Tag Archives: nyc

Butter NYC Restaurant Week

January means Restaurant Week in NYC again and, since this very well may be my last winter restaurant week in this fine city, I felt the need to participate. Luckily I can always count on my foodie friend, Mel, for outings such as these. She’s far more responsible than most 25-years-olds, so I left the details up to her. She chose Butter in the East Village, she made the reservation, all I did was show up and eat. But we all know I can eat like a champ. Well, actually, I’ll let you be the judge:

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Braised Octopus.

As usual, my date was more adventurous than I as she ordered, and thoroughly enjoyed, this braised octopus dish. I had a bite and, for my first taste of octopus, I must say… I liked it.

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Pasta with spicy lamb sausage & yellow tomato sauce.

It looks like mac and cheese, but it’s really a tomato sauce. Clever! This spicy lamb sausage was divine. Potentially my favorite item of the evening.

butter, restaurant week, restaurant week nyc, nyc, butter nyc, new york city

Roasted salmon with braised lentils

It’s tough for me to overlook a salmon dish on a menu, so I didn’t. And this one came with lentils. It was crispy-skined and flakily tender; me likey.

butter, restaurant week, restaurant week nyc, nyc, butter nyc, new york city

Braised pork shoulder with a pretzel crumb crust.

This was a heavy dish, but my dainty date devoured it like a baller. By the time dessert came, I was loosening my belt. Classy, I know.

butter, restaurant week, restaurant week nyc, nyc, butter nyc, new york city

Ginger cookie ice cream sandwich.

But who could resist a ginger cookie ice cream? Not this girl. I’m not made of stone. Although the cookie might have been. It was really quite difficult to eat with a spoon, and this was not the sort of establishment where I could dive in with my hands (much to my chagrin). So’s not to embarrass my date, just my own cutlery skills, I fought the cookie hard and won. I won.

butter, restaurant week, restaurant week nyc, nyc, butter nyc, new york city

Lemon sorbet with kumquat marmalade.

I didn’t try this lemon sorbet, although it looked tasty and much easier to ingest than my dessert. The savory portions of this meal well made up for the challenging finish. If you’re feeling fancy in the Village, check out Butter. It’s buttery. 🙂


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Homemade Crepes

I thought crepes would be incredibly complicated, but they are in fact just milk, flour and eggs! I’m sure there are plenty of other ingredients (i.e. sugar) that some people add to this recipe, but I was taught that one should start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start). So I kept it simple:

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, pinch of salt.

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

Mix-eems up!

Now came the hard part. I wasted one entire batch of batter attempting to swirl the batter evenly in our cast-iron skillet. The trouble is the batter starts cooking as soon as it hits the pan, so make sure you have a strategy. I didn’t need much butter, just a light greasing of the pan and about 1/3 cup of batter did me just fine. 🙂

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

Swirl evenly into pan on med heat.

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

It’s definitely a learning curve.

After several tries, I finally found my swirling sweet spot. Hours later, I read that an easy way to make it even is to tilt the pan and pour the batter in on an incline — if anyone has tried this, please let me know if it works!

As soon as the batter starts to bubble, flip-eems around and cook the other side. Afterward you can set them aside until you have as many as you need.

crepes, recipes, pesto, mozzarella, tomato, caprese, chicken caprese, lunch

Chicken Caprese Crepe for my man.

crepes, recipes, pesto, mozzarella, tomato, caprese, chicken caprese, lunch

Heat it up on a warm pan and serve!

When it’s time to build the crepes, turn the pan on very very low and lay your crepe down, throw on your toppings and fold hot-dog, then hamburger (the nineties kids know what I mean).

The time had come to attempt the crepe of all crepes. The one I had placed up so high on a pedestal, I was bound to be disappointed, right? WRONG! I had seen this done so many times, I knew all of the components. I knew the order the ingredients needed to go in and what sorts of dressings topped them. It went crepe, bleu cheese, pears, honey, walnuts, balsamic, then arugula.

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

I topped this with black pepper and honey.

crepes, recipes, walnut, pear, bleu cheese, arugula, lunch

Served with arugula and a balsamic glaze.

And it was delicious! I’ll have to work on my crepe technique, but the integrity of the crepe was there. I considered this a huge victory and I intend to enjoy this for lunch every day this week because me and this crepe? We’re married. What’s your crepe soul-mate?

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TGIF= Happy Hour, Ya’ll!

In celebration of Friday, I thought I’d encourage everyone to get out there and TREAT YO SELF to a beverage and/or tasty treat from your local watering hole. Here are a few of my favorite haunts:

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This is the “Windjammer” and a Peak Organic IPA

First up, we have my local Astoria bar, Blackbird’s, which specializes in craft beers and tasty appetizers. My favorite Friday afternoon treat from here is “The Windjammer,” a dip made of black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and onions. I also don’t mind that they serve my IPA to me in a mason jar, just like down home.

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Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls and a Harvest Wheat

Next up we have the most embarrassing of the three bars I frequent, the world famous Heartland Brewery. World-famous if you’re a tourist, that is, as these are the only folks I am ever sharing this bar with. I don’t care if it’s an over-priced NY chain, I like that they brew their own beers and these spring rolls are freaking delicious.

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These are Fried Pickles with an Icy-Cold Shiner Bock

Lastly, for the Austinites who might be reading this blog, I recommend heading a few miles north to the sexy and risqué village of Round Rock for a nice visit to the HomeField Grill. The outfits are tacky, but the brewski selection is impressive and you really can’t go wrong with pickles battered, deep fried and served to you by a bartender in a referee’s uniform.

Oh, “Home Field…”… I GET IT!

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Trivia NYC at Raven’s Head

In order to spice up this week’s Tuesday, which can often carry an air of blah, we decided to partake in one of our very favorite weeknight activities: Pub Trivia! This is something we’ve never done in Queens before, so we had to do a little research. Finally, we decided on Raven’s Head Public House on Steinway and Broadway in Astoria, where Trivia NYC hosts Trivia on Tuesday nights at 7pm. My person had been here once before and assured me the food was good and the beer was great. My arm was twisted!

For our draught choice, we both selected the Founders Centennial IPA, which is apparently an award-winning brew from the folks over at Founder’s Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids. It was tasty, hoppy and came with a kick of 7% alcohol. If there’s one thing I know about my man, it’s that he loves himself a buffalo chicken wrap, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to see him order this:

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He’s a man who knows what he likes!

I opted for one of my favorite foods (as previous posts may have indicated) macaroni and cheese! This particular mac was tossed with bacon and breadcrumbs, topped with additional cheese, baked in a skillet, then brought to me in a bowl:

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Who won? I did.

We had a friend join us for Trivia, which we were terrible at, but enjoyed thoroughly. He out-ordered both of us with the delicious looking steak salad:

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Yeah, I probably should have ordered this.

I would highly recommend this particular Pub Trivia to anyone in the area who enjoys such things. But I must warn you, this was not some rinky-dink gum ball machine trivia, host Jarrod Hornbeck is not messing around. Not only that, but he has a loyal group of regulars who I’m guessing dominate every week — they certainly did this week. It was a good time, I’d definitely go again!

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An Urban Garden Fairy Tale, Ch. 2

For months, the woman blissfully watched her plants grow. Eventually many of them became too big for their pots. She re-planted many of the herbs into larger pots, but the sunflowers and tomato plants had no where to go. The small building she lived in had a tiny garden plot in front of it that no one ever used. Defiant after having returned from a weekend away to find her largest plants nearly dead, she decided she had as much right to plant there as anyone else.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersWithout guidance, she pulled a few weeds from the dirt and attempted to re-plant the tomato and sunflower. She went to fetch some water and when she returned, whom did she see? Why it was her secret mentor, the gentleman who grows tomatoes in his backyard. He came over and inquired about her plants, insisting that in order for them to grow nicely, she would need to clear out the whole plot of weeds. He then asked if she had a broom handle. Perplexed, the woman glanced over to his porch, where all of his less-stable plants were being supported with broom handles. A-ha! One second, she said.

Elated to have made this connection, the woman ran back inside and tore the Swiffer from its handle! By the time she returned, he was standing with a broom handle in one hand and twine in the other. He helped her support the sunflower and the tomato plant.

lea spencer, lea craft spencer, urban garden, gardening, garden, astoria, queens, nyc, fairy tale, tomatoes, sunflowersHe then brought her over a small tomato plant from his garden to grow next to hers. Overjoyed and taken with emotion, the woman didn’t know how to thank him.

They continued chatting and he pointed to a few small plants growing amongst a larger plant on his porch and asked her if she knew what they were. She said no, to which he replied, “Watermelons.” The woman’s eyes grew large, “You’re growing watermelons?” she inquired. “Oh, no…” he began. “They grow themselves… I just watch.” He smiled with a wisdom she knew she couldn’t yet grasp. And with that smile the dark cloud over that day passed as the sun shone down on their two tomato plants, growing side by side on small street in a quiet neighborhood called Astoria.

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Comfort Food in Queens, Ya’ll

Watching people attempt to use this as a door is endless entertainment. Yes, perhaps I was one of those people.

Right down the block on 30th Avenue sits a special little slice of the south called Queens Comfort. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a heavy-on-the-cream-and-butter little piece of heaven right in my own backyard. We’ve been here before, more than once, but only for brunch never for dinner. So you can imagine my delight when the boys (both of them magical) wanted to do that last Friday night instead of our usual bar. It’s BYOB, so we brought our own B and ordered a variety of snacks and shared them. The beer we purchased was a pale ale in a can, something with a pig on it… anyone familiar with this particular can of beer?

Grilled Corn on the Cob.

This was grilled corn, covered in parmesan cheese and then drizzled with sriracha. We did not share this. This was for me only.

Meatloaf Mac and Cheese

This is meatloaf Mac and Cheese, which is exactly what is sounds like. And it tastes like heaven. They also had a gouda mac and cheese, if you are a non-carnivorous being, I would recommend it.

Disco Tots.

These are disco tots, which were requested by the boys (both of them Jersey) which is where I think this type of tot must have originated because I’ve never heard of them. Please let me know if you are familiar with the actual origin of disco tots, I am curious.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings.

I’ve saved the best for last. Because while the corn, the mac and cheese and the tots were simply incredible, these sweet and spicy wings were a revelation. I am a huge wing fan, I used to work in a wing bar and these are a huge head and broad shoulders above the rest. They were spicy and crunchy and yet somehow still tasted like dessert. They resembled, in fact, the only other dish I’ve ever had at Queens Comfort: the fried chicken and waffles (which is served with tabasco and maple butter… I’ll wait while you wipe the saliva from your lips.)

If you’re from the south, having a bad day or just don’t give two shakes about calories this is the only place you need. The service takes time, so don’t come here in a hurry and don’t try to order off the menu. It changes daily for a reason. Enjoy 🙂


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Got leftovers? Time to get creative!

If you’ll remember, at the end of my post about the chicken enchiladas (once again, New York, you’re welcome), I promised I had a plan for the leftover enchilada filling. If you’re anything like me, the thought of having to throw out food doesn’t exactly appeal to you. If you’re a lot like me, the idea makes you downright nauseous. In any event, that meal left me with half a pack of corn tortillas and a ton of leftover filling. Sure, I could have just made enchiladas again, but where’s the fun in that?

Instead I decided to cook the filling down with some tomato paste and black beans, creating a sort of chicken chili if you will, which I then layered between corn tortillas for a sort of Mexican lasagna. My mom called it enchilada casserole, so I am too. Honestly, and not to toot my own horn, but you could call it a casserole of crap and it wouldn’t change the fact that this dish was delicious and essentially free based on the fact that I would have otherwise had to throw out everything I used.

Click here for the original filling recipe, to which I added a can of tomato paste and a can of black beans. Then I let it simmer for two hours.

I then took one of my super expensive and classy foil dishes and put down a layer of corn tortillas, which I softened in the microwave for 30 seconds. I tore them so they’d fit, it certainly doesn’t need to be perfect.

I started slopping in my chili mix, I did two layers, so half and then half, but whatever makes your heart sing!

After the 1st layer of chili and before the 2nd layer of tortillas, I threw in some fresh onions and peppers for a little crunch!

Once you’ve made your layers, top with whatever type of cheese you like and then into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

I like it a little burnt around the edges, but you can always take it out earlier 🙂

Served here with a box of Spanish-style rice and (as always) guacamole -- Click for recipe








The box of rice — not my idea. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but these things called “relationships” they often take compromise, and my man wanted the rice, which I did not care about (I’m more of a double beans, hold the rice, type of gal). But like I said, he wanted the rice, he picked out the box, I followed the directions on the back and you can, too!

Leftovers? What leftovers… What I meant to say was: POP POP.

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Sake it to me! (Or sushi it, rather)

In light of this unseasonable warm day, I had to take a late afternoon stroll through Astoria. I strolled and strolled and just when I began to feel peckish, I happened upon a lovely sake bar. After a very productive day, work-wise, I decided a little treat was in order. I sat down at Yamashiro Sake Bar on Steinway street and ordered a Sapporo and some edamame while I perused the menu.

3027 STEINWAY ST -- They deliver!

Edamame+a book+a brew=Perfection

Having only recently begun my obsession with sushi, I haven’t been overly adventurous and I didn’t figure today was the day to start. I did however choose tuna, something I don’t usually do. Of course, I only chose tuna because it was smashed between salmon and avocado (the two great loves of my life). I ordered the Yamashiro Wasabi roll which, as I said, is tuna, salmon and avocado but with wasabi caviar. I’m still not sure if this is actual caviar or wasabi designed to look like caviar, but it was spicy and delicious and I’d order it again in a second.

Yamashiro Wasabi Roll -- So pretty!

I love the inside of sushi... so delicate.

Decor-wise, the restaurant was elegant with simple black furniture and really special fish tanks. The prices were decent and the service? Impeccable.  The very attentive server consistently refilled both my water and beer glass. I sat for nearly an hour reading my book and munching slowly and I didn’t feel the least bit rushed. It was the perfect compliment to this perfect day.


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My Heart Belongs to Chicken Tikka Masala

Do you have a restaurant you order from all the time? So much so that you make jokes about keeping them in business? I’m not saying they’re good jokes, but these sorts of jokes are made. I make them with regard to Seva Indian Restaurant in Astoria. It is, quite simply, the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever had and they have such a good delivery special that I’d be understating it to say that we order from there every week. It’s almost the only place we ever order from because it’s… that… good.

Mulligatawny: A tasty lentil soup that makes me melt.

Last weekend we were both in Queens for the day so we decided to go to Seva for lunch, something we’ve never done. We’ve in fact only been inside Seva once for dinner with some friends. Another thing we’ve never done is order something new, but today was the day. You see, Seva also boasts a lunch special with a soup and an entrée for 8 bucks. Their mulligatawny soup is heavenly, so we both started with that. Typically we go halfsies on one entrée, but on this day we decided to get two. One regular Chiken Tikka Masala (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is a dish invented by the British) and a new Chicken Vindaloo. The waiter asked if we were sure because the Chicken Vindaloo is very hot. Laughing smugly, as we eat a lot of spicy food, we assured him we’d be fine.

"Vindaloo" must be Hindi for "burn your freaking tongue off"

Luckily the naan bread will always calm the heat.

It's so good, I forgot to take a photo until this moment 🙂

Wrong! The “fiery” Chicken Vindaloo is pure torture! Nothing but heat in my mouth, I had two bites and was finished. Luckily we still had our old trusty Tikka Masala, which is just delightful. If you think you can handle the heat, I recommend the Vindaloo, but if not I still urge you to try Seva for delivery or for dine-in. I truly cannot recommend any restaurant more than I recommend Seva. It is my absolute, hands down, favorite place to eat. What’s yours?

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Terrific Lady Day, Part Deux

After a lovely girls night replete with piano bars, late night pizza, flirtinis and even later night bacon, how are two ladies expected to spend the morning? With brunch of course! My friend is lucky enough to live directly upstairs from a precious french bistro called Brasserie Julien and wouldn’t ya know it? They serve brunch! We began our meal with bread, duh. And also with two new friends: Mary and Mary 🙂

My new friend Mary... she's tasty.

And my new friend, Melanie.. she's busy

Now I’m no bloody mary connoisseur, as a matter of fact, I’ve only recently taken a liking to them. With that said, this one is probably the best I’ve ever had. It’s tasty and spicy and somehow gives the impression of nutrients, which I desperately needed this particular morning. Speaking of nutrients, here comes our food!

My omelet: chicken, asparagus, goat cheese

Mel's crepe: eggs, chicken, mozzarella

Served with homemade potato chips, salad and fruit all of which make me warm and mushy inside (perhaps the bloody mary helped). The restaurant was beautiful and the service was attentive without feeling rushed — the French have really got that on lock down.
Brasserie Julien also has live jazz music on the weekends and Sunday and Monday are Ladies nights! I heartily recommend it it for brunch and am looking forward to coming here for dinner. Stay tuned.

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