Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Grilled asparagus sprinkled with scallions at BLT Steak.

"Bits and Morsels" is an ongoing collection of information from the world of the foodies and foodblogs:

Some folks like to get away. My destination last weekend: the brand new Ritz Carlton in White Plains. While White Plains is only a 30-minute train ride from little ole Manhattan, it feels a world away. The pace is slow and the traffic is lighter, which is pleasant (although that’s not saying much).

A popover exposed.
My favorite feature of the new Ritz Carlton hotel is BLT Steak. BLT restaurants (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) seem to be popping up all over the country. In New York City alone there's a BLT Burger, Market, Prime, Steak, and Fish. All of them are comfortable and unpretentious; and hospitable. At BLT Steak, we were treated to a delicious cheesy popover after we were led to our table; a warm and fluffy gesture.

The menu features all of the steak house classics like Caesar salad, steaks every which way, and homemade pies.

Chef Tourondel is also very talented with seafood, so it’s worth ordering the fish at BLT Steak. I had the tuna tartar and the monkfish, which was the special of the day. Both were exceptionally fresh and well-prepared.

The portions are hefty and meant for casual sharing and there is something for everyone regardless of taste or particular mood. For dessert I had a slice of the homemade pecan pie with bourbon ice cream, which is worth going off any diet for a try (or the whole pie).
Ceasar salad.
Tuna tartar.
The back of the menu pointing out the various cuts of steak and their locale.
A classic BLT steak.
Dover sole.
Monkfish over greens.
Pecan pie with bourbon ice cream.
Chef Laurent Tourondel; BLT Steak is spacious and feels very American.
Timing is everything. BLT Steak is the primary restaurant of the Ritz Carlton and so they serve breakfast in addition to dinner. I had breakfast on Sunday and was pleasantly surprised to see that the breakfast menu was just as fun and accommodating as the dinner menu. I had oatmeal and some pastries which were tasty and satisying.

During breakfast, I spotted Chef Laurent Tourondel. He was there supervising and training the staff as the restaurant is only a few weeks old. He graciously sat down with my mother and me and we proceeded to have a great conversation about everything from upcoming BLTs set to open in Los Angeles to the presidential race.
BLT pastries for breakfast.
We all know that Tuna and schools of other fish contain mercury. I never really  knew how much or gave it much thought (see: BLT Steak's tuna tartar above). I just wrongly assumed you would have to eat A LOT of tuna before mercury became a serious hazard to your health. Recent analysis done on top sushi restaurants in New York show that eating more than six pieces of tuna sushi a week exceeds the levels considered acceptable by the Environmental protection agency. I average six pieces of sushi about three times a week. Not anymore I don't. [The New York Times]

There is a lobby for practically every industry. The fish lobby was very upset with the news about mercury. The National Fisheries Institute called the New York Times' article inaccurate and sensational. Their argument: The Times only mentioned the hazardous levels of mercury in tuna, leaving out the many health benefits of eating fish, such as their abundance of omega 3 fats. [About Seafood]

It’s Official. Beginning March 31st, all restaurants with 15 or more locations in New York will be required to post calorie counts for all menu items. Hopefully this will encourage people to make healthier and more informed choices when they order their meals. Of course restaurateurs are unhappy about this and the New York Restaurant Association is looking to pursue further litigation against the City. [CNN]

Till we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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