Where to eat in NYC: Almanac

Classically French-trained chef Galen Zamarra opened up Almanac last month in replacement of mas (la grillade) in the heart of the West Village.  It was a favorite of mine but, unfortunately, some neighbors weren’t too fond of the wood-fire grills and smoke.  When I heard about the hyper-seasonal concept of Almanac I wasn’t a bit surprised.  Chef Zamarra has an incredible knowledge, understanding and passion to honor the freshest ingredients of the season and bring them to life on a plate.  And it’s not just the farm-to-table approach that every other restaurant advertises, but you TRULY see and taste it in his dishes, as he narrows it down to what part of the season and what phase of the moon we’re in.  The preparations even change as the food evolves throughout its season. I’ve been down to the kitchen and have witnessed first hand just how much love, care (and oh my, the steps!) that go into plating a single dish.  AH-mazing!

Aside from the delectable fare and service, I must say I prefer the dining setting and decor in Almanac.  The rustic wood, dark red colors and dimmer lighting brings a more inviting, relaxing vibe.

Choose a la carte, or a three-, five-, or seven-course tasting menu.  I won’t share my favorite dish because everything is divine and the menu will change next week. 🙂

Go ahead and make a reservation, and check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Bon appétit!

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Where to eat: Mimi’s Hummus

My best bite of hummus hails from a dimly lit side alleyway in downtown Amman, Jordan.  In the event you are unable to make the 12 hour flight for an overnight food feast through the streets of Amman, Mimi’s Hummus in Brooklyn serves some of the most delicious hummus I’ve uncovered around New York.  My Israeli best friend will certainly be angry at me for this statement but my mom and I were simply in awe of the unparalleled creaminess of the simple Mediterranean staple.

I’ve only been there for brunch, but I imagine everything on the menu is delightful at any time of day.  Here’s what you need to order:

– Green Shakshuka (Braised swiss chard, tomato, sunny side eggs & Bulgarian cheese – NOT your ordinary feta).  It comes with a little side Israeli salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions)

– Hummus topped with mushroom and onion cumin stew served with warm, pillowy pita bread

– Mimi’s sandwich ( the house signature – open faced pita with lebane eggplant, roasted peppers and Bulgarian cheese)

The one issue I have with this restaurant is the remoteness of the Flatbush location, so if you are coming from Manhattan rent a Zipcar and drive.  The nearest subway is about a 10-15 minute walk.  And while I adore the quaint, homey feel of the restaurant, the 20 available seats fill up quickly so if you are planning to dine for brunch, I recommend arriving when the doors open.

Mimi’s Hummus

1209 Cortelyou Rd

Brooklyn, NY 11218

Weekend Brunch:  11am – 4pm

Wordless Wednesday: Happy 4th of July!

How are you celebrating Independence Day?  For the second year I am excited to sink my teeth into the 4th of July “Fit for a Bun” menu at one of my favorite restaurants, Mas (la grillade).  A seasonal menu of fresh, locally grown foods cooked solely over wood fires of oak, apple and other hardwoods, you can feel the heat of the grill without having to step out of the city (or lift a finger in the kitchen:).  Leave that up to master chef, Galen Zamarra.

Hope everyone enjoys the long holiday weekend and gets out for some sun!

NYC’s ‘Cue Central: Big Apple BBQ 2013

NYC is the epicenter for foodie events but with a ravenous and impatient population of eight million, pardon my language, you MUST have your shit together to pull off an event that makes people happy, full and hungry for more.  Some of them quickly become annual anticipations that keep getting better year over year, and others just become the not-so-Great Googa Mooga or a Food Truck Festival fiasco on Governor’s Island.

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is one of those annual anticipations for me.  Orchestrated by restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group, you expect nothing but exceptional service from the folks behind some of the top critically-acclaimed dining establishments in the country.

This carnivorous shin dig takes place one weekend each June in Madison Square Park so we can feed our face with award-winning barbecue and Southern-inspired fare from the country’s top pitmasters.   There are always plenty of fun and family-friendly activities with sponsored tents including interactive games and prizes, live music performances, grill-inspired tips and tricks from top chefs in the Seminar Tent, and the beer-sanctioned area (because what kind of barbecue would this be without beer?)

I never make the whole round but I was able to sample some beef brisket from NYC-based Hill Country, whole hog from Ayden, NC-based Skylight Inn, pulled pork shoulder from Charleston, SC-based Blackjack Barbecue and baby back ribs from Memphis Barbecue.

That ‘cue coupled with a few craft beers was plenty for me.  I left the 11th annual Big Apple Barbecue happy, full and hungry for more.  See you next year, pitmasters!