At Home on Valentine’s Day

I am not a big fan for going out on Valentine’s Day. I much prefer the whole idea of sharing a special night alone with the one you love—and showing them how much. If you are still looking for some supplementary and distinctive ideas, here are some that you can incorporate into your evening.•• Santa Cruz Organic has a line of organic chocolate syrups. Pour them over whatever you like—Raspberry Chocolate sauce over profiteroles filled with whipped cream, strawberries dipped in the heated Mint-Chocolate, or (you fill in the blanks)—and be assured that your indulgence is of the highest standards. •• Why not start the night with a special cocktail to get in the mood? Your loved one will enjoy and feel very impressed that you made the effort to create the Love Potion, whose ingredients themselves are a labor of love. Enjoy your night!

Love Potion
1 1/2 oz G'vine Floraison gin
1/2 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 egg white
1/2 oz Monin raspberry syrup
1/2 oz pomegranate juice
3 dashes rhubarb bitters
Garnish: blood orange slice
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a slice of blood orange. Be sure to incoporate all your feelings of love!

Junoon: Upscale Indian in a Peaceful Setting

I have the honor and joy of designing Chef Vikas Khanna’s upcoming cookbook, Flavors First. For the last month or so, in the process of designing the pages, my mind has been focused and attracted to Indian ingredients. I discovered Vikas’ recipes contain some attractive, unexpected combinations (like beet and poppy seed chutney) plus a lot of entertaining stories that take you from his time as a watchful young boy growing up in his grandmother’s kitchen in India to the chef he is today. (May I also mention that he won one round of NYC’s Hottest Chef on Eater?) I had been dying to go to Junoon, his current restaurant, since its opening in December, and thought my cousin’s birthday at the end of January to be the perfect excuse for a night of feasting. We ordered some appetizers and entrees, while Vikas generously offered us a taste of his personal favorites. I have to say, despite the amount of food we ate, I did not have an overly full feeling—all the dishes were flavorful and fresh, but not at all heavy. The 3 types of naan we tried, alone, were to die for, especially the one that had a prune and walnut filling. The night went on and on—see photos from the birthday dinner, and be sure to stay tuned for the cookbook’s debut towards the end of this year. In the meantime, check out some photos from the publisher's party.


A Taste of Asia NYC Style: Ember, Mono + Mono, Double Crown, Danji

As fate would have it, I recently have had the continuing pleasure of experiencing high-end Asian cuisine all over town. I had a fabulous time attending the opening of Ember, Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai’s new BBQ venture in Hell’s Kitchen (photo bottom right). Chicken Lollipops, Whole Roasted Suckling Pig with Hoisin and Ginger Glaze, and Prawns on Fried Rice were just some of the offerings. I am so looking forward to returning for dinner (after my cleanse is over, that is!). See pictures of the space, cocktails, and food here.•• At a tasting for Terra Andina Chilean wines, I learned that perfect pairings can work even with inexpensive wines. Treating yourself to a bottle with your take-out will totally elevate the experience. At Mono + Mono, we tried the extra spicy chicken wings (photo, bottom left), which were extra fabulous with the 2009 Terra Andina Carmenere Reserva ($12.99). See more of the pairings and bites we tasted at this link. •• Double Crown proved to be doubly-delicious, with Chef Brad Farmerie’s specialties, including the Roast Pork Belly accompanied by crispy daikon cake and chili sambal-clementine dressing, seen in the photo top right. It’s no wonder he won the honor of producing the“top pig” at Cochon 555 in the Chelsea Piers. Cocktails were quite inventive—see more photos of the night here. •• Just when I thought I had enough, I came across the newly expanded menu at Danji, also in Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Hooni Kim’s new spot specializes in small plates with his take on traditional and modern Korean cusine. Photo top left show the Bulgogi Filet Mignon Sliders with Spicy Pickled Cucumber and Scallion Salsa. Stay tuned for my upcoming visit.