Monday, February 21, 2011

Mexico Here We Come!!!

Well folks we're off! Hopefully in about 12 hours Mr. T and I will be arriving in Mexico to beautiful weather and sunny skies. Our friends and family will be joining us on Wednesday and then Friday we get hitched! Hopefully everything goes well.



I know I'm going to have my fair share of drinks throughout the trip and hopefully all the food we picked out will be awesome. I'll try to uplaod at least one picture during the week, whether it be margarita, taco or churro. As long as it's tasty. Hasta luego!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Little Cheese Pub

First of all, doesn’t this name just make you picture a cozy, wooden little nook with fabulous aromas of bubbling, oozy cheeses? It did for me and I wasn’t really that far off. The Little Cheese Pub just opened on the west side of 23rd Street by the owners of Klee Brasserie.



The space is just as its labeled- little. With a squat wooden table up front and 3 long tables in the back with some two seaters on the side. The whole place has a rustic, country side feel that’s incredibly easy to settle into. I mean really- what’s better than lolling around Saturday afternoon enjoying cheese and wine?



The menu had about 15 different cheeses and we decided to try out three to begin. From left to right we have the Casatica di Bufala Lombardy, Grand Cru Gruyere and Gourmino. I honestly liked all of these cheeses but my favorite in the end was the Castica di Bufala. I always love the buffalo milk cheeses. They’re so creamy and satisfying, almost like dessert. I only wish the accompanied spread was something I enjoyed. It was a blend of apples and mustard seeds that really had a weird sour taste to it. I say stick with what works best- figs and honey.



The Little Cheese Pub also has six different kinds of Mac and Cheese. The first one we dabbled in was the Dutch Kaas Mac made with aged Gouda and a beer pretzel topping. I thought this was pretty awesome. The large noodles were more than ample for carrying a nice little bowl of melty Gouda cheese. The beer pretzel topping gave it a fantastic crunch but I wished they had used salted pretzels. A little bit of salt on the top really would have blown this out of the water and amped up the cheesy goodness.



The next Mac and Cheese…well all I can say is this is ridiculous. The French Man Mac combines Morbier Cheese with balsamic onions and duck meatballs. This thing would put the calorie and fat count of KFC'S Double Down to shame.



Look at all that creamy, cheesy duck meatball goodness! This dish was really good at first but quickly became way too rich for me. They used a bit too much balsamic to caramelize the onions and the sweetness just over took the dish. I would recommend trying this one but only with a group. Our group of three didn’t even finish the whole thing and we ordered a single serving.

So the Little Cheese Pub is certainly a nice new addition to the neighborhood. They just got their liquor licence and have begun serving a limited selection of beer and wine. As I said in the beginning it’s certainly a place to get cozy in. My friends left for the MET and I didn’t even want to move. Luckily Mr. T had shown up at that point and he helped motivate me through the rest of the day.

Good thing he did because we had a lot to do. I leave for Mexico three days from now and the wedding is in six! It's officially go time. Gotta start getting into bikini shape- beach time is soon!

Oh Shit. I just ate a pound of cheese and some duck meatball. Maybe I’ll go look for a nice cover up instead…

The Little Cheese Pub

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Financier!

I was so excited that a branch of Financier opened right over on 6th Avenue and 22nd Street. What’s not to love about a place that gives you free little cakes every time you get a drink. It’s like my dream come true!



I swung by the other day and ordered my usual double espresso and took a spot looking out the window to the side. I started to open up myl little almond cake when I realized this cake looked different. This wasn’t a usual financier?



It was chocolate! A chocolate financier with little bits of shaved almond on top! I had never gotten a different flavor before. Am I behind on this? Is it possible their have been different flavors all along and I have just been getting the almond one somehow each and every time I go? I was shocked to say the least. It was a pretty tasty little cake but I have to say I enjoy the original a bit better. Maybe I’m just a creature of habit but the almond cake just goes with their coffee. Well that certainly took me by surprise however. A chocolate financier, what will they think of next.

Financier Patisserie

Monday, February 14, 2011

Solo at Cafe Sabarsky

I bought my father a gift certificate to Café Sabarsky for Christmas last year and he never used it. My parents came to visit NYC and the gift certificate sat at home. Obviously he had forgotten it and unfortunately it had an expiration date. So instead of coming to visit again they sent it back to me to use. Nothing like buying your own birthday present!

So Monday afternoon I realize the certificate is set to expire that day. I had just had a huge food weekend what with Five Points, Millieseme and Gramercy Tavern but I figured what the hell- I’m going anyway. I swear most brides-to-be try to lose 10 pounds before their wedding. I’ve decided to do the exact opposite and put 10 on.



So I went to Sabarsky right after work and got there around 4:45. I knew they closed at 6:00 on Mondays and the place was pretty empty already. I was able to get a table right by the window and I started out with a lovely glass of Gemischter Satz. This is a very crisp white wine with so much minerality and citrus it almost tastes effervescent. An excellent food wine and a perfect match for my entrée the Krabbensalat mit Avocado und Tomaten mit Zitronen-Vinaigrette.



Whoa when this thing arrived all I thought in my head was holy Guacamole! I was expecting some avocado but not a whole one right on top! The crabmeat salad lay underneath and was surrounded by some fresh radish, cucumber, tomato and micro greens.



I was wondering if this dish would be worth the $18 price tag and I would have to say yes. There were large mounds of sweet crab meat all dressed in a creamy lemon vinaigrette that was zesty and refreshing. Usually I don’t enjoy avocado in anything but dips but the texture here was so similar to the fish that it didn’t bother me.



As if that weren’t enough they brought over a bread basket which had about 6 lovely pieces inside. If the crab didn’t warrant the $18 price tag that bread certainly did.

After finishing that entire plate of food and two pieces of bread I was stuffed. I leaned back a little and pulled out the gift certificate and then remembered it was for $50. I still had a lot more money to spend. What’s a girl to do? My parents raised me to never waste anything and so gosh darn it I’m just going to have to suffer through some more fabulous food and drink.



This time I went red with a lovely glass of Wiener Trilogie and a traditional Café Sabarsky dessert the Klimttorte. I’ve had this Hazelnut Cake a few times now and while it’s delicious I don’t truly enjoy it as much as I used to. My tastes have changed and sometimes hazelnut becomes too much for me. I really wish they would bring back the Mozatorte sometime. That was my absolute favorite.

In the end though it really didn’t matter how good the food was. It came down to having a moment of pure and utter relaxation. As I sat there, glass of red wine in hand, listening to Mozart’s symphony playing overhead and staring out onto beautiful Central Park all was quiet and right with the world. I wasn’t thinking about how maddeningly exhausting work has been, how stressful wedding preparations have become or how completely crazy my life just seems in general. For one moment everything just seemed to stop and I was able to truly enjoy every single solitary moment. It was completely therapeutic and for that maybe I did deserve to buy my own present.

Cafe Sabarsky

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Friday Cocktail!

It’s the weekend again! Phew! I need a break for sure. What’s better than unwinding with a delicious cocktail.



I was feeling a little James Bondish the other night, so I swung by the Redhead for a Vesper. They skip the vodka in this classic drink and go straight with Beefeater Gin, white lillet, triple sec and fresh lemon. I loved the addition of lemon juice and triple sec; it really helped take the edge off the gin and made this a delightful little drink. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sunday Lunch at the Tavern

Okay, Okay already! You all know I love the Tavern but I really can’t stop talking about it and I can’t stop going! So I’ll make this one brief. After a fabulous Saturday night Mr. T and I met up with his sister for a nice lunch before she left the city. Kate loves Gramercy Tavern just as much, if not more than me, so it was an easy choice.



We got there right around 12:00 and the place was empty. Kate and I decided we needed a little hair of the dog so I ordered a glass of Franciacorta Rosé Brut. Who doesn’t enjoy some bubbles in the morning!



I was leaning toward the meat for my entrée but instead ordered the Sea Bass with
Swiss Chard, Capers, Pine Nuts and Sweet Onion Sauce. The Sea Bass was beautiful both visually and balance wise. The Swiss Chard was sautéed ever so slightly and gave a nice bitter base for the sweet fish and onion sauce. The pine nuts were like a fun surprise. Each time I got one I loved the nutty crunch they added to the dish. I ate the whole thing in no time flat.



Thank Goodness I didn’t order the Meatball as it turns out. Kate ordered it instead and it tasted a little off. The menu stated the usual- Meatball with Fontina, Potato Purée and Red Wine Onions. However the meat itself tasted incredibly rich and much more gamey than usual. They were running a cheeseburger special that day as well. Mr. T believes they used all the ground meat for that and added extra veal meat to the Meatball. He might be right. It wasn’t horrible but just way to rich for the first meal of the day.

So there you have it. Another meal at the tavern another wonderful start to my day!

Gramercy Tavern

Monday, February 7, 2011

Millesime

My Saturday with the ladies continued after Five Points with champagne and manicures at Eden Spa, cocktails at Cooper Square and the Soho Grand and finally onto dinner at newly opened Millesime in the Carlton Hotel.

I hadn’t been inside since it was the restaurant Country and I have to say I like the redesign. The downstairs lounge is more dark and comfortable while the upstairs restaurant is bright and lively like a traditional French brasserie should be. They even kept the French trend going with these cute salt and pepper shakers.



We got seated right near the raw bar and set out to ordering some drinks. I’ll say this right now. The only part of the meal I was disappointed in was the wine list. I was absolutely shocked. The cheapest bottle on the list was $55 and it rose exponentially from there. For a place that has $18-$20 entrees and bills itself as a casual seafood restaurant I was appalled. One of the things I love about the great restaurants of NYC is finding excellent and affordable wines. Daniel, Del Posto, Gramercy Tavern, Cru (when it was open), I could go on and on, but all of them had something wonderful wines in my price range. This just didn’t fit the restaurant and really made the choice of bottle difficult. But enough on that- it was my bachelorette and we certainly weren’t going to pass. So we ordered a Sancerre and they brought out our first appetizer.



This is the Cesar Grillee with Grilled Romaine, Smoked Black Cod, Parmesan and Lime. Well you all know what a Cesar Salad freak I am and this was just delicious! I loved how the parmesan was a little warm and melty from the grilled greens and the lime juice brought a great acidity to the smoky cod. I could have had this entire plate as my entrée. I loved it that much.



Our other appetizer was the Hamachi Tartare with Lime, Ginger Cream and Shiso. I’ve never been a big ginger fan so I didn’t love that flavor here but the dish overall was tasty. For as much as I hate ginger, I love shiso. I think they balanced each other out in the end. For entrees they have a page of mussels and then about six different grilled fish with a choice of accompanying sauce. Yay! Who doesn’t love a dipping sauce! I ordered the Casco Cod with Lemon Mousseline.



Look at how simply prepared and wonderful this fish looks. I can never cook fresh cod this way- it was so moist and buttery. The lemon mousseline was also the perfect choice. It brought richness to the dish and played up the Parisian theme of the food well. I would order this again in a heartbeat.

For our sides we ordered Gratin of Root Vegetables, Mushrooms Fricassee and Pommes de Terre Mousseline. All of these sides were delicious with the Mushroom Fricassee and Pommes de Terre being my favorite. Probably because both contained a ton of butter, but hey that’s part of the reason I love French cuisine!



Onto espressos and dessert with some adorable Pot de Crème flavored with espresso and caramel. What’s not to love about this meal!!! (Oh yeah-the wine list) Seriously though the food was wonderful.

Another plus was the lounge downstairs playing music The tunes wafted upstairs to the restaurant and it really brought such a fun vibe to the place. I liked it so much we went downstairs for a few after drinks before heading to the Hurricane Club for Coconut cocktails.

Millesime is a great new addition to a neighborhood in need of some clean, grilled fish dishes. If they start to offer more affordable bottles I see this becoming one of my go to dinner places. All in all a fabulous evening!

Millesime

Friday, February 4, 2011

Brunch at Five Points

Saturday Morning I awoke for the best thing ever. Brunch! You all know Mr. T’s feeling on brunch so whenever I have the chance to actually enjoy one I get so excited! Today’s was at Five Points, long been known as a fabulous brunch destination for its food and atmosphere. Walking inside it was evident that it was very popular. There was a line out the door but luckily we had reservations and sat right away.



I started off with a tasty White Peach Bellini but I wish I had ordered this Rosemary Bloody Mary instead. Wow! Huge salt crystals rimmed the glass and the wonderful smell of rosemary filled the air when you tipped the spicy drink back. It was a seriously tasty Bloodie.



The one thing they offer here that excited me more than anything were churros! I love churros and they are so hard to find in this city! So our very first brunch dish were the Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate. These were so freaking fantastic. The churros were still warm, having been pulled from the oil only moments before and super light. The cinnamon sugar exterior had a fabulous crunch while the interior was slightly undercooked and doughy, just the way I like my churros. They were perfect on their own but the thick Mexican hot chocolate was icing on the cake! I wish we had gotten 2 or 3 orders honestly!

For our main dishes we all had a lot of trouble ordering- everything on the menu sounded fabulous. In the end we spilt right down the middle, two of us got the Baked Egg Whites with Spinach, Yukon Potatoes, Grana Cheese and Di Palo’s Smoked Mozzarella while the other two ordered the Eggs Rancheros with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, Corn Tortillas, Vermont Aged Cheddar.



I have to say I think we were all slightly disappointed in our mains. My Egg White dish came and looked fabulous but it didn’t have to ton of flavor. I was expecting a lot of smokiness from the cheese but unfortunately the Yukon Potatoes really dominated this dish. I enjoy a lot of flavor in the morning and all I really got was boiled potato. It needed a little something extra.

The other girls thought the Eggs Rancheros were lacking some flavor as well. It truly was just eggs, salsa and chips. I little black bean or avocado might have amped it up a bit. So overall the food was good but needed something a little extra. Or maybe we just ordered wrong. Some of the other dishes sounded so good and the churros were so fabulous I would still go back in a heartbeat.

Five Points

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Restaurant Week Lunch at Riverpark

I woke up bright and early Thursday morning to find an enormous blanket of snow outside and all city schools closed. Since my work closes when schools close- I had a snow day! To be honest I was pretty angry at first- I have a ton of stuff going on right now and really wanted to get it finished. However it was out of my hands- fate had another plan for me that day and once I remembered it was Restaurant Week, my anger diminished completely.



I started my day with a nice walk through Madison Square Park that was looking absolutely beautiful from the storm. I love when snow covers the city. Everything turns so quiet and lovely. I contemplated making a snow man but decided I wasn’t quite dressed for such a task and walked over to Eataly instead.

Walking inside Eataly was a totally different experience since the snowfall as well. Instead of the lively hustle and bustle that usually greets me, I entered a clam, warming sanctuary. There were maybe 5 people inside the whole place and everyone was quietly sipping espresso and gazing at the scene outside. It was the most relaxing moment I’ve ever experienced there thus far.



After some serious shopping at the Limelight Marketplace and down 5th avenue I made my way over to the East Side and popped in for a beer at Waterfront Ale House. Here’s where I met up with my teacher friend Sean who was looking to enjoy our snow day off as well. We had a quick beer and then walked over to our RW reservation at Riverpark.

Riverpark is Tom Colicchio’s newest restaurant located in a work plaza space on the East River. The layout is definitely strange. The restaurant is inside an office building where the bathrooms aren't really even connected to the space. It felt a little sterile but luckily the restaurant itself was quite beautiful. Big glass windows surround the outside giving long views of the river which will be gorgeous in the summer months. We got seated right at the corner table and I have to say we had the best view in the house.



I started out with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc and Sean had a Founders IPA. I have to say the drink list was quite refreshing. All of the wines by the glass were reasonably priced and the draft beer list, while small, had a lot of good finds all for $5. I was also impressed by their RW menu. There were about 7 choices for both appetizer and entrée and everything looked tasty. I was torn between the Burger and the Lamb while Sean was torn between the Fried Chicken sandwich and the Skate. Decisions, Decisions!



They started each of us with a toasty warm mini baguette that had a welcome sprinkling of salt on top and even more little crystals on the butter. I actually loved this piece of bread. It was had a terrific crust and the butter was room temperature which made spreading a breeze.

For my appetizer I went for one of my favorites the Cesar Salad.



This was a winner! The romaine leaves were nicely tossed in a super creamy dressing and cut with some enormous chunks of parmesan cheese and white anchovies. The thing I loved the most about this salad were the crouton crumbles. I’ve never liked croutons, something about the big crunchy bites bother me, but here I finally fell in love. There were no coarse squares, just crumbled up bread. They just gave the salad a little more depth and really livened up the dish. This was the best Cesar Salad I’ve had in years! I liked it so much that I took some home in a doggie bag. Ridiculous for an appetizer, I know but it was awesome later!



Sean went for the Butternut Squash- Apple Soup. I didn’t try any but he polished the bowl clean and it looked very pretty with its deep hues of orange and red. For my main course I ordered the Grilled leg of Lamb with yogurt, smoked chickpea, cucumber-olive salad.



My lamb was wonderfully cooked. I’ve been disappointed many times by an overcooked leg but this was spot on. The yogurt and chickpea salad gave it a very Middle Eastern flair with a nice spicy kick from the sauce underneath.



Sean ordered the Skate for his entrée. I thought it was tasty but it could have had a little more seasoning. The skate also lacked any crispness to the edges which I love. I think a little more char and some brown butter sauce could have elevated this dish to another level.



Onto dessert! Molten Chocolate Cake with salted caramel, espresso ice cream. Good lord this dish was fabulous! I’ve been done with the Molten Cakes for a while now but the salted caramel oozing out of this warm fudgy cake was intense! It reminded me of the Chocolate Cake from Daniel that blew me away. Each component just worked perfect. Chocolate, caramel, espresso and a fantastic peanut brittle like square- this dish was worth every single calorie.



Sean had the Beignets which came out looking fabulous. Light, fluffy with just a dusting of sugar, I thought these were pretty good albeit a little boring.



They came with a side of vanilla custard and some sort of fruit compote but neither sauce really brought anything to the dish. It wasn’t a bad dessert by any means but it could have been better.

Overall Sean and I truly enjoyed our meal at Riverpark. I believe if we had ordered the cheeseburger and fried chicken sandwich we had been oogling we would have liked it even more but it was a fantastic meal. In the end with two drinks each and espresso the bill was about $80. Not too bad for a fancy lunch!

I actually had been promised free Prosecco’s and dessert because they had cancelled a previous reservation on me but they never came. I wonder if the snow day made things a little crazy there. Oh well we had a fabulous meal as it was and a free day off of work as well! Can’t complain about that!

Riverpark