Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Would You Do

I received this text tonight: "How long should I wait OUTSIDE of trader joes before calling it a loss"

Trader Joe's is not a place to get hot concert tickets or the secret location of a sample sale - it's a grocery store.

Photo taken in line at Trader Joe's line: April 2010

Trader Joe's on 14th street is the outpost of California's genius idea to offer foods with their "Trader Joe" brand name to cut out the middle man, therefore cutting your costs. BARGAIN ALERT! In a sea of specialty grocery stores - seriously, I don't care if the sheep were hugged while giving the milk for this cheese - it's refreshing to find a grocery store that can be affordable, and dare I say cheap. Best of the other world is that the food is healthy, fresh, and tasty - I love their frozen veggies, snack size-packed almonds, and bags of mixed greens for salads. I am not an organic fanatic, but turns out most of what is available at Trader Joe's is organic - and at the lowest price available.

So to the lines - is it worth it? Is it worth walking over 15 minutes home carrying your bags of groceries? Is it worth standing in line for half an hour waiting for the cashier scooting your basket? With the "Grand Sampling Station", cheerful workers in Hawaiian shirts, and paying for a week's worth of groceries under $50, then yeah, I'd say it is worth it.

And don't forget to visit the Trader Joe Wine Shop next door - great wine on the chizzeap.

142 E. 14th St. New York, NY 10003

Trading Hours: 8 am - 10 pm

Phone: 212.529.4612

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pier Pressure

This Monday storm is not raining on my parade. Not after the glorious spring weather from this past weekend. After months of hibernation, New Yorkers quickly shed wool for tank tops the minute the temperature hits 64. I laughed at my roommate putting on her swimsuit while I left the apartment in my sandals. The lawns of Central Park tend to overwhelm me, so I prefer to park on one of the piers along the Hudson River. There is great debate over which pier is the best - some better for summer outdoor concerts, some better for sports, some better for people watching. My favorite is the one where Christopher Street meets the West Side Highway. Warning: those who are speedo-phobic should not go to this pier. Otherwise, put down the weekend to-do list and set aside your agenda - it's time to enjoy the cool river breeze, prime view of the Statue of Liberty and soak up the sun. Come on, everybody's doing it.

Surprise Birthday Picnic Brunch on the Pier -
Happy Birthday, Zack!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Farewell, Winter

After today's weather, it's official: spring has sprung.
6:30 p.m. + sun still out = me walking over 30 blocks home from work with a smile.

Hang up the puffy coat in the back of your closet, fold up your long johns (yes, there were days I wore long johns underneath my work clothes), but don't just yet put away your rain boots before April showers. I am giddy in anticipation of receiving evites to rooftop parties, eating at outdoor cafes, and picnics in the park...

Snowy afternoon, February 6, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Please Pack Your Knives and Geek Out

Keeping with the family and Top Chef motif, we decided to relocate for dessert and after dinner drinks to Tom Colicchio's recently opened Colicchio & Sons. Although the former Craftsteak space is technically one block north of 14th street, we had too great of an experience for me to not share.

I heard sightings of the head Top Chef judge at the restaurant, so I walked in with high hopes and wide open eyes to search for him and BAM! right as we walked in, I saw the back of his famous bald head sitting at a table and immediately knew it was him. The restaurant is divided into two sections: the tap room, home to a more informal menu and stretch of taps of dozens of domestic and international beers, and the main dining room, which only serves the tasting menu.

Massive two story wine wall dividing the tap room and the main dining room

Back to Tom: we sat in the tap room, just a few tables over from the spotted Tom, and I was GEEKING. OUT. I know it's weird to some that I would freak out about seeing a chef in person, but chefs are the celebrities of New York! Now, would I actually get to speak to him? Here comes the advantage of having a shameless woman from Texas as your mother. "We would like to speak to Tom, please" my mom said to the waiter. Halfway through eating our sweet desserts and tasty cocktails, sure enough the Exec Chef Colicchio shows up to our table to shake each of our hands. I can only imagine how wide the grin was on my face as I spoke, "Yeah, we just ate at Barbuto for dinner...oh it's right by where you live? Oh really? Me too - yeah, I live on 8th street" - you know, just casually chatting with fellow New York resident and neighbor, TOM COLICCHIO! We chatted about the Craft in Dallas, what his sons like to order when eating there, and his favorite beers, then the proud mom took it too far by talking about my blog. (She also did this to the waiter - but thanks Chris for reading!) But Tom could not have been nicer. Yeah, I just called him by his first name only.

Cinnamon Raisin Pain Perdu with pinenuts grapefruit & rosemary ice cream

Beignets with bourbon panna cotta & sour apple granita

Pass the Courvoisier, Barbuto Luke

Cheers to Colicchio with Tap Room Cocktails:

The Gentleman: Plymouth Gin, Muddled Mint, Fresh Lemon Juice and

The Highline: Prosecco, 10 Cane Rum, Lavender, Fresh Lemon Juice

Colicchio & Sons

85 Tenth Avenue (at the corner of 15th Street)


Monday - Thursday 12pm to 10pm
Friday 12pm - 11pm
Saturday 11am to 11pm
Sunday 11am to 10pm

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Family Style

My parents, Luke & Paula, booked a last minute flight to come visit me in February as an early birthday celebration/found a great air fare trip. You can blame my parents for me living here. Not because they are so terrible I needed to move that far away from Texas, but because they planned a family vacation to New York City in 1994 to see the Macy's Day Parade. At 10 years old I decided I was going to live in New York "when I grew up". I was sold after seeing Les Mis live for the first time, eating at Tavern on the Green (RIP), riding a carriage through Central Park and buying my Planet Hollywood t-shirt - I did not even know there was a 14th street then. I love when my parents come to visit because it is now my turn to show them New York.

Booking a last minute ticket set a challenge to quickly and strategically create a restaurant itinerary. I had to choose wisely. After reading my blog post on brussels sprouts, my dad requested we go to Westville for brunch to revisit his youth of eating the delicious vegetable. Brunch at Westville was a huge success and satisfying meal of course. Next: dinner. I have walked by Barbuto, always wanting to eat in the converted garage space, but never had the right occasion. Since becoming empty nesters, my parents have become big fans of Top Chef, so since Barbuto's Executive Chef, Jonathan Waxman, competed on Top Chef Masters, it was a perfect opportunity to eat at Barbuto. Not to mention that Barbuto means "beard" in Italian, so for those that know Luke and his famed (and graying) beard, it was even more perfect!

Candle lighting the Italian-focused menu with the Barbuto dog icon

The restaurant space like I mentioned is a large converted garage where during summer months, garage doors open for ideal outdoor dining. But since it was below 30 degrees, the closed garage doors functioned as walls, with floor to ceiling windows providing an open air feel in an industrial setting. The scene is a fun, loud and bustling neighborhood mix of large parties celebrating in the casual atmosphere and couples sharing an intimate meal over candlelight.

Outlined in the Italian format of antipasti, primi, secondi, and contorni, the menu changes seasonally. Our lively, knowledgeable and entertaining waiter explained Barbuto prides itself on serving organic and local produce before guiding us through his top recommendations. Like any good Italian meal, food is served family style. From the antipasti section, we ordered the prosciutto and bruschetta. I pretty much order prosciutto any time I can, and this was some of the best I have had. I am not a big salt person, rarely asking to pass the salt or season before I eat, but I kept thinking how every dish was perfectly seasoned. Perhaps that is from watching too many seasons of Top Chef judges critique the lack of salt...

Composed family style plate:
Tagliatelle al’agnello with lamb & pecorino ragu, wilted kale sautéed with garlic & chilis, and duck.

I was giddy happy at Barbuto: maybe because I was celebrating my birthday with my parents, or because the food was so delicious, or feeding off the energetic crowd or it was the second bottle of wine - or all of the above - I had a delightful time eating at Barbuto and highly recommend it.


775 Washington Street

212 924 9700

Monday - Wednesday: Noon - 11:00 p.m.

Thursday - Saturday: Noon - Midnight

Sunday: Noon - 10:00 p.m.