Tavern on Jane is a quaint restaurant and bar in the West Village on the corner of Eighth Ave and Jane Street, a fun, cozy space I visit often, and a gathering place where everybody does know your name. I recently did a photo shoot for the owner Michael Stewart of their new revamped space and some of their hot food items on their newly redesigned menu.
They have always had amazing food, but I have to say their new lineup is super tasty and you have to see the new burgers they have on the menu now!
They also have some fantastic new dishes like the Beer Battered Fish and Chips; Short Rib and Butternut Squash Risotto; Steamed Mussels; Beet, Arugula and Citrus Salad and so much more. Delicious, high-end comfort food and the portions are unreal.
They also have a new Executive Chef, Josh LaBadie, who has brought a variety of new flavors and inspiration to the restaurant from his seasoned experience at top NYC restaurants including Terroir, Central Park Boathouse, and Capitale Grille.
Check out the photos I shot of their newly redesigned space and delicious new items on the menu below. And definitely stop in for a burger and a beer, or for a nice intimate dinner with friends in their back room, fireplace and all. You’ll surely be welcomed by Mr. Stewart and his friendly staff, and most likely will be back for more. Again and again.
As the year 2014 is coming to an end, it’s always interesting to see what was hot and what was not in the culinary world and what new food and flavor trends we will see in the New Year 2015. Popular trends seem to come and go each year affecting everything we see: restaurants, blogs, online stores, magazines, TV shows, and even fast food and packaged goods and advertising.
2014 had plenty of interesting ones that went big this year:
Culinary mashups: Cronuts (croissant donuts), Wonuts (waffle donuts), Quesarito (a quesadilla rolled into a burrito), bananas fosters pancakes, bagel burgers, ramen burgers, pretzel subs, Chicken waffle sandwiches, you name it – crazy Frankenfood dishes hit the scene this year.
Spicy burgers: burgers went nuclear this year with everything and anything spicy – Sriracha mayo, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, spicy onion rings, melted pepper jack cheese, harissa, ancho chipotle sauce, Mexican burgers with spicy ranch sauce…the list goes on.
Bahn Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich made with roasted pork, marinated vegetables, and herbs on a baguette
Creative cookies: decadent makeovers on classic cookies
Umami veggies: savory flavors will infuse new recipes such as tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, nori, sweet potatoes
Smoked spices: deeper richer flavors for foods through smoked spices
Sour notes: coarse salt with sour notes from sour cherry, pickled ginger, mango and lemon zest add zing and bling. Burgers topped with kimchi. Shrubs (preserved fruits with vinegar and sugar) will show up in cocktails.
Liquid revolution: juice blends from fruits and vegetables to make healthy flavorful sauces
Global blends: Japanese 7 spice (aka shichimi togarashi) combines chilies, sesame, orange zest and nori. Shawarma Middle Eastern blends made with cinnamon, cumin and black pepper are also going big.
Tacos: regional and modern taco joints and pop ups are going to be everywhere
Scrambled eggs: forget poached and deviled – scrambled eggs for dinner with savory sauces and ingredients are hot.
Spicy flavors: Sriracha will still be in style, as well as international spices like Thai bird chiles that give a serious kick.
Flavor without fat: Chefs are now infusing meats and vegetables with flavor by grilling, rotisseries and smoke.
Meat spreads: Nduja is an Italian meat spread made with ground pork and spices, great for spreading on toast or filling ravioli.
Artisanal candies: Bourbon and sea salt caramels, ice cream gummies and other creative confectionaries will be everywhere.
Soft serve ice cream: seasonal flavors and innovative sundae creations are another hot item in the dessert scene.
Spanish cuisine: Tapas and small plates from the Spanish region will be hot in the fast-casual restaurant world.
Savory pancakes: think potato pancakes on steroids – infused with different vegetable flavors and creative toppings and sauces.
Patty melts: this classic diner dish heats up the food scene with innovative twists on this half burger / half grilled cheese sammie.
Mini cocktails: smaller versions of cocktails served in half portions are popping up to give customers the opportunity to taste more varieties
Artisanal hard cider: move over craft beer, the new trend is using artisanal hard cider to create libations with unusual ingredients such as bourbon, house-made Dijon syrup and thyme.
Gin: new places opening up that solely serve the classic Gin and Tonic in different ways
High-end daiquiris and frozen drinks: new twists on the daiquiri and slushie drink infused with fun flavors and alcohol combinations
Meals to go: restaurants and food brands understand the consumers shrinking leisure time by creating high end meals to go making it easier to eat gourmet food without spending hours eating out or cooking at home.
Family-style dining: more restaurants will be serving meals family style with larger portions to share around the table.
These are a few of my favorite things…food, wine, cooking tools, home and barware, recipes, cookbooks, etc…just simply places and things I love that I think are notable and worth a big shout out for their awesomeness! And they make great gifts for the holidays as well..Happy Holidays everyone!
1. A Kitchen in France: A year of cooking in my farmhouse – cookbook by Mimi Thorisson
This is a gorgeous full color cookbook by Mimi Thorisson of Manger, one of my favorite food bloggers. It’s full of beautiful photos by her husband and lovely recipes from her farmhouse in France. Enough to make you want to quit your job and move there and bake tarts all day long.
English Toffee is one of those things I absolutely crave during the holidays! It’s rich, buttery, crunchy and chocolatey and makes the perfect gift, whether you make your own or get some pre-made it’s absolutely delicious and addicting. In fact, I’m planning to make some myself this year for stocking stuffers!
Here’s a great recipe for it on Food.com, or pick up a batch at Williams-Sonoma which comes in a festive holiday tin.
Everyone loves a cocktail party but sometimes it’s more work than you expect it to be. Mouth.com, a specialty indie food store has a Holiday Cocktail Party set that has all the essentials packaged up by local food producers to get your holiday party in gear. It comes with a variety of cheeses, Ginger Caramels, Old Bay peanuts, Vanilla Pickled Cherries, Sesame Lavish Crackers, Dark Chocolates and more. YUM.
Pick one up online here, and check out their other fun collections while you’re at it!
5. Capiz Shell Beaded Table Linens – Neiman Marcus
Absolutely love these gorgeous Capiz shell beaded table linens by Kim Seybert at Neiman Marcus. It comes in a table runner and placemats with matching napkin rings. Festive enough to feast at Christmas like Queen Victoria. LOVE.
Il Buco Vita is a hidden gem, above the Il Buco Italian restaurant in NoHo NYC. It’s a showroom full of gorgeous handmade Italian and Mediterranean ceramics, linens, glassware, home furnishings and antiques that will make you swoon.
Visit their store online here and their showroom at 51 Bond Street, NYC
8. Dorie Greenspan’s Golden Caramel and Chocolate Tart
I love making tarts during the holidays, especially luscious ones made with caramel and chocolate. Dorie’s has a simple recipe for making a perfect tart dough, and the filling is perfect too, with melted bittersweet chocolate lining the crust with a silky, creamy homemade golden caramel on top. Divine.
As foodies, I know we all love to cook. But sometimes we get stuck in a rut and need a boost for some new creative ideas for our cooking. Same goes for cocktails – we drink the same old thing and how fun would it be to toss a few dice and get some fresh ideas for your mixology? Check out the Foodie Dice and Mixology Dice – with just a simple toss, you’ll get suggestions for making your own fab creations with fresh ingredients and combinations of your own.
10. Vintage Etched Champagne Flutes – Williams Sonoma
What kind of holiday celebration would it be without some bubbly? Get these gorgeous vintage etched champagne flutes from Williams-Sonoma for the party, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up some bubbly to fill them with! If you’re in the mood to splurge, try a vintage 2004 Dom Perignon ($160), or try a Cremant de Bourgogne, a little less expensive than Champagne made in a Brut Rose, but just as tasty and bubbly ($24). Or try some sparkling wine (Blanc de Blancs) as an option- Gloria Ferrer has a great one from Sonoma CA.
Baked calzones are one of my favorite Italian dishes to make when I want an alternative to pizza or pasta. Calzones are savory turnovers filled with meat, veggies and cheese, baked into little pockets of tasty goodness, served with a side of fresh tomato sauce for dipping.
For a recent KitchenAid recipe challenge for the Kitchenthusiast blog, I made some delicious Savory Veggie and Cheese Scones Filled with More Cheese & Meat – stuffed, baked calzones, but made with an herb and cheese scone dough that is light and buttery and super tasty.
They are filled with tons of fresh veggies: tricolor peppers, onions, garlic and spinach with a little spicy Italian sausage and more cheese inside.
I made the scone dough with my new KitchenAid 11-cup Food Processorthat I absolutely love – it does everything from making the dough, to chopping the veggies to shredding the cheese and making the homemade fresh tomato marinara sauce!
There’s nothing I love to eat more in the summer than some fresh seafood to enjoy with friends for a backyard BBQ, picnic or beach party. Everyone loves Lobster Rolls, but they can get a little pricey, and take a lot of work to make enough for a crowd. If you’re in the mood for seafood, Alaskan King Crab BLT sandwiches are a fresh, healthy and less expensive alternative, and a fun addition to your next outdoor BBQ party or picnic. And, they’re a breeze to make with the help of the new KitchenAid Pro Line® Series 4-Slice Automatic Toaster.
This gorgeous candy apple red beauty is a new product in the KitchenAid’s Pro Line® Series engineered and designed for culinary pros (and is no ordinary toaster at that!) It’s not only a beautiful addition to your kitchen appliance collection, but also smart as a whip with plenty of options to make the perfect piece of toast in a snap. And it even comes in three sleek colors to choose from: black, white or red. Isn’t it pretty?
These delicious Crab BLT’s are made with fresh lump Alaskan King crab meat (you can find it in your local grocery market in the seafood section or buy it fresh from a seafood market). They have tons of flavor from all the fresh veggies and herbs inside: minced red bell peppers, jalapenos, fresh cilantro, scallions and chives. For some extra kick, I add a dash of spicy Sriracha (hot chile pepper sauce), a little bit of mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice and capers, and a few breadcrumbs to bind them all together. Simply make the crab cakes by patting them into medium size patties, then coat them in some Japanese Panko breadcrumbs and lightly fry them to perfection in some oil and drain. Rest the crab cakes on a gorgeous bed of lettuce and juicy tomatoes, garnished with crispy bacon and a light and refreshing coleslaw for crunch. The crowning touch is a homemade Sesame-Sriracha Mayo on a beautifully toasted (or grilled) sesame hard roll. Let the fun begin!
Summer is here and it’s absolutely my favorite time of the year! The sun is shining, the trees are in bloom, and everyone is outside enjoying the weather making it prime time for entertaining family and friends with barbecue and cocktails by the beach, lake or even in the backyard by the pool. I’ve put together some party planning and decorating tipsfor the perfect summer outdoor beach party, along with some menu ideas featuring lots of fresh seafood, finger foods, and refreshing fruits and veggies.
One of my favorite recipes to make for a summer outdoor beach party is a Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Salad with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette. It has a light, lemony herb dressing with fresh basil and tarragon, lots of veggies including cucumbers, celery, roasted red peppers, grilled corn and scallions for some extra crunch, and fresh sautéed savory shrimp. It goes perfectly with grilled chicken, burgers, skewers and fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple and mango.
Here are a few of my favorite things I am crushing on – some new and notable, and others just downright awesome and worthy of a shout out – people, places, things that are just absolutely THE BOMB.
If you’re looking for a magical place to wine and dine near NYC’s Theatre District, this is the place you must see and experience before or after a night on Broadway. Chez Josephine, owned by Jean-Claude Baker and Jarry Baker, is located on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. This beautiful restaurant is in tribute to Jean-Claude’s mother (adopted) Josephine Baker, and a vivid return to 1920s and 1930s Paris – the city she loved and thrived in during her career as a premiere entertainer and stage and screen star. It’s a great place to relax with a cocktail and live music – the jazz piano and singers located in the center of the dining room will entertain you as you dine in this enchanting place. The decor is elegant and charming, with its ornate blue tin ceilings, red velvet walls, black glass chandeliers and life-sized vintage portraits of Ms. Baker throughout the restaurant. The French Bistro-style cuisine is delightful in every way with elegant cocktails, salads, entrees and desserts. On a recent visit I experienced a truly delicious and enchanting dinner here with a friend. We started out our meal with some lovely French Sauvignon/Semillon wine and an appetizer of Sauteed Jumbo Sea Scallops wrapped in crispy flavorful Prosciutto with a gorgeous sauce over the top. For our entrees, we ordered the Amish Roasted Chicken, over a bed of crushed zucchin, garlic and fresh goat cheese and their spectacular Lobster Salad. For dessert, we sampled the elegant Peach Raspberry Melba Ice Cream, Creme Brulee and Cappuccino before another cocktail to finish off the evening as we listened to the beautiful jazz music in the buzzing dining room. They also have a weekly Prix Fixe Sunday Brunch for $20 including a Soup or Salad for starters, a main Brunch item such as French Toast or Spaghetti Bolognese, and coffee or tea and a dessert. You don’t want to miss this place the next time you visit NYC. It will take you back in time and space to a beautiful early century Paris and envelop you with all the glitter and drama and beauty of Ms. Josephine Baker herself.
I recently visited this awesome Spanish restaurant in the West Village called Tio Pepe – and had an amazing meal there. We started out with some lovely Rioja wine and Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and Gambas al Ajillo — sauteed shrimp with garlic, olive oil, and Albarino wine for an appetizer, then had the Entrecote a la Parilla — grilled choice sirloin steak with garlic, olive oil and sea salt served with sauteed julienned vegetables and a potato cake; and Paella Valenciana — Saffron laced Bomba rice with clams, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and chorizo for our entree. For dessert, we had the luscious Flan al Caramelo — a traditional Spanish custard topped in caramel sauce to finish off our meal. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!
It’s in a gorgeous elegant space, with a back sun-lit patio area with a wood burning oven where they make their own pizzas and other main dishes on the menu, including the Paella. Tio Pepe is the only restaurant in New York – and one of the only in the US – to use this type of wood burning oven when preparing traditional Spanish fare. The oven was installed this year as a new addition to Tio Pepe, a cornerstone of the West Village for 44 years. Chef Jose Zamora joined Tio Pepe as part of the restaurants commitment to authentic Spanish cuisine.
The owners of Tio Pepe are Jimmy Sanz and his family. Originally from Spain, the Sanz and has been serving NY locals and tourists traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine for over four decades at their stable of NY restaurants including: Tio Pepe, Casa Pepe,Las Ramblas, Burrito Loco, The Taco Shop and Da Rosina. Chef Jose Zamora is a native of Tarragona, Spain. He began his career working at a family friend’s restaurant. He received two culinary degrees, one from Le Cordon Bleu in the U.S. and one from the Institution Culinario de Cambrils in Spain. His cooking is inspired by both Spanish and French cuisine. He is devoted to using the best ingredients and implementing a simplistic stylist technique with dynamic presentation. As the new executive chef at Tio Pepe, his goal is to provide memorable dining experiences through passionately created culinary dishes.
There’s tons of cool hotels in New York City – but I recently discovered one that is not only super cool but gorgeous inside with its modern design and rooftop patio deck outside.
YOTEL New Yorkcollaborated with NYC-based custom bike company Mott Street Cycles Customs (formerly STRADA Customs) in honor of Bike Month in May. I got to preview these cool cruisers at the YOTEL X MSC: The YOTEL Cruiser Launch Event earlier this month for cocktails & light bites from China Grill Management’s brand new menus for this season at The Terrace at YOTEL New York. They had a live DJ and raffles to to win an MSC Customs bike while we sipped cocktails on the roofdeck.
The YOTEL x MSC Customs partnership provides a fun and eco-friendly experience that is integral to the New York City lifestyle and offers hotel guests specially designed bikes to use as a complimentary amenity throughout their stay. The 2014 fleet of bikes feature three color variations – purple, green and white –along with the YOTEL logo, hand-painted wood grain fenders, leather grips and leather saddles, creating a distinct look exclusive to YOTEL and brand new for this year. Guests can book their bike reservation through the concierge desk who will direct them to Bike and Rollat Pier 84, along 12th Avenue to pick up their custom cruisers.
Mouth is a really cool online foodie store, but it’s not your average online shop, it’s only indie food by indie artisan food producers and everything is handmade, small batch, and made in the USA. Mouth curates and hunts down the coolest new indie products on the market and then curates all these goodies into cool gift packages based on a holiday, occasion, or gift ideas such as: Birthday in a Bag, Breakfast in Bed, Bring Home the Bacon,Bee Happy Taster, or Brooklyn Taster, just to name a few. Maple Bourbon Bread and Butter Pickles, an endless array of honeys and jams, cheese, chocolate, sea salts, salami, cookbooks, herbs and spices, jerky, caramels, condiments, and the list goes on and on. This is a foodie’s dream come to true, and their site makes it super easy to search for and buy super cool gourmet artisan food to your favorite foodie friends and family. I could just shop here all day long.
Bacardi just released nationwide the newest addition to its flavored rum family: Bacardi Mango Fusion. The new flavored rum fuses refreshing juicy mango and orange flavors and can be consumed as a shot or mixed with fruit juices, lemon-lime soda, or sweet-and-sour mix as a cocktail. It has a light, crisp flavor profile and is perfect mixed with OJ, or angostura bitters, or with Bacardi Coconut Rum and a splash of grenadine. Check out some of their new Cocktail Recipes!
If you haven’t tried a SmashBurger yet, well, you need to. They just opened a new location in NYC near the Empire State Building, and I was able to attend their Grand Opening not too long ago where they gave out free burgers all day long to New Yorkers to sample their goods. Their handcrafted burgers are smashed, seared and seasoned to order, using our fresh, never frozen 100% Certified Angus Beef. They have tons of amazing sides to go with of course, I tried the Signature Smashfries which are hand-tossed with garlic, rosemary and olive oil – and absolutely DELICIOUS. They also have fun menu items like hand-breaded haystack onions and fried pickles, hand-spun shakes, grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, split and grilled hot dogs, crisp entrée salads and black bean veggie burgers with tons of fresh toppings including Truffle Mushroom, Avocado, and Spicy Jalapeno. This is no ordinary burger joint – it’s outta control super good.
Maia is more than just delicious Less-Sweet Non-Fat & Low-Fat yogurt. It is packed with 25+ Billion strands of live active probiotic bacteria, Prebiotic Fiber, Protein, and all the other goodies you need to empower health & wellness. Maia’s grass-fed milk comes from local dairy farmers (never giving their cows hormones) so every cup is fresher and friendlier to the environment. Maia is Gluten-Free too! They have eight delicious flavors: Plain, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Raspberry Lime, Peach, Pineapple and Pomegranate Cherry. This Greek yogurt is rich and creamy and perfect for making Fruit and Granola parfaits, topping Quesadillas, or making a delicious low fat yogurt dip for crackers and fresh veggies. Delicious! Click here to see what all the buzz is about!
First we had donuts, then we had croissants, then we had cronuts. Well here;s the coolest new food fad by a place in Chicago called Waffles Cafe who’s created the WONUT. A cross between a waffle and a donut – these babies are made with a thick waffle batter in either chocolate, vanilla or red velvet. Then they are poured into an iron press and then deep-fried until they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Then the fun begins – they are glazed and topped with all kinds of gorgeous toppings – chocolate, sugar, maple, sprinkles, pistachios, cocoa, granola, dried fruits, marshmallow, chopped nuts, you name it. These sweet treats are selling for $2.35 a piece and yes, they’ve been selling like hotcakes since they invented these gorgeous things. I’m sure it won’t be long before they hit the streets of NYC. At least I’m hoping. Otherwise, it’s a great excuse to take a roadtrip to Chicago for one for these delightful creations.
a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99
a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99
This is a groovy little place I stumbled upon in the East Village one night when I was looking for a quick bite and a cocktail. It’s cozy, busy (in a good way), and the moody lighting and delicious wafts of the food will draw you in – just grab a seat at the bar and be prepared to swoon over their awesome menu of Southern comfort food and cocktails. Must try the fresh baked homemade pretzels with beer cheese, the redhead buttermilk fried chicken over creamy grits, with a soy-molasses jus, sesame, ham, b&b pickles. Other favorites are the cheeseburger with homemade waffle chips, the homemade bacon peanut brittle, stout braised short ribs, and the brussels sprouts seared in duck fat, wine and apples are to DIE FOR. And you can’t leave this place without trying their signature cocktail –the redhead fizz made with orange vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice. This has to be one of my favorite finds yet.
Bocca Di Bacco is an Italian restaurant with six locations in NYC, their newest one opening on the Upper West Side on W 85th Street. It’s a favorite spot for celebrities, tourist and native New Yorkers and they are famous for their Sunday Brunch. Their top-notch Italian cuisine is designed by Food Network Judge Chef Kristin Sollenne, and they also have an excellent wine selection with 500 of the best wines from renowned Italian wineries. I recently went to the 7th Ave & 21st street location for dinner and sampled the Eggplant Involtini, made with fresh buffalo ricotta, fresh eggplant and mint served in a gorgeous red sauce. For dinner my friend and I had the Braised Short Ribs over Stewed Cabbage and the Roasted Pork Chops with Rosemary Potatoes. We finished off our lovely meal with a boozy dessert made with Prosecco, Mango Puree and Whipped Egg Whites topped with a sprinkling of ground espresso. Delicioso!
Here are a few of my current objects of obsession…food, wine, cooking tools and gadgets, restaurants, ingredients, props, styling and photography tools, etc…just simply places and things I love that I think are notable and worth a big shout out for their wonderful-ness! Enjoy.
1. Rice Cube Sushi Maker
Sushi can sometimes be a laborious and time consuming thing to make and messy at that. The Rice Cube Sushi maker is just a cool little plastic cube that makes it super easy to make cute and colorful sushi with rice, risotto, polenta, lentils and even falafel. Just add your proteins and veggies and seasonings to the rice, pop it into the cube and voila – you’ve got gorgeous bite size sushi cubes that will brighten up an party tray. Pretty Awesome.Click here for some fun recipe ideas too.
I’m a hot sauce addict, and have tried almost everyone one in the world..and this one is definitely one of my favs – it’s a little bit hot, a little bit sweet, and a little bit tangy and it does go on everything and anything! Originally developed for Autumn Pig Roasts held in the hills south of Naples, NY – it’s great as a marinade, grilling sauce for pork, chicken and beef, tortilla dips, pretzels, on eggs, homefries and for added zing to soups and stews. LOVE IT.
Perfect for the wine aficionado, Verseur 4-in-1 Wine Opener is not only gorgeous, but a convenient multi-tool that combines everything you need to open, serve and save your best wines. It has an easy to use corkscrew, foil cutter, pour spout and rubber stopper all in one nifty sleek-looking tool. Comes in black or metallic red and runs $24.99. Oh, and it was also designed by Angelo Cacchione of London – just a regular guy with a brilliant idea come to life with the help of Quirky.com and their community. Definitely a cool site to check out for fun, inventive items.
I first tried Maguey Sweet Sap at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC last year. It’s an organic, sustainable raw sweetener made with a varied sugar profile that comes from the maguey plant (similar to agave) from the deserts of Mexico. It’s also a natural source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and prebiotic soluble fiber and has a flavor similar to molasses but is less thick. Great sugar substitute for baking, sweetening drinks, yogurts, fruits, pancakes. Just might be a new favorite.
I don’t have much to say other than – who doesn’t love a little bling? These sparkling cuties will brighten up any party in a heartbeat, and come in silver, gold, pink and yellow. Just too fun. Plus, LEIF has a ton of other creative and unique tabletop items, jewelry, accessories, apothecary and other cool objets de désir on their site. Glam it up a little.
Now I’m a sucker for homemade comfort food and especially Sunday Brunch – if you’re in this with me, you gotta check out Penelope in Murray Hill, NYC. It’s a charming cafe, bakery and bar on the corner of Lexington and 30th St – decked out in a tiny space with a blue and white striped awning, a buzzing, homey, interior with wood tables, coffee brewing, and a line out the door on Sunday mornings. Jennifer Potenza and her partner Michael Tsoumpas opened Penelope in 2003 with the goal of creating homey comfort food based on her Mom’s recipes and the cafes and bakeries Jenny has worked in throughout the years. Some of my favs on the menu are the Nutella French Toast, Penny Egg Sandwich, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Arugula with Warm Chicken Meatballs Salad, Joey & Jack’s Chicken Pot Pie, and the Sweet Peas Macaroni and Cheese is um, TO. DIE. FOR. Tons of great burgers, sandwiches and sides too with plenty of vegetarian options. Oh, and they named the cafe after their pet turtle, Penelope, who is seen by appointment only. I have yet to meet her.
Little Ink is a New Zealand-based company with an online store full of great products for packaging, wrapping, baking, crafting and parties. A site full of crafty and colorful items for mixing and matching fabrics, papers, twine and all kinds of other DIY goodies. Mason jars, glass milk bottles, paper baking supplies, ribbons, bags, boxes, stickers, stamps, straws, decorations – you name it..they got it. And it’s all just fun. A creative girl’s dream come true.
9. Asselina Ristorante, Gansevoort Park Ave South NYC
Asselina is a swanky Italian restaurant and bar located in the Gansevoort Hotel on Park Avenue South in NYC. Fireplaces, chic design and lighting, private lounges and patios, and oh, did I mention the FOOD yet? My last feast was a sampling off the lunch menu which was plenty of food for 3 or 4 people. We had the Wood-Fired Pizza with Black Truffle and Farmer’s Egg; the Baked Eggplant with Fresh Ricotta, Tomato and Basil; the House Meatballs with Tomato and Sugo; and the Baby Beet Salad with Cantaloupe, Mache and Ricotta Salata. I can only imagine how divine their dinner menu must be with their impressive wine list to boot. Three words:Rustic. Modern. Sexy.
There’s something beautiful about handcrafted wooden tools and servingware that I just can’t get enough of. Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co. is a wood crafting studio located in Kingston, NY who make gorgeous, unique, handcrafted items. None of their items are alike, and they use only domestic hardwoods that are sustainably harvested. And I’m all for supporting local craftsmen and resources from NY State too. Simply lovely.
It’s hard to believe that 2013 is coming to an end shortly. There’s been so many fun food festivals, events and restaurant openings this year that it’s been quite the whirlwind! It’s great to be in the food and hospitality industry and connected to some of the Best of the Best to experience new places, meet new people, try delicious food and cocktails and hob knob with some of the Top Chefs and Restaurateurs around the country. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite New and Notable Restaurants, Chefs and Food Events of 2013 that deserve a nod for their outstanding hospitality and efforts in the food world. Check it out and give these guys a go. Happy Holidays and may 2014 be filled with more fun, food and festivities to go around!
I recently attended a fantastic event at Metaphore in NYC where we sampled delectable Gluten-Free dishes by Owner and Executive Chef Jehangir Mehta. The event was in support of the national Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour in an effort to elevate the importance of food safety and promotion of gluten-free items in the restaurant and foodservice sector. Chef Mehta teamed up with GREAT Kitchens, a National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)to create the Chef’s Table Tour which features exclusive gluten-free dining experiences from executive chefs in fine dining restaurants, gluten-free cooking demos with local media and interactive educational experiences at partner universities. The 10-city Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour debuted this Fall in New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles and will culminate in the spring with an open call for spring tour restaurants and institutions through January 2014. Check out some of the delicious gluten-free goodies we sampled in the slideshow below – Fresh Oysters with Cilantro Pesto and Tapioca Crisps, Foie Gras with Berry Jam on Gluten-Free Toast, Crispy Onion Ring, Pesto and Tofu, Seared Duck Breast with Pickled Onions, Mustard and Portabella Mushrooms, and a gorgeous Gluten-Free Ice Cream Sundae. click here to view the full Gluten-Free menuat Metaphore.
San Diego Restaurant Week Taste 2013
One of my favorite events this year was out in California when I went to visit some friends for some sun, fun and R&R. I got invited to attend the 2nd Annual #SDRWTaste2013, an event to kick off the start of San Diego Restaurant Week! The event was a super fun kick-off party and culinary adventure at the Broadway Pier where people from all over San Diego gathered to celebrate San Diego Restaurant Week and indulge in some of the finest foods and beverages! #SDRWTaste2013 showcased some of the top culinary talents of SDRW chefs from throughout the County. At this premiere tasting event, over 40 of San Diego Restaurant Week’s best restaurants served up samples of their house specialties paired with a unique beverage to enhance the flavors of each dish.
A special nod goes out to VinVillage, the online community for wine lovers, who sponsored my attendance to this fabulous event and who showcased a plethora of top notch wines for tasting to the event goers. Check out their website to join the community and get access to their events, newsletters, forums, online store and wine tastings around the country.
The weather and the view of the ocean was amazing, and so was my company of good friends. I think it may have also convinced me to move to San Diego someday…what’s not to love?
100 Montaditos NYC
Another fun VIP restaurant opening event I attended was for 100 Montaditos, a new multinational franchise bringing unique Spanish cuisine to the West Village of NYC. The West Village shop specializes in tapas-sized sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread (mini-heroes!) with 100 unique filling combinations such as Chorizo and Manchego cheese, Blue Cheese with Ham and Strawberry Jam and Serrano Ham with Tomato and Olive Oil. They also have “Americanized” versions such as the Philly Cheese Steak, Meatballs with Marinara, Hot Dogs with Bacon, Ketchup and Mustard and Pulled BBQ Pork. They even have some sweet dessert Montaditos such as Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Spread or Heavy Cream and Oreos – all served on CHOCOLATE BREAD. That’s right – CHOCOLATE BREAD. The atmosphere is casual and buzzing and the prices are reasonable at $1 to $2.50 per Montaditos so grab a plateful with some friends and sip a Sangria or two while you’re at it. Check out the goods in the slideshow below!
Chef Jonathan Cartwright and his culinary team of chefs were in the open kitchen showcasing “Taste of Grace” canapés from the Grace Hotel properties around the world with samples of delicious cuisine from Central & South America, Europe & Asia and North America as well as wine and spirits. My favorite was the Wood-Smoked Lobster over Corn Puree with Butter Sauce, served in tiny smoke-infused pots. The most gorgeous, delectable thing I’ve ever tasted! Check out all the other beautiful canapés we sampled that night in the slideshow below.
The James Hotel Winter Art Garden NYC
I recently attended the fascinating unveiling of the new Winter Art Garden at The James NYhotel. Curated by The James NY’s resident artist Matt Jensen and Recess Art, the installation titled Still Moving will feature the work of five (5) up & coming artists whose outdoor sculptures initiate a chatter of heat and motion in an otherwise still and icy winter landscape. Continuing The James’ commitment to providing a stellar art program and the SoHo neighborhood, the exhibit will be open hotel guests and the public just in time for the holiday season beginning on December 12th, 2013 through March 2014.
Garden Art Sculptures & Artist Biographies
Beth Campbell, “If it is possible it’s possible” 2013
Piece makes sculptural a quirky line drawing or diagram. There is a sense of instability and indecipherability in the meandering nature of the line and the movement in the multiple parts. This is an attempt to get at the veiled instability or slippage of things.
Dave Hardy, Untitled, 2013
Balancing the precarious structures of interiority—from the physiological to the architectonic—with the brazen forces of externalized expression and brute will to form, Hardy’s sculptural works depict an unrelenting tension. The work captures the paradoxical demands of contemporary artistic life, where each new gesture appears at the brink of collapse.
Marie Lorenz, Flotsam Garland, 2013
The flower garland is often a symbol of celebration but also of impermanence, temporality, the passing from life to death. In India, flower garlands are used in temples, designed with horticultural rules passed down from generations. These Flotsam Garlands are made from things found on the beach, already subject to the ravages of time and tide.
Alina Tenser, Untitled Screen II, 2013
Tenser’s Screen is to be simultaneously, looked at and looked through. The surface is reflective and translucent, allowing the viewer to experience a polar state of their image being bounced back to them and their vision going past the image, essentially looking past themselves.
Jeff Williams, Supernatant Fossil, 2012
Williams sets up material experiments in which natural and industrial components interact to change or break down existing compositions and structures. Here, a series of floor sculptures contain Central Texas fossils, resting on weathered plexiglass sheets. The weight of the fossil produces a concavity in the plexiglass, which is filled with a puddle of calcium sulfate (gypsum). The fossils slowly wick the chemical solution over time and accumulate gypsum deposits.
Fogo de Chao NYC
Fogo de Chao is an authentic Brazilian steakhouse, and a new location just opened in Midtown Manhattan. At a VIP press event last week to celebrate the grand opening, I got to experience the Fogo “gaucho” way of preparing and serving meat as they do in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Their gaucho chefs expertly grill 16 cuts of meat served and cut fresh to order with continuous table side service. This is also known as Churrascaria – where the meat is roasted over charcoal or wood embers to give it a rich smoky flavor.
They have a gigantic gourmet salad bar with a plethora of fresh grilled veggies, salads and chartucerie, authentic Brazilian side dishes such as fried bananas and polenta sticks, and we sipped on Brazilian wines and cocktails all night long amongst great conversation and a buzzing atmosphere. The architecture is stunning too with high ceilings and dynamic design. You won’t walk out of this place hungry – I promise. Definitely worth checking out (on an empty stomach!)
It’s that time of year again to start planning menus and recipes for the holidays. But instead of just serving traditional turkey or ham, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, why not mix it up a little bit and serve your holiday meal with an international flair? I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and interview several Top Chefs and restaurants in NYC to get some creative ideas for non-traditional holiday menus for the holidays. Whether it have a Spanish, French, Asian, Jewish or Italian twist; here are some great international menu ideas and recipes for a fabulous holiday meal with family and friends that break the norm.
Spanish Holiday Menu – Alex Raij, Executive Chef at Txikito NYC
Executive Chef Alex Raij from the Spanish restaurant Txikito in NYC always makes a classic, festive dish for the holidays. This Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche) feeds a crowd and references Basque, Catalan and Argentine family holiday traditions that Chef Raij grew up with in Spain. Serve with other traditional Spanish hot and cold tapas such as: Pikillos: roasted Navarran sweet peppers with ajoarriero; Kroketas: crispy creamy croquettes; Boquerón: marinated white anchovy with eggplant and piquillo; Cogollos: butter lettuce, Basque anchovy, and Bonito del Norte and Tutera: gratin of artichoke, Roncal, Jamón.
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)
Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito
1 9×9 inch baking dish, preferably earthenware
12 – 4 inch square pieces fresh pasta sheets boiled and shocked in ice water (The Chef recommends cooking longer sheets and then cutting them after they are cooled in ice bath so they are more uniform)
Filling and topping
2.5 pounds cod
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups olive oil
1.5 cup tomato pulp pref. pomi brand
2 cups Creme fraiche
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
50 grams hackleback or other high quality caviar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Salt the cod with the 2 T. kosher salt and let stand 10 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
Place the cod in a small pot and cover with olive oil.
Place on medium low heat and poach the cod in the oil until it flakes when prodded
Remove the fish to a mixing bowl to cool.
Pour 1/2 cup of the poaching oil over the cooling cod to cool with it.
Heat remaining oil add the tomato fry the tomato until cooked and a little sweet, season with salt.
Pour the tomato oil mix I the bottom of the baking dish.
Break up the cooled cod and flake it with clean hands.
Whip it up with the oil with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Place 6 pasta sheets side by side and place 1/12 of the filling at the end of each sheet.
Roll away from you and place on the tomato.
Repeat with the rest of the filling and next 6 sheets.
Season the crème fraiche with salt and pour over the caneloni.
Bake at 375 until bubbly.
Sprinkle with chives and top with caviar just before serving.
Serve 2 pieces per person.
Printed with permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved.
French Holiday Menu – Olivier Quignon, Executive Chef at Bar Boulud
Even as Chef Olivier Quignon of Bar Boulud prepares to celebrate his seventh Christmas in NYC, he hasn’t lost touch with the French holiday traditions of his hometown, the Northern French town of Beauvais. Christmas in the Quignon household, and in the restaurant he helms on behalf of renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud, Bar Boulud, is traditional to a tee, lasting up to six hours and spanning just as many courses. What does a typical French holiday meal entail?
Oysters “Always oysters. We shuck them at lunch and the eating begins.”
Cured or Smoked Fish
Foie Gras “This can be hot, seared, or served as a terrine.”
Hot Fish or Pasta
Beef or Game
Cheese “ALWAYS cheese. French people eat cheese at practically every meal. We may sometimes skip dessert, but we never skip cheese.”
Pastry “At Christmas this is often a Bûche de Noel. But my wife is a pastry chef, so there are usually many desserts.”
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Traditionally, Tournedos Rossini is a French steak dish, purportedly created for the composer Gioachino Rossini by French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême. The dish comprises a tournedos (beef tenderloin) pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras briefly pan-fried at the last minute. A few slices of black truffle and Madeira demi-glace sauce garnish the dish.
At Bar Boulud New York, ‘Rossini’ is a dish that makes an appearance on the menu every holiday season, and on the tables at many French holiday meals. It is rich in ingredients and flavors, hearty, and the perfect celebration dish. There are several way to prepare Rossini, but Bar Boulud sticks to the traditional preparation—seared beef tenderloin atop a brioche toast, topped with seared foie gras and Madeira-beef jus, served with Pommes Macaire dotted with a celery root puree.
Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras and Pommes Macaire
Executive Chef Olivier Quignon, Bar Boulud
Kosher salt, as needed
4 yellow gold potatoes
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Black truffle butter or oil
2 egg yolks
Canola oil for frying
½ cup flour
Celery Root Puree
1 small (about 3/4 pound) celery root, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Freshly ground white pepper
1 ½ lbs angus beef tenderloin, tied with butchers twine
12 ounces fresh grade A foie gras
6 tablespoons beef jus or demi glace
2 ounces Madeira
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
4 ¼ thin slices of brioche, cut into 3 ½-inch circles, toasted
8 small light green celery leaves
1 small black winter truffle
For the Pomme Macaire
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make a bed of salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and place potatoes on top. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes, or until tender.
Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the potato with a fork, season to taste with salt, pepper, and truffle butter (or oil). Stir in the egg yolk to combine. Press mixture into a bread loaf pan and chill overnight.
Turn the potatoes onto a cutting board and cut into (at least 8) 3 x ½-inch batons. Lightly coat the batons in the flour and shake off excess.
Fill 1/3 of a saucepan with canola oil and heat to 350°F. When ready to serve, fry the potatoes in batches until golden brown. Strain onto a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkle with salt.
For the Celery Root Puree
Cut the celery root into medium dice. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the celery root, milk, and water to cover; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the celery root to a blender and puree with enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.
When ready to serve, transfer to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to heat through.
Slice the tenderloin into four portions and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Cut the foie gras into four slices and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Once very hot, sear the foie gras on both sides to brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan with the foie gras fat to the heat. Sear the beef on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each, basting the meat constantly with the fat. Brown the beef on all sides while basting the constantly with the fat in the pan, about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare. Transfer the beef to the platter with the foie gras, cover, and rest in a warm place.
Add the shallots to the same pan over medium low heat, and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the Madeira and simmer to reduce by 2/3. Stir in the beef jus and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
For each serving, place a brioche toast on a plate and top with a portion of beef. Top the beef with a piece of roasted foie gras, and shavings of black truffle. Place two pommes macaire next to the beef and top each with a spoonful of celery puree. Garnish puree with two celery leaves. Spoon the sauce from the pan around and serve.
Asian Holiday Menu – Hung Huynh, Executive Chef at Catch Restaurant NYC
Whole Roasted Branzino is a favorite recipe of Chef Hung Huynh of Catch NYC for the holidays. It’s simple, delicious and easy to make and great for feeding a crowd. Chef Hung also recommends adding some miso, ginger, soy and lemongrass to the seasonings to amp up the Asian flavors in this beautiful seafood holiday dish. His Asian inspired holiday menu includes:
Roasted Whole Branzino
Sautéed Green beans with EVOO and Soy Sauce
White or Brown Steamed Rice
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Roasted Whole Branzino
Executive Chef Hung Huynh
Serves 2-4 people
1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of picked chopped thyme
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
Before cooking, the Branzino must be scaled, gutted and scored.
Combine all the seasoning rub ingredients.
Rub entire fish with seasoning including the cavity, distributing evenly.
Make sure that the entire fish is covered in the rub.
Take a half sheet pan and roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Reserve the remaining olive oil in the sheet pan.
Place the fish on a platter and drizzle with the reserved olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Jewish Holiday Menu – Zach Kutsher, Proprietor, Kutsher’s Tribeca
Zach Kutsher, Chef and Owner of Kutsher’s Tribeca, always serves Latkes for the Hanukkah holiday. These crispy potato latkes are a traditional Jewish dish made of grated potatoes, onion, eggs and matzo meal, shaped into round potato pancakes and fried to a crispy golden brown. The traditional way to serve them is with a spoonful of sour cream, but Zach likes to also add ½ ounce of caviar (salmon roe, paddlefish caviar and wasabi flying fish roe) to the latkes to give them a special holiday touch. Some other fun ideas that Chef Zach does to dress up the latkes are to use some non-traditional savory toppings such as:
Peking Duck with Cucumber, Scallions and Sesame Hoisin
Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta
Gravlax and Dilled Creme Fraiche
Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, sauerkraut, emmentaler and thousand island dressing)
VLT – Veal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato
To make it a complete Jewish holiday menu, serve the latkes with: Chopped Duck and Chicken Liver, Seasonal Pickles, Golden and Red Beet Salad with Lemon Ricotta, Arugula and Pecans, Turkey or Brisket with Challah Chestnut Stuffing, Cheesy Spaetzle Kugel, Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Shlishkas with Amaretto Matzo and Sage Brown Butter and Babka Sticky Buns for dessert.
Grate onion on the fine side of a cheese grater and then line a strainer with some paper towels and let drain in sink as dry as possible.
Mix egg, yolk, matzo meal, salt, lemon juice, and drained onion together, set aside.
Julienne the potatoes (cut into thin small matchsticks) or grate on the large side of cheese grater, and periodically put the potato in the egg mix to prevent browning. Do not wash potato after it is cut.
Mix all together, fry in schmaltz (rendered/clarified chicken or goose fat – or you can substitute canola oil)
Take one handful of mix, twisted in the palm of your hand like you would spaghetti on a fork, till golden brown and crispy, then flip.
Finish in oven if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Italian Holiday Menu – Gabe Thompson, Executive Chef of Epicurean Group (dell’anima, L’Artusi, L’Apicio, and Anfora)
Photo Credit: Epicurean Group
Chef Thompson, Executive Chef of the Epicurean Group in NYC loves creating special menus for the holidays. It is all about the food, flavors and family. His menu below puts his crave-able Italian twist on some fall favorites to make for a classic holiday menu!
Grilled Pork Chop — roasted vegetable and chestnut panzanella, pork sugo
Warm Cranberry-pumpkin Budino – served with apple cider sauce
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad Recipe
Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group
2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash into 8-9 wedges, each wedge about 1 inch thick. Remove and discard seeds. In a large bowl, toss the squash wedges together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of butter. As soon as the butter melts, add half of the squash to the pan, arranging the pieces so that they are cut-side down. Sprinkle half of the sage over the squash. Cook undisturbed until it is golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn each squash piece over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown on the other side. Remove squash from the pan and place on a half sheet tray or cookie sheet. Repeat this process with remaining olive oil, butter, squash and sage leaves.
Drizzle maple syrup over the squash segments. Place in the oven and bake until each piece of squash is easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and set aside.