Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MilkMade Ice Cream: December 2012

There are few things that make me happier than ice cream. I'm not even horribly picky about the flavor, although cookies and cream is my go-to in a pinch. So, when I heard about MilkMade's subscription-only monthly delivery I knew I had to give it a go.

The ladies at MilkMade create two new flavors each and every month and hand deliver them to their faithful customers. The flavors are usually quite creative and they use local and artisanal ingredients in their natural, hand-made pints. It isn't cheap for obvious reasons, but after receiving my first two pints last night I know it is worth it.

The flavors this month are "The Best Worst Holiday Gift," a riff on the classic holiday fruitcake, and "The Last Pint," a spicy chocolate reference to the impending end of the Mayan calendar. These concepts are right in line with the company's more-often-than-not whimsical flavor creations. More importantly, they are both what I like to refer to as "extremely yummy."

The fruitcake inspired pint balances the sweetness of raisins and candied nuts with a rich and complex buttery-ness usually reserved for better butter-pecan iterations. The texture is perfect with its chewy, crunchy, and creamy balance. I really can't think of a way to make this better except for a personal preference for more nuts.

The spicy chocolate pint is referred to on the MilkMade website as a xocolatl ice cream and an homage to the Mayans. While the Maya word for chocolate was chocol'ha and xocolatl is actually an Aztec word, this flavor rises above the linguistic misappropriations of its creators and becomes a rich, spicy treat worthy of the gods of all Mesoamerican cultures. Basically the same spicy chocolate drink was enjoyed by both cultures anyway. The chilis used in this provide a nice slow burn on the back of the palette that makes milk a good beverage choice for after a few bites. The chocolate is rich and creamy and provides the perfect vehicle and balance for the spice.

My only problem with MilkMade so far is that I am almost out of it already and have to wait until next year for more.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Friday, July 15, 2011


In my attempt to visit every current Michelin Starred restaurant I have found everything from beautiful gems (the aptly named Jewel Bako) to abysmal wastes of time (Shalezeh or Shalizar, or who cares?). Some restaurants have made me seriously question the criteria and the judges involved in the selection process. Others have made me wonder if, while still in their infancy, they can take the place of some of the more decrepit members of the club.

Elsewhere, on 43rd Street just West of 9th Avenue, just opened in December, but is running on all cylinders. In searching for press on this great spot, I found sparse, although positive, reviews. They deserve more.

This place strikes the perfect balance between comfort, inventiveness, and execution. A strong beer menu, beautifully selected wine menu, and a seasonal and creative cocktail program make the overall bar program here among the best around. Most places slack in some areas and let the masses choose what they want. Elsewhere selects the best, sometimes quirkiest, drinks and makes you choose from them. This makes me very comfortable at their small, but friendly, bar.

The cheese menu is something to drool over. And, while the selections themselves are great, the accompaniments, artfully created by Pastry Chef Leigh Friend, are what make the cheese experience here a few notches above other cheese plates anywhere I've been. Chef Leigh has an amazingly keen palate and I find myself cooing over her (the cheeses are wisely and carefully selected by Dimitri Saad, but Chef Leigh makes them sing) cheese plates regularly.

The main menu is creative, yet not outlandish or lavish. The main proteins or starches are nothing you can't find on numerous other menus in Hell's Kitchen, but the way they are put together is a little different than you might normally find. Chef Megan Johnson has an unapologetic love of fun flavor combinations, and apparently also for perfectly executed dishes. The 5-Spoke Tumbleweed Poutine (fries, cheese, gravy, and chicken liver) is sinfully delectable. Light and perfect for summer, Grilled Octopus Salad features perfectly prepared octopus, not an easy feat. A delicious Roasted Bone Marrow with French Fries is perfectly cooked, and the fries are a witty substitute for bread in this case.

The desserts, not surprisingly with a talent like Chef Leigh, are remarkable. I have had four desserts at Elsewhere, and each was delightful in its simple creativity. The Dutch Baby is well worth the fifteen minute wait after you order it.

I rarely comment on ambiance or service because they make no difference to my enjoyment of the food itself, but, in this case let me state that the place is cute, warm, and welcoming, and the staff is generally the same. Service is usually on point.

I have had numerous dinners here, every sip has been memorable, every bite fantastic, and every morsel brilliantly envisioned and executed. Not surprisingly, my one brunch there (so far) was also divine.

Not only do I give this restaurant my full recommendation, I will go this far: Chef Megan Johnson deserves to have at least One Star on her resume when the next list comes out. So go now, before everyone else finds it and you can't get a reservation.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Michelin Man...

Sometimes I get crazy ideas. Usually the ideas involve spending a crazy amount of money. Usually that money is spent on crazy good food. My latest insane inkling is to eat in all of the restaurants which received Michelin Stars in 2011 before said year is through.

I have created a Google Map so you can really see where I have and haven't filled my stomach. There's a small version below.

Below are just a few of the questions I know you have:

Won't it be expensive? Definitely, but there are lunches and things like Restaurant Week to help soften the blow. I will also set up a PayPal Donate button on this blog in case you'd like to help the cause.

Can you really pull this off in time? Yes, as of the posting of this blog I have hit 10 of the 55 restaurants on the list (57 received stars, but 2 are no longer operating). That is on pace, if not a little ahead.

I looked at your map, some of the places you've "been to" have outposts in Las Vegas that you are counting, isn't that cheating? It's only cheating if the person making the rules says it is. I make the rules, therefore, not cheating. In each case the "copycat" in Vegas also received a star when Michelin went to the desert. Meaning the experiences are probably comparable. We aren't here to split hairs.

So, come along for the ride, it will be a fun one. And, if you should happen to get tired of living vicariously through me, feel free to come buy me dinner anywhere on the list.

View The Michelin Man... in a larger map

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lotus of Siam NY...

So, after scouring the net for information for the past week, reading multiple useless paraphrasings of the original New York Times article that appeared last week, and even visiting the lights-on-but-nobody-home restaurant, Grub Street finally got me an answer.

Lotus of Siam NY opens at 24 5th Avenue with a tasting menu on Thursday, November 4th, then starts with its full menu on the 11th. Seven courses of Saipin Chutima's best for only $65 doesn't sound too expensive to me, but convincing someone to buy it for me might not be easy. So I give a shout to all my Las Vegas restaurant critic friends, buy me the meal (including tip) and you get the scoop on your blog first for the West coast crowd.

If there aren't any takers I may have to wait until after I get paid next Tuesday to take in the sublime offerings of this Las Vegas institutions New York outpost. I recently wrote of how much I would miss it. I must recant. I will relish the opportunity to dine in the New York outpost as much as my wallet allows.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goodbye Las Vegas!

I've now officially been a New Yorker for one week. I have found a job, a place to live, and a few decent places to eat. But I want to take this time to talk about the restaurants that I will be hard pressed to replace even here in the Big Apple. I will miss a few Las Vegas places immensely.

Settebello- New Yorkers think their pizza places trump all others. But in my book this Henderson based Neapolitan style pizza joint beats anything I've had here. With their wood fired oven and fresh toppings the pies here are smoky and earthy in a way coal fired and gas ovens just can't match. I may find something to match it here with a little searching, but I don't think I will find a place to beat it.

Aburiya Raku- Japanese restaurants are not exactly rare in New York City, but finding a place of this caliber with a price point to match will not happen here. This robata grill restaurant offers some of the best small plate options I've had anywhere and it does not break the bank. A party of two can easily get out of here full for under sixty dollars sans alcohol. This is the place you must go if you can get off the strip in Las Vegas.

Bluefin Sushi and Roll- Literally a mom and pop place, this standalone sushi place in a strip mall truly stands alone when it comes to quality and value. I can't count the number of times that I visited Bluefin, but it was more often than any other restaurant in Las Vegas. Before I found this tiny sushi bar about a year ago, I spent countless dollars in sub par establishments just trying to find that one place I could call my home away from home. I could probably pay my NYC rent for the next six months with all that dough. Flawless cuts of fish on well made rice and friendly service make this a can't miss local haunt.

Lotus of Siam- It seems there are Thai places on every other block in New York, but I haven't found one to compare to Lotus, yet. Even usually mundane dishes like Pad Thai are an experience not to be missed at this now large establishment in the same mall as the famous Green Door sex club. The service is spotty, but that cannot overshadow the sublime food and wonderful wine list. The execution and recipes here are top flight.

These four places are all Las Vegas Valley originals that are great at their respective cuisine. Sure, being on the East Coast means no In-n-Out, but we have Shake Shack and some other burger joints which are as good, albeit more expensive. There are other places I wish I could have brought with me, but the restaurants listed above are the best at what they do in Las Vegas and could compete with, if not beat, anything out here.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.