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Dining at Alta

altaAlta is a lovely, charming restaurant with an elegant, yet homey feel, in a converted townhouse in the West Village area. The place is easy to miss because there is no sign out front, so you have to be looking for it.

My friends and I were seated downstairs near the fireplace and we ordered 5 dishes to share.

First came the bacon wrapped dates and olives (I requested only dates since I don’t like olives) which were stuffed with almonds. This was amazing! The bacon was perfectly crispy, full of flavor and the dates were sweet, chewy, wonderful. The roasted almond added a bit of crunch and wonderful taste.

alta_baconThen, the brussel sprouts, mixed with granny smith apple, creme fraiche and pistachio. The brussel sprouts tasted so good and were juicy, with great seasoning. I would have liked more apple in the dish though.

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The lamb meatballs had a charred red pepper sauce and some sort of white cheese. They were pretty good, but not particularly memorable for me.

alta_meatballsRoasted salmon came on top a summer vegetable salad of squash, corn, tomatoes and string beans. I enjoyed this dish a lot. The salmon was charred just a bit with the skin still on it and was slightly flaky, not fishy at all and was just delicious. And the salad was nice and fresh.

alta_salmonWe also ordered the roasted trumpet mushrooms, consisting of porcini caramel and breadcrumbs. This was quite good with a very savory, appetizing sauce with the best tasting breadcrumbs I have ever had!

As for dessert, we tried two different ones: First one was the Chocolate Peanut butter Napoleon, which consisted of chocolate cream, peanut butter ganache and malted milk chocolate ice cream. This was delectable with perfectly flaky cake with layers of yummy chocolate and peanut butter. And the ice cream was creamy and sweet.

alta_napoleonThe other dessert we had was the Georgia Julep Parfait, which came with roasted peaches, bourbon ice cream, mint granita and pecan praline. I really enjoyed this. The bourbon ice cream was superb, with amazing rich bourbon flavor and paired perfectly with the refreshing peaches and roasted/sugary pecans.

alta_peachesThe service was top notch and since one of my friends knew the host, our drinks and desserts were free! We weren’t expecting that special treatment, so were pleasantly surprised. And I would absolutely come back to try other dishes and that’s saying a lot, because I normally don’t like dine in the same restaurant twice.

Alta
64 W 10 St
New York, NY

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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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4th of July Weekend

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BBQs and 4th of July are synonymous to me, so I was happy to attend my friend’s BBQ and enjoy bacon-wrapped mini sausages, chicken wings, salmon steak and grilled peaches. We also had a wonderful white frosted cake with red trim, and a blue flower. Inside was layered white cake with chocolate frosting in between, which was so darn delicious (however, a bit overly sweet)!

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We enjoyed several different street fireworks displays and the next day I prepared to go camping at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania with a group of people.  I had a wonderful time. Once again, there was soo much food… I had salmon on top of fennel and sprinkled with thyme. There was also marinated ribs, jerk chicken, steak, sausage, corn, yams!

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Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful, despite the rain from Friday night and we took a hike through the forest and along the waterfalls. There were trees and green plants, babbling streams, bridges, and more- Such a charming scene in nature. But by far the most magnificent, most glorious creations were the many waterfalls… Some were small, while others spanned the distance of entire boulders. They were absolutely breathtaking and I enjoyed being in the presence of such beauty, taking in the refreshing spray of the water and the sound of the water streaming down.

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After the hike, we decided to head to the beach where I enjoyed being in the lovely water and just chilling in the shade, making conversation and having ice cream.

beach

Back at the campsite, we started preparing dinner and this time I learned how to make a new delectable tasting dessert. Take a banana, split it length-wise, add a caramel piece, Reese’s Pieces (or chocolate + peanut butter), marshmallow pieces, wrap it all up in tin foil and put it atop the fire for a few minutes until everything is melted together in a wonderful gooey mess. Yes, it is over indulging, but it is so worth it!

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I had a great 4th of July weekend and hope you did as well!

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