Friday, May 29, 2015

New Brew Friday- Other Half Hop Showers

Taking a quick break from the Memorial Weekend recap for a New Brew Friday!  This time we're back at Other Half for their newest can release Hop Showers.


This American IPA pours a hazy, murky orange with a nice frothy head.  The aroma is sweet citrus with orange, tangerine and honey while the flavor is more big, juicy citrus fruits and dank pine with a creamy, slightly chewy mouthfeel and a bitter hop finish.  It's yet another solid offering from Brooklyn based Other Half.  They also just debuted some new glassware yesterday that looks exactly like my Prairie glass above but with the Hop Showers logo on front.  Looks like I'll be swinging by the brewery again tonight- Cheers!

Other Half Brewing
195 Centre Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Memorial Day Extravaganze Part II- Upstate Oyster Bar & Huertas

After our Brooklyn crawl we landed in the East Village hungry for some fresh seafood at one of our favorite places Upstate Oyster Bar.  As usual with such a popular and tiny space we had to wait about an hour for a table.  Luckily they take your name and send a text when it's ready so it's really just a little extra free time to walk around or grab a drink or two nearby.  


The menu changes daily but I highly suggest starting out with a big round of fresh oysters and one of the specials of the day.  On my visit the Scallops with Mushroom Risotto were absolute perfection. Big and crispy outside with that hearty rich pasta...yum.


Mr. T ordered his usual seafood go-to the Bouillabaisse chock full of fresh lobster, fish, shrimp and crab meat.  The meal at Upsate always ends with a free slice of lemon pound cake which is just delightful but I had bigger plans for my dessert :)


We recently celebrated my friends birthday at nearby Spanish restaurant Huertas (review to come soon) and I absolutely fell in love with their Churros.  It's so hard to find any with the right balance of soft chewy middle and crisp sugar exterior but Huertas has it all going on.


And they just happen to serve an incredible Marcona Almond Ice Cream. I seriously need to move closer to this place...

Upstate NYC
95 First Avenue @6th Street
New York, NY 10003

Huertas
107 First Avenue @7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Extravaganza Part I- Berg'n, King Thai & Hops Hill

Okay well it wasn't exactly an extravaganza but Mr. T and I had a great weekend just chilling with some friends and doing a little tour of some new spots and a couple old favorites. First up and brand new to both of us was Berg'n the Smorgasburg/Brooklyn Flea beer hall out in Crown Heights.  This sprawling space hosts four different Smorgasburg vendors including Mighty Quinns, Asiadog, Samesa and the famous Ramen Burger.  There were actually about six different styles of Ramen burger listed on the menu but we just stuck to the Original with beef, arugula, scallions and secret shoyu sauce.


This burger certainly looked awesome...the ramen noodles held together surprisingly well and maintained intact even while devouring the juicy patty but I just couldn't get over the salty sauce.  I've honestly never loved homemade ramen, this was definitely much more Mr. T's thing than mine, but it was just serious MSG overload for me.  I am happy to say however that I was literally the only person in line for this sandwich so instead of waiting hours for something I didn't like at Smorgasburg I only had to wait approximately 4 minutes :)


I also didn't have to wait for the Spicy Wings at Mighty Quinn's but unfortunately neither of us enjoyed the rubbery texture and heavy cilantro sauce.


What we did love however were the Short Rib Sliders. Mighty Quinn's had the perfect balance of spicy and sweet sauce on these buns and rich meaty filling.


After watching the Yankees lose terribly on the big screen inside we moved out into the sun and sipped a few local beers from Other Half and Greenpoint on the patio before heading to the second stop on our Brooklyn crawl King Thai Bar.


This cute little bar features 1940's Miami beach decor complete with seashells on the wall and delicious cocktails like the classic Pina Colada and new age Thai Tea with Anejo Rum, black tea, passionfruit and a dark rum float.  King Thai also has a short list of beers all in the range of $3.00- $5.00 dollars...a complete breath of fresh air compared to the insane beer prices we usually see in the city.


After King Thai we toured around a bit more stopping at Covenhoven and Hops Hills before heading back into Manhattan for dinner and dessert at two of my favorite places!

899 Bergen Street @Franklin
Brooklyn, NY 11238

1089 Bergen Street @Nostrand
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy Hour at City Crab

Our neighborhood is brimming with various kinds of happy hour every day, but the longest running happy hour (and most crowded) in the hood is at City Crab where everything on the bar menu is half off.  This includes wine, beer and specialty cocktails like the Maryland Martini made with two kinds of Coconut Rum and a small menu of appetizers.


I highly suggest the Buffalo Shrimp served extra crisp with a buttery spicy sauce or the Lil' Lobster rolls served on mini potato buns.


Don't expect rolls on the lobster level of Pearl or Mary's but they're a tasty, quick snack perfect for nibbling on with a delicious cocktail or two.  

City Crab
235 Park Avenue South at 19th Street
New York, NY 10003

Friday, May 22, 2015

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Finally three full day off in a row!  Time for everyone to go to the Hampton's and leave the city free and clear for the rest of us to relax and hang out in the sun.  Of course there's nothing better than enjoying the rays with a big frothy cocktail in hand like this one from the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club.


Its called the Mr. Shuffles Orange Buggy Whip- a delicious combination of Rum, Coconut Milk and Orange Juice perfect for setting the weekend mode to tropical.  Cheers!

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club
514 Union Street @Nevins
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Ode to Spring at Juni

I've always admired restaurants that change their menu based on the farmers market, but I've never had a meal that truly showcased the season with such artfulness as Juni.   My aptly named appetizer the Spring Inspiration arrived in a cloud of smoke that hung suspended in air like dense fog rolling across the grass on a chilly April morning.  Once the smoke cleared a stunning field of snow peas, asparagus and microgreens appeared; like budding flowers arising from their winter slumber.



A gorgeous Nova Scotia Halibut studded with lush greens and chickpeas evoked visions of a secluded koi pond just basking in the rays of the early season sun.


Of course these are only my interpretations of the food, perhaps Chef Hergatt had a completely different vision when creating these gorgeous plates.  But one thing is certain...this man is a master at his craft and I can't think of a more incredible way to celebrate Spring.

Juni
12 East 31st Street between 5th & Madison
New York, NY 10016

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brunch at Florian Cafe

In the continuing battle to find delicious brunch spots without the insane brunch crowds we stumbled into Florian, an Italian cafe and trattoria from the Fireman Hospitality Group.  The restaurant was practically empty when we arrived which made Mr. T extremely happy and me a bit nervous.  Reassuringly full is more my mantra but after settling in to their namesake cocktail the Saint Florian and a round of creamy burrata my worries vanished into thin air.



The Spaghetti Carbonara was excellent- thin noodles cooked al dente and dressed with butter, pancetta, fried egg and a slice of pecornio.  


To balance the pasta a Very Nice Salad with arugula, endive, radicchio, anjou pear and apple-honey dressing.  I don't usually like fruit with my greens but this had a nice medley of bitter/sweet flavors that really worked.



And to round out the meal a Thin Crust Pizza with a cracker thin base covered in fresh mozzarella cheese and sweet Pomodora Sauce.  If thin crust is your thing then this pizza is a must.

Florian
225 Park Avenue South between 19th & 20th
New York, NY 10003

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Dish- Miso Black Cod at Gotham Bar & Grill

It's not often that I get to dine at Gotham Bar & Grill but when I do it's always so wonderful.  There's such a quiet elegance about the dining room that just makes settling in for a relaxing afternoon so delightful. Everything on the menu is fantastic but one of my absolute favorites is their Miso Marinated Black Cod.


It's slightly charred on top, served with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and sticky rice all dressed in a fragrant lemongrass ginger sauce.  It's so well balanced and honestly quite hearty for an entree.  The only downside is being too full for the incredible Gotham Chocolate Cake.  Somehow I always manage to find some room though :)

Gotham Bar and Grill
12 East 12th Street @University
New York, NY 10003

Friday, May 15, 2015

New Brew Friday- Triple Sunshine

It's absolutely stunning outside today...the perfect excuse to crack open something special and celebrate. Something big and bold like Lawson's Triple Sunshine from Vermont.


The aroma of this beer is just glorious.  It reminds me of being on a tropical island filled with fresh mango, papaya and orange that have all been peeled open.  The taste is exactly the same as the smell...more juicy tropical fruits, peach, mango and pineapple with a touch of honey and pine. The super creamy mouthfeel hides the booze and makes this 10.5% beer ridiculously drinkable. This is easily the best triple IPA I've ever had and nothing even comes close to touching it.  Of course something this wonderful is almost impossible to get. A trip to Vermont on the exact right day or a great friend who's willing to share are about the only two ways.  So call up someone you know and hope for a great start to the weekend- Cheers!

Warren, VT 05674

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New Zealand in a Glass

The New Zealand Winegrowers hosted a fantastic fair last week at the Metropolitan Pavilion.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind when I think of New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc.  I've been enjoying the Kim Crawford releases for years which is probably why I loved this Sauvignon Blanc from Loveblock so much.  After Kim sold his company, he and his wife Erica decided to get back into the industry with their own winery based around organics and hence Loveblock was born.



This Sauvignon Blanc has soft peach aromas and a bright citrus flavor perfect for enjoying in the coming months.  It was great to try out an old favorite in a completely new way. 



Speaking of new winery's Off the Grid was creating quite a bit of excitement.  This family owned winery just oozes New Zealand adventure with big, bold flavors and awesome labels depicting the philosophy behind their passion.  



But what surprised me most about this tasting was the amount of wines from New Zealand I enjoyed that weren't Sauvignon Blanc like this Chenin Blanc from Astrolab.  It was dry and crisp with gorgeous flavors of white peach, honey and lemon.



Not to mention all three Framingham wines including an elegant sage and raspberry Pinot Noir and the Classic Riesling, a dry fruity combination of honeysuckle and green apple.


There was even a delicious Sparkling Rose made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes just bursting with tart strawberry flavors.  So many fantastic wines from one incredible country.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Amorino Gelato

Is this gelato weather or WHAT!  I can't think of anything better than a creamy spoonful of Amorino Vanilla Bourbon gelato flecked with Madagascar vanilla beans mixed and Coffee a strong but balanced flavor with espresso beans on top.



The best part about gelato from Amorino is unlimited flavors in any size.  So even if you want just a small cup you can still get three or four different flavors. And if you order a cone they'll create a gorgeous gelato flower on top!


Amorino

60 University Place
New York, NY

Monday, May 11, 2015

Brunch at Porsena

I can still remember the very first time I had Porchetta...that rich delicious sandwich set off an all out pork filled weekend.  I remember thinking that this Sara Jenkins lady really knew what she was doing bringing a sandwich like this to NYC.  Since then Porchetta has been consistently packed and Chef Jenkins has opened up a second restaurant just blocks away called Porsena, focusing on classic Italian dishes.  


We began with a light Spinach Salad dressed with crumbled egg and warm bacon vinaigrette.  It was so simple and delicious I almost wished we hadn't decided to share.


Mr. T moved on to a hearty Pasta Carbonara made with organic eggs and thick cubes of house made pancetta while I ordered the Porchetta burger (of course) made with beef & pork, porchetta seasoning and cheddar cheese.


This burger was so different...it reminded me of a big breakfast sausage patty with lots of fennel and spices.  I definitely prefer the classic Porchetta sandwich to the burger but Mr. T enjoyed the hearty flavor so we ended up splitting our entrees which was perfect.


The restaurant stayed fairly quiet during our meal...a nice change of pace from some of the other East Village brunch places.  Plus the mimosas were delicious!  I highly suggest the Rossini made with strawberry puree and a dusting of black pepper on top.  

Porsena
21 East 7th Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Madison Square Eats is Back!!!

My favorite semi-annual pop-up is back for the Spring season and this years line up is better than ever.  My first stop is usually at Roberta's for their delicious Bee Sting pie but this year Takumi Taco won the first season pit stop.  I've become obsessed with both their Spicy Tuna and Short Rib tacos topped with cabbage, wasabi crema and scallion.



Old favorites like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Illili Box and Asiadog were on hand doling out lobster rolls, shawarma and all sorts of specialty hot dogs topped with Chinese pork belly, and sesame slaw. But the biggest line of the day was at newcomer The Truffleist.  In addition to their specialty truffle oil and butter products they were whipping up Cheesesteak Sandwich's with rich truffle bechamel sauce and melted Swiss cheese.



And there's no shortage of beverage options this year; passionfruit & mango margaritas at Mexicue, prickly pear Shiner Bock and white wine sangria at Hill Country , bloody marys, mimosas, wine and even a mango lemonade can all be found in this tiny little square.


If it's too crowded for a seat just walk across to Madison Square Park where all the gorgeous flowers are in bloom.  It's the perfect time to be dining al fresco in Flatiron.

24th & 25th Street between 5th and Broadway
New York NY, 10010

Monday, May 4, 2015

Happy Hour at Barbounia

Barbounia is one of those great happy hour spots that does everything right. Reasonably priced beer and wine, delicious food and a gorgeous atmosphere perfect for a girls night out...not to mention the fantastic cocktails.



My favorite is the Basilika made with pear vodka, St. Germain, pressed basil and cucumber. It's light and refreshing, just perfect for this incredible Spring weather. 



The small plates menu has something for just about anyone like Crispy Calamari, creamy Hummus and Iron Skillet Shrimp doused with fresh oregano, garlic confit and parsley.  Plus happy hour runs from 3:00- 7:00 every single day so even Saturday gets some Mediterranean love.

Barbounia
250 Park Avenue South @20th
New York, NY 10003

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Santina

The Torrisi brothers newest addition to the NYC scene is Santina, a kitschy Coastal Italian restaurant located under the entrance to the Highline.  I've always said one of my favorite things about living in NYC is the ability to feel miles away by just entering a different restaurant or bar.  When I'm feeling French countryside I head to Bouley, Sakagura for Japan and now Santina, for when I feel like being on some sort of bizarre Italian cruise ship.



There's palm trees, orange trees and glass chandeliers...loud cha cha music playing overhead and men dressed in pastel cabin outfits pouring cocktails to the fashion elite crowd.  It's just bizarre...but also kind of fun.  After my initial shock I kind of got into the whole crazy atmosphere beginning with the house specialty Cecina.



This enormous chickpea-flour pancake arrived in a cast iron skillet to be rolled into Italian style tacos.  I chose the Calabrian Tuna as my filling, a spicy blend of tuna tartare, tomato and chilies.



I absolutely loved the heat from this dish and became a bit obsessed with the incredible salsa verde on the side.  Just be sure to eat the pancake quick, the crunchy exterior quickly fades as the pan cools down.


I skipped entrees in favor of the Squash Carpaccio appetizer, sliced incredibly thin and covered in butter, honey and toasted pumpkin seeds.  This was simply an outstanding vegetarian dish.


For dessert a tiny trio of fresh fried Cannoli's in pistachio, coconut and cherry.  I would make a return trip just for the crisp cherry cream cigar alone.


So it's a bit quirky and bizarre but also delicious and fun.  It's my new crazy Italian cruise getaway.

820 Washington Street @Gansevoort
New York, NY 10014