French Restaurants

Eat, Drink, Be French: French Restaurant Week Kick Off at Cafe Centro

We were invited back to French Brasserie-styled, Cafe Centro, to celebrate the kick-off of the 9th edition of French Restaurant Week New York as part of the Bastille Week festivities. From July 2nd to 15th in New York (and July 9th to 22nd in Chicago), participants will experience masterful cuisine and gastronomy while honoring French culture and history. For two weeks, selected French restaurants will offer prix-fixe menus at $17.89, $25, $38, and $178.90 to commemorate the French Revolution in 1789.

Participating New York restaurants: AOC East, AOC L’aile ou la Cuisse, Bistro Vendome, Bistrot Leo at the Sixty Soho Hotel, Boucherie , Boucherie Park, Brasserie 8 1/2 Patina Group, Cafe Centro Patina Group, Cafe du Soleil, Deux Amis, Dominique Bistro, Excuse My French, Fig & Olive, Jubilee, La Sirène, Le Bateau Ivre, Le Rivage, Maison Harlem, Match 65, Pardon My French, Perrine at The Pierre Hotel, Troquet.

French Restaurant Week continues to partner with OpenTable where diners can easily book their reservations online throughout the event. At Cafe Centro, known for French favorites with a Mediterranean twist, Executive Chef Christine Towers offered up a great selection of hors-d’oeuvres paired with two appropriately selected rosé wines (‘Tis the season for Pink Drink!):  Jalliance Cremant de Bordeaux (Brut and Rosé) and Chateau Pourcieux Rosé 2017.

Chef Towers utilizes her French-focused menu to masterfully play with Mediterranean, Italian, Japanese, Peruvian and Mexican techniques on your plate together. We sampled a beautifully refreshing Leek Terrine in champagne vinaigrette, a vibrant red Tuna Crudo (with watermelon beet and citrus), and an AMAZING Beef Tartare Crostini, which we very graciously went back to for seconds and thirds because it was THAT delicious.

Chef Towers was also very interesting to briefly chat with! Not only because of her amazing Michelin-studded resume, but her proven leadership abilities as an executive chef in a notoriously male-dominated industry. I am certain she has a lifetime of stories and pearls of wisdom to share with aspiring top chefs from all walks of life.

Cafe Centro, you have made a new friend in me.  And as the French saying goes,  “Que les invités qui entrent dans cette maison, repartent en amis.”  We will be back to embrace you at your Wine Bar series this Summer!

A New Pop Up Wine Bar Series at Café Centro sees Chef Christina Towers transforming Café Centro’s outdoor patio on 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. On Monday evenings this summer, the French brasserie turns into a wine bar devoted to French pairings. Dubbed Monday Mariage, a nod to the French definition of “Mariage,” meaning “a blend of 2 things”, the wine bar runs from June 18th through September 10th, 2018 every Monday night. Each night will feature a different pairing, starting with Champagne, Provencal rosé, and Armagnac.  For $25.00 – $30.00, guests can enjoy expert pairings featuring French food and beverage menus that highlight a classic French beverage (i.e., Champagne) matched with 1-3 of its perfect counterparts (i.e. caviar). The rotating schedule kicked off on Monday, June 18th with Lanson Champagne paired with Crab Salad, CroqueMadamee with Quail Eggs and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. The full calendar is available on www.cafecentrowinebar.com.

ALL of the French Restaurant Week participating menus were so promising to the senses. I’ve already made my reservations for Le Bateau Ivre for lunch, Excuse My French for their Bar Menu offerings, and Cafe du Soleil for Dinner….stay tuned for reviews…

 

Will you be partaking in French Restaurant Week?

 

 

Edited by Glasgow Skinner
All untagged photos provided by Cafe Centro
Portuguese wines

For Wine Enthusiasts: Why You’ll Enjoy the Vinho Verde Wine Experience

Hello, summertime! There are many things to celebrate during the month of June. For one thing, it’s the month that welcomes summer. It is also the month to celebrate National Rosé Day, National Bubbly Day, National Flip Flop Day, and much more ways to celebrate summer. Speaking of Rosé, we had the pleasure of celebrating National Rosé Day at the Vinho Verde Wine Experience. It was a day filled with wonderful Rosé and White wines from over 30 leading wineries in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. (Fun fact: Did you know Rosé wine is the oldest known type of wine, dating back as far as 600 BC?)

While you may think ‘Verde’ refers to the color green, it actually refers to the wines being young wines; the Vinho  Verde wines are released 3-6 months after harvest. These wines are light to medium bodied, boast lower alcohol, are usually crisp, and feature a floral and fruity freshness. The day-long Vinho Verde Wine festival was broken down into three, 3-hr sessions. It featured sommeliers hosting information sessions about the Vinho Verde region; mixologists who created unique and distinctive Vinho Verde-based beverages at the Vinho Verde Cocktail Bar; live music; live artist painting by artist Christopher Ghiraldi throughout the event; a photo booth to capture memories;  complimentary food options from Ferris, Conmigo, New York Burger Co, Eataly NYC, Silly Chilly Dumplings, and MY/MO Mochi Ice Cream; and of course, unlimited wine tastings from such Portuguese vineyards as AB Valley Wines, Adega Ponte de Lima, Campelo, Aveleda, Quinta da Lixa, Manuel Costa & Filhos, and Adega de Monção.

The Vinho Verde region bases much of its winemaking on the unique use of blends from the several indigenous grape varietals the region is known for, such as like Loureiro, Trajadura, and the classic Alvarinho. Vinho Verde has produced wine for over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal and one of the largest wine regions in Europe.

Since it was National Rosé Day, we started off sampling the Rosé wines first, then some white wines. Our first Rosé was from the Adega Ponte de Lima vineyard. This crisp, salmon-colored wine boasts a delicate, slightly sweet with a rich wild red berry flavor. In fact, we enjoyed all the wines from this vineyard, they were all refreshing and crisp, perfect for the hot summer days. But there was more to enjoy at the Vinho Verde Wine experience.

We really enjoyed the wines from the Aveleda and Casal Garcia vineyards. These wines were very high on our lists. We loved it all, from the sweet and fresh white to effervescent sparkling, and the bright rosé. The young and refreshing Casal Garcia White has a very delicate and slightly fruity aroma making it a fresh, smooth and well-balanced wine. The Sweet Casal Garcia is sweet but not too much for an extremely hot day. We found it quite refreshing and versatile. The Casal Garcia rosé has a gentle and fruity aroma that gives it a gives it a smooth, delicate flavor. There were so many Vinho Verde Wine options per vineyard that we had to take a break to eat before we continued on our tasting journey.

After we were properly sated, we continued on to taste more Vinho Verde wines from Arca Nova, Casa das Hortas, Tapada do Marques, Casal de Ventozela, and many more.

As previously stated, Artist Christopher Ghiraldi was live painting throughout the event. The artwork was inspired by the Vinho Verde wine logo, which is wine swirling in a glass. Check out his work below:

As a wine enthusiast, the Vinho Verde Wine event was an experience to remember. We look forward to attending again next year. What are your thoughts on this wine experience fellow wine lovers? Is this something you’d enjoy attending?

Cheers to Campari and Imbibe Magazine’s Sixth Annual Negroni Week

Hello fellow Campari fans, we had a blast celebrating Campari and Imbibe Magazine’s Sixth Annual Negroni Week. This year’s Negroni Week kick-off party was everything we could have asked for and more. Not only did we indulge in a variety of specialty made Negroni cocktails, we thoroughly enjoyed the surprise pairing session and evening’s entertainment.

For the sixth annual Negroni Week, the Ragtrader was turned into the gateway to a Campari heaven, celebrating Italy’s iconic red Aperitivo and the global charity initiative. The main level of The Ragtrader featured four fun takes on the classic Negroni cocktail from NYC’s top bartenders, as well as servings of Negroni-inspired bites. We enjoyed the following cocktails: the Beyond Tiki Paradise Negroni created by Felicia Chin-Braxton, the Beyond Bitter New-Groni created by Daniel Warrilow, the Beyond Bubbles Thai Basil Sbagliato created by Stacey Swenson, and the I Bleed Negroni created by Anne Louise Marquis.

On the lower level, dubbed Club Negroni, there was an entire bar dedicated to one interactive activity – a Negroni and food pairing featuring three cocktails paired with a savory, sweet, and creamy amuse bouche.

Club Negroni Bar at the Sixth Annual Negroni Week

From left to right, we had Bitter & Brine: Vine-Groni cocktail paired with a Citrus-topped East Coast Oyster; The Sweet & Heat: Roni Negroni cocktail paired with a Cacio e Pepe Arancini Bite; and Petal & Pistachio: Rosy Negroni cocktail paired with a Creamy Pistachio Macaron.

Negroni Cockatils and Food PairingNegroni Cockatils and Food Pairing

The Club Negroni entertainment was wonderfully provided by a hilarious pianist who kept the crowd going with Hip Hop and Rap renditions. You couldn’t ask for better music while sipping on the almost unlimited flow of Negroni Week cocktails.

Pianist at the Sixth Annual Negroni Week

If the festivities we enjoyed at the Negroni Week kick-off party are any indication, the sixth annual Negroni Week is sure to be an amazing one. We are sure this year will raise more money than the $537,439 that was raised last year. Did you partake in the sixth annual Negroni Week festivities?

Women's Fashion: sample sale shopping

SHOPPING NEW YORK: Alice + Olivia Sample Sale

Today in shopping deals news, there is an upcoming Alice + Olivia Sample Sale happening very soon. If you’re a fan of stylish and feminine contemporary fashion, you will want to check out this sale. From June 11th – June 16th, you can shop discounts on all women’s fashion including one-of-a-kind samples, outerwear, dresses, sunglasses, bags, and this year – shoes, too! Keep reading for full details on this great sale.

Be one of the first to get your hands on the brand’s signature low-rise, slim-fitting pants, beautiful printed dresses and blouses, chic purses and accessories, and as previously stated, for the first time ever, shoes at discounted prices. We’re not sure what women’s footwear styles will be available at the sale, but we know the Alice + Olivia Rachelle, and Logan heels are fashion favorites that we would love to personally get our hands on. We recommend you add this sale to your calendar now so you don’t miss out on the great deals and discounts. The full details on the sale, including location and date and times, are featured below:

260 Fifth Avenue
(Btwn 28th and 29th Street)
Take the W or R trains to 28th St or the 6 Train to 28th St

Days and hours of sale are as follows:

June 11th – June 17th
Monday : 12pm – 8pm
Tuesday : 9am – 8pm
Wednesday – Saturday : 10am – 8pm

Launched in 2002, Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet is a brand that allows customers to express their personal style. With clothing that juxtaposes the whimsical and flirty with the sexy and sophisticated, Alice + Olivia epitomizes the personality and perspective of its founder, Stacey Bendet.

Will you be taking advantage of the incredible deals at the Alice + Olivia sample sale in New York? What key Alice + Olivia pieces are you hoping to score at the sample sale? Happy shopping ladies!

Cocktails for Charity: Campari and Imbibe’s 6th Year of Negroni Week

You’ve all heard of shopping for a cause, now it’s time to drink for a cause. Once again Campari and Imbibe Magazine returns for the 6th year of Negroni Week. The iconic red Italian Aperitivo will be the key ingredient of the global charity initiative that will take place from June 4th-10th, 2018. Bars, restaurants, and retailers around the world will come together over the classic Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth – to raise money and awareness for charitable causes.

Starting with just 100 participating bars in 2013, last year’s Negroni Week welcomed the involvement of 7,770 partners in 60 countries to raise a phenomenal $1.5 million for charitable causes since the initiative’s launch. The 6th year of Negroni Week promises even more.

To amplify the program’s charitable roots, Campari will be working in partnership with the USBG National Charity Foundation (USBG Foundation) to host its first-ever Campari Community Service Day. On June 5 in over twenty cities across the U.S., bartenders and Campari employees in their respective cities will gather for activities such as volunteering at local animal shelters, organizing beach cleanups and preparing and delivering meals to local charities, community groups and firehouses, feeding the people who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Tony Abou-Ganim will once again lead the Team Negroni bike rides where bartenders and cycling enthusiasts ride through twelve plus cities, including San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago during Negroni Week to benefit the Helen David Relief Fund.

Along with visiting participating bars and restaurants to buy a Negroni cocktail for charity, you can also buy some distinctive Negroni merchandise to help raise even more money. Negroni Week inspired merchandise includes  Negroni Lightbulb Decanter, Izola’s Red Matte Canvas Flask, official Negroni Week T-Shirts,  Gaz Regan Negroni Finger Stirrer, Reclamation Etchworks Laser-Etched Decanters, etc. A percentage of sales from each item will benefit various charities.

Several national partners have already committed to participating in Negroni Week, including Altamarea Restaurant Group, Hilton Hotels, Freehand Hotels, Caffè Umbria, and Hedley & Bennett. All of Freehand’s hotel locations will allow guests to donate a portion of their room stay to Children of Restaurant Employees (and save 10%) during the month of June by using the code NEGRONIWEEK. Caffè Umbria will be offering a special Negroni-inspired coffee that will be available at caffeumbria.com and at their cafes in Portland, Seattle, and Chicago, with a portion of proceeds benefitting No Kid Hungry. Adding a touch of style to the Negroni Week offerings, Hedley & Bennett has created a limited-edition Negroni Week apron (pictured above), also benefitting No Kid Hungry. The aprons are handmade with herringbone and feature an embroidered Negroni on the top pocket for those who wish to wear their love for the classic cocktail on their heart.

Campari and Imbibe will be celebrating the 6th year of Negroni Week with kickoff events in San Francisco and New York, all benefitting local charities.  Campari will also sponsor the eighth annual Negroni Social in Portland, Oregon on June 3 as well as a wrap event with Dante NYC on June 10 to close out another successful year of charitable giving.

Will you be helping in drinking for a cause by joining in the 6th year of Negroni Week festivities?

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Negroni Week

Decorate This, Not That! Small Space Decorating with Janet Lee is Fun

The first warm and sunny day in Spring will often have you taking a survey of your living space. Warm and cozy winter lighting transitions into soft life-lifting yellow beams of sunshine –  forcing you to take a fresh look – or drag a weary eye – across your living space. And if you’re anything like us, you often sigh  to yourself “I need some newness in here.” But what’s to be done to spruce up a small space where every square inch is utilized to function, store, and showcase your style? Luckily at just the right moment of seasonal change, I was invited to a book signing hosted by G ARTS books at Rizzoli Bookstore on Broadway for the launch of Emmy Award-winning television producer Janet Lee’s second book, Decorate This, Not That! It’s not just a book it’s a MIY (Make-It-Yourself) movement!

From Decorate This, Not That! by Janet Lee, copyright © 2018, glitteratieditions.com

Janet Lee, a famed television producer who has worked with some heavy-hitting American tastemakers such as Martha Stewart,  Nate Berkus, and Oprah Winfrey, knows her way around a small space. Her first book, Living in a Nutshell, is a testament to making more out of less. Her new book, Decorate This, Not That!, is PERFECT for us small-space dwelling city girls and guys with an eye for design, function and finds.  Something I am able to do to make my small space a little bit more beautiful.

Photo courtesy of ©Jill Lotenberg

During the book signing, her guests were treated with many gems of wisdom from her book, trivia questions, and prizes, and a really fun DIY decoupage crafting project which I have to say was relaxing after a long day of hustle and bustle in New York City.

Photo courtesy of ©Jill Lotenberg

Photo courtesy of ©Jill Lotenberg

Flipping through the book Decorate This, Not That!  You will find multi-functional storage ideas. Chapters are organized by both indoor by room and include TIMED  step-by-step design challenges that will flex your style quotient and mentorship for hard-core design junkies and first home buyers alike.

Photo Courtesy of ©Aranya Edmonds

From Decorate This, Not That! by Janet Lee, copyright © 2018, glitteratieditions.com

From Decorate This, Not That! by Janet Lee, copyright © 2018, glitteratieditions.com

Especially useful is the book provides the financing of each project,  as well a ‘Where to buy’ for many items at the back of the book.

Decorate This, Not That! by Janet Lee is published by G ARTS. It boasts 200 pages and is available for $35.00 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Rizzoli Bookstore.

AWARD-WINNING, PREMIUM TEQUILA

The Tasting Room: An Evening With Joey Angelo and VIVA XXXII Tequila

An evening enjoying a great cocktail is always a good time but an evening enjoying great cocktails and learning all about the spectacular spirit from the CEO of the brand is a truly an amazing experience. That’s what we got to enjoy when we partaked in a tasting event with Joey Angelo, President, and CEO of VIVA XXXII Tequila.

AWARD-WINNING, PREMIUM VIVA XXXII TEQUILA

We enjoyed an intimate tequila tasting of these exquisite tequilas (handcrafted in Tequila, Mexico), as Joey Angelo walked us through the rich flavors and powerful aromas of the three varieties of VIVA XXXII Tequila – Joven, Reposado, and the newest addition, Extra Anejo. We enjoyed delicious pairings with all three tequilas, as he also educated the event’s guests on VIVA’s charity connections.

AWARD-WINNING, PREMIUM VIVA XXXII TEQUILA

If you’re not yet familiar, VIVA XXXII Tequila is meant to sip and savor, but priced so you can indulge. This award-winning, handcrafted tequila is more interested in you enjoying their tequila instead of their overhead cost. That’s why although their tequilas are superb and their packaging eye-catching and chic, their tequila is wonderfully affordable. You have to love a brand that cares more about their customers than their bottom line, especially when their product is on par with more “expensive” tequila offerings.

AWARD-WINNING PREMIUM JOVEN VIVA XXXII TEQUILA

The crystal clear Joven Tequila is made with 100% Blue Agave Blanco tequila blended with their 3-year old extra Anejo. Its flavor profile is crisp and clear with lemon peel, white pepper, vanilla, and hints of citrus. Its aroma is just as crisp thanks to its notes of lemon, white pepper, verbena, and yerba buena. This made it the perfect base for the slightly spicy ginger-turmeric cocktail we enjoyed.

AWARD-WINNING, PREMIUM VIVA XXXII TEQUILA COCKTAIL

The pale gold Reposado (pictured in the middle of the very first photo) is made from 100% Blue Agave tequila which has been rested in American Oak barrels for six months. Its tasting notes features hints of vanilla, caramel, nutmeg, and cinnamon with an aroma of agave forward with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a hint of toasted nuts. The newest member of the VIVA XXXII Tequila family is the Extra Anejo.

PREMIUM EXTRA ANEJO VIVA XXXII TEQUILA

This sipping Extra Anejo is dark amber in color with a rich and balanced profile thanks to it being rested in American Oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Because its aging process is longer, it’s tasting notes brings forth fruit notes with hints of caramel, sandalwood, and honey on the palate. This makes this tequila full-bodied with an exceptionally smooth finish.

Believe it or not, the taste and the bottle design aren’t the only amazing things about this brand. Did you know that 10% of net proceeds from the sales of these bottles help rescue animals from animal abuse? How amazing is that? You will notice this by the adorable sketch of a dog featured on the bottom side of each bottle.

We truly loved all three varieties but especially loved the crispness of the Joven. Tell us, dear readers, have you tried VIVA XXXII Tequila? What are your thoughts on this premium and affordable tequila?

 

Vina Croatia: A Croatian Wine Region Tour in Midtown

Croatia may be a country known for its gorgeous coastline and striking Game of Thrones–inspiring structures, but its vineyards and wineries, steeped in tradition and history are also a huge part of its charm and appeal. Its dramatically diverse regions from the Alps to the Danube provide a variety of wines that can please every type of oenophile. Recently, a dinner held by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce at Midtown’s Brasserie 8 ½ gave us a taste of what the Croatian wine region has to offer.

Ten flights of wines from light whites and a rosé to deep full-bodied reds were expertly paired with a citrus shrimp appetizer, a choice of filet mignon or a rack of lamb, and warm pear with maple ice cream.

The introductory wine came from the Istria region— where the cold of the Alps mixes with the warmth of the Mediterranean, producing interesting wines such as the 2016 Kozlovic Malvazija (not pictured). It is a dry golden white with notes of fruits and spices and a slight hint of saltiness – which poetically sums up the melding of the coast and the mountains.

The next wine we tasted is a must for every rosé lover. The Erdutski Rosé is made from the Pinot Black grapes of the Slavonia region and has a warm blush pink color. It’s a refreshing medium body selection with a hint of cherries.

Staying within the Slavonia region, our next white wine on the Croatian wine region tour, the Vezak Graševina was a fine example of Croatia’s principal grape variety, the Graševina. The color of this dry white echoes the colors of the golden fields that are characteristic of the Croatian valleys. Its flowery aroma mixed with a fruity bouquet with a slight mineral aftertaste will compliment a seafood meal or a white meat platter.

A different take on the Graševina came in the form of a 2016 Riesling from Vina Antonovic. This wine is an earthy blend of green apples and floral blossoms with a similar mineral taste (albeit a little sweeter than the last white); this seems to be the recognizable trait of the Slavonia region and the Croatian Danube.

 

To say that the next white wine was blessed with the sweetness of citrus, peach, and roses would not be a stretch. The Žlahtina sv. Lucija (not pictured), named for the church of St. Lucy on the island of Krk, is a golden mix of yellow-greenish hues that pair well with meat, fish, rice, and polenta dishes. It certainly enhanced the taste of our rack of lamb.

The Miraz Graševina has won multiple awards for its dry but creamy taste. The vineyard’s wine fermentation process includes extensive supervision and temperature control. Smooth and full-bodied with deeply aromatic notes, this white wine with an enchanting green-yellow hue goes well with just about everything from poultry, to seafood, and pasta dishes.

During the second half of dinner, we were introduced to some very fine red wines. First up was the award-winning Dingač Berba 2015 from Dalmatia — a region known not only for those firehouse dogs but also for the Plavac Mali grapes. The variety is grown in the sun-drenched slopes and coasts of Dalmatia and produces full-bodied reds. This black dry wine had a berry aroma with a hint of a chocolate aftertaste. It brought out the spices in our main course but can also be enjoyed with mature cheeses.

The next Croatian wine region red wine was another award-winning Plavac, the Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru. The grapes, organically grown in the picturesque slopes of the island of Hvar, come from 35 to 50-year-old vines. The wine is then aged in French barrique barrels for two years and 6-12 months in the bottle. It’s a dry red with hints of leather, pepper, chocolate, and prunes. Its earthy quality is best paired with steaks and lobsters or both for a delectable surf and turf option. Depending on how big of a company you are having or how much you can consume (no judgments), there is small, medium, and large bottles available.

The third red wine was the Ivan Dolac Barrique, named for the aforementioned French barrel it matures in, 1also hails from Hvar. It’s a dry robust wine with a berry and almost floral aroma. It’s smooth and easy on the palette and makes a nice compliment to any roast game or grilled fish.

The final Croatian wine region wine of the night was the Kabola Muškat Momjanski, a perfect ending to our Croatian wine introduction. It went well with our warm pear and maple ice cream dessert. It’s a refreshing and medium-bodied white with notes of peaches, rose, and honey with a slight mineral quality that gives it a lingering taste. This is our pick for an ideal summer wine.

You can tell a lot about a country by its wines. The wines were a spectacular representation of the different regions that make up such a fascinating country. From the Mediterranean to the Alps, each wine embodied a distinct characteristic specific to the climate and the area they came from. Based on what we’ve tasted, we’re ready to spend a lot of time in Croatia! Are you excited to visit the Croatian wine region?