October 31, 2010

Ted's for Happy (?) Hour

Oh, Ted's. Why can't you just let me love you? I want to love you. But your service. Dear God, your service. Why does it always suck? Gah. It sucks so bad that once we actually walked out. We left money for our bill and maybe even a dollar tip, but the server (who ignored us for 30 minutes, then brought us a drink and ignored us for ANOTHER 30 minutes, all while serving tables around us) literally chased us out the door and asked if we were going to pay our bill. We informed her that we left cash on the table. Gah. And swore amongst ourselves never to return.

October 30, 2010

Roll N Roaster

One of my friend Kelli's favorite spots in Brooklyn is Roll N Roaster. She'd taken me there years before, but I ordered a non-specialty item (the equivalent of going to a steakhouse and ordering fish..yes...I did this!) On our most recent visit, on a freezing cold Saturday night, I did not make the same mistake--I ordered their famed roast beef sandwich, which is just under 5 bucks (most items on their menu are 5 bucks or less!)

October 29, 2010


My friend Patty's birthday falls on Halloween--I mean Halloween falls on her BIRTHDAY--so a group of us rounded up on Friday evening for a birthday dinner. We decided to try a spot off our normal roster and we hit up an old favorite of mine: Kashkaval, on 9th Avenue. I used to work across the street from here when I was at the talk show, and every once in a while I would pop in for an out of this world lunch--or to take a slice or two of baklava home.

One of my favorite things about this place--their cold dishes. Their spreads are outrageously delicious, especially their tzatziki (crazy powerfully garlicky), their ajvar (red pepper spread), and their olive tapenade. Oh man..soooo good. For $18, we got a plate with up to 6 items (we got the hummus, ajvar, tapenade, baked beets, and TWO servings of the tzatziki). Everything was insanely scrumptious. I could easily make a meal of all these spreads.

Up next, we got the Basic Fondue, which has Swiss & Emmenthaler ($10 per person). It comes with bread cubes, or you can pay extra for veggies or meats. Emily & I loved this, especially when it got to the bottom of the dish and all those yummy bits of garlic came to the surface. Patty thought this was just meh--"just cheese and bread," she said, to which I say JUST cheese and bread!? Just DELICIOUS cheese and bread!! :)

We ordered the chicken kabobs ($11), which come with 2 skewers and a bed of orzo, as well as a delicious mix of veggies and feta on the side. Two people could easily split this as a meal--we each took a piece of chicken and onions/peppers as a snack.

For dessert we got the chocolate fondue (also $10 per person), and this came with bananas, pears, strawberries, and marshmallows. The chocolate was super yummy--the only drawback was the way they sliced the fruit--usually you get big chunks, all the better to dip securely. These were sometimes paper-thin slices and tougher to manage. Still, any fruit and chocolate is a good thing.

We also got an order of baklava--which I love. Theirs is super-soaked in the syrup, so you can eat a bite and not have it fall apart in your hands. The nuts are finely ground, which I like, and the overall texture is just scrumptious to me. I LOVE this baklava. Love, love love it. It's actually cheaper if you get it to go than if you order it at the table, but I resisted the urge to bring more home with me...a move I'm now regretting!

Kashkaval also has a great, affordable wine list, and you can eat and drink quite well for not too much per person. I've eaten there for anywhere to 15-35 dollars a person (depending on if we ordered wine, etc.) and I ALWAYS feel it's worth the money and the trip.

856 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10019-4451
(212) 581-8282

October 27, 2010

Gemini Diner

You can't beat NYC diners for cheap, delicious breakfasts. Little did we know we'd also find a fabulous dessert...but first..the savory stuff!

October 26, 2010

The Modern: Wine Tasting

Here's another amazing time I had at The Modern, and this time I got to bring ABF! The awesome Belinda Chang had invited my friend Patty to a tasting, and I was going (along with Mel of Epi-Curiousity) as a guest. Well, the morning of the tasting, both Mel & Patty got the crud that was going around, and it was up to ABF & me to represent.

October 25, 2010

Vintry Wine & Whiskey

Fellow bridesmaid (from Jen's wedding) and friend Laura suggested a girl's night out one random Monday, and the bridesmaids and the bride all gathered in Fidi at a new spot: Vintry Wine & Whisky.

October 23, 2010

Crustless Mini Quiches

Every year I line up outside with my neighbors to watch the marathon runners go past our building. It's awesome, it's inspiring, and it's something I think every New Yorker should witness at least once. I decided, this year, to throw a party that morning, and after we cheer on the crowds, we can eat! Win-win. I don't have to run 26.2 miles AND I get brunch! (Note--these just happen to be gluten-free as well--if you skip the flour, which you will not miss)

I found a recipe on TheKitchn.com, but it was further down in the comments where I found THE recipe. It was a little simpler, more streamlined. The Kitchn's recipe called for a 1/4 cup of cornstarch, which just seems unnecessary to me. In the comments section I saw another reader's suggestion, which was flawlessly simple:

4 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp flour
Sauteed veggies (about 2 cups)
grated cheese

Keeping close to the Kitchn's recipe, I sauteed some onions and zucchini, threw in some shallots, added plenty of pepper and a little salt (the cheese is salty so I wanted to be careful with this). I had a few leftover mushrooms, too, and those went right in the pile. I took a bite of it before moving on to make sure it was all seasoned right- yum!

Thanks to one of my favorite kitchen toys, my Williams-Sonoma chopper, all that dicing took about, oh, ONE MINUTE. Awesome.

That's right...2 zucchini, one onion, 2 shallots, and a mess o' mushrooms. Chop, chop, chop, DONE! I LOVE this chopper.

For the cheese, I used Gruyere (my favorite for quiche) which was on sale at FreshDirect.com, and a little bit of Emmenthaler, which is much cheaper but not quite as delicious. :)

You can do these in steps, a pinch of cheese, a teaspoon of filling, a tablespoon of egg mixture, or you can just mix it all together and go that way, too. Either way it will give you savory, scrumptious bites of deliciousness that are so easy to prepare ahead (giving you way more time with your guests!) And yeah, I totally copied the composition of the step-by-step photo on the Kitchn's site--such a pretty shot!

I made a few dozen of these in the week before my party, and I can testify that they reheated beautifully in the oven. ABF's nieces both loved this, even the one who wasn't sure about quiche at first--victory! *I* loved this! These are now a staple from here on out--they keep beautifully in the freezer and heat up in 5 mere minutes in the oven (you could use the microwave, too, but I thought the oven warming resulted in a better texture). The possibilities are endless, and so are the rave reviews! Your guests will love these.

October 22, 2010

Tai Thai

Once again, CPZ has shared another amazing find in NYC: cheap and delicious Thai! We met one incredibly rainy day for an early dinner (I get up at 4am, so the Early Bird Special is just about right these days). Tai Thai is a tiny (thai-ny?) little spot near 1st street and 1st Avenue, and their prices are so low I triple-checked the menu.

First of all, their house wines are $2.50. No, I didn't leave out a "1." Two dollars and fifty cents. So hell yes I had a glass of red! It was nice, full-bodied and smooth, a great match with the upcoming dishes. Carlota ordered the white, but I'm not sure what she thought of it.

I started off with one of my favorites--Tom Yum soup--a spicy red broth with bits of chicken, peppers, straw mushrooms and more. This was steaming hot and so delicious. A bit salty but yummily so. And $3.50!!!!!

Carlota ordered the tofu and veggie pad thai ($8.50). Doesn't it look bright and fresh? That's exactly how it tasted--delicious. She thoroughly enjoyed it.

I ordered the green papaya salad, which is a favorite dish of ours at another CPZ find, Pho. This one comes without meat, but was still yummy. The crunchy peanuts were a nice add, and I knew ABF would love this dish (which he did, 2 weeks later, when he & I stopped in for another early dinner! Two weeks later, it was also EXPLODING with garlic--wow. My mouth was on FIRE.)

We weren't ready to go yet, and we were still a little hungry, so we opted for the coconut pudding. These were adorable, tiny servings, just a bite or two. The dishes were barely bigger than a silver dollar, but it's just enough sweet to end a delicious meal.

When I went with ABF, I noticed Tai Thai also has a ridiculously low corkage fee if you'd like to BYOB. Either way, enjoy your meal and make sure to tip well--their servers are lovely and attentive, and they bring your food out fast!

Tai Thai
78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009-7951
(212) 777-2552

October 21, 2010

Brown Butter Beauty

I met That Sara & her aunt a few weeks ago for lunch on a beautiful sunny Monday (hey, there are more perks than you think to working a morning schedule!), and we picked a spot right around the corner from Sara's office- Market Cafe on 9th Avenue. Sara had raved about this dish with scallops and mashed potatoes with brown butter. I'll give you a moment while you wipe away the drool.

October 19, 2010

Ferrara's Pastries

CPZ and I stopped by one of our favorite Vietnamese places (reviewed here) the other night to catch up and share some delicious food. After, we wanted something sweet and walked right up the block to Little Italy, home to Ferarra's (also reviewed here).

I ordered the dessert trio ($7.25), which had the mini Napoleon and mini eclair I tried last time, plus a mini raspberry tart.

The raspberry tart was both adorable and nommable. The berries were so fresh, and the filling was just sweet enough. CPZ had a bite and agreed it was excellent.

CPZ got the mini-eclair too and a hot chocolate, which she said was excellent.

I had an almond latte (almond is one of my favorites), which was also molto delizioso. Service there is quick and friendly, and the amazing pastries there are well worth a visit, whether you're a local or a tourist!

Ferrara Bakery & Cafe
195 Grand Street
New York, 10013
(212) 226-6150

October 16, 2010

Sweet & Simple Figs

My TastingTable.com email contained this recipe for fresh figs in a port wine sauce...oh yes, it would be mine. I walked by a street vendor the other night and saw that black mission figs were $1.25 a box (A BOX!) and that was that--time to whip up this gorgeous treat!

This is a stunning-looking dessert that truly only takes FIVE minutes. I'm not joking. 5 minutes. The longest task is the slicing of the figs, and I think you can handle that.

Add 1/4 cup of honey and port to the sauté pan and bring it to a simmer. Then add the sliced figs and cook them for two quick minutes.

Plate the figs and add a dollop of the amaretto-spiked whipped cream, and then sail away on a fluffy cloud of awesome.

This dessert couldn't be simpler or faster, and it's guaranteed to wow your guests.

PS: I didn't have any amaretti cookies on hand--I bet pistachios would be yummy, too. The cookies would have been a nice crunchy contrast, but this was still pretty darn delicious.

Honey-Port Figs with Amaretto Whipped Cream (by Laurent Tourondel)


¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup ruby port (I used Sandeman Ruby Port, $12.99/bottle)

12 fresh black Mission figs (or 8 ounces of another fruit), halved

1 cup heavy cream

1½ tablespoons confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur ($24.99/bottle)

¾ cup roughly chopped amaretti cookies


1. In a medium skillet, combine the honey and port and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the figs and cook, stirring gently, until the figs are tender, about 2 minutes. (Do not overcook the figs or they will fall apart.) Remove the figs from the heat and let them cool slightly while you make the whipped cream.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream and sugar at medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the liqueur and cookies until combined.

3. Arrange the figs on a large serving platter and serve with the amaretti whipped cream on the side.

October 15, 2010

Favorite Fruit

Have you ever had champagne grapes? They are one of my favorite fun fruits. My mom started using these when she did catering decades ago, and I remember thinking she was quite the trendsetter then. Everyone (okay, the women) would ooh and ahh over these cute little grapes that pop in your mouth, much like champagne bubbles (hence the name).

One warm August night, I assembled a yummy plate of snacks to nosh on while ABF & I made dinner at his apartment. Everything you see on this plate is from Trader Joe's! Iberico cheese, multigrain crackers, and champagne grapes (packed on my birthday-ha!)

The wine came from one of our favorite spots, Duckwalk Vineyards in Long Island. A nice glass of 'grownup grape juice' with our grapes and cheese!

Gosh, I love being a grownup sometimes. And for good measure, one more shot of ABF's beautiful tile backsplash in his lovely kitchen!

Roanoke Vineyards

After hitting Briermere Farms and Martha Clara, we felt like stopping at one more winery (this was Jen and Alex's first trip out to the North Fork). We checked out the handy map at Martha Clara and were quite surprised to hear that Roanoke Vineyards was open until 830pm (most places close between 5 and 6p). That cinched it--we hopped in the car and drove along Sound Avenue once more.

It was dark and windy, so we were happy to get inside. THe place was packed! An employee, Andrew, came right up to us and asked if he could help us. He gamely tried to find us indoor seating--and the corner table opened up right then. Andrew was awesome. He was so welcoming and helpful. He brought out Asiago cheese and bread with each round, too, which we loved!

Andrew also poured something special for ABF (our designated driver) and Alex, who's not a big wine drinker--Roanoke's verjus. It's like a tart grape juice--not too sweet. It's from the first pressings of the grape and they don't let it ferment, so it's non-alcoholic. It's a nice change of pace, and a great thing to have for guests who don't drink but don't want water or soda. I really enjoyed this. Andrew poured them each a big glass of it. At $10 a bottle, it's a unique, delicious offering to have on hand at dinner for non-drinkers, designated drivers, etc.

The first drink Andrew poured for Jen and me was the 2009 De Rosa Rose (2 two glasses in the foreground of the above photo), which was dry and delicious, very mango-y and canteloupe-y to me. I liked this a lot, but I love all kinds of roses.

Our second tasting was of their 2008 Chardonnay ($18). This was bright and citrusy, a very light, drinkable Chardonnay. I think Jen & I both enjoyed this.

The star of the show, by far, was the ice wine ($37), produced by Wolffer Estates, which is affiliated with Roanoke. WOW. Jen had never had ice wine before, and I assured her she was in for a treat--an explosively fruity treat. I whispered to ABF that this might even be as good as...dare I say even a smidge better than... Duckwalk's Icewine--and that's saying a lot! It's also a lot more expensive than Duckwalk, but it tastes absolutely worth it. Jen & I both picked up a bottle-I'm saving it for a special occasion---or maybe a random Tuesday night. :)

Before we left our awesome corner spot (see how cute it is?), we peeked outside and saw a cute outdoor seating area, complete with chiminea, and the vines out to the back. We'll have to come back in the warmer weather and take advantage of the outdoor space, too.

Roanoke is a perfect example of how far good service can go.. It was our last stop of the evening and sort of a last-minute decision, but our experience was so great there that we a) spent more money than we planned and b) will definitely return. Thanks, Andrew, and thanks to everyone else at Roanoke!

Roanoke Vineyards
3543 Sound Avenue
Riverhead, NY 11901
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