Tag Archives: birthday

Spoiling myself for my birthday

8 Sep

As I’m sure you can tell from this blog, I don’t exactly deprive myself of delicious things. But when I’m not out at incredible restaurants, I do try to eat healthy as much as possible.  I realized a long time ago that skinny just doesn’t taste very good.  So I’ll take a few extra pounds and be very happy… I just try to watch it when I can.

For my birthday, however, all bets are off.

And my birthday is a multiple day extravaganza, of course, so the eating just keeps on rolling.

The Friday before my birthday, I treated myself to one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches: The Works from Piccolo Cafe.  There are 3 Piccolos in the city (UWS, Midtown East, Midtown West, and near Union Square).  “The Works” has nicely toasted bread, eggs, tomato, lettuce, parmesan, and truffle spread. It’s awesome (they also have really nice pastas).



I took a half day so on my way to a lovely birthday mani/pedi with my mom, I stopped at Bon Chon Chicken and had my guilty pleasure, fried chicken drumsticks, and a Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Beer (from Maine).  I didn’t totally get the Bon Chon craze, even after trying it, but I find myself craving this chicken on regular occasions and I really have no idea why.



And for dessert, I was ECSTATIC to find out that Fresh Direct now stocks the very Maine gelato we brought in special for our wedding, Gelato Fiasco.  If you have not tried their Caramel Sea Salt gelato yet, you have not lived. It’s sensational.



And, of course, the one time each year that I allow myself to have a full fat, full whip, Frappuccino is on my birthday.  This was a caramel frap with chocolate cookie pieces on top. I really wanted the Caramel Crunch one, but that is a seasonal, apparently. This was a close second.


All these treats were in addition to an amazing meal at Sushi Nakazawa and an impromptu dinner at Lafayette.

A very successful food-filled birthday, if I do say so myself!




Surprise Birthday Dinner 2014: Sushi Nakazawa

4 Sep

For all our couple holidays (birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day), we trade off booking a surprise dinner to celebrate.  Over the past few years, Mike has surprised me with meals at Brooklyn Fare (amazing), Jean Georges (disappointing), Daniel (very good), Le Bernardin (great), and (our now #3 restaurant of all time and #2 in NYC) WD-50.

This year, we walked around the corner and we were standing in front of Sushi Nakazawa.


There is a documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, that follows the story of Jiro Ono, who is an 85-year-old sushi chef in Japan who is considered one of the world’s greatest.  His sushi restaurant is, curiously, in a subway station and yet it has a 3-star Michelin rating.  The documentary is amazing and it’s incredible to watch the detail that goes into that restaurant.  In the documentary, Daisuke Nakazawa is an apprentice who makes Jiro’s famous egg custard (the signature dish) for months and months to get it right.  They mention that most apprenticeships last 10 years. I had been hearing about this documentary, and the amazing restaurant that Chef Nakazawa opened this past June, for a long time. Just a few days prior to my birthday, I was also reading that the restaurant was nominated as one of the best new restaurants of the year by Bon Appetit.

The restaurant is clean and elegant with a beautiful sushi counter.  I was jealous of those that were able to sit and watch these magicians at work. (Sadly, this was another place with not enough light for photos to be as elegant as they actually looked, so please forgive the so-so photos).


We were set up with house-pickled ginger and a finger pinch cleaner.


What followed were 20 courses, plated two or three at a time, of some of the absolute best fish I have ever had.  Most pieces were just very, very good, while some were so stand-out and so unique that I just had to pause and take a moment of respect for just how damn good it was.

Our first plate had one of those.

Pink Salmon (right) and Smoked Chinook Salmon (left). That smoked salmon was absolutely incredible.  Full of flavor and it just popped in my mouth.  I was so incredibly impressed and I knew we were in for a wild ride if this was bite #2!


Then Sea Scallop (right) and Giant Glam (left). Both great.


Then Blue Emperor Fish (right) and Summer Flounder (left).


The pictures get a little confused, I’ll just lit the next few with our highlights:

Butterfish (OH that butterfish was good! )
Horse Mackerel
Aged Japanese Mackerel
Spearhead Squid


Then Amber Shrimp (closest) and Golden Striped Yellowtail (further away).  This shrimp tasted like lobster. I didn’t know that was possible. It was unbelievably good.


My list then says we had Smoked Japanese Bonito, which, like the other smoked dish, was amazing.  Sadly, I have 3 fish in this next picture, which makes me think that this photo belongs above. At this point, however, it’s all pretty much looking the same to you, dear readers, so just go with it? (thanks)


We were then served a fun selection of tuna. From right to left: Lean Bluefin Tuna, Soy Marinated Lean Bluefin Tuna, and Fatty Bluefin Tuna.  I had trouble deciding which one I liked most, but I think the fatty one won in the end.


And then… it happened.  On the right, Sea Urchin Santa Barbara (which had truffle on it) and Soy Marinated King Salmon Roe.


That sea urchin… WOW.  I will be chasing that Uni dragon for the rest of my life.  I usually could take or leave it, but this was out of this world.  I was blown away.


Then sea eel (right) and Nakazawa’s version of the infamous egg omelette (left).




We then stopped to take an annual birthday photo before deciding on just one more bite…


It was back to the uni. This was a slightly different version, and not quite as good, but still incredible.


Then we ended with a very nice birthday treat of shiso leaf sorbet with raspberries.  A lovely final touch.


This meal seems so simple, yet it was so incredibly good.  I have had a number of great omikase meals, but this one was absolutely special.  The smoked salmon, the butterfish, the amber shrimp, the smoked bonito, and then that uni… wow.  All of those packed such an amazing amount of flavor and originality that they really soared this meal to a whole different planet.

More please.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

nomscale- 08.5


Eataly’s Birreria: Oktoberfest and Birthdayfest

23 Feb

It’s Eataly Week!

In the last few months, we went to Eataly twice, for two different occasions.

The first was Oktoberfest, which we got exclusive tickets for from Gilt City.  The package included a meet and greet with Joe Bastianich, a tour of the  brewing facilities with brewmaster Brooks Carretta, a brief lesson on brewing, a reception with communal antipasti and beer, a seated family-style Oktoberfest supper with Italian Alpine fare and beer pairings, and a six-pack of beer for each guest to take home.

The brewery at Eataly is a small room where they put together some very different microbrews.  The brewmaster, Brooks, was very informative not only about the brewing process, but also about what makes the Eataly microbrews unique and talked about what new batches were coming up.


We tried a few beers, and very much enjoyed them.  The Thyme beer was especially delicious.


Then Joe Bastianich came in and welcomed us to Eataly/Birreria and basically told us to have a good time.


We sat back down and started chowing down on some great Oktoberfest items.  We especially enjoyed the whole roasted maitake mushrooms, pecorino, sardo creme, and roasted brussels sprouts. Awesome.


Then a few weeks later… we were back.  My sister has recently expanded her food horizons.  She was the kid that ate chicken nuggets and Kraft macaroni and cheese growing up.  The idea of a mushroom, sausage, or basically anything with unique flavor was repulsive to her.  So when I found out that she was opening up her food spectrum, I was quick to suggest Birreria as a great place to try some new things.

We started with the charcuterie and… gasp… Stacey ate meats.  CURED meats!  I was shocked.


We ordered the maitake mushrooms again, because they were so good the last time.


And we got the fried shiitake mushrooms with sage. I LOVE these mushrooms. They are incredibly delicious.


We also ordered the the pork shoulder which is made with beer and apricot. It was tender and just plain delicious.


We ended with the bisteca con salsa verde, which was a skirt steak with salsify, green onion, and salsa verde.  It had great char on it, which a touch of salt that just made it stand out.


I love Eataly. And I really love Birreria.  I haven’t had a bad bite there, and everyone that has been there with me has really enjoyed it. Plus… it’s the first place I saw my picky little sister eat a mushroom.  A true game changer.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10