Social Saturday – Sip for the Sea

On September 27, 2018, I had the privilege to win the Yelp/ Instagram contest to attend the Sip for the Sea event at the Central Park Zoo to benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society and New York Aquarium.  The mission of the event was to promote marine conservation and education at the New York Aquarium.  The event featured 22 sustainable dishes and wine pairings from various restaurants.  The food and wine options were overwhelming and unfortunately had only seven of these items so I can’t have favorites, but they all tasted good and the wine pairings complemented each bite.

I can’t wait to visit the restaurants that participate at this event.  Thank you Yelp, Instagram for everything.  Thank you to the organizers at Sip for the Sea for accommodating me and my guest for this great event.

Below are images from the event.

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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!!!

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.

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.

Sunday Game Plan – Filipino Restaurant Week 2018

Happy Mother’s Day! I grew up eating homecooked Filipino food – adobo, sinigang, tinola, pancit, kare-kare and lumpia. The first meals I’ve made as a child were rice, lumpia and turon. These meals were very cost-effective and it would be difficult to open a successful Filipino restaurant because every Filipino would prefer their home cooked meals. However, over the last few years, there have been growing number and popularity of Filipino restaurants that opened in New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. My personal speculation is that Filipinos have become more educated and business savvy to successfully market what is considered authentic Filipino food.

Starting tomorrow May 14 thru May 26, Filipino Restaurant Week will take place in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The goal will be to celebrate the various flavors of Filipino cuisine with special prix-fixe authentic and fusion meals. It’s $25 for lunch/brunch and $35 for dinner.

Last year, a group of my girl friends attempted to take advantage of the brunch pre-fixe at Jeepney in New York City, but, instead we chose the bottomless brunch for $29 with a side of kamote fries. The unlimited mimosas both in mango and kalamansi flavors were so good. Below are images of the entrees we ordered as part of the $29 bottomless brunch deal.

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Chola Burger $17 (ala carte)

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Longsilog $12 (ala carte)

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Kamote Fries

After reviewing the menus and offers for this year’s Filipino restaurant week here is my proposed game plan for New York. There is little chance I’ll be able to head to New Jersey let alone Philadelphia.

  1. Kuma Inn (113 Ludlow St., 2nd Floor) – cash only
  2. Maharlika (111 1st Avenue)
  3. Mountain Province (9 Meserole Street) – lunch/brunch
  4. Talde (369 Seventh Avenue)
  5. Tama (147 Lewis Avenue)
  6. Tito Rad’s (49-10 Queens Blvd. )
  7. Ugly Kitchen (Kamayan Night)

We will continue to keep you posted; check out my Instagram and follow me: tablespoonsandteaspoons. Stay tuned.

Social Saturday – Andaz Kitchen and Bar – Wall Street

Happy Saturday and I’m counting down the days until I’m able to eat food with refined/processed sugar again. As I stated in my last post, I gave up sugar except for the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables for 40 days for Lent. It’s been really challenging and hard especially this last 10 days with the gatherings for St. Patrick’s Day.

Ten days ago I’ve have had the privilege to see a preview of the food and drink at the revived Andaz Kitchen and Bar at the Andaz Wall Street Hotel in Wall Street. Previously named Dina Rata, which I learned was an Indian name meaning moon. It was deceiving that a place with that name was serving Italian food. Anyways, I preferred the new name.

When I arrived, I was greeted with champagne which I did not drink due to the sugar content. However, I settled for the Chianti which has low sugar, thanks to one of the general managers who suggested the wine as he also gave up sugar. The wine went well with my selection of crudites containing fruits, and vegetables with no hummus, dressing and/or dip to avoid the possibility to ingesting sugar.

I was impressed by the food display and presentation. I loved the color of the vegetables indicating that it is fresh. I also liked the cheese and cold cuts selection.

Next, the passed food samples from the menu, which included a variety of dishes inspired from different cultures including Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Italy and Vietnam.

Below are images of the food created by Executive Chef Pietro Consorti from the event:

Crudites

Cheese and charcuterie display

Tasting plate of cheese and cold cuts

Tasting plate of fresh and colorful vegetables

Bread, butter and anchovies

Jerk Pork Sliders

Toasted prosciutto and baguette

Puntarelle e stracciatella

Panzarella red snapper and green olives

Beef Peccadillo plantains

Fruit berry tart

Rum babba

Flan de leche

Liquid Lab mixology interactive cocktail session setup

It was obvious that I did not eat everything due to the 40 day sugar sacrifice. As a result I did not try anything containing bread and dessert. However, my favorite even from just looking at the menu was the Beef Peccadillo plantains.

Thank you to the management team at Andaz and Andaz Kitchen and Bar including Executive Chef Pietro Consorti for making me feel welcomed. I can’t wait to return and sample the remaining dishes.

Big shout out to the Liquid Lab team for a great demo on making the cocktails, which I could not participate. I do look forward to seeing them in the future.

Stay tuned for more.

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.

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)