Friday, February 28, 2014

The End of NYC Craft Beer Week

There's still three days left before NYC Beer Week officially ends for the 2014 season so try to get in a few more around town if possible.  Here's a few last pick's:

  • Other Half Raises the Bar at the Jeffrey- One of NYC's newest breweries is taking over some of the taps with favorites like Green Diamonds, Motueka Pale Ale and Doug Cascadian.  I'm especially excited to see their new Hop Showers on the list which is supposed to be fantastic.
  • Split Thy Skull at Mugs Ale House-  The name says it all...don't come to this event unless your ready to settle in and drink some heavy hitters as every beer on the list is at least 8% or higher.  I'd suggest trying out the Evil Twin Biscotti Break Natale for a creamy, roasted porter with the sweetness of cherry and chocolate.
  • Back to the Future at Fourth Avenue Pub- I'm pretty excited about every beer on this list but the Ithaca Brut 2011 and Peekskill "The Aristocrats" is the reason I'll be showing up right on time.
So many great events and so little time.  Cheers to NYC Craft Beer Week!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quality Italian

My friend was in town for a quick visit and asked if we could meet for "a massive steak near the Carnegie Club".  Talk about the easiest food request ever!  I had been dying to try out a full meal at Quality Italian, the sister restaurant of Quality Meats, and the location was perfect.  So after a quick check on Opentable we found ourselves at the restaurant dining on huge Stone Crab Claws and drinking wine in preparation for our meat-fest. 



The Bistecca Fiorentina Porterhouse for two completely fit the bill as being "massive".  It arrived to the table sizzling slightly with a nice buttery shine on top and a crispy char on the edges.  The meat was well marbled and cooked perfect...not exactly up to par with Luger's but certainly not far away either.


The Bone-In Filet Mignon was also surprisingly "massive".  I can usually finish a filet with ease but I got about halfway through and had to hand it over to the men....although that didn't stop me from eating all of the sides.


The Tuscan fries were good but I longed for the crunchy nooks and crannies of the Parmesan waffle fries served at Quality Meats.  Luckily the Corn Creme Brulee was just as it should be.


Big kernels of corn churned into a smooth buttery custard then baked until the top turns brown and crispy.  I'm pretty sure each of us let out a happy little sigh after finishing up this insanely delicious dish.

Honestly it was happy sighs all around at the end of dinner.  The steak's were great, the service was excellent and we had a blast catching up with an old friend.  We just happened to walk by a table devouring the Chicken Parmigiana pizza as we were walking out and Mr. T's eyes absolutely lit up with excitement.  "We're coming back here for that!"  Whatever you say Mr. T:)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ROYCE Coconut Baton Cookies

There's not much better in life than ROYCE's signature NAMA chocolates, but their incredible Baton Cookies come in a very close second place.



There are two flavors to choose from hazelnut or coconut, with each cookie individually wrapped inside the box. 



I've been on an insane coconut rage lately so naturally I chose those.  One side a thin crispy coconut cookie, the other a smooth side of creamy chocolate.



Together an incredible delight perfect for just about any occasion...nibbling alongside a morning espresso, a quick afternoon pick me up or my personal favorite late at night alongside a big creamy stout (Bourbon County if possible).  It's like a little slice of heaven:)

ROYCE

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vinitaly International/Slow Wine 2014

It was all about Italy inside the Metropolitan Pavilion during the annual Vinitaly International/ Slow Wine 2014.


The main room was filled with the best in Italian wine but first I was off to the Prosecco Wine School for a class on sparkling wine and food pairings.


I was so surprised when I walked into the room and saw Lou from Di Palo's down in Little Italy.  This guy knows a thing or two about meats and cheese so it was fun to see him out from behind the regular store counter and hear some of his thoughts on food pairing.


Then it was onto the floor for the walk around tasting where I saw quite a few of my old favorites being poured...


...and found a brand new favorite Papale made from 100% Primitivo Grapes.


The color of this wine was absolutely gorgeous; ruby red with a strong aroma of cherries, tobacco and licorice with a soft flavor of berries and quite possibly the most incredible mouthfeel I've ever experienced in a wine..thick on the tongue but silky and smooth.


Another surprise was the Amarone. I've never loved this wine in the past but I actually found myself enjoying the dry, bitter flavor...but since the alcohol content averages around 17% this wine is best enjoyed in small doses:)


I walked around for a few hours sampling wine here and there until I ran across the biggest surprise of all...Beer!  


This was the first time beer had been on display at Vinitaly and everyone was really excited to try it out. Collesi brews in Itay's Marche region using hard limestone water from Mount Nerone and barley from their family fields. These are truly local beers using high quality ingredients which you can taste in each frothy, creamy sip.  I'm hoping to pick up a bottle or two when they begin to distribute to a wider area.

So there you have it; another fantastic day of all things Italian in New York City- Ciao!



Monday, February 24, 2014

Sushi Dojo

In a city filled to the brim with sushi joints it can be hard to stand out, but this tiny little space in the East Village just shines with a funky atmosphere, extensive sake list and fantastic sushi.  Here's a run down of our $45 omakase directly from Chef David.   


White Snapper


Striped Jack


Golden Eye Snapper with rock salt and lemon


Amaebi (sweet shrimp)


Botan Ebi


Fried Head of Botan Ebi


Needle Fish


Horse Mackerel


Lean Tuna


Fatty Tuna


California Uni


Anago

This omakase was simply amazing...from the lush fatty Horse Mackerel to the salty Golden Eye Snapper each and every piece was fresh and exciting.  I think this was the first time I've ever had Needle Fish and I loved watching Chef David delicately braid the two pieces into one gorgeous bite.   Simply exquisite in every way.   If your serious about sushi this is definitely a spot worth checking out.

Sushi Dojo

Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy Friday- Welcome NYC Beer Week

It's the opening night of NYC Beer Week and even if you didn't buy tickets to the opening bash at Grand Central Station there are still a TON of fantastic events you should consider checking out this week.  Here's a few I'm excited for:

  • Stone Brewing Cask Ale Fest at The Jeffrey- Smoked Porter with Espresso and American Oak and Ruination with Lemon Peel and Amarillo are just two of the fourteen unique and delicious beers the Stone Brewing team has put together for the event.
  • CASKALOT at 508 Gastrobrewery- Head Brewer Chris Cuzme brings together some of the best in the NYC craft beer scene like Sixpoint, Kelso and Birreria for a celebration of cask conditioned ales.
  • Cigar City at The Blind Tiger- Rum Barrel Aged Marshal Zhukov- BOOM!
  • Maine Beer Co Takes the Taps at The Jeffrey- Lunch, Peeper, Mean Old Tom.  They're all great and they should all be making an appearance.
Those are just a few of the fantastic events going on around town so go out and get yourself some great beer.  It's an incredible time to be a beer drinker in NYC...celebrate!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Maysville

A serious craving for southern food was the perfect excuse for brunch at Maysville Saturday morning.  The big windows up front were perfect for watching the snow as we perused the menu.  Everything sounded delicious...



...Quiche with kale, squash and ricotta and Thick Cut Brioche with collard greens and gravy were big contenders, but in the end the plain old Biscuit Sandwich with soft scrambled eggs won.



Loaded with a mound of tender vinegar braised pork the sandwich was really quite tasty, although the eggs were a far cry from being "soft."   The fluffy biscuit soaked up all the braising juices after just a few bites making this definitely a knife and fork kind of sandwich.  



The simply dressed salad was a nice accompaniment to the meat, although I much preferred the mini cornbread muffin they gave us.  It was buttery and crisp on top, dotted with sliced apples inside and just perfect for slathering with one of my favorite things in the world...apple butter!


There's just something about this stuff I absolutely love and this is one of the few places in the city I've actually found it.  Looks like a return trip to Maysville may be in order this weekend:)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Restaurant Week at Cafe Boulud

There is one place I must visit every restaurant week and that's Cafe Boulud.  The setting is absolutely gorgeous, I feel like I'm tucked away inside an elegant French townhouse when I'm there, the service is flawless and the food is of course amazing.  We began this visit with a Fried Truffle Risotto amuse bouche.



Then moved onto our appetizers the first a Duck Terrine with whole grain mustard, pickled vegetables and toasted sourdough.


The second a Wild  Mushroom & Barley Soup with extra virgin olive oil and italian parsley.


Of course the duck was fabulous.  Boulud is a genius when it comes to working with slabs of animal fat.  It was the soup actually surprised me... much lighter than I expected with a wonderful earthy flavor, reminiscent of a soup my grandmother used to make every Christmas.   


For entrees Christine enjoyed the hearty Pot-au-Feu while I devoured a wonderful Pan Seared Trout with winter bean fricassee, black olives and lemon zest.


Then it was time for the best part of the meal- dessert! Chocolate Financier with hazelnut ganache and coffee ice cream for me...


...Red Velvet Gateux with fromage blanc mousse and toasted almond ice cream for her...


...and a warm basket of  lemon scented madeleine's dusted with powdered sugar to finish.



This is restaurant week at its finest...oh if only to eat like this every day :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Serious Salad at Philosophe

Did you ever have a salad that completely blew your mind!  Ummmm....yeah...your probably saying no and already moving on to check out some other food blog but before you do I beg you to listen.  This is seriously one of the most rocking salads I've had in a long time.


Le Philosophe starts with a base of shredded kale, tosses the greens with toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted squash and slices of pickled chili before slapping on a few slabs of thick, crunchy bacon and a perfectly fried egg on top.


This had everything going for it...fantastic textures, an array of flavors...spicy, smokey, sweet.  I've honestly never had a salad that was so satisfying and crazy delicious.  I walked out of Philosophe feeling like I won the lottery.  When is the last time you can say a salad did that?

Le Philosophe


Monday, February 17, 2014

Classic Burger at Joe Junior

I love so many things about my neighborhood...my coffee shop FIKA, the fresh produce at Eataly and just a little further east my favorite diner in the world Joe Juniors.  This place is always filled to the brim with local characters and the food is simple and delicious.  When I'm craving a tasty burger with no frills this is the place to go.  



A thick smashed patty which is slightly salted with a nice char, melted american cheese, classic potato bun and sides of a dill pickle and crisp golden fries.  This is comfort food at its finest.

Joe Juniors

Friday, February 14, 2014

New Brew Friday- Maple Bacon Coffee Porter

Today's New Brew Friday comes to you from Funky Buddha Brewing in Florida.  With beers like Lemon Meringue Berliner, Rice Krispies Ale and Carrot Cake Wheat it's tough not to be a little intrigued in their offerings.  So when I had a chance to sample a bottle of the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter I was incredibly excited.


The beer pours a dark brown, almost black with a HUGE coffee aroma and just a little bit of foam lacing the glass. The mouthfeel is incredibly silky smooth and the flavor is absolutely nuts!  Smokey and sweet playing integral roles but somehow it's perfectly balanced.  I'm pretty sure I would drink this beer every day if I had the chance...with a big stack of chocolate chip pancakes preferably:)  Cheers!

Funky Buddha Brewery

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mini Cupcakes at Molly's

It's a disaster outside...the only reason to brave this weather is for something sweet like a trio of delicious cupcakes from Molly's in the West Village.



The Boston Creme is just gorgeous with curled white chocolate on top and a thick pastry creme filling while the Flourless Chocolate Cake comes stocked with a thick  of fudge...


...but the Coconut Macadamia Nut was my favorite of three.  Thick coconut mousse, salted buttercream frosting and macadamia streusal on top...


...don't worry these are mini!  Three is just the perfect amount :)  

Molly's Cupcakes

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Little Bite at Casa Mono

I don't spend nearly enough time at my little corner Spanish spot off of Gramercy Park.  The open kitchen and gorgeous bottles of wine are so inviting...the briny bowl of olives swimming in oil don't hurt either.



Casa Mono serves all small plates...perfect for sharing a few bites with friends but also an excellent choice for a solo quick meal.  I stopped in one evening for a bite of Quail and Cockscomb with black garlic and wild mushrooms.



The quail was cooked perfect with strong elements of both sweet and savory from the abundance of black garlic coating the bird and an assortment of mushrooms of all shapes and sizes.  I chatted with the chef as he prepared through the open kitchen..one of the perks of dining at the bar.  Plus I just found out they will be participating in Restaurant Week this year!  What a perfect excuse to enjoy this neighborhood staple all over again.               

Casa Mono

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Triomphe

Tucked away inside the Iroquois Hotel sits Triomphe, a cozy french restaurant right in the middle of the theater district.  When I first entered the dining room I felt like I had been let it on a secret.  It was small and intimate with white linen draping the tables and jazzy french music playing overhead.  There was an air of casual elegance perfect for a special get together with friends/family or a romantic night out.  Unfortunately the lighting was so low my pictures came out terrible, so I had to borrow some courtesy of the Triomphe website which you'll see below.  Onto the food!  To begin the"Harlequin" Soup, black truffle, cauliflower, hubbard squash.



This dish was really a work of art...smooth creamy cauliflower soup swirled into a thick puree of squash all topped off with a shaving of black truffle.  It was warm and comforting but also light enough that I didn't feel weighed down as I do with many cream based soup.  My companion ordered the Marinated Bison Carpaccio which came sliced extra thin with sweet potato crisps and a side of baby greens.



Then it was onto my favorite courses of the night Hazelnut Crusted Scallop with spaghetti squash and a blood orange beurre blanc.  


The hazelnuts gave the scallop a great crispy shell while the citrus beurre blanc complemented the delicate flavor of the fish.  I wanted to eat about two or three more of these but I saved myself for the Brussels Sprout Salad...



...dotted with squares of lardon and dressed in a warm vinaigrette it was both hearty and fresh; a celebration of the root vegetable season.  Then it was onto the main course a Braised Lamb Shank with cocoa and cabernet demi-glace, rosemary spatzle, salsify and crispy shallots.  This was classically French- big, bold and rich.  My only regret was pairing it with a Pinot Noir instead of something bigger to withstand the deep flavor of the meat.  For dessert it was a Trio of Sorbets for me (obviously my pictures)...



...Red and White Poached Seckle Pear for her complete with vanilla mascarpone and warm chocolate ganache...



..followed by some chocolate treats from Chef Florian Wehrli himself who came out to say hello.  It was evident upon speaking with Chef that he has a serious passion for food and isn't afraid to push the boundaries of traditional french cuisine.  He even created a special Valentines Day  Aphrodisiac Tasting Menu (with vegetarian options) that includes dishes such as Champagne Poached Wellfleet Oysters, Maine Lobster and Mascarpone Ravioli and White Truffle Risotto.

I really enjoyed my meal at Triomphe...from the warm, friendly staff to the incredible black truffles dotting the bread and butter.  There was a certain level of care and elegance that seems to be missing from a lot of restaurants today and I'm so happy to have found it here.

Triomphe