I know there’s a huge gap of time between my dinner at Alta and what happened on last Friday. The reason is that I’m working in Queens. Yes, I know it’s the U.N. sitting in one borough but the area where I’m working at is near a mall…and the food scene seems very depressing to say the least.
Moving on to last Friday…I have planned a huge outing for most of my close friends, most of them are from St. John’s and there’s Ariel who was the newcomer of the bunch, but he’s cool in my book. What I originally planned was inviting these people to see the first concert at South Street Seaport’s Music Festival, since I’m a fan of the Animal Collective and have dinner afterwards nearby the Seaport. I left work early that day and I had some time to snack on a couple of things, particularly with the fact that I received an email from La Maison du Chocolat at Rockefeller Center, that they were selling ice cream!
It’s a perfect time to eat ice cream since that day was really humid and hot; you can notice the fact that the ice cream’s melting even though this place is air conditioned. Anyways, the caramel ice cream was tasty. It had a nice salty, burnt sugar flavor. The negative part was that it was a bit too icy that I think they set the freezer a bit too cold. Should I mention that it’s also a bit pricey? It’s $4 for that cup or should I say scoop of ice cream…the price tag is not too far from Grom.
Just because I’m at LMDC, I can’t resist the temptation of eating their wonderful bonbons. So, I ended up ordering a plate of ’em (click on the close-up photo for the flavors/names) for $11. Yes, it’s expensive but worth every penny.
It was a fancy way to get sugared up. Then I practically ran to the subway to go downtown to the Seaport, since it’s 5 PM. I got there in about 30 minutes. The crowd of young teenagers and college-aged kids are there already. Somehow, I feel like an anomaly of sorts by the way I was dressed…I didn’t change from work hence my wardrobe.
As time passes by around 10 minutes before the show started, some of my friends showed up, like Ariel, Julie, Kim, and others. However, as the concert started and continued, many others were frantically calling me and texting me since I can’t be heard even as I’m screaming the top of my lungs to my cell phone, just because they can’t find me. Eh. My throat was in pain and I’m losing people because they can’t find me or they had to leave early because of other engagements they have to be at. So, I’m getting disappointed. Even the concert was (unfortunately) disappointing. After the first act, who was a pretty good DJ, everything else fell apart. I hate to admit it, Animal Collective was not what I had in mind, comparing them from their album to them in person.
Anyways, this is not a music blog. Just to sum it up, I am famished, hot, and annoyed with the weed smokers that Ariel and I decided that we should leave early and get food. I called and text messaged everyone, telling them that I want food! Seriously, I was living off of a granola bar for lunch and those two items from LMDC (and it’s now 8:30). Eventually, my huge group got separated because of different interests. I want food, the other didn’t so eventually my group became a group of five girls (Robyn, Helen, Seungmi, Julie, and moi) and a guy (Ariel).
I wanted to go to Nelson Blue for dinner since they serve New Zealand cuisine. However, when we peered the restaurant, it looked like a sports bar: large LCD panels displaying a baseball game, it’s packed with people, and it does look like a bar. It totally me turned off and even Ariel agreed with my sentiments. So we backtracked to the tapas restaurant we’ve passed a block ago, Salud! The open doors, sexy lighting, and the buzzing, festive atmosphere seem like a promising place for a group outing.
We were seated immediately when we requested for seating of 6, which eradicated any worries of mine about the lack of seating from most restaurants in this nabe. We took a glance at this menu and the first thing that Ariel wanted was a drink. Helen, Ariel, and I thought of getting our cocktail but then Helen asked what was sangria. After explaining to her that it’s basically red wine mixed in with fruits and its juices, we eventually decided to order a pitcher of it and Ariel still wanted to get drunk, so he also added a mango braz caiprihana. As for the food, we ordered two orders of bacalitos and ceviches each, the ensalada de camaron (shrimp salad), ensalada de pollo, tequilaso, paella, asopaito, and a side of yuca frites.
The sangria tasted pretty good. It’s smooth, fruity, and light. As for Ariel’s drink, he told me that it’s good but he prefers the original, sans the mango. Then the server came back with a plate of fried plantain chips served with a spicy, black bean dip.
Our first course of sorts, were the bacalitos, fried balls of bacalhau (salted cod fish predominant in Portuguese and Brazilian food) and mashed potatoes. It was good but I wasn’t enamored with it.
The ensalada de camaron was a shrimp and avocado salad. It tasted good due to the creamy avocado with the crisp, chopped lettuce, I like the textural contrast. The coconut vinaigrette was an intriguing flavor addition to the salad.
The other salad we ordered was the ensalada de pollo, in other words a chicken salad. This is not the American stuff where there are globs of mayonnaise; this has a more international flavor. The salad is composed of radicchio, arugula, chopped grilled chicken, peppers, almonds, and topped with shredded cheese. It’s quite tasty. Somehow Ariel said that it tasted like a Thai salad, which I agree since it had that sweet, sour and salty flavor from the ingredients of the salad and the dressing that is mixed in it.
The ceviche looked like chopped shrimp swimming in a pool of salsa, dressed up in a martini glass. It tasted fine but where’s the shrimp? At least the salsa had a tiny bit of a spicy kick, but disappointed in what we’ve gotten.
The most interesting dish of the evening, presentation-wise, was the tequilaso.
We were all thinking, “Is that salt on fire?” Yeah, it actually is. I think they soaked the salt with a bit of tequilla and lit it. I just grabbed a spoon and fish out a shrimp. Boy, was that thing SPICY! Initially, I tasted the sweet shrimp but then the heat of that bold red, chipotle sauce kicked the back of my throat like someone lit a match on it. I drank half of my glass of water to calm it a few notches but it still burned. Tasty but damn hot.
We waited a while for our main course of paella to arrive.
That plate o’ rice and seafood looked tempting…but I wanted to steer away from the lobster or any of the shellfish just because of my fear of an allergic reaction. The rice was delicious though, especially those crisp parts where the rice stuck onto the pan; that’s the best part of the paella.
Our tiny plate of yuca (also known as cassava) frites arrived as we dug into our paella. The serving size equated one frite per person. It tasted fine; topped with finely chopped garlic and chives, but I wanted more frites!
The last food course of the evening finally arrived, the asopaito. On their menu, it was a seafood stew but it looks like a seafood soup to me. Honestly, I was expecting something related to a cioppino. It tasted fine and it was chocked full of seafood like calamari (squid), clams, and vegetables but nothing remarkable about this soup or stew.
As we finished our meal, half of us took photos (as in Robyn, Julie and myself). This one came out the best so here’s Robyn and Julie really happy.
As a requirement for Robyn and I, we MUST have dessert. But after perusing their dessert menu, it’s mostly geared for more liquor. The only solid dessert was flan…and I wasn’t craving flan. Strangely enough, Ariel really wanted to get drunk that night and he wanted another drink. Helen didn’t mind sharing a martini with him, so they ordered a chocolate coconut martini.
Helen said that this martini was a bit too sweet for her liking. Ariel on the other hand, just tipped that whole thing in 3 seconds…obviously he liked it a lot.
After that was done, we paid the check, walked to the subway station (except for Julie who lived nearby, lucky girl), exchanged hugs and goodbyes, and went home. What a looong night and thank goodness I didn’t have to work on Saturday.
La Maison du Chocolat
30 Rockefeller Plz
New York, NY 10112