Tag Archives: Grom

Dina’s 10 Favorite Things About Winter in NYC

I think each season in New York City has something special to celebrate.  I would say winter is my least favorite season for obvious reasons–it can be very cold, especially when you are walking around.  Many times I’ve worn two pairs of socks and gloves, a scarf, a hat with a scarf and a hat over it.  And no one likes when the puddles at the corner look more like swimming pools and there’s no way to cross the street except to wade through them.  But such is life in a New York winter.  Despite these nuisances, there are many reasons to visit New York in the winter.  Here’s my top ten.

  1. There aren’t as many tourists in January.  Snowstorms can mess up travel plans, so it’s not the best time to travel.  But if there is ever a time in New York where it is not as crowded, it’s this month.
  2. New York City Restaurant Week occurs in January, and it’s a great time to try out a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.  I would just say to keep in mind that because prices are cheaper, the menus are not as exciting as they normally would be.  I would also say to book early at the popular ones.
  3. Hot drinks.  I love to get hot chocolate from Grom, who makes the thickest, most decadent hot chocolate.  My all-time favorite café to get warm drinks is La Lanterna in the Village.  They have the most extensive menu of spiked coffees you will ever see. 
  4. Valentine’s Day and chocolates.  NYC has a plethora of delectable chocolate.  From Jacques Torres to Royce to Kee’s and Stick With Me, there’s something for everyone’s taste.  And it is fun to taste them all! Check out my Dina’s Guide to NYC Chocolate Shops for more great chocolate in NYC!chocolate bon bons, chocolates, Stick With Me, bon bons
  5. Lenten foods–OK, Lent isn’t for everyone, but even if you are not Catholic, you can still partake in the delicious goodies that can be found this time of year like hot cross buns and the Italian chocolate pudding made with pig’s blood, sanguinaccio. It’s also a time to abstain from meat on Fridays, so I get to make all my favorite Lenten dishes like eggs with sauce.
  6. Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown.  A very fun event that is packed, but it is possible to get a good view.  Follow the parade with soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai.  Spend the day in Chinatown shopping and visit the Museum of Chinese in America

    Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings

  7. Purim–Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates Queen Esther outsmarting King Haman who was planning to kill the Jews. Like Halloween, it’s a day for costumes and celebration. I like this holiday for its delicious cookie, hamentaschen, or Haman’s hat. You can find these all around the city, but my favorite are at Moishe’s.
  8. Japan Week–For a week in March, Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal becomes an expo of Japanese culture and food. I like to follow this festival with a visit to Minamoto Kitchoan for some Japanese sweets. (This location has moved since I wrote that blog post. It’s now on Madison Ave. between 52nd & 53rd.)

    Kitchoan goodies

  9. St. Patrick’s Day parade–The one day everyone is Irish, including an Italian girl like me!  I love the parade and the after-party at local Irish pubs.  Also corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread. And let’s not forget the elusive Shamrock shake from McDonald’s.

    a festive take on the New York black & white

  10. St. Joseph’s Day–This holiday on March 19 is celebrated by Italians in honor of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Mother. Traditionally, we make zeppole, the fried dough balls you get at street fairs. But we also have zeppole with custard and sfinci/sfingi. You can find these during the season at any of the Italian bakeries in the city, such as Rocco’s, Veniero’s and Ferrara or out in the boroughs.

    Veniero’s zeppole (l) and sfinge

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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.  

Columbus

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!

rm2
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.

statue

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. 

Ferrara

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. 

MAD

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. 

Grom

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: Warm Drinks

Since temps have been dipping into the teens, like everyone else, I’ve been craving the steaming warmth of drinks and soups.  Whenever I go into Grom, I get gelato, but now that it’s cold, I wanted to try its hot chocolate.  Boy, am I glad I did.  The cioccolata calda fondente is hot dark chocolate that is thick, creamy chocolatey goodness.  Even the whipped cream on top is extra creamy.  Trust me, my pic doesn’t do it justice.

Grom hot chocolate

If you’d like something not so rich and less caloric but still warming, how about some tea served in a charming tea pot at Tea and Sympathy in the West Village?  Tea and Sympathy is a long favorite of mine, and despite the name, there’s more than tea, and not so much sympathy for unruly patrons.  The restaurant usually has a long wait at peak dining times, and it posts a list of rules that apply to everyone.  Luckily, I was in the neighborhood at an off hour, so I was seated right away near the window.  The food here is delightful, and in addition to some sustenance, I also got a basic English breakfast tea with milk and sugar and warmed my hands over the steaming cup.

tea

Two for Tuesday: Seasonal Ingredients

If you read food blogs, you should know that pumpkin is the ingredient of the season.  But there are some other great fall/winter ingredients making a presence.  If you didn’t get to try Grom‘s chestnut flavor last year, you MUST try it this year.  But if you do, please leave some for me.

Grom’s chestnut

Also, the substitute for pumpkin, the sweet potato, is being used in some creative ways.  I had brunch at West End Grill in Hell’s Kitchen.  My eggs came with a side of sweet potato chipotle short rib hash.  Yes, you read that right.  Not normally a hash fan, I found this dish to be delish.

sweet potato chipotle short rib hash

Not a meat eater? No worries, try the potato carrot hash instead.

potato carrot hash