another weekend update

I promise not to make a habit of these weekend updates, but I’ve been a little bit busy lately, and foodwise, it was a pretty good weekend. On Friday night I wanted to cook at home. I haven’t talked about Clifford Wright’s Bake Until Bubbly in a while, and that’s a shame because in this economy, it’s the kind of book we should all be cooking from. I’ve tried a lot of the recipes already (and loved them all), so I had to push myself to choose something new. I didn’t grow up eating tuna-noodle casseroles. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten one before, but that’s what I made. His recipe is super simple, with a sauce made from Swiss cheese, creme fraiche or sour cream, and mayo, plus frozen peas, onions, and chives. You boil the noodles, toss them with a few cans of drained tuna, and then mix that up with the sauce mixture. Top with a mixture of bread crumbs and a little butter and bake at 425 degrees until toasted and heated through. Mmmmmm, and the leftovers on Sunday night were just as good.

A quick side note about that comment I made regarding the kinds of ramen you can get in Asian markets. These are the types I had in mind — the ones with the slightly mysterious, non-English packaging. And after reading my blog, Jen pointed out to me that I wasn’t using real Sriracha — I’d been using the Sriracha chile-garlic sauce. So she kindly bought me a bottle of the real stuff.

I had to be in Ridgefield, NJ early on Saturday, so I ended up at So Gong Dong for lunch. There’s not much to say because I’ve raved about it before. I got the seafood tofu soup of course, “more spicy.” I almost always go at night when the lighting isn’t so great, but it was flooded with sunlight on Saturday afternoon, so I thought I’d share this pic of the banchan. We finished our cucumbers and sprouts pretty fast, so they brought us even more. Perfect, as always.

Maybe you’ve noticed, but unlike a lot of food editors, I’m not dining out at fancy restaurants every week. It’s just not my thing. But when it comes to chef Michael White, I can’t resist. The only thing that’s kept me away from Convivio for so long is the Tudor City (uptown!) location. I had a special occasion to celebrate, so I dined at Convivio on Saturday night. It’s not going to come as any surprise that the meal was heavenly, from the cocktails and wine to the dessert. The obvious way to order is the $59 four-course prix fixe. I guess the term “bargain” is relative, but for this quality of food, I would say the value is fantastic. The “sfitzi” are all a delight, particularly the pickled cucumbers (with mint and chili) and the spicy salami. For appetizers, I can strongly recommend the fried oysters or the pork terrine. It’s probably impossible to choose a bad pasta course here, but you might want to opt for the saffron gnochetti. My red snapper entree with garlic-braised greens and a white bean puree was another winner. And whatever you do, do not skip dessert. I didn’t make note of the pastry chef’s name, but he/she is a genius. The dessert menu descriptions do them no justice — everything is way better than it sounds. It looks like Michael’s success has followed him uptown, because the restaurant was packed all night long. Later that night we had drinks and some great sweet potato fries at a spot in Jersey City called LITM.

After sleeping in on Sunday, I ventured to Chinatown to see if that new noodle spot was open yet. It’s not, but I don’t think we’ll have to wait more than another week. So we ended up at Super Taste again. I got my usual seafood noodles and loved them, but this time we noticed they do have boiled dumplings on the menu. No, they’re not as good as Sheng Wang across the street, maybe even a bit overcooked, but you can hardly go wrong for $3.

We swung by 16 Handles for some pistachio and tart strawberry frozen yogurt. I’m not sure who is going to win the yogurt wars this summer, since all of these places can’t possibly survive, but I vote for this one based on the prices alone.

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