Tag Archives: eleven madison park

Food & Wine Best New Chefs Award Party 2015

27 Apr

I have amazing perks with my job.  One of them is going to some excellent media events and I was very excited to get a coveted invite to the Food & Wine Best New Chefs party.

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They awarded the best new chefs their honors, but first, they fed us.

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And they fed us well.

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I really enjoyed the Johnnycake from Chef Linton Hopkins (without the spicy greens).

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And it was fun to be able to taste a dish from Chef Mei Lin (most recent Bravo Top Chef winner)

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Her pork belly paté egg rolls were quite divine.

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Chefs Joe Ogrodnek & Walker Stern (two of last year’s best new chefs) had a dish I would never have ordered from a menu…

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A buttermilk parfait with vegetable muesli.

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But this little dish was actually packed with flavor. It looked so simple, but it was refreshing and flavorful at the same time.

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Upstairs, there were 2 tucked away tasting areas and another bar.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Chef Daniel Humm, seeing as though Eleven Madison Park remains my #1 favorite restaurant in the city and I’m slightly obsessed with The NoMad (especially for breakfast).

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He served “The Humm Dog” which was a bacon wrapped hot dog with gruyere cheese with black truffle mayonnaise and celery relish.

I thoroughly enjoyed this hot dog!

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Among the many celebrity chef tasting tables, they also had passed little bites.

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Chef Koren Grieveson had a tucked away area where she was hamming it up with her staff

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She was so incredibly friendly and welcoming and you could tell she was just tickled to be there.

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Her confit chicken was so light and I loved the pairing of orange with it.  I wish I could have this for lunch every day.

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Back downstairs, the longest line was for Chef Stephanie Izard (first female Top Chef winner and current Chicago restaurant owner, who runs one of my favorite places, The Girl and the Goat).

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I enjoyed her personalized chopsticks teasing a new restaurant, Duck Duck Goat, coming to Chicago this spring. (I’m dying to try it! Peking Duck by Stephanie Izard? I’m in!)

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And mini goat greeting us.

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The dish was a spicy noodle dish, which I couldn’t have.

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She sadly sad that they could give me a plain noodle dish and apologized that I’d be missing out… but there was NO missing out! Even these “plain” noodles were packed with flavor. Super delicious.

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Before they gave out the awards, we were treated to an aerialist show that was beautiful.

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Then it was award time.

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They listed out the names of the honored chefs and New York Chef Bryce Shuman (of awesome restaurant, Betony) was last and VERY excited to be there.

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The reason I got to attend is because one of my clients, BelGioioso Cheese (awesome cheese in your grocery store if you haven’t tried it) was one of the featured sponsors with a yummy dish.

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After the awards and the food was served, the music got cranked up and everyone let loose.  The celebrity chefs were having a blast on the dance floor and we spoke to a few (including Chef Stephanie Izard, who could not have been nicer).  It was at this point that my slightly inebriated husband decided to set up a fun photo shoot with any chef who was game… The sell: “My wife is pregnant and we want to take a picture of chefs pointing at the belly.”  After I swallowed my ever so slight embarrassment at asking all these lovely people to pose, we actually wound up with a great set of pictures:

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Thank you for humoring us, Chefs Stephanie Izard, Marc Murphy, Elizabeth Falkner, Ilan Hall, and CJ Jacobson… and of course Food & Wine.

Awesome event!

 

Top Noms of 2014

1 Jan

Every year, we compile our favorite meals of the previous 12 months.  (For previous years, check here: 2013201220112010, and 2009). It is always hard to choose the best, and this year especially so when 2013 ended with our number one meal of all time at Alinea in Chicago, and then 2014 started with the previous #1 (and still #1 in NYC), Eleven Madison Park for the second time.   But enough about previous tops, and onto the tops of 2014:

As for great food that weren’t specific restaurants, I had an incredible experience at the New York Magazine Taste Event, getting to sample a bite from some of the best restaurants around the city. My favorite recipe that I shared (and have now baked over and over again) was the Nutella Stuffed Salted Chocolate Cookies (note: I have since removed the caramels and find the recipe is perfect even without this extra indulgence).  And then my favorite day of the year is the day we went on a veritable treasure hunt around NYC to #followtherabbit to get free cronuts and cookie shots from Dominique Ansel in honor of his cookbook launch.  What an amazing time!

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As for our top 10 Restaurants of 2014…

#10: The NoMad Bar

We had a great meal at The NoMad (#5 on the Top Noms of 2013) and we were excited to see that they launched a slightly more casual (and very sexy) “Bar” version.  We have since been back a few times and each time we enjoy the food and the cocktails, which are very expensive but some of the best in the city. It’s hard to beat as a place to impress guests or a date.

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#9: Carbone

We had heard the rumbling about the new restaurant from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, Carbone. The buzz about the Veal Parm was especially loud, referencing the ridiculous price ($54) and the equally ridiculous deliciousness.  The veal was certainly delicious, but it was actually the amazing pasta dishes that pushed this into the top 10.

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#8: Brunch at DBGB

We were surprised at how much we enjoyed brunch at DBGB, though I really shouldn’t have been since I have always been a big fan of David Boulud restaurants. We have enjoyed ourselves at many including Boulud Sud (#6 on the 2012 Top Noms List) Daniel (#3 on the 2011 Top Noms List), Cafe Boulud (#5 on the Top Restaurant Week list), and Bar Boulud (a favorite brunch spot).   Our brunch at DBGB was with a big group and everyone left raving about the food, and the French Toast was the best I’ve ever had.

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#7: Root & Bone Opening

We had a great time at the pop-up preview of Root & Bone in 2013 and then visited the new permanent location in the East Village during the first few weeks of opening.  It was opened by Top Chef alums Jeffrey McInnis and Janine Booth and brought us the fried chicken that no one can stop talking about. I loved the corn dish (which combined “Grilled Sweet Corn Cob… Husk and All” with cornbread butter, giant hominy, and popped corn) though I’ve heard that it’s not as consistent from other reviewers. I also adored the short rib meat loaf. I loved that the menu had a lot of memorable dishes that were a little bit different.

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#6: Bodega Negra at the Dream Hotel

Another surprising meal was at Bodega Negra in Chelsea.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t get to eat Mexican food very often due to my allergy, so this was novel.  But the dessert alone put this squarely in the top 10 and it was an incredibly memorable meal. (Video of the dessert’s metamorphosis here)

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#5: Decoy: Peking Duck Dinner

I love a Peking Duck dinner. Something about that crispy duck with all the fixins wrapped in the little pancakes just make me happy. But this dinner was pretty epic in that not only was the duck dinner included, but also 4 small plates, 2 main dishes, and 1 fried rice or side dish.  The grilled wagyu beef pieces are still a taste memory stuck on repeat in my brain and it’s a great meal to share with food loving friends.

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#4: all’onda

A restaurant I have recommended again and again is all’onda. Eater called it the biggest restaurant opening of 2014 and we could not disagree.  Each dish was very unique and had a special flare to it that everyone really enjoyed.  We loved the sea urchin pasta (which I think has gone off and on the menu a few times depending on availability) and I still think of the arancini balls with beautiful squid ink rice.

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#3: Sushi Nakazawa

What a surprise! Mike made an impressive choice for my surprise birthday dinner and our meal was fantastic from start to finish.  A whole lot of chef chosen sushi in the Omikase, with the uni that will forever leave me chasing that uni dragon.  Do yourself a favor and make a reservation, be sure to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi before you go, and then visit this restaurant to taste what Chef Daisuke Nakazawa learned after a 10-year apprenticeship at one of the best sushi restaurants in Japan.

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#2: Per Se

After quite the exciting meal at The French Laundry during out honeymoon, it was hard to resist trying Per Se on our first wedding anniversary. I was excited just to be in this NYC institution, and I could not wait to wrap my tongue around the Oysters and Pearls dish again, a tiny bowl of heaven that is famous in both locations.  While still not as great as other restaurants we have loved, it was undeniable why this is commonly referred to as one of the best (and most special) restaurants in New York City. The meal was perfect (just like our French Laundry meal) but not quite as creative as some of our favorites.  Still #2 for the year!

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#1: Liquid Art House

The surprise of the year. I went to Boston on business but was able to spend my first night in the city with a good friend.  A quick search of top restaurants in the city near the Boston Back Bay station led me to Liquid Art House.  The space opened in May of this year and it was incredible and impressive with art hung like a gallery.  The food is also a work of art on each plate.  Usually you expect food that beautiful to be more aesthetic than substance, but the food absolutely, 100% delivered.  Each flavor was incredible and the ingredients were so fresh.  I was actually suffering extensively from morning sickness during this meal, but I managed to enjoy every single bite. I wish I had room for dessert, because I can only imagine what creations they came up with, but I left this meal in awe of how much I enjoyed it. I also just found out that Chef Stacy Cogswell from the current season of Top Chef (the Boston native) just came into the kitchen under Executive Chef Rachel Klein.  Since we do love our Top Cheftestant restaurants, I look forward even more to bringing Mike back to try this place as soon as we can make a trip back to Boston.

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Another incredible year of eats!  I cannot help but reflect back on how fortunate we are that we get to live this life.  We joke that our biggest fear for our baby is that he will not love food. But I have to think that can’t possibly be feasible with us as parents. We just love this way too much.

Thanks for another great year!

Onto the adventures of 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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