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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 tag “Restaurant”

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..

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bird Circling the Yard in SoBe – Yardbird, Miami Beach

My first assumption about the popular south beach restaurant Yardbird was – attractive food in a trendy, prohibition’esque bar with a modern twist, that taste wise would be a far cry from the heavily seasoned, cholesterol heightening, soul caressing southern cooking that I once knew before macaroni came in five artisanal cheeses.  I figured this was another South Beach interpretation of Marcus Samuelsonn’s Red Rooster in Harlem, minus the NY accents, along with every other emerging fine dining, southern restaurant I’ve been to in the past year three years.  I had all kinds of assumptions about what the food should taste like but probably wouldn’t, and I expected the price points to resemble that of a drastically inflated soul shack minus the soul, with a slight adjustment to the presentation.

My first interactions were with the friendly, and uber hip bar staff, along with the perky bus boys floating around, and the even keeled hosts.  Everyone had a pleasant and charming demeanor.  The restaurant itself had a ton of energy and zest.  This possibly due to the overflow of patrons from the NBA Finals and the ABFF (American Black Film Festival).  I caught it at that perfect time of the day when they’re in the midst of transitioning over from lunch to dinner, entitling you to that perfect spot at the bar before the dinner crowd starts to trickle in.

I have to admit, Yardbird was pretty refreshing.  It offered the ambience, the décor,

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the stereotypical beautiful south beach people, and the unique, damn near artistic, menu.  The menu was a really eclectic twist on traditional southern cuisine.  It offered items such as the chicken meatloaf drenched in parsnip puree, sweat tea brined southern ribs, signature fried chicken n’ watermelon and cheddar cheese waffles.

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Photo Courtesy of Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

The side fixings and appetizers included items such as chicken and sweet potato dumplings, fried green tomato BLT, and housemade strawberries and ricotta.  Along with my favorite, the macaroni and cheese with about a million different cheeses.  After having an extensive conversation with the bartender about the 99 different types of bourbons they had on deck, me being the black sheep that I am, went with the handful of vodka selections they had and ordered the Ketel One Lemon Drop vodka martini.

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To even further compliment the theme, the bartender went to the back to freshly squeeze some lemonade to top my drink.  Only I would go to Mexico and order rum, so this not so rare occasion of me ordering vodka at an old school, down south, whiskey house themed restaurant in the middle of South Beach, should not be surprising at all.  Need-less-to-say, my martini was perfect, and even provided further inspiration for my entrée.  Having dined at my share of upscale southern style restaurants, I couldn’t wait to see whether this place was going to truly defeat the odds and provide a unique yet true to the tradition southern experience, or if it was going to come off like the rest of the upscale trendy southern cuisine ***clears throat fancy soul food establishments..  I secretly hoped that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, giving me ammunition to write an article on how soul food has become a lost and over-gentrified art, etc etc.  However, after seeing and tasting my fried chicken and macaroni and cheese from Yardbird… I knew it simply wasn’t going to be one of those writes.  My food was absolutely delicious.  It was.  It respectfully gave homage to the traditional art of dipping heavily battered chicken into a pan of piping hot oil and being solely responsible for the ultimate demise of one’s ability to do anything for the next two hours.

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It was perfectly seasoned and prepared.  It had the right combination of seasonings perfectly married together, was beautifully presented, colorful, flavorful, rich, and filling.  The fried chicken was tasty, the macaroni was exquisite, and it was just enough.  Portion-wise, it wasn’t fine dining to the point where you have to pick at it for an hour in order to secretly fill yourself up.  It was truly a good meal.  Overall, with the super savvy wait staff and bartenders, it was truly a divine experience.  Thank you Alyssa, and thank you Imani.  I am glad you made the recommendation.  It was an absolute treat, and I would definitely give it a Levon’s Top Obsession recommendation if you’re ever in South Beach for the summer.

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