Monday, August 31, 2015

Shelter Island- Ram's Head Inn

If I had to pick my two favorite places from the Shelter Island it would easily be Croteaux and the Ram's Head.  

This sprawling Inn was absolutely gorgeous with an elegant yet rustic interior and a big spacious lawn outside perfect for playing croquet, sipping some wine or simply relaxing.

We came for dinner one evening and I began with the Tuna Cocktail; a fruity blend of mango salsa and avocado dressed with a fresh ginger-coconut marinade.

Onto entrees I choose the Blackened Swordfish with mashed plantains.  Both of these seafood dishes were exquisite.  I loved the tropical ingredients chef used with each dish.  It truly made me feel like I was on an island far away, much less New York State...

...with that gorgeous back patio overlooking the harbor it was way too easy to pretend :)

The Ram's Head Inn

108 Ram's Island Drive
Shelter Island, NY 11965

Friday, August 28, 2015

Croteaux Vineyards

I'm skipping New Brew Friday this week in honer of my summertime favorite Rose.  Mr. T and I spent a weekend with friends out in Shelter Island this summer and we kicked things off with a trip to Croteaux Vineyards in the Southold; the only vineyard in the United States dedicated to producing exclusively Rose wines.

I find most winery's to be beautiful but this place was absolutely stunning.  The tasting room was located in a 1800's Carriage House that opened onto a small courtyard filled with bright orange umbrellas, lush green plants and a large Cedar tree in the center.  All of the wait staff wore these long flowing dresses that just evoked an intense feeling of relaxation.  Croteaux is also one of the few wineries that don't allow any buses or limos so no need to worry about those loud bachelorette parties either.

Croteaux offers tastings of six still roses or three sparkling.  We ended up doing both and they all fit their motto of "Rose on Purpose"; crisp, fruity wines that were delicious and fun to drink.  I ended up going home with a bottle of the 2014 Cuvee Merlot Sparkling Rose that was the perfect bottle to enjoy later that night.  I only hope I don't have to wait until next summer for a return trip. Cheers!

1450 South Harbor Road
Southold, NY 11971

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lunch at Rosemary's

Rustic Italian food with a rooftop farm and airy open space right in the heart of Greenwich Village...this is Rosemary's.  

  To begin Mozzarella & Burrata with fresh basil and sea salt.    

Followed by Tuna Crudo with sugo tonnato, shaved fennel, grapefruit and pomegranate seeds.

Finally a scoop of homemade Maple gelato studded with walnuts and cinnamon sugar.  All of this fresh, fabulous food straight from the garden for only $25 with their lunch prix fixe.  What a refreshing way to spend the afternoon.

18 Greenwich Avenue @10th Street
New York, NY 10011

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Marocchino Nutella at Eataly

Eataly officially erected a full time Nutella Bar months ago with all sorts of crepes, cones and croissants just waiting to be filled with that lovely hazelnut spread.  I'm a huge fan of Nutella but I hadn't indulged until this past weekend when I was craving both caffeine and chocolate.  It was the perfect opportunity to try out the Marocchino; an espresso with steamed milk layered with Nutella and a sprinkle of cocoa.

This was very similar to my old favorite Piedmonte from Caffe Lavazza except with a bottom layer of rich, silky Nutella that pretty much put this over the top creating a hot espresso hazelnut shake. I may have a new favorite.

Eataly Nutella Bar

Monday, August 24, 2015

Brunch at The Wayland

I absolutely love summer Saturdays in NYC. The streets are empty, the sun is shining bright and everything just feels so peaceful compared to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  It's the perfect time for a relaxing cocktail infused brunch at The Wayland.

Everything on the menu is amazing; creamy Avocado Toast, Cauliflower & Egg Sandiwch with jalapeno yogurt and Blueberry Corn Cakes are all sure bets. But for a classic "Big Breakfast" it gets no better than The Man Child; a massive platter of eggs, bacon, fingerling potatoes, brussels sprout hash and sausage bread.

It's everything that's amazing about breakfast on one big plate.  The only thing that makes this even better are the incredible cocktails like the Sugar Magnolia with marmalade and orange peel...

...or the refreshing Rose Sour with a twist of mint.

Summer in the city just doesn't get much better than this.

The Wayland
700 East 9th Street @Avenue C
New York, NY 10009

Friday, August 21, 2015

New Brew Friday- Lawson's Hopzilla

I just came back from a fabulous weekend in Vermont filled with everything one could want from the Northeast Kingdom; a rustic cabin in the woods with a cozy fireplace, days filled with fantastic food and nights filled with starry sky's...and of course lots of incredible beer from local breweries like Lawson's Finest Liquids.

The Hopzilla is a Double IPA brewed with Summit, Amarillo, Centennial and Cascadian hops. The aroma is quite soft with notes of melon, kiwi, grapefruit and pine but then the flavor comes in...BAM! There's absolutely nothing soft going on here. This is a big, boozy beer with tons of piney hop bitterness up front and a long creamy malt finish completely worthy of the monster name Hopzilla.  Even better was finding it on tap at my favorite bar Prohibition Pig- Cheers!

Lawson's Finest Liquids
Warren, VT 05674

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I love living right near Eataly.  There's so much incredible wine, cheese and dessert to buy; not to mention the fantastic produce section and dizzying array of Italian beer.  But my favorite thing about living near Eataly is dining at the amazing restaurants any time I want; like grabbing some bar seats for a late afternoon feast at Manzo.

Mr. T and I always begin with a plate of Housemade Mozzarella dotted with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

Next the seasonal Agnolotti stuffed with Sekel Farm Veal served naked so the rich, creamy flavor of the meat is center stage.

Then onto a satisfying bowl of Cavatelli served with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Sweet Italian Sausage.

And  Manzo's hefty Diamond Creek Ranch Beef Rib with Spina Rossa Polenta & Barbaresco Vinaigrette.

For dessert the Chocolate Budino with salted caramel & amaretti cookie is a rich decadent delight best for sharing alongside the light airy Meringue of Chantilly Cream...

... because two is always better than one.

23rd Street & Broadway
New York, NY 10010

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Brunch at Elan

A good neighborhood brunch spot is a thing of beauty and I finally have a couple to call my own.  The most recent addition Elan, the elegant eatery from Chef David Waltuck of famed restaurant Chanterelle.

Elan offers both an a la carte menu and prix fixe during brunch and the two course set menu is hard to beat.  To begin an order of piping hot Mushroom Truffle Croquettes.

I tried to limit myself to only one or two, knowing their dense delicious innards would ruin me for the rest of the meal but stopping is just so hard sometimes.

I could only make it about halfway through the incredible Omelet stuffed with two kinds of squash, creamy mozzarella cheese and diced tomatoes.  Next time I will have to do better.

Of course when it comes to drinks the limits are endless; the prix fixe includes unlimited Bloody Marys or Blueberry Cobbler Mimosas. I really can't think of a better way to enjoy a glorious Sunday afternoon.

43 East 20th Street between Park & Broadway
New York, NY 10010

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Restaurant Week at Asia de Cuba

As part of my mini summer staycation the first stop was a fabulous lunch at the new Asia de Cuba. 

Located in the old Butter space downtown the long sleek dining room was airy and bright during lunchtime with a crowd of mostly women sipping cocktails and chatting.  I honestly wanted to order everything on the menu...Crispy Calamari with bananas and cashews, Casabe Cakes with guava bbq pork but in the end it was the Snapper Ceviche that won.

This was fabulous- lots of bold citrus flavors and just a touch of heat from the Thai red chilies and a flurry of crisp plantain chips on top.  

The Seven Spice Chicken was also fabulous. I had worried it might be too spicy but it wasn't hot just really balanced with herbs and spices of cumin, cinnamon and mustard seed on top of this incredible creamy congri sauce.  This dish reminded me why I like dining alone so much.  When something is this delicious talking would just get in the way.

For dessert a fudgy Tres Leches de Chocolate with Dulce de Leche ice cream.  This dish is supposed to come with a szechuan peppercorn ice cream but I asked for this instead and they were more than happy to make the trade.  It was a delicious decision- I take my desserts very seriously.

To accompany all of this wonderful food one of their signature cocktails Lady of the Dynasty; an extra frothy pink version of a Lychee Martini. Just about the prefect way to start off a summer staycation.

Asia de Cuba
415 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ample Hills Creamery- The Raw Deal

My domination of every Ample Hills Creamery flavor continues.  Since my last post I've had the wonderful Nonna D's Oatmeal Lace with brown butter cinnamon ice cream; the intense Salted Crack Caramel with butter caramel ice cream and chocolate butter saltines (too intense for Mr. T) and finally the Raw Deal- Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate flakes and brown butter chocolate cookie dough.

As you can see it looks a bit like a classic cookies and cream scoop but once you dig down deep the cookie dough balls emerge.

I really liked the sweet flavor of the brown butter dough but I honestly thought there was a bit too much inside.  About halfway through the cup I was out of ice cream and had only balls of dough left. I'll hope for a better dough to ice cream ratio my next visit.  My favorite continues to be that incredible Sweet as Honey.  I'm not sure anything this summer will beat it- until next visit!

Brooklyn Bridge Park- Pier 5
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Hour at Pera Soho

Shopping for me is always stressful.  I never like anything I see and when I do finally buy something I have buyers regret immediately.  So when shopping in Soho it's always important for me to have a spot to chill out and regroup; Pera is just that place.  Located right on Thompson St. this airy Mediterranean bar and restaurant has just what I'm looking for- relaxed cushy seating, delicious cocktails and a fantastic happy hour.

I highly suggest the Blood Orange Martini made with vodka, Dom Benedictine and blood orange puree along with a mezze from their bar menu.  I had skipped lunch my last visit so the hearty Lamb Sliders with crispy shoestring fries were my savior.  

Happy Hour at Pera runs from 3:00 -7:00 each day with $6 specials on cocktails, wine, draft beer and mezze.  

Pera Soho
54 Thompson @Broome
New York, NY 10012

Friday, August 7, 2015

New Brew Friday- Southern Tier Brewery

There's nothing better in life then sipping a delicious beer in the sun on a gorgeous summer day and on my recent trip to Western New York I got to spend the entire afternoon doing just that at Southern Tier Brewery.

Located in the town of Lakewood, Southern Tier is probably best known for it's seasonal beer Pumking, a strong pumpkin ale that seriously tastes like a slice of fresh baked pumpkin pie with cloves and vanilla.  This is thanks to the huge amount of real pumpkin puree they put into each batch.   But don't just stop at the Pumking, this brewery has so much more.  Take for example the Hop Sun, a pale wheat ale with such a crisp lemon flavor and dry mouthfeel I would swear it was an IPA.  Or the deliciously dark Mokah; a rich imperial stout brewed with chocolate and roasted coffee.

Obviously these guys brew A LOT.  Just take a look at those amazing tanks.  Southern Tier produces over 100,000 barrels of beer a year and distribute their brews all over the United States and even make it to Sweden.  The brewpub itself is one of the best I've visited.  In addition to the gorgeous tasting room inside with over 14 taps they also have wine and soda for those non-beer drinkers, a full menu of delicious food (get that smoky pulled pork) and a wooden stage out back perfect for concerts, festivals or just lounging when the picnic tables are full.

Southern Tier also has brewery tours given every hour on Saturday afternoons.   On my recent visit Christine was my tour guide and she actually made it fun.  I've been on a lot of brewery tours and I find that half the crowd is usually engaged and the other half could care less. Christine somehow had everyone laughing, involved and asking questions- it was fabulous!

Okay full disclosure Christine is a good friend of mine but I wouldn't say she was a great tour guide if it weren't true!  That also means she's into good food so after you finish off that amazing Pulled Pork sandwich feel free to ask her for other food recommendations in the area. 

I highly suggest a visit out to Southern Tier if your in the Western New York area- it's an amazing brewery and just a great way to spend the day.

2072 Stoneman Circle
Lakewood, NY 14750

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Omakase at Cagen

We celebrate Mr. T's birthday with an omakase every year.  It used to be our annual meal at Sushi Yasuda but since he went back to Japan we've been trying out new places and this year it was Cagen; the cozy sushi den located inside the old East Village Kajitsu space.  We sat at the eight person sushi bar right in front of Chef and owner Toshio Tomita and let him work his magic.

Cagen offers both a Kappo Omakase and Sushi Omakase of which we went the latter.  To begin a cool summer Gazpacho with shrimp and cucumber.

Red Snapper with plum paste and yuzu

Fluke with chimichurri

Tai (Sea Bream)

Engawa (Halibut)

Kasago (Red Perch)

Japanese Mackrels

Baby Snapper

Fugu (Blowfish) with fresh wasabi

A trio of Squid preparations

Kumamoto Oyster with kelp sauce and salt

Seared Shrimp

Scallop with Japanese Red Sauce

Wagyu Beef with chili flake


Marinated Tuna

Hokkaido Uni Hand Roll

Japanese Karage (Jellyfish) Hand Roll

Anago (Sea Eel)

Toro Hand Roll with Japanese Pickle

Handmade Soba Noodles- plain, yuzu and pepper

Sobayu (soba dipping sauce with soba seeds, negri wasabi)

Green Tea Ice Cream with chocolate sauce and frozen berries

It was an amazing experience.  Chef Tomita expertly sliced each piece of sushi from the whole fish with such swift precise knife skills.  He apparently grinds the buckwheat for his soba noodles every morning and even grows his own fresh wasabi.  I was so excited to finally have fugu (although I was not a fan of the rubbery texture) and loved the little additions to each piece of fish like the chimichurri on the fluke and the yuzu on the red snapper. It was an absolutely incredible meal from start to finish and I highly recommend to anyone who loves sushi as much we do.

The $140 Sushi Omakase is only available at 6:00 or 6:30 Monday- Saturday and reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance. 

414 East 9th Street between 1st & Avenue A
New York, NY 10009