Sunday, August 31, 2014

You'd never know it's vegan...

If you read my blog on the regular, you know I do my best to balance my diet and incorporate lots of veggies in my daily meals. I even go through little spurts of vegetarian/veganism from time to time. I found this fantastic vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce online years ago and wanted to share. I have since "dressed" it up to Ryan and I's liking. It's not only vegan but delicious and super quick to make. It's even great for all of the gluten-freers out there and those following the Paleo trend. You can serve over pasta and add extra veggies to make it a heartier dish and (if you're not doing the full on vegan thing) add real Parmesan or Mozzarella. This sauce is amazing and so good for you. Guys, gals and children alike will love it! If you're a meat-eater, feel free to throw in some shrimp or serve over grilled chicken.

Eat Up, Drink Up's Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Makes 3 cups 

3 c chopped roasted red bell peppers 
2 T pine nuts, toasted  
1/2 large onion, diced 
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes (or less if you want less spice)  
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 c low-sodium vegetable broth  
1/2 c unsweetened, regular almond milk 
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh basil 
Ground black pepper & salt, to taste 
In a blender, purée roasted red peppers and pine nuts. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and crushed red pepper; cook about 3 or 4 minutes minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Stir in garlic and broth; cook 1 minute or until liquid has evaporated.

Stir in puréed red pepper mixture and almond milk, whisking until evenly combined. Simmer 4 or 5 minutes until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley and salt/black pepper. Enjoy!
***Add any extra cheese, veggies or meat you'd like. The recipe above however is 100% vegan and gluten-free. I like to serve with fresh fettuccine noodles but it's also great with any pasta or on seafood and chicken. Get creative. Go crazy!
Eat up! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

BFlay's Gato Lives Up To The Hype

Bobby Flay. One of the best known names on the Food Network. The king of "celebrity" chefs. 
I love Bobby Flay myself but it's never easy to live up to your hype once you become a household name. When Chef Flay was set to open up Gato, his first new restaurant opening in 8 years, critics were unsure if he still had it. After a 2 star review in the Times and countless rave write ups, he proved that not only did he still have it but he was back and better than ever. 

Gato is located in NYC's NoHo hood in a gorgeous, insanely well decorated, 100+ year old building. The space is seriously stunning. The bar is huge which I love and the dining room fairly spacious for Manhattan standards. 

I suggest going with a group and trying everything! The cocktail program is amazing. I would highly suggest the Jimmie or the Martinez. All of the cocktails are very unique and the ingredients super fresh. The dinner menu is Mediterranean inspired with many of my favorite components including seafood, goat cheese and lamb. Our server, Marc, was awesome. Very cool guy and he never missed a beat in regards to steps of service. The vibe is hip yet still very refined.

Like at all of NYC's hot summer restos, make your reservations in advance. I hear if you go during the week and grab a seat at the bar, you may even get a chance to see Flay in action. Sadly we were not so lucky:-( Maybe next time...

See below for menu highlights and some very satisfying food porn. Eat Up!

The Zagat nominated "Best thing I ate this year..." Roasted Octopus with orange, bacon and oregano. I don't know if it's the best thing I've eaten this year, but it's definitely one of the best octopus dishes I've ever had. Order it.

Our assorted Bar Snacks. These are also a must order and perfect for sharing.
The Seven Layer Potato and the Eggplant was our favorite. So pretty and delish.

My incredible Lamb Pizza. When I go back I'll get this again. So. Good.

The signature Kale and Mushroom Paella. Our server mixed up the perfectly cooked egg at the table, very nice touch.

Our Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with Blood Orange Sauce. You want to save room for this AND the Blackberry Crostata. YUM!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Clams, Clams & More Clams!

If you read my last post, you can clearly see I'm loving my seafood (specifically clam) centric restaurants this summer. What says summer better than a glass of rosé and a fresh raw bar?
Ummmm, nothing in my opinion.

When I heard about a little place called The Clam opening up on Hudson Street in the West Village, I knew it was double date time for Ryan and I and our food loving friends. The Clam is literally a menu of clams, clams and more clams. I was impressed with the plethora of ways chef and co-owner Mike Price was able to incorporate these little guys into virtually every dish. I knew the Clam Dip, the Clam Fried Rice and The Fried Clam Belly and Lobster Sandwich were must try's so naturally we ordered all of them. The dip was actually my favorite out of the three and served with delicious crispy chips, very addicting. Order it. The rice was a nice combination of plump clams, fatty, salty pork belly (one of my faves!), and fresh pickled onions. The pickled onions added a nice crunch and freshness to the dish that would have been missed otherwise. The portion size was perfect, I cleaned my plate with out feeling excessively full. Ryan ordered the sandwich and said it was tasty but he preferred a regular lobster roll to the addition of the fried clams.

Other major stand outs was the raw bar or "Iced Delicacies" as it's called on the menu. OMG. It was heaven. I would have been happy with just the raw goodies alone. We enjoyed raw clams, raw oysters and crab cocktail. Beyond fresh and served with house made sauces that complimented every bite. The Old Bay Fries were the jam and our friend said his Soft Shell Crabs were amazing. I didn't try the crabs but the plating was lovely and they looked like they were fried to perfection. Sadly, we didn't get to try the Spaghetti and Clams. I heard they were also a signature must try, but that's ok...I'm sure we'll be back...

FYI: The space is tiny, I would say it sits around 35 people so make a reservation and do so way in advance. We did go on a weekend during prime dinner hours so it was packed but I've heard it's pretty full most evenings. Book those ressies and eat up!

The epic "Iced Delicacies" at The Clam
The raw bar was my favorite part of the meal.

Their signature Clam Dip with house made chips. So creamy with a little sour tang. 
An amazing snack to start a meal.

The monster Fried Clam Belly and Lobster Sandwich with Old Bay Fries.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Have you heard of ZZ’s Clam Bar?

Well, have you? I’ve recently discovered this West Village gem and I’m a huge fan. I had never heard of the place until about a week before I went. ZZ’s is actually under the Major Food Group umbrella, the team also responsible for Torrisi and Carbone. I did my research and even the Yelp reviews were outstanding. Looking at the menu, I gasped. $20 for a drink? Wine $20 and up? This is pricey even for Manhattan standards. All the food is light, seafood inspired and small. It's the only small plate menu I've seen that ranges from $18-$150. 
Say whaaatttt!?? I admit. I was skeptical.  

You must make reservations as the space is teeny tiny! By tiny I mean the size of a bedroom. When you walk in there are 3 tables to your left, a few bar height seats to your right and a bar that looks like the bartender is about to test a chemistry experiment, surrounded by colorful jars, fruits and tools I've never even seen in a restaurant. Don't be alarmed by the door guy outside (he’s actually the best way to know you've arrived as there's virtually no signage outside), he's just there to monitor guests. The space is pretty much reservation only since their capacity is about 15 people.

As you settle in to your table or bar stool, get ready for an amazing experience. Cam, the only server I've seen there is a pro. Super charming and knowledgeable. The space itself is something to be seen and the spectacular food and cocktails only heighten this "only in NYC" experience. Come prior to having dinner for drinks and bites as it would be hard to get full here, at least for less than $100 per person sans drinks. But hey, we do eat a lot:-)

Where the magic happens...

ZZ's Coconut Cocktail. $20 and takes about 20 minutes to make but totally worth it. 
Well, at least once:-)

Goods from the raw bar. Fresh oysters and clams. Fresh, briney perfection.

ZZ's Tuna Toasts. One of the best bites I've had in a long time. The olive toast is crisp and super buttery with the most amazing raw tuna (a spicy concoction) perfectly piled on top. Divine.

Our tart and creamy Key Lime Pie. 
Very tasty.