Thursday, March 31, 2016

Philly- Butcher and Singer

Dinner Friday night was at Butcher & Singer a gorgeous steakhouse decked out in the decor of Old Hollywood.  It felt a little bit like dining on the set of Mad Men with big plush booths  and whimsical paintings on the wall of dogs playing poker.

We had been eating all day long so we decided to skip an entire round of appetizers and simply share a salad to start, the only thing green we'd had in the last 24 hours.

Of course a Wedge Salad isn't healthy at all, loaded up with big chunks of blue cheese, egg and squares of bacon; screw healthy this was delicious.

Mr. T ordered the classic Delmonico, perfectly charred with a thick salty crust on the outside and juicy red center.

The Filet Mignon was just as wonderful, not as much outer char but an insanely soft buttery texture that was almost like cutting into a piece of tuna sashimi.

For sides a big bowl of Creamed Spinach (more greens?)...

...and the Stuffed Hash Brown, a HUGE shredded potato with crispy fried exterior and a cheesy melted center.

For dessert we went old school with the classic Baked Alaska; a layer of sponge cake topped with rich banana ice cream and a big toasted meringue.  They even wrote a little birthday message on the plate for my brother.

We were all pretty blown away by Butcher and Singer.  The steaks were fantastic, some of the best we've ever had at a steakhouse and the service and decor were phenomenal. I would happily return here again my next visit to Philadelphia.

1500 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Philly- DiNic's & Sonnys

After downing our coffee and doughnuts for the morning we took off for Reading Terminal to explore some of the food stalls and more specifically have a sandwich at DiNic's.

This family run sandwich shop has been around forever and currently holds the title of "Best Sandwich in America" from the Travel Channel.  The small menu includes Roast Beef, Meatball and Italian Sausage but the fan favorite is definitely the Roast Pork with sharp provolone cheese and broccoli rabe.

The combination of bitter greens, funky cheese and rich juicy pork all on a great crusty roll is amazing.  Ask for an extra dip in au jus to completely seal in all the fabulous flavors. 

After Reading Terminal we walked over to the historic district and did some touring around; trying to burn off a few calories before our second sandwich of the day- the classic Philly Cheesesteak.  Before coming to Philly my brother mentioned that he really wanted to try one.  I assumed he meant finally trying a Philly classic but it turns out he had never had a cheesesteak in his ENTIRE LIFE!  You can totally judge him- we did.

So instead of going to one of the terrible and touristy Pat or Geno's we stopped into Sonny's; a neighborhood burger and cheesesteak joint just blocks from the Liberty Bell. We went with one classic beef with Cheese Whiz and onion...

...and one Mr. T style; no onion with provolone.  

The meat was chopped fresh, tender and while the provolone should have been placed a bit more evenly throughout the 2nd sandwich these were both legit deliciousness.  Two sandwiches down; now off for some chocolate and beers before dinner. 

Reading Terminal Market

228 Market Street
Philidelphia, PA 19106

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Philly- Federal Doughnuts

We did a LOT of eating on Friday.  I probably didn't need to start the day stuffing my face full of hot carbs but when Federal Doughnuts is only two blocks away, it's impossible to pass up.

We started with a few of the "fancy" doughnuts; the classic Old Fashioned Glazed and Milk and Coffee being the favorites of that group; before moving on to the "hot & fresh" doughnuts in Vanilla Spice and Cinnamon Sugar.

The fancy doughnuts are always available but the hot and fresh take about a 5 minute wait and it's completely worth every second. There's something utterly glorious about a piping hot doughnut fresh from the fryer.  The sugar crystals all start melting into the dough as they fall apart...good lord it's just fantastic! These paired with a Black and White draft coffee from Colombe and the day is off to a great start.

Federal Doughnuts
1632 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Monday, March 28, 2016

Philly- Pumpkin Restaurant

Mr. T and I trekked to Philadelphia this weekend for two jam packed days of food, beer and basketball to celebrate my brother's birthday.  We arrived Thursday night and headed right to one of Philly's longest running and best known BYOB spots Pumpkin. 

This cozy little place was at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement when it opened 11 years ago and continues to focus on local and seasonal ingredients.  We began with a Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes and a few appetizers to share; Spanish Rock Octopus with squid ink, citrus and couscous.

Crispy Sweetbreads with spinach, roasted grapes and Yellowfoot mushrooms

Beef Tartare with kohlrabi kimchee and black garlic

I absolutely loved the sweet, funky flavor of the black garlic in the beef tartare while Mr. T foodgasmed over the decadent sweetbreads.  All three of the appetizers were excellent.  We finished the Riesling and moved onto a bottle of Pinot Noir for our entrees.

Teres Major Steak with red wine, confit potato and escarole

Striped Bass with turnip, shiitake mushrooms, bacon and curley cress

The broth for the bass was amazing; the bacon and mushroom created this deep smoky, umami flavor that somehow intensified with each bite.

Dessert was a perfect Sticky Toffee Pudding with coffee ice cream and a chocolate peanut butter Pot De Creme paired with Last Snow; a white chocolate coconut Porter from Funky Buddha Brewery.

Pumpkin was the perfect kickoff to our food weekend.  The tiny space never felt crowded, just comfortable and the food and service were on point.  This is another Philly BYOB gem.

1713 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Friday, March 25, 2016

New Brew Friday- J Wakefield DFPF

This rainy weather today has me thinking back to the sunny skies of Tampa two weeks ago and one of my favorite beers from this year's Hunaphu fest J Wakefield's DFPF.

DFPD stands for Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit; a shockingly bright pink Berliner Weisse that turns heads whenever it's on tap.  The mouthfeel is light and bubbly with the sweet candied aromas of passionfruit taking over the nose.  The flavor is tons and tons of freshly peeled dragonfruit with a touch of lemon zest.   The passion fruit comes in on the end creating a nice balance which is much more tart and refreshing than sour. This 3.5% beer is just perfect for drinking in the Florida sunshine- Cheers!

120 NW 24th Street
Miami, FL 33127

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Maroni Cuisine- Northport

There's little in life I enjoy more than a long leisurely lunch with friends and my favorite one yet just occurred at Maroni's in Northport Long Island.

This cozy little restaurant pretty much defines the term "quirky".  The 20 seat space felt like both a smoky cafe in Paris and an Italian mothers kitchen with a smattering of rock band memorabilia adorning the walls to confuse patrons even more.  I still don't understand the idea behind the decor but somehow during the meal I learned to love the eclectic setting.

Maroni's serves strictly a chef's tasting menu, no a la carte.  Simply state any allergies or special requests and sit back for about 25 small courses to be brought to the table one by one.  Our meal began with thick slices of bacon topped with Peter Luger sauce, a Brussels Sprout Cesar Salad, Shrimp Scampi and an incredible Sea Bass Scallopini tossed with breadcrumbs and lemon.

A delicious array of Tuna Tartare & Spicy Tuna Rolls came next before transitioning to a plate of Wagyu Beef Sliders with tater tots, a juicy Korean Short Rib and a rich cup of Lobster Bisque soup with cognac. 

One of my favorite "bites" of the night were definitely the Billion Dollar Chips with cavier...

...but then the mini shellfish platter arrived with oysters, shrimp and king crab legs and I was completely smitten.

So many more courses came out from the kitchen; Chicken Dumplings with soy, Veal Scallopini and a gorgeous Black Truffle Ravioli to name a few.  Of course their famous meatballs made an appearance; light as air with a fresh pomodoro sauce and parmesean cheeese.  Then three different desserts  Chipwich Sandwiches, a creamy Creme Brulee and a S'mores Pudding. 

The total cost for this entire meal during the winter months was $85 per person and this is with all drinks included.  Three different wines, beers, coffee, etc.  And believe me they never stopped pouring even for a second.  Maroni's was incredible- delicious food, nice service and just a great place to spend a few hours catching up with friends. We had such a great time we've already decided to make this an annual event.

18 Woodbine Avenue
Northport, New York 11763

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Two Incredible Reds from Andrea Scovero

I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Andrea Scovero at Eataly last month; a winemaker known for his dedication to crafting small production wines completely by hand and focusing on the nature of the land to "paint" and create.   

All of his wines are lovely but I suggest Barbera D'Asti Ciapin; the late harvest grapes create bold dark fruit flavors that are incredibly lush or the Il Clown Nebbiolo; a favorite of the world's best restaurants like Copenhagen's Noma for its powerful yet elegant body and distinct floral flavor. These slightly esoteric wines are a true delight to find- Salute!

Eataly Vino
5th Avenue at 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Bar Room at American Cut

Happy Hours and Hamburgers; two of my favorite things in the world and they both come together in one perfect little package at Marc Forgione's American Cut.   Every day at 4:20 PM American Cut tweets out the number of burgers available in the bar; usually between 10-15 a day. The burgers go fast so getting an early spot is a must which means partaking in their incredible happy hour well.

A menu of $5 wines, half priced Old Fashioned's and a small selection of appetizers including chili lobster Chicken Wings and $1 oysters are available from 5:00- 7:00 each day.

It would be incredibly easy to make a meal of happy hour alone but don't skip out on the off-menu burger. Short rib, brisket and dry aged rib eye are blended together then piled high with beer cheese and bourbon caramelized onions resulting in a  juicy, funky burger that's absolutely incredible. 

The fries are more of an afterthought.  They're long and skinny but lack the crispness of a good fry and come stuffed inside a terrible house-made ketchup (CAN WE PLEASE STOP THE HOUSE-MADE KETCHUP TREND).  But that's okay the burger is more than filling and once those glorious juices start seeping into the big fluffy bun all thoughts about bad ketchup seem like a distant dream.  

The low lighting of the bar area and comfy seats make it a great place for a date or simply an early evening with friends.  Sleek, sexy, delicious and surprisingly affordable; this is the bar room at American Cut.  

363 Greenwich between Franklin & Harrison Street
New York, NY 10013

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Iced Coffee of My Dreams

The title pretty much says it all.  This is the end all be all of Iced Coffee drinks and it can only be found at Gaddy Lane.  This pop up/catering spot is best known for their amazing combination sandwiches like the Weekend Lover with Grilled Eggplant, tamarind BBQ and toasted cashews or the Virtuous Yenta which combines "pastrami spiced" beets, horseradish mayo, cucumber and dill.   But my absolute favorite creation is their Iced Coconut Coffee.

I'm a bit obsessed with coconut in my drinks (coconut flavored stouts especially) so it would only make sense to find this amazing coffee available at Other Half beer releases.  It's rich and frothy with such big bold coconuts notes I have to close my eyes with each sip to ensure nothing else distracts me from that intense creamy flavor.  This little place has actually made waiting in a long line simply delightful- thanks Gabby Lane!

Gaddy Lane

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Greenwich Project

It's crazy to think how the little block of 8th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue has transformed over the past few years.  The former shoe district only has about one or two stores left and in their place a slew of restaurants and bars have popped like the wonderful Greenwich Project.  Housed in a 2 story townhouse the space has both a sleek downstairs cocktail bar and a more refined dining area upstairs with soft banquets and elegant chandeliers.

The menu is a mix of French, Mediterranean and American inspiration with lots of great apps to share like warm crispy Tallegio Croutons drizzled with white honey truffle...

...and a small raw menu including Chilled Maine Lobster, Crab Legs and Tuna Tartare served inside a crispy tapioca crackers with a citrus soy dressing.

Entrees include meat-centric dishes like Cote de Boeuf for two and Amish Chicken but the seafood dishes are what really shine here.  The Local Fluke with spinach, oyster mushroom and truffle bacon had such incredible depth while the Bone in Tuna Steak wowed the table with its rich meaty flavor and delicate texture.

Along with a short but well appointed wine list the cocktails are not to be missed.

I really enjoyed the Redwood with Bourbon, Blackberry Cinnamon Shrub and Lime Juice (although there could have been a touch more bourbon and a touch less juice)

...and the Pawnee with pisco, lemon, honey syrup, fig bitters and egg white.  This is a great place to hang with some friends and share a few plates right in the heart of Greenwich Village.

47 West 8th Street at 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tacqueria Diana

Taco joints are a dime a dozen but until recently finding one with actually good food was a bit of a challenge.  Luckily in the past few years newcomers like Dos Toros, Empellon Cocina and now Tacqueria Diane have really changed the Mexican food scene of the city.  This tiny little spot in the East Village churns out some incredible tacos and super thin crispy nachos.

I especially love the Al Pastor; rich tender meat seasoned with just a bit of hot sauce, shredded lettuce, roasted pineapple and a flurry of cotija cheese.  Taco awesomeness at its' finest.

Tacqueria Diana
129 2nd Avenue at 8th Street
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lunch at Till and Sprocket

The Madison Square Garden area is slowly moving away from the food wasteland it once was with places like The Pennsy, Lupulo and now Till and Sprocket popping up with some serious lunch game.  I walked by this place about ten times thinking it was just a cafe but surprisingly they serve a full lunch and dinner menu in a large back area with ample seating for big parties.  

The menu includes an array of house made salads, pizzas and sandwiches like Egg & Avocado, Chicken Melt and this Roast Turkey Breast on sourdough bread. This was packed with thick juicy tomatoes, arugula and melted Swiss cheese then topped with an incredible herb mayo.  It was a bit more expensive than your average deli sandwich, around $10 total, but the fresh artisan ingredients make it completely worth the extra bucks.

Till and Sprocket
140 West 30th Street at 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

S'Mores Ice Cream Cake from Parm

Please don't be put off by the crazy flurry of chocolate crunchies scattered across this cake. Things got a little jumbled as I carried this home but I assure you there were no crunchies lost in transit.  This is the incredible S'more Ice Cream Cake from Parm in SOHO.

Most people are familiar with the original Pistachio, Chocolate and Strawberry cake (always a classic) but I prefer the insanity of the S'more with layers of Toasted Marshmallow, Chocolate and Graham Cracker Ice Cream layered with rich chocolate crunchies, a toasted marshmallow on top and a graham cracker crumble crust.  

This is the perfect marriage of everything I love in life...which I why I shared with Mr. T for our anniversary.  One great marriage deserves another :)

248 Mulberry Street at Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The International Restaurant & Foodservice Show

The International Restaurant and Foodservice show returned to the Javits Center this Sunday for three full days of food panels, culinary demonstrations and exhibitions showcasing current food trends in the industry.

Taste NY had its own special pavilion pouring beer from Sixpoint, Ommegang and 212 in addition to  wine from Dr. Frank Konstantin.  I always enjoyed their Dry Riesling but I had no idea they produced such incredible sparklers.  I absolutely fell in love with the Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.  

Over in the spirits section I found another surprising love Pitorro Coquito from Port Morris Distillery in the Bronx.  Pitorro is a potent moonshine usually found throughout homes in Puerto Rico. Owner Rafael Barbosa persuaded his uncle to bring his recipe to NYC and together they have come out with a line of three different Pitorro's.  The classic cane sugar Pitorro Shine, an Anejo aged in wood barrels and the Coquito; a shockingly delicious blend of cinnamon and coconut that pays homage to the traditional coconut cream holiday drink without the heaviness.

Another local spirit making quite a splash was the New York Honey Whiskey.  This 80 proof Rye infused with late summer honey from the Catskill Mountains has the smooth sweet flavors of toffee and vanilla with a lingering smoky finish.

Sunday happened to be the 27th Annual US Pastry Competition hosted by Paris Gourmet. Chefs from all over the country competed for Pastry Chef of the Year by sculpting chocolate showpieces along the theme Magic & Illusions.

In addition to all of the incredible specialty stations I loved just seeing all of my favorite shops in one place like the perfect desserts from La Maison du Macaron and one of the biggest surprises of the whole show Charlie The Butcher!

This guy is an absolute legend in the city of Buffalo serving up the best Beef on Weck around for over four generations.  What a treat to have the original right here in NYC. 

Jacob Javits Center
35th and 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10001