Dr Smood: Smart Food for a Good Mood + Maca Pumpkin Couscous

I just discovered an amazing new cafe and store in NYC called Dr Smood – have you seen it? If not, you need to go. Based out of Miami, Dr Smood is a health company that makes “Smart Food for a Good Mood” – and oh how you’re gonna love this place!


They make all their own juices, smoothies, organic products and delicious healthy food based on 6 moodsPower, Beauty, Immunity, Detox, Energy and Health, which you can choose based on your mood and feeling and what you want to gain from the experience.

I had the opportunity to visit the Flatiron location in NYC and had a delicious Organic Detox Juice #9made with ginger, lemon, lime, raw honey, echinacea, and cayenne. Then for lunch I tried their Butternut Squash Soup, Turkey and Avocado sandwich on their homemade Performance Bread before browsing the beautiful cafe and store of amazing products including organic tea, coffee, chocolate, health and beauty supplements and organic dried foods.

 

dr smood mushroom powder

Dr Smood’s Organic Superfood Powders

Dr Smood’s Organic Superfood Powders would make a wonderful gift for the health and wellness-obsessed foodies on your list. They’re full of health-boosting goodness and are easy to use (they can be easily mixed into smoothies or juices, on yogurt or cereal or added to energy balls and no-bake treats).

There are a total of 13 beautifully packaged superfood powders, including Raw Cacao Powder, Spirulina Powder and Red Maca Powder. Each powder comes with an information packet, including a recipe and serving suggestions, and can be purchased at one of the five Dr Smood cafés in NYC.

Dr Smood Red Maca Superfood Powder

Dr Smood Red Maca Powder is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body to adjust to stress. Maca is an excellent source of phytochemicals and protein and helps to regulate the endocrine system and hormones, boost libido and increases energy, stamina and endurance. Enjoy maca in homemade granola or add it to tea, juice, smoothies, oatmeal or cereal. (SRP: $21.95)

Dr Smood Spirulina Powder

Dr Smood Spirulina Powder contains over 60% complete protein—almost 3x as much as beef—and is one of the few good sources of plant-based B12. This algae can also boost your immunity and promote a healthy digestive tract. Use it to make a semi-raw soup with sweet potatoes and carrots, spirulina cacao clusters or add it to your favorite juice or smoothie. (SRP: $14.95)

Dr Smood Cacao powder

Dr Smood Raw Cacao Powder contains approximately 40x more antioxidants than blueberries, which help the body to resist and repair damage from free radicals; plus it’s a natural mood booster and can promote beautiful skin, nails and hair. Use it to make hot cacao with coconut cream and almond milk this season and you will never want the standard version of hot chocolate again! You can also add it to coffee, yogurt, fresh fruits or smoothies. (SRP: $10.95)

Red Maca Pumpkin Couscous with Shallots, Bacon + Crispy Sage

I picked up a jar of the Red Maca powder at the store and created a new recipe for Maca Pumpkin Couscous w/ Shallots and Bacon and Crispy Sage that turned out absolutely delicious! Maca powder is a great supplement to add to sweet recipes like juices and smoothies and organic raw desserts, or savory recipes like soups, sauces, gravies, or to sprinkle on roasted veggies.

Maca Pumpkin Couscous w/ Shallots and Bacon and Crispy Sage

Maca Pumpkin Couscous w/ Shallots and Bacon and Crispy Sage

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4.

Serving Size: 1 cup

A delicious and healthy way to incorporate Red Maca powder into a lovely fall savory dish. Roasted pumpkin, sautéed garlic and shallots and bacon tossed into a basil and herb couscous topped with crispy sage and pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients

  • 1 small sugar pumpkins, halved, seeds removed, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, divided
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dr Smood Red Maca Superfood Powder
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 1 package of Near East Basil and Herb couscous
  • 6-8 sage leaves
  • Roasted pepitas or pumpkin seeds, for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle each pumpkin half with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper, Red Maca powder and cayenne. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast in oven for 1 hour, until fork tender and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove skin from pumpkin, cut into 1-inch cubes and toss with maple syrup; set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the couscous according to package directions and set aside.
  5. Cook bacon in oven on a large foil lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes until crispy and brown, drain and crumble; set aside.
  6. Heat another tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat; cook shallots and garlic for approximately 5 minutes until soft and golden (be careful not to burn!). Add sage leaves and sauté until crispy and browned.
  7. Add the cooked pumpkin, bacon, garlic, shallots to the couscous and toss together.
  8. Transfer to individual serving bowls, garnish with crispy sage, roasted pumpkin seeds and grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

You can also substitute roasted butternut squash or any other hearty veggies like eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers. Omit the bacon and cheese to make it vegetarian and dairy free.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2017/11/16/drsmood-smartfood-for-a-goodmood/

Here’s another fun easy recipe you can make when you have a sweet tooth:

Maca, Coconut and Cashew Granola (gluten-free, vegan)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 cup coconut flakes
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon Dr Smood Red Maca Superfood Powder
pinch Himalayan fine grain sea salt

Preheat your oven to 300° F. Line a medium-sized baking sheet with parchment. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Spread all ingredients in an even layer on a pan. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to fully cool on the pan. Granola will firm and turn crunchy once cooled. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

Check out the gallery below to see more photos of their amazing store and food and products I discovered!

To find a Dr Smood cafe and retail store near you, please visit their website at http://drsmood.com

Dr Smood Facebook Page

Dr Smood Instagram Page

{Things I Love} :: Summer 2016

My {Things I Love} list is back for Summer 2016 with some fun and interesting objets de desir, places, people, books, recipes, photography, food and drinks that I’m currently crushing on – not necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a huge shoutout for their awesomeness in my opinion…until next time, Happy End of Summer, and Bon Appetit!

fresh fish cookbook

Fresh Fish Cookbook


Jennifer Trainer Thompson‘s new cookbook has gorgeous photography, amazing seafood recipes and great stories of her living along the New England coast, all the while demystifying how to cook fish simply and deliciously. You’ll find recipes for soups and chowders, shellfish, fish entrees, side dishes, desserts and beachy cocktails for your next Summer seaside feast.

Jennifer is the author of over 20 books, a self-professed hot sauce maker and chicken chaser, and author of the blog Jump Up and Kiss Me, where you can find more of her food stories and recipes.

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https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fish-Fearless-Grilling-Shucking/dp/1612123376

coconut rose petal ice cream

Coconut and Rose Petal Ice Cream w/ Cardamom Crumble

Not only is this a beautiful Summer dessert, it’s vegan, made with coconut milk and vanilla, fresh rose petals and a cardamom and oats crumble topping.  A dream come true.

Linda Lomelinos of Call Me Cupcake Blog

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Ken & Cook NYC

It’s currently #NYCRestaurantWeek, and we all know what that means. Bingeing on some of the most delicious food and drinks in NYC, without guilt of course, at $42 per person for dinner and $29 per person for lunch including appetizers, entree and dessert. I recently visited Ken and Cook with a friend for dinner the other night and I had a glorious feast of Ahi Poke Tuna, Seafood Ceviche, Filet Mignon with Basil Pesto Mashed Potatoes with a Chocolate Lava Cake w/ Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Tiramisu for dessert. With unlimited Prosecco on the house, at that. The atmosphere was lovely, the staff super attentive and gracious. In a great location in SoHo on Kenmore Street at the best table in the house. Must try – 100% delicious!

http://www.kenandcook.com

nora luther

Nora Luther Food Photography

Being a food stylist and photographer myself, of course I’m obsessed with all things food photography. I discovered Art Director Nora Luther’s food photos from another food blog I visit frequently and was blown away by her photos of food literally flying in the air.  So creative and very cool way to present food in a unique way.

blackberry crostata

Blackberry Chocolate Italian Tart with Coffee Creme Fraiche

OK. I absolutely love fruit tarts in the Summer. But blackberries and chocolate in a whole grain coconut flour crust? Topped with coffee infused creme fraiche? And what a gorgeous presentation at that, by Valentina of Hortus food blog. yes, please. 

pereg flours

Pereg Gourmet Alternative Flours

We all know that gluten-free is all the rage, and Pereg Gourmet just launched a new line of alternative flours this year to give consumers more cooking and baking options for gluten-free diets. They have 6 new varieties including Almond flour, Banana flour, Buckwheat flour, Chickpea flour, Coconut flour and Farro flour. All are gluten free except for the Farro, and are 100% natural, non-dairy and certified kosher. I was fortunate enough to get some samples myself, so it’s time to experiment with some fun recipes for Fall – hmmm, I’m thinking pizza, tarts and pies, homemade pasta..let’s see what I can come up with – stay tuned!

fried chicken gravy poutine

Fried Chicken and Gravy Poutine

O.M.G. – 5 words: fried chicken. gravy. fries. cheese curds. BACON. #yum

http://realfoodbydad.com/fried-chicken-and-gravy-poutine/

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The Capital Grille #GenerousPour Summer Promo

My friends and I visited The Capital Grille the other night on 42nd St in NYC to take advantage of NY Restaurant Week (yes, once again!) and to partake in their #GenerousPour Summer promo. For only $28, were able to taste a variety of 3 whites and 3 reds, handpicked by The Capital Grille to accompany our dinner menu. We had the Clam Chowder (super good!), Dry Aged NY Strip and Grilled Shrimp, Beef Tournados, and Pan-Seared Salmon (all amazing!) with Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes (to. die. for.) and an amazing Creme Brûlée (my favorite!!) for dessert.

My favorite wines were the Provenance Sauvignon Blanc from Napa CA, and the Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Cabernet (a bordeaux blend), also from Napa. We managed to stay for a few hours with full bellies and lots of generously poured vino and escaped for less than $100 each, including tip. Now that’s a delicious steal.

http://www.thecapitalgrille.com/events/the-generous-pour-wine-tasting

peach burrata salad

Peach Burrata Salad

This fresh summer salad is the perfect recipe for a light lunch or side dish for dinner. The saltiness of the prosciutto with the subtle heat of the red onion and the creaminess of the burrata is a seriously magical combination. And it’s stunning to look at too, is it not? I’m thinking a side of sparkling rose would just top it off beautifully.

http://www.designlovefest.com/2016/08/peach-and-burrata-salad/

french country cooking cookbook

French Country Cooking Cookbook

Another lovely cookbook from one of my favorite food bloggers, Mimi Thorisson of Manger. Filled with gorgeous as ever French styling and recipes and photos that will make your mouth water and wish you too were living in the countryside of France. Available Oct 25, and for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online…can’t wait to get my hands on it!

lobster tails

Lobster Tails with Mojo de Ajo & Grilled Corn Salsa

I love anything grilled, and this recipe absolutely screams Summer. Grilled lobster tails with garlic, chipotle, cilantro and lime marinade and a side of grilled corn salsa with more spicy flavors like jalapeño, onions, and basil. Sounds divine. Must make tonight.

http://www.upcloseandtasty.com/blog/2014/july/lobster-tails-with-grilled-corn-salsa

caprese mac and cheese

4 Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese

O.M.G. Pasta. Heirloom tomatoes and basil. All baked into a bubbly pot with 4 melty cheeses – cheddar, havarti, mozzarella and brie. Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest does it again. Gorgeous and delicious as always.

 

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Winter 2015

My Top 10 {Things I Love} list is back for Winter 2015 with some fun and interesting objets de desir, places, people, books, food and drinks that I’m currently crushing on – not necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a huge shoutout for their awesomeness in my opinion… Happy Holidays and New Year 2016! 

magpie cookbook

Magpie Cookbook – Magpie Artisan Pie Boutique is a popular pie shop in Philadelphia, owned by Chef Holly Ricciardi. This book is full of her famous pie recipes, both savory and sweet – from luscious quiches, pot pies and hand pies, to fruity, creamy and nutty pies like her bourbon-infused Butterscotch Pie recipe passed down from her Grandmother. Great for any pie-obsessed person and includes tons of great techniques on how to make different types of crusts and decorative touches for a gorgeous handmade pie. Ah, PIE.
Get it on Amazon


aria wine bar

Aria Wine Bar, NYC – This trendy cozy place has 2 locations: one in the West Village, and another in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. Offering Venetian-style Italian Tapas, the menu has a plethora of delicious small plates, appetizers, pasta dishes, and salads all created for sharing. They have a great wine list, and the atmosphere is romantic and buzzing and the best part is the wine list offers the fruits of the world’s foremost lady vintners. Try the Mini Meatballs drenched in homemade sauce and melted cheese, the Sautéed Mussels in wine, or the Truffle Mac & Cheese. You won’t be disappointed! Another NYC fave not to miss.
http://ariawinebar.com

bacon jam

The Bacon Jams Bacon Spread – Who doesn’t love bacon? Well now you can have it anytime on the fly. This delicious Bacon Jam is made with real bacon, brown sugar, and onions with three varieties that can all be simply spread on crackers or bread, elegantly spread to elevate appetizers, grilled sandwiches, pasta or to add bacon to any of your favorite dishes. Try the Original, Black Pepper or Red Chile and Garlic. Delicious!
http://thebaconjams.com

Trimino Protein Water

Trimino Protein Water – With the popularity of vitamin waters and fruit waters abound, there’s a new and improved kid on the block. Trimino Still and Sparkling waters are infused with 7 grams of protein, are caffeine and sugar free, and only 28 calories. And lots of fun flavors too! Strawberry Lemonade, Mixed Berry, Coconut Pineapple, Peach and Watermelon. Perfectly light and refreshing for and after workout drink or as a base for a fruity beverage or cocktail.
http://drinktrimino.com

Gala Pork Pie

Parker’s British Foods – Brits Victoria and Damian Parker have a serious love for British food, and learned the crafts of butchery, meat curing and pie making from some incredible British butchers, combining those skills with the best meats and recipes the British Isles had to offer. Then they got married, packed their bags and set off for a new life in America. Now based out of Buffalo, NY, they offer genuine British food like Pork Pie, Sausages, Proper Fish and Chips and a variety of British sweets, condiments, drinks, snacks and gifts for sale in their online store. Check ’em out, Mate!
https://www.parkersbritishinstitution.com/shop-online

extra virgin nyc

Extra Virgin NYC – Extra Virgin is a great little neighborhood spot located in New York City’s West Village. They offer delicious Mediterranean food in a buzzing dimly lit atmosphere with a fantastic wine selection and different varieties of extra virgin oils from around the world. Try the Fritto Misto – lightly fried calamari, zucchini and shrimp as an appetizer..it’s light and crispy and perfectly fried to perfection. The Prosciutto-wrapped Sea Scallops are equally delicious, served over Cauliflower Puree and Porcini Sauce with a Apple and Celery Salad on the side. The Short Ribs are to die for, and literally melt in your mouth, served over Truffled Mashed Potatoes (try these with a side of Grilled Broccolini..super delicious!) They also have a great Sunday brunch and lovely desserts..Another NYC fave, don’t miss it.
http://extravirginrestaurant.com

Jan Burtz Gold Luster Plates

Jan Burtz Luster Ceramics – Offered exclusively at ABC Home in New York City, these ceramics have a handprinted metallic border that lovingly outlines their natural and irregular forms. Made by hand from creamy porcelain and homemade glazes, these pieces bring us back to the basics, accentuating the fluidity and grace of hand-formed wares. Made in Jan Burtz’s Connecticut studio, no two pieces are alike. Also offered in silver and a variety of bowls, trays, platters, vases, plates and sizes. Adds an elegant rustic touch to any table!

Get them on ABC Home

Maple Syrup Cookbook

Maple Syrup Cookbook – I recently got this cookbook and absolutely love it! Why? Because I’m in love with maple syrup and everything in here has a recipe made with it. I made the French Canadian Maple Sugar Pie with Walnuts and the Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving and they were both delicious hit at the table! If you love maple syrup as much as I do you can’t miss this cookbook..get it! Immediately.
Get it on Amazon

Raised Bloom Baking Set, Anthropologie

Raised Bloom Baking Set – Who doesn’t love a little bling for the holidays, and better yet who doesn’t love Anthropologie??? This adorable baking set is made of carved stoneware coated in a lovely iridescent glaze including a rolling pin, pie server, measuring spoons, pie plate, whisk and a muffin tin. Almost too pretty to bake with!
Get it on Anthropologie

cranberry sauce

Colors of Nature Cranberry Sauce with Rum and Orange – Colors of Nature is a small, family owned company based out of Brooklyn NY that makes beautiful small batch sauces, jellies and cakes full of fresh ingredients and flavors. Try the Cranberry Sauce made with Rum and Orange – perfect for the holidays!
http://www.colorsofnature.nyc

Top 10 {Things I Love} Summer 2015

 

My Top 10 {Things I Love} list is back for Summer with some fun and interesting things/places/foods/drinks that I’m currently crushing on – they aren’t necessarily ordered in terms of my favorite – but are all worthy of a shoutout in my opinion… Happy Summer everyone 🙂

Herriot Grace Cake Pedestal

1. Herriot Grace 

Herriot Grace is a father and daughter-run company from Canada who makes a gorgeous variety of hand carved and handmade wooden objects: spoons, bowls, pedestals, candy dishes, serving boards, rolling pins, plates and mortar and pestle sets. Each one is uniquely made from salvaged chemical-free wood and they’ve also introduced a select line of exclusive porcelain dishware. The ceramic pieces are cast in small runs, and boast the rustic, tactile beauty for which their brand is known.


http://shop.herriottgrace.com

Cooking Class Cookbook

2. Cooking Class Cookbook

Of course being an advocate of fun, healthy cooking for kids myself as the host of Cooking with Color 4 Kids TV Show in NYC, I was impressed by this new cookbook by Deanna F. Cook. I love the visuals and step by step instructions and fun inventive ideas to make cooking for fun for kids!

It also teaches basic cooking techniques in kid-friendly language and offers recipes for making dozens of favorite foods from scratch, including French toast, granola, pancakes, sandwiches, smoothies, muffins, biscuits, applesauce, fruit leather, goldfish crackers, tortilla chips, Buffalo chicken fingers, pizza, sushi California rolls, pudding, and more. The recipes use fresh, healthy ingredients and feature imaginative presentations that kids will love to prepare (and devour), such as egg mice, fruit flowers, mini-meatballs, mashed potato clouds, and carrot coins. Includes fun stickers and other activities, and is super cute and fun for anyone with kids who love to cook or want to learn how to cook.

Get a copy on Amazon

Fig & Olive Oysters

3. Fig and Olive Restaurant NYC

My friend recently came for a visit from LA and wanted to try out some great food in the city while she was here. So of course, being the foodie tour guide extraordinaire that I am, had to find some cool new place to take her to. I found a place called Fig and Olive which I am absolutely in love with…the food and service were both amazing and I am definitely going back for more! They have an olive oil tasting served at the table you when you first arrive in all different flavors from different regions.

They specialize in Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and have tons of great choices on the menu including a Crostini Bar where you can choose from all different varieties to accompany your figs, cheese, olives and other small bites. We ordered the Lobster Bisque and fresh raw oysters for  starters, then had the Lobster Risotto and Seafood Paella for our main. Everything was beautifully displayed and tasted amazing. A must visit if you love Mediterranean food and are visiting in NYC..and they also have locations in LA, Newport Beach and Chicago.

http://www.figandolive.com

Coney Island Cheesecake

4. Coney Island Confetti Cheesecake

All I can say is – how fun is this? It’s a super cute confetti cheesecake I found on How Sweet It Is blog that was originally created by Rosie of Sweetapolita.

This gorgeous creation is colorful and sweet and made out of cheesecake, sprinkles, ice cream cones and nuts…just like a fun Summer day at the beach hanging at the amusement park.

Get the recipe: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/05/coney-island-cheesecake/

viniq

5. Viniq Shimmering Liqueur

When Summer arrives, I love to experiment with fun, fresh and new cocktail recipes. I received a sample of Viniq, which is a gorgeous  shimmering liqueur (yes, it shimmers when you shake the bottle)! A fusion of Premium Vodka, Moscato, and Natural Fruit Flavors, it’s refreshing and perfect for a cocktail out on the patio. I mixed the Ruby flavor with some Pomegranate Sangria Seltzer, a dash of fresh lemon juice and topped off the concotion with some fresh raspberries. Totally delicious and a great addition of sparkle for my 4th of July celebration. Comes in 2 flavors and lots of great recipe ideas on their website. Delicious!

http://www.viniq.com/

Lemoncello Restaurant

6. Lemoncello, Rochester NY

Everyone loves Italian food right? Well at least I do – it’s definitely one of my favorite foods to cook and eat on the planet. There’s an awesome spot in Upstate NY (East Rochester) called Lemoncello which is easy on the eyes as well as on the palate. Try the Veal French, a lightly egg battered fillet of veal (4 to be exact), with a gorgeous silky lemon butter wine sauce over linguine. Another specialty is their Lemoncello Veal (or Chicken) which is another light pasta dish served with sauteed veal, olives, artichokes, spinach and pasta in a lemon cream sauce. TO DIE FOR.

Chef Silvana Formoso is from Sicily which is reflected in their awesome menu. You can find a variety of salads, gourmet pizza, and delicious appetizers like Artichoke French, Calamari Fritti, Beef Carpaccio and Sauteed Greens and Beans. There’s plenty of amazing main dishes on the menu to choose from too – Cioppino, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, Pork Osso Buco, Stuffed Eggplant, Chicken Marsala and Milanese, Grilled Rib-Eye, Homemade Lasagna, Ravioli and Manicotti, Risotto and more. They even have BYOB on Tuesdays with no corkage fee, and you can enjoy the Summer weather on their outdoor patio and live music in the Summer. The decor is quaint and cozy, and the service is impeccable. They have a great wine list and all their bread is shipped in from Toronto and fresh baked in house every day so it’s still warm and crispy when it gets to your table! Owner Massimo Albano even gave us a shot of Limoncello for dessert on the house. Love this place and will definitely be back for more next time I’m in town! #delicioso

www.lemoncello.com

nature charm bracelet

7. Keith Lewis Studio

I recently went down to State College PA for a huge Summer Arts Festival at Penn State with some friends. It’s an annual show with amazing art, food, music and all the gorgeous jewelry, pottery, handcrafted gadgets and accessories a girl could want. One artist that stood out to me was Keith Lewis – he makes gorgeous handcrafted jewelry out of pearls and metal and precious stones that will make your eyes water out of pure lust.

www.keithlewisstudio.com

Flying Tiger camera bag

8. Flying Tiger Copenhagen

I recently discovered this groovy store a few weeks ago when I was strolling around the Flatiron District in NYC. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it but it reminds me of a cross between Target, IKEA, a boutique home / gadget store and flea market all in one space. They have all kinds of stuff for your office, home, kitchen, games, kids toys, party supplies, travel supplies and a million and one cool as can be highly designed, inexpensive gadgets. There’s only one store in NYC but you can always catch a flight to Copenhagen or Iceland or Japan if you feel the urge. If not, check out their cool stuff online. Unique, savvy and super fun.

http://flyingtiger.com/

 

crisco coconut oil

9. Crisco Organic Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is all the rage these days, because it’s great for cooking in high temperatures, it’s a good fat and has a gorgeous flavor. There’s a new kid in town from Crisco and I had the opportunity to sample some of their new organic coconut oil. It’s perfect for frying and roasting veggies, meats, and can even be used in baked goods.

Check out some of their recipes and videos online to get some creative ideas on how to use it and cook with it!

www.crisco.com

authentic-italian-gravy

10. Redpack Tomatoes

Redpack is one of the top tomato producers on the market and I had the opportunity to sample some of their Petite Diced Tomatoes with Garlic & Olive Oil and their regular Diced Tomatoes. Because they are fresh picked and canned immediately, the flavor is always fresh and juicy and the tomatoes are pre-cut right in the can, making them convenient to use in all of my recipes.

Redpack Tomatoes

They also offer canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes and Redpack Tomato Sauce which are great for making all kinds of dishes like salads, sauces, pasta dishes, tacos, casseroles and more.

Redpack is one of many premium quality brands under the Red Gold Umbrella, which opened its doors in 1942. Today they produce over 100 different styles and flavors of tomato products in 20 different sizes and containers.

Check out all their product varieties online and get some great recipe ideas there too while you’re at it!

http://www.redgold.com/redpack

 

How 3 NYC Restaurants are using Social Media creatively to break through the clutter

Tavern on Jane NYC

Most restaurateurs are beginning to understand the power of social media and online marketing.

Running a print ad or spending money on television ads is expensive. Smart operators realize the importance of connecting with consumers and influencers, and how positive online engagement can affect their brand, business, foot traffic and reputation. Social media can be an effective communication tool to inform customers of daily specials, promotions, events, menus and more. But in a crowded online marketplace, how can you break through the clutter?

The three New York restaurant owners/marketers below give us real-world examples of what’s working for them, what tools they’re using, and successful campaign ideas they’ve implemented to increase online visibility and engagement.


Want to build customer loyalty and brand buzz? Here’s some inspiration.

Who’s down to roll up their sleeves and take down a few orders of chili crab? #tuesday #AllYouCanEat #jonahcrab #chilicrab #westvillage #HowManyCanYouEat

A photo posted by Fatty Crab (@fattycrab) on

Read my full story on Foodable: http://www.foodabletv.com/new-york-city/2015/6/23/how-3-nyc-restaurants-are-breaking-through-the-social-media-clutter#BYzSALiH8PWQbkbm.99

Tavern on Jane unveils a new menu and revamped space in the West Village NYC

Tavern on Jane Restaurant

Tavern on Jane is a quaint restaurant and bar in the West Village on the corner of Eighth Ave and Jane Street, a fun, cozy space I visit often, and a gathering place where everybody does know your name. I recently did a photo shoot for the owner Michael Stewart of their new revamped space and some of their hot food items on their newly redesigned menu. 

Burgers
Burgers

They have always had amazing food, but I have to say their new lineup is super tasty and you have to see the new burgers they have on the menu now!

Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips

They also have some fantastic new dishes like the Beer Battered Fish and Chips; Short Rib and Butternut Squash Risotto; Steamed Mussels; Beet, Arugula and Citrus Salad and so much more. Delicious, high-end comfort food and the portions are unreal.

Steamed Mussels
Steamed Mussels

They also have a new Executive Chef, Josh LaBadie, who has brought a variety of new flavors and inspiration to the restaurant from his seasoned experience at top NYC restaurants including Terroir, Central Park Boathouse, and Capitale Grille.

Beet Arugula Orange Salad
Beet Arugula Orange Salad

Check out the photos I shot of their newly redesigned space and delicious new items on the menu below. And definitely stop in for a burger and a beer, or for a nice intimate dinner with friends in their back room, fireplace and all. You’ll surely be welcomed by Mr. Stewart and his friendly staff, and most likely will be back for more. Again and again.

 

 

Tavern on Jane

31 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10014

212.675.2526

www.tavernonjane.com

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All recipes, photographs, copy and content on this post and website are copyrighted © 2010-2015 by Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet. Please do not use, share or distribute this content in any way without expressed permission from me first.

Top Ten {Things I Love} :: Spring 2014

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.

Chez Josephine

Chez Josephine

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.


http://www.chezjosephine.com/

https://www.facebook.com/chezjosephine Facebook
https://twitter.com/chezjosephineny Twitter

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

Paella
Paella

Tio Pepe

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.

http://www.tiopepenyc.com/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

YOTEL NYC

YOTEL

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 York collaborated 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 Roll at Pier 84, along 12th Avenue to pick up their custom cruisers.

http://yotelnewyork.com/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

 

Mouth

Mouth

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.

http://www.mouth.com/

photo credit: Mouth

Bacardi Mango Fusion

Bacardi Mango

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!

http://www.bacardi.com

photo credit: Bacardi

SmashBurger

Smashburger NYC

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.

http://smashburger.com/

photo credit: SmashBurger

Cherry Pom-Maia

Maia Yogurt

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!

http://www.maiayogurt.com/

photo credit: Maia Yogurt

wonuts

The Wonut – Waffle Cafe, Chicago

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

https://www.facebook.com/Waffleschicago

photo credit: Waffles Cafe

The Redhead NYC

The Redhead NYC

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.

http://theredheadnyc.com/

photo credit: The Redhead

Bocca di Bacco

Bocca di Bacco, NYC

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!

http://nycrg.com/bocca-di-bacco/

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photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet

New & Notable Restaurant Openings & Food Events 2013

RestaurantEvents-Hero

 

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 with lovely Tiles from the Victorian era 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!

Metaphore NYC


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.

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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 #SDRWTaste2013an 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.

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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!)

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Secrets to making a true Neapolitan Pizza like a Master Pizzaiolo

NeapolitanPizza_hero

 

Neapolitan Pizza
Handmade Neapolitan Pizza – by yours truly!

I recently took a really fun and cool pizza making class to learn the secrets of making a true Neapolitan Pizza (Vera Napoletana) with the Food Bloggers NYC Meetup Group sponsored by Vimbly.com.

Culinary Bad Boy & Nicole Garguilo
Culinary Bad Boy & Nicole Garguilo

The class was held at 180 Neapolitan Eatery in Little Italy and taught by Culinary Event host Nicole Garguilo and Food Network Star “Culinary Bad Boy” Chef Chris Nirschel.

Class having a blast making dough
Class having a blast making dough
NYC Food Bloggers Meetup Group
NYC Food Bloggers Meetup Group

We sat around a big table in a private room upstairs and learned the techniques, traditions and passions behind producing a perfectly thin crispy Neapolitan pizza while sipping on Italian wines and making new friends.

Making Pizza Dough
Making Pizza Dough

We learned the intricacies behind making and kneading our own dough accustom to the Neapolitan style by making wells of flour filled with yeast water and the patient process of kneading using only 2 fingers as the dough slowly came together by kneading, mixing and adding more flour and water.

Chef Chris throwing dough
Chef Chris throwing dough

We watched Chef Chris toss pizza dough in the air and even tried it ourselves (too fun!).

Chef Chris demonstrating how to sauce the pizza
Chef Chris demonstrating how to sauce the pizza

We then made our own Margherita sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, and topped off the pizzas with cubes of fresh cow’s milk Mozzarella and fresh basil before our pizzas were thrown delicately into a 900 degree oven on a pizza peel to reveal a perfectly crispy gorgeous pizza of bubbly cheesy goodness.

Prepping our Pizzas
Prepping our Pizzas

Layer the dough with sauce…

San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil
San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil

Add some delicious Fresh Cow’s Milk Mozzarella and Basil…

Good Times constructing our pizzas
Good Times constructing our pizzas

Patiently waiting for the oven…

Pizzas ready for the Wood-fired oven
Pizzas ready for the Wood-fired oven
Look. At. This. Masterpiece. Creation.
Look. At. This. Masterpiece. Creation.

And let the deliciousness devouring begin.

Good Times
Good Times

The story behind Neapolitan pizza goes like this: In June 1889, a Neapolitan tavern owner Raffaele Esposito served the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, a special dish named in her honor. The wood-fired Flatbread was topped with Melted Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce and Basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian Flag. The Queen was so pleased with her meal that she had a wood-fired “flat-bread oven” built into the palace. And history was made.

Pizzaiolo at 180
Pizzaiolo at 180

The art behind making a perfect, true Neapolitan pizza has become a standard practice with strict rules of approval. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is a non-profit official governing association in Italy that maintains the standards and regulations of all Pizzaioli and Establshments serving Vera Napoletana Pizza. It was founded in Naples in 1984 by the oldest and well-known Neapolitan pizzaioli, and according to the “rules” proposed by them, there are specific ingredients and techniques that must be used to pass the official Italian seal of approval.

The Perfect Neapolitan Pizza
The Perfect Neapolitan Pizza

So just what are the secrets behind making that crispy crust with gooey cheese and succulent sauce? Here’s a few secrets from Restaurateur/Chef and native New Yorker, Nick Accardi of Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen:

  1. Measure by weight rather than volume to get the perfect water to flour ratio for your crust. Many elements can change the density of ingredients such as age, storage temperature, or environmental climate. Measuring by weight assures the perfect hydration ratio.
  2. Use double zero (type 00) flour which is a highly refined flour that has been milled to a standard “00” and completely free of bran or germ.
  3. Use natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water. (New York City tap water is the BEST secret ingredient in making the perfect pizza dough!)
  4. Keep yeast refrigerated and check the expiration date on the package to make sure it’s fresh.
  5. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
  6. Allow the dough to rise for 24 hours at room temperature. The bare minimum standard is 6 hours (after mixing let the dough rise for 2 hours, then hand cut and roll into small balls, let rise for 4 more hours).
  7. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. Use your hands to gently work the dough from the center outward.
  8. Use San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius, for the pizza sauce like a bona fide pro (easy to find in grocery stores or Italian markets).
  9. Vera Napoletana Pizza must be made using only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients including Fior di Latte (Cow’s Milk) or Bufala Mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with real Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can find Genuine imported EVOO also at Italian markets such as Eataly or Tavola in NYC.
  10. Less is More: Don’t drown a pizza in sauce and toppings. The most delicious pies use smaller portions of the highest quality of fresh ingredients.
  11. A thin crust is the signature trait of Neapolitan pizza. While having a wood fired oven at home is not common these days, making your crust as thin as possible will allow for fast cooking time, which intensifies and seals in the flavors of each ingredient. Note: The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana requires the thickness of the crust to be 1-2 cm.
  12. The pizza must be baked for 60-90 seconds in a 905°F stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant.
  13. There are three official variants to Neapolitan pizza: Pizza Marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, Pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Neapolitan Pizza being devoured
Neapolitan Pizza being devoured

Neapolitan Pizza (Vera Napoletana) Recipe

Prep Time: 6 hours

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours, 7 minutes

Yield: 2-4

A great home kitchen version of authentic Neapolitan pizza

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water 100-110 degrees
  • 17 ounces (4 cups) unbleached “00” flour (see note) or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for greasing bowl)
  • For the topping:
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, passed with juices through a food mill
  • 12 ounces Mozzarella di Bufala (see note) or mozzarella fior di latte cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 4 large or 8 small basil leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Medium coarse sea salt
  • Special equipment: a pizza stone and peel

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Sprinkle yeast over water; let stand until yeast is creamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If yeast does not become creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt; form a well in center. Add yeast mixture and warm water; stir until dough just comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead vigorously, for 10 minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rest for 10 minutes, then knead vigorously for 10 minutes more. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form dough into a ball, transfer to bowl and turn to lightly coat with oil. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Punch down dough with your fist (dough will be stiff), then fold sides over one another, turn dough, tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. Divide dough into 4 pieces; shape pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured work surface, leaving a few inches between balls. Loosely cover with a damp dish towel (not terry cloth) and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours; time may vary depending on room temperature and freshness of yeast. If skin forms on dough while rising, lightly spray surface with water.
  5. Heat Stone While Dough Rises: Position rack in lower third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack. At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, heat oven to maximum temperature (500 to 550 degrees).
  6. Assemble Pizza: On a lightly floured work surface, press 1 dough ball with your fingers to begin to shape into a round. Use your fist and hands to gently stretch dough to a 10-inch round. (A floured rolling pin can be used to help roll out dough.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured peel; gently shake peel to make sure dough does not stick.
  7. Working fairly quickly, spread a 1/3 cup sauce over dough, leaving about a 1/2 -inch border. Tear 3 ounces cheese into pieces and arrange on top of sauce. Tear 1 or 2 basil leaves into small pieces and arrange on top. Drizzle very lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt. Slide pizza onto stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and edge of dough is crisp and golden, about 7 minutes. Using the peel and a large spatula or pair of tongs, transfer pizza to a plate and serve. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Notes

Note: Soft “00” flour produces a pliable, easy-to-work-with pizza dough and a tender yet sturdy crust with a crisp yet not too dry edge. Mozzarella fior di latte has a firmer texture than Mozzarella di Bufala, which falls apart when cut, though both cheeses are creamy when melted. You can find “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella fior di latte at Italian markets, specialty stores, and online.

Recipe by La Cucina Italiana Magazine

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/08/11/neapolitan-pizza-making-with-the-pros/

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• Check out more cool fun food events on Vimbly and the NYC Food Blogger’s group on Meetup.com

• Italian Resources and Specialty Products:

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana: http://www.pizzanapoletana.org

Tavola’s Hell’s Kitchen: www.tavolashellskitchen.com

Teitel Brother’s: http://www.teitelbros.com

Eataly NYC: http://www.eataly.com

New Article in Downtown Magazine Summer Issue :: Top Seafood and Outdoor Dining Hotspots in NYC

Downtown Magazine Summer Issue
Downtown Magazine Summer Issue

Summer is here and what better way to spend it than dining out on a rooftop, in a garden or an outside patio eating some glorious Summer food with a cocktail in your hand to soak up the sun? Or you might be in the mood for seafood, whether it be a luscious Lobster Roll, some rockin’ Sushi, a dozen steamed clams or fresh shrimp cocktail with a sexy margarita or fruity cocktail to accompany. The best part about Summer is being able to buy some of your own fresh seafood at a local market and firing it up on the grill. Where should I go do you ask? Well listen up friends. There’s some amazing places right here in NYC to please your palate and your eyes.

I had a great opportunity to do photography and write two feature stories about the Top Seafood Spots, Outdoor Dining destinations and local seafood markets in NYC for Downtown Magazine Summer issue. And oh, what a fun story this was! I visited some of NYC’s top seafood joints, swanky rooftops, garden patios and local seafood markets to come up with THE Hot List for your enjoyment this Summer. Keep reading for the full reviews in the article and scroll further down to see some great photos and links to the coolest, swankiest, tastiest hot spots in town this Summer.

Check out the tearsheets and more fun photos from the story below! (CLICK PHOTOS BELOW TO ENLARGE)

Top Seafood Spots NYC
Top Seafood Spots NYC
Top Seafood Spots NYC
Top Seafood Spots NYC
Top Outdoor Dining Spots NYC
Top Outdoor Dining Spots NYC

Pick up your copy of the article in the Summer issue (out on newsstands now!) OR visit Downtown Magazine online

Check out some more cool photos from the restaurants in the story in the gallery below!

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Find out more about these awesome restaurants online by visiting their websites:

OUTDOOR, PATIO & ROOFTOP DINING

The Garden by David Burke & JIMMY Bar

La Piscine at The Americano

Plunge at Hotel Gansevoort

SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS

Catch

Blue Water Grill

John Dory Oyster Bar

Pearl Oyster Bar

The Ketch

FISH MARKETS

Lobster Place

Sea Breeze Market

Bayard Meat Market

Mulberry Meat Market

La Piscine Hotel Americano
La Piscine Hotel Americano
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