Category Archives: restaurants

Norma’s, the ultimate brunch experience

There is nothing like a long leisurely weekend brunch. It’s simply the best.  On Friday Frank mentioned we had a brunch reservation for Sunday.  What?  Football season, you were fun, but thank you for finally being over; brunch is back!

This surprise brunch happened to be taking place at Norma’s!!! What’s Norma’s, you ask.  Only the place where brunch legends were made and “zillion dollar omelets” are consumed. I haven’t been to Norma’s in ten years, but I’ve never forgotten the glory!

Norma’s is in the Le Parker Merdien. You just enter the lobby and it’s right up the stairs waiting for you. Or in this case us. Since we had a reservation, we were seated right away and treated to deliciously tart berry smoothie shots.

I studied the menu, which was large and cheeky and filled with decadent options that made me happy I went to the gym that morning.  Not that there aren’t any healthy options, last time I had a melon bowl with yogurt and berries, but this I wanted to live it up a bit! I was still sore from Barry’s and figured I deserved it.

I went for the Normalita’s Huevos Rancheros.  They arrived, like everything else, oversized and with a little something extra. In this  case, an entire quesadilla extra!

Frank went with the “irrestible banana-macadamia nut flap jacks,” which had a delicious brown butter and lots of cinnamon.

We enjoyed our ourselves lingering over perfect cups of coffee until it was time to brave the cold once more! I might have waddled a bit on the way out the door, but let me tell you, it was worth it. Oh Norma I hope to see you again sooner than later!

‘witchcraft’s new line up!

A few weeks ago, NYMAG named sandwiches the comfort food of the moment. There is something comforting about a sandwich. They are nostalgic, They are full of the of so soothing carby goodness that is bread. They provided limitless opportunities for creativity.

When I think of NYC sandwich shops, I think of ‘witchcraft. It combines the simple concept of the sandwich with the NYC foodies’ quest to elevate even the most simple food to a culinary experience. ‘witchcraft is a favorite for lunchtime catering, so I’ve had a chance to try quite a few of their sandwiches, including the sumptious goat cheese, avocado and watercress which I actually had on my birthday last year!

When I was invited to try out the new ‘witchcraft line up of seasonal sandwiches, I was in!  Frank and I headed to the newest ‘withcraft location, with is at Chelsea Pier 22. It was a bitter night, but I could have cared less when I saw that Tom Collicio (owner of the establishment) was inside! As a huge Top Chef fan, I was a pretty darn starstruck.  He looks the same in person, in case you were wondering.

After we said a very quick hello, Frank and I preceded upstairs to the upper level of the restaurant which was cool, cozy and chic–all at the same time.  We were greeted warmly and gladly accepted glasses of vino.

The view of downstairs from upstairs…

I scooped out the new additions to the menu, the seasonal items:

I have to say, the goat cheese, squash was the most intriguing.  Add goat cheese to anything and I’m interested, but sweet potato?  Swoon. The roast chicken and kale with canelli bean spread also one me over. It really does sound like a soup in a sandwich and every bit as soothing.

And sandwiches for each day of the week.

We got to sample the

Mozzerella and Fontina

It was cheesy and gooey–grown up grilled cheese!

We also tried the smoked salmon

Breakfast for lunch!

We had a very good time at the event and I can’t wait to try more of the new wiches! Here’s a peak at the whole yummy bunch..

 

Dinner with a View: The Flagstaff House

First, thanks for following me to the new site!  I was really worried I’d be all alone over here in my new domain, so it’s great to see you.  A FitnessNYC facelift is on the way over the next month or so!

Back to Boulder, I had to share our last meal in Boulder with you.  All of our reservations I found through google or opentable, and I have to say, we went to some amazing places.  Case in point: The Flagstaff House.

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The view of the mountains to the left and the city through the trees to the right sold me.  We drove just a mile or so to the edge of Boulder and entered a state park and became ascending a steep mountain trail, soon Flagstaff House emerged perched right on the side of the mountain.

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The views were incredible. The restaurant is very open with lots of windows, so even if you eat inside, you feel like you are surrounded by the mountains.

Have you ever arrived at a restaurant and realized you were underdressed?  As  I booked the restaurant based on it’s views, so I didn’t realize until I arrived, that I was the only one wearing jeans. Flagstaff House is pretty fancy and worth dressing up for! Ooops.  Despite looking like rifraf, we got a great corner table and our waitress couldn’t have been sweeter.

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The winelist was on an ipad, which made it easy to quickly identify options that suited your preferences and your budget.

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I opted for a glass of California Sauvignon Blanc.

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Soon we were served an  amuse bouche. Blue cheese toast with candied ginger.

Soon after another surprise came out:

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A little goat cheese purse.

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To started I ordered  a simple salad of kale, spinach and bibb lettuce.

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I loved the salad and the meyer lemon vinaigrette was phenomenal. I hadn’t anticipated such a decadent meal, so I was glad I picked a lighter starter.

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Frank started with a sweet onion veloute.

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Out came cinnamon pecan bread with kona salted butter.

Clearly after all that food, we needed to cleanse our palettes:

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For my main course, I had ordered the Cooper River King Salmon that came with lump blue crab and a cucumber yogurt sauce.

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Frank got the filet that was served with a gold and sweet potato gratin and pinot noir sauce.

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But wait, there’s more…I know I was shocked too!

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A panna cotta compliments of the ever so generous pastry chef!

We had preordered the valrhona liquid chocolate cake before we realized just how many courses we would be eating, and so it was:

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I just need a few bites to appreciate how amazing this was.

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And complementary petit fours.  In addition, we were given a lemon poppy seed blueberry cake to take home.

It was an indulgent meal, but the quality of food was so high, it made it totally worth it.  The Flagstaff House excelled in wine, food and service and was definitely a special treat.

Now that all the special occasions are behind us for a while, we can balance out enjoying fancy meals with lighter, greener meals at home. It’s all about balance after all :)

Dining in Denver!

My trip to Colorado was as much about eating as it was about running.  It turned out to be a most delicious weekend.  After tea, we enjoyed a little down time before hitting up some local breweries.  Denver has 18 breweries including Coors! Our first stop was The Great Divide, where “great minds drink alike.”

While I am not much of a beer drinker (at all), I loved the atmosphere of the brewery, everyone was having a grand ol’ time, including the bartenders :).

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I noticed they had a great special, 3 samples for $3 and $1 for each additional sample, plus the proceeds went to charity.  Done and done.

We started with the Raspberry Pale Ale, the 18th Anniversary Ale and  one other beer.

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The raspberry was great, not beery at all!

We couldn’t have all our fun in one place, so it was on to Wynkoop.

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Finally it was time for our late dinner reservation at the Kitchen Lo DoIMG_4643

I had found it using the diner’s choice lists on Opentable, and boy was it a great find.  The Denver location just opened this spring, but it was already hopping!  The decor was slightly industrial, but still warm and reminded me of my beloved ABC Kitchen.  IMG_4645 The menu had a huge range of appetizers and entrees, all which looked amazing.  Eventually we decided to share the king crab legs.

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Lean and clean and the perfect way to sneak in some protein before my pasta dinner.

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Homemade tagliatelle, lemon, fava beans, red pepper, goat cheese and chives.  OMG, I have never had a pasta dish explode with flavor the way this one did.  The citrus and herb exploded in my mouth!  It was very creamy from the goat cheese, so it was light and rich at the same time. In fact, I could only eat half my dish.

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Frank got the Wisdom Farm Chicken Char Grilled – harissa, cumin yogurt, cucumber, couscous & almond salad.  This dish also exploded with flavor when it hit the palate.  The cous cous was quite amazing.

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Frank was in a totally out of character mood for dessert, so we ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  The most amazing thing about this dessert was how low a temp the ice cream was frozen at.  While the cake was literally piping hot, the ice cream didn’t melt into a puddle ever!  It was pretty ingenious in my book because typically your ice cream comes on the side or is melting before it arrives, but super cold ice cream kept the dish and presentation fully intact.

The next morning we hit the gym, enjoyed a people watching brunch at Marlowe’s on 16th Street and bid Denver goodbye.  I was sort of sad to leave, but as the gorgeous snowcapped mountains emerged on our ride to Boulder, I knew where I was heading was exactly where I wanted to be.

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Not bad for a photo taken through a car window on a cell phone!

Our Boulder hotel was not quite the Brown Palace…it was in fact, the Rodeway Inn/Broker Inn.  All the hotels within walking distance to the start of the race had sold out by the time we booked, so Rodeway it was.

Check out our room:

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Toiletries provided:

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  While it may not have been a turn down service kind of establishment, the service was friendly, it seemed pretty clean and they offered breakfast at 6AM for runners. Plus, POOL VIEW!

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After we dropped off our stuff we headed to the expo.  It was outdoors and the exact location “Pearl St Mall” wasn’t immediately apparent so it took us a while to find it.

This looked like an expo, but was a random fair going on

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Eventually we found the expo area…

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But it took us quite a while to actually find out where to get our bibs.  There were no signs or people directing anything.  Finally we found it hidden behind a registration tent.  While registration had about 100 people waiting and waiting, the bib pick up tent for those preregistered had no line at all!

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Victory!  We were ready to go! While the expo wasn’t the most organized I had ever been to, the Bolder Boulder itself was wonderfully executed, and I’ll tell you more soon! 

I am off to meet Ashley for a Go Recess Cardio and Cocktail workout! Cheers!

Eating Good in the Neighborhood

The week is off to a busy, but great start!  I had a great weekend and my good mood isn’t going anywhere!  I thought I would share some of my favorite eats from the weekend, as well as some exciting news!

On Thursday I met friends at Pure for a drink (I was happy to see it was PACKED) and then we headed around the corner to Bar Jamon for a little more delicious wine and some yummy tapas.  This spread really reminded me of Spain:

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Pan con tomate, mussels, fried anchovy, and goat cheese.  Yum.  I stuck to the cheese and pan con tomate– two major staples of diet during my time studying abroad in Madrid.  Small plates is definitely my favorite way to eat and I love the cozy feel of Bar Jamon.

On Friday, we tried a new place with friends called the Mussel Pot.  The space was sleek and modern with a cute little outdoor area complete with waterfall. I love mussels and this place had everything from traditional to more exotic styles, such as thai curry mussels.  Fortunately, if you don’t love mussels there are also plenty of other options.  We ordered a lot (and then ate a lot!), I had the fra diavolo which were mildly spicy with a great tomato sauce.  I also ordered some delicious sweet potato fries for the table.  We also split the tuna tartare which had a great guacamole base.

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Yes, I was definitely a fan and look forward to going back!

Tasty things have been coming from my own kitchen as well!  After a bunch of fancy dinners out, I’ve kept things a little simpler at home.

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Roasted brussels sprouts and a quinoa cake from whole foods (it ended up being way too sweet, but more room for brussels!).

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Sweet Potato Soup with Apple, Orange and Cayenne.

Most recently, we took a second stab at risotto!  We tried a lemon and pea risotto with shrimp.

Lots of stirring:

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I really wanted to make a balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top. However, after two failed attempts, I gave up. Who knew it would be so hard to make something with just two ingredients? Anyways, Frank drizzled the balsamic straight from the bottle and loved it!

And salad with a homemade dressing.

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In addition to all the excitement around eating, there has been some other exciting news in my running life!

Reach the Beach Relay

Our Reach the Beach Relay leg assignments have been determined! I have to say, when I ranked my preferences, I was really nervous to disappoint my team, take forever or just fail all together. I am not a very competitive person, so I don’t really put a lot of pressure on myself when I am running or racing alone. However, I put a ton of pressure on myself when other people are counting on me. 

I thought about a few things when I was selecting the legs that would work best for me:

  1. My running shape right now—I am not running crazy long distances and I am still having the occasional ache and pain, so I wanted something that wouldn’t be a huge stretch for my fitness level, but that would still demand that I committed to regular training.
  2. When I would start and finish. I was too nervous to lead the team or be the last one finished, I wanted to be anywhere in between.
  3. The times I would be running. In the end, I decided this didn’t matter too much to me.  I don’t love running in the dark, but I can handle it.
  4. The difficulty of the legs. I wanted a mix of easy, moderate and hard.

So here’s what I got!

  • Runner 1 (10.55 miles): Jess
  • Runner 2 (18.97miles): Patricia

——->Runner 3 (14.35 miles): Melissa <——— ME

  • Runner 4 (14.32 miles): Bridget
  • Runner 5 (11.51 miles): Gretchen
  • Runner 6 (16.4 miles): Sarah
  • Runner 7 (19.69 miles): Tina
  • Runner 8 (22.48 miles): Monica
  • Runner 9 (19.82 miles): Theodora
  • Runner 10 (14.77 miles): Elizabeth
  • Runner 11 (17.36 miles): Anne
  • Runner 12 (16.74 miles): Ashley

I am pretty excited about my legs!

The first two are moderate difficulty and 5.98 miles and 5.67 (M) miles.  The last one is only 2.7 miles and easy intensity, so I hope to be able to really give it my all at the end!

I kind of wish I had pushed myself more to really challenge myself, but in the end I am happy that I don’t have to be crazy nervous!

See you all soon!

Dining One Ingredient at a Time at Eleven Madison Park

Last night, I may have eaten the most exquisite meal of my life. It’s a big statement, I know.  But from unbelievable service to surprise courses to stunning flavors, our dinner at Eleven Madison Park exceeded even our highest expectations.  Dining at Eleven Madison is a unique experience unlike any other I have had or even heard about, and you’ll soon see why! We owe a huge thank you to Foodbuzz and the 24 x 24 program for making this evening possible.

When we arrived at Eleven Madison Park or (EMP), we were warmly greeted. This was almost expected because everyone we had spoken to on the phone trying to reserve a table had been so friendly.  We were shown to the bar while we waited for our table.

The bar area is very cool with a huge selection of liquors and stacks of old fashion bartender books in neat piles. The wine menu on the wall was made of little wood tiles, almost like a train schedule for wine.

I started with a lovely glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

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Frank had an A la Louisianne cocktail which was made with rye whiskey, vermouth and bitters. Before it was served the orange rind in the glass was lit on fire (sort of like Katniss)!

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They also brought out a few little nibbles.

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While we were enjoying our drinks, the floor manager came over and introduced himself and said that if there was anything we needed to simply ask.  It’s very hard to describe the level of service at EMP.  The service was friendly, but not overly formal, and yet unbelievably accommodating. The best I can do is to say that every single person working in the restaurant wanted to ensure we had the best evening imaginable, as if we were the only customers.

Our table was at the back of the restaurant and we shared one side of the table.  This gave us a view of everything going on in the restaurant, as well as Madison Square Park outside.

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We were given a hot cloth to refresh ourselves upon sitting.

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Once we were settled in, the real excitement began!

EMP has a menu-style that I like to call “choose your own adventure dining.”  The first time I saw this menu, I was a little shocked, take a look:

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Unlike a traditional menu, you just select one ingredient from each line (with no additional description) and leave the rest in the hands of the chef! From the restaurant:

Our menu format is intended to offer an experience in which our guests can enjoy the inherent surprise of a tasting menu, while still maintaining some control. Dishes are listed solely by their principal ingredients, and guests are invited to make their selections, share any thoughts or preferences, including any ingredient dislikes, and allow us to design their meal from there.

I have to admit, I am not always the most adventurous person. I had to step a little outside my comfort zone, but in a way that was freeing and exciting!  I actually love that the menu concept concentrates on just one ingredient and elevating it to the highest level.

After we selected our courses, we were asked our likes and dislikes. For me, I requested nothing with fennel or mushrooms including truffles and nothing too salty. I almost said my likes include Brussels sprouts, but decided to just let go and see what happened.

Before food, there were wine decisions to make.  After a long conversation with the sommelier, we decided on a half bottle of white and a half bottle of red.

Soon after we ordered our wine, our first surprise came out:

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A box of bite size black and white cookies. One of the fun things about the tasting menu at EMP is that they have lots of special dishes in addition to what you ordered.  Many of them are new takes on NYC classics, such as Black and White Cookies!

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This was a “savory” little cookie! It had a very intense flavor, almost like a rich cheese cracker!

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Quail Eggs on toast crisps!

I told you I was prepared to be brave!!! I didn’t have too much to worry about – these tasted a lot like regular eggs.

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Smoked Apple Soup with Thyme

This was almost like chicken soup.  It had an intense flavor that almost reminded me of bacon,  but it was really just the smokiness of the apple!!

 

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Next up was two little bites, the first was a scallop with mustard seed.

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The second was sashimi on plantain crisps. Both were light and delicious.

It was at this point I realized that we hadn’t even had our first course!!!

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Dessert already? Kind of.  This is the EMP take on fro yo!

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Not quite 16 Handles, but interesting. IMG_4022

Little chickpea cakes!

I loved all the silverware at the restaurant,and believe me, there was a lot of re-setting throughout the night!

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Oh, and here we are! One of the reasons I was so excited about this night, was because I am so happy that Frank ran his first half alone last weekend.  I am very lucky that he takes interest in my hobbies (such as running).  Now I just wish he wasn’t so much faster than me!!!

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The bread came all tucked in (perhaps ready for a long night’s slumber). It was after 11PM at this point.

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With two types of butter and fleur de sol.

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I love the little details like the perfectly centered herb in the butter! So simple and yet, I wouldn’t have thought of it myself.

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This warm little roll was sent straight from heaven. It was one of the best rolls I have ever consumed, and believe me I never pass on the bread basket. We were offered as much as we wanted, but I knew that I would never be able to get past the first course if I accepted that offer!

For our first course, we ordered:

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Hamachi and cauliflower, these simple ingredients transformed into:

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The cauliflower was turned into a cous cous that had black olive and an orange vinaigrette. Inside this pile was a delicious green parsley cream that mixed perfectly with the cauliflower.  We both loved this dish.

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Frank’s fish was served with a kale and olive oil sauce and rye crisps.  The green sauce tasted a lot like green juice and was a stark contrast to the delicate fish.

Next up:

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Both plantains and lobster need very little to be delicious, so I was pretty excited to see what they did with these.

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The plantain was left to shine and the garnishes only elevated it! Along with the seared plantain there was black-eyed pea and ham with a  smoky au jus-type sauce.  The black-eyed peas  were a combination of half fried and half steamed. I noticed this technique used a few times over the course of the evening.  It’s amazing how two different textures really make a big impact on the flavor.

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Frank had the lobster, which had a very ethereal presentation, but was perfectly cooked and incredibly sweet.

For our main dishes we chose:

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The chicken was simply roasted with sides of apple braised kale and cabbage and a slightly crunchy quinoa.  This felt like a holiday,it would actually be fairly easy to create at home.   In addition to a roast chicken,you would just need to braise kale and cabbage in a sweet red wine vinegar and apple and serve it with a lightly toasted quinoa. The ingredients worked together perfectly!

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Frank had a perfectly cooked piece of filet with tiny little fingerling potatoes and an a burgundy sauce.

It was then time for dessert!!

Before our selections came out, there were more a la NYC surprises!

A take on the NYC egg cream made tableside.

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The egg cream was made with orange infused syrup, chocolate infused milk and topped with seltzer.

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Frank loved this!!!

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The other NYC treat was a decomposed strawberry cheesecake. It was light and refreshing!

And finally…our dessert selections, chocolate and milk

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I was asked if I preferred milk or dark chocolate, and the truth is I prefer the former.

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Here it is milk and chocolate.  There is a light olive oil swirl in the milk and chocolate sorbet buried under the chocolate crumbs.  IMG_4111

Frank got the “milk,” which was a dash of ice cream surrounded by crunchy delights including walnuts.

But believe it or not, it wasn’t over!  We were presented with yet another mystery box!

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It contained the sweet version of the Black and White cookies we began with.  We took it home because we couldn’t fit in another bite! However, just in case we didn’t feel like cooking breakfast the next day, we received a mason jar of granola on our way out the door!

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Like everything we had last night, the granola is both simple, yet unexpected.  In fact, you can try it for yourself, the recipe is at the end of the post!

As I said, I didn’t really know what to expect, except the unexpected—and that’s what I got!  I was overwhelmed by how much care the staff took to make the experience special.  I loved the little touches, like the NYC themed cookies and egg cream. A few of the surprise courses were a bit more exotic than I would order on my own, but I am happy that I tried everything.

This meal really showed me how to to take one ingredient and make it shine.  I think it’s a fun way to think about recipe planning, to focus on just one item and building from there.   It was fun to have EMP custom build our menu based on what we liked.  If we had specified, vegetarian or dairy free, I am sure they would have accommodated us.  In fact, vegetables are stars on the EMP menu, you can take a look at a few of their notable vegetable recipes here!

I want to once again thank Foodbuzz for this wonderful opportunity!  We won’t have a meal this special again in a long time!

Eleven Madison Park Granola (recipe courtesy of the NYTimes)

2 3⁄4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/3 cup pumpkinseeds
1 tablespoon salt
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3⁄4 cup dried sour cherries.

1. Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkinseeds and salt.

2. In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.

3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.

4. Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container. Makes about 6 cups.

Bright Birthday

I am not one to get excited about birthdays.  In fact, it’s kind of the opposite.   However, yesterday was a pretty great birthday filled with fun surprises, small indulgences, delicious food and fun workouts.

Frank and I woke up early (for us) to kick off the big 2-9 with a short run. It was a good 30 degrees colder than the day before and we weren’t dressed appropriately,  so it ended up being a short, sweet, sprint.  Well, sprint for me–keeping up with the boy isn’t easy!  Just over 2 brisk miles later, we ended at Liquiteria where I grabbed an All Green with Apple! It really is the breakfast of champions.   Plus there were some fun surprises waiting in my office when I arrived! I am glad I didn’t take the day off.

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Midmorning I supplemented my juice with several handfuls of Golden Grahams.  Having these by my desk at work was a horrible idea.  I have no control over Golden Grahams whatsoever! It was a strange impulse buy last week when I wanted something to put in my yogurt.

Anywho, I treated myself to a quick dry lunch hour manicure, before picking up lunch at ‘wichcraft to bring back to my desk.  (I find it difficult to take a non-weird picture of my fingers!)

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I had a goat cheese and avocado sandwich with walnut pesto, watercress and celery on cranberry walnut bread. It was at good as it sounds!  I will definitely be getting this again.2012-03-15_13.06.19

As hinted at before,flowers arrived at work later in the afternoon!  A colorful bouquet of tulips will brighten even the greyest office.  And let’s be honest, yesterday was pretty grey around these parts.2012-03-15_16.15.47 (1)

After work I went to Physique 57 for a birthday butt kicking.  Sarah C. didn’t disappoint!  She was super upbeat and counted everything down, so we knew exactly how much pain to expect. The class killed me.  My thighs had not known torture until yesterday, or the last class I took at Physique.  Oh, the burn! Fortunately, it felt great when it was over and I hobbled back home.  Oh, if you haven’t checked out P57’s corporate discounts, you may be eligible for 15% off!

I arrived home to a spotless apartment, thanks to our amazing housekeeper! I got ready for dinner fairly quickly, so that I could make it to Sephora in time to get my free birthday present! 

 

I also used a giftcard to buy a Bobbi Brown lipgloss in Rose Gold. At first I felt a little silly announcing to the woman at the register that it was my birthday, what am I five?  But I really wanted my Fresh Sugar Kiss Lip Duo, so I did.   She was actually REALLY nice about it, enthusiastic even!  She wished me happy birthday and whipped out my free treat right away. I should have told more people it was my birthday ;).

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Dinner was set for Gotham Bar and Grill.

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There aren’t too many fancy restaurants in the Union Square area, but this is one of them.  It’s tucked away on 12th street, where you’d hardly expect it.  Billowing white fabric chandeliers are the key feature of the decor, creating an airy, formal ambience.  We were greeted warmly right away and seated shortly thereafter.  The menu is New American/asian fusion with a strong French influence.  We started out by selected a bottle of white burgundy that was in our price range and quite delicious, very light and subtle with a little punch of flavor.

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We shared the famous tuna tartare, which they kindly split for us.  It was perfection, rather than mayo, it was made with a sweet miso, so it was much lighter than most tartares.  It almost had a cerviche quality.  I loved the  thinly sliced japanese cucumbers surrounding the dish, they were exceptional. They portion was quite generous as well.

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Next up, I got the Maine lobster with beluga lentils, califlower, golden raisins and eggplant in a curry butter emulsion.IMG_3929

The lobster was perfectly cooked with no toughness at all and the curry sauce was to die for!  It was  both light and rich at the same time.IMG_3936

Frank got the signature miso marinated black cod with boy choy, mushrooms, rice in a lemongrass, ginger sauce.  It was out of this world!  The flavors were described by our waitress as “in your face,” and while they truly shown through, they weren’t overpowering.  All the ingredients on the dish worked in perfect harmony.

We finished with the warm chocolate cake.  It had a dark chocolate flavor and light mousse texture. It wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy the mini lemon meringue bites and peanut butter brownie cups!IMG_3938 IMG_3939 IMG_3948

‘Twas a great night and I am excited for brunch with friends tomorrow.

A Highly Appetizing Weekend

My unofficial weekend started with a delicious meal at Candle Cafe which was only trumped by the company, Miss Gena.  You can check out my dinner here, I had no idea the fried potatoes were actually french fries!  Oh well, they were balanced with two big piles of green goodness and divine tempeh.

On Friday night, I met some girlfriends for a quick drink and then had a late dinner with the boy.  We are trying to break out of the same five places we always go, so I decided to take him to one of the very first places I ever ate after moving to the city.  Il Corallo Trattoria, it’s a very homey, unbelievably cheap, and super yummy italian place with an open fourth wall and a pasta list that goes on for pages.  I love it. I got the verdura pomodora

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and he got a tomato cream papparadelle with broccoli

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Carb heaven!

Last night we kind of haphazardly did a LES progressive dinner.  We had hoped to meet up with friends, so we just kind of wondered into places we had been wanting try.  This started with drinks at Macondo

Source: Macondo website

I had a delicious white sangria with pineapple and mango.

Then we put in our name at the Meatball Shop and wondered until we decided to have  a drink at Inoteca.

 

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Since we had a 1.5-2 hour wait, we decided to our some bruschetta and rice balls

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I loved the ricotta and honey, but wasn’t a huge fan of the caponata.  The boy loved the pesto.

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I actually preferred the brown rice balls we had a while ago on the Inoteca on 24th.

However, we had the best table in the house, a great window bench that was wide open to the street.

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We headed to Meatball Shop, which was highly recommended by Ashley.

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It was great!  Definitely one of the more affordable places in the city—and who doesn’t like to check off their order?

His:

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Her’s:

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Our orders make him look friendly and me look high maintenance…hmmm

Fabulous, I was too full to get through very much of it, but happily asked for a to go box.

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Veggie balls with greens and vegetables, no sauce required!

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The veggie of the day: beets, ricotta, argula and lemon

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Sliders

The next stop was a friend’s roof top before a final drink (well sip for me) at Tribly’s.

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It’s been a really perfect weekend so far, now I need to return to cleaning!

Summer is Here

What a great weekend!  It really feels like the endless winter is gone.  Can I actually put away the parka I wore last weekend? Hmmm.

The first major event of the long weekend was a wedding. It was at the Liberty House in New    Jersey.  It was really a spectacular venue.  Great views of the city, tons of indoor and outdoor space, it transitioned perfectly from day to night and there was lots of food and drink!IMG_1268

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Callo lillies, my favorite flower!

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Sunday night we had a great dinner with Bo and Ashley at Yerba Buena Perry.

In addition to two glasses of delicious Rose Brut, we shared:

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Guac, which has a creamy yet hearty texture due to chipotle, queso fresco and onion.  Yum.

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Cerviche Tacos

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Avocado, yuca and watermelon fries, interesting.

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Ashley and I both got the tilapia fish tacos, which were excellent.  I got spinach with figs, which I also loved.  We booked our reservation through Village Vines Concierge, so we got 30% off the entire bill including drinks.  Village Vines now has friday bookings at select restaurants, so it’s a great deal.

The rest of the weekend included sunbathing on the rooftop, a sweaty 7 mile run with Ashley, Manhattanhenge and a very ambitious salsa making extravaganza.  I will report back on the last two soon.

Also, if you’re feeling a bit sore—I know running+strength training always leaves me tight, check out my MELT review on NBC Go Healthy.

Vegan Curious

As you know, I am not a vegan in even the loosest interpretation.  However, my  latest post on NBC Go Healthy is actually about vegan dining options.

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So while I admit, I am not vegan, and I am sure some of you are wondering where the heck I get off writing about vegan food, I have dabbled in vegan, raw, vegetarian and pescatarian diets.  In fact, I would say I am mainly a vegetarian with minus a meal or two a month.

I  appreciate how vegetarian foods make me feel and the many health and environmental benefits they offer.  Originally, the driving force in my decision to stop eating meat on a regular basis was when I started learning more about the treatment of animals.  Today, if I choose to have animal protein in my meal, I always opt for the most humane sources possible. While I have never been strictly vegan, vegan meals are certainly one part of my diet.

I love eating out and healthy food, s0 eating in vegan restaurants makes it easy to combine the two.  Over the years, dining in vegan restaurants has  introduced to me a whole array of foods I had never tried before–coconut, mango, avocado, kombucha, tempeh, hemp…the list goes on.  Not only is this flavor palate full of flavor, but I love that it is also healthy.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of dining with Gena at Counter.  While the conversation, laughs and gossip made the evening, the meal was delicious as well.

We shared a trio of appetizers: white bean hummus, butternut squash and broccoli raab crostini and crusted kombocha squash.

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For my main, I had the brown rice salad, which was delicious.  counter bar method 067

Nom Nom Nom

As you’ve probably noticed, I eat out quite a bit.  While I try to stick to vegetarian options, my dining partners are rarely vegetarian.   Generally, restaurants offer both options, so everyone wins.

Cooking for a meat and non-meat eater can be a bit more difficult.  I’ve handled it many ways.  One is to make a mainly vegetarian meal and then just have a small meat addition, like store bought meatballs or a piece of chicken for whoever wants meat. Another is to find a vegetarian meal that doesn’t seem like just vegetables, such as pizza, pastas or soups and salads with tempeh.

The final option is to make something that can be easily assembled to be veggie or meaty, such as a taco bar.

This weekend I had quite a bit of time, so I made spaghetti squash with two sauces.  Eggplant caponata for me, one of my all time favorite foods, and bolognese sauce for him—both from Everyday Italian.  These were served over spaghetti squash, which we both adore.  It was a true win win.  We both loved our toppings.  While the eggplant version could easily be vegan, I added just a bit of homemade fresh mozzarella, which was like velvet, perfection!

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And a simple bruschetta that we both loved

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(Tomato, basil, onion, garlic, splash balsamic vinegar and black pepper over toasted baguette—I let the tomato mixture marinate for a few hours, which made a big difference.)

Whatever your dietary preferences, don’t be afraid to try new things.  Often labeling foods gives them an association that evokes a trigger or fear, but really good healthy food can come in any form no meat or dairy or label required.

Also, let me know if I missed any of your favorite meals or restaurants! :)