Archive for the 'kosher dining' Category



03
Feb
11

Yummy Grill


It may be small and unpretentious, but don’t let that fool you. This hidden jewel, Yummy Grill (543 Kings Highway – off East 4th; Brooklyn, NY; Tel: 718.375.7557), serves up delicious food featuring Cavcasian and Israeli cuisines.

A partial view...

Chef/Owner Eli Hizkiyahu graduated, as Chef, from Israel’s famed Tadmore Hotel School in Herzliya. He arrived on the American shores about 19 years ago and made a successful career using food as his canvass. From fashioning Tfillin out of watermelons, to birds about to take off in flight – out of fruits and vegetables, he’s done it all as he travelled the length and breadth of the US plying his trade of food decoration at numerous catered and private affairs. About 9 months ago, Chef Eli and his wife opened up their current venue.

My companion RN and I stopped by for lunch, recently. She started out with a Lamb Soup…

Lamb Soup

It was nicely presented, spicy and very savory; in fact, it could have served as a complete meal by itself. It contained a few lamb bones, slivers of lamb and rice. Excellent! She described it as perfect comfort food for a winter day.

I started with an Avocado Salad. I have never been a fan of avocado, but the taste of this one was exceptional. Colorful, nicely but subtly spiced, it contributed to change my mind about avocado.

We then shared a platter of Baby Lamb Chops

Baby Lamb Chops

They were tender, juicy and had a very attractive aroma; came with a side dish of mixed Grilled Vegetables, consisting mostly of mushrooms, onions and peppers grilled to perfection.

We followed with a plate of Baby Chicken Kebab…

Baby Chicken Kebab

Tender, juicy delicious, it also came with those superb Grilled Vegetables (we just couldn’t enough of them!). All was served us in whimsically shaped but practical china, a delight to the eye. I washed it down with an Israeli malt. RN finished her meal with a delightful Tea w/Nana (mint leaves), while I had a coffee.

Ample portions, superb flavors, and very reasonable prices… isn’t it time to visit Yummy Grill?

CS

01
Feb
11

Kosher Food & Wine Experience 2011 Discounts


The Kosher Food & Wine Experiences 2010 was very good, this year – with more restaurants and caterers exhibiting, with more Chefs demonstrating and answering questions, with more wines – it promises to be better!

As the Royal Wine Corporation‘s press release for this event states:

As always, the star of the show is the food and wine on offer. This year over 300 wines from all over the world will be available from wineries including Herzog, Yatir, Castel, Capcanes, Elvi, Goose Bay and more! In addition, Royal Wine will be launching some new wines at KFWE2011 including the Herzog Special Edition Chalk Hill Warnecke Vineyard 2008, the Oak Knoll Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and a new line of Gamla Reserves. Additionally, the wines of Alexander Winery in Israel will be making their debut in the United States market.

Guests will also be able to taste delicious food from some of the top rated kosher restaurants and caterers in the Tri-State area. “This is an opportunity to try some exceptional wines and great food, we don’t hold anything back,” said Mr. Landsman, “KFWE is our gift to our customers. We want to give people a chance to try the wines they are hesitant to buy, the special occasion wines they read about or see in the store.” Another benefit of this event is its proximity to Passover, giving people the opportunity to trywines that they would like to feature at their Seders.

A notable addition to the event this year will be the attendance of celebrity cookbook authors/food personalities Joan Nathan, Jamie Geller, Suzy Fishbein, Lévana Kirschenbaum and Jeff Nathan who will all be available to discuss food and wine pairing and their newest books.

KFWE 2011 will take place on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 6:30pm at Pier 60 – Chelsea Piers, NYC. For more information on the 2011 Kosher Food & Wine Experience or to order tickets, please visit: www.kfwe2011.com .

Don’t forget to enter KSCENE10, as your discount code, when you buy your ticket(s). Hope to see you there, gentle reader!

CS

13
Dec
10

Cornish Hen Recipe


I always liked Cornish hens, since their small size usually provides about one portion of meat per hen, it’s easy to figure out how many to use for a family, or if you are entertaining. It usually weighs 2 pounds or less AND is almost all white meat because of its enlarged breast. I also find every excuse I can to cook with wine so today I’ll share my Cornish Hen recipe (my kids’ favorite, when they still lived at home at the time I’d use 7, instead of 2, hens).

Cornish hen, a miniature hen. Photo from: Wikipedia.com

CS’ Wine, Orange and Herb Cornish Hens

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 Cornish hens

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Elephant garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup of dry wine
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large orange

Herbs

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1/4 stick margarine
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or Natrazyle Xylitol
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Quarter the hens and place the pieces in a 9″ x 13″ baking tin
  2. In a blender combine all the marinade ingredients until thoroughly blended.
  3. Pour in over the hens, cover with plastic and marinade in fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
  4. After chicken has been marinated, combine the herb ingredients in a blender (or prepare ahead and store in a Ziploc bag) until thoroughly mixed.
  5. When done add salt to taste.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  7. Take marinated hens out and keep out of refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Put hen pieces in a single layer (with the skin on top) in a roasting pan.
  9. Sprinkle herb mixture over the pieces
  10. Roast for 10 minutes
  11. Reduce heat to 350 F, and continue roasting for 15-20 minutes or until the juices run clear. Don’t forget to baste thoroughly at least a couple of times.
  12. Remove from oven, you may want to garnish pieces with fresh parsley leaves and serve.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!

CS

Wine, Orange and Herbs Cornish Hens (Kosher)

02
Dec
10

Natural Village Cafe


Warm, welcoming, classy, delicious… these four words give us a faint idea of my impressions of Natural Village Cafe (2 Avenue I – across from Shoprite Supermarket – Brooklyn, NY 11218; Tel: 347.492.5337 or 347. 417.6424). The restaurant is cholov Yisroel and pas Yisroel, with a mashgiach temidi and under the certification of Harav Meir Goldberg of the Va’ad Hakashrus d’Flatbush.

Upscale atmosphere, organic fare, beautiful and healthy in every possible way...

Nina Shapir, who presides over this eatery is truly a fascinating personality, the personal journey that changed her life and motivated her to open this establishment is full of commitment and dedication.

Fourteen years ago, Mrs. Shapir – a very young mother of three – found herself sick and unable to move, unable to cope. It was not a question of being financially overwhelmed, any such concerns were well taken care of. Medical tests and treatments produced no positive results, on the contrary things inexplicably kept getting worse. She met Harav Chay Azoulay, from Herzliya, who told her the real malady was not physical but rather one that affected her neshama. After some thought, trying to make sense of Rav Azulay’s words, she went on a detox diet with the help of healthfood stores, intent on ridding herself of all negative energies. This decision was followed by six very hard weeks before she saw any measurable improvements but soon after she was her old active, curious, intelligent, enterprising self again.

At this stage, Nina decided to help others who, though similarly afflicted, may not be aware of the real source of their health troubles. She went on to study Healing Arts at The School of Natural Healing in Utah from which she graduated. Seven years ago her first organic restaurant opened its doors. Her partner, however, was not frum and it proved frustrating eventually Nina bought her out. In 2008 she moved to the present location which combines her personal philosophy, her exquisite sense of aesthetics and the true love of a foodie for superb fare. She also has an an office adjacent to the restaurant where she treats the many in search of natural healing.

The restaurant sports geometric patterns on its walls and ceiling, with warm earth tones that give us a clue to the owner’s style and personality. Chef Bobby Brabaloni is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America – America’s foremost Culinary School – a fact which becomes obvious when you see the presentation, smell the aromas and taste the wonderful flavors.

My companion and I started our early dinner with a dish of Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

It consists of white mushrooms with sauteed onions, creamy pesto sauce, melted mozzarella and feta cheeses with a kick of chopped parsley. It was a perfect opener to a memorable meal.

We segued with their Village Pizza

Village Pizza

It came in a sesame crust, red onions, mushrooms, two types of mozzarella cheese and their very own red sauce. I know pizza, I’m a pizza addict and I must confess this one ranks among my favorites. My companion also found it delicious.

Next we had their Salmon Salad…

Salmon Salad

A superbly tasting salad fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grilled salmon, pan sauteed red inions, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms with a subtle teriyaki sauce. A fitting crown to our meal!

Wholesome food, warm ambience, reasonable prices, a nice bakery on premises… I know I’ll be back again and again.

CS

Natural Village Cafe on Urbanspoon

15
Nov
10

Pardes Restaurant


Pardes Restaurant‘s Chef/Owner, Moshe Wendel, opened this new eatery on October the 24th (497 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11217; Tel: 718.797.3880), barely three weeks ago. Chef Moshe’s culinary talents and passion for food, along with the friendly enthusiasm of his tight-knit staff result in a successful venture. Through the years, he carefully and methodically honed his skills. Starting out as a dishwasher at age 16, he climbed through the ranks through various prestigious establishments such as Philadelphia’s celebrated Django restaurant. Moshe and his wife Shana became ba’alei tshuvah, and rushed back east to cook for Mosaica and Mike’s Bistro. He opened Basil as Executive Chef, stayed there for a short while, and is now fulfilling his own dream of owning a top kosher restaurant.

Small, warm, very welcoming

Moshe had a clear vision for Pardes. Located in an area filled with art galleries, bookstores, fashion shops and assorted eateries featuring every kind of cuisine, Pardes became an extension of the chic, upscale, urban cool mix. My companion (SYR could not make it this time) and I got there at around 3:00pm,  Lunch to Dinner transition time…

I ordered the Home Made Bouquerones [house cured white anchovies], with Red Pepper, Caper Berries, Arugula, Lemon Dressing.

Home Made Bouquerones with Arugula

With a hint of spiciness and ample richness of flavor, the well appointed dish was a perfect intro to the rest of the meal.

My companion chose the Tuna Crudo, with Porcini Popcorn,  Arugula and Corn Coulis. She found it beautiful to look at and extremely flavorful.

Nile Perch, Poached in Hazelnut Garlic Broth, “Risotto” of White Asparagus, Granny Smith Salad was my next choice. Again… the unusual mix of seasonal flavors were refreshing & delightful! My companion opted for the Saffron Linguine, Mojama, Almonds & Chiles. A spicey delectable mix of flavors, nicely presented.

Next we both had their Spicey-Smokey Chicken “Wings”, Red Pepper Saffron Vinaigrette, Tomato salad with Herbs, Preserved Lemon, Green olive and Jalapeno…

Close-up of one of the Spicy-Smoked Chicken "Wings" With red Pepper-Saffron Vinaigrette

Check this out!  A real treat for the taste buds!  We were instructed to place the meat into our mouths and then press the spice filled pipette releasing the wonderful burst of flavours… Pretty outrageous!

For the mains we shared both the Pizza of Beef Tongue Confi, With 24 Hour Roasted Tomato and Fresh Basil….

Pizza Beef Tongue Confi

…and the Short Ribs & Broccoli Rabe Lasagne.  The meat Pizza tasted sinfully delicious; the thin crust and beef tongue confi made the cheese topped pizzas, I’m used to, almost irrelevant. The Short Ribs Lasagne, was unusually tasty but had a rather limp presentation compared to the other dishes we sampled.

For dessert, we had the (“Manna” Bee Pollen Dusted Angel Food, Quince, Honey Ice Cream, Sugared Almonds and Olive Oil Cake, Chocolate Flan, Espresso Flavored Marron Glaces) all quite tasty – even gifted – although presentation was lack-luster. All in all, we were treated to an outstanding meal and each of us gave it two big thumbs up! In a lesser restaurant we might even have praised the minor negatives we encountered here.

Next time I’ll order from their ample beer selection, as well.

I was very gratified to see our favorite Chef, Lévana, shares our overall view after going to Pardes the evening after we did.

CS
Pardes Restaurant on Urbanspoon

29
Aug
10

Fish N’ Chips


[Eran Elhalal, regales us yet again with one of his delicious recipes. SYR tested it last night and loved it. CS]

Comfort food is what it’s all about! What is comfort food, you ask? It’s fun food, heart-warming food, food that brings memories of warmth, memories of times past. Interestingly enough most comfort food stems from poverty. Creations relying on inexpensive cuts of meat/fish, and the cheapest ingredients available. There are countless examples: American Soul food,Mac&Cheese, Meatloaf, Rice & Refried beans (also Latin Americas’ protein supplement), Hummus & Fava Beans (the North African protein supplement), Pasta,etc.

Every country has its own array of comfort food, Fish N’ Chips are The British Empires’ greatest contribution to the culinary world! Well… that may be debatable, but it’s definitely the food for which English cuisine is most famous. It became popular in South-East England and London in the early 1800’s. They were even referenced in Charles Dickens’, “Oliver Twist” (published 1838). The first recorded Fish N’ Chip shop was opened between 1860-1865 by one Joseph Malin in London. Selling for Nine Pence in the 1800’s, it soon became the quintessential poor man’s food.

Trawling (pulling nets through the water behind the ship), which became the main fishing method in 19th century England, made fish abundant and thus inexpensive. Along with the fact that potatoes could be farmed on almost any soil and could survive the British Isles’ harsh winter, fish and potatoes became the perfect choice for the hungry working class.

Fish N’ Chips shops and carts are still the main British working stiff’s lunch or traditional Friday night dinner.

Traditionally served wrapped in newspaper, the fish is beer battered and deep fried with the fries. It is then drizzled with malt vinegar or onion vinegar (the vinegar used for pickling onions). Classically a Cod family fish is used (Cod, Haddock, Pollock, Hake), these are lean white flesh fish that are found in great numbers in the Atlantic Ocean.

I developed this recipe while doing my very first stint as Chef, at UnWined, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side:

Photo from: SugarMama Baking Company blog

Fish N’ Chips

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

3 lbs Cod fillets cut to 2 oz pieces
salt & white pepper to taste
oil for frying (for best results use peanut oil – it has the highest smoking point)
2
lemons cut to wedges

Batter:

2 cups flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tsp oil
1 bottle (12 fl oz) beer – (I use toasted lager!)
2 egg whites whipped to soft peaks
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Chips:

3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut to battonettes (1/2 inch wide finger shaped)
cold water to cover fries (keeps potatoes from oxidizing and maintains crispness)

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and let stand until fully dissolved.
  2. Mix flour, salt and sugar and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, oil and beer and stir to combine only. Gently fold in the egg whites.
  3. Let stand for 1/2 hour until the batter becomes frothy.
  4. Pat the fish fillets and season.
  5. Heat frying oil to 350 degrees F. Drain well and fry potatoes, only to cook through – no color! Fry in batches! Set aside.
  6. Reheat the oil to 400 degrees F (the cold batter will make the oil temp drop initially).
  7. Dip the fish in the batter and fry. Add the fries for the last 2 minutes to color and crisp up.
  8. Toss the fries in a mixing bowl with salt.
  9. Serve with malt vinegar and lemon wedges .

Enjoy it folks, enjoy!

Eran Elhalal

05
Jul
10

Saddle-up for Some Fine Fixins’ at Smokey Joe’s!


You don’t have to be a Texas long-horn to enjoy this round-up of superbly smoked and southern rustic Tex Mex cuisine at Smokey Joe’s (494 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Telephone: 201.836.7427).  Décor is sun-burnt orange against ranch-rawhide woodsy panels; Marlboro manly man and stallion photos adorning the walls. Brown butcher block paper covers tables set with colorful southwestern china (don’t forget to ask Joe for doodling crayons).

A partial view of the dining area

Joe, the owner, looked for a unique niche in the market and not only found one, but honed it like an art form till it yielded a product that fills the house on a regular basis. Joe, or Yossi to his chevra, told us “Food is life; food is kodesh.” “It’s about craft and high quality. You’ve got to give it the time and attention it takes to develop.” And indeed Joe has done so. His 74” smoker (which he lovingly dubbed Dimona-2) is the nucleus of his operation, but just as important is his approach to food and business. “You’re not producing a widget or stereo; my personal commitment to making great food is a life-time journey!” “It’s also about having a good sense of hospitality when Jews come calling at your restaurant. It’s a little different than the hachnassas orchim (welcoming guests) we do at home.” Joe certainly shared that hospitality with us.

...it was hard to keep myself from reaching into that smoker... I confess...

Joe served up vittles Stephen J. Austin or Sam Houston would raise armies to fight for! The table started to fill up with outstanding home made cornbread with onion jam spread (you got to taste ‘em together to understand how awesome those flavors are together), refreshing iced tea and fresh squeezed lemon-ade and home made. Still warm tortilla chip (seriously, dangerously, addictive!) with freshly made guacamole for starters.

We were then treated to an assortment of Smokey Joe’s favorites. The Joe Dawg, the lamb merguez sausages, were marvelous; superbly smoked and flavored.

Lamb Merguez Joe Dawg

They’ve got six types to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding which to try…

We then demolished their Beef Brisket (well… really… CS did, he kindly let me have one forkful before it was gone!) – smoked for up to 14 hours. The smoked taste did not overpower the brisket taste which was rich, marvelous. In a very uncharacteristic (well you saw the pictures of those ribs, how can you blame me?) uninhibited Flinstonian way, I dug into their long ribs which had been basted in a secret BBQ rub and smoked for around 5 hours in Dimona-2. (Surely, not first date action, unless you want to provide an instant inhibitions dissolver, right from the get-go) They were meaty, packed with flavor and delicious. I literally felt the spices coming through my pores. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite smoked entrée was the chicken.

Brisket, Grilled Chicken and Sweet Potato... mmm, mmm!

I just loved the way the subtle smokey flavor worked its way into the soft flesh of the chicken resulting in a fabulous taste. We had no room for their burgers and chocolate mole sauce, which we heard are outstanding. We’ll have to come back and try those as well as some of their other popular dishes.

A great homey place to come with family and friends to chill an’ enjoy southern smokin’ Jewish hospitality.

SYR

Smokey Joe's on Urbanspoon

10
Jun
10

La Carne Grill


Enticed by the glowing review this restaurant garnered in 2007 in The Jewish Press, a 2007 mention in The New York Blueprint, a nice review and slide show in New York Magazine and quite a few others – along the same vein – we couldn’t wait to try Eddie Allaham’s eatery. Knowing Eddie was one of the original owners and the creator of Prime Grill’s concept, made our mouths water in anticipation of visiting La Carne Grill (340 Lexington Ave; New York, NY 10016; 212.490.7172). Daniel Ronay (whom readers of our blog have met before, came along this time in place of SYR who couldn’t make it).

The main dining area...

Daniel started the meal with Crispy Sweatbreads, they came with an olive tapenade and mustard aoili. He described them as nicely crispy and flavorful without being overpowering.

I opted for the Garlic Baby Artichokes, which consists of sauteed baby artichoke, drizzled with sweet garlic sauce.

Garlic Baby Artichokes

I am a potato lover and had I eaten these blindfolded, I would have thought – based merely on the taste – that I was savoring some very buttery potatoes… superbly done!

We each followed the appetizer with a sushi rolls (who would have believed, less than six month ago, that I would EVER touch fish based sushi?!?!?).

Daniel had the Red Dragon Roll, a spicy tuna roll with wonton crisps on top. He liked the nice contrast between the roll texture and the chipped wonton crisps. Though it came in a nicely sized portion, Danny said he could continue eating more and more of it.

I had the colorful Rainbow Roll, a california roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and white fish. An artistically presented dish, did not taste fishy at all, a wonderful amalgam where each ingredient was subtle enough to allow the others to shine through to create a wonderful, perfect, combination of flavors. We each washed it down with a delightful 2007 Herzog Chardonnay.

For the main dish, he continued to a delicious Beef Wellington. It came with a grilled filet mignon with asparagus, garlic demi sauce and mushroom duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry.

Beef Wellington

While he’s not normally a fan of Beef Wellington, he felt he would order this particular version again. He found the meat tender, juicy, perfectly cooked with a nice shade of of light pink in the center. What made it so different was the delicate sauce of ground mushrooms with a touch of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Daniel couldn’t stop raving about it!

I ordered a Filet Mignon, which came with a black trumpet (mushrooms) brandy cream sauce  (delicious!!!!) and French fries. Tender and juicy, superbly cooked to medium state. I paired it with a 2006 Benyamina The Cave. This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aged in a three hundred year old cave in the heart of the Carmel mountains and the Filet… ah, a marriage made in heaven!

We finished this royal repast with an excellent pareve capuccino and a Blueberry Cheesecake

.

Delicious pareve cheesecake

It was hard to believe, there was no real cheese inside. Delicate but full of flavor, even without the blueberry it would still have been outstanding.

We were pleased to see that La Carne Grill does not rest on its past laurels, Chef Angel Ramirez and his stuff worked hard to produce their very best still. There is no question I must bring SYR soon, I know she’ll love it!

CS

La Carne Grill on Urbanspoon

09
Jun
10

Tiberias


Comfortable, relaxed, upscale, delicious… Those words barely describe this brand new eatery in Midtown Manhattan. Tiberias (45 East 34th Street; NY, NY 10016; Tel: 212.481.4222). is under OK supervision, its fare is cholov Yisroel dairy. SYR and I went there yesterday at mid afternoon, less than a week after it opened. It may be brand new but, the two Steinhart brothers have been working in and managing restaurants for the last five years, in spite of their very young ages. This is the realization of their dream, a dream of having a unique restaurant with something different than the standard offerings. If this is how they started, it will not just be a dream!

A partial view of Tiberias Restaurant

SYR started the meal with the Stuffed Mushrooms, stuffed  with fresh vegetables topped with mozzarella and doused in cream sauce.

5 button mushrooms, stuffed with vegetables, topped with mozarella, doused in cream sauce.

She found it very flavorful, each ingredient combined for a delicious, perfect, appetizer.

I had the Gravalax. Homemade smoked salmon with potato crustini and cucumber salad with dill and mustard,  subtly flavored and very good to the palate.

We then shared the Special of the Day, Pasta del Sol. It consisted of penne with cream sauce and cherry tomato culis, topped with a nicely sized grilled Atlantic salmon.

Considering it was a hot, humid day SYR accompanied the meal with a Lime & Srawberry Smoothie, made from freshly squeezed lime juice, a bit of lemon zest,  fresh strawberries and crushed ice. It looked great and tasted even better. I had the Coffee Slim Shake (it’s sugar free, but you wouldn’t believe it from that great taste!), it came with ice cream, skim milk and was topped with cocoa powder. On the table next to us, a young lady was feasting on an interesting looking Affogato de Gelato, her expression told us it must have tasted heavenly. She explained to us that she’s enjoyed it here before, it consists of a large scoop of sugar free vanilla ice cream, in a boiling shot of espresso served in a martini glass…

We ended the meal with their Jack Daniels Cheese Cake, this is a Mozart type cheese cake with 2% percent of Jack Daniels whiskey. It tasted superb  and looked great, served with three ice cream scoops, some whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Jack Daniels Cheese Cake

SYR had a Torino Hot Chocolate, gourmet hot chocolate with a partially submerged milk chocolate bar… buonissimo, ottimo!!! I had their Cappuccino, an espresso with steamed milk topped with foam, made from Italy’s famed Danesi Gold Beans…. subtly sweet with a pinch of brown sugar, artistically presented.

Tiberias Cappuccino

A great experience in a brand new eatery with a nice ambiance; as SYR puts it, NO-GUILT DELISH! This definitely calls for an encore…

CS

03
Jun
10

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar


At the edge of Crown Height’s Jewish neighborhood, we walked through the tall glass paned doors of Basil Pizza and Wine Bar (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777). We were greeted by the lovely homey smells coming from their large wood oven, clearly center staged by design, partnered with an open bar and cooking area. Soft relaxing Latin music permeated a high vaulted room adorned with 13 honey jar shaped glass lanterns hanging at variegated heights back-dropped by a glass fronted honey comb wine casement.  Marble top tables and dark rustic wooden chairs filled the room commodiously, seating 45 comfortably.

Partial view of Basil. Clara Perez, the Manager, taking a breather in one of those rare low traffic moments.

The pizza and wine bar opened its doors in late February of this year. Just a few months in, with an extensive gourmet dairy menu created by his predecessor, Chef Adam  (who started his culinary training in Italy’s Costa D’Amalfi – then the restaurant’s sous-chef – was suddenly asked to take the helm as chef de cuisine.  Like the young Luciano Pavoratti in February 1965 – who was asked to replace the regular tenor – in an evening’s fateful  performance (Donizzetti’s Lucia de Lamermoor) at the Greater Miami Opera, young Chef Adam stepped up to the plate prevailing successfully without missing a single high note apparently, for he served up dish after dish of consistently delicious Basil favorites.

We began this, our latest restaurant adventure, with their Wild Mushroom Pizza made with Goat Cheese, Mozzarella and Truffle Oil, we took a side dish of their signature Basil Fries, sprinkled with Fresh Parmesan aside a  Garlic-Truffle Mayo Dip- clearly – not for the faint hearted.  Both were delicious.  The thin crusted pizza dough (made with imported Italian flour) was terrific, as were the wild mushrooms and goat cheese topping. CS predictably downed a respectable number of fries, loving the crispy strips dipped in truffle mayo. We both opted for Tishbi’s Chenin Blanc to accompany our meal. It was perfect for the table fare and the balmy summer afternoon. I had a respectable Arugula and Beets Salad topped with medallions of warm goat cheese sprinkled with pine nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.

CS, gnocchi Gnostic that he is, couldn’t help but devour the Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin rich with Tomatoes, Spinach and Parmesan Bread Crumbs. He found it flavorful, authentic Italian Campagna, done to perfection! We sampled three more mains; spinach ricotta dumplings, striped bass, and a saffron risotto.  I went for their Striped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream. Presentation was outstanding as you can see from the pictures below (we had a very, very tough time settling on only three photos of the dishes!).  The charred fennel was set like a sail atop a perfectly cooked striped bass a sea in a gustable green pea risotto. The Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Melted Mozzarella were ambrosial- especially with the enfolded Tomatoes  Roasted for 24 hours in Balsamic Vinegar, fennel seeds and just the right touch of chili flakes. Basil buys mozzarella curd and stretches it on location, enhancing the flavor that much more.  The Saffron Risotto with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, was quite aromatic. The forest mushrooms and white asparagus were savory & toothsome, though at this point we were quite full.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin

Stiped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream

Saffron Risotto, with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan

We’ll have to come back and meet their pastry chef, Ehud Ezra; word on the street is that he is an amazing talent.  A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, he trained at Oceana in Manhattan and was Pastry Chef for several years at Whole Foods (among other prestigious establishments), before coming to Basil, we tasted his Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake served with Turkish Fig Puree and Melon. He’s there at 5:00 am preparing his croissants and other pastries, opening for breakfast service at 7:30 am. Chef Adam also treated us to a tasting of his home-made colorful Sorbet Trio and Basil Ice Cream (made from basil, you read it right!). Yummmm!

Sitting on the cusp of this Lubavitch neighborhood, Basil stands at the edge of new cuisine and ambiance territory.  The reluctant humble yet flight worthy fledgling chef and his team run a successful operation with the help of their warm friendly manager Clara Perez, whose respect and reverie for the Lubavitch community is admirable. The convergence of crossed cultures amongst their staff and the harmonious blend of clientele dining together with Basil’s good food its nucleus, is nothing short of chevlei mashiach amazing. The obstacles were many; it shouldn’t work but it does, remarkably so! Some places are just plain blessed that way.

SYR

Basil on Urbanspoon




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