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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Good Takeout in West Chelsea (& Non-Brut Brut)

pretty good for takeout
Tuesday: another day off. I, again, ventured downtown and while there decided to pick up some takeout for a "surprise" dinner with David. (I'm a self-proclaimed "non-cook") In West Chelsea, I decided to stop at Cookshop, whose takeout has previously proven to be good. From the lunch menu, I simply selected the hearth stone pizza and country pâté

Walking east on 20th Street, my parcels suddenly seemed a bit scant for a party of two. Earlier in the week, I'd told David about a new Punjab deli I'd discovered on 9th Avenue. I decided to stop there for a couple of samosas. ($1.25 each and seasoned with fennel seeds, they're quite possibly the best I'd ever had!)

clockwise from top: samosas, provolone piccante and caramelized 
onion pizza, homemade hummus, pâté and pickled vegetables

All in tow, I headed back uptown for a final stop at PJ Wine for some bubbly to go along with dinner (per David's request). Riding the A train and envisioning the assembled dinner, I decided we needed one more thing... I'll make hummus!

homemade hummus with tahini, ground 
cumin and extra-virgin olive oil

Once home, I searched online for hummus recipes and came up with my own variation based upon several I'd read. (I mainly followed the one I found on Food & Wine) I posted on Facebook: I just made hummus! I can't believe how fun and easy it was! Minutes later, a friend me asked for "the recipe"; here's what I'd sent:

I just combined various recipes I'd read online... 
1 cup chickpeas, drained, but not completely (allow about 1 tsp to remain; set aside the remaining liquid) 
2 tbs tahini 
1/2 garlic clove, crushed 
Puree in blender into a chunky consistency. Add 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. Puree until smooth, add a little more water from the chickpeas if needed then keep adding a little olive oil at a time until you reach your desired consistency. At the same time, also add 1 tsp cumin, a pinch of paprika (smoked if you have it) and salt to taste (up to about a 1/2 tsp). And this 'recipe' is just for one serving. Most of the recipes I'd found were for a full 15 ounce can, so you can just about double everything if you want a larger portion.

I thought my hummus tasted fine and the consistency was pretty much spot-on. After assembling the table, I called David into the kitchen from which he was banished for an hour or so. Seeing it all together, I thought, Maybe it's too much food after all. Yet, David and I managed...

WE BEGAN with the samosas from Dil-E-Punjab Deli, which David agreed were quite good, complimenting its pastry shell. (however, I didn't notice any fennel seeds in my samosa) Next, we tasted Cookshop's hearth stone pizza with provolone piccantecaramelized onionsarugula and cracked black pepper--the aroma of the provolone piccante was irresistible! As I tasted my first bite of the slightly chewy pie, a lot of flavor was packed into that first bite; I even thought it rivaled The Plaza Food Hall's pizzas, which in my opinion (as far as "restaurant pizzas" are concerned) are pretty hard to beat.

Cookshop's country pâté with three mustards

Moving clockwise, we went on to taste the country pâté, with toasted bread (placed delicately in a recycled Mondel chocolates box, lined with paper). I'd previously had Cookshop's (country) pâté and while I always thought it tasted fine, this one surpassed the others with a density of flavor. The three mustards, as always, were good--but they never state on the menu what the different preparations are... We enjoyed the pâté and hummus, side by side, before finally moving onto the pickled vegetables (included with the pâté) which we were both mad about! (although I shouldn't have let them settle to room temperature)

what's wrong with this picture?

Perhaps the only flub of the night was the California "champagne" I'd picked up at PJ Wine. (my own fault for being too much of a bargain hunter) I was planning to bring home a bottle of Jaume Serra "Cristalino," which sells at PJ for a mere $6.97. (it is "decent"--I'd seen it served at more than a couple of gallery receptions and my wine professor has served it for large parties at his summer house) Alas, they were all out of the Cristalino. However, I did notice Tott's "brut," on a lower shelf for a mere $6.43. I was apprehensive (I'd never tried it before), but it was only about a dollar less than the Marquis de la Tour--Brasserie 8 1/2's house sparkler. Maybe it would be alright...

I poured a glass for David and a taste for myself. Brut it was not. It was more like a sec or perhaps even demi-sec! It was disappointing to drink this throughout our meal, but I would have it again--for an end of dinner toast or with dessert--but never again with dinner, or as an apéritif. Mon Dieu!
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