Saturday, October 25, 2008

Con Fusion m'E

Many people tell me they are tired of fusion food, and sometimes I agree. Fusion On Main is a unique BYO restaurant with a Manhattan style decor, and a menu to boot. I was amazed at the creative fusion of Indian, Thai, French, Asian, and American to choose from. You would have to go back to try all the interesting things you find on each page. Chef specials offered as well.

Appetizers were chosen of Lotus Root in a sweet chili sauce (a little too hard to bite, but good), escargot in a lemon herb cream (the best), and a pakora (Indian) style cauliflower dish that was just spicy enough to complement the other two.

Entrees chosen were the Maui Maui with sun dried tomato risotto and bok choy, and went well with the white. The Wild Boar came with risotto cakes and steamed vegetables. The Boar was good, but the cakes were a bit bland even with the reduction sauce. Portions enough to share, and worth the $$-$$$ prices. If they get a liquor license then you might find it hard to get in on a weekend like we did.

Other reviews that were read seem to complain about service. We went with out a reservation on a Saturday night, prime time, and got seated with the best service. Our waitress and runners were so nice I thought I was back in the PNW or my hometown in the south.

The dessert menu which seemed ordinary, so we passed due to extra appetizer.

WINE: Leaning towards BYO we have started getting into taking two half bottles, one red and white to have on hand for any type of pairing.

Haynes Barn, 2006, Merlot Cabernet, Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery VQA Okanan Valley- Went well with the Wild Boar and appetizers (purchased in Victoria, BC)

White Burgundy, Burgundy France (I am searching my data base for more information; bought Joe Canal's, Princeton, NJ)

Roll'E Out of here Please!

When I drove up to this very well lite space and sign, Rolly's, I first thought, "oh, its next to a hotel, so it must be mediocre chain style place", but I was pleasantly surprised. (Reviews also mention it is in historic Cranbury; which to me implies it is off Main Street, but it is off Route 130)

A greeter opened the door for me and welcomed me to 'Roll-e's'; which I chuckled at, because names can make or break you sometimes (I do now live in the 'Diner' capital of the world now). The atmosphere was good, well lite, not too loud, and friendly service that was eager to please.

This was one of my 'Dining Out' BYO group choices and we were accommodated well and all the orders came out in a timely manner.

I heard everyone was well pleased with their choices, and they have some unique things I had not even had before as a chef, so I would go back.

Appetizers & Entrees: French Onion soup which was good, and the NY Strip Poivre (was not too peppery, but enough)with cognac sauce; which can be tricky, but cooked at Med Rare it was very tender, and came with garlic mashed potatoes, and a carrot sugar snap pea melody.

My friends: She had the Lamb Chops with mint pesto, and her husband had the corn chowder and Filet with lobster mashed potatoes. Great food. Fresh, great presentation, great taste for every kind of eater and good prices. A refreshing change to the area. Try the lamb chops and sea bass. They are out of this world. Four star food at bistro prices and a great atmosphere. We heard their take out food and deli sandwiches at lunch...... well you have to try them.

Dessert for us was mudslide pie (chocoholics, yes indeed!), and the chocolate swirl cheesecake; which I am not a fan, but this was good. We took half of our food home, because the portions are enough to share, but dessert was eaten there, and all house made.

WINE: Typically we try different wines at these events but only one other party brought wine, and shared at their end of the table; while my friends and I drank a Gewurztraminer, 2008, Alsace (My friend loves this, so I brought it for her, not necessarily to pair with the food).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cafe Paris

Downtown Metuchen, Central New Jersey holds some gems as far as restaurants are concerned. If you find french food sounds too heavy with the sauce, butter, and just full of calories; then you need to visit this place. The portions are just right and not heavy at all.

The restaurant’s owner is a Parisian, and opened this second location of Caf├ę Paris in 2004, and the other is in Cranford. Both locations offer dishes prepared with fresh and healthy ingredients like out of the garden, which are picked up directly from the morning’s market.

I enjoyed dinner there recently with a group of friends, and I found myself wanting a spoon to eat my Beef Bourguignon, so I kept the one from my soup appetizer. This silver extension of my hand was a nice deep rounded spoon for eating soup, and I liked using it to dip into the mashed potatoes and then into the beef with its red wine gravy, mushrooms, carrots and tiny bacon pieces, and have what I call the perfect bite, and it was.

We were there for a BYO wine tasting and dinner group that meets at different locations and our table started off with soup. All three were delicious, asparagus with egg and garlic (reminded me of egg drop soup), a classic french onion, and a squash soup. All were tasty (if you eat with me you share). Next we enjoyed our entrees. Every one about the place seemed happy with their choices once they arrived, and with a large group of thirty plus like ours it helped to have a more choices.

My husbands seafood crepe was good, and my friend was happy with her prosciutto panini choice. My friend and I noticed that I wore the same colors as the murals painted about the small bistro; which made you feel you just might well be eating along the streets of Paris. The chairs were comfortable with plenty of room at the tables; which can make or break an experience. There was outside seating as well.

There is always a complainer in the crowd I thought when the organizer told me some were not happy with the eating establishment like I was. The owners reputation can be slightly altered when food comes out table by table with such a large part, as many people were watching others eat, and getting dessert before their entrees even came out.

I blame that on the restaurant owners with their forty years of experience for not being more organized and creating a tasting menu if they do not have adequate staff in the back to produce timely platters for thirty people. They knew we were coming in advance. I looked in the kitchen to scope things out and had a nice chat with the cook. There was only one guy was working his rear off for all of us, But I would go back regardless. Thirty people do not normally walk in all at once!

Wine:This was a BYO group dinner, so there were various wines to choose from. We brought a bottle of light red table wine from Burgundy, and a bottle from our latest trip to the PNW, a San Juan Vineyard Merlot (unfortunately you have to go there to buy this bottle). My friend really liked the Gew├╝rztraminer from Alsace, but this is a fun way to try new wines.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Susuhi in Uruguay

They always say Wednesday is the hump, but Thursday is the bump for me in the kitchen. I have worked hard all weekend, because that is what chef's do, shop on Monday for my own home meals, cook, cook, cook, and then I see the busy weekend starting all over again for me on Friday. I usually feel like going out for a light bite, or threaten hubby with a boring salad again; then he agrees to pick a bottle from the cellar and then we find a nice quiet BYOB meal.

This week it will still be light, soup and salad with maybe an appetizer thrown in to start, or finish in the case. I confess like always that hubby is a food snob and getting him to go to the same places more than once, or twice can be difficult. He feels that there are too many places in this world to try, and Jersey is dotted with BYOB eateries all over, and his wine cellar can only hold so much. We do like to pair a variety of wines with food and just see what happens, and so we are off.

We have errands to run, and Fiji is on our route. This will be our second visit, and the first experience was good, so he agrees and brings a white and red that will depend on our menu choices.

Tonight a light nosh of choices for the two of us. I realize not everyone likes Sushi or even Japanese food, but most have other choices different taste. We decide on soup, salad, vegetarian dumplings, two kinds of Maki rolls, and he orders BBQ Calamari. Out comes the white wine for this dinner.

The waitress pops out the cork and pours into our glasses a deep golden liquid that seem to fizz around the top edges, and in the bottom of the glass there appear to be tiny bubbles. I smell- floral and light; I taste- light, citrus, dry with hints of sweet; I think it must be a Muscato, so I ask hubby what kind of wine we are having tonight, and he replays, Argentina. He picks up the bottle and reads that it is from Uruguay. Huh?

I confess I am not up on all the wines from south America, and usually we hear about Chilean wines. This label has a map and reads like a short story. How many people can point to where the country is on the map? I am curious what made me think this was something familiar and I look at the description- 60% Gewurztraminer, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Muscato Bianco; well my taste buds are not to far off- It continues to read...Obscure uruguayan blend with an added Alsacian flair denotes Uruguay's traditional wine making style...silky white tones are exsentuated by tart passion fruit wrapped in pineapple skins...someone drank more than one bottle of this to write this description (me)...zucchini flowers...sauted...citrus oils...almond cream...but does it go with the meal? (me)

Yes, it does! With each bite of the tart ginger dressing on the salad, the nori in the miso soup picks up interesting flavors, a tangy bite of BBQ Calamari, and the spicy tuna in our Maki rolls. OK, so we ate a little off the chart tonight. I even feel that if they had a fruit dessert like a Mango sticky rice; it would have been a good finsih, but we were done, and I had to go home and research this wine region and share.

Uruguay is a small country situated below Brazil and just northeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Unlike neighboring Argentina, which boasts vineyards at the highest altitude in the world, Uruguay is relatively flat. Though a range of rolling hills sits on its Brazilian border, the inland of Uruguay consists mainly of wild grasslands. I thought that was one of the things I could not describe as well, grassy tones. This is one of those things that make some people not dabble in wine education is the use of descriptions, but it does make sense when you take time to learn about what you are putting into your mouth. Most of the information I found was about how south America is a big producer of red wines because they raise and eat a large amount of beef.

Wines coming in from this region is rare but they are out there, so if you find some buy it. Especially a white wine like this one, and only around $13 a bottle. Nice for serving with guests, and just sipping it chilled with some fruit and cheese.

The Wine- 2007, Estival, Produced and Estate bottled by
Vinedo De Lost Vientos

The Restaurant- Fuji Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar
485 Georges Rd, #114, Dayton, 08810 (Route 522/South Brunswick)