Sunday, November 28, 2010

Red Rooster Harlem

I was privileged to have a wonderful culinary experience at a new restaurant that hasn't even opened to the public yet. I know, cool right. To think that I considered not going in order to focus on my half marathon training. That thought left my mind quickly when I considered the Chef that's name is a attached to this gem in Harlem. Here's a hint, 2 words, Ethiopia and Sweden.
Most recently, Chef Marcus Samuelsson, born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden is best known for his winningthe Top Chef Masters on The Bravo channel. He isa world renowned chef, and the youngest chef to receive a 3-star review from The New York Times (at age 24). The fact that his name is connected to anything related to James Beard(named "Best Chef: New York City" by the James Beard Foundation) was reason enough for me to make the trip from Jersey to Harlem in rush hour traffic.

Needless to say just knowing those little tidbits, I was not missing this Monday evening event. It was a star studded event with Cicily Tyson in attendance and Chrisette Michele performing, to close out the evening. But I must say, the star of the night was Marcus Samuelsson's food.

Though the space is not finished, with exposed drywall, and unfinished walls, the place was jumping with excitement and anticipation. The evening began with cocktails served in the basement of the restaurant. Mini-mini fish tacos were passed, as well as shooters of what tasted and looked like butternut squash soup. Following the cocktail hour we took our seats and the food experience began. I have shared the complete menu for the evening below. I could go on and on about this food, but what you need to know is that if you are in Harlem when Red Rooster opens, you need to visit.

Red Rooster will be a space that is unique to several of the other restaurants in the area.There will be a breakfast cafe, communal table, horse shoe shaped bar, and grocery. The basement will house a jazz, gospel open mic type experience as well as cooking demo's and classes.

The executive chef of Red Rooster is Andrea Bergquist bringing experience from other famous eatery's like Tabla, Merkato 55, and Gramercy Tavern.

Crab Cakes
Lump blue crab, spiced mayo
Pickled Beets
Manchego, spinach hazelnuts
M'hudi Sauvinon Blanc 2008

Fried Yard Bird
White mace gravy
Roasted Salmon
Apple cider glaze
One World Pinotage 2008

Herbed Couscous
smoked Collard Greens
Mac and Greens
roasted Cauliflower

Assorted Red Rooster Desserts
red velvet cupcakes, donuts dusted with cinnamon sugar with banana filling
Seven Sisters "Odelia" Bukettraube 2009

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fourth of July in NOLA

Every year I spend the Independence Day Holiday in New Orleans with a group of my girls, this year was no different. Though, when the excursions to New Orleans for this exciting weekend began in 2004, there was more partying and less relaxing and enjoying the local scene. The weekend always is centered around a great event that Essence Magazine hosts every year, the Essence Music Festival. Now that we have been there and done the crazy parties, this year we decided to change it up. Don't get me wrong we are up for a party if we feel the need. What I mean, is we finally got tired of doing the Essence Music Festival the same way every year. We would do the same things, eat the same things and hang out in the same areas.

This year we decided, to skip the parties and focus on enjoying New Orleans. Rather than getting our beignets from Cafe Du Monde in a bag to go; we sat down and enjoyed them and enjoyed the music and the crowd.

And the main change that we made was to dedicate an evening to leave the city center and enjoy a great dinner. After doing a little research on I stumbled upon this little restaurant in the Garden District called Dante's Kitchen.

Dante's Kitchen is a quaint restaurant situated on what appears to be a neighborhood street, in the Garden District of New Orleans, not too far from Tulane University, 736 Dante St
New Orleans, LA 70118. The night that we had reservations for, was completely booked, we were seated by the door and could hear the owner/host telling the walk ins that he couldn't accommodate them...great sign for us. So I started with a mojito, hey I'm in NOLA! But rather than a traditional mojito, I had a blueberry variation, that was delicious.

Dante's service is great, our waiter made great suggestions for us. I started with the Grilled Shrimp and Stoneground Grits. I had had shrimp with the heads on, so that didn't turn me off at all, and the grits were perfect. So perfect I cooked my own version of a recipe I found on line when I returned home, check out my handy work. In the typical southern fashion, Dante's serves cornbread in a miniature cast iron skillet. But in not so typical fashion the cornbread is a molasses cornbread with honey butter on top. In a word...YUM!! In fact the couple next to us didn't eat theirs and we overheard the owner asking about it, and we said, if they don't want it we will take it. He thought we were joking.

Next for the entree, we decided to get the Roasted Chicken Under a Brick, it was served with a potato hash, with a fried egg. This entree was delicious, the chicken had some sort of sweet seasoning, and when I broke the yoke on the egg, it mixed with the chicken jus and made a great sauce. The potatoes had a little bit of bacon, added to it. everything went together very well. I was apprehensive of the egg, but it worked. And as you can see the portions are not skimpy, but quality is not sacrificed for quantity.

Dante's prides themselves on cooking local products, and so not only is the food down home elegance, so is their hospitality. The owner/host had the cab called and walked us to our cab at the end of the evening. What a great night.

The weekend was about, music, family, friendships, food, and FUN, if you are up for it we will be in NOLA next year, same time same place, new restaurant visits.

Taste big Dream Bigger

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Las Vegas A Go Go

I just returned from an awesome vacation on the left coast, west coast, if you are confused. We traveled to LA for a wedding, but decided to spend a couple days in Vegas as well. Now whenever I travel I spend countless hours deciding where I might eat on my travels. This trip was no different.

The first stop that we made was a pretty well know spot away from the strip. Hash House A Go Go was amazing. The eatery is well known for their over sized food, and breakfast hash. We decided to order the roasted chicken hash. Like all of the other hashes it is tossed with crispy potatoes and topped with 2 eggs and is accompanied with 1 HUGE biscuit, but this hash has roasted chicken breast meat, garlic, onions asparagus and rosemary. It tasted so fresh and the chicken was moist and full of flavor. The biscuit was no afterthought either. Each table had what I think was a fresh strawberry rhubarb preserve to top your biscuit with.

Finally, we also ordered the over sized brown sugar banana flap jacks. These cakes were crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. I wish I had a picture but we were so hungry, it was too late, all the more reason for you to go see it for yourself.

I had one other magical culinary stop in Los Angeles that I will share with you shortly. Until then,

Taste big Dream Bigger

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Life Changes and Ideas

I am struggling to refocus my healthy lifestyle, I took a small break from my Beach Body Insanity workout, to resume April 26, 2010. And with changes in my life that I want to make, I felt the need to purge some things from my physical life. So this weekend I have committed to cleaning my house from top to bottom. It is going well so far.

In my cleaning frenzy I stumbled upon a few restaurant guides, and I thought wouldn't it be cool to visit every restaurant in one of those guides and share my experience with you, the readers. So obviously it will take a very long time to get through the list, but I am in no rush.

In the future I am also thinking of trying a vegan diet for a period of time, and a more local food diet for a period of time, just to see if I feel different, and also how I can change my carbon footprint, so I would like to take you on that journey with me as well. In the coming weeks I will be deciding which endeavor I will take on first and begin to share those experiences. I'm excited, let the research begin.

Taste big Dream Bigger

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Springing Forward on a Lazy Sunday

I know I know, I said I was going to be better at blogging and I had great intentions but I have a renewed focus. And have a renewed interest in sharing and exploring.

After running the Disney World Half Marathon in January, I basically gave up on all things athletic. And when I could barely fit into my pj's I decided that it was probably time to get it in gear. Fast forward to about 5 weeks ago when I decided I should push myself to do a 60 Insanity workout. You've seen it, Shaun T...Dig Deeper...Cardio Circuit. Well I am now on week 5 and have run into a bit of a problem with my back. So my Insanity workout is on a bit of a hold. Bummer I know, sad thing is I don't know what I did to my back, but, needless to say it wasn't because of Insanity.

In my experience thus far with the Insanity workout I have a great recipe that is in the nutrition plan that I have modified a bit to be even more flavorful. The recipe is the Protein Pancake:

1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
1/4 cup instant oats
1/3 cup of egg whites
1 whole egg
1/4 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of blackberries

Get a pan hot with cooking spray, and pour the mixture of all of the ingredients but the fruit. Once you have worked that mixture around in the pan until most of the batter is cooked, add the fruit and spread it evenly around the pancake. When the pancake has cooked most of the way flip it over to finish on lower heat. This pancake is so sweet you don't even need syrup, but if you do use any Agave nectar is very good.

Spring is almost upon us which means NYC restaurants and the summer will bring vacations to LA and New Orleans so I will have lots to share.

Taste big Dream Bigger

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dinner in Lower Manhattan

I had a great romantic dinner recently, and it could not have been more delicious. There is nothing like great company, wonderful service and a satisfying and reasonably priced food. When ever New York Restaurant week comes around, I love to take advantage of the great $35.00 dinner menu. The $35.00 covers a delicious appetizer, entree, and dessert. Restaurant Week this year is from July 12-31, and I strongly suggest anyone near New York take advantage of this great deal. Some may not have an opportunity to dine at many of these restaurants any other time during the year, with our economic conditions.

I decided to dine in Lower Manhattan this time, and after reviewing a few of the Restaurant Week menus, I decided to try out, The Harrison. After getting a parking spot on the street only a block away, we arrived for our 7:45pm reservations, and were immediately seated. Though the seating places you a bit close to the next tables, the atmosphere is great, and the staff was eager to answer any questions about the menu or wine menu.

We decided on the Crispy Skate Fingers on napa cabbage slaw and lemon creme fraiche, and Summer Baby Lettuce with and apple-fennel vinaigrette as our appetizers. The appetizers were the perfect amount and the Skate was cooked to perfection with the crisp coating on the skate and the crunch of the slaw, with a bit of the creme fraiche, I could have made that the meal. And the salad had just the right amount of vinaigrette dressing.

As our entrees we decided to have Bacon Crusted Bluefish on top of a grilled beefsteak tomato and poblano cream, as well as the Grilled Hanger Steak with warm red potato salad and sweet red onions, the steak was perfect and practically melted in our mouths, and the bluefish with the cream was wonderful, although it was bacon crusted it still seamed very light, and had so much flavor.

Finally my favorite course......dessert. For dessert on the Restaurant Week menu was summer Berry Shortcake with a housemade biscuit and fresh whipped cream. With my current plan of running a half marathon, this was a perfect sized dessert. The biscuit had a shortbread and cornmeal flavor, and there was nothing about the dessert that we could change. After completing the meal the server delivers small squares of a very rich chocolaty brownie to send you on your way. The end to a perfect meal.

The location of The Harrison is perfect for the folks coming from the Holland Tunnel, if they don't live in the city. You will find The Harrison at 355 Greenwich St (between Franklin St & Harrison St) New York, NY 10013. Just one block from the famous Tribeca Grill and 1 block from the West Side Highway.

After dinner we were able to walk along the Hudson and take in the city. I will return to The Harrison, and I think they might have convinced me to return after Restaurant Week.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sweet Thang

In focused preparation mode for my half marathon, I am getting my eating habits in check as well. I watched the new television show on Lifetime "Cook Yourself Thin". The television show is hosted by 3 women that share recipes with an overweight woman that has lost her way in the kitchen, and is not making the appropriate choices in her everyday eating. The 3 women, select 3 of the favorite foods that are high in fat and calories, and give the overweight woman the 3 equivalent alternative that literally cut their caloric intake by at least half in a day.

Yesterday I decided to go grocery shopping with a "Cook Yourself Thin" mindset. So after my morning run, I prepared a breakfast of Stuffed French Toast Sundaes.

The recipe was so simple, it began by mixing an egg and an egg white, cinnamon, a teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of skim milk. The next step was to dip 4 slices of crust-less wholewheat bread into the egg and milk mixture. And finally you line cupcake tins with the four slices of bread. After cooking the toast in the oven for 12min at 375 degrees, you top the toasted cups with ricotta cheese and fresh berries. The recipe was so easy but it was twice as delicious. I served it topped with maple syrup, 2 sundaes for just 353 calories. YUM!!

I suggest you visit the site and see if you can "Cook Yourself Thin"

Taste big, and dream bigger : )