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the sweet scoop
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, 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.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2014 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of Zanda.com.
What’s better than bar hopping around NYC, enjoying dozens of drinks specials with your Santa hat-clad friends, and supporting a great cause while you’re at it? On Saturday, December 8th, the annual 12 Bars of Christmas Bar Crawl is back—and this year should be better than ever.
Close friends of mine started this holiday-themed crawl back in 2006, and it has quickly become one of the most anticipated local events of the season. After receiving a red Santa hat and commemorative mug at the first bar, participants will journey through a spirited series of bars in the West Village (you can sign up for either the West Pole or East Pole route), partaking in exclusive beer and cocktail specials at each locale. And to cap off the festivities, both groups will meet at the same 12th bar so everyone can celebrate—and fill up on holiday cheer—together.
Besides having a jolly good time, you can feel great knowing that event proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank of NYC to help feed hungry New Yorkers. Last year alone, they raised approximately $14,000!
Want in on the fun? Get into the holiday spirit and register today at 12barsnyc.com. Donations of $25 in advance or $30 at the door are kindly required from each participant. Happy crawling, my friends!
With a killer cocktail scene and some of the bar industry’s best talents, New York City is a spirited force to be reckoned with. So when the Top 10 Finalists for the 2012 Spirited Awards were announced, it’s no surprise that the Big Apple is representing across the board.
Held during New Orleans’ annual mixology festival, Tales of the Cocktail, the Spirited Awards will honor the world’s best bars, bartenders, writers, cocktail experts and more. Following a rigorous evaluation of hundreds of nominees, ten finalists have been selected in each of 17 categories.
Finalists from NYC include Dutch Kills, The Clover Club and Mayahuel for Best American Cocktail Bar, while The Tippler, Flatiron Lounge and Macao Trading Co. are among those nominated for Best High Volume Cocktail Bar. Best Restaurant Bar standouts include The Beagle, Lani Kai and Saxon + Parole, and my dear friend Todd Richman of Sidney Frank is up for the Best American Brand Ambassador award — not only can Todd mix up a serious cocktail, but he’s also one of the most stand up guys you’ll ever meet. Congrats!
Check out the full list of finalists here. The top ten in each category will then be whittled down to a final three on Thursday, June 7th. Winners will be announced on Saturday, July 28 at the Spirited Awards ceremony, as part of the 10th Anniversary Tales of the Cocktail celebration.
A heartfelt congratulations to all the nominees, but of course, I’d like to especially raise a glass to my NYC friends and favorites who made the list this year. Cheers!
Image courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail