340 Bedford Avenues
Brooklyn, NY 11211
M-T 11 am to 10 pm
W-TH 11 am to 11 pm
CUISINE: Gluten Free, Organic American (New)
CHEF DE CUISINE:
ALCOHOL: Beer and Wine Only
COAT CHECK: No
OUTDOOR SEATING: Yes
The Greenhouse at WILD in Brooklyn has become a trendy spot for its organic and gluten free cuisine; and are best known for their unique pizzas and home made pastas. It is one of two locations in New York, the original being in the west village, where Paul McCartney has dined. They also have a third location Las Vegas. But we love that the Brooklyn location is a simple ride on the "L" train and has a beautiful greenhouse to feast in. Girls On Grub started with a couple salads, including the Kale Caesar and Bruschetta.
The fresh mozzarella started to tease our taste buds, but the WILD White pizza worked them into a frenzy with truffle oil and overflowing cheese. We definitely did not miss the gluten, and we made sure not to miss a second slice. The bubbly golden edges were divine. We can see why Paul McCartney loves this so much.
WILD had several tempting home made pastas to choose from, but we loved the spaghetti with lemon sauce and fresh herbs. The light fair, made it easier to save room for dessert.
The tiramisu was soaked perfectly with great flavor and the texture was intoxicating. It was by far, the best dessert on the menu. But do not over look the other flavor rich desserts, there are many vegan friendly and gluten free options... making it difficult to decide how to end a beautiful meal. We ended it with these two...
Vinus + Marc: A "Rare Bird" On The UES Sings of Latin-French Inspired Cuisine and Prohibition Drinks
Girls On Grub embraced Vinus + Marc on the Upper East Side, and their Latin-French cuisine was cooked to please. But before Girls On Grub could dive into the Scallops; we had to find out if the cocktail menu lived up to the name Vinus + Marc. Owner and oenophile Frank Locker has curated a one of a kind boutique style wine list, with reds like Campos de Dulcinea, Tempranillo 2010 of Spain and the French Patriarche, Auxey-Duresses, 2010… not one drop will “remain” in the glass.
But if you want a true Prohibition Era experience; make sure to sip from the handcrafted libations of in house Mixologist Aziza Omar. Inspired by her grandmother, Aziza has delivered a few favorites to Girls On Grub. The notes I still dream of on my tongue would have to be: the Black Mission Fig in the Dewdropper, the sage infused gin in the Madcap and the Black Pepper enlightened Chesapeake Bay bitters of the Rara Avis. Vinus + Marc makes all their syrups in house, and it absolutely was evident in the ginger syrup found in the Rara Avis, making our favorite drink a “rare bird” indeed… and the cocktails to be New York City's most coveted on the Upper East Side.
The Rara Avis paired nicely with the Diver Scallops served with perfectly cooked Parmesan Risotto; and the Dewdropper with muddled blackberries enhanced the flavors of the Braised Short Ribs. The candlelight, red velvet chairs and rich red 1920’s inspired wallpaper set a romantic tone, as my “Italian” and I enjoyed every bite prepared by Chef Luis Dominguez. After having the mashed potatoes gently spiked with jalapeño, served with the organic Pan Roasted Chicken a couple weeks prior…I knew to order them with my Braised Short Ribs. And as much as I loved the Short Ribs, I missed Vinus + Marc’s chicken. The crispy well-seasoned skin is almost like candy, and will have you wanting more. It is one of my most lustful foodie moments. Both meats will create a culinary fire, bringing you back to this cozy, romantic spot weekly, I’m sure. With the way the thyme sticks out of the risotto, would you really beg to differ. No, you will beg for more risotto.
Without disappointment, Chef Luis prepared a recipe handed from Locker’s own family; a tempting berry drenched Vanilla-ginger Cheesecake. This dessert is the perfect way to finish the evening. Unlike most New York Cheesecakes, it was light and creamy; almost like a thick mousse. The crust like you remember nana making, hugged the cheesecake to form. And surprisingly, the berries were fresh in a light sauce… signifying it was made in house and with lots of love.
National Vodka Day started out cloudy, rainy and then to a full down pour... as mixologist Jim McCafferty introduced Girls On Grub to Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant's new cocktail menu. McCafferty poured us three drinks: the Orange Cosmo, Pumpkin Martini and Maple Apple Martini. Is there any other way to celebrate National Vodka Day? Yes, with more vodka! Pour it on Carpe Diem. At Girls On Grub we love a stiff one... and today we willingly had more than our share of Vodka.
Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant is known to locals as a desired getaway from the mainstream scene in Hoboken. Even the local celebs have sought refuge at this fine establishment. But with an increase in residential development and nearby restaurants... Carpe Diem has steadily become a new favorite hot spot to all Hobokenites and those that wish to "seize the day". Owner Joe Jones prides himself on being a local spot, and with the new menu... can absolutely take pride in these new cocktails. From the orange and cinnamon garnish, to the fresh poured Maple Syrup straight from the jug... Girls On Grub was more than eager to leave lipstick behind on these rims. The bubbles of the Maple, the creamy froth of the Pumpkin and the zest of the orange gave us multiple reasons to keep on sipping. And what really got our taste buds watering... was how Jim laid the cinnamon stick on top of the creamy cocktail for everyone to see. I felt like my taste buds had an audience... but go ahead and just watch us swallow every drop... we don't mind.
GIRLS ON GRUB DRINK LIST
MAPLE APPLE MARTINI
Ingredients: Van Gogh premium Wild Apple Vodka, spiced rum, cranberry juice and a hint of maple syrup.
Notes: Maple is the star with a hint of apple. The spiced rum is a stronger player than the vodka.
Pairing: We did enjoy this with the Apple Strudel special... but you can try it with the Braised Short Ribs. Maple is sweet like that!
Ingredients: Grey Goose L'Orange, triple sec, OJ, and squeeze of a lime.
Notes: Strong citrus notes that pair well with any dish or dessert. Balanced and refreshing.
Pairing: Steak Bruschetta
Ingredients: Vanilla Vodka, Irish Cream liquor, and spiced pumpkin syrup.
Notes: Vanilla, Irish Cream were the strong notes, while the pumpkin was hidden beneath the layers. Still a great drink and balanced thanks to the experienced mixologist. When asked for more pumpkin, they delivered with a smile.
Pairing: We suggest The Classic Burger with Sweet Potato Fries.
Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant is a great place to celebrate National Vodka Day... but it is also the perfect spot to kick off National Apple Month. Well, of course the Maple Apple Martini is one way. But on the side menu.... is the Apple Strudel! Served warm, flaky on the outside...soft in the center with fresh strawberries and ice cream.
UPDATE: Now closed. But stay tuned, as Girls On Grub brings Chef Cho Win back in our Supper Club (launching soon).
It's a "Win" win with Inle Lake , the latest restaurant to turn up the heat in Bergen County since the Housewives of New Jersey. Chef Cho Win is serving indigenous Burmese Cuisine straight from her family recipe book to your table. The restaurant sits discreetly at 633 Anderson Avenue in Cliffside Park, and truly is a hidden gem. Chef Cho Win is self taught and passionate about cooking.... her love is felt in every dish: with each ingredient hugging your tongue. The food is so good... that Girls On Grub could not stop eating. Our taste buds were in pure submission for five hours of culinary pleasure!
Inle Lake in Myannar (Burma) is a fresh water lake in the Shan Hills. The cuisine is influenced by Chinese, Indian and Thai Cuisine. But the strongest flavors at Inle Lake Restaurant are the Burmese... and the Inle Kin Paung Kyaw was no exception. These little chicken fritters were filled with so much Burmese flavor! Fragrant green onions easily permeated the light rice flour batter and became the addiction of the evening. The Burmese fritters are served with Marie Rose Sauce, but with Chef Cho Win's spicy touch. However, we were more than content to devour them naked.
After the first course, it was quite obvious Girls On Grub was in for a marathon session of Burmese love. And we welcomed it! But we needed to sip on coffee with condensed milk. The thick creamy texture swirled nicely into the strong coffee... and we found the energy to embrace the dishes to come.
Inle Lake worked our taste buds with another lightly breaded appetizer, Inya Lake Buthi Kyaw. It is simply long pieces of Squash coated in rice flour breading served with tamarind based sauce. What's not to love about Long squash? Nothing...we loved every inch of it! We do recommend going heavy on the sauce for this one: the garlic, green chili and cilantro compliment the squash well.
Keeping pace, we next tried some of Inle Lake's Crispy Shan Tofu made from chickpeas. Don't let the name tofu fool you... this tofu is completely different than all others. It's light, pillowy and from the moment it enters your mouth.... begs you to close your eyes and drift away to Burma. We simply loved every tangy gluten free bite of it!
Looking for the next temptress bite, we couldn't decide between two curries: the Shan Chicken Curry and the Pork Artisan Curry. Girls On Grub was really enticed by the Chicken's fragrant lemongrass, but really wanted to wrap our tongues around the Pork's mangoes. So we had both. It was a curry party in our mouth. If you want to get real frisky with these spicy curries...just order the Egg Curry for a full Burmese menage et trois!
The table just got hot and hotter, as Inle Lake's Chef Cho Win introduced the indigenous Inle Golden Rice with dry Chili Peppers. The rice is mashed with boiled potatoes and fish. Southeast Asian food is known to utilize fish and fish products in Burmese Cuisine. But the fish is a slight note... with the emphasis on the potato and rice. The dish is served with crispy shallots and dried chili pepper: We tried both....but enjoyed the chili pepper best with the rice. Cucumbers are a fresh drink for your taste buds to cool off. But we left them on the plate. We like it hot!
Chef Cho Win finally served the main course: a Tilapia Filet served with Chef's Special Coconut Cream Sauce. It was pleasant, creamy and flattered the fish. The fish fell apart nicely and was cooked to perfection. With a fork full, the creamy sauce enveloped each bite with fresh peppers, mushrooms and snow peas. Chef Cho Win really knows how to pack a lot of flavor without drowning the dish. I have had fish at other Asian Fusion restaurants, where they drench the plate and create a soggy mess. But Chef Win adds just the right amount and knows how to keep the fish crispy on the outside and delicate on the inside. Chef also recommends pairing this dish with the Golden Rice... and we couldn't agree more!
Now something that caught my eye at Inle Lake Restaurant, was the dessert menu. Not many restaurants today offer home made desserts. They mostly have it brought in from an outside source. But just like all the dishes served at Inle Lake... the desserts are made from scratch as well. We love Chef Cho Win for this, and we loved the Water Festival Snack (Mote Lone Yay Paw). In each hand rolled glutinous rice ball is a piece of sugar cane candy. Topped with fresh Coconut and served with a pile of basil infused sugar and black sesame on a Banana Leaf... Inle Lake hit Girls On Grub sweet spot!
But we could not leave without a round two...so without hesitation, we ordered the Burmese Falooda for the ultimate Burmese addiction. It is a milky drink made with tapioca, agar, banana accent, vanilla icecream, coconut and fresh Rose Syrup.
Inle Lake is one of our new favorite places to dine. The outside entrance may look deceiving...but we dare you to open the door and taste the Burmese influence inside at Cliffside Park. What comes out of Chef Cho Win's kitchen will certainly turn into more than a food fling.... it most likely will become a new culinary love affair!
Inle Lake- CLOSED
WHEN THE DRINKS GO "DOWNTOWN"- W Downtown's ROOFTOP IS THE PLACE TO GET CAUGHT BETWEEN "SUMMER RAIN" AND NYC!
For many of us work mode takes on full effect with the start of Mondays and so does the rush to get home. But, W Hotel New York-Downtown's The Living Room Bar and Terrace shows us the best part about Tuesday’s, with SUNSET SWITCH OFF ... and three cocktail driven reasons why you'll want to stick around after hours by the the river in the city!
"Our living room is your living room" at the W Hotels worldwide and Girls On Grub couldn't feel any more at home! Five stories up, in the center of the Financial District, we sat down with W Hotel's Food Manager, Edwin Porras, to sip on a bubbly fruit concoction that will have your taste buds zinging in the rain and a bittersweet mix that will have you toasting to your work life!
Created by one of the best Mixologist in the world, Eben Klemm's SUMMER RAIN is the summer time favorite for hustling and bustling professionals who want to loosen up after long hours spent at the office. The fruity floral flavors of the Gruet Brut Sparkling Rose and Lillet Rose were enough to sweep me off to paradise amidst thrilling views of the city. Garnished with delicious strawberries on top, I finally experienced the sweet taste of victory, and after a five AM start to my day, this drink was the just bubbly boost I needed.
Next on the menu was W New York-Downtown's most interesting drink, called FIDI! (short for Financial District). And boy did I have fun letting this one roll off the tongue. With the crisp taste of celery bitters and natural sugars from maple syrup...an orange peel added the magic touch to this tequila aperitif. FIDI is the perfect cocktail to take you from day to night without lifting a finger. No need to bar hop because W hotel’s, Living Room Bar & Terrace is all about "whatever...whenever." Using the finest quality ingredients, W New York- Downtown prides itself on getting the customer whatever he wants whenever he wants it! Tequila of choice for this signature drink: DON JULIO Reposado! One of my favorite tequila brands! A warm silky finish, with aromas of lemon citrus and elegant tastes of dark chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon...Reposado is the spirit of smooth barrel-aged tequila!
For dessert, and yes I said dessert! I was completely smitten by W New York-Downtown's unique, homemade, cognac-infused ice cream! This creamy confection is a smooth blend of Mikey Likes It, handcrafted vanilla ice cream and D’Usse VSOP Cognac. If you're a sweet tooth type of foodie like me...then you know this was the absolute icing on top for Girls On Grub ...a surprise invite to try out this one-of-a-kind ice cream delight! But we won’t take too much credit for overly enjoying this frozen treat! Big thanks to ambassador, Hip Hip Mogul, Jay-Z…the legendary rhymer and W Hotels have teamed up to present to you the ultimate sweet course: D’USSE DE LECHE!!
By the end of the evening I was a happy camper, stuffed, and filled with love…ready to kick back and relish in the unplugged performance of CITY OF THE SUN!
Culinary Centerfold met up with Restaurateur/Actor Johnny Solo at Grand Cafe, to find out what all the excitement is about in the Astoria food scene. And as co-owner of three restaurants in the heart of Astoria, Johnny should know. What we learned, is that there is so much flavor and heritage in Astoria New York. Walking down the 30th Avenue, Culinary Centerfold passed so many indigenous food markets and purveyors....our taste buds were turned on by the endless food porn even before we reached Grand Cafe.
Once we arrived, we sat down overlooking the main strip. Here the scene was set for a relaxing meal: with beautiful model servers, hipsters walking by, and a breeze filled with the scent of restaurants... we knew this would be a night to relive. But that is why the roving "Food Connosieurs" have embraced Astoria. A short subway ride to the Astoria Blvd stop... and a Peach Cosmo at Grand Cafe will be waiting for you.
Grand Cafe's Peach Cosmo is so well balanced, that you might be tempted to drink enough to make you lose your balance. But no need to worry, there is plenty of good Greek eats to absorb all that alcohol. With the hospitality of Johnny Solo, Girls On Grub was served the Watermelon Salad. It was so refreshing with watermelon and halloumi (authentic Greek cheese usually made with Goat's milk) served on top of arugula...drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette that brought Greece alive on my plate.
A couple more Peach Cosmos and I was tempted to stay all night and enjoy the live DJ. But after a few more authentic Greek dishes and a full stomach... I was subway bound back to the Upper East Side. It took about 15 minutes and I was back in the concrete jungle, absent the beautiful sky of Astoria. We highly recommend the short subway ride to this latest culinary scene. Grand Cafe definitely gave Girls On Grub something to chew on... and that was great food, drink and a nightlife exclusive to the hippest minds and those willing to take the subway to Astoria. Thanks Grand Cafe and Johnny Solo... we will be back.
Chalk Point Kitchen is the latest place to make it a point to be in the heart of SoHo, for market to table food and market to tablet networking. As Chalk Point staff served up a private invite only buffet style brunch last week: social personalities got to know each other and what makes New Yorkers love the latest from Restaurateur Matt Levine and Executive Chef Joe Isidori.
Girls On Grub got to rub elbows with fashion industry leaders, music and talent scouts and even Lori Cheek of Cheek’d… as we dined on Roasted Heirloom Carrots drizzled with Black Truffle Vinaigrette, Banana Croissant French Toast, Freddy’s Avocado Hash with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cilantro, Griddled Eggs and more!
DJ Duo AndrewAndrew made an appearance in matching shirts, glasses and shoulder tied blue sweaters. And as they kept the soulful oldies flowing… Handy Liquor Bar put a spin on your morning cup of Joe with Stolen Rum in a drink called The Perky Pirate.
Chalk Point Kitchen became a late morning hot spot for Blogger Babes and Bo’s as they tagged photos of their marvelous market plated dishes with #HashbrownsAndHashtags. Girls On Grub definitely enjoyed the Freddy’s Avocado Hash and connecting at Chalk Point Kitchen. I even went back for a second plate…both times grabbing the Avocado Hash. It was absolutely the star of Chalk Point Kitchen with the Banana Croissant French Toast next in line….LITERALLY! We all stood in the buffet line waiting to get more, and it was well worth it. On our way out we were gifted a fabulous swag bag!
For more on Chalk Point Kitchen, make sure to visit them soon and tweet me @BostonScarlette your favorite brunch bite with the hashtag #GirlOnGrub and #HashtagsAndHashbrowns!
Girls On Grub at down with Chef Carlos Barroz of La Pulperia in NYC and Quahog's Seafood Shack in Stone Harbor: and as we talked about the addition of a new Pulperia on the Upper East Side (86th and Second Ave)... we were served in a private tasting, some sweet and savory cocktails!
Culinary Centerfold Gambles on Gluten Free Cuisine In Atlantic City, and Hits the Jackpot at Cuba Libre!
This Cuban restaurant and rum bar makes its diners feel like they are spending a night out in Havana complete with the décor, music, drinks and food.
For the most part, authentic Cuban cuisine is gluten free, and Cuba Libre’s menu was no exception. The waiter went through the entire menu with me and let me know if something was not gluten free or if an item could be substituted for something else.
I started with the Primo Mojito, their version of a classic mojito. This was definitely one of the best rums I have enjoyed – not too sweet and the perfect hint of rum.
Napa Valley is known for its gorgeous backdrops of never ending vineyards, culinary creations and incredible selection of wines: and now gluten free cuisine at Carpe Diem Wine Bar. As more and more people travel to Napa, restaurants are starting to cater to the needs of their customers, especially those who are gluten free.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar is located in downtown Napa. Their menu is extensive and the wine list has so many great options, it’s almost hard to choose just one. I started my dining experience with a flight of reds: that included a Russian River Pinot, Cabernet Franc Blend, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
I informed my waitress, that I am gluten free: and she provided me with the separate menu of gluten free options. For an appetizer, I started with Carpe Diem Wine Bar's house made burrata with heirloom tomatoes, a caramelized onion jam, basil crystals and sea salt. The chef replaced the grilled bread with homemade taro chips. The burrata was so fresh and light and the onion jam really gave it just a little bit extra without overpowering the cheese.
I then tried Carpe Diem Wine Bar's shaved broccoli salad with cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, basil, toasted hazelnuts, fresh asiago cheese and a blood-orange lemon viniagarette to complete this dish. This was truly a refreshing summer salad.
Like a message in a bottle drifts until it is found: Culinary Centerfold tasted the menu at Barbalu after it weathered Storm Sandy. And the message was clear: Old Seaport New York was back and stronger than ever: and Barbalu was at the forefront of that message in Italian cuisine. Barbalu had been operating out of a small section of their destroyed space, just to keep doors open: but restaurant owners Stefano Barbagallo and Adriana Luque gave me a guided tour of what is now the full restaurant with a dining room with a wall to wall vaulted skylight. They changed the name from Barbarini Alimentari to Barbalu: a blended name to represent their love for each other and the restaurant. They are truly a lovely couple and love is felt in every dish at Barbalu.
Culinary Centerfold was thrilled to be part of the reopening of Barbalu and looked forward to some Italian bliss on a plate. Our first tasting was the Mozarella Di Bufala and Eggplant Caponatina. The golden raisins , pignoli nuts and roasted eggplant were divine under the oversized mozarella. This definitely needed two to finish it. I love how Barbalu gave us something different than the traditional tomatoes and basil appetizer. The mozarella was so moist, soft and flavorful: I had to ask if they make it form scratch. Adrianna said that it is outsourced, but that it is made fresh daily from that source. I have to say it is thus far, the best fresh mozarella dish I have ever had.
Hoboken Farmers Market is in full swing with fresh produce and great foodie finds. Pickle Licious is putting the licious in the local market, and Culinary Centerfold was "pickled" pink with its Chili Infused Pickle Slices. Pickle Licious also had an assortment of hummus and Olive Tapenade, that was divine. Robyn Samra, known as the "Pickle Lady": runs Pickle Licious with her husband Ray Clavo and two daughters Alex and Taylor.
With so much heat packed in one bite, Can a Papa Rellena be too big? Boston Scarlette says no! On this plate...BIGGER IS BETTER!
La Isla's has mastered the Papa Rellena. I could not get enough of this ball of fluffy mashed potatoes with spicy meat in the center. It was like opening a box within a box, the flavor just kept coming undone in my mouth. The dipping sauce had a kick to it: that was inviting and dangerous, to the preservation of my taste buds. But I didn't care, I was going to finish this bad boy. I took breaks, with the Arroz con Gandules (yellow rice with Pigeon Peas) and a can of Classic Coke. It was delectable, but I kept going back to the Big Papa.
I was not the only one obsessed with their plate choices. The guy next to me was making food porn with his cell phone. I quickly interjected and asked if he was a foodie. And YES, he was: and allowed me to get in on the action. So we both shared our plates, instagrams and snapped away. He also shared his Yuca with me: just a small bite. It was golden yum with a shot of minced garlic on top. Wish I had ordered some, but I was plenty full. I watched as he devoured his El Cubano: a sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and a thin pickle on Cuban bread lathered in garlic mojo. I felt like I just had a "When Harry Met Sally" moment, but there was no faking here. Our foodie senses had climaxed with so much robust flavors.
To cleanse our palates and take in the moment, we both ordered the Cuban Espresso with a shot of miracle. The thick froth was a delight on my lips, as I sipped away. Ahhhh, I felt like I could close my eyes and wake up in Havana, Cuba.
Instead, I was sitting elbow to elbow with a foodie and many locals in the "Mile Square". But when I need to escape the busy city life, I can go to La Isla's for authentic Cuban Food, great people and enjoy a Great Big Ball of Fire... Papa Rellena.
Note: La Isla's is so hot, not even heat guru Bobby Flay could beat Owner Omar Giner in a "throwdown" on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The infamous Omar's Stuffed French Toast prevailed: filled with Strawberry and Guava Cream Cheese, coated with almonds and corn flakes.
La Isla Restaurant
104 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Tel 201 659-8197
Fax 201 659-8320
Sorry, reservations not taken
We are a BYOB with no cork fees
Credit Cards Welcome
Anthony Pino is a household name in Hoboken, and is known for his impeccable Northern Italian cuisine featured at Anthony David's. But, according to him, you have to keep evolving and set the counter for the latest trends. Literally, Anthony has done that with the newly renovated space and marble counter top at Anthony David's.
Besides his honed culinary talents, this is part of what keeps him current and on the tips of people's tongues in Hoboken: whether they are talking about his latest culinary venture or dish.
Recently, I had a chance to take in the updated scene at a special reopening party and taste the new Antipasto menu. It was simply inviting and divine. A couple friends joined me, sharing: white wine, artisanal cheeses, brussel sprouts, and grilled artichoke with the right mysteriously divine seasoning.
Mysterious, because it took great finesse to create the deep profile of flavors ...allowing them to become a symphony in one great bite.
Impressed with how sophisticated this afternoon delight was, I had to go back again. There was one plate that evaded me at the party: the roasted duck. Today, it was all about the duck. Although, there was no goose in sight...this sweet, moist and well cured duck: dripping with glazed juices... was definitely playing games on my tongue. I felt goosed, with each bite I took, and gladly so. I found a new meat to love...and will be bringing back some friends to share my new afternoon delight.
Oh Duck, sweet Duck....for an afternoon delight, Anthony David's is definitely it!
DIAMOND NUTS GUY VS. THE KRAFT ITALIAN
Many woman find themselves underwhelmed by the courtship of men in today's dating world. Knowing that women do most the food shopping and the latter, could that explain the influx of promotional male models associated with food products? The grocery industry has definitely heated up our shopping experience.
Two leading companies have really pushed the envelope with this strategy: Diamond Nuts and Kraft Italian Dressing. Their respective marketing campaigns, has injected automatic innuendo felt just by typing the product names. They say guys think about sex every 5 minutes: now women will be thinking about food and sex every 5 minutes, because we can multi-task.
That being said, what woman doesn't like two men competing for her attention? Cast your vote for who is best to spoon and who is best to fork. We will see which guy, I mean product, is grocery cart worthy.
It was one of those evenings, when wearing sheer black vintage seamed nylons and a new Victoria's Secret Bra seemed like a great idea. I was about to meet a new "Italian" and some friends on the Upper East Side at the Writing Room: and I was not sure how good the menu would be, but I wanted to make sure my date found something appetizing.
Walking up to the Writing Room, stood the tall Italian I had been chatting with all week. He was friendly, sweet and hugged me right away. This was going to be a great night and a double date: the Writing Room was packed and he suggested we wait for them at Cafe d'Alsace... a nice French bar across the street. As we sat at the bar and drank wine, our nerves seemed to disappear. He was sweet, he was handsome and he was looking only at me. And our bartender was gorgeous, so I appreciated his genuine interest in me and sincerity for our time. He was first class in every sense of the word, and it made me want him more. He made me comfortable, he raised the temperature in the room, and he made me want to kiss him. But right now my sexy thoughts kept being interrupted: all I could think about was when are we going to eat. I did not eat all day, so I could fit into this tight pencil skirt. Maybe not my best idea, but I also thought maybe it won't be on too long. Anyway you look at it, drinking wine on an empty stomach was not a good idea. And I needed to make sure I had enough energy later that evening, you never know where it will end.
Finally our friends appeared, and we quickly moved onto Bill's Food and Drink. Here we went to listen to a couple they all know perform music and sing. We arrived too late for the show, but they all got to hang out for a little while. I took a moment and quickly went to the ladies room: where I noticed, they have a floor to ceiling mirror on the wall. It was huge! I was already anticipating a romantic evening, I really didn't need the encouragement from the enticing mirror. When I got back to the bar, I couldn't resist and told my date about it. I thought that and a gentle touch would spark romantic thoughts, ensuring a kiss soon? After we finished our drink, we all decided to finally get something to eat. Finally!
Since, it was one in the morning and Bill's was closed: Empanada Mama in Hell's Kitchen it was. My date was open to going somewhere else, but I knew Empanada Mama's was definitely open and I was definitely hungry. So there was only one option in my mind: Empanada Mama's.
We all hailed a cab and made it to Hell's Kitchen. We walked into Empanada Mama's and sat down. It was packed. The menu was extensive and had something that caught my eye right away. I shouted,
"Look, they have Viagra Empanadas. Did you see they have Viagra Empanadas? I can't believe they have Viagra Empanadas. Why do they have Viagra Empanadas?" Okay, so I was excited about the Viagra Empanada, and even the table next to me noticed. I was also sexually deprived from my last relationship. I needed food and I needed sex. I was doing everything in my power to make sure both happened.
But lets start with the food. The menu presented at least forty types of empanadas: all stuffed with wheat or corn based flour pockets, delivered in a basket. Each sat in a little white paper bag, like a special gift from the chef. I chose the Brasil wheat flour empanada: stuffed with ground beef, olives, sauteed onions and potatoes. Each bite was robust, authentic, and satisfying. The Cuban looked delish too: it is stuffed with pork, ham, mozarella cheese and a touch of Sofrito. I LOVE Sofrito Sauce. I cook with it all the time: it is better known as the red sauce, (not the green, as in verde). It wakes up any dish and I am assuming this empanada, and maybe yourself at two in the morning.
Somehow, the Viagra Empanada eluded our table. But with one glance at my date, I knew there was no need for Viagra. On the side, we all ordered plantain chips served with guacamole. The chips were amazing and the guacamole was freshly made. We also had Plantain and Yucca Fries. They went best with the chimichurri sauce. I prefer my yucca boiled. The Plantains were the better "fry", and fried to perfection. I could have eaten the whole basket by myself. But I was confined to my pencil skirt and could only consume so much. But I could still find space for an alcoholic beverage.
I selected White Sangria, which tasted like Del Monte Mixed Fruit syrup had been drizzled into it, but in a good way. The Sangria was light, potent and great. I sucked it down quick, as it was more fruit than anything else. Then everyone explained, the idea is too eat the fruit macerated in tequila, that's how you get intoxicated. So I nibbled on them, and was more intoxicated with thoughts of removing my dates clothes.
As our men talked man talk, my new gal pal and I started to shake our ta ta's to lady Gaga's "Do What You Want to My Body": trying to gain back their attention. Again, I was sending morse code: Shake, shake, shake..... SHAKE. SHAKE.SHAKE, (I want you..... look at me). Shake. Shake. Shake.... SHAKE SHAKE (You can take.... me home). But my gal pal and I just laughed, as our message was lost in translation.
While we waited for them to notice us, we glanced at the dessert menu. We decided to order the Elvis and Fig Cheese with Caramel. Finally when the waiter came over, we had their attention. Now her date wanted the Cheese and Caramel Empanada my date chose nothing. I am a fiend, when it comes to dessert. I would rather have dessert and wine, if that was all I could have. The wait was worth it. My gal pal and I shared. I was excited for the Fig, Cheese and Caramel: but I actually loved the Elvis best. It was filled with the cliche Peanut Butter and Bananas. But it was dam banana good. You can order a scoop of ice cream, choclate syrup or caramel with the dessert empanadas. But I was not about to go that far on my first date with the new Italian (wink).
While we were finishing our desserts, my date disappeared for a little bit outside. It didn't make sense til we said good night to our friends: they went home. We stood waiting for a cab, and I waited for his next move. I stood close as he signaled a cab, wondering if this was it. Would he ask me back, kiss me or just say goodbye. We leaned into each other, the nerves were back...but that was okay. I kind of liked it as he finally kissed me. And kissed me again, caressing my lower back. Then the cabbie shouts,
"Are you coming!" And I stood there wanting to go home with him, and not wanting to mess it up. I liked kissing him. I wanted it to last. Then he handed me some money for the cab ride home: that was why he disappeared earlier. He wanted me to get back quickly and safe, and asked me to text him when I got back. So I did. I had my bag ready for an overnight stay, but I had a feeling there would be more than one overnight stay in the future. And we would definitely be returning to Empanada Mama, as the food was delish and we had a great time.
I realized I needed more than sex, I needed a real man. I think I found a great spot to eat late in the evening and I found a great new Italian. I highly recommend Empanada Mama, but you can't have my new man ladies. He is all mine.
It was late afternoon, and I stopped into have a little macaroni menage at Pizza Republic. If you can't have the real thing, this is one way to check that naughty deed off your list. There were so many flavors to choose from: Classic, Republic, Cheeseburger, Pesto, Buffalo Chicken, and the list goes on.
As we know, I have had a love affair with macaroni and cheese from an early start, as described in another part of my blog here, (http://www.bostonscarlette.com/the-chase.html ). Pizza Republic makes it easy to graduate from the "Little Blue Box" and devour a more sophisticated macaroni and cheese, in two minutes or less. But, these are so indulgent...you will want to devour them slowly. To fulfill my macaroni menage, I selected: the Mexican, Black Truffle and Mac Daddy to spice up my afternoon.
The Mexican was made with monterey jack, seasoned with chili powder, topped with a mound of crushed tortilla chips and a dallop of sour cream. And to take it a notch further, jalepenos were hidden like spicy viagras: making the dish hotter with every bite. Next I tried the Black Truffle. And although, truffles are considered an aphrodisiac: my culinary senses were already heightened with the secret creamy blend of cheese in each serving. Owner Gregg Kronhaus shared, that they make almost all of the ingredients from scratch: including their crispy onion rings. But he would not reveal the secret blend of cheeses.
The Black Truffle Mac n' Cheese has parmigiano reggiano, black truffle oil and portobello mushrooms. You can also order White Truffle: but I wanted the most potent, and black truffles are considered the rarest and highest protein content. No matter what way you shave it, truffles in general will evoke lustful and luxurious thoughts in the kitchen and provide health benefits for the boudoir. Now that my taste buds were fully aroused...I had to have the Mac Daddy.
The Mac Daddy is the colossal form of my dream mac n cheese. It is cheddar based and so meaty: with plenty helpings of sausage and meatballs. What more could a girl want? A ring of course (wink)...crispy golden big onion rings loaded on top! The texture of this spoonful of mac n cheese is so on point. Unlike most onion rings, these retain their crispiness and crunch: which marries well with the creamy cheese and macaroni. And the flavors of the meatballs and sausage caress your taste buds just enough to make you want more. Pizza Republic is definitely Boston Scarlette's Mac Daddy, and should be for Hoboken.
Now that I can check "Macaroni Menage" off my food bucket list: I will have to return to try Pizza Republic's other menu temptations. They have a wide variety of pizzas and tossed salads. I highly recommend Pizza Republic for an afternoon delight...but I am sure they can heat up anyone's dining table or evening with the multitude of choices they deliver.
(Note: Gregg Kronhaus said he is always updating the macaroni and cheese profiles...so make sure to try these delectable ones while they still are on the menu. Gregg is definitely the Mac Daddy of Hoboken and it looks like he will continue to tempt our tongues with an endless parade of macaroni and cheese. Thank you Gregg!)
Walking towards Lexington, I felt lost without my Italian. It had been weeks since we kissed. It had been weeks since I heard his voice. The city was filled with so many people and the most significant of all was nowhere to be found, except in my heart. There were so many noises filling the city air, but all I wanted to hear was him saying “Boston’s here, Boston’s here, Boston’s here”: like he did every time I spent the night at his house outside the city.
As those words echoed in my head, I stepped down into the NYC subway. People pushing past me and others flying up the steps around me. It was a strange place to be and I was feeling strange. Standing amongst a crowd, I waited for the train to 86th Street and for my heart to stop aching. Eager to be comforted by drinks with friends, I asked the sheepish white haired gentlemen standing close to me if the next train was local. Looking at his watch, he appeared annoyed: but nodded yes. I followed the white haired man onto the 6 train, and hung onto the pole. Everything became dark as we moved through the tunnel. Felt like I was running away from my Italian, but really all I wanted was to be close to him. Smell his cologne. Feel his hand hold mine. He was the one that ran away.
Two stops later I left the train and made my way towards 88th Street, going to meet my trusted friend for some clear headed advice on broken hearts. As I walked down Second Avenue into Rathbones, he was already inebriated, wearing a big cowboy hat. For a moment I chuckled inside, and envied the care free attitude in the room. Next to him was a beautiful lady sharing drinks. I quickly realized there would be no answers or logic found in this evening. But at least someone would find love, if at least for that evening. As I sat down at the bar, the Cowboy introduced new friends. It seemed like a spiked tea party: with people dumping their sorrows in glasses of alcohol and laughing. One of the Cowboy’s friends quickly bought me a drink. I will call him “Revolver”, because the drinks just kept coming. I began to look for my Italian at the bottom of every glass. But no matter what drink he ordered, or what glass it came in: the Italian still remained missing. I was feeling really small and lost without him. And I wondered if my toothbrush still sat on his bathroom counter, or if he had completely thrown me away.
As I continued to chase the Italian with vodka and cranberry, Revolver kept asking me questions. He wanted to know my name: and I rebelliously replied,
“Boston, just Boston. Last names are highly over rated. Besides all last names stand for ownership, and no one owns Boston”. He sat their amused, not sure why. But my guess would be, that I just assured him I did not want commitment. He introduced himself without a last name too. He said he was a “Private Guy”: as if that signified he was of importance. Even with all the drinks, that translated into I most likely am cheating on someone. Although I could not be sure, I found it very suspicious.
I looked around for the Cowboy to rescue me from the Revolver, and his ridiculous rhetoric. He had disappeared again. He was hard to keep tabs on, leaving the bar minutes at a time. The sun was gone too, and I was left with the cold night to comfort my sorrows. There was no turning back now. Each drink that I took, made me feel like I was shrinking into a world of loneliness. One in which the Italian could never find me. I was growing smaller by the minute. At the end of the bar, I found a really nice older woman, glancing over at me with her gentle soul welcomed my presence. My escape was clear and I went over to introduce myself. She told me her story and I spilled mine. She gave me a hug and said I lived a harder life than she ever knew: and blessed me. I might have shed a tear, but I couldn't tell the difference any more between being happy and sad.
The world I once knew, now made no sense. I did not know how to act in it all. Everything was so obvious before, I had my Italian guiding the way. Now I was lost in my own soul. I didn't know how to be me. Could I be me? It was a strange place to be. It most certainly was not the Boston I wanted to be. Oh where must that Cowboy be? Will my Italian ever come back to be?That’s a lot of “Be’s”, well we were all buzzed.
Maybe more than buzzed, because I actually left Rathbones with Revolver, looking for my Italian. He took me to some restaurant next door, and fell down on our way in. I helped him up of course as the room stared in judgment: like they had never seen an older gentlemen on the Upper East Side with a younger lady before. So we sat and we drank. It was nothing like my Italian fed me before, but then again he was not my Italian. Otherwise we would have been sitting side by side. The only similarities were mutual friends and their age. My Italian would never drink this much, unless it was a Manhattan with old friends back in Jersey.
I only had to drive us home once, after leaving a hidden restaurant between Wayne and North Bergen. The evening became a table with the staff, and the Italian reminiscing of the good ole days. I found it endearing. I could have sat there all night, I loved seeing him smile. I loved hearing his stories. I loved him.
But as I looked across the table, I was now having dinner with a stranger. And I was far away from the shoulder I used to rest my head on. After a quick bite, and conversation I cannot remember: I felt a little better, and bigger as we made our way to Genesis. Sitting at the corner of the bar, were two young men. They introduced themselves, but all that stuck in my head was the names Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I ended up taking a nap in a booth for a short while on my way to the ladies room, hoping to wake up back in my place. So many thoughts rushing through my head, all spinning and making it difficult to remember the way home. I rejoined Revolver at the bar. It did not take long before he asked me to leave, and go back to a hotel room. Furious at his gesture, I told him off using every four letter adjective in the book. It was not like me, but neither was leaving a bar with a man to go to a hotel room. So he finally left and I was left with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
My inner Cougar had no interest, and I left them outside Genesis. I started walking and got lost. My head was spinning worse, everything was getting bigger. I was getting smaller. I had to sit down. So I plopped my bottom down on a concrete bed outside this building and buried my head in my arms. Tears streamed down my face, one by one, until a flood washed my makeup. I was shaking and embarrassed, as a Doorman noticed me crying. I took a deep breath and collected myself. I decided to play my cards and call the Italian.The phone rang and he did not answer. I got his voice mail, started to leave a message and then with tears in my voice said…
“Sorry, I should not have called”, and hung up. Sitting alone, I felt the cold air sink into my chest. Then my phone rang from a long time friend, whom I had texted. He wondered if I was okay. Usually I would never own up to it, but I had never felt so abandoned in my life. So I said yes, and he guided me to his place one NY block at a time over the phone. As the elevator took me up to his floor: I remembered being here before. The halls have doors with no numbers…and when the elevator opened the doors presented confusion. Which was the right one to knock on? Thankfully this old friend opened his door and invited me in. I immediately apologized for being so drunk and a hot mess, and he was quick to share his sandwich. He could tell I needed more than a bite to eat, and asked what was wrong. I told him the truth of my relationship ending with the Italian. He was completely shocked. But he told me he was not done, he would come back. I hoped he was right.
It was a long night in Wonderland on Second Avenue, and I just wanted to get home. I was tired of this strange place. I left my old friend and walked to the Subway. As I entered the steps, everything became a blur. Some guy shouted at me trying to pick me up, but I kept going. Going faster and faster, my thoughts running with me…until I got home. I don’t remember getting into bed, but I remember waking up late in the afternoon with no missed calls from my Italian. It was a feeling I liked to forget, but never will. My world would never be the same.
It was Friday afternoon, the only Holiday left was New Year's Eve: and I was not sure if I would be spending that one alone too. Tired of chasing men, I went to Fiore's Italian Deli in Hoboken. It's old school, like my Italian: but without the complications.
This deli has been around since 1913, they are committed to doing things right. They serve an infamous roast beef and gravy sandwich (which made a debut on the show "30 Rock"). The Roast Beef is made in the back room, by a group of old school Italian men. So cute. And they serve it up with gravy made from the juice of their home made roast beef.
Although this local favorite is tantalizing and satisfying, there is Scarlette's Selection: that is most wanted to taste on my tongue. After selecting my bread carefully: making sure it is thick enough, hard on the outside and squeezable...I ask them to make me a sandwich. My choice is Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, sometimes a couple hot ones, with Balsamic, Oil and Black Pepper. I can't get enough of it. I always grab a can of coke to go. Cans are my favorite way to drink coke, so it makes the experience that much better. I try to remember to ask for the cans on the side, not in the bag with my sandwich. They really know how to make it juicy, with the Balsamic and Oil, which is great! But it gets all over sometimes, and I don't like the taste on my can...just the sandwich. Also, you know its good, when they put paper towels in the bag instead of napkins. You know its going to be messy, and every great aftenoon delight should be.
If your lucky, you can get in and out in a couple minutes. But definitely expect to wait in line on Saturdays. It is the go to spot for locals after a solid night on the town. Today, it took five minutes, and I was on my way home to devour every inch of mozzarella. As I sat down, with my Fiore's Sandwich on a nice plate, coke can on the table and a fork to grab any pieces that fall: a former booty call started to blow up my cell. Why now? Why must he interrupt this divine moment? He had begun to make eating my mozzarella complicated. And besides, my heart still belongs to my Italian. I was not interested in this booty call: which now I realized, I had flipped to wanting more from me. That would have been great two years ago, but now I was satisfied with loving my Italian. And at this exact moment this sandwich was all I needed.
But this guy kept sending text messages, trying to sext me! Like sexting is going to make me want him? He obviously was clueless and so I sent a message back:
"The mozz is better than sex." And claimed if I wanted sex, I would go Italian. That only made matters worse. Instead he now kept texting..
"No way mutz is better than my sex."
Ahhh, silly boys. If it was that good, I never would have stopped seeing him in the first place. He was just amusement, when I had nothing better to do. We shared Amarone wine and a wall at one point: he used to be my neighbor. It was conveinent and now he was just annoying. My Italian was the only guy for me, and was the only thing that could take me away from this mozzarella sandwich. So I decided to ignore this younger guy trying to "sext" me, and devour my sandwich. A stolen moment with my Italian is the only other thing I craved.
A way to a girl's heart is to wine and dine her, or buy her a Fiore's Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich: they are better than Sext! But, nothing can trump my Italian...he simply is the yummiest of all. My heart belonged to him...and since he was not around this afternoon, Fiore's Sandwich was my stolen moment and did not last long on my table.
Although the Italian on my table...that would be hot!
Fiore's Italian Deli
414 Adams St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
At the bottom of my tight small closet, sat these Leopard Sam Edelman high heels: a gift from an Italian man, I allowed myself to love. They sat there looking pretty, just like he wanted me too. As long as I was quiet, he was happy. And as long as he was happy, I thought I could be too.
The Italian liked to talk the talk, and when we went places: he liked to watch me walk the walk. So he bought me shoes and fabulous dinners. At first it was exciting. Never before had I dined in the company of such a sophisticated man or had to worry which fork was what at the table. All I knew before, was ice cream parlors, pizza places and that I grew up in the not so nice part outside of the city. And I wondered, could a guy like this, ever love a girl who grew up on powdered milk?
So I did what felt best and made me forget everything else… stared at his smile, sat closely and listen intently to his sexy voice. In that moment I felt alive and his hard counterpart. He was in search of the perfect woman and Martini. I spent our dates trying to figure out when the glass slippers would shatter.
Our first date was on Christmas Day. As a single mom, I spent most holidays alone and was thrilled this one would be different. And just like Christmas morning when I was a kid, I had to sneak a peek. So I looked out my window as he arrived to pick me up. From that moment, I felt something. It just happened. Later that evening he would hold my hand as we walked from bar to bar. He said it felt natural and he was comfortable with me. He said things like he meant them. He said I was his gift for Christmas. But what did it all mean?
A couple dates later he took me to Shun Lee Palace on the East side. I think that was the name, I was more focused on him. So let’s just go with it. The Italian was always the charismatic one, in an old school kind of way. He knew everyone and he knew the unwritten formalities of securing a great table. But any table would do. Any cuisine would do. Not any man would do. He was my Italian and whatever table we sat at became the best table in the house. I used to joke that we could sit at a booth in a diner, and that would be just fine. It still would.
That evening he asked the manager about the Golden Dragons holding our tableware. He wanted to know if people took them. His inquisition took me by surprise. I had many questions pressing, but that was not one. But it was a good question. I wanted to know the answer too. The manager said yes… and indulged us with further explanation that it cost them thousands each month to replace the stolen ones. It was a very expensive setting. I would realize more than the golden Dragons were stolen that night, and dining with the Italian would cost me dearly.
At the end of that very evening, I took a moment to freshen up in the powder room. Then walked towards the front where he was waiting with my coat. Our eyes met as I walked the walked, and sparks set off like the Chinese New Year and Fourth of July together. It was the glance us girls dream of…it was my heart stolen and served on a silver platter. I was in love and I knew it.
Almost a year later, the dinners were gone. But that was okay. Sitting next to him that was the allure. What really got me, is that he was gone. No more chasing me, no more nights falling asleep in his arms, no more telling me "Good night, love." The courtship became a fairy tale and it was back to reality. The Edelman high heels did less walking and I wanted to do more talking.
A simple text telling how I felt and asking to talk, would ultimately cause the Italian to go missing in action. For months I had been looking for the courage to tell him I loved him, now I was looking for the reasons he was gone. To save face, I did what any girl with a broken heart would do. I went to my closet to put on the sexiest outfit to hit the town. All dressed up in my little black lace dress, I reached for a great pair of heels. And there they stood in my closet: the mighty leopard ones, ankle strap and all. Tears began to trickle down my face, lips quivering as my relationship was summed up in five inches.
I wanted to throw them out the window, I wanted to throw them in the Hudson. Then I thought about giving them to the homeless shelter. But what homeless women wants to walk around in heels. I thought about sending them back via Fed Ex. I thought about sending him money, so he couldn’t have the satisfaction of saying he bought me or did anything for me. But I couldn’t do anything but sit on my bed, and put them on. There would be no night on the town. There would only be a hopeless girl in love. But everything happens for a reason. And there I had it: my reason. I had learned to love. And that was something I was not throwing away or sending back. I treasured kissing him. I loved loving him. And I really loved kissing his cheek, right next to his side burns.
I decided to keep my Edelman high heels and I decided to keep my love. Even If he would never love me back. I always have the memories, I always have Manhattan and I always will have these heels. It was an Italian love affair... and as any city girl knows: it was Manhattan love.