Foodie Discounts and Deals

These are some special codes and discounts for services I use frequently.
Let me know if you have any issues, as those listed below also have fantastic customer service departments.

Financier Keeps it Seasonal This December

It's the holiday season, and just about everywhere you look, there's something delicious.

Recently, I had a chance to catch up with the creatives at Financier Patisserie, named not only for its original Wall Street clientele, but more so for the French almond cake traditionally baked in the shape of a gold bar. (Now you know!)


It was a blustery winter day, and NYCFG was so happy that they opened their doors to share some of their seasonal goodness with me. (Well, I mean, their doors were open to EVERYONE, I just made a point of stopping in early to say hello so I could write this article.)

Looking across the sea of multiple pasteries in the cold case, it was clear there is a bit of everything in there. What caught my eye was the traditional Yule Log -- as everything about them screams Merry Christmas. Of course, it has a better, French name: Buche de Noel. It comes in chocolate or with Grand Marnier. There is also a "La Moderne" version of the dessert that features hazelnut sponge cake, almond joconde, vanilla sponge cake, amaretto syrup, praline mousse, chocolate mousse, toasted hazelnuts and topped with a chocolate glaze. (I am now salivating like a rabid dog, thinking about all of this..!) 


What's really great is that you can get these large cakes for parties OR - grab an individual pastry --which is NOT a slice of a large one, but a small creation, all its own. I thought the mini chocolate one looked a bit like a train - or what my three year old might call a "choo choo" so I picked one up for him. It's petite so it's just the right size and maybe, just maybe, mommy had a little bite of it too... 

Financier is also offering some new sandwiches, including a "breakfast all day option" -which, for someone like me, is ideal. I had the Bacon and Cheddar on a Croissant with the optional Egg Souffle, and quickly remembered why wearing black is just not my forte'. "Croissant" had become the new black... as the flaky pastry had me looking like I should have used a bib! Seriously good, but not my best fashion statement.

Other selections included Smoked Salmon on a Croissant, Ham and Swiss, Mushrooms and Chevre, Honey Dijon Turkey and Brie, Chicken Salad and Bacon, Roast Beef and Taleggio, Tomato Mozzarella and Pesto and the Sprouts and Hummus --- lots of choices, so bring your appetite.

If you want a soup to warm you up you must try the butternut squash - you can even do the half sandwich soup or salad pairing.


But personally, I'll also add that I'm all about the holiday cookies this time of year - so just add that to my list of "must tries" at Financier. They have a hand decorated sugar cookies that include a gingerbread man, a Christmas tree, a snowman and a star. And for my Jewish family and friends, they also have sleeves of blue and white macarons available for Hanukkah.

Oh! And one thing I found interesting that is not blatantly advertised is that the coffee is local. It is a new dark roast that is blended and roasted in a Brooklyn roastery. (Ok, I'll fess up: I did not know that there was a term "roastery" - but I heard it here.) Anyway, the four bean blend is comprised of a Brazil French roast for body; a wonderful Central American coffee gives it some fruitiness and tang; Sumatra adds a syrupiness and thickness to the brew and some African Peaberries to add earthiness and character. It’s like traveling around the world without leaving your neighborhood --and all in one sip!
 

There are 10 Financier locations in New York, so maybe you'll find one close to you --let me know what you think, too. (I'm hoping to run a little giveaway here soon... so, fingers crossed!)

The Quick List for Tourists

A Beautiful View of NYC at Night - October 2014
If you're coming into NYC for the holiday season, you're probably trying to make the very best of your trip by asking your friends for recommendations about where to go, what to eat and what are the "must do" things while you're in the city, too.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it's a quick overview of where I may take my guests coming into New York for the very first time -with not only a limited budget, but maybe they are only in for the weekend. Some activities require you to pre-plan a bit - but it's ok if you didn't get to everything, just skip it and do it another time (a good reason to come back!).

Day 1:
Hop on the subway down to the South Ferry and get on the Staten Island Ferry (Transportation options here). The subway ride is $2.50/per person and the Ferry - FREE. You sail by the Statue of Liberty and get your photos. If you missed it going out, then the return trip, you'll get a chance to snap some more pictures.
Check out the beautiful views from Battery Park City or travel over to the 9/11 Memorial Park.
You may just want to walk around a bit in the downtown section for a bit before heading up to Chinatown or Little Italy.
Chinatown and Little Italy are very close to one another. I'd really only eat food in one of them (i.e., Chinatown). There's better Italian joints in the city that aren't a part of Little Italy -so save your money and time. If you ask me, I find it a bit schlocky and too touristy for my personal taste.
But hey! It's NY and people want to see it, if only for the novelty. So go, take your pictures and move on. Chinatown is just kind of fun and you should certainly look for Bubble Tea. I've always liked a milk taro tea with bubbles. There are a lot of options, so just be sure to pick a clean place and it has a prominent letter "A" on the window from the Health Department. (Learn more about those health grades here.)
You may wish to check out their spices and little shops. It's cheaper to get a lot of your touristy items here than it is back in Midtown or other areas of the city, so think about getting those bags, t-shirts and other knick knacks here.
For food, one of the best Chinese restaurants is Oriental Garden (14 Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10013 near Bayard St.). It's not elaborate and it's a bit crude in decor, but you're going for the flavors and the fresh food. Service is also relatively fast - so it's not a leisurely dining atmosphere, either. Get in, get fed, get out. Call ahead for wait times and be sure to check their payment options. At one time, they were cash and AMEX only.
If that does nothing for you, maybe try Dim Sum Go Go. According to Food and Wine magazine, Andrew Zimmerman loves this place and rates it as one of his top 10 in the city.
When you leave Chinatown, no doubt you'll be stuffed and probably need a nap.

Day 2:
Get up an out for an amazing cup of coffee in the East Village at Abra├žo . You may wait in line. It might be cold. It might be rainy. But it will be a damn good cup o'Joe. Just do it. I swear this is the best cappucino I have had in my life. And it's better than anywhere - - ev.er.
Then just browse that whole area - go on over to 7th Street between 1st and Avenue A - it's one of the best foodie streets in NYC. There are cupcakes, arepas, porchetta sandwiches and the infamous Luke's Lobster all in that little area. Oh yes... and Big Gay Ice Cream. I can't walk by without drooling for a Salty Pimp. That's seriously the name of the delicious sundae that they make. Try it. Tell your friends. Out LOUD in a public area - tell them you LOVE a Salty Pimp.... yep. That was weird.
Travel on down to the Lower East Side and check out what's going on there, too. There's a ton of different things to check out. Wafels and Dinges have a cafe' there and find a way to get over to SoHo, too.
If you didn't want to get up at the crack of dawn to snag a Cronut at Dominique Ansel's bakery - then, by all means, pop in there for a DKA! (I think it's better than the Cronut, if I tell the truth.) During the holidays, he also has "Christmas Morning Cereal" which is my version of a healthy breakfast with or without milk. I'll eat this stuff out of the box, no spoon or any utensils required.
For dinner, find Shabu - Google for a place that is close to your current location on your smartphone or look here.
NYCFG at work with a view!
Late night, if you still have the munchies, get yourself a fabulous all American hotdog at CRIF dogs - you're going back to the East Village for this one - and the vibe is even more interesting at night. Be sure to watch the telephone booth. Weird things go on there....

Day 3:
By all means, if you want to see Times Square. Do it. Just for the LOVE OF ALL THINGS GOOD AND WONDERFUL do NOT eat there! Visit in the evening. See the pretty lights? Go to the M&M store. Ride the ferris wheel inside Toys R Us if you absolutely MUST - but seriously - don't EAT ANY FOOD in Times Square.
See some theatre while you're in the city, too. It's everywhere. Go to our wonderful and mostly free museums!
Check out the Empire State Building (on 34th Street and 5th Avenue). 
Invest in the arts and the lovely culinary treats you'll see all over this great city.
Next: Plan your next trip back to the Crossroads of the World and make a whole new itinerary to see other areas of the city that you just couldn't get to this time.




It's Been Awhile: An Explanation

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/pjstar/obituary.aspx?pid=173047640
It has been a difficult time in my personal life, which is why I haven't posted in such a long, long
while.
Without over-sharing, I'll just tell you simply: My world came to a complete halt since my mother passed away on November 2, 2014. Bertha D. Kramer.
An amazing woman, someone that I would call several times a week, just to check in... she's no longer here on an earthly plane, but she's always with me in spirit.
I truly miss her and always will.
However, I must continue writing at some point. I know that.
It's time to get back to life and living. Mom would have wanted that, too. She always told her children to "never sweat the small stuff" and to be happy in our lives - find it and cherish it.
Thanks for your patience. I'm hoping we can all have some foodie adventures soon... Stay tuned and stay hungry!
xoxo,
NYCFG




NYCFG's Foodie Picks: Top 3 Luxury Romantic Restaurants

NYC Foodie Girl's Top Foodie Picks --that's a hard topic! I'm asked a lot, "So, you write a blog about food - what's your number one place?" "Where should I go for the best NY pizza?" "Where can I have a romantic dinner?"

This happens often, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite spots in a series of posts, focusing on Manhattan, since this is where I primarily dine and know best.

This is my first post regarding Luxury Romantic Dining options - my top 3 picks. Your comments and feedback are welcome!

These are in no particular order, but here it goes:

Luxury Romantic Dining - NYCFG Picks the Top 3 for Manhattan - New York City:

The Little Owl - 90 Bedford Street (Greenwich Village - corner of Bedford and Grove)
The Little Owl

I love this space! The menu has always been very solid. You need time to plan this reservation, however, as it is a small, intimate space. I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant. It's in a great neighborhood and you just feel cozy in this little corner space. The decor is simple but going back to the food, it's all about texture, taste and amazing.
While the dress code isn't as fancy as the next two listings, you could take it up a notch if you so desired.


Daniel  - 60 East 65th Street (Upper East Side - between Park and Madison Avenue)
Daniel

I love the ever-evolving menu and the delicate dishes that are created here. It's classy. It's Upper East Side haute cuisine. Attention to detail is everything. Oh -and the drinks can be pretty phenomenal too. Check the cocktail list and have one
before going into the main dining room.
Make sure you meet the dress code requirements and book your reservation ahead of time. It's fine luxury dining, so be prepared for top notch.
Full disclosure: I was engaged here and had my wedding reception hosted a la Daniel.



Per Se - 10 Columbus Circle (Time Warner Center complex at Columbus Circle)

This restaurant makes you feel like you're a millionaire. Its white table cloths and service leaves you wanting for nothing and trust me, nothing is overlooked here. When you dine at this establishment, you won't feel like there are others in the room - you have very attentive service and the view is almost as delicious as the cuisine! Truly a special occasion restaurant.

Be sure to break out the Louboutins and wear all the accoutrements for a luxury evening out. And FYI: This is not for the weak wallet!


Ok, readers... what do you think? Way off? Did I miss something? Are you planning a reservation right now? Let me know! Comments open.

A Warning for Families Dining -Or Is It Just Me?

Shrimp and Grits with Coddled Egg
Diners be warned!
Ok, diners with children, maybe.

Recently, I went out to brunch - and oh my was it goooooood! My marinated shrimp with organic grits and coddled egg was divine! Textures and flavors were spot on.

I dined with our 3 year old and husband. Party of 3. Our son didn't order anything but fries and one of the runners offered him milk, and of course, a preschooler is going to nod with enthusiasm... so he had a big glass of milk (which he drank two sips of and was done). I can't tell you how much I hate wastefulness, but that's another blog post. He's just eating carbs and that's about it. I don't know what happened to the little boy that used to eat charred octopus and foie gras - we hope that culinary curiosity returns. Soon.

Anyway, after enjoying a truly delicious meal, the bill came. We were charged for 4 prix fixes, versus 2. The waiter was quick to apologize for the error and came back with the revised check.

We were charged for 3 entire prix fixes.

Apparently, we were charged a FULL price for a prix fixe for our child who did not eat a prix fixe...he had ONE order of fries a la carte plus milk! Plus, we didn't get the standard "breads and sweet things" that were supposed to be standard fare for the table.

Because of the timing, we merely paid, but then got mad about it, post-meal. I want to also note that our child was well-behaved and polite. We were courteous. Everything was fine. We thought our brunch was very good and both my husband and I love the space. We tipped well.

Yet, I just feel ripped off and regretful.

I thought I'd share my disappointment with all of you. I wasn't sure this was a way to standard charge a family, no matter if they ordered a meal or not?  I want to hear from you -have you had this happen before? Do I have any recourse?

Mama's mad and not happy!

UPDATE: 
Almost immediately after posting this, the chef reached out and is fixing the error. It was unexpected and exceptionally kind to look into this.  Chef mentioned, "People, not just kids, order a la carte and don't get charged." - I am truly grateful for this response and you'll find an update of my culinary experience soon. As I mentioned, the food was fantastic - we just got billed improperly. Thank you, Chef, for helping out with this one. **Cheers!**



The Sizzle Showdown with Recipe to Share



 While I do not cook, much less grill -I can appreciate those who can! This past spring, Macy’s launched a contest to find the Great American Grilling Guru.  Contestants from all over the country submitted their original recipes and Macy’s picked three semi-finalists for each region. Those semi-finalists competed in head-to-head competitions - and the winners from each region competed in the final round here in New York City recently for a chance to win $10,000 and a trip to see the 2015 Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks.

Cool! But wait, it was called a "Sizzle Showdown" - and boy, was it hot! Not just the weather, but the competition!  It was a fun day of watching six top grill masters compete for the title of Grilling Guru. The judges were celebrity chefs Johnny Iuzzini and Todd English, members of Macy's Culinary Council.

Here is a breakdown of the contestants and their judged dishes:

1. Sarah M. (Maine) – Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Herb Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
2. Sonya G. (Minnesota) – Pesto Citrus Prosciutto Grilled Shrimp with Mandarin Orange Grilled Red Pepper Fruit Salsa
3. Devon D. (New Jersey) – Crab Sliders with Firecracker Chow & Avocado Tartar Cream
4. Mary S. (Oklahoma) – Pork & Beef Braids with Charred Apple-Mango Reduction on Grilled Kale
5. Sherri W. (Florida) – Grilled Thai Lamb Loin Chops
6. Jack S. (California) – Steak and Potato Sliders with Basil/Gorgonzola


At the end of the one-hour timeframe, the chefs selected Sherri W. as the winner. Woohoo for South NY - ummmm... I mean, Florida!

Here is the winning recipe that I'd love to share with you - I trust you can cook?! :) Enjoy and happy summer!



Grilled Thai Lamb Loin Chops

Serving Size: 2

Ingredients
  • 4 - 6 lamb loin chops, 1 1/2 - 2 inch thick
  • 4 baby zucchini, sliced in half
  • 4 oz. Asian egg noodles, cooked according to package
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • For the Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoon water
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 teaspoon galangal, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Bird's eye chili, chopped
Instructions
  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients together and marinade lamb chops and baby zucchini slices with 3/4 of the marinade at room temp for 20 minutes.
  2. Grill lamb loin chops on preheated oiled medium-high grill for 4-5 minutes each side or until medium rare. Baste as you go. Grill baby zucchini for 2 - 3 minutes on each side, or until tender. Allow lamb to rest for 5 minutes; drizzle with honey and top with chives.
  3. Add remaining marinade to cooked Asian egg noodles. Toss to coat well. Serve lamb loin chops and baby zucchini over seasoned Asian noodles.
Notes
Recipe from Sherri W. of Crestview, FL, winner of Macy's Culinary Council Sizzle Showdown


I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Culinary Council. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Choco Quadratini Muffins

Choco Quadratini Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 1 bag of chocolate (or whichever flavor is your favorite!) Loaker Quadratini Wafers
  • 1/3 lb of butter
  • 1-1/4 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Roughly chop up the wafers into smaller bits, melt the butter and let cool down. Mix flour with the sugar, vanilla sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk butter, eggs and milk, then slowly stir in the rest of the flour mixture. Mix most of the coarsely chopped wafers by folding gently into the batter, but put a small handful aside.

Place in paper baking cups onto a muffin tin and fill cups 1/2 full with batter. Add some extra wafer pieces on top of each - for a little extra crunch and chocolate!

Bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Serves: 12


ENJOY!



Luxury Italian Chocolates in NYC

Cecilia Tessieri, Master Chocolatier - Amedei
NYC Foodie Girl is proud to announce an article has been contributed by writer, Victoria Prather, to Thursday Review online magazine featuring a story on Amedei chocolates in NYC and its first female master chocolatier, Cecilia Tessieri.

Read the full story HERE and let me know what you think!


chocolatier
chocolatier
chocolatier

Product Review: Nee Coffee Dripper

I'm a coffee snob. I didn't used to be this way. I was predominantly a tea drinker for the majority of my adult life, but something changed. I now drink more coffee than I care to admit! However, the must meet standards.
coffee that I drink is never watered down or tasteless - it has to be very, very good. Quality cannot, under any circumstance, be compromised.
Oh how I love French Press coffee and very rich, dark flavors with just a tad of cream and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar!
Folgers and other regular store brands really disgust me. Sorry. Just not happening.
Anyway -- NYC Foodie Girl had an opportunity to review a I was very happily surprised with my experience with the Nee Coffee Dripper.
The video  tells more about the simple process, but keep in mind that the porcelain dripper is placed on an empty cup to begin - it just sits atop. The ease of this kind of coffee making process is understated and the overall taste of the coffee was really great.


NYC Foodie Girl was not compensated for the review; a sample dripper was provided for my personal use to keep.

Spread the Happy with Nutella: Giveaway!

It's a big day to celebrate and NYCFG has a giveaway for YOU! (see below for details)

It's Pancake Day! Here's a yummy recipe to inspire your taste buds!

Ricotta Pancakes with Nutella & Warm Strawberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
• 1 cup low fat ricotta
• ½ cup reduced fat milk
• 3 eggs, whites and yolks separated
• ¾ cup flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• Oil spray
• 7 oz strawberries, hulled & thinly sliced
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 2 tsp Nutella® Hazelnut Spread

TO MAKE THE PANCAKES:
• Put the ricotta, egg yolks and milk into a bowl and mix well. Sift in the flour, baking powder and
salt and combine until you have a smooth batter. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and
beat until soft peaks form and then gently fold into the ricotta mixture.
• Spray a large non stick pan with oil and drop in 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake.
Cook for about one minute until golden and then flip over and cook for another minute.
Remove from pan and keep in warm oven until ready to serve.

TO MAKE THE STRAWBERRY SAUCE:
• Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat for 3-4 minutes until
syrupy. When ready to serve, spread 2 tsp of Nutella® onto each pancake and top with the
strawberry sauce.

Inspired?
Great!
NYC Foodie Girl has 2 jars of Nutella to send directly to YOU! Must have a U.S. Mailing Address! Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions and a winner will be chosen at random this FRIDAY! Product will be sent directly from the good people @nutellausa! Enter now!

Disclaimer: NYCFoodieGirl.com was not compensated for the Nutella products and only received product for  giveaway purposes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fresh Off the (Juice) Press

JT, age 3, enjoys "gettin' his GREEN on!"
Just tried out Juice Generation in the Flatiron District - Gramercy area for a quick lunch. I had a "Get Your Green On" fresh juice and a gluten-free vegan cheese ravioli.

I'm just going to keep this post simple: I liked it. I liked it a lot. First time there and it won't be the last!

The only problem is that my 3 year old wanted a sip of the juice. I don't think I'm going to get it back! 

Consider this micro-blog post a seal of recommended TASTY healthy approval via NYCFG right here.

Help Wanted: NYC's BEST Restaurant

I need your help.

I know it's easy to just ask "What's the best restaurant in NYC?" an expect an answer. If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me that, I'd have a vacation home in a few different places now. Ok, maybe just a really nice luxury hotel room for one night, but all the same..... I'm asked that question a LOT.

I can't easily dish out a blanket statement reply. It would be so very wrong if I did. I don't...

Shutdown

Previously, I wrote about a Greek restaurant that I wanted to do well, but it just didn't cut it. (http://www.nycfoodiegirl.com/2012/04/rafina-is-not-refined.html?) There were hopes and dreams - but it just didn't work out. 
Plus, the owner sent me a nasty-gram after a poor Yelp listing. 
I'm a believer in karma. 
Today, a friend sent me this image:
Oh happy day!
I hope this means that they will be gone for good and someone else will get this great space. 
Here's to an already interesting 2014!

In Search of Date Night: Dinner and a Movie

There are times when you just want to do dinner and a movie, but there is an issue getting a decent restaurant around the venue. You look around, you don't know - it's a pain, really. Yelp? MenuPages? Do you pick the movie first or a restaurant?

Recently, I had the same conundrum, looking for a night out and not sure what to do or where to go.

Luckily, I found a NEW and really good spot RIGHT ACROSS from the cineplex with really good food. Now, there is a part of me that I almost hesitates to share...

Number One Choice for Hot Chocolate in the City

Hot chocolate is really needed on those cold, cold days of winter.
In fact, right now, as I write this article, it seems like it is getting colder by the minute....So let's get to it!

First off, there are a lot of places that offer hot chocolate in New York City.  If you're looking for one of THE TOP choices in the city - keep reading....!

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