Review: Panca, NYC

Panca

Panca

92 Seventh Avenue South
New York, NY 10014
212-488-3900

http://www.pancany.com

It has been feeling more like September rather than July in NYC lately and I am certainly not complaining.  Thursday evening was clear & cool and it seemed as if everyone took to the streets to enjoy themselves before the weekend officially started.

The shops and restaurants lining the streets of the West Village came alive with music and people buzzing inside and out.  People sat on benches in the corner park enjoying ice cream cones & gelato from Grom & L’Arte del Gelato as the pianist played to the backup sounds of the water fountain in the center.

It is nights like these when you truly appreciate and marvel at the wonderful city that is New York.

Being lucky enough to leave work at a reasonable hour, we decided there was no better way to celebrate than to have dinner outside and watch all of the activity surrounding us.  Numerous times we have passed by the  Peruvian restaurant Panca and we knew it offered outside seating.  So within moments of asking  “Where should we go to eat?”, we were headed in that direction.

Panca offers Peruvian dishes and although there are many tapas & appetizers options, Peruvian entrees are also available.

When we were seated, our waitress placed before us a large bowl of roasted & salted corn nuts.  I believe this batch may have been overcooked as they tasted a little like burnt popcorn, but I was hungry and enjoy anything with salt and crunch so I had a few to start off with.

Corn NutsRoasted Corn Nuts

Now it was time for some drinks to toast the wonderful evening before us.  I debated getting the traditional Peruvian drink, the pisco sour, but instead my friend ordered it and I sneaked a few sips.  I have to admit, I was nervous about egg whites in a drink but this turned out to be delicious!  Very refreshing, although a bit sweet, it vaguely reminded me of a margarita.  I, on the other hand, ordered Panca’s sangria.  Now, typically I enjoy receiving some of the fruit in my sangria glass and was sad to see this was not how they serve it at Panca.   My disappointment quickly turned to delight, however, when I took a sip and realized how good their sangria is.  My new theory is that fruit in your sangria just means you are getting less of it 😉

Pisco SourPisco Sour

Now that the drinks portion of the evening was underway it was time to decide what we were going to eat.  The menu at Panca is broken up into four sections and features selections of Cebiches, Tiraditos (Peru’s interpretation of sashimi & cebiche combined), Appetizers and Entrees.

In order to try a few different items, we decided that we would stick to the tapas & appetizer dishes and come back again to enjoy the entrees.

We chose Panca’s chef’s signature cebiche, Cebiche 5 Elementos.  The menu stated that it included fresh fish of the day, red onion, key limes, hot pepper and hawaiin pink sea salt, however,  when it came to the table we noticed it came with a few additions such as a slice of yam & hominy.

CebicheCebiche 5 Elementos

The cebiche was good although it lacked any heat which would have been a nice contrast to the acid from the limes.  I could not determine what the fish used was but it was very fresh, sweet and mild. The hominy, in my mind was the star of the dish.  It was slightly tough on the outside but once you bit into it, the inside was creamy and soaked up all of the flavors in the cebiche.

The only dish we ordered that was served warm was the Yuquita Frites, fried yuka sticks which were served with a bright green pepper sauce.  Delicious!  The “fries” were salty and crunchy and the pepper sauce had a touch of garlic which made the whole dish burst with flavor.

FritasYuquita Frites

The biggest success of the evening, however, was the Causa Marina en Trio.  The dish consisted of pureed Peruvian yellow potato dough stuffed with three different seafood mixtures & a slice of avocado.  The first mixture was crab meat which was sweet, juicy and was given a slight crunch with diced pepper.  Up next was the shrimp mixture which was also quite tasty.  The far superior stuffing, though, was olive marinated octopus.  The chopped mixture was briny with hints of smokiness perhaps added by finely diced sausage or ham.  The plate was served with an aji sauce which was also delicious.

TrioCausa Marina en Trio

About halfway through the meal my friend decided to switch from the Pisco sour to a Peruvian beer.  The beer was light and he likened it to our Budweiser but hey, when in Rome.

Overall the meal was fabulous.  As most of our dishes are supposed to be served chilled, Peruvian food seems like it would be a great choice for a hot, steamy summer night…that’s if Mother Nature ever remembers what month it actually is.

Catching Up

Relaxing in Naragansett, RI after a few weeks of craziness

Life has been non-stop these last few weeks and unfortunately most of it had little to do with food.

With a big work deadline looming most of my meals were takeout, consumed at my desk or during a meeting and at random hours of the day.

After my work assignment was over and done with last Friday,  I headed up to Rhode Island again for another fabulous weekend of relaxation which I so badly needed.

A few foodie moments snuck into my schedule lately, however, and here is a quick roundup:

♦ Delicious, cozy meal at Little Owl in the West Village, NYC (full review post to come soon)

♦ A fabulous engagement party for two close friends.  I had great time with all of my friends on a gorgeous day.  And of course the food was delicious! There was a slider “bar” with many different slider varieties including salmon, veggie, chicken and one named for the groom-to-be: Steve’s Sirloin Sliders with Chipotle Mayo.  The assortment of french fries was also incredible!  Both the sweet potato fries & regular fries were good but the Peruvian blue potato fries with truffle oil were out of this world!  Also on the menu were tiny shots of traditional tomato gazpacho and a fennel & onion salad.  Of course for dessert I indulged in a carrot cake cupcake!

yum!

♦ A special someone’s birthday dinner prepared by my gracious RI hosts and enjoyed with great company.  The meal included BBQ ribs & chicken, homemade baked beans (baked for 24 hours!), orzo pasta salad with red onion, grilled asparagus & cherry tomatoes and then a garden fresh strawberry rhubarb pie.

♦ A quiet and delightful birthday lunch picnic before a fun round of tennis (well tennis lesson for me, really).  Lunch was simple deli sandwiches, salt & vinegar Kettle potato chips & of course a Miller High Life to wash it all down.  Such a fabulous day.

View of the tennis courts from our picnic spot

♦ Random recipe ideas which always come to me when I don’t have time to test them! I wrote them all down however, so be on the lookout for them.

And last but not least…

♦ News of Foodbuzz’s first Blogging Festival  in San Francisco!!!! For a few years now I have been wanting to go to S.F. and with this latest development I really think the time has come to make the trip.  Everyone who has been there tells me how much I would love the city and enjoy all of the wonderful food it has to offer.  Can’t wait!

I’ve been trying to catch up on some of the happenings in the blog world but would love to hear what you’ve been up to in case I missed it!  Also, let me know your thoughts on Foodbuzz’s Blogging Festival.  Are you happy it is in San Francisco?  Will you be attending and what are you looking forward to the most?

Cheers!

Sunday Morning Brioche French Toast & Berries

Sunday Morning Brioche French Toast & Berries

After a long day of drinking mint juleps and watching the races, I decided there wasn’t a better breakfast to enjoy on a rainy Sunday than French toast (and of course some bacon)

I didn’t change the standard recipe for French toast but what puts this one above the rest are the thick buttery slices of brioche bread. I picked this loaf up from Amy’s Bread in the West Village but next time may attempt to bake my own.

My instructions and measurements below are not 100% accurate (that morning was still a bit blurry) so I encourage you to add cinnamon & sugar based on your preferences.

4 thick slices Brioche bread (I cut these about an inch thick)
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark brown)
pinch Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blackberries
Maple syrup (optional)
Vanilla Greek yogurt (optional)

In a deep baking dish whisk together eggs & milk until combined. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and all of the sugars plus salt.

Heat griddle (or large skillet) over medium-low heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Take one slice of bread and dip in milk mixture until covered. Remove and let drain for a minute (on a plate) before placing on the griddle.

Add more cinnamon to the milk mixture and whisk. Repeat with remaining bread slices, adding cinnamon after each piece and adding butter to the griddle for each slice.

Cook French toast approximately 4-5 minutes each side or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve with fresh berries on top & maple syrup if desired. I enjoyed mine with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt on top but was too hungry to wait for a photo!