NYC Spotlight | 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.


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.


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.


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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NYC Spotlight | Scarpetta

IMG_05717LDV Hospitality’s Scarpetta, offers classic, upscale Italian food, in an unpretentious, elegant, and exceptionally classy way. The restaurant is very stylish and well designed— I particularly am a huge fan of the indoor skylight that allows natural sunlight to pour in to the dinning room.

Normally I don’t go crazy on the bread baskets at restaurants, but Scarpetta’s is in a league of its own. Along with fresh focaccia sprinkled with flakes of sea salt, comes cheesy, buttery Stromboli, one filled with sausage and the other spinach. It even comes with three options for dipping that includes a whipped mascarpone butter.

Appetizers range from refreshing and summery to more indulgent. The raw yellowtail with pickled red onion is a simple dish that highlights the freshness of the fish. The thin slices of yellowtail with a touch of olio di zenzero (a type of ginger oil), melts in your mouth. The tuna ‘susci’ with marinade vegetables and preserved truffle is likewise buttery in texture. The tuna was nicely rolled up with the vegetables giving it a nice crunch.

The beet salad with shaved vegetables, market greens, and ricotta crema, in a light beet vinaigrette, was delicious. Not to mention it was beautifully plated and looked like a work of art. Other starters include the famed, decadent creamy polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms and braised short ribs with a faro risotto.
Scarpetta is particularly known for its incredible handmade pastas. I’m not one to usually order plain spaghetti, but here thespaghetti tomato and basil is said to be impeccable. Scarpetta takes many traditional Italian dishes to a whole new level, while staying true to their authenticity. Using seasonal ingredients in combination with unbeatable in-house pastas make for satisfying plates of complex flavor.

I highly recommend the short rib and bone marrow agnolotti with garlic chip and horseradish. The little pockets of pasta are filled with intensely flavorful meat, topped with fresh Parmesan. The duck and foie gras ravioli with a marsala reduction is equally indulgent. Both dishes were savory and rich, and I’d definitely order each again.

Though not the most carnivorous mains to be ordered, I didn’t miss having a hunk of meat on my plate at all. Other pastas featured are the black tagliolini with a seafood ragout and pancetta; a tagliatelle with braised oxtail and rapini; a zucchini mezzaluna with squash blossom; and the farfalle with vegetables and goat cheese fonduta.

There are also a variety of seafood mains to choose from such as the black cod with caramelized fennel; branzino with clams and a shellfish brodetto; and the halibut with braised Brussels sprouts. For those looking for red meat, Scarpetta offers a veal tenderloin with sweetbreads and a sirloin of beef with fingerling potatoes and truffled spinach on the menu.

For dessert I am a fan of the coconut panna cotta, which comes with a caramelized pineapple and guava ‘soup’ that is tropical, creamy, and perfectly sweet. For the chocolate lovers they feature a flourless valrhona chocolate cake with butterscotch and caramel gelato. Other options include a limoncello semifreddo with pistachio cake and a mascarpone cheese cake with stone fruit and gelato.

If you’re looking for a posh aperitivo spot, Scarpetta has recently debuted daytime hours (3 p.m.- 5 p.m, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for the first time in the restaurant’s history with a weekend aperitivo hour, which you can also enjoy on its al fresco on its patio. Items offered include crudo trios, fried olives stuffed with homemade sausage, and, of course, a list of tasty rosés and cocktails.

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Travel | Must-Try Eateries in North Carolina’s Food Mecca, Raleigh

img_1529On my trip to the capital of North Carolina, I had the awesome experience of going on a guided food tour through the downtown area of Raleigh. If you’re looking for a guide, I highly recommend going on a excursion with  Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours. Here’s a rundown of the eateries I had the opportunity to try out during my tour and overall trip, each being distinctively delicious.

Raleigh is home to award-winning restaurants, creative chefs, breweries, local hotspots, as well as restaurants steeped in history. I was surprised to learn, after chatting with several Raleigh entrepreneurs (who also tend to be chefs and owners themselves), that each of them not only wants success for themselves and their businesses, but also for the community.

Each of the spots I visited utilized local ingredients from their next-door neighbors. The produce, dairy, and more come from local outposts, and moreover, each restaurant will openly boast about how awesome their fellow chicken farmer or tomato grower is.

Centro is a lively and welcoming Mexican restaurant. Centro looks like a colorful work of art. Framed portraits, paintings, intricately designed masks, and vibrant creations cover the already bright walls. There are many Mother Mary, crosses, and Jesus depictions adorning the restaurant, as well as hanging, glowing lanterns and rainbow papel picados.

img_1516The food is authentic Mexican and Latin American cuisine; the menu ranges from enchiladas and tamales to chilaquiles and tostadas, and, of course, craft margaritas, mezcals, and cocktails.

Owner and chef Angela Salamanca decided to whip us up a special item for us to try: arepas with chicken salad and a side of plantain black beans. The warm, buttery arepa was filled with a fresh, flavorful chicken salad ― which couldn’t be more different from the mayonnaise-laden goop sold in many grocery stores.
img_1521Originating from Colombia, Salamanca explained that she chose to serve us arepas in order to highlight how each region and state has its own version of the cornmeal bread. Each interpretation of what makes an arepa authentically “good” is reflective of the area’s heritage and culture.

Chef Sean Fowler’s classy, spacious Southern bistro offers local, fresh and fabulous cuisine. While continuing to use local purveyors for its sourced ingredients, Mandolin also has a lovely culinary garden on site.
img_1501img_1500I left Mandolin stuffed and beyond happy with my brunch. The Mandolin Skillet with stone ground grits, house smoked bacon, black-eyed peas, fried eggs, ranchero sauce and crème fraiche is creamy, rich and decadent. I chose to balance it out with a bowl of beautiful fresh fruit and orange juice. And coffee, of course. Definitely looking forward to returning and trying out other standouts on the flavorful menu, like the Chicken & Waffles with braised greens, sautéed mushrooms, bacon–mushroom emulsion and truffle honey.

Gravy is a family-friendly Italian-American eatery that specializes in quality, locally sourced fare. What’s gravy? According to the pasta experts here, “gravy” is “the pasta sauce that their [Italian-Americans] mothers and grandmothers cooked fresh every night.” This restaurant offers crowd-pleasing classics such as house-made gnocchi with mushrooms and a leek cream sauce; tagliatelle a la Bolognese with local beef and pancetta Bolognese and house-made ricotta; as well as authentic, cheesy, layered lasagna.img_1526

Chef Justin Bartolet treated us to an off-the-menu creation: espelette mezzaluna, moon-shaped pasta filled with smoked ham and served with poblano pepper sauce and marinated tomatoes. We also enjoyed a wine pairing that complemented the salty, smokiness of the pasta. Fun fact: Gravy butchers its own whole-hog meat in the kitchen and uses each hog’s meat entirely — as in nothing goes to waste — in dishes that range from traditional pasta sauces to head cheese and more.

Pharmacy Café
For dessert, get a sundae at the one-of-a-kind Pharmacy Café — an eatery that is actually a part of the Pharmacy Street Café. The Pharmacy Café is a modern take on an old-school pharmacy lunch counter set in an historic building from 1910. This Raleigh favorite offers local beer, wine, breakfast, lunch and quick bites, and homemade ice cream, fizzes and milkshakes.
img_1418I went with the Sweet & Shine: sweet potato ice cream laced with moon-shine syrup topped with candied pecans, white chocolate and an orange-fig sauce. It was everything I dreamed it would be. And more.

The Roast Grill (Hot Weiners)
This was a very special ― and unexpected ― stop on my culinary adventure in Raleigh. The Roast Grill has been in business since 1940, strictly selling hot dogs and glass-bottle Cokes only (plus its famed authentic Greek desserts). This hot dog eatery has been run with the same dedication and love by the same family since it first opened.

The only things that are allowed to go on these dogs are The Roast Grill’s famous chili, mustard, slaw, and onions ― ketchup is forbidden. Why? Founder Mary Charles and host George Poniros will tell you that “it interferes with the chili!”
img_1539img_1534This nostalgic spot has been visited by everyone from Elvis Presley to Man Vs. Food’s Adam Richman. “You won’t find generic ball-park dogs here,” said the famous eating machine. “At the Roast Grill, every frank is 90% beef with just a bit of lean pork flavor, uniquely cooked to a crisp black char on their 70 year old original grill.”

Lucettegrace is a lovely patisserie that offers French-inspired savory and sweet pastries, lunch items, and indulgent desserts. This welcoming downtown spot has a bright, industrial design that’s accented with bright yellow stools, chairs, and freshly picked flowers.
img_1562Pastry chef/owner Daniel Benjamin features outrageously fabulous treats such as the candy bar cake (almond cake with milk chocolate praline crunch, and a dark chocolate hazelnut mousse); the escazu PB pretzel cake (escazu dark chocolate mousee, caramel cremeux, and a peanut butter crunch — I tried this, but a brownie version with coffee mousse and gold flakes); and a blueberries + cream vanilla cheesecake with a blueberry mousse, pistachio cake, almond cake, and a blueberry compote.

Savory items are equally tasty and inventive, and include items like bacon jam and cheese Danish and buttermilk scones filled with pistachios, figs, and cardamom. I also had the pleasure of tasting one of the fresh peach ice cream macaroon sandwiches, which was heavenly.

Bittersweet is an excellent spot for people who are into cocktails, desserts, and coffee (that’s everyone, right?). This charming eatery/ lounge has a slightly retro feel and is beautifully designed with a classic bar, back wall filled with all sorts of colorful spirit bottles — especially gin ― cocktail glasses, espresso-makers, coffee cups, and barista equipment. Of course, it also has freshly baked goods lining the countertop.

Owner and baker Kim Hammer got her start baking for friends, and then one day it became clear that there was a demand for her goodies. Hammer began commercially baking straight from her kitchen and began selling her home-baked goods throughout the Triangle-area, including at the famed Carrboro Farmers Market.
img_1580From there she made her passion into a full-time job by opening a “terribly wonderful dessert, coffee and cocktail lounge” that offers all seasonal treats and complex, innovative flavor combinations. Also noteworthy ― she has some of the most badass tattoos I’ve ever seen. My favorite? Her dagger-through-the-heart tattoo with one, wonderful word: butter.

Death and Taxes
If you’re looking for a memorable dinner experience, get yourself a seat at the newest restaurant in Ashley Christensen’s Raleigh-Durham empire, Death and Taxes. While she maintains her other dining establishments which include Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Poole’s Diner, and Joule Coffee & Table, Death and Taxes is absolutely fantasic, having been named one of America’s Best New Restaurants by bon appètit.
img_1485img_1488img_1490This Southern brasserie is distinct in that the majority of its menu features wood-fired cooking. Sit at the counter where you can watch the talented chefs in the busy kitchen work their magic. With a menu divided in to three sections — of the sea, on the land and of the land — it’s pretty tough to decide what inventive dishes to order. I absolutely fell in love with the ember-killed salad with country ham vinaigrette. For my main, I ordered the incredibly succulent The Pig with charred cabbage and caraway, topped with chicharrones. Dessert was sweet summer on a plate: tres leches cake, fresh peaches, soft cream and malted milk.

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NYC Spotlight | Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse

This churrascaria, or steakhouse, has 12 different styles and cuts of meat to choose from.

Fogo de Chão has Everything You Need to Enjoy a Traditional Brazilian Dining Experience!

Whether you’re one of the lucky few who are attending the Olympics this summer or simply love Brazilian food and culture (or perhaps both), you’re probably familiar with Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse (churrascaria) that’s been around since 1979. If you’re not, Fogo de Chão has been fire-roasting meats with the traditional cooking technique of churrasco for more than 36 years, and it is known as the place to go for endless amounts of slowly grilled meats that are carved table-side by trained gaucho chefs.

This dining experience is basically a carnivore’s dream: the servers circulate with 12 different cuts of steak, lamb, pork, and chicken, ready to come to fill your plate with the meats of your choice. Favorites include the picanha (signature sirloin), filet mignon, ribeye, fraldinha (Brazilian sirloin), cordeiro (lamb), costela (beef ribs), and more.

While some have a strategy coming into the Brazilian Steakhouse — save all the room in your stomach for meat — most start off the feast with the Market Table and Feijoada Bar. The table is packed with all-you-can-eat salads, cheeses and charcuterie, fruits and vegetables, smoked salmons, and more. The bar features dishes that include feijoada (a traditional black bean stew made with sausage and served with rice, fresh orange, and farofa, baked yuca flour with bacon) and a variety of soups.

What always gets me stuffed are the sharable sides. I kid you not when I say I could easily eat a dozen or more of the warm, soft, chewy, cheesy bread rolls (pão de queijo) that the servers constantly deliver to your table. They are addictive. In addition, they offer caramelized bananas and fried polenta.

Obviously, save room for dessert. With options like South American flan, papaya cream (papaya blended with vanilla ice cream), and molten chocolate cake, you’re going to be missing out if you don’t at least have a bite of one of these indulgent sweets.

Everyone loves brunch, especially New Yorkers, so it makes total sense that this steakhouse has launched Sunday brunch. Since I’m fortunate enough to have eaten at Fogo de Chão for brunch and dinner (different days, of course), I can say from experience that no matter what meal you’re there for, you will leave full.

The brunch offers Brazilian-inspired breakfast dishes such as pão de queijo egg bake with cheese bread, baked with eggs, asparagus, broccoli, and Swiss cheese; braised beef rib hash with hashed potatoes, peppers, and onions; and bolo de fuba, a house-made sweet cornmeal cake served with whipped caramelized banana crème. Not to mention all the meat selections offered for dinner also circulate at brunch.

Fogo de Chão has also recently taken it upon itself to educate diners on all things Brazilian with an interactive, multi-faceted online guide. The guide includes information on Brazilian etiquette, grilling tips, regional cuisines, and recipes for the South American country’s top dishes and beverages.

“For those aiming to travel to Brazil, learn more about Brazil or just looking to bring a small taste of Brazil into their own homes, ‘The Fogo Guide to Brazilian Cuisine’taps into our deep roots and traditional South American heritage to create an authentic culinary experience, both on- and offline,” said Larry Johnson, chief executive officer of Fogo de Chão. “We hope our Guide will help to introduce a few new phrases, new insights and new flavors of an incredibly beautiful, diverse culture to a global audience of travelers, explorers and connoisseurs.”

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NYC Spotlight | Row House

This Kale & Quinoa Salad could be the best salad I’ve ever had.

What do you most associate with Harlem, the Upper West Side’s culturally diverse and historically rich neighborhood? If one of the things on the top of the list isn’t dining, then you’re doing something wrong.

Harlem is rapidly becoming the trendy, go-to area for an extensive variety of cuisines. Restaurants, speak-easies, cocktail bars, and more are continually popping up – so much so that it now has its own bonafide restaurant row. Where else can you get Senegalese, Somalian, Soul Food, or world-class cookies (Levain Bakery, anyone?) all in the same place?

If you’re looking for a fun, classy spot to share a whole bunch of delicious things with your friends,you need to try out the Row House. With both vintage and contemporary design elements, the atmosphere is lively, bright, and stylish. The cuisine is New American (always a tough one to pin down), and offers a large selection of (mostly) small plates meant to be shared. Tapas style almost.

Lobster Rolls

The cocktails are on-point. Definitely try the Funky Strong, a beet-infused vodka with ginger, mint, and lime, garnished with a vodka-soaked beet slice. It’s colorful and surprisingly excellent. Don’t let the beets intimidate you!

The menu is broken up into four sections: harvest, sea, land, and large plates. Chef Andrew Welch offers innovative takes on American classics. For example, deviled eggs are offered in two ways, neither of which are traditional: chicken liver mousse, pickled shallots, candied mustard seeds, and cilantro; and the “summer” deviled eggs with vibrant, beet brined eggs.

I don’t usually opt for salads, so when I say the kale and quinoa salad is fantastic, you can take my word for it. First off, it’s gorgeous. With purple and golden beets, goat cheese, and fennel, topped with a crispy squash blossom, it was a work of art. Throw in crunchy prosciutto and hazelnuts and –  boom! – perfection.

Shrimp & Grits

From the sea selection, we ordered the shrimp and grits with creamy, cheesy polenta, jalapeño, and satisfying bits of salty chorizo; New England lobster roll sliders with the classic Old Bay mayo; and the fish tacos, which came with a lovely radish, jicama-jalapeño slaw. The seafood was fresh, and the combinations of flavor utilized in each plate was outstanding. Other options included the grilled Spanish octopus with eggplant and summer squash and lobster croquettes with a savory risotto.

For the land selection, I insisted we get the carbonara dumplings. With parmesan cream on the inside, and crisp prosciutto on top, they were bites of pure indulgence. I’d like to point out that The Row House really does prosciutto right – it complements the flavors of the dishes so well. Other dishes include lollipop chicken drumsticks with an Asian soy sesame glaze and the steak tartare with crispy capers and homemade potato chips.

The large plates range from braised short ribs with black truffle and a five-spice glaze; lamb chops; and a traditional New York Strip with veal jus; to king salmon with beets and leek; truffle grilled cheese with bacon; and branzino with a crystalized ginger broth.

Desserts here are creative  –  the molten white chocolate cake comes warm, filled with a white chocolate ganache, and garnished with fresh grapefruit, tangerines, and raspberries. We also couldn’t help but get the red velvet ice cream sandwiches: red velvet cookies stuffed with cream cheese ice cream and rolled in chocolate. No regrets.

Lastly, rumor has it that there’s a lower level speak-easy named Under Bar… Can someone inquire about this and get back to me with the details?

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Asian Fusion, Craft Beer and Cocktails, and Skyline Views at Brooklyn’s Kimoto Rooftop

For a change from the boring, played-out bar scene, visit the top the Aloft and Sheraton hotels

Here’s a new rooftop to add to your list: Kimoto Rooftop in Brooklyn. Most Manhattanites spend all day (and sometimes night) working in their borough’s downtown area. So why stay there any longer than you have to when you’re free?

Escape the Manhattan bubble and hop on over to Brooklyn where this rooftop and lounge offers just as cool of a nightlife/after-work scene as any other place in the city.

The views are naturally gorgeous. The vibe is chic, trendy, and modern. The food is way better than your average, overpriced bar bites, and the menu boasts a nice selection of Asian-inspired food, innovative cocktails, and craft beers.

Lesser-seen beers offered included the Yo-Ho Sorry Yuzu Salt Ale, a light, Japan ale brewed with fresh yuzu juice and peel; and the Ginga Ninja, a tropical red IPA ale brewed with six pounds of ginger in each batch. These are two fruitier beers that even myself — a non-beer drinker (for the most part) — would enjoy.

My favorite cocktails were the sweet, refreshing, and effervescent ones. If you’re like me, you’ll be a fan of the No Sleep Till, with Aperol, lychee, sparkling wine, lemon, and mint; the Mekong Mule, with Kaffir lime-infused Absolut, sake, jasmine, mint, lime, and ginger beer; as well as the Lemongrass Vietnamese, with black pepper, Bombay Sapphire East, Mizu Shochu, and raspberry.

Being of half-Asian descent, I’m always a huge fan of the fusions. Kimoto Rooftop’s Asian-inspired menu didn’t disappoint. The appetizer selection is diverse and features items such as the beef Bulgogi tacos, with homemade kimchi slaw, Asian pear, and toasted sesame; Sriracha buffalo, garlic soy, or gochujang barbecue wings; tuna tartare with a yuzu guacamole, pickled jalapeño, and a spicy aïoli; and the crunchy tempura basket, that comes with shrimp, a whole calamari skewer, a potato croquette, tonkatsu, and wasabi mayo.

If you’re a bit hungrier, I recommend the Kobe beef burger (yum!) which is served with a spicy/sweet kimchi slaw, gochujang barbecue, white truffle oil, and sprouts, or the crispy, juicy pork cutlet with tonkatsu, kewpie mayo, and red cabbage slaw.

This menu, by chef Brian Tsao of Manhattan’s Mira Sushi & Izakaya, is flavorful, eclectic, and an excellent merging of traditional American and Asian cuisines. Plus, with the live DJ, bumping music, and easy-to-find location, it’s a great place to start or end the night.

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NYC Spotlight | Bottle & Bine

Chicken Liver Mousse & Rabbit Terrine

“New American” cuisine is always difficult to define. What is it, really? According to the midtown restaurant Bottle & Bine, it means reimagined American cooking with global twists. Whatever it is exactly, head chef Angie Berry has nailed it. With a career that’s been filled with impressive stretches at some of the top restaurants around, including New York City’s Gotham Bar & Grill, Del Posto, and Asiate in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, it’s not surprising.

Chef Berry presents her dishes in a beautiful, stylistic fashion that does the complexity and taste of the food justice. Starters are light and refreshing, with seafood being the common denominator. Items featured include scallop sashimi with cauliflower and green apple; razor clams with seaweed pesto and lime; market oysters; local tuna with nori mustard and mushrooms; and the unique dish, which I tried: a raw oyster presented on a bed of ice and seaweed stems, and finished off with a lime green botanical elderflower ice.

Raw Oyster with Elderberry Ice

Second courses are equally adventurous and creative. I never thought I would enjoy chicken liver mousse, but pair it with strawberry butter, biscuit stuffing, and pickled strawberries and there you have it: a dish that looks like art and tastes like luxury.

Another fantastic dish, which is also one of chef Berry’s favorites, is “shellfish and stems.” It sounds simple, but has layers of flavor thanks to a mix of fregola, stems from Swiss chard and various herbs (including parsley and tarragon), and a variety of shellfish, like squid and clam. It’s topped with a seared scallop and a citrus sabayon.

Other stand-outs were rabbit terrine with rhubarb, foie gras, crispy prosciutto, and, for our cheese course, a selection of artisanal cheeses with nettle purée, pickled green strawberries, and delightful little russet potatoes, slightly undercooked, which gave the cheese some texture.

Mains range from meaty plates such as the Waygu hangar steak with smoked sunchoke, coffee, and hon shimeji mushrooms or braised short ribs with crispy shallots and root vegetables to fish like Atlantic halibut with butternut squash, buckwheat, and brown butter or a pan-seared sea trout with caramelized white asparagus and trout roe.

We were served the Long Island duck, which came as a thick, tender cut of duck which had been seared to a buttery, rich crispness. The savory seasoned duck matched nicely with the sweet braised blueberry sauce. It also with a creamy potato rosti and violet.

The restaurant is trendy, upscale, and yet comfortable. It’s a bi-level restaurant, decorated with metallic accents, navy upholstery, rustic exposed brick walls, and wooden paneling.

The restaurant’s sommelier is knowledgeable about what to pair with each dish. From the 16 craft beer lines that rotate daily to the extensive list of reds, whites, and bubbly, there are plenty of beverages to choose from — not to mention a selection of fantastic cocktails, both alcoholic and not. The Like a Virgin, with rhubarb, pineapple, lemon, and tonic, was amazing though booze-free. That said, I also was a fan of the Izzy & Jane, with mezcal, Cointreau, and jalapeño-rosemary agave.
Lastly, though it should go without saying: get dessert. The banana pudding is bomb, featuring a cardamom caramel, banana brulee, and a crunchy meringue. If you aren’t into bananas, you can’t go wrong with the warm chocolate cake with sea salt and caramel ice cream, either.

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Events | Thrillist’s Best Day of Your Life 2016

IMG_9553On the longest day of the year, June 18th, Thrillist threw its Best Day of Your Life event in none other than Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Not just a bar crawl or food crawl, but rather an everything crawl, we had only 4 hours to hit up 12 locations and devour a ridiculous amount of food & cocktails. No time was to be wasted, unless we were taking our time to get a little wasted (just kidding!). In other words, our mission was to do it all. Obviously.

Stop 1: Rough Trade — a huge independent music store based in England. Of course, the Williamsburg location is the only one in the U.S., and is home to thousands of vinyl records and CDs, plus listening stations. Here we checked in, took a bunch of pictures, and got our passes!
Stop 2: The Burger Guru — a meat patty heaven. What we ate: short rib sliders and black-and-white milkshakes. I could have easily had three of each.

Stop 3: Shelter — a pizza & empanada restaurant/ Americana-filled lodge, with an emphasis on Argentina/Italian food. What we ate: Empanadas and Josh Cellars wine pairings.

Stop 4: The Gibson Brooklyn — a chill whiskey and craft beer bar featuring over 100 types of whiskey. What we ate: whole roasted pig BBQ and bourbon sweet teas. Yes, they roasted an entire pig before our eyes! We enjoyed the tender BBQ al fresco on their adorable garden backyard.
IMG_9570Stop 5: Rosarito Fish Shack — a Latin influenced seafood and tequila spot with live mariachis and open-air windows. What we ate: white fish ceviche and signature Rosarito margaritas.

Stop 6: Kent Ale House — a craft beer, sports bar-ish place that offered a stage to anyone wanting to live our their rock star dreams. Sadly, I didn’t perform. What we ate: truffle bacon popcorn and Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Stop 7: Heatonist — a trendy hot sauce shop with over 150 rare and unique hot sauces. Drink: custom Bloody Marys!

Stop 8: Falcon Laundry Bar & Restaurant — an indoor/ outdoor restaurant in a former steel fabrication mill featuring gold fish racing! What we ate: beef-and-tomato-jam sandwiches and jalapeño-spiked tequila cocktails.

Stop 9: Crif Dogs — a small, but crackin’, retro hot dog shop! What we ate: signature Crif Dog and tater tots.

Stop 10: The Meatball Shop — a meatball paradise offering hella types of meatballs & sauces. What we ate: meatballs (duh) and red sauce, served over polenta.

Stop 11: Schmackary’s — one of the best cookie places in the world. What: the ultimate custom cookie station. Basically my dream come true. My creation? A funfetti cookie coated with a thick layer of vanilla and marshmallow frosting, doused in sprinkles, and topped with fruity pebbles (for texture of course.).

Stop 12: Output — a super hipster Brooklyn club with a gorgeous rooftop decorated with lights and leafy vines, crowed with cooling looking people. What we ate: fresh sliced fruit and refreshing Sanpellegrino cocktails. This was a fantastic spot overlooking Manhattan to end the crazy day.

IMG_9604Other awesome things that happened included getting matching (fake) tattoos with Nick, having hot, fresh pizza literally bike-driven to my hands, massages, watching a random pro-skateboarder do his thing on an indoor half-pipe, and being serenaded by mariachis. Oh, there was also a terrifying clown roaming around. I could have gone without that one.

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NYC Spotlight | What’s New This Summer at Chelsea Market?

Cold items from Mokbar include the soybean kong ramen, a soybean and black sesame broth with noodles. {Mokbar}

Unsure where to eat? Don’t know what you want to eat? Do you love ramen, tacos, pad thai, or barbecue? Craving ice cream? Doughnuts? Well Chelsea Market has the answer all those questions for you! With a huge variety of delicious foods, and both sit-down and to-go eateries available, this upscale, urban food hall has everything you need to be satisfied.

Named after one of Tel Aviv’s most iconic streets, Dizengoff, has arrived in Chelsea Market. Modeled on the hummus stalls (hummusiyas) found in Israel, this eatery offers fresh hummus, which can be topped with an assortment of seasonal garnishes like hot spiced lamb with pine nuts or avocado with harissa. The hummus is accompanied by hearth-baked pita, chopped salad, and Israeli pickles. To cool down, also available is lemonnana, an Israeli-style frozen mint lemonade, local craft beer, and Israeli wines by the glass.IMG_8952Bar Truman
Bar Truman uses locally sourced products in classic, yet gourmet American recipes. By taking simple recipes using high quality ingredients, Bar Truman is taking cravings to a whole new level. Examples of fare include house-made sauces and pickles; perfectly grilled burgers; griddled peanut butter and jelly; crispy fried chicken; and the all-American, county fair corn dog.

Berlin Currywurst
Berlin Currywurst is probably as close to traditional currywurst corner stands in Berlin as you’ll find here in the city. These authentic sausages are offered with different flavors and heat levels, and are joined only by hand-cut fries on the menu.

Chelsea Wine Vault
Chelsea Wine Vault’s is hosting unique weekly wine events and tastings, including rosé riot, summer cocktails, and the Champagne and oyster pairing party, which is a joint collaboration with Market neighbor “The Lobster Place.”

Who doesn’t love ramen? Just because it’s hot out, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy noodle awesomeness. Mokbar has recently debuted its spring and summer cold ramen menu for a warm-weather alternative to the traditional ramen.

Seed + Mill
While not entirely new, I just discovered Seed + Mill and I’m in love. I’ve never been big on halva, but holy moly — it’s amazingly good! Seed + Mill makes their sweet halva by mixing tahini (sesame butter) with sugar at a high temperature and then hand stirring through a variety of both traditional flavors like marble, pistachio or rose oil, in addition to more unique flavor combinations like lemon & white chocolate, lemongrass, lavender, cardamom, Nutella & hazelnuts, and sea salt dark chocolate. It’s nutty, sweet (without being too much,) and has a great texture.

Indie Fresh
Indie Fresh will soon be a go-to at the Market and just in time to get into spring/summer shape with healthy, protein-packed smoothies, signature juices, and soups.

Ninth Street Espresso
Ninth Street Espresso, “the city’s first quality-driven, specialty coffee bar,” has opened a coffee roasting facility at Chelsea Market.IMG_8938P.S. Chelsea Market’s Latest Cookbook ― Chelsea Market Makers: Recipes, Tips, and Techniques from the Artisans of New York’s Premier Food Hall ― has been released. So for all you chefs and aspiring Marthas and Oprahs, bring the artisanal goods and crafting experts of Chelsea Market to your home.

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NYC Spotlight | The Roof at Park South

PSHRoof 1847
Skyline views, innovative cocktails, and tasty bites above the commotion of the city streets. {The Roof at Park South}
One thing I love ― and will absolutely miss whenever I decide to move back to California ― is New York City’s gorgeous rooftop bar scene. There’s something glamorous and exhilarating about literally being above all the stress, odd smells, annoyances, and, at times, the plain gross reality of city living. Warm breezes, insanely picturesque views, killer cocktails, and bites ― honestly, what can top that essential summertime New York City experience?

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