Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bits & Morsels goes Mexican and Middle Eastern

Guacamole and chips at Rosa Mexicano.

Hope everyone had a fun Cinco de Mayo. I celebrated with a group of friends at Rosa Mexicano at 1063 First Avenue at 58th Street. There are other locations, but I prefer this one on the Upper East Side, where you rarely have to wait long for a table. The first festive and colorful Rosa Mexicano opened over 25 years ago.

You can’t go to Rosa Mexicano without ordering the frozen pomegranate margaritas and the guacamole, made fresh at the table. The guacamole comes in varying degrees of heat, but the spicy is the most flavorful. Our table ordered a medium and a spicy; the spicy won out. My only issue with going out with large groups to a Mexican restaurant: it's way too easy to eat loads of chips and guacamole without any sense of self awareness.
Frozen pomegranate margarita. who wants a margarita?
It’s especially hazardous when you order an appetizer and an entrée in addition to the chips. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when going out with a group: first and foremost, it is a social event.

Come to the dinner with questions and conversation points in your head and make it a point not to eat when you are talking (obviously) and listening (not so obvious).

There are times when it is all about the food, but meeting for multiple margaritas is not one of them.
Tuna ceviche.
Barbara Regna and Ribby Goodfellow. Like Barbara would ever eat that -- just having fun.
Another tip: always share your food. Order a few dishes for the table to try. This keeps food boredom at a minimum. And is not only fun, but economical. Also, spicy foods can be more flavorful. Flavorful=filling. So order things extra hot (especially when eating Mexican).

I love the spicy guacamole and the tuna ceviche. The ceviche is as refreshing as it is bright (see photo). They also offer heartier meat dishes like ribs and cabrito (goat), which was the evening's special. All of the dishes are presented attractively and come with hot sauces and tortillas to accompany the dish. Rosa Mexicano is the perfect place to go with your friends to forget about this dreary weather.

Rosa Mexicano
1063 First Avenue at 58th Street

Slicing into the avocado for the tableside guacamole.
Tortillas being made. Cabrito (baby goat).
Crab empanadas. Warm soft tortillas with red and green salsa.
Ribs. Mushroom quesadillas.
Tres leches cake. Apple empanadas.
Flan. Happy Birthday!! Chocolate coffee cake.
If you feel like making your own homemade guacamole for Cinco de Mayo, here's the perfect recipe. The key to great guacamole: use avocados that are ripe and soft. You can test this by lightly pressing on the avocado before you slice into. [Simply Recipes]

This article is a good resource for tasty places
to eat around Grand Central Station. I am especially fond of Crisp. Crisp refers to its crispy and light falafel balls. Located at 684 Third Avenue, Crisp is a postmodern falafel place. Instead of the usual falafel toppings like Israeli salad and hummus, they offer combinations such as the crisp mexican with cilantro pesto, avocado and corn.

My go-to crisp is the mediterranean, which includes sundried tomato spread and parmesan cheese. You wouldn’t think ... but it works, trust me. Crisp also offers house blended iced teas like strawberry magic and gaucho mint, a good digestif for those falafels.
Robby Bither - Executive chef and manager. Sandwich comes in a handbag.
The menu.
The Crisp -- falafel with cubed salad and hummus.
Crisp is bright and clean and all of their packaging is biodegradable (how many other falafel joints are environmentally friendly?).

It's kind of gimmicky but I do like the “handbag” that the sandwiches are packaged in; it makes eating and transporting the sandwiches much neater. Falafels are recession friendly and even though Crisp is pricey as far as falafels go, the portions are more than substantial and the quality is peerless. [The New York Times]

110 West 40th Street
684 Third Avenue (corner of 43rd Street)
Clockwise from top left: Mediterranean falafel; Freshly made crisps; Athenian bowl; Strawberry tea.
In a blind taste test between dog food and normal foods (well, not really normal) like Spam and pate ... many people were unable to identify the dog food. Participants actually thought the spam or the expensive pate were dog food. The dog food was rated as the worst tasting but not everyone actually thought it was dog food. [The LA Times]

Here is an interesting breakdown of what Chefs earn for income. Not a shocker that almost all of the chefs that were surveyed were men. In comparison to last year, salaries did not increase and chefs are still working the same very long hours. [StarChefs]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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