Tag Archives: Inexpensive

Reliably Good American Bar and Bites @ Rye House

RYEHOUSE: 11 West 17th Street

Sometimes you just want a good reliable NYC bar and restaurant — a place you can grab lunch mid-week, a cold beer after work with friends or a handcrafted cocktail on a saturday night with intriguing ingredients such as orange blossom water, egg white and small production rye. It’s hard to find all those things in one destination, but Rye House has succeeded in creating a reliable bar and restaurant menu with reverence for traditional American spirits and cuisine.

I met my friend for lunch on a cold rainy day and shook off the chill with a soup and sandwich combo. It pleasantly reminded me of something I may have been able to order if I sauntered in off the cobblestone street of New York City circa 1850. The Spring Onion Potato Soup with a sourdough crouton and provolone was served in a sturdy handled bowl and was just the hearty starter I needed.

RyeHouse Spring Onion Soup

The “Pittsburgh” sandwich was the perfect pairing to go with the simple flavors of the onion soup and had its own warming qualities with a unique combo of grilled andouille sausage, provolone, house slaw, fries all stacked together and served on a wooden plank. The spice of the sausage was nicely mellowed out by the crisp slaw, and while the fries weren’t exactly necessary on the sandwich, they added a different sort of salty, crispy bite that made this a lunch to remember {lunch menu HERE}.

RyeHouse Pittsburgh

The Skim: With a long welcoming bar placed near the front and high tables along the wall, the casual atmosphere of Rye House invites you to stop in for whatever you’re in the mood for — a good craft draft, a creative cocktail or memorable, but simple American cuisine. Rye House also holds weekly beer tastings featuring a changing selection of craft brews, so this may just be the perfect place to discover some of the names appearing at NY Craft Beer week.

Map: 11 West 17th Street {Btw 5th & 6th Ave.}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212.255.7260

Pour Some More Por Favor:
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Wilfie & Nell: Not Your Grandpa’s Watering Hole

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Do This!: EAT DRINK LOCAL week

Second Annual EAT DRINK LOCAL week
Brought to you by edible magazines and GrowNYC
September 26-October 6, 2010

This harvest-time celebration of the local food chain, in collaboration with Edible magazines across the empire State, celebrates the restaurants, wine shops and wineries, breweries and beer bars, farms and food artisans, cheesemakers, bakers and everyone who feeds us.

Co-produced by Edible magazines and GrowNYC, the aim is threefold:

  1. To raise awareness about the bounty of products grown in the region.
  2. To drive customers to the restaurants and other businesses that support local food and drink
  3. To raise funds for a charitable partner dedicated to promoting regional agriculture.

Some major events planned during the week:

  • September 23. An Amish style heirloom vegetable auction to be held at Sotheby’s
  • September 25. A Long Island wine auction.
  • September 27. The Edible Institute at the New School, a public discourse on urban food issues.
  • October 6. The annual, unforgettable, Taste of Greenmarket.
  • Throughout the week. Edible programming at the New York Botanical Garden.
  • Throughout the summer, the Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets will feature cooking demos from partner chefs, New York wine pourings and other happenings.

Find out more HERE

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A Better Brooklyn Breakfast @ Dizzy’s Finer Diner

Dizzy's Finer Diner

Breakfast, the most important and my favorite meal of the day, pretty much means the bar is set perpetually high for a meal worthy of a write-up. Recently I went on an all day Brooklyn bike and bite ride {more to come} with my friend Beth, so I was especially pleased to start the day out right with a great brunch at Dizzy’s Finer Diner. The decor is nostalgic, giving you the feeling of a throwback diner, but the menu goes far beyond over-buttered toast of yesteryear.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have a strong affinity for eggs. So when some place goes and does something new and egg-citing, I just can’t help but praise the perfect poach and encourage all who take the time to browse the blog to Eat Here! They call this treat Teo’s Italian Eggs — which consists of two poached eggs served over crispy cubed focaccia and drizzled with olive oil, parmesan, fresh basil and red pepper flakes. It’s all served in a bowl, allowing you break into that little pocket of goodness and capture everything as the yolk pours out over the focaccia. Imagine a little mini toast, only this one has absorbed the flavor of pressed olives, rich creamy eggs, bright herby basil, sharp, salty cheese and then a little kick of red pepper. The beauty of all this is the simple ingredients. You don’t have to live in NYC or venture across the bridge to enjoy this — just toss those same ingredients in a bowl and try it from your own kitchen.

Dizzy's Italian Eggs

The Skim: Most people are only half awake when they eat breakfast, but the food at Dizzy’s Finer Diner will open your eyes and make you take notice of their fresh flavor combinations. Not. Just. Another. Egg. On. Toast.

Map: {511 9th Street}
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone:
718-499-1966

A Half Dozen Eggs:
Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea
Weekend Brunch: Eat Eggs @ Edward’s
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
Community Food & Juice: Fresh & Fantastic Fare
recipe goodness: cumin & dill egg salad with radish sprouts
recipe goodness: Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {yes, with eggs!}

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recipe goodness :: lemon herb roasted chicken

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Want to make your own version of RoliRoti’s ridiculously good rotisserie chicken at home? You don’t need a truck and you don’t need a rotisserie to make a deliciously herby and juicy chicken from the comfort of your own home — with or without a BBQ! It’s one of the simplest things you can throw together for a mid-week meal or for a crowd and with a few herbs you’ll take an ordinary chicken to a new level.

As a health conscious society, we tend to reach for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts when rolling down the poultry section at the grocery store, but having the skin on and bones in helps retain moisture and adds to the flavor more than you would think. Even if you want a leaner meal, try this recipe with the skin on while you cook and remove the skin later if you prefer — just see how much juicier your dinner is!

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Prep Time: 3 Minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 Minutes
Serves 4

Preheat Oven 425° or BBQ @ Medium Heat

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1/2 lemon
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 small bunch fresh rosemary
1 small bunch fresh sage
olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts on a cooking sheet. Feel with your finger for an opening in the skin and gently run your index finger between the skin and the breast meat to separate the skin partially {but not removed} in order to create a “pocket” for your herbs. Insert 2-3 small sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary and 2-3 leaves of sage between the breast meat and the skin in the “pocket” you just created. This will both flavor the chicken, secure your herbs and look pretty through cooked, translucent skin when done cooking.

Generously sprinkle each breast with coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper {this will help crisp the skin and will cook off on the grill, so don’t be afraid to be liberal}. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and lightly drizzle olive oil over the chicken.

Oven Cooking: Put tray in oven skin-side up for 15 minutes. Flip each breast over and rotate tray 180 degrees to ensure even cooking and cook for another 10-15 minutes.

BBQ Cooking: Place chicken breasts on medium hot grill skin-side up for 5 minutes. Continue cooking, flipping chicken every 5 minutes for a total of 25-30 minutes.

NOTE: Size of chicken, oven and grill temperatures often vary. 25-30 minutes is an approximation of cooking time, but with chicken you want to make sure meat is not pink to ensure doneness. Make a small cut in the thickest part of your breast meat to make sure juices are running clear and meat is white, not pink. Extend cooking time if necessary.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight! Chicken Tonight!:
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie
Roasted Chicken Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Sunflower Seeds
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn

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Gone Fishin’ :: Back in a Week…

Farewell Bachelorhood!

As I referenced in a previous post, I’m off in San Francisco to be the best groom’s girl I can be in my brother’s wedding this weekend. Jackie, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, works for Ghirardelli. She’s pretty darn sweet as a person, but it also doesn’t hurt that she brings a dowry consisting of a lifetime supply of chocolate. Welcome to the family!

I’m sure I will have no shortage of things to blog about upon my return — I promise it will be more interesting than a post about rice and will include musings from Napa. In the meantime, visit some old favorites…

Make A Delicious Dinner For Friends:
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}
More Recipes >>> EAT@HOME

Keep Busy in the City:
Do This!: Artisanal Premium Cheese & Wine Classes w/ Jessica Wurwarg
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage
NYC Best: Take the Dull Out Of Cooking {Knives} with Samurai Sharpening @ Chelsea Market

Enjoy a Cold One in the Garden:
Not so Standard Biergarten
Mission Dolores {Accomplished}: Great New Brooklyn Beer Garden
Nothing says Warm Weather Like a “Gut Biergarten”

And in the Spirit of Weddings, Go on a Date!:
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Highlands Highlights: Scottish Plaids, Pub Fare and Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Red Cat: Comfortable Quarters & Cuisine
Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
August in April
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo
barmarche: Some Clever Crudites

Eat Up!
Christina

Sibling Fun in Tokyo

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NYC Best: Tasty Times Square Thai @ Pongsri

Times Square and good food is usually considered an oxymoron. With most Times Square dining establishments catering to tourists and theater goers, prices are oven high and quality tends to be low, but if you know where to look, there are plenty of great eats in the neighborhood worth visiting. Pongsri Thai, the oldest family-run Thai restaurant in NYC and one of my favorites, sits in the midst of neon tickers, but its traditional decor and standout food quickly makes you forget the madness outside their four walls.

We started with my favorite dish of the whole meal, a Coconut Omelet appetizer consisting of a thin omelet crepe stuffed with shredded coconut, carrots, bean sprouts and chopped peanuts, served with special thai sauce and cucumber salad. I typically think of eggs as being savory, but the sweetness and crunchiness of the coconut and carrots with the salty peanuts, wrapped in the thin, fluffy omelet crepe was like a Thai party in my mouth — I couldn’t get enough.

Pongsri Coconut Omelette

And while I typically go the boring Pad Thai route when ordering from any random take-out joint, we ordered up a delicious Pad Key Mao — stir-fried broad rice noodles with herbs, chinese broccoli and chili paste with chicken and a make-your-brow-sweat Thai Red Curry with bamboo shoots, bell peppers and coconut milk. Mmmmm — just look at the pictures, they speak for themselves. Lots of good, fresh veg tossed in full-of-flavor sauces. Put either these over the white fluffy sticky rice that absorbs all that goodness and you’ve got yourself a memorable meal.

Pongsri Pad See Ew

Pongsri Thai Red Curry

The Skim: Put the pad thai aside and pick up something new at Pongsri. With hand cut noodles, fresh veg and intense sauces, you will come away with tasty thai memories of Times Square no matter what you order.

Map: {244 West 48th Street btw 8th Ave & Broadway}
Reservations: Not Taken!
Phone:  212-582-3392

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recipe goodness :: red chili-lime cornbread muffins

Chili-Lime Cornbread Cups

Cornbread is one of those things that rarely excites me — it usually tastes like cake that has been left on the counter for a week, only it tastes like, well, corn. But it’s also one of those things that people come to expect at a BBQ. You’re making ribs? Well there must be cornbread! So here, my friends, is my recipe for a cornbread cup that will be moist, surprise your guests with subtle hints of two flavors that I think make any dish better — red chili and lime, and most importantly is very easy.

Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

Makes 12-15 Muffins
Prep Time: 5 Minutes | Cook Time: 35-40 Minutes

1 package Jiffy Cornbread Mix
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 8 oz. can creamed corn
1 8 oz. can whole kernel corn {optional for chunkier muffins}
Zest of 1 lime
1/2-1 small red chili, grated

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. The creamed corn will have smaller bits of kernels, but if you want to really add some good texture add as much from a can of whole corn kernels as you like {or an ear of cooked corn if it’s in season}. It’s a great way to make CORNbread and with some exciting nuggets of bursting corn flavor. Depending on how much kick you want to surprise your guests with, I usually use a microplane to grate 1/2 to 1 full red chili into the mix. You can either just pour the whole mix into a greased 8×8 pan or into individual cups in a muffin tin. I prefer the muffin cups because it looks nicer and they cook more evenly. There is a lot of moisture in this recipe, so place the cornbread in the oven and start checking around 35 minutes to see if their done by sticking a toothpick in the center of a few of the muffins — it should come out clean with no batter stuck to it. You don’t want to undercook these, so give them another 5-10 minutes if they still seem soft.

Curious About Corn With A Kick?
recipe goodness :: gourmet grillin’ with white truffle corn
recipe goodness :: creole roasted fresh corn-tomato salsa
8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

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NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

My two most favorite past-times: good food and good music. Both are readily accessible in this fine big apple city that I live in, but put them together and you’ve got yourself the makings of a double good time. Summerstage, the outdoor venue in the middle of Central Park, has long been my favorite venue to catch a show. Most shows are free as it’s privately funded through sponsors and a few benefit concerts, it’s small enough that you can touch the stage without taking a sharp elbow to the gut, and with a blanket and starry night to set the scene, it’s easy to settle down and take in some good tunes.

This season Summerstage added just another reason to love this venue and make it a “must do” summer activity: good food. Normally you would expect the standard overdone hamburger and dirty water dog as the only options at a place like this, but with much excitement I discovered a few food purveyors from Brooklyn Flea and the fine wine makers from City Winery have been brought in to satiate our every desire.

Central Park Syrah from City Winery Anyone?

City Winery

Wash Down a Darn Good Dog from Asia Dog

How about the Ginny with homemade kimchi and nori flakes or the Sidney with thai mango relish, cucumber, red onion, cilantro & crushed peanuts. Those two lady dogs sound a lot more interesting than your usual Frank.

Marlow & Sons/Daughters and AsiaDog

I Adopted Marlow Sons & Daughters

This Brooklyn based butcher serves up a cut above the rest with their grass-fed beef burgers, house made pork sausage and barbecued pork sandwich with jalapeno lime aioli, picked onion, mint and cilantro. I wanted the pork sammy, but popular demand cleared out that supply in a matter of minutes. My pork sausage with pickled relish did not disappoint though, it was flavorful, freshly cooked and the relish added a nice zing quickly making me forget this was concert food.

My Marlow & Daughters House Made Pork Sausage w/ Pickled Relish

Truckin’ Good Pizza from Pizza Moto

Fresh from the mobile wood burning oven {hopefully those aren’t Central Park trees} you can order a slice with all sort of goodies on top and a thin, crispy crust, just as pizza should be.

Pizza Moto

Ice Cream, You Scream for Blue Marble…

If sweets are more your craving, try a a few scoops or classic root beer float {I wonder if they would make this with Blue Moon} from Blue Marble Ice Cream. All products are made only from premium grass-fed organic dairy.

Blue Marble Ice Cream

Prices range from about $4-8 depending on the item, so you won’t break the bank while enjoying these seriously good eats with your tunes at Summerstage…unless of course you get the munchies. The Flaming Lips liked this so much, they threw a party. It’s not too late to catch a show as events are scheduled through September. See Schedule HERE.

The Flaming Lips Threw A Huge Celebration

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recipe goodness :: tomato, basil & feta salad

Fresh Tomato Salad

I went to the farmer’s market and bought the most perfectly imperfect tomatoes from a New Jersey farmer. They had big brown spots where the sweet fruit previously hung from the vine, they were not perfectly round, nor perfectly red on the outside, but when you cut into them, all their glorious perfection was revealed. Redder than any red I have seen before {especially from a store-bought tomato} and that red persisted throughout — there was no big seedy, liquidy center or even an ounce of that white flesh so common in a tomato these days. It’s at moments like this, that I am convinced of the merits of buying locally grown farm fresh produce — this tomato tastes far superior to anything you will find while strolling the air conditioned aisles of your grocery store. And while we have been conditioned ourselves to expect perfection on the outside of our shiny, clean, bruise-free pyramid of produce, I think we have also all experienced that piece of fruit or vegetable that tasted nothing like it looked…or didn’t taste like anything at all. So do not be afraid of buying that unwaxed, slightly gnarly produce from the farmer at the market — you may be surprised by what you find inside!

Farm Fresh Tomato

So with my perfectly imperfect red tomato in hand, I made a stop at a local artisan cheese maker, Ardith Mae {you may remember them from 8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!}, to pick up some fresh goat’s milk feta and came home to make a salad so simple, but so fresh and flavorful. Here it is:

Farm Fresh Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

3 large, ripe field-grown fresh tomatoes
1/2 lb fresh feta
1 sprig fresh basil
4 TBS olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Wash and cut tomatoes into equal size wedges and then cut in half again to get pieces approximately 1 inch in length.  Season lightly with salt {you can add more later, but the feta will add salt to the dish as well} and pepper and gently toss. Crumble feta on top of tomatoes. Chiffonade basil by removing basil leaves from the stem, stacking 5-6 leaves at a time and rolling tightly lengthwise and then slicing with a paring knife perpendicular to the roll — this will give you delicate ribbon-like basil to sprinkle across the salad which will look pretty, but will also make sure you don’t have to chew on a full basil leaf! Drizzle olive oil over salad and gently toss. Taste and add more salt, pepper or basil as you like .

Tomato Feta Basil Salad

Looking For More Farm-Fresh Inspiration?
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea

You may remember the post I wrote in June called:

Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table

In that post I attempted to make a case that paying $8 for a dozen free-range, organic, local eggs was not crazy. Yes, it may be double, even triple what you COULD pay for eggs at the grocery store, but there is a vast difference in how those egg-laying hens were likely raised, fed and bred, directly impacting the consumed end product: your egg.

So imagine my delight when I came across a WSJ article yesterday called “A Dozen Eggs for $8? Michael Pollan Explains the Math of Buying Local.” Upon reading this article I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Michael Pollan, the author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, read my blog.” I mean come on, we both bought $8 eggs and were delighted enough to make a case for all their glory by simple math: $8/12=$0.66 per rich, golden egg and a meal cheaper than any item on McDonald’s value menu. Coincidence? I think not.

It is a beautiful thing when life comes full circle. I read Pollan’s book this past winter and it changed my outlook on food shopping immensely. I was previously completely ignorant to thinking about where the food on my table originated and why some uniformly similar looking products can vary in price so drastically. Isn’t a chicken just a chicken? And then there’s the marketing behind organic, free-range, all natural — what does it all mean? Ok, so a chicken is not always just a chicken. There are certainly a range of farm sizes and approaches to raising what will one day be packaged and purchased by the unknowing consumer who picks up that standard yellow styrofoam tray, inspects the plump pinkish, skinless, boneless, veinless cutlet and goes on her merry way. Often we are unable to know anything about the origins of our dinner, other than perhaps one or two word details distinguishing its grade — so we shop based on price.

So what is the point of all this? Certainly not to encourage you to spend $8 when you can spend $4. No, the point of my post and the point of Michael Pollan’s published works and life mission is to advocate for the local-food movement. To spend more time buying from local farms where you can not only see the freshly harvested goods, but often speak to the farmer directly about how they grow their product — whether it’s an egg or a zucchini. And by visiting a local greenmarket you also know that what you’re buying is fresh and has not had to travel far to reach you — that’s good for you and for the environment {you don’t have to wear tie-dye to appreciate that}. Yes, we all have budgets we need to consider, but when shopping locally and buying what’s in season, it’s often not hard to spend the same amount of money for a higher quality product. And when should you be willing to spend more for a premium, locally grown or organic product? When it’s something you consume frequently. Counterintuitive? Perhaps, but if you eat something regularly, that just means there is a greater health impact to you or your family, so spending a little extra money now to buy local, organic or antibiotic / hormone-free of those select items will be better for you in the long run.

I challenge you: go out to a local farmer’s market this weekend. See if you can find a farmer selling pullets {the first eggs to come from a hen, which are small, rich and delicious} or any locally raised, free-range, organic eggs. They may not be $8, but give ’em a try if they are, and let me know if your meal for $1.50 didn’t taste delicious. Click HERE to find days/locations of NYC greenmarkets.

“Eight dollars for a dozen eggs sounds outrageous, but when you think that you can make a delicious meal from two eggs, that’s $1.50. It’s really not that much when we think of how we waste money in our lives.”
-Michael Pollan

Read More about my $1.50 breakfast:
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table
recipe goodness :: how to cook the perfect sunny side-up egg

The Perfect Egg

Color IS an indication of flavor.

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recipe goodness :: gourmet grillin’ with white truffle corn

White Truffle Grilled Corn

Fresh corn is one of the most abundant agricultural products we have in America and as such, it is also one of the more cost-effective items to buy and grill. Depending on where you shop, you can usually get multiple ears for $1! When it’s mid-summer you can get some extremely sweet and juicy varieties that don’t take much effort to enjoy on their own, but if you’re looking for a gourmet twist on an otherwise simple grill favorite, try this recipe and be prepared for friends to ask for seconds.

Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn

Prep Time: 1 Minute | Cook Time: 10 Minutes

1 Ear of corn per person
1 bottle of white truffle oil for brushing
1 jar of white truffle salt for seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat grill to high heat. Completely remove corn husk and hairs. Pour a a small amount of white truffle oil in a pyrex dish {you can always add more, but you don’t want to waste this premium product!} Cut small pieces of foil just big enough to completely wrap each ear of corn separately. Lay the first ear of corn on the foil and brush all sides with the white truffle oil {note: you could substitute with extra virgin olive oil or soft butter if you don’t want to invest in both truffle products}. Season all sides of the corn with white truffle salt sprinkling while you turn. To finish crank some fresh black pepper on all sides of the corn. Wrap entirely with foil and place on the grill for 3 minutes. Rotate 1/3 and cook for another 3 minutes and then rotate the final 1/3 and cook for the last 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill, grab some napkins and enjoy!

Looking For Other Farm Fresh Inspiration?
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

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Soft & Salty Snack @Sigmund Pretzelshop

Sigmund Pretzelshop Selection

In New York it’s not very hard to find a soft pretzel to satisfy your snack craving — they’re sold street-side at practically every corner cart. But it’s also not very hard to be disappointed by those salty twists that are often stale and taste of the strange burnt smell that wafts disturbingly from the pushcart. But if you head down to the East Village you will discover a whole new world of soft pretzels, far beyond the standard twist you may be used to. At Sigmunds Pretzelshop you can choose from an array of fat, crusty soft pretzels topped with the standard white salt crystals or more creative toppings such as jalapeno cheddar or caramel pecan to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you’re not already excited by souped up softy, you can also choose from their FREE selection of dips to accompany your snack. I had the pumpkin seed pretzel with whole-grain mustard {of course} and loved the nutty twist. And if you’re hungry for more than just a bite, Sigmunds has gone beyond the simple twist, offering soft pretzel sandwiches stuffed with such goodies as mozzarella, tomato & pesto or ham & fontina. Delicious!

Sigmund Sweet Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel

PRETZELS
$3.00 – 3.50
salted
caraway
poppy
sesame
jalapeno cheddar
gruyere paprika
seven chile
garlic parsley
cinnamon raisin
caramel pecan

Sigmund Pumpkin Seed Soft Pretzel

*****
DIPS
{free!}
whipped butter
wholegrain mustard
honey mustard
beet-horseradish mayo
herb goat cheese
cream cheese
nutella

*****

Sigmund Soft Pretzel Sandwiches

*****
SANDWICHES
$7.00

roast turkey with gouda and apple
roast beef with horseradish and red onion
smoked salmon with dill cream cheese
mozzarella, tomato and pesto
*****

The Skim: Soft pretzels — salty, sweet or as a sammy, but a satisfying snack from Sigmund Pretzelshop no matter how you select.
Map: {29 Avenue B, btw 2nd & 3rd}
Reservations: Not needed!
Phone: 646.410.0333

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recipe goodness :: fresh lime-margarita marinated watermelon

Margarita Marinated Watermelon

Another weekend is nearing and the weather won’t give us any relief, but my fresh-lime-margarita marinated watermelon will. It’s best when it hangs out at least overnight, so stop at the store and pick up that pretty pink juicy fruit and get soakin’ — your friends will thank you later!

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves a lot!

1 small watermelon {lots of great varieties the size of a cantaloupe}
4 limes, juiced and zested
4 oz light tequila
4 oz triple sec or cointreau
Rock salt for serving

So it’s this easy: Find a small watermelon variety, which will make it easier to cut and also the right amount to still serve a big crowd. Cut through the equator of the melon with a large chef’s knife and then put both flat sides face down on the cutting board. Cut into 1-inch slices creating a bunch of semi-circle pieces. Lay each slice flat on the board and then cut into long finger-like slices, so each piece has a bit of rind at the end {this will make it easy to pick up as an appetizer} and discarding the end pieces that don’t have any melon attached. Lay all the finger-like pieces side by side and on top of each other in a large 9X11 dish, zesting the limes on top of each layer.

In a separate glass measuring cup, juice limes {each should give you about 1 oz of lime juice}. Pour equal parts of tequila and triple sec or cointreau {if you get 4 oz of juice, you want to add 4 oz of each mixer}. Stir thoroughly with a spoon and then pour over the watermelon slices. Cover well with a lid or plastic wrap and throw into the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, put the watermelon on a nice tray with a bowl of rock salt for dipping {any good margarita has a salted rim and it also brings out the sweetness of the melon!}

Tip: DON’T throw away the liquid left in the dish — you’ve got fresh watermelon margarita cocktails just waiting to be sipped! Pour the liquid into glasses over ice and serve with one of your marinated watermelon slices as a garnish. Recipe bonus!

Margarita Watermelon ready to chill out for a day

Marinate Over a Few Other Party Planners:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

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recipe goodness :: grilled thyme-cumin vegetable kabobs

You can easily add chicken, lamb, beef or whatever favorite grill meat you choose to this kabob recipe, but when it’s mid-summer and vegetables are at their peak, I just enjoy focusing on the fresh farmer’s bounty with this vegetarian grilling recipe. To spice this up a little I like to add some fresh thyme, a little cumin seasoning and make a yogurt sauce to drizzle over the sweet, blistered veg. It’s very easy to make and only takes a few minutes on the grill before you can enjoy this meal.

Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

12 crimini or button mushrooms
1 pint grape tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes
1 green, red or yellow pepper, cut to 1-inch squares
1 medium onion, quartered {I like Vidalia as they are sweeter}
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. cumin seasoning
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauce
8 oz plain yogurt
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium heat. If using whole tomatoes, cut each into quarters and then cut each quarter in half again so you have pieces about 1-inch in size. If using grape or cherry tomatoes, leave whole. Cut pepper into 1-inch pieces, removing the stem and seeds. Quarter the onion and separate the layers. Toss all vegetables in a medium bowl with olive oil, fresh thyme, cumin, salt and pepper until thoroughly coated. Take a skewer and alternate colors and vegetables so you get a good variety.

Once the grill is hot, place skews on the BBQ and cook for ~10 minutes, turning frequently to make sure to get a good charred edge on each side. This will add to the overall flavor! While the kabobs are grilling, add the cumin, salt and pepper to the yogurt and stir well to mix evenly. Once the kabobs are done, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and either serve alone, as a side or inside a fresh pita.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Other Great Grill and Summer Recipes:
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: creole roasted fresh corn-tomato salsa

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa

It’s not very difficult to make your own salsa and it’s fresher, cheaper and often solicits a lot of “mmmmms” from anyone you share it with. Plus, a really good salsa can not only  make a good app, but goes really well with something like grilled fish, chicken, burgers, nachos, you name it, adding a more interesting and flavorful accompaniment than anything you’ll find in a plastic bottle.

Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

2 ears of corn, shucked
butter or olive oil for  brushing
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning for dusting
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 jalapeno or red chili, finely chopped
small handful of cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Light the grill and while that warms up, shuck each ear of corn and brush with butter {or olive oil if you prefer} and sprinkle a generous amount of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning on all sides of the corn until covered. Wrap each ear of seasoned corn separately and cook on the grill for  10 minutes, rotating every 2-3 minutes. While the corn is cooking add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. {Tip: Use only half a jalapeno or chili if you prefer a milder salsa}. Once the corn is done, let it cool slightly and then stand on the flat end of the cob and take a sharp knife down length of the corn to remove all the kernels. Add the bowl and toss well to break up the corn and mix all the flavors together. Serve in a bowl or to jazz it up a bit, take a tablespoon and fill tortilla chip “scoops” individually on a plate.

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

If this sounds appetizering, you might also like these recipes:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into

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Do This!: Summer Cheese Extravaganza!

Jessica Cutting the Cheese

Summer Cheese Extravaganza!
Saturday July 24
7:30pm until the cheese runs out…

The Red Hook Bait and Tackle
320 Van Brunt Street
We will give you cheeses and some desserts too!
We’ll tell you about them and help you pair with wines, beers or spirits.

And YES! The tasting is free!! So get there early before the supply runs out.

Matt Bonano and Jessica Wurwarg (Cheese people)
Colleen Riley (Chocolate/Dessert Person)

Check out more cool cheese events:
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes
8.ate@eight #2: Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!

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4th Food Fare: Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas

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BBQ’d Pizza you ask? Yes, you don’t need a wood burning oven or even a pizza stone to successfully make pizzas at home. And it’s even easier if you have a favorite pizza joint nearby that will sell you uncooked dough and even some toppings. This is so much more interesting for a great BBQ party than hot dogs and hamburgers and gets your guests involved so you don’t have to be sweating in front of the grill all night.

Easy Grilled Pizzas

Serves 8 (individual size)

1 large pizza dough ball
1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil for brushing

Toppings: Get creative — putting multiple bowls of topping options out allows your guests to choose their favs and maybe even get a little competitive to build the best pizza combo.

Peppers
Olives
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Onions (raw or grilled)
Grilled Eggplant and zucchini
Mushrooms (grilled and sliced portobellos are great)
Sweet or spicy grilled italian sausage and pepperoni (sliced)
Different cheeses (feta, brie, halloumi)
Fresh greens: basil, rosemary, spinach

  1. Turn grill on to medium heat
  2. Cut dough into 8 individual balls and let rest on a tray
  3. Two people can start simultaneously — have two guests start gently stretching the dough in their hands, turning and pulling to form the dough into a thin round circle, being careful not to pull a hole in the dough.
  4. Once the grill is hot and the dough has been stretched, lay them on a cutting board or tray and brush one side with olive oil. Pick the dough back up and flop directly on the grill, olive oil side down, and close the lid.
  5. After about 1-2 mins or until you see light grill marks on the under side, brush the top with olive oil and flip with tongs.
  6. Work quickly to add all toppings from sauce to cheese and anything else. Close the grill lid and wait ~1-2 mins.
  7. Check to make sure the cheese is melted and the bottom is a nicely browned. If the bottom starts to get too dark before the cheese is fully melted you can move the pizza to a top rack and let the indirect heat do the rest of the work without burning the dough.
  8. Enjoy and repeat!

Tip: If you think your guests will want more than one individual pizza, buy extra dough and cheese to accommodate appetites and the number of people.  You can always make other things with leftover dough.

Extra Dough:

  • Rosemary-Sea Salt Flatbread — After brushing the second side with olive oil, sprinkle generously with coarse gray sea salt and fresh rosemary.
  • Delicious Breakfast Pizza — Same steps as original pizza, but once you flip the dough, immediately move it to the top rack and crack the egg directly on the dough. This will take approximately 10 minutes for the egg to fully cook, so the bottom will burn if you leave it on the bottom. The egg will be done when you poke with a fork or knife and the white is firm.

Serve With A Refreshing Cocktail and Spinach Salad:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad

Breakfast PIzza

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Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Affordable & More Flavorful Food on Your Table

Greenmarket Groceries

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the other great dads out there. It’s on holidays such as these, that we are reminded of the people we love and want to do the best to take care of them and ourselves so we’re together as long as possible.

Eating better is one way we can certainly make an effort to do that, so I made a trip to the Columbus Ave Greenmarket this morning to pick up some things for breakfast and dinner and thought I’d share a little encouragement to make your own trip to a local farmer’s market. I may not be able to convince you of the wonders of the greenmarket meal over a blog, but I will do my best to paint a picture for you as to why it’s at least worth trying. Once you taste the meal prepared with farm fresh ingredients, I hope you will agree that it’s worth every penny and can taste far superior than a meal you’re willing to tip someone for.

Affordable:

First things first: cost. You look at the price at a local stand and think “some of this stuff is more expensive than what I pay at the store.” It’s all relative. Compare the cost of farm fresh food to all your dining options, as well as the quality of ingredients.

  • Brunch OUT at my favorite UWS joint: $12.88 {food, tax, tip, no drinks}
  • Egg on a roll DELIVERED from the local deli: $4.72 {food, tax, tip, ignoring min. delivery requirement}
  • Breakfast COOKED with deliciously farm fresh organic, antibiotic and hormone-free greenmarket ingredients: $1.77

Let’s break this down even further. This is what I bought:
1 Loaf ‘Not Just Rugelach‘ 7-Grain Bread (~20 slices): $4
1 Quart NJ Organic Strawberries (~40 berries): $6
1 Dozen Grazin’ Acres truly Free Range Pullet Eggs: $8
Grocery Total: $18
Cost / Breakfast: $1.77-$2.43

Assuming you make 12 breakfasts out of what I just bought (1 egg per meal), that $18 turns into  $1.77 per meal. And if you’re the kind of person who likes 2 eggs in the morning, it’s still only costing you $2.43!

Flavorful:

Ok, the math works, but $8 for a dozen eggs you scream! $6 for a quart of strawberries?! I can buy a dozen Free Range, Organic eggs for half that cost at the grocery store and 2 quarts of strawberries for the same cost as what you just spent and lower the cost/breakfast even further than that. True, you can. But do those same purchases taste anything like what I just bought? NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Here’s why. The strawberries are field grown, with absolutely no pesticides or unnatural fertilizers. What that means is they grow with nature, at the speed nature intended.  Often when chemical fertilizers are used, the growing process is accelerated and produce retains more water, diluting the sweet, natural flavors of a plant that is allowed to grow without these additives.  I can’t let you taste how sweet these strawberries were through the power of the Interwebs {at least not yet}, but take a look at how RED they are all the way through each berry and you will get a sense that this is no ordinary store bought fruit. Buying from a local market allows you to talk to the farmers {who woke up at the crack of dawn to bring you this goodness} and ask them about the size of their farm and growing methods. The bigger the producer, the more “help” they need to maintain the volume required to supply grocery chains. Buying local and buying from smaller farms often means there is more attention given to what is being produced and what ends up on your table.

Color IS an indication of flavor.

And the eggs. Oh, the eggs! Yes, I admit, $8 for a dozen eggs sounds crazy. BUT, if you have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, these are the happiest little egg-producing chickens out there. These gals live in an eggmobile {love it} and follow around Grazin’ Acres Grass-Fed Cattle, munching on nutrient-rich larvae from the cow poop {mmm!}, fertilizing the grass that the 100% Grass-fed beef eat and contribute to a finely tuned symbiotic relationship from grass to cattle to hens to us. Read more about it here, if you’re interested. The bottom line: truly free range, organic, antibiotic- and hormone-free eggs that results in yolks a shade of orange you have never seen before, with a nutrient rich flavor I could never even begin to convince you of on a computer screen. Try them, if only once for curiosity sake.

Smarter:

No chemicals, no added hormones. Period. There are plenty of experts out there arguing the negative health impacts of industrial farming where pesticides, chemical fertilizers and added hormones make things grow bigger and faster. I won’t bring those arguments in here, but I’d prefer take a bite out of something that hasn’t been tainted with potentially harmful chemicals, wouldn’t you?

The Skim: I’m not getting all tree-hugging hippy on you, I’m just telling you that the breakfast I had tasted better than any $50 brunch you could throw at me from any high end, place-to-be-seen NYC hot spot.  By visiting the local market, you can pick up some seriously premium tasting ingredients without spending a fortune {and hey, it’s better for you too}. So tell your friends to bring the mimosas, cook up some ridiculously good $8 eggs and give Pastis a run for it’s money. Who knows, maybe you’ll even earn some tips.

Like This? So Does Michael Pollan:
Michael Pollan Agreed With Me, $8 Eggs Are A Good Idea
How to cook the perfect sunny side-up egg
How to Cook the Perfect 8.5 Minute Egg
How to Cook the Perfect Poached Egg {with Ramp Butter!}
Cumin & Dill Dijon Egg Salad with Radish Sprouts
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
 

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NYC Best: Falafel @ Ruthy’s, Chelsea Market

I’ve decided to share one of the best kept secret’s in NYC: where to find the BEST falafel. This may stir up some debate, so please bring it on. Nestled inside the artisanal food haven of Chelsea Market, is Ruthy’s, an otherwise standard bakery and cafe where at first glance you can grab a bagel, panini sandwich or side salad that is probably not too different from any other lunch-crowd driven sandwich and salad counter. But if you know what to order, you’re in for one of the most delicious, best value-for-money falafel sandwiches in all of NYC.

Once you discretely ask for the under-promoted falafel sandwich {which can’t be found among all the pre-made paninis and salads in the cooler} grab a seat and be prepared to wait a few minutes as one of the workers jets to the back to cook the falafel to order and begins stuffing the pita with all the other key, smile-inducing ingredients. When you get your sandwich I suggest you find a dark corner where no one can see you devour the goodness, because I guarantee you will have sauce dripping down your elbows and veggies falling into your lap, and hey, we can’t have you worried about looking good in the midst of this delightful experience.

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So what makes this the BEST falafel? Once you open the double-wrapping of foil and parchment you will see that this is no ordinary stuffed pita. At first glance you will see what looks like typical sandwich filling — tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber. But as you start to chip away at the sandwich you will soon discover new and exciting accompaniments that have been stuffed between the bread — roasted eggplant, sweet yellow and red peppers, jalapeno, diced pickles, tahini, hummus all contribute a range of spicy, sour, sweet and creamy flavors that are the perfect complement to the crispy falafel found at the base of all this goodness. About half way through this sandwich you will wish you had more napkins, and unless you are really talented at keeping it all together, it will be time to inevitably move into fork mode as all the juice from the veg and sauce starts to seep into the pita {or on to your lap}. The best thing about all of this: it only costs $4.95. Any other pre-made or specialty sandwich on the menu goes for twice that! I challenge you to find me a better falafel sandwich.

The Skim: Forget that you’re in a rush to get back to your desk and take an extra 5 minutes to order one of the best falafel sandwiches NYC has to offer. For $4.95 you will no doubt get your money’s worth and might not even need to order dinner after you down this very generously stuffed deep pita. {75 9th Avenue @ Chelsea Market}

Check out other Chelsea Market good eats:
Ronnybrook: Why Buy the Cow, When You Can Get the Milkshake for Free?

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Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat

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I relived my trip to Japan last night with a visit to Shabu Tatsu, one of the most authentic Japanese meals I have had in NYC. For those who think only of sushi or ramen when you hear the words Japanese cuisine, it’s time to expand your horizons to the wonderful world of Shabu Shabu — aka Japanese fondue {x10}. At the center of your table you get a pot of boiling clear broth in which you cook paper thin slices of beautifully marbled premium rib eye, a mound of fresh veg and hand pulled noodles. Everything cooks rather quickly, so it’s best to add a few things at a time and when they’re done dip them in one or both of the soy and sesame sauces served on the side. I like to to dip each piece and lay it on top of my bowl of rice before eating it. The result: beefy, brothy, veggie, saucy goodness soaked up by each white fluffy grain — the well deserved reward after all that hard work slaving over a hot pot with your chops. The upside to all this is that for $24/peep you get all the fixins’, plus that Japanese salad that we all love {you know, the one with the carrot-ginger dressing}, ice cream and hot tea. And if you’re really lucky, like we were, and show up on Japanese Boys Day, you get some lucky red beans and rice cakes. mmmm.

The Skim: Forget the california roll and venture out for some of the finer features of Japanese cuisine at Shabu Tatsu. Whether you go with the Shabu Shabu, Sukiyaki {Shabu Shabu ingredients pan-seared in a sweet soy sauce} or Yakiniku {Japanese BBQ}, you will not be disappointed. It’s great for a group or a hands-on date {I’m talkin’ about the food}, but like many Japanese things it’s small, so go early or willing to wait. {216 E. 10th Street, btw 1st/2nd Aves.}

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Lamb Takedown @ The Bell House – Ewe Will Love This!

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It’s spring and that means spring lamb. As I get ready to kick off the first 8.ate@eight, which will feature this under-appreciated farm friend, I thought it only responsible of me to do some research. Armed with a camera, notebook and an appetite, I headed to The Bell House in Brooklyn to the Lamb Takedown, which can only be described as lambastic!

20 competitors served up their perfect version of lamb — stewed, smoked, slow-roasted, sliced, you name it — for a sold out fan-of-lamb crowd of genuine foodies. It was almost impossible to vote for a favorite, but the stand-out for me was the Baa Baa Bruschetta: sliced spit-roasted leg of lamb served over a honey infused goat cheese spread with a cayenne pepper dusting on a crusty baguette. Sweet, savory, spicy, salty — for the love of lamb!

The Bell House provided a perfect venue for the unique Sunday-afternoon event. A converted 1920’s warehouse, the bar features a two-room space serving local microbrews, signature cocktails and a limited bar menu that includes Beer Cheese & Ritz crackers. The smaller “FRONTier” room is a throwback to the 20s, with velvet couches, leather chairs and your grandma’s wallpaper. The larger room, home to the lamb cook-off, is also utilized for weekly live music events.

The Skim: You don’t have to be a lamb-lover to enjoy The Bell House. Check out the calendar to find an excuse to see live music while enjoying a microbrew from the comfort of a velvet couch. However, take note, next on the Takedown calendar is Ice Cream. I love ewe! {The Bell House @ 149 7th Street, Brooklyn}

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Music and Mozz @ the Beechman Theater

Canteen @ The Laurie Beechman Theater

Last night I went to The Laurie Beechman Theater located in the basement of the West Bank Cafe on 42nd and 9th Avenue to see Canteen, directed by up-and-coming composer Dylan Glatthorn. This is a great venue to add to your list when you’re looking for an inexpensive night out with a little entertainment and a good bite to eat. In addition to the minimal $10 cover for the show, the venue requires a $15 food/drink minimum, so naturally I took the opportunity to check out the menu and was pleasantly surprised!

Wild Mushroom Risotto Balls! “Stinky Brooklyn” Cheese Plate! Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Duck Confit! This is not your normal Time’s Square sub-par restaurant catering to tourists willing to overpay for bad food. I opted for the Mozzarella and Basil Panini served on Rosemary Focaccia with a side spinach salad served with toasted pine nuts. Simple, but delicious. The friends I was with went straight for dessert, so I also tried a bite of their Chocolate Mousse and Peanut Butter Cake with Banana Fritters. Is there really a more perfect flavor combination? I think not.

The Skim: Even if you just go for the food, you will not be disappointed. But be sure to keep an eye out for shows like Canteen — a hilarious spin on current radio favorites, performed by 5 members of the American army trying not to go crazy. From WW2, these men and women’s only way to stay in touch with themselves is to keep performing as if they were back on the USO! Good food and good times. {407 W. 42nd St / just West of 9th Ave}

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