Growing up in Southern California, I developed a passion for authentic (“California style”) Mexican food, because — and I mean this sincerely — even the simplest Mexican cuisine, when done right, is the best comfort food in the Universe. When I moved to New York City, I was horrified by numerous aggressively bad excuses for Mexican food, such as goat cheese quesadillas and enchiladas made with flour tortillas, which, just no. Thirty plus years later, New York City boasts a handful of decent-to-very-good Mexican restaurants, but nothing can compare to anything you can find at the Old Town Mexican Cafe, located in Old Town San Diego. Behold, the Crispy Cheese Quesadilla, one of Old Town’s specialties. This restaurant is famous for making its own flour and corn tortillas, and this unique, open-faced take on the quesadilla begins with a freshly-made, large flour tortilla, which is grilled to a flaky crispness before being smothered with mixed cheeses and served hot to your table with a side of sour cream. Mmmmm, deliciosa!
Do you dig comfort foods like loaded potato skins or loaded baked potatoes? If so, then you might be intrigued to know that the Loaded Potato Pancake is a thing that exists. I discovered this decadent fried delight when I visited Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square with my friend Jamie last week for a post-theater snack, and I was blown away by its extreme tastiness. Seriously; I am going to be talking about it for the rest of my life.
If you are not fortunate enough to live near a Junior’s, and you would like to try and emulate the Loaded Potato Pancake at home, here is what I believe you must do. First, make a huge potato pancake with shredded potato and onions, and fry it until it is golden and crisp. For your potato pancake to taste as insanely delish as Junior’s, the onions will need to get very crispy, so that they add a sweet crunch when you bit into it. Next, top the pancake with a generous portion of cheddar cheese (guideline: there is no such thing as too much cheese), and, if needed, melt the cheese with a brief pass under a broiler. After that, you can sprinkle the cheesey goodness with crispy bacon, and top with a dollop sour cream and fresh chives. Et Voilà! Enjoy!
In a city that loves to eat, Chinese is among the most popular cuisines in Manhattan. From Chinatown to Midtown, I frequent a handful of Chinese restaurants that consistently serve my favorite dishes with no disappointments, but there is always room to add one more to that list. Open since late August 2019, Red Peony, located in the heart of midtown’s upscale shopping district, is an elegant Chinese restaurant that feels like a secret oasis within the congested urban landscape. Specializing in both Cantonese and Szechuan-style dishes, Red Peony aims to be fully inclusive of every palate; with an extensive menu featuring both familiar favorites and exotic-sounding, visually tempting dishes I’ve not seen on other menus. Judging by the number of Chinese families gathered at its large round tables on the night of my visit, Red Peony offers a truly authentic dining experience.
The peony is the unofficial Chinese National Flower. It stands as a symbol of spring and female beauty, and it also represents richness, honor and high social class. A Red Peony specifically represents life and celebration, and you will find all of these values reflected in the restaurant’s opulent interior decor. The first floor dining area features the above pictured, tufted seating in vibrant red fabric, flanking ample-sized tables for two. Larger round tables in the center of the room can accommodate families and larger parties, and there is also a second floor, which is ideal for events and special occasions.
You’ll see lovely Asian artworks throughout the restaurant, as well as huge, painted red peony blooms adorning the walls at the entrance. The feeling is one of being immersed in an atmosphere of luxury and comfort — but just wait until you taste the food!
My dining companion had already visited Red Peony several times and, while she is an adventurous eater, she suggested we stick to shared favorites on my first visit, so that I could set a baseline for comparing Red Peony’s cuisine to my favorite establishments — a great idea! Who doesn’t love starting out a traditional Chinese meal with a crispy Scallion Pancake ($5.95)? This one was delivered to our table piping hot, flaky, golden and loaded with fresh scallions.
Here’s a closer look: you can almost taste it with your eyes. So good! This appetizer is served with a sweet and savory sauce on the side for dipping.
With so many items to choose from, we could not resist also ordering the Pan Fried Vegetable Dumplings ($7.95), with their delectable wrapper that gets nice and crispy from the pan while staying tender and easy to bite into on the top. These plump morsels are stuffed with finely minced carrots, cabbage and onions, and the mild flavor really perked up with just a dash of the sauce left over from our scallion pancake!
One unique appetizer that I will be ordering on my next visit is this mouthwatering Crispy Bacon and Shrimp Roll ($6.95). Doesn’t that look amazing?
Sesame Chicken ($20.95) is one of my favorite main dishes, and I am not fronting when I say that the sesame chicken served at Red Peony is the best I’ve tasted anywhere. Each bite is perfectly tender and juicy white meat chicken, tossed lightly in flour before being quick-fried to a non-greasy presentation, with a sauce that’s not-too sweet, and a flavorful dusting of toasted season seeds. It’s flawless, and the generous serving can easily satisfy three hungry people (or, you can just take the leftovers home)!
Red Peony’s special Shanghai Fried Rice ($9.95) with scallions and egg, was a perfect accompaniment to our delicious chicken entree. How they make fried rice that is not greasy at all is a mystery to me.
This looks like a fresh and tasty meal that you would be proud to serve to your family at home, but it tastes even better at Red Peony, because they made it for you (and, let’s be honest; their secret recipes make it taste better than you or I could).
For those who want to make any meal feel like a special occasion, Red Peony does a whole Peking Duck served with all of the traditional accompaniments for just $58! Bring a few friends along and discover what everyone loves about the delicacy (reservations recommended if you plan to order this dish)!
When it’s time for dessert, Red Peony offers a selection of sweet treats that you won’t find anywhere else, and I loved the vibrant photographs that show you just what to expect when the dish arrives at your table — because presentation is everything. These Sweet Egg Custard Bun ($6.95) — which look like three little pigs!– have me intrigued for a future visit!
This tasty looking dessert is called Stew Peach Gum Tremella Soup ($10.95), a sweet, gelatinous dish featuring the resin from peach and Chinese wild peach trees. The nutritional content of peach gum is off the charts, so you might want to ask your server about this on your next visit.
We were so stuffed, but wanted to add a little something to top off such a great meal, and these Red Bean Short Cakes ($4.95) were the perfect finishing touch. These little fried turnovers feature a flaky crust stuffed with sweet red bean paste, and garnished with toasted black sesame seeds. We enjoyed them with the pot of green tea which accompanies your meal free of charge.
You can see by the prices included here that Red Peony is very reasonably priced, making it one of the best dining out values in midtown, by far. At press time the restaurant does not yet have its liquor license, but they welcome you to bring your own bottle of wine. I’m looking forward to a return visit!
Red Peony Chinese Restaurant is Located at 24 West 56 Street Between 5th and 6th Avenues in Manhattan. Check Out Their Extensive Menu, Make a Reservation, or Order Online at Red Peony Restaurant Dot Com !
With single-use plastics on the way out, one consumer item that will be most-impacted by the need for alternative packaging is something we use every day: Water. Most everyone carries their own portable water bottle when they’re on-the-go these days, but when you’re away from a source for refilling that bottle, the need to buy ‘bottled’ water remains. It’s exciting to see how manufacturers will meet the demand for sustainable consumer packaging going forward, and one company that’s definitely blazing the trail is JUST Water, a product that I was introduced to at the recent BDNY Hospitality Industry show at Javits Center.
JUST was created by a group of environmentally-conscious individuals who came together to drive social and environmental impact through a business that rethinks how we source, deliver and consume the items we hold in our hands every day. The company’s business model combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives with the goal of affordably offering products with impact. JUST was created to be Better for Everyone®.
From the beginning, JUST Water comes a from a renewable source: the Glens Falls watershed in Upstate New York, which is a sustainable source of spring water. They pay the community six times the going rate for its water. By placing a greater value on an abundant natural resource which has been historically undervalued, JUST Water provides a new income source for the city, which is expected to reach $1 million over the next 3 – 5 years. This income helps maintain the infrastructure and funds repairs to the aging water pipes, benefitting everybody.
Moving on to the innovative packaging, which is made of paper with a plant-based-plastic cap, 82% of every JUST Water carton is plant-derived. The result: a 74% reduction in carbon emissions compared to a standard plastic water bottle.
JUST Water delivers refreshing, delicious spring water in a guilt-free package, and for those who prefer a light fruit taste in their water, it also comes in four organic, fruit-infused flavors: Cherry, Orange, Lemon, and Lime. Find out more about JUST Water, and get a discount towards your purchase, at Just Water Dot Com.
New York City knows how to do food. No matter what type of cuisine you’re craving, finding a great restaurant is easy. But when you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might end up settling for a place that offers just a few meatless choices, rather than walking into a restaurant where you can enjoy every dish on the menu. And while there’s a Sweet Green or Chop’t on nearly every block, it’s challenging to find a healthy, quick lunch alternative when you are tired of eating salad. This is why the NYC arrival of vegan restaurant chain Copper Branch is cause for genuine excitement!
Copper Branch was founded in 2014 and currently has 50 locations across Canada (and six in Europe), but the chain’s new store in NYC marks its first US location. In mid-September, just a few days after the store opened, I was invited to a private tasting at Copper Branch where guests had the chance to taste not only bite-size samples of many popular menu items, but were also invited to order anything on the menu that we wanted to try. As a confirmed meat-eater myself, what I discovered is that Copper Branch is about so much more than veggie burgers and tofu: this is vegan food that even a die-hard carnivore can get enthusiastic about. Check out just a few of the items offered on Copper Branch‘s very extensive, all plant-based menu.
The satisfying Mushroom Galaxy Burger starts with an oven-roasted portobello mushroom, which is topped with zucchini slices, carmelized onions, vegan provolone cheese, lettuce and aioli sauce. All burgers and sandwiches are served on your choice of organic kamut (an ancient variety of wheat) or gluten-free bun, collard green wrap or organic spelt wrap.
Copper Branch also offers a delicious Spicy Black Bean Burger (which I tasted but neglected to photograph) and a Beet Burger, bites of which are pictured above. I love beets, so I really enjoyed this item, which is served as a patty comprised of beets, organic brown rice, pea protein, sesame seeds organic hemp seeds, sunflowers seeds and lemon juice. These sample bites were dressed as the burger is, with sprouts, caramelized onions, shredded lettuce and Dijon and maple ‘vegenaise.’ I would definitely go back for this burger alone!
Beet fans can also enjoy organic Beet Hummus served with house-made Blue Corn Chips!
I know there’s a lot of greenery here but underneath fresh lettuce, sprouts and tomatoes is one of Copper Branch‘s tasty specialties: Shiitake Teriyaki Mushrooms, which can be served as a Sandwich or a Burger. The taste and texture is comparable to teriyaki chicken.
Pictured above is a bite-size tasting of the Zucchini Noodles with Italian-inspired ‘Coppernata‘, a take on Caponata, the delicious Sicilian eggplant dish. This combination is available in one of the Signature Bowls for a hearty, healthy vegan meal that you won’t find anywhere else in the city!
Do you like Nachos? Who doesn’t! Featuring black beans, vegan cheese, jalapeños, olives, tomatoes, vegan sour cream and guacamole piled onto organic blue corn chips, at Copper Branch, you can enjoy this Mexican favorite guilt-free!
Soy-based Spicy Buffalo Wings (served with sriracha cole slaw and a choice of dipping sauces) could please the most discerning palate. They taste just like your favorite spicy wings and they even look like chicken on the inside.
Also on the menu are oven-baked Copper Cubes (made with white potatoes) and Sweet Potato Copper Cubes as a popular and health-conscious alternative to french fries.
You can make you own bowl or choose from a selection of Copper Branch‘s own creations, such as the Asian Fusion Bowl seen above, which features edamame salad, organic kimchi, lettuce, beets, spiced chickpeas, carrots, broccoli and non-GMO General Tao sauce. The bowl above was customized with the addition of Tofu Scramble.
A breakfast menu, featuring Copper Branch Blueberry Cocoa Waffles, is served all day!
Copper Branch will cater your next event or office party!
There’s also a selection of house-made vegan desserts, like this most and decadent Chocolate Zucchini Brownie!
And now, dear readers a Special Offer: To further celebrate Copper Branch‘s New York City location, the restaurant is offering a FREE General Copper Bowl or a Black Bean Burger — two of their most popular menu items — to both new and repeat customers at the Greenwich Village location for one day only! The General Copper Bowl is a specialty that features General Tao tofu, fresh avocado, sriracha coleslaw, steamed broccoli and organic brown rice. The Black Bean Burger is a classic, featuring a black bean and sweet potato patty, tomato, lettuce, vegan Southwest sauce, all on an organic Kamut bun. This special promotion will be held all day on Friday, October 25th, 2019. Store hours are 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. The offer is valid for one item per customer and it cannot be combined with any other offer or promotion. Tell them Worleygig.com sent you!
Copper Branch NYC is Located at 195 Bleecker Street (Between 6th Avenue and Macdougal), in New York’s Greenwich Village. For More Locations, Menus and Other Details, Visit Eat Copper Branch Dot Com.
Watch a Video from the Opening Night Event!
This summer, Jarlsberg launched its second annual Global Burger Awareness campaign, starring two of everyone’s summer favorites: Burgers and Cheese. As part of the campaign, Internationally acclaimed chef Elizabeth Haigh, who is considered to be one of the brightest shining stars on the London culinary scene, created four burger recipes, each with an essential story: the Northern Temptation, Nutty Mushroom Melt, Orient Cheese Express and the Korean Hot Bite.
The Global Burger Awareness campaign hit stores and social media, showcasing the excitement and versatility of Jarlsberg Cheese. While the campaign has officially ended, the burgers live on. Check out these international beauties!
The Northern Temptation Burger, based on an exotic Swedish recipe, features regionally specific ingredients such as thinly sliced Reindeer meat, freshly Pickled Chanterelles and Lingonberries. Find the recipe Here.
The Nutty Mushroom Melt is a Vegetarian, mushroom-based burger with Jarlsberg double layered on the patty and the bun, for extra melty goodness. In addition to mushrooms, the vegetarian patty includes black beans, walnuts and rice, and the recipe also includes step-by-step directions for making your own pickles to top the burger. Check out the super easy-to-follow recipe Here.
Are you craving a burger with little extra kick? Try the Korean Hot Bite; a seitan-based veggie burger with melted Jarlsberg that’s first coated in a seasoned-flour mixture — that includes pulverized ramen noodles — and then fried to a crispy finish! Top with Vegan Kimchi, et voila! Recipe Here!
Homemade Gochujang Mayonnaise (with red chili paste) is a secret ingredient of the Orient Cheese Express Burger. This is a juicy beef burger that you can make with or without added bone marrow. Find the recipe Here.
Enjoy, and thanks to Jarlsberg for the delicious cheese featured in this post!
Food Glorious Fancy Food: the most-anticipated annual food show is now behind us, and I must say that nobody has their act together quite like the Specialty Food Association does when they take over the Javits Center for the annual Summer Fancy Food Show here in NYC. Cheese whiz, what a fantastic show!
There is so much ground to cover when attempting to distill the Summer Fancy Food Experience, and it’s a monumental task because, as the largest show of its kind, there are literally thousands of participating exhibitors! This year, I was fancying a wide variety of sweet treats and snacks. Let’s go to the photos!
Mmm, don’t these look delicious? C’est Gourmet makes exceptional artisanal pastries – in both sweet and savory varieties – that arrive frozen so that customers can bake fresh pastries at home easily and conveniently. C’est Gourmet selects only the finest ingredients, including organic fruit and artisan cheeses, and they have mastered their own European methods of laminating and resting dough, which results in flavorful pastries with crispy, flaky texture, and a memorable eating experience. C’est Gourmet’s newest offering is the Croissant Muffin (pictured above). I could eat a dozen of them!
Bakerly Crepes To Go are authentic French Crepes rolled with delicious fillings and packaged individually for bakery-fresh, grab-and-go snacking! I discovered Bakerly crepes a few years ago and they are now one of my very favorite snacks! Fillings inside each impossibly flaky crepe include Chocolate Hazelnut, Crunchy Chocolate Hazelnut, Crunchy Caramel, and Strawberry. Take one bite and you will understand immediately why Bakerly’s website is loaded with glowing five-star reviews of these extremely yummy crepe treats!!
Sugar Bowl Bakery makes tiny snack-sized cakes that are instantly addictive, but my favorites are their Duet Bites.
Duet Bites are two treats in one, combining a luscious almond-flavored Madeleine cake and a moist chocolate Brownie in one tiny cake. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
Resistance is futile.
By the time you say the name of Dewey’s Bakery Donut Shop Soft Baked Cookies Collection, your mouth will be watering, just imagining the dream-like idea of cookies that taste like donuts.
Choose from Old Fashion Glazed, Cinnamon Bun, Chocolate Glazed, Apple Fritter and other luscious varieties. Best served warm!
And while we’re talking about Donut Cookies, check out these Donut Hole Cookies, which are brand new from Too Good Gourmet. Enrobed in a sense-tempting glaze and colorful sprinkles, they look as amazing as they taste.
If you seek a sweet snack that manages to be both indulgent and healthy, you may flip for Tru Fru; 100% frozen fresh (aka freeze dried) fruit — cherries, strawberries, raspberries and chunks of coconut — encased in white, milk, or dark chocolate. Mmmm.
I sampled Tru Fru’s Whole Raspberries in White & Milk Chocolate and they were just insane. Unlike dehydrating, the process of freeze-drying locks in the majority (97+%) of the vitamins, nutrition, taste color and texture the fruit. Tru Fru is a unique fruit-based snack that lives up to its name.
Behold, an idea whose time has come: Candy Pop popcorn (by Nestle) is Butterfinger candy-coated popcorn drizzled with peanut butter. Please pass the dental floss!
Socado Funky Pretzel Truffles have successfully harnessed the power of the sweet and savory combination. Individually wrapped for extra fanciness, these crunchy, sweet morsels of endless goodness take the Milk Chocolate Truffle experience even further, adding a creamy filling studded with salted pretzel bits. Kill me.
Hands Off My Chocolate truffles are made with the finest fair Belgian chocolate. They not only come in unique flavors such as Strawberry Meringue and Cinnamon Cookie, but some varieties also embrace interesting shapes, like these highly-Instagrammable truffles that look like a sunny-side up egg. Fun! Hands Off My Chocolate‘s packaging illustrations are also very whimsical.
Remember the popular Birthday Cake flavor profile from SFFS18? Hands Off My Chocolate is keeping it on-trend!
Halloween is not too far away to make you aware of this Witches’ Finger Cookie Kit from The Invisible Chef! Bake up a batch to keep the little Goblins happy!
Inside this classy-looking, cylindrical red box, there lurks one of the most unique food products I saw on the exhibition hall floor. Let’s see what’s inside!
Well, it’s Fiasconaro Dolce Presepe, a traditional Italian holiday cake made with fresh candied orange and raisins, and flavored with Marsala and Zibibbo (I had to look it up; it’s an Italian white wine) that surrounds a nativity scene carved from white chocolate. Holy Italian Cake! It is almost too fancy to eat. Almost.
Eventually, someone had to invent the Waffleshot: a edible cup made from an ice cream waffle cone, coated inside with Belgian chocolate and, depending on the variety you choose, possibly hiding a filling at the bottom. I mean, it was only a matter of time.
Look at these cups. Just look at them, ready to be filled with hot coffee, cocoa or espresso. Or whatever.
Created by Los Angeles-based sisters Doris and Naomi, Waffleshots come in a variety of exciting flavors and can be purchased at This Link, just in time for the Holidays!
If you like nuts and you also like cheese (because who doesn’t) you may be intrigued to know that nuts are now being used to make cheese. Yes I just typed that. Parmela Creamery Aged Nutcheese is traditionally cultured from creamy whole cashew milk. OMG.
This quesadilla was made with Parmela Creamery’s shredded, sharp cheddar variety artisanal nutcheese and it tasted as delicious as you would expect any quesadilla to taste! What a welcome product for the lactose intolerant, or anyone who cares about reducing greenhouse gasses caused by cattle farming. A delicious product with a conscience deserves our support!
Nuts are also getting into the world of dairy with Milkadamia products, which are derived from the finest raw macadamia nuts — because plant-based dairy is officially a thing.
Milkadamia Buttery Spread, a heart-healthy, reduced calorie alternative to butter and margarine, was a new product at SFFS19. This spread has a fantastic buttery taste and a light, creamy texture. Milkadamia also has an extensive line of macadamia nut-based milks and creamers. At the show, I was given a 32 oz carton of their Unsweetened Vanilla Macadamia Milk to take home, which I enjoyed on cereal and in my coffee over the course of three weeks. I emphasis three weeks because a message on the carton recommends consuming the milk within seven days after opening, but it tasted very fresh and delicious for three times that long. Worth noting!
Another trending ingredient among a more health-conscious consumer base is Cauliflower. Not surprisingly, we saw new products at SFFS19 using this versatile vegetable in innovative ways. From the Ground Up makes familiar savory snacks, with a plant-based twist, with their line of Cauliflower-based Tortilla Chips, Stalks, Pretzels and Crackers. Yummy.
Crepini brand Egg Thins crepes, made with cauliflower, are a carb-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly bread alternative.
I sampled Egg Thins cauliflower crepes rolled up with a slice of deli turkey at the show, and it was a super tasty snack. These crepes would be a great starting point for creative party snacks to impress even your most finicky guest. I definitely will be following up with Crepini post-SFFS!
The Summer Fancy Food Show is an place ideal to discover a vast selection of gourmet variety jams, dips, spreads and sauces. A leader in this category is Terrapin Ridge Farms, who were one of the first outlets I know of to market several kinds of Bacon Jam!
Terrapin Ridge Farms products allow the home cook to redefine his or her approach to food, entertaining and cooking. One jar of their sauces eliminates the need to buy multiple ingredients and spend hours in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend with your guests! Margarita Jelly, which can enhance the flavors of meats or sweets, is one of their new products on the shelf!
Stonewall Kitchen, unique not just for the distinctive hand-written-look of its labels, but for the culinary innovation that goes into all of its sauces, jams, dips and spreads, always has dozens of delicious new products to sample SFFS. This year I especially loved the Apple Blueberry Salsa and Bacon Queso!
The memorably-named Bitchin’ Sauce took home a pair of Sofi Awards for its delicious Almond Dip! Congratulations!
Freak Flag Organics, possibly the best-named product in the sauces category, makes a healthy Kale Pesto that tastes great on pizza or pasta, or used in dips. Let your Freak Flag fly in the kitchen!
Crazy Go Nuts Walnut Butter not only has a funny name and a wacky label, but it also tastes amazing! Co-owned by friends Courtney Carini and David Wolfe, Crazy Go Nuts is a small business dedicated to environmental advocacy as they turn the superfood that is the walnut into a delectable, wholesome spread that tastes great on bread, fruit, or just eaten by the spoonful from the jar! You can buy Crazy Go Nuts products on Amazon!
O’Dang Hummus makes a line of flavorful and low calorie chickpea-based bottled Salad Dressings.
Macaroni and Cheese from a box, despite its crave-able taste and comforting mouth feel, can get a bad rap for being a convenience food that’s perhaps not so good for you. Funny Farm Macaroni & Cheese Dinner mixes (by LaLoos) challenge that notion, appealing to ‘kids of all ages,’ as they say, for its use of lower-in-fat goats’ milk-based cheese and its absence of preservatives, artificial flavors and synthetic dyes. I tried Funny Farm Mac & Cheese at SFFS and can conclude that it is one of the best-tasting dinner mixes I’ve encountered. They also make a version with the same enriched pasta, but in the shapes of little goats, pizza slices and ice cream cones, to get the little ones on board.
Funny Farm also had these Cheese Wedge-Shaped Mardi Gras Beads as giveaways in their booth!
Also getting into the game of healthier Mac and Cheese in fun shapes is Pastabilities (bonus points for getting to that name first), who make this organic Mac ‘N Cheese dinner with pasta in the shapes of princesses, crowns and castles! Why didn’t this exist when I was a child?
Moon Cheese (Cheese That Crunches) has all the flavor and nutrition of real cheese because it is really just 100% delicious cheese that has been made into little crunchy nuggets. Without additives or preservatives, crunchy Moon Cheese is a perfect on-the-go healthy snack that needs no refrigeration! They also gave my first-ever fidget spinner! Yay, Moon Cheese!
Check out these random products that made it into the recap for their funny names or eye-catching packages!
Kudos to Java Factory for its Smooth Caffeinator medium-roast Keurig pods. You know you hear Sade crooning in your head right now. You’re welcome.
I love this name: Tea Pigs. Because pigs. Tea Pigs is a UK-based small company dedicated to the enjoyment and worshipping of tea. Tea Pigs is a high-quality, whole-leaf tea that, rather than a standard tea bag, comes in a roomy, biodegradable mesh bag that they call a tea temple. I love it.
Wouldn’t this Lychee & Rose cold brew tea taste refreshing on a hot summer day? You know it would. Tea Pigs teas are available in the US via Amazon.
There is so much more to and Mrs. Muffin and Mr. Brownie than set of adorable names. These individually-wrapped mini snack cakes are so delicious, you really should read the brand backstory for yourself!
Uglies Kettle Cooked Potato Chips are delicious chips crafted from potatoes with minor cosmetic imperfections. This includes potatoes that are too large or too small; those with the wrong color or the wrong sugar content. Some of the potatoes are slightly blemished and, of course, some are just farmer surplus. Until now, these orphaned potatoes were destined to become food waste. Uglies has helped to reduce food waste by saving over 1,500,000 pounds of potatoes since 2017. Uglies for the win!
King Floyds Bitters: Bitters are not my thing, but the name made me smile!
Joe Tea and Joe’s Lemonade: Because these label are works of art!
My favorite product that isn’t exactly a food product, but is nevertheless edible, goes to Gerrit’s Top This! Edible Cake Toppers, made by retro and nostalgic candy company Gerrit Verburg! These take me back.
Now I’d love to pay homage to the exhibitors who went the extra distance to guarantee that the Summer Fancy Food Show is Instagram-able for more than just the food. Check out these creative displays, fun use of props and outstanding booth designs!
Goodie Girl, makers of gluten-free cookies in both creative and classic varieties, got a brand new sign this year: a Pink Neon glow encircling their Giggling Goodie Girl logo! Distinctive and fitting!
Goodie Girl Magical Animal Crackers are new on the shelf now!
Salsa God, makers of delicious spicy salsa varieties, earns a mention in our recap each year, because skulls! I love these little Day Of The Dead skulls!
Salsa God’s new product on the shelf is this Chips & Salsa Combo Pack, so that you can enjoy crunchy tortilla chips and fresh hot salsa as a grab-and-go snack any time! Salsa God!
Got Attitude Vodka made the most of a less-than-desirable end-of-the-aisle booth location by bringing in a mechanical Fire Breathing Dragon! Every few minutes, the dragon’s mouth would open wide, its eyes would begin to glow red, and smoke would emerge from its mouth, along with a mighty roar! You had better believe everybody stopped by for a sip and a snap!
Got Attitude Vodka is smooth and sassy, and tastes great with any mixer, or on the rocks with a twist. It’s a party in a bottle!
Here’s a close-up of the dragon’s glowing-red eyes (which I imagine would be more impressionable in the dark)! Still, it provided show-goers with a memorable Game of Thrones-style moment!
Over at the Jelly Belly booth, there was a photo op with Mr. Jelly Belly, who is the brand’s official mascot! He is all kinds of cute.
Jelly Belly Candy Cupcakes, a non-jelly bean candy similar in texture to candy corn, is new on the shelves now!
Maud Borup is known for providing retailers with unique flavor profiles and confectionery gifts that include candy, snacks, baking kits, and beverage mixes, which often come with a reusable collectable item that is sure to be remembered. Check out this sweet and simple display they created to show off their Organic Cotton Candy treats!
It was so festive! You really felt like you were at the Fair!
Coco Well 100% Pure Coconut Water constructed its booth from clear lucite panels filled with fresh whole coconuts. What a clever idea, and there was no confusion as to what their product is all about!
We know that coconut water is super health and hydrating, and Coco Well produces the freshest tasting coconut water possible by packaging its beverages in Tetra Pak, an eco-friendly and socially-responsible form of packaging based on the use of a sustainably-sourced wood fiber. Coco Well is good for your body, and the planet!
Greenpoint Trading Co (based in Brooklyn) brought in this a bike-driven cart as part of their booth display for its line of Spices, Herbs and Seasonings. It definitely relays the message of freshness!
For SFFS19, Pop Art Gourmet Popcorn made good on last year’s promise / threat to retire their fabulous Mirrored Disco Ball Booth, only to debut a new booth design that is equally distinctive; being comprised of multi-colored, stacked LEGO bricks, making it a work of Pop Art itself!
Pop Art also replaced their famous Neon Popcorn Kernel signage with this stunning new sign, which is also made of LEGOs. Well played.
New flavors of Pop Art Popcorn include Dill Pickle Ranch (which tasted exactly like what it says it is) and Cheddar Jalepeno!
The Pinkest Booth at the Summer Fancy Food Show award (which is a thing that I just made up) goes to Belgian Boys European bakery! Beyond the pink plush carpeting (which was very comforting to our tired feet), let’s take a look at some of the awesome pink things found in the Belgian Boys booth!
Put It Here: Pink Recycling / Waste Bin!
Keeping It Cool: Pink Smeg Brand Refrigerator and a Pink Plant!
The booth’s central display was a counter comprised of colorful dessert packaging, stacked high and topped with a Pink Sand Beach, which included a Pink Pineapple!
Alongside the Boys‘ best-loved product line such as their famous Mini Cookie Stash (#rockthatstash), authentic Stroopwafels and assorted Liege Waffles and Waffle Chips, SFFS19 launched the debut of a full line of gourmet single-serve Mini Cheesecakes and a Dark Chocolate Lava Cake – super decadent. These treats are imported from Belgium and come two to a pack, with a premium presentation in a re-usable glass ramekin! Begian Boys new desserts are Non-GMO and made with premium ingredients, no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and are kosher certified. Crave-able flavors include Key Lime, Cookies & Cream, and Raspberry. Yum!
Niman Ranch, purveyors of humanely-raised quality meats, went all out with their idea of a Summer BBQ, bringing the free spirit of outdoor entertaining inside the Javits Center for the debut their new line of sustainably raised products featuring New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire Amber Ale!
Grilled tastings and samples of the meats were an instant hit! The Niman Ranch booth also included a living plant wall with bicycle tires, and with a bar serving freshly brewed Fat Tire Amber Ale. The joint venture of one of the most recognized names in the craft beer industry and a highly-regarded meat company brought show attendees a fresh idea on how to reach millennial audiences — who are concerned with how their food is produced — while supporting value-driven brands.
For fans who longed for an expanded taste of the new line, Niman Ranch hosted a BBQ Party at Hearth restaurant, located on NYC’s High Line Park, after the Monday evening of the Summer Fancy Food Show, where I was able to enjoy all five items that make up their complete BBQ collection. I hope my photos of the event will inspire you to include Niman Ranch products in your next summer BBQ! Let’s eat!
Fat Tire Beer Bratwurst, served here on a potato roll with sauerkraut and German-style mustard.
Fat Tire Spicy Cheddar Beer Bratwurst served with pickled mustard seeds. Little bits of cheddar cheese locked inside the sausage become melty and extra flavorful when grilled!
Niman Ranch Pulled Pork with Fat Tire BBQ Sauce show here alongside all the fixings — including crunchy coleslaw and crisp fried shallots — to make an amazing sandwich!
St. Louis-Style Pork Ribs with Fat Tire BBQ Sauce. Unbelievable!
Shredded Beef with Fat Tire BBQ Sauce on a potato roll, sharing the plate with one of those tender, meaty pork ribs. Outstanding!
All items are uncured and fully cooked, making the line perfect for anyone looking for easy-to-prepare meals without sacrificing quality and taste. The new Niman Ranch New Belgium line will be available in specialty stores across the country beginning in August. The complete selection will also be available on Niman Ranch’s new digital storefront powered by ButcherBox.
And that wraps up our recap of Summer Fancy Food 2019! Congratulations to all of the SOFI Award winning brands and thanks to the Specialty Food Association for another fantastic show! See you back here in 2020!
When you have attended as many catered events and cocktail parties as I have, you get the opportunity to sample a variety unique and tasty foods. But after your umpteenth morsel of Prime Rib on a Crostini, or Coconut Fried Shrimp, you might tend to encounter a lot of sameness among the small bites being offered by various NYC catering companies. Yes, you have perhaps tasted it all, until you are lucky enough to attend a party catered by Scoozi Events: and it is only then that your tastebuds will be fully awakened to true culinary innovation!
In operation since 1996, Scoozi Events is a full-service catering and event resource. Voted New York City’s Most Creative Catering Company, Scoozi is also a company with a conscience. Certified green with three stars by the Green Restaurant Association, Scoozi recycles, composts, and uses eco-friendly products in an effort to continue reducing its carbon footprint. The goal is to provide clients with an unmatched experience, from décor to cuisine; and the true magic is in the details. Recently, I was invited to a Chef Tasting hosted by Scoozi at one of their intimate midtown venues, where my mind was fully blown by the unique selection of mouth-watering Hors D’Oeuvres and craft cocktails that I had the extreme pleasure to enjoy. Take a look at some of my favorite bites!
Scoozi has an extensive menu of vegetarian-friendly small bites, including this Smoked Carrot ‘Lox’ on a Bagel Crisp with Cream Cheese and Dill Garnish.
Eggplant Nigiri: it looks like Smoked Eel Sushi, but it’s a teriyaki-glazed slice of perfectly torch-finished eggplant!
Chicken Verde Tacos with Scallion Crema and Queso Fresco on a Mini Flour Tortilla. These tiny tacos were presented on a long tree branch with wedges cut out to nestle each taco perfectly. Check it out!
Mini Big Macs, Scoozi Style! These Baby Macs surpass the ordinary slider, taking the classic ingredients of a McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich but swapping the expected dill pickle for a slice of sweet Bread and Butter Pickle — for a little flavor thrill!
Another alternative to the traditional beef blider is the Ramen Noodle Burger; an open-faced, teriyaki-glazed Burger on a Ramen Noodle ‘Bun.’ Delish!
Mexican Street Corn on a Blue Corn Tortilla!
Spaghetti and Meatball, and Tuna Tartar with Sriracha Aioli on a Crispy Rice Cake. Everyone wanted to know how they got the pasta into that shape!
An updated take on the cocktail party favorite of Pigs in Blankets, Scoozi calls this the Beef Pig in a Pretzel Shell with Grain Mustard “Caviar.” Absolute perfection in a single bite.
Sizzling Lemongrass Chicken with Sticky Rice ‘Pop Up’ — These customized “General Zoe’s” Chinese Take-Out containers were presented in an oversized wok filed with uncooked white rice!
My thirst was quenched by a selection of refreshing and fruity cocktails: the Pineapple Orange Coconut Mojito (above) and Blackberry Mojito (below), both served with a fresh Sugar Cane stalk stirrer!
Yummy Alcohol-infused Cocktail Gummies improve on the usual Jello Shot, being part cocktail and part sweet dessert!
The Pink Paloma was my favorite!
For dessert, these Deconstructed S’mores are a Scoozi original: Toasted Marshmallow rounds dusted with Graham Cracker Crumbs and accompanied by a squeezable pipe filled with Warm Melted Chocolate! To enjoy; bite the marshmallow and simultaneously squeeze the chocolate into your mouth. Decadent!
Affogato is a traditional Italian dessert consisting of Espresso Cold Brew poured over Vanilla Ice Cream, here topped with whipped cream. Simple, but amazing! Notice that the attention to detail includes a fun miniature replica of a Greek Diner Coffee Cup. Adorable.
During the tasting, I had the chance to enjoy a marvelous, casual conversation with Scoozi Events President and CFO, Gianluca Ballarini, who is as charming as he is talented. Gianluca’s fascinating background includes a former career in the international fine jewelry business, and he can share stories both amusing and enlightening that probably qualify him as the guy at any party who everyone wants to talk to. But beyond being entertained by our chat, what I got most from Gianluca is the degree to which he cares about the services that Scoozi Events provides: because it’s not just business to him, it’s really more like a family. If I hadn’t already been won over by the fine food and drinks, Gianluca’s kind heart and commitment to customer service sealed the deal.
Beyond their impeccable food, cocktails and decor, Scoozi Events also work with many cool venues all over NYC, and they can recommend a variety of places to consider when you need a place to book an upcoming event. To find out more about Scoozi Events, see menus (including so much more in the way of food, cocktails and desserts than what you’ve seen here), and request a personalized proposal to plan every perfect detail of your next event, contact them via their website at Scoozi Events Dot Com!
Above Image Source, All Other Photos By Gail
Being a single, working woman means that I am all about convenience foods. With so many options available to shoppers, I know that I can count on finding delicious meals in the grocer’s freezer section that will go from the package to my plate in about 30 minutes, but I also want to eat food that’s healthy. That said, the ideal frozen entree should fill me up, but not fill me out, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.
For all of those (and so many other) reasons, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are a terrific way for convenience-seekers to eat smart. Part of the Garden Lites line of vegetable-forward products that include muffins, waffles and entrees, Garden Lites Vegetable Bakes are an easy way to create a tasty, meatless meal that anyone who saw it would think you spent hours cooking.
For this review I tried three different varieties of Vegetable Bakes: Cheddar Broccoli (seen above), Zucchini, and Roasted Vegetable. Each vegetable bake comes in its own baking dish and takes about 30 to 40 minutes to bake thoroughly, which gives you time to open a bottle of wine and make a pot of rice, if you choose — which I did.
When fully cooked, Vegetable Bakes are similar in consistency and mouth-feel to a very vegetable-dense quiche or frittata, where eggs have been added only to bind the ingredients together. Therefore it’s understood that these dishes, while vegetarian-friendly, are not vegan, due to having whole eggs or egg whites as an ingredient.
Here it is, just out of the oven, and you can see that the cheese has browned nicely!
It looks amazing, doesn’t it?
Broccoli Cheddar Bake is a delicious and nutritious dish that is loaded with healthy, superfood ingredients like broccoli, onions, brown rice, and select spices, topped off with cheddar cheese. Like all of the Vegetable Bakes, it is gluten free, Non-GMO and kosher, as well as being free of peanuts, tree nuts and soy. The full portion clocks in at just 210 calories and 7 Weight Watcher Smart Points. If you wanted to serve this as a side dish, it could easily feed two people.
About a week after enjoying the Cheddar Broccoli Bake, I tried the Roasted Vegetable Bake. This dish is filled with tender carrots, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper, zucchini and potato, seasoned with assorted spices including black pepper and garlic salt. The Roasted Vegetable Bake is just 150 calories (wow!) and will set you back 5 Weight Watchers Smart Points. Check out all of those veggies!
I put some cheese on it as well!
There is no such thing as too much cheese.
Last, but not least, I tried the Zucchini Bake. Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables and it makes everything that it touches taste better: this Vegetable Bake being no exception to that rule. Here, everyone’s favorite summer squash is combined with cauliflower, onions and potatoes, as well as eggs, and a select seasoning mix for a farm-to-table dining experience.
Here it is served over rice with a generous grating of sharp cheddar cheese, for just 150 calories and 5 Weight Watchers Points. A satisfying, delicious and low calorie meal that’s healthy and convenient: Win Win Win!
Find a store near you that sells Garden Lites products and get a money-saving coupon to use on your next purchase at This Link!
One of the best things about the expansion of uptown Q Train service is that it’s now so much easier for downtown foodies to escape their dining comfort zone and visit great restaurants on the upper east side, such as TBar Steak & Lounge! At TBar, you’ll encounter the same high quality steaks served at classic, old-school establishments like Morton’s or Bobby Van’s, but TBar’s sleek, contemporary decor elevates the atmosphere to something a bit more festive, while they also offer a broader menu. Despite the word Steak being prominently displayed in its name, TBar’s also serves expertly-prepared fish, chicken and duck dishes as well as burgers, pasta, and huge fresh salads, so there really is something on the menu for every palate.
You will feel welcome right away in the the well-lit, open space of the main dining area, though it can get a bit lively when the room is full. If you are looking for a quieter, more intimate dining experience, you can ask for seating in the back room, which has a cozy feel with its recessed, red lighting.
TBar also has lovely modern decorative touches, such as these lush flower arrangements displayed in brightly-colored, oversized vases, which help to divide the space.
While you peruse the menu, be sure to indulge in a slice (or two) of the freshly baked Olive Bread, which is studded with moist, ripe olives and served hot to your table with a selection of other fresh breads.
Set the stage for a relaxed meal a with refreshing and potent TBar Cosmo!
As an appetizer, my dining companion and I chose to split the Beet & Endive Salad ($17.00) which includes both red and golden beats as well as slivers of crisp apple, creamy goat cheese rounds, and a sprinkling of toasted, lightly candied pumpkin seeds, all tossed with an emulsified vinaigrette.
I never met a beet salad that I didn’t love, and this one is a palate-pleasing mix of textures, where the hint of sweet nuttiness from the pumpkin seeds really compliments the tang of the apples. This salad is perfectly portioned for sharing.
We came to eat steak, and steak is what we ordered, in the form of a thick, 8-ounce Certified Black Angus Filet Mignon ($39), prepared with butter and seasoned simply with kosher salt and black pepper. There are steak lovers who will try to convince you that any cut of beef not served on-the-bone means sacrificing flavor for tenderness, but I do not subscribe to this school of thought. TBar’s filet mignon was absolutely delicious, being tender, pink and juicy on the inside with a flavorful, crispy sear on the outside — perfection! Meat cravings: officially satisfied!
A roasted half-bulb of garlic accompanies the steak, should you feel compelled to dip the tip of your knife into one of the cloves and apply a dab of its mellow goodness to your meat (or try mixing a bit into one of your side dishes). A trio of complementary sauces will also arrive at your table, including the house Steak Sauce, classic Béarnaise, and Au Poivre sauce, that let you change it up to your liking!
For our sides, we went with the Mashed Potatoes ($10), which were creamy, buttery bliss, and the Crispy Brussel Sprouts ($10) with thick cut bacon and a balsamic reduction. You can choose to omit the bacon if you prefer. Portions are generous and both sides could serve three people, depending on much food you have ordered.
Finally, despite being completely full and satisfied from a delicious steakhouse meal, we could not say no to TBar’s decadent desserts — the Banana Parfait Mille Feuilles, which serves a party of four ($24), is especially legendary — and our selections did not disappoint! For easy sharing, a great choice is the warm Apple Crisp ($15) drizzled generously with caramel sauce and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This dessert is loaded with tender apples, and so huge it could easily serve three people. (Confession: I took half of it home to eat the next day!)
There was also a special dessert that we could not resists: Lemon Cheesecake ($12) with a sauce of tart lemon curd and fresh raspberries, which was so light it nearly floated off the plate. It tasted just as good as it looks!
As an aside, TBar Steak & Lounge happens to be located right next door my favorite import/gift/ housewares store, Flying Tiger (really, go there, you’ll thank me). I noticed when we were seated that the restaurant had placed a selection of Flying Tiger’s navy-and pink-polkadot round storage boxes in the front window as part of their display. The boxes not only looked great, but this action ups the neighborhood-gem vibe that you get from TBar, while saying so much about how this restaurant supports local commerce. Just another reason why I’ll be looking forward to future visits.
TBar Steak & Lounge is Located at 1278 Third Avenue near the Northwest Corner of 73rd Street, NYC. Visit their Website at TBar NYC Dot Com.