Monday, June 13, 2011

La Birreria

I think I should change my blog to something along the lines of "Reasons I love Mario Batali". Here's yet another post of another Batali experience that impressed!

I've been waiting for the Eataly beer garden to open semi-patiently. If it was half as cool as Eataly itself, I knew it had to be good. It finally opened about a week and a half ago and my friend Nicole was 5th on line when I met her. They took our name and cell phone number down on an ipad- so advanced! They sent us a text when our table was ready. Pretty perfect, considering you can have a glass of wine while you walk around the place.
The Pretzel bread was deee-lish

We got up there before sunset, the sun was gleaming off the Empire State building (perfect view) and the Credit Suisse cathedral top that overlooks Madison Square Park. It was beautiful. Eataly brews their own beer up there. I don't even like beer, but this beer was definitely worth drinking. I tossed the allergy out the window (or off the side of the building) and started with a great light ale, then gradually worked our way through more darker beers. We ended with a darker brew with "Christmas spices" that was pretty fab.

We shared meat and cheese plates, sausages (what's beer without sausage?), mushroom salads, and shrimp. The meats, cheeses, and mushrooms were the star.
Bologna and Bacon!

Lydia was there on opening night. She agreed so nicely to take a picture with us... such a great ending to a wonderful night!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The First Anniversary- Sagaponack and Babbo in NYC!!

After a few hours at Laguardia last Thursday night, realizing we were never getting out to San Fran, we planned an impromptu anniversary weekend by going to Sagaponack. Thank God for family! Joe and I spent 2 wonderful days in the Hamptons with Matt and Nicole and little Matthew, then came back to NYC for a lovely dinner out and city exploration.
I'm covering a lot in this post, as not to force myself to have to write multiple posts.

We arrived, after getting over our initial disappointment of not being in SF, with the little one and his mom waiting patiently on the porch. All was immediately A-OK.
We basically spent the next 2 days or so, staring at Matthew. We went to Channing's Daughter Winery on Saturday, and tasted some lovely local LI wines (surprisingly very good). We ate some lobsters and mussles and waited patiently for the sun to come out. It came out on Sunday about 30 minutes before we were set to leave and head back to the city. Thank you.

A few shots from Sag.
Joe and I decided to go back to the city and spend the rest of the weekend in quiet NYC. The city is the best when everyone leaves for a long weekend in the summer. We decided to take advantage of that and attempt to get into Babbo, a Batali restaurant that we've tried MANY times to get reservations. We walked in and decided to stand in the corner and wait the hour and a half the host told us it would be before anything opened up. It was already that crowded at 5:30pm, which if you know NYC nightlife is about 3:30pm everywhere else. Coincidentally, there ended up being a cancellation right away. Convinced the host tested us, if we were prepared to stand and wait in a corner, he'd have to give us that last available table. It worked.

We then proceeded to have one of the best meals of our lives.

The indoor camera setting STILL needs work, but here are some shots of the feast. 

Grilled octopus with a spicy limoncello vinaigrette.
Then we split 2 pasta dishes- this was the homemade Garganelli with Funghi Trifolati

This was the amazing lamb brain homemade ravioli with lemon and sage- yes, lamb's brain.

Brasato al Barolo- braised beef with mushrooms over polenta
Joe ordered pork jowl!!! Flavor punch of greatness
Recommendation from the water: Maple and mascarpone cheesecake- to die for! 
Thank you Mario Batali for the experience that was Babbo. Can't wait for my next opportunity to sneak in.
Overall a fantastic anniversary weekend on a whim!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Dutch!

Another long overdue post. These things are getting harder and harder for me to keep up. I could promise I will try to do better, but I really cant guarantee that. Just being honest.

Last Friday I was supposed to have a "Meeting of the Minds" with my 2 besties Amanda and Nicole. Unfortunately Amanda wasn't feeling so hot, so it was just a Meeting of 2. We've coined the "Meeting of the Minds" phrase a few years back because usually the 3 of us go a few weeks in between seeing each other. Usually that means tons of "stuff" has happened in that time and we need a MOTM to help get our thoughts together. It sounds funny, but these past few years with these girls have been the greatest support system anyone could ask for.

The MOTM is almost always over food. and drinks. Obviously.

This time we got lucky with someone who knew someone, who knew someone else, who knew a popular NYC chef, who got us a reservation at one of NYC's hippest, hottest restaurants that just opened a month or so ago. I'm being slightly sarcastic, but this was pretty lucky of us. It's a pretty big deal in NYC when press gets a hold of a new NYC restaurant. It usually takes 15-20 tries of calling and getting "we have either 5pm or 10:30pm available next Monday", when you finally give up and stop calling and wait for the hype to subside. So I was pumped when Nicole told me we got resys at The Dutch! The chef was also from one of my other favorite spots in NYC, Locanda Verde. I knew it had to be good.

The Dutch, Soho
Nicole stays away from meat, but it was fine by me, we had a seafood feast that was spectacular! We ordered our first bottle of rose wine of the warm season (even though it hasn't been all that warm). Then we were greeted by a fabulous waiter and some awesome jalapeno cornbread. Gluten or no gluten, I ate it.

Nic and I, mid feast- it was a lot busier than it looks
Nicole had heard their oyster sliders weren't to be missed, so she nabbed one of those (not only do I have a gluten allergy, but the oyster allergy is even worse!). Then we split a crab appetizer with a bloody mary "broth". They called it Dressed Crab, Bloody Mary, Green Goddess. It was definitely one of the best crab dishes I had ever had. Thank you waiter for the suggestion! We also had a seafood ceviche of calamari, shrimp, lime, champagne, lime and red onion that was great.

The oyster slider and an aggressive flash.

Bloody Mary Crab and the Seafood Ceviche
We decided on scallops and escolar for our main courses. Another benefit of eating with another foodie.... you can split everything and try twice as many things as you would if you were alone! The escolar was grilled with yellow eyed pea chili and scallion. Whatever that means, it was pretty fabulous. We also chose the Sea Scallop with Spring Peas, bacon (although with Nicole not eating meats, our waiter assured us it was still fabulous without the bacon, and it was!) and ramps. Maybe the best scallops I've ever had... and for those of you who know me, I HATE peas. HATE, HATE, HATE peas. I think people that eat peas are weird, people that like them are even weirder, and the idea of putting peas into dishes is just wrong. All wrong.
Well not only did I like the peas in the scallop dish, I went back for more and filled my fork with ONLY peas to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

The Escolar
The Scallops and the PEAS!!!! and more terrible camera flash
  Just to top it off, we had to try the desserts... along with a late harvest Riesling that was fabulous!

Again, the flash...... forbidden black rice pudding, with mangos, pineapple, passion fruit, macadamias and coconut sorbet.... AMAZING!!!
The strawberry rhubarb pie, also amazing!!!
Overall.... great food, great wine, great service, great desserts, and GREAT company. Thanks Nicole for knowing people in important places and getting us this resy. Cant wait for the next MOTM.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Gluten-filled Gala!

Joe and I attended our first "New York City Gala" last night, the 11th annual Taste of the Lower East Side. A fabulous benefit for the Grand Street Settlement. I don't really know true true definition of "gala", but for the sake of this post, I attended a gala.

Hundreds of people attended TLES

The Grand Street Settlement is a non profit organization that expands opportunities for low-income families  by providing cultural services that support community-building, advocacy, self-determination and an enriched quality of life.Taste of the Lower East Side is an event, held in Soho ironically, where the restaurants from the neighborhood come and showcase their food for the benefit of these programs. Essentially you buy a ticket, you show up, your money goes to a great cause, and you get to eat fabulous food for a few hours while listening to a kick ass DJ. My kind of event.

So many restaurants and chefs gave their time and energy to this cause, it was pretty amazing. My favorite part was getting to meet and chat with famed chef, Wylie Dufresne of WD-50. Such a nice guy, very friendly, and just solidified the feeling I had the entire night, that I was a judge on Top Chef. Wylie created a cauliflower soup with surf clam, smoked raisin, and crispy caper. It was unbelievably outstanding.

Chef Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 chatting up the guests

WD-50's amazing soup

As much as I loved Wylie and his soup, it wasn't our favorite table. Our favorite food of the night goes to Salt on Macdougal St. I have never eaten at Salt before, but after doing my research, I found out it's known for seasonal ingredients and being able to customize your meal. We ate the best bacon wrapped date with a honey drizzle that I have ever had.... and I feel I can say with confidence that I've had my fair share of bacon wrapped dates. This was not your every day date! They also had a sample of soup, with a drizzle of truffle oil. Unfortunately we didn't ask exactly what the soup was, we were clearly too busy getting seconds. It was definitely vegetable in nature, and it was one of the best things I've ever sipped on. 
Bacon wrapped dates and "the soup" from Salt

Overall the night was really fun. I love these types of events that you can only find in NYC. The quality of food was outstanding and the fact that you were benefiting a great cause made it even better. I guess Joey and I didn't win our bid at the silent auction for a trip to the Virgin Islands, since I haven't received a call yet. Ah well, worth a shot! Overall a fabulous evening, thank you Hadley for turning me on to this! Can't wait for next year.

Some of our other favorites....

Classic meatball and polenta, and a chilled shrimp gazpacho from Gemma

A sampling of appetizers from Pulino's; olives, razor clam, egg salad, octopus, spiced orange
Goat Town, need I say more?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

An ode to my brand new beautiful nephew

This title doesn't suffice, as I certainly can not write poetry. But Im leavin it anyway, for the sake of getting this post up and running. I have been a huge slacker this last month and a half.... between traveling to Puerto Rico with 2 of my favorite girlfriends and then traveling to Park City, Utah with some of my other favorite girlfriends and coworkers, and then one very exciting family event, it seems I've lost my way with this blog. Must. Get. To. Writing.

The only thing that could possibly motivate me is the new addition to my family... my new nephew Matthew Jr.

At approximately 2am on March 20th, my brother and sister in law welcomed their new son Matthew Jr to this world. We spent the previous 9 months DYING to know if this would be a beautiful girl or a boy... can we buy blue Gap sweaters or pink sequined skirts? Will he wear his Yankee jersey proud, or will everyone think the poor little girl is a cute little boy? Do I get to play dress up with her and paint her nails and cover her in makeup at a much too early age? OR do I get to showcase my talents in baseball and play catch and teach him how to win over the ladies? The suspense was killing all of us.

Well catch it is, and I couldn't be more thrilled. He is the most beautiful thing I've laid eyes on to date... and although I am the proud Aunt, I swear anyone that's seen him would say the same thing. He really is gorgeous! I was so excited to spend that following Monday at The Gap FINALLY able to buy appropriate, colorful blue and green clothes. All the cream and brown really does get old after 9 months. So this kid is already the golden boy of the family (similar to his father and my husband), golden hair and all, and is already about as spoiled and loved as anyone.

It's been amazing to see my sister in law and my only brother turn into loving parents. It's also such an amazing feeling to finally be an Aunt. I didn't know it would be so emotional for me, even as close as my brother and I are. But it's really been overwhelming... in the best way possible. To answer all those questions about me being ready to have my own... no. Not yet anyway. It's all about this little guy right now and all I want to do is spoil him and love him and not even think about anything else. It does have me thinking, if I could love him this much, how am I going to handle the love I will feel for my own? Unimaginable.

So that's all for my first post in a very long time. More to come this weekend, recipes, etc. I promise! but for now, let's just enjoy this face.

Sleepin on Nanna

Proud Auntie

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday Lugar's. Sunday Funday. I love President's!

Saturday was The Last Supper for DINKS Anessa and Mike, before they leave DINK world and join parent world. Anessa is due March 15th, so this was go big or go home... which is why we chose Peter Lugar's in Brooklyn. You can't go bigger (or better) than a Lugar's steak dinner. It's been a good year or 2 since my last trip out to BK to eat a juicy Lugar's steak. We left the ordering up to Joe, as he is a pro and requires no menu. If you've ever been to Lugar's, you know this is preferred by the waiters. No BS, just eat hard, and get the hell out. 

The Last Supper
Joe ordered the usual appetizers- tomato and onion, shrimp cocktail, slab bacon, and a lamb chop for everyone.
The famous steak sauce

Shrimp, tomato, and the slab bacon before I got a hold of it. Its not pretty but its the best piece pig ever.

Steak for 6 please.

The steak was great, the lamb chop was the best chop I've ever had. But the best part of the meal for the ladies may have actually been the dessert. Somehow you have to leave room for the sundae and the chocolate mousse cake, with a side of SCHLAG. German whipped cream so thick your spoon stands up in it. 

Laura peering behind the sundae with excitement
After our gorging, we went home, slept like babies, and had meat dreams... those dreams are the really wacked out that you have when you eat a ton of food at a late hour- at least that's we we're calling them. Joe's dream- having an extra cramped apartment and having to crawl to get in the door (quite obvious subconscious talk), or mine- taking random people's shoes to a shoe cobbler that was located inside a nurses office, or Jeff being locked in a car while the Cape Cod house (see previous New Years with the DINKS post)  being raided for contraband. Thank you Lugar's for providing the late entertainment.

Fast forward to Sunday. Laura, Jeff, Joe and I decide to start the day with a boozy brunch at one of my favorite staple-brunch places in the city, Essex on the Lower East Side.
$3 Mimosas, Bloody's or Screwdrivers, along with the 3 free that come with your meal. The day never ends up being productive after this place, EXCEPT for this particular Sunday Funday. After leaving the bar, making sure to get our last $3 drink, we walked to Union Square, stopping on the way to use the bathroom at another bar and grabbing another 2 rounds. 
Knickerbocker pit stop
After the pit stop we joined Jeff in his hunt for a shiny new guitar and had some fun in the guitar shop while we were at it. 

Jeff tryin em out

Me, trying to look cool after a few

Jeff finally found what he needed and we proceeded to the next pit stop, Lillie's. One of my favorite bars in Union Square- actually may be the only bar I like in Union Square.

It was here that we decided to cook a family-style Italian dinner together. Jeff and Laura were indeed staying an extra night! After a trip to the grocery store, we decided on the below recipes and went to work shortly after resting at home. Both came out wonderful! Forgot to take pics of the finished products- it was a long day ok?!!
Makin pasta- gluten free!

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle and Pecorino Romano

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds short ribs, each about 2-inches long, cut flanken style, across the ribs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 small carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup ruby port (I omitted this and just used more wine)
  • 2 cups red wine, such as cabernet
  • 1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade beef stock
  • 1 pound pappardelle or other long, flat pasta
  • Chopped parsley
  • Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish


Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add short ribs to the hot oil. 
Cook ribs until browned on both sides. Remove ribs from casserole, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the herbs: Place bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in the center of a square of cheesecloth (I used kitchen twine and just tied the herbs together, sans cloth). Bring edges together, and tie with kitchen string. Set aside.
Add carrots, celery, onion, and shallots to oil in the casserole, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add flour and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add ruby port (we just used red wine here); stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan and the bottom of the casserole is clean. Add red wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add garlic, beef stock, and the reserved herb bouquet.
Return browned ribs to the casserole. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the casserole, and place it in the oven. Cook until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the cooked ribs from the casserole. Set the casserole on the stove top over medium heat, and simmer to thicken sauce just slightly. As soon as the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, and shred into small pieces. Degrease the sauce and discard the herbs. Return shredded meat to casserole, and simmer to reduce sauce by about half.
Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, and serve with ragu, sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with freshly grated cheese.

Ricotta and Mint Ravioli in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce
For the pasta dough (sparing you the gluten free version here):
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
For the ravioli filling:
1 pound whole milk ricotta (or homemade; see recipe section)
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 small bunch of fresh mint, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
For the sauce:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh sage
Freshly ground pepper
Make the pasta dough:
Joe and I do this by hand, the old fashion way, and roll it out into sheets. We have a ravioli tray to cut the pasta sheets
Place the semolina and all-purpose flour in the bowl of a food processor.  Whisk eggs and olive oil together and pour into food processor bowl. Add salt. Pulse until coarsely combined.  If dough appears too wet, add a tad more flour and pulse again. If it is too dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of water and process until it forms a moist ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough by hand until a smooth ball is formed. The dough should be elastic and a little bit sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Make the ravioli filling:
Mix the ricotta, beaten egg and parmesan cheese in a medium sized bowl.  Mix in the chopped fresh mint. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Assemble ravioli:
Again this can be done by hand- rolling out the dough into long wide strips. then cutting raviolis or using a ravioli cutter specifically. But here are the detailed instructions from
If using a pasta machine, place the rollers at the widest opening. Cut the dough into four equal pieces. As you work with one piece, keep the other pieces covered so they do not dry out.
Working with the first piece of dough, flatten the dough and pass it through the pasta machine.  Fold the dough in thirds, crosswise, and run it through the machine again.
Making the ravioli
Repeat this procedure a third time until the dough is smooth.  Set the pasta machine to the next smaller opening and run through the machine.
Continue in this fashion, using the next smaller opening each time, until the last or next to the last opening is reached.  Dust with flour as needed but be careful not to use too much flour.
Cut the band of dough into two equal lengths.  Spoon mounds of filling, roughly 1 teaspoon, onto the strip of dough, spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Paint the exposed areas of the dough lightly with water. Place the second sheet of dough on top and shape the ravioli with your fingers. Press on the air around the filling to help seal the edges. Cut the ravioli apart with a ravioli cutter or stamp.
Place ravioli on semolina-dusted cookie tray until ready to cook.
Prepare sauce:
Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until foaming subsides and the butter starts to turn brown. Stir in the strips of sage and cook until the sage is crisp and butter is a nice golden brown color.  Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the ravioli in a large pot of salted boiling water until the pasta is al dente – about 5-7 minutes.  Carefully transfer the ravioli with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain. Gently slide the ravioli into the sage butter and cook over moderate-low heat, stirring very gently, for about 1 minute.
Dust with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy……..

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Risotto- my new favorite comfort food!

So this gluten free thing gets me down sometimes, I'm still not 100% used to it and miss a lot of my favorite foods- being able to eat pasta out at a restaurant, grabbing a slice of New York's finest, or grabbing my once-a-month bagel. I know I'm better off for it, but that doesn't mean I don't miss it all.

Recently I found what will now become my favorite restaurant of the moment, Risotteria in the West Village. This is heaven for those of us who are gluten free. Its a risotto restaurant, that also serves pizzas, paninis and salads that are all, you guessed it.... gluten free! Gluten free breadsticks to start your meal too- pretty awesome! There's also a bake shop that serves gluten free breads, cookies, cakes, and flours. I bought the rolls, soooo excited to finally have a sandwich and they were actually really good. I plan on stocking up. I had a risotto with mushrooms and truffle that was really well cooked, al dente rice- the whole nine.

For those of you who eat with me often, this will be the next place we go. I promise you won't be disappointed, even if you aren't cursed with a gluten allergy.   
It was this restaurant that inspired me to try risotto on my own. I semi-created a mushroom, herb and shrimp risotto. Came out pretty good...

Herbed Mushroom and Shrimp Risotto with Truffle (Gluten free)

Olive oil
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
a bunch of herbs, chopped, I used rosemary and thyme because that's what I had in the house
mushrooms- I just used however many I left, I would recommend 1 container or so. Also might be good with a variety of mushrooms
tbsp butter
a few splashes of Truffle oil- optional, but worth having around the house!
1 cup arborio rice
5-8 cups (or so) vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
10 shrimp, cleaned
Parmesan cheese

Empty 5 cups of vegetable broth into a large saucepot. Simmer and keep warm with a lid. You will use this for the risotto.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper, saute until cooked through and set aside.

In a saucepan saute half the shallot and 1 clove of garlic in olive oil. After onion is translucent, add mushrooms and herbs. Saute until mushrooms and herbs are cooked through. Remove from heat and top with a few splashes of Truffle oil. A lot of truffle oil goes a long way, keep that in mind. Set aside with shrimp. 

In a large dutch oven or pot, saute the rest of the shallot and 2nd clove of garlic in olive oil. When translucent, add rice and stir. Turn heat to medium low and let rice get golden. Add wine and let evaporate. Ladle some warm vegetable broth into rice and stir. Allow broth to evaporate almost completely and continue adding broth, ladle by ladle. This process takes a good 25 minutes or so. You have to watch it and stir a lot. But its easy. You are finished when it tastes creamy, it looks more runny than mine does below, and the rice is still al dente. Stir in a healthy handful of Parmesan cheese.

Add mushroom and herb mixture and the shrimp. Top with parmesan and a little more truffle oil for good measure. 

Top chef judges would say this wasn't soupy enough, but bear with me, next time, more liquid....