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Boozy picnics, frisbee games, and straight loungin’ on Sheep Meadow: warm weather days are finally here, and there’s no better place to enjoy the great outdoors (or just take a break from crazy city life) than in beautiful Central Park.

There are dozens of awesome eateries within walking distance of the perimeter, from old-school delis to high-end restaurants to casual burger joints. My latest Thrillist article showcases great go-to spots (organized by location) around the Park—check out the full list here. Skip the dirty-water dog vendor and get after it.

Jams image courtesy of Jen Davidson & Blair Campion

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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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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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Le Barricou: Brooklyn’s Charming Parisian Bistro

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 07:11 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

Williamsburg has seen its fair share of French bistros pop up recently, but Le Barricou charms like no other spot in the neighborhood. Jean-Pierre Marquet’s cozy candlelit haunt has a 19th-century ambiance, with dated newspaper clippings plastered on the walls, an elongated wooden bar and vintage accents scattered throughout the rustic interior. A floor-to-ceiling window facade opens to sidewalk seating on Grand Street and an intimate wine lounge displays antique furnishings and a wood burning fireplace. While the décor may be reminiscent of a classic Parisian parlor, the cuisine is far from old-fashioned with a menu featuring refined French fare.

Chef Joab Masse elegantly showcases locally sourced produce and organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free proteins. The signature Le Barricou salad was served with shaved watermelon and thinly sliced radishes, apples and pears over watercress; sweet honey maple vinaigrette and the hot-flavored flesh of spicy black radishes created a striking flavor contrast that I found addicting. Vegetarian options include light house-made ricotta and wild mushroom stuffed ravioli cradled in delicate tomato, garlic and white wine sauce and creamy seasonal vegetable risotto kissed with truffle oil. The night’s standout entrée was a tender Creekstone Farms Black Angus hanger steak, massaged with garlic confit and caramelized shallot-red wine jus. Reviews were mixed on the hefty grilled Berkshire pork chop, which arrived crusted with thick anchovy tapenade; unfortunately, the too salty taste (I’m admittedly not an anchovy fan) kept me from enjoying the succulent meat, though my dining companion raved about it. I only wish the menu described how prominent anchovies are in the dish.

The bistro’s full bar serves expertly crafted cocktails and exclusively French wines, while the knowledgeable, attentive staff and inviting atmosphere made for a truly delightful dining experience. Merci, Le Barricou.


Review published in the Clean Plates Brooklyn 2012 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.comPhoto: KayOne73 on Flickr

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