Archive for the ‘Food & wine’ Category

Jason, Aubyn, and my wonderful in-laws, George & Eileen at 8th Street Wine Cellar

People are always quick to say that New York City has amazing food available at every turn.  Part of me agrees, and part of me feels that you really do have to know where to go.  Like any city, NYC certainly has its share of mediocre restaurants/bars/cafes, etc.  So I think trial-and-error, being somewhat adventurous, and (this is the most important thing, I think) get recommendations from people who also love food/wine/beer and read reviews!  I don’t know what I would do without yelp.com!

Hands down, my favorite places to eat & drink in NYC are wine bars, and I have a small list of places I think are stellar on every level.  I have much more detailed reviews on my yelp page: http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=MzkeNPw6OXtPR73UjCHVjg

1. Boqueria: 19th Street, just east of 6th Ave.  Just discovered this thanks to my good friend and fellow food/wine lover, Hannah.  Tapas.  Fabulous food & wine, not too crazy expensive.  I recommend the rose sangria!  Get there early…this place gets packed.

2.  Jadis: Rivington St., LES.  Been there twice, this was also recommended by Hannah.  🙂  Cozy vibe, a little bigger than a lot of wine bars, which is nice.  Get the crabcakes!  Delicious wine.

3.  Bin 71: Amsterdam & 71st.  Two of my good friends have worked here, and it’s one of my all time favorites.  I swear, I’ve never had a less-than-awesome meal here.  The food is sooooo good.  A little small, esp. when I’m coming from a gig and have my gear with me, but otherwise a lovely place to get cozy!  Went there last New year’s eve before J & I headed out to a cocktail party.  Had the famous meatballs in lemon broth.  Fantastic!

4.  Barcibo:  Broadway & 69.  Owned by the same people who own Bin (pretty sure about this).  Only been about 4 times over the last couple years, but it’s utterly fantastic.  Same high quality as Bin.  Romantic vibe (dark, candle lit), and the guy (Mark?) who greets-and-seats is soooo charming.

5.  8th Street Wine Cellar:  Between 5th Ave. & MacDougall.  This might be my number 1 of all-time, maybe tied with Bin.  Absolutely fantastic food, lovely wine list, cozy, romantic vibe, great service, not too terribly small.  LOVE this place.  Their butternut squash bruschetta is one of my favorite things of all time!  It seems the world has discovered it since the last couple times I went it was packed.  But that’s good for them.  They deserve to be popular!

Other places I’ve gone and would recommend, but I don’t know enough about them to review: Riposo 46 (Ninth Ave), the Wine Bar (2nd Ave)…

Also, check out the gorgeous bar at Bocca di Bacco on Ninth Ave. (btw. 54 & 55th).  They have great food as well, and it’s really more of a restaurant.  The bar is so beautiful, though, I would go and just sit there.  Also, check out their front door.  It’s gorgeous!

Happy wine-barring!

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I used to view Halloween as one of the key partying high-points of the entire year.  One of my first…uh, illegal experiences, was on Halloween…circa 1999.  Alas, said view has changed.  I love to go out, I love to party (though “party” has taken on a different color as the years have gone by, and I’m happy to say so), I love to see the city in all its vivacious, ‘partying’ glory (minus the excessively drunken NYU undergradutes that permeate both sides of the Village).  But soggy fall nights are often best experienced inside my ever-cozy apartment with my cats, the jack-o-lantern inspired by Martha Stewart, some good food, some good books, my trusty laptop, and hopefully my husband who is in a state of chronically working his you-know-what-off.  I digress…

Today was brilliant!  I’m aiming for the April dissertation deadline so any and all work time is like pure gold…or like the candy corn that I was unable to find yesterday at either Duane Reade or Rite Aid.  Let’s just say it’s profoundly cherished time, particularly when I have enough motivation (i.e. am not too distracted by fall and/or general holiday festiveness).  So I finished the last (I hope the last!) of my interview transcriptions, which was an interview with the wonderful cellist-improviser Daniel Levin…if you’ve ever done transcriptions, you’ll know that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours….

I am currently working on the infamous “Tomas Ulrich chapter,” which is great fun and interesting to say the least.  His interview was/is one of my favorites, particularly because (apart from being insanely witty) he went to BU as well, and though he was there a number of years before I, had an almost identical experience regarding the joys of crack-of-dawn theory classes.  Gotta love walking down Comm Ave. in windy, sub-zero temps at 7:45 in the morning for species counterpoint, harmonic dictations, etc.!  Fun times!

Apart from that, my Halloween has included admiring the gorgeous & charming jack-o-lantern that Jason carved a couple nights ago…we copied my sister whose jack-o-lantern is inspired by the cover of the ever-enjoyable Martha Stewart Living.  I made a Moroccan chicken tagine via a recipe in the November Cooking Light issue — delicious & easy!  Just be sure to simmer MUCH longer than they suggest — you want the chicken to tenderize & that only happens with a long, uber-slow simmer.   And dump on the spices.  I don’t know why recipes are always so stingy with their spice recommendations.  Also made hot cider as I was expecting one of my best friends to stop by.

Wine buying tip for white wines: I recommend the “La Linda” viognier from Argentina.  It is CHEAP – $10 and delicious.  I’ve bought it a number of times, and it’s wonderful.  I’ve also bought the La Linda rose, which is pretty good.  Rose is absolutely not ‘white zinfandel,’ for the record.

Music-wise, I’ve been listening to “Peaceful Pat & Brad.”  I made myself a mix a few weeks ago with said title referring to Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau.  I chose the ‘peaceful’ tunes of theirs – some together, some not – and made an itunes mix.  I think I’m going to make it into a CD to give my parents at Christmas.

Happy Halloween, happy cooking!  And best wishes for this holiday season…Duane Reade already has their Christmas decorations in stock.  Oh my goodness…time to whip out Vince Guaraldi.  😉

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Managed to fit a run in this morning on this absolutely spectacular fall day.  The color is totally stellar this year in NY.  I can only imagine what it must be up at Gill & Charly’s in Maine!  All those Sugar Maples…

Anyway, the utter fabulousness of fall brought to mind two things: 1) the super yummy fall drink I made last week – recipe below and 2) the Neil Gaiman short story, “October in the Chair,” which depicts the months of the year as people sitting around a fire, telling stories.  I wanted to look up the details of this story since it’s been probably 18 months since I’ve read it.  Sadly, my blog-poo-pooing-but-literature-loving friend has it (I think) after I lent it to her.  In her defense, she tried to send it to me twice along with Gaiman’s masterpiece (imo) “American Gods,” but J & I were not in town to claim the package.  (Sorry, Liv!)

Like all Neil Gaiman stories, “October in the Chair,” left it’s mark in my imagination.  The name – “October in the Chair” – brought to my mind initially something having to do with the electric chair (wouldn’t be a surprise for Gaiman, n’est pas?), but it is truly a benign story.  Check it out. It’s in his book of short stories & poems, “Fragile Things.”

So my recipe for spiked hot apple cider.  Heat apple cider over the stove with a cinnamon stick & some lemon rind (or a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice).  Grate or sprinkle some nutmeg in as well.  If you have mulling spices, they add a lot to this festive drink.  You can usually find them in the supermarket near the teas.  They often come in tea bag form.  Simmer.  Enjoy with Jameson’s!

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Microwave a sweet potato — be sure to cut slits in it.  One exploded on me a few days ago.  A big one will take about 5-6 min. on each side.  Enjoy with cinnamon, a little bit of butter maybe, a little bit of brown sugar or honey or maple syrup.  Healthy, filling, easy & super yummy.

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Janaina and I went to this place called Cafe Champignon last night before our Brazilian dance company excursion.  It’s on 7th Ave., between 22nd & 21st, west side of street, if I’m remembering correctly.  Check it out!  They had hardly any people there, but it was lovely.  Here is the yelp page with my review:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-champignon-new-york#hrid:Q_9o-ZLXRxklny1otDZGuA

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Made a…dare I say “superb” dinner for my & J’s 3 year wedding anniversary (10-21):  Sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter & sage, spinach salad with parmesan & pears, rice puddings with gala apple caramel sauce.  The gnocchi & rice pudding recipes were from the ever-trusty epicurious.com.  I made up the spinach salad, but it was so easy.  Did the dressing with freshly minced garlic & olive oil & balsamic.  A little labor intensive — rice pudding takes TIME! — but all in all, worth every second!  Calphalon pans are very helpful with recipes like rice pudding.  Lots of standing over the stove.   Enjoyed a wonderful Pinot Noir from Duck Pond Cellars (Willamette Valley) with the meal.  Superb!  🙂

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