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About Bonnie Tandy Leblang

Blogger Bonnie Tandy Leblang has been covering food since before it was hip to do so! She’s penned magazine, newspaper and syndicated food columns in addition to cookbooks. Follow her on twitter @BonnieBOTB and on Instagram@BiteoftheBest and at @BonnieBOTB "I eat for a living!” is her mantra, sharing what she’s sampled so you’ll know where (or where not) to go, plus what food products and gadgets to try. For her full bio go to the about us page.

COVID Phase 2 Boucherie, Gramercy Park, NYC

We chose Boucherie on Park Avenue in Gramercy Park as they had semi-outdoor seating with glass stanchions dividing the tables. I say semi, as they had 2-tops half in and out of the cool air-conditioned restaurant. We chose one of those. Service was attentive with the server as happy as we were to be there. Like last time, we ordered the 6-0unce hand-formed dry-aged Pat LaFrieda blend burger ($12) topped with caramelized onions, aged gruyère, sliced tomato and lettuce on a brioche bun. Crunchy on the outside, steamy in fries accompanied that burger. One bite as like a bit of heaven, realizing that the city had begun to open.   [...]

By |2020-07-12T08:51:49-04:00July 11th, 2020|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Introducing Escarole + Pasta e Escarole + Escarole and Bean Soup

I was introduced to escarole by a Florida Italian neighbor of my folks. After cooking by her side for about a week, I began my love affair with this amazing veggie. This recipe (and the escarole and bean soup that follows next week)  are from that cooking orgy. Like other leafy greens, this lettuce-like veggie packs heaps micronutrients and fiber with few calories. Escarole is a relative to endive, radicchio and other bitter greens. Before using, be sure to rinse the escarole thoroughly in a few changes of water because it can be quite sandy, like leeks. For this recipe, no need to dry before using. Just leave the water [...]

By |2020-07-04T09:19:33-04:00July 8th, 2020|Entrees, Recipes|0 Comments

During COVID: Rezdôra, My First Take-Out

Rezdôra is a New York Times three-star restaurant in the Flatiron district near me serving authentic Emilia-Romagna cuisine. Before COVID, reservations were challenging. During the pandemic, the restaurant began offering take out. Having never done take-out before, I was trying to figure out timing. (Odd, I know for a New Yorker, but I either ate out or cooked.) I decided to pick up my lasagna Bolognese to bake at home ($38) midday to avoid the daily protests. I followed the directions to a tee, resulting in something inedible. When I stopped back at the Rezdôra, the chef apologized for the mistake of giving me the already cooked lasagne. He then [...]

By |2020-07-12T09:03:16-04:00July 5th, 2020|NYC Restaurant Reviews|0 Comments

Pepper Vodka (and More) from “Beyond The North Wind” by Darra Goldstein

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) When I received notice that my friend Darra Goldstein had unsubscribed from my NewsBite newsletter, I reached out to learn, "why?" and learned she wasn't unsubscribing, just eliminating duplication as she was getting it twice. During our email interaction, she had mentioned the upcoming publication of her latest book, Beyond the North Wind, another tome exploring Russian food. Darra is the founding editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. She's also the Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian, Emerita at Williams College. I was looking for a simple recipe to share. She suggested the Pear and Carrot Relish, one of her favorite easy [...]

By |2020-07-08T15:13:34-04:00July 1st, 2020|Recipes, Starters|0 Comments

Another Korean One: Bann Restaurant + All The Nathalie Portmans

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) After seeing All The Natalie Portmans at MCC Theatre on 52, we headed out to dinner at 350 West 50th Street to Bann Restaurant, a BBQ Korean restaurant in a welcoming upscale setting. The unusual show at MCC Theatre is about a family on the brink of eviction while the 16-year-old daughter dreams of a better tomorrow and interacts with her muse, Natalie Portman playing all her iconic characters. For a full review, click here. We were seated at a table with an unlit grill between us that we used to "grill" our selection of meats, poultry or fish, which of course is the quintessential dish [...]

By |2020-06-04T09:24:50-04:00June 27th, 2020|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|0 Comments

“Nostalgia on a Plate” Meatballs For My Nephew’s Recipe Book

For newlyweds, I assemble a baker's dozen favorites from my syndicated columns and out-of-print cookbooks as the start of their recipe collection. For one of my nephews, I wanted to include his grandmother's potted meatball recipe. I had taken notes watching her make those famous sweet & sour meatballs. I did make them once from those cryptic notes yet never "kitchen-tested" a written version. Having warned him of such, my insides smiled when he wrote to me after making them, "Nostalgia on a plate." (Meatball photo by my nephew.) Hilda’s Sweet & Sour Meatballs Makes 6 to 8 servings. "I’m writing this recipe from notes I had from talking to [...]

By |2020-06-04T09:24:41-04:00June 23rd, 2020|Recipes, Starters|0 Comments

Return to Donna Margherita, Upper East Side, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) After attending an event at Streicker Center, we walked across town to Second Avenue to return to Donna Margherita, a cozy Italian trattoria on Second Avenue where it was quiet enough to easily hear each other. That and service is quite attentive and friendly. Remembering their wonderful chewy crust pizzas, we ordered two: their namesake pizza — the Donna Margherita ($19) one with mozzarella, crushed San Marzano tomatoes and Pecorino cheese — and the Diavolo ($21) one that was supposed to come topped with spicy Italian sausage, not the pepperoni we were served. No complaints as the five us devoured them both. I'd recommend the Caesar [...]

By |2020-06-04T09:24:08-04:00June 19th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Favorite One-dish Meal: Jambalaya

There are as many recipes for jambalaya as there are cooks. I add chicken and andouille; you might add duck, shrimp or other seafood and different smoked sausages. My hot-and-spicy version is based on the one in my first cookbook, “Rice,” published in 1991, Harmony Books, co-authored by Joanne Lamb Hayes. We lucked out, having Harriet Bell as our editor. Make this your own by adjusting the quantities and types of ingredients. Jambalaya is my favorite dinner-party meal because I can do most preparation ahead. I do so through the addition of the broth, finishing to that point shortly before my guests arrive. While everyone is enjoying a cocktail and [...]

By |2020-06-04T09:24:03-04:00June 15th, 2020|Entrees, Recipes|0 Comments

Pappardella, Upper West Side, NYC + The Nature of Color at AMNH

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) After attending "The Nature of Color" — a new interactive exhibition that lets visitors explore the role and power of color in the natural world, in human cultures and in our personal lives — at the American Museum of Natural History, we headed a couple of blocks away for lunch. There was a chill in the air so we opted to not dine on the outdoor terrace of Pappardella, a Tuscan restaurant with friendly attentive service. We were sharing a salad and panini.  Without asking the kitchen to split each dish, they did so and plated it before serving. So take note, the photos are of [...]

By |2020-06-22T09:52:42-04:00June 11th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Saco Chocolate Chunks, A Favorite

I've had a love affair with Saco real semi-sweet chocolate chunks since I discovered them early in my career as a food editor. Actually, my affaire de cœur was with the company and its products.  I used only their  Cultured Buttermilk Blend for making pancakes as the boys were growing up. To this date, I won't make pancakes with the blend. Yes, that good. My memory has faded on how I met Ray Sanna (the son of Bartel Sanna, the founder of Saco), but I do recall what a gentleman he also was. I hear that at 74, he's still on the floor every day fixing things.  With the resurgence [...]

By |2020-06-03T13:29:54-04:00June 7th, 2020|Food & Drinks, Recommended|0 Comments

Aqua Boil, Hells Kitchen, NYC + Jagged Little Pill

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) I had no idea what I was in store for when I was invited to Aqua Boil, a casual Cajun-inspired restaurant that spotlights seafood boils, encouraging diners to get messy. We arrived at the small restaurant when it opened at 5 pm, as we had a 7 pm curtain. The restaurant had only been open a couple of months necessitating the person tending bar to search the internet to learn how to make the Manhattans we ordered! Nice service, producing a quite decent version. Everything is served in paper and utensils are plastic other than the tools for the seafood. The mostly all fish cod cake [...]

By |2020-05-27T12:23:35-04:00June 4th, 2020|NYC Restaurant Reviews, Theatre|1 Comment

Choose Your Ingredients for This Macaroni Bake

On a Zoom call recently, someone mentioned baked ziti, which sparked memories of what Connecticut soccer moms' served when feeding a huge crowd of players and parents. That thought inspired me to create this recipe. Baked ziti can be quite forgiving, allowing you to vary the kind and quantity of ingredients. For this version, I cook the pasta in the sauce, lessening the cleanup.  If you have a large enough oven-proof skillet to fit all the ingredients — with space for the pasta to expand — use that. If not, use a 9 x 13-inch pan. For meat, I used the ground pork and andouille purchased at Union Square Farmers' [...]

By |2020-05-27T12:23:24-04:00June 1st, 2020|Entrees, Recipes|0 Comments

Morrell Wine Bar, Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown, NYC + The Minutes

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) We met at the elegant Morrell Wine Bar just south of the Rockefeller Plaza for dinner before heading to theatre to see Tracey Letts in The Minutes. The Castiglion del Bosco Rosso di Montalcino, 2016 ($64), a nice red fruit dry wine, went so well the Foie Gras Torchon ($28). That dish consisted of four tiny squares of toasted brioche with a slice of patè drizzled with port syrup and sprinkled with candied walnut dust.  We shared everything, which is how I love dining! Our refreshing salad ($21) contained poached pears, candied yellow beets, chevrè and mesclun in a white balsamic vinaigrette. Nice sized portion. The [...]

River Cafe Pasta With Cloumage

Trolling online for recipes to use the Cloumage® I received from a fellow Les Dames d'Escoffier board member, I tripped over one purportedly based on an entree from the River Cafe. If you've never been, the River Cafe at 1 Water Street at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, is magical in setting, food and service. Like most restaurants, it is now temporarily closed. The lushness of the entrance is reminiscent of entering a country club. Luxurious and green. Inside affords you breath-taking views of Manhattan.  From what I had read, their tagliatelle was made with lemons, crème fraîche, arugula and Parmesan. It's simple: you just combine the crème fraîche (or substitute) [...]

By |2020-05-24T11:22:40-04:00May 24th, 2020|Entrees|2 Comments

Small French Cafe: Le Grainne Cafe, Chelsea, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) When looking for a small French or Italian cafe to dine, I discovered Le Grainne, a relaxed Parisian-style bistro on 9th Avenue and 21st Street in Chelsea with large corner windows where we were seated. Although we had very little room in this teeny restaurant, we were quite happy with having the additional window sill to place our belongings and the bread and butter once our entrees were served. Yup, that small tables. We sipped on our Sancerre Fouassier ($49) while catching up. I stared with a small salad ($6.50) with both of us ordering their poulet roti ($25). That' roasted dark meat (the thigh and [...]

By |2020-05-24T11:15:33-04:00May 20th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Shy Brothers Cloumage, A Versatile Tangy Cheese

Cloumage is made from Shy Brothers' coastal Massachusetts farm's cows' milk plus three ingredients. According to the company, their Ayrshire cows enjoy seasons of grasses and herbs influenced by the salty, foggy ocean air. They batch-pasteurize their milk to preserve its natural enzyme. In recipes, use this tangy cheese in place of sour cream, yogurt, crème fraîche, buttermilk or mascarpone. Cloumage keeps for 12 months refrigerated and one month after it’s opened. It can be baked, frozen or both. Two tablespoons contain 20 calories, 1 gram fat of which 0.5 grams is saturated and 110 mg sodium. Cloumage is available in 7 -ounce packages, plain and flavored with an average [...]

By |2020-05-24T11:11:09-04:00May 17th, 2020|Food & Drinks, Recommended|0 Comments

A Return to Agern Restaurant and Bar, Grand Central Terminal, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) Recently met some Connecticut friends at Agern Restaurant and Bar the Michelin 1-star, New York Times 3-star season-driver Nordic Cuisine restaurant that's a tad hard to find in Grand Central Terminal. While waiting for them to arrive as they were waiting at the stage door of Beetlejuice for photo ops and signature, I sipped their "Stockholm on Seneca" ($19), a combination of McKenzie Bourbon and Svol Swedish Aquavit. Once they arrived and we had perused the menu — asking our helpful waiter to explain some of the unique dishes — we ordered the bitter salad as an appetizer to share. Meanwhile, we indulged in their warm [...]

By |2020-04-29T08:28:40-04:00May 14th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

One of My Favorites: Greek-Style Rice Salad

My dear friend Amy Hoopes, president of Wente Vineyard, texted to say "I was on your blog and got inspired. We added cukes to your Greek rice salad and then paired it with Roasted Shrimp and a nice glass of Murrietas Well The Whip. Delish! ” The recipe she texted about is my Greek Rice Salad from  “Rice,” my first cookbook with Joanne Lamb Hayes. That recipe is posted here and on Parade.com. It’s one of my favorite warm-weather salads. Try it as a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats, or as a light spring or summer meal, especially when tomatoes are ripe. Serve along with some crusty bread. Here's a [...]

A Burger at Oscar’s Place, West Village, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) After being on the road, I was so in the mood for a burger and fries! I walked over to Oscar's Place, a teeny about a 20-seat restaurant that does more take-out than eat in serving only beer and wine. I was the only patron the night I went,  a Monday evening. I mention that as on Monday beers are half price with an entree. My Belhaven Scottish ale ($4.50) was perfect to wash down my Oscar burger and fries. That's an 8-ounce burger on a bun spread with their special sauce and topped with lettuce, tomato, Applewood bacon and a choice of cheese (I chose [...]

By |2020-05-12T12:19:32-04:00May 8th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

My Favorite Fudgy Brownies

With all the ingredients on the counter ready to be used, you can whip up a batch of these irresistible fudgy brownies in 7 minutes. (Plus, of course, baking time!) Now that I'm living alone, I don't make these unless I'm entertaining (a pre-COVID-19 happening!) or have room in my freezer to store them. They are that addictively good. My Supermarket Sampler cohort, Carolyn Wyman to the rescue. She offered to bake and photograph these for me. Thanks, Carolyn!  The group shot comes from a previous BiteoftheBest.com post, the close up is hers. This brownie recipe comes from my cookbook “365 Great Cookies and Brownies” co-authored with Joanne Lamb Hayes. [...]

By |2020-05-12T12:25:57-04:00May 5th, 2020|Endings, Recipes|3 Comments