What to Try at Smorgasburg (Brooklyn)


Never have I believed myself to be so lucky until I curiously clicked on Smorgasburg's website after booking an NYC family vacation for my grandmother's eightieth birthday over six months ago. The bolded words, "We're back April 4th!" popped out as I scanned the screen. And then, I rejoiced. I would be in Brooklyn on opening day of the most fabulous food flea market in existence: Smorgasburg. My family of five strategized upon our arrival. We'd tackle long lines by venturing to different stands and, after twenty minutes, gathering in the center to taste and pass. The system was both efficient and hilarious. Below are my favorite bites from the 'burg:

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1. Mozz pops. New to Smorgasborg, Big Mozz x Atlantic Avenue prepares fresh mozzarella onsite and serves it up in different styles. I preferred the "pops:" two quarters of buttery cheese with a side of lemony bright pesto for dipping. A light appetizer for the feast, if you will.

2. Beef short rib. Carnal grills up a massive beef short rib with an unbeatable chimichurri sauce. Slow roasted with bone marrow, the serving is summer savory and completely addictive.


3. Mac & cheese. Milk Truck may be known for their grilled cheeses, but the aged cheddar bechamel bow ties (topped with house made breadcrumbs) are delightful. You can add sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and other delicious ingredients to the mix.


4. Ramen burger. It's the original; and frankly, it's life-changing. Sesame ramen noodles sandwich a fresh ground chuck patty with a shoyo glaze and market fresh vegetables. Who would've thought your college dorm room staple and classic burger could be combined into such greatness.


5. Truffle fries. Home Frite has a 50-person line for a reason: the "crispy fresh" fries kick ass. I am a huge fan of the packaging, which holds the hand-cut potatoes and homemade sauces with mobile ease. Go for the truffle dipping sauce.


6. Chicken parmesan slider. Sunday Gravy keeps it classic with grandmother-made quality chicken parmesan with heavy red sauce and parmesan. Served piping hot on a trendy slider, you'll want a second. Or a third, in our case.

New York State of Mind


Today, I'm jet-setting with the family to the fabulous state of New York for a family (and food) reunion. I've packed my bags with too much black and white. I've narrowed down super long lists of dining options. I'm finally on my way. 569dad87dd009b7cd19167bfc65c1e79

My plans thus far include:

Where else should I try? Leave a comment! I can't wait to share highlights upon my return.


image via eater featured image via theprettyblog.com

Better Ice Creamed

IMG_5228.JPG My darling friend Mary Catherine Hughes is no short of brilliant. She's a woman who wears many hats: A bubbly Southern Belle in New York City, a Broadway star-to-be and Nanny extraordinaire. But when the KitchenAid ice cream attachment turns on, MC brings a whole new level of mastery. Epic mastery.


It's called Better Ice Creamed; "it" being MC's latest hobby and newest business venture, which is easily warming the hearts of freezing New Yorkers despite frozen temperatures outside. The concept is magnificent: Take a delicacy and turn it into ice cream form. It tastes better as ice cream any way...Right? Right. And we're not talking about the ingredients of pumpkin pie (cinnamon or pumpkin spice ice cream), for example. We are talking about literal slices pumpkin pie infused into a creamy vanilla base that Mary Catherine is perfecting daily. Or a cronut-better-ice-creamed and presented to the cronut (croissant + donut) creator, Dominique Ansel.

When MC visited Memphis for the holidays, the ice cream bowl came with her. The two of us conversed via text message throughout December, spitting out random ideas for unique Memphis pint flavors. We came down to three flavors: Prozac (from Muddy's), Bread Pudding (from The Second Line), and Chocolate + Cinnamon Glazed Donut (from Gibson's).

Holy wow.


I missed out on the Prozac chocolate cupcake flavor while in Nashville over Christmas, but the other two surprisingly graced my doorstep last week before she headed back to New York! I couldn't believe my taste buds. The velvety smooth dessert is rich yet so irresistible and memorable. Chef Kelly: Not to offend your current dessert menu, but I'm thinking a Better Ice Creamed version of your scrumptious bread pudding should be on the list!

Now, if only we could figure out standard shipping to Memphis...If you live in New York, lucky you!

Thanks for sharing with me, MC!


Redfarm (NYC)


Anyone enjoy ordering General Tso's Chicken on any Chinese restaurant menu?   Well, the guy who invented that dish owns this restaurant, RedFarm.  Maybe it's just me, but I think that's a pretty big deal.

My family therefore knew that we could trust anything on the menu, so we went all out.  From spicy crispy beef to four different types of dim sum, I was continuously impressed with RedFarm's creative preparation and presentation of organic ingredients.  They truly take innovative Chinese cuisine with "greenmarket sensibility" to a whole new level.

As my father wisely put it, you "feel like you've won the lottery" when your name is called for a table inside the 42-seater restaurant.  Basically, we had to call at 11 a.m. to put our name down for an 8 p.m. reservation on Christmas Day.  And the five of us still didn't sit 'til 9 - and when I say "sit," I mean squeeze in a four-person booth in the corner.

But please, do not let the wait turn you away from the West Village gem.  Clearly, the demand means something.  You will never experience such impeccable Asian fusion cuisine in your lifetime.  I promise.

While I could go on forever about every dish, I'll let you enjoy our meal through photography.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

steamed lobster dumplings with a mushroom ragu

chicken dumplings with basil, cashews, sweet & spicy sauce

diced lamb with chinese broccoli & white asparagus | asparagus, corn, brussel sprouts

shrimp noodle special
mushroom & vegetable spring rolls

katz's pastrami egg roll with dijon mustard dipping sauce

Big Bite of the Big Apple (NYC)


New York City is known as the "Big Apple"—but I ate everything in sight except the apple.

We all know that New York is a food paradise. But I never imagined just how fantastic the food could be until four days and eight restaurants later—from the Bowery to the West Village; from the Meat Packing District to the East Side.

So here's a taste of my New York.

When we landed in the city on Christmas morning, Pulino's in the Bowery was our first stop. Bloody Marys, mussels and creative pasta dishes kept us in the holiday spirit after a long morning of traveling. My favorite was the cappalletti di zucca: a sweet and savory squash-filled pasta with brown butter and pomegranates. Unbelievable.

Chinese food and Jews on Christmas clearly go hand-in-hand; so we just had to check out Zagat's top-rated Chinese spot for 2012. We were five of 42 people in the cozy West Village Red Farm NYC restaurant. And, oh, did this restaurant win the top spot in my book.  The highlight was the Katz's Deli pastrami eggroll with a spicy mustard sauce.  How "New York" is that?! It was so delicious that we had to order another halfway through our meal.

Chelsea Market, if you haven't been, is a gourmet food court of restaurants. I was having trouble deciding which to choose, until I noticed a woman walk by with a full lobster on a paper plate.  Decision made.  The picture below doesn't even do it justice.  The Lobster Place is the way to go.

The award-winning db bistro menu on Wednesday evening brought instant satisfaction before even tasting the dishes, simply because every dish included mushrooms (my favorite)! Their special db burger, stuffed with fois gras and black truffle, melted in your mouth (if you could manage to get your mouth around it!).

Todd English Food Hall, housed in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, was the most overwhelming lunch I’ve had in a while. Why? The “dining hall” set up offered everything from sushi to homemade pastas and salads.  Whoa.

BLT Fish served seafood elegantly and provided a fabulous dining experience, even with a cotton candy finale. The pacific hamachi appetizer matched the avocado and grapefruit with perfection. The cheddar cheese biscuits also hit the spot.  Our waiter provided us with the take-home biscuit recipe, so I'll be sure to whip up some of those before heading back to Austin.

The meat-packing district, a gem of the city I wish I had discovered sooner, became my favorite area for its quiet atmosphere and high-end scene of restaurants and shops. At Fig & Olive, we started with a cucumber martini in the middle of the day.  How fun is vacation!  I kept my eyes peeled for celebrities, since I have heard this was a hot spot; but no luck.  At least the crab salad was tasty.

Hungry yet? Some caramelized critiques are coming your way in the next few weeks! Put these on your list for your next visit to NYC.