I had stalked Amada for months. After all, croquetas, tortilla, and jamón serrano were a special part of my own food history, regular party fare for many a celebration back home in the D.R. They would round out a festive spread laid out for baptisms, quinceañera parties and weddings. Nostalgia aside, I saw the restaurant as a welcome addition to the Mexican, Southern, and Italian family-friendly havens in Battery Park City in NYC, the neighborhood I currently call my own.
It was around six thirty when G and I walked into Amada on our way to catch a movie. Amada, which means beloved in Spanish, is part of the Think Food Group, a collection of over 15 properties owned by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish-American chef who has been dominating the DC food scene for over 10 years. This is the third U.S. location of Amada and his first foray into the NYC restaurant scene as he warms up to open a New York concept restaurant this summer. more »
The Miami food scene is changing fast, and I witnessed it this past weekend with an unforgettable meal at Yardbird, chef Jeff McInnis’ ode to Southern cooking.
Since supper reservations were pretty impossible to get, we ended up going for a late Friday lunch. The restaurant was friendly and warm – picture a BBQ joint in a Brooklyn loft – with a high exposed ceiling and industrial light fixtures. Chalk art lined the wall above the open-style kitchen, the place where all the magic happened.
We settled into a great table by the window and ordered cocktails. With their extensive Bourbon list, I decided to try one of their signature drinks, the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade. Made with bourbon, lemon juice, blackberries, cardamom, and sparkling wine, it was slightly sweet and refreshing, and transported me to summer in South Carolina. It turned out to be an ideal compliment to all of the dishes we ordered. The restaurant recommended that we order family-style, and that’s exactly what we did. more »
This month, I had the chance to shoot and produce my first video, and cover a Book Launch and Tasting Event at NYC’s mouth-watering Chelsea Market. Twenty-five chefs from all over New York City came together to show off their stuff, choosing one recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser that hit bookstores, and giving each recipe their own unique twist. The event was a blast! The chefs were incredibly warm and passionate about their creations, while the guests were devoted followers of the gastro scene in NYC.
I also had a chance to speak to Sisha Ortuzar, a young talented chef from Chile who heads the kitchen in New York’s Riverpark. He talked to me about the spicy shrimp dish he served that night: a take on a classic Pickled Shrimp recipe that he pickled in spice and topped with a brittle made from the same spices he used in the pickling process–coriander, caraway and fennel seeds.
Latin flavors dominate the scene10.22.10
The Culinary Institute of America held a seminar about Latin American food called “Latin Flavors, American Kitchens” in its San Antonio campus, with guest chefs including Rick Bayless and Maricel Presilla, two established chefs and ambassadors to Latin American cuisine in the U.S. More and more, Latin American food appears to be influencing restaurant menus throughout the country. Check out the latest newcomer to the Nuevo-Latino food scene in NYC, Nuela. Also, eaters are moving away from fine dining to more casual establishments, which has given opportunities for more Latin American restaurants to break through the market. That is some excellent news, can’t wait to see what the next knock out will be!
Read more about what happened at CIA here.
What better way to welcome a hot summer Sunday than with a Latin-style brunch? With the Gourmet Latino Festival kicking off June 4th at the Astor Center in Manhattan, I was able to savor some of the flavorful innovations that are happening in Latin American cuisine right now throughout the city. Led by chef Aaron
Sanchez and other popular names in the world of mixology, I picked up some ideas in the Mexican kitchen (ei. use an onion studded with cloves when you make home-made chicken stock ) and witnessed the creation of original cocktails inspired from traditional Latin ingredients.
The session I attended was a “Levanta Muertos” brunch seminar, a phrase ubiquitous in Latin America, that alludes to a dish or a drink that’s supposed to “wake you up from the dead” and help with your hangover. As the first year of the festival, the turnout of people was impressive. There was not a single seat available at the long tables set up for the diners throughout the space. The event was well organized, although the setup of the space was a bit funky: I was limited to seeing the mixologists in action, but couldn’t really see the chef at work.
After a cheesy introduction that had the two hosts (Sanchez and Olson) playing a pair of drunkards at a bar, the event thankfully picked up. The first creation was a Maria Sangriente, or a Mexican version of the Bloody Mary. This drink was prepared by mixologist Steve Olson and had Mezcal, Tequila, hot chiles, tabasco sauce, salt and pepper as its principal ingredients. The drink was beautifully served in a tall glass with a half chile. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate. After my first swig, its lingering heat and balanced flavors made even a spice-adversed palate like my own second-guess itself. One thing Olson repeated throughout the class was that the key to making a levanta muertos successful is that you should use the same liquor you drank the night before. This he kept referring to as using the “hair of the dog” of the dog that bit you! Kind of weird, but probably true. To nibble on, the chef prepared a huitlacoche tamal with a saffron corn sauce. The tamal took the color of the huitlacoche ( it’s corn fungus), so its masa was a dark almost black color, but tasted heavenly, with a fluffy texture and sauce that was smokey and complex.
The courses that followed all had the colors, textures and heat of traditional Mexican cooking but with a refined twist. There was a Pepita Crusted Salmon in a Papalo Coconut Broth, which was paired with a drink from Phil Ward from Mayahuel restaurant in Manhattan. The drink echoed the colors of the dish as a clear peach elixir, prepared by mixing mezcal, Aperol, Maraschino and lime. The final tasting course was a Stuffed Sweet Plantain with Smoked Black Beans, Epazote and Crema Fresca. This was accompanied by a drink called the Marajoara Magic, by Danny Valdez, the most charismatic of the guests, who prepared a drink with Brazilian cachaca, Carpano Antina, Habanero peppers and Lime oil.
The session was educational and fun, but most of all, I walked out feeling not only impressed at how Latin American flavors can be, but most of all, very proud.
(I took the photos with my phone, the colors were vibrant in real life)