Monthly Archives: March 2014

En Japanese Brasserie- West Village, NYC

I’ve bePeanutPimpMamaen eating a lot of Asian food lately. It always seems to happen round this time of year since it can be a super healthy option and all too convenient for Lent. I don’t have to worry about les animaux since I only eat the fishies anyhow. (Insert angry vegan here.) When I got together with my friend Maggie last week (for the first time in nearly four years) she requested sushi for dinner. I cannot count how many times her and I have shared many laughs over countless maki rolls. Dinner at En Japonese Brasserie was another one for the books.

We met back in 2002 when we were fashionistas and in 2005 tore up the French Riviera while I attended IPAG in Nice, France. It was never the same. (Pictured Above: Milk @ Juan-les-Pins all young and fresh faced) Our professions may have changed and so have we, but our love for sushi hasn’t!

The Experience:

After mourning the idea that I wouldn’t be entering the doors of Sushi Nazakawa for the next 30 days minimum (that is how far ahead you have to book) En was the next closest and best option in my hood. Literally a stone’s throw from my residence, I was excited to return to this venue. Things were different last time I dined here…I didn’t mangé les poissons.

Originally lured in by the Kaiseki Japanese tasting menus, we decided to go à la carte. I was clearly the only hungry monster wanting all-the-things. The plan was to order a couple dishes and take our time chit chatting. As always, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. Our first course was the Raw Tuna and Avocado Salad: Eastern Pacific Big Eye Tuna with avocado and wasabi shoyu dressing. There was not much spice as expected.

Our second plate was a serving of Chu Toro Sashimi: Medium Fatty Big Eye Tuna for $30.00 (included five pieces). I’d say it was good, not life changing but really fresh.

This tiny little cup was filled with the creamiest and dreamiest truffle custard I have had in 32 years. A first for everything, “Truffle Chawanmushi” (say that five times fast) is a fresh burgundy truffle egg custard that our server referred to as “a savory flan”. It was flan-like in consistency and leaned towards the salty-side but was not overbearing. The flakey truffles melted in your mouth as they hit your tongue and became one with the cream. No matter how sophisticated truffles are, I can’t help but think of the little truffiers we must thank for extracting them.

Mmm then out came this guy… One of 7 different maki rolls, “The Snow Crab Tempura and Avocado Roll” is made with just that. Served alongside it was a spicy yuzu kosho sauce for dipping. This roll had it all, a collision of all textures crunchy and smooth with the citrusy sweetness and spice of the dipping sauce…Of course I used soy too. (I embrace the occasional salty faux pas!)

Last but not least, this was actually round two of sushi. We finished off with the Nigiri plate including 8 pieces of the chef’s selection of fish. This was actually my introduction to Ikura (salmon roe). Having had some unfortunate experiences with fish, I was very apprehensive about giant roe balls. However, I’ll try most things once. To my surprise it was actually amazing. After I got over my fear of the first piece I kept popping them! There was no lingering fishy taste, just little globules of oceany mist. (PPM Fact: The correct way to consume Nigiri is with your hands.) Shocker.

Who wouldn’t be curious about a soy milk hot pot with assorted mushrooms? For some reason I was picturing a savory mushroom soup-like experience. Our server wasn’t lying when she mentioned the words “less flavorful” in regards to the other vegetable sides available. What you saw was what you got here, a hot bowl of mushrooms floating in soy milk. The bonito flakes were an attempt at improving the flavor situation, but I will just go with the assumption that our little fungus friends would be most appropriately paired with a lovely chunk of juicy Wagyu as opposed to sushi. (Poor choice on PPM’s part.)

We still threw down.

We even made room for dessert! Pictured Above: Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich with Red Bean Paste and Fresh Berries. This dessert was the daintiest little thing ever and we almost ordered a second. However, I remembered having their black sesame ice cream years ago when I first dined at En. It was still good after all these years.

Even though neither of us are drinking, we still managed to kill a solid three hours at En catching up and eating all the delicious things. I highly recommend sitting at the sushi bar for the entertaining view. We were shocked when our check came to (only) $222.00 and realized how much more it could have been with alcohol.

During my stroll home that night I nearly froze to death as I passed the coolest townhouse for sale. It has been chilly here in NYC. Pictured above is the future pied-à-terre- Chez PeanutPimpMama. I can’t wait to make all the good things happen.

One day I will dine at En’s sister restaurant when I pass through Japan.

Peace, Love and Maki Rolls,

~PeanutPimpMama

Address: 435 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014  Phone: (212) 647-9196

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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Agricola – Princeton, NJ

PeanutPimpMamaAs if dealing with the aftermath of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s wasn’t enough to pack on some holiday bulge… Having a birthday in January may get you jipped with combo-gifts but the non-stop excuses to eat all of the delicious things (post-holiday) are seemingly never-ending. I was so excited that my little cousin Samantha was able to join me for a celebratory dinner near her new residence in NJ. She had lots of good news for me that evening. Between our birthdays, her engagement and soon to be Masters-graduate status, it’s safe to say that we had a lot to cheers to.

The Experience:

It has been a really long time since I’ve done any type of research on the presently bustling scene in Princeton, NJ. I haven’t really spent any time there since my days at Princeton Ballet in 1999. After texting around for some recommendations (by my Matawanian-transplant pals) and googling, I stumbled on Agricola – located on 11 Witherspoon Street just off the main drag (Nassau St.). Agricola’s concept provides a “community eatery with locally sourced foods,” a market-table concept by “A farmer, a  risk taker and a tasty food maker”. This is very much apparent in their menu which features wholesome American-fusion dishes with earthy yet adventurous flavor combinations that provide a healthy and organic experience. There is no skimping on the hearty factor here as portions are very generous. Go ahead, try and leave hungry.

When entering Agricola, one is greeted by a warm smile from pretty hostesses. You might notice them for a hot second before getting sucked into the curious décor behind them. With a late dinner reservation, there were plenty of tables available. We were seated in the back room adorned with Victorian- era ceiling medallions when these guys (pictured above) made a short appearance. No clue what these fried balls were filled with but we wanted to eat them until they were whisked away. It was someone else’s appetizer featuring a cocktail menu used as a grease blotter! Clever approach to suggestive selling.

My cousin and I decided to share the Shibumi Farm’s Mushroom Flatbread: oregano, great road farm egg, chili flakes and Parmigiano-Reggiano (pictured above) and the Kale Salad which “Insta’d” way nicer than the non-filtered image I caught with dim lighting. The kale salad felt as if we were “Doing a body good” with its reputation as a super-food. Basic in its presentation, it was a straight forward salad (no frills) but every leaf was so crunchy and green they seemed to be individually plucked by Kale-Fairies. The flat bread pizza was something straight out of a Riviera Cafe. Throw a sunny-side-up egg on a pizza and I’m sold! Why do egg yolks make everything better? I suppose we should ask the French. They are so good for shoving a sunny-side up egg on a rando-plate.

Although stuffed to the brim, I chose their pan seared tuna steak served over whole grain organic rice. The tuna was nice, but by the time it arrived I was full and unprepared for the steakiness of the tuna steak and the bulk of its fibrous foundation. The presentation was nice and overall it was a wholesome dish. Wholesome is definitely the word…Did I say wholesome yet?

Dessert, there really is always room for one no matter how much pain you’re in. Pictured above: The Jersey Cranberry Apple Crostada with oatmeal-almond streusel and brown sugar ice cream. What a nice combination of sweet and tart with a hint of wintery-spice warmness.  It was another superbly filling course. Basically, I wanted to roll out the door when this was over.

The crostada complimented my Blood Orange Old Fashioned containing:Bulleit Rye, brown sugar and Angostura bitters which was served hot to my surprise. I much preferred this to my first cocktail The Great “Dirt” Farm Martini. While the martini had a cute spin on the traditional dirty martini by using pickled vegetables in lieu of olives, the Old Fashioned was an all-around more flavorful experience with impeccable timing for the dessert course.

imageLast but not least, the bathrooms must get a mention. While I have always been a fan of quirky bathroom experiences, I appreciated the euro-foot pedal at the sink. It felt a bit old-world. Then again, Princeton has always fancied itself as a posh town priding itself on its Ivy League University.

imageThis was juxtaposition at its finest with the neighboring Dyson Airblade… Who doesn’t love to dip their wet paws in that and watch their skin peel off their knuckles?

imageCousin’s night out on the town was a true success and shall be repeated soon. That evening Samantha discovered her new found love for kale and asked me to be one of her bridesmaids this upcoming Fall! With another exciting event on the horizon PeanutPimpMama dreams of all the future yum yumz to come.

That sums up another episode of food and my life around it. Until next time!

~PeanutPimpMama

Address: 11 Witherspoon St. Princeton, NJ 08542  Phone: (609)921-2798

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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