NYSF REVIEW: Patacon Pisao and their Venezuelan Classics

Patacon Pisao
A new cool Review by Daniel Miles Lee Hue

We’ve all been there before: it’s 1am on a Friday night and you’re walking around the Lower East Side with the munchies. You’re looking for something substantially indulgent to satisfy “the craving”. If you happen upon Essex Street then Patacon Pisao has you covered!

Patacon Pisao
4th LOWER-EAST-SIDE STORE FRONT

Patacon Pisao has been serving their acclaimed take on Venezuelan classics since 2005. Starting as a food truck in Inwood the restaurant formerly named El Dugout was an after nightclub meal staple. Since then Patacon Pisao has opened one location in Elmhurst and has found a comfortable home in their L.E.S. location as of 2015.

To start my tasting I ordered up a batch of tequenos (are fried cheeses sticks wrapped in dough). Offering crispy crunchiness on the outside and piping hot cheesiness on the in the inside the tequenos were fried just right. The dip size sticks also make for the ideal vessels to sample Patacon Pisao’s house made sauces. The three flavors Verde ( salsa verde), Hot (flavorful habanero sauce), and Rosada (sweet and creamy chipotle mayo) come in amply filled bottles to mix and match on top of everything.

Patacon Pisao
Tequenos are fried cheeses sticks wrapped in dough

As for the main dishes we were encouraged to try two signature favorites. The restaurant’s most widely ordered menu items are the “De Pabellon” chachapa (sweet corn cakes) and the “BLaTin” patacon (fried green plantains).

Patacon PisaoThe “BLaTin” patacon is a cleverly named twist on the blt. The deep fried green plantain sandwich is served with double smoked bacon, avocado, salsa verde, and of course lettuce & tomato.

The “De Pabellon” chachapa comes with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and fried queso blanco served between two sweet corn cakes. The sweet corn cakes are the star of this behemoth sandwich, which I was forced to tackle with a knife and fork.

Patacon Pisao
The De Pabellon

I definitely recommend you come hungry or with a friend. All for about $15 both dishes were served in very healthy sized portions, certainly enough to split and share. Aside from their over 15 “original creations” Patacon Pisao’s does offer a build your own option for their patacons, tacuchos (burritos), cachapas, arepas, and pepitos (paninies).

Patacon PisaoI enjoyed great conversation with the staff while listening to music spanning from Classic Latin to current Indie Pop tracks. It was clear upon entering, the staff is excited about the food they make, and they look forward to sharing it with their patrons.

Small in size, big on flavor, and bigger in portion size, Patacon Pisao’s vibrant Venezuelan atmosphere made for a delightfully filling experience.

@DanielMilesLeeHue

REVIEW: Old Traditional Polish Food Truck

Polish Food Truck

A new yummy Review by Kate E. O’Hara

With the morning light still coming through the midtown buildings, the line of customers was already taking shape. Through the muted sunbeams stands the Old Traditional Polish food truck, with its funky faux wood and appetizing aroma.

When I arrived I met Eva. I had spoken earlier in the week with Eva and learned a bit more about the history of the Old Traditional Polish food truck. The truck was started four years ago in March (Yay! Happy Anniversary!) by Eva’s husband, Grzegorz (Greg in English) Gryzlak, and his best friend Przemyslaw (Mek in English) Motyka. It truly is a family business with all hands helping out. Eva works full time in another profession yet is able to organize and coordinate all of the catering inquiries, marketing, and public relations. And, she handles them with a smile. She has a warm, friendly, welcoming demeanor that adds that family touch to any of the classic and traditional Polish fare being served. Eva explains, “The Old Traditional Polish Cuisine food truck has became a destination for eaters looking for food reminiscent of their Polish grandmothers, and eaters who are new to Polish fare alike.”

Eva packed me a lunch that was mouthwatering by the smell alone. As I walked back to my office the thought crossed my mind that kielbasa and pierogis would not survive the Styrofoam packing, but that was not true.
Here’s what I opened. What a view, right?!

Polish Food Truck
Kielbasa and Potato Cheese Pierogies. Photo by Kate E. O’Hara

This “lite” combo comes with four potato and cheese pierogies and a kielbasa link, pickles, mustard and a slice of bread. For me, Kielbasa is typically too salty but not so this time. The light char of the grill with a hint of smokiness was unbelievable; the crunch of the skin, with a pop of flavor I am not sure how to describe it other than, “wow.” The mustard (my new favorite condiment) is imported from where else but Poland, and is so good I could have eaten it straight from my cup (ok I did). It is stone ground and certainly added another dimension to the Kielbasa, but not needed. The imported pickles were sour with a mild, sweet finish—and also a couple of slices of soft seedless rye. This all sits next to potato and cheese pierogies which were small bundles of deliciousness: soft dough, packed with velvety savory contents.

By now I’m thirsty so it was perfect that Eva packed me some drinks. All drinks served by the Old Traditional Polish food truck are products of Poland (I love the authenticity straight on through!) I drank Nałęczowianka; natural carbonated mineral water. It had lighter carbonation than America seltzer, which I found to be more quenching. I also tried Tymbark cherry apple drink, which was in a bottle with a very cool flip top. It was lighter and less sugary than I expected. I found it refreshing with a stronger cherry than apple flavor, with no heavy aftertaste that can sometimes detract from what you’re eating.

Polish Food TruckWith a little hydration, I was onto my second container: the pierogies!

The potato and cheese are a must on my return trip. But, there are a few that might be in the running as well. The meat pierogi was seasoned mildly, almost too mild but when you added a forkful of sautéed onions it brought it all together in a scrumptious bite. Then there was the sauerkraut pierogi with the earthiness of mushrooms that did not fall short of a delicate flavor combination. Lastly, was the spinach pierogi which was an incredible way to eat your daily dose of veggies. Just add in the subtleness of the cheese, and it just might have been my favorite. Or was it the meat…or the…?

All I could say when I opened my two lunch boxes was, “My goodness, I can’t eat all this food.” Guess what? I ate all the food. I was as stuffed as the pierogi with little ambition to do anything but take a nap. But I knew with time (5-7 minutes?) I would have enough room in my stomach to fit a Pączki which would give me the lift I needed. The Pączki did not disappoint.

Polish Food Truck
Pączkis: pastries traditional to Polish cuisine. Photo by Kate E. O’Hara

Pączki are pastries traditional to Polish cuisine. They are said to be similar to doughnuts. I never heard of, nor ate anything like them before. I can’t believe what I have been missing! The dough was almost bread-like—sweet and airy with a light crust that can be pulled apart to uncover the rose jam center. As if that wasn’t enough indulgence, the Old Traditional Polish Pączkis are dusted in a healthy layer of powdered sugar.

If you can’t catch the Old Traditional Polish food truck on the streets of NYC, they also do catering with a special menu that includes fare not found on the truck. And, their future plans include incorporating delivery services. Delivery? Oh, that could be dangerous…

13 health benefits of Low Carb edible fish

fish

Fish it the healthiest meat in the world. It comes loaded with essential nutrients including Vitamin D and protein and these are in high concentration such as you can find in no other foods today. Fish also has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and these are very important to the brain and body in general. Here are 13 health benefits associated with low carb edible fish: –

  1. Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke

Due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, low carb edible fish has been found to be very effective in lowering the risk of heart attack and related complications such as stroke. Some of the best fish include trout, salmon, tuna and sardines among others.

  1. Prevents against blood pressure

Another great benefit associated with omega-3 fatty acids in fish especially tuna is that it helps prevent against high blood pressure. Tests carried out have shown that people who eat fish regularly are able to control high blood pressure or even prevent it from developing.

  1. Lowers Triglycerides

Eating low carb fish lowers triglyceride levels in the body which also lowers the level of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. High levels of triglyceride also indicate that you have low levels of HDL (high-density lipoproteins). Your body needs less LDL and more HDL and the best way to achieve this is by lowering the level of triglyceride.

fish
Lowers the risk of heart disease.
  1. Enhances cognitive functionality

Eating fish may protect the brain from age-related deterioration and increase grey matter which helps regulate memory and emotions. Eating fish more often will help slow down the rate of cognitive decline and enhance the level of brain functionality.

  1. Fights obesity

Omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish can help reduce the danger of obesity. It also improves your body’s response to insulin while at the same time stimulating a hormone known as leptin which regulates food intake and body weight. Leptin also enhances metabolism in the body.

  1. Immune System

Low carb fish such as tuna are rich in selenium which is an antioxidant that enhances your body’s immune system. This in return helps the body fight infections, diseases and sicknesses.

  1. Aids in the formation of red blood cells

Fish is rich in B vitamins which is essential in the formation and maintenance of red blood cells. It also increases energy levels, increases metabolism rate and strengthens immune system.

  1. Prevents against cancer
fish
Can they prevent cancer?

Studies have shown that eating low carb fish can help reduce the risk of different types of cancer including breast and kidney cancer.

  1. Prevents against depression

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help fight depression and other bipolar disorder. It also helps increase the usefulness of antidepressant treatment significantly

  1. Lowers the risk of autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes are common but eating fish could help lower their risk in a great way. These diseases occur when healthy body tissues are attacked mistakenly by the immune system.

  1. Protects eye vision in old age

As we age, our eye vision degenerates and this leads to cases of blindness and vision impairment. However, eating low carb fish can help prevent against macular degeneration.

  1. Helps in the development of the brain

The omega-3 fatty acid found in fish is very essential for growth and development. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is especially important for eye and brain development and pregnant women are especially encourage to eat fish during the pregnancy period.

  1. Helps reduce inflammation

The fatty acid in fish can help reduce inflammation in the body. As such, it will help prevent against multiple inflammatory conditions including psoriasis and arthritis.

What makes fish great is the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and other unique minerals which are beneficial to the body. You should eat fish regularly but since it’s highly perishable, always make sure you go for those which are fresh or canned.

 

fish
Jerin Merina

About the Author: Jerin Merina is the editor of CookingDetecive.com. She is absolutely in love with food blogs. She likes to write about interesting cooking tips, healthy food and top lists of kitchen gadgets. You can follow her on Twitter @JerinMerina

One Night in Brooklyn: Citrico Review

Citrico
A new exciting Review by Tiara Budd

On a wintery cold Friday night, I made my way to Brooklyn to warm up with authentic Mexican food from the quaint and cozy, Citrico restaurant in Prospect Heights. As soon as I opened the door, I instantly felt like I was in a family’s dining room, getting ready to chow down on some delicious eats. Once I was seated, the true feasting began! I was fortunate enough to stuff my face with the most popular dishes at the restaurant and trust me – you should do the same.

Appetizers:

Guacamole

Citrico
Citrico’s Guacamole. Huge chunks of Avocado…

Now this was NOT your average happy hour guacamole that a waitress slams down for you and your buddies and to your dismay, it’s watered down and bland. Citrico’s guacamole is filled with flavor that melts in your mouth. There’s a slight kick to the dish and I loved the rare addition of pomegranates. As I chewed, the pomegranate seeds exploded in my mouth and added a surprising and scrumptious twist to the meal. A few more bites in and the cilantro attacked my tastebuds (in a good way, of course!) along with huge chunks of avocado. Since this was just one of my appetizers, I was eager to keep room in my stomach for the rest of my meals.

Jalapeños Rellenos

Next up on the menu were the overwhelmingly popular jalapeños rellenos. The owner, Noor, warned me that these poppers were extremely spicy but I waved off her concern and thought that I could handle the beautifully plated set of three appetizer. I have never been more wrong in my life! I proudly took a huge bite of the popper and immediately desperately reached for my water glass. While gasping for air, my tastebuds picked up on the flavor from the Oaxaca cheese and spinach. After I could breathe again, I tried to examine how a tiny popper could pack such a major punch. Noor explained to me that each popper is unique, so what might have been an extremely heat-filled one for me, could have been a somewhat mild popper for another person. I became fascinated with the sauce that the poppers sat in and was soon eagerly eating and scraping my plate for that. The sauce is a seasoning called achiote, which reminded me of “marinara with a twist.”

CitricoEntrees:

Pescado Tacos

When the famous fish tacos were put in front of me, I feasted my eyes on the beautiful dish. The Instagram-worthy two tacos came rolled in a purple tortilla and were topped with fresh lettuce and sprinkled with chipotle mayo. I bit into the tacos and gasped with pleasure at the refreshing taste. The bite-sized tacos are tilapia fish and fried to perfection. The crispy skin is mouth-watering and made with love. The generous helping of chipotle mayo adds a slight kick to the dish that isn’t spicy or overbearing. Lettuce helps give you that “I’m eating healthy” thought and makes you feel less guilty about scarfing down two tacos in the matter of five minutes.

Torta de Milanesa de Pollo

The torta de milanesa de pollo is a simple and huge chicken sandwich that is stuffed to the brim. Cut straight down the middle, you can look inside the sandwich and know that you’re in for a nap immediately after devouring. The sandwich tastes just as amazing as it smells and you’re truly in for a treat. So what exactly is in this heavenly meal? Breaded chicken, avocado, beans, lettuce, tomato, jalapeños, and chipotle mayo all come together to create a sandwich you’ll be raving about for the next few days. The bread is toasted just right, not a burn mark in sight. The chicken is seasoned, tender, and made me take a piece of the bread off so I could figure out how to replicate the dish. The black beans make a surprising appearance but not in a bad way at all. Once again, the avocados and tomatoes are so fresh that I wouldn’t be shocked that these are picked and pocketed by the employees themselves. Another A+ dish and another notch on my belt unbuttoned for this meal.

Citrico
Pescado Tacos and Torta de Milanesa de Pollo.

Overall thoughts

Citrico is the perfect place to go if you want to taste authentic, flavorful Mexican cuisine. The owner is attentive, talkative, and willing to give you insight into what you’re eating for each and every meal. Since it’s a small restaurant, big groups should probably call ahead if looking for space, but with the great customer service, there shouldn’t be a problem. Each dish is unique and made specialized, just like the restaurant’s patrons. As I was grabbing my coat and walking back out into the blistering cold, all I could think about was how many more days it would be until I came back.

Foods to eat and avoid while Planning a Pregnancy

Planning a Pregnancy

Motherhood is one of the pivotal and most desirable moments in any woman’s life. Probably, it has been a while you and your partner have been talking about having a baby, but it’s not happening. Irrespective of whether you are planning to get pregnant in the near future or some months down the line; you need to prepare your body for pregnancy by getting your diet on track.

Your food and lifestyle has a great influence on your reproductive system. In fact, the food you ate in the past also makes a difference; but that is beyond your control. To be on the safer side, it is advised to make changes to your diet well in advance. Not that you would get pregnant if you consume a salmon salad but all these changes have an effect on your ability to conceive.

We list some foods that maintain the hormonal balance in such a way that it boosts your fertility. Including them in your diet will make way for a healthy mother and a healthy baby:

  • Proteins and folic acid: Go for meals that are rich in proteins. Though it is good to go for animal proteins but do not underestimate the importance of plant proteins. As per a research study at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who consumed more of animal protein were 39% more likely to have infertility problems. Beans, lentils, tofu, edamame, and nuts are plentiful sources of plant protein.

Folic acid should form an important part of your diet as it ensures a sound pregnancy and reduces the risk of birth defects. Before pregnancy, you must consume about 400-600 mg of folic acid while you should increase your consumption to 800 mg during pregnancy. Foods rich in folates include fortified whole grains, fortified cereals, vegetables, and citrus fruits. Many vegetables such as spinach, romaine, arugula, broccoli, and other dark leafy greens have very high proportions of folate, thus eating a lot of leafy greens are a good idea. Not only, these are recommended for women, but also men who get rich doses of folate produce healthier sperm.

  • Whole milk products: Dairy products are rich sources of calcium and protein. Whole milk and whole milk products are richer sources of healthy fats and calcium as compared to skimmed milk. So you can trade in skimmed milk or low fat products for whole milk or a cup of full fat yoghurt.

Planning a Pregnancy

  • Omega-3 fats: Omega-3 fats are known for a plethora of benefits and not only protect you, but are essential for the health of your baby as well. These oils protect your baby from brain injuries. Also at a time like this, your hormones are active and fluctuating, which is likely to cause anxiety or depression. Omega-3 fatty oils keep this sudden surge of emotions in control. Flax seeds, olive oil, cod-liver oil and almonds are some rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. If you are a non-vegetarian then wild fish such as salmon, shrimp, tilapia and catfish have good amounts of omega-3 fats and you can consume them quite a few times a week.
  • Prenatal vitamins: If you are taking a balanced diet then it caters to all your nutritional requirements; however, prenatal vitamins take care of other essential nutrients that you might be missing on. There are different kinds of multi-vitamin supplements available, but it’s better to consult your doctor before you decide on a particular one.
  • Fruits and vegetables: No matter how well you take care of yourself, there is no substitute for fruits and green leafy vegetables. These are powerhouses of essential nutrients and antioxidants and are must-eat super foods. Among fruits, citrus fruits, pomegranates, bananas and pineapples should certainly form a major chunk of your diet while cabbage, broccoli and potatoes are the vegetables you should be consuming. All of these supplements your body with nutrients such as iron, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B thus ensuring that you have a healthy body to care of the pregnancy process.

What to avoid?

Other than making the above necessary additions, it is important to avoid a few things when you are trying to conceive. Smoking, consuming caffeine, drinking, neglecting exercise/extreme exercise, BPA exposure are some of the things you should steer clear from. Drinks which contain high-sugar content are also responsible for fertility problems. Most of these foods interfere with the normal functioning of your reproductive system or deplete you of essential nutrients such as calcium so it’s a good idea to avoid them altogether.

Including the above mentioned super foods in your diet becomes quite easy if you can do it from the convenience of your home. At Ocado, you can shop all what you want and with the regular offers on products you can avail guaranteed savings. These foods are anyway economical but making some extra savings doesn’t harm anyone. So eat a well-balanced diet and enjoy the beautiful feeling.

The Key to Unlocking Awesome Tasting Coffee

awesome coffee

In my granddad’s day you had a choice of Tea or Coffee where milk and sugar were the only enhancements that could be added. They were indeed simple times. Granddad was happy then but does nothing but moan when visiting a coffee vendor’s stall about all the choices he has to make.

In the modern connected world we have more choice than ever, especially when it comes to coffee. At times we are presented with an overwhelming list of options and choices but the one thing we all desire is a really good coffee.

It needs to taste awesome, have that nice aroma and give you that morning buzz as the caffeine hits your bloodstream. Sadly though, most coffees sold on our streets are just good, narrowly missing out on awesome.

A large part of the barrier to getting that awesome coffee we desire are just a few common mistakes. If you know what these are and avoid them your coffee will be memorable and people will keep coming back for more!

The 3 keys to awesome coffee

awesome coffeeThe single most important key to making awesome coffee is a freshly roasted bean. By freshly roasted we mean that it was roasted less than 30 days ago and preferably within the last 2 weeks. Outside this critical window you lose 70% of the essential oils and aromas which makes coffee awesome.

Coffee does not keep or store very well. The fresher it is the better it will taste. It really is that simple and realising that it has a very short optimum window should be life changing to vendors and customers alike. Moisturiser and plastic surgery will not keep coffee fresh!

The second thing for awesome coffee is the grind. Too fine or too coarse and you will be unable to extract the full flavours. The grind depends on the coffee bean, the roast and the type of extraction process you are using. Pump driven espresso machines prefer a fine grind, whereas most water based filter and steeping methods require a more coarse grind.

A key with the grind is consistent granule size. A poor quality grinder produces fine powder along with coarse granules making it impossible to get the extraction right.

Finally, many people fall down in the extraction time, with coffee being frequently over extracted.

Extraction tips and where most people fail

The 3 phases of the coffee shot are as follows:

Phase 1) Pulls out the strong coffee flavour and creates a dark syrup. This would be referred to as a Ristretto shot if this was all you extracted. This shot contains relatively little caffeine. Around 8 seconds for a maximum 25ml shot.

Phase 2) A little longer and you are into an Espresso shot. The sweet strong taste of coffee is now balanced with some bitter/sour notes and more of the elements from the ground coffee is extracted. Around 15 Seconds giving you around 40ml.

Phase 3) The Lungo shot, where the extraction is left to run longer and you start to get more of the bitter notes and elements from the coffee and a larger caffeine hit. Around 20 seconds and 100ml.

If you pull a shot too long then you end up with a very bitter coffee with an unpleasant after taste and this is probably the most common error people make. Depending on your machine, it typically takes a maximum of 20 seconds to fully extract your shot. Experiment with different extraction durations and compare the taste, it makes quite an interesting project and really is the best way to hone your skills with your equipment and choice of bean.

Most coffees use an Espresso shot as the base but the other phases also come into play.

Choosing your bean

Arabica beans are the favoured choice and the more expensive bean, but Robusta beans add a good amount of caffeine and complexity when blended with Arabica beans. There is much debate about the best coffee beans and blend but most seem to prefer a 100% Arabica bean.

The newest coffee beverages

Keep the choice simple without limiting it. By adding milk to a basic coffee shot you can create some amazing new drink options.

We have been familiar with the Cappuccino and Latte for many years but new drink variations just keep on arriving.

The Flat White from New Zealand uses a Ristretto shot blended with micro foamed milk creating a wonderfully textured strong tasting coffee. The milk is swirled into the cup to create an awesome leaf design.

awesome coffee
The famous new Flat White

The Bombon, originally from Spain uses sweetened condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio with an Espresso shot. A Bombon is usually served in a glass where the distinct upper coffee shot and lower milk can be seen as separate layers.

The Revolute is a brand new coffee from the UK using both a Ristretto and Lungo shot for a very strong coffee taste and big caffeine hit. Micro foamed milk is then added in a swirl design, making this the perfect morning coffee.

The Cortado is another Spanish export which uses an Espresso shot and warm milk in a 1:1 ratio. A good strong coffee and quite refreshing after heavy food.

So it is possible to make truly awesome coffee that even my granddad would sit up and take notice of. He will probably still moan about all the different types of coffee but at least he’ll have a good coffee to consume during the conversation.

Yummy Recipe: Vanilla Bean Cream Puff Swans

cream puff

We all know and love the decadent, delicious, creamy flavor of a cream puff, but most of us just buy them ready made from a shop. However, cream puffs are easy to make, and, if you are willing to pick up the challenge and try to do them yourself, you will have the opportunity to take the simple cream puff to an entirely new level of elegance. In fact, making a swan body is a relatively easy thing to do, so you should definitely not be intimidated by the challenge.

All we will be making are putting together two relatively simple recipes, the one for the puff dough and the one for the cream. Each recipe though will have something a little bit special to take it to that next level.

Cream Puff Dough

For the puff themselves the bit that is a little out of the ordinary is the fact that we are going to save a little bit of the dough to make the necks and heads of what will be our swans. Before we begin, here are the ingredients you will need:

  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of flower

The first thing that you will want to do is to turn on the oven and begin pre-heating it to 425 degrees F. It is very important to have the oven well into the 400 degrees range before you put the dough in so that you will get the hollowed out bodies of the swans. So this is a step you should not skip over or ignore.

While the oven is heating up you can start heating up the butter with the water in a pot on medium to high heat. As soon as the butter is melted we will drop in the flower and just mix it in, and, because the water and butter mixture is hot, you will get something that looks like an oily dough in just a few seconds. Next, take the pot off the heat and add in the sugar and mix it in. Once that is done just let the dough rest for about 10 minutes before you add in your first egg. Start mixing the dough and the egg together and do not worry about the fact that in the beginning they will seem completely incompatable and unwilling to mix. Just keep stirring in, and you will see that little by little that egg will almost be soaked into the dough. Once the first egg is completely absorbed dump in the second egg and mix it in as well.

With your dough done you can go ahead and take a little portion of it and start drawing large, delicate S-s on a baking sheet. We are going to make about 10 swans, and since it is fairly difficult to estimate how much dough you will need for the necks and heads you should definitely start with the heads. You can use a frizzer bag that you have cut one of the corner off of, but make sure to make it a small cut. Once you have your necks, you can make the cut a little bit bigger and start making the bodies. As you would expect the bodies themselves should be about the same size as a cream puff, or a little smaller perhaps, since they will rise as they cook in the oven. Make sure to put the cream puff bodies on a different tray because you will have to keep them in the oven for about 25 minutes, while the necks only require 10 minutes. So after about 15 minutes of having the puffs in the oven, you can put in the swan necks as well and let them cook together. After another 10 minutes you should turn off the oven and just ever so slightly crack the door of the oven open. Leave the puffs in the oven with the door barely opened until they are completely done and, in the mean while move on to making the cream

Vanilla Bean Cream

The vanilla bean cream is even simpler to make than the puff pastry. All you need are the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 yolks
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Start by mixing in the egg with 2 other egg yolks in a large mixing ball. Add in the salt, sugar and corn starch and start mixing them in. You may notice that the resulting cream will be a very dark, almost orange shade of yellow, but, as you keep mixing it will turn a much paler shade to almost white, and that is when you know you can stop and move on to the next step.

This will probably be the most exciting part of the entire process because, instead of using vanilla extract from a bottle, we will be using a vanilla bean. It is a fairly dry, thin bean, which is why you will need a very sharp knife, ideally a sushi knife, and just cut the bean right down the middle. Next use the blunt side of the knife to scrape off the dark goo that you will find on the inside of the bean. Mix that with the milk in a pot and bring them to boil. Once the milk has just started to boil take it off the heat and slowly mix it in with the egg, sugar and corn starch cream. Make sure to put in just a little bit of the milk at first and then slowly add in the rest. With that, put it back in the pot and set it on the stove on low heat and just keep mixing until it turns into a cream. As soon as your vanilla cream reaches your desired level of thickness, remove it from the stove and let it cool down before passing it through a large strainer.

You Swans Are Done

Now that both the cream and the puff pastry are done, you can start the final assembly process. Start by cutting the top of the puffs a third of the way up and filling them with the cream. Next cut the tops into halves and stick them into the cream like wings. Finally set in the large S-s that we designed to be the necks and heads and you are done. You may want to sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, but that is just for decoration and it is entirely up to you if you want to use it or not. Whatever you decide though, these are going to taste and look great and they shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to make so we really hope that you will enjoy them.

About the author:

Linda with her son.
Linda with her son.

Linda is an engineering PhD at the NTNU, and a great mom that loves cooking to relax after a long day at work. She shares her cooking experiences and her engineering insight into the tools she uses in the kitchen on her own website, Kitchen Expert.

Join the New (York) Kids on the (Street Food) Block

street food

Have you ever been tempted to take your passion for food out onto the street? You wouldn’t be alone. An increasing number of people have taken their love of good food and favorite recipes and transformed it into a successful street business. New York may be a haven of Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of the city’s best food can be found on the street corner.

Hundreds of mobile eateries selling delicious international food fill the city streets. New York’s diverse street food is unsurpassed and the most successful vendors eventually take their dishes and set up a bricks and mortar restaurant, usually not far away.

From Home Kitchen to Street Food

People come from miles away to get a taste of the city’s latest traditional food truck, a modern street kitchen, food festival or market stall. It’s obvious to anyone that there’s money to be made in the street food business if you have the passion for it. It’s no surprise then that so many people have taken their home food business out onto the sidewalk.

Starting a small food business can be more than just a dream. You’ll find many customers willing to try your new flavors, especially in a city like New York. However, it does take time and dedication, not to mention some experimentation. For example, many micro-brewers have worked in the brewery industry prior to setting up their own ones. The same goes for café owners and restaurant owners – with many having worked from the bottom up. That’s not the case for all though; especially street food vendors. And it’s going to be even easier to turn your dream into a reality, thanks to a change in the food vendor permit system.

NY Street Food Carts Set to Double

street foodUnder the Street Vending Modernization Act, the number of permits available in the city is set to double, reaching around 8,000 by 2023. Currently, there’s a limit to the number of food carts and trucks allowed on city streets. There are around 2,500 people are on a wait list for the permits, which at the moment costs $200 for two years. With the new permits, a two-year issue will now cost you $1,000.

For a long time, sellers have argued for a legal way to make a living selling their food and it’s hoped that more permits will help support fledgling businesses. And the good news for New Yorkers is that more food carts will mean more innovative food on offer.

A Selection of the Best Street Food You Must Try

From food carts to restaurants, there are places to buy food cropping up all over New York. Within just a few blocks, you will come across street food from all over the world that has been cooked with passion. For as little as $10 you can taste the world. So, before the new kids hit the block (or sidewalk) with their delicious food offerings – or if you need a little more inspiration to get out of the kitchen and onto the street yourself – make sure you try some of the best street food you will ever come across. You won’t be sorry.

 

Pancakes, not Money, Make the World Go Round!

Pancakes

Since we can all agree that pancakes really do make the world go round, why not have a look around some of the best pancake recipes from around the world. Anything from sweet to savory, from thin to fluffy, from regular to unusual… the best recipes are here. You can find easy to prepare recipes on MyGreatRecipes and for what it’s worth, I won’t bother you with the good old American pancakes, we all know them and we all love them! Find more pancake recipes in the – Best American Pancake Recipes – Quick, Easy and Delicious | MyGreatRecipes.

Russian Pancakes

PancakesThe Russian pancake, a blini (or bliny) is a thin pancake, made from buckwheat flour. This crepe-like hotcake is served with butter, honey, jam, sour cream or even caviar.

Except for the flour, all the other ingredients are similar to those we use for the American pancakes. The difference is in their thickness i.e. these are slightly thinner. The batter for the blinis might also contain grated potato, grated apples, and raisins.

A fun fact is that these were considered to be a symbol of the sun, in pre-Christian times. The reason being their round form.

This tradition has made its way to modern times, and is celebrated as Maslenitsa, also called “pancake week”. Blinis were also served at wakes to commemorate the recently deceased.

Greek Pancakes

pancakesThe Greek pancakes are called tiganites. They can be sweet or savory but one thing is for sure: they are delicious! Since thy are all pancake recipes, again the ingredients they call for, at least for the base, are pretty much the same. The difference here, is that instead of milk, tiganites call for water. This is why they are oftentimes confused by many people with bread.

And again, tiganites are tightly connected with a Christian tradition. The “tiganites tou Aghiou” are served on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra) each December 12, to honor St. Spyridon. In fact, the very name means “the Saint’s Pancakes”.

Sweet versionà the sweet tiganites are usually served with honey, walnuts. and toasted sesame seeds.

Savory versionà the savory tiganites are great with sweet white onions and a bit of fresh mint.

German Pancake Recipe

PancakesThe German Pancake, or more famous as a Dutch baby is a puffed dessert that is incredibly delicious. Yes, the name Dutch implies that they must come from the Netherlands, but this certainly isn’t the case. To make things funnier, the name of these GERMAN pancakes that got stacked with the Americans is the result of a mispronunciation of their original name “Deutsch” which means “German”.

Dutch or German, the important thing is they are delicious. And they, too, have a sweet and savory counterpart.

Sweet versionà You can add whichever toppings you want, fruits, maple syrup, powdered sugar, jam, or even add a gallop of peanut butter… literally, anything you can think of.

Savory versionà There is also a savory version with toppings like cilantro, shredded chicken, and cheese. But never be afraid of a little experimenting!

There are also the Japanese flapjacks, Okonomiyaki, the Chinese hotcakes Cong You Bing, (you can find the recipes for them among the collection of the Best American Pancake Recipes – Quick, Easy and Delicious) and the small Swedish pancakes called plättar are also worth giving a go at. Happy pancaking!

 

Healthy Foods You Should Be Eating For Lunch

healthy foods

All health fanatics will tell you to avoid eating a hearty lunch at work. Firstly, because it has a way of sending your brain signals to stop everything it’s doing and focus on digesting that oversized burger you just hogged, which in turn leaves you slouching in your chair trying to keep yourself up for the rest of the day. The second reason why you should stop eating heavy lunches is because you’re risking gaining weight. When you eat a big meal, your blood glucose shoots up for 30mins, it’s better to use up this increase in blood glucose than to let it accumulate. Thinking of moving to more healthy foods?

If your belly is grumbling in the later hours of the afternoon, it means you didn’t have the right meal during lunch. Before you know it you’ll be going reaching out for a chocolate bar or your bag of chips to quell your hunger. The best lunch meals should keep you feeling full until dinnertime.

Instead of eating big meals consisting of red meats, rice, and cheese, look for healthier options containing the following:

Complex carbohydrates

Depriving yourself of complex carbohydrates will leave you feeling fatigued and too exhausted to be productive at work. Complex carbohydrates provide you with a burst of energy that helps you get through the rest of the day without feeling the need to munch on unhealthy snacks.

Eating whole-grain foods containing complex carbohydrates earlier on in the day will shoot up your energy levels and will take all day to burn through your system. Unlike sugar and caffeine, the energy levels you receive from complex carbs won’t ever ‘crash’. Having whole-grain complex carbs that are found in oats, whole-grain bread, and sweet potatoes will keep you energized throughout your day with no afternoon slump.

Many healthy foods that consist of complex carbs also happen to be very nutritious. Whole-grain foods are rich in fiber and are necessary for the health of your digestive tract.

Protein

Protein is digested at a much slower rate than other food groups which is why having a protein-rich meal will keep you full for longer and provide you with enough power to last the whole day.

Nutritionists recommend salmon for lunch meals because it is not only rich in protein but also has a large quantity of omega 3 fatty acids. Chicken is another low-fat source of protein that can be incorporated into pretty much any meal whether it be a salad or steak. Lean meats aren’t the only sources of protein; they are also found in beans, lentils, and Greek yogurt.

Low-fat dairy

For the sake of maintaining a fat-free diet, many people skip out on dairy altogether. Low-fat dairy products have many benefits. Consuming low-fat dairy products can help prevent hypertension and Type II Diabetes. They also contain calcium; research shows that the antihypertensive effects of calcium received by the consumption of low-fat dairy products can help in managing weight. It promotes weight-loss by increasing your metabolism.

Low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are also healthy foods and a good source of proteins, you can incorporate them in your salads and sandwiches.

You can also make delicious smoothies using low-fat yogurt along with a variety of healthy ingredients that will give you all the nutrients you need. Many healthy restaurants will have a healthy shake to drink when eating a sandwich or wrap. If you’re trying to lose weight and tone your body to get that slimmer waist then consider replacing meals with nutritious smoothies that contain ingredients from all food groups.

Assorted Fruits

A bowl of assorted fruits is the perfect substitute of for dessert after lunch. Unlike sugary foods, a bowl of fruits won’t cause you to crash later in the afternoon. Nutritionists recommend that you consume at least 2 ½ of fruits every day. If you are not the greatest fan of fruits then try sneaking them into your meals. For example, you can put slices of green apple in your turkey sandwich to give it that freshness or you can add bananas and strawberries to a bowl of oats.

As tasty and fulfilling a big burger or steak may look for lunch, you’re much better off with a whole-wheat sandwich, wrap or pasta. Choose quinoa over rice for lunch to avoid feeling bloated and fatigued. A slice of chocolate cake for dessert may provide you with a world of pleasure for a few moments but the rest of the time you’d be struggling to keep yourself awake.

Author Bio:

Carla Adams is an enthusiastic dreamer and a workaholic to achieve that. She is a blogger, writer, basketball player, technology and fashion freak. For all the updates follow her on Facebook.

How Can Seniors Improve Their Diets at NYC’s Food Outlets?

NYC’s Food

There are over 1.4 million seniors over 60 in New York and it’s predicted that by 2030, that number will rise to over 1.8 million. But as the number of our seniors is growing, so is the number of those getting poorer. In fact, the rate of seniors in poverty has risen to nearly 1 in 5. And this poverty has led to a huge number of older American’s having poor diets.

The average American regularly consumes more than the recommended number of calories. They also eat well below the recommended portions of fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole-grains. But healthy eating habits for seniors are vital. They can help us to improve mental sharpness, energy and a stronger resistance to illness. Eating well is about consuming fresh, tasty food and wholesome ingredients and it is still possible to eat like this when money is tight.

Boost Your Appetite and Enjoy Some Delicious New York Food

Many people lose their appetite as they get older. But you do still need to get enough calories and nutrients to be healthy. Not getting enough can lead to malnutrition and health problems. But with so much delicious and affordable food on the doorstep, New York seniors are spoilt for choice. From BBQ, sushi and noodles to pizza or a burger, there’s no excuse not to eat well. But before you head out to find something delicious to eat, what should you choose and avoid being one of the 1 in 4 senior Americans with bad diets?

Opt for Foods Rich in Nutrients and Fiber

The number of calories you need as you get older will drop, especially if you aren’t as active. But your nutritional needs may stay the same or even increase. Nutrient-rich foods are a good way of getting the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats you require. Choose foods that are low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, lean protein and beans and lentils for nutrient-dense foods. Fiber-rich ingredients should be included in every meal. Soluble fiber is helpful to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and lentils and oats are all good sources of fiber.

A healthy diet is not just about food. You also need to think about what you drink, especially as you get older.

Keep Hydrated

The average American drinks between one and two cans of soda each day. But these are empty calories, so swap these drinks for water. It’s important to regularly drink fluids to stay hydrated. Aim to drink around eight glasses of water a day. You can also get water from other drinks like tea and juice, or by eating water-rich fruits and vegetables and soup.

Let NYC Food Inspire You to Eat Well

With the great array of food available in New York, the city’s seniors don’t have to go far to find something mouthwatering to eat. Whether you want to stick to what you know or try something new, you are not going to be short of street food inspiration. 

Protein Powder Pancake Recipes That Will Get You All Pumped Up

Protein Powder Pancake

Are you physically active? You don’t have to be a professional athlete or a bodybuilder, just a regular mom, trying to do a few push-ups while doing her everyday busy routine with the kids around the house. In that case, you need extra protein. How would you like your protein to be packed in pancakes? Counting calories, you say? No worries, there is a wide range of low-calorie, low-fat and protein-packed pancake recipes just for you.

Why Add Protein Supplements to Pancakes?

People who exercise on a regular basis need higher quantities of protein to support muscle growth, as well as to relax the joints and muscles after training. But protein does more than that. It boosts your energy levels and metabolism, making it easier for you to lose weight!

The reason physically active people opt for protein supplements is their convenience, lower cost, and to avoid the unwanted intake of carbohydrates and fats. Also, when it comes to desserts, the richest natural sources (meat and fish) are not an option.

Protein supplements are sold in many forms: shakes, bars, bites, oats, gels… but the best option for pancakes is the protein powder. These powders are sugar-free and very often they contain flavoring added for palatability. Such flavorings may include cinnamon, chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, mint, orange, strawberry, blueberry, banana, pina colada, coffee…Now this fact alone opens a world of pancake possibilities.

Milk-Based Protein Powder Pancakes

Whey is the most commonly used protein powder. It is very rich in essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids, which help muscle recovery. Whey protein is usually taken within 30 minutes before and after a training session.

Idea: Prepare the batter with 3 egg whites (natural protein source), ½ cup uncooked oatmeal, ½ mashed banana, 2 tsp baking powder, and a scoop of chocolate-flavored whey protein powder (molten chocolate flavor).

Protein Powder PancakeCasein is also known as milk protein and contains glutamine. It is ideal for between meals and before going to bed to feed muscles and fuel recovery.

Idea: Mix one scoop of chocolate peanut butter-flavored casein powder, 3 egg whites, ¼ cup of almond milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter, and a tablespoon of pure maple syrup to sweeten the pancakes.

Vegan Protein Powder Pancakes

Hemp protein is obtained from hemp seeds, known for their numerous health benefits. This is a very easily digestible protein, rich in essential fatty acids. Because it is a plant-based supplement, hemp protein is perfect for vegans.

Idea: Combine ¼ cup rolled oats, 1/8 mocha-flavored hemp powder, ¼ cup flaked coconut, ¼ cup coconut milk, and ½ tsp baking soda.

Soy protein powder, extracted from soybeans, is another great vegan option, ideal for fast muscle development.

Idea: Mix a scoop of soy protein powder (try the cookies and cream flavoring) with 1/3 cup oats, one tablespoon of unsweetened almond milk, 4 egg whites, and add ¼ cup of fresh blueberries.

Rice protein powder is highly digestible and allergen free (in case it is made from whole grain). Since this protein is low in the amino acid called lysine, it is often combined with pea protein powder.

Idea: Combine two scoops of vanilla-flavored pea/rice powder with 2 tbsp. raw coconut flour, and 1 cup egg whites and ½ cup of coconut milk.

Make sure you serve your protein pancakes with sugar-free, 100% natural toppings, such as:

  • calorie-free chocolate or pancake syrups
  • pure maple syrup
  • organic peanut butter
  • raw chopped nuts
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • organic sugar-free fruit spreads

Now out your headphones on, put on some music and start your workout session!

YUMMY ALERT: The 2nd Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival in NYC

What better time to drink hot cocoa than during the winter? For the second year in a row, the Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival is happening in New York City. Now through Feb. 5, restaurants, bakeries, and chocolatiers around the city will be participating in the festival, promoting artisanal and premium hot chocolate, all while raising money for a good cause.

Hot Chocolate Festival
Hot Chocolate by Mah Ze Dahr Bakery

11 participating establishments and 29 locations will be celebrating the festival, each with a unique, delicious take on hot cocoa and decadent desserts. New York City pastry kitchens include: Laduree, Lafayette NYC, Epicerie Boulud, Almondine, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, The St. Regis, FIKA, Baked, and Sugar and Plumm.

Hot Chocolate Festival
Hot Chocolate by Epicerie Boulud

“The Valrhona Hot Chocolate Festival is an exciting opportunity for chefs around New York City to work with the great chocolates created by Valrhona in a different way while contributing to the great cause of The Clean Water Project,” said Chef Tyler Atwell, Executive Pastry Chef of Lafayette New York.

During this sweet festival, each pastry chef will be serving exclusive Valrhona hot chocolate creations at each of their NYC locations.  At the end of the festival all ticket sales from the kickoff event and the cumulative proceeds generated from hot cocoas sold ($.50 per hot chocolate) will be donated to the Valrhona Clean Water Project. This project is raising money to improve the living conditions and public health of the cocoa-producing community of Los Ranchos, Peru.

Hot Chocolate Festival
It will be a delicious festival…

“Valrhona is known for offering different chocolates, each with a specific, balanced, and complex taste,” Said Marine Leman, Senior Communications Manager at Valrhona. “As a consequence, the chef chooses the chocolate he will use depending on the end result he wants to achieve and the other ingredients that are in the recipe.”

 

Click here for more information.

At what temperature should you brew coffee?

coffee

If you are one of those people who loves a good cup of coffee in the morning you probably want to make sure it tastes as good as possible. We are going to start off by saying that you have plenty of options for making coffee. All of these options are slightly different but when it comes to the temperature required to produce a good cup of coffee there are certain rules which apply.

We are going to take a look at what temperature you should try to achieve if you are making yourself a cup of coffee. We are also going to examine how you can make sure that this temperature level is attained.

At what temperature should you brew coffee and why is this so important?

We are going to start off by making a simple statement. The optimum temperature for producing great coffee is between 195 F (91 C) and 205 F (96 C); the closer you can get to 205 F (96 C) the better. So now you know, but you may be thinking why this is the case?

coffee
Make your coffee at the optimum temperature

Let’s start by explaining that during the brewing process extraction takes place. This is when the flavour is drawn from the coffee grounds. If the temperature of the water is too low extraction does not work as it should and the flavour of the coffee is adversely affected. The resulting cup of coffee is weak and potentially sour tasting. If the temperature of the water is too high the grounds can burn and the coffee produced is usually bitter to taste. So how can you make sure that the temperature of the water is just right?

Getting the water temperature right

Given that most of us boil water to make coffee it can be difficult to obtain the right temperature of water needed to get the best flavour from the coffee. There are some temperature control kettles available but if you do not have one what other methods can you use?

If you are really enthusiastic about your coffee, and you have the time to spare measuring, you may want to invest in a thermometer. If you make use of a thermometer you can make sure that the water temperature is at the right level to use. If this seems a little too involved for you then you do have another option. All you have to do is leave the water to cool for a little while once it has boiled; even thirty seconds can make all the difference. Of course, this is not an exact way of getting the water temperature right but it’s quick and you still stand a very good chance of producing a decent cup of coffee in the end.

Hopefully, you can see how much the temperature of the water contributes to the flavour of the coffee you produce. It’s worth making even just a little effort to improve the taste as much as possible.

5 Best Dishes Made on a Kamado Grill

Kamado Grill

If you have your olfactory senses leading you to the best of cuisine, the Kamado grill surely hasn’t escaped your taste buds. Well, Japan has known this kind of grill for at least 3,000 years now, but during the last century we all started to appreciate it. With the Kamado being metamorphosed into a ceramic grill/oven/smoker, a whole new panorama of grilled dishes has opened up to us.

The Kamado-style grill was first invented during World War II, and it took its form from the “mushikamado”, the Japanese cooking stove fuelled by charcoal/wood. Today, it is much more efficient and sophisticated. Apart from the great charcoal cooking savor it gives, it is very handy, fuel-efficient and easy to use and because it has no flare-ups like traditional barbecues.

Kamado GrillAll you literally have to do is buy one and keep it in your backyard, add the fuel and you’re good to cook some mouth-watering, savory dishes. So, here are 5 dishes we chose that are best cooked on the Kamado grill.

  • Barbecue Smoked Venison Roast

This one is as delicious as it sounds. The loveliest part about this kind of grilling is the moist feel and texture that the bacon gets from it.

What gives this recipe its salivating aroma is garlic. The best trick to get the taste and aroma of garlic is to slice the garlic pegs and insert them into the fine incisions that you make on the meat and the suet as well. And, the seasoning of salt and pepper is done all over the meat. Then comes egg yolk coating in like so many other grill dishes, and then laying the bacon on top. Why bacon on top? Because the fat that comes from the suet is the secret that keeps the venison moist and warm. Sounds succulent! Doesn’t it?

  • The Thanksgiving Trukey with a Twist

The fact that Thanksgiving is one of the most beloved holidays that Americans follow with a oodles of excitement, is the reason that people may not experiment much with the Thanksgiving turkey, but believe me if you may, using a Kamado grill might change your holidays. Well, if you are using Kamado grill, you surely will need a thermometer, unlike in the oven, which is pre-heated for the kind of cooking you want. The trick lies in the gentleness of the hand in applying the barbecue rub between the skin and the breast. And then rubbing the same on the exterior too is what will give yout that crispy Thanksgiving turkey you want. You can use a drip tray underneath the turkey with vegetables and white wine to make it taste even better.

  • Tandoori Chicken

Well this is one recipe that rules the hearts of the chicken lovers. What the Indian tandoori does for India, is exactly what these best Kamado grills can do for the rest of us. Because it is ceramic, it very well mimics the Indian clay oven.

It is a pretty high temperature that Tandoori chicken takes to get the kind of crispy feel it needs, so don’t be afraid to see some pieces that look burnt. The secret is that if you have it marinated well, it will stay moist and still crisp.

Kamado Grill
Tandoori Chicken made on Kamado Grill
  • Barbecue Lamb Provencale

If you have the taste for some wine to go with some French cooking, this best Kamado grill will win your heart. The rub that goes on it typically Provençale (from the Provence region, South France). The cooking is not direct and so, it tastes better than any other kind of grilled lamb meat.

The process couldn’t be any simpler – rubbing the Provençale herb seasoning on the lamb leg and slow roasting it. But, the magic simply lies in the rub that brings out the flavor in each slice which is further enhanced by slow roasting in Kamado grill.

Kamado Grill
Barbecue Lamb Provencale
  • Smokey Steak

Who doesn’t love a steak? Well, the lovers of the grill sure do. And, a steak tastes even better when grilled on a Kamado grill. Why? Because this kind of grill offers the advantage of cooking with the lid on, which means you can grill thicker pieces of steak better, and more tender, and still get the perfect smoky favor with high temperature cooking. Unlike other grills, this one won’t leave it raw in the middle. In fact, the best kind of grill is beef steak.

Kamado grill
Kamado Steak anyone?

So, ready to create your own Kamado grill delicacies?

Thalia Review: The Aroma Was Delicious!

Thalia

 

A Fresh Review by Kate E. O’Hara

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than skating at Rockefeller Center, followed by burger and fries at Thalia? Well, you might be thinking of a few better ways to ring in 2017 but if you happen to be in the area for skating, shopping, or taking in the sights, Thalia’s a great place to warm up and grab a bite.

Earlier this month with family in town, I braved the crowds before the iconic Christmas tree was dismantled, and did some skating at The Rink When our session was complete, we were hungry (to be honest, I was very tired, very achy, and hungry). The crowds kept us from dining at Rock Center Café, and the $80.00 (yes, eighty dollar) prix fixe lunch during the period that the Christmas tree is lit and displayed, kept us from The Sea Grill. So instead, down the block we walked.

At 828 8th Avenue and 50th is Thalia. Thalia’s claim is “New American Cuisine – Locally Sourced – Globally Inspired.” We decided on a table in the lounge that adjoined the dining room. The atmosphere was welcoming and festive, filled with the buzz of patron chatter, under high ceilings, and colorful décor. The lounge was cozy, with small brightly colored upholstered chairs. Although festive and bright, the chairs were definitely small. I couldn’t imagine anyone over the height of 5’ 8 or 5’ 9 sitting in them comfortably. I barely reach 5’ 3 and my knees were closer to my chin than I normally like while sitting.

Arriving at 2:00 pm we were just in time to enjoy the two course prix fixe lunch for $19.50 (can you say NYC bargain?). The first course choices were lobster bisque and caesar salad. The bisque was creamy with a slight tang which was offset by whole kernel sweet corn. It was the perfect starter on a cold winter afternoon. The caesar salad, billed as “classic,” included a sprinkling of chili flakes. The chili flakes were different and added an appetizing uniqueness, as did the grana-padano cheese, which cheese experts say is more subtle and less nutty and salty than Parmigiano. Topped with crunchy croutons, the salad was flavorful and enjoyable despite it being over-dressed. Unfortunately any lag in eating time left you with soggy romaine leaves.

Thalia
Lots of choices…at Thalia. Picture by Kate E. O’Hara

The second course choices consisted of the Thalia Burger, Blackened Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio Salad, or Spaghetti with San Marzano Tomato Sauce.

We opted for the burgers, which hit the spot. They were made of juicy sirloin topped with bacon, gruyere cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions, flanked with pickles and fries. It was classic comfort food.

Despite the tasty meal, the service was awful. In fact, it was almost as if we were bothering our waitress with our simple requests for more ice water, another glass of wine, or ketchup for our fries. She was non-attentive and when at our table, barely uttered a word. However, the two hostesses were very friendly and helpful.

All in all, for the value, the food was good and complimented the pleasant atmosphere.

And, it wasn’t until we left the restaurant and rounded the corner that we discovered an added surprise: Thalia’s Kitchen. It is a small store-front, takeout-kitchen connected to the main restaurant. It serves soups and chili, salads, sandwiches, sushi rolls, and baked goods. The aroma was delicious! The aroma alone is enough to have you add stopping by Thalia to your New Year’s resolution list—oh, and don’t forget to add ice skating too.

Glass of Wine a Day? The Benefits of Drinking Wine

There’s always been a discussion about the risks and possible benefits that wine has on our health. So what is actually true and what is not?

The truth is, drinking moderate (meaning one or two glasses a day) does, indeed offer some benefits, such as preventing heart diseases, reducing the risk of diabetes, increased longevity and so on. However, those healthy benefits are primarily for men aged over 40 and post-menopausal women. There’s not much evidence that drinking wine could improve the health of younger people as well, since they are already less at risk of heart diseases so begin with.

However, before you go and pour your wine down the sink, relax. It’s no lie that wine, especially red wine, does indeed contain several antioxidants, such as quercetin and resveratrol, which play a part in helping prevent heart disease and cancer. There’s also a component in wine which increases your bone mineral density, aka BMD. The higher your BMD, the stronger your bones become.

Vera over at Kitchen Gadgets Wars has put together this infographic giving us EIGHT healthy benefits of drinking wine, like we needed it right?
But, if you’re feeling guilty sometimes, about drinking that glass of wine then carry on reading…

wine

 

Wine Guide: Great Valentine’s Day Wines from $15 – $35 bottle

wine

A sparkling Post by Wes Narron

You can learn a lot about your friends by what they order at McDonald’s. Do they always get Chicken McNuggets or do they try the new items, say the Holiday Mint McFlurry? The people I turn to for wine advice? They never order the Chicken McNuggets. They always order some new wild-ass flavor combination. In short, they will taste and eat anything, because they want to experience first-hand as many flavors as possible…to learn what they like and what they hate. What does this have to do with a list of the best Valentine’s Day wines from $15-$35? You won’t find many Chicken McNugget wines here. 

Wine shops, even the little cute stores with hand-written tasting notes, are filled with hard-to-decipher jargon about tannins and finish and palate. There’s a ton of wine out there, a lot of it seemingly esoteric and obscure. You’ll be well-served by learning to trust your own taste buds. Find a shop that does wine tastings, at least once a week. And try EVERYTHING, even stuff you don’t think you’ll like. There’s no substitute for your own personal experience. 

I tasted a lot of junk in order to decide what I loved. I didn’t look at critics’ ratings (though they’re often right!). I did use my many years of experience running wine shops, wine tastings and wine tours, and watching what people enjoyed, listening to what they requested. This is a list of wines you should be able to find just about everywhere; or at least order from a source like wine.com. No obscure, esoteric collector’s items here. Just, yummy, well-respected mainstream brands. Sorry, Kerri’s Biodynamic Estate-Grown Hand-Picked Sulfate-Free Less-than-100-cases-produced Wine Hut. Here’s a list of “Royale with Cheese” wines, wines I love, backed up by lots of happy wine drinkers.

wine
Photo by City Wine Tours

Sparkling:

$15: Gruet Brut $14.99, from Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sounds French, oui?. Nope, Gilbert Gruet was a European expatriate who had his mind blown at the wonderful grapes he tasted in the American SouthWest. So, he brought his champagne making skills to New Mexico. Try this with sushi. My girlfriend says sushi is the world’s sexiest food. She claims eating sushi is adventurous, delicious, and makes her feel healthy, alive, and passionate. Champagne is the ideal wine for sushi. Crisp, sharp bubbles that clean your palette and make any meal feel like a festive occasion. Vibrant and fresh, with creamy citrus, vanilla and spiced almond flavors.

$20: La Marca Prosecco 1.5 L: $21.99, from Veneto, Italy

Prosecco comes from the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Made from the Glera, or Prosecco grape. You’ll find your local wine shops are overflowing with different brands of cheap Prosecco. Which one to get? The La Marca Extra Dry. The 1.5 liter bottle is a big bottle of love!  A fresh sparkling wine with a vibrant bouquet of apple, white peach, and honeysuckle.

$25: Roederer Estate Brut $21.99, from  Mendocino, California

Lots of the fine French Champagne houses bought vineyards in Napa/Sonoma California and make “California Champagne” using the same method and grapes as back in the motherland. Only they can’t call it Champagne and they can’t sell it for as much, because it comes from California. The Roederer Estate makes the famed Cristal Champagne (“Cristal, Maybachs, diamonds on your timepiece…”) in France. This is their California version, a tremendous bargain for the rich and aromatic sparkler. You can buy 9 or 10 bottles of this, or one bottle of Cristal!  Floral apple, cinnamon and anise aromas; crisp yet supple lemon tart, cherry and spicy hazelnut flavors.

White:

$15: Alsace Willm Reserve Pinot Gris $14.99, from Alsace, France

For everyday drinking: grab white wines from Alsace. They sell for $10-20. The restaurant chain Legal Sea Foods has been trying to get folks to drink Alsatian wines for years, because they pair so well with seafood! Pleasant flavors of honey-tinged fruit, primarily peach, apricot, and a little pear. Perfect medium-bodied fruity wine to match with shellfish or lighter cuts of fish.

$20: Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina $17.99 from Campania, Italy

Falanghina is an ancient grape variety, around when Emperor Nero was letting his kingdom burn…and toasting with a glass of Falanghina. You don’t have to be a wine geek or experienced sommelier to enjoy this. It’s a pure darling of aromatic pleasure, with aromas of flowers and tropical fruits.

$30: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc $27.99, from Marlborough, New Zealand

Folks don’t seem the like big, buttery Chardonnay as much anymore, They want Sauvignon Blanc, from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, which tends toward grassy, grapefruit flavors. The Cloudy Bay is one of the world’s most appreciated wines, the quintessential balance of acidity and fresh fruit.

Red:

$15: Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese $16.99, from  Veneto, Italy

Valpolicella Ripasso from Italy is the “poor man’s Amarone.” You get the same flavors as the big boy wine, just not as smooth or intense. They sell for $15-20. This is the best wine value in the world. If you don’t remember anything else in this blog, remember this one word: ripasso. Generous, ripe aromas of plum and cherry jam, with hints of spice. Bold and rich flavors of bitter cherries and berry fruits stand out on the palate, with good acidity, balance and velvety tannins.

$20: Chateau Miraval Rose $20.99, from Provence, France

Anytime you find yourself uncertain what wine to pair with a particular food, pick a dry rose’, especially one from Provence, France. The Chateau Miraval comes from the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt winery, and was the only rose’ to land on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list a couple years ago. We want to hate it, right? Dang, this stuff is delicious! Peach and mango aromas that give way to a stony, racy edged core of white cherry and strawberry flavors.Yes, the Pitt/Jolie marriage is kaput. Brad, showing incredible savvy, only wants the Chateau Miraval in the divorce settlement.

$35: Faustino I Gran Reserva $34.99, from Rioja, Spain

Red wines from Rioja, Spain all feature the Tempranillo grape, native to Spain; lighter bodied, with a  red cherry flavor and a touch of fennel. The palate is soft; with sweet tannins. Tempranillo has a remarkable similarity to the Chianti wines from Tuscany, without the barnyard character of some Chianti. The trick with the Rioja reds is to understand the aging designations and to appreciate how they affect the price:

Tinto or Rioja: aged 6 months to 1 year: low or no oak aging: $9-$12

Crianza: aged 2 years: 1 year  in oak, 1 year in bottle: $12-$19

Reserva: aged 3 years: 2 years in oak, 1 year in bottle: $20-$30

Gran Reserva: aged 5 years: 2 years  in oak, 3 years  in bottle: $30 +

Faustino is a Gran Reserva from Rioja: aged 5 years: 2 years  in oak, 3 years  in bottle: $30 +. Red berries, cinnamon, clove and oak.

Need a slightly “better” present for Valentine’s Day this year? Think about a City Wine Tours Gift Card or Booking a Tour for your loved one! We can send you a physical gift card to join one of our wine tours. Or, if you’re very tardy in your gift buying, you can get an immediate digital gift certificate. 

These can be redeemed for any of our Soho or West Village tours. $75 per.

Hope to see you soon!

cheers,

Wes

wine
Wes Narron. Photo by City Wine Tours

About the Author: Wes Narron is the Chief Wine Ambassador of City Wine Tours and thinks learning about wine should be as much fun as drinking it. City Wine Tours hosts weekend wine tasting tours in several NYC and Boston neighborhoods, plans corporate and private events, and encourages learned debauchery.  855-455-8747.  www.citywinetours.com

Anthony Bourdain Is Sticking Up for Street Vendors

Anthony Bourdain, the renowned chef, author, TV host and street food enthusiast has recorded a short video statement supporting the campaign to create more permits for New York City street vendors. In the video, Bourdain calls for more permits because “there is nothing more vital to a city and a city’s health then good street food and more of it.”

For many generations New Yorkers have used street vending as a flexible means for self-employment. From the classic hot dog and pretzel carts to the now popular Falafel carts, street food vendors have become a symbol of NYC. Unfortunately, a 30-year-old cap on city vendor permits has created an exploitative and expensive black market in vending permits and has forced many to work illegally, risking arrest and confiscation of their pushcarts and even the possibility of deportation.

The Street Vendor Project has been working to lift the permit cap and has sponsored the #LiftTheCaps campaign to get vendors out from the shadows and bring thousands of good jobs to the city. Below is a link to a video, and a statement from The Street Vendor Project. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in highlighting, we can put you in contact with advocates and vendors at SVP.

“It’s time that New York stops ignoring its vibrant and growing street food industry. For too long, food vendors have been exploited and stifled by an arbitrary and outdated permit cap. We applaud the internationally renowned chef and street food enthusiast, Anthony Bourdain for joining us in our call to lift the permit cap and allow for more permits that would legitimize thousands of vendors and create great new jobs,” Sean Basinski, Director of the Street Vendor Project at The Urban Justice Center.

Uma Temakeria: The Sushirrito Innovator at Gotham Market West

Gotham Market West

A Fresh Review by Chelsea Davis

Uma Temakeria is one of the newer eateries to set up shop at Gotham Market WestFood mashups have been — and continue to be — popping up all over the New York City culinary scene, with one of the most popular being the “sushirrito”.

At Uma Temakeria, guests can choose from a variety of temaki hand rolls, sushi burritos, or chirashi bowls. Temaki options include the samui shrimp with snow peas and a green miso curry; the tsumi tuna with green apple and wasabi ginger; and the isara salmon with a ginger miso and seaweed salad.

If you reach Gotham Market West more on the hungry side, go for Uma Temakeria’s sushi burrito. Enjoy two handfuls of sushi goodness with choices such as the uma-ritto which features salmon, tuna, tobanjan mayo, vegetables, and tempura crunch; or the tofu-ritto with marinated tofu, seaweed salad, seasonal pickle, and ginger miso.

Moreover, chef’s bowls feature all the refreshing flavors of the rolls, minus the nori wrap. Try the poke-rashi which is a mix of ponzu marinated tuna, apple, carrot, cucumber, scallion, and sesame seeds over rice. Another house specialty is the sakana chirashi with a medley of vegetables, avocado lime, tobanjan mayo, and sesame seeds over rice.

Seasonal offerings still available feature the buttery meat of Luke Lobster’s. Luke’s lobster meets the sushi burrito in this collaboration which comes wrapped with rice, kale, red pepper, lemon-wasabi aioli, sesame seeds, and potato crunch. Zesty spice from the aioli pairs perfectly with the crunch and sweetness from the red pepper. Fresh and flavorful, this is a must try.

If you’re not feeling any of the menu items, get creative and make your own sushi combinations — from beginning to end. You choose the sauces like the zesty citrus or avocado lime; the fish/ seafood such as crab, Atlantic salmon, or yellowfin tuna; the vegetables ranging from carrot and daikon pickle to snap peas; and add-ins to make your ideal meal.

Next time you find yourself nearby the Gotham Market West, stop by Uma Temakeria, take a seat at the sushi bar, and treat yourself to a refreshing combo of fish, vegetables, and rice.

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We felt like Thai Street Food, and it's been a while since we've been to the Trini-Paki Boys cart and headed over to 43rd St just east of 6th Ave to see what specials they had today. Oh no, Trini-Paki Boys was gone, and they weren't across the street either. Anybody seen them around lately? We know the owner was having health...