Big Apple Life

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A collection of posts on Life in the Big Apple along with interviews with foodie friends

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

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

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

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

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

Gnocco, East Village, NYC + A Fine Line

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) Off we went to dinner at Gnocco, after seeing A Fine Line, the documentary that explores why less than seven percent of head chefs and restaurant owners are women when traditionally women have held a central role in the kitchen. It's a tribute to Val James from her daughter Joanna James with perspectives and experiences of Chef Dominique Crenn, Lidia Bastianich, April Bloomfield, Barbara Lynch and others. After the movie, we headed to the East Village to Gnocco, an Italian restaurant spotlighting Emilia-Romagna culinary traditions The restaurant will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in July. Gnocco has a unique electronic menu, allowing you to see each [...]

By |2020-04-26T09:22:34-04:00April 26th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

WOW: Growing Scallions

While sheltering in place in my NYC apartment, I began growing veggies.  That's a tad hyperbole. I only have tomatoes and cilantro beginning to sprout and now scallions, something I just learned. Cut the green tops off scallions, leaving the root end intact that you place into water, changing every day. In less than a week, the plant will re-grow tops. WOW! This photo is after one week.

By |2020-04-18T14:59:06-04:00April 25th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling, WOW|0 Comments

Upscale Korean BBQ at Hyun, Near Koreatown, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) Hyun is an intimate, elegant Korean restaurant emphasizing barbecue with electric-grill tables for searing your Wagyu on cast iron on the edge of Koreatown. I was invited by their publicist. Oddly, they told me exactly what I could have, so if this review seems to be about the same items that other bloggers have shared — that's why. We were seated in our own private room with sliding slated doors so our server could see our progress. In the middle of the table was an induction burner that would be used to grill our Waygu beef. First, though, we started with their Chadol Jjim, steamed thinly [...]

By |2020-04-26T09:49:17-04:00April 23rd, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Roast Pork Tenderloin + Mise en Place; Juicing Lemons; Deglazing

Before starting this or any recipe, be sure to have all the ingredients on the counter. In French, this culinary phrase is mise en place meaning "set up" or everything in place. It's getting organized. Gather your ingredients, utensils and equipment and then pre-prep the ingredients (wash, peel, cut, chop, measure) before you begin. If you're missing something, you can figure out a substitute before you begin, not in the middle of cooking. Since you're heating the oven for the pork, might as well roast some veggies or potatoes at the same time. Check out: Crispy Fingerling Potatoes that can cook at the same temperature. QUESTIONS about this how to do [...]

By |2020-04-18T14:56:46-04:00April 21st, 2020|Entrees, Recipes, WOW|0 Comments

Bar Bites at The Storehouse, Chelsea-Flatiron, NYC

(Written before COVID-19 quarantine) We decided to stop in The Storehouse for a nibble after our board meeting as it was on the same block. Convenient for sure, but a noisy hoppin' bar scene. Not exactly what we were looking for but it served the purpose. We sipped one of their "Undocumented Manhattans" ($15) — a blend of Blackbush Irish Whiskey, Carpano Antica (Italian vermouth), Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao and Angostura bitters — while waiting for our sliders.   We shared the three baked mini burgers topped with cheese sauce (I would have preferred cheese!) bacon and some sauce on potato buns that were crunch as the buns were toasted [...]

By |2020-04-03T12:18:41-04:00April 12th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Golden Portuguese Bean Soup + “Taste and adjust seasoning”

When living in Connecticut, I often had a soup party.  It was the way I found to serve a large crowd during winter. I'd have soup pots spread throughout the first floor kept warm on hot plates and on the stove. Each pot was surrounded by appropriate accouterments. Guests would have a mug to sample each of the soups. This Portuguese Bean Soup was always included. It's delicious and nutritious as its chockful of beta-carotene (vitamin A). And it's even better the next day. It's based on my recipe in “Beans” by me (Bonnie Tandy Leblang) and Joanne Hayes, Harmony, 1994. As in most soups, the quantities of fresh ingredients [...]

By |2020-04-18T14:43:25-04:00April 9th, 2020|Entrees, Recipes, WOW|2 Comments

The Best Blueberry Cake + Folding

I adapted this recipe, published in "The Weekend Kitchen" by me (Bonnie Tandy Leblang) and Joanne Lamb Hayes, Harmony, 1992. It called for wild blueberries, which aren't in season now (other than in Florida), so I substituted regular ones. I find this irresistible, especially the crumb topping; so do all my friends and relatives who now make this. My son Eric began baking before he was in kindergarten with — of course — parental supervision; this was one of his favorites. Now his niece Deli, who just turned 3, assists her mom Andrea in making this additive cake. Measure out the ingredients,  let your child add each to the bowl [...]

By |2020-04-18T14:43:51-04:00April 5th, 2020|Endings, Recipes, WOW|0 Comments

Stocking Your “Pantry” During COVID-19 + Lentil Soup with Sausages

Wanting to feel both useful and helpful during this world-wide pandemic, I'm donning my RD (registered dietitian), cookbook author and former food editor hats to share shopping and cooking tips with you as we're all sheltering in place. I am also including a couple of already posted pre-quarantine and not-shared yet restaurant reviews when I send the NewsBite just for your reading and viewing pleasure. We all need diversions. To start, here's a list of what to buy at /order from the supermarket to keep on hand. Shelf-stable items (meaning they don't need refrigeration). Rice Beans and lentils (canned and dried) Grains, whole grain preferred (amaranth, barley, bulgur, farro, freekeh, quinoa, [...]

By |2020-04-05T11:29:35-04:00April 1st, 2020|Big Apple Life, Entrees, Rambling, Recipes|0 Comments

Lower East Side Quintessential Trip with Lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen

((Written and posted before COVID-19 quarantine)  It had been some time since I wandered around enjoying the tastes of the Lower East Side. I went recently with some other Dames, checking out a potential guide and tour for the upcoming LDEI 2020 Conference that's being held in NYC this October. We made some food stops before ending at Katz's deli for the quintessential New York pastrami sandwich. But I'm getting ahead of myself, At Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery (137 East Houston Street) I bought one of their classic potato knishes ($4.25) that they've been selling and using the same recipe since opening in 1890. If you're not familiar, a knish [...]

By |2020-04-03T12:16:03-04:00March 28th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|2 Comments

Fast Casual Vietnamese at Sai Gon Dep, Murray Hill, NYC

(Written and posted before COVID-19 quarantine) I had lunch at Sai Gon Dep, teeny the fast-casual Vietnamese place on Second Avenue that specialized in Pho. I went with a book club friend who lives in the hood before heading to my breast-sandwich (AKA mammogram) at Langone. We both ordered the Sai Gon Dep lunch special of one roll + Pho with either lemonade or Thai ice tea ($15). I chose the summer pork roll freshly made with grilled pork, mango strips, lettuce, fresh herbs and a fried wonton skin all wrapped in fresh rice paper accompanied by chopped peanuts and hoisin sauce for dipping. Almost a meal in itself. Rosemary, my [...]

By |2020-04-03T12:16:56-04:00March 13th, 2020|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Time Warp: Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop, Gramercy-Flatiron, NYC

Eisenberg Sandwich shop, open since 1929, was one of those places I'd heard about yet had never been. One morning after being NPO (medical lingo not eating anything) for my doctor's visit, I made a point of going there for breakfast. Outside the shop was a placard offering a $7.99 breakfast egg, cheese and bacon sandwich plus fruit or potato pancakes with coffee. I walked in thinking I had entered a time warp. The diner was empty other than two people at the long counter and a couple in the back room. I think they were regulars as I overheard their quite personal conversation with the staff. I ordered the [...]

By |2020-02-06T10:47:38-05:00March 11th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Gordo’s Cantina At Common Ground, Meat Packing District, NYC

After spending time at Apple's Genius Bar because of a small piece of metal stuck in the port not allowing me to charge my iPhone, I decided to get a quick bite to eat in the hood. I walked into Gordo's Cantina at Common Ground Bar as I had a hankering for Mexican food to find a lunch special of $10 for their enchiladas stuffed with shredded chicken, topped with shredded cheese and a well-spiced verde sauce plus an amazing cheese crisp on top! I was one of a handful of customers in the bar My enjoyment of my meal was disrupted by the pacing owner or genera manager (never [...]

By |2020-01-27T05:33:21-05:00March 5th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Grab a Drink at Bo’s Kitchen & Bar Room, Gramercy-Flatiron, NY

After a board meeting, we went around the corner to grab a drink and a bite at Bo's Kitchen & Bar Room.  The noise level was almost deafening. Okay, that's a tad hyperbole! yet we almost had to scream to hear. We ordered Old Fashioneds ($14) and some sliders to share. While waiting for our Bourbon Street sliders (3 for $16), we noticed the enticing aroma from the oh-so-close table next to us. Our neighbors Owen and Steve offered us a taste of their apps of blistered shishito peppers ($13) dusted with Grana Padano and their crispy alligator ($16) bites along with some nicely spiced chili aioli. Our three sliders [...]

By |2020-03-01T11:31:52-05:00February 19th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

A Greek B-day Lunch at Korali Estiatorio

Korali Estiatorio is located on the Upper East Side, not too far from the Cooper Hewitt museum where we planned to meet first. We had planned a celebratory lunch for our friend Karen's birthday after seeing the current exhibition. Two of us skipped the exhibition yet we all met for lunch at this upscale Greek restaurant with white-washed walls and stonework reminiscent of Cretan Islands. We each had the $28 prixe fixe 3-course menu. I started with the Marouli salad a huge portion of chiffonade of romaine hearts, scallions, and feta cheese. They had the more classic Horiatiki salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, kalamata olives and a chunk of [...]

By |2020-01-08T09:15:31-05:00February 17th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments

Overcooked BBQ at Blue Smoke, Financial District, NYC + Bombshell

After seeing  Bombshell, the Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie movie about Fox News Roger Ailes' (played by John Lithgow) sexual harassment at Battery Park theatre, we went for a bite to eat. Blue Smoke was convenient as it was literally around the corner from the theatre. I started with their tasty Oaxaca Old Fashioned ($16) made with Sombra mezcal, Herradura Reposado, agave and Angostura bitters chilled with one large ice cube. The three of us are dark meat-eaters requesting our half BBQ chicken that way ($16); it was the best of what we ordered. Our two half-orders of ribs, part Kansas City and part baby back ($17 each [...]

By |2020-02-16T16:16:52-05:00February 13th, 2020|Big Apple Life|0 Comments