…Well how about that?? (RIP Phife)
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.
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..
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.
After going to the Minton’s Supper Club reception the other week in Harlem (ok fine, I’ve slacked, it was several months ago..) it was a no brainer where I’d be heading that perfect Saturday evening in Harlem with my number one guy. The food presentation from the reception never left me, nor did the owner’s full historical recap, not-to-mention revival tale of the landmark location.
The intrigue re-emmerged at our 8:00pm reservation that evening, and I was still a bit shocked about how such a rich history at this foodie gem had remained hidden until I discovered it a few months back. Well the secret was definitely out, and Chef Banks White and Executive Chef Alexander Smalls now both have a face to go with these impeccably plated creations.
That night all the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres from the previous Minton’s Supper Club re-opening came full circle. The biggest hit being the mini crab cakes, with the prosciutto wrapped asparagus not at all being short of flavor, and the spicy Cajun prawns immediately punching you with intensity.
Saturday we started with the Grilled Shrimp and Charred Okra, and the delectable and nearly orgasmic, Smoked Gouda and Gruyere Mac and Cheese. Out of the one million and five mac cheese combinations, this is truly my favorite. It was incredibly moist and flavorful, which really leads me to believe there was possibly some truffle oil involved. But I guess I’ll have to keep guessing and experimenting in my kitchenlab to figure that one out.
…and the Smothered Lobster and Shrimp Casserole.
The Lobster Casserole was simply everything. I had to take several pauses to truly absorb what was happening at our table. The magic in that plate was indescribable. I tasted my FPIC’s grouper, which had a nice texture and vibrant presentation, but in all honesty the lobster completely overshadowed and stole the fish’s moment. It was the showstopper.
With the old skool crowd, the old skool band, and even the old skool “jackets only” rule, it truly was reminiscent of Old Harlem and what I’d imagine the Renaissance feeling like. It made me step back a few decades, but the food unquestionably crossed over into the now. Minton’s Supper Club aka Minton’s Playhouse is certainly making its resurrectional mark in this age of Harlem gentrification.
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.
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..
So in case you’re a NYC local and haven’t heard, or are a part of that NYC elite that can easily toss $250 for a street festival in Brooklyn that any other weekend would’ve easily been $10, get your black, gold or silver credit cards out because there are still tickets left to the Great Googa Mooga’s “Extra Mooga” food festival on Sunday. Thanks to Marcus Samuelsson’s blog, I know Brooklyn will be housing the all inclusive food and drink lover’s wonderland at Prospect Park this weekend. Although it’s said that general admission to the Great Googa Mooga is sold out or that registration has closed rather, you still can partake in the festivities that include a lot of food, a lot of drink, and don’t quote me, but I believe the legendary Roots headlining also. So if it sounds like your cup of chai tea, just go to the site and check it out for yourself. Oh and please do tell me how it was come Sunday. I have a strange feeling I won’t be making this one. Wouldn’t mind meeting Bourdain though..
Frontman and drummer for The Band, Levon Helm passed away yesterday. And although I didn’t know much about the musical legend and his group, I know he inspired Elton John to write the song that my dad was obsessed with before I was born. I also know he made an enormous contribution to the musical world and gave a name for my dad’s newborn girl. He was interviewed with Modern Drummer describing the “right ingredients” for his work in music and film as “life and breath, heart and soul”, kind of like the ingredients that are thrown into some of my obsessions. So I bid adieu to the legendary Levon Helm and ask GOD to allow him to rest in peace. May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012
This has absolutely nothing to do with the remarkable insanely delicious slice of cheesecake in front of me right now, however I think I owe it to my readers to let them know that umm Frank Ocean is streaming live on Coachella right now. Why WP won’t allow me to upload the link is beyond me. So it’s up to you to copy and paste the link into your browser at this point and enjoy the show like I’m about to do. Channel 2.
So the details of the other night and how we ended up at a club in Hollywood on a Saturday are still a bit sketchy. Living in the NY area for well over five years has taught me the value of avoiding coming out on the weekends in major cities, unless of course you have friends in from out of town or get an invite by that special new person. It’s just too many reasons to name. Anyway, somehow we ended up at the Roxbury in Hollywood. I will just say that particular club deserves all the respect in the world, on so many levels. The club had multiple floors with multiple djs which translated to multiple genres and multiple types of crowds. The actual patrons were cool, but not too cool to actually have fun and dance and do what you’re typically supposed to do in a club. In addition, the security guards actually acted like security guards – can you imagine? They had an absolute zero tolerance for total drunkenness policy, and the keen attention to detail on management’s part made this a relatively bearable and overall fun experience. All I can say is, if you have a super duper high tolerance and it takes 19 drinks for anyone to halfway notice you’re even tipsy, you’ll be fine. On the flipside if you are that one girl/guy in the group that your friends consider designating themselves the designated driver after your first drink, don’t go to the Roxbury. You’ll be mad at yourself minutes later when you’re politely escorted out and you’ll be over at Juicy’s drowning out your miseries with an 11oz burger. That’s exactly where we ended up, but it wasn’t due to being caught drunk. It was because the cleverly disguised inebriation caused us to wander over to Juicy’s and out of Roxbury on our own. That and the fact that the clubs in LA start turning on their lights at 1:30. So around 1:50ish we headed over to post-club heaven, and indulged in beef patties that were enough to feed elephants and fried potatoes that were just, really entirely too many. Juicy Burger is a popular burger joint in Hollywood and as luck would have it that night, was conveniently located right across the street from the club. All in all I’d say we struck gold.
Not surprising at all that I would have dreams about Biggie Smalls and random Coachella’esque parades in Times Square. I strongly believe that this musical smorgasbord of a dream was totally inspired by my trip to B. Louie the other day in downtown LA. Contrary to the posh atmosphere with pristeen decor in this relatively upscale restaurant, their musical selection oddly consists of old skool hip hop and random traces of bluegrass and 90s alternative. Don’t at all be surprised if you roll up in there on a random Tuesday and hear tracks from the Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die or Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Not at all what anyone would expect at a place like this, but so appreciated. I mean utterly appreciated..