Recent Eats

I’ve had quite a few memorable meals recently.

Lamb hash with potatoes, peas, feta, herbs, and fried egg

Lamb hash with potatoes, peas, feta, herbs, and fried egg

Brunch at Olea in Fort Greene was vaguely gluttonous, but so worth it. We shared the lamb hash above, and still felt stuffed for hours later. I think I could eat lamb in some form for every meal and not get sick of it.

We might have felt a little less ill had we not STARTED our feast with bacon-wrapped dates.

Oh, and this:

 

Homemade ricotta with warm plum compote, honey, almonds, and sea salt

Homemade ricotta with warm plum compote, honey, almonds, and sea salt

I have to say, I’m not even a huge cheese fan, but this was outrageous- the combination of warm fruit, salty honey, and creamy ricotta made my mouth so incredibly happy, and I don’t think I could come back and not order this dish if it stays on the menu. I half hope it does/doesn’t…

On Monday, my dad came into the city to spend the day, and we had a great time walking from midtown down to the Lower East Side. After walking 40+ blocks, we built up an appetite (it actually doesn’t take much for me), and we ended up at a New York institution.

Confession: Before Monday, I had never been to Katz’s Delicatessen. Yes, I’ve lived in New York for eight years. Yes, I am ashamed to admit this. But better late than never, right?

I knew I had to order their famous pastrami, so I got the half-sandwich and soup combo with chicken noodle soup.

Katz's famous pastrami and sweet potato knish

Katz’s famous pastrami and sweet potato knish

My apologies for the poor photo quality – it doesn’t do their food justice. I totally get the hype about their pastrami. It’s definitely the best sandwich meat I’ve ever tasted; incredibly juicy, and almost a bacony (!) taste. The chicken noodle soup was the definition of comfort food, and the sweet potato knish we shared was a knockout. It was the first knish I’ve ever had, and I think I’m now a fan of the soft, doughy pastry.

Dad and his giant (matzo) ball

Dad and his giant (matzo) ball

Another exciting part of our lunch at Katz’s was seeing the infamous seat where Meg Ryan had her fake “O” in When Harry Met Sally. I’m not usually a big fan of chick flicks, but it’s one of my favorite movies, and it was neat seeing such an iconic spot.

If Sally had ordered what I had, she wouldn't have had to fake it...

If Sally had ordered what I had, she wouldn’t have had to fake it…

Now to detox before Thanksgiving… right ;-)

Hello From Bed-Stuy

Colorful Brooklyn Brownstones

Colorful Brooklyn Brownstones

I can’t believe we’ve been living in Bed-Stuy for almost two months – it feels like we’re still getting to know the area, and there’s still a lot of work to be done in our apartment. We basically have our necessities in place, but there’s no real style element yet… hopefully now that the weather will be getting colder, we’ll be more inclined to stay indoors and get some work done!

That said, I’ve really enjoyed exploring our neighborhood and the surrounding areas, such as Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, both only short walks away. It’s been refreshing to live in a part of Brooklyn that still has so much to offer, but doesn’t feel as crowded or ultra-trendy as Williamsburg.

Of course, it’s important to me to live near places that serve delicious food, and I’ve discovered a few new go-to’s:

SCRATCHbread: I literally live one block away from this place, and they serve amazing breakfast sandwiches, flatbreads, and even grits(!) I’m not even a grits fan, but theirs are to die for. I even apprenticed there for a bit, and learned how to make several of their famous breads- not that I could replicate them at home, but it was fun to see how everything is made

Seasonal Veggie Flatbread from SCRATCHbread

Seasonal Veggie Flatbread from SCRATCHbread

Urban Vintage: This cafe/decor heaven is actually in Clinton Hill, but because we live on the border, it’s only a short walk. I fell in love with this airy, sun-filled space the first time I went in, and while it’s not cheap, I think it’s my new favorite place to bring my laptop, order a big cup of coffee, and attempt to get some work done. It’s usually fairly crowded, but I’ve never had to wait for a table. They also sell some beautiful home accents and accessories, but until I can afford them, I’ll just stick to fancy coffee.

Americano at Urban Vintage

Americano at Urban Vintage

Aita: This is another Clinton Hill gem (I’ll talk about Bed-Stuy proper soon enough!) Being Italian, I’m a sucker for homemade pasta, and every pasta dish I’ve tried here has been extraordinary. The first meal I had was homemade kale cavatelli with sausage, corn, and fresh herbs, and most recently I got cavatelli again with cauliflower and pumpkin seed pesto- divine! I love that they keep their menu seasonal, and they also serve a great brunch on weekends. It’s the kind of place that everyone we’ve taken there has loved.

My Boyfriend's Oxtail Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce at Aita

My Boyfriend’s Oxtail Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce at Aita

I’ll be posting about more of my favorite neighborhood spots soon, and in the meantime, I’ll try to heed this neighbor’s warning :)

Good thing I don't have a dog!

Good thing I don’t have a dog!

Dinner by Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker at the James Beard House

Last Tuesday, September 10th, I got to experience a one of a kind, multi-course dinner by Andy Ricker of Pok Pok. A few months ago, my boyfriend asked me if I would be interested in going – he had accumulated points through his credit card, and one of the things he could redeem them for was this event. I immediately said yes, marked it on my calendar, and from then on, counted down the days until the dinner.

I had never been to the James Beard House, nor Pok Pok, but I had heard excellent things about both, and the event didn’t disappoint. We started the evening in the backyard of the house, and were served several unique hors d’oeuvres, along with unlimited beer, wine, and champagne. They also had interesting mixers by Pok Pok Som – drinking vinegars in flavors like Pomegranate and Thai Basil.

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Appetizer Menu

My boyfriend couldn’t stop eating the Khai Luuk Kheoi, which were deep fried hard boiled eggs – I was skeptical at first, since I’m not usually a fan of greasy fried foods, but they weren’t too heavy, and the texture was unlike anything I can recall eating (in a good way). My favorite was the Sateh Hoi Malaeng Puu, which was a skewer of mussels in a curry sauce.

When it was time for dinner, we all headed inside to the beautiful dining room, where we were served different wines to accompany each course.

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Dinner Menu

I wish the lighting had been better for taking photos of the food itself, but I will never complain about a candle-lit dinner. I had been expecting small, tasting-sized plates, but each course was a standard restaurant portion! It might sound cliche to say that everything was delicious, but I really enjoyed each dish’s unique qualities. My favorites, however, included the Lon Tao Jiaw, which was a creamy, soybean dip with coconut milk, pork, and prawns. I could have eaten a bowl of it as a soup, but I tried to be polite and shoveled spoonfuls of it onto the accompanying sticky rice. My other favorite was the Kaeng Kari Neua, which was a more traditional, but still delicious short rib in a coconut curry sauce with potatoes.

The one flavor that I was unsure of was the durian used in a custard that made up one of the dessert courses. I wouldn’t say I disliked it, but it was definitely pungent and strong, and I might have to let it grow on me a bit. However, seeing as I had never had it before, I’m glad I now know what it tastes like.

I learned that these dinners generally cost between $150-$250, and I feel grateful to have experienced such a wonderful meal without having to pay. That said, I think the price tag is worth it, and I would absolutely go back and pay for my next dinner there without hesitation. The service was smooth and constant, without any lags between courses. The entire event ran about three hours, so it wasn’t rushed either. I see it as paying for an experience rather than a mere dinner. The courses were plentiful and substantial, and the fact that all alcohol was included adds to the appropriateness of the cost. There are no gratuities, and each guest was even given a large gift bag as they left. The bag itself is a great value – it included some exotic sea salts, a bottle of the Som drinking vinegar, wine stoppers, and a hardcover book of recipes by James Beard Award-Winning chefs (a $60 value alone).

If you’re interested in their upcoming events, you can look them up here. I highly recommend it!

Northport, Long Island

This summer, I had the pleasure of working at a theatre in the charming town of Northport, Long Island. It’s about an hour long ride on the LIRR, and if you’re ever looking for an escape from the city, I highly recommend checking it out. Main Street leads right down to the harbor, and I used to enjoy bringing my dinner to the water between shows. The sunsets were spectacular, and there was often free music playing nearby, courtesy of local bands.

Swan in the harbor at sunset

Main Street is filled with quaint shops and restaurants. One of my favorite places was Wolfie’s Frozen Custard, where I had a delicious lemon ice cream. If you’re looking for a fun and romantic late-night spot after the theatre, the Wine Cellar on Main offers a nice selection of wines, tapas, cheeses, and desserts.

The most famous eating establishment is arguably Maroni, which boasts a multi-course chef’s tasting menu for dinner (at a price, although alcohol is included). My boyfriend and I opted for the more modest take-out route, and shared a pot of their famous meatballs, which won in a Food Network Throwdown against Bobby Flay. I thought they were hands down better than The Meatball Shop in NYC, which I also love.

Famous meatball pot from Maroni

Of course this was the “personal pot,” although it left us both stuffed – I don’t know how one person could finish it solo! Also, it was a decent deal for $22 – eight meatballs, loads of spaghetti, and you get to keep the pot!

If you’re looking for a place to stay overnight, my friend Diane owns a beautiful bed and breakfast that’s about a seven minute walk from downtown, and the rates are incredibly reasonable – direct message me for contact information!

The End of an Era

Since 2011, my primary residence has been Williamsburg. In five days, I’ll be making the move to a neighborhood fairly foreign to me: the Bed-Stuy / Clinton Hill border. I’ve loved Williamsburg in all of its too-cool-for-school glory, and I know part of me will miss living down the street from Fatty ‘Cue, walking over the Williamsburg Bridge at my leisure, browsing the racks at Amarcord, and hitting up Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea on the weekends. Not that I won’t be able to partake in what Williamsburg has to offer anymore, but it won’t be right outside my door.

Rainbow Yarn Graffiti on the Williamsburg Bridge

Rainbow Yarn Graffiti on the Williamsburg Bridge

I will say, I’m mostly excited for the move. I’m looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood in Brooklyn, one that feels a little more residential.

I’m also looking forward to:

  • Lower rent (!), and the fact that I’ll be living with my boyfriend as opposed to two other (albeit very sweet) girls.
  • Having outdoor space for the very first time since I moved to New York eight years ago, and learning how to use a grill.
  • Living around the corner from this restaurant, after having heard really neat things about it.
  • Being four blocks from the G train – yes, it has its problems, but I like that it makes getting around Brooklyn more doable.

Once I’m settled, I’ll be sure to post about any cool findings in my new hood. In the meantime, if you have any Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill recommendations, I’d love to hear what they are!