Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh boy oh boy oh boy

I wanted to do a dumb title for this post too, something like Oh-lea! or Ole-yea! But I wouldn't want to put y'all through that again.

Last weekend on our way back from the beach, we took the puppies to dinner in the neighborhood, we were thinking Olea, but a glance at the prices on the menu made us shy away. (We dined again at Sushi D, and had pretty much the same thing as before). This Sunday however, we were out on the troll for new brunch, and since we pass by Olea pretty much every single day on our way to the park, we finally caved. And are we glad of that!!

Olea has easily the best brunch we have had in CH/FG. I would even put them in the top 3 spots for dining, based solely on the brunch. The food was overall super fresh, and really filling. The setting is beautiful. Even though we ate outside (puppy you know), we did go in for hand washing and the restaurant is so cooling and relaxing (exposed beam ceiling, white plaster walls) you really do feel like you are in the Mediterranean - definitely not on a street corner in Brooklyn.

G-pup went for the Parmesan French Toast, which was a savory French toast with peas, avgolemono sauces (hollandaise) and, I think, pea shoots. The flavor was one of rich, lemony springtime (I love peas, but don't eat them nearly enough). I went for the big plate - Turkish Breakfast. I loved it, simply loved it. I rarely eat eggs anymore (vegan of convenience) but do splurge on brunch. The eggs were so completely mixed with cilantro that they looked like guacamole (yes that appeals to me). I also got on my heaping plate of delicious food, some zesty eggplant, some fattoush (a Mediterranean bread salad) some tzatziki (yogurt) and hot pita bread. It was such a wonderful combination of flavors, zesty, cooling, hearty, refreshing. The food tasted as though they were using quality ingredients too, if you know what I mean (like if you go to a cheap place it all tastes a bit flavorless because it comes from factory farms). The flavor of each ingredient really stood out, and it blended beautifully with the others. At the same time.

In the continuing take out nights (down to one, two was just too many) we had a fun Red Bamboo dinner of Salt and Pepper Chicken with honey mustard (think tinier crispier nuggets). [Does anyone remember the advert about nuggets where they go on about 'parts is parts, pieces parts'?] Barbecue 'Beef' with some kind of glaze I can't remember and Sizzling Tofu with Teriyaki sauce. A previous take out consisted of Chicken 'n Fries, and Coconut Salmon. I consider Red Bamboo food more 'fun' than 'delicious.' Don't get me wrong, it's good, just not great. It is definitely better when you can eat on their large patio, listening to the live jazz music and drinking their fun and delicious drinks. We also ordered in from Fulton Thai (I think the only place other than Mojito's that will deliver to us), and their food seems to be getting better.

The CSA continues to grace us with a large bounty, especially with 8 ears of corn (we are running out of things to do with it!). Quite honestly the corn is so delicious I tend to nibble on the raw pieces while cooking. We did oven roasted corn, with a salsa that I made from all the tomatoes we have accumulated. I did corn patties, and something else which for the life of me I can't remember. G-pups parents are coming in town soon and they love our sweet American corn, so they should be in heaven with all of this!

171 Lafayette Avenue
Hours: Sun-Thu 10am-4:30pm, 5pm-11pm
Fri & Sat 10am-4:30pm, 5pm-12am
All major credit cards accepted

Other reviews: Go Brooklyn, New York Magazine, Citysearch, Chowhound, Chowhound Again, And Chowhound Again

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Let me count the ways...

Oh, there are so many reasons to love the Clinton Hill / Fort Greene area (mostly food related I admit). And we found a few more of late.

The past few weeks have been big ol' eating Clinton hill (and fort Greene) weeks. G-pup and I were planning to have a puppy-less dinner date, and were planning to do so in man-ha-ttan. The puppy park walk though took longer than expected so I proposed that we have a date in the neighborhood. I was craving Mexican food and suggested Pequena. G-pup, never one to turn down chips, salsa and a Negro Modelo was all up for it. I have to admit this was damn good food. (Anyone know how to say that in Spanish?) The tiny little place churns out quick, fresh and relatively healthy mex food (a little too fast, since our appies and main meals arrived within about 5 minutes of each other - making us feel a little rushed, and crowding the table tremendously). Turns out the front seating may even be dog friendly. My favorite part was the daily flavors available for the margarita (which you can mix and match), our choices were kiwi, coconut, raspberry and mango. I mixed kiwi and coconut (and then it had the lime-y-ness of a marg!) YUM! The guacamole was fresh, spicy and enormous. Yummy pico and crisp chips too. G-pup gorged on the quesadilla and I ate as much as I could of the veggie fajitas before having to hand it over. Yes, our eyes were awfully big for that meal, and its a good thing I forgot my metro card so that we would have to walk some of it off on our way home.

Saturday morning we made our way over to Smooch (on Adelphi and DeKalb). I had been reading on the new and super improved chowhound boards that Smooch was being touted as the best coffee in the nabe. That always sounds like a challenge to me. I have to admit that they were pretty right about that. I still agree with Mr Minerva that ici has the best going, but its a bit more of a hassle than the walk up coffee shops (although they have recently added some tables out front, so maybe we can take the pup!). Smooch's coffee was really dark, syruppy and yummy, and no scalded milk. Also had one of their stunningly moist muffins that are so full of yummy flavor. And might even be vegan (a lot of their stuff is). On a subsequent visit I had another yummy muffin and G-pup had some deliciously hearty bread with vegemite spread on it. (yeh, he's an ex-pat - did I not mention that before?)

On Sunday for a break from the laundry and the heat, we stopped in to check out the new girl on the block - Cynthia, who opened up the Brown Betty Cafe on Grand at Fulton. She has put together a friendly, homey place, where she does a lot of baking herself. She had a friend teach her how to make a mean cappucino (and she's doing a great job at it - so make sure you stop in and give her some practice). G-pup was hungry and had a creamy, toothsome quiche (oh yum!) with a baby greens salad that had this funky zesty mango spice dressing on it. It was surprising and refreshing. I had an enormous oatmeal cookie, and yes I ate the whole thing (even Cynthia mentioned she was surprised I ate the whole thing!)

We also decided to do two take out nights a week to allow me more time to work (I am working a new job now, trying to finish up some of my large scale drawing series, and put together some community art grant proposals, so that means I need more time!) Our first take away was a meal from Red Bamboo (I was craving vegan having spent a week eating white starchy food upstate for a week). They seem to have really hit a good stride, with a jumping patio complete with jazz band on the weekend, and a more distinctly flavorsome menu. Our second meal was last night from Choice. We got stuck in the huge downpour so came home soaking wet with our food. We had their green gazpacho which was creamy, bright and a bit spicy; a special salad with spinach, arugula, avocados and grilled red peppers with feta stuffed inside. It was a yummy complex (and surprisingly really spicy!) salad, unfortunately it got a little oily in the croutons and towards the bottom, and that, combined with the mac n cheese - which I found to be overpoweringly rich this time - was a little too much for my tastebuds. (G-pup thought the mac was perfect). It also meant that the rich looking raspberry cake is waiting for us to eat tonight.

We have a great menu coming up this week thanks to a rich abundance at the CSA. We will be using the corn, potatoes, peppers and onions to make a piquant corn chowder. The basil and tomatoes will provide us with a delicious (and different) pesto pizza (doing the pesto with basil and pecans). We can round it all out with corn risotto with a side of beets and greens. (And yes I can make it all vegan and stunningly yummy!)

Somewhere in the mix we stopped in at june. for brunch. I had the croissant French toast, which sounded deliciously decadent - but wasn't. It didn't quite work, it was part burnt and didn't provide the creaminess which one would like from their French toasted anything. I can't remember what G-pup had. I will check in with him and let you know.

Hope everyone out there is enjoying the fabulous weather we are finally having - and I hope to see you all at the 'Only in Brooklyn' street party hosted by Le Grand Dakar. No, I won't be one of the wrestlers!

86 S. Portland at
Hours: Mon-Thu 11:30am - 11pm
Fri-Sun 10:30am - 12am
All major credit cards accepted

Other reviews: Citysearch, Go Brooklyn, Yelp, Add Your Own, New York Daily News, Chowhound 1, Chowhound 2, Chowhound 3

264 Carlton at DeKalb
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu 8am - 8pm
Tue 8am-12pm
Fri & Sat 8am-12am
Cash only

Other reviews: Eating for Brooklyn, a mention in Chowhound, SuperVegan, Brooklynian, Set Speed AKA One Hanson Place

Brown Betty Cafe
466 Grand Ave at Fulton

Cash only

Other reviews: Clinton Hill Blog I, Clinton Hill Blog II, Brooklyn Record I, Brooklyn Record II, Brooklynian

229 DeKalb at Clermont
Hours: Mon, Wed, Thu 8am - 8pm
Tue 8am-12pm
Fri & Sat 8am-12am
All Major Credit Cards

Other reviews: CitySearch, Go Brooklyn