Throwback Thursday: Three Day Food and Networking Adventure: Healthy Food Expo/International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo and CoffeeFest

Hello everyone, it’s been a long time since I last posted, I don’t even remember when I wrote something here (that is really bad). I hope this post makes up for not posting since my review of this year’s NYC Winter Restaurant Week.

Over six weeks ago, I have had the privilege to attend my first Healthy Food Expo/International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo and CoffeeFest at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. This was a three day event and it was the best three days I have had in a long long time. I was honored to meet and learn from empowering chefs and health care professionals. It was so much connecting and reconnecting with people who share the same passion in food and healthy eating. There were food tasting and presentations. I went to 6 presentations that day and they were all amazing and inspiring. For the Healthy Expo I attended the presentation(s) entitled:

FRESH Food Tips for a Sustainable and Healthy Lifestyle, One Meal at a Time by Dr. Robert Graham who is a native New Yorker born and raised in Jackson Heights and now founder of Fresh Medicine an integrative health organization that address the root cause of medicine. FRESH Rx is made up of five components: food, relaxation, exercise, sleep and happiness – a recipe to health. The components are necessary to make the patient healthier. Check out their website and follow their Instagram and Twitter page: freshmednyc.

The Power Of Spices and Their Health Benefits by Dr. Kanchan Koya, Health Coach and founder of Spice Spice Baby which addresses evidence based science behind the health benefits of spices such as curcumin an active ingredient from in tumeric. Her presentation of spices and its health benefits are informative and resourceful. Check out her blog and follow her Instagram page: Chefspicemama and Twitter page: Kkoya.

For the International Restaurant and Foodservice Expo I attended four cooking demos by Chef Marcus Samuelson who made a pasta dish and a very tasty scallop dish while sharing his empowering and inspiring journey to pursuing his passion in the culinary arts. Now I am interested in reading his memoir titled “Yes, Chef: A Memoir” and hopefully one day this summer I can make a pit stop Red Rooster and try his famous fried chicken. Check out his website on his impressive accomplishments and follow him on Instagram and Twitter: marcuscooks.


SCALLOP CRUDO HIBISCUS, MACADAMIA

GARGANELLI SWEET POTATO, AYIB (sorry about the blurry photo, my hands were full)

The next day, I was ecstatic to attend cooking demos by thriving women chefs Anita Lo and Amanda Cohen. In addition, I learned how to make pasta in a food processor by Fabio Viviani and watched a Meatless Monday cooking competition. I enjoyed hearing Anita Lo talk and cook her awesome cauliflower chaat with almonds. Her story was inspiring because she is also a first generation Asian American who is living her passion. Unfortunately I did not make it to one of her initial restaurants Annisa, I was lucky to even win her new cookbook “Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One” and replicate some of the recipes. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter: AnitaLoNYC.


CAULIFLOWER CHAAT WITH ALMONDS – amazing dish and she made look so easy to make no wonder why she is a Michelin Star Chef, Iron Chef Winner against Bobby Flay and a Top Chef Master

Next I stayed to listened to Amanda Cohen’s story behind the ups and downs of starting a vegetarian restaurant and maintaining it. Her persistence, creativity and passion for cooking vegetables is remarkable and I have learned so many ways to utilize a simple vegetable such as a carrot. I have yet to eat at Dirt Candy but all my peers and friends that have eaten there raved about it and told me to eat there. Yes, Dirt Candy is on my bucket list as one of the restaurants to go to this year (God willing). I was impressed how Amanda created her famous and popular dish Carrot Risotto and Carrot Dumplings. She utilizes a lot of science and technique to make this dish high end while utilizing ingredients on a budget. I have tasted this dish and it was amazing. Unfortunately, I failed to get a good clear photo of this beautiful dish. Luckily I won her cookbook “Dirt Candy: A Cookbook” which contains this recipe and I sense a calling to replicate this dish. Check her restaurant’s website and follow the restaurant’s Instagram: dirtcandynyc and Twitter: dirtcandy.

Chef Cohen’s cooking demo was followed by Chef Fabio Viviani’s cooking demo on making fresh fettuccine with roasted pine nuts and basil pesto. He made fresh pasta using a food processor, his method was 4 tablespoons of flour per 1 large egg. His demo made it look so easy as it took about two minutes to create the dough on the food processor. After the dough is made, if the dough is too sticky and wet add more flour and if the dough is too grainy and starchy add a little water. I was so excited of how simple and quick to make fresh pasta that I tried it at home. Luckily I won his cookbook “Fabio’s 30 minute Italian” which contained the recipe of replicating the fresh pasta. I have attempted to make the fresh pasta, but more on that later. I felt that the demo was rushed and quick due to time constraints. In addition, he was also the judge for the next food demo – The Rapid Fire Challenge, among three chefs themed Meatless Monday. The winner wins $1000.

On to the Rapid Fire Challenge the three way battle of the best Meatless Monday dish. The challenge was judged by: Maria Loi, Cookbook Author, Greek Food Ambassador, and Healthy Lifestyle Expert; Peggy Neu, President of The Monday Campaigns ; Gennaro Pecchia, Co-Host of Rolands Food Court at Sirius XM and Chef Fabio Viviani who is also a restaurateur. The challenge started with Chef Patricia Washuta from Orlando, FL who presented the following dish: Impossible Meatless Kefta, which was creative, tasty, healthy, low carb and budget friendly. Check out her audition video of the dish on YouTube.

Impossible Meatless Kefta

The second dish was presented by Chef Heidi Liv Tompkins from Heidi’s Health Kitchen in New York, NY who presented her dish: Mock Tuna Recipe. The dish is gluten free, plant based, organic, paleo and therefore, healthy.

Mock Tuna Recipe (apologies for the blurred photo)

The final dish was presented by Chef Lisa Sereda from Wine Time based in Chico, CA who presented her Walnut “Meat” Stuffed Anaheim Pepper, which was my personal favorite because of its presentation and taste.

Walnut “Meat” Stuffed Anaheim Pepper 

After tough judging from Maria Loi and debates about the origin of food among the judges, the winning dish of the Rapid Fire Challenge was the Mock Tuna by Chef Heidi Liv Tompkins. Congratulations Chef Heidi!

In addition to the amazing talks and demos I have had the privilege to experience, I get to sample various food products from new businesses who are seeking to sell their products in US markets. There were so many amazing new products out there are creative and healthy. It was a honor to be a participant in tasting these products before they go out to the distributor(s).

My favorite savory tastings from the expo were the:

  • Aliments Mello Inc – Smoked Meat Brisket Sandwich – the meat melts like butter in your mouth
  • Synear Shrimp Supreme Dumpling promoted by Walong Marketing – Dumpling is really good; the filling was amazing; this brand does not skimp on the shrimp.
  • Mama’s in the Kitchen Breaded Shrimp was the perfect balance of shrimp with breading. The breading can be purchased online. They also have breading for chicken and fish.
  • Chef Fun Foods seasoned fries using the shake bags: these fries shakened with various flavors. My favorites were BBQ, garlic parmesan and sour cream and onion.
  • BeItalian Meatballs and pecorino in cooked wine – these meatballs were freshly cooked and very authentic. The dish was a collaborative effort organized by Lombardia Fiere.
  • VegeWorld Vegetarian meats from Malaysia and I was impressed by the taste of the products. My favorites were the Vegetarian Lamb, Vege Roasted Chicken and Vege Hawaiian Chicken.
  • Gianni’s Chicken Burgers were awesome chicken burgers made locally in Long Island. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture, but I can testify that I will be ordering these burgers online. In addition, their burgers are sold at local supermarkets in White Plains and Huntington. My personal favorites were Jalapeno Popper Chicken Burgers and Original Chicken Spinach Burger.

My top 5 sweet tastings from the expo were the:

  • Mochidoki Green Tea and Passion Fruit Mochi Ice Cream – great healthy dessert; a perfect end to my savory food tastings. Mochidoki has 12 flavors and some of their products are sold at Turnstyle Underground Market and you can place an order online that includes all 12 flavors.
  • Carubies Decadent Carob Truffles from Heidi’s Health Kitchen is a healthy and tasty truffle. Who knew that these truffle chocolates are plant-based and gluten free? This means that the products are soy free, dairy free, and caffeine free. These truffles can be purchased online on their website. Personally the best buy is their original flavor for $20 which has 20 pieces.
  • Everyday Gourmet Bakery Cookies were so good. Did you know that they are vegan, kosher, non-GMO, and made with whole grains? In addition, they are nutritious with a good amount of protein and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese. These cookies can be purchased online and the best buy is the 2 box pack only for $5.
  • Wateke Foods is new company based in Florida who produces various products especially guacamole, acai, frozen fruits and beverages. I only tried the acai which was fresh and good. I have yet to try the guacamole, but based on their high tech technology, the product still looks fresh and I can’t wait to eat with my chips.
  • Pure Crumb is another local product developed by a NYC Fitness Trainer containing less calories and a perfect snack to satisfy a sweet craving. Plus, it’s gluten free and only 150 calories. They come in two flavors: banana bread and chocolate brownie. My favorite was the chocolate brownie. The products are sold online and are currently on sale for $24 for 8 pack and $44 for 16 pack.
  • Earth Effect Frozen Greek Yogurt is a local sustainable product that is healthy. They are a new company in search for partners and manufacturers to support their mission. The frozen yogurt comes in five flavors: tart with dates and pistachios, chocolate with coconut brittle and sliced almonds, Taihitian vanillia with strawberry jam and chocolate, maple and maple pecans and coffee with hazelnut butter and chocolate. I have had tried all five flavors and my favorites were: Taihitian vanillia with strawberry jam and chocolate, coffee with hazelnut butter and chocolate and chocolate with coconut brittle and sliced almonds.

After eating and sampling all the foods at the event, I have had to stay hydrated with drink samples from various companies both non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Below were my favorites:

  1. Figspresso is a plant-based, gluten-free beverage based in Long Island made from dried and roasted figs. This beverage is deceivingly healthy and it would serve as a great alternative for coffee and tea.
  2. Dandy Lion Tea is an organic tea made from dandylions and fruit. They come in two flavors: cherry and peach. It is kosher and organic. Did you know that dandelion is good for digestion and detox? I’ve tasted both flavors and my personal favorite was cherry.
  3. Saratoga Spring Sparkling Water is spring water made locally in Saratoga Springs. The company has been around since 1872!
  4. Cliffton Dry Wine Cider is a vegan, low calorie, low sugar, gluten free and low alcoholic beverage. It is a sparkling wine equivalent to prosecco but made with locally grown apples from the New York’s Finger Lakes Region. This beverage was really good and they’re accessible in some NYC restaurants and Whole Foods.
  5. Senor Sangria is sangria mixed with natural ingredients with either merlot for the red sangria, sauvignon blanc for white sangria and syrah for their new flavor: apple raspberry. I tried all three flavors and they all tasted great, but apple raspberry was my favorite. What’s interesting about their new flavor is that there is no sugar in this sangria making it more healthy.
  6. Brooklyn Crafted Herbal Teas and reTreat Juices are beverages manufactured by Brooklyn Food and Beverage, which is based in Bushwick community in Brooklyn. The herbal teas were pretty good; I have only tried the chrysanthemum and hibiscus herbal flavors. However, the reTreat juices were the standouts for me as the fruits came from places such Thailand. I was excited and enjoyed the mangosteen flavors of these juices. These teas and juices can be found in some local supermarkets.
  7. Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer is manufactured by Brooklyn Food and Beverage, which is based in Bushwick community in Brooklyn. The ginger beers were legit meaning is that they are made with real natural ingredients and cane sugar and has the right amount of kick for each level of spice intensity. They can be found in some markets in Brooklyn and used in some restaurants in the city to make cocktails such as the mule.
  8. Kelvin Slush Company is a local organic cocktail mix that is non-GMOs and has no high fructose corn syrup. It is also vegan, kosher and gluten free. So I had tasted some of the flavors, but my favorite was the aperol spritz and frose. The cocktail mix come in various flavors and they are all available on Amazon.
  9. Asarasi is sparkling tree water that is plant-based. This naturally produced water comes in five flavors. My favorites were mango and cherry. All five flavors are available for purchase on their website.
  10. Graft Cider is a company that makes gluten free ciders. These ciders are produced in New York by two siblings. I have had three flavors and my favorite was the Lost Tropic which is a hop mimosa cider. These ciders can be purchased at various restaurants and local markets.

There’s a lot more I have sampled, but unfortunately I did not have good pictures. Overall, it was a honor to connect with people who share the same passion of food, health and medicine. I hope that I will be able to see their products in the US markets and stores so people can enjoy them.

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 – Da Nico Ristorante – Little Italy 

One of the popular festivities celebrated in New York is the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy.  This festival last 10 days, this year the festival started from 9/14 thru 9/24.  The festival is held along Mulberry Street.  The street is so packed to the point of claustrophobia and it can be worse than rush hour.

There were a variety of food items such as sausage and peppers, pastries, pina coladas, seafood, fried oreos etc. to purchase but they are overpriced. Personally I’ve avoided eating food from the vendors.  Therefore I prefer eating at one of my favorite spots:

Da Nico Ristorante (164 Mulberry Street) is a local favorite in Little Italy and it has a garden. But with the humidity and hot weather we decided to stay indoors.

We went on a Friday night and we walked in and were seated immediately.  I’ve eaten here several times for lunch and was never disappointed.  The place as I recalled was known for their meat dishes.  Portions of each dish were perfect where there were no leftovers. Service was overall great and very accommodating given the busy atmosphere. I definitely want to return here for lunch and eat at the garden.

Here are the dishes that were ordered:

Appetizer: Mozzarella In Carrozza $13. This dish is coated in different kinds of flour and breading. The texture was light not greasy. The sauce was so good. Unfortunately, was hoping for more slices. 

Entrees: Both entrees came with sides of vegetables and a rice ball.  Vegetables were good, the rice ball, not so much.  A side of penne alla vodka was also ordered, however, there were better versions.

The star main entrees overall were amazing, the taste and texture remained the same after 13 years. 

Pollo Cardinale – chicken breast, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and mozzarella $24

Veal Marsala – veal scallopine with sauteed mushrooms in Marsala wine $25

Dessert: Zeppoles – COMPLEMENTARY

Da Nico provided complementary zeppoles. I was so full from my entree, nonetheless, they were well made not too greasy and love the dusting balance. 


Stay tuned tomorrow for another food adventure in Little Italy.

Throwback Thursday: Eataly Presents: Stop and Smell the Rose

On August 23, I’ve decided to take advantage of my discounted coupon from Gilt City to purchase my ticket for the summer event: Eataly Presents: Stop and Smell the Rose in Eataly’s newest restaurant Vino e Grano. 

The overall event provided a great walkthrough of Eataly Downtown. The walkthrough consisted on stations that was well placed where everyone can pace themselves sampling all the food and wine being offered. 

My favorites were the pasta alla Norma, parmagiano reggiano, seasonal bruchetta (snap peas with ricotta), skewered mozzarella and the Rose Sorbetto.

Below are images from the day’s event. 















Meatless Monday – Vegetarian Friendly Restaurant Week Summer 2017 Game Plan

Happy Monday! With halfway through NYC restaurant week, I’m playing catch up. Over the last 3-4 weeks, I’ve been thoroughly reviewing 337 out of the 390 menus for this season’s restaurant week. This week I will be blogging my picks that I believe is the best bang for your buck.  

In addition, if you have an American Express credit card you can register your card to get an extra $5 off your meal purchase of $35 or more for up to 4x for restaurant week.  

If you have instagram you can take pictures of your prix fixe course and tag #NYCrestaurantweek for a daily chance of winning a $50 gift card. 

So let’s get to it:

Since it is Meatless Monday, I came up with seven (7) participating restaurants that you can enjoy a three course vegetarian meal for either $29 or $42. 

Here’s the game plan for vegetarians who want to enjoy NYC restaurant week:

Three course Prix Fixe Vegetarian Options picks for NYC Restaurant Week.

1) Acme – $42 3-course  dinner    

    Appetizer: Caesar Salad

    Entree: Baked Rigatoni 

    Dessert: Affrogato

2) Casa Lever – $42 3-course dinner 

    Appetizer: Caprese or Insalata Di  Barbabietole

    Entree: Gnudi or Cacio e Pepe or Arrabbiata

    Dessert: Mix Your Berries or Formaggi

3) Distilled NY – $29 brunch (Sunday)

     Appetizer: Housemade Granola or Fresh Start Salad

     Entree: Mushroom and Cheese Enchilada

     Dessert: Blueberry Semolina Cake or Earl Grey Panna Gotta

4) Empellon Taqueria – $42 dinner 

     Appetizer: Little Gem Lettuce with Toasted Corn or Carrots with Achiote and Coconut Crema

     Entree: Mixed Mushrooms with Pasilla Chile taco or Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Almond 

     Dessert: Passion Fruit Curd with Citrus, Mezcal and Meringue. 

5. Felice 64 – $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Arancini (lunch), Crostone Ricotta (dinner)

    Entree: Spaghetti al Pesto or Fusilli so Ferretto 

    Dessert: Gelati e Sorbetti

6) La Pecora Blanca –  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Cauliflower (lunch) or Toscano (dinner)

    Entree: Toscano (lunch) or Orata (dinner)

    Dessert: Ricotta Cheesecake

7) Sant Ambroeus Soho  $29 lunch/$42 dinner (best to go during lunch)

    Appetizer: Tofu “Ricotta”

    Entree: Linguine Cacio e Pepe

    Dessert: Torta Do Frutta

Out of the 7 restaurants, I’ve only eaten at Empellon Taqueria and their Brussels sprouts with Toasted Almond taco was so good but the portions are very small, definitely pricey for $14 for 2 tacos. 

Looking forward to blogging more restaurant options this week. Enjoy and stay tuned! 

Meatless Monday – Game Plan – Meatless Budget Friendly Dishes Inspired by “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe”

Two Mondays ago, on March 20, I’ve had the privilege to attend the launch of Assouline’s “Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe” at La Sirena located in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan.  The event was well attended by local TV personalities and celebrities such as Carla Hall from ABC The Chew, Nicky Hilton Rothchild, Timo Weiland, Prosper Assouline, and Alexandre Assouline. 

Artistic and natural images depicting the relationship between art and food were provided by Robyn Lea who was present to sign copies of the book.  Recipes from the cookbook utilizes local and traditional ingredients inspired by the artist’s relationship of food and the New Mexican landscape. 

More importantly I came there to explore and taste the food created by La Sirena’s Michelin starred chef Anthony Sasso. Cocktails were sponsored by VDKA600. 

The food was overall tasty and natural. The recipes provided appear to be user friendly and ingredients are health-friendly and accessible at any supermarket. Unfortunately I was unable to taste everything because of the sacrificial commitment to give up meat for Lent. 

Top: Miss Scarlet “O’Keefe” containing VD600Vodka in Mandarin orange. Bottom: The Tao Margherita

Chilled Gazpacho

Chickpea and Eggplant Casserole with Fresh Basil

Split Pea and Ham appetizer inspired from the Rancho de Abiquiu Split Pea and Ham recipe

Finger food version of the Spaghetti with Pesto Genovese

Steak tartare using ingredients from the Sizzling Bourbon steak with garlic and crushed peppercorn recipe

Pecan Delights

Finger foods inspired by recipes from the book

For the next two weeks, I will be seeking to test out the meatless version of this recipes such as the spaghetti and pesto Genovese and chickpea and eggplant casserole. 

Social Saturday – Queens Taste 2016

Happy weekend! It has been over a week since I last posted and it was a very overwhelming week.  Today, I am introducing a temporary weekly post called Social Saturday where I will be posting an experience attending an event that focuses on restaurants and various types of food.  I will begin this post with my first event I have had the privilege to cover, Queens Taste 2016.

On Thursday May, 3 2016, the New York Hall of Science hosted the annual Queens Taste 2016.  The event showcased about 50-60 restaurants, products and small businesses.  It was ideal for the Queens foodie.  The event overall highlighted classic dishes such as hamburgers and root beer floats while celebrating the diverse cuisines from Italian to Caribbean Chinese.  Proceeds from the event will support the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC).  QEDC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to “attract, create, and maintain jobs in the borough through business services, neighborhood development, the Entrepreneur Space (our food-and-business incubator), and marketing attractions through the Queens Tourism Council and the It’s in Queens and Discover Queens brands”.

After a conversation with the organizers of the event, they were wondering as to how I will be able to incorporate these sample tastings and promote them as being healthy.  So, after sampling some of the food provided I decided to highlight and organize the dish I sampled according to the following:

  1. National Strawberry Month
  2. Gluten Free
  3. Classic and Comforting Desserts
  4. National Hamburger Month
  5. Catering Classics
  6. Diverse Dishes
  7. Bar Snack, non-alcoholic shake & an Asian fusion classic

Scenes from the Event

National Strawberry Month – Strawberry Sweets

Gluten Free Desserts

Classic and Comforting Desserts

Catering Classics

Diverse Dishes

Bar Snacks, Non-alcoholic drink, Asian Fusion twist on a classic