Archive for the ‘Food and Wine’ Category

On a beautiful day: I travelled to Long Island City, Hunters Point to be exact, to Chef Ian Kapitan’s new spot Alobar. I was reluctant that such grande cuisine would exist in Long Island City-I was wrong!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alobar, a beautiful restaurant, with large open seating windows, stressed wood ceilings, a long marble bar that evokes a bright airy dining room space. Alobar was started by Jeff Blath (Jane) and Lisa Kalick (a physcian). In the kitchen, Chef Ian Kapitan’s menu boasts the gammit of all elevated comfort meat and seafood dishes, especially PORK! You’ll find a decadent charcuterie plate with piles of sweet norcino salami, Virginia prosciutto, boar & hazelnut patè, theres a Duck Confit “sloppy joe” with smoked ricotta, truffle, red wine onions, topped with sunny side up duck egg and mixed greens.You may want to try the Mac & Cheese “Carbonara” with four cheese blend, pancetta, truffle braised egg? All these items are reason to go to Alobar-but my quest here was the burger!
 
 
Coined the Hunters Point Burger, Chef Ian concocts a behemoth like stack-of typical burger toppings- except done exceptionally! there’s a moist patty, blanketed with warm creamy melted cheddar, smoked balsamic onions, spicy pickles and beer battered bacon-Yes! beer battered bacon. It that wasn’t enough to satisfy your flavor addiction, it comes with a heaping bowl of-skin on- truffle fries. The burger arrived and already I was excited over the crispy slabs of beer battered fried bacon that my mouth wasn’t going to wait long to dig in.
The crunch of that beer battered porky goodness resting upon a juicy plump patty was need I say-the sexiest thing I’ve tasted in a long while. The robust sweetness of the onions and the creamy silkiness of a high quality cheddar was welcoming and extremely good.
 
Alobar is a snout to tail, meaty poolooza of a restaurant with a comfort sensibility to the palate . Everything here is good, it’s so good-it’s almost bad! You’ll enjoy every guilt ridden bite into flavor town. Well done Alobar!
 


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Alobar

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On a recent trip to the Opera, in Brooklyn no less-and yes- the DMANBURGER has culture ! I was forced to put aside my aspirations of an elevated meal prior to a saturated artistic evening. Having not made a reservation first, was a big mistake because we never knew this oasis of over- crowed restaurants in Ft. Greene existed. As an alternative, I was hoping to get into the likes of the Smoke Joint, and maybe chow down on a plate of ribs and multiple side of collard greens , cornbread and baked beans, perhaps a succulent steak frites from Cafe Lafayette. But much to my disappointment I was shunned away because of “no tables for the rest of the night”-lucky them. After a long trek in the rain, restaurant after restaurant but to no avail would my taste buds be satisfied. I wasn’t in the mood for a burger, especially before the Opera, I felt I should have something more. Drenched and annoyed , I succumbed to 67 Burger, with negativity that my snarky palate could not be satisfied ….I was wrong….! The burger was pretty damn good!  My first impression of 67 Burger was a well organized chaos. Attractive, young hipsters behind the counter dealing with the craziness with poise which made me feel happy and comforting. The menu here is simple- a list of juicy burgers either from the signature creations or an ala carte version-pick your toppings and choice of either beef, turkey, grilled chicken or the dreaded and a pointless veggie burger- why bother?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here at this bustling little community of burger fanatics are all sorts, families with screaming kids, a skateboarder clearly happy, an awkward first date and a lonesome guy on a rainy night, clearly cheered up by his first bite into simple burger pleasure. The aforementioned gleeful staff greets you and simultaneously brands you with a steel staff with a number so after a short wait, I hear “number 14” then you are sitting. My choice was the signature 67 burger ($9.25), a large 7oz. patty dripping with fat and meaty juices and dollop with creamy blue cheese and crispy slabs of smoked bacon, placed beneath.
 
The 67 burger was a party in the mouth, the funky goodness of the cheese and the crispy pork love, that is bacon, all complemented by a solid pairing of a fluffy muffin tin baked sesame bun, fresh tomatoes, thin sliced red onions, whole leaf lettuce and thick crinkle cut garlic pickles.67 burger is not without creation; get the Oaxaca burger ($10.00) a plump burger with the fresh avocado slices, homemade chipotle mayo, Cajun spices, and cheddar cheese. The gamut of burger choices don’t stop there! There’s a Greek, Italian and Parisian version of the humble sandwich, a little overkill- but admirable.
 
 
 
Let’s talk the obvious burger accompaniment-the fries. Here they are done well, fried sticks of potatoes that crunch in the mouth with a hint of salt and a soft center. The curly fry, previously created by that sub-par fast food joint Arby’s are done with perfection and showered with a helping of Cajun seasoning.67 Burger delivers a quality burger with superior service and a smile, although it comes with a price. Burger prices are definitely on the high side at this neighborhood burger shack. The everyday burger budget (with a couple of beers) is compromised. Put it this way, my opera ticket for “La Traviata” at the BAM was cheaper than my burger bill.But the juiciness, peppery flavor that you will receive is forgiving.
 


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As far as hamburgers go, few have reached such  fame as the “Jucy Lucy”.The creation comes from either Matt’s Bar or nearby 5-8 Club in Minneapolis MN. The misspelling of the name coins its mystery and renowned reputation. As the Wikipedia page explains “  Matt’s Bar boasts on posters that  if it’s spelled correctly, you’re at the wrong place”, while in contrast “Employees  at the 5-8 Club wear  shirts that boast  the legend ” If it’s spelled right, it’s done right.” Despite the combativeness, no one is denying the idea that stuffing a patty with a luscious type of cheese is a genius one. New York native, Craig Koenig and a few of his buddies recently opened Whitman’s Restaurant in the East Village, which opted for the correct spelling of his version as printed on the menu [Juicy Lucy]. A simple shop front marked “Slow Food*Beer*Wine*Cafe” opens into a small space with muddled decor. Accented with an Americana theme, Whitman’s is fitted with simple barnyard walled sidings and minimal country seating and white subway tiles with a wall-lined bench. Service is counter style where two styles of burgers are available-the Upstate Burger-an all grass fed creation with seared onions and ultra-secret special sauce and the famous “Juicy Lucy”. A Mama’s Boy free range chicken sandwich with Coffee BBQ sauce and Fennel-jalapeno slaw [$9] and a Succotash Maide-Rite [$9] made with cumin roasted carrots; corn, edamame and poblano cilantro with cilantro, round out the menu. Fried accoutrements consist of hand cut French fries and Crack Kale-a flash fried kale dusted with red pepper.
 
           
 
An avid burger follower and critic Koenig says, “We were inspired by all the food blogs and TV shows surrounding the Juicy Lucy, namely -Food Wars -as inspiration for starting the venture.” This is his first foray into the restaurant business after owning various bars and lounges around the city. Koenig transplanted California native chef Chris Edwards to head the helm where together they focus on classic ingredients with simple twists that are locally sourced. The pair worked on their version for the New York Juicy Lucy for several weeks as Koenig states “It’s all about the quality of the meat and a special Pimento cheese recipe that blend the form together.” The Counter at Whitman’s, is the casual spin-off of the upmarket version slated to open soon in the basement. The menu not complete but, will feature a “Black Label-esque” blend of burger which is being sculpted by a Brooklyn butcher, The Meat Hook-who Koenig says, “Doesn’t even deliver-we have to go pick it up.” 
 
       
   
 
 
As the Juicy Lucy arrived to my table the server warns me, “Watch out for your shirt- it can get messy.” Towered on a speckled sesame seed Blue Ribbon Bun with a vibrant green leaf of Bibb, caramelized onions, chunks of red tomato, spicy pickles and coated with mayo. The girth of the short rib blend was plump and glistening with color. A rush of pimento cheese flows into the mouth of the eater, bursting out of the patty with aggressive force, combined with a seasoned zest that represents Creole flavors. When asked what that was, Koenig stays tight lipped. The French fries were crispy, salty and plentiful, coupled with a wad of Crack Kale made for a wonderful gluttonous experience. Keeping in with Koenig’s idea of provided affordable fare to the neighborhood, he also features a small selection of quality Ales quench your beef soaked palate, Six point Rye and Blue point Summer Ale are available in frosted Mugs for $4-bottled beers for $7. With a the price tag of $8, the Juicy Lucy bursts in to the Gotham burger scene with succulence and originality.


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This truck stop diner-style slop house, nestled in a strip mall, claims to have “The Worlds Famous Hot dog”-but how’s the burger? A black and white checkered bathroom tile plasters the counter where a herd of good ole’ boys sporting John Deere hats with lower-lips full of tobacco greet you-or should I say -growl at you. The fare mainly is hot dogs, burgers, fries, typical breakfast combos. Tankards of beer are available for the thirsty, or alternatively, you can select a beverage from the “Cold Beverage Center”. It consists of a banged up commercial sized refrigerator packed with Sam’s Corner Mineral water, Grape Nehi and Yoo-Hoo-that watered down chocolate nightmare.
 

 
Amateur food charactertures are hung on the plywood sided walls, along with gaudy neon signs and a “Try our brains and eggs” placard. Littered around the room are cigarette machines, video casino games and fake Tattoo dispensers.  Perched on the counter is a neatly packed mini- bottle liquor cabinet to grog the golfers and the mostly retired folk that drift through these doors.After ordering from the counter, take a seat in bright red laminate benches where a selection of condiments are available table side including Heinz57, A1 and Malt Vinegar.
 
 
 
 
The griddled cheeseburger is served up on a paper plate with a nicely toasted bun, that’s slightly flattened, with wads of slivered lettuce dumped on a chewy chuck patty. Although the flavor of the beef is dull, the cheese is real and sharp and the pickles add a welcome cold snap. Onion rings are oversized salty and greasy. For a roadside diner burger, this is by no means the best in the world, but the colorful atmosphere that houses it is worth a gander.

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Under the Brooklyn Bridge inside the roofless skeleton of the Tobacco Warehouse last night, was the closing ceremony for this year’s NYC Food Film Festival. The event ran from June 23-27 and showcased foodie films which featured eye-popping images and poignant stories about several of America’s faved food haunts and tastes. The event culminated with an award ceremony/All you can eat Burgers n Beer Garden, hosted by NBC’S Cat Greenleaf. A proud Brooklyn resident herself, Greenleaf happily remarks “I love food and this event, and any burgers with bacon.”

Festival Creator and award winning filmmaker George Motz came up with idea of the event, when friend Harry Hawk suggested he screen his movie, Hamburger America, at Hawk’s restaurant. Motz recalls, “It rained, but 200 people still came!” He described the experience of creating the event similar to “throwing a wedding, it has been a tremendous success”. Someone who knows a little something about weddings- Josh Osersky, complimented his burger friend and colleague by saying “Motz coming out of documentary filmmaking, and not being a food guy, makes this event transcend from the usual feeding trough, it’s not just some event you go to-there’s an actual spirit to it and the fact that George and Harry are so passionate about the event shows through.”

Guests drifted around tasting burgers from 3 different meat vendors, Whole Foods, Pat La Frieda and Burger Maker with the “World’s Longest Topping Bar” to dress their creations with an infinite array of condiments and toppings. Anat Baron former executive of Mike’s Hard Lemonade screened her film to 600 burger eating guests- “Beer Wars”, which is a David and Goliath story reporting on the infighting of Americas Beer industry. Baron, with an allergy to alcohol, has never tasted beer, but after speaking with all the brewers, who specifically matched the flavors of the beers selected for the event, she says “Burgers and Beer are all American and apparently- the flavors go well together”. One of those beer flavors included at the event, was from star of the Beers Wars film Rhonda Kallman, who plays herself in the film. Kallman otherwise known as “Queen of Beer” and founder and CEO of New Century Brewing Company, offered up two of her new brews, soon to hit Manhattan bars-the light and crisp Edison and Moonshot, a pilsner with 69 mgs of caffeine added.

A “Queen” of a different kind, was honored in the film “Florent-Queen of the Meat Market“, which is the rise and fall story of West Village iconic diner Florent, and it’s charismatic beloved owner Florent Morellet. Florent auteur, David Sigal, last night accepted the “Made in New York Award” as well as the “Feature Film award”. Sigal received his award ironically from Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was in attendance, “I was honored to get the award from Mayor Bloomberg since I love New York City, this little diner in New York’s meatpacking district had so many stories to tell” says Sigal. An avid burger lover himself, Mayor Bloomberg sauntered around the event, politely cutting in line for toppings, while gorging on burgers and chatting with people. “So far I’ve had 2 beers and the reason I’m talking funny is because my mouth’s full of my second hamburger, if that’s not a testimony of the fact I like the event I don’t know what is” says Mayor Bloomberg.

Motz recalls “I sent the Mayor my book Hamburger America and he wrote me a letter back saying, I love hotdogs but hamburgers are a close second”. Next stop for the NYC Food Film Festival is Chicago, where Motz will franchise his festival for the First Annual Chicago Film Festival Sep 24-25.

As for the mayors favorite burger in the city…..he’s a JG Melon man.


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Mario Coppola and Chef Giuseppe Castellano of Gran Gusto [Cambridge Massachusetts] open Tiella on July 12th .Tiella’s railroad shaped space -so far, features rustic brick walls, dark wood modern decor and sleek drop  down lighting. In the kitchen is the smallest New York State approved brick oven, which will be firing up various baked Tiella dishes at a toasty 800 degrees.Get your baking and pastry
certification with mfa degree.
.The concept of Tiella was born after a raucous night at Brooklyn’s Rosewater restaurant, where Napoli natives and long time amici’s, Coppola and Castellano, were enjoying dinner-when one, jokingly said to the other -“why don’t you stick it in your Tiella!” Right at that moment the pair decided to devote an entire restaurant to a unique cast iron Neapolitan style pan by the same name.  
 
The “Tiella” pan was traditionally used by the poor of Naples, to fry, bake, grill and deep fry a dish, which was named after the pan itself. A selection of Tiellas will be featured- more likely as appetizers. “Giuseppe has about 10 Tiellas, we don’t know yet which ones we will use on the menu.” remarks Coppola. Some possible choices for Tiellas that appear are the “Fruilano”-with Tallegio and Speck; the “Proscuitto”-with Foie gras and Prosciutto and the “Pescatore”-with Mussels, clams and Mozzarella.
 
Tiella will also focus on many pastas, most of them homemade, such as a Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Clams and Zucchini and a Fettuccine Intergrale [Whole Wheat] with calamarelli and morel mushrooms. Again, with uncertainty of which dishes Castellano will choose to feature, Coppola says, “Poi per Secondi” -then switching back to English-“For main course, we could have something like a Branzino di Ceci [chick-pea cream sauce] or an Agnello [Rack of Lamb] marinated with fresh herbs and roasted in the “Tiella”pan with sautéed spinach.”      
 
Tiella will be open July 12th for Lunch from 12pm-3pm and Dinner from 5pm-11pm 6 days a week, they will also feature a selection of lesser known Italian wine varietals, such as Negra Amaro, Primitivo and Magliaco.       

  

 
Tiella
1109 1st Avenue
NY, NY 10065
x 61st
Ph:212.588.0100
Fx: 212.588.0102
 
http://www.tiellanyc.com/

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