Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a day to give thanks and what a better way to do that than with a wonderful beer!



The Atrial Rubicite is an American Wild Ale that pours an absolutely gorgeous red color and smells like raspberry jam.  The flavor is straight raspberries with just a tiny bit of funk and a light, zesty mouthfeel.  It's so fruity and clean it's honestly a bit shocking that something that can be made this delicious.  That Jester King Brewery out in Texas is one awesome brewery and this is the perfect beer for a celebration.  Cheers to everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jester King

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Best Breakfast Sandwich Ever

There's no shortage to breakfast sandwiches in New York City.  You can find them all over- diners and bagel shops, street carts and bodegas.  They're literally everywhere.  So when I ordered one at Court Street Grocers last Saturday, located inside the new Gotham West Market, I was expecting the usual lot.  A split roll with greasy bacon and overcooked eggs....but what I got was simply amazing.



Let me start with the eggs which were scrambled so perfectly soft even my hard to please father would be impressed.  These were then topped with one of my favorite cheeses of all time the creamy, rich Cabot clothbound cheddar.  Then they add two strips of thick and salty smokehouse bacon, a flurry of fresh arugula and stuff it all inside a buttery toasted ciabatta roll from Balthazar Bakery.  OMG...words can't describe how delicious this sandwich tasted.  I was actually staring at it in slow wonder when Ivan of Ivan Ramen walked by and said "Isn't that the best sandwich you've ever had?"  YES Ivan...yes it certainly is.




Ivan's comment kind of shocked me back into reality where I finished up my incredible sandwich and decided to explore the rest of the market...my main reason for coming in the first place.




Ivan's famous ramen shop wasn't opening for another hour and there was already a line starting to form in the front.  I have no doubt he will be a huge success in the city.


There are a bunch of great places to check out in the market.


The Chocolate Nudge cookies from Little Chef are a good place to start.  They're small but pack a salty, chocolate punch that will "nudge" you into buying another.


Blue Bottle coffee is in the back churning out their awesome macchiato's and the Cannibal has a space with some delicious looking bomboloni from Sullivan Street Bakery on display.


Just be sure to pass on their insanely overpriced beer list.  There are much better places in the neighborhood with high quality craft brews at a much better price.

I loved my first experience at Gotham West Market.  I dreamed about that sandwich all weekend and am already planning a return trip this weekend. So so good...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tablog at Jukai

Tabelog hosted a fantastic event last week at the Japanese restaurant Jukai.  This place is certainly transporting...it feels like a cozy den nestled far away somewhere instead of smack dab in  Midtown Manhattan.  We started with a variety of small plates, my favorite being the Smoked Duck with Jamon Iberico and Persimmon.



I'm not a big fan of fruit and meat together but this really worked in some strange way.



I absolutely love beef carpaccio so this starter was another huge winner for me...well marbled with just the right amount of seasoning.  Onto the main tasting the best dish of the night was probably the Spanish Mackerel.



It was topped with ground radish and crispy adobo which gave each bite a snappy crunch.



Everyone was raving about these enormous Pacific Oysters.



I have a size limit for these guys and this one maxed that out by about 10 so I passed.



Lucky for me they started cooking the Shabu Shabu right away and the broth smelled absolutely heavenly.



In goes the meat...



... and ta da!  A warm delicious bowl of happiness is created.  Of course I always have room for dessert...lots of dessert...




Black Tea Panna Cotta and Creme Brulee...



...an eggy White Sesame Blancmange



...and some cocoa dusted truffles.  It was quite a way to end a meal, the creme brulee being my absolute favorite of the four.



The event was sponsored by Asahi and it was pretty cool to hear how passionate these guys are about their beer.  It certainly gave me a greater appreciation for their brand. Overall it was a great event in a really cool venue that I'm going to keep in mind for future Midtown escapes.

Jukai

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mudville 9

Thrillist sent out an email revealing the best wing spots in the country and Mudville 9 was on the list.  I was shocked. How had I never been before!  I raced out of work that afternoon, hoping to beat the lines of people that would inevitably be filling the bar after reading said email.  I hopped on the train downtown, rushed in the door and found...a dank empty sports bar.  I guess I was the only one that received the email that day.



Although the bar wasn't exactly what I expected at least the wings were tasty.  The guys got one thing right-the hot wings are pretty awesome.  They come really crisp and super saucy with a buttery, spicy coating that has just the right amount of heat...not too much that my eyes were watering but just enough to start sweating after two or three.  I also loved the fact that you could order in increments of five and try out a variety.



Unfortunately my second choice was no where near as delicious.  The Honey Butter BBQ sauce was smokey, much more of a mesquite flavor than honey.  I don't know why it's impossible to find a great Honey Butter wing outside of the Bar Bill in East Aurora.  I've looked everywhere.  These wings were also completely different in size, much smaller and so overcooked they were almost inedible.  I was really surprised how terrible they were.


On the up side I was pleasantly surprised at the beer list.  I was expecting mostly a Bud, Miller, Coors line up but they had a pretty great tap list going including Founders, Great Divide and Southern Tier.  Plus they had a pretty extensive bottle list including this little Connoisseurs Corner.


So all in all it was a good stop.  I felt a little better when I saw one other person arrive.  He didn't order any wings and drank a whiskey but it was nice not to be dining completely alone.

Mudville 9

Friday, November 22, 2013

New Brew Friday- Chocolate Rain

I'm going big for this New Brew Friday...not just big actually, I'm going massive with a bottle from the Bruery's Reserve Society.  They took their incredible Black Tuesday, an Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels for over a year, added in Vanilla Beans and Cocoa Nibs to create what is known as Chocolate Rain.


Wow- when I say massive I mean massive.  This beer pours a chocolate brown with very little head and huge boozy aromas of prune, vanilla, fig and oak.  The taste is just as crazy with layers of sweet cherry, chocolate and dried fruit up front, coffee and vanilla on the end...all with the sweet, boozy taste of Bourbon.  This beer clocks in at around 18% and you can certainly tell.  It could use a year of aging or so to calm down a bit but was still just fantastic.  I guarantee a big smile and warm, happy belly after drinking just a little of this beer.


I recommend drinking it while watching Tay Zonday sing his signature song "Chocolate Rain" at the same time.  Because really...when your drinking a beer this silly delicious why not!

The Bruery

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Checking In at Parm

It's been almost a year since my last meal at Torrisi offshoot Parm.  I had to cut myself off after becoming a bit obsessed with their hot, crispy mozzarella sticks and creamy Saratoga Club.  I went cold turkey after finding myself at the counter three days in a row.  Well my addiction has been somewhat subdued and I decided it was time for a return.



I began with a blonde ale from the folks over at Alphabet City Bar on Avenue C.  It's always nice to see a local beer in a restaurant and this was light and refreshing.  I had been dreaming of the sticks and club but I was a little worried about my addiction returning so I skipped my usual order and went for the Chicken Parm.  Can you believe I've never had this here before?



I asked for no bread so my platter arrived with two pieces of chicken, breaded with flavors of onion and garlic, mozzarella cheese melted to a toasty brown and doused in tangy tomato sauce.


This was delicious, the chicken was spiced just right and the fresh mozzarella brought this dish to another level.  Much better than any chicken parm you can find in the red sauce joints around Little Italy.  The small salad on the side was tasty but more of an afterthought. Be aware this is quite a pricey dish...at $17 for the platter I could have used a little pasta on there or an extra piece of chicken.  But maybe that sticker shock was good for me.  I haven't returned and it's been almost a week:)

Parm  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's a Crazy Week for Beer

Not just crazy...absolutely nuts!  There are so many good beer events going on this week I just had to highlight a few.

Today is VSK (Very Special Keg) at the Blind Tiger where they pull out some incredibly rare, super-limited beers and put them all on tap for one delicious day.  This year includes Captain Lawrence Rooso e Marrone, Evil Twin Diccicos Biscotti Break and Founders KBS just to name a few.  The whole list can be found here on their blog.  I usually spend my NYE here every year so this is a great way to kick off the the approaching holiday season.

Blind Tiger

If your staring at the Founders KBS I just mentioned and cursing your boss for keeping you at work today- Fear Not!  Tomorrow you have another chance to taste it in all its glory at the Barcade Brooklyn Founder's Event.  KBS will be on tap starting at 6:00 pm followed by another incredible line up including their brand new wheat wine the Sweet Repute and a 2012 Backwoods Bastard.  Mr. T and I went last year and it was just an awesome event filled with some of the best Founders beer you can get in one place.

Barcade Brooklyn

Last but certainly not least it's the 2nd Anniversary of one of my favorite beer bars in the city- One Mile House.  Seriously this place has everything I love in a bar; friendly staff, good food, ample seating both inside and out, plus an amazing beer list.  One Mile House will be featuring a brand new beer at the party called "Daddy Warbuck's", a huge Double IPA with over 100 IBU's.  If you've enjoyed Barrier's delicious Money IPA before you should be pretty excited about this One Mile House collaboration with them.  Other notables on the list Allagash Golden Brett, Westbrook Citrus Ninja Exchange and  Kelso Rye Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout.  Honestly there will be so many other great beers on tap you should really come by and check it out for yourself.   It's going to be an epic event- cheers!

One Mile House

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gaonnuri

Goannuri states right on its website "The World's Highest Authentic Korean Restaurant." Located on the top floor of an office building in Korea town, I found myself getting butterflies of excitement on the long elevator ride up.  The doors opened onto an impressive room with windows on both sides, a long bar up front and a sleek looking lounge area to the right. Even though it was overcast and rainy,  I still thought the view from the floor to ceiling windows was pretty incredible. However the terrible weather seemed to have kept the crowds away as only two other tables were enjoying lunch when I arrived.   



I was a little worried a place with this gorgeous space and fantastic views would be ridiculously expensive but I found the menu to be quite reasonable.  Both the lunch Bansang and Barbecue were right around $20 for each set and the wines by the glass hovered right around $11 a glass.  Both seemed like to much food for mid-day so I just ordered Yukhoe- Beef Tartare marinated with sesame oil and soy.



I'm not exactly sure why this dish arrived with tongs as I wasn't about to cook it so I just laid them to the side.  As usual with most Korean places the beef arrived almost ice cold. I always find this a bit unpleasant for both the texture and flavor of the beef so I always let it rest a bit before diving in.


Once it warmed I was able to enjoy the deep mineral flavor of the beef, only marred slightly by a bit of over-seasoning from the soy. The sliced peppers and garlic on the bottom provided a nice contrast to the meat and the portion size was more than ample.  I pleasantly full and satisfied after finishing this dish.


Gaonurri is definitely a place trying to impress.  The gorgeous views, fresh cut flower arrangements and unobtrusive service make the whole place feel special.  This is quite an oasis of extravagance in the middle of Korea town.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brunch at Cafe of Love

Located within walking distance of the Mount Kisco train station, Cafe of Love is a great spot to meet up with my Westchester friends.  The restaurant rests just off the main street with a nice large patio out front and a comfy wooden bar inside.  It was way to cold for al fresco dining last week so we grabbed a spot indoors for brunch. 

The menu is all farm to table with a listing of the local farms where the food is actually sourced.  The chef actually began this restaurant as a spin off from her soup shop Ladle of Love.  You can still find one or two soups on the menu along with a nice variety of salads and some grown up sandwiches like the Pastrami Reuben and a Wild Mushroom Burger.



Carrie's Arugula and Roasted Root Vegetable salad was awesome.  Little pieces of parsnip and beet studded the plate, giving the bitter greens that much needed sweetness with the addition of a maple-cider vinaigrette.



My Organic Fines Herbs Omelet was also delicious...not quite as healthy as Carrie's option mine was stuffed with swiss cheese and spinach then served with a small mesclun salad on the side.  Everything was fresh and simple...not food that will blow your mind but food that feels like it made with lots of care and of course "love".  

Cafe of Love

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Brew Friday- Mogli

I actually call this big guy Mr. Mogli for the adorable chocolate lab on front.  I've been hoping to try this Oak Aged Imperial Porter for months and I'm happy to report it was worth the wait.


The aroma of this beer is straight chocolate and biscuit, almost identical to opening up a fresh Nestle Crunch bar.  The taste follows the same suit with chocolate up front, leaning more towards mocha in flavor, lots of roasted malts and a smooth milky finish that could make just about anyone smile.  I can see why this beer is dedicated to man's best friend.  This is certainly something I could come home to every day.

Caldera Brewing

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Quick Stop at Quality Italian

I'm a huge fan of Quality Meats...it's got one of the best steak tartare's in the city and a pretty exquisite space for a steakhouse.  Their newest venture Quality Italian, is also billed as a steakhouse but with an Italian-American flair.  Once again the space is gorgeous; much more masculine than the sexy Quality Meats with an Old World charm that made me just want to curl up inside and sip on a big glass of red wine.



The main dining room is upstairs on the 2nd floor with a smaller, quieter space on the 1st floor just for grabbing a quick bite or a drink.  I sat at the latter and enjoyed the people watching scene of 7th avenue while enjoying a small bite from the bar menu the Lobster Fra Diavolo Roll.


If you think this looks delicious your completely right.  It's basically a rich, creamy lobster salad stuffed inside a buttery piece of garlic bread and then pressed until warm and toasty.  It's not huge but for only $6 this little snack was incredibly satisfying and was quite the bang for your buck deal at a pricey spot.  I can't wait to check out a full meal in the main dining room next month.

Quality Italian

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lederhosen

Oktoberfest has long passed but the atmosphere at Lederhosen in the West Village remains festive all year round. 


It was all Mr. T's idea for a stop there last week.  He was having a huge craving for a thin and crispy Wiener Schnitzel.


I went straight for the bratwurst cooked to juicy, snappy perfection with loads of sauerkraut and a spicy mustard.


The back room wasn't full but it was just as lively as always with groups breaking out into German song throughout the night.


Those big German beers make it an easy place to settle into and forget about the outside world for a while- Prosit!

Lederhosen

Monday, November 11, 2013

Taszo

I fell in love with a coffee shop last week and its name is Taszo...




Washington Heights isn't exactly the neighborhood I thought I would find such a spot.


I walked in the door and was transported back in time.  The gorgeous exposed brick, twenties music playing on the radio...I felt a bit like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris.


The bakery case was filled with pastries from Balthazar including some flaky croissants and super nutty sticky buns.


I'm not sure what kind of beans they were using but my macchiato was delicious, just bitter enough with the perfect amount of steamed milk on top. Honestly everything here was just a little bit better than it had to be.  The water was served with a cooling slice of cucumber, the walls were filled with ample plugs for charging and the servers were incredibly friendly and laid back.


I liked this place so much I've honestly started to look at Washington Heights real estate...can a coffee place make a neighborhood?   Quite possibly...

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Brew Friday- Hamburg Brewing Company

One of the final stops on my trip in Western New York was at the brand new Hamburg Brewery Company to check out their opening day.  





This place is absolutely gorgeous with a huge stone interior, big wooden tables and a patio outside overlooking a beautiful pond.


The bar is up front in the middle and the brewer himself was on hand that day answering questions.



Since it was opening day and we never had a Hamburg Brewing Company beer before we decided to go for a sampler.  



They were already out of the Oktoberfest when we arrived which made the choice of four easy...the Wheat, IPA, Black IPA and Saison.


They were all tasty beers with the Small Town Saison probably being my favorite of the bunch since it had a bit of funk on the end.  None of the beers were overly hopped or spiced in any way which would make them approachable to someone who isn't a huge beer drinker. However that also means they weren't exactly exciting.  I'll be interested to see how this place does over the year.  The space is incredible so I could see it be great for private parties over the holiday season, but I was absolutely shocked by how much merchandising they were already trying to sell.  T-Shirts, glasses, posters....who makes this much stuff before the beer has even been discovered?  I hope they take more time to focus on making the actual beer product.  I would really like to see some more great breweries up here.