Tag Archives: New York City

NYC Best: Num Num, Num Pang

num pang spread

num pang spread

Num num num num — ‘nough said. Num Pang is a Cambodian sandwich shop in NYC and is the Cambodian term for bread or sandwich. A midweek lunch excursion took me from our flatiron office down to their union square outpost for one of the better lunch discoveries I’ve had in a long time. Their menu lists several mainstay made to order options, as well as a few special seasonals.

All the sandwiches are served with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo on freshly baked bread. My choice? The grilled khmer sausage with asian slaw, a cup of greenmarket gazpacho soup and a blood orange lemonade to wash it all down. I probably don’t need to provide much of a detailed explanation for you to read that list and need more convincing of its deliciousness — the perfect combinations of fresh ingredients, married together with Cambodian seasonings for 15 minutes of simple eating enjoyment. My only advice: go early and midweek to avoid the lines.

Map: 140 East 41st or 21 East 12th Street
Reservations: Not Taken
Delivery: Yes!
Phone: 212-255-3271

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NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Isa is a Trip Not to be Missed

Isa

View from a Cocktail Perch

When you first walk into Isa you are immediately greeted by a strange feeling of comfort — a brightly colored curtain made of pieced together knitted afghans serves as the weather barrier between the door and the inner sanctum of the dining room. But as you enter into the main room and take a glance around, the feeling of comfort changes from grandma’s couch to one of a chill-warming modern camping lodge with stacked logs, candlelight, communal tables and smooth cement walls.

Across the entire back wall of the main dining room is an open kitchen providing free entertainment for the evening. The fun starts with a drink menu as playful as the afghan curtain. To drink: cocktails such as the Enlighten Up, Brain Hammock, Inspector Spacetime or Looking Glass give the feeling that you might be going on a strange strange trip from here on out. If you’re more of a wine drinker, even that list gives the option of ordering up a wine from the “Orange” selection — somewhere between a red and a white and the result of a grape skin soaking to blend the two genres.

The dinner menu is short and straightforward and changes frequently. Simply listed:  artichokes, tartar, mackerel, pork loin. But it was in the fine print descriptions that the intrigue presents itself. When I asked our server if there were any standout dishes not to be missed, she went on to describe everything on the menu individually and ended with saying they were all her favorite. No help there.

I started with the Tartar, presented in three very simple circular disks of ingredients with crunchy flax and a dollop of creme fraiche as its accompaniments. It was simple in presentation and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Tried alone or with a little stab at each, this starter was outstanding.

Isa Tartar

Isa Tartar

I ordered the Mackerel as my main. Another simple dish that was not short on flavor. The fish was slow cooked resulting in a delightfully juicy bite, and was served atop a creamy parsnip puree with sweet peas and covered in a thin blanket of crunchy, peppery radishes. Everything about this was not complicated, but when tasted in one bite, the variety of textures and seasonal flavors confirmed this was not just an ordinary dining experience.

Radish-Blanketed Mackerel

Radish-Blanketed Mackerel

The Skim: I’m in love with this new trend of dining — found at Frej a few weeks back and now at Isa. The art is in the simplicity. Isa is having fun with the decor, the cocktail menu, the quirky touches here and there, but when it comes to the food, it’s about pairing the freshest seasonal ingredients and textures and letting them be the star of the show. What’s more? This menu is accessible to just about anyone — for $50 you can enjoy a three-course prix fix or get away with spending $30-40 if you want to stick with a starter and main. No wonder Isa was nominated for a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant.

Map: 348 WYTHE AVE
Reservations: Yes! Here 
Phone: 347-689-3594

Good Things in BKLYN:
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith

Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s 

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Mouth Foods: Lovers of Artisanal & Small-Batch Producers and All Things Delicious

Mouth Foods Artisan Selections

I recently sat down with Craig Kanarick, CEO and founder of a delicious new start-up called Mouth Foods. The first time I looked at his website I wanted to grab a spoon and dive right in. Instead, I took him to coffee to digest the story of how someone left an executive seat at Razorfish, in favor of a small office piled high with jam jars and stoopwaffles.

Mouth Foods Headquarters

Mouth Foods Headquarters

We’ve all been there. Riding the corporate roller coaster, looking out the static windows with an unfocused stare, dreaming of our professional freedom. One day, Craig’s daydreaming eyes narrowed in on the French Culinary Institute’s smoke-breaking students across from his downtown office. Light bulb: “I want to leave this grind behind and go to culinary school.” Lucky for Craig, he just happens to be friends with Mario Batali, who quickly advised him that he would learn more jumping straight into a restaurant kitchen than spending months and thousands of dollars at FCI. Craig hung up his briefcase, grabbed his knives and jumped at the opportunity to help with prep and learn the inner workings of Babbo.

It was a weekend excursion to a Brooklyn shop, Marlow and Daughters, that was the second light bulb illuminating his path to launching Mouth Foods. As his children excitedly talked with the butcher and wanted to try all the hand-prepared products lining the cases and shop shelves, Craig realized it was difficult to get these treats unless they paid a visit to the depths of Brooklyn when they had the time. Small production artisans just want to produce – they don’t often think about distribution and when they do can often encounter difficulty winning the competition for shelf space. So how do we get our hands on these goods? And how do we share our favorite new bacon-chocolate discovery without having to stand in line at FedEx to send someone we love the pork-cacao confections that we have wrapped ourselves?

There have been a few online channels that have popped up – foodzie is one of the largest and have recently changed their focus to a subscription model. Gilt Taste is a lusty site that makes me drool for Spanish Mangalica Ham and White Truffle Cream…and also makes we wish I had eight figures in the bank account to afford those items.

Mouth Foods ViewEnter Mouth Foods. A beautifully designed site that showcases what’s in the jar with a bird’s-eye view that tells the mind to dive right in. Just launched in December, they are quickly adding products that live up to the philosophy of supporting small independent packaged food makers to grow their businesses. They are focused on the art and craft of local, sustainable business preparing foods and making food products and making it easier for the consumer to get a taste.

With the desire to support a start-up supporting the up-all-night small food producers of New York, I sent a package of intriguing bites ranging from a bacon toffee bar to ginger ale, to my cousin and did a face-time session with her when her surprise belated-Christmas package arrived. The local angle may not have resonated with her as much as it did with me – she has no idea who NY-based Nunu chocolates or Sour Puss Pickles is, but that didn’t stop her from gushing over every sip and bite of just plain old delicious handmade treats. And if she is interested {as I was} she can read about each of the makers on the site.

So what’s next for Mouth Foods? More products and more cities. And, in my opinion, I’d love to see a subscription model that brings Christmas morning to your doorstep on a regular basis. I don’t always want to go online when my craving hits, but I would like to receive a jar when Brooklyn Brine launches a new flavor. I want to be the first to try Nunu chocolates latest chocolate-covered X. And then I want to send a gift of all my favorites that I have personally tried to my network of friends and family. I want to be a tastemaker and I want Mouth Foods to be my discovery channel of all the best and newly launched artisanal goodness being brewed in the small, scattered storefronts throughout the country.

Need Quick Gift Ideas?
Choco-Lot Taster
Jackers and Crams Taster
Hot Stuff Taster
Pickle Town Taster
Nuts for You Taster
Snack Mouth Taster 

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

Mouth Foods Gift Tasters

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8.ate@eight Deliciously Different Valentine’s Day Gift and Dinner Ideas

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

You’ve found that special someone who likes long walks on the beach too, but you’re late to the game planning Valentine’s Day? Never fear, if you’re in need of some good inspiration to show your love, here a list of a few of my favorite ideas — whether you’re looking for a romantic night in, a unique meal out or a gift of food that is the way to your love’s heart.

♥ Labor of  Love With Your Own Hands ♥

Cocktail Kick-Off: Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
When In Doubt, Roast a Chicken: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
When in Doubt, Roast a Hot and Spicy Chicken: Some Like it HOT Pollo alla Diavola
Spice it Up: Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Bourbon and Flames to Heat Things Up: Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster
Bedtime Snack: Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Breakfast in Bed:
How To Cook The Perfect Sunny Side-Up Egg w/ Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

More 8.ate@eight Recipes HERE

♥ Wine & Dine ♥

10s Across the Board: The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi
An Aphrodisiac’s Evening: Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
Interactive Eating: Love, Love Shabu Shabu: Fun to Say and Eat
Butt. ‘Nough Said: Momofuku That Pork Butt is Good!
Slurping is Sexy: NYC Ramen Wars: Ippudo vs. momofuku noodle bar
Smoked Meat is Sexier: 18 Meat Dishes for Men & BBQ Heaven @Fette Sau
Cozy and Romantic: August in April
Single and Looking for Love: Wilfie & Nell: Not Your Grandpa’s Watering Hole

More 8.ate@eight Favor8 Restaurants HERE

♥ Gifts A Dozen Times Better Than Roses ♥

Take a Kick-Ass Specialty Class: Sign-Up for an Underground Sidetour 
Ice Cream Gram:
Send Your Valentine an Ice Cream Gram from Milkmade
A Gift to Warm the Soul: Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Artisanal Meats, Cheeses & Chocolates! Artisanal Specialty Foods Digested

♥ Text Me ♥ Recipe 4 Love ♥ Table 4 Two ♥ Be Mine ♥ Cool Cat

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Filed under @home {recipes to love}, Do This!, Eat Here!, {Drink Me}

Do This: Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues

There may not be snow on the ground yet, but I for one am looking for a little inspiration to get me through January — and the 3°F with windchill is not helping matters. Enter Sidetour, an online marketplace that recently launched this Fall, promoting “authentic experiences. real people.” Or a tagline I am going to apply: really cool experiences, with really cool people we should all know more of {you, of course, do not need to be really cool, but you do need to be real and ready step off the beaten path}.

Sidetour created a platform for anyone with an expertise to host and promote unique events, allowing the host to set everything from the date, price and size of the group to suit each artisanal experience. The result? A collection of underground, undiscovered ways to fill your calendar that break the monotony of your typical social flings {we know you love Pastis, but isn’t it time to try something new?}. It’s the year of private supper clubs, pop-up anything and being the first to know about gems you won’t find in a guidebook or on any Top 10 lists. Whether you’re a native to NYC or a visitor who just tossed their Lonely Planet in the garbage in favor of an authentic experience, Sidetour plays right into the idea of bringing passion and the uncharted together to provide you with something memorable and inspired.

Brooklyn RootedEnjoy Brooklyn Rooted: an Artisanal Dinner Party for 8, with the Chef Who Won Last Night’s Chopped on The Food Network

 

 

 

 

Indian Food and Beer PairingOr Taste Flavorful Indian Food with the Perfect Beer Pairing Prepared by a Contestant from NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant

 

 

 

Dine with a Banker Turned MonkHow About Dining with a Banker-Turned-Monk at an East Village Monastery?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear not, if you’re outside the NYC area, Sidetour plans to expand to other cities this year. And if you’re on a January cleanse after one too many Christmas cookies, check out events that span other areas of interest beyond just food. Hey guys, these would make for great date ideas…several that caught my attention:

Explore the Epicenter of Graffiti Culture at 5Pointz

Get an Insider’s Glimpse into Manhattan’s Historic Jazz Scene

Explore Cutting-Edge Art in Chelsea with a Gallery Insider

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Filed under Do This!, NYC Best, Travel Bite

Socarrat: A Seductive Spanish Cellar Worthy of Date- or Girl’s- Night

Socarrat Paella Bar

I’m craving the warmth of the holiday season. And I’m not talking about the 61 degree day we’re having on December 6th. I’ve tried turning on the TV Yule Log and listening to a little Annie Lennox Christmas Cornucopia, but what I really want is a night out at the kind of place that warms your face and your mood the moment you push aside the winter-proofing velvet curtains hung inside the door.

I first discovered Socarrat Paella Bar in the Fall. Brick walls adorned with antique mirrors, wood-planked ceilings dropping tulip-shaped lighting, high tables forcing the intimate lean toward your dining company — I loved it before I even placed the napkin in my lap.

Socarrat Paella

But of course it’s the measure of the menu that truly wins my heart — and Socarrat seduces successfully. Choose from any number of traditional tapas, from the steeply priced{and worthy} $22 24-month dry-aged Jamon Iberico, to the more reasonable and finger-aioli-lickin’-good, patatas bravas. The left side of the menu offers a generous list of bite-sized options that can be shared amongst friends or in a friendly game of toothpick wars with your date.

But what you really want to hold out for is one of Socarrat’s eight paella options {menu here}. Placed atop cleverly elevated and off-set paella pedestals, you can easily sample several pans despite the intimacy of the small table setting. The pricing averages $23 per person, but the paella pays back 10-fold with its heaping dish of fresh seafood, spanish-seasoned meats, colorful veg and the prized caramelization of the rice bed {know as the socarrat}.

The Skim: Even if it is summer, Socarrat Paella Bar is an option you want to keep high on your dining list when you’re looking for warmth. Excellent Spanish wines, flavor-bursting paellas, easily sharable tapas are all encased in a perfectly intimately-lit setting that is suitable for a fingers-crossed date night or an evening with your closest friends.

Map: 259 W. 19th {8th Ave} or 284 Mulberry {Houston}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone:  212.462.1000

Seconds on the Spanish Senorita!:
Barcelona Digested: Food for Foodies
recipe goodness :: peppers padron at home
recipe goodness :: celebrate with stand-out spanish sangria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

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Getting Local, Personal {and Naked} with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

When I co-founded Freshocracy with my partners, we set out with the primary mission of making it easier for busy New Yorkers to get back in the kitchen and cook from scratch. But our secondary mission was to delight our customers with the simple and intense flavor of locally harvested and seasonal ingredients that taste like real food is supposed to taste. You can’t argue with a sweet, juicy field red tomato when it’s picked at its peak and comes straight from the farm to our customers’ tables.

Eating local or calling yourself a locavore may seem like a new trend or matter of awareness to most of you, but there are a few trailblazers in the New York food scene who have been upholding this food philosophy since before it was a coined phrase. Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 {an East Village locavore-centric artisanal beer and food den} and founder of The Good Beer Seal, is a man everyone should know. He is an avid supporter of local farmers {check out his menu or join a small-farm CSA with pick-ups at Jimmy’s}, an innovator in planning fantastically fun food fests {Cook Out NYC, Meatopia, Taste of Tribeca, The Great New York City Shuck ‘N Suck} and an educator in what it means to enjoy good food and good beer {local oysters and beer tastings every Wed/Thurs + other local-centric events}

In honor of Edible Manhattan’s Eat Drink Local Week, I chatted with Jimmy to understand what inspired his love and respect for all things local…and then slurped down a few Long Island Naked Cowboy Oysters and cold brews at the Jimmy’s No. 43 Eat Drink Local Oyster Event to fully appreciate how he spreads the local love.

While Jimmy grew up with a sensibility that food from local farms is the freshest, getting access to it wasn’t always as easy as going to Union Square on the weekend with your resuable bags. It wasn’t until Jimmy opened his first restaurant, Mugsy’s Chow Chow, in 1994 that he started going to the greenmarket to shop, but even then the market was smaller and his menu wasn’t entirely dedicated to local ingredients. In 2002, with his lease running out he renamed the restaurant to Patio Bar and reinvented the menu to be more focused on the market. The result was amazing food, but there was still a disconnect between his diners’ undeniably positive reactions and their understanding of the local influence on their meals. In Jimmy’s words, “people thought it was weird.” The seminal moment in Jimmy’s locavore timeline came after he opened Jimmy’s No. 43 in 2005. Jimmy hired a new chef to go to the market five days a week to source their dairy, produce and meat from local purveyors. After setting a number of standards for their menu, Jimmy’s No. 43 was awarded Slow Food NYC’s Snail of Approval seal {an award recognizing quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York.} Six years later, Jimmy’s continues to serve up an inspired menu that could only be made better by enjoying one of the many fine microbrews on his bar list. His local philosophy and New Yorker’s reception of it finally converged.

But just because Jimmy uses high quality, local ingredients, doesn’t mean his menu will put a large hole in your wallet. Jimmy very smartly works with farmers to select cuts they have excess supply of, keeping his costs low while helping these small producers sell their inventory. If his regular good food menu and good prices aren’t enticement enough to spend some time sipping beers and noshing at No. 43, then swing by on Wednesday or Thursday for $2 local oyster night. If you’re lucky, Eddie Oysters, the fastest shucker in the land, will be on hand to entertain and feed you. Oyster Trivia: don’t be afraid to slurp one too many of those slippery little suckers — they are only 10 calories a piece!

The thing I love about Jimmy is the casualness of the world he has created. It’s not about didactic local teachings, but enticing a community of diners and sippers with a consistently good local food and beer atmosphere. Lure them in with a stellar menu and fantastic food events and perhaps they will leave with a better understanding of what it means to Eat Drink Local. We at Freshocracy certainly hope so too!

Eddie Oysters Gettin' Naked

More Local Goodness:
Freshocracy {and yours truly} Featured on Good Food Jobs
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
NYC Best: Purely Good Food & Wine

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