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Levon's Obsessions

A gal whose obsessions lie within fat, sugar, carbs, caffeine, and beverages that could strengthen the heart or seal up a womb.

Archive for the category “Drinks”

Little Spoon -The Hippest Brunch Spot in the QC

If you are brain dead from the over-frequented brunch spots in Charlotte, and you haven’t revitalized your chakras on Selwyn Ave, you should take this opportunity to do so. Little Spoon is a hip neighborhood grill in Myers Park.  If that place had’ve been around in the late 90s, senior year would’ve missed me and that would’ve been my skip school jump off..

little spoon blog pic

Photo from clcld.com Pinterest

With the chic-industrial decor being drenched in melodies of Biggie Smalls’s Ready to Die or Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers, you can get lost in a pure moment of nostalgia.  You can expect a vibe along the lines of a more relaxed ambiance of Bottega Louis in downtown L.A minus the french pastries and less pretentious audience.  Plus the staff won’t give you the side eye for not looking fashionably intelligent enough.  ..Unapologetically urban, Ms. Alesha is doing her own thing in the Queen City.  ..and I ain’t mad.

Recommendation – Korean Wings. Ginormous and packed with flavor.

$$ – moderate.

Vibe – LES, BK, The Village, NYC.

Service – Cheerful and inviting.

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Taste of the Nation NYC 2014

Sponsoring the annual Taste of the Nation NYC event, I assumed we would have some sort of laborious obligation prior to the event.  Which was perfectly fine given the dynamics.  No Kid Hungry is an ongoing initiative and close affiliate in which the overall objective is to raise awareness, engage the public, and raise money to feed hundreds of thousands of children. We arrived hours in advance to help load in the vendors’ food and materials.  Since that was my heaviest ordering day of the week, I spent the majority of my time taking orders on my laptop in my makeshift office space in the wardrobe room.  Hours after everything was strategically set up, we were given wristbands and asked to stay for the VIP cocktail reception.

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This was bittersweet since I was far from fabulous that day and not at all dressed for the occasion. I had to suck it up and go to the ladies room to primp myself into the most presentable shape possible.  I figured I’d just lurk around the event looking like the overworked journalist in all black and grey, and knee high, flat boots, yet chic and smart looking enough to be present.

There were countless restaurateurs and vendors displaying their trendiest creations possible, in addition to falling into the theme of healthy cuisines.  From the delectable crab puffs at one booth, to Nios‘s seared scallop and crispy pork belly, accompanied with white sweet potato puree, pickled ramps, and fava bean salsa..

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..to Red Rooster Harlem‘s jumbo lump crab salad Ssam with Yuzu mayo and pickled chili..

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There were several notable moments that put a euphoric look on my face like the shrimp on shrimps moment I experienced at Alder NYC‘s booth with
Maine sweet shrimp, green papaya salad, and peanuts on an amazing skin textured shrimp cracker..

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There were other moments where your true food knowledge versus your personal palate were tested.  Like the Quail egg en gelée with American caviar from Balthazar. Balthazar has some of the most amazing pastries in the neighborhood of Soho, as well as countless other locations.  So I was curious to try something on the complete opposite end of the sugary spectrum, which is what led me to the golden speckled egg.

quail

Poached quail is truly an acquired taste, as are certain types of cordials and spirits, as are everything in life that comes on a plate, or in a styrofoam bowl at a $200 – 400 ticketed charity event.  If this were a Paris Fashion Week show, let’s just say this would’ve been the Lanvin finale piece that made every bit of since to the Parisiennes in the tent that watched the entire show/collection and knew the entire story.  To the street pedestrians however, it would’ve left them in a slight state of bewilderment.  Let’s just say after swallowing the egg and wandering off to the next tent/I mean booth, if I weren’t on such a strict diet I would’ve downed the first shot of bourbon in sight..

Other dishes on display included L&W Oyster‘s smoked cantaloupe oyster shooters which were delightful and refreshing..

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..Minton’s North African spiced lamb loin was a pleasure to digest, along with the pleasant culinary staff that I spoke to about their location and their sibling restaurant The Cecil..

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

..my favorite art piece at The Cecil (artist unknown..)

I also had the opportunity to chat with Chef Banks White as well, mainly about distributor stuff. Chatted up to the point of forgetting to take a picture of the savory loin..

Miss Lily’s and their incredible jerk chicken chutney dish was, very Miss Lily’s..  It was was piercing in flavor and colorful.  No different than what I’ve experienced at their restaurant in the West Village. Their staff at the TONNY event were replicas.

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..and this extraordinarily, naturally flavorful and robust dish which was a vegetarian’s sanctuary.  I believe this was the Hamachi Crudo from Bill’s Food & Drink ..

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..situated next to its sibling restaurant The Lion, with their cocktail explosion.

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I was in heaven and hell at this show due to my gluten/glycemic free diet I’m on for the next few weeks.  I did however triumph not having a single cocktail, wine, or shot of caffeine the entire evening.  They looked amazing though..

Overall it was a successful event and I had a great time and appreciation for the limited dishes I was allowed to indulge in.  Anything involving food and passed hors d’ouevres from the top 80 restaurants in NYC, and the notion of donating 10 meals for every dollar raised with the various proceeds and silent auctions, I’m all for it. It definitely warrants my stamp of obsessionista approval, and I definitely look forward to doing it again next year..

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel Chantelle NYC – The Most Amazing Cocktail

I had one of the most incredible cocktails tonight.  It was such a ridiculously genius interpretation of a mature apple cider that this rooftop mixologist at Hotel Chantelle poured into my glass.  So great even, it warranted a break front the obsessionista hiatus.  A dear friend invited me out to what I would remember as the spot on the LES/Lower East Side, with the most amazing cocktail. …possibly ever.IMG_20140412_204616

This incredible alcoholation (“alcoholic creation” I trademarked it first..) had Stoli Salted Caramel Vodka, apple cider and lemon.  Those three ingredients will soon be a staple in my liquor cabinet.  Entitled the “State Fair”, that’s exactly where I felt like I was after the third one..

Although I’m tempted to just make this entry about the drink alone, I can’t. I would be remiss to omit the amusingly tiny, yet Manhattan appropriate, “sharable for three” snacks that later came out.

Let’s just say with a side ramekin of drawn butter, and a cream based dip with a ton of parmesan shavings.. you can only imagine what followed..

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Normally when I Instagram or blog, I automatically transition into food stylist mode.  However three State Fairs later, all the rules went out the window.  This was essentially a shared plate of lobster roll, split crab claws half shelled, and some incredible goat cheese or mascarpone (can’t remember) flatbread with arugula, mushrooms and shaved parmesan sprinkled in truffle oil.

Even though this entry was about the show-stopping cocktail, there were obviously a lot more attractions at the Circus, or “State Fair” sponsored by the lovely Hotel Chantelle. One of my most memorable attractions hands-down being the flatbread.  It was truly incredible, as the model/bartender subtly suggested.

Cheers!

 

Happy Hour Obsession of The Week – Pera, Soho NY

So me and my closest NYC friends / crew did our quarterly meet-up and ventured off to a really awesome Mediterranean spot in Soho called Pera.  Pera has a really innovative happy hour menu with great pricing.  I mean with cocktails like Bicycle Thief and small plates like fried mussels, you know you’re in for a surprise.  Getting trapped in traffic caused me to miss the excellent happy hour deal, but thankfully my good friends still had some food left for me to nibble off of.

They ordered the Fried Mussels and the Smoked Eggplant with Garlic Yogurt (2 items for $6 = $6 total).  The dip was good.  Pera had a fairly decent selection of other tapas (or meze rather) choices for happy hour, but the lovely gridlock at the Lincoln Tunnel caused me to miss out on their discounted segment of the menu.  My crew mentioned the Pera Rickey cocktail being extremely good but since I was tardy for the happy hour party, I went with one of the regularly priced cocktail items.

The regularly priced agave-type drink that the bartender suggested was amazing.  Pricey but amazing enough for me to order a second.

So there you have it.  A great Mediterranean selection at great happy hour prices, and an ambience and outdoor garden that will make you keep coming back.  Just make sure you come before 7:30, cause they ain’t cheap..

 

Chelsea Manor Martini Fest NYC

At the suggestion of Living Social, NY Cocktail Mixers will let you do as the Romans do… or did.   They have a $40 admission special to a 3hr Martini Fest  Mixer.  It’s weekly on Saturdays from 8 to 11 (pm obviously) at Chelsea Manor.  The special includes five martini tastings, two full cocktails, and appetizers (an $80 value). Watch as expert mixologists battle to create the best martini and sample five signature drinks, such as passion fruit, mango, or piña colada martinis. Then, sip down two full versions of your favorite concoction, and pair them with tasty apps. You can do all this in the Chelsea Manor – well Chelsea Manor’esque type ambience with a glass bar area and crystal chandelier with the dj doing what he does..

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Photo Source - Chelsea Manor website

So buy your ticket today while the deal lasts!!!

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Photo Source - Chelsea Manor website

Find out more: http://www.livingsocial.com/cities/3/deals/408202-martini-fest-admission? ref=NYCMDeal080112_3_2614email422877

Happy Hour Obsession of The Week – Rosa Mexicano, Washington DC

The happy hour obsession of the week goes to Rosa Mexicano in Washington DC near the Verizon Center.  Although I have been to countless Rosa Mexicanos – Union Square NYC, LA Live, Fort Washington’s National Harbor, Chevy Chase MD, etc etc, the staple location in my mind is the one near the Verizon Center in DC.  It was the first one to open outside of NYC, and delivers the same signature guacamole that everyone flocks to nationally..

Photo Source Hauteliving.com

 ..and the authentic, upscale Mexican cuisine in the stylish and trendy, yet festive atmosphere that we have all come to love is also offered on a happy hour menu.  This including half off select appetizers and drinks.  They also offer Taco Tuesdays featuring their new signature tacos and cocktails..

Some of their happy hour menu items consist of Queso Fundido $4, Flautas de Pollo $4, Ensalad del Mercado $3, Tacos de Pollo $4, and Tacos de Panza con Callos de Hacha $6.  For their happy hour drinks they offer half price margaritas, Sangria pitchers, tequila shots and beer ranging from $3-14

So next time you’re near a Rosa Mexicano, do yourself a favor and take advantage of their excellent happy hour if not at least their prize winning guacamole.

Happy Hour Moment of The Week – Savoy, Pittsburgh

The happy hour moment of the week goes to Savoy in Pittsburgh, PA.  Although the urban elite flooded restaurant doesn’t have a happy hour menu per se, you can certainly indulge in happiness for at least an hour at this sexy bar with their lounge menu.

Trio Appetizer Plate – Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, Arugula Salad and warm Vegetable Strudel $14

Although the food itself fluctuates from “ok I’ve had way too much to drink and I’m not sure how this affects my experience with this tilapia and braised asparagus” to mediocre, the experience is moreso about ambience..

savoypgh.com

decent cocktails..

and celebrity sitings.

Tyson Beckford – courtesy of ppg.com

So if you wanna run into the who’s who in Pittsburgh, as well as indulge in a great martini while you’re in town on business and itching to not go back to the regular hotel bar, Savoy has what you need.

Ice Tea and Ice Cube

…literally.

From the Thrillist FB page


Diva – Soho NY

Quite eventful evening this was.  Apparently Kenyans get wild.  They do actually… Or at least from my experience this particular Friday night at Diva in Soho NYC.  Aside from the lively evening, a relatively satisfying Red Snapper was the lasting impression I walked away with from Diva Soho. The martinis were reminiscent of your older brother’s Kool Aid circa 1992, and the Lemon Drops were like someone’s grandmother’s lemonade, literally.  However it’s not as satisfying and fulfilling when someone’s grandmother’s lemonade is $12 a pop. On the flip side, the snapper and vibrant, Kenyan-embodied ambience played an integral role in my salvation for the evening.  The fish was a win.  Not to mention the Kenyan dj.  The Kool Aidy cocktails however, I could pass on in the future…

Oven Roasted Red Snapper with tomato salsa and arborio rice

Happy Hour Moment of the Week – Rush Street, Culver City

The happy hour moment of the week goes to the Rush Street happy hour menu on Washington Street in Culver City, CA.

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Roasted cherry tomatoes, pesto, ricotta and mozzarella brick oven pizza $8, Flirtini with X Rated Passion Fruit Liqeur $7
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Falafel and tahini sliders $7. Total $22

Happy Hour Moment of The Week – Figaro Bistrot LA

The happy hour moment of the week goes to the tres bien happy hour menu from Figaro Bistrot in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Moules Gratinees aux Fromage, Pommes Frites (I don’t remember the name for sweet potato in French…) et Merlot maison le total 62.88 Francs / $12USD

**So essentially you have mussels, sweet potato fries and house Merlot for 12 bucks.  In addition to their great happy hour deals, any restaurant that loops Edith Piaf will always win my heart..

Photo from Vintagevivant.com

My Exclusiv Cocktail

 So I don’t usually post homeade cocktail concoctions on here but I had to share this one.  So after a decent workout at the gym in my building I figured I could afford to pile on a few extra calories.  So I did exactly that.  After my flatbread veggie pizza I created, I ate a few of my carrot cupcakes I made from the other night, and didn’t stop there.  My rationale consisting of, it’s Friday and I don’t have much work left on my laptop.  So the potential cocktail ingredients cogs churning in my head led me to searching through my fridge to see what I could come up with.  After playing around with a few natural juices I came up with the following…

Zola Acai, Ocean Spray Cranberry, Natural Garden Aloe Vera, Natural Garden Coconut, and a few organic blackberries..

 I then threw in some Exclusiv Orange flavored Vodka (courtesy of a care package a friend of mine left me) into the concoction..

..and ice and then voila…

 

It was quite refreshing.  Perfect even.   These brands (mainly Natural Garden, Exclusiv Vodka, and Oceanspray cranberry juice) can be substituted for whatever brands you have in your fridge, none-the-less, the combination of fruit juices is great.  I have to say.  So cheers!  Do try this at home..

Happy Hour Moment of The Week – Hyatt Santa Barbara

The happy hour moment of the week once again goes to the poolside happy hour menu from the Bistro 1111 Lounge at the Hyatt Santa Barbara.

Sunset cocktail, Spicy Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Carne Asada Tacos = $15

Marvin Gaye’s Belgian Soul Salvation in Washington DC

The Shaw neighborhood restaurant called Marvin is the designated go to spot on Monday night in Washington DC for a reason. The atmosphere and the vibe, combined with a little dose of my ‘former home’ nostalgia made for a great evening. It mentally took me back to the Republic Gardens, Howard U, Adams Morgan, and all things U Street days in the District. Along with the perfectly concocted martini the bistro level bartender cleverly created, my friend insisted that I try the Chimay.

Since I left beer behind with my yard days at NCA&T I was a bit hesitant. Curiosity along with his commercial ready background on the particular brand made me try it anyway. Need-less-to-say it was really good. Not to mention it is an authentic Trappist beer which translates to the champagne of beers, and is a part of the International Trappist Association. It also comes in the Red, the Triple, and the Blue Cap and has a line of cheeses perfect for pairing. Yeah this beer is kinda major and might quietly be a movement.

Courtesy of Chimay Official Site

It also ties into the history of Marvin and its Belgian marriage to soul. The story of Marvin Gaye and his journey to find solace overseas in Ostend, Belgium was apparently the inspiration behind this bistro, bar and rooftop establishment. This restaurant has a tremendous amount of history which is apparent by the décor the minute you walk in. The musical legend was born and raised just around the corner in this Shaw neighborhood and his spirit lingers on with the locals.  The Belgian culture plaid an integral role in his personal and spiritual development after his open and quite publicized inner struggles.  So frankly the beer makes sense, as does the menu, the theme and everything else.   I think the creators of Marvin have done a proper job of combining the cafe society of Belgium, with the proud soul of the Shaw neighborhood in DC. The next time I’m in town I will have to see if Chef James Claudio’s food is as good as the concept, because everything else is winning.  Truly an amazing place..

 

Happy Hour Moment of The Week – Bistro 1111 S. Barbara

The happy hour moment of the week goes to the poolside happy hour menu from the Bistro 1111 Lounge at the Hyatt Santa Barbara.

Sweet Tea Lemonade cocktail, Meyer Natural Angus Sliders and Pacific Tilapia Tacos = $15

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