Thursday, September 29, 2016

Walkers Tribeca

People are always asking me to recommend the "perfect" NYC spot.  Something comfortable but classy, a place with great food and drink that Mom and Dad would enjoy but also a place for friends without those crazy Manhattan prices.  When I get this request I almost always send people to the same place- Walkers in Tribeca.  


This isn't a place that's going to blow your socks off.  No this is a a neighborhood bar that's sophisticated yet comfortable with a variety of food always done well.  Regulars occupy most of the bar stools; a mix of young professionals, older couples and solo drinkers just stopping in for a pint and a chat.  The tables are usually filled with families.  Parents have some quiet time to talk while the kids draw on paper tablecloths with the free crayons.




The menu includes everything from saucy Buffalo Wings with blue cheese and celery to Pan Roasted Salmon with roasted potatoes and asparagus.  I highly suggest checking out the delicious Sirloin Burger served medium rare with two slices of American Cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and pickle.


The decor is gorgeous old NYC and the staff are always friendly and efficient.  I just love this place.  It truly is the neighborhood bar for just about anyone.

16 North Moore Street
New York, NY 10013

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Covina

It's extremely rare that Mr. T and I dine at the same place in one month but we feel so in love with Convina we went back the very next night for dinner again! Located inside the Park South Hotel the space serves as two different spots; a cozy cafe up front by day and a sleek, sexy restaurant by night with an open kitchen and gorgeous cocktail bar perfect for dining. 


I'm a little obsessed with the Covina Hummus; served with bright market vegetables, warm chickpeas, toasted cumin and pita bread.  The veggies were so fresh they reminded me of my carrots from Blue Hill Stone Barns years ago and the huge platter was perfect for sharing over a drink or two.


The menu includes a smattering of small plates along with handmade pastas, pizzas and mains.  Mr. T and I ordered the same exact thing both nights we dined; Wood Grilled Half Chicken for him with perilla and lemon jus...


...and the Covina Burger made from Wagyu and Ground Chuck for me.  This picture does not do this burger justice.  It's ridiculously juicy with crisp salty char on top and a rich marbled middle served with american cheese, daishi pickle and a creamy special sauce.


It comes paired a huge pile of thin crispy fries that really amp this entire dish into the next Best New Burger of the Year category.  


I highly suggest checking out some cocktails from the incredible bartenders as well. There's the whimsical Pack of Newports made with wasabi and aquavit and the delicious Silent Order with basil and chartreuse (my personal favorite).  This place has just about everything I'm looking for- welcome to the neighborhood Covina!

Park South Hotel
127 East 27th Street
New York, NY 10016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Casa Neta

I'm absolutely obsessed with Mexican food lately.  Mr. T thinks I'm crazy but I seriously just want to eat some form of taco for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So when taqueria and tequila bar Casa Neta moved into the old Flute Gramercy it was like a chorus of angels came down from heaven just for me.


The redesigned space is long and sleek with a marble topped bar and a cozy alcove for more intimate dinners.  Drinks include all sorts of wine, margaritas and beer cocktails along with some Casa Neta originals like the creamy Oxacan Sunscreen with house horchata and coconut and a fruity Frida's Lover with cinnamon tequila and strawberry.


A variety of tacos, ceviche and queso dot the menu including hefty Short Rib tacos loaded with layers of tender beef, poblano rajas, manchego cheese and an avocado- crema.  These were amazing and I loved how they put both the pico de gallo and guacamole on the side when I asked for no cilantro.  

I was too full from the tacos to get any dessert but Casa Neta also offers CHURROS!  One of my favorite desserts in the entire world. I may start eating here 5 days a week.

Casa Neta
40 East 20th Street
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Corn & Blackberry Sundae at Maialino

I was devastated three years ago when Nancy Olson left Gramercy Tavern to move back to her native North Dakota.  She created some absolutely incredible desserts including my favorite ice cream treat of all time the Blueberry Corn Sundae.  I honestly thought that masterpiece was gone forever until I found a similar creation just last week at sister restaurant Maialino.


Blackberry takes the place of blueberry in this dessert with a rich mascarpone gelato drizzled with caramel sweet corn and blackberry compote then topped with a crispy popcorn cookie.  It's got that incredible sweet and savory balance I love so much and those fresh blackberries really showcase our fantastic New York State farms.  I split this dessert with friends on my birthday and then returned the very next day to have one all to myself :)

Maialino
Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Avenue at 21st Street
New York, NY 10010

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Impossible Burger at Momofuku NIshi

Just about everyone in NYC is talked about the new Impossible Burger from David Chang.  His Chelsea Momofuku Nishi gets absolutely slammed at lunch and happy hour with eager vegetarians, vegans and carnivores alike clamoring to get a taste of this "unburger".   Created by a group of scientists, farmers and chefs who collaborated on getting that same delicious flavor of beef into an entirely plant based burger.  What they discovered was a molecule called "heme" which gives meat its that rich beefy flavor and even the red bloody color.  This "heme" molecule also occurs in plants and serves as the basis for this Impossible Burger.  Of Course veggie burgers have been around for ages and NONE of them taste like real beef...does this Impossible Burger really hold true?



First let's talk about the french fries.  These long, skinny ridiculously crisp fries are perfection. I mean seriously these are reason enough alone to go to Nishi.  The burger itself looks similar to a Shack Burger served thin on a potato bun with a slice of lettuce, tomato, pickles and special sauce.


As you can see the midsection looks like a medium done burger, slightly pink in the middle with crispy edges.  This really is the closest a veggie burger has ever compared to a beef burger.  It's juicy with rich mineral qualities and just a faint straw like flavor on the end that gives the small reminder that's its not really meat.  Well done guys- this thing is great.

The Impossible Team is hoping to expand their plant based product to other restaurants and bars across the country so be on the lookout for more of these incredible creations to come.

232 8th Avenue between 21st & 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011

Friday, September 16, 2016

Hi-Collar

I love finding hidden little gems around New York City my most recent discovery is Hi-Collar in the East Village.  Located bustling East 10th Street this tiny 13 seat spot is what's known as a "kissaten" a Japanese style tea house that also serves coffee.  The menu boasts over 10 different types of beans that can be served pour over, siphon or aeropress in addition to a few specialty drinks like the creamy Royal Milk Tea and my favorite the luscious Vietnamese Iced Coffee.



The small food includes Omelets with tomato sauce and rice, a limited Berkshire Pork Katsu sandwich (only 10 per day) and wonderful Japanese Hot Cakes served alongside maple syrup, strawberries and a tangy yuzu butter.  These are quite similar to Western style pancakes but much lighter and fluffier. I felt delightfully content after eating these instead of stomach overload from the usual cakes.


The menu also includes an array of desserts and at 6:00 PM the entire space turns into a bar with a three page list of sake, beer and cocktails.  I'm pretty sure I could spend my entire day at this cozy little cafe.

214 East 10th Street between 1st & 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tastes Talk All Star BBQ

It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be on the Brooklyn waterfront celebrating the third year of Taste Talks and the All Star BBQ Sunday.  The grills were smoking hot as chefs and celebs alike showcased some fantastic food collaborations.  There were 16 different food/drink stations and I manged to hit them all.  Here are a few of my favorites.


My very first stop was at Blue Smoke for Chef Jean Paul's juicy Chicken Wings tossed in Alabama white sauce...


...followed by an incredible Grilled Pizza with pulled pork, creamy ranch slaw and crispy onions from the Brooklyn powerhouse team of Emily Loves Pizza and Hometown BBQ.


I was really excited to check out the Chicken Thigh sandwich from MOMO Sushi since it incorporated yuzu kosho; an amazing spicy sweet condiment of yuzu peel and chilies from Japan that I love.


Not only was this Chicken Thigh one of the best bites from the afternoon but it was served to me by none other than Chef Jarobi White one of the original members of Tribe Called Quest.


Morgensteins Finest Ice Cream paired up with Bobby Hellen of GG's for a Huli Huli Roast Pork Skewer with pineapple, cherry tomato and coconut rice served with a scoop of refreshing pineapple sorbet.


And Top Chef alum Leah Cohen was on hand doling out a tender 12 hour Baby Back Ribs with Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade and garlic hosin, fish sauce, five spice and scallions.


I concluded the festival with a scoop of honeycomb ice cream from the Van Leeuwan Truck topped with dried grasshopper.  I am NOT a fan of this insect/food trend going on now and I ended up eating around it but luckily the ice cream was so good I didn't mind too much :)  Another great year for Taste Talks and the kickoff of so many more food festivals to come this Fall!

East River State Park
90 Kent Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Friday, September 9, 2016

Brew Hop 5K & Craft Beer Festival

Next Sunday it's time to strap on some sneakers and get ready to race for some fantastic craft beers while supporting one of the world's first food rescue organizations City Harvest. The first annual Brew Hop 5K is kicking off on September 18th with a great line up of New York City breweries, local food trucks and live music in a post race festival on Randall's Island.

Breweries including Captain Lawrence, Singlecut, Sixpoint, Third Rail, Brooklyn Brewery, Great South Bay and more will be pouring unlimited samples of their beer while runners get to bring home a souvenir beer glass, beer koozies and a medal for completing the race.  Fantastic food trucks will also be on hand like the amazing burgers from Bareburger, Italian favorite Ponti Rossi and ice cream from vegan truck Blossom.


Tickets are on sale now with special VIP passes still available that allow access to a private lounge with waiter service, free massages and exclusive food and beer pairings.  Tickets and more information can be found on their website The Brew Hop 5k.  Cheers to a fantastic weekend!

The Brew Hop 5k
Randall's Island, NYC
September 18th, 2016

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lawson's Finest Maple Tripple Release

The whole reason for the Vermont trip was Lawson's Finest truck sale on Saturday where we had tickets to purchase the breweries fantastic IPA's and their annual Maple Tripple; a rich strong ale made with 100% maple sap from Vermont.  Since the sale was combined with a mini beer fest of sorts we stopped into Prohibition Pig for a solid morning brunch.


As the name suggests any sort of "pig" at Prohibition Pig should be fabulous and this sandwich was absolute perfection.  Pulled Pork piled high with crunchy onion rings, chipotle sauce and a sloppy top of coleslaw on a soft Portuguese bun. I wish this sandwich could be in my life every day.


Then it was onto Mad River Glen for the bottle pick up.  It was an absolutely glorious day outside and once people actually started to line up things went just as smoothly as the day before.  Ten minutes after opening all of our bottles were in the car and we off to enjoy some brews in the sun.


The ski lodge had about six different Lawson's on tap along with some live music from locals in the area and a couple food stations.  This was a great way to close out the weekend and so much better than the old style truck sales from years back.  Cheers to Lawson's for putting on such a great event.  I can't wait to return for the next one.

Warren, Vermont

23 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05676

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

One Last Summer Trip- Vermont

I love Vermont.  Mr. T and I go about 4 times a year and something about those rolling green hills, the fresh crisp air and all that great beer, cheese and maple syrup just make for a fantastic trip.  Neither of us did much traveling this year so an end of season trip with friends seemed like the perfect way to close out summer.  Of course nothing ever seems to go as planned for us.  The night before Mr. T starting feeling sick and by the next morning it was painfully obvious he wouldn't be coming with me to Vermont (or even leaving the apartment for the next few days).  I felt absolutely terrible leaving him home in this state but he insisted I go on with the trip as we already had friends to meet, beer fest tickets purchased, hotel rooms etc.

Now I don't cry very often but when I do I have a lot of trouble stopping once I start. I felt so bad for Mr. T being stuck at home I pretty much cried my entire cab ride to Penn Station onto the LIRR and AirTrain all the way to Newark Airport.  I was a disaster and that's when the airport text messages began. Every 45 minutes I would get a text stating that my flight was delayed, moved up, delayed, moved up...over and over and over again.  Nine hours, three standby's and multiple crappy airport beers later my 50 minute flight finally took off.  Luckily I have some great friends who waited for me in Burlington (after missing their early morning flight) but the day was just terrible all around and one I hope to erase from memory.



Friday morning I woke up much more refreshed, relaxed and determined to have a wonderful Vermont day beginning with a solo breakfast of Huevos Rancheros at the Stagecoach Inn.  I love staying at this place. The staff are so friendly and the food is incredible from the piping hot cinnamon rolls to the freshly brewed coffee (and the cool little Dachshund that hung out with me during my meal).


After breakfast I met up with friends and headed to the Alchemist Brewery in Stowe.  We pulled in right at 10:30 AM to see people already leaving with cases of beer.  After about a 15 minute wait outside...


...and a 25 minute wait inside we were out the door having sampled all three beers, purchased brewery schwag and with our full allotment of cans. This was one of the most efficient and easy beer pickups I've experienced in years and the brand new space is amazing.  


Time to move onto the second brewery stop of the trip Hill Farmstead.  I've been here too many times to count but each visit I'm still amazed by the gorgeous serene setting. Looking out onto that field of green I really felt light years away from the terrible day before.  They also had some great on-site bottles including one of my favorite Hill Farmstead stouts of all time Madness and Civilization #1. 


We loaded up the car with more beer and then took a quick trip over to Parker Pie for a Green Mountain Pizza in the backyard topped with cheddar cheese, apples, bacon and maple syrup...


...and then back into Waterbury for an evening of beers on the patio of Prohibition Pig Brewing in the late day sun.


The night finished with dinner and drinks at the always incredible Hen of the Wood before heading off to bed.  It was the perfect Vermont day.    




Monday, September 5, 2016

Eataly NYC Downtown

When Eataly moved into my neighborhood a few years ago it truly changed my life.   All of sudden I had a one stop shop for everything I could ever need; fresh balls of mozzarella, home made pastas, amazing fruits and veggies, a meat and fish counter plus all those Italian desserts.  I love my Eataly and the new Eataly Downtown is just as wonderful.  In fact it actually has a couple new additions that might make it even better!  Here's a look at a few:



L'Espresso & Il Vino-  This gorgeous circular bar is the very first stopping point when coming off the escalator. Most people never realize it's okay to drink some wine while shopping at the flagship Eataly; but with this new addition front and center guests are encouraged to try a tasting flight, pick a glass or grab a bottle of something wonderful before moving on.


Le Insalate- Downtown Eataly is located in the middle of the financial district making it a prime spot for lunch.  Naturally a salad counter makes perfect sense and with the amazing array of fresh produce shipped in daily this should be a fantastic new option from the boring old salad bar.


Juice Bar- All sorts of fresh pressed juices and smoothies are available along with a special spot for Eataly's fruit and veggie butcher.  Simply pick something from the market and they'll dice and chop it up anyway you want.  This is actually available at the uptown Eataly as well but it's so hidden away no one ever uses this amazing service. 


La Paticerrie- The pastry portion of Eataly isn't new but the desserts certainly are!  Gorgeous fruit tarts, creme puffs, bomboloni and chantilly line the glass case with regular sized portions and "pasticcini" options that are tasting sized.  I love tasting sized things- it's the perfect opportunity to try out so much more without any guilt.  I checked out a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with chocolate ganche and a crispy rice wafer that was simply incredible.


Osteria della Pace is Eataly's brand new restaurant with a separate dining room, a full service bar and a menu focused on Southern Italian cuisine.  Guests can expect a variety of fresh pasta dishes and mains including a whole Salt Crusted Sea Bass and a 56 day dry-aged Ribeye for two.


Finding a seat at the flagship Eataly is always a struggle whereas downtown has much more seating around the store making a casual coffee meet up a lot easier.  Plus the gorgeous floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Financial District give off some pretty incredible views.


Of course along with these great new additions are the same things that made Eataly great from the start.  The meats and cheese from the Piazza, the sweet and savory focaccia and all those wonderful chocolates and geltaos.


Two is almost always better than one and with the brand new Eataly this is certainly the case.

4 World Trade Center
101 Liberty Street- 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10007