Saturday, January 30, 2010

Huntley Taverne

The Huntley Taverne (correct spelling!) was recommended to me by my sister and her boyfriend Jason. The two of them dine out a lot so I wanted to check it out. Usually I associate a tavern with a bar or pub so I was kind of surprise they were raving about the food. Well this tavern was far from ordinary.

As we pulled up to the restaurant the valet attendant greeted us for complimentary valet service. Any place that has valet on a Monday night is classy, I don't care what anyone says. As we entertained the restaurant I noticed the place was designed in beautiful wood from the floors to the cathedral ceilings. Weird enough, Stef actually saw a friend from culinary school through the kitchen window. The bar was split into three sections: bar area, upper, and lower dining rooms. We decided to sit in the lower dining room rather than the bar area. A wood burning fireplace made the atmosphere cozy and very inviting.

We had two waitresses throughout the night that were very knowledgeable and extremely friendly. The service definitely complimented the excellent tavern food. We started off with pulled pork tacos with an apple coleslaw. Although the only give you three soft taco shells, they give you a big bowl of tender, delicious pulled pork. The waitress was kind enough to bring over more shells upon request which doubled our order. I was definitely happy with our decision to split the tacos considering I almost ordered the ribs. I'm not a big coleslaw fan, but Stef said the apple coleslaw was good!

Stef's old friend from Johnson and Wales sent us over a salad to split between our appetizer and main course. Although both of us appreciated the salad, we both agreed it was a weird choice. The salad consisted of brussel sprouts, onion, pancetta, and a hard boiled egg. The salad was topped with a shallot vinaigrette. I wasn't a big fan, but I did pick at some of the pancetta.

For our entree Stef was torn between the chicken and the Mahi Mahi. She decided to go with the Mahi Mahi which was one of the special--just like the pulled pork tacos. The mahi mahi came with spinach which was WAY too oily and a sundried tomato vinaigrette. I tried her fish like I normally do and it was alright. Nothing special. I think she was very disappointed in her choice and would love to rewind time and get the chicken instead. O well!

Unlike Stef, I was very happy with my meal. I got the short rib which is tied for the "best short rib I've ever had" (haha). The tender meat fell right off the bone giving Stone House a run for their money in the short rib department. The meat was not only tender but had such great flavor. Mashed potatoes added to my bliss.

For dessert, Stef's friend sent us out an assortment of sorbet which consisted of mango, tangerine, apple, and pear. I wasn't a big fan of dessert and was actually sad the sorbet cleansed by palate after my delicious entree.

Despite the extensive wine list, we decided to go with different adult beverages. I got a beer who's name escapes me. It was very good though...I need to find out! Stef got a pear martini followed by another new-fashioned martini. Both of them were good, too bad they came in martini glasses! I wrote all of this down, but I lost my notes so some of these details will be ironed out when I find it.

I thought the Huntley Taverne was a great place! Whether to grab a drink or sit down for a dinner. The food is beyond bar-food and the ambiance is soothing.

Restaurant Week #2

My second restaurant week adventure was to Primehouse (27th and Park). Primehouse is one of many restaurants owned by B. R. Guest restaurant group (founded by Stephen Hanson). A casual yet elegant atmosphere redefines the classic "men's club" steakhouse. I tried to make reservations, but the dining room was booked till 10. The bar area had tables that offered the same menu and were on a first come first serve basis. My friend Christina and I were fortunate enough to get a bar table, which we actually preferred due to the more casual atmosphere. The bar area offered televisions as well as good music (RHCP, beatles, jazz, etc).

The service was alright, but I expected better. When you have a steakhouse that offers dinners that are $50 or higher, you expect GOOD SERVICE. I know it was restaurant week, but we were still going to spend a pretty penny. It seemed that our server was waiting on everyone, but us. Not only did he seem unenthusiastic of us being there, but he did disappeared during our entree. We wanted to order another drink, but our server was busy serving EVERYONE ELSE. After not being served for awhile, we decided to get the check and leave which was a process in itself. He could have got us for atleast another $50 if he kept up with us.

But enough about the service and on to the food! The food made the trip to Primehouse well worth it. Christina started off with a good-sized portion of buffalo mozzarella with peppers, basil, and an aged balsamic--a great way to start the meal. I also started the dinner with a great dish- crispy pork belly with an Asian barbecue sauce. A small, but delicious portion got me ready for the next course. I drank a delicious Allagash White Ale while enjoying the pork belly. Christina drank a 2008 Le Coste Pinot Grigio.

Christina's second dish was the salmon, which I didn't taste but she seemed to enjoy. For the main course I got the 7oz prime, dry-aged rib eye with Parmesan fries which was recommended to me by our server. I originally wanted to get the short rib, but when with our server's suggestion. The steak was excellent. Although I wish the steak was a little bigger, it had great flavor and definitely didn't disappoint me. The steak came with Parmesan fries which were decent-nothing to brag about, but I probably ate all of them! I ordered Primehouse's house pinot noir to compliment the steak, but I wasn't feeling it. It was a 2008 Loring Pinot Noir from the Shea Vineyard in Oregon. I thought this $14 glass of Pinot was a waste of money (bottle wholesales for $40). I didn't enjoy the taste of the wine at all, not to mention the lack of body. I know Pinot's usually have light bodies, but this was just bad.

We continued the meal with different dishes as we got to our last dish, dessert. Christina got the cheesecake dome with a pistachio creme brulee center and candied kumquats. The presentation was awesome and so was the taste. Although her dish was delicious, I think I liked mine better. I got the chocolate napoleon which was a milk chocolate parfait with ice cream and salted caramel sauce. The parfait was definitely the star in this dish. It had three levels of great chocolate flavor that went well with the drizzled caramel. I don't usually get dessert, but I'd reconsider if I go back to Primehouse.

Overall, The Primehouse New York was a great experience! Yeah, I could have done without the Pinot Noir and the server's disappearing acts but I'd definitely go back.

Open Door Gastropub

Being down in the financial district, I don't have tons of bars to go to at night. This gastropub opened right down the street a couple weeks ago and I've wanted to check it out. I heard of the term gastropub but never knew what it meant. I knew gastro had to do with gastronomy which has to do with food and pub is pretty self explanatory. I did "google" the word to come up with a definition that I was very close to. A gastropub is a British term for a public house which specializes in higher quality food- not your normal "pub-grub" or bar food.

Open Door Gastropub on John Street was definitely not your average bar food. Dan and I decided to split the buffalo calamari, which was awesome! The calamari had a perfect crispy texture with just the right amount of spice. To make things better, the buffalo calamari was drizzled in a wasabi aioli that will definitely bring me back. For our main course I was a little hesitant about ordering a burger for the fact that I'm often disappointed. The waitress assured me that the burgers are delicious, so I went with the Wall Street Burger. I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms, leaving my Wall Street burger with cheddar cheese and bacon. The burger came with a house salad, ceasar salad, or fries. I opted to go with the ceasar salad which wasn't bad, but nothing to brag about (then again it was just a side). The burger was something to brag about though. A generous portion of fresh ground beef, bacon, and cheese left me full after the first half. After some encouraging words from Dan, I pushed through the second half of the delicious burger. I washed down the burger with Open Door's specialty brew. It had great flavor and went well with the burger.

The staff was overly attentive --always smiling and pleased to help. Dan and I thought that having two waitresses was kind of confusing and unnecessary, but didn't mind it. Hopefully the staff will stay friendly and eager to help when the gastropub isn't so new. Even the bouncer greeted us with a warm smile on the way in and exchanged conversation on the way out. I really enjoyed my meal here and will definitely go back. The prices were also good for the area. The burger was $12, cheaper than the take out place down the block (zaitzeff).

I had no idea how big the place was. As you walked in, the bar was to your left while bar tables aligned the wall to the right. The bar itself was pretty massive and looked like it had great selections. I don't know if the bar crowd was my scene as they looked a little older and more sophisticated than I. Maybe later at night is when the younger crowd takes over. The gastropub then goes into a casual seating area which had booths. The last section of the place was more of dining room. This section was filled with tables and was away from the bar noise. We sat in a booth in the middle section because we liked the music and noise of the bar, but also wanted to be separated. The place was decorated pretty nice. Paintings of doors hung on the red walls while little futuristic lights hung from the ceilings.

Overall, good food and a good price- cant beat that!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Class Trip

In my culinary management class we sometimes take field trips to restaurants all around the city. I love getting out of the classroom and taking tours of some of New York City's most successful restaurants.

One day we were lucky enough to take a guide tour of a couple of Danny Meyer's restaurants. The tour was given to us by Mark, the GM of Blue Smoke. We walked by Shake Shack and headed to Maialino, Danny Meyer's newest restaurant. This well designed and decorated Roman Trattoria restaurant was in Gramercy Park Hotel. Some people thought the design looked to Crate and Barrel, but I thought it looked pretty authentic. The space made me wish I had this love for food when I was in Italy. We didn't get to view the kitchen in Maialino- probably because the restaurant is part of the Hotel.

We did get a tour of Blue Smoke's kitchen. We got to meet the executive chef Kenny Callaghan, but he didn't really talk to us much. We learned that Danny Meyer took Chef Kenny, Mark, and some others all around the South to learn about BBQ. The tour started upstairs in Blue Smoke and continued downstairs to Jazz Standard, a jazz club also owned by Danny Meyer. I later learned how the two spaces use the same kitchen, but our two different businesses. I thought I could definitely eat a nice dinner upstairs then come down for a nice jazz performance. Or I could just go downstairs and eat there considering its a similar menu. Thanks to my wonderful sisters, I got a gift certificate to Blue Smoke that I cannot wait to use. I love BBQ!!!!!

On another day we took a field trip to Rothmanns steakhouse on 54th street. I believe Rothmanns has another location in Long Island and is owned by the same restaurant group that owns Boulder Creek. Rothmanns is a high end steakhouse much like Mortons or Ruth's Chris. The GM brought us around the restaurant as we got to see the dining room, kitchens, and wine room. The wine room was by far the most impressive part of the restaurant. I don't remember how much wine inventory they had, but I want to say it was in the hundreds of thousands.

Like most New York restaurants, Rothmanns had a prep kitchen below the main kitchen. I noticed that Rothmanns has very steep and narrow stairs that makes it pretty hard on workers. The dining room is decorated a little more warm than some steakhouses. Steakhouses have been known to be for men, but Rothmanns wanted to target the lady so they warmed up the room and added salads to their menu.

The Chef came out and talked a little about the steaks that they use. They use PRIME USDA dry aged steaks which make my mouth water just thinking about it. He explained the dry aged process, which was pretty cool considering I love steak! I learned that steakhouses like Rothmanns make little money on their steaks because they are high food cost items. They make a lot of their money on a chicken dish or their side items like cream spinach.

Our latest and most impressive field trip was to Daniel. Daniel is one of few New York Time's four-star restaurants. Owned by Chef Daniel Boulud, this french restaurant prides itself on ultra fine dining. We got a tour from a manager who has worked their for five years and has worked his way up. I was a little disappointed that Daniel didn't give us the tour himself, but he wasn't there.

On the tour I learned that Daniel use to be the executive chef of Le Cirque, a highly regarded restaurant in the Mayfair Hotel. Daniel bought the space and turned Le Cirque into a private dining area and the hotel lobby became the main dining room. The dining rooms were nice. There was a huge flower arrangement in the back of the main dining room. I found out that Daniel spends over $100,000 on flowers every year. Supposedly the arrangements use to be double or triple the size, but they decided to downsize a little. Still, $100 gs on flowers-DAMN! The main dining room felt like I was in someone's mansion in their over-sized dining room.

I thought the bar area was a sweet place to eat if you didn't want to go all out on their $210 tasting menu. The bar/lounge area had tables that offered a la carte for those people who didn't need the whole Daniel experience. I thought the bar area was pretty sweet.

The kitchen is RIDICULOUS. It looks like a show kitchen that you'd see on TV. Everything is so clean and put together. There is even pictures on the walls! Daniel offers a Chef Table which is skybox overlooking the kitchen. This space is $300 a person for only the food, plus you have to have a minimum of 4 people so if its only two people, they still have to pay for four people. That's something I'd like to do--maybe when I'm not a broke student.

We then walked downstairs into a busy prep kitchen. Not only were there tons of chefs preparing food, but they all looked so professional in their spot-less white coats. We didn't get to tour the wine cellar which was below the prep kitchen. I was kind of bummed out because I figured a restaurant like this would probably hold close to a million in wine.

Daniel is known for the food, but even more for their service. Cameras in the dining room allow managers to monitor the area while allowing the expediter to fire courses. The amount of people dedicated to each table is remarkable. One day I'll dine here and write about it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brother Jimmys then Knicks Game

Thanks to Dan, I was able to watch the Knicks put a beating on the Timberwolves tonight. Dan got his company seats so we were right behind the basket, a few rows up from the court. Great Seats! Before the game we bet at Brother Jimmys right outside of MSG.

I enjoyed a couple 22 oz PBRs and some rib tips. PBR isn't my beer of choice by any means, but NYC is expensive and you can't beat their $4 special. Although I ate before the game, I decided to get an appetizer. I thought about the wings because I know they're good, but I wanted to try something new so I got the rib tips. Lets just say Brother Jimmys never disappoints me when it comes to BBQ.

I love Brother Jimmys atmosphere. You got country music playing, although you're probably tuned into a game on TV. The restaurant and bar is covered in southern college team logos. I noticed a lot of North Carolina pride so I'm guessing the owners are big fans- probably from NC.

Didn't plan on going out, but turned out to be another awesome night. Thanks Dan!

Restaurant Week

New York Restaurant Week 2010 started yesterday Jan 25 and goes till Feb 7. This two week-long event offers people a three course prix-fixe lunch for $24.07 and dinner for $35. gives a bunch of the menus offered. Over 260 restaurants around the city participate in this event allowing diners to experience some of NYCs finest restaurants for a reasonable rate.

After looking at over 30 menus, Stef and I finally came to an agreement that we we're going to Megu. Megu is a modern Japanese restaurant that has two locations in New York and several around the world. Stef and I went to the one in Tribeca because its walking distance from my apartment.

From the moment I walked in I felt good about this place. Decorated in modern and antique designs- this place was stunning. After checking our coats, we walked into the bar/lounge area which held a small bar, but large couches all around. It seemed like we were in a maze getting to our table, but I didn't mind considering the place was designed beautifully. I couldn't decide which was the restaurants most stunning feature: the brightly lit double staircase or the ice sculpted buddha in the middle of the restaurant. I could say the only design aspect I didn't like was the one-armed chairs.

The service at the restaurant had incredible flow. Everything seemed to go seamlessly except for when our appetizers seemed to be wondering around the dining room. I guess the runner didn't know where the food was going, but I'm not going to hold that against anyone because when the food finally got there--it was delicious. Our server, Linda?, was great. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and wasn't pushy about upselling. As I mentioned we went during restaurant week, so I'm sure her check average was down (although her turnover rate was probably better). Linda guided us around the menu after bringing us two little crackers with cream cheese tofu. I never thought I'd ever eat tofu, but I gave it a try and the "replacement bread and butter" was pretty good. I mean its hard to replace bread and butter, but then again it was probably not the scene.

So what did we have for dinner? Stef started off with Red Snapper Oriental Salad with a homemade spicy dressing,vegetables, nuts, and a hot sesame oil. I didn't taste the salad, but I did try the Pinot Blanc wine pairing. We both opted to get beverage pairings with our meals. She got the wine pairing while I took the beer pairing. I don't normally like white wine but this pinot blanc was actually good. I didn't make a weird face after I drink it, something I always seem to do after a Chardonnay. I had a hard time ordering the first course because I couldn't decide whether the crispy shrimp or the scallops in a teriyaki sauce. I decided to with the tempura battered shrimp in a spicy kanzuri sauce. The beer paired with this dish was a light beer that reminded me of a Sam Adam's winter ale or even a blue moon. I forget the name, but it had something to do with the Hamptons. The server told us that all their beer and wine pairings were from within the state. But back to the shrimp! The shrimp were perfectly cooked and were a great way to start the meal. The crispy texture combined with the sweet-spicy sauce made it something to remember.

Next we were served our next drinking pairings. Stef next wine was Pinot Noir, our favorite! I thought the wine was alright, nothing special by any means. It also had a very sharp smell, which turned me off a little. I got a beer that I know nothing about besides that it was delicious. It reminded me of a newcastle. Stef ordered the sushi for dinner, which was a pretty big serving surprisingly. The dish came with five pieces of sushi and 1 roll (which I learned could be 6-8 pieces). I was even schooled on what sushi was compared to sushimi and macki. I ate stef's shrimp sushi because she didn't want it. I can't I liked it, but it was interesting. My quest to like sushi continues! She liked her meal, although admitting Stone House's sushi was the best she ever had. She didn't know what kind of fish the rolls were made out of but she guessed yellow tail. She thought the rolls were alittle fishy which we thought was surprising considering the high cost of the restaurant. I got the kobe beef steak which was presented on this HUGE hot rock. When served I was told to sit back as the backwaiter lit the rock on fire. The steak was served with white rice, which was standard. The beef was very good, especially when dipped in the sauce that accompanied it.

Last and definitely least was the chocolate cake that Stef and I agreed was not made inhouse. The cake was good, but we also agreed that Betty Croker does it better. The petite-sized chocolate layer cake was served with a strawberry and whipped cream. The cake itself was light as was the fillings. Neither the cake or the filling overpowered eachother. I wouldn't be surprised if the same cake was served in a diner down the street from my house in Jersey. But I can't hate, because I finished every bite of it and got to enjoy it with a nice chocolate stout. Stef's last drink was a shot of port which syrupiness (is that a word?) worked well with the chocolate cake.

Stef then ordered a shot for us which actually turned out to be three shots worth. The shots were made with Russian Standard, Yuzu juice, and Triple Sec. I guess it was the Japanese spin on the Kamakazi. The shots came in these huge sugar-rimmed shot glasses and were presented in little wooden boxes that fit the glass perfectly.

On our way out through the maze, we stopped at the bar where we had one more drink before heading home. She ordered the same shot we had before, only in a martini glass. The bartender recommended a drink which I thought was very unusual. It was called the Dolce Vita and was made with Patron silver, Frangellico, fresh raspberries, mint, lime juice, and gomme(which i later learned was simple syrup). The drink was pretty good, but I probably wouldn't order it again.

Overall a great experience! Would definitely go back!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Another weekend filled with new adventures. Friday I caught the tail-end of a Marist alumni event at Latitudes Bar and Lounge on 8th avenue (40s). The bar seemed pretty sweet, but we didn't stay long. Maybe next time I will get there on time!

I then left the group and headed to Superdive on Avenue A to visit a friend of mine. This bar reminded me of a college house party. Colette, the friend I was meeting was part of a private party in the basement that I joined for the 20 minutes I was there. I went to the bar to get a beer as the bartender pointed me to a keg that was already paid for by the host of the party. I grabbed a cup and got a couple beers before I went to La Caverna, a pretty hip spot on Rivington. I was given the wrong directions and couldn't find it right away, but I did find a delicious Mexican joint that hooked me up with a HUGE burrito. Somehow I managed to bump into an old friend at the burrito spot. After catching up, she helped me find La Caverna and we parted ways. I can't really say much about La Caverna except that I found my friends on the dance floor and didn't leave for awhile.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tasting, Basketball Game, and Cheesecake Factory

In the past couple days, I've applied my "don't say no" resolution and its been fun. I started it all off by signing up for a tasting/lecture by Chef David Waltuck, one of the country's most respected chefs. Chef David owned and operated the critically acclaimed Chanterelle Restaurant which started out in Soho then moved to Tribeca. Chef David is one of four chefs to receive a four star rating from the New York Times. He started the restaurant when he was 24 which is incredible considering how successful the place was. Chanterelle was said to be one of the first restaurants to bring fine dining downtown. Chef David and Chanterelle have received so much praise and recognition (including a couple James Beard Awards) that I could not pass up this opportunity.

Chef David was not much of a talker, but that was OK with me because he fed us some delicious food. He preformed three signature dishes that were all phenomenal. I was a bit scared at first because his three choices were all seafood. But then the nervousness turned into excited energy. Besides I couldn't back out, I sat in the front row!

The first dish was an Pemaquid Oysters with Sauerkraut and Caviar. I was really nervous about this dish considering I had never tried all three ingredients in the name. Part of me was even nervous about a possible food allergy. But it did look good and this was a once in a lifetime experience--so I went for it! I thought about wiping the caviar off the top of the oyster, but then I figured it was there for a reason. So I took down the oyster and immediately smiled: partly because I was proud of myself for trying it and the other part was because it was so good.

The next dish was a Grilled Seafood Sausage with a Beurre Blanc Sauce. This was actually my favorite dish out of the three. The seafood in the sausage was lobster, scallops, sea bass, and shrimp. The seafood sausage itself was so good, but when combined with the sauce--AMAZING!

The final dish was a Steamed Scallop and Foie Gras Dumpling with Mushroom Vinaigrette and Chervil. This was another really great dish. I went into this dish not knowing what foie gras was. I knew it had something to do with duck, but thats it. I later found out that foie gras is the liver of ducks or geese put on a specialty diet.

I considered getting a signed cook book from Chef David, but I didn't have $50 on me. I was told that I could get it at a later date if needed. But I did leave there with some great recipes along with an incredible experience. These are the opportunities that I would have passed up a year or so ago. This reinforces the idea of experiencing everything, even if its out of your comfort zone. This experience got me excited for the future! New York City here I come!

Seton Hall vs. Louisville
Last night I got a call from Hennessy asking me if I wanted to go to the Seton Hall basketball game. For a second, I thought of declining because of plans I had made earlier. Then I thought FUCK THAT. I agreed to go to the game, hopped in the shower, and ran for the train.

Hennessy told me he had "big jimbo seats" which meant GOOD seats! My dad use to get tickets to many of the local teams including the Nets (back when the Nets were good). He use to have Nets tickets second row, mid-court. Hennessy knew about these seats because we took him to a couple of games. He wasn't lying, the ticket were at half-court, second row. The seats were great!

Now this was my first visit to the new Prudential Center 9Newark, NJ). It was so easy to get to considering Newark Penn Station is down the block. The arena is AWESOME. There is 2 bar/lounge areas in the arena which are represented by a Fire and Ice kind of look. This is pretty neat considering the two big teams that play there are Seton Hall (blue) and The New Jersey Devils (red).

We hung out at the Belvedere vodka lounge, the area gleaming bright blue. This area was great, not only could you see the game, but you could sit at the bar or at a table and watch multiple TVs. The best feature this bar offered was an iced bar area, which keeps you drink cold. Now thats innovation! This concept is brilliant, especially to those people nursing their $8 beers.

Despite a breakdown in the 4th quarter, Seton Hall pulled out the victory. I would have liked to go to the bar across the street from the stadium for a brew, but Henny, Erin, and Palp rushed to grab a train-leaving me to venture home; back to New York.

Cheesecake Factory (Edison, NJ)
I was went home last Sunday for my grandfathers 82nd birthday. I had Monday off because of MLK day so I decided to stay home and hang instead of going back to the city after the birthday party.

On Tuesday, Colette and I went to the Cheesecake factory. We usually have a hard time deciding a place to go, but surprisingly this decision didn't take us a half hour. The cheesecake factory is a good place to go when you don't know what you want to eat. They have such a diverse menu that anyone could find something to eat here.

Colette told me to order something different, so against my own will I ordered the Spicy Chicken Sandwich instead of my favorite Buffalo Blast. It turned out to be a good decision, because I enjoyed the sandwich very much. Crispy chicken on a roll topped with buffalo sauce- how could you go wrong? The sandwich also came with fries that I couldn't stop eating.

Colette got the grilled salmon which I tried and enjoyed. I liked my second bite better as I dipped my fork in a lemon-butter sauce. Of course I liked my meal better, but thats because its fried and bad for ya!

Despite it only being 1:00, we opted to have a drink. My initial thoughts made me order their pink lemonade. I'm not usually a fan of pink drinks, but lemonade could be good when you haven't had it in awhile. I then thought that the drink Colette was suppose to get probably sounded better, so I changed my mind-- not knowing that the drink I ordered came in a Martini glass. The Ritz as they call it is a martini with courvoisier, champagne and pomegranate. The drink itself was delicious, I definitely will make this drink again, though probably on the rocks!

Colette got a strawberry martini which was made with Pearl Vodka and fresh strawberries. I tasted the pink martini and thought it was also pretty good. I liked the Ritz better though!
Another good meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

Friday, January 15, 2010


In the 2009 recap post, I tried to recapture some of my favorite eating moments of last year. This post will probably be more detail oriented as I've taken notes to aid my memory. So here we go. Let's dive into some 2010 restaurant experiences.

Rub BBQ (208 West 23rd St. New York, NY)
The first place I visited to kick off the new was Rub BBQ. Stef and I often have a hard time picking a place so I thought it'd be a good idea to give her the 2010 Zagat Guide and leave it up to here. She asked me what kind of cuisine I was looking for and I thought BBQ was a good hangover cure.So she found Rub BBQ, which proved to be a great pick!

The space exudes a classic BBQ joint from the wood tables to the red menus. The waitress immediately approached us and explained how they were out of some items and also were running low on others. I was surprised considering it was an early dinner, probably around 5:00. They were out of the BBQ bacon chunks which mad me a little sad, but I was happy to know I got the last rack of Baby Back Ribs. Stef got a meat platter containing pulled pork, pulled chicken, and two sides. I made her get the onion straws, one of my favorite side dishes ever and she got the coleslaw for herself. Supposedly the coleslaw is really good, but that's the only thing I didn't taste. Everything else was dynamite. The smoked baby back ribs were delicious as one Stef's pulled pork and chicken. The platter also came with slices of Wonder Bread just incase you wanted to make a sandwich, a brilliant idea.

After a night of drinking I was kind of surprised we opted to drink, BUT we did. I got a beer recommended by the waitress called Arrogant Bastard, which was pretty good. It had a dark, copper color and had a bite to it. Thought it went went with the BBQ food. Stef got some razzmataz kinda drink that turned out to be too sweet for her liking. I liked how drinks came in big plastic cups, felt like you were at a friends BBQ. Definitely recommend this chelsea joint.

Izakaya (Atlantic City, NJ)
This Japanese tapas-styled restaurant was one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. The energy and atmosphere was similiar to Tao, but better in my opinion. The decor was beautiful and the ambiance really added to the meal. There was a DJ spinning some really sensual, unobtrusive music that I was totally digging. I picked the restaurant because I felt Stef would really enjoy it and afterall it was her birthday a few days before.

For drinks Stef ordered an Orange Bull, a mixture of Orange vodka, redbull, and maybe one other ingredient. I'm not usually one to drink red bull, but this combination was actually really good. Stef actually switched because I didn't like the berry cocktail I ordered.

Izakaya is designed for dishes to be shared. Many of the dishes come with only 2 or 3 pieces per plate. Being Stef's belated birthday, I told her to order for both of us. She picked out some really good dishes that I probably wouldn't have ordered. The waiter explains how the dishes come out as they are cooked, so it's not your normal appetizer,salad, entree, dessert kind of place.

The first dish to come out was the Kobe Beef Carpaccio. I never had raw beef so I was very interested, yet a little scared. This dish really set the tone for a great meal. The kobe beef was amazing. I was sad there was only four little slivers of meat because it was one of the best things i've put in my mouth. The next four dishes all came out within minutes of each other. Bacon skewers with an onion chutney; chicken skewers with a sage, spicy mustard; atlantic salmon with spincah dumplings; and kobe beef fried rice as a side.

The bacon was phenomincal as aspected. Big chunks of bacon on a skewer with onion chutney on top makes me want to go back there right now. The chicken skewers were also very delicious especially with the sage, spicy mustard sauce. The salmon was also good, but then again not a big fish person. The dumplings with the salmon were really good. The kobe beef fried rice was a solid side dish. The beef was so tender and delicious while the rice had good flavor and spice.

The only negative aspect of Izakaya was the waiter who seemed like he rather be on the blackjack table. Overall it was a great experience and would love to go back.

Crocodile Lounge 325 E 14th Street. New York, NY
Walk down into this cellar hangout to experience one of New York best deals: free personal pizza with the purchase of a drink. I was buying $3 yeunglings and getting a free pizza--it doesn't get much better than that. The dark basement is a bit cryptic, but you can't beat the deal!

Zaitzeff (Financial District)
I feel as if finding a good burger place is impossible. Maybe its because i've never had a burger better than my own or maybe its because i'm trying the wrong places. I've had some good burgers, but none of them seem to compare. If there's one thing I've been complimented on, it's my ability to make a delicious burger. But enough about my burger-making ability; lets talk about Zaitzeff.

I really don't have too much to say about Zaitzeff other than it was an expensive burger. It was good, but not worth the $13.50 I so regretfully handed over to the cashier. Not only did I have to add cheese for $1 and bacon for $2, but I didn't even get a side of fries or a bag a chips. The guy didn't even ask me how I wanted my burger cooked! And they were definitely not generous with the skimpy piece of cheese or the 3 half-sized pieces of shriveled bacon. O well, my search for a GOOD burger goes on!

Quay (Hoboken)
Went to this bar/lounge which seem to have a really cool vibe going on until it started to pack out with a scene I usually don't hang out in. The DJ started his set with some good tunes including some sweet throwbacks, but the music got progressively worse as the night went on. A few Jameson on-the-rocks later we left and found refuge at another bar.

Black Bear (Hoboken)
Located on Washington Street which boasts tons of bars, we picked this jam-packed bi-level sports bar with specials that didn't seem to make much sense. What kind of special is Jim Beam and Coke for $5 when Jack and Coke costs the same price. Jim Beam is cheaper than Jack so how is that a special? I guess when you write something on a chalk boards with neon lights reflecting on it, anything goes. Only stayed for a drink because a friends cousin wasn't allowed back in. Wasn't too upset about leaving and neither was my friend who was carrying around a huge jacket and backpack because there was no coatcheck. Sucks for me, I had to walk around with the nerd all night.

The Shannon (Hoboken)
A typical irish with no memorable attributes or drink specials, but I was in good company so it was all good. Plus it was better than being at two bars I visited before. I even get to see the meathead bouncers drag a kid outside and pin his face into the sidewalk. The show stopped by another bouncer who said "no peeking". O well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2009 Recap

I was fortunate enough to visit some great places in 20o9. Since its impossible to remember all the places and all the dishes, I will make a list of ones that stood and any memorable dishes/cocktails/service experiences that made it great. I'll just ramble...

Spice Market (New York, NY)
I'm not going to lie, spice market was my go-to date spot for awhile. Although it is a bit on the pricey side, Spice Market is definitely a place where you know you'll have a good meal. As many of you know, Spice Market is one of many Jean-Georges restaurants. His concept is really amazing from the atmosphere right down to the food.
The last time I was there I was with Stefanie on our first date. You've probably read some of my more recent restaurant adventures with Stef so it is safe to assume this spice market date went well. But then again, maybe it was the bowling at Bowlmor afterwards that sealed the deal (haha).
I have no idea what we got for drinks, but I want to say there was probably a bottle of wine involved. I do remember our meals! For an appetizer, Stef ordered the Tuna Tartar with chili Tapioca, Asian Pear, and Lime and I ordered the spicy thai fried chicken wings with mango and mint. I always get the chicken wings because I think they are awesome. The wings have just enough spicyness and the mango and mint compliments the heat so well. After the wings I decided to take a leap of faith into the tuna tartar. I tried fish a couple times before this but the fish was always cooked. I thought to myself: I don't like cooked fish, i'm definitely not going to like raw fish. BUT something about her made me take the leap of faith and try the dish. What she thought was delicious, I thought was eh. Nothing against the Spice Market, I just don't think I'm able to enjoy fish JUST YET (hopefully soon).
For our main course, Stef ordered grilled chicken with lemongrass dressing and kumquats. I'm sure I tasted the chicken, but honestly don't remember. Stef said it was good and she could be a strict judge sometimes. I do remember my main course which was the grilled strip steak with garlic, coriander, and seasame. The steak was cooked beautifully and it was definitely memorable.

Bar Americain (New York, NY)
One of Bobby Flays Restaurants. I think I had a good meal, but don't remember to much about it. Maybe thats because Stef wasn't there? Who knows. I would like to go back and check it out!

Other New York Restaurants

Nick and Stefs (attached to MSG)
Went here before the John Legend concert at Madison Square Garden. I remember the skirt steak was pretty good, but nothing crazy memorable besides my company...who else.

PJ Clarks
Moved to NY in Nov and already been here twice. Had a really good burger on my first visit. I also enjoyed these homemade potato chips that accompanied the bacon cheeseburger. The second time I went to PJ Clarks I went to the one near Lincoln Square with my mom and sister. Here I enjoyed a skirt steak as well as some of Jen's BBQ ribs. Maybe I should have gotten the ribs instead! Washed it all down with a brooklyn lager, delicious!

Bowlmor (Union Square)- Sweet bowling alley with a clubbish vibe. Pretty decent bar food!
300 (Chelsea piers)A similiar concept to bowlmor, but a little more expensive I want to say. Sweet Bud Light bottles in the shape of bowling pins.
Lucky Strike (west 40s)- Yet another bowling alley not too different from the others. (Stef thinks she could beat me, but im still waiting...)

Chelsea Piers Brewery- Stef and I enjoyed a beautiful day outside drinking some of the brewery's finest microbrews including the checkered cab blonde ale, sunset ale, and some others.

Victors (theater district)- This cuban restaurant was picked because of its location, right across the street from the Jersey Boys theater. Turns out it was a great pick. Highlights of the meal were the red sangria, the pulled pork, and the homemade churros.

Cafeteria (chelsea)-Fried oreos
Grimaldis (Brooklyn)- I thought the pizza was very good, but overrated and overpriced.
Blockheads (east 50s)-Home of the $3 margarita. A nice little spot for a cheap food and drinks.

Hotel on Rivington-Supposedly a tough spot to get in, I had a great time here with some old high school friends. Buying rounds at $12 a drink seemed cruel on my wallet, but hey I could use the points. The DJ was really good and made me forget about my $150 tab so I guess I could appreciate that. A very cool scene.

Other New York Bars
Turtle Bay- Home of the $35 drinkup. Always a night you will never remember.
Cornerstone- If your sick of turtle bay madness, sneak down the street
Patriot- dive bar with PBR specials, YES!
Brother Jimmys- I actually go to brother jimmys alot. Good BBQ food! Natty Light if you'd like.
Off the Wagon
Stumble Inn
Down the Hatch
Jakes Dilemma
Calico Jacks- Stay away from the shot girls, they'll take all your money!
John St Bar- $10 all you could drink keg beer from 5-7:30 = every thursday
Fat Annies Truck Stop
Mocca Lounge
Mad River
Black Fin
Fat Black Pussy Cat

Iron Horse- What an experience this was. My roommate greg and I got the urge for a drink on Tuesday night within the first two weeks of moving in. We asked around and noone really knew a good place around us. We walked around trying to find a good spot, afterall we need a good place to throw acouple back around our apartment. So this bar, Iron Horse, is right around the corner so we wanted to check it out. We got in there and saw a female bartender swinging on this wooden swing above the bar. We were curious to what the heck was going on so we bought ourselves a $2 rolling rock can and watched the show--little did we no what we were in for.
The bartender picked this guy out from the bar and started feeding him Southern Comfort. She even poured some in her mouth then bird-fed it to him (pretty sick I know). So after that, I'm already a little skeptical about this place but greg seems to love it. So we stay despite the weird shit going on and the awful throw-up like smell lingering around the place. The bartender then takes the guy on the bar and has him sit on the swing while she starts to whip him with a studded belt. Thats when we chugged out beers and left. I don't know if we left because we were scared we'd be next or because we were weirded out by the guy who liked the fake ass coyote ugly dominatrix. Unless you're into that, I'd skip that place.

Ulysses- Really good potato skins. Sliced then with lots of cheese and bacon!
Trattoria(Seaport)- Nice little italian spot. Good pizza.
Pacific Grill (Seaport)
Heartland Brewery (seaport)

Texas BBQ (Fulton St)- Really good quickservice BBQ to go!


Casa di Napoli (Atlantic City, NJ)
I've probably been down to AC 25 times and have very few dining experiences to recount. I don't know if I can't remember the experience because of a long night of drinking and gambling or simply because we always go down to party, not eat. I went down there with Stef and Andrea, a work friend.
Casa di Napoli is an italian restaurant in Ballys recommended to us by our fearless- leader chef. Jerry knew the head waiter who's name escapes me at the moment. As soon as we got there we were treated like family. He immediately took our drink orders and started bringing us complimentary appetizers. Its hard to recall what exactly we ate because it was awhile ago, but it was delicious. I remember one of the dishes being a big, fancy mozzerella stick. By the time we finished the three appetizers, we were all pretty full but felt obligated to order a main course. Don't remember what we ordered, but i'm sure it was really good. We were also served a glass of "really good" wine as the waiter told us. And it was really good indeed, especially after a couple Johnny Walker Blacks.

Other AC hot spots:

The Pool (Harrahs)
You feel like you're in Miami when at this nightclub bombarbed with good-looking people and cabanas. I was down at The Pool with some buddies from college where we enjoyed bottled service, hot tubs, and most importantly- the pool. We actually had a couple incidents which almost got a few of us kicked out, but I won't disclose any names. Apparrently some guests didn't appreciate the cannon balls or indecent exposure. But none of us got kicked out and it proved to be an awesome night.

Mur Mur (borgata)
Mur Mur is one of my favorite clubs. From the music to the people; a great time. We went on a Monday and it was still poppin'.

Best Damn Sports Bar (Tropicana)
This sports bar is one of my favorite places to go when in AC. I don't know if its because you could get $5 40 oz or because they have tables to play beer pong, Americas past time. This is a good spot if you don't want to spend alot of money or go to a club. Its a chill atmosphere with plenty of TVs to catch the games.

Bread and Butter (Borgata)- Awesome french toast
Firewaters (Trop)
Ri Ra (Trop)- sweet irish bar with decent food and even better Jameson!
Red Square (Trop)
Hooters (Trop)- Wings of course!!!!
Game On (Pier at Ceasars)- Sweet place to watch the game, dance, or ride the mechanical bull.
Beach Bar (Trump)-Was having an awesome time till Gartner started ordering double shots of jack. Palp might have puked on like five people that night...or something like that??? alittle hazy. This wasn't 2009, oops.


Zafra (Hoboken, NJ)
Dining at this cuban-latino restaurant turned out to be quite memorable. The restaurant was cozy, which always makes me feel right at home. The restaurant was BYOB so we brought a bottle of wine, which the server turned into sangria for $10. I thought it was a bargain considering Stef and I love to drink. The sangria lasted throughout the dinner and posed as our only dessert which we were more than happy with. We shared an appetizer of Yuca Fries with cilantro sauce presilla and beef empanadas with a spicy Chilean sauce. Both the Yuca fries and empanadas were good, but the fries especially stand out.
For our main course Stef got chicken skewers with sweet potato, rice and beans. Her chicken was delicious, but I think I passed on the rice, beans, and sweet potato. I got Zafra's "Ropa Vieja", which is shredded beef in a white wine sauce. Another great meal.

Carlos Bakery (Hoboken, NJ)
Never been to the actual bakery, but had a piece of peanut butter cake from there which was AMAZING. Definitely planning a trip there, preferably before summertime.

Other Hoboken Bars
Mullingans-Cool irish bar
Bahama Mama- My friend AJs favorite spot. College scene with cheap beers and a dance floor for his weak ass soldier boy routine. Aaaa-HA
Black Bear- Sweet sports bar.
Whiskey Bar- Good spot for drinks and usually has a good band playing.

More Jersey...

Basilico (Millburn, NJ)
Stef brought me to this delightful italian place where we brought our own wine(of course) and experience a great dinner! Can't remember if we got an appetizer, but for dinner I got the short rib. The short rib was good, but not as good as Stone house's.

St. James Gate (Maplewood, NJ)
Nice little neighborhood spot where Stef use to work. Enjoyed a steak with some sort of delicious white sauce. Good thing I had some fries to dip in the sauce when the steak was gone!

Village Trattoria (Maplewood)
Got to experience this sweet neighborhood trattoria for both lunch and dinner. Good stuff! Good variety of pizza!

Valencia (Elizabeth, NJ)
"Steak on a Stone" and sangria make it no big deal to drive 20 minutes to this Portuguese hot spot. You cook you're own hunk of filet mignon on this hot stone brought out by your server. A wonderful garlic butter spread accompanies the steak to create straight bliss.

Lucas (Edison, NJ)
One of my family's favorite italian restaurants. I've been there a few times in the last year and its always a good meal. My most memorable meal was when I took Stef there and got crispy mango calamari for an appetizer followed by a double-cut pork chop. Both the pork chop and the calamari were phenominal. I'm so upset that they don't care those items regularly. This is another BYOB place, which makes the dinner on the less expensive side (although still pricey).

Harolds New York Deli Restaurant (Edison, NJ)
Harolds is known for its extensive pickle bar and its HUGE sandwich. Whether you get their famous corned beef or pastrami is up to you; but either way you are getting a HUGE portion that will leave you with leftovers for days.
My last trip there was with Stef. She ordered a turkey sandwich that lasted her 2 days. I ordered the BBQ spare ribs which was actually one huge rib. I never seen anything like it. The rib was so tasty that I didn't have any leftovers, although I probably should have. The restaurant does give you big portions, but you do pay for it. The first time I went there I thought it was going to be a bargain since it was a deli styled restaurant, but I was mistaken when the check came. I'm looking forward to going back, hopefully on a day where I don't eat breakfast or lunch.

Cheeseburger in Paradise (Woodbridge, NJ)
My friend Erin and I were looking for a good place for a burger in our area. We couldn't think of anything so we decided on Cheeseburger in Paradise. I thought a place with the name cheeseburger in it has to have somewhat decent burgers. So we went there and tried it out. I figuered Jimmy Buffet couldn't let me down! I've actually been here before but totally forget what I ate so I needed to go again and check out their burger scene. We started off with some nachos which are always a crowd pleaser. We also got some huge frozen drinks which were so good. Granted I got a brain freeze a couple times, but all well worth it. Maybe a smaller size would have been better considering I consumed enough sugar in the drink to get me through the week. Either way it was very tasty. The burger was alright, nothing to brag about. Fun atmoshphere though, would go back.

Shannon Rose (Woodbridge)
Sun Tavern (Fanwood)- Pretty good pizza
Fox and Hound (Edison)- Decent wings. Pint night= Tuesday
Big Shots (Woodbridge)
Champs (Edison)
Cheesecake Factory (Edison)- Buffalo crisp things are AMAZING. Always a good meal here.
Waiting Room (Rahway)
Colorado Cafe (Watchung) Get your cowboy hat on'. Good times.
Rolfs (Warren)- dive bar for after work. Pool Table and foozeball!
Fridays-I'm actually a big fan of fridays.
Delicious Heights (Berkley Heights)- Another after work spot.
Jose Tejas- Great Mexican place. Good margaritas and FOOD. Good price as well!
WOW Cafe (Metuchen)- Went here for wings...kind of disappointed. But still good I suppose
Benihana (edison)- Probably will never go back. Overpriced and really not that good.
RIO 22 (Union) First Rodizio styled restaurant i've ever been to. So good! Can't wait to go back.


Guanabana-(Jupiter, FL)
-Good food, good drinks, with an awesome atmoshphere.

Square Grouper (Jupiter, FL)
- Enjoyed some delicious drinks while sitting in a very comfortable chair overlooking the marina. This is a pretty famous bar from what i'm told...and it should be. Awesome tiki bar right on the water!

Rum Bar (West Palm Beach)
Definitely another awesome spot in florida. I enjoyed a few delicious cocktails while lounging, listening to good tunes with my feet in the sand.

Dr. Feel Goods (West Palm beach)
This two-level bar got pretty wild. My only complaint has to be the leather vests that the bartenders wear. DJ was good, people were beautiful, and the drinks were pouring.

Duffys (Jupiter area)
-Sweet ass sports bar combines love for Floridas sports and being Irish. Had some good wings here while also enjoying some pints in the afternoon.

Yard House (Palm Beach area)
This restaurant reminded me alot of a cheesecake factory with less food selections and more beverage selection. The first thing I noticed when i walked in was the extensive list of beers on tap. I don't remember the food, but I know it was a good dinner spot.

BEACH PLACE (Ft. Lauderdale)
I've been down here a few times and it never disappoints. Whether its Lu Lu's Baitshack, Hooters, Fat Tuesdays, or that awesome piano bar (howl at the moon?)- you're in for one hell of a night. There's also a bar across from Lu Lu's if you're trying to get your grind on. You will probably end up on the beach after experiencing this mall of madness.
Suggestions: Start with frozen drinks (with floaters of 151 of course) at Fat Tuesday and continue exploring once you get your buzz on.


Lawry's- One of the best pieces of prime rib i've ever gotten! This was phenominal! And the side dishes were good as well!

PURE (Ceasars)- Ultra-club with some of the most beautiful people you will ever see. Roofdeck with private cabanas overlook the strip. If I didn't get food sickness from the Wynn buffet, I'm sure bottleservice would've been worth it...well probably not considering my friend morven and I spent over 1,000 each. I really hope my mom isn't reading this. I'd love to go back and really experience it.

Tao Beach (Venetian) Such a cool concept! Live DJ spinning good tunes, hot people, and really good drinks. I actually had a cocktail here that I've been trying to find since I had it. I asked the bartender to make his specialty and it was sooo good. Unfortunately, He wouldn't tell me what was in it. Dying to go back! Also dying to go to Rehab on Sundays in the summer, never been but i hear its crazy.

TABU (MGM GRAND)- Sectioned off VIP area with girls dancing on neon-lit tables changing with the music. Awesome! Gotta thank Gartner for this one... and the next one.

JET (Mirage)- 15,000 sq ft of craziness! This club was definitely one of the best clubs i've ever been too. Bottle service in the back room where the DJ was spinning classic rock hits that kept us dancing till the early mornings.

Rum Jungle

Pink Taco (Hard Rock)-Margaritas and Tacos!
Margaritaville- Classic Jimmy Buffet.
Le Village Buffet (Paris)- My mother and John love this breakfast buffet at the Paris casino. Pancakes, waffles, crepes, omletes, and loads of bacon...what else do you need besides the chocolate milk and orange juice to wash it down.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Food for thought

Being in the management program at the Institute of Culinary Education we often talk about our dining experiences. Going out to dinner or for drinks is a huge part of my life, so I usually have a lot to offer although I rarely speak up. Not that I'm shy, sometimes I just feel as if people might not care about my trip to the little trattoria this weekend. But I do want to record and remember these experiences as they happen. Maybe when I open my restaurant I could look back on these blogs and see what restaurants were good and which ones were bad, so that I could use that information so that my restaurant will steer clear of bad practices by of the restaurants I list whether it be food, menu, service, etc.

Recent restaurant visits include Tao, Rub BBQ, Izakaya, and a little italian place called Trattoria.

As you will probably notice, many of my dining experiences will be with Stefanie, the girl mentioned in previous blogs. Our love for food and booze makes us a dangerous couple. Although a great night; the food at Tao fell short of our expectations. Not that we could complain because it was a great experience and connections to the executive chef granted us a free dinner. Well almost free, we took care of the waiters tip of course. Not that he was any good, but I consider myself a good tipper not to mention a comped meal that was probably over $200.

So what did we have? We started off with two appetizers: Spareribs and Chicken Satay. The ribs tasted like my local chinese restaurant spareribs, but thats not a bad thing!--just expected more.
Stef ordered the chicken Satay for her appetizer. The plate consist of thinly cut pieces of chicken on a scure. The chicken was a bright red-orange color which made us think it was going to be spicy. The chicken was not only bland, but lacked any flavor: a real disappointment.

For our main course I ordered the wasabi crusted filet mignon. The filet itself was cooked perfect and was mouth-watering. BUT, the wasabi crust on the meat let me down. Again, I expected spice and was let down. I don't even like really spicey things, but give me a little kick!

I believe she ordered fish, which I think was salmon. She usually orders fish or chicken when we go out. If you read my first blog you know that I use to be a picky eater, but now I try almost everything. Even though I'm not a big fish fan and will probably never order it, I always try it when offered. I believe she enjoyed her fish, but was overly impressed.

We started off with two of their specialty martinis, which weren't half bad. I'm not usually a martini person, but I like to try out specialty cocktails every once and awhile. We then moved on to a bottle of Pinot Noir for our main course. The wine was delicious, but then again I'm not a wine connoisseur. I believe it was a OCD, Marlborough 2008.

Our dessert was the highlight of the meal! We weren't going to get dessert, but we were talked into it. We ordered the gigantic fortune cookie that was filled with a white and dark chocolate mousse. It was so good.

We had a great experience at Tao despite the food letting us down a little. We went on a Monday, which might be an off-night but i'm guessing the food shouldn't really change. But the ambience was great and I had good company so overall a good experience.

New Years Resolution

My New Year's resolution is to experience all that the world has to offer and keep record of it. This could relate to food as well as a number of different experiences. I'm not paying to live in New York City so that I could just sit on my ass and watch TV or play xbox. I want to go to museums, art shows, lectures, food demonstrations, sporting events, etc. I started this resolution a little early when I participated in Santacon 2009.

Santacon is a day where tons of people dress up like Santa and bar crawl. Sounds pretty crazy right? It was awesome, although I have to admit I only made half the day. I tried drinking away my hangover from the night before, but it just wasn't working. So this event was pretty wild. Everyone was in the Christmas spirit; even those who didn't dress up. So many santas! Mr. and Mrs. Claus binge drinking and singing seasonal carols. One family even stopped my friend Jon and I because they NEEDED us for their Christmas photo.

Santacon was an amazing experience that everyone should experience atleast once. These are the kinds of memories that you'll never forget. These are the types of things that make life such a blast.


Say yes to everything, thats my motto. Don't take that the wrong way, I'm not going to say yes to everything. I'm not going to start a meth habbit because I can't say no. Say yes when you see an experience that might open a door or present an opportunity.


About 2 years ago someone told me that I was missing out on life. Granted this person knew nothing about my life, but somehow his words rang true. Not like it's important, but this all happened at a wine tasting at the restaurant I worked at, Stone House.

I was a bartender in the banquet portion of the space, but was training to be a bartender in the lavish restaurant. Yassir (or Naj like we use to call him) was the General Manager of the restaurant and he was a strict boss. I didn't mind him, but other employees hated him. One employee actually told me a year later about a dream where he beat Yassir up (haha, now thats funny). Anyway I'm getting off track.

So Yassir, self-proclaimed restaurant guru set up a wine tasting so that all servers and bartenders could speak knowledgeably about the wines we had to offer. At the time, I was not a big fan of wine. I was down for whiskey or scotch tastings but wine was not my thing two years ago.

But I did participate! I drank every wine offered and actually felt pretty good driving home. During this tasting, Yassir would ask the group of us questions regarding the wine. After failing to smell or taste a single incredient in a Cabernet, I told Yassir that I wasn't familiar with common ingredients found in wine. Whether it was a specific fruity or flowery taste or smell. I couldn't taste the green bell pepper taste bc I had never had a green bell pepper. Not that I was never offered a pepper, its just that I was a picky eater growing up.

Looking back, I realize that I missed out on a whole lot. Yeah, I've probably experienced more in 23 years than most have in a lifetime, but it could have been so much more if I wasn't so narrow minded. My dad use to pay me to eat things! I guess he wouldn't like me ordering pasta with butter at a 3 star restaurant. Yeah, you read that right! Pasta with butter was my go to dish back in the day. My dad was fortunate enough to get an unbelievable job working in finance for some great companies. Through his job he was able to go out to the best restaurants all around the world. Being very close with my dad, he always took me out whether it was to a sporting event or fancy restaurant. I think it bothered him that I was a picky eater, but he wasn't going to let them come in between father and son time.

Unfortunately when my father passed away, I was still a rather picky eater. I could never just try something. It had to look and smell really good for me to even consider it. I think the only fruit I ate was cut up apples (no skin) and the only vegetable was corn (only on the cob). Good thing my parents didn't make me sit at the dinner table till I finished my whole plate! I think they tried that once, but I ended up napping so they decided to just let it go. I actually feel pretty bad because I use to be so stubborn that my mother use to have to cook me a separate dinner from the rest of the family.

Let me explain exactly how bad I was...

I never had eggs till junior year in college! I know, what did I eat for breakfast? Probably mickey mouse waffles, pancakes, cereal, or just a bacon, egg, and cheese WITHOUT THE EGG. (haha)

Never had ketchup till I was tricked into eating it. Weird enough, I still don't eat ketchup. I don't know if I owe it to that tramatizing experience or what.

I can go on and on with foods that you wouldn't even imagine. I still consider myself an amateur eater. There are still things that I won't try, but I came along way.

I actually started trying things when I started taking out this girl. Our dates sometimes revolved around the "have you ever had" game. I don't know if she's the one to credit for my new "experience everything" mentality or that old pain in the ass Yassir is to thank. Either way, THANK YOU!