Monday, December 31, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
As I looked back on the past year I was seriously humbled by the amount of amazing places I've had the opportunity to enjoy. I am so lucky to live in this wonderful city and don't take a moment for granted. Hopefully this will serve as a guide for those of you trying to pick out some tasty meals in 2013. It's not all new for 2012 but it was all new to me! Enjoy!
Best Chocolatier- Chocolat Moderne
This little shop on the 9th floor of an office building may be challenging to find but impossible to forget. Joan and her husband are creating incredible combinations such as Dark Chocolate Lime Toffee, Salted Espresso Milk Chocolate Caramel and Kalamto Olive with Sea Salt. The patterns are almost to beautiful to eat but don't let the look fool you...they're way to delicious to leave for eyes only.
From the warm seasonal doughnuts (think apple cider in fall and fresh blueberry in summer) to the fluffy ricotta pancakes...Loconda Verde has everything you could want in a brunch outing. The food is fabulous, the scene is lively and the setting is gorgeous.
Best Brunch (Low End)- Fonda
This airy East Village joint is a great place to unwind and enjoy a delicious Mexican brunch. The Huevous Divorciados are excellent and the complimentary Rosalita Margarita is a perfect way to start off the weekend.
Best Bar Snack- Sweetbread Crousillant at The NoMad
Rich, creamy sweetbreads inside a salty, crunchy crepe...these little guys are addictive.
Best Pastry- The DKA at Dominique Ansel
Best Tzatziki Sauce- Avli
I was so lucky to be introduced to this little Greek restaurant this year. I'm such a big fan of Greek food but nothing has ever blown me away as much as their Tzatziki sauce. It's rich and creamy with just a bit of tang...it's a mandatory stop everytime I'm out in Bayside and I can't imagine it getting any better than this.
Best Mexican Experience- Empellon Cocina
My memory of the meal at Empellon is filled with lots of oohs and aahs and a few eye rolling back in head moments... When I first tasted that decadent Lobster in Tetilla Cheese I think I stopped breathing a bit. I bounced back only after tasting the incredibly creative and mind boggling flavors in the 29 ingredient Squid. This is serious Mexican food that deserves all the attention it receives.
Best Fried Chicken- Bobwhite Counter
I had to add this to my "Best of" list because Mr. T loved it so much. He's pretty much obsessed with Fried Chicken and this was perfection to him. Although I'm no expert the crunchy coating on the skin and moist poultry was incredibly satisfying.
Best Combination - Oysters & Pearls at Per Se
I wasn't sure how to name this category...all I know is that the combination "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar made me stop dead in my tracks. The textures and flavors were absolutely stunning. Easily my favorite dish at Per Se.
Best Combination (Runner Up)- Pearl Barley and Clams at Acme
I'm not a barley lover and this dish completely blew my mind. The creamy roasted sunflower broth, sweet fish and earthy grains blended perfectly into an incredibly homey and savory dish.
Best Reason to Get on the PATH Train- Thirty Acres
Mr. T started working in Jersey City this year and he was less than thrilled at the food prospects. Luckily Thirty Acres opened and we have been enjoying weeknight dinners together ever since. The menu changes frequently based on season which means each dish is fresh and creative. The atmosphere is laid back and the BYOB policy is a great excuse to pick up a fabulous drink from the beer/wine shop next store.
Best Meal of 2013 - Tied
This quiet, unassuming BYOB restaurant in Philadelphia is what good dining is all about. From the caviar toast in the Golden Beet Soup to the short rib and sweetbreads in the Beet "Ravioli", this five course beet tasting was extraordinary...the bargain basement price tag of $45 was quite extraordinary as well.
Mr. T's birthday dinner was absolutely unbelievable Each and every course was inventive, exciting and completely unlike anything I have ever experienced in Korean cuisine We were blown away by both the food and service.
Best New Opening- The NoMad
Paris is Burning at the bar, Roasted Squash with sage for brunch, Milk and Honey for dessert...I swear this place has everything I could ever want and more. Alright maybe the rooftop could have been a little better but one bite of that glorious Whole Roasted Chicken with Foie Gras, Black Truffle and Brioche can make me forget just about anything.
Best of the Rest
Best Sandwich- Smoked Brisket at Mile End
Best Vegetarian Dish- Tofu with Ginger Scallion at Danji
Best Mozzarella Sticks- Parm
Best Cocktail- Graffiti Green at Acme
Best Chicken Wings- Blondies
Best New Steak Tartare- Ken & Cook
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
...and the Reuban with extra lean corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on grilled rye bread. This is probably Buffalo's most popular sandwich.
But no trip is complete without trying some wings. These were nice in size with crispy skin and smothered in an excellent medium spice sauce. I wasn't a big fan of the BBQ sauce but the medium was so great I was putting it on anything I could get my hands on. Then it was off to Vermont to spend some time with Mr. T's family.
No one in his family actually lives in Vermont, it was more of a holiday getaway. We rented a house in Manchester to enjoy the breathtaking views and had Christmas Eve dinner at the Equinox Resort's new Chophouse.
Monday, December 24, 2012
I just love this time of year so it's time for me to sign off and spend some good time with family. If you're looking for some last spots to celebrate the Library Bar at the NoMad is an excellent choice...
The room is always cozy but this time of year the brightly lit tree and special holiday drinks like make it extra festive. Unfortunately they were out of the Egg Nog last time we stopped in so we walked down to another holiday favorite Maialino.
They were offering their annual Egg Nog and it's wonderful. Each one is made to order so the top gets nice and frothy with a solid dusting of nutmeg....Yum....Happy Holidays!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
There's not much time left until the Holidays are over and there's so much to see and do in the city to celebrate. If you're in midtown I suggest stopping by Le Parker Meridian to check out their Gingerbread Houses that are anything but ordinary...How about the Lincoln Memorial done in cookie form by Baked Ideas.
Or the Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle by North End Grill...
The Sphinx by Rolling Pin Productions is quite a sight...
But my favorite of the day was the Hurri- CRANE done by Norma's.
This image was burned into every NYer during Sandy...
...and they got every bit right down to the very last detail...awesome.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
I seem to be running back and forth between Brooklyn and Queens lately and finding some great eats. Let's start at Los Paisitas out in Elmhurst where I ordered Calentado Con Huevos Y Arepa.
Scrambled eggs with green onion, tomato and a side of rice and beans. I loved the flavor of the rice and eggs together. If I had been a little hungrier I would have added one of the fluffy pieces of fried dough from this tiny little Latin bakery. Over in Fort Greene we stopped into Der Schwarze Kolner for a little snack.
The pretzel came out nice and warm with some extra spicy mustard on the side.
I absolutely loved the hefty beer mugs! And now let's finish up with some dessert back in Queens...
Cupcakes In Heels
Der Schwarze Koelner
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Sometimes you can tell a place is good just by checking out the lines at lunch. Case in point- Sergimmo's. I don't think I've ever walked by without seeing packed tables and lines snaking around the store for to go orders. I finally saw a little breathing room one day and decided to squeeze myself in for a taste. The smell of fresh mozzarella and briny olives hit me full in the face as the door opened...that's a good sign. The massive Panini list looked a bit overwhelming but I finally settled on the Lombardi with Grilled Chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, arugula and pesto.
Don't let the picture fool you, this sandwich was enormous and seriously awesome. All of the ingredients were so fresh...the bread was freshly baked with the perfect amount of chew, the mozzarella was creamy and the pesto...good lord the pesto...I was licking it off my fingers with each bite! In the"dead zone" of lunch options I have near 34th & 10th, this place is a shining ray of light. Looks like I will be cramming myself in with the rest of the lunch crowd.
Monday, December 17, 2012
Tucked away in the back of a small courtyard sits Hudson Clearwater, a cozy farm to table restaurant that just oozes a warm neighborhood feel. We arrived early on Saturday and were lucky to get the last two seats at the front bar. I was worried about being so close to the door but it stayed surprisingly warm and we were able to watch all the action of the open kitchen. To begin we split the Butter Clams with Gnocchi and Sauteed Kale in a Parley-Lemon Bouillon.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this appetizer but it was delicious. I loved how the fragrant lemon broth balanced out the bitter kale and buttery clams. It was such a clean and simple dish where all the ingredients really shined. Onto entrees I ordered the Crispy Duck Breast with Smashed Root Vegetables, Black Kale, and Peppercorn Veloute.
Just as described on the menu the outside of the duck was extra crisp while the inside was perfectly pink and juicy. It was one of the best duck dishes I've had in a while. Mr. T had the Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Sunchoke Chips and Shaved Manchego Cheese.
This was another great example of the homey, warm cooking style of the chef. I could taste all of the different vegetables and they came together in such an earthy delicious fashion. Between the food and atmosphere this place was simply spot on. What a perfect place to have a little date night with Mr. T.
Friday, December 14, 2012
It's really starting to feel like the holidays. There are so many tourists jammed inside Eataly right now it's almost impossible to breathe...except for Birreria. Mr. T and I stopped in last Friday and found an open spot at the bar and quite a pleasant assortment of locals and tourists alike enjoying a gorgeous evening. We were planning to just have a drink but it was so delightful we stayed on for dinner.
Mr. T had the special fish that day Striped Bass with Blood Orange. We actually had a similar crudo with bass and blood orange last year at La Scuola downstairs...cooked or raw those two are a match made in heaven.
I was craving a big piece of meat so the Bistecca was perfect. I love how chock full of flavor skirt steak can be when done properly. The addition of an aged balsamic and shallots just sealed the deal.
All of this and a lovely glass of Barolo to finish...
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Mr. T loves his sleep more than anything in the world. If he could sleep until noon every day he truly would. So imagine how big something must be to have him out of bed and standing outside Whole Foods Bowery in the cold, dark hour of 6:00 AM in the dead of Winter...That's how big the Westy 12 is to the beer world.
The Westy 12 is a Trappist beer, brewed by monks, sold solely to support the financial needs of the monastery. This means there has never been commercial production of this beer. In fact, in order to enjoy this beer in the past one would have to procure the brewery number in order to find out the date they would be selling and then drive to the monastery where you were allowed one per licence plate a month. Well about a year ago the Abbey needed a major addition and renovation which means they need a lot more money. So they decided to do a one time release of their most popular beer, the Westy 12, to retail stores. In the United States the Shelton Brothers handled the release and were given 1,500 "bricks" (a box with six bottles and tasting glasses) to be sold throughout the country on 12-12-12. So long story short Mr. T and I set our alarms early and got in line to be 2 of the 24 customers to be lucky enough to get a brick. I was actually lucky enough to try this beer once long ago but that was from a strange rouge batch and I just feel so much better about having this as a true experience. Cheers!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
After another full day of beer drinking at Brooklyn Brewery (two weekends in a row) we were in serious need of food. My friends suggested Dumont and I was honestly a bit on the fence. I've been to Dumont before and I wasn't sure the small space could accommodate our large group. Imagine my surprise when they walk us to the beautiful garden in the back!
The Dumont Burger was delicious as always. It's a little difficult to eat in one bite with bun and burger being so large but that's hardly a complaint. I love the salad option instead of fries...it makes me feel just a slight bit healthier (although I then ate a ton of fries from the neighboring plate so it really doesn't make any difference in the end)
I also ate a bunch of the neighboring Mac and Cheese. This was absolutely enormous and incredibly rich. The thick noodles and crackly crust on top made each bite a homey, satisfying food moment. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to eat the entire plate in one sitting but I would happily clog my arteries trying. This was the perfect end to a long day of beer drinking.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Way down there on 1st and 1st next to the ever crowded and always wonderful Prune sits Prima. It was happy hour when we arrived at this new little seafood place, which meant buy one get one free cocktails and oysters. I was more than happy to oblige with The Last Cocktail made from Spring 44 Gin, Prosecco, Pear Puree, Rosemary Infused Agave and Clove Dust.
I loved everything about this cocktail- bubbly and savory with the spicy aroma of clove. Thank goodness for happy hour because I was definitely ordering more than one of these delicious drinks. They had about five different East Coast Oysters on the menu that night of which I tried the Montauk Pearls and Beau Soleil.
For entrees Prima has five different fish dishes where you choose your fish and pick a sauce to accompany it. I choose the Skate with the Green Condiment.
The skate truly didn't need a condiment. It was excellent on its own with just a little lemon juice and capers. Mr. T felt the same way about his Tempura Hake.
What's not to love about a battered and lightly fried fish. This was one of the best versions of a classic Fish and Chips dish I have ever had in the city.
Speaking of chips they were quite delicious as well. They could have gone for another minute or two in the fryer to be extra crisp but the flavor was spot on. I was planning to save room for their amazing looking Mille Feuille but we both agreed we would make a return trip when we had more stomach room left. Prima is a great new addition to the East Village dining scene and one I plan to make a regular neighborhood stop.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Pete's is one of our neighborhood staples. Over the years we've stopped in countless times for a beer or burger but we've never taken advantage of their Prime Rib dinner until now.
Tuesday nights Pete's has a dinner special that includes a salad, bread and butter, full cut Prime Rib and two sides.
Obviously the bread and butter wasn't much. Mr. T called this an Upstate basket since that exactly what you get in every restaurant Upstate and West of NYC and I have to agree.
However the Prime Rib was just as it was supposed to be- juicy and pink with a nice big pool of au jus underneath.
It came with Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Peas & Carrots...such a homey old school side your Mother probably made multiple times growing up. Everything about Pete's has that homey, warm vibe and for $15.95 this is a pretty great deal.