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Friday, February 28, 2014

Pete's Dish - February 28

What's going on in and around town!

In anticipation of Fat Tuesday on March 4th, there's a lot else going on--still, bring your beads.

Alobar (46-42 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, 718-752-6000) celebrates Mardi Gras Queens-style with a Fat-tastic Tuesday beer pairing dinner. Five courses paired with beers is $50 per person from 5:00pm until 10:00pm. Live jazz starts at 7:00pm. Chef Greg Profeta will be serving up dishes complemented by beers brewed in the Big Easy. Expect oysters with Restoration pale ale, fried okra with Spring IPA, andouille sausage with Bayou barking Turbodog, crayfish with Andygator, and finish it up with beignets and Purple Haze! 

Marco Polo Ristorante and Chef/Owner Marco Chirico introduce a new happy hour bar menu with new dishes and drinks, as well as their classics. Aperitivi include a chef's selection of cheese and salumi platters, crostini topped with speck, mozarella and fig jam as well as a tempting hanger steak with shaved parmigiano or taleggio, portobello and truffle oil. Special raw bar items include clams, oysters, shrimp, house-made meatballs and arancini. Knock it back with a Blueberry Cosmopolitan made with fresh blueberries, vodka, Saint Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, a dash of cranberry, and blueberry simple syrup. For something more bracing, put on the Black Tie made with Chivas, rum, port wine, raspberry syrup, and shaved nutmeg. Select cocktails, wines, and beer are 2-for-1. Happy hour runs Monday - Friday, from 5-7pm.  Marco Polo is located at 345 Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Go to for more info. 

The Doe Fund will host its third annual sweet: New York tasting event at The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery, btwn 2nd/3rd Streets) on March 13th from 6pm-10pm in support of NYC's homeless. Participating restaurants include Telepan, BLT Prime, Magnolia Bakery, Dinosaur BBQ, Payard Pattiserie,  Greenwich Project,  Loi, Fatty Cakes, and Commerce. Cocktail sponsors include Kopali Wines, Manon, Union Beer, Spud Vodka, Flora Springs, and NY Distilling Company. Proceeds will go to The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program which assists 1,000 individuals per day to better their circumstances through paid work, educational tools, and career development. Go to for more info.

San Francisco-based hospitality communications agency, Andrew Freeman & Co. and Hall Company, a global lifestyle and hospitality agency headquartered in New York City, recently announced a collaborative partnership, expanding their positions in the hospitality, restaurant and luxury industries. This new partnership will cover San Francisco, New York and other national and international markets.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Le Baratin Restaurant

Good French food with a side of grammar at a  great, cozy French bistro in le coeur of Greenwich Village that feels like it has been around forever!

Le Baratin
26 Greenwich Ave
212-933-1080 (btwn Charles/W 10th Sts)

A rudimentary lesson in French was certainly unexpected when we went to Le Beratin. With our waiter we discussed the etymology of bouillabaisse which when broken down from bouillir à la baisse translates to “boil and reduce.” We further went into the difference between riz (rice) and ris (brains). All of this food talk certainly perked up our appetites! I never did get around to asking what Le Baratin actually meant, although I suppose I could have asked any number of the French speaking patrons surrounding us for the translation. The little place that used to be home to the Lafayette French Pastry bakery feels like it has been around for years and is charmingly thrown together with ragtag bric-a-brac making companions with artist Mark Sehl’s fine sketches scattered about to enhance the proceedings. Just the kind of spot to secure a seat at the bar and mull over the menu with a few comfortable glasses of wine.

As we sat down at our simple table, colored by red and white checkerboard napkins, we readily acclimated to this new venture with a fizzy Kir Royal comprised of Champagne and Crème de Cassis, the blackcurrant liqueur—it was a pleasant diversion, and although we probably hadn’t had one since the 80’s, we sipped it with delight just the same. We moved on to a bottle of a crisply dry, French Sancerre that tasted wonderfully green, like draping, enveloping vines and duly suited us through the rest of our meal.

Onion soup was a rather obvious choice and didn’t disappoint, full-flavored and naturally, served in an earthenware crock cloaked with browned cheese. Chewy Escargots Persillade (that’s snails with parsley to you and me, bub) were steaming hot, garlicky and buttery delicious with a flutter of chopped parsley strewn about the little vessel. The pan-seared foie gras was only fair, a little undercooked for me and not overly flavorful. We did enjoy however the accompanying caramelized compote with Granny Smith apples and mangoes dressed in a balsamic drizzle. Fine hand-chopped steak tartare was chunky, fresh and deeply rosy pink, enlivened by minced white onions, parsley and a bracing stream of red pepper aioli.

We took to the crispy sweetbreads (thalamus glands, or the ris in question) readily enough and they were decent, surrounded by cubed carrots, squash, zucchini and peas and a smattering of thyme. We considered the Côte de Boeuf, a grass-fed rib-eye meant for two, but we found our main meat elsewhere. Medium-rare duck was a winner, served with charming bundles of verdant haricots verts wrapped in bacon! A zesty orange gastrique was a clever touch and we enjoyed the mashed potatoes with grainy Dijon mustard in an a l’ancien preparation, similar to Lyonnaise potatoes.

It was hardly a matter of much consideration to order the chilled chocolate mousse! In the midst of the creaminess, pieces of dark chocolate filled the ramekin that was outfitted with dollops of whipped cream. We did share it though, to leave our dignity somewhat intact, even as we considered ordering another one over our thoughts of returning to Le Baratin posthaste.

First published in part in Next magazine.
Photo credit: Gustavo Monroy

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Signing Party-The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery

What it means to read with Pete! What a wonderful night--thanks to the folks at Bea and Next magazine!

The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery is available now on and

Photo credit: Gustavo Monroy

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thirsty

Margaritas! Throw 'em back and do enjoy!

National Margarita Day is February 22 so relax into the weekend by celebrating with these margarita recipes from a few vacation spots beautifully situated around the Caribbean--make them at home and dream of frosty drinks in a temperate clime rather than just frigid weather. 

Frozen Tamarind Margarita (shown above)
From the Hyatt Regency Aruba
The classic Mexican cocktail is paired with a local Aruban ingredient–tamarind–resulting in this fabulous refresher.

2 oz Jimador Blanco tequila
1 oz tamarind juice
1 oz lime juice

Blend with a scoop of ice and pour into a Margarita glass with or without a salted rim.

Coconut Margarita
From Copamarina Beach Resort
Go coconuts on the beach or poolside at the Copamarina Beach Resort in Guanica, Puerto Rico with this crazy concoction.

2 oz. Patron Silver Tequila
1 oz. Malibu Coconut Rum
.50 oz. St. Germaine
3 oz. Fresh Coconut Water
Drizzle of Coco Lopez
Fresh Vanilla Bean (Scraped)
1 Fresh Lime Wedge Squeezed (to serve)

Mix Patron, Malibu, St. Germaine, Coconut Water and vanilla bean in a shaker. Pour into a glass rimmed with toasted coconut. Drizzle with Coco Lopez and squeeze in a fresh lime wedge. Garnish with a lime peel. 
From Isla Verde Resort
Creamy coconut and sour mix headline the Sirenarita at the family-friendly beachfront property, Isla Verde Resort, in San Juan which is made to order at any of the resort’s bars. Book now at

¾ oz Cream of Coconut
1 ¼ oz Tequila
1 ¼  oz Triple Sec
2 oz Sour Mix

Mix all ingredients in a shaker. Garnish glass with a slice of lime and orange. Such a delicious sip!

Rum Rita (shown above)
From La Concha Resort
At this San Juan beach hotel there is a rum version of the marg. Go to for more information. In the meanwhile, the recipe for the Rum Rita is below!

1 ½ oz Don Q añejo
½ oz Grand Marnier
1 oz Lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
Salt (rim)

Shake up all of the ingredients and pour into a salt-rimmed glass. Garish with a slice of lime and get to know the lovely Rita.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Frito Pie

Baby and I thought we would spice up our fairly frequent taco nights with an old classic, Frito Pie! We shirked the Old El Paso Taco kit this time and bought a bag of Frito's to serve as a vessel for our meat and accompaniments. We browned a pound of ground beef (lean), drained it and then put in a packet of taco seasoning. While this was happening, we chopped some green leaf lettuce (instead of iceberg, with the idea of being fancy) and simmered a can of vegetarian non-fat red kidney beans in a little water (drain those too). Once having ripped the bag of Frito's open with our kitchen shears, we poured the spiced beef over the chips, added the beans, a shredded Mexican cheese blend, dollops of fat-free sour cream, topped the whole thing with the lettuce and dug in with some ice cold beers alongside. Try this with scallions, salsa or chopped tomatoes too! Delish!

Friday, February 7, 2014


An Italian feast awaits in the lower circle of Hell’s Kitchen!

488 9th Ave (btwn 37th/38th Sts)
New York, NY

We entered Tavola to the warming wafts of pizzas briskly baked in the 7,000 pound wood-burning oven delivered all the way from Naples! The bustling, garrulous crowd seated around the center sharing table was cheerful while other lone wolves hovered over the capacious bar, content to fiddle with their blue-lit i-Phones. Owner Nick Accardi (Cola’s, Rocco’s) smoothly operates the former Manganaro’s space under a tin ceiling and lazily spinning fans as if it were his own personal dining room at home—and I suppose it is, as he convivially translates the titular Tavola to a most welcoming “table” via influences of Puglia, Sicily, Rome and Sardinia and fully explains the rustic cuisine to his guests.

A full-bodied Super Tuscan red hinted at leather and cherry notes while a white Falanghina was light and slightly frizzante. Our puffy pizza was served with a crisped crust and a soft center, Neapolitan style—what’s amazing is that in the highly heated oven, the whole baking process takes only about a shocking 90 seconds! Once the “leoparding” is achieved, creating the flourishing brown spots on the dough, the pizza is appropriately done. Cubed, braised pancetta and Brussels sprouts danced upon melted mozzarella, pungent Pecorino Toscano and whole peppercorns that relented from the heat. The steaming pie was further finished with an emerald green olive oil from Sicily, and it arrived more than ready to be devoured, although we patiently allowed it to acclimate to something more coolly mouth-ready. We asked our waiter to leave it on the table as we kept going back to it, bite by bite!

Greens were found in our Caesar salad, with crisp romaine and Parmesan Reggiano, with intermingling flavors of anchovy, lemon and parsley in the basil-infused dressing. We ventured forth with more vegetables, namely lush and salty fired-up artichokes with arugula and shavings of pointed, aged Grana cheese.

Our pick for pasta was creamy folds of pappardelle, tossed with a fit of cremini mushrooms in a rapturous veal and wild boar ragu. It would have been enough to just spend an evening alone with a huge bowl of the stuff! Brussels sprouts with pancetta and more of the Pecorino Toscano cheese were a divine torment. Brasciola was akin to a refined Italian meatloaf of sorts, stuffed with cubes of Peccorino Romano cheese and a simmering side of brown lentils that had been slowly stewed in chicken stock with a mirepoix mixture of chopped carrots, onions and celery. We playfully fought with our forks to see who would have the last bite. A thick breast of chicken alla Romana was tender and lemony delicious with the fine flavor of a grill. Sides of roasted potatoes and thick shards of artichokes were the perfect pairing.

We were, at best, ill-prepared for the outrageous handmade cannolis with shells flown in from Italy that were fried in pork fat from Italian pigs! Such a real treat with Sicilian pistachios (the most expensive in the world, but still the dessert was moderately priced at $7.50) and candied bits of oranges. Enchanting chestnuts followed, having been roasted on a seasonally suitable open fire, of course. 

First published in part in Next magazine.