eat. shop. love. nyc.

NY Loves Japan Sake & Tasting Benefit

New York’s premier sake and restaurant community has partnered with Project by Project to host New York Loves Japan, a sake and chefs’ tasting to benefit relief efforts in Japan.

The benefit takes place this Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at La.venue in Chelsea, featuring 100 tastes of sake with food pairings to pay tribute to the culture and the rebuilding of communities in Japan. See Event Details.

Food sponsors include 15 East, Bond Street, Bozu, Buddakan, EN Japanese Brasserie, Geisha, Hibino, Kajitsu, Kyotofu, Kyoya, Matsuri, Sakagura, Tanuki Tavern, wd~50, and Unique Eats Chef Lee Anne Wong. For a full list of sake sponsors, click here. The list is quite impressive.

VIP Admission: $175

  • Early Event Admission Starting at 6 PM
  • Private VIP Daiginjo Sake Lounge Starting at 6 PM
  • Sake Cup Gift Bag
  • Plus General Admission Ticket Privileges

General Admission: $100

All proceeds will benefit the Japanese Red Cross Society. Your donation will support disaster relief efforts to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.

General Admission Tickets will be $125 at the door, so buy your tickets online now!


Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part II
March 30, 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Continued from Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part I.

After the most perfect salad of my life, I had a phenomenal foie gras terrine with golden pineapple relish, pickled pearl onion, and passion fruit gelee. It was served with a housemade rum raisin brioche toast, so the whole of the course was extremely rich. I thought the portion a little too large given the richness, but I got over it. After all, it is foie gras, and gras it was. It was during this course that I regretted not having a glass of crisp, high acid white wine to cleanse my palate after each mouthful so I could taste each bite anew. Then I remembered that alcohol was not my friend (see Part I for previous night’s activities), and I sipped contentedly on my super-gingery gingered ale instead.

One more time… everything was so beautiful!

The rum raisin brioche.

I was pretty full by the time we finished the foie gras course, but I knew we had a seafood, meat, and dessert course yet to come so I sucked it up (poor little me) and got to eating. The fish course was a butter-soft John Dory filet with pickled daikon radish, edamame, and dried winter citrus. The fish was so soft and creamy, and the cream sauce was a great complement. I enjoyed the edamame, but the winter citrus tasted like dried mangos or passion fruit, which are too sugary for me and in my opinion, should not be paired with fish. Fish is so delicious; it can stand alone!

By the way, do you guys know what a sauce spoon is? Because I didn’t. I saw this weird flat spoon-looking thing with a notch on one side and couldn’t figure out whether I was supposed to cut my fish with it (like a fish knife) or what. So I asked, and I was told that this doohickey is a sauce spoon. I still don’t get what the notch is for, or why a regular spoon wouldn’t wok just as well in scooping up leftover sauce. I clearly have a ways to go in wrapping my head around fine dining and the more delicate points of etiquette.

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Eleven Madison Park Gourmand Lunch Part 1

On March 18th, I had the pleasure of dining at the New York Times’ 4 starred Eleven Madison Park. It was a sunny Thursday afternoon, and I was super hung over from an accidentally overzealous St. Patrick’s Day celebration the night prior. (I had been sick all morning and was still paying copious respects to the toilet queen just moments before leaving my apartment for EMP. So classy it hurts.)

Despite the pounding headache and unsettling nausea, it was the best fine dining experience I’ve had. The service was exceptional and the food was great, though not perfect – Chef Daniel Humm was not in the kitchen that day, and though I’m sure his sous chef is highly qualified, I wonder if that made any difference. Whatever the case, it was a fabulous experience and a tremendous value, and I would not hesitate to go there again for any special occasion or celebration.

Let’s start with my Open Table reservation, where I had made a note that I was planning to partake in the $68 6-course Gourmand Tasting Menu. (Diners may also choose from a $28 2-course prix-fixe or a $42 3-course prix fixe at lunch.) The next day, I received a call from EMP confirming my reservation and asking if there were any dietary restrictions, which I thought was quite thoughtful of them even though I will eat pretty much anything.

When we arrived at EMP, we were led to our table through the airy and spacious dining room past trees of dancing yellow roses and a rather eclectic looking group of diners including businessmen, ladies who lunch, a family with two bored-looking tweens, two avid foodies celebrating a birthday, and an aspiring college-age food critic and his girlfriend. The two of us were seated at a large table that at another restaurant, may have seated four. Despite the white tablecloths and the fine silver, I felt comfortable and fully at ease. I especially liked it that when any of the staff happened to catch a diner’s eye, they would smile, even if they were headed somewhere else entirely. It made me feel welcome. I ordered a gingered ale (pureed ginger and sparkling water) in an attempt to ward off my hangover, and eagerly awaited our first course.

Now we get to the photos.

Our first bite of the afternoon was a playful amuse-bouche of a foie gras macaroon and a cracker-like thingy topped with a festive green gelee. I know there should be more to the description and the server was very precise, but I simply couldn’t remember all the details. I ate the foie gras macaroon expecting it to be savory but found it sweet, and I ate the green dessert-looking thing (I do not think “cracker-like thingy” or “dessert-looking thing” are what the server called it but the actual description escapes me) expecting it to be sweet and found it salty – I think I heard the server say something about celery but I am not sure. Whatever the case, it was surprising, and I liked it.

We were also brought a little dish of fluffy, air-light gougères, little pastry puffs of cheesy goodness. Sorry, Jo’s, but your gougères ain’t got nothin’ on EMP’s, although I do like it that Jo’s bartender Mackenzie gives me sriracha sauce for dipping. Maybe EMP can start offering a side of sriracha! (Kidding… sorta.)

The official first course of the tasting menu was the Sea Urchin Cappuccino with Peekytoe Crab and Cauliflower, which was served cool along with a generously seasoned pastry stick. I love the unctuousness of sea urchin, or uni in sushi-speak, and I believe shellfish are God’s way of saying he loves us, so to combine the two in a slightly frothy but mostly creamy soup is genius. Crunchy bits of cauliflower added texture, and I think they may have been lightly pickled because there was some acidity there. Phenomenal. And how beautiful is that bowl?

After the soup, we were served bread. This is one thing that I wish had been different. I wish they had served me the bread before I got the soup so I could sop up the leftover soup with the bread after getting as much of it as possible with the spoon (the pastry stick wasn’t very absorbent). We got two types of bread – olive and regular – and two types of butter – cow’s milk and goat’s milk – and a dish of crystalline sea salt. I’ve never had goat’s milk butter before, but I love goat cheese so I thought it was deliciously tangy and decadent.

Our official second course followed the bread course. I had the best (and tiniest) salad of my life on this day. You would think that salad is pretty basic, something you can make fairly easily at home, but I’m certain that even if I procured radicchio trevisano, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and a champagne mango, I wouldn’t be able to replicate those three transcendent bites from the Tardivo Trevisano Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella, Champagne Mango, Basil Puree, and Terre Bormane Olive Oil. I would never think to combine basil with mango, and the acidity in the olive oil dressing (perhaps champagne vinegar?) added brilliance and zest. I also loved that the radicchio was not very bitter, which I have been told is because it is radicchio trevisano tardivo.

Foie, fish, lobster, and meat courses to come soon. I can only sit in front of the computer so long at one time before I start going cross-eyed. More later, folks!

Forgive me; I’ve been busy eating.
March 19, 2010, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , ,

The bf was leaving town so I was busy eating, hence the lack of substantive posting, and the pathetic non-posts to come are the reult of necessary spring cleaning as reorganize my life and prepare for Mama’s NYC visit this weekend. (Breaking out the bleach and the Fantastik – watch out!)

Fret not, friends; I have been gathering lots of material to write about.

Coming soon: Spice-roasted chicken and lemon pepper pea shoots, Eleven Madison Park Gourmand tasting menu (lunch), Alias Sunday Supper, and Jo’s Crispy Pork Ribs.

Today, I leave you with this tweet from Michael Voltaggio (@MVoltaggio) to yours truly (@melodyhan):

There you have it! Marinate your flank steak a la MVoltaggio with a blend of OJ, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, and scallions.