Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Potato Cakes Experiment

I admit it. I'm a potato girl. I love them pretty much any which way... mashed, baked, fried, with toppings, without toppings... Well you get the picture.

So it just so happened that after the Food Glut that is Thanksgiving, The Fiance and I ended up with a rather impressive load of leftovers, among which delicious, delicious mashed potatoes figured prominently. Now I'm not much for eating the same thing in the same way... (though The Fiance would have been perfectly happy just to heat a bowl of potatoes and chomp on it as he gleefully romped through his new computer game...) The dilemma before me then was how to perk up the poor spuds.

This was my solution. I had some leftover roasted carrots and onions, about a cup and a half I'd say, so I mashed them up. Then I threw in about three cups of mashed potatoes. Now this is all pretty approximate but don't worry you really can't get this wrong. Two eggs and a couple of handfuls of flour made the whole thing into a a type of batter. Some salt, pepper, a little garlic... Season as you like. Then I used a standard ice cream scoop and popped the cakes onto a foil covered and sprayed down cookie sheet. In the oven they went at 375 and when they were almost done they got a nice cheese treatment - cheddar but use any you like. The cheese melted and became like a little blanket over the yummy potato rounds.

The cakes were soft, slightly orange from the carrots and the cheese and very yummy, subtly flavored with the veggies and the garlic. I think though next time I'm going to let them brown before adding cheese as they were a little too soft for me.

Now keep in mind, you can really throw in any veggie you like. Even something crunchy and diced up to give the cakes more texture... Hmm that actually sounds nice... And you really can't fail this. Easy, pretty and delicious. Leftovers at their best.

Happy Eating,

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eating Like Royalty

Restaurant week caught me by surprise this year. Thankfully my lovely Alyza (no, not her real name) was far more on the ball and posted about it in her blog. In a fit of panic, I ran to check Newsday and has an out of body experience.

Louis XVI, the glorious and expensive Patchogue restaurant, was participating.

I read about Louis XVI some time ago on the wonderful Long Island Food Blog and immediately fell in futile love with it. Futile because as a poor law student, this place is WAY out of my budget.

But that's okay because Restaurant Week has fulfilled my dream and sated my love.

Despite my late entry into the game, Lady Luck was with me for although that week was all booked up the wonderful people at Louis XVI were extending the deal to Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday of this week. So after a quick, begging phone call to my longsuffering, beloved fiance (who would have much rather gone to a BBQ place instead) I booked a reservation for Wednesday at 8:00pm

I admit it. I was nervous. Nervous and very, very excited. The Fiance reluctantly donned nice clothes as I bounced around the apartment and startled The Cat. Finally, we were on our way.

It was a dark, foggy night and the lights spilling gently from the restaurant windows created a dreamy, magical atmosphere that remained unbroken when we entered through the heavy doors. The aroma permeating the air was delectable, almost creamy.

We were seated right away. Unfortunately it looks like the place lacks two-tops, i.e. tables for two, but we made do with a four-top. Almost immediately, literally within seconds, we were asked for our drink order (we didn't get any cause The Fiance doesn't drink and I don't like drinking alone...) and then given water, a basket of rolls and a plate with molded butter.

The rolls... well. There were three kinds. One was a walnut roll which I thought was very good, warm and well textured, with chunks of actual nuts mixed in. The finger shaped plain roll was delicious too, also nicely warmed and went very well with butter. The third wasn't a roll. It was some sort of bread made from something orange. Neither I nor The Fiance could identify what it was and neither of us was too fond of it.

Then came the compliments from the chef. A rectangular white plate was adorned with three individual amuse bouches. On the left was a goat cheese cube hugged by thin bits of bread. The olives mixed into it were a surprise but a welcome one, cutting the creaminess with the sharp salty undertone. In the middle was a little cup of broccoli soup, warm and perfectly smooth with a well balanced creamy flavor. On the right was a cube of salmon with its own thin bread adornment. It didn't seem to have any added flavorings but the fish was firm and meaty, delicious au naturel. I had both mine and The Fiance's cause he's silly and picky. He only tried the soup and didn't like it but I promise it was him and not the soup.

The appetizers came out next. My foie gras was smooth and sweet and coated my tongue delicately. It was at its best with a bit of the greens, their faint bitterness cutting the richness down, the flavors playing each other up. The berry compote was very sweet and I wasn't terribly entranced by it. The last one was the most... peculiar shall we say. Thinly sliced pickles were suspended in a pickle gelee and formed into an oval. It was definitely avant garde but it may have been a little too much for me.

The Fiance played it safer. He had the baby arugula and French string bean salad with tomato coulis and shaved pecorino cheese. I will proudly admit to snatching some off his plate. The beans were a perfect tender-crisp and made an interesting combination with the more bitter arugula and the sharp cheese. The coulis added a little sweetness that unfortunately for The Fiance kept me coming back to his plate with my fork.

But more was to come and he was right to tell me not to stuff myself. (Not that it stopped me mind you.) Our entrees arrived right on time. My shredded beef spare ribs were cradled delicately in a baby pumpkin, the top of it leaning against the side. The menu claimed that this was accompanied by a compote of fingerling potatoes and a spinach coulis. Well it definitely sat on some delectable, smooth, green-flecked mashed potatoes and there was definitely a lovely of green on my plate. The thing is, there were also two orange colored quenelles that tasted like a combination of potato and pumpkin, perfectly pureed and rich. I ate every bite.

The Fiance went with the chicken. Roasted organic chicken with an orange-peppercorn sauce sauce and a fricassee of autumn baby vegetables. He loved it no questions asked. And before you ask, yes I did sneak some. The chicken was tender and moist and the vegetables perfectly tender-crisp. There was an odd tomato on his plate and I was a little confused as it wasn't a winter vegetable and definitely tasted out of season but I think I can forgive the chef for that.

And then... the crowning touch. Dessert. Before I tell you about that I must share my small bit of disappointment. We were asked if we wanted any coffee with our dessert. The Fiance declined - he doesn't generally drink hot beverages. I ordered tea. Interestingly enough I never got my tea but The Fiance got a coffee he didn't ask for. I was curious if they'd ever remember so I didn't say anything and alas they never did. However overall it only cost them a few points in service as otherwise the waiter was prompt with the delivery and quick to remove emptied dishes and refill our water.

So back on track. The dessert. The mango mousse cake was my favorite. It was airy and just sweet enough, melting in my mouth like a cloud. The chocolate mousse was great too, intense and creamy and not too sweet. The orange cake wasn't to my taste though. It was so lightly sweetened that in comparison it tasted very bland, though it had a very nice soft texture. The plate of petit fours was very yummy too. There was a small, delicately flavored vanilla cake that I ate with the small cube of delicious jam. And there was a cube of something that tasted like nuts and caramel and I would love to know what it was because I'd love to try making it at home. The Fiance seemed most enamored with the little vanilla cake and the chocolate mousse, which I'd call a complete triumph for the chef because The Fiance doesn't even like chocolate mousse. He also let me eat his mango mousse cake and for that I love him muchly.

He did drink that coffee by the way. And he liked it...

After all of that we were both just teetering on the edge of too full and it was definitely a happy feeling. Between the food and the gracious service I think the experience was worth every single penny.

Oh Louis XVI, our love affair continues...


Louis XVI
600 South Ocean Ave
Patchogue, NY 11772

Sunday, August 19, 2007

News Bulletin

The Smokehouse Grill closed a few months ago. As per the signs, Taste is due to replace it. I'll miss the place.

The lovely Italian bakery down the street from my place has also closed. A fajita place will be opening there. I will also miss the cream puffs.

I will endeavor to review both new places when they open.


Perking up the end days of summer

For most Americans summer means one very important thing: barbeque.

The Fiance definitely can't get enough of grilled burgers and hotdogs and steaks.

I however tend to get bored of it all pretty easily. Maybe it's that I'm an immigrant and didn't see my first burgers until I was 9.

My parents however got into the barbeque thing too. They bought a giant, shiny gas grill and proudly positioned it in the back yard. As my mother believes I am the queen of marinades, it generally falls to me to prep anything she didn't buy pre-marinated.

Yesterday that was the shrimp. I love shrimp. I think they're sweet, delicious morsels of yumminess. That was what inspired me. I apologize for lack of amounts but I never measure.

-1lb peeled, deveined shrimp
-good splash of olive oil
-good splash of ume plum vinegar
-healthy dash of basil
-crushed up bay leaf or two
-pinch or two of paprika
-salt and pepper to taste
-crushed and minced garlic, 4-5 cloves (add or subtract to taste)
-small splash of lemon juice
(I didn't have any cayenne but I would have added a little if I did.)

Mix up the marinade in a bowl. Dump in the shrimp. You want for there to be about a half cup of marinade on the bottom of the bowl as the shrimp absorbs the marinade slowly and what is left over should be used to baste the shrimp as they grill. Give it about a half hour to sit before putting the shrimp on skewers (if they're wooden skewers, soak them beforehand for a few hours) and plopping them on the grill. Baste them occasionally and cook until opaque and pink.

Serve the shrimp as an appetizer or over a fresh spinach salad with an oil and vinegar dressing.

I got a lot of requests for the recipe from family but I merely smiled mysteriously and so should you. After all they won't be impressed when they find out how easy it is.

Happy Grilling!

Saving Summer

Long Island manages to exist in a lovely dichotomy, so close to both the busy urban streets of New York and the serene farms of the Forks. It is the farms that interest me this weekend. It's an open secret that I absolutely adore stone fruits, especially peaches. I've been begging my friend Knight for ages to send me some peaches from Georgia since he lives so near it but alas he has only mocked me.

So this leaves me with a continued dilemma: what do I do when the summer is over and the peaches are out of season, from California and taste like cardboard?

The answer, as it turns out, is pretty obvious: JAM!

There is a great farm-strand in my town, down on Lakeland Ave, somewhere between Montauk and Sunrise. The friendly folk sell bright cherry tomatoes, tempting ears of corn, many other veggies and currently... peaches and nectarines.

I have never made jam before so I enlisted my friend Lensherr. We picked out a lb of white peaches, which are sweeter but not as peachy flavored as the yellow ones, and three lbs of the yellow ones. Then we got about 2 lbs of nectarines. On a lark, we picked up two boxes of strawberries and one box of blueberries to make nectarine-berry jam.

There is a home goods store in Sayville on Montauk, Four Star, I think. It had the jars, the pectin, the funnel, and tongs. We improvised with pots I already had.

Stone fruits as it turns out must be skinned. You have two options. You can use a peeler or you can pop them in boiling water for a minute then upend them into a pot with water and ice to stop the cooking process and the skins should come off easily. We peeled. It was a ridiculous sight with the ripe fruits leaking their juices onto our clothes and hands and peels flying everywhere, my cat curiously poking at the ones landing near him.

Then we had to chunk up the fruit. Somehow Lensherr cut his hand on a pit and I dropped a knife on my foot. Somehow we managed to get two pots, one full of chunky cut peaches and the other chunky cut nectarines. A note on the size of the chunks: if you don't own an immersion blender, do yourself a favor and cut the fruit very small.

We then cut the green off the strawberries, sliced them and threw them and the blueberries in with the nectarines.

At the same time, we drowned the jars and lids in a big pot and set it to boiling.

So there we were, water heating to sterilize jars, and two pots full of fruit. Despite what your intuition tells you, you don't need to add water to the fruit. You just need to add pectin and sugar at a 1:.5 ratio. We edged on the safe side and used three packages of pectin between the two pots though the instructions claim it should be a 1 to 1 ratio. Better safe than sorry though I think. Then we let them cook. They cooked. And cooked. And cooked. And still looked chunky.

At this point I had an epiphany and we demolished those chunks with a handy immersion blender. As the jam was now boiling, we added about three cups of sugar to each pot. You can add a bit less or more considering how sour the fruit you're using is. Lensherr skimmed off any foam and we let it come to boil again.

Then Lensherr fished out the sterilized jars (I don't handle the hot stuff cause I burn myself... all the time), placed a funnel on the first one and slowly ladled the very very hot sticky goo into it. We ended up with 2 12oz jars of each and about a cup of the nectarine-berry jam leftover. He then placed the lids on and screwed on rings. When the jars cooled, we put them in the closet, where they can live for about 3-6 months.

Mission accomplished and a lot easier than we expected.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Today we made another law school escape. Justice Boy (upgraded from Justice), Ms. I'm an Italian NOT a Greek (changed from Islip Girl and forthwith to be known as Not-a-Greek), and I went out for Turkish food.

In my head, there was a joyful cheering of "SHISH-KEBABS! SHISH-KEBABS!"

The Mediterranean Kebab House is, as Not-a-Greek out it, a hole in the wall. It's cute, almost kitschy, with knickknacks and paintings of Turkey decorating the walls. Each table has an unopened bottle of peach nectar or cherry juice. Our table had the peach and we opted to drink it. It was good, thick and sweet. I would have preferred it chilled but that's a personal quirk.

Justice Boy asked for pita bread (which I think they should have brought out without being asked) and that was good, thick and chewy.

We shared a simple appetizer: feta and parsley wrapped in phylo dough, served on a bed of shredded lettuce and carrots, with a few tomato slices. The cheese was deliciously salty and creamy, perfectly balanced by the slight tang of the parsley and the crunchiness of the dough. I ate it with a tomato slice to cut the richness a bit, though I wouldn't recommend the tomato by itself - it's obviously out of season.

Not-a-Greek and I also had lentil soup. It was pureed, not too thick, and redolent with spice and just a touch of fire. It also made an excellent dip for my pita.

Ironically, we all ordered the same lunch special - a lamb kebob served with rice and salad. The lamb was tender and gently spiced, practically melting in my mouth. The rice was simple, well cooked and almost savory-sweet. The salad, I was bored with. Lettuce with some sort of dressing - nothing special.

Not-a-Greek and I were full at this point but Justice Boy had Turkish coffee, which he heavily sugared and then proclaimed good.

It was definitely an inexpensive and good meal.

Here's the downside. The service was lackluster. The food did come out at a reasonable rate but the waiters looked bored by the whole ordeal. Not-a-Greek commented she thought they were gossiping about us based on several things they did as they conversed in Turkish. Turned out Justice Boy understood Turkish and after we left he told us what had been said. The waiters pegged Justice Boy and Not-a-Greek as Greeks, which was half right, and me as a Croatian, and then proceeded to make some unpalatable and inappropriate remarks. Justice Boy disclaims that his Turkish is rudimentary and he may have misunderstood but certain words were present.

So there you have it.


Mediterranean Kebab House
190 Post Ave
Westbury, NY 11568

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gluttony is not MY sin!

Today food was used as law school therapy. Two of my friends and I made a break for it and went on a quest for the ultimate in the "excellent ingredients simply prepared" philosophy: sushi. The restaurant chosen for this adventure was recommended by another friend of mine, Faust, and I must thank him with every fiber of my food obsessed being. Minado is a reportedly excellent sushi buffet that boasts a number of locations.

The location we visited was adorable. It was cleanly lit with subtle wooden furniture and gleaming buffet settings. A minor nitpick is that the four-seater tables are a little small and result in a slight limiting of movement.

I have to admit that we didn't bother to inquire the price, so impressed we were by our first sight of the place. We caught the beginning of the lunch rush, before the crowds descended, and so were quickly seated and brought our drinks. One friend, Mr. Future Supreme Court Justice (henceforth referred to as Justice =D ), ordered sake, which he intended to share with the third member of our party, Islip Girl (who needs a better cute and snarky nickname). The sake, which I didn't have due to my designation as DD, was approved by Justice but not a huge hit with Islip Girl, a first time sake consumer.

Then, like a wild pack of hungry hyenas, we descended on the sushi side of the buffet. There was a wide variety of sushi and sashimi: tuna, crab, mackerel, shrimp, etc. There weren't a lot of the standard (read: old, tired, boring) rolls, but there were plenty of other delicious options like spicy shrimp rolls. The fish was all fresh, firm and smooth. The only downside is leaving the rice from your sushi in your plate creates a 30% surcharge. So come hungry!

There was also a hot entry buffet. My favorite were the small crab cake balls and the flat corn-crab cakes. Real crab and really delicious, especially with the sauces generously provided on the side. The veggie gyozas were so-so but the BBQ beef more than made up for them.

We passed on the salad and soup options - I don't believe in wasting stomach space at buffets.

What we didn't pass was the dessert table. A rainbow of cakes cut into small rectangles so we could glut on all of them. I can personally vouch for the banana, carrot, lemon and strawberry cakes. They were light and fluffy, delicately flavored and simply scrumptious. The little profiteroles, of which I think I had a dozen, were simple and sweet, made all the more wonderful by a smearing of strawberry yogurt, which was somewhat random in the line-up of tasty treats.

Oh and the kicker? $14.50 per person. Yes. You read that right. Damn I love lunch specials. We WILL be returning.


Minado Sushi Buffet
219 Glen Cove Rd,
Carle Place, NY 11514

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Third Time is a Curse

Friday, The Boyfriend called and suggested we go out to eat. Unlike last time, it wasn't a choice between out and leftovers. Oh no. It was a choice between real food and ramen. We really needed to go shopping.

So okay. Fine. Let's go out.

Meanwhile the Holy Lime imed me and asked if we wanted to go out with him and his lovely, blonde girlfriend (tm)*. He said he knew a nice Italian place.

I like Italian. The Boyfriend likes Italian. (And it was another chance to dodge yet another trip to Outback.) Okay. Sure.

So we went.

The Angry One joined us, bringing the total number of diners to five.

The Setauket Pastaria is a lovely looking place. The furniture has an ornate, wrought iron look, and the whole ambiance is perfect for a romantic night out.

The waitress... oh she was lovely. Friendly and helpful. Of course that may have been helped by the fact that the whole restaurant was absolutely desolate. At nine on a Friday, we were the only people there.

It was... a mixed experience. The bread basket was a mix of focaccia and garlic knots. I had one piece of focaccia and it was obviously reheated, hard and dry. Disappointing. I don't know if the soda was Pepsi or Coke but while it was graciously provided for us in a jug left on the table, it was also tragically flat and somewhat lukewarm.

The Boyfriend and the Angry One both ordered mozzarella en carozza. This is an Italian take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Mozzarella between good bread slices, battered and fried, and served with tomato sauce. True to form, I tried some from The Boyfriend's plate. The sandwich itself was yummy, redolent with the mild sweetness of the cheese. The sauce I was torn on. It was obviously fresh, with chunks of tomato swimming invitingly in the thick sauce. But for me, there were too many sour notes, though not to the point of unedible. The Boyfriend and the Angry One both liked the dish so maybe I'm being a sour-puss.

The Holy Lime and his lovely, blonde girlfriend got Clams Oreganata. They both cooed over the dish in a satisfied manner and The Holy Lime proclaimed it the best clams he's ever had. (Feel free to correct me if I misquoted you.)

Then came the main course. I ordered stuffed shrimp (when will I learn???) and was once again let down. There were three shrimp, butterflied and filled with a crab stuffing mixture. I could be wrong but it seemed to me that they used imitation crab. For the twenty bucks we shelled out for my dish, they could have used real crab. And if the drab stuffing wasn't enough, I was handed a real blow by the sauce. I asked for the same sauce on my pasta as on my shrimp and when I tasted the pasta I almost cried. It was creamy and sour and tasted almost like seafood flavored lemon curd. After heavily ladling parmesan over it, it became somewhat edible. Somewhat.

Just so you know, The Boyfriend mocked me for my newest failed foray into stuffed shrimp.

The Holy Lime had shrimp scampi ravioli. His lovely, blonde girlfriend (tm) had black lobster ravioli. My initial guess that the ravioli was stuffed with seafood was erroneous. The large plates were filled with ricotta ravioli and free floating chunks of seafood. They were both happy with their main course. (Again, correct me if I'm wrong.)

The Angry One had chicken. He also had veggies and potatoes with it and exclaimed several times that they were very good.

The Boyfriend had manicotti and meatballs. Basic pasta, tomato sauce. You know the deal. He was happy.

We got tiramisu to go but never got around to eating it.

Overall, I think it's a nice date place. Just don't get the stuffed shrimp. It's somewhat on the expensive side, most entries ranging from 18 to 25 dollars and the appetizers in the high end between 7 and 11. I think maybe it's more the experience than the food that would bring me back there.

It does by the way have a lunch menu and a take-out counter.


(*Someone pointed out that this sounds snarky. I don't mean it to. In fact I am very fond of the lovely, blonde one for she is awesome.)

Setauket Pastaria
4082 Nesconset Highway
East Setauket, NY 11733
Line 1 631•476•8600
Line 2 631.681.6678

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oatmeal Deluxe (Male-tried, male-approved)

I never particularly liked oatmeal. But when I graduated from college and found a full-time job, I started on those dissolvable oatmeal packets because, hey, I had to eat *something*. Well, that stuff is... not really great tasting. It has waaaay too much salt and sugar and something sour-tasting (preservatives? why on earth does dry oatmeal need preservatives?!)

So, I complained to mom, mom told grandma, and grandma told my great-aunt in Israel. That's how my family normally operates. And great-aunt said that she never buys any of that instant oatmeal and instead makes her own -- better tasting and healthier.

I tried it her way and was smitten. Yes. I was smitten by oatmeal. No, I don't have low expectations.

So, here goes, the recipe of The Oatmeal, enough for two people.

  • 2 cups of fat-free milk OR 2 cups of regular milk mixed with cold water in 2:1 proportion.
  • a handful of large white raisins (I have small hands and love raisins, so I add two :)
  • chopped nuts
  • 2/3 (two-thirds) of a cup of whole oatmeal. Quaker whole grain oats work great for me.
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  1. Bring milk to a mild boil (watch it! don't leave the kitchen or you'll have a lot of cleanup afterwards. Boiling milk has a temper.).
  2. Add raisins and nuts, let simmer* for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add oatmeal.
  4. Stir. Cover (not completely, let the steam escape). Repeat as needed. Insert programmer joke of your choosing here.
  5. After the oat grains are nice and soft, turn off the heat and cover the pot completely. Let stand for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that milk is not going to absorb completely -- you'll see some liquid on the sides of the pot. That's good and means the oatmeal won't be dry.
  6. Stir one more time, ladle out and enjoy!

I used to make enough for three days, stick it into a thermos and not worry about breakfast for three days. Now that I start work at 8, though, I don't really have time to eat at home and instead grab a bowl of oatmeal at work. It's not nearly as good, but I add whole red grapes instead of sugar, and it tastes amazing.

The best part? The Very Insanely Picky Boyfriend Unit (VIP BU or just BU) said, after cleaning out his bowl: "this is very cool!"


* Would the Vixen be so kind as to put up a glossary of all of those cooking terms? In normal life, I very rarely feel that English is only my second language, but cooking terms never fail to remind me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Childhood Nostalgia

I have two separate food philosophies. One is Italian - great, fresh ingredients allowed to speak for themselves. The other is French - everything tastes better with butter, cream and sauces.

Today I had a longing for what I consider to be part of the Italian philosophy.

As a kid I had a lot of interesting favorite food. Many of these, most people consider weird, like raw onion and butter sandwiches. Some of these, however, I found were a precursor to my broader appreciation of cuisine.

The one I was yenning today was unfortunately out of my reach in original form. A thick slab of good, sturdy brown Russian bread slathered with rich, quality mayo and generously sprinkled with sliced garlic and salt. What made it so wonderful was that combination of fresh, good ingredients, the bread cutting some of the bite of the garlic and the mayo giving the sandwich complexity and creaminess.

I can only wish I had a Slavic grocery nearby but I have yet to be able to find one nearby. (That's something I'm keeping lookout for and will report back promptly if such a wonder is spotted.) So I did a quicker, easier and good in its own way version. I had some slices left from a good, sturdy white bread. A food processor made quick work of a handful of peeled garlic cloves mixed with salt, mayo and a sprinkle of dill. Combined, the taste took me back to my childhood. Not the healthiest snack in the world but worth every bite.


A Little Slice of England

Smack in the middle of Sayville is Cricket's. It's as much a restaurant as a town institution. It's warm with a lovely, family atmosphere and always full of people and activity. Despite the ever-present busy rush, the waitstaff is friendly and efficient.

The cuisine is supposed to be English. I have never been to England so I can't judge.

I've been to Cricket's twice, both times with The Boyfriend. The food is fairly consistent and filling and there are high as well as low notes.

The first time, I ordered stuffed shrimp (noticing a trend here?) with a side of baked potato. It came with soup and salad. The soup was a little on the salty side for me, and as The Boyfriend would tell you, I'm a salt fiend. Still, it was pretty well turned out, the broth rich and smooth. The salad was well executed. It wasn't anything major, just some fresh lettuce and veggies, but it was covered in a yummy Caesar dressing and tasted like a salad should taste, healthy and a little bit naughty. Their baked potato was perfect, baked just long enough that the flesh softened into a creamy consistency and not so long that it was mush. With some oozing, melting butter, it made the Slavic potato lover in me a very happy femme. The shrimp was a bit of a letdown. The shrimp itself was great, pink and tender and sweet. But the stuffing... oh the stuffing... It was large mushy lump deposited on that wonderful butterflied shrimp meat. The crab meat didn't have any firmness to it and just to underscore that there was way too much breading. Maybe if there was less stuffing per shrimp, it would have been better, but as is... I was disappointed.

The Boyfriend, of course, had meat. A steak. It had too many fatty strips in it but he hates any fat on his steaks so his opinion is skewed. I had a bite of it and I thought it was very good, moist and tangy-sweet with caramelization.

The second time The Boyfriend also had meat. He had a burger with fries and everything came in the family size option. Cricket's definitely does not skimp on portions. The fries were hot and crispy and The Boyfriend told me the burger was meaty and awesome.

I had a salad and a baked potato. The potato was the same perfect execution. The salad... well... the first thing I must say is it was huge. I could not eat it in one sitting. It had lettuce and various veggies, and everything was crisp and fresh. The waitress gave me two containers of dressing right off the bat without any requests.

The best part? Not only is the food generally good, but it's also very reasonably priced. The trick is, I think, to stick to simpler fare.


Cricket's Restaurant
98 Main St.
Sayville, NY 11782

Sushi Overload

Last Saturday we celebrated the Holy Lime's birthday. Luckily for The allegedly-allergic-to-seafood Boyfriend, the Angry One (one of Holy Lime's housemates) convinced the Birthday Boy to not hold the celebration at a sushi-only restaurant. Instead we went to Sesame Corner.

It's a nice little place, tucked into one of the many strips of store plazas that line Middle Country Road. The decor is unobtrusive and neat and the menu is clearly laid out. The service was prompt and never wavered in politeness, despite the fact that our group was missing two members and we did not want to order without them.

Now onto the food.

My primary hallmark for Japanese restaurants is the miso soup. If you screw that up, you fail. Sesame's miso soup was wonderful. Just the right amount of seaweed and tofu. The broth was clean tasting and was just the right level of salty-savory.

Next came the salads. The house salad is nothing special. Iceberg lettuce, some carrot for garnish and a vinaigrette of some sort. If it didn't come with the meal, I wouldn't order it. Luckily, the lovely, blonde girlfriend of the Birthday Boy offered me some of the salmon salad. Now that was worth every bite. The salmon was very fresh and perfectly balanced by the subtly spicy dressing and creamy chunks of avocado. I would have liked something crunchy to counter all the smooth, silky textures but that's just a matter of preference and otherwise the salad was excellently turned out.

My meal came with shrimp shumai. For those not in the know, these are little steamed shrimp dumplings. They were good, smooth, with a slight sweetness that is attributed to fresh shrimp, but I wouldn't call them spectacular. As part of the meal, they were nice, but I wouldn't go to this restaurant just for them.

The chef's choice sashimi was lovely. It was salmon, tuna and a fish I unfortunately did not recognize. The fish was firm and fresh with a softly chewy texture.

The roll I got was white tuna. It had something crunchy in it, I believe cucumber, and came with a bit of what looked and tasted like mayo sauce on top. The flavors came together really well, with a bit of punch from the wasabi spiked soy sauce I dipped it into.

My beef negimaki wasn't as interesting unfortunately. It was well-made and tasted fine but like the shumai there was nothing really special about it. I'd have it again but I would still wish for something... else in there.

The Boyfriend got chicken teriyaki. As he is unarguably not fond of vegetables, I got to snatch them from his place while he wasn't looking. Well okay he was looking, he just didn't care. The green beans were great, a perfect tender-crispy, generously soaked in teriyaki sauce. The carrots were less exciting, too soft to retain identity in the sauce.

Finally, I ordered fried ice cream. I am always very excited by this dish. It's perfect - cold, smooth ice cream combined with crispy, warm tempura. This time, I was let down. It wasn't terrible but... The tempura was too thick and the ratio of ice cream to coating was too close, so I ended up eating tempura by itself at the end. The ice cream was also not cooked in balls but in some sort of rectangular shape and the kitchen cut it in two, which led to melted ice cream sauce pooling in the plate and the rest of it melting much quicker. It was not well executed, which was all the sadder as the tempura was perfectly made and the ice cream was delicious.

All this does come with a certain caveat - Long Island isn't the center of culinary innovation. This restaurant is nice and very reasonably priced. It definitely delivers a delicious and worthwhile meal. It's not their fault I am always on the lookout for something... extra. So overall, this was a worthwhile evening. Just don't order the ice cream.


Sesame Corner
1245 Middle Country Rd
Selden, NY 11784

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grilled Americana

Friday, I was on my way home when I got an excited phone call from The Boyfriend (henceforth referred to as The Boyfriend) asking if I wanted to go out for dinner.

Hmm. Hard choice.

Stay in and eat leftovers or go out and let others cook for me and serve me.

Yeah we were going out.

However this put us at a dilemma. I like to try new things and will eat almost anything. The Boyfriend is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He won't eat vegetables and anything remotely out of the American-BBQ-Italian realm. So the restaurant had to be meat heavy and yet unique enough to hold my attention.

We had intended to visit the Smokehouse Grill for a while. I read a review on Newsday that was favorable so that was a plus. Besides if I had to go to Outback one more time, I'd scream.

So off we went.

When we walked in, the bar was full and a live band was playing. It wasn't quite clear where the host/ess was but when we turned to the dining area, we were immediately caught by a waitress and told to pick our seat. On a Friday at 9 pm the tables were mostly empty. The service, maybe aided by the lack of dining customers, was very prompt and friendly. I am not particularly patient and I never found myself fidgeting in annoyance.

As a note, their hot tea is a Lipton bag but I didn't expect anything different at a BBQ place.

The Boyfriend ordered a trio sampler; the babyback, the Smokehouse sparerib and the Texas beef rib platter with mashed potatoes and mac'n'cheese. I, encouraged by the Newsday review and our waitress, got a special: crab stuffed shrimp with rice and string beans, which came with salad.

I wish The Boyfriend's camera was working and I had pictures to post. Alas.

My salad arrived first, the Caesar dressing on the side. Unfortunately when I first looked at the dressing I was overcome with dubiousness. It looked thin. Pouring it onto the lettuce and single slice of tomato, I discovered that it was what it looked like, and didn't really coat the salad properly. It was also too heavy on a lemony-sour flavor that lacked the true complexity of a proper Caesar. The lettuce, being essentially flavorless as it generally is, could not rescue the salad. The tomato was mealy and flavorless, which is normal for winter tomatoes, but it makes me wonder why they served it. I would never order salad again and if it comes with the meal I probably wouldn't eat it unless I was starving.

Then came the meals. I have to admit I snitched food from The Boyfriend's large plate. The mashed potatoes were creamy and delicious, with some sort of background flavor I couldn't identify. I am not a great fan of mac'n'cheese so I went straight for the great hunks of meat. The ribs were juicy and flavorful. The BBQ sauce added a little zing to the meat but you could easily eat it without any extra saucing. The Boyfriend said it was delicious in a spicy-tangy way but wished there was some non-spicy BBQ sauce on the table.

My dinner however was a downer. The shrimp was either overcooked to begin with or overcooked in the reheating. The crab stuffing wasn't bad though somewhat mushy. The rice, once stirred with the scampi sauce, was decent but nothing special. I think, as a non-vegetarian, I was a little sad that the only really amazing thing on my plate was the beans. They were a perfect tender-crisp and gently seasoned.

Overall though I think this place is worth a visit. I intend to go back and order their pulled pork. I'll just stay far away from the seafood.

After checking their site, I discovered they frequently have live music. If it's all of the same quality, the bar may be a good place for drinks and music. As a minor note, I wouldn't recommend dining there for a first or a romantic date. The noise level from the band was just a touch too loud. Though generally BBQ does have that messy factor that pretty much precludes any romantic possibility... unless the sight of your significant other's face covered in BBQ sauce does it for you of course.


Smokehouse Grill
296 W. Main St.
Sayville, NY 11782
Reservations for 5 and more recommended

Thursday, February 8, 2007


As I was writing my first food-related post, I realized that there was one thing I didn't cover in the intro.

Everything we recommend or review is based solely on personal opinion. We do not get paid or bribed in any way.

If there is ever any conflict of interest, it will be public information.

Party in the Spice Cabinet

Last week I decided I must own more orange extract. Unfortunately regular supermarkets just don't sell this stuff in large enough containers to suit me. So I went online.

$100 later, I had extracts, herbs, spices and who knows what else.

It is my goal to discover a local source of these wonderful things but for now the site I used worked out just fine.

The Spice House

It has various spices, herbs and other interesting ingredients. Some of them are fairly exotic, at least to me. And the prices seem reasonable. Definitely worth a look.

Fun shopping,

Ribbon-Cutting Entry

Hello everyone.

This is the official opening of our newborn baby blog. I have to admit to a certain level of a-flutter-ness.

The concept behind East End Eats was born from reading far too many food blogs and noticing how many of them talked about local resources and eateries. A lot of these blogs are written by awesome people who live in tiny towns and remote locations (of course remote by NYC standards is pretty much anything that isn't NYC). And yet, Long Island, which is a stone's throw away from The City, and probably has a lot more markets and restaurants than many small towns, seems to be severely lacking in people willing to cook, eat and write.

Thus this baby was dreamed up.

Our goal is explore Long Island and the surrounding areas. The markets, the restaurants, the out of the way nooks and crannies that no one hears about but should. We like food and we want to talk about it. Some of us are more experienced cooks and some of us burn water so there will be a diversity of perspectives and tastes. We want to make sure even the shyest eater tries something new and even the most novice cook is able to make any recipe we put up.

So... with baited breath, I am going to post this and hope our baby blog grows up big and strong.