So Long! 2012: The Crap, the Divas and Hope for the Future

My son, Jack Thomas (c) NYCFG 2012

Reflecting on my foodie experiences this year, it's been a mixed bag. Some of the adventures I've had were exceptional, others were humorous, confusing and downright appalling.

I feel fortunate that I have this blog that I can write down my own thoughts and opinions as I see fit. I don't have an editor telling me what can and cannot be published. I don't owe anyone anything, nor do I want to make a habit out of writing content that is strictly positive. I get bored with that.

So, with that in mind... I wanted to highlight some of the crap that I faced this past year. Maybe you'll find it funny (like I do, now -but at the time, believe me, it was infuriating).

First, there was the Yelp review that I posted about a local restaurant, Rafina, that rips people off... They "say" they have fresh fish. They don't. I've seen the freezer - and guess where they keep that bass? On ice. The only "fresh" is that is their menu items are "freshly thawed." I am just waiting for that crap shack to close, and for a decent diner to take their place in my neighborhood. They would do everyone a favor to close their overly priced doors. (If you want, the original review is here.)

Then there were the numerous invites extended to me by PR, marketing and others that wanted me to review their new place, try out a different menu or get a tasting of their restaurant's best dishes. 9 times out of 10, they messed up the invite. While I made every attempt to make sure that I would pay the proper portion and a generous tip, no one was EVER aware of the arrangements.... so it created "awkward blogger moments" for me and the front of the house when the bill arrived. I know, I know... the sad life of a food blogger, right? Woe is me. Not!

I just think that good restaurants would know how to communicate within their own organization and/or with their PR consultants. Apparently, this is not true. For 2013, I have made it a POINT to attend editorial events or ensure that the inviter is AT the establishment when I arrive -otherwise, it's just a trip down Embarrassment Avenue that I'd rather not take. Ever. Again.

This year also had a few events that I've attended where I've witnessed other food bloggers being incredibly rude and wanted everything packed up for them "to go" - seriously. If you're invited to a media event, and you graciously accept, don't arrive with a diva attitude! OMG. The people that show up at events thinking they are the sh!t is stupid. Just because you have a blog and can maybe put two sentences together does not give anyone the right to demand anything other than an ass-kicking for your idiotic behavior. I hope for 2013 I meet other like-minded bloggers that critique other restaurants because they enjoy it and genuinely want to share their findings. The culinary Liza's and Mariah's can stay at home and eat their bon-bons with cheap champagne.

My year is ending with lessons learned. I hope my blog gets better, the invites are real and the writing is meaningful to others.

I'm going to start in on a glass of Chateau-neuf-du-Pape now, as I need to drink away the sorrows early.

Here's to happy 2013!

Yum! Chocolate Truffle Brownies (with a hint of sea salt)

I know, I know... NYC Foodie Girl is not big on spending time in the kitchen. I'm better at consuming whatever comes out of it, rather than standing in there creating things myself.

However, one thing that I have enjoyed over the years is baking. I don't do much of it lately, but this was inspiring....Divine Chocolate has a recipe section on their website, and this was so beautiful, I had to share. Maybe my family will get a chance to have some of these for an upcoming gathering... if a) I ever find myself IN a kitchen and b) if I do, I don't devour them all myself, first! :)

Sam Stern's Chocolate Truffle Brownies (with a hint of sea salt)
Makes 16 brownies

Sam Stern’s Chocolate Truffle Brownies with a hint of sea salt
Photo Courtesy:

200g/7oz Divine Dark Chocolate
150g/5oz butter
225g/8oz caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum (or orange juice)
2 large eggs
1 extra egg yolk
75b/3oz plain white flour
A good pinch of sea salt
Icing sugar for dusting stars (optional)

1.    Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.  Line the base of a 20cm/8in square tin with baking/greaseproof paper. I like to use a loose based tin for easy removal.
2.    Sit a heat-proof bowl into the top of a pan of gently simmering water – checking that the base is higher than the water.
3.    Break the chocolate into bits. Tip it into the bowl with the bits of butter. Leave the two to melt slowly, without stirring.
4.    Remove from the heat and stir till smooth.
5.    Beat the sugar, vanilla and rum (or orange juice) into the chocolate. Whisk the beaten eggs in vigorously.
6.    Add the sifted flour and salt. Beat thoroughly.  Tip the truffle mix into the tin. Shuffle it a bit so the mix spreads evenly.
7.    Cook for 30-35 minutes. Test by sticking a cocktail stick or wooden skewer into the truffle. It should come out just a bit sticky.
8.    Remove when done. Cool in the tin. After 10 minutes mark it up into bars, using a sharp knife. I divide it into 4 each way to make 16 brownies.
9.    When completely cold, run a blunt knife around the outside of the tin. Turn it upside down onto a rack, tap it to release one big brownie slab. Peel away the paper and invert again. Use a sharp knife to cut into the marked bars.
10.    Leave them plain or cut a star shaped template on a bit of card that’s bigger than your individual brownie. Hold it over the cake and dust with icing sugar.
11.    Serve these after Christmas Lunch, box them up for presents, make them up for Christmas Fairs or just dive in and enjoy when you want!

P.S.  For those of you asking, who's Sam Stern?:

Flavor Intensi-TEA

I was recently sent a couple of teas to try from In Nature -which, from the start already had me intrigued by their descriptions and the overall philosophy of their company.

According to their website, "We sell only loose tea in its natural form, originating from the best tea gardens cared for by families who have hundreds of years of dedication and commitment to the tea tradition.... Tea is not simply a drink, it is a way of life, it is the very essence of eastern traditions, culture and civilisation." Their teas are also natural and organic - a bigger plus, as I feel better about eating/drinking things that are not altered genetically or sprayed with harsh chemicals. (Actually, I think most people feel this way -am I right?!)

Anyway, I first tried the Pure Tibet Spring Tea -which is hands-down my favorite! When you first open the package, you can't help but look twice at these tiny dried, fragrant flowers. Gorgeous! The aroma is mouth-watering and I really couldn't wait for that teapot to boil already!

Once I had a cup, I wanted another and then another.... I usually drink my tea unsweetened or with a very minimal amount of honey or sugar (all organic, too - just for good measure). I didn't need sweetener at all, and the best part is that I could re-use the tea (egg) infuser over and over again, without losing any flavor or robustness.


It took me so long to even TRY the other tea sample, because I was, admittedly, hooked on the Tibet Spring Tea. I didn't mean to be unfair, I just didn't want to drink anything else.

Alas, I tried the Pure Fresh Green Tea -and it, too, was simply marvelous. It is smooth and you can really taste the quality. Plus, it says that "Green teas may assist in slimming...." right on the package. I mean, seriously? Do I need another reason to drink my green tea? If you do, green tea has been shown to have benefits to prevent osteoporosis and cancer -as well as their anti-oxidant and anti-stress qualities. The In Nature website has a blog and many other tips for tea drinkers to peruse on their pages.

While I fully disclose that I was offered complimentary samples, I would not write this review if it were not honest.

These teas come from England and are worth the wait -which, to be honest, was minimal, considering that they went via air mail. Since I order almost everything online -including my groceries and sundries- I don't mind waiting for delivery and I'm used to it. Plus, the cost is extremely reasonable and affordable. I also like that In Nature has a loyalty program and a guarantee for their products.

Since I am starting to run low on the Tibet Spring Tea, I'll be sending a replacement order, soon. 

For any tea connoisseurs reading this, you won't be disappointed.... or simply grab some boxes as a great holiday gift for the tea drinking season, I'd highly recommend giving In Nature a try - no matter what your knowledge of tea might be. It is good for you and has a lot of health benefits.
Just be sure to tell them NYCFG sent you! :)

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