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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Food Bar - NYC

Food Bar by Otarian (947 Eighth Ave @ 56th St, NYC, 212-489-3270, is a new, one stop, one of a kind sit-down shop, offering carefully sourced goods through three “food bars” within the store—the good stuff (a host of groceries and frozen foods too) may also be taken home for more familial festivities. The suitably dubbed “micro-mall” features a variety of made-to-order foods and exclusive products that are made with ingredients to cover a range of diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

Bespoke Burgers’ kitchen is all fired up with fare such as quinoa-mushroom, potato-spinach and lentil veggie burgers as well as grilled tofu, sweet potato falafel and Mexican chili wraps. Wraps and burgers may also be tailored to your taste and loaded with a plentitude of sauces, condiments, and vegetarian and vegan cheese considerations. There are a host of kitchen prepared meals too that include lasagna with roasted vegetables, pot pie stuffed with butternut squash, potatoes and fennel in an herbed cream sauce.

Moving toward dessert, Pip’s Cakery ( serves up signature gluten-free cakes, muffins, cookies and other sweet delights—the non-guilt is gleefully free of charge.

Wash it all down with another healthy fix from TBaar ( Freshly made juices, blended smoothies and brewed bubble teas are at the ready for some good sipping. Now get shopping!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

DriveThru - Upland

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete!

Baby and I went across town to Upland in Manhattan's Flatiron District for a Saturday brunch around the lazing time of afternoon, otherwise known as 2-ish. Once again, restaurateur extraordinaire, Philadelphia-based Stephen Starr (Buddakan, Morimoto, El Vez, to name a very few) has conjured up his particular, practical brand of magic, this time in a partnership with chef Justin Smillie (Il Buco, Barbuto, the Standard). Hailing from Upland, California, Smillie is now helming the cheering, Italian-laced Upland kitchen. Word of mouth indeed speaks with a gregarious tongue: I learned of Upland through a friend and by the time I raved about it separately to two others, they told me they'd already paid a great visit! My perfect trifecta was reached as I loved the atmosphere, the kind service and hardly least, the quite fetching fare. The only way is Upland!

The Quick Bites:
Pastry basket; we slathered treats such as scrumptious grapefruit pound cake and bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) with butter and jam. My favorite recipe for lemon poppy seed cake may be found here, just try subbing pink grapefruit for the juice and zest
Burrata; the creamy orb of mozzarella filled with cream was speckled here with delicate trout caviar, frizzled leeks and a drizzle of Arbequina olive oil
Hen-of-the-wood mushrooms; these toothsome, adventurous and considerably-sized bushes were lightly tossed with olive oil to create absolute delight
Estrella; chicken livers embraced a radiant pasta dish that was gently enveloped in a sauce of rosemary, sage and sherry
Smoked salmon pizza: cleverly composed with cloumage (a cow's milk type of cheese, similar to ricotta) and topped with sunflower sprouts and caper berries
Bacon; what's brunch without it?

Until Next Time: everything else on the brunch menu and return for dinner too!

Upland is located at 345 Park Avenue South, New York, NY, 212-686-1006,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Morels and Asparagus for Pasta and Soup!

This particular platter of spaghetti was too delicious to ignore so I purchased my sumptuous morel mushrooms, steamed the asparagus, sliced the garlic, minced the shallots and further set to work! Now, the dried morels that the recipe suggests are nearly prohibitive in cost, so I bought fresh instead, and they were about a quarter of the price. I substituted some dried Polish mushrooms as well, that we had on hand, to steep into my broth and then tossed the halved morels in toward the end. I love asparagus and the meaty morels all worked together admirably to make such a delicious (and fairly easy) pasta dish with a wonderful zing from lemon juice and lemon zest. As the recipe only requires the asparagus tips, what then to do with the stems? There were also morels remaining so Baby and I devised a velvety soup that I believe ought to be served chilled for an elegant opening lunch course. Save a few snipped asparagus tips to garnish your fragrant, rich, nourishing soup!

Click here for Leah Koenig's Morel and Asparagus Spaghetti recipe, adapted from!

Chilled Asparagus and Morel Soup
Serves 4 as an appetizer
8 oz asparagus stalks, steamed
A handful of fresh morels
3/4 cup cream
1 1/2 cups canned vegetable stock
1 medium shallot
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil
A few shakes of dried thyme, about 1/2 a teaspoon
A dash or two Sriracha, to taste
Grinds of salt and pepper, to taste
1 capful red wine vinegar

Except for the red wine vinegar and olive oil, throw everything into a blender, preferably a Vitamix. It's that easy! Use your intuition for personal taste; perhaps you might like to add more of the gentle shallots, or amp up the Sriracha for heat. Blend for a few minutes until thoroughly combined, and while the motor is still running, drizzle the olive oil into your soup in a slow stream to emulsify. Pause briefly and then add the red wine vinegar. Pulse several times. Chill for at least two hours, beautifully garnish with your asparagus tips and do enjoy!