Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sunday Sangria


Sunday Sangria

Professional and consistent attention to detail and a focused dedication to every dish served out of the kitchen is what impresses me, and Cebu Bar & Bistro gets it right every time. This restaurant in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn is five minutes from my home, and the slightly mysterious aura is attractively chic while offering culinary surprises that yield outstanding power flavors.

I was happy to enjoy Sunday brunch with my dear friend, Christina Moore, an executive at MTV and the present Miss Kings County. As Christina and I happily  discussed her pageant journey for the very near future and my upcoming cookbook release, we ordered from a brunch menu that boasted such delights as aromatic mussels bathed in a broth of lemon-grass, coconut and jalapeno. Over the years I have developed my share of recipes for mussels, and I find Cebu’s combination for their mussels to be quite exciting. I also caught a glimpse of cornmeal pancakes, another eclectic offering. As a lover of fish tacos, I admired their topping of mango Pico de Gallo and an avocado lime crème. Note the picture above as a friendly waiter passed by and held that enchanting serving of tacos up for a quick shot by my Iphone.
But alas, I was in an Eggs Benedict mood and especially up for a brunch drink. The good news is that I now have yet another reason to visit Cebu, and that would be their white sangria.
Christina selected a mimosa while I ordered sangria, and I opted for the white as it is a better pairing with Eggs Benedict as opposed to red.  Before I even had a taste, I noted that Cebu is that rare establishment that understands the correct way to prepare this festive drink. The apples were cubed, and apples should always be cubed in sangria. The same rule stands for pears and peaches. All wines have a level of  acidity and will break down the fruit if sliced too thin. My chilled glass was filled with a vibrant white wine sweetly laced with bursting fruity flavors.  Suffice it to say, Cebu prepares the best white sangria I have ever tasted, and I have tasted this drink all over the country.
When in Brooklyn, visit Cebu for brunch, lunch or dinner. They never disappoint, and there are many offerings on their menu that pair perfectly with their wickedly wonderful white sangria!
Cebu Bar and Bistro
8801 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209

Arthur Ave in the Bronx!

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, a perfect day...

When I am an old lady, I will look back on life and clearly define the best days that I have lived, the ones that could really be called perfect. They all involve my three sons, my family and friends and paramount events. However, I have added one more day to that list. The teenagers in my past culinary class, a talented chef, and a man named Mike who had a vision, all get the credit for making this such a memorable time.
It was perfect weather here in New York City one summer morning. No humidity, a slight breeze and a majestic  blue sky.  All eight youngsters were ready to embark on an anticipated food adventure with me. One of my students even donned his custom-made chef jacket with his name embroidered on the breast. Honestly, this kind of enthusiasm truly makes my culinary world even brighter.
Our destination- Arthur Ave in the Bronx!
Arthur Avenue is considered the most traditional and sentimental Little Italy in all of New York City. Offering a wealth of history and very high quality Italian food, this community boasts many generations that  are committed to the preservation of their old-world and charming neighborhood.  That charm and comforting climate is present among the string of food establishments- pastry shops, bread stores, gourmet pork stores, butchers, coffee shops, restaurants, raw bars and fresh fish markets.
There was no traffic as our mini bus made its way through Manhattan. My students wore expressions that told me they were eager to taste and learn. We made perfect timing, and started out with a walking tour of the whole area. They had thoughtful questions about the many different foods we encountered, and I realized how much I was thoroughly enjoying this day.  We were scheduled to attend a class on how to make fresh mozzarella. Part of the class involved a lot of tasting of traditional Italian dishes.  I couldn’t help thinking that if the food did not live up to all the hype, then this so-far perfect day was only going to be partially perfect.
The good news is that the food lived up to more than the hype, and I owe that to Chef David Greco. David is the second generation owner of Mike’s Deli. His dad is Mike who still works at the establishment which is a cornucopia of divine Italian imported foods and exciting home-cooked dishes.  When we entered Mike’s Deli, David was waiting for my class. He took hold of my students and made them his own for forty five minutes. He and his team went through the entire process of how to make and serve his milky, salty and outstandingly delicious fresh mozzarella. He thrilled my students with his knowledge and expertise. His helpers served a splendid pasta dish with David’s fresh aromatic tomato sauce of basil and garlic. Next, David doled out the mozzarella with a perfect pesto dripping over the pure little white hills of fresh cheese. 
I knew that David’s eggplant parmigiana was considered the best in the country. I also knew that the famous Bobby Flay challenged him to a throw-down on the Food Network, and David was the winner. I asked him to tell the boys and girls about the experience. First, he called out to the kitchen for his famed dish. David cut up that mouthwatering eggplant parmigiana and served it piping hot on fresh crusty Italian bread.  Then he told of the exciting experience of being challenged to a throw-down. 
He said to me “Bobby Flay came in here with his eggplant parmigiana, and he baked it with the SKIN still on! Could you believe that?” 

David and I exchanged expressions of clear Italian shock over such a happening!
David also went on to tell us about his time as a contestant on the popular TV show, Chopped.  The boys and girls absorbed the whole experience with big smiles, wide eyes and a healthy appetite. When it was over, I purchased the  irresistible food of Mike’s Deli. I took home soppresata, cacciocavalo cheese, the exceptional smoked mozzarella and, of course, three perfect large balls of fresh mozzarella. That evening, I served my treasure of Arthur Avenue delights at dinner to my parents, sons, brother and nephew.
I encourage my readers to go on a day trip to Arthur Avenue with family and friends or any special group of people. This is not considered food shopping or a task. This is an eating adventure at Mike and David’s establishment where they combine an old-world atmosphere  with one taste more tantalizing than another. You can end the day with dinner at one of the many popular Italian Restaurants along the avenue.  And perhaps, when you reach old age, you will also look back on life and consider your trip to Arthur Avenue as a perfect day.
Mike’s Deli “The Original Arthur Avenue Italian Deli”
2344 Arthur Avenue
Bronx, N.Y. 10458

Pesto, Pizza and Pinball in Providence

Pesto Pizza and Pinball in Providence!

My nephew, Anthony Arthur, (we affectionately call him Artie) is a recent graduate of Providence

College in Rhode Island. Upon spending more than one weekend there, Artie made great choices in

restaurants, especially for his food-loving aunt.
However, the unexpected tickled my culinary senses in that tiny and charming state of Rhode Island. Recently, we were on our way home to New York after Artie’s graduation weekend had come to a close. We were very proud, very tired and very hungry. A quick stop to eat was called for as we left Providence. Then the unexpected happened! This New York City girl who comes from the home of the best pizza in the world, happened upon a slice of pizza that rivaled what we eat, serve and adore in Brooklyn! Yes, this is true. And the praise goes to Fellini Pizzeria.
First of all, any food establishment that still has a pinball machine proudly displayed in their dining area will immediately win major brownie points from me. I do cherish nostalgia. That said, as we approached the unassuming counter with the many offerings of pizza on display, one round brilliantly green and red festive pie caught my experienced eye. It was Fellini’s pesto pizza. My sister-in-law and I both ordered a slice while my brother opted for the white pizza. He reports that it was quite delicious.
As to the pesto slice, we enjoyed deep and pure flavors. The tomatoes were lightly sprinkled with olive oil and baked into the rich goodness of melted mozzarella and flawless basil sauce. This trio topped a golden and crispy crust, and it was a success.
In addition, Fellini Pizzeria has another commonality with Brooklyn. It was difficult to park in the area! However, we did find a space that allowed us this fine experience, and it was worth the effort.
I recommend Fellini Pizzeria to all my followers in Providence, Rhode Island and to anyone who will be visiting the area in the future. A taste of Brooklyn along with a glimpse of pinball nostalgia is waiting.
Fellini Pizzeria
166 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI

A Taste of the Keys!

A Taste of the Keys!

Steve’s Key Lime Pie is incomparable in majestic flavor and quality. My positive experience in purchasing this pie began with immediate comfort in visiting Steve’s enchanting little pie shop nestled on the waterfront in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. While most bakers use bottled lime juice for their key lime pies, Steve’s team will not even consider such a down grade. The tall glass jar filled to the brim with fresh key limes on his counter is a testament to this fact.
When I returned home with Steve’s pie, we enjoyed a prime dessert that was made with ultra pure and high-scale ingredients. The  pies are not made with condensed milk of the canned nature, but rather a fresh dairy product that is shipped into New York every few days from the Mid-West. The consistency of the pie filling is flawless like a silken pudding, and the taste is a sweet and smooth tartness . The graham cracker crust is created with a rich butter holding the perfect crumbs together as a base.
Steve’s company offers the pie in more than one size. It also serves key lime filling as a lollipop dipped in chocolate. I highly recommended a trip to Red Hook for a taste of Florida in New York!
Steve’s AUTHENTIC Key Lime Pie
204 Van Dyke Street/Pier 41, Red Hook
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11231


Greek Brunch

Greek Brunch!

Presenting with an atmosphere of cool Mediterranean charm dressed in cerulean blue décor, Faros
offers a unique menu of Greek cuisine. That means that it is not all about pasticchio and moussaka,
but much more.

My sister and niece joined me for a delightful  Saturday brunch at this restaurant of two stories tucked away in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. We began with a robust cup of coffee which was richly perfect in its rarity. My sister enjoyed the addition of figs, roasted walnuts and an array of berries to fluffy pancakes. This transformed an ordinary brunch item into a brighter experience for the palate.  
My niece and I ordered Avga Chios. This dish is the Greek interpretation of the American Eggs Benedict. Faros prepares their eggs poached over baquette and smoked salmon. The creamy Hollandaise was brighter in color than others I have had, but the citrus flavors complimented the smokey salmon very well.   
The attentive and friendly staff of Faros also serves lunch, dinner and banquets for private functions. Given our enjoyable visit for brunch, I would definitely return for dinner. The evening menu is vast and bold with vibrant ingredients. It especially includes eclectic fresh seafood entrees and savory Greek cheeses tossed with fresh colorful salads. A lively Greek wine list holds great promise for well rounded dining. We will return to Faros!
Faros Authentic Greek Cuisine
84 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217