[Dinner] Sorellina’s Twist On Some Classics

Finally made it to Sorellina, a nice recently opened spot in Hoboken. Happy to report back that I was not disappointed! It was not too crowded, but then again, temperatures were below freezing so I would still recommend you check out Resy for a reservation, we had no issues.

We started off with some appetizers and if you know me, you know I can’t say “no” to burrata. In addition, we went for the roasted cauliflower and it was absolutely amazing. The charred onions and the breadcrumbs gave it the perfect crunch.

As for the main course, I went for the Cacio e Pepe Conchiglie. It’s not your average Cacio e Pepe as it has milk-braised pork and it features a different type of pasta. Still, I took a chance and it was very good. If you are craving Cacio e Pepe and are 100% set on it, order something else but if you appreciate what makes Cacio e Pepe amazing at the base and are open to exploring something different, go for it!

Brian went with the Bucatini Genovese and he was also very pleased although I must be honest and say he kept trying to eat off my plate. 🙂

Overall, I definitely want to go back and try different plates to keep tasting their unique flavors and fusions.

Have you been yet? Any recommendations?

[Lunch & Dinner] Charlie Bird

If you know me, you know I have a slight obsession with Charlie Bird‘s farro salad. Why obsess over a salad, you ask? Because it’s delicious, fresh, intriguing and somewhat guilt-free.

Charlie Bird NYC Farro Salad Beaches & Brie

This salad helped me appreciate pistachios in a brand new way because YES, it has pistachios! The parmesan shavings on top just add another level of saltiness greatness, making each bite come to life a bit more.

I have yet to recreate this salad at home but NYT Cooking and All Day I Eat have some great ideas on how to start!

Charlie Bird Cacio e Pepe NYC restaurant Beaches & Brie

Another Charlie Bird favorite? Their Cacio e Pepe. Creamy but so good, I mean, just look at it! They also have a prix fix lunch menu during the week where you can get a small plate (think: farro salad)  AND a pasta for $32. Not super cheap, I know, but it’s worth treating yourself to a nice lunch if you are in the area, especially if it’s a nice day out and you can take advantage of their outdoor seating.

gnocchi Charlie Bird Beaches & Brie

The gnocchi is also another solid option. Try starting with the burrata option, another great pick, but NEVER as a substitution to the farro salad. Promise?

charlie bird burrata nyc beaches & brie

[Dinner AND Brunch] Welcome to the neighborhood, Union Hall!

In case you missed it, Union Hall finally opened up its doors last week. I was skeptical going in but very hopeful that I could potentially find here my new favorite spot.

Spoiler alert: it did not disappoint.

The vibe is super chill and all their menu is based on small plates. I didn’t know this going in, but it’s the same owners as Brass Rail and Stewed Cow. The chef was also in Chopped and well, to me that’s pretty cool. Staff was super nice and you can tell they are excited to work there, which is always a plus.

Enough about people, let’s talk food.

Or wait, let’s talk drinks for a second. They have $5 martinis on Wednesdays! Their dirty martini is actually pretty darn good. I would have liked to have some blue cheese inside my olives but that’s ok, I’ll let it pass. They have great specials every day of the week including $2 Union Brew mugs every. single. day.

Ok, now for food, for real.


They may look like hush puppies, but these are actually french onion soup mac and cheese balls! They even come with their own little broth on the side, delicious. Tip: don’t be afraid to embrace the broth! (Did I say these were great?)


They had three sliders that you could order individually, but we decided to go all out and try the 3 of them out: veggie, turkey burger, and lobster. Brian and I both agreed the veggie slider was the best because the sauce was so good.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of pins on Pinterest and videos on Facebook about the wonder that is cauliflower fried rice. I’ve been meaning to cook it at home but I’m always too lazy. Union Hall is the first restaurant I’ve been to that offers cauliflower fried rice as part of their menu. It was probably the best part of the meal. Plus, it comes in this cute little take-out style box so, totally recommend it.

union hall steak

Source: Union Hall

We also got a hanger steak with blue cheese that made me think why I don’t order more steaks with blue cheese. I love blue cheese or any cheese for that matter, I guess.


That may look like a tall shot of something creamy but it’s actually a mini milkshake! The waiter explained how they have different special milkshakes every day and the day we went in it was fruit loops. I must admit I was waiting for a mini version of those Black Tap shakes that can give you diabetes so I was a little disappointed when it didn’t have an actual fruit loop in it, but boy oh boy, it was SO good. It tasted like those last drops of milk from the fruit loop bowl.

Noooooooooooooow… BRUNCH!

First, they have $2 mimosas! Can’t tell you how they were because I didn’t have one (stupid, I know) but I will be back and can update based on the verdict. Again, $2 mimosas!


Breakfast tacos for the win. Get them with bacon, it was actually quite perfectly crisped. I can get picky about bacon and there’s nothing worse than a soft piece of bacon. (That’s what she said? No? Ok, sorry.) Their avocado toast was ok, but not something to die for. (You should never die for an avocado toast, anyways.) It’s a nice side to share but by no means it should be one of your main plates.


Their skillets were actually really good. If I hadn’t been so full with the breakfast taco I would have killed them all but thank goodness I brought Brian along. We had one inspired by eggs Benedict and the other one had goat cheese and some other great stuff.

There’s still so much I want to try over at Union Hall so stay tuned on my Instagram for future posts. I’m determined to try everything on their menu so let’s see how it goes. 

P.S. Their coffee was pretty good too!

 

 

[Dinner] Casa Apicii

Do I try a new restaurant for a chance of greatness or do I go back to a restaurant I already know and love?

This is hands down my biggest challenge when deciding where to go eat. Sometimes I feel defeated by the realization that I will never be able to eat at every single restaurant in NYC and just opt for a classic spot, but more times than not I go to my ever-growing restaurant bucket list and just pull the trigger. 

Last week I went to Casa Apicii and despite the heat inside their back dining area, had an amazing meal.

casa apicii cocktail cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Let’s start with their house cocktail, the Casa Apicii. Their online menu says this drink is made with vodka, crème de peche, aloe, lemon and bitters… but I could have sworn the menu at the table said something about ginger. I love ginger. Still, whatever it had, it was absolutely amazing. Not too sweet or too bitter, and super refreshing.

burrata cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Next, the burrata. I mean, burrata by itself is already all my little heart needs but for it to come served on top of a pea purée with some crunchy, yet super thin bacon strips? Perfection. All the flavors came together nicely and took the burrata to the next level. Yes, such a next level exists.

pasta cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Last but not least (because let’s face it, am I really gonna have space for dessert?) … pasta! Now, before you go ahead and judge me for what looks like a very plain dish, let me tell you that the pasta was insanely good. It is as thick as pasta can be before it crosses the line to being too thick. It was also perfectly and evenly cooked. I don’t think I had ever enjoyed a pasta this thick. The sauce was not super heavy, yet it was loaded with flavor. Can’t go wrong with a classic! Brian had the pasta alla carbonara but was too hungry to let me take a picture of his plate. Ah, marriage.

Oh yeah, I got married. 🙂 (How about I tell you more about that soon?)

Back to Casa Apicii. Great meal, but come prepared to spend a little bit as things add up pretty quickly. Afterwards, you can enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood and admire the gorgeous buildings. Or you can be like me, get on the Path back to Hoboken and accidentally stop by Insomnia Cookies. 🙂

Governors Ball Recap: My favorite #EEEEEATS and where to get them

I’ll be honest, I have never really been a music festival kind of gal. Something about the amount of money you spend on tickets and the amount of people you have to deal with really kept me away for years. Don’t get me wrong, I love music but I guess I had been picky about where to enjoy it.

In a continuous effort to try new things around New York, I went ahead and got tickets to Governors Ball. I must admit, it was a picture of a ramen burger posted by @Infatuation that really did it for me (more on ramen burgers soon, promise).

I can now say, music festivals are an art and I am not opposed to continue practicing it. Especially when the festival not only offers good beats but also rocks it with the #eeeeeats. Don’t have to tell me twice. Sadly (or may I say, ironically) I knew the food line up better than the music line up. Oh well. Continue reading and you will find everything I ate during Governors Ball, together with info on how to get your hands on these awesome bits of happiness.


Ramen Burger from Ramen Burger

Is it a burger? Is it a mess of noodle fun? It’s both! I had  assumed that the sauce in this masterpiece was bbq but I was positively surprised to taste a special sauce that blew my mind (sesame based, maybe?). The noodles magically stayed in place and the rest is history. Go try it now at Smorgasburg!


Pulled Pork from Mighty Quinn’s BBQ

When pulled pork is messy, you know it’s good. My fiance Brian definitely hoarded this one! The toppings were a nice little addition that helped boost the already amazing taste of the pork.


Mac and Cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

I can’t say no to a good mac and cheese. I should, but I usually can’t. You can tell the cheese they use at Beecher’s is a great quality blend that melts right into perfection, shouldn’t expect anything less from handmade cheese. It’s on my list to stop by their shop and go beyond the mac and cheese straight to the source of all the goodness, cheese.


Uma-ritto (Sushi Burrito) from Uma Temakeria

This is exactly what it sounds like. All the familiar flavors that can be associated with sushi, wrapped up in a handy burrito-like concept. To be honest, not the ideal music festival treat to carry around but man, it photographs so well, right?


Cheesesteak from Phil’s Steak 

Brian is from Philly, so we take cheesesteaks very seriously. We’ve ventured around New York and Hoboken trying to find that perfect, cheese-whiz infused bite and have not felt we’ve been successful just yet. Then Phil’s Steak came along and dare we say, this is the best cheesesteak in the area. Mind you, it is not my personal choice to add ketchup, I actually hate ketchup but Brian totally took over this round of food.


Grilled Corn Mexican Style from Café Habana

Nothing says love and commitment like eating some grilled corn under the rain. Yes, it was pouring at this point but that didn’t stop me from having one last bite. I am a big fan of Cafe Habana and use to get lunch there often when I worked in SoHo, definitely a fun place to go to.


BONUS: Shrimp Roll and Lobster Roll from Luke’s Lobster

Nothing says summer is real like a nice, flavorful lobster roll. Luke’s Lobster was also at Govball but I am cheating with this picture as it was taken the weekend before at Hoboken’s Pier 13. 🙂 Still, Luke’s is delicious. My favorite part (besides the actual seafood, of course) is their seasoning and the way they prepare their bread. It’s the perfect touch to accompany an already glorious seafood adventure.

Let’s be real, a girl can only eat so much in one day, even with the help of an equally hungry companion. Here are the other spots that I know and love that were also at Govball: By Chloe, Bluestone Lane, Souvlaki and Tacombi.

Can’t wait for next year’s Governors Ball, in the meantime, let’s keep on eating!

Where I Ate (Stuffed My Face) In Nashville

They say Nasvhille is the new Vegas when it comes to bachelorette parties. This post has nothing to do with that.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be in Nashville for business. Work all day meant dinner was my way to get to know this awesome city, and boy did I eat…

Below I share my main meals in Music City, there’s really something for everyone. Please follow along in chronological order of my trip and no, I am not including Panera meals during the event, sorry.

Biscuit Love

This was the main place in my list. Not only did it come highly recommended by several trusted food sources, but they honor biscuits which is one of the best things in this earth. I went straight to business and ordered the fried chicken biscuit with gravy.

We were told, however, we needed to order the signature plate…

Just by looking at that picture I swear I lose my focus. These little babies are made of fried biscuit dough, lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. We got to meet the owner and it turns out this was a special recipe her husband use to make her all the time. Talk about true LOVE.

The Standard at The Smith

We stumbled upon this place our first night in Nashville. We were hungry, had no reservations and just wanted to have a nice meal before a busy day ahead. A little off the hustle and bustle from Broadway, The Smith is the only grand townhouse remaining in downtown Nashville. As you walk in you are immediately transported back to an era where sophistication and good quality reigned.

I am not usually a dirty martini fan, but my colleagues said The Standard’s iteration was the best. Blue cheese-stuffed olives? I can get on board with that. Oh, and also, red velvet cookie for dessert.

Martin’s BBQ

I may not be a bbq connoisseur, but my oh my, this may have been the best bbq I’ve ever had. Just thinking back to it makes me salivate again. Fortunately, my coworkers also take bbq seriously and we ordered the Big Daddy Sampler: half a rack of ribs, half a pound of pork, half a pound of brisket, half a chicken, six wings, cole slaw, mac and cheese, french fries and baked beans. Oh, and bread. Safe to say we did some serious damage.

Union Common

Nashville Food Smoked Chilled smoked mussels. At first we were confused at the thought of something that is both chill and smoked. It turns out they smoke the mussels to give them that authentic bbq taste, then they are served chilled with a special hot sauce. The result is an explosion in your mouth that your brain can’t put together. Is it bbq? Is it sea food? It’s a total experience.

Chuy’s

Chuy's Taco Salad

Funky, chill and delicious. That’s how I would describe Chuy’s. This wouldn’t be my first stop in Nashville because it’s a chain, it’s the kind of food that I can find elsewhere and it’s not even from Nashville, HOWEVER, it did not disappoint. It was a nice break from all the smoke and bbq, the ambiance in itself makes it a great night.

The Southern

The Southern Nashville Food Oysters

We ended the trip with one of the places that was on my list to begin with. We definitely recommend reservations. My favorite part? They fly their oysters in fresh every single morning. I personally love that kind of commitment to sea food! They had a nice selection of cocktails, definitely try something a little bit out of your element, you might be surprised!

Due to lack of reservations and time, I was not able to hit all the places in my list. Etch, Husk, Acme Feed + Seed, Loveless Cafe, Pancake Pantry and Rolf & Daughters were also recommended and they will be top of my list next time I am in town!

Here’s to country music, nice people and cowboy boots!

Nashville

Last Night for NYC Restaurant Week!

 

restaurant week

NYC Restaurant Week, you know it’s happening, you’ve seen your friends snap about it, but have you actually made a reservation yet? Well, tonight is the last night, don’t miss out. To me, NYC Restaurant Week is an opportunity to go to those fancy restaurants you wouldn’t be able to afford without a special pre-fix menu, am I right? As you probably know, $38 gets you an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. Not too shabby. If you are like me, you probably end up at a place where wine is $18 a glass and are forced to throw caution to the wind.

While we are in the subject of not caring about anything and eating what makes you happy, below are some pictures of my NYC Restaurant Week experience. I went to Montebello Restaurant and Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. Italian and French, that’s my jam.

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Dinner at Montebello Restaurant was filling and satisfying. Our waiter was super nice and made some excellent recommendations. I got an eggplant parm… as an appetizer! You know you are about to feast when your appetizer is delicious and generous. They also had a nice selection to choose from, as opposed to other places where you can only pick from about two choices. My friend and I, avid eaters as we are, ordered two different entrees and shared. The Crespelle was delicious, think about a crêpe and a lasagna having a baby. Gross in theory, amazing in real life. It doesn’t stop there, we also ordered the Pollo Montebello, a delicious Parmesan crusted chicken, followed by cheesecake AND chocolate cake. Oops.

artisanal nyc restaurant week fondue beaches and brie

Last night, I went to heaven, I mean Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. I got my own little Artisanal blend fondue as part of the restaurant week menu. Oh dear lord, hands down one of the best fondues I have ever had. I need to come back and try their truffle fondue, I can’t even imagine the goodness. I really enjoyed my fall cavatelli entrée with roasted squash, orange poppy seed cream and ricotta (yum, ricotta). Prices are a little high, so think about this as a place for celebratory dinners and special occasions.

It’s not too late to enjoy restaurant week, you still have lunch and dinner today, what are you waiting for?

Komeeda Chef Showdown #3

 
(Photo from Komeeda)

Comida, Komeeda, Food.

A while ago I got the chance to meet the great mind behind Komeeda, a community that is passionate about discovering and tasting new food. I remember being immediately sold on the idea and I’ve been happy to see Komeeda keep on growing and evolving from group dinners to the most recent Chef Showdown series. Komeeda, just like me, believes that food makes people come together and through food, we can all have new and exciting experiences.

This month, I attended the 3rd Chef Showdown at District CoWork. It was a night buzzing with flavors and excitement as 3 chefs faced each other, providing delightful plates for everyone to taste and judge. My kind of evening, if you ask me.

(Photo from Cristina Nogueras)

Before even getting to the three main judges, we were welcomed by some delicious treats from the past chef showdown winner, Chef Flo from Eemas Cuisine. I’m sad I missed his first round of sweet potato & apple gyoza, but his pumpkin & mushroom bolognese on cornbread was delicious, pictured above. Seriously though, that cornbread was on point. I really enjoyed the Hawaiian cuisine twist he brought into the mix. Which makes me thing, I think I want to explore more Hawaiian cuisine, something else to add to my list.

(Photo from Cristina Nogueras)

Then the action began. The clock started ticking and we were tasked with tasting and judging everyone’s food. First for me was Chef Brandon Walker. He had a fall squash custard and a turkey confit croquette, pictured above. The croquette was DELICIOUS. I’m used to the classic Spanish croqueta, but I like the twist that Chef Brandon brought into the mix. I could have easily eaten a full plate of those croquettes dipped in a variety of sauces, no problem at all.


(Photo from Cristina Nogueras)

Next came Chef Amy with her beautiful, colorful plate. As she describes it, she made “delicata delights” for the vegetarian portion of the dish, delicata moons on rosemary skewer sprigs with sun dried tomatoes and collard greens, drizzled in a cashew aioli. For the meat dish, she made “squashta ragu”, baby bella mushroom cap stuffed with spaghetti squash “squashta” with lamb ragu, topped with homemade dehydrated onion crisps and freshly sliced basil. I wish the spaghetti squash with the lamb ragu had been a bigger portion because it was delicious.

(Photo from Komeeda)

Last but not least, Chef Paula delighted us with her winning plates. For the meat plate, she prepared a delicious adobo braised porkbelly over pork fat red bliss mashed potato, garlic sautéed spinach topped with adobo sauce and garlic chips. Again, another moment when I wished I could have kept on eating beyond what was on my plate just because it was so good. For the vegetarian plate, Chef Paula served Kare-Kare- Japanese eggplant, green beans, baby bok choy and onions on top of bibb lettuce drizzled with peanut sauce and topped with toasted “bagoong” peanuts. All of this was vegan, which to me, is quite impressive! Learned a lot by just reading more on each of the ingredients chosen which is almost as fun as eating the food itself and one of the reasons I like to go to events like this.

After a busy tasting session, we got to meet some of the sponsors of the event. I was especially intrigued by The Foodstand, a food community that not only shares good dining spots, but helps you find the freshest ingredients and more. I just joined the community this week and already I have discovered some new great food lovers to follow and new spots to try in the city.

We all got to vote and Chef Paula was crowned the Chef Showdown winner! Seriously, everyone’s plates were flavorful and down right delicious. Excited for Komeeda’s next culinary adventure, Friendsgiving! Be sure to follow them on Instagram or Twitter for more information.

Buen provecho!

Congrats again to Chef Paula! (Photo from Komeeda)

Alert: Potential New Favorite Cocktail

 I love rum. I’m Puerto Rican, it’s sort of in my blood, I can’t help it. When I’m out, my “go to” drink is usually rum with Diet Coke. Don Q or Bacardi, preferably. However, as much as I love Diet Coke, I am trying to cut down on sodas. Rum is not that great either, especially when you want to keep your blood sugar levels on check.

This weekend during my trip to Boston, I stumbled into what I believe has the potential to be my next favorite cocktail: Gin Blossom. The magic happened at the trendy Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar.

According to their menu it takes: citadelle gin, st. germain, lemon muddled cucumber and raw cane sugar to make this glorious drink. I will definitely try it at home and cross my fingers that it’s not a disaster.


Lolita also had some other great things to offer. Once you are seated, they welcome you with an amuse-bouche of grapefruit granita served over a bowl of dry ice which creates a fun, smokey effect (not successfully captured in the shot above). Obviously, they offer to drizzle it with tequila. Of courseeeeee.

Of all the small plates we ordered, my favorite one was the blackened shrimp queso, “bubbling hot moteray jack cheese, blackened shrimp, roasted poblanos & pico de gallo.” I don’t think I really knew what “blackened shrimp” meant but I’m so glad I went with it.

A lot of food and gin blossoms later, we thought we were done but no, they bring in cotton candy as one last hurrah. Confession: I don’t think I had ever had cotton candy in my life. It never appealed to me. Also, when I was little my blood sugar was all over the place so I learned to stay away from sweets (tragic, I know). Cotton candy is weird, especially when you are having it for the first time with a few cocktails in your system. It was really fun, but not something I would crave. It’s such a tease, you think you are getting something and then it just fades away. So unfair.

So, what did we learn today? Cotton candy is weird and gin blossoms are exquisite. Cheers!

Impromptu Cheese Crawl


Last week I went  on a cheese crawl. Yup. Like a bar crawl, but with cheese, I’m sure you get it. Although, can I call it a cheese crawl if there were only two stops? I’m going to say that I can.

First stop: Murray Cheese Bar. I love this place, it’s always highly satisfying. I’ve had a full dinner there before, but for the purposes of this cheese crawl, I just had cheese. Below are the four picks of the night, all of them highly recommended!

Other great picks from past visits:

  • Petit Billy
  • Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen
  • Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower
  • Alemar Good Thunder

Second stop: Risotteria. Another place I love. Not only because I love risotto, but this is an awesome gluten-free spot where I can take all my great friends who can’t have gluten. Risotto is really an amazing concept and I’m a huge fan, as you may have seen here or here.

I don’t think you can go wrong with these two spots, not only do they have amazing cheese capabilities, they also have a great vibe for meeting up with friends from around or out of town.

You may have recalled I wrote an open letter to cheese a few months ago, but it was never a break up. I’m learning to balance my life so that I’m not having a full block of cheese for dinner every single night (it happens) but I can still indulge in the wonderfulness that is cheese.

On all seriousness, can we have a cheese crawl in nyc? I’m sure there is one, this city has it all…

*does quick Google search*

Guys, there is a tater tot crawl AND these guys did a grilled cheese crawl. All amazing activities, I must say. Oh my, there’s also a burger crawl. I must stop right now, this is too much to handle right now.

Ok, there’s some serious crawling that needs to happen soon. Maybe this can be a fun fall activity?

Let me just leave you with one final piece for inspiration:

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.”
Avery Aames