Showing posts from April, 2014

A Tale of Two Poutines

It's no secret I love poutine.  Growing up right next to the Canadian border there were many late night visits for a steaming hot bowl of gravy, cheese curds and fries.  I order it almost every time I see it on a menu in NYC.  So when Dive Bar had two listed...regular and vegetarian I had to check them out.  Who ever heard of vegetarian poutine?

We began with the regular version...the fries were salty and crisp with more than enough melted cheese on top and an abundance of beef gravy.  I loved the dish but I found the gravy just a bit too rich.  I prefer a lighter brown sauce with a little bit more cream.

Surprisingly I enjoyed the veggie one more...same fries, same cheesy curds but doused in a light mushroom gravy that had a surprisingly earthy, meaty flavor that was fantastic.  Who knew a vegetarian poutine could be so delicious!
Dive Bar NYC

Tabelog at Skal

Tabelog hosted a fabulous event last week, celebrating the winners of their Spring 2014 Restaurant awards at Skal.  This cozy Scandinavian restaurant is located on the edge of Chinatown and helmed by Chef Ben Spiegel (formerly of Noma fame).  He created a special seven course tasting that showcased the elements of Nordic cuisine.  Here's a look at the line up:

Pickles- Seasonal vegetables in their own Brine

Wellfleet Oysters- Verjus and Chamomille

Salt Cod Croquettes- Horseradish Remoulade

Heirloom Carrots- Burned Honey, Buttermilk and Dill

Raw Beef- Fermented Ramps, Littleneck Clams and Sorrel

Smoked Mackerel- Onions Steamed in Whey and Foie Gras

Long Island Duck Wings- Mussels and Red Seaweed
Everything was favorites of the night being the raw beef and ramps (of course) and the unique, savory flavor of the smoked mackerel with foie gras.  It was wonderful to speak with the chef himself and the entire crowd was just in a fabulous festive mood.

Head over to Tabelog to check …

Bon Voyage!

Mr. T and I are taking off tonight for a European vacation to Belgium, Sweden and Denmark.  We have a LOT planned to do...most of which involves eating and drinking two of my favorite past times:)  So far on the agenda I plan to eat as much chocolate as humanly possible in Brussels (something I missed out on completely last time) including a stop at one of my favorite chocolatiers of all time Pierre Marcolini and of course a waffle.

In Sweden we're meeting up with friends who insist we must eat a Gyro Pizza and visit Malmo Brygghus, which is part brewery part chocolate shop.  I'm pretty sure this is the best business model ever created and I haven't even seen it yet.  Then it's on to Copenhagen where I will finally get to experience Noma...something I honestly thought would never happen in my lifetime.  Oh and in between all of that we have the Copenhagen Beer Celebration, the main reason for this trip in the first place.  I'm not sure how much posting I'll get …

Sociale Brooklyn

I can't believe how many new places keep popping up in Brooklyn Heights.  It seems like every time I walk around the neighborhood I stumble upon something new like this cute little restaurant Sociale.

Located on the corner of Orange and Henry Streets, this cozy spot boasts a number of Italian specialties from Spaghetti al Pomodoro to Parpadelle al Coniglio and Whole Roasted Branzino.

The meal always begins with a nice basket of bread, one a rustic white the second a whole wheat with raisin and pecans alongside whipped butter and olive oil.  They're always freshly baked and the whipped butter is the perfect texture for slathering on top. Between lunch and dinner hours Sociale offers a smaller menu with a variety of salads and panini's like this Classico with Parma, Buffalo Mozzarella and Watercress.

The panini was simple and delicious, no bells and whistles here just high quality ingredients served with a bit of love from the kitchen and a big warm smile from the waiter.  This…

Something Sweet at Financier

There are so many reasons to love Financier...from their rich Chocolate Diamond Shortbread cookies to their free little almond cakes with each coffee, this is one place I always make a pit stop.  

The most recent treat was a Raspberry White Chocolate Mousse.

Crunchy almond macaron sits at the base with a thick layer of creamy white chocolate mousse on top, fresh raspberries, vanilla biscuit and a final layer of raspberry mousse and raspberry gelee. It's a symphony of fruit and creme topped with their signature square of dark chocolate of course.

Financier Patisserie

Double Windsor

This was a fabulous weekend to be in the city.  The sun was shining bright, the flowers were in bloom on Park Avenue and Hill Farmstead kept popping up at various bars around the city.   It's such a rare treat to have this glorious beer from Shaun Hill in town we basically spent the weekend hopping from bar to bar to get our fill of George, Edward and Everett.  Saturday lead us out to the Double Windsor located right on the edge of Prospect Park.  The windows were wide open letting all the bright sunshine and cool spring breeze inside...and with Hill Farmstead Florence on tap there was really no reason to do anything else with our afternoon!

Florence is a Saison Wheat beer that's tart and tangy with a strong  carbonated mouthfeel and a crisp finish. The hazy yellow color and sharp lemony smell seemed to fit in perfectly with the glorious Spring day.  We ended up staying so long at Double Windsor that a few beers turned into dinner.

Char-grilled chicken breast, two thick slices o…

Brunch at The Park

Dining at The Park restaurant is always an experience...whether you relax by the crackling fireplace, hang on the 2nd floor bar during a clubby summer night or just enjoy a nice Sunday afternoon in the gorgeous garden; it's always something to remember.  My most recent visit was for a lazy afternoon brunch.  Everything on the menu sounded fabulous but the Steak Salad was calling my name.

The plate was beautiful, mounds of pickled cabbage piled atop micro greens, skirt steak and a flurry of salted hazelnuts.  This was just a delightful brunch dish I would happily order next time I visit.

Another winner was the crunchy French Toast stuffed with Mascarpone was swoon worthy from the get go but the vanilla maple syrup really put it over the top.

The only thing I would skip would be the Breakfast Pizza which suffered from an overcooked egg and just not enough sauce.

But certainly don't skip the complementary pumpkin bread.  It's got soft flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg…

April Custard Calendar

I can't believe there was snow on the ground yesterday!   It was so depressing I just wanted to stay in bed all day and close the shades.  But alas I had to go to work and actually be productive.  So on the way home I decided to use the bad weather to my advantage.  Cold temps equal a short line at Shake Shack.  I was waiting patiently for my order when I noticed the line up of custards for April- it's awesome!

The pic's a little bright so let me break it down for you:

Monday- S'mores
Tuesday- Salted Caramel
Wednesday- Red Velvet
Thursday- Strawberry Rhubarb Blondie
Friday- Chocolate Toffee Cake
Saturday- Honey Almond Cake
Sunday- Malted Marshmallow Milk Chocolate

I'm seriously swapping dinner for dessert every day next week.  This list is too good to pass up.

Shake Shack

Front Street Bakery

My friends were out in Rockville Centre so I requested some regional specialties from the island- Front Street Bakery delights!

This box had everything  I wanted and more.  Thick, fudgy Rainbow Cookies with layers of raspberry jam, creamy Black and Whites with just the right icing to cookie ratio and mini Dot cookies that reminded me exactly of the sugar cookies my Uncle Walter used to make at his bakery growing up. 

Even more famous than the cookies at Front Street Bakery is their Crumb Cake. Look at the fluffy layers of dough in this thing... was soft and eggy with more crumb topping than I've seen on a coffee cake in my life.  Is you're a crumble fan this cake is for you.  Delicious regional delights from Long Island!
Front Street Bakery

Lunch at Peekskill Brewery

It was so gorgeous Saturday it seemed like the perfect excuse for a trip up the Hudson River to Peekskill Brewery.  The sun was shining bright, the water shimmered a glorious blue and the food was downright fantastic.

I was in love with my Chicken Cesar Salad.  They use kale instead of romaine and the big leafy shards were perfect for soaking up all the creamy dressing; big flakes of Parmesan, hard boiled egg and sourdough croutons rounded out the dish.  This was one of the most satisfying salads I've had in a long time and large enough that I had enough left over for a meal at home. 

Mr. T checked out their Buffalo Wings which were surprisingly large and meaty with a tasty hot sauce heavy on the spices. 

Even the French Fries were delicious...super crisp with lots of was almost impossible to stop eating these once you got started.

The beer was delicious as always.  We got the last glass of their new Double IPA Kneel Before Zod and then sampled old favorites like Amazballs a…

Lunch at Trattoria Il Mulino

In a city obsessed with brunch, Trattoria Il Mulino is a refreshing option for those who want to enjoy a regular lunch on the weekend.  In addtion to their regular a la carte menu Il Mulino offers a $24 three course prix fix option that has quite a large variety of options.

Meals at Il Mulino always begin with a few complimentary plates, this time a plate of spicy soppressata and some wonderful roasted eggplant.  Onto appetizers I chose the Burrata with baby frisee and watermelon.

The burrata was gorgeous...creme flowed out from the center as soon as I cut inside; just a splash of balsamic and a touch of salt is all this cheese needs to shine.

My Pappardelle with Lobster and Marinara was a bit of a let down. The pasta was exquisite, perfectly al dente and fresh with a creamy tomato sauce on top but the lobster was extremely overcooked.  I sadly pushed most of it to the side and just devoured the pasta.

For dessert a rich Chocolate Cake with espresso zabaglione and roasted pear brought me …

Astoria Bier & Cheese

One of my favorite little stops in Queens is right off the N/Q train on Broadway and filled with two of the greatest things in and cheese.  Astoria B&C is both a beer shop and bar; a place to grab a couple of bottles to take home or a quiet environment to enjoy a pint.  The rotating draft list is small but well selected with an array of different beer styles and a significant amount of local brews like this crisp Other Half IPA.

The food menu boasts a lineup of sandwiches that sound absolutely amazing like the Bacon & Blue Grilled Cheese made with Cambozola Black Label Blue, Berkshire Bacon and Vermont Maple Syrup on Raisin Fennel Semolina.

I was just feeling like a snack on my last visit and ordered a small cheese plate and a side of prosciutto.  

The cheese recommendations were spot on as usual and the bartender was great about explaining the elements of each one. I was having such a lovely time I decided to swing over to their brand new location on Ditmers and che…

Brunch at The Smith

My friend Kristin was in town for a visit which means lots cheese eating at Eataly, trips to Momofuku for cake truffles and most important of all- brunch!

The Smith was absolutely packed when we arrived right around noon on Sunday.  Luckily I had reserved through Opentable well in advance so we only had to wait about 10 minutes for our table to be ready.  We spent this time at the bar drinking some much deserved mimosas.

I was leaning towards a brunch favorite The Croaker but the Breakfast Scramble won out in the end.  Two fluffy eggs, crisp bacon, microgreens and some incredibly crunchy home fries...this was just about as perfect as it gets at brunch time. The only thing to make it even better was an extra side of candied bacon complete with a brown sugar maple syrup glaze.

Service at The Smith was phenomenal.  Our water was always replenished, the food came and was taken away quickly and our waiter was just downright friendly.  You would think that would happen at more places during br…

Sonoma in the City

It was a cold, dreary day outside but things seemed just a little warmer inside City Winery for the Sonoma Wine Tasting.  Over 200 wines from Sonoma County were on display from the gorgeous Chardonnays of the Russian River Valley to the big, fruity Zinfandel's of Dry Creek Valley.  There were so many lovely wines to enjoy but a few really stood out.

I started out at Patz and Hall for a tasting of Pinot's and one of my favorite tropical Chardonnays...

...then it was onto Peter Michael Winery for an incredible taste of Les Pavots Cabernet.

This was just released on April 1st and the intense blackberry bouquet and rich black truffle flavor should do extremely well in years to come.

It was interesting to compare the two wines from Anakota Winery; both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 15 months in French oak barrels but one at an elevation of 750 feet and the other at 950 feet. They were both wonderful but drastically different in both flavor and color.

It's always nice to see a Ros…

Return to Katz's

It's been way to long since I last stopped into Katz's Deli.  The long lines at the counter sometimes turn me off to the experience but it's worth the wait for one of these delicious hot dogs.

These all beef dogs have a super snappy casing that keep the meat juicy and totally worthy of the "Best in New York" title on the menu. 

My dining companion was sad to hear they don't have any relish but a side of sour pickles showed up in it's place.

The Knish's here are decent but I would save my carbs for Yohan Schimmel's down the street.

A better choice is the famed Pastrami Sandwich piled high with some of the smokiest meat imaginable.  Complete the meal with a classic New York Egg Creme, listed on the menu as "Heaven on Earth".

One sip of this frothy chocolate shake and it really does feel like your floating above the world just a bit.
Katz's Delicatessen