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.
“Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability to form new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or other senses. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process.”
Ever since I was a little kid, I have kept a sketchbook full of ideas and dreams, stories and drawings, songs and poems – things that inspired me or of places, people and things I wanted to go, be or do. Being a creative person, this has been an outlet for the million ideas I have running around in my head – some private, some shared, and some that I conjured up in a crazy dream and had to journal because I thought it was brilliant, but maybe never shared with anyone.
I’ve always admired and have been inspired by creative people and their work – whether it’s a soulful painting, a heartfelt song, a beautiful photograph, an inspiring story, or a culinary masterpiece for dinner.
I’ve always been a creator, an adventurer and dreamer, and have admired the people who make their ideas come to life.
People like Steve Jobs. Einstein. Henry Ford. Benjamin Franklin. Michelangelo. Julia Child. George Eastman. Giorgio Armani. Any many more creative geniuses that have made a mark on this world.
Just simply creative and talented people who had a passion to create, design, invent or change the world somehow and dared to dream and take the steps necessary to bring it to life.
Speaking of creative geniuses, there’s a really cool new company called Quirky, here in NYC, that I was recently enlightened and inspired by. Quirky is a simply brilliant idea in itself – it’s an incubator for cool, new product innovations and ideas that are designed by real people – just like you and me. Anyone can come up with and submit an amazing idea online and have it brought to life and out into the market within 30-90 days. For real.
It’s really a simple, genius, yet speedy process – you sign up on the website and create a profile. You submit an idea. Other Quirky community members get to view your sketches and ideas and vote on them – which helps your idea bubble up to the top. Then Quirky will vote internally with their team each week along with the help of the community online to select the products that will be chosen to come to life and then the design process begins.
The community and the inventors design the products along with the help of Quirky’s team of designers, engineers, business and marketing strategists and producers.
You get to brainstorm together to create a name, a tagline, select the materials, refine the design and create a prototype for testing, which then is finalized, becomes manufactured, packaged and distributed to the shelves of retail stores such as The Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond.
The coolest part of it all – is yes, the inventors make money and royalties on the product and even get their name and photo branded on the packaging, which is all designed and printed and produced in the NYC Quirky office.
But everyone who also voted, contributed, and helped roll out the product to completion online also get a slice of the pie, and make royalties off the product too. Crowdsourced invention, if you will. How cool is that?
I had the opportunity to visit the Quirky offices to see what all the buzz was about and check out some of their cool new ideas and products they’re whipping up in their genius labs. The office has areas full of designers and engineers buzzing about brainstorming and creating cool things with passion. They are smart and tech savvy and work around the clock to get these ideas to the market as quickly as possible so the inventors can start reaping rewards as soon as possible.
The products we saw and sampled were simple, smart, technologically inclined, and cool as hell. And designed by people like you and me, all over the world.
Smart kitchen gadgets that tell you how old your eggs are (the EGG MINDER) and synched to your iPhone to tell you how many you have left.
Or the Nibble, a cake pan and cupcake pan all in one cool design.
A smart piggy bank called Porkfolio that is hooked up to a mobile app and keeps track of all the pennies you’ve saved and notifies you on your phone if someone stole it.
Or the Mocubobamboo modular cutting board that has storage containers built right in. (Love this!)
The Nimbusalarm clock that pulls real time information from your smart phone. It’s a customizable, personalized dashboard for your digital life – how many new Facebook likes you have, the weather, the traffic ahead and new emails, all on interchangeable and programmable screens.
These are creations on shelves, in stores, that were birthed by a small seed of inspiration by your next door neighbor or the little kid running down the street. The inventors are the new Steve Jobs, Michaelangelos, Henry Fords and Julia Childs – backed by a company that believes in creativity and genius and that everyone can be an inventor and change the world just a little bit, with one really cool idea.
All you have to do is Submit Your Big Idea on online. Or, get your creative juices flowing and sign up to be an influencerto help design the next cool whirligig from your laptop at home. And who knows? Maybe your face and name will be on the next package on the shelf at The Home Depot too. I know I’m scribbling away in that journal of mine right now.
All you really need is to dare to dream, have a little confidence and get a littlehelp from your friends to be the next big inventor and meet some really cool creative people – just like you and me.
I had the recent opportunity to have an intimate conversation with Trevor Kunk, Chef de Cuisine of Blue Hill New York about their history, philosophy, cuisine and thoughts on their recent James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant 2013.
We sat in the charming back patio garden room as he told me the story of the Barber Family, Blue Hill Farm, his Southern Florida upbringing and Culinary Institute of America training, and how he found his culinary calling at of one of New York’s most premiere farm-to-table restaurants. When I asked him what he thought made Blue Hill win this most distinguished and notable award, he simply stated, “we consistently produce delicious, fresh food.” After our conversation, it’s clear to see why.
With over 138 acres in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Blue Hill Farm has been in the Barber family for three generations and served as the inspiration behind both Blue Hill restaurants. Blue Hill Farm was originally a dairy, and was converted into a cattle farm by the Barber’s grandmother Ann Marlowe Straus, in the 1960s. She believed strongly in preserving land and connecting great farming and delicious food, which she passed on to them. Dan began farming and cooking for family and friends at the farm, and it is there that grew passionate about locally grown and seasonal produce.
In 2006 the brothers decided to redesign Blue Hill Farm back to its original form, and brought in local farmer Sean Stanton to manage the land. The farm is home to chickens, pigs, dairy cows, and laying hens, supplies the restaurants with vegetables and grass-fed meats.
BLUE HILL NEW YORK
In 2000, Blue Hill New York opened in Greenwich Village, New York City. A small intimate space, the restaurant occupies a historical “speakeasy” near Washington Square Park. It is both elegant and casual, serving seasonal American cuisine that celebrates the delicious offerings from the Hudson Valley.
Blue Hill’s menu highlights local food, cocktails, beer and wines from regional Tri-State artisanal producers. The majority of the ingredients come from nearby farms, as well as Blue Hill Farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, located in Pocantico Hills, NY.
In addition to Blue Hill’s a la carte menu, they also offer a 5-course Farmer’s Feast and a 7-course extended Farmer’s Feast, bothinspired by the week’s harvest, and have a regular seasonal menu that changes depending on what produce, poultry, meats and seafood are in season to offer the freshest foods possible. Asparagus, Rhubarb, Radishes and Fiddlehead Ferns are abundant on the current Spring menu, which will change as soon as the weather warms up to Summer months, bringing in a flux of new seasonal fruits and vegetables to feature.
They offer a variety of fresh and locally sourced Farm Snacks such as Blue Hill Farm Yogurt, Parsnips, Beets and Oats or the “Farm Bar” served with Goat Cheese and Strawberries. There are plenty of gorgeous, creative appetizers to start the meal too: Chilled Asparagus Soup with Pickled Green Garlic, Walnut Bread and Sorrel; Emu Egg Pasta; or Stone Barns Butterhead Lettuce Salad with Fiddlehead Ferns, Pickled Cauliflower and Hazelnuts.
They serve Raven and Boar’s Pig year around, but their Hudson Valley Chickens are only served from May through November when their pasture raised chickens are in their prime and able to run around and feed outside. They serve local shellfish such as Shrimp and Squid with Spring Vegetables and fresh Tarragon; Grass-Fed Lamb with Asparagus, Knotweed and Alliums; and Rotation Risotto with 12 local grains and seeds made with Brassica Puree and Chocolate Wheat. Desserts are also made with fresh fruits and ingredients from surrounding farms –Olive Oil Cake with fresh pears, brown butter and toasted almond ice cream and a Chocolate Bread Pudding made with salted caramel, pine nuts and cocoa nib ice cream are a few house specialties.
Their cocktails and bar menu mimic the culinary program and support local farms by using NY State and domestic distilleries, wineries and ingredients from Blue Hill Farm and local Hudson Valley farms. They make their own bitters and sweet vermouth in-house, and have a ‘bartender garden’ where they grow their own herbs and plants, including wormwood used to infuse vodka, which is then muddled with fennel and chartreuse to create their own absinthe.
BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS CENTER AND BLUE HILL CAFE
Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture, as well as other local farms in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, Blue Hill at Stone Barns is an elegant restaurant that highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus there, instead guests choose from a variety of fresh daily ingredients from the field and market.
Blue Hill Café offers light snacks, farm-fresh lattes and other locally grown and baked goodies, available to eat in the courtyard or take on a walk around the farm.
Shop for seasonal jams and pickles, rhubarb jam and pickled sunchokes in the Spring or apple butter and pickled cucumbers in the Fall. You can also shop for Blue Hill Farm Market items online.
The non-profit Stone Barns Center offers plenty of cooking classes and demos using local seasonal ingredients taught by well-known chefs and food artisans. You can also try your hand at some of their fun farm activities such as hands-on egg collecting, ice cream making, foraging for wild plants, making natural herbal remedies or maple tapping on the farm.
Visitors can also get a behind-the-scenes insider’s tour of Stone Barns, or attend one of their special events centered on farming and agriculture, such as the Sheep Shearing Festival in April or the Young Farmers Conference held in 2012. Check out this great video about Stone Barns Center’s mission to support a healthy and sustainable food system.
Blue Hill New York is open for dinner 7 days a week, and also hosts elegant events and private parties at its two restaurant locations and off-site venues. Whether it’s a trip to the farm or an elegant dinner in the city, Blue Hill certainly has earned its James Beard title for Outstanding Restaurant without a shadow of a doubt.
Blue Hill is a longstanding member of the NYS Restaurant Association (since joining in 2000), and is grateful for all the positive work NYSRA does to support their restaurants and businesses.
Blue Hill New York
75 Washington Place
New York, New York 10011
T 212 539 1776 (reservations and general information)
F 212 539 0959
On a recent visit to BeyondSushi, a Japanese Vegan Sushi restaurant in the East Village in NYC, I had the opportunity to meet the Founder and Chef (and Hell’s Kitchen Finalist!) Guy Vaknin, to discuss his innovative and artful approach to traditional Sushi. Chef Guy came up with the idea for his vegan Sushi concept while he was the Executive Chef of Esprit Events, a Catering company in New York. Focusing on Kosher, healthy vegan and vegetarian food, they opened a Vegan Sushi station, and the idea grew from there when Chef Guy saw the potential and demand for healthy vegan food in the New York market. Two years later, BeyondSushi (The Green Roll) was born.
The Sushi is not only artfully crafted and colorful, but super healthy,fresh and totally vegan, while keeping the Asian flavors true to traditional Sushi by using natural ingredients such as sliced nori, red, black and six-grain rice, toasted sesame, chili flakes, and gourmet imported sea salts to punch up and balance the flavors and textures of their Sushi.
They have a variety of delicious and creative sushi rolls, sushi pieces, as well as Vegan wraps and salads, and they make all of their own custom sauces such as Carrot Ginger, Sweet Soy Mirin, Shiitake Teriyaki, White Miso, and more, using grapeseed oil and all natural, dairy free ingredients.
They take a variety of colorful, seasonal ingredients and combine them into gorgeous works of art – and the best part is, they really do taste like traditional sushi, but are pure Vegan. Crunch ‘n Munch, Pickle Me, La Fiesta, Green Machine and Mighty Mushroom are just a few of their catchy roll names – all made with tasty, healthy vegetables, rice and seasonings. They also do a custom roll of the month, which Chef Guy creates based on whatever he feels like dreaming up that day, using local produce from vendors at the Union Square Farmers Market.
Their Pastry Chef, Tiffany Louie, has created a new line of Vegan pastries and baked goods available in the store – Parsnip Cakes with Orange Almond Creme, Seed and Dried Fruit Almond Bars, and Carrot Bars are a few of their sweet healthy treats. Their juices are squeezed fresh each day and made in house.
I sampled the Nutty Buddy wrap, made with Buckwheat noodles, crushed peanuts, cilantro, jalapeno, peanut butter, avocado, sesame oil, carrots, baked tofu and romaine – a delicious combination and explosion of Asian flavors!
For a sushi sampling, I devoured the Spicy Mang Roll, made with Black Rice, Avocado, Mango, Cucumber and spicy veggies with a delicious Toasted Cayenne sauce. I also had the Pickle Me, made with Six Grain rice, Gobo, Carrot, Pickled Daikon and Avocado with a Carrot Ginger Sauce. YUM!
Their space is casual, cozy and inviting, and in a great location on 14th Street near Union Square. Their prices are reasonable too, ranging from $5.00 to $8.50 for Rice Paper Wraps and Salads to $6.50 for an 8-piece roll, or $7.50 to $13 for a combination plate of rolls. They also do custom catering for private events, weddings and parties with a variety of sushi rolls, salads and wrap platters.
They’ve been written up by Oprah and the NY Times and have plans to open up a second location in the near future, so stay tuned for more. There definitely isn’t any other restaurant around like it, so kudos to Chef Guy for pioneering this healthy, delicious concept. With Vegan Sushi this good – who needs the fish?!
I have to admit, I have been a bit slack about keeping up with my Top 10 lists the past few months. Mainly due to lack of time from external projects and cookbook photo shoots (which isn’t a bad thing), but I felt it’s time to get this monthly feature back up and running – especially around the holidays with so many fun and cool things I’ve discovered that would make great holiday gifts for the home and foodie in your family! So here’s my Top 10 Things I Love for Holiday 2012…these should keep you and your loved ones happy all year ’round.
1. The Spice Lab Gourmet Salts
One of my good friends bought me a set of these amazing gourmet salts for my birthday and I have to say they not only taste great but come in these cool little lab tubes that fit perfectly on my crowded countertops in my tiny NYC apartment. These are some of the best, rare and unique gourmet sea salts in the world; and they even come with reference cards with detailed descriptions and suggestions on which salts go with which dishes, making it easy to create the perfect combination of flavors. Some of the salts you’ll find in their sets include: Chili Pepper Cyprus Flake Finishing Sea Salt from the Island of Cyprus, Pink Himalayan Crystal Sea Salt from Pakistan, Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt, and Viking Oak Smoked Mountain Salt from Denmark.
I discovered this fun little gadget at the NY Wine and Food Festival this year. It’s a sleek icicle/cork topped wine chiller that you freeze in the fridge and then place inside your wine bottles to keep your wine chilled. They come in classic cork, a variety of colors and they even have festive topped designs to celebrate the season. Talk about a cool holiday gift!
This beautiful handmade pottery and ceramic line is something I found at ABC Home in New York City a few weeks ago and all I can say is it’s gorgeous. Organic shapes with a simple design, her ultra-thin tableware is artistic and elegant all at once, making your holiday table one to remember or a unique gift for a friend.
I discovered this lovely collection of glass plates, serving trays, napkins, kitchen towels, soaps, candles, shower gels and creams at Parkleigh Pharmacy in Rochester, NY and fell in love with their beautiful design and luscious holiday scents such as Au Chocolat, Fleur de Noel, Snowman, Christmas, Nutcracker Sweet and Balsam Fir. Love this line! You can find their products at any upscale gift shop (such as Parkleigh Pharmacy) or order online.
I already have an obsession with Nespresso coffee and machines, but now there’s a new kid on the block that I’m in love with! The new Lattissma+ is the ultimate coffee brewing machine that’s compact and sleek in design. In addition to its quick start up time and auto-off functions for energy-efficiency, this machine boasts a milk frother as well and can make perfectly portioned espressos, cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button. It comes in 4 elegant colors (Silky White, Ice Silver, Passion Red and Midnight Blue) to match every style and personality with a moderate price at $399.You can find them at Nespresso.com, Nespresso Boutiques (New York, Boston, Miami) and in select fine retailers such as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Macy’s, Crate & Barrel. Don’t forget to buy some of their colorful Grand Cru coffee capsules that come in a variety of coffee strengths and flavors. Once you have a coffee machine this cool and easy, you’ll be hooked for life – I promise.
There’s nothing better to warm you up on a chilly Winter night than a cozy mug of hot tea. Tea Forte has several tea collections of aromatic herbal and black teas, but my favorite is the Winter Spice Collection with delicious flavors such as Harvest Apple Spice, Sweet Ginger Plum, Winter Chai, Sweet Orange Spice and Hazelnut Truffle. The tea comes packaged in individual mesh infusers, and you can also get a brewing infuser mug or teapot to go with it. Other than that, all you need is a warm fuzzy blanket, some cozy slippers and a crackling fire to make it a perfect night in from the cold.
7. Jewel Tone Cut Glass Cocktail Collection, Pottery Barn
Who can resist a little bit of bling around the holidays? Pottery Barn has a lovely bar collection that comes in brilliant jewel tones (red, purple and gold) with etched cut glass in gorgeous designs that will fancify any holiday cocktail party or soiree. The cocktail shakers and set of 4 martini glasses run $39.50 each. GORGEOUS!
This is the ultimate go-to destination for hand-curated artisan and gourmet foods: they have gourmet and imported Coffees and Teas, Baked Goods, Candy, Chocolate Figs, Cheese, Chartucerie, Hand Pies, Fruitcakes, Olive Oil, Smoked Ham, Freshly Baked Breads, Pickles, Condiments and a whole boatload of other cool goodies you’ll want to get your hands on. You can join one of their Monthly foodie clubs: Bacon Club, Olive Oil Club, Baker’s Club, Forbidden Foods Club. Lots of fun DIY Kits including a Reuben Sandwich-making Kit. How fun! Order a Christmas gourmet goodie gift box, filled with a Zzang Original Handmade Candy bar, a mini Hot Cocoa Coffeecake, Spanish Chocolate-covered Figs, a half pound of their own Nor’easter Cheddar, a small Zingerman’s Stollen, Spiced Pecansand a loaf of Chocolate Sourdough Bread. If you want to get really fancy, you can sign up for a Zingerman’s Artisan Food Tour with your sweetie and travel to Italy, Hungary and Spain. Not only is their gourmet food delicious, but quirky and fun and created by a community of small artisan food producers in the Ann Arbor MI area. LOVE.
Founder Irene Chen worked at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan before teaming up with co-founder Matthew Grenby to create this luxury lifestyle brand with beautifully designed products for the home with a modern twist. Their lacquer trays are sleek and colorful and add some festive fun to your holiday table and cocktail parties. They also carry ice buckets, paper and glass coasters, gift tags, petite matches, stationery, handbags and accessories that reflect their bold geometric designs.
For your ultimate DIY-er/Foodie in the family, Williams-Sonoma has an array of homemade kits including cheesemaking kits, herb gardens, sprouters, vinegar pots, kombucha making kits, butter, mustard, mushrooms, cider and wine presses. With all this fun stuff you’ll never have to leave home to make your own delicious homemade gourmet goodies for family and friends.
Good Food Ireland, the first-ever, all industry network driving food tourism in Ireland, kicks off its international debut in the U.S.. Seeking to promote innovations in contemporary Irish cuisine and the country’s commitment to sustainable, authentic products, the organization also hopes to inspire Americans to travel to Ireland to experience and engage with its citizens and culture.
Good Food Ireland was established by Margaret Jeffares to link the agri/food sector with the hospitality industry. It was her philosophy that by supporting Irish farmers and producers, she could establish a healthy business environment where commercial opportunities for agriculture could be promoted through tourism and visa-versa.
“It is my mission to grow Ireland as a food tourism destination and to establish the ‘Good Food Ireland’ brand as the brand of choice for good food lovers everywhere,” says Jeffares. “One of Ireland’s greatest secrets is its locally produced ingredients and Good Food Ireland aims to set the standard for quality across a variety of industries – agriculture, food, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality.”
The premise is that by creating trusted and authentic Irish food experiences, Good Food Ireland will drive business to the hospitality sector and that, in turn,
inspires consumer purchase of more Irish food from farmers and purveyors,
contributing greatly to the local Irish economy.
Good Food Ireland’s U.S. launch includes:
They have kicked off the debut of Good Food Ireland Approved Provider foods at Dean and DeLuca’s flagship store in NYC, featuring the highest quality food the island has to offer. The foods available for sale in the Dean and DeLuca Store include:
In addition, there’s the opportunity to meet the people behind the products. Special offers and recipes are also available online, and I’ve included a few below.
2 shallots finely chopped
1 lb salmon, filleted and skinned
1 Tablespoon Kerrygold butter
5 fl oz dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Mashed Potatoes – no cream no butter
For the Coating:
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 oz soft white breadcrumbs
Pre-heat oven to 200c/400fgas 6
Butter and season a tray. Sprinkle with the shallots and sit the salmon on top. Drizzle with white wine and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 8- 10 minutes – the salmon should be firm to touch but still pink in the middle .
Sit the salmon in a colander over a pan to collect all the juices.
When all the juices have drained, place in a small pot and reduce on a stove to a nice syrup consistency.
Break up the salmon into flakes, add the syrup and chopped parsley, then fold in the potato until you have a binding texture. Check for seasoning and roll into 12 to 18 ball shaped cakes.
To Breadcrumb – Lightly pass through the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, repeat the process again.
To Cook – Deep fry at 180c/ 350f for 4-5 minutes drain well.
Serving suggestion: Serve 3 per portion on a bed of steamed baby spinach and lemon butter sauce.
2 oz Porridge Oats
7 fl oz Milk
Heat the milk, add porridge oats and cook for 1 min serve with honey or salt.
Bircher Muesli made with Irish Porridge Oats
5 oz porridge oats
1 oz Irish honey
20 fl oz milk
14 oz natural yogurt
4 oz sultanas (raisins)
1 whole Banana, chopped
1 apple, grated
4 oz blueberries
Combine ingredients and devour!!
Good Food Ireland sets strict criteria for Approved Provider status based on a core commitment to using local Irish ingredients and operating at a standard that is “best in class” and its branding on packaging of authentic Irish products is already recognized as the standard bearer of the industry. Beyond food products, the Good Food Ireland brand can also be used by hotels, restaurants & cafes, cookery schools and markets that meet Good Food Ireland standards. To date there are 450 Approved Providers that ensure consumers that all products and services bearing the brand meet the strictest “best in class” standards. All products and service standards are independently assessed.
Since Good Food Ireland was founded approximately five years ago, almost 70% of its Approved Providers have increased their business profile or heightened their awareness of local food. As a result, 92% have increased their purchasing of Irish food over the last 3 years, directly contributing close to 50 million euro to the local economy. (Source: Grant Thornton Survey – April 2012).
The Good Food Ireland Food Experience Awards celebrates excellence in food experience, the Food Lovers’ Choice Award lets you have your say. Simply vote for your favourite shortlisted GFI Approved Provider from the list below. The provider that gets the most votes will be announced on November 20th in the Shelbourne Hotel and presented with an award from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D.
About Good Food Ireland:
Good Food Ireland is a grassroots industry network aimed at promoting innovations in Irish food, the country’s commitment to sustainable, authentic products across food, hospitality and travel industries – incorporating farmers, chefs, hoteliers and outposts of cultural interest. The organization seeks to promote its authentic products in the U.S. and to inspire Americans to travel to Ireland to experience the contemporary cuisine and engage with its citizens and culture. The cross section of agriculture, food & culinary, production/manufacturing and tourism industries seek to grow and sustain the Irish economy.