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.

Throwback Thursday – Filipino, Italian and Eat Thai Visit Thai Restaurant Week

Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate freedom and the birth of America, we believe that over the span of 200 years, our country has become a melting pot with a diverse group of immigrants, first/second generation children building their legacy. What better way to honor and pass on traditions through food. So let’s begin with:

Filipino Restaurant Week, which took place from May 13th thru May 26th. They have a three course lunch and three course dinner special. We chose a place called Grill 21 in the Gramercy section of NYC. They had a three course deal for $35 for two people. So below was the following:

Shanghai Lumpia

Combo set of BBQ Chicken meal

Buko pandan (young coconut and pandan leave mixture)

Combo set: Kare kare (beef oxtail in peanut and vegetable sauce)

The food was good, service was very quick and reservations were strict. It was definitely great deal plus I had leftovers for the next day.

The next place(s) we went to was for Italian Restaurant Week took place from June 1-8 of this year. It was a eight-day celebration of authentic Italian cuisine. Three course lunch was $29.99 and three course dinner was $49.99. We were privileged to have dinner at two restaurants that were participating: Felidia and Barbalu.

Let’s start with a solo dinner at Felidia which was a pretty nice restaurant. It has 3 floors, the first floor is the bar and section for regular and high end clientale. The second floor is where all the new people/tourists sat. The third floor we believe was where private events would take place. When I entered the restaurant the hostess and staff were polite but I sensed there’s a type of prejudice. The hostess sat me in the corner with my back turned to the crowd. After a few minutes, the server saw me and repositioned me to let me enjoy the ambiance of the place. The server was really nice and accommodating. So below is what I ate from the restaurant:

Complementary bread with beans and hummus

Capasante – scallops with vegetables

Vitello

Tiramisu

Complementary cookies

Service and staff needs work but the food is one of the best Italian foods ever. Everything I ate was cooked to perfection. If I had to choose, the vitello was the dish I have ever had and the tiramisu was my second favorite. I would definitely return to this restaurant for the upcoming NYC restaurant week starting July 22 through August 16.

The second restaurant we went to was Barbalu located in the South Street Seaport. This husband and wife restaurant was rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy after their original restaurant was completely destroyed. We went for dinner and their three course dinner was only $42. The food was overall good especially for a local small business spot. Service was definitely better than Felidia. So below is what we ordered:

Appetizer special: Bresaola with arugula

Pear and Ricotta Fagottini with Cream and Truffle Oil

Tartufo Gelato

My favorite out of the three was the pasta entree because all the flavors balanced out and the fagottini was freshly made. This restaurant is perfect for freshly made pasta plus they also have gluten free pasta. Personally I would come back for a group dinner.

Finally OpenTable provided a promo from Thailand Insider called #Eatthaivisitthai restaurant week which is occurring now until July 15. Thailand Insider is holding a contest where you take a picture(s) of the food eaten at the participating restaurant(s) and hashtag #Eatthaivisitthai, tag “Thailand Insider” and a foodie friend to join in. The prize is a 10 day culinary trip to Thailand. So, I went on a solo dinner to Somtum Der in the East Village to take advantage of their happy hour. For happy hour it was 1/2 price drinks and $6 fried chicken thigh. In addition I ordered the thai tea panna cotta and larb moo spring roll.

Mangosteen martini

Fried Chicken Thighs

Thai Ice Tea Panna Cotta

Po Pia Larb Moo

The restaurant is closed from 4-6pm and it opens at 6pm sharp. Since I was dining alone I had the option to sit on the stool or on a table so I chose the table. Once I sat on the table I felt that service was rushed. Other than the rushed service the food was on point. I was impressed by the mangosteen martini especially with the price the quality of the drink (balance of juice with alcohol). I would definitely return to this place with friends to try their som tum and suggested combination sets.

Throwback Thursday – 2019 NYC Winter Restaurant Week

Hello once again! This month was very adventurous with various eating adventures and weight gain. However, I was successfully able to achieve one of my goals for this year, which was to write more reviews on Yelp and OpenTable. I am happy to announce (yes I know it’s cheesy) but I am now part of Yelp Elite. Therefore I am very excited to take part in more exclusive Yelp events and network with more elite Yelpers.

I am happy to say that I have attended at least one of my lunch and dinner restaurant recommendations for NYC Winter Restaurant week thanks to my new friends from Catholic NYC.

So let’s begin with the list of restaurants I was able to eat at for the first official NYC Restaurant week of 2019:

1) Delmonico’s

2) ilili

3) David Burke Tavern

4) Burke and Wills

5) The Dutch

6) Riverpark

Delmonico’s

The restaurant has two floors which calls for segregation from the restaurant week people and their high end regular clients. Overall service was good, my waiter was knowledgeable and recommended the great wine pairing with my entree. This would be a great special occasion restaurant or for a date night for two. Now to the meal:

– The appetizers offered for restaurant week were different variations of their regular menu appetizers. So I settled for the burrata with arugula, beets and poached pear, which was tasty with the Portuguese white wine. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo or the photo did it make it to this phone.

– For the entree, I settled for the miso butternut squash glazed bass, which was part of their regular menu and beautifully presented. The skin was crispy, and the meat combined with the squash and the leeks plus the white wine was perfect.

– For the dessert, I paid an extra $8 for their classic baked alaska, which was the highlight of my meal and worth the extra cost. The dessert presentation was amazing, the walnut cake, banana gelato, and lemon meringue plus carmelization smokiness was to die for.

Ilili

I came here to have dinner with three people and we had the opportunity to take advantage of the happy hour. The happy hour deals were good. The cool thing about this place was for $42 you get to order four things (Two appetizers, entree and dessert).

Overall the restaurant was busy and after paying our bill, the hostess had to “kick us out” of the table for new guests. She was really nice and accommodating by providing us with a free drink at their lounge. I ordered the “From Beirut with Passion” cocktail which is a basil cilantro mint infused vodka with sparkling passion fruit. This drink after was much stronger than the happy hour version.

– For the two appetizers I went with the steak tartare with onions and jalapenos and the fattoush salad. The tartare was a small portion designed to be cut into quarters to accommodate the perfect balance bite. Therefore the bite tasted good with everything combined. Next the fattoush salad arrived. The salad was refreshing, very minty and crispy due to the toasted pita chips, which worked really well after eating the tartare.

– For the main entree I ordered the Lamb Makboubeh and it was meaty, gamey and hearty especially with the dirty rice and mixed nut mixture. The cucumber yogurt sauce really helped mask the gaminess of the lamb shank. I only ate half of the dish and took the rest home.

– For the dessert came I ordered the ilili candy bar and it was a small portion compared to a regular order. It tasted so good and was a perfect end to the meal.

David Burke Tavern

This restaurant is my go to spot to take a group of people because their menu is the same for restaurant week. Service was efficient and very quick. I sat in the standing table at 5 to 8 and was done with everything at 9.

First I ordered a mocktail: Moscow Mouse which was good and refreshing.

– Appetizer: I ordered the pastrami salmon with falafel. The pastrami salmon was not the same as I had it before. The falafel was a healthier version that caught me by surprise because it was chewy and it did have the breaded crispy crunch that would be found in most if not all authentic falafel.

– Entree – I ordered the roasted branzino. The dish was one of the best dishes I have had in this restaurant to date. The branzino had a great roasted crisp especially combined with the squash, crispy artichoke and artichoke puree. The puree was the best I have had to date.

– For the dessert I went with my server’s recommendation of the chocolate hazelnut crunch cake. Unfortunately, the picture of this beautifully presented dish did not save on my phone. The cake was rich but it has to be consumed with the whipped cream for a balanced taste.

Burke and Wills

For restaurant week I came here for dinner with three friends from Catholic NYC. This restaurant was another good go to spot to take a group of people because their menu is the also same for restaurant week. The restaurant from the outside looks like a hole in a wall, after bypassing the crowded bar there was a open deceivingly unknown space for dining. I would return to have brunch because the back area of the restaurant had a awesome sunroof plus I was informed that there was a speakeasy.

First I ordered a mocktail: Paul Hogan, which was good and refreshing.

Appetizer: I ordered the roasted beet salad. The salad was definitely colorful just as our server described and it was tasty and refreshing.

Entree: I ordered the barramundi which was both popular and highly recommended by our server. The dish was roasted perfectly crispy and mixed with vegetables it had a great balance of flavors. The dish compliment well with the Pinor Gris from Australia.

Dessert: I had to have the bread pudding which was so good and a perfect end to this dessert.

The Dutch

I finally had the privilege to enjoy lunch at the Dutch for NYC restaurant week. I barely made it to lunch before the kitchen closed for dinner. The staff was very accommodating and ensured I was well taken care of. Service overall was great. I took advantage of the deal $26 for two courses which was a great bargain for the amount of food I got. I highly recommend this restaurant for lunch for restaurant week, it’s worth it.

I had the hot tin roof cocktail which was good, refreshing and somewhat medicinal. For the appetizer I went with the shrimp cocktail, the shrimps were huge and the right amount of the crab louie made this deceptively small dish very filling.

The entree was the highlight for me, the roasted chicken kale caesar salad with lots and lots of cheese was huge that it could feed two people. This salad was so good, the chicken was tender and skin was so crispy while the kale and cheese combination hit the spot. I was only able to eat half of it.

Riverpark

For the final night of restaurant week dinner I came to Riverpark with 5 people fromCatholic NYC 15 minutes before they closed. This restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. Service was efficient and accommodating especially when they were going to close for the evening. I would return to have brunch because of the view and outdoor dining option.

Given the time of night I went light and pescatarian.

Appetizer: I ordered the cauliflower sformato. The appetizer was pretty and custard in combination with the cauliflower was to die for.

Entree: I went with the diver scallops and clams which was light and perfect for that of the evening.

Dessert I had to have the persimmon cake with the ginger ice which hit the spot and was a perfect end to this restaurant week adventure.

Flashback Friday – Sweet Chick – LIC

Five months ago my friends from college wanted to do a girls night with dinner at the new and popular chicken and waffle spot in Long Island City called Sweet Chick.  Personally I have heard how popular this place was in Brooklyn, but the one in Long Island City was said to be bigger and more accommodating than its original location.  They are also two additional locations, one in Brooklyn and the other in the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

When my friend contacted me on Saturday afternoon, she informed me that this restaurant did not accept reservations and it was walk in only.  Given my knowledge of this franchise’s popularity, I decided to take a cab to the restaurant.   I was glad I did because the nearest train station was closed for routine weekend repairs.  When I approached the restaurant, there was a line going out the door of people putting their names down on the wait list.  As I got closer to the host inside the restaurant, the host was telling each person on line that the wait was two hours.  When I heard that the wait time was two hours, most people walked out, but I stayed so I can talk to the host and even the manager about wait time, when the restaurant did not appear crowded.  Anyways, I put my name down and the host stated that they would try to reduce my wait time and as more and more people decided to leave, my wait time was reduced to 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes was definitely better than two hours.  By the time, my friends arrived and we were finally seated.  To start, I ordered the Pink Noise cocktail ($12).  The cocktail tasted really good (flavors were well balanced), but strong (there were two maybe three different liquors in this cocktail) and I was buzzed throughout the night despite consumption of the fried chicken and waffles.

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Pink Noise – White Rum, Brut, Luxardo, Rhubarb-Ginger Shrub, Lime and Grapefruit Bitters

Now to the food:

 

For the table we ordered the Crawfish Hush Puppies ($11).  The hush puppies were greasy.  The hush puppies also contained corn, which enhanced the texture.  I loved the jalapeno jam because it complemented the saltiness of the hush puppy.  If you don’t want to feel that you’re eating greasy fried fish fritters, the remoulade sauce was a great addition if you want to mask the oily exterior while embracing the crawfish flavor inside.20180428_1959136262720583375910645.jpg

Crawfish Hush Puppies – Remoulade Sauce, Jalapeno Jam

For those who can’t eat seafood, there are the pork belly nuggets ($10), but personally it was too small of a portion for the price.  It was also forgettable.  Personally it was a failed attempt to create a balanced dish of a sweet marinated pork belly with a pickled fruit and the acidic kimchi.

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Pork Belly Nuggets: Kimchi, Blueberry Balsamic Glaze, Pickled Watermelon

On to the entrees…

We ordered three different chicken and waffles dishes ($19 each); all look really good and interesting.  In addition, you can even design your own chicken and waffles meals. 

  1. Nashville Fried Chicken Waffle – my friend ordered this meal because it was one if not the spiciest meal in the menu.  My friends like their meal, I took a bite of the chicken and it was packed with Southern flavors and spice.  If you like hot and spicy, this is a choice you won’t regret.
  2. Buffalo Fried Chicken Waffle – my friend ordered this meal and tasting a piece of that buffalo fried chicken,  it definitely lived up to its name.  What I mean is that this was definitely a chicken and waffles version of Buffalo Fried Chicken. It is a twist from a classic that will leave you satisfied.
  3. Fried Chicken Parmesan – I am a sucker for cheese so when I saw fresh mozzarella on top of a fried chicken served on a little cast iron plate with tomato sauce, it was over. The mozzarella, basil and parmesan waffle complemented the tomato sauce.

Overall the fried chicken was properly battered and the texture of each bite from three different dishes was very consistent.  Plus, the dish helped alleviate the alcohol buzz from the Pink Noise.

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Nashville Fried Chicken Waffle with Milk Jam Waffle

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Buffalo Fried Chicken Waffle – Celery and Carrot Waffle, Blue Cheese

 

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Fried Chicken ParmesanTomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Basil and Parmesan Waffle

To end our evening of awesome comfort food, we ordered the entire desserts menu.  All the desserts were to die for.  If you want to go towards the healthy route, stick with the blueberry cobbler.  Personally I would choose the Daily Special Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, which was amazing.

I realized why service was slow throughout the evening because the chef was ensuring that every dish that came out of that kitchen was up to par and all of our orders did not disappoint.

After sharing this information here on my blog, I am craving chicken and waffles.  I definitely want to check out the other locations especially the one in the Lower East Side.

Cheers!!!

Flashback Friday – 2018 NYC Summer Restaurant Week

TGIF — It’s Flashback Friday and it’s been over six weeks since I’ve last posted here.  Well, it’s restaurant week again and we are entering the last seven days of this high end eating on a budget event.  This year’s restaurant week started on July 23 and ends next Friday, August 17.

Did you know that NYC restaurant week started 26 years ago to welcome the Democratic National Convention (DNC)? We all know who won the election.  Anyways, back to food, NYC restaurant week started with 95 participating restaurants in 1992 to approximately quadrupling to 380 in 2018.  This season, few restaurants in Brooklyn, Queens and even Staten Island are jumping on the bandwagon for this budget friendly opportunity.  This season was disappointing because lunch/brunch meals are only two courses (appetizer with entree or dessert) for $26 and a three course dinner remains at $42.

After 3 weeks of thorough review of 317 menus out of the 380 restaurants, here are the logistics that are broken down into: best lunch, dinner and brunch for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5+ people.  Our criteria is comparing what the restaurant is offering for restaurant week to their daily lunch/dinner/brunch menu; for example, if crudo is part of the regular lunch appetizer menu, we want to see if the restaurant is serving the same item on their restaurant week menu.  Some restaurants are even offering parts of their regular as part of restaurant week, which is a great way to go.

We will begin with the total number of restaurants that are offering the best value meals for lunch, dinner and brunch based on our criteria.

Slide1Personally one of the reasons why I have yet to participate in this year’s restaurant week is because I am on a diet, which I will disclose at some point this weekend. Therefore, we created another table that breaks down the overall number of best value meals to accommodate the vegetarians, pescatarians, people in low carb diets (that’s me) and comfort (those who want to YOLO)!

Slide2

Even though I am on a diet, I do plan to take advantage of restaurant week, which is easier said than done because there is no control of how the food is made.  However, with the comfort meal types, the appetizers are either on the vegetarian, pescatarian and low carb side.  The hard part is dessert, which in case, lunch is ideal, but due to my full time job, I can’t take advantage of the lunch offerings this season.

In the past, I have shared my experiences of eating at restaurants for restaurant week and if you need any ideas or suggestions,  below is the list of places I have eaten at for past restaurant weeks:

Capital Grille at all three New York City locations (Grand Central, West 50s and wall Street) their 14 ounce bone-in dry aged sirloin steak is still being offered for this restaurant week.  In addition from now until September 2, Capital Grille is also offering what they call a “Generous Pour”, which costs only $28 for a tasting of seven wines with the purchase of dinner.   The suggestion for this restaurant week:

Lunch for 1: Caesar Salad & Signature Cheeseburger with Truffle Fries

– Dinner for 2: Wedge of Bleu Cheese or Clam Chowder

Bone-In Dry Aged Sirloin Steak  (14oz) w/ Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon w/ Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake and Creme Brulee

Fonda (Comfort Food) in the East Village has awesome happy hour specials, but for restaurant week it’s a good way to get four friends to get together for drinks and happy times.  Check out my post on what the guacamole, enchilada suizas and dessert (morenitas).

Blenheim (Comfort Food) a Michelin rated restaurant offers a stipulation from my experience eating here two years ago.  The menu changes frequently for the season, which makes it exciting.  This season, a solo dinner is the way to go with the following: Fried Chicken, Pork two ways and Chocolate cremeux.

Tavern 62 by David Burke (Comfort Food) located at the beginning of the Upper East Side is one of the few restaurants that are utilizing their regular menu have new customers try their food and feel that they belong. They have great happy hour specials, where there are $10 burgers and $8 fries.   Check out the pictures and previous write up about the transition from Fishtail to Tavern62 by clicking on the “Tavern 62 by David Burke” link.  I do plan on returning to this restaurant because I feel welcomed but more importantly it’s a great deal for restaurant week and the customer will get their money’s worth.

Other restaurants I definitely want to try are the following:

Smith & Wollensky – Dinner for 4 – Comfort Food

Appetizer: Mixed Green Salad, Caesar Salad, Calamari, and Pea Soup

Entree: Filet Mignon, Lemon Pepper Chicken,  Salmon Waldorf, and Pan Roasted Branzino

Dessert: Cheesecake, Bourbon Pecan Pie, Chocolate Mousse Cake and Coconut Layer Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

Barraca – Dinner for 2 – Pescatarian/Vegetarian

Appetizer: Ensalada de Mercado and Pulpo a Feira

Entree: Paella de Verdura (minimum 2 people) and Paella de Calamares

Desserts: Churros de Rellanos and Corte de Helado

In addition, offering a great $18 wine pairing deal for restaurant.  They are also one of the few restaurants that are offering a three course lunch meal for restaurant week for $26.  Plus, they have a great $6 happy hour menu from 4pm to 7pm.

Nickel and Diner – Dinner for 1 – Pescatarian/Low Carb

Appetizer: Smoked Salmon Chowder

Entree: Ginger Crusted Halibut

Desserts: Honey Semifreddo

In addition, they have a great happy hour menu from 3pm to 7pm.

Lugo Cucina Italiana – Lunch for 2 – Low Carb/Pescatarian/Vegetarian

Appetizer: Kale Mango Salad, Mussels Fra Diavolo

Entree: Salmone Al Forno, Eggplant Parmagiana

Although I may have disappeared here on my own site, but I am posting on my Instragram page: tablespoonsandteaspoons.  Please follow me.

I will continue to strive to post more often here.  Stay tuned….

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday – Woodpecker by David Burke

Happy Thursday and I’m happy to share with you my recent experience at Woodpecker by David Burke in New York City. Woodpecker by David Burke is a communal neighborhood spot different from the fine dining scene the chef is known for. The restaurant has a one page menu that features Chef David Burke’s classics such as the “Bacon clothesline”, Pastrami Salmon, Kale & Romaine Caesar, and his patented 40 day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip. In addition to the classics, there were additional items made using wood burning ovens such as “Grillos” Pizza along with catchy dishes including Wings and Rings/Shishito, and Broccoli Mops.

I’ve had the privilege to be invited to the “soft” opening of Woodpecker about 3-4 weeks ago and I followed my server’s recommendation on the dishes I ordered.

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Broccoli Mops

Broccoli Mops – Broccoli florets placed on guacamole, citrus, fennel and toasted quinoa. The $15 dish was a bit high, but it was my favorite meal of the night. It was light and the mandarin oranges along with toasted quinoa made this dish complete. The citrus dressing was refreshing and the salad had a great balance of fresh ingredients. I would come back just for this healthy vegetarian dish.

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Wings & Rings / Shishito

Wings & Rings / Shishito – Love the presentation of this $16 dish. It looks deceivingly small but it was meant for sharing. Since I was alone, it was filling. The base of this dish is made up of six Korean style wings, which tasted nothing special along with fried calamari topped with a shishito pepper for each skewer. The taste of this dish was nothing special. However, I would order it with a group of people just for the pretty presentation, but not of my favorite David Burke dishes.

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40 day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip 20 oz

40 Day Saltage Prime Kansas City Strip is 20oz steak made using Chef David Burke’s patented saltage brick. This $62 dish is a classic. The strip steak looked beautiful. The Himalayan salted crust with a glistening medium rare inside was a picture perfect portrait of a crispy outside surrounding or even protecting the tender meat inside. The taste of this steak just melts in my mouth. I highly recommend this type of steak but it is hard to get it at any place other than a David Burke restaurant.

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Apple Tart

To end my dinner, I decided to go for the Apple Tart with the smoked rosemary. I try not to order a dessert for health and weight loss reasons, but I can’t resist the beautiful presentation. The taste of this tart was interesting. I understand why this tart was unique, personally I would do without rosemary. Would I order it again? Maybe. But I would try the other desserts.

Anyways, I am excited to venture into Long Island to check his two new restaurants inside the Garden City Hotel. Stay tuned.

Social Saturday – 13th Annual American Cancer Society Taste of Hope

On May 10, 2018, I attended the American Cancer Society 13th Annual Taste of Hope event in New York City. I purchased my VIP ticket at $275 which included a gift bag and early access to the food and festivities.  The event had two honorees:  Sarabeth Levine was this year’s culinary honoree and Chef Antonio Prontelli was this year’s survivor honoree.

My top 5 favorite savory tastings from the event were the:

  • The Smith’s Toasted Ricotta Gnocchi with White Truffle Cream
  • Calle Ocho’s Pastelillos Cubanitos
  • Jing Fong’s BBQ Roast Pork Pastry Puffs
  • Casa Nonna’s Siamese Agnolotti
  • L’Amico Fontina Cappelletti with Wild Mushroom and English Peas

My top 5 sweet tastings from the event were the:

  • Bonsai Kakigori’s Strawberries and Cream Kakigori
  • Loi Estiatorio’s Yiaourti Me Meli
  • Melt Bakery’s Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Java Melts
  • Frose & Campari Popsicles

Below are images from the event.

There were a lot more stuff at the event. The event set up gets better and better every year. There were a lot of wine tastings, beer tastings and emerging food companies promoting their products.  More importantly a lot of the food tastings were on the healthier side; there were salad variations, ceviches, and barbecued dishes.

I can’t wait to visit these restaurants during the upcoming restaurant week if they participate.  Stay tuned.

Throwback Thursday – Saigon Casa

Vietnamese crepe

Pho

Six weeks ago we decided to check out Saigon Casa, Vietnamese restaurant in Port Jefferson Station in Long Island.

The menu has limited options in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in other Vietnamese restaurants in Queens.

One of the dishes that we had to order was the pho. There were many types of pho, but we ordered the Pho Tai Nam Gau, which a beef soup containing rare steak, brisket and flank steak with noodles on the side.

The soup tasted good and we loved the fact that we can add the noodles at our discretion to our small bowls. I am still in search and experimenting recipes that replicated the best one I’ve had to date at the Pho Bang in Elmhurst.

Another dish I had was the Vietnamese Sizzling Crepe called Bang Xeo. This crepe was sold as a special item at this restaurant. The dish was huge and it is made of rice flour and tumeric stuffed with shrimp and pork. The dish was delicious and I want to make this dish.

I would like to return to this restaurant to try their other dishes.

Throwback Thursday – National Spaghetti Day – Scarpetta 

Happy New Year! On this first Thursday of 2018, we will be celebrating National Spaghetti Day! 

Spaghetti was historically recorded around the 12th century in Sicily by Muhammad al-Idrisi, Muslim historian and geographer who served at the court of Sicilian King Roger II. It was not until the 19th century that this dish became popular throughout Italy and abroad especially the United States.  Currently, spaghetti has been modernized and mass produced where the ingredients are now sold in canned and boxed form at almost all supermarkets. 

A few years ago I heard about the best spaghetti in New York City from various press such as the New York Times, CBS Local, Timeout, Zagat, Thrillist and Serious Eats.  Scarpetta, located in the Meatpacking District has elevated the spaghetti dish made with tomato and basil by using butter.  At a whopping cost of $26, the presentation and taste made every cent worthwhile. 

Spaghetti with tomato and basil $26

Further research revealed that Serious Eats met with Scarpetta’s Scott Conant and watched him make this signature dish. The ingredients provided makes this dish potentially budget friendly. However, it is the technique that makes the dish what it is. Hopefully when the weather clears up, I’ll make the dish with the ingredients provided. 

For those who don’t have access to the ingredients and more or less lazy, this dish can be made with three ingredients: 

1) Pasta (I used Barilla Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti) = $1.00 on sale 

2) Spaghetti Sauce (I used Victoria Low sodium tomato basil sauce) = $3.50 on sale

3) Butter (I used Earth Balance Organic Whipped Butter) = $3.50 on sale 

Three ingredient spaghetti under $10 (sorry for the picture, my phone was dying)

Throwback Thursday – Fishtail to Tavern 62

Happy Winter Solstice! Yes it’s officially winter and this year is going by way too fast.  I was reviewing the thousands of pictures taken within the last five years and I’ve come across several pictures taken of my meals eaten at David Burke Fishtail (closed on January 2016), which is now Tavern 62, which opened in October 2016.    Anyways, what I enjoyed eating at both places was the camaraderie vibe between the staff, bartenders and management.  I enjoyed the happy hour deals, well presented entrees and desserts. Food tasting at times varied depending on the day and whose cooking it and whether it was healthy or not is another story.  But anyhow, I am still drawn into eating at this place due to their seasonal changes in menu.  Below is a chronological timeline of some of the dishes consumed at Fishtail and Tavern 62.