Six Most Memorable (for Better and Worse) Things We Ingested in Hong Kong

I’d love to tell you that on our three-day stop in Hong Kong, we hit all the major tourist attractions and checked them off one-by-one. Alas, that would be a lie.

We did not go to Victoria’s Peak, or Lantau Island. We did not gaze in wonder at the mid-level escalators, or pose for photos in front of the Clock Tower. We did not say hi to the Big Buddha or peak into the Po Lin monastery. We did not go to Disneyland or even the Museum of History.

We ate. And ate. And then ate some more.

We barely even visited the Jade Market, and when we did, it was because we were killing time before our next scheduled feeding.

OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight. We wanted to taste everything that Hong Kong had to offer, and I think we did a pretty fair job. From milk tea and tomato noodle soup at one of the city’s last dai pai dong to dim sum at the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurant (the pork buns were the standout) to elegant Cantonese specialties at the Ritz Carlton and inventive Japanese fusion fare at one of the city’s hottest restaurants, we tried a lot of stuff. And then some more stuff.

(Except shark fin soup, even though it was on every damn menu and sold as an ingredient in every damn market).

We weren’t alone on this quest. While we did find and book a couple of restaurants on our own, we also booked two days with Daisann of Little Adventures in Hong Kong before we left home.

Daisann (her name is actually a combination of Daisy and Ann) is the founder of the company and an expat from New York who has lived in Hong Kong for 12 years. With her hands waiving excitedly and her excellent grasp of the Cantonese language, her enthusiasm for Hong Kong and its food scene is completely contagious.

By the second day, I really felt like we were just walking around the city with a good friend who just happened to be a local. My favorite thing was when she would bust out in Cantonese with the shop owners or at the market stalls. Her face would become more animated, her tone would become more forceful, and the looks of respect she got from the locals was priceless. I would really, really highly recommend her services.

So, without further ado, here are the most memorable things we ate on our trip to Hong Kong.

drinks at 001 in Hong Kong
Drinks at 001. Thanks, Aziz Ansari.

Drinks at 001

This place is not easy to find. Especially at night, which it was (you can’t tell from my overly exposed collage above.) Luckily, I had my personal GPS/master navigator XFE to lead the way, and he found it no problem, despite having never even set foot in Hong Kong. At that point, we had actually only been in the city for approximately 2 hours and this was literally our first time out of the hotel. He amazes me.

Anyway, down a whole bunch of small twisty streets, and behind a dull dark gray door with absolutely no signage sits 001, a very swanky speakeasy with delicious cool drinks, plush sink-your-butt seating, and an atmosphere so dark, you can barely see the drinks menu. We had a couple of rounds of drinks, trying the Earl Grey martini, an Old Cuban and a Godfather Smash (can’t remember the fourth cocktail, not surprisingly). Also, the calamari was tasty.

(True story: about five minutes after we got there, a gregarious young guy came in, announced to the bartenders that he had a test tomorrow and needed to try a whole bunch of spirits. He proceeded to order a taste of just about everything in the place, from pisco to grappa to tequila to all kinds of other stuff. It was pretty fun to watch him work his way through all of it, using his spit cup obviously.)

Continue reading Six Most Memorable (for Better and Worse) Things We Ingested in Hong Kong

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Eight Incredible Things We Ate in Singapore and Cambodia (and New York)

The last two weeks have involved super fun, almost vacation-like visits to a new dentist for my third round of scaling and root planing procedures. If you don’t know what this is, you are extremely fortunate.

I’ve actually had it done twice before, but my new dentist (and my x-rays) suggested that I had not had it done properly, and there was significant plaque buildup. So back in I went for a couple of two-hour sessions involving lots of numbing shots to the mouth and ultrasonic instruments that make your eardrums buzz for ages afterwards.

All of which is to say, I’m glad I did not get this done before our trip to Singapore, Cambodia and Hong Kong. Because this trip was all about the food and the eating. A lot of eating. So much eating, of so much good food. The memories of all that great food helped me get through the two-hour dentist appointments.

Here’s a list of my favorite things we ate this trip, starting with New York, Singapore and Cambodia (Hong Kong is getting its own post. IT WAS JUST THAT GOOD.)

Birthday at Le Bernardin
Me with the first of SEVERAL birthday desserts this trip. This one at Le Bernardin.

Kingfish caviar at Le Bernardin, New York

We started the super awesome around-the-world birthday extravaganza in New York. We went up to the city the night before our Singapore flight, and lucked out on getting reservations at Le Bernardin. It cost a small fortune, but we had the Chef’s tasting menu. My perennial dining companion XFE pointed out that it was pretty unlikely we’d ever be there again, so why not splash out? (He’s a very good boyfriend).

This place, which in case you didn’t know, has three Michelin stars, is freaking amazing. Like, really, really nice. Far too nice for the likes of me. My voice is too loud, I hunch over my food, I eat and drink too fast, I gush a lot, and I wasn’t even sure what the small stool next to my chair was (to hold your purse, naturally). So, quite naturally, I started our dinner by knocking over my amuse bouche of soup. I swear, XFE can’t take me anywhere nice.

At Le Bernardin, the focus is on fish and there were several simply prepared all-stars, but my favorite was the kingfish caviar–a warm “sashimi” of kingfish, topped with Osetra caviar and a light butter broth. It was luxurious and briny and melted in your mouth. The seared wagyu beef with fresh kimchi was also amazing – fatty and unctuous – and I don’t even like kimchi.

Two sidenotes: my favorite thing about Le Bernardin (next to the purse stool) was that the huge round chairs swiveled out so you didn’t have to scoot your chair away from the table to get up. You merely turned to the side and gently lifted up and out of the seat. Classy. Oh, and we saw Eric Ripert peak his head into the dining room at one point. I was star-struck.

Continue reading Eight Incredible Things We Ate in Singapore and Cambodia (and New York)

Hotel Crashing: The St. Regis in Nusa Dua, Bali

When I was a young, sprightly Poe running wild and breaking hearts (ie: dating), I went out for a bit with a bartender/soccer player named Ian. He was pretty hot with dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes. And very fit, obviously. Ian was sleek, sexy, laid back, and a ton of fun. He was also far too cool for my nerdy self. We dated for a summer and that was it.

A little while later, I dated Alistair (yep, I was in the throws of my British dating phase). Alistair was also gorgeous, but in a far more patrician way. He was calmer, more established and successful, very classy act. Well, classy except for the fact that I found out soon after we started dating that he had a live-in girlfriend. That was the end of that.

What I’m getting at is this: If the slick and cool W Hotel in Seminyak, Bali was Ian, then the St. Regis in Nusa Dua was all Alistair. Minus the live-in girlfriend.

Fire dancers
The view from the lobby down through the length of the property. Yep, those are fire dancers.

Continue reading Hotel Crashing: The St. Regis in Nusa Dua, Bali

Friday Links: Sassy Cats See Buildings Shaped Like Food and/or Brains Edition

I’m frolicking in Naples, Italy right now, eating all of the thin crust pizza, and pasta, and creamy pastries, and just fried everything I can get my sticky little fingers on while my travel-buddy-for-life XFE actually works. Maybe the guys who make the expandable suitcase below could branch out into some expandable pants in time for my return.

This is the proper way to eat Italian cheese. I learned that from a Euro of Hollywood, so it’s a FAKT.

In the meantime:

Poe Cooks Reality: Eggplant Parmigiana from Food Network’s “Best Thing…”

While it’s generally well known that I have a very handsome in-house personal-chef-for-life, I too, can combine raw ingredients into something passably edible. Or, at least not poisonous. (I just scoured this website for a picture of me cooking and found nothing. NOTHING. I was sure there was a picture of me stirring a pot somewhere, but no.)

And, now that I work from the spacious Poe Industries World Headquarters (ie: home), I’ve been stepping up and cooking more often.

Truth be told, I tend to lean towards large, stick-to-your-ribs meals that would feed a small yet hungry army, with a particular tendency towards casseroles smothered in cheese until unrecognizable. This weekend’s offering definitely falls in that category.

I saw this eggplant parmigiana on some Food Network show. Something along the lines of “Best Cheese-Covered Mess I’ve Ever Eaten/Made.” (Actually, here it is, and it was called “Best Thing I Ever Made – Fry It Up”) Alex Guarnaschelli, who has the most impossible last name ever, was raving about it. Seriously, I almost gave up on trying to find the recipe because of typing in that last name.

Now, I don’t find Chef Alex particularly enchanting. Her delivery is pretty boring actually, and she looks just like a former friend who literally just up and stopped talking to me right around the time I met XFE – never did solve that particular issue/mystery, but I’m sure my happiness was totally annoying to her.

But, Chef Alex does have some meat on her bones, and I tend to trust chefs that actually look like they eat. Never trust a skinny chef is one of my life mantras.

Eggplant Parmigiana via Poe

This recipe was fine. I wouldn’t say it was easy. And, you will use every damn cooking utensil in your house. At one point, I had four cookie sheets at play, and three pie plates that I was using as a dipping/breading station.

There are also a lot of steps that I think could be skipped. For example, making your own sauce. Yeah, it’s not like that’s a hard thing to do, but probably not necessary. In our case, one of the reasons we were making eggplant parmigiana is that we had some crushed tomatoes in the freezer from last year’s amazing tomato crop. So I swapped those out for two of the three cans of whole tomatoes the recipe called for, and just used one can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. If I made this again, I’d just buy a good, premade sauce and save myself some time.

Also: in the recipe, Alex says you don’t have to salt the eggplant and let them sit for an hour, but really, who wants bitter eggplant?

My other quibble is that we were told to use a 9 x 13 casserole dish, which I did. However, in the recipe, she suggests you can get three layers in that thing, which was not the case in our house. We used two medium-sized eggplants and got two generous, overflowing layers in the pan, so it worked out fine, but definitely not three layers.

Ours was a bit watery at the end. Some moisture on the bottom of the casserole dish. XFE noticed it when he was wrapping the leftovers to put them in the fridge. I don’t know if it was because I used too much sauce or because of the tomato swap out, and it wasn’t a ton, but maybe more than we expected(?).

I also question the necessity of breading and frying the eggplant. I’m not a big fan of frying in general (not for health reasons or anything. It just makes the house stink, in my opinion), and the final product was really a cheesy mess. You definitely don’t get any fried crispiness. But again, maybe that was because of the tomato/watery situation. Hard to tell. After dinner, XFE pointed out that Trader Joe’s has fried eggplant slices in the freezer section, so if I made this again, I might use that short cut as well, since home frying didn’t seem to make a discernible improvement to the final product.

However, with all that being said, this eggplant parmigiana was really, really good. Downright delicious.  I mean, how could it not be? It had like a couple of pounds of cheese. It was basically an ooey, gooey Italian cheese delivery system, which is just fine by me. And our tomatoes tasted amazing, really bright and summery, so it was a good use of those.

Can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch this week. Maybe with a side of cheese, eaten Bleona style.

Bleona eating cheese.

Peru Eats that May or May Not Make You Ill

Well, well, well. Looks like I brought a souvenir back from Peru and I’m not talking about the gorgeous alpaca sweater I got at Sol in Lima.

giardia pack

No, I’m talking about a parasite in my small intestine. Actually, there’s probably more than one of them. So, a pack of parasites, if you will. (they look so happy in the picture above. Very disconcerting.)

I went to the doctor on Tuesday and she quickly diagnosed me with Giardia. Doesn’t that sound like some sort of lovely plant or bush? “Just look at that Giardia flowering over the balustrade over the portico.”

It’s apparently quite common in cats and dogs. Guess I should have taken my preventative Frontline before the trip.

Anyway, it all continues to be unpleasant and fairly disgusting. I’m on antibiotics for the next week.

Not surprisingly, my new favorite pastime is to go over (in my mind) again and again everything I ate or ingested during the trip. I thought it was a fairly clean cut case against the coconut paleta I had in Lima, but who really knows? Let’s review some of what we ate while in Peru.

Pisco Sour

The lovely national drink of Peru. It’s composed of Peruvian Pisco (it’s kinda like a brandy), lime or lemon juice, simple syrup, ice, egg white and a drop of Angostura bitters.

Pisco sour

Our scientific findings, which included consumption of Pisco Sours at no less than four upscale hotels and more than a couple of restaurants, was that the best Pisco Sour in Peru can be found at the executive lounge at the Westin Lima Hotel and Convention Center. Amazing. The bartender didn’t use a mix (as some other places did) and he vigorously blended it in a shaker by hand – not a blender, as was more common. It was our first Pisco Sour of the trip and it was smooth and creamy and not too sour. We spent the rest of our time chasing another one like it.

Ceviche

The lovely national dish of Peru. It’s made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices until the chemical reaction causes a sort of cured/cooked state. Sorta like pickling.

ceviche

I’d like to think that the three or four times we had it the fish was fresh, but who knows. When we had it, we shared it, and while XFE has had some slight stomach issues, they’re not nearly the scale of my own, so I’m willing to give ceviche a pass as the culprit.

Cuy

Yes, despite my sworn protestations, I did partake in some guinea pig. BUT, it was a very small bite and was one course in a 17-course tasting menu at Astrid & Gaston, one of the finest restaurants in Lima. It was done in a Peking style, so I could barely taste it between the corn crepe and the sauce.

IMG_0198

Alpaca

I had an alpaca loin at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge on the night of my birthday. I’m not sorry to say: It was really, really good. Kind of like a cross between lamb and a pork chop. Very tasty. I’d definitely eat it again.

IMG_0417

Cancha salada

Toasted dried chulpe corn,salted and crunchy. These awesome little snacks were frequently put out when we ordered drinks. Delicious. I loved them. Sorta like  Corn Nuts (but not as processed).

cancha

Food Porn Paris Part Deux: Where the Salt Meets the Caramel

Oh la la - French breakfast

Sick of hearing me blather and brag about my wonderful weekend in Paris yet? Too bad! You guuuuyyyys, I haven’t even gotten to the best parts yet. Oh wait. I did already write about the shoes, didn’t I? Yeah, those were the best part. But other interesting stuff happened as well, I swear. Just humor me a couple of more days.

When last we left off, this little Poe had eaten her way through a giant Grand Marnier soufflé.

For our second night in Paris, we went to New York uberchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market, a very chic and trendy spot in the very chic and trendy 8th Arr.

Vongerichten is probably best known for his New York restaurants, including Spice Market, and this place was very New York. Sleek, beautiful dining room full of sleek, beautiful staff. If only there were as efficient as they were pretty. The service was a bit lackluster. For example, we wanted to enjoy our champagne cocktail and wait to order. This threw everyone for a loop, and several people came over a number of times to see if we were ready to order.

You would have thought that over-attentiveness would seep over into the later dinner service, but non. We sat with empty plates a number of times.

The food was good, but not great, and I thought the pricing was fair—a bit expensive, but not overly so. We started with foie gras with plum and spicy fig. The foie gras was very rich, so accompanying it with a sweet, fruity component was a very good idea.

For mains, I had the steamed sea bass with carrots and XFE had the lamb chops with a mushroom ‘bolognese.’ Again, it was all fine, just not overwhelming. The plating was beautiful (we didn’t take pictures) and everything was cooked to perfection, but the flavors didn’t blow us away.

Then came dessert, which was my favorite dish of the whole entire trip. We ordered a salted peanut and buttered caramel sundae, and holy sweet and salty, it was amazing. Divine. Heavenly, if you will. I can’t remember all the details since I was mostly sitting back with my eyes rolling in my head in ecstasy, but there were a lot of different temperatures and textures (there was even caramel popcorn on the plate) and it was all very, very good. I love any combination of sweet and salty and this dessert hit all my tongue’s happy spots.

For our final night in Paris, we decided to go to the highly recommended and oh so hard to get into, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It’s not really hard to get into, you just have to be very determined and patient to do so.

I mean, they do have two Michelin stars, and are listed as #14 on the World’s Best Restaurants list. And, more importantly, Running Buddy Amy ate there recently and declared it wonderful. So, that pretty much sealed the deal.

The only reservations they give out are at 6:30 and while we are Old-Country-Time-Buffeters and everything, we knew we didn’t want to eat that early. The other option is to just go and get on the list for one of the 44 seats.

 

We knew we were in for a wait, so we didn’t rush down there. I think we strolled up to the restaurant at around 8 pm. We were told we would be seated for dinner at 10 pm. We did what people do when they’re facing a long wait and went to a movie. I kid. We went to the lovely, dark-paneled hotel bar next door. Where I proceeded to eavesdrop on the conversations of everyone else in the hushed little room, and where there might have been a few too many drinks and not enough eating for this little Poe. I was a teensy bit tipsy by the time our 10 pm slot came and went. Another 40 minutes and multiple staff apologies later, we were finally seated at the cool, sushi-style bar. 

The staff were very, very nice and friendly, and spoke excellent English, which it turns out is very necessary since the entire menu was completely in French without even the slightest hints in English to suggest what anything was. We were completely overwhelmed. We could make out that there was a 7 course tasting menu, but decided we wanted to pick just a few things ala carte and share. But where to start?

Luckily, a California couple next to us had just been seated as well and had visited the restaurant numerous times. They helped guide us to a few of their favorites and we picked a few other dishes. But I can’t help but feel that without a complete understanding of all the choices, we might have missed out on some things we would have liked. For example, I’ve read in subsequent reviews about bone marrow, something that I know XFE would have really enjoyed. (Not me. It just seems so completely invasive. You can’t get much further into an animal than to suck on its marrow. Skeeves me out.) I don’t know that marrow was on the menu that night, but I would have liked to know.

We started with a special of sea bream carpaccio that was delicious – light, sparkling, perfectly seasoned. It was wonderful and went beautifully with our champagne.

I can’t quite remember the order of everything, but we also had L’Atelier’s version of macaroni, which came with foie gras and mushrooms on top of a single layer of penne – very rich and satisfying. Another pasta dish, a spaghetti carbonara with smoked Alsatian bacon and crème fraiche was out of this world. So good. And, unlike the other portions of everything, the carbonara was actually a pretty decent size.

And an eggplant dish that was good as well.

We also had baby lamb chops, that were teeny tiny, but cooked to pink perfection and served with the most amazing buttery mash potatoes I’ve ever tasted. They were like a puree of perfection. I could have eaten those all night. They were to die for. Deservedly famous.

For dessert, we had their chocolate heaven, which was delicious and had about five different tastes and textures, including cold, creamy, crunchy and gooey. It was satisfying, but not as showstopping as other deserts we’d had on the trip. L’Atelier also sent us on our way with some salted caramels, which was a very nice touch.

XFE thought the service at L’Atelier was a bit rushed, which it might have been, since we were literally among the last people seated and the place was closing as soon as we were out. The kitchen staff was cleaning the open, theater-like kitchen like a bunch of whirling dervishes while we were having dessert. But overall it was a very nice last meal in Paris.

Occupy Paris: Viva Le Canard!

I work in downtown DC, just a block or two over from K Street, which is where a lot of the lobbying shops are set up. So I’ve been running into some of these guys quite a bit, since they like to march over to K Street everyday around quitting time and yell at the lobbyists.

Down with the man!

I ran smack dab into them the other day on my way towards the metro to go home. They were, naturally, fighting the good fight against the man and capitalism and government and all that jazz, and well, I got inspired.

So I got on one of these fancy things today (only slightly larger):

(side note: I promise that I’m not currently acting like Whitney Houston. I say that for many reasons, but it’s particularly pertinent today:  she got in trouble for throwing a fit on a Delta flight and refusing to buckle her seatbelt. I, on the other hand, am ok with buckling my seatbelt. And the only ‘words’ I’ll be having with the crew are, “I’ll take another glass of champagne when you get a chance.”)

To go here:

And start my own Occupy Paris effort to educate others on the evils of the free market system. Speaking of free markets….I’ll be doing some stuff here…… 

BUT I’ll do it with a sneer of disdain of course, on behalf of my bro-testers back home. I’m really sticking it to the man in the U.S. by shopping in Paris. No American capitalists scumbags are making money off me this weekend. See?

And of course there will be a lot of this:

 

Oh man, my mouth is already watering…..Wait, I forgot what I was saying? Oh, that’s right, sticking it to the man. Well, actually I’m going to Paris tonight with my main man, XFE, sooooo since I’m not really one to bite the hand and all that……sorry, bro-testors. You’re on your own. Fight the power and all that.

Food Porn: America Eats Tavern

We are, to put it mildly, kinda hermit-like. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say we’re homebodies. We like to spend our time at home, with each other and Petunia – as sad as that sounds.

Our idea of a rocking good time on a Friday night is grilling some meat, cracking open a nice bottle of red and cleaning off the DVR or working our way through the pile of magazines we subscribe to.

To whit: we’ve lived in adorable Old Town for a year now, and I can count on one hand how many times we’ve walked over to King Street for dinner or even drinks. I honestly can’t remember the last time we went to a movie in a theater. It might have been Transformers II. I don’t know.

What I’m saying is: We’re happy little hermit crabs when we have nowhere to go.

However, last Saturday was an exception. We actually got dressed in nice clothes, left the house, and went to dinner. WITH people! But not just any people—two of our favorite people, Matt and Melissa. They’re pretty much the only folks that can get us out and into the wild city of Washington DC on a Saturday night.

We were all pretty excited because we had 7:30 dinner reservations at Jose Andres’ new pop-up concept restaurant, America Eats Tavern. Here’s a description from the website:

“America Eats offers a new take on American classics and celebrate native ingredients and some long forgotten dishes, from burgoo to oysters Rockefeller. With recipes and stories collected through extensive research, and with help from the National Archives and a culinary advisory council of chefs and scholars, the menu showcases the fascinating history of our nation one plate at a time, whether it’s the origins of New England clam chowder or the introduction of grapefruit to America.”

It’s a cool concept and a well-done space covering multiple floors (I think 3?) and featuring a very cool wood window frame and black and white photo centerpiece-mobile-chandelier installation running up through the staircase. Bad description. Here’s a picture:  

We got to the restaurant a bit early to get some drinks at the bar – and because we were ridiculously excited to be out and mingling with other people. At the bar, I had a Southside, which is gin, mint, and lemon, and let me tell you, it was, to quote Martyn Lawrence Bullard of Million Dollar Decorator’s fame, deeeelishous. And they were served in the most adorable green raised relief glasses. If my purse had been bigger, I would swiped a few.

It was a teensy bit dark in there.

Our table was a bit delayed. OK, more than a bit delayed. And the hostess really got our hopes up when she came over to seat us at the downstairs casual dining section, only to realize that we had reservations at the upstairs portion of the restaurant. Upon realizing her mistake, she had to send us back to the bar to keep waiting. And drinking delicious Southsides.

We were finally seated and raring to order. Because we had waited so long for our table, the hostess immediately sent over a bread basket and an order of hush puppies while we began reviewing the history tome that is the menu. I gotta say, as a history geek, I really liked the details and stories on the menu. And our waitress was very knowledgeable and helpful. However, I found it odd (and in the case of the oysters Rockefeller AND the chicken potpie, very disappointing) that a lot of the listed dishes were only available one or two nights a week.

We ordered a dozen oysters to start and they were great. They came with a couple of different types of infused vinegars, but no other sauces or accompaniments. We then ordered appetizers for the table – specifically the boneless buffalo wings and shrimp remoulade and fried green tomatoes. They were both so, so good, but teeny, teeny tiny. Definitely just one bite a piece. I really wish I hadn’t shared them with anyone.

Need about 10 more of these, please.

Things got a bit complicated from here. Two people ordered the she-crab soup, which we wanted after the appetizers, but the waiters delivering the soup were quite insistent that the soup was also an appetizer and should be served at the same time. We explained that we knew that, but we wanted it separately, perhaps even with the main courses. Mass confusion resulted. Much internal consultation amongst the staff and bewildered glances our way. They tried to deliver the soup to the table again, and were sent away again, hands heavy with soup while we finished our tiny appetizers. In defense of the odd timing, we had oysters as well, but no one tried to serve those at the same time as the appetizers. Weird.

XFE also saw a nearby table being served a dish of abalone, which we were initially told was not available. When we asked about the other table getting one, it was explained that they were friends of the chef and were doing a special tasting menu. But our waitress, who again, was very sweet, went back and brought one to our table, no charge, which I thought was more than a little nice. And, it was excellent. It was delicious and chewy and served with a pepper and smoke foam.

Our mains soon arrived. I had the lobster Newberg which was pretty much great. The sauce was to die for. Again, that sherry! Gotta love it.

Best thing of the night.

 M&M split the shrimp and pork jambalaya for two. The presentation was adorable – it was served out of a little cast iron pot. I had a few bites, but wasn’t too impressed with the flavors, in part because they put the trinity of celery, onion and bell pepper on the side (served cold), which to me, is just sacrilege. How you gonna make a roux without the trinity?? (In my best Cajun accent) Plus, there was no kick in it. Although the sausage was very good. XFE had a good-looking Cobb salad and a few bites of everybody elses’ mains.

We decided to split a couple of deserts—the real disappointment of the evening. We ordered a pineapple upside down cake (it was bad– very dry, the opposite of what a pineapple upside down cake should be) and a head-scratching New York cheesecake.

We had played with the idea of the key lime pie (deconstructed), but since I hate citrusy desserts, we abandoned that option. We were told that the New York cheesecake was very different than a regular cheesecake and we should expect a light fluffy filling with a hint of lemon, not the dense fillings we’re used to. Fine, I can deal with a hint of lemon, and I generally love cheesecake.

Well, the filling we got tasted suspiciously like key lime mousse. Not “hint of lemon,”—but straight up lime. As a citrus dessert hater, I know the difference and I can taste/distinguish the two a mile away. And comparing it to another table’s key lime pie, it was hard to see any physical difference between the two whipped fillings.

When we pointed it out to the waitress, she said that she had warned us it was different than what we’re used to. That was it. No offer to take it back to the kitchen and question it, or taste it, even.

We all suspect that the filling foam cans got mixed up and we did not at all have a cheesecake filling. As someone who hates key lime pie, I’m pretty certain that’s exactly what we got.

So all and all it was a good meal, foodwise, except the desserts, and some of the appetizer portion sizes. The service was pretty hit or miss, some really excellent moments (mmm, abalone), and some weird ones (complete dessert misfire). We won’t be making another trip to America Eats Tavern, however. We’ll try to come back when the new, expanded Minibar reopens. (By the way, how fun would it be to work for Jose Andres’ company, ThinkFoodTank? It’s a culinary think tank that where Andres and his creative team develop new ideas. Hello? Dream job? Me calling.)

All and all, the company really made the night. Any night with Matt and Melissa, and of course, XFE, is worth curling my eyelashes for.  

What about you dear readers? What gets you out of the house? Any good meals recently? I think we’re on a bit of a bad streak lately, what with Alinea and now America Eats – or maybe we’re just way too finicky and should keep our butts at home!