Category Archives: Food

A Bit of Brooklyn to Bite into

In the mystical land of Brooklyn, there lie many foreign and exotic kinds of food and drink. These delicacies are sought after by the bravest of adventurers for one does not simply walk into Brooklyn. The land is separated by a vast uncharted sea and populated by Brooklnites, a strange tribe of people who have great influence on what is fashionable in the civilized world. For those who manage to make a successful voyage to Brooklyn unharmed, its treasures are there for the taking. For those who can’t brave the journey, there is The Brooklyneer.

All joking aside, it’s more than just a little bit silly to make bar themed after another borough, especially one that can be reached within 30 minutes using the subway. The Brooklyneer, located on 220 West Houston St, is a Brooklyn themed bar. In many ways, the place feels like it might be something you’d find in the Universal Studios theme park. However, once you get past the gimmicky nature of the place, there lays a pretty decent place to chill. The interior design is interesting. It is reminiscent of some of the many chic bars you’d find in Williamsburg and they went so far as to even use some of the wood that is from the Coney Island boardwalk.

Depending on the night you go, you could either be listening to a DJ playing club hits or listening to very relaxing smooth music. The first time I visited The Brooklyneer, I was dismayed because the kitchen was closed at the time. Between 1 and 4am the chefs get off of work and the place becomes a full-fledged bar complete with singles trying to hook up. The two chicks I was with pointed out that although the music supported dancing, the space did not and I agreed. The cozy space was not meant for partying à la Ke$ha, however, this was the Saturday night crowd and I suppose they were trying to accommodate for that.

I came back the next night, a Sunday night. Now the atmosphere had changed quite a bit. Things were slow and low key. It was so slow in fact that the bartender, Dylan was happy to personally serve me. Dylan with his French mustache and interesting attire had the appearance of a Williamsburg hipster. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a job requirement or if he dressed like he did all the time.

Welcome to Brooklyn

For my first course, I ordered the Sunset Park sliders. My tongue was first greeted by fresh, oven toasted bread that was warm and soft. As I bit deeper, the tender, moist pulled pork and ham said hello in the juiciest way imaginable. The warm melted gruyere arrived between my tongue and the meats and gave everyone a nice big group hug. Then the spicy mayo showed up and lit its fireworks inside my mouth turning up the heat quite a bit. I finished it off with the crisp cucumber slice that the sliders come with. It was simple and fresh and although it did take a while to arrive at my table after I ordered it, it was well worth the wait.

The Sunset Park slider

I had to make sure that the quality was consistent across the menu so after finishing the sliders, I ordered a chili dog which just happened to also be the special that night. Like before, the order took a bit of time to arrive and like before, the bread was fresh, soft, oven toasted and the veggies were so green, you’d think they had a garden in the back. This time around the meat was a different kind of animal literally and figuratively, they use oven-toasted Mile-End all beef hotdogs. While some dogs can only play dead, what I bit into knew more tricks than there are sex positions in the Kama Sutra.

The Chili Dog

To drink, I ordered the house lager, named The Brooklyneer. It’s the cheapest drink on the menu and for an interesting reason, it’s brewed in Pennsylvania. Unlike the food, the drink isn’t anything special. It isn’t terrible by any means but it also doesn’t stand out. If you just want to have something to wash your food down and get a bit tipsy at the same time, it does the job well enough. Connoisseurs of alcoholic beverages most likely will order many of the other quality drinks on the menu though.

The Brooklyneer is a nice little spot for those who are too lazy to travel across Brooklyn to find the best eats. Though the theme is a gimmick, the food and friendly service are not.

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 5 Comments

The Only Good Thing About Amber Is Just The Name

For many years, I had always told my friends how much I hated to experiment with new

Chicken -Pineapple: Amber style

foods. When I would get hungry, I liked to eat foods I knew and I enjoyed. It really bothered me when I would buy food I had never eaten before and I ended up hating it. As i grew older, such ideas started to disappear and I decided to give different foods a chance. To my surprise, I started discovering new delicious and very tsaty foods. Now, it’s one of my various hobbies.

It goes without saying, there are times where i really don’t like the food or the service for that matter. Amber Sushi Bar, located on 27th street and 3rd. Avenue, would be a great example of what terrible service looks like.

When I first entered, the first thing I noticed was the bar on the first floor. It took almost half the space of the first floor. Nevertheless, it looked tempting and inviting. The decorations give the restaurant a cultural and traditional, yet modern look and feel. Upstairs, things take a complete turn down.

The space is more limitted in the second floor, forcing the management of the restaurant to decide on a horrific seating arragement. The tables are arranged by rows, one after the other, with only few inches of space beatween each table. When I was directed to my table, where my friends had been waiting for me, as I was sitting down, my backside ended up in the face of an unfortunate customer sitting in the table next to ours. It was, I have to admit, an embarrasing moment.

I waited 15 minutes before I finally got a menu from the waitress and another 15 minutes for her to come back to take my order. We were given a choice between soup and salad. I opted for the salad. I got my main dish before the salad, and I had to let the waitress know she had forgotten to bring, not only my salad but my friends’ as well.

As far as the food goes, what can I tell you? It was average. It was not extremely good, and it did not make me feel like it was the best food I had ever eaten. But it was not too horrific either. I had a Pineapple Chicken dish that tasted very similar to the ones I have tried at some other restaurants. It was missing something. I wanted the dish to have something different to make such a typical  dish a unique one, but unfortunately, it wasn’t there. I can only say this: I would not go back to Amber as long as it is my choice.

Posted in restaurant reviews | 3 Comments

A Feeling of Home With A Twist

 David Burke Townhouse has been described in an array of word choices; whimsical, playful, elegant and even visionary, yet to my father Massimo Rossi, a devoted captain at the restaurant for the past seven years, his favorite adjective used to describe this four-star restaurant is simply “interesting.”

True, it is possible that Rossi has become jaded by the individualistic style choices made by David Burke on this unique restaurant, but he continuously gives credit where credit is due by insisting that Burke is his most favorite chef. “The innovative style that David uses in his food ideas is really mesmerizing,” Rossi begins “The cuisine choices that David makes really represent his personality, which is rather extravagant.”

Interior of David Burke Townhouse

The restaurant, located in an actual townhouse, provides a home like comfort while still remaining ornamental and focused on detail. Rossi says that the restaurant can relate to a broad variety of customers because the food itself is “accommodating to all tastes.” Rossi’s favorite meal is the cavatelli with shortribs. This platter consists of mushrooms, truffle mousse of course all over braised short rib. Rossi says the short rib is never short of “perfect”, always being tender, hearty and satisfying.

The Catavelli with Braised Short Ribs

 One perk of visiting my father at work is to be reunited with my favorite dish, the Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

It is one of the treats that the restaurant is most famous for. Each lollipop is elevated on a stand and when eaten enriches ones mouth with a different flavor, whether it be chocolate crunch cheesecake or regular with strawberry creme on top, each flavor is sure to please. To add to the creativity behind this dessert, The tree also comes with bubble gum whip cream. The Cheesecake Lollipop Tree was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network.

The Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

One cannot help but be mesmerized at Burke’s decorative, original and delicious creations while also being captivated by the modern art shown throughout the restaurant. The pieces he selects to be shown bring about a discreet yet glamorous aura to ones dining experience. One collection of drawings Burke has showcased is called The Key to the Kingdom created by Tony Meeuwissen. The drawings are fantastical and bring a artistic ambiance to the Townhouse that make it more like a gallery that happens to have amazing food. The balance between art and cuisine is shared perfectly in David Burke Townhouse.

Interior to David Burke Townhouse

Burke also combines his interests in cooking and art while remaining a true entrepreneur and inventor. David Burke Townhouse has been critically acclaimed. It won New York magazine’s Critics’ Pick, A 24 food rating (meaning very good to excellent) from Zagat 2011 Edition, and Time Out New York’s Critic’s Pick. “At this theatrical little restaurant … it’s a pleasure to watch the restaurant’s staid Upper East Side clientele gawk at Burke’s decorative and generally delicious creations as they go by.” Said New York magazine and Time Out New York commented “David Burke, the culinary merry prankster that knows how to cook.”

David Burke has made himself one of the leading pioneers in American cooking. He grew up in Hazlet, New Jersey and has always been inspired by French chefs and their techniques. He has a fascination with the power that individual ingredients have over the entire meal and the components he puts into his meals to turn them into works of art. Burke has a career fueled by creativity that provides him to have revolutionary products and cooking techniques. He has been featured on Iron Chef America and has opened seven restaurants throughout America.

Winning numerous awards for his culinary skills, it is understandable why David Burke is considered one of the best modern American chefs by one glance at his menus. Ranging from pretzel crusted crab cakes to tuna burgers with lemon French fries and spicy mayonnaise show how avant garde Burke can get with his meal choices.

Massimo Rossi has had prior experience as a captain at Le Cirque 2000 when it was at the Palace Hotel. With these duties, it is Rossi’s responsibility to not only direct but to supervise and train the fellow servers in the restaurant. He monitors their work habits in the dining room while handling the seating arrangements for the guests. He will at times serve tables to which he suggests food courses and appropriate wines to ensure that the guest has an amazing dining experience.
Rossi always knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business. He left his small hometown in Italy and went to the Culinary school in Switzerland when he was 16. Since then on he has worked on world-wide cruise liners and top of the line restaurants but claims that working for Burke has been one of his favorite experiences “I have really watched the restaurant grow and develop into this amazingly elegant yet casual restaurant that is nothing like anything else around. I also think its great how accommodating the food is to every palate, it makes me feel good that what I have invested my life in what can make a lot of people happy.”

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 4 Comments

Petite Abeille is worth another date

I was fully prepared to stuff my face that late Sunday morning, and as I headed to the Belgium restaurant Petite Abeille, the anticipation mixed with hunger pains made me wish for the conductor of the Brooklyn-bound L train to go express.“This place better be good,” I thought to myself. After getting off the train and walking a few too many blocks because I got lost, I was there before I knew it.

“Yeah, its the place with the blue awning; next to the Mexican place,” said my classmate Jerrica over the phone. There, on 401, East 20th Street, plainly stood Petite Abeille, an establishment much like the seemingly perfect guy, who is handsome with a great personality and a good job. You’re almost certain he is the one until you discover “the flaw”, whether it be that he’s too much of a momma’s boy or has bad credit.

The restaurant’s name translates into “Little Bee” and is also the name of a Belgium children’s book that was popular in the 1970s.

The chalk boards and the shelf of children books toward the back suddenly made sense upon finding out this information. Clearly a family place, the atmosphere created a warm feeling like cherry pie, which I couldn’t help but think about considering the picnic-like blue and while plastic table cloths that invoke images of the fourth of July and all things American.

Red was subtlety consistent throughout from the painting of a red dragon that greets customers, to the candle holders, to the red wood chairs at each table and by the bar, to the Bloody Mary’s I coveted as they were sipped by a group of friends.

The serene yellow walls with white trim conjured up a mental portrait of a field of daisies on lightly windy spring day. The color scheme, along with the round modern light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, got lost in busy chatter during brunch

The atmosphere was as mildly exotic as the fusion of flavors of the Crocottte ($13), found in the breakfast, brunch and lunch menus in the eggs category. It is sure to break the monotony of the typical breakfast that consists of fried eggs, toast and bacon.

A delightful layered combination of eggs, tomato, pork bacon, and salty yet bitter goat cheese, it was concealed beneath pungent Gruyere cheese, in the same manner it would overlay a French onion soup. The crisp edges rendered a delightful treat circling the center’s chewy consistency.

Compared to the milky-tasting mashed potatoes, which resembled a round scoop of icecream and had an occasional lump that added character, it was a guilty pleasure, however, the spinach leaves, lightly covered in oil and vinegar, fooled me into thinking I was being nutritious.

I let it ease my conscious as I washed it all down with a Mimosa ($7), which was on the strong side. Considering the delightfully bitter taste, it was certainly not your Tropicana or Nature’s Best orange juice.

On the other spectrum of great food was the Vol au Vent ($17), the chicken stew with bacon and mushroom, which could be found on the brunch, lunch and dinner menus. Covered in an off-white gravy, mushrooms and pearl onions, and missing the bacon that it advertised, the only thing this bland chicken had to offer was tenderness. The two burnt croissant-like breads underneath it all just added to the frustration.

At least I had my side order of Belgium fries to drown in ketchup and enjoy. Not! The fries lacked the anticipated crisp exterior and soft steamy interior that would have easily been achieved by most fast food restaurants.

But just like the low credit score-having momma’s boy, sometimes the redeeming qualities can stand on their own if they’re just that good. Only by being open-minded and going on another date can you learn more about what Petite Abeille has to offer.

Posted in restaurant reviews | 3 Comments

Alias Restaurant Behind the Red Walls

Clinton Street in the Lower East Side tends to be a little scary at first glance, due to the unnecessary clutter of four nail salons and two beauty parlors at the head of the block, but once you get to the corner of Rivington Street, you’ll hit Alias, one of the infamous restaurants located on Clinton.

Alias's Walls

While NYC & Company’s Annual Report showed that there were 23,499 active restaurants in New York City in the past year, few of those restaurants are as eye-catching as Alias. The bright red walls on the restaurant’s exterior were painted by Emily Noelle Lambert and her Foundation students from Parsons The New School for Design as their class’s final assignment. The animals, people, figures and shapes featured on the walls have customers curious and enticed before even entering the restaurant.

After almost ten years, Alias has become extremely involved in its community. It has raised money for several organizations, including the Unicef Tapwater Project and the Grand Street Settlement, but most recently, the restaurant hosted its Annual Charity Eggnite Eggstravaganza. The event included egg painting competitions with prizes, free food and free drinks. The proceeds this year were donated to Mark DeGarmo & Dancers’ programs in literacy, dance and creativity in local LES schools.

“We definitely support all schools and local charities,” says owner Janet Nelson, who is also a Lower East Side resident. “I think every business owner should definitely be involved in the neighborhood and supporting it, especially since I’m also a neighbor.”

Nelson has had plenty of experience in the business after owning several restaurants, including 71 Clinton Fresh Food, but it took a lot of hard work to get to where she is today. “I started at the very bottom, which is the way a lot of people start in the business,” she says. “I was a buffer, then a waiter and then I went to doing office work and financial work. There was never cooking for me. I never made it into the kitchen, except to wash dishes.”

While Nelson is extremely dedicated to Alias, she accredits much of the restaurant’s success to her staff and the other owners, one of which is her sister, Marybeth Nelson. “We’re a small restaurant, but the people who own it and run it, we’re all a family,” says Nelson.

Customers agree that a large part of the restaurant’s appeal is the environment created by its staff. They are not the typical behind-the-counter staff that serves you your food and disappears until it’s time to bring you the check. They are friendly and attentive to the needs of their customers. “They always walk around and converse with people,” says Sunita Lofters, frequent customer and owner of Sunita Bar in the Lower East Side. “It’s important as an owner to have that connection with your customers. The more they get to know you, the more they want to come back.”

To show its appreciation to the community that has made it so popular, Alias now offers a 10% discount to customers who live or work in the area. Aside from the discount, residents are drawn to the restaurant because of its unique menu.

Duck Leg Confit

Seared Hanger Steak

The Duck Leg Confit was the appetizer that appealed to me the most, despite ordinarily being a chicken and turkey eater. The duck, which was slightly crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside, had a wonderful texture and easily fell apart in my mouth. It was served with dirty rice, caramelized onion and apple chutney, giving it a sweet and tangy taste.

The Seared Hanger Steak entrée was prepared with blue cheese butter, sherry glazed onions and olive oil crushed potatoes. The blue cheese provided a delicious kick, but wasn’t so overpowering that you lost the flavor of the meat, which was tender and perfectly cooked.

Chocolate Guinness Goodness

The desserts are all exquisite, but the infamous Chocolate Guinness Goodness is a staff favorite. The chocolate mousse is topped with a Guinness-flavored cream and the bitter addition is a refreshing change from the traditionally too sweet chocolate mousse.

With such a distinctive menu, it’s no surprise that the restaurant is a favorite in the Lower East Side, but with dishes that change seasonally, how do they ensure each one will “step up to the plate?” Nelson insists their secret is in the ingredients.

“We try to use local ingredients,” she says. “We go to the Farmers Market and use a lot of fresh and organic foods. We’re also part of the Slow Food Movement now.”  In the spring and summer, the menu changes more frequently, due to the exciting produce that emerges during these seasons. As the warm weather approaches, Nelson recommends that customers try her favorite dish, the Asparagus soup. “The soup is for spring and it’s fresh.”

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Divya Gugnani Proves the Ancient Belief That Sexy Women DO Eat.

Jars of Kusmi tea. Half-full bottles of Hypnotiq. A pipe that serves as a makeshift closet. Books with titles like “Farm Food” and “New American Table” perch atop shelves that appear ready to topple under the weight. Framed covers of the Wall Street Journal and promotional pictures sit atop a file cabinet, waiting to be hung. No, this is not the well-stocked kitchen of a Michelin-star rated restauranteur — rather, it’s the office (and bedroom, living room, and dining room) of Divya Gugnani, author of Sexy Women Eat: Secrets to Eating What You Want and Still Looking Fabulous and CEO of Behind the Burner.

CEO and acclaimed author aren’t the only two things on Gugnani’s resume. In addition, she was also an employee of Goldman Sachs, voted a 2010 Game Changer by The New York Enterprise Report, and received an award as one of the Top 50 Outstanding Asian Americans in business. She’s also on the Board of Directors for New York Entrepreneur Week — and she’s not even 35! With an MBA from Harvard and a degree from the French Culinary Institute, Gugnani has a portfolio to make any Wall Street-er jealous. However, she did find her one true calling, and it wasn’t cash-flow analysis or checks and balances — rather, it was her love for food.

“I reached this point when I couldn’t stop thinking about food,” says Gugnani, “I knew I wanted to start a business where I could share my best tips, tricks and recipes for food, wine, mixology and nutrition, and put them in bite-size videos, blogs, articles, recipes…and then, I just started doing it.”

Gugnani didn’t leave her full-time job just yet, however. Rather, while working at FirstMark Capital, she began to compose recipes and blog posts and putting them up on Behind the Burner, along with interviews with world-renowned chefs and behind-the-scenes looks of some of Manhattan’s most famous restaurants. Eventually, NBC got a whiff of Gugnani’s culinary website, and reached out to her to film a segment — and, as Gugnani proudly puts it, BTB “has been running ever since.”

It didn’t end there. In 2008, Gugnani was approached by Harper Collins, and initially, she pitched an idea for a book about her favorite recipes and tips and tricks for the kitchen. However, her editor had better plans, and instead, suggested that she write a book about her life.

“I said ‘this is crazy, I don’t want to write a book about myself!’” Gugnani exclaims with a laugh, “and then she said to try out a few sample chapters, and I just sat down at home at night and I wrote a couple chapters and my editor liked them and I sat down on my parents’ kitchen table — which was the perfect place for inspiration because snacks were nearby — and then I just wrote it, wrote it in two and a half weeks.”

The inspiration from her parent’s kitchen table was always a place dear to her heart. As a child, Gugnani fondly remembers coming from a “food-loving family” and having a grandmother that cooked day and night and two fully-stocked refrigerators that would sometimes get so filled up that the leftover food would have to be stored in the trunk of the car.

Divya herself!

“We’d wake up in the morning and at breakfast, we’d talk about lunch; at lunch we’d talk about dinner, and at night we’d marinate our minds and get up the next morning and start the process all over again.”

With a childhood that embraced a love for all things delicious, and a future that only gleams brighter, what are some tips that Gugnani can offer on living a healthy and fabulous lifestyle?

“It’s important to have a positive relationship with food, and if you have a craving and you just really want it — it’s okay to have it!”

Posted in Food | 3 Comments

A Search for Imaginary Food

At 5:30 pm, in the pattering drizzle of the approaching month of April, a crowd emerges from the subway at West 4th Street rumbling like a train onto Avenue of the Americas. Among them are residents of the area, those who have come for the films at IFC, and the happy-hour-day drinkers that gather around downtown for “thirsty Thursday”. A group of 30 people linger on the sidewalk, spread out between Golden Swan Garden’s short black fence and “the Cage.” Some are standing alone, checking BBM’s or playing on their Nintendo DS 3Ds, while others are paired off, but there is something uniting this diverse mix of adults. On March 31st, a food truck would bring in food from Pentos, a fictional land from the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series by George R.R. Martin, and these fans are hoping to be the first to get a taste.

If the books don’t sound familiar, “A Game of Thrones,” might. It is the name of the first book of the series, but moreover, the newest show in the HBO lineup set to premiere on April 17th. Since the announcement of the show, Martin’s book sales are approaching triple digit growth in year-to-year sales, according to “Thrones Tomes Selling Big” in Variety. In the United States alone the books have reportedly sold 4.5 million copies, according to the publisher, Bantam books, in the article.

The promotional food trucks were, in the tradition of an Easter, set up as a scavenger hunt. The rules were simple: check the “Game of Thrones” Facebook or Twitter page between March 28th and April 1st, show up to the destination by 6:00pm, find the cart, and be among the first 300 in line. The location of the trucks and the food varied daily from Astor Place on Tuesday, where “The Riverlands” green goodness came to life, to Lincoln Center on Wednesday, where food from “The Wall” could be sampled.

By 6:30 pm on Thursday, the Pentos truck had yet to arrive at West 4th. The HBO crew, identifiable only by their “Game of Thrones” t-shirts, had already ushered the masses, now numbering in the hundreds, into a four-person-wide line that wrapped around the corner of the garden.  The grumbling was almost audible by the time the truck arrived, and talk of the week’s meals started simultaneously among the crowd.

“Of the three that I’ve tried, my favorite dish has to be the squab,” said Kat Baek, a sophomore at Baruch College, now on her third hunt for the cart. “The lemon cakes were served every day [but] the taste never got old,” she added, taking refuge underneath a Burberry patterned umbrella.

When the black truck was parked, the day’s menu was handed out. The more hardcore fans on the line attempted to decode the puzzle embedded in it. “Apples to oranges,” announced a crew member.

“It means you have to fold the apples to oranges in the menu to find the hidden message,” said Joseph DeSimone, an avid fan of the series and Senior at Baruch College. “I’m not even going to try,” DeSimone added, worn from the hour long wait in the rain.

The first dish was the spice roasted duck with dates, buttered turnips, cabbage and juniper. The second option was the Lamb Flatbread with chickpeas and purple olives. As usual, the dishes were to be accompanied by the “famous” lemon cakes. The books themselves are refered to as “tomes” for good reason, as they are detailed accounts of this fictional world, even when describing the meals.

“In the book they talk about this buttered cabbage and turnip dish,” said the meals architect Tom Colicchio (Top Chef)in an interview for the ‘Thrones’ Facebook page. “Pentos is an area more east, sort of a lot of spices are there, and so I want to use a lot of spices,” added Colicchio. This was evident in the duck, which mixed coriander, fennel seed, red/white/black pepper, and cardamom in its spice sauce to awaken the taste buds. The lamb flatbread was just as full of flavor. The thin piece of flatbread was surprisingly not brittle but more suprising was how well cooked the shredded lamb was in a food truck. The combination of its spices mixed the coolness of the chickpeas and the tartness of the olives gave the dish a perfect balance.

“I wish there was a permanent one,” commented Baek, referring to the food truck as she enjoyed her free lemon cake in the shelter of the subway.

Posted in Food | 2 Comments

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria: Family-owned with orginal pies!

Fresh mozzarella cheese over a rich, bittersweet and hearty tomato sauce on a crispy but soft, smoky crust are the reasons why the pizza at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria are insanely delicious and always satisfying. Fortunately for loyal pizza-lovers, the famous restaurant has finally set up a shop at a closer, new location in the recently renovated Limelight Marketplace on Sixth Avenue.

 Despite numerous delays, the restaurant’s staff finalized the preparations and quickly conducted their official grand opening in February. With years of family-owned tradition, service, and dining, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has become recognized for making “the pizza that made the Brooklyn Bridge famous,” and has since expanded throughout the United States. The renowned menu offers several types of pizza with an assortment of savory toppings, hearty calzones, and a few house salads. Drinks vary from an assortment of non-alcoholic beverages and a list of select beers and wine.

Grimaldi’s Sixth Avenue location has a casual, family-style setting with an undeniably welcoming atmosphere that accents the brimming Limelight Marketplace that is full of colorful and enticing shops. After just three weeks at the new location, the line of customers has grown consistently. The wait time for dining-in varies from 20 minutes to over an hour, but customers can save time by opting to order a pie to-go instead. Taking the meal to go doesn’t take away from the experience at all. It’s still great pizza no matter where you eat it.

Grimaldi’s has sustained their customary tradition of serving pizza by the pie, no exception. So, for those interested in a single slice, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to place an order for their small original pizza, a serving size of three. The small pie is cut in six large portion slices that can satisfy most hungry pizza contenders.

Filled with a layer of fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce, then topped with basil and olive oil, one bite is enough to convince a single patron to happily devour the rest of the cheese pizza. The counter attendant was quick to provide me with suggestions, recommending this pie, he says “It’ a popular item on the menu and it’s the best. No toppings are needed”. I took is word for it and came back 15 minutes later for my take-out order.   

The thin crust is crisp with a nice, dough-like middle. With a combination of fresh, salty mozzarella and Grimaldi’s addictive rich sauce, this might be the best pizza a patron could ever have. Each bite is savory and sweet, made complete by the undeniable, smoky flavor from the oven, which places this pizza over the top. Truly, you haven’t experienced a grand, well-made slice of pizza until you visited Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

Initially, loyal customers may have sought out this place for the hype surrounding it as a result form the oncoming press streaming from exposure on food network and in print publications. However, they became satisfied and amazed by their well-made original pies and consistently keep coming back. “It’s a great place to come with a group of friends, the pie here is one of my favorites in the city,” said nearby patron.        

Furthermore, now that the traveling time from Brooklyn is cut in half, there are abundant chances for Baruch students and pizza fans to stop by to indulge in a pan of Grimaldi’s famous pies. With their signature coal-brick oven style, inviting atmosphere and swift service, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is a great family-run restaurant that gets your fix of mouth-watering pizza.

Posted in Food | 3 Comments

Green Market, The Buzz of Union Square

At midday, an old, somewhat untamed looking man, with rough, long gray facial hair, wearing worn out dark blue slacks and a graying shirt, worked his way to the Eve Cidery Farm stand, to sample three different ciders being displayed. “I’ve been coming to these markets for 6 years, and every year it gets better and better,” said the man after he hurriedly swallowed all three samples, barely having any time to examine the variety in taste of dry and sweet flavors. As Ezra Sherman, part owner of the Cidery Farm gazed at the man in some disgust and humor; the old man finished, wiped his lips with his handkerchief, and walked off saying, “Thank you kindly,” from a distance.

The streets of Union Square were packed with shoppers, tourists, sellers and spectators of all sorts, despite the chilly weather conditions, curious about the green markets. Each owner or helper, managing a farmers stand, stood resilient against the cold winds, prepared with wool coats, thick sweaters and layers of clothes, as they sold goods, answered questions and engaged in friendly conversation. The managers of the Union Square Market were nowhere to be found, all of them preoccupied with the heavy activity taking place.

“I’m looking for a green market manager to interview,” said a Baruch High School student, working on a class project. “I couldn’t even begin to tell you guys where to start, just check for anyone wearing a staff hood,” the representative replied, walking back into the GrowNYC truck. The green market initiative has taken place since 1976, beginning with only 12 farmers on the parking lot of 59th street and 2nd avenue. Through numerous years, the primary initiative of the green markets has been to sell their large variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, breads and wines, to consumers, restaurants, and others interested in quality goods.

There are 54 markets in New York and over 230 participating farmers. The markets accept a variety of payments, EBT being one method, allowing not only those willing to pay high prices for fresh goods, but also to help those less fortunate also have the privilege of experiencing all that the markets have to offer.

“We have something for every one, at the green markets,” said Larion Bates, a helper at one of the meat stands. “Whether you’re vegetarian, or not we have some of the best stuff around, I mean no one takes the time to produce goods with the care we do,” he continued.

The many stands, each had an abundance of goods, but what was more interesting was the fact that nearly every stand sold something different from the next. “There isn’t much competition selling at the green markets, because the managers pay close attention to who’s selling pork, beef, vegetables, etc,” said Andrea Carvalho, part owner of Nature’s Healing Farm. “I participated in the markets with my husband for over 30 years,” she continued as she dashed to customers, greeting and answer questions on growing and maintaining certain plants to the differences between Perrennials and Tenders.

“I grow well over 10,000 kinds of plants, some have over 30 variations,” she said excited after selling some newly grown Tulips and herbs to an older customer.

The farmers’ faces lit with welcoming expressions, as customers frolicked to their stands, whether they were making purchases or simply asking questions or indulging a little conversation. It seemed almost as if the highlight of their days for curious customers to wander under their tents.

“It’s not a nuisance selling at the green market, it’s actually kind of interesting for us just as it is for customers,” said O’ Reilly, a worker at the Flying Pig Farm stand, where they sell high-end pork. Rare heritage breed of Large Blacks, Gloucestershire Old Spots, and Tamworths are grown under the Flying Pigs Farm, as their niche in the meat market. “The difference between our pigs and others you normally see in stores are basically, the texture and flavor of the pork meat being more moist under these special breeds.

Every beginning of the week in the night hours of about 6 to 7pm, O’Reilly and his partner pack there medium size truck with 2,000 to 4,000 lbs. of pork and begin their travel from the quiet, small town of Sushan in New York, making a five-hour long trip to the city. After a few hours of rest at one the cheap Manhattan hotels, they wake and head for Union Square to set up by 7am, when they begin selling the $12-$20 variety of meats.

“It may be grueling work for many of us to pack and ship our goods over long distance to the city every week, but often times when you finally get to the city, it’s like a sigh of relief, since often times you don’t have to worry about traveling back home until the end of the week to do it all over again,” O’ Reilly said with a sigh. “Hey, at least we get to go for drinks after the long days, that usually keeps us going,” he continued before finalizing a $20 sale for a pack of 12 pork sausages.

Posted in Food | Tagged | 2 Comments

Rhode Island culinary student dreams of making it in New York

New York targets the struggling: the struggling artist, the struggling musician, and even, the struggling chef. Kala Coleman, a twenty-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, Mo, is no exception. She has one goal in mind: working with food and being successful at it. It hasn’t been an easy journey for her, however. Yet, with the motivation to rise out of her past, and the passion to work in the kitchen, Coleman stands as an example for what many seem to take for granted these days: achieving success by working harder than everyone else around you.

Coleman, a sophomore Culinary Nutrition major at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., hopes to pack her bags and head for New York upon graduation. What sounds like a typical dream for many hoping to “make it big,” Coleman sees as necessary. “New York is fast paced, and so is the kitchen. That’s what I want to do. Work fast and get good money doing it.” It is a bold goal for one who wants to work in the culinary industry, with the average chef making anywhere from $57,471-$87, 563 annually, according

Her love for cooking stemmed from her childhood. She started cooking with her grandmother when she was younger, and since then, cooking has always been close to her heart. She knew upon high school graduation, she was going to pursue a career in the culinary arts.

Her motivation to work in food has grown stronger since she’s been in college. “School is tough,” she says. Classes run in 9-day sessions, so students have to learn fast. They work in three trimesters: the first is comprised of lab classes, the second of academic courses, and the last can be lab classes or a student can choose an internship.

Coleman ready to chop anything in her chef uniform.

Coleman, currently in the third part of her trimester and involved in an internal internship, is working hard to get on-hands experience. “I’m a prep cook for a place called Red Sauce at the school. So I’m learning pretty well,” she says.

Lately, however, she has been looking more into athletic performance. In this field, she will work with helping athletes enhance their performance through nutrition. She will work with members of a sports team, cooking for them and helping with their all-around diet. She could see herself working with anyone from the New York Giants to the New Jersey Jets. “I could still cook, but I could make a lot more money,” Coleman giggles.

Yet, her ultimate goal is neither working in a restaurant nor working in athletic performance. She plans to open her own non-profit nutrition organization for children. In this organization, she plans to teach kids how to choose healthier options, and to provide them with the necessary tools to do so. This project hits close to home for her. “Growing up, I didn’t really eat healthy. It’s hard, you know. Especially when all you have is food stamps and then Doritos and Cheetos in your school vending machine,” she says somberly. No one taught her about nutrition, so she feels strongly that eating healthy should start with children.

Growing up in a single-parent household in the crime-ridden streets of St. Louis, Mo., Coleman had to work twice as hard to make it out of the city. “I wanted to get as far away as I could,” she says. “Because I knew if I didn’t get out now, I’d be stuck there forever.” So, she worked continuously in high school to make good enough grades to be able to pursue what she loves. “I can’t see myself doing anything else besides cooking,” she says.

In regard to what her favorite dishes are to make, her voice lights up with excitement. “Chicken and peach cobbler!” she says delightfully. “Those are definitely my favorite things to cook.

Coleman is the essence of what it takes to be successful. One has to have a passion for what they are pursuing, and the determination to beat the odds working against you. She is destined to make a name for herself in the culinary industry, and whatever road she takes, she’ll be sure to have a delicious peach cobbler to take with her.

Posted in Food | 3 Comments