Monday, November 24, 2014

My Weekend Food Porn: Boston, MA

Ahhhhhh I love thee. I’ve only been a few times and it’s never been for long enough. It’s one of those places I go to and think, “I could totally live here!”. Thankfully the food scene does not disappoint. I have to been honest in that I’ve only gone for weekends at a time so I have a lot more Boston eating to do. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment for my next visit!

I was there this past weekend visiting a friend. For my first meal I wanted nothing more than fresh, raw oysters and lots’o chowder. She took me to our first stop...The Barking Crab. They’re sadly doing construction around the restaurant which makes it difficult to get to...but that didn’t stop us. I ordered both the oysters and a bowl of clam chowder. Outstanding. The chowder was the best I’ve ever had and that says a lot. What really made it was the Crab on Fire hot sauce they serve. A little drizzle of that fiery goodness set off the entire dish. Get the chowder. Bonus: This place also serves lobsters and crabs the size of a couch so it’s basically a seafood lovers dream come true. After The Barking Crab we went to a place called Pour House...this is where the drinking up began...

The next day for brunch we wanted copious amounts of food and bloody marys (due in part to our visit to Pour House). Another friend suggested The Living Room. This place was fabulous. There was a dining room but they have a huge lounge with couches and low a living room! It was so cozy. There was even a fireplace. For sports fans...TV’s galore. They have an amazing cocktail list and the food looked even better. We proceeded to order the following...

Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Basic but good. 
Buffalo Chicken Dumplings: Fantastic. Order them.
A Dozen Oysters: Very fresh and only $1 each!
A few of my friends got the Chicken and Waffles: The fried chicken was pretty amazing. Cooked perfectly and full of flavor. 
I ordered the Breakfast Flatbread: It was huge! Topped with cheese, eggs, Chorizo (I think this was just regular sausage:-() and arugula. It was tasty but I would suggest sharing as an appetizer and it’s quite filling.

Side note: They do 35 cent wings during football football games. Score.

I didn’t think we’d be hungry after our massive brunch but surprise! We made room. Off to Sweet Cheeks we go...Sweet Cheeks is a Texas BBQ joint by Chef Tiffany Faison. It’s good. Like really freaking good. Big portions and even bigger flavors. The biscuits with honey butter are a MUST! And the pork belly is melt in your mouth. The broccoli casserole...oh the cheesy deliciousness. Do NOT do what we did and go after a big brunch. Bad idea. Drink green juice all day and prepare your belly and body for a gut busting meal. Definitely plan to hit the gym the next day. It’ll all be worth it. 

Thank you Boston!

The Barking Crab Chowda with Crab on Fire hot sauce. YUM. 

Crispy Chicken and Waffles from The Living Room.

My cheesy, yet somewhat fresh (thank you arugula) Breakfast Flatbread. 

Homemade Biscuits with HONEY BUTTER!!!

Our tender Pork Belly Tray with pickles, onions, mac and cheese and Sweet Cheeks signature broccoli casserole. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Start your day with Super Foods!

I have never been a big fan of green powder. I’ve tried many brands and they always taste like grass (and I love green juice), they can be expensive and often times the powder can have other not-so-great stuff mixed in. You always have to read those labels.

If you’re going to use a green powder, make sure of the following...
1.) It’s organic and non GMO
2.) It’s vegan (there’s no reason for a green powder to have animal products)
3.) It’s raw (again, no reason for it not to be...)

It short, all natural green goodness.

I recently found the mother of all green powders - Amazing Grass Green Superfood. It’s literally amazing. It not only has all of aforementioned qualities but also tastes not horrible and can be purchased on Amazon for only $20. I have to say, I would not recommend mixing with just water. The taste is still pretty off-putting. It is however quite tasty when mixed with juice and even better when in a smoothie. I now put one scoop every morning in my fruit & veggie smoothies. It’s these healthy little tricks that allow me to balance those big dinners out...:-) Drink up!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

One of our Best Dining Experiences of 2014...thus far...

In celebration of my 2nd 30th birthday (;-)...we decided to finally try Locanda Verde. Locanda is a New York institution located in Tribeca. It’s been on my list for years. Locanda Chef and co-owner, Andrew Carmellini, is known for his modern, seasonal take on Italian cuisine. The menu is fabulous and we were lucky enough to dine while their epic Trufflepalooza menu was still available. Score.

When we arrived with our friends, we were warmly welcomed. The vibe is very downtown. Lively and fun. I loved it immediately. We reviewed our menus over a refreshing glass of bubbly only to become more and more confused with what to order. Everything on the menu sounded fantastic. We opted to order the following to start...

House Focaccia Bread (this is complimentary): Amazing. It’s so buttery and cheesy. It literally (and oddly) tasted like a white cheddar cheez-it. And believe me, that was a good thing.

Sheep’s Milk Ricotta: The ricotta was beyond fresh. So creamy and the bread was perfect. 

We then ordered a round of appetizers. I had the Burrata and Ryan decided on the Mussels. Both were  very good. We continued to devour the following entrees (I would like to preface, there were 4 of us...) - Truffle Ravioli, Pumpkin Tortelli, Truffle Polenta, The Tuscan Pork Platter and Prosciutto Wrapped Trout. Aren’t you hungry just reading this!?! My favorite dish of the night was the Truffle Ravioli. The Ravioli Uvo I believe they called it. The ravioli was covered in truffles and filled with cheesy, runny eggs. The dish was just, but divine. 

For dessert we enjoyed the Almond Torte and Pumpkin Semi-Freddo as well as a tasty sundae they brought out with a candle. Very sweet. The perfect ending to our meal. 

To top off the epic meal, I have to add how amazing the service was. Everyone was just darling and so hospitable. So much so that the entire evening combined was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had this year. Go.

Make reservations and enjoy!

The beginning of a lovely evening...Cheers!

Our decadent Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with crusty, buttery bread. Delish.

Trufflepalooza was back! Truffle Ravioli filled with fresh, runny eggs...OMG.

My Pumpkin Tortelli. Very fall. Very yummy.

More truffles! Polenta with pork sausage. Heavenly.

Happy birthday to me!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joe's Shanghai: A Chinatown Staple with Epic Soup Dumplings & More...

I’m a big fan of soup dumplings. I mean, who isn’t? I was chatting with a colleague about our mutual love for these little pillows of soupy goodness when she suggested we take a trip to Chinatown fto Joe’s Shanghai. The big emphasis being Chinatown as apparently the midtown location is not up to par (so I hear). 

When we arrived at 6pm it was already packed. We were hurried and squeezed into the back at a large communal table. The menu is typical Chinese fare with all the favorites. The prices are super cheap so I already knew this was going to be a hell of a value. My friend and I shared the Scallion Pancake which was wonderful. Greasy and good. I would get it again. We then ordered our own Soup Dumplings. For $6 you get 8 pork soup dumplings. 8!!! It’s a meal in itself. We also shared an order of the Chicken Shanghai Noodles. The portion was huge and they were fantastic. We didn’t order drinks as it’s not the "wine & dine” kinda place however they do have some nice ginger-ale’s and other assorted non-alcoholic beverages. 

We left very full and happy. The total bill with tip=$35 for two people. A crazy bargain for such an institution. We were in and out in an hour so it’s definitely the place you go to for the food only. The ambiance is lacking and there’s a good chance you’re going to feel rushed out. 

No reservations. Get there early and be prepared to sit communally.

***For those of you not familiar with Soup Dumplings or if you are but do not know how to eat them, check out these step by step instructions HERE

Our massive "communal" table.

Our wonderfully greasy Scallion Pancake.

The famous Soup Dumplings. I opted for the pork AND crab! ;-)

The line at 7pm on a typical Tuesday...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chef Michael White's Nicoletta has secrets...

I was super excited to try Nicoletta. As you regular readers know, I’m a huge Michael White fan (and I LOVE pizza) but sadly Nicoletta debuted to mixed reviews. I decided I needed to try it for myself.

We were meeting some friends coming in from Brooklyn so the East Village was the perfect location. It was a fairly quiet scene but the smells of Italian goodness filled the air. I was getting excited. Since we came in with a large group, we decided to order and share...pretty much the entire menu. I was pleasantly surprised (not really that surprised) that everything was delicious. 

We started with the Patate (a suggestion from the manager). It was basically cheesy, fried potatoes with lemon. They were fantastic. We also enjoyed the meatballs, the fresh mozzarella (I was actually disappointed as these were small balls instead of larger slices) and the Arancini. The Arancini was incredible. What’s not to love about fried balls of creamy risotto?

We continued to the main event. The pizza. I knew Nicoletta was known for their "off-menu" Carbonara Pizza. Yes, a Carbonara Pizza. A pizza topped with parmesan, pancetta and eggs. OMG. FYI-This pizza is technically a secret. It's not on the regular menu but offered as an off-menu special to those in the know. You MUST ask for it. 

We also ordered the Funghi and the Tarfutata. Both very good. The pizza’s are not traditional New York-style pizza and I think this may be one of the reasons the reviews have been mixed. The crust is thin and crispy but the pizza is smaller and does have a very different texture then what some New Yorkers may be used too. I found the pizza to be delightful and a nice change. The Carbonara was my favorite. 

I would highly recommend Nicoletta for a good and fairly inexpensive meal. They do not take reservations but you should be able to walk in with out a wait. They serve only wine and beer. Order the Carbonara Pizza.

Patate aka crispy fried potatoes with a lemony parmesan sauce for dipping. Amaze.

House-made Meatballs. Just like my fictional Italian mama used to make.

The king of NYC off-menu specials: Nicoletta's Carbonara Pizza

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Schmackary's is Everything

This post is shorter (and sweeter) than my usual Eat Up, Drink Up posts. I recently uploaded the picture below on Instagram and got quite the response. One of my colleagues even wrote that Schmackery's is "everything". "Everything" meaning everything you'd ever want in a cookie and more...and it absolutely is.

Schmackery's is a fantastic little cookie shop in NYC's Hell’s Kitchen. As of this moment it’s their only location but I’m sure that will be changing in the very near future. They make one hell of a cookie. Not just the regular, day to day cookies we’ve grown accustom too, Ie. chocolate chip, peanut butter etc. Think Maple Bacon, Sweet Corn, Sch’Mores, Red Velvet and my hands down favorite, Funfetti. They’re insanely creative and as pretty as they are tasty. 

The story of how Schmackery’s came to be is pretty inspirational. Midwestern kid moves to NYC in 2008 with a dream and by 2011 owner/founder Zachary Schmahl was selling his yummy cookies online. One year later NYC was blessed his very first store front on 45th and 9th ave. Cookies galore and they’re even smart enough to serve the perfect cold milk.

To all the cookie monsters out there! When in Manhattan, head to Schmackary’s. 

My Funfetti cookie with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. It was everything...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Marblehead Gem: 5 Corners Kitchen

Ryan and I heart Marblehead, MA. It’s the most charming little New England town and we’ve been going for long fall weekend’s for 6 years now. We stay at an incredible little bed and breakfast and visit all of our favorite bars and restaurants (some are mentioned in my previous blog post from last year). We finally strayed away from our usual stops and decided to make a reservation at 5 Corners Kitchen. We’d heard nothing but good things from the locals so we figured it was time to give it a try. 

We grabbed our usual pre-dinner drinks at Maddie’s Sail Loft and then headed up to 5 Corners. The restaurant is gorgeous. A very hip, New York feel and lively vibe. It was Saturday and it was packed. We were seated near the bar and once settled, we prepared to order our faces off. Naturally Ryan and I knew what we wanted in advance. Our little table of 4 proceeded to devour the following...

To Start:

The Half Shellfish Platter with oysters and lobster
The Charcuterie and Cheese Platter served with the most outstanding bread (we were told by our server, the bread is from a little bakery in Salem)


The 5CK Burger
Seared Sea Scallops
Steak Frites
Seasonal Pasta


Creme Brûlée 
Seasonal Ice Creams
Toffee Cake

All washed down with a few crisp glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and Manhattan’s for the boys. 

Everything was ridiculous. I'd suggest all of the dishes we ordered. 5 Corners Kitchen was so good in fact we went there again for dinner the very next night. I’d suggest reservations and a fairly deep pocket. The vibe wasn’t the only thing that reminded us of NYC. Are the city prices worth it? Absolutely.  

Our decedent Charcuterie Board. Meats and cheeses galore...

Fresh, briny oysters and a half a lobster...when in New England!

Our friend’s 5CK Burger. This burger was amazing. Cooked perfectly with lots of cheese and thick cut bacon. The fries and creamy fry sauce (a garlicky basil cream sauce) were to die for. Addictive to say the least.

Ryan’s tender Steak Frites. Fantastic. Served with more garlicky basil sauce.

My fresh pasta entree with mushrooms and truffle cream. Outstanding. 

When visiting Marblehead...Eat Up at 5 Corners Kitchen!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Peabody’s Little Depot Diner

Ryan and I love going to the New England area every fall. A little apple picking and a few lobster rolls can really do wonders for one’s soul. We think so anyways...

On our way back this year we decided to grab lunch in Peabody (pronounced pee-bidy), MA. One of our friends did a little research and found The Little Depot Diner. The menu looked good, typical diner food. The space unique as the restaurant is set in an old train car (see images below). There’s only one long bar so seating is tight but cozy. As soon as you walk in the door your feel beyond loved. The girls behind the counter were friendly, spunky and just plain cool. Once room was made for us at the bar, the ordering began.

They offer breakfast all day as well as some tasty lunch options. We were informed they serve farm fresh milk and eggs so Ryan and our friends opted for breakfast items. I decided on the tuna melt. Service was quick. We had our monstrous plates within about 10 minutes. The place is a bargin at $7-$8 per head. Our friend’s raved about the pancakes and eggs and Ryan was over the moon for his sausage and baked beans. My tuna melt was insane.

Between the delicious (and cheap) food and fantastic service, we'll definitely be back next year. 
Note: There’s no public restroom and it’s cash only. No reservations obviously. 

Thank you Alicia and Jade! We’ll see you ladies next year. 

A teeny tiny space with only one long bar. No tables.

My friend's huge, fluffy pancake with maple butter. Didn't even need the syrup.

My enormous tuna melt loaded with all the fixin's. They use a gooey, white American cheese that sets off the sandwich perfectly. Get the American cheese.

Ryan's Hungarian sausage with eggs, rye bread and The Depot's signature baked beans. 

The sweetest little ending to a delightful lunch in Peabody, MA.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Carbone: "Red Sauce" at it's best

A "Red Sauce Joint". I'd first heard this expression a few years back while talking to friend about Italian-American cuisine. For a restaurant to fall in this category, they need to serve familiar “Italian” dishes such as Lasagna, Spaghetti and Meatballs and Veal Parmesan. Italian comfort food at it’s best. Manhattan’s Carbone takes the idea of "Red Sauce" to the next level. Think big flavors and even bigger portions. Keeping up with Italian tradition, everything is served family-style. Perfect for sharing. The vibe is hip and the space almost always packed. The food is decadent and the wine list long. 

I took Ryan to Carbone with a few friends for his birthday. We had a fantastic time. The service was standard but good. The food however was very good as was our sommelier who was extremely knowledgeable and helpful. 

Let’s get to the food. The must order dishes were the Baked Clams, Spicy Rigatoni Vodka, Veal Parmesan and the Mushrooms (side dish). The mushrooms were the best I’ve had. We also ordered the Prosciutto with Melon (good but you can get in anywhere or easily make at home), the Branzino (also very good but I’ve heard the Scallops Francese are to die for...) and a few desserts (Nutella Tiramisu anyone?). We’re actually going again in a few weeks and I can not wait to try a few new dishes. Carbone has one of those menus where EVERYTHING looks yummy. Additional pasta dishes and the Scallops will be a must. 

Make reservations way, way in advance. I had a friend tell me he called and they were booked for months. Yikes. It’s been open for a few years now and it’s still hot. Carbone is under the fabulous Major Food umbrella which also houses ZZ’s Clam Bar (one of my favorites) and Dirty French, their newest opening which I can NOT wait to try. 

Our outstanding Baked Clams. This was my favorite appetizer. They came in three variety's,
one topped with fresh Uni. They were delicious.

This was hands down my favorite course. Our Rigatoni with Spicy Vodka Sauce and Carbone's house-made Meatballs. The pasta was, of course, perfectly cooked. The sauce creamy and flavorful. Everything you'd want from a vodka sauce. The Meatballs were perfection. Together, a match made in food heaven.

Our lovely Branzino. Presented whole tableside before being taken to the kitchen and prepared. Very light and flaky. 

My portion of their signature Veal Parmesan. Presented as a full dish, then cut into individual servings for each guest. It was excellent.

Nutella Tiramisu. Is a description really needed here? :-)


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Last Week's Food Porn: Jackson Hole, WY

Ryan and I just got back from vacation with a couple of friends out West. We had a blast. We spent the majority of our time in Jackson Hole, WY and then a few days in Yellowstone and Victor, ID. Jackson had such an amazing food scene, I felt the need to share some of our yummy pics which, by the way, easily measure up to some of our fabulous nature shots;-) 

There were so many images I decided to write up a summary for a few of our best dishes with full posts for some of the spots to come. Please enjoy the following food porn and message me with any and all questions about where to eat and drink in Jackson Hole...

in Teton Village (about 8 miles outside of the main town of Jackson)

The Seared Elk Chop: Ryan got this dish and it was fantastic. Cooked rare to juicy perfection. 

My Linguine with Clam Sauce: This was heavier than other clam sauces I’ve enjoyed but just as good if not better. The sauce is more of a pesto. Amazing. The pasta’s fresh and the hunks of thick pancetta round out the perfectly salty, savory flavors. Isn’t it gorgeous?!

in the heart of Jackson Hole in a lovely little historic house. Too cute. 

The Roast Rack of Lamb: This came as a recommendation from a friend of mine from high school. Hands down the best lamb dish we’ve ever had. Both Ryan and I agreed. Get the Lamb. 

The Grilled Beef Tenderloin: Wrapped in bacon and cooked to perfection. These were the two best dishes of the night, however everything we had here was top notch. 

in the heart of Jackson Hole

This little gem has the best happy hour in town. The cocktails are fantastic and during happy hour you get complimentary bar bites from the kitchen. I mean, what’s not to like about this place? 

Our delicious little Crab and Corn Fritters. Another fave was the Fried Brussel Sprouts. YUM!

in the heart of Jackson Hole, toward the end of town.

There was so much to love here. I think this was our favorite restaurant of the trip. Very classy. Reminded me of restaurants in NYC with prices to match. The best bite of the week was by far their signature Steak Tartare Pizza. This flavorful concoction is topped with tender raw steak, garlic aioli, capers and fresh raw red onion. OMG. 

in the heart of Jackson Hole, across from the aforementioned Snake River Grill

The best brunch in Jackson! Great coffee, better Bloody Mary’s and one hell of a Spanish Fritta. 
Get there early or be prepared to wait... 

Enjoy eating and drinking up in Jackson Hole!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The South has risen in NYC!

Root & Bone came to my attention via a fellow foodie friend of mine. I knew they served fried chicken & pimento cheese about 8 different ways so my southern heart fluttered. The restaurant is sister to Miami’s award-wining Yardbird brought to us by Chef Jeff McInnis and his new partner Janine Booth. I was so in. 

The place is hot. No reservations and there was a wait at 6pm on a Wednesday. We waited. The space is very charming although tiny and the bar only sits about 5 people and was of course packed. We were seated at high top chairs by the front windows. The seats were great as we faced the hustle and bustle of Alphabet City. If only it wasn't 90 degrees. 

What came next could only be described as a legit southern fat fest. We ordered the Deviled Eggs and Fried Pimento Cheese Caprese to start. We did not get the biscuits which I read were fantastic but we were trying to save room for the main event. The Chicken and Waffles. They do serve a Chicken and Waffle Sandwich but it’s made with white meat. I much prefer dark, so we opted to order a few pieces of dark meat and an order of a la carte waffles to make our own. Very good call. Both the chicken and the waffles were outstanding as was the syrup and hot sauce served on the side. We naturally needed some additional southern goodness so out came the Cheese Grits (loaded with corn and pimento cheese) and the Mac and Cheese (loaded with what seemed to be more pimento cheese). Both sides were insane. So good. There were two of us so obviously this wasn’t enough food...we decided to share the Banana Pudding for dessert. It was tasty but next time I’ll just save room for more pimento cheese... 

Get there hungry and early...GO!

Root & Bone located in NYC's Alphabet City. Way downtown, way east and way worth it.

Our fantastic Deviled Eggs. Delicious.

My favorite dish of the night. Our Fried Pimento Cheese Caprese with Grilled Peaches.

Waffles are always better with cheese...and fried chicken.

Our decadent Pimento Cheese Grits with Corn. This even beat out the Mac and Cheese. Order it.  

Banana Pudding. Very good but like I said, just leave more room for the savory stuff. 
Or I may try the Mississippi Mud Pie on our next visit...

Eat up y'all!