Food on the Move | Village Voice’s Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event Recap

We discovered so many new favorite foods at the Village Voice’s Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event. Once again, it was food trucks galore as we descended upon the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Pier 86 on Cinco de Mayo. We were determined to beat our poor performance last year and enjoy as many food truck food varieties as we could. It literally was foodie heaven being surrounded by all these food trucks at Choice Streets. Sadly we didn’t meet our goal of surpassing last year’s count, but this time, it’s because the event was packed, much more than last year, with scores of more people waiting to enter and indulge in this gastronomical feast.
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Since the event was held on Cinco de Mayo, attendees were entertained with live music from Mariachi Flor de Toloache (pictured above), New York’s first and only all-female mariachi band. Before we began to indulge, we stopped in at the Bruce Cost Ginger Ale booth to arm ourselves with this delicious, and sparkling beverage made with fresh whole ginger that’s great for digestive comfort and our over indulgence.

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With disposable tray and Bruce Cost ginger ale in our hands, we began our foodie journey. Although they were not food trucks, we had to make a stop at Mofongo NY, who was there on behalf of Puerto Rico Tourism, serving up food so good, they had the longest line for the entire event (we easily waited an hour but it was so worth it), and the Whole Foods, who were sampling delicious Applegate Hotdogs.

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From there we went on to hitting the food trucks. Our first stop was to Korilla BBQ who offered three taco variations – Spicy Pork tacos, Chicken tacos, and Ribeye Tacos. We decided to go with the Ribeye Taco, which was so incredibly divine; the steak melted in your mouth and left you wanting more.

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Our next stop was to Sweet Chili and their peppery offering of Sriracha Fries Topped with Sweet and Spicy Sriracha and Sriracha Aioli.

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We’ve never been one for pepper, but the combination of sweet and spicy added some flavorful heat to our already delicious fries. From Sweet Chili, it was on to something a bit more sweet but equally savory. We heard so many great things about SnowDay‘s Grilled Cheese, we had to make it our next stop.

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This standout food truck offered their Signature Maple Grilled Cheese, which includes sharp cheddar, Shewolf Bakery sourdough, 100% pure NY State maple syrup, Smoked Pork Spare Rib with Maple Gastrique and Spring Slaw, and Maple Lemonade. Besides the Mofongo, this was easily our favorite dish of the night. Our next stop was to Big D’s Grub Truck, offering the nights’ most unique dish, Bangkok Basil Spicy Pork fried Rice with a Runny Egg on Top.

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This definitely made our top five favorite food experiences for the night, and if we were able to, we would’ve gone back for seconds. Of course by this time, we were already starting to feel the seams of our jeans, even with the overwhelming long lines, we were reaching our limit; with room for one for dish, and armed with more Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, we headed over to Domo Taco, and their 5 Spice Braised Pork Served on Toasted Corn Tortilla with Miso Slaw, Pico de Gallo, and Sesame Crema.

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There were several trucks we didn’t make it to either because the lines were too long or we had surpassed our limits but they definitely are worth mentioning, thanks to all the praises they received from other attendees. These amazing food trucks include Andy’s Italian Ices (offering guilt-less refreshment), Souvlaki Lady, Gorilla Cheese, Pizza Luca (offering Neapolitan pizza from the biggest oven we’ve ever seen), and Langos Truck, and are pictured below:

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Of course, we can’t have a hearty meals with a spirit or two to compliment the variety of cuisines. On hand to keep libations flowing were Barefoot Wines, New Amsterdam Vodka, and Rums of Puerto Rico, etc.

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As always we had a great time at the Choice Streets Fourth Annual Food Trucks Event, it truly is a food lover’s culinary fantasy. Tell us, have you ever been to Choice Streets, are any of these food trucks favorites of yours?

Village Voice Eighth Annual Choice Eats Tasting Event Recap

Foodies from around the tri-state area converged on the Metropolitan Pavilion to once again partake in the extraordinary gastronomy experience that was the Village Voice Eighth Annual “Choice Eats” Tasting Event. With well over 60 participating restaurants that were handpicked from all five NYC boroughs, Choice Eats did not disappoint attendees who enjoyed unlimited sampling of the restaurants’ best mouthwatering dishes, indulgent desserts, complimentary craft beer pairings, wine and liquor beverages. We had the pleasuring of once again attending this illustrious event and feasted as much as we could without going into a food coma. Our food journey started led us to old familiar favorites like The Kati Roll Company, Luke’s Lobster, Doughnut Plant, and Carlo’s Bakery, but we also discovered lots of new yummy loves as well. Join us in drooling over some of what we enjoyed.

Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue – Tri Tip Pastrami w/ Horseradish Mustard & Scratchbread Rye

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Peppa’s Jerk Chicken – Seasoned Jerk Chicken w/ Festivals (Sweet Dumplings) w/ Homemade Spicy Jerk Sauce

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Delaware and Hudson – Sour Braised Beef Shortrib w/ Caramelized Onion Puree

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Kuma Inn – Pig & Pickles

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We indulged in some many delicious fare that we had to take breaks and walk around in between sampling just to help our digestion efforts. This proved to be a wonderful plan, because we got to enjoy much more than we did at last year’s Choice Eats.

After indulging in the above savory dishes, it was time to move upstairs to surrender to a few decadent desserts and get to know the Choice Sweets section of the event. We devoured the delicious samples from Tate’s Bake Shop, Fay Da Bakery, Sugar Couture, Butter Lane, Luca & Bosco, Carlo’s Bakery, Doughnut Plant, Robicelli’s, and Butter & Scotch.

After we had our fill of desserts, we walked a bit more around the event capturing photos of the festivities, talking to fellow attendees, and enjoying a cocktail or two from the participating alcohol vendors

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Full food coma was achieved when we got home after the event and we wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. Choice Eats is a must for foodies, or anyone who wants to discover new restaurants or flavors. You should add it to your “must-go-to” list immediately.

Restaurant Review: Need Epic Valentine’s Day Dinner Plans? Try Burger & Lobster NYC

We love discovering new, amazing places to dine, and our latest favorite culinary indulgence, Burger & Lobster NYC, is an UK import that offers two only entrees – Burgers and Lobsters (hence the name), at what is a beyond an amazing price. The gigantic restaurant is perfect for a night out with family, friends, or that special someone. And since it’s Valentine’s Day, what better time than to indulge your sweetheart to a fantastic meal for only $20.00 per entree. My blogger buddy, Christine Ongsueng, accompanied me to experience this simple but memorable menu. Although there is a menu for drinks, a physical menu for the entrees is not needed, rather the servers become walking menus, delighting you with tales of their experiences while indulging in the amazing culinary offerings. Below is our take on everything from the food, to the decor, to the super friendly and inviting staff.

Steak Burger

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Glasgow/Chris: The burgers are so flavorful and delicious, it should be a sin to indulge so greatly. Made from three cuts of steak – 60% Chuck, 20% brisket, 20% tri-tip, and topped with cheese and bacon in a bun that’s good enough to be consumed by itself, you may just find yourself surrendering to this Juicy, tender, and flavorsome burger.

Lobster Roll

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Chris: This is not your average $20.00 rinky dink lobster roll slathered in mayo. This is the best lobster roll I’ve had to date and I’ve tried quite a few around the city. First off, every square inch of the bread is covered in huge chunks of lobster meat. There was no stinting here! Most places give you a scoop full of lobster slathered in some thick goopy dressing. These lobster rolls are not heavy on the dressing. In fact, the sauce enhances the flavors of the lobster instead of masking them.

Glasgow: Where do I begin? Shall I begin with the brioche bun that will make you want everything you ever eat from now on to come on a brioche bun, or maybe the instant feeling of “this is what my life has been missing” upon the first bite, or how about the 1/2 pound of the most succulent, buttery lobster I’ve ever experienced. Yes, I can talk about all these things, but nothing could properly prepare you for that magic moment when your taste buds surrender to this savory decadence.

Grilled Lobster

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Chris: You can have the lobster your way– steamed or grilled. We opted for the latter and couldn’t have been happier with our choice. Yet another behemoth of pure tastiness. This was no junior lobster. This was 1.5lbs of grilled goodness. The natural taste of the lobster meat is elevated by the smokey grilled method. But as if things could not get any better, there’s the golden butter garlic sauce in which to bathe your lobster in. More than just melted butter, this dipping sauce contains a mix of seasonings that are embedded into the butter without coagulation.

Glasgow: This was the best tasting and freshest Lobster I’ve ever had. The two choices of lobster preparation will leave you in a delicious conundrum. Fans of steamed lobster will surrender to the intensity of flavor that the smokiness of fire brings forth in the grilled version while fans of grilled lobster will want to savor the sweetness and tenderness of the lobster meat that steaming provides. Whichever one you choose, you can’t go wrong, although you will find yourself wanting to try both.

Ambiance

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Chris: Normally, huge restaurants run the risk of being too bare or being over saturated with tacky decor. Thankfully, that was not the case at burger and lobster. Upon entering, one is greeted by a huge tank of lobsters whose names are cheekily written in chalk above their heads. The long bar is impressive in its size and sleekness; makes waiting for a table more tolerable and less likely to get you jostled while ordering a drink. Lobster traps are used as a subtle but impressive wall barriers. The wide aisles in between the booths make it easier for servers balancing platters of deliciousness to pass through without having to disturb the customers. There’s also a downstairs seating area complete with its own bar and a full view of the lobster containers—over 4,000 lobsters can be housed in climate-controlled blue crates!

Glasgow: I was amazed to find how a space so incredibly huge can be so intimate and open at the same time. It really is the perfect place to have a group dinner, romantic meal (another reminder it’s Valentine’s Day), or get-together with friends. The layout offers the option of a private dinner and neighbor interaction, it’s up to you. One very notable moment was getting up close and personal with one of Burger & Lobster NYC’s Big Boys. They are huge and have the most adorable phrases written on their tanks.

The Staff

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Chris: The staff is one of the nicest I’ve ever encountered. From the pure jovial nature of the hostess to the knowledgeable and entertaining waiter. The staff at Burger & Lobster NYC know just how to make their customers feel special and at home. They are attentive without overbearing and their attitudes were authentic and sweet. Through our server, Edward, we learned all about the food we were being served as well as the fact that they treat the staff very well. It’s no wonder they came across utterly genuine.

Glasgow: Let me begin by saying we both fell instantly in love with Edward and didn’t want to share him with the other diners. We asked to take a photo with our meal and the above is what we got…how can you not love him for that? It felt like we were having dinner with an old friend as he told us which meal was his favorite, the “problems” of having to taste test everything (hilariously sarcastic), and the love of his job. And though Edward was our server, we were visited by other staff who just wanted to say hello and laugh with us a bit….such an amazing friendly environment and people who really love what they do.

Artwork

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Chris: Russian artist, Alexandr Grigorev, has been commissioned by Burger & Lobster to do all of their artwork. Everything from the logo to the bibs to the murals that grace the sides of the high ceilings are done by Alexandr Grigorev. I absolutely fell in love with his oddly classic but modern caricatures of an array of different people.

Glasgow: Chris definitely says it best here on the artwork. As for me, what can I say? I love all things cheeky, and the raised eyebrow shown on the mug is dong things to me lol. I see so much in these pieces from Alexandr Grigorev and I think that’s the point.

So there’s our take. All of this is what you get the low cost of $20.00 per entree at Burger & Lobster NYC. I bet you to find a better deal or better meal for that price. trust us, your Valentine’s Day date will be highly impressed.

Holiday Gift Ideas: Dinner & One Heck of a Show from Hard Rock Cafe and Yankee Stadium

For those of you who think there’s nothing going on at Yankee Stadium during the off-season, you’ll be happy to hear how very wrong you are. There’s much more to Yankee Stadium than just attending a game. How about your own private tour of the famed stadium, followed by a delicious meal at an affordable price? The Hard Rock Cafe, conveniently located inside Yankee Stadium teams up with the famed ballpark to bring you five amazing Yankee Stadium tour options – Classic Individual Tour, Classic Group Tour, Gold Pregame Tour, Platinum Pregame Tour, and Party City Birthday Bash Tour. Adding a stadium tour with and lunch/dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe makes the perfect holiday, birthday, or anniversary gift for the baseball fanatic in your life. what’s even more amazing, proceeds benefit the New York Yankees Foundation, so while you’re enjoying this wonderful experience, you’re also doing good.

We had the honor of experiencing one of the Yankee Stadium tours and even though we’re not diehard baseball fans, the experience was such an amazing one, we want to experience it again. We imagine diehard baseball fans will describe it as magical, especially being on the field. End your tour with a great lunch or dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium with one of their two prix-fixe menus – Hard Rock Cafe Voucher #1 – $39.00 or Hard Rock Café Voucher #2 – $46.00.

So what can you expect from the tours? See below:

Classic Individual Tour – this tour may be purchased for 14 people or less and begins every 20 minutes primarily from 12 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. You can get your tour tickets online for only $20.00, if you purchase at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Windows: Adults: $25. Children (14 years and younger): $23, Senior Citizens (60 years and older): $23, Children 3 and younger are free.

Classic Group Tour – need to entertain a group of 15-35 people or maybe your fantasy baseball league is looking for a fun night out? The Classic Group Tour is perfect for you. The Classic Group Tours are booked based on availability from 9 a.m.-11:40 a.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m. daily and must be reserved in advance. Cost per person is as follows: Adults: $18.00, Children (14 and younger)/Seniors (60 and older): $16.00, and up to 4 children younger than 4 are Free.

Pregame Tour – already going to the game and want to add a unique experience to enhance your ballpark fun? If you already have a game ticket, try a Pregame Tour. The Gold Pregame Tour costs $35.00 and gets you access to the legendary Monument Park before the gates to the Stadium open up to the public. The Platinum Pregame Tour costs $40.00 and allows you visits to the SAP Suite Level, Monument Park and the New York Yankees Museum Presented by Bank of America (when available). The tour is for a maximum of 10 guests and begins at Gate 2.

Party City Birthday Bash Tour – looking for a cool way to celebrate your birthday? You will love the Party City Birthday Bash Tour. Get a tour of Yankee Stadium, a group photo for the birthday celebrant, goodie bags for all children, and New Era baseball caps for all guests. After your tour, you can tour concludes, you may continue your celebration at the Hard Rock Cafe with lunch and birthday cupcakes. The bashes can accommodate up to 35 guests, with a maximum of two (2) children younger than four (4) years old admitted at no charge but you must book at least two (2) weeks in advance. Included with this party tour:

  • Line Drive – One (1) 13’x19′ commemorative group photo for group to sign, goodie bags for all children and New Era baseball caps for all guests
  • Home Run – One (1) 13’x19′ commemorative group photo for the group to sign, 5’x7′ commemorative group photos for all guests, goodie bags for all children and New Era baseball caps for all guests *
  • For smaller groups, birthday bashes can be celebrated on public tours for $30.00 per person. Each guest receives a New Era Yankees baseball cap and each child receives a goodie bag.
  • Gift Add-On:
  1. Laser Engraved Louisville Slugger Bat (Ash or Maple): $125.00 each
  2. Custom Home Jersey: $175.00 each
  3. New York Yankees top hat logo baseball: $5.00 each

Located at Gate 6 on the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue, the Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium is open year-round to ticket holders and non-ticket holders. It features a world-famous collection of Hard Rock memorabilia with an emphasis on New York-area musicians and artists, as well as Yankees-related pieces. The restaurant seats 165 people, the bar seats approximately 32 people, and is a great place to relax after your tour. Our meal was amazing. The prix-fixe meal comes with an entree, drinks, and dessert, a filling meal to sate even the most insatiable appetites. We decided to try the Half-Rack of Hickory Smoked Ribs and Original Legendary Burger with a colossal Ice Cream Sundae for dessert, needless to say, we were gleefully stuffed.

Even today, several days after our tour, we’re still on a high from the experience. We’re still sharing stories and showing off our photos to friends and family, so we know any baseball fan will cherish this experience forever. So what are you waiting for, give them the gift they’ll really get excited about. To book your tour, call the Tours Department at 646-977-TOUR (8687) or email tours@yankees.com for information.

A Tree Grows In The Financial District: Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar Restaurant Review

Traipsing through the Financial District after business hours can often make me feel like that lone tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town. Now don’t get me wrong! That area does have it’s inhabitants, locals if you will, that give it a lived-in neighborhood kind of feel. However, with very little areas to sit and enjoy the foliage, it’s nice to find other forms of life within this architecturally overpowering pulse point of lower Manhattan. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing life in that region that was served up more of the blanched than the branched. Medici 21 is a wonderful eatery at 21 Rector Street in the Financial District that has recently come under new management.

 What has that brought to the table? Try to imagine wonderful, fresh and classic Italian fare and an energy that brings life to the tightly wound closely knit streets of the Financial District. Equipped with an amazing full bar Medici 21 is a quintessential spot for a work day lunch or evening cocktails and dinner. The revamp brings a sexy youthful verve with a polished downtown edge. Relax with a cocktail downstairs then retire upstairs for a delicious meal that covers the Italian culinary experience with both familiar and unique menu offerings.

The night that I had the pleasure of enjoying the Medici 21 experience was just euphoric. The starters consisting of savory antipasti platters, olives, mushrooms and other artisanal delicacies were a perfect start to what would become one of the best meals I’ve had in quite a while.

For dinner, Executive Chef Allen Dann served a six-course meal complete with wine pairings for each course that were appropriate for the intensity and subtleties of each dish.

Starting off were plump briny Long Island Oysters with a semi-sweet Villa Sandi il Fresco, NV Prosecco followed by the sweet and salty marriage of gorgonzola with caramelized pumpkin in the Artisanal Green Salad that were just seasonally perfect with a Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Chile.

Next, the light subtle flavor of the Beef Carpaccio with the fragrant white truffles and frosty parmesan created a textural and flavorful wonderment for the tongue while paired with a heady smooth Trivento Reserve Malbec 2013. The Wild Boar Ragu that followed had a tender rustic flavor that was nicely paired with a delicately fresh pappardelle and a Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Napa Valley.

The last two dishes sealed the dining deal for me. The Atlantic Halibut was so tender and light that it complemented the parsnip puree, Tuscan kale and Stag Leaps Chardonnay 2012 also from Napa beautifully. Dessert finished the course roundup with a Seasonal Fruit Zabaglione that was a great plate of sweet and tart flavors that matched up seamlessly with a Marchesi Di Barolo Zagara Moscato D’Asti 2012.

With the World Trade area getting a fresh new start, lower Manhattan dining is stepping up again where areas like Soho and the Meatpacking District were proving victorious. Medici 21 stands to be a great place to have you make that venture into the winding grid-less streets of the Financial District. Medici 21 Ristorante & Bar will stand to be another notable ‘Twenty One’ in the area but far more satisfying.

The Village Voice’s Third Annual “Choice Streets” Food Truck Tasting Event

We had the great opportunity to indulge in another culinary delight, one that we feel everyone should attend at least a few times in their lifetime…..trust us, it’s worth it. No longer are food trucks only regulated to post late night partying satisfaction (although you can’t deny the brilliance of cornering that market) and since variety is the spice of life, we were excited to sample the delicious eats from the 22 food trucks participating in this year’s tasting event. We had the pleasure to sample (and I use that one loosely because some well beyond filling) a wide variety delicious, international foods. Upon entry (we were given early access…yay!!), we were given a passport card, which was punched by every food truck we visited…sadly we only made it to about half the vendors. This year’s event saw the addition of five new food trucks including Carl’s Steaks, Valducci’s Pizza, Kelvin Natural Slush Co., Uncle Gussy’s and Shanghai Sogo. Our system for sampling was to go in the order the trucks were lined up in, but we were just so full, we couldn’t sample anymore.

The 22 Food Trucks newly were parked on Pier 86 of the NYC Landmark, The Intrepid; the five new food trucks (named above) joined the seventeen previously announced participating trucks: Big D’s Grub Truck, Comme Ci Comme Ca, Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches, DUB Pies, Hibachi Heaven, Korilla BBQ, Love Mamak & Lucky Yim, Luke’s Lobster, Luzzo’s La Pizza Napoletana, Mike N’ Willie’s, Moo Shu Grill, Nuchas, Solber Pupusas, Souvlaki GR, Sweet Chili, Taipan Fusion Express and Toum. below are some of our favorite, mouthwatering dishes (in no articular order):

VALDUCCI’S – The best pizza we’ve ever had hands down and we love that is comes in a Green (biodegradable) pizza box whose cover can be used as plates. If you see this truck, we highly suggest you try their amazing Thin Crust Sicilian Pizza or the regular slice, or everything.

CARL’S STEAKSeach bite of this Authentic Philly Cheesesteak (with Cheez Whiz and White American cheese – with/without grilled onions) was so deliciously juicy, it definitely made you want to go back for seconds (if only we could).

LUKE’S LOBSTER – we discovered this cult favorite at the Village Voice Choice Eats Restaurants Event, and have sort of been stalking them every since. While they are called Luke’s “Lobster”, we were delighted to try their Maine Shrimp Rolls.

MIKE N’ WILLIE’S – if you love pulled pork, you must try their Lil Piggie Slow Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich. The juicy treat is marinated in their homemade Chipotle BBQ Sauce topped with Chipotle Lime Slaw set on a Brioche Bun. What more can you ask for….well….seconds of course.

We wish we could fit photos of all our favorites continuously but that would be a very long post, please find more culinary delights below:

What makes this event even more amazing is that it benefits a great cause. The Village Voice once again partnered with non-profit organization, Slow Food NYC, and will donate a portion of all ticket sales from Choice Streets to the foundation.

Although we were too full to visit all the wonderful sponsors for Choice Streets 2014, we hope to do so next time. participating sponsors included: Shock Top, Aperol, Fairway Market, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Verizon FIOS, New York Botanical Gardens, Southern Wines and Spirits, World View Travel, Four Roses Bourbon, Ste Michelle Wine Estates, Sidney Frank, Casamigos Tequila, Focus Camera, Pedal, City Tech, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Green Mountain Energy and Frames.

Fly International On These Wings: International Wings Factory Restaurant Review

Let me preface this review by saying that, in the past, I have indeed met a wing that I didn’t like. It takes more than stumbling upon a recipe online to create an edible delicacy that inspire the senses. It truly takes an acute understanding of pairing certain tastes and flavors. Even with something as simple as a wing, one may think “oh it’s as simple as cooking chicken”. Oh nay! The tender little culinary arena of the revered chicken wing is not just your normal run of the mill poultry fix. It’s completely about the flavor.  The basic “getting the chicken” right is a given. However, it’s the distinct and memorable flavor that makes all the difference between something just on a menu since people regularly ask for hot wings and something that is worthy of a stellar review…..like International Wings Factory!

International Wings Factory is worthy, very worthy. There is a wealth of wings to be had in New York City but this establishment takes a well-deserved prize. Why? It may be their size; they have one location which is handled by its founder and head Chef Deepak Ballaney, so the integrity of the attention to flavor is preserved. It could be their aesthetic. They take the infamous wing, cook it to perfection then give it ‘around the globe’ treatment with a clever and honed arrangement of international ingredients. The result is a menu of wings that live up to the establishment’s name and an adventurous wing-lover’s palette.

International Wings Factory needs no more bells and whistles than their delicious sounding menu. At first glance the only delightfully overwhelming factor was whether to take my palette to the Far East or the Caribbean. I greedily opted to visit several places as the premise is to choose your wing, bone-in or boneless then choose one of the international coatings for your wings to be covered in along with a freshly made dipping sauce. For adventurists, food-lovers and vegans alike there are also meatballs and soy nuggets to enjoy along with regular and sweet potato fries that you can add some pep to with a flavor dusting.

I eventually chose to try five different flavor pairings. The first was the meatballs covered in Mexy Q, a spicy and zesty sauce with a Chipotle Mayo dipping sauce.  It had great heat and spiciness with the mayo adding another layer of balanced flavored heat and coolness. Then I tried the wings covered in a Black Pepper Teriyaki coating and a Creamy Cilantro sauce. The balance of hot and sweet was perfection while the sauce added a layer of “herby” freshness that didn’t at all disappoint. Next I tried wings coated in Coastal Pepper, a mix of Hawaiian and Caribbean jerk spices, served with a Jalapeño Ranch dipping sauce.  With this one, you’re first hit with the sweet then the mounting heat swoops in to deliver that familiar jerk flavor only to be cooled off by the balance of the spicy heat and cool of the dipping sauce. Finally, packed with Chinese flavor and a veil of heat that is not overpowering but enough to tang up the presence of the garlic is the Sichuan Chili Garlic wings. The classic blue cheese it was paired with brought down the welcomed heat with its classic salty sharp flavor.

Accompanying my dishes was a phenomenal side of Sweet Potato Fries lightly coated in a Spicy Garlic dusting. Applying the dusting to these freshly fried potatoes was a perfect way to lock in the flavor as the savory and the sweet paired together quite deliciously. It’s comforting to know that Chef Deepak Ballaney makes everything – coating, sauce and dusting fresh each day himself and that you’re not getting pre-packed, pre-frozen or dehydrated flavors masked to appear fresh. Whether indulging in the scrumptious wing groupings or even other menu items like a Blackened Spice Rubbed Chicken or Crispy Tilapia sandwich, Angus or Chunky Vegetable Burger or even Turkey Wingettes, the flavors offered here are undeniably great, wings down.

International Wings Factory
1762 First Avenue
New York, NY 10128
212.348.2627

NEW RESTAURANT OPENING: Contorno’s Restaurant

I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening and media tasting event for family-owned, Contorno’s Restaurant, a rustic Italian Ristorante and wine cellar on West 31st Street located inside the new boutique Holiday Inn Express just steps away from the Empire State Building and the hustle and bustle of Herald Square. The open layout (with seating for 110) allowed guests ample space to explore and mingle.

contorno inside

Contorno’s is the passion project of the Impagliazzo family, who were looking to introduce NYC to the tastes and feel of their traditional Sunday Family Dinners; a time for family and friends to come together at the dinner table to talk, laugh, and share many small Italian tapas-style dishes of traditional, old world Italian food paired with fine Italian wines. Fellow guests and I enjoyed wine tastings as well as a selection of amazingly delicious “small plate” hors d’oeuvres from the menu developed by executive chef David Buico which included some of the following:

contorno appscontorno apps2

Hand Rolled Ricotta Gnocchi w/ Wild Boar Bolognese & Shaved Dry Ricotta, Gorgonzola and Fresh Honey Comb served on toasted Raisin Walnut Ciabatta, Old fashion Veal Meatballs w/ Chick Pea Puree, Shrimp Al Pancha w/ White Heirloom Beans, Homemade Fettuccine w/ Porcini Mushrooms, Grandma’s Homemade Spaghetti, etc. Featured in the photo below are just a few of the must-have entrees available at Contorno’s
 contorno dishes
Some of the wines, led by some of Contorno’s favorite sommeliers, indulged guests with wines from around the world.
contorno wines

Dessert was heavenly, a wonderfully delicious way to end the savory and hearty meal we experienced at Contorno’s, you must experience the below Milk Chocolate & Pistachio Tart and New York Cheese Cake

desert

On February 28th, Contorno’s introduced Wine Flight Tuesday’s. Each week GM/Sommelier Marta Cisneros will lead customers in sampling a red or white wine flight from a different region, and help them learn about the wine and how to pair it with different dishes. Contorno’s also recently introduced a late night bar menu as well as a weekly Happy Hour Special from 4:30pm-6:30pm— all house wine, well drinks and beer are just $5.00

Contorno’s Restaurant is located at 30 West 31st Street in New York and is open for dinner seven days a week, Sunday-Thursday, 5 pm-10:30 pm and Friday & Saturday, 5 pm-11:30 pm. Contorno’s is also open for lunch and weekend brunch.

For more information about Contorno’s, please visit: www.contornosrestaurant.com.