Image Courtesy of The Littlest Winslow
These miniature Bacon Cannoli actually contain a filling comprised of both Banana and Peanut Butter. So, shouldn’t it maybe be called the Elvis Cannoli? Find out how to make them at This Link!
Do you like Burgers? I sure do. Burgers have been a bit of a Thing for a while now, so there are many different places competing for your money when you want a red meat fix. There are a few places scattered around the city that I frequent, and each does something special with the simple culinary pleasure that is the hamburger. Now, I am adding a new favorite to that list.
Canadian Burger Chain Big Smoke Burger has just opened its flagship store in Chelsea and I recently had the pleasure of being won over by their no-frills approach to creating a big, juicy burger the way you would make one to fire up on your own backyard grill.
This past Sunday, July 13th, Big Smoke Burger held a private event in their new home on 7th Avenue, at which owner Anthony Fauci pledged a $20 donation for every person in the door from 6-10 PM. All proceeds went to The National Urban Technology Center and the Legacy School for Integrated Studies, located on West 14th Street, to help to transform young lives through the use of technology. So, good burgers for a good cause, woo!
During the fun evening, guests were invited to sample a full range of Big Smoke’s delicious sandwiches and sides, which include first rate hand-cut fries and also Poutine – a Canadian specialty similar to NYC’s own Disco Fries – which adds cheese curds and brown gravy atop a generous portion of fries. These indulgent fries are a meal on their own and are sure to win lots of fans!
The trays of fresh-from-the-grill burgers made the rounds every few minutes – it was sheer burger heaven!
Big Smoke’s menu is divided into a Classic Burgers section featuring Cheese and Double Cheese Burgers, Veggie Burgers and Grilled Chicken Breast Burgers, and Signature Burgers, including the namesake Big Smoke Burger, dressed with Lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, smoked cheddar cheese and horseradish mayo, which you see pictured above. This burger is amazing, so flavorful and juicy with fresh toppings. Plus, look how huge it is! A fresh Lamb Burger topped with Cilantro Feta spread is also on the menu and many other burgers include toppings such as goat cheese, roasted red peppers, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and variety of delicious mayonnaise-based sauces.
And who could resist a shot of one of Big Smoke Burger’s fresh and luscious Milkshakes? Not this girl!
There’s lots of room to dine in at communal tables and even a small bar, and the restaurant also has 880 square feet of outdoor space which should be open as a partially covered patio by fall 2014.
Service is also friendly, quick and personal, which is important and very much appreciated! One of our servers at Sunday’s event was King, who was all about friendly service. Thanks King, I hope to see you again on my next visit!
Big Smoke Burger is Located at 70 7th Avenue, Between 14th and 15th Streets, in Chelsea, New York City. Visit them online at This Link.
The Summer Fancy Food Show – which is sponsored by the Specialty Food Association – takes over NYC’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for three days each July, and it is the most fun thing imaginable for people who like food. This year’s event took place from Sunday June 29th through Tuesday July 1st, and while you really do need three days to “do” the show, I had to cram my visit into just one day (Sunday). My foodie friend and fellow writer Anne and I blazed a trail across three floors and two entire wings of Javits, coming away with very full tummies, even fuller bags of food swag and samples, and a ton of (mostly) hilarious photos, some of which I will share here. Enjoy!
Gummi Candy Bandaids - taste like fruit!
Whoop Ass Hot Sauce Bottles that look like little Cowboys.
Hotter than Hot. In other words, Very Hot.
Now, This a great product! Just add alcohol!
To demonstrate how delicious this butter is, they fried bits of cheese in it.
I wish had had made a note of the exhibitor in the booth where I took the picture above, because he was a complete dick to me. Dick.
Pink Hot Chocolate
Black Heart Licorice
I wonder if Bethenny Frankel is their spokesperson?
It’s a Birthday Party in a Bon Bon!
Giant Easter Candy Display from Sweet Works Chocolates!
Just Mayo: a mayonnaise product from Hampton Creek made with plant emulsifiers instead of eggs. Just Delicious!
Takeya Iced Tea’s Gets Super Arty.
Mr. Cucumber Head for Rick’s Pick K.O. Pickles!
Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper!
Sexy Pop Popcorn for use with the Whirley Popper!
Counting Sheep Coffee: Relaxing Coffee with Valerian Root. This product was a big hit at the show!
Red Velvet Cake Flavored Milk Chocolate.
Pulque Can Mariachis!
One of the great finds of the day was Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal. Anne and I asked the lady in the booth why it is called Holy Crap, and she replied, “Because it is very high in fiber!” “Ohhhh…” we replied in unison.
Icee Cherry Cake Bite Petit Four.
These little statuettes are Sofi Awards – “Sofi” standing for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation – which are awarded to outstanding specialty foods and beverages across 32 awards categories. These Sofis belong to Dancing Deer Baking Company.
The GoGo Gang. To make you “go” I guess.
3D Sugar Cake Topper by created by 3D Systems.
Coco Libre Coconut Water Giant Inflatable Display!
For more information on The Fancy Food Show, visit the Specialty Food Association’s website at This Link. See you next July!
Hey what’s up. I just got back from a long day spent grazing my way through the Summer Fancy Food Show, which is taking over Javits Convention Center here in Manhattan through Tuesday July 1st. What a fun show! You always arrive home with a full tummy and an even fuller bag of delicious food samples from vendors, literally, all over the globe. This year, I was very happy and surprised to meet John Bongiovi Sr., whose son fronts a eponymous, rather well known rock band, but spells the family name a bit differently. Artistic license!
John Sr was at Fancy Food to shill for the family Pasta Sauce business, and my pal Anne and I had the chance to not only taste their delicious sauce over a bit of perfectly cooked pasta, but we also got to chat a bit with Mr. Bongiovi, who is super nice and quite handsome. If I were ten years older and he was single, I would be all over it.
The Bongiovi Pasta Sauce Booth was raffling off this Les Paul guitar signed by John Jr. It looks like a nice guitar. Anne and I made him pose with it.
Visit Bongiovi Brand Dot Com to find out where you can buy this delcious sauce in your area!
You may recall Previously Reading about Better 4U Pizzas here on The Gig, because they are a super delicious, guilt-free way to enjoy pizza conveniently at home. Happily, our friends at Better 4U are keeping us in the loop with all of their new products, as we recently received a shipment of their latest pizza creations with a thin and crispy Sprouted Grain crust!
Like all Better 4U Pizzas, the new Sprouted Grain Pizzas are made entirely with All Natural Ingredients, and that includes everything that goes into making the crust and the sauce, plus all of the delicious toppings. The sprouted grain crusts do contain wheat, however, so they are not ideal for those on a Gluten-free diet.
Better 4U Sprouted Grain Pizzas come in three mouth-watering varietes:
Bruschetta Style: Topped with Mozzarella, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Basil
Old World Veggie: Topped with Mozzarella, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Spinach, Onion, Garlic, Diced Red Peppers and Oregano
Mediterranean: Topped with Spinach, Artichokes, Red Onions, Red Pepper, Kalamata Olives, Oregano and Feta
Here is the Brushetta Style pizza coming out of a hot oven. It is normal for the crust to be brown like that, so don’t worry that the dark color indicates overdoneness. As expected, the crust is light and crispy but supports the toppings well. With a salad, this is a pefect light summer dinner for two.
Better 4U’s Sprouted Grain crust is a delightful departure from traditional crust – or even their excellent Gluten Free crust offerings – in that it has a distinctive whole grain taste with a delicious nuttiness that I’d compare to 7 Grain toast. Very delicious!
Here are some photos of the Old World Veggie Pizza.
I happened to have a few leftover slices of Pepperoni, so I just threw them on the pizza before popping it into the oven – no harm no foul! Look how yummy and caramelized the onions get and yet the spinach maintains its bright green color, because the pizza cooks so fast. You can almost, as they say, “Taste it with your eyes.”
Indulging in these delcious pizzas is not going to lay waste to your diet plan either. One serving (half a pizza) is just 220 calories for the Old World Veggie and Mediterranean styles, and 230 calories per serving for the thin crust Bruschetta Style variety.
Find out more about Better 4U Sprouted Grain Pizzas and other fine Better 4U products, and locate the store near you that sells them, at This Link!
Tucked away on West 40th Street, midway between the Times Square Subway Hub and Port Authority, The Hudson Bond is a restaurant that’s ideally located to attract both an “after work cocktails” commuter crowd and the destination dating set. Seamlessly incorporating the best aspects of a hip, high-end lounge, a neighborhood sports bar and a comfortable mid-priced eatery, The Hudson Bond is welcoming and trendy at the same time.
A “smokers patio” – sealed off from the restaurant’s interior space but maintaining an open-air feel – has got to be a selling point for those who haven’t quite kicked the habit. And you have to love the topiary elephants and chimpanzees; a feature that surely no other restaurant in Manhattan can lay claim to.
The Hudson Bond features a varied American menu and it is easy to tailor your meal to include items that you are in the mood for. My dining companion and I wanted to taste a variety of dishes to get an idea of what the restaurant does best. Here’s what we ordered.
We are always on the lookout for an excellent Taco, and there are a few contenders on Hudson Bond’s menu. We split orders of both the Buffalo Chicken (inventive!) and the Steak Tacos, priced at $11 and $14 respectively for two huge tacos in each order. The Steak Tacos (pictured above) include generous chunks of grilled, marinated flank steak, mashed avocado, homemade salsa, fresh lettuce, shredded cheese, all folded into soft flour tortillas and drizzled with sour cream for a very tasty and satisfying meal.
Buffalo Wing enthusiasts are definitely encouraged to order the Buffalo Chicken Tacos, which is everything you love about a spicy Hot Wing, stuffed into a soft flour tortilla. I would actually call these tacos “overstuffed,” as they are bursting with tender pulled chicken drenched in hot wing sauce, and topped with cool shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, crumbled fresh Blue cheese and homemade Ranch dressing. Delicious!
A fun alternative to French Fries or Mozzarella Sticks – and a side dish that complements an order of tacos – is a warm basket of freshly made Avocado Frites ($10), which are lightly breaded and fried avocado slices served with a Southwestern Ranch dipping sauce. The mix of crunchy vs creamy textures is very appealing and the tangy sauce perfectly accents the mild avocado flavor.
A delicious and healthy light lunch option, or a great starter for two diners to share, is the fresh Spinach Salad ($17), featuring an abundance of tender baby spinach, crunchy candied walnuts, dried cranberries and crumbled fresh goat cheese, tossed with a lightly fruity balsamic vinaigrette.
While we were looking forward to trying the heavenly-sounding Rib Eye Steak with Blue Cheese and Bacon Butter (sigh), sadly the restaurant had run out of that cut of steak by the early evening. This was disappointing but perhaps it is understandable, if this item is a popular lunch choice. Still, we hope it does not happen often, as we will definitely make a return visit just to try this steak!
Fortunately, we were able to comfort ourselves with a delicious Herb Roasted Hen, on the menu for just $23. The dish arrives at your table as half of a tender and juicy Cornish Hen, seasoned with sprigs of fresh Rosemary, its skin roasted all golden and irresistibly crispy, and resting on a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes with a side of fresh sautéed spinach. I implore you, please do not order this item if you do not intend to eat the skin, which is (almost) the best part. The potatoes needed a bit of seasoning, but otherwise this was a perfect dish!
On Saturday Night, The Hudson Bond turns into a bit of Nightclub scene, so be sure to visit This Link to find out what that’s all about.
The Hudson Bond is Located at 215 West 40th Street (Between 7th and 8th Avenues) New York, NY 10018. Phone (212)719-1200 or visit The Hudson Bond Dot Com for Reservations and Information.
It was really by accident that we ended up at B & Co. on East 58th Street. Earlier in the day, plans called for us to dine on the lower east side, but electrical problems at that establishment saw our reservation moved to midtown. And what a fortuitous change of plans that turned out to be, because our meal at B & Co set a new bar for delicious food and very fine service in midtown Manhattan.
B & Co. is a months-old establishment, situated mid-block, directly across the street from FAO Schwartz Flagship store, that features not only a fine restaurant but also a lounge and a private club area – all on separate floors. We sat in the restaurant’s front bar area, where we could enjoy the mesmerizing honeycomb mirror that travels up the wall to the ceiling, while we lost ourselves in the ever-changing, farm-to-table fresh Northern Italian / Mediterranean cuisine.
Let me show you what we ate, and tell you a little bit about each dish, so you will have some good ideas of what to order for when you go there.
Have you ever had Burrata cheese? If not, you need to try it, because it is just insane. Burrata starts out as a mozzarella ball, to which mozzarella curd scraps are stuffed into the inside of the ball of cheese and topped off with fresh cream. The Burrata Pugliese ($24) pictured above is accompanied by locally farmed beefsteak tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with shredded fresh basil. It’s a perfect appetizer to share.
I never miss a chance to enjoy a beet salad and B&Co’s Barbabietola Red & Yellow Beet Salad ($16), with chunks of Brin d’Amour cheese and extra virgin olive oil, is satisfyingly delicious. It’s a very healthy choice and another great dish to share with a dining companion. And look how beautiful it is!
Look at the huge, tender sweet chunks of Butternut Squash nestled in this dish which is called Risotto Invernale ($40), a Northern Italian specialty that is suitable for vegetarians but oh so decadent and rich tasting. One of the more popular items on the menu, this risotto also features porcini mushroom and black truffle, cheese, cream and truffle oil. It smells as good as it tastes!
For a tasty red meat fix we ordered the Tagliata ($39), grassfed New York Strip Steak which features roasted golden fingerling potatoes and a flavorful Calvados sauce made with Apples, Apple Brandy and Heavy Cream. This dish is usually prepared with bone-in filet mignon, which was sadly unavailable on the night of our visit, but the NY Strip was cooked perfectly, surprisingly tender and juicy.
We ordered a side of gorgeous Broccoli Rabe ($9) to go with the steak, and it was easily the best broccoli rabe I have ever eaten. Sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and a tiny bit of garlic, proprietor Max Burgio told us that they deliberately use very little garlic in B & Co’s kitchen so that the natural flavors of the food are just enhanced and not overwhelmed.
And this beautiful thing, (sigh) this is how we ended our meal, with B & Co’s special house made Imperial Cannolo ($12), a delicate, crispy fried pastry shell stuffed with divinely light sweetened Ricotta filling (the key: less sugar) and garnished with fragrant candied Orange Peel, that will ruin you for any other type of traditional cannoli (the plural of cannolo) pastry ever again in your life. It was so huge, the two of us could not even finish it. Seriously, I could talk about this dessert for the rest of my life.
I can’t wait to go back to B & Co. and take all of my Foodie Friends with me. Every dish we ordered was like the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten and the service was just amazing. It may be in what I would call a “Destination neighborhood,” but the trip is totally worth it.
B & Co. is Located at 18 East 58th Street (Between Fifth and Madison) New York, NY 10022. Call (212) 838-3200 for Reservations or visit B and Co NYC Dot Com.
With delicious memories of its Winter showcase still lingering in our minds and tummies, we excitedly made our way to Food Fête’s Spring 2014 Health & Wellness media event, held on April 8th, 2014 in New York City. Exhibitors included a few of our longtime favorite products as well as hot new discoveries. Check it out!
Krusteaz was there, showcasing its newest products: a variety of Gluten Free Baking Mixes and Flatbread Mixes. Krusteaz’s Flatbread mixes are available in Italian Herb, Garlic & Onion and Whole Wheat flavors. These mixes are extremely versatile and are great for quick and easy pizza dinners, to serve with hummus or to make delicious appetizers, such as the fresh Caprese snack seen in the photo above.
Krusteaz’s Gluten Free Line includes: Buttermilk Pancake Mix, Blueberry Muffin Mix, Honey Cornbread and Muffin Mix and Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. With extensive experience with so many baking categories, the brand wants to provide consumers with a variety of gluten free options that are easy to bake and taste just like their traditional counterparts. Both Mix lines will be available at most major grocery chains starting in August, 2014. Look for future reviews here on The Gig!
Manitoba Harvest, makers of Hemp Hearts — the Hemp Seed kernel product with the delicious, nutty flavor and wide variety of uses — was on hand to promote their line of Hemp Protein Powders.
Packed with nutrients, each Hemp Pro variety is not only high in plant-based protein (which makes them vegan friendly) but also rich in omegas, delicious, convenient and easily digestible. Find out more about Manitoba Harvest Hemp Food products at This Link.
I have been eating Barbara’s Cereals for years and their Peanut Butter Puffins Cereal is my absolute favorite! At Food Fête, Barbara’s was all about their Multigrain Squarefuls Maple Brown Sugar Cereal – heart healthy, whole grain squares sweetened with real Maple Syrup — and Organic Snackimals – the first cereal in the natural and organic aisle with fun animal shapes, including lions, elephants and panda bears! Snackimals is an ideal healthy breakfast choice for children because it not only has a yummy chocolate taste and appealing crunch, but the little animals shapes are delightful. Even I wanted to play with them!
BelGioioso Cheeses impressed me with a line of products that represent some of the most seriously delicious cheeses I’ve ever tasted – and I know my cheese! BelGioioso has just launched its 50 Ways to Leave Your Butter campaign – with 50 ideas on how to use Mascarpone cheese besides its traditional use in Tiramisu. I did sample the Mascarpone and will enthusiastically agree that with its creamy texture, mild, sweet taste and less than half the calories, this spreadable cheese is a tempting substitute for butter.
BelGioioso also offered samples of its Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese – convenient 1 oz. packages of Fresh Mozzarella cheese, perfect for a convenient, light snack at only 70 calories per ounce. Good stuff!
Making its debut at Food Fête, Step One Foods impressed with a line of heart healthy mixes and snack bars. Step One Foods is the first-of-its-kind line of physician-formulated foods specifically designed to solve the dietary side of heart care. Developed by practicing cardiologist, Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, all Step One Foods contain scientifically-proven levels of the four critical nutritional building blocks for heart health: phytosterols, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
The Step One Foods product line includes dark chocolate bars, cranberry nut bars, oatmeal, a smoothie mix, a pancake mix and an anytime sprinkle — and samples of each were given out at the show. Every product is pre-portioned and comes in a single-serve package requiring minimal to no preparation. The Cranberry Nut Bars have a surprisingly tangy, fruity taste that other, granola-based snack bars don’t have, so that was a great surprise. Also, I made the pancakes for my breakfast this morning and they were easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. I would like to add that both Dr. Elizabeth and her associate, Barb, were super nice ladies. I wish them the best of luck with this line of excellent products.
So Delicious Dairy Free Foods — their name says it all — returned to Food Fête with some exciting new products, including a coconut milk based whipped topping and two new varieties of their flavored coconut milk beverage.
Read more about the So Delicious Dairy Free line of products — and download money saving coupons — at This Link.
It’s always great to see the folks at Enjoy Life Foods, whose Crunchy Flax Cereal and Soft Baked Bars have previously received much love from The Gig. Enjoy Life Foods has added Dark Chocolate Baking Morsels to its’ #1 selling Allergy Friendly Baking Chocolate line. Featuring 69% cacao and clean ingredients of unsweetened chocolate and natural cane sugar, it is the only gluten-free dark chocolate morsel on the market that is also dairy, nut and soy free. See what else Enjoy Life Foods has to offer at This Link!
Arnold®, Brownberry® and Oroweat® Premium Breads won the hearts of all the vegetarians at the show with their tiny vegetable sandwiches made on Arnold Whole Wheat Bread and Sandwich Thins. Cholesterol free with zero grams of Trans fat and no high fructose corn syrup, Arnold Whole Wheat Bread is fresh and soft with a delicious whole grain taste, while the Sandwich Thins are super versatile and very low in calories while not skimping on great taste!
Celebrating 20 Years in Business, Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods has a line of Veggie Burgers that will tempt even a devoted meat lover like myself. I was able to sample the Asian, Black Bean and Kale varieties and despite an admitted “fear of Kale,” I must admit it was quite tasty and not scary at all! There are no fillers or egg products in these burgers, just a fresh vegetable taste “where you recognize all the ingredients.” The California, Bombay, Tex Mex & Italian Veggie Burgers are also certified Vegan.
Thanks for reading and be sure to visit all of these great companies online!
Do you like cake? I sure do. Just recently, I was introduced to two fantastic new cake mixes from Duncan Hines® – a brand you know and trust – Blue Velvet and Pink Velvet, both of which I had the opportunity taste at Winter Food Fete. These mixes really elevate the quality of desserts that you can make conveniently at home.
Pink Velvet Cake (With Cake Balls) is Introduced at Winter Food Fete in February 2014
Just in time for Easter, Duncan Hines® has introduced Limited Edition Spring Velvets™ Cake Mix as a part of their new velvets line; the first in the baking aisle to extend velvet cake beyond the traditional red velvet. As you can see by these beautiful and tempting photos, Spring Velvets™ provides a uniquely colorful way to brighten up any spring time occasion!
Duncan Hines® Spring Velvets™ Cake Mix will be available at limited retailers nationwide only until May 2014, and has a suggested retail price of $1.99. Check out these two recipes for inspiring, lovely and delicious cakes you can make in time for Easter!
Spring Velvets Checkerboard Cake
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 10-12 servings
1 package of Duncan Hines® Spring Velvets Cake Mix
1 container Duncan Hines® Creamy Home-Style Cream Cheese Frosting
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 9×6 loaf pans with shortening or oil spray.
2. Prepare the batters according to the package directions and scoop each batter into each pan.
3. Bake 30-33 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out free of crumbs. Cool completely.
4. Slice the pink velvet in half lengthwise. Then take each half and slice it in half vertically. You will have 4 strips of cake.
5. Repeat the above process with the yellow velvet.
6. Place a pink slice next to a yellow slice onto a plate. Ice the top with frosting.
7. Next place a yellow slice on top of the pink slice and a pink slice on top of a yellow slice, Ice the top.
8. Repeat the above process until there are no more remaining cake slices.
9. Frost the entire cake upon completing the 4-layer checkerboard.
*Tip – You can build as many checkerboards as you want; you just need to cut smaller slices of cake – refer to picture for guidance.
Spring Velvets Bundt Cake
Hands on time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour and 40 minutes
Servings: 10-12 servings
1 Box of Duncan Hines® Spring Velvets Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz.) box of Lemon Instant Pudding and Pie Filling Mix, divided in half
1½ cups water
½ cup oil
1 cup powdered sugar
2Tbsp. lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt* pan or tube pan
2. Combine 2 eggs ¾ cup of water, ½ cup of dry pudding mix, and ¼ cup oil with first velvet cake mix.
3. In a separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, ¾ cup of water, ½ of dry pudding mix, and ¼ cup oil with second velvet cake mix
4. Beat each mix at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes.
5. Pour Yellow Velvet batter into pan
6. Pour Pink Velvet batter on top of the Yellow Velvet batter.
7. Insert a butter knife halfway into the batter when all of the batter is in the pan. Swirl the batter by gently moving the knife in a circular motion around the pan.
8. Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out free of crumbs.
9. Cool in a pan for 25 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Cool Completely
10. Make glaze by adding lemon juice to powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake.