Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pies 'n' Thighs

Mr. T and I did a little beer crawl across Williamsburg last weekend and ended at one of my favorite stops of all time- Pies 'n' Thighs.  I've talked about this amazing sandwich before would probably be my last meal on earth if I had to choose.

Crispy Fried Chicken breast, slathered with spicy hot sauce and honey butter all sandwiched inside a fluffy biscuit.  This is what I dream about at night...seriously.

We usually get some extra cheesy Mac and Cheese as a side and add on a Cobb Salad for something a little green...and of course there's always pie! 

One slice of boozy bourbon pecan pie with dark chocolate and a dollop of fresh made whipped cream on top.  It really gets no better than this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Brunch at Pavilion

I had high hopes for brand new Pavilion in Union Square; my first visit was very promising.  I loved the outdoor atmosphere, the french fries were wonderful and aside from some super boring mussels it was a delightful meal.

My second visit didn't go quite as well.  I brought along Mr. T and we began with a few drinks....that took a very looooong time to arrive.

Almost as long as our Popover but luckily this was worth the wait...crunchy exterior with layers of fluffy pastry inside and a fresh vanilla bean custard studded with raspberries.

Unfortunately then we another loooooong wait for our entrees and it was a poor showing at best.  My Kale Salad had been chopped so fine it was almost impossible to get a full bite.  Add on a dressing with absolutely no flavor and you got a total kale salad fail. The only thing worse was Mr. T's Oatmeal.

I would liken the texture to "soggy mush" and the flavor to wet cardboard.  They would have been better off serving up a bowl of expensive Creme of Wheat.  

Of course flagging down the waiter for our check was no easy feat either and by the time we left we were both frustrated and tired.  In a city filled with so much incredible food relying on a pretty facade will get you only so far and I think that limit has been reached at Pavilion.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lunch at Fig and Olive

There's little better in life than a long leisurely lunch...sharing it with good friends and a few delicious cocktails certainly makes it a bit more special.  The wine list at Fig and Olive is wonderful but if you want the full "Fig and Olive" experience I suggest starting out with one of their signature fig cocktails.

They were participating in Restaurant Week so we all decided to do the three course prix fix which began with an amazing Beef Carpaccio.

Thin ribbons of beef dressed with 18 year balsamic, tomato, Parmesan and a white truffle olive oil that was absolutely incredible.   This was one of the tastiest carpaccio's I've ever had and the portion size was large enough to be my entire meal.

Filet Mignon Salad followed with fresh avocado, asparagus, grilled onion and a delicious pine nut vinaigrette.

For dessert a dainty Chocolate Pot De Creme topped with vanilla creme and a crunchy praline financier.

A rich delicious end to a lovely lunch :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ample Hills Creamery

I've been obsessing over something all week...something so wondrously delicious I get little goosebumps on my arms just thinking about it.  Toffee Bar Crunch from Ample Hills Creamery.

Thick, creamy vanilla bean ice cream, laced with ribbons of caramel, crunchy chunks of toffee and milk chocolate.  It's sweet and buttery; much more of an adult delicacy then a childhood treat.

They have two permanent locations in Brooklyn and one seasonal spot on Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Their flavors change every day but on my last visit they had a Mexican Hot Chocolate, Sweet as Honey and their signature Salted Crack Caramel that sounds downright dangerous.

Incredible ice cream, NYC view...perfection!

Ample Hills 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Restaurant Week at Cafe Boulud

It's that time of year again...Restaurant Week! Time for my bi-annual trip to Cafe Boulud for the best RW deal in the city. Of course the meal always begins with a delicious Black Truffle Arancini amuse bouche.

Onto appetizers a zesty Shrimp Ceviche with avocado, champagne, mango and crunchy plantain chips. 

Followed by a crispy Skate Grenobloise with haricot verts, slivered almonds and onion soubise.

One bite of this luscious brown butter sauce and I'm immediately reminded that Daniel Boulud is the absolute king of classic french cuisine.  

For dessert a gorgeous Mocha Torte with coffee genoise, praline wafer and marsala ice cream...

...followed by a basket of piping hot Madeleine's...the perfect end to every Boulud meal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sweet Buttons Desserts

I'm always on the lookout for dessert shops and this cute little bakery on the corner of Rivington Street may be my new favorite- Sweet Buttons Desserts.

They specialize in all kinds of mini treats like bite sized Lemon Meringue tarts, creamy Blueberry Cheesecake rounds and a delightful array of cupcakes.

These are about three times the size of a Baked By Melissa and for just $1.50 a piece this rich Nutella stuffed chocolate cake is an amazingly delicious deal and just perfect for an afternoon pick me up.

They also have some special dessert jars just for the month of July. I was eyeing the Chocolate Covered Monkey filled with banana custard, chocolate mousse,cookie crumble and vanilla wafers.  Twist on a top and you got a tasty treat to go!

Sweet Buttons Desserts

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pinche Tacqueria

I was having a serious taco craving the other day.  My first instinct was to run over to El Presidente for a quick Madison Gringa but I've been there so much lately well...I was honestly a little embarrassed to be going back again.  I'm already on a first name basis with half of the staff and they've only been open a month or so. Instead I started walking downtown and ran right into Pinche Tacqeria right around Nolita.

Pinche is a tiny little joint located right on Lafayette.  You place your order at the bar inside, take a table number and voila- your food appears as soon as it's ready.  I went for two of my favorites Carne Asada and Pescado with Cotija cheese added to both.

The steak taco was fantastic...juicy char-grilled meat with the flavor of mesquite and a dollop of guacamole on top.

Unfortunately the fish was overwhelmed by it's accouterments.  There was so much onion and cilantro on top any other flavor was completely cancelled.  I'll be sticking with Tacombi for my fish taco fix.  On the way out I noticed they serve breakfast every day until 4:00.  BOOYAH!  Weekday Machaca con Huevos lunch here I come!

Pinche Tacqueria

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Croissant Donut at Paris Baguette

I still haven't had a Cronut.  I refuse to stand in a line that long  so I've found alternatives like the incredible Dough'ssant from Chickalicious and now this delicious Croissant Donut from Paris Baguette.

The exterior is caramelized and crackly with a swirl of coffee cream on top and layers of flaky pastry stuffed with a thick coffee custard touched with maple.

It's big, its messy, and it's totally worth every bite!

Paris Baguette

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ai Fiori

We were invited through Opentable for a special dinner at Michael White's Ai Fiori courtesy of Kia. We had a few welcome hors d'oeuvres in the lounge, took a quick spin around the city in an awesome Kia K900 and then it was time for dinner!

To begin a Roasted Sunchoke and Fava Bean amuse bouche...

...followed by a luscious Lobster Veloute with perigord black truffles and tarragon...

...and a bright, salty Fluke Crudo with Sturgeon Caviar and Meyer lemon.  

I loved the sweet and sour notes brought to the fish from the Meyer lemon while Mr. T delighted in the plump buttery bites of lobster dotting the soup.  Line Caught Atlantic Halibut with manila clam, potato, chickpea and basil...

...and Prime Dry Aged Strip Loin with endive, potato terrine "cacio e pepe", balsamico and bordelaise were both fabulous.

We were almost too full for dessert but who could say no to this gorgeous Ligurian Olive Oil Cake with mascarpone mousse, pistachio and strawberry sorbetto...

...or this whimsical Milk Chocolate Budino with hazelnut, amaro and biscottino gelato.

It was a phenomenal meal from start to finish; one I would happily do again on my own dime. Big thanks to Opentable, Ai Fiori and Kia for a wonderful night on the town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dessert Focaccia at Eataly

One of the very best stops at Eataly is the bakery for a big buttery square of their home made focaccia.  They always tinker with the toppings; ham and mozzarella one day, zucchini and sausage the next and now a brand new dessert focaccia.

Big slices of banana, bittersweet chocolate chips that are at the perfect slightly melted point and a dusting of sugar on top make this one amazing square of delight.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Lunch at Nougatine

There's nothing I love better than a fabulous lunch deal and my recent trip to Jean George's Nougatine was one of the best I've experienced.  They offer a $32 prix fix menu which includes appetizer, entree and dessert.  I almost always start with their delicious Tuna Tartare but ordered the Shrimp Salad on a whim.

I couldn't believe my eyes when the salad arrived.  It was the same exact salad I was obsessed with at The Inn at Pound Ridge!  Those  beautiful plump shrimp, creamy slices of avocado and glorious black truffle champagne dressing.  I was the happiest girl in the world at that moment and my happiness only blossomed with my entree.

Roasted Black Bass with sauteed herbs, crispy potatoes and a red-chili lime sauce that had a strong spicy kick.  If I ordered again I would request no cilantro but luckily it was an easy fix.

For dessert the Jean George Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  You see these molten lava cakes on the menu everywhere but Jean George was the one who started this trend.  See all those crystals on top...they're mostly sugar but there's also a sprinkle of salt in there which makes all the difference.

Slice into the cake and it erupts into a beautiful pool of bittersweet chocolate.  It's rich and elegant...a Jean George signature that's truly stood the test of time.  

Jean George Nougatine

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nashville- The Best of the Rest

I figured I'd add these two things since really didn't fit into a post on their own but are certainly worth checking out if your in Nashville.  First this delicious butter tasting at Etch Restaurant.

Black Truffle, Peanut Ginger, Smoked Sea Salt and Parmesan Black Pepper were our flavors that evening. My parents thought I was crazy ordering this as an appetizer but after a few bites everyone agreed... butter is absolutely the best.  I also took a quick trip up the hill to Pinewood Social one morning for an espresso and this gorgeous Blueberry Muffin. 

The space was coffee bar up front, lounge area to the side with a huge open restaurant and a back complete with a bowling alley and karaoke.  You could spend your entire day here and never be bored.  Now Nashville is officially wrapped up!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nashville- Brunch at Saffire

The main event in Nashville was my cousin's wedding Saturday and it was gorgeous.  The ceremony was situated on top a grassy hill while the reception followed down below with food galore including some classic southern ham and gravy from The Loveless Cafe and a whimsical cupcake tree from Ivey Cake.  We woke up Sunday morning with one last opportunity for some Southern cooking before hitting the airport...this time at Saffire.

Saffire is located inside the historic Factory at Franklin, a dining, shopping and entertainment complex that's been around over 100 years.  The space feels a bit industrial with high ceilings, exposed beams and cool figures on the wall made from old mechanical parts.  I was happy to see a Bloody Mary bar up front...always an indication of brunch goodness :)

The New South Cesar was a hearty salad peppered with thick slices of country ham, buttermilk dressing and drizzle of blackstrap molasses. 

Chicken Fried-Chicken arrived extra crispy, coated in panko with a white cheddar mac and cheese on the bottom and thick country gravy on top.

The Fried Green Tomato Benedict looked a bit pale at first, but once I cut inside the snappy slice of tomato stood out amongst the covering of spicy pimento cheese.

It was a long, relaxing brunch...perfect for recapping the weekend with my family before we all parted our separate ways.  It was a trip chock full of southern goodness.  I would say Mr. T's first trip down south was a stunning success!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nashville- The Farmhouse

My family rolled into town just in time for dinner Friday night at The Farmhouse.  This classic farm-to-table restaurant is a Nashville hot spot focused on southern style cuisine using modern cooking techniques.  We began with an order of Deviled Eggs, the usual mayo/mustard interior mixed with chopped ham and smoked salt.

A Farm Plate of crisp green beans, zucchini, carrots followed with some ridiculously delicious smoked Gouda grits...

...and a big bowl of Charred Creamed Corn that may have been my father's favorite dish of the night.

Hot Chicken with biscuit puree and warm potato salad was the entree of choice for most of the table.

I loved the crisp candied skin on the outside of this bird.  It would unfortunately be the only hot chicken we experienced in Nashville...something I would be sure to fix on a return trip.

Golden brown cornbread arrived piping hot with a side of steens butter; a surprisingly sweet butter that tasted of sea salt and caramel.  Then it was onto dessert with a Blueberry Brown Butter Pie topped with roasted white chocolate ice cream and blueberry jam...

...and Skillet Plum Upside Down Cake with bourbon butterscotch sauce and brown sugar bourbon ice cream. 

It was quite a farm-to-table feast that affirmed my love of all things brown sugar and bourbon.   I could barely move after our meal.  We had packed in a TON of food in for one day in Nashville...time for a serious nap.

The Farm House