When we were in New York we had more amazing meals in the space of 12 days than I have had in a very long time. It would be kind of boring, and a bit of a let down, to just tell you about all the fabulous places we ate so I wanted to recreate something from each place to share with you. That sounds more fun, no?
We dined at La Esquina on our first Saturday night in New York. We had a fashionably late reservation for 11.30. Yes, people really do make reservations at that time, 11.30 was their third sitting, the kitchen is open until 2am.
The outside of La Esquina looks like a diner. When you walk into the diner you wonder if you are actually in the right place because the only door you can see says employees only on it. Behind that door is the doorman. He checks your name of his list and sends you downstairs with the Maitre de. You follow her through a maze of corridors and through the kitchen until you end up in a really loud bar and restaurant.
You wonder if perhaps you are too old and not quite cool enough to be there.
Once seated you are given the food menu, which is dwarfed by the size of the tequila menu. Your waiter does a shot with the table next to you and it kind of feels like you are on the set of coyote ugly, although I didn't see anyone dancing on the bar.
Thankfully there is a second drinks menu, margaritas are much safer than straight tequila. I tried the hibiscus rose and blood orange varieties. Nice.
For starters we shared the cangrejo tostadas and pollo rostizado taquitos. Seriously good stuff. If we were going back there we would stick with a larger selection from the tostadas and taquitos and not worry about the mains. The contramar (tuna) tostadas look equally delicious. I'm looking forward to planning a dinner party around this theme.
For main course Steven had Adobo BBQ de Puerco, otherwise known as a pork chop and I had the quinoa stuffed chile relleno. We added a side of black beans and really didn't have room for dessert but we did anyway. I tried panna cotta for the first time, the idea of milk set kind of like jelly has always scared me, but the crema cocida was divine.
It was a fantastic dining experience. The atmosphere when Empire State of Mind blares out across a crowded bar in New York is really something else.
Chile Relleno - Serves 6
12 small red or green capsicums
1 kg smallish tomatoes
2 Jalapeno Chillies
1 1/2 cups Quinoa, washed
100g manchego* cheese
80g slivered almonds, toasted
1 bunch fresh coriander
2 Tbs Olive Oil
Start by grilling your tomatoes, chillies and capsicums. Once they have some nice black stripes put the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with cling film. Arrange the capsicums in the baking dish you plan on using and cover that with cling film too.
Give your quinoa a good rinse and bring 3 cups of water to the boil before adding in your rinsed and drained quinoa. Bring it back to the boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until it looks like most of the water has been absorbed. Pop it to one side for about 5 minutes then drain. You want the quinoa to end up fluffy not mushy, test it to see during the cooking process. You will know when it's good to go.
After you have drained the quinoa tip it into a bowl and leave it to cool while you get on with some other jobs like grating cheese, toasting almonds and chopping the jalapenos and coriander.
Peel the skins off the tomatoes and pop them back into the bowl as you go. You want to retain all the juice. Use your fingers or a fork to squish them up. Add half the chopped jalapeno, about a third of the coriander and the olive oil and mix around. Feel free to season to taste with some freshly ground salt and/or pepper.
Mix the currants, almonds, grated cheese, other half of the chopped jalapeno and another third of the coriander in with the quinoa.
Preheat the oven to about 180C.
Take all the capsicums out of the baking dish, slit lengthways and rip out their guts. Tip the salsa sauce into the base of the dish. Use a teaspoon to fill each capsicum with the quinoa mixture, pack it in nice and tightly.
Once all the capsicums are filled bake in the oven covered with alfoil for about 10 minutes, take off the foil and finish for about another 5.
Serve into bowls with some of the sauce and sprinkled with more fresh coriander.
So so good. I declared it to be better even than my Chile Relleno at La Esquina.
I am linking up with Veggie Mama for meatless monday. Looking forward to making her salad for my lunch later in the week.
*Before I did my shopping for this dish I researched alternatives to Manchego cheese, it turned out that it was easy to find in the Adelaide Central Market, but if you can't find it I would use the soft pecorino as a substitute.