Beach Lunch @ Cayenas del Mar

Cayenas del Mar, Dominican Republic

Beach lunch with some tasty and unconventional dishes. A kind of latkes made with plantains and topped with fish, deep fried fish tails, eggplant rolls stuffed with fresh cheese. Rich flavors and multiple textures for a great lunch served directly at the beach.

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Tapas @ Degustation

239 East 5th Street,  New York

Degustation is a unique blend of different styles that well represents the multicultural nature of the East Village. The menu consists of tapas with addition of non-traditional ingredients, mostly from other cuisines. The layout of the restaurant reminds of a sushi bar: the open kitchen surrounded by the bar offers the opportunity to enjoy the preparation of your meal. The exterior design is extremely low-key and it recalls the entrance of a prohibition-era speakeasy.

The tapas are attractive and characterized by a variety of ingredients and preparations that could satisfy different tastes and preferences.

Among the six tapas ordered for the dinner, the perfectly cooked octopus was the star. The charred flavor of its tender meat was counterbalanced by the freshness of zucchini and mint leaves, while the spicy sauce gave a pleasant kick to the tastebuds.

Octopus

The hawaiian blue prawns on top of the paella could have been a separate dish on their own. Their flavor was enriched by a mild spice rub and similarly to the octopus they were masterfully cooked. The paella was well balanced, not overloaded with ingredients, and it provided a good textural and flavor contrast with the prawns.

Paella

Finally, the Brussel sprouts confirmed the great versatility of this underappreciated  vegetable. The deep-fried sprouts were covered by a mix of breadcrumbs and cheddar, with cashews at the bottom. Each bite was a surprising explosion of flavor and textures.

Brussel Sprouts

A few other tapas – croquetas, scallops and cracked potatoes – were less successful. In the next tasting they will be probably replaced by other interesting tapas such as the roasted cauliflower, the wild board bbq and the foie gras.

Hasta luego, Degustation!

Fish Lunch @ La Entrada Beach

La Entrada, Dominican Republic

The cotorra is a typical fish of the coral reef. At the shacks at La Entrada beach, this fish is cooked in a traditional way that leaves a crispy skin on the outside with a tender meat on the inside. The beach is recommended for its Ocean and fresh water swim opportunities. A lunch at these shacks is even more recommended,  as a pleasant break between the morning and afternoon shift at this nice beach.

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Fish Dinner @ El Babunuco

Camino del Saltadero, Cabrera 33000, Dominican Republic

El Babunuco is a sort of relaxing and anti-stress device. The name fits perfectly with this restaurant where culinary tradition meets artistic creativity. The fish was  the king of our meals: calamari fried in a crispy batter, crab meat and dorade (sea bream) were succulent and cooked according to simple and tasty recipes. Make sure to order also the crispy potatoes “of the house”.

Take also some time to walk around this place that is a blend of traditional restaurant, antiques shop and artist laboratory. If you look for a memorable experience, visit this place and you won’t be disappointed.

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Fish Dinner @ Manny’s

Duarte Street, Cabrera 33000, Dominican Republic

At Manny’s fresh local fish meets a superb preparation. The cooked fish is made even more delicious by a playful and interesting variety of tasty sides that change every day (fried bananas, savory sauces, poached eggs, and avocado salad, among the others). The carpaccio of the thinly sliced lambi (local name for the conch) elevates this seafood. The cocktails are superlative, especially the mohito with fragrant mint leaves.

Finally, the view, sound and scent of the Ocean enrich an already superb experience.

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Miniature Desserts @ Sweet Buttons Desserts

84 Rivington Street, New York

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Sweet Buttons Desserts cakes, tarts and cup desserts epitomize the traditional motto of the Lower East Side: “L.E.S. is more”. Despite their size, these miniature desserts deliver in a few bites the same experience of their bigger counterparts: XXX-Large dessert pleasure in X-Small size.

Each dessert combines an outstanding level of detail in the presentation with delicious depth of textures and flavors.

The chocolate mousse is fluffy and rich of cocoa notes; the salted dulce de leche tart offers the sweet-salty contrast at every single bite. The panna cotta and the banana custard are also delicious.

The menu has seasonal variations, offering another excuse to come back to the Lower East Side and to these great dessert spot.

 

Cookies @ Levain Bakery

167 West 74th Street & 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York

Cookies at Levain Bakery

Until now I did not review Levain Bakery’s cookies because I always ate them before being able to take a picture.

This time I was able to snap a picture before diving into the the extreme pleasure of this delicious cookie.

Once you have tried Levain’s cookies, it will be difficult to call “cookies” the other round shaped flat biscuits that you can find at most bakeries, grocery stores and delis.

 

This cookie is a piece of art, rich in flavors and with complex textures. Each bite is a multi-layered experience that starts with the crunchy surface, and continues in the the softer rich inside. The cookie dough comes directly from a kid’s dream and it beautifully wraps  a generous amount of chocolate chips and walnuts.

The traditional chocolate chip walnut cookie has other friends – dark chocolate, dark chocolate and peanut butter, oatmeal raisin. You should try to make acquaintance with all of them.

 

Ramen Burger @ Ramen Co

100 Maiden Lane, New York, NY

The first time I saw ramen burgers it was last summer at Smorgasburg. At that time they were the “must try” of the food fair. The outrageously long lines to get the prized sandwich combined with the availability of other delicious food kept me away from the ramen burger stand.

Nine months later, I have finally a chance to try can finally try this burger. The occasion is the soft opening of the Ramen Co. ‘s Financial District restaurant.

This is probably the first case where the bun is a good reason to try a burger. The pressed and fried noodles deliver texture and flavor at each bite. The beef patty, however, is not on par with the high standards of the ramen bun. The meat appears excessively minced and its taste is partially overwhelmed by the salty sauce.

After considering these limitations, the burger is worth future tastings but it is not definitely worth more than a 5-minute wait.

Ramen Burger at Ramen Co

Panini @ Alidoro

105 Sullivan Street, New York, NY

Alidoro is all about panini in the typical Italian tradition. This means that the high quality and tasty combination of the ingredients does not require greasy-sweet-spicy sauces as flavor enhancers.

The “Dino” is the perfect representation of this concept. Every bite is an addictive combination of flavor and textures. Bitter and fresh arugula, sweet tomatoes, soft and smokey mozzarella, lean and savory ham dance in your mouth and please your palate.

The “Melody” has a traditional combination of tuna, arugula and artichokes, with the creative touch of balsamic vinegar used as dressing for the arugula.

These two sandwiches are a small but representative sample of the thirty-plus options available in the menu. They can be enjoyed also on site, if you like the ultra-vintage almost tumbledown and 100% NY inspired decor of the store.

 

Alidoro

Alidoro

Pizza @ L’Asso

192 Mott Street, New York, NY

The sight of a wood fired pizza oven is an unexpected and pleasant surprise on Mott Street. Even more pleasant is the actual experience with the pizza.

The pizza is thin, with a thick and soft border. There is a wide choice of toppings, from traditional recipes to more creative concepts with ingredients such as Brussel sprouts, pistachios and home made chips (not all on the same pizza, obviously). 

As usual, the “Margherita D.O.C.” is the fundamental quality test. The crust has a peculiar style: relatively thin in the center with a thicker, soft border. The mozzarella is properly melted and integrated with the lightly sweet tomato sauce. After finishing the pizza, I would like to have more of it. The test is successfully passed. The other half of the 21″ pizza confirms the experience with Margherita, and provides an opportunity to enjoy the quality of the toppings. The mushrooms with smoked mozzarella and truffle oil invite you to quickly empty the tray.

“Asso” means “ace” in Italia. This place deserves its name: the pizzaiolo is an “ace of pizzas”.

L'Asso

L'Asso