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SNACKS AND THE CITY: Balvanera’s Fresh Take On Burrata Is Worth Snacking On

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Nestled in the lower east side of NYC is Balvanera, an Argentine restaurant with romantic ambiance, a great wine list, and a burrata salad that begs your spoon to take a dip.

My trip to Balvanera was by happenstance… after an event wrapped early nearby, I followed my gut (pretty much literally) to this charming corner spot that was basking in the glow of the warm lighting inside, and the darkening sky outside. One look at the menu was all the convincing I needed.

I was on the hunt for a snack – and opted as I often do for the shared plates. There is a certain feeling of triumph that comes when you know you’ve ordered well, and tonight, in tandem with a great glass of wine, I felt that satisfaction.

We relished the flavor of an heirloom tomato salad, a roasted cauliflower with dried apricots and this delicious burrata.

Why I Loved It

What also lended itself to the charm of this ”barrio” (or neighborhood) feel was a really fantastic soundtrack. Amy Winehouse was playing at the perfect volume, followed by some Nina Simone. This Stanton Street (Lower East side) spot had the added charm of feeling like you were in one of the last remaining sections of New York, that still has an “old New York” feel.

A special thanks for the great service. This was a drop in, no one knew I would be writing about my experience. It was a moment of serendipity we come to appreciate in the city – when the steps you take lead you to the perfect spot serving up the perfect dish.

 

 

Dessert

SNACKS AND THE CITY: Finally, The Inside Scoop On The TAK Room Creamsicle I’m Obsessed With

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Orange Creamsicle dessert from Tak Room NYC

Now I finally know what goes behind the secret dessert I dream about.

Hidden within Hudson Yards is a new favorite of mine…Chef Thomas Keller’s TAK Room. I went to dinner there back in May, and honestly, it was not just some of the best food I’ve had, it was the service that was truly above and beyond expectation.

The restaurant is high end, to be sure, so I was wondering what I would be able to bring to the Snackist website that would be unique, tasty, and snackable.

Well, I found it – but it wasn’t on the menu! A creamsicle inspired dessert that looked – and tasted – scrumptious, but there was only the server’s verbal explanation of what went into it – it wasn’t described on the menu or the website.

Until now. Thanks to their twitter feed, a detailed look at what goes into this memorable treat that is as beautiful as it is sweet and delicious. And not surprisingly, there’s a lot of time and thought that went into this:

Vanilla Ice Cream, infused for 24 hours with orange zest, and Orange Sorbet made with Cara Cara, Valencia, and Navel Oranges, held together in a white chocolate and cocoa butter shell.

 

Take one bite of this dessert and you’ll know it was prepared with such care. It has a depth of flavor you’ll want to take your time with. I know people have a tendency to order desserts and share them, but honestly, don’t make me share this. I’m not capable of this level of kindness.

If you’re looking for a splurge worthy dinner, definitely head to Tak Room – check out their menu here! And definitely save room for THIS dessert!!!

Meanwhile, be a dear and follow me on instagram and twitter!

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Restaurants

SNACKS AND THE CITY: Catch Yourself Some Truffle Sashimi

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Sometimes the words on a menu just don’t do a dish justice.

I’d be hard pressed to find something on the menu at Catch’s meatpacking location that I didn’t think was amazing. But sitting right there on the top of the ‘Cold Plates’ menu is an item that would easily get lost in the sea of great choices – a “Truffle Sashimi” ($33) that lists its components as Tuna, Hamachi, Chili ponzu, caviar and black truffle puree.

IT. IS. HEAVEN. Catch specializes in seafood that’s tender and fresh, and that’s the foundation of this dish. But a lot of people may not be fully read-in on some of the other ingredients, so let’s break it down.

Tuna and Hamachi – you know fresh sushi grade tuna, but you may be less familiar with Hamachi. Hamachi – or Yellowtail – is often described as a ‘sturdy’ fish similar to tuna that is caught primarily with hook and line and weights between 10 to 20 lbs. It is mild, smooth and sometimes even described as buttery. It has become a staple in restaurant appetizer menus where it is thinly sliced and complemented with jalapeno to interchange the smoothness with the heat.  BTW – According to Inland Seafood, some sushi bars grill the skeleton and the bits of meat left on it as a little snack. (Um, no thanks.)

Chili Ponzu – Ponzu is a citrus-based sauce that’s a staple in Japanese cuisine. It’s used as a marinade, as a condiment, an addition to soy sauce, you name it. Rice wine, rice vinegar, bonito fish flakes, seaweed and an infusion of yuzu fruit is added. Yuzu is in the family with oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Other Japanese citrus fruits are also added. You can buy this in stores, but who knows what magic Catch is adding to theirs. That’s what’s pooling at the bottom in the photo and in this particular case it leans closer to the sweetness from the fruit than the sourness of the vinegar. The ponzu in this dish hits just the right balance.

Caviar – great caviar isn’t as salty as what you’ve bought in stores because it’s super fresh. Catch is all about freshess, so this caviar is mild and flavorful, slightly salty and adds beautiful texture.

Black Truffle Puree – truffles are the fruiting portion of a fungus. They are treasured like diamonds in the world of cooking for their flavor and for the arduous nature of harvesting them. Their flavor is described as a mix of nutty, earthy and a bit mushroomy. In this case it’s pureed and dotted on top of the dish.

This dish may feel small but it’s a healthy portion as a starter – or for me, a snack. (It’s great for sharing.) It might seem high at $33 for one order, but the taste combinations are unforgettable, the dish is smooth, sweet and savory all at the same time, and if you’re treating yourself to dinner at Catch anyway, this is a must!

Follow Catch on twitter and instagram.

And follow me, Brian Balthazar on twitter and instagram!

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Mexican

SNACKS AND THE CITY: Yellowfin Tuna Tacos From Brasserie Ruhlmann

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Right in the heart of Rockefeller Center in NYC, the perfect bite of fresh yellowfin tuna, jalapeno aioli and crunchy tortilla awaits you.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking for a place to have a bite in the Big Apple. So many places, so many menus. Where to go? What to order? Brasserie Ruhlmann is one well worth a visit for the mini yellowfin tuna tacos appetizer in of itself.

Sitting innocently on the ‘bar food’ menu, these bites are perfect for a light afternoon snack to get you through the hour or two before dinner. (Or order dinner here, for that matter, you won’t regret it!)

Tiny taco shells are stuffed with just the right bite of yellowfin tuna, a jalapeno aioli, (which I initially mistook for a creamy guac sauce upon first glance) thinly sliced radish and a splash of lime at your own discretion (do it!) are perfect with their spicy jalapeno margarita. (I like mine with mezcal.)

Yearning for more than a snack? Definitely consider their Lobster Roll or Sweet Corn Risotto with Poached Lobster. … Wow. It’s WOW levels of delicious. Or steak frites because French restaurant.

These would be fun to make at home, provided you find fresh sushi grade tuna. Incidentally, miniature taco shells like these are virtually impossible to find in stores, aside from the popular line of ‘Scoops’ you see in the chip aisle, which are good, but don’t have the legit look or ‘adorable’ factor that the real thing provides. If you’re really hankering for something mini in a taco shell, you’ve got to check out MiniTacoShells.com, which likely finds the bulk of its customers from the restaurant and catering industry, as they sell not only tiny shells but also the serving trays to serve them on.

Ruhlmann is one of those places that often deserves to be more crowded than it is. Why not stop by and grab a table!

Follow @BrasserieRuhlmann on instagram

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And follow MiniTacoShells on instagram!

 

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