Monday, August 31, 2009

Sagaponack In Manhattan

Manhattanites will soon be able to sample a taste of Sagaponack in the space that previously housed Prey Bar & Lounge. According to the signs hanging in its windows, Sagaponack restaurant is slated to open at 4 West 22nd Street on September 9 with "Wholesome food/Casual lunch/Great price". If the pictures on the signage are any indication of Sagaponack's menu, the restaurant will serve American fare such as tuna tartare, lobster rolls, corn on the cob and frosted cupcakes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fish Tacos With Fruit Salsa

To combat a dreary Saturday rife with clouds and rain I made a light fish taco and topped it with a bright salsa. I adapted the grilled mahi-mahi recipe from Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar (, one of my favorite restaurants in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and one of the winners of Live With Regis & Kelly's Ultimate Hometown Grill Off (the restaurant's Grilled Mahi-Mahi Sandwich took home top honors in the healthy sandwich category). The salsa is made with juicy fruits including a ripe seasonal peach. The recipes for Grilled Mahi-Mahi Tacos and Sweet Summer Salsa are below.

Grilled Mahi-Mahi Tacos (yield, 8 tacos)
4 6 oz. mahi-mahi filets
1 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 6-inch soft shell tacos
1 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 cup shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1. Whisk together teriyaki sauce, garlic powder, and dried basil. Reserve 1/4 cup and pour rest over mahi-mahi filets. Allow to marinate in fridge for 30 min.
2. Add reserved 1/4 cup marinade to mayonnaise and set aside.
3. Heat grill to high temp and grill mahi-mahi filets (2- 2 1/2 minutes per side), brushing on mayonnaise/marinade combination while grilling.
4. Assemble each taco with 1/2 mahi-mahi filet topped with shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced tomatoes, and sweet summer salsa (recipe follows).

Sweet Summer Salsa (yield, approx. 2 cups)
1/2 cup mango, small dice
1/2 cup peach, small dice (after dicing, squeeze the peach and add juice into the bowl)
1/4 cup orange bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup pineapple, small dice (after dicing, add any pineapple juice that collects into the bowl)
2 tsps cilantro, chopped
2 tsps scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp agave nectar
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
2. Top grilled mahi-mahi tacos with fresh sweet summer salsa.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Sentimental Favorite

Anthony Bourdain paid a visit to the snow covered streets of Buffalo while filming a segment on Rust Belt cities for his show, No Reservations. While in the "frosty, mostly forgotten end of New York State" (his words, not mine) Anthony sampled Buffalo's culinary claims to fame, beef on weck and chicken wings (don't forget the liver dumpling soup) at Schwabl's and Ulrich's, respectively. Sadly, the segment showcased Nelson Starr's penchant for pig roasts and his band (Nelson being the reason Anthony came to Buffalo) over Buffalo's bustling food scene. But, as Anthony tells his followers and many angry Buffalonians in his blog, "I'm quite sure there's somebody's idea of 'better' beef-on-wek [sic] somewhere else ... and that we missed (fill in blank here) and that there's somebody doing really excellent fine dining across town, but again, this misses the point. One of the 'take-aways' from this show, I hope, is that people who might never in a million years have considered Buffalo as a place to visit, will say 'Hey! Buffalo actually looks pretty cool!' Like Cleveland, it's become a sentimental favorite." So I, unlike others who have dissected this episode of No Reservations, will not fault Anthony for missing a number of Buffalo's (and its surrounding suburbs') tastiest dining establishments. I will however point out some local favorites - with the expectation that Anthony will make it up North again...after all, how long can he ignore a "sentimental favorite"?

Beef on Weck:
CHARLIE THE BUTCHER: Nelson Starr chose to take Anthony to Schwabl's for one of Buffalo's specialties, beef on weck. A legend for many reasons, Charlie the Butcher also carves tender roast beef and serves it on a kummelweck roll- and some would say the restaurant does it better.

Chicken (whole, wings, and fingers):
CHIAVETTA'S: The malt-vinegar marinade on Chiavetta's chicken is a culinary delight. Chiavetta's barbecues have been an institution in Western New York for over 50 yrs.

ANCHOR BAR: The Anchor Bar originated the chicken wing in 1964 and a star was born. Today, as in 1964, their world famous wings are served with traditional celery and bleu cheese.

DUFF'S: Duff's Famous Wings works hard to keep its reputation as best wing producer in the Buffalo area. On a given night hundreds of customers try their hand at Duff's legendary "death sauce".

GABRIEL'S GATE: Gabriel's Gate, located down the street from Nietzsche's (where Nelson Starr's band performs and Anthony Bourdain spent some quality drinking time), is also known for having great wings.

JIM'S STEAKOUT: Open until 5:00am, Jim's Steakout's unbelievably delicious chicken finger sub is a great way to end a night (or start a morning).

Sahlen's Hot Dogs:
LOUIE'S: A footlong with the works includes mustard, relish, ketchup, chopped onions and a pickle spear.

TED'S: Ted's has a strong reputation, but going forward I will head to Louie's for my hot dog fix. Ted's grouchy manager was extremely opposed to pictures and in my opinion that warrants suspicion! A customer allowed me to snap a quick picture of his footlong.

SCIME'S RITE PRICE MARKET: Scime's fresh sausages are an outstanding addition to any cookout, and its staff is extremely knowledgable and friendly.

JUST PIZZA: Just Pizza serves over 75 varieties of pizza and is the originator of the 3 cheese steak pizza.

CASA DI PIZZA: Casa di Pizza was established in 1953 and is as popular today as it was back then.

MR. PIZZA: Mr. Pizza consistently produces great pizza dough.

LA NOVA: La Nova Pizzeria continues to receive numerous awards for its pizza and wings.

BOCCE'S: Homesick Buffalonians often FedEx Bocce Club Pizza's parbaked pizza. This is the pizza I grew up on, and my ultimate favorite.

CHEF'S: Chef's Restaurant is known for its Italian fare. The Buffalo Sabres hockey team can often be spotted here before their games.

COSTANZO'S: Any sandwich or sub is made better with a roll from Costanzo's Bakery.

(Thanks to my favorite local chauffeur, Michelle!)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Buffalo's Moonlight Run

After crossing the finish line at the average running race in Manhattan, competitors typically have their choice of endless cups of water and power food like apples, bananas, and bagels. In my experience, runners usually hydrate, grab their food, and head back home in the nearest subway or cab.

During a recent trip to Buffalo, I had a very different experience. My brother asked me if I had any interest in running with him, my sister-in-law and a few of their friends in Buffalo's Moonlight Run. I accepted the invitation and was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the finish line to what can only be referred to as a race after-party. The food I am accustomed to was nowhere to be found. In its place runners came face-to-face with Sahlen's hot dogs (the official hot dog of the Buffalo Bills- who knew a professional sports team needed its own official hot dog?), oversized chocolate chip cookies, bowls of pasta with parmesan cheese, bruschetta, and pitchers of Labatt Blue beer. This particular race was quite the social event. We ate and drank while listening to a local band play under Buffalo's nighttime sky. Beer after beer, no one cared that we were clearly putting way more calories into our bodies than we had just worked off.

Two hot dogs and beer in one hand leaves room for cookies and pasta in the other

The oversized chocolate chip cookies were my favorite treat after the Moonlight Run

Pasta from Citta di Militello was topped with grated parmesan cheese

Bruschetta compliments of Citta di Militello

A messy looking Sahlen's hot dog- with ketchup, mustard and relish

My brother and friends happily gorging on post-race hot dogs and beer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chocolate Reinforcements

One of my favorite gourmet chocolate shops, L'atelier du chocolat, will be closing in 1 day. Thankfully the store will only be out of commission for a quick 10 day period while its owners are on vacation. The sign posted in its window specifies that L'atelier du chocolat will be closed from Aug 20th through Aug 30th, and also provides an email address for chocolate emergencies. This leaves a limited amount of time to stock up on indulgent treats before I will be forced to look elsewhere for weekend chocolate reinforcements!

L'atelier du chocolat
59 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Dollar And A Shattered Dream

I made a conscious decision when I moved to Chelsea to forego the food at Chester Fried, located on 101 W. 23rd Street, and instead have always used the store as my source for purchasing Mega Millions tickets. Once the jackpot reaches the $100 million+ mark I take notice and hit up my change jug. Tonight's Mega Millions winner (should there be one) stands to walk away with $170 million, so I rounded up a dollar and a dream and headed to Chester Fried. I was met with disappointment when I saw the gates are down and a large "Store For Rent" sign is plastered over Chester Fried's faded blue banner (apparently it has been this way since late July- if I had any craving whatsoever for suspect fried chicken I would have noticed much sooner). A mere two doors down, at 115 W. 23rd Street, workers are busy preparing for the opening of another store, Bryant Market. This new venture promises "deli, grocery, flower, fruit & vegetable, salad bar, etc." - but no mention of lottery tickets. Bryant Market's colorful sign indicates the store is "coming soon"- but from the looks of it's gutted interior, it could be quite a while. None of the men at the worksite had an answer.

Chester Fried is no longer...

Gone with Chester Fried are greasy fried chicken and lottery tickets

Offering me a sign of peace at the future Bryant Market

The sign says "coming soon" but the interior tells a different story

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vogue's Food Critic

I finished reading Jeffrey Steingarten's first book, a collection of essays entitled The Man Who Ate Everything, a few weeks ago. I had previously read several of the author's articles and ultimately picked up the book after being drawn to his sarcastic wit and back and forth banter with fellow judges on Iron Chef America. The book chronicles his incredible, and oftentimes outlandish, food related experiences after being named food critic for Vogue magazine. The book was originally published in 1997 and speaks to food trends that were unheard of at that time yet are popular today, twelve years later. In my opinion The Man Who Ate Everything was ahead of its time and could only have been written after relentless research and experimentation. I remember saying to my husband how rewarding it would be to work for someone with that kind of knowledge. After coming across this posting a short while later I was clued into what is required to join the world of a respected food critic:

Interviews have begun for the incredibly sought-after job of assistant to a top fashion magazine's food critic. The ideal candidate is equally skilled at library and Internet research, cooking and shopping, repairing Xerox machines, mise-en-place, keeping office and kitchen organized, writing clearly, doing errands, eating in a few fabulous restaurants, and possibly travelling. The ideal candidate is a total omnivore, or at least eager to become one. The ideal candidate does not, of course, exist. But the employer is looking for someone who comes close, is near the beginning of her or his professional career, and willing to give a two-year commitment. The assistant is paid by the hour as a freelancer, receiving, no benefits whatsoever, but some expenses and free food. Candidates will also be evaluated by their abilities in 1) cooking, 2) academics in general, 3) knowledge of food history and food science, 4) practical knowledge of food products, produce, and agriculture, and proficiency in at least one gastronomic foreign language (i.e. not Serbian or Estonian). So, in your cover letter, please list these five skills and write a sentence or two appraising yourself in all five. If you are especially accomplished in some other pursuit and would like to talk about it, please go right ahead. And last, let us know whether you are familiar with the columnists' books and articles. Applicants should fax their resumes and cover letters (E-mailed attachments are too risky.)

Archaic faxing requirement aside, Jeffrey Steingarten, if you're out there - I would gladly leave my law degree behind and sign my life away for 2 years...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I always marvel when one store fails and another of like kind quickly sprouts up in its stead. While I was walking home from dinner in yesterday's sweltering summer heat, I noticed that my neighborhood Red Mango, located at 688 6th Avenue, has closed it's doors. Apparently this location handed out its last cup of frozen yogurt on August 9th. Not to worry- I didn't spend too long wondering where I might be able to locate an alternative dessert. Although Red Mango's sign still stands, a store by the name of "22 happy cups" has begun to lay its groundwork in Red Mango's grave. Unfamiliar with this company and unable to find credible information on the internet, I stopped to speak with the store's owners. In an attempt to distinguish itself from other frozen yogurt chains, 22 happy cups will offer frozen yogurt (yes, frozen yogurt again...), crepes, and coffee/tea. It's owners plan to open the doors to patrons in just two short days. Hopefully with crepes on its menu (who doesn't love a good crepe?) this new venture will have more success than its predecessor.

Red Mango's sign is still up, but its last day of operation at 688 6th Ave was Aug 9th

22 happy cups plans to start serving New Yorkers in 2 days

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nantucket After Dark

I can't say I actively sought out Nantucket's nightlife during my recent stay on the island, but what little of it I did experience I thoroughly enjoyed. I have divided my take on what I call Nantucket After Dark into three categories:

The first thing that grabs you when you head in the direction of Nantucket's The Juice Bar is the enticing aroma of freshly baked waffle cones. Located near Steamship Wharf, The Juice Bar sells home made ice cream and yogurt in flavors such as crantucket and blueberry muffin, smoothies made with fresh fruit juices, and a variety of baked goods. While I didn't find anything particularly special about the mint chocolate chip ice cream I sampled, it was satisfying and my waffle cup was crisp and sweet. The store's popularity is undeniable. Each time I passed The Juice Bar every one of it's three lines wrapped around the block with customers old and young. On a given summer night it appears to be the leading after dinner activity for families.

Hungry patrons waiting in line at The Juice Bar on a foggy, humid night on Nantucket

The smell of freshly baked waffle cones wafts through the dense fog for several blocks

It is difficult to decide with so many delicious flavors at your disposal

This small sign is an attempt to control the chaotic lines

A satisfying waffle cup filled with home made mint chocolate chip ice cream

A nice balance of chocolate and peanut butter packed in a waffle cone

AMONGST THE SLEEK (White Elephant's Brant Point Grill)
The outside bar at White Elephant's Brant Point Grill offers an attractive setting overlooking the Nantucket Harbor and is frequented by a sleek young crowd. It is here that I met a new friend, Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. Who knew such wonders existed in this world? I credit the adorable, friendly bartender Christina for introducing me to this tasty new friend through a fantastic drink called "John Daly". A John Daly, the alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer, is made by mixing sweet tea vodka with lemonade. As a huge fan of sweet tea, I quickly became a huge fan of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, the outside bar at Brant Point Grill, John Daly drinks, and Christina. It was a memorable night and a memorable setting (lucky for me we left before too many John Dalys erased those memories- they are so good that they are bound to be dangerous!).

The outside bar at White Elephant's Brant Point Grill has an exceptional view and great service

Our magnetic bartender Christina (who is working to put herself through medical school) and my first glimpse of a John Daly

A new discovery, and one I won't easily forget- Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka

SOUND THE BLACKOUT ALERT (The Brotherhood of Thieves)
An 1840's whaling bar, The Brotherhood of Thieves is a cozy pub with a great deal of noticeable history. It's walls are lined with exposed brick and it is lit by gas lanterns. The laidback feel reminds me of a favorite bar in my hometown- where my girlfriends and I would play our favorite songs on the jukebox and catch up over a few beers (ultimately leading to my shot loving friend to demand we all down shots of Crown Royal). The Brotherhood of Thieves is the type of place you can easily relax and enjoy a cold beer...followed by many more.

Our bartender, who is leaving Nantucket for Las Vegas, poured us several tall drinks

Exposed brick and gas lanterns line the walls

Channeling Lennon- Sarah, her mother and uncle doing their impression of Abbey Road after a few drinks at The Brotherhood of Thieves