Las Vegas is the Ultimate Glutton’s Paradise, Obviously
August 24, 2011 by Jen Balisi
After 3 days and 3 nights in Vegas this past weekend, it’s pretty safe to say that my body hates me. I’ve also lost my voice and instead of it sounding sexy I sound like a man. But holy crap, was it fun.
Needless to say, Sin City has plenty for the hedonist, but for the purposes of this blog, I’m going to focus on the food and not the clubs, parties, gambling, and general debauchery that a weekend in Vegas typically entails (but to encapsulate that side of Vegas in one sentence, all I have to say is an 1100 sq. ft. suite at the Venetian + 3 blackjacks in a row + pool parties + light batons at Marquee + free champagne and getting out of our minds at Surrender + shady deals to XS + 10-10 on the craps table + MR. BIG = best weekend ever LEGGO). And now, a few words on the food:
Vegas is undeniably an all-you-can-eat goldmine. When I went to Vegas with my family when I was still underage, we tried out a bunch at the older Vegas hotel/casinos and I didn’t see them as all that different from the ones in Atlantic City. Having dined at the buffets at the Bellagio and Aria in my 21-year-old days, however, I can safely say that Vegas buffets are basically the best thing ever for 4 reasons:
- Every kind of food you ever wanted (and good food too)
- 1/2 a lobster included in your dinner (which was the case at Aria)
- Unlimited champagne by day and wine by night
- Keno (just kidding, but they do have Keno while you eat at the Bellagio)
As a true East Coast girl who has only ventured to California once in her life for half-a-day, I had never experienced the always-hyped goodness of a Double-Double from In-N-Out until I went to Vegas. While I am still a Shake Shack girl (the Shack Stack is still the best thing ever in my opinion), I must say that In-N-Out is pretty freaking amazing. Add animal fries and it’s definitely a calorie-loaded cholesterol spike waiting to happen, but at least it’s a drool-inducing, possibly even orgasmic calorie-loaded cholesterol spike waiting to happen.
Somehow, despite a weekend of eating everything pictured above and then some, I actually lost weight. Regardless, excuse me while I attempt to detox all the crap I ingested over the weekend. Here’s to grilled chicken, salmon, whole grains, veggies, and lots of running until Labor Day Weekend wooooo! #sarcasm
I Survived Warrior Dash and had a Damn Good Time Doing So
August 16, 2011 by Jen Balisi
Let me tell you, Warrior Dash was not easy. Even the journey to Windham Mountain in upstate NY was riddled with difficulty, like our car breaking down 15 minutes from the race site (luckily we were saved by a friendly fellow Warrior Dash participant – thank you “Utica”).
In the end, we made it to the race (an hour later than the wave we registered for, but they didn’t care since, well, there were like 10,000 people there and all). Arriving at the site is kind of overwhelming and awesome, from the racers who chose to go in ridiculous costumes (personal favorite was a group of Ninja Turtles), to the mountain of mud-soaked sneakers that had been donated post-race, to the mountain itself, where “3.2 hellish miles” were about to be run.
And that was without a doubt the worst part about Warrior Dash: that steep mountain that became our worst enemy the moment we realized we had a 1.5 mile uphill run right from the get-go. To say it simply, the first half of the race was a complete and total bitch. Even those who thought they were trained enough (read: me) had to face the fact that you just had to walk up parts of this tortuous hill if you ever wanted to conquer it. To put it in perspective, think of when you go skiing or snowboarding down a green or blue trail. Now imagine running up it. Yep. It sucked. This is (kind of) what most of us looked like mid-mountain.
Then came the obstacles, which were surprisingly not so much physically difficult as kind of scary but simultaneously fun. Case in point: hurdle jumps over walls (surprisingly really easy – thank you plyo), balance beams (kind of scary), and even a slip n slide (fun, obviously). What I didn’t expect was to have so much difficulty jumping over cars, which was actually my downfall as one wrong slip off of a truck’s tire caused me to cramp up in my right calf, limp up the hill as a result, and finally stop for a minute or so just to stretch it out.
In the end I finished the entire race in about 50 minutes, with the fastest of my friends finishing in 40, so I think I fared pretty well (283 out of ~800 women in my age group to be exact – top 35%? I’ll take it). Goal for next year is obviously a) to avoid getting a leg cramp and b) beat the boys!
After we rinsed off as much mud as we could, it was time for our free beer, and of course, being the glutton that I am, I had to get a smoked turkey leg (and it was just like the ones at Disney World!) Pretty much exactly what you want after wanting to die 40 minutes prior from physical exertion.
Now that I’ve survived Warrior Dash 2011, I’m ready for 2012 (with more training, of course), and probably Spartan Race 2012 too (8 miles? Bring it). Maybe even Tough Mudder?! Jk… I’ll save that one for if/when I can run up a mountain without wanting to die.
Filipino Food is Taking Over Manhattan, and It’s About Damn Time
August 10, 2011 by Jen Balisi
As someone who grew up on my parents’ Filipino cooking, coming to Manhattan as a freshman at NYU and finding that I had limited choices for fulfilling my Filipino food craving was kind of disheartening. Cendrillon closed in my first year in the city, leaving places like Elvie’s Turo Turo and Pistahan, but those eventually closed a year or so later as well. While the option of visiting Little Manila in Woodside was always available, with the area even boasting a Jollibee, the most popular fast food chain in the Philippines, I really wasn’t about to make a 40 minute commute just to get my fix of lumpia shanghai. I mean really, that’s just kind of nuts.
Luckily, it seems that Filipino cuisine is finally starting to garner some real attention and staying power. Just yesterday, NYMag’s food blog Grub Street had a feature on Maharlika in the East Village and a new bakery called Pan de Sal in Gramercy, and the blog has actually been giving Filipino food pretty good publicity since the initial opening of Maharlika as a pop-up brunch spot.
So now that it seems Filipino food is getting the press it deserves, I hope more people, especially non-Filipinos, are able to experience just how freaking good our food can be. Hell, even Anthony Bourdain said we have the best pork in the world. In any case, to help the cause, I’ve highlighted some of my favorites and other notable places in NYC where you can get your Filipino food fix. Mind you, it totally isn’t the healthiest cuisine, and if you’re vegetarian, good luck finding something without meat in it, but some things are worth the splurge every now and then.
The Beginner’s Guide to Filipino Food in Manhattan
- Kuma Inn – Although Kuma Inn (a play on the Filipino “kumain,” which means “to eat”) is actually Filipino-Thai fusion, that just makes it an even better starting ground for anyone unfamiliar with Filipino cuisine. The 2nd floor restaurant in the Lower East Side is really cozy, every tapas-style dish we tried was delicious, and best of all, IT’S BYOB! Notable dishes: pork buns (pictured above – note that they are a special so they may not be on the menu but if they are available, you MUST get them!), chinese sausage, adobong PAL chicken wings, arroz valenciana, garlic rice. Oh and reservations are highly recommended.
- Krystal’s Cafe 81 – Ok so this East Village outpost of the notable Krystal’s in Queens may have mixed reviews on Yelp, but I’ve never been disappointed in the times I’ve visited the restaurant/bar. And as a restaurant/bar, they have a great happy hour (including Red Horse!) that goes great with their solid offering of all the classic Filipino fare, like adobo, lumpia shanghai, lechon kawali, and crispy pata, as well as all-day Filipino “silog” brunch items.
- Johnny Air Mart – Finally, Manhattanites don’t have to venture to Queens for their Filipino groceries! Right off of Stuy-Town, the Filipino bodega not only features a good selection of all the Filipino snacks, spices, and ingredients you need, but they also have a counter of prepared foods featuring staples like kare-kare, bistek, and Filipino BBQ that you can take to-go.
- Grill 21 – I’ve never actually been to this place (trust me, it’s on my checklist), but for those looking for some fantastic Filipino food, I’ve been told that this Gramercy restaurant is the place to go, though it is on the pricier side. Since I can’t vouch for it personally, just check out Yelp for tips.
Sa Aming Nayon – This newly opened East Village spot has already garnered attention from the likes of Serious Eats and the Village Voice thanks to its traditional Filipino offerings with family style portions at affordable prices. The space also has a back patio for some nice outdoor garden dining.Update: Now closed =(
- Maharlika – Already mentioned, but just so it’s officially in this mini-guide, this newly-opened-originally-just-brunch pop-up restaurant has been garnering buzz for good reason with their notable brunch and other unique specialties, such as their longga dog which puts a fast food take on traditional Filipino sausage. I’ve only sampled their hors d’oeuvres at a benefit party, but if their small-bites are telling of their full-sized offerings, then Maharlika is sure to satisfy. Update: I’ve since tried their amazing longga dog at the Great Googamooga and have also dined there multiple times. Needless to say, all of the food was delicious, and Maharlika’s Ube Waffle with Filipino Fried Chicken and Macapuno Syrup is truly a hallmark dish that takes inventive a really inventive twist on the standard chicken and waffles with Filipino flavors. Do yourself a favor and go!
- Purple Yam – While this Filipino-Korean fusion spot is actually in Brooklyn, it’s worth noting, especially since they sometimes offer their dishes at street fairs (Purple Yam had some of the longest lines at last year’s Grub Street Food Festival) and possibly even in the Upper West Side. Regardless, this brainchild of the former owners of Cendrillon has garnered much praise that may make it worth a trip to Ditmas Park (again, also on my checklist).
So whether you’re a total Filipino food newbie just looking to try something new or you’re a full pinoy/pinay looking to get a taste of home in the concrete jungle, I hope this guide helps. Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments. Now, kain na tayo! (Let’s eat!)
How to Train for Warrior Dash (sort of)
August 8, 2011 by Jen Balisi
First off, apologies for the huge delay in posts. From all the packing, moving out of my St. Marks apartment (sadface), unpacking, and getting my life (aka stuff) back in order, I’ve just been too busy/lazy to update this. But now I’m temporarily back in my house in the dirty Jerz until I move back into the city in September (read: I have almost nothing to do) so I can actually update this baby.
Aside from all the moving, one thing that’s been keeping me preoccupied in my health-conscious side of life is training for Warrior Dash, a 3.2 mile race overrun with obstacles like crawling under barbed wire, climbing cargo net walls, rappeling down a ravine, and jumping over fire. Of course, after such strenuous physical activity, its only fitting that the end-of-race festivities include smoked turkey legs, a free beer, and a viking hat as a token of accomplishment (can’t lie, might be most excited for the viking hat).
The website describes it as “the craziest friggin day of your life.” They’re probably right. After all, the closest I’ve ever gotten to this is probably hiking up a mountain and crossing makeshift bridges in Marrakech to see some beautiful waterfalls. Considering this did not involve a) running for 3 miles or b) fire… um yeah, I’m not even close.
In any case, after 3 weeks in Europe in June and numerous lazy days after that, I’ve kind of been off my game in terms of training. But I’m trying to make up for it, in my own way. To give you an idea, here’s a sample of what I’ve classified as #warriordashtraining the past few weeks:
- running along the East River and down the shore (actual training)
- intervals on the elliptical (actual training)
- Insanity and Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (actual training)
- strength training with dumbbells, pushups, etc (actual training)
- Yoga to the People (sort of training)
- dancing my ass off to Diplo at the Mad Decent Block Party (fake training)
- lifting my dogs up and down (fake training)
- Dance Central in workout mode (fake training)
- playing Kinect Adventures (fake training)
I’ve tried to couple this with healthier eating. My newest addiction: yuzu salmon with avocado (I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s on this menu from the Japanese restaurant I always get it at). Absolutely delicious and high in lean protein, omega-3’s, and other healthy fats (probably on the high-side sodium-wise, but let’s forgive that for now).
Hopefully I can stay motivated and keep actual training > fake training and healthy diet > gluttony, at least until the race on Sunday. I WILL NOT COME IN LAST, DAMNIT (this is directed at specific individuals – you know who you are). Wish me luck!
The Glutton’s Guide to NYC Restaurant Week
July 21, 2011 by Jen Balisi
After 4 years of living in the city and active participation in both the winter and summer restaurant weeks despite being a college student (read: poor), I’ve now managed to eat at enough places to come up with this guide. Now there’s certainly way more than 25 restaurants that have RW (I’ll be abbreviating restaurant week as that from now on for obvious reasons), and I’m no expert by any means, but hopefully this guide and my tips will still helps those of you who need a hand at making your reservations. And yes, RW is officially ending this Sunday, but don’t be surprised when you find out its extended until Labor Day. Feel free to share your own recommendations in the comments.
But first, some tips on making your reservations and dining during RW:
- Go for the $$$’s – RW is all about dining at some of NYC’s best (read: expensive) restaurants at a fraction of the cost. As a result, I always make sure to go to places where my entrée alone would cost around $30. So look for places with the most $’s to get the most value out of RW.
- Register your American Express card for a $20 statement credit – Amex cardmember? Register, dine at least 3 times during RW, and get a $20 statement credit. That’s practically a free lunch.
- Be generous when tipping – Waiters and hosts tips typically get cut during Restaurant Week since most tables’ bills add up to less, yet they usually still provide you with the same impeccable service as they would to those dining on the full-priced menu. You’re already saving a good deal with RW pricing, so don’t be stingy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more bread – Seriously. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. A lot of places will even ask you if you want a refill.
- Try Savored.com to save 20-30% if the RW menu is unappealing – I’m a member of this great site called Savored.com that allows you to save 20-30% off your full-priced bill at many restaurants that participate in RW, including Aquavit, DB Bistro Moderne, Butter, and Le Cirque, making it a great way to try these places at a similar discount if you aren’t impressed by their RW offerings. Book by Friday to pay only $2 (usually $10) for any future reservation (pro-tip: just make a reservation for any future date, and you can always modify it when you decide on when you actually want to go)
And now, onto the list!
Disclaimer: Since this list spans 4 years, some of the restaurants may no longer participate in RW, have different menus, may have gotten better, or may suck now. I’ve included when I ate at each restaurant as reference (thank you, OpenTable). Try the RW website or Yelp if you need more help deciding, or leave a comment and I’ll do my best to respond.
The Best of the Best
- Any David Burke restaurant (New American) – Having dined at both David Burke Townhouse (Winter ’11) and Fishtail by David Burke (Winter ’10), I’ve come to the conclusion that this guy really understands what people want from RW. With memorable food (from cheesecake lollipops on a tree to the best lobster bisque that even came with a mini lobster roll), an extensive selection for restaurant week (always at least 3 choices, if not more), great service, and good portions, David Burke has yet to disappoint me (We’ll see if I’m proven wrong if/when I try out David Burke Kitchen)
- JoJo (French, Summer ’11) – See my review here
- Porter House (Steakhouse, Winter ’10) – Amazing soups, perfectly cooked, sizable, melt-in-your-mouth steaks, and Central Park views.
- The Water Club (Seafood, Winter and Summer ’10) – Apparently they didn’t do it this year, but I’ve dined there twice for their “Lobster and Lobster” RW menu with their delicious lobster bisque appetizer and a whole lobster entrée. Add that to the floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for the most gorgeous views along the East River, and you’re in for a truly memorable dinner.
- Morimoto (Japanese, Summer ’08) – There’s a reason he’s an Iron Chef – everything we had was amazing and the sushi is so fresh it’s practically still alive. The restaurant itself has great interiors, especially the wall made entirely of glass bottles.
- Thalassa (Greek, Winter ’11) – Greek cheeses to go with our wine while we waited for the rest of our party, a spanikopita amuse-bouche in between our delicious appetizer and entrée courses, and simply gorgeous, nautical-inspired interiors make this Tribeca restaurant a standout.
Amazing food, but you’ll probably leave hungry
You’ll get to try some of the best food of your life that would normally cost way more than RW’s $24.07/$35 (meaning, try out these places!), but you should probably have a snack beforehand if you’re used to bigger portions (meaning, you should probably have a snack…)
- Cafe Boulud (French, Summer ’09) – The best French I’ve ever had in the city. The. End.
- Craftbar (New American, Winter ’11) – I actually found their portions perfectly sized for lunch, but others wanted more. Regardless, everything we tasted at Tom Colicchio’s Flatiron restaurant made us understand why he’s a judge on Top Chef.
- Megu (Japanese, Winter ’10) – My main course was Kobe beef served on a hot stone that was set on fire to cook. Tiny, but undeniably delicious. And the interiors of this Tribeca gem will blow you away.
Great restaurants that will leave you satisfied
Not necessarily amazing, but for great food for all 3 courses, portions, service, and ambiance, these are definitely worth trying out during RW.
- AJ Maxwell’s Steakhouse (Steakhouse, Summer ’08)
- Artisanal (French, Summer ’11)
- Caffe Grazzie (Italian, Winter ’09)
- Lure Fishbar (Seafood, Winter ’11)
- Maloney & Porcelli (Steakhouse, Summer ’09)
- Quality Meats (Steakhouse, Summer ’09)
- Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (Steakhouse, Summer ’08)
Great restaurants that I’ve only tried outside of RW but are probably great during RW too
While I’ve never actually dined at these places during RW, based on my experiences there and their offerings on their RW menus, I’d say they’re a safe bet for a fantastic pre-fixe meal.
- Il Cantinori (Italian, Fall ’10) – Some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had, and their RW menu looks just as appealing.
- Kittichai (Thai, Summer ’09) – See my description for Il Cantinori, change Italian for Thai.
- Spice Market (Southeast Asian, Fall ’10) – Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s upscale take on SEA street food is some of the best I’ve had. If you’re up for spending a bit more than the RW price range, the restaurant has a 5-course, 10 dish tasting for $48 that will leave you so full you’ll feel like your going to burst.
Hit or Miss Restaurants
Some courses are good, but others are just mediocre. Your call.
- City Crab & Seafood (Seafood, Winter ’10) – My jumbo lump crab cakes were fantastic, as was their lobster, but appetizers and dessert were just ok. Maybe they’ve changed up their offering for those courses so could be worth a shot. If anything, go for their $1 oyster and half-price drink happy hour.
- Mesa Grill (Southwest American, Winter ’08) – Sorry Bobby Flay, but as good as your profiteroles were, my chicken was dry.
Go to these great restaurants, just not for Restaurant Week
These restaurants are great, but they either a) have year-round pre-fixe menus for around the same price as RW
b) are affordable enough to order from their regular a la carte menus or
c) have amazing food on their a la carte menus that you would miss by ordering from their RW menu. Better to save your reservations for one of the places listed above and check these out when RW is over.
- Beacon (New American) – Their wood-roasted oysters are absolutely amazing. Seriously. They will blow your mind. The wood roasted pizzas and souffles are phenomenal as well.
- Chinatown Brasserie (Chinese) – One might not understand why dim sum would ever cost more than $4 per serving, but one bite of Chef Joe Ng’s elevated dumplings and other small bites will make you forget all about having to chase a lady pushing a cart for good dim sum. Entrees are supposedly mediocre, so just go for the dim sum. Make a reservation through Savored.com for 30% off your bill.
- Nobu (Japanese) – Honestly, their RW menu kind of sucks in terms of offerings. Their black cod miso, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of suck, as are their tempuras.
- Tao (Pan-Asian) – their $24.07 lunch pre-fixe is available year-round, and the family-style portions can be shared so dining a la carte is still in the RW price range
Foodparc & Beerparc: A diverse, tech-savvy food court meets cool, but confusing beer garden
July 19, 2011 by Jen Balisi
On Sunday, I checked out the recently opened Foodparc and its attached beer garden Beerparc, located on 6th Ave. between 29th and 30th St. The 20,000(!) square foot indoor/outdoor space hosts multiple eateries featuring everything from pasta served on flatbreads at Fornetti (which looked amazing) and burgers and other grilled fare at 3B’s to French press coffee at the appropriately named The Press and fresh salads at Quality Greens. Foodparc’s unique factor is their ordering system, which features touchscreen self-serve terminals that even have the option of receiving a text message notification when your order is ready. I personally thought the system was awesome since I could take my own sweet time ordering, but I could see some issues if you had to pick up food from multiple counters.
Beerparc itself has its own stands, such as a raw bar from the man behind Ed’s Chowder House (which featured an intriguing Lobster Avocado BLT roll which I really want to go back and try). They also have a stand from Top Chef 1 winner Harold Dieterle of Perilla and Kin Shop, as well as Fatty Snack, an offshoot of Fatty ‘Cue and Fatty Crab. Of course, what’s a beer garden without beer. Strangely, the beer at Foodparc’s outdoor space is actually served inside, and only features 5 beers on tap, though it’s a pretty respectable selection. Unlike the rest of Foodparc, however, Beerparc uses an ordering system based off food and drink tickets, which you purchase at one register then present to each stand in exchange for your fare, with a beer adding up to two $3 tickets ($6 for those lacking in mental math skills) and most food items ranging from 1-3 tickets. While this works well conceptually, since servers at the outdoor food stands don’t have to deal with money, I feel it could be messy business for customers purchasing items at both the indoor Foodparc eateries and outdoor Beerparc stands and for people who aren’t good at holding onto tickets.
BUT OK, ordering systems aside – onto what I actually ate. As you can see from my photo at the top of this post, I chose to order from RedFarm Stand after checking out some tips on Foursquare. The dumpling and dim sum stand was created by the guys behind one of my favorite dim sum places, Chinatown Brasserie, so naturally, I had to check this place out. Ironically, I wasn’t actually in a dumpling mood, so I went with one of my favorite foods ever – a duck bun. At $6 a pop, I had high expectations, and they were pretty much met. The duck meat was juicy and perfectly complemented by the typical accompaniments like hoisin sauce and cucumber in a yummy bun. I honestly still don’t know what the surrounding fried vegetable chips were, but they were good (isn’t everything fried good?). I just wish there was a teeny bit more duck meat considering it was probably the size of a McDonald’s cheeseburger, but then again, 2 tiny, mostly-pork-fat Smiley Buns at Je’Bon are $5, so the pricing is justifiable to me.
One thing that stood out to me on a non-food level was Foodparc’s social media savvy. Not only did I get an @mention from the establishment’s Twitter account, but my Foursquare check-in was displayed on a flatscreen for everyone to see, which I’ve personally never seen before. Speaking of Foursquare, Foodparc also has a special for first-time visitors, where you can get a complimentary beverage from their eateries by showing that you’ve checked in. It’s always good to know that there are real benefits to checking in other than virtual badges.
Overall, it’s a pretty nice space both inside and out, complete with a giant outdoor LCD screen on which they apparently show games and movies. While the ordering system has its pluses and minuses, I still think it’s intriguing enough to give a shot, especially when you add Food/Beerparc’s array of promising food. I’ll personally be going back for that Lobster Avocado BLT Roll with a side of pasta on flatbread and beer (but maybe after Warrior Dash).
Today I had juice for lunch (and breakfast and dinner…)
July 12, 2011 by Jen Balisi
So I just started a 3 day combination juice/raw cleanse. Considering all the junk and alcohol I consume, I’ve always wanted to do a cleanse to detox my system (and maybe even shred a few pounds). Of course, the idea of a diet consisting of solely juice is kind of scary, especially for someone who loves food as much as me. Luckily, I found a cleanse called Kaeng Raeng through an online deal from my favorite health-digest Vital Juice where you can eat all the raw veggies and fruit you want to supplement the juice, which means I won’t be a hungry irritable bitch for the next 3 days. I actually purchased a 6 day cleanse, but I chose to split it in half since, let’s face it, the weekend is coming up, I’m reuniting with some of my favorite girls from NYU (chinitas, whattup), and alcohol is unfortunately not cleanse-approved.
In any case, I’m 1/3 of the way through my cleanse and it actually hasn’t been bad at all. The Kaeng Raeng cleanse consists of pouches of freeze-dried, pulverized fruit, pictured here, that each contain “more than a full serving of fruit and fiber, 15g of lean non-gmo protein, 2 billion live probiotic cultures, essential amino acids, and daily vitamins”. You just mix the pouch into water or juice, or you can blend it with raw fruit and ice to make a smoothie. I think I’ll probably try out the latter option tomorrow since to be quite frank, freeze-dried, pulverized fruit isn’t the tastiest thing ever, but I think some fresh strawberries and kiwi should make it awesome.
Regardless, the juice version has been surprisingly filling – I’ve only had a handful of baby carrots aside from the juice. I’ve even had enough energy to do 20 minutes on the elliptical. At one point in the afternoon, I thought I was feeling light-headed, but then I realized I was just melting outside in this goddamn heat wave. Hopefully I last through the next 2 days and reap all the benefits Kaeng Raeng claims, which include jump-starting weight loss, removing toxins, improving digestive health, bolstering immunity, relieving bloating, reducing cravings, and even enhancing skin and hair quality. It would certainly be a good way to kick off my training for Warrior Dash in August (more on that in another blog post).
So here’s to no meat, seafood, grilled vegetables, basically everything until Friday. Wish me luck!
Edit – 7/13/11: I’m now on the second day of my cleanse, and I already feel great. I made a smoothie out of their reunn (strawberry, raspberry, pineapple) flavor, blending it with ice, frozen strawberries, and fresh kiwi and it was delicious. I’m still full and it’s been 4 hours. While I do get small cravings for carbs, right now I’m surviving and I should make it through tomorrow.
Review: Refined French Prix Fixe for NYC Restaurant Week at JoJo
July 12, 2011 by Jen Balisi
In case you’re out of the loop, it’s Restaurant Week in NYC, where for a very reasonable $24.07 or $35 you get a 3-course pre-fixe lunch or dinner, respectively, at some of the city’s best restaurants. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of it, dining at a minimum of 3 places in both the winter and summer runs. Having dined at Spice Market before, I’ve always been meaning to try some of Jean Georges‘ other restaurants, so for my first meal for this summer’s restaurant week, I went to JoJo, the restaurateur’s first mainstay in the city.
I wish I had taken pictures of the interior, because it is definitely one of the cutest places I’ve been to in the city. The restaurant is situated in a 2-story townhouse that reminded me of a quaint French chateau with its delicate and rustic details. But appearance aside, JoJo’s restaurant week menu for lunch was superb. Unlike other places which offer a very limited selection, I actually had difficulty choosing my appetizer and entrée with so many tempting choices. In the end I went with the sweet pea soup, which came with a sourdough crouton that went perfectly with the soup. My entrée was the skate wing, pictured above, which just melted like butter in your mouth and had such great flavor, especially with its vegetable accompaniments.
Alfred also had the skate wing for his entrée, but chose the tuna tartare for his appetizer which distinguished itself from the standard tartare with its waffle potato crisps. I thought my sister won for choosing the best appetizer, though, with peekytoe crab meat that you eat with cumin crackers and mango salsa like an open-faced sandwich. Then again, pretty much anything with either crab or mango will win in my book.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I HATE raw tomatoes. They literally make me gag. I’ve tried to like them, I really have, but my taste buds and gag reflex keep refusing. In any case, I still tried out my sister’s entrée of salmon which, as you can see, was covered in cherry tomatoes. She made sure to give me a portion without a tomato, and while the salmon with corncake mash itself was good, the tomato juice that lingered still threw it off for me. She ensured me that the entire dish with all components was delicious though, so take her word for it.
My sister and Alfred ended their meal with JoJo’s signature molten chocolate cake, which was heaven. I had the strawberry mousse was equally delicious and came with a red wine sorbet that elevated the dessert to the level of the rest of the meal. Overall, it was a great meal with impeccable service that came to a cool $30 each with tax and tip – a great way to kick off summer restaurant week.
Welcome to No Gut Glutton (plus a Disclaimer)
July 12, 2011 by Jen Balisi
Welcome friends and strangers to my finally conceived food blog. As someone who has always been a foodie, trying new places, recommending restaurants to friends, and spamming Facebook with my own food porn in the form of mobile uploads (sorry for that, btw), I’ve been saying for the past 2 years that I’ve always wanted to make a food blog. And now, with over a month of free time left before full-time employment begins, I figure it’s time to stop talking and start doing (I also couldn’t sleep, hence the ridiculous timestamp).
Now as a disclaimer, the title of this blog is a bit deceiving. I am not exactly “gutless”, for which you can blame 4 years of college and a semester abroad in the country with the highest consumption of beer per capita (Prague, CZ represent). However, I do my best to keep that shit under control. When I’m not dining out for Restaurant Week or trying the new all-you-can-eat sushi buffet in my NJ hometown (both of which I did yesterday), I’m doing yoga, going for a run, and eating food that’s chock full of whole grains, veggies, lean proteins, and other stuff that’s good for you (which I did this past Tuesday thru Friday). I’m even starting a 3 day combo juice/raw cleanse today (which me luck).
Hence the name of this blog: No Gut Glutton. (Side note: I wanted to call it a bajillion other things like Foodie not Fatty but they were all apparently taken)
Anyway, in this blog I’ll highlight my various food adventures in NYC as they happen and may do some retrospective posts about some of my favorite places in the city as well (sidenote: I’m really indecisive so those links are truly a random assortment of a much larger list of favorites). Of course, I’ll also document my healthy side with recipes for meals that are both yummy and guilt-free and other random things concerning my attempt to get rid of my gut.
This is obviously still in infancy and will change over time. With that, I’d love any suggestions or feedback, love, hate, share it with your friends, whatever. I’m just really excited to finally be doing this. And so it begins…