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Archive for the ‘new york: breakfast’ Category

I heard about the breakfast potatoes at Cousin John’s Bakery months ago, but I tend to get distracted- or should I say dazzled- by pretty things- namely, the gorgeous array of baked goods displayed in their window. I have a weakness for Cousin John’s brioches and their ethereal almond croissants in which soft almond paste is folded between twists of flaky pastry. Definitely better than Balthazar’s.

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Chennai Garden

For my Sunday lunch, I want full-bodied flavors that won’t make me feel like a lazy pudding. After all, Sunday is the last day of glorious freedom before the week begins and although Punjabi food or cheesy fries from Shake Shack sound appealing, I don’t want to be so weighed down by lunch that I sleep the day away. Sunday = possibility, and I must make the most of it.

This is why South Indian cuisine makes the perfect Sunday lunch. Often consisting of soft, steaming white iddlys and dosas filled with sunny, superbly-spiced potatoes, onions, and chiles, it’s a well-balanced meal- carbs in the potatoes and iddlys, protein in the dosa and sambar, deliciousness in every bite- that’s incredibly tasty. (Another South Indian favorite of mine is upma, cream of wheat prepared with ghee, mustard seeds, cashews, chiles, chopped vegetables and bay leaves.)

At home, my mom will make upma or sometimes we’ll walk over to my kaki’s and fold pieces of crispy dosa over potatoes. In Bombay, my masi makes excellent South Indian food at her home, but we’ll drive to Cafe Madras in Matunga for their filter coffee; we can eat at home, but it’s a real treat to sip on strong milky coffee.

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In New York, I can find most of the foods I love from India. At Chennai Garden in Murray Hill, we started with the excellent bonda, two crispy fried balls of twice-cooked potato. I was initially quite excited for the Kangipuram iddly, golden rice cakes embedded with cashew and green chili, but I found that their texture was disappointingly mushy, and the green chilies lacked fire.

Our food and drinks arrived very quickly. The sweet lassi was too sweet, but the salty lassi was refreshing and frothy with cilantro, cumin, and salt.

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The Mysore Masala Dosa was hot (a real change from Saravanas, where I inevitably get cold food) and enclosed were fantastically spiced potatoes and a sprinkling of red chilli. The hearty sambar and fresh coconut chutney helped elevate this dosa to superb. The dosa and the bonda were my favorite items.

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Our Onion and Hot Pepper Utthappam, a savory pancake made from a batter of daal and rice, was OK, but not particularly flavorful or memorable. The Lemon Rice was also pretty mediocre- I didn’t taste any popped mustard seeds or other complexities, but it did come with a deliciously fiery, nutty red aachar. Next time, however, I’m ordering the yogurt rice.

After writing this ode to South Indian Sundays, I’m going to eat eggs at Alias. Let’s see how they sit with my Sunday Stomach.

Bonda: $3.95; K. Iddly: $4.95; Mysore Masala Dosa: $7.95; Onion and Hot Pepper Utthappam: $7.45; Lemon Rice: $6.95

Chennai Garden is on 129 East 27th street, near Lexington Ave. (212) 689-1999

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Dim Sum Go Go
5 East Broadway
New York, NY

Much of dim sum’s appeal lies in the ritual of “carts,” where appetizer-sized dishes on carts are wheeled by tables, a visual menu from which patrons pick their dishes. Although Dim Sum Go Go forgoes the use of carts, it does serve a variety of vegetarian dim sum in a peaceful setting- both anomalies for the regular dim sum joint.

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We started our meal with a parsley and scallion flecked rice roll floating in a dark, sweet sauce that cut the sharpness of the scallions. We also tried the vegetable rice roll but didn’t enjoy it nearly as much because the mixed vegetables were bland and their flavors didn’t emerge from between the folds of the steamed pancake.

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An assortment of hot dumplings composed the majority of our meal. Mushroom dumplings, jade dumplings, three-star dumplings, bamboo dumplings…we ordered them all. The yellow-skinned mushroom dumplings and the tender bamboo dumplings were our favorites…too bad there were just 3 per order.

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Soy bean, green, and snow pea dumplings were also on the menu, but we decided to vary from the dumpling path and ordered turnip cakes, pumpkin cakes, and flaky vegetable spring rolls. It was a fried festival. The pumpkin cakes were the standout item here, fragrant and sweet, like pumpkin pie, but also deliciously transformed when dipped into the garlicky sauce.

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Round and crunchy sesame balls gave away to a fluffy inside surrounding sticky paste. Delightful, but we split each in half so everyone could taste. The mango pudding was sickly sweet, and after trial bites, remained untouched.

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These sun-colored Malaysian rolls were essentially soft, warm, vanilla-tinged cakes. So soft, so soothing, so not overly sweet!

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While Dim Sum Go Go is a solid vegetarian dim sum option, I found variety lacking. I love dumplings, but I felt that’s all we ate (I know, we had the cakes, and the rice rolls, and even a plate of Chinese broccoli) and I wanted more. I craved the variety offered at Vegetarian Dim Sum with the cooking style of Dim Sum Go Go. On another note, I would like to try Dim Sum Go Go’s regular lunch/dinner menu. It incorporates new vegetarian takes on the standard Chinese mix, with dishes like “Potato basket stuffed with spicy vegetables,” and “Spicy Chinese Eggplant Casserole” sounding particularly delicious.

Lunch prices
dumplings: between $2.50-$2.90; rice rolls: $ 2.90; dessert: $2.50-$2.90

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I went to a party last Saturday night and stayed out later than usual. When I woke up later that Sunday, my stomach felt uneasy and I wanted eggs or Indian food, something heavy and savory, to jolt it into calmness. But instead I found the Breakfast Burrito tofu scrambler from the V Spot, a vegan restaurant. I ordered take-out, so I can’t tell you much about the restaurant or provide any pictures of my food, but I’ll share my thoughts on the burrito:

Picture tofu in tiny pieces, crumbled to the consistency of small pieces of paneer bhurji. Tofu like this can hold spices well, as opposed to the giant rubbery blocks that swim, unscathed, in marvelous flavors; they are disappointing, and all too typical. This saucy tofu was wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, along with a smear of guacamole and black beans, salsa and soy cheese. It settled my stomach in a savory fashion, and I didn’t feel tired or heavy, as I usually do after I eat a breakfast of eggs. Morning burritos with scrambled tofu seem easy to make at home, so when I figure out a good recipe, I’ll post it here- suggestions are welcome!

Breakfast Burrito: $9.
The V Spot is at 156 5th Avenue, between Douglass and Degraw, Brooklyn, NY. (718) 622-2275

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…or you might end up with this:

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…when you thought you were ordering this:

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…here:

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The Mediterranean Eggs, with tomatoes, capers, sheep cheese, herbs and olives, was actually listed on the menu as Baked Mediterranean Eggs, a detail I had failed to notice in my excitement over the prospect of eating sheep cheese and capers. The dish was fine, but a strange concept, I thought, and tasted like I was eating pasta sauce and eggs. However, I was expecting, and would have preferred, a Mediterranean Omelette, or even the Omelette Du Jour, which that day was with swiss cheese and mushrooms. Sadly, the homefries were not at all spectacular- kind of chewy fried potatoes with the occasional onion and nothing else. The restaurant was also slightly pricey…

Baked Mediterranean Eggs: $12.50; Omelette Du Jour: $12.50.

Belleville is in Park Slope, at 330 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

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We went to Brick Cafe for brunch this morning. It was a struggle to get out of bed… I was so sleepy (and I slept till 11:30!). But fortunately, Brick isn’t far…just a few blocks down from me at 33rd st and 31st avenue. I’ve passed it a few times and been tempted to check it out… the exterior is a lovely yellow and it looks really…hip? cute? rustic? So I googled it and found that it was known for its brunches. Then I looked up the brunch menu and saw that it was relatively inexpensive (french toast is $5.95; omelettes are between$5-7). I feel like my perception of what is expensive/inexpensive is skewed now that I live here. Anyway, it’s small inside, and cramped and really busy, but the staff was really nice and the ceilings were some carved tin, charming material, and we were seated right away. While waiting, the waitress brought some crusty french bread with this reddish-brown olive spread to the table. The spread was salty and nutty and easily spreadable. Then they brought us coffee and cream- also good.
I ordered the French Toast:
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….which looked like that, messy, but it was great! The toast was NOT drenched in syrup like most french toast I’ve had- instead it was crispy and slightly sweetened on the outside, soft and warm inside, also slightly sweet, and the strawberries and cream on top were perfect- the strawberries a little tangy, a little sweet, and the cream just a luxury. It also came with a side of potatoes:
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These were fantastic potatoes. Nicely spiced, they tasted like they had a little lemon on them, unlike the usual half boiled/over fried homefries, and they were the perfect salty complement to a not-too-sweet dish. And all this for $5.95!

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