Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brunch at Le Barricou

Le Barricou
533 Grand Street Brooklyn, NY 11211

My friends, Will, and I had brunch at Le Barricou in Williamsburg, Brooklyn about a month ago. They don't take reservations so we had to put our name down when we arrived at the restaurant. Since Will and I were first, I put my name down and the hostess said the wait would be 40 minutes. When our friends arrived we returned to the restaurant and the wait was over.

I really liked the ambiance and decor at Le Barricou because it's warm, homey, cozy, and just a really pleasant place to enjoy good company and good food. I like how the front and entrance of the restaurant is a few tables and a bar and as you may your way in to the back there is additional seating and cozy couches with a warm fireplace. It's truly a nice, cozy waiting area. There's a nice roof above the dining area where natural light from comes bursting in.

We started off with drinks than placed our orders for brunch.

Mimosa & Bellini
I had the Mimosa and Will had the Bellini. I really liked the Mimosa. It was very refreshing!

Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary
Our friends Samantha and Alex had the Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary which looked really intriguing. I thought it was very creative. I never tried a Bloody Mary before, but would like to someday.

Duck Confit Hash
I read on Yelp that the Duck Confit Hash was a must have at Le Barricou. I typically order eggs Benedict at brunch, but I decided to stray away and try something new. 

The duck confit hash is slow cooked using the leg of a duck. It was sauteed with caramelized shallots & Yukon gold potatoes, with two sunny eggs and field greens. This was an excellent dish! The duck was really moist and delicious! I really liked the field greens too. This whole dish was very rustic and delightful.

Steak & Eggs
Will ordered the Steak & Eggs. The black Angus hanger steak was cooked to perfection. Although, Will asked for medium well - the texture felt like medium rare which I prefer. It wasn't chewy and it wasn't tough. It was just right! The pommes frites were decent, but I wished there was a crunch to it.

Pate Sandwich & Lamb Meatballs
Samantha had the Pate Sandwich which is filled with housemade duck liver mousse on a toasted baguette with grainy mustard, cranberries, and cornichons. It was served in a bed of market greens. Sam also ordered lamb meatballs which I thought were decent, but nothing too exciting.

French Toast
Alex ordered the French Toast with fresh berries. This was the best, best, best french toast ever! I had a small piece of it and it was amazing. It has an indescribable crunch to it and it was possibly the best I've had so far! I definitely want to come back to Le Barricou to have the French toast.

All in all, we were all very happy with everything at Le Barricou. The food was phenomenal and ambiance and service was up to par. This definitely a homey and cozy brunch place worth visiting again. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dessert Review: Caffe Bene

Caffe Bene
106 Mott Street New York, NY 10013

I've seen Caffe Bene popping up in almost every neighborhood in Manhattan and I knew that at some point I had to visit one of their locations.

Will and I passed by Caffe Bene in Chinatown and decided to check it out after our dinner.

First, I would like to say that I truly love the decor and ambiance. It's like a homey, spacious, and upgraded version of Starbucks. It's relaxing, cozy and perfect for post-date coffee an desserts, studying, catching up with a friend/s, or catching up on work.

There was a lot of beverages, sweets, and savory items to choose from. We didn't know what to order so it took us a while to decide. We wanted to bring a dessert home to share with his family. We ordered the strawberry waffle and strawberry honey bread. We waited approximately 15-20 minutes for the strawberry honey bread which seemed to have took a long time.

Strawberry Waffle
The strawberry waffle was made prior to us visiting Caffe Bene. I felt like we were tricked by this. The strawberry waffle looks nothing like the one shown on the website. The most disappointing part of the strawberry waffle was that it was hard like a rock. It took a lot of strength to bite into it. The second disappointment was that it was way, way, way too sweet! True disappointment.

Strawberry Honey Bread
Will ordered the strawberry honey bread to share with his family. This was the dessert that we had to wait 15-20 minutes for. I assumed if we were waiting this long for it must take time to prepare and be delicious. The presentation of it was pretty and adorable just like it shows on the website. 

The dessert itself wasn't good at all. It was a giant piece of bread with a layer of cheese spread and slice of strawberries. It was a little funky at first and also the bread was very soggy. I was expecting a golden, toasty, and crunchy bread not a soggy and mushy bread. Second disappointment.

In conclusion, we felt like we wasted our time waiting for these two disappointments. Everything tasted under par and mediocre. Customer service was mediocre as well. I am sure there are other menu items that are not disappointments at Caffe Bene  and we will definitely have to give their menu items a second shot, but absolutely not the strawberry waffle or strawberry honey bread. Never again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Recipe: Yau Gok (Fried Sweet Dumplings)

Hi! I would like to take an opportunity to apologize with the lack of blogging on Ambitious Eats. It's not that I don't have content for the blog because I have plenty. Life behind this screen has been utterly busy with school, work, getting back into the gym, and a lot more. 

As promised, I would like to include a step-by-step guide on how to make Yau Gok (fried sweet dumplings). If you read my last post I mentioned my mom, sister and I made yau gok for Lunar New Year, so here is the recipe -

Yau Gok

wonton skins

For the filling: sesame seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, roasted and crushed peanuts, white sugar

dumpling mold shaper

1. Combine all ingredients together and mix over the wok on low heat.

2. Make sure you set all your mise en place together so everything is in it's place and organized.

3. Place the wonton skin on the dumpling mold and wet the edges of the wonton skin. Add a small portion of the filling inside the wonton skin. Close the mold together and rip the excess wonton skin that is sticking out. Open the mold back and you have a beautiful yau gok!

4. When you have a lot of the yau goks together, you can start the frying process.

5. Heat up the oil and stick a chopstick inside the oil until see little bubbles forming. Fry the yau gok a few at a time on medium heat. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

6. Once they are bright and golden, remove from the wok.

7. Place all the yau goks on a tray/plate lined with paper towel so it soaks up the oil. Let the yau goks cool before consuming and serving.

8. Enjoy the crunchy, crispy, and sweetness in this little bundle of joy!

Hope you found this recipe helpful! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lunar New Year Celebration

I can't believe it's already March. Time has flew!

I apologize for not blogging the last week or so, it's been utterly busy behind the screen with Lunar New Year celebrations, classes, work, and etc. 

I was suppose to post a recipe for yau goks (traditional fried dumplings filled with sweet coconut, sesame seeds, and much more), but instead I'd like to share with you pictures of my Lunar New Year celebration at home. 

Pre-Lunar New Year Dinner
This was our dinner that we had the night before Lunar New Year. It seemed a little smaller this year, since my big sister wasn't home and is married, so she celebrated with brother in-law. 

Snacks, Oranges, and Flowers
Mom didn't buy new flowers this year for Lunar New Year since I bought her a small bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day and Will bought me flowers too. Mom also put out plates of sweets, snacks, and lots of oranges,clementines, and etc to munch on.

Lunar New Year - breakfast
This was our vegetarian Lunar New Year breakfast. I really enjoy this meal because it's so simple, yet tastes so good. The shrimp chips are irresistibly yummy!

We cheered to a new Lunar New Year with a little red wine. 

Yau Gok
These were some of the yau goks my mom, sister, and I made by hand. I will be including a recipe on the food blog in the next post. These were really good. Mom, sister, and I did a great job and a lot of people enjoyed it too. 

Hope you all had a happy and prosperous start to the new year!