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

Where to eat in Honduras (if you can find it)

About an hour to 90 minutes on the single lonely road from San Pedro Sula airport driving towards Copan you’ll find a restaurant that served my favorite meal throughout my eight day vacation in Honduras.

There aren’t too many people flocking to this country for a unique culinary food tour.  Many traditional Honduran dishes are quite simple where the most popular breakfast specialty, the baleada, is a wheat flour tortilla folded in half and filled with mashed fried beans and crumbled queso fresco.  If you’re feeling adventurous you can add a few other ingredients like roasted meat, avocado, plaintains or scrambled eggs.

Don’t get me wrong – like most Latin American cultures, in Honduras you can feel the love and care that goes into preparing (and celebrating) their food.  I think it’s the execution of the simplest ingredients that really made me appreciate how superbly delicious a meal can be.  The thinly sliced chicken breast was grilled to perfection with juices flowing through each bite like it was pulled from the bone with a flavor burst of chimichurri as if it had been marinating for weeks on end.  The plantains were perfect – not too thick, not too mushy.  Crisp bites of banana goodness.  Their version of the israeli salad even had a distinct vinegar dressing.  And don’t forget the extra chimichurri sauce on the side!

We loved it so much we had to stop there on our way back from Copan towards Tela.  Sorry I can’t find an address through Google search, but if you check the Restaurante El Galopa Facebook page you can find the number and call for better directions (if you speak Spanish).

Bon appétit!

One week countdown to France!

One week from today I’ll be on a plane from New York on my way to France.  I haven’t been there in almost 15 years.  My grandmother (Meme) was born and raised in Nancy, now lives in Palm Springs, but her sister and much of my extended family is in France.  I can hardly wait to reunite and relax, manger du fromage, boire beaucoup de vin, and eat and drink some more.

Meme is meeting me at Charles de Gaulle where we’ll hop on an Air France flight down to Bordeaux.  From there it’s about an hour and a half drive to Tante Renee’s place in Cere near Mont-de-Marsan.  My parents are driving from Spain so they will be there as well.  A big happy family reunion!  Four days lounging in the country side, a possible day trip to Biarritz and two days in Paris before I head home.

Yes, two days in Paris.  Not a lot of time.  I need your help prioritizing what to do and where I MUST go.  I started flagging my favorites in a Tripomatic itinerary but I’d like to gather any additional feedback and recommendations before I take off.  I’m staying in Saint-Germain near the Jardin du Luxembourg.

I will try live-blogging for the first time on vacation so we’ll see how that goes.  No promises with the amount of wine I plan to consume.

Appreciate your thoughts and feedback, mes amies.

à bientôt!

My last reunion with Meme and Tante Renee in March

My last reunion with Meme and Tante Renee in March