Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eight at Eight

Last night I met some friends at Von Bar for happy hour. We had a reservation at a tiny tapas restaurant for dinner, but had to change it at the last minute as more people kept joining and the restaurant could not accomodate the large group. Only in nyc would it be next to impossible to make a reservation for 8 at 8. After about 10 phone calls I finally landed a reservation at Barbossa. This is a cute little Brazilian place in Soho. We were seated at a big table in the back nook behind the tiny kitchen which separates the front and back of the restaurant. It has a really chill ambiance. I highly recommend going and drinking the sangria. We ordered appetizers and entrees to split amongst the table and everything was so tasty. Cheese rolls, sauteed calamari, fennel sausage. Steak and polenta, spicy shrimp and avocado curry, more sausage. Try it all. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


After an impossibly long day, we came home tonight to find a surprise in our mailbox. Next to my friend Rory's wedding invitation lay the newest edition of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. A gift from my mother, it's her latest (and most obvious) attempt to try and turn me into the domestic goddess she believes I was born to be. In the three months since I've moved in with my boyfriend, we've received china patterns to review, two Cook's Illustrated books and countless handwritten notes & tips for how to turn last night's dinner into today's lunch.

I can polish silver. I can set a lovely table-scape. But I cannot, cannot(!) seem to get the whole dinner thing down. Call it lazy. Call it undiagnosed hypoglycemia! Whatever it is, once the hunger's set in, it's all over.

So in an attempt to take back my life, I'm pledging to try at least one recipe from the newest Everyday Food in preparation for next week's post . It's going to get ugly, but as the old proverb goes 'that which does not kill us makes us a better chef'.

Stay tuned!


Tapas y mas brunch

While Zoe was having her huevos rancheros at Esperanto, I was devouring the same dish at Pipa, just down the street from our apartment. Pipa is tapas for lunch and dinner, but serves an amazing brunch, although with no bells or whistles to speak of. Coffee and mimosa's not included. The huevos rancheros were the best I have ever had, with creamy black beans spread on a puffed up fried tortilla lying in sweet yet spicy tomato sauce. My only problem was that I woke up early to go jogging with the intention of rewarding myself with a satisfying brunch, and though it was delicious, too small. Next time I will definitely order sides, or the amazing looking calamari appetizer that I saw pass by...
Pipa's decor happens to be done by my favorite home store, ABC Carpet and Home, and there are hundreds of chandeliers dripping from the ceiling- with price tags telling you to dream on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brunch Days

Brunch is a sacred thing in NYC and I certainly take part in worshiping it. Every weekend you can walk around the city and see lines outside all of the restaurants. Big groups, small groups. Old and young. Brunch is a beautiful thing. It brings people together. However, as is true for most wonderful things, there is a flip side. It is easy to down FIVE mimosa's at brunch and then realize you are $50 in the hole. How are you to financially keep up!

Don't you worry fellow foodies. I have a solution! My friend Sarah moved to the East Village recently and was dying to try Esperanto, a Brazilian restaurant on the corner of 9th St. and Ave C. I begrudgingly said yes as my bank account is soon to be in the hole. Imagine my surprise when I get there and the sign outside proclaims that brunch in $9.99, including coffee, an alcoholic beverage, and an entree. Woohoo!

On top of being affordable, the whole thing was delicious. I had the huevos rancheros, a staple of mine at brunch, and it was the perfect size and crunch. The entire table of people agreed that the home fries were some of the best they had ever had! Something in that seasoning was just divine. Below is a photo of the eggs benedict and you can see the yummy home fries.

via Flickr

So, moral of the story is, check this place out. The food won't suffer with the affordable price. Stay tuned next week for a birthday report. That's right, I'm turning 26 in 6 we come late 20s!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Once you go black, you never go back

I’ve got one word for you. Actually one letter, even: Ñ. Pronounced en-ye, this Soho wine/tapas bar is small, dark and sexy. Not to mention mysterious—there is no website, no photos of it to be found, and its not listed on And it turns out the small-plates menu is equally as intriguing.

I went for the first time last night with two of my besties and laughed as they seated us in an exclusive alcove that would be great for date-night, but not a catch-up session with the girls. So we opted for a seat at the bar, where the single girl of our trio could scope out the guys.

We ordered 6 or 7 small dishes, from pan con tomate to cheese plates to octopus. Everything we ordered was delicious, but for me, the star of the evening was the Black Pearls—tender meatballs doused in a squid ink sauce, complimented with a few pieces of calamari on the plate.

Upon first inspection, it doesn’t look all that appetizing, in fact it looks downright scary. Like a culinary tar pit or something. But the black ink sauce gives the meatballs a certain “smoky” flavor that every meatball I’ve had up until now has lacked.

It was unique and different, but at the same time, made complete sense once you tasted it. Like this epiphany of why aren’t ALL meatballs served in ink sauce?! The pairing is a perfect combination, but be warned--I just don’t know if I’ll ever be satisfied with ordinary meatballs again.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shrimps, subs and snacks

This week I revisited one of my fav restaurants, Gemma, in the Bowery Hotel, and discovered that I actually do like zucchini- when done right, as their taglioni with shrimp in a light sauce with fresh tomatoes was. I've been wanting this meal again ever since.
Defonte's is around the corner which is scary for my scale considering how much I love their stacked thinly sliced fried eggplant subs. Friday I tried the breakfast sandwich which is basically a tortilla espanola with with ham, cheese and fried eggplant piled on a sub. I know!! It sounds crazy but was delicious. And large enough for me to share...which I did of course...

Finally, we get to my favorite snack- Stacy's pita chips and hummus. I go through bags and tubs of this, alternating flavors as the mood strikes. Right now I'm on a multigrain/ garlic addiction kick. Yummmm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brunch, Bed, Bath and Beyond

I'm a little tardy for this posting party, but who's keeping track (besides the always punctual Monday blogger! Kidding, Zoe!)? Anyways, I had a surprisingly domestic Saturday afternoon with my husband, complete with trips to Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond. Cheesy, I know, but it was completely necessary. But before the errands began, we partook in my favorite weekend pastime: BRUNCH.

I couldn't make up my mind on where to go and was really looking for outdoor seating on this gorgeous New York summer day. But when we wandered by Northern Spy Food Co., one of the latest restaurant additions to the East Village, I wanted to try it after hearing so many great things about the food. And so we did.

The verdict? The food is definitely tasty and the brunch cocktails are ahhhmaaazing and refreshing.

I mean, who wouldn't want wheat beer and lemon soda shandy or a Fuji apple mimosa?!

For our entree's, we got the Slow-whisked scrambled eggs (with sausage and carmelized shallot flatbreat) and the Griddled ham and eggs.

The latter of the two might have LOOKED more appetizing (and the ham was predictably delicious), but for anyone who loves soft scrambled eggs, Northern Spy does it amazingly well. My only regret was not ordering the griddled cornbread with sweet onion yogurt as an appetizer. When it landed on the table next to us, I had a serious case of food envy. Oh well, it gives me a reason to come back. Who wants to come with me?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Restaurant Tour

This week I was fortunate enough to have family in town visiting me. My aunt has been here several times and loves the culinary adventures I take her on. This time she was accompanied by two of my girl cousins - 13 and 17. They are all native Texans, and this was the girls' first time on an airplane. Needless to say it was a bit of a culture shock. Keeping this in mind, I had to be more selective in choosing the restaurants.. I was trying to find a balance between something they would consider "normal food" and also getting them to try something new. I am going to be one of those parents who forces my children to try EVERYTHING, no matter the struggle.

So, here's the restaurant run down.

Monday for lunch we were meeting in midtown before they went shopping on 5th Ave. I wanted to take them to get something simple, but thought the concourse at Rock Center would be too overwhelming for them. So, I sucked up my pride and met them at the Heartland Brewery on 51st Street. The food isn't bad, per say, but the service definitely is. I think it lives up to it's stigma of an overpriced tourist trap. The 13 yr old ordered a chicken caesar salad and the 17yr old ordered a philly cheesesteak. We split the buffalo spring rolls because they were so intrigued, and they liked them.

Monday for dinner I chose In Vino. This is an intimate Italian restaurant in the East Village (shout out to Friday blogger and her husband, one of their go to date night spots). I love the cavernous structure and dim lighting. The meal began with me ordering the following appetizers for the table: Prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, polpette in ragu sauce, and a cheese plate. There were mixed reactions to these. The 13 yr old decided she liked 'fake' mozzarella, like string cheese, better than fresh buffalo mozzarella (gasp!). She also thought the cheeses on the plate smelled bad. My aunt on the other hand experienced nirvana. She had the waitress write down all the cheeses so she could have them again in Texas. She also discovered that she liked marinara sauce for the first time! She raved about the marinara sauce for the next few days.

Tuesday I wanted to show them some New York thin crust pizza. I chose Pulino's because I had been dying to go back. Not to mention Keith McNally is my favorite person. We got the burrata appetizer - my favorite cheese. Then we split two pizzas - Salami Piccante (house made pepperoni and olives) and Pesto with pinenuts. My aunt and I found them both to be delicious, but the girls seemed unimpressed yet again.

Wednesday we went to China Grill. This was the girls favorite meal which made me really happy as it was new food to them. The Crackling Calamari Salad is my all time favorite salad ever. Love love love it! If you have not had it, run fast and eat it immediately! We also got Sashimi Tempura, which is not the most attractive dish. When it came out to the table I was thinking oops, they're not going to touch this. They had never had sashimi, or any type of sushi. At first they were shy, but then I saw them sneaking more pieces onto their plate. Success!

I had a great time with my family, and can't wait for them to come back. I bought my aunt the Frank Spuntino Kitchen Companion cookbook as a thank you gift for taking me out to all of these meals. She was thrilled.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lowest common denominator.

First things first! I can't even begin to tell you how inspired I've been by the lovely ladies who make up the Tacos to Truffles runnin' crew. With each new post I've found myself humbled, inspired and more importantly starving. Individuals to their very core, each possesses a similar ability to focus on the bigger picture without losing sight of the delicious details that truly make a meal. And as I've sat in awe of my darling friends over these past few weeks, I've come to realize that this is one gift I almost certainly do not share.

I'll be the first to tell you that I don't have the most refined of palletes. Born the child of food snobs, I spent the better half of my formative years rebelling against almost anything they put in front of me. I'm ashamed to say that at the tender age of 13, on the front leg of a month-long European getaway, I turned down a trip to the newly opened Balthazar. All I needed to know about food was that it tasted better when fried.

While most of me would kick my 13 year-old self today, my penchant for crap food remains intact. I am by no means a food snob. If it comes deep-fried and dyed I'm happy. Afterall, I'm the girl who all too recently spent an evening wrapped in a mink coat while chowing down on some buffalo wings. Oh and I was in bed at time! And worse yet, I'm not the tiniest bit embarassed by it.

I use food just like I use everything else in my tiny world; strictly for my pleasure. Maybe I watched Auntie Mame a few too many times as a kid, but as far as I'm concerned, life is to be enjoyed. So if it's 10am and I have a hankering for chicken fingers, guess what's for breakfast?

It's getting late but before I go I'd like to make a promise to each of you. I vow that on each and every humpday I will lead you on a quest to find New York City's guiltiest of pleasures. Since I'm useless to you in practically every other way, I hope you'll have me as I am. Slow-cooked, deep-fried and most decidedly smothered with cheese.

Love you mean it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nina’s Argentinian vs. Motorino

I don’t ever tire of pizza because there are so many different styles in NY, as Katie and Jessica wrote about recently. We're spoiled. I’ll even admit I used to eat the deep dish at UNO’s before the calorie posting started- don’t look!! This week, though, it was classic Neapolitan style from Motorino in Williamsburg, and an Argentinian spin from Nina’s Argentinian Pizza on the Upper East Side.

Round 1: Toppings -
I ordered the special of the night at Motrorino with slabs of fresh mozzarella, salty black olives, spicy soprassata, and cremini mushrooms, and while the tastes went together perfectly, the pizza was 35% crust so there weren’t nearly enough. At Nina’s the recommended pies were the Piola, with ham and parmesan, or Con Chorizo, so we went with the Piola and a Classic. I have to give Motorino this round; I’m not sold on the ham/pizza combo, though I devoured the Classic.

Round 2: Dough/crust -
At Motorino, you get bites of great charred crust and pockets of air, making it chewy and light but doughy enough to soak up the flavors of the toppings. Nina’s is pillowy, and baked so that cheese and sauce reach to the edge and the crust is crisp but never overdone. Tie.

Round 3: Overlooked condiments -
Nina’s gives you bread along with a dipping sauce of soft eggplant soaked in olive oil that I want spread on everything. I neeeed this recipe. Motorino has a spicy crushed red pepper oil to dip all that extra crust in, and their regular olive oil is excellent quality on its own, but I’m giving this one to Nina’s.

Okay, so that was a tie, but all the better reason for you to check both out!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food, Work & Calories

I'm at work right now. And I'm hungry.

Every day I dutifully eat my Kashi for breakfast and drink my coffee. I either eat my lean cuisine and baby carrots or hop down to one of the healthy lunch options, like hale & hearty,  within a few blocks of work. Usually, I control any hunger with an afternoon cup of decaf and some almonds, but today it seems unbearable. I already decided that I am not going to the gym. I have a paper due this week for school and I need to get home and get at it. This leaves no room for error.

On the days that I don't go to the gym I find myself struggling to eat within my calorie boundaries. On days when I do go to the gym it seems difficult to stay in control AND eat ALL my calories. I could just go splurge on a piece of cake or some mac n' cheese, but I don't want to do that, no matter how tempting. No need to eat it without a reason, right?

I spend a lot of calories on liquor every week, but the past two weeks, with the help of fellow blogger Lynsey,  I have made a conscious decision to cut most of it out (at least during week nights). It's been pretty revelatory to see how many calories are left over when I don't have that extra beer! I mean, WHO struggles with needing more calories in their day...apparently now I do.

Anyways, I realize this might not be in the exact spirit of the blog, but struggling with food is just as important as talking about good food to me. Believe me, I have no problem eating the good stuff when out with friends or celebrating, but there are all those days in between that are worth mentioning. And are a lot harder...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fashionable food

The funny thing about fashion events (have I mentioned I'm a fashion editor by day?) is that there are almost always hors d'oeuvres served. I might be the only one eating them, but I'm ok with that. And I've gotten quite good at strategically putting myself in the direct path of the food servers, so as to not miss a bite of anything offered.

So Tuesday I had several events to go to and had dinner along the way--who said dinner had to be one big meal?

The evening started with mini cheese burgers and champagne at the Guess eyewear party. Not the usual food and beverage pairing, but it hit the spot.

A miniature cheese pizza with arugula passed by me and I couldn't resist nabbing one of those next. It was a bit too much greenery for such a small sampling, but hey, they can't all be perfect.

Next stop: The Seven for All Mankind holiday preview. Next bite: curry chicken salad sandwich sprinkled with paprika.

The trick is to eat these quick (thank god they are small) because you are juggling eating, drinking and snapping pics of the entire clothing collection. But I paused to eye the melted parmesean on tiny crostinis and these steak bites. Yum!

And then I couldn't resist the ginormous chicken sates that circled. That and the cheese platter sent me over the edge.

By the time I got to Ivanka Trump's party for her debut shoe collection, I was stuffed. But when you are having cocktails with Donald Trump, who cares about the food anyways?!

That's all for now from this Friday Foodie. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get your Moto runnin.

OK I'm just going to come out with it. Humpday girl here on a day that is most definitely NOT Wednesday. But in the immortal words of Stephen Colbert/Chuck Noblet, "It doesn't matter when you get here, just what time".

Since nothing says congratulations for busting out of your mother's uterus better than a candlelit dinner underneath the JMZ, my boyfriend and I headed to Moto last Friday to celebrate the start of his birthday weekend. We arrived in the middle of a bluesy jazz trio's nightly performance and were seated just next to the door. And when I say just next I mean outside. When I wasn't staring at subway riders on the platform above me, I was fixated on a tween boy who kept trying to inch away from the violin player hovering above him. I think we can all agree that nothing's worse than a 40 year-old man shaking violin sweat above you as you try to eat your salmon. I felt for the little dude!

I ordered the rotisserie pork ribs and while they were definitely interesting something about them just didn't make sense. I kept expecting chicken with every bite and after awhile I think my taste-buds just sort of gave up. The salmon special was a big hit at our table as was the chilled chocolate pudding. But more than anything, the spirit of Moto is what made the meal. With its sky-high ceilings, skillfully hung lighting and antique mirrors, it's easy to forget that you're resting in the shadow of the JMZ line. A former motorcycle shop, Moto lacks the sort of pretension Williamsburg is known for. All in all, a diamond in the rough.


*Photo courtesy of


As I mentioned, last week I went to Momofuku Ko, one of David Chang's empire. In order to dine at this 12 seat restaurant, you have to endure a tedius reservation process. Reservations have to be made on their website, exactly 7 days in advance, at exactly 10:00:00am. There are two staggered eating times every night, and all seats are booked by 10:01am. Our reservation was for 9:10pm, the first seating time in the second seating. (if that makes sense).

The fun of Momfuku is that you have no idea what you are going to be eating, you just know it's going to be the best thing you've ever tasted. There is no menu and no set number of courses. You sit at a wooden bar, watching the chefs create everything right in front of you. As soon as each dish is prepared, they place it in front of you and explain each ingredient and where it was from.

The dish that sticks out in my mind the most is the shaved foie gras on lychee and reisling jelly. By looks alone, you could probably never guess what it is. It kind of looked like very fine flakes of chocolate fluffed up in a bowl. As soon as you put a spoonful in your mouth, it melts immediately. If you touch it, it also melts together. It tastes as delicate as it looks.

Shaved foie gras and lychee/Riesling jelly courtesy of scaredy kat's flickr stream

Other things that stick out are:

Honey biscuit - and being from the south you know it had to be damn good to be the best I've ever had!

Soft boiled egg with caviar, sautéed onion and homemade fingerling potato chips. When you cut into the soft boiled egg the yolk spreads over the other pairings and perfects the flavor.

Egg course courtesy of scaredy kat's flickr stream

Another thing I loved about the experience is that while the chefs are meticulously designing each artful dish, they are also experimenting with the ingredients to perfect future meals. It was interesting to talk to the chefs about their innovations and inspiration.

Albeit one of the most expensive meals I've eaten, it was worth every penny.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dallas Delicacies

I am very much not from Dallas (Houston born and raised) but ended up in college a short drive from it around the same time I started actually trying foods outside of my Tex-Mex/ Chick- fil-a/ pretzel high school diet. This was a phase we went through where we ate soft pretzels, honey mustard and Nacho Cheese Doritos for lunch daily…there’s the school cafeteria for you. I was back recently for a wedding and sampled a few of my old favorites, and made a new one.
The best Lebanese restaurant I have ever eaten at is actually in Dallas, called Ali Baba. Somehow in a place as diverse as New York I’ve never found another as good. The zataar pie is fluffy, hot pita bread spread with an herb mix with olive oil oozing off the sides and sesame seeds sprinkled across it.

Café Brazil has several locations there and serves everything under the sun which is great when you want breakfast in the middle of the day, as I always do. I tried the Migas; scrambled eggs, tortilla strips, chorizo and cheese…so hearty and filling but not the prettiest dish to look at!

Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen surprised me as an excellent Texas BBQ and home cooking restaurant that was all about local farms, dairies, and wineries. I love that Texas has embraced this movement, and the smoky cheddar cheese grits with big kernels of fresh corn will make anyone a believer.

But you didn't think I'd actually leave Texas without some Tex-Mex did you? Thank goodness the rehearsal dinner was at Mattito's where chicken fajitas, refried beans and queso quenched my cravings.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Morning Coffee

Happy Monday everyone! I woke up with a little bit of a cold this morning so let's just say it was rough. I also canceled a date with this guy last night and was feeling kind of crappy about it. Let's not get in the habit of me saying the word date or anything. This was a rare occasion, but it just added to the already difficult morning.  And I'm usually such an earlybird so when I say rough morning chances are I mean it. There is only one cure for these mornings and that is coffee.

Generally I try to drink the crappy coffee that is provided at work, but today I needed something extra. I'm just going to let you in on a little midtown Manhattan secret. There is a place called the ING Cafe on 58th and 2nd ave. Even though it is close to where I live I was always a little hesitant to go in because it's owned by ING the financial firm. But one day my curiosity got the best of me and I walked in. A little starstruck and confused, I was greeted by the super friendly staff who let me know that they carry all Peet's coffee products. Peets! I was in heaven. One coffee for $1.50 later and I was ready for my full week of work...Below you can see a photo of the futuristic decor and one of their faithful employees I snapped with my phone this morning. There isn't too much ambiance with ING being advertised all over the store, but you still can't beat good, cheap coffee without the line of Starbucks. It's my go-to place!

In the summer time the work week is so much harder to get through. Unless it's a scorcher, and we've had quite a few of these this year, I just want to get outside and stay there. Unfortunately, there is zero visible sunlight from my cube. Most days, when it's nice out, I walk the 20 or so blocks to work with my Peet's iced coffee in hand and I swear the day is a teeeeny bit easier.