Crispy Oven Baked Beet Chips

>>  Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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I have an awful weakness when it comes to a certain snack.

Chips.

I just can't say no to them.

Typically, I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to steering myself away from unhealthy food. I never, ever get any sort of candy bar from the vending machine at work. If there's leftover cake in the kitchen area  - no matter how delectable it looks - I won't be tempted by it. I can easily stay away from chocolate, and in general, most sweets.

But there's something about chips that I just can't resist. It's the fact that it's almost healthy. After all, it comes from a vegetable, right? You could argue it's not as processed as any of those cakes and cookies.
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And for some reason, in the late afternoon when I'm starting to get just a little hungry (or "peckish" as my British colleagues would say), I always want chips.

I want something savory, something that feels like it could actually stave off those hunger pangs for just a few more hours. Plus, I just love chips for that satisfying crunch.

A few years ago, I was thrilled to discover you could make chips out of almost anything (a sneaky way to pack in those nutrients!). One of my favorites (and something I still make on a regular basis), is oven baked kale chips. I also tried baking all sorts of other chips in the oven, like taro chips, sweet potato chips, and even sunchoke chips.
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Last week, I got my first shipment of these beautiful beets from my CSA with Siena Farms. As I was pondering how to use up the beets before the weekend (since I was leaving on a short trip), it dawned on me to try making chips out of these as well.

Oh my goodness, they were fantastic.

Even Bryan approved, and couldn't stop eating them at dinner. In fact we ended up polishing off the entire batch of chips (uhh, I guess that means we ate 10 beets between us (!))._DSC8080.jpg

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Ivan Ramen (Gotham West Market, New York City)

>>  Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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This is the fourth post in the Quick Spring Weekend to New York series. Other posts in this series include Le Bernardin, Lunch Tasting MenuBoulud Sud, and A Voce Columbus.

I've been curious about trying Ivan Ramen for ages.

Though it only recently opened in the US, Ivan Ramen has been in Tokyo since 2007. I read about it a lot while doing research for my various Tokyo trips. What's funny is, the chef-owner of this crazy popular ramen place in Tokyo is actually a Jewish guy from Long Island who got into ramen "on a whim."

Ivan Orkin moved to Japan to teach English after graduating from college. While there, he met and married a Japanese woman. They moved back to the US so Ivan could study at the Culinary Institute of America. They had a child, and his home life became full of Japanese culture. He spoke the language at home. He watched Japanese TV shows.

Tragedy struck when his wife miscarried their second child and suddenly passed away soon after.

Distraught, Ivan felt that he had lost everything.

Years later, on one of his extended trips to Japan, he met and fell in love with another Japanese woman.
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They got married and settled in Japan. Ivan, living out a normal life as a stay-at-home-dad, started to get restless. He began experimenting with ramen, taking a crash course and then teaching himself the rest.

He opened his first restaurant in 2007.

It became a hit in Japan, with long lines of hungry Japanese people willing to wait hours to try his rule-breaking, unconventional interpretation of ramen (think flavors like "four cheese ramen" or a soy milk based dipping broth). It was shocking that a foreigner, gaijin, could pierce and conquer Japan's obsession with ramen.

After opening up several successful locations in Japan, Ivan decided to move back to the US in 2012, partly to be closer to family, but also to challenge himself to open up his restaurant in New York, his home.

Lucky for us, that means we no longer have to fly across the globe to get a taste of this famous ramen that has taken Tokyo by storm.

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Sushi Yoshitake (Tokyo, Michelin 3 Stars) - best dish I've ever had

>>  Friday, July 18, 2014

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This the second addendum post to the Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka series. Other posts in this series include the intro post: Tokyo, Kyoto, and OsakaMatsugen (soba), Sushi IwaRamen Honda (Tokyo Ramen Street)RyuginOmen (udon), Shouraian (tofu), Dotonbori in Osaka (street food), Taian (3-star Michelin), and Sushi Sho/Shou (Chef Keiji Nakazawa), Nakamura (3 star Michelin kaiseki), and Sushi Taku (2 star Michelin)

Bring bring . .  .

It was close to noon and I was in my office typing furiously away at the computer. The caller ID said it was Bryan.

It's not unusual for us to chat during this odd time when he's away on a business trip in Asia. Tokyo is exactly 12 hours apart from Boston, which means he was probably about to go to bed. It's lunchtime here, so the timing actually works out pretty well.
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Bryan had just gotten back from his dinner at Sushi Yoshitake, a newly-ish minted (as of 2012) three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo. He couldn't stop raving about it.

 "I just got back from dinner. It was really good. I think you'd like it. It wasn't just sushi. They had creative preparations - like what you'd see in a high-end French restaurant - for several of the dishes. They had this abalone liver dish that was amazing. It's the best dish I've ever had in my life."
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Let's pause a moment here.

Did he just say the best dish in his life?!

This is the same person who's dined at some of the finest restaurants in the world, like Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, not to mention countless other award-winning restaurants through his business trips and travels.

He couldn't stop talking about this abalone dish (and trust me, he usually doesn't talk a lot). It was like other-worldly, or what my friend Peter would call "transcendent." Perfection in so many different ways.

best dish ever . . .

"We really have to go back to Japan so I can take you there."

awwwww . . .

Anyway, enough about my conversation with Bryan. Let's learn more about this incredible meal of a lifetime.

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A Voce Columbus (New York)

>>  Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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This is the third post in the Quick Spring Weekend to New York series. Other posts in this series include Le Bernardin, Lunch Tasting Menu and Boulud Sud.

It's been years since I've had a proper dinner in the Time Warner Building in New York.

It's not as if I don't visit. I go to the Time Warner Building almost every time I'm in New York. How can I resist not stopping by - even if it involves riding that escalator up three floors to Bouchon Bakery where I can pick up my favorite cookies and get some treats to take home for friends?

But a proper dinner? That's a bit challenging.

After all, there aren't that many restaurants in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. The few that are there are not the types of places you visit that frequently.

Take Thomas Keller's three Michelin starred Per Se, for example, where the chef's tasting will run you $310 per person (and that's not including wine, tip, or tax). Or Masa, another three Michelin starred restaurant where the price for dinner is $450, the most expensive tasting menu in the country.

In recent years, several more accessible places have opened up inside this shopping center, including a steakhouse, a brasserie, and A Voce Columbus, the second location of a popular Italian restaurant that originally opened in Madison Square Garden.
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A Voce Columbus opened in 2009 with executive chef Missy Robbins from Spiagga in Chicago at the helm. In October 2013, Filippo Gozolli, the Italian chef that opened Sirio, took over as executive chef. The restaurant boasts one Michelin Star and is located on the third floor of the Time Warner Building.

Some have compared A Voce with the likes of Babbo, Marea, and Del Posto, which are some of our favorite Italian restaurants in New York.

Because our dinners this particular New York trip were already tied up with work or family events, we were in the unusual situation where we only had lunchtime free to try new restaurants in New York.

Our first lunch was at an old favorite, Le Bernardin, which was (as always) phenomenal. Boulud Sud was a delicious lunch we had with friends. We chose A Voce Columbus for our third (and final) lunch of the trip.

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La Toque (Westin Verasa Napa)

>>  Thursday, July 10, 2014

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This is the seventh and final post in the Quick Weekend Getaway to Napa / Sonoma Series. Other posts in this series include: Benzinger Family WineryJack London State ParkMayo Family WineryCrisp Bake Shop, Napa Wine Train, and The Red Grape.

It had gone by way too fast.

As soon as it began, it felt like our weekend getaway to Napa/Sonoma was coming to an end. It had been a nice break - right in the middle of chilly April - to get away to somewhere a little warmer and enjoy gorgeous scenery, great wines, and tons of amazing food.

We stayed at the Westin Verasa right in the heart of the city of Napa. It was a great location. We were within walking distance of the Oxbow Public Market, downtown Napa, and the Napa Wine Train. The hotel itself was lovely, with well appointed, generously sized rooms and nice luxurious finishes.
_DSC7080The best part was at the first floor of the hotel, where Chef Ken Frank's award winning Michelin starred restaurant, La Toque, was located.

On our last night in Napa, after lots of driving around (in a convertible, no less!) and visiting all sorts of places, we were ready to sit down, enjoy a nice relaxing meal, and go to bed. Spending our final night at La Toque worked out perfectly. We able to just relax and enjoy a really nice dinner (and wine!) after a long day. Better yet, we didn't have to worry about driving home afterwards. We could turn in earlier, which was invaluable because we had an early flight out from San Franscisco the following morning.

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you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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