Lunch at Bagatelle

Backstory; a couple of years ago I joined SearsStyle for a brunch at Bagatelle in the Meatpacking District where I had the most amazing black truffle scrambled eggs. Since then I always meant to return, if not for the truffled eggs than at least to try their other eating options. I recently spotted them on Gilt City* (a higher-end version of Groupon) and thought it was a no-brainer, of course I bought a voucher for lunch! Out we went on a blisteringly cold day, my sister, my voucher and I downtown to Bagatelle.

Bagatelle-NYC-Lunch

Our voucher included one appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert. We started with a Bagatelle Salad – hearts of lettuce, parmesan cheese, fresh garden herbs, and a mustard vinaigrette. The salad was crisp and fresh, the vinaigrette was a bit heavy for my sister, but I thought it was great.

Bagatelle-NYC

As an entree, I ordered the Ahi Tuna Tartare Bagatelle – featuring a lime soy vinaigrette, avocado salad, and taro chips. The portion was massive. I always forget how filling tuna is, especially raw tuna. I loved the lime soy vinaigrette – which really added a much needed citrus flavor to cut through the clean and creamy flavors of the tuna and avocado salad. Now, I’m in no way a chef or culinary professional, but I feel like I would have enjoyed it far better if the portion was made smaller or served as individual bites. There was nothing wrong with it – the flavors were great – but it was just not something I really enjoyed eating, if that makes sense.

Tuna-Tartare-Bagatelle-NYC

My sister ordered the Steak Frites Chimi-Choron Sauce – black angus sirloin steak, homemade pommes frites, and cilantro-chipotle bearnaise sauce. No stranger to heat, chipotles, or cilantro, we both deemed this sauce a dud. The fries were perfect, as in you could-not-make-them-in-any-way-better perfect. The steak was also perfectly cooked (medium/rare), but unfortunately Bagatelle seemed to be lacking in serrated steak knives. A quick trip to Bowery Kitchens next door in the Chelsea Market would have taken care of that. So in short, cutting the steak was a job. Such a job, it took away from the enjoyment of said steak. I felt like I was ‘tearin the beastie wit me bare hands’. Also, as fun as having steak for lunch sounds, unless you work on a ranch it’s definitely a safer bet to go for something lighter.

Bagatelle-Lunch-Steak

Our choice of dessert was the Creme Brulee aux Framboises. We actually picked this out while looking at their online menu before we even arrived at Bagatelle. It’s meant to be a raspberry creme brulee served with salted chocolate cookies and raspberry sorbet. What is was was a deliciously creamy creme brulee, perfectly torched, served with raspberry sorbet – whose tart flavor was the most ideal accompaniment to the sweet creaminess of the brulee. I was tempted to lick the plate. It was a perfect end to our otherwise so/so meal and a reminder of why Bagatelle had left such a lasting impression on me in the first place.

Creme-Brulee-aux-FramboisesCreme-Brulee-Bagatelle

Ultimately, I feel like their entrees were a let-down from what had drawn me back. Could it be it was due to a slow afternoon or maybe the head chef wasn’t in? I don’t know. It is a beautiful restaurant, the dessert was delicious, and the service is definitely on point, and my sister and I had a lovely time just chatting and enjoying each others company – but the entrees, not so much.

Bagatelle
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 488 – 2110

http://www.bagatellenyc.com/

Just for the calamari…

I’ve tried to write this post at least three times already, so instead of going the “writerly” route – which after an exhausting week of running around for work and school projects, just isn’t working for me right now – I’m just going to be as bare bones as possible with this post. This Friday my sisters and I traveled over to Yonkers to try out a restaurant – Zuppa. We had bought a LivingSocial voucher, so we figured with overages lunch for three wouldn’t be too bad. The restaurant sounded sort of snazzy (based on it’s website and reviews), so we three raided each others closets to pick out our best business-wear appropriate for us ladies who lunch.

On arrival, we were led into the dining area – which was almost cavernous, but not quite. It’s one of those spaces that have high ceilings but is still on the smaller side. My sister loved the feel and artwork of the place. I, on the other hand, almost felt like Zuppa seemed more like a pop-up restaurant than a Yonkers staple.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Calamari

We all ordered the Prefisso or Prefix – the three course lunch special. My sisters both ordered the Crostino, while I went for the Calamari. The calamari was far and away the best calamari I’ve had in years – yes, years! I would come back to Zuppa again and again just for the calamari alone. The calamari was crisp, yet light, and bursting with flavor. Served with a spicy marinara, both of my girls agreed that this was a brilliant dish.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Crostini

The crostino, though plated prettily, was disappointing – house smoked ricotta, orange segment, and bitter greens on grilled/toasted bread – I tried my sisters crostini and they were mostly burnt, the house smoked ricotta was creamy but largely lacking in flavor.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Salmone

Next was the second course – I had the Salmone; grilled salmon, pesto, roasted potato, fagiolini, and moscato wine vinegar – the salmon was slightly overcooked, but the flavor of the pesto and crispness of the roasted potatoes were nice. My sisters ordered the Spaghettini and the Cavatelli. I would have preferred either of theirs to my salmon. Zuppa nailed it with cooking the pasta perfectly al dente – which is a big deal to us Italians y’know ;). The Cavatelli, with smoked ricotta, pasta, speck, and crunchy radicchio, was loaded with flavor. Deliciously creamy with the speck lending great bacon-y flavor to the dish. The spaghettini was simple, shoestring pasta, sun dried tomato pesto, and mushroom. I love the flavor and simplicity of the dish – I just wouldn’t pay $24 or even $15 for it for lunch.

Zuppa-Yonkers-CavatelliZuppa-Yonkers-Spaghettini

For dessert the girls had the seasonal gelati trio – which happened to be Basil, Ligonberry, and Pumpkin. I had the Honey Jameson Pannacotta garnished with honeycomb and a rice crispy treat. They were all delicious and a sweet ending to our meal.

Zuppa-Yonkers-Pannacotta

All in all, our little lunch outing came out to $46 (including tax & tip) in addition to the value of the voucher ($60). If you decide to stop by Zuppa, please be advised, the sparkling (seltzer) water that they offer you is not complimentary and at lunch is $6 a bottle – which they didn’t tell us, nor was it indicated on the menu – until we saw the charge on the receipt. I thought that was rather shady of them as it was offered as an alternative to water and the waiter kept returning to refill our glasses and empty our bottle of sparkling water without our request. That being said, the staff was friendly enough, and didn’t give us any issues with our voucher. While there were some highlights to the meal (calamari, and cavatelli) I have to – with reluctance – admit that the meal wasn’t was I was hoping it would be. A meal at a restaurant should never be a case of choosing between what’s good and what’s flavorless. This was a case of dressing up for a meal that doesn’t dress up for you.

If you’ve been to Zuppa, let me know what your experience was like! If you haven’t, what’s one of your most memorable dining experiences?

Either way, I still plan on returning to Zuppa, even if just for the calamari…

Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge

59 Main St, Yonkers, NY 10701

(914) 376-6500

http://www.zupparestaurant.com/site/

*P.S. All pictures were taken with my new Nokia Lumia 635 – which is pretty awesome for snapping pics in dimly lit settings IMHO! Plus, I didn’t have to lug around my DSLR!

 

Sweet Satisfaction with HERSHEY & Duane Reade!

DiscLike most New Yorkers, I’m perpetually running around the city – which is why I rely so much on Duane Reade. I can count on being able to find whatever I need in a pinch. I’ll usually run in for some water, fuel (of a food-like nature), or a new beauty product that I’ve been dying to get my hands on and know that Duane Reade will definitely have in stock. However, most recently I have been enjoying HERSHEY’S BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry Flavors!

#DReadeHSY #shop

I have quite a few “favorite” Duane Reade locations – I mean, I love them all but some locations more than others really knock it out of the park for me. One of those locations is the Duane Reade right across the street from the Empire State Building. Despite the massive amounts of foot traffic from visitors and locals, I never ever have had to wait more than a couple minutes to check out.

My sister and I had a busy morning covering the opening of a new store in the city and stopped in for a treat on the way to our next destination. Our usual dark chocolate pick is HERSHEY’S BLISS Dark Chocolate, which I always pick up at Duane Reade – they always have them in stock and offer a great selection. But I have been enjoying BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry Flavors for a couple weeks now, and was determined to introduce my sister to it.

#DReadeHSY #shop

BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate Goji and Raspberry Flavors is made with Goji fruit flavored centers as well as other exotic fruit flavors like raspberry. It has a bright sweet tart flavor that pairs perfectly with the dark chocolate – yum! I also love how they’re small pieces, I feel like it makes it a more portion-friendly treat.

#DReadeHSY #shop#DReadeHSY #shop

I literally walked up to the wall next to the registers, picked out my favorite BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate and was checked out in under a couple minutes. I love that BROOKSIDE Dark Chocolate comes in a resealable package – it’s super convenient, and makes it perfect for when you’re on the go!

#DReadeHSY #shop

 

Cape May: The Original Fudge Kitchen

The Original Fudge Kitchen is located pretty much anywhere convenient along the Jersey Shore. Still, I’m really partial to the one located in Washington Street Mall. It’s not that the other ones are worse, it’s just that I have fond memories of grabbing samples from that location since I was a little girl.

The Original Fudge Kitchen

I’m not even going to mince words with you here – The Original Fudge Kitchen has the best fudge. Ever. My sister and I polished off about two pounds between the two of us during our week-long stay at the shore. There was something so magical about evenings spent staying across the street from the beach, watching old black and white films, and gorging ourselves on delicious fudge. Those are the kind of memories that I’m going to carry with me forever.

The Original Fudge Kitchen in Cape May

Our first couple of days in we decided to pick out a pound of fudge. You get about 8 pieces in a pound. She chose plain chocolate and vanilla chocolate chip, while I went for Rocky Road. I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking here ;)

Fudge from The Original Fudge KitchenRocky Road FudgeVanilla Chocolate Chip Fudge

They’re all so good, I just can’t imagine going to Cape May and not buying up some of The Fudge Kitchen’s fudge. Rocky Road is my all-time favorite, but all the other flavors I’ve tried are equally as addictive. We ended up bringing home an additional two pounds for the rest of our family.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, I definitely recommend their fudge – plus, they have an overwhelming variety for you to choose from. And if you’re not hitting the Jersey Shore anytime soon, you can actually buy their fudge online! We’re already planning on buying some for the holiday season!

If you have any questions about my Cape May experience, be sure to leave a comment below!

Cape May: Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard

One of the first things that my sister wanted to do when we got to Cape May was have some of the Kohr Brothers frozen custard. I mean she was really set on it, and it’s not like she had it before, it’s just that during our youth when we visited Cape May our dear darling grandfather once made a fuss about how good Kohr’s was – but never actually took us to try it. That’s not to say that they didn’t let us have any treats, they did let us take samples from the Fudge Kitchen – but only after we made dinner and scrubbed the dishes. Ah, good times, good times.

Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard

I’m just kidding, you know I jest (*cough, cough*), and the samples were always generous. Anyways, about those Kohr Brothers and their fancy newfangled frozen custard. If you check out their site they have a pretty interesting tale about where and how Kohr Brothers frozen ice cream came to be, it’s certainly worth a read – so I’ll link it here. But, long story short – they’ve been dishing (scooping? serving?) up the good stuff since 1919, and their custard (made of milk, cream, sugar, and eggs) apparently has less fat than regular ice cream. I want to say that that impresses me, but I’m just not the kind of person who counts the calories of my dessert.

Kohr Brothers in Cape May

My sister chose the mint and chocolate swirl, while I – ever the adventurous sort – went for chocolate and vanilla (what? I’m a New Yorker!).

Kohr1

They were delicious. I have to be honest, it tastes a lot like typical yummy delicious soft serve. It’s soft, sweet, and just great. Except for one very significant detail – there is completely no aftertaste, like you know when you have an ice cream and you get this sticky aftertaste in your throat and you have to drink some water – yeah, well you don’t get that at all with Kohr’s frozen custard. It’s a very clean enjoyable yummy dessert. Turns out grandpa was right, Kohrs is good! So if you’re in Cape May, or near any one of their 10 locations, after you’ve cleaned the dishes, mopped the floors, made dinner, and trim the hedges, definitely try to stop by Kohr Brothers! ;)

Skeeter Snacks Review and Giveaway! 2 Winners, Ends 2/1

I’m an avid snacker, but more than anything I love having cookies and milk. Nothing beats the classic after-school snack, one of my all-time favorite cookies are from Skeeter Snacks. Perfectly buttery, yummy, and crunchy their cookies are simply put, amazing. One of my most favorite treats, Skeeter Snacks are more than just yummy cookies, they are actually peanut and tree nut free cookies!

skeeter1

Right now an estimated 4% of American adults and 8% of children suffer from food allergies. With peanut and tree nut allergies affecting the majority of this population, an average of about 6 million adults and children have a peanut and/or nut allergy. So chances are you’ve probably heard about the precautions that must be taken for those that have such allergies. Maybe your child’s school no longer allows peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or maybe your kid isn’t allowed to bring in peanut M&M’s – the fact is is that something as harmless as a peanut can in fact end a person’s life. There are those who are severely allergic, and unfortunately many many snacks, treats, food, and sweets are made in facilities that process nuts and therefor make their product inedible for those adults and kids who are allergic to them.

There are brands and products out there that produce peanut and tree nut free snacks, but all too often they taste well, tasteless, and cost an arm and a leg. Skeeter Snacks is completely different, they’re reasonably priced and taste absolutely amazing! I would have never guessed that they were nut free if the adorable little Skeeter Squirrel’s (the only squirrel with a nut allergy) placard hadn’t suggested it.

skeeter10skeeter11

Skeeter Snacks comes in Chocolate Chunk, Golden Oatmeal, Skeeter Doodle, and Chocolate Cubed. I don’t have any nut allergies, but I’m in love with these cookies! They are all seriously delicious, and they have the approval of both the kids and adults in my family. In fact we’ve already decided to switch from our mainstream well known popular brand of chocolate chip cookies and buy Skeeter Snacks instead. We all love that Skeeter Snacks as brand not only produces an amazing product, but that they provide resources and information for kids and adults wanting to learn more, or who are looking for support in being proactive about peanut/tree nut allergies.

skeetersnacksreview

Now about those cookies, I tried to find a favorite but I really just couldn’t choose. The Golden Oatmeal was just this warm mellow sweet oatmeal-y cookie that brought me right back to my childhood, when my mom used to give my sister and me oatmeal cookies while we did our homework. The Skeeter Doodle’s were super yummy – they had crystallized sugar on top, were super buttery, and had this great crunch. I’d say they are the ideal tea or coffee cookie. The Chocolate Chunk was really good – the perfect crunchy CCC.  And the Chocolate Cubed delivered some serious chocolate flavor – I loved how the cookie was crunchy but the chocolate chips were melty, I don’t know how the folks at Skeeter managed to do that but it was so good! And yes, all of them make a perfect afternoon snack with a glass of cold milk!

Now here’s that giveaway you’ve all been looking forward to, lol! Skeeter Snacks had been kind enough to offer TWO of my lucky readers and chance to try each of Skeeter Snack’s cookies! How cool is that? Here’s how to enter to win:

Leave ONE comment PER ENTRY!

Mandatory

Follow Skeeter Snacks on twitter

Like Skeeter Snacks on facebook

Optional

Like The NYC Talon on facebook

Share this giveaway via social media (twitter, facebook, etc.), and leave a link!

*I was sent a product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own, and not influenced in any way. This giveaway is only open to those who are 18+ residing in the USA. The prize will be sent by the sponsor at their expense. This giveaway ends at 2/1/2013 at 12pm. For more info, please see my PR tab at the top of the page- thanks!