Lena

You know those places that are more notable and praiseworthy than most of the joints you visit – more inspiring and more blogworthy- but why is it that those places that you frequent, you forget to talk, write, or say… blog about? I think it’s like the way your everyday coffee gets labeled “regular joe.”

Well my “regular joe” is lena, the delightful latin café two doors down from the secret-loading-doc-exit out of my building on 35th st. The little place that serves the authentic café con leche this Cuban has looked for 4 years in new york city. The place that has fresh tostones, healthy tofu options, whole wheat wraps, an exposed kitchen, a wood-burning grill, seasonal menus, chalkboard walls and a wonderful owner/chef named Ronny who says hello whenever he sees you. Yes, that’s my regular joe. It’s a foodie’s gem and a breath of fresh air among the stifled lunch (and coffee) options in midtown.

So here you are lena. Bask in the fame of a fork in new york.

hello fresh tofu salad

the sauces. try them all. (but start with chimmichuri)

my favorite part of the restaurant is their cafecito window- just like miami!

exposed kitchen

lena latin grill 34 w. 35th street, new york, ny 10001

Posted in coffee, herald square, midtown, newyorkcity | Leave a comment

Whisk [miami]

Miami Chic and Southern Charm.

Oxymoron?

So you once thought.

If there is anyone who can blend whisk these two concepts together to create a genius and simply delicious eating experience, it’s Miami’s “Whisk.”

There’s much to love about Whisk.

Fresh, local, organic ingredients.

Great Service.

Drinks that are served in Mason Jars [with handles].  Just lovely.  Having a Southern Momma who still says things like”Thursdee” [Thursday], “emery board” [nail file] and “y’all,”  I appreciate the Southern flair.

Water. It's free

The decor. See for yourself.

Entrance from the front door. Notice the whisk light fixtures?

Green tomatoes.

Artwork.

The exposed kitchen. I love an exposed kitchen. There’s something so comforting about seeing where your food is being prepared. Especially when it’s in a neat and clean kitchen.  It’s like the restaurant is saying to me, “we’ll prove it.”

It’s also a great way to meet the chef.

Maybe my favorite thing about Whisk, besides the food of course,  is the fact that it’s a sibling-run business.

I love family.  And I really love when a family does good things together. We had the opportunity to talk to the brother and executive chef, Brendan Connor, who stuck his head out of said exposed kitchen for a quick chat. He gave us a brief synopsis on how Whisk came to be, that went a little something like this:

Brendan and his partner-slash-sister Kristin are born and raised Miami natives.  While adventuring to Charleston, S.C. for college, and asking many faux pa questions like, “What are grits?” and “Tomatoes come in green?” he soon developed a deep appreciation for Southern cuisine.  Since returning to Miami, the brother-sister duo put their skills and passions together and…well, ta-da.

Whisk recently outgrew their first location in Coral Gables and relocated to South Miami, where they can now better accommodate the streams of crowds and the growing number of “regulars,” of which I am now one.

A beautiful day in South Miami.

Onto the food itself.

We started with the acclaimed Fried Green Tomatoes with Herb Buttermilk Dressing.  Even a certain sister who “doesn’t DO fried tomatoes” was won over instantly.  Lightly fried but not greasy, and so good we had to split the 4th slice into thirds.

My third.

Despite the 90 degree Miami sauna outside, I did not regret trying the Soup of the Day, Carrot Ginger. Delicious.

For the main course, I went with the Shrimp and Grits.  I had to take advantage. It’s not everyday “Shrimp and Grits” is a menu item in Miami.

Good choice, self.

Topped with bacon pieces, fresh garlic, scallions, mushrooms, and olive oil.

My sister, who was straight off the plane from land-locked Central Georgia where she now lives with her new husband, wanted the day’s fresh catch.

Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cilantro, & honey lime spread.

Homemade Whisk chips, topped with shaved parmesan.

For Mom is was the Whisk House Salad with mixed greens, raisins, gorgonzola cheese and brown butter walnuts with Tomato and Cider Vinaigrette.  Her plan was to pick at our plates, while still enjoying her salad.  Plus, she knew there was dessert coming.

She’s a wise woman

Oh yeah.  Something else I love about Whisk – they carry Misha’s cupcakes. Whoever is a friend of Misha is a friend of mine.  I know the cupcake campaign can be fought hard by many, but Misha’s Cupcakes has my vote now and forever.

Red velvet heaven.

My third.

Cupcakes go great with homemade German Chocolate Cake.

*Mason Jar of cold milk available upon request.

Needless to say, we left [almost] satisfied.

My only complaint is we were short the company of a New Yorker sister/daughter we miss.

…and things are much easier to split into fourths.

 

The Whisk,  7382 sw 56th ave, Miami, FL 33143

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carolyn kohly contributes her culinary findings from sunny miami, florida. stay tuned for more entries from carolyn’s fork, this soon-to-be new yorker.

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Stumptown Coffee Roasters

I had Stumptown coffee twice today. How lucky am I? I had two meetings, both of which were serendipitously scheduled at the Ace Hotel for their delicious in-house Stumptown coffee beans, my favorite.

my latte

with momofuku treats!

i love lamp

Here’s another plug for Morris Kitchens’ Ginger Syrup on sale at the Ace (It’s everywhere!). The Ace has an exclusive mini bottle that was designed specially and given to hotel guests. By the way, have you tried the Ginger Syrup Dark & Stormy cocktail? Just pick up a bottle and enjoy a refreshing DIY hand-made libation. Here’s the recipe.

Despite all the recent travel coverage of LA and Toronto, I am back in my home city, and yes, I am still a New Yorker.

my yellow city

with yellow cars

Another amazing thing happened today: I reached an all time high for site hits- a whopping 70. Thank you to all my readers who follow. Maybe, just maybe, one day my blogging will be coveted enough for restaurants to wine and dine me for a chance listing on a fork in new york. sigh.

ps. in tagging this post to a certain ny neighborhood, i fumbled- can anyone out there that can tell me what part of town the Ace is in? herald square/flat iron/ chelsea?

(oh, pps. i wore my red pants today)

Stumptown Coffee Roasters 18 w 29th street, New York, NY 10001

Posted in coffee, newyorkcity, nomad, recipe | 2 Comments

Sprinkles [los angeles]

Just as predicted in my previous post, frequent visits to the home of sprinkles are mine. (I love it when I’m right)

I visited Sprinkles last week with my good new-yorker-turned-los-angelino friend Carol and her sweet baby Noemie. I turned her on to the black and whites (Belgian dark chocolate with creamy vanilla frosting). Let’s just say, sprinkles has a new customer for life – probably two. Here is my promised coverage of this coveted Beverly Hills cupcakery.

the black and whites en vivo

the black and whites dolled up for a photoshoot

may i suggest milk with your cupcakes?

and use a sprinkles spork while you're at it

noemie's cupcake

customers for life

Next on my list is to find this running around LA.

Sprinkles Beverly Hills 9635 s. santa monica boulevard, beverly hills, ca 90210

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The Drake Hotel [toronto]

A quick work trip landed me in Toronto. This time we are streaming from the Drake Hotel’s acclaimed cafe that serves award-winning breakfasts for champs. I ordered the egg white scramble with avocado and tomato and it was exceptional. I couldn’t think of a healthier way to start a day.

The Drake Hotel is know for being an artist-cenntric hotel with original work in each room. Set on Queen street, the Drake is in the heart of Toronto’s art district and reminded me a lot of Brooklyn. Most work in the hotel is local and all are available for purchase by guests and parusers. The whole hotel is an art gallery.

I was so happy to see that the adjacent Drake Hotel General Store was stocked with Morris Kitchen’s Ginger syrup of which I am a huge fan and owner of several bottles. Check out Brooklynite, Kari Morris’ amazing product here.

the drake general store


(makes for a great gift!)

During my visit to Toronto, I was able to see an exhibition of one of my favorite photographers, Elliot Erwitt, at the Stephen Bulger gallery.

I’ve never seen his original work before and loved every frame of these timeless prints. Here are some of my favorites.

elliot himself.

The Drake Hotel Cafe 1150 Queen Street w, Toronto Ontario M6J 1J3 CANADA

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Huckleberry [los angeles]

I think I have found my new favorite restaurant… anywhere. Danny and I rode our bikes to Huckleberry today since it’s just a short ride from his apartment.

our bikes.

Huckleberry is an urban farmhouse that offers a seasonal menu of artisanal house made breads, pastries, farmers-market deli salads (free range chopped chicken salad, roasted market beet salad, cumin roasted carrots and avocados) homemade soups and sandwiches. Owned and operated by husband and wife team Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, Huckleberry prides itself making everything on site from the best, local ingredients. “The menu changes regularly with the seasons and on the baker’s whims” according to their website. As for ambience: light, eclectic and homey. I loved the sundrenched dinning room and chalkboard menus.

our table for two.

The two amazing sandwiches that we ordered: The warm turkey meatball on ciabatta.

yes please.

and the roasted free-range turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese, grapes and aioli on multigrain bread.

i couldn’t  resist the scrumptious whole wheat shortbread cookie.

oh, and this is the cute boy. he sure does know a quick way to my heart.

Huckleberry Cafe 1014 Wilshire Blv, Santa Monica, CA 90401
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Red Rooster

So I know I promised sprinkles coverage as my next post but the truth is…. I didn’t make it to sprinkles when I was in LA last (I’m a horrible blogger, I know). The truth is there were some unexpected activities with a certain someone that de-prioritized cupcakery activity. Sounds tragic, I know, but the up side is, those unexpected activities will allow more frequent visits to the home of sprinkles…are you smelling what I am cooking?

back to the food.

Today we venture to one of the parts of Manhattan that is closest to my heart: west Harlem. There are so many gems in Harlem (and reasons that make me want to move there) and Red Rooster just became one of them.

Tucked off 125th street on Lennox avenue, Red Rooster is the newest and tastiest restaurant of its kind to land here thanks to chef Marcus Samuelsson. The Ethiopian born chef who now lives in Harlem, learned to cook from his Swedish mother and presents a myriad of flavors with an eccelctic-ly American cuisine of comfort food with Scandinavian influences (i.e. Helga’s Swedish meatballs with Lingonberry). Samuelsson’s medals of honor include the Top Chef Season 2 winner and guest chef for the State Dinner of the Obama Administration.

Red Rooster has only been open for a month but it’s already created quite the buzz. When I visited last Friday, the place was swarming with downtown foodies (who looked like it was their first time in a Harlem restaurant… poor souls). The demographic mix however, was delightful and another tangible example of when food becomes the curator of culture – the impetus of this blog.

The home-cooked menu highlights include Hearth Backed Mac & Cheese (with gouda, NY cheddar & compte if you care about cheese as much as I do), BlueCrab Crab Cakes, Fried Yard Bird (I love that name), and Braise Oxtail with plantains.  The cornbread from their “snacks” menu is a must with any dish. It is served with honey butter and is mouth-watering. The walls are decorated with very tasteful and nostalgic art from Harlem artists and neighborhood artifacts including photos of historical speakeasies.

Other reasons why Harlem is the place to be:

  1. Les Ambassades a homey Senegalese kitchen & bakery with French and Carribean pastries & recipes. Their almond croissants are the best you’ll ever have.
  2. Africa Kine– the most memory-filled restaurant in NY for me. As authentic as Senegalese food comes outside of Senegal. Don’t like forks? Who needs them when you have hands?
  3. Levain bakery opening  its Harlem location on 116th and Fred Doug
  4. Daour lives nearby.

Red Rooster 310 Lennox Ave @125th st, NY, NY 10027 / 212.792.9001

Posted in brunch, harlem, newyorkcity | Leave a comment