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Cocktails & Hors d’oeuvres

September 24, 2011

This is a two-part blog entry. At first my intention was to tell you about two great restaurants that I’ve recently been to, but then it dawned on me that I was about to write yet another rave restaurant review. To which you may be thinking, does she ever NOT like the places she goes out to eat? So first, let me answer that question and give you a little background behind my restaurant selections. Then I’ll dish on two great places to hit up for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Restaurant Selection

I am very picky. I have to thank my friends and family for putting up with me on this one. In fact, most of the time you all leave it up to me to make the selection. I’ll take the credit if this is because you think I have good taste. I also apologize, if it’s because you know I’ll whine and complain if it’s not a sustainable, seasonal, farm to table fabulous type of place.

To me, eating out is a special occasion. Excuse my arrogance, but once you start cooking, I bet you will enjoy the things you make at home better than the menu items at your average restaurant. Let’s take pasta for example. You can buy great pasta from a box; dried, fresh, artisinal, you name it. You can buy fabulous sauce in a jar. A good hunk of parmesan cheese isn’t too hard to come by either. When you add up the cost and time it takes to make pasta, why on earth would you go and order it from at restaurant at $22.00 a plate?! Would I pay this much at a restaurant for HOMEMADE pasta and sauce? Yes, of course I would. But don’t dupe me. I would rather spend my time boiling pasta from a box at home, than have you waste my money doing the same thing at your restaurant. My sister, partner of Nella Pasta in Boston, never orders pasta in a restaurant. Why? Not because she doesn’t love it, she’s devoted her life to it! But because she’s perfected the art of making it and knows that no one’s will taste better then hers.

Okay, back to restaurant selection. I am passionate about sustainable food and like to support restaurants and purveyors that share this passion with me. I will pay more for local, seasonal and when available, organic ingredients. I encourage you to check out the book: Clean Plates. The perfect guide to Manhattan’s healthiest, tastiest most sustainable restaurants. I’ve been to over forty of their top picks, and continue to use it as my primary reference book when looking for a new place to try. For those of you outside of Manhattan, check out your local Slow Food Chapter for their “snail of approval” recommendations.

Once I’ve discovered a sustainable choice, I check out the menu on the restaurant’s website. If I see two to four items that are drool-worthy, then I’ll see if there are interior images of the restaurant. If I like the looks of it, it’s an added bonus. Also, checkout the bio of the chef. Often times you can find out where they got their training, where they’ve previously worked…you know…their M.O.

So there you have it, do your research. Before even walking through the door, you’ll know that you already have some menu item contenders, you approve the restaurant’s suppliers and the ambiance already feels familiar. I think I owe my diligent prep work to my mom, who always made my read the libretto before going to the opera (thanks mama).

Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres

I recently checked two of my “to try” restaurants off my list. Both were very good all around but it were the restaurant’s cocktails and appetizers that shined.

At Tipsy Parson you can expect a southern inspired menu filled with sustainably sourced, seasonal ingredients (the same folks behind Little Giant). The front of the restaurant is dominated by the bar scene, filled with a young, eclectic, funky glasses, plaid shirt wearing crowd. The quieter, dimly lit, artfully decorated back dining room is where the grown-ups sit. Both sections of the restaurant are great, depending on your mood. On the menu, you can expect to see:

Frozen Bourbon Berry Bramble
 bourbon, mixed berries, lemon

Rhubarb Smash 
brooklyn gin, rhubarb, thyme syrup, rhubarb bitters

The Aphid
 denizen rum, grape tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, los nahuales mezcal,
luxardo triple sec, fresh lime, salted-lime rim

Hush Puppies {8} 
with warm pimento cheese

Late Summer Corn Soup {10}

Heirloom Tomato {15}
 Eckerton Hill Farm tomatoes, spicy chickpea purée, basil, haloumi croutons, tomato water

Yurba Buena Perry presents a sexier, Latin inspired atmosphere, also focused around their bar. On the menu, you can expect to see:

Blackberry Gimlet double cross vodka, blackberries, lime juice

Poquito Picante bulldog gin, jalepeño infused cointreau, cilantro, cucumber, lemon juice

El Manguito fidencio clasico mescal, mango puree, tamarindo-chipotle Julian Medina’s sauce, lime juice

Arepas {13} coffee glazed pork belly, cabbage slaw

Empanadas {12} spinach, manchego cheese, Peruvian corn chicha morada-dried fig vinaigrette

Tuna Ceviche {14} sweet onion, pickled watermelon, jalapeño-soy

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Marn permalink
    September 24, 2011 9:13 pm

    Thanks for the shout out! Poquito Picante Perfect!

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