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Winter Restaurant Week 2014

Winter Restaurant Week has now passed, but here is a  sampling of restaurants I tried this time around. Let’s begin with lunches…

City Lobster

City Lobster

Appetizer: Lettuce wedge salad, complete with cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy onions, bacon, and bleu cheese. Even though I’m not a huge fan of ice berg lettuce, I really liked the toppings.
Fish and Chips were great. The cod was extremely flaky and I would have liked slightly more crispy but the French fries were spot on.
Profiteroles (large cream puffs) with coffee ice cream and chocolate on top. This was delectable. The coffee ice cream inside complements the full sweet chocolate flavor.
Service: Good.
City Lobster
121 W 49 St
New York, NY



Appetizer: The warm pecorino fondue w/ acacia honey, hazelnuts & pepperoncini, as well as 4 long pieces of crostini, was out of this world amazing— I love the creamy taste of the thick pecorino cheese. The honey and pine nuts worked well with the cheese, while the crunchy crostinis were the perfect accompaniment.
Lumache Pasta Bolognese. The pasta was cooked al dente and the ragu with the sauce worked together beautifully. I would have liked a little more cheese on it, but overall was a solid choice.
Chocolate peanut butter pie with honey roasted peanuts was yummy. It was light, and had chocolate mousse as well as slight peanut butter flavor. The honey roasted peanuts added a layer of deliciousness.
Service: Very competent and friendly wait staff.
900 Broadway
New York, NY

Now, onto the dinners!



Starter: Cheesy bread was amazing. We were only given one piece, but I definitely could have had many more.
Appetizer: Garlic shrimp with foccacia bread. The garlic shrimp was extremely flavorful but had some specks of hot pepper so was a bit spicy. The foccacia bread was disappointing, as it seemed to be just regular bread.
Main: Salmon with butternut squash and brussel sprouts was good. The sauce was enjoyable and I liked the crispness of the salmon.
Dessert: Bread pudding with caramel sauce and bananas were okay. It wasn’t bread pudding in the traditional sense, but the pieces were still quite moist and I liked the sauce.
Service: Pretty good
165 Alllen St
New York, NY



Appetizer: Spinach fettuccine with braised duck leg ragu made with tomato jam and carrots. This was well done- Wonderful pasta with plenty of meat.
Main: Braised pork osso buco with risotto Milanese and gremolata was mouthwateringly good. The risotto had a robust flavor and the pork osso buco was perfectly tender and came off the bone easily.
Dessert: Chocolate with apple crisp was light and delightful.
Service: Attentive and thoughtful
462 Broadway
New York, NY

Brasserie 8 1/2

Brasserie 8 1/2

Amuse-bouche: Chestnut soup had a nice flavor to it.
Appetizer: Consommé de Boeuf – Short Rib Consommé, Ravioli, Parsnips, Black Truffles
Side: French fries were so good, with just the right amount of crunch.
Main: Filet Mignon – Petit Filet, Potato Croquettes, Espelette Pepper Bearnaise
At first, my filet mignon did not come with the potato croquettes but they made up for it by giving me an extra one. The petit filet itself was delicious enough on its own… Perfectly tender, flavorful, but would have liked more of the sauce. The potato croquettes were decent, but I preferred the French fries.
Dessert: I was able to try both.

The tarte au citron (Meyer Lemon Tart) was pretty good. There was a strong lemon flavor and it was both tangy and sweet. I enjoyed the crust, however did not discern the taste of thyme scented honey and the crème fraiche was tasteless.

Macaron – Vanilla Macaron, Valhrona Chocolate Ganache, Hazelnut Ice Cream
I enjoyed the macaron more. The French Macaron was large, dusted with powdered sugar and had the perfect consistency and chewy texture. The Valhrona chocolate ganache was rich, creamy, delicious. The hazelnut ice cream was very tasty as well.

Service: Not the best and had a long wait time in receiving our meals. We received a plate of mini treats to make up for it: Sea salt caramel macarons, raspberry cookies, biscotti and mini chocolate chip cookies. All of the sweet treats were wonderful, especially the macaron and chocolate chip cookie.
Brasserie 8 1/2
9 West 57 St
New York, NY

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Benihana Birthday Dinner


I received a $30 gift certificate for Benihana for my birthday through joining The Chef’s Table (which is free) and had a lovely dinner at the Benihana in Monterey, California. We were seated with another group, which is usually the case at Benihana if it is busy, so it was a little cramped but still enjoyable.  I selected the Samurai Treat entree meal. We started off with a clear mushroom soup, which had a nice light flavor to it, as well as some salad.

Then, since we knew one of the waitresses, she brought over two different plates of sushi: Shrimp tempura with avocado and California roll. The shrimp tempura roll were little bites of yummyness- Slightly crunchy, drizzled with that wonderful brown sauce and great flavor. The California roll was also good, but the shrimp tempura was better.


After that, our chef, Joshua came out. He was both skilled and personable. He gave quite a show, juggling the utensils and below he is creating the chicken fried rice right in front of our eyes! He shaped the fried rice into a heart and started making it look like it was moving, while flicking the lights on and off. That was pretty awesome. The fried rice was very tasty, with slightly browned chicken, along with onion and other vegetables. There was great flavor and everything combined together wonderfully.


Then, the chef started on the meal, cooking the zucchini, onion, mushroom and shrimp. He cooked everything with butter and used a couple of different sauces. He served the shrimp first – There were two different types. One was colossal shrimp grilled with lemon and butter and the other was a smaller size shrimp that tasted just as good. The shrimp was juicy, succulent and very flavorful. As for the vegetables, he stacked up the onions to look like a volcano and poured water over it so that it looked like it was erupting. The vegetables tasted fresh with a soft texture.


The filet mignon, grilled to perfection, completed the meal. It was melt in your mouth tender, rich with flavor and full of deliciousness! I also really liked the teriyaki beef julienne. The teriyaki sauce was divine- The right combination of sweet and salty, and the beef was also incredibly tender. And I loved the sauce so much that I would’ve loved it to coat the filet mignon!


Our meals came with ice cream, so I chose rainbow sherbet which was a beautiful bright pink and came with a cute little candle. The sherbet was okay, but a little too sweet. I also got to try the green tea ice cream, which was lovely and light. The staff at Benihana did their traditional birthday routine: Singing Happy Birthday in Japanese while drumming. then leading the Happy Birthday song in English.










This was a wonderful meal…. Quite the visionary and culinary experience!


136 Olivier St + NYC Midtown location
Monterey, CA

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An Evening with Comedian Lewis Black

lewis black_rant 2013

I headed to the Theatre at Westbury in Long Island to meet up with a friend to see Comedy Central star, Lewis Black on tour (The Rant is Due). Lewis Black is known for his “comedy style, which often includes simulating a mental breakdown, or an increasingly angry rant, ridiculing history, politics, religion, trends and cultural phenomena.” We got to the theater early and found our seats.


It wasn’t too long until Lewis Black’s comedian friend John Bowman came up to do his bit. He was great- Weird, fun, cynical and played these cool twisted songs.

lewis black_2013

After that, the man of the hour, Lewis Black came out to thunderous applause and his first comment was, “I wish I was going to the show that all of you are making so much noise for!” Lewis Black was hilarious– He definitely made me laugh and I loved that he could back up what he was talking about, making compelling points about the absurdity of our world, whether it was social security, government, Obamacare, TV in the old days, Facebook, congress, business, and so much more.

I was in stitches hearing about his experience with signing up for Facebook and then Spotify through Facebook. Also when he discussed the difference between “dumb” and “stupid” as well as Democrats and Republicans. Or when he went on and on about social security and long division, proving how it’s impossible to figure out. And when he likened ADD medication for children to speed and discussed how we all have ADD & cannot focus on just one thing anymore. The list goes on… I had such a great time seeing Lewis Black perform and it was well worth the travel to Long Island.

Afterwards, my friend and I were trying to find a nice spot for dinner. We stopped in at Frank’s Steakhouse but the waitress was rushing us to order because the kitchen was closing and was quite rude about it, so we decided to take our business elsewhere. We ended up finding a Ruby Tuesday, and we were not disappointed. The food was delicious and the service excellent.

I started off with the “Tropical Sunrise” drink, which is a blend of mango, pineapple, and O.J. shaken with ice and served with a splash of grenadine and a cherry. It was pretty good. I liked the bits of mango mixed in with the drink and loved the tropical fruit flavors together.


As for the food, my friend and I shared the crispy coconut shrimp appetizer which was very tasty. For my meal, I chose the New Orleans seafood, which consisted of creole-seasoned tilapia topped with sauteed shrimp and a rich, creamy Parmesan sauce. This also came with two sides. I chose rice pilaf and the salad bar option. I really love the salad bar because you can create your own deliciously healthy salad… I added mushroom, peas, onion, tomato, sunflower seeds, edamame, peas, cheese to my salad, along with a bit of pasta salad, apple salad and potato salad. It was almost a full appetizer in itself!


Then my entree came and it was wonderful. The tilapia was flaky, tender, nice flavor and the shrimp in the Parmesan cream was divine. The rice pilaf was decent– Maybe could have been seasoned a bit more but still pretty good. Of course I had to take most of it home, and it was just as good the next day.


Last, my friend and I shared an amazing peanut butter brownie with topping of caramel spread, with chocolate and caramel sauce mingling around the brownie. It was delectable… Very rich, deep peanut buttery flavor with the chocolate and undeniable taste of sweet, sticky caramel.


I had a wonderful night in Long Island… Top notch, hilarious entertainment by Lewis Black & John Bowman and a delicious dinner at Ruby Tuesday!

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Camping in the Jersey Wilderness

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to do some camping with a bunch of friends in the New Jersey wilderness, more specifically at the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation — the largest park of the Morris County Park System and encompasses 3,200 acres of wilderness with over 20 miles of multi-use trails.

Soon after arriving and after pitching our tents, a few of us decided to take a hike through the neighboring woods. We first came across a lovely lookout point just 15 minutes from our campsite, which gave us a great view of hills, valleys, sky and soaring hawks…


As we continued on our journey, we ended up taking the Pine Swamp Loop, following the teal (mostly) trail. We happened across beautiful streams snaking through the trees — At several points we had to cross over bodies of water.


There was even a cute, charming wooden train — Perfect for a child to climb and pretend that it’s real! My inner child wanted to run to the train and do just that. My adult self took a break and refueled myself with trail mix and juice. We continued and reached the Highest Point in Morris County, which was 1395 Feet/ 425 Meters Above Sea Level. Granted it didn’t feel that high, and thankfully it didn’t require a lot of steep climbing.

I enjoyed being in the woods, one with nature. There was a wild, stark beauty and a multitude of thin, bare trees…


After the hike, we returned to our campsite and enjoyed some snacks then took a quick trip to nearby Jefferson Dairy for Homemade Ice Cream. I chose the peanut butter based ice cream with chocolate brownie pieces, which was amazingly creamy & rich. I also tried some of the Pistachio which had a delightful, more subtle flavor.

Soon after, we started preparations for dinner which was quite a feast! There was bacon wrapped shrimp, skewers of shrimp & pineapple; skewers with zucchini, mushroom, peppers; hot dogs, chicken & pork burgers,  sausages; tilapia with dill sauce, vegetarian options: Lentil salad, corn on the cob, potatoes.














And of course there were the ingredients for making S’mores. And cake, cookies for dessert. After eating, we sat around the fire keeping warm and talking, telling stories, playing “Would You Rather” and just generally enjoying each others’ company.

After midnight, some of us hiked to nearby Lookout Point to do some stargazing and see if we could spot any meteor showers… It was lovely, perfectly quiet and wonderful to bask in the wonder of the night sky: The moon, constellations and stars.

The next day we prepared a hearty breakfast: Pancakes, bacon, blueberry muffins, bread and cheese, orange slices, and tea/coffee. Delicious!


I had such a sweet adventure camping at Mahlon Dickerson Preserve in the Jersey Wilderness, with a great group of friends and look forward to more camping (definitely when it’s warmer out, so as not to freeze in my hot pink sleeping bag!) in the near future.

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