earth day

Central Park, 105th st and Fifth Ave...a garden worth visiting... which my friend Maya and I did today...a couple shots to honor the earth...which creates the most amazing things in a way we can't fully understand...

Raise a glass to EARTH DAY!

Unbelievably, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day arrives on April 22. It is your civic and earthly duty to do something—why not involve the only USDA certified organic tequila? Casa Noble and La Sierra Agave Nectar makes the perfect couple, both extracted from the hearts of same agave piñas. You’d be wise to stock up the ingredients now, pull together some buddies, and have each make a commitment to the environment to adhere to for the year. Mother Earth will thank you!
Casa Noble Organic Margarita
2 oz Casa Noble Crystal
1 oz fresh lime juice (or the juice of 1 whole lime)
¾ oz La Sierra agave nectar
Kosher salt for rim (optional)
If using salt, moisten rim of glass with lime and gently roll in a plate of kosher salt. Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, strain and serve up or on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wheel.


Giddy-UP for the Kentucky Derby @ Eleven Madison Park

Esquire Magazine is teaming up with 11 Madison Park to host the 2nd Annual Kentucky Derby Celebration on Saturday, May 1st, from 3 to 7pm. Tickets are going fast for this four-hour event featuring Chef Daniel Humm’s southern-styled goodies, raw bar, classic cocktails, Nat Sherman cigar lounge and a live blue-grass band. Last year’s 350 guests included hosts Danny Meyer and Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Granger, Daniel Boulud, NY Jets Darelle Revis, and many of whom dolled themselves up in fancy hats and attire, which is, naturally, encouraged. I have already purchased some gaily-colored flowers to attach to my orange hat—if only there were a hat contest!  Tickets are $175 per person. To purchase, send an email to derby@elevenmadisonpark.com. A silent auction, which always brings out the competitive spirit in me, will benefit New York Horse Rescue, whose mission is to prevent the inhumane treatment of injured, abused, and unwanted horses. Awwww....

Gourmet Surprises on Third Avenue, Part One: PONTY

The swath of Third Avenue between 23rd and 14th is a haven of Irish bars, fast food joints, and nail salons. I’m not complaining, yet do welcome a respite from this. Thankfully, there are a few gems nestled in you could easily overlook. Allow me to point them out, one at a time.
There is a little joint named Ponty, which happens to have a pair of first-class chefs. Cisse Elhadji and cousin Chekh Cisse have worked at top restaurants around the city, incuding Daniel, Café Boulud, Vong and Mercer Kitchen. You might recognize “Cisse” from his dramatic bout on Chopped! (and the ensuing commmercials for the show) “When Chefs Collide,” Season 3. The cousins saved up their pennies to create this cozy little neighborhood nook—and are as nice as can be. Whether you go for breakfast and savor one of the omellettes (like I had today, with the freshest goat cheese and spinach, paired with tiny cubes of potatoes and sweet crunchy bits of red and green peppers) or the Lobster Eggs Benedict (part of the unbeatable $15 Brunch special, which includes cocktail, and super-tasty lobster) you cannot go wrong. Evenings take on a different vibe, with the flavors of Senegal fused with modern takes on sophisticated French and Mediterranean cuisine. On Friday and Saturday nights the kitchen is open til 2 am. Did I mention the 2 for 1 martinis? Stop in and try one of their 9 potent offerings: French, Apple, Bissap, Lychee, Cosmopolitan, Chocolate, Passion Fruit, Raspberry, and the Ponty Fresh Ginger. At two for $12 it’s a deal that’s hard to beat. See you there! (third between 18/19)
Stay tuned for more neighborhood reports...

San Rocco’s 3-hour happy hour

When Italy does happy hour, you can be sure that there is food involved. The tradition of Apertivo is how Italians wind down after work—with a glass of wine and buffet of snacks. San Rocco NY is bringing Italy’s way of doing things to its place on 24th street. Pair your glass of wine, beer or cocktail with a fab selection of delicious Italian snacks. On my visit, I felt like I was actually in Italy, as the owners and staff all spoke Italian—and were handsome and stylish to boot! There’s a great outdoor seating area, plus three rooms with distinct atmospheres and wild artwork to admire while you sip away. The complimentary Apertivo Bar happens every night from 6 to 9. Milanese owner Rocco Arena invited Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills, to create the signature cocktails—which you can see photos of, plus the snacks I sampled here. Check out the website to find out about the first-Wednesday-of-the month parties, which are astrologically themed.


cat lovers go MOD!

Modkat has taken the mess and inconvenience of out dealing with the of realities of having cats as housemates. Designers, Brett Teper and Rich Williams, cat owners themselves, have tested and worked out every aspect of the litter box, from the scooper to the litter bag material. Not only does this design prevent litter from being scattered about, it also prevents other pets (dogs) from (ahem) interfering! Most importantly, it is not an embarrassment to have about. Seeing is believing, cats love it—check out the user-submitted videos of their cat’s reactions on the website.

CHOCOLATE, circulate this!

Could you believe in chocolate that’s good for your circulation? The makers of Cirku have developed a method of processing chocolate that keeps most of the flavanols intact—the active component in cocoa, tea, and wine that helps maintain healthy circulation. Their cocoa comes in individually wrapped packets, sweetened or unsweetened, that you can add to water, a smoothie, or to a cup of coffee, my prefered method. After you have tasted it you will not believe it has only 30 calories! (think Ovaltine, but more intense) Mars Botanical, the company behind this product, works sustainably and consciously with Indonesian farmers bringing environmental, economic and social benefits to their communities. Once you are hooked, they make being healthy an easy process. When you sign up for the Auto-ship Program, you will receive a monthly delivery of 28 packets, with free shipping for life.

kitchen + cocktails: Orson Salicetti's Art of Mixology

To experience cocktails enriched with fresh spices, tasty little bites—and a few surprises—head over to Covet, a newly opened club in midtown. Orson Salicetti’s new gig, the Art of Mixology, created the unique flavor combinations for this sexy, dark, underground space. My Laurel (photo above) was mixed with an aged rum and accented with bay leaf and allspice. I would put this into the manly category. Ladies can raise an elegant toast with the  Rose Champagne cocktail, which is a bit more potent than it sounds, having Champagne, Vodka, Lime, Agave, Aloe Vera, baby rose reduction and a red rose garnish as its ingredients. See more photos from the launch party and other cocktails (like the intriguingly-titled Tickle My Pickle) here.

Packed at Pulino’s

A wall of liquor and a beehive of activity greeted me a few weeks back upon entering Pulino’s in its opening week. It was amazing to think that the place was new, with the pre-patina’d decor and restaurant already at full capacity, the place seemed to have the absorbed energy of a 100-year old, neighborhood establishment. Vera and I happily sampled the cauliflower floret special, a fennel salad and mushroom wood-oven pizza, while Keith McNally, stationed in a corner booth, was working away (photo below). The servers made a great effort to make sure that you enjoyed your stay. See more photos of the space and food here.


Gourmet Latino: Featuring the Flavors of Latin America

Start preparing for a week-long celebration of the best in Latin gastronomy and culture as the weather starts to heat up. This June, from the 4th through the 12th, Gourmet Latino will feature events at Astor Center and at restaurants in NYC and surrounding areas. In addition to offering the best tastes of the Latin world, this festival is dedicated to being a socially conscious celebration. They are partnering with GrowNYC, the Rainforest Alliance and the Fair Trade Federation to ensure the festival will be a benefit to all involved. Street teams will be appearing around town, giving out exotic fruit samples, in lieu of paper handouts. How refreshing! For a schedule of events, information on participating chefs, mixologists, and restaurants visit www.gourmetlatinofestival.com. Tickets are already on sale—be sure to reserve a space now to experience the incredible flavors and exotic ingredients of the top talents in the city. I got a sample of what’s to come at the announcement party—see photos of the food and cocktails. Photo above shows Rayuela’s Chef Maximo Tejada’s Squid Ink Paella served in oyster shells, nice touch.


numerology on the table

Christopher Jagmin creates porcelain dishes with a modern feel. Add a playful context to your next gathering with these dishy digits. The big numbers are 10.5” in diameter and come in odd or even sets. Word dishes are dessert size at 7.5”,  and the pattern of digits comes in at 12.25” for serving up, say, a platter of cupcakes. I would use the YES and NO plates, to designate meat dishes from vegetarian. This company also has cleverly repurposed singular vintage dishes from the 70s (on patterns you will recognize from your grandmother’s house) and tied them together with the new graphics atop. Yeah!

a re-usable bag worth keeping

I have been holding out for the perfect, re-usable bag that’s not an embarrasment to carry around. Thank goodness I came across Baggu. They have created a parachute-type bag that is lightweight, and can be stashed in a purse for impromptu purchases. Unlike some other bags I’ve tried, this one is very easy to fold up and replace in its case, and sturdily holds up to 50 pounds. It might be difficult to choose which color to have as your signature, as they offer quite a delicious array. In that case, go for Baggu X3, which gives you 3 bags in a case. Recycling does not have to be dull.


handmade ceramics

There is something so luscious about Jars ceramics, a French company around since 1857. I must say, the photos online do not match what you witness in person. Whether you fancy the spa-like essence of light blues and whites or want to sink your teeth into a sassy bright yellow piece, your investment in these pieces will retain their classic style. Personally, I love the Plume series in Vert Atole, with its organic hand-made shapes, and serene effect.

Baba takes care of you

Brooklyn had been calling, and I decided to answer on a recent drizzly Sunday. I was lured in by Baba—a food shop slash restaurant with a cozy, sweet, and stylish atmosphere. They specialize in carefully chosen charcuterie and cheeses, like La Quercia’s Speck Americano from Iowa, a delicately smoked pork with an amazing soft texture, and my favorite, the Fra’ Mani Mortadella, a hand-made, preservative-free guilty pleasure. This set the stage for Chef Jose Edgardo Soto’s dishes. We started with a taste of his Spanish tortilla, which was served with a Moroccan Charmoula on the side (photo above). Upon tasting, I thought the sauce would make a fantastic accompaniment to a host of other dishes, say, atop a filet of fish, or with pasta. Happily, Jose was willing to share his recipe. I can’t wait to try it out on my guests. See more photos of our day here.
2 bunches cilantro
1 bunch parsley
1 small piece of fresh ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 TB coriander powder
1 TB cumin powder
1 TB paprika
The zest of one lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pulse in a food processor, or place in a blender on medium speed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Jose recommends serving with: mussels, pork, eggs, lamb, or as he does at Baba, with a Spanish tortilla.


etched glassware with a sense of humor

Rolf Glass makes etched glassware in classic and contemporary patterns. I thought the Text U collection featuring texting symbols for: Evil (shown), Drunk, Kiss on the Cheek, and My Lips are Sealed were a humorous take on the genre. Also check out the Pearls collection, which gives a nod to Art Deco, and School of Fish, whose pattern has one of the fish going in the other direction, something I can totally relate to.

The end of the meat fast

I chose to have my first meaty entree at 10 Downing, and am not regretting a thing! Though I did learn a lot about alternatives over the past couple of months, I thought it was time to start enjoying top quality, consciously farm-raised specimens. Chef Jonnatan Leiva is bringing in top quality meat from Lydia Ratcliff, who runs Lovejoy Brook Farm, the last working farm still in operation in Andover, Vermont. Seen here is the Lamb Burger, new on the Spring menu. See more photos from the meal here.