Monday, February 16, 2009

East-side Eats

I have to admit...since moving from Elizabeth Street two years ago, I have become a West Village snob. I seem to almost forget that the best year of my New York-life thus far took place in Nolita...yes, on the east side. Many late nights and fabulous fare; parties and dinners; scene-y dives and cafes. My friends work for shopbop and had a last minute shindig on Sunday night in leau of Fashion Week. Just as I was about to get comfortable on my couch, paging through take-out menus for Sunday night tube, I got word that I had an hour to get ready..."I'm going to the Rivington Hotel and you're coming with me", my friend Joyann insisted through gchat. Easily persuaded, yet moving slowly, I got ready and jumped in a taxi to pick her up on our way to the "other" side. I soon discovered that dinner was going to have to wait...drinks were flowing at Thor and everyone was just starting to arrive. A few glasses of wine, some photos and fashion interviews later (something I watched take place), we were hungry. Again. A few of us made our way to the talked about east side restaurant all night, barrio chino. I was craving their jalapeno-infused margarita, thanks to my friend's boyfriend (also a foodie) who had talked about it in detail to the point that he actually tried to order a similar drink (and failed to) at the bar. There was an hour wait at barrio chino so we went next door to The Ten Bells for another drink. At first site, a typical east side hole-in-the-wall, exposed brick, dimly lit, chalkboard menu-written wine bar type of joint with a bar and a few high tops. We tasted their Patamaca with serrano ham (simply serrano ham with bread that had been drizzled with olive oil and tomato of some sort) over a glass of wine. SOLD! I probably could have stayed here all night nibbling on the rest of their menu (think oysters, meats, empanadas, cavier and tartars) if barrio chino hadn't called to tell us our table was ready. When we finally made it to the bar stools over at barrio chino (similar yet smaller dive with the same hodgepodge scene of people and wait staff) I was more than ready for that rita and a plate of their guacamole and perfectly homemade tortilla chips (which we got seconds of). Luckily it was spicy enough to slow down consumption. We ordered some tacos and their calamari salad to finish things off. Friends enjoyed a grape-fruity margarita and some tequila served alongside spicy tomato juice and a lime. The perfect end to a surprisingly spiced-up winter night...on the east side. Looking forward to getting back over there again soon.

Monday, February 2, 2009


It happens once a year... Football fans, single gals and food lovers across the country come together to watch this main event. No matter your reason for joining in on the action, you need to come hungry! Hot dogs, wings, 7-layers of goodness, chips and dips has officially become our tradition to contribute a little taste of fancy: Seriously Sinful Steak Sandies. James grills the steaks, I make the spread and pile on the fixings. Just the kind of team work fit for the BIG GAME.

Sinful Steak Sandwiches

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, cracked
3 rib-eye steaks
4 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole wheat baguette, split lengthwise
2 cups lightly packed arugula
Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard seeds in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the steaks and seal the bag. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Heat the grill pan to medium-high heat. Drain the marinade from the steaks. Grill the steaks for about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes. Cut the steaks crosswise into thin slices.
Meanwhile, stir the cheese and sour cream in a small bowl to form a thick spread. Season the cheese mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove some of the bread from the center of the baguette halves. Spread the cheese mixture over the baguette halves. Arrange the arugula then the warm steak slices over the baguette bottom. Sprinkle the steak slices with salt and pepper. Cover with the baguette top. Cut the sandwich crosswise into 6 equal pieces and serve.
You know me, always gotta end the night with a sweet bite! In the spirit of the Super Bowl, I throw out my healthy eating for these chocolaty morsels. A recipe that I have also become known to bring to the parties (thank you Giada!)...

Espresso Brownie-Bites

Nonstick cooking spray
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix. Stir until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set. Cut into bite-size pieces to serve.