Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Brunches

What a great weekend that surprisingly didn't include tons of sleep: I ran Saturday errands which included grabbing great seats for Sade's concert in June, did some cleaning and organizing. I managed to get last minute tickets to Janet Jackson's Number Ones - Up close and Personal tour which stopped at Radio City Music Hall.

Before my trek into the city to see Janet, I had to brunch. Last weekend  was filled with fabulous photo shoots for my upcoming exhibition, "Her Word As Witness." I learned of the restaurant, Black Swan, from one of the writers I photographed, Nekesa. She raved about it  telling me that she and her husband frequents the spot because the delicious food. I immediately put Black Swan on my list and actually bumped it up, past Basil, Red Rooster, past Egg, past Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Funny, how I never noticed this place, it's on Bedford, avenue a major thruway for cyclists in central Brooklyn.

Where is Black Swan, exactly?

It's right there on Bedford Avenue near Lafayette Avenue near the G train station and the KFC.

Ruby joined me for brunch. It was good to hang with her after a long, mean winter. (Ruby is the white bike in the crowd. She's fierce, love her to death.)

The french toast that my friend raved about actually came with smoked bacon. Despite what the menu requested, I asked for a substitution, chicken apple sausage. That worked. The Black Swan is lightly designed with shellacked, wooden planks for tables and a skylight as the main source for light during the daytime. The dining section has a long community table, four booths and about 8 tables for couples. I ordered the rum French toast with caramelized bananas and the chicken and lemon flavored waffles. My first order the sausage and chicken were burnt to a crisp. (I wish I had gotten a picture of that) Of course, I sent it back, which is advised against, I couldn't eat around such culinary damage. 

My second attempt at the rum French toast. And, how French can you get: the bread was none other than a store baked croissant!  

 There's my chicken and lemon waffles in the background.

 This was simply delicious. I'm always curious about the seasonings choices that people use for their fried chicken. I know I tasted garlic, perhaps just salt and pepper. 

The next day I meet my amazing friend, Noelle, in Harlem. She's here visiting from Miami, a city I'll be visiting in a few weeks for a photo shoot. We, well, I decided on Native, a restaurant that I've always enjoyed. I was very close to choosing Melba's, another soul food spot that has a good reputation. 

Noelle orders eggs Florentine with grilled portabella mushrooms on an English muffin.

I get the beans and rice with spinach and plantains. We share an entree of friend Moroccan chicken. I love the beans and rice, who can go wrong with that? Plantains, succulent. Spinach, my favorite veggie, perfectly seasoned with sliced garlic. The Moroccan chicken was served with creamy mashed potatoes and walnut sauce. If it wasn't on the menu, I wouldn't have known that it was made with walnuts. I would have enjoyed the chicken if it was perhaps made with dark meat as opposed to a breast. I also though the seasonings would have been better suited for a gravy as opposed to being infused into a batter and fried. It was still good. I enjoyed the food and the chat with Noelle.

 This was awesome.

 Noelle, an amazing photographer, professor, educator, friend. 

After walking to the Studio Museum in Harlem then to the Schomburg, which is closed in Sunday, I didn't know that, we got dessert at the very visually stimulating Red Rooster. The atmosphere is, as JJ would say, dynamite! We sat near the front near these towering wood shelves that had all types of memorabilia. Just where I was sitting I saw a cassette tape of M.C. Hammer's You Can't Touch This, a abacus, a transformer toy. Then there were books, including Marcus's own volume of recipes and the latest issue of Uptown magazine which featured Marcus. 
This apple pie was not cool with me. I give it an "E" for effort. I didn't the cheddar cheese crust. Yup, the crust was made with cheese. In culinary theory, it sounds cutting edge, but my tongue was like, fail. If you taste a piece of crust alone it tastes just like a Cheez-It cracker. Cheese and apples don't mix. (Love you, Marcus, muah)

These sweet potato donuts, on the other hand, were great, great, great. I especially loved the very cute presentation. Mini firers. Yes!

 Pureed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sugar. 

 Red Rooster does salmon kinda seriously.

There are actual photographs in the "water closet" at Red Rooster. A real nice touch!

Chefs busy at work. 

Places I ate:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

PhotoStylin': Thiebou Djenne

I tried my hand at styling and photographing the Senegalese national dish, Thiebou Djenne. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Labyrinth of Italian Food

Discovering Eataly two weeks ago was definitely a favorite moment of my love for wandering around the city. After leaving the very too-cool-for-school Ace Hotel (Q-Tip does a weekly DJ set there) I walked along 5th avenue to the subway, I passed Cipriani's, or what used to be, I saw a brightly lit coffee shop. I went in. Decadence. Chocolates, lattes, candy, gelato, sugar and sweetness abound. 

Then, I realized that this wasn't a one-room cafe, but an enterprise that had taken over the entire former supper club. As I ventured deeper into Eataly, I found a chocolate fountain, a cheese shop, a fish market, a pasta station, high end butcher. Everywhere I turned there was yet another element of this Italian megamarket. The most succulent part was that in the midst of all this was four restaurants: a steakhouse, vegetarian, pizza/pasta and seafood, awesome! Eataly, a play on the word, Italy, opened August 31 to tremendous success. During the first few months there were lines to get in. Even now you must have a reservation for the restaurants, but if you're lucky you'll have a 45 minute wait to be seated.

A few days later, I returned to Eataly, this time to try out the food. I decided to on the La Pizza & Pasta. I'm a tremendous lover of the Margherita style pizza so I wanted to see if Eataly did it any justice. Since I was alone I didn't have to wait. I was seated at the bar, overlooking the gold-tiled brick oven, what a fabulous way to bake pizza!

So, I order the the La Verace which is a similar to the Margherita, this has buffalo mozzarella, basil and Parmesan cheese.  A little steep at 18 dollars but it was pretty delicious, I got to see the master pizza makers construct my pizza.

Even as a Broolynite, I've never seen the dough flipping action in real life. There's a first time for everything!

 There's my pizza going into the fire. Vincent hooked me up. 

A masterpiece! 

My neighbor chows down on some pasta, he said he's leaving for Mexico in the morning.

I've reached the halfway mark. I was very pleased with this pizza.

And, my Oxtail ragu.

I couldn't have possibly finished all that food, packed to go!

After my dinner I picked up some focaccia. I never knew something could taste so good. 

Yup, pricey.  

Next time, I'd like to check out the seafood restaurant. 

All types of Italian delicacies I've never heard of. It was fun to taste all these new foods. 

The pastries at Eataly deserve their own posting, I'll make that a separate trip.

I thought this was R2D2, first glance, of course.


200 5th Avenue
Between 23rd and 24th Streets
New York City, 10010