Category Archives: Chef

Poole’s Diner

I have been wanting to try Poole’s Diner for a long time.  I’d been to Beasley’s, one of Ashley Christensen’s other Raleigh restaurants, and I thought the food there was very good.  I got fried chicken and waffles.  It was delicious–and I don’t even like fried chicken.  However, I was not crazy about the uncomfortable seats and the chalkboard menus.  Poole’s has the same chalkboard menus but normal seating.  We got here early, one of the first customers, and we waited until the restaurant officially opened.  We were seated quickly then and the dining room took no time to fill up.  I did notice that, despite the fact that we were one of the first people there, food kept coming out of the kitchen and going to other tables while we waited for our order.

We started with the pimento cheese appetizer.  Both of us thought it was a little hotter than we like pimento cheese.


Of course, we got the famous mac and cheese.  I really liked it.  I love a creamy mac and cheese.  My friend was hoping for a more traditional mac and cheese.  But I think the blend of Jarlsberg, Grana Padano and white cheddar is fab.

Poole's Diner macaroni and cheese

We also got the root vegetable au gratin, and maybe it was because of the mac and cheese, but I wasn’t tasting the au gratin part very much.


I got the special of the night, a pork chop with escarole and bread pudding.  The pork chop was a tad dry, which is better than undercooked pork which I sometimes get when I order pork chops.  I liked the escarole.  The bread pudding tasted a bit like Thanksgiving stuffing.


For dessert, we shared a chocolate church cake with hazelnuts.  This cake was great.  If you like rich chocolate ganache, you’d love it.


Dinner Club: The Marrow

I’d heard so much (both good and bad) about The Marrow, Harold Dieterle’s new restaurant in the West Village, that I had to try it.  I’m a big fan of Perilla, so I figured I’d like the food at The Marrow too.  The concept is interesting, as Dieterle’s family tree is German and Italian, so the menu is broken into two columns, one representing the German side of his family and the other, the Italian.  If you are an aficionado of German or Italian food, do not go here thinking you will get any traditional dishes.  What Dieterle does is use ingredients from German and Italian cooking to create unique dishes.


For example, I got the grilled baby chicken from the Italian side–with fregula, fried salami, fava beans & smoked tomato vinaigrette.  For one, I was surprised with the plentiful portion.  Second, the chicken was so incredibly tender and juicy.  While the salad had tomato, fava beans, salami and farro, and the vinaigrette was tomato, it didn’t have an Italian flavor to it.  The salad was so refreshing and enjoyable, but it tasted more Middle Eastern to me than Italian.  The smoky tomato vinaigrette was a perfect accompaniment to the chicken, but its flavor was more reminiscent of American barbecue sauce than anything Italian.

I wanted to try something from both sides of the menu, so I got a German appetizer and an Italian entrée.  To start, I got the duck liverwurst with cornichons, green mustard and grilled bread.


For dessert, I got the rhubarb crostata with toasted almond and mascarpone ice cream, which was absolutely delicious.

rhubarb crostata

Julie, of the Texan New Yorker, got the crispy mortadella with muffuletta dressing.


Her entrée was the polenta, a special, which she enjoyed very much.


I also really enjoyed the pretzel dinner roll with accompanying sweet mustard (German) and olive oil (Italian).


mustard and olive oil

As I said, the food here is excellent, but just don’t go in expecting your standard bratwurst and spaghetti.

Want to be on Food Network’s Chopped?

Food Network’s hit cooking competition show Chopped is seeking skilled, creative and competitive professional chefs and passionate, non-professional, skilled cooks in the New York, Los Angeles and Nashville to compete on new episodes.

Men and women, any specialty and ethnicity are encouraged to apply, as well as amateurs, moms, dads, teens, grandmas and firefighters. Those interested can apply to be on Chopped.

Neighborhood Watch: Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle is named after famed explorer Christopher Columbus.  The 75-foot-high statue was created by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo in 1892 for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.


New Yorkers recently got to see Columbus face to face in the Discovering Columbus exhibit by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi where a scaffold was built to get to the head of the statue where a “modern living room” was constructed.  Guests were invited into the living room to see the sculpture’s face up close for a different perspective on Columbus.

Columbus Circle

The vicinity of the Circle is a foodie oasis, with a plethora of places to visit for quick bites or grandiose meals.  With the famed Time Warner Center and its Shops at Columbus Circle on the west side of the Circle, there are a number of options, including the pinnacle restaurant, Per Se.  For culture, Jazz at Lincoln Center, is also nearby.  For accommodations, ever hear of the Trump International Hotel and Tower?  (You may recognize it as the site of Ben Stiller’s Tower Heist movie.)  There’s also the Mandarin Oriental hotel, which has a piece of Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the lobby.  (I love Chihuly’s work.  I volunteered at the Orlando Museum of Art’s Chihuly exhibit back in 2004.)

Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center houses luxury shops, as well as a Whole Foods and a Williams Sonoma for some foodie-related shopping.  The dining options include Bouchon Bakery (also owned by Per Se owner Thomas Keller), A Voce, Masa, Landmarc and Porter House.

Per Se

cookies from Per Se

I’ve eaten at Per Se, which is the restaurant to dine in NYC, with a perfect view of Christopher Columbus and Central Park.  Here, you experience luxury dining at its finest.  I’ve also eaten at A Voce for high-end Italian

cheese, fava beans and olive oil from A Voce

cheese, fava beans and olive oil from A Voce

and Porter House for classic American fare.

Scottish salmon

Scottish salmon from Porter House

Bouchon Bakery is one of my favorites for many sweet treats, including the best raspberry macaroons!

But there is more to Columbus Circle than the Time Warner Center.  At the east side of the Circle is the USS Maine National Monument. This is the gateway to Central Park where you can walk off all this extravagance. During the holidays, this is the scene of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market.


the USS Maine National Monument

On the north and east sides, the legendary Little Italy bakery Ferrara has outposts where you can get their famous pastries.


On the south side of the Circle, visit the Museum of Arts & Design.  On the ground floor sits the gift shop with many interesting jewelry and home decor pieces.  I saw a Judy Chicago exhibit here once.


If you want to dine with one of the best views in the city, go to the top floor for the museum’s restaurant, Robert, and the food is excellent too.

ricotta pancakes from Robert

ricotta pancakes from Robert

A block to the west is the fairly new Sur La Table for cooking items and cooking classes, if you’re game.  Or stroll down Broadway to Grom for some gelato if it’s warm outside or some hot chocolate if it’s cold out.

Grom hot chocolate

You won’t be disappointed with the rich chocolatey drinks and gelato made with Italian ingredients.


If you’re not a coffee drinker, look no further, there’s an Argo Tea where you can get any number of tea concoctions.

Argo Tea

A block down is Francois Payard‘s bakery of French-style delights.  If you read my blog, you know I’m a Payard fan.

macaroons from Francois Payard

macaroons from Francois Payard

What to Eat:  macaroons from Bouchon Bakery or Francois Payard bakery, pastries from Ferrara, gelato from Grom, luxury dining at Per Se, classic American fare at Porter House, sushi at Masa, dining with a view at Robert, tea at Argo, high-end Italian at A Voce.

Where to Shop:  Time Warner Center for luxury shops and Williams Sonoma, Museum of Arts & Design gift shop, Sur La Table, Columbus Circle Holiday market (in season).

What to See:  Columbus monument, USS Maine monument, Museum of Arts & Design, Time Warner Center, Central Park, Chihuly sculpture at Mandarin Oriental hotel.

Two for Tuesday: Ingrid Hoffman’s Latin D’Lite

Ingrid Book Cover

Ingrid Hoffman stars in Food Network’s Simply Delicioso, also the title of her first cookbook.  Her latest cookbook, Latin D’Lite, Delicious Latin Recipes with a Healthy Twist, is available today, April 2, 2013 from Celebra, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

When it comes to Latin cuisine, I don’t know very much.  Luckily, I live in Manhattan where I have access to many different types of ethnic cuisine, and right in my neighborhood, there are Mexican, Cuban, Brazilian, Peruvian and Argentine restaurants.  Last year, I tried empanadas for the first time and found out what I had been missing! 

Like any unfamiliar cuisine, Latin American cooking is a little intimidating to me with ingredients I’m not used to using, like adobo seasoning or chiles.  What I like about Ingrid’s book is that she uses these ingredients to create recipes that are easy for the home chef.  I also like that she represents many of the diverse Latin cultures, lightening up traditional dishes like huevos ahogados, or drowned spicy Mexican eggs, and aguadito de mariscos, or Peruvian seafood soup. 

In addition to her healthy recipes, she has a feature she calls “Indulge!” where the recipes are fuller fat versions for the days you want to indulge.  Mexican corn soup with heavy cream sounds delicious.  I’d love to try the creamy chipotle mashed potatoes made with cream cheese and the plantain fritters with avocadolicious dip. 

This Two for Tuesday includes two recipes I made from Ingrid’s Latin D’Lite this Sunday for Easter.  Torrijas, or French toast, is a traditional Easter dish in Spain.  Last year, I had torrijas for dessert at the Spanish restaurant, Gastroarte, which was my first introduction to torrijas.  Ingrid says the classic version is fried in olive oil.  Her lightened version uses just cooking spray to fry.  The accompanying banana-yogurt mixture is a pleasant addition to the torrijas.  This healthy breakfast is quick and easy enough to make on a weekday.


I also made her mom’s creamy fruit salad for Easter.  This was very fun to make!  I have never toasted coconut flakes before and didn’t realize it was so easy to do.  The salad is like a healthy ambrosia salad with a bit of dark rum.  I used my favorite Kraken spiced rum.  It adds a sweet, spicy flavor that complements the fruit.  The mint adds a refreshing kick to this creamy and sweet salad.  (I didn’t use cantaloupe or honeydew because I’m not a big fan, but they weren’t missed.)  This salad is going to be my go-to summer salad for cookouts and potlucks.

mom's creamy fruit salad

I’d like to try salt and vinegar kale chips and baked plantain chips.  I think both of these would be great snacks to bring to work.  The hibiscus flower and ginger agua fresca sounds like the perfect refresher for summer parties.  I’ve been looking for recipes to cook calamari without frying them, and the Catalan noodle paella (fideua) cooks them unbreaded in a saffron-based broth.  Her shrimp and mango adobado salad has a grapefruit-lime-sweet paprika marinade, yum!  It’s served with her creative salsa, roasted corn-red onion-avocado-pepper.  Roasted corn salsa is definitely getting me in the mood for summer!  I look forward to making these recipes from Latin D’Lite.

The Plaza Hotel’s Food Hall

The Plaza Hotel’s Food Hall is a hustling and bustling five-star food court.  With Todd English’s food hall as the main attraction, this is a definite place  for foodies to visit.  Francois Payard has a shop here with his verrines (the raspberry one has olive oil marshmallows):

lovely cakes:


and macarons.

Other shops include Lady M, La Maison du Chocolat, Billy’s Bakery, Luke’s Lobster, Sushi of Gari, Three Tarts, and William Greenberg Desserts.

icebox cakes from Billy’s Bakery

yellow daisy cake from Billy’s

panna cotta from Three Tarts

gourmet marshmallows from Three Tarts

After circling the food hall a few times, I decided to try a red velvet black and white cookie from William Greenberg Desserts.

red velvet black and white cookie

I also tried a Greek lemon yogurt with mango bobas from Yo Art.  Yes, they look like large salmon roe, but they are actually balls of mango juice that burst in your mouth.  This was a great combo.  The Greek lemon is such a pleasant flavor.

Kids’ State Dinner at the White House

First lady Michelle Obama is hosting the first kids’ state dinner at the White House today.  Out of 1,200 entries to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, there were 54 winners (aged 8-12).  Judges included White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, Chef Jose Andres, Authors Marshall and Alex Reid, and Epicurious Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel along with USDA and Dept. of Education representatives.

Along with their parents, the winning kids were invited to the White House to try the winning dishes.  New York’s winner was Samuel Wohabe, age 9, with Fish Fueled Pepper Rocket with Kale Chips and Quinoa.  North Carolina’s winner was Sydney Brown, age 11, with Sydney’s Homerun Meatloaf Burger.  Some of these recipes sound like they would be good for adults too.  Yummy Cabbage Sloppy Joes sound good, and I have some cabbage at home.  You can even download the Epicurious Healthy Lunchtime Cookbook free.

Restaurant Week: David Burke Kitchen

David Burke Kitchen was on my radar because of its red velvet sundae on the Restaurant Week dessert menu.  I made reservations for three people as soon as Restaurant Week reservations opened.  The night of our dinner was an off-night yet the dining area was packed.  One person in our party was not able to make it due to an emergency, so we told the two young hostesses that it would only be two that night.  We proceeded to wait 40 minutes for a table as other parties of two were seated.  When we were finally offered a seat, it was in the bar area.  I wasn’t too crazy about the seating as one person would have to sit on a large block of wood with a pillow behind her back while the other person got a chair.  I found the tables to be awkwardly large as well so that, in a crowded dining room, you couldn’t hear your partner.

Our waiter gave us menus and explained that for Restaurant Week, you could order anything off the menu with a rabbit symbol next to it.  I do like this gesture, as most participating restaurants have limited Restaurant Week menu choices.  He also told us the specials.  I was immediately disappointed to see the dessert menu options were different from the menu posted on the official New York Restaurant Week site–no red velvet sundae.

At this point, we were given a charming bread basket with the same blue gingham napkins at the table.  The bread basket had very yummy, pencil-thin breadsticks, cooked carrot sticks and farmer’s bread.  Our butter was served in a small glass jar.

I ordered the crab and tomato gazpacho with roasted corn, cilantro and lime creme fraiche to start.  This dish arrived with a small circle of crab topped with the creme fraiche.  The server poured the gazpacho into the bowl.  This soup had a wonderful flavor.  The lime creme fraiche had a hint of chipotle in it.  I enjoyed this dish very much.

My friend ordered the cute tuna tartare tacos with whipped avocado and tobiko caviar.  I did sample a taste of this and it was very good as well.

When I finished my appetizer, I picked up a piece of bread and buttered it with the butter knife on my bread plate.  No sooner than I did that, in mid-chew, the busboy took away the bread basket and my bread plate.   For my entree, I chose the trout with pickled carrot, citrus salad and mint yogurt.  The trout was grilled, skin and tail on, which I didn’t like so much as the presentation is kind of ugly and I had to pull the skin off.  I did like the mint yogurt as an accompaniment, but the citrus salad and falafel didn’t do anything for me.

My friend ordered the black sea bass with baby shrimp, spinach, tomato, olive and yellow pepper.  The spinach and yellow pepper sauce were very good, but the sea bass didn’t taste fresh.

For dessert, we both chose the brownie. The server poured salted caramel sauce around the plate.  This was a delightful dessert.  I especially liked the chocolate crumbles and salted caramel around the plate.  I think a vanilla ice cream would’ve gone better than mint chocolate chip.  The chocolate lollipop had a wonderful cherry syrup inside, and who wouldn’t love the adorable floppy toasted marshmallow?

While the food was very good and the options plentiful for a Restaurant Week menu, the restaurant’s rushed vibe reminded me more of a chain restaurant in middle America than a trendy New York spot, and I was expecting the young wait staff to adorn “pieces of flair.”  Therefore, given the plethora of restaurants in New York City, I would opt for a place with better service.

Sweets Week: Day 2: Francois Payard Bakery

The sweet for the day is the new macaron ice cream sandwich at Francois Payard Bakery.  A new location of FPB opened up not far from me, to my delight.  However, it was a bit tricky to find as it’s not on Columbus Circle but a block down on Broadway.  Once inside, I found a small sign advertising the macaron ice cream sandwich in flavors like passion fruit cheesecake and coconut mango.  Now, I must admit, though I am an ice cream addict, I’m not a huge fan of ice cream sandwiches.  However, I am open to anything Francois Payard creates, so I had to try this exotic and posh take on a cool summer treat.  I got passion fruit cheesecake, and my taste-tester friend got coconut mango.

Verdict:  Perfect macaron cookie and delish ice cream.

Passion fruit cheesecake macaron ice cream sandwich

Taste of Tribeca 2012

This is quite the foodie weekend, with the Great GoogaMooga Festival, the 9th Avenue International Food Festival, New Taste of the Upper West Side and the Taste of Tribeca.  At Taste of Tribeca, enjoy tastes from the Harrison, Bouley, Tribeca Grill, Blaue Gans, Landmarc, Plein Sud, the Odeon and Nobu.  Proceeds from the event go to arts and enrichment programs at area public schools PS 150 and PS 234.  For tickets, click here.