We never miss the Oscar awarded movies every year. This year we have seen 'True Grit' and "The Fighter.' While True Grit was a rather simplistic plot, The Fighter was more well done--better direction, screenplay and excellent acting. Christian Bale really deserves the Oscar. Planning to see 'The King's Speech' and 'Black Swan.'
"P" was our second cuisine club search encounter after I selected C for Cuban almost a year back. Shweyta, asked Hemant (my husband) this time to hunt down restaurants for letter P. But since Hemant is always busy as ever especially being earning season, ultimately it came down to me to do the hunting. My classmate from Masters program at Pratt is a Peruvian ( love to be in States for the fact that you can meet people from all over the world) so when P was in line my first instinct was to go for Peruvian cuisine.
I chatted with her online for suggestion of restaurants and she being a native from Peru, did suggest authentic Peruvian restaurant in New York. But Hemant and I both being vegetarians as I scrolled down the menu of the restaurant she suggested, I realized the only thing we could eat in there quinoa which actually Hemant and I have recently started eating. Finally after researching cuisines for all the countries starting with P decided to go for Persian where one could say more veggie options.
I really wonder now.....how on earth that no other country except India has vegetarianism, a way of eating from centuries for whatever reasons religious or survival, where every other country's cuisine is only meat and fish with vegetarianism now catching up for reasons such as health or saving animals/fish on this plant. Anyways, I have wondered about this lot after moving to States than actually growing up India since never there was the problem to find good vegetarian food in India:) Below is the link to the Persian restaurant I selected which is called as Ravagh. After reading reviews from other people who have already been there I felt comfortable to give it a shot.
I can't say much about the food other people ate that night (although I should have asked for their reviews, may be people can add to this blog to give a complete review). Being Persian, Hemant and I knew what to expect, hummus, pita bread, grape leaves and grilled veggies which all were relatively good. The restaurant must have not more than 10 tables and was not so crowded for a Friday night. To summarize succinctly, nice little Mediterranean nook in the neighborhood.
It was good to see Shweyta and Amit after a very long time and hope to see them more often along with cuisine club encounters.
After saying yes to host the cuisine 'O ' dinner I started looking for cuisines with letter 'O' . As it happens in our Bollywood movies I wanted to come up with some hatke (different) cuisine. The only different cuisine I came up with was Omani. It looked REALLY different and mouth watering. The only problem was I would have to charter a plane and fly everybody to Muscat. Unfortunately I am not that rich.. Yet. So, I was left with 'Oriental'. I had to go with Chinese . After looking into many chinese resturants in and around NYC I chose China Grill. http://www.chinagrillmgt.com/chinaNY/main.cfm?pp=0 China grill is one of the participating resturants in the Resturant week and this made this otherwise expensive reasturant affordable. We had the reservation for 8:45 pm and as always abhishek was late . By the time we reached there I was starving. In appetizers we order for Crackling calamari salad and chicken satay. Calamari salad was very unusual but amazing and really different ,satay was just alright. For the entree we chose Sake marinated 'drunken' chicken ( don't get carried away by the name, it was not that great although it was very interesting and different) , wild mushroom profusion pasta(Again the pasta was also different and very delicious) ,Barbequed Salmon ( According to Ankit was good but not out of the world) and vegetable fried rice( which was just ok).
The evening came to an end with the desert (homemade icecream and sorbt and hazelnut chocolate Torte) which needless to say was very Yummy....
I think the restaurant was worth going back to but only during Resturant week especially for the calamari salad and pasta.
Finally thanks to Amit,Ashish,Abhishek and of course Ankit for coming. As for Namrata and Akshay ,we really missed you.
The Alphabet for Cusine Club in the series was 'M'. Satyajeet was supposed to host this times Cusine Club, but he had some last minute work that came up and so Shweyta and Preetam called me to check if I was interested in doing it this time, I readily agreed on Wednesday afternoon and started looking out for places. I had to select out of Malaysian, Mexican, Mediterranean and Moroccan. I had initially chosen Penang - Malaysian Restaurant, which is at the upper West side. Thanks to Preetam who reminded me that most of us take the Path train back home and so had to look for something which was closer to the Stations and had to keep other logistics in mind. With the help of Shweyta and Preetam and after exchanging chain mails, I finally chose, Zerza Mediterrano, a Mediterranean & Moroccan Restaurant at 308E, 6th Street, New York, NY-10003. Its a small restaurant, but serves good food. We had 8 people this time who joined for the dinner.
Food that was ordered - Appetizers :Spicy Prawns, Bakoula Main course: Chicken Bastilla, Moroccan Fish Tagine, Chicken Kebabs
The website says : Bellydance performances every Friday & Saturday night at 10:15 PM but that day there was no performance and so the 'Men' were really dissapointed. Well, its too small a place for Belly dance I guess.
Thanks to Shweyta for giving me the chance to host the Cusine club this time and for all the help in selecting the Restaurant to sending the invites etc. Thanks to Preetam for helping me out as well and everybody who attended it on 10th April.
So the next Alphabet is 'N'. Who is hosting this times Cusine Club?
This was my first attempt at hosting a Cuisine Club dinner and thanks to Shweyta, it turned out to be easier than I had originally thought.
A tip of my hat goes to the Internet, for its large number of suggestions and reviews. Specifically, Yelp and CitySearch
A wag of my finder goes to Abhishek for his mis direction. Dearest Abhu had incorrectly informed me that I can pick anything with 'L'. It can be the name of the restaurant, or the street its on and does not have to be limited to the name of the cuisine. Thankfully, his attempts were futile.
After dabbling in Lebanese for 3 hours, I directed my internet search towards 'Latin'. Yelp was very helpful in limiting the search by 'BYOB'. Zafra kitchen in Hoboken appeared to be a wise choice.
My first blunder was ignoring the review "Not good for large groups". As luck would have it, the turnout was one of the biggest with 16 of us. Zafra's Kitchen was a small, hole in the wall, cozy little place and it became a lot cozier when all of us had to adjust within the confined space. I was amazed at the wait line that formed while we were dining.
My second mistake was underestimating the travel time. Closely followed by my third mistake of not having anyone's cellphone number on me. I am embarrassed to admit that I made it just in the nick of time and we came close to loosing out dinner reservations. But all's well that end's well. Or so I hope coz some of us had to leave a little earlier for various non-essential reasons.
The find of the month was the delicious sangria's that the place treated us to. This was a BYOB place and we were encouraged to bring our own wines. Per the online reviews, Zafra's kitchen made killer sangrias and they weren't lying. Both red and white, the sangria was probably the best I have ever tasted.
The food was excellent. I was impressed with the appetizers. Special mentions go to Patatas Bravas, Chorizo Encebollado, Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Frijol Refrito y Tres Quesos. The rellenos was my personal favorite.
Everyone appreciated the food. I had Camarones Coloraditos (a Shrimp in Red Mole Sauce over Fresh Corn Cuban-Style Polenta, Sautéed KaleUntil). which was good. I heard good reviews for Pollo con Mole Oaxaqueño (a Chicken with Authentic Oaxacan Mole, Rice, and Tortillas). Until we had to leave, some of us were still ordering tapas and the festivities were in full swing. Maybe some one from the remaining party can fill in the details of what transpired after our retreat. All in all, our first adventure out of Manhattan was quite rewarding and all of us had a good time.
A special thanks goes out to our patient waitress. She was excellent, helpful (and strangely like all the dishes I ordered). It was not easy to accommodate all of us given the confined quarters. Seeing the wait staff wade through the sea of humanity as they served our food, was a spectacle. The three row seating was definitely a first!
K was going to be Korean, but we ended up being Kabuli :) Korean would have been fun, but was more tried and tested and had lesser vegetarian options, than Kabuli; hence the choice. Teenie, the Hostess for 'K', picked Bamiyan, also known as one of the best Afghani/ Kabuli restaurants in the city for dinner and we were once again, a big group of 13 people who attended. The restaurant decor, among its other traditional Afghani artefacts, had a picture of the Afghan girl on one of its walls; a fact I found amusing personally. A global symbol of the country, framed in a photograph. The food, although similar sounding, was different from Indian food in its use of spices and herbs. We started off with hot fresh Afghani bread and multiple orders of the Kachaloo: turnovers filled with potatoes, herbs and spices; with yogurt dip on the side, which were really delicious. An after-thought led a few of us to order the Soltani Morgh Kabobs: one skewer of chicken breast and one skewer of Koobideh; with white basmati rice, since we concurred leaving the Afghan place without trying out Kabobs, might be a shame. An after-thought, well-thought of. For the main course, people across the table ordered various dishes ranging from the popular vegetarian Dal Chalow: gently cooked pureé of split peas and pomegranate juice; white basmati rice on the side to the distinctly unique Lowand Chalow: tender boneless chicken breast sauteéd in savory yogurt sauce, seasoned with fresh dill and tarragon; served with white basmati rice. Other entrees ordered across the table, included theKabuli Palowwith Chicken: browned baked basmati rice with tender pieces of chicken breast; topped with shredded carrots and raisins, the Quorma Chalow with Chicken: tender chicken breast cooked with fresh tomatoes, vegetables and lentils; with white basmati rice, the Chicken Curry: chicken breast sauteéd with fresh vegetables, curry and yogurt; with white basmati rice and the Fish Curry: fresh salmon sauteéd with fresh vegetables, curry and yogurt; with white basmati rice. Basmati saffron flavoured rice accompanied each dish and was cooked very tastefully, enough to be savored all by itself, as an entree too. The unanimous approval of the food was obvious across the table, with the Lowand Chalow being my personal favourite, because of its rich yogurt gravy, filled with herbs. As does usually happen at Cuisine Club dinners, we were too full by dessert time. Yet, to be fair to our sweet-teeth, we decided to order a round of the Malai-e Afghan; home made vanilla ice cream with rose water and honey and the Phirnee: creamy rice-flour pudding with pistachios and rose water, for the table. The phirnee was brilliant while the ice cream failed to arouse any compliments, due to its 'regular' taste. Maybe vanilla tastes the same all over the world, we concurred. All in all, this was, a fun evening with delicious food, that seemed to satiate everyone, to almost the same degree. Almost half the group was vegetarian and all of them left happy with their meal and their choices. Conversations ranged from geography to music as we discussed the common threads between Indian and Afghani culture to the origin/ sound of music from the 'santoor', the 'sitar' etc. Our waitress was extremely helpful and accommodating and the service was good. Being a large group we were seated in the back area of the restaurant, which is not as traditionally done up as the front, so a few of us felt like we missed out on the authentic Afghani spatial experience. But the food made up for this lack of experience and this place is a definite recommendation if you want to try out some good Afghani food.
Thanks Teenie, for picking this experience for us :)
I thought that having Jamaican food would be a good option instead of Japanese. That’s why I initially picked Negril Chelsea which specializes in authentic Jamaican food. However, the place had to be changed as it was a bit small for 11 people! The Negril chain has another Jamaican place called Negril Village which can accommodate large parties.
Negril Village located on 3rd street specializes in new style Jamaican food. The atmosphere is great with good music and a contemporized décor. The place was crowded when we reached there, but we didn’t have to wait for a long time as all of us were at the restaurant on time for our reservation!
We ordered carafes of Negril’s Mojito and regular mojito for drinks. Both were pretty good. I personally liked regular mojito more. For the appetizers we ordered jerk shrimp, salmon crab cakes and a Negril sampler which consisted of a platter of codfish fritters, jerk shrimp, jerk ribettes, collard green wontons with Island chips and homemade dips. All the appetizers were very tasty. Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which the meats are rubbed with a very hot spice mixture called the Jamaican jerk spice. The jerk shrimps were charcoal grilled and served with a jerk sauce. The salmon- crab cakes were garnished with corn chutney which added a different flavor to it.
Our server helped us well to order the main course. He recommended the sea food as their specialty - salmon and red snapper in particular. We ordered a variety of dishes such as HOUSE RED SNAPPER-Pan-fried whole fish simmered in fresh herbs and spices topped with stewed okra, RUM PAINTED JERK SALMON -Pan-seared filet, glazed with aged Mount Gay Rum and jerk marinade, CURRY GOAT STEW -Tender organic goat meat stewed in our house blend curries, with white rice or boiled green bananas, CURRY BONELESS CHICKEN- Trinidad style flat bread filled with chicken. The Red Snapper was a whole fried fish garnished with a very tasty sauce. This was served with any one side like boiled vegetables in garlic sauce, fried plantains, potato fries, and rice with peas, etc. The Jerk Salmon entrée was served with fried plantains and boiled vegetables. The Jerk sauce put over the salmon made it very spicy and different than most grilled fish filets I have had. The Curry Goat Stew looked flavorful as well; and I heard from the friend who had this, that it tasted so much like our Mumbai goat curry!!! Although I didn’t taste the goat curry, I’m sure it must have been very delicious. The Curry Boneless Chicken was rolled in flat bread. It looked like a burrito. All the entrees had big portions. All of us were so full after this meal, that we didn’t order any desserts.
The meals were also well spaced. There was enough time between the starters and entrees so that we could properly enjoy all the food and the drinks. Overall, the restaurant was very good. All of us loved the place and had a great time there!