Long considered the ‘coffee shop desert’ of Manhattan, the Upper West Side now boasts coffee and pastries to rival the Stumptown’s of Flatiron and the Blue Bottles of Brooklyn. The uniting appeal in the coffee shop explosion of recent years lies in owners’ singular commitments to both quality and happiness.
Birthday brunches are always fun, and this past week I went to Del Posto in Chelsea, NYC, and had an amazing Italian dining experience. According to Opentable, “Del Posto is the first Italian restaurant in almost 40 years to be awarded 4 stars from the New York Times,” and it surely did meet that expectation of a highly rated Italian restaurant in NYC.
Del Posto’s brunch/lunch prix-fixe price is at $49 and consists of three courses with your choice of antipasto, secondo, and dolce. You can also get pasta for the entire table for $10 per person, though it is a bit annoying for experimental diners like me, who would like to have everyone order a different kind of pasta so that everyone could try, instead of having to choose one for all.
Enough complaining, the following photos show the artful plating that amounted to the incredibly savory experience. The names of the food are as follows (in order of appearance): Chef’s special appetizer assortment (changes daily I suppose), Antipastis-Lobster alla Cesare, Truffled Beef Carne Cruda, Primi-Pumpkin Capellacci, Secondi-Rare Atlantic Salmon, Dolcis-Chef’s Special (some form of toasted apple crumble with ice cream) and Fette Biscottate.
Of course, long live pizza, but once in a while, exploring other Italian food is never a bad idea. I would definitely recommend going for lunch rather than dinner if you just want the experience as their prix-fixe is much cheaper during lunch, though it is still pricey. For more detailed info for each food item, check my foodstagram ! or delposto.com/menu/
On April 12, 2009, I ate at Toro for the first time. It was Easter, and my family was in South Boston, and my mom had seen it as we drove by. Six years later, and I have met and interviewed Chef Jamie Bissonnette, cooked with a chef who used to work at Toro, and eaten at Toro many, many more times.
Now, a confession: I haven’t actually eaten at Toro NYC (though I have been to the space), Chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer’s latest venture (an offshoot of the original Boston Toro). However, most of the dishes are similar, and I trust these two chefs enough to recommend the New York location. I trust Pete Wells, too, who reviewed Toro NYC for the New York Times and wrote “I can’t remember what we were eating at Toro, the new tapas restaurant in far western Chelsea, when one of the people at my table looked up in wonder….But I remember his smile and his question: ‘How can a place this big have food this good?’”
Wells is right. The food is damn good. When I talked to Bissonnette, he remarked that he thought “good art” (in terms of food) was if someone returned from Toro saying “Oh my god, the food at Toro was so good; I ate too much.”
What he didn’t know is that this has happened every time I’ve gone to Toro. Bissonnette and Oringer have a touch for these Spanish-inspired tapas that is just brilliant. The combinations of flavors showcased on Toro’s instagrams, both Boston and NY, are just brilliant: schnitzel with Serrano, idizabel, mustard, and pea greens. Whipped foie butter with tangerine and chestnut mostarda. The DTF.
Bissonnette also mentioned that a restaurant wasn’t just about the food; “It’s about the dining room, it’s about the culture.” Toro has drawn crowds from its opening night in New York, bringing a young, lively, hip group of eaters to the former Nabisco factory in Chelsea. And while it may be all about the culture, in his mind, it’s all about the food in mine.
I like to think I know a fair amount about food—and I do. But talking to Jamie Bissonnette, it became clear how much I have to learn. I left the Toro NYC space—which is gorgeous—feeling like I knew nothing about food. It wasn’t as if Chef Bissonnette had made me feel stupid; in fact, quite the opposite. However, the way he pulled extremely specific examples—at one point, he cited a “stew of chickpeas, chorizo, and blood sausage” as if that was everyone’s go-to example—from thin air showed a level of expertise with food I can only hope to achieve someday. And it is this expertise which allows him to create such incredible combinations of food, and hire chefs and cooks who will as well.
The food is also incredibly colorful and photogenic. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. My mind is blown every time I eat there. Here are some of my favorites, all offered at Toro NYC:
Oh, these are so good. Small enough so that you don’t get tired. The aioli, tomato, and pickled onion are incredible complements.
Another classic. Sometimes the citrus is yuzu, sometimes it’s lemon, but it’s always good.
I can never tell exactly what the “stuff” is, but they’re right to like it.
Sweet, tender, duck-y (duck is my favorite poultry) these were just amazing.
I’m usually not even a fan of anchovies, so I’m not sure why we ordered these.
I am now a fan of anchovies. These were not fishy or bony, and the spices complemented the fish perfectly.
You can’t go wrong with fried potatoes, and even for fried potatoes these are really, really good.
I’ve never heard of duck ham. This is just plain great.
When I went over spring break, I had one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve eaten in a while: Asado de Huesos; roasted bone marrow, served with oxtail marmalade and toast, with citruses and radishes. At Toro NYC they make this with beef cheek instead of oxtail.
That is just art, both visually and gustatorily.
Chef Bissonnette, Chef Oringer: I don’t know how you do it. But what I do know is this: at your restaurants, you make good art.
85 10th Ave; (212) 691-2360
Atmosphere: Open, casual, upbeat, young.
Sound Level: Loud.
Recommended Dishes: Hamburguesas, asado de huesos, patatas bravas
Price Range: $$
Hours: 5:30-11 Mon-Wed; 5:30-12 Thurs-Sat; closed Sunday
This week I returned to one of my favorite Korean restaurants in NYC (excluding Flushing, of course) that is outside of Ktown, Bann Restaurant in 50th and 9th Ave.
For appetizer I had the pork buns, which consist of korean-style boiled pork marinated in a special spicy sauce and a type of raddish-kimchi in rice buns. For main entrees I had Yuk-hwai bibimbop and Galbi-Jjim.
First off, bibimbap at Mill is great when you cannot go off campus, but Bann truly has an AMAZING bibimbap. (Even though in Korea no one really goes out to a restaurant to order bibimbop). Yuk-hwai is raw beef thinly sliced like sashimi and usually marinated in sesame oil and sesame seeds.
Galbi-Jjim was also amazing, and it is one of my favorite dishes in Bann. Galbi is korean-style beef barbeque marinated in a sauce that usually consists of soy sauce and sugar. They cook it together with squash, and the combination of the two is perfection!
That said, Bann also has a lot of vegetarian/vegan options for Korean-food lovers, and I definitely recommend you leave Mill (even though I still love Mill during midterms and dreadful days stuck on campus) to try this place!
I eat Chia Seeds every day, and they have become such a staple in my diet, that I wanted to begin my CU Culinary Society adventure by sharing my experiences with them. In this article you will learn about the nutritional benefits of Chia Seeds, and how easily they can be incorporated into any diet!
High Protein Content
Chia seeds have a complete protein profile (meaning they contain all essential proteins) and are also very high in protein compared to other plant-based foods. Approximately 15% of their weight is made up of protein. This makes chia seeds a desirable protein source, especially for vegetarians.
High Fiber Content
For every 12 grams of carbohydrates in an ounce of chia seeds, 11 grams are fiber, which essentially makes it a low-carb food. Chia seeds also contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, unlike most foods, which only consist of insoluble fiber (which our bodies cannot decompose further). Fiber aids in digestion and also slows it down, which reduces blood sugar spikes, thus making chia seeds a great food for diabetics.
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Most foods have much more Omega-6 than Omega-3, but Chia seeds have 3.5 times as much Omega-3 as Omega-6. Even people who regularly eat fish and eggs are Omega-3 deficient. Fish, eggs, milk, and meats all lack many valuable nutrients that they used to have including Omega-3. (This is due to the recent shift to feeding livestock grain rather than grass for the sake of convenience, speed and costs.) Note: The Omega-3s in Chia seeds are mostly ALA, which your body needs to convert into EPA and DHA, so if you consume Chia seeds for Omega-3 content, it is recommended to take a tablespoon of coconut oil with the Chia seeds. This will help your body to more efficiently convert the ALA into EPA and DHA.
In addition to these benefits, chia seeds are also very high in antioxidants, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
How to incorporate Chia Seeds into your diet:
My favorite way to eat chia seeds is to have chia seed pudding for breakfast. (Because of their high fiber content, chia seeds have the ability to absorb up to 40 times their weight in liquid and form a gel-type texture when put in liquids.) Chia seed pudding is extremely convenient for me, because I make it the night before and it’s ready for me in the morning when I wake up! See the recipe below.
For my chia seed pudding, I use ¼ cup chia seeds with 1 ½ cups of some sort of milk. I usually use soymilk, but sometimes use almond milk, coconut milk, or some combination of the three. Pictured here, I combine them in a bowl because I am making this on a Friday night, but I often make it in in Tupperware, because I can just cap it (instead of wrapping with saran wrap) and then bring it with me to my morning classes.
Tip: Make sure you put the milk in the bowl first, and then add the chia seeds and mix immediately(!) so that they don’t clump. I have let them sit before mixing before, and de-clumping is an annoying and somewhat time-consuming process.
The simple steps:
- Combine ¼ cup chia seeds with 1 ½ cups milk and (optional) sweetener.
- Mix well
- Mix one more time before going to bed (at least 10-15 minutes later)
- Wrap or cover and keep in the fridge overnight
- Wake up to a nutritious and yummy breakfast!
Here are some chia seed pudding variations that I enjoy:
Vanilla (cinnamon) chia seed pudding:
- 1 ½ cup soymilk
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
Chocolate hazelnut chia seed pudding:
- 1 ½ cup soymilk
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon Nutella
- 1 tablespoon cacao powder
Coconut chia seed pudding:
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ cup soymilk
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
I also sometimes top my pudding with fruits and nuts in the morning before consuming (strawberry and sliced almonds on vanilla pudding and mango slices on coconut are two of my favorites!)
Chia seeds can also be easily incorporated into your diet in other ways! You can sprinkle them on top of oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt, add them to your smoothie or pre-workout drink, or bake them into anything! I also often add them to salads.
I hope that after reading this article, you can start incorporating chia seeds into your diet. Please comment and let me know about your chia-seed adventures and maybe some new variations on chia seed pudding that you discover!
Mesdames et Messieurs, the reviews are in: Lafayette you are juste magnifique!
If there’s one culinary bite of wisdom I’ve managed to chew off over my relatively short life it’s one thing: Taste is place. What first drew me to food was travel, that is to say when I experienced that one dish could so deliciously convey a history, a people, and capture the spice of most importantly, a culture. Food is no other than the expression of a land and of a certain terroir. When we savour a slice of Camembert, we’re tasting the beauty of the pastureland, plains and rolling hills that the creamy cows of the île de France and shores of Normandy are grazing on. In a glass of a really good Burgundy pinot noir, it’s the Jurassic period limestone soil and thousand year old vines unique to one of the world’s most geographically distinct regions that our palettes are really sipping on. And the best authentic French food, is of course going to taste the best in none other than the land of France. So what’s the point of trying to find “authentic” french restaurants in another country? Isn’t it all going to be a sort of sad copy, a nostalgic crusade for all deprived francophones, in search of their own culinary golden age? Well this week, Noho’s infamous Lafayette showed two staunchy traditionalists the beauty of culinary translation and of the American-French restaurant variation.There’s no going back to France, but there is a way to appreciate the value of cultural interpretation, and what American chefs might add to the interpretation of French flavors. This week we’re here to celebrate one of our new favorite culinary breeds: le nouveau style, “American-French.”Cher Lafayette, you are a beautiful hybrid.
380 Lafayette St.
So here’s the deal, Lafayette reigns currently as one of NYC’s top French restaurants and we’re stamping it with our wholehearted francophone seal of approval. And not because you’ll find the most authentic French food there, but rather because it offers innovative, delicious spins on traditional regional french classic dishes. Now we’ll be honest, we’re not on the “Boulud” bandwagon these days. Instead we’re joining “team Lafayette” for their ability to produce delicious, creative spins on the best of French cuisine. It’s that creamy quail egg on their “New Orleans” tabasco aioli beef tartare that really revamps original flavors and makes the classics, well, fun again! The quail egg is not a culinary face lift, but rather an inspired addition. Just like that refreshing layer of sweet sauternes gelée on good ole chicken liver paté done right on a light brioche was then “razzle dazzled” into the modern age with balsamic dressed frisée. And the best New York-Franco translation of the night that we’re recommending: Duck au Poivre, a riff on French steak au poivre (filet mignon cooked with peppercorns) but reinvented with a meaty, double stuffed Muscovy duck breast and topped with vibrant bursts of orange candied kumquat, radishes, and smoked bacon. No disrespect to Duck à l’Orange, but Lafayette’s unique kumquat announces a new burst of tart citrus flavor with an added raw crunch to pair perfectly with your duck cooked to a perfect pink. It was one subtle ingredient that didn’t renovate one of my favorite dishes, but rather re-translated a transition.
So why are we sending you on a date with duck at Lafayette next weekend? Quality, delicious dishes that fit a creative American-Franco fused menu. La service? Superbe. Lafayette’s waiters are well tasted and eager to talk you through their Holy Bible of a wine list. L’Atmosphere? It’s no comfy cave bistrot, but their art deco inspired interior and suspender strap wearin’ waiters will whisk you and your palette back to a time when dining was truly a celebration, an elegant affair, and a moment to shine your shoes for. A time when waiters still serve a “lady” first and will even delicately crack open your warm soufflé to pour in just the perfect amount of crème anglaise. Lafayette preserves the grace, tradition, and dedication to the craft of preparing and serving food in a way that embodies the very génie of the French Haute Cuisine. So come for cultural culinary innovation, but let yourself be transported back in time to a restaurant that preserves the very essence of Julia Child’s legacy.
Menu Must Haves:
Winter Paté, foie gras, red cabbage, apple cider
Escarole Salad, pomegranate, hazelnut, parmesan, truffle vinaigrette
Prime Beef Tartare “New Orleans,” tabasco aioli, quail egg
Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano
Duck au Poivre, organic grains, radish, smoked bacon
Petite Orange Soufflé with earl grey crème anglaise, mandarin salad
*And supposively we hear the pommes frites sont divine!
French Check-In: An Afterthought from a Parisian Palette
What was your favorite Lafayette spin?
The French restaurant in NYC? Lafayette, definitely. And maybe because it’s not exactly a French restaurant serving very “typical” dishes that we don’t even really eat back at home.
The restaurant in NYC? Well, that’s a really tricky question obviously, but Lafayette could be in the top five, and considering that there are 16,251 restaurants in NYC (yes actual number), that’s something.
Seriously, this place is everything you can look for when it comes to food: simplicity and quality. I had the Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano (by the way, cheapest dish on the menu, 22 dollars, does it get better than that… ?). It’s a dish I regularly have, from time to time, at home or out. It basically contains pasta and rabbit, that’s it. But this version of it was the real thing because the pasta was perfectly cooked, the rabbit was tender and flavorful. Simple comme bonjour.
PS: Oh, and don’t even get me started on the bread.
PARIS SUGGESTIONS: WHERE TO FIND JULIA CHILD OLD SCHOOL ROMANCE THESE DAYS:
Chez Dumonet (Josephine)
117, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th)
(Disclaimer: this is not a review entry but a photo-dining experience)
Last week I went to Dos Caminos in Meatpacking for NYC Restaurant Week.
Having only been there for a quick bite simply for guac and chips (or fajitas), it was my first time getting the “full meal” experience at the restaurant.
I had their Prix-Fixe lunch menu with Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chile Rubbed Brisket Taquitos, and Torta de Chocolate & Caramelo. My friend ordered the same appetizer with Grilled Organic Salmon Tostada and Tres Leches Cake. And of course, we ordered guac and chips: the Shrimp. Chorizo & Roasted Tomato.
This is not a review entry, but I would say that although the dining service was great, I would not go back to dine for a full-meal experience. Perhaps I have a different taste for Mexican food, as I’ve been and dined in Mexico and lived in Texas for a few years and had Mexican food there, but the food was not that special compared to other Mexican restaurants around New York or in other big cities. Of course, the reasons for it might be that the restaurant caters to American consumer’s general taste for food, and that the ingredients they use could be and probably is not all from Mexico, which could account for a subtle taste difference.
That is not to say that all the food I had: appetizers, entrees, and dessert, were not good. They were tasty and cooked perfectly, and I finished every bite that was on the plate. After all, the place was pretty full, the vibe that the restaurant’s interior created was great (like most big Meatpacking restaurants/bars), and people seemed happy about their orders. Clearly Dos Caminos is doing something right. My only big disappointment was their Tres Leches cake. I don’t know if it was just that day, or if they simply have a different recipe, but the cake was really hard and barely wet, making the cake less flavorful than what I had expected.
I would definitely go back for their guacamole though. I must say. The big bite of shrimp, roasted tomato, guac, salsa verde, and toasted tortilla chip, were on fleek.
Below in the last two photos are the details of the menu for both NY Restaurant Week and their regular Guac selections.
In honor of NYC Restaurant Week, the first visit I made was a Contemporary American dining called Butter in Midtown, NYC. Their prix-fixe menu had three choices each for Appetizer and Entrée, and two for Dessert. I had the Butternut Squash Soup with Popcorns, Ravioli with Pesto Sauce, and Chocolate Torte with Mocha Ice-cream. They also had two choices of butter for their bread, the classic, and some form of herb-butter. Overall the service and the dining, for the prix-fixe price, was great! Now time to go on the elliptical (while making my next Restaurant Week reservation through OpenTable.)
For a new twist on the traditional schnitzel, try the sandwiches at Schitz. Originally a stand at Smorgasburg, Schnitz, run by brother and sister Yoni and Donna Erlich, opened up its first brick and mortar location earlier this year. When I visited, I tried the Bamberg and the Sweet Onion Sandwiches along with a side of Schnitz Fries. The chicken was juicy inside and perfectly crunchy outside – a true balance of textures. Each sandwich is topped with house made pickled vegetables which can also be bought by the jar. With eight different sandwiches including chicken, pork belly, pork loin, shrimp, and butternut squash and corn, Schnitz is sure to have the schnitzel to fill any craving.