Le Beaujolais Nouveau is Arriving at These 6 French Spots

Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

Ten days after the U.S. elections and one week before Thanksgiving, it’s time to celebrate a French holiday for a change: the arrival of the first wine of the season, le Beaujolais Nouveau. As always, it happens on the third Thursday of November, so unless you were up until 2 a.m. celebrating at Bistrot du Coin today’s the day! Here are 10 French restaurants and wine bars marking the occasion around town.

Cafe du Parc at the Willard InterContinental will be offering free George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau along with passed hors d’oeuvres at the bar on Thursday from 5-6pm. Beaujolais will also be available by the glass and as a pairing with a 4-course, prix-fixe dinner at the restaurant upstairs ($65 per person without the pairing, $85 with.)

Le Grenier on H Street will also be pouring complimentary Beaujolais at its bar from 6 to 9 pm on Thursday. 


Beaujolais Nouveau at La JambeBeaujolais is pretty cheap wine, and Chef Cedric Maupillier totally gets that.
 He’ll be offering glasses of the vin primeur for $10 a glass ($7 at the bar during happy hour) and $25 a bottle throughout his Shaw restaurant ConvivialAround the corner from Convivial, my new favourite wine bar, La Jambe is celebrating the 2016 harvest with $9 glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau ($16 for two until supplies last so make it a wine date!) which will pair perfectly with owner Anastasia Mori’s homemade charcuterie. Petworth Citizen will also be pouring some Jean Paul Brun, but they don’t have Anastasia’s rillettes though…. 

Le Beaujolais Nouveau will also arrive at Central Michel Richard, where Domaine Dupeuble – Beaujolais Nouveau will be poured (and paired with Coq au Vin!) from Thursday to Saturday. 

Coq au vin and Beaujolais at Central Michel Richard

Across the pond in Old Town, Virginia, Michelle and Christophe Poteaux have crafted a fabulous three or four course menu ($39 and $49 respectively) at Bastille, designed to pair with a Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais, which will be offered for $9 a glass or $32 a bottle. (ps: Domaine Manoir du Carra has a Beaujolais rosé which you should absolutely try if you can get your hands on it!!) 

Last year’s Beaujolais Nouveau release happened just on the heels of the Paris attacks when gunmen and suicide bombers hit the bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. It was a little difficult mustering the usual enthusiasm that accompanies the celebration. So I’m really looking forward to it this year and you’ll find me, as usual, celebrating with dear friends at home parties rather than out and about. Will you be celebrating the release of the new 2016 harvest this year?

 

Drink all the French Bubbles at DC’s First Champagne Week

DC Champagne WeekIf you missed Champagne Day on October 21, don’t worry! Champagne shouldn’t be celebrated in a day anyway, it clearly deserves its own week! At least that’s what my friends Jess and Alison thought. These two wine pros are throwing DC’s first ever Champagne Week, from Sunday November 6 to Thursday November 12.

The idea for DC Champagne Week started off small. Jess runs Young Winos of DC, a group that connects people in the District with wine tastings and events. She reached out to Alison, who runs her own wine consulting business Bon Vivant DC, to partner up on a champagne focused event. Jess jokes that Alison took a small idea and blew it up, but Alison retorts that Jess never would’ve reached out to her if she wanted something low key 😉 Before long, Alison was in Champagne attending le Printemps des Champagnes, the weeklong industry festival (you can read more about her trip to Paris and Champagne here). While there, she was able to meet producers, other champagne event producers and came back with a better understanding of what a champagne week might look like in DC. Right away, Alison had a vision of a grand tasting like the ones she just experienced at the Printemps des Champagnes and everything grew from there…

Champagne Week DCSo what can you expect from DC Champagne Week? Here’s a run-down of the events:

The event will feature an elite lineup of champagne houses including Pol Roger, Gosset, Pierre Paillard, Charles Heidsieck, A.R. Lenoble, Canard-Duchêne, J de Telmont, Heucq Pere & Fils, and selections from the Terry Theise champagne portfolio. Select cuvées will be available for purchase throughout DC Champagne Week at Calvert Woodley, a fabulous wine shop and the event retail partner. You can find out more about DC Champagne Week right here and I definitely hope I’ll be seeing you at some of the events!!

Santé!! 

Drink Your Way Through Election Season at Bastille & ENO Wine Bar

It’s a time honoured tradition in Washington, DC. We like to drink. We like politics… so every election cycle, whether it’s the primaries or the general, local bars come up with politically-themed cocktails. If you’re like me and less than thrilled with your options this year (not that I can vote anyway), I’m sure you can use a stiff drink, or five, with a cheesy name poking fun at the candidates. I love it, especially when an awesome French restaurant gets involved. 

Bastille is one of my favourite French restaurant in the city… well, technically it’s not in the city but right outside in Alexandria, VA. It’s definitely worth a metro ride to Braddock Road though, and that’s saying a lot given how bad WMATA is these days!! There’s 47 days until Americans head to the polls (and 59 until I do! That’s right, I get to vote in November too, but in the French Republican presidential primary). With election season in full swing, Bastille has designed a cocktail for each candidate, even the long shot ones like the Green Party’s Dr. Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson

Deluded little Manhattan cocktail at Bastille Restaurant

“Deluded Little Manhattan” with Korbel Brandy, Dolin Rouge, Dolin Dry + Belle Orange Absinthe Rinse

The Crooked Cocktail features Dewar's White Label, lemon cordial, Allspice Dram garnished with lemon peel and a cherry

The Crooked Cocktail features Dewar’s White Label, lemon cordial, Allspice Dram garnished with lemon peel and a cherry

My favourite of the five different cocktails offered is the “I Vote Canada.” Leave it to a French restaurant to come up with none-of-the-above option, bien sur 😉

I vote Canada! (flee the country vote) cocktail at Bastille Restaurant wth Crown Royal, lime juice, a dash of Allspice Dram and Angostura bitters.

I vote Canada! (flee the country vote) cocktail at Bastille Restaurant with Crown Royal, lime juice, a dash of Allspice Dram and Angostura bitters.

Regardless of who wins the election, Canada always seems like a good idea to me!! Each cocktail is priced at $10 and from October 4th through November 8th, the restaurant will keep a tally, or “straw poll” if you will, based on popular demand. Will the results match those at the ballot box? I guess only time will tell!! 

Of course, Bastille is hardly the only bar offering its boozy take on the presidential race. Like I said, this is a time honoured tradition in the city, and pretty much every bar is getting in on the pun-tastic action. 701 Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue got inspired by the candidates’ slogans to create “Make America Grape Again” and the “I’m With Her” (both $12). Shaw’s Mexican eatery Espita Mezcaleria and the Oval Room are all about that wall, with “The Wall” (mezcal, Campari, orange juice and soda – $11) and the “Build That Wall” (Muscat Grape purée, spiced honey syrup, Champagne vinegar – $12) respectively. So far, I don’t think the newly open Trump International Hotel bar at BLT Prime by David Burke is doing anything, but Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons Hotel is. And for election 2016, the Georgetown establishment is not picking sides and throwing it back to past Commanders-in Chief instead. Head bartender Torrence Swain crafted four specialty presidential cocktails inspired by the drinking preferences of James Buchanan, Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower. At $20, those are pricier, but $5 from the sale of each former president-inspired cocktail will go to the nonpartisan organization Nonprofit Vote, which aims to assist other organizations integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. If you’re more of a wine person like I am, the hotel’s wine bar, ENO, has something for you too! From now until election day, you can select one of two presidential candidate inspired flights, each priced at $20 and featuring wines from locations significant to each party’s nominee. 

Presidential Candidate Wine Flight at ENO Wine Bar - Picture Courtesy of ENO Wine Bar

Presidential Candidate Wine Flight at ENO Wine Bar – Picture Courtesy of ENO Wine Bar

The Clinton “I’m With Her” flight features white wines from New York state, where Clinton served as senator for eight years and include:

No Arkansas wine? Shocking lol. Meanwhile, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” flight features red wines from New York and Pennsylvania, where Trump attended University:

I must say I’m a little surprise that flight doesn’t include any wine from the real estate mogul’s own winery in Virginia… Putting two Pennsylvania wines on there seems to guarantee no one is going to order it… which might be the point I guess? Both flights will be available from October 1–November 8, and the winner’s flight will be served through Inauguration Day.

Have you spotted any other fun election-themed gimmicks at bars and restaurants around the city? Or wherever you live… I know it’s corny, but I kinda love it, especially since picking a drink or wine flight is the closest I’ll get to voting in the US elections 😉 

 

Weekend Highlights: Flower Crowns, Mucha and Football

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? After keeping a low profile last weekend and throughout most of the week (I’ve had the worst cold!) I made up for lost time and had quite a wonderful 3-day weekend. It all started with rosé and flowers on Friday. 

One of the best part about having friends from different parts of the world is learning about their culture and traditions (oh, and the amazing food too!) On Friday, my friend Bianca showed us how the Finns celebrate summer solstice. Midsommar is one of the most important national holiday in Finland (and it’s a big deal in many other Nordic countries too.) While her rooftop does have a fire pit, we didn’t light any kokko (bonfires) to keep evil spirits away but we did drink some snap and make midsommarkrans,  beautiful DIY flower crowns using string, birch and of course, flowers. Check us out being all crafty!

Making flower crowns for midsommar

Celebrating Finnish midsommar

Almost as good as the snapchat filter isn’t it? ps: speaking of, you can follow more of my day-to-day on snapchat (<– click on the link, or username laetitiabrock).

Saturday, I escaped the city with my friends Olga of MangoTomato and Nicole of Hapatite. We headed to Winchester, a quaint little town tucked away in the Northwest part of Virginia, about an hour and a half away from Washington. 

They love all things apple in WinchesterWinchester, Virginia

Winchester, Virginia

What prompted our mini road trip was an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley though we snuck in some shopping in the city’s Loudoun Street Mall and some good eating at One Block West, a fabulous little restaurant, and Red Fox Creamery! And while we had to rush through them a bit because they were prepping up for a wedding, I *loved* the gardens at the museum, almost more than I loved the collection inside!

Alphone Mucha exhibit

The Chinese Garden at the Shenandoah Valley MuseumGardenThe Chinese garden at the Shennandoah Valley Museum

On the way back, we stopped by Wild Hare Cidery for a quick tasting then found our wine (as well as fabulous views!) at Bluemont Vineyard

Bluemont Vineyard

With France playing its 8th of final game bright and early at 9AM on Sunday, I had pretty much written the day off, at least as far as getting anything done beside watching football was concerned. I was a little worried about my choice of venue for the match… Fado’s is one of the best spot to watch football in the city, but we picked it BEFORE knowing that we would be facing Ireland 😉  Things weren’t looking too good when the boys in green scored within the first few minutes but luckily Griezmann was there to save the day and I’m looking forward to cheering on Les Bleus in the quarter finals next weekend (and then hopefully in France for the semis and finals!).

Allez les bleus

Keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll face Iceland, I’ve loved following their Euro Cup Cinderella story… and I’d rather not face England too. Have you been following either the Copa America or the Euro Cup? You’d almost never know there’s a major international soccer tournament that just wrapped up in the US… I feel like it’s barely gotten any coverage 😦 

We’ll be watching the game at Penn Social on Sunday with a bunch of other expats so don’t hesitate to join us! Is it bad that I’m already looking forward to next weekend? Between the July 4th holiday and all the football, it’s going to be another good one!

Yes way {Languedoc} Rosé

It’s *finally* rosé weather in Washington, DC this week and I’m excited to start digging into the stack of pink bottles I’ve accumulated while we experienced a record number of rainy days. I’m extremely biased towards French wines in general, but especially when it comes to rosés, and I always gravitate towards Provençal rosés. Occasionally, I’ll venture outside of Provence and pick up a bottle of new world rosé (I’m a big fan of Early Mountain’s rosé right now.) But most of the time, venturing out means looking a little South West along the Mediterranée to the Languedoc-Roussillon. Sandwiched between Provence and Spain, the Languedoc is actually France’s biggest wine region, with a bit over 200,000 hectares of vines, but it’s not as prestigious as some of the other regions so you can find some great value bottles. 

One of my favourite AOP is the region is Corbières, located between the cities of Carcassonne, Perpignan and Béziers where I happen to have family members. It’s the most reputable AOP in the Languedoc and produces spicy full body red wine, and delicate rosés. This past week, I’ve enjoyed a delightful  bottle from the Domaine Montfin, which you can pick up from Weygandt Wines here in Washington, D.C.  

Domaine Montfin Corbieres Rosé

I also enjoyed a bottle of Domaine Sainte-Eugenie, purchased at my local wine store, Eye Street Cellar. Both wines were definitely brighter in hues than a typical pale provençal rosé but offer the right acidity and floral overtones to prevent them from being too fruity. In anticipation of Languedoc Day on May 27, I was sent two additional bottles of Languedoc AOP rosés, a 2015 Domaine Tour Boisée Minervois and a 2015 Chateaux de Lascaux Garrigue rosé which made for a pretty fun line-up of wines to try with my girlfriends on a rare warm evening last week. 

Rosés from the L:anguedoc

Let’s start with the Tour Boisée, from the Minervois region, just north of Corbières. Wines there are similar, meaning you’ll find full bodied reds, slightly fruity rosés but also some dry whites. The pale rosé is 40% Grenache, 20% Cinsault, 20% Mourvèdre and 20% Syrah and a perfect complement to a warm summer evening and barbecue! Finally, the Garrigue rosé, which is the pricier of all the wines mentioned in this post (don’t worry, you should still be able to find it for under $15!). It’s from the Côteaux du Languedoc region, a much smaller AOP than Corbières (now known simply as Languedoc AOP) but where the wines are rather varied ranging from dry whites like the super affordable Picpoul de Pinet to more robust reds. The vineyards of Château de Lascaux have been in the family for 13 generations, are farmed organically and are some of the most well known from the region. The rosé is another delightful, light sipper very much in line with what you would expect from a southern French rosé.

As I mentioned, Friday May 27th is Languedoc Day. Last year I picked up bottles in each “colour,” red, white and something in between. The region also produces some simple bubblies like Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux. This year, because I’m craving all the rosé (and the weather that goes with it!), I went all pink for this post! Whether you want to branch out from Provençal rosés for a bit and/or are looking for similar light and dry wine, look a little bit south to the Languedoc AOP. I think you’ll be happy you did!

Happy National Wine Day by the way!! 

*Benson Marketing Group sent me a bottle of 2015 Domaine Tour Boisée Minervois and the 2015 Chateaux de Lascaux Garrigue rosé. All opinions expressed are my own nonetheless.*

 

Weekend Highlights: Street Art, Rain, Rosé and my Cat in a Hat

It was another rainy weekend 😦 I’m sure you’re just as tired of this dreary weather as I am. We did get a bit of a break on Friday so I jumped at the opportunity to rosé (that’s a verb right? lol) with a few girlfriends on my roof. With #LanguedocDay coming up on May 27th, I thought it would be fun to focus try different pink wines from that part of France. 

Rosé from the Languedoc region

I already had a bottle of Chateau Lascaux AOC Languedoc rosé 2015 and a La Tour Boisee 2015 Minervois rosé that had been sent to me by a publicist and I picked up a bottle of Domaine Sainte Eugenie 2015 Corbieres rosé at my local wine shop Eye Street Cellars to round up the tasting. I love rosé and I’m especially biased towards those from Provence (I mean, my grandparents lived in Bandol afterall…) but I also  very much enjoy those from the Languedoc Roussillon region, which also borders the Mediterranean and extends from Provence to the Spanish border and the Pyrenées mountains. Most of the wines produced in the regions are great value wines so you should definitely pick up a bottle this week and open it on Friday to celebrate #LanguedocDay!

Saturday was another rain-fest but I did venture out to NoMa to check out the opening celebrations for Pow! Wow! DC. Pow! Wow! is a curated murals festival and global network of artists that started as a street art festival in Hong Kong and Hawaii. Under the direction of local creative Kelly Towles, 19 street artists from all over the world like INSA from London or Caratoes from Hong Kong will bring 7 new murals to walls in NorthEast Washington over the next week. I can’t wait to see all the finished murals so let’s hope they all get a bit of a reprise from the rain! 

Pow wow street art festival in Washington DC

 

I didn’t stay too long at the opening celebration since it was outdoors (not super fun in the cold rain) and I had plans to meet up with Mardi Michels from eat. live. travel. write. Mardi is one of the very first blogger I really followed, especially on social media, and it was super fun to finally meet her in person after all these years of online friendship. She was in town for a fun conference on writing your own cookbook organized by Smithsonian Associates. They always throw the best events, like the really cool panel and wine tasting for the 40th anniversary of the “judgement of Paris!” We had a few cocktails at China Chilcano (the five spice old fashioned is my fave there!) and it was so lovely to hang out with her. She’s walking parts of the camino de Santiago this summer, which my husband and I are planning on doing in 2019 (yes, I’m planning that far ahead!) and I can’t wait to follow along her walking adventures!

I went from meeting someone I felt I have known for years to celebrating with a friend I have actually known for years. Colleen is one of my oldest friends here in the District, we met in grad school at the George Washington University, around the same time that I met my husband and she was a witness at our civil ceremony. Well, she recently got engaged to a guy that’s not only great, but also happens to be French! He proposed during a recent cruise of the Mediterranean and it was lovely to celebrate the happy news with both of them and some of their other close friends. 

Colleen and Tarek are engaged!

 

I may have celebrated a little too much and Sunday I did NOTHING. Except watch the rain from inside my warm apartment and give my cat way more attention than she wanted. But I  mean, how cute is that hat? 

Cat in the hat
And I’m obsessed with the cat filter on snapchat filter!! Speaking of snapchat… are we friends yet? My username is laetitiabrock (<– click here!).

cat

How was your weekend? How tired of all this rain are you? 

5 Things I Ate While I Was in Chicago

Another week, another express work-cation, this time to Chicago in the mid-west. I’d been to Chicago a few times before, including for a hot 16 hours last July 4 and back in 1994 during one of my very first trip to the United States. Despite having a lot of meetings, I tried to squeeze in as much sight-seeing as I could in 36 hours, including catching the Van Gogh’s Bedrooms exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. And eating of course… Here are some of my favourites from my express “work-cation” in Chicago: 

LIQUID ENERGY AT INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE

First things first after a 6AM flight from Reagan to O’Hare, I needed caffeine! But not just any coffee would do. I wanted some Intelligentsia Coffee since the roasting company started and is still based in Chicago. Bonus, their location at 53 East Randolph Street is around the corner from Millennial Park so I got the chance to squeeze in a little sight-seeing too! 

Intelligentsia Coffee at the Bean

Intelligentsia Coffee has many locations across town, including 53 E Randolph Street, 1609 W Division Street, 3123 North Broadway and 2642 N Milwaukee Avenue.

 

POTATO DUMPLINGS AT PIEROGI HEAVEN

As many as 1.5 million Chicagoan claim Polish ancestry and Chicago bills itself as the largest Polish city outside of Poland. Pierogis, delightfully doughy Eastern European dumplings, are pretty easy to find around town. For a quick lunch, I headed to Pierogi Heaven in the loop, a hole in the wall kinda spot that’s popular with nearby office workers. You can choose from 11 different pierogi fillings, all of which come with fried onions, bacon and sour cream. I polished off a plate of potato cheddar dumplings, with extra sour cream and a cup of hot red borsch. 

Potato and cheddar dumplings at Pierogi Heaven

Pierogi Heaven is located at 169 North Wells Street

GARRETT MIX AT GARRETT POPCORN

On paper, cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn don’t sound like they’d mix well together. But in a bucket of Garrett Popcorn, the salty-sweet combo known as Garrett Mix® is one of the most addictive thing you’ll ever eat. This staple Chicago food counts a lot of fan… Oprah listed it as one of her “favourite things” on a couple of occasions, President Obama gave a tin to Vice President Biden for his birthday and Beyonce herself declared it Deeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrricious” on instagram. I never leave Chicago without a bag 😉 

Garrett Mix at Garrett Popcorn Garrett PopcornThere are many locations of Garrett Popcorn, including one at151 North Michigan Avenue by Millennium Park, 625 North Michigan Avenue and 2 at O’Hare airport (there’s one at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City too…)

CONFIT GOAT BELLY AT GIRL AND THE GOAT

Stephanie Izard’s Girl and the Goat inevitably comes up every time I ask anyone for restaurant recommendations in Chicago. So this trip, I actually made my way there! Forty five minutes and one “my little kumquat” cocktail later, I finally snagged a seat at one corner of the bar. I definitely blew my per-diem on that meal, but it was SO worth it. Everything I had from the kohlrabi salad with fennel, evalon, toasted almonds, autumn crisp apple and shiitake mushrooms to the goat carpaccio and the goat cheesecake with pretzel cream and beer caramel was amazing. But the real standout of the evening can be summarized in 4 words: Bourbon. Butter. Poached. Lobster. As if that didn’t sound amazing enough, that was just the side for a confit goat belly, which also came with a fennel puree and fennel salad (I’ve been really into fennel lately.) No wonder everyone and their mothers has been raving about Girl and the Goat 😉 

Bourbon butter poached lobster and goat belly confit at Girl and the Goat

Girl and the Goat is located at 809 W Randolph street. There’s now a Little Goat Diner right across the street too that offers more casual food, as well as breakfast all day.

ROASTED BONE MARROW AT THE PURPLE PIG

I talked my colleagues into squeezing in a late lunch/early happy hour at the Magnificent Mile gastropub The Purple Pig, I couldn’t convince them to try the roasted bone marrow with sicilian sea salt and herb salad (with Italian parsley, thin-sliced white onions and capers) smear. More for me right? Right!! It was a beautiful, warm day in Chicago so we ate outside, sorta overlooking the river. And of course, warm sunny days call for rosé, and the bone marrow paired perfectly with a glass of Scea Andre Roux Clos Cibonne côtes de provence. Sadly, my colleagues are not as adventurous eaters as I am and I really couldn’t justify ordering the pig’s ears on top of the bone marrow… I guess I’ll have to go back and eat my way through more of the decadent meat-centered menu at The Purple Pig

Roasted Bone Marrow Smear at The Purple Goat

The Purple Pig is located at 500 N. Michigan Avenue.

I also found a little time to swing by the stunning Palmer House. Now owned by Hilton, it’s the oldest hotel in the city and claims to be where brownies were invented. The Palmer House Brownie with walnuts and an apricot glaze (check out the recipe in Epicurious) is still served at the hotel’s restaurant and bar. 

Palmer House ceciling

Since I can’t eat chocolate, I settled for another local favourite, a quick Goose Island Honkers Ale, which I enjoyed under the magnificent ceiling fresco by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal. Not a bad spot to wrap up the trip!

*                    *                    *                    *                    *

I think I did pretty good in less than 36 hours Where would be your five foodie stops or top foodie bites if you were to spend a few days in Chicago?

Postcard from NYC: 5 Things I Ate Last Week

Other than a week in Portugal for Thanksgiving, I don’t have a lot of trips planned this year. At least not fun trips… So I’m determined to make the most out every single work trip I have, starting with the one I just took last week to New York City. And that, of course, includes enjoying some good eats around town. There’s no shortage of restaurants in Manhattan. If anything the options are limitless and a bit overwhelming when you don’t have a lot of free time. Since I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown many of the spots I ended up at are concentrated in that part of town. Here are some of my favourite eats from my last “work-cation” in New York City: 

ALL THE PINK PASTRIES AT DOMINIQUE ANSEL

I’ve been a fan of Dominique Ansel since before the whole cronut craze. I actually arrived in New York on Valentine’s Day so my first stops were Ladurée and Dominique Ansel, conveniently located right around the corner from each other in SoHo. Every year on February 14, the French pâtissier turns his entire pastry case pink. I grabbed two of the chestnut-cassis-rose Mont Blanc, two Paris-New York (a twist on the classic Paris-Brest) and the most amazing caramel eclairs with pink Himalayan salt. All were pink, of course, and all were amazing! 

Valentine's day at Dominique AnselValentine's day at Dominique AnselDominique Ansel Bakery is located at 189 Spring St.

 

HIBISCUS DONUTS FROM DOUGH DOUGHNUTS

In keeping with the pink theme, I loved this ginormous hibiscus donut from Dough Doughnuts. Luckily for me, Urban Space Vanderbilt just opened a stone’s throw away from the Roosevelt Hotel and Grand Central Station. The new food hall boasts fare from 21 different food purveyors like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Roberta’s or Kuro-Obi (from the team behind Ippudo ramen, a fabulous ramen spot in Manhattan). Between Toby’s EstateOvenly and Dough Doughnuts my mornings pretty much always started right (and early… good thing UrbanSpace opens its doors at 6:30AM!) After trying the pistachio cardamom bread from Ovenly, I’m a new fan of the Brooklyn bakery and I’m definitely planning to visit their cafe on Greenpoint avenue during another trip, when I have a little more free time.

Hibiscus doughnut from Dough Bakery

UrbanSpace Vanderbilt is at 45th St. & Vanderbilt Ave, in The Helmsley Building 

 

MISO RAMEN AT TOTTO’S RAMEN

The first time I made my parents wait over an hour outside of the tiny Hell’s Kitchen ramen restaurant for a bowl of soup, they weren’t too impressed (by the wait at least). But we’ve been going back to Totto Ramen ever since. I caught a later train back to Washington, DC so that I could attend a taping of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. You can read more about that here… when I had a quick hour and a half to kill between lines at the Ed Sullivan theater, I headed straight to Totto. This is one of the best spot for ramen in Manhattan and the Miso Paiten soup with ground pork, half boiled egg, scallions and char siu was just what I needed to warm up!  

Miso Paiten from Totto Ramen

Totto Ramen is located at 366 W 52nd St.

 

EVERYTHING AT IZAKAYA MEW

A basement in the middle of k-town is probably not where you’d expect an authentic Japanese izakaya but there it is! Izakaya Mew is actually a really popular late night spot and there’s usually a consequential wait to get a table, but I was able to snag a spot at the (tiny) bar since I was dining solo. It’s probably not the best spot actually if you’re eating alone since there’s only 6 seats at the bar and no television or bar tenders to distract you but the food is amazing and varied ranging from raw fish starters (called toriaezu or while you wait…) to hot pots, grilled skewers or gyoza, grilled seafood, noodles, ramen and sushi rolls. I tried the pumpkin roll since I had never seen something like that on a menu before, the grilled hokke fish (I *love* mackerel) and shishito pepper and the shime saba (told you I love mackerel). I washed everything down with a 300 ml bottle of Itami Onigoroshi, which kinda confused my waiter… Apparently, he thought I should have ordered a bigger bottle but I thought that was pretty good all by myself 😉

Charred shishito peppers at Izakaya Mew

Izakaya Mew is located in the basement of 53 W 35th Street.

 

THE NOVA SCOTIA BAGEL FROM MIKE’S BAGELS

For the record, I am and will always be team Montreal when it comes to bagels… but, you know, when in New York…. I happened to be in West Harlem/Washington Heights checking out some of the Audubon Mural Project street art and ordered Mike’s Nova Scotia (still gotta give Canada some love!) bagel, an everything bagel, toasted, with lox, red onions, capers, tomato & scallion cream cheese. It was almost enough to convert me. Almost… #TeamMontrealBagel

The Nova Scotia Bagel from Mike's Bagel

Mike’s Bagel is located at 4003 Broadway (at the 168th street metro)

 

BONUS: ALL THE WINE AT LA COMPAGNIE DES VINS SUPERNATURELS

I really wanted to check out this wine bar in SoHo, especially since I never got a chance to go to the Experimental Cocktail Club before it closed. Here’s a little background. Paris, and France in general, isn’t known for its cocktail culture (unless you count a kir royal as a cocktail…) but Frenchmen Romée de Goriainoff, Olivier Bon, and Pierre-Charles Cros sparked the new wave of the craft cocktail trend when they opened the insanely hard to get into speakeasy l’Experimental Cocktail Club in the Sentier neighbourhood in Paris. That spot was followed by a few others, including Beef Club which makes a mean steak tartare. They gave it a shot in New York City, but their location is currently closed for relocation. But they also opened a wine bar last year (there’s one in Paris as well, rue Lobineau in the 6eme, and in Neal’s Yard in London).

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels - New York, NY Picture courtesy of Experimental events

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels – New York, NY Picture courtesy of  the Experimental Group

There’s a selection of 600 wines, with a strong emphasis on French ones, and most of the by-the-glass options are poured using an Enomatic wine dispenser. If you know your wines, try the mystery wine, a $15-ish unidentified glass of wine that you can correctly guess to win the whole bottle (typically in the $100 price point). Try it!!! 

La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is located at 249 Centre St. in SoHo. 

                                 *                    *                    *                    *                    *

I’m going back to New York for another (even shorter and busier) workation in April… any recommendations??? Those in midtown are always particularly appreciated 😉

 

It’s the Most Boozytiful Time of The Year

Mad props to my good friend Colleen who made this awesome wine advent calendar for her office. OK, yes, it helps that she works in the wine industry… but still, I think we all agree this is THE best way to countdown to Christmas day!

Picture courtsey of Colleen V. for International Cellars Inc.

Picture courtesy of Colleen V. for International Cellars Inc.

I’ve seen a lot of super original and cute advent calendar inspiration online this season, but this one is by far my favourite!! Every day until the 25th, International Cellars will be highlighting a different wine and region with a bottle from their advent calendar so make sure to follow them. And if you’re looking to make your own wine advent calendar (it’s not too late right?) World Market has a great tutorial (and sells the wine rack you need to make it, of course!)  Make sure the last bottle is champagne that you’ll toast Christmas with!! Cheers! 

Beaujolais Nouveau Cranberry Sauce

There are two celebrations I particularly look forward to at the end of November. Both owe their dates, on the third Thursday and last Thursday of November, to laws in their respective countries. I’m of course referring to France’s Beaujolais Nouveau celebration and the United States’ Thanksgiving. Thanks to some rather brilliant promotion from Beaujolais’ PR people, the purple-pink Gamay wine is now often paired with turkey, stuffing etc. at tables across the country. This year, I decided to combine the two holidays in one festive dish: a Beaujolais Nouveau cranberry sauce. Since the recipe only requires about a cup of wine, it’s a perfect way to finish off a bottle!

Beaujolais Nouveau cranberry sauce

 For one 12oz pack of cranberries you’ll want to use:
  • 3/4 cup of Beaujolais Nouveau (of course, another fruity red wine works too…)
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice or 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

Start by combining the sugar, red wine, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Once the mixture is boiling, add the cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries begin to pop, which should take about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch and the orange juice or zest and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the cranberries are soft and the sauce has thickened to an almost jam-like consistency.

Beaujolais Nouveau cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce can be served chilled or at room temperature, but you’ll still want to let it rest for a bit before serving.  Cranberry sauce can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, which works perfectly with the timing of both celebrations! No wonder Beaujolais Nouveau and Thanksgiving are such a perfect pairing!