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2014 Time Out New York Food & Drink Awards

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 01:03 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

It was another exciting year for the New York City dining scene, with new spots boasting everything from amped-up Asian to seductive Spanish to reimagined Italian. And last night, Time Out New York held their annual industry awards to honor the very best new restaurants, bars and chefs.

Taking over Marquee nightclub, the 2014 Food & Drink Awards presented by Stella Artois paid tribute to the city’s culinary finest in a grand celebration attended by top toques, restauranteurs, mixologists and industry insiders. Guests sampled signature dishes from nominated spots, including Toro, Pearl & Ash, Betony, Bunker and Dominique Ansel Bakery, and sipped craft cocktails created by Golden Cadillac, Betony, Attaboy and The Long Island Bar.

TONY readers voted for their faves to determine ten winners in the Readers’ Choice categories—top honors included Best New Restaurant (Carbone), Chef of the Year (Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi), Best New Sushi (Sushi Nakazawa), Best New Cocktail Bar (The Dead Rabbit), Best New Southeast Asian (Uncle Boon’s) and Best Brand Extension (Lafayette). Additionally, ten Critics’ Picks were presented, in aptly named categories ranging from the Dirty Disco Award (Golden Cadillac) and the “Soy, Vey!” Award (Ivan Ramen) to the Global 180 Award (Mission Cantina) and the Mad Scientist Cooks At Home Award (Alder). All twenty coveted awards were handed out during the event and the full list of this year’s winners can be found here.

Many congrats to all the talented 2014 winners and nominees!

Related: My Time Out New York Food & Drink Awards coverage from 20132012 2011. Images courtesy of Time Out New York.

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The Daily Meal: Funniest Jimmy Fallon Food Moments

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 05:02 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

Nobody puts the funny into food better than Jimmy Fallon. Back in March 2011, The Daily Meal crowned him “Late Night’s Culinary King,” and since then, the comedian continues to up the epicurean ante.


During his Late Night career, the hilarious host has invited countless culinarians and industry celebs to cook, mix cocktails, and promote their latest projects on his show. From whipping up dishes with culinary heavy hitters including Mario Batali, Giada de Laurentiis, and Bobby Flay; to hosting fierce Fried Chicken Battles, Martini Races, and Burger Cook-Offs, the funnyman has delivered highly-entertaining food moments to viewers, week after week.

My latest piece on The Daily Meal honors Jimmy’s Late Night reign with a collection of 20 culinary clips. Check out Fallon’s funniest food-focused moments here.

Image courtesy of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

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Food & Wine: The World’s Best Tea Shops

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 11:02 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

Tea drinking is a centuries-old practice with a rich history steeped in tradition. And fine purveyors across the world are enhancing the experience by offering tasting salons within their retail shops.

bellocq brooklyn
From a pretty Parisian parlor, to an ancient Shanghai landmark, to a charming atelier in Brooklyn — check out my slideshow on Food & Wine featuring tea company boutiques that master the celebration of this ancient art.

Image: Bellocq Tea Atelier

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Food Lover’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 10:02 AM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

The best way to your Valentine’s heart may not be through fancy gifts or flowers… but through their stomach. Sharing an indulgent, edible gift with the person you love can be the most utterly romantic experience. Here, some of my favorite food finds to set hearts aflutter and make that special someone swoon.

Photo Credit - Moises De Pena
Macaron Magnifique French Macarons
In August 2012, celebrity stylist Lauren Rae Levy and her father Marvin established their Parisian macaron company, Macaron Magnifique. Handmade and completely gluten-free, these delicate French confections come in scrumptious flavors including raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, and cheesecake. Customize a special box of the sweets (available in various sizes/prices) to make your Valentine fall in love at first bite. Ooh la la! MacaronMagnifique.com


petits fours
William Greenberg Petits Fours
This darling Upper East Side bakery features a divine assortment of desserts and speciality sweets for every occasion. A Valentine’s Day exclusive from owner Carol Becker, these oh-so pretty Petits Fours feature layers of fluffy sponge cake and fresh jam enrobed in frosting and hand decorated with delicate flower adornments. Available in large ($6) or small sizes ($3.50; $42 / box of 12), these beautifully tempting treats are sure to delight your sweetheart. WMGreenbergDesserts.com


mast bros skull
Mast Brothers Artisan Chocolate Bars
At their artisanal chocolate factory in Brooklyn, brothers Rick and Michael Mast churn out small batch bars made with cocoa beans sourced from farms around the world—including Madagascar, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Wrapped in beautifully patterned, imported Italian paper, these handcrafted confections ($8 each) boast sophisticated, high-quality ingredients like Maine sea salt, Crown maple syrup, and Stumptown coffee. MastBrothers.com


murray's gift of the mongers
Murray’s Cheese Gift of the Mongers
If your significant other prefers savory to sweet, then feast your eyes on the ultimate cheese and charcuterie collection ($148) curated by Murray’s mongers. Shipped in a signature Murray’s Cheese crate, this bountiful assortment of gourmet delicacies includes Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole, Colston Bassett Stilton, La Quercia Prosciutto, Cave Aged Pyrénées Brebis, Creminelli Tartufo Salami, and Harvest Song Walnut Preserves. MurraysCheese.com


champagne truffles
Jacques Torres Champagne Truffles
Champagne and chocolate. An indulgent culinary combination that Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres, showcases in his beloved bubbly truffles. Inside the signature orange gift box, your Valentine will discover cute, cork-shaped candies made from mouth-watering milk chocolate, fresh cream, and real Taittinger Brut La Française Champagne. Cheers to that! MrChocolate.com


mixers
KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer
Valentine’s Day is all about love. And no other appliance has made me fall head over heels like my red KitchenAid® stand mixer. The stylish, high-performance beauty makes whipping, kneading, and blending ingredients a breeze. In striking colors like Candy Apply Red, Raspberry Ice, and Komen Pink, this dream machine (available in various sizes/prices) is the perfect “I love you” gift for home cooks of all skill levels. KitchenAid.com


eataly gift
Eataly Ultimate Italy Gift Box
Manhattan’s massive Italian food emporium offers a selection of premium gift boxes packed with gourmet goodies and signature products. A serious splurge to spoil the Italian food lover in your life ($498), this exceptional collection of rare and authentic imports includes white truffle purée, extra-aged balsamic, La Valletta saffron threads, anchovy colatura, and gianduja candies from Torino. Eataly.com


prestat heart box truffles
Prestat Fine Artisan Truffles
One of the top chocolate shops in the world, this London import epitomizes sophistication in both flavor and presentation. The exquisite heart-shaped gift box (available in various sizes/prices) presents distinctive dark, milk, and white chocolate artisan truffles in an array of fine flavors, including classic rose and violet crème. If these decadent delights are good enough for Her Majesty (the Queen of England’s favorite chocolate!), then your princess will surely approve. Prestat.co.uk

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves! XOXO


Images courtesy of Macaron Magnifique, Mast Brothers, Murray’s Cheese, Jacques Torres, Eataly, KitchenAid USA & Prestat

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NYC Chocolate Week 2014: How Sweet It Is!

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 05:01 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the Big Apple is celebrating this romantic time of year by showing off its sweet side. Created in 2011, NYC Chocolate Week is the first event in New York City entirely dedicated to the art of preparing chocolate. During this ten-day culinary showcase, dozens of participating restaurants and their chefs will highlight chocolate’s irresistible qualities through exclusive food and wine pairings and specialty desserts.

chocolate week
From February 4-13, chocolate lovers have the opportunity to indulge their sweet tooth at romantic spots including Café NoirLa Bergamote Bistro, Artisanal, Ayza West Village and L’Atelier du Chocolat. Details vary by location, but many offer complimentary confections and decadent dessert samplings along with your meal.

Need a little more temptation? By attending a NYC Chocolate Week event, you’ll also be supporting official charity partner Action Against Hunger in the fight against malnutrition worldwide. Giving back never sounded so sweet.

For more info and a full list of participating restaurants, visit ChocolateWeekNYC.com.

Image courtesy of AyzaNYC.com

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A Clean Plates Review: Kaia Wine Bar

Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 02:12 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

With a multitude of restaurants at our fingertips, New Yorkers are often asked, “What type of food are you in the mood for?” While South African may not be a common response, Kaia Wine Bar might just ingrain this cuisine into your arsenal of go-tos. This darling Upper East Side restaurant offers seasonal South African-inspired small plates in a rustic, 50-seat setting.

kaia

Kaia, which means “home” in Zulu, is a candlelit neighborhood gem that’s perfect for a romantic date night or fun evening out with friends. Focused solely on authentic South African flavors, chef Ivan Giani’s eclectic menu features biodynamic and grass-fed meats, organic produce, local cheeses and a sustainable fish program. Beverages include South African and New World wines, along with a selection of American craft beers.

A starter of wild boar sliders topped with smoked tart cherry compote set the tone for an intensely flavorful meal. Along a narrow plate, creamy scoops of ostrich tartare alternated with watermelon radish slices and toast rounds over white chocolate mustard; the myriad of tastes and textures really impressed us when assembled together. Chilled tilefish ceviche mingled with diced kiwi fruit, oranges, red peppers and lime juice for a citrusy and refreshing warm weather dish, best enjoyed when spooned onto the accompanying crisped bread for added texture. Other meal highlights include the vibrant “Jacob’s Nootjes” scallops atop sweet corn purée peppered with mango relish, and the savory “Spear and Shield” dish: bacon-wrapped asparagus resting on portobello mushrooms smothered in cheddar cheese and a rich green peppercorn sauce.

Will I be craving South African cuisine on a regular basis now? Absolutely. The delicious, high quality cuisine and cozy, unpretentious atmosphere make me want to call Kaia my new home away from home on the UES.
 
cleanplates2014My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2014 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of Zanda.com.

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Think Outside The Bomb: Jägermeister Revisited

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 08:12 AM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

cocktailJägermeister. A spirit synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, college kids, shot machines and the notorious Jäger Bomb. But there’s much more to this complex, century-old herbal liqueur than you may realize. Jäger is having somewhat of a “second evolution” and has been popping up on both cocktail and food menus across the country.

“We’re seeing more placements on cordial listings in higher tier restaurants, as well as cocktails coming out from top bartenders nationally,” shares Todd Richman, Corporate Mixologist for Sidney Frank, the US importer of Jägermeister (and the 2013 Tales of the Cocktail Best American Brand Ambassador winner). “Jägermeister is distilled with 56 different herbs, roots, flowers and fruits. And when you mix it with something else containing one of those ingredients, it completely changes the flavor profile.”

Whether used as a base or a modifying spirit, Jäger has become a go-to among many of the country’s top bartenders. Sean Hoard of Portland, Oregon’s Teardrop Lounge cites that “the incredibly balanced flavor profile” makes Jägermeister “a particularly fun product to work with.” While Sean Kenyon, owner of Williams and Graham in Denver, Colorado, says “Jägermeister is a truly versatile liqueur; excellent on its own, but it’s true beauty is in cocktail applications. As a complementary ingredient, it adds complexity, aromatics and subtle sweetness to cocktails.”

Screen shot 2014-01-27 at 9.02.38 AM
More and more frequently, prominent chefs have been dabbling with Jäger’s flavor complexity and versatility in cooking. Celebrity chef Chris Santos recently created an entire five-course menu of Jäger-infused grilled BBQ fare at his NYC hotspot Beauty & Essex, and debuted an exclusive dinner featuring six spirited courses paired with specialty cocktails during last week’s Tales of The Cocktail festival in New Orleans. Santos also showcased several Jäger-fueled dishes—including Jägermeister-Kissed Chicken Skewers, the Ultimate Charred Jägermeister Burger, and Black Cherry & Jägermeister Baby Back Ribs—on the menu at his other popular restaurant, The Stanton Social.

So don’t be surprised if you come across Jäger on the menu during your next night out. Dare to give it another try?

Images courtesy of Jägermeister

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