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