Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Best of 2011 List


What a crazy year 2011 has been! There has been so much good food, wine and fun going on it’s been a little out of control. Here’s a look back on the year and some of my favorite food and drink highlights.

Best New Opening- Maison Laduree
There are no better macarons in the city than these little guys. Thank goodness they opened up otherwise I would be ordering boxes from Paris.



Maison Laduree Review

Best Burger- Gramercy Tavern
I really can’t get over how delicious this burger was. The dry aged beef was perfect and that Clothbound Cheddar Cheese just sealed the deal.


Best Dessert- Gramercy Tavern
Sweet corn ice cream, fresh blueberry preserves, toffee popcorn and a pepper whipped cream. This seasonal Blueberry Corn Sundae is amazing. Mark your calendars for autumn to see if it makes a return.


Best Croissant- Bien Cuit
Remember this thing? I compared it to crack (If I knew what crack was like) It was that freaking good.


 Bien Cuit Review

Best Happy Hour- Lani Kai
Hawaiian Iced Teas and Bermuda Triangle cocktails in a tiki lounge. What could be better? Oh right- $3 BBQ Short Rib sliders. Bam!


Lani Kai Review

Mr. T’s New Favorite- Cocoron Soba
Mr. T literally sits at home and makes hand gestures like he’s eating this bowl of noodles with chopsticks constantly. It’s driving me insane but their Stamina Dip Soba is pretty amazing.



Best Lunch- ABC Kitchen
ABC Kitchen has really hit its stride and the fresh organic ingredients and inventive flavors make each meal an experience. The 3 course $28 lunch deal is a steal especially with the decadent ice cream sundae at the end.


Best Restaurant Week Meal- Union Square Café
It definitely had some ups and downs but if I combined Sean’s appetizer and dessert with my main course it would have been unbeatable.


Union Square Cafe RW Review 

Runner Up- Quality Meats
This pretty much started my obsession with Steak Tartare. Everything about the place was awesome and it ended with coffee and doughnut ice cream. I mean really-how good is that!


Quality Meats RW Review

Best Surprise Meal- Millers Tavern
This little place in Williamsburg completely shocked us with fabulous Oysters, a great Smoked Gouda Burger and a decadent Rabbit Ragu.

Best Meal Overall- La Bigarrade (Paris)

What can I say- it was three hours of pure bliss. Each course was exciting, inventive and wonderful. The service and atmosphere were simply perfect.





Runner Up- The Bull and Last (London)
From the cozy atmosphere and comforting Sunday Roast to the utterly amazing Chacuterie Plate. If I ever move to London I will be sure to have this place in my neighborhood.




Best of the Rest 2011

Cesar Salad at Milliseme
Grande Piatto Misto di Salumi & Formaggi at Eataly
Washugyu Tataki with Potato Salad at Ippudo
Scallion Pancake with Beef at Nan Xiang
Bronx Brewery Bronx Ale
Gianduja Budino at Osteria Morini

Cheers!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is it Friday Yet?

No it's not. It's only Wednesday but it seems like the longest week in the world for some reason because it's holiday time and your working.  If that's the case (as it is for me) you need a break.  A delicious frothy winter beer kind of break.


Lucky for you Rattle N Hum still has all its kegs of beer left from last night's Winter Fest event.  I enjoyed a smooth chocolaty old ale the Haandbryggeriet Nissefar (don't pronounce- just point).


Look at all these great beers- you have your excuse to go out and enjoy one.  And if your not working then you should be enjoying them even more! 

Look out for my Best of 2011 Eats and Drinks list that comes out tomorrow.  Cheers!

Rattle N Hum

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!


Christmas cake and message provided by my father.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Primehouse Brunch


I love going to brunch but getting Mr. T out of the house before nightfall is a challenge.  That being the case we usually do a brunch near our apartment and lately it’s been at Primehouse.

The Wild Mushroom Omelette gets a nice salty kick from melted leeks and a creamy goat cheese.



 While the “Plain Old Breakfast Sandwich” is absolutely enormous and much better than any old breakfast sandwich from the corner deli that’s for sure.

The only thing that I didn’t enjoy were the Truffle Asiagao Fries.  




The fries were crispy enough but the truffle oil gave them a fake, chemical taste.  Next time I’m skipping the fries and trying out the Duck Fat Hash Browns instead.  Mmmmmm duck fat…

Primehouse NYC


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Edi and The Wolf


I’ve been meaning to try out this place since it opened a year ago and finally got a chance this past weekend.  This little restaurant is tucked away on Avenue C right across from the raucous and rowdy Zum Schneider.  Inside it’s warm and cozy with long wooden tables and lots of rustic charm.  They also are one of the few places that have Landjager.


This cured Austrian Sausage is delicious on its own or dipped into a little bit of sweet mustard.  We started with an order of that and an order of Pork Belly.


I was surprised to see the belly cut up like bacon instead of in fat chunks.  I actually didn’t love the pork belly.  The thin cut made it seem extra fatty and I couldn’t really get that deep porky flavor I usually do.  However I did love their Spatzle.


This was so incredibly creamy and had a nice earthy flavor from the addition of mushrooms and brussels sprouts.  And let’s talk about brussels sprouts.



 We got a big old bowl and they were absolutely fabulous.  I could have had this entire bowl as my main course they were that good.  However I decided to be nice and let everyone have some while I enjoyed my Veal Schnitzel.



I’m not a huge Schnitzel fan but this was really well done.  The breading was just light enough and the ligonberry sauce was perfect addition to the meat.

Overall I really liked the food at Edi and the Wolf.  Everything seemed made with care and the Austrian beers made it that much better.  However the service was a little slow and the prices aren’t cheap so be prepared to spend a little.  But the atmosphere really can’t be beat.  Check out their bathroom- it’s simply beautiful!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Feast at Cannibal


You may remember me talking about Cannibal a while back, the new offshoot of Resto that specializes in good beer and tartares.  I’ve been a few times now and although I continue to have a love/hate feeling towards Resto (currently in the hate side) I have a total love side for Cannibal- here’s why.  Number one- bar snacks.


 

Whole nuts still inside the shell sit on the bar with a cracker just waiting to be used.  This bowl immediately brought me back to my youth when we would visit my great Aunt during the holidays. She always had a big bowl of almonds just like this and it was so satisfying to crack each one open.  Number two- the Tartares.




This is the Lamb Tartare and they blend the meat with shallots, capers and a little harissa aioli which made it utterly freaking delicious.  Number three- the extensive beer list.



Okay so I went for an extra dry cider to begin with but finished up with one of my favorite bottles of Allagash Black.  The variety of beers here is amazing and I love that it’s so close to home I can just swing by and pick up a couple bottles whenever I want to.  Although I don’t need more than three reasons let’s just end it with some jerky.

 

Some deliciously smoky beef jerky.  Does it get much better than this?  Oh yeah and I got to watch football on their big TV the entire time I was eating.  Now it can’t get any better than that.
  


Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Drinks!


We’ve done the Rockefeller Center guide but what about some good old fashioned holiday cocktails! First up the classic Egg Nog at Maialino.



This delicious frothy drink is a little lighter than most versions and gets a nice dose of nutmeg and cinnamon. Truth be told this picture is from me enjoying last years- hopefully they’ll put it back on the menu soon! Looking for something a little lighter on the waistline? Try Northern Spy in the East Village.


This cozy little place specializes in aperitif-driven cocktails- which basically means tasty drinks with a little less alcohol than most cocktails. Usually made from a sherry base or Lillet blanc, Chris Ronis’s creations allow you to enjoy the festive flavors of the year without waking up with that holiday hangover! How about their Salvadoran Fence made from Jalapeño infused Lillet blanc, Punt e Mes, watermelon, basil, lime and Asgoatura bitters.



However a little something stronger may be needed when dealing with all the family and their cute little quirks and Haru has you covered in that department. Yes- Haru the sushi place that makes my beloved Komodo Dagon is also doing holiday drinks this year! Pictured above is their Emperor's Delight made with sake, cranberry juice and triple sec and below is a recipe for their Pumpkin Pie Martini.

Or you could just join the other hundreds of people crowded into Rolf’s tiny bar to stare at their amazing ornament and light decorations while drinking ridiculously overpriced $14 beers…(sigh) yes I’ll be there at some point as well.


The Pumpkin Pie

1.5 oz Absolut Pear Vodka
1.0 oz Fresh Pumpkin Puree
0.3 oz Cointreau
0.2 oz Simple Syrup
0.1 oz Bitters

Combine all contents over ice and shake thoroughly. Pour into a Cosmos glass and serve straight up. Garnish glass with Nutmeg and Cinnamon.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Day of Holiday Fun

I took the day off on Monday to do my annual Christmas day with myself. It’s always too crowded after work and on weekends to get near the tree and windows so a weekday off is necessary. But first I needed some food and once again a delicious tartare was calling my name. Since I was already planning to do a little holiday shopping in Columbus Circle, Porter House seemed like the perfect place.



My Filet Mignon Tartare arrived and the first thing I noticed was the absence of an egg on top. Surprisingly I didn’t miss it. The meat held together just fine with some mustard and oil. There was some chopped onion inside and some capers and condiments on the side for mixing.

 
When it first arrived the meat looked almost cooked on top but as you can see it’s a luscious red inside. This was absolutely wonderful-probably in my top three of all time. It was a classic preparation done well. A smidge less olive oil and it could have been perfection.  My lovely glass of Pinot Noir was a perfect match and I was completely content with my delicious lunch.




On a side note Porter House did many things very well including room temperature butter, wonderful service and great views. However the clientele was very strange. If you could slice the restaurant down the middle I think it would be 50% business men and 50% families with children. I literally saw a business deal being made with a baby howling in the background. Maybe it’s the holiday season? 

After my meal I spent about 2-3 hours perusing the holiday windows, the tree and shopping until finally a little pick me up called. Luckily I stumbled upon Michel Cluizel.  I ordered a macchiato and was a little shocked at the $5.00 price tag but luckily it came with a piece of his famous chocolate on the side.



However next time the Parisian breakfast would be the way to go.



I capped off my holiday tour back near home with a glass of wine at Union Square Café’s beautiful bar. It was decorated for the holidays and they had some great jazz music playing in the background.



A warm bowl of their famous rosemary dusted bar nuts was a perfect end to a perfect day.  I may have to make USC a part of my annual tradition.

Porter House NY

Union Square Cafe

Chocolat Michel Cluizel

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another Mexican Brunch at Dos Caminos

I absolutely love Mexican style breakfasts. When I think back on my wedding in Mexico the delicious food each morning is almost always the first thing that pops into my mind (oh and my husband:) So having Dos Caminos right by my apartment is pretty awesome for weekend brunch.



A complementary cocktail is included but skip the usual Bloody Mary or Mimosa and try out their Prickly Pear Margarita instead. It’s seriously delicious and quite eye catching as well. I’m a creature of habit and always order the same thing here- the Machacado Breakfast tacos.



Steak, eggs, cheese and salsa all inside a crispy tortilla shell. It’s a little spicy and has a ton of flavor. If this can’t help you after a few too many beers the night before I don’t know what will.




My friend ordered the breakfast quesadilla which didn’t fare quite as well. The tortilla was really disproportionate with lots of cheese in one segment and bacon in another. It was still a decent breakfast but not as delicious as my tacos for sure.



If you remember I’ve written about Dos Caminos for brunch before and almost swore it off because of serious service issues. I’ve learned that by sitting at the bar my food comes immediately and I haven’t had to deal with any problems ever since. So if you want to swing by I highly recommend that route to ensure a good meal.

Dos Caminos

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chikalicious Dessert Club

Chikalicious is one of these awesome spots that somehow always falls under my radar. I was literally walking right past the other day and almost missed it! Luckily the smell of hot chocolate and baked goods lured me inside.



I almost always get one of their amazing cupcakes but this time I wanted something different. Some Petits Fours perhaps? I decided upon the Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Profiterole Tart.



The Strawberry Shortcake was okay- maybe a little on the dry side but the Caramel Profiterole was awesome. The top had bites of crackly sugar like a cream brulee top and the caramel creme was just right. However at $2 each these are pretty expensive for what you get. Although I really enjoyed the Profiterole I would save my money next time for the Cupcakes.



Or possibly the cookies. They had one called The Situation that has salty pretzel bits, toffee popcorn and peanut butter chips. That's some kind of situation I could handle!

Dessert Club Chikalicious

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flights a Fancy

My good friend was visiting last weekend and we decided to check out a many different beers as we could on a mini beer crawl. The best way to do that is with some beer flights! We started out at one of my favorite places The Gingerman for our first.



From left to right we had the Kona Wheat, Rouge Rastafari Rye, Dogfish Head Hellhound Ale and Captain Lawrence Pumpkin Ale. It was my first time having this Captain Lawrence and I really enjoyed the clean pumpkin flavors and toasty bread aroma. Price for this flight- $12.00.



Onto Rattle and Hum for our next flight of beer we had the Founders Breakfast Stout, Mikkeller Jackie Brown, Kissmeyer Saison Du Fleur, Anderson Valley Bootlinger Weisse. Price for this flight- $10.00.



Last but certainly not least onto Good Beer for one final flight. Here we have a Sierra Nevada Harvest, Clipper City Heavy Seas Marzen, Harpoon Pale Ale and Sly Fox Royal Weisse. Price for this flight- $8.00. Quite a good deal and made even better by the purchase of a Dogfish Head 120 minute to take home!



This came from the most recent batch and comes in between 18%-21% percent ABV. That is one hoppy and big IPA! I haven’t had it yet but I’m hoping to soon. Good Beer all the way!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mini Holiday Food Guide- Rockefeller Center

NYC is a wonderful and magical place to visit around the holiday season. The Rockefeller Center tree is gorgeous, all the hotels are decked out in red and gold, holiday pop-up shops fill the parks- what could be better?

Unfortunately you have to be prepared for what I can only describe as controlled chaos. You will be wrangled like cattle to see the tree, stand in line at a Starbucks for 30 minutes, not for a caffeine fix but to use the single smelly bathroom and you’ll probably be so pooped out from all of your shopping and touring that you’ll see a TGI Friday’s or Olive Garden and think it’s an oasis in the storm. Two hours later (because you’ll have to wait for a table like all of the other tourists who thought the line at McDonald’s and Subway were too long) you’ll wonder why the food and service were so crappy and suddenly your wallet is empty as well.

It’s the holidays in NYC folks and one must be prepared to weather the season. If you’re from the city you should know this and already be prepared but for you out of towners here’s a few holiday food recommendations to make your stay a little more jolly.

Rockefeller Center/ Times Square

Family Meal - Bills Bar and Burger
The location only a block from the tree can’t be beat and the laid back friendly service, reasonable prices and awesome burgers pretty much seal the deal. They have a separate kids menu with tater tots and chicken fingers as well as vegetarian friendly options like fish taco’s and one of the city’s best veggie burgers. They also have cocktails, wine and an extensive beer list. Believe you’ll need a drink after braving the tree crowds with the family. Oh and they take reservations- Bam!



Bills Burger Bar Review

Cheap Adventurous Meal- Sake Bar Hagi
Hidden down some stairs right outside the madness of Rockefeller Center and Times Square is this cute little Izakaya. Don’t expect a quiet relaxed meal however- it’s loud, noisy and fun. Order some skewers of meat, yellowtail collar and a couple Sapporo’s and enjoy the experience. It’s good for groups as well but the space is tiny so if you have more than 2 people go right when they open or expect a long wait. However they will take your phone number and call when a table is available. Walk over to Jimmy’s Corner and have a couple drinks while you wait.




Sake Bar Hagi Review

Upscale Fancy Meal- The Modern
Located inside the Modern Museum of Art this restaurant exudes both the arts and fine dining. Expect flawless French cuisine, an extensive wine and cocktail list and the impeccable service expected of all of Danny Meyers restaurants. Don’t skip the desserts which are just as delicious as they are beautiful.



The Modern Bar Room Review

Classic Steakhouse with a Twist- Quality Meats
Right around the corner from the Plaza Hotel this steakhouse creates the most delicious Steak Tartare I’ve had to date. Not that you need to have tartare, all the classic cuts of meat are there as well with delicious sides and whimsical desserts. The Twist? Although it’s certainly a steakhouse the ambiance is much softer and more refined than the old school guys. Imagine powering through a Porterhouse and still feeling elegant as you’re doing so- that’s Quality Meats for sure.



Quality Meats review

Chocolate Treats- Cause you're Gonna Need Something Sweet

Good- Lindt Chocolate
Lindt Chocolate is sold everywhere now and it’s for good reason. The smooth, creamy truffles are wonderful and at the shop on 5th Avenue you can always find a new flavor and usually score a free sample at the door.

Better- Teuscher Chocolate
Right in Rockefeller Center this little shop explodes with bright colors and little figurines all about Switzerland, but don’t forget about the chocolates. The truffles and pralines have the same creaminess as the Lindt but with a richer, more authentic flavor.

Best- La Maison du Chocolat
Just walking into La Maison you will know at once that it’s a different level of chocolate shop. The well suited staff and trays of perfectly shaped ganaches and pralines almost make me feel like I’ve been transported to a fancy Parisian boutique. The Figaro is one of my favorite but don’t leave without trying out a pastry as well. The Romeo, a Coffee Chocolate Macaron, is the perfect pick me up after a long day of shopping.

La Maison du Chocolat

Teuscher Fifth Avenue