May your day be filled with lots of delicious food! Thanksgiving and Chanukah will never overlap again in our lifetime, so eat it up!
If you have been reading this blog long enough, you know that we are unabashed Top Chef sluts. We love watching the show and love exploring the restaurants the “Cheftestants” open and being able to eat the food that looks so amazing on the screen.
For just 2 weekends (November 15th, 16th, 22nd & 23rd), Chef Jeffrey McInnis (from Top Chef Season 5) and Chef Janine Booth (from the current Season 11), were taking over a new Brooklyn restaurant to test their menu and some food concepts as a pop-up. The tickets were $65 per person and included 9 courses and beer pairings. Seemed like a deal to us!
This pop-up was a sneak peak into a new restaurant from Chef McInnis (who was previously at Yardbird in Miami, Florida) and Chef Booth before they open Root & Bone in Alphabet City in 2014 (not my favorite neighborhood… but what can you do).
We went to The Brew Inn in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (surprisingly easy to get to even though we had to take the subway to Queens to catch the G train to Greenpoint). We really liked the aesthetic inside with a mix of wood, brick, and mirrors (though the bathroom had an awkwardly small sink).
The menu for the evening sounded great, though there were some concerns with my peppers (capsaicin) allergy. But Chef McInnis plopped himself next to me on the bench and went through it line by line and promised he would take care of me.
We started with a really great hard cider from McKenzie’s. Usually I am not a hard cider fan. I absolutely LOVE apple cider and I always find myself wanting hard cider to taste more like real cider with a kick. McKenzie’s was perfect. Every bit as delicious as regular cider but with a nice tang and faint booziness. Best hard cider I’ve ever had. I’ll be seeking this out!
Our first course was a sampling of bites (see photo below):
Top left: “Waldorf Salad” with sheets of crisp apple, NY grapes, buttermilk, blue cab, and celery. It was like a tiny wrap with a bite of crab inside. It was good but a bit watery. Not overly memorable.
Just to the right of that was the hot fresh baked buttermilk biscuits with sea cured foie gras and tomato jam. I couldn’t have the tomato jam due to a bit of paprika, so chef brought me my own version with rhubarb jam (more on that in a moment).
The sandwiches below that on the board were grilled lamb ham n’ pimento cheese sandwiches with pickles. Sadly, this was something they couldn’t edit to make it peppers-free. I asked the table to tell me it was awful, but the truth was it was the one most picked as their favorite. (Damn)
Below that and to the left were grilled pierogi with pickled cabbage and dijonaise. I loved the grilled char on these. Very flavorful and the pickled cabbage underneath them was fantastic.
And then bottom right were deviled eggs with American sturgeon caviar. Usually I don’t see the point in deviled eggs, but these were fantastic. Packed with flavor (even the ones I had with the paprika removed).
We LOVED the board as a whole, and even though I’m pretty sure it was just a way of sampling a few different appetizer options, we loved it as a sampler and I hope they keep this concept on the menu for the restaurant.
My biscuits with foie and rhubarb were superb. The biscuits were perfectly crisp yet soft and the foie was cooked well and paired so nicely with the sweet of the rhubarb. A teeny bit of saltiness made the entire bite pop in my mouth.
We then had a House Made Chartcuterie Board with spicy goat “slim jim” (I couldn’t have it), smoked duck ham (flavorful but forgettable), wild boar head terrine (really enjoyed this on the bread), smoked tasso lamb ham (couldn’t have it), polish sausage (kielbasa… very, very tasty and one of the best versions of kielbasa I’ve tried), pickled vegetables (pickled unbelievably well with a touch of sweet and sour), mustards, and marinated cheddar jar with grilled bread.
The jar of marinated cheddar cubes was great. I loved the flavor and the herbs that really complimented the cheese. Mike was a bit put off that this was in cubes since he thought it cheapened the food. I had no issue with it.
The chefs came out and spoke to us a few times. They were so excited to be there and to be sharing the food with us. It was a really fun experience to be there to try the food and talk with them as they get ready to take on Manhattan.
The first main came out and it was shrimp ‘n’ grits. They were beer crusted red shrimp with tobasco spiced ham (I had a different version without the tobasco), and baby onion over tone ground grits.
When the chefs came out, they told us that they were serving the deep fried heads of the shrimp as well. Now I’ve sucked shrimp heads before, but eating the head whole was a new experience. Sure enough, it was delicious and crispy enough to eat without a problem.
The dish was a bit mixed. The grits were some of the best grits I’ve ever had. If all grits tasted like that, I would understand why people love them so much. The shrimp had a delicate flavor and the sauce was very good, however, the ham (both my version and, according to my tablemates, everyone else’s) was VERY salty and it overpowered the dish. I love salt, but this was too much even for me. Shame. The dish would have been excellent had not been for the saltiness.
Our beer adventure continued (we wound up having 5 drinks in all) including an ale from Queen’s Brewery.
Our final entree was “Root & Bone’s Signature Meatloaf” and it was described as “slow beer braised Australian lamb shanks, caramelized onion, minted celery root & parsnip puree, with carrot BBQ sauce.” (I had to have an alternate sauce)
At first, we were confused. Was this 2 dishes? A meatloaf and a lamb shank.
What wound up coming out was very surprising: a “loaf” made from lamb shank. It was as if they made the lamb, pulled it apart, and then assembled it into a loaf which was seared. It was absolutely f*cking fantastic. The sear on the outside gave it an ever so slight char and crisp with an incredibly flavorful lamb. The puree combined with mint was so inspired, and when you ate it all together, it took each individual component to a new level. One of my favorite dishes of all time. When the restaurant opens, I will get this again. I loved it.
At this point I realized there was some activity outside. They were assembling dessert in the little side yard outside.
Dessert was carrot cake with carrot cream cheese emulsion, walnut brittle, and cream cheese sorbet. I absolutely loved the sauce, the sorbet, and the walnut brittle. (Especially the walnut brittle) But the cake… it was ehhh… A bit too dry, not enough flavor. I tried to saturate it in the sorbet but I wound up eating the sorbet with the sauce and the brittle and leaving the cake behind.
At the end of the night, we were asked to fill out comment cards, which we all did happily. Everyone was buzzing about the food around us, and all 4 of us had a great meal. As for favorite, the sandwich got a big vote from our table (damn x 2) but my favorite was the lamb meatloaf. Sooooo good.
At the end of the night, the chefs were saying goodnight to everyone and were kind enough to take photos. I thanked them for a great meal and for taking such great care of me with my allergy (it really was above and beyond and I didn’t feel even slightly embarrassed for the menu edits, which is a common feeling for me since many places aren’t very kind nor considerate about allergies).
We chatted with Chef Booth for a bit and she was so incredibly sweet. (People that good looking and that talented are typically not nearly that nice). She was so excited to send us home with our gift bag of tabasco and pepper jelly (womp wahhhh). It was sweet to have something to take home, however.
This was a truly wonderful experience. Feeling like we had an “insiders” look and being able to try such great food made for a great night. I cannot wait for the restaurant to open next year and I hope these chefs have great success.
Broadway Bites opened earlier this month, with pop-up restaurants in Greeley Square, right near Herald Square/Macy’s and the Manhattan Mall). It’s just like Madison Square Eats (which just closed down a few weeks ago) and from the same team at UrbanSpace.
There are a lot of vendors (full list here), and we went with some friends to try a few and I went back on a few days (since it’s so close to my office… dangerous).
I first went with Red Hook Lobster Pound and tried the Lobster Roll “Maine Style.” Maine Style to them meant with a lemon mayo (though it also had some paprika or Old Bay on it, which was an issue for me since I’m allergic, but I scraped it off and made it work). This was just okay. The lobster wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked, but I AM super spoiled.
I also tried the lobster macaroni and cheese from there, which was very good. The lobster was more flavorful in there and the pasta was nice and cheesy without being soupy. They took a torch to crisp up the top, but it felt more for show than for taste. It was barely scorched when I opened it up, and I would have preferred much more, but it was still quite tasty.
Mike went with a brisket sandwich from Mayhem & Stout. He said it was tasty but it was served a bit cold.
One of our friends stopped at Mrs Dorsey’s Kitchen for a smoked gouda grilled cheese sandwich. She enjoyed it, but I was surprised to see that the cheese was hardly melted at all. A grilled cheese sandwich is not merely cheese on toasted bread. It must be melty!
Her take: “Tasty ingredients in the grilled cheese (good cheese, good crispy bread), but it wasn’t melty at all. All in all, just an average grilled cheese, I’d say…”
And our other friend went with the veggie meatballs from Mighty Balls. His feedback: “I’d say the balls themselves could have used a bit more taste and crust. The bread made up for the crunch, but it was a bit too mushy in texture. A bit more spring in the bite would have been welcomed. The jalapeño jelly though was delicious. Would like to try it separately. I believe they sell it in jars. Could see it being great on other sandwiches, and even lamb.”
I don’t know if any of us were overly impressed, and there seemed to be a heating problem across the board. But it’s a nice way to try some restaurants without having to travel too far and it’s great to go as a group so there is something for everyone. We happened to go on a very warm November day, so most of the hot food was not overly appealing to me. I went back a few days later when it was quite chilly and I was more in the mood for hot food.
I chose a butternut squash and pine nut arancini (fried rice ball) from Arancini Bros.
It had a great crisp and wasn’t at all greasy (a problem I sometimes have with arnacini). The rice was perfectly al dente and there was a mild cheesiness in combination with the squash and pine nut flavors. A really great dish, and could probably be a meal in itself.
But I also went in search of vegetables. You know… to be healthy. I didn’t find much. But I did find a zucchini and mozz sandwich from Cannibal (where I previously had a great pig’s head). Zucchini counts as a vegetable right? Even when on toasted bread with cheese? Say yes…
Back to the sandwich. I unwrapped it and was immediately displeased. I like the idea of wrapping in brown paper, but it always shows just how greasy it is. And I was trying to tell myself that this was healthy!
I opened it up and noticed that while the pesto and mozzarella looked good, I was surprised at the skimpy amount of zucchini. Two thin slices on the entire thing? Lame!
But holy hell. This was DELICIOUS. Super duper ooper delicious.
The bread and cheese and pesto and zucchini mixed together into something that didn’t seem feasible by the sum of its parts. I guess this was the power of damn good ingredients.
I would definitely stop by before it closes up at the end of November. It was also lovely that there were very short lines across the board every time I went!
The last few years it has been on a pier near 14th Street, but this year it moved to Piers 92/94 at 55th Street. We were a bit worried because it has always been nicely organized in the past and you never know what might change. Turns out, the organization was definitely more lacking this year than in years past.
You used to come through a park before going to the Grand Tasting, where you would get your swag bag (some years) but always got to grab a cup/bottle of Illy coffee (a reoccurring sponsor) to wait with on line. This year, it was just the line.
We got the Fast Pass which meant we were the line that went in first. We were inside the building by 12:10 (start time was noon) but then the cluster started.
They give you a bracelet to show you turned in your ticket and are legal to drink, and it comes with a drink and swag bag ticket. The problem was, you enter right into that table and there is really no way to get there in an organized fashion. Everyone was just en mass to get everything and then once they got it, they couldn’t get out through the crowd. Last year, you walked down the hallway and got your stuff on the way in, so it all flowed with the foot traffic. This year, not so much.
But once we were inside, it was smooth sailing.
When I looked at the map from Zagat that came out this past week, I was worried. It looked like many fewer tables than years prior. But the space was actually a bit more spread out and I think the ceilings were higher and the skylights were new, giving it a bit of a nicer feel.
As we have found to be the best plan, we beelined for the very back of the pier and then worked our way forward. This allows us some time before the masses get too thick and we have the back of the area pretty much to ourselves.
Throughout the pier, they have multiple sections with sampling and demonstrations. The main demo area was right in the middle with a cute picket fence around it.
Throughout the day, the most empty area was the (big) Barilla takeover. Probably because they are homophobic pricks. I used to eat Barilla. I will never again. I’m glad they wasted money on this. OKAY… will stop ranting now…. back to the food.
Starting with the eats, I’ll first highlight our favorite bites.
Our number one bite of the day (and this was echoed throughout many people we talked to) was from High Road Creamery.
This was absolutely awesome. The buns were slightly sweet and warmed on the spot. The ricotta ice cream was very flavorful and the pistachio black pepper toffee on the outside was a great compliment both in taste and texture. We went back to get more around 3:30pm (the Grand Tasting goes until 6pm) and they were all out. Though I can’t blame them. They were so good.
Chefs Vanessa Palazio & Adam Schneider- Little Muenster: “Super Fancy Grilled Cheese” with braised beef cheek with cracked pepper marscapone, pickled fennel, old bay onion paste & muenster cheese on local peasant bread.
We LOVED this grilled cheese. One of the best I have ever had. Perfect balance of everything with a satisfying crunch of the bread (without being too sharp or too thick). Looks like we may need to head down to the LES or Brooklyn to get our hands on more Little Muenster!
Surprisingly, one of my favorite noms was from Celebrity Cruise Lines. Squash soup with a really great grilled cheese.
Chef Kirk McKinny- Suite 36: Lilikoi (Passionfruit) Cured Hamachi with a salad of baby watercress, scallion, pineapple & Big Island macadamia nut. Finished with Sweet Yuzu & Hawaiian Chili Oil drizzle.
I had mine without chili oil, but I really enjoyed this combination of flavors and great hamachi. The macadamia nuts added a nice texture and taste to everything. And I’m quite excited we found this place… it’s just a few blocks away from our apartment. We may try to go there for dinner tomorrow!
Chef Manuel Berganza- Andanada: Pulpo a la Gallego- Octopus seasoned with olive oil, pimiento de vera and served with mashed potato puree. (I had mine without the paprika on top… see second photo).
This was scrumptious. Perfectly cooked octopus and the potato foam on top was light and creamy. Great dish.
Chef Jeremy Leech- ReBar: Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese.
This was stupid good. It was just mac and cheese. Just AWESOME mac and cheese.
Chef Roxanne Spruance- Alison Eighteen: Lamb Bacon with maitake, crispy lentils, foie gras, walnut and concord grape. This bacon was perfectly cooked and flavored and the little additions all went well with the bacon itself.
And here are most of the other things we nibbled:
Chef Arturo McLeod- Benjamin Steakhouse: Porterhouse Bites and Creamed Spinach with USDA Prime, dry aged porterhouse bites served with their signature “creamless” creamed spinach.
A very tender, simply prepared piece of meat.
Chef Sophia Lee- miss Korea BBQ: Korean marinated Kalbi
Chef Sara Moulton- Maple Leaf Farms: Peking Duck Wraps
Chef Lucas Billheimer- The Writing Room: Smoked Duck Rillette with apple butter and pickled squash on dark rye bread
Chef Miguel Trinidad- Maharlika Filipino Moderno: Pork Rib Adobo- National dish of the Philipines. Pork marinated in Filipino soy sauce, bawang, suka, and sili.
The Munchies is a “People’s Choice Food Award” and they had a selection from Hill Country Barbecue. It was a piece of brisket with a really nice cucumber salad. Very tender.
Executive Chef Jim Botsacos- Molyvos: Yiayia’s Meatballs (Keftedes) with rich tomato sauce, green crakced olives and whipped Mizithra.
Chef Kyle McClelland- Prospect: Butternut Squash Velouté with root beer cream and espresso marshmallows.
Chef Kenneth Johnson- Pescatore Restaurant: “Goat, Goat, Goat” with goat cheese gnudi with goat bolognese and shaved goat cheese.
Chef Carmine Di Giovanni- Greenwich Project: Kobocha Squash Panna Cotta with spice candied walnut crunch and pomegranante cider meringue. (Popped a bite in my mouth and realized that spiced meant peppers and peppers mean allergy for me. So my mouth peeled a bit and I had to toss the rest… damn)
Chef Patricio Sandoval- Mercadito: Tacos de Camaron with shrimp, roasted garlic, avocado, and chipotle mayo. (Mike had, not me)
Chef Thomas Biglan- Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Borgata Fried Chicken Slider with black pepper candied bacon, sundried tomato mayonnaise and micro greens. This was actually awful. The only really bad bite of the day. The chicken was cold and mushy, with no crisp on the fry. I had one bite and tossed it.
Manon: Some sort of dessert with pear and a filling that tasted like pecan pie. (This was very good but they had no sign and soon ran out.)
Sea salt ice cream sundae from Graeter’s
Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream in Spiced Pumpkin flavor. We wound up actually combining this with the fresh Crown maple syrup next door for a delightful treat.
Haagen-Dazs Gelato. Very good sea salt caramel.
On the way to the Celebrity Chef demonstrations/talks, Cooking Channel was serving some awesome gourmet popcorn. We tried the pizza and the miso caramel.
Lovely Australian Lamb with cheese and tomato jam
A piece of burger from Mater Purveyors, Inc. in the Bronx.
Certified Piedmont Beef with Italian Seasoned Roast Beef.
Olive oils from Spain
Bertoli Olive Oil Cranberry Pesto with Olive Oil
Pasta Chips tasted like crispy, dried pasta with dried seasonings resembling pasta dishes. I really enjoyed these, especially the simple sea salt that let the pasta flavor shine through.
Brownie brittle was good as well.
I liked that the chocolate crisp. (Why aren’t there more crispy chocolate products out there?)
And what we drank:
We started our day in the back at one of our favorite wineries: Decoy. Great Napa and Sonoma wines. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of their lovely duck themed bottles.
VeeV Acai Spirits smartly served their sangria in a jar with a lid so we could carry it around and enjoy it throughout the day (especially when we were sitting in the chef talks)
The Chartreuse was a really interesting flavor. Very herbacious and floral. Would be a great mixer. Will need to keep my eye out for this.
Mike saw Amarula and suggested I try it. Sure enough, a delicious creamy liqueur.
This was… weird. Cheesecake wine? Probably not going to go anywhere beyond the “I’ll try anything once” mantra.
And the Demos:
One of the highlights of the Grand Tasting is the impressive roster of Celebrity Chefs who do demos and talks throughout the day. This new location seemed smaller, and for the first time we were turned away from one (Rachael Ray) so we checked out some others. Our first stop was watching Iron Chef Morimoto break down a HUGE Toro fish.
It was incredibly hard to hear because the other stage was way too close in this venue, but what we did hear was fun. He even sang us a song at the end before flexing for the camera.
We caught the end of Chef Chuck Hughes (from Cooking Channel) and he was fun to watch.
Then Nadia G (from Bitchin Kitchen) came out to make the introduction…
She made a crepe cake (and burned a number of crepes in good humor). The crepe cake looked like it was going to fall down, but she managed to get a slice out and it looked lovely.
I really loved watching this demo because there is something just so endearing about Chef Alex. Really it was the audience questions that made the demo so good. One person asked her how it felt when she won Iron Chef. And her ego (whatever ego she actually has) just fell to the floor and she talked about how shocking it was and how proud she was about it. She made some great jokes and then mentioned that the moment she saw the curtain drop and her picture up there she was so overwhelmed that she had to tell herself “Iron Chefs don’t cry!”
At the end of the demo, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri crashed. They asked some silly audience questions and they somehow wound up having a conversation about chafing due to being naked under chef coats. They were obviously trashed but having a great time. Alex took it all in good humor. It was a lovely moment between 3 people you can tell really like each other.
This year’s Grand Tasting was certainly better than last year’s in terms of the event itself. Sure, the new location had some issues, especially the chaos at the beginning of grabbing glasses and bags and then the closeness of the stages, causing some issues hearing the demos. But there were a LOT more food options so I left totally full and not overly drunk. Last year was somewhat pathetic in the amount of food that was there, so I’m glad they redeemed themselves.
I was questioning coming back after last year, but I’m glad we did. We had a blast!
Last weekend was my birthday weekend, however, we had a lot of obligations so there was very little ME time. And since I am the princess on my birthday, when we saw a fun looking event on Underground Eats, we quickly decided it sounded like a perfect way to celebrate my day.
It was billed as follows:
Enjoy a three-hour cruise during which you’ll feast on jumbo lobster rolls, oysters, and whoopie pies, get a chance to learn the secrets of oyster shucking and help yourself to endless beer and wine.
Sounded like a good value for $60. HA! That’s a joke. I don’t think I’d let someone pay me to take this boat trip again. What a shit show.
Though it didn’t start too bad.
We haven’t spent much time in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and we arrived much earlier than intended. Not much to see in the area so we killed about 45 minutes on a bench checking out a new view of the skyline.
Our ship then pulled in
And before we knew it, there was a HUGE line behind us. (They boarded a bit late, and took a lot longer to board than intended, so we wound up leaving nearly 45 minutes later than scheduled)
They were checking bags and giving everyone the pat down to get on the boat.
It was pretty empty when we first got on (which obviously didn’t last). They had a downstairs dance floor and DJ who spun an odd collection of “beachy” music I had never heard before, but it was decent. Though I’m not sure if I would consider this “live music” as billed.
There were 2 stations downstairs for lobster rolls and whoopie pies, as well as a bar.
And upstairs there were about 20 seats, a dance floor, 2 food stations (oysters and ceviche), and a small bar.
The bar started with a very nice beer offering. I LOVE Sixpoint Sweet Action. Always tastes like summer and baseball to me. (Perhaps because I tried it first at Citi Field).
Very quickly, the ceviche line opened. I was SO hungry so I ran up to get it. Sadly, it was coated in peppers. But Mike said it was very interesting since it was combined with watermelon.
I went downstairs a few times, but no food was being served yet (and even though the whoopie pies were out, he wouldn’t let me touch them until the “official time”). I kept checking, and I finally caught it open and the line was already across the boat and spiraling back (it wound up building to a triple snaking line). I left Mike upstairs since there were only 20 chairs and we scored them early.
And I waited… and I waited… 50 minutes.
50 minutes on line to get lobster rolls.
And then I got up there all excited to finally try one…
And they wouldn’t give me one for Mike. ”1 per person.”
Now I get it. I get that they don’t want everyone to come down and hog 2 lobster rolls at once.
Then at some point during my 50 minute wait online, how about someone come out and TELL us that? How about tell us that when we get on the boat? Or give people tickets to get lobster rolls?
Or… HELL… put more than 20 freakin seats on a boat that you put at least 200 people on.
I was NOT a happy camper.
I tried to argue with the guy serving, who was from Greenpoint Fish, but he was a total jerk to me. He called me “little girl” and told me to “stop complaining and move along.” Not cool. Not cool at all. It’s bad enough to give a customer a bad experience (especially for a place that I believe is trying to open a restaurant soon). I immediately tweeted them an unhappy sentiment, and not only did they not do the customary social media community management best practice of responding… they actually censored/deleted my tweet from their wall. Bravo jerks. Bravo.
I was so angry that I didn’t even get a good picture of the roll, but really there was no reason to. I’m not saying this because they were totally douchey to me, but the lobster roll was just meh. When the line finally went down a while later, Mike got on line for his (waited another 20 minutes or so) and got to the front to find out that they actually ran out of their lobster roll meat, but they had some fresh cracked lobster meat to put on the bun. Now this lobster… this lobster was GREAT! It made it very obvious that they had either used frozen or sub-par lobster in the original roll.
Needless to say, I will never go to Greenpoint Fish.
After this disappointment, at least we had the view to check out.
After watching the world go by for a bit, we went and got ourselves some oysters. These were awesome. Super fresh and the shucker spent all 5 hours on his feet, shucking at incredible speeds. Props shucker man.
And then we went to get some whoopie pies.
Now these were no Cranberry Island Kitchen whoopie pies (the vendor we chose for our wedding), but they were good in their own way. They tasted like fresh devil dogs. We enjoyed these and actually, this was the only food I could fill up on, so I had a few. Yum.
And then we made a sweep next to the lady. (A view I never get tired of)
They then had their lobster cracking demonstration. Most of the stuff I’ve already shown, but a genius way to get meat out of the legs… use a rolling pin. Comes right out! Who knew?
And these were the fresh lobsters that wound up going into the good lobster roll. I love how the light is shining on them, as if from heaven. (mmmm heavenly lobsters)
About halfway through the cruise, the good beer ran out. No more Sixpoint Brews. Just Bud and Bud Light. I’d rather just drink water. BLEH.
And then everything went to hell. The bathrooms stopped flushing.
To make matters much worse, the boat was basically entirely Brooklyn hipsters. Total hipsters. I couldn’t believe the amount of fun mustaches and rolled up pants with boat shoes I saw. But the style aside, these millenials were jerks. It was like a bad episode of Girls. They smoked on the small boat, in the middle of everyone eating, and refused to move. (NO ESCAPE!) They cut in line and then kept blocking the path to get anywhere on the boat (including the broken bathrooms). They danced into me while I was waiting in various lines, many times, and no apologies. They were obnoxiously drunk and dropped food all over and threw their cigarette butts into the water. And they just had no courtesy for anyone around them. It was as if they were the only one on the boat. I really hate the self-involved, entitled attitude.
And afterwards everyone got on their vintage bicycles and peddled home.
I blame Lena Dunham.
I love cheese.
Like really freakin’ love cheese.
I love wine.
So wine and cheese?
But Merlot and I have not been good friends (and I swear I didn’t like it long before Sideways made it a faux pas). But Lori (of the blog Stuff I Ate) has been singing the virtues of Long Island Merlots for quite some time. We went to a few wineries with her and I actually did like it more than I thought I would. I still would choose a Pinot Noir over a Merlot any day, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
We didn’t know what to expect, but when we entered there were glasses in the back with merlot and a table set with cheese. My favorite of which was the Epoisses (which I just realized is the same cheese that I enjoyed so much in our Colicchio and Sons dish). It was creamy and farmy and delicious.
We were not sure if that was the entirety of the event, but we were pleased when we were led into a room next door, poured 7 glasses of wine, and presented with a wheel of cheeses.
Throughout the tasting, the different wine makers from each of the vineyards represented spoke about their wine and the cheese it went with. It was very interesting and educational.
And I was a model student and finished all of my wine and cheese. (Please notice the half full glasses of everyone in front of me… whoops!)
While I can’t say I fell in love with Merlot, I obviously enjoyed every glass. But I ESPECIALLY enjoyed the cheese. There was one in particular called Roomano that I could not get enough of. It is the best crystals of gruyere and parmesan combined with a rich and creaminess that I have never tasted before. I loved it so much that Mike surprised me with it as a present over the holidays and we pursued it each time we were back near Artisanal.
When I was looking for a brunch location one Saturday after going to my dress fitting with my mother and sister (OMG! I’m getting married!!!), I noticed that Artisanal Bistro had an opening. So off we went to 32nd Street, just off Park Ave.
There is a full retail Fromagerie in the back of the restaurant.
And a really nice atmosphere, keeping with their maroon and butter yellow brand identity.
They even use cheese wrap as the table cloths.
We started with a cheese plate including a truffle cheese (WOW!) and, my new favorite, Roomano.
We asked them to bring out some nibbles to go with the cheese, so they brought out some quince paste and some walnuts in (really good) honey. It was all perfect and a great start to the meal. All of us were doing the happy belly dance (yes… all 3 of us dance in our chairs when we like our food… I’m sure it is a sight to see!)
My sister got a salmon eggs benedict. She gobbled it all up, so I assume it was damn good.
My mom and I got the same dish, poached eggs over pork belly hash and sweet potatoes. It came with a chipotle hollandaise (that mom got).
And I got mine with regular hollandaise. It was so good. A little crisp on the pork. Perfectly cooked eggs. It all went so well together and while the bowl was small, it was a perfect portion and I’m glad there wasn’t more or else I would have stuffed my maw far too much.
I am a big Artisanal fan, especially after these recent two experiences. How can you beat a restaurant that specializes in cheese?
I had been there for dinner in the past, and very much enjoyed their fondue, but I thought their brunch was even better. We also sat in the restaurant for hours and no one bothered us or pressured us to leave. Service was very good, for the most part, and everyone enjoyed everything they ate.
Yay for cheese!
Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10
Last year, around this time, we went with some friends to aPORKalypse Now, a craft beer and pork event.
It was held at an event space called 404, which is on 10th Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets. We went with a VIP pass and got in early, and I was glad we did. The space was not even close to being large enough for the crowd.
But getting in early meant we got to try the bacon in chocolate fondue (on a Ritz cracker… nice touch). And we got to go back a few times to eat it over and over again. Cause it was gooood.
There were a number of pork dishes and restaurants represented.
But few things were as intriguing as the pigs tail.
This was incredibly rich. I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t think I’ll be chasing after trying more anytime soon.
A big highlight was the craft beer.
I especially liked the Nogne 0 Holy Smoke, which reminded me of a smoked beer we had in Belfast, ME.
But my favorite beer of the day came from my college town of Ithaca.
I LOVED the White Gold. I had never had it before and I really enjoyed it. I also love that Ithaca Beer Co. is finally making a strong stance here in NYC.
One of my favorite snacks was Alobar’s Maple Bacon Popcorn. I could not get enough of this!
By a few hours in, the pork was running low and the crowd was running large. For 2013, it looks like the event organizers have moved the location to Long Island City. Let’s hope this space is bigger!
Underground Eats has a deal where you get in 15 minutes early to the event on March 2nd. 15 minutes doesn’t seem like a whole hell of a lot, but at least you can try to grab a beer and maybe some bacon in chocolate fondue (if it’s there again).
I don’t have a burning desire to go again, but I am glad I got to enjoy my craft beer and pig for a day.
We met Kate and her husband Jon at a blogger event a few years back and struck up a friendship. We’ve spent some great times with them and really enjoy having a foodie couple friend to pal around with. While we dined out together a few times, we had yet to try her home cooking. And if you read her blog, you will quickly learn that not only is Kate a clever writer (and her husband a great artist), but she also knows her way around the kitchen! Kate writes the awesome cooking blog If You Can Make This, You Can Make That.
So when they mentioned that they were going to host their first Supper Club at their home, we couldn’t possibly say no!
We started with lovely lovely apps.
And an awesome cocktail.
Here was the menu for the night.
And we each sat down to this surprise bag at our place setting.
Now I love corn soup…
But corn soup with homemade popcorn (the contents of the surprise bag) was like a miracle in my mouth. (How have I never put popcorn in soup before???)
And then out came the goat cheese souffle. Wow! Souffles always impress me.
Most souffles look pretty but taste bland. This most certainly did not. It was filled with flavor.
And then the scallops… ooooo caramelization! Delish (and with my favorite: squash puree)
The roast pork was great. Very moist and great flavors.
And then out came the bowl of schlag (homemade whipped cream). I could have just eaten this for dessert.
But there was a plum crumble in my future. Since I love both plum and crumble, this was right up my alley.
And then there were some soft, warm chocolate cookies that were mind-blowingly awesome. Kate keeps saying she doesn’t make cookies. I think she is a bloody liar.
We had such a great time at this Supper Club and met some fun other people. The food was delicious and I’m so glad to have such delicious friends! I also think Kate may have read this entire blog cover to cover to find all my favorite foods to put on one menu! How else would she have known to put together such a perfect meal of NYCNomNom’s favoritist favorites?
I was bummed when I missed the 12-12-12 concert right around the corner at Madison Square Garden. Music acts that I grew up absolutely loving, coming together to benefit people who lost everything. I donated to Hurricane Sandy relief, but I never felt like I had done nearly enough. I even have some “survivor’s guilt” about the fact that we were not impacted by the hurricane AT ALL. We were the last block south to keep our power, so we weren’t even slightly inconvenienced. We got so incredibly lucky.
I watched it all happen in absolute impotence.
But all of that is sad, and New York is nothing if not resilient and I like to think that focusing our energies into the positive is how we overcome. So back to the positive…
I read about Shame on Sandy on Eater.com a few weeks ago and immediately bought my ticket. Not only was it benefiting something that touched my home so closely, but it was also a day to focus on the positive and celebrate some amazing freakin’ chefs and talented entertainers. (Here was the summary from Eater: “Shame on Sandy benefit at Highline Stages. The event will feature bites from Jonathan Waxman, Michael White, Nick Anderer, the Seersucker team, and several others, plus entertainment from actors and musicians like Reggie Watts, Patrick Stewart, and Abigail Breslin.”)
We went in and had NO idea what to expect. We arrived a bit early and found ourselves in a big open room with Batali, Bourdain, and Bastianich. I had a bit of celebrity dumbstruckness (yes… chef’s make me dumbstruck but actors do not… do not know why) and didn’t take any photos. Damn.
But I did manage to sneak out my camera as the space filled up, before the food got too killed by the patrons. They had sandwiches from ‘wichcraft (Tom Colicchio).
These little truffled egg tarts were SO GOOD. Something about the combination of eggs and truffles that just can’t be beat.
And a number of items from Blue Ribbon Bakery.
Including this pork scratchings (pork rinds) with this cute label.
And this AWESOME caramel corn.
There were couches to lounge on and a number of tables (thank goodness we got there early and had a seat). The opening band was Bluegrass style and very good.
And Mario Batali himself started handing out gelato (unfortunately, it was all gone by the time we were ready for dessert).
And the hot girls shucking oysters somehow made their way to all the tables around us but not ours. Boo.
The entertainment started (MCed by John Salley) and it was immediately apparent that the acoustics in the hall were not meant for this type of entertainment. Behind us was a full cacophony of people chit chatting. But the worst part about it was that they would NOT. SHUT. UP. Even after countless celebrities asked them to be silent to be respectful for the entertainers, we actually couldn’t hear a lot of what was happening on stage, even though we were only about 20 feet away. It was actually pretty shameful, and I can’t believe grown adults were that rude.
But we tried to be extra attentive because of that.
Tracy Anderson performed a fun dance routine and sang some songs from Chicago (the musical) and danced some Fosse.
Followed by Mario Batali…
…trying unsuccessfully to shoot an apple off of this lovely lady’s head.
Gail Simmons read a poem about New York (that we could hardly hear due to the rude talkers in the back by the bar).
Lady Rizo, a cabaret performer, tried to sing what sounded like a funny song about Googling a man she was crushing on, but that was so drowned out by the crazy talkers that she switched to a more Cabaret style torch song.
Rachel Feinstein (from Last Comic Standing) was very funny, when we could hear her. Mike is a big fan (see pic at end).
And then this kid got up there and played an AMAZING cello set. His name is Joshua Roman and he was fantastic.
Then adorable Abigail Breslin got up and sang a song she wrote. Who knew this little actress could sing?
Then an impromptu Joe Bastianich got up and performed a song he wrote. This is where I nearly lost it on the talkers. He was giving a touching speech, and then a touching song, about talking to his kids about the horrific shooting in Newtown, CT (near where he’s from) and the group would not even be quiet for that. I was embarrassed for all of them. But what we could hear, and the cello accompaniment (all improvised) was great.
Then a performer named Vera Flash got up there and thankfully had music loud enough to drown out the asses in the back.
Then someone (I’m not sure who… whoops) from “Real Actors Read Yelp” read a very funny Yelp review.
Followed bya band (who I didn’t snap a picture of) then Marsha Stephanie Blake, who decided to take the noise level into her own hands and perform her Yelp review from the middle of the room on top of a stool.
Then the very funny Reggie Watts got up and kept us all laughing throughout his set.
It was at this time that Mike motioned to me that someone important was standing beside me. Hello Patrick Stewart!
And then someone finally shut up the crowd… Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain took the stage and gave each other a blind taste test to see if they could identify certain flavors. Bourdain was up first.
Eric Ripert challenged the long-time smoker to identify wine. He somehow pulled it off, down to the vineyard. I’m not sure if I was impressed or tricked… but it was entertaining to watch.
Then they switched places and Bourdain told Ripert that he would be trying a staple of every stoner’s cabinet…
Turns out, Eric Ripert has NO IDEA what Captain Crunch tastes like.
Then Bourdain had him taste some McDonald’s chicken nuggets. He didn’t ask for Ripert to identify exactly what it was, but only what type of MEAT (or tofu) it was.
Ripert absolutely couldn’t do it.
But boy was it funny to watch.
And then Sir Patrick Stewart graced the stage.
He read about a secret restaurant he discovered that specialized in none other than sandwich ARTEESTS!
Eric Ripert (and everyone in the audience) absolutely adored Stewart’s incredible essay and reading about the very special, very unique… Subway.
It was fantastic.
And pretty awesome to see them talk to each other in awe just afterwards.
And then a woman who was spending a good amount of time with Stewart got on stage and wowed us. Sunny Ozell is a Jazz singer and, as it turns out, Patrick Stewart’s current partner (who Wikipedia tells us is half his age). She was stunning and super talented.
And then people who know food people got wise and brought in some late night pizza. Some deliriously good pizza with vodka sauce. This must have been from someplace famous, because it was just too good, even eating it cold out of a cardboard box. But sadly, I do not know where it came from.
Then another real actor did a Yelp review. It was again, very funny, but again, I couldn’t hear who it was when they announced her.
Olivia Arciero then came up and sang. She is part of a country group with her sisters called the Lunabelles. She was also very talented.
And then the last act, Bliss Blood.
I can’t help but love the ukulele. She was a fun way to end the show.
At the end, most of the food was gone and most of the celebrity chefs ran out of there. But a few people stuck around and we got pictures with Rachel Feinstein (who was incredibly nice).
And I got a photo op with John Salley, who was so insanely tall he had to LEAN DOWN to put his arms on my head.
The Shame on Sandy benefit was a hell of a lot of fun and absolutely delicious. I really enjoyed the variety show and thought everyone up there was talented, with some good fun thrown in from some of our favorite chefs. The people who wouldn’t stop talking were absolutely horrid, but besides that, we had a great time and I felt very lucky to be in the room with such amazing talent.
And watching Ripert and Bourdain crack each other up was pretty awesome.
For the past 3 years, Mike and I have had a tradition of going to the Grand Tasting event at the Food Network Wine & Food Festival in NYC. I get Early Access passes as a treat for Mike’s birthday and it’s a tradition we very much look forward to each year.
Today, we went to the first day of the Grand Tasting (they do it all again tomorrow). We went with our plan that worked well in the past, arrive early, collect the goodie bag, and make a beeline right to the back and then move forward. It leaves the back half of the (large) space nearly empty for us to peruse (and nibble) for about the first 30 minutes. It works out well. We went up the one side and noticed that at least 3/4 of the booths were various kinds of alcohols (mostly wines, but also liquor, sake, mixers, etc). We decided to start our trip down the other side, figuring that must be where most of the food was.
Well… it wasn’t.
Same story: barely 1/4 food. Most of the food there was the packaged goods found in ShopRite. While having this food is typical for this food festival (and kind of cool to see what new packaged goods are out there), this is usually complimented by many restaurants (including some famous ones in New York and Celebrity Chefs). This time, there were hardly any restaurants. I’m not sure what happened, but it left us kind of disappointed! It’s the first time we left there not feeling like we got our money’s worth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sampling all that wine was great, but we can do that (for a lot less money) at the Wine Show. We go to this Grand Tasting specifically to try some of the best restaurants in the city. These just weren’t there today.
And then we had another disappointment… most of the places ran out of food by 4pm. The event goes until 6, and while we saw many run out of food in the past, it wasn’t every single restaurant and it was more around 5/5:30. Something just went downhill this year.
Here are the noms we had (any time I remembered, I took a picture of the sign and description of the dish, then that is followed by the dish.
Only one real stand out: the short ribs from Monkey Bar. And while it was VERY good, we were hoping to have some bites that would make us say “Wow! We really need to try that restaurant!”
Not this year.