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.
2.Woodstead Hot Anything & Everything Sauce
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.
3. VERSEUR 4-in-1 Wine Opener by Quirky
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.
4. Maguey Sweet Sap
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.
5. LEIF Glitter Collection
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.
6. Penelope Cafe, NYC
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.
7. Little Ink, New Zealand
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.
8. Gold Leaf Wine Bottle Tumblers – Nanda Soderberg
Nanda Soderberg is a glass fine artist who studied in Hawaii and Virginia, specializing in unique handcrafted recycled glass art – gold leaf glass tumblers made from old beer and wine bottles, recycled glass mirrors with gorgeous intricate designs, and other beautiful blown glass goblets and vases and bowls. Magical.
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.
10. Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co.
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.
As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I got inspired to make a LOVE-LY Strawberry Chambord Cake with Strawberry Coulis to celebrate.
I wanted to create a simple cake that highlighted the flavors of the strawberries and Raspberry Chambord liqueur, and used a yellow cake mix flavored with vanilla and almond extract, along with some pureed strawberries and Chambord. I made a classic Vanilla frosting to use in between the cake layers and the top of the cake as a canvas for my lovely Strawberry heart design.
To make it even more luscious, I made a Strawberry Coulis for the base of my Strawberry heart on top of the cake. I simply chopped up some strawberries, added water, sugar, vanilla and Chambord; then boiled it down into a thick strawberry glaze.
Top off the glaze with more fresh sliced strawberries creating a LOVE-LY heart shape. Cut into slices and sip some bubbly to celebrate with your honey.
A LOVE-LY Strawberry Chambord Valentine’s Day Cake
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped strawberries, pureed
- 2 tablespoons Raspberry Chambord liqueur
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Vanilla Frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temp
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk, room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Strawberry Coulis:
- 1 cup strawberries, quartered and chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Raspberry Chambord Liqueur
- 1 cup sliced strawberries, for topping
- Preheat oven to 400 and grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
- Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat on low with a hand mixer for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour cake batter into both pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool on a wire cooling rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely.
- Vanilla Frosting:
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter until light and smooth with a hand blender. Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth and creamy.
- Strawberry Coulis:
- Add chopped strawberries, water, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and Chambord in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring well. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until Strawberry Coulis thickens into a glaze. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Cake Assembly:
- Place one layer of the cake on a large plate or platter. Spread Vanilla frosting on the top. Place the second layer of cake on top and spread the rest of the Vanilla frosting on top.
- Spread the Strawberry Coulis on top of the cake making a heart shaped pattern. Layer the sliced strawberries on top of the glaze also in a heart shaped pattern.
- Slice cake and serve with a glass or two of bubbly.
Also in spirit of celebrating Valentine’s Day, Shari’s Berries has some delightful and lovely gift packages to send to your honey. One of my favorite things to go with strawberries is Champagne, of course, along with some luscious chocolate to pair. Check out their Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec & Godiva gift set and more chocolate and Valentine’s Day goodies online here.
Demi-Sec, a slightly sweet style of Champagne, is at its best when served with desserts. Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec, marked by fresh peach, nectarine and orange blossom, pairs beautifully with Godiva‘s assorted deep dark chocolates, smooth milks, velvety ganaches, classic truffles and pralines. Truly irresistible!
Each gift set contains:
All photos, recipes and copy on this post are intellectual property of Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet. This post was not paid advertising and all opinions are my own.
- Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec Champagne (750 ML)
- Godiva 19-piece Assorted Chocolates in a gold ballotin gift box
Winter is always a little bit depressing without any sunshine and constant grey skies and snow storms every other day in New York City. But there’s something cozy about it too, when I’m pent up in my apartment with not much to do other than cook, watch a good movie and snuggle under a blanket with my heater on. For my birthday last November my Mom got me a gorgeous Wolfgang Puck cast iron ceramic enamel braising pan which I’ve been dying to make a big pot of delicious comforting something or other in. I’ve had a craving for a warm and homey stew and had some Irish Stout Beef Stew Starter on hand from Williams-Sonoma so it was the perfect excuse to get cooking and cure the winter chills outside.
I rounded up some beef chuck, carrots, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, onions and baby peas and threw it all in the big pot. Adding a dark stout beer and beef broth gives it a hearty savory flavor and the stew starter has a nice balance of spices in it like cumin and curry and paprika for a little extra kick. The bad news is, Williams Sonoma has discontinued the Irish Stout Stew starter, but they do have a lovely Beef Stew Braising Base you can use instead that has dark beer and fire-roasted red peppers, chiles and tomatoes in it that would work just as lovely. After a few hours in the oven it’s just a big pot of yum. Kinda like a big hug. Now that’s worth staying in for.
Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.
Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.
Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
Cover and throw the pot into a preheated 350 degree oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.
Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.
A Big Bowl of Comfort :: Irish Stout Beef Stew
- 1 cup seasoned pan-searing flour (Wegmans or Wondra)
- 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 pounds boneless chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 ½ large onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1 bottle Irish stout beer (like Guinness)
- 1 14-ounce can low-sodium beef broth
- 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped fine in a food processor
- 2 cups baby carrots or large carrot chunks
- 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered into chunks
- 1 package frozen baby peas
- ¼ cup starch or roux thickener and water slurry (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Rye or Brown Bread for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron enamel braising pan or Dutch oven.
- Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add sliced onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.
- Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.
- Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, baby carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
- Cover and place the pot into the oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.
- Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.
Other Beef Stew recipes you might enjoy:
Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika – Pioneer Woman
Martha Stewart’s Beef Stew
Old-Time Beef Stew – Paula Deen
It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.
Holiday Brunch with the Girls
We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!
Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart
This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.
- 1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
- 1 cup cooked and cubed ham
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
- Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
- Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
- Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
- Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
- Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
- Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
- Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.
Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine
Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette
This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
- 1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
- 3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1-2 pears, cored and sliced
- 3 tbsp veg oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey, heated
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
- Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
- Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
- Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
- Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
- Toss with salad ingredients.
Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)
This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.
- 1 tbsp. Evoo
- ½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup Tomato Sauce
- 6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. Sofrito
- 1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
- 1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 1 package (14 oz.) Discos (Yellow), thawed Corn Oil, for frying
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
- Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
- Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
- On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
- Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
- Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
- Makes 10 to 12 empanadillas.
Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole
This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.
- 1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
- 1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
- 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
- In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
- Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
- Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker
Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread
This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
- Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
- In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
- Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Recipe from Pillsbury.com
As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Christmas is my favorite time of year but it seems to come and be gone all too soon. And in the midst of all the madness preparing for it, sometimes we forget the real reason behind Christmas – Christ. The story in the news about the Atheist billboard bashing Christ in Christmas in Times Square NYC just absolutely disgusts me. Everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want to believe in, God or no God, but it wouldn’t be Christmas if it wasn’t about Christ. He is the real and entire meaning behind the holiday – not just the whirlwind of parties, holiday lights, cooking, ice skating, caroling, eating, drinking, shopping and traveling. It’s a chance to share love and goodness with your friends, family, neighbors and those in need. To be with the people you love, forgive and forget, appreciate and be grateful for what we have and reflect on the year behind us with a chance for new beginnings in the New Year.
Wishing you a day filled with friends and family, love, peace and light. xo
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 menu at 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!
Relaix & Chateaux VIP Event NYC
I was recently invited to an intimate reception with the CEO of Grace Hotels at the Relais & Chateaux Maison to celebrate the launch of The Mayflower Grace. This summer, Grace Hotels acquired the iconic Mayflower Inn & Spa, the beautiful New England resort located in Washington, CT – which is undergoing exciting updates such as a room renovation and new restaurant.
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 NY hotel. 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!)