NYC Restaurant Week Reservations Now Open

Good day, Foodies! I have some exciting news for an otherwise mundane Wednesday: you can now start booking for NYC Restaurant Week.

By now, I’m sure you know the drill: three-course prix-fixe menus at over 300 of NYC’s best foodie digs ($25 for lunch and $38 for dinner). Visit nycgo.com to see participating restaurants, peek the menus, and most importantly, book your reservations! My Foodie partner-in-crime, Alycia, and I will be on the hunt to visit some restaurants on our 101 list, so stay tuned for updates.

This post is cross-posted from Feel Good Foodies, a fantastic food blog, if I do say so myself!

Foodie Friday: Finding My Favorite Local Bar

As I’ve referenced quite a few times, my boyfriend and I recently moved to Brooklyn. We’re living in Bedford Stuyvesant, and though our weekends have been busy with lots of travel, we’ve been working to find our new favorite spots during the time that we are in town.

An important element to the ‘favorite spot’ list is, of course, the local watering hole. Who doesn’t want a bar where everybody knows their name? Ok, maybe we don’t frequent bars often enough to gain that status, and maybe that’s a good thing, but finding our token neighborhood favorite is definitely important. And, big news, we may have a winner!

Enter Dynaco. Jamie and I visited this unassuming bar late on one of our first Fridays in the neighborhood, and left just as quickly. It was so crowded and…warm. We planned to get one drink, but upon realizing it was cash only and waiting just a little too long to get to the bar, we thought it would be best to come back on a weekday.

Photo courtesy of Yelp

And that is how we spent the following Monday night. When I walked into the bar I almost didn’t recognize the place. It was cozy and warm (this time in a good way) from a wood-burning stove in the back, and the decor was absolutely beautiful. I sat at the bar and felt like I was visiting someone’s home. I was itching for a good cocktail and Sean the bartender recommended a Kentucky Mule (bourbon/ginger beer). It was perfect.

Now that we’ve had some time to explore the neighborhood, I think that it’s safe to say Dynaco could easily become our favorite neighborhood bar. The drinks are well-made, the bartenders are friendly, and the cash-only policy will keep me honest. Win.Win.Win.

Location: 1112 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

Restaurant Review: SUD Vino & Cucina

It is not easy to find an Italian restaurant that doesn’t make me wish I had just invited myself over to my grandmother’s house for dinner, but Sud makes the shortlist.

I just recently moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and my friend Alycia and I thought it would be nice to explore my new neighborhood. We wandered Bedford Ave. on a recent Friday night after a long work week, and the warmth and relaxed vibe emanating from Sud won us over.

The restaurant itself was so cute and cozy. The fireplace and kitchen hutches in the that back made us feel like we were sitting in someone’s home, and the service was incredibly familiar and friendly.

We started with yummy (heavily poured) Pinot Grigio, and some complementary bread with olive oil. Despite the bread basket, we went ahead and ordered more bread to start – the crostini with taleggio cheese and house-made black olive tapenade. We were so pleased to find that the order came with four pieces of crostini – generous for $8 compared to the Manhattan prices we are used to! The crostini were savory with a little bit of sweet, just perfect to hold us over for our main dishes (warning – more carbs to come).

The Sud menu is small, which I love. I subscribe to the philosophy that it’s better to do a few things very well then to do many things in a mediocre way. The menu has a pesce section, but it kind of just screams “order pasta!”, so we did.

I had the Rigatoni Alla Norma – fresh eggplant, ricotta salata and tomato sauce. The ricotta salata is salty and a little creamy, making the overall simple dish a little bit more complex and interesting. It was perfect.

Alycia ordered a pasta with veggies (I think spinach, mushrooms, etc.), garlic and olive oil. It was so simple and good.

We finished with a decadent chocolate cake and were on our way.

I expect this to become one of my neighborhood go-tos – the ambiance is perfect for conversation over dinner.

Location:

1102 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn (b/t Lexington Ave & Quincy St in Bedford-Stuyvesant)

Important to note: Sud is cash only, seemingly a trend in this neighborhood.

Where to Shop in NYC This Weekend: Fab Warehouse Sale at Chelsea Market

Fab’s first-ever brick and mortar warehouse sale at Chelsea Market is going on now, and ends tomorrow!

Image

Items are going for up to 90% off MSRP. I’ve been in the process of the most drawn-out move ever from Manhattan to Brooklyn (woo!), but I am going to try my best to get there tomorrow. We’re trying to upgrade just about everything, and our new apartment could use some serious finishing touches. Plus, I give Fab five stars in interior design.

Here are full details on the sale, belated, but there is still time!

The sale will run March 25-30

Hours:
Tuesday through Saturday 10am – 8pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm

At Chelsea Market: 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

For her, there will be spiffy, springy dresses, jewelry, shoes, iPhone cases and other accessories from nOir, Fred Perry, L.A.M.B., Sven, Ted Baker, and many more.

For him, they have POP handsets, May28th watches, OnePiece loungewear, wallets, headphones, and watches galore.

For everyone, they have luggage, pillows, posters, cookware, lighting, and home accents that will keep you in style at home or on the go.

The best part? Merchandise will be restocked daily, and new deals will be announced each day. So no big deal that we’re tardy to the party! And plastic is accepted, shopaholics!

Foodie Friday: Juice for All

I’m a juice-aholic. By now, this is a well-known fact among my friends, and I receive requests for juice cleanse recommendations on the regular – I’d say about once per month.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, Spring has sprung, and Summer is JUST around the corner! I noticed today that there are a ton of juice cleanse sales on all of our favorite daily deal sites, so I thought I’d do all you healthy-minded New Yorkers a favor and put the top ones all in one place:

Cleanses I’ve Tried

1. Cleanse:Jus By Julie

jus by julie cleanse

The deets:

  •          $99 ($200 value) for a 3-day juice cleanse + meal plan
  •          $175 ($350 value) for a 3-day juice cleanse for you and a friend + meal plans

Where to buy: Get it on LivingSocial

Thoughts: This is my favorite juice cleanse. I had a customer service snafu once, but they reached out and compensated with a free 1-day cleanse. The juices are so tasty, and they have puree in them, so you’re still getting some fiber and protein, and you don’t feel as hungry (or in some cases hungry at all) while cleansing.

2. Cleanse: Liquiteria

Liquiteria

The deets:

  •          “Juice, Eat, Repeat” $79 ($99 value): Four cold-pressed juices per day for three days (12 juices total)
  •          Level One Cleanse: “Explore & Nourish” $118 ($147 value): Six cold-pressed juices per day for three days (18 juices total)
  •          Level Two Cleanse: “Restore & Energize” $118 ($147 value): Six cold-pressed juices per day for three days (18 juices total) – same deal as level one, but different juices
  •          Level Three Cleanse: “Deep Dive & Heal” $160 ($200 value): Seven cold-pressed juices per day for three days (21 juices total); One coconut water per day (three total)
  •          All cleanses come with One-on-one coaching session with an expert cleanse coach. They basically walk you through the cleanse and answer any questions when you pick up your juices

Where to buy: Get it on Gilt City

Thoughts: The “Juice, Eat, Repeat” is awesome for juicing rookies! Juice all day and have a nice raw dinner – it leaves you feeling so refreshed! I really like Liquiteria, but you have to pick this cleanse up in person, so it takes a little extra prepping. They have three locations: Liquiteria Chelsea, Liquiteria East Village, or Union Square

Other Available Cleanses

1. Cleanse: The Squeeze

The Squeeze New York City Deal of the Day   Groupon New York City

The deets:

  •          $119 for a three-day juice cleanse ($177 value)
  •          $235 for a six-day juice cleanse ($354 value)

Where to buy: Get it on GroupOn

Thoughts: I haven’t tried The Squeeze yet, but maybe I will!  This is another ‘pick-up only’ cleanse. There are three locations: Battery Park City, Hell’s Kitchen, and Union Square

2. Cleanse: beQu Juice

bequ juices

The deets:

Where to buy: Get it on GroupOn

Thoughts: I haven’t tried beQu yet either, but here are some additional details from GroupOn: Recipients receive a supply of six bottles for each day of their cleanse, which includes three lemonade and three sweet greens juices that can be alternated throughout the day. Shipping is not included in this deal; beQu Juice will confirm delivery dates by email. Based on this, I would look up cost of shipping before buying!

One Pot Mac & Cheese with Low-Fat Maia Yogurt

This weather! NYC may have seen more snow this winter than in the past four put together, and the forecast is not necessarily showing us any signs of  long-term relief.

With a busy schedule, and maybe a slight case of the winter blues, I’ve been turning to my favorite comfort foods more often than I’d like to admit. Slice of pizza? Sure. Mac-n-cheese? Bring it on. Like, once a week. Okay, maybe twice.

I’m a huge comfort food junkie, but I’m also big on ingredient substitutes to try to make things just a little healthier. So, when Maia Yogurt, shared an alternative recipe to my standard, boxed mac-n-cheese, I was all in. I’ve been wanting to try homemade mac for a long time, but it always seemed like a daunting task, and I worried that the effort would not yield the same results as the easy, creamy, delicious box version. This one-pot-wonder was ready to eat in three easy steps! It was quick, simple, and satisfied my craving perfectly.

One Pot Mac & Cheese

Maia one pot mac n cheese

One pot mac-n-cheese

  1. Cook 2 cups elbow pasta in a large pot.
  2. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot along with 2 cups shredded cheese, 1/2 cup plain Maia Yogurt, salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. onion powder, and 1/4 tsp. garlic powder.
  3. Stir all the ingredients together on low heat until the cheese is completely melted.

Let’s zoom in on that ooey gooey yumminess.

MAIA mac n cheese_christinadoes

I’m officially done with boxed mac.

Do you have any favorite recipe substitutes? Would you try subbing in Greek yogurt in your creamy recipes? 

*Special thanks to Maia Yogurt for yogurt samples and recipe suggestion :) 

NYC Gifts from Fab.com – Make the City Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and for the procrastinators like myself, the dreary weather forecast is not boding well for our last-minute gifting. Though I’m sure that stores will be open in the city that never sleeps. City schools are open today, which pretty much dictates that NYC will be business as usual.

But, in a city of convenience it is all the more tempting to stay warm and cozy as the snow inches pile up. It’s looking very possible that cards will be homemade, and IOUs might be issued (in the form of printed online shopping confirmations, of course).

Fab.com has your back though. With fast shipping options, maybe your gift will make it to your Valentine by the end of the weekend (or sooner?). And with their adorable selection of NYC-centric gifts (swoon), I’m considering making myself my second Valentine. I’m super forgiving for late presents, especially of the NYC persuasion.

Here are some great gift ideas for your NYC lovers:

Cityscape Umbrella-Fab

Cityscape Umbrella

steel cut map-nyc-fab

New York City Steel Cut Map by Cut Maps

I Love NY More Than Ever Print by  Milton Glaser

I Love NY More Than Ever Print by Milton Glaser

new yorker poster-milton glaser-fab

New York Magazine by Milton Glaser

new york coaster set-common rebels-fab-christinadoes

New York Coaster Set by Common Rebels

new york jfk t-shirt-fab-christinadoes

New York JFK Tee by Pilot & Captain

I’m personally loving the umbrella and the steel cut map, for all of my Valentines out there. Stay warm and happy shopping!

Crock Pot Chronicles: Turkey Three-Bean Chili

It pains me to write about chili on day three of a juice cleanse, but baby, it’s cold outside, and if I weren’t cleansing I would be whipping up another batch to warm up this dreary day.

Last week I made the most phenomenal chili to ever pass my lips. It was hearty and thick, and so perfectly spicy.  And I know I’m not just tooting my own horn, because Jamie couldn’t get enough of it either! The best part? It was SO easy.

turkey three bean chili recipe

Turkey Three-Bean Chili

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb fat free ground turkey breast
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 (10 oz) cans hot or mild Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies (if you can find a 28 oz can, more power to ya!)
  • 1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, undrained
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can small red beans, undrained
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (flour can be used as an alternative)

Seasoning:

  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Brown the turkey with red onion in a medium skillet over medium high heat until cooked, and drain any fat remaining.To make life easier, I did step one the night before, and kept the cooked meat in the refrigerator overnight, so all I had to do in the morning was put everything in the crock pot. So easy!
  2. Add the meat, tomatoes con chilies, tomato sauce, green pepper and seasoning mix to the crock combining well.
  3. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. If you’re like me, and a work day could potentially last 10-12 hours, leave the pot on the low setting.
  4. In the last hour or two of cooking, add the beans, and turn the crock pot up to high, if it isn’t already. The world won’t end if you have he beans in the whole time, but they might come out a bit mushy, so I choose to add them later.When you’re almost ready to serve, incorporate the nutritional yeast or flour, little by little, until your chili is at desired consistency.

Top with cheddar, cilantro, sour cream, lime, etc. Whatever your little heart desires, and enjoy!

Awkward and Awkward Thursday: Where’s the Juice?

This week has been an especially frustrating one, and all of my frustrations revolve around juice.

Think I’m crazy? Don’t worry, I do too. Let’s start with awkward part one, from the beginning. I arrived at work Wednesday completely pumped to start a Jus by Julie three-day cleanse. I LOVE juicing, and my friend had said this was her favorite one.

When I realized at 8 a.m. that Jus by Julie had sent me an order confirmation but no tracking information (which they had referenced would follow), I immediately sent an email and also gave their receptionist a call. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play, but essential I reached out by phone, email, Twitter, carrier pigeon, you name it, and judging by their latest tweet, the company was indeed on vacation.

Christina Marcus  christinamarcus  on Twitter (1)

I tried to reach Jus by Julie all day.

Christina Marcus  christinamarcus  on TwitterAfter 4 p.m. I finally sent an outraged email outlining all of the reasons it was inconsiderate and poor service for the company not to get back to me. The email in itself was awkward. I do not get angry. It’s not something I do. But here I am, very angry, and feeling completely outside of my skin because of it.

I received a phone call immediately. The person on the other end sounded a bit annoyed and  explained that something was wrong with their delivery tracking, and I would get my juice the next day. Seriously? Was that five-minute phone call so difficult? This tells me two things:

  1. There is not reward in being a calm and collected, friendly customer, which is so disappointing. Hours of this approach got me absolutely nowhere, but when I got angry I got answers.
  2. The FedEx issue was, as I suspected, a widespread problem yesterday. In this case, a blast email or even a tweet to explain the issue and tell customers to be patient might have been a good, considerate idea. I mean, one thing I loved about the idea of this cleanse is that it is delivered early enough to start on the same day. I literally ate nothing the first half of the day thinking they’d get back to me before lunch on my delivery ETA.

After the awful 8 hours of lack of customer service, I thought surely they would apologize in a genuine way and even offer something extra, or an added incentive for a follow-up order. I’m not a freebie-hound, but this was the first time ever that I really felt it was something I deserved. You shouldn’t upset people who are giving up solid food to enjoy your product, it is just unkind, and disappointment coupled with extreme hunger should be compensated.

Today I received my juices “on time,” and was happily drinking through my cleanse until awkward part two happened.  I got to juice 4 and realized that my juice 5 was missing from the fridge at work. Almond Breeze. I was actually excited to drink it and have been anticipating it all day. I considered blast emailing my coworkers to call a search for the missing juice. Other people are cleansing this week as well, I saw a ton of BluePrint bottles in the fridge, surely my juice was taken in error and could be returned. This sounds silly, but understand that i am consuming six juices for the day – that is all the nourishment that I get, and one is missing! And it’s my favorite one! Juice #5 on days 2 and 3 is a different  juice. A petty thing to complain about in a life where I feel all-around blessed, but it felt tragic. It still does. Go ahead, laugh at me.

The Jus by Julie juices are awesome, and I’m really enjoying them, but I feel like I will forever associate this cleanse with feelings of stress and frustration. And lots of awkward.

Foodie Friday: Three Good Reasons to go to Montreal

A few weeks back Jamie and I took a long-weekend trip to Montreal to celebrate our five years together, and to eat. A lot. Here are the highlights:

Joe Beef

Joe Beef, Montreal

Photo courtesy of Ashley B. on Yelp

We first heard of Joe Beef from CNN’s Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, where Bourdain was joined by Joe Beef’s Dave McMillan and Fred Morin, collectively eating ALL the foie gras. The entire episode is pure decadence, and would motivate you to travel 370 miles as well.

As soon as we booked our flights I reserved Friday dinner here. Three weeks away, and all I could get were two seats at the bar! This wound up being better in the end. Joe Beef’s menu is ever-changing, written on a chalkboard on the wall (in French). The friendly bartended read us the entire menu, sharing recommendations as he went.  We ordered:

  • The freshest oysters I have ever tasted
  • Two appetizers – the famous foie gras double down (half order), a menu staple consisting of two fried pieces of foie gras with bacon and maple syrup sandwiched between; and a shredded turkey leg concoction that was reshaped around a bone to look like a drumstick.I could have stopped here and been satisfied. The foie gras was out of this world. Life changing. I am so lucky that I do not live in Montreal, I would turn into a foie gras double down
  • For entrees, I had veal scaloppini and Jamie had the half hen. Both came with generous sides of rice, mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. The veal was a bit salty, but everything else was perfect

The courses were well-paced, and the bartender informed us that the restaurant allots at least three hours for each reservation. A refreshing and leisurely experience for us New Yorkers! Three hours later, the friendly barkeep gave us some maple sorbet to finish, and we were on our way.

Liverpool House

menu at Liverpool House

the ever-changing menu board, photo courtesy of Jennifer K. on Yelp

Liverpool House is the sister restaurant to Joe Beef, and all-in-all isn’t much different. The ingredients seemed to have a more Italian influence, but the fresh chalk-board format and overall feel were the same. We came into Liverpool House with a strategy, ordering much lighter appetizers: clams casino and tripe. Jamie had never had tripe before, and I had bad memories of a chewy substance in tomato sauce, but this was not the case at Liverpool House. The tripe was melt-in-your mouth good, and the sauce was so flavorful. A definite favorite and all the couples around us ordered it after seeing ours come out of the kitchen!

For dinner we thought we were being savvy ordering the lamb for two, in light of the overwhelming portions at Joe Beef the night before. Boy, were we wrong. What emerged from the kitchen could have easily fed a family of four. The meat was tender and perfect, and it came with a large dish of seasonal veggies. After that it was more sorbet, and off to some bars to wash it all down.

Pro tip: try the Joe Beef Pilsner, very crisp and refreshing, and only available at Joe Beef, Liverpool House and a couple of other local spots.

Lawrence

We had been having low-key breakfasts at our hotel all weekend, so on our last day in town we decided to find a nice Sunday brunch spot. I found Lawrence on Yelp and we headed to Mile End. The neighborhood looked deserted when we arrived, but we quickly realized that everyone was at Lawrence already. We waited patiently in a café across the street, and a quick 45 minutes later we had the option of a seat at the bar, or a cozy 4-seater in the corner next to two girls fervently gossiping in French. We’re no strangers to close dining quarters, and chose the table.

Jamie and I quickly ordered some Bloody Marys (hair of the dog), and I insisted that we start by sharing a scone with jam and clotted cream.

After putting the order in, our eyes simultaneously wandered over to the bar (probably impatiently awaiting our drinks), and landed on…Spiderman! I was SO close to being seated right next to Tobey Maguire. There’s something so much more exciting about seeing a celebrity outside of NYC, and I was instantly annoyed at our seating choice. The Bloody Marys and scone made up for it though, two good decisions outweighing the bad one.

For mains I ordered kedgeree, a fried rice dish with ham, plum tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and other goodies all mixed together. It was savory and comforting. Jamie ordered something similar that had shredded meat (pulled pork maybe?), potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and a delicious sardine sauce. This might have been better than New York brunch. Just maybe.

Kedegree at Lawrence, Montreal

Kedegree, photo courtesy of Laura M. on Yelp

So, all in all, if you’re looking to eat your way through a city, Montreal is a fantastic contender. Of course there are also photos and other highlights of the trip, which I will share in future posts, now that I’m done gushing over the food.

Happy Friday!