Saturday, October 31, 2009


Brinkley's opened this week in the old Bar Martignetti space, giving my neighborhood a much-needed casual dining spot. The windows have funky illustrations on the outside - a bicycle and a bear in a smoking jacket.

The interior does a good job of modernizing the pub, but the layout was a bit akward - the bar area was packed and overcrowding the front dining area, with the back area fairly empty and dotted with too few tables.

The menu looked great, and a couple friends and I sampled most of the small plates with glasses of the fantastic Wild Boar Doe from Shinn Estate, a blend of merlot/cabernet sauvignon/malbec/petit verdot/cabernet franc. The butter poached pheasant over ceasar salad was one of the best dishes - and the lightest - that we had. The trout over fennel, apple and celery slaw was less successful. Being partial to hot dogs, I ordered the Brinkley dog, a half pork/half beef dog with apples, leeks and cheddar. It was a delicious, grown-up version of a hot dog that I'll definitely be returning for. The creamy artichoke soup with parmesan and even creamier zucchini carbonara with bacon were both excellent and artery clogging. A side of cauliflower cheese was more or less a rich mac 'n' cheese with the cauliflower standing in for the macaroni. The other side we tried - Bubble & Squeak - is a mix of sausage, potatoes and cabbage and was a perfect pair with the Brinkley Dog.

For dessert, we tried the plum crumble with clotted cream. It was a sweet but not too heavy ending to a seriously heavy meal, although next time I'll be trying the fried mars bar or the pumpkin meringue pie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zibetto, New Amsterdam Market, Lulu and Mooky's

It was a gorgeous fall day yesterday - perfect weather for strolling around and checking out the New Amsterdam Market. On the way there I stopped at Zibetto, a beautiful espresso bar on Fulton street of all places. Completely different from any of the neighboring discount clothing stores, delis, and dvd street vendors, the modern space has a marble bar, lovely glass globe lights and a friendly staff that make a perfect cappuccino. I also tried a couple of the best Italian cookies I've had - buttery, sweet and a little bit salty.

The New Amsterdam Market was in full effect by the time I arrived, with queues at all the popular stands. There were numerous cheese, meat, wine and restaurant stands with samples or small plates - my favorites are below:

Meat Hook: bratwurst, sauerkraut and a touch of mild mustard on a bun.

Saltie: a delicious potato leek pie, with pickled onion and spicy mustard

The Bent Spoon: yummy new ice cream flavors - chocolate with rosemary, pumpkin with cacao nibs, and cranberry cider sorbet

Taza Chocolate: their chocolate is minimally processed for a rich flavor and slightly crunchy texture

Shellbark Hollow: creamy goat's ricotta with a strawberry jam topping

After leaving the market, there was one last place I was dying to check out: Lulu and Mooky's. They make ice cream to order using liquid nitrogen, with about 50 flavors that you can choose or mix and match to make your own new flavor. I choose pineapple and basil and then watched as they combined the flavored syrups and liquid nitrogen in a mixer and watched the fog consume the counter.

The result was incredibly dense and creamy ice cream that tasted oddly like a Dum Dum's cream soda pop.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Whiskey & Cheese

Artisanal has incredible wine & cheese classes, but I was excited to attend the recent Whiskey & Cheese event since my experience with whiskey has been limited to bourbon old-fashioneds from cocktail bars. After a reception with cava and an assortment of cheeses, the class started. We moved through six single malt scotch whiskeys ranging from fresh to deep and smoky, paired with cheese from Artisanal's collection. Most of the scotch was a bit challenging for a novice, but I really took to the Talisker, a 10-year old vintage that was very smoky and reminded me of the bacon-infused bourbon at PDT. As usual for Artisanal, all of the cheeses were incredible, but this Oregon Blue from Rogue Creamery really left an impression. Sweet, salty and smoked, it really stood out from the other varieties we sampled - Bleu de Laqueuille, Roquefort, Hoch Ybrig, Gruyère, and a soft goat's milk topped with a bay leaf. The night finished with a slice of a dense, creamy cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust.

Rioja Week

I've been a huge fan of Yerba Buena since it opened, but I only recently had a chance to check out their sister restaurant in the west village, Yerba Buena Perry. Since YBP was one of the restaurants participating in Rioja Restaurant Week, it was the perfect opportunity to stop by the more spacious new location and try 2 Rioja pairings with an appetizer for $12. I tried the rose (Muga) and red (Muriel) and my friend had the white (Muga) and rose; we both shared delicious coffee-glazed pork belly arepas and a tuna ceviche with pickled watermelon & soy-jalapeno dressing.

We moved away from Rioja and tried a rich Bordello and a big, fruity Malbec with the rest of dinner - crunchy manchego croquettes with salsa verde; refined hamachi taquitos with pineapple and habenero salso; and spinach, manchego and corn empanadas. Unfortunately our dessert, the tres leches parfait, would have been great except for the cake layer. All in all, this location seems as solid as the original.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Best Bites

Welcome to pork and chocolate! To me, food isn't simply a necessity but an experience for the senses and should always be delicious. I'm constantly searching for the best and most exciting experiences new york city has to offer and one of my passions is to share the great finds. To that end, I started putting together food tours based on my favorite tastes in downtown Manhattan for friends and family but am now expanding the tours to anyone interested in some of the best flavors the city has to offer. Each tour is small and customized for the most personalized experience, and last around 2-3 hours. Drop me an email or leave a comment if you're interested! Cheers & happy eating!