The New York City Wine & Food Festival: Chelsea Wine Vault

Chelsea Wine Vault Tasting: Viva Italiano…Wines from the Boot! One of the many wine seminar conducted throughout the weekend. The connoisseurs were engaged and eager to ask questions as they became better acquainted with Italian wines and sipped, then sipped some more Prosecco, whites and reds.

New York City Wine & Food Festival: Ace of Kid's Cakes Chef Duff

Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman was all child's play as part of "Kids Get Cooking!" brought to you by Chelsea Market. Young boys and girls frosted and decorated cakes with the help of the cake master himself, while parents relished watching their finger licking kids prepare cakes just right! Duff seemed to genuinely enjoy himself. In fact, I think he had more fun than the kids. After, bumping into Duff later that evening at the Meatball Madness, (which by the way, Duff is buff and cleans up nicely!) he told me that "kids are easy" and he loves being around them, "it's these grown-up things I get nervous about." Everyone seems to love Duff, he's hot stuff, plus he bakes!

NYC Wine & Food Festival: STK Whisky Rebellion

NYC Wine & Food Festival STK Whisky Rebellion was an eye opening and whew... sound making experience. Not only did you learn about the different depths and dimensions of Whisky, but also how quickly Whisky helps make new friends from complete strangers sitting at a table, all enhancing knowledge one sip at a time. The whisky tutorial was conducted by "Whisky Professor" Steve Cole for Knob Creek. He introduced and showcased different varieties of Whisky and Bourbon, explaining the rules that apply for each to be what they are. The tasting included six selections from lightest to strongest, as well as a "Not Your Daddy's Manhattan" cocktail which was superb. This was an informative, bold notes event that, well...puts hair on your chest!


New York City Wine & Food Festival: illy Push Button House

Italian coffee company, illy brought the innovative, beautiful, eco-friendly “Push Button House” caffè to New York City. With the push of a button, a standard industry shipping container transforms into a five-room home. It was created from recycled materials by architects Adam Kalkin and Andrea Illy. It provided a perfect space for coffee talks and interviewing some of todays greatest chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Pierre Schaedelin. Truly a wonderful place to relax on Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District while enjoying an illy espresso of your choice for free. This should be here year round!


NYC Wine & Food Festival: BURGER BASH

Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival's Blue Moon Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers, hosted by Rachael Ray was everything it promised to be. It was held at the Tobacco Warehouse, Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful night to be out in the open brisk air that smelled of burgers grilling! When you first walked into the venue, the space was decked out under a huge tent; the band was playing and seating and tables were set up surrounded by beer, wine, Coke, tea and coffee stands.

As you walked further back following your nose, Hark! the angels sang! I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. BURGERS, BURGERS, BURGERS EVERYWHERE! There were rows upon rows of restaurants each with their own station representing their version of the best burger in town. After taking a second to compose myself and planning a strategy. ATTACK!


First stop, Minetta Tavern. (I'm no fool)
But wait...hey, there's Bobby Flay! Okay, side-tracked. Chef Bobby Flay was serving a Burger Palace slider creation stuffed with cilantro, potato chips and chipotle sauce. These burgers definitely had a spicy kick to them. Chef Flays burger was a big hit, everyone wanted a bite!

Then, I hit Minetta Tavern where Chef Riad Nasr was preparing his famously trendy in Manhattan, Black Label burger. A special blend of ground rib eye, skirt and brisket. He served them with duck fat fried potato chips, onion dip and a house made pickle. Yes, I had two.

Next, I went to Fatty Crab where Zak Pelaccio greeted me with a concoction shot of dark rum, Tabasco sauce, lime and simple syrup...Whew! Then, he followed-it-up by handing me his kimchi burger.

Brooklyn's Dumont Cheeseburger with fried pickles (best side)

Gus & Gabriel made a bacon cheeseburger, while Shake Shack yelled, "NO LINES NO WAIT!" Wildwood served The Big Lou Barbecue topped with creamy cole slaw and last years Burger Bash winner Katie Lee Joel served up her "grilled cheese burger" (patty melt).

Old Homestead Cheeseburger with Truffles Mac & Cheese (need I say more?)

April Bloomfield was all business under the heat lamps making the famous Spotted Pig Roquefort cheese burgers. They were cooked perfectly medium rare, the way they should be and as always, it was delicious.


Around this point in the evening, I had hit a burger wall. This feeding frenzy was closing-in on me. I had eaten too much and had not pace myself appropriately. So I had to take a minute, get an ice cold Blue Moon beer and gaze up at the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge overhead and meditate: "Ah-umm...more space in tummy...Ah-umm!"

Spike from Top Chef pulled all the stunts to get votes for his Bacon, Blue Cheese, Horseradish Mayo Burger. With his cheerleaders (literally) on hand running a mock, cheering his name and flaring "Text Spike" campaign signs; Spike Mendlesohn stopped at nothing to get his judge's award and it worked. Congratulation Spike YOU DID IT! rah-rah-rah!!!


Chef Josh Capon prepping his Lure Fishbar Burger. Their burger was declared the 2009 Burger Bash Peoples Choice Winner! The news was very exciting for Chef Capon who had a colorful speech unprepared which included gratitude, the Yankees game score, a "Let Go Yankees Chant" and just enough profanity to make it perfect!

There were so many great restaurants, chefs and burgers it was a great gluttonous adventure. Skill, endurance and training would be needed to try all the burgers, which is practically impossible. The blank stares people shared on their way out of the venue said it all. I had a Burger Blast! This is what I imagine Burger Heaven to be like!

Crif Dog made an exciting appearance in anticipation of next year's Hot Dog Hootenanny! Somebody call Joey (Jaws) Chestnut!


Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies, Coca-Cola Coke floats and the Cake Man Raven red velvet cupcakes. Also, Whole Foods gave out chocolate chip cookies to-go. There were many Food Network celebrities walking around meeting, greeting and burgering. My biggest surprise is the draw Guy Fieri has with fans. He looked like a culinary Rock Star walking around with all his body guards. My favorite chats were with Big Daddy because using "Big Daddy" in a sentence never gets old. "Hi Ming Tsai" is also fun to say!

Celebrities who stopped to chat and smile at my camara Rachel Ray, Ming Tsai, Lee Schrager, Tyler Florence, Big Daddy and Sunny Anderson, Guy Fieri, John Starks, Giada De Laurentis. Thanks Foodies!


NYC Wine & Food Festival: BACON & BLUES

The Food Network NYC Wine & Food Festival Thrillist's Bacon & Blues presented by Canadian Club hosted by Tyler Florence kicked off the weekends events at The Standard Hotel in the Meat Packing District in New York City. There was Bacon and there was Blues! Restaurants such as Gansevoort 69 served Pork Butt sliders with Candied Bacon, Areole had Bacon and Black Truffle Potato au Gratin, The Libertine made Hazelnut Crusted Smoked Pork Belly, and Bacon Wrapped Quail Dogs from Braeburn.
Balsamic braised Nueskee Bacon slab with Fried Oysters on bitter greens from The Mott

The best and most creative way bacon was incorporated into food was in the sweets department by 675 Bar. Chocolate Covered Bacon anyone? How about bacon glazed doughnuts?

The party started indoors and then ventured outdoors to the terrace at the Standard Hotel where people reveled the evenings cocktails of Canadian Club Classic Caesar which was hot and tart, in a good way. CC 12th & Soda with Lemon and CC Reserve 10 and Ginger Ale. All while the band played tirelessly. The Crooners where quite entertaining!


A Voce (Time Warner Center)

A Voce is well known and liked in Manhattan, so it was no surprise to find myself at their new restaurant at the Time Warner location on opening night. I usually give a restaurant a couple of months to settle-in and work out their kinks before visiting, but I felt confident that A Voce would have their charcuterie in a row. And with Chef Missy Robbins at the helm, they did!
The restaurant itself is located on the third floor of the Time Warner building with beautiful views of Columbus Circle and Central Park. It is a modern space decorated in an array of honey tones, and a partial open kitchen view. Service was on point and there were a lot of servers on hand to cater to your every whim. But, let me start at the beginning or actually the bar. A very cordial bartender poured me a wonderfully executed Martini 3 olives. There are certain food items on the bar menu that differ from the table service, so when I found out I would only be able to get the Bone Marrow at the bar, I wasted no time. The Bone Marrow arrived sliced diagonally with olive oil toast. I love Bone Marrow, but this one seemed a bit undercooked since it was rather red nearest the bone and a bit
chewier, I've definitely had better.
I was then seated at a nice table for two where I truly enjoyed dinner starting with the ricotta cheese and bread that is provided by the house. Then arrived the delicious Antipasti of Pancetta pork belly with fresh figs, balsamic and pistachios.
For Primi Piatti, the perfect not to be missed orecchiette with roasted pork jowl, sofrito and arugula was split in half for both of us and still was a generous portion.
Secondi was the Trota Alla Griglia trout with crispy fingerlings, bitter greens and an anchovy vinaigrette.
There are many tempting fabulous desserts like the Bombolini Alla Toscana, tuscan doughnuts with bittersweet chocolate, but having surpassed my eating limit I only ordered a cup of coffee which to my surprise came accompanied with powdered sugar dusted, honey drizzled fried dough. I guess you can't escape your fate.


Agua Dulce Brunch

Agua Dulce is a nuevo latino inspired restaurant which recently opened for brunch and I was there on their first Sunday serving. Lets start by saying that the restaurant is decked out with a cool design. Service is wonderful. They are very attentive and nice, which is exactly what you need on a Sunday. The food and drinks however need some work. Eggs... yes eggs are one of the most complicated dishes to master. And lets just say that the chef has not mastered his huevos yet! Here you see the Skirt steak & eggs winking. The Benedicto has barely present braised pork on jalapeño cornbread topped with "lightly" poached eggs with chili hollandaise sauce. On the side, I ordered the yuca home fries which were speckled with chorizo and were pretty good. I love HOT, but the Bloody Mary is spiced too heavily to be enjoyed and at $13, it's more expensive than the brunch dishes. Oh, and the coffee is weak. I won't give up on this place; I'll let them get better acquainted with their new menu and try them again soon. Until then.. Happy Brunching!


The Redhead

I've been wanting to go the The Redhead for quite a while, so tonight I ventured into this quaint restaurant for a casual dinner with great food.
At the bar there was a lot of football stats talk, but all I was concentrating on was the delectable libation that was being created before my very eyes. Meet the jala~pina made with silver tequila infused with pineapple and jalapeno peppers. I had two!
(followed by beers)
Along with some chips and onion dip, who cares what else is going on?
Of course then I had to try their famous bacon peanut brittle which was good, and warrants the accolades; but for me, I prefer my peanut brittle on a bark, from a rest stop, on a road trip to Disney World. Dinner consisted of buttermilk fried chicken with cornbread and a spinach, strawberry, almond salad, also the grilled lamb t-bones on black eyed peas with mushroom succotash and onion rings. These dishes were nicely done and was completed with a cookie brownie on-the-house to-go. mmm...
The Redhead
349 E 13th St, New York 10003
(Btwn 1st & 2nd Ave)