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)!

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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….

 

 

 

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.

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.

Throwback Thursday – Queens International Night Market

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Last weekend we went to the Queens International Night Market behind the New York Hall of Science inside Flushing Corona Park in Queens.  Founder John Wang, started the International Night Market started in 2015 in the effort to create a cultural event celebrating the diversity of immigrants and small businesses.  The Night Market was designed to sell dishes at a cap of $5 and what I’ve learned is that half of the proceeds were going to be donated.

On July 1, there were 38 food vendors that participated in the event.  The vendors came from various countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Colombia, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia.  In addition to the diverse food options there were unique food creations such as the Twisted Potato and Twister Cake.

The first time I actually visited the Night Market was when it first opened in 2015 and I went alone.  I highly do not recommend going to this night market alone because the food choices are very overwhelming.  What is amazing about this experience is that each food item purchase ranged between $3 and $6 and what is even better is that the portion size was shareable.  In our case, we split everything.

During our visit to the Night Market, we sampled food from 12 out of the 38 food vendors. Just want to disclose that healthy food choices during our visit did not cross our minds as we were embracing the diversity that is celebrated through cultural and even fusion dishes.  Below are the dishes that we tried that stood out from the event.  The total cost of the dishes below we spent was: $57 for two people, which is not bad for 12 different dishes.  There were two vendors we’ve tried and paid the extra $20, but pictures were not taken.  Queens International Night Market

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My top 5 favorites in this exact order:

  1. Waffle Mac and Cheese from House of Mac
  2. Sisig Tacos from Lahi 
  3. Monster Ice from Panda Cafe
  4. Cajun Twisted Potato from Twisted Potato
  5. Summer Roll from Roll Ram

Can’t wait to return to the market again, which will hopefully be either next weekend or the following weekend.  When I return I would like to try Eema’s Cuisine, Moffle Bar, Karl’s Balls, Moon Man, Malaysian Project, Arepalicious, Burmese Bites, DiLena’s Dolcini Tei Nei Ya and Jibarito Shack if they are still there.

The Queens International Night Market are available every Saturday Evening from 6pm to midnight until August 19 and from September 30-October 28.

Stay tuned for more!

Happy Mother’s Day from Tablespoons and teaspoons 

On behalf of Tablespoonsandteaspoons we want to wish all mothers are very happy Mother’s Day.  

My mother was a main inspiration to creating tablespoonsandteaspoons.  When she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2010, we were on a mission to find the best foods that would help treat the disease. This mission led to my thesis in 2014 the assessed current research on health literacy on rheumatic arthritis patients. 

This year as requested by my mother she wanted a home cooked meal. So to knock two birds with one stone I did research and found a get gift idea…

These homemade bouquet dumplings. The rose dumplings were made with pork and the leaves were made with vegetables.  

The total cost to make this creative gift is under $20. 

Throwback Thursday/Flashback Friday – Pork Dishes Filipino & Thai style 

Today’s first Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday post of 2017 is a double duo, filled with cultural and food experiences that I can identify with – Pork. 

Although pork is forbidden in some cultures, it is also one of the most popular types of meat in eastern Asia especially in the Philippines and Thailand. 

Pork, the product of the pig comes in a variety of forms and there are many ways of preparing them for consumption. 

In the New Year, one of the lucky foods to consume is pork because the pork is said to be rotund, which signifies prosperity. Since it is derived from the pig, the animal itself “roots forward” symbolizing progress.  Not only pork brings good luck it is also healthy. 

Health Benefits of consuming pork include: 

– Protein for growing and maintaining muscle

So, given this information for the occasion I decided to turn back time to several posts here as well as my own experiences to attempt a healthier yet authentic version of the Filipino adobo and Thai grilled pork (moo ping).  Better yet the cost to make both of these dishes was under $10 and it serves 4 people plus leftovers. 

Pork Belly Adobo

The pork belly was sliced and marinated in 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 4 tablespoons of tamarind sauce, 4 tablespoons of datu puti, garlic, onions, ginger and bay leaves. The only addition added was star anise. The dish was marinated for 3-3.5 hours at room temperature.  The dish was prepared as described in one of my earliest post: Chicken Thigh Adobo

Moo Ping – Thai grilled pork

One of father’s favorite Thai dishes is moo ping, translated in Thai for grilled pork. Inspired by one of the best pork dishes at Ayada, I attempted to replicate the dish while keeping it healthy. 

Pork shoulder was sliced and marinated in garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar for 3-4 hours prior to grilling. Normally this dish is prepared in skewers. 

So today we covered a throwback recipe and a flashback dish at a restaurant to make two lucky cultural pork dishes for the New Year. Hopefully this double duo will help Tablespoonsandteaspoons progress to bigger and better 2017. Cheers! 

Happy Thanksgiving 

On behalf of Tablespoonsandteaspoons we want to wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and Blessed Thanksgiving. So thankful to God, family and supporters for the blessing and opportunity to share this journey with all of you.  

Working on developing new ideas for the holiday posts coming up. Stay tuned.