Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I love this time of year and luckily the snow in the city is all gone (that was crazy btw) and the crisp fall air is back. Time for some Halloween goods! I treated myself to a wonderful treat the signature Burdick at L.A. Burdick yesterday.

Alternating layers of almond mousse and rum ganache made for a delicious dessert. The different textures were so satisfying, chewy here, smooth there. The slice was tiny but after a few bites of the rich almond paste I knew it was sized perfectly. Add on a double macchiato and I had a perfect little Halloween treat. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Das Oktoberfest- Year Two

Saturday we returned to the annual Das Oktoberfest event at the La Venue space. They had 150 kinds of beer, schnapps and wine to choose from over the 5 hour period and food to buy on the side. I was psyched when I saw Schnitzel and Things had a table. I would finally get to try out their food!

I know I probably should have gone for a schnitzel but the brat smelled so delicious I had to go for that. I don’t know how delicious the schnitzels are but my heart was pretty sold on the brat. It had a great deep smoky flavor and came with some seriously sour pickled slaw and a nice squishy bun. The fries were excellent as well with a just the right amount of salt and crunch.

I started out with some Goose Island and Spatan, two of my favs, and then noticed something called the Bronx Brewery set up in the front. I tried a sample and was really blown away by the rich amber tone and bold but smooth flavors of caramel and toasted nuts.

I also loved their sign and slogan. So much so that I went over and met the owner and brewer to talk about the beer.

Damian explained they had only been open since August and this was one of their first events. All of us in our group of ten absolutely loved his beer so be on the lookout for it in bars throughout the city.

The Bronx Brewery

Das Oktoberfest

Schnitzel and Things

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fabulous Fridays

Truth be told Sunday is my favorite day of the week but who doesn’t love a Friday as well? Fridays are great for me since I usually get out of work early and have some city time alone before the rush of the weekend crowd sets in. Last Friday I walked home across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Chinatown and into the East Village where my first stop was Abarco for a warm macchiato.

Then I hopped on over to Good Beer where I enjoyed a delicious Joan of Arc cider while I perused the shelves of beer for weekend imbibing.

After getting fully stocked I lugged my haul over to Momofuku Milk Bar and picked up some more weekend treats- birthday cake truffles.

And finally I ended up near home at the Madison Square Eats for their final night. Mr. T joined me and we enjoyed a hearty Imperial Black Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company.

Then shared an awesome, creamy Brussels Sprout pizza that seriously rivaled Motorino’s version. Then we retired home for a nice scary movie to get into the Halloween spirit. What a perfect Friday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Toast to the East Coast

Last week I was invited to a special press event hosted by Bread and Butter PR and The Kitchen Table. When Mr. T and I escaped from the horrible rain and wind outside to the calm, serene downstairs space we were greeted warmly and handed a glass of wine. We walked into the main room with the food and our first stop was at Early Bird Food & Co.

This little shop in Brooklyn Specializes in small batch organic granola and here it was showcased on top an open-faced peanut butter sandwich. What is it about a peanut butter sandwiches that makes you feel so good? Every time I have one I question why I don't eat them more often. The granola was delicious on top with nice clean pieces of nuts and oats.

Next it was over to another Brooklyn specialty- some delicious cured meats and pate from Brooklyn Larder.

Then onto more Brooklyn delights with Whole Cow's Milk Ricotta cheese from Salvatore Bklyn.

I've been eating a lot of ricotta from Eataly lately but this stuff was completely different. It was much thicker and had a more robust and bold flavor. Seriously rich and seriously delicious.

And finally some three tier trays of goodness from Magnolia Bakery. They had mini cupcakes of all kinds, their amazingly creamy banana pudding and some surprisingly fudgey chocolate brownie.

Besides some delicious wine they were also pouring beer from the Bruery out of Orange Lake, CA. The Saison Rue was a malty yet citrusy Belgian style farmhouse ale that had a ton of flavor but remained remarkably drinkable. We chatted with the woman representing The Bruery for a bit and heard they have another tasting coming up at Bierkraft next month. We might just have to check that out.

The night ended with a fun goodie bag of tasty treats for each person. It was a nice relaxing event which really displayed some delicious food and drink. I think they were expecting a bigger turnout because a lot of goodie bags were still sitting when we left. Unfortunately the stormy weather outside must have deterred some people from showing up. Which is too bad because everyone was incredibly friendly and it really was a nice spread. The space was so warm and inviting I would definently think about this for another food event.

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Changes at Tacombi

It had been months since I last enjoyed tacos from my favorite little VW bus in Nolita. I stopped by the other day and there were certainly some changes afloat. First change- alcohol!

Tacombi now serves beer, wine and sangria. The watermelon and lime sangria sounded delicious so I had to try one of those. It was tasty but I was hoping for a stronger flavor. It was a little on the watery side. Next time I’ll be getting the Spiked Horchata instead.

They still make amazing Crispy Fish Tacos with spicy mayo and slaw.

And a damn fine breakfast taco of tomato, pepper, onion and avocado.

But now they have two kinds of shrimp tacos, ceviche, tamales and a beef short rib taco that sounds amazing! They also switched up the stations so there is only one place to order and one to pick you. No more tickets! This made the line seem a bit long but everything really worked much more efficiently. Sometimes change is good and it certainly is at Tacombi.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apertivo with the Winemaker- Gavi Wines at Eataly

I just happened to be checking out the Eataly website the other day and noticed a special wine class for only $20. It was scheduled for a Friday evening and I figured that would be the perfect way to start my weekend. I go to Eataly almost every day and I’ve never noticed the little wine room in the back.

It only has enough room for about 20 people and I loved how small and intimate it was.

They had it set up really nice with some information about the wines and a free bag to take home as a gift.

The tasting itself was all Gavi wines and it was interesting to try four side by side.

They even gave a nice meat and cheese plate with some of Eataly’s best from the dairy. This was such a great and affordable tasting I jumped on their website the next day and noticed a free Spirit tasting!

This one was amazing as well with various Grappas and cocktails. They gave out a bunch of free stuff and even concluded with some free gelato. How can you beat Eataly! This place continues to amaze me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lunch at Gramercy Tavern

You would think we would relax a bit after our eating and drinking madness of a vacation in Europe but it was right back to craziness as soon as we got home. We both took Monday off to rest but then a concert Tuesday night, another one on Thursday and a weekend visit from Mr. T’s sister put us right back in the thick of things. Luckily she loves Gramercy Tavern just as much, if not more than I do so it was an easy choice for a Monday lunch. We took two seats at the bar and ordered something we’ve never tried before- their special burger.

They use dry aged beef for this burger and you can really taste the difference in the meat. It had so much flavor and was incredibly moist. But the meat wasn’t even the best part honestly- it was the cheese.

This Clothbound Cabot Cheddar Cheese was downright addictive. It had a thick, slightly salty tang that was just wonderful. Kate and I both keep putting the burger down about halfway through since we were getting full but that cheese kept calling us back. Yeah we both finished our burgers- no need to be ladylike with an awesome burger like this.

It came with a variety of house made sauces including a spicy ketchup and a smoky mayonnaise. Usually I’m all over fancy sauces but this burger was so good there was no need to add anything else. I think this may be one of my favorite burgers of all time! Why it hasn’t gotten more press is beyond me.

And let’s not forget to talk about dessert! I was so excited to see the Blueberry Corn Sundae on the tavern menu- sweet corn ice cream, fresh blueberry preserves, toffee popcorn and a pepper whipped cream! This was absolutely amazing. I really can’t describe how good it was there were so many textures and flavors going on. It’s really something you must try out for yourself. Do it- you’ll thank me later.

Gramercy Tavern

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Last Day in Paris

I woke up Saturday morning and had one thing on my mind- more treats! It was our last full day in Paris and I knew one last stop to Pierre Herme was in order.

This time I went for the 2000 Feuilles which is a masterpiece in and of itself. Look at the flaky layers of pastry alternating between different kinds of creamy praline mousse with a crispy caramelized praline top.

And of course I had to go back for some more macarons.

My favorite of this bunch was easily the Olive Oil & Vanilla. The flavor was so smooth and light. I was honestly sad I didn’t buy a whole box of just this flavor alone. Luckily I enjoyed the CafĂ©, Mogador and Pistachio as well. The only one I didn’t really care for was the chocolate which was too bitter and intense for my tastes.

After my breakfast treats we walked over to Notre Dame and around that area. Then we decided we’d had enough of touring. After 10 days of constant walking and eating we decided to cut out the walking and have some drinks! So we hit up a couple bars in our neighborhood and ended up having dinner right by our hotel at Les Editeurs.

The downstairs was packed so we were lead upstairs where it was much more quite and serene. One bottle of red wine to start and one last Steak Frite for us both.

Although this wasn’t as delicious as our Steak from L’Entrecote, it was still very good. The meat had a nice char on the outside and the side of BĂ©arnaise was incredible.

The pillowy soft frites were pretty good as well. I don't think Les Editeurs would be on my list if we return but both of us were happy with our only unplanned meal in Paris.

After dinner we went across the street to the Horse’s Tavern and sat outside enjoying some Leffe Brun’s. This is one of our favorite beers no longer exported to the USA so it was quite a treat! It had been a fabulous trip and tomorrow it would be back to reality in NYC. Until we return au revoir Paris!

Pierre Herme

Les Editeurs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Day Four- Cuisine de Bar and Les Fines Gueules

First off I'd like to thank Kathy over at A Passion For Food and Serious Eats Sugar Rushed once again for sending me her recommendations. Between her list and blog we had a lot of great food we might not have found otherwise. So much so that almost our entire Friday was due to her recommendations. So here's to our Kathy day!

Instead of regular croissants this morning I thought we'd try out Poilane's restaurant Cuisine de Bar. Right next door to the bakery, this tiny spot has a 13€ lunch special which includes a glass of wine or bottle of water, salad, tartine and espresso to finish. I continued my Rose kick while Mr. T went the water route which was perfect since the bottle was so big we ended up sharing it.

The salad to begin was tasty. It came with a strong mustard dressing which was a little overwhelming but honestly after two days of Foie Gras a little bowl of greens was much appreciated.

I ordered the Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Tartine while Mr. T had the Smoked Salmon. Mine was just perfect with simple, straight forward ingredients of the highest quality on top of Poilane's delicious grilled bread and a little bit of spicy olive oil to finish it off.

A few espressos alongside Poilane's delicious shortbread spoon cookie (how cute is that!) and we were ready to begin our day. What a great lunch! Why there aren't more places like this in America I have no idea. By the time we left there was a line of about 10 people waiting outside so it looks like we sat down just in time. This was a great place to get a meal before our big afternoon.

I won't get into too many un-food related details but we did BOTH the Pere Lachaise Cemetery and the Louvre that day which is quite a feat. Jim Morrison's grave and the Mona Lisa were the highlights of course. We even threw in a quick drink in between at the Lizard Cafe (quite appropriate after visiting Jim). Then it was time for dinner at Les Fines Gueules.

We had a reservation for 8:00 and arrived just in time to get the last table outside. After a quick look at the daily chalkboard menu we put in our order and relaxed with a nice bottle of red wine.

We had been on our feet for almost eight hours of non-stop walking so sitting outside with the warm breeze and a little wine seemed like heaven. Our first dish was a little slice of heaven too- a Duo of Buffalo Mozzarella and Burrata Cheese with Prosciutto.

We love our meat and cheese and this Burrata was absolutely just oozing with beautiful cream. I loved the slivered almonds on top that gave each bite a satisfying little crunch. Can you believe I haven't had a Tartare yet on this trip? Neither can I- but finally it was time.

Just looking at Les Fines Gueules version you can see it's very different than what I've been eating at home. They kept the meat chunky with a strong dollop of sun dried tomato on top. I really, really enjoyed this version. I could taste the richness of the meat and it was stronger, almost manly, compared to what I've had in the past. The salty potatoes were a nice accompaniment but I was a little sad there weren't some frites instead.

Mr. T ordered the Pork Chop and to say this thing was big would be an understatement. It reminded me of something the Flintstones would eat and the flavor was just as huge with big notes of thyme and mushroom. See all that au jus at the bottom? This pork stayed incredibly moist the whole way through. Quite possibly the best pork chop I've ever had. Really amazing.

For dessert I immediately went for the Cafe Gourmand which is basically a plate of mini desserts. Here it included a creme brulee, chocolate pudding, pound cake and espresso. What girl wouldn't like this? Les Fines Gueules was absolutely delicious. We happily paid, had a quick drink near our hotel and went off for some much needed sleep. This was another great day of food. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Paris- how quick it seemed to go by!

Cuisine de Bar

Les Fines Gueules

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Even if you don’t know much about the new French dining scene you’ve probably heard of Frenchie. This tiny little restaurant has gotten quite the press and following for its fabulous food and reasonable prices. So much press that it’s a two month in advance reservation. Luckily I planned it to the date and got a reservation for the first seating.

The tiny little restaurant is very cozy and inviting. We got a fabulous seat right at the window and started with a nice crisp bottle of Sancerre.

Frenchie just opened up a little wine bar across the way a few months ago and we had the perfect view of the lively crowd. We each decided to order the 38 € menu option and added the Foie Gras to share. This was probably the best decision of the night.

The presentation of the foie gras was just lovely but the flavor was down right amazing. Pickled rhubarb and strawberries cut right through the fat of the foie gras and brought out a lighter, earthy flavor I’ve never experienced before. If you told me yesterday something would beat Bigarrade’s version I would have thought you were crazy. While this was a totally different take on the dish I thoroughly enjoyed the flavors and creaminess to a whole new level. This was the best foie gras of my life for sure! Eating this two days in a row is certainly unhealthy but if I lived in Paris I would be hard pressed to pass this up.

For our appetizers Mr T ordered the Parpadelle and I ordered the Trout. I laughed when we place our orders because this is exactly what each of us have at our neighbohood favorite Gramercy Tavern.

Mr. T’s Chestnut Parpadelle with Lamb Ragu was good- rich with a combination of flavors from the olives and seasoning on top. I enjoyed the sauce but thought Gramercy Tavern’s version is better.

My Smoked Trout with Pickled Onion Vingarette on the other hand, blew GT’s out of the water. It looked very similar but the trout itself had this depth of smokiness that was unparalleled. It was powerful in flavor but perfectly balanced.

For mains we both ordered the Veal with Mushrooms and Figs. Just looking back at this picture I feel like I can still taste the perfectly cooked, tender meat with a little bit of sweet from the fig with a lovely and intoxicating sauce that was thick, almost like a gravy.

For dessert Mr. T ordered the Panacotta with Avocado and Chocolate. A very odd array of flavors that didn’t exactly work for me but completely did for him.

I had the Lemon Tart with Passion Fruit and Salty Caramel Butter. Um yeah…what’s not to love about this dessert! The filling was so citrusy it gave my mouth a happy pucker and the buttery crust and awesome crackling top mellowed it all out. It was fabulous!

Overall Frenchie was wonderful. The food was great (especially the foie), the service was exceptional and I loved the space. I feel like if I lived in Paris Frenchie would be a place to return to often with out-of-town guests and friends. Which is exactly what Gramercy Tavern is for us here in the NYC.

I know I keep on bringing up Gramercy tavern but the two really had the same feel right from the get go. They were so similar...maybe a tad to similar. The whole meal the presentation of the appetizers had been nagging me. When we got home I looked back at my last pictures from Gramercy Tavern and compared.

Gramercy Parpadelle

Gramercy Trout

The components and presentation of both dishes are almost identical. I know Chef Gregory Marchand did a year and a half stint at Gramercy Tavern years ago before opening up Frenchie. Maybe the dishes were conceived there and shared between the two now? Mr. T claimed an international food conspiracy (he had also had a lot of wine). Who knows- certainly a little odd I thought. Whatever the case may be Frenchie truly is a gem of a restaurant and the night couldn't have ended better.