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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 “Entertainment”

(b)Eats, Rhymes, and Life – Hip Hop Legendary Member of ATCQ turned Chef?

Jarobi the chef??

…Well how about that?? (RIP Phife)

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Photo Courtesy of First We Feast

 

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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.

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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!

 

Minton’s Playhouse – Harlem

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.

mintonsreceptionThe 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.

We then went with the Cremolata Crusted Grouper…mintonsfish

…and the Smothered Lobster and Shrimp Casserole.

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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.

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..

 

The Great Googa Mooga Says Marcus Samuelsson

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..

Join Marcus at Extra Mooga this Sunday.

http://www.googamooga.com/extra-mooga/

 

 

 

Levon Helm, My Dad’s Obsession

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

02 – Levon, Elton John

Frank Ocean Coachella Live Stream

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.

http://www.youtube.com/coachella

The Roxbury Hollywood segues to Juicy Burger..

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.

 

A Louie inspired dream..

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..

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