A bit of Italy in Eataly NYC

I had heard of Eataly but never really went there, and even when I finally did the first time, it was not on purpose.  I had come to the city that weekend to try and get some yarn at the Michael’s store in the Flat Iron District.  It was already a tad cloudy by the time I got to Manhattan and thought nothing of the slight drizzle — and then it started pouring when I got out of the subway.  (And to think I had actually considered getting an umbrella from the office but thought it wouldn’t be necessary.)  So there I was, caught in the midst of a heavy drizzle threatening to turn into a downpour when I found myself on the Fifth Avenue entrance of Eataly.Eataly NYCThe place was buzzing with a ton of tourists and New Yorkers alike, so depending on what time of the day you go in and what day of the week you choose to visit, be prepared for a throng of people.

Eataly is a marketplace and food gallery of everything Italian.  Well, of course, there’s the crepes and the gelato and all that other stuff, but you come here to shop and enjoy the gastronomic delights they have to offer, and be prepared to be ooh and aahh and burp.  (Excuse me!)
#NYCtraffic snarled in #Midtown so I landed here @EatalyNYC past 4pm to grab a #latelunch. All this for a bit of #yarn!  Might as well enjoy it, more so since it's started to rain. #SundayInNYCsolo #metime #crochetcrazy #MyFreedormCrochetProject #PerpetuaThey have several restaurants which one would do well to reserve seats for ahead, but then there’s the bar seating which is “free for all.”  As I was by my loneome self, I gamely found a bar stool and sat and excitedly looked over the menu.  I picked La Verdure because it had an almost empty bar seating and was right smack in the middle of the whole marketplace. UntitledWhile I would normally be adventurous when it comes to trying out a new restaurant, I’m also the type who would pick something I know and love and sample how they do it and compare the new adventure of the palate with what I’m familiar with.  So I went for the lasagna — the Pasta Al Forno con Funghi (Lasagna with Cremini mushrooms and Bechamel) which was pure pasta heaven!  The pasta was paper thin (literally), and the sauce tasty without being too rich.  The cremini mushrooms gave it a subtle yet different flavor and the bechamel was a perfect counterpoint to seal in the many flavors.  Definitely a ‘must try’ when it’s on the menu — and the seemingly huge portion is really just right because the pasta and sauce have been constructed to sit perfectly together sans the bulk.

 I have learned to trust the restaurants to recommend the perfect wine pairing, and while I normally wouldn’t drink with a meal, I thought I would live a little dangerously this time around just to add to the entire food experience.  I asked my server for a recommendation and he asked my preference (fruity as against full bodied and strong, I said) and he made a suggestion.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember that now but I do recall enjoying it with the food — proving yet again that it pays to ask the experts who know their wine offerings.

I enjoyed my lunch and ate leisurely — with no clock ticking and the rain pouring down now on Manhattan.  I finished my lasagna and glass of wine, determined to find a sweet ending to the meal from the dessert counters if not the Nutella Bar which I spied on my way in.  There was also Il Gelato and the many counters offering their decadent pastries and cakes, but I chose to go and see where they claimed you can “buy happiness in a jar.”

 Be warned that the seating is usually full — and there is almost always a line at the cashier to order.  It would help for you to view the menu overhead and make a decision as to what you are thinking of having before making a queu to get your guilty pleasure, lest you risk the ire of the people who are salivating for their own piece of nutella heaven behind you.

 It’s basically soft serve ice cream you can either have served in a paper cup or a waffle cone (recommended) with or without nutella (recommended) or you can go for the waffles or crepe (which I had no room for given what I just had for lunch).  You can also get your caffeine boost here if you wish, but I usually don’t grab coffee with ice cream, or with anything after noon and it was almost 4pm by the time I got to this point.  Crepes and waffles in an Italian cafe?  Well, Eataly proudly says “We know crepes are French and waffles are Belgian but Italians make them better!”  (I know of one Italian who would proudly proclaim that Italians always do it better! LOL)   Isn’t that waffle bowl just yummy?  Indulgence well deserved!  (I have a confession to make.  I have since returned to Eataly for a quick piece of Nutella heaven in a bowl during one of my forays into the Flat Iron district since.  Couldn’t resist!)

I would definitely go back another time — with or without friends in tow.  Whether it’s for another gastronomic treat or a cup of espresso, with time to kill or just a quick run through — this is one favorite spot of the Pinay New Yorker now for the many choices when you feel like enjoying a bit of Italy in the heart of the big apple.

While the crowds might be dizzying to others, I like being able to disappear into that crowd and enjoy a leisurely lunch with the rest of the world passing by me.  Perhaps when I return, I can feature the stores and the offerings that make the market place even more appealing, even when you don’t feel like getting a bite. Bon Appetit!

Eataly is located at 200 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011, accessible via the N or R subway lines (23rd Street stop) or the various buses heading towards downtown.  Once you get to the Flat Iron Building which you cannot miss, you can either look around and find it across the street or ask around.  Cafe Lavazza is open daily from 8am and Eataly market at 10am.

Of roadtrips, etc.

Vacations are things I look forward to and dread at the same time.  It’s not so much the vacation per se but the getting there.  Sometimes we fly, sometimes we drive.  Last week’s vacation was a drive to Williamsburg, VA which was probably our fourth if not fifth trip there.

This year was different because the ten-year-old now chooses to travel comfy (translated: with a pillow and blankie) and he packs his own backpack now.  (I still pack his clothes in the suitcase, though.)  And while car sickness is still a problem despite his Sea-Band Acupressure Wrist Bands, it’s a little easier to manage.

I personally pack my go-to tote which contains my journals, art stuff to bring, magazines and other knickknacks.  The sanitizers and wipes go into either his backpack or my tote, but always INSIDE the car.

Things to remember before leaving the house:

1.  Pack your chargers and make sure all handhelds are fully charged.  (You only have so many plugs to charge into in the car.)

2.  Bring drinking water and other beverages to save you from buying at every stop.  If you travel with kids who drink from juice packs, freeze a few the night before and keep it in a cooler.  You won’t need any ice to go with the drinks because the individual packs will cool the container.

4.  Don’t forget snacks.  Kids often get hungry between rest stops and you don’t want to have to stop just for food.

5.  Pack a plastic bag specifically for trash in the car and discard at the next stop or when full.

6.  If your child tends to get car sick, fold and pack several good plastic shopping bags.  Make sure they have no holes so that you don’t have to scramble with gooey drips if you happen to have the kid throw up into a bag with holes.

7.  Pack ample napkins or a roll of paper towels if you can.  You never know if you will have to clean up.

Things to remember when in the car:

1.  Make sure the seats are comfy and that your child stays buckled up.

2.  Keep the drinks in cupholders where they will be upright and will prevent spills.

3.  Use the compartments behind the seats wisely by putting items that you might need to grab in a huff like napkins or barf bags.  Keep the maps, information sheets or ticket printouts there as well.  Avoid storing bulky items that might impede movement of the passengers.

I enjoyed this particular road trip.  It was relaxing even if I had to grab a bunch of motion sickness tablets an hour into the trip at a stop, and coax the boy to down the tablet.  The good news is that it worked almost instantaneously as promised!  We did our usual stops — finding one Cracker Barrel restaurant along the way for lunch. Browsing their country store is always a trip in itself and the food is reasonably priced and satisfying.

I had the seasonal Campfire Chicken Meal which came out wrapped like the left and unwrapped to a sumptuous feast on the right.
Cracker Barrel Campfire Chicken mealCracker Barrel Campfire Chicken meal

All for $9.99!  It’s always an enjoyable experience going around their stores and eyeing the decor in their restaurants which are, uncanniliy, almost perfect repiicas of one another.

Needless to say, we did another Cracker Barrel stop on the way back.  It’s now part of our road trip routine.  Cracker Barrel branches are located off of most high way stops all throughout the United States.  If you haven’t tried it yet, just going in is an experience that should make your trip worth it.

Food Trip: Bistro Citron for Brunch

We were supposed to go to this place for our Valentine’s Day dinner, just the two of us, but thanks to the snow and all — he didn’t get back from Dallas until midday Saturday.  Since we already lost out on one day of the long weekend, we relented when Angelo said he didn’t want to be left behind, and turned it instead to a family brunch.

Bistro Citron, “a French bistro in the heart of Roslyn Village” in Long Island, is a short drive from our home in the opposite direction of the city.  This village is special because it was the same place where we got married 14 years ago.  Although we got married in the summer, seeing the town again all decked in snow and the other signs of winter was a walk down memory lane.  We didn’t quite get as far as the venue where it all took place — but this was the town.

When we got seated, the place was full — good thing we had reservations.  We were seated right under this vintage glass ceiling which was as French as it could get.  The ambiance was warm and we were greeted by the host and the staff warmly.

Brunch came with a mimosa which I enjoyed with the bread before the meal. I picked a Reisling originally to go with my mushroom omelette (below) but they were out, so I went for the rose instead.  Their portions are rather generous which made for a good meal which had me full for quite a bit.  The omelette with the bacon, sausage and potatoes was indeed very filling.
Food trip: Bistro Citron
Alan picked the poached eggs with salmon which looked sumptuous as it was. He was complaining the muffin underneath was rather hard and overdone toast-wise, but that is necessary for the bread to hold the poached egg which would tend to make the bread soggy.
Food trip: Bistro Citron
The highlight, though, was their delectable Bananas Foster which came in a phylo cone and was  served with hazelnut ice cream.  The bananas on top were coated with caramelized sugar which gave it a nice crunch.
Food trip: Bistro Citron

It was a good way to spend a Sunday on a long weekend.  We’re not going anywhere for Angelo’s winter break but that’s just fine.  Projects need to be worked on and I have to catch up with work.

I’ll take the break and enjoy it, and wish the snow away.  Maybe we’ll go back to Bistro Citron again soon.Food trip: Bistro Citron

Food trip: Elias

Elias for dinner x2One of the things I really look forward to during my trips to Manila is the culinary experience that it entails, given the gastronomic offerings available. I had the good fortune of visiting Elias twice this trip, and here are a few of the yummy delights we got to sample.

First of all, thanks to my good friend Ces who brought me here during our first night together.

The restaurant describes itself as “Turn of the century Filipino dining – a trademark that is only Chef Florabel Co Yatco’s.

Elias is a mélange of an elegant Filipino home during the Spanish colonial period, and a modern, classy Filipino restaurant of the 21st century.”

The restaurant decor is reminiscent of a rustic ancestral home bordering on “almost modern” but not quite.  It is dated but not “great grandmother old”.   The dishes are a creative play on characters and elements related to the period of Elias of Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal’s famous novel.

For my first dinner, Ces implored me to try the Munggo de Mariano which is lentil soup with chicharon (pork rinds) and tuyo fillet (smoked herring flakes).  I am not really a fan of lentil soup but I loved this one — probably because of all the crunch and flavor brought in by the chicharon.  For our main course, we had the Leandro which is Laing with Lechon Kawali (pictured below) and Joaquin or Tender Bulalo with Mushroom Gravy.  (Much like the Bulalo Steak made famous by another local chain of restaurants.)  We were too full to have dessert.Elias for dinner x2For Chrismas day, Mom, my sister, Offie, my brother Nikki, Angelo and I went out for dinner after a long day of cooking and serving lunch to our guests and I brought them to Elias for a different set of dishes. 

Elias for dinner x2

My sister picked this Oyster appetizer, Elias’ Choice,  pictured above, which is baked oyster with garlic and cheese.  (Oyster Rockefeller Elias Style?)  I would have gladly sampled it but I had just undergone some dermatologic procedures which required me to stay away from seafood at least until the “wounds” on my face healed.)

Nikki chose the Emilio which was actually Beef Morcon cooked in Classic Tomato Sauce.  I didn’t get to try this dish but it got Nikki’s seal of approval and that’s good enough for me.
Elias for dinner x2
Now, when I see that a restaurant offers special rice dishes, I try to sample it as a way of testing the mettle of the chef as far as coming up with simple yet complimentary flavors to the dishes his or her restaurant offers. We picked the Adobo Rice   which was hands down a great pairing to any of the dishes next to plain white rice and the old reliable garlic rice.  It had very subtle flavors which was the way it should be as it was not being offered as a rice viand, but rather as some form of “flavored” or “seasoned rice”.

Elias for dinner x2One rule of thumb I’ve followed through the years is to try a common dish associated with the cuisine a new restaurant I’m trying is known for to use it as a point of reference in comparison to something I’m familiar with.  How can you go wrong with Sinigang Gomez  which is good old Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampalok or Pork Sinigang with Tamarind Soup.  Authentic and soured appropriately — although Mom found it too maasim or tart.  I was quite happy with it.

Elias for dinner x2
My personal choice for an entree was the Lengua Laruja which I was hoping to sample from the classic Casa Marcos, but their only remaining branch was at the Fort which was much too far to go to on a holiday evening like Christmas. I had no complaints for the Elias version because it was soft and tender and the sauce was perfect to a T.

Elias for dinner x2
It was a busy night for the restaurant and as luck would have it, we were seated next to the dessert display, and one particular dessert was calling out to me.  Narcissa, Crisostomo’s Favorite which is Quezo de Bola Cheesecake was a perfect way to cap our sumptuous dinner.  This, alone, is worth going to Elias for.

Elias for dinner x2

Kudos, Chef Florabel!  Thanks for a memorable trip home.

Food Trip: A lobster roll from The Lobster Roll

This is a place that we have been to many times before on the way to the wineries of the North Fork area along the backways.  (The Lobster Roll Northside on Old Sound Road).

I just thought it would make for a tempting piece to show you what I always get when we drive by for a quick  bite.

Their Lobster Roll is simply delicious and meaty lobster heaven!  Not too heavy on the mayonnaise, and just right with the seasonings.  (Some lobster rolls tend to be too heavy on the bay seasoning which is good in moderation, but overpowering when used generously on seafood.)

The Lobster Roll Northside's Lobster roll

Take note that they are only open on weekends in the winter months, but they are definitely worth the drive.

Here’s someone being funny by the bar where we sat. (The place was packed and unfortunately, outdoor seating was closed due to the low temperatures.

Beware of Attack Lobster

Food trip: Thanksgiving at Seasons 52

We decided to go simple this Thanksgiving and we went out to have lunch in Long Island for a change. Alan picked Seasons 52. They had a series of flatbread appetizers and Alan picked the Spicy Chipotle Shrimp flatbread which was something new and memorable. The flat bread isn’t quite “nacho thick” but the flavors more than made up for the ultra think “wafer-like” crust.

Thanksgiving 2013 at Seasons52

We aren’t really that much into turkey so it wasn’t suprising that we all passed up on the Thanksgiving offerings. Instead, I zeroed in on the lamb chops which were flavorful without totally removing the gaminess of the meat. Thanksgiving 2013 at Seasons52 Dessert was another treat. I picked two of their mini-cups and I loved the dulce de leche and the pecan pie taster. Gloriously sinful! Thanksgiving 2013 at Seasons52

Thanksgiving 2013 at Seasons52 A simple yet delicious Thanksgiving feast. I hope yours had you being thankful for all the blessings you have received.

A different kind of Adobo

It was past 11AM already when I started thinking of what we could have for lunch.  With a heavy drizzle falling outside and after having spent a late night out yesterday which saw us home at 2AM, we weren’t in any shape to go out early in the day.  I knew I had short ribs and I thought “Sinigang”, but Mom told me I’m starting a little too late so it might not be tender enough for us to enjoy it fully.  We boiled the beef anyway and agreed to have it for dinner instead.  I rummaged through the freezer and found a whole cut up chicken and decided we were going to have Chicken Adobo

I usually don’t post recipes here but this is one recipe I highly recommend because the measurement of the marinade did not throw me off.  It has been disappointing to follow a recipe to a T and then realize that it’s too sour or too salty from the soy sauce or salt.  It’s also easy to pull off and gives a hint of sweetness.  Taken from THE TWENTY MINUTE COOKBOOK by Carlos and Celeste Lorenzana, you’ll love this, I guarantee.  I only did chicken, no pork, but it was so tasty, I cannot imagine how much more delicious it would’ve been with some pork.

Bon Appetit!

Chicken Pork Adobo

6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/3 tsp black peppercorn, crushed
1 c water
1/4 kg chicken cut into serving pcs
1/3 kg port cut into cubes

Mix thoroughly the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, peppercorn and water.  Marinate the chicken and pork in the mixture for about an hour.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until chicken and pork are tender.

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