Monday, February 29, 2016

Back to Upstate

I've been eating oysters nonstop since our return from Boston and the incredible Row 34.  One of my first stops back in NYC was Upstate where the fabulous oysters went so quickly I couldn't even get a picture.  But we were with friends which was a great excuse to also share some new dishes like the Crab Cakes.

 Crispy outside, grease free and accompanied by an arugula salad dressed with habanero honey. spicy sweet addiction has found another love.

I highly recommend the trout if it's on the special board; dressed with a light citrus sauce glaze that gave just the perfect amount of acidity to the fish.

Of course the Seared Scallops with mushroom risotto is always worth an order.  This restaurant is so spot on and guess what...they just opened up a new place right around the block with more seating, more seafood and online reservations.  Welcome Edwin & Neals to the hood!

Upstate NY
95 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Edwin and Neals
345 East 6th Street
New York, NY 10003

Friday, February 26, 2016

New Brew Friday- A Flight of Grimm

It's been a fantastic NYC Beer Week; possibly the best one yet with incredible events all over town like the Grimm tap takeover at St. Gambrinus this past Monday.  

Maple Bourbon Barrel Double Negative, Lambo Door, Subliminal Message, Lumen and Super Spruce were all on tap creating a rainbow of incredible flavors and colors.  There's still a whole weekend of awesome beer events left so get out there and check out the incredible NYC beer scene- Cheers!

NYC Beer Week

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Best of Italy

Winter is an amazing time for Italian wine in NYC.  January always kicks off with incredible Benvenuto Brunello event at Gotham Hall.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of the famous Brunello di Montalcino DOC and the 2011 vintage was unveiled from over 40 different wineries along with the 2010 Riserva, Rosso and Moscadello.

Of course coming after arguably the greatest vintage of Brunello ever the 2011 falls a little short. It doesn't have that rich powerful complexity of 2010; rather a softer, fruitier wine that actually makes it accessible for just about any palate. On the heels of Benvenuto came Italian Wine week with Vinitaly International and Tre Biccieri events.

I was really surprised by the intensity of the Mirabella Saten made from 100% Chardonnay and the Demetra which had a strange yeasty aroma that I've never had in a Prosecco before...

...and the gorgeous Severus (no affiliation with Harry Potter) from Podere Marcampo made from 100% Sangiovese aged in French Oak barrels for one year.  If I ever make it to Volterra their restaurant Del Duca is at the very top of my dining list.

And once again beer made an appearance this year from Birrifico San Michele.  They brought three different brews a chestnut beer Norma, a pale ale Carmen and Aida a smokey, rauchbier perfect for pairing with Italian cured meats.

The Tre Biccieri event was filled with hundreds of amazing wines with a heavy emphasis on prosecco like the Ca'del Bosco a sparkling blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco with a lovely toasted almond and vanilla flavor...

...and of course all of the wonderful sparkling's from Ruggeri.  So many wonderful wines and so many great producer; these events are always - Salute!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lunch at Hatsuhana

Hatsuhana is one of NYC's longest running sushi restaurants.  It opened in 1976 and over the past four decades their mission has remained the same; creating the perfect sushi rice and obtaining the freshest fish from around the globe.  My last meal was at the Park Avenue location about four years ago so this visit was way overdue.  I stopped in at right around noon and the space was already filled with a mix of business men and women from the surrounding area.  Luckily I was able to get the last seat at the upstairs sushi bar and ordered the Sushi Lunch which comes with 5 pieces of sushi, choice of two rolls and miso soup or salad.

I ordered a Spicy Tuna and Yellowtail Scallion roll, then requested no salmon due to my allergy which was happily accommodated with another piece of luscious tuna.

The fish was served on a long Hawaiian Ti Leaf, expertly cut by the chef's behind the bar and so incredibly tender certain pieces seemed to melt.  This was some of the freshest sushi I've had in the city and the simple comfortable setting allowed the entire experience to be just about the fish.  Hatsuhana continues to be one of the top sushi resturants in NYC- 40 years and going strong.

17 East 48th Street at Madison
New York, NY 10017

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Truffle Burger at Umami

The first time I ate at Umami Burger the glorious truffle aroma from my neighbor's burger almost caused me to fall off my bar stool. I had already ordered the standard Umami Burger (which was excellent) but oh I wanted that truffle burger so badly.  I can't believe it's been so long but Mr. T and I finally stopped in last week so I could have my truffle moment.

The burger arrived on their standard Portuguese Roll, toasted with just a touch of butter and of course the Umami stamp on top.  All their burgers are cooked medium rare (more towards rare then medium) but the truffle burger also has truffle aioli, truffle cheese and a truffle glaze on top bringing this into supreme truffle burger status.

The combination of juicy burger, sauce and melted cheese made this such a messy burger I was thankful to only be eating with Mr. T.  Deep down I didn't care though; a messy face would be completely worth it for this magnificent truffle bomb.  Mr. T tried a bite and found the flavor too rich (he's not a truffle fiend like me) but was more than happy with the standard Umami Burger.

We skipped the truffle fries (that would have been truffle overland) and got the standard which are always crisp and delicious.  Besides their homemade ketchup (which I despise) this continues to be a quick, affordable meal in Greenwich Village that always delivers.

432 6th Avenue at 10th Street
New York, NY 10011

Friday, February 19, 2016

NYC Beer Week 2016

Today marks the kickoff for the 8th annual NYC Beer Week!  It's absolutely amazing to think of all that's happened over these last eight years.  When this began there were only a handful of NYC breweries like Kelso, Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint.  Now the city is absolutely booming with local beers from the likes of Finback, Other Half, Threes and Third Rail; and the list just keeps getting bigger each day.  There are so many incredible events scheduled. Here's a few of my picks for the week:

Saturday February 20th

  • A Taste of Hill Farmstead at Fool's Gold- So the very first event I'm really excited about just happens to be with beers from our neighbor to the northeast.  Although these may not be local, the beer community is all about supporting each other so that's okay in my book.  Fools Gold will have 15 taps dedicated to this amazing Vermont brewery including rarities like Madness & Solitude, Ephraim and Shirley Mae.
  • Barrier/Other Half/Threes Total Tap Destruction at One Mile House- Three of the biggest names in NYC beer will be taking over the taps at One Mile House with fantastic beers like Barrier Money and Threes Superf**kingyawn. Come for the incredible local brews and stick around for the BBQ Pork Poutine and delicious Angry Bird sandwich.
Sunday February 21th
  • Fried Chicken & Doughnuts brunch at The Redhead- One of the best places for fried chicken in the city is teaming up with Other Half and Underwest Doughnuts for a morning of delicious brews and fantastic food.
Monday February 22nd
  • Grimm Night at St. Gambrinus- One of my favorite after work bars will be tapping Grimm's newest releases including Lambo Door, Lumen and Maple Bourbon Double Negative.  It's a great opportunity to check out these popular beers and meet local Brewers Joe and Lauren Grimm in house.
Wednesday February 24th
  • Brewers Choice-  Dozens of great breweries from across NY state come together for an evening of beer tasting, food sampling and music.  This is a great night to check out lots of NY brewers all under one roof and quite possibly the biggest and best event of NYC Beer Week. Tickets can be purchased here.
  • NYC Beer Week at Haymaker Bar & Kitchen-  If you can't make it out to Brooklyn for Brewers Choice another option is Haymaker in Manhattan.  This new bar will be tapping rare stouts like Perennial Abraxas, Alesmith Hawaiian Speedway and one of my favorite beers from Extreme Beer Fest Finback  BQEXC.
Saturday February 27th
  • Peche Day at Spuyten Duyvil- Six different variations of Peche Mortel, an intense coffee stout from Montreal's famous brewery Dieu du Ciel will be showcased.
So many fantastic events to choose from it's going to be an incredible week in NYC.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Boston- Jm Curley

Our last day in Boston was spent at the Seaport World Trade Center for Session II of Extreme Beer Fest.  It was our first time at this festival and while it didn't quite reach the greatness of Copenhagen Beer Celebration or the insanity of Hunahpu Day; it was a fun, well run event with lots of great beers and great people.  The session ended right around 4:00 so we hopped in a cab and went straight to Jm Curleys, hoping to find a burger that would actually satisfy our craving from the day before.

We both ordered the 5 oz Griddled Burger dressed with grilled onions, cheddar cheese, pop's Russian dressing and pickles.  There's nothing fancy going on here just simple goodness; an insanely juicy patty with big beefy flavor, great toppings and a soft toasted bun perfect for keeping everything together.  We absolutely demolished these.

The Mac & Cheese was also delicious; cooked in a cast iron skillet giving the edges a crisp bubbly exterior while keeping the middle hot and creamy.

Jm Curley had some great beer on the draft list like Maine Lunch and Hoponious Union but after a beerfest like that I was feeling something crisp and easy.  Ta-Da...the champagne of beers!  It was a great lunch to cap off the weekend before heading back to NYC.

Jm Curley
21 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Boston- The Townsman

Friday afternoon Mr. T and I headed to the Townsman for lunch.  Their burger had made it onto quite a few "Best Burger" lists and the sprawling windows of the brasserie seemed like the perfect place to watch the continuing snow storm.

We split a few appetizers to begin, a tasty Little Gem Wedge with country ham, blue cheese, tomato and vinegar...

...and a rich velvety Squash Soup studded with toasted pecans and pumpkin seeds.  We had high hopes for the burger after such a great start but unfortunately we found it to be just strange.

The bun was hard.  It was listed on the menu as a potato roll but it had absolutely no fluffy texture and no subtle sweetness. The meat looked to be cooked a perfect medium rare yet it lacked any juiciness, any real flavor.  The only thing I tasted was the strange pepper-jack cheese schmeared on top and the odd coating of paprika and star anise on the fries.  It was a disjointed medley of ingredients we both found incredibly unsatisfying. 

Luckily the cocktails, apps and service were all great.  The Cider Shrub with vodka, cider reduction and black salt was one of the best drinks I've had so far this year and certainly something I would come back for on our next visit to Boston.

120 Kingston Street
Boston, MA 02111

Monday, February 15, 2016

Boston- Flour Bakery

As I trekked my way through the snowstorm towards Trillium I realized the brewery didn't open for 15 more minutes.  Just enough time to stop into nearby Flour Bakery to warm up with a coffee.

Of course caffeine was just an excuse to check out the baked goods at Flour like Sour Cream Coffee Cake with brown sugar cinnamon swirl, fluffy Brioche filled with pastry cream, Mint Chocolate Oreo Cookies.  Everything looked incredible but it was the famous Sticky Buns that stole my heart.

Chef Joanne Chang beat Bobby Flay in a throw-down challenge with these buns and it's easy to see why. The dough was sweet and buttery studded with cinnamon sugar, honey and toasted pecans then covered with a thick dark caramel sauce on top and even more nuts.  It was ridiculously big, insanely sticky and quite frankly delicious.  A big winner in every way.

Flour Bakery
12 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210

Friday, February 12, 2016

New Brew Friday- Trillium Congress Street

My first stop in Boston Friday morning was a treacherous 20 minute walk from our hotel to Trillium Brewery. Huge flakes of thick heavy snow were falling at an alarming rate. By the time I crossed the Fort Point Channel my face was streaming with tears from the wind and I was covered in fresh white powder.  I looked like a walking snowman.  All this to pick up 12 bottles of Trillium's flagship beer Congress Street. 

This American IPA pours a hazy orange with a thick frothy white head that clings to the glass creating a beautiful lacing.  Big tropical fruits dominate the aroma; orange, pineapple, peach and mango with an incredible balance of fruit and pine flavors.  Super juicy up front with a clean bitter finish and a crazy bubbly yet creamy mouthfeel.  I'm a huge fan of Galaxy hops and this beer is pretty close to perfection.  I would gladly walk through another blizzard to have these bottles in my fridge.  Cheers! 

Trillium Brewing
369 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Boston- Row 34

It's so wonderful to find a restaurant while traveling that just feels like a place to call home. In Copenhagen it was Manfred's and Vin, London J. Sheekey, Philadelphia the sadly departed Matyson and now Row 34 in Boston.  As soon as I saw their mantra I knew I was in love "If we could eat oysters and drink beer for every meal period, we probably would."  Well of course!

Let's talk about these oysters; so plump and fresh with a gorgeous vinaigrette.  I must have sucked down at least two dozen of these beauties while we were visiting. And oysters are just a tiny part of their incredible raw bar, there's also Scallop Crudo with black sesame and chili oil...

An entire section of Smoked & Cured Fish including this incredible smoked Uni Toast...

...and one insanely delicious Lobster Roll chock full of meat served warm with butter. 

We loved this place so much we had dinner and drinks Thursday night around 9:00 and were back again by 5:00 the next day ordering more incredible seafood into the wee hours of the night.  And let's talk about that beer list; The Bruery So Happens It's Tuesday, Trillium Pot & Kettle Medium Roast and Omnipollo Ras Soft Citra were just a few of the incredible brews on their list.

And of course the ridiculously rich, creamy Butterscotch Pudding with puffed rice perfect for closing out the night. 

383 Congress Street
Boston, MA 02210 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gotham Bar and Grill

I don't know what there is to say about Gotham that I haven't said already.  It's easily one of my favorite places in the city to relax over a long leisurely lunch.

 I'm absolutely in love with their Mushroom Salad; a blend of kale, arugula and frisée dotted with toasted hazelnuts, parmigiana cheese and a sweet white balsamic vinaigrette.

The crispy Chicken Breast is right up there among the city's best with a perfectly seasoned crust, ultra tender inside all dressed in a whole grain mustard sauce with roasted winter vegetables.

And of course every meal at Gotham needs to end with their signature Chocolate Cake served warm and decadent with a dollop of salted almond ice cream and chocolate crunchies.

12 East 12th Street at University
New York, NY 10003

Monday, February 8, 2016

Happy Hour at Naples 45

One of the biggest gripes I have about working in midtown are the insane prices for an average lunch.  I've walked out of numerous different delis with a $13 sandwich in hand wondering what in the world just happened.  It's hard to find any deals in this area but when I hold off just a little bit longer for lunch I head to Naples 45.

Every day at 2:00 Naples drops the price of slices to-go to just $1.75.  This means ALL slices; pepperoni, mushroom and broccoli rabe, red pepper and sausage; whatever is leftover from the lunch rush gets the special price tag.

The pizza isn't life changing but it's damn good.  Super thin crust with a slightly charred bottom and fresh ingredients.  They do struggle a bit with consistency. I've had pieces so cheesy I could barely see the dough while others have had almost no toppings at all. However simply pointing to the exact slice I want from the display has worked beautifully and it's been easy street ever since.

200 Park Avenue @45th Street
New York, NY 10166

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Momofuku Nishi

Dinner Saturday night was at Momofuku Nishi; the brand new Korean Italian spot from Chef David Chang.  Obviously getting a table was no easy task.   At 6:00 pm the restaurant was already at full capacity and a line had formed around the block just for a chance on the waiting list.  We hung out at nearby Bar Veloce and about two hours (and two bottles of wine) later we finally got the "table ready" text.

The space at Nishi is similar to the original Momofuku with simple wooden tables in front and a long bar along the back end.  This isn't a place to marvel at decor; it's all about the food coming out of the kitchen helmed by Chef Josh Pinsky and Carey Hynes. 

The meal began with a flashback to our dinner at Ko years ago with a bowl of Fried Whole Shrimp, meant to be eaten with both the head and shell intact, seasoned with salt and sancho pepper.  

Next up Black Bass Crudo in tiger's milk and shio kombu.  I love a well made tiger's milk and this was perfect...refreshing smooth with just the right amount of acidity. Onto the pasta dishes Spicy Beef Sichuan flat noodle with tofu and yacai.

I absolutely loved the texture of the beef and hot spicy peppers in this dish.  It was a complete contrast to the crudo and really set the stage for the intensity of flavors which would come over the next two courses.

Chicken & Dumplings with hand torn noodles and shiitake.  Good lord this was soooo thick and rich.  The mushroom broth was like one incredible umami bomb that just kept going. Our entire table was silent upon tasting this dish; the elements so all consuming it was difficult to gather any external thoughts.

The final pasta of the night was the Ceci e Pepe with chickpea hozen and black pepper. The Parmesan cheese had been replaced by the fermented chickpea paste creating a subtly sweet, buttery flavor that was outstanding.  As full as I was at this point I longed for another bowl, maybe even two.

Of course Nishi being so new there were a few hiccups here and there.  The beers were poured with the vigor of a frat boy during a Flip Cup tournament and the Panna Cotta dessert was oddly unset.

However the deep nutty sweetness of the Pistachio Bundt Cake and the genius Limoncello Slushie made up for those small quibbles and we left excited and already planning our return trip.   

Momofuku Nishi is currently open for dinner 7 days a week and reservations just became available on their website 15 days in advance.

232 8th Avenue between 21st & 22nd
New York, NY 10010

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tastes of Doughnut Plant Japan

The tastes of Japan are currently taking over the menu at Doughnut Plants around the city in all kinds of wonderful creations.

There are five different flavors: Black Sesame, Green Tea, Shiso, Azuki & Kinako and Yuzu all available as the big fluffy yeast doughnuts, the more compact cake doughnuts or the stuffed doughseeds. 

We checked out the Black Sesame and Yuzu doughseed in addition to our regular Creme Brulee order.  All three were covered in a thick delicious glaze then stuffed full with sour yuzu cream, rich black sesame and creamy custard.

All three were delicious but the yuzu stole my heart.  Ahhhh...Mornings that begin with Doughnut Plant can never be bad. 

Various locations throughout NYC