Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FreshDirect Delivers NYC Cuisine From Tabla

Six Degrees of Separation may be the classic New York story of not being more than six friends away from another person, but somehow the idea of ordering gourmet food from any place other than the source chef or restaurant could seem, well, unseemly to most New Yorkers.
But that was so Kevin Bacon, so long ago. 
In fact, the award-winning New York-based actor Bacon (ok, resist the food puns) and his talented wife, Kyra Sedgwick, will find ordering from some of Manhattan’s best restaurants and chefs through FreshDirect is the way to connect.

What could be more Gotham than a marriage of convenience and talent?  

Top chef meals are just a few clicks away with Fresh Direct Signature meals.

From skeptic to advocate in four entrees, Celebrity Chef Floyd Cardoz will have you eating out his hand and begging for more. 
New Yorkers who love good food, loved Tabla. 
Shuttering the doors of one of Danny Meyer’s favorite gems in the constellation of his Union Square Hospitality Group was painful for him, as it was for food enthusiasts who embraced the exotic, yet healthy and delicious menu.

Lucky for New Yorkers, ten of Chef Floyd Cardoz’s artisanal culinary creations are available through FreshDirect

Offerings from other hallmark New York restaurant brands including Rosa Mexicano, Artisanal, and Chef Terrance Brennan (French) are available too: 79 meals in total. 
(Couldn’t tip that one more meal to an even 80?!)
All the food is made fresh every day.  There is a video on the FreshDirect web site showing the chefs and kitchen food prep. A FreshDirect Top-Chef of sorts.

Ordering is easy.  Although viewing the full menu from a branded chef or restaurant could be clearer with their names listed directly on the home page.  However, there is a home screen category “Easy Meals Prepared By Our Expert Chefs.  Here, images are labeled “Bakery, Ready to Cook, Heat & Eat, Catering and 4-Minute Meals.” 
Customers choose from these categories to view the offerings from all of the master chefs rather than an intuitive, restaurant-inspired, one page viewing for the selected cuisine. 

Two to three clicks will bring The “Tabla Ten” entrees to the screen.
Chef Cardoz and FreshDirect have curated Tabla’s award-winning menu items, presenting meals that are delicious, easy to prepare, healthy, and sure-fire winners for entertaining – or just for one.  
Fans of Tabla restaurant will be rewarded with its rich, textured spices and surprising bursts of flavor adding a harmonized taste to Cardoz’s distinctive cuisine. 

Especially recommended are the reviewed 4-Minute Meal signature dishes. There are a total of six to choose from.

·      Masala-Spiced Macaroni with Creamy Spinach and Paneer.  (Paneer is a fresh Indian cheese, not unlike a cottage cheese and a staple of South Asian cooking used in savory and sweet dishes.)  This is a hearty, dish that is a blend of pasta, cheese, zucchini, tomatoes, and peas in a yogurt spinach sauce.  It pops with a blend of spices and fresh, crunchy vegetables -- no mushy mix here. The cost is $6.79 or $7.99, depending on delivery location.  
·      Spiced Salmon with Black Quinoa, Tomato Chutney & Cauliflower.  If quinoa is unfamiliar, this nutty, grain-like seed is both delicious and nutritious and is becoming increasingly popular in recipes for good reason. The package notes it is a “tasty South American grain.” This Tabla entrĂ©e is an incredibly good meal that one could serve on a platter for an elegant dinner party.  The salmon is cooked perfectly; the quinoa is fluffy and crunchy at the same time.  The tomatoes hold their taste and form even when heated. Likewise for the steamed cauliflower.  The dish is satisfying – and at 500 calories – is shockingly flavorful.  Too good to be good for you! It is $8.49 or $9.99
·      Chicken Tikka Masala with Pea Pilaf rewards with a rich, creamy curry dish that is marinated in yogurt sauce with moist chicken thighs, tomato sauce and Basmati green pea pilaf.  Tikka Masala is often the first dish newbies to Indian food try and it is a good-will ambassador that seduces a food lover to succumb to charm of Indian cuisine, especially as prepared by Chef Cardoz.  It is $7.69
·      Coconut-Basmati Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash is really, really good and at $4.24 – too good!  It is described as “creamy pilaf with earthy-sweet cubes of roasted butternut squash with rich coconut milk and long, slender grains of basmati rice.”  It is “More Please.”  And a solid value.
·      The Tabla Banana-Leaf Wrapped Coconut-Cilantro Salmon wrapped in banana leaves is a Ready to Cook, chef-prepped item that is an ingredients-minded standout. The fish is thick, rich, and nicely flavored and indeed “slathered with Chef’s sweet chutney.”  I am not sure how they do this for $7.99. One suggestion here is to include the directions in the packaging.  The cooking instructions are on the FreshDirect website so the home cook can read how to grill, bake or microwave.  But for those who do not readily don the apron, it might be bewildering and a note to check the web site or include the cooking instructions would be a benefit.

Each 4-Minute Meal comes packaged in its own microwaveable dish – which FreshDirect refers to as its pressure cooker.  It is noted with it’s own seal as 100% PBA-Free packaging and Freshness Guaranteed.
The outer packaging is colorful, with the image of the prepared meal, along with directions, ingredients and nutrition facts. 
And there is Chef Floyd Cardoz poised on the corner of the package, smiling, with a quote that he “is incredibly proud to share …the flavor of traditions of India…”   
Dining with Chef Cardoz is sublime.

Unlike being put on hold when calling for take-out delivery, FreshDirect allows the customer to choose the time of delivery. There is nominal delivery charge of $5.79 to $6.79 for a minimum $30 order for the outer boroughs and counties. There is a promotion with no charge for delivery to the Hamptons. 
Tipping is an option. 
The box comes wrapped with great care, and is clean and organized.

Simply enter the zip code and hit GO. To FreshDirect and Chef Floyd Cardoz. 
Tabla cuisine endures.

 James Beard 2011 Award Winner, Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen, worked for Chef Floyd at Tabla and credits Chef Floyd for helping shape his  palate.  See interview with Restaurant Girl:  and @restaurantgirl, @abckitchen

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