Sunday, October 19, 2008

Modern Apizza, Dong Bang Grill, Blind Tiger

So once again, too much time has passed since my last post. This weekend I was at Ferry Beach on retreat with the congregation I work with. Lots of fun, and so no time for blogging.

However, last weekend, Matt and visited our friends Huy and Saewon down in Edgewater, NJ. Enroute, we stopped at Modern Apizza in New Haven, CT. How I wish this place was in Boston. The crust was as thin as a penny. Thanks to a gentle light saucing and judicious layer of cheese, the crust retains its structure and did not become soggy. The pizza is cooked in a brick oven at over 700 degrees. This insane level of heat causes the pepperoni to became crispy and succulent, and the crust has an entirely different flavor at the edges where the sauce and cheese end and the crust gets puffy, crusty, and blackened. Less than a half mile off o 91 makes Modern Apizza also the perfect pit stop.

Our first night down there included a Mario Kart Wii contest and dinner out at a most phenomenal restaurant. As we learned, the Fort Lee/Edgewater area is Korea-town. Huy and Saewon generously took us out to the Dong Bang Grill. Korean barbecue is done here, but we opted for a non-barbecue night (barbecue would have caused us to eat our body weight in food...we didn't feel up to the task).

The day before leaving for the weekend, I had come down with a cold. Thanks to dinner at Dong Bang Grill, my sinuses were given a respite from congestion and pain. Before the meal started, we were assailed lovingly with a dozen and a half small plates. Wonderfully spicy kimchee, pickled celery, daikon salad, raw garlic, exquisitely finely julienned scallions wih hot pepper, and so many other wonderful delights to both kick digestion into gear and tease the taste buds to the point of mindlessness. We shared three dishes family-style- Bulgogi (thinly sliced sirloin marinated in a rice-wine base marinade and then sauteed), a dish of crackling, succulent ribs, and this amazing soup which I credit the magic ability to keep me feeling slightly human for the duration of the weekend. The soup was spicy, with a complex broth based on alliums, with perfectly tender pieces of beef and just the right balance of green onions and vegetables. I asked Saewon where in Boston there was a Korean restaurant of similar quality and selection. She looked at me with pity, and said that one does not exist. I see more trips to Jersey in my and Matt's future.

Saturday we went into Manhattan. We walked through a street fair up 8th avenue. We had a huge breakfast so we weren't hungry, but we ate with our eyes. Saewon snapped this beautiful shot of grilling sweet corn. After a short stroll through Central Park, and a wander around the Central Park Zoo (they have some feisty penguins there!), we made our way done to the Village, specifically Bleeker and 6th, to the Blind Tiger Ale House.

After some research on the Beer Advocate, I had settled on the Blind Tiger as our destination of choice for Beer and Food in Manhattan. When we first arrived, we weren't certain this was the best spot for dinner and a few beers. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder, with not a lot of places for sitting, not tables to eat upon. After some confusion, we finally ordered a round of beers, and attempted to land at a table. With great luck, we found a cozy corner, near enough to the bar to order, and a dark wood table to eat and drink off of. The Beer excitement of the night was the opportunity to drink a lot of Bear Republic Beer. The Red Rocket Ale was sweet, malty, and had a nice caramel punch. Matt was crazy for the Black Mamba, which was dark as night, rich and a creamy with roastiest flavor I've tasted in awhile.

To start we ordered the cheese plate to split between the four of us. A little dried fruit and nuts and a basket of toasted bread accompanied the three cheeses. Blind Tiger gets their cheeses from the infamous Murray's Cheese, which is across the street. In addition to their cheese plate, they also have daily cheese and beer pairings. For dinner, Matt and I shared two dishes: a cheddar, bacon, apple, and roasted onion panini, and a chipotle chicken quesadilla. The panini was exquisite. A perfect balance of stuff to cheese to bread. Pressed perfectly and very filling. The quesadilla was massive, with tender chicken and just enough kick of chipotle. The tortilla was grilled, with crunchy blackened spots which enhanced the smokiness of the chipotle.

And once again, the food and drink Gods looked kindly upon us.

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