Tag Archives: banana pudding

New Opening: THE NoMad BAR

21 Jun

We caught the news that The NoMad had opened up a new space called The Nomad Bar, attached through a semi-hidden passageway to their current space, The Library. It seems this came as a surprise to many, as I saw nothing leading up to it prior and it just kind of appeared one day with an entrance in the middle of the block on 28th Street (look for the Nomad logo on the door).  The space has been described as “sexy,” which it undeniably is, even down to a sexy promotional video. (And lots more sexy photos from Eater)

We went in at about 5:45pm on Friday evening and were told it would be about an hour wait for a table (as expected).  We put our names in and saddled right up to the sexy bar.

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We loved the food at The NoMad restaurant, and I actually find myself there nearly once a week now for breakfast meetings since it’s right near my office (and they have the super awesome granola from Eleven Madison Park).  We are huge fans of basically anything from Daniel Humm and Will Guidara after falling in love with EMP, which is our #1 restaurant in Manhattan. And when we heard that Brian Canlis, our gracious host from our fantastic honeymoon dinner at Canlis in Seattle, was lending a helping hand, it was all the more reason to visit at the first opportunity we had.

Mike and I had arrived early and were waiting on another couple friend to join us.  As we waited, we perused the menu and noticed that there were so many delicious sounding cocktails that it was going to be hard to choose.

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They have a section for “Reserve Cocktails” (read: very expensive with very good liquors), but they did mix a less premium version on request.  They also have an entire section of “Cocktail Explosions” for $90 to serve 6-8 people. It’s even labeled as “be careful” on the menu. We saw a few come out and they were like a super sexy scorpion bowl.  Could be great for a party.

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Our friends arrived shortly thereafter and as they ordered their drinks, the hostess came up to us and informed us that there was actually a change in another party so our table would be ready shortly.  Great!

We got our drinks and were led up the stairs to the second level, which is like a U shaped balcony with tables all around, looking down on the bar.

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They even light their stemware in a sexy cabinet with sexy lighting.

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What was a little less than sexy? The fact that they serve their “Forbidden Dance” in this slightly ridiculous, slightly awesome tiki glass.  I quite proudly carried this around a few hours later (more on that soon), but it was certainly a talking point (more on that later soon, too)

I have to say though, every single drink was amazing.  Perfectly balanced, perfectly constructed.  Really stand-out. This is truly a craft cocktail bar first and foremost.

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After ordering, our table was set with this cool box of silverware.

And then Brian Canlis stopped by and we said hello and told him that we were at his restaurant almost exactly 1 year ago to the day on our honeymoon.  He was so friendly and so warm.  He seemed genuinely happy to have us there and talk to us.  Brian Canlis knows hospitality and knows how to make guests feel special.

He also asked our opinion about the giant tiki glass sitting on our table.  Our dining companion informed him that she was a bit embarrassed by it and he told us that management is discussing whether it’s awesome or awful.  I think we all agreed that it’s a little of both.

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We started with the flat bread, which came with spring onions and fingerling potatoes.  We all enjoyed this but agreed that a little dipping sauce would have been good with it, perhaps a rosemary olive oil or olive tapenade.

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We also tried the Scotch Olives with lamb’s sausage and sheep’s milk cheese.

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It was like a scotch egg but with an olive.  I really enjoyed this.  Fun flavors and combination of textures and meat with salt and fry.

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Our final appetizer was the Swiss Cheese with beer mustard, pretzel chips, and pickles.  The cheese was absolutely phenomenal. I don’t know where they are sourcing this cheese, but it was some of the best swiss I’ve ever had.  I’m not a mustard fan, however, the two boys at the table sang its praises.

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Onto the entrees!

Two burgers on the table, and thank goodness.  This was a fantastic burger.

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The meat was cooked perfectly and the brioche bun was hearty without distracting from the main meat event. It was listed as dry aged with cheddar, red onions, and pickles.  So simple, yet so good.  One of my favorite burgers I’ve ever had.

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We got fries for the table and these were fan-freakin-tastic fries.  They were crispy and had lovely herbs on them (rosemary and parsley).  I gobbled up every little piece.

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We also tried the pork schnitzel on foccacia with tomato and pickles.  Of all the entrees, this was probably our least favorite. It was good but it didn’t sing with flavor like the other dishes.  It got a bit too muddled.

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I got the duck sausage with pickled ramps and cherries.  I was a bit concerned that this was the same mustard as the cheese, but it was more of an aioli, I think?

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The sausage itself was great.  Really nice combination of flavors and a nice snap to the outside.  Very enjoyable.

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With The NoMad restaurant serving one of my favorite desserts of all time (Milk and Honey), we were glad to have room for dessert.

We started with the Cookies & Cream, which was yummy vanilla ice cream rolled in cookie crumbs.  I loved that you could eat these with your hands and the texture was just right.  Delicious nibble.

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The banana pudding with rum & brioche was not how we expected it to look, but I really enjoyed this dessert.  I also enjoy how this picture wound up looking like that famous photo of Queen from Bohemian Rap City.

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And we had to try the candy bar, which was labeled on the menu as “literally, with dark chocolate and caramel.”

Literally indeed.

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Unwrapping it felt like Willy Wonka.

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And it was an awesome balance of the bitter dark chocolate with the sweet, dense caramel center.  A fantastic end to the meal.

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We had a few drinks throughout the evening, and all were great.  We decided we would end our night in The Library Bar for a night cap.

On our way down the stairs, we ran into Brian Canlis again.  We told him that we really enjoyed our meal and he asked us if we had ever been to the roof.  Why no… we had not.  He told us to hold tight and we told him we were going to head to The Library Bar.  That is when he informed us that the deal was that The Library Bar was now for hotel guests only. Apparently, the bar had become so popular that guests could never get in, so The NoMad Bar was opened up for the public now, in trade for The Library Bar being exclusive (in the late evenings anyway).  Interesting! So we grabbed our drinks at the sexy bar and waited for Brian.

We ordered a few things, including a repeat of a drink I had and enjoyed earlier in the evening, which was “The Shaman” (Pisco Acholado, Salers, Pineapple, Lemon, Cinnamon, and Angostura Bitters). Unfortunately (or maybe fortuitously) the bar tender heard incorrectly and thought I ordered “The Forbidden Dance.” And that is how I accidentally wound up carrying a huge Tiki Cup through The NoMad dining room, up the elevator, and to the roof with Brian Canlis.

But that’s okay… we named him Ted. (and he was delicious… and the bar tender took it off the bill… which was very, very nice of him).

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The roof of The NoMad was beautiful.  There is a special room up there in a circular turret-like construction where you can have a private meal, and I think all of our ears perked up at the thought of having a special meal up there.  They used to do a tasting menu up there, but with the weather and the financial opportunity of private parties, it is now a permanently tented space that is truly stunning with indoor and outdoor areas and a view of the Empire State Building and a world of beautiful buildings you would never know existed from the ground.  (If you have a lot of money, and a small guest list, this would be a dream wedding venue).

Overall, I really enjoyed our time at The NoMad Bar.  It is a well executed “more casual” version of The NoMad restaurant.  All the food was very good, if not great, and the cocktails were some of the best I’ve ever had.  We drank quite a few over the course of the night, so our tab was a bit hard to see, but for the caliber, it didn’t feel too nuts for NYC.  It is definitely as sexy as it has been billed, and if you are looking to impress a date, this is the place to go.  Looking forward to going back.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

Sylvia’s- Harlem

12 Apr

Sometimes you just need some soul food.  So we took a pilgrimage up to Harlem to finally check out Sylvia’s.  

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We noticed that there was a beer on the menu from Harlem Brewing Company.  When in Rome…

It was quite good, especially with the rich food.

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The bread was old fashioned corn bread served with, what else, Fleichmann’s margarine. 

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And then the food started arriving…

Fried chicken with sweet potatoes and mac and cheese… OHHHH the mac and cheese.

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Chicken and waffles.

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Smothered pork chops with green beans and mac and cheese… OHHH the mac and cheese.

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More chicken and more waffles.

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And more mac and cheese… OHHH the mac and cheese.

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Everything was really delightful. The fried chicken had a great crisp to it and wasn’t greasy at all.  I had the chicken and waffles and the waffle was really fantastic. There is something quite spectacular about maple syrup on the waffles and chicken. 

But OH the mac and cheese.  It was heavenly.  Perfectly baked, perfectly cheesy, perfect perfect perfect. I consider myself a mac and cheese connoisseur and this, this was GREAT mac and cheese.  Up there with Blue Smoke (which is the best flavor but a little too saucy) and Chat ‘n Chew (which is #1 in my book, however, it’s inconsistent). 

We really wanted the peach cobbler for dessert, but they were out.

::pout::

So we got red velvet cake (which was good, but I’m not a red velvet cake fan).

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The strawberry bread pudding with bourbon sauce (really delicious).

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And the southern style banana pudding.  Also pretty good.

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I can’t say I LOVED the desserts, but the meal was great and that mac and cheese…. OH that mac and cheese.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

LATimes Food Festival

1 Nov

I happened to be traveling to LA on a weekend that happened to contain BOTH the Beverly Hills Food Festival and the LA Times Food Festival.  Unfortunately, I had to choose, so I went with the LA Times Food and Wine Festival that happened an inexplicably long time ago (September 5th, to be exact).

Perhaps it’s just because I’m not from LA, or perhaps our tickets purchased online were lacking in information, but we seriously had no idea where to park, and there were no signs.  A bit of digging and we figured it out.  The festival was actually right on the Paramount Pictures Studio Lot… which was pretty damn cool.

It was an insanely hot day, yet we sat in the blaring 90+ degree sun for an hour to hear the first talk: Food Blogging & Beyond featuring Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman); Aarti Sequeira (Aarti Paarti/Winner, The Next Food Network Star” Season 6); & TBD, moderated by Rene Lynch (Assistant Food Editor, Los Angeles Times).  This is where I got to know about The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond for the first time.

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The panel was really interesting and completely inspired me.  Aarti convinced me to try to  do a video blog (coming soon) and Ree really showed me how artful recipe photography could be.  They were very down to earth.  I don’t know if I really learned much, but it was great to see them and I really enjoyed it.

We were so warm by the time this was done, that we needed a drink.  The lines were quite long at each booth, so I high-tailed it to the very back of the lot and found The Sweets Truck there selling homemade lemonade and limeade.

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I’m not sure if it was just because of how parched we were, but I would say this was the best of both I’ve ever had.  I was looking forward to coming back to try their baked goods at the end of the day, however, they were sold out by then!  Glad we snagged the drinks when we did.

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While I was on a quest for liquid, Mike stood on the long line for the Nom Nom Truck (as featured on The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network).

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When I heard they were going to be at this festival, it really sealed the deal for me.  Not only do I love Bahn Mi, but COME ON, they are called the NOM NOM truck. It is meant to be.  Even when the line was soooooo long.

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So long, in fact, that I accidentally took a picture of the ground while waiting.  I liked the shadows, however, so I will share it.

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Finally we drew close.

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And we ordered the lemongrass chicken tacos.

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And of course the banh mi.

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Which was filled with deliciousness.  I actually liked the tacos even more than the bahn mi.  But it was all delicious and all worth the wait.

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As we walked back into the main grounds, I noticed Alex and CJ from Top Chef talking about “Life After Top Chef” as  moderated by  Krista Simmons. I only stuck around long enough to shoot this quick pic.

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I was fortunate enough to meet up with my very cool Aunt Farrell at the festival and she ordered a custom made ice cream sandwich.  I think it was potato bread cookie with bacon ice cream.  Unfortunately, the picture is blurry… but it was DELICIOUS.  I really wanted one of my own, but by the time we got there the line was prohibitively long and we were excessively tired and on our way to catch the plane.

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Our next stop was at a cooking demonstration by Noelle Carter.

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She made shrimp skewers.

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However, they had spices… so I missed out and gave my bite to Mike.

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Our next stop was for dessert at Nana Queen’s Puddin’ and Wings (also featured on The Great Food Truck Race).

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While I’m sure the wings are good, we were in it for the puddin’.

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It was good, but nothing special.  I’m pretty sure it was advertised as coffee/toffee and neither of those flavors were really present.  But the texture was perfect.

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We didn’t stop at many of the tables selling food due to the lines, however, we heard good things about the Mark Peel station so we decided to try it.  He had a beautiful cookbook displayed.

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They were out of most things, however, the duck confit sliders were left, which was fortunate since that’s what we came for.

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I knew the chef’s name sounded familiar and he looked like someone I knew, however, I didn’t put it together until later that he was on Top Chef Masters.  Luckily, he made an appearance while we were there.

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I somehow missed taking a picture of the duck sliders, but they were REALLY good and I will definitely be trying Campanile next time I’m in LA.

Our final stop of the day was supposed to be dessert, but this was when we couldn’t get online at the ice cream sandwiches and found out that The Sweets Truck was out of stock.  So we went with Korean food! I got a bulgogi taco (which was basically the meat and rice in a taco shell) and it was goooood.

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I think the best talk we did all day was actually the one that didn’t lend itself well to being photographed.  We went to a wine chat with the head wine guy at The Palm, Jonathan Mitchell.  I learned so much about wine in that half hour and he was an excellent speaker.

This was a lot of fun, however, we paid $55 to get in and there was basically nothing to eat without paying more.  You got drink tickets, but we weren’t gung ho about getting wasted before driving to the airport for a 6 hour flight.  I guess that it makes some sense since most food festivals with free food cost closer to $100, however, it made the lines move very slow and I wish they would have told us more details about there being no free food with the entry price.

I’m glad we went and had a chance to try so many places that we definitely wouldn’t be able to try in NYC.  It was a fun and a great way to end our LA trip.