“COVID-19 Lockdown” Game Plan Week 2

Happy to say that Week 1 of the COVID-19 Lockdown was about 80% successful. I have been able to keep up with the steps which is essentially my meal schedule rather than food prep because my brain was not there to organize my meals. Part of that is just getting back into the groove and gaining momentum to eventually food prep for bigger and better meals.

Here are my pictures from last week’s game plan meals including the Rye French Toast:

Rye French Toast
Alpha Food Pot Pie Beefy Chedd’r (vegan)
Kodiak Cake Chocolate Chip Protein Waffles
Lentil Stew
Fettuccine with Mushroom and Steak Sauce
Fishpeople’s Cod with garlic parmesan potato bacon topping
Bacon wrapped carrots
Parmesan Bacon Orzo with Roasted Carrots and Onion

We have entered week 2 of the COVID-19 Lockdown and things in New York City has gotten worse. The lock down has now extended to another two weeks. There will be no Holy Week services, which I look forward too. However, I have been spiritually more involved in watching live streaming services online.

Given all that is going on I feel lucky and blessed. I am very thankful to God and the good spirits that I have a roof over my head and a job at least for two months. So making every effort to work for the glory of God because HE controls our fate.

In order to stay in compliance, my other half went to the supermarket while I worked from home. This week’s game plan also has ingredients from last week because there were some changes to the steps from last week.

We would love to hear any feedback regarding this week’s game plan. Stay tuned for pictures of my journey through this game plan. Everyone stay safe and may God Bless America!

Traditional Tuesday – French Toast

Today I am actually adhering to my COVID-19 game plan by making Rye French Toast. Given the pantry I have to date, I was researching the perfect french toast recipe. As a result, I ended up choosing the recipe from Food52. What I did was I cut the serving size in half. So this recipe here is for one person. But before I share this solo meal, I want to explore the history of this staple breakfast dish.

After reviewing sources of where the French toast originated, the earliest documentation of the dish goes back to the Roman empire (approximately the year 1 A.D.) which was called “Pan Dulcis”. This version is bread soaked in milk with or without egg prior to frying it in oil or butter.

Fifteen centuries later, the English and later the French reinvented and renamed this staple dish “Pain Perdu” meaning “lost bread” because this version utilizes stale bread and soaking it in milk and eggs then frying. The interpretation is losing the bread and transforming it into a complete dish comprised of protein (egg), calcium (milk) and carbohydrates (bread).

As I mention stale bread, this bread is preferred in Food52’s recipe, which I did not have. What I had was Pepperidge Farm Soft Jewish Rye Bread plus two eggs and olive oil.

Three ingredients – bread, eggs and olive oil
Take a piece of bread and dip it in the beaten egg. Let it soak for approximately thirty seconds.
Flip the bread and repeat previous step.
Heat pan and one tablespoon of olive oil. Place one side of the bread into the hot pan and let it sit for approximately 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
Flip bread over and repeat.
Bon Appetit! Cheers to French Toast with Three Ingredients!

If you have any questions or comments regarding this dish or ways to improve this dish, feel free to comment on this post. I am finally gaining some momentum back, maybe COVID-19 hysteria and being ordered to stay home has rejuvenated my interest and passion for food. Stay tuned for more….

“COVID-19 Lockdown” Game Plan

There is so much hysteria to the point that we are on the brink of becoming a martial law country. This lockdown game plan to “flatten the curve” is set up by NYC mayor and governor to hopefully reduce the number of new COVID-19 cases. As a result, I will be working my paid job, which funds this blog remotely. What does this mean?

This means I get the opportunity to hopefully reset and continue where I left off writing this blog. During the past few months I feel like I am getting ghosted by social media platforms such as Instagram. The only silver lining is that businesses and owner have liked my posts but there are so few of them.

When I launched this blog back in 2016, I had a vision that it would progressively grow and turn it into a career that is fulfilling and rewarding. Unfortunately I have experienced a lot of downfalls due to the lack of support and continuously fighting the powerful establishments and potential haters from the past who feel that they are entitled to any achievement on my own through emotional blackmail and spreading rumors by framing me as the evil, crazy and toxic person because I am finally free.

Still fighting the good fight as these people from the past who knew everything about me inside out are using it against me and taking credit for everything I have worked for including my degrees from Fordham, Hunter and University of Illinois. These same people are bragging to other people that without them I’ll never succeed. Ok..I’ll stop..

Given the circumstances that occurred the last month, normalcy on this end has come to a pause overall. However, I am very thankful to God and the good spirits that I have a roof over my head and a job at least for two months. So making every effort to work for the glory of God because HE controls our fate.

With the exponential increase of COVID-19 cases in NYC and in Long Island, and the origin of this debilitating and mysterious virus came from China, there is also an increase in hate crime against Chinese and Asian Americans because people are ignorant. I am thankful that I have not had that experience personally but given the fact that I am a first generation Asian American born in America with a background in public health and health communications that is passionate about food, culinary medicine, health, and research.

While COVID-19 is still hot press it is also an important public health issue because through health promotion, advocacy and communication communities are actually complying with the progressive martial law mandates such as social distancing, limiting store hours, working remotely and shutting down non-essential businesses. While these measures are implemented, the long term effects will be the disappearance of human social interaction that is essential to survival.

In order to stay in compliance, we went to the supermarket two days ago and brought 1-2 weeks worth of groceries. So without further ado and after hours of planning here’s the weekday game plan based on what’s available in the present moment:

We would love to hear any feedback regarding this week’s game plan. Stay tuned for pictures of my journey through this game plan. Everyone stay safe and may God Bless America!

Sunday Game Plan: NYC Restaurant week Winter 2020 & Long Island Restaurant Week

Happy Chinese New Year! So another health issues popped up and with one week of restaurant week already gone, it is time to give my game plan. This game plan is the Winter 2020 NYC Restaurant Week which began on January 21 and will end on Sunday February 9. Two course lunch/brunch is $26 and a three course dinner is $42.

After reviewing over 290 menus out of the 364 restaurants participating, there were a lot of restaurants continuing to participate plus several new ones. So, here is my plan for this year’s winter restaurant week adventure:

1) The Carlyle in the Upper East for dinner for two. This is the first time that they are participating for restaurant week. Definitely want to try their yellowfin tuna, beet salad, chicken, gnocchi and lavender creme brulee. In addition and it’s optional the wine pairing for all three dishes will be an additional $36.

2) Felidia in Midtown/Upper East Side is a great Italian restaurant with a connection to the Vatican because the owner Lidia Bastianich has served food to past three popes during their visits to New York. Personally I have eaten here this past summer for the Italian Restaurant Week and it will be interesting on how I will be treated because I experienced subtle inequality and slight discrimination when I dined there alone. Reservations go by very quickly.

3) Catch Steak is another restaurant under the Catch corporation located in Meatpacking is also participating in restaurant week for the first time for dinner. All three items chosen for their prix fixe are also sold a la carte. The ambiance of the place is awesome for pictures and girls night out.

4) Manhatta is a hard to get in restaurant under the Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group located in Lower Manhattan. They are also participating in restaurant week for lunch. Miraculously, I managed to get a reservation for a very early lunch. For my solo lunch, I definitely want to try the snails and lamb burger. Out of all the restaurants that are on this list, this is the one I am most excited about.

5) Aburiya Kinnosuke in Midtown is also participating in restaurant week for the first time and will be going for dinner for two. Definitely want to try their tofu, vegetable stir fry, black cod, chicken thigh, Shiratama Amitsu ice cream and mochi ice cream.

6) Ambassador Grill and Lounge located in the Millennium Hotel in the UN is also participating in restaurant week. All three items chosen for their prix fixe are also sold a la carte.

Due to time and obligations, I will not be able to eat at other restaurants this time around, so here is my wish list for restaurants to try: Cathedrale, David Burke Tavern, Tuome, Bann, Woodpecker, Cafe Boulud, Danji, Charlie Palmer Steak, Club A Steakhouse, and DB Bistro Moderne.

Now we will shift gears to Long Island Restaurant Week and over 175 restaurants will be participating. A three course prix fixe will cost $29.95. The awesome thing about this restaurant week is that they will be offering it on Saturdays until 7pm. Given that this restaurant week is coinciding with NYC restaurant week, it’s going to be difficult to participate. Therefore, here are my choices for this restaurant week: Red Salt in Garden City, Luigi’s in New Hyde Park and Imperial Meat Company in Huntington.

Stay tuned on my Instagram: tablespoonsandteaspoons and Twitter: spoonstt for posts during this adventure.

Meatless Monday – David Burke Tavern

Last week I decided to make solo trip to David Burke Tavern in the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The former Fishtail location will be one of the participating restaurants for the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting tomorrow.

One of the entrees that will be offered during restaurant week is the celery root ravioli. The dish consists of grapes, pickled celery and winter black truffles. This homemade dish is well balanced especially when all the elements are combined.

Celery Root Ravioli

Stay tuned for the Restaurant Week Game Plan.

Flashback Friday- NYC Restaurant Week – Bread & Tulips

Happy 2020! Can’t believe that we are halfway in the first month of the year! What’s even more exciting is next week is NYC Winter Restaurant week. One of the restaurants that will be participating during the restaurant week is Bread and Tulips.

Over the summer, my friend and I had dinner at this hot spot in Gramercy. They had happy hour until 7pm for discounted drinks. We came on a Monday evening during the summer and the place was dead. Service was on point in terms of knowledge and efficiency.

– Appetizers: To start, we took advantage of the restaurant week wine bottle special for $35. The wine was very good and the waiter re-corked the bottle to take home because we could not finish a bottle of wine. We ordered the crab cakes and Tuscan kale salad. The crab cakes were very good overall, the only comment I would say is that it was a little salty but all the components are well balanced if consumed in one bite. My friend got the Tuscan Kale Salad, which was really good, refreshing and healthy. Out of the two dishes, the kale salad was the better of the two.

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Crab Cakes
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Tuscan Kale Salad
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Restaurant Week Wine Special: $35 bottle wine – Campos de Riscas Estate Wine Organic Monasyrell – Syrah

– For the entree, we ordered the seared sea scallops and Long Island duck. The scallops was really good and the flavors were well balanced. Meanwhile my friend got the duck which was amazing and very lean. Out of the two dishes, the duck was the better of the two. That duck was to die for and personally I could see that dish become inconsistent if it was a busy night. Plus both dishes went well with the wine.

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Seared Sea Scallops with asparagus and pancetta vinaigrette
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Long Island Duck – Braised red cabbage, marcona almonds, sage and balsamic

The desserts were to awesome. The tartufo is amazing and with the lemon flavor and currents and walnut texture, the dish was a perfect end to my prix fixe. My friend got the chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut gelato, which was flawless.

Tartufo al Limoncello
Chocolate mousse and hazelnut gelato

Personal note, go on a non-busy night; given the restaurant’s reputation I can foresee regular people like us could get ignored and getting subpar service. The night we went it was dead (10 people were dining that evening).

Bread & Tulips is one of the over 300 restaurants participating in the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting from January 21 – February 7.

Stay tuned for suggested restaurants for this restaurant week….

Meatless Monday – Keste on Fulton

I have heard great things about Keste in the Village in Manhattan. I was thrilled when they decided to open another location in downtown Manhattan. This location is pretty hidden. The address states Fulton, but it is hidden behind bushes and plants and you would have to walk down a side street to enter the restaurant.

I have been to Keste several times because they awesome fresh personal pies, but they must be consumed before it gets cold. The chef/owner uses fresh ingredients and native techniques to execute a personal pie like no other. The place also holds pizza making classes and other food events.

What is awesome about this place was their $5 personal margherita pie. Here’s the catch, to get the discount, this pie must be eaten in the restaurant.

The place also has happy hour until 7pm and they have drink specials and complementary food samples.

If you want to splurge, the truffle pizza aka the Montanara Truffle $20, which has the perfect balance of truffle to mozzarella. Decadent and delightful!!

A great place for lunch, dinner, get together with friends of all food types meaning they have gluten free pizzas. A place worth eating and a bang for your buck!!

Throwback Thursday – Thai Villa – NYC

I finally made it to this amazing restaurant.  This amazing Thai restaurant gets really crowded and they do not take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays.  Plus, reservation are taken only for more than 6 people.  Therefore, I highly recommend that if there is a group make sure that everyone shows up on time or else you will have to wait a long time.  Wait time can go over two hours.  It’s a great place to have dinner with a group of friends. 

Food was amazing and service was on point for a very busy restaurant.  While I waiting for my friends, I had the mango sunrise mocktail, which was very refreshing and held me over until everyone showed up.  Once all my friends showed up, we were finally seated. 

Mango Sunrise

Once we were seated, we decided to go family style after observing other diners’ main order entrees.  To start we ordered the:

Pak Mor Puk ($9): Vegetable crepe dumplings made up of chives, cabbage, jicama, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots and served with roasted bell pepper-peanut vinaigrette dipping sauce. These dumplings are served in few Thai restaurants and is dish that is served to Thai royal families.  The dumplings are to die for.  I wish there would be more than four dumplings per order, but watching how these dumplings are assembled and made, it’s no easy task, hence the price of the appetizer. 

Pak Mor Puk ($9)

Por Pia Tod ($9): Crispy vegetable spring rolls made up of glass noodles, taro root, shiitake mushrooms and served with plum sauce. These spring rolls were standard and solid.  They come 6 rolls per order. 

Por Pia Tod ($9)

Sa Koo Sai Moo ($11): Tapioca dumplings stuffed with minced pork, peanuts and sweet turnips and served with green leaf lettuce.  Another dish that takes a lot of time to make let alone master.  There are five dumplings per order.  These dumplings are the best finger food/bite I have had and there are only a few restaurants that do it correctly, this is one of them.  Definitely worth the $11. 

Sa Koo Sai Moo ($11)

Spicy Chicken Wings ($14): Deep fried marinated tom yum flavor wings with Thai herbs garnished. These wings are a bit messy but tasty. Unsure if it’s worth $14 for 5 wings. 

Spicy Chicken Wings ($14)

Chicken Satay ($11): Grilled marinated chicken on skewers, served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish, and grilled brioche. The dish was standard, glad that the dish included the grilled brioche to make is more complete.  The peanut sauce is really good made the overall dish well balanced. 

Chicken Satay ($11)

For the entrees we shared the following:

Chicken with Cashew Nut ($17): Spicy chicken with pineapple, jicama, cashew nut, roasted bell pepper, scallions and chili jam. Served with jasmine rice.  The dish was very good and authentically spicy enough for the Thai American crowd that could handle spice. 

Chicken with Cashew Nut ($17)

Kaeng Neur Lamyai Bai Chapoo ($27): Braised jarret beef, betel leaves, curry paste, coconut milk and longan meat, served with Jasmine rice.  This dish is not served in many Thai restaurants, but it was definitely worth the price.  The dish had well balanced flavors and the right amount of spice kick which complemented well with the rice. 

Kaeng Neur Lamyai Bai Chapoo ($27)

We also ordered a side of Steamed Assorted Vegetables ($5), which was a good amount for the price and it complemented the spicy entrees. 

Steamed Assorted Vegetables ($5)

Finally, the dish I have been wanting to try and waited over 10 years is Royal Pad Thai ($24) which is pad thai encapsulated in a crepe.  In this case, this dish is made of prawns, shallots, bean sprouts, chive leaves, peanut bean curd and dried shrimp wrapped in net. The dish is beautifully presented and definitely worth the price because it could feed more than one person.  A one of a kind.

Royal Pad Thai $24

Throwback Thursday- 14th Annual American Cancer Society Taste of Hope

On May 23, 2019, I had the privilege to attend the American Cancer Society 14th Annual Taste of Hope event in New York City. I purchased my VIP ticket in person at $300 which included a gift bag and early access to food and drink. This year’s event had four honorees: Dana Cowin was this year’s Survivor Honoree. She served as Editor-in-Chief for Food and Wine Magazine from 1995-2016. She recently launched “Speaking Broadly”, a podcast that focuses on highlighting and linking amazing women in the food industry. There were two culinary honorees: The first honoree was Ralph Scamardella, Partner and Chef of the TAO Group. The TAO Group consists of restaurants such as TAO Uptown, TAO Downtown, LAVO, Dream Downtown, Dream Midtown, and Legasea in New York City alone. The Group also have restaurants in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The second honoree was Michael Lomonaco, Chef/Partner of Porter House Grill and Bar and Center Bar both located in the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle. Recently, he opened the Hudson Yards Grill in Hudson Yards. Finally, we had a corporate honoree. This year’s honoree was Otto Cedeno founder of Otto’s Tacos. Otto’s Taco has been part of the American Cancer Society community for the past three years and is known for his awareness for Breast Cancer Month every October by selling “pink” tacos.

There were lots of food especially lobster which I am allergic to. Since I had a heavy steak meal the night before I went pescatarian for this event. Therefore, here are my favorite savory and sweet tastings from the event:

Sen Sakana – Nikkei Ceviche
Nobu Fifty – Seven Salmon Pastrami
Delicatessen – Tuna Tartare
Boulud Sud – Cured Faroe Island Salmon
Jora Restaurant and Bar – Quinoa Solterito
Drunken Fruit Products
Magnolia Bakery – Mini Banana Pudding Cups
Loi Estiatorio – Yiaourti Me Meli
Sarabeth – Chocolate Mousse
Serendipity 3 – Frrrrozen Hot Chocolate

For an event that was held at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend, it was a success. Personally I cannot wait for next year’s 15th Annual Taste of Hope event scheduled to take place on Thursday May 21, 2020. Stay tuned for more details for details.

Meatless Monday – Red Salt Room by David Burke

A few days ago my fiance and I finally had dinner here at Red Salt Room in Garden City, NY. The restaurant was fairly quiet that evening which made it easier to talk. The food was more expensive than King’s Bar but you will be paying for a tasting on a budget. The chef/owner, GM Steve and our waitress/server Christine were very accommodating and took care of us. Service was fairly quick and although the presentation of the dishes appeared small they were deceivingly filling. We ordered a salad, and two sides.

Salad: We were curious with the heirloom tomato and ricotta salad because it was different from the heirloom tomato and burrata salad served from other restaurants. The presentation of the dish was deceivingly small but artistically whimsical. It is a healthy dish consisting a huge slice of tomato that could pass for a tomato steak on top of pesto with grilled peaches and ricotta on the side. The overall dish tasted good as individual components but combining all the components together makes the bite and taste complete.

Side dishes: We ordered truffle steak frites and tomato gratin. The flavor of the truffle steak frites were reminiscent of the truffle fries I had back in the day in David Burke Townhouse. I do miss the truffle fries, but I knew what I was getting myself into whem I ordered the steak frites and thank you Christine for the heads up about the thickness of the potatoes. The steak frites can serve as a main dish for one or a side dish to share with 2 or more people. My fiance was curious about the tomato gratin our waitress Christine was knowledgable and raved about the dish. The dish was definitely sharable for 2 or more people it is reminiscent of a chicken parmigiana without the chicken. We loved the tomato gratin and a great semi low carb vegetarian dish to order.

I definitely want to return one weekend for brunch and the next Long Island Restaurant Week.