Tag Archives: Booze

Mmmhops

mmmhops-logo

When I was a kid I liked Hanson. Okay… I liked Hanson a LOT. But if one of my family members tries to tell you I was like, obsessed or whatever, and that I had a magazine-cutout shrine to Taylor Hanson on my closet door and I actually ordered their t-shirt off the Eggo waffles box, then they are bold faced lying. And that’s a fact.

Anyway, today I found out my present love and my past loves are coming together: Hanson is making beer. And it’s called Mmmhops. And I couldn’t make this sh*t up.

In more altruistic news, they are selling Mmmhops merch and donating the proceeds to charity. So when you pick up a 6-pack of this stuff, you can buy a t-shirt too, and you don’t have to feel all that bad about it. You’re helping disaster relief in Oklahoma, where the boys are from.

And in COMPLETELY unrelated news… my birthday is in a month and a half.

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Drink up, loves! It’s Friday!

The giant margarita for 2 at Cabo Cantina, Los Angeles, CA

Just a quick Friday reminder that Food E. has gone through a minor change that will spur a whole lotta more major changes. I’m puttin’ some work in, friends. And money. Time and money. So you know it’s gonna be good.

Tell your friends! You can now go directly to LaurenFoodE.com! Bookmark it! Email it! Twitter it! Write it in the sky with smoke! I’m excited, and hell, you should be too.

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Hard Cider

A quick post today to plant a seed in your brain. An APPLE seed, if you will. I can not stop thinking about Thanksgiving. It is the high holy day of the food calendar and trumps any summer picnic, winter soup, or spring salad you can think of. It is a day dedicated to stuffing your face.

…Oh yeah. And those pilgrims or whatever.

What beverages do you serve at Thanksgiving dinner, friends? My family serves wine. Lots of it. And by the time pie is served everyone is ruddy-cheeked and spilling things in each others’ laps. It’s pretty magical.

This year, why not serve hard cider? It’s delicious, it’s seasonal, and it’ll get you drunk faster than beer. But you didn’t hear that from me.

My favorite is Bulmer’s which is only sold in Ireland, but its alternately-named twin, Magners, can be found in most grocery stores in the US and is worth a taste. It isn’t as sweet as other hard ciders (which I prefer) but still has the apple-y crisp flavor you’d expect. More here on hard cider, from the New York Times.

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Free Sangria!

There’s a headline that’ll get your attention, am I right? This past weekend I went out for a delicious brunch with my lovely friend, Ben. When he sent me a list of possible new brunch spots, I saw the words “free sangria” and all other information was null and void. If there’s a better way to kick off your Sunday, I have never heard of it.

Combination plate with scrambled eggs, chorizo, and yuca frita

Agozar 326 Bowery and Bleecker St, New York, NY. Agozar is a Cuban-inspired restaurant positioned in a trendy neighborhood but with friendly prices. The brunch can not be beat! For around $15 – $17 you get an entree and two-hour unlimited free sangria.

On the menu:
Eggs benedict, Cuban style (Spanish ham, poached eggs, chipotle hollandaise, and Cuban toast) with salad
Combination plate: scrambled eggs, chorizo, yuca frita, and Cuban toast
Sangria!

Eggs benedict, Cuban style

Verdict: I don’t know, I’m still drunk.

Kidding! The food was DELICIOUS. An unlimited brunch drink special is no good if the food isn’t worth going for alone, and Agozar did not disappoint. Most would tell you I have an eggs benedict addiction and while they may be borderline correct, I just love trying out a new take on my favorite dish. My only criticism is that I like a thick slab of ham and you can see that this was sliced deli thin. In my opinion, when you have a hearty dish like eggs benedict you need the meat to stand out on its own. The chipotle hollandaise was a slightly spicy take on your standard hollandaise and while not a fan of anything spicy myself, I was putting this stuff on my lettuce and debating licking the plate clean. The chorizo was also perfectly done, crispy and hot off the grill and served in link form, which I prefer to the chorizo crumble you get in a lot of restaurants.

It should also be said that while the sangria was free, it was also very tasty. And they are not shy about refilling your glass! I highly recommend it.

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Hot Time, Summer in the City

As I mentioned, I am never one to be up on new hot spots in the city. If I’m raving to a friend about an amazing “new” place I stumbled upon, it’s usually followed by an eye roll and a, “Yeah, that opened three years ago.” But this time it’s different! A ha. I am finally in the know.

The bar at Reunion Surf Bar, complete with giant-sized bartender. Cowabunga, indeed.

Reunion Surf Bar 44th Street between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue, New York, NY. Reunion is an almost-hidden bar in Hell’s Kitchen (aka Culinary Wasteland) that is, for now, a spacious, dimly lit, surf-themed bar with potent cocktails and a creative bar menu that highlights the cuisine of Madagascar (Reunion island is off the coast of Madagascar). Videos of skaters and surfers play on the flat screen TVs as a “Gidget” vibe hangs heavy in the air. It isn’t fake or overtly kitschy – it’s just genuine and laid back and a welcomed oasis in the center of midtown Manhattan.

On the menu:
Hang Ten cocktail
Mai Thai
Le Americain sandwich

The Hang Ten and the Mai Thai

Verdict: YUMMM OH THANK YOU JESUS YUM! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to now have a delicious cocktail bar with incredible food situated a few short avenues from my office. Or maybe it’s not a relief to my ever shrinking bank account. Whatever.

The cocktails at Reunion are the perfect blend of potent and smooth. I hate when a bartender feels like they need to put enough alcohol in your drink to make you drunk after three sips. I’m not 19… I mean, 21 anymore, Bar Man. Make me a nice-tasting cocktail. Becca and I started out with $3 grapefruit/vanilla shots (yeah, Happy Hour til 8!) and swiftly moved on to cocktails: the Hang Ten was exceptionally delicious, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t traditionally enjoy a sweet drink.

The standout of the evening, however, was a sandwich called Le Americain: a baguette split open and stuffed with won ton meatballs, a sweet-mustard chutney, melted gruyere, and FRENCH FRIES. Did you hear me? I said a SANDWICH stuffed with FRENCH FRIES. The waitress told us it was “huge” and easily split between two people but truth be told… we could have each eaten our own. It’s just that delicious.

Or we’re just fat.

I can’t recommend this bar enough, so hit it before it fills up with suits and Bridge-and-Tunnelers. Because you know that it will.

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One Drink to Remember

Sometimes I think I can’t wait to leave New York, and then I remember that I literally have everything at my fingertips. Cooking classes at dirt cheap prices taught by chefs that have worked at 4 star restaurants in Manhattan? Psh. Old hat. More on that tomorrow…

After a fantastic culinary experience (as I said, more on that tomorrow…) I like to refresh myself with some gin.

Have I mentioned I am NOT an alcoholic?

A quick shout out to DuMont in Williamsburg for their inventive cocktails (like the Dell Fresca pictured below, made with St. Germain, fresh dill, Seagram’s gin, cucumber, lime, and soda). The guy next to me at the bar ordered a burger and it was literally the size of my head. When I Googled “Dumont, Brooklyn, NY” the first thing that came up was “Best Burger in Brooklyn!” and then it was reiterated by many, many websites. When I arrived back in Queens, I actually considered hopping the train back to the BK to partake. Good thing Dumont is close to the subway station.

DuMont Restaurant, 432 Union Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.

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Speak Easy and Carry a Big Stick

I’m not one of those people who always knows the newest hidden bar or the most up-and-coming clubs and lounges, but I do like a good drink and I do like to ingest it in a bar that boasts a great atmosphere. I don’t feature many bars here on Food E. but this one is worth mentioning, so while I’m on an “I Love Queens” kick, I’ll share.

Not the most reputable neighborhood, eh?

Dutch Kills 27-24 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens, NY. Dutch Kills is owned by the same guys who own Milk and Honey and Painkiller in Manhattan. The bar is modeled after the speakeasies of the 1920s, so it’s “hidden” and it’s really word of mouth that gets people in the door. The cocktails are hand crafted and served with hand-cut blocks of ice (large chunks of ice melt slower in your drink), or candied ginger, or pickled cucumber, or another little bit of heaven you won’t find at your local Tonic. If you don’t see anything on their seasonal menu that tickles your fancy, you can tell the bartenders what types of drinks you usually enjoy and they’ll create something especially for you. You could veritably go to Dutch Kills every night and drink something new each time.

Not that I’ve tried or anything… I’m not alcoholic. I’m NOT.

Anyway… on my last visit I enjoyed a Gin Fizzie, which was perfect for the blistering heat. During the winter they make an incredible whiskey ginger with fresh ginger that’ll put hair on your chest. Unless you’re a lady. And then that’s just gross.

The interior is dimly lit, with dark mahogany surfaces, and an old school piano perched over saw dust in the back. If you’re ever wandering around the back alleys of Long Island City, try opening the door labeled “BAR.” You could get lucky.*

*Or you could get mugged. Make sure you’re opening the correct door, people.

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The Green Wonder

Sometimes I have mundane things for dinner, and I think, is this worth posting? But if this grabs you:

… then maybe you might be interested in my hum-drum dinner. I am currently obsessed with everything to do with this green fruit, and I find myself ordering anything on a menu that has avocado in it. They have the good kind of fat (I know, right? Good fat?! Yes, please!), they add gorgeous color to any dish (okay, not ANY dish), and they have such a brilliant, smooth, creamy texture that I could just bathe in them.

But I won’t.

That would be weird.

Anyway… tonight for dinner I created a burger-less version of my favorite burger: swiss cheese, bacon, and avocado. This is amazing on a ground beef patty, but I used sliced smoked turkey (on sale at my local grocery) and it was divine. Way better than the spoiled potato salad I had for lunch…

…I don’t want to talk about it.

Are you an avocado lover? Here are a few more ideas of what to do with this peerless pitted pod of perfection.

… Sliced up and wedged between scrambled eggs and mozzarella in a tortilla for breakfast

… In the standard guacamole with salty chips and margaritas (avocado, chopped red onion, lime juice, and cilantro – easy as pie!)

… Blended with powdered sugar and lemon juice as frosting for a yellow or white cake (seriously!)

… Sliced up on toast with a sprinkle of lemon juice and coarse kosher salt

… Cut into chunks, add chunks of honey dew, sprinkle with lime juice, and use as a salsa for white fish or sauteed scallops

… Sliced up on crusty french bread underneath a layer of watermelon (I know, this is a weird one, but it is SO GOOD… I’m a texture girl myself)

A few tips when using avocados:

In any type of recipe, once you remove the meat from the skin and the pit, it will turn brown unless you add lime or lemon juice (notice all the above suggestions that are not immediately melted on a sandwich have lime/lemon juice in them)

A ripe avocado can be cut in half, around the pit, and twisted apart. Stick a sharp knife in the pit, twist, and it should pull right out.

To remove the meat from the skin: scoop with a spoon starting at the narrow end of the half, or for a VERY ripe fruit, peel away the skin (this is my favorite way because it preserves that smooth rounded appearance)

If you’re only using half an avocado at a time, you can leave the pit in the leftover half and it’ll help it keep longer in the fridge.

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Filed under Cooking, Miscellaneous, Recipes

Cinco de Mayo for Just Un Dolar!

Is that Spanish? Who even knows. And that post is misleading because Cinco de Mayo is today, a Wednesday, and these deliciously cheap tacos are only available on Tuesdays. But don’t be sad: you can go eat $1 tacos next Tuesday and pretend like it’s Cinco de Mayo all over again. Don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody.

Fish tacos! Apologies for the wonky color... clearly my camera has a mind of its own.

Wharf Bar and Grill 3rd Avenue, between 38th Street and 39th Street, New York, NY. Located amidst other bars boasting specials and deals for Happy Hour, Wharf is lovely because it’s spacious, there’s an area upstairs that can accommodate big parties, and it’s an easy going vibe. There are always drink specials and the staff is incredibly friendly.

On the menu:
Shock Top beer
$1 Tacos (fish, chicken, and beef)

Verdict: Did I mention each taco costs $1? How could this possibly be anything but incredible? Each taco is served on a corn tortilla that measures about 5″ in diameter, and you have to order in groups of 3, but truth be told: I ate 6. And I drank 2 delicious summery Shock Top beers (it’s like a Blue Moon). And I was comfortably full. I’d imagine if you’re a large man, you could probably eat 12 tacos and not eat for the rest of the night, but that’s still only $12! The protein of your choice (ground beef, shredded chicken, or fried fish, of which persuasion I’m not sure) is tucked into its shell with shredded lettuce, chopped red onions, a generous helping of shredded cheese, and a spicy salsa verde.

So this month, in honor of… um… the Fifth Day of May (seriously, what IS Cinco de Mayo?), have a taco! Because it’s only a dollar! And it’s delicious! And you just don’t need any more reason than that.

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Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

Ireland holds a special place in my heart, and it has very little to do with the green shamrocks and drunk dudes from New Jersey getting into fist fights in the streets of Manhattan. It has everything to do with this:

Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry

I spent six weeks exploring Ireland under the guise of “study” abroad in the summer of 2006. My time on the Emerald Isle supplied me with some of my fondest memories, and one day in particular stands out as one of the best of my life.

As the rain poured down on the small coastal town of Dingle in County Kerry on the Western coast of Ireland, a small group of us decided that despite the weather we’d venture the mile or so into town. We couldn’t spend one whole precious day sitting in the hostel. So we donned thin rain jackets, insufficient footwear, and our most ambitious spirits and powered through the sheets of rain that pummeled down from the skies. I have never laughed so hard and I have never been so drenched. By the time we reached Murphy’s Pub, each of us was soaked down to our skivvies and desperate for an Irish coffee, a bowl of chowder, and a thick slice of brown bread.

Many pints and bowls of chowder later, we were still damp but warm, sated, and happy. I know it was the company that made that day what it turned out to be, but the brown bread didn’t hurt.

Toasting in celebration of making it all the way into town! Murphy’s Pub, Dingle, Co. Kerry

This will never replicate the dense, dark bread served at most pubs and Irish restaurants in Ireland itself, but in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d fill my apartment with a familiar scent.

On the menu: Irish Brown Bread
Makes 1 round 9-inch loaf
(Adapted from Epicurious Brown Bread Recipe)

4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup milk

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, wheat germ, salt, sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until integrated. Make a well in center and add buttermilk and regular milk, stirring until a dough forms. Gently knead on a floured surface, adding just enough more flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Transfer dough to cake pan and flatten to fill pan. With a sharp knife, cut an X (1/2 inch deep) across top of dough, 5 inches long. Bake until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, around 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up, about 1 hour.

You can serve this right away but it slices more easily after sitting at room temperature for a day.

Best served when your clothes are damp from a long walk through the rain in Dingle, heavily buttered and accompanied by sassy lasses and a frothy pint of Bulmers cider.

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