Monday, January 31, 2011

National Hot Chocolate Day- Celebrate With a Remix - Serendipity 3's Frozen Hot Chocolate Recipe

Today is National Hot Chocolate Day and what better way to celebrate than with my favorite remix of the Classic - Serendipity 3's Famous Frozen Hot Chocolate. It's sweet and refreshing!

{Serendipity 3's Frrrozen Hot Chocolate}

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate
  • 6 pieces (1/2-ounce) chocolate , a variety of your favorites
  • 2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate mix  
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly add ½ cup of milk until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the room-temperature chocolate mixture and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Traif - Restaurant Review and Rockband Party

My friend Kim had been ranting and raving about this restaurant in her 'hood called Traif. 
Traif meaning non- kosher (in Yiddish)  is owned by a dynamic duo of a team, Chef Jason Marcus who is Jewish and his non- Jewish girlfriend Heather Heuser. They wanted to make their restaurant an ode to the forbidden foods in Judaism. You can see this theme throughout their menu that is filled with a bounty of pork and shellfish dishes. 

Personally, this dichotomy intrigued me since I grew up in a home where my father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic. Although in Catholicism the dietary restrictions are experienced mainly during lent, in the Islamic religion, alcohol and pork products are strictly forbidden all the time. And even though in my family we all have different beliefs, we still observe not eating any pork out of  "respect to my father". 

Traif's delectable items are meant to be shared. But don't call them tapas because they're not. It may look like a duck, walk like a duck and quack like a duck but it's not a duck. The difference between Tapas and Traif's sharing plates is size. The portions are slightly larger than your typical tapas.

Bacon Broth amuse bouche of bacon broth with chives

Autunm salad apples, cranberries, greens, bacon, maple pecans, blue cheese 

The Autumn Salad was crisp, light and delicious. The apples and cranberries added a nice element of sweetness and texture. The maple pecans brought a rustic charm. The blue cheese and the parmesan cheese shavings added a creaminess to the perfectly dressed salad. This was a satisfying salad and a nice way to start off our mini- feast.

Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare tempura eggplant, kecap manis

Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare tempura eggplant, kecap manis

OMIGOSHH!!! Let me try and describe this without drooling all over my keyboard. The only thing that comes to mind when looking or talking about this dish are cheesy pick up lines... because.. I never thought I'd ever say this but they are completely accurate descriptions of how I feel.
"Did it hurt? When you fell down from heaven?" or "Are your feet tired? Cause you've been running through my mind all day?" Sad. But true.

The Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare is in my top ten favorite appetizers of all time. The elements that make up this perfectly blended dish are succulent pieces of tuna, coated in a mildly, spicy sauce resting on top of a crunchy piece of tempura eggplant and drizzled with kecap manis. Kecap manis is a sweet soy, Indonesian sauce. It is sweetened with palm sugar and has notes of star anise, caramel and or garlic.

This incredible dish has quickly become my new favorite thing to eat! Honestly, sometimes I wish I hadn't eaten it because I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since. It has become an albatross that hangs around my neck, torturing me with its deliciousness.  All I can say is if you like food then EAT THIS!!

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe roasted portabella-­-truffle toast, fried egg

Creamy, savory, salty, those are the first sensations that you experience with this dish. The portabella, truffle toast added the most amazing earthy, grounded flavor. The cream sauce that was on top along with the fried egg that oozed its beautiful, golden yolk when you cut it, had my tongue feeling like it had been submerged in a waterfall of creamy delights. The Broccoli Rabe added a nice crunch and combined with all the other components of this dish made me feel like I was at home on a cold day, curled under a warm blanket watching the snowflakes fall.

Rock shrimp salt-­-pepper rock shrimp, sweet potatoes, pineapple, long beans 

On the outside the Rock Shrimp had a light, crunchy coating. On the inside the shrimp were sweet, and plump. The pineapples, and sweet potatoes added a sweetness and contrast in texture. The pineapple chunks were a little warm and firm. The sweet potatoes were tender and a beautiful orange color on the inside. The long beans were perfectly cooked with a crunch. And as the final touch everything was lightly coated in a midly, spicy sauce that tied the whole dish together. This dish is definitely an addictive, crowd pleaser. 

Duck Confit Lettuce Wraps banana-­-tamarind, cucumber salad

The Duck Confit lettuce wraps were good. The Cucumber Tomato salad cut the richness of the duck confit very well. The butter lettuce held up to the wrapping action and added a nice buttery, fresh after taste. The Banana tamarind was also tasty but I wish there had been more because I ran out of it quickly.

Escolar white snake mackerel, dashi broth, long beens, potatoes, tomatoes

Escolar white snake mackerel, dashi broth, long beens, potatoes, tomatoes

Chef Jason brought over a special treat for us. I suppose that's what happens when you roll with VIP regulars like Dave and Kim. Plus I was looking very L.A. in honor of the LA themed party we were heading to after dinner, so I'm sure he thought I was "somebody".

Dave has been to Traif over 75 times since it opened less than a year ago; and Kim has been there about 50 times. I must say, now I see why. I would eat there everyday if I could, especially since the menu is always changing. I just hope they don't take the Spicy Bigeye Tuna Tartare off the menu.

The Escolar was perfectly cooked as you can see in the picture above. It had a sweet flavor almost like cotton candy. The dashi broth, a Japanese broth, is the base of most soups, like miso. The tomatoes, long beans and potatoes absorbed the rich flavors of the broth and melted in your mouth, releasing all the heavenly juices. The playfulness of the Escolar and the depth of the Dashi broth played together in my mouth like a young child and his grandfather.

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

Bacon Doughnuts dulce de leche, coffee ice cream

So I must put in a disclaimer since I don't eat pork, as I mentioned earlier, Heather and Jason were super nice and substituted fleur de sel doughnuts for the typical bacon doughnuts. The doughnuts were delicious. They were fluffly and light and reminded me of beignets from Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. The Dulce De Leche caramel on top was amazingness. The coffee ice cream added a nice cold texture and rounded out all the salty and sweet flavors of the dessert.

Petits Fours small pineapple confection
Traif is incredible. It's great for families who just want to enjoy each other's company, or couples who want to go for a date night. It's also a great spot to have a party with your friends or your ritual weekly meeting. With dishes sure to please everyones' palate I think you will probably leave saying the wise adage "Everything tastes better with bacon."

After we finished dinner at Traif it was off to Kyle's going away Rockband party. The Rockband party was L.A. themed so I went for the laid back musician/actress/model/ DON"T YOU KNOW WHO I AM look.
All in all it was a fabulous dinner fit for a true rockstar!!!

Rockbanders Unite

Kyle the Host - who's moving to LA

Kicks Kim (on the left) and Aisha Foodista (on the right)

1,2,3,4 We Are T.U.S.U.Y.

Swich - Wholesome Sandwich Company - Lunch Review

{Swich Lunch Combo with Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Edamame with Mint and a Banana Lemonade}

The age old question I ask myself every week.... What should I eat for lunch?

Now I take my omnivore's dilemma very seriously and as a result I know most of the lunch and dinner spots around my work very well.

 Swich - The Wholesome Sandwich Company, I had heard really great things about this healthy sandwich chain that had been popping up all around NYC, and I decided it was time to try it for myself.
 I walked in and must admit I was overwhelmed with the amount of choices. Do I pick from one of their sandwich specials or do I create my own? Do I want a sandwich or salad? After stuttering back and forth over my choices and holding up the line for a good few minutes I chose my lineup.

Spicy Chicken on a Ciabatta Roll with Spinach, Tomato, Swiss Cheese, Mayo, and Honey Mustard. 

{Edamame with Mint}

My sandwich also came with a small side of edamame, which was both salty and refreshing from the chiffonade of mint mixed in. They also had a Banana lemonade that looked really good. The employees were ranting and raving about it.

All in all I have no complaints about Swich. If you're looking for a decent and healthy spot to get a sandwich then I would definitely try this place. Also their Banana Lemonade is rockin'. It has the sweetness of a typical Southern Lemonade with an added sophistication from the banana.

104 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 488-4800

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Food For Thought - Magnolia Bakery, Phaal Curry, and Vanilla Shrimp Review

When I look back at some of the dishes I have eaten, memories come rushing back of my friends, relationships and past love. Memories forever ingrained in my sensual psyche. 

Magnolia Bakery - Friendship with a Dash of Stalkerness

In autumn, my best friend Meredith and I would go to Magnolia Bakery, which was a block away from her house. 

We would wait in line with anticipation, hoping by the time we got through those glass- paned, white wooden doors, that our favorite flavors were still standing beautifully there for us. My favorite Magnolia Cupcake was always the pink icing with yellow cake. Meredith's was the chocolate on chocolate. 

Once we got in, we would rush over to the window sills where the cupcakes rested, select our delicate treats and place them carefully into their stiff, white cardboard boxes. When they had my fav's, I would look over at Meredith and we would laugh with such happiness, without a care in the world. Before we got to the register, we would start eating at least one cupcake, enjoying ever morsel together. Ahhhh!! The sweet taste of Success!!

As I bit into the fluffy, buttery yellow cake and licked the thick, pink frosting I could feel the first rush of sugar take over me. It pulsed through my veins like a tingily spritzer, bubbling, lithly through. This became our regular ritual that was forever changed when one day we saw the man we both wanted to marry.

He was standing in the window carefully choosing his cupcakes, with a half -smile on his perfectly chiseled face that would melt the sun. He had crystal blue eyes that flickered like a diamond as the light hit them. As he gracefully lifted his head and slyly manuevered to the cash register, his true identity was reavealed. It was Jake Gyllenhal - Jakey my Jakey!! My mouth dropped sending yellow cake crumbs to the floor. Meredith clutched my arm and without a word to each other, we instantly pursued. 

Like a lion hunting its prey, we slowly stalked just far enough not to be noticed. We passed through crooked alleyways and backstreets of the West Village. Then just outside of Intermix our friend Julie called to us. With a simple glance and non- verbal head nod, she joined in the hunt. 
Will we catch up to him? What will say if we do? What will he say? These questions raced through my mind.
The thrill of the chase excited us, sending us into a tailspin of giddiness and awe until **POOF** he was gone. He disappeared down a back alley, leaving us to momentarily reflect on our mutual stalkerness.

Brick Lane Curry House - Past Love

Now the Phaal Curry at Brick Lane Curry House reminds me of one of my past loves. Everyone warns you that you're treading on dangerous territory before you eat this curry; and you know they're right but curryosity has you. Once the charming dish arrives in front of you, you ask yourself,  Do you go down the path or do you give up and walk away?

You decide to jump in because you're different, you're daring and life is too short. It looks so intriguing resting before you, aromas that entice your nose and a beautiful plethora of colors, some you have never seen. 
The first bite touches your tongue and the spice starts to set in. It is warm at first and a little pleasurable. You're not quite sure what's happening to you or how to describe this elated feeling you have. And you love it.  It's fun and exciting. It takes you to a place where you never have been before. 
Then as time progresses it gets to be too overwhelming and spreads like a dull pain all over your senses trying to force you to submit. But you can't stop, you try and keep trying but you can't. Something just keeps pulling you in. And even when it's over, the pain still lingers, constantly reminding you of what you had.

Bonaparte Restaurant - Relationships

There is a dish at a place in Montreal, Canada called Restaurant Bonaparte that I just can't get out of my head. 

The lightly salted, pan seared shrimp and scallops in a vanilla, pink peppercorn sauce is one of those dishes that is exactly what you want and need.  Imagine the most unbelievable flavors dancing a quartet in your mouth with high jetes and pirohuettes.  While it doesn't last forever it dances a dance that you can never forget. A dance of pure harmony, pure love and celebration.

Food For Thought

All of my food memories relate back to the life I have lived so far. My food memories are filled with disasters, mistakes, love, friendships, obsession, loss and a sense of home. They bring constant reminders of a need to explore and change. And each day  I find new things to eat, and new things to love. I find new places to explore, new challenges to face and new memories to remind me that it's not the destination but the journey that's so sweet. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Best Taco in New York City at Diablo Royale Este Review

On Friday Night my friend Noah invited me to dinner at a new/ recently reopened restaurant in the Lower East Side (L.E.S) called Diablo Royale Este.

Diablo Royale is a Mexican restaurant with European influence and a Nuevo twist.  The culinary theme and cultural fusion is seen clearly in their Croque Monsieur Chimichanga dish.

{Aisha Foodista, India, Jarvis - Manager of Diablo Royale}

The décor is a unique cross between a Mexican Ranch and a 1920’s speak easy. On the main level there is a full service bar, seating , and an open kitchen. Open Kitchens are a plus in my book because you can see your food being prepared.

{Diablo Royale Bar}

{Diablo Royale Este Lower Level Interior}

The stairs to the lower level are lit with Jesus Cristo candles that kept screaming fire hazard to me, as my coat almost caught on fire a few times. But I must admit they created an ambience that was dangerously romantic. 

{Diablo Royale Antler Chandelier}

The love seats and sofas were upholstered with a mix of Mexican Falsa blankets and leather pin cushion fabric. The Mexican Falsa blankets added a nice bit of color and feminine accent to contrast the masculine details, like the antler shaped chandeliers and wooden beam ceilings.

{Diablo Royale Este Downstairs Interior}

Personally, the first time I try a new Mexican restaurant I judge it on how well they make two specific dishes: Tacos, and Fajitas. The reason why is because to make either of these two dishes takes skill, creativity, and love. 
You need the skill to make sure you don’t overcook the food and that you execute seasoning properly. 
The creativity comes in with the toppings and use of ingredients, especially with Tacos. 
The love acts as the glue holding the other two skills together. It also adds the final element in creating a great dish. I mean let’s be honest, you can tell when a dish isn’t made with love.

{From Left To Right: Grant, India, Jarvis}

My friend Grant ordered the Chicken Fajitas right away so I decided to go with the Tacos. Plus, I wanted to try a variety of their flavors. My final selections were the Ancho Tuna, Grilled Skirt Steak, and the Fried Oyster.

 {Chicken Fajitas}

    {Left to Right: Grilled Skirt Steak, Ancho Tuna, Fried Oyster Tacos}

Ancho Tuna Taco- The Ancho dusted Tuna was perfectly seared and had a wonderful peppery, fresh flavor. The guacamole and mango salsa complimented the Tuna but was a tad bit overpowered by its Star. Overall the Ancho dusted Tuna was very tasty. I bet it would be really good on a Salad too.

  Grilled Skirt Steak Taco- Parts of the Black Angus Skirt Steak were cooked medium rare, which I didn’t mind but it made it harder to eat because it was very chewy. It was served on a corn tortilla with a chipotle crema that added a nice kick. The caramelized onions and pico de gallo got a little lost in comparison to the flavors and texture of the steak. This was one of the more filling tacos but beware it’s very messy.

   {Right to Left: Fried Oyster, Ancho Tuna Tacos}

 Fried Oyster Taco- It’s funny because when I looked at the menu it immediately caught my eye, but the strange thing is I am not a huge fan of Oysters. But my favorite by far was the Fried Oyster Taco. It was a bite of genius. The other tacos were good but this was great.

If I had one word to describe the Fried Oyster Taco it would be OMIGOSH! 
My friend India hates tacos passionately. I basically forced her to eat this kicking and screaming and she loved it too. Out of all the entrée’s at the table, this was the big hit.

The Masa – Coated Oysters with their generous salt and pepper crust were crispy fried amazingness. They had the perfect amount of breading not too much that I can’t swallow and not too little that I couldn’t get a satisfying, crunchy bite. 
Then there was the tangy, lemon- cumin aioli that added the most incredible, yet simplistic addition. They could have just slapped on some sour cream but instead they used the creamy component  to impart more flavor. The lemon tantalized my tongue and lingered on the roof of my mouth. The cumin added an instant burst of spice and savoriness. 
The cucumbers and cilantro added a freshness. The plantains and sweet canela (Spanish for cinnamon) gave the final note of sweetness, which complimented the lemon- cumin aioli and rounded out the whole dish. It was truly sublime! Even if you don’t like Tacos or Oysters you will love this Taco.

If the food at Diablo Royale Este stays this consistent I have no doubt it will become a fixture on the Lower East Side Culinary scene.

Some Other Favorites 

This Tequila Grilled Shrimp Appetizer was delicious and they're not skimpy with the portions.

{Tequila Grilled Shrimp}

My Friend India ordered the Quesadilla. She said it was really good. 


My friend Noah ordered the Adobo Spare Ribs and although it was one of the tricker dishes to eat he enjoyed it. He used the half knife - half hands technique to cut into the ribs.

{Adobo Spare Ribs}

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