5 food spots you shouldn’t miss in NYC

I spend a lot of time in the Big Apple.
Well…relatively…considering I only visit two or three times a year.
Since I’ve spent the better part of all my visits for the last four or five years eating my way through New York City, I’m constantly giving restaurant recommendations to friends and family heading there. So, I thought – why not make life a little easier for everyone and put my top eateries in a blog post?
This list is by no means exhaustive, of course. New York is a veritable foodie playground and I can never quite seem to get through my restaurant wishlist. These are the best of my best so far.

Totto Ramen

 

It was a chilly Halloween night about two years ago when my friends Ashanna and Anand and I stumbled upon a tiny ramen-ya in a Hell’s Kitchen basement. The growing line outside the restaurant let us know the wait would be worth it, even though temperatures were below 10°.
I don’t eat pork so I wasn’t able to partake of the signature ramen dish, but the chicken stock ramen remains to this day the best I’ve ever had in New York City and you HAVE to trust me on that because I eat A LOT of ramen…

Dominique Ansel Kitchen

 

While on a rushed trip to Greenwich Village for Ladurée macarons, my best friend Sandi and I ducked into an inconspicuous bakery for a cup of coffee. After a few minutes, we realized we had happened upon the bakery of the man who had invented THE food fad of our generation – the cronut. While we didn’t get cronuts that day (people start lining up at 6am) we did make a point to return on our next trip to NYC. By then though, the Dominique Ansel Kitchen was open for business, so that became our choice for breakfast since there was seating and a wider range of dishes available there. If you love baked goods, surrender yourself to Ansel. Be warned though – there IS such a thing as sugar overload, and I guarantee you’ll get it here.

Jack’s Wife Freda

 

I don’t often return repeatedly to restaurants (because there’s so much to eat in NYC) but when I do, I go back to Jack’s Wife Freda. My go-to dish is the Madame Freda, a pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto and a sunny side up egg, but I can also vouch for the Rose Water Waffles if sweet is more your thing. The place is compact with communal seating and gets PACKED so I would recommend making reservations (if you’re a table of four or more) or going on a weekday.

The Boil

 

Every trip to NYC I say I want to go to a crab boil and every trip to NYC I never make it. This time around was different though, and I finally got to this restaurant that I was put on to by my friend Makeela. My boyfriend and I settled in in our very fashionable bib and rubber gloves and got to work on a bag of 1/2 lb lobster and 1lb of shrimp. By the end of the night I was literally licking the bag and my gloves trying to get every bit of sauce off them (not even lying).

Sweet Chick

 

Sweet Chick is a restaurant that has been on my radar for ages. Apart from the fact that it’s a top-rated brunch spot in the uber-trendy Williamsburg neighbourhood, it’s owned by a Trini! I finally got around to visiting Sweet Chick on my last trip to NYC and I have to proclaim – Best. Chicken. And. Waffles. Ever. The wait staff is also super friendly…if you’re into that kind of thing. The place was pretty full when I visited (we sat at the bar), so it’s a good idea to head there early o’ clock to beat the crowd.
So there you have it – my top 5 spots to hit the next time you’re in NYC.
Tell them Ceola sent you, they’ll be like “Who?”
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Out & About // Meet Me at Fanatic – ‘Fresh”

It’s Lent y’all. Time to purge the sins of Carnival away with our seasonal stint of devotion and piousness (kind of).

In keeping with the holy season, Sean decided to throw a vegetarian edition of Meet Me At Fanatic – out with the meat and in with the veggies (and a touch of fish, I guess for the people who think fish isn’t meat).

I don’t eat beef nor pork, and my best friend Sandi is pescetarian, so we both left the event feeling WAY more full than we normally do, since this was the first Fanatic that we could actually eat every single dish. Those small bites add up in a big way when you’re not looking.

Ambience wise, the crowd was noticeably less thick than I’m accustomed to, but the good thing about that was I didn’t have to elbow anyone in the face for taking my seat (which Sean constantly forgets/declines to reserve for me). DJ ShyGuy, as usual, kept the vibe up with a mix of his house, lounge and soca music.

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Drinky drinks. Cucumber and mint martini to fit in with the night’s theme of ‘Fresh’.

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Cous cous galette with mushroom ragout, topped with goat cheese.

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When I saw cassava ceviche on the menu I was perturbed. A ceviche with no fish? Quel horror! It was actually probably one of the most delicious dishes of the night. IMG_9264

Phyllo pastry stuffed with mushrooms, olives, spinach and raisins and drizzled with an agro dolce sauce (sweet and sour for us native english speakers).

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Super delicious lentil and roast corn patty atop a fennel-scented bun. Those kale chips on the side were the bomb dot com.

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We also got a nifty recipe card at the end of the event with the recipe for the patty.

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A smoked salmon and cream cheese roulade. My least favourite dish of the night, but only because I despise cream cheese. The reviews from the cream cheese lovers were great though.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any snaps of the spinach and mushroom fettuccine, or the desert, which was fruit clafoutis, but they were both God damned delicious.

To maybe make up for that (not really, I know) here are some bonus shots of the prep/plating:

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Out & About // Crust2Crumb Dessert Café

Hey guys! Happy New Year!

On Saturday I had the pleasure of going to breakfast with one of my best friends Leah.

She lives in Palmiste so we opted to hit up the dessert café Crust2Crumb, which located on Dumfries Road…about a 2 minute drive from her home.

As far as first impressions go, Crust2Crumb makes a good one. The interior is warm and well lit, and was decorated for the season – stacks of gift boxes, a Christmas tree, lots of Holiday paraphernalia all around. Leah told me they do themed decor for Halloween as well, so I presume it’s a ‘thing’ they do, which is great.

Interior

Interior

There is ample parking both in front and around the cafe, though it did get quite packed by the time we were leaving.

The menu is simple but effective…exactly what you’d expect of breakfast offerings in a café.

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I opted for a caramel latte and the eggs benedict. Leah had a hazelnut latte and french toast and scrambled eggs on the side.

The coffee was great. My only complaint about the food was that one of my eggs was more soft boiled than runny (I had requested them runny), but the other was exquisitely runny. I also snuck a bite of Leah’s french toast and that was quite good too, though they do the french toast (as you can see in the photo above) as a grilled flatbread almost. I personally prefer the softer, traditional style of french toast.

Service was excellent and the prices were, in my opinion, quite reasonable. I would definitely go back again, perhaps to try lunch. There’s a fish and chips option on the menu that’s piqued my interest and Leah vouches wholeheartedly for the salads there.

They also do pastries and cakes but I didn’t get an opportunity to sample any….Carnival is, after all, right around the corner.

Crust2Crumb gets a solid 8/10 from me as a breakfast spot in the Southland.

You can check out their website ::here::

Out & About // Brunch At Fanatic with Chef Amit Raval

On Sunday I had the immense pleasure of sitting down for brunch with some lovely company in a lovely place. My favourite haunt, Fanatic Kitchen Studio, in collaboration with the fabulous TriniChow has been hosting a series of Sunday morning (into afternoon) brunches featuring some of the most sought after chefs in the country.

This was the fourth installment, and guests were treated to an Indian-inspired brunch experience by Chef Amit Raval of Amtar’s Catering. The usually bright and modern Studio was transformed into an Indian-themed dining room with lots of red and gold accents and beautiful ornate table cloths and sculptures. We were welcomed with a complimentary rum cocktail, a really delicious mango and mint concoction called Monsoon something (the name escapes me). Throughout the Brunch our wine glasses were kept topped up every course with wines sponsored by Brydens.

I love traditional Indian food, and I don’t get nearly enough of it on a regular basis, so this was a real treat for me. My favourite dish was between the Prawn Vindaloo & Coconut Basmati Rice (because spice, yum!) and the Dhal Makhani & Naan (because who doesn’t love nann?! and dhal makhani has been my favourite Indian dish since I was introduced to it years ago at Apsara). Let’s not even get into the added pleasure of being seated between actress/teacher Debra Boucaud Mason and UpMarket founder Janet Bloom Fabres, and across from the ever-effervescent Corey from Learning Patience and her hubby. I had a fabulous time and will definitely be looking forward to the next Brunch At Fanatic, scheduled for the end of January, which I’m hearing may be a particularly special occasion.  Check out my pics below, get jealous, get hungry, and follow Fanatic Kitchen Studio and Trinichow on Facebook so you can be the first to know when booking for the next Brunch at Fanatic is happening.

 

 

Out & About // Meet Me @ Fanatic

As I mentioned in my Pencil This In post a few weeks ago, Meet Me @ Fanatic was carded for May 4th at the Fanatic Kitchen Studio. I actually attended, spurred on by the fact that I’ve been wanting to visit Fanatic Kitchen Studio for quite a while now, and I really couldn’t think of a good reason to pass up on cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with my best friend Sandi.

The space itself is fantastic: well-lit with a white, black and red motif throughout the decor and furnishing. The open plan kitchen gave guests ample opportunity to look on as Chef Jason Peru whipped up several courses, ranging from goat cheese bruschetta to chicken & mushroom quesadillas to nutella ravioli. A few patrons even got in on the action (myself included), preparing a few of the dishes ourselves. The concept of Meet Me @ Fanatic is essentially this: you come, you socialise, you sip cocktails, sangria or whatever you fancy and get treated to delicious but do-able dishes by world class chefs. Part of the appeal is that all the items on the menu are easy to re-create at home, using easily accessible ingredients that you can find in your local supermarket.

We also got some cocktail demonstrations from the resident mixologist Jason Thomson. He showed us how to make a hazelnut martini to accompany our dessert course. A little vodka, Kahlua, Baileys and BLEND. Garnish with some chocolate syrup, whipped cream and Piroulin and voila! Decadence in a glass. All of our hosts from Fanatic Kitchen Studio were incredibly engaging and really got guests involved in the process. You couldn’t help but get that cliche feeling like you’d known these people for a long time, and that it was just a group of friends sitting down to a casual dinner.

The ambience was fabulous and there was no obnoxiously loud stereo system to compete with, a serious plus if you’re one of those people who’d actually like to talk to the person seated next to you. The bar was bottomless and I dove pretty deep into the sangria – both the red and white variety. All in all I had a fantastic time and I can safely say that I’ll be back again for the next installment. Fanatic Kitchen Studio has gained yet another fan.

Check out some pics below from last night