An evening in photos, The Amsterdam, Rhinebeck, NY

I visit a friend in the Rhinebeck/Dutchess County area at least once a year.

Previously, we would spoil ourselves and have a nice meal at Another Fork In The Road.  That restaurant closed unexpectedly during the spring.  However, when one door closes, another one opens.  We had a wonderful meal at The Amsterdam last weekend, when I was in Rhinebeck.

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Housemade rosemary chips.  Very crispy and perfectly addicitive.

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Mushrooms with a soft egg.

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Arctic char with fingerling potatoes, grilled bok choy, grilled scallions and green goddess dressing.  In my previous post, I mentioned grilled scallions.  This is what I was referencing.  I could find no faults with this dish.

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Someone at my table ordered from the specials menu, short ribs braised in red wine.  Overall flavor was well received, but there was a comment that the ribs were not as fork tender as it should have been.

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Honey cakes for dessert.  They were delicious and not a monstrous size.

The photos aren’t even everything that was ordered for our table.  We ended up with some leftovers, which I in turn used to make a posh breakfast: toast with grilled green beans, mushrooms, and mixed nuts.  I am determined to make something like this again in my home kitchen on a weekend where I am feeling decadent.

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If you ever find yourself in Rhinebeck, NY, you should swing by The Amsterdam for a bite or two or ten.  (^_~)

https://www.lovetheamsterdam.com/

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A dinner worthy of waxing poetry, an Urban Hearth review

Well, no.  I’m not actually going to write poetry about dinner.  But I am happy to report that I finally got to eat dinner at Urban Hearth, a cute little restaurant found in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  *does a happy dance*

I was there back in the winter for the first time to try out their breakfast/lunch menu, and really enjoyed it.  I meant to attend dinner there for my birthday some time ago, but I had trouble planning it when one of my friends headed off to Europe for vacation.  Instead of another food-truck-adventure-staycation this summer, my sister suggested that we meet up and have dinner at Urban Hearth.

While Urban Hearth is a cafe with an a la carte menu during the day, it is a fixed price multi-course restaurant when the evening rolls around.  You have your choice between 3 course and 5 courses, and you can add a wine option as well.  We just did the 3 courses without wine.

Supper club dinner at #urbanhearth

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Our meal started with an aperol spritz aperitif.  Their version of aperol spritz had cava instead of prosecco.  I don’t drink much at all, but I did like this cocktail.

Then, the starters came out.  Technically, the starters are complimentary bites not listed on the menu.  Both my sister and I should have gotten the same starter, but my sister has trouble digesting corn products, so she got an heirloom tomato and mozzarella plate.  My plate was a tostada, it was really good and sign of the food to come:  elegant and seasonal, but familiar.  It had sweet corn kernels, avocado cream, zucchini, tomatoes, cheese, bell peppers, a natursium leaf, and probably cilantro too but very little.  (For which I am grateful for as I am anti-cilantro.  Sorry, cilantro fans.)

Aperol and cava aperitif #aperitif #aperolspritz

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Tostada for a starter #urbanhearth #tostada

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My sister's starter #urbanhearth #heirloomtomatoes

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For our official first course, I went with the peach panzanella with seared halloumi, fresh greens, and olive emulsion.  It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  It was well styled, and the halloumi was easily my favorite part of the plate, but the peaches weren’t as sweet as I had hoped, and the olive emulsion tasted like a puckerish vinaigrette.  The bread part of the panzanella was really torn pieces from a nice loaf of bread that still tasted fresh.  I guess I’m more accustomed to toasting cubes of old bread when I make panzanella.

My sister had the seared pork belly with English peas, kimchi, and radish.  It was really gorgeous, and the pork had an amazingly dark sear that was probably just seconds away from being burnt.  If I hadn’t chosen a meat heavy dish for my main course, I would have picked the pork belly for myself too.  I will say that I don’t know where the kimchi was.  Looking at the photo now, it looks like the plate had fresh and pickled radish.  I guess the pickled radish was the kimchi.

Peach panzanella with halloumi #peaches #halloumi

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Roasted pork belly with pea puree #porkbelly

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When the first course was done, my sister and I were just chatting and sipping on our aperol spritz (we’re very slow drinkers when it comes to booze as our entire family just really isn’t inclined to any variety of alcohol in general).  And then, the kitchen whipped out some steaming shishito peppers that had been seared in generous amounts of oil and topped with salt.  Normally, I’m not wowed by shishito peppers (meanwhile my friends love them lots) but these were pretty good.

By the time the entree dish came to the table, I was already nearly full of good food, but I was determined to see the evening to the end.  My second course was the beef tenderloin with chanterelles, kohlrabi dumplings, creme fraiche, greens, and blueberry sauce.  I wouldn’t have thought to pair beef with creme fraiche and blueberries, but it doesn’t seem strange to me at all.  I just never thought to do it.  It was fabulous.  And the kohrabi dumplings?  I loved that too.  The dumplings were basically like a potato gnudi except made from kohlrabi.  I’m very tempted to try making it at home.

Meanwhile, my sister had the pan seared striped bass with grilled shrimp.  She was also supposed to get spoonbread, but since that had cornmeal in it, the kitchen replaced it with kohlrabi dumplings (she also loved them).  Not a bad word was had about the dish.

After the entree, we got our last palate cleanser:  a little digestive/sugar cookie with elderberry jam fruit.  This delicious.  The cookie portion was a little sweeter than I personally like but not disgustingly so.  I guess the only bad thing about this palate cleanser was that I couldn’t really savor it.  It was the size of a two bite cookie, but you really had to one-shot it because the cookie crumbled the minute you bit into it.  (Not that I speaking from experience or anything…)

But the dessert plate?  That was something I got to savor as slowly as I wanted to.

Starting with my sister’s dessert, she got the chocolate bark.  Visually, it was beautiful.  I didn’t get to taste the chocolate, but I’m sure that it was good.  I did get to taste the olive oil sorbetto, on the other hand.  It was a little jarring at how savory it was, especially after the digestive cookie.  It was made with a good quality oil, but extra virgin olive oil is a very distinctive flavor.  My sister was confused when she first ate it because she forgot that it was listed as olive oil on the menu.

Chocolate bark and olive oil sorbetto #chocolate #oliveoil

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My sister may have picked the better first course, but we agreed that my dessert was the better of the two, which was the huckleberry pie with ginger whipped cream and basil oil garnish.

It was less elegant looking dessert, but the huckleberry mini pie tasted amazing with the ginger hints in the cream.  I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the basil oil but I eventually found myself wanting a bit more of it on my plate.  Right now, I want to try infusing some ginger into some heavy cream (oooh, and I can too, I have some heavy cream in the fridge this very moment), just so that I can whip it up and served it on a pie.  Or a galette.  Whatever you want to call it, I don’t care.  (puts ginger whipped cream on the to-do-list)

If you are in the area, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend stopping by Urban Hearth.  Whether you just want to stop for coffee and breakfast, or whether you’ve got plans to spoil yourself for dinner.  My sister and I are already planning our next visit.

https://www.urbanhearth.net/

Milk Street Kitchen’s Open House

Milk Street Kitchen (which I could also call Milk Street Magazine, Milk Street Cooking School, Milk Street Radio, or even Milk Street TV) had an open house this evening.

Here’s how it went…

:: I got a goodie bag from Che Maksou salon. There’s a little bottle of conditioner, shampoo, and some sort of “salt infused spray designed to work with other volume infusing products.” Uh, ok. BUT HOLY COW THE LABELS SAY THAT THE PRODUCTS ARE WORTH $30 ALTOGETHER.  So, I’m looking forward to testing out some hair products in the near future.

:: We got to taste some recipes. There was, I think, a recipe from every issue of the magazine so far.  There was Thai Steak Salad, Chili-Lime Melon Salad, Spanish Spice Crusted Pork Bites, Thai Coleslaw with Mint and Cilantro, and Tahini-Swirl Brownies. The brownies were good but I couldn’t taste the tahini. I was grossed out by the coleslaw because I didn’t realize that there was cilantro in it until I tucked into it. Having said that, it was still pretty decent. The other flavors of the salad helped to make the cilantro less disgusting. lol!  (Yes, I am anti-cilantro.  Sorry, not sorry.)

I did stay away from the steak salad from the start because I could tell immediately that it had cilantro. I’ve made my peace with not eating the steak because the pork dish was delicious!  I ate a handful of that. Overall, I think the fruit salad was my favorite. So, I had a good serving of that too.

:: Andi Wolfgang, founder of NamaKiss, was there with samplings of her chocolates. I really liked them! The chocolates were the reason I was inclined to go to the open house. It turns out that I can get her chocolates just a couple of blocks away from where I live, so I’ll probably stop by the store sooner rather than later to pick up some. There was a goji chocolate fudge square (it also had a seed in it but I don’t remember what… pepita maybe?) that was my least favorite just because it didn’t see that special to me. I really liked the coffee bean chocolate fudge and the peanut butter chocolate fudge. The citrus vanilla truffle was good too.

:: BRIX Wine Shop had samples.  I don’t drink wine so I stayed away.  But they were quite popular.

::  There were cooking demos throughout the evening but I only watched the steak salad demo.  Overall, the evening was lively and fun.  I just didn’t want to spend my whole evening by myself watching demos in a crowded room.  Plus I have access to all the magazine issues so far, so I’m not worried about getting a copy of any recipe.

: : And of course, there were issues of the magazine available.  The issue was the March-April one, which is where the tahini brownie recipe lives.

All in all, I was glad I went.  And I’ll be returning to Milk Street Kitchen this month for a cooking class.  As long as I’m not lazy, I’ll do a write up on that too.

Nüssli118° day tote unboxing and review

First of all, what?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what you’re asking yourself right now.

Nüssli118° is a raw foods store in North Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They sell a variety of snacks, smoothies, and juices.  It’s not fancy shmancy (or is the correct description “celebrity hip”?) like Sakara Life.  Their website isn’t filled with slick sounding product descriptions like Splendid Spoon (which I might try some day because they do make their soups sound very tasty!).

Now, I’m not vegan or a raw foodist (I’m not even vegetarian) in any way, but I do get curious about the raw food culture.   I guess it’s because I do like diversity in my meals, and healthy is always appreciated.

I’ve had a some Nüssli118° products in the past.   There was some sort of ginger round, chocolate pecan squares, and their chocolate cashew smoothie.  All of which were delicious.  So, I’ve been really curious about the Nüssli118° day tote for a few months now.

From their website:

The Nüssli118° Kitchen Share Day Tote is a day’s worth of delicious meals, drinks, and snacks delivered to your home or office once a week.  The products are ready-to-eat right out of the mason jar or to be gently warmed, served, and savored.  Either way, they will nourish, satisfy, and energize you throughout your day.  Each Kitchen Share Day Tote includes 2 drinks, 3 meals, 1 savory, and 2 sweets.  We look at what’s in season, combine fresh, great tasting, high quality ingredients, and create delicious nutrient-dense meals.  They are all organic, plant-based, and ready-to-eat, just enjoy!

Oooooh

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Note, you can save money on the delivery fee by picking up the tote yourself.  The tote I picked up was this:

Week of April 10, 2017  Kitchen Share Day Tote:

Pineapple Turmeric Fresca
Vanilla Chai Smoothie
Chia Pudding Topped with Kiwi, Orange, and Apple
Butternut Squash Soup
Taco Salad
Garlic & Herb Crackers
Super Dark Chocolate Rounds
Lemon Ginger Square

Unboxing

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If you go through my photos, you’ll notice that I didn’t get the taco salad.  That’s because I’m allergic to raw celery and raw carrots.  So, the store provided their mango kale salad as a substitute.

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Overall, I liked this salad.  I just wished that there had been a bit more of it.  Besides kale and mango, there was jicama, lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup and red pepper flakes.  And since I was still hungry, I went ahead and had the soup.  (Afterward, I remembered that each jar in my tote was technically a meal. Oh well.)

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You can have the soup hot or cold.  It was a really nice warm spring day in Boston, so I went for it cold.  I liked this meal too.  The cranberries and parsley helped to jazz up the otherwise plain tasting squash soup.  I might have forgotten that cashews were in the soup and topped it with a tablespoon of hemp seed from my pantry.

Regarding the snacks, this is where Nüssli118° really shines.

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No surprise, the super dark chocolate rounds were my favorite from the tote.  The rosemary crackers were a close second.  The lemon ginger squares were my least favorite only because it’s a little too sweet for my personal preference.  But the texture is great.  It’s got crunch from the nuts but it’s not hard on the teeth.  The brightness of the lemon flavor shines through, but I’m not sure I could taste ginger much.  At the end of the day though, I’m always pro-chocolate.  The rounds are quite dense, but the chocolate flavor satisfies quite nicely.

Finally, I had the chia pudding for breakfast the morning after I picked up the tote.  I was unsure if I was going to like it.  Generally, I stay away from chia seeds because they get stuck in my teeth too easily.  Maybe because I had let the chia pudding sit for so long, I didn’t really have an issue.  It would have been boring if it hadn’t been for the fruit topping – apples, kiwi, and oranges – even though the pudding says it was spiced with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.  I could tell that the pudding wasn’t just chia, cashews, and water.  However, the spices were really muted.

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As for the drinks?  The cashew vanilla smoothie was good.  Not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly not the worst.  It’s just a basic cashew smoothie.  The tote list says vanilla chai, but the bottle I had was just vanilla.  The ingredients were water, cashews, dates, coconut oil, vanilla, and Himalayan salt.  The pineapple turmeric was probably my least favorite thing in the whole tote, and that’s just personal preference.  I found the turmeric flavor to overpower every other flavor.  The ingredient list is pineapple, water, mango, orange, lemon, maple syrup, turmeric, and cayenne.  I could barely taste the pineapple.  I really couldn’t taste any mango or orange.

So, would I do this again?  Quite possibly.  It’s not cheap.  It’s $65 and then there’s a $10 deposit for the tote and the mason jars.  If you return the tote and mason jars, you can get a $10 credit toward your next purchase.  I like that the packaging is reusable, and am not against the deposit.  Overall, the quality of everything is great.  (And it had better be!  Everything is organic, and some ingredients have been sprouted.)  The experience has definitely given me ideas on things to make at home.  It also makes me want to work on snack recipes.  But chances are pretty high that I’ll probably be lazy and swing by Nüssli118° when I’m hankering for healthy crisps and sweets.  (^_^)

Links:
http://nussli118.com/

Disclaimer – This post was not sponsored in any way.  A family member purchased the tote for me as a gift.  I just wanted to share my excitement.

NYE dinner, the Puritan + Co. edition

(The menu below was altered from the published menu to reflect what was available at the time of dining.  I forgot to take a photo of the actual menu, so I bet this isn’t 100% accurate since I’m doing it from memory.)

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2015

First

Kampachi Crudo
fennel, orange, olive, fried quinoa

Duck Confit and Sausage
sweet potato, lentils, pistachio

Grilled Mushroom Salad
potato, marjoram, egg yolk caramel

Seared Foie Gras Skillet ($12 supplement)
black pepper gougeres, gooseberries, whipped honey

Second

Cauliflower and Black Truffle Soup
thyme oil, parmesan, salsify

Salt-Roasted Beets
aged goat cheese, hazelnut, rye cracker

Baby Greens and Chicories
avocado, pinenut, grapefruit

Lobster Bisque ($10 supplement)
crab cake, coconut, basil

Main

Potato and Herb Gnocchi
brown butter, chestnut, parmesan

Seared Scallops
parsnip, brussels, pomegranate

Roasted Duck Breast
fennel, spiced carrots, dried fruit jus

40-day Dry Aged Bone-in Sirloin Steak ($15 supplement)
potato mille fuielle, black trumpets, bordelaise

Dessert

beeramisu

Indian Pudding
port, cornmeal, fig

Chocolate Mousse Trifle
hazelnut, brown butter cream, praline

hot apple cider
armagnac, fig, warm spices

might i?
tiki-style rum cocktail

czech & balance 
slivovitz, lillet blanc, burnt orange

church
gin, aperol, lemon

paper plane
bourbon, nonino amaro, lemon

pisticci cocktail
lucano amaro, privateer rum, sweet vermouth

thaw in the straw
bourbon, honey, lemon, ginger beer

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The crudo.  The person who ate this liked the fried quinoa best.

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Return to Deacon Giles Distillery

Deacon Giles was fully operational and open on weekends to the public at the end of October, but I didn’t have a chance to visit them again until today.  Everything looked great.  I could not be happier for founders Ian and Jesse.

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There were glasses on the table with aromatic samples of the herbs and spices that went into the gin.  I’m not sure if I can remember them all, but I remember: juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, cardamom pods, angelica root, rosehips, and mace.

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Above:  The “Chief Alchemist” pouring tasting samples to guests.

Deacon Giles rum and gin are slowly making their way into Greater Boston.  So far, they have a decent distribution around the North Shore area.

If you ever visit Salem, MA, I highly recommend visiting the distillery too!

Reference Link:
http://www.deacongiles.com/

A weekend dinner in pictures

I was in Dutchess County, New York, this past weekend.  Do you know what that means?

Dinner at Another Fork in the Road!

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Our menu for the evening – but the chicken under a brick had been replaced by fried chicken.  And now that I think about it, I think the kimchi brussel sprouts were unavailable.  I think it was more of a kimchi sauce that was on the plate.  Something had been sold out – maybe the rabbit meatballs?

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The cauliflower appetizer.  I only tasted a little bit of it because I am anti-cilantro, but what I tasted of it was very good.

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The kale and mussel toast.  OMG!  So good!

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The scallops platter was not mine, but I think it was the best of the entrees at our table.  I think I’m probably biased toward any plate with perfectly cooked scallops.

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The fried chicken was superb!  The sauce was spicy and very red, so I think it might have had gochujang in it.  The scallion pancake was a floppy disappointment though.  I guess I can’t have it all.

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The duck and soba soup was mine.  The broth and the duck were delicious.  Yes, that is cilantro you see.  Yes, I picked it all off.  In my defense, cilantro was not mentioned in the menu description for this dish.  The soba noodles were oddly a little bitter?  I wonder if they had been dressed in sauce before being added to the soup.

If for some weird reason you’re in Red Hook, NY, or elsewhere in Dutchess County, I still recommend having a meal here.

Reference Link:
https://www.facebook.com/anotherforkintheroad/