Guest Blogging at Haute Apple Pie: City Slicker Getaway

I'm so happy to announce that today I'm guest blogging at Haute Apple Pie. A fabulous site for the haute homemaker (something I'm aspiring to be), the HAP ladies cook up delicious eats, throw chic parties, and are full of DIY home makeovers that I'm just dying to try. After becoming an avid reader of their fantastic blog, you can imagine my excitement at being asked to write a guest article detailing a New York City Getaway for their Spring Break Series this week. So without further ado, please head over to hauteapplepie.com to check it out!

City Slicker Getaway: New York City

Before Oktoberfest, It's Italianfest: Part 2 OR How To Do the Festival Circuit

The last in my September series of food and events is my own personal favorite, The Feast of San Gennaro. Held each year in the heart of Little Italy, the streets are lined with cannolis, calamari, fried Oreos, zeppolis, sausage & peppers, cupcakes...the list goes on and on. This year, I hit San Gennaro with a plan. Armed with two companions, my mom and my sister Kimberly (miss you Stiney), 'twas a night of eating and exploring. Now, I'm not sure how many of you have traveled the festival circuit, but in my well seasoned, expert opinion, I find it best to abide by the following rules:

1) Travel in Pairs
Festivals are more fun with a partner. Most of the things I write about can certainly be enjoyed solo, but when it comes to festivals and taste testing, I highly recommend a group. It's really the only way to get the most bang for your buck in terms of most food tasting time/money/stomach room allows.

2) Do a lap before you commit to the food
I cannot tell you how many times I have dove in to the first (few) delicious items that I see, fill up instantly (usually on cupcakes) only to find something that I would have loved to eat but just can't seem to find any more space in the tum. Instead, I realized that I should either a) know what I'm going to eat before I get there (this list always includes mozzarepas...and did I mention cupcakes?) or b) do a complete sweep of the area before stuffing my piehole (this is easier said than done).

3) Pace yourself
I know this seems obvious, but if you want to make the most of your night without your stomach turning on you, take small bites and big steps. The likelihood that these well-stocked vendors would run out of food are slim to none.

The Savory
One of my favorite festival foods are MozzArepas - essentially two corn pancakes (note: I love anything made with cornmeal) grilled and stuffed with mozzerella cheese in between. A sweet and savory food, this cheesy, greasy delight is something I could eat everyday...which is probably why only eating this once or twice a year at festival time is a good move for me.


mmmmmozzerepas!!!
Next, I sampled some of Kimmi's steak sandwich. This giant $9 sandwich featured crisp, fresh Italian bread (this was Little Italy after all) mozzerella cheese, loads of garlic (yummmm), onions, and steak. Though not necessarily made for walking and eating, this is one sandwich for which I'd be willing to make a quick pitstop.

steak...yummm
The Free
Honestly, there wasn't as much as I'd hoped. Bertolli, the maker's of the olive oil sitting in my pantry, had a booth of freebies featuring brownie squares and Italian bread with...you got it, Bertolli's olive oil.
Kim samples free Bertolli brownies!
The Sweet
The first stand I encountered as I walked up Mulberry (starting at Canal) was none other than Snacky's Slices, Ices, & Fun Foods featuring a glass case with cupcakes galore. Remembering my rule #2, I looked, not tasted. The very nice gentleman behind the counter allowed me to take a picture with the promise that I'd be back after 'dinner' for my cupcake dessert. I stayed true to my promise and returned at the end of the night. I went with my standard, chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and it was worth the wait. 4 oversized cupcakes for $10 (no, I did not eat them all) and lots flavors, like red velvet and Oreo cookie, ultimately made this a successful stop for the end of the night.


Backtrack for a moment...in between the above I abandoned rule #2 and put aside my cupcake promise for the moment. I couldn't help but stop and sample at Stuffed Artisan Cannolis. With 3 mini cannolis for $5 and flavors like birthday cake, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter, pb & j, and pumpkin pie, there was no way I could pass this by. (Note: The only food I love more than cupcakes and peanut butter is pumpkin anything...pie, bread, bars, lattes, cannolis...). Kimmi and I sampled the pumpkin pie, birthday cake, and peanut butter. While the pumpkin pie and birthday cake left a little to be desired, the peanut butter was the clear and deliciously wonderful front runner.

Peanut butter, birthday cake, pumpkin pie

A pumpkin pie cannoli? Fall has arrived!
The last sweet for the night is an item that could not go ignored...Fried Oreos. An Oreo, rolled inside a zeppole, fried to crisp, oily perfection and dotted with confectionery sugar...well it doesn't really get much better than that. Need I say more?


The End
After lots of walking, taste testing and a celebrity sighting or two (...it was Bernadette Peters looking mighty fabulous...), we wrapped up the night with tired legs, full tummy's, and cupcakes in hand. Bottom line? San Gennaro '09 provided lots and lots of fab food, only to be followed by lots and lots of days at the gym. Good thing it only comes once a year...

Memorial Day in Manhattan

Stuck in the city this weekend, but jonesing for grilled meats and cold beer? We've got some in-the-city suggestions for making the most of your Memorial Day weekend! After all, if you can't get out to the burbs for a down home backyard picnic, there's no shame in having a professionally prepared BBQ!

Blue Smoke:
By far one of my favorite NYC spots, Blue Smoke is barbeque with an upscale twist. During my first visit, I over-ordered because I couldn't limit my picks...everything looked that good. Appetizers range from Jack's Fry Bread to Barbeque Chips w/Blue Cheese Dip, and neither should be missed.

Blue Smoke . 116 East 27th Street . 212.447.7733
To be honest, I don't even remember my main course, as it was overshadowed by the apps and side of Mac n Cheese. I'm sure it was delicious though. Anyhow, do not, and I mean DO NOT, skip the Mac n Cheese, as it's the best I've had. Lastly, I have a strange need to try dessert, despite my stomach's otherwise protesting. I recommend the apple crisp. Beware: If you fill yourself with food as I tend to do, you may find it difficult to walk following your meal. Bonus: Jazz Standard, Blue Smoke's own jazz club, is located downstairs for some post dinner entertainment.
Fry Bread w/Chipotle Butter: $5.95
Mac N Cheese: $7.95
Fried Chicken: $18.95
Ribs: $14.95/$22.95

Virgil's:
A sister restaurant of the famed Carmine's chain, Virgil's is down home barbeque at its best (note the napkins are actually hand towels). With wood paneled decor, you'll feel quite relaxed at Virgil's. Featuring ribs, catfish, steaks, and wonderfully pulled pork, you pretty much can't go wrong here.

Virgil's . 152 West 44th Street . 212.921.9668
Don't skip out on the hush puppies with maple butter appetizer ($8.50), as you're unlikely to find better (and if you do, please point me in that direction). For a real holiday weekend barbeque experience, be sure to check out the 4 page beer menu. The only downside? Right in Times Square. But the prices are reasonable (shocking for Times Square) and it's likely to be a relatively slow few days since city dwellers will be fleeing for the weekend.
Hush Puppies: $8.50
Memphis Ribs: $23.50
BBQ Brisket Sandwich: $12.50
Most Beer Options: Under $6

Gyu-Kaku:

Try this barbeque restaurant with a Japanese twist. And the Memorial Day weekend spin? You do the grilling yourself! One of my favorite Village spots, Gyu-Kaku features a grill in the middle of every table.

Gyu-Kaku . 34 Cooper Square . 212.475.2989
Variations include marinated steak, chicken, seafood, and lamb chops. And what barbeque would be complete without s'mores for dessert! I recommend the miso skirt steak, spicy udon noodles, and edamame. Go hungry and order throughout the meal as necessary because, trust me, the more you eat the more you'll want.
Miso Skirt Steak: $10
Garlic Shrimp: $8
Udon Noodles: $9
S'mores: $4