Monthly Archives: January 2009


Tomorrow, MM and I are going to a coed bachelorette party for a good friend of ours. She is a very successful set designer within the fashion industry. Her personality is a mix of hippy, funky, care-free, fun-loving, and charming all at the same time. She’s an artist, which usually means neurotic without being psychotic in NYC, but she’s actually very collected and fantastic. All of these characteristics and talents have also made her the perfect member of Norwood club – also the location of her bachelorette party.

Norwood is located in a five-story townhouse on 14th Street in the Meatpacking District. It serves as a multi-level haven for creative types who must be invited to be members. The members are primarily “artists” – including painters, musicians, writers, chefs, fashion designers, and collectors. The members are allowed to invite their esteemed guests with them, which resembles the point of the Soho House. Norwood, however, would like to be known as more exclusive and less “hip” or “chic.” Basically, its trying to outdo the Soho House, but in reality its just serving a different crowd. Most of the Soho House members probably wouldn’t enjoy Norwood as much as their own exclusive club. At Norwood, the atmosphere and the conversation are focused on the “art world” and the more authentic reality that apparently these artists exist in.

Members and their guests wander throughout the brownstone – in the high-ceilinged first floor lounge, the lantern-lit back garden, and the swankier third floor bar area. All of this provides plenty of creative space for aristocratic artists to play catch-up on their strange activities such as attending the odd artist festivals world-wide or even deer hunting in Scotland. The service is good, which it should be considering the thousands of dollars the members pay annually and the $20 drinks.

I’m sure MM and I will have a fantastic time – we have enjoyed our visits there before. But, in our eyes, it’s all about the company we keep. Whether it be at Norwood or the Soho House or even at our house…

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As we get closer to this Sunday, when the entire country should be wearing black & gold to cheer the Steelers on in Super Bowl XLIII (can you tell I’m from Pittsburgh?), I have been in search of the perfect NYC bar to get together with my friends to watch the game. There is no way I am going to be able to entertain all of our friends in my apartment with my perfectly-sized flat screen – its not huge, its perfect. 🙂

Priorities for the bar:

1. not too crowded – which can be nearly impossible in a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday
2. good televisions
3. good drinks and grub
4. not in an inconvenient place to get home late on a Sunday evening
5. must have seating – we are not trying to stand for 4 hours

Being that MM and I are not typically at the sports bars, I’ve had to do some research. Here’s the list I put out for my friends:
2. Village Pourhouse
4. The Blue Seats
5. Bounce Deuce

Right now, we’re holding a table reservation at Arctica because it is very close to home. Problem is, the table will not seat everyone at the same time…I’ll continue to make some calls, but I’d rather have something than nothing. I just want to see my STEELERS win!!!

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the chef’s loft

Last night, MM and I were treated to a full course dinner in a loft prepared by a personal chef. I know, I know. That sounds faaaaancy…but we were actually invited to help the chef organize his idea of having a loft where he can make private dinners for groups of people, parties, etc. He is also Italian, and he would like to create a “restaurant” in his loft so that people can have that feeling of privacy and exclusivity while eating a fantastically homemade meal.
He is from Umbria, so the menu he prepared primarily consisted of dishes that are native to his hometown. It was more elaborate than I was expecting, but I wasn’t complaining. He served a salad with carpaccio, bruschetta, pureed garbanzo beans with pancetta, asparagus lasagna, filet of pork and tiramisu. The menu was more detailed than that, but I accidentally forgot his hand-written menu to share all of the delicious details…
Most everything was fantastic – homemade pasta in the lasagna, the filet cooked in red wine, roasted garbanzo beans on top of the puree, and many other finely planned details that made a big difference. The only comments I had were minor and usually related to salt, which I will admit – I like too much.

Just to be sure that I would like to try to help him in his endeavors, we planned another dinner for next week! This time he will be serving pesce (fish)…I think it is only necessary for me to try both land and sea dishes.

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"The Michelin Guide. How to find perfect."

I have heard the word “Michelin stars” thrown around a lot in the restaurant industry, but I never actually looked into the source. I thought, for sure it wasn’t actually related to the TIRES! Boy, was I wrong…Michelin stars are given by the Michelin Guide, which is a rating system sponsored by Michelin, the tire company. Once I learned this, I had to do some research.

At the turn of the 20th century Michelin created the Michelin Guide to encourage motorists to travel. It was done in an effort to market their most recently introduced automobile. Now, that’s a stretch of a marketing ploy if I’ve ever heard of one! But, it caught on! This guide is more respected that Zaggat and it’s world-wide, which spreads further than Frank Bruni’s NY Times reviews.

There are 5 criteria factored into the designation of stars:

-The quality of the products
-The mastery of flavor and cooking
-The “personality” of the cuisine
-The value for the money
-The consistency between visits

Michelin has a team of full-time professional restaurant/hotel inspectors who anonymously evaluate establishments. All evaluations involve anonymous meals or overnight stays to have an honest assessment of the quality and the reliability of the experience.

One star = a very good restaurant in its category, a good place to stop on your journey.
Two stars = excellent cuisine, worth a detour, with specialties and wines of first-class quality.
Three stars = exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey, where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. The wine list features generally outstanding vintages and the surroundings and service are part of this unique experience, which is priced accordingly.

In addition to the awarding of stars, the Michelin Guide includes a description of each establishment and a variety of other symbols to give readers a clearer idea of the establishment’s ambiance, type of cuisine and specialties, and wine list, etc. The guide also provides a comfort rating with one to five forks and spoons for restaurants and one to five pavilions for hotels. These symbols take into consideration the decor, service, cleanliness and upkeep of the surroundings.

You learn something new every day…

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Broccoli & Cauliflower Orecchiette

Last night, MM and I had the pumas over for dinner. It’s a good feeling to end the weekend or start the week with good friends around a dinner table. Plus, we never usually have the opportunity to extend our table to its full capacity!

To split up the responsibilities and the cost, we gave each person a dish and covered all of the following: salad, protein, pasta, bread, dessert and wine. Sometimes, dinner doesn’t need to be as grand, but last night was our first time trying one of the puma’s meatball and sauce recipe. That called for a full complimentary menu. MM and I were in charge of the pasta and salad.

To go with the main entree of the evening – meatballs and sauce – we decided to go with a more mild pasta with vegetables. Broccoli & Cauliflower Orecchiette was the perfect call:

1 head of cauliflower
3 bushels of broccoli
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon of anchovy paste
1 box of orecciette
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 leaves of basil (chopped)
salt to taste

-boil broccoli and cauliflower in water till cooked
-remove broccoli and cauliflower but do not pout out the boiling water to keep for pasta
-heat garlic in olive oil till fragrant
-add anchovy paste and stir to release flavors
-add cooked broccoli and cauliflower to pan and mix
-add salt to taste
-smash the broccoli and cauliflower into small pieces to coat the orecciette as opposed to dominate in size
-add chopped basil and turn down heat
-boil water in pot again and add handful of salt
-add orecciette and cook until al dente
-add orecciette to sauce and turn up heat
-mix well to coat the pasta with the flavors
-serve with parmigiana, if desired

I plan on learning how to make the meatballs and sauce from my friend – so stay tuned!

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202 – fashion/food/faux pas?

To me, fashion and food go hand in hand. I believe that both are an expression of art and a huge portion of a person’s lifestyle. 202 in Chelsea Markets is a good example of how these two worlds can collide.

202 is a restaurant inside of a high-end store for clothes, housewares, and antiques from Paris and the South of France. The idea was London designer, Nicole Farhi – she also has a store in Notting Hill with the same name. The menu leans British and Mediterranean, with dishes like warm goat cheese salad with salty prosciutto, sweet figs, and toasted pistachios to English favorites like fish and chips. Their signature cocktails include honey mojitos, which have conjured up quite the talk around town.

From what I can gather from others who have been there, they either love it or they hate it. I guess some people don’t want to browse the blouses while chowing down on a salad. To each is own!

I will be going to 202 this evening to meet up with my ‘pumas’ – I am sure I will enjoy one of those mojitos and maybe try a dish, but in this economy I’m likely not to buy a Nicole Farhi item. At least this restaurant/store concept gets you for one or the other!

75 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea Markets
@ 16th St.

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the better cup o’ joe

I have been a loyal Starbucks patron for many, many years. There were a few “breaks” in our relationship – one for the years I lived abroad, and the others for the times I was depressed when I added up how much I spent on Starbucks each year. I saw a show once on how much you could save by making your own coffee, and it was basically enough to pay a month’s rent. But, these times passed and I would always find myself returning to the familiar smells and feels of the ‘buck.

I have to say, however, that the corporate hounds in charge of Starbucks do have things to worry about these days…people aren’t going to feel the same luxury brand loyalty when their losing their jobs and strapped for cash. People are going to cling to what is comfortable and genuine. Starbucks’ comfort level has dwindled in recent years as the staff has grown more bitter, the drinks worse quality, and the environment like a carbon copy all over the world.

I have even found myself looking for a more genuine, honest, and economical reality. I have found a place in NYC that offers these exact qualities: Joe – the art of coffee.

There are a few locations in Manhattan, and all have a sense of independent identity and something warm and cozy to offer their patrons. I found it while walking around the West Village one morning on my way to find croissants for MM. I then was told amazing things about it by MM’s neighbor. Now, I am having a little love affair.

I’m not sure what Starbucks would think, but then again – who over there is listening to me???

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