Smashburger Hits Manhattan!

There is nothing like a good burger, and no city knows this more then NYC. Just recently, Smashburger has put roots down in the city that never sleeps with it’s first location in Manhattan. I have always been a fan of a good burger, however I had never had the pleasure of actually having Smashburger before – that is until this week, where I attended a media preview of Smashburger’s NYC menu.

Smashburger, Manhattan, NYC

Located next to the Empire State Building, Smashburger’s 10 West 33rd St. location offers plenty of seating and captures the spirit of the city with the use of local reclaimed brick, as well as soft lighting to highlight and contrast with bright colors and localized art. We were joined by Tom Ryan, Founder & Chief Concept Officer of Smashburger, for a tasting tour of Smashburger’s New York Menu.

Smashburger, Manhattan, NYC

In honor of their new location, Tom said that Smashburger wanted to create a burger that really would appeal to the New Yorker – sophisticated, while being extremely flavorful, and so the “New Yorker” was born. The New Yorker can be prepared as either a Smashburger or Smashchicken and features NY cheddar, garlic grilled onions, spinach, tomato, and peppercorn garlic aoili on a brioche bun. I loved it, I found it sort of creamy and decadent – I know, bizarre words to describe a burger- but it was really, really tasty!

Smashburger, Manhattan, NYC

I also tried a Classic Smash – after which I totally understood why Smashburger has grown by leaps and bounds since it was founded back in 2007 – it really is delicious. Also on our tasting menu was the Bacon Cheeseburger, Truffle Mushroom Swiss Burger, Avocado Ranch Veggie Black Bean, Spinach, Cucumber and Goat Cheese burger, and the Avocado Club, as well as Smashfries, Sweet Potato Fries, Haystack Onions, and Veggie Frites. And it wouldn’t be a Smashburger tasting without those Hand-Spun Shakes, we tried Chocolate Oreo and Salted Caramel. I know I was full to bursting when our tasting was over, haha!

Smashburger, Manhattan, NYCSmashburger, Manhattan, NYC

I really wanted to pick favorites with the Smashburger menu, I mean, you can’t do everything right can you? Apparently you can. I freakin’ loved everything that I tried – and although I haven’t tried everything on the menu (I would love to give those salad’s a go!) I think it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong by stopping in by Smashburger’s Manhattan location! By the way, if you do, do not leave without trying the Veggie Frites and Smashfries – they’re both insanely good. I’m obsessed.

NYC Hot Spot: D’Vida Health Bar

Last month I swung by D’Vida Health Bar’s One World Plaza spot to try their newest drink – the Smoocino. However, I’m one of those weird people who drink cold drinks year ’round even in icy cold weather and instead of going for their hot smoothie I decided to try their cold one’s (having never tried or been to D’Vida before). I was lucy enough to be joined by 1/2 of D’Vida’s founding team, Milena Kozhin.

D'Vida Health Bar, NYC, Health, Health Bar, Fresh SmoothiesD'Vida Health Bar, NYC, Health, Health Bar, Fresh Smoothies

Milena was probably one of the coolest business owner’s/founder’s I’ve ever met, she has an amazing background and is so obviously enthusiastic about D’Vida. She knows she has a great product and that she doesn’t need to have a massive billboard in the middle of Times Square to get the word out – once people try it, they love it, share it, and continually come back for more.

After trying a special Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana protein shake of her own making I have to admit that she’s absolutely right – the shake was addictingly good. I’m not even kidding, it tasted better then ice cream. I know it sounds unbelievable but oh my goodness was it good!

D'Vida Health Bar, NYC, Health, Health Bar, Fresh Smoothies

I also tried a green smoothie, having been more familiar with green smoothies I have to say D’Vida’s was pleasantly fresh tasting – without any sticky aftertaste in the back of your throat that usually accompanies sugar alternatives (I’m fairly certain that Milena said that D’Vida uses Stevia).

D'Vida Health Bar, NYC, Health, Health Bar, Fresh Smoothies

I’m most disappointed that D’Vida has been around for a while and I never bothered to stop by – I feel like I missed out on so much, the good thing is now I can make up for lost time! ;) But seriously, I’ve already introduced D’Vida to family and friends and they’re also big fans now. It’s close by, the staff is friendly, and their smoothies are delicious – it’s definitely my favorite smoothie place in NYC right now!

They have two locations in the city right now, you can find out how to get their as well as access their menu by clicking here!

A Morning at Chelsea Market…

I’ve been going to Chelsea Market for ages, and by “ages” I mean since I was in high school. Home to Food Network production studios and a handful of other media companies, you’d be surprised I’ve never actually seen a Food Network personality in all the times I’ve been to Chelsea Market. I’ve seen them elsewhere around the city, but never in Chelsea Market. Anyways, I recently spent an early morning there with my sister and I was pleased to find Chelsea Market as open and familiar as always.

Our first stop was Eleni’s, which is my most recent obsession. I always thought that they were kind of overpriced, but now I’m pretty quick to plunk down $4 for my ideal “with tea” cookie – plus, they’re always wonderfully decorated!

Chelsea Market, Eleni's Cookies

Next stop was Amy’s. Oh how I love Amy’s – and probably always will. Amy’s can do no wrong in my book, and if they do I usually chalk it up to the rule of probability. I forgot what I ordered, but I’m sure it was delicious.

Amys-Bread-Chelsea-Market

An arch of lights! Very pretty and whimsical – well done Chelsea Market!

Chelsea Market, Lights, Arch of Lights

Next! Chelsea Market Baskets Emporium where we took a dozen blurry pictures of fancy hot cocoa, bought the worst tasting champagne truffle ever (at least it was cheap), and took pictures of random objects like proper tourists would. Good times, good times.

Chelsea Market, Baskets, NYC

We also swung by that Italian goods place where I couldn’t tell if everything was really rare and limited supply and therefore special or if they were just old products and we were being duped into thinking that we were in the mothership of imported Italian stuff. Either way, I’d love to go back. I can never resist the allure of anything Italian. Welllll, that’s not true but this isn’t a post about politics.

Pasta-Setaro-Chelsea-Market

I finally, finally, got around to stopping by Liddabit Sweet’s. Yup, that’s right, four years late and a dollar short – that’s me! They are as good and friendly as the zillion articles and posts about them suggest, my sister is dying to try every bar they can come up with and I’ll be happy to join her.

Liddabit-Chelsea-Market

We finally ended our morning when Fat Witch opened their just cleaned doors to the public at 9am. We know that their doors were just cleaned because we faceplanted on the other side while waiting for them to open the doors to brownie goodness. We were not disappointed and the lady behind the counter wasn’t either – we really were just as crazy about her brownies as we looked.

Fat Witch Brownies, Chelsea Market, NYC

P.S. Just kidding about all that faceplanting stuff, we usually act like George in the soup nazi’s shop when ordering. All respect, not a dwindling hair out of place. What? Whaddya mean NO BREAD?!

Munch Madness at Duane Reade!

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Game time is in full swing at my house. When I was a kid I used to avoid watching basketball tournaments or pretty much anything basketball related, but as I got older I realized – with two guys in my house – I couldn’t really avoid it, so I embraced it instead! Now I can totally keep up with the guys (most of the time) and even helped my brother put together his bracket. Alright, alright, I only watched him put together his bracket! But one thing I did do was head to my local Duane Reade and load up on my game time snacking picks!

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I may have gotten a little carried away, I just couldn’t help myself… ;)

#DRMunchMadness #CollectiveBias

In my defense, I ended up sharing this froyo topped with cheesecake, brownie bits, strawberries, raspberries, and chocolate sauce with someone.

I’m a sucker for anything from the deLISH line of snacks. I learned long ago, whether you’ve planned your game get-together for a long while off or are grabbing things on the go, the deLISH line is always dependably delish!

The deLISH Spinach & Artichoke dip is one of my all-time favorite snacking picks, I buy it for parties, I buy it for movie night, I’ll even make up excuses to buy it it’s so good! This dip is a winner in my book.

#DRMunchMadness #CollectiveBias

I finally got around to trying the deLISH Hot Dog Puffs. They are so good & tasty – my Duane Reade always has these and all the other treats I’ve mentioned in stock so I know I will definitely be getting more of these in the near future. I served these with mustard and ketchup and they were good enough to draw the guys attention away from the screen – even if only for a few minutes!

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I also picked up some of Duane Reade’s fresh Turkey Gouda Mini Bites and deLISH Spanakopita. A lot of Duane Reade’s in the city offer freshly made food, if you’re near one I definitely reccomend picking up these mini bites or another fresh item. You can plate them and nobody would even know that you bought them at Duane Reade (unless you have a reputation as a really bad cook and your friends won’t believe you made something so good)!

#DRMunchMadness #CollectiveBias

I love the ease and convenience of being able to drop into any Duane Reade in the city and know that I can pick up every single thing that I need for a fantastic game time get-together!

Cold days, and Greek Pastries…

I must be the only New Yorker that loves grey weather. I love when it rains (so long as it isn’t humid) and I love quiet snowy days. I dream of cool weather all year. I actually end up spending more time exploring the city and outdoors when it’s cold as opposed to when it’s warm. One of my favorite places to go, and one that I’ve stopped by frequently in this cold weather, is Poseidon – a Greek bakery at 629 Ninth Ave that’s been around since 1923.

Poseidon-Greek-BakeryTheir spanakopita is just what spanakopita should be – a crunchy phyllo shell with soft feta and spinach inside. Simple and reliably delicious.

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One sweet I can’t go to Poseidon and leave without is the galaktoboureko, a semolina custard pastry that’s both creamy and sweet and fairly drips of honey.

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We also had Trigona – an almond paste pastry surrounded by phyllo and honey. It wasn’t particularly memorable – but I’ve never been a big fan of this particular pastry.

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I’m a die-hard cookie lover. I will try most any cookie – but this time it was actually my mom who introduced me to Poseidon’s delicious Kourambieles cookies. Almond butter cookies coated in a generous amount of powdered sugar make this Greek treat perfect for coffee, tea, or when you need a sugary fix. And yes, they do melt in your mouth.

SEE/CHANGE Skate Date at the South Street Seaport!

I really truly love winter’s in the city, I have to admit however that until recently I had never ever been to South Street Seaport during the winter. As much as I love the Seaport during the warmer months, the idea of going when it was colder never occured to me. However, just the other day I took a few of my nearest and dearest and headed down there to checkout South Street Seaport’s SEE/CHANGE ice skating rink.

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Surprisingly, being at the Seaport was not as cold as I thought it would be. The skating rink was located out in the center of the shopping area, right beside the Christmas tree. You just had to show up, rent or bring skates, pay, and head out to the ice.

South Street Seaport

They also had a concession stand where you could buy drinks and snack. There were a few couples on ice, plenty of kids, and tons of father/daughter duo’s – they were so adorable!

SEE CHANGE Ice Skating

It was so much fun! We stayed over an hour, between ice skating, Christmas music, and hot cocoa it was what I would call a perfect afternoon. I love being able to do things like this in NYC – it’s such a special experience, and I cannot wait to head back to South Street Seaport!

For more information on South Street Seaport, SEE/CHANGE, and the ice rink, click here!

*Disclosure: I received complimentary service’s as a part of my SEE/CHANGE experience. However, all opinions are honest and always my own.

Tri-State Must Have: Adirondack Creamery!

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As a blogger, sometimes I get to review some of the most amazing products and recently I had a chance to review something I am seriously excited about – Adirondack Creamery ice cream! I was lucky enough to try their holiday flavors – Peppermint Stick, Pumpkin Pie, Egg Nog – and their newest (and coolest) addition, Caramel Apple.

Adirondack Creamery Seasonal Flavors

I don’t know about you, but I am a hardcore ice cream fan and I don’t just like any ice cream – I can get pretty picky about which frozen confection earns my stamp of approval. I hate having ice cream that tastes too heavy on the sugar – which really takes away from the simple beauty of what ice cream is. Well, Adirondack Creamery makes ice cream that is right up my alley – sweet (but not so sweet that you need a glass of water afterwards), creamy, and comforting – oh, and locally made!

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Adirondack Creamery

My favorite flavor from their seasonal selection was the Pumpkin Pie – I love pumpkin pie any time of year but especially during colder months and this satisfies both my pie and my ice cream cravings. Based off Adirondack Creamery owner Paul Nasrani’s mother’s pumpkin pie recipe – this one is creamy, full of smooth pumpkin flavor – with warm hints of holiday spices, and just plain amazing.

Peppermint Stick Natural Ice Cream

The Egg Nog and Peppermint Stick ice cream were massive hit’s at my house during the holidays – we bought some to stock up for after the season too. The Egg Nog is a delicious frozen rendition of the favorite holiday drink and the Peppermint Stick is minty and creamy without being too strong.

As a New Yorker, I’m really really excited about their limited addition Caramel Apple. Made with 100% local ingredients, their Caramel Apple ice cream was inspired by the apple orchards of the Hudson Valley (which I pick from every fall!). Using Empire Apples from local Wright’s Farm, milk from Hudson Valley Farms, and sea salt caramel from Cooper Street Kitchen in Stone Ridge, NY, Adirondack Creamery has put together a perfect homage to autumns in New York.

NYS Local Ice Cream

To learn more about Adirondack Creamery, check out their other flavors, and learn where you can buy them click here!

Have you had a chance to try Adirondack Creamery, what seasonal flavor appeals to you most? Let me know in the comments below!

Holiday Essentials with Duane Reade!

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I absolutely love the holiday season – especially because it gives me the chance to not only attend a fair few of holiday parties, but also because I get to host a few myself. My favorite place to go to pick up some holiday essentials is Duane Reade. While I shop there all year ’round, it’s always fun to stop in during the holiday season because not only do they have great everyday items, Duane Reade’s seasonal holiday items are amazing!

Duane Reade Holiday Tree, #DRHoliday, #shop, #CBias

I love the deLish line of foods, their frozen selection is perfect for throwing a holiday party. They don’t require any prep time, are fast, and dependably delcious! My favorites are the Spanakopita and their Spinach & Artichoke Cheese Dip – which I’ve only discovered after trying their ready to eat version which is equally delicious.

Duane Reade Holiday Shopping, #DRHoliday, #shop, #CBias

Speaking of ready-to-eat, Duane Reade also offers a wide range of fresh prepped food in many of their stores. I love looking over their offerings because they have a lot of great options if your throwing a party or just want to grab something to bring to a party.

 Duane Reade Fresh Food, #DRHoliday, #shop, #CBias

I love browsing their Christmas items – things like this NYC themed Santa hat are right up my alley! I really love that about Duane Reade though, that you can buy really cool NYC themed things from them. I love to rep my city, and even have little NYC ornaments that I put up on my tree so I was excited to see that they have things like this in stock.

Duane Reade Santa Hat, #DRHoliday, #shop, #CBias

I had a small party with family and a few friends, and I have already gotten a few people as in love with the deLish Spinach & Artichoke dip as I am – nobody believed that it came from Duane Reade! I have a couple more events that I’m hosting and I definitely plan on serving it again!

Duane Reade Holiday Party, #DRHoliday, #shop, #CBias

Gingerbread Adventures & The Holiday Train Show at NYBG!

I’ve written about it before, but what I love about being a Mastercard® holder is that I get access to amazing experiences that really make me feel like a VIP. For example, this past Saturday we took advantage of the MasterCard® Budding Masters Gingerbread Adventures at NYBG (New York Botanical Garden) offer on their site. The $50 pricetag included the workshop for one adult and one child (5 years+), an all-garden pass, and access to the Holiday Train Show.

Priceless NY NYBG

Jules was really excited to go – at the beginning of the workshop she got to put together her own gingerbread house. She only put the frame together because it needed a chance to harden before they decorated them. While the ginger homes were drying they gave all the kids a bag of spices that are traditionally included in gingerbread. Then the kids had to identify them using their five senses, and sort them out based on which part of a plant they come from (i.e. seeds, roots, leaves, etc.). Then she was able to ground up her own mix of spices using mortar and pestle. Jule’s mixture included cloves, buckwheat, cinnamon, and ginger – it smelled amazing!

Grinding Spices

After that it was time to decorate the gingerbread houses! Jules put a variety of sweet treats on her’s. I may be a little biased, but her gingerbread house was rockin’ it! This was her creation:

Glueing the Gingerbread HouseGingerbread Home

Next stop was a visit to the Holiday Train Show! The Holiday Train show took place in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory where model trains travel through a replica of NYC – including amazing replicas of NY landmarks that are all made out of plant parts! The line to the train show can look pretty ridiculous, but it actually moves along pretty speedily.

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I loved this Mastercard® Priceless NY experience – it’s such a wonderful thing to do for the holidays with those that you love! In case you were wondering, this isn’t a sponsored post – as nice as it would have been if Mastercard® footed the bill on this one, haha! – this was a special treat for Jules.

If you’re interested in experiences like ours, I definitely recommend that you browse through the Mastercard® Priceless NY site – they always have a ton of cool experiences!

Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square!

Last night my sisters, brother, and I attended the annual Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square. We’ve actually been going every year since I was in high school, so it really has become one of my favorite family holiday traditions. While we all love the festive fun activities like the tree lighting ceremony, and the crafts for kids that are offered in many businesses from the Time Warner Center to 66th street, the highlight of the evening for us is the food!

We always start from Time Warner Center and work our way up to 66th street, they do offer a trolley but we just walk up. This year it’s estimated that around 20k people turned out for Winter’s Eve – the sidewalks were packed, but New Yorkers kept it moving. Winter's Eve Columbus Circle So basically, NYC’s local restaurants and bakeries sell small bites at $1-5 each at three different locations – Time Warner Center Columbus Circle, Lincoln Square Restaurant Row on Broadway between 62nd & 64th, and Richard Tucker Park on Broadway between 65th & 66th street.

We lined up at Sapphire Indian Cuisine and Asiate at Time Warner – they always have ginormous lines, and they also sell two of our favorites every year. Asiate does a delicious Beignet that is simply magical – we all bought our own because when something tastes that good, you just don’t share.

Asiate at Winter's Eve

Saphire Indian Cuisine serves Tikka Masala every year – and it is a hit every time. Seriously, the line there can get insane but the portion size is decent and the tikka is warm, delicious, and not too spicy. Sapphire Indian Cuisine at Winter's Eve Arpeggio Food & Wine had an amazing Panettone Bread Pudding, Rosa Mexicano had Mexican Hot Chocolate – they also do this every year and we love love love it! We also bought the Pasta e Fagioli and Chocolate Mousse from Cafe Fiorello, and Banana Bread Pudding from Magnolia.

Atlantic Grill served up an insanely delicious Mini Carrot Cheesecake with Winter Fruit Compote. Atlantic Grill is one of my favorite restaurants, so I was really happy to see them there. The tarty citrus flavor of the compote really went well with the creaminess of the cheesecake and warm flavors of the carrot cake. Atlantic Grill at Winter's Eve Landmarc served up a tasty Orrichette alla Norcina, and Gourmet Garage had my favorite Tomato Cheddar Soup. Francesco’s Pizzeria had delicious Zitti and Penne Alla Vodka – one of the more generous portions of the evening. La Boite En Bois served insanely good Mushroom Ravioli with a Light Cognac Sauce. The ravioli was one of my favorite dishes – it had surprising depth of flavor, and the cognac sauce was plate-licking good.

I’ve never been to Andanada, but based on what I had last night they are next on my list. I had their Campiñones rellenos de jamon, and Pulpo A La Gallega. The Campiñones rellenos de jamon had great flavor and was pleasantly salty, but the Pulpo is what really sold me on Andanada. Pulpo A La Gallega is octopus seasoned with olive oil and pimienton de vera served under mashed potato puree – and their’s was so good! The octopus was tender, and the mashed potato puree was creamy and played well with the flavors of the dish. Andanada at Winter's EveWinter's Eve PuppetsBar MASA at Winter's Eve We ate quite a lot, but it was so great being surrounded by fellow NY’ers and being able to try so many great dishes. We loved listening the the live music, and taking part in one of our favorite holiday traditions!