Cooking Class with Will Gilson + Giveaway!

>>  Monday, October 31, 2011

Will Gilson
It's been almost half a year since that fateful day when Will Gilson announced he was leaving Garden at the Cellar. I remember the shock, the sadness, and hopelessness I felt when I found out the terrifying news.

What to do now? Garden at the Cellar was our go-to place, our neighborhood restaurant less than a 3-minute walk from our home. Where would Will go?

Well, for those of you who have been following Will's whereabouts, you know that he spent the summer at a pop-up restaurant inside of Adrian's Restaurant in Truro, MA (near Provincetown at the Cape). But summer was far from over.

Where has Will been since then?

Just a few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to attend a cooking class with Will Gilson. It didn't take me long to reply "yes please!"

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ATASK Silk Road Gala 2011

ATASK SIlk Road Gala

Food, philanthropy, and fun
Imagine an event where Jody Adams, Ming Tsai, Jamie Bissonnette, (among others) are cooking and competing for your vote. Not only that, there are desserts by Joanne Chang (of Flour fame) and hors d'oeuvres from Patricia Yeo (Ginger Park, Om) . . .

Once a year, the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) holds the Silk Road Gala, an extraordinary event to benefit a very important cause. ATASK provides emergency shelter, counseling, legal assistance, and education programs to help Asian victims of domestic violence. The gala is so important because it's one of their biggest fundraisers for the year, providing much needed support for all the work that goes on at ATASK year-round.

This year's Silk Road Gala featured a cooking showdown between many of Boston's most beloved chefs. Hungry guests hopped from station to station sampling each chef's creation, voting at the end of the night for their favorite. Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger) and Janet Wu (Channel 7) hosted the event.

Mayor Menino, a strong supporter of ATASK, also came and helped Ming Tsai auction off a few things, including a chance to help Ming Tsai cook his dish "Red Roast Duck" on stage, as well as a chance to eat the final product!

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Autumn Inspirations

>>  Thursday, October 27, 2011

I love autumn in Boston.

The air becomes crisp, the sun still shines brightly, and  . . . the trees! The trees reveal their glorious hues as a last hurrah before they become bare for the winter.

With this cold weather comes the desire for roasted pumpkins, hearty soups, and apple pies! 

I'm still getting used to my new place. Our old place was on the fifth floor of a large elevator building, and therefore was quite warm and insulated. We usually didn't turn on the heat until January! My new place has a ton of windows (a good thing in general!), which unfortunately also translates to a lot of heat loss. As a result, I've been bundling up at home, drinking lots of hot tea, and cooking warm, hearty meals.

I seriously need to get that chimney cleaned so I can use the fireplace!

Anyway, I've gathered a bunch of my favorite autumn-inspired recipes here. Please explore, and enjoy! (you can click on the photo to get the recipe)

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Joel Robuchon (Menu Degustation)

>>  Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"There is no such thing as the perfect meal. You can always do better."

It's this perfectionist attitude that has made Joel Robuchon the success that he is today.

Joel Robuchon makes magic happen. There's a reason why this guy has amassed more Michelin stars (26!) than any other chef in the world. He has won countless awards, winning top honors in every ranking system you can imagine (Forbes Travel Guide 5 stars, S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants, Gayot 19/20, just to name a few).

Inspired by the simplicity of Japanese cuisine and critical of the excess richness of classic French cuisine, Joel Robuchon sought to bring out the inherent beauty in flavors from natural ingredients.

We'd been to this restaurant once before, ordering a shorter, pre-theater meal. Even then, we were already blown away by that initial experience.

This time, in celebration of our 10th anniversary, we went for the pinnacle - the Menu Degustation, a sixteen-course tasting menu highlighting truly the best that Joel Robuchon has to offer.

Let me tell you . . . though it sounds crazy, it's worth the extra couple hundred dollars. The Menu Degustation is many, many levels better than the "normal" meal we enjoyed last time. In fact, it was one of the best meals we've had.


But really, why am I trying to tell you in words?

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California Olive Ranch Giveaway Winner!

>>  Monday, October 24, 2011

Congratulations to Belviny who said, "I like it with mozzarella and tomato =)"

Yum! Me too!

Please email me at jen{at}tinyurbankitchen{dot}com so I can send you your olive oil and book! Thanks everyone else for playing!

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Bivalves and Bubbles (Legal Sea Foods Harborside)

>>  Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Friday!

I apologize for the dearth of posts this week. A combination of jet lag, a nasty cold, and catch-up from being away in Asia has really taken its toll on me!

Nevertheless, I did want to share with you my visit to Legal Sea Foods Harborside last weekend for the Bivalves & Bubbles event. I had a chance to try many different kinds of raw oysters, a few champagnes, and even meet the Naked Cowboy! (whose oysters were being featured).

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Olive Oil Semolina Cake + Giveaway

>>  Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jet lag is rough.

I just came back from a ten day trip to Asia. For those of you who have ever experienced a 12-hour time change, you know that it totally knocks you out. I get random spells of grogginess in the afternoon; I wake up super early; and I get exhausted really, really early in the morning.

Heading back to Japan reminded me that it had been close to a year since I had last gone.

A year since I had purchased all these fun little baking supplies from my favorite kitchen supply shopping area in Japan (as well as from the countless department stores!)

And I had hardly used any of them . . .

So one late night as I was talking to my mom on the phone, I whipped out my baking supplies and attempted to make something I've been meaning to try for some time now.

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Carnevino Riserva Steaks

>>  Friday, October 14, 2011

Many things get better with age.

Wine, cheese, steak . .. people?

It's not unusual for high end steak houses to dry age their steaks for several weeks before serving it to you. Dry aging involves hanging up pieces of meat under very controlled temperatures and humidity levels and  . . . basically letting it sit there for awhile.

As time goes by, the steak loses moisture, which concentrates the beefy flavors. Enzymes also break down connective tissue, therefore increasing the tenderness of the entire steak.  The longer you dry age, theoretically, the better the flavor.

Typically it takes at least eleven days of dry aging before you can notice a difference. It's hard to find dry aged steak in supermarkets because it's almost prohibitively expensive to sell it that way. Having said that, I've purchased 2-week dry aged steaks at Whole Foods Market (over $20/lb!!), and it was delicious. Smith & Wollensky dry ages their steaks for 28 days, and I presume most high-end steakhouses also do for a similar length of time.

Well, except for one.

Carnevino is really in its own camp here. They have a riserva steak that they dry age for 8-11 months. Yes, you heard me right - almost a year!

What in the world could such a steak taste like? We've been dying to find out . . . . and finally, we had a chance during this trip.

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Lotus of Siam

>>  Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lotus of Siam
If you make good food, they will come.

Lotus of Siam is a simple, non-nonsense Thai restaurant located in a random strip mall on the east side of the Strip in Las Vegas. Hailed by Jonathan Gold of Gourmet Magazine as the "Best Thai Restaurant in the US," this gem of a place is almost always packed with long lines of hungry people (our wait time? 45 minutes).

Lotus of Siam is different than your run-of-the-mill Thai restaurant in a lot of ways. Most notably, they have an immense menu that includes Northern style Thai dishes, something you don't see that often in America. Furthermore, they have the most reasonably priced (and excellent) wine list we have ever seen. Well-known bottles from vineyards like Schrader, Kosta Browne, and Opus One sell for only about 10-15% above retail. In some cases, they are even cheaper than prices you could get on the open market.
Lotus of Siam
We came here after a long day of hiking, so we were famished. Waiting 45 minutes just increased our hunger even more! Thankfully, there are some seats inside, and you can browse the menu while you wait. We decided to get a mix of "normal" and Northern Thai dishes.

Bryan, who's not a huge Thai food fan but loves a good bottle of wine, satisfied himself by ordering a bottle of Kosta Browne pinot noir for prices that (according to his iPhone), were very close to what you would pay retail.

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Sushi Samba

>>  Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sushi Samba
Most of us in America have probably never heard of the marriage of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Interestingly, it appeared around the early 20th century when scores of Japanese immigrants arrived in Peru and Brazil to cultivate coffee plantations.

Soon afterwards, cities like Lima in Peru and São Paulo in Brazil exploded with a new cuisine, the integration of Japanese-style dishes with the bold flavors of the South.  Called "nikkei cuisine," you see it all over Peru, where thousands of these types of restaurants thrive. Even celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who spent the early years of his career in Peru, creates fusion dishes with heavy influences from South America.
Sushi Samba
Sushi Samba in Las Vegas is inspired by this fascinating "fusion" cuisine, and has put its own twist on the idea.

Though dubious at first, a quick look at the menu on the wall convinced us that we wanted to try this.

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Lee's Sandwiches

>>  Thursday, October 06, 2011

Banh Mi
Banh Mi
I've complained more than once that dining prices in Las Vegas are crazy exorbitant.

I should clarify when I say such bold statements.

Dining prices on the STRIP are insane. Starbucks cappuccinos can run up to $7, while a typical entree at a normal restaurant can still run close to $30. However, the rest of Las Vegas is actually perfectly fine. In fact, I'm a bit jealous of these Las Vegas residents. They have many of the benefits of California in terms of food (In & Out, Ranch 99, Sam Woo's, Ten Ren Tea Station anyone?) without the astronomical real estate prices that follows.

One one the newest California transplants is Lee's Sandwiches, which opened March 2011.

Bryan grew up on Lee's Sandwiches since his church was right next to Little Saigon in Los Angeles. He's always told me that Vietnamese sandwiches on the East Coast don't come anywhere close to the ones out west. He speaks fondly of places out West like Lee's, who bake their bread in-house and serve a mean sandwich for under $3.

After our crazy wedding anniversary photo shoot (and before another hike through more mountains in Las Vegas), we stopped at Lee's Sandwiches to re-fuel.

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>>  Wednesday, October 05, 2011

 The first time I stumbled upon Aureole at Mandalay Bay I couldn't help but gasp.

Inside, a dramatic, 4-story glass wine tower looms above diners at the restaurant. The tower holds close to 10,000 bottles of wine. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of one of the black-suited "wine angels" gliding up the tower on cables to retrieve wine bottles.

The Michelin guide has awarded Aureole one star.

We happened to be in Las Vegas during Restaurant Week, so we decided to book this restaurant with my friend Emily (the fantastic photographer behind all my "trash the wedding dress" photos) and her husband Frank.

Would Restaurant Week be any different in Las Vegas compared to Boston?

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Bouchon Bistro (lunch)

>>  Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bryan goes to Vegas several times a year. I guess when you're in the tech industry, Vegas is a popular location for conferences. Whenever he goes, he always stays at the Venetian. Why?

"I come down the elevator and Bouchon is right there. Every morning, I get a pastry and cappuccino for breakfast."

And this is a guy who usually never eats breakfeast!

Alas, this post is not about those pastries, as much as we all love them. I've written about them plenty on this site. You can go here, here, or even here (geez, it really seems like I've visited every single Bouchon Bakery in the world  . . . )

Nor is it about the lovely dinner that the bistro offers (which I already talked about earlier this year here).

Instead, we visited Bouchon twice this trip in the middle of the day - once for lunch and once for brunch. Clearly, the convenience of having the bistro right down the hall (yes, it was even closer than the bakery was to our hotel room), was yet another reason to stay at the Venetian.

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