Anginetti Cookies – simple flavors that add to the joys of any Easter table

BY ELENA MANCINI

One of my fondest Easter memories growing up  Williamsburg, Brooklyn, were actually the days leading up to Easter and all of the treats that my mother, grandmother, aunts and family friends would exchange with each other’s families during Holy Thursday and Easter morning.

Staples among these were pizza rustica, Neapolitan Pastiera or Wheat pie–a recipe I have posted here in the past– and Anginetti cookies. Growing up, my Aunt Rita’s were always my favorite because she always  added a hint of Anisette liqueur to her delicious lemon glaze.  As with many nonne (Italian for grandmothers), her mastery is such that she would bake batches and batches of perfect Anginetti by counting on her ever unfailing eyeball measurements. 

Click on the plate of cookies below for an easy to follow recipe for Anginetti, courtesy of in pureprovender.com. Note: go ahead and double the doses. They’ll be sure to go fast!

Anginetti Recipe - courtesy of Alison McCarthy - pureprovender.com

Anginetti Recipe – courtesy of Alison McCarthy – pureprovender.com

Happy Easter – Buona Pasqua!

 

 

 

A Celebration of Schmaltz at 92Y

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Michael Ruhlman loves fat.

Dumplings cooked in schmaltz

Dumplings cooked in schmaltz

Particularly, he is passionate about schmaltz, or rendered chicken fat. Though he’s “100% goy,” Ruhlman’s affection led him to write, The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat. He talked about this venture Monday at 92Y.

Ruhlman discussed how the fat was used for survival amongst Eastern European Jews, since oil was unavailable and lard was not Kosher. Schmaltz is essentially chicken fat and onion browned together. Ducks or geese were also used to create schmaltz.

It’s a rare gem, since it’s not something you can go grab from a store. Though you may be able to find it at a deli counter, it really should be made from scratch. It was an important staple in traditional Jewish cuisine, an essential ingredient used to hold together meals.

 

Chopped liver and dumplings

Chopped liver and dumplings

 

“We’ve lost sight of how fundamental [food] is,” he said.

The tradition of creating and utilizing schmaltz was almost lost once people started thinking it was unhealthy, Ruhlman said. He wants to keep the tradition alive, and believes it’s healthier than butter. He suggests using schmaltz to make latkes, kugel and fried potatoes.

The first time I had schmaltz was life-changing. I may have tried it as a kid, but I don’t remember. The moment I recall was at Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse in the Lower East Side. A classic old-school New York City establishment, this place gave me a glimpse of how my grandparents used to cook. (My dad’s mother was Roumanian.) Though my dad stared in fake horror as I drenched my bread in schmaltz, I’m sure he did the same thing when he was younger, and probably was probably jealous as I let the chicken fat and fresh bread melt together in my mouth.

Ruhlman is a huge advocate of cooking at home, and the idea of schmaltz represents something special to him.

I agree with his food ideology. Cooking at home implies that you know what’s in your food, as you’ve sourced the ingredients and created the results yourself. If you’re going to cook a chicken, you should use all the parts. Using the fat to make schmaltz is a fantastic way of utilizing the entire chicken, as is using the bones for stock. The point is not to waste things that can be used to create more food. After all, who doesn’t like more food? Don’t forget the gribenes, which are crispy chicken or goose cracklings. These are incredible and can be eaten as a snack or used to make chopped liver.

In moderation, fat really isn’t all that bad for us, even though many food companies and diet books have led us to believe it’s the enemy. We just have to remain aware of what we are putting into our bodies, and cooking for yourself is the best way to do that.

Coffee and Rum Hit it Off at Times Square Tasting

BY BETH KAISERMAN

Coffee and rum are a tasty duo. Coffee-infused rum. Rum in coffee. It looks like I’m late to the ballgame, since Pirate’s Coffee is already a concoction on drinksmixer.com.

 coffee rum resized

Coffee Bean Direct and Jersey Artisan Distilling, both New Jersey-based companies, presented a tasting at the Hilton Times Square last week to showcase their products in Manhattan.

green coffee resized

Coffee Bean Direct is an online ordering site that imports beans from all over the world and roasts them fresh daily. Some highlights of CBD’s huge (seriously endless) selection of flavors included maple bacon, which is actually vegan since it uses a bacon flavoring. That was the strangest revelation of the day. I was a fan of the holiday blend, which has caramel, hazelnut and French vanilla, according to roastmaster Al Marrone. Though I’ve given up flavored coffees because they usually leave a weird lingering aftertaste, these ones left a surprisingly clean (and not overly bacon-y) aftertaste. In fact, the bacon flavoring merely provided a hint of smoke in the brew. I’m sure the flavor would be more pronounced with a side of bacon, but don’t let me influence you.

 

The already massive selection is always growing. Check out the Zombie Cure, a fun alternative to pumpkin flavored coffee. Tea drinkers are in luck, too; the company just launched a separate brand, Tattle Tea, which offers a ton of unique and expertly crafted selections.

Located in Frenchtown, New Jersey, Coffee Bean Direct is run by a tight-knit crew that started in 2004. They now sell 1 million pounds of coffee per year, including unroasted green coffee that people can roast at home themselves. Most of their orders are made and then shipped the next day, if not sooner, CEO Andrew Esserman said.

About an hour away in Fairfield, New Jersey, history is being made at Jersey Artisan Distilling, the state’s first distillery since Prohibition. Busted Barrel rum is its first product, the name inspired by federal agents literally busting barrels of booze, killing the buzz of surrounding partygoers.

There is silver rum, good for drinks like mojitos, and dark rum, made of molasses, water, yeast and lemon juice aged for five months in charred American white oak barrels with a handful of vanilla beans.

“You can drink it as a whiskey,” co-founder Brant Braue said.

Along with the friendly folks at Coffee Bean Direct, Braue created a delicious coffee-infused dark rum, re-using beans that had already brewed coffee. This was a genius collaboration that I hope hits shelves soon!

Busted Barrel is only sold in New Jersey for now. On the distillery’s menu for spring is a Jersey sweet corn-based vodka and “seasonal treasures” like tomato vodka, Nick LaPlaca of R&J Public Relations said. Whiskey and bourbon should appear in 2016, according to the Jersey Artisan Distilling web site.

The event offered a really fun peek into two New Jersey businesses that are really passionate about the products they make.

A Friulian Culinary Experience in New York

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

The Astor Center
399 Lafayette Avenue

East Village

 

Casa Vinicola Zonin hosted a second Italian Culinary Experience in New York City featuring SD26, Delverde Pasta and Zonin’s own Tenuta Ca’Bolani winery last week.  Chef Matteo Bergamini from SD26, a native of Northern Italy himself, prepared a menu highlighting Zonin’s wines from the Friuli region known for its stunning whites.

Representatives from both Zonin and SD26 families were present, including owners Tony and Marisa May of SD26 (and the former San Domenico).  Mr. May talked about his 50 years in the restaurant business, the careful consideration that goes into each item on SD26’s menu, and even his personal food preferences – a quality pasta being an integral part of any pasta dish.  As a restaurant with one of the most impressive wine lists in New York City – all visible on a touch screen tablet – it was only natural that the SD26 and Zonin families came together to create a Friulian inspired culinary experience.

 

Zonin’s flagship prosecco was served upon arrival – an important part of any day, we learned, in Italy and was enjoyed alongside a simple cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, sprinkled with a classic Friulian frico, or cheese crisp.

 

Steamed white asparagus with poached egg

Steamed white asparagus with poached egg

A decadent steamed white asparagus first course was topped with hollandaise and a poached egg, only to set the tone for a rich and hearty rest of our meal.  Zonin’s Pinot Grigio Superiore 2012 paired well with the dish, but was better standing on its own as a well balanced, fruity, fresh tasting wine.

Zonin2

Chef Matteo and Tony May

Chef Matteo prepared a light, yet decadent, lemon risotto with periwinkles in front of us while Mr. May and Jelena Meisel of Zonin quipped about the use of butter and cheese in a risotto (our version was without).  Zonin’s Sauvignon “Aquilis” proved to be an interesting pairing with notes of sage and grapefruit cutting through the risotto and causing me to return for bite after bite. 

Wild boar ragu with pickled raisins and pine nuts

Wild boar ragu with pickled raisins and pine nuts

Our pasta course introduced the first Friulian red of the evening and with it the Delverde pasta boys who kept the women in the room more interested than they have ever been before in pasta.  Delverde’s artisanal pastas are imported from a small factory in Italy made with top quality ingredients.  Compared to other dried brands, Delverde’s slightly rough texture helps sauce stick to the pasta and a more pronounced yellow color comes from ingredients that are true to Italian pasta making – that being said, our wild boar ragu served with Delverde’s flagship pappardelle was stand out and also holds the spot for my favorite pairing of the night with the Tenuta Ca’Bolani winery’s Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2011.  The deep red wine tamed the acidic pasta sauce and complimented nicely the pickled raisins that garnished the ragu. 

Quail with black fig

Quail with black fig

Our last savory course, a roasted quail with black fig with a light chicory pesto was accented by a Refosco, the “Alturio” 2007, a full bodied, spicy red. 

For Dessert, the Brachetto – the only wine of the night from the Castello del Poggio Winery known for its sweeter wines – was slightly sweet, crisp, and a refreshing end to the meal only made better by an apple tortino that’d I’d love to enjoy again and again.

 

Once again Zonin and their partners hosted a lovely and informative night of fine Italian wine and food where almost, just almost I could close my eyes and transport myself out of New York City to the breezy plains of northeastern Italy.

What’s On… East 20th Street? (between Broadway and Park Avenue South) Gramercy

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Gramercy

Gramercy Tavern may make this block a cut above these days, but before the famed restaurant called East 20th home, Theodore Roosevelt did.  Stop by the Teddy Roosevelt Museum on this block and take a tour of the house in which he was born.  The site pays homage to the life and times of America’s 26th president.   The aptly named Performance Studio also called E 20th home at number 23 and saw a very green Ramones play their first show in 1974.  Today, E 20th Street between Broadway and Park is a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Broadway and the high-society feel of Park Ave.  Great food finds without the crowds or the attitude await!

 

900 Broadway – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Its entrance is basically on E 20th, a catty-corner door facing neither E 20th or Broadway.  Beecher’s makes its own cheese, hence the name of the store, but also carries a variety of other artisan cheeses, salumi and anything else you’d like to go along with the two.  Stop by The Cellar downstairs to indulge in Beecher’s famous mac and cheese or a selection from their dinner menu.  Don’t forget the wine… and more cheese.

 

27 E 20th Street – Rohm

Rohm Thai sits down a few steps from street level just enough to duck out of sight and keep Rohm a quiet spot where you can bring a date.  The music is fun and upbeat, and the food and pricing right in line with other Thai offerings.  Though most may find it rather un-sensational, those who dig it are loyal and come back for more time and time again.

Rohm on Urbanspoon

 

 

Rohm’s exterior

Rohm’s exterior

29 E 20th Street – Mizu

It’s Japanese and Thai at Mizu, whose menu sports all the basics (with options heavier on the Japanese side) and can call itself a solid spot when you’re in the neighborhood.  Don’t expect a glorious experience here, but do expect consistently fresh fish and reasonable rates at this area go-to.

Mizu Sushi on Urbanspoon

 

30 E 20th Street – No Idea

This dive on E 20th is a favorite of the after work crowd, the cheap doubles (or so) served in a pint glass will leave you feeling fine after a tough day at the office. Find your name on their calendar and you’ll feel like it’s your birthday when your name is the chosen one for the night – drink free from 5-11 and bond with others who share your namesake!  A pool table rounds out the experience and most agree this is a solid neighborhood kind of place.

E.20thSt

A margarita pizza @ La Pizza Fresca

 

 31 E 20th Street – La Pizza Fresca Ristorante

La Pizza Fresca flaunts the membership rites of being only one of two restaurants in New York City to be part of the VPN (La Vera Pizza Napoletana), a rigorous membership process which includes the training of pizza chefs and a strict ingredient list whose components can only be imported from Naples.  If pizza isn’t your thing, indulge in the seafood dishes from seasoned chef Alessandro Cargiolli, a native of famed seafood region of Liguria, Italy.

*Think this place couldn’t excel in anything else?  Wine Spectator has awarded La Pizza Fresca a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 2001.

La Pizza Fresca Ristorante on Urbanspoon

33 E 20th Street – Moore Brothers Wine Company

Moore Brothers stands a cut above the rest with an attention to fine wine from France, Italy, and Germany.  The owners import and select all wine directly from the vineyards themselves, ensuring a quality bottle (with reasonable price tags to match) every time.  A friendly, knowledgeable, and down to earth staff round out the oenophilic experience.

*Other locations include a close-to-Philly New Jersey locale as well as one in Wilmington, Delaware.
36 E 20th Street – Parea Prime

Parea Prime takes classic Greek specialties and the American steakhouse and makes them their own, pleasing everyone at your table with its something-for-everyone offerings; attentive service and a pleasant atmosphere round out the overall pleasing experience of dining here. Try the grilled octopus and the zucchini tempura to start!

Parea Prime on Urbanspoon

40 E 20th Street – Flute

Ok, so the Champagne bar thing is kind 90s but Flute manages to own the theme and bring it home with a knowledgeable, friendly staff and a well thought out champagne list.  Small bites are offered and can be hit or miss so come early or late depending on the type of celebration.

*In Paris?  Visit Flute’s third location near the Arc de Triomphe.  This location touts a “New York” lounge atmosphere.

Flute Gramercy on Urbanspoon

 

41 E 20th Street – Mari Vanna

The interior @ Mari Vanna

The interior @ Mari Vanna

Mari Vanna’s opulent decor will take you to your babushka’s house (the one who still lives in Moscow) complete with black and white family photos, floral wallpaper, and knickknacks.  The classic Russian specialties here like their borscht and pelmeni will warm you heart and soul, while their selection of Russian and house infused vodkas keep you toasty on a cold winter night.

 

Mari Vanna on Urbanspoon

 

42 E 20th Street – Gramercy Tavern

For nearly two decades Gramercy Tavern has been the gold standard for new American fare and supreme service in New York City.  The seasonal pre fixe menu curated by executive chef, Michael Anthony is timeless and poignant, creating a meal that will surely transport.

*Pre order a copy of the Gramercy Tavern cookbook (being released later this year) to enjoy some of the classics at home! 

Gramercy Tavern on Urbanspoon

 

43 E 20th Street – Veritas

The wine list at Veritas is not merely a list, it is a collection.  The collection of Park B. Smith, a textile entrepreneur, accounts for much of the wine list at Veritas and is yours to peruse while you enjoy the offerings of executive chef, Sam Hazen.  The kind of experience you should expect at Veritas doesn’t come cheap – for a more affordable option grab a seat at the bar and snack on a selection of sumptuous contemporary American small plates.

Veritas on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

What’s On… Clinton Street? (Between Stanton and Rivington)

Lower East Side

Clinton

Clinton Street’s way east address is deterrent for some, making the gentrification factor slightly less than other parts of the LES, but those who do venture to Clinton Street are pleasantly surprised to find a long a varied strip of food and nightlife destinations.  However, it wasn’t long ago that the Lower East Side’s underbelly called Clinton home.  It wasn’t until 1999 when Wylie Dufresne helped to put 71 Clinton on the map that things started to turn around.  Clinton Street’s not so recent past also warrants a tour. It was on Clinton Street that Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum’s original storefront stood. From here, Mandelbaum saw millions of dollars worth of stolen goods pass through in the mid 19th century. She also ran a school for aspiring pickpockets and robbers which is said to have been right next door to a police precinct.

35 Clinton Street – Donnybrook

This Irish pub seated at the corner of Clinton and Stanton can usually be caught under maximum capacity (which is more to say than for most bars in the LES) bringing those who like a casual drink with good friends back time and time again.  A 12 – 15 dollar brunch special serves its purpose in a ‘hair of the dog’ sort of way.
Donnybrook on Urbanspoon
 

37 Clinton Street – Atlas Cafe

The H & H bagels served at Atlas Cafe make it a worthwhile stop if you’re in the area around breakfast time.  Other menu offerings include quiches and paninis with a variety of vegetarian offerings. Coffee suffices and free WiFi is another selling point for most.

Atlas Café on Urbanspoon

58 Clinton Street – Temple of Ankh

Most agree that Temple of Ankh is nothing to get excited about – but really, what hookah bar lives up to the hype anyway?  Food, service, and decor-wise it’s pretty much unanimous that this place lives up to the standard of other so-so hookah places although the milk and Sprite hookah varieties do add some unconventional fun to the mix.

 

50 Clinton Street – wd~50

Wylie Dufresne’s acclaimed restaurant wd~50 celebrates 10 years this year.  In case you haven’t heard – WD~50’s Wylie Dufresne is somewhat of a mad scientist when it comes to your dinner plate.  Molecular gastronomy paired with precision and attention to detail make for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget.  To celebrate WD~50’s 10th anniversary, try a tasting menu from some of the past 10 years’ best dishes!

wd-50 on Urbanspoon

63 Clinton Street – Fatta Cuckoo

The seasonal menu at Fatta Cuckoo is all about coming together to have a good time over good food.  Comfort food focused items like fried chicken or their signature key lime pie comprise the menu and an enticing cocktail selection rounds out the scene.  The “drunch” brunch special is what keeps most people coming back – at $25 for 3 quality cocktails and an entree, who can complain? – Even when you’re sitting on top of your next door neighbor.

Fatta Cuckoo on Urbanspoon

 

63 Clinton Street – Cube Sushi

The BYO status of Cube 63 has regulars coming back for a boozy good time before a night on the town, but can’t seem to keep new clientele looking for satisfying sushi due to its lack of fresh ingredients.  Try to stay away if you’re not looking to lose your lunch.

Cube Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street – Barramundi

The always crowded, kitschy bar who once called Ludlow home is now tucked away on Clinton waiting to be rediscovered. You’ll want to try their sangria and stay for their house infused vodkas.  A 2 for 1 happy hour every night until 8 sweetens the deal.  Through a door in the back lies a secret upstairs for a more refined crowd than downstairs…

Barramundi on Urbanspoon

 

67 Clinton Street (Upstairs) – 2nd Floor on Clinton

A quiet library setting for no more than groups for 4 awaits up the stairs from energetic Barramundi.  Sip artfully crafted cocktails and enjoy artisan chocolate truffles by Roni – Sue.  Ring the bell next to the door marked ‘private’ to be escorted upstairs to this haven of sorts nestled deep in the Lower East Side.

*2nd Floor on Clinton is only open Wednesday – Saturday.

 

68 Clinton Street – Pig and Khao

Leah Cohen of Top Chef fame and the Fatty crew have teamed up to create Pig and Khao – a modern take on Southeast Asian cooking.  Stop by for classic Filipino favorites like sizzling sisig (pig head) or a tasty Thai red curry.  This gem isn’t quite on the radar yet, so stop by while the waits are short!

*The $1 beer happy hour is one of the best deals in the city.

 
Pig & Khao on Urbanspoon
 

69 Clinton Street – Prosperity Dumpling

Another one of the best deals in the city – Prosperity’s pork and chive dumplings come 4 for $1 at this LES location (5/$1 at their Eldridge St. locale).  What this place lacks in decor and service, the dumplings more than make up for in value and flavor.  Stop out of your way for these things, you’ll be glad you did.

 
Prosperity Dumpling on Urbanspoon

71 Clinton Street – Izakaya DoDomPa

This Japanese pub is exactly what the doctor ordered in this part of town.  Quality izakaya at fair prices make DoDomPa a great stop if you’re looking to fill your belly and have a few drinks with friends before a night on the town.  Their Nagoya chicken wings are stand out and fans say they are just happy they can travel somewhere other than St. Marks to enjoy the food and atmosphere of quality Izakaya.

 

71 Clinton Street – San Marzano

The $40 all you can eat and drink special is what has rowdy groups coming back for time and time again, but it’s the pizza with namesake San Marzano tomatoes that keeps us coming back.

Go at an off time and enjoy the regular menu with regular people (read: not drunk and angry) or stop by on the weekend until 2am for an always satisfying slice.

 

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

72 Clinton Street – Cibao

You won’t stop by Cibao for its decor or service, but instead to sit down to a good, hearty meal rounded out with rice, beans, and tostones.  It’s a Dominican diner, unglorified and unapologetic and doing its thing for decades.  If tripe is your thing – don’t miss out on their Mondongo.

*Planning a party?  Cibao also caters.

San Marzano on Urbanspoon

 

 

Tennessee Whiskey for Lovers – Raising the Bar

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

So George Dickel is trying to break into the New York market? I think it’s about time another Tennessee whiskey rode into town.

Literally “Raising” the bar @ Dickel’s SoHo Party

Literally “Raising” the bar @ Dickel’s SoHo Party

George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey hosted a party last week in SoHo for the top mixologists in town touting their new offerings as well as showing off their tried and true recipes. Their new campaign ‘Raising the Bar’, does just that. It raises the bar, not necessarily on Tennessee whiskey itself, but on what most people know Tennessee whiskey to be; an already syrupy liquor best served mixed with cola. Dickel’s repertoire of four varieties provides a crisp, small batch take on Tennessee whiskey it’s George Dickel Rye, the newest member of the family.

The whiskey was surprisingly versatile with featured cocktails from some of NYC’s best ranging from a mojito-like ‘shake’ by Giuseppe Gonzales (Golden Cadillac) to a vibrant punch from Julie Reiner of Clover Club and even a twist on the Sherry Twist no. 2 from TJ Lynch (Mother’s Ruin). While each was decidedly inspired by the subject matter, Dickel’s products run the gamut from smooth and aged to earthy and spicy – all while remaining true to strict Tennessee Whiskey guidelines.

What sets Dickel apart?

Each batch of Dickel whiskey is chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, double distilled, and filtered through a charcoal mellowing process before aging making each batch of Dickel the same as the last. With only a handful of people working at the facility, Dickel prides itself on being a small batch, hand-crafted distillery producing only a tenth of its capacity last year. John Lunn, master distiller for Dickel is only the 3 third set of hands Dickel has run through since its rebirth in 1958 ensuring that Dickel stays true to its roots.

George Dickel 2

Frozen Mint “Shake” – Photo courtesy of George Dickel Whiskey

Frozen Mint “Shake” – Giuseppe Gonzales

• 1.3 oz. Dickel 12

• .75 oz. Lime

• 1 oz. simple

• Mint leaves.

• 1 Dash of angostura bitters

Blend until texture is thick. Pour into baby coupes. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve with Long straw.

Glass: Coupe

Garnish: Mint sprigs

Tennessee Rose Punch - Julie Reiner

Tennessee Rose Punch – Julie Reiner

• 18 oz. lemon juice

• 6 oz. ginger syrup

• 12 ounces raspberry syrup

• 1 – 750ml bottle Dickel Rye

• 6 oz. Amaro Nonino

• 24 oz. Ruby Slipper tea (Serendipitea makes this)

• 18 oz club soda

Large block of ice

Tennessee Rose Punch – Photo courtesy George Dickel Whiskey

The Classy Mother – TJ Lynch

• 1.25 oz. Dickel Rye

• .50 oz. Gutierrez Colosia Oloroso Dry Sherry

• .25 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

• 2 dashes Regans orange bitters

• 2 dashes chocolate bitters

Stirred and served up

Flamed orange peel and Luxardo cherry garnish

 

 

Monje Interviews The Gotham Palate on Restaurant Reviews & Future of Food Blogging

The excerpt below is taken from Monje’s  recent interview with TGP. Al Chen of Monje interviewed TGP Founder, Elena Mancini, over coffee this past February. Click on the Monje logo below to read the full interview. Monje is a new online social platform that helps users discover new restaurants and share their  tastes with their friends.

…….

“The Monje team collaborates closely with various food and photo bloggers in the NYC to learn about the restaurant scene. We are sitting down with our favorite food bloggers to get to know the person behind the blog, how the blog got started, and what the future holds for the blog.

Kicking off the first episode for this series entitled “Coffee with a Blogger,” we sat down with Elena Mancini from The Gotham Palate to hear the story behind her awesome blog. Here is what we learned: 

Can you give our readers a brief bio?

I was born in NYC, and have always loved food. Growing up, I was exposed to Italian cuisine since both of my parents are from Italy. I have lived in Berlin, Bologna, and now NYC. Aside from food blogging, I am a professor of German studies, I work at a German grant giving organization, and do freelance writing. I am one of those people who all my friends go to for restaurant recommendations, and when I go out with my friends to eat somewhere, we like to debate and create arguments for places we want to try. Needless to say, I love trying new foods and restaurants in NYC. Click here to read more.

monje

 

A chef in your kitchen: Review of Chefday

BY CAROLYN ONOFREY

Claiming you “can’t” cook is no longer an excuse with Chefday – The new meal in a bag that makes it easy (and fun!) for any novice turn out gourmet meals.
Chefday delivers fresh, quality ingredients, pre measured in sustainable packaging right to your doorstep, anywhere in New York City.  Choose from a variety of meals, such as Scallop Risotto or Parmesan Veal Milanese, all curated by top chefs and accompanied with a how to video, the chef holding your hand each step of the way!

My particular Chefday experience was a great one.  As I rushed to open the enticing brown paper bag, I found a welcome note complete with my name printed on it and a thorough instruction list.  Each ingredient – right down to the salt, pepper, and olive oil was pre-measured and labeled, ready for me to conquer.  As I followed each step, simply uncapping each ingredient and giving a quick swoop of the knife here and there I couldn’t help but feel like I was on my very own cooking show – a fantasy once played out in my mother’s kitchen, dirtying every ramekin in the house with “pre-measured” ingredients while making some sort of “chocolate loaf” (lots of cocoa powder, flour, and water), ending in a toaster-oven baked goo that my mother has yet to let me live down.  Thankfully, my scallop risotto turned out better than my chocolate loaf.

What made the Chefday experience so special to me was not so much the finished product (although it was quite delicious), but the thoughtfulness that went into each piece of the package.  From the personal delivery, to the personalized note, to each labeled ingredient and even the pretty commentator who eased the instructional video along in what could have otherwise been a painful display because as we know – some chefs can be men and women of very few words.

Founders Julien Nakache, Laurent Moisi, and Vincent Marger are committed to providing a quality product with a conscience.  From the ingredients and the environmentally friendly packaging to the one for one donation to the New York City Food Bank, this is a product you can feel good about using while treating yourself at the same time.

Whether you are a closet wannabe cooking show host (like me) or simply want to impress your date or friends with a nice meal, at about $35 per two person serving there is no reason not to indulge in this great new product.

 

Home of Manhattan’s Best Banh Mi Sandwich – Review of Sao Mai

BY ELENA MANCINI

203 First Ave.
East Village
(212) 358-8880 / Sao Mai 

East of the East Village bustle and trendiness, this family-run East Village Vietnamese restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare and the best Banh Mi Sandwiches on the Manhattan side of the East River.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Available in six varieties including pho, sliced pork, grilled chicken and vegetarian, these sandwiches make a quick, nutritious, flavor-packed meal that’s easy on the wallet (priced between $6-$7). The Bahn Mi are prepared on baguettes are consistently fresh and crusty with a soft and chewy middle. Independent of the filling you choose, the kitchen always strikes the right balance between bread and ingredients. Their vegetarian Bahn Mi is among my favorite comfort-food lunches. Prepared on two warm halves of choice baguette, they’re stuffed with toothsome strands of sauteed bok choy, straw mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, shredded carrot and abundant swaths of cilantro, the sandwiches and seasoned with lemongrass,  sriracha mayonnaise, that provides a subtle and reverberating pitch of complex heat. In sum, it’s a light, filling lunch that delivers high-flavor rewards.

Pho’ Sao Mai

Front: Summer Rolls; Far: Spring Rolls

Lest one think Sao Mi is just about Bahn Mi, flavor mavens and fans of traditional Vietnamese fare will find other  sections of its menu will prove well worth exploring. The Pho Sao Mai will not disappoint. A flavorful broth, rich in tender strips of brisket, sprouts, rice noodles and a medley of herbs will consistently hit the spot. Adding appeal to  Sao Mi’s attractions is its steal of a lunch menu, which includes the choice of an appetizer, entree and a soft drink, all for $10. Sweetening things further,  both the Bahn Mi and the Pho are included in this deal!

Ga Gary – Chicken Curry

With a wide variety of vegetarian options on its menu, Sao Mai is also a smart choice for a low-key dinner that guarantees value, quality and flavor. Pity that wait staff has not yet mastered the walk-in dinner crowd on weekends. During these times, the  friendly service  can turn into a source of frustration for those who do not suffer extended waits and uneven food delivery times lightly.

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