Tag Archives: Travel

My Top 10 in New York City

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This summer, differing from my normal intentions of plenty of beach time and music, I spent my summer working hard during an internship, a taste of what my life is to become in the coming years post culinary school. I was lucky enough to land an internship at Gramercy Tavern, a New York institution as far as classic American fare is concerned. I was incredibly lucky to work there, and learned an incredible amount and was inspired every day, something for which I am very grateful.

I used my time in New York as wisely as I could, and tried to eat out as much and as often as I could, so I could get a feel for what the scene is like in New York.  I complied this list out of the places I’ve eaten in New York- my favorite 10- as a suggestion for those looking for places to eat during the colder and slower winter season, or even to save for the (thankfully) upcoming spring season. There are some standby spots and some newer places, so try and enjoy!

Any thoughts on those places? Suggestions for other places I MUST try?? I am SO willing to hear all about it in the comments.

 

Riverpark

Tom Colicchio’s East River hub has stellar views- and incredible food to boot. It was seasonal, fresh, and eclectic;  I loved the Burrata with tomatoes (classic, I know, but still delicious).  I had my first experience trying corn ice cream here, and throughly enjoyed it.  I can see what all the hype was about last summer (and probably this one as well).  Riverpark is also home to one of the smallest but most adorable farms, or outdoor large gardens– which supplements the restaurant.  Talk about local, and definitely a feat in any city, but especially New York City.

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450 E. 29th street

(212) 729-9790

 

 Upland

California–Inspired and incredibly chic, Upland has dishes with bold flavors inspired by the seasons. The decor is awesome, I spotted a few celebs while at the bar (if you’re into that sorta thing), but it still felt causal enough that I could roll through in jeans. The Beef tartare is a must, as well as the crispy duck wings. The pasta estrella was to die for, with chicken livers and sherry.

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345 Park Ave South

(212) 686-1006

 

Buvette

Probably the most adorable place I’ve eaten at in New York.  A tiny hole in the wall, food is prepared and served right at the counter, and menus are printed daily on small little booklets.  An outdoor patio also is available when the season is right, but watching the bustle behind the counter and their incredible practice of putting together dishes right in front of you was a treat.  A little slice of Paris in the big city; the sister restaurant is actually located in the city of lights (or romance? Not sure what the kids are calling Paris these days).  The menu is simple, homey French, done very well. Brunch is sublime. The wine, of course, is French and excellent.

Breakfast done right at Buvette

Breakfast done right at Buvette

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42 Grove Street

 

Virginia’s

Cozy and upscale, the food was so good here my group ordered the menu twice.  Although the menu has changed since I’ve been, their attention to detail and flavor profiles would get me in the door again.  Try the toast, which changes frequently but was a memorable moment when I went.

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647 East 11th street

(212) 658-0182

 

Burke & Wills

Australian themed restaurant in New York, which is awesome, as I’ve had a little obsession with Australia since visiting last summer.  Housed in an absolutely gorgeous space with windowed roof, intimate feeling and lovely decor that harkens of Australia, the food was awesome as well.  The kangaroo loin was delicious, as was the roo burger.  Opt for the cheese plate to finish, then head upstairs to their private cocktail bar with one of the most knowledgeable barkeeps in Manhattan.

Octopus and Kangaroo at Burke and Wills

Octopus and Kangaroo at Burke and Wills

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226  West 79th Street

(646) 823-9251

 

Momofuku Noodle Bar

The ultimate in tasty, David Chang’s ode to ramen is always busy for a reason.  They don’t take reservations, but if you can grab a seat, try the steamed buns with various fillings and don’t skip the Momofuku Ramen, in all of its porky glory. My only regret was not trying their fried chicken, which needs an advance order of at least 48 hours.  Now I know.

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171 1st Avenue

(212) 777-7773

 

Root +Bone

Tasty southern fare done right, by two Top Chef alums.  Adorable decor. The biscuits are wonderful, as are the dishes that come to mind when you think of southern food: the shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and strawberry shortcake are all incredible choices. Comfort food at its best.

Incredible biscuits and the grilled peach salad at Root and Bone

Incredible biscuits and the grilled peach salad at Root and Bone

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200 East 3rd Street

(646) 682-7076

The Finch

This newcomer is the brainchild of Gabe McMackin, an alum of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Gramercy Tavern.  Although being open for less than a year at the time, the spot won their first Michelin star last year, quite a feat for any well-known establishment, but a testament to the incredible food being pumped out of the open kitchen.  The atmosphere is open and beautiful, and the food is thoughtful yet innovative.  Smoked egg yolks, a component of one of their summer dishes last year, are an incredible thing, and introduced to be at this establishment.  It is always refreshing to see avant-garde cooking styles, flavors, and techniques, while still maintaining the natural beauty of the ingredients. A must see for any New Yorker, and especially those in Brooklyn looking for a new and invigorating spot.

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smoked egg yolk, puree of “green things”, and pasta

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212 Greene Avenue

(718) 218-4444

Mialino

What an incredible restaurant.  If you enjoy pasta and Italian cuisine (and who doesn’t?) then this is the place for you.  But I wouldn’t expect Chicken Parmesan.  Mialino does beautiful rustic Italian, what I imagine people in Italy actually eat.  They are inspired by classic Roman cuisine, and claim to be a “modern trattoria.” While I’m not sure if this is the case, I can be sure of the food.  A truly incredible meal, I had cheeses, cured meats, tomato salad and grape bruchetta, and of course pasta.  homemade and beautiful, this is how I want every pasta meal to be.  Malfatti with duck ragu was to die for, as well as garganelli with a tomato and olive sauce.  I would highly recommend this spot to anyone looking for an incredible environment and even better food.

Incredible pasta and, salads, and cured meats

Incredible pasta, salads, and cured meats

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2 Lexington Avenue

Inside Gramercy Park Hotel

(212) 777-2410

Gramercy Tavern

I will always love this place.  There is a reason why this restaurant has been a New York institution for over 20 years.  Having worked there (more on that later), I can say that every person in the kitchen– from the Chefs to the prep cooks– cares about the integrity of ingredients.  It is inspiring as a young chef to be exposed to such talent, and it is clear on the plate, whether of not you have culinary experience. I included so many photos because I couldn’t choose which was my favorite– this place was responsible for one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.  House–cured meats, homemade pastas, and beautifully composed salads are just a taste of what is going on there.  The menu is constantly changing due to seasonality, so these photos are out of date, but the attention to detail in not only the flavors but the presentation will remain the same.  While it is pricey, sometimes it is understandable to spend a great deal if you are receiving an incredible experience.  Sit in the tavern if you cannot make a reservation or would like a more relaxed experience, or sit in the dining room for more special occasions.  Either way, make your way here and prepare to be blown away.

One of the best meals in recent memory

One of the best meals in recent memory

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42 E 20th Street

(212) 477-0777

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Seven Days in Sydney

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A few weeks ago, I landed from a week long trip in Sydney, Australia.  I’ve been peeling from the intense sun and desperate to go back ever since.  It was a whirlwind trip, one that included all the major sights of the city, plus some underground spots and local watering holes introduced to me by those living in Sydney. Classic combo.

So where do I begin? I guess at day one…

I landed in Sydney on Christmas morning.  A lovely and new way to spend the holiday. Christmas can make me a bit awkward, as I’m not always sure (or financially stable enough) about giving the best gifts.  I decided to avoid all that this year.  As soon as I got to Sydney, my friend, whom I was visiting and staying with, wanted to start the day by heading to the beach.  I was not opposed, especially coming from the frigid tundra that is New York right now into mid–summer a world away.

Kinda Hard to say no to this.

Kinda hard to say no to this.

After I was sufficiently thawed out, we headed to dinner at the home of another expat, a coworker of my friend Sierra (of Magic Bar fame), who now lives and works in Sydney. There was quite a spread at dinner, so much food we stuffed ourselves and barely scratched the surface of the amount of food. The most memorable was the cheese plate by far, however. There was baked Camembert, a veiny blue, a sharp cheddar, Brie, and all the fixings. I have never seen a cheese plate this intense outside of a restaurant.

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After rolling ourselves to bed, Sierra and I spent my second day in another beach in Darling Harbour, a quaint and lovely beachside part of Sydney.

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That evening I tried a duck taco with hoisin sauce and a scallion pancake in place of a traditional taco shell. I had come to Sydney with no expectations of food, but after only a few days of sampling the local fare I knew I would have no problem exploring the local food scene.

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On the third day we ate at a small cafe called Ampersand, which was a bookstore and library in addition to being a cafe. I had an incredibly filling breakfast wrap with poached eggs, thick cut bacon, and arugula (or rocket, as it’s called in Oz).

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We walked along the beaches in the afternoon, covering about five miles, with beautiful views of various beaches along the coast and beautiful cliffs where you can see how the sea has beat away at the rock over the course of time.

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That night, I spent a few hours in the kitchen at Gazebo, a Mod Oz cuisine restaurant in the Kings Cross neighborhood of Sydney. The opportunity was favor to me by my host, who is a bartender at the same establishment. After learning a few things about gastronomy, we had a chance to sample the food. I thought I was full the first night I got to Australia. I didn’t know what full was. Each dish was beautiful, well executed, and the flavors were thoughtful and complex. It was inspiring, and reaffirmed my love for gorgeous fine dining food.

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I explored the city the next day, hitting all the touristy spots, and of course, the beautiful opera house and harbor.

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My final days in Australia were spent seeing some things native to Australia. We headed to the Sydney Zoo where we saw koalas and kangaroos hanging out like it was no big thing.

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I also got very close to a giraffe and giggled like a schoolgirl. Generally we monkeyed around the zoo for a few hours (dad jokes are my specialty ).

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After we saw all the animals, we hung out at a small little cove beach that Sierra knew about. It was quiet and the water was clear, so I was happy.

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On my penultimate day, we headed to the Blue Mountains of Australia. This was probably my favorite day in Australia. A two hour drive outside the city took us to paradise in the mountains. Gorgeous views, waterfalls, and a blue haze over the mountains as far as the eye can see. Apparently the blue haze is from evaporating eucalyptus oil. Hiking the area was a nice escape from the city, and the view was far from boring.

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When we got back into the city that night, Sierra took me to Eau De Vie, and incredible cocktail bar in the city. I’ve never seen a place like this. They were using liquid nitrogen to freeze the whip cream that topped their espresso martinis:

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Then there was this. This cocktail had a portion that was cooled with liquid nitrogen and placed on a wooden board. The board, which was quite long, was lit on the other side to burning, and the glass was turned upside down over the smoke to capture the aroma and flavor of the cool liquid on the other side of the board. If you’re ever in Sydney, go here. It was an experience just to watch them make the drinks.

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The drinks, of course, were divine. Sierra had a dark rum drink topped with a sugar cone, and I had a strawberry gin concoction that I had to pace myself to enjoy. It was incredible.

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My final full day in Sydney was spent where I began: the beach. I enjoyed a kangaroo burger overlooking Bondi beach and strolled in the city in the afternoon. That night, we watched the fireworks to celebrate the new year off the harbor and toasted to a week well spent.

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This trip was lovely. Some warmth and time spent with a very close friend in a world away is another experience to check off my bucket list. While I’ll be living extra frugally to counter my lavish trip, it was worth it. Adventure and memories trump saving a few dollars every time.
-L

Repost: 3 Must Experience African Vacations

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This article was passed on to me by a friend, and I’m just helping out and getting their word out there.  Like travel? Check it out.  I’ve wanted to check out Africa for some time now, and this article only makes me that much angrier I still haven’t been.  Enjoy!-L

Find yourself looking up the top restaurants in any city you travel to? Instead of fitting in foodie destinations with your vacation, make the foodie destinations the point of your next vacation. The world is filled with amazing cuisine, with guidebooks urging you toward Paris, New York, Italy, and other well known food meccas. For a truly unique foodie experience, you need to look past the well known locations and explore food destinations off the beaten path. Skip Europe and Asia for this round of foodie delights and travel to Africa for a diverse food adventure.

South Africa

Cape Town has had many cultural influences over the years, depending on the European

country that was settling it or using it for trade routes in its early history. While it’s a distinct area

with its own identity now, you see the melting pot of influences, especially in the food, which

is sometimes called rainbow cuisine as a result. One particular area to browse on your food

exploration is Franschhoek Valley, home to a massive amount of vineyards. The gourmet food

movement in South Africa is a must see. Some restaurants to explore on and around the wine

estate includes Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill, Dutch East Restaurant, and Haut Cabriere

Cellar Restaurant, as Epitourean.com explains.

Ethiopia

You may have enjoyed Ethiopian foods at that “authentic” restaurant in your home town, but

now it’s time to experience the truly authentic cuisine of Ethiopia itself. You’re headed to Addis

Ababa specifically, the capital city of Ethiopia. The main characteristics of Ethiopian food are

vegetable and spicy meat dishes, served on top of injera flatbread, according to Lonely Planet.

You don’t use utensils with this cuisine, as the injera acts as your fork. Start your journey off at

Yod Abyssinia Traditional Food restaurant to dive into Ethiopian food culture. Follow up with

a trip to Tomoca to experience the wonderful coffee this region has access to. From there,

you have a grand variety of cuisines to explore, whether you want to sample the Ethiopian

take on French food or head to the streets for street vendors that will make you want to live in

the country forever. Don’t count on swiping your card at all of the restaurants and street food

vendors, however. You will want cash in hand. Ideally, you will have already converted currency

before you left home. Avoid ATMs in foreign countries unless you’re really confident that they’re

on the up and up, as the Lifelock profile on Lifelock warns about the dangers of ATM skimming.

If you find yourself cash light, go directly to a bank or currency conversion service, so you can

continue your eating adventure without long interruptions.

Egypt

Egypt is far more than its tombs and pyramids. The long lived culture of Egypt has contributed

to a fascinating food scene that is a true high point of this country. Egyptian cuisine is

particularly delightful for those who enjoy bean and vegetable heavy dishes. It’s right next to

the Nile, after all, so the food culture is heavily influenced by crop

Tasty African Treats

Tasty African Treats

growth. Like Ethiopian food,

Egyptian food uses a flatbread as a primary utensil. Its bread is called Eish Masri. Egyptian food

also has a great deal of crossover with Eastern Mediterranean food, as Cairo360 points out.

Alongside traditional dishes such as koshari, which is a lentil, rice, and macaroni mixture, you

also see kebab and falafel. It’s also quite heavy on the garlic and onions. Cairo has the largest

concentration of restaurants, with some recommendations leading you to El Mashrabia for

traditional food, Noon for a contemporary take, and Al Mokhtar for Lebanese influence.

Nathan Bower Nathan is a foodie blogger who Instagrams pictures of every meal he has. He doesn’t have his own blog yet, but he’s planning on starting one real soon with a few close friends. Nathan grew up in a melting pot area of Washington, D.C, so he has been surrounded by ethnic foods his entire life. His favorite cuisine is Indian, and favorite dish massaman curry.

Welcome 2014!

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It’s been a while, guys. It’s been a crazy new year.  I hope it’s been awesome for everyone, and I’m back now, and have plenty more food–related fun to share.

For New Years, The Russian and I traveled to Maine for some serious R&R.  We rented a small cabin in the middle of nowhere..

Pictured here.

Pictured here.

(middle of nowhere pictured here)

(middle of nowhere pictured here)

..and enjoyed the sounds of the crackling fire.

Pictured here.

Pictured here.

The cabin we stayed at (thanks, Airbnb!) was on the property of a farm, and I was able to buy farm fresh meats, eggs, and maple syrup.

CRW_7752It was incredible, as I have never had farm fresh products like this before.  I needed to make something simple to showcase the beautiful meat, so I decided to make some tasty pork burgers. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

Ground pork [$5]

Buns [$3]

Cole Slaw mix [$2]

Milk [$1.50]

Mayo [$2]

Apples [.50 cents]

BBQ sauce [$3]

Directions:

Form the pork into patties and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I put the patties in a pan with some leftover compound butter I had made the night before, so there was a lemony flavor and some parsley on the patties.  I also threw some garlic cloves in the pan also to just lend some flavor to the meat. These items are not necessary, but they add some flavor.

It really makes a difference, folks.

It really makes a difference, folks.

While the patties are cooking (they take about 5 or 6 minutes per side for a 1/2 lb patty), I made some simple cole slaw by taking about a 1/4 cup each of mayo and milk and a dash of vinegar and whisking it with the mix and some julienned apple.

To make the burgers, I topped each with some BBQ sauce and some of the slaw. The crunch of the slaw with the juicy burger is a good flavor combo, and the BBQ adds just enough smokiness.

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Sorry this isn’t the best picture, but you get the idea.

-L

 

Hiking Day and Roasted Chicken

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CRW_7608Right before it got to frigid to even think about going outside, The Russian and I went for a hike at Noanet peak in Dover. You can see all the way to Boston from the top of the peak, and the climb is beautiful.

It's there, in the background.

It’s there, in the background.

It was nice to get out of the city, even for a few hours, and enjoy nature. I also got to flex my photography skills, as I studied photography in my youth.

I tried to get artsy and stuff.

I tried to get artsy and stuff.

Even puppy had a good time, maybe even too much of a good time once he found the mud.

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When we got to the top of the peak, we had some steak sandwiches I made, and I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

They were delicious.

They were delicious.

When we got home, however, I made some easy roasted chicken to end the day. The simple chicken with gravy, potatoes and green beans was the perfect end to a really relaxing day, and it’s easy enough to make any night.

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Ingredients:

Chicken breasts [$4]

1 bag potatoes [$2]

green beans [$3]

chicken stock [$2]

chicken gravy mix [$1]

Any spices or garlic that you have on hand

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400.

Salt and pepper the chicken, then place in a roasting pan with chicken stock (about half a cup), white wine if you have any, a squeeze of lemon juice, rosemary and thyme sprigs (if you have any), garlic, and butter. Roast for about 40 minutes or until juicy and cooked through.

For the potatoes, chop and add olive oil, rosemary, garlic powder, and any other spices you would like like red pepper flake, etc. Roast for about 40 minutes as well.

To make flavorful gravy, follow the package instructions but I like to use the broth the chicken has cooked in after I take it out of the oven instead of water. Strain the broth to take out any solids before serving for a nice, smooth gravy. The roasted stock with the garlic and rosemary and thyme adds a great flavor that pairs perfectly with the chicken.

For the green beans, I just sauteed them in oil with sliced garlic, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Make this easy dinner any weeknight and enjoy!

-L

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Turkey trimmed to the nines: Thanksgiving at five luxury hotels

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Guys, click the link below, it was passed on to me by a travel site for those who cannot cook this year, there’s still time for you to head to one of these luxury hotels (I wish!) and try some delicious food without lifting a finger.  It’s not exactly frugal, but it’s the time of the year to splurge.

Enjoy!

-L

Link:

Turkey trimmed to the nines: Thanksgiving at five luxury hotels.

I barely made it back but I still have a recipe

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I made it back from Camp Bisco, guys.  Just barely.  It was a great weekend, full of friends, music, and pretty decent weather. And dancing.  Lots of dancing.  When I first got back from Bisco I slept 24 hours, and I still have yet to get out of bed.

Maybe I just dance too hard, just like the rest of my friends

Maybe I just dance too hard, just like the rest of my friends

The funny thing is, I’m sure I didn’t have as an intense of a time as other people, though.  Guess The Russian and I are just getting old.

Either way, there were plenty of food vendors at Bisco as well, but one in perticular that stood out was the strawberry lemonade stand.  We drank at least two big cups of these a day, which kept us refreshed and hydrated.

YUM. Perfect for festivals

YUM. Perfect for festivals

Since the vendors made these by hand and fresh for each order, I was able to snag the recipe so those who didn’t attend the magic playland that is bisco can still enjoy the delicious drink of the festival. This would be awesome with some Bicardi Limon or citrus vodka added as well, to make the lemonade a little more grown–up.

Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients

granulated sugar [$3]

strawberries in syrup [about $4 for a container]

2 lemons [$1]

Directions:

Add ice to a glass.  add about2 teaspoons of sugar per cup of lemonade, or more to taste.  Add Strawberries in syrup, then juice a lemon into the glass, adding the juiced halves to the glass as well for more lemony flavor.  Top with water and shake for a summertime treat.

The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made large or small, and it can be made into a party drink simply by adding citrus flavored liquor or topping with prosecco. Just whip some up, lay in the grass, and enjoy some great summer music.

-L