We started the Saturday with the FedEx delivery person at our door at 11:00am. Ah hah, our shipment had arrived. Four whole live lobsters (about 1lb each), 4 lbs mussels, and 4 jumbo crab cakes all the way from Maine. We were in for a fantastic Saturday night of dinner at home with a couple of our good friends. Since there were four of us, that meant each of us had one whole lobster, 1lb of mussels, and a jumbo crab cake for him/herself. Good times.
We opened the box to check on the lobsters. They might have been feeling a little sluggish from the long flight over but we moved them a little and they confirmed that they were alive by moving their claws about. They were resting among the seaweed awaiting their fate. I probably felt a tad bit sorry for these little buggers but hey, they are rewarding us with their fantastic sweet meat.
Lobsters are not difficult to prepare or cook if you want to eat them the plain simple way by boiling, which is really the best way to taste the pure sweetness and flavor of the lobster. The icy cold waters in Maine make these lobsters sweeter so why ruin it with sauce?
Lemon, sliced into wedges
1. In a large pot with lid, fill it with enough water to cover the lobster completely.
2. For every 2 liters of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring salted water to a boil.
3. Put the lobster into the boiling water with the lobster head down first while making sure that the tail is curled under the body.
4. Cover the pot with the lid and bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, start timing the number of minutes needed to cook the lobster. Boil the lobster for 10 minutes for the first 1lb in weight of the lobster. Add 3 more minute of boiling for each additional lb in weight. Note: It will be very useful to know beforehand the weight of each of your lobsters since cooking time is dependent on the creature's weight.
5. Remove from water and place directly on serving plate. You can enjoy the lobster meat by squeezing some from lemon juice over the meat and dipping them into melted butter before popping them into the mouth.
The leafy and tree-lined streets of Greenwich Village make it a nice place for an afternoon stroll along the beautiful redbrick townhouses. The ivy creepers on the exterior of the townhouses add to the already charming atmosphere. Greenwich Village is known for many things and one of its reason to fame was being the location of where Sex and The City was filmed. Sarah Jessica Parker lives here and so did her alter ego in this TV show. The location of Magnolia Bakery which rose to fame thanks to Sex and The City is here on Bleecker Street. For those who were not fans of Sex and The City (i.e. T and I), the narrow Bleecker Street is where shopping comes alive. New York's gay community can be found on Christopher Street. New York University territory is centered in the West Village which adds to the vibrancy of Washington Square Park, a place where many people choose to spend their time outdoors on a beautiful sunny day.
Besides getting its fame for being the home of the annual TriBeCa Film Festival, this neighborhood finds itself with galleries and restaurants. Robert De Niro's ties to TriBeCa is evident. Not only is he the founding member of the TriBeca Film Festival which was established to to support independent films, he also owns the Tribeca Grill restaurant in the area on Greenwich Street. One feels calm walking along the streets of TriBeca with not much sense of urgency which is rare for New York City. Amid the redbrick buildings and former warehouses now converted into art galleries, antique stores, and bars, there is a sense of community here. Go west towards Hudson River Park and stroll along the Hudson River for views of the New Jersey skyline just across the water.
Once a bohemian sanctuary for artists, SoHo today is home to an unending collection of expensive boutiques and art galleries nestled along cobblestone streets. SoHo has been given the designation of being a Historic Cast Iron District with its largest concentration of cast iron architectural buildings in the U.S.
Balthazar is reputed to be the essential Manhattan brunch experience for anyone, locals or tourists. If you want to stay away from the tourist crowd though, go really early even if it means waking up early on a Sunday morning. We were told that local New Yorkers go to Balthazar for breakfast and brunch early in the day. Later in the morning is when more groups of tourists come in. If you get lucky, you might spot a celebrity or two at Balthazar. Unfortunately, we did not get lucky that day.
One of the classics of Balthazar is the huge bowl of cafe au lait. How could it not be fun holding up my bowl with two hands and sipping my cafe au lait?
We made early reservations for breakfast at 9am (they open at 7:30am). Yes, we wanted to blend in with the locals but as much as we also wanted to sleep in a little more on a Sunday morning, we had to catch our flight back to Chicago in those next few hours. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. We saw a continuous stream of tables getting filled in no time from the moment we got seated.
Balthazar offers a little Parisian atmosphere right in the heart of Soho in New York City. Everything about Balthazar screams classic from the decor to the mismatched wooden chairs and red vinyl booth seating. Space between tables are so tight that you really think this could be Paris.
The presentation of T's scrambled eggs puff pastry made me first wished I had ordered it when it was served at the table. I did have a taste of T's dish and we both loved that the puff pastry was very buttery in taste. Nothing beats the taste of fresh quality butter in a pastry. The pastry was flaky but not too light. The texture was hearty and thick enough for its petite breakfast size. I was very impressed with my Eggs Bella Donna that it made me stop wishing that I had ordered the scrambled eggs puff pastry instead. The pancetta was sliced very thinly and it was pan fried until delicately crispy, yet there was no hint of burnt sides at all. In fact, just by looking at the pancetta that sat atop the poached eggs, one would have thought that based on the color of the pancetta it was unfried and that biting into the piece of meat would feel like one was biting into soft fat. However, looks were deceiving. The pancetta was so delicately crispy, it didn't even feel like I was eating any fat at all.
For a piece of Parisian atmosphere, Balthazar offers this best in the heart of New York City.
80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
2012 James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Restaurant
2004 New York Magazine Best Late-Night Dining
2002 New York Magazine Best French Pastries