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the sweet scoop
Some of New York City’s top chefs have taken on the 100 Mile Menu Challenge to fight hunger. Their task? To create a delicious tasting menu using only ingredients sourced within 100 miles of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.
On May 16th, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen—the largest emergency food program in New York City—will host From Farm to Tray, a sustainable food benefit to raise much needed funds before the busy summer season. This cocktail reception and celebration will feature the locally-sourced, “100 Mile” dishes from participating chefs Colt Taylor (One If By Land, Two If By Sea), Kevin Lasko (Park Avenue Spring), Kurt Kretschmar (Cocktail Caterers), Preston Madson & Ginger Pierce (Freemans, Peels & Isa) and Yvan Lemoine (Season 8 Food Network Star Finalist), with a VIP cocktail hour hosted by executive chef Norma Jean Darden of Spoonbread.
Like the hungry NYers who eat at the soup kitchen every day, From Farm to Tray guests will dine in the beautiful landmark Holy Apostles Church, a sanctuary that New York Times journalist Anna Quindlen dubbed “the most majestic dining room in New York City.”
Join me on May 16th at 7pm for this uniquely delicious fundraiser to benefit fellow New Yorkers in need. Tickets are available here. Hope to see you there!
On Tuesday, the Village Voice’s sixth annual Choice Eats tasting event took over the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue. The highly anticipated affair featured Voice food critic Robert Sietsema’s culinary favorites from more than 50 handpicked restaurants spanning the five boroughs, along with beverage pairings from craft beer, wine and spirits producers.
As if all this wasn’t enough, VIP guests were invited inside a full hour before general admission for a live culinary demo from City Grit’s Sarah McSimmons and offerings from a dozen local restos including Pig and Khao, Qi Thai Grill and Exchange Alley. VIPs also indulged in the exclusive “Choice Sweets” dessert lounge featuring confections from Butter Lane, Grandaisy Bakery, Ovenly, and more.
A few of the night’s many standouts included Anella’s velvety handmade burrata with tomato jam and basil salt, fresh seasoned shrimp rolls from both Luke’s Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound, tangy buffalo chicken balls from The Meatball Shop, Porchetta’s savory crackling-topped pork crostini, John Brown Smokehouse’s succulent pastrami sliders with sweet ‘n’ tangy slaw, moist red velvet squares from Carlo’s Bakery, and perfectly indulgent fudge brownies from Robicelli’s. A selection of suds from Blue Point Brewing Company, Lagunitas and Stella Artois, along with creative cocktails mixed with Sidney Frank spirits and Prairie Organic Vodka, helped wash it all down.
Whether you prefer savory, sweet, spicy, ethnic, Americana, inventive, classic, vegetarian or carnivorous, Choice Eats aims to please any palate. And with a surprisingly reasonable ticket price point, the bang-for-your-buck appeal is just another reason to attend the eating extravaganza next year.
Besides stunning scenery and super-friendly locals, the one thing that Grand Cayman Island clearly doesn’t fall short on is flavor. While visiting this tropical paradise during the Cayman Cookout, I was fortunate enough to savor some of the very best that the isle has to offer. From just-caught Ahi tuna and Wahoo fish, to locally grown breadfruit and cassava, to small batch rum that’s barrel aged under the ocean, the island-inspired cuisine of Cayman is undeniably distinctive, fresh and vibrant.
Cayman Cookout headlining chefs Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Dean James Max have shared a few of their recipes that capture authentic island flavor, yet can be easily created using ingredients found Stateside. For a true taste of the Cayman Islands at home, try the zesty chicken and mushroom paella that José fired up during his beachfront cooking demo, Eric’s grilled swordfish that he served at the Barefoot BBQ event, or Dean’s refreshing tuna coconut ceviche from the Harvest Dinner at The Brasserie. Bon appétit!
Chicken and Mushroom Paella (serves 6)
Recipe by José Andrés, as served during his Cayman Cookout Demo
Slice tomatoes in half, and grate each on a box grater over a bowl. Discard skins; set pulp aside. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Lightly season chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides until deep golden. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Fry mushrooms until browned in oil and chicken fat. Set aside. Set 18-inch paella pan over two burners at high heat on the stove top, and heat 1/3 cup olive oil. Add tomato pulp and cook until darkened, about 5 minutes. Add paprika and saffron, and cook for about 1 minute. Add chicken pieces and mushrooms; add sherry and cook until evaporated. Add chicken stock; bring to a boil.
In a food processor or mortar, puree parsley, garlic and almonds, with a tablespoon or two of water until smooth and stir into pan. Sprinkle rice across the pan and stir until the grains are submerged, then don’t stir again. Cook on high heat for 10 minutes, rotating the pan on the two burners to distribute heat. Using a small spoon, test rice and stock and add salt as needed. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 6 minutes. Test rice again. If it is still hard, continue cooking for 2-4 more minutes.
In the final 2 minutes, sprinkle frozen peas over the top and return heat to medium-high, listening for a crackling sound to ensure the bottom is toasting but not burning. Remove from heat, cover with paper towels and let sit for 5 minutes. Use a metal spoon to scrape toasted rice from bottom of pan and serve.
Image courtesy of Creations Unlimited, Cayman Islands
Grilled Swordfish with Fennel & Tomato Vierge (serves 6)
Recipe by Eric Ripert, as served at the Cayman Cookout’s Barefoot BBQ
Grilled Swordfish & Fennel
Season the swordfish fillets with salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence, and olive oil. Reserve. Grill to desired temperature.*Swordfish can be replaced by Striped Bass or Halibut
Place the sliced fennel in a small bowl; dress with lemon vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Top fish with this mixture before serving.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over fish of choice.
Trim and cut tuna into smaller workable portions. Slice tuna into thin strips and small dice.
Dice the peppers (keep seeds for extra spicy) and ginger. Add to the pot with the coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a low simmer for about 10-15 min. Take off the stove and let sauce completely cool. Strain and refrigerate.
Chop the cilantro; thinly slice the bell pepper and Serrano peppers. Slice the green onions and combine all the ingredients together.
To Serve: In a bowl, add the diced tuna, the ceviche mix and coconut sauce. Mix well and season with salt, pepper and squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve in coconut shells over ice!
Sauté onions and leeks with butter in a small stockpot until soft. Add the chopped garlic and lightly sauté. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh from the squash and add it in the mixture with the honey and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and bring the soup back to a boil. Season with clove, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Blend the soup in your bar blender, strain, and reserve. The soup can be held in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Cayman Land Crab
Brown butter in sauté pan, once golden remove most of the oil and leave browned butter solids. Heat pan on medium heat and sauté seasoning pepper and chives for 3 minutes. Turn heat up to high and add land crab quickly sauté crab for 2 minutes. And season with salt and pepper.
Place the warm land crab equally in 6 serving bowls. Spoon a tablespoon of cream next to the crab. Pour the hot soup in the bowl and garnish with the chives.
Image courtesy of The Brasserie
Since appearing on season 4 of Top Chef, life has been pretty hectic for Spike Mendelsohn. Besides opening an empire of restaurants in the Washington, DC area—including Good Stuff Eatery, We, the Pizza and new Capital Hill French bistro Bearnaise (slated to debut in late February)—the celebrity chef can be seen delivering funny one liners on Bravo’s Life After Top Chef and competing in Food Network’s Next Iron Chef.
As if his plate wasn’t already full, Spike has recently teamed up with Captain Morgan to create unique recipes featuring the spiced rum and their newest signature liquor, Black Spiced Rum—a bold flavored Caribbean rum blended with natural spices. So how’d this new partnership come about? “I’ve always been a fan of Captain Morgan, so for me it was an exciting opportunity to partner with them. As a chef, it was kind of an adventure to create these new food and cocktail recipes for the brand. It’s been really interesting and a very fun campaign.” Spike shared with me.
And how he got creatively inspired? “Literally, I pictured myself in a pirate’s outfit on a pirate ship, sailing around the Caribbean and being inspired to create some really delicious food and drinks that incorporate Captain Morgan.” he mentioned. Aye aye, Captain Spike.
Spike was kind enough to share a few of his exclusive recipes, which are sure to spice up all your holiday celebrations. Enjoy!
Captain Morgan Spiced Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole
Bake sweet potatoes on 375°F for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Remove pulp with a large spoon and place in a large bowl. Stir together the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg allspice orange juice and Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Salt and pepper to taste. Next, butter a casserole pan and layer sweet potato mixture then marshmallows. Do as many layers as you can, finishing off with the remaining marshmallows. Lastly, sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake at 350°F for 20 – 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
Black Apple Harvest
In a shaker, add ice and shake it like your momma taught you. Fill a rocks glass with ice, take a lemon rind and rim the glass. Next, take a thin slice of ginger and rim the glass and then put both garnishes in the glass. Pour cocktail through holes of the shaker. Cocktail should still have some apple sauce texture, but shouldn’t be thick. Lastly, drizzle with honey.
Note: If you don’t have apricot liquor on-hand or don’t want to make a run to the store, feel free to try without it.
Port Royal Punch (serves 25)
In a punch bowl or large serving vessel, add the above ingredients and stir. Serve over ice in a punch glass – or glass of your choosing.
Additional recipes can be found on Captain Morgan’s Facebook page.
Images courtesy of Taylor Strategy and Kraut Rocks
Thursday night, the 5th annual New York City Wine and Food Festival kicked off with two of the weekend’s most anticipated events. And though I would’ve loved to witness food royalty roast Anthony Bourdain, the Italian in me couldn’t bear the thought of missing one of my favorites—Meatball Madness hosted by the lovely Giada De Laurentiis. “This is the best Meatball Madness ever,” Giada exclaimed about the ‘always sold out’ event, which is in its fourth consecutive year.
The large-scale tasting showcased dozens of the city’s best chefs, who rolled out their version of the perfect bite. Hundreds of meatball maniacs packed into SoHo’s 82 Mercer to sample 36 different types of saucy spheres—in styles ranging from traditional Italian polpette with tomato gravy to pretzel-stuffed Austrian balls and Spanish oxtail albondigas.
Judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Anne Burrell, along with Pat LaFrieda and Mark Pastore of sponsor La Frieda Meats, crowned Gabe Thompson of the soon-to-open L’Apicio the night’s big winner for his Amatriciana version. The carnivorous crowd also casted their votes and Donatella Arpaia snagged the coveted People’s Choice Award for her mother’s classic recipe of melt-in-your-mouth tomato braised veal meatballs.
Aperol Spritz cocktails, a selection of vino and sparkling San Pellegrino refreshed partygoers, while a display of cake pops from pastry hotshot Johnny Iuzzini provided some sweet relief. Meatball Madness started off the NYCWFF in delicious fashion and everyone seemed to have a ball—while devouring dozens!
Imagine traveling the globe in a single weekend, without ever leaving New York City.
The 2nd Annual Travel + Leisure Global Bazaar is an exciting multi-cultural extravaganza taking over NYC’s Lexington Armory from September 28–30. During this fun-filled weekend of events, you’ll feel like you’re being transported from region to region around the world — as you enjoy authentic international cuisine and beverages, cultural performances, live music, artisan shopping and tons of interactive experiences.
TASTE YOUR WAY AROUND THE GLOBE
Savor mezcals from Mexico, spices from Morocco, rums from Barbados, global street food from some of NY’s most popular food trucks and so much more! And at select sessions, you can sample flavors from celebrity chefs including José Andrés, Scott Conant, Michael White, Masaharu Morimoto, Tim Love, Johnny Iuzzini and Jose Garces.
I’m honored that Travel + Leisure asked me to be an official Global Bazaar Ambassador. Join me for an international experience like none other by purchasing your tickets here. And for schedule info, visit TravelandLeisure.com. Hope to see you there!