Provoking the Palate is pretty much what it sounds. It is about food that is so stunning and absolute it forces your senses into action. Before the food has even hit your tongue—it has visually and aromatically awakened your every appetite. Thus enticed, the fork presses down on some juicy, sumptuous morsel. Realization slams home that the crackling has continued inside your mouth and has now melded with the velvety feel of the tender layer underneath. The entirety perfectly sinful, perfectly seasoned. From intense and robust flavors to the teasing lilt of something wholly other…Provoking the Palate aims to appreciate all the nuances of each ingredient and its preparation—provided it has all been executed well in the style it is served in…

Life got Busy...but...Coming Back Soon!

My "real life job" kind of took over every sphere of life. I also started taking Deutsch lessons so that has been taking up a lot of time as well--but I am going to try and keep this up as, "Ich liebe Essen!" Even though it will be in a more limited capacity, it will at least be something! I shall be aiming to post at least one a month. Welcome back, me!

8th Annual Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest

My trek to Sarah D. Roosevelt Park in (Bowery and Chinatown) was SO worth it.  I’ve been to a few festivals before—much larger ones like the Bite of Seattle and Taste of Tacoma—yes, Pacific Northwest in the housssseeee (yell it like Oprah would).

As it happens—3rd place winner in the Women’s Division Chau Bui (a very vivacious and smart chica attending grad school at NYU) is also originally from the same area!  Go us!  It was great talking to her.  Her introduction to herself was a hoot as well—“I won a pie eating contest when I was 7—I ate half a pie”.  It might have been half a slice.  My memory has never been the best!

I got to talk to 3rd place winner Will Millender for a bit as well.  His advice for future competitive eaters?  “Don’t.  I don’t want more competition.  But if you are interested—there’s a website you can go to”.  The guy was a hoot.  For more information about competitive eating visit Eat Feats.  Among the interesting things to come out of his mouth—“water training”.  I had to ask what that was.  Apparently—it’s when you try and drink as much water as you can in 1 or 2 minutes—as in the gallons.  Yeah.  If you end up trying it—try it near a bucket and a bathroom!

For more information about the 3rd Annual Tang’s Natural Dumpling Festival itself, please visit my article on the Bromography site 2011 3rd Annual Tang's Natural Dumpling Festival.

Complete List of Winners:

Newly minted Guinness Book of World Records Holder:  Seth Gruberg, 18 dumplings in 2 minutes.  Before you go thinking wait, what?  Here’s the deal—the rules are much stricter for that title.  First—NO WATER.  That’s right—no water allowed during those 2 minutes.  Also—after every dumpling, you must show your mouth to a judge.  There’s even an official Guinness TIMER.

8th Annual Chef One Dumpling Eating Contest Winners:

Men’s Division:
Joseph Menchetti – 69 (7 time winner—aka “Gentleman Joe”)
David Brunelli – 60 (aka “Tiger Wings and Things”)
Will Millender – 45
Women’s Division:
Floria Lee – 37 (6 time winner)
Olga Zaitsev – 33 (1 time winner)
Chau Bui – 23

I actually took a video of the eating contest but for some reason it refuses to load.  If I ever figure this out--I'll put it up!  Sorry!  Here are some photos instead!

Coming Soon--3rd Annual Dumpling Festival

A few articles will be up on the Bromography site about the 2011 3rd Annual Tang's Natural Dumpling Festival and 8th Annual Chef One eating contest.

I have had a crazy few weeks with work and bronchitis and asthma so that's my only excuse to offer!

In the meantime--please visit the announcement article here titled, Daring Dumplings!.

Thanks Everyone!

The Spotted Pig: Fun folks with a Salty Twist

The Reviewed: The Spotted Pig

Location: 314 W. 11th Street @Greenwich St.
New York, NY 10014

Overall Rating:
Service Rating: 4.5/5
Food Rating: 3/5

The Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon

Seasonal British and Italian, sourcing local ingredients when possible. Chef/Owner April Bloomfield. West Village. Cozy, playful and fun d├ęcor with a very quirky arrangement. Small bar. Don’t be fooled by your first walk-in impressions—there’s a 2nd floor.

The Service: We were a walk-in (for some reason I am not much of a planner when it comes to eating out—which can make for a late meal!). Before I was even able to open the door I had to plow my way (not literally) through about 20 hangers-on waiting outside to be seated. I put my name in and was told it would be about an hour—which I was more than willing to wait for—it’s Friday night in the West Village of NYC…plus, my friend was running late.

After we were seated the parade of waiters began. The waiters were wonderfully attentive—some might say overly—however, they were so quick in their deliveries (both food/drink/and spoken word) that it was not annoying in the least. In fact, when my friend accidentally grabbed one of the waiters’ buttocks (he was pretty cute so I wouldn’t put it past her to have tried that one on purpose) he grinned and made light of a situation that could have been potentially embarrassing. I honestly can’t say enough about the service here.  Not only were they professional—they did it in a very comfortable, social and friendly manner. No stiff pretension here! I heart that. I would definitely rank it up there as one of the best I’ve ever had. They weren’t perfect but they more than made up for it.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the notes I wrote down in my phone—and the website does NOT list the dishes or drinks I ordered. They must’ve changed menus for the fall season. So the names will be approximate guesses at best and not official ones! My sincere apologies.

Ordered Dishes:

Sunrise Cocktail: I think that was the name. It could have been “sunset” or maybe neither. Whatever it was—it was INCREDIBLE. Does it matter—I think I’m a sunset person though—mornings and I are bitter enemies (and for some reason, morning ALWAYS wins).  Anyhow it was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had—absolutely inspired. I ordered 3 before the night was done. Basil Bush, Pomegranate Grenadine, and Cava. I love the inclusion of herbs into cocktails. It really adds a complexity and depth that, unless one is drinking to get drunk…is truly appreciated. And this not drunk chick appreciated it.

Pot Of Pickles: Yes, yes…I know, it’s pickles—but I assure you, if you’ve had this hint of garlic hotness with the perfect amount of vinegary saltiness—you’d put it in here for a review too! The light and layered brine was spot on. The heat was just enough to add the last lilting hit to my surprised tongue. And the veggies—crispy as if they were fresh picked from the garden. The pickled medley consisted of Cornichon, cauliflower, haricot vert, carrot…and SHALLOT. Let me tell you something—pickled shallots will blow your mind. The thing I find interesting here is—it was perfect—not overly salty or vinegary or anything—just pickled perfection.

Roasted Bone Marrow: I’m not sure I had any. I saw the bones. You see the picture and there was the bread…but the bone marrow? Missing in Action. I’m not sure what went wrong here. But there was none in my friend’s bone and there certainly was none in mine. For $16—they should have done some quality checking there. I’ve made bone marrow before—I’ve never lost 97% of my marrow. Course, if I had made bone marrow—97% would have been lost…in my belly—so I almost can’t blame them for eating it and serving me the leftovers. The 3% that was left in the bone for me—was a stringy mess. If you take a look at the plate, you’ll see that there is some sea salt and a little green salad topper. The little salad was a little too strong on the parsley and very strong on salt. With such a salty little salad—I had to question why the tablespoon of salt was heaped on the plate as well. Alas…salt would come back to haunt us again…

Pork Belly with Cannellini and Green Kale Ragout: The Cannellini Ragout was good—nothing incredibly special—but good nonetheless. I wouldn’t have minded having more of it. After Spice Market…I HAD to order this when I saw it on the menu. It was just a must. It was the perfect place to do a comparison analysis. The prices, location, hype—they all match up evenly. I wanted to like it. The pork belly, while cooked technically perfectly and was tender—was just not nearly as tender as the one at Spice Market. And the seasoning was simple—which I don’t mind—but the old food adage holds true here—if you’re going to make something simple—it better rock it out of the ballpark. Sadly, due to the lack of restraint in salt usage—it did not. We were already thirsty from the humidity in NYC’s normal summer weather—so this did not make matters any better. Adding the over-salted parsley salad and this was just the last straw in our losing war with sodium. In both the parsley salad and the pork belly—it wasn’t that it was crazily over-salted—it was that it was that one to two steps too far. What it lacked was restraint.

Blueberry Pie with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream:
I’ll say the nice thing first—I love blueberries. I love that the pie wasn’t too sweet—in fact, it was just a nice hint. I also adore that they thought outside the box for an ice cream flavor. I’ve been told by numerous people; if you don’t have anything nice to say—don’t say it. Being a slight rebel—I won’t say too much. It wasn’t a typical pie—the blueberries were mixed with the batter (I refuse to say crust since there was barely any, and what was there was soft). The lemon verbena ice cream tasted old with a hint of freezer burn crystals. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve actually made lemon verbena ice cream—so maybe I’m biased—but this wasn’t good. And if you’re going to call something a pie—give me my crust. I think most people that order pie—are looking for that carb-filled crust.

Overall Assessment: Would I go back? Yes. That menu had some interesting and creative twists in a restrained manner (which is why the unrestrained use of salt kind of blindsides you). I also really wanted to order the corn soup but with the heat…well—not happening! Plus—I’ve heard great things about their burger and shoestring fries. Besides, the service was so alert and friendly I just felt like beaming the entire time at them. Hell, I might have! While I was a little underwhelmed by the food—I loved everything else. That’s enough to get me to go back at some point. I’m a tough critic maybe—but a whore for hope when something catches my fancy. The next time The Spotted Pig calls “Suey” I’ll come running.

Author’s Note: I will be putting up an “Evoking the Essence” post about my trip here soon. Stay tuned!

Labor Day Weekend = Staycation: Food Edition!

So it's been awhile that I wrote something of substance!  I can only say--I have been CRAZY BUSY at work/with work/traveling for name it--just add the word "work" in there somewhere! 

That said...this weekend, to celebrate the Labor Day holiday I will make sure that I have plenty of time to devote to my food blogs!  

History of Labor Day: 

Labor Day is when Americans NOT doing any.  It's an actual federal holiday--something we don't get enough of, if you ask me!  Thank you President Grover Cleveland--I don't remember much else that you may have accomplished, but I remember this.  Is that telling?  Oh, well!  It also traditionally marks the very sad end of summer.  Kids go back to school, homemakers go back to bonbons after scurrying around trying to ensure their kids stay busy throughout the summer, football (American football, that is) season starts so that all the working out that guys may have partaken in can be undone with beer on Mondays…and working people?  Well...working people everywhere except those poor folks in the service industry (much love to you, I remember!) get 1 day off to commemorate their countless hours of work for the year.  

And, of course, the big one--if you're a traditional fashionista--it will no longer be OK for you to wear white...bridezillas notwithstanding.

Possible Labor Day Weekend Festivities:

Come back next week for the first of many updates!  Thanks for your support!

Back Soon!!!

Just an FYI--a VERY busy few weeks getting ready for some large/important meetings at work.  But I promise when things calm down in September I'll be back for more!  Hang tight, folks!  I appreciate all your support.  Thanks!

Evoking the Essence...Raspberry Cava Kick

My second installation for the Bromography site is up!  If you love raspberries and/or alcohol--go take a look!  Heck--it's great to just go gaze at some pictures of some gorgeous raspberries too!  The best part is--the cava I used--was the top pick for "Wine and Spirit" Magazine...all for such a great value too at only $9.99.

You've seen my review here and...if you happen to try out my recipe--let me know what you think.  Thanks!