Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the Farm

There are some nights after work where the inspiration to make something for dinner is not as strong as the allure of take-out or going out. Tonight was one of those nights. I didn't have a protein defrosting in the refrigerator which means either going to Greene Grape Provisions or take-out.

With Marc leaving tomorrow morning for Florida we decided to treat ourselves and go out. At first we decided Italian, then mid-way we changed direction at a whim. Marc thought Flatbush Farm & Barn sounded even better. It's the kind of restaurant that is unpretentious but stylish. The high ceilings, large windows facing the street, and long bar opposing the row of tables that nestle next to darkly painted wainscot have a very Brooklyn vibe.

We settled in, reviewed the menu, ordered a cocktail and debated what dishes to order. Drinks arrived, a Belvedere on the rocks and a pear martini for me. After some discussion we ordered Grilled Iceberg Lettuce, Caesar Dressing, Tomato Confit Crostini and the Spaetzle with Kabocha Squash, Wild Mushrooms and Pesto.

I was leery of grilled iceberg and was really happy to get the spaetzle. The spaetzle with a bite of mushroom had an earthy flavor. The deeply flavored pesto and squash rounded out the whole dish.

For dinner, Long Island Duck Steak, Duck Confit, Dried Cherry, Kabocha, Sprout Leaves, Creamy Polenta and NY Strip with Broccoli, Bacon and Herbaceous Sauce. When the entrees arrived I looked at my duck and turned the plate 180 degrees to face me and knew that's how the chef would have preferred it be presented. My entree was subtle, delicious, the duck demi-glace had that stocky, deeply caramelized and sticky smack of richness. It was so good I didn't even want to try any of the NY Strip, I was happy with what I ordered and enjoyed the creamy polenta and pieces of duck confit hidden under the sliced duck breast. All the flavors melded, it was a flavor-story in every bite. We both had a glass of French "Chateau du I don't know" that complemented the food perfectly.

I forced the last bite and finished stuffed to the gills. Why on Earth we ordered coffee a cappuccino and a Warm Chocolate Cake with Banana Chip Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce I just didn't know. I couldn't fathom dessert after all the savory notes I enjoyed throughout the dinner. Oh, I remember, I ordered the cappuccino because the waiter said he makes a really good one and indeed once the espresso was brewed the luscious roasted coffee smell set me at ease.

My spoon sunk into the warm chocolate dessert and brushed the banana chip ice cream for fun. The meltingly decadent spoonful was the first of many jabs at that dessert. I thought to myself why I hadn't blogged about this place. I've dined here half a dozen times. I knew it was time to share this place, a gem of a restaurant that hits many notes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dog Eat Dog

I know, I've been a bad bad blogger - it's been tough I have to say - with work, life, love - I think about blogging and the time slips away. A week later I think "oh, I shoulda blogged about X,Y or Z. Well, with dinner out of the way and a French Martini keeping me company I really was inspired to write about my experience at a new eatery we discovered in Brooklyn.

I've been planning a painting project for a few weeks now and trekked to a hardware/paint store on Flatbush Ave and Bergen Street. Marc and I are trying to find the perfect color to paint an accent wall in our kitchen. The counters are a mottled gray lava-stone and I want to make a bold color statement to play off of the pretty, albeit drab counter tops. Weeks ago, I looked at Restoration Hardware paint colors - all are soothing and sophisticated and I found a color that resembles charcoal.

Now, I love to paint, I've probably painted more apartments in my time than I'd like to remember. I've been in the new place for just over a year and I am itching to drag out that brush and painters tape to get in some practice. The trip to the paint store was quite successful - mulling over paint chips and examining them with my mind's eye of what I "think" is the most appropriate color, I bought paint supplies and took home about a dozen paint chips to examine them in different light.

After a process of quick elimination, Marc and I both decided Benjamin Moore's "Day's End" will be the perfect shade to make that bold if not "wow" statement. Leaving the paint store we decided to walk down this short stretch of Bergen Street where cafes and restaurants are one-named like "Melt" and "Bark" curious for a small quaint street. Makes me wonder if one place was trying to upstage the other.

My dear friend, Aimee, mentioned a hot dog joint called "Bark" and when Marc and I passed it I felt an immediate affinity to the place since I had word-of-mouth accolades of its existence - from a vegetarian none-the-less!

We passed by and I mentioned that we should try it. We continued down the street looked at Melt and immediately turned around and agreed, we need a hot dog!

Walking into Bark, as in any new place, my inner foodie tried to figure out the joint as soon as possible. It was an order at the counter, sit down at the communal tables and listen for your name to get your food-kind-of place.

This place is all about the humble dog, sausage, wurst, what have you. A simple, straight-forward place that states exactly who they are and what they do. I totally appreciate that - it shows passion and direction. Now, gimmie that chili-cheese dog!

Marc ordered a wurst made of veal and pork served with sauerkraut, rye bread and grainy mustard. My chili cheese dog was brought to me in a humble, baseball park-like cardboard package. We devoured our "dogs" with gusto. The flavors and fresh ingredients struck a gastronomic cord. Topped off with a vanilla shake that was speckled with real vanilla bean we were we pacified like a puppy with a new toy.