Camping Foodie Style

May 24, 2013

Off to Camp Blogaway this weekend where the top food bloggers will meet for a weekend of fun, learning and networking. I’ll report back so look for my weekend recap here.  Happy Memorial Day fun and good food wishes to all.

Camp Blogaway


The Beauty of Home(made)

April 28, 2013

Dear readers:

I know it’s been several months since I’ve had the opportunity to post, and for that, I am truly apologetic. But as I know fellow foodies and their busy schedules and explorations of all the new restaurants, I also know you’ll understand as I look to get back on track. To this end, I’m writing a post that makes me feel close to home (and heart).

There is truly nothing like the beauty of homemade cuisine. Sure, you can always feel like it’s a taste of home when you’re at your favorite restaurant or delectably enjoying the cuisine that takes you to that special place, but there is nothing like being the one slaving over the stove or having someone else do it for you to really understand the beauty of true enjoyment.

I had not only one, but two recent special occasions, where a home cooked meal was prepared especially for me (the special person knows who they are). It’s one thing to already appreciate the person who is doing it for you, but there is an extra special level when the food is absolutely delicious and prepared with love. On the first occasion, I had the opportunity to enjoy a pork chop (yes, it takes a while to cook according to the special chef who prepared it for me), stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and cheese. (The sauce was a secret recipe that the chef wouldn’t share with me).  It was paired with rice and topped with an olive – check out the amazing presentation!

photo 9

The second homemade dish I had the opportunity to enjoy was a steak that was specially marinated with mushrooms (again, chef’s secret) with plantains and avocado – yum!

photo 12

After being inspired by the special chef who cooked for me, I decided it was time to get more savvy in the kitchen and I opted to take a cooking class with friend and RD, Diane Henderiks.  She hosted us at the lovely cooking studios of Taste and Technique in Fairhaven, NJ (yes, I traveled all the way out to Jersey for the class) where we learned how to make “Culinary Concoctions.”  What was great is she showed us ways to use our leftovers from Shrimp and Arugula Salad to Turkey Taco Night to Chimichurri Skirt Steak with coffee grinds from your own coffee maker – delicious!

After a successful cooking class evening, I sought to create my own dinner for the special chef and while it may not have been as fancy, it certainly still tasted delicious and left the chef satisfied, which was the best part to thank him for the culinary skills he had shared with me to enjoy.

The Art of the Cocktail: EFFEN Vodka

October 19, 2012

No, Chuck Bass wasn’t in attendance for EFFEN Vodka’s evening of cocktail mixology at Hotel Empire, but the drinks certainly were flowing as was the creativity.

EFFEN Vodka Art of Design

EFFEN Vodka welcomed food bloggers around NYC including myself to enjoy and vote for favorite concoctions from area mixologists. And these mixologists certainly had the imaginations to dream up some delicious delights including a “Smoke N’ Cherries” made with EFFEN Black Cherry and Reposado Mezcal, “The Kyoto Cocktail” with EFFEN 80 Proof and passion hibiscus tea, as well as “Cherry
Jubilee,” with Prosecco and Marischino cherries.

Laura Cruz’ “Smoke ‘N Cherries”

Perhaps the most popular part of the event was the EFFEN Cucumber Design Station in which you had the opportunity to select your pairings. I opted for the EFFEN Cucumber with lime, jalapeno and watermelon.

EFFEN Vodka Cocktail Design Station

My concoction

Each of the mixology tables had vases whereby bloggers could vote for their favorite cocktails by dropping in marbles. The winner? Read on.

The evening reception also featured a presentation with models wearing garments in the EFFEN Vodka signature colors/flavors including Cucumber, Black Cherry, and Dutch Raspberry.

I’m feeling seriously courted as in 2013, EFFEN is creating a community of social brand ambassadors, providing bloggers like me with a bunch of ways to get involved and benefit in a big way.

It was a perfect night to imbibe stellar drinks while overlooking the city.

And now for the winner?

Jhailen Puello

The Kyoto Cocktail

1.5 oz Effen 80 proof
2 oz Tazo passion hibiscus tea
1 oz Agave Nectar
Topped with sprite
Garnished with a mint spring

The other amazing cocktails:

Laura Cruz
Smoke ‘n Cherries:

1 ½ ounce Effen Black Cherry
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce Reposado Mezcal
1 egg white

Danny Neff
2 oz. EFFEN Black Cherry Vodka:
3/4 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
2 Dashes Peychauds Bitters
Shake, Strain with a Lemon Twist.

Will Peet
Scant 1/2 oz Cardamaro

1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 oz Effen Black Cherry

James Menite
Cherry Jubilee:

6 muddled maraschino black cherries,
1 1/2 oz Effen black cherry vodka,
3/4oz vanilla syrup,
1/4 oz Maraschino syrup (from the jar)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, topped with prosecco
Cherry garnish

Angry Lobster

July 17, 2012

I alluded to the fact in my previous post that I would be chronicling a couple NYC Restaurant Week adventures.  I’m pleased to report that NYC Lobster friends can rejoice as there is a great place that serves up amazing seafood and even a true Floridian Key Lime Pie that’s sure to dazzle any palatte. Yes, I’m talking about City Lobster at 121 West 49th Street.

City Lobster

Because NYC Restaurant Week afforded us the opportunity to enjoy an appetizer, main course and dessert, we certainly opted for that. I selected the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail to start while Raphael ordered the calamari.

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail


For the main course we chose the Petite Filet Mignon “Oscar” served with lump crab meat and the Traditional San Francisco “Fisherman’s Wharf” Cioppino.

Petite Filet Mignon “Oscar”

Traditional San Francisco “Fisherman’s Wharf” Cioppino

Yes, you do have to work for your food if you order the Cioppino. Hey, the “Angry Lobster” has to get its name from somewhere, right?

Angry Lobster

Angry Lobster

And after all that hard work into your seafood, you can enjoy dessert – save room for it because it’s worth it.  I chose the Key Lime Pie and Raphael ordered the Warm Peach & Blueberry Parcel. I was so absorbed in eating my pie I almost forgot the picture.  Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

Warm Peach & Blueberry Parcel

Satisfied customers!

Making Up For Lost Time: February-July Eating Adventures

July 15, 2012

Dear readers:

In an attempt to make up for the scarcity of posts you may have not seen in the last few months, I wanted to take the opportunity to catch you up on my culinary adventures.  To do so, I’ve included some of my favorite highlights from February to July to date and look forward to keeping you updated in the coming weeks including my two NYC Restaurant Week reservations. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out where! :)

In February, I started out at Bell Book & Candle , a place I had been trying to go for quite some time but found it difficult to get a reservation due to the “farm to table” trend craziness.  I mean, after all, the restaurant has its own aeroponic rooftop tower garden where they grow their own seasona produce. I thoroughly enjoyed all the delectable dishes on the menu including the caviar pancakes and filet. They keep these seasonal people, so keep in mind the menu may be different when you go.

Caviar Pancakes at Bell Book & Candle

Filet at Bell Book & Candle

Next up was Fashion Week. Of course during the week that is, you barely find a moment in time to grab something, so I spent some time hanging out with the lovely crew at the amNewYork “Fit in Fashion” Pop-Up Lounge serving Voli vodka – 1/3 less calories. Yum!  Cocktails continued at Leather Japan’s collection at Lincoln Center.

amNewYork “Fit in Fashion” Pop-Up Lounge

Leather Japan at New York Fashion Week February 2012

Of course the February adventures didn’t stop there. I ventured to Los Angeles and then onto Vegas for some amazing grub including The Grill on Hollywood, Rosa Mexicano, Tao Las Vegas and Delphine at W Hollywood.

Grill on Hollywood

Rosa Mexicano West Hollywood

Tao Las Vegas

Tao Las Vegas Sushi

Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with Wok Vegetables at Tao Las Vegas

Delphine at the W Hollywood

Omelette with Fine Herbs & Potatoes at Delphine at the W Hollywood

Tea Forte at Delphine at W Hollywood – so cool!

March and April brought foreign eating adventures including Kaia Wine Bar featuring South African cuisine and my second trip to Havana Cuba to an amazing paladar (privately owned Cuban restaurants, mostly by families) called the Doctor Cafe, local arts markets and more on a dance and music research trip.

Kaia Wine Bar grilled cheese

Parsnip soup at Kaia Wine Bar

Enjoying local fare at the artist market in Havana

Artist Market “cheers” in Havana, Cuba

Helado in Havana (ice cream!)

Doctor Cafe Havana, Cuba

Grilled Octopus at Doctor Cafe

Flan at Doctor Cafe

May and June marked closer to home with local NYC eateries including The London NYC Hotel (including a kitchen tour!), Pier 9 for amazing seafood and unlimited boozy brunch,  a very special Zacapa Rum tasting event with global women’s network 85 Broads and a Kahlua brunch with Daily Candy at Hotel Gansevoort.

The London NYC

Hannah eyeing the dessert platter at The London NYC

Kitchen tour at The London NYC

Kitchen at The London NYC

Pier 9 Brunch – Burger with Peekytoe crab

Zacapa Rum

Zacapa rum pairing with an amazing filet

Zacapa rum and scallops

Kahlua Brunch with Daily Candy

Kahlua Espresso Martini

Kahlua Brunch at Hotel Gansevoort

Kahlua brunch

And July, well, even though we’re still in the month was ushered in with fireworks for Kristian’s birthday aboard the Star of Palm Beach. More adventures to come!

Star of Palm Beach – Happy 4th!

Cuba Coming Soon

January 22, 2012

I spent a life-changing seven days in Havana (la Habana) Cuba with a very special group of researchers studying dance, music and culture. Everything was superb, including the food that’s made with no preservatives, fresh fruit juices and vegetables, and more.

Social Eating

December 11, 2011


You’re usually social (but maybe some times not if you’re typing away on your smartphone) when you’re eating and socialness is exactly the premise of this place.  I’m talking about Top Chef hottie Angelo Sosa’s restaurant, Social Eatz at 232 East 53rd Street. The restaurant opened in March so it’s still gaining a following, and if you catch it at the right time, you can still get a choice seat before it completely fills up. Since this restaurant practices what it preaches and is so socially connected on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and with Scoutmob, which offers “mobile deals fo the local curious,” upon my check-in here on Foursquare, I was able to get 50% off my entire bill thanks to them.


Described as American-Asian (very different than Asian-American) offering comfort foods with an Asian kick, the restaurant prides itself on offering a social experience and “food values” by crafting its unique, yummy dishes with the highest quality ingredients – think certified organic vegetables and humane fish and meats, as well as the fact that most will appreciate everything on the menu is $15 or less – definitely something to cheers to.

To kick off the meal, I enjoyed a White Sangria made with mango, mango seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pear. It’s a very unique take on a typical sangria, and the different flavors explode to create a drinking sensation as you’re taking each sip. However, what’s also cool about this place is that they offer seasonal sangria and a variety of seasonal drafts beer including their own Social Eatz brew.


To whet our appetite, we chose the Toga Rings which are crispy sweet onion rings sprinkled with the restaurant’s togarshi spiced salt and served with a side of spicy mayonnaise.  We also enjoyed the Edamame Fritters which feature ginger and citrus and served with a side of garlic mayonnaise (think mini falafels with an edamame flavor – yum!)


For the main course, I couldn’t pass up the Bibimbap Burger, Korean for “mixed meal” which is served with a slow cooked egg, lettuce and pickled carrot and cucumber (very spicy, but delightful). This burger has also been rated the “Greatest Burger in America” by Eater, so I couldn’t pass it up. I also enjoyed a side of the crispy fries and longevity sauce – cool!



If you like American and Asian, you’re in for a real treat. I’m still hankering to try so many things on the menu including their Crispy Spring Rolls, Mac & Cheese, Kung Pao Wow Sandwich, Korean Beef Tacos and maybe dessert if I can ever save room. Bring a friend and get social here!

“Forbidden” Japanese

November 30, 2011

Seriously, this should be forbidden it’s so good.  I’m talking about Koi at the Bryant Park Hotel at 40 W. 40th Street where I had the opportunity to eat with a friend this week.

Koi New York

Billed as “Japanese-inspired cuisine with California accents,” this takes the cake when it comes to Asian cuisine as it’s inventive, has a unique flair, and everything is downright yummy.

We started off with the Seaweed Medley Salad with cucumber in sweet vinegar, followed by the Koi Crispy Rice (a true signature) featuring spicy tuna and yellowtail tartare (yes, admittedly I got seconds), the Tuna Tartare with crispy wontons, and the Creamy Rock Shrimp.  

Seaweed Medley


Koi Crispy Rice


Tuna Tartare

As if that weren’t enough, the food kept coming with the main courses including the Seared Golden Tilefish featuring Black “Forbidden Rice” and garnished with a Sesame Tomato Relish. Fun fact: The “forbidden rice” gets its name as during the Ting Dynasty, only the king was allowed to eat it.  The color makes it rich in antioxidants so it’s not only tasty, but good for you.  Following the Tilefish, we received a new dish, the Peppercorn Filet Mignon topped with truffled mashed potatoes (at which point I could only take a small slice and long for a nap asap)!

Seared Golden Tilefish with Forbidden Rice

Peppercorn Filet with Truffled Mashed Potatoes

To complete the meal, we enjoyed a taste of the Banana Spring Rolls which oozed with chocolate sauce and are served with a creamy anglaise for dipping.  Can it really get any better? 

Milk Chocolate Banana Spring Rolls

Now you know what I’m talking about when I say “forbidden,” but you should really try it for yourself – if you dare.  Bon appetit!

2011 New York City Wine & Food Festival

October 3, 2011

It’s a foodies’ dream to have the opportunity to attend one of the biggest food landmarks of the year – the New York City Wine &  Food Festival.  Fortunately, I had just that opportunity working with one of my food clients, Welch’s, over the weekend.

New York City Wine & Food Festival

My, oh my, especially at the Grand Tasting Pavilion do they offer row upon row of food, wine and spirits available for sampling.  Some of my favorites?

  • American Express offered a VIP lounge catered by Tao and Lavo, with Tao offering a variety of selections including cucumber and spicy tuna sushi rolls, chicken satay with peanut sauce , a spicy thai dumpling soup and satay of chilean sea bass with wok roasted asparagus. Lavo provided infused cocktail selections with passion fruit and mango, among other flavors, as well as appetizers and signature sides such as its baked clams oreganato with toasted bread crumbs and butter and meatballs.

American Express VIP Lounge at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

  •  Equinox offered coconut water in real coconuts!

Equinox at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

  • Buitoni brought the spirit of Italy alive with its staged photo on their tricked out Vespa and also offered samples including their Chicken and Mushroom Ravioli and Wild Mushroom Agnolotti which you can buy in-store and prepare at home.

Buitoni at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

  •  Anolon Gourmet Kitchenware always had a line as they served up crowd-favorite mini burgers topped with carmelized onions and basil mayo.

Anolon Cookware at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

  • And Welch’s (whom I can’t fail to mention), had a photo booth vineyard, complete with fun props like purple boas, hats and purple mustaches, as well as copies of its new Taste the Harvest 2012 Guide with the good folks at Zagat, along with samples of its 100% White Grape Juice and 100% Grape Juice.  Alton Brown even paid a visit as the team coordinated media interviews with him prior.

Welch's Taste the Harvest Guide with Zagat 2012 at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

Welch's Taste the Harvest Photo Booth at the New York City Wine & Food Festival

Me with Alton Brown

  • Curious to try your hand at hosting the Next Iron Chef? (Alton Brown, here I come!) Time Warner offered the opportunity to stand on stage and announce the show and sent participants their own personal video to share with friends. Here it is!

If your mouth is watering already, you can imagine how it felt navigating this place! One Twitter-er wrote that he was trying to keep it under 4,000 calories which sums it up pretty well.  For more on the festival, visit:

What’s up next? I think Napa is in the cards.

For the Greater Good

July 28, 2011

If you’ve seen the widget on the side of my blog, you know I’m a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher and while I rarely mention “promotions,” on my blog, this one is for the greater good, whether you’re a foodie or not.

On behalf of the Foodbuzz community, the good folks over at Yahoo! are donating $20,000 to Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit working to end childhood hunger in America. How does it work?  Just click here to make Yahoo! your homepage.  For all the people who make Yahoo! their homepage Yahoo! will make an additional donation. Yes, simple as that. If you feel so compelled, of course share this with your Facebook friends, Twitter tweeps, or just plain ol’ word of mouth. 

And don’t forget to check out all the cool ways Share Our Strength is working to improve help children in America and how you can make a difference, including opportunities to enjoy the finest foods and spirts from leading chefs and mixologists across the country! Yum!


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