Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sao Mai, perfect for a healthy winter meal.

Sao Mai
203 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 12th St)
New York, NY 10003

These nights have been cold. Normally on a cold winter night, I’ll crave something hot and hearty. But the heaviness of Thanksgiving dinner (with some leftovers still in the fridge, like J.W.’s shepherd’s pie which I had for lunch two days in a row…) has made me crave hot foods that are light. How many of those can you think of?


Vietnamese food is overall one of the healthier cuisines. It uses more natural herbs for flavoring and tends to use water or broth over oil. Pho is the perfect combination of hot and light. A bowl of pho consists of rice noodles in a beef broth made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, ginger, and other spices. Compared to other noodle soups, pho is definitely a much lighter option. The rice noodles are almost airy and compensate by being great soup sponges. The soup is flavorful but still clear, allowing you to drink up every last drop without feeling sick (this also depends on how much MSG the restaurant uses). Continue reading Sao Mai, perfect for a healthy winter meal.

Basta Pasta! A place for Japanese-influenced Italian food.

Basta Pasta
37 W 17th St
(between 5th Ave & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011

I’ve been raving about this place for quite some time now and have already gone a bunch of times. For some reason, my photos are never satisfactory when I come. I think this is because we usually decide to go on a whim and I only ever have my iPhone with me. This time, we went with our out-of-town Turkey guests and as proper host, I finally had my camera with me. As background, Basta Pasta is a pasta place (derrrhhh) run by a Japanese owner. The dishes are subtly influenced by Japanese cuisine with a few exceptions that clearly show a cultural marriage, such as the Linguini Ai Ricci Di Mare, which is a linguini tossed with fresh sea urchin and basil in a pink sauce.

    
The meal always begins with a basket of assorted breads and little toasted slices of bread with a thin layer of gorgonzola spread. Bread is not warm but is pretty satisfactory, with a classic white, a golden raisin, and some other crisper/toasted white. Toasted bread and gorgonzola provides just barely enough flavor to whet the appetite. It’s surprisingly good.


We started with two orders of the Insalata D’ Anatra ($12), a salad of watercress and arugula with cherrywood-smoked sliced duck breast. This is one of my favorite simple salads because a) they give you a TON of duck for a salad; b) the vinaigrette is not too sharply acidic; and c) the arugula and watercress provides the perfect balance of tenderness and crispness. The vinaigrette is a little sweet and coats the smoked duck breast, forming what some would probably call umami. The duck is smoked such that the meat is still incredibly tender. The consistent thin layer of fat adds a bit of creaminess to the whole affair.  Continue reading Basta Pasta! A place for Japanese-influenced Italian food.

Lunch by the Marche d’Aligre


On our last day in Paris, before our afternoon flight, we got up early and checked out the Marche d’Aligre, one of the more traditional and popular outdoor markets in Paris. Imagine walking through tight rows of vendors yelling a slur of French words at you that have something to do with the beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables that they are selling. Bunches of bulbous grapes ranging from soft yellow to deep purple, bright red tomatoes bursting with juice, creamy avocados cut open with slices to sample… god it’s beautiful. Unlike the farmers’ markets in NYC, the produce at this marche were just glowing with freshness. I felt like I could taste the tomatoes by just looking at them. The lively environment with local frenchies hustling and bustling about for their week’s groceries also added to the fun. After we wandered around and didn’t buy anything (I so wish we had come on day 1… I would’ve gotten so many fruits), we hopped on over to a cafe for lunch. I can’t remember the name of the cafe but I’m sure I have it written down somewhere and will update when I find out.


I had the Croque-Madame, which is simply a croque-monsieur (grilled toast with ham and cheese) with an egg on top. Though it looked very pretty, the toast was a bit overtoasted and so lost the soft chewy center of great bread. The whole thing just tasted like crust. Ham was very mediocre quality (like packaged sandwich ham), unlike most of the amazing cured jambon’s we had at other places. Sorry to ruin the photo for you guys.  Continue reading Lunch by the Marche d’Aligre

Baguettes and Jambon Sandwiches in Paris

I know. I’ve been terrible. I’ve had a crazy month filled with lots of work, lots of studying, and lots of writing (clearly not about food). Somewhere in the midst of all that, I was able to squeeze in a one week trip to Paris with LAW. But now I’m back, and determined to get back on schedule. I’ve been in the city for over a week now and the one thing I miss from Paris the most is their baguettes. We had a full baguette for breakfast every morning, along with a croissant and a pain au chocolat. Every. Single. Morning. I learned that not every boulangerie has amazing pastries. You have to go to the ones that are packed in the morning and where the bread is constantly coming out of the oven. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a crusty, warm, springy baguette… I distinctly remember my first great baguette in Paris. We were walking along next to the Montparnasse cemetery and I took a bite out of a piping hot baguette we had just gotten off of Rue Daguerre.The crust made that amazing crackle sound every bite I took. Delicious.

In addition to baguettes, we had a lot of sandwiches. Continue reading Baguettes and Jambon Sandwiches in Paris