Sunday

Blue Ribbon Bakery

Blue Ribbon has definitely conquered New York City's culinary scene by way of good reliable food in comfortable spaces, with relaxed service. Of their many restaurants, Blue Ribbon Bakery is the best for brunch. It's located on a cozy street and the food is fantastic.
First, you get a delicious basket of challah bread with butter that is so fresh and delicious, you can make a meal just out of that, along side of their never ending cup of bold hot coffee. But, I also enjoyed the poached eggs on the chorizo and onion hash topped with lemon cayenne hollandaise sauce. This is heavy-nly!
The very popular Blue Benedict is toasted challah open face with serrano jam, jarlsberg cheese, tomatoes and poached eggs. I can't say enough how enjoyable and chill brunch is here, you'll see. But then again, I've yet to meet a Blue Ribbon I didn't like.
Blue Ribbon Bakery
35 Downing Street
(Downing and Bedford)
New York, NY 10014

Wednesday

Happy Annivesary Brasserie!

Restaurants seem to like to celebrate their Anniversaries in a big way! I remember when I went to Beacon's $10 three course dinner, it was great! But Brasserie in Midtown topped that; celebrating by giving a 3 course lunch on the house on September 17th. They'll host a "5 Decades of Brasserie Cuisine" five course dinner including wine pairings for $95 on September 30th. To continuing the festivities Brasserie will offer a 3 course dinner for $19.59 and a nice bottle of Bordeaux also $19.59 (year they opened) *valid after 9pm the rest of the year. Here's the MENU.

Brasserie
100 EAST 53RD ST. (between Park & Lex)
RESERVATIONS (212) 751-4840

Tuesday

Belcourt

If you find yourself wandering around in the East Village and suddenly get an urge for Oysters, head to Belcourt. This is a casual bistro with a great Oyster Happy Hour. Between 4-7PM daily, half a dozen Oysters are offered for $10, along with other Happy Hour menu items and a special $5 cocktail menu. I had a side order of fried scallions with aioli and crunchy truffle fries too. It was good! I hear their Brunch is also notable. And the staff and management is super friendly. So eat, drink and converse while you sit outdoors and watch the world go by, well at least the center of the world; Manhattan.

Monday

Num Pang NYC

Num Pang sandwich shop is exactly where I need to go get a quick fix when at Union Square. Their Cambodian style num pang also known as sandwiches are made with semolina white flour bread that are filled with creative ingredients. On this visit, I had the five spiced pork belly with pickled rhubarb. It is topped with fresh cucumber, carrots, cilantro and sauce. It's a master sandwich compilation of spicy and refreshing flavors with a crisp bite. It's a burst of goodness in your mouth. Add a cold natural watermelon juice to your order to complete the experience. Eat upstairs in the seating area or take it to-go. But try it, you'll be glad you did. I'll add pictures of the ones I try as I try them. "I'll be back!"

Friday

"The Standard Beer Garden"

Located literally underneath the High Line is The Standard Beer Garden. It's yet another addition and draw of the unique High Line in the Meat Packing District. The Beer Garden takes up an entire street corner and finding a place to sit and get drinks and table service is not difficult, so no reservations are needed. There is a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails available. They are still working on there beer selections availability, but there are plenty of cool libations to choose from on a hot New York night. Afterwards, you may want to try your hand at ping-pong since there are a couple of tables with eager opponents waiting. The crowed is mixed and the vibe is chill but trendy. It is quite interesting to sit under the High Line's concrete and beams knowing people above you are strolling. This is a great place to hang out and get a drink after your walk or while waiting for your table at the Standard Grill.

"The Standard Grill"

After drinks at The Standard Beer Garden, dinner at The Standard Grill was next. You need to make reservations since this seems to be the city's new hot-spot, where those in need to see and be seen are flocking to every night. Modelesque, tall stature women and sharply dressed men are seen there drinking and dining, seemingly having a wonderful time.
The Standard Grill is part of The Standard Hotel which was built amongst the High Line in the Meat Packing District. The restaurant is nicely appointed. There's a bar area where charcuterie can be enjoyed. The main dining room is not formal nor stuffy. The decor overall is casually chic and welcoming. There is also an outdoor terrace area on the front sidewalk weather permiting, which is perfect for dining in the Summer.
Upon sitting, the restaurant serves pickled radishes, parmesan cheese, rolls and butter. The menu is printed daily with new American fare. I decided to stick with the grilled items starting with the merguez sausage stuffed squid, which was very spicy and very good along side a glass of red wine.
Entrees consisted of the Berkshire Pork Chop with spiced salt and the Sunburst Farm Rainbow Trout with currant & pine nut relish, which was amazing; slightly charred on the outside and moist inside. Everything was grilled to perfection and came accompanied with potatoes topped with paprika aioli complements of the house.
The service overall was good even though our server did come across a bit ditsy, she also looked exactly like actress Judy Greer. A visit to the Standard Grill is a good idea, but you're going to have to work for that reservation or dine late, at least until the buzz dies down. Besides, this is the Meat Packing District, so you tend to run late.

"High Line"

The streets were paved with lemonade at the grand opening street festival of New York's newest, most interesting addition, The High Line. Target hosted the event, starting with the World's Largest Lemonade Stand. Free lemonade served from a 1,300 gallon, custom built Rosenwach water tank. It was really creative; I must've drank six cups of iced lemonade throughout the day, it was that good!


There was a kiddie area where lil' New Yorkers socialized doing crafts. As you continued down the street there were artists, inflatable sculptures and the West Side Cowboy from the Federation of Black Cowboys on his horse. There were street-level and roof-top music performances by the Hungry March Band, Zona Del Barrio and Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra. There was a postcards area where you could send someone a "Wish You Were Here!" sentiment for free, then grab a big fat refreshing wedge of watermelon.
Now, for the High Line... What is the High Line? Imagine an old eyesore railway, 30 feet overhead that has been converted into an artsy, wild flowers, walk way with the best new views of New York! That's right, the talented and innovative Friends of the High Line recycled this doomed for demolition rail road that hasn't seen a train since 1980. Now it's home to the coolest parkway, with lounging areas, walking paths, river and city views, and fashionable New Yorkers strolling about.
As you walk through the High Line you can still see some of the train tracks that have been incorporated into the design. The wild flowers that do attract a few bees are beautiful and the grassy area adds a park feel. The High Line is located on Manhattan's West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenues (currently it reaches 20 St).


As you enter the High Line you go into sensory overload since there really is so much to see, yet you are also suddenly hit with a sense of relaxation. An urban oasis!
As you proceed you approach the Standard Hotel. The Standard was built over the High Line allowing you to walk through the hotel. This is a nice area to escape from the Sun on a hot day. There are vendors selling tea and snacks, and there are a few spots to sit. As you exit this shady area, the city views are spectacular. It's a perspective of the city you've never seen. Billboards are right next to you and everything seems new. The river is in sight and so are sun seeking loungers sitting on deck recliners which rest on train wheels and tracks. Then, you come upon a descending sitting area with a window overlooking the middle of the street level, where you can watch the cars go by underneath, It's reminiscent of a glass-bottom boat. Walking the High Line, day or night is a true treat and worth a visit or five. There are many photo opportunities even for the most novice photographer (so don't forget your camera).

Thursday

"Havana Central" Times Square

It's Thursday night, you're in Times Square NYC and you're hungry. Sure, there are plenty of places you can go. Some recognizable franchise restaurants, some not so recognizable locals places. But, if you want a safe bet, that pretty much appeals to both tourists and locals alike, Havana Central is your best choice.


It's a large restaurant with a good turnover, which obviously means the food is fresh. And when it comes to Cuban food, no one wants a stinky piggy. Happy Hour is from 4pm-7pm serves $5 Mojitos, $4 Sangria and $3 beer.




At 8pm band YeraSon played, which the blondes sitting in the next table said, "wish there were room to dance!" The service is very good, with an attentive and a genuinely nice staff. The menu has traditional Cuban fare. We had the empanadas (shrimp, picadillo, and the Cuban). The Tamales in leaf looked better than they tasted; one pork one chicken.
The Oxtail was really tasty, in a savory but sweet sauce that went well with the white rice. A Cuban sandwich has ham, pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles in Cuban lard bread, hot pressed in a plancha. It's served with fried plantain chips. This is definitely one of the best Cuban sandwiches that I've had in the city. Dessert didn't really appeal to me, but I decided to buy the churros to-go. Here's some advice, don't buy the churros to-go. Other than that, enjoy!

Wednesday

Rick Bayless wins 'Top Chef Masters'

Rick Bayless at 2009 NASFT Fancy Food Show, NYC

Congratulations to Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless!

Rick Bayless was at the Fancy Food Show in New York City on June 29, 2009 at the Frontera Mexican Products booth where he made tacos. I mentioned to him that I liked the then recently aired Top Chef Masters episode where he had made Tongue Tacos at Disney. He asked me, "Have you ever had Tongue?" I reluctantly answered, YES? We both laughed, I took my taco and walked off!

Sunday

Little Italy

There was a street festival down Mulberry Street in Little Italy today. The street was a-buzz, restaurants were crowded and people seem to be enjoying themselves. After a walk down the crowded street, it was dinner time, but where to dine? So many great places to choose from, all of which seem to have great salesmen infront trying to get you to "sit..eat" and "you're standing infront of the best Italian restaurant and you're just looking?" and "good food, good prices, big portions!"
Finally chose to eat at Il Piccolo Bufalo and it was a good choice. There are many brick oven pizzas to choose from and pasta specials for $8.95. We shared the small Del Piccolo Diavolo pizza topped with hot capocolla, hot sausage, hot peppers, the fried calamari salad and the Pennette Filetto di Pomodoro pasta dish which has prosciutto, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese. Stay away from the carafe of house wine, it is horrible. You are better off ordering a bottle. Afterwards.....

There really is only one place I want to have dessert when in Little Italy and that's Ferrara. Ferrara has been serving up Italian desserts in Manhattan's Little Italy since 1892 and is always a favorite for tourists and New Yorkers alike. It was crowded, but we scored a table and were promptly served. A trio of mini desserts and an espresso later, and it was time to go. Tutto Bene!

Saturday

Isabella's


Isabella's on the Upper West Side is wonderfully located on a corner street, perfect for people watching and near the Museum of Natural History. It's a large restaurant with an outdoor seating terrace, and a great brunch spot. Plus, the brunch menu is really good and budget friendly. I had a wild mushroom and cheddar cheese omelet which came with tasty home fries and a melon slice, add a cappuccino and you are gearing up for a great day!

Friday

Rosa Mexicano

Rosa Mexicano restaurant serves "upscale, modern and authentic Mexican cuisine." It does! On my recent visit I experienced red carpet treatment. I was promptly greeted upon arriving, and chose to sit in the bar area to enjoy a delicious yet expensive $14 Margarita and a Negro Modelo beer in a frosty glass. I would prefer if the Margaritas were served in a Margarita glass instead of an Old-fashioned glass, because I'm just touristy like that. My reservation was honored on time even though the restaurant was very busy, and we were seated at a comfortable table upstairs.
The server introduced himself, and then of course we ordered their famous guacamole prepared table side, and enjoyed watching the art of guacamole making. (I think I can do it!) The guacamole is served with fresh, warm, salty tortillas chips and flour tortillas for rolling. Then, the very cordial and amicable floor manager Anthony came by to see how everything was, and suggested tasting some of his favorite dishes. Which are very good indeed!
Flautas de Pollo/Rolled Chicken Tacos, three rolled crispy chicken tacos topped with salsa pasilla de Oaxaca, salsa verde, queso fresco and crema, and the other,
Zarape de Pato/Layered Duck Tortilla Pie, roasted pulled duck layered between soft corn tortillas topped with a yellow pepper habanero cream sauce.
Our entree selection was the Tablones/Short Ribs, 18 ounces of grilled boneless beef short ribs with a mestiza sauce (tomatillo-tomato-chipotle) and rajas (slow-cooked Mexican peppers). It fell apart with a fork, tender. The sauce was just spicy enough and the dish came accompanied with flour tortillas, yellow rice and refried beans making it perfect for sharing. Additional sides of sweet fried plantains topped with melted queso fresco; as well as, a side of light creamy corn complemented the meal perfectly. And then came dessert! Or, as I prefer to call it, "The Rosa Mexicano Manhattan Project". Three delicious sugar coma inducing creations that will not only impress your table, but impress the many gawker tables around you too. So, they are:
Churros en una Bolsa/Mexican Cinnamon Doughnuts, piping hot Churros shaken in a pink paper bag tableside with sugar and cinnamon and served with three dipping sauces: Mexican chocolate, dulce de leche and raspberry. Churros were just as I remembered. I think I'll be ordering these to-go from time to time in the future.
Next, was the Tres Leches de la Casa/Three Milk Cake, toasted meringue covered spongy milky cake with citrus cream and mango salsa. WOW!And last, the Oaxaca Pudding Cake with crème fraîche and raspberry pomegranate sauce. What can I say about this dessert except that it is FABULOUS! Obviously gorged after an evening of gluttonous eating, we finished with a much needed espresso; when, the server asked, "Are you all spies for Dos Caminos?" Which would have got a bigger laugh if we could only breath!