on the ledge
50 persimmon fund
the sweetest one
braised rabbit with spatzle & wild mushrooms $15 – needs more rabbit meat.
this starter at chef-owner kurt guttenbruner’s austrian restaurant wallse in the west village had some nice chanterelle mushrooms mixed in with the spatzle and green peas. a creamy and delicious dish.
gazpacho soup $14
very clean pure flavor, great soup for a balmy night dining al fresco on west 11th and washington street.
wiener schnitzel with lingonberries $32
I had a craving for wiener schnitzel, and wallse makes a great wiener schnitzel. a giant slab of thinly pounded veal, breaded and lightly fried to a velvet crisp, balanced with sweet lingonberries.
tender is the schnitzel - moist succulent veal inside a delicate fried crumb coating. in austria, the term wiener schnitzel is protected by law and can only be made with veal.
potato cucumber salad is the traditional accompaniment ……..
……… along with lemon and parsley.
familie bauer sylvaner 2005 auslese – one of my favorite wines. i have a great love for aromatic wines , and this sylvaner auslese had a floral fragrance and a balance of sweetness and acidity that was perfect with the food. i could drink this by the case. intoxicating to my auslese tooth.
chocolate almonds and pate a fruit.
dining on washington street in the soft darkness. several tables are set out in front of the restaurant. nice and quiet, no cars and no people.
wallse is one of those quality yet casual neighborhood restaurants that make the west village great. my only gripe is that there is no schwarzwalder kirschtorte (black forest cake with cream and cherries) on the dessert menu even though it’s available at his other restaurant cafe sabarsky.
the rapture – seriously, a meal of fried tender wiener schnitzel, coupled with a highly aromatic sweet wine, finished off with an intense slice of opulent dark schwarzwalder kirschtorte, and a cup of coffee mit schlag, and i like it with a huge mountain of whipped cream ……. i think i could then die happily with a tyrolean smile on my face, my soul born aloft clouds of snowy schlag up to the giant field of edelweiss in the sky, where i can eat this meal for eternity, while seraphic cherubs gently play the blue danube on golden harps.
the upholstery store is a wine bar opened by chef kurt guttenbruner right around the corner from wallse. a cozy tiny sliver of a wine bar, good place to have a drink before walking a few steps for that wiener schnitzel. they use those stemless riedel wineglasses here.
wallse has been around for years, and for good austrian food, this is a reliable restaurant to get a great wiener schnitzel should you ever get such a craving. and heavenly cravings need to be satisfied.
copyright 2010 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.
macarons from thevenin in paris. never heard of this bakery, have you? thevenin is the dark horse of the parisian macaron field of contenders.
2 passion fruit macarons smashed together – my favorite flavor. these had an intense tart sweetness characteristic of passion fruit. I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful these macarons were, considering that thevenin is not a famous parisian bakery, nor is it on the foodie macaron map.
chocolate macaron with chocolate ganache filling – smooth and deep chocolate flavor. great texture. the coffee and coconut flavors were also excellent. these are 1 1/2″ diameter.
the caramel macaron had the deep brown nuanced flavor of caramelized sugar which is a simple but great flavor.
pistachio macaron was pretty good, as was the rose macaron, and raspberry macaron. with each bite i was more and more fond of these macs from thevenin. i could taste and identify each flavor of every macaron without a brochure, unlike most american made macarons which taste only of sugar and not much else.
thevenin bakery is a small boulangerie-patisserie in the 14th, on the south edge of paris. 119 avenue General LeClerc. they make many types of bread, and the fact that their macarons are quite delicious is a good reminder that native foods are usually best made in their native place of origin. thevenin is not world famous like pierre herme, and yet these macarons were still better than any macarons i’ve had in the u.s. it’s like the ubiquitous and iconic new york pizza slice joint, even the worst slice in new york city will taste better than pizza made in any other state of the union. french macarons in paris are the equivalent of the quintessential new york slice.
in the macaron race, sometimes when you have no expectations, life gives you everything you want.
thevenin has 2 other branches in paris.
related: Best Macarons – Pierre Herme !
copyright 2010 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.
uni sushi $7
I rarely eat at “no name chef” restaurants simply because there are so many excellent restaurants with great and famous chefs at the helm, however on our way to eat in tribeca, in a downpour and stuck in rush hour traffic on park ave. that did not seem to move at all, my friend couldn’t stand waiting in traffic and said let’s go to japonais. I did not want to go to japonais but it was just around the corner on 18 st. so we ran in.
lobster spring rolls $16
these were not bad but not particularly memorable.
spicy mono roll – octopus roll topped with spicy tuna tartare in eel sauce $16
the reason my friend wanted to come here was for this roll. it was actually pretty good because i love the toothsome chew of octopus, but it’s a rather odd filling for a sushi roll. to say that the menu is a mash-up pastiche of pan-asian ingredients would be an understatement.
crispy fried soft shell crab $16
I had high hopes for this sandwich because fried soft shell crab is one of my favorite foods. imagine my chagrin as i bit into the body of the crab and found it WET, ICY COLD and FISHY tasting ! this should be more aptly named fried not-thawed-out-not-fresh soft shell crab. worst soft shell crab i have ever eaten, truly disgraceful.
chestnut chicken $24
very average roasted organic chicken. i don’t recall seeing any chestnuts. i’ll gladly take the fried chicken at the redhead over this any day.
sweet potato fries – not crispy but at least they were sweet potato fries which i like.
warm chocolate filled beignets $11
awful – i took one bite of this tasteless leaden ball and left the rest uneaten. the green tea semi-freddo it came with had no flavor whatsoever. i have never not eaten a dessert but this was atrocious.
I tell my friends that the reason that I always go to chef driven restaurants is because that’s where the good food is. there’s a reason that the best “famous name” chefs win awards – they cook the best ! japonais is proof of that statement. it’s a perfect example of a pricey no-name-chef restaurant that serves mediocre to horrid food that no new york foodie would be caught dead in. now you know why.
soy sauce pot – the most charming thing about this meal was this cute little red soy sauce pot.
copyright 2010 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.
eat a snowman, then eat all his friends. these hefty handcrafted chocolate truffles are by moonstruck chocolatier. moonstruck is based in portland, OR, but will ship their chocolates anywhere.
if your life has not been like a box of chocolates then just buy yourself a box! 24 piece wrapped box $50. a small price to make someone happy. check out all the flavors in this box at moonstruck.
a box assortment of chocolates shaped like hearts, windmills and seashells. 16 piece box collection $32. this includes milk chocolates and dark chocolates in various flavors such as caramel, coffee.
not cupcakes. these are chocolate truffles shaped and decorated to resemble miniature cupcakes, in cupcake like flavors – strawberry cheescake, sour cream fudge and german chocolate cake. boxed cupcake truffle collection 4 pieces for $13. moonstruck chocolatier currently offers their fall and halloween collections of chocolate bats, white chocolate filled ghosts, and a hand painted jack-o-lantern filled with gummy worms for $7.50.
copyright 2009 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.
salt & pepper fried squid/seafood rolls. the first appetizer is usually something fried and crunchy. these rolls were filled with squid and other seafood with some mayonaisse. i’m not crazy about mayo but these were hot and crunchy so they were still good.
Imperial Palace is my favorite Cantonese restaurant in Flushing, NY. Flushing is the second largest Chinatown in New York City, after the one in Manhattan. It is a great place to eat Chinese food in terms of authenticity and price value.
walnut jumbo shrimps are delicious. the big shrimp are usually dusted with lotus flour and deep fried. then it is doused with a mayonaisse sauce, and served on top of a bed of steamed broccoli. at imperial palace restaurant they add candied sesame walnuts which add a nutty and crunchy counterpoint to the succulent shrimp. this is one of my favorite classic dishes.
king oyster mushrooms and snow pea shoots – this dish combines 2 of my favorite foods. i love eating mushrooms and king oyster mushrooms are large mushrooms that can be cut into slabs. they have a smooth texture and are chewy. snow pea shoots are the tiny shoots of the snow pea plant, it is the tip of the growing plant with small leaves and thin curly tendrils. it is very tender and have a great deal of flavor.
DUNGENESS CRAB OVER STICKY RICE – the BEST dish – cantonese division!! i arranged this chinese banquet at imperial palace for THIS dish. as the dungeness crab is streamed over the sticky rice, it’s juices infuses into the sticky rice, and the scallion adds just the right touch of freshness to the sweet toothsomeness of the sticky rice. i grabbed an empty dungessness crab shell that had crab juices in it, scooped some sticky rice inside the shell to absorb all the crab juice – a sublime experience.
this dish is worth a trip to flushing. the #7 subway train takes almost an hour, but the LIRR from Penn Station goes to Flushing in 16 minutes. (i time it every time) and it’s only $3 each way. i arranged this chinese banquet for 90 people, and the only non-Chinese people in the restaurant were in my group. I noticed that at nearly every table in the restaurant, they had ordered this dish!! if you like dungeness crab, and you like sticky rice, i think you will absolutely love this dish.
hugel et fils gewurtztraminer 1975 vendange tardive - a delicious honeyed mellow late harvest gewurtztraminer wine which went really well with this menu. the thing i love about most chinese restaurants is that they allow you to BYOB and do not even charge a corkage fee. riesling and champagne is also a good wine to drink with cantonese cuisine.
shark’s fin soup. a normal item on any chinese banquet menu. for those of you who object to the idea of eating shark’s fin, you should know that the monterey bay aquarium’s seafood watch had an article which shows that 50% of sharks are killed as a by-catch of fishing for the other more ‘acceptable’ species of edible fish and seafood like tuna and bass. so if you really care about not harvesting sharks for food, then stop eating all the other ocean fish because the fishing industry for the OTHER fishes and seafood kills 50% of all sharks.
crispy skin chicken. another typical chinese banquet dish. chinese people like the chicken to be cooked just barely this side of pink so that the meat is moistly soft and silky tender, and the bone is bloody, while the chicken skin is thin and has a crunchy snap. it’s a simple dish, and when executed correctly, is wonderful. this is one of those dishes that cannot easily be made at home because it takes skill to get that crispy skin while not overcooking the chicken meat.
he’s not pretty but he’s soooo sweet!! this 3 lb. steamed black fish had the most sweet succulent flesh. freshness is of paramount importance in chinese cuisine, which is why good chinese restaurants have tanks of live fish, crabs, shrimp and other sea creatures swimming around in. i call them crab condos. this black fish had some serious dentition but it was one of the silkiest fish i can remember ever eating.
abalone and black mushrooms. another classic banquet dish. abalone was always one of my 3 favorite foods as a child and still is now. chinese black mushrooms (shiitake) is also great if you love mushrooms, which i do. both abalone and mushroom have a similar smooth and firm chewiness so it’s textually compatible. they are braised in a brown oyster sauce over long skinny chinese broccoli called ‘gai lan’.
sake. this bottle of sake is from one of the liquor shops in flushing on main street. most chinese restaurants serve beer and a very limited wine list because they are family restaurants and most chinese families do not drink booze with dinner. if you go to flushing chinatown for dinner and you’d like to bring your own wine, this is a convenient option.
E-Fu noodles are the best noodles – ever! i have always associated E-Fu noodles with chinese banquets because it’s usually served at the end of the 10 course meal along with fried rice. E-Fu noodles are braised noodles – the braising gives the noodles a soft texture which you cannot get with sauteed or boiled noodles. also being braised in soy sauce and stock allows the noodles to absorb the flavor which is why E-Fu noodles don’t have a sauce slapped on top of it like other noodle dishes – it doesn’t need it. this is my favorite type of noodle. at imperial palace you don’t need to book a chinese banquet to try it, you can just order it off the menu! i was too stuffed to take a photo of the fried rice or the sweet buns and sweet soup served at the end.
imperial palace restaurant is my favorite cantonese restaurant in flushing. 136-13 37th ave. flushing,ny
copyright Jo Jo Kwong 2009. all rights reserved.
2 dozen macarons from arnaud lahrer. his pastry shop macarons et chocolat is behind montmartre in paris.
when i heard that pastry chef arnaud lahrer had worked for pierre herme for years at fauchon before opening up his own pastry shop, i was quite curious as to how good his macarons were, especially since he had won a pastry award in 2007. i was sorely disappointed.
these small macarons, just slightly over an inch wide, at first seemed cute and inviting. however, as i bit into each one, i was hard pressed to find some good or distinctive flavor in any of them. this is shocking when you consider that he worked at the side of the master for years. it’s even more shocking when you see that baking bloggers all over the internet are making beautiful macarons with impressive and exotic flavors. lastly, when you consider that his pastry shop is in paris – the apotheosis of french pastry skills – these flavorless macarons are totally befuddling!
the white filling is rather odd – looks more like fondant than either ganache or buttercream.
most of the flavor of a good macaron comes from its’ filling, which is typically a flavored chocolate ganache or a fruit jam. these arnaud lahrer macarons seem to contain some kind of sweet white filling with no discernible flavor other than sugar. the caramel flavored one did have some burnt sugar taste, but the rest were truly forgettable.
where’s the flavor ? — are these FONDANT MACARONS ?? nearly every one has this white filling except for the chocolate one.
fondant is made of sugar and water. buttercream would at least look more yellowish and taste more buttery. skimping on your expensive ingredients to cut cost is one thing, but this is beyond stingy. this is like being the mc scrooge of macarons ! i offered the box to 2 children, who each took one, and did not come back for more. the fact that i would even share these macarons from paris tells you that i was not the least bit enamored of them to begin with.
i was so disillusioned that i threw the remaining box away. quel dommage !
arnaud lahrer won the meilleur ouvrier de france award 2007 for pastry, so perhaps he made great cakes and macarons for the competition but is cutting corners on the macarons in his shop.
**the caveat of buying french macarons - they ALL look pretty. those perky colors, the cute almond meringue shells with their requisite ‘feet’, the lush fillings, the sheer variety of flavors offered up is quite enchanting. however, the proof of a good macaron is in their TASTE. do not let appearances fool you because ALL macarons look brightly enticing and cute…. even the bad ones.
…. and if they come from paris, the expectation for excellence is all the greater, and the more feverishly one wishes for it to be fantastic. but the arnaud lahrer macarons did not deliver on its’ promise.
when you go to paris, save your money and buy macarons from the master, and my favorite – pierre herme. (he now has 3 shops in paris)
once you’ve had the best, you cannot stand the rest !! (if they’re mediocre) that’s the risk one takes when trying out new and unknown macarons. obviously provenance and hype is no guarantee of goodness. macaron lovers want to try out every new macaron maker, hoping to find another great macaron, but if it’s subpar and doesn’t satisfy, you suddenly wish you had gotten the better one, with a poignant mixture of humbled hindsight and relentless remorse.
only the best one is where your soul will find redemption!
***see my post on pierre herme macarons. stick with the best !
copyright 2009 Jo Jo Kwong. all rights reserved.