Friday, February 18, 2011

NYC Restaurant Week: Girls Night Out @ Centrico!

I'm really lucky to have a very diverse group of sexy, sassy, and amazing ladies to call friends. But, our lives are so busy nowadays, we hardly have time to cross paths as a group. I've already been to two other restaurants (Blue Smoke and Hill Country = AMAZING) for RW, but I really wanted to do a ladies-only affair. I made my BFF Michelle in charge of where we were going to eat, and she chose Centrico, Aaron Sanchez's take on upscale Mexican cusine in Tribeca.

When we got there, the only word I could think of was: warmth. Everything from the lighting to the brass tables conveyed this immediate sense of comfort and classiness. The menu for RW was a very nice selection from all over the regular menu. I ordered the Camarones y Pozole, the Pollo a la Brasas, and for dessert, Tres Leches cake.

For the whole table, we started with homemade chips and guac.

The chips were amazing, crunchy and warm, with a nice dose of salt. I prefer my guacamole with some more onions and spices, but theirs was still good.

My starter, shrimp in a creamy Guajillo chili sauce sitting on a bed of ground, crispy pozole (hominy), was ridiculous. If there was a way to get that delicious sauce pumped into my veins via I.V., I would make it happen. The brininess of the shrimp combined with the crunchy, yet creamy pozole was a revelation.

Next up, my beautiful, simple grilled chicken, which sat up upon hominy in a fragrant broth. The menu referred to it as "recado", which is a blend of spices including annato, cumin, Mexican oregano, among others. The meat was extremely tender and the flavors from the spices went all the way down to the bone. Another instance where I wanted to lick the plate.

Okay guys, let's get serious. Can we get serious? Can we talk about how FANTASTIC this Tres Leches cake was? REAL.TALK. Moist, obscenely decadent and sweet, and a hidden layer of dulce de leche!!! I'm a huge fan of three milk cake (milk, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream), and this was the best I've ever had. I loved the raspberry sauce too, its tartness against the sweet milky mixture...I swear I'm gonna start talking dirty if I'm forced to explain how much I liked this cake. INSANITY.

Centrico was the perfect backdrop to a NYC girls night out. Great wine, conversation, and incredible food to bond over. You know when the meal is legit when the only noises coming from a table of 5 girls are sighs because the food is so good. Cheers, ladies!

*Sidebar: Girls, make sure you comment below and tell everyone what you ate and how you liked it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Home of the Itis? Dinner @Pies 'n' Thighs in Brooklyn!

I can be rather cranky when I have a cold, and trekking around South Williamsburg on a cold, rainy, icy evening (whilst sick!) wasn't the way I'd usually want to spend a Wednesday night.

But, I did it for food.

My friend and I braved the elements to sample the wares of Pies 'N' Thighs in Brooklyn. Slightly salacious name? Check. Hipster location? Double check. But could it deliver the culinary goods, or at least deliver enough to make a sick EB's tummy happy?

Once we were safely ensconced inside, we settled in and prepared to eat the cold away. I ordered the Chicken Biscuit (which I had already tried at the Mulberry Street X-mas Market and fell in love with), and John got the Fried Chicken Box with a side (he chose macaroni and cheese) and a biscuit. Our server suggested that we get the Superbowl pick of sides so we could get a big variety...who were we to disagree? John chose collard greens and hush puppies, and I picked the black eyed peas just so I could say that we had another veg option that wasn't fried and/or cooked with bacon.

I have to admit...I blanched a bit when I saw the size of the portions. When you're sick you lose a lot of your appetite, at least I do. Everything looked so delicious, but I wasn't sure if I could eat it all. Had to give it the good ol' college try, right? And just for good measure, we got two pieces of cornbread.

"Oh Chicken Biscuit...Where have you been all my life? I know you've been off cuddling with your amazingly golden and flaky biscuit...thank you for coming out to play on my plate."

Okay, obviously, I didn't say this aloud. But hot damn, this was good, even better than the first time. Juicy, hot chicken, co-mingling with spicy, sweet sauces; this combination just couldn't lose. In between each bite, I nibbled on the cornbread, which HAD to be cooked on some sort of griddle to get that sexy, crunchy exterior. Amen.

John's fried chicken pieces were equally as tasty....but not served warm. They were sorta room temperature. I know fried chicken can be served at almost any temp, but I like my chix hot straight from the fryer. I'd eat it scalding hot dropped into my mouth if I wasn't scared of burning my mouth into oblivion! The mac and cheese was also good, and very creamy, riddled with scarlet red hot sauce.

The hush puppies were like less sweet versions of the cornbread, but deep fried. I was extremely okay with this concept. So teeny and pop-able! They were drizzled with some white sauce, which I wasn't so crazy about, so I ate the hush pups that were unscathed.

I'm pretty particular about collard greens, these were okay, nothing to blog home about. But, by this point, my hunger had been piqued, and I was shoveling forkfuls of food into my mouth. My taste buds were definitely getting sluggish from all the hot, rich food. Thank God for the black eyed peas! We were thinking that we were getting  a hot side dish, but the the BEPs were dressed with a snappy vingar-y dressing and served cold. It was delicious and so refreshing.

And then...there was pie. You didn't think we could eat much more, did you? Well...we split a piece of Banana Cream Pie, only because I knew if I had a slice to myself, I'd probably split in two. Incredibly tasty thick crust, a layer of bananas, thin layer of vanilla custard, and a cloud of whipped cream. Sweet.Jesus.

No picture because my camera fails at life. Whatever, I didn't even care, the pie was just TOO good. Creamy, cold, sweet, just rich enough to not make me pass out. Good work, Pies 'N' Thighs!

Can I suggest a slogan for you guys, though?

"Pies 'N' Thighs of Williamsburg, Home of the 'Itis!"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Food Memories - Strawberries, Saltines, Whipped cream

It was afternoon and there were no more cooking shows on; PBS has switched over to painting and it wasn't Bob Ross! So it didn't hold my interest. I was 8 years old, no one was home, and I was feeling snackish. Opening every kitchen cabinet in the kitchen revealed a frightening expanse of wood, which is an adult way of saying that the cupboards were looking very bare. There were a lot of things I didn't like in there: sardines, Horlicks Malted Milk powder, jars of olives. There was, however, a box of saltine crackers. That and some cheese was the simplest way to my heart.

No cheese in the fridge. This was turning into a problem....but wait! There were strawberries (a fruit that was certainly invented by Jesus, because it was so good) and whipped cream in a can. Somehow I got the idea to top the saltines with slices of strawberries and a healthy squirt of whip. I crowded my experiments one by one onto a plate and settled down in time to watch Tiny Toon Adventures.

Crunchy. Juicy. Salty and sweet. The blandness of the crackers, and the slight tang of a an under-ripe berry. Creaminess. Red stained fingers.  I marveled at my ingenuity, hugged my stuffed Pooh bear, and felt sweet relief: starvation abated.