Tag Archive | Mac & Cheese

Highlights From Winter Food Fete 2014

Food Fete Bag with Food
All Photos By Gail (Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

Four times each year we get very excited in anticipation of our favorite food trade show, Food Fete, because it is so awesome. Winter Food Fete took place last week on February 25th and while it was on the small side, we discovered plenty of cool new products to tell you about.

IvanBitch Flavored Vodka

Our first stop is the bar, where a featured vendor is always mixing up signature cocktails spiked with their potent potable. This season we discovered Ivanabitch: Vodka with an Attitude, which comes in 13 flavors, including Tobacco and Menthol Tobacco — which we imagine is popular with the smokers! We were not brave enough to sample the Tobacco flavors (though we were informed its taste is more “inspired by” the leaf than actually replicating it) but we did very much enjoy the delicious Peach Vodka cocktail you see pictured above. Produced in The Netherlands, Ivanbitch is comparable quality-wise to Ketel One, which is our favorite vodka! Needless to say, but you can see I am about to, we are looking forward to trying their additional delicious flavors, such as Red Berry, Dutch Apple and Coconut. Check them out at Ivanabitch Dot Com.

Seattle’s Best Coffee Maple-tini

Seattle’s Best Coffee co-hosted the bar with its Maple-Tini, made with SB Coffee, Maple Syrup, Vanilla Vodka and Half & Half. This seasonably appropriate cocktail was a big hit with the crowd and we made sure to pick up a recipe card available at the booth.

Seattles Best Coffee Kuerig Cups

When we are in Seattle, Seattle’s Best Coffee is our preferred brand to pick up on-the-go, so we made sure to take home a few of their Keurig cups to enjoy at home. Delicious!

Burpee Seed Display

Look at this amazing display from the folks at Burpee! Legendary for its seeds, plants and gardening supplies, Burpee has been around since 1876! Wow! These days, Burpee has all kinds of cool and innovative ideas for home gardening/farming even in a small space or indoors! Find out more about their vast selection of products, see photos of the World’s Largest Tomato and request a Burpee product catalog at This Link.

Roth Cheese SignageRoth Cheese Sample

Mmm…delicious melty Cheese. Roth Wisconsin Gourmet Cheese hosted a popular booth where they gave out samples of  their insanely fantastic new Raclette Cheese (available in bold flavors like 5 Peppercorn, Roasted Garlic and Mediterranean with Sun Dried Tomatoes) which will be available in stores in the Spring. To serve the cheese, they first melted it in little iron skillets before draping it onto tiny slices of bread. Best. Cheese. Ever. It is no surprise to discover that Roth is part of Emmi, the company that makes the most awesome Cheese and Chocolate Fondues. Go a little crazy with the cheese love at This Link.

Horizon Mac & Cheese Display

Another one of our favorite Booths was hosted by Horizon Mac & Cheese. Their Not Your Mama’s Mac & Cheese and Toppings Bar was an amazing idea executed to perfection as they invited Food Fete attendees to sample their organic White Cheddar Shells & Cheese dinner, which could then be topped with a variety of fresh add-ins including Chopped Tomatoes, Fresh Spinach, Red Bell Pepper and Shaved Parmesan Cheese. What a treat!

Horizon Mac & Cheese

So Yummy. Horizon products are available Nationwide. Visit their website at Horizon Dairy Dot Com.

Late July Chips

Do you enjoy delicious chips? If so, may we recommend Late July brand organic (and gluten free) Restaurant Style Tortilla and Multigrain chips, which come in a variety of appealing flavors like Sea Salt, Lime and Mild Green Mojo — half a large bag of which I have eaten while writing this post. Late July Chips are crispy, light, delicious — and when  served with a bowl of fresh salsa (the one pictured here is from Whole Foods) or guacamole (alongside a chilled Cerveza) will make you feel like you are eating in your favorite Mexican restaurant! We also enjoy the name, Late July, which makes us nostalgic for summer weather that can’t come soon enough!

Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery

See those English Muffins up there? We made an egg sandwich with one the other morning that was just crazy good. Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery not only offered samples of its delightful freshly baked Sandwich Bread and traditional English Muffins but also gave away whole packages to take home. Get a coupon for $1 Off your purchase of any Rudi’s Bread product, so you can try it for yourself, at This Link.

Cascadian Farm Organic Protein Bars

Ah, Cascadian Farm Organic, the subject of one our very Favorite Worleygig.com Posts of the past! What fun it was to run into them again at Food Fete, where they were promoting their new Protein enriched Chewy Snack Bars! Each of these indulgent bars packs 9 Grams of organic, plant-derived Pea Protein. Impressive! The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip variety tastes like a Peanut-studded, Peanut-buttery Rice Crispy Treat, for a taste and texture that stands out from the legion of Snack Bars we have written about on The Gig.  Much healthier for you and just as satisfying as a Snickers Bar! Discover the joy of Cascadian Farm healthy Snacks at Cascadian Farm Dot Com.

Honest Tea Juice

Are you thirsty? Honest brand Lemonade (they also make Honest Tea, get it?) previewed a line of flavored Lemonade and Limeade drinks in family-size, retro style glass bottles. They have a new Half & Half (also known as an Arnold Palmer, after the famous Golfer) which is a popular blend of Ice Tea and Lemonade in one bottle, plus Mango and Berry Hibiscus Lemonades. All very refreshing!

Duncan Hines Cake Display

Just because Duncan Hines brand cakes mixes have been around since you were an egg doesn’t mean they aren’t on trend. In fact, we’d say they are even a little bit ahead of the curve with three new baking mixes introduced at Food Fete: Blue Velvet and Pink Velvet Cake Mixes and Salted Caramel Brownie Mix! Holy Sweet Surrender! The Duncan Hines booth served tiny cake balls and brownie bites (recipes come on the back of each box) that we could not resist, and practically forced us (though they did not have to try too hard, because: Pink Cake) to take a box of Pink Velvet cake mix to bake at home. Duncan Hines, For The Win!
Yoplait Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars

When you think Yoplait, you think Yogurt, right? Right! The latest addition to the Yoplait Yogurt and Frozen Yogurt Dessert family is their collection of Greek Frozen Yogurt  Bars with Granola, which will debut in Spring 2014. Fancy!

Yoplait Frozen Raspberry Yogurt Bar

This is a picture of my hand holding a non-granola-embossed Yoplait Greek Frozen Yogurt Bar in the Raspberry Flavor. Doesn’t it look good? It tastes like a frozen creamy cheese cake with swirly fruit in it. After about a dozen licks of my tongue this bar escaped from its stick and flung itself onto the ground at the feet of the nice woman who was tending the Seattle’s Best Coffee Booth. She was kind enough to lift it from the floor into a napkin and dispose of it in the bin. Sadness! Anyway, you should check out these tasty bars of frozen goodness!

Modern Oats Dsiplay

Look! Happy Little Spoons ready to serve up warm tasty samples of crunchy fruit-laden Modern Oats oatmeal. Modern Oats, which cooks with the addition of Boiling Water in just 3 Minutes and is of course Gluten free and Non GMO comes in crazy rad tasty flavors like Mango Blackberry (which we tried; Yum) and Chocolate Cherry! Perfect for Breakfast on the go or to take to the office!

Modern Oats Dsiplay

And that wraps up our report on Winter Food Fete, another great and fun food show! Thanks to Jeff Davis as usual. See you for the next event in April!

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Manhattan's Truffle Macaroni & Cheese Round Up!

Round Up Logo
Image Source

It is no secret that The Worley Gig is a huge fan of all delicious foods, and we try not to discriminate. But if we had to pick a favorite single food (rather than an entire ethnic cuisine, in which case Mexican FTW!) we would choose Macaroni & Cheese. Because, pasta and cheese baked together, yum. Over the course of the past year’s many restaurant reviewing adventures we have had the pleasure of sampling a current trend in Macaroni & Cheese preparation: the addition of truffles, or truffle oil, which elevates this humble comfort food dish into the culinary stratosphere. In this post we revisit five New York City restaurants featuring a Truffled Macaroni & Cheese dish on their menu. Feel free to pay any of them a visit and tell them we sent you!

Upstairs at The Kimberly Hotel

Truffled Mac & Cheese
All Food Photos By Anne Raso

Midtown Manhattan’s finest east-side rooftop dining experience is found at Upstairs, a swanky open-air cocktail lounge (with awesome nighttime views of the Chrysler Building) located on the Penthouse level of the Kimberly Suites Hotel (145 East 50th Street).  On our first visit last summer, our heartiest mid-week appetite was more than satisfied by an order of rich and fragrant Truffled Macaroni & Cheese ($12), baked en casserole to a golden hue. Simply perfect.  Rating: A

The Meatball Factory

Truffled Mac & Cheese from Meatball Factory

Chef Dave Martin takes credit for starting the Truffled Macaroni & Cheese craze while he was a contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. His signature dish, a Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($11), is among the most popular items on the menu at The Meatball Factory (231 Second Ave at 14th Street). Chef Dave’s secret to achieving such delicious, cheesey-truffly baked goodness involves first cooking the cream base for the sauce until it develops its own “nutty” flavor, then slowly folding in both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses so that ingredients blend perfectly, preventing the sauce from “breaking.” This technique makes for a very creamy sauce and a unique integration of flavors that, when combined with the essence of black truffles, elevates this memorable creation high above “your Mama’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese” status. Rating: A-

Update: Sadly, the Meatball Factory Has Closed as of April 30, 2012.

Bahr Che

Black Truffle Mac & Cheese

At Bahr Che Wine Bar (tucked away at 26 Astor Place) their limited menu is enhanced greatly by the Lobster and Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.00) — one of the heartier choices on a menu punctuated by tiny salads. We especially enjoyed the big chunks of lobster tucked around tendrils of macaroni in a mild cheese sauce, but ultimately the dish called out for either more sharp cheddar cheese or extra seasoning (a few sprinkles of salt, even) to bring out the much desired black truffle essence. Rating: B-

DL

Ludlow Mac and Cheese

One of our favorite new dining spots on the Lower East Side is DL (95 Delancey Street) where they do their Ludlow Mac (Elbow macaroni, with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese) three ways, including a glorious Truffle and Mushroom ($15), version. This is a classically oven-baked dish with a crispy panko crumb topping and plentiful slices of fresh mushroom added, which goes a long way towards enhancing the rich and flavorful truffle oil-infused sauce. Rating: A

Sons Of Essex

SOE Truffle Mac And Cheese

Sons of  Essex is one of no fewer than three restaurants with the word Essex in its name that is also located on Essex Street (in this case, 133 Essex Street, between Stanton and Rivington). Sons of Essex is so enthusiastic about the Macaroni & Cheese trend that its menu even has a separate section dedicated to detailing the various types of Mac & Cheese that SOE serves. In addition to a daily Mac & Cheese special variety, each day of the week you can also get the Truffle Mac N Cheese ($16) made with elbow macaroni, Gruyere and a truffle cheese sauce, baked to achieve the crunchiest golden brown top you could ever ask for. Easily shared between two people, this dish answers the burning question, “What shall we have for an appetizer?” Rating: A+

Bahr Che Wine Bar: A Hidden Hot Spot in Cooper Square!

Red Wine Glass

So many New York natives and visitors pass cursorily through the Cooper Square hub of Manhattan’s central village, perhaps only stopping to notice the landmark Astor Square Cube or double-check the direction in which they’re headed on their way to somewhere else. In this transitional neighborhood where several avenues intersect, it’s easy to miss the upscale yet cozy contemporary wine bar, Bahr Che, tucked away behind the Chase Bank Building on the ground floor of the Gwathmey Siegel-designed condominiums. While you may need a map and a handful of breadcrumbs to find the place, discovery is worth the effort.

Bar Che Bar Area 2

(This and All Future Photos by Anne Raso)

Open since December of 2010, Bar Che’s interior – its walls covered in both blonde and dark woods – conforms to the signature curve of the high-profile glass apartment tower in which it resides, and the structurally-enforced design gives Bar Che an even more intimate and romantic feel. The impressive wine wall – which buttresses the shallow bar – displays 1500 bottles of the select wines from all over the world. Wines are available by the bottle or single-serving carafe (basically a ‘full pour’ in contrast to the multiple-serving vessel that you might expect when seeing the word “carafe” on the menu). The tasting menu – which is secondary to the wine selections, because this is a wine bar, after all – is designed around small plates / tapas portions emphasizing sliced cured meats (Charcuterie), cheeses and light fare that marry well to either an oakey Malbec or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Bar Che’s servers are highly knowledgeable when it comes to wine pairings, so if your knowledge of the grape extends only to basic Reds and Whites, Bar Che offers an excellent opportunity to educate your palate.

Front Seating Area At Bar Che Wine Bar

Here are a few of the plates we sampled:

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with oven-dried tomato and field greens with walnut dressing ($9.00), comes with two toasts topped with goat cheese: good for sharing!

Vegetable Quiche and Salad

Seasonal Quiche Du Jour ($10.00), was a delicious vegetable selection filled with tender broccoli and roasted red pepper on the day of our visit. Served with bit of field greens salad on the side and also portioned to share.

Lobster And Black Truffle Mac 'N Cheese

Lobster and Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.00) is one of the heartier choices on the menu. We especially enjoyed the big chunks of lobster tucked around tendrils of macaroni in a mild cheese sauce that called for just a hint of extra seasoning (a few sprinkles of salt did the trick) to bring out the much desired black truffle essence.

Warm Japanese Eggplant

The thinly sliced Warm Japanese Eggplant, which sits delicately on a pastry round, topped with roasted tomato and drizzled with lavender honey dressing ($9.00) is a standout among the small plates, but perhaps a bit pricey for what is only a few bites. My dining companion and I each had our own serving and we enjoyed it tremendously.

Pear Almond Torte
Pear Almond Torte

For Dessert, we indulged in the Pear Almond Torte, comprised of toasted, sliced almonds layered with poached pears and Bavarian cream, and the Chocolate Gianduja Torte: a bittersweet chocolate butter cake layered with cream and topped with crushed pralines (each priced at $9.00), both of which were exquisitely decadent. The quality and deliciousness of these desserts (sourced from a popular local bakery) prompts me to suggest that you might want to consider Bar Che as your post-dining, nightcap and dessert destination!

Chocolate Gianduja Torte
Chocolate Gianduja Torte: Beautiful and Delicious

A daily selection of Francois Payard Gourmet Sandwiches ($10.00, ask your server for the day’s offerings), Half a dozen Charcuterie Selections (prices vary), Pate, Mousses & Foie Gras ($10.00 each) and limited, light weekend Brunch Menu round out the savory menu choices.

Window With Flower Vases

Bahr Che is located on the ground floor of the Gwathmey Siegel Condos at 26 Astor Place, but please note that the actual entrance is around the corner from Astor Place on Cooper Square, between Lafayette St and Third Avenue. Hours are Monday – Friday: 5:00 PM -12:00 AM, Weekends: 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM. Phone 212-260-2220 for Reservations.

Chef Dave Martin Brings Gourmet Meatballs to 14th Street!


Chef Dave!

East 14th Street is quickly becoming a go-to neighborhood for the seeker of comfort foods. Think about it: the first IHOP in Manhattan proper just opened between Second and Third Avenues a couple of months ago. And now, just a few storefronts further east, in the corner lot once shared by an Arthur Treacher’s-Pizza HutNathan’s triumvirate of fast food, a new restaurant has just opened that specializes in one of our very favorite foods: Meatballs! The Meatball Factory – as it is called – is the creation of Chef Dave Martin. Known for serving up Foodie-esque yet accessible takes on classic American dishes, Martin was among the final three Cheftestants on season one of Bravo’s wildly popular reality cooking competition, Top Chef. Like fellow Top Chef alumni Angelo Sosa’s midtown eatery, Social Eatz, The Meatball Factory aims to elevate your palate for the American food favorites that you already crave.


Cluck Cluck Chicken Meatball (All Food Photos By Anne Raso)

Having lived in a state of Meatballs-on-the-Brain for close to a week while anticipating our visit, we chose two types of meatballs to share: the Cluck Cluck Chicken Meatball, made with Bell & Evans Chicken, Esposito’s Chicken Apple Sausage and White Wine, and the Meatza Meatza (one of two beef-centric meatball varieties on the menu) comprised of Braised Certified Angus Beef Brand Short Ribs, Hangar Steak and Filet, Buffalo, Potato and Parmesan. Both choices were very naturally juicy, and because Dave uses no traditional “binder” (i.e. breadcrumbs) in his meaty mix, you are really going to taste the flavor of the meat.


Meatza Meatza Beef Meatballs

Other meaty concoctions offered include the Turducken (a mix of Turkey, Chicken and Duck, like it sounds), Lambda Lambda Lambda (Lamb, duh), Hog Wild (Pork) and the Vegan’s Dream meatless ball, featuring nine different types of veggies all mashed together with tofu and roasted garlic – yummy. All meatball selections are $8 for a generous 5-meatball portion, while the vegan choice is $9. Meatballs are accompanied by a side of your choice of eight homemade sauces, but for a few bucks more you can trade up to a selection of three different sauces, which seemed like the way to go – because if some is good, more is better! The Cluck Cluck was well complimented by the thick Salsa Verde of Roasted Tomatillos, Green Chilies and Caramelized Sweet Onions flavored with Lime, Fresno Chiles and Agave. We also chose a traditional Fire Roasted Marinara (super garlicky) and the Hells Bells Vodka Sauce made with Absolut Peppar – tasty, and excellent with beef. Kick up the fire in any of these sauces with a splash or two of the house-made Red Pepper Agave sauce found on each table.


Marinara, Hells Bells, Salsa Verde Dipping Sauces


Dave’s World Famous Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

While on Top Chef, Dave takes credit for starting the Truffled Macaroni & Cheese craze with the introduction of his signature dish, a Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($11), which according to our server is among the most popular items on the menu. Chef Dave, who was quite visible in the front of the house on the night of our visit, joined us table-side while we savored – noodle by noodle – a shared portion of this delicious cheesey-truffly baked goodness, to personally describe his secret method of first cooking the cream base for the sauce until it develops its own “nutty” flavor, then slowly folding in both Fontina and Parmesan cheeses so that ingredients blend perfectly, preventing the sauce from “breaking.” This technique makes for a very creamy sauce and a unique integration of flavors that, when combined with the essence of black truffles, elevates this memorable creation high above “your Mama’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese” status.


Pureed Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic (Tastes Better than it Looks!)

While we certainly would have been quite satisfied with the Meatballs and the Mac, a side of Pureed Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic (with cream, of course, $5) sounded too amazing to pass up, and we were not disappointed! TMF’s menu also features half a dozen varieties of Crispy Crackerbread Pizzas (we hear that the Thai This Pizza featuring the Turducken Meatballs in a Green Curry Peanut Sauce is a favorite), plus Pastas, Sandwiches, Salads and even Poutine (aka Disco Fries, $5 – 10)! For dessert we were easily sold on the TMF Floatillas: traditional soft drink floats made with Dave’s Vanilla Mascarpone Gelato ($6)! On the night of our visit they were out of the Fanta Orange soda that makes up the Creamsicle, so we chose the Purple Cow Floatilla made with Fanta Grape – equally decadent and so huge we could not finish it!


Here is Chef Dave Bringing Us Our Massive Purple Cow Floatillas!

Last but not least, we tipped the scale of pure indulgence by ordering the Pig Sticks: Slices of Nueske’s Wild Cherrywood Bacon served with sides of Dave’s Malted Hot Fudge and Sea Salt Caramel for dipping! Pig Sticks are a dessert that should be enjoyed at least once by anyone who worships Bacon as much as we do here at The Worley Gig! As you can see from the prices listed in this review, The Meatball Factory is easy on your wallet: nothing on the menu is over $15. They also have a nice wine list with all bottles of wine is priced at or under $40. Beer lovers can choose from among 18 varieties on tap and 20 bottles of craft beer. With the welcome addition of The Meatball Factory to this East Village neighborhood, we just might turn 14th Street into a Foodie haven yet!


Pig Sticks: Oink!

UPDATE: I AM SAD TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE MEATBALL FACTORY HAS NOW CLOSED EFFECTIVE APRIL 30, 2012. RIP!

The Meatball Factory is Located at 231 Second Ave. or 251. E. 14th Street – depending on whom you ask – at the Northwest Corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue. Currently Open for Dinner Only, Hours are Monday – Sunday 6:30 PM – 11 PM. Credit Cards Accepted! Phone 212-260-8015 for more Information!