Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Difara's Forever

Years ago I used to work out in Sheepshead Bay about once a month and I absolutely hated it.  The morning commute was long, things of convenience like banks and Duane Reade's were strangely situated avenues apart instead of every street corner and even my excitement of the nearby beach quickly diminished when I found the peaceful spot filled with large Russian men fueled on weekday vodka shots.

But then I found Di Fara's just subway stops away and the perfection of their incredible pies and the love that went into each and every one made me look forward to these trips on the Q train. Everything about the surrounding neighborhood seemed to get brighter.  I started finding cute little bodegas that had much cooler stuff than the boring Duane Reade and even those large Russian men were really quite a friendly bunch (and very open to sharing their vodka).  I stopped working out there about 5 years ago so when the opportunity arose for a random weekday meeting I jumped at the chance to check out the old 'hood and get a slice at my favorite Di Fara's.

The line outside at 12:00 was already about 25 people deep and there was Dom still shuffling back and forth between prepping dough, shifting hot pies in the oven and snipping leaves of fresh basil onto each and every pie.  He may not be moving as fast as he once did but his moves are determined and deliberate; an artistry of creating some of the best pizza in the world from a small mound of dough on a Brooklyn counter top.  

Everything about this pizza was just as I had remembered; the amazing red sauce with beautiful whole tomato, a charred crispy crust with just enough grit to keep your fingers a bit dusty and the glorious smell of basil, olive oil and freshly shredded cheese on top.

This isn't a pizza you just wolf down and go- it's a slice to savor with each and every bite.  In fact everyone around me seemed to realize that from the wide eyed tourists who kept whispering about the incredible crust ("I can't believe we're here") to the fashionistas who popped a bottle of bubbly with their pie from the liquor store across the street.  This may be just a pizza joint or there may just be a little bit of magic going on.

1424 Avenue J at East 15th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11230  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brunch at Leyenda

Leyenda is my go-to spot in Brooklyn for just about any occasion.  They have an incredible cocktail program from the great Julie Reiner of the Clover Club and just recently her protege Ivy Mix won Best American Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans.

I usually start with the Tia Mia a blend of mezcal, Jamaican rum, orange curaco, lime and orgeat.  It's got a spicy tropical little kick that always makes me feel like I'm on a beach somewhere far away.

Of course the food at Leyenda is just as strong as their drink program.  I love their Chicken Mole Enchiladas at dinner but for brunch I usually stick with the Huevos Divorciados; two poached eggs topped with salsa verde & roja served with a bright champagne vinaigrette salad (subbed in for homefries).  It's pretty much the perfect way to start off the weekend.


221 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Monday, June 27, 2016

Petite Abeille

I was having a serious craving for mussels last week so we walked over to Petite Abeille, a Belgium bar and restaurant in Stuyvesant Town.  Petite offers three different kinds of mussels; Mussels Marinieres with white wine & garlic, Mussels Basque with roasted peppers & chorizo and Mussel Grand Mere with cream & bacon.   Both Mr. T and I ordered our usual Marinieres but when our food arrived it was quite obvious they had brought us the Grand Mere instead. 

I figured this would be an easy thing to fix so I grabbed our waiter and proceeded to have this conversation:

Me- "I think we received the wrong dish we ordered the Mussels Marinieres."
Waiter- "Yes that's the Mussels Marinieres"
Me- "Ummm...But this has bacon inside"
Waiter- "All of the mussels have bacon or chorizo."
Me-  "But we ordered the white wine mussels"
Waiter- "All of the mussels have white wine"
Me- "But this one has cream inside as well" (pointing to the giant pile of cream covered shells)
Waiter- "That's not cream that's garlic."

Well I was completely stumped after that interaction.  I looked across at Mr. T and he was just shaking his head.  There was obviously no way I was going to win this argument so we both just ate our mussels in creamy bacon beer sauce.  They were damn tasty in all honestly just not exactly what we had planned on eating.

Along with the surprise of creamy bacon mussels all Belgian beers were half price as a Monday night special so that made everything a little better.  

401 East 20th Street at 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Brew Friday- Threes Day of the Dead

For today's New Brew Friday we're checking out Three's Day of the Dead- an American IPA brewed as their first can release.

Day of the Dead pours a muddy orange color with almost no head and an interesting nose of pine, tropical fruits and a touch of mint.  Mango, biscuit and pine flavors balance each other nicely making this just a really enjoyable beer and at only 6.9%.  What a welcome change from all of the big IPA's and DIPA's on the market right now.  This completely hits the mark. Cheers to the weekend!

Threes Brewing
333 Douglass Street at 4th Avenue
New York, NY 11217

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sweetness at Maialino

I love living so close to all of Danny Meyers restaurants.  It's so easy to pop into Gramercy Tavern for a bite at the bar, Blue Smoke for some ribs or over to Maialino for a glass of wine and a delicious dessert. The seasonal Strawberry Rhubarb Sundae was catching my eye on my last visit but the Hazelnut Chocolate Bread Pudding won out in the end (as chocolate usually does).

Rich eggy cake sitting atop a swirl of hazelnut cream and topped with a dollop of Vanilla Bean Marscapone and Praline crunchies.  Bread Pudding perfection.

2 Lexington Avenue at 21st Street
New York, NY 10010