May 12, 2006
done with school, Clinton Street Baking Co, and the Nougatine Room
Mom: You gained weight.
She's right, but...still. These aren't words a daughter wants to hear from her mum after not having seen each other for one and a half months. In that time period between spring break and moving out of my dorm, I guess I had noticeably increased in girth. From all that...eating. Surely you've seen it. I haven't decided whether or not I should care intensely about the damage I'm doing to my body from putting too much into it and thus exercise some moderation (because I wouldn't exercise anything else, hoohaa!), or if I should just continue my fooding spree until I explode...or can't fit into any of my clothing. If the first one happens, the second would have to also. (And in between the two, death would occur, which would be problematic.)
I left my dorm (known as the nicest dorm in NYU...and one of the farthest away from campus) of two years at around 10 PM, which was oddly the same time that about eight other families wanted to move out. Hmmm. Luckily I live pretty close to school; I can't imagine having to move out and then ship my crap back home or put it in storage. I made two trips with the gigantic gray "moving out" cart and in about half an hour my mum's Jeep was completely stuffed with my 15 or so bags and crates, which were in turned stuffed with crap I didn't even know I had. Funnily perhaps, I had about five bags full of kitchen related items. As you know, I don't cooke very often, but when you need a pot, you need a pot. And a pan. And a baking sheet. And cooling racks. And plates, and bowls, and utensils, and measuring spoons and cups and storage containers and...
...I realized that if I truly hadn't cooked (or planned to), I would've had a lot less crap to bring home. My cup only came into usefulness a handful of times for the sake of holding hot chocolate. I remember last year using my measuring cup as a drinking cup (which I rarely needed) before I realized that I should probably get a real one. Normal people do not drink out of measuring cups, I think. Then again, I'm not normal—maybe I should've held onto that eccentricity.
I think I'm a college senior now. That's pretty damn weird. If my final year in college follows the trend of the past three, it'll be the most procrastination-filled year everrrr.
Oh yeah, food. Sorry to bore you with that random "I'm done with college" stuff. As one of the last fun meals of the year, last Saturday I went to Clinton St. Baking Company for brunch with Sarah, Patty, and William. We had to wait almost an hour to be seated and practically stalked a four-seat booth as the customers paid their bill, sat there...sat there some more...and FINALLY LEFT, HURRAH, IT'S PANCAKE TIME.
It was William's idea to photograph Patty's pancake stack in this nature scene-like fashion. You got your craggy walnut-topped mountain of round, fluffy pancakes looming over a lake of one of the top ten most delicious substances in the world (don't ask me what the other nine are): maple butter. It sounds simple, because it is. However, I've never seen or tasted it anywhere else before, which makes me wonder if it really is that simple or if it requires some kind of other-wordly knowledge that is only passed down to the most worthy syrup makers, who in turn can't even tell their own children (punishable by detachment of important limbs) unless they too are worthy syrup makers. They must know the properties of butter and the properties of maple syrup and how to make the marriage of the two truly last until death. Your death. From ingesting buckets of it.
And I think I could ingest a bucket of it, at least if it's accompanied by a stack of pancakes. This sauce is seriously one of the most memorable things I've ever tasted in my life, and by now you know that I've eaten many things. I don't see the point of actually describing the taste to you (um, aside from butter and maple syrup, which you probably figured out already) because...you need to taste it for yourself. Dip a pancake chunk into the light, gravy-colored sauce, stuff it in your mouth, and think, "......" While your thoughts turn into vacant ellipses, your vocal cords should return something like, "Guuhuhguhruhrhugrmmhwhaa."
Or maybe that's just me. I'm a weird one.
Sarah and I split our dishes 50/50, which resulted in neither of us becoming too overly pancaked or crabcaked. I wouldn't usually choose a crabcake sandwich over any other kind of sandwich, but I chose it because I figured I wouldn't order it again. While a brioche roll isn't my favorite (I like chewier bread with crust), the sandwich as a whole was great. The crabcake was thankfully more crab than cake and the soft crustacean chunks held together nicely. The creole mayo-mustard gave it some spicy personality, kind of like...wearing a silly hat as opposed to a normal hat. Except not. Another nice part of the platter were the homemade potato chips, which were uber-thin and thus tasted of crispy, deep-fried fatty deliciousness. The thinness gave them the impression of being light, but that meant they tasted like golden flakes of fat...which is pretty tasty. And not light.
Alas, not everything could be perfect. This was one of the most disappointing milkshakes I've ever ingested. I've ordered many milkshakes in my day and for this to have happen at Clinton Street Baking Company, which seemed to be good at everything, made it even sadder. First off, when a menu describes something as "extra thick", there are certain expectations to be filled, such as...extra thickness. If this shake was just "plain thick", it would've been disappointing. Since it was supposedly adding a layer of extra thickness to some pre-existing characteristic of being thick, it was even more disappointing; What was it adding thickness to? The thin, milky substance in my glass that was so not worth $6? $6! Think of all the cookie slabs that could buy you. (Three, in case you were wondering.) I ordered the vanilla-chocolate-chunk flavor and while there were technically some chocolate chunks in the shake, a better description would've been "vanilla-chocolate-bits"...since that's what they were. Bits. When I hear the word chunk I think of something that could feasibly be carved out of the side of a larger something, as though there's a chocolate mountain and someone whacked it with a pick-axe to create the chocolate chunks. The chunks wouldn't have fit through the straw if they were that large, but...still! THE MENU DESCRIPTIONS TELL LIES.
Ignoring the overpriced milkshake, this restaurant is still pretty awesome. That maple butter makes up for all the wrong in the world. I think they laced it with something. Puuure looooove.
Or mood-enhancing chemicals.
I bought a few baked goods before I left. Thumbs up for the chocolate chunk muffin and the chocolate chip cookie, but thumbs down for the berry scone, which had a funky, springy texture and not enough buttery taste. Or taste overall.
Sarah and I are rubbing our bellies. Because we are so stuffed that we want to roll over and hibernate for a few months. Heehee!
On Tuesday, Sarah and I went to Nougatine (or "The Nougatine Room"...I don't know the official name) for their $24.07 prix fixe lunch. She wanted to eat at a more upscale place before leaving NYC (although she plans on visiting again in the summer) and she picked Nougatine (...sorry, but every time I see that word I think, "Haha, noog") since it's the casual Jean-Georges dining experience...which still makes it more upscale than most places.
I suspect the rent in this building is kind of a buttload.
Our meal started off with a giant disc of butter. I like it. Grace pointed out that the butter mountain was probably sliced from a mother butter log, an idea that hadn't entered my mind. Yup, I have to think bigger. There is a butter log somewhere. We were each given a baguette slice to go with the butter slice and during the meal a waiter with a bread basket would ask if you wanted another slice to keep your bread plate from feeling lonely. Oh god, I could eat bread forever.
How funny would it be if you were presented that plate on the left and told to dig in? YOU COULD INHALE THOSE GARNISHES. Thankfully, that's...um, not the dish. Sarah's spring asparagus soup with meyer lemon and truffle vinaigrette didn't fully materialize until a waiter came by with a pitcher containing a single serving of the thick, yellow-green soup and poured it over the lemon and asparagus bits. "DIE, BITS, DIIIIE!"...was not at all uttered during the ceremonial pouring, but I was probably thinking something along those lines. Because I'm weird.
[On a totally random note, last night I found my old science portfolio from 6th grade, which contained lab parter evaluations. Under the "What needs improvement?" section, my friend wrote that nothing was wrong with me, but that perhaps I should be less weird. She was just kidding, of course, but that just goes to show that my weirdness was already in full bloom when I was in 6th grade. It suuuure waaaas.]
Oh, how'd the soup taste? Really good. I couldn't taste the truffle whatnot, but the slight tang of the lemon with the creamy, freshly souped asparagus-ness was...um...really good. Umm. IT'S SOUP! IT'S LIQUIDY! IT SMELLS OF VEGETABLE-BASED AROMAS! Yeah.
I ordered the arugula salad with radicchio and sugar snap peas. I'm not actually a big fan of salads, but my conscious told me that I needed to eat something raw and of plant-origins. The bitterness of baby greens (or the bitterness of anything) does not agree with me, but this was definitely a nice salad. One aspect of a "nice salad" for me is when there's just the perfect amount of dressing coating every bit of the salad. That takes skillz.
My entree of grilled pork with braised fennel and herbed salad was simple and satisfying. Yeah, it's a bit of a pointless description, but the impression that Sarah and I got from the dishes was that they were very well prepared compositions of simple ingredients. I know I could grill a pork chop, but I doubt it would come out as nice. I could probably braise fennel too...poorly. The herbed salad of dill and other things I couldn't recognize was more vinegar-y than I was expecting, but as the pork and fennel had mellow flavors, they went well together. I mean...I did eat the whole thing. Yup.
They pay careful attention to utensils here. We noticed that we had different silverware, with Sarah's being the stranger set. She was given a blunt knife with a slightly angled cutting edge (kind of like a butter knife...or maybe it was a butter knife) and a fork with only three prongs, as opposed to my serated "pork tearing" knife and a fork with four whole prongs! I guess her utensils worked out for her, as she ate most of her sake-soy glazed salmon with napa cabbage and cilantro. The salmon was cooked a little rare, so it was...soft n tasty n stuff. There's probably something written out there about the rareness of food in relation to its prestige, but...uh...that sounds like a school paper and I'm lazy.
Time for the best part of the meal: SUGAR. This is what chocolate chantilly on breton sable with mint sorbet looks like. If you look closely at the chantilly part (mm, creeeam), its sitting on top of a little chocolate cake bit, which I guess is nameless according to the menu. I don't know what a breton sable is, but if they're all like what was in this dessert I wouldn't really want to eat it again. The dryness of the cookie caused a piece of it to ungracefully fling off my plate and make a crumbly mess on the otherwise pristine floor when I tried to cut it with my spoon. Crap. IT WAS NOT MY FAULT, I SWEAR. I felt guilty marring the floor with my food, but it seriously just wooshed off my plate before I could catch it. I used my palm as a "cookie wooshing shield" the second time I tried to cut off a piece, but that part of the cookie was a smidge more moist and thus wasn't at risk of flying out of my plate-space.
So that was odd. The chantilly cream was fine as was the cookie part, but neither entered the "holy crap this is delicious!" department. Not enough chocolate flavor, perhaps. The mint sorbet was my favorite part because I love anything with real mint in it. Real mint >>> fake mint. However, sorbet is still much less satisfying than ice cream; there's not enough creamy mouthfeel with sorbet. Seriously, does anyone like sorbet more than ice cream? If you do that's okay, buuuut....but...I don't get it, unless you're allergic to dairy.
Sarah's dessert of fresh fruits on almond cake with cream cheese ice cream and spice sauce (although I don't know what kind of spice it was) was structurally impressive. I liked the placement of the squiggle cookie perched on top of the ice cream. This dessert was probably more satisfying than mine, or at least healthier because of the fruit.
Overall, Sarah and I thought the food was good, just not really good to the point that we'd think of going back. (I should add though that the food at the main Jean Georges restaurant next to Nougatine is supposed to be hella awesome. I don't think any critic has actually described it as "hella awesome", but if I tried it I'd wanna throw that in. If. Maybe some other day.) The service was attentive and the ambiance was comfortable and bright, although not coffee-house cozy. We hung out there for about two hours before parting ways to allow me to study for my food science and technology final, which didn't go over well due to the LACK OF STUDYING, HOOHAAHAOOAH!
Ah well, I probably passed, and that's all that matters, eh? Every time I tell people I'm not that concerned about my grades, they say, "Ah well, not like you're going to grad school; you'll be fine." It's nice to know that I can just suck at school because I have no aspirations to aquire more diplomas and whatnot. Um. Yeah. (Don't get me wrong; my grades are still good...despite that I have no direction in life. Hoorah!)
Coming up: more entries with more food and more whining about how I'm gaining too much weight. YOU ARE SO EXCITED, I CAN FEEL IT.
Posted by roboppy at 7:05 PM
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