For our 2nd dinner in NYC we hopped on the F train to get to an area of Brooklyn called Park Slope, next to Prospect Park. This lovely tree lined, gas lamp lit and brownstone homey is home to a few local restaurants catering to those who live in the area. Applewood is one of the boutique restaurants that caters to the locals.
We started off with the complimentary bread and spread consisting of a garlic cream cheese, French butter, and a lentil spread. All very good with the wood oven bread.
For starters, the one plate that was excellent was the cheese plate, in a portion that should be for two or more. There was a cows milk cheese, a sheeps milk cheese, a goat cheese, and a blue cheese cake served with a few home made Italian bread chips. The cheeses were of exceptional flavor, that they could have served half as much, and we would have been fine.
I should not have done it, but I did it anyway. Two of us at the table got the foie gras with a cherry compote as a starter. Again, the portion was way bigger than anyone should be indulged. I finished it. I have only had foie gras as an adult twice, and the other time was earlier this year. Laura, one of the owners of Applewood said that all the meat they use comes from an organic farm in upstate New York
, and that there are humane practices used to raise the animals. There was no direct answer of whether the foie gras came from a goose that was raised organically in upstate NY, and judging by the size of the piece of foie gras on my plate, I doubt it was. At anyrate, I enjoyed the foie gras, and while I ate it, I thought that this is probably the last time I ever have it until better farming practices are put into place.
I gave up eating chicken and pork for many years after spending some time in Central Missouri where there is the largest concentration of industrial pig and chicken farms than any other area of the USA. When the wind blew the wrong way, there was that un-managed industrial farm pig poop smell for days. This smell carries for miles, no matter what anyone tells you. The rotting crap smell permeates every fiber of clothing, so even after the wind changes, the smell is the carpet, in the jacket, in the shirt, etc. The stench just made me want to vomit, it made me sick to my stomach for days on end. Having been at PennState, where they take their animal husbandry quite seriously, the pig barns were clean, and the pigs seem to be as happy as pigs s**t, but not be in s**t. It is possible to raise pigs in a sustainable way and that don't stink to vomiting proportions. Anyway, a decade later, I am ok eating organically raised pork now, but I still have flash backs to that horrible industrial farm stench. These industrial farms are the definition of Gross Out stench!
Being so grossed by pork was difficult because there is a Chinese braised pork belly dish made in a clay pot with 100 cloves of garlic and root vegetables, like lotus root, that is to die for, and I gave up this dish too. For those who are fortunate to have had this Chinese style clay pot braised pork belly with lotus root know how fantastic this savory dish is. I don't ever remember being in a USA restaurant, besides a real Chinese restaurant to offer braised pork belly, so I had to try Applewood's organic braised pork belly. Applewood's translation of braised pork belly was interesting because they kept the traditional European influence of serving pork with a sweet sauce over greens, which may be collards, but I cannot be certain, and diced yams cubes. Again, this was about twice the size it needed to be. I unfortunately ate the whole thing, and as I sat there, the pork belly started to expand in my belly, and I felt like I just ate a Thanksgiving meal. It took a few hours, a nights rest and a 6+ mi run around Central Park to make me feel unstuffed again.
Because we were in NYC, and we have already hit 2 of the 3 questionable farming practice meats (foie gras and pork), why not round out the table with #3, veal. A couple other people at my table got veal tenderloin medallions wrapped in homemade pancetta over greens and lentils. I hear it was very good. I did not get to try it because, as you have read, I had my own huge portions to contend with.
The others at my table ordered dessert, I did not because I was just too full. What was ordered was a mint ice cream sandwich with two chocolate cookies, and a dish with homemade chocolate ice cream. A small taste of the ice cream was enough, it was flavorful and very good. Then there was also a poundcake made with olive oil instead of butter. The co-owner, Laura, a stereo-typical high strung, fast talking, Chicago woman transplanted in New York, kept on talking about the olive oil pound cake all through our dinner, and was a bit forceful in wanting us to order this cake. It was almost like a Seinfeld episode when Jerry's parent's neighbors kept on insisting that Jerry should "Take the pen!" Laura kept on saying, "Take the poundcake!" Was she trying to sell it because it was good, or was she just trying to get rid of it because there was too much of it in the kitchen? The table did not order it, so she had the waiter bring us a plate of it anyway. I did take a bite of that, and I did not care for it at all, and I had to do a chocolate ice cream taste chaser. It was strange because the poundcake was grainy and dry like a cornbread, but oily at the same time, if that is possible. It did not have that buttery flavor that one longs for in a pound cake, because it was made with olive oil. Oh well, 2 out of 3 desserts ain't bad.