Flashback Friday – Calle Dao

Happy 2021! It’s been an interesting and unprecedented 2020 with the pandemic that turned the planet upside down. We are very grateful to be alive, healthy and employed *knock on wood*. One of major changes that took place in 2020 was the shutdown of business especially restaurant and food industries. Many famous restaurants, mom and pop restaurants and even landmark restaurants closed down permanently because their businesses suffered tremendous loss due to the restrictions that were set in place in order to keep people safe.

Prior to the pandemic and shutdown, my friend recommended an emerging restaurant chain somewhat that specializes in Cuban Chinese Cuisine. The restaurant is called Calle Dao. There are two locations one in Chelsea and the other in Bryant Park. They have a sister restaurant called Favela Cubana. They had happy hour until 7pm for discounted drinks and food. My friend and I have only been to the Bryant Park location because it was convenient especially during this pandemic. We came on a Monday evening during the summer and early this week for outdoor dining. The first time the outdoor dining setup in the summer was an open space. Recently, the restaurant revamped their outdoor dining space by building adding walls all round and heaters above every table. The new setup was very cozy, warm and toasty. We had the same server, his name was Marvin. Marvin was very nice, friendly, accommodating and generous. More importantly due to increased expenses incurred during the restaurant’s 10 day closure to set up outdoor dining for the winter, an 8% COVID surcharge was now added to the check. The COVID surcharge was implemented by NYC around October to help restaurants sustain themselves. Anyways, let’s get to the food and drink:

Tostones – great deal for a solo meal and definitely meant for sharing.

Shiitake Spring Rolls – pricey for the portion, but a great option for vegetarians.

Crispy Wings – another great deal but it is definitely sticky and messy.

Sangria – a must have here and highly recommended; they also have the option for a white sangria. FYI red wine is more health benefits than white.

Prosecco – a great alternative if you want to go light on the alcohol

In addition to happy hour bites and drinks, we also ordered additional food, which appeared to be pricey, but deceivingly large that we ate half and took the other half home. Both dishes tasted amazing and it’s low carb.

We will definitely return to explore our happy hour deals at all three locations and definitely try their brunch menu. This restaurant is worth trying especially if you want to experience Cuban Chinese cuisine.

Cheers to 2021!!

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 that it is located on Fulton Street 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 have 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!!

Traditional Tuesday – Soup Dumplings

Happy Tuesday! As I was leaving the subway station I came across a Chinese restaurant in Queens that just opened up. The owner gave me the menu and after glancing the menu, the prices of the dishes appeared to be expensive. A few months after the opening, a family friend was raving about these black truffle soup dumplings ($12.75 for six), even, Eater loved them. Therefore, I have to try them.

So what are soup dumplings?

Soup dumplings were created as a street food in Nanking, China in 1875. The dish traveled to other provinces throughout China and Japan. These dumplings are usually steamed filled with gelatin based soup broth, pork and vegetables.

Are they healthy? Well, the soup broth is high is saturated fat and sodium. However, soup dumplings are usually dipped in a sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. This concoction can be viewed as healthy because vinegar aids in digestion and lowers blood sugar while the ginger holds many health benefits as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.

After completing my weekend 4-6 mile walk, I decided to reward myself with soup dumplings. The Shanghainese restaurant Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu appeared to be a small Chinese takeout spot, but inside there were a bunch of tables. One of their popular dishes were the soup dumplings, so we ordered the crab and pork soup dumplings, pork soup dumplings and the infamous black truffle soup dumplings. Well, let’s just say the wrappers of these dumplings were perfectly thin and folded very well. The crab and pork soup dumplings and the black truffle dumplings were so good. The overall soup dumplings especially the crab and pork soup ones were even better than the ones I’ve had in the past. The black truffle soup dumpling were so tasty and they even have real black truffles on top of the dumplings. One can even taste the truffle oil in the soup broth.

So if you’re in Elmhurst, stop in Shanghai Zhen Gong Fu and try those black truffle dumplings. They are the best bang for your buck for an luxury street food.

Flashback Friday – ATL Wings – Franklin Square

Over the past few weeks I’ve been craving chicken wings. According to the National Chicken Council, fried chicken wings originated in the South a long time ago. However, chicken wings became part of the food menu in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y. The popularity of chicken wings grew in the 80s and 90s to the point where it is now considered a staple for get togethers and game day gatherings, but more importantly it’s cost effective.

We recently heard of a chicken wings spot in the Franklin Square neighborhood in Long Island called ATL Wings. ATL stands for “All The Luv” wings. According to their website the wings chain started in 2012. The menu had a variety of sauces and rubs for the wings. I spoke and met with the manager Kisha who was so kind to provide us with her recommendations. We had a variety of flavors to try ranging from not spicy to spicy with fries and honey biscuits on the side.

Here’s our food journey at ATL Wings:

We began our wings consumption journey with the mild garlic parmesan chicken wings. These wings had a lot of garlic and parmesan flavor and the taste was well balanced. I’d ordered them again.

Garlic Parmesan Dry Rub Wings

Next, we proceeded to the lemon pepper wings, which were considered popular among customers. I can see why! It’s the balance of the crispy wings with tartness of the lemon with a pinch of pepper that pop when I bite into it.

Lemon Pepper Dry Rub Wings

Then we moved on to the BBQ Wings starting with the sweet teriyaki wings. The wings were good and sweet, but it was not as exciting as the previous dry rub wings consumed.

Teriyaki BBQ Wings

Next we moved on to the spicy BBQ wings, which were the Honey Habenero wings. These wings were really good. The sauce was well balanced between the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the habenero pepper.

Honey Habenero BBQ Wings

Finally, we hit a crescendo with the Extreme Honey Habenero wings. These wings were good but spicy. The initial bite had the same well balanced taste and texture between the sweetness of the honey and the spiciness of the habenero pepper. After consuming three wings the spiciness dominated over taste, which was a turn off.

Extreme Honey Habenero BBQ Wings

To counterbalance the overpowering heat consumed from the extreme habenero wings, we ate the french fries. Although the fries could have been crisper, it helped a lot as the well balanced taste of oil and potato helped with reducing the heat from the wings.

Side of French Fries

Finally we hit dessert with the honey biscuit that hit the spot and almost eliminated the heat from the extreme honey habenero wings. This biscuit was definitely made with love – cinnamon, powdered sugar and honey.

Honey Biscuits

The food experience at ATL Wings was overall awesome and the staff was very accommodating. Their food was definitely made with love.

Our favorites were the garlic parmesan, honey habenero and the honey biscuit.

I would definitely return and take advantage of their Tuesday special – 75 cents wings.

Thank you ATL Wings for great food and service.

Lent – Sugarless Diet Game Plan

Hello everyone Happy Presidents Day! We as the title states it’s that Christian season again, Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which was the same day as Valentine’s Day. This Lenten season I decided to give up sugar with the exception of fruit and vegetables. So far, I’m getting through it but at the same time it is difficult especially when I had to eat out for Chinese New Year. Eating out was a challenge because I don’t know whether sugar was added to the diet. As a result, I ended up at a buffet, a Middle Eastern and Hibachi restaurant.

For the first five days of Lent, here were my meals containing 0g of sugar:

What I’ve realized is to successfully accomplish this I have to cook my meals at home.

After going through my current pantry at home, I’ve discovered more limitations to this no sugar sacrifice. However, this week’s game plan will consists of the following ingredients that contains no sugars to date:

Black beans

Red Kidney beans

Eggs

Salmon

Cod

Ground Kobe beef

Ground Turkey

Olive oil

Coconut oil

Ghee

Butter

Quorn Chik ‘n Patty

Cauliflower

Asparagus

Oats

Rice

Parmesan cheese

Cream cheese

Almond milk

Strawberries

Blueberries

Follow me on Instagram at tablespoonsandteaspoons for updates on the recipes made this week with these ingredients.

Flashback Friday – Winter 2018 NYC Restaurant Week

Today is the last day of NYC Restaurant Week and after reviewing menus and reviews, I was not impressed with the options that were offered this season. Therefore, I was considering skipped this season’s restaurant week. However two of my friends wanted to do restaurant week lunch and dinner. So after getting my arm twisted, I ended up eating a really good lunch at Cut by Wolfgang Puck in Lower Manhattan. My friend wanted to eat there and so I joined her. The service at this restaurant was really good and very accommodating.

For $29, my lunch prix fixe included the following: goat cheese ravioli, crispy quail salad and empire apple crumble.

For dinner, I decided to use my $100 gift card I won at last year’s American Cancer Society Taste of Hope event to eat from Massoni, an Italian/Asian casual fusion restaurant. Service was not par and food was not what I had expected. Furthermore the waiter was terrible, he didn’t know how the food was made and screwed up people’s orders. He suggested items for the $42 prix fixe, which was a bad idea because everything was salty. The waiter too responsibility for his mistake and gave me a free drink and a side dish of squash.

In addition, I took advantage of the happy hour $8 wines until 7pm. I had a Falanghina/fuedi di san gregorio 2014, a white wine and a Barbera/pico maccario 2015, a red wine.

For the $42 salty three course prix fixe dinner, I ordered Biriyani balls, Brussels sprouts pizza, and Snickers cannoli. Let’s put it this way, the cannoli was the best dish out of the three. The first two dishes were so salty that I couldn’t finish it, my friend shared the appetizer with me and I took leftover Brussels Sprouts pizza home.

By far Massoni was probably the worse restaurant week meal I have had and I used the remaining balance on the gift card to order more food to see if their regular menu was better….

My friend ordered the salmon and it was supposed to have potatoes and leeks. Let’s just say the dish was a disappointment because it not only had too much dill but it was salty with very little potatoes and leeks.

If it was not for the gift certificate I would not have eaten at this restaurant. I believe the food needs more work, I have to give the benefit of the doubt that this place opened less than a year ago. Honestly, I would not come back here, there are more restaurants out there to try for better food and service.

Flashback Friday – Chinese Noodle Soup Adventures

Since the temperature plummeted last week, I’ve been having cravings for noodle soup made from Chinese handmade noodles or homemade ramen specifically.  What I love about these noodles is that I don’t have the knowledge that the noodles are processed, what I mean is that it does not contain the durum wheat, which has been documented as a source for weight gain and obesity.  In addition to the healthy appearing noodles, the broth is made to perfection especially on a cold winter night.  

Below are places I’ve had ramen and or homemade Chinese Noodle soup that it’s worth the money spent and it’s filling. 

Mixed Lamb Noodle Soup $8 Uncle Zhou Elmhurst

Spicy Chicken Ramen Soup – $6.95 Cafe Water Water Street NYC

Beef Stew Hand Drawn Noodle Soup – Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House – Elmhurst

Wonton Hand Drawn Noodle Soup – Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House

Kuu Chili Ramen $14 with House Sake $6 during happy hour – Kuu Ramen – Financial District NYC

Mixed Lamb Noodle Soup $8 – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst, NY

Spicy Beef Knife shaved noodle soup – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst NY

Knife shaped noodles – Uncle Zhou – Elmhurst NY

Meatless Monday – 2 ingredients – Sauteed spinach & Garlic

Here’s a quick pick-me-up that is cheap, healthy, gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian side dish.  Recently I brought a bag of Dole Baby Spinach, on sale at Shop & Shop (buy 1 get 1 free) and homemade minced garlic (thank you dad) and put a quick side dish together.

Spinach has many health properties, which were previously mentioned on a past Meatless Monday post.  In addition, spinach has one of the highest if not the highest level of folate, which helps prevent depression, neural tube disorders during pregnancy, and dementia.

 

Garlic has been considered to be medicine food especially in India and China.  It was used to aid respiration and digestion.  It helps reduce inflammation and even prevent cancers.  It also contains neuroprotective properties that helps with visual memory and performing executive functions.  It is also an immune system booster, which helps treat colds and flu.  It helps with high blood pressure and may help treat diabetes.

1 bag of Dole Baby Spinach, washed = 20 calories for 3 cups.

2 tablespoons of minced garlic = 30 calories

  1. Spray the pan with cooking spray

2. Add minced garlic and saute until starts becoming golden brown

3. Stir in spinach gradually until wilted

20171022_2006081419705258.jpg

At various Chinese restaurants I’ve eaten at, this dish or any other green vegetable dish and garlic would cost over $10 (family style) and they use vegetable oil, which is less healthier than olive oil, and grapeseed oil.  This dish can be made with other vegetables such as bok choy and watercress.

 

Traditional Tuesday – Dumplings

This summer I was on a dumpling phase  where I’ve eaten at various restaurants that serve various dumplings.

Historically dumplings were developed during the Han Dynasty in China by Zhang Zhongjing. Zhongjing was considered the “Medicine Saint” in his village.

One year, the people’s ears were frostbitten and he took a piece of dough skin and filled it with mutton, chili and medicinal herbs, wrapped it up and boiled it. This popular winter concoction helped promote blood flow to warm the body.

Today there are varieties of dumplings:

Korea – Mandoo

Italy – Ravioli

Poland – Pierogi

Spain, Portugal, South and Central America – Empanada

India – Samosa

Japan – Gyoza

Turkey – Manti

Tibet/Nepal – Momo

Below are images of the various dumplings I have had within the last two years. I definitely all kinds, but unfortunately no pictures were taken.

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao $6.95

Loofah Xiao Long Bao $7.95

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao Chocolate Dumplings

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Pork Buns $5.25

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Vegetable Dumplings $4.50

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Shanghai Shumai $2.95

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Steamed Crabmeat and Pork Buns $6.25

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns $4.95

Shanghai Cafe Steamed Tiny Buns with Crabmeat $6.95

 

Korean octopus dumplings and glutinous rice dumplings

David Burke Kitchen – BBQ Chicken Dumplings

Klimat Lounge – Polish Pierogi $11

Klimat Lounge – Sauerkraut & mushroom, Spinach Mixed Polish Pierogi $11

Manor Oktoberfest – Pierogies with sour cream $8

Mrs. P’s Pierogies $2.50 (on sale any supermarket)

Agozar Cuban Restaurant – Empanaditas $9

Momos – Himalayan Yak $7

Below is a recent dumpling recipe (Thank you Tasty Japan) I made for Mother’s Day back in May that was creative and very budget friendly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

wp-image-2126289168

 

Meatless Monday – 3 ingredient broccoli slaw

Happy Monday, it’s been a long while since I’ve posted a recipe here. 

Recently, during my food exploration, I visited Trader Joe’s and they were selling a 12 oz. bag of organic broccoli slaw for only $1.69.  In addition, my boyfriend and his friends visited Apple Festival at the Harbes Family Farm where he gave me Blondie apples, gala apples and honey crisp apples. Finally, I found leftover unopened pack of Dole Caesar Dressing Vinegrette from Caesar Salad Kit.  

With the three ingredients, one of each kind of apple was diced.  All of the broccoli slaw and apples are combined.  The dish was completed with the Caesar Dressing. 

It’s simple, quick way to utilize leftovers while using fresh healthy, organic ingredients.