Archive | May, 2011

Florida Noms: Max’s Grille (Boca Raton)

30 May

 

 

When Mike and I headed to Florida for a family wedding, I was excited to see an area of Florida that I had never been in: Boca Raton.  I heard about the Rat’s Mouth as the haven of Rich Retirees.  I was a bit surprised when most of it looked like a glossed up luxury strip mall, but I tried to get past my strange distaste for all shopping quarters that are outside and tried to remind myself that when the weather is always warm, strip malls are not the same as in New Jersey.  So we parked and scoped out a place for brunch in Mizner Park. After perusing some lovely high-end stores and finding an awesome little tea and spice shop called The Spice & Tea Exchange, we stumble on Max’s Grille which had a lovely outdoor patio… in the strip mall (stop judging Sara… stop judging).  

 

As I went to take the picture of the sign, our waiter walked right into the shot and made such an awesome face that I just couldn’t crop it out.

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Then we had a lovely little friend join us, who was damn cute even without the tail.

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Mike got the smoked salmon BLT, which was fine but somehow lacking.

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I got the eggs benedict which was… not good.  Boring english muffins, bland hollandaise, tasteless spinach…

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And poorly poached eggs…

 

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But it did make for a lovely glamour shot.

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Oh well!  It filled us up, we got to eat outside in the middle of what would have been a sub-freezing day in Manhattan, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  It was fine, but I wouldn’t go back.

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10

 

 

Peter’s Rotisserie (“Since 1969”)- Hell’s Kitchen

27 May

When Peter’s Rotisserie opened up in Hell’s Kitchen, just a few blocks away (9th Ave between 42nd and 43rd), I had no idea it was anything special.  Then I started hearing some buzzing that it was “famous” and a favorite brought over from Williamsburg (Brooklyn).  So I stopped in one night, got some chicken, and decided to see what was so special.

My conclusion: Not a thing

So when my team decided to visit there for Team Lunch, I was less than enthused.  Turns out, it’s a good thing I went back.  While I am still underwhelmed by their chicken, the rest of the food has actually been quite good, and now I keep going back.

Think of it like a bumped up Boston Market.  You pick a main, 2 sides, and a roll.  Here we have some chicken with collard greens and mashed sweet potato.  I really enjoy the sweet potatoes here.  Full of flavor.

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Then the slow roasted pork with potato salad and roasted veggies.  The pork was surprisingly tender and flavorful.  And the roasted veggies are DELISH!

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The meat loaf (with white gravy), collard greens, and potato salad.  I REALLY like the meatloaf here.

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They also have awesome pink mint lemonade that they serve in mason jars.

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Overall, I have been really impressed with Peter’s, since after all, it is a fast food place, and find myself craving it often.  I recommend going with the meat loaf, roasted veggies, sweet potatoes, pink mint lemonade, and the mac and cheese (if you want to be bad.  And by bad… I mean OH so good).  It’s a good place for dine-in, take-out, or delivery.  Man I love New York.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Restaurant.com Giveaway WINNERS!

23 May

Thank you to all who entered.  It was fun to see the diverse answers in the “favorite restaurant” question.  Check out the Comments section of the post for some great recommendations!

A HUGE thank you to Restaurant.com for providing these great prizes.

So without further ado, here are the winners (with thanks to Random.org for making sweeps much easier!):

Winner 1:
Kyle W.
Comment- “Eating Gnocchi in Florence in this little back alley with my friend. I’ll never ever ever be able to recreate that experience in my whole life.”

Winner 2:
Jamie R.
Comment- “Caracas – best.food.ever.”

Winner 3:
Lillian C.
Comment- “The best dining experience to date that I have had was a kaiseki dinner in Takamatsu, Japan. The flavors were so clean and I know there will be no way for me to ever recreate it, so I guess I will just have to go back. 😉 They also had *the* best sake (it was their house sake). The whole formal setting of the meal with the waitress and owner dressed in full kimono made the meal an actual experience. :)”

Winner 4:
Dave L.
Comment- “Favorite restaurant right now is Yabu across the street from our office. Great meeting spot!”

You will all be receiving emails from me that includes your discount link.  Please come back and visit and let me know where you end up! 🙂

Happy Nomming!

Corner Shop Cafe

20 May

At a recent food event at Albert Hall Tavern, we had the good fortune of meeting the couple behindIf You Can Make That You Can Make This.  We decided to get together to try another new restaurant in the West Village, Corner Shop Cafe, on Broadway and Bleecker.

It was well decorated in an appealing and different way.

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I especially enjoyed the tin ceilings.

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First order was a cuban sandwich.

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It was good, but nothing special.

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We ordered the brussels sprouts, which sounded similar to our favorite preparation method, however, these were very dissapointing.  A little too oily, a little undercooked, a little low in flavor.

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There was also an order of grilled salmon nicoise with a poached egg.  I’m not a salmon fan, unless it’s in the form of lox, but I was told this was also just average.

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We also ordered the mac and cheese which was truffled with peas and prosciutto.  We also found this to be just average.

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Overall, I think the word “average” completely sums it up.  Great location.  Great look and feel.  Great idea.  Average execution.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

“Make Ahead Mamas” Moroccan Stew

18 May

When I left the AllRecipes.com event, I left with a bag of cut veggies, some stock, spices, and all the other ingredients I needed to make a stew.  It was so lovely to throw it all into a slow cooker and 6 hours later, I had a perfect stew with amazing flavor.  DSCF4387

Snip Snap.

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Made the “Make Ahead Mamas” concept come to life and was sooooooo good.

The recipe is very flexible, and you can add or subtract ingredients.  It couldn’t be easier.

You can find the recipe here.

AllRecipes.com PR Event

16 May

I was invited to a PR event at the Rachel Ray test kitchen for AllRecipes.com to explore their new menu planner functionality.  We also were provided lunch by Deb from the Make Ahead Mamas.

(Anyone who has been reading knows my fondness for AllRecipes.com)

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The Make Ahead Mamas is a group of women in Seattle who all get together about once per month and make meals that can be frozen for ease of dinner preparation for busy moms.  Really fun concept and their execution is as much of a social gathering as it is smart, advanced planning to keep their active families fed.

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They are featured in the AllRecipes.com video series and are making a name for themselves between the 8 “Mamas” and their 18 kids. (18!)

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They prepared Bulgogi (an alltime favorite Korean dish of mine) as well as a Moroccan Stew, which we would soon learn how to make ourselves.

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The bulgogi wasn’t just tasty, it was a healthy version.

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All the recipes were from their collection.

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I made my own yummy lettuce wraps and snacked away while learning about the Meal Builder, which is a REALLY cool function that lets you build and customize a meal plan from the AllRecipes collection.  It gives you a full shopping list and helps with timing of prep.  Genius.

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After we ate and learned, we did a hands on version of the Make Ahead Mamas where we all worked on prepping our own ingredients for stew.  We even took home our own spice blend, which is very Moroccan, very delicious, and joyfully lacking in peppers.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

13 May

I have a folio filled with recipes from my Grandmother.  I also have my own folder of recipes from over the years.  When I don’t have a recipe on hand, however, my first stop is always AllRecipes.com.  I started using the site years and years ago, before user reviews were the “it” thing, and especially liked the feedback that was left from other bakers/cooks.  A recipe can be great, but sometimes it’s nice to know if it sometimes fails, or if there is too much nutmeg for people’s tastes, or if the cooking time was too much and should be checked on often.  I’ve always thought cooking and baking is better when it’s collaborative.  (I was recently invited to an AllRecipes.com PR event where they showed us some new tools, but more on that at another time.)

When my coworker asked for White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, I definitely for a moment thought about opening up a package of my favorite Pepperidge Farm Tahoe cookies for fear that I would never be able to bake something that could taste as good as those.  But I like a challenge. I sorted through a number of recipes and decided on the one that had both white and brown sugar.  I also thought about what I liked most about the Pepperidge Farm cookies and, immediately, salt came to mind.  Macadamia nuts almost always come salty, so I had to think about whether I should add more salt or hope that the salt on the nuts was enough.  AllRecipes to the rescue! I read a few reviews that mentioned that it was too salty, so I decided adding more would NOT be a good idea.

But what is a good idea? How about taking pictures while trying to pour flour.  What you can see in this next shot is the camera being totally poofed with flour.  Oh well!

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I chopped up some delicious macadamia nuts while sampling some… for quality control purposes only, of course. (PS- Why are macadamia nuts SO DAMN GOOD?)

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Then the nuts and white chocolate went into the batter.  Quality control came out again, and turns out this batter with the nuts and white chocolate chips was just about perfection.

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Spooned onto the trusty Silpat. (If you do not have a Silpat, you are missing out. I use it for everything from cookies to roasting vegetables to toasting bread)

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Then onto the trusty 3-tier cookie rack they went.  They looked a bit under-baked (recipe said golden brown), but I had already left them in the oven for 5 minutes longer than the time, so I took them out and tried one.  Quality Control says “A+!”

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These were perfectly fluffy with a slight crisp on the outside, and the saltiness of the nuts was great in collaboration with the white chocolate chips.

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I ❤ you AllRecipes.com.

________________________
RECIPE BOX
________________________

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies III
(thank you AllRecipes.com) 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar

11 May

As far as putting two words I love in the same sentence, “chocolate” and “wine” would top the list.  Ayza opened a few years ago midtown (on 31st Street between Broadway and 5th Ave), and I have been meaning to try it.  They have embraced social media by featuring a free glass of wine for new Facebook likers and to their loyal Facebook fans, making sure another one of my favorite words, “free” would bring me in.

I was joined by a friend who truly loves and appreciates wine (while I love wine, I know a whole lot more about chocolate).  It was winter and too cold to sit outside, though they do have a little patio in front that looked lovely.

We started off with a cheese and charcuterie platter.  It was served with fresh berries, guava paste, caper berries, and toasted bread.  It was good, but nothing too special.

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We also ordered the Goat Cheese Brulee salad.  I may have to say that this is one of the BEST salads I have ever eaten.  It came with mixed field greens, toasted walnuts, marinated beets, and truffle walnut sherry vinaigrette.  The little circles of goat cheese were crisped like creme brulee which added the most impressive crunch to it.  I love love love love loved this.  I don’t think my dining companion was as impressed, but I would go back for this salad in a heartbeat.

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I would say “they had me at hello” but having chocolate covered strawberries on the menu just put this off the charts for me.  They were perfectly juicy with really good quality chocolate.

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We had a few glass of wine (all of which were decent, but nothing sensational), and then decided to end with some fun drinks.  I chose the “Love Affair” with Muscat and Orange Juice.  It was quite a lovely combination.

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My friend tried the chocolate martini.  I hate vodka, so I typically never order these, but this one was absolutely sensational.

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I really enjoyed our sampler meal at Ayza, and I look forward to being back and trying more.  That goat cheese creme brulee salad and chocolate martini are calling my name!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Restaurant.com GIVEAWAY!

10 May

I love being able to feature giveaways for my readers, but I love it even more when it’s for a product that I already use and love.  Restaurant.com emailed me to ask if I would feature a giveaway for their gift certificates.

If you don’t know Restaurant.com, you are missing out on fantastic deals.  They sell gift certificates to specific restaurants that enable you to get deals like $25 worth of food for $10 or $100 value for $40!  (They also run sales regularly where you can get it for a lot less…  They just Tweeted an 80% savings for using the code word “MOM” this weekend!).  I think it’s a great way to be able to try out a restaurant you might not have ordinarily stumbled upon.  (The gift certificates also make excellent gifts to any friends you have that love food.  One of my all-time favorite gifts, personally!).

They have over 15,000 restaurants listed in the following cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Riverside – San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Tampa
  • Washington DC
They also have guides for each of their cities (you can see the NYC guide here).
GIVEAWAY!
As for the giveaway, Restaurant.com has kindly offered a $25 gift certificate to Restaurant.com for FOUR lucky winners!
To enter, simply leave a comment on this post about the best restaurant dining experience you have ever had.  Did you have an amazing birthday dinner at one of the finest restaurants in NYC?  Did you find a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served great food for next to nothing?  Is the diner on the corner your favorite place to eat?  Tell me all about it!
You can also get additional entries for each time you tweet, Facebook, link to this post, or tell a friend to stop by and check out NYCNomNom.com.  Please be sure to let me know you did so in a comment, or you can email it to me at sara@nycnomnom.com.
I will be accepting entries until 5pm EST, Monday, May 16th.
Good luck and Happy Nomming!

My guest blog on Excellent Everyday Wines

9 May

If you are curious, you can go check out my guest blog on Excellent Everyday Wines