Midnights in Williamsburg

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Wow!
End of October already???
I mean, when I last posted I was gearing up for the busiest season at my office. I work in Tax so the days were long and days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and here we are.
With the change of the season I am experiencing Migraines. Lots and lots of migraines. If anyone has any remedies to bring relief, please reach out. Coffee, Excedrin, and Vicks Vapor Rub are my go-to methods but am open to trying something new.
SO, where were we?
Ah, that time my husband and I ended up at an adorable little bistro because the original place had lost our reservation. Right.
Sometime in the warmer months, hubby and I gussied up for dinner just because. We made reservations for a chef tasting that needed to be made in advance. When we arrived at the restaurant, they had no idea we were there for a tasting and sat us a at a table for 4 with another couple already there… can you say awkward???
One of my biggest pet peeves is dining with strangers. NYers are no strangers to crowded places but the act of dining should be somewhat intimate- it’s bad enough tables are 2 inches apart from each other but I need those two inches separating me from another set of diners.
I digress. They lost our reservation. We went to another restaurant. We contacted the people that lost our reservation and they invited us back to make up for the error.
It was probably one of the hottest days in the summer. Hubby and I dressed down so we could be comfortable. It was a 5 course tasting so comfort was definitely on the list of priorities. This time around, our visit was great! Not only was our reservation saved, but they remembered I preferred to dine semi-privately so we had a table in a corner booth all to ourselves. That alone was worth the entire “ordeal”.
We started with a chilled corn and crab soup. The portions for this tasting were… on the heavier side. We arrived hungry but, spoiler alert, we were STUFFED afterwards.

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The Chilled corn soup was velvety and sweet with hearty chunks of lump crab meat. They paired it with a crisp chilled white wine.
We also had a salad course that I forgot to click… but you don’t win friends with salad. Amiright?20160813_201149
Next up, we had a trout dish with veggies. Wasn’t a huge fan of the trout as this particular presentation was very bony and if you take big bites like me… you’ll surely choke. Lol. Ain’t I a classy one?

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The chef, feeling bad for what had happened to us the first time we got here, offered us an additional course to make up for the error. A buccatini dish that was probably the best thing we ate all night. It was incredible!

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At this point of the night, we were running out of precious stomach room…but we had to press on.
Lordt!
Help us.
Short Rib. With a butternut squash puree and sautéed bok boy.
Delicious, indeed.
20160813_211634The big finale was a delicious warm chocolate sauce poured over a chocolate shell that melted to reveal a scoop of ice cream. It was a shared dessert. It was difficult to get through.
Once we finished our meal, we graciously thanked our host and chef for the memorable meal. They had more than made up for the previous error and their service will bring us back for more of everything!

Restaurant Week: David Burke Kitchen

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Restaurant week is a seasonal event in NYC where select restaurants offer prefix lunches ($29) and dinners ($42) at a fixed price in the five boroughs. It started nearly 10 years ago and has gotten so popular that the “week” usually lasts about 6 weeks; giving one ample time to get as many deals as possible. 20160731_131220

I personally like experiencing a restaurant that I would normally not visit but I also find that the experience is very different on a regular dining day then during restaurant week. Never the less, my family and I always participate.

One such place where we particularly love Restaurant Week lunches is David Burke Kitchen in Soho. There is only one thing that I actually crave here and luckily, it’s offered during restaurant week so I am one happy lady.

It was very easy to obtain a reservation for 1PM on a rainy Sunday in SoHo. My husband, parents, and I arrived hungry and ready to feast. For $29, we were entitled to an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Not too shabby. We almost all ordered the same exact thing which means no tasting anything new… but when you know what you like, there isn’t really a need for all that.

I had a cup of coffee which was nice and strong- perfect little jolt!

20160731_131904For starters, everyone minus Brent ordered the plain Greek yogurt with house made granola, nuts, berries, and honey. This is no ordinary bowl of yogurt. I cannot explain why this tastes as good as it does but I have a feeling it has to be the full fat yogurt. It was tart and creamy with a hint of sweetness from the honey and berries. We scraped our bowls clean.

20160731_133235As my entrée, I ordered the burger. A huge heavy burger to go on top of the bowl of high protein yogurt I just scarfed. The burger was delicious but I barely finished half. I packed the burger and fries to go (which were perfect later that evening for dinner!).

20160731_141117Dessert was a super-rich chocolate cake. I managed half and had to give up. Being full was a major factor but the richness on top of that was just too much. I left with a lot of leftovers.

But for $29, the prix-fixe is a great bargain.

While the Restaurant Week promotion is over until Winter, the bowl of greek Yogurt at David Burke Kitchen is worth a trek to SoHo when you’re craving it!

 

Juliette

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Brent and I got dressed up for a night on the town.  We find that taking some time to have a cute little date keeps us sane and there’s nothing like a romantic dinner every now and then; amirite?

We were getting stopped by our neighbors. “Are you going to a wedding?” “You guys look fancy!”.

I mean, your girl was feeling herself for a minute.

Then it all began.

The uber we ordered was “5” minutes away but took forever to actually arrive. He was going in circles before he arrived 2 blocks away from us. He called to yell about the difficulty he had in getting to our building and that we had to come to him or he was going to cancel. We were trying to make it in time for an 8 PM reservation. It was 7:45. We had the driver meet us halfway and we waited patiently in the car to arrive at our destination.

A new restaurant not too far from our neighborhood that was offering a chef’s tasting with an advanced reservation. The restaurant was new and trendy which worried me since the new trendy places we have tried as of late have been small and tables were right on top of each other leaving us to share a meal with complete strangers. Not romantic.

I had arranged with the restaurant via email to have our tasting and we were all set.

When we arrived, I gave the hostess our name and she brought us to the back yard and seated us at a picnic table that already had a couple dining… considering the intimacy of our pre-planned dinner, I was not comfortable sitting with another couple I didn’t even know. So, I asked the hostess if there was some mistake since we were scheduled to have a chef tasting.

She said I wasn’t on the list for a tasting but she changed our table and asked the chef if he would be willing to fit us in.

He wasn’t.

There was no AC as it was and we were starting to sweat.

The manager came over and apologized and denied our reservation.

Not wanting to challenge anyone that would potentially prepare my meal, my husband and I got up and left in search of a Plan B.

We walked a few blocks and found ourselves in front of this very charming bistro, Juliette. I have always wanted to try this place but never got around to it. There was no time like the present. So we walked in and proceeded to have the most adorable dinner ever and losing our chef tasting didn’t even matter anymore.

We started with some bubbles because we love bubbles.

20160729_202553Despite the humidity, we opted to start with the French onion soup. Probably the best French Onion soup I have had to date- super cheesy, very flavorful and the alcohol was cooked down completely- so no boozy aftertaste.

20160729_204332For our entrée, I had the diver scallops over polenta and Brent had a grilled chicken sandwich.

20160729_204336I love me a good sandwich and I may have had slight dinner envy because his sandwich was delicious. Great bread. Homemade mayo. Juicy chicken breast. Thick cut bacon. And ripe roma tomatoes. And of course, crispy fries!

My sea scallops were cooked to perfection- nice sear on the outside and supple texture. The polenta was creamy with a nice bit of sharpness to it. I would definitely order again.

20160729_211802For dessert, we shared a crème brulee. Very hard to screw up but still very good!

Our night had turned around for the better! We were rubbing out full bellies as it started to pour so we hailed an uber that came immediately and we hopped in to seek shelter from the rain and the damn car REEKED of cigarettes. Longest 8 minutes of my life!

That’s just how it be’s sometimes.

Hello Bklyn

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Our neighborhood is ever-changing.

This time last year, a Spanish restaurant stood on the very corner I found myself on Sunday evening.

But now, instead of a Spanish restaurant, a burger bar is in its place.

Hello Bklyn sells burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches with a nice
selection of drinks. Their walls are decorated with all things
Brooklyn and Hip Hop; namely, Biggie Smalls. The music is old school
hip hop and R&B- 80’s babies rejoice!

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The space is rustic with stools and tables; large open windows, and is
in a perfect spot on the corner for a cool breeze in the summer
evening.

We started with some cocktails.
Bourbon. Cider. Deliciousness.

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Great summer cocktail. Don’t even know the name. Just looked at it and said yes.

Sometimes you gotta be impulsive that way.

For our entrees, we each got the Hello Bklyn Burger. A Pat La Frieda
patty cooked to a juicy medium rare with cheddar, bacon, lettuce,
tomato, and red onion on a fluffy toasted brioche bun. The burger is
JUICY and flavorful.

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He opted for a side of fries and I got an order
of crispy onion rings.

It was their most basic burger but it was a wonderful way to start our
love affair with Hello Bklyn. Their menu is not extensive but they
have a nice variety including non-beef options such as salmon burgers
or quinoa burgers.

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We will definitely be back for happy hour and hope to try all the
burgers! Why not? Its only 3 blocks away from home- oh how dangerous
this is!

Restaurant Review: Manila Social Club

Back in January, I had the privilege of visiting Manila Social Club in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a Yelp Elite event. Having heard a lot about this place and their infamous 2hours and up wait list to dine, I seized the chance to visit for this private event.

It’s no secret that I love Filipino food. It’s my greatest comfort with dishes similar to those from my Hispanic roots; like Lechon Kawali and chicken adobo to name a few.

The Yelp Event was amazing and I made a mental note to come back for brunch or dinner service. My new co-worker, who is new to New York, asked if I had ever been. We had a brief conversation about it and she said Let’s Get Brunch! Having familiarized myself with their crazy wait times, I suggested we arrive EARLY.

So, here we were at 10:30AM on a Saturday on a rainy, nasty day in Brooklyn. We were first in line.

HUZZAH!

I am sure that because of the yucky weather, people took their chances showing up a little after 11AM- when they open- and very few were fortunate to snag one of the 13 tables. That’s all they have, 13! We were seated and once all the tables were filled, arriving patrons were told the wait was 2 hrs. TWO HOURS. And they waited.

In the rain.

Feeling like this was a golden opportunity, C and I ordered a little bit of everything. We were going to experience all of brunch!

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To start, we were given some potato rolls with ube butter. These rolls were fluffy and pillowy and freaking delicious. I inhaled mine and nearly asked for another but refrained since we had ordered a boat load of food. When in Rome…

I had a cup of coffee which needed to refilled quite a bit. The coffee was nice and strong. I recently had never experienced a notably bad cup of coffee at a dining establishment until I went to a cute place in Forest Hills… so sad.

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One of our appetizers was the fried avocado. Wasn’t really sure about this but C requested it so I figured why not? The avocado retained its creaminess and had a delightful and light crunchy coating. The addition of a slivered pickled onion really took this up a notch. Would definitely order this again but it’s a heavy appetizer.

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We ordered my absolute favorite- Lumpia. A Filipino spring roll. They were crisp and flavorful. There really isn’t nothing more to add because they were amazing. Feed me all the lumpia!

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When in Rome, you do as the Romans do. So we ordered Spam Fries. These didn’t wow us [right away]. If you like spam, you will like these. We barely touched these but took some home and after reheating leftovers, I really enjoyed them. They seem to be dried a little before they are fried. They had more texture to them while still tasting like canned meat.

In addition to our appetizers, we ordered sides to go with our entrees. Hindsight is 20/20. Had we known the size of these things, we likely would have narrowed our choices down by half. We were running out of precious stomach room.

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The longaniza (AKA sausage) hash was the most anticipated item but sadly it disappointed. It was just okay. The presentation was great but led us to expect unctuous spoonfuls of hash. We got very soft potatoes and very little sausage. Would pass on next time and just get a side of sausage.

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C got the soufle mango pancake with ube ice cream. A monstrosity! A cakey, fluffy, delicious monstrosity. Her ube ice cream was delicious too. She wanted a side of eggs which were buttery and fluffy. 20160402_113900

I got the tocino (bbq pork belly-ish) with two eggs over garlic rice. The eggs and rice were great. The tocino was sadly dry. Flavor-wise, I enjoyed the tocino but I would likely order something else next time.

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About midway through our feast, we found ourselves waving the white flag and packing lots of leftovers for a massive “snack” to take home. The mish-mosh tasted glorious later in the day after a long walk and a nap.

Overall, I enjoyed our experience at Manila Social Club. There were some misses/disappointments but I would definitely come back. They have a golden ube donut that is $100… but I hear good things.

Will have to check out dinner…

That time I met Lil Jon…

I was invited to celebrate the 100th episode of Bar Rescue via Spike TV.

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I invited a new coworker and figured it would be a nice random event for a Tuesday night. I really didn’t pay much attention to the invite so I showed up dressed like a complete bum… but a very comfy bum, so there.

We arrived promptly as the event began. Hardly anyone had arrived yet so I made myself comfortable at the bar trying all the featured beverages until I came across one I liked.

The offerings:

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Citrus Slam:

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Smirnoff No 21 Vodka, Fresh Lemon Juice, Herb Simple Syrup and Rosemary Sprig

The New Day:

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Crown Royale Northern Harvest Rye Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Maple Syrup, bitters and candied bacon garnish.

Maize Runner:

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Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, Vanilla Syrup, Pineapple Juice, Soda water.

Ciroc Apple Martini:

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Ciroc Apple, shake and double strained. Garnished with Asian pear.

Out of all of the cocktails, I enjoyed the apple martini which I was surprised by. But it was the drink that got it done- not too sweet and easy to drink. (maybe too easy).

As the night was progressing, it got more and more crowded. I was able to find a great spot by the DJ booth to dance and grab appetizers as they came out.

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We feasted on short rib sliders, risotto balls, shrimp, and some other tasty bites that escape me presently.

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I was having a blast dancing by the DJ booth. I turned as someone walked by saying excuse me and I said to my friend, “yo, that guy looks just like Lil Jon”. She laughed at me. I said “Seriously, look!”

She laughed harder “Monique, that IS Lil Jon”.

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This is why it’s important to read things. IJS

So we danced while Lil Jon spun. And I had tons of Ciroc Apple Martinis. Too many to count.

I felt fine- was having a serious blast.

As the night was coming to a close, I proceeded to coat check to get my things when I pivoted and felt and intense POP in my knee.

If you guessed that I dislocated my knee, you have guessed correctly.

I didn’t know it at the moment, but a quick (and PAINFUL) adjustment and my knee was back in place but hurting quite a bit. With a slight limp, I spied Lil Jon exiting the DJ booth and my friend took our picture. This is the face of inebriation and pain.

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The following morning I found myself in the emergency room getting x rays for my knee. Happy to report all is well again…

But one thing is certain- I had a blast!

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One Year!

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Just recently, hubby and I celebrated our one year anniversary.

With it being so close to Valentine’s Day and the venue being closed on Monday’s, we made it a twofer. Happy Anniversary and Happy Valentine’s Day. The temperature on Valentine’s Day was just like our wedding day- FREEZING. But I am not that shocked since…spoiler alert…we got married in the winter.

When we were seated at our table at My Moon NYC, we told our waiter we were celebrating our anniversary. It was incredibly heartwarming that they remembered us.

To paraphrase, their recognition went a little something like “Oh you guys got married on a REALLY cold day, right?” yeah. That was us.

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We love our bubbles so a bottle of bubbly was in order.

There was a prefix menu for the holiday but we decided to order off of the regular menu.

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We started with a mixed seafood plate- calamari, shrimp, and homemade chips. Fried with an airy crisp.

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Hubby ordered the rack of lamb atop a parsnip puree and roasted carrots. The lamb was cooked perfectly.

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I had the steak. It came with roasted red peppers and a creamy potato puree. The roasted peppers with the steak was so good!

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Hubby ordered the caramel cheesecake which was great.

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I had the molten lava cake. Wasn’t a fan of the ice cream but the cake was warm and rich. A perfect end to a great meal.

We had successfully finished the entire bottle of champagne when we asked for the check.

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The staff surprised us with more champagne and a lovely anniversary message. I can’t believe its been a year! It has definitely been challenging with him being away for school but he will be home for good very soon!

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Happy Anniversary my Love!

Crock Pot Mexican Quinoa

2016.

A new year.

So far this year, I have said goodbye to my husband yet again as he starts his last semester of Grad School in DC, broke another laptop, and am trying to get through a week without snacking on all the free unhealthy food at the office.

My “resolution” this year was to make more time to post. I miss my frequent ramblings and sharing my kitchen disasters/successes. I had it all planned when my laptop suddenly went kaput. It’s currently with Geek Squad. I look forward to the prognosis. Fingers crossed it’s a cheap fix.

So, what’s new with me? Hmm.

Well, my crock pot has become my best friend. I work in a very busy firm and now that B is away in school, coming home to cook after 7pm is as desirable as getting a root canal. I’m tired. I’m hungry and I just want dinner… or take out. My wallet doesn’t really approve on all the take out and the quality of food in my neighborhood has plummeted. The only good thing (and I say good very loosely) is sushi.

I have drawn much inspiration and saved a TON of money with the helpful listicles featured on BuzzFeed Food. On grocery days, I prepare several meals, place them in freezer bags with a note on whats inside and plop it in the crock pot when I’m ready to cook it.

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Recently, I pulled a Mexican quinoa dish out of my stash. I was super skeptical but I didn’t really feel I had anything to lose.

It wasn’t the prettiest thing but it certainly was a nice change of pace from chilis and stews. The quinoa fluffed up so nicely. The spices gave it a nice kick. And all the beans, corn, and veg kept this dish satisfying!

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I had leftovers for days!

20151110_192004And even better, got to heat them up in my brand new Lunch Crock. Probably the most overlooked item in the gadget aisle. This baby stays at work. I put my food in there in the morning and by lunch time my food is piping hot. There’s no wait for the microwave and the vessel locks in food smells until you open it! I feel like I’m winning all day! Great gift from Santa!

Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Taking advantage of B being away, my plan of action for feeding myself involved stuffed vegetables. My husband has liked all but 2 things I have ever made for him: Stuffed Peppers and Stuffed Zucchini. I can’t fault him for knowing what he likes (and doesn’t like).

I dedicated a Sunday to making a big batch of my grandmother’s sauce, freezing it in smaller batches for rainy days. With a portion of the sauce, I added some crumbled sausage and veggies to stuff into hollowed out zucchini.

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I took 4 large zucchini, split them down the middle length-wise, scooped out their middles (adding the pulp to the sausage mixture), filled them with sausage and sauce then covered them with mozzarella. I covered them with foil and baked according to Gina from Skinny Taste’s website.

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They were perfect. I devoured 2 boats with delight as I packed the rest away for dinner for the rest of the week. Things always taste better the next day!20151004_155136

The following day, I went about my day as usual. Got ready for work. Walked the dog. Took the train to work… and then it happened.

With my feet sore from the plantar fasciitis, I had a slight limp in my right foot to alleviate the discomfort as I walked. While entering the train station, I heard my train coming and decided to pick up the pace. I turned onto my right foot and felt a “POP” in my right foot followed by an immediate white hot sensation in my foot. It happened so quickly. I didn’t know what just happened but I immediately started to sweat as my foot was stinging in pain.

I hopped along… miraculously making the train and feeling so much panic. My family was away on vacation in California and my husband was in DC. I didn’t know what to do.

Luckily, my podiatrist is 2 blocks away from my office. I limped over to his office and that’s when he told me the crappy news: I tore the fascia. For anyone the is curious, don’t tear your fascia. Its now MONTHS after the fact and I am still not back to normal.

After the lovely zucchini boats ran out, my crock pot came to the rescue. Stay tuned for those!