festivals and events
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the sweet scoop
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.
In Provincial France, a Mas is known as a country farmhouse that grows all the products to nourish the estate onsite. Though located in the heart of the West Village, Mas (la grillade) seeks out seasonal ingredients from small, organic and sustainable farms in communities surrounding New York City—thus forming its “estate.”
Since 2004, chef Galen Zamarra has been a leader in farm-to-table dining at Mas (farmhouse), his first WV establishment. Utilizing his years of experience, farmer connections and sustainable approach to fine dining, Galen opened Mas (la grillade) in late 2011. He showcases a seasonal menu of locally grown, sustainably raised foods cooked solely over fires of oak, apple and other hardwoods. When you open the Seventh Avenue South doors, you’ll be greeted by the sweet fragrance of smoky, burning wood. A small bar and glass-walled wine room open into an elegant split-level dining room filled with wood tables, white tablecloths and a bright skylight ceiling.
The prix fixe and à la carte menu debuts fresh starters, like a salad of sliced roasted beets, pickled onions, marinated cucumbers and velvety smoked ricotta. Precise fire-grilled preparations let the flavors and beautiful qualities of the ingredients shine in each dish. An entrée of grilled duck presented succulent smoky medallions, rimmed with a thin layer of fat beneath the skin, plated over tender Swiss chard. Perfectly seared scallops laid atop a bed of grilled fennel and spring greens, drizzled with vibrant saffron-dill aioli. A subtle smokiness permeated every element on the plate; it was lovely.
Grilled vegetables, like wild ramps and hen of the wood mushrooms, along with fruit-based desserts, artisanal cheeses and house-made ice creams complete the menu. Creamy ricotta and local honey ice creams were already melting when placed on our table; nonetheless, they provided a tangy, refreshing finish to an overall wonderful meal.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2013 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of Mas (la grillade).
For one of the most autentico Italian experiences around, get your appetite ready and head to Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. NoHo’s rustic market, salumeria, bakery, wine bar and restaurant is an extension of former chef Ignacio Mattos’s original Il Buco, located on adjacent Bond Street.
In the front Alimentari grocery section, you can purchase artisanal dry goods, cured meats, and freshly baked bread to enjoy at home. Or settle into the warm, cozy Vineria and restaurant to sample seasonal specialties featuring organic, local produce and proteins from eco-friendly farms—which chef Justin Smillie precisely crafts using traditional Italian methods. Varied individual and high communal tables invites sharing the love with friends—or making new ones. Belly up to a spot by the open kitchen for a front row view of the staff busily churning out delicacies.
While the atmosphere charms, the simple, straightforward cuisine is most likely to entice a repeat visit. Served with crusty, chewy Italian bread, the house-made ricotta is a must have starter. A pillow of soft curds garnished with sugar snap peas, toasted pine nuts, mint, granola and a swirl of honey offered an inviting sweet-savory sensation. Another knockout appetizer of Manila clams arrived resting in zesty roasted pepper and garlic broth, thick cubes of pancetta sprinkled throughout.
Vegetable contorni, charcuterie and fresh pastas, seafood and meats complete the menu. Try the delicate twirls of “busiate” pasta coated with almonds, anchovies, sun-ripened duana tomatoes and capers. For a heartier entrée, the signature spit-roasted short ribs presented large chunks of tender, peppery meat edged by darkened, chewy bark. They were both exceptional mains.
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is a solid choice for a romantic date night or breaking bread with a group. Make a reservation to guarantee a prompt seating—then prepare to mangia.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2013 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of LocalEats.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!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. A time to give thanks for all of life’s blessings and share a bountiful feast with loved ones. As a member of the Cooking Light Bloggers’ Connection, I was invited to a special Thanksgiving-themed live taping of The Chew, that will air on ABC at 1PM on Wednesday, November 21st. Be sure to look for me at the Tasting Table, gobbling up dishes from all the co-hosts :)
Throughout the taping, the entire cast and production crew made the experience a complete blast, while co-hosts Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Daphne Oz and Clinton Kelly also provided incredible holiday mealtime inspiration and helpful entertaining tips. All the wonderful Thanksgiving recipes and ideas that The Chew crew shared can be found at ABC.com/TheChew.
One of the show’s recipe standouts was Carla’s cranberry pear relish, which she generously scooped over her brined carved turkey. It was perfectly tart, sweet and zesty all in one—and complimented the poultry beautifully. The below is Carla’s recipe to a tee, with my additions of nutmeg and cloves (two of my favorite fall flavors), some mandarin oranges for extra sweetness, and grated lemon peel garnish. Enjoy!
Cranberry Pear Orange Chutney (adapted from Carla Hall’s recipe)
Place onions, sugar, red wine, ginger, lemon zest, cloves, nutmeg and salt in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cranberries and pears to the pot, and continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes or until the cranberries and onions have softened, and the color is a rich scarlet.
Remove lemon zest strips. Mix in mandarin oranges; allow relish to cool. Serve at room temperature. May be made two days in advance. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Garnish with grated lemon peel.
TIP: Prick each cranberry with a pin or needle before cooking them. This will keep the cranberries from bursting and getting mushy as they cook.
Hungry for more from The Chew? Tune in weekdays on ABC at 1PM EST for flavorful recipes, easy-to-make crafts, and tons of fun with the show’s multi-talented celebrity hosts.
A heartfelt thank you to ABC and Cooking Light for sending me to the show. And I wish you all a safe, healthy & happy Thanksgiving! xoxo