Happy New Year!

Family, friends, food and great fun. The pictures say it all. Here’s a look at Christmas 2010:

Not exactly the typical Christmas dessert, but who can say no to strawberries?

Fraisier

The beggar:

Handsome

Looking at you looking at me:

Dad and Grandma

Grandma did not get run over by a reindeer:

Antlers

Cousins reenacting a goofy childhood photo:

Cousins!

Then I headed to New Jersey for some food, babies and new year’s eve festivities:

Terrorista?

These boys are so well-behaved at such a young age:

Innocence

Chinese speaking French on NYE:

Ratatouille?

The boy likes chocolate mousse [faite sans balance! olalalala…c’est illégale!]:

Wear it

Mats’ secret to being the ‘favorite’ parent:

Olly and Papa

Then I headed to NYC. Well, more like Brooklyn:

Marcy Ave

The trip to NY’s most populous burrough was all for this:

Fatty ‘Cue

I’d been meaning to check out Fatty Cue after all the press it’s been receiving this year. If people in ‘the industry’ [as we call ourselves] like it, it’s usually good, right? In this case, yes. Finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, “BBQ.” More like Asianified-BBQ but de-rish nonetheless. We had the pork ribs [pictured above], lamb ribs, Pork loin and Porkslap beer (because they threw a party the night before and ran out of Beer Lao. Booo). I prefer either of the ribs–stronger flavors, great seasoning and texture. Seating is tight, portions are small and come on cheap-o Chinatown plates, but if you’re hankering to snack on some meat with Southeast flavors and you’re in the ‘hood, head on over. I also love their assertiveness with the spicy fish sauce and thai chili. Bangin’. Restaurants usually shy from [real] spice.

As I said, this was a meaty snack. Keep in mind it was 20 degrees F outside, aka perfect ramen weather!

Ramen Totto

I waited patiently in line for 20 min or so for a steaming hot bowl of spicy ramen. I tried the Totto Spicy Ramen as well as the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen (the first two items on the menu). Both delicious. Compared to Ippudo, the noodles are a bit thinner but maintain their QQ. The broth was rich, deep and chicken-y, without MSG and without the after-mouth-feel of thick and nappy. Know what I mean, ramen lovers? Sometimes you get that Ippudo (that other red-and-black-themed ramen joint), on an off-day I suppose. Oh and having been in Europe for the past month and a half, I must say the spicy bamboo shoot side is quite spicy! (deserving of its 5 chilis on their chili-meter on the menu) Hmm…perhaps I should try it again after living in China for a month and a half.  I bet it would be ‘mildly spicy.’

For dinner I had quail at Café Boulud. Perfectly-cooked-pink. The waiter claimed it was not sous-vide but I still don’t believe him.

Quail with truffles, potato emulsion, spinach, pearl onions

My first NYC food truck experience. Waffles remind me of snowboarding and eating chocolate-drizzled waffles at the bottom of the slope at a Waffle Haus because waiting in a long line of skiers and snowboarders is not as fun as eating a hot, chocolatey waffle when you’re super cold and need to recharge. They also remind me of the gofre vendors in Madrid that sell waffles in the subway stations. The aroma of gofres after disembarking a crowded Madrid metro car > over-perfumation of Spaniards on metro.

Waffles and Dinges

The best [and so far, only] yakitori joint I’ve tried in NYC.  It’s not Toriki, but hey, we’re not in Tokyo. And it’s still freaking good! Try the soft bone, chicken skin and giblets!

Soba Totto

Chase that with a bowl of hot or cold soba.  The tempura was warm and crispy, although my slice of fried lotus root was sliced too thick, therefore it was difficult to chew.  Other than that, the soba noodles were the right amount of QQ, the broth smoky and full of bonito-goodness without being too salty. It’s different from Soba-Koh; the noodles are a bit thinner but they’re QQ nonetheless so pas du problem.  I’m definitely coming back for more!

Soba

More to come…

Happy 2011!

The Land of Pintxos

Paraíso

Boy does it feel great to be back in San Sebastián, the Land of Pintxos. I may not ever grow accustomed to the siesta lifestyle here where shops open late, close midday then close [for good] early evening  [leaving a small window of time to actually eat or shop], however the pintxos make up for everything. I’d originally planned to go to Bar La Cepa and Txepetxa for some of my favorite bites (namely the jamón and the anchoas, respectively), but both were closed. Instead I opted for La Cepa’s neighbor, Bar Martinez, a pintxo bar I’d been referred to last time but never quite made it there. Well this time, I made it for lunch.

Anchoa Frita

This was the first bite of real food I’d eaten in 24 hours or so. Gawd, how dearly I have missed seafood. I spent the past month or so eating mostly a carnivorous diet in Paris. I got thirsty so of course I ordered the local cerveza to accompany my now-turned brunch:

Hongos Revueltos y Keler Cerveza

Because they’re so woody and delicious, I’m quickly getting over my annoyance with the term ‘hongos’ to simply mean ‘fungi.’ Yay for eggs in the morning! Well, mid-afternoon for me, but per my definition, it still constitutes ‘brunch’ because there were eggs and alcohol involved in my first ‘meal’ of the day.

Tonight I will be pintxo bar-hopping with a fellow American, Marti, who has kindly offered to show me around her stomping grounds. Now I just have to switch to Spanish mode and stop saying “Oui”, “Merci” and “Olala” to the Basqueans…Basquenese…Vascos.