Tag Archives: New York City

La Vie Lounge – VIP Bloggers Night

6 May

La Vie is an exotic space nestled in the East Village that offers a French-Moroccan aesthetic with a full dinner menu created by Executive Chef, Momo Terien.  With its beautifully intricate hanging lanterns and intoxicating ambiance, La Vie offers an escape for the après work and late night crowds alike.

Live entertainment including international music nights and belly dancers are featured throughout the week and the new dinner menu is now available for late night dining, offered until 3am, 7 days a week.  La Vie also offers one of the best happy hours in the neighborhood, including $4 sangria, $3 select beer, $6 well drinks, and $15 hookah that goes from 6pm-10pm, 7 days a week.

As a guest of the Grand Opening event, I was treated to an evening of open bar, hookah, select hors d’oeuvres based off of the new dinner menu and an impromptu belly dancing performance that stole the show.

The event was a lot of fun, and if I find myself in the Lower East Side, needing a little Middle-Eastern flare, I’ll definitely keep La Vie Lounge in mind.

Peanut Butter & Co. – Peanut Butter Flavors Review

26 Jan

As a frequent visitor of Peanut Butter & Co.’s storefront in the West Village, I am hardly new to the phenomenon that is Peanut Butter & Co. Their business plan might seem simple on the surface, but creating top-notch peanut butter is hardly easy. Their terrific flavors have found themselves on the shelves of Duane Reade and even pantries around the country. Essentially, their peanut butter is good–really good.

So when I received “samples” of their peanut butter in the mail, I couldn’t be more delighted. The opportunity to try ten–yes ten–of Peanut Butter & Co.’s special flavors has not only been a unique experience, but also a difficult one–ten jars of peanut butter is a lot (even for an addict like myself). Regardless, I pushed through, and gave each jar of peanut butter the attention it deserved.

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl is a great option since it already encompasses the necessary ingredients for making a top-notch sweet sandwich. Even for people who cringe at the site of raisins, there are honestly few spreads that taste better on a piece of toast than the Cinnamon Raisin Swirl.

The Heat Is On: The Heat Is On is arguably Peanut Butter & Co.’s most interesting flavor since eater’s pallets might not be used to a spicy peanut butter sandwich. However, unlike the other options on this list, The Heat Is On serves as easily the best cooking option. Since peanut butter is a main ingredient in a lot of Asian-inspired dishes, the combination of peanut butter and heat go hand-in-hand–so make sure to keep a jar of The Heat Is On in your pantry.

White Chocolate Wonderful: In a world dominated by milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate doesn’t get as much love. But anyone who knows chocolate knows that white chocolate is the sweetest of them all. The combination of peanut butter and white chocolate creates one of the smoothest and sweetest combos–so stop hating, and start consuming.

Dark Chocolate Dreams: Dark Chocolate Dreams is my favorite flavor to eat straight-up in the bunch. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is a winning mix, and each bite is reminiscent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup–or for Nutella fans out there, think of it as that spread you love with a peanut butter kick. Toast has finally met its match with Dark Chocolate Dreams.

The Bee’s Knees: With sugar, brown sugar, and all the artificials, it’s easy to forget about the best kind of sweetener–honey. Honey, in my opinion, is the most universal sweetener, so it’s no wonder it mixes with peanut butter beautifully. If not just eating this peanut butter flavor with a spoon, it is also a must for throwing into yogurt (especially Greek yogurt).

Mighty Maple: Not only is maple syrup an underrated sweetener, but it also unfortunately gets pigeonholed as a “pancakes/waffles-only” topping. Luckily for you, Peanut Butter & Co. has recognized this injustice, and created Mighty Maple, which marries smooth peanut butter and silky maple syrup. If you’re still locked-in on pancakes/waffles, at least substitute Might Maple for the regular syrup next time around.

Old Fashioned Smooth & Smooth Operator: Old Fashioned Smooth and Smooth Operator (as well as the Old Fashioned Crunchy and Crunch Time) are the only traditionally-flavored peanut butters that Peanut Butter & Co. offers–but “traditional” hardly means “boring.” The key difference between the Old Fashioned Smooth and Smooth Operator is that the latter has more ingredients than just “peanuts” and “salt.” That’s right, the Old Fashioned Smooth is about as bare bones as it gets, but there’s something in its simplicity that just makes it delicious.

Old Fashioned Crunchy & Crunch Time: Similar to above, Old Fashioned Crunchy and Crunch Time are separated by the fact that the Old Fashioned Crunchy only contains “peanuts” and “salt.” However, I also noticed that the Old Fashioned Crunchy was a heck of a lot more crunchy than Crunch Time. So if you really need that extra crunch, then opt for Old Fashioned Crunchy. In addition, if you ever make peanut butter cookies, Old Fashioned Crunchy, again, is the quintessential peanut butter to do so with (because of the ratio of crunchy to smooth).

CSNStores.com – Hamilton Beach Hand Blender (Coming Soon!)

24 Jan

Continuing with the New York City cramped kitchen theme, CSNStores.com has extended yet another lucky gift to FoodForFodder.com–this time to the tune of a $20 gift certificate to use anywhere on the site. As a reminder, CSNStores.com has over 200 online associated outlets where you can find anything you need from swingsets, to fitness equipment, or even insulated dog houses! CSNStores.com is really your one-stop destination for all your online shopping needs.

Similar to my review of the cast iron skillet, I really wanted to give readers some ideas about other useful kitchen gadgets that could really cut down on storage space and time. As I scoured the list of kitchen tools, the Hamilton Beach Turbo Twister 2 Speed Hand Blender almost popped off the screen. It is perfect for mixing cake batter, making pancake mix, creating homemade sauces and soups, or anything else that needs a good whip. Unlike bulky mixers that take up a ton of overhead storage space or can barely fit on your counter top when you need to use it, this hand blender is a slim item with multiple uses–and can actually fit in a drawer.

I am extremely excited to add the Hamilton Hand Blender to my kitchen gadgets. And of course, once I receive this generous gift from CSNStores.com, I will be sure to illustrate to you guys how helpful it has been in my cramped kitchen life.

Billy’s Bakery — Becoming a Cake Zombie

16 Nov

You’ve probably seen zombies in horror films, but its real roots are in West African voodoo. The belief behind zombies is that wicked magic takes over your body, and transforms you into a flesh-eating monster. As terrible as that sounds, there is an even stronger, and more dangerous type of zombie out there–a cake zombie.

If you’re ever within a two block radius of Billy’s Bakery, an unparalleled baked smell wafts into your nostrils, and transforms you into the above zombie. For those unfamiliar with the lore, a “cake zombie” is someone who, upon picking up the slightest baked goods scent, will become a drooling, groaning, and even violent person until they get their cake fix. I am a cake zombie through and through, and for me, Billy’s banana cake restores me to sanity.

Before you lose your cake zombie status however, you must wait on the inevitable Billy’s line. Cake zombie or not, the wait is one of the most intolerable life experiences. Red velvet cupcakes, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, and a plethora of other love handle inducers laugh at you through the glass case as your stomach twitches in pain. There have been many times when the nice folks at Billy’s have told me to “keep the groaning down.” I try, I really do.

At $4.50 per slice, you might think it’s a bit on the expensive side for a piece of cake. Despite the unsettling price tag, the slice is huge (big enough to feed any zombie), and the quality is unmatched. The cake itself is incredibly moist, and the bananas shine through each bite. The best part is the cream cheese frosting. The words buttery, thick, and creamy instantly come to mind. In a nutshell, Billy’s banana cake is pure bliss. If you don’t indulge on your basic human impulses when you’re near Billy’s, then you might just be a regular zombie.

Note: if you’re ever in line in front of me, and you order the last slice of banana cake, expect a world of pain (or just a lot of me crying).

Contact:

184 9th Ave (between 21st St & 22nd St)
(212) 647-9956

75 Franklin St (between Church St & Avenue Of The Americas)
(212) 647-9958

billysbakerynyc.com

Artichoke Basilles Pizza – Decisions, Decisions

15 Nov

New York City has long been known for their pizza. Joints like Di Fara, Grimaldi’s, and countless others have been staples in the pizza scene for years, but in 2008, Artichoke Basilles Pizza threw their hat into the ring. Since opening their East Village shop, Artichoke has evolved into a city-wide favorite, and recently, has even opened a few new locations (in Chelsea and the Greenwich Village). Unlike the traditional pizza shop, however, Artichoke Basilles Pizza only offers four slices–artichoke, margarita, Sicilian, and crab.

You’d think only offering four slices would be limiting, but to be quite honest, it has the complete opposite effect. In fact, choosing between their slices is more stressful than being a Mets fan (which I unfortunately am). For me, the insufferable question is always: “artichoke or crab?” On the one hand, the artichoke slice is a creamy artichoke and cheese dip on a slice of pizza. If I’m at a restaurant, and they have artichoke dip, it’s one of those no-brainer orders. But don’t forget about the crab slice. This luscious slice features lumps of fresh crab, and is doused in a rich crab sauce. They’re both the same price ($4.50 or $5, depending on location), so you can’t use that as a deciding factor. It just becomes a coin toss. A stressful, potentially life-changing, and super delicious coin toss.

Regardless of which slice you end up with, Artichoke Basilles Pizza will not disappoint. Even though $4.50-5 seems like a lot of pay for a slice of pizza, the slices are huge, and the ingredients are unquestionably fresh and unique to any slice you’ll get in this city. Oh, I also forgot to mention they’re open until the wee house of the morning–making Artichoke Basilles Pizza one of the best late-night food stops too.

Note: they are cash-only, so make sure to remind your drunker friend to make a visit to the ATM, and that he/she “owes you.”

Contact:
328 E 14th St (between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
(212) 228-2004

111 MacDougal St
(646) 278-6100

114 W 17th St and 10th Ave
(212) 792-9200

artichokepizza.com

CSN Stores — Review Coming Soon!!!

12 Nov

Sometimes bloggers got it good. We get to write whatever we want, have a fan or two, and sometimes, even get free stuff. I’m fortunate enough to boast about the latter today. The generous folks over at CSN Stores extended me a $35 gift certificate towards a kitchen product in order to write a review. For those unfamiliar with the online mega store that is CSN, buyers can literally find anything from sheik bathroom shelving, to a cozy space heater, to an old-fashioned hot dog roller.

As tempting as all CSN’s items are, the average New York City apartment dweller has to be overly conscious about every inch they fill. In fact, space is so tight in NYC apartments, landlords often convert standard one-bedrooms into two-bedrooms (aka “a conversion”). That got me thinking—what kitchen items are usually used in one fashion, but could also serve two purposes? Alas, it led me to the very versatile “cast iron skillet.” The cast iron skillet looks like a heavy-set stovetop frying pan, but it can also be used in a high-degree oven.

The idea of using, storing, and cleaning one less pan is reason enough to make cast iron skillets a pre-requisite for living in a typical NYC apartment.

Stay tuned my cast iron skillet review!

Press Release from Energy Kitchen

11 Nov

(courtesy of Energy Kitchen:)

Energy Kitchen ‘Heats Up’ Manhattan
Health-Oriented Fast Casual Chain Offers Fast Food Without the Guilt;

Energizes Growth with Expansion Into the Upper West Side

MANHATTAN, NY – While New York’s menu labeling laws continue to make calorie counts impossible for thousands of restaurants to hide and difficult for consumers to ignore, Energy Kitchen is helping New Yorkers realize that fast food doesn’t have to be fat food.

Having recently opened its tenth location in the New York metropolitan area and first on the Upper West Side at 142 W. 72nd Street, the Manhattan-based chain continues to offer its unique, health-centric menu featuring nothing over 500 calories to today’s savvy consumers increasingly seeking more better-for-you dining options.

“Since New York became the first city in the country to require calorie posting, New Yorkers are more aware that getting a truly healthful, quick-serve meal from an average restaurant can be a losing proposition,” said Anthony Leone, Founder and President of Energy Kitchen. “Even though we are not required to do so, we choose to share this information because we are dedicated to empowering our guests to make healthy dining choices with ease.”

Only food-service establishments that are part of a chain of 15 or more restaurants nationally are required to list calories for standard menu items on menu boards, menus or food item displays.

With a customer list that reads like a “Who’s Who” of Hollywood – including Hugh Jackman, Renee Zellweger, Penn Badgley, Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman and New York Met David Wright, among others – Energy Kitchen is introducing a new era of healthy eating with its nutritious and convenient meal choices. Providing low-calorie, low-fat, tasty eats that are good for you, Energy Kitchen invites its customers to eat healthy without sacrificing taste. Nothing on the menu is over 500 calories, everything is grilled, baked or steamed, and full-calorie sodas aren’t even an option.

“There’s no temptation in our restaurants – you can only make smart choices,” Leone added. “Our healthy, delicious meals are proof that fast food can be enjoyed without the guilt.”

Energy Kitchen caters to the on-the-go consumer, serving healthy and tasty burgers and wraps such as the Sirloin Steakhouse Burger (395 calories), a 93 percent lean Piedmontese ground sirloin patty, topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions and steak sauce on a whole wheat bun, and the California Wrap (370 calories) which combines hummus, hand-made guacamole, roasted red peppers and cucumbers inside a whole wheat wrap, among others. The brand pairs meals with a varied list of nutritional sides, including steamed garden vegetables, baked homestyle potatoes and grilled asparagus salad, and also offers smoothies, salads, full entrees and healthy snacks.

The new Upper West Side restaurant is owned and operated by Duane Harden, who also owns the area development rights for two additional locations. Harden is also targeting the Upper West Side for a second location, as well as downtown Brooklyn for his third.

“There are numerous restaurants in the area that claim to offer low-calorie meals to customers, but none of those come close to what we offer,” Harden said. “I couldn’t be more excited about bringing Energy Kitchen and the healthy lifestyle it represents to the Upper West Side.”


To further strengthen the company’s footprint in the healthy, fast-casual dining industry, Energy Kitchen is looking to open a total of 35 additional restaurants throughout Greater New York in the next 4-5 years.

About Energy Kitchen

Founded by Anthony Leone and Randy Schechter in 2004, Manhattan-based Energy Kitchen is a healthy, fast-casual restaurant that provides nutritious and convenient meal choices by offering low-calorie, low-fat, wraps, salads, burgers and smoothies. Everything on the menu is 500 calories or less and is grilled, baked or steamed, never fried, and cooked to order. Behind the strength of a 2008 investment partnership with Mike Repole, the co-founder of Vitaminwater which sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion, Energy Kitchen has already grown the concept to 10 restaurants throughout the greater New York metropolitan area and recently launched a national expansion plan calling for 1,000 locations in the next 10 years. For more information visit www.energykitchen.com, become a Facebook fan at http://www.facebook.com/energykitchen or follow the health-centric concept on Twitter @Energy_Kitchen.

Punjabi Tadka — Not All Natives Have High Food Standards

10 Nov

After dabbling in Bombay Talkie’s take on “Indian street food,” I felt it was time to get back to authentic Indian cuisine. Most people are aware that if you want good Indian food in New York City, trekking out to Queens is your best bet. However, trekking out to Queens means you have to trek out to Queens. Not exactly an ideal situation–especially if it’s lunch and you work for a living.

Then Punjabi Tadka presented itself. Certainly not a flashy exterior or interior, but more importantly, I’ve often seen a lot of Indian cabbies parked outside the joint. “Finally, an authentic Indian spot,” I happily thought to myself. The rule of thumb to ethnic eating is usually: “if they’re a lot of natives eating there, then it must be good.” However, that was not the case at Punjabi Tadka.

As I looked down the menu list, the cashier suggested I partake in the lunch buffet. For $7, it entitles you to a plate of rice, saag paneer, chicken tikki masala, cauliflower vindaloo, and chicken drumsticks in a mild spice rub. I loaded up my plate (minus the saag paneer), and purchased a mango lassi to make it an even $10 (the minimum for credit cards). I asked the cashier for naan, but alas, they were fresh out (damn cabbies!).

When I opened my plate full of Indian food, that recognizable smell wafted through my nostrils (and probably the nostrils of my co-workers too). I started to dig in, but was instantly disappointed. The chicken was anti-thesis of moist, and just crumbled apart when I picked at it. The cauliflower was significantly overcooked, and the vindaloo would have made my grandmother turn in her grave (not that she was Indian and I’m pretty sure she didn’t like Indian food). The chicken drumsticks were bland and fatty. And lastly, the rice, like the cauliflower, was overcooked–but to the point of mere mush. The only saving grace was the mango lassi–it was a perfect, thick mixture of mango and yogurt.

The lesson in my experience at Punjabi Tadka is that you can’t always rely on who’s sitting in the restaurant. It’s often easy to resort to stereotypical foodie tips, but in most cases, the food will speak for itself.

Contact:
688 10th Ave (between 48th St & 49th St)
(212) 956-0185
punjabitadkany.com

Public — A Michelin Star Not Reserved for the Private Few

9 Nov

What does Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, and Public all have in common? If you guessed “winning a Michelin Star,” you’d be correct. However, unlike Gramercy Tavern or Bouley, Public serves brunch–and for very un-Michelin Star prices ($9-14).

As its name suggests, Public is not only open to the public, but also has a public library theme. So if the Dewey Decimal system tickles your fancy, then this restaurant will be right up your alley. Also, unlike other prize-winning eateries who enjoy making its prospective patrons suffer, the waiting process at Public is actually enjoyable. Public offers a bottom-less glass of their drink-du-jour–so depending on the weather, you could be sipping on anything from a refreshing pomegranate ice tea to a body-warming spiced apple cider.

As nice as the free drinks are, the food is the real prize. Public’s menu is filled with interesting options that press all the right culinary buttons. From the menu alone, it’s pretty obvious chef Brad Farmerie (Iron Chef Kitchen winner, and 2009 Next Iron Chef competitor) has a unique knack and feel for great ingredient combinations.

Of all the offerings, the coconut pancakes (with fresh ricotta, mango salad, and ginger-lie syrup) and the ginger spiced lychee french toast (with lemongrass dark palm caramel and pomegranate mascarpone) particularly stood out to me. As the waiter approached, I felt like MacGyver deciding between cutting the red or the green wire. “Is there anyway to try both,” I asked myself. There wasn’t. My eating mate was set on ordering the fry-up (two eggs poached, scrambled or fried on sourdough toast with slow roast tomatoes and buttered mushrooms). I hesitantly opted for the the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but thought to myself, “I will come back for the coconut pancakes.”

When the food arrived, I barely let the plate hit the table before diving in (well, after a quick picture, of course). About four wonderfully pleasing bites into the meal, I realized something odd–it didn’t taste nor look much like ginger spiced lychee french toast. In fact, there was no lychees or french toast on the plate. I concluded it was not the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but instead, the coconut pancakes! “Did the waiter read my mind,” I asked my now grinning self. Usually in situations where the waiter messes up the order, it would be automatic points off–however, since I desperately wanted to try both dishes, it was an absolute pleasure to inform the apologetic waiter of his mistake.

So away went the coconut pancakes, and in its place came the ginger spiced lychee french toast. The joke was a bit on me though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the now-gone coconut pancakes more. I found the lychees to have a canned-taste to them and the pomegranate mascarpone to be extremely overwhelming. The french toast was well made, but I felt the dish as a whole was scattered. In my opinion, the real brunch winner was actually the fry-up.

The ginger spiced lychee french toast aside, my Public experience was a great one–the ingredients were impressive, the dishes had a ton of care put into them, and the talent in the kitchen was unquestionable.

Contact:
210 Elizabeth St (between Spring St & Prince St)
(212) 343-7011
public-nyc.com

The “Real Bar” — Really Good

1 Nov

One of the weakest sectors of the food industry is the “energy bar.” More times than not, your average energy bar lacks the taste a true foodie craves, and is ironically more unhealthy than foods a nutritionally-conscious person tries to stir away from. Doesn’t it just make sense to create an energy bar that tastes good and is healthy? Enter the “Real Bar.”

Created by John and Gigi Marsh, a chef and exercise specialist, respectively, the couple has fused together their health knowledge into a delicious, organic, and healthy alternative to frankly any other energy bar on the market. The key to the “Real Bar” is the organic ingredients. The bar boasts organic dark chocolate, coconut, soaked nuts and seeds, pomegranate, and whey protein. Unlike energy bar staples like Clif Bar and Power Bar, the Real Bar is on average half the carbs and sugar, and doesn’t disappoint eaters with empty-flavor promises (i.e. Clif Bar’s “carrot cake”).

The “Real Bar” also extends different options to a variety of diets. Aside from the standard “Real Bar,” it also comes in soy free and vegan-friendly variations. In addition, for those people who need a slightly bigger burst, the “Real Bar Sport” provides an additional .5 oz of energy goodness.

It’s not as mainstream yet as the usual suspects, but you can either order the “Real Bar” online here, or drop by Westerly Market on 54th and 8th and Strickley Bicycle in Fort Lee, NJ to pick up your much-needed energy kick.

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