Random musings on Life in the Big Apple

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

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

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

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

Lunch at Studio at the Freeland Hotel, Gramercy, NYC

I had forgotten that I had calendar issues after upgrading to Mohave. Thank goodness my friend texted that she was running late to meet me at 12:30 at Studio on Lexington. It was 12:20. No ballet for me today. I did a quick change, put on some make-up and power walked there. I found Studio a welcoming workspace and restaurant on the second floor of the Freeland Hotel. (That is the same hotel houses Simon and The Whale, a pricey restaurant I was less than impressed with.) We shared a bowl of tomato soup with a hint of basil ($8) topped with sauteed onions, split the shaved lamb on focaccia [...]

By |2019-10-15T15:51:16-04:00December 3rd, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

How Does Ed’s Lobster Roll Compare to Others?, SoHo, NYC

I hadn't been to Ed's Lobster Bar but had been to Pearl's Oyster Bar from where the restaurant spawned. You see, Ed's Lobster Bar is related to the other downtown seafood shacks. First, there was Pearl's where Ed McFarland cooked for many years. Then there was a falling out. Rebecca Charles kept Pearl's, her partner Mary Redding opened Mary's Fish Camp and Ed, Ed's Lobster Bar. About a decade ago, there was a lawsuit against Ed's for plagiarizing the Pearl restaurant concept and for stealing the recipes for his restaurant in Soho. It was settled out of court. Decided to try Ed's lobster roll for comparison, and so met a [...]

By |2019-09-24T09:04:45-04:00September 25th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Return to Harlem’s Red Rooster

On our way to a walking tour of Harlem, we stopped at Red Rooster for lunch. To start, we tried to order a bottle of bubbly rosè. I say tried as there was a mix up with the servers electronic ordering system. More than half an hour later the waitress found, opened and poured the bubbly into our glasses. Sadly after all that waiting, the rosè was at room temperature. We switched to a Sancerre ($75) that finally arrived after our food, not giving us enough time to be able to enjoy and finish the bottle before running off to our tour. Foodwise, we shared the shrimp with grits ($23) [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:17:44-04:00August 25th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|1 Comment

A Return To Union Square’s Laut for Malaysian Food

Some uptown friends came downtown for the Saturday Union Square farmers' market and suggested meeting for lunch at the Malaysian restaurant Laut on 17th Street near the square. We started with the fresh rice noodle spring roll ($9) filled with cabbage, cucumber, jicama, carrot, red pepper and lots of fresh mint, making it quite refreshing. These rolls came with a thick hoisin-like sauce. Our favorite was the well-balanced flavor of the Massaman curry served with a side of rice. This coconut milk-based tamarind-flavored stew contained onions, carrots, lots of sweet potatoes chunks, peanuts and beef.  Also good was their famous shrimp rendang ($20), a caramelized flavorful curry. We weren't as [...]

By |2019-07-26T21:08:38-04:00July 28th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Llamita, A Peruvian Bistro in the West Village

We needed a plan B. Dinner on a boat wouldn't work in the rain. That's how we ended up at Llamita, a tiny Peruvian bistro in the West Village that at that time didn't have a wine or beer license. They recently opened for dinner. Our helpful waiter detailed the unusual dishes offered on their small menu. Don't miss the diced Corvina ceviche ($20) with a bright yellow so flavorful aji Amarillo sauce that we began eating with a spoon. Yes, that tasty. It also contained large chunks of cooked sweet potato, crunchy corn nuts and crispy fried calamari. We sampled the fried yuca chips that came with the large [...]

By |2019-08-06T09:00:52-04:00July 26th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

Café D’Avignon Bakery For Lunch, Midtown, NYC

Café D’Avignon, known for their bakery products, recently opened their first standalone café in Midtown. I met their publicist there to try their fare. We sampled their freshly made pastries ($3.50 – $6), including the unusual baklava croissant and my favorite the croissant filled with almond paste. We also tried the spinach feta quiche ($8) topped with toasted almonds and a croissant sandwich filled with goat cheese, roasted tomato and spinach that I would have preferred on a baguette. I'd also recommend their breads. Café D'Avignon is a good place to stop in for a bite while shopping near Herald Square or to pick up some goodies to take home. [...]

By |2019-07-05T10:06:56-04:00July 4th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Return to Mary’s Fish Camp for a Lobster Roll + Fat Cat

I've been a fan of the lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar since my first bite. I recently was reminded that chefs Rebecca Charles and Mary Redding had once been sweetheart partners owning the restaurant together. When they split, Rebecca kept Pearl and Mary opened Mary's Fish Camp not far from the original restaurant also serving the classic roll. I was surprised to find a line outside Mary's Fish Camp before it opened on a Monday night. I'd been to Mary's before, but this time I tried the lobster roll on a mission to compare the two. Mary's is a fun small space reminiscent of a seafood house on the [...]

By |2019-05-13T12:32:53-04:00May 8th, 2019|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments

A Mezcal Tasting at Rosa Mexicano, FiDi, NYC

The mezcal tasting invite began, "Rosa Mexicano’s Master Mezcalier Courtenay Greenleaf will lead a tasting and explain how she crafted this unique mezcal – aged over two years in bourbon barrels from a 19th-century Nashville distillery." I couldn't resist heading downtown to the Rosa Mexicano location on Murray Street in the Financial District to taste this limited edition of their special Fidencio private label Mezcal from Oaxaca. Before the tasting got started, we were treated to the restaurant's famous guacamole at a buffet with many optional toppings that included pomegranate arils, bleu cheese, pepitas, chicharrones, mini shrimp and diced mango plus fresh tortilla chips. Servers also passed both mini flautas de [...]

By |2019-03-17T09:12:44-04:00February 21st, 2019|Rambling|0 Comments

A Quick Cheap Eats Lunch at Gogi Grill, Chelsea, NYC

On the suggestion from a woman in my building who had lived in Korea, I met a friend at Gogi Grill, a new Korean BBQ grab and go. Or, you can actually sit at the very few tables in the tiny restaurant for a quick bowl, burrito, salad or tacos. I grabbed one as I looked over the menu to make my choice. This is not the place for someone indecisive! I knew I was going to order a bowl but hadn't yet decided on the starch (rice, fried rice or vermicelli), the meat (beef Bulgogi, beef Galbi, chicken or shrimp) and the choice four toppings from the bakers' dozen [...]

By |2018-11-10T15:10:30-05:00December 21st, 2018|Big Apple Life, Rambling|0 Comments