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Aaron Sanchez debuts Crossroads at House of Blues

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 10:07 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

“What’s cool about the menu is that it’s all the stuff I want to eat.” chef Aaron Sanchez revealed about the fare at new Atlantic City restaurant, Crossroads at House of Blues.

Sanchez, of Food Network’s Chopped, Chefs Vs. City and Heat Seekers fame, has become the newest addition to AC’s star-studded lineup of celebrity chefs. Aaron recently reinvented the Showboat Hotel’s casual signature eatery, and debuted Crossroads at House of Blues with its eclectic, dynamic menu — blending spicy Tex-Mex, Southern comfort and updated American classics.

 “They needed to give the food portion of House of Blues a new identity and name. Crossroads is the meeting place of spirituality, music, food and art,” Aaron shared. “I was excited at the opportunity to create a menu influenced by other facets of art. Because for me, music, art and other creative outlets are extremely important because they give me ideas and inspire my food.”

  1. Chargrilled skirt steak and cotija street tacos with pico de gallo & roasted tomatillo salsa
  2.  Slow-braised beef short rib meatballs sandwiched with fresh tomato sauce & cotija cheese
  3. \"Shrimp and grits\" — plump shrimp over crispy fried grit cakes in chipotle garlic cream
  4. Pasilla glazed short ribs on sweet andouille corn pudding with cherry tomatoes & snap peas
  5. Chef Aaron enthusiastically describing his dishes and cooking techniques to a table of diners
  6. Spicy jambalaya of marinated chicken, andouille sausage, sweet peppers & roasted green onion
  7. The casual, laid-back atmosphere in the main dining room of Crossroads at House of Blues
  8. Crisp grilled flatbread layered with basil pesto, oven-dried tomatoes & sharp blended cheese
  9. Citrus chipotle grilled chicken breasts served with white hominy & fresh vegetables

My exploration of Crossroads cuisine began with juicy, slow-braised beef short rib meatball sliders simmered in fresh tomato sauce and sprinkled with cotija cheese, and a crisp hand stretched grilled flatbread layered with basil pesto, oven-dried tomatoes and sharp blended cheese. Next up were the street tacos, which packed chargrilled citrus marinated skirt steak and cotija into soft, palm-sized corn tortillas, served alongside pico de gallo and roasted tomatillo salsa. These were intensely tasty tacos — I could’ve eaten them all night.

Sanchez’s mains showcased a variety of regional influences, from the Big Easy to the Deep South. Spicy chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya with sweet peppers and green onions brought a gratifying kick of heat, while shrimp and grits offered a modified interpretation of the Southern staple. Instead of resting atop a pool of corn meal, plump shrimp sat on a base of crunchy fried grit cake and were smothered in luscious chipotle garlic cream. Other entrées included skin-on citrus chipotle grilled chicken breasts served with soft white hominy and fresh vegetables, and fork-tender chile braised short ribs on top of sweet andouille corn pudding with cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas — another standout of the night.

The inspired dishes at Crossroads are as diverse as the musicians that take the stage at House of Blues. And after this impressive meal, it was clear that the menu includes all the stuff I want to eat, too.

Next time you’re down the shore, catching a show at House of Blues or just in the mood for flavorful, satisfying food, be sure to check out the new Crossroads. Or you can belly up to the boardwalk beach bar for a sampling of casual eats off the regular dining room menu.

Many thanks to chef Aaron & team for an incredible evening!

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Get Sweet On MarieBelle’s New Frangelico Ganache

Saturday, November 12, 2011 at 11:11 AM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

Rich dark chocolate ganache gets kissed by hazelnut liqueur. The result? Decadence at it’s finest.

Celebrated chocolatier MarieBelle has paired up with Frangelico to unveil an indulgent new truffle flavor just in time for the holidays—the Frangelico Ganache. Blending creamy dark chocolate with luscious hazelnut, this melt-in-your-mouth confection also reveals notes of vanilla, coffee and almond. And it’s quite stunning. MarieBelle founder, chef and chocolate artist, Maribel Lieberman, incorporated hues from the Frangelico bottle into the beautiful sunset-colored mosaic design on each truffle.

  1. MarieBelle\'s new truffle blends Frangelico\'s hazelnut flavor with rich chocolate ganache
  2. MarieBelle New York - SoHo\'s darling chocolate boutique on Broome Street
  3. Dark chocolate ganache gets kissed with Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
  4. MarieBelle founder and chocolate chef, Maribel Lieberman, shares her cocoa passion
  5. Beautiful box of Frangelico Ganache truffles, available on November 15th
  6. The Frangelico Truffle cocktail perfectly complemented the confection\'s flavor nuances
  7. Master Mixologist James Moreland demonstrated three cocktails to pair with the truffles
  8. The Frangelico Supreme cocktail with Frangelico, Flor de Caña rum & sweet vermouth

Last week, I attended an intimate media gathering at MarieBelle, to celebrate the new flavor. The boutique itself is gorgeous. A luxurious chocolate haven, evoking European sophistication and old-world charm, nestled into SoHo’s Broome Street. Attendees settled into the shop’s darling Cacao Bar—a cozy cafe offering sweet nibbles and hot cocoas—to experience the Frangelico Ganache.

Maribel warmly greeted guests and excitedly debuted her latest creation. “These artisanal holiday truffles embody the flavors of the season, blending the hazelnut flavor of Frangelico with the gourmet taste of high-quality dark chocolate.” And to perfectly complement the flavor nuances in the confection, Master Mixologist James Moreland was on hand to stir up three Frangelico-based dessert cocktails (recipes below).

Beginning November 15th, Frangelico Ganache truffles will be available at the MarieBelle retail location in New York City, online at and at select department stores nationwide. They come packaged in a variety of sizes, each wrapped in an exquisite ribboned box that is uniquely Mariebelle.

Life is always sweeter with chocolate, and these truffles make a delightful gift that any chocolate lover will enjoy. And to sip while you sweet, try these tasty dessert cocktails from James Moreland:


Frangelico Truffle Cocktail

1 oz Frangelico

1 oz SKYY Vodka

¾ oz cold espresso

Shake with ice and serve up in a cocktail or martini glass. Dust with dark chocolate shavings.


Frangelico Supreme

1 ¼ oz Frangelico

1 ¼ oz Flor de Caña 7 Year Grand Reserve Rum

1 ¼ oz sweet vermouth

Shake with ice and pour over ice into rocks glass.


Cherries Flambé

1 ¼ oz Frangelico

2 spoonfuls sour cherry macerate

¾ oz cherry brandy

Shake hard and strain over rocks in a Collins glass.

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Ciao to Ciano: NYC’s Newest Hotspot

Friday, November 5, 2010 at 01:11 PM - Posted by Megan - (0) comments

One of New York’s most anticipated new restaurants, Ciano, has officially opened its doors.

Photo by Femia on Eater

There has been quite a buzz surrounding Chef Shea Gallante‘s next move ever since he left the esteemed Cru about a year ago. His recent rustic Italian venture features a still-under-wraps menu, which focuses on seasonal ingredients and farm to table preparations (think dishes like veal meatballs filled with creamy white polenta and sprinkled with rich black truffles). Residing in the former space occupied by Beppe at 45 E. 22nd Street, Ciano appears to be an intimate Tuscan gem with a dedicated wine room, fresh bread-baking hearth and the warmth of a wood burning fireplace.

Given Chef Shea’s regarded reputation and already acclaimed reviews in the New York Times and Vogue, I certainly plan on saying ciao to Ciano soon. If anyone goes in the meantime, let me know how it is!

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