Barbarini Alimentari

Barbarini Alimentary Italian Restaurant Review
Photo © Barbarini Alimentari.
I am absolutely mad about Barbarini Alimentari. Earlier this year, our good friend Marianne introduced us to this South Street Seaport Italian restaurant and market and what began as a love affair has quickly become an obsession.
The first time Marianne took us to lunch at Barbarini Alimentari they featured a green lasagna with a spinach and pesto filling. It was a tower of fresh sheets of spinach pasta layered on a creamy green puree of spinach, cheeses, pesto and topped with crusty browned cheese. We all tried the lasagna and vowed to return when they serve it again. We even took it upon ourselves to call in the early mornings to see when they would feature this lasagna next.
In their regular menu they feature a spaghetti with Sicilian tuna, capers and tomato. This is the dish Scott and I are most in love with. I am so enamored by this dish that it mostly prevents me from trying any other plate. This is a heart warming bowl of hand-cut, made-that-morning, fresh spaghetti coated in an aromatic sauce of tomatoes, large capers, cracked olives and speckled with large pieces of perfectly cooked Sicilian tuna. I marvel at how a tuna dish can accomplish an aroma of fresh cut summer flowers. I can’t help but have a huge grin on my face when they bring over this pillow of pasta in pure white bowls.
The most surprising lesson about this dish is the use of these perfectly complex and salty large capers. I have never been a fan of the caper until now. Now I know I was eating the wrong kind of capers (those small mushy capers made by Goya used in Latin cooking). These capers are in a class all to themselves.
Barbarini Alimentari serves a surprisingly delicious Italian lunch, and also features a market with food treasures from Italy like salty large capers. You must not leave before stopping at their case and sampling their almond cookies prepared daily by their pastry chef.
Barbarini Alimentari
225 Front ST
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 227-8890
Map

La Bombonera

La Bombonera Restaurant, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
One of the things I love about visiting the Old San Juan is breakfast at La Bombonera. On the first day of our recent trip to “my home planet”, I get up early and drag Angelica out of bed with anticipation for what is about to come.
La Bombonera Mallorcas
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
As is our tradition, we start our first day with breakfast at La Bombonera, a century old bakery and restaurant best known for its fresh baked mallorcas. Mallorca is a sweet, egg based bread found in most Puerto Rican bakeries and with origins in the island of Mallorca, Spain.
La Bombonera Restaurant Review
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
We sit at the long bar and order our usual mallorca with butter, cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and jugo de china (fresh squeezed orange juice) made with sweet Puerto Rican oranges. The cafetera (coffee maker) is a center piece of this restaurant. It’s a great big machine bearing a Cafeteras Nacional label. Cafeteras Nacional is an espresso machine maker originating in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century. This cafetera bears the signs of age, pieced together after many years of repairs, but it can still brew a great cup of Puerto Rican coffee.
Cafe con Leche at La Bombonera
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
We sit at the bar and watch the wait staff, in red apron and white shirt, dance around eachother in a mad but elegant rush to get everyone served. We can’t sit still with anticipation for the mallorcas as we watch our waiter slice and place them in the ‘plancha’ to toast. Our faces wide with huge grins.
The mallorcas are perfect, slathered in butter and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, they melt in our mouths. We order another and some to take with us for our journey to Ponce to visit my grandparents.
Read what the New York Times says about La Bombonera.
La Bombonera
Calle San Francisco 259
Viejo San Juan, PR 00901
(787) 722-0658
La Bombonera Restaurant Review
Photo by Angelica Bartolomei Edmonds.

Baking with Butter Tips

Baking with Butter Tips
Photo by Francesco Tonelli, The New York Times.
The New York Times article “Butter Holds the Secret to Cookies That Sing” by Julia Moskin is a fantastic resource for home bakers seeking the perfect holiday cookie. It talks about the importance of softening butter correctly to maximize it’s ability to hold air that will later give cookies and cakes their structure and texture. It even goes into the differences between domestic butters and imported cultured butters and features some buttery recipes, including one for Orange Butter Cookies by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree from “The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread
Here are a few buttery tips that I found helpful:

  • “butter should be creamed… for at least three minutes”
  • “The best way to get frozen or refrigerated butter ready for creaming is to cut it into chunks. (Never use a microwave: it will melt it, even though it will look solid.) When the butter is still cold, but takes the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, it is ready to be creamed.”
  • “For clean edges on cookies and for even baking, doughs and batters should stay cold — place them in the freezer when the mixing bowl seems to be warming up. And just before baking, cookies should be very well chilled, or even frozen hard.”

Gazala Place

Gazala Place New York City Restaurant Review
Gazala Place’s Burekas. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Yesterday our friends Eric and Michael introduced us to Gazala Place and I have not stopped thinking about this restaurant since. In fact, I am pretty sure I am going to convince us to go back there tonight.
Our evening had started with after work drinks at the rooftop of the MET. We stood in line to get drinks and fought off beautiful people trying to get ahead in the line. The line was so long that by the time we ordered, we each had two martinis in our hand to avoid a second wait. A gorgeous sunset unfolded as we overlooked Central Park and the Upper West Side skyline. As the MET closed, Eric suggested we go to this Israeli restaurant they like in their neighborhood.

Sunset at the rooftop of the MET. Photo by Michael Eade.
The first thing I noticed when we got there was a stone countertop at the entrance strewn with flour and a rolling pin. That was a good sign. As we entered, there’s a pan full of fresh, plump pastries sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds. Now I was intrigued.
Eric and Michael ordered for us and soon we were presented with waves upon waves of delicious food. Bowls of salad made of crispy lettuce and bright red tomatoes topped with chopped parsley, mint, bulgur wheat and a sesame tahini dressing. This, followed by the impossibly delicious pastries that had greeted us at the door: burekas – crisp, fresh and filled with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. Then, hummus with a pool of aromatic olive oil and thin sheets of warm sagg pita gathered into a basket. Then, fried kibbe of minced meat and bulgur wheat. Then, a mound of seasoned lamb with pine nuts, served in a bed of hummus. Then, an incredibly light and strongly seasoned falafel with baba ghanouj on the side. Then, a perfectly seasoned kafta kabab of chopped beef with a mound of rice. Yes, we feasted and our bellies were full.
We ended the night with thick Turkish coffee and osh al-saraia, a delightful little mound of sweetness that I can only describe as bread soaked in syrup with a thin layer of light cheese topped with finely ground pistachios.
A lovely evening with good friends and a food experience that will be remembered. Thank you to Eric and Michael for sharing Gazala Place with us.
Learn more about Gazala Place in this New York Times article.

A Foodie’s Dream in Cambridge: Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream

Gourmet Salts at Christina's Cambridge Review
Coconut Lime Smoked Salt from Bali. Plate by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
We were in Boston earlier this week and stumbled upon my personal version of food utopia: an ice cream parlor with an adjacent spice and rare food store. This is Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream. With over thirty flavors like Fresh Rose, Bergamot, Mexican Chocolate, Pistachio and Honey Lavender, this place is reason enough to move to Cambridge, MA or at the very least plan regular trips up there.
Next door to the ice cream parlor, Christina’s becomes a spice market – a veritable playground for food loving people. They have the best selection of dried peppers that I have ever seen, their salt collection is impressive, and if you are looking for rare ethnic herbs and spices, this would be the place to find them. I got some beautiful coconut lime smoked salt from Bali and a collection of peppers that I am looking forward to experimenting with.
Yes, I dream of returning to Boston to visit Christina’s again.

Whole Foods Tribeca Opening Tomorrow


Whole Foods Market is opening up in Tribeca tomorrow. We took a tour of the store and I was impressed. They have expanded their selection of bulk items including grains, beans, nuts and even exotic salts. Their fifth location in New York City is huge with a large dining area upstairs and plenty of treats to attract food loving people in the area including sushi, middle eastern fare, gelato, crêpes and more.
Money conscious consumers like me will be happy to learn that when you buy by the case, Whole Foods gives you a 5% discount. Visit their bulk bins to save on items like rice, beans and nuts. Bring your own bag and receive a discount of at least 5 cents per bag. They will also be offering delivery service at this location.
What impressed me the most was learning about their environmentally responsible and community conscious values. They partner with local food purveyors, support sustainable practices and donate 5% of their profits to local community organizations. I feel good about supporting companies like Whole Foods.
Thanks, Sunetra for inviting us to this event!

A Few of my Favorites

Favorite Restaurants, Bakeries and Bars in New York City
Marta at Frank. Photo by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds.
From the beginning, New York City has been all about food experiences for this girl. When we first moved here, I was terrified of venturing outside to explore the city. That was until I saw a little blurb in Time Out New York about the best doughnuts in the city at the Doughnut Plant. Finding the place that made the best doughnuts in the city became my target and not too long afterwards, I found the strength to brave the city to find these doughnuts. I got lost, but with the help of a map and sheer determination I found the place.
Today, just like eight years ago, I continue to seek out new food experiences as a way to explore the city. Here are a few of my favorite discoveries.
Fusion

  • A romantic dinner of anything served at Five Points
  • Sunday brunch at Essex
  • Food taken to an art at wd-50
  • Inventive and delightful plates in an intimate setting at Graffiti
  • Gorgeous sushi and oysters at Sumile
  • Refreshing, well prepared and reasonably priced dishes at Mooncake

International

  • Belgian – All the fries you could ever eat at Pommes Frites
  • Burmese – Banana leaf flounder with coconut rice at Café Mingala
  • Chinese – Sunday morning dim sum at Jing Fong
  • Ethiopian – Eating with my hands at Ghenet
  • Indian – Dosas for lunch and anything for dinner at Amma
  • Italian – Polpettone with mashed potatoes and tomato gravy at Frank
  • Spanish – A romantic paella to share at La Paella
  • Spanish – A plate of olives at Oliva
  • Spanish – Sangria and salpicón at Malaga

American

  • Supersized french toasts at The Comfort Diner
  • Outdoor burgers in Madison Square Park at the Shake Shack

Latin American

  • Brazilian – Humble Brazilian food and awesome pique at Delicia Brazil
  • Brazilian – The most delicious caipirinhas at Ipanema
  • Cuban – A cubano prepared right in front of you at Mi Floridita
  • Cuban – Savory cafeteria style rice and beans with pork at Margón
  • Dominican – Roasted chicken at El Malecón
  • Mexican – Killer frozen margaritas and flautas at Zarela
  • Mexican – Happy hour $3 margaritas and free chips at Tequilas
  • Mexican – Humble Mexican food at El Maguey y La Tuna
  • Pan-Latino – Mojitos with raw sugar cane at Paladar
  • Venezuelan – The most amazing patacones at Cocotero

Pubs and Bars

  • Outdoor drinking and barbeque at the Frying Pan
  • Early day drinking and a burger at The Half King
  • Wine to start a date at Simone
  • Fish and chips and a pint of Guinness at Thady Cons
  • Lychee martinis at Verlaine
  • A sexy night at the Cellar Bar

Bakeries

Eye Candy


Snocaps I, 2006. Source: Rock Made. Photo by Craig Kanarick.
There’s something about snow in New York City. It’s been snowing all morning and there are a few inches of bright white collecting on everything. Walk through the city during a good snow and for those few moments the city looks innocent, pure and child-like. Everything untouched. This was such morning.
Coming back to the office, I happily stumbled upon Craig Kanarick’s photography at Rock Made. His playful work with candy is displayed in large photographic prints. Bright and beautiful. The image featured here is Snocaps I. It reminds me of snow in New York City.

City Bakery Hot Chocolate – Why Angelica Loves NYC

Three years ago this February, I dragged Angelica and Scott to The City Bakery. I was on a personal mission to find the best hot chocolate in the city and I needed a few judges. With stellar reviews and the promise of homemade marshmallow, we had to try it.
Now, this was a time when Angelica in particular was very down on New York City. School was challenging. She just entered high school and adapting was overwhelming. Well, that day, the City Bakery featured a special flavor: banana peel hot chocolate. We ordered one flavored and one regular, both “with” (marshmallow). They are served in shallow, wide cups with a square, homemade marshmallow on top. The substance is thick, thicker than you would ever imagine hot chocolate, more like a pudding that has not yet set. We carried our hot chocolates upstairs and very slowly consumed this chocolate feast-in-a-bowl. When we were finished, we were giddy. Angelica swore to stay in the city. “This is where I want to work!” she proclaimed as she cheerfully leapt, skipped and hopped home from the City Bakery.
Banana Peel Hot Chocolate resurrected our daughter that day. One powerful cup of hot chocolate later and her whole attitude toward living in the city changed. She wanted to WORK here! Needless to say, since then, we visit the City Bakery when in need of resurrection or a decadent treat, especially during February.
During the month of February the City Bakery hosts the Hot Chocolate Festival. Only during this month do they feature flavored hot chocolates like: Banana Peel, Love Potion, Ginger, and, my absolute favorite: Chili Pepper. For Valentines Day this year, they are hosting a one night all-you-can-drink hot chocolate event: The City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival Party. Learn more about it here.
Thank you to owner, Maury Rubin, who reminds us why this city is so delightful. And, yes, this is the city’s best hot chocolate.
The City Bakery
3 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenue)
New York, NY 10011
Email: info@thecitybakery.com
Phone: 212-366-1414
Map