Tag Archives: Butternut Squash

Eataly

Let’s just get right to the point. Eataly is my Disneyland in New York. I can spend all day and night there and still long to go back the next day. I hate to put Batali and Bastianich on a high horse again, but they’ve done one hell of a job with Eataly. For those of you who are a bit lost, Eataly is a giant Italian goods purveyor. But in addition to the giant grocery store are seven small restaurants with their specialities, such as pizza and pasta, vegetables, seafood, and meat. This entry will focus on my journey into the Pasta region of the market.Let’s begin with what I personally believe is the best thing at Eataly. The Classic Mozzarella, which is made fresh daily and drizzled with sweet olive oil and served with a pinch of sea salt. The cheese itself is buttery soft and has a mild flavor, and once everything is paired together, it’s ethereal. This dish certainly fuels my new mantra of simplicity is best. Next up we have a Butternut Squash Lasagna. Let me take this time to rephrase my mantra, simplicity done right is best. Although the lasagna was fairly simple, there certainly wasn’t a wow factor associated with it. It just felt like the butternut squash lasagnas I’ve gotten at other markets i.e. Whole foods (at half the price too).Finally we have the Paccheri al Sugo di Mare or known as the seafood pasta. When described, Pasta cooked al dente poured over with a flavor filled red sauced infused with a seafood medley of Mussels, Clams, Shrimp and Calamari, sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Now I normally love al dente pastas, but this was barely cooked. And like the lasagna, it just wasn’t a dish I fell in love with.

Even though the entrees were a bit disappointing, you can always make it up with.Gelato!! The bottom was a Pistachio and a Sweet Cream, while the sneaky one at the top was Green Apple.

Next time you visit Eataly, just visit the Crudo bar and order a glass of rosé, some prosciutto and mozarella, along with a few oysters. It’s my new favorite pastime.

Osteria Mozza

Sorry for the delay guys! As many of you know, my life has been hectic these past few days after getting employed in the restaurant industry. The past few weeks I’ve been on some crazy dining journeys so hopefully I’ll be able to share them with you when I have time.

After hearing about Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s notorious success (questionable New York Times’ 4-star rating) at New York based Del Posto. I had to see what all the fuss was about, so I decided to sample their fare at the sister restaurant Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. On a side note, even though we showed up promptly for our reservation, we were not seated until after a 30 minute wait. Tsk tsk

Even on a random Monday evening at around 9:30pm, the restaurant is still at full capacity and hustling. We elected to sample the Pasta Tasting Menu. Unfortunately for us we came in on a Monday which happened to be Meatless Monday.The meal started off with an amuse bouche of a Goat Cheese Spread and an Olive Tapenade over a crunchy baguette with basil. A great simple light starter with an intense kick from the olives. I’m not a huge fan of olives, but the dish was certainly delightful.The bread is just your average Joe Schmo bread, a bit unimpressed.The first dish was a Coach Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli with Five Lilies. The raviolis were light and delicate, and the smooth flavor of the goat cheese helped round it out (pun intended). Next, a Farfalle with Chanterelles e Noci. To me, it was a bit bland. I don’t think mushroom based pastas run well with me. A Butternut Squash Mezzalune with Amaretti was up next. The mezzalune filled with butternut squash itself was pretty amazing, but then it actually got ruined with the amaretti topping. Now usually I love contrasting flavors and textures, but the sweetness of the amaretti was absolute overkill, this could’ve well been a dessert. My friend actually aptly named this “butterscotch” instead of butternut squash. Batting clean up on the menu was a Gnocchi al Pomodoro with Basil e Ricotta al Forno. Although the dish was remarkably simple, it felt like I was biting into morsels of heaven after the disaster of a dish before. But honestly, now that I think about it, gnocchi and pomodoro sauce? Let’s get creative!Out of the pastas, this final one was my absolute favorite. A Corzetti Stampati with Eggplant, Olives, and Fresh Ricotta. To me, a pasta should be hearty and robust and topped with plenty of cheese. Even though I direly craved meat, the eggplant was a welcome substitute. I’m pretty sure I wolfed this bad boy down and then that of my partners. A quick side story, since our meal was taking a while and actually getting late (close to midnight), we had asked our server to see if they could just present us with the dishes so we can quickly eat and leave. This bad boy scoop of sorbet took them a whole 12 minutes to plate up. Back to the dish. As an intermezzo, we were served a Sorbetto di Coconut, which was topped with a piece of dried pineapple. It was sharp and refreshing and served its purpose as a palate cleanser. Finally for dessert, Rosemary Olive Oil cakes with Olive Oil Gelato. I am in love with Olive Oil Ice Cream, but the cakes which to me should be served warm, were actually cool. The rosemary laced candied sugar was phenomenal.

Osteria Mozza Scores:
Food: 8/10 – Although the meal overall was a success, there were a few standout dishes that I preferred to have substituted.

Restaurant Environment: 7/10 – A great open feel, and a few “unique” diners (such as a man reiterating that he would die if a peanut got close to him) added to the flair.

Service: 4/10 – I did expect more in this department, but sitting us 30 minutes after our reservation, and even asking to have our dishes sped up, serving it to us at a snail’s pace was just ridiculous.

Value: 6/10 – For $69, the pasta tasting isn’t a bank breaker, but no meat? Come on..

Overall: 7/10

Bouchon Bakery

Thomas Keller is a cuisine extraordinaire. Having created such successful venues such as the highly touted Per Se and French Laundry. There’s a reason why Keller is one of the most decorated chefs in the all of history. Countless James Beard awards and Michelin Stars, the man simply produces great food.

No, I didn’t complete my life by eating at Per Se. However, I did have great food at Keller’s affordable Bouchon Bakery.

From the looks of it, everything here is done to an art. From the heartiest of sandwiches to the tiny morsels of macaroons, you can sense the effort placed into each item.

I snagged myself a Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Toasted Brioche. Smeared with an herb spread, crunchy fresh cucumbers, and pickled red onions. Every ingredient had a reason, and together they harmoniously produced one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. The brioche was buttery and perfectly toasted, the cucumbers added an extra texture, the spread blooming with flavor upon every bite, and the meaty salmon was the perfect main.Up next was their Butternut Squash Panini. Hands down one of the best meatless options in the world. With the addition of apple slices, a pear marmalade, a nutty brie and various herbs, the flavor is out of this world. The pressed panini adds a marvelous crunch while the butternut squash filling is an ode to Keller’s ingenuity. Now we come to the piece de resistance, Keller’s take on the Nutter Butter. This cookie would send the Cookie Monster into comatose. With ooey gooey peanut butter sandwiched in between warm peanut butter cookies. Words cannot do this baby justice, it’s just something you have to try and fall in love with.

Bouchon Bakery Scores:
Food: 9/10 – Corner Bakery and Panera, you’ve met your match.

Restaurant Environment: N/A

Service: N/A

Value: 7/10- At around $13 per, these sandwiches aren’t exactly part of anyone’s value meal.

Overall: 8.5/10