I ordered silky, flavorful finochiona , pork salami flavored with fennel seeds. For dessert, we shared a divine strawberry-rhubarb tart with orange blossom sorbet and pickled strawberries. Creative, exotic infusions include rosemary, basil, chamomile, honey and ginseng and cognac. The passion fruit bonbon encased in white chocolate was lively, the pecan praline with Georgia pecans and dark caramel was and the hibiscus bonbon was delicately floral. The Chocolat Therapy Collection by K Chocolat include such interesting combinations as the Lotus Sutra with yerba mate, lemon, ginger and cardamom in ganache and Field of Joy with pink peppercorns and rose water—selections that recalled for me a trip to Barcelona.
Chocolate Bar is open for dinner only. One of the early entrants that made the Meat Market District burgeon, Markt has now taken smaller quarters in Chelsea, itself growing into a major gallery region and a neighborhood of young people who frequent favorite restaurants like Red Cat , Trestle on Tenth, and Cookshop. But the food here is of a kind that brings you back here for specific dishes, the best of them in the Belgian style and accompanied by one of nearly three dozen beers, many on tap.
By all means begin with a shellfish tower, bristling with whatever seafood you desire--King crab, shrimp, lobster, clams, and mussels. This last ingredient is exalted at Markt, with six or seven renderings ranging from mussels steamed in Belgian beer to mussels in coconut milk. The portion is large and there's plenty of liquid you can soak up with the baguette bread although a basket of bread for an entire table contains only a single pat of butter--very chintzy.
Also delicious among the starters, which Belgians apparently call voorgerechten , are croquettes of shrimp, golden brown and creamy inside, served with a salad. C arbonades flamandes is the French name for Stoofvlees op vlaamse wijze , a beef stew cooked in Leffe Brown Beer, and Markt's version is terrific, the beef morsels just the right size, the thick gravy hot and rich. Gentse waterzooi is another Belgian classic, a creamy stew of chicken and vegetables something like Pennsylvania-Dutch chicken and dumplings without the dumplings. Aside from all those beers, Markt carries a commendable winelist of both regional French and American bottlings.
We had a good bottle of Sancerre and one of Vacqueyras, both fairly priced. For dessert the warm chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream was good, but housemade sorbets, including one made with beer beer is not the perfect food for everything yet , were lackluster in both taste and texture. M arkt has more or less the same ambiance it has always had.
It's a Belgian brasserie, with lots of dark wood, zinc bar, and a big clock forever stopped at five minutes to midnight. It's cheery, chummy, and neighborly, as is the waitstaff, although the noise level is louder than ever, especially after nine P. The best tables are quieter because they are outside on the street, and, for some reason I cannot begin to imagine, they and three front tables inside have have nice, clean, bright tablecloths while the rest of the tables inside have dark, bare wood that, as I observed, do not get much of a wipedown before new guests arrive.
If you live in Chelsea, Markt would probably be on your speed dial already. But if you're in the mood for Belgian food done with authority, this might be your place. Markt is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In restaurant years, a dozen is a long time and means one thing: The neighborhood has adopted it as a sure thing, a comfortable place to dine and not worry too much about the price or the chef veering off in a trendy direction. If that suggests the place is pat, it is also consistent, and since my last visit five years ago, little has changed and none for the worse. The long dining room, with a copper bar, is done in pastel tones and wooden floor, with nicely spaced tables.
Marcos is much in evidence to guide you through the menu, and the service staff is warm and amiable. On beautiful New York nights people scramble to take the tables outside in view of the bridge and the river. Y ou'll be happy with the appetizers, which are generous proportioned, like the crisply fried calamari with a tomato dip and the jumbo crabcake with guacamole and crispy leeks. A pasta as a main course easily feeds two, but half orders are nearly as hefty.
Try the lusty orrechiette Barese with Italian sausage, broccoli di rabe in garlic and white wine sauce, or the spaghetti alla carbonara with pancetta, onion, and white wine. Spinach gnocchi lies beneath a- lavish ivory-colored Gorgonzola sauce. There is also a pizza section, and though we easily nibbled our way through one with prosciutto, arugula, and "a touch of truffle," it was pretty basic pizza without much flavor. Main courses are O. A pork chop done milanese-style got lost under a rainforest of salad greens.
For newcomers, you'll be just as welcome as a regular, which you may well become. It can be fiery, and it is as much a part of the Mexican spirit as Scotch is of Scotland and grappa of Italy.
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As with everything to do with the spirits world, there is a good deal of mere hype in all this, but there is also a good deal of terrific tequila now coming out of Mexico. Tequila, whose name comes from a district in Mexico where it is made from the blue agave plant, is a big, ugly artichoke-like plant whose sweet sap, called aquamiel , is roasted, fermented, double-distilled, then drawn off at about proof, afterwards reduced to about By law tequilas have to have at least 51 percent of the spirits in the bottle made from the agave the rest may come from cane or corn sugar.
Reposado "rested" tequila is aged in wooden tanks or casks for at least two months, and up to nine in wood for the better bottlings. Cuervo and Sauza have hopped on the nueva tequila bandwagon with special bottlings whose cost precludes them from being dumped into a cocktail shaker. But I am more impressed with the line from Herradura, a year-old producer that uses agaves exclusively from its own farm and no additives. Its reposado , aged for 11 months, is a beauty, golden and richly satisfying, while its Sauza Tres Generaciones , aged five years, should never go near a blender.
I recently came across a beautifully packaged tequila by Tequilera La Quemada called 4 Copas, aged for one year. Indeed, just putting the hand-blown glass bottle with its gold caballero design is pretty impressive, but the faintly gold elixir inside is really wonderful, bright, and complex on its own, but subdued to use to make a margarita.
N o one has ever figured out the origins of the margarita or its name, with claimants abounding from a bar at the Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana to a bartender in Juarez. Another of the tropical spirits that has gained mucho admirers in recent years is mescal, once considered the brutish stepsister of tequila.
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