You know what I don’t understand? The term ‘blondies’. No, not girls with blond hair – the dessert bars. How did they come to be? Was someone making brownies one day, then realized midway that they’re out of chocolate and ended up making regular cake bars instead? ‘Blondies’ doesn’t make sense because it’s not defined by an ingredient, but rather by the lack of one.
I refuse to use the term, even though that’s what this Bon Appetit recipe is originally for. I shall call them squares, and I guess one can call them bars, depending on how they’re cut.
I adore peanut butter, peanut butter-flavored foods and peanut butter-based desserts. The super simple batter for these squares/bars turns out surprisingly thick, which results in an insanely dense and nutty cake. When buying peanut butter, remember to choose one that has only one ingredient: peanuts.
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp strawberry or sour cherry jam
Flaky sea salt
Procedure: Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, peanut butter, melted butter and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients into larger bowl; do not overmix. Scrape batter into a buttered 8×8″ baking pan. Drizzle evenly with jam. Bake until a tester (wooden toothpick or butter knife) inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 min. Sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares.
Hello, and happy Monday! Here’s the latest collection of food photos from the depths of my smartphone. Enjoy!
A homemade pizza made with my friend Lisa who knows quite a bit about dough since she works as a pastry chef at Bubby’s. This beauty is topped with a parsley pesto, fresh mozzarella and caramelized onions. Not to toot our horns… Ah, who am I kidding? I’m gonna toot – between the chewy perfection of a crust, citrusy pesto, sweet onions and melty cheese, this was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted.
Miso ramen, also made at Lisa’s. The pork broth turned out amazing, but unfortunately, the meat that we used to make it turned out pretty tough so we didn’t eat most of it.
Rene’s aunt Jola is an incredible cook and meals at her house are just the best. She usually prepares a mix of Polish classics and Americanized recipes. These meals usually end with all of us sitting around the coffee table, drinking lots of tea and nibbling on sweets. The above is one such scene, including chocolate covered raisins (a treat I refuse to eat elsewhere), a selection of crisp cookies and slices of carrot cake.
If you are thinking, “Gee, what is that she’s holding?”, I don’t blame you. That is indeed an oddly shaped cookie – my mom’s adaptation of a Russian dessert. The unique shape is achieved by pushing cookie dough through a meat grinder, which is quite genius. The cookies are similar to classic sable cookies in taste and texture. I’ll share the complete recipe one day, I promise!
On President’s Day, my friends Sofya and Paige and I were all nursing varying degrees of hangover from a party the night before, so we gathered at Paige’s for cheesy eggs, bacon, toast, coffee and beers to cure ourselves and enjoy the day off together. Mission accomplished!
Intense hot chocolate and pain au chocolat at Brooklyn Commune, shared with Rene post a Prospect Park promenade.
Shake Shack ’shroom and bacon burgers for Rene and I, respectively, after a snowy walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park. Crinkly fries with dipping cheese are a must, of course.
Detoxifying green juice: A head of romaine lettuce, a cucumber, broccoli stalks and a green apple.
Rene and I have been spending some time in Long Island City lately and have had several lunches at BreadBox Cafe. All their food is amazingly fresh and most of it has a Mediterranean flair. Above is a breakfast burrito with pinto beans and grilled eggplant, but my favorite item there is, surprisingly, the grilled chicken sandwich. It’s served on a lightly toasted ciabatta roll with eggplant, tomato, and the most divine black olive aioili. Should you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it.
4. Ever feel like a good cry while you’re out in New York? Say, on Fifth Avenue? Maybe you just saw your ex with his new girlfriend who looks just like Mila Kunis, or maybe the Starbucks barista spelled your name wrong… again? Well, this genius Tumblr blog tells you the best and worst places to cry around here. Bookmark it for emergencies!
5. Just discovered this awesome food blog called My Name is Yeh. Check out Molly’s creative recipes and beautiful photos.
Traditional Russian holiday tables always feature the same cast of characters. Without fail, these include Olivier salad (a heavily mayo-dressed potato salad), red caviar, and this eggplant “ikra” (pronounced eek-raa). Ikra is technically the Russian word for caviar but according to the interwebs, this roasted eggplant spread served as the “poor man’s caviar”. I don’t really buy this story since caviar was pretty affordable in the Soviet Union – if you could find it, that is – and all men were poor. But hey, who am I to rewrite history?
Terminology aside, this specialty is one of the few Russian foods that can actually be considered light, since it is made entirely of vegetables and is not stuffed with meat or slathered with mayo. I got inspired to make it after discovering it in my sandwich at a recent brunch at Saro Bistro, where it was referred to as “aivar”.
The recipe is pretty labor intensive so it’s probably more fitting to try on a weekend and not a weeknight. I think the spread is best served with slices of fresh baguette, but you can also use it as a dip for tortilla chips, a sandwich condiment, or as a topping for grilled beef or lamb.
(Yield: about 5 cups)
2 medium size eggplants
2 red bell peppers
2 vine tomatoes
About 2 tbsp finely diced yellow onion
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp chopped parsley or cilantro
Salt + freshly ground black pepper
Procedure: Preheat oven to 350F. Evenly coat eggplants and peppers with a few drops of olive oil each. Using a fork, poke holes in the eggplants at approximately 2″ intervals. Place vegetables on a baking sheet covered with foil and bake until blistered, blackened and mushy, about 40 min.
Remove baking sheet from oven and let eggplants and peppers come to room temperature, which may take up to two hours. Once cool enough to handle, gently peel the skins and tops off of the roasted vegetables and discard. Open peppers and discard ribs and seeds as well. Then, gently squeeze the eggplant flesh with your hands and discard any excess liquid (the amount of liquid will vary). Set the vegetables aside.
In the meantime, prepare the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a small bowl. Boil about 2 cups of water. Make a small incision in the tops of the tomatoes in the shape of an X. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let stand for 30 seconds. Then drain hot water and run the tomatoes under cold water. At this point, you’ll be able to peel the tomatoes; gently peel off the tomato skins and discard. Finely dice the tomatoes and place in a collander over a small bowl. Set aside to strain and discard strained tomato juice.
Then, transfer the eggplants and peppers into a food processor and puree on medium-low speed until smooth. Transfer puree into a large bowl and combine with drained tomatoes, onion, garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, parsley and generous pinches of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Since my first post on this topic was so well-received, I decided to share some more tips for eating healthy – woot!
To reiterate, I don’t generally believe in “cheat days” or restrictive diets – unless instructed by a doctor. I believe in finding a balance between mindfully eating a wholesome diet and knowing when treating oneself to a bacon cheeseburger or creamy pasta is a-okay, regardless of what day of the week it is. So without any further ado…
1. Avoid fad diets: You will undoubtedly lose weight if all you eat is kale and cottage cheese (or whatever other arbitrary combination of foods) for ten days. But are you going to feel energized and satisfied? No. Are you going to be grumpy and hate yourself? Yes. Is the weight going to stay off when you go back to your regular diet? Absolutely not. Instead of being miserable, develop a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain throughout your life – not just for ten days.
2. Beware corporate labels: Sure, that “healthy” 100-calorie soup may be labelled as such on the front, but if you turn the can over and read the nutrition facts, often you’ll find it contains 500mg of sodium as well as a host of strange chemicals you can’t even pronounce. Still think it’s healthy? Giant food corporations couldn’t care less about how healthy their products are or how many calories their consumers consume. They care about selling more cans of soup, and if they have to tell you it’s healthy, so be it. A good general rule of thumb when comparing two products is to choose the one with a shorter list of ingredients.
3. Stop counting calories: “I had two bowls of Special K, 3 pieces of turkey bacon, a handful of popcorn, 5 peanut butter M&M’s and like 3 pieces of licorice.” (If you know what brilliant movie this quote is from, we’d probably be really good friends.) A wholesome diet has little to do with the number of calories you eat and a lot more to do with where those calories come from. When you’re eating nutritious foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes), it’s okay to eat large quantities because they’re generally low-calorie foods and because they contains so many amazing vitamins and minerals. Instead of counting calories, learn the difference between what you should (aforementioned nutritious foods) and shouldn’t be eating.
4. Don’t skip meals: When your body goes without fuel for a prolonged period of time, it switches into panic mode because it doesn’t know how much longer it’ll be before you feed it again. Not only are you left to deal with a stomachache and grumbling noises as a result, but your brain will find it hard to focus, too. When you do finally eat, your body will stow away the new energy instead of using it because it knows it may be a long time before you refuel again. Your metabolism will eventually slow down if you skip enough meals. I’m not a nutritionist so I’m using layman’s terms, but what I’m trying to communicate is that it’s very, very important to eat regularly and often.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: Often when we feel hungry, we are actually just thirsty. If you just had a meal one or two hours ago and already feel hungry, all you may need is some hydration. Before having another meal or snack, try drinking a glass of water. If you feel like, “Oh my god, this is the best water ever!”, you were probably just thirsty and won’t need to eat again for a while.
6. Follow the 20-minute rule: It takes your brain 15-20 minutes to process that you’ve just eaten. If you finished a meal in less than that and still feel hungry, wait a few minutes until reaching for another helping. Chances are, you won’t want to eat anymore. The same goes for spontaneous cravings – you know, the ones you have at work when you just have to make a trip to the vending machine for a Coke or a Snickers? Instead of going for it right away, wait 15-20 minutes and your brain will most likely move on to other concerns.
7. Eat from smaller plates: The truth is, our bodies don’t need as much food to function and feel satisfied as we think they do. A great way to start eating smaller portions is to use smaller plates, simply because smaller plates require less food to make them look full but your brain will still process that you’ve just eaten a whole plate of food. See? Easy-peasy.
Oh basil, how I love thee. Your aroma is the epitome of grassy freshness; you have the power to awaken and transform many a savory dish, cocktail, and even dessert. And just a little goes a long way, so I must ask – why do grocers insist on selling such ginormous bunches of you, especially when your life cycle is oh so short? *Le sigh*
I recently bought a huge bunch of basil in preparation for this recipe post. I used a few leaves for the dish and then found myself wondering about what to do with the rest. Determined not to let it turn brown on me, I went ahead and made pesto (using The Kitchn’s recipe). And then I had a flashback.
While visiting my cousin Marina in Paris last year, she made a simple mushroom and pesto pasta dinner for us during one of the nights that we stayed in. I’m not sure if I was particularly hungry that evening, if French champignons are vastly superior, or if the magic of Paris just amplifies any experience, but this fuss-free pasta really stood out to me. Being in possession of all this homemade pesto was the perfect opportunity to recreate the dish chez moi.
(Yield: 4 servings)
3/4 lb short-cut pasta, like farfalle, penne or gemelli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
10 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
3 tbsp basil pesto (I used The Kitchn’s recipe. Storebought will work too – I recommend Giovanni Rana brand.)
2 oz grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt + freshly ground black pepper
Procedure: Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta. In the meantime, place a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Once butter is melted and gently bubbling, add mushrooms. Cook for about 7 min, stirring occasionally. Once the mushrooms are well-browned, season with pinches of salt and pepper, and take off heat. By then the water should be boiling. Cook the pasta until al dente and set aside 1/4 c pasta cooking water before draining. Transfer drained pasta to the skillet with mushrooms and add reserved pasta water, pesto and cheese. Stir to combine. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
3. Listen up, ladies who suffer in the eyelash department like me. Maybelline’s Lash Discovery mascara may not get much press, but it’s been around for a while and it’s still the best at making teeny-tiny lashes look long, without clumping. Try it!
This Valentine’s Day was no epic affair for Rene and I. You see, I’m the planner in our relationship and usually when we have a plan to go somewhere specific, it’s because I found the place/made the reservation/bought the tickets/etc. And though I’m painfully sentimental, I’m no romantic. Rene, on the other hand, is. But he’s all about the spontaneous thoughtful gestures as opposed to the grandiose, once-in-a-lifetime ones. This Valentine’s Day, we decided to keep it simple and just do dinner and a movie. I bought tickets to see The Monuments Men but failed to make a dinner reservation.
On the way to the theater, we passed a few restaurants on Court Street, all of which were packed. Just when we began to worry we wouldn’t have time to eat before the movie, we walked by Sam’s, whose old-school awning that could’ve easily come from the set of The Sopranos, grabbed my attention. I did not point it out, knowing that Italian food isn’t Rene’s cup of tea but surprisingly, he suggested we go in.
The restaurant is located two steps below ground level, which gives it a comforting vibe and makes the outside world seem further away than it really is. Inside, it does not feel like a restaurant – it’s more like the homey wood-paneled basement of your Italian uncle’s Staten Island townhouse. The place is deeper that it is wide and it’s lined with red pleather banquettes; the tables are draped in red plastic.
The menu features some antipasti, classics like pasta and meatballs, veal scallopina and chicken cacciatore, and pizza. The pizza comes in one size – very large – and additional toppings are available as desired, but you won’t find any imported speck or fresh arugula here. All the words on the menu are safely pronounceable – there’s nothing you can order at Sam’s that will display your foodie prowess and painfully acquired Williamsburg tastes. Everyone orders the same stuff and it’s equalizing.
We ordered a mushroom pizza. I kept checking my watch after the waiter had gone, afraid that we’d be late to the movie (spoiler alert: it sucked) and the waiter noticed. He came over and told me to relax. I said that we had a movie to catch and he told me not to worry and to let him know when we were ready and that he’d be sure to wrap up the rest of the pie in no time. When he brought the pie, he gave us the check as well so we wouldn’t have to wait for it later, which was really thoughtful.
The pizza was a total knockout – a nice chewy dough, a fresh and particularly acidic tomato sauce, and creamy melted mozzarella. The whole thing had a pleasant fiery aroma from the brick oven. The mushrooms were sliced slightly thicker than would be expected, which helped them stand out instead of disappearing in the saucy abyss.
When the waiter returned with our change, I asked if the restaurant had really been there for 80 years as the awning advertised. He confirmed and also shared that it’ll be his 50th year working there this May and that he’d grown up just upstairs from the restaurant. I realized this place really was his home and felt grateful to have had dinner there.
So no, I may not recall this Valentine’s Day years from now, but I’ll remember the pizza.
I recently got to attend an awesome dinner event to celebrate the unique partnership of Stella Artois Cidre (yup, that’s French for cider) and Plated, a service that assembles and delivers meal “boxes” that contain all the ingredients and instructions needed to cook meals at home from locally sourced ingredients. Stella Artois ambassador Chef Bart Vandaele (D.C. chef of Top Chef fame who hails from Belgium) created an easy and healthy Plated recipe that pairs perfectly with the Cidre. The event was hosted at a wonderful place called Haven’s Kitchen, which is equal parts adorable cafe, recreational cooking school and chic private event space.
The new Stella Artois Cidre is a crisp and refreshing European-style cider made from hand-picked apples. It is both slightly sour and sweet, and is the perfect beverage for those who don’t quite love beer but enjoy the drinkability of it. The Cidre is meant to be enjoyed in a white wine glass, and while it is refreshing enough for summer, the apple flavor makes it a great pairing for winter as well. To find the Cidre in a store or restaurant near you, check out their handy Cidre Locator.
The evening started with cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres, one of which were these fancy black caviar push-pops.
The seating chart was displayed on a chalkboard wall. Clever, eh?
Then we sat down in the gorgeous dining room to enjoy a menu that was designed around the cider.
I invited the awesome Ishita of bites out of life as my plus one – here we are looking all excited to eat:
The first course was a savory waffle – a nod to our Belgian hosts. The waffle was stuffed with pureed mushrooms and topped with a mushroom sauce and parsley oil.
For the main course, we enjoyed a pan-roasted chicken breast with kale, brussels sprouts, hazelnuts and grated parmesan – the dish designed by Chef Vandaele for Plated. The dish was lightly seasoned and satisfying, and seemed simple enough to recreate on a weeknight.
Dessert was my favorite course of the evening, which consisted of a fresh take on baked apples along with sweetened marscarpone, a cider-based granita and meringue cookie, with a cranberry sauce and a hint of basil. The dish was highly imaginative and surprisingly palate-cleansing. Although there were varying components, all the flavors and textures worked together in harmony.
I also got to take some cider home, which Rene and I shared on Valentine’s Day.
If you are curious about trying Plated, I highly encourage you to. I tried a similar service in the past and was thoroughly impressed by the convenience of it. The ingredients arrive nicely packaged and precisely measured, and are delivered whenever is convenient for you. Plated is perfect for those who want to cook more at home but don’t have time to grocery shop nor the energy to plan meals in advance.
Do you like cider or are you a dedicated beer drinker?
I started this Sandwich of the Month series without much vision. All I knew was that I freakin’ love sandwiches and eat them all the time when I’m out, but rarely made impressive ones at home. With the first couple of recipes, I took the safer route and used cooking techniques that I already felt comfortable with, but now that I’ve posted more than a handful of sandwich recipes, I feel I’m getting a lot more creative with the ingredients and techniques I’m using. I’m really glad that I started this series because it’s pushed me to challenge myself and to master new methods, which is always awesome.
This beef turns out tender, and between the acidic beer and sweet molasses, super flavorful as well; the arugula adds a grassy freshness and contrasting aroma that makes the sandwich très sophistiqué. The recipe technically takes a few hours to execute but most of the cooking time is inactive so you’re free to re-organize your sock drawer, do some sit-ups, watch a few episodes of #OITNB, or do whatever else floats your boat while you wait.
Note: The beef on its own is not super saucy. I’m a minimalist when it comes to sauces and prefer not to drown my food. If you like saucier foods, you may want to serve this with your favorite barbecue sauce.
(Yield: 4 sandwiches)
1 1/2 lb beef chuck, cut into 2″ cubes
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bottle (12 oz) porter or stout beer, like Guinness
1 1/2 c water
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 ciabatta rolls
Procedure: Place beef cubes into a container, season with salt, pepper and chili powder, and toss to coat. Cover and chill for 45 min. Remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temp for another 15 min.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high heat and add half of beef cubes. Brown on all sides, turning occasionally, for about 3 min. Remove and add second half of beef cubes, brown and also remove from pot.
Add beer, water, molasses and tomato paste to Dutch oven. Stir to combine while scraping the pot with a wooden spoon (FYI, this is called “de-glazing”). Bring liquids to a boil, add beef back to pot, cover tightly with a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 1 1/5 hours. Then remove beef from pot and reserve remaining cooking liquid. Using two forks, shred beef – use one fork to hold pieces of beef and the other to shred. Add shredded beef back into Dutch oven and stir to combine with reserved cooking liquid. Divide beef among 4 rolls, top with arugula and serve.
1. The New Yorker posted a short video on their blog featuring Malgorcata Sibilski, the woman who’s been making the iconic borscht at Veselka for the past five decades. The video doesn’t go much in depth about her but it’s nice to put a face to the soup.
2. Duralex Picardie tumblers from Sur La Table - These painfully chic French tumblers (est. 1939) are made by the company that invented glass tempering, and you’ll find them in every French restaurant and home goods magazine around. Clearly, I’m biased towards anything French, which brings me to…
3. David Lebovitz wrote about a Paris cafe called Le Nemrod this week. I knew the name sounded familiar and as I read, I realized it was where my best friend and I shared our very first French meal when we studied there in 2010. Besides reviving my nostalgia, the article makes a good point about Parisians not being crazy about making it to the hottest new restaurants, but instead preferring to frequent the ones where they’re already regulars.
I’ve been thinking about how to introduce this salad to you guys for over a week. I’ve been trying to think of proper metaphors and witty jokes, but all to no avail. Womp, womp… I’m just going to have to be straight with you and tell you that this is one of the best salads I’ve ever made or tasted, and that I really strongly urge you to make it.
Beans are an incredible source of nutrition: They are particularly high in protein and iron, which makes them an excellent substitute for animal meat. They are also very high in fiber, which aids digestion, has been proven to help lower cholesterol, and keeps you feeling full and energized throughout the day. Another great benefit of beans is that they easily adapt to almost any and all flavors.
Enter miso. Miso is the wonderfully umami Japanese seasoning I first told you about in my pork and vegetable soup post. Along with a few other classic Asian ingredients, miso gives this salad an irresistible flavor, and does a great job of binding the beans, sugar snap peas and kale together.
(Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings)
1 c dry kidney beans or two 14 oz cans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp salt (only if cooking your own beans)
1 c sugar snap peas
1 c packed thinly sliced kale, stems removed
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp white miso (shiro miso)
1 small garlic clove, grated
1″ ginger, grated
1 tbsp finely diced yellow onion
1 tsp honey
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
Cook beans (if using canned, skip to next paragraph): Place beans into a medium pot and add cold water to cover by about 4″. Let sit at room temperature overnight and at least for a few hours. Then stir the beans with your hand to release any dirt and drain water. Replace with new water, add 1 tsp of salt, cover tightly with a lid, and place on the stove over high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down to low, crack lid, and simmer until beans are tender – about 30 min. Then drain and let come to room temperature. Beans can be cooked a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Assemble the salad: Place the sugar snap peas into a medium bowl and cover with about 1 cup of boiling water. Soak for 2 min, drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process.
Cut peas on a diagonal into 1/2″ pieces and combine with cooked beans, kale and sesame seeds in a large bowl. To make miso dressing, stir all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.
Add dressing to salad and stir to combine. Serve salad at room temperature.
Do you like beans? What’s your favorite bean recipe?
It was a month or two ago that my friends Paige, Alex and Adrian first began raving about the brunch at Saro Bistro on the Lower East Side. Their eyes widened as they spoke and there were all sorts of passionate exclamations. It is when your non-foodie friends sing the praises of a restaurant that you know it’s got to be truly special, and on a recent weekend, Rene and I met with Alex and Paige for this promising meal.
Executed by Israeli-born chef Eran Elhalal, the menu at Saro Bistro seeks to revive the comfort foods of two long lost empires – the Austro–Hungarian and the Ottoman. The restaurant is named after Elhalal’s grandmother and the recipes are hers, too.
The homey Norfolk Street space seats twelve, plus a handful more by the reclaimed wood bar, so you’d be lucky to score a table during brunch for which reservations are not accepted. The walls are wallpapered, the tables and chairs are wooden, the flowers are fresh, and the vintage china and silverware are mismatched. Being inside Saro feels more like paying a visit to your Eastern European grandma’s than performing the oft-rushed ritual that is brunch in New York.
While deciding what to order, the friendly waitress enticed us with complimentary warm sugar doughnuts and already I felt at home, as these reminded me of the phantom ponchiki of my childhood. I started with a unique cocktail called the Pijani Pear, consisting of house-made rakija (a Balkan fruit brandy), preserved pear, mint and soda water. The drink was only slightly sweet, and the warmth from the brandy was a welcome respite from the freezing conditions outside.
Rene sweetening his tea with an old-timey sugar cube.
Following Paige’s lead, I ordered the Saro a.b.l.e. – an egg sandwich featuring a slab of bacon, arugula and aivar – a house-made roasted pepper and eggplant spread – served on lepinja, a traditional Yugoslavian bread (house-made as well). The chef served us himself and even suggested that we try his spicy mayo to dip our fries into. All the sandwich ingredients were superbly fresh, and the accompanying fries, absolutely divine – well browned yet soft on the inside, exactly how I like them. The star of this dish for me was the aivar. Up until this meal, I was sure that this condiment/dip was Russian since it’s graced every holiday table I’ve seen throughout my life, but I guess its roots reach farther than I expected. It tasted exactly like my mother’s – smoky and slightly acidic.
Rene’s Saro Benedict.
Short rib hash for the table.
In conclusion, Saro Bistro is a truly authentic, unique and warm place. Its limited size allows the staff to really focus on and perfect each dish, which you can sense as you eat. I am glad that some of the foods I grew up eating are finally getting exposure in the NYC dining scene and am excited to see what’s in store for this restaurant.
4. I actually discovered this Trader Joe’s granola several weeks ago and finally decided to tell you guys about it today. It is simply the best granola I’ve tasted to date. It’s full of oat clusters, rice crisps, dried cranberries and toasted nuts, all wonderfully perfumed by maple. It’s gluten-free and sold in small 12 oz packages so it won’t go stale on you. I enjoy it with almond milk and banana slices.
En route to meet Rene and his coworkers for happy hour last Friday, I opened my Gothamist app to catch up on some news and saw a write-up of Dogmatic, a West Village eatery that serves the hot dogs du jour. Seeing as that is precisely the neighborhood where I was heading, and as I am fond of specialty hot dogs, it was clear that the stars had aligned and I was soon getting my hands on a hot dog.
Dogmatic takes the classic New York street food to new and chic heights. Instead of using regular ol’ hot dogs made of God-knows-what, they use all-natural, chemical-free, grass-fed and free-range meats. Instead of serving the dogs on measly, cotton-like buns, they use the freshest chewy baguettes, to which, of course, I give a great big oui, oui! The baguettes are hollowed out instead of being split over the top, but the bottom is kept intact to keep the contents from escaping onto your lap. Finally, instead of the classic toppings, Dogmatic offers killer gourmet sauces, like cheddar jalapeno and chimichurri. And, your lone vegetarian friend will be happy to know that grilled asparagus dogs are a thing there, too.
I went with a pork dog with the truffle gruyere sauce (click for the full menu). The dog was more of a sausage in texture, which I appreciated, and was mildly seasoned and fresh. But the sauce was the real star of the show. Boasting a super creamy texture from its bechamel base, the sauce was nutty and pungent. This avant-garde dog was the portable answer to a fancy cheese and charcuterie plate you’d get in a snazzy wine bar.
The only minor flaw is one of design – as you bite into the hot dog, some of the steaming hot sauce does manage to creep out of the top, which can burn you if you’re not careful. Other than that – granted I only tried one option – I give Dogmatic an enthusiastic two thumbs up for their unique concept and top-notch ingredients.