{Things I Love}

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Top Ten {Things I Love} :: Winter 2014

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.

Rice Cube

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.

http://www.ricecube.net/

Woodstead

2.Woodstead Hot Anything & Everything Sauce

 I’m a hot sauce addict, and have tried almost everyone one in the world..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 and is great as a marinade, grilling sauce for pork, chicken and beef, tortilla dips, pretzels, great on eggs, homefries and added zing to soups and stews. LOVE IT.

http://woodstead.com/

Verseur Wine Opener

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 nifty 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 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 fun, inventive gadgets.

http://www.quirky.com/shop/74

 

maguey sweet sap

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.

http://villadepatos.com/en/products/maguey-sap/

 

LEIF-Glitter-Collection

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.

http://www.leifshop.com/collections/glitter

penelope logo

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.

http://penelopenyc.com/index.html

little ink nz

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.

http://www.littleink.co.nz/

Gold Leaf Wine Bottle Glasses

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.

http://nandasoderberg.com/

Asselina Ristorante NYC

9. Asselina Ristorante, Gansevoort Park 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.

http://togrp.com/togrp-asellina/

Mercantile & Trading Co

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. Simply lovely.

http://www.blackcreekmt.com/

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Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Holiday 2012

I have to admit, I have been a bit slack about keeping up with my Top 10 Things I Love lists the past few months. Mainly due to lack of time from external projects and cookbook photo shoots (which isn’t a bad thing), but I felt it’s time to get this monthly feature back up and running – especially around the holidays with so many fun and cool things I’ve discovered that would make great holiday gifts for the home and foodie in your family! So here’s my Top 10 for Holiday 2012…these should keep you and your loved ones happy all year ’round.

SpiceLab

1. The Spice Lab Gourmet Salts

One of my good friends bought me a set of these amazing gourmet salts for my birthday and I have to say they not only taste great but come in these cool little lab tubes that fit perfectly on my crowded countertops in my tiny NYC apartment. These are some of the best, rare and unique gourmet sea salts in the world; and they even come with reference cards with detailed descriptions and suggestions on which salts go with which dishes, making it easy to create the perfect combination of flavors. Some of the salts you’ll find in their sets include: Chili Pepper Cyprus Flake Finishing Sea Salt from the Island of Cyprus, Pink Himalayan Crystal Sea Salt from Pakistan, Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt, and Viking Oak Smoked Mountain Salt from Denmark.

http://shop.thespicelab.com/

Corkcicle

2. Corkcicle Wine Chiller

I discovered this fun little gadget at the NY Wine and Food Festival this year. It’s a sleek icicle/cork topped wine chiller that you freeze in the fridge and then place inside your wine bottles to keep your wine chilled. They come in classic cork, a variety of colors and they even have festive topped designs to celebrate the season. Talk about a cool holiday gift!

http://corkcicle.com/

Jan Burtz Pottery

3. Jan Burtz Pottery, ABC Home

This beautiful handmade pottery and ceramic line is something I found at ABC Home in New York City a few weeks ago and all I can say is it’s gorgeous. Organic shapes with a simple design, her ultra-thin tableware is artistic and elegant all at once, making your holiday table one to remember or a unique gift for a friend.

Read the interview with Jan Burtz from Handful of Salt

http://www.abchome.com/giftscollectables/dinnerware/tabid/204/productId/86/Default.aspx

Michel Design Works

4. Michel Design Works

I discovered this lovely collection of glass plates, serving trays, napkins, kitchen towels, soaps, candles, shower gels and creams at Parkleigh Pharmacy in Rochester, NY and fell in love with their beautiful design and luscious holiday scents such as Au Chocolat, Fleur de Noel, Snowman, Christmas, Nutcracker Sweet and Balsam Fir. Love this line! You can find their products at any upscale gift shop (such as Parkleigh Pharmacy) or order online.

http://www.micheldesignworks.com/

Nespresso Lattissma+

5. Nespresso Lattissma+

I already have an obsession with Nespresso coffee and machines, but now there’s a new kid on the block that I’m in love with! The new Lattissma+ is the ultimate coffee brewing machine that’s compact and sleek in design. In addition to its quick start up time and auto-off functions for energy-efficiency, this machine boasts a milk frother as well and can make perfectly portioned espressos, cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button. It comes in 4 elegant colors (Silky White, Ice Silver, Passion Red and Midnight Blue) to match every style and personality with a moderate price at $399.You can find them at Nespresso.comNespresso Boutiques (New York, Boston, Miami) and in select fine retailers such as Williams-SonomaSur La TableMacy’sCrate & Barrel. Don’t forget to buy some of their colorful Grand Cru coffee capsules that come in a variety of coffee strengths and flavors. Once you have a coffee machine this cool and easy, you’ll be hooked for life – I promise.

http://www.nespresso.com/lattissima/?l=us_en

Tea Forte

6. Winter Spice Collection, Tea Forte

There’s nothing better to warm you up on a chilly Winter night than a cozy mug of hot tea. Tea Forte has several tea collections of aromatic herbal and black teas, but my favorite is the Winter Spice Collection with delicious flavors such as Harvest Apple Spice, Sweet Ginger Plum, Winter Chai, Sweet Orange Spice and Hazelnut Truffle. The tea comes packaged in individual mesh infusers, and you can also get a brewing infuser mug or teapot to go with it. Other than that, all you need is a warm fuzzy blanket, some cozy slippers and a crackling fire to make it a perfect night in from the cold.

http://www.teaforte.com/store/gourmet-tea/tea-collections/winter-spice/

Pottery Barn Jewel Cut Barware

7. Jewel Tone Cut Glass Cocktail Collection, Pottery Barn

Who can resist a little bit of bling around the holidays? Pottery Barn has a lovely bar collection that comes in brilliant jewel tones (red, purple and gold) with etched cut glass in gorgeous designs that will fancify any holiday cocktail party or soiree. The cocktail shakers and set of 4 martini glasses run $39.50 each. GORGEOUS!

http://www.potterybarn.com/products/jewel-cut-glass-cocktail-shaker/

Zingermans

8. Zingerman’s

This is the ultimate go-to destination for hand-curated artisan and gourmet foods: they have gourmet and imported Coffees and Teas, Baked Goods, Candy, Chocolate Figs, Cheese, Chartucerie, Hand Pies, Fruitcakes, Olive Oil, Smoked Ham, Freshly Baked Breads, Pickles, Condiments and a whole boatload of other cool goodies you’ll want to get your hands on. You can join one of their Monthly foodie clubs: Bacon Club, Olive Oil Club, Baker’s Club, Forbidden Foods Club. Lots of fun DIY Kits including a Reuben Sandwich-making Kit. How fun! Order a Christmas gourmet goodie gift box, filled with a Zzang Original Handmade Candy bar, a mini Hot Cocoa Coffeecake, Spanish Chocolate-covered Figs, a half pound of their own Nor’easter Cheddar, a small Zingerman’s Stollen,  Spiced Pecans and a loaf of Chocolate Sourdough Bread. If you want to get really fancy, you can sign up for a Zingerman’s Artisan Food Tour with your sweetie and travel to Italy, Hungary and Spain. Not only is their gourmet food delicious, but quirky and fun and created by a community of small artisan food producers in the Ann Arbor MI area. LOVE.

http://www.zingermans.com/

iomoi

9. Decorative Lacquered Trays, iomoi

Founder Irene Chen worked at Calvin Klein and Donna Karan before teaming up with co-founder Matthew Grenby to create this luxury lifestyle brand with beautifully designed products for the home with a modern twist. Their lacquer trays are sleek and colorful and add some festive fun to your holiday table and cocktail parties. They also carry ice buckets, paper and glass coasters, gift tags, petite matches, stationery, handbags and accessories that reflect their bold geometric designs.

http://iomoi.stores.yahoo.net/section-lacquer-trays.html

Williams Sonoma DIY Kits

10. DIY Kits, Williams-Sonoma

For your ultimate DIY-er/Foodie in the family, Williams-Sonoma has an array of homemade kits including cheesemaking kits, herb gardens, sprouters, vinegar pots, kombucha making kits, butter, mustard, mushrooms, cider and wine presses. With all this fun stuff you’ll never have to leave home to make your own delicious homemade gourmet goodies for family and friends.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/shop/agrarian-garden/agrarian-garden-homemade-kits/

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: June 2012

Big Green Egg

1. The Big Green Egg Smoker & Grill

On a recent trip to Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend I discovered this awesome Big Green Egg grill. If you haven’t seen one of these things – its totally cool and easy to use. And it’s BIG. And GREEN. And looks like and EGG. It’s actually a ceramic grill and smoker that reaches temperatures up to 700 degrees F and has the ability to grill, smoke or steam everything on the planet in about 15-20 minutes. Very cool. We made a delicious Thai Sea Bass in Banana Leaves recipe from their Big Green Egg Cookbook and for our big BBQ party we smoked some amazing Texas-style Beef Brisket for about 11 hours and grilled a ton of fresh veggies from the farmer’s market. The result? Perfectly cooked crispy veggies and BBQ with a charred seasoned crust to DIE for – if only I could have one of these cool tools on my NYC rooftop, life would be even sweeter than it already is!

http://www.biggreenegg.com/

Butterfield Market NYC

2. Butterfield Market, NYC

It’s funny how when you live in Manhattan, going to another part of town feels like going to another country at times. I discovered this cool market on a recent  excursion to the Upper East Side when I went to a book launch party at Candle 79 for Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious. It’s more than a grocery store, and its not just a farmers market. Butterfield’s has an amazing bakery full of fresh baked breads, pastries, cookies, pies, tarts and cakes that will make you feel like you’re on a little hidden street in Paris. Rows and rows of fresh fruits and veggies, cheeses, frozen yogurt, gourmet prepared meals, sushi, sandwiches, soups and salads, imported goodies (chocolates, oils and vinegars, jams, caviar, coffees and teas..the list goes on) in their gift shop and a great catering menu to boot. Definitely worth paying a visit even if it means taking a trip to the other side of the world (just kidding!) or you can check them out and order some goods online.

http://butterfieldmarket.com/

Mandarin Napolean Event at Manhattan Cocktail Classic

3. Mandarin Napolean Event, Manhattan Cocktail Classic

I recently attended The Manhattan Cocktail Classic – a really cool event in a private suite at the Andaz Hotel sponsored by Mandarin Napolean liquor brand. The waitresses were decked out in French costumes, the lounge suite had old B&W movies with backgammon and zengo games on the table – and the outdoor bar had some really unique cocktails they whipped up featuring this delicious Belgian liqueur – a rich Sicilian Mandarin orange flavor-infused luscious brandyMandarin Sours, Belgian Coffee, Mandarin and Tonic,  and Mandarine Mojitos are just a few of the creative cocktails we sampled at the event. The story goes that Napolean actually created the idea for this unique liquor back in 1892, by soaking Mandarin oranges in cognac – Mandarin oranges were a symbol of wealth and power, a perfect blend for the powerful ruler – and a legend to this day.

http://www.mandarinenapoleon.com/

Manducatis Rustica, LIC

4. Manducatis Rustica, LIC

Manducatis Rustica is a cool little Italian place in Long Island City, run by owner and head Chef Mamma Gianna. They serve classic rustic Italian dishes and fresh pasta such as Lasagna, Wood-fired Pizzas, Antipasti, Chicken Piccatta, and Lobster Ravioli in Sage Lemon Butter and more. What’s even cooler are the life-sized statues out front, imported from Italy (which according to Mamma Gianna won’t be there much longer, so visit while you can!) and their famous homemade gelato in tons of different flavors like Pistachio, Mocha, Lemon and Tiramisu..mmmm!

http://www.manducatisrustica.com/Manducatis_Rustica/Main.html

Melt Shop NYC

5. Melt Shop, NYC

I don’t know about you, but I’m an absolute sucker for a mean Grilled Cheese sandwich. Enter Melt Shop, the ultimate hot shop for comfort food in Midtown Manhattan, run by Spencer Rubin and Chef Katy Sparks. They offer 13 different kinds of gourmet Grilled Cheese sandwiches – try the Truffle Melt made with Havarti, Arugula, fresh cracked black pepper and truffle oil, or the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Melt full of Jalapeno-Jack cheese, red cabbage slaw and Melt sauce, or the 12-hour Braised Pulled Pork with sharp cheddar, dill pickles and homemade BBQ sauce. Their Tater Tots are amazing and come with 5 different types of dipping sauces like Parsley Pesto or Truffle Mayo, and they also serve a great list of Breakfast Sandwiches, Wraps and Biscuits and have a few tempting desserts and handmade milkshakes on the menu too. Don’t forget a side of Homemade Tomato Soup to dip your Grilled Cheese in for the classic comfort food fix.

http://meltshopnyc.com/

RTR-Baggalicious

6. RTR Bag & Co/Baggalicious

Handpainted and made to order by RTR Packaging, these bags are just chic, creative and downright cool. Most of their clients are corporate but their bags are so fun that I might just need to track them down to get some hand-painted bags of my own – perfect for an event or party!

http://www.rtrbag.com/HTML/RTR-CORPORATION.html

Tello, Chelsea

7. Tello, Chelsea

If you’re looking for a great Sunday brunch place in NYC – this is the place to go. Tello is a trendy Chelsea-based Northern Italian trattoria decked out with red-checkered tablecloths, a big brass and wood bar, year-round Christmas lights, a jukebox pumping out Sinatra tunes, outdoor cafe seating and a Prix-Fixe Brunch Menu including cocktails for only $20. I ordered the Moules Frites (steamed mussels soaked in buttery white wine, garlic and herbs) with a refreshing Mimosa while soaking in the sun on the patio reading a good book and being amused by the Chelsea crowd walking by. According to NY Magazine, their Fried CalamariPenne and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Chicken Tello (boneless pieces sautéed in garlic and white wine with mushrooms and sausage) are a few of their specialties also worth a try.

http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/tello/menus/main.html

Barolo's Garden, Soho

8. Barolo’s Garden, SoHo

Located on West Broadway in Soho, Barolo’s Italian Ristorante and Garden is just a beautiful place to eat, period. I went there with some friends this past Easter for Sunday Brunch, and we dined on their magical garden patio surrounded with Cherry Blossom trees studded with sparkling white lights. We sampled a delicious Watermelon, Feta and Arugula salad and Fresh Mozzarella with Basil and Tomatoes for starters while sipping Champagne and enjoying a beautiful sunny Spring Day. For entrees, we had the Risotto with Gorgonzola and Blueberries (interesting combination of flavors!) and their Classic Rigatoni with Sausage and Peas in a Tomato Cream Sauce. They specialize in Northern Italian cuisine from the beautiful wine region of Barolo, Italy and also have an amazing wine list with over 1,200 Italian and imported wines and also have a huge restaurant inside and offer space for catering and events. A must-see for a special or romantic occasion!

http://www.nybarolo.com/

Dekalb Farmer's Market, Atlanta

9. Dekalb Farmer’s Market, Atlanta

It’s amazing to me that I lived in Atlanta Georgia for 12 years and only visited this awesome international farmer’s market maybe ONCE?! I was down there for Memorial Day Weekend this year visiting friends and we took a trip over there to buy some fresh goodies for our Thai Sea bass we made one night. This market has fresh fruits and veggies from all over the world, and also has every kind of spice you can imagine along with fresh baked breads, seafood, meats, cheese, a pastry and dessert section, teas and coffees and ingredients that you won’t find here in the U.S at a regular grocery store. I bought about 12 different bulk spices (all for less than $10!), tea, Thai coconut, mini wild blueberries, pecans, pistachios, sea salt, seasonings and other dried goodies that I could take back in my suitcase with me. Oh, and you can’t take pictures in there (I actually got scolded and was asked to put away my camera LOL) but you’ll absolutely love this place – it’s like taking a trip around the world and finding the best international gourmet foods all under one roof.

http://www.dekalbfarmersmarket.com/

Yogi Mayan Cocoa Spice Tea

10. Yogi Mayan Cocoa Spice Tea

I may be a die-hard coffee fan, but tea is something I’ve been trying to drink more of not only for its health benefits but also to reduce the caffeine buzz in my life. I discovered this Mayan Cocoa Spice tea at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market but I’m sure you can find it at health food stores or other gourmet grocery places. This delicious tea is a concoction of ground cocoa shells, (full of powerful antioxidants!) mixed with Ayurvedic warming and cleansing spices of Cardamom, Clove and Organic Cinnamon Bark, Black Pepper, Chicory Root, Natural Vanilla and Ginger Oil. Perfect way to start your day before a healing yoga session or a run – and it will get your blood flowing without the caffeine jitters with only 5 mg of caffeine. Serve it with a natural sweetener and steamed milk and you’ve got yourself a tasty Cocoa Chai Latte you can make at home!

http://www.yogiproducts.com/products/details/mayan-cocoa-spice/

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: May 2012

Beecher's Handmade Cheese
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

1. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

I stumbled upon this handmade cheese-making mecca a few weeks ago while on a stroll to the Union Square Farmer’s Market in the Flatiron District in NYC and was blown away by the impressive facility and store/restaurant as soon as I walked in. Founded by Seattle cheese maker Kurt Beecher Dammeier, Beecher’s offers customers a full range of handmade cheeses and gourmet artisan foods and wines with a cafe, coffee bar and store. There’s a huge window as soon as you walk in where you can watch the cheese makers, well, making fresh cheese in their in-house facility all day long. You can also visit their cellar and taste a glass of wine and check out their “cheese cave” where rows upon rows of cheeses are being aged to perfection. They also have three cookbooks with their signature recipes, and are famous for their “World’s Best” Macaroni and Cheese recipe which is in the book and you can also purchase pre-made in their shop or cafe. The retail store offers a bountiful, well-curated selection of the “best of” American artisan cheeses and charcuterie. While visiting, they’ll introduce you not only to their favorite cheeses and meats but also to the talented producers they know and love. You’ll also be provided with fantastic accompaniments- antipasti, crackers, honey, pickles, etc- for your carefully chosen cheeses and meats, all true to their mission of natural, additive-free foods.

Check out their Pairings Recommendations

900 Broadway, New York, NY
(212) 466-3340
http://beechershandmadecheese.com/

 

Veselka, East Village
Veselka, East Village

2. Veselka, East Village

I can’t believe I’ve lived in NYC for 7 years and haven’t been to this amazing place until last weekend when I stopped in for brunch. Veselka is a hopping little place in the East Village that specializes in Ukrainian foods and I had to stop in to sample their potato pancakes. Coming from a German-Polish family, my Mom used to make the best potato pancakes served with apple sauce and sour cream so of course I had to size these babies up to see if they compared, and I have to say they did. I had the brunch with a cheese omelette, a piece of their fresh made Kielbasa, rye toast and of course the pancakes. Bummer I forgot to order some of their famous Pierogies, Stuffed Cabbage and Beef Stroganoff – more family favorites I grew up eating..oh well, maybe next time! I’ll definitely be back for another foodie excursion to this yummy place. In fact, I just may grab a copy of the Veselka Cookbook to make some of these noms at home!

Veselka Restaurant was started in 1954 by Wolodymyr Darmochwal who had recently emigrated from the Ivano-Frankovsk region of Ukraine. In the early days Veselka was a humble neighborhood candy store and newsstand that had a small counter and a few tables where a small selection of Ukrainian dishes were served. The popularity of these homemade dishes helped Veselka to grow over the years and become a full fledged restaurant serving a large variety of homemade Ukrainian and American dishes. Some of their signature dishes include: Cabbage Soup, Pierogies, Kielbasa, Potato Pancakes, Ukrainian Borscht, Beef Stroganoff, Bigos (a hearty Ukrainian Hunter’s stew made with Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, Pork and Onions served with a side of mashed potatoes), Ukranian Meatballs, Veal Goulash, Stuffed Cabbage, Soups, Salads, Burgers, Brunch…the list goes on! The atmosphere is buzzing and busy, and the kitchen is open in the front near the fresh baked goods and desserts counter which you also should not miss.

View the Veselka menu

144 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
(212) 228-9682
http://www.veselka.com/

 

Roebling Tea Room, Williamsburg
Roebling Tea Room, Williamsburg

3. Roesling Tea Room, Williamsburg Brooklyn

I don’t get out to Brooklyn as much as I’d like to and especially Williamsburg – a funky creative foodie part of town that has some great restaurants. I stopped in to Roesling Tea Room after visiting a photographer friend of mine looking for a small bite to eat and a glass of vino after our meeting. I ordered at the bar and sampled a side of their luscious Macaroni and Cheese which was oooey gooey layers of cheese and shells with a dash of hot sauce topped with some fresh parsley. It was the perfect size for a small bite of goodness and was only $10 to boot. Their cocktail menu is pretty cool too with unique drinks such as “The White Witch” made with Flor de Cana and Creme de Cacao and Cream, or the “Way Too Early” made with Earl Grey tea, Gin, Lemon and Champagne.

They do have a full dinner menu (see link below) offering Apps such as Grilled Razor Clams, Raviolo with Garlic, Ricotta, Chili and Squid and a hearty Lamb Ragu over Vermicelloni with ground hazelnuts. If you’re hungrier and want a full meal, try the Steak Tartare, “Cock-a-leekie” Chicken, Grilled Hangar Steak or Softshell Crab. The atmosphere is dark and moody, with an open wrap around bar and is perfect for a quiet, intimate dinner with friends or a date. They also serve lunch and brunch with burgers, eggs, salads and fresh sides and offer room for parties and events in this impressive cool space and location.

View the dinner menu

143 Roebling Street  Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 963-0760
http://roeblingtearoom.com/

 

Limelight Marketplace
Limelight Marketplace

4. Limelight Marketplace, Chelsea

If you’re ever in Chelsea in NYC, this is a must-see destination. The ultimate “Festival of Shops”, Limelight Marketplace is a theatrical and fun shopping experience, located inside the restored Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion of 1845, and the infamous swanky Limelight Nightclub that was hoppin’ in the 70’s and 80’s. Redesigned by Henry Bendel, it re-opened its doors in 2010 to reveal a 3-story grand emporium filled with shopping, food, fashion, restaurants, art and home furnishings, decked out with grand arched ceilings, and the recently uncovered huge stained glass windows and limestone arches from the original church architecture. Inside you’ll find some cool bars and restaurants like the famous Grimaldi’s Pizza, Cava Wine Bar (Italian Meats, Cheeses, Wines), Jezalin’s (artisan soups, sandwiches, salads and chartucerie) and soon Cross Bar. Upstairs on the top floor you can’t miss the Marie Belle Cacao Bar and Luxury Chocolates. They also have an outdoor garden atrium (which is currently decorated with Indian tents) where you can chill out and enjoy a coffee or just stare at the amazing grand old architecture in awe.

656 6th Avenue, New York, NY
(212) 255-2144
http://www.shoplimelightmarketplace.com/mainmenu.html

 

Geronimo's Mexican, New Haven CT
Geronimo’s Mexican, New Haven CT

5. Geronimo’s Mexican, New Haven CT

Funny story how I ended up here in New Haven, CT for Cinco de Mayo…last Saturday I was supposed to go to the Foodstock Festival up at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT to see a great lineup of speakers and check out some amazing food vendors. So I rented a car online, took an early 2 hour train ride up to New Haven Union Station to pick up my rental car. Well, apparently even if you’ve pre-paid for your car  you still need a credit card to give them to take the car for the day. All I had was my camera, a Mastercard debit card and some cash – no go. Needless to say, my day in New Haven wasn’t all that bad. I walked around the beautiful campus of Yale University, went to the Yale Art Gallery, cruised around Chapel Street to grab a coffee and checked out the cute shops and boutiques. On my journey around town, I started getting really hungry for some Mexican and discovered a cool little place called Geronimo’s Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some margaritas and food.

I had a couple of margaritas since they were only $5 for Cinco de Mayo, and tried their Chicken Tortilla Soup which had huge chunks of white meat shredded chicken, fresh veggies and crunchy tortilla strips on top. The chips were handmade, and the salsa super fresh and chunky with lots of cilantro, just how I like it. For an entree I ordered the Pork Quesadilla which had shredded roasted pork bathed in a Chimayo chile sauce with chihuahua cheese and scallions; topped with fresh grilled corn salsa salad. Delicious! warning: just be super careful if you sample their homemade habenero pepper sauce – its super tasty but super HOT, believe me you only need a smidge to taste the heat!

My waitress was super cool and was patient with me as I ran around the restaurant taking pictures of all their cool Southwestern artifacts and cool interior design inside the restaurant. Chef Timothy Scott (Connecticut native who studied with Anne Willan at La Varenne Culinary School in Burgundy, France) and I chatted for a while as he showed me around the restaurant and told me about all the local, organic ingredients he uses and the South Dakota farms he visits to source all of his meats for some of their unique dishes as the Smoked Buffalo Brisket Tacos and Elk Chili. The menu has your typical Mexican dishes but they are infused with a “Santa Fe” New Mexican flavor, using traditional foods and flavors of the Native Americans, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-Americans that settled there. Its primary ingredients consist of corn, beans, chile peppers, rice, tomatoes, avocados, pork and bison. Slow-stewed meats and chilis, and natural heat from various chile peppers give the cuisine here a bold, rustic flavor that is distinct from other Mexican cuisine. Don’t miss it if you’re ever up visiting Yale or just cruising around New Haven for a day.

View the menu

271 Crown Street  New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 777-7700
http://www.geronimobarandgrill.com/

 

Forager's City Grocer, Chelsea
Forager’s City Grocer, Chelsea

6. Forager’s City Grocer, Chelsea

There’s a new kid in town – an amazing organic grocery market and restaurant called Forager’s City Grocer in Chelsea, sister to the Dumbo Brooklyn location. Everything inside the market is sourced from their local farms and made fresh daily on premises. They have a meat counter and prepared foods kitchen with fresh soups, salads, roasted veggies, house-cured pastrami, roasted chicken and herb-roasted porchetta (to die for!). Cruise towards the back and you’ll find a lovely cheese section, olives, cured and fresh butchered meats, and a full line-up of local, and more organic dairy products like yogurt, cream, butter and milk. They have plenty of spices, honeys, jams, imported pastas and other cool gourmet items. And in the front, you can’t miss the coffee bar and dessert counter where they have freshly baked cupcakes, croissants, and unique-flavored glazed donuts like Hibiscus and Blood OrangeOh my.

The restaurant inside the market has a clean design with an open kitchen and bar, high tables and stools and lots of natural lighting. The cuisine has an Asian flair, offering lunch, brunch and dinner. All the menu items are created with local, organic ingredients, house-cured meats and fresh veggies straight from their farm. They have great salads such as Raw Dayboat Salad with Yuzu Koshu and Crushed Lemon Oil, or Fermented Tea Leaf Salad with Dried Shrimp, Sesame, Peanuts, Crispy Garlic and Split Peas. Or try the Wok-Tossed Berkshire Pork Short Ribs or Crispy Whole Prawns with Chiles, Prickly Ash and Green Onions. Brunch is a new thing, serving up fresh omelettes, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, cinnamon french toast, house smoked pepper bacon and house made quinoa granola with fruit. And don’t miss the Forager’s wine store attached to the market next door where you can find organic wines from grape farmers all around the world.

The Chelsea location has also launched the debut of their expertly handcrafted cocktails along with a menu of beers and eco-minded selected wines on tap. The new, eclectic cocktail menu was designed by head bartender Aaron Polsky (also of Amor y Amargo). The menu is heavily influenced by the market’s hyper-local foraged produce and seasonally inspired house-made syrups and infusions. Some of the cool new cocktails to try are:

  • Gordon’s Healthy Lunch – made with Dorothy Parker Gin, Foragers Farm spicy baby lettuce juice, lime, meyer lemon oleo saccharum
  • Doug’s Spring MP – with Tequila Pueblo Viejo Blanco, rhubarb, tarragon, raspberry shrub, soda
  • Bruschetta – Thai basil and sun-dried tomato-infused Absolut 100 Vodka, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, tomato water, Bittermens Hellfire Shrub
  • Wisconsinite – Johnny Drum Bourbon, blood orange Oleo Saccharum, Bittercube Cherry Bark bitters

300 W. 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-8888
http://www.foragerscitygrocer.com/

 

Cupcake Cafe
Cupcake Cafe

7. Cupcake Cafe, Theatre District NYC

I recently went on a search of some pretty cupcakes for a photoshoot I am working on, and found this cute little place called The Cupcake Cafe in Hell’s Kitchen on 9th Avenue and 40th Street near Times Square. It’s a quaint little place with a tiny kitchen in the back where they bake and design their pretty floral cakes and cupcakes with great detail.  Anne Warren, co-owner, also designs custom wedding and personalized birthday cakes and offers cake decorating classes and film catering. The interior has a cute bench, a table and a few stools where you can sit and enjoy a coffee and a luscious buttercream-frosted flowery cupcake, just because. No frills, just a cozy spot to indulge.

View the menu

545 9th Avenue  New York, NY 10018
(212) 268-9975
http://www.cupcakecafe-nyc.com/

 

Metaphore Europe
Metaphore Europe

8. Metaphore Eurostyle, New Haven CT

While on my journey around town in New Haven, I stopped into this cool, colorful store on Chapel Street called Metaphore -Eurostyle. I met the owner and artist, Liza Clayson, who showed me around her store full of custom art and gorgeous hand-painted furniture, shower curtains, linens, dishes, glassware, French pantry gourmet items such as sea salts, oils, honeys, vinegars, mustards, jams, teas,  and cookies. We had an even more colorful conversation about the town, restaurants, blogging and marketing and who knows what else. I couldn’t help but start dreaming up all the cool photography and food styling sets one could design with her pretty hand-painted and imported goodies. Liza also has plenty of unique and unusual European-imported goodies in the store, thus the name “Eurostyle”. Many of her items are things you won’t find here in the U.S. – she has customers that come in the store from all over to buy her unique things. You just have to check it out for yourself. If you can’t make it to New Haven, you can call her directly and place a personalized order. Now that’s pretty cool.

1020 Chapel St # 2  New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 752-1066
http://www.metaphore-eurostyle.com/

 

Kyochon
Kyochon

9. KyoChon, Fifth Ave NYC

If you like fried chicken like I do, great – but this is no ordinary fried chicken – this is Seoul, Korea-style fried chicken and a tasty one at that. Located on Fifth Avenue near the Empire State Building, KyoChon came to NYC from Korea, opened its flagship store here and never looked back. KyoChon has become a cult-like obsession with New Yorkers (including myself) with its fresh, crispy, juicy fried chicken and tasty dipping sauces. The Soy Garlic and Hot & Sweet Chile sauces are apparently are secret recipes that founder Won-Kang Kwon and his wife whip up in a secret room in the basement of their production facilities in Seoul. They claim to use only fresh, not frozen, chickens, and hand-trim and hand-brush each piece, which is apparent when you taste a piece of their crunchy chicken. This ain’t no Chicken McNugget, folks. They also have sandwiches, salads and wraps filled with fresh veggies and fruits and the interior is pretty cool looking too, with its bright red spiral staircase and clear acrylic Jetson-style chairs and tables. Oh, and the Sweet Potato Fries ROCK.

View the menu

319 5th Avenue, New York NY
(212) 725-9292
http://www.kyochon.us/2009usa/03_store/02_ny.asp

 

Rodeo Bar
Rodeo Bar

10. Rodeo Bar & Grill, Murray Hill

After living in Atlanta for almost 12 years, it was refreshing to find a honky-tonk fun place in NYC that reminded me of the South.Rodeo Bar & Grill is probably one of the ONLY places in New York that you’ll find local and regional country and blues musicians playing live, where you can sit and enjoy a Margarita and some chips and salsa. This Tex-Mex bar and grill is located on 3rd Ave in Murray Hill and serves a kickass portion of chile con queso and chips, and other Tex-Mex specialties such as Enchiladas, Slow-Smoked Texas BBQ, Quesadillas, Tacos and a nice selection of burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and soups and salads. The live shows are on pretty much every night with different artists, until midnight during the week and late on weekends. They have a great happy hour from 4-7 pm offering half price margaritas and bar food like wings, nachos and sliders. Grab your cowboy boots, get yourself some tequila and some live country and blues – too fun.

375 3rd Avenue  New York, NY 10016
(212) 683-6500
http://rodeobar.com/

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: April 2012

Taproom 307
Taproom 307

1. Taproom 307, NYC

I happened to stumble upon this place on my way home one night, lured in by its moody lighting and buzzing atmosphere. Taproom 307 is a bar and restaurant in Gramercy (NYC) with over 40 varieties of local and domestic craft beers, beer cocktails, wine, unique artisan cocktails and amazing food. I tried their Hawaiian wood-fired pizza which was delicious, served on a wooden board, crispy crust, savory ham, gooey cheese and juicy pineapple. They also have delicious burgers, sandwiches, salads and bar food appetizers, which I”ll be sure to go back to try next visit! Beer Sommelier Hayley Jensen curates at Taproom No.307 – she fell in love with beer after college, and has been obsessed ever since. She discovered old world ales and went abroad to learn more. After moving to London and working in the craft bar scene there, she came back to NYC and joined famed Chef Daniel Boulud, as Beer Sommelier at DBGB Kitchen & Bar. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner every day of the week. Perfect place for happy hour after work with a group of friends!

307 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10010
212 725-4766

http://www.taproom307.com/

 

marimekko nyc

2. Marimekko Home, NYC

The name Marimekko is a play on words, yet completely descriptive. ‘Mari’ is an anagram of the first name of the company’s founder, Armi Ratia,while ‘mekko’ means ‘dress’ in Finnish. And it was indeed  Mari’s dresses that started it all in 1951. This place is a must-see if you ever come to visit NYC. The store in Flatiron District next to Eataly on the corner of 5th Ave and 23rd Street is a mecca full of beautiful, bright patterns and totally irresistable. They have a full line of dining and kitchenware, pillows, clothes, fabric to make your own custom items. Everything in the store is sleekly designed and fun – if you’re a stylist? its a dream come true.

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 843-9121

http://us.marimekko.com/

 

todaro bros nyc

3. Todaro Bros., Murray Hill NYC

Todaro Bros. is a small, local market in Murray Hill that specializes in Italian imported goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, imported cheeses, epicurean delicacies and fresh prepared foods. There’s also handmade fresh pastas, olives, an extensive range of imported olive oils, sauces, spices and freshly prepared breads. It reminds me of a place you’d see on the streets in Italy and it’s my failsafe place to go when I need fresh meats and fish, fruits and veggies or just some downright delicious food for dinner or a party.

555 2nd Avenue # A 
New York, NY
(212) 532-0633

http://todarobros.com/

zengo nyc

4. Zengo, NYC

Located in Midtown on 3rd Ave and 40th St, Zengo is my new favorite local hotspot for happy hour. The decor is vibrant and dramatic with decorative full length windows, hardwood floors and contemporary lighting and the cuisine is a lovely mix of Latin-Asian styles and flavors created by Chef-owner Richard Sandoval, whose accolades include Bon Appétit Restaurateur of the Year and Mexico’s Toque d’Oro. Chef Sandoval spins regional ingredients into beautifully balanced dishes designed for sharing – you’ll find small plates on the happy hour  menu such as Sushi, Shrimp-Vegetable potstickers, an assortment of flatbreads and churros. The beverage menu features innovative, hand-muddled cocktails as well as Latin wines, Japanese sakes and over 400 Tequilas. There are three bars inside – one in the main level and one downstairs, and their Sake & Shochu lounge upstairs is a great place for groups or private parties where you can experience a tasting of their many varieties of imported Sake or Shochu.

622 3rd Ave (btwn 40th St & 41st St) 
New York, NY 10017
(212) 808-8110 

http://www.richardsandoval.com/zengony/index.php

 

ABC carpet & home, nyc

5. ABC Carpet & Home, Flatiron District NYC

If there was ever a store I’d like to just move right into, this is the one. Yep, don’t even need to pack my things – they’ve got everything in there imaginable to live a deliciously luxurious life. If you’ve never been to ABC Carpet and Home in NYC you MUST visit next time you’re here. All I can say is when you walk in the store you feel like Alice in Wonderland that just fell down the rabbit hole into a beautiful, glittery, artistic place that you’ve never experienced before. Or got swept away to the Land of Oz like Dorothy did, minus the  midgets and ugly witch. All joking aside, this is probably my favorite home store in NYC – there’s homemade pottery and glassware, linens, pillows, jewelry, soaps and candles, fabrics, rugs, furniture – you name it. And everything in the store is artisan-made (which yes, lends to its hefty prices) – even if you just buy ONE thing, you’ll make your kitchen or home that much more beautiful. THE BOMB.

888 Broadway
New York, NY
(212) 473-3000

http://www.abchome.com/

 

stuzzi ristorante nyc

6. Stuzzi, Flatiron District NYC

I have been going here ever since I lived in NYC and its still one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. Located centrally in the Flatiron District, Stuzzi is an authentic Italian restaurant that specializes in Italian cuisine from all different regions and has an amazing bar and a daily happy hour from 4-7 pm – buy a drink and you get a small plate for free! Chow down on some Crostini with Ricotta and Honey, Meatballs, Risotto Balls, Cheese plates, Salumi plates with Soppressata and Parma Prosciutto, Flash-fried Roman style Artichokes, Battered Cod with Lemon Aioli…and the list goes on. My go-to drink is an Aperol Spritz made with Prosecco, Aperol bitters and a lemon twist – perfect pairing with the delicious appetizers! Of course they have an extensive Italian wine and beer list too. It’s never too crowded and the atmosphere is beautiful with gorgeous lighting, dark wood and brass. There’s a larger dining room in the back or you can just sit near the bar or outside patio and enjoy a drink and a quick bite. One of the best and reasonably priced for a great Italian place in the city.

928 Broadway
New York, NY
(212) 780-5100

http://stuzziristorante.com/

 

fishs eddy nyc

7. Fishs Eddy, Flatiron District NYC

Fishs Eddy is a purveyor of Dinnerware, Glassware, Flatware, Serveware, & Sturdyware, born in 1986 by the owners finding antique goods in Upstate NY and hauled them back in a van to the city to open this awesome shop. Millions of edgy, unique and incredibly fun dishes and glasses have come in and out of their doors. Retro patterns and prints, bright colors, classic styles and fun unique kitchen items are what you’ll find here. The best part is you can buy one-off items if you wish – a single piece of flatware, a fun kitchen towel, quirky straws, canning jars – you name it, they got it. And you won’t find this cool stuff anywhere else but here. As a food photographer and stylist, I’m in heaven in this store – and I guarantee you won’t walk out of here with a million fun and cool gadgets for yourself, without breaking the bank. Talk about FUN!

889 Broadway
New York, NY
(212) 420-9020

http://www.fishseddy.com/ 

 

la esquina nyc

8. La Esquina, Nolita NYC

So if you’re in the mood for some amazing, authentic Mexican food in NYC, this is the place you need to be. Located in Nolita; you can’t miss the old movie theatre style sign on the corner of Lafayette and Kenmare with its bright neon lights. Think street-style Mexican – grilled fresh corn with spices and cojita cheese, lovely tacos in every flavor, homemade guacamole, tortas, quesadillas, ceviche, grilled chorizo, chile relleno, tortilla soup, fresh salads- all made with fresh tasty ingredients. The Taqueria in front has a few bar stools and offers takeout, or you can sit in the Brasserie or Cafe for a full meal. Definitely top on my list for the best tacos in town – and its fairly priced too! Oh, and you just might happen to run into a celebrity while you’re here – Claire Robinson, Chef on Food Network, was enjoying lunch and margaritas right outside on the patio while I was there! Awesome grub for an awesome price – don’t miss this one!

106 Kenmare Street
New York, NY
(646) 613-7100

http://esquinanyc.com/

 

MOMA design store SoHo

9. MOMA Design Store, SoHo

Now here’s a cool place I discovered recently – who would have ever thought that the MOMA Design store would have such cool stuff for the kitchen and a serious cook? An extension of the Modern Museum of Modern Art, the store is a mecca for high design. Kitchen tools, glassware, silverware, dishware, cookbooks, bowls and baskets made of modern metal design, funky kitchen gadgets, all brightly colored and sleekly designed with modern materials (metal, plastic, glass, silicone, etc.) by notable artists and designers. I wouldn’t go here to stock up your kitchen though, as the prices are a bit steep – but if you’re looking for a collectible kitchen or home item that you can actually use and proudly display, this is the place to go.

81 Spring Street
New York, NY
(646) 613-1367

http://www.momastore.org/

 

le labo nyc

10. Le Labo, Nolita NYC

Last but not least, is a really fun place I discovered down in Nolita – Le Labo fragrance lab. Originating in France, this store makes high-end custom fragrances in the store based on your preferences and desired scent. Made from natural ingredients and essential oils like lavender, vanilla, lemon, bergamot, rose, patchouli, orange blossom –  each fragrance has a unique scent. They do have about 10-15 pre made fragrances to choose from too but its too cool that you can make your own – and they even print your name on the bottle label so its truly a personalized scent! Check out their online store if you can’t make it to NYC. Too cool to ignore.

233 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012 
(212) 219-2230

http://www.lelabofragrances.com/

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: March 2012

Anthropologie Home

1. Anthropologie Home

I don’t know about you, but I am completely obsessed with Anthropologie. Everything in that store has a handcrafted, creative, bohemian feel that makes me want to throw on a pair of sandals and a sundress and move to California. The home store is a mecca full of beautiful dishes, plates and table settings and the kitchen and cooking area is a must-see for the foodie and cook in the house. Gorgeous hand-painted plates and ceramics, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, pottery, linens, and oh my, the cute aprons! Totally love this place. Find this fun, cool stuff online or in retail stores.

http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/category/kitchen/home-kitchen.jsp

 

buon Italia

2. buon Italia, Chelsea Market

The next time you’re in New York City, you must visit the Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District – if only for the FOOD!! My favorite place in there is buon Italia, an Italian food store that sells fresh cheese, butter, meat, fish, olives, bread, and pasta. Inside is every Italian imported foodstuff you could ever dream of: truffles and capers, olive oils and vinegars, coffees, teas and chocolates, sauces, spreads and preserves, pastas, grains, nuts and spices…you name it, they got it! It’s a foodie haven and impossible to pass by (or leave once you enter!) Everything in the store is fresh and authentic Italian, and reasonably priced too. You won’t walk out of there without an Italian feast ready to be made at home – this I promise you.

buon Italia, Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave, New York NY 10011 | 212 633 9090

http://buonitalia.com/

 

mina harissa spicy

3. Mina Harissa

I discovered these lovely sauces when I attended the Just Food Conference in NYC and love the tasty flavor and heat. Harissa is a traditional Moroccan red pepper sauce made with red chiles, red bell peppers, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt. Creator Mina, a native from Casablanca, learned how to create this luscious spicy sauce from a neighbor when she was 16, and experimented over the years to develop her own recipe. This sauce is delicious as a condiment with a kick – pair it with lamb, BBQ chicken, or grilled scallops, or use it as a base in a tagine (a North African meat and vegetable stew served in an earthenware pot) served with couscous or rice. The sauce comes in mild, medium or spicy (my favorite!) and can be ordered online at Abe’s market.

http://www.casablancafoods.com/

 

Anna's Thins

 

4. Anna’s Cookie Thins

I found these delicious little treats on a recent excursion to The Cellar at Macy’s on 34th Street in NYC. Anna’s Thins are crispy, thin and come in four flavors: Ginger, Orange, Chocolate Mint and Almond. They have just the perfect amount of sweetness, are delicate and crunchy, and totally melt in your mouth. I dipped the Ginger thins in a vanilla latte which was delicious – another tasty idea would be to crumble them over butternut squash ravioli for a touch of some sweet crunch, or use them to make a cheesecake or pie crust. According to Anna’s and Swedish tradition, these crunchy thins can bring you good luck too. Simply place one of the cookies in the palm of your hand, then make a wish. Tap the cookie in the middle with your index finger – if it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true. Sweet!

http://www.annasthins.ca/

 

34 degrees crispbreads

5. 34 Degrees Crispbreads

I love these fun, clever crackers by 34 Degrees! Super light and crispy, these flatbreads are also made with all natural ingredients. They have 6 different flavors: lemon zest, whole wheat, cracked pepper, rosemary, original and sesame. Great with cheese and are an awesome alternative to bread – pair brie with prosciutto, arugula and fig for a great snack. Top the crisps with smoked salmon, an herbed chicken salad or southwestern shrimp salad. If you want a mini-dessert, try layering mascarpone cheese and lemon curd topped with a mint sprig or spread them with peanut butter, honey, and almonds. I really love how light and airy they are…they really let the toppings shine and are also great on their own. Cute design too!

http://www.34degrees.com/

 

Honey Hazelnut Cocoa Cream

6. Le Querce Honey Hazelnut Cocoa Cream

I found this delectable chocolate spread when I was at Buon Italia (see store info above) in Chelsea Market. It’s kind of like Nutella, but even better! It’s made with Acacia Honey, Piedmont hazelnuts and cocoa and has a sweet, creamy, chocolate-y, nutty flavor, with a hint of honey – this stuff is addicting! Delicious on toast, crackers, pancakes or simply by itself. Beware: don’t try this stuff at home alone.

http://www.agricirie.it/dettaglio.asp?C=136&P=2514&M=0&n=4


Friedmans Lunch

7. Friedman’s Lunch, Chelsea Market NYC

On a recent trip to Chelsea Market, my friend and I were in search of a healthy lunch and a glass of wine. We discovered Friedman’s Lunch – a great little spot inside the market that serves up fresh, local and organic food. Friedman’s Lunch was named after Milton Friedman, the famous economist, who popularized the expression “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”. And while the lunch there isn’t free, it’s certainly delicious and reasonably priced.

Friedman’s has a fun, buzzing atmosphere with an open kitchen, friendly waiters, music, large mirrors and chalkboard menus making it a welcome spot for a cozy lunch while shopping at the market. The menu has a great assortment of comfort food including down-home favorites such as buttermilk fried chicken, beef brisket burgers, two-bean turkey chili and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.

Friedman’s Lunch is committed to using organic ingredients, mostly from local food purveyors around New York. Their brunch and dinner menus offer a wider variety of salads and breakfast dishes and delicious all the same. They’re open 7 days a week and also deliver with online ordering. Definitely worth a trip (if only for the gooey grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup!)

Friedman’s Lunch
Chelsea Market
75 Ninth Ave, New York, NY 10011 | 212.929.7100

http://www.friedmanslunch.com/

 

NY Gourmet Coffee

8. New York Gourmet Coffee

I discovered this great line of handcrafted artisan coffees at the Coffee and Tea Festival last weekend in NYC. With all the coffee and tea brands overwhelming me at the show, this one particular brand stood out. Why? First off, they have about 100 different flavors that will knock your socks off: Vanilla Macadamia, Banana Caramel, Chocolate Irish Cream, Crème Brulee, Holiday Sugar Cookie, Kahlua Cappuccino, Jamaican Me Crazy…and the list goes on. They also offer a line of specialty and organic/fair trade coffees (Costa Rican, Brazilian, Kenya-AA, Sumatra, Columbian, etc.) The best part of all is that it’s a local New York brand originating in Long Island, and the owners are passionate about making fresh roasted coffee on a daily basis and handcrafting all of their unique flavors. You can purchase their coffees online and at several retail locations in LI, NJ and CT. Next stop is Manhattan!

http://www.newyorkgourmetcoffee.com/

 

Falksalt

9. Falksalt

I don’t know about you, but I love salt. Not overdone, of course, and not just regular table salt. I’m talking REAL salt. Big, flaky, sea salt. The GOOD stuff. Falksalt is a Swedish brand that has been making this good stuff for over 180 years, and is made with the advice of professional gourmet chefs. This is serious salt, folks. Big, chunky, crystal flakes; so beautiful you almost don’t want to take it out of the package. Falksalt has a line of flavors that will knock your socks off: Wild Garlic, Wild Mushroom, Smoked, Citron, Rosemary, Red Chili, Chipotle, Black and Natural. Perfect for sprinkling over fresh or roasted veggies, rimming a fancy cocktail or for crusting a beautiful piece of fish or steak. This is not your everyday table salt, folks – save it for a delectable occasion.

http://www.falksalt.com/

 

Joseph Joseph Bowls

10. Joseph Joseph Cookware

Joseph Joseph is a cool brand I discovered that makes fun, colorful, modern kitchen and cooking tools. With their bright colors and sleek, edgy designs, you can’t pass these up. I bought the 5-in-1 Unitool – which basically gives you well, 5 utensils in 1: slotted spoon, turner, cutting tool, solid spoon and spatula. Even better, it’s safe for non-stick cookware and heat resistant up to 480 degrees. Love it! I also got the Nest 6 Multicolor Prep Bowl Set that comes with six kitchen items in one: 4 measuring cups, and a small and medium mixing bowl, that fit nicely together and come in gorgeous bright colors to brighten up your kitchen.  Check out their other cool tools online, or find them at Sur La Table or The Cellar at Macy’s. Fun!

http://www.josephjoseph.com/

Valbella Ristorante, Meatpacking District NYC

Valbella NYC
Valbella NYC

Valbella is an elegant, Italian restaurant in the warehouse section of the Meatpacking District. Upon entering, you are greeted by hostesses and the owner as they take your coat, and the restaurant literally glitters with white lights on the chandeliers and the décor around the bar.

Antipasti and Wine
Antipasti and Wine

I recently went there for a birthday outing with some friends and was very impressed with the food, atmosphere and service. Our large table was seated within minutes of our reservation, and we were immediately served menus and big glasses of wine, along with Antipasto plates of Soppressata and Parmigiano-Reggiano and baskets of fresh-baked crusty Italian bread.

Beef Carpaccio
Beef Carpaccio

The menu has a nice selection of Italian Seafood, Chicken, Beef and Veal dishes, as well as a variety of sides and sautéed vegetables, pasta and risotto selections. A few of the Antipasto selections we tried were the Caprese, Calamari Fritti, and Carpaccio di Manzo, one of my favorite dishes on the menu – thinly sliced filet mignon over arugula, topped with shaved Parmigiano cheese, red onion and capers; deliciously enveloped in pastry with a drizzle of tangy sweet reduced balsamic vinegar. This dish literally melts in your mouth!

Risotto Adriatico
Risotto Adriatico

I ordered the Risotto Adriatico, made with Carnanoli rice with roasted langoustines (a cousin of the lobster) and crabmeat in langoustine sauce, which was velvety and delicious. We ordered dishes family style so that we could sample a variety —

Scallopini Martini
Scallopini Martini

I absolutely loved the Scaloppini Martini, lightly breaded scaloppini of veal with Parmigiano and breadcrumbs, served in a creamy, light lemon and white wine sauce.

Penne alla vodka
Penne alla vodka

The Penne alla Vodka, made with fresh tomato sauce, a touch of cream, basil, scallions and a splash of vodka had a perfect velvety, creamy consistency and flavor. The side dish of Broccoli Rabe, sautéed in garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil was so delicious that the table ordered two more double orders to pass around!

Mascarpone and Almond Pastry Cake
Mascarpone and Almond Pastry Cake

We were surprised with a gorgeous dessert of light sweet mascarpone cheese, layered in flaky pastry topped with cinnamon and toasted slivered almonds.

They have an extensive wine list and a lovely dessert menu that changes daily. It’s a great place for large groups and parties (with reservations in advance), and most dishes run $28-50. An average ticket per person in a group will range approximately $100-125 for Starters, Drinks, Entrée and Dessert. Definitely worth a visit for an elegant outing (if only for the Beef Carpaccio or Broccoli Rabe)!

Valbella Ristorante
421 13th Street
New York, NY
212.645.7777
http://www.valbellanyc.com/

View the Menu 

Make an online reservation

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Jan 2012

Eataly NY Day
Eataly NY Day

On a recent trip to Eataly, I discovered some gourmet goodies that I had to add to my list of Top 10 Things I Love for this month.  For Eataly’s Eat New York Day, 16 local and small town New York food Producers sampled their products and shared their stories about their artisan products and support for local, sustainable agriculture. Here’s a few of my favorites worth mentioning that you should try for yourself – most are available at EatalyFresh DirectWilliams-SonomaSur la TableDean and DelucaWegmans and Whole Foods, or through other food retailers around New York state and online. To find more local New York organic farmers and food producers, check out GrowNYC‘s website for a complete listing.

1. McClure’s Pickles

McClure's Garlic Relish
McClure’s Garlic Relish

McClure’s Garlic Relish is the tastiest, crunchiest fresh tasting relish ever. Made with fresh chopped garlic, dill and cucumber – it tastes more like a salad and is great on fish, vegetables, sandwiches, and in egg & tuna salads. I imagine topping these on hot dogs and hamburgers is out of this world too – a must at my next rooftop grill party! McClure’s also makes amazing crunchy pickles and a Spicy Bloody Mary mix that will knock your socks (or your hangover!) off. Check em out online here: http://www.mcclurespickles.com/

 

2. Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt

Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt
Maple Hill Creamery Yogurt

Maple Hill Creamery yogurt is 100% organic grass fed dairy, made produced in Little Falls, NY. I sampled the Maple flavor which is sweetened with all-natural maple syrup and it was delicious – not too sweet, with a thick and creamy consistency and flavor. They have other unique flavors besides Maple and Vanilla, such as Wild Blueberry, Orange Creme and Lemon. They use all natural flavors, real fruit and cream which makes this yogurt truly special, and good for you too.

http://www.maplehillcreamery.com

 

3. Sir Kensington & Sons Ketchup

Sir Kensington's Spiced Ketchup
Sir Kensington’s Ketchup

For all you ketchup lovers, this is the epitome of gourmet scooping ketchup.  The proprietor, Sir Kensington, is a gourmet Brit who attended Oxford University with degrees in Industrialism, Philanthropy and Culinary Arts. They have a regular and spicy variety, perfect for dipping fries and topping for hamburgers, meatloaf and hot dogs, or making a spicy cocktail sauce for shrimp. Their ketchups are made with vine-ripened pear tomato puree, sweetened with Agave nectar, honey and raw brown sugar, spiced with exotic ingredients such as Chipotle, Cilantro and Cayenne Pepper. The flavorfulness in their Spicy Ketchup comes from ingredients such as Coriander, Lime Juice and Allspice and some Apple Cider Vinegar. Their secret ingredients remain a mystery to this day.

http://sirkensingtons.com/index.html

 

4. Alchemy Cookie Bites by Carla Hall

Alchemy Pecan Shortbread w/ Vanilla Salt
Alchemy Pecan Shortbread 

Warning: If any of you have a serious sweet tooth addiction, this product may not be right for you. Ha! Seriously though, one little bite of Carla Hall’s Alchemy cookie bites and you’ll be hooked forever. I tried the Pecan Shortbread with Vanilla Salt cookies and they’re out of this world. Buttery, not too sweet, toasted pecans with a vanilla essence and hint of salt to bring out the flavors. She also has a variety of other gluten-free, sweet and savory Alchemy cookie flavors such as Oatmeal with White Chocolate and Dried Cranberries, Smoky Blue Cheese Walnut and Mexican Chocolate Chip. Carla’s artisan cookie bites are truly a labor of love – baked to perfection containing only the finest ingredients – European-style butter, organic sugar, flours, couverture chocolate, artisan cheeses, fresh nuts, seasonal fruits… can’t get any better than this!

http://alchemybycarlahall.com/

 

5. Artisan Handcrafted Italian Salami by Creminelli

Creminelli Artisan Salami
Creminelli Artisan Salami

Creminelli Artisan Salami was created by Cristiano Creminelli, Italian food artisan meat purveyor. Hormone-free and American-made in Salt Lake City, Utah, his salami is fresh and flavorful and rivals imported Italian varieties. To make an antipasti plate, pair the salami (and some of their delicious prosciutto!) with Italian cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Taleggio and Fontina, mixed olives, capers and nuts, fresh fruits and berries and serve with some crusty bread and a big glass of hearty red wine. Mangia!

http://www.creminelli.com/

 

6. NY Foods Organic Butter, Cheese and Ice Creams

NYFoods Organic Butter
NYFoods Organic Butter

NyFoods has a fantastic line up of organic, grass-grazed dairy products made in Upstate New York on a family-owned farm. Their creamery unsalted butter is delicious, and they have great cheeses made with pastured cow’s milk: colby, monterey jack, smoked mozzarella, pepper jack and raw milk gouda and cheddar. The artisanal ice cream is sweet and creamy – in chocolate, vanilla, mint chip and cookies and cream – to die for!

https://www.facebook.com/NYFoods

 

7. A. Bauer’s All-Natural Mustard

A. Bauers Mustard
A. Bauers Mustard

I’m not usually a mustard fan, but A. Bauer’s natural stone-ground mustard is absolutely delicious. They have a Horseradish Mustard too – great on pretzels and anything you want to add a spicy kick to. Made in Ridgewood, NY, A. Bauer’s is a family business that has been producing this awesome deli-style mustard since 1888.

http://shop.abauersmustard.com/

 

8. Acme Smoked Fish

Acme smoked fish
Acme smoked fish

Acme smoked fish is family owned and operated out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn since the early 1900’s. All of their smoked fish is certified Kosher and they offer a delicious line up of Gravlax, Trout, Tuna, Cod and Whitefish. Perfect for making pizzas, sandwiches and topping bagels – you’ll love their buttery smoked salmon that melts in your mouth.

http://www.acmesmokedfish.com/retail/index.html

 

9. Lurisia La Nostra Gazzosa Sparkling Lemon Water

la nostra gazzosa
la nostra gazzosa

I found this lovely refreshing Italian drink La Nostra Gazzosa at Eataly in the beer, wine and beverage area – a cross between a sparkling lemon seltzer and a 7-up but imported from Italy and way cooler. This bubbly Gazzosa is made from Italian Amalfi lemons – delicious, tart, and sweet all at the same time. Even better, it’s only $7-8 for a four-pack of these imported beauties.

Find it at Eataly – http://www.eatalyny.com

 

10. Ines Rosales Tortas

Ines Rosales Tortas
Ines Rosales Tortas

I’m not sure how to describe these delicious things, but these Tortas made by Ines Rosales in Spain are a savory, flaky flatbread made with olive oil and herbs – a cross between a pita bread and a croissant and a flaky cracker. Delicious served alone or with cheese, hummus, dips and olives and salumi.

Find them at Amazon.com, and Murray’s Cheese online or at Grand Central Market

Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Oct 2011

Smorgas Chef, West Village NYC

1. Smorgas Chef, West Village

Nestled on a corner in the West Village, Smorgas Chef is a cozy, authentic Swedish restaurant that I discovered last month when a friend was in town. I have heard good reviews but haven’t had the chance to try it yet, and am I glad I did! Their food style is labeled “New Nordic Cuisine“, and everything on the menu is locally sourced and organic. The interior is small but has a large bar, and has a warm, ambient lighting that is cozy and romantic. They also have outside seating on their front patio as well as wrapped around the side of the building which is really nice on a crisp Fall night. We started our evening with Lingonberry Margaritas (quite potent I must add!) while we waited for our seats. We nibbled on some delicious Gravlaks Croquettes, which has generous pieces of luscious smoked salmon atop crispy potato cakes with chives and horseradish creme fraiche.

For our main dish we had to try their infamous Swedish Meatballs – WoW. Party in your mouth! The dish is almost enough for 2 people – you get about 10-12 decent sized meatballs slathered in a creamy light brown gravy, with whipped garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed julienne vegetables. The key to this dish is not only try them with the tangy and tart Lingonberry Preserves, but also ask for a side of Cloudberry Preserves (another delicious golden berry used in Swedish cooking that tastes like raspberry, strawberry and mango). For dessert, we ordered strong espressos and a pot of one of their many signature Swedish herbal teas. If we had more room, we might have tried the Scandanavian Soft Vanilla Waffles with Cloudberry preserves and Chantilly cream or the Honey Milk Chocolate Mousse but we were just so damn full from the Meatballs that we almost took a nap right there on the table. Love this place, will definitely be back for more Swedish yummy yums! They also have locations in the Financial District and in the Scandanavian House on Park Avenue.

Smorgas Chef, West Village
283 W. 12th St | New York NY 10014 | 212.243.7073

Check out Smorgas Chef online

Pane Panelle

2. Pane Panelle @ Stuzziceria, Tribeca

Pane Panelle is the new sandwich shop attached to Stuzziceria in TriBeCa that was just voted #2 Best Sandwich in NYC by New York Magazine in August ’11. I had to try this place out for myself after all the good reviews and my office being across the street from both places! I tried the Meatball and Mozzarella Panini which was perfect in its crispy grilled exterior with savory meatballs and sauce with tons of gooey cheese on the interior. They also sell meatballs and sauce by the pint if you want to just take them home and throw them over some fresh cooked pasta.

The sandwich shop and restaurant is run by Chef Paul di Bari, with a variety of other Sicilian-style sandwiches including a muffuletta with salami, provolone and an olive salad and their namesake sandwich with chickpea fritters, caciocavallo and ricotta cheese on Grandaisy bread. The price is a little steep at around $8-9 per sandwich, but they are so good you just can’t pass them up!

Pane Panelle TriBeCa
305½ Church St. between Lispenard St. and Walker St. | 212.219.2357

Check out Pane Panelle online

Mexicue Food Truck

3. Mexicue Food Truck, NYC

I remember not too long ago complaining about how there are very few affordable lunch options in the TriBeCa area, most restaurants being a bit more on the shi-shi side and a bit more than I’d like to spend on a daily basis when I’m just looking for some quick, good grub for lunch. Alas, the Mexicue Food Truck appeared on Church Street and I got really excited! The brand name says it all – their delicious sliders and tacos are a perfect mixture of BBQ and Mexican flavors all rolled into some really tasty morsels. I sampled the Smoked Short Rib Slider – full of super tender smoked short ribs slathered in a Memphis Mole sauce, topped with pickled onions, romaine lettuce and cojita cheese. The Burnt Ends Slider is almost like a super fancy Sloppy Joe, but mini-sized and fantabulous flavors – the chili is made of pulled brisket mixed with ground beef, then topped with a cilantro lime crema and house pickled jalapenos. These guys definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to flavorful fast food. I haven’t stopped dreaming of the next time I can get my hands on some these notable noshes! Besides their mobile food trucks, you can also find these guys in Midtown West on 7th Avenue and on Forsyth St on the Lower East Side.

Check out Mexicue’s menu and locations online

Wafles & Dinges

4. Wafles & Dinges Food Truck, NYC

Now here’s something worthy of talking about. I’m not one to have much of a sweet tooth, but last month I was swayed by a friend (as well as the friendly food truck guy) at Wafles & Dinges to sample some of these luscious golden crisp Belgian Waffles slathered in Spekuloos spread, bananas and powdered sugar. I have always loved Belgian Waffles – but Spekuloos spread? What the hell is that? I had to try it. All I can say is its a cross between a butterscotch and hazelnut flavor and has the consistency of a creamy syrup (almost like a melty Nutella) and is completely divine. Nothing like I’ve ever tasted. That’s it. I’m officially hooked.

They have a ton of toppings (dinges) which you can get UNLIMITED for $2 extra. They refer to this as WMD, or Wafel of Massive Deliciousness. Dulce de Leche, Belgian Chocolate Fudge, Maple Syrup, Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, the list goes on. You can even get some savory Wafels like BBQ Pulled Pork (next on my list) or de Bacon Syrup Wafel which sounds pretty darn cool too. Chow it all down with a hot Belgian Cocoa or Coffee with a shot of hazelnut – you’ve got the perfect sweet snack in the middle of Central Park (or wherever you might discover them on the streets of NYC!) Awesome. Just sayin’.

Check out Wafels & Dinges online

KitchenAid Appliance Demo

5. KitchenAid 3-Speed Hand Blender

So I found a new toy to play with. A serious cooking toy, that is. I had the opportunity to attend a product demo with KitchenAid at SeeFood media kitchens on the Lower East Side – one of New York’s premiere food photography and video studios. Not only did we get to preview first hand some of KitchenAid’s new products, but we were served delicious nibbles from local food purveyors such as Katz DeliDoughnut PlantRuss & DaughtersYonah Shimmel Knish BakeryBoubouki and Bisous Ciao. We sampled Pastrami Sandwiches, homemade doughnuts, smoked salmon, knishes, spanakopita and yummy macarons…too much good food to even talk about!

KitchenAid has a great new line of stand mixers, food processors and a 3-speed hand blender that does all the chopping, crushing, whisking and pureeing you’ll ever need in one handy little tool! This probably has become my favorite all-purpose tool with its handsome design, lightweight body and smart precise mechanics that is totally portable and actually fits perfect in my small NYC kitchen! It’s perfect for chopping herbs and veggies, mixing soups and pureeing food right in the pan. It’s super quiet and has a soft grip handle making it comfortable and easy to use. Love it!

Thanks to everyone at KitchenAid and SeeFood Media for a great event and even greater gift to make my cooking faster, easier and more delicious!

Check out KitchenAid products online

Check out SeeFood Media online

Antique Garage, Soho

6. Antique Garage, Soho

Now if there’s a cool place in Soho, this is it. This eclectic, funky and elegant little place is a gem located in lower Soho on Mercer Street. They specialize in Mediterranean cuisine and have antique furnishings, live music and gorgeous chandeliers to match. Their menu is an infusion of French, Moroccan, Turkish and Ottoman cuisine and they have great small plates (Mezes) such as Hummus and Tzatziki, marinated octopus, fried calamari and eggplant salad if you just want to snack with a glass of wine. I stopped in solely for drinks and had an interesting mint, rum and cucumber concoction that knocked my socks off! Their Grilled Turkish Meatballs are a specialty, and they have other Mediterranean yummies such as Shrimp Casserole and Grilled Veggie Skewers and Pan-seared Tuna. The atmosphere is warm and dimly lit, the music is authentic Turkish (and live!), and the whole gorgeous setting is inside an old garage – they keep the front garage door open so you get a nice breeze and a nice view. Very lovely. Very romantic. A nice place for a dinner date and some great food. I’ll definitely be back for some of those Grilled Turkish Meatballs and fresh made Tzatziki!

Check out Antique Garage online

da Mikele, TriBeCa

7. da Mikele, Tribeca

I stopped in here the other day for a quick lunch at the bar and for the life of me couldn’t decide what to order. Not that that’s a bad thing – just too many damn good choices on the menu! da Mikele is owned by Michele Iuliano, owner of Luzzo’s in the East Village, and Ovest Pizzoteca in Chelsea. Their menu is Neopolitan-inspired and the best thing to try is one of their oven-fired pizzas. Old-fashioned Square pizza, Cone Shaped Pizza, Oven-baked Neapolitan pizza, homemade Focaccia bread pizza..you name it, they got it. And they got it good. I had one of their “pizzettes” which is a thin crust oblong shaped pizza that was topped with Spicy Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Mozzarella – just enough for lunch and it came with a mixed greens salad. The crust is perfectly cooked, crunchy on the outside and chewy with lots of gooey melted cheese – delicious! They have a nice selection of Antipasti – the Polpette (meatballs in tomato sauce) are really good with a side of crusty bread and their Italian soups are delicious too. I haven’t tried the Pasta dishes yet, but they look amazing (yes, I was eyeing the Pesto Shrimp Risotto on the plate next to me) and are on the list for my next visit (which will be very soon!). Check it out.

275 Church Street, New York NY 10013 | 212.925.8800

Check out da Mikele online

Kelley + Ping, Soho

8. Kelley + Ping, Soho

I stumbled across this cool Asian noodle shop one night when I was strolling through Soho after work and felt like having an appetizer and a drink, and that I did. I sat down at their cozy bar in the front and ordered a ginger-infused vodka drink that was cool and fresh and spicy, topped with some fresh mint. While I was looking at the menu, the bartender put out these amazingly addictive asian spiced nuts in front of me – in a cute bamboo basket with a cover! I think there were cashews, wasabi peas and some crunchy coated spicy peanuts in there – not sure but I think I ate at least two baskets of these before I actually ordered something off the menu. So I ordered some of the Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce which came with another clear sweet and spicy dressing with peppers in it. Pretty darn good! I’ve only actually eaten here one other time and had the traditional Pad Thai but they have tons of other interesting noodle dishes and Asian dishes including Vietnamese style on the menu that I’d try next time around. Nice atmosphere, good service, and oh, did I mention the asian spiced nuts? It’s worth a visit just for those lovely things and a house infused vodka.

127 Greene St. Soho NY 10012 | 212.228.1212

Check out Kelley + Ping online

The Lot, High Line

9. The Lot, High Line Park NYC

Situated at the base of the entrance of High Line Park at W. 30th St and 10th Ave, The Lot is really just that – a (parking) lot with free events, an outdoor bar, picnic tables and umbrellas all inside a circle of cool food trucks. But these aren’t just any food trucks, we’re talking awesome coffee and ice cream bar Van LeeuwenKorilla BBQThe Taco Truck, and an outdoor bar by Colicchio & Sons with craft beers on tap. After some good grub and a beverage, you can hike up the stairs to the gorgeous High Line park situated on an old railroad line that spans from W. 30th Street all the way down to Greenwich Street in the Meatpacking District. If you haven’t checked out this beauty, you must, must do so. Being up so high is a breath of fresh air from being in this crowded city and the views are absolutely amazing to boot. Gardens, sculptures, art, and really cool buildings along the way. When you’re done, stop at The Porch on W. 15th Street for a great sammie and fresh fruit from The Green Table located in Chelsea Market. Oh, and make sure to get an artisan fruit ice pop or shaved ice from People’s Pops on the way out for dessert!

Check out the Lot and the High Line online

Papatzul, Soho

10. Papatzul, Soho

OK. Last but not least. Papatzul. Set in lower Soho on Grand Street in NYC, this is one of my new favorite spots. Good Mexican food is sometimes hard to find in New York (at least compared to L.A. or Texas) or you have to go to an overpriced chain for some decent guacamole and enchiladas AND pay an arm and a leg for it. Papatzul is first of all charming with its creative and colorful signage outside. The interior is just as colorful and buzzing with energy when you walk in.

The chips are deliciously homemade and the salsa is super fresh (and no they aren’t free with your meal, but worth the $5 for some of the best authentic salsa you’ll have in NYC). Since I went for lunch, I ordered the Braised Chipotle and Oregano Beef soft Taquitos, topped with Queso Fresco, Chipotle Salsa and Crema – aka d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s. – and a perfect size for lunch (didn’t even need the chips but they were worth it!)

Papatzul is actually a term used for special food that the Aztecs made for their Spanish conquerors (who they thought were the Gods). Special food you’ll find here indeed, with a menu created by Chef Thierry Amezcua, a native of Coyoacan, a small borough of Mexico City. The atmosphere is fun and lively and the food is fresh, authentic and very special.

55 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013 | 212.274.8225

Check out Papatzul online


Top 10 {Things I Love} :: Aug 2011

MacBar


1. MacBar, Soho 

MacBar is a groovy and modern mac ‘n cheese take-out bar smack in the middle of Soho on Prince Street near Lafayette. They offer 12 different varieties of gourmet mac ‘n cheese combinations such as: Four Cheese with queso blanco, fontina, emmental and gouda, Mayan Chipotle with chicken Diablo, Chihuahua cheese and green onions, Mac Lobsta’, Mac ‘Shroom, Mac Quack with duck confit, fontina, caramelized onions and fines herbes and more. Who can resist a creamy, savory bowl of piping hot ooey-gooey macaroni and cheese? I know I can’t!

54 Prince Street | NYC 10012 | (212) 226-8877 |
http://macbar.net/

La Follia

2. La Follia, Gramercy 

La Follia is an upscale Italian restaurant and wine bar in Gramercy on 3rd and 19th Street. They offer delicious small plates, pasta dishes and entrees, salads, veggie sides and have an impressive wine list. My favorite small plate dish is the Roasted Beet Salad with Mint, Ricotta and Pistachios..it has a light vinaigrette dressing and is perfectly mixed with fresh mint and creamy ricotta and roasted pistachios to give it some crunch. They also have an excellent line up of Crostinis including Burrata, Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Imported Ricotta with Pesto, White Bean and Olive and more – perfectly crispy with the finest toppings – YUM. If you’re in the mood for some Salumi, try the Prosciutto Di Parma or Soppressata with a selection of cheeses, a side dish of Broccoli Rabe with garlic and chili flakes or Brussel Sprouts sautéed with crispy Prosciutto or the sauteed garlicky spinach. Rumor has it their House-Made Pappardelle with Braised Pork Ragu, Thyme and Pecorino is amazing! An intimate bar setting and outside seating make this a perfect date spot on a Friday night.

226 3rd Avenue at 19th St | NYC 10003 | (212) 477-4100 |
http://menupages.com/restaurants/la-follia/menu

Waterfront Ale House

3. Waterfront Ale House, Murray Hill 

This is one of my favorite neighborhood saloons in Murray Hill. The food is fantastic, the locals are loyal and the service and staff are great. They make their own homemade Hot Sauce (which sells for $4 a bottle at the bar) – amazing with their Spicy Texas Chili! Perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection with a bubbly layer of cheddar cheese and topped with green onions, the chunks of steak and beans make this chili a comforting dish with a cold brew on a Happy Hour kinda night. They have an impressive line up of more than 80 domestic, locally crafted and imported beers, as well as effervescent gins and “real” absinthes when you’re in the mood for a good shot of something stout on a Friday night. Don’t miss out on their BBQ either – their hot-off-the-grill Pulled Chicken and Pulled Pig sandwiches, Texas Dip Smoked Beef Brisket and hand-cut Sweet Potato Fries rock! Don’t miss the awesome live Blues Band on the first Friday or every month either.

540 2nd Avenue (Corner of 30th St.), NYC
| (212) 696-4104 |
http://www.waterfrontalehouse.com/

Prime and Beyond

4. Prime and Beyond, E. Vlg 

Prime and Beyond is a new steak place in the East Village NYC. They hand select all of their meats and dry or wet age their steaks in a humidity controlled refrigeration on premises for up to 8 weeks, giving their meat extraordinary flavor and juiciness! They also have amazing burgers, salads, and hand-cut French fries, along with a selection of side dishes including grilled veggies, potato salad, and Wagyu Salami. In the mood for a Korean twist to your meal? Try to the Bulgogi Rice Bowl or the Short Rib Stew with a side of Kimchi and Spicy Scallion salad. Amazing flavor and a nice intimate yet casual atmosphere.

90 E. 10th St, NYC | (212) 505-0033 |
http://www.primeandbeyond.com/Home.html

Ocean Grill

5. Ocean Grill, Upper West Side NYC

I have found no other spot in NYC that has fresher seafood, as well as a comfortable and relaxing environment for an outdoor cocktail and delicious sushi and seafood than Ocean Grill on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Their shrimp and lobster cocktail dishes come served on a bed of ice, fresh lemon, drawn butter and cocktail sauce – not to mention humoungous pieces of shrimp and lobster that is chilly and delicious on a hot summer day! Their sushi is also amazing – I fell in love with their version of the “California Roll” which is actually huge pieces of fresh lump crabmeat, avocado, mango and jalapeno. Great location situated across from the Museum of Natural History, so ideal for a Sunday brunch and walk in Central Park!

384 Columbus Ave (at 78th St), NYC | (212) 579-2300 |

http://www.oceangrill.com

Oficina Latina NYC

6. Oficina Latina NYC, Nolita 

The concept of this hip restaurant and bar in Soho reflects the Pan American Highway along Central Mexico and South America with its Latin Tapas menu and exotic cocktails. The interior looks like a mechanic’s garage with a small lounge area, outdoor dining area and interior dining room. Their exotic tropical drinks are all handmade, with flavors such as Orange-Ginger Margaritas, Cilantro Avocado Margaritas, Blackberry Caiphirinas and Mojitos, made with muddled fruits and spicy and sweet rims. My favorite Tapas dish is their Albondigas (Spicy Meatballs in Tomato Sauce) and their Arepas which are corn pockets filled with ham and melted cheese. They have a huge menu filled with other Latin dishes such as Ceviche, Tostones, Cuban Tortas, Croquetas filled with pan-seared crab cakes and chipotle sauce as well as slow-cooked black beans, roasted pork leg and rice and deep fried green plantains. Definitely a spot you don’t want to miss!

24 Prince Street (near Mott St), NYC | (646) 381-2555
http://oficinalatinanyc.com/

SanctuaryT

7. Sanctuary T, Soho

Not only is this a cool hip restaurant in Soho, but they sell fantastic tea-infused seasonings made out of organic teas and spices. My favorite is the Smoky Black T-dust seasoning, made of smoked tea, black peppercorns and sea salt. Their other seasonings are Tahitian Green, Chili Rooibos and Citrus White, also made of organic green, red and white teas. They also sell loose leaf drinking teas and have an awesome menu with organic Asian-inspired dishes, salads and burgers as well as duck, seafood and pasta dishes. Their cocktails are artisan-made too, of course infused with their organic teas and fresh fruits and other goodies. Can’t miss out on their fresh made Tea Sangrias either!

337B W. Broadway, NYC | (212) 941-7832 |
http://www.sanctuaryt.com/

KitchenAid Tyler Florence Event

8. KitchenAid/House Beautiful’s Kitchen of the Year event with Tyler Florence, Rockefeller Center 

Last month, KitchenAid and House Beautiful magazine created the 2011 Dream Kitchen of the Year smack in the middle of Rockefeller Center. Chock full of gorgeous KitchenAid appliances, indoor and outdoor bar and grilling spaces, and of course hosted by Tyler Florence – we were treated to delicious mini-hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and goodie bags filled with KitchenAid cooking utensils and Tyler’s new cookbook “Family Meal”.  My favorite recipes out of the cookbook are his down-home Southern specialties like Chicken-Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy, Southern-style Fish Fry Up with Big Papa’s Tartar Sauce and Fennel Sausage Hush Puppies. Makes me miss living in the Atlanta – always ready for some good old-fashioned Southern comfort food! Now that Autumn is on the horizon, I see a Southern tailgating feast coming right up!

Check out my photos from the Kitchen of the Year event here

Buy Tyler Florence’s “Family Meal” Cookbook here

Gemma

9. Gemma, Bowery 

Gemma is one of those places where you need to go to see and be seen. Connected to the beautiful Bowery Hotel, Gemma is an upscale Italian dining establishment open for lunch, brunch, dinner, cocktails and dessert. My favorite dishes are the Arancini and Polpettine (Risotto Balls and Meatballs), their Buffalo Ricotta and Pesto Crostini, and Oriechette with Broccoli Rabe and Crispy Garlic Chips sautéed in Olive Oil with Red Pepper flakes. They also have amazing wood-fired pizzas, pasta dishes, salumi and formaggi plates, and if you’re in the mood for a massive grilled Bistecca Steak or Roasted Baby Lamb Chops – well, you can get that too. Don’t forget to top off your meal with a Calzone di Nutella or and Affagato (vanilla gelato drowned in espresso) and a shot of Frangelico or Limoncello. Amazing menu and service to match – what more can I say. A NYC must-visit for Italian dining!

335 Bowery, NYC 10003 | (212) 505-9100
http://www.theboweryhotel.com/dining.php

Teqa

10. Teqa, Murray Hill

Newly opened this summer in Murray Hill, Teqa is a gorgeous tequila bar and Mexican restaurant with a gorgeous menu to accompany the space. The Frozen Hibiscus and Rose Margaritas are a beautiful thing – made with hibiscus-infused el jimador, combier, fresh lime, agave, rosewater mist and hibiscus salt. Order a pitcher (or two!) – you won’t regret this one!

For a dinner entrée, I unashamedly inhaled the Guinness Braised Short Rib Tacos that literally melted in my mouth. The tender, succulent beef is soaked in Teqa’s signature sauce, then topped with grilled corn, lime and queso fresco. The tacos are a bit small (you only get 3 of these babies for a steep $16) but the flavor explosion in your mouth is worth every bite and every penny!

447 Third Avenue, NYC 10016 | (212) 213-3223 |
http://www.teqanyc.com

Saluggi’s Pizza

Saluggis Pizza
Saluggi’s Pizza

There’s a lot of choices, almost TOO many choices for great pizza in New York City. I’ve definitely had my share of good and bad, and sometimes “so-so”, but I think I’ve found the BEST pizza in New York so far – Saluggi’s Pizza in TriBeCa.

The pepperoni, fresh basil and mozzarella wood fired pizza is probably my favorite thing on the menu. The crust is thin and perfectly crispy and golden brown. The sauce is a perfect fresh tomato sauce, not too spicy or bland. The pepperoni slices are about as big as the moon, and the fresh basil leaves and mozzarella/parmesan cheese topping are the perfect combination – I’m in love.

Saluggi’s also has a variety of Salads, Subs, Appetizers and Veggie sides – you must try the Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic and Parmesan and their Mini Meatball appetizer which is about 20 savory meatballs swimming in their delicious homemade tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmesan cheese – good enough to eat on their own with a side of crusty bread or a salad!

Located in the hip TriBeCa/cusp of Soho on Canal and Church Street, it is small but cozy and has outside seating in front. Don’t miss the best slice of pie in NYC!

View Saluggi’s Menu

Saluggi’s Brick Oven Pizza
325 Church St, New York NY 10013
212.226.7900

www.saluggis.com

Kaluystan’s Curry Leaf

Curry Leaf

Kaluystan’s Curry Leaf is one of my favorite Indian restaurants located in Murray Hill (or “Curry Hill” as we New Yorkers call it). Located on Lexington Avenue amongst a plethora of other Indian and Curry hotspots, Curry Leaf has the most delicious Chicken Tikka Masala, Biryani and other Indian dishes I’ve had since I’ve lived in New York. Owned by Kaluystan’s, the Asian and Middle Eastern superstore for spices, exotic ingredients and produce, the food has genuine ingredients and spicy flavors one would expect from an authentic Indian restaurant and they have great lunch specials for around $10 including your choice of 2 curries, salad, rice and all the trimmings. The takeout service is speedy, and the space has an intimate interior with friendly and courteous staff. My favorite dishes are the Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo and Shrimp Biryani, and  their Meat and Vegetable Samosas are crispy and flavorful.

Dine In, Takeout and Delivery available. And you must check out the Kaluystan’s store located up the street on Lexington or order online at Kaluystans.com. Read the full review on NY Magazine’s website.

99 Lexington Ave  New York, NY 10016 |  (212) 725-5558

http://www.curryleafnyc.com/

Frites ‘N Meats

Meats & Frites

Food Trucks have become the hottest culinary trend besides
 Greenmarkets, Organic foods and Independent Artisan Gourmet goods, especially 
in NYC and LA. Because I live here in New York, I am lucky to have
 a great selection to discover when I need a quick lunch and don’t 
have a lot of time.

One of my latest discoveries was Frites & Meats. They have delicious Angus Beef Burgers, Steak Sandwiches, homemade 
Belgian fries with a variety of delicious sauces to accompany. Their breads
 are supplied by Balthazar, their meats from a local NYC butcher and their 
cheeses are supplied by the infamous Murray’s Cheese Shop.

Angus Burger with Gruyere on Potato-Onion Roll

I ordered the Angus Beef Burger on a Potato-Onion Roll, with Gruyere cheese and fresh field greens. The burger was fresh cooked and delicious and served in less than 5 minutes flat!

Belgian Fries

The hot Belgian Fries were served in a cone with a baby fork and a Dum Dum lollipop! (Quirky little touch) I also ordered a side of the Spicy Aioli for dipping which complemented the hot, crispy fries perfectly! Delicious.

www.fritesnmeats.com

La Delice Pastry Shop

La Delice

Aaah, Petit Fours – my latest discovery from a delightful little
 pastry shop in Murray Hill on 3rd Ave in NYC. I have passed by this
 shop a million times on my walk to and from work and have been 
eyeing these beauties with anticipation for the past few months. I’m 
normally not a person with a sweet tooth, but the other night something 
happened and the sweet tooth fairy mesmerized me and led me in to 
finally covet one of these gorgeous French pastries.

Petit Fours

These lovely mini pastries are small rectangular mini-cakes that originated in France, are layered with a cream filling and then covered in a sugar glaze frosting. The best part is, they are small enough to eat one without feeling guilty, and they come in a variety of flavors such as Cherry, Pineapple, Rum, Mocha, Chocolate, Vanilla, Lemon and the list goes on. They are heavenly light, and almost too cute to eat! Definitely stop by La Delice next time you are in New York City and try out these gorgeous little gems along with their other goodies – you won’t get past the windows walking by either.

372 3rd Ave., NYC 10016  |  212.532.4409

http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-delice-pastry-shop-new-york

Tim Tams

Tim Tams

Aaahh. Tim Tams. A chocoholic’s dream! I originally discovered these crispy, chocolately treats when I lived overseas in Melbourne, Australia. Originally made by Australian biscuit company, Arnotts, they have now been acquired by Pepperidge Farms and available in the U.S. Last weekend I spotted them at Gristedes in NYC on 3rd Ave and 32nd St – my heart flinched and I got butterflies at the sight of them!

Tim Tams are not just an ordinary cookie – they are a chocolate explosion in your mouth with a balance of two crispy malted wafer biscuits with a layer of chocolate creme in between them, and then entirely dipped in sweet milk chocolate. They do come in other flavors – caramel, white chocolate, black forest, honeycomb, mint and some versions are double dipped and also come covered in dark chocolate, my absolute favorite!

You can find them at any specialty food store that sells imported items (I think Zabars on the UWS carries them but if you go there and can’t find them they have delicious chocolate covered graham crackers which are available on their online store) – if you can get your grubby hands on a package of these tasty treats, I highly recommend it..it’s worth the hunt! (And make sure to eat them with a cup of hot chocolate or a cup of tea, like the Aussies do – this is referred to as the Tim Tam Slam as noted in Wikipedia – instructions on how to eat them are spelled out here)

These yummy things are so popular they even have their own Facebook fan page..Become a Tim Tam fan here: http://www.facebook.com/PFTimTam

Eataly

eataly

Mario Batali and Lidia Bastanovic’s gourmet palace, Eataly, is an Italian gastronomic wonderland, full of fresh and imported cheeses, teas, chocolates, seafood, produce, wines, cooking tools, with 5 restaurants to enjoy their delicious homemade food. Located in the Flatiron District in New York City. Become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/EatalyNYC

200 5th Ave. , NYC 10010  |  212.229.2560

www.eataly.com

Union Square Green Market, NYC

Union Square Greenmarket

Located in between 14th St and 17th St in Union Square NYC, this is one of the most amazing fresh markets in New York City. Open on  Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays featuring fresh produce, meats, cheeses and specialty food items from local and Upstate New York farmers and artisanal food producers. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the Empanada ladies, selling fresh homemade Spanish Empanadas (pork or chicken) with fresh green salsa and chihuahua cheese out of their portable cooler case on wheels. To die for!

http://www.grownyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket

Spices and Tease

spices

Meet Bruno and Francois from Spices and Tease – the Italian-French native exotic tea and spice vendor duo in Madison Square Park, New York City. Animated and full of life, cousins Bruno and Francois greet each customer with a smile and a warm invitation to enter their tent and experience the delightful sights and smells of their euphoric selection of hand-crafted and fragrant top-of-the-line tea, herbs and spice concoctions that they have imported from Europe and around the world. Try the Smoked Paprika, the Provence French Sea Salt, and the Salad Spice Mix – fresh, fantastic and flavorful! These guys are truly spicing things up in the New York City food scene. If you’re ever in New York City, you can find them at the local street markets and they now have a store within Grand Central Market.

www.spicesandtease.com and Twitter @spicesandtease

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