Tag Archives: squid

Mother Kelly’s in Cedarhurst – Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 2)

Octopus & Squid in New York (Part 1)


A family owned business with a loyal following, Mother Kelly’s is a five towns restaurant that is never empty. With a huge menu, mainly focused on home-cooked Italian food, there is a dish for anyone who visits. Whenever I travel home, a visit to Mother Kelly’s is usually in the itinerary. The consistently great food makes it a go-to place for everyone who lives within a 5 mile radius.
Time to look at the food, but before we get into the main courses, I would be brain dead if I didn’t mention the complimentary garlic rolls and bean salad every patron receives:

complimentary starters

complimentary starters


The rolls are spiral shaped and filled with garlicky butter and herbs. I pick around the basket for the crispy pieces (like my mom), while my sister and Lauren go for the softer pieces. Regardless of the type you prefer, these rolls are insanely good. It is a near to impossible to refrain from downing the bread basket before the real food comes along. If you have zero will power and are full of garlic bread fear, it’s a good idea to stick with the bean salad. Varying types and colors of beans covered with a vinegar-y dressing make my palate scream in anticipation for a hot meal.

After a few plates of the bean salad and around 10 minutes of deliberation, Lauren and I decided to split a meal. The portions could feed 2-3 people as it is, so I was not worried about going hungry. Here’s what was delivered:

makes me melt

makes me melt


Calamari and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce over spinach (instead of pasta) – there is nothing bad to say about this enormous plate of seafood. Some adjectives that come to mind: homey, comforting, filling, healthy. This dish doesn’t force you to think too hard and that is appreciated – I just tucked into the plate of goodness and finally felt like I was home.

Per usual, I saved the best bites for last – in this case, the calamari tentacle-y pieces:

to me, this is art

to me, this is art

And my sister decided to test out her camera skills with my last beautiful specimen:

squiddie

squiddie

My family ordered envious dishes and I made sure to taste each one:

Mom's shrimpies

Mom's shrimpies


Shrimp marinara over spinach
Quote from mother: “it was an explosion of flavors in my mouth – the shrimp were plump, firm, salty, with just the right amount of fishiness; the marinara sauce was sweet with a touch of basil; the sauteed spinach was delightfully garlicky.” I think she liked it!
steroid clucker

steroid clucker


My sister (lovingly known as Poop) had the chicken francaise – the white meat chicken (or many chickens) had a wonderful meaty texture I don’t often enjoy.
I'm a beautiful chick

I'm a beautiful chick


My stepfather, Ricardo, ordered another chicken dish, but this one was stunningly glazed with a balsamic sauce. I loved this sweet masterpiece – a real knockout.

As if that wasn’t enough food, the Mother Kelly includes a side of spaghetti:

don't ignore me!

don't ignore me!

If you can possibly manage it (and I never can), the desserts look like they are worth a food coma:

this pic does NOT do me justice

this pic does NOT do me justice

Forget the 5 mile radius, if you can get your butt in a seat at Mother Kelley’s……..GO!

Mother Kelly’s
490 Chestnut Street
Cedarhurst, New York 11516
(516) 295-5421

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Chateau de Saigon Take Two

My first meal at Chateau de Saigon was excellent. I craved the Lemon Grass Tofu dish everyday, so I was pulled back for a visit a few days later.

Of course, I had to get the tofu:

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must snap a


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photo before


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diving in

It was just as delightful as I remembered: crunchy outer layer with a silky smooth innard, topped with a nice bit a heat.

My friend, Lindsey combined her Jewish roots with traditional soup and ordered the Pho with brisket:

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meat - check, broth - check, noodles - check

It came with the expected herbs, sprouts, and flavor enhancers:

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add-ons

I caught her picking some of the white fat off the meat, but I believe she enjoyed the broth.
Meredith (of the home-made blintzes fame) had a salad and noodle entree:
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Goi Xoai Tao Tom Thit – Shrimp (no pork) Apple Mange Salad with mint leaves, fried onions, crushed peanuts. The salad was only ok – it does not live up to C’om’s version but it is passable.

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noodles, where are you?


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hiding


Crispy Fried Egg Noodle with chicken – the noodles were crunchy (as advertised) and the chicken was tender. I did not love the sauce, but there was nothing wrong with it. It was just a bit glossy and a touch sweet.

I ordered the Seafood Clay Pot or Hai San Tay Cam:

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covered with herbs


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bff


It came with shrimp, scallop, calamari, calamari ball, fish filet, and tofu – for the most part, the seafood was cooked correctly, slightly veering on overdone (read: rubbery). I bet this tends to happen in clay pots since the bubbling sauce continues to cook your protein as it sits in front of you at the table – you gotta eat fast!

I had a love affair with my favorite bite:

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meant to be together forever


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just me and you


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ahhh, life is good

The main event of the meal was Lauren’s order of La Vong Sizzling Fish. There’s a lot of ground to cover so it’s coming up next………

Chateau de Saigon on Urbanspoon

La Pietra Cucina: For the Love of Soup

Many of you are probably saddened by the recent death of Soupy Sales. In honor of the comic, I wanted to dedicate this post to him.

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea who Soupy Sales is. But, I have been sick recently and eating loads of soup so the timing just worked out (don’t you just love when that happens?).

An in-house work meeting prompted a nearby meal. My office happens to be located directly above one of the best Italian restaurants in the city of Atlanta, La Pietra Cucina.

Newly renovated with a high level of service, La Pietra is a luxurious way to spend a lunch hour. Case in point: my chamomile tea came in a large wooden box, and looked more like decorative potpourri than drinking tea.

Anyway, as soon as I looked at the menu I knew what was in order: SOUP

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octopus can heal


Braised Octopus & Chick Pea Soup with escarole and olivastro

Boy, this really hit the spot. There was a strong lemony note within the broth that felt great on my throat. The octopus chunks varied in size and shape, which made the process of eating a joyous occasion – somewhat like enjoying alphabet soup as a child. The chickpeas added some heft and weight to the bowl; they also soaked up some of that good broth flavor.

For my entree, SOUP!

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swimming squiddies

Calamari in Sicilian Tomato Zupetto with vermentino, toasted garlic, couscous, pine nuts

How can you have octopus without squid?

I’ve had this dish before and it is a satisfying meal – a heavier feel than the octopus due to the olive oil, but the flavors pop in a different way. Large slices of garlic, halved caper berries & olives, soft couscous, and crunchy pine nuts combine in a warm tomato base that begs to be drunk. This one warms the belly.

I’m not sure if it was the back-to-back soup action or the fact that I ate OctoSquid for lunch, but I left feeling a bit warmer and healthier.

Post-Script: my lunch mates ate very well.

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I'm cut by human hands


Hand Cut Pappardelle with bolognese ragu, grana padano

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order envy ensued


Black Spaghetti with rock shrimp, scallions, hot calabrese sausage

Both friends cleaned their plates 🙂

La Pietra Cucina on Urbanspoon

Sushi House Hayakawa: Third Time’s a Charm

bowla heaven

bowla heaven


Remember my favorite combo meal?

The truth is, when I first tried the Hokkai Don (sushi rice with uni, ikura, shrimp) I thought the salmon roe (eggs) tasted funny. They were not as salty as usual, and didn’t have the briny bump they usually bring. I had to try it again and get to the bottom of the situation.

I went to Sushi House Hayakawa with my favorite Atlanta foodie friend, Hilla. She had never been and I had a love/suspicious relationship with the Buford Highway restaurant.

We ordered a slew of dishes and shared them all:

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

I don't think you're ready for this jelly


Jellyfish salad with a strong note of citrus-y ponzu sauce. Woke up the palate and added an a nice crunch

mushy

mushy


Matsuake mushroom appetizer: not my thing (don’t like mushrooms), but Hilla said it was top notch

marriage potential

marriage potential


Grilled squid leg flavored by house special sauce (or salt) served with Japanese Mayo: it was hard to share this one because I loved it so. I almost ordered a second plate to eat by myself. It was smoky from the grilling, with a slight crisp combined with a hefty chew-factor. Sprinkled with lemon and dipped in the Japanese Mayo and I could make a meal out of a few orders of this.

lots of choices

lots of choices


Zuke Don (a collection of fresh cut fish marinated in house special wasabi sauce arranged over sushi rice): a nice sampling platter with a slight deviation from the usual sashimi. The addition of the sauce allowed the different cuts of fish to blend together without getting any one overpowering the rest. Highly recommended for the types who are inching towards eating sashimi but are a bit scared.

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Salmon Tartar topped with scallop: suggested by the sushi chef because according to him, the scallop was exceptional (always ask what’s the freshest, or just flown in!). This was a bit more mild than the rest of the meal, so the pure, silky, smooth, fish flavors took center stage. The ingredients alone demonstrate how this dish can’t fail: salmon, avocado, scallop, ikura, japanese mayo – stellar bites when each element was combined on a chopstick.

Lastly, we had to order the Hokkai Don:

I'm the king of the world

I'm the king of the world


Similar to the ‘Don’ in mobster movies, this is the be-all end-all in sushi. Simply put – Fresh Sea Urchin, marinated Salmon eggs, Sweet Shrimps and lightly fried Shrimp head over sushi rice. I learned the ikura tastes different than elsewhere because the chef is from a northern Japanese island where they prefer their ikura sweeter. Therefore, he marinates his fish eggs in a house-made sauce with soy sauce and a few other secret ingredients. Mystery solved! I enjoyed the departure in the usual taste once I learned the background information and after I heard Hilla rave about it (osmosis is a real thing).

Sufficiently full, we hung around the sushi bar and watched the gregarious chef (Hayakawa himself) grate fresh wasabi.

I'm a tough guy

I'm a tough guy


until wasabi comes after me

until wasabi comes after me

And he shared a bit with us:

Japanese dessert

Japanese dessert

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30340
http://www.atlantasushibar.com (awesome pics!)

Sushi House Hayakawa on Urbanspoon

Las Vegas Last Dinner: Bar Charlie

You know it’s a bad sign when your mom tells you she didn’t read your last post because it was too long. Sounds like it’s time for a shorty. Perfectly timed since there is no way, shape, or form I could adequately do justice to my final meal in Las Vegas. I can sum of the dinner in one sentence: It was, by far, the best meal I have ever eaten in my entire life.
I ate at Bar Charlie, a Charlie Trotter restaurant located within Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo Hotel. The simplicity of the space is as follows: 18 seats outlining a sushi bar. The cuisine (as stated on the website) is, ‘a “kaiseki” or multi course Japanese dinner in that the primary menu offerings are small plates of varied ingredients which are prepared right before your eyes!’

she's a beauty

she's a beauty


got it going on

got it going on


color me happy

color me happy


one, singular sensation every bite that you take

one, singular sensation every bite that you take


greenz

greenz


small piece of heaven

small piece of heaven


squid dumpling, you are a genius

squid dumpling, you are a genius


I'm here to cleanse your palate and help you transition from savory to sweet

I'm here to cleanse your palate and help you transition from savory to sweet


chocolate and strawberry

chocolate and strawberry


don't leave without me!

don't leave without me!

As you can see, the food is a work of art. I watched with wide, disbelieving eyes as the chefs created each plate with skill levels and creativity that I have never been privy to see firsthand. The tasting menus are constantly changing, which is why I don’t have the dish descriptions 6 months later. I won’t attempt to detail any aspect of the meal, but I will say with as much sincerity and heart that I can muster up: Go to Bar Charlie. Talk to the chef. Watch with amazement. Make your culinary dreams become a reality.

Bar Charlie on Urbanspoon

Meeting Chef Cat Cora in Las Vegas

While my brain fondly thinks back on my ‘Vegas Vacation’, I’ve got a food-nerd meet-and-greet to share. Unbeknownst to me during the booking process, the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival coincided with my trip. As soon as I found out and searched through the non-sold-out events, I purchased tickets to an Iron Chef competition hosted by Chef Cat Cora. Las Vegas hotel restaurant chefs were pitted against each other, presented with a secret ingredient, and were given 30 minutes to churn out 2 dishes.

I stayed for 2 rounds of Iron Chef, and was lucky in that both of the secret ingredients were seafood. First round was spot prawns (shrimp-y) and second was SQUID!!! My one and only, Squid.

battle grounds

battle grounds

The battle was interesting to watch and we had some goodies to snack on, but my main purpose of going was to meet a real Iron Chef – Cat Cora. She was the host and the announcer throughout the match (like an Alton Brown character).

take 1

take 1

The real Iron Chef herself:

take 2

take 2

You may also be familiar with the judges of the event: Andrew Knowlton, Barbara Fairchild, and don’t recall.

Andrew has appeared on Iron Chef America as a judge; he was also a judge on The Next Iron Chef; he works for Bon Appetit.
Barbara is Bon Appetit’s Editor in Chief.

don't judge me

don't judge me


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all together now

all together now

I didn’t get to eat any of the food the chefs prepared, but I did chat with a 7-month pregnant Cat Cora and even scored a pic.

which one is preggers?

which one is preggers?

Squid Dinner guest starring tomato sauce, spinach, & garlic

Squid in a bag

Squid in a bag

Apropos first post: a home-cooked dinner that consists of squid. This is where a meal fits all my needs: it has health aspects (spinach) and it incorporates creatures of the sea.

I purchased the “squid in a bag” (photo above) from the Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Decatur Georgia hoping to create a decent weeknight meal that would quench my desire to eat at a restaurant. Cooking these suckers was not very hard or time-consuming (and I am VERY lazy when I get home from work) so that’s saying something.

Step 1: Wash the slippery suckers

Squid filled with h20

Squid filled with h20

Step 2: Cut ’em up

Rings Rings Rings

Rings Rings Rings

Step 3: Gotta add some garlic for flava
Squid Dinner 042

-at the same time take a bag of washed spinach (bought it in a bag) and throw it into a pot with the heat turned up to get rid of some of that spinach volume.
Squid Dinner 054

Step 4: Garlic in the pan heating in some olive oil, and get those squiddies in there too
Squid Dinner 043

Step 5: Take a jar of tomato sauce (your choice) and throw it into a pot – this will be where your meal will end up.

Red sauce in a pot (classico form Costo)

Red sauce in a pot (classico form Costco)

Step 5 & 6 go together: Toss some seasoning (used Old Bay) onto the spinach and lemon juice on the squid

lemony

lemony

After it cooks for a few minutes move the squid and spinach into the red sauce, cook a couple more minutes and voila:

(actually from Giacomo's in Boston)

(actually from Giacomo's in Boston)