Showing posts from 2017

Best NYC Tastes of 2017

2017 was a very strange year in the world of food.  It started out incredibly boring, with fast casual restaurants and big Japanese chains taking over the city.  And has ended unsteady and downright disturbing, with allegations of sexual harassment exploding in what seems to be every facet of the food industry and country as a whole.  I honestly feel more uncertain as a person than I ever have before.  Which is probably why I've leaned towards comfort food this year with big bowls of ramen, spicy chili oil wontons and other hearty, homey dishes dominating much of my time dining out.
Union Square Cafe reopened at the end of 2016 and has been my go-to place for spicy, carrot studded Candele Pasta while their sister cafe Daily Provisions actually took the spot for best new restaurant of 2017. This may seem like an odd choice but it had everything I needed this year; incredible crullers for breakfast, inventive sandwiches for lunch and a quiet, relaxing environment for grabbing an even…

One Last Time at Temple Bar

2016 saw the closing of two of my favorite cocktail bars of all time; the incredible Russian vodka room Pravda and the formidable Campbell Apartments in Grand Central Terminal.  Unfortunately as 2017 comes to an end another great spot will be closing its doors, the fantastic Temple Bar.

My first visit to this fabulous spot was way back in 2003 when Yankees (now manger) Aaron Boone hit a walk off home run against the Boston Red Sox to win the American League Championship Series.  It was easily the best night of my young NYC life.   We had been watching the game at nearby Tom and Jerry's for about six hours prior and decided to move our celebration over to Temple Bar.  I'm not sure if the bar was actually closing down for the night or if the bouncer noticed our glassy eyes, hoarse voices and general rowdy drunkenness, but we weren't allowed inside.  No this place required a bit more reserved behavior, a bit more class; neither of which we had at that moment.  

Later that weeke…

NYC Tastes Holiday Gift Guide

The holiday season is upon us so let's eat, drink and be merry while supporting the fantastic artisans, bakers and restaurateurs that make up this incredible city.  We've compiled a local food and drink gift guide for just about any New Yorker on your list.  Happy Shopping!

For the Humanitarian Vodka Lover- Zirkova One+Together Vodka

This is the one gift that isn't actually from NYC.  It's made in the birthplace of vodka Cherkasy, Ukraine, but we love their mission statement so much we're adopting it.  "Budmo" is a traditional Ukraine toast which translates to "Just Be".  That is the foundation behind Zirkova; that every human being is a unique and important part of this beautiful tapestry we call life and we should celebrate each other.  Zirkova showcases this commitment through their vodkas One+Together.

One is a vodka meant for sipping; it has a long, smooth velvet finish perfect for enjoying on its own.  Together is meant to be enjoyed in cockt…

Rizzo's Fine Pizza Co.

New York City has always been a pizza town.  Back in the day there were dollar slice joints on just about every corner with some sort of "Ray" attached to the name. Today the pizza scene is much different; restaurants like Pasquale Jones and Roberta's are the norm with toppings like arugula, artichoke are egg replacing the classic pepperoni.  It's just not as easy to find a classic NY slice anymore, but they DO exist!  And some of the best can be found in Astoria at Rizzo's Fine Pizza.

This tiny little pizza shop on Steinway Street opened in 1959 by two brothers and is exactly what a NY pizzeria should be.  A few seats up front with a small selection of pies and incredibly friendly staff, so friendly they gave me a slice of their signature square pie for free.

The pizza here is thin- not quite as thin as the Vezzo/Posto empire but definitely skinny with crispy brown crusts, a hearty sauce and a great blend of parmigiana and mozzarella cheese.

Everything about this p…

New Brew Friday- Equilibrium DHop2

Staying local once again this New Brew Friday with an absolutely fantastic brew from Equilibrium Brewing in Middletown New York.  

Equilibrium uses a Mass Brewing Balance system which researches how to balance and maximize the flavors in beer.  The DHop2 was an exploration into the symmetry of their ale strain with a strong dose of Mosaic and Citra hops.  The result is a hazy frothy Double IPA that tastes like fresh squeezed orange juice with a hint of pine bitterness. This was an incredible brew that I enjoyed at one of my favorite Brooklyn beer spots Gold Star Beer Counter.  Cheers to the weekend!

Equilibrium Brewing
22 Henry Street
Middletown, NY 10940

The Dish at Bar Pitti

Bar Pitti is certainly no secret.  This tiny little spot on 7th Avenue South draws huge crowds for its affordable pasta, great al fesco dining and the possibility of a celeb sighting from its A-list of regular customers.  But when people finally get that coveted table many times they have no idea what to actually order.  This is NOT the time to ask the waiter for recommendations.  The Bar Pitti wait staff are notoriously rude trying to deal with so many customers at once.  In order to have the best experience possible look at the menu prior or just follow my advice and order the best thing on the menu- the Pappardelle a la Fiesolana.

Big, thick stands of homemade pasta studded with smoked pancetta, tomato and parmigiana cheese in a wonderful cream tomato sauce.  It's not overly creative but it's so damn delicious you'll find your entire plate clean within seconds.   Which is good, because then you have plenty of time to run downstairs to the ATM when you realize this spot i…

Riso e Risotto at Eataly

There are so many reasons to be thankful this year.  I'm honestly always thankful to have Eataly in my neighborhood but this year I'm even more thankful because they're hosting a pop up called Riso e Risotto.  Located in the Le Verdure restaurant this pop up is all about the rice based dishes of Northern Italy and the king of Italian rices Carnarali.  

The menu includes five different Risottos with various toppings like mixed mushroom & thyme, Bartlett pear & mascarpone or simply the classic with butter and parmigiana cheese.  Alongside the rice dishes are a slew of new Le Verdure specialties including these pillowy Pumpkin Gnocchi's topped with cheese, melted butter and crispy sage.

It's also truffle season at Eataly so every dish is available with white or burgundy truffles for an extra price.  There's never been a better time to Eataly.

Riso e Risotto
At Le Verdure- Eataly
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Beating the Cold at Beechers Handmade Cheese

I've been battling a terrible cold the past few days and in serious need of some comfort food.  Of course nothing says "comfort" more than a thick, creamy bowl of tomato soup and a melty Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Beechers Handmade Cheese is only four blocks from my apartment and a total lifesaver in this situation of illness.

Their tomato soup is super chunky with shreds of melted Parmesan cheese inside and loaded with crunchy croutons. 

Of course I always ask for my croutons on the side in favor of dipping my sandwich directly into the bowl instead.  It's not exactly proper dining etiquette but honestly when you have a bad cold who really cares.  

Beechers Handmade Cheese
900 Broadway at 20th Street
New York, NY 10003

A Little D.C.Dining

The last two months of my life has been absolutely insane.  So insane that I never even got around to talking about my quick trip to D.C. where we ordered just about everything on the brunch menu at Kyirisan.  To begin their amazing pastry platter.

Doughnuts Holes glazed with red miso, strawberry and Bavarian creme alongside flaky croissants, buttery biscuits and two wondrous pastry delights; the Molly's Pocket, a chocolate and coconut caramel glazed square stuffed with cream cheese and the Vanilla Custard Bao; a delightful spin on that doughy dim sum staple topped with a crackly creme brulee glaze and stuffed with creamy vanilla bean custard. 

Continuing on with the sweet portion of the meal with a stack of thick, fluffy Blueberry Pancakes topped with a huge square of Yuzu Butter...

...before moving into more savory dishes like this towering Panko Crusted Chicken Sandwich with cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles and avocado all topped with a truffle aioli on a brioche bun.

Of course my …

New Brew Friday- Fifth Hammer Brewing

It's New Brew Friday and today we're checking out the brand new Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City, Queens.  This enormous spot opened by former Gun Hill and 508 Gastorbrewer Chris Cuzme boasts 15 barrels and a huge tap room filled with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs perfect for lounging on a weekend afternoon.

We tried out quite a few of their selections and our two favorites were the bright sour berliner weisse Cherry Giggle Gaggle and the crisp hoppy pale ale Tasty Feelings.  In addition to the awesome glassware all of the tap handles are made from actual hammers which makes for a fun unique atmosphere.  This area of LIC is becoming its own little beer hub with other great spots like LIC Beer Project and Transmitter just blocks away.  Cheers to New Brew Friday!
Fifth Hammer Brewing 10-28 46th Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101

Brunching at Markt

Cold windy Saturdays are the perfect excuse to stay under the covers an extra hour or two, lounge around all morning in PJ's and finally ease into a delicious neighborhood brunch.  Markt was actually my favorite restaurant when we moved to NYC about 15 years ago.  Back then it was located in the Meatpacking District and was one of the few places in the city to get a good Belgium beer.  

Of course now Belgium beer is everywhere and the new location on 6th Avenue, while not quite as fancy, has still got a great vibe and a fantastic menu for any time of day.  My Eggs Benedict was absolutely on point; a perfectly poached egg drizzled with Hollandaise sauce on top of crispy Canadian Bacon and a side of sliced potatoes.

Mr T couldn't resist one of the freshly baked croissants; flaky and buttery with the perfect amount of chew and sidled by butter, jam and Nutella.

I couldn't resist adding on a bright springy Juniper Splash with gin, prosecco and blueberry shrub to my meal.  Even wi…

StarChefs Congress Day III

The StarChefs Congress closed out this year with a festive celebration entitled Bad Hombres y Mujeres.  Which was a really incredible array of some bad ass chefs cooking some of my favorite food in the world- tacos! 

Luis Acre Mota & Rigo Cervantes from LES spot La Contenta were grilling up some delicious octopus tacos alongside a gorgeous and refreshing hibiscus cocktail.

Top Chefs contender Katsuji Tanabe from Mexikosher on the Upper East Side was doling out some creamy Corn Esquites layered with cheese and paprika...

..while Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah's Taqueria in Providence, Rhode Island cooked up my favorite dish of the day Tacos de Lengua con salsa fesca (Beef Tongue Tacos).

The meat in this taco was incredible.  So rich and tender; held together by a perfect corn tortilla and a douse of fresh lime juice with hot sauce.  I honestly haven't had a Beef Tongue dish of any sort in years and this was a fresh reminder to never shy away from such a flavorful meat.

Chef Erik Ra…

StarChefs Cocktail Congress

Monday night the StarChefs Congress turned into an incredible cocktail party with mixologists from all over the country shaking up fabulous drinks.  

I kicked off the night with a bit of bubbly from Jacob Tschetter of Grand Army in Cobble Hill.  His Strawberry Champagne Mojito was a beautiful and refreshing start to the evening. 

Kevin Denton, former bar director of WD-50 and current mixologist for Pernod Ricard created a bright green Emerald City with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Gitana Fino en rama Sherry, apple juice, honey and  the ever popular matcha.
Easily the most creative drink of the night came from A-K Hada of Please Don't Tell in the East Village.  Her Peking Duck cocktail managed to bring the savoriness of this classic Chinese dish from dinner plate to shaker glass.

Mixologist Jeremy Oertel from Brooklyn favorite Donna went tropical with a creamy pineapple Brancolada of rum, Branca Menta and coconut cream.

Yeal Vengroff of The Spare Room in Los Angeles continued the fruit forwa…