L’Shana Tova 2014

L’Shana Tovah, y’all!

It’s a pretty big week for those of us who are Members of the Tribe, so I’m taking the day to spend with my family. I made some awesome food last night, but if I were making it tonight, I might make some…

Honey Mustard Roast Chicken

or some Brisket

with some Mashed Potato Souffle

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and maybe some Creamed Spinach, too.

See you tomorrow for more eats and treats.

That Time I Got to Go to The University Club

I went to a wedding the other night, and the bride knew that I was going to remark on the food.

I mean…how could I not? I’m not getting back in here anytime soon!

This shindig was held at The University Club…ultra fancy, ultra swanky – the kind of place that Jay Gatsby would risk hell and high water to frequent. It’s an immense building on 5th Avenue and the look is all dark wood, heavy tapestries, and gilded fixtures…you know the type.

I was SO glad that I put on deodorant…this isn’t the type of spot where stank will go undetected.

When we got upstairs to the ornate dining room, we were starving and I have to say that I didn’t know what to expect. Could a place this fancy and old school have food that would be appealing to the couples’ food savvy friends?

In a word – yup!

20140920_202337 Mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes

This is as delicious as something that I would make at home, after carefully sniffing tomatoes at the farmers market and schlepping downtown to get tender mozzarella. This tastes like it was made by hand by someone who really cares about ingredients – who chose tart cherry tomatoes and sweet heirloom ones to compliment each other. Who dressed the room temperature mozzarella in a spicy olive oil and plenty of pepper. This is simple and delightful. The last of summer’s tomatoes to usher in the first of the new couple’s tomorrows.

Wow…when I am good, I am GOOD.
20140920_212800 Rack of lamb au jus with wilted spinach and roasted potatoes

This lamb isn’t just wedding good…it’s RESTAURANT good! I don’t think it was the 2 martinis (because who DOESN’T love an open bar, amirite?), I think that it was just an excellently made plate. The lamb is medium rare -pink almost to the edges but not bloody or raw. It’s deep and robust, with peppery, rosemary scented jus that just cries out for those roasted potatoes. The lamb was really spectacular – I’m telling you that I couldn’t stop eating it.
20140920_222001 Dessert buffet

The piece de resistance was the entirely gluten free dessert buffet. Creamy creme brulee, vibrant macarons, airy chocolate mousse, and more. As much as you wanted, all in tiny, bite size servings.

Actually, this whole meal was gluten free and prepared and presented so well that if I hadn’t known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have even guessed it. The pacing and service is excellent, the setting is stunning and the food is modern and delicious.

Unfortunately, you have to be a member to have your wedding there, but if you are or if you get invited there…I highly recommend dieting the week before. Because this is one wedding meal thta you will want to eat.

In and Around NYC This Weekend

After a week in the Berkshires here at Fritos and Foie, let’s wrap it up with a few awesome things to eat and do around NYC this weekend:

New York Bagel

House Trip NYC (IN ASSOCIATION WITH HOUSE TRIP)

This vacation rental site, popular in Europe, has created an NYC-centric food guide. I am featured with some of my fave restaurants and shopping tips, but more importantly, there are some other awesome foodies and bloggers featured – they have pointers that I have already taken to heart! The site is super user-friendly – there is an interactive map, a recipe section, and information separated into restaurants and local markets. Definitely check it out when you are deciding where to dine this weekend.

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North Festival by Honest Cooking

This festival is like a mini NYCWFF with classes, dinners, and other tasting events, all focused around Scandinavia. Though most of the events are over, you can still check out some cool events today and tonight. There’s a Danish dinner with wine pairings tonight and a special menu at Oceana with dishes like Norwegian fjord trout and grilled whole sterling halibut. If you are a seafood fiend like I am, one of these events might be up your alley!

Real Life Central Perk

I’m not a major Friends fiend, but even so, this is pretty cool. It is apparently a mini museum of the famous coffee joint where every girl who had a Rachel haircut yearned to lounge and drink lattes. There is a continuous loop of Friends episodes playing on the TV, original props like the big orange couch and gold espresso machine, and even free coffee on offer. This is mostly a gift shop with a small side of beverages, but I know that my sister will be parked there all weekend, so maybe that’s your thing,too.

And if you leave NYC…

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Do not get a Whopper on your road trip. They just aren’t as good as you remember.

My Favorite Food Blogs

Didja ever look over to the left of your computer screen?

You know, that little bar with a list of the blogs that I like? Well, I don’t just look at other blogs here and there. I don’t just check out the stuff other people write when I am waiting in the airport for a delayed flight. I live off this stuff. I read blogs incessantly. I get ideas from blogs, I get inspired by blogs, I learn about food, and I virtually meet some pretty awesome people.

New blogs pop up all the time, but these ones…these are my favorites.

Why?

Well, I’m glad you asked:

The Amateur Gourmet

I cannot say enough about this blog. When Adam Roberts came on the blogging scene in 2004, food blogs weren’t really a thing. Not like they are now, anyway. Most food sites were run by professional chefs or restrauters. If you didn’t know how to hold a knife like a chef, buy mushrooms at a farmers’ market like a forager, and cook a souffle like Julia Child, you just bought a couple of cookbooks and practiced your craft continuously until you felt like you could kind of…maybe…put together an okay meal.

Adam changed all that.

He flat out said that he was an amateur. That not everything he made turned out well, or even edible. That he was learning as he went, from scandalous cupcake to life-changing broccoli. And, a few books and about a gazillion fans (including many professional chefs)later…well, he has become the patron saint of all of us who just know what we like to eat. He updates continuously and shares his personal and professional life with us. He walks us through complicated recipes and talks about techniques that he has developed himself. He shares his personal joys and triumphs with us. He once wrote a post that was so profound that it moved me – who faints when I even hear about anyone famous – to approach him on a crowded subway train and tell him how much it affected me. Of course, he and his now-fiance Craig couldn’t have been sweeter or more invested in my thoughts on the post. Whether he is writing about “The Sound of Music” plates that he bought second-hand or once-in-a-lifetime meals that he shares in comic strip form, reading his blog is part therapy, part comedy, all delicious.

An Immovable Feast
An Immovable Feast

Even though Justin has stopped writing his blog, I will never take his blog of my blogroll. This guy eats the way that you want to eat. You know that he does. He cooks juicy burgers and spicy chili. He wraps cold cuts and cheese in phyllo dough and bakes it. He is a fast food connoisseur, with enough condiment packets to make up a museum. He takes drool worthy pictures and was the BEST at answering comments and questions that you posted. He is a cool guy, a major foodie, and his blog is still some of the best reading out there. If I were you, I would start at the beginning and just work my way through. Don’t  be surprised if you start craving hangar steak about 3 pages in.

Ristorante Morini
Feisty Foodie

Yvo is one of my dear friends, so I really can’t say that my view is unbiased. But she is – absolutely! – the grand dame of NYC-centric food bloggers. She started in 2003 – that’s when Britney was single, Twitter wasn’t even a twinkle in Ashton’s eye, and twerking was just a made up word. She was visiting restaurants right and left and writing about them in a no holds barred way. Yvo doesn’t sugar coat – if she doesn’t like the food or the waitstaff, she will say so. And then – the best part – she will say why. She explains why she doesn’t like the steak or exactly how the server was rude. She puts out controversial opinions and holds her own in her comments. She loves a good debate and will stand up fiercely for her own opinions while taking into account other people’s opinions – I have yet to change her mind, but I have had fun trying! I started reading her because she was simply so prolific, but she is an example of how someone you meet online through a mutual passion can really become a real life friend. Though most of her posts are about restaurants, some are home cooking, and a very few are about her personal life. She writes about some of her most personal moments in a raw, poignant voice, and though those pieces are often hard to read, they are also my favorite. To read her blog is to know Yvo – her funny, witty, sarcastic, and food-loving self – and I can’t recommend more that you take the time!

King Crab Salad / Monkfish Liver / Smoked Salmon and Mango with Caviar
Kevin Eats

Food porn. Bada boom. The best, most beautiful pictures of food that I want to eat in LA and beyond. His writing is good, but his choice of restaurants and phototgraphy of the food is excellent. If you are going anywhere he has been, you simply MUST check out the blog and follow his advice. He has never steered me wrong, and is great about responding to comments. His taste in sushi is especially reliable and refined.


Midtown Lunch

I used to live and work right here, and this was everything to me. It was all of the weird little places that I didn’t know existed, the food trucks that looked too crowded, and the restaurants that I loved. It has expanded to different cities now, but to me, it will always be Midtown Lunch. It’s unpretentious, straightforward, and sometimes on the rowdy side of bawdy. It won’t win any literary or photography awards, but it’s just what you need when you are in midtown and can’t handle the thought of one of those dried out turkey paninis from Panera. It’s still useful and I refer to it all the time when people ask me where they can eat dinner before a Broadway show.


Serious Eats

The Bible. I remember reading it when it was Ed Levine’s NY Eats, and it has only gotten better. The best, funniest writers. The coolest taste tests. The best food hacks. The quick answers to questions you may have and the behind the scenes looks and what makes the site work. If you want to learn how to make a complicated lasagna or a super easy grilled cheese, this is your spot. Vegan? Great! Pizza aficionado? They have got ya covered there, too. If you like to eat…you go here. It’s Chowhound with more stories and pictures and fewer threads. It’s da best.

What are some of your favorite blogs? Besides this one, duh.

September – The 4th Month of Summer

Is it actually September? Who cares?! Eat like summer lasts forever!

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The watermelon and feta salad from The Smith

Yes, I know that I go here all the time, but it’s just so delicious. Love the buzzy vibe, the buzzier drinks, and the seasonal and reliable menu. Watermelon season is rapidly coming to a close, so enjoy this salad while you can! Sweet watermelon with freshly cracked pepper and coarse salt is one of life’s great pleasures – sweet and savory defined. Paired with delicate microgreens, juicy tomatoes, and some crumbly, piquant feta, it really hits the spot for a light lunch. Don’t overlook the drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar, perfect for swiping with some of the excellent tabletop French bread.

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Guacamole at Rosa Mexicano

Though the dinner fare here was generally overpriced and unimpressive, the guacamole was legitimate! It’s made tableside to your specifications – extra spicy, no cilantro, squeeze of lemon instead of lime…your wish is their command. It’s as fresh as it comes, and once you have had a margarita, the presentation really qualifies as dinner theater. I would come here for some guac and drinks and go elsewhere for a main course.

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Claw Daddy’s

I haven’t eaten here yet, but I had to miss a press event this week and I. Was. BUMMED! Just click over and look at the menu – it’s all shellfish all the time! Louisiana home cookin’ at its finest – crawfish, 2 kinds of crab, lobster, gumbo…come to mama! I can’t wait to try this restaurant soon – have any of y’all been there? (PS, I haven’t been compensated for this post in any way…I just think it looks super awesome and after my trip to New Orleans last year, I am always looking for good N’awlins food!)

Let’s jump into what I am now calling the last month of summer!

Bites to Savor This Weekend and Beyond!

Food I’m enjoying around town:

20140525_195750 Chocolate mint ice cream bar from Treat House

Generally, I find these gourmet Rice Krispy treats overpriced and dry – nothing beats licking the spoon of some still warm, freshly made treats. But this ice cream version does surprisingly well. The ice cream is what kicks it up the notch – it’s really, sharply minty 0 this is a grown up’s treat. It’s coated in a thick layer of crisp chocolate and the “cookies,” which are really Rice Krispy treats, provide a crunchy, chewy counterpart. This is a fun, light ending to a meal out on the UWS.
20140809_115858 Haul from Tucker Square Greenmarket

SUNGOLD TOMATOES SUNGOLD TOMATOES SUNGOLD TOMATOES. This year, the sungolds are INSANE. Sweet, light, juicy, firm…they are perfect raw and even better slowly roasted. The peaches are just going out of season now, but you can still find some wonderful late season ones - yellow peaches;  the whites have been super mealy. Tiny bell peppers and sheep’s milk cheeses in pungent blue and tangy yellow. This farmer’s market is never too crowded and never too expensive – the vendors are lovely and invite you to try anything that looks delicious and the variety is usually excellent. Give it a go, and say hi if you see me! 20140819_184057 20140819_191126 Mexican food at Dahlia’s

Nothing groundbreaking, but there are strong margaritas, fair prices, and an adorable patio looking over Harrison Street – worth the price of admission! You have to savor this sunlight as long as you can – September is upon us and this lovely weather will be but a memory sooner than we can imagine. The guacamole is plentiful and not crazy expensive and the menu is full of lots of familiar Tex-Mex fare – order up and enjoy!

I Pushed Publish…Right?

Um, no…no, I did not. I clearly THOUGHT that I pushed “publish” until this very moment in time. So sorry about that…I will save it for tomorrow when, more likely than not, y’all will check back!

Creamy Moroccan Carrot Soup

I have been on a carrot streak lately.

Roasting them with hot chile paste. Shredding them into coleslaw mix. Dipping them into blue cheese dressing, au naturel.

And making them into this decidedly un-summery soup. It’s vegetarian and extremely easy to make – in an hour or so, you have a homemade, creamy, comforting soup with zam-pow punch that will knock you off your feet.

Creamy Moroccan Carrot Soup

2011-12-18 tsimis brisket liver hummus latkes Ingredients:

1 lb. peeled and roughly chopped carrots (yes, I used the baby ones…it’s easy, so kill me.)

1 tbsp. veggie oil

1 onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 bunch celery, chopped

2 tsp. grated ginger, fresh or frozen but not dried

2 tsp-1 tbsp. harissa paste (no tomato in the mix)

2 good glugs of ketchup

2 tbsp. ras el hanout

6 cups chicken stock

cream, salt, and pepper to taste

cilantro to garnish

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1. Get those onions, garlic, and celery, in the olive oil over medium heat. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are softened and start to turn translucent.

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2. Add the carrots, the chicken stock, harissa paste, ras el hanout, and ketchup. Yes, ketchup. Trust me, it’s the secret star ingredient. Stir and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Check once, halfway through, to make sure that he veggies aren’t burning to the bottom of the pan.

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3. Using an immersion blender, bend the carrots when they are mushy and falling apart. Add some cream and taste for seasonings. I always add a lot of pepper and just a touch of salt.

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4. Garnish with cilantro and serve

This soup will cure what ails you. It takes ginger carrot soup to the next level. Ras el Hanout is a North African spice mixture that includes ginger, cumin, corinader, and many other spices. It’s floral, earthy, and fragrant. It is flavorful but not at all spicy – that’s where the harissa comes in. Just use a little because it’s quite potent! And the ketchup….oh, that’s the ticket. It provides a totally unidentifiable sweet, bright backnote. It’s sweet, bright, and brings  a whole new flavor dimension to the creamy soup. Don’t skimp on the cilantro at the end – I thought it was optional, but then I added it and was like – oh. Yeah. This is very important. Mhm.

And this soup altogether is very important for making my carrot obsession seem totally legit. Mhm.

Dates, Booze, and Haggis Crisps!

Here are some tasty treats I have enjoyed at home recently – be aware, a couple of them are from the honeymoon and so will have to be ordered online if you want to try them.

20140508_154105 Bateel

This shop on posh New Bond street in London is a treasure trove for foodies from the USA. It specializes in all things date – at least 5 varieties that I have never even heard of, and they all come from Saudi Arabia. What’s the last time that you had a date from Saudi Arabia? They range from taut and juicy to sticky and sweet, with the thinnest skins I have ever tasted. These dates are unlike any I have had in the USA, and you can get them enrobed in chocolate, laid in marzipan, or baked into cookies. Whatever dates you desire, Bateel can deliver. This is always my first stop in London and I never escape without spending waaay too much money.
20140630_190300 BuzzBar

These alcoholic ice cream bars premiered at the Fancy Food show and they have the alcohol equivalent of half a mixed drink. They are also DELICUIOUS…just like your favorite Haagen Dazs bar infused with a slight kick of your favorite alcohol. I loved the vanilla and cognac bar, with its creamy interior and thick, crispy chocolate coating. Check out the site for more flavors and lets all pray together that this comes to stores soon – because happy hour with ice cream is so much happier. 

haggis & cracked black pepper

Haggis potato chips (photo from website)

Oh. Em. Gee. I love Haggis, the offal and oatmeal mixture boiled in a sheep’s stomach. It tastes like scrapple mixed with stuffed derma, and I could eat it every night for dinner. But, if you are squeamish about things like lungs (weirdo…), get your fix with these awesome chips from Scotland! They are thick cut and very peppery – much more so than American chips, which always seem to go light on the pepper. The haggis flavor comes through in meaty, savory flavors – it’s a potato chip with the aftertaste of steak. But in a good way, not the weird way that it sounds. These are SO fantastic dipped in sour cream or eaten next to a burger.

Or, you know, straight out of the bag

Happy eating weekend!

1984-2014

That’s right, I turn the big 3-0 today!

That means I’m taking the day off to spend with family, friends, and Geritol.

However, I will see you back Monday, because this eating weekend will be EPIC!!

Have a great weekend!