Dessert Alert | Michel et Augustin Two Kooky Cookies

melty-middle-praline-toasted-almond-iiAs most of my friends and readers know, I consider myself a dessert connoisseur. With that said I’m almost shocked I hadn’t tasted Michel et Augustin Two Kooky Cookies before just recently. Chances are you’ve seen these goodies around New York — they can be found at Whole Foods, Starbucks and Union Market to name just a few locations. For those of you that don’t know, Michel et Augustin is a French cookie company that entered the United States after over a decade of successfully satisfying the sweet tooth of people around the world.
melty-middle-praline-toasted-almondRecently GRiD-NY had the opportunity to speak with Michel et Augustin’s Communications Director in the U.S., Lily Dionne-Jermanovich on the future of Michel et Augustin in the states. Their mission is to “spread the French pastry know-how across the universe,” told Dionne-Jermanovich. “We want to be the first company to be made up of 100 percent pastry-certified kooky cookies (our staff) and we launched our first class on Nov. 21.” Two lucky New Yorkers were offered spots in this exclusive 27-week pastry class to prepare for the official French pastry exam in June 2017.
banner-bakingTo clarify, when they say pastry certified, they mean actually getting the certificate from France, known as CAP, or professional aptitude diploma. This requires a 78-hour curriculum, lots of practice and an exam administered by the French state. Serious business.

Chocolate lovers will adore the Super Cookies with melty middle which comes in two decadent flavors: dark chocolate, caramel and pecans and milk chocolate and hazelnuts. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, warm them up and devour with a glass of milk or some ice cream. Personally, I love grabbing the to-go packs of the buttery cookie squares whenever I spot them at the store. My favorites include the milk chocolate, caramel with a pinch of sea salt — I can never get enough of the sweet n’ salty combination — and the lemon meringue which reminds me of lemon squares that I loved as a kid.
super-cookie-sky-linemelty-middle-1If you have yet to taste these fabulously authentic French baked treats, Michel et Augustin hosts an Open House at the “banana farm” in Brooklyn every 1st Thursday of the month. Think: cookies on cookies on cookies! As always, the event is free and not only do you get to taste the cookies, but you can also preview upcoming recipes, listen to music and mingle with likeminded cookie lovers. The Banana Farm New York is located on 98 4th street in Brooklyn and the event goes from 6:53 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. I’ll be there this Thursday (Dec. 1) so definitely holler if you’ll be checking it out too!

For the complete interview between GRiD-NY and Michel et Augustin’s Communications Director in the U.S., Lily Dionne-Jermanovich, click here.

This is a sponsored post by GRiD-NY; this in no way influenced the opinions stated. For more of my articles on the City That Never Sleeps, visit GRiD-NY.

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NYC Spotlight | Cosme

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Flatiron District’s Cosme serves outstanding contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine time and time again.

Chef Enrique Olvera brings together the beloved, traditional elements of Mexican food with innovative flavor and ingredient combinations at New York City’s Cosme restaurant. Setting this super trendy, upscale Flatiron spot a part from the countless other exclusive, majorly-hyped restaurants is the creativity of the menu offerings. In addition, its lively bar is top notch and is stocked with around 30 mezcals and 20 tequila, making for a great variety of fantastic cocktails. With warm lighting, copper tones and wooden tables and shelves lining the walls filled with bottles of wine and mezcal, books and chic kitchen ware, the atmosphere is modern, yet comfortable and cozy. Another nice touch are the vibrant, leafy green plants throughout the restaurant.  img_8034cosme3cosme6Start with a tuna tostada which comes with capers, avocado and a slight yuzu citrus on a crispy signature tortilla. Another solid seafood dish is the octopus-scallop cocktail which is served over a black aguachile with charred avocado and slivers of cucumber. The tender lobster with shiso, ginger mojo and brown butter is a unique play on the lobster and butter combo. The freshness of the ginger and shiso flavors keep this dish from feeling too heavy. Any fan of soft shell crab should go for the crunchy soft shell crab that features a well-spiced yellow mole, green papaya salad and lemon verbena.cosmecosme1On to the meat dishes! If there’s one thing you absolutely need to get it’s the duck carnitas which comes sizzling in a iron cast skillet with onions, radishes and cilantro. The duck is ridiculously flavorful. Rich, the right amount of fatty (as duck should be) and indulgent, the carnitas falls apart and is literal roasted perfection. Wrap it up in a purple corn tortilla. Boom. There you have the best soft taco ever. The short rib with scallions, cipollini and avocado is a close second must-order. Likewise extremely tender, this hunk of meat has enormous flavor and practically melts in your mouth.
cosme4cosme2You can’t leave Cosme before wrapping up your dinner with the instagram-famous and drool-inducing husk meringue with corn mousse. Cracked open and filled with a creamy, luscious corn mousse, this dessert is the ultimate balance of sweet and savory. It has a slight salty component to it which pairs excellently with the sweet crunchiness of the meringue and the decadent mousse.

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Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival 2016

img_5535This Fall, Epcot threw its 21st annual International Food & Wine Festival. From Sept. 14-Nov. 14, over 30 food booths were stationed around Epcot’s World Showcase featuring the cuisines of various countries. Each destination area is impressively designed to reflect an experience in that country. From Africa and Morocco to Japan and Brazil, this is the ultimate event for adventurous eaters. Guests have the chance to fill out their free “passport” with stickers as they visit each booth, though it’s unlikely one person could eat their way around the world in one day. I definitely recommend getting the rides out of the way before you start feasting. Nausea is no joke. Soarin’, Mission: Space and Spaceship Earth were the three highlights of the ride experiences. Don’t miss out on them.

Here are a bunch of pictures from my first Epcot Food & Wine Festival experience.  I can’t wait for next year!
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Buttered Chicken with Micro Cilantro and Naan Bread
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Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas
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Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans and Tomato

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Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel & Rosa Regale Sweet Red Sparkling Wine
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Pineapple Dole Whip Soft-Serve Ice Cream with Bacardi Coconut Rum

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NYC Spotlight | Sanatorium

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Sanatorium: a hospital for the treatment of chronic diseases or various nervous disorders. 
 If you’re over regular, run-of-the-mill, Lower East Side bars, then rejuvenate with innovative libations at Sanatorium — a new, hidden cocktail bar from Apotheke creator, Albert Trummer, also known as the “scientist of cocktails.” Truly one-of-a-kind, the theme of this upscale cocktail lounge is, you guessed it, a hospital.

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Though it might seem a bit off-putting to order drinks with names like Stitched Up (Turkish fig-infused rye whiskey) and In the Ambulance (thyme elixir, orange oil, and fresh rosemary), after one sip you’ll forget all about your former hesitations.
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The lounge, modeled after a 1930s medicine hospital, exudes cool with its green Venetian plaster walls and vintage furniture like blue velvet love seats, chandeliers, and chrome and steel accents. There’s also an operating table equipped with surgical lights that illuminates the bar, beakers, test tubes, bottled up elixir potions, and more hospital-ish décor throughout the space.
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Guests can request unique cocktails based on their own tastes, but some of the drinks on the menu might hit the spot, too: One option is Recovery Time (vodka, raspberry, earl grey, lemon, and hibiscus elixir), and another is the O.R. (rum, pineapple, lemon-infused sugarcane, cilantro, habanero, vanilla elixirs, and angostura).
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The charming bartenders are well-dressed, seasoned professionals. Special shout out to bartender Chris Norton for making our first time experiencing Sanatorium both educational and intoxicating.

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5 Under-the-Radar New Yorker Fall Getaways

img_3121It’s that magical time of the year when it’s no longer sweltering but not yet freezing. It’s perfect for Fall getaways, so take advantage! Though most New Yorkers are well aware of the commonly crowded, much-hyped, and occasionally pretentious vacation spots like the Hamptons, Montauk, or Martha’s Vineyard, here are five destinations that are equally — if not more so — gorgeous, quaint, and relaxing for the perfect Fall weekend getaway.

1.) Cold Springs, New York
img_3609Want to get out of the city but don’t want to drive? Go by boat! Venture on a catamaran Fall Foliage Cruise before it gets too cold and jet up the gorgeous tree-lined Hudson River to the adorable and historical small town of Cold Spring, New York. Guests will enjoy fantastic views of New York City on the way to the destination and can look forward to insanely vibrant foliage while on the water. Fiery reds, bright oranges and golden yellows — the colors are literally glowing this time of year!

While on the cruise, guests can listen to their enthusiastic tour guide point out all the noteworthy places that include the Cloisters, George Washington Bridge, huge castle-like mansions, West Point, Bear Mountain, as well as the delightful towns on the shore of the Hudson. Arriving at Cold Spring, established 1846, feels like taking a step into the past. The streets are lined with grand Victorian homes. Strolling along the 19th century waterfront main street will be a huge contrast to walking anywhere in New York City — you’ll love it.
img_3563Activity options include boutique shopping, pursuing through local artisans’ shops, and dining at farm-to-table restaurants. In addition to a variety of packed antique shops, other locales include a trendy apothecary, general store, and some great places to get unique gifts. Get some brick oven roasted pizzas at the restaurant, Riverside, while taking in views of the Hudson.

Stay the weekend at the three-story Pig Hill Inn and unwind in one of its nine individually decorated rooms or outside on its garden terrace. Built in 1895, the Inn is filled with antiques, romantic allure, and offers a full country breakfast every morning. Cold Springs is just the place to unwind and enjoy small town living in a beautiful setting.

2.) Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires is home to beautiful scenery, lots of great hiking and outdoor activity, culture and art museums, and all the charm of a small town. Check out the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art which houses larger-than-life installations and boasts over 100,000 square feet of open and naturally lit space for art lovers to explore. MASS MoCA is also home to over 75 performances year-round. Or there’s the Clark Art Institute which features a range of masterpieces that include paintings, sculpture and drawings.

img_5165Just want to be outside? Take a walk on its 140-acre oasis filled with looming trees, meadows, landscaped walking trails, and experience the vibrant colors of fall foliage. Swing by Hilltop Orchards for some old fashioned apple picking, fresh cider doughnuts, wine tastings, and hikes on its 200 acres of land. Feeling adventurous? Take a hike on one of the Berks’ many trails. Climb up Bash Bish Mountain for an unbelievable views of Bash Bish Gorge, New York’s Harlem Valley, and the distant Catskill Mountains; or hike the Jug End Loop Trail for a more peaceful, chill excursion.

Stay at one of the many lovely bed and breakfasts or inns around. A few recommendations are: Devonfield, a Colonial style inn that sits atop a hillside that overlooks 32 acres of meadows; the Gateways Inn, originally the Procter (of Procter & Gamble) mansion converted into a charming, 11 room B&B; or the Whistler’s Inn, a fairytale 1870 English Tudor mansion.

3.) Adirondacks, New York
img_3122-jpgAnyone who loves Fall needs to visit the Adirondacks now when the foliage is at its peak for the season. Mountain lovers, and anyone seeking the opposite feeling of being in Times Square, won’t want to leave this outdoor wonderland. Rent a boat or kayaks at Mirror Lake and explore; venture through High Falls Gorge, a 22-acre nature park, complete with four scenic Adirondack waterfalls cascading over boulders; or get your boots on and hike through the trails of Adirondack Park and savor its panoramic mountain views. You can also go fishing, hunting, or rock climbing… this is truly the destination to-be for any outdoorsy person.

Stay at an upscale lodge such as the Lake Placid Lodge, with luxury comforts, a view of the lake, rustic hand-crafted furniture, fireplaces, deep tubs and cushy beds; or the Mirror Lake Inn which offers a spa and salon, indoor and outdoor pools, and Colonial-style rooms with views of Whiteface Mountain. Looking for more of a nature-filled campground? Stop by the Adirondack LOJ, a 1920’s lodge on the shore of Heart Lake where you’ll sleep in classic log beds stacked four or six to a room.

4.) Portsmouth, New Hampshire
img_4749Fans of Gilmore Girls will be thrilled to know that the picturesque town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire is basically a real-life version of Stars Hallow. For those of you not familiar with TV’s most beloved mother/ daughter duo, Portsmouth is a peaceful, friendly New Hampshire town, filled with museums, history, wide sandy beaches, and good food. Did we mention that it’s also home to Lindt Chocolate USA headquarters and a glorious Lindt outlet shop? Because it is must-see.
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As the nation’s third-oldest city, it’s filled with historic sites such as the Strawberry Banke Museum, a historic waterfront museum featuring homes and exhibits from three centuries; landmarks that include Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, a 48-foot tower of Portsmouth Harbor Light; and Moran Towing Tugboats. Day trip locations such as the Isles of Shoals, which was discovered by Capt. John Smith, of Pocahontas fame are also nearby. Take one of numerous Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail Sankofa Tours if you want an afternoon of educational information and a bit of exercise. In addition, stroll through Market Square for an eclectic range of small shops, cafes, restaurants, and waterfront attractions.
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Stay downtown at the historic mansion, The Hotel Portsmouth, a 135-year-old historic hotel that is a classic example of Queen Anne Victorian architecture. Each room in this boutique hotel is individually decorated and designed with a mix of both retro and modern touches. Or spend a night at the Inn at Strawberry Banke, a unique seven-room colonial bed and breakfast.

5.) The Farm at Woods Hill
img_3216The Farm at Woods Hill is the ideal getaway for lovers of fresh air, animals, wide open spaces, excellent farm-to-table fare and those interested in sustainable farming. Owned by Kristin Canty, filmmaker of Farmageddon and proprietor of Woods Hill Table, The Farm at Woods Hill was built to supply pasture raised meats and produce to her restaurant. The farm has a variety of animals from cows and pigs to chickens and lambs, as well as tons of fresh seasonal produce growing out of its flourishing edible gardens.
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If you’ve never spent time on a farm, a stay here will be quite an experience — both tranquil and fascinating at the same time. Guests have the option of staying at the Lodge, a gorgeous 3200-square-foot log cabin overlooking a swimming pond in the peaceful hills of western New Hampshire, or the charming, sky blue Farm House around the corner which houses an extra 20 people. The Lodge has a Jacuzzi tub and shower, a loft with a queen-sized bed and sitting room, a large fireplace for chilly nights, and even an amazing library — reminiscent of the one in the Beauty and the Beast — stocked with unique reads.
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With a fully outfitted kitchen, a huge screened in porch, and a fire pit, you’ll be able to fully take in the nature around you. If you want to explore, the property is surrounded by miles of hiking trails. It is 28 miles to Loon Mountain and Cannon Mountain Ski Resorts, 39 miles to Mt. Washington, and 15 miles to the Appalachian Trail. Plus, you can opt for a stay package, which includes a farm stay with tours; a spa stay including yoga classes, facials, manicures, and pedicures; and a maple stay which offers a taste of real New Hampshire maple syrup!

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NYC Spotlight | Meatpacking District’s Newest Hot Spot Hybrid: Kola House

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The kola nut is a caffeine-containing nut of the kola tree. {Credit: Kola House}

Meatpacking District’s Kola House had a lot of expectations to live up to. Touted as one of the biggest and hottest openings of Fall, this 5,000 square foot space is the “first experimental kola bar, restaurant, lounge and event space to open in the U.S. market.” According to a recent press release. “The flagship location (in Meatpacking) will also serve as a transformative event space for pop culture moments in music, art, style, film, sports and more.” The Kola House pays homage to the kola nut, a nut that also drives the creativity and inspiration of its cocktails, elixirs and specialty plates on the menu.

PepsiCo owns this modern, oh-so-trendy hotspot, but you’d never guess it based on the atmosphere, décor and style of the space. You won’t see any iconic red, white and blue cans, or any other hint of product-pushing from the food and beverage conglomerate. What you will see are exposed brick walls, a shiny back bar and cocktail infusion area, copper accents, hard wood floors, a space for impromptu pop-up performances and an illuminated square sculpture hanging from the ceiling.

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{Credit: Kola House}

The cocktails and elixirs are some of the best we’ve ever had. Alex Ott is Kola House’s sensory ringmaster — the beverage magician, if you will. Upon reading his bio you’ll read the following about his skills which, “combine sensory dining/drinking psychology with his unique knowledge of hangover preventative elixirs, alcoholic and non-alcoholic functional and disease preventative beverages, nootropics, dietary supplements as well as deep space travel and fine fragrance.” If you’re a little confused as to what that actually means, we can help you. The drinks are out-of-this-world.

The intergalactic peace is described as “a stunning and memory evoking spectacle of beverage induced interconnectedness.” This cocktail comes in a glass dome which houses campfire smells of woods, tobacco, and sandalwood, and inside this dome of fragrance is your cocktail of spiced cognac/rum, tobacco infused honey, sandalwood, vanilla, pear and lime. Before you imbibe, you can inhale the incredible mix of smells which enhances the entire drinking experience.

If you’re looking for something calming, get the Mind & body, which is described as a “resort like elixir with mood regulating and anti-inflammatory properties.” Think: mild bitters, white cranberry, levigated pearl garnished with a delightful spruce pillow of forest scents. Absolutely lovely.

Bottom line: make sure to get some cocktails.

On the food side, Kola House’s Executive Chef, Jon Feshan draws from his Persian heritage to create New American cuisine that highlights purity of flavor and freshness of the ingredients used.

We ordered a nice selection of dishes which began with a fresh fig toast with sweet, crunchy maple-glazed hazelnuts and cheese; the unique wild salmon tartare which came atop crispy sticky rice, and a scallion crème fraiche; and the very filling pork shoulder carnitas which was seasoned with a kola spice rub served with warm tortillas.

To some, that may sound like a full meal. Not for us. We continued the feast with a light dish of braised beets with lemon yogurt, pistachio granola and chunks of pickled strawberry. The grand finally was the roasted & fried chicken with collard greens and a side of house-made Fresno hot sauce butter. Similar to a buffalo sauce on steroids. The roasted chicken was juicy, while the fried chicken had a satisfying crunchy coating surround the also tender meat. This dish is meant to be shared and is a must-try for lovers of buffalo chicken wings.

For dessert we recommend the s’mores bowl – no need for explanation on that decision. It’s indulgently sweet.

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NYC Spotlight | Winter Village Holiday Shops at Bryant Park

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Gooey, cheesy goodness.

New York City wastes no time when ramping up for the holiday season. Even though the weather is still relatively warm, and we are barely past Halloween, Bryant Park has officially reopened its much anticipated pop-up market. This year, the Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village feature a dedicated food market called “Feast on 40th” on the park’s south side. In addition, Bryant Park’s seasonal skating rink is in full-swing and already busy with people wanting a jumpstart on winter festivities.

The market, curated by the well-known pop-up organizer Urbanspace, is featuring over 30 different food purveyors, selling everything from classic New York staples to new food-mashups.

Baked Cheese Haus is a must. Picture a glorious raclette service where they melt half wheels of Alpine cheese and scrape the gooey cheese over items like fresh, toasted ciabatta and cured ham, topped with Dijon and baby gherkins. If bubbling cheese isn’t your thing, we definitely recommend grabbing a savory, crispy chicken filled Chick’n Cone — which also makes for awesome Instas — trying out a bowl of borscht from Veselka’s Borscht Bar, or biting into some traditional meatballs from Meatball Obsession.

Brodo, a bone broth vendor we haven’t seen much of, is a popular, warming choice that comes in either chicken, beef or hearth broth with add-ins like bone marrow and roasted garlic puree. Those of you who attended the 2016 Vendy Awards will recognize the award-winning Mr. Bing selling its traditional Chinese street crepes — jianbing — filled with Peking duck, barbecue pork, and eggs.
img_5253img_5242Taco lovers will be thrilled with a nice selection of Tacos such as Coney Shack’s incredibly crunchy fish tacos or Domo Taco’s Asian-inspired options with meats like lemongrass chicken and braised five spice pork. Perfect for when winter really hits, the Ramen Bar by Chingu is offering hot bowls of noodle soups in flavors such as Bulgogi with beef bone broth or vegetable with fried tofu skins.
img_5630img_5252Over on the sweet side there’s a whole lot to try. Get hot cider and cider doughnuts at Breezy Hill Orchard. Bite in to a fresh Cretzel (croissant-pretzel hybrid) in flavors like pumpkin or Nutella almond from Breads Bakery. Grab a hot chocolate from Max Brenner’sand pair it with fresh doughnuts from Doughnut Project. Grab one (or two) crunchy, sugar coated, dulce de leche filled churros at Dulcinea. Buy a pretty box of classic macarons at Woops! Or crunch in to some Nutella filled chimney cakes. Trust us, you can’t go wrong.
img_5259Lastly, check out Danny Meyer’s new pop-up restaurant, Public Fare which will be an all-day cafe with pastries, coffee, soup, sandwiches, and cocktails for the evening.

Make sure to swing by the Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village before it closes on January 2. For more information, click here.

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Events | Dessert Goals 2016: The Sweetest Festival in NYC

Here’s a recap of all the sugary excitement that went down at New York City’s first ever dessert festival.
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New York City officially had its first all-dessert festival last week. Dessert Goals 2016 was the first of its kind and a huge success. The event was organized by two friends who were perplexed as to why no dessert fest existed: Miraya Berk, the founder of Pop Productions (a boutique events studio), and Liang Shi, creative director and experience designer of  clients such as Forbes to Conde Nast.

The event was a sugar-fiends’ dream. With pop music throwbacks in the background, the festival allowed each excited attendee to have a designated hour and a half to try all the dessert they pleased. Each vendor churned out picture perfect creations for people to taste — and to photograph, of course — and each vendor was more than happy to talk about their creative process, how their dessert came to be, and what inspired them.
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Aside from filling up on sugar, those that bought tickets to specific workshops were able to learn from the best experts in the dessert and social space. Dessert photo styling, tips on taking unbelievable food pictures and how to make a living off your blog or Instagram were just several of the workshops offered.

One thing that’s known about myself across the board, is that I love dessert. The words, “dessert first” have never rang truer with any other individual. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that Dessert Goals was one of the best days of my life as a New Yorker (I’m from San Francisco). Described as, “a day of celebration, indulgence, discovery and deliciousness,” this dessert fest now marks another honor: the day Chelsea Davis ate her weight in sugar. #sorrynotsorry.
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As you enter Dessert Goals, you walk through The Hall of Affirmations, which includes signs such as, “Treat yo self” and “Life’s too short. Eat dessert first.” If you had any hesitation on whether or not you should eat as much dessert as possible, you didn’t after taking ten steps into the venue!

The event space was decked out to make it the sweetest experience possible. Inflatable larger-than-life doughnuts were floating around, old fashioned jars filled with classic candies adorned one wall, Instagram-worthy backgrounds were everywhere, and there was an excited buzz throughout the entire space. But maybe that was because everyone was also sugar-high?
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In addition to 21 of the most innovative dessert vendors in New York, Dessert Goal also had a variety of really thoughtful additions to the event. Outstanding extras included: free candy at the candy shop; free French press coffee and lessons courtesy of Bodum and Intelligentsia; and — for all the bloggers, influencers, photographers and fellow dessert enthusiasts — an Instagram garden, which is exactly what it sounds like. This dessert oasis is specifically designed for snapping pics of your vibrant, over-the-top sweet treats, complete with various backdrops and prop-desserts whose purpose is to be photographed.

Those needing a palette cleanse could head to the roof top for a sugar break at the salt bar (indulging is all about balance) and an adorably hip vintage ice cream lounge presented by The Dobbins St. Vintage Co-Op. Skyline views, fresh air, giant ice cream-shaped pillows, and baby pineapple plants were just a few things that made the roof top extra special.

The carefully curated mix of vendors offered a huge range of dessert styles. From the epic 1950’s-style Hong Kong egg waffles from Wowfulls, stuffed with ice cream and topped with goodies like mochi, strawberries and pocki; and Mini Melanie’s opulent gemstone dessert truffles and decadent mini cakes; to Taiyaki’s fish shaped waffle cones stuffed with red bean and topped with matcha soft serve ice cream; and the always-classic, Cookie DO cookie dough mixed with whatever sweet extras your heart desires, there was something for every taste preference.
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Heard of artisanal twinkies? Neither had we until we tried Jae NYC Eats’ Twinkie-inspired “Cakies” in flavors like halo-halo — Pandan, Jackfruit and Ube. This was a thrilling discovery! There was #BAONANAS’ banana pudding, which gave Magnolia’s Bakery a run for its money with its leche-flan inspired base with flavors that include lychee-rose with strawberry.

Bittles’ breakfast cake bites were another unique dessert that festival-goers enjoyed. These cake bites are infused with your favorite breakfast cereals and treats — like poptarts.
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Perfect coffee pairing bites included the one and only, Doughnut Plant, which offered a variety of Fall inspired flavors such as candy corn, filled with corn pudding and good ol’ pumpkin spice. Also fabulous, were Joey Bats’ flakey, creamy, and rich Portuguese egg tarts.
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For ice cream aficionados, Noona’s Ice Cream was scooping Korean-inspired flavors like salted peanut butter + banana caramel, toasted rice, matcha + dark chocolate and whiskey + bacon.  In addition, Mochidoki was serving chewy, mochi-wrapped balls of ice cream in inventive flavors like mango Thai basil, black sesame and pumpkin cheesecake.

This year’s Dessert Goals sold out in a hurry. If you couldn’t snag a ticket this time around, at least now you know it’s totally worth it!

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Getaways | Guerneville, California

img_7650If Napa Valley is the only thing that pops into your mind when you think of California wine destinations, this article is for you. Guerneville, located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, exudes all the charm and culinary sophistication of wine country, minus the pretentious vibes.

Unique and eclectic, Guerneville has something for everyone: for the ocean-lovers, there’s Johnson’s Beach; the adventurous can do a number of activities on the Russian River such as boating, kayaking, rafting, and fishing; hikers have a number of trail options courtesy of the Armstrong Woods State Park; the foodies can munch at numerous locally sourced eateries and cafés; and of course, there are plenty of picturesque vineyards for the wine enthusiasts.
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[big bottom market]
After a drive up to Guerneville you’re going to want to have a bite before your day of exploration. There’s no better place to relax and unwind over artisanal food and drink than at [big bottom market]. The big bottom market’s warm and welcoming atmosphere will have you feeling right at home.

One step in to the teal-framed entrance and you’re surrounded with the smell of its famed biscuits. With wooden communal tables, stools to sit by the window and people-watch, outdoor seating, and a rustic-yet-modern interior, the market is a modern day general store with “lumberjack chic style.”
img_1797The menu offers a mix of gourmet deli sandwiches, salads, and quality bites — all of which use sustainable, locally sourced ingredients. You can’t come here and start off with anything but freshly baked biscuits with options that include butter and jam; mascarpone and honey; cream and berries; gravy; and BBQ pulled pork. Or opt for one of its house-favorite biscuit sandwiches such as the Sea Biscuit with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, capers, and pickled onions or the Ham + Cheddar biscuit with black forest ham, melted cheddar served warm.
img_1799One of the best sandwiches I’ve had is the muffuletta which is packed with salami, coppa, mortadella, ham, provolone, mozzarella, and giardiniera-olive spread with garlic aioli on a toasty ciabatta. The combination of cured meats and the vinegary-pickled flavors of the spread is perfection. For something on the lighter side, the prosciutto + fig sandwich with provolone, fig jam, and arugula pressed on ciabatta is a great choice.

Also on the menu is a variety of salads that include curry chicken with spiced pepitas and a chickpea artichoke option. There is a fantastic selection of specialty meats and cheeses, along with fresh breads, to create any sandwich you fancy.

Those in a hurry can grab box lunches (complete with your choice of artisan sandwich, chips, and a house-made cookie). Don’t forget to check out the shelves of unique items that include everything from jams, chocolates, and honey, to a variety of locally made products, coffee table books, wines, candles, and more.

Porter-Bass Vineyard & Winery
Porter-Bass Vineyard & Winery offers an intimate, laid-back wine tasting session with the husband and wife duo of Luke and Elana Bass. While sipping wines made from their estate biodynamic grapes on the property, Luke and Elana are more than happy to answer any and all questions about the wines.
img_1839Though there’s no tasting room, you’re offered the opportunity to sit under the shade of lovely, deep-rooted tree, to take in the scenery of the surrounding vine-covered hills and billowing redwoods in the distance.
img_7656The three wines they specialize in are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel — my favorite was the Poco a Poco Sauvignon Blanc (Poco a Poco is one of their other labels). An afternoon tasting at this family-ran vineyard makes apparent how much the vines, grapes, and farming of the land is cared about. Guests can expect gracious hospitality, a welcoming environment sans any pretentiousness, interesting conversation, and delicious wines.

Marimar Estate: Tapas & Wine Pairings
Marimar Torres is the daughter of famed Spanish winemaker Miguel Torres. After traveling to California in the mid-70s, she later began planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals. Since her first wines were released in the 90s she has continued to make some of the area’s best wines and has added some Spanish varietals including Tempranillo and Albarino. Today there are 30 acres planted with Chardonnay and 30 with Pinot Noir at the Marimar Estate.
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This winery was built in 1992 to resemble a Catalan farmhouse. Unique to this property is experiencing its Spanish tapas and wine pairings lunch on its unbelievable stone terrace — the terrace faces incredible views of the surrounding redwoods, coastal forest, and an array of wild flowers.img_1851img_1864The wine and tapas pairings included the following sips and bites: 2014 Chardonnay/ Albariño; 2013 ‘La Masìa’ Chardonnay; 2013 ‘Dobles Lìas’ Charfonnay; ‘Mas Cavalls’ Pinot Noir; and the ‘Earthquake Bock’ Pinot Noir; and on the tapas side, zucchini cake Cristina; prawns in a garlic sauce with sweet red peppers; cabbage dumplings stuffed with pork, chorizo, pine nuts, and raisins; and figs stuffed with chocolate and nuts in a chocolate sauce. The authentic recipes came from Marimar Torres’ cookbooks and certainly didn’t disappoint.

Paul Mathew Vineyards
Located in “downtown” Graton is the charming Paul Mathew Vineyards which is known for truly artisan wines by winemaker, Matt Gustafson. His wife Barb Gustafson — who is wonderfully knowledgeable of the wines — manages the tasting room and the business while her husband often is out in the fields carefully selecting and farming the grapes that go into his barrels.
img_1872Treat yourself to a tasting of five wines that include: Bohemian Pinot 2013 with flavors of bright red fruit; Ruxton Pinot 2013 with touches of black berry, cherry and plum; HSB pinot with cherry flavors; TnT pinot with hints of cinnamon and clove; and the Cabernet Franc with floral notes and a touch of bell pepper.

Iron Horse Vineyards
Everyone loves sparkling wines and gorgeous views, right? Located in the heart of Green Valley, Iron Horse Vineyards face stunning views that span from across Sonoma County to Mount St. Helena.
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Think: rolling hills, wild flowers, and over 160 acres of lush vines. Known for some of the best sparkling wines in the world, they pride themselves on premiere vintage quality, of which theirs belongs to the category of “Grower Champagne”.
img_1875img_4241Iron Horse produces 12 different cuvées — all estate bottled—ranging from the Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs, made from 100 percent Chardonnay, to the bright, bold, and very dry Brut Rosé. The Wedding Cuvée (aged three years) is absolutely refreshing and delicious.

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NYC Spotlight | Anisette

anisette
This vibrant dish comes with house-made tortoloni stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta cheese in a carrot Agro dolce sauce. {Credit: Anisette}

This newly opened eatery will fill your longing for rustic French fare and regional wines.

If you want a charming and delicious dining experience, look no further than Anisette, a “country fresh” wine bar, café, and bistro that features innovative French Provencal cuisine.

Located on the corner of Third Avenue and East 19th Street, this lovely spot stands out against the bustling New York City backdrop thanks to its bright blue patio awnings, rustic décor, creamy white accents, and dainty hanging flower pots that adorn the restaurant.

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The owners of La Follia, the sister restaurant to Anisette that will reopen soon, have put together a diverse menu with offerings that include small plates, salads, and market vegetables; charcuterie and fromage boards; as well as rich pastas and heavier entrées. I started my meal with a flakey, buttery, and warm goat cheese tart filled with zucchini tomato and caramelized onion; tuna tartare with fennel, citrus, and avocado; and a creamy, indulgent truffled burrata.

We also received a steamy pot of fresh PEI mussels bathing in a flavorful saffron-tomato broth and a side of herbed French fries. Excellent.

mussels

Though the menus includes entrées such as duck leg with lamb sausage, mushroom, and lentils; steak au poivre, a dry-aged shell steak with spinach and potato purée; and short ribs with summer vegetables, we opted for the carbo-loaded pasta dishes.

I devoured the meaty, decadent pappardelle with lamb ragù, artichokes, and Parmesan, and ate a hefty portion of my friend’s mushroom and ricotta agnolotti, which came covered in a fabulous, slightly sweet, brown butter and sage sauce.

pasta

The wine list, curated by chef, owner, and sommelier Suzanne Letulle Riva, is stacked with regional French wines and refreshing rosés. We paired our courses with rosés that complemented the warm weather and French cuisine.

“The menu is inspired by the many bistros and homes where I have savored some of the most deliciously prepared and beautifully presented dishes,” Riva says. “When people ask me about the menu I tell them… Think olive oil, herbs de Provence, shellfish, saffron, ratatouille, and a great steak au poivre, and there you have my Anisette.”

The restaurant serves dinner seven days a week, 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Next month, the restaurant will begin serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
 

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