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

[Lunch] Why I love Maple and no, it’s not the syrup

Maple photo // Beaches & Brie

Image source: Maple

Seamless, beware. Maple is here to stay.

Maple is a food delivery service that brings in fresh, high quality meals right where you need them with the promise of excellent service and satisfaction. If you seek variety with a sense of security when it comes to your delivered meals, keep on reading.

Maple is not a subscription service, unlike what my first impression suggested. There are no commitments when you sign up for Maple, every day is a new opportunity for you to order, or not, up to you. Its unique and sleek presentation might make you forget that it’s really just a restaurant ready to make you happy with delicious meals.

How is it different? What first attracted me to inquire about Maple was their chef-inspired meals and the promise of fresh ingredients being used in healthy, yet savory plates. Little did I know that I was also about to encounter pretty much excellent customer service.

I really like the fact that they use recyclable material for the food containers and in addition, they give you bags you can actually use again for other purposes. Special shout out to their branding team, it’s easy to find your delivery guy in a busy lobby (first world problem, I know).

If I had to say something “negative” about Maple is that their menu constantly changes, so if you find a favorite plate you might not see it every single day. But hey, I think that’s part of the excitement and its charm. There’s a play with anticipation and looking forward to that element of surprise.

Now, let’s talk about what matters… the food. Don’t worry, I will not bore you with every single plate me and my coworkers have ordered from Maple thus far (a lot). Instead, I will share my first few meals which really sold me in and turned me into a fan.

File_001 (2)

Meal #1 – Ginger Braised Chicken

Like I mentioned before, their customer service is great and that is definitely the firs thing I noticed. Not only did they have a perfectly seamless experience, but they were right on time. On top of that, the food was delicious, fresh and just the right amount. Absolutely tops my typical, boring salad game I have going on for lunch most days.

File_002

Meal #2 Citrus Ginger Tofu on Cashew Rice

I did not know tofu could taste so good and feel so tender. Also, the spice was an excellent kick to keep my day going. I have not seen this plate a lot, but it is probably my current favorite.

Maple Kitchen // Beaches and Brie

Another thing to note is that they do not currently accept substitutions. I imagine it is to keep the efficiency going and I respect that. They literally list every single ingredient used in every single plate so you know what you are getting. I have chosen not to order certain plates because of one ingredient I may not be a fan of (mustard, ugh) but there is always at least one option each day that I feel happy about.

Overall, I love how they separate the food to keep it fresh and true to its flavor, yet they pair perfectly. Quantities are also just right, I’ve never been ridiculously full or left feeling hungry. Honestly, prices are not bad at all. Considering that the itemized price includes tax and tip, $11-$13 for the type of lunch you get is great, keeping in mind it’s New York City.

Have you tried Maple yet? If so, what has been your experience? Would love to hear about your favorite Maple plates too!

 

** Thank you Maple for providing me with my first free meal! All opinions are my own. **

[Atlanta] Parks, Cocktails & Tiny Doors

atlanta beltline art

When you travel, you get a sometimes annoying urge to compare everything you see with something back home. Whether it’s intentional or not, there seems to be a need to call out how certain things remind you of home or mention how you’ve never seen anything like this back home.

File_000 (40)

That being said, I really enjoyed my walk through the Atlanta BeltLine. Basically their own special version of the High Line in New York City. 🙂

File_000 (39)

File_000 (30)

I only got to walk a section of the trail, but it was a nice escape from the city. Even though you’re still technically in the city and it’s not that far at all. My sister told me about a series of tiny doors that you can find throughout Atlanta and just the idea of the hunt got me excited. There are currently 8 tiny doors. I was only lucky to find one along the BeltLine, but I was very excited that I did! Learn more about #TinyDoorsAtl here!

File_000 (41)

Through the BeltLine we got to Ponce City Market and let me tell you, it’s probably my favorite spot in Atlanta at the moment. Warning to my fellow Puerto Ricans, they pronounce it “Ponz”, I know it’s weird. Still, it’s such a cool spot. It has a trendy, old warehouse vibe with a booming marketplace and food hall. To me, it felt like a better version of the Chelsea Market in New York (there I go again, sorry).

File_000 (33)

We stopped at Mineros for drinks and had the best chips I’ve had in a whiiiile. They were the perfect state of crunchy and came with a set of salsas for dipping, all of them delicious. I wish I had had more time and stomach space to go through all the cool food spots in Ponce City Market but hey, I will be back!

File_000 (36)

Here are some other pictures of my walk that day through Piedmont Park and stay tuned for more Atlanta posts sharing all the delicious food I ate during my trip!

File_000 (37)

File_000 (35)

[Brunch] Cherche Midi

Something is French? I’m bound to like it. Ever since Cherche Midi opened, it’s been on my list.

If I’m not mistaken, the place that was there before used to serve breakfast pizzas that we would order at work all the time. While losing a place like that is clearly devastating, Cherche Midi is a wonderful replacement.

As always, I try to make my brunch experience easier with Open Table, which allowed me to comfortably arrive right to a table reserved just for me. The atmosphere is lovely, with a sophisticated touch that is also highly welcoming and cozy.

Me and my friend started the day with a pot de fromage, a parmesan custard with anchovy butter toast. Although the mention of anchovy threw me off, you could hardly taste it. It was very savory, which I really enjoy at any time, even in the morning. Overall, delicious.

For the main plate, I opted for a classic egg choice. I ordered skillet eggs with tomato, roasted pepper salad and Vermont bacon. Definitely delicious, but I also kept looking at my friend’s eggs Benedict and ended up taking a few bites (duh).

This is a place I definitely want to come back to in order to try even more options in their menu. Service was also great, to me that always makes or breaks a place.

Forget the Flowers, Here are Five Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Foodies

I don’t need to tell you Valentine’s Day is coming, a simple visit to your nearest pharmacy will suffice. Whether you are in a relationship or not, this holiday is capitalistically designed so that you are probably thinking of getting someone something, whether they are a significant other or your best friend.

On my end, I like to take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to be creative and encourage you to gift beyond the classics which are expected. I’ve compiled five top choices below to spark some ideas.

gift-paris_grande

  1. Try The World Box ($198/year) – Have you ever been obsessed with something you have not even been able to try? That’s how I feel about Try The World. Still, I can tell it’s amazing and I can’t wait to try it. Try The World is basically the best option for when you want to travel the world and eat all the food, but you can’t afford a plane ticket. You get a box every two months and each box features gourmet foods from one new country. cast-iron-fondue-set
  2. Cast Iron Fondue Set ($39.95) – Melted cheese at home? Whenever you want it? Who doesn’t want that? There are a lot of fondue set options out there, it really depends on what you are really planning to do with it. If you are just looking for a one night thing, then don’t spend big. If you see yourself, however, using it for dinner parties or even chocolate fondue, there are some fancier options like this one from Sur La Table.
  3. cookie-mix-cornflake-chocolate-chip.df767b4b2e8a6d87e598bba426544134Baking Mix Tin – Cornflake Marshmallow-Chocolate-Chip Cookie from Milk Bar ($17) – This is baking made easy and delicious. Have you had anything from Milk Bar yet? You have to. This gift can be a good activity to do together or a nice surprise if you want to skip ahead and make them beforehand for quick enjoyment. You can look at more flavors here. The mix of marshmallows and cornflakes is a delicious combination of crunch and softness, highly recommend it! This is also a good option for a more low key gift.
  4. main_variation_Default_view_2_425x425Sur La Table Cast-Iron Oyster Pan ($39.95) – I’m not gonna lie, this one is tricky. I have never really cooked seafood on my own. Sure, I love eating it, cooking it is just not my specialty. Still, since Valentine’s Day merits something special, why not cook an aphrodisiac meal? Just looking at this image gets me excited… for food. Don’t ask me where to get the oysters, I have no clue, BUT here’s some wine to drink with them. clubW
  5. Club W ($ – Varies) – Speaking of wine! Here’s another aphrodisiac that doesn’t need much explanation. I don’t really think you can go wrong with wine. If you can, plan a wine tour or local wine tasting. If you can’t, there are a lot of wine clubs out there that will make great gifts. I’m currently trying out Club W and so far, so good!

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.

File_000 (5)

File_000 (6)

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?

#ReinventSnacking with these Creamy Cheese Options

Smoked-N-Savory2-700x700

Image from The Laughing Cow ®

My love for The Laughing Cow started as a romantic French love affair. I was introduced to their classic, creamy swiss by my loving French host family and it quickly became an integral part of my breakfasts while abroad. It even substituted butter as my top choice to put on bread in the morning. When I was running out of money during my time abroad, I would still chip in to indulge in some creamy goodness. It made my cheap sandwich diet so much more exciting.

Breakfast Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

Homemade breakfast in Paris, Fall 2010. Man, those were cool place mats.

That’s why I was so excited when I got invited to The Laughing Cow’s #ReinventSnacking event in New York City. Fun event plus a brand I already love? I’m in. During the night, I got to experience three different sessions in which I was able to learn from some talented folks.

My first station was Plates, Style & Photograph Snacks with Kristen Hess, from The Artful Gourmet. Basically, my dream job. Best part of setting up for style photography? If you are lucky, you get to eat the food. I did.

The Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

The Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

I then got to meet the lovely Chef Sarah Simmons from City Grit and Birds and Bubbles. In her station, we used different Laughing Cow products to create tasty and unique treats with a touch of Southern charm.

Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

Lastly, I hit the Stop Motion Snack Video session with Amber Lee and created the video below. Guys, I’m really proud of it. But really, if you like my little video, go check out Amber’s work. Truly amazing.

Fun doesn’t end there, this month, there is another great flavor joining the Laughing Cow family… Creamy Asiago! I got the chance to try it this past month and it’s really good. It pairs well with pecans and pineapple but honestly, I can even eat it plain with one of my favorites, Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins. The Laughing Cow Creamy Asiago hits shelves this month.

Laughing Cow Creamy Asiago Snack

Disclosure: The Laughing Cow provided me with product for consideration.

All opinions, ideas and stories are 100% my own.

National Chocolate Cake Day

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

Oh yey! Another fake holiday that has us all droolin’ over food. Hey, I’m not complaining.

I can live without chocolate, but why would I want to? My favorite way to indulge in chocolate cake? Top it with some vanilla ice cream.

This chocolate cake is actually a chocolate mousse cake from Montebello Restaurant in Midtown. I had a great dinner there last night, more on that soon!

So what are you waiting for? Grab some chocolate cake and be happy. It’s that simple.

Happy #NationalChocolateCakeDay 🙂

Gifts For That Foodie In Your Life

It’s that wonderful time of year! Yes, it’s almost Christmas, even though New York City weather wants to tell us otherwise. Today, instead of sharing mouthwatering pictures, I took the time to compile a list of a few awesome gifts to get that special foodie in your life (even if that special foodie is you!).

This past month I discovered Shoptiques, thanks to the fabulous FabFitFun Winter box. Yes, I may have been living under a rock if I just heard of this website, but if you know me, you know that I’ll take a fancy cheese plate over a pair of expensive shoes anytime. That’s just how I am wired. However, that does not mean I can’t appreciate the wonder that is Shoptiques. It basically lets you shop online from boutiques all over the world, all in one seamless experience.

I got to play around with it and it was really useful to be able to shop by category, but also being able to switch and focus on one boutique at a time. My first purchase arrived in basically 24 hours and the boutique owner even wrote me a handwritten note! Simple, yet meaningful.

Need it by Christmas? They guarantee delivery on time if you order by December 20th. Also, I can now basically give you $15 dollars to spend! Just click on this link, and once you purchase and take advantage of the $15, you will get your own link to share out with friends. The gift that keeps on giving, right?

Start browsing below, hope you find something that you like!

homespun-porcelain-yes-mug-white-596b293a_pl

Porcelain Yes Mug ($16)

tumblr

Got This Tumbler ($16)

antipasto

Antipasto Tray ($20)

mason-shaker-gin-and-tonic-carry-on-kit_grande

Carry-on Cocktail Kit, Gin & Tonic ($24)

Foodie Dice

Foodie Dice ($24)

860981ec-ed4c-4d70-9a9b-778aeafd8cc8_l.jpg

Gift Boxed Cheese-Knives ($47)

chez_coasters__75228.1442964737.1280.1280.jpg

Chez Elle Coasters ($47)

new_orientation-dot-martini-shaker-gold-88105af7_l

Dot Martini Shaker ($50)

picnic_at_ascot-cheese-board-set-brown-4d3aa6ab_l

Cheese Board Set ($60)

[Brunch] Al Vez

Al Vez Enchiladas - Cristina Nogueras

“Let’s have brunch in the financial district!” is not quite what would come out of my mouth any given Sunday. What’s great about New York is that if you look close enough, there will be an amazing spot anywhere you need to be. That’s how I ended at Al Vez on a Saturday morning.

One of my good friends was visiting and he wanted to go up the One World Trade Center. I used my trusty Urban Daddy app to find a brunch place worth taking a tourist, a balance of quality and excitement. Al Vez for the win!I had been to Al Vez in Philadelphia and had a really nice dinner. Sure, their dinner was nice, but oh boy, their brunch I dare say is even better.

Al Vez Brunch Breakfast Quesadilla - Cristina Nogueras The breakfast quesadilla was toasted to perfection, filled with scrambled eggs, black beans, pico de gallo, cheddar & jack cheese.
Platains Al Vez Brunch Cristina NoguerasWe ordered a side of plantains con queso or like we Puerto Ricans like to call it, amarillitos. They hit the spot.
Al Vez Huevos Rancheros Brunch Cristina Nogueras  My friend ordered the huevos rancheros. The combination of the two eggs sunny side up, chorizo, black beans, guacamole and salsa ranchera over a crispy tortilla was the perfect mix. Topping any bite with the plantains was just glorious.

On top of the great food, it had a really nice vibe for a Saturday morning. Looking forward to trying this spot for dinner some day.

What brunch spots do you recommend around the financial district?