I Think I’m Turning Japanese

…See you on the other side of the world, readers!

I’m headed to Asia for the next two weeks and can’t wait to give you all the delicious details! Posting will be sporadic until May 4, but don’t worry  – when I come back, it will be with tales of sushi, ramen, and dumplings!

Sayonara!

Sugar and Plumm – Better than Ever!

It’s so much easier to access than that-which-shall-not-be-named (it rhymes with “hairendipity”), the food is great, and the cocktails REALLY are delicious. Don’t miss the macaron ice cream!

 

Kashkaval Garden – Tiny but Terrific

It’s never easy to find somewhere to eat before a night at the theater. You want somewhat nice but not super expensive. Somewhere leisurely but that knows how to get you the check so you don’t miss your curtain time. Somewhere that is delicious but not too heavy – nothing worse than falling asleep during “Sunrise, Sunset,” amirite?

Kashkaval Garden delivers on all corners.

This minuscule Hell’s Kitchen wine bar is the holy grail of theater restaurants. A generous happy hour and full wine and liquor list. A staff who knows how to get your food on the table ASAP without rushing you to eat. And some seriously delicious Mediterranean food.

Be prepared, the place is tiny and doesn’t take reservations. But if you get there around 6 on a weeknight, you should be seated pretty quickly.

20150414_182347 Warm spiced olives

Juicy, meaty olives warmed in a garlicky, citrusy olive oil. It’s salty, savory, and surprisingly satiating if you crave a nibble before the meal. Warm olives are just the greatest and these go really well with a martini.
20150414_182356 Goat cheese salad

Doesn’t look special but really hits the spot. Fresh greens, sweet, grapes, a swath of creamy goat cheese lining the plate, and the MOST delicious marinated mushrooms I have had in a long time. They are savory, meaty, and incredibly umami. Served cold, they are superior to meat in almost every way.  20150414_183033 Chicken and chicken adana skewers

Shades of India and a welcome dose of heat and spice. The chicken is tender and marinated in yogurt so it’s juicy and savory. The adana skewer is well spiced with red pepper and garlic – like an awesome long meatball. Served with a tangy squash caponata, a zesty red pepper puree, and some really creamy, cucumber-rich tzaziki – what more could you want? This is accidentally low carb without meaning to be. It’s so delicious!

Kashkaval Garden is a delight. It’s really well priced, the portions are huge, and the food (I didn’t even order my favorite babaganoush or stuffed grape leaves this time) is dynamite.

Hopefully your show can live up to the precedent that your dinner sets!

Lamb Bacon at Navy

Quick drive by posting:

Have you ever been to Navy? Have you ever even heard of it? It’s an adorable cafe in SoHo that is almost hidden from sight. I went for a quick breakfast with a friend the other day and was utterly enchanted.

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Fresh juice, check. Sweet staff, check. Small but on point menu, check.

A little expensive, but delish.

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Harissa omelette with lamb bacon.

Delicious!

The omlette is soft and creamy, filled with a spiced (but not crazy hot) harissa paste that has the consistency of refried beans. It’s thick and velvety, just like the eggs. A tangle of peppery, vinaigrette-dressed watercress breaks through the richness.

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And that lamb bacon.

Whoa. Fatty. Meaty. Grassy. Not at all salty or smokey. Pretty much addictive.

For one shining moment, being kosher seemed possible.

Then I remembered cheeseburgers.

Anyway…

Hit up Navy the next time that you are in SoHo. You won’t regret it!

Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish is the SCHMITT!

First off, the things that I ate and drank the SECOND that Passover ended:

20150410_133006 Kouros

Our wonderful neighbors from the house I grew up in came to visit us in NYC this week. These are neighbors you dream of having next door – kids the same age as you, fences unlocked so you could always go freely between backyards, and a mom with Middle Eastern background who makes THE GREATEST food on the planet. She introduced my family to all natural fruit leather, gourmet mint tea, and these amazing meat pies. Kouros. Of course, as soon as she got off the plane, we set her straight to work and made her cook them for us. Soft, yeasty dough filled with a spiced meat and onion mixture that is curried, fragrant with cumin, and generally addictive. It tastes like home, and this is the best recipe that I can find to duplicate them. Of course, unless you are my old neighbors, who make the OG awesome kouros. In which case, I love you G family, and not JUST for the kouros. 

20150411_190833 Home brewed beer for a wedding

Ukuleles, tofu pastrami Reubens, and exposed beams…I went to a wedding this weekend that was so Brooklyn, it was almost an episode of “Girls.” It was touching, funny, hip, and incredibly stylish. It was also stocked with home brewed beer. SO cool.
20150411_102520 Holy Schmitt’s horseradish

HOLY SCHMITT…THIS STUFF IS INCREDIBLE. I love horseradish and this is, hands down, the best I have ever had. Superior to any restaurant or commercially available variety. Nose searing, earthy, almost woodsy horseradish. The beet version is sweet and the mustard version would be GREAT on a grilled cheese or roast beef sandwich.
20150411_102736 They both kicked up our classic Passover pate about a mile. I can’t wait to buy more of this stuff stat. 

See ya tomorrow!

Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette

It’s been a long time since I posted this vinaigrette dressing, and it’s something that I make at least once a week. So, here ya go:

Here is how to make a quick and easy salad dressing that is healthier, cheaper, and about one million times more delicious than any of the bottled vinaigrettes that you have in your fridge. It’s perfect on salads, sandwiches, and mixed into mayonnaise for a party dip. Try not to drink it with a straw. 

Classic Vinaigrette

 

Ingredients

-1 tbsp. mustard (I love a fruity one, but honey dijon or grainy is also great)

-1/3 cup olive oil (a lemon or herb infused one is really nice, while chile or garlic can be overpowering)

                                                              -3 tbsp. vinegar (balsamic, sherry, red wine, port, fig…anything  A wine-y dijon mustard works well with a lighter red wine vinegar.  Sweet mustard matches with a heavier, darker vinegar.  Spicy mustard pairs well with sweet fig or sherry vinegar.  Experiment and see what works for you!)

-salt and pepper to taste

-1 diced shallot or 1/2 diced sweet Vidalia onion

1. Combine the onions/shallots and olive oil.

 

 

2. Add the vinegar. 

3. Add the mustard and whisk, baby, whisk. 

  

4. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings. 

5. Now just pour that dressing over your salad and enjoy. 

This is so tasty. It’s light, tangy, bright, and not too sharp. You can add some sugar but I never think that it needs any sweetness. I love it and often add herbs or some Romano cheese to the mix. 

And I do sometimes spoon it straight out of the jar. 

So, what the hell, you can, too. 

Run, Don’t Walk, to Salumeria Rosi

How have I lived on the UWS and never been to Salumeria Rosi?

What a GEM! Let’s take a look:

20150408_115753 A veritable feast of gourmet and artisanal meats, cheeses, and prepared salads at the front of the store. A friendly and competent counter person offered to help me, but I told her that I was there to eat.  20150408_115800 The dining room is unexpectedly chic. Modern and sleek, with good lighting and some bar seating with comfortable chairs. It seems more like a Tribeca haunt than one on the UWS. 
20150408_123849 Large meat plate

 House made mortadella, soft prosciutto, super spicy cappaciole, and salami kissed with spicy peppercorns. This is a very good and ample meat platter. 

That’s what she said. 

For realsies, though – get this and let the chef go wild with what’s best – there’s no way to lose.

20150408_125657 Pancetta roasted Brussels sprouts. 

Simple and divine all at once. Tiny nuggets of sprouts, tender and almost creamy beneath a shattering, crispy skin. Juicy nuggets of pancetta. Salty, fatty, crunchy, cruciferous. These are a must order as long as they are on the menu.
20150408_125700 Caprese salad

WONDERFUL mozzarella elevates this classic dish. Sweet tomatoes, tangy balsamic, and a tangle of sharp greens and basil, but the glory is to that mozzarella. Luscious, rich, creamy, and bursting with fresh, milky flavor. This is a must get.

Actually, everything here is a must get. The prices are shockingly reasonable (including a hanger steak for under $20), the surroundings are lovely enough for a date or special night, and the food is just delicious. Run, don’t walk, to this very special shop. I can’t wait to come back, shop at the front grocery section, and try more dishes.

Till then, I’ll be having mortadella dreams. 

5 Easy Ways to Throw an Impromptu Cocktail Party

5 Easy Ways to Throw an Impromptu Cocktail Party

Because I was recently reminded that any time that people come over for a friendly drink is a chance to remind them that you are the host(ess) with the most(ess).

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1. Warm olives in olive oil over the pan with dried rosemary/herbs de provence

Hands down the EASIEST way to seem gourmet. Just take any ole’ can (or even jar) of olives, throw them into some olive oil over low heat and warm for 5 minutes or so – until the olives are fragrant and the oil is warm. Add the herbs for the last 2 minutes or so, making sure that they don’t burn. Serve in ramekins with any bread you have and bada boom – you’re Martha Stewart with a bar snack.

2. Cool beer/wine quickly

Not my tip, check out Crazy Russian Hacker for the greatest tip…maybe ever? Just load up on a couple of those compressed air canisters at an office supply store and you will never have to put ice cubes in your Sauvignon Blanc again. 

3. Boil cinnamon water

Cher was right…men (and women) DO like to smell something baking. But who has time for that? Throw some cinnamon into a pot of boiling water and your house will smell better than you ever knew imaginable. Feel free to throw some cloves and/or orange rind in there, too. It looks like swamp water but it is a delicious scent that envelops your home in just 15 minutes. This even covers the scent of fish in case you made salmon for lunch. 

4. Sweetened condensed milk in coffee/espresso

Maybe it’s a coffee date, not cocktail hour. Don’t worry about fresh milk or even sugar. If you pull out a can of sweetened condensed milk and stir it into your guests’ coffee or tea, they will think that you are an angel from culinary heaven. It’s sweeter and more delicious than any milk or cream could be and it lasts until infinity in your pantry. 

Plus, leftovers mean that you can finish the can as a midnight snack. 

5. Cream cheese and truffle honey

I made this once for the foodiest gal that I know because I didn’t have any good cheese in the house. I served it with leftover pita chips. It was astoundingly good – she couldn’t stop raving and didn’t believe that it was lowly cream cheese. Throw some lavender salt in there if you have it lying around for an extra layer of fragrant flavor. Serve it with grapes, crackers, crudites…whatever!

The Jewbano at The Comfort: A Destination-Worthy Sandwich

This is a one-food post. And it’s about a food that I don’t even get to eat this week. #ThanksPassover.

But I tried it last week and…um…it merits some recognition .

It’s the Jewbano sandwich at The Comfort

This lower east side diner looks like any cute cafe with fresh salads, homemade chicken soup, and creamy mac-and-cheese. It is unassuming and casual. It doesn’t at all let you know what rests inside its hallowed walls.

Behold: The Jewbano:

jewbano

via The Comfort’s Facebook page

House roasted turkey – juicy and soft with a nice layer of fat. 

Katz’s pastrami – well, we all know how I feel about this. The Comfort is the only joint outside of Katz’s that is allowed to use this proprietary pastrami in a sandwich. 

Guss’ pickles – simply the best. Tart, tangy, sour

Swiss cheese – and none too skimpy with it!

Deli mustard – because we aren’t heathens, after all. 

Kossar’s bulka – buttery, onion-y, soft but dense enough to absorb the sandwiche’s juices. 

This is bliss. It is ideally constructed. Salty pastrami, sour pickles, that tang of mustard and melted cheese. This is what you want after a night at the clubs, after a morning of tough meetings, or pretty much any time.

Especially during Passover.

I can’t wait to have one next week.

First Nights of Passover Eats

Happy (belated!) Easter and Passover, y’all!

I am not having my seder until next weekend (best part about Passover is multiple nights to celebrate!), so here is what I enjoyed this weekend:

20150402_123531 Schwarma eggroll from Olympic Pita

Don’t worry, I had this before Passover. And it’s awesome! Spiced, tender beef inside a flaky, crunchy, old fashioned NYC style egg roll wrapper. Dip it in the creamy tahini served alongside and prepare to be in heaven. The portion is huge – one of these and a side of Moroccan carrots and you’re good to go.  20150403_191933 Cheese platter from Ardesia

No bread for me this week. But that cheese is WONDERFUL. Nutty goudas and creamy triple cremes and truffle honey…it’s a cheese lovers delight. It changes all of the time and the portion is really ample. Plus, the night that I went, there was a special bottle of wine open and they were selling glasses – how fun! I would never spend enough money to buy the bottle, but a glass – sure! I love Ardesia and don’t know why it isn’t on more “must visit” lists.  20150405_092045 Matzoh Brei at The Smith

This place can do no wrong. Gotta love a joint that knows that you can’t eat waffles and has this as a special. A bit more matzoh and less egg than I prefer, but still delicious – sweet onions, fresh herbs, cool sour cream. Highly recommended.

Now I’m off to buy all of those 75% discounted jellybeans!