Sunday, January 30, 2011

Behold-- Macbar.

When faced with the question of where to eat for lunch with my sister while we were shopping in SoHo today, I did not need to think twice.  Macaroni and Cheese is one of my all-time favorite meals; you can put any kind of mac-and-cheese in front of me and I will be quiet until its finished.  So, Macbar it was.  I had heard of this mac-and-cheese paradise sometime last week, and knew immediately that I had to try it.

Emeline and I showed up to Macbar at 54 Prince St. around 2pm, and the tiny store was quite busy the whole time we were there.  I was put off upon arrival because the store has only 4 small tables and is about the size of my bedroom with bright, cheese-yellow plastic walls.  We ordered two small mac-and-cheeses;  I had the Mac Lobsta' ($8.99) and Em had the Margarita Mac ($6.99).  The food took about 10 to 12 minutes to come out, but by the time it did a table had opened up so it worked out well.  

Where Macbar lacked in ambiance it made up for with deliciousness.  Emeline's mac was baked and topped with tomatoes, parmesan, mozzarella, and basil, and was perfectly creamy.  The fresh tomatoes were not only placed on top but were mixed in throughout the whole portion, and the mac had quite a nice bite to it.

Em's Margerita Mac

I wasn't sure what to expect from my choice as sometimes places skimp on the lobster or use only tiny pieces, but I was definitely not disappointed when I finally dug in.  The Mac Lobsta' had a good amount of fair sized chunks of lobster, as you can see on my fork in the picture below.  About halfway through this dish I thought my life was complete.  The macaroni and lobster were complimented by cognac, tarragon, and mascarpone and was the perfect consistency- not too cheesy but not too dry.  It was baked to a crusty golden-brown on the top and this added a nice crunch to each bite.

I want it again right nowwwwwwwww.

The medium and large sized portions came in a funny yellow, elbow macaroni shaped dish, but both Em and I agreed that the size small was more than enough for lunch.  The crowd varied from tourists to people who seemed to have been there before, and I need to give a shout out to the loud, annoying girl from Orlando, Florida who tried to snag our table before we could.  Hope you enjoyed your mac, Florida girl.  The whole restaurant loved hearing every word you said!

Final opinion:  Go to Macbar-- Not for the ambiance or company, but for the amazing mac-and-cheese.  And don't be boring; try one of their interesting combos!  You can have plain mac-and-cheese out of a box when you get home.

Macbar: 54 Prince St. at Lafayette St., (212-226-0211, http://www.macbar.net/)

Places I need to try NOW

... in no particular order.

1. Blaue Gans- I'm always down for schnitzel.

2. Veselka- Ukrainian diner- yeahhhh.

3. Korilla- Korean BBQ Burrito Truck

4. Punjabi Grocery and Deli- Cheap veggie curries open 24 hours.

5. Teany- One word- Moby.

6. Boqueria- Best tapas in NYC?  Yes please.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pad Thai

I have had a package of banh pho (oriental rice noodles) just sitting on my cabinet for a while now, so on Monday I decided to go for it and give homemade Pad Thai a try.  Pad Thai is generally known as a popular westernized dish, but on the streets of Thailand vendors have been perfecting the recipe for years.  

I read online that the key to making Pad Thai is to have all of your ingredients prepared and ready to throw into the wok before you actually start cooking so that nothing gets overcooked in the process.  I had recipes for the dish in two different cookbooks, so I decided to combine the aspects that I liked from both.  I definitely wanted include egg in the dish, since I am obsessed with egg in asian dishes, and I also wanted to include tofu and shrimp.  I also used green and red bell peppers, a green chili pepper, scallions, 4 cloves of garlic, fish sauce, sugar, bean-sprouts, cilantro, and crushed peanuts.  You can basically add as much or as little veg as you want, but its more important to go by the measurements for the noodles and fish sauce.  Since I have just recently started to try to cook legitimate meals, I am always a bit nervous about burning oil or garlic, so sometimes I alter the order in which I add things to a dish.  I was also a bit apprehensive about handling and cooking the tofu, because apparently tofu breaks apart really easily.  I didn't realize to look for extra-firm tofu at the store, but just plain firm ended up working perfectly!




So basically everything goes into the wok starting with the tofu and shrimp and ending with the bean-sprouts and peanuts.  The noodles get cooked on the side before tossing them in, and the tofu should be cooked first until the pieces are golden on all sides.  To add the egg, you push the mixture to the side of the wok and crack one egg into the cleared space.  Scramble it up (or you can crack and scramble it before adding into the wok) and when it is almost fully cooked it is ready to mix into the rest of the dish.



After the egg is mixed, add the bean-sprouts and let it cook for a few more minutes.  Last add the cilantro and peanuts to serve!  I would say that my first attempt at this dish was quite successful.  I did not find it as flavorful as restaurant Pad Thai, but with all of the fresh ingredients in the mix it was hard to hate.  Next time I would definitely try to use rice vermicelli instead of the flat, wide noodles that I used.  I would also slightly undercook the noodles before adding them to the wok so that they don't mush up as mine slightly did.



Lets just say, leftovers disappeared from the fridge quickly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Union Square Greenmarket

Last Saturday I went to the farmers market in Union Square.  It was so cold outside so we did not linger long but on our pass through we stopped at the Buon Pane Bakery stand for bread.  The man working the stand jokingly said that all loaves were on sale for $2.00.  We couldn't tell if he was serious or not, but it turned out that he was not kidding!  I guess because it was so late in the day he just wanted to get rid of what he had.  Marissa settled on a loaf of french sourdough, and I went for a focaccia with onions, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.  The focaccia, which was supposedly made the day before, was only $1.00.   Now that I have eaten most of it, I can attest that it was amazing.  It was perfectly crusty but soft in the middle, even after sitting in freezing temperatures all day!  The sourdough was equally as good.  I can never get sourdough at my regular bakery on Arthur Ave, so I will definitely remember this loaf whenever I am in the Union Square area.  The only negative about Buon Pane is that the stand has no electricity, thus no bread slicer.  No big deal though.  This was the first time I have bought anything from the Greenmarket, but I would definitely recommend this bakery!


I didn't take a picture before I broke into the focaccia, but I do have one midway through my lunch slice!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Macbar

OK so on a google search for lobster mac-and-cheese in New York, Marissa just came across Macbar.  Yes, although it seems too good to be true, this is a restaurant on Prince St. in SoHo devoted entirely to the creamy, cheesy pasta goodness.  The menu boasts bold varieties such as Mayan Chipotle, Mac Stroganoff, Mac Quack, and the holy grail of mac-and-cheese, Mac Lobsta'.  Prices range from $5.99 to $17.99 for different sizes and flavors.  Plus, the website is super cool!  Now, I'm quite overwhelmed with all of this new information and even just the idea of a restaurant completely obsessed with mac-and-cheese,  but I think I would definitely have to spring for the Mac Lobsta' or the Cheeseburger Mac.  I CAN'T WAIT to try this place and I'll be sure to let you know all the deets!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is that to stay or to go?

So, lately I've been really into learning how to make great meals and working on my cooking technique. I'm also a bit of a good food addict, and I find myself gushing over Yelp reviews often.  Theres nothing I love more than a great meal at an interesting restaurant, and I thought a blog would be the perfect platform for me to record my cooking conquests and restaurant discoveries!  As much as I loved recording my travels on my Second Hand News blog, I just did not think that it was the right outlet to start writing about food, so voila! 'To Stay or to Go?' is born.


Over the holiday I was lucky to go visit my boyfriend Charlie in London, and of course was able to have some great meals, homecooked as well as in restaurants such as Soho's Koya and Banh Mi Bay near Holborn.  I should have some posts and pictures up about these soon!  I'll also post about a few meals that I have made or helped make in the recent past, and maybe some recipes.


One thing you should know about me is that I am obsessed with noodles, and have spent many weekend days last semester just going down to Ramen houses in the East Village.  Koya in London was a great place for Udon, and I hope to try Ippudo in the East Village soon (hopefully this weekend).  I'll definitely be documenting my love affair with noodles here, and I'll have to get over my embarrassment of taking pictures of food in restaurants so I can have some good images for you!


I'm really excited about starting this blog because for Christmas I got not 1 but 3 cookbooks, and I can't wait to start experimenting!  I've found that through the last 3.5 years at Fordham I have learned a lot of practical knowledge about media and the world in general, but I have lacked in the marketable skill of cooking.  Now that I am no longer going to be a student and eating ramen is no longer acceptable, it's time for me to get cooking!


I hope that you will comment with any advice that could help me learn!  My mom, Charlie, and of course Jamie Oliver have been my best helpers so far, but trust me, I need as much advice as I can get!



These are my Christmas cookbooks, there are some great recipes I can't wait to try!

As a last note, I have added a cool little tool to my blog called Apture.  Apture allows you to easily get extra information about anything I have mentioned in a post!  All you have to do is highlight a bit of any word, and click 'Learn More.'  A small new window will pop up with info from Google, Wikipedia, and other sites, and you can take it from there!  Try it with one of the restaurant names I have mentioned!  Also, if you are a gmail user, follow me!  Just click Follow at the top left hand of the blog and you'll receive updates when I add a new post!
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