Smarty Panties

Best Seafood Restaurant NYC: CATCH! Quite a Catch Indeed

Aug 23, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Celebs, Lifestyle, Love and Travel, Posts to Transfer, Restaurant Review

This year for my birthday my hubby and I decided to check out Catch over in the Meatpacking District. Never sure what to expect over there, I was somewhat hesitant that although I had heard rave reviews from friends, that I was in for a night of haughtiness and pretention (not to mention small portions at a high price). I was so pleasantly surprised, I dare even say, I think that Catch is my favorite restaurant I have tried in the past five years (rivaled by no one in the seafood department, that's for sure).

The food was incredible, the service was shockingly personable and sweet. It's hard to believe that it's difficult to get a reservation in the 2-floor restaurant (with a posh/exclusive club on the third floor dedicated to the art of fancy rooftop drinking) just because of its massive size. But once I tasted the food and witnessed this hot-spot in action it was easy to see why. 

My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I would recommend almost everything we sampled as the best rendition of the dish I have ever had. Rock shrimp are perfectly crispy, doused in the ideal amount of mayonnaise and just spicy enough without being overwhelming. The crispy rice cakes were probably my favorite–crispy fried rice covered in spicy tuna. The textures are perfectly contrasting and the entire dish melts in your mouth. Perhaps most unique was the Lobster and cream mac and cheese. It was just the right amount of sauce, rather on the stingy side but ina good way. The dish was complimented by a delicious crunch of toasted breadcrumbs. YUM! We also had the crab spaghetti and truffle fries. While both were amazing I would recommend the other dishes over these just because the others were outstanding, these were just delicious. Dessert was original and heavenly, s'mores pizza: a crispy graham cracker crust covered in charred marshmallows and drizzled with melted chocolate.

It was the most wonderful birthday dinner I think I have ever had. What a wonderful husband! And he must have even pulled some strings, we were seated next to the cast of BOSS–Kelsey Grammer and Clare from original 90210! All my birthday dreams came true! 

Yep, I'm a creep. Too embarassed to be a tourist taking pictures of my meal for you guys but clearly not classy enough to keep me from taking pictures of Kelsey Grammer!

Catch is at 21 Ninth Avenue but the entrance is around the corner on 13th street. You'll see a C and an anchor above the door. You'll be lucky you've found this oceanic gem! Trust me! Check out the menu and more information on the Catch website.

Happy birthday to me! 31 is going to be a good year!

Hanoi Vietnam Comes to New York: Where to Find Cha Ca La Vong!

Aug 17, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Cheap Thrills, Food and Cocktails!, Travel

Before we left for our honeymoon, my husband's cousins told us we had to eat at this restaurant, Cha Ca La Vong. Sounds good, write it down. Before we did though, his cousins all cautioned us, you will think we are crazy, it is so dirty, but you MUST go. Always what you want to hear before dining somewhere, right? 

Cut to the Sofitel in Hanoi, Vietnam. Staying on the VIP level and talking to our personal concierge. "Can You tell us how to get to Cha Ca La Vong?" His response, "NO! NO! Not sanitary. Not sanitary for tourists." I was ready to throw in the towel and stay at hte hotel but I'm so glad we decided to just trust our cousins and go anyway. PS, it was totally fine. If our concierge had seen where we ate lunch the day before he probably would have laughed. (Photo below. We ate on the floor, next to a stray dog, in the freezing cold, for about $1.50 USD.)

Anyway, we did get the chance to go to Cha Ca La Vong whilst in Hanoi. 

One restaurant. Named after the One Dish. Cha Ca La Vong means grilled fish. It is cooked at the table and it couldn't be more delicious. It's grilled fish, an array of spices including tumeric and dill, and delicious, sticky noodles and a tangy sauce. Absolute heaven. 

Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Lately, even the New York Times is buzzing about Cha Ca La Vong since Pok Pok opened up in NYC. Check out their article to see where you can find Cha Ca La Vong (and other inspired Vietnamese dishes in NYC).

We are dying to try Pok Pok. Have you tried it yet? Let me know in the comments!!!

Sleep No More’s Rooftop: Gallow Green, What the Heck Is It?

Aug 17, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: 301, Food and Cocktails!, Intoxicology, Posts to Transfer

Last weekend, hubby and I had date night. It was stupendous. We started at J-Bird on the Upper East Side. Such fantastic cocktails. Really well-balanced and delicious. I kid you not, the couple next to us called their drinks "transcendent." They are really creative and delightful. So was the bar staff. So, anyway, I digress. You know that I'm obsessed with Sleep No More, we decided to check out Gallow Green, the Sleep No More Rooftop Bar(If you haven't seen Sleep No More yet I highly recommend before it closes!).

What is Gallow Green?  Oh, I thought, I'll google it! Great idea, Katie. No concrete results. Was it a show? Was it just a bar? We called and of course they cryptically told us to come check it out. Totally perturbed but nonetheless still curious we made reservations and headed completely across town to check out what Gallow Green really was. 

Gallow Green is a bar. There is no show. Here is what you can expect (and I'm not ruining some secret so don't worry).

Prepare yourself for a trip up to the rooftop in an elevator that is reminiscent of Disney World's Tower of Terror. Staff stays in character, pretending you are really a guest of the McKittrick hotel. You are greeted by a dark and romantic ambiance with tiny twinkling lights and an overall vintage feeling. Nothing is done halfway here, there is just an obscene attention to detail. The rooftop is set in an enchanting garden but filled with dark dens and even an entire antique train car, which is covered in vines. 

You may find yourself rubbing elbows with cast-members of Sleep No More, perhaps even getting a palm reading. The drinks are on fire. Literally. You can order a flaming Gallow Green punch, which is ladled with absinthe and set ablaze! My favorite part though of the Gallow Green experience was the big brass band. It's like this old-timey, jazzy, funk band. They played quite an array of music but it really set the mood. 

Cocktails are a little pricey ($15) but it's an NYC rooftop, what do you expect? The wine menu though was pretty reasonable at $10/glass. The service was good but the staff all stays in character, which sometimes gets a little bizarre. We were sitting at one table and asked to move, which we didn't really mind. In return we were offered the relish tray, which was essentially, cheese crackers, olives and nuts. It was pretty mediocre but we graciously accepted. 

The only thing that left a slightly sour taste in my mouth was when he said, "Tell your friends it's going to be very exclusive. VERY. EXCLUSIVE. We are just in previews but it's going to be even harder to get in." 

Overall, it's just a beautiful rooftop with decent cocktails. The band was the standout in my opinion. Come and see for yourself. Should you wish to journey to Gallow Green, you can make reservations here.

Benihana Salad Dressing Recipe! Best Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing Recipe

Aug 10, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: Food and Cocktails!, Recipes

So, I decided last week that I needed to have the Japanese carrot ginger dressing that sushi places serve. I needed it. And I didn't just want a measly little side salad. I wanted it for my entire meal. And I wanted the lettuce to be organic. And I wanted a large portion. So I surfed the internet and sort of combined a whole bunch of recipes to come up with I thought was a pungent and wonderful carrot ginger dressing. Here is the recipe I made:

Serves 2, for a large entree salad with a LOT of dressing:

1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
4 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sweet white miso
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
1/4 cup peanut oil
2.5 tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon maple syrup

 

 

Throw carrots, ginger and shallot in your food processor until very finely chopped. You may have to scrape the sides of the food processor a few times to ensure everything is chopped. Add remaining ingredients, miso, rice vinegar, sesame oil, peanut oil, water.

I chopped romaine really fine, added red onion, avocado and some carrots and a few sliced grape tomatoes. For the kicker, I toasted almonds and threw them on top. I would also add a bit of purple cabbage if I had some. Delicious!!

Maison Kayser Opens in NYC on the Upper East Side!!

Aug 10, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: Food and Cocktails!

Yesterday I treated myself and my husband to the delectable goodies at Maison Kayser, famed French bakery around the world. The self-proclaimed "French bread ambassador to the world" made his mark on the Upper East side yesterday on Third Avenue between 74th and 75th streets. In addition to the bakery, the space houses a boulangerie serving up french classics like Croque Monsieur and Quiche Lorraine.

We had the pleasure to sample a mini cheese bread (my favorite), a chocolate croissant, and a praline brioche. Everything was amazing. Plus, we had a bit e of a French baguette and it was to die for.  The kitchen uses only homemade, natural sourdough leavening (or levain) in liquid form, which is a more time-consuming and difficult process than other bakeries use. It's totally worth it! 

Have you checked out Maison Kayser? 

 

Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Makes You Fat and Why It’s Not Good for You!

Aug 9, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: Food and Cocktails!, Health

My sister sent me this awesome article from MindBodyGreen that explains really simply, Why high-fructose corn syrup is making our country fat! I wish everyone would just try to cut down on processed foods a little more! It would make our country so much healthier and happier! 

Check out Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Makes You Fat!

Amazingly Easy Yet Delicious and Professional Homemade Dinner that Will Impress

Aug 3, 2012 Author: Katie Lara | Filed under: Food and Cocktails!, Recipes, Uncategorized

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My husband came home yesterday after being away a few days and I wanted to welcome him back with a delicious homemade meal. He has been spoiled by delicious food his whole life. His mom who is one of the best cooks ever always has homemade meals on the table that are delectable. But it's hard to decide if she's a better cook or baker.  I'll call it a tie.

I decided to make one of our favorite meals that she makes us. I chose scallops because I had been dying to try and figure out how to make them for a while. I'll call them Nadine Scallops because she deserves credit for the recipe. So the dinner was Nadine Scallops, Burnt Broccoli and Roasted Garlic Oil and Poppyseed Pasta. This is definitely one of my favorite meals and it's pretty quick to prepare! So here's what you do:

Nadine Scallops

Combine a good amount of Fancy Paprika, Garlic powder, coarse black pepper and parlsley flakes (I also added a bit of Cayenne pepper and a smidge of Old Bay seasoning for a little kick). You pour all of these at the bottom of a dish and then add just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste. Then roll your little scallops around and get them nice and pasty. Then throw them on the grill or pan fry for about 3-5 minutes per side depending on the heat. 

Nadine Burnt Broccoli

Preheat oven to 350. Cut broccoli up into small pieces trying to make the cuts flat so that you can lay them flat on the pan (as opposed to just breaking the florets off, which are round and won't all touch the pan). Put broccoli in a bag and shake around with enough olive oil to cover it. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil or pam and put in the oven for a few minutes. When the pan is hot place the broccoli, flat side down. Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar. I also added a touch of garlic powder. Cook until the edges brown, the bottoms burn slightly and the broccoli is soft. (About 20-25 minutes)

Nadine's Garlic Oil Pasta

Cook any noodle of your choosing (Me, being crazy used organic brown rice rotini). To make the roasted garlic oil take a head of garlic and peel each little clove. Put the cloves in a glass or stone pan and immerse in olive oil. Roast at 325 F for about 30-45 minutes. You want to be careful not to burn the garlic. Cover the noodles in the oil. Add a pinch of salt (although Nadine doesn't use any and it always tastes good. Ross just likes a little bit). Add poppy seeds and toasted slivered almonds. Mix and serve!

There you have it! Three of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite people in the world and definitely one of the best cooks! Enjoy and serve for your favorite people in your life!

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