June 2015 Yelp Elite Events

I recently reached Elite status on Yelp.com and have finally experienced several amazing Yelp events, from an ice cream tasting, to dinner at an Australian restaurant and an outdoor affair with appetizers and treats.

The first event I went to was the Milkmade Tasting Room ice cream tasting in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Milkmade is a small shop that is easily missed if you’re not looking for it. They had 5 unique flavors and I was able to try all of them. Below, are the flavors in order from my favorite to least favorite.

RVC

Red Velvet Cupcake was creamy sweet and delicious. I enjoyed the cream cheese flavored ice cream with a multitude of red velvet crumbles.

Fingerlakes PB&J

This peanut butter and jelly flavored ice cream was a wonderful smooth base of peanut butter, accented with a jelly swirl.

Open Sesame

This was black sesame with caramel. It had a strong nutty flavor with a lovely sweetness.

Blueberry

This flavor was simple, light and tasted perfectly of blueberries. Beautiful purple-blue color as well.

Chinatown Chocolate

This chocolate flavor had traces of cinnamon, sichuan pepper and fennel so it was quite interesting. I found the extra flavors to be a little bit too busy and wasn’t sure if I liked all of them together.

yelp_icecreamAfter the ice cream tasting, my friend and I headed to the Elite Only event in Queens: Outback to Astoria at The Thirsty Koala, which is an Australian restaurant. The food was delicious and there was plenty to go around. There was ceviche on a circular tortilla chip with sea bass, which were tasty 2-bite size pieces. It tasted both fresh and flavorful.

yelp_cevicheThen there were Australian meat pies, which had sausage in them and they were amazing! The meat was seasoned beautifully and full of robust flavor.

yelp_meatpiesThen there were corn fritter sliders, which came with a jalapeno sauce which was actually quite wonderful, even though I don’t normally like spicy food. The corn fritter was so good, while the sauce complemented the corn fritter well.

Yelp_slidersWe also got to try these delicious meatballs and calamari which had the perfect amount of crispiness. There were also lamb chops, which was a crowd favorite, but not my favorite because it was a bit too rare for me and there was too much fat on it.

yelp_lambchopsThen our table noticed there were kangaroo empanadas going around which we didn’t get a chance to try so my friend asked about it and they made a whole tray just for us! What incredible service… It tasted pretty good. Kind of tasted like well seasoned beef – I would not have known it was kangaroo if no one told me.

After that came the desserts. The first one was called Koala Ball, which was basically a chocolate ball: Hard chocolate outer shell with a soft, gooey, rich, chocolatey brownie-like center. It was absolutely delectable!

yelp_chocolateThe other was a chocolate caramel bar with a shortbread-like base. This was also incredible and the chocolate complemented the caramel just right.

yelp_chocolate caramelMy third Yelp Elite event: Studio Lot Affair, took place outdoors yesterday, at the Kaufman Astoria Studios with foot from Astor Room and cocktails provided by Buffalo Trace. I enjoyed the chicken salad on toasted bread, as well as the chicken skewers with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. However, my favorite, by far was the maple-candied bacon. It was extremely crispy, both sweet and salty, chock full of sweet maple flavor and just the best bacon I have ever had.

yelp_baconI had such a great time and met some awesome new friends at each of the Yelp Elite events, so can’t wait to attend future events!

MilkMade Tasting Room
204 Sackett Street
Brooklyn, NY

The Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Boulevard
Queens, NY

The Astor Room
34-12 36 St
Queens, NY

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Memorial Day Weekend Fun

I had a wonderful, fun filled Memorial Day weekend: Fleet Week, Bar Bacon, backyard BBQ with great friends.

On Friday, I headed to Times Square to see The “Rhode Island Sound,” a division of Navy Band Northeast perform. I loved how they sounded: Energetic, polished and fun! The songs they played ranged from contemporary hits such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” to more classic tunes, like Prince’s “Kiss” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” They ended with the catchy “Don’t Stop Believing,” and effectively got all of us to dance and sing along.

fleetweek2015_bandThere were also Marines stationed nearby with guns and a huge military tank. I held one of the guns, as pictured below.

fleetweek2015_marine I also climbed up on top of the tank, which was quite high and was a little disconcerting, but also felt exhilarating being up at such an altitude and able to see all of Times Square.

fleetweek2015_marine2There were also sailors around, so of course I had to take a selfie with a sailor! #SelfieWithASailor

fleetweek2015_sailorsSaturday morning I met up with a bunch of friends to go on the free ship tour. This year, the Navy and Marines came in on the USS San Antonio. We got to see various types of machinery/artillery/tanks, warfare/weapons,  cargo/ammo vehicles, electronics, living quarters and the medical room. My favorite area of the ship was the outdoor upper deck, which boasted a lovely view of the Coast Guard ship and the New York City skyline.

fleetweek2015_me

We had a fun time exploring the USS San Antonio, and couldn’t leave without a group photo with one of the sailors!

fleetweek2015_group picAfter the ship tour, we headed to a nearby restaurant bar in Hell’s Kitchen called Bar Bacon. I had actually heard of the place before and been wanting to try it, because who doesn’t love bacon in everything?

barbacon signWe shared two appetizers: Sauteed brussel sprouts with a delicious sauce and thick cut pieces of bacon and fried pickles. The brussel sprouts were amazing! Such intense flavor and fresh taste! I loved the texture and sort of meatiness of the brussel sprouts. Even if there weren’t any bacon in the dish, I would have been completely satisfied.

barbacon_brussel sproutsThe fried pickles were speared and looked like french fries. They came piping hot so that was good, but otherwise they were just okay.

barbacon_fried pickles

It was difficult for me to choose a main course, because I was looking at two options: French Toast or open faced chicken club sandwich. I ended up sharing with a friend, so was able to experience the best of both worlds. I started with the sandwich, which came beautifully presented. The sandwich came with grilled chicken, Applewood smoked bacon, romaine, organic tomato and chipotle mayonnaise and my, it was delicious! All the ingredients complemented each other and came together perfectly. The chicken was wonderful and juicy; bacon had just the right amount of crispness; the sauce gave it an extra zest of flavor.

barbacon_sandwichThe brioche french toast (only served on weekends) was also artfully presented and came with bacon maple butter, two slices of bacon, strawberries and whipped cream. The accompanying components were very tasty, but the I thought the bread itself was a bit too tough/hard. I prefer my french toast to be fluffy and moist.

barbacon_french toastI also went to a BBQ at a friend’s lovely backyard. We had extremely juicy delicious pulled pork, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, fruit, salad and the star of the event: BBQ ribs! They were succulent, smoky and finger-lickin’ good!

BBQribsLater, we enjoyed one of our friend’s amazing homemade key lime pie. It was delectable… Wonderful light lemon flavor with a killer graham-cracker crust and a bit of whipped cream to add to the already amazing layers of deliciousness. BBQkeylime pieIt turned out to be a great weekend with amazing food, friends and fun!

BBQ

Bar Bacon
836 9th Ave
New York, NY

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Dinner at Sao Mai

I went out with friends to Sao Mai Vietnamese restaurant and we ordered family style, so that we would be able to enjoy a wide variety of dishes.I started off with the Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which was quite strong and not creamy/sweet enough for me… It didn’t enough condensed milk, but it was still pretty good.

saomai_coffeeWe tried many different appetizers, such as the house special platter, which consisted of spring rolls, barbeque chicken, pork and beef and was served with lettuce, pickled carrots, mint leaves and light sweet dipping sauce. I enjoyed the barbeque meat, which was charred slightly (the way I like it).

saomai_appetizersI also really liked the shrimp summer roll with lettuce, mint leaves and vermicelli noodles, wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce. The summer roll was delightfully airy and wonderful. Another appetizer we had was a steamed rice crepe, with minced pork and mushroom which was not one of my favorites.

saomai_summer rollAs for the main courses, we selected one dish per type of meat/fish/veggie: Lemongrass chicken, beef cubes, grilled pork chop, crispy whole fish and tofu with mixed vegetable in traditional Vietnamese sauce. The chicken had a nice flavor to it, while the beef was succulent, juicy and tasty. The pork chop was cooked perfection and had very nice seasoning.

saomai_porkchopThe crispy fish was red snapper with a ginger lime sauce and while it was a bit difficult to cut, it tasted delicious with a great amount of crunch.

saomai_fishOverall, a very full and fulfilling meal. The only downside was that they do not have any dessert, but all was not lost! Afterwards, we headed to nearby Veniero’s pastry shop. For once, I was actually did not need to have my own dessert so we shared amongst ourselves. I tried a little bit of the blood orange/chocolate cake and some of the chocolate cannoli. Both were quite lovely and enjoyable, especially the chocolate parts. The orange cake had a nice delicate quality to it and the cannoli was a bit richer with a more robust sweet flavor to it.

dessertsIt turned out to be a great night of culinary treats and was happy I had the opportunity to try so many different menu options first at Sao Mai, then at Veniero’s.

saomai_me

Sao Mai
203 1 Ave
New York, NY

Veniero’s
342 E 11 St
New York, NY

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La Tarte Flambee

la tarte flambee

I had the chance to try lovely French restaurant, La Tarte Flambee the other night with some friends. It’s a perfect place to share a meal because the concept of the tart, a specialty of Alsace, France is a mix between a pizza and crepe. The tarts are quite large, cut into 9 square pieces and have a thin crispy crust.

We started with savory tarts and ordered 4 of them. My favorite was the grilled lamb with onions, gruyere and mint sauce. The lamb was flavorful and tasted wonderful with the onions and cheese. The mint didn’t have a strong presence on the tart but I didn’t mind that.

tarte_lamb

We also ordered a tart made with fresh salmon, leeks and onions. The salmon was indeed fresh, as were the vegetables.

tarte_salmon

Next, we had a vegetarian tart with leeks, tomatoes and peppers, as well as cheese. This was quite good, even with the absence of meat.

tarte_veggie

Last we picked a tart with bacon, onion and gruyere. It was a bit light on the bacon; it would have been better with more bacon. I also would have liked the bacon to be crispier and a little more flavorful.

tarte_bacon

After that, we moved on to the sweet tarts. I, of course had to order the strawberry-chocolate one. It came with creme fraiche, cinnamon, strawberries, and homemade chocolate sauce. I enjoyed very much, but think that there could have been more strawberry—perhaps thicker slices, because the other flavors kind of overpowered the fruit. I did, however love the chocolate sauce (of which they provided extra), which was rich, sweet and delicious! On the tart itself, the chocolate was lightly spread but I added some of the extra sauce and it was oh-so creamy, thick and intensely chocolate-y!

tarte_strawberry

Last, we tried the restaurant’s namesake, pomme la tarte flambee, which consisted of sliced apples, cinnamon and crème fraiche and was actually flambe’d in front of us! Flambe, meaning covered with liquor and set alight which they did not once, but twice for good measure. The show was quite cool and I enjoyed watching the tart alight with fire. However, the taste of alcohol was too strong for me so I didn’t actually like the tart.

tarte flambee

All in all, I was impressed by the different tarts and truly enjoyed trying them. I would recommend the lamb one, the salmon one and the strawberry-chocolate one.

La Tarte Flambee
153 E 33 St; 1750 2nd Ave
New York, NY

 

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Dinner at Burger & Lobster

I had the pleasure of dining at a lovely new restaurant in the Flatiron District, called Burger & Lobster. The concept is so simple that they don’t even need a menu. There are three choices: Burger, whole lobster or lobster roll. Each meal comes with both fries and salad.

I chose the lobster because I haven’t had that in awhile and I figured that was probably the best deal. I decided to go with the grilled lobster option and was not disappointed.

burgerlobster_meThe lobster was a decent size and it came with lemon-garlic butter. Plus, it was pre-cracked so it made it a lot easier to enjoy. The lobster meat had a nice flavor to it and that lemon butter is life. The salad was mediocre to me but the fries were warm, crispy and delicious!

burgerlobster_meal

My friend ordered one of the desserts: Chocolate mousse and was kind enough to let me try some of it. Truly delectable flavor of sweet, rich, delightful chocolate with darker chocolate at the bottom.

burgerlobster_dessertEven though I did not get to try the burger or lobster roll, I heard that the burger was quite good (and worth the $20), and the same for the lobster roll. I would definitely come back to try the burger!

Tip: Try it soon, before it becomes completely crowded and difficult to get a table (they don’t take advance reservations).

burgerlobster_me2

Burger & Lobster
39 W. 19 St
New York, NY

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RW Lunch at Fig & Olive

I had been yearning to try Mediterranean restaurant, Fig & Olive for quite some time now so I jumped at the chance to dine at Fig & Olive for lunch during Restaurant Week. My friend and I ate at the Uptown location, which was beautiful, sleek, elegant and cozy with comfortable seating, which had an intimate feel.

figolive interior

After we settled in, we were served a plate of rosemary focaccia bread pieces and three different types of olive oil: Two from Spain and one from Italy. The bread was mediocre, a little bit dry but the olive oil was rich and tasty.

figolive bread

For my appetizer, I chose the truffle mushroom croquettes, which were delicious fried balls of cremini mushroom parmesan and béchamel, served with truffle oil aioli. They were incredibly flavorful, fresh and wonderful!

figolive appetizer

The main course was Rosemary Lamb, which consisted of grilled lamb and red bell pepper on skewers with rosemary ends, a fig and cous cous with red onion, scallions and tomatoes, and sauce made out of Greek yogurt base. The lamb was amazing… Perfectly cooked, tender, well-seasoned and incredibly appetizing. The cous cous was also quite good, and I normally don’t like cous cous that much. I enjoyed both the lamb and cous cous with the sauce, giving the dish more depth.

figolive me

There were only two options for dessert, so my friend and I ordered one of each so that we could try both. The “Dessert Crostini” was Amarena cherry and mascarpone on top of pistachio shortbread with basil. There were two of these so it was perfect and I liked the taste of mascarpone on the shortbread but I thought the cherries were way too sweet.

figolive dessert

The chocolate pot de crème, which came with a crunchy praline financier (basically a fancy Kit Kat bar) and vanilla cream on top, was out of this world delectable. It was incredibly chocolate-y and had a lovely smooth consistency with just the right amount of sweetness.

figolive chocolate

I really enjoyed my meal at Fig & Olive. The service was also high quality. I would highly recommend trying out this restaurant!

 

Fig & Olive
808 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY

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Chocolate Workshop: Valentine Edition

This past weekend I headed to Chocolate Works in Brooklyn for a Chocolate Workshop. It’s a lovely store filled with delicious chocolate, truffles, fudge of all flavors and all different kinds of candy. I was able to find some sugar free chocolates (Malt Balls, Chocolate Covered Raisins & Peanuts) so picked up some of that.

Then we went to the back room for the Chocolate Workshop. We started with dipping strawberries, banana and marshmallow in the amazing chocolate fountain. However, we were only allowed one each which I was quite disappointed in. Chocolate covered strawberries are one of my favorite treats, so I really wanted more strawberries to dip. Had I known that Chocolate Works was going to be that stingy, I would have bought my own strawberries.

chocolateworkshop

Next, we picked a mold then filled it with chocolate then after it hardened, we were able to decorate it. Of course I chose the heart shape with LOVE written in cursive on it. I used hot pink (of course) to trace LOVE and then wrote XOXO all over it.

chocolateworkshop4

While we were waiting for  our chocolate molds, we decorated our own cookies. I chose an Oreo and Pretzel as my base and sprinkled colorful M&Ms and hot pink/red/white heart sprinkles on top. The end result was an amazing, delectable sweet piece of delicious-ness.

chocolateworkshop5

I decided to eat the Oreo concoction I made and save the pretzel for later. I normally am not a huge fan of the Oreo cookie, but having it covered with chocolate and other toppings made it wonderful. It was incredibly sweet; actually maybe a little bit too sweet but so good!

chocolateworkshop2

I left the Chocolate Workshop with my sweet tooth completely satisfied and the solid chocolate heart I made, pictured below. The cost of the workshop was $30 and I had a really fun, sweet evening. The only complaint I had was that there were not enough strawberries to dip in the flowing chocolate fountain. They definitely should have let us have more than one piece of fruit!

chocolateworkshop3

 

Chocolate Works
110 Montague St
Brooklyn, NY

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