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…

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!