Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fancy Tacos

Boy these tacos are fancy! So all you ex-Californians don't expect authentic Mexican food. This is fusion food. I'm usually a big hater of fusion but I found Empellon to be creative and most of the flavours worked well together.

This is just my first look at Empellon. I plan to go back and try a few more things. So apologies for so few photos. All in all it was good. The service was the first thing we noticed. Our server was amazing. He had a strong opinion and wasn't shy to share it and at the same time was able to give us very detailed information about both the drinks and the food.

We started with this fish starter which was a bit like a ceviche but the texture was a bit weird and honestly it wasn't my favourite. We then tried one of the Queso Fundido with Shishito Peppers which was naughty and delicious. As for the tacos we tried three; the Fish Tempura, the Mushroom and Zucchini (vegetarian), and the Lamb Barbacoa. They were all good, actually the vegetarian one was our favourite by far. The fish one was good but hey what fried fish isn't. I actually prefer grilled fish tacos over fried. The lamb one was a bit overbearing but the cucumbers added nice texture. I am eager to try other tacos. All their ingredients are really interesting and seem to have enormous potential.

Until the next time I'd have to say that the cocktails really stole the show over the food. I tried a few different ones, all AMAZING. My favourite was this mezcal cocktail with celery salt on the rim. It was both smokey and refreshing. I was impressed.

Empellon Taqueria
230 West 4th Street (corner of w4th + w10th st)
New York, NY

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Best Aperitivo in Town

The Aperitivo at Ovest is no joke. Not only is it some of the best food in the city, its FREE! Everyday from 5-8pm, Ovest puts out great food for all to share. It's conveniently located a block from my work so its become my second home. My coworkers and I usually stop in for a quick bite or even an early dinner most nights after we wrap our shoots.

Here's our crew of models and photographers after a long day of shooting. They even let our little man, Carlo, the son of another art director, make his own pizza! Little Carlo made a great pie!

As you can see the spread includes great fire-roasted pizza and amazing assortments of salads and bruschetta. Their wine is good and most importantly their Italian boys who work there (all fresh off the boat from Italy, with the exception of one very cute German) are all extremely nice. We often stay for hours chatting with them while we eat and sip on great wine. Stop in and check it out, if it's a weekday I'll most likely be there.

513 West 27th St (near 10th Ave)
Aperitivo 5-8pm daily

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Spice Up Your Life

I love soondubu. And now my favourite one is literarily across the street. I couldn't be more blessed. Every time I have that intense craving for the delicious spicy soup and just hip, skip across the street to NY Tofu House. When they opened their doors in late fall no one really noticed. There's so much bad food on this street that I think people just figured it was the same as all the rest of the subpar korean restaurants. But no, this one is different, it's special. It's original location is in Jersey and I've heard that people line up for it. But here in the East Village it sits fairly quiet, you never have to wait for a table. The weekends get a bit crazy as every other spot on this street, but weekdays, it's all mine. I haven't tried much else on the menu, except the bibimbop, which is also solid. They seem to pride themselves on those two items, so I don't veer too far. The soondubu comes in about ten varieties, meats, seafood, vegetable and even curry. I go for the traditional kimchi one every time and it makes me ohhhh so happy. You get an array of side dishes as well as a seperate bowl of rice, which is also prepared in a stone bowl, so it gets nice and crispy on the edges. It's my comfort food... bigtime.

NY Tofu House
6 Saint Marks Place (btwn 2nd + 3rd Ave)
New York, NY

Summer Food

The summer is almost here and the Dekalb Market in Brooklyn is the perfect place to be on a Saturday afternoon. It was Adriana's birthday and her husband arranged a surprise party for her there. We took up three whole tables and sipped cold beer and wine and munched on yummy snacks. It was really nice to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen in a while. They have a nice selection of food stands, some of which are housed inside old shipping containers. Since I've been in France, I was of course craving Mexican food and helped myself to a few tacos. They were pretty good. One was a korean taco, with beef and kimchi on top. The other a chicken which was a bit boring. I tried a bite of Adriana's vegetarian curry dish, which was delicious. I feel like there's lot of good food to explore and the market and I look forward to spending many of my summer weekends here.

Dekalb Market
138 Willoughby Street

Paris Special: The Good Seed

This was meant to be "the dinner" with famed French food critic Francois Simon. Unfortunately it did not happen but we were still able to get a lovely table at Semilla. Three fabulous New York girls enjoyed a very fabulous meal. We loved it.

It was definitely one of my favourite meals this trip in Paris. The space is modern yet cozy and the kitchen is nice and open. There are two bar stool seats that over look the kitchen. I think that would be my ideal date, where you get to watch them make all the food they are making you.

The food was great. The menu is all small plates, à la Spanish tapas style (which apparently the french don't get) so the server was delighted that we were open to sharing. As it's meant to be done with tapas.

We tried a good portion of the entire menu. Everything was solid. My favourites were the fried langoustine skewers with a curry dipping sauce and the ceviche. Almost everything we ordered was seafood so it was fresh and light. The flavours were delicious, all in all I was really impressed. The desserts were really special too, simple yet bursting with flavour. Semilla get a big thumbs up from me.

54 rue de Seine
Paris 75006

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

French Countryside Special: Påté Paradise

Pate is the name of the game in the french countryside. We are currently in the heart of France, smack dab in the center or the country... en Creuse. With over 10 varieties, this was definitely the largest selection of patés that I've ever seen. We picked up some "pate de tete" (made up of all the parts of the head), some "grillons"(basically fat), boudin noir (blood sausage) and saucisson (sausage). We trotted off (no pun intended) to get a fresh baguette from the boulangerie down the road.  The beauty of a small country town is that every you need is within a few steps walk from each other.

We ate loads of it before our main course of roasted chicken and patates frites. Then we finished the rest off for lunch today with our boudin noirs. I'll post a photo soon enough.

Paris Special: Chez Omar

This Moroccan restaurant is a local favourite in Paris. It is the Cafe Mogador of Paris à mon avis. Apparently during fashion week its mental and on any given night the line can be up to 10-15 people waiting. Omar is the man behind the resto, he's sweet and he runs a tight crew of Parisien Moroccan's as his staff. Mehdi is very at home here, they call him family and we were treated like gold. The food was excellent. It was very simple and straight forward; perfectly cooked couscous, delicious sauteed vegetables sauce and juicy meats. The merguez was insane. Mix together on your place et voila! Tous va bien... total happiness!

Leonard joined up to eat and we devoured more meat while finishing up every drop of wine. We ended our meal on the most delicious Morrocan mint tea I've ever had. Life is good and Chez Omar life is even better.


Bienvenue à Paris: Pas De Progrés

I'm so happy to be in Paris! I plan on documenting at least a few of my meals while here.

My boy Mehdi was so sweet to pick me up from the aiport and we ran to the closest spot for a decent meal. Le Progrés in the Marais is full of hipsters and the perfect place to people watch. I ordered a Croque Madame and was clearly too hungry to even take a picture! Mehdi's Entrecote looked delicious as well.  Only problem is the service, as in most of Paris, was very slow. It took forever to order, forever to get the food, and forever to get the bill. Each time one of us would come back from the washroom, we would ask each other " Est-ce qu'il y a de progrés?" and the answer was "pas de progrés... " haha. It was a funny joke because the place is called "progress" in french and there was clearly no progress.

I usually ends many nights there on the heated terrace, sipping on a glass of wine. Leonard and I ended up there the other night, again people watching. (Leonard, insert the photo you took here ;)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The New Nomad

NoMad, a 5-star Parisian-inspired hotel, opened its doors officially over a month ago. Although it's presence still lies fairly under the radar, it's definitely bound to be the cool spot in town. The interior is designed by the very famous Jacques Garcia, who is most recognized for his work on Hotel Costes in Paris. It feels like a more masculine grown up version of the Ace Hotel. The restaurant and bar is beautiful and they have a very cozy library in the back which is perfect for post-work drinks and meetings. The library is one of my favourite places in the city right now. The cocktails and bar snacks are fantastic.

The restaurant is probably the most important part of this new hotel project. Daniel Humm, the chef of Eleven Madison Park has decided to head up the restaurant at the NoMad. He is offering a less fussy and less expensive version of his food from Eleven Madison. The menu is solid and has a nice variety of snacks, appetizers and mains. We spoke to Daniel himself at our dinner there this week and he recommended a few new things I hadn't tried yet. All fantastic. Among those were the Fruits de Mer sampler and surprisingly the whole chicken for two.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to visit the restaurant before it opened for their friends and family soft opening. There we had the chance to sample most of the menu and even stay a night in the rooms. It was great and the overall experience was very good. The rooms also follow Garcia's aesthetic, masculine, dark and sexy, which nice touches like a beautiful claw foot tub that spills into the middle of the room. It's hot.

Back to the food, everything is simple but with a twist. Humm plays with flavours and textures. It's always a surprise which is fun when its carefully controlled. Overall I have been happy with my meals there. The portions are a little bit confusing, some very small and some rather large. Especially with the desserts, it's easy to get carried away and order too many. I'm not huge on sweets so I often just want a taste and feel overwhelmed when they are too large. They have a very lovely and well informed sommelier on staff who set us up with excellent wine.

The NoMad Hotel
1170 Broadway (nr 28th)
New York, NY

Monday, May 7, 2012

Matt's Eggs

When I was visiting San Francisco a few months ago, my best friend's husband, Matt made us the most amazing eggs for breakfast. They were soft scrambled with a delicious creamy texture. He then sprinkles crackers over the eggs and garnished the dish with a sprig of fresh thyme. It was divine! I have recently tried to remake it at home and now eat it for breakfast often enough. Its the perfect was to start my day.