Sunday, February 28, 2010

Socarrat Paella Bar

My go-to spot for paella, Socarrat Paella Bar, recently opened a wine bar next door to the restaurant, and I went to check it out for dinner. We started with the classic pan con tomate, bread rubbed with olive oil, garlic, salt and tomatoes.

Next up was the incredible Iberico tres leches queso, a creamy and mild cheese complimented perfectly with dried cranberries.

The chorizo imperial was nutty with a hint of spice.

Unfortunately the tuna belly wasn't as good as the everything else, and I wouldn't order it again.

We moved next door to the restaurant for paella, but started with one of my favorite dishes on the menu, the menestra de veduras - snow peas, fava beans, asparagus, fresh corn, tomato and salty serrano ham in an addictive serrano-flavored broth.

Then came the perfect Socarrat Paella, a perfect mix of chicken, fish, beef, shrimp, peppers, mussels and clams with crunchy rice.

We finished with slices of the almond ice cream cake, topped with crushed almonds.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

DessertTruck Works

I think I've found the ultimate dessert from the newly opened DessertTruck Works shop. The warm chocolate bread pudding is buttery, rich, creamy, gooey and comes not only with scoop of cream on top, but also with a smoky bacon custard sauce and a crisp chocolate cookie. It's heaven.

The adorable olive oil, thyme and honey mini cake is incredibly light and fluffy with a custard filling and a spring of thyme on top.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I adore steamed buns, and I'm so excited about the opening of Baohaus on the LES. There are 3 options of the authentic Taiwanese Gua Boa, and I tried the pork belly and the vegetarian. The vegetarian option with fried tofu and spicy sauce was really good, but I fell in love with the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth all natural Niman Ranch pork belly bun, with a hint of sweetness from a mix of crushed peanut, cilantro, Haus sauce and Taiwanese red sugar.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Paris Sandwich

After hibernating most of this weekend with a cold, I decided to venture out to Paris Sandwich, a banh mi shop that opened in my neighborhood a few months ago.

The meatball baguette arrived on perfect bread - a thin crunchy outside with a soft inside that was easy to eat. The meatballs were delicious and topped with cucumber, cilantro, carrots and Vietnamese mayo.

The hot honey lemonade was a nice surprise - with a lemon slice floating on top it was tart but soothing with the honey and instantly made me feel better. At $5 total, this is definitely a place I'll be frequenting.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Manny's giant brownie

On a work trip to Minneapolis this week, a colleague and I opted for dessert at Manny's Steakhouse. We decided to order the brownie and a few minutes later out came the biggest brownie I've ever seen. It was easily an entire pan of brownies left uncut on the plate. It could have fed our whole office, but after stuffing ourselves with the moist, caramel filled brownie topped with whipped cream, ice cream, strawberries, hot fudge AND caramel sauce it looked like we barely made a dent.

brownie, before and after

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Francois Chocolate Bar

I’ve been missing Payard since it closed last summer, but finally made my way back uptown to check out Francois Payard’s new chocolate café incarnation, Francois Chocolate Bar. On the top floor of a jewelry shop, the café offers the signature chocolates as well as a range of decadent chocolate desserts and is a perfect place to get a chocolate fix.

There are several flavors of hot chocolate, and I tried the milk chocolate version with Nutella and it was incredibly rich and creamy.

The verrine tout chocolat was out of this world, with layers of dark chocolate sabayon, dark choc leaves with fluer de sel, chocolate macaron, chocolate mousse and caramel chips.  

Monday, February 15, 2010

Torrisi Italian Specialties

A turkey sandwich was always just a turkey sandwich until I tried the house roasted turkey from Torrisi Italian Specialties.

The turkey is glazed with honey, garlic and topped with thyme for incredible flavor.

Used in the panama sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion and spicy mayo, this is a turkey sandwich like no other.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cookie Bar

The James Beard award-winning author Dorie Greenspan launched a pop-up cookie shop, Cookie Bar, this weekend featuring cookies from her much-loved recipes. The cookies looked great, and I loved the pancake-shaped World Peace, a cocoa-ey bittersweet dark chocolate with fleur de sel; the buttery sables that compete with Balthazar's; the interesting espresso shortbread with chopped Valrhona chocolate; and the just-like-homemade-except-better peanut butter cookie. The pop-up is now closed, but keep your eye out for other ones coming up and a permanent location in the future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Out of the few remaining Italian specialty shops in Little Italy, I'm partial to Alleva for both the old-school vibe, the relative lack of tourists compared to some of the other grocers on the block and mostly, their amazing foods. They have stromboli, pizza and sandwiches to take out, but my favorites for an Italian feast are below.

The alla calce olives are unusually bright green, super mild with a hint of fennel, and I'm convinced their the same olives served at Peasant's bar. I could snack on these all day.

The soppressata is incredible in both the spicy and sweet versions, and I can never get enough of the alpino, a prosciutto salami.

The creamy Italian fontina is a nice compliment the olives and cheese.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Puro Wine

The recently opened Puro Wine in soho is a great little wine shop with a huge range of Chilean wines stacked floor to ceiling. Being a huge fan of Argentine wines, I thought it made sense to branch out and explore more wines from the continent.

To get acquainted with their selection, they've been hosting wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays. In the past couple of weeks, I picked up the delicious 2008 Puerto Veijo Chardonnay with juicy tropical flavor and this 2007 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenere with extraordinary spicy notes.

There are more tastings coming up: Super-Chilean Blends from Los Maquis Wines this Friday, 2/12 from 5-7 and wines from the Montes vineyards on Sat 2/13 from 4-6.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Village Tart

I'm so happy the the Village Tart opened literally next door to my apartment. It's all I can do not to stop by every day for fabulous bites from Lesly Bernard and consulting chef Pichet Ong.

The perfectly flaky, buttery croissant is elevated with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes and makes a great breakfast.

But so does the mini size bacon scallion quiche, with a very high crust-to-quiche ratio and big chunks of bacon.

Given my love for all things pumpkin, I was drawn to the pumpkin, asparagus and ricotta pizza. I could eat this every day.

The alfajores are incredible - the best I've had outside of Buenos Aires. The cookie is thin, slightly moist, buttery and filled with a delicate and creamy dulce de leche.

There are several cupcake flavors with Pichet Ong's touch - I tried the stracciatella (chocolate chip) and it was super dense, filled with a creamy center and topped with chocolate chip frosting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vosges Sweet Coquette Collection

I'm completely enamored with the new aphrodisiac Sweet Coquette chocolate collection from Vosges .

It comes in this lovely heart shaped, ribbon wrapped box that's perfect for gift giving.

The new flavors are incredible: the kumamoto, with Kumamoto oysters and champagne in white chocolate dusted with pearl has just hint of freshness from the oyster and richness from the champagne; the edith, another champagne truffle but with rosé and rolled in rose buds; and the mamajuana, a take on the traditional Dominican aphrodisiac with honey, molasses, red Vermouth, Dominican rum, herbs and spices.