chocolate pieces, topped with an unbelievable fresh candied mint leaf.

Fresh raspberries atop custard and cookie with ice cream (my mom's dessert, also superb, but not quite beating mine).

The jealousy runs deep, I tell 'ya.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Myrtle Eats Fresh

Like food?  How about fresh food?  Live anywhere near Myrtle Ave?  If so, this event might be for you!

Celebrate fresh food at the Myrtle Eats Fresh Kick-Off Event!

MARP’s Myrtle Eats Fresh initiative includes a number of projects that engage community members in activities to improve access to healthy, affordable food on Myrtle Avenue, and in the surrounding neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Projects include a community-run farm stand, a community chef program, creating and expanding community gardens on public housing grounds, and the formation of a local food policy task force.

Join us to learn more about the program and celebrate the inaugural season of the Myrtle Farm Stand, and meet the community members, project partners and MARP staff involved in making it all happen!

When: Thursday, August 12, 2010
Time: 4:30pm
Where: Myrtle Avenue Farm Stand, at the Ingersoll Community Center, 177 Myrtle Avenue (Prince/Navy)

Please RSVP: Joanna Reynolds, 718.230.1689 or

Light refreshments will be served.


  • KICK-OFF SPECIAL! Spend at least $8 and get an additional $2 free produce!
  • Cooking Demo by Community Chef Jasmine Reaves
  • Meet gardeners from Ingersoll Garden of Eden
  • Free face painting with Dumeha Bernice of ParaLee’s Peace

The Myrtle Eats Fresh Initiative is supported by New York Community Trust and Atlantic Philanthropies as part of the New York City Community Experience Partnership (CEP), a collaboration with United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH), with additional support from Brooklyn Community Foundation.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Quick Note

For a while i haven't had any good way to get in touch to with me through the blog - you either had to leave a comment with your contact info (not ideal) or join Twitter and DM or something (also not ideal).  Well, I've come up with a solution I think will work: Contact Me Page.

Just use this page to contact me if you need to.  There's also a link over there on the right. Hope that helps.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Roman's Review

Roman's is the new (-ish) Italian restaurant on Dekalb that replaced Bonita.  It's another in the growing list of places that I've been meaning to get to but have simply been unable or unwilling to drag mass into and review.  Thankfully, I am blessed to have such people in my life as my friend Shannon, who recently demanded that we go out and try Roman's since she'd apparently heard some good things.  I acquiesced.

I think one of the things that had been turning me off about Roman's was its austere facade–it's just black block letters on a stainless steel panel above the door.  It looked very plain, I guess.  I readily admit that's a stupid reason not to go to a restaurant, but I'm being honest here.  It just didn't look like much from the outside, and so I always talked myself into walking down the block to Cornerstone or Kif, or across the street to iCi.

It turns out that what Roman's lacks in panache it makes up for with good food.  The menu is set up in a traditional Italian manner with small items designed to be eaten as 3-4 courses.  While this is a great way to build your own meal, it does end up making things a bit pricier than they may seem at first.  The dishes are small, and you're going to need a few of them.

We started by sharing the Roasted Beets with Pickled Watermelon and Fennel, which was a unique take on antipasto and perfect for summer.

Next, we each had a pasta dish which served as our main course.  I had the Pennine with Summer Squash, Butter, and Parmigiano, and Shannon had the Papardelle with Ragu.  Both were compact, interesting dishes that combined a variety of really interesting flavors.  Of the two, I think I'd go for the papardelle over the pennine were I faced with the choice again.

Not hungry enough for a full third course, but not completely satiated, we decided to get some roasted pea pods and cherry tomatoes (not having the menu, I forget its actual title and I think it was a special).  Again, very good,but I think the roasted beats carried the day.

Roman's has a fully-stocked bar and some interesting wine and cocktail choices, which we took full advantage of.  It certainly added to the tab quickly, though, and a small meal for two ended up over $100.

Roman's is a great little place with an interesting menu that seems to change pretty often, so it may be worth popping in on a regular basis to see what they have.  There's never very much to choose from, but that's fine with me as long as what's there is good.  It's a little pricey, and for the money I'd have to think very hard about passing up iCi or No. 7, but Roman's is another great choice in a neighborhood that seems to get more by the day.


243 Dekalb Ave
Brooklyn, NY

Google Map

Monday, August 2, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I think the first time I mentioned making a flourless chocolate cake on this blog was back in November of 2008 after making a pumpkin cheesecake.  I'd recently tried a flourless chocolate at a restaurant in Chelsea and had completely fallen in love.

For some reason, I never actually got around to making it until now.  I needed a dessert for a party recently and decided that yes, I'd finally make what I consider the Holy Grail of chocolate cakes.  Mine didn't come out exactly as I was hoping, but I think it was a good first effort and a first step toward future greatness.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from this recipe at


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (12 ounce) bittersweet chocolate
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 large eggs (separated)
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 325°F.  Oil and flour a 9-inch springform cake round.  Cut a piece of wax paper or parchment to fit inside the bottom of the pan, place the paper in the bottom of the pan.

In a double-boiler on gentle heat (I used a makeshift double boiler out of a small pot and a metal bowl), melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a clean mixing bowl (make sure there is no oil residue on the bowl or mixer attachments) beat the egg whites until they become cloudy and frothy; about 30 seconds.  Continue beating while adding the brown sugar and cream of tartar.

Beat until stiff peaks form–be careful not to over-beat–this is most important!  If the eggs curdle, throw them away and start over with new egg whites, seriously.  (I think I may have over-beat the eggs slightly).

Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla into the melted chocolate mixture in a large mixing bowl.  Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate (start by folding in about 1/3rd of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites), the mixture should end up fluffy and light.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Place a casserole dish filled with 1-2 inches of water on the bottom rack of your oven.  Place the cake on the middle rack to cook.  Bake the cake for about 60-70 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.  (I baked mine a little too long - start looking closely at around 45-50 minutes)

Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for about an hour.  Gently run a knife around the edge of the pan, and then carefully invert the cake onto a flat plate or other surface.

Remove the paper from the bottom (now the top) of the cake.
The cake can be eaten right away but it may fall slightly when it is cut- for best results, it should be refrigerated for at least 6 hours before serving.

So my version came out a little...irregular.  It was still very good, but it basically exploded out of the pan rather than making a nice, dense tort.  I think I cooked it too long along with over-beaten the eggs.  Was it good?  Yes, it was.  Was it what I was hoping for?  No, and I'm looking forward to trying again and getting it right.