On Tuesday, I was invited to the Baked Occasions book launch party at their soon-to-be-opened location in Tribeca. The book, which is absolutely beautiful, is filled with everyday desserts and special occasion cakes that a home baker can make (trust me, I’ve made multiple things from their cookbooks!). The launch party was really fun and I brought my friend, Ryan, to help me eat and take photos. We tried EVERYTHING and are happy to report that we left with happy bellies. The book cover is absolutely beautiful:
Their second location in Tribeca is going to open in a few weeks and already has some really cool decor, including this great light and couch:
The dessert spread:
I am a sucker for their cupcakes because their fluffy icing and very moist cake and these were decorated with sprinkles so obviously we had to have one:
And since it’s October, we had to have pumpkin swirl cheesecake bites:
Their chocolate cupcakes and brownie bites were also beautiful to look at and even better to eat:
These cookies had cardamom and coconut – an interesting combination that reminded me of Vosges chocolates – yum!:
Books lining the bookcases of their new bakery:
My plate of goodies:
The book cover’s cake was the pièce de résistance (in the background of this photo):
And they cut it up for us to eat:
I might make (or end up buying) that cake for Ken’s upcoming birthday! The Bake Occasions book has beautiful photos, great recipes that are very easy to follow, and every time I make something from the Baked cookbook for my friends or coworkers, they thank me profusely for making something so damn delicious. I can’t wait until the bakery opens in the city, too!
We were very ambitious during our Napa trip and ended up visiting two wineries in the morning after our large breakfast at The Chanric Inn. For lunch, we made reservations at Solbar, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Solage Hotel:
It was getting hot that afternoon and we opted to sit inside in the shade instead of sitting outside by the pool, where it was too sunny (we didn’t wear enough sunscreen to sit outside!) The inside was still very nice and had high ceilings and a very open layout. We started with a refreshing Arnold Palmer:
I ordered the corn soup for an appetizer, which ended up being a really good choice because it was a light and refreshing chilled soup that had the perfect texture (I’m thinking it was a puree of fresh corn and potatoes):
Ken started with a beet salad that we shared:
For Ken’s main course, he ordered the soft shell crab sandwich with chips:
While I ordered the shrimp noodle wraps with a sweet and sour pomelo sauce:
I really enjoyed the shrimp wraps but they did a poor job removing the shrimp shells from the shrimp and I kept biting into shells that were secretly still on the other side of the shrimp! The waiter noticed how many shells I had removed and placed to the site of my plate and brought out the chef to apologize — and they even brought me more shrimp wraps because of their mistake!
After our lunch, we walked around the grounds of the hotel, which are like little separate houses perfect enough for a small family:
It was a super cute afternoon and just the right amount of food to tide us over until our dinner (and to help us get through the afternoon of more wine tastings!)
· October 6, 2014
This week, I’ll cover all of our Napa Valley posts from our trip there over the summer. Ken and I had a very fun summer traveling (mostly back and forth from Chicago for weddings) and scheduled our anniversary trip to San Francisco/Napa. We spent our honeymoon in Bordeaux and Ken wanted to experience Napa for their cabernets and scenery, so we booked our flights for the 4th of July weekend. I booked the bed and breakfast for the second part of our trip (where I stayed for my bachelorette party the previous year) but left the first few days of the trip up to Ken. I usually need to plan out the entire trip and need to know exactly where we’re staying, but was able to let Ken plan the first few nights.
He searched for a few hotels and decided to book a romantic bed and breakfast – The Chanric Inn:
The inn is located in Calistoga, an appelation that is a little further north of Napa Valley/Yountville. When we checked in (after our meal at The French Laundry which I will blog about at some point), we were just in time for happy hour! The innkeeper, Joel, was a very nice man from France and he helped us check in, provided us some details about the reservations he made for us at different wineries, and offered us sparkling wine, candies, light bites. We enjoyed them by the fire:
The outside patio had different types of herbs growing (Joel picked the herbs before making our breakfast!) The patio continued around the corner with heat lamps:
Inside the beautiful kitchen:
Some of the treats during our happy hour:
The beautiful dining room:
One of the reasons Ken chose The Chanric Inn for our stay is because Joel and his partner are both really amazing chefs. For our first breakfast, we sat outside and enjoyed plums marinated in wine served with fresh mint from Joel’s Garden:
Our own personal raclette with potatoes and cornichons:
A pear tart served with lavender candies from France and fresh Chantilly cream:
Joel also baked fresh brioche (you can see it on the corner of this photo):
On another day, Joel made a fresh fruit salad with kiwi, pineapple, and fresh mint in a sparkling wine reduction:
Baked cod with fresh thyme and tomato paste:
Joel was such a wonderful host and we would definitely recommend staying at the inn to anyone going to Napa. It wasn’t a far drive from the center of Napa and Joel was very knowledgeable about the different wineries in the area as well.
A few weeks ago, I was checking my email over the weekend and saw an email from Michelin. An email from Michelin! They were inviting me to their announcement gala for the 2015 guide – an event where chefs from New York celebrate being added to (or staying on) the Michelin guide. The gala was at Gustavino’s on 59th Street and had tastings from a few of their Michelin-starred restaurants. I have been a huge fan of Michelin and even dined at all of the restaurants their inspectors added to the 2010 Michelin list (all of my reviews are here). While dining at all of the Michelin-starred restaurants, Ken and I met (and fell in love) and for 2015, Ken and I will be visiting all of of the restaurants that are on the 2015 list that we haven’t visited already! Here are some photos from the fun event:
Me with the Michelin man:
Jean Georges’ very cute team plating a dish that was created for the Michelin party (that will soon be added to their tasting menu) – 24k Gold Potatoes, Osetra caviar, caviar, and lemon verbena:
The Osetra caviar they were adding to the 24k Gold potatoes:
This was my favorite dish of the evening – the potatoes are cooked in verbena tea and plated with tapioca, caviar and chives:
The dish reminded me of oysters and pearls from per se!
Gustavino’s had a great selection of h’ors d’oeuvres:
Atera, a restaurant Ken and I are very excited to visit this year (or early next year), was doing Chicken and Shrimp dumplings:
Topped with truffles, of course:
Macallan was one of the sponsors of the event so we were lucky enough to sample some of their scotches:
I learned a lot about Macallan and did a side by side taste test with Highland Park, another sponsor:
Macallan is aged in brand new oak barrels and the Macallan 18 is so smooth and full-bodied that it is possibly my new favorite drink!
The River Cafe, where I went with my family and was the second to last Michelin-starred restaurant I visited in 2010, was closed down by Hurricane Sandy. They were closed for quite a while but reopened on February 1st. While they were closed, they opened a new catering business (in Red Hook) and were waiting for the insurance adjustor to process their claim. They now have a completely redesigned kitchen (that they’re very excited about!) and were serving another favorite of the night – foie gras crostini’s with an apple cider reduction and roast empire apples:
These were so good that I had three of them! Their main dish was tortellini with white truffles – the truffles smelled absolutely divine:
Their tortellini with shaved white truffle and a delicious braised oxtail:
The event had all types of different cocktails but were also serving delicious Laurent-Perrier champagne:
Jungsik served sea urchin with rice, seaweed puree, and crispy quinoa:
The dish tasted a little bit like dolsot bibimbap with a briney sea urchin taste. We can’t wait to try Jungsik, too!
Jonathan Benno from Lincoln was serving eel with foie gras, apricot mostarda, and brown bread:
The Breslin and The Spotted Pig created a dish together: Shelling beans on Miche bread with mild mushrooms and smoked ham hock:
And for dessert, Gustavino’s had quite the spread:
Thank you so much to the Michelin team for inviting me and Ken to the wonderful event – we had so much fun mingling with the chefs, tasting everything at the event, and getting to know the Michelin team from Paris and the US! Ken and I can’t wait to dine at all of the new restaurants in New York and Brooklyn. If you’re interested in the list of restaurants on the list for 2015, check out the list on Eater or NY Mag.
· September 26, 2014
,Things to do in NYC
A few weeks ago, Joe and I were talking about getting together for dinner. Joe’s and his girlfriend, Jane, recently moved from Gramercy to Murray Hill and I hadn’t met her yet so we decided to get together for dinner at Pocha 32. Since we are both walking distance from Koreatown, we decided to meet there and ended up going to Pocha 32, somewhere I’ve only been after a few drinks earlier in the evening. Their food is actually very good (although very salty) and they also have really good watermelon soju.
We started off by sharing the watermelon soju:
Soju is mixed with sprite and fresh watermelon juice and then place in half of an empty watermelon. They ladle it out into bowls so when you’re drinking it, it’s almost like you’re drinking a gazpacho. It’s pretty sweet but you don’t taste any of the soju until it hits you all at once.
For dinner, we shared the squid that was stuffed with pork. They bring it to the table still intact and cut it up into slices for you at the table with a very sharp knife:
The finished result:
It is a really large bite of food but you want to get as much squid and pork into your mouth in one bite as possible to get all of the good flavors and textures. It’s slightly spicy (it’s cooked with lots of gochujang, which is the traditional Korean red sauce that’s the base for everything) and then the pork is cooked until it falls apart easily. It’s really quite good and hits the spot when you’re craving Korean food.
I definitely want to return to Pocha 32 again and I’m already thinking about the squid stuffed with pork!
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