My Chametz-Free Eats

Tonight is the end of Passover – congratulations, participating Members Of the Tribe! You did it!

Did your week look like mine?

Did you make the world’s easiest beef stew with kosher for Passover meat?

20140419_100031

I have never knowingly bought kosher meat of any sort, besides hot dogs. It’s always so expensive, and I’m like…what’s the last time that something kosher was more delicious?

But I’ll be damned if this wasn’t some phenomenal beef stew. It wasn’t the rest of the ingredients – only onions, garlic, red wine, broth, tomato paste, and spices. Yet, the taste was so rich and hearty ans the meat was SO tender and juicy that it stood out from other, much more complicated stews. I just chucked all of this in the slow cooker and let it cook for 6 hours. My dinner guests were impressed and so was I. It’s not just the chosen people…it really is the chosen beef.

Did you eat the world’s best salad?

20140419_203036

So simple and so tasty. Fresh lettuce (red oak or Boston Bibb is best), avocado, candied pralines, diced green apples, paper-thin slices of red onion, and a very bracing sherry vinaigrette. The key here is that vinaigrette – it must really stand up to the creamy avocado and sweet candied nuts. Additionally, it kind of cooks the onions and reduces the bite, making for a wonderfully textured and flavored salad with no one flavor overpowering the other.

Did you eat multiple servings of potatoes and dairy on a daily basis?

20140415_124543

This happened way too many times for my own good. 

And to those of you who don’t abstain from chametz…be prepared. The rest of us are taking over bakeries and pizzerias tonight with a vengeance.

Passover and Easter Hostess Gifts

Passover is in full swing chez Fritos and Foie Gras, and I know that Easter is this Sunday.

Truth be told, my family is holding our seder this Saturday, even though it’s a little late in the game – growing up, my dad didn’t have a 9-5 job and we didn’t always know ahead of time when he would be home. So, we always held our Seder on the weekend that covered Passover, and it’s something that just stuck!

So, if you are attending a Seder or an Easter egg hunt this weekend, you might want to know some treats to bring? Have no fear, here are some of my favorite holiday appropriate hostess gifts.

Just remember…you have to gie them to the hostess. So that means that if you throw the shindig…you are in LUCK!

Macarons from La Maison du Chocolat

The perfect chametz-free treat. These aren’t cheap, but they are among the best in town.  They are almost as good as what I have had in Paris. Exceptionally light on the outside and rich on the inside. The cookies are crisp and airy, with just a touch of chew, and the ganache is very rich and creamy. The flavors are also excellent – the passion fruit is bright and tangy, the pistachio is nutty and creamy, and the chocolate is so dark  and handsome that you will probably run away and marry it.

via

Spanikopita from Poseidon Bakery

This year, Greek Orthodox EAster and WEstern Easter fall on the same day – that almost never happens! To celebrate, why not indulge in your Greek side with what is, without a doubt, the best Geek bakery in America? This is the last bakery int he country to hand make its own phyllo dough,with nothing weird or unpronounceable added to it. It’s a tiny shop owned by a family who will direct you to the best pastries and treats. The baklava is memorable, with layers of crispy dough soaked in honey and chopped walnuts, and there are other pastries soaked in sugar syrup and filled with creamy custard, but I love the savory pastries the most. Parcels filled with meat, with cheese, with vegetables, and with all three; in cylinders, in tubes, in squares. The spanikopita is of course the best known, and this creamy, garlicky pastry is just to die for. It’s rich and savory, with fragrant dill, sauteed onions, and creamy feta cheese. It’s seemingly perfect.

Scratch that. It IS perfect.

IMG_20131122_102224_470

Lemon poppy seed doughnut from Doughnut Plant

Simply the best doughnuts in NYC. Better than any doughnuts in the world except for Krispy Kremes and the honey soaked zalabia that I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I was in Cairo.

These yeast doughnuts from Doughnut Plant are phenomenal in their own right – airy, squishy, and loaded with pure, bright, tart lemony flavor and crunchy poppy seeds. They are such an update on the classic lemon poppy seed muffin that you may never be able to order that basket for Grandma for Mother’s Day again. She will like these doughnuts more anyway. They have an extra layer of sugary, sticky glaze that is the perfect amount of sweet to counteract the lemon. Count on 2 per person and count on a nap afterwards.

IMG_20131215_145110_551

Lamb Pie from Tuck Shop

The traditional Easter food in a hand held package! I haven’t actually tried this version, but I am a big fan of their other pies, and would be willing to be that this one has the same flaky, buttery crust and well seasoned inside with tender meat and fresh vegetables. Plus, you don’t need to slather this with acid-green mint jelly to make it palatable.

#winning.

Lemon egg-ceptional from Pomme Palais

I’ve said it before and I have said it again. I work here, but the lemon eggceptional really is one of a kind. It’s tasty, it’s beautiful, and it’s something that even kids will take delight in eating. Plus, could there be anything more seasonal for the spring? It’s perfectly sweet and light, and I can’t anyone disliking it.

If they do, shun them instantly.

Happy holidays!

What is my Excuse?

I have 2 posts waiting to be published. I couldn’t believe that I didn’t post Friday, and when I realized (in shock and fear) that I hadn’t posted today, I knew that something was wrong. 

Luckily, I am skilled in the art of self diagnosing. 

I am getting married in way, way less than a month’s time.

Via Urban Dictionary:

Bride Brain

A less invasive, but more expensive version of a frontal lobotomy. Experienced by most brides, as they enter a catatonic state which renders them incapable of sustaining any thought or conversation that does not involve cake, caterers, flowers, wedding dress designers, Chinese wedding dress knockoff designers, updo’s, hair pieces, color schemes, wedding themes, and personalized M&M’s.
Bride Brain symptoms include, but are not limited to, driving erratically because they can’t stop staring at their shiny diamond ring; being amused by the resentment of all their single girlfriends, rewinding songs several hundred times while imagining themselves walking down the aisle, and starvation induced bitchiness which is generally followed by late night binging at a Dairy Queen. (Note that this can only occur outside of the bride’s native geographic area, where they can’t possibly run into anyone they know).

Symptoms are ordinarily well controlled with valium, alcohol and endless hours of watching youtube “first dance” videos.

I have avoided it for a long time but I have been struck by the dreaded bride brain. I have contracted a stress-related illness, have hit my head HARD getting into cabs twice last weeks, have snapped at everyone from my dad to my sweet front desk person (I apologized), and have generally lost my damn mind.
I doubt I will forget to post again. But in case I do…I am so sorry. Coming up tomorrow, the pizza of my youth.

Texas de Brazil and Maoz – My Favorite Salad Bars!

Really quickly: 2 different restaurants that I am loving:

1. Maoz
20140330_122755 This casual, counter service import from Amsterdam has some killer French Fries, well spiced shawarma, and the make-your-own falafel sandwich or salad of your DREAMS. A killer salad bar with cumin scented carots, tangy cabbage salad, tabbouleh, roasted cauliflower, and a litany of sauces. Creamy tahini, cooling yogurt, garlic sauce so potent that it might make or break you night, hot sauce so potent and fiery that it makes your toes curl. Herby, bright broccoli and fresh cilantro laden salsa. Don’t forget the inexpensive but delicious hummus and babaganoush you can add to your salad bar. And, of course, the fried eggplant, with silky innards and a crispy shell.

20140330_122513

The falafel sandwich starts like this…

20140330_122748

and should end like this, covered in pickles, sauces, and vegetables from the salad bar. It’s all included (one trip only, except for more sauce), so don’t worry. The falafel is piping hot, fragrant with cumin and parsley, an served in a fluffy pita with crisp romaine. This inexpensive place ain’t Israel, but it surely feds the yen when I am stateside.

20140329_192947

2. Texas de Brazil

Remember I said I had been to a Brazilian steakhouse? Well, I am now obsessed with them and this is the best one I have been to by FAR! Modern, clean (though, truth be told, a little “mall chic”) decor, extremely well informed waitstaff, and the food is about 19 times better that the other place. A smaller but better curated salad bar filled with imported cheeses, all varieteis of spicy peppers, a soup of the day, creamy pottaoes gratin, and a host of other items. Don’t miss those tiny red peeppers that are spicy enough to rip off your top layer of lip skin or the creamy, sweet poatoao salad – almost as good as Hawaiian potato salad!

20140329_194033 The meat here is even better than the salad bar. Tender lamb chops, garlicky sausage, and the flavorful, perfectly medium rare house cut ribeye are standouts. Avoid the pork products, but everything else is commendable. And don’t miss the mini chicken Parmesan that comes around on skewers towards the end of the meal.

 I am never going to fit into my wedding gown, am I?

 

48 Phenomenal Hours at the Trump SoHo

Okay, I won’t tease you any longer.

I promised a full review of the Trump Soho, so here it is:

via

Public Spaces

Gorgeous. Sleek, elegant, dark, and very chic. It’s all angles, mirrors, and sleek wood. There is nothing shabby chic or rustic about this place – it’s all NYC all the way. The people who stay here all seem to have “resting bitch face,” but that’s because most of them are models and haven’t eaten since “Friends” was on the air. The staff is fabulous (more on that later), and there are tons of places to sit and play on your phone while you wait for your date to meet you for dinner. BTW, hit up the in-house restaurant, Koi. for dinner – it’s one of my favorites.

photo 1 (20)

photo 5 (9)

photo 3 (15)

photo 2 (25)

photo 4 (17) Rooms

A really mixed bag. The room itself (we were upgraded – more on that in a minute) is exquisite – beautifully laid out with sumptuous linens, the softest bed I have felt in a hotel in ages, and a bathroom that has a huge mirror looking out over the Empire State Building. The bathroom is so big that there is a CHAIR in it, you guys. Which is perfect or when you are brushing your teeth and just want to take a load off. There is a state of the art espresso machine,a  full wet bar setup, and a really cool sliding wall that totally separates the bedroom and the living room into 2 separate rooms. There is a tv in the bathroom, 2 flat screens in the bedroom and living space, and floor to ceiling windows that make it hard to turn on any of them.

photo 5 (8)

photo 2 (24)

The views are stunning – from sunrise to sunset they showcase the finest views that NYC has to offer, from the sparkling Hudson to the iconic Empire State Building – just ignore the hideous H and M logo that now mires our fair city’s skyline. That’s all the good. Now there’s some not so great. The water pressure is abysmal – the shower has a great shower head but it takes 20 minutes just to get your hair fully saturated. The sink in the bathroom was incredibly clogged – let the water run for more than 30 seconds and I ended up with a sink full of cloudy water. There were very few amenities in the bathroom - just the normal shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner. No lotion, no sewing kits, no toothbrushes. For these prices, these amenities should really be included. It’s not enough to tarnish my memory of the hotel, but it’s also a definite dark mark on what is otherwise a phenomenal room.

The Spa

Yikes. This is the iffy part of the review. It actually isn’t iffy, it’s really just negative. I had a wonderful experience so I don’t want to dwell on this, but suffice to say that the spa is not up to snuff with the rest of the ultra luxurious hotel. It’s small, ill laid out,and poorly equipped. the sauna is tiny, the steam room takes forever to warm up, and the pool is on an entirely different floor. It’s just not what I expect in accordance with the rest of the hotel.

photo 4 (16)

The Staff

The most fabulous aspect of this hotel and the one that made this hotel one to remember. From the moment we walked in the front door, we were treated as if we were Donald and Melania themselves, instead of two nobodies. They didn’t even know that I had a blog, let alone that I might write about it. When we walked in , we were offered warm lavender and lemon scented towels and bottles of water while we checked in. When we said that we were there for the bachelorette, our fabulous front desk person almost squealed in delight and called over the attache (concierge). The two of them immediately upgraded us to that ultra-luxe 1.5 bathroom suite and sent up a plate of the juiciest chocolate covered strawberries that I have ever seen. They fell over themselves trying to get us dinner reservations, helping my kick ass fiance send up a surprise bottle of champagne, and making sure that we were not disturbed when we got in after our fun night out. In fact, every person we dealt with at the hotel was extraordinarily helpful and friendly, from the chamber maid who serviced our room within the 45 minutes we left the room to the doorman who we had to beg to take a tip for catching us a cab. I have never received better service in any NYC hotel – it is almost Asian (How I miss you, Park Hyatt, Tokyo)in its service, that’s how great it is.

How would I rate the Trump SoHo? A solid 8. The spa and room amenities leave something to be desired. But the room service, staff, beautiful views, and sensational location make up for it. I would stay here again and in fact I plan to do so – my sister and I plan to make this a yearly trip.

See you in 358 days, Trump SoHo!

Fancy Chocolates and Down Home Meals

Here are the delicious bites I have recently enjoyed!

2012-12-03_19-25-22_318 Middle Eastern food at Cleopatra’s Needle

Live music, unpretentious clientele and a plethora of middle eastern food. On the rather chi-chi and sometimes buttoned up UWS, this is totally refreshing. Go for the garlicky hummus, the smoky babaganoush, or the grape leaves. I love these grape leaves – they are clearly made fresh to order with tart, taught  leaves surrounding a creamy rice and mint mixture. It’s not too pricey and it’s not too fancy, but you can sit down and enjoy a glass of wine. What winner.
IMG_20131022_120011_769 Short rib and Gruyere sandwich at Pomme Palais

Disclaimer – I work for the joint. And this pic has been posted before, but I just had this sandwich again and realized that I never wrote about it. It is so decadent. Tangy, nutty Gruyère cheese blanketing melt-in-your-mouth short ribs. Rich, fatty, and soft between slices of crunchy toast. Ask for some hot mustard on the side to add that nasal-searing quality that mimics horseradish and roast beef. Its’ getting warmer (so they SAY), so enjoy this gut buster while you may!
IMG_20140316_185110_884 Bond Street Chocolates

For the connoisseur in your life. Choose flavors like absinthe, tequila, and rum. They are all miniature jewels, made with shiny, almost bitter dark chocolate or creamy, smooth milk chocolate. The filings aren’t just plain liqueur – they are infused into creamy ganaches or crunchy nut butters. They come wrapped beautifully and are the perfect hostess gift. Just make sure it actually gets to the hostess before you dig in.

Anatomy of a Weekend

So, I finally got over my cold late last week. Thank goodness!

photo 3 (14)

Because what started out with this…

champers

proceeded to this….

IMG_20140316_241538_990

and then went here….

photo 2 (22)

and ended with a 1 AM one of these.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it was my bachelorette party and it was awesome! After my wedding is over I’m doing a major, thorough breakdown of all of the venues and services I used, but the sneak peek is that The Trump SoHo is a class act.

Now, I’m off to nurse that hangover and return to you tomorrow with more delicious eats!

Foods to Cure My Cold

Ugh. I soooo have a cold. Like, the sounding-like-Bea-Arthur, sleeping-amongst-used-tissues, someone-put-me-out-of-my-misery type of cold. 

But don’t worry, because at least my fiance has one too.

So we can be snotty and whiny and miserable together.

Because that’s love, people. 

So, I am on a very strict diet. There are a few things that will cure a cold – any cold! – faster than you can say “bring me more Vaseline for my disgusting dry skin on my nose.”

1. Red Bell Pepper (ignore the hue of this rudely orange one).

More Vitamin C than a glass of orange juice. I cut it into strips and eat it raw with hummus, for some added protein.

2. Anything spicy

Because clearing out those stuffed sinuses should at least be tasty, right? Plus, even if you are literally as sick as a dog, you can usually crawl out of bed for 10 minutes to make this Jazzed Up Miso Soup.

3. Chicken Stock

I have some in the freezer. But if you don’t, at least order some matzo ball soup from the nearby deli. Feel free to doctor it up with a smidge of freshly grated ginger and a handful of dill. It really is Jewish Penicillin.

2010_0714bermuda0106

4. Water 

I am a diet soda fiend. I drink it 24/7 and if I could, I would have it be the signature cocktail at my wedding. But when you aren’t well, your body needs pure H2O, the real stuff. Some lemon juice and carbonation helps. Even though it truly does lack those awesome chemical-y aftertastes…

5. Ice Cream

Because I’m sick…waaaaahhhh.

What are your surefire remedies?

*Also, the winner of the Nutella is: rue Random Number Generator  5Powered by RANDOM.OR

Comment #5, Ian! Ian, please email me to receive your jars of delicious, chocolate and hazlenut goodness!*

Foods to Avoid at All Costs

Originally published at Whisked Foodie

I understand cravings. I have them too, and usually, it isn’t that hard to fulfill them. Want grease? Go get a fast-food burger. Craving comfort food? Head to your local restaurant for some meatloaf. But sometimes, whether on the road or at home, I just make bad choices. Maybe it’s the hunger. Maybe it’s the proximity of the restaurant. Probably, it is just my inability to learn from my own mistakes. To avoid my catastrophic missteps, follow these tips for what not to eat:

connecticut 029

Don’t order clam chowder at any place that misspells words purposefully (case in point: Kaptain Kal’s Krazy Krab Kake.) See what I mean?

risotto and steak 080

Don’t get the steak at your 24-hour diner. If you want beef that badly, get a burger, but you are best off just sticking with waffles and eggs.

093

Don’t order biscuits if they are on a menu at a Chinese restaurant. Better yet, back away from the restaurant completely. The memory of a Kung Pao shrimp-flavored buttermilk biscuit from my youth haunts me to this very day.

479 and north carolina 428

Don’t order a salad at a drive-through. The lettuce is always rancid, the tomatoes are translucent, and it is impossible to eat it whilst in a car. If you want something healthy, don’t fool yourself: it’s a road trip. Just suck it up and get the fried chicken.

jules cleveland 005

For that matter, don’t order a salad at a random road stop when you are driving cross-country. The dressing will probably give you food poisoning. Please don’t ask how I know that. Just trust me.

Nutella Bridal Pancake Faces: #SpreadtheHappy

As a rule, I don’t develop recipes or write posts for a product exchange.

This is my business, and unless I am hired to write a post, I just don’t do it…If I can’t pay my cab driver with a jar of peanut butter, then you can’t pay me that way.

However…rules are made to be broken.

Especially if there is Nutella involved.

Nutella…who doesn’t love this stuff?

Maybe people who hate the first flowers of spring and the way that babies crinkle their tiny noses when they first learn to laugh?

Yeah, those must be the only people who hate Nutella.

Because the rest of us know that this hazelnut-chocolate spread is a gift from the heavens. I remember the first time that I had it was in French Class in 7th grade. My teacher gave us each an icy Orangina and a small piece of baguette smeared with thick, rich, creamy Nutella. Then she told us that French kids got to eat this bread and chocolate concoction for breakfast every single day.

All of a sudden, my oatmeal and scrambled eggs seemed pretty crappy.

That’s why when Nutella offered me the chance to participate in “Spread the Smiles” for Pancake Day, I was on it.

This isn’t really a recipe, it’s an art project.

Please keep in mind how much I hate art. I am so bad at it. That same year that I tried Nutella was the year that I got a B- in drawing…in DRAWING. 

However, I guess love for Nutella>hatred of art projects.

So here we go.

And…because I have weddings on the brain…I of course made a Nutella bride (silver dollar style, so I could rationalize eating 12 of them).

DSCN5584

1. Make your pancakes or nuke your frozen pancakes (I judge all the time but not for using frozen pancakes).

DSCN5589

2. Pipe out your tiny Nutella eyes, nose, and mouth (totally forgot the nose and added it in later).

DSCN5590

3. Spoon on your hair (ie, bangs made out of strawberry, pineapple, or apple butter  jam, according to the hair color you want).

DSCN5593 4. Pipe out your marshmallow fluff bridal veil.

DSCN5600 5. Eat and repeat at least 5 times.

You know that you want to create your own little bride, policeman, doctor, or president on your own. So here’s your chance!

Just leave a comment and I will randomly choose 2 winners on this Friday, May 7 at 6 pm to win 2 jars of Nutella!

Nutella: The only stuff that is bettr than money!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post. I have been given product to use and give away.