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Showing posts from 2009

Christmas Borscht at Veselka

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Right before Mr. T and I travelled to Westchester for our holiday celebration with his family, I stopped by Veselka to try out their special Christmas Borscht. I grew up enjoying my grandmother’s version every year but I have yet to find one in the city as perfect as hers. Veselka’s regular borscht came the closest in flavor so I was excited to try out this version and see how it compared.

My walk over to Veselka was absolutely freezing! By the time I got inside I was dying for something warm and soothing. I took a seat at the counter and ordered myself a cup.



Within minutes I had a steamy hot cup in my hands. The wonderful aroma of fresh beets and dill was absolutely intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to dive right in.



Look at this beautiful ruby color. This soup was packed with chopped pickled beets and little dumplings filled with dried mushrooms. This was a Christmas Borscht! There was so much flavor going on in the soup- sour, earthy, sweet. If you’re not a big dill fan than stay away b…

Best of 2009

It’s that time of year again when I look back at the past 12 months and all of the places we have eaten at and realize- damn. I eat a LOT of food! Oh well- too late to go back and change anything now!

It was an up and down year for food in NYC. I saw a lot of places I love close down and a lot of great new places spring up to ease the pain. This is my list of the favorite foods I’ve eaten in 2009. Remember! These are not all new places! A couple have been around but this is the first time I had the privilege to enjoy them. Here goes:

Best Bread and Butter- Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Never did I think that bread and butter would even make it to my favorite foods list until Blue Hill completely floored me. Their butter was so creamy, rich and fresh, it tasted as if it had been churned only seconds before.

Best Amuse Bouche- Per Se Beet Cornette and Blue Hill Beet Burger
Honestly I don’t even like beets! But these two amuses changed the way I think about that root vegetable. Both of them had…

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Banana Pudding

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The Union Square holiday market has been up and running for weeks now. It’s always fun to walk through the various stalls and look at all of the scarves, jewelry, etc for sale. I go every year and to be honest, I’ve never actually bought anything there. Well except food that is! This year proved to be no different. I walked around all of the stalls and ended up stopping at just one- Sugar Sweet Sunshine.

We hardly ever seem to be in the LES anymore so it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed their delectable cupcakes, cookies and cake. I was so excited to see them here- only blocks away from my apartment! I eyed the cupcakes in front for a while but then decided on something even better.

What could possibly be better than their wonderful cupcakes? Their banana pudding.



Big pieces of juicy ripe bananas and crunchy sweet Nilla wafers and swirled into a creamy delicious vanilla pudding. It is ridiculously simple, ridiculously sweet and ridiculously good.

There’s only a few days left of…

Breakfast of Champions

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Yes this is my Sunday breakfast. A pint of Bud Light and french fries. Why would someone start their day like this? Football. It's the only answer.



After an extremely snowy and wonderful Saturday my friend and I woke up early and headed to McFadden's to watch our beloved team, the Buffalo Bills. We were in such a Buffalo state of mind what with the piles of snow everywhere and Christmas right around the corner.

McFadden's runs an amazing awesome special during the Bills game- all you can drink Bud Light and all you can eat wings for $20. Pretty good deal right? Unfortunately we were to hungry to wait for the wing arrival so we ordered up some fries to start. The fries were surprisingly tasty. They had just the perfect amount of crunchy skin and salty innards. The Bud Light wasn't too bad either!

McFadden's is by no means a destination food place but if your a Bills fan chances are you've been at least once in your lifetime.

The Bills unfortunately lost but we had …

Bacon Overload!

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I have probably mentioned Blind Tiger about a million times on this blog so far because it is my favorite place for beer in the city. Last weekend we stopped by to have a couple of beers and did something there we had never done before- order food.

We had both gotten up surprising early Saturday morning and it had been hours now since breakfast. We didn’t want a full meal to ruin our dinner so we decided to split a Grilled Cheese sandwich. Mr. T decided to add on Bacon onto the sandwich at the last minute for an additional $1.00.



Our sandwich came out looking and smelling wonderful! The thick crunchy bread had been slathered in butter and grilled to a perfect golden brown. The cheese inside was perfectly melted and the pickle on the side was everything a good pickle should be. But the bacon…

What to say except too much bacon! That $1.00 extra bought us about a half pound of bacon! And not just regular bacon, but Canadian bacon as well. There was so much salty meat stuffed insi…

Pizza Bliss at Motorino

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The Manhattan outpost of Motorino just opened a few months ago in the old Una Pizza Napoletana space. Saturday night after some fireside drinks at Shoolbreds we decided to walk over. We showed up around 7:00 and there was a 15 minute wait. The hostess suggested we get a drink next door and she came and got us when our table was ready. That was really nice. I always feel bad hovering over people while you wait for a table in small little restaurants.

Three of us were dining tonight so we decided to split two appetizers and two pizzas. No we are not pigs- the pizzas are actually pretty small.

I was really excited to see the Montly Cru red on the wine list from Brooklyn Oenology. I bought a couple bottles last time they were at the New Amsterdam Market and they were fantastic. Brooklyn Oenology specializes in New York State wines with original artwork from Brooklyn on their labels. The neatest thing is that their labels peel off so you can keep the art once the bottle is finish…

Hallo Berlin Express

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After we finished our wine and cheese at Casellula we decided to head somewhere closer to our final listening party destination for dinner. Unfortunately we had no idea what was in the immediate neighborhood and we ended up stopping at another bar just to get out of the frigid weather.

We decided to have a drink and research some places in the area before heading out intro the cold again. That’s when I realized we were right next door to Uncle Nick’s! I loved the grilled octopus I had last time I was there so we quickly finished our drinks and went over.

Unfortunately it was not to be. Uncle Nick’s was packed and we were running really short on time at this point. Then we noticed the Hallo Berlin Express across the street. We haven’t really loved the food or service at the regular Hallo Berlin but we were running out of options and it seemed like it would be quick so we went.

The first thing I noticed about Hallo Berlin express was the cheap dank décor of the space. From the bright yello…

Happy Saturday Wine and Cheese Edition

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Mr. T and I were in Hell’s kitchen Thursday night to attend a listening party for friend’s new album. Casellula was only a couple blocks away so we stopped in for some wine and cheese.

I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and the Ricotta Crostini.



The Ricotta Crostini was absolutely delicious. The cheese was drizzled with sweet Orange Blossom Honey and then topped with hazelnuts and a little bit of lemon. How something so simple can be so delicious is beyond me. This was an excellent little appetizer to enjoy with some wine and I plan to recreate this myself at home.



Unfortunately the Crostini was the best part of Casellula for me. I thought the space was cozy but the wines by the glass were incredibly overpriced and the pour we got was definitely a little bit small. I think we'll stick with our downtown favorite Otto for our wine and cheese moments. Hope everyone is having a great Saturday!

Casellulu

Dinner at Brasserie

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My friend from Tarrytown came into the city on Friday and we had a birthday/holiday celebration of sorts. We started out the night with a little Midtown East bar hopping. We began with a drink at the Oyster Bar Saloon, then headed over to the Waldorf’s Bull and Bear and finally ended with a nice Belgian beer from BXL.

All of this beer drinking was just in preparation for the main event-dinner. My friend had a birthday gift certificate from Patina to use so we decided to try out Brasserie.

Walking into Brasserie I was a little taken back by the décor. It was a bit over the top and I kind of felt more like I was on a space ship than a fancy French restaurant. Luckily I had requested a booth when making the reservation so I felt much more in my comfort zone than if I had been at a table in the main area.

Neither of us was feeling like a huge meal so we decided to forgo appetizers and just stick with entrees. We ordered a nice bottle of Pinot Gris and munched on the bread and butter un…

Lunch at Aura

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I was in the city for a training the other day and they gave us an hour for lunch. Unfortunately I was in the restaurant dead zone that is 34th street and 10th avenue. I usually end up eating a sandwich from Subway when I'm in this area but today I was determined to find something more exciting.

I walked over to 9th Avenue and came across Aura Thai. The menu looked pretty good and there were a couple empty tables so I decided to check it out.

The first thing I noticed once seated was the difference in the outside menu and the one they gave me inside. The outside one said each lunch entrée came with a your choice of a free appetizer. The inside menu said it came with the free appetizer of the day. When I found out that appetizer was a Veggie Dumping I was a little annoyed. Half the reason I choose this place was because of the free appetizer choice. A veggie dumpling is not something I would have chosen. However I didn’t feel like arguing with the waitress so I just placed my order a…

Joe's Shanghai

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Okay this meal actually happened a month ago but I’ve been really busy lately and it got lost in the shuffle. Usually I would just skip it but this was one of my 2008 wish list and I finally got there!! Hooray!

Joe’s Shanghai is a little restaurant in Chinatown that is infamous for its’ soup dumplings. So infamous in fact that it has been featured in many travel food shows, Zagats, Frommers etc. The result? A huge ass line out the door every time we try to go.

However, on a Monday last month, after a great Yankees world series win the night before, Mr. T and I decided to take the day off and go to Joe’s Shanghai for lunch. It was about 2:30 on a Monday and it was still packed. We got the last two seats at a round table with a group of three twenty something tourists and an older solo woman diner.

The soup dumplings are so popular here they ask you if you would like to place an order as they hand out the menus. That’s one of the greatest things about most restaurants in Chinatown.…

Black Hound Bakery

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Are you sick of apple pie yet from Thanksgiving? Hope not. This is a picture of an Apple Pie I picked up from Black Hound last week when Mr. T had a hankering for something sweet.



I was intrigued first by the enormous dome top to this mini pie. How in the world did they get it to bake up this high? Then I noticed the description said this was a cookie dough crust with Granny Smith apples.

Whoa! Cookie Dough crust? What a great idea!



So I brought it home and we dug in immediately. As you can see there are a ton of apples stuffed inside this thing. I mean a ton!



Unfortunately it seemed that in the madness of all of the apples they forget to put in some sugary juice. The best part about an apple pie for me is that sweet, sticky, cinnamon sugar sauce that the apples create after baking. Part of me wonders if Blackhound macerated the apples first so there wouldn’t be as much of a gap between the crust and filling.

That method works fine when you remember to add the juices back to the a…

Jacksonville Thanksgiving Recap

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We are Home!!! Back from a great Thanksgiving in Jacksonville where food and family was the focus for the week. We actually had time to spend a whole day in St. Augustine this trip and we spent most of it doing what we like best- eating and drinking.

We began our day with lunch at Opus 39. This restaurant specializes in tasting menus mostly but has quite a reasonable lunch menu. We began with an order of their Potato Spirals.



These are basically super crispy potato chips with some fresh Parmigianna Regianno cheese and luscious truffle oil drizzled on top. They gave us huge portion that was perfect for three people to share.

Since a big focus of this place is their wine I started off with an excellent glass of Chardonnay from Sonoma County.



For my main I ordered the Grilled Shrimp, basil pesto, roasted pepper and goat cheese salad.



This was absolutely delightful! They spread the goat cheese and basil pesto on top of some grilled flatbread that was a perfect side to the enormous shrimp and r…

Happy Thankgiving!!!

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I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving today with friends and family. I'm in Florida celebrating with Mr. T's family and it's already been quite an excellent trip. We had three fantastic meals out in Ponte Vedre and St. Augustine, visited a Chik-fil-a for the first time ever and now it's time for some good home cooking to celebrate Turkey Day.

Here's a picture of our spread. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Rye House

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This past Saturday after a relaxing day walking around the West Village Mr. T and I headed to the new Rye House on 17th street for dinner. It was still pretty early but the bar up front was packed. We got seated at the long communal table in the back where it was relatively quiet.

We ordered up some beers and the waitress brought over a basket of Boiled Peanuts- compliments of the chef.

Okay I’ll be honest. I am a peanut lover but I thought these things were disgusting. I mean why would you boil peanuts? It took all of the flavor and crunch out of the nut and made it sad and smelly. Maybe it’s just me but I would give people something really good to start as a complimentary appetizer.

For our real appetizer we decided to split the Sloppy Joe sliders.



I don’t know about you but neither of us have had sloppy joe’s since high school days. My mom used to make them at least once a month and somehow I forgot about that staple of my diet growing up.



Luckily I am right back on board. Th…

Lunch at The Breslin

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I get out of work on the early side Fridays which is a nice way to start off the weekend for sure. This past Friday I had such a busy day that I never got around to having lunch. Walking out of my building I realized I was absolutely starving! I was in the city for work today so I decided to wander over to the Ace Hotel and have lunch at the newly opened Breslin.

The Breslin is so new that it currently only serves lunch and brunch. Luckily I got there right around 3:30 and snuck in before closing time. For those of you that don’t know The Breslin is owned by Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield, the same people behind The Spotted Pig. These people know their food so I was really excited for a delicious meal.

I walked though the crowded, cramped tables in the front of the restaurant and into the bar room which was much more to my comfort zone. I took a seat at the copper bar right in front of a huge window that was perfect for people watching as I dined.

Since it was Friday, I figure…

A Wonderful Saturday- Just the Two of Us

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It seems so rare lately that Mr. T and I actually have a weekend to ourselves with nothing to do. Something almost always comes up- work, visitors, intense sports watching! But this Saturday we had none of that and instead had a great day just walking around and enjoying our city.

We started the day off by walking up to the newly opened Ace Hotel for some Stumptown Coffee. Walking into the shop I noticed all of the barista’s had handle bar moustaches and a speakeasy style of dress. What’s up with this trend lately? It was kind of neat at first but now I see it everywhere! Anyway- onto the coffee.

I was feeling like a little sugar boost this morning so I ordered the Espresso Con Panna.



For those of you that don’t know Espresso Con Panna is just an espresso with whipped cream on top. Stumptown’s beans taste quite strong and bitter, so the sugary whipped cream was a welcome addition to my morning beverage.

Mr. T began his day with a frothy cappuccino.



Look at the wonderful coffee art on…

Dinner at Agave

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We found ourselves once again in the West Village last weekend starving for some good food but without a reservation. We tried a couple places but all of them had long waits until we stumbled across Agave.

There was quite a long line at the front but we were still able to get a nice two person table in the back. I was surprised to see how nice the back dining room was. The low lighting gave it an elegant feel while the music and paintings lended themselves to a party atmosphere.

To start we both ordered some Margaritas. They were out of the Prickly Pear so I went for the classic Strawberry.



The margarita was great with huge chunks of fresh strawberry puree and just the right amount of tequila. Mr. T got a regular margarita which was a little less sweet but just as tasty.

To start we ordered the Blue Crab Spinach Dip and Tortilla Bowl.



I didn’t really care for this dip. To me it tasted more like a cheesy clam chowder than anything else. But Mr. T liked the option of having soft tort…