Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Geneva Foodie has a brand new site!

Hey friends in Geneva and abroad: after running on the Blogger platform for more than five years now, this piece of Web space has finally graduated to blog maturity and now runs on its own! Well not completely, but you know what I mean. So please be sure to update your bookmarks, and head over to Can't wait to share more foodie adventures with all of you there!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sarge's Deli

I posted about Kaz's Deli some time ago, but there are definitely a few other players on the New York deli scene worth paying attention to. Sarge's Deli is one such place. Their pastrami may not be sliced as thick as Katz's but it definitely gives Katz a run for its money in the taste department. In fact, I'm even a little tempted to say that  Sarge's pastrami is a little tastier.

First come the customary pickles. I probably said so in my post about Katz, but pickles are definitely one of the best parts of the NYC experience!

Then comes a complimentary side of cole slaw, it is huge and it is delicious! It comes with a very simple dressing that just takes this salad to the next level. Wish they'd learn how to make a proper cole slaw here.

Ah... the star of the evening! Rye bread piled high with cured meat goodness! Just look at the perfect color on that meat... it was succulent, my friends! However, much like Katz, bread is kind of Sarge's weak point. It's a little crumbly to my liking. But I was under the impression Katz's bread was unseeded whereas Sarge's is definitely seeded as is evidenced by the photo below. If Katz's bread is seeded, I definitely didn't taste the caraway seeds which is a pity, because that is my favorite part of the rye bread experience. So while neither deli gets too high a mark on their bread, my preference still goes to Sarge's. Don't get me wrong though, Katz's Deli still rocks!

Also Sarge's pastrami is somewhat cheaper than Katz. I believe Katz's pastrami sandwich is around $19.75.

On separate visits, I tried a couple more items on Sarge's menu. I remembered eating macaroni salad in NYC many. many years ago, and I wondered if the taste I remembered was authentic or just a fragment of my imagination, so I gave the macaroni salad a try, and it was sweet and hearty just as I remembered! It's definitely good comfort food, but it's pretty rich so I couldn't finish it.

I also sampled the corned beef at Sarge's, and it was equally good. That time, I ordered the sandwich on a roll rather than on rye, but again the bread was nothing to write home about.

I thought I'd also give the cheese fries a taste. The portion was huge and, well, probably not the healthiest item to order on the menu, but we all know what to expect when we order cheese fries. Don't expect to be able to finish that either!

So that was my experience at Sarge's. Typical NYC deli fare. Not something I would recommend on a regular basis but on the occasional trip to NYC, it's definitely worth it!

Doughnut Plant

I like a good doughnut. Correction -- I love a good doughnut. And in New York City, you definitely have a wide array of doughnuts to choose from. I won't deny there was a fair amount of Dunkin' during my last visit, but sometimes you want to have something a little different. Enter The Doughnut Plant, a doughnut shop a baker started a twenty years ago with a family recipe.

I had been hearing about The Doughnut Plant for years and had even seen it featured in various food programs, so of course I was very curious to try the actual thing when I went to New York.

I had heard so much about Doughnut Plant's famous crème brulée doughnut, and truth be told, it is very good.

But even better is their tres leches cake. A doughnut which packs a delicious vanilla flavor and definitely makes it worth paying the Lower East Side repeated visits!

Les Dix Vins

I had been hearing about Les Dix Vins for a number of years. And even though I'm often in the Carouge area, I never actually got around to going there, not until sometime last month that is. The reviews I had heard were overwhelmingly positive and the meal I had certainly lived up to any expectations I might have had.

We kicked things off with this octopus starter. It was delicious, I would definitely want to go back to Les Dix Vins just for this.

I then moved on to my main course. a slow roasted beef dish that comes in a rich, hearty wine sauce with carrots and a couple of other vegetables. Again it was excellent. But the star here was definitely the amazing house mashed potatoes -- comfort food taken to unprecedented levels of perfection! And just for that, I'm definitely going to try to make another trip to Les Dix Vins

My friend had boeuf tartare which she said was one of the best she'd ever had. I don't usually have boeuf tartare so I can't really give a first-hand account. But I do trust her tastes.

Then came the dessert, a mille-feuilles the chef makes from scratch. Again another winner at Les Dix Vins! See when it come to dessert, I have two basic criteria, first how it tastes -- that's fairly standard I would think -- and second, nothing adds more to the experience of a great tasting dessert than a mixture of textures, and this mille-feuilles definitely delivered on both counts. It was simply delicious, maybe even the best mille-feuilles I've ever had, and the creaminess combined with the crunch just made for an amazing experience. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mille-feuilles!

Xi'an Famous Foods

There used to be a time in the not too distant past when you'd find a decent neighborhood Chinese joint on virtually every street corner. Such times seem to be long gone and finding consistently good, reasonably priced Chinese food requires something of an effort nowadays. To help me locate the best Chinese fare, I relied on my trusty friend, the Internet. And that's how I came across Xi'an Famous Foods.. Yelp, Zagat, Forbes... Xi'an Famous Foods certainly seems to have made an impression on anyone even remotely involved in writing food reviews.

With locations all around the city, chances are if you're in NYC, you're probably not too far from a Xi'an Famous Foods restaurant. I looked up the closest location and it turned out to be just a few blocks away. I headed out one evening, and much like the reviews had suggested, found myself standing in a fairly long line waiting to place my order. Long as it was, however, I was very pleased with the surprisingly short wait.

Xi'an Famous Foods specialises in various soups and hand-pulled noodles. Great! I'm usually craving noodles when the Chinese food mood strikes. And hand-pulled? Well you just can't go wrong with that.

So I place my order and head to the room in the back of the restaurant which is minimally decorated to say the least. I then wait for my number to be called and I finally get my noodles on a styrofoam dish complete with a plastic fork.

Well this was clearly not a trip to Chateau-Vieux but those hand-cut noodles were as fresh as can possibly be, and that lamb cumin combo works amazingly well. Just writing about the experience right now makes me want to swim back to Manhattan and enjoy some more Xi'an Famous Foods goodness!

I definitely recommend this spot to anyone in the area.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Salumeria Rosi

During my stay in New York, I probably had my best meals at Salumeria Rosi. And as is often the case with the best things in life, we found it rather unexpectedly. I was walking around the Upper West Side with one of my friends when we chanced upon it and started reading the menu posted outside the restaurant. My friend had a feeling it would be a place worth visiting so we came back a little while later and sat down to a delectable meal - one of three during my short stay in New York.

I love how Salumeria Rosi works, basically, you order several dishes -- they recommend between three and five for a party of two -- and they're served as soon as they're ready in a tapas-sized portion.

Even the bread was fresh and delicious.

We started with a bean and fresh herb crostini which I quite enjoyed.

Then came what was perhaps the best dish I had during my entire stay in the city: the most delicious gnocchi I ever had! It's actually a very simple dish, gnocchi, pecorino cheese, basil and a simple tomato sauce, but somehow everything was cooked to perfection and you could feel the individual flavors of each ingredient in the dish.

While my go-to dish at Salumeria was the gnocchi, my friend's was definitely the pasta amatriciana -- and I have to say it was equally delicious! Perfectly cooked al dente pasta, topped with a hearty meat sauce and pecorino cheese, this restaurant is definitely doing something right.

On my third visit, I finally decided to try something different, so I went with the lasagna, and I absolutely loved it. Another winner at Salumeria!

Could a restaurant call itself a salumeria if it didn't serve a fine selection of Italian meats? On our final visit, we ordered their selezione del salumiere and frankly even though I am not traditionally a fan of that kind of thing, I have to say, these meats were so fresh and flavorful, I enjoyed every morsel that came my way!

Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery and its cupcakes are famous the world over in part because in an episode of Sex and the City, Carrie and Miranda sit outside one of the bakery's locations while Carrie enjoys a pink vanilla cupcake and informs her bestie she has a crush on Aidan.

However, Magnolia certainly deserves its fame independently of any pop cultural references. Their cupcakes are amazing! While I was in New York, I actually read a few reviews suggesting that while Magnolia's cupcakes were quite good, you could get better elsewhere, I have to say that was not my experience. I tried a couple of the suggestions, and nothing came even close to Magnolia's vanilla or chocolate cupcake.

I should also mention, cupcakes are not all Magnolia is famous for, the bakery also makes a delicious banana pudding which I highly recommend you try at least once if you're on the other side of the pond.

A friend of mine kept telling me to try the banana pudding, and I'd keep telling her I didn't care for banana as a flavor, I was perfectly happy to eat the fruit on its own, but I didn't especially enjoy it in desserts, shakes or what have you. She insisted, I finally relented, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

First of all, the main flavor that comes through is vanilla, so while the banana provides texture and a delicate, fruity addition to the treat, it certainly isn't overpowering the way I initially feared it would be.

 The banana pudding comes in several sizes, it is simply delicious, and again, I strongly recommend you try it if you happen to be paying Magnolia a visit.

Just waiting in line at Magnolia, looking at the beautiful displays of cupcakes and regular-sized cakes is such a treat! I really miss walking into one of their shops and getting a delicious cupcake. Both the cake and the icing are as moist as they are fresh no matter what time you get them. If only we had anything even remotely close to that here in Geneva. Oh well!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is a Cronut All It's Cracked Up to Be?

No I didn't even try to get anywhere near a cronut while I was in New York. I don't know if the lines are still as long as they were when it first came out -- in fact I don't even know if the cronut still a thing -- but the fact remains that wherever one may be on this planet, waiting in line for several hours for a pastry cannot possibly be the best use of one's time. Well that's just my two cents. I have wondered about the cronut though, is it really as good as they say it is? Could it actually be worth the wait?

Photo by ccho

According to this young woman's experience, it may not be worth the hype... but then again how often is anything really worth the hype? As she aptly points out, "it’s hard to be satisfied with anything when you’ve been waiting for nearly three hours." Check out her full review. Personally, I'm kind of glad I didn't even try visiting Dominique Ansel's bakery in NYC.

Shake Shack

OK so you know that ridiculous burger craze they're currently experiencing here? One burger joint opening after another, all labelling themselves "gourmet burgers", all ridiculously overpriced, and most important of all, each and every one of them pretty much failing miserably at making anything that even vaguely resembles an actual burger? I don't know, but if I happened to own any of these burger joints I'd be just a little embarrassed that some basic burger chain in the U.S. produces burgers that are on the one hand fairly unexceptional yet on the other hand way better than anything we experience on this side of the pond.

I don't know if I'm conveying this properly, Shake Shack's burgers are fine. In fact they're pretty good. They're just nothing special. Yet somehow, at $4.75 a pop, they're better than anything you could have anywhere in or near Geneva. And that, my friends, is just sad. Just sayin'.

Anyhoo, while in New York, I had a few meals at Shake Shack, it's fairly inexpensive and one of their locations happens to be in Grand Central, fairly close to Murray Hill, where I was staying. If I lived in New York, I doubt I'd be craving Shake Shack on a regular basis, but they make a fairly decent burger, and it gets the job done. Also their hand-cut fries are actually quite good.

I guess I hadn't traveled much of late because somehow I was under the impression that Luigia came up with the concept of the buzzer as a way to let you know your food or your table was ready, but it turns out Shake Shack lets you know your order is ready in very much the same way. I don't know who started using buzzers in the restaurant business first, but anyway, it's a fairly effective approach if you ask me.

The ShackBurger. It's good, it's filling and it isn't expensive, especially compared to the ridiculous amounts we pay for burger imitation here. Oh and also, the bun is soft... why can they never make a soft bun here?? OK I'll stop ranting now.

Shake Shack's crinkle cut cheese fries. I think more and more locations are opting for hand cut fries and the latter are definitely better. I eventually started skipping the cheese, it's a little overkill in my opinion. And as you may have guessed, it tastes a little less than fresh and/or organic.

I had a lemonade that day, one of my favorite drinks, yet so very hard to come by in Geneva. While very common in the U.S., Starbucks seems to be one of the few places that lets you decide how sweet you want your beverage, otherwise, I hope you like your drinks very, VERY sweet... which I kind of don't. Still though, what can I say, I just love lemonade!

Your orders will come in cardboard boxes... now please don't get any ideas, Genevan burger joints, this works well for cheap chain restaurants, not for the "gourmet" label and prices you're trying to convince us are even remotely justified! Oh right, I said I'd stop ranting... OK please scratch that, there may be more ranting.

Anyway, back to our topic, you can also order hot dogs at Shake Shack's, the $4 Shack-cago dog variety comes buried under relish, onions, cucumber, pickles, tomatoes and mustard among another things. It isn't bad. Worth trying. This order also happened to include hand cut cheese fries. One order of fries is more than enough to feed two in my opinion.

Shake Shack are also known for their milkshakes which are actually pretty good. This is their black and white shake, and I really enjoyed it!

The day I left, I had a Shake Shack meal at their JFK location. Bye bye Shake Shack! You're nothing revolutionary and yet every single burger joint in Geneva could learn a thing or 12 from you.

NYC is supposed to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, probably on par with Geneva. I'll let you be the judge of what you'd pay in Geneva for a burger, fries and a large beverage -- the kind that doesn't come from McDonald's that is.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Katz's Delicatessen

For my New York Series reviews, I'm going to kick things off with one of New York's most iconic delis. Located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Katz's is now famous the world over for its pastrami sandwiches among other things! It's definitely one of those touristy things you do when you go to New York so I figured I would pay them a little visit even though I usually tend to go to delis that are closer to my neck of the woods when I'm in the city.

Like just about everything worth doing in New York, you have to wait in line to get what you came for at Katz's. However, the counter is a super busy area, and just looking around can be something of an entertaining experience, not to mention the gentleman preparing your sandwich will probably give you a couple of pieces of pastrami to sample while you're waiting. And frankly, I just enjoyed standing around and taking in all of the sights, smells and sounds at the counter including the assortment of pickles, breads and condiments (mainly mustard) coming in from all around me.

And then finally, after the wait, you're rewarded with the beautiful piece of art that is the Katz pastrami on rye. Your sandwich will come with complimentary pickles, and as I will no doubt keep repeating throughout my New York series, I love me some good pickles!

Katz's world famous pastrami on rye with just a hint of mustard. If this isn't one of the most beautiful sandwiches on earth, I don't know what is!

Pickles, pickles, pickles... I heart pickles!

Truth be told, after the first half of my sandwich, I was kind of stuffed, but hey, when in New York and whatnot... so I went ahead and finished it.

So during my vacation I only went to Katz's the one time, but boy oh boy, it was worth it! To be completely honest though, I wasn't overly impressed with the quality of their rye. I wouldn't give anyone in Geneva a pass for serving sub-par quality bread, and I have a strict "no double standards" rule on! Do the contents of the sandwich make up for unimpressive bread? Absolutely! Nothing in Geneva is even close to being in the same league as the deliciousness of that pastrami. But when you have something that close to sandwich perfection, in my opinion, it's just a tad disappointing to skimp on bread quality.

Overall though? Thumbs up! Highly recommended!