Born in Virginia and raised on the mean streets of Garden City, Long Island, I’ve learned to appreciate any type of cuisine from a late night burrito and tatcho’s to a tasting menu and wine pairing. I’m a bit of an adventurer when it comes to food and am always up for an eating challenge where I can find one. I may or may not have eaten sixteen chili tacos to become “The Taco Queen” of a small hole in the wall Mexican eatery. I also couldn’t help myself from ordering whale in Oslo (please don’t tell Green Peace) and can’t resist a zany menu choice.
A writer and performer, I like to pair my meals with a good play and you can find my reviews on New York Theatre Guide. Baking is a guilty pleasure and I’m constantly preparing confectionaries with surprises inside. I hope one day to compile all my recipes into one called “Get Stuffed”.I’m looking forward to the next culinary adventure I carve out and sharing them with you. I may just need to create an entire series devoted to “did they really just make this Asian/Mexican/Korean/Italian fusion a food truck?”. Cheers!
Now that 2018 has sprung upon us like a vast beacon of hope; I have some time to sit and reflect upon the trip I enjoyed over the holidays. A journey filled with contemplation, history, a Christmas Town and, of course, booze.
On our way to Colonial Williamsburg, we made sure to make a stop off at Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. Open since 1770 and frequented by such rock stars as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson-it’s a beautiful and genteel experience. Surrounded by candlelight and antique art, you are escorted back in time.
I headed down to Pennsylvania to catch The Three Musketeers in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival playing now through August 6th. It was a spirited evening of Muskateering which turned out to be a super funny and well produced show. Anyone in the area should swashbuckle over to the PA Shakes Center at DeSales before they close and be sure to bring a bottle of wine and picnic for outside beforehand- there’s a lovely seating area to partake in. You shall notethhhh be diappointedettthhhh (see what I did there)
Of course, all of this theater-ing made me hungry and I headed back to Bethlehem, PA which I had visited on the holidays a couple of years back. This time, I fully experienced the quaint Celtic eatery McCarthy’s which was definitely way more than we bargained for.
The first notable item to catch my eye on the menu was the House Made Banana Whiskey. They had a ginger version too but how could I say no to banana? I feel like the minions could get really into this. O-M-G…..SO GOOD. I want a bottle. Seriously, I want a bottle….but that would be bad news.
If anyone out there has heard of Whole 30, they know it’s gauntlet thrown down at your social life when you decide to take it on. It is mostly paleo, definitely gluten free, and also bears a host of other restrictions because it’s supposed to show you what foods you are allergic to. Did I mention no drinking? YUP. Here’s a more comprehensive understanding of the plan.
Megan: Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend one of the most insider food experiences that anyone in the industry could wish for… Summer Fancy Food Show. Here, vendors from around the world journey to the Javits Center to peddle their wares to bloggers, restaurants, and distributors. Move over Costco, the free samples at this place are bringing all the bloggers to the yard.
Happily, fellow NYC GOF-Foodie, Marcie and I were able to attend together. Here’s our take on the epic and always classy Fancy Food Show, Summer edition.
Bare in mind, I attended this while on Day 23 of the Whole 30 diet, so my perspective was super focused on what I was able to actually put in mouth while sauntering up and down the endless aisles.
Marcie: Running a bar program, I’m always looking for fun, new exciting products to use in cocktails. I’m also on a hardcore gluten free paleo diet, and it’s great to see how many cool and delicious options there are now!
Marcie: First, we started at the Calabria Di Gusto booth, and sampled some amaro and amaretto. All spirits are coming from Calabria in Italy. My favorite was the Vecchio Amaro del Capo. It’s a beautiful spirit distilled from sugar beets and 29 herbs and spices. And they were kind enough to send me home with a bottle, and I made an incredible Negroni with it!
One of the most exciting stops on my trip this time around was The American Visionary Arts Museum. Lauded by CNN as one of the best museums in the country this quirky, wonderful oasis features creations from self-taught artists and calls upon some of their favorites from all mediums to talk about FOOD! That’s right; I spent a delicious afternoon navigating the halls of AVAM learning and experiencing unique installations about our favorite topic. NOMS.
Upon entering this food phantasm, the walls are lined with some of the cheekiest confessions about how people counteract our cultural relationship with how much we acceptably eat, order, or what we clandestinely desire. If you’re familiar with Post Secret-they offered some of their most bizarre and fun food confessions as the four featured below.
Is this my Uncle? No, seriously, I think this might be a self-portrait.
Willie decked out in corn kernels.
Yes! The Swedish Chef is really one of my personal heroes THE SWEDISH CHEF made entirely out of The Easter Candy Peeps. He-a’ll nefer cetch oune-a ouff Gunzu’s fefurite-a cheeckens. Bork Bork Bork! Yes, I found a translator. And yes, absolutely waste the next ten minutes of your life using it. (more…)
Sure, I drank my way through Market Street, but surely, I wasn’t done. There is so much more of the Philly food landscape that’s ripe for exploring. To work up an appetite though I had to do a little sightseeing first. That brought me to The Franklin Institute and The Jurassic World exhibit. ROAAAAAR, real monsters, and The Eastern State Penitentiary.
The Eastern State Penitentiary is a pretty baller landmark to visit on a beautiful day. Using an audio tour, you weave in and out of its hallways, peak into Al Capone’s luxury cell, and get to take the tourist photo from atop the loft looking down a dark corridor. I accomplished all three and even got to work on my tan in the prison yard.
They had some pretty neat art installations on exhibit. This in particular by Cindy Stockton Moore entitled “Other Absences,” showcased the victims of the inmates, hanging their photos from the ceiling of a corroding jail cell. I emerged triumphant, having experienced my very own Shawshank Redemption, falling to my knees and staring up at the sky my head turned slightly, and I looked across the street noticing a charming eatery cobbled out of an old firehouse.
The day could not have been more perfect, and the warm April air joined us for our nosh. The large doors of the converted firehouse are left open when the weather is just right allowing diners inside to get a glimpse of the historical landmark and the gorgeous day.
I have journeyed back to the historical land that is Philadelphia to further explore the city and its many food offerings. First stop was National Mechanics, a spot I hit up last time but while researching the ‘hood discovered that, during brunch, it has its very own DIY Bloody Mary Bar. I mean… how can I not? This eatery is unique, utilizing old wooden church pews for booths and showcasing fun bug collections, mounted bison skulls, and cute displays of plants.
Philadelphia – the land of liberty, lovers, and a hands-on Ben Franklin Museum that will leave you tapping screens like a two-year old with a head cold. Journeying to Old City Philly this holiday, I couldn’t help but notice it was beginning to look like way more than cheese steak. With restaurant upon restaurant lining the cobblestone streets, it’s hard to know where to spend a spirited Christmas meal – but I think we made some excellent choices on our patriotic path of digestible freedom.
Christmas Day is a relative ghost town in downtown Philly, except for a few restaurants that remain open. I’m so used to NYC with tourists lining the streets on holidays clutching their bags of Magnolia cupcakes and Nintendo Store swag that it never dawns on me it’s possible for businesses in OTHER cities to be closed. Given our limited selection we still managed to stumble on a fantastic place for lunch called The Plough and the Stars, an Irish pub that boasts the best soda bread for miles. Every customer gets their own piece of brown bread and soda bread, very well made palate cleansers that make you full once the actual meal arrives… happily full, of course!
To start, we ordered their aptly named “Christmas Salad,” a spirited array of beets, goat cheese, pine nuts, and arugula. The appetizer pasta I ordered went full bore with the ravioli. A meal in itself, the pasta were well cooked and seasoned.
I’m a sucker for holiday prime rib (medium rare!) and when I noticed it written on their special Christmas menu, I had eyes for no other entrée. It is said the Irish know their meat and potatoes and this upscale pub proves that tenfold. The Plough and the Stars is a land of well made breads, meats, and dranks – I highly recommend a visit. Within walking distance of many of Old City’s landmark attractions, including Christ’s Church and Independence Hall, it’s a wonderful choice for both lunch and dinner, or just a wee pint between touristing.
After a viewing of the film Jackie (because what says Christmas more than Natalie Portman in a biopic about the day of JFK’s assassination?) we ventured to Red Owl Tavern. Our stomachs only craved a piece of pie but when our eyes noticed they had a two-day holiday pop up paying homage to A Christmas Story, with the Chinese menu as seen in the film, how could we say no? All of my nostalgic pleasure centers were at attention when we stared at each other, understanding THIS MOMENT was what doggy bags were created for.
We opted for the duck confit steam buns and short rib ramen. I nervously eyed the entire duck that was served to my dining neighbor and sighed that I thankfully did not order that. They kept up the beautiful charade by serving my vanilla ice cream (courtesy of Franklin Fountain Ice Cream & Sorbets) in a Chinese take-out box… color me enchanted. I swoon over generalized nerdery!
The Chinese food was delightfully tasty, and with a waiter rocking a David The Gnome ugly Christmas Sweater the spirit-o-meter was high. Suffice to say……we holiday’ed like we hath never before. What was left after all this debauchery and touristing? Making a pop art portrait of the two of us, obviously!
Never trust me with phone apps-I’m as smitten as a six-year-old with an Etch-a-Sketch. If you happen to roll through Old City Philadelphia, stop by either of these gems on a holiday or just a Wednesday. You will not be disappointed.
I think I’m turning Japanese; I really think so, or at least I did when I attended the Sunday, October 24th evening of the Food & Film Festival titled “Eat Japan.” I had the pleasure of discovering The Food Film Festival last year while rampantly googling-food festivals, NYC. I know you’re sitting in awe of my very elaborate process. I searched in hopes of finding some interesting places to explore and share with Girls on Food. However, finding Food & Film was like finding myself halfway through a Judy Blume novel….it just fit.
After eating my way through BBQ and the food porn party at last year’s festival-“Eat Japan” was the next logical step in this foodie’s adventure toward cinematic grandeur. I was lucky enough to have fellow GOF’er Marcie Andersen come with, and thus the shenanigans ensued.
We’ve expertly crafted the side head tilt while sampling products by Lumpia Shack; Filipino-inspired cuisine. Above we are proudly holding Truffled Mushroom Lumpia. It has a crispy exterior similar to that of a spring roll nicely complimented by the flourish of truffle mayo on the top.
Pictured here is their Bistek and Onions Sushi, a playful elevation of a favorite Filipino dish. What I found astonishing about this dish was the mesh quality of the onion creating a different taste profile. I had the chance to chat with the chef, Neil Syham, who explained he pureed the caramelized onions at a high temperature to achieve the incredible consistency.
Also present was The New York Distilling Company who already had my heart with their aptly named Dorothy Parker American Gin. Men will surely make passes at girls who wear glasses after a few sips of Suntory. Allen Katz, one of their team and one of the nation’s leading experts on distilled spirits and cocktails was on hand to make his signature drink showcasing this Japanese Whiskey.
The mysterious chef who chooses to go by “Chef Nigo” rose to popularity this past summer when doing a pop-up Ramen Lab in NYC. He chooses not to disclose his identity, wearing this signature mask while he works, so that the diner can focus on the food and not on the chef behind it.
For the after party, Chef Nigo made a specialty tsukemen not served in any of his eateries. With the gravy broth mentioned in the film This is Tsukemen directed by George Motz, the dish was rich, delicate, and delicious and topped with a succulent cut of pork belly.
The winner of the evening, audience and festival selection alike was “SAKURADA” Zen Chef. It tells the story of the Japanese chef, Mr. Isuzu Sakurada who awoke to cook the best soup and became a 2-starred Michelin Chef in Kyoto. The filmmakers were on hand to accept their awards and no-you’re not hallucinating, one of them dressed in a Pikachu onesie.
Mr. Sakurada has since closed his restaurant and keeps his recipes a secret as is customary in Japan. However, he was kind enough to call an NYC colleague and have them make us a dish. This Nama-Fu Tempura & Sake by Kajitsu was light and flavorful.
And after the films, we feast! Check out some of the food and frivolity from our adventure.
I don’t think I even began to skim the surface of the amount of mochi floating around both before and after. This rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape. Upon the first bite, my initial reaction was “oh, this is a Japanese gummi.” One of the films Pounding Mochi with the Fastest Mochi Maker in Japan
Dir. Great Big Story, demonstrates the manpower and ceremony with which Mochi is made.
One of the events sponsors, The Billion Oyster Project geared toward restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor and educating about the restoration of our ecosystem brought along these gorgeous oysters to sample. A bit briny but perfect and shucked on site.
The Food & Film Festival made me laugh, almost cry, and probably gain two pounds and for all of those reasons around the end of October, New Yorkers should keep their eyes peeled for this amazingly edible event. With so many different themes and foods, it will leave you wanting for nothing. Be sure to save your gym membership.
As Thoreau once said, I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately…..and to sample wine. ALL OF THE WINE. Ok, maybe I added that second bit, but I imagine that’s what he was thinking. I had the pleasure of traveling the back roads of Windham, NY with my father and happened upon some new local treasures.
After traversing The Windham Path, our first, stop was Higher Grounds. This laid back coffee, breakfast, sandwich shop has some wonderful options for people looking to stay healthy. I sampled their Garden Goddess served with feta cheese, tomatoes, spinach and you can add avocado if you’re feeling frisky. It doesn’t hurt that when you look out the window, you’re staring at a mountain. Also, they had peppermint coffee, and I’m a sucker for peppermint coffee. Keep your eye peeled on their specials; they like to switch it up.
After a morning hike, we decided to get a closer look at some of the towns finer grapes. Situated off the main road a piece is The Windham Winery, a local establishment featuring a $20 tasting that doesn’t disappoint.
Their tasting menu has an excellent assortment of choices. Different and unique was their Diamond wine, a grape that is not frequently used because it has to be worked with individually and carefully. The owner is very present and walks you through all of his wines. He’s laid back, personable- he makes this an experience you won’t forget!
I only do wine tasting in my finest Ron Jon surfer trucker hat, an obvious class act as I taste intricate wines in this refined hiking ensemble. Their Vino is on the sweeter side but never left my cheeks in cartoon pucker. It has an at home, laid back feel. You’ll find yourself staying longer than the time you expected because you can’t stop petting the dog and leisurely staring out toward the beautiful mountain vista.
Next stop – Ze Windham Wine Bar. A cozy little locale on the main street of town.
This quaint family operated business has a lovely array of wine and beer alike. My father is traditionally a bud light drinker but was pleasantly surprised by one of their options, the Berliner Weissbier. I squealed with delight that I managed to get Papa Lohne to try a brew that had a decorative decal #familygoals. Just check out the artistic craftsmanship on this bottle.
Father proudly holds his maiden voyage of a beer that isn’t handed out for free at intramural sporting events.
One of the owners, Cordelia, poses artfully for me in her native wine habitat. I highly recommend Ze Windham Wine Bar and not just because it utilizes Ze as a “the.” It’s charming, friendly, warm, and a wonderful place to have a glass of wine and socialize with the owners and the surrounding guests alike. While I happily sipped on a cabernet, I regretfully did not try one of their cheese plates or charcuterie boards. Suffice it to say, next time I am on a self-enforced writers retreat, I will stop by and sample a pretzel roll and pecorino cheese.
As the winter approaches and ski season is just around the corner, take a moment and visit Windham, NY. You can traverse the friendly slopes and then grab a glass of your favorite cabernet, just maybe don’t do both at once. Your not broken leg will thank you for it.
With the heat at record temperatures, what does a city gal have to do aside from fleeing the scorching NYC streets to the relaxed mountains of Upstate New York? Surprisingly, so many artisanal options are springing up in even the town of Catskill that it didn’t feel like I was too far from the foodie options of my native NYC.
Billed as a “revival restaurant” from an era where the steak was just $1.50, I’m not even sure I could get a pack of Orbit gum for that price in some Bodegas. A Polish-American has taken over the helm reinvigorating the space with charm, music, and perogies. Oh man, have I mentioned how much I love perogies? Their menu offers several exciting lunch dishes including a Happy Hour from 4 pm-6 pm that features all kinds of $4 treats. You can go wild at the price of $4 appetizers, craft micro-brew drafts, fine wines, and cocktails all for just $4. That’s less than a Subway sandwich.
I started out with their signature selection of pierogi. The sautéed the bacon, onion chutney, and sour cream is an absolute delight. They were flavorful and satisfying. You can also purchase these delectable bites to go in a frozen variety, to keep at home
Another standout choice on the menu was the Black & Bleu Flat Bread covered with grilled flank steak, bleu cheese crumbles, and caramelized onions with grilled portabella mushrooms and roasted bell peppers. A delightful and savory option, it melted right in your mouth. I can’t wait to go back to this quaint restaurant next time and try other options from this fascinating menu.
Next stop was Saratoga Springs as I took my sojourn to see Counting Crows at SPAC. When in Saratoga, one must try the local eats and my eye was immediately drawn to the cafe that resembled the big top.
The menu boasts that their burger has won awards, so I simply had to try it. After testing both the burger and mac & cheese while successfully not keeling over from a massive coronary I came to the conclusion that this eatery is really about the fun of the circus. However, if you’re seeking a lump of cotton candy and some fantastic happy hour options, then this is the place for you. I’m sure the local college kids at Skidmore make good use of this place.
I was amazed that I could order a drink at 11 am on a weekday but when in Saratoga, embrace the fight club rules of being in Saratoga. I tried the black cherry martini which tasted like an alcohol infused kool-aid. I’m not the biggest fan of sweet cocktails, but Circus Cafe had an ample list of libations for the adventurous ordered and wine drinker alike.
I loved loved loved the atmosphere. I’m a sucker for classic circus chachki’s and between the elegant chandelier, buttery movie theatre popcorn served free of cost, and the vintage Ringling Brothers signage I had a good time if not the best tasting experience of my life.
Finally, a MUST stop when in the Catskill region is Angela’s. I’ve blogged about this place before, and I can’t express how good this pizza and beer is. While unassuming looking, simple chairs and tables, a fun aspect of the dining experience are being able to see the kegs through the glass while you eat.
Here I am grasping at one of their home-grown ales the Kiskatom Brown Ale. I always gravitate toward darker beers, and this one does not disappoint. If you’re not in the mood for a drink, you can always take a growler home with you.
I went to Angela’s earlier in the day, and I stumbled upon brunch service and tried one of their “personal” brunch pizzas. This pizza is far from personal-almost the size of a regular pie, and it was out of this world. Drenched in perfectly cooked eggs and ham they have several different breakfast pizza options. You will entirely be bringing home leftovers-assume nothing less.
As the summer winds down and we transition into weekend trips upstate to see the leaves change these are three places you should stop by if you’re climbing in the car for a city escape. You can join the circus, have a taste of Poland, and gorge yourself on pizza but hopefully not all in one day.
On this day of Saturday, June 11th the year of 2016 I came….I saw….I cidered. Now, I’m not traditionally a jacked up apple juice gal but when I saw this event I thought I would give it a second chance. What with hard soda, root beer, and a plethora of other alcohol-infused delicacies making waves in the foodie universe it couldn’t hurt to see how far the cider game was expanding and innovating. Boy, am I glad I did.
My friends and I chose to attend the session that ran 12pm-3pm, which took place at The Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint. Typically, you find yourself elbow to elbow at these events. I attended a similar beer expo down at South Street Seaport where after standing on lengthy lines I exited with an awkwardly shaped sunburn and sore feet. However, the Pour The Core was delightful. There was plenty of room to move, little to no lines, and interesting cidervations that I would never have thought possible.
Did I mention that Applegate was giving out free hotdogs all day if you showed them your funky dance moves? Kettle brand potato chips pushed three bags your way including pizza, jalapeño, and smoked maple. No need to carbo load before the event, they had you covered! Check out the beautiful presentation near the Applewood truck with a gorgeous sunflower arrangement, folksy bandanas, and buttons for all!
Angry Orchard had a pretty sweet photo booth where you could pose with their iconic tree and apple insignia and walk away with this too cool for school printout. My friends all grabbed at the box of apples that they also had for the public’s enjoyment.
Due to its prominent celebrity status in the cider cannon, Angry Orchard had the most options to choose from. I was very pleasantly surprised by their Elderflower. I prefer a bit of dry bite and generally opt out of anything too sweet. It was invigorating to find ciders that spoke to that. You can visit Angry Orchard and even take a tour.
This event did not only showcase cider alone but also had a couple of beer kiosks including Long Ireland, which hails from Riverhead, Long Island, and as you can see below, Neversink showcased their Apple Brandy and Gin.
There was an entire area of jumbo games featuring Connect 4 and Jenga because go big or go home, amiright?!? Caitlin and Eric took their jumbo game of Connect 4 very seriously while I explored the Magners section. I do have to give a shout out to Woodchuck Cider’s Campfire Pancakes. It ACTUALLY tasted like a smokey campfire and I kinda really loved it. I inquired as to how they got that niche flavor and the response was they infused the cider with smoked maple syrup. Cider and syrup and camping, oh my!
If you find a Pour The Core in your area I highly recommend stopping by and redefining how you feel about that sweet, sweet, nectar of apples.