Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Celebrate with some savory comfort food...

I'm taking a little break from the West Coast posts and bringing it back home for Halloween. FYI-I do have a delectable Santa Monica Sandwich Showdown & some spicy Mercado Mexican flavors to come so stay tuned...

For now, let's celebrate all things fall with one of my favorite pumpkin recipes! A Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup compliments of Southern Living. I love soups. They're a perfect comfort food on a chilly day and full of yummy ingredients and flavors. This particular recipe is amazing, both sweet and spicy with a delicate, creamy texture. Another perk-it's super easy! For additional pumpkin inspired recipes from Southern Living, visit- Enjoy!

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Yields 10 cups

2 T butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 c chicken broth
1 large baking potato, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
2 c milk
3 T fresh lime juice
Garnishes: sour cream, fresh cilantro sprig 
*** I always garnish with sour cream. It makes a difference. 
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic; sauté 15 minutes. Add chicken broth and next 4 ingredients; cook, stirring often, 30 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly (about 5 to 10 minutes).
Process potato mixture, pumpkin, and cilantro, in batches, in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

Return to Dutch oven; stir in milk, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice; garnish, if desired.
For dessert! Lots o' Halloween candy ;-)

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

SUR: Sexy Unique (& Delish) Restaurant

For those of you into reality TV, you may have already heard of this West Hollywood hotspot. SUR- is co-owned by Beverly Hills Real Housewife, Lisa Vanderpump and home to reality show, Vanderpump Rules. For now, let's just forget about the fact that there are two hit reality show's filmed here AND that they have the sexiest staff members I've seen in any restaurant/club anywhere and move on to the "important" stuff...the food and the drinks.

THE FOOD-I wasn't expecting much. Like with most hotspots the decor is always amazing, they're great for people watching & the DJ's are always sick but often times the quality of the food (if they even serve any) is sub par. Well, not here. Everything my friends and I ordered was fantastic.

We had the following...

The Shrimp and Crab Cakes-So good! Nice and meaty, not too much filler and perfectly browned. 

The Fried Goat Cheese Balls-"I could bathe in a bath of these balls..."- my friend, Jamie. They really were the jam. 

Chicken & Shrimp Steamed Dumplings-I loved that they were steamed! These little pockets of goodness had lots of bite to the dumpling skin, flavorful filling and served with Thai chili sauce. Yum!

The Skirt Steak-One of the better restaurant skirt steaks I've had. It was perfectly cooked to my preferred med-rare and served with a fresh salad and crispy fries. 

The Fish of the Day Special (Grouper)-I did not try this dish but my other friend Jason said it was the best fish he's ever had! He also commented that the skin was nice and crisp. Sounds like a winner to me!

*side note-the service was great as well. Our sweet (and of course gorgeous) server brought me out a cake for my birthday and even sang! Those of us in hospitality know how much it sucks to be a birthday singer...Oy.

THE DRINKS-SUR has a great cocktail list shaken up by bartenders that look like they just stepped out of a GQ ad (big bonus!). We had the Lychee Martinis and they were amazing. Had one of my girlfriends from Boston not sent over 2 bottles of Prosecco (Yes...2 bottles for 3 people. It was a long night.), I certainly would have tried more. I did see a Strawberrini come out that looked pretty delectable...

IN SHORT-SUR may be more known for being a "celeb hotspot" and having a super sexy staff but for any foodie skeptics out there I suggest giving it a shot. It was an all around great experience from the ambiance to the food to the drinks. I need to go catch up on my reality TV! Well done Mrs. Vanderpump, well done.

So part of the ambiance is almost complete and udder darkness at night making it hard to take pics. I did my best and you can also view great images on their website and twitter page. 
Above: The Shrimp & Crab Cakes and Steamed Dumplings...

The Goat Cheese Balls Jamie wanted to bathe in. I seriously could have eaten 20 of them. 

The beginning of the end...happy 30th birthday to ME! Cheers!

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Weekend Food Porn-LA!

I turned 30 yesterday. Yep 30. I'm actually pretty psyched about it. I'm feelin' like it's going to be a pretty good year & it's certainly off to a pretty fab start. I just spent my birthday in The City of Angels, La La land or what some people simply call, Los Angeles, CA. LA has a pretty hot foodie scene and I have some equally sexy posts coming your way. Being that I am still in LA and want to live in the moment, I'm going to make this post short and sweet. Here's a little preview of me eating & drinking up LA!

Breakfast at the famous Uncle Bill's Pancake House in Manhattan Beach. Brace yourself for the following breakfast deliciousness...

My bacon, egg and cheese AND sautéed onion wrap with the sickest hash browns. We all agreed they were the best hash browns. EVER.

An omelet as big as your head topped with meat sauce...Genius.

A little fruit for good measure. :-)

Goat cheese balls & a little champs from the very sexy, Sur  Restaurant & Lounge. More to come on this popular, West Hollywood hotspot. 

No trip to LA would be complete with a stop at the legendary, Ivy Restaurant.

A $27 Crab Cake Benny. So good & I'd say pretty worth it for the experience.

A few bloodies on the Ivy's famous patio.

Stay tuned for more detailed posts! Happy Monday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Piggin' Out on Peruvian...

What is Peruvian food? I hear this question all the time. A very technical way to describe this flavorful cuisine is that it includes influences from the indigenous Inca but with a mix of Spanish, Asian and African cuisines brought in by immigrants. So basically it's a yummy blend of just about everything. Popular Peruvian ingredients include Potatoes (did you know there are over 3000 types of potatoes that grow in Peru alone?!) and Quinoa. Ryan and I spent a few weeks in Peru a couple years back and one of my favorite dishes was the Quinoa soup. They offer it everywhere. It's a very brothy soup filled with vegetables, a sort of cheese curd and hearty quinoa. Simple but delish! Another super popular Peruvian dish is Ceviche, mainly found on the coasts where fresh seafood is readily available.  Ceviche is marinated raw fish in citrus juices, peppers and spices, usually served with some sort of chip. If you're a sushi/tartare lover you'll likely be a fan of ceviche. Recently NYC has had some pretty tasty Peruvian joints open up but my personal favorite is Raymi Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar- in Manhattan's Flatiron district. This place has a super cool, hip vibe with a ceviche bar, outdoor seating & the food is insane! 

The executive chef at Raymi is Chef Erik Ramirez who used to be one of the sous chefs at Eleven Madison Park. Yes, the NYT 4 star/3 Michelin star Eleven Madison Park. You know there's some real talent behind all of Raymi's dishes. The menu is very Peruvian but familiar enough to appeal to all food lovers. They have everything from empanadas to whole fish to crispy pig ears AND tails for the daring. I love their "table" entrees which serve 2 to 3 people. Check out the goodness below and go ahead and start your "what I'm going to order at Raymi" list. They've also had some very impressive reviews, including a rave from the legendary Gael Greene...

This is a traditional but beautifully done Pisco Sour. Raymi has an amazing, creative cocktail list most of which is made with Pisco, a Peruvian/Chilean grape brandy. (Secret: It mixes like vodka and tastes great in just about anything. Enjoy!)

Tuna Avocado Ceviche

Our Corn Empanadas made with mozzarella and served with a fresh chimichurri.

Raymi's Pollo a la Brasa-smoked whole chicken (with super crispy skin) and fries. It's literally the best chicken you will ever eat in your life. It's actually life changing.

A perfectly cooked Skirt Steak with roasted garlic. O.M.G.

Are you hungry yet?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Whole Canned Potatoes=Best Side Dish?

Canned potatoes. You probably don't think much of them and neither did I until my father-in-law (aka Chef Jerie') introduced me to his canned potato recipe. I made these for my sister once and they were a huge hit! You'll want to pair this dish will everything!  They come out perfectly seasoned and crispy and cost about 88 cents per can (yesssss). You'll need a cast iron skillet to get these to their most crispy  but in a pinch you can just use a regular fry pan (get a cast iron skillet!!!). It's also super important to drain the potatoes well and pat VERY dry. This is with any meat/vegetable you're trying to brown. Now get to the market, stock up and follow the recipe below... Eat these little guys up!

Chef Jerie's Pan Roasted (Canned) Potatoes

serves 4

Preheat a large cast iron skillet in a 425-450 degree oven

4 15oz cans of Whole White Potatoes-about one can per person

Drain them and dry them well with paper towels.
Cut the larger ones in pieces so they're all roughly the same size.

Put the potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with the following... 
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to your taste
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika (this is the characterizing spice, regular paprika won't do. Not too much!) 
1/4 cup canola, peanut, or other high temp oil

Toss until all of the taters are evenly coated with the seasonings and oil.

Carefully pull the super-heated pan out of the oven and pour in seasoned potatoes. It'll sizzle so be careful. Quickly get the pan back into the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes shaking the pan 
once or twice to toss.

Best to serve in a separate dish so no one burns themselves on the crazy-hot pan. 
Serve plain or with ketchup if desired. Yum! 
Just a few of these... you THIS! ENJOY!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Let's Get "Bombed" at Culinary Hotspot 5 &10!

"Can I get an Arnold Palmer?" I remember the first time I was waiting tables and a guest asked me this. I was so confused and then asked to see his ID as my 18 year old self had no idea what an Arnold Palmer was and assumed it was some fancy cocktail. The man was nice enough and explained to me that it was just a mix of tea and lemonade and he would prefer me to use sweet tea (of course). This popular drink is named after American golfer, Arnold Palmer. According to Palmer, he was in the habit of drinking ice tea with lemonade at home & at the 1960 US Open at the Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, CO he ordered the drink at the bar. A woman sitting nearby overheard him, and ordered "that Palmer drink", thus giving the mix its name. we know!

The lovely mixologists over at Chef Hugh Acheson's 5&10- in Athens, GA have upped the ante on this non-alcoholic classic. It's 5 o'clock somewhere so let's head over to Milledge Ave for one of 5&10's Arnold Bombers! Isn't the name the best? This refreshing cocktail is simple and clean with bright flavors and the perfect kick. If you can't make it over to 5&10 for a beverage and Acheson's insanely delicious and creative menu then check out their Arnold Bomber recipe below. In regards to the food, I suggest making the trip to Athens as the menu is very much one of a kind. The menu does change seasonally but my favorite mainstays are the Medjool Dates & Frogmore Stew-YUM!!!


This cocktail is the epitome of what the South is all about. 
It’s simple, clean, and a twist on a Southern Classic.

For earl grey infused gin: 1 liter good quality gin
½ c loose earl grey tea
¼ c honey 3 lemons ice cubes

1 cup homemade lemonade for one serving

Using a microplane, zest 2 of the lemons. Whisk the zest, gin, tea, and honey together and let them sit for one to two hours until the gin takes on the color of iced tea. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer and then through a coffee filter. Store the strained liquid in the gin bottle used. Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes, and measure in two ounces of the earl grey gin. Fill the remainder of the glass with the made-from-scratch lemonade. Turn the contents of the glass into a cocktail shaker and lightly shake. Return the contents to the glass and garnish with lemon slices.


Photo Credit-J.P. Bond

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Weekend Food Porn...

Ryan & I had a pretty eventful weekend on the foodie front. Everything is from NYC so my lucky locals have new places to hit and for those of you outside the tri-state area, you have even more reasons to make a trip to the Big Apple. I thought I'd share some of our fun...enjoy the following...

Raymi Restaurant-

There will be a more detailed post later this week on this Flatiron gem, for now you can consider this a little amuse bouche-

Pig tails...sounds intense right? They are delish! Think oxtail meets pork belly. So tender, fatty and amaze balls, you'll want to come back for more!

As you can tell from previous posts, I'm a huge Red Farm lover. Ryan and I took one of our favorite foodie couples there this past Saturday. Everything was absolute bliss!

Moscato anyone? We're pretty big on our dessert wines...

Pac Man Shrimp Dumplings! Have you ever seen anything so adorbs?

The BEST pork belly. You could make pork belly ice cream & I'd tell you to bring it.

Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Mousse goodness...

Cuomo & Sons Italian Deli (no site:-()

This is a tiny spot located on 7701 Broadway  North Bergen, NJ 07047
Call 201.869.6913 for more info!

I promise you have never had a better prosciutto and mozz sandwich in your life! They have yummy bread, aged balsamic and homemade roasted red peppers. Yum-O!

NYC Food & Wine-

Gettin' a little taste of the South...

Nothin' like BBQ pork and house made cole slaw...

Pickled Grapes? Sounds odd but so good. Recipe to come!

Have a happy week!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eat & Drink Up at NYC's Food & Wine Festival

It's time that of year for foodies and chefs alike to come together for what I consider to be one of the best & most flavorful weeks in NYC, New York City's Food & Wine Festival- Ticket prices range from $25-$250+ and there are still tickets available for events today and tomorrow if your local and interested. You can attend seminars, cooking classes, partake is tasty tastings, sing Karaoke with Morimoto or enjoy brunch with Paula Dean. Not only can you eat and drink your face off but you actually have the chance to rub elbows with some of the countries (and worlds) Top Chefs. I have had some amazing times both working and attending numerous tastings at NYC F&W. To all my local peeps that haven't been be sure to plans for next year! It's always held mid-Oct and is usually announced in the spring so you have plenty of time to plan. Some of my favorite events are the "talks" (these are usually fairly inexpensive as little to no food/bev is served), the Burger Bash (an assortment of NYC's finest!) and The Art of the Taco with Bobby Flay (always includes a tequila sponsor...hell. yes). Below are a few of my fave images from F&W's past...

About 2 years back, I attending a tasting of fried chicken from all across the 5 boroughs that included one of my favorite spots, Blue Ribbon. I could hardly contain my excitement. 

Dessert anyone?

More Fried Chicken...

The famous Red Rooster...

...and it's equally as famous owner, the talented, Marcus Samuelsson. 

Pampano-one of my favorite midtown Latin restaurants

So Chef Flay was quite nice but I noticed he didn't really take pics with fans. Not that he said no or anything but that no one really asked. He has a very intense presence and I'm pretty sure that if I wasn't in the industry/a girl, this pic may not have happened...but it did and I (and my mother) love him.

My hubby with one of our favorites, David Burke!

"The Sandwich King"!!! 

Chef Anne Burrell was bombarded with picture requests. To my pleasant surprise, she took a pic with everyone who asked. It took her like 30 minutes to eat one taco due to the interruptions. I had the pleasure with working with her later on a filming at Zengo Restaurant and she was also super pleasant. 

Buy your tickets early! The best and most celebrity filled events sell out fast!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recipe Alert! Creamy Spinach Dip from one of GA's Finest.

Athens, GA has an amazing foodie scene. They were even voted as one of Zagat's top 7 up and coming foodie cities thanks to restaurants such as Chef Hugh Acheson's 5&10, Chef Peter Dale's The National and local fave Last Resort, just to name a few (more posts on these gems to come!) Another popular spot in the lively and vibrant downtown Athens area is one of my personal favorites, Speakeasy- I've been going to Speakeasy for almost 10 years...Oy. Speakeasy is a small plates/tapas style restaurant with delicious food and fun, creative cocktails. The location is lovely. It's located right on Broad Street in the heart of downtown Athens with amazing views. One of my (& my girlfriends) favorite small plates is their creamy Spinach Dip served in a honey wheat bread bowl. So insanely good. The texture is perfect, the flavors balanced and the dish has a little hint of spice from crushed red pepper. A big thank you to Chef/Owner Patrick Anderson for letting me share one of his most popular!

Speakeasy's Creamy Spinach Dip

serves 4-6 for Big Eaters
serves 8-10 for Nibblers

1/2 lb butter
1 c flour
4 c whole milk
3/4 c shredded Parmesan (Grana Padana preferred)
1/4 c crumbled feta
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 T crushed red pepper
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped

In large pot melt butter, and add flour, stirring 2 minutes until starch cooks but does not brown.  Add milk slowly, bring to a simmer and stir until sauce thickens.  Add cheeses, salt and pepper to taste, and crushed red pepper.  Stir until well incorporated.  Remove from heat, add spinach and stir well.  Serve warm with toasted honey wheat bread or in a bread bowl.

Is your mouth watering yet? Once all the dip is gone, you can just break into the bowl itself...simply divine.

Photo Credit-J.P. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Legendary Brunches at The Smith!

New Yorkers and brunch go together like peas and carrots. We LOVE to brunch! Perhaps because it gives us an excuse to partake in a lil' day drinking ;-) The Smith- is a hip American Brasserie with several locations around Manhattan. One thing I love about The Smith is their consistency and branding. I guess with my marketing/PR background this makes sense. They do an amazing job with their concept and making sure you know what to expect when you walk in the door from the decor to the food. Your fave dishes will always taste and look the same which is very smart, nothing can turn off a guest more than coming in for a menu item they're looking forward to, only to have it be sub par. The Smith has very good food but their stand out meal period is definitely brunch. All the brunch dishes I've tried there are pretty solid but below are my top 5 "must haves".

1.) Bloody Mary-One of the best bloodies in NYC. Very flavorful with tons of horseradish...yum!

2.) Omelets-huge and super fluffy! They're served with potatoes or mixed greens; I always get the greens, they're super simple but the dressing is sooooo good. My favorite omelet is the mushroom but they're all tasty.

3.) Deviled eggs-I love Deviled eggs. The Smith does a great job with them-again very horseradishy, which I adore.

4.) The Burger-I must be honest and say I have never tried The Smith burger, however, I've heard from literally everyone that this burger is off the charts amaze-balls! I'm too big of an omelet person to stray but I felt the burger was worth mentioning. Enjoy!

5.) My favorite menu item at The Smith...the GRITS...Jalapeño cheddar grits to be exact. Say whaaaaa!?!? I'm a southerner and I have yet to have grits this good in the South/anywhere!!! Order away!

The Smith Burger with lots o' fries!

My yummy Mushroom Omelet with mixed greens...

The Godfather of Grits, I promise you will NOT want to share. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Head Downtown to Bond St...

Bond Street is not only a quaint little cobble stoned street in Manhattan's Noho hood, but home to a lovely, historic brownstone that houses one of the best sushi spots on NYC, also named, Bond St- I heard of this spot from a broker my husband and I worked with when we signed for our last apartment. I just happened to be on Gilt City recently (Gilt City is a site where you can find exclusive deals on hot spots in varying cities, think an elevated Groupon) and found a deal at Bond St for 2 cocktails and 2 sushi rolls for $35...Yessssss! For you guys not living in a ridiculously expensive city, this is a great deal. Ryan and I finally made the trip downtown to give this place a try...

Bond St actually has two dining areas, the "formal" dining room and the Lounge. The dining room is very pretty with nice lighting and clean modern accents. The Lounge is actually downstairs, very dark and sexy. We opted for the Lounge. Once we were settled in we ordered our cocktails, me a Lychee Martini and Ryan, their signature Old Fashioned. Both drinks were beautiful and delish. Bond St has a fantastic drink menu with nice wines and local craft far so good...

We of course ordered WAY more than what was offered on our Gilt voucher. All the food was very tasty and the portions were nice. The sushi very fresh; their traditional Spicy Tuna roll was our fave. Other stand outs were the Crispy Shrimp and the Wagyu Mini Burgers. The desserts were also wonderful (get the Ricotta Cup!). All of this being said, there was one dish that I would seriously rate as best bite of my year. The flavors were so creative and on point that both Ryan and I were almost speechless. When you go to Bond St and I'm hoping after you read this you will, you MUST get the Big Eye Tuna Tarts. This is not a cheap dish at $21 for an appetizer but it is SO worth it. The tender tuna is layered on an airy, flaky crisp with creamy ponzu and white truffle oil (yes, truffle oil), topped with micro basil for a little extra flavor. O.M.G. I can just hear you on Open Table making your reservations right now. I want to add that the "formal" dining room has a larger menu with more entrees so we'll def be trying that next. Enjoy the food porn below I pulled off their website. Sadly my pics did not turn out so well due to the Lounge being so dark but I'll reshoot when we hit up the upstairs dining room. I might suggest drink and an app in the Lounge then heading up for dinner to get the full Bond St experience.

Beautiful cocktails...I love the big ice cubes! Keepin' it classy.

Their plates actually look like this! So well presented.

Wagyu Mini Burgers! These were actually larger in person and so good. Very juicy and I liked the tiny little chips on the plate.

The best dish of the night/of the year. The Big Eye Tune Tarts with creamy ponzu and white truffle oil.   EAT THEM UP!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

City Sandwich has pastries! Be still my heart...

I am lucky enough to work right by one of the best sandwich shops in NYC. City Sandwich- They're amazing, they gets tons of press/awards, everybody loves them yada, yada, yada. This is no new news but if you haven't tried one of their super fresh, Portuguese-inspired sandwiches, I suggest getting there now! Try to call ahead with your order if you can as the price you pay for this creative, handmade goodness is a super long wait. They also deliver (score!). My fave is the Franco with Mozzarella and Prosciutto, second fave being the MmmEatballs (see below...)

What IS new at City Sandwich is their Pastel De Crema...these little bites of heaven are a flan-like custard in a flaky crust. THE JAM! They're creamy, cinnamon-y, other words, they're like crack. You'll just want to eat them up. I love them because they're not too sweet but a perfect balance of flavor and texture. I hear owner, Chef Michael Guerrieri- took years to find the right pastry chef to make this sweet Portuguese treat. Well done Chef Guerrieri, well done.

Say goodbye to the played out Cronut & hello to the Pastel De Crema!


Anything from City Sandwich=Yummy