Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Family, More Food, More Fun!

A lot to catch up on with this post—it’s been awhile,  I have been doing a lot of eating out, both in NY and outside—get ready for restaurant review extravaganza as well as a celebrity sighting! 

I was on vacation in St. Martin from May 5-9, so that put a slow down on a few things—as many of you told me, I needed a vacation!  Let’s start with the island, it was simply fantastic, clear water, blue sky’s and relaxing vibes.  The food was also amazing—my two favorite meals were at a local Creole shack in Grande Casse and an upscale restaurant in a hotel, Ocean Lounge in Phillipsburg—two completely different experiences, but equally satisfying.  The Creole shack was lively, relaxed and simply delicious.  I had a whole grilled red snapper, it was supple and fresh.  The meat fell off the bones, and the sauce they put on it was savory and spicy at the same time (but did not overpower the fish).  The sides it came with were weird but all delicious, a mélange of different things including, rice and beans, macaroni pie, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and plantains.  You would think it wouldn’t work, but it did! It was a perfect first meal on the island.  The place had no name, but if you want to know how to find it post, and I’ll give you detailed instructions and description.

Then to end our trip, we ate at Ocean Lounge a fabulously chic restaurant on the Dutch side of the island.  It was a chic and beautiful atmosphere with solid 2 star NY food with corresponding prices.  The food was well executed, refined, and sophisticated.  The most memorable dish was my sister’s Grilled Sea Bass with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, sweet onion compote, truffle butter and sauce served with red creamy potato purée—a very satisfying combination of flavors. They also served us a fine beef tenderloin, terrine of fois gras, and fresh scallops.  (As a side note—those of you who remember Jon’s Halibut with the room temperature tomato sauce, this restaurant used that technique as well with the scallops—I of course did not care for it, but the scallops were of excellent quality).  Ocean Lounge is the perfect place, with a serene atmosphere, to have a lovely meal on the island. 

Other quick highlights were the Palm restaurant, beautiful beach club, but watch for the pretentious French attitude, it comes out more from some than others, and the Spice Man—any spice you want as well as local hot sauce, including one made from Pineapple at the Margot market.

May 10- back to reality.  In NY things were winding up for a great weekend!  My Aunt Cindy and Uncle Donald came into town last weekend from Rochester as well as my cousin Amanda, PR expert who lives in Ohio, and Thea, business woman extraordinaire living in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  My Aunt Cindy is a fabulous chef, her meals are beautiful, classic, and comforting all at the same time.  Going to their house in Rochester was always so wonderful, it was homey, friendly, and warm—it still gives me comfort thinking about it.

Two brunches were planned, by Aunt Cindy, with the family from out of town.  Brunch #1 was on Saturday, at Norma’s in Le Parker Meridian.  Norma’s is a premier brunch spot, one of those classic New York institutions which executes on the classics perfectly without pretention (well, this is NY, so let’s just say the perfect recipe of pretention).  The portions were huge but everything was so delicious.  All the standard classics were available, but the most yummy was the brioche French toast.  I had an egg white frittata with shrimp, which was healthy, satisfying, and tasty.  (Although, the frittata was the size of my head!!!)  I found the coffee a bit stale and weak, but that just may be to please the clientele—I like my coffee extremely dark and rich (the Italian way).

On Sunday, brunch was at Morandi, a Keith McNally restaurant, picture Balthazar only Italian—but not quite as good (both in ambiance as well as the food).  The food here was fine, but the best things were the pastries, the rest was standard brunch fare.  You come here for the bread basked, fried ricotta fritters, and cinnamon donuts as well as the chocolate crepes, ohh my, those were to die for!  The egg dishes were inventive, but not familiar, they were “interesting”, which is not always what you want from brunch.  Also, the menu was very heavy, lots of lunch dishes, for 10am most were really not what you wanted.  This would be a good place for a late weekend lunch if you wanted hearty food, not breakfast.  BUT, what made this place so memorable, is who was dining there, none other than MARIO BATALI!!! I love love love him, his orange clogs and ponytail, he looked fabulous.  I really wanted to through myself on his lap and say “thank you, thank you for making real Italian food, in a way that is simple, yet extraordinary, elegant, and beautiful!”  But I digress… I actually never really care about seeing celebrities, but this one made me giddy!

So, to wrap up, after all this eating out, I needed to make something in my kitchen.  I decided to make a strawberry rhubarb pie as I thought it would be something that Jon would like.  Jon doesn’t like sweet desserts, so I thought this would be tart enough to please him.  Our urban chef loved it—he said it was not too sweet, but tart and refreshing.  For the pie, I only used one pie crust as I think the top crust makes it too bready and distracts from the fruit.  For those who do not know, rhubarb looks like celery and comes in stalks, but is bright red.  It’s an odd vegetable, but makes great pies! This pie is the perfect summer treat, light, tart, and well, simply delicious!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pie crust: for one crust
1 stick butter, cold
1 ¼ cup of AP flower
1 T sugar
1 t salt
5 T
Blend in a food processor (or in a metal bowl with two forks) then add 5 T of cold water until dough forms a ball (add more water if needed 1 T at a time).  Press down into a disk and freeze for at least 30 min.  (Can be frozen up to 3 days). 

Meanwhile make pie filling.

2 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup sugar
¼ t of lemon rind
1 t nutmeg
3-4 T corn starch

Mix dry ingredients, then chop the fruit into small pieces, rhubarb 1 in, strawberry half if small or quarter if large.  Add fruit to dry mixture and stir until all are coated evenly.  Let sit for 15 min.  Stir occasionally. 

Pull out frozen pie curst, let come up to room temp, about 15min.  Roll out and put on the bottom of a pie pan.  Poke holes in the bottom with a fork.  Pour in filling.  Bake at 400 for 60 min!

Orient Bay & The Palm...good times
The Hyundai l10 is St. Martin's answer to the Ford Taurus, so in order to prevent an international incident by way of an arrest for attempted Grand Theft Auto, we cleverly left a Coke can in the console so as to our rental car apart from everyone else's.
 Thanks to my sister Adrienne for the pics, laughs and fun in St. Martin!

1 comment:

  1. Another triumph! I love your writing so much. I'm constantly impressed by your knowledge of food and of course wine. You have the most amazing descriptions of the food.

    Our trip was amazing and I have to entirely agree with your assessment the best nights were the 1st and last. The red snapper the 1st night was out of this world, but yes the medley of various italian pasta dishes along with the island traditional dishes were a bit odd but yum.

    You did fail to mention the goat cheese/bacon burger and fries that I devoured while sitting on a sunbed staring out at the crystal blue water...but then in all fairness you inexplicably chose to eat a salad...ridiculous as we were on vacation and everyone knows there are no calories/carbs/fat, etc. in food you eat while on vacation.

    I entirely agree with your description of Aunt Cindy and her lovely home as well. I cherish the time I got to spend with her.

    Love you! Well done. Can't wait to read another one.