The delicious tale of the Four Horsemen

Long before Four Horsemen made an appear on Master of None, I had wandered into this cozy restaurant but was dissuaded by the wait times. However, because of some miracle (the cold weather) my fiancé and I were able to get a seat last week! If you do end up here on a Friday or Saturday night it is better to arrive earlier than run the risk of not eating here at all. There is a nice wine selection and a great menu which you can easily turn into a full dinner which, is what we did. Their winter menu is weaved with winter ingredients that make my mouth water. Charred white carrots, stewed wild mushrooms and whipped honey ricotta are all comforting ingredients to me.  The deliciousness of the food makes up for the lack of space and I'd gladly come back to see what they put on their menu next.

‘Montealva’, whipped honey goat cheese with housemade crackers

‘Montealva’, whipped honey goat cheese with housemade crackers

Beef tartare, seeds, buttermilk, sesame cracker

Beef tartare, seeds, buttermilk, sesame cracker

Charred white carrot, navel orange, thyme

Charred white carrot, navel orange, thyme

Koshihikari rice, chicken confit, onsen egg, wild mushrooms

Koshihikari rice, chicken confit, onsen egg, wild mushrooms

Spaghetti, maine uni, meyer lemon, chives

Spaghetti, maine uni, meyer lemon, chives

Favorites: 

Beef tartare- The tartare is excellent because of the textures throughout the dish; the seeds balance well with the marinated meat and gives this dish a different flavor than the usual beef tartare. The buttermilk did not shine through in my opinion.

Koshihikari rice- This dish was basically a chicken rice stew with egg and mushrooms. This is exactly what I'd want to eat on cold night and I was so happy to find it on their menu. Excellent broth with a delicate sweet/sour balance. The rice, chicken and egg were stewed just enough so that you could pick up on all the flavors without it being too mushy

Charred white carrots- I had never tasted a white carrot before trying it here but now I am in love! The char on the carrots is a brilliant move adding so much smokiness to this dish. The aioli on top was the perfect dipping sauce for these carrots.

When in Rome do as New Yorkers do and EAT

In preparation for my trip to Italy I tried not to eat too much Italian food so I could eat it straight for 11 days. I was no good at it given how I ate caccio e pepe literally the afternoon of my flight (for comparison purposes, obviously). When I got to Rome I was certainly excited to see the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Baths of Caracalla, etc. but, I was more excited about the food because Italy is the ultimate foodie place! As long as you avoid the english and tourist menus, eating in Italy should not be that expensive and especially not as expensive as New York. Below are some of my favorite spots in Rome. Florence and Milan deserve their own highlight so stay tuned!

1. Ai Tre Scalini- Great lasagno bolo during apertivi and for a great price! Check out the neighborhood afterwards for boutique shops and gelato at Fatamorgana

2. Roscioli- Some of the best espresso I've ever had was at this cafe. Come here during breakfast hour or for a quick bite in the afternoon. Be sure to get the mini roast beef sandwiches, bread with sweet cream, cream puffs and croissants. You'll have to stand and eat at the bar so make sure you know a little Italian so you can at least try to converse with the locals. 

3. La Botticella- Your mind is not fooling you. You are indeed looking at cacio e pepe in a parmesan crust. This amazing hole in the wall restaurant serves HUGE portions and cooks with the same love as your grandma. 

4. Freni e Frizioni- This awesome bar gets very crowded at aperitivo hour and once you go you'll see why. The cocktails are amazing (see Spritz below) and they have a delicious aperitivo buffet. You order and pay at the register before you hand your receipt to the bartender for him to make your drink. It's a shame we don't drink Spritz during happy hour here in the US! 

5. Mordi e Vai- Amazing paninis inside of the Testaccio Market. If you're a fan of tripe (I am not) then get the tripe panini here. Below is the steak panini with peppers which I found incredible. The beef is slow cooked and put on delicious soft bread. Paninis in Italy are not pressed so don't be surprised when it looks like the one below.

6. Gelateria del Teatro- Make sure you stop here to get delicious gelato near the ancient ruins. Below is ricotta cheese, almond, fig gelato with a scoop of coffee gelato. It may sound strange to you but wait till you try it.

7. Volpetti- Volpetti is a foodie grocery through and through. Try their empanadas, fried vegetables, cheeses but don't miss the buffalo mozzarella pizza. The hunks of soft mozzarella on the pizza will keep you coming back for more. 

8. Bonci Pizzarium- Bonci has all the toppings you could ever want among which you'll find find cherry tomato and potato pizza pictured below. Side note: Anthony Bourdain swears by this pizza place! 

9. Bar del Cappuccino- The mom and pop run shop serves amazing hot and cold cappuccino. The special frozen cappuccino is delicious and a sweet treat in the morning. This place also has an amazing pastrami sandwich that can rival NY pastrami.

10. Trattoria Perilli- I've heard rumors that this trattoria has the best carbonara in Rome and so I had to go. The carbonara was cheesy with the perfect balance of spice from the peppers. Wish I could have a bite now!

11. Glass Hostaria- Glass Hostaria is a one Michelin starred restaurant in Rome. We did the Traditional tasting menu which was a great way to get all the Roman flavors in one seating. Below is  the scented sumac lamb, stilton cheese, carrots and fennel pollen and coffee, condensed milk gelato, crunchy almonds, and Baileys ice cream. Glass Hostaria has a great atmosphere with scrumptious modern Italian food.

12. Cul de Sac- Craving a great meat and cheese plate with some wine at an amazing price point? THIS is your place. The vast wine selection is also impressive.

13. Tiber Gelato- Cross Rome's oldest bridge Ponte Fabricio into Tiber Island and stop at Tiber Gelato to get a scoop of gelato. I got the cookies gelato which had large chunks of chocolate cookie in creamy vanilla gelato. 

 

 

Best Bougie Tastings for Under $100

In a city like New York you can expect your meal to cost as much (and sometimes even more) than your rent. But you're young, you need good Instagram pictures and you're tired of eating Thai every weekend. So what do you do? You look up interesting dining options in NYC and two words, "Tasting Menus" comes up. 

Should you splurge for that $200 without tax/tip/drinks meal? Well yeah you could but let me save you that extra $100. Here are my three favorite tasting menus that are worth every penny.

1. Contra

From left to right: Fresh bread and butter/    Oyster, caviar and almond/Carrot, uni, sabayon and truffles/Veal breast, celery and apple/Lobster, radish and burrata/Short rib, treviso and raspberry/Vanilla parfait and rangpur lime curd/Coconut, tangerine and olive oil

From left to right: Fresh bread and butter/Oyster, caviar and almond/Carrot, uni, sabayon and truffles/Veal breast, celery and apple/Lobster, radish and burrata/Short rib, treviso and raspberry/Vanilla parfait and rangpur lime curd/Coconut, tangerine and olive oil

Favorites

The fresh bread and butter made by co-owner, Fabian von Hauske (extra $3) is a knockout. It is the perfect opening to the meal and you'll be tempted to eat the butter on its own. 

Uni with roasted carrots, truffles and sabayon (light custard). I'm a firm believer that if uni is in a dish, it is instantly the star. I was so wrong. I can still remember the candied carrots and how delighted my mouth was to explore how uni and truffles can elevate something so simple like a carrot.

Contra offers a daily changing 5 dish tasting menu that costs $67. So if you're in need of an adventure. GO! 

2. Salinas

From left to right:     Anchos Jardinera, smoked chicken croquetas and queso mozarabe/Butternut squash, blue cheese, baby kale, toasted seeds with Chardonnay vinaigrette/Spicy shrimp and fish empanadas/Oyster in creme fraiche with tuna tartare/Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon/Grilled yellow fish tuna skirt steak/Squid ink pasta with shrimp/Grilled chicken, wild mushrooms, judion beans with a vinegar reduction/Pistachio ice cream, crushed nuts and dark chocolate. 

From left to right: Anchos Jardinera, smoked chicken croquetas and queso mozarabe/Butternut squash, blue cheese, baby kale, toasted seeds with Chardonnay vinaigrette/Spicy shrimp and fish empanadas/Oyster in creme fraiche with tuna tartare/Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon/Grilled yellow fish tuna skirt steak/Squid ink pasta with shrimp/Grilled chicken, wild mushrooms, judion beans with a vinegar reduction/Pistachio ice cream, crushed nuts and dark chocolate. 

Favorites

Popcorn crushed baby octopus, spicy pepper squid ink aioli and preserved lemon was the 5th course to be served and somehow I had the room to eat every bit of it. Squid ink aioli deserves to be on everything but pair it with lemon, crushed almonds, octopus and lemon and you have the perfect seafood bite. 

Salinas has the best cooked tuna steak I've ever had. The sear on the steak is nice and caramelized while the fish is still tender and juicy. 

Salinas is the best Spanish style tapas you'll find in the city at three amazing price points and the dishes are served family style (shared by the table). The options are as follows: $65 (8 courses), $80 (12 courses) and $95 (14 courses). Eat a light lunch before coming here. I could barely make it to my Uber after dinner.

3. The Musket Room

From left to right: Wild goose oysters with smoked vinaigrette, grapefruit and finger lime/ Ora King salmon, oil, seed, and herbs/Quail, blackberries, bread sauce and roasted onions/Cantebury angus, eggplant and Sauce Americaine/Grapefruit and dill/Carrot cake, curd and chai. 

From left to right: Wild goose oysters with smoked vinaigrette, grapefruit and finger lime/ Ora King salmon, oil, seed, and herbs/Quail, blackberries, bread sauce and roasted onions/Cantebury angus, eggplant and Sauce Americaine/Grapefruit and dill/Carrot cake, curd and chai. 

Favorites

My only complaint is that I wish I had more quail. The quail paired with blackberries almost reminded me of Thanksgiving (but classier, of course). The bread juice was a nice way to add moisture to the dish since quail can be dry.

Can you tell how amazing the Cantebury angus dish is from my picture? I think you can tell that the sear was perfect. The angus was cooked medium rare and seasoned well. Pro tip: when you have good quality meat, the seasoning is merely icing on the cake. 

The Musket Room offers a 6 course tasting with the option of an all vegetarian tasting for $85. If you've always wanted to see New Zealand, consider getting a taste of it first here!