2 Jews, An Italian, and A Food Festival

As a New Yorker, I spend a lot of time celebrating other people’s cultures through the city’s vibrant restaurant scene, but Sunday was all about the traditional foods of my fellow chosen ones. Thanks to The Workmen’s Circle “Taste of Jewish Culture” event, I ate  latkes, pickles, corn beef, falafel, chopped liver, and most importantly, the three B’s: Babka, Borscht, and Brisket. And I was lucky enough to be joined by my good friends Pamela and Michael.

Walking through the various stands brought back so many memories… Helping my grandma make rugelach when I was too little to reach the counter, Shabbat dinner centered around my mom’s secret brisket recipe (Heinz Ketchup and Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix), and the annual Hanukkah party I threw at my old apartment in Harlem. I am so proud of my heritage, and without getting too political, now feels like an important time to honor it. It was also nice to share this experience with Michael, who was eating some of these foods for the first time, and creating new memories of his own.

Big thanks go out to all the musicians, volunteers, and chefs who made this amazing event possible. My restaurant to do list just got a whole lot longer. Below are some snapshots from the festival, and links to my favorite vendors.

*Breads Bakery – 18 E. 16th Street

*Mile End – 53 Bond Street / 97A Hoyt Street (Brooklyn)

*Shelsky’s – 141 Court Street (Brooklyn)

*Peck’s Homemade – 455A Myrtle Ave (Brooklyn)

*Kossar’s Bialys – 367 Grand Street

*The Pickle Guys – 49 Essex Street

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Meet Me In…

Vacation #2 of the summer found me in Montauk, surrounded by amazing beaches, super fresh seafood, and the constant temptation to quote  “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Here’s the low down on where to stay and what to eat in Montauk, along with some snapshots from my trip.

LODGING: Windward Shores

EATS: Goldberg’s Bagel, Lunch aka The Lobster Roll, Clam Bar, Surfside Inn, Gosman’s, John’s Drive-In

WARDROBE: All bathing suits, all the time… Except for lobster bibs with maxi dresses at dinner

Team Brooklyn takes Cape Cod

Every year my college friends and I spend July 4th weekend celebrating Kristina’s birthday at her house in Cape Cod. We always hit up the beach, the seafood shop, and the local “Packie”, which is New England-speak for the liquor store, and Kristina’s parents are the best, most perfect hosts. This annual trek up north has seen us go from single to engaged to married to expecting, from playing Beer Pong and Kings all night to watching Wes Anderson movies, from loading up on Miller Light to making ginger-grapefruit cocktails with Bulleit Bourbon, and from a group of friends to straight up family. The memories from these weekends are priceless, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Here are some snapshots from Team Brooklyn’s 2014 trip to The Cape. Happy birthday, Xstina!

Birthday Instas

“Another Year, Another Freaking Incredible Birthday” is something I’m lucky enough to be able to say. Thanks to everyone who got the last year of my twenties off to a good start. Here are some highlights… Insta-style!

Yogurtland Party courtesy of my Fuse Family! Pic stitch courtesy of the great Mary Chaplin!

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Two of my Favorite Ladies at my Favorite Bar

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Friends, Presents, and a Flammable Birthday Card

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Not Birthday Dinner at Jacob’s Pickles

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It’s not a selfie if Hodapp takes it…

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Ingredients for a perfect bridal shower

Start with a beautiful bride…

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Go to an amazing restaurant…

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Gather your favorite lady friends…

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Put out some pretty flowers…

Eat a ton of yummy food and drink a good number of cocktails…

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Give a gift only this particular bride would appreciate…

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Send people off with a fun favor…

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And prepare for what comes later…

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Congrats Laura!! So excited for the wedding 🙂

To check out Matt & Laura’s also perfect engagement party, click here!

Where to eat and drink in Harlem

A list of places that will make you go Brooklyn who? Downtown… why? Welcome to my favorite neighborhood spots.

TRUFA

You could go downtown to get the classic brunch you always dream of, or do it uptown at Trufa and only pay $8. Said brunch includes 2 eggs, homemade home fries, salad, and non-wonder bread toast. And after brunch, you could stay for lunch and dinner as well. Other perks include impeccable customer service, not having to fight anyone for a table or wait four thousand years to sit down, and a ton of other eating options in the event that eggs aren’t your thing. Those options include one of my favorite dinners, the portobello mushroom burger, which comes with hand cut fries (or a salad if you ask nicely) and again only totals $8. On that note, there are plenty of veggie-friendly options, which are a rarity in Harlem. The last thing I want to mention might seem small, but for me sealed the deal on Trufa. The first time I went there to get take out, it was one of those impossibly hot NYC nights where the humidity was tangible and 90 degrees would be a reprieve. Directly after placing my order, they offered me a glass of ice water while I waited. Like I said, small thing, but by taking care like that, they are sure to keep their customers coming back. Especially this one.

CHIPPED CUP

Coffee and sweets. That’s what you go to Chipped Cup for. Oh, and tea… and bagels… and a quiet place to work… and a place where you can sit on antique couches… and open mic nights… and to post up with a friend on a cold winter’s day… Okay, I guess there’s more than just the coffee and sweets. This is one of those coffee shops you can disappear in for hours and enjoy every second of your time. You’d never know you were above 14th street (or 114th street for that matter) by the decor and vibe, other than the fact that you have enough room to spin in a circle with your arms out and not hit anybody. Something I wouldn’t recommend doing with coffee in your hand. The prices are good as well, and when you order to stay, they use real china and mugs, which is always light years more pleasing than the standard paper cup. It’s also right next to Harlem Public, which means it’s a great first date stop in the event you decide to keep things going. And if you end up testing this theory out, obvi let me know how it goes.

TONALLI CAFE & BAR

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I literally just got back from eating at this pretty new spot from the same people that run the pretty old spot Picante. Tonalli has a full bar and a fully intriguing Italian-slanted menu that still has vestiges of it’s owner’s Latin food. For instance crabmeat avocado dumplings. So good! My hearts of palm/avocado/cucumber salad… overdressed but amazing! This place has some service kinks to work out, but the menu is A-okay! And the tables full of Harlem hipsters seemed to agree. Also, Little Mermaid was playing when I walked in, so consider me sold.

JIN RAMEN

*Featuring the great Anikka 🙂

Authentic, delicious, ramen made with the stuff ramen’s supposed to be made from. For my longer love note to this noodle heaven click here. Also, after you get your slurp on, keep the party going next door at Chokolat for incredible espresso and coffee creations. Their cupcakes are pretty darn good too.

HARLEM PUBLIC

Full disclosure, I haven’t had the chance to enjoy Harlem Public yet, but I did step foot in it once, and that along with countless good reviews from friends secured it’s spot on this list. Word to the wise: meeting for a quick drink on a Saturday night of one of the biggest football games ever doesn’t usually work out. That’s what happened to me. But in the three minutes I stood debating whether my friend and I should stay, I saw an amazing selection of beers and cocktails, a comfortable/cozy decor, and an S ton of people that beat me to the Harlem Public punch. I gotta go back there. Mostly because they have brunch now. Also, we all know my bias towards bars with the word “public” in their name. I rest my case.

COCCOLA

Eep! This is another place I haven’t been, but as soon as I heard about it I emailed all my Harlem friends and have gotten some pretty great feedback. That said,  gourmet+pizza+Harlem leaves little margin for error. Trying this place out ASAP.

TANTO DULCE

Tanto Dulce was the first place I discovered in my old hood that had amazing, non-bodega coffee. They had something that can be pretty hard to find in Harlem, espresso. And while it was the coffee that brought me in, it was the food that kept me coming back. Their teeny-tiny six seat setup might skimp on eating space, but makes up for it in flavor and portions. Any pastry, especially the tres leche cake and chocolate croissants, will hit that special part of your belly, and the sandwiches don’t disappoint either. The bread they use is out of this world, and in true bakery/cafe fashion, you can buy loaves of it to bring home. Another fun detail is the good college indie rock music that plays from an old boom box hidden under one of the booths. Just beware when getting a coffee to go because walking and enjoying a latte at the same time can get tricky for some people… Or maybe just me.

 

Honorable mentions go out to: Picante, La Condesa, and the best bodega ever, Nadal 🙂

A night out in Chelsea

For everyone out there who likes to have drinks, dinner, and dessert all on the same block, this post is for you.

Last night I joined up with Andy and Stacilyn for a two block Tour de Chelsea. We started for a quick drink at Jake’s Saloon on 23rd and 9th. It was quiet, full of wood paneling, and just what the doctor ordered. The actually Irish bartender poured a perfect pint of Guinness, which isn’t an easy find in the isle of Manhattan. (I think I just quoted Death Cab… Deal with it.)

Once sufficiently chilled out, we set off for the main attraction. After reading about Bombay Talkie on Serious Eats, I was left with three words looping endlessly in my brain. Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. And on our one block jaunt to the restaurant, there wasn’t time for too many saliva-inducing repetitions. While most places would seem toasty compared to the 20 degree winter night, when entering Bombay Talkie we were immediately struck by the restaurant’s warmth that was only partly due to the heating system.

The decor was dark and cozy. Tall booths against the etched wood wall allow for privacy, while a long banquet table on the other side would be perfect for a small party. There was also a bar area playing Bollywood films against a neon sign listing signature cocktails like “Truth is Beauty, “A New Phase of Life,” and “Love Story.” Or maybe they were just listing Taylor Swift songs… Regardless, romantic, serene, and inviting are all words that would fit the bill there.

bombayBut enough of that. Let’s talk about the food. Known (by me and maybe other people) for their homemade naan, we ordered the cilantro/red chili flake and onion/sesame  seed options. To go with it, we got the cucumber raita, and the cool cucumber yogurt was the perfect balance to the spice of the bread. You’re gonna notice aside from Chelsea, the other theme for the night was carbs. And speaking of carbs, once we demolished the naan, it was time for the Cashew. Jasmine. Rice. (Which, FYI, is actually called Pulao)

To go along with the Pulao, we got the Biryani, the Baigan Bharta, and the Sukhi Harabara Beans. Each contained a palate boggling burst of flavor that was beyond comprehension and explanation. The dishes’ flavors were even more complex than their names. I feel like despite eating Indian food countless times, last night was the first time I ate Indian food. The combination of spices, texture, and freshness caused a blanket of silence to engulf the table. And believe me, the three of us have NEVER been at a loss for words. The green beans tasted like they had just come from the garden, the eggplant mixture had hints of the Middle Eastern food my dad raised me on, and while I didn’t try the Biryani (stupid vegetarianism), there wasn’t one speck of it left, so I guess it was alright.

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The meal ended and we were full. Full enough for the following exchange:

“Stacilyn: I never want to eat again, which would be bad cause I weigh 95 pounds…

Andy: My cankles weigh 95 pounds.”

So of course from there we took a walk across the street to Billy’s Bakery. The 50 steps totally counted as enough exercise to justify the yellow daisy/chocolate buttercream cupcake that followed. Simple, sweet, delicious. Billy’s always delivers.

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Next time you’re hanging out on 9th bt 21st and 23rd, I urge you to go to any of these three places. But if you have to choose just one, go to Bombay Talkie. Stat. And then get a cupcake while you’re at it… And then maybe a beer too… I’m not so good at this whole restraint thing.

Blogspiration

I’m all about the great blog action taking place over at I Spy DIY, and was recently inspired by this post chronicling her DIY apartment decor. As a lady who just moved into my own place, I’m also trying to make my house a home, and was totes stoked about her idea to make magnets out of Instagram photos over at StickyGram. You get 9 personalized magnets for 15 bucks! Naturally, I made mine out of all my food pics, and the fruits of said labors are below.

Thanks I Spy DIY!!

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