Monday, November 30, 2015

Holiday Shakes at Shake Shack

Shake Shack has really jumped into the holiday season this year by bringing back not just their decadent Hot Chocolate made with caramel sauce and sea salt but also a trio of holidays shakes.


Gingerbread, Chocolate Peppermint and Christmas Cookie are the flavors and all three come topped with whipped cream in an adorable penguin cup.  These are only available until January 3rd so plan a trip to the Shack soon to try out one of these special creations.  

Shake Shack
Available at all locations except the airport

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Black Friday!

Hope you find something Rare today :)




Goose Island

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Best Babka Ever- Green's Bakery

Each year I pick up a delicious cinnamon babka to bring for Thanksgiving morning.  Sometimes I buy it from Dean & Deluca, sometimes Russ & Daughters; this year I actually bought it from the new gourmet food shop and beer bar Mekelburgs.  It really doesn't matter where I buy it. They all get their babkas from the same exact place Green's & Ackermans bakery in Brooklyn.



These guys are the largest wholesaler of babka's in NYC and for good reason. The bread is light and airy with deep swirls of cinnamon and big sugar crystals scattered throughout that give a nice satisfying crunch.  It's a little sweet but not so much that it's mistaken for dessert (that comes in the form of pecan pie later) and is absolutely fabulous toasted up with a spread of butter.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Greens Bakery
Available in stores throughout the city.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spartan Souvlaki II

On my continuing quest to find the best gyro in the city I stopped into Spartan Souvlaki in Bayridge.   At first I wasn't even sure this tiny spot was open.  No one greeted me at the door and the open kitchen was empty.  Then I heard a big explosion of laughter and everyone (chefs, waitresses, etc.) came walking out of the back together.  I instantly felt the love between this crew and they welcomed me like a long lost friend.   


Instead of ordering just a classic Gyro I opted for the Gyro Salad filled with big juicy strips of lamb layered on top of lettuce, tomato, cucumber then drizzled with a light Greek vinaigrette and a flurry of crumbled feta cheese.  Being a lover of all things salad and gyro this was AMAZING!  If this place was in my neighborhood I would be eating here at least once a week.


The salad came with a side of pita bread and tzatziki sauce so I basically could make my own gyro if I really wanted.  For a quick, delicious meal (my food arrived within 5 minutes of ordering) and friendly service this is a seriously great spot in Bayridge.

Spartan Souvlaki II
8303 3rd Avenue at 83rd Street
Brooklyn, New York 11209

Monday, November 23, 2015

Brunch at The Gander

There's little in life that makes me happier than a beautiful pink drink and a delicious brunch; both of which were accomplished at The Gander.



Two pinks drinks to be exact.  A refreshing Raspberry Lemonade for Mr. T made with local raspberries & mint and the Itza Spritza for me with pisco, prosecco and raspberry syrup.



For brunch I ordered the Omelet with creamy cheddar cheese, mushroom and scallion while Mr. T went for southern fare with the Shrimp and Grits loaded up with smoked mushroom and crispy pork cracklings.



Everything was perfect. Food, drinks, service...Saturdays are just so much better with a delicious start :)

The Gander
15 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Friday, November 20, 2015

New Brew Friday- Grimm Tesserect

It's time for New Brew Friday and we're going local once again with Tesserect from husband and wife owned Grimm Artisanal Ales in Brooklyn. This is only the second can release from Grimm the first being a New Brew Friday back in September Afterimage.  


Tesserect is another Double IPA this time brewed with Mosaic, Flaconers Flight and Citra hops.  It pours a bright vibrant yellow, so bright it looks almost neon at first, with big citrus aromas of pineapple, peach and melon..  The first sip is like drinking a peach gummy; super fruity, super juicy with just a hint of pine on the end that smooths the flavor out.  It clocks in at 8% but the high carbonation and light body make this incredible drinkable.  Another stunner from Grimm and another big win for NYC brews.  Cheers!


Grimm Artisanal Ales
P.O. Box 150472
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Flavors of South Africa with Chef Benny

Celebrity Chef and Masterchef Judge Benny Maskwameng put on a fantastic lunch recently showcasing the flavors of South Africa; his first in the United States.  The meal was held downtown at the new IAC Brookfield and it almost felt like Chef Benny had been cooking there for years.  His infectious smile and booming personality were an absolute pleasure to watch as he created some of his favorite dishes like this Seafood Delight with tempura prawn tail, stuffed calamari, crayfish with avocado mayo and mussel with lemon-dill veloute.



Pan Seared Lamb Loin with red wine jus atop sugar beans, lentils and green peas with roasted butternut squash puree and potato croquettes.



And to finish a deconstructed Amarula Milk Tart with glazed fresh berries and a mixed berry sorbet.



Everything from the delightfully light avocado crayfish to the rich flavors of the lamb were incredible and that dessert...OMG.  It incorporated Amarula Liquor which is made from the exotic marula fruit found only on the plains of Africa.  The pulp is fermented into wine then distilled twice before aging in small oak barrels which impart a delicious vanilla, toasted almond flavor to the spirit.  It's amazing to use in tarts like the one above or as the main ingredient of a delicious cocktail.



I plan to make a frothy cinnamon Amarula apertif to complement the pecan pie at my Thanksgiving dinner this year. Cheers to Chef Benny for whipping up some egg whites into solid peaks in less than 2 minutes.  His charisma alone is the perfect excuse to get out and experience South Africa. Click on the link below for more on this amazing Chef and thanks to Tsogo Sun and South African Airways for an awesome event.

Tsogo Sun- Chef Benny

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Old Favorite at Danji

I don't make it up to Hell's Kitchen nearly enough as I should.  There are so many spots I still need to try out like Bar Bacon, The Marshal and of course Anejo from one of my favorite chefs Angelo Sosa.  Yet when I found myself in the area just yesterday I immediately gravitated to my old haunt Danji.  This cozy little spot churns out amazing Korean food like crunchy Fried Chicken Wings in both spicy and garlic honey flavors; the best Bulgogi Beef Sliders in the city and one of my favorite vegetarian plates of all time the Tofu with Ginger Scallion Dressing.


The tofu is lightly fried giving it a crispy warm exterior that gives way to such a silky smooth interior it can only be described as luxurious.  Then it's all topped off with slivers of jalapeno, crunchy tempura flakes and a sweet & salty soy vinaigrette.  This is an absolutely banging dish that I will  always find hard passing up.

Danji
346 West 52nd between 8th & 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Saratoga- The Merry Monk

Autumn is easily my favorite season of the year.  I love escaping NYC for a long hike in the woods to smell the crisp clean autumn air and check out the gorgeous leaves.  I usually head to Saratoga for a few days to soak in the season at it's gorgeous state park.  It also has a little downtown area with some cute bars and restaurants like The Merry Monk.


This lively little place isn't much to look at but what it lacks in decor it most certainly makes up for in the area of food and drink; specifically their Moules Frites.


Big bowls of steaming hot mussels in just about any flavor; Provencal with garlic, tomato and fried basil; Americana with bacon, blue cheese and shallots; Thai with red curry and coconut milk and of course the Classic a la Marienere with butter, white wine and garlic.  


Of course mussels always need frites like these long, skinny house cut fries served with a choice of dipping sauces including a creamy pesto mayo and a spicy ketchup.


Add on a few big Belgian beers from their incredible list and this was just about the perfect autumn escape meal.

The Merry Monk
84 Henry Street
Saratoga, NY 12866

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Brew Friday- Street Green

Today's New Brew Friday is the newest beer to roll out of Brooklyn's Other Half; Street Green an American IPA brewed in collaboration with Boston's Trillium Brewing. 


This beer pours a beautiful cloudy orange with just a tiny bit of foam that quickly dissipates.  Aromas of tangerine, mango and pineapple leap out of the glass.  The flavor is all tropical fruit; mango, tangerine, grapefruit and papaya with a super dry, dank, grassy finish that makes this beer incredibly crushable.  Being that both breweries are known for their exceptional IPA's the hype around this release was huge and I think they hit the mark by creating a really delicious beer.  The cans are all sold out but it's currently available on tap at the brewery and good beer bars around the city. Cheers to Friday!

Other Half
195 Centre Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Trillium Brewing
369 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Last Tastes of Summer in Cobble Hill

I love Marathon Sunday in NYC.  The entire city is just bursting with such excitement, positive energy and of course an insane amount of people.  I will never make the mistake of trying to watch near Central Park or the UES again. Now I always head to Brooklyn where endless police barricades and crowds ten people deep are nonexistent. The unusually warm weather this year also gave me the perfect excuse for one more al fresco dining experience at Bar Tabac.




This cozy Parisian bistro has been a Cobble Hill staple for years serving up a wonderful weekend brunch complete with jazz music inside and two seaters around the front perfect for enjoying the warm autumn breeze.  It was so nice outside I almost suggested a trip down the road to one of my favorite old school bars Zombie Hut. 


Mr. T and I had actually just been the week before when our "one quick drink" turned into one huge scorpion bowl.  There's just something so fun about that creaky old patio out back and big fruity cocktails; they make it easy to forget about anything else in life.



But instead we headed home to watch the runners cross the finish line from the comfort of home.  Congrats to everyone who ran this year!

128 Smith Street at Dean 
Brooklyn, NY 11201

273 Smith Street at Degraw
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lunch at The Nomad

Ahhhhh the wonderful Nomad Hotel. One of the few places in this city that has absolutely everything.  A gorgeous dining room and stunning bar, impeccable service and food so delicious I dream about it on a regular basis. I try to order something new each visit but sometimes I just want my favorites.



A warm herbal flatbread to begin studded with potato, onion and caraway seeds.


The amazing Carrot Tartare with micro greens, quail egg and rye crisps.  One of the first veggie dishes to blow my mind at Humm's Eleven Madison years ago...


...and their decadent Chicken Burger stuffed with foie gras and black truffle mayonnaise alongside a skillet of thin, crispy fries. 

1170 Broadway and 28th Street
New York, NY 10001

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chocolat Moderne & Solbeso

My favorite chocolatier in the city just released two brand new chocolates; one using the incredible cacao liquor Solbeso.


This isn't one of those sickeningly sweet chocolate flavored liqueurs. It's more like a cross between tequila and rum made from the fruity pulp surrounding the cacao bean which has bright tropical flavors of lemon and mango with nutty pecan undertones.



Given it's bright lemony flavor this is wonderful on it's own but I enjoy it most in an herbal cocktail like a Rosemary Solbeso gimlet with a twist of blackberry.


Chocolat Moderne has infused this spirit into their new Dessert Island bar; a delicious milk chocolate square filled with a creamy caramel of pineapple, mango, passion fruit, lemongrass and of course Solbeso.  



It's part of their Avant- Garde series which includes a few of my favorites like the Peanut Pizzazz and Smoked Sea Salt along with holiday season specialties like this dark chocolate Pumpkin Pie filled with a thick milk ganache of pumpkin puree and pie spices.  These artsy bars are the perfect gift for the chocolate and liquor lover in your life.

Solbeso


27 West 20th Street #904
New York, NY 10011

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Amali Mou

For some reason it's almost impossible to find an awesome gyro in Manhattan.  There are a ton of places that claim to have one but usually I end up with some kind of street meat grease bomb instead of the perfectly spiced, meaty sandwich I can get out in Queens (love you always Avli). But now finally I've found one that's a contender...the Chicken Gyro from Amali Mou. 


Located inside the brand new Urbanspace Vanderbilt simply look for the insanely long line at lunch time (Delaney Chicken) and instead hop in line right next door at Amali Mou.  They offer three different gyros and two salads along with an array of sides.  My go-to is the Chicken Gyro with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion and two of my favorite things in the world tzatziki sauce and french fries.



This sandwich is jammed filled with so much goodness; the chicken has an awesome char from the grill and the pita itself has the perfect chew in the middle and crisp outer edges.  My only small quibble is that the chunks of chicken are so big it's a bit unruly to eat but otherwise insanely delicious.

Amali Mou
Urbanspace Vanderbilt

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Padoca

I was wandering around the Upper East Side and stumbled across this incredibly cute new bakery called Padoca right on the corner of 68th Street.  They had a great mix of both sweet and savory items like fluffy Egg & Cheese Brioche, thick Brazilian French and cheese filled Empanada's.  Of course I went straight for something sweet their signature Rocky Road Cookie.


The dough was super soft with slivers of milk chocolate and walnuts studding the inside and big fluffy orange marshmallows on top just for Halloween.  Cookie perfection!

Padoca Bakery
359 East 68th Street
New York, NY 10065

Monday, November 2, 2015

Star Chefs ICC Wrap Up

Star Chef's celebrated it's 10th anniversary this year and the event was better than ever.  The wealth of talent inside the Brooklyn Expo Center over these three days was stunning and it was great to see so many chefs in action from Chef Quique Dacosta in Spain to Chef Lee Wolen in Chicago.  Here's a few takeaways from the event:

  • Pisco is finally getting some serious love.  PromPeru had a booth for all three days showcasing both Barsol Pisco and Macchu Pisco along with some incredible Peruvian food. I just love how versatile this spirit can be from the classic Pisco Sour to more elaborate drinks like the Falling South a blend of pisco, pumpkin, agave nectar and Lumos spice elixir.
  • Seminars like "How to Pay Your Chef $15 an Hour" were jam packed.  Everywhere I went there was discussion around Danny Meyer's no tipping policy and what it could possibly mean for the industry moving forward. People seemed hopeful about this change and creating a more stable, friendly work environment. 

  • New York NY!  Obviously the event being in Brooklyn means New York was front and center but the two bars dedicated to only NY ingredients were churning out seriously amazing drinks. Hudson Baby Bourbon and Stillhouse Rye were just two of the indie spirits among a whole host of amazing locals making a splash.  Add in the exploding NYC craft beer scene and incredible cider program at places like Wassail; NYC is truly the place to be.
  • Great people.  Seriously this is a tough industry and it requires a lot of hard work.  A restaurant won't survive without a solid team to support it.  The guys from Fossil Farms were a great example of this incredible teamwork.  Every day they were cooking up amazing food while laughing, making jokes and just having a good time with each other.  
That's it- another great Star Chef''s conference...until next year!