Sunday, December 21, 2008

Food Porn Daily

At one point, probably about 3 years ago, I wanted to be a food stylist. Only problem was I was neither a chef nor a photographer. But for the amateur food stylist (maybe still inside?) there's always:

Monday, December 1, 2008

This ones for my homies...

[Sourced from Eater]

I can't think of any better people to spread the word to that my Mexican loving friends...

— Midtown Lunch reports that a Midtown Chipotle (45th between 5th nd 6th) will be giving away free burritos for the next three Tuesdays between 5 - 7 p.m. [ML]

Not So Delicattessen

Loved this message board post about Delicatessen. From the same owners as Chelsea long loved Cafeteria- Delicatessen is not worth any hype. My experience consisted of the saltiest Matzoh ball soup i've ever had, a sub par salad, and nothing very Deli about it. Ny Magazine also had a bad review on the newish restaurant which confirmed my beliefs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the line

It's a rainy and hungover Saturday. The kind where I would be sleeping all day if it hadn't been for the loud parade blaring outside my window forcing me to wake from my slumber. I probably would never have attempted to leave my apartment if it hadn't been for the surging nausea that was pounding in my head and making my body scream "wahhh wahhh". But it was time. I was going to get dressed and trek all the way across 2nd avenue to the grocery store for the ginger ale quick fix.

When I got to the store, it was actually pretty packed. Who knew how many people did their grocery shopping on Saturdays? At any rate, I did a fast swoop of the store; grabbed the ginger ale remedy and a couple other key items and b-lined for the check out line. All of which were pretty long.

This is the point where you never know if you're going to make the right or wrong decision. With one bad judgement call you could end up in grocery purgatory. Check-out 6 has 5 people in line with few items...Hmmm so does check-out 5 but there is an old lady at the end of it..she could be slow. I see her mouthing to her daughter, "Do you want some ice cream? creeeaamm." I ended up going with check out 5 which could've been a very bad call but in this case was a great one. While my line sped by; check-out 6 hasn't moved an inch. A red headed woman in her early 30s is trying to validate a coupon for $20 worth of weight watchers items. "Sorry, mam...I need to get my manager." I can feel the tension rising as the shoppers in line sigh, huff, and shift their weight from one foot to the next. By the time I'm swiping my card through the machine, 3 people have come to help in the situation. "No! I should be getting 5 dollars back! I have $20 worth of product. Look here...$3.69..." Now I hear a disgruntled man from the back of the line (mind you I was about to get on line behind him) shout, "Are you serious!? C'mon Lady!" The red headed woman fires back "Yes Im serious. I want my $5 dollars off of food." I almost wanted to see them break out into a full on super market brawl. I smirk at the grocery clerk as a sign my receipt and grab my bags. Ohh...autumn in New the middle of recession. And I'm sure that just a preview. Well at least I fixed my nausea.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lil Gordon Ramsay

An ad for a british job search website catered to caterers.:)

Check it out--it's pretty cute.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Riesling Week..Danke

"For one week only, experience world-class Rieslings from Germany, Austria and Alsace at the top restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Las Vegas. Restaurants will be featuring European Rieslings by the glass, offering flights of top quality European Rieslings or creating special Riesling pairing menus that showcase the great pairing ability of this varietal." Check it.

One of my favorite white wines..and for this week featured at restaurants like Craft, Bobo, and Blue Water Grill. June 16-22nd only. So put on your clogs or something (Do they even wear clogs in Germany?)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Food from the Holy Land

After a month hiatus of over-working and traveling Israel, I'm finally back. Yes, I know it's hard to believe that when I don't write I'm actually still eating, but that is the case. And during that time, I've come across hidden gems, weird food products, and some busts as usual.

In the holy land, i ate a lot of the same: falafel, shwarma, cucumber tomato salad and of course their fav hummus and pita. I'm a huge fan of food in the Mediterranean variety, but no matter how great the falafel was every time or how hot and fresh the pita was cooked; I got tired of this fast. I even vowed to never eat hummus again. Clearly, a lie. But I believed it when I said it. My travel companions, a bus of 40, could probably vouch the same sentiment. Although last weekend, Ms.Onesie and La Mer (2 of these such travel companions) and I found ourselves craving late night falafel (a pita pocket of salad and fried chick peas and of course covered in hummus). When we caved for the LES version at 3 Monkeys, it just wasn't the same or rather bad actually. I can't tell if it was the alcohol talking or my pallet but the falafel tasted like cinnammon and while cinnamon goes well with things like french toast or even a latte, it does not go well with falafel and hummus.

In Israel, our group (br939) basically ate the same things over and over. Because this was a free trip, the organizers went for the 10 sheckel hotel deal- which lucky for us meant the same buffet at every city in Israel with the same traditional food. In the mornings, it was the breakfast of champions: eggplant tomoato and cucumbers salad, hard boiled eggs, rolls, some scrambled eggs if we were lucky, some more weird salads with cabbage or tuna or pasta (left over from dinner from the night before?), and complimented by bug juice. Most everyone stuck to the rolls and the hard boiled eggs. For dinner, there was usually chicken on the bone, some mystery meat (which oddly enough was good once), a vegeterian "option",some more of those salads (cucumber tomato, beets, what have you), dinner rolls, and of course hummus. From what I hear Israel actually has really good food across the country aside from their street food- like fresh sushi, but, unfortunately, I wouldn't know this because we were like children held on one of those unacceptable kid leashes by an unkempt parent. I really would've been happy if they said "OK- no scheduled dinner tonight. Go fend for yourselves" but we were only allowed to find a place to eat for a few lunches.

When we were allowed to 'take lunch' we found ourselves scurrying for falafel or to the nearest Aroma (which there is an Aroma on Houston..). Aroma has fresh salads and sandwiches and the ice coffee they serve all around Israel. Our guide told us Aroma has the best ice coffees--and it was good but some of the random stands/bodega type places were way better. And when I say iced coffee I really mean the Israeli version of a 2000 calorie frappaccino that we downed everyday. When I went to Aroma in New York, they, of course, had the Iced coffee which they refer to as an "Iced Aroma" and the New York version of it- the "Aroma light." Realizing that means the calories of the regular "Aroma" must be your daily calorie max, I tried this "Aroma light" version and was thoroughly disappointed. It was like ice shavings and the foam at the top of a cappuccino; reminiscent of the real one but not even coming in at a close second.

Throughout the trip, we also snacked on the Israeli version of chips, doodles, and crisps. I mean we had to be authentic to the culture...or something. The two fan favorites were Bisslli and Bambas. Bambas are like cheese doodles without the cheese but with a peanut butter twist. Sounds weird and at first kinda is--but by the third one, you're in for the long haul.

Bissllies come in a variety of flavors including BBQ, pizza, and Falafle (yes, falafel..and I'm surprised there wasn't hummus flavored ones). LawClerk1 and I found the BBQ flavor in the square shapes to be our favorite-- and though we didn't like the pizza flavored one when we got it, we had no prob finishing the bag. And while we weren't careful in Israel about what we were putting in our mouth, as Ms.Onesie put it so poignantly, "Bissllis make you beastly" so buyer beware.

While the food was redundant when I was away and kind of odd at times, it was still an experience at that. It's funny how when you leave those situations that were so annoying at times (being treated like you were 16 or force-fed hummus on pita), you find yourself yearning to go back. I'm hoping to find a good Israeli spot soon and make the BR939 trip go for a "group dinner". I hope I can find a buffet...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quick Post: NYC Food Film Festival

Foods include Grimaldi's pizza, cheese steaks and an Il Buco Olive oil tasting. And the films are about the foods. Check it

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Experience Mimics the Review

Often when you read a review (be it Zagat, Food and Wine, CitySearch etc) the experience doesn't read close to the print. The reviewer has said the food is excellent and yours came out cold, that wait staff was said to be nasty and obnoxious and your personal encounter was nothing but friendly and warm. I think its safe to say that while reviews have their value; they are not the end all be all. I would have to say though that when the review is spot-on, it's an eerie feeling and I would most definitely say that is the case with Zagat's review of Felix on West Broadway. The commentary reads, "A “playground” for the “beautiful”, “international” set, this “loud, lively”, “very SoHo” French bistro delivers “decent” eats in “airy” digs with “two walls of open doors”; “brunch is a highlight”, but the “rowdy patrons and inevitable dancing” always steal the show."

I've been to Felix on two occasions. The first instance was on a late summer afternoon for what could have been brunch but just ended up being wine and turned into a parade of toasting and drinking with foreign new friends. Yes, I would describe the above as pretty accurate. The second occasion was just on Friday night when my friends and I returned for the same such scene and for the open doors on one of our first warm spring nights. I had heard mixed opinions on the food and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was indeed pretty good. Doogs and I split a beet salad to start. There were yellow and red beets over a bed of endive, sprinkled with walnuts and apples and drizzled with a dressing that added a layer of saltiness to the already sweet ingredients. It was quite tasty and exceeded my expectations. A Duh and Wild Ginge split the warm goat cheese salad which they seemed happily smitten with. For entrees, I got the Chicken Fricassee with ratatouille (a peasant dish by French standards) but good in it's simplicity and fall-off-the-bone chicken. Doogs got the seabass over a bed of mushroom risotto (She's currently on an "I Love Risotto" kick), A Duh and Wild Ginge both got the mussels and french fries (maybe more for the french fries than the mussels?) and Sista Ginge (yes, wild Ginge has a sister! with the same Ginge features) got the steak tartar to which she defended as very good (although again maybe ordered more for the love of fries?) Aside from the food, there were the annoying french guys who tried to get us to sit at their table, the table of 20 celebrating the birthday of a woman in her 30's wearing a skirt an 18 year old probably shouldn't be wearing out of the house, a gaggle of tables who liked to sing with the music, old men at the bar with designer glasses and very young arm candy and an eccentric hostess who was just as fun to watch as her guests.

Yes, the review is pretty true blue. And I can say you will probably mimic that experience for sure at Felix on West Broadway with the airy open doors and scenic view (be it people passing by on the street or patrons swapping tables for chit chat inside).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Opinionated About Dining

I recently got this email from my dad. I think he references this guy "Acker" for wine reviews and Acker recommended this book as well. An interesting alternative to Zagat though. I also like how they'll send you a free copy of the 2008 edition if you review restaurants for 2009. Pretty sweet. I've copied the email below:

"If you are tired of the same old Zagat and Michelin restaurant guides, try something new - and something actually compiled from actual diners like us.

Bon vivant Steve Plotnicki has taken the giant step from amateur to professional and has published his first dining guide, The Opinionated About Fine Dining Survey 2008, The 100 Best Restaurants in North America & Europe.

What makes this guide different is that the survey participants are weighted based on their dining experience, resulting in ratings that are more reliable. The 56 page guide covers restaurants in 9 different countries, and each review includes a numerical rating, a short description of the restaurant, quotes from the survey particpants, and two to three dishes which were mentioned by the survey panel.

There is a special section in back of the guide that rates each restaurant's wine list and describes their BYOB policy. The guide is available at independent book stores all over the U.S., at, or online at . And if you participate in the 2009 survey, which is currently ongoing, Steve will send you a free copy of the 2008 guide as soon as you begin rating restaurants - simply go to the home page and follow the links to register for the survey. "

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mermaid (Merman! Merman!)

Sorry I couldn't help using an odd Zoolander reference for the title of this post but please excuse me --the post has nothing to do with Zoolander at all or Mermaids/men for that matter.

If you don't like fish, you probably shouldn't go to an establishment with the word "Mermaid" in the name and that's just the case with The Mermaid Inn. The menu is filled with underwater delights and only one entree from above sea level- the pork chop. So note that before you make your reservation.

I had heard such great things about this small restaurant in the East Village so I was pretty stoked to try it out (they also have a location in the upper west side). L Dawg and I went at 730 on a Tuesday night and found the restaurant half full. On a Saturday I know it's packed. Regardless, when I walked in I was surprised to feel like I was on Long Island at the RiverBay (for LIers, you'll know what I'm talking about but its feels very nautical with maps and compasses abound). They sat us in the back and we could see the dimly lit garden from our table which would be perfect for a warm summer night but a little too chilly for early April.

We decided on the mussels and the seared tuna for appetizer. The mussels were skillet roasted rather than steamed which made for a tasty and different texture--when dipped into the drawn butter it almost made me feel like I was going through the motions of eating lobster. The seared tuna was also great. Perfectly seared meaning super rare with the ends barely cooked. The tuna was served with an egg, caper, and lemon mixture which looked kind of weird but tasted pretty good.

For entree, both LDawg and I got the Mahi Mahi, which was grilled with baby vegetables in an orange-chevril emulsion. This was good but I think I was pretty tipsy from the Vinho Verde at this piont. The Mahi Mahi was nothing exceptional but you can tell the fish was fresh and well prepared and I appreciated the leeks (which I love!). The wine we chose (the Vinho Verde) was surprisingly really good and tasted similar to an Alsacen Riesling. I think I was drinking pretty fast (maybe I was thirsty?).

And as usual whenever L Dawg and I get together, we can't stop talking. Our conversation is an endless flow of stories, laughing and venting and I think our server was scared to interrupt. We sat happily with our menus for 30 minutes before our waitress had an opportune time to ask us if we were ready when we weren't going to blow her off. All in all, we had a really fun and good meal and the chocolate puddings in the little espresso cups at the finish is a nice and delicious touch. Just remember if you and you're party are not willing to ALL endeavor under the sea, you might want to hit up another small restaurant on 2nd ave that can reel you to land.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring is in the Air!

"It's supposed to be 71 degrees today!" I think it's safe to say everyone is excited about this and the reminder that Spring is coming!! Spring for me always means more frolicking, more activity, and more general fun. This is probably the beginning of Wild Ginger's fav time as well as it turns from Spring into summer so I have to credit her for this link to NYC's al fresco restaurants, bars, and lounges. Click here.A couple notables to add- Dos Caminos Soho and 50th street, Central Park (great for a lil wine and cheese picnic!), Loreley in LES for th back garden, Bar Piti with great people watching and possible celeb spotting, and Friend of a Farmer (if you can snag a seat for brunch!).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shrimp Pizza Finds his Kosher Slice

Many of you might remember the Shrimp Pizza incident. Notoriously, this guy has been labeled as merely "Shrimp Pizza" when referring to the short period of time I dated him. But the story in all its hilarity has lived on for the last year...during instances of "It could be worse..there's always "Shrimp Pizza." or "Remember when you dated an Ortho-guy?" and other varieties. As much as this story has had a pulse, I haven't spoken to the dude since probably last February...and in the 'olden days' when you put a halt to verbal communication that was the end of it. But nowadays with the internet somehow they are always able to creep back into your life via aim, facebook or the likes. In this particular case he didn't slide his way back into my life but rather I gained insight into his--which I think makes him particularly more orthodox/odd, and once again re-establishes my good judgment to order the shrimp.

While using the friend finder on facebook, a utility that pulls in your friend's email addresses via your own email account and finds your friends on facebook, "Shrimp Pizza" was evidently found. I glanced over his name until I saw the image attached which was literally him and a bride underneath the hoopah. I gasped. Whoa. Then I did what any normal curious red blooded person would do and stalked his facebook for more info. Turns out that just a little over a year, Shrimp Pizza had met his nice Jewish girl, courted her and got married. She's a really attractive one too but must not eat shell fish. It seems Shrimp Pizza has finally found his kosher slice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thinking Ahead

I know it’s hard to think about multiple uses for the same product but it’s definitely helpful when you’re buying fresh produce. It’s especially hard in New York where people have little time between work and play and buying groceries is almost as expensive as ordering in. Often I like to think about vegetables in terms of their uses. If I get mushrooms, I might plan a chicken marsala and know I have the rest of the mushrooms for a vegetable sauté or a shroom-lete. If I find ripe mangos, I might eat some as a regular fruit and create a mango salsa with the rest.

In my last post I wrote about the chicken parm meet eggplant rollatini I most recently created. While I was prepping the casserole dish with the ricotta mixture, I realized I had more than what I needed so I took the left over and put it in a dish for later. This morning, I remembered this little bowl of ricotta mixed with tomatoes capers and garlic and added it to a mundane shroom-lete. The outcome was great. A breakfast you might get from a restaurant parallel with the consistency of a goat cheese omelet (although I hate goat cheese- and I know everybody and their mom loves it!).

Anyways it pays to think ahead whether it be chicken or cheese or even a condiment like honey mustard! Mutli-purposes for a product means less trips to the grocer!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spontaneous Italian

Sometimes I get the urge to cook. Especially with a newly purchased cookware set; the urge strikes hard. Unfortunately, my kitchen was a bit distraught after the notorious crane incident of March 2008 (yup, that was my building) and I had to put my sautéing crave aside and wait till my gas was back on and my oven was reattached in its appropriate place. Lucky for me, all was status-quo this weekend and while the iron was hot, I went for it.

I hadn’t cooked anything Italian in quite some time—trying to watch my carb intake probably has something to do with it; but as I perused the super market on Sunday I started to get some ideas for dinner that night. I knew I wanted protein and I had a yearning for eggplant (surprise, surprise). I wanted to do something a little different than just layer aubergine and chicken with some tomatoes and I started to think a little carefully. After I found my eggplant, I found a bottle of capers and thought- “What if I mix this with some low-fat ricotta and a few other key ingredient and use this to layer the two?” Eggplant rollatini meets chicken parmesan.

Back at my apartment, I dipped the chicken in egg whites and dusted the breasts with bread crumbs. I put the breast in a pan with extra-virgin olive oil for 2 minutes on each side and place them in a casserole dish lined with tomato sauce. Next came the eggplant, which I sliced length wise and salted. That too, went into the oil panned for a couple minutes on each side. The lower the heat, the less it burns and the crisper it gets. While the eggplants were in the pan, I made my ricotta mixture. I used some eggwhites to thin out the cheese; added Italian season, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and then of course my capers and slice tomato for an extra touch. Fresh basil would’ve been great in this but sorry for me, I forgot to purchase! (I need one of those basil window plants ha).

I put some more tomato sauce on top of the chicken for more flavor and then spooned some of the ricotta mixture to each breast topped each piece with an eggplant slice and then put a thin layer of sauce on top of that as well. For show- I sprinkled a little grated cheese on the top and put a few more capers in the center of each eggplant slice.

The dish came out pretty good and definitely satiates an appetite for Italian… as well as my pining to cook!

If you’d like to replicate- here’s a list of ingredients (measurements were improvised so had to say):

Thinly-sliced skinless Chicken breasts
Breadcrumbs (with Italian seasoning in it)
Parmesan cheese (or Peccorino-Romano)
Egg Whites
Tomato Sauce
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Fresh Basil (best)
Salt and Pepper
Part-skim Ricotta Cheese
Shredded Cheese (Mozzarella)—optional

Friday, March 28, 2008


Yes, it sounds kind of weird but its a really nice twist on a breakfast tradition. An omelette with fruit. I started to experiment with this one morning when I was bored of my egg whites and veggies and dropped a few blueberries in my mushroom omlette. It tasted kinda of good. Actually really good. And on a toasted english muffin where the berries can get into the ' kind of like a cross between pancakes and eggs. I thought I had invented a new phenomenon!! And then while browsing the menu for Alice's tea cup, I saw it in plain type. Omelette with fruit (strawberries, berries, etc) and I realized people must have been doing this for years. I am not the inventor after all (hey, I aim high!). Regardless, it's a nice change of pace and just-right for the blooming spring.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

99 Cents

I wouldn't necessarily try this but it's an interesting concept. NY Times writer, Henry Alford, goes to the depths of the unknown and attempts to make every meal for a week (including dinner for 4 friends) with finds from the 99cent store and Jack's. Again, risky yet interesting. Read the article here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Heavenly Taste Test

Frighteningly enough, I’ve worked across from Jacques Torres for almost 3 years. Well I guess that’s not entirely accurate because for about 6 months when I worked in Dumbo, I was around the corner. But seriously, what are the chances? And Jacques has well…pretty superb chocolates so it’s safe to say I must stay 100 ft from the establishment at all times.

Because of the close proximity, the chocolatier has been a “go-to” for quick gifts or a sweet tooth fix and I’ve gathered some favorites in the process. While their molds for various holidays and occasions are pretty jaw-dropping (think large turkeys for Thanksgiving, rabbits for Easter, and stilettos for Mother’s Day), their chocolate squares with various fillings are mouth watering as well. The two that ring a bell for me are the dark chocolate filled with red wine and their champagne truffles. Mmm. In the summer, Jacques even offers huge homemade ice cream sandwiches; the cookie on either side of the ice cream a rich and chocolately delight and in the winter, it’s their hot chocolate and “wicked” hot chocolate that keeps everyone coming back for more…even the tourists who come all the way downtown on their way to Century 21. ha.

So in my mind, this was the crème de la crème…until… Recently, my cube neighbor at work, J, showed me a new light. He mentioned this other chocolatier that I had never heard of called Vosges. I was apprehensive at first and once I checked out the website even more hesitant. It all sounded extremely interesting: dark chocolate flavored with ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds or Mexican ancho with chipotle chillies and Ceylon cinnamon within a dark chocolate bar or even bacon infused chocolate. Yes, this sounded exotic but I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste. The answer came the next day on my desk.

J mentioned his favorite bar was the “Woolloomooloo Bar”- deep milk chocolate with roasted and salted macadamia nuts, Indonesian coconut and hemp seeds and he was kind enough to present me with this exotic chocolate bar. I decided if we were to properly evaluate the chocolate bar, we would need some sort of comparison . Cut to Me and DMoney lifting the “100 feet” rule and entering Jacques Torres to prep for the taste test. I searched for a good sampling that was comparable to the Woolloomoolo Bar, but couldn’t really find anything with a mixture of macadamia nuts, coconut and hemp seed- go figure. So I settled on getting a few pieces of chocolate in different varieties and we could just make the evaluation on overall performance. This proved to me more difficult that it sounded.

The three of us tasted the first piece of chocolate from Jacques. Delicious. Smooth, robust and wonderful. There were definitely different tastes that tied flawlessly together in a very creamy and continuous way. I couldn’t imagine Vosges beating this.

Then we opened the Vosges packaging. This bar is interesting because even the copy on the back is well thought out.
The copy reads:
"How to Eat an Exotic Candy Bar...

See... first, there should be a glossy shine to the chocolate bar, this shows a good temper; rather, a tight bond between the cocoa butter and the cocoa mass.

Smell... rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the aromas. Inhale the chocolate and ingredient notes deeply through your nose. Can you feel it?

Snap... quality chocolate should always be dry to the touch. Break the bar into two pieces. Hear a crisp, ringing snap, which indicates a well-tempered bar of chocolate.

Taste... place the chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty seconds, the chocolate should slowly begin to melt around your tongue. The taste should not be evanescent; it should have a long, lingering finish.

Feel... recognize the life in your body as you… benefit from the anti-oxidants in chocolate, ride the natural high of chillies, boost your immune system with some of the natural ingredients. Each bar brings its own sensations and benefits. Notice how spicy bars don’t hit you until after you have swallowed.”

And so we did all of the above and it was like chocolate that I’ve never had before. Complex and nutty. Yet smooth and fluid. I could only compare it a good cookies and cream ice cream when the vanilla base is excellent and there is just enough cookies that it doesn’t overpower the ice cream but compliments it.

I had to go around the office and offer up the rest of the pieces (Ok, most of the other pieces…I saved a little for later). This stuff was too good not to share!! (or maybe I feared of gluttonously chowing the whole thing down). Regardless, there’s a new chocolatier in the hood. This one has a flagship store in Soho but is also sold at place like Balducci’s and the likes. J says Vosges ice cream is even better than their chocolate. I can’t image but I’ll dream in Chocolate.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Dish

American Express has jumped on the social media band-wagon to create "The Dish" where you can become a "tastemaker"(only if you are an amex cardholder- how elitist!) review restaurants, find local favs, create your own list of favs and more. Of course like all good online communities, it includes share functionality for del.ici.ous, tenchorati, stumbleupon, etc. They also offer discounts: Click here fore more. But looks like you have to be a card member for that as well...surprise surprise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Gem in the Garment District

In desolate neighbors, its often hard to find a decent place to eat; but find yourself a gem and consider yourself lucky! Within the confines of the garment/fashion district close to A-Duh's apartment and the old Project Runway contestant housing is one such diamond in the rough. It's a small sushi joint called Toyama (36th between 5th and 6th) that provides fast delivery, a decent place to eat-in and awesome sushi at an extremely cheap price. The decor is nothing spectacular ..well to be honest it lacks an ambiance all together (and if there are other people in the restaurant with you its usually a very bizarre crowd...thats is if you aren't the only ones there) but the staff leaves you alone to enjoy the company of your close friends and an abundance of Japanese treats.

Yes, the menu might be completely misspelled; my favorite spelling mistake is the Miso Egg Plane and the Rock Shrimp was called Rock n' Shrimp on the old menu. But the food is pretty solid and their spicy tuna banana roll is well worth it- lightly tempura-ed banana and spicy tuna wrapped in a roll. There's only one other place in NYC, I've found this roll combination and it was twice if not three times the price without the same great taste. I can only describe it a a funnel cake tuna sushi roll which sounds a little odd but is great. I'm also a huge fan of their mango shrimp roll and of course they Rock or Rock N Shrimp. The best part about this place is when the check comes at the end because you literally can't believe how inexpensive it is! I dare you to try to spend $30 per person... I think we almost got there once with 4 bottles of saki. No...really, I'm serious.

Friday, March 14, 2008

You Say Ketchup, I say Tartar Sauce

For those who eat with me often, I have a weird pattern of eating like a vegetarian without being one. I actually do like meat! But when it comes to eating good food that is good for you, it just happens to be in the form of veggies, and often artificial poultry like chick patties and tofu. And really I like this 'fake food' just as much as I like the real kind so it comes natural for me (no pun intended).

In the everyday exploration of "where to go for lunch," Lady I, DMoney and I like to check out new places in our work hood. This time, we walked a little further to try something new. DMoney heard that Spring Street Natural was really good and once I read the menu I was soo in. They offer an array of vegetable stir frys (with tofu, chix or beef), a plethora of salads, and various sandwiches that fit the vegetarian lifestyle as well as the carnivorous one.

When we got to Spring Street Natural, I was surprised by the massive size of the space. You don't find many large establishments in NYC and there was at least 50 tables there. We sat down in a nook booth (my favorite type of seating!) and began to explore the menu. I immediately asked the waitress what Tempeh was as it sounded like a substitute for Tofu but not quite the same. She gladly replied, "If you don't already like it. Don't try it. I'm vegetarian and don't eat it. It's not good." Well, that made the choice narrowed in but I was still having a hard time choosing between the veggie sandwich, the vegetable stir fry with brown rice or the Yellowfin tuna salad-- so naturally I went with none of them and took a quick chance on the rock shrimp quesadilla. LadyI inspired my choice as she had gone for the same. DMoney went for the catfish sandwich--a random choice but nonetheless solid.

As we awaited our food, the waitress brought over a basket of interesting bread. None of which I could probably describe accurately. One seemed like some sort of pumpkin-esque cornbread probably made with natural oil and non yeast and no glutton or something...which of course I loved but DMoney couldn't stomach without a large shmear of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Next to arrive was my Iced Tea. I was extremely excited when I found a new type of artificial sweetener on the table. Unfortunately, I'm a huge fan of the not so good for you Sweet N Low and Equal. The SweetLeaf Stevia sweetener was calling my name. So I anxiously ripped open the package and poured the packet in without vigorously stirring. Big mistake. The first straw fill was a clumpy gooey and bitter sensation in my mouth. I'm sure (actually I know) that LadyI and DMoney appreciated my contorted face that was disgusted by this horrid sensation. I read the packet instructions. "Pour in portion of content. Stir with liquid. Pour and stir again." Basically the instructions were telling me "You must make sure this shit is dissolved!" DMoney went as far as to taste the contents of the Stevia by itself. After one taste he replied, "Not so bad." After a third taste, his face contorted like mine and asked, "What the fuck is this stuff?"

After the Stevia drama settled down, our food arrived, and the ketchup drama arose. Both LadyI and my quesadillas looked great. Topped with greens and a sauce on the side. It looked like the right decision. DMoney's sandwich looked good as well and the fries on the side topped off the plate. As we began to chow down on our au natural feasts, LadyI snatched a fry from DMoney. "Is that Ketchup?" she asked about the small bowl of condiment on the side. "No, no," he replied, "It's some sort of watery tomatoey tartar sauce." being the condiment connoisseur he is. I then decided to try it because for some reason that sounded good to me. I dipped a fry. " tastes like a sweeter more watered down ketchup to me." I said. (think back to the obsession with sweet N Low). The waitress then appeared to ask how we were doing. DMoney kindly asked for some ketchup on the side. "Oh! That is the Ketchup." she said. The look on DMoney's face was priceless. Apparently, Spring Street Natural (like much of their food) makes the ketchup homemade.

We finished our food which I think I probably enjoyed the most out of the group and as our waitress removed our plates, DMoney commented to our server, "Loved the ketchup by the way." as an act of kindness/flirting I think. I left half my Iced Tea at the table and we picked up and left.

You won't have anything as exotic as wild boar or animal intestines, but if you aren't comfortable with a little crunchy granola (we know LadyI is!) then I wouldn't run to Spring Street Natural. I particularly liked it as a change of pace; a menu where I'd be happy getting most things.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reggae Kitchen

Pretty funny yet includes a recipe for Jamaican Fried Dumplings. Sponsored by Red Stripe. The intro is my fav.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sister Noir

For years, my friends and I have been going to Cafe Noir for their fabulous Sangria and friendly atmosphere. Wild Ginger, specifically, has carved a special place in her heart for the tapas, drinks and characters that reside there. One such character is the pony tailed waiter/manager who loves the ladies so much he took it farther than just offering free cocktails and rested his hands on one of my friend's chest. Silly Sleezy Married Man! Those boobs are not for you! Ging was easily able to forgive and forget, the prospect of wine soaked apples and a bar open till 5am was too good to give up; but for some, they would not return. I still dwell there from time to time for their appetizing foods and festivities as well but the notorious pony tailed server has not been back for quite some time (possibly taking care of his wife?) and I make sure to go there with willing company.

Luckily (or not so luckily for some), a sister restaurant has sprung up in a surprising location on 34th and 2nd. Yes, that's right Murray Hill! From the outside awning, Casaville looks like a cheezy extension of a Mexican restaurant that might serve Pizza as well, but one foot into the dark candle lit atmosphere and you will feel like your not in Murray Hill at all. The same (or similar) sangria can be found and the delightful tapas from Cafe Noir line the menu including the petit paella and the tuna tartar with guacamole. On some nights, it's even rumored that a belly dancer can entertain. (Dr. Doogs says her bf really enjoyed that one! He likes to dance ;)
My first experience at Casaville was great. It was more low key than Noir with some of the same great perks sans touchy staff/regulars. My second experience at Casaville was a little different. Granted I was there with 8 other girls for Doogs's bday celebration and they could hardly get our order right. Our food was brought out in the weirdest of orders, the staff was unaccommodating (and kind of stupid too might I add) and I asked for the Striped Bass Tagine and when the lamb came out, I was not a happy camper. I had to reiterate several times and the staff was not very apologetic. I sat and continually drank my sangria while the rest of my table chowed down; not a good thing for me when we were on our way to BYOB Kareoke. I understand making mistakes and I have absolutely made them but all we asked for was a little acknowledgment. Finally, after 30 minutes and 5 inquiries later, I received my food. I tried to pout in protest but in the end, I was hungry and wanted to eat and caved in. Not without a battle wound though--I have the burn mark from the hot plate on my arm to prove it!
doogs bday

I hope Doog's bday was a fluke because Murray Hill really needs a relaxed establishment like that with fun Moroccan/French tapas and great Sangria but I'll get an outside party's input before I go back for a third time. I'm not sure whether its better to go to the unaccommodating sibling or the one thats overly friendly.

Recommendations Please

So many of you (my friends) have asked me for recommendations of where to go for special dinners be it birthday, Valentines, or a cheap date and now its your turn to tell me. I'm looking for a bday dinner restaurant for my big day with my parents as well as a fun spot with my girl friends. birthday is not for another month and a half but I'd like this reservation in soon so I have my picks. What can I say I'm a planner. I already have a few places in mind..but if I like your suggestion enough, I might just use it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tonight: 1st ever Choice Eats Tasting Event

Robert Sietsema's tastiest picks of the year... check out more. Includes samplings from restaurants like Fatty Crab and Mercadito.

Tonight (March 11th) at the Puck building starting at 630pm.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fiji My Love

Some people say they can't tell the difference- "Water is Water!" But I completely beg to differ. See, I'm one of those people who really doesn't like water much --so the only way I'll drink this clear natural liquid is by:

A. out of sheer and absolute necessity/severe dehydration/I might die if I don't rehydrate my body

B. If it contains carbonation- which is basically sparkling water and doesn't really count but sort of does at the same time

C.If the bottle says Fiji on it.

Soo pretty much I'm a walking advert. Those people at Fiji really know how to make ...or emmm... find the best Artesian Water? You should really try it. Oh and if the good people over at Figi want to send me some cases- I'd be happy to give you my shipping address...Just sayin.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Best of New York 2008

Since I mention New York mag so often, its probably no surprise that reading the paper edition is part of my weekly routine. This week is the Best of New York issue 2008 which is always a great one. Check out the Food and Drink section here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Own Therapy

After a stressful week at work, some people like to unwind with a glass of wine or maybe a hot tea..others with a joint or their favorite book- Me, on the other hand, I find solice in a leisurely trip to Whole Foods (not that the wine or joint sound bad either).

This week was one of those weeks--the kind of week where I was literally counting the minutes till Friday would end and the weekend could begin. The days prior to Friday were long stressful and tiresome so when 7pm arrived, I got the F out of work and made a B-line for the subway. On the way to the train, I got a phone call and while the conversation lasted longer than my walk I decided to walk up to 14th street and soon I found myself standing in front of the almighty Whole Foods- a market I rarely get to spend time in.

In my hood, there are two super markets in close proximity- Food Emporium and Associated. I usually end up going to the first over the latter out of shear laziness and conveniance but neither is particularly known for extremely fresh produce, meats, and fish or organic foods but they definitely beat a bodega. So as I walked down the aisles of Whole Foods, I can only get enticed and inspired by the brightly colored fruits and vegetables that lined the shelves. My first pick-up were large portebello caps that sparked the idea to recreate a Food Network recipe I watched that involved eggs, canadian bacon, pesto and said mushroom caps. I made my way to the dairy section to pick up liquid egg whites to make the recipe my own. The next day for breakfast I made Portabello a la turkegg where I incorporated grilled portebello mushrooms with scrambled egg whites, sauteed onions, tomatoes and honey mustard with grilled turkey and cheese. The outcome was a no carb delight that was extremely filling and tasty.

The next aisle that found me was the fresh fish. I swaggered back and forth deciding whether I wanted an already marinated piece of fish or au natural. I decided to get the black cod and a seperate marinade (miso) so I can use it on vegetables as well(eggplant, soybeans and shredded carrots). While I love the Nobu rendition of this dish and have the recipe as well, I wasn't about to wait 2-3 days for the marinade to sink in- I'd have to deal with a day and that would be fine...and it was.


While the line to check out was a bit out of control and the bill was expensive for a bag of groceries, I can't help but love the calm of picking out the perfect produce or the cut of fish and know it's going to be great. Maybe I'm just a food dork (ok- we all know I am!) but it just sets up for my next therapeutic session when I'm by myself chopping, dicing, prepping and inevitably cooking. It's kind of funny how a NYer unwinds by being productive!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It Hurts So Good

Trying to find a compromising place to eat when you are on a diet but your friends like to eat sloppy Mexican and fried cheap foods can be rough but not impossible. When ADuh, Doogs and I decided to pick a restaurant to dine at a couple weeks ago, I knew I would have to input some suggestions when the first places they came up with were Tequilla’s (the sloppy nachos joint) followed by Luzzo for Pizza and they threw in taco bell for good measure. After some pondering, we decided on The Smith; a sister restaurant to Jane and located in the E Village on 3rd avenue. I figured I could have fish while ADuh can decide whether or not she wanted to stick to her diet and Doogs could..well could indulge herself.

When we got to The Smith on 9pm Friday night with a set reservation both the foyer and bar area was packed and it was a little daunting. When they couldn’t find a reservation, I started to get annoyed but they accommodated us fast enough that soon we were enjoying cocktails at a cramped table trying to figure out what to get. A Duh and I both decided on fish- me with the cod and A Duh’s with the salmon. Doogs went for the short rib (a signature fav of mine) and we decided to go with two apps- one indulgent and one with boundaries. The Greek Salad and the tomato cheese soup. The salad was actually pretty decent but the soup...well the soup was just not to be f’d with.

Think French onion soup but nix the French onion part and replace that with hearty tomaoto soup. Then swap the Gueryan cheese for Cheddar and melt it to plenty on the bowl with a nice piece of bread within to top it off. Basically it was like dipping bread into an Italian tomato sauce and it came already melted with cheese. It was kind of out of control and kind of amazing. I took two spoon fulls and had to return the bowl to its rightful owner (doogs) for fear of jumping in. My salad just didn’t stand up. A Duh pretty much did the same. The soup was definitely the best thing we had all night. Our main courses were all good but nothing to rave about. Kind of standard. And for dessert, Doogs decided to get their homemade ice cream with peanut brittle and chocolate syrup…which again, was pretty redonculous.

Point being, the Smith is a decent place- nothing amazing, nothing bad unless you want to go all out and calorie splurge. Then its like a really great bad habit that you don’t want to stop.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Anyone else extremely annoyed by Rachel Ray? What started as an aversion to her annoying phrase "Delich" (which is less about the word than the way she says it) and spiraled into a "Why the hell does she have her own show on network televison?" has now become a "Please...why does she have to interrupt my normal programming with a dunkin' donuts commercial!"

I'm a frequent dunkin' donuts coffee drinker and now I have to get a severe nauseating feeling every time I go into one of the many chained stores by staring at her annoying face and hearing her voice in my head say "Dunkin!" and "Delich!"

Please please please send her back up-state!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dreamy and low Carb

The carb craze has been going on for years from the atkins diet to the salad bar. It's pretty obvious that if you eat an all-carb diet you will probably gain weight ( least I would!). Personally, I love carbs too much to give them up completely so I've tried alternatives like using only whole wheat bread or eating a wrap rather than a sandwich but the one thing that I could never get into was whole wheat pasta. Deep down, I'm basically half Italian. I love pasta and tomato sauce and anything with cheese but this has basically cornered me into eating a ton of frozen style meals from the likes of Amy's Organic to Lean Cuisine so I can indulge in this carb delight.

Recently, I came across the answer to my prayers. As I was browsing the pasta aisle ready to give in to the hard and cardboardy whole wheat pasta, one box caught my eye with touts of "Low Carb." I looked at the nutrition information.

The brand was called dreamfields. The type of pasta- Rotini. Although it comes in other styles as well.

What the hell- I'll try it. It can't be any worse than the whole wheat types. And to my surprise, this pasta is great. 3/4 of a cup goes a long way; it tastes just like regular pasta and doesn't make you feel like a beached whale afterwards. I'm a total fan and needed to pass on this best kept secret.

Friday, January 25, 2008

African Red Bush ('nuff said)

Last weekend, after leaving brunch Koover, my sis and I decided to stop in for a Tazo tea at Starbucks. I was overwhelmed by the selection of flavors and while Koover had his staple Ginger Green Tea and my sis went for what she knew- “Awake” which was a standard black tea, I sorted through the packets looking for one to call out to me. And man did that happen.

Sometimes I’m a little out of it- so when I came across this blended flavored tea, I asked Koover how’s African Red Bush? The barista chimed in- it’s pretty good and I replied, “Oh, this sounds interesting. I’ll go with the African Red Bush.” At that very moment, I realized the name was well..interesting…and turned bright red. My sis and Koovs being the mature adults that they are burst out laughing and ran to go put sugars in their tea leaving me awkwardly giggling with the barista. The thirty seconds I waited for my tea seemed like the longest half a minute that I couldn’t stop laughing and soon enough tears were streaming down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop and the three of us were contagious. We finally put a halt to the laughing when we got outside but then Koover had to reiterate, “African Red Bush? Ohh.. how interesting!” Great laugh but I’ve had better tea.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

High Mercury in Tuna...Noooooooooooooo

This is some of the most disappointing news ever!! Tuna is by far my favorite type of sushi and I def eat 6 pieces a week!! Please check out this article.

Not to mention the samples were from some of the best Sushi restaurants and some of my personal favs including Blue Ribbon Sushi and Sushi Seki.

From the article:"Tuna samples from the Manhattan restaurants Nobu Next Door, Sushi Seki, Sushi of Gari and Blue Ribbon Sushi and the food store Gourmet Garage all had mercury above one part per million, the “action level” at which the F.D.A. can take food off the market. (The F.D.A. has rarely, if ever, taken any tuna off the market.) The highest mercury concentration, 1.4 parts per million, was found in tuna from Blue Ribbon Sushi. The lowest, 0.10, was bought at Fairway."