Dear Irving: Stunning Views and Cocktails

Located on the 40th and 41st floor inside the Aliz Hotel, Dear Irving on Hudson is an absolute must when visiting New York. The decor is beautiful, the cocktails are amazing, and the views are breathtaking.

We came here for a drink after our wonderful dinner, and we were not disappointed. There is indoor and outdoor seating, and we were seated inside, right in front of a very large picture window. The view was simply mesmerizing.

The service was amazing and the cocktails were wonderful. It had been a very long day so we didn’t stay as long as we wanted to, but we will definitely be back. You have to put Dear Irving on your list of places to go to whenever you are in New York.

 

Boqueria: Authentic Spanish tapas New York style!

We are very lucky to have some wonderful Spanish restaurants in Philadelphia. But, when we were in New York, Eric found a fantastic Spanish tapas restaurant near Kleinfeld’s in the Flatiron district. The restaurant is Boqueria and this is, without question, one of the best restaurants we’ve ever dined at. You have to go here when you’re in New York.

When we were in New York for my first bridal fitting, Eric came here while waiting for me. He was so impressed with the place, he insisted that we go again after my fitting, just so I could see what he was talking about. He was so right. The tapas and glass of wine I had were amazing. So much so, that we made a dinner reservation for the next time we were in New York for my second fitting.

It was time for dinner! We really couldn’t wait to come back and experience a full dinner service. A word of advice. Make a reservation! When we got to Boqueria, the place was packed. Once we were seated and looked at the menu, we decided to go with the chef’s tasting. I’m so glad we did. Everything was absolutely delicious.

Here is what our meal consisted of. Ready? Datiles con beicon, which is dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeón blue cheese, wrapped in bacon. Next was an artisanal cheese and charcuterie plate. After that was pimientos de padron, which is blistered Shishito peppers and coarse sea salt, which was absolutely amazing. Then, we had a tapas trio plate that was out of this world. It consisted of cojonudo, which was quail egg, chorizo palacios, and toast points, croquetas cremosas, which was creamy croquettes of mushroom and Serrano ham, and albondigas, which was Colorado lamb meatballs, tomato sauce, sheep’s milk cheese and basil. Readers, let me tell you. This was the holy trinity of Spanish tapas. Incredible flavors, incredible taste. This was fantastic!

The food kept coming. Next up was another charcuterie plate of ham, peppers, olives and bread. I have to say, it was very smart how they broke the food order up by giving you a break from heavier foods. The charcuterie was a nice break before the next tapas came out.

Next up was the gambas al ajillo, which was shrimp, garlic, brandy, and Guindilla pepper in olive oil. This could be the best shrimp dish we’ve ever tasted. The level of spice and flavors was simply magical. It was amazing. The final tapas dish was an incredible chicken dish, the pollo rustido, which was a Catalan style roasted chicken, Ibérico lard, lemon, herbs, and salsa verde. The chicken was so moist and juicy! This could also be the best chicken dish we’ve ever tasted. I can’t stress enough how amazing the food here was. Before I forget, to wash this amazing meal down, we had a complimentary pitcher of sangria, and we just had to order a bottle of the wine we had here before. It was a 2016 La Tremenda Alicante.

The grand finale was dessert. It was their turron, which was an almond and hazelnut cake, honey dulce de leche ice cream, and chantilly. It was just amazing. Everything was amazing. We’ve done chef selection tastings before, but this truly one of the best we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

Please, please, please, go to Boqueria if you are ever in New York. It is truly an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant. The food is amazing. The staff and service were amazing. And you’ll make friends with the other customers next to you. We had so much fun here. I can’t wait to go back!

 

Bridal Excursions, part 2!

A couple of weeks ago, we had to take another trip to New York for my second bridal fitting. It was a quick overnight trip, but it also meant new restaurants to explore and try out. As luck would have it, our good friend Randee and her boyfriend Chris, were also going to be in New York the same weekend. They were there to see a show, so she graciously agreed to meet me at Kleinfeld’s for my bridal appointment. They would also join us on a couple of our restaurants stops, but more on that later.

Back to our arrival in the big apple. On the train, Eric found a spot not far from Kleinfeld’s called, The Cellar, in the Flatiron district. There are two floors to the restaurant. The street level restaurant has a great rustic vibe to it. There is a small bar area, and tables throughout. You can order food to go from their large counter area, and there is an area that you can see them making cheese. How cool is that? They have a wine bar downstairs that opens up later in the afternoon.

We were in the mood for a snack, so I ordered a mac and cheese flight. There are five different mac and cheese options, and if you get the flight, you get to choose three. I got the “world’s best”, lobster and garlic breadcrumbs, and the prosciutto and peas mac and cheese. The portion sizes were very good, and all three were delicious! We met the chef and he told me next time we come in, to try the kale and spicy peppers mac and cheese. It was his favorite. I definitely will.

Eric ordered the beets and burrata salad, that had red and golden beets, blackberries, tarragon, and chia seeds. It was fantastic. For drinks, Eric ordered a glass of Joel Gott zinfandel, and I got the “bartender’s choice”, which was a spin of a classic Moscow Mule. Again, the drinks were wonderful.

This was a really good find, and fun place to eat at. The staff were super friendly, and it was really cool to see them making their own cheese. If you in the Flatiron district, be sure to check out The Cellar! We’ll definitely be back.

While I was at my bridal fitting with my friend Randee, Eric and her boyfriend, Chris, waited for us about a block away at a cute French restaurant called, Le Singe. The restaurant had a wonderful Parisian flair to it, and the bartender and staff were so nice. Eric was texting us the cocktails he was having, and they looked amazing. When we finally got there, I was able to have a drink, and it was so good.

The bartender, Nicholas, was from Croatia, and made an amazing gin cocktail, flavored beautifully with basil. When we told him our wedding was coming up soon, he poured us a complimentary glass of champagne. He was one of the nicest bartenders we’ve ever met. He made us feel to welcome. We didn’t get a chance to order any food because we had dinner reservations at another spot in a couple of hours, but I would love to come back here and try out some food off their menu.  Make sure you put Le Singe on your list of must visit restaurants!

It was time to leave, and head back to our hotel to freshen up before dinner. We also had a reservation for after dinner drinks at a fantastic rooftop bar. Stay tuned!

New York: Bridal excursions weekend, day three!

All good things must come to an end. It was our final day in New York. We headed out in the morning, and walked around a bit before heading to Maison Kayser for breakfast. It was our first time visiting one of their restaurants, and it was really good.

The staff and our server were extremely friendly. It was a warm morning, so we started out with a couple of iced coffees that were delicious. Eric ordered their Parisienne egg cocotte, which was organic poached eggs, smoked ham, béchamel, and mushrooms. I ordered the smoked salmon, with creme fraiche, organic sunny-side up egg, capers, and a red onion. Both of our dishes were delicious. They were full of flavor and seasoned very well.

The location that we were at was really nice. It was across the street from the New York City Public Library. It was spacious, and the decor was very nice. After a busy, fast paced couple of days, it was nice to go somewhere, relax and recharge.

After our wonderful breakfast, we walked around the city some more. We visited some of the fantastic shops along 5th Avenue before heading back to our hotel to collect our bags and head to the train station.

It’s always a bit sad when we have to leave New York. We always have a great time when we are here. But, knowing that we’d be back in a couple weeks for my second fitting, leaving this time wasn’t so bittersweet. Stay tuned fellow readers! More adventures are on the horizon!

New York: Bridal excursions weekend, day two!

Good morning New York! Day two of our bridal excursion weekend started at Balthazar for breakfast in the SoHo district. We’ve heard good things about this place, and we weren’t disappointed. When you walk in, you feel like you have been transported to a beautiful French brasserie. The decor is beautiful! It’s classic French throughout.

We started out with a wonderful cup of coffee and a round of their kir rose. The coffee was good and strong. Just what we needed! The kir rose was delicious. It was refreshing and light. For our food entrees, I ordered the avocado and poached eggs on toast. It came with a tomato jalapeño salsa. It was delicious. The eggs were poached perfectly, and the salsa and avocado were the perfect paring. Eric ordered the eggs en cocotte, which is eggs, cream and thyme baked in a ramekin. The presentation was stunning, and it tasted great. It’s a classic French dish and they nailed it.

Balthazar was a wonderful experience. The staff went above and beyond to make us feel welcome, and the service was impeccable. We’ve been to some fantastic restaurants for breakfast or brunch in New York, and this place ranks with the best of them. If you’re in the mood for a wonderful breakfast in trendy SoHo, but feel like you are in Paris, you have to come here!

After a wonderful breakfast, we headed uptown for a private tour of the ABC television network building and studios. My fiancé, Eric, works for the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. He’s good friends with some of the staff in New York and told them that we were going be in town. They graciously invited us for a visit, and we had a great time. After our tour, we were in the mood for a quick drink. We went to Cafe Fiorello, which is literally across the street from Lincoln Center. We couldn’t spend a lot of time here unfortunately, since I had my bridal fitting coming up soon.

Cafe Fiorello is a very spacious, warm and inviting restaurant. There is seating at the bar, the restaurant itself, and at their antipasto bar. We sat at the antipasto bar and it was wonderful. There were so many food selections, and they all looked amazing. This place is definitely on our list to come back for lunch or dinner. I ordered a glass of sancerre, and Eric ordered a wonderful rum cocktail. Our server was so nice that he gave us a sample of their limoncello, and salted chocolates. I can’t wait to come back and really try their food items. I have no doubt everything will be delicious.

It was time for my first bridal fitting. Eric accompanied me to Kleinfeld’s where we met up with my maid of honor, her daughter, and her mother. It was time for Eric to take off, but don’t worry readers. This is New York City. He already had planned where he was going to go and wait for me. The place he found was so good, that I went there after my fitting, and we made a dinner reservation for the next time we were in New York. The place is Boqueria. Trust me when I say, if you love Spanish food and tapas, you absolutely have to come here. Another great find by my fiancé!

Boqueria is an amazing restaurant. It has such an authentic, Spanish tapas restaurant feel to it. There are a couple of locations, but we visited the one in the Flatiron District. Eric first started with their version of a Moscow Mule, which he said was delicious. It was vibrant and very refreshing. He then ordered the cojonudo, which is quail egg and chorizo on toast points. He absolutely loved it. The presentation was stunning. He ordered a glass of Spanish sherry to go with it, and texted me that he was in heaven. I was getting jealous! He finished his snack with a glass of 2016 La Tremenda red wine that blew him away. He told me it was so good, that after my fitting, we had to come back for a quick bite and drink. And we did!

I immediately fell in love with Boqueria. It was everything Eric said it was. It had the authentic Spanish tapas restaurant feel, the staff were super friendly, and the food and wine were amazing! I tried a glass of the La Tremenda wine and it was so good! My fiancé knows his wines. I taught him well! We also ordered another tapas plate to go with it. I got the montado de bistec, which was a perfectly cooked hanger steak, shishito pepper, aioli, and salsa verde on a toast point. It was absolutely delicious. I had such a wonderful experience in the short time I was here that we made a reservation for dinner when we would be back in New York in a couple weeks for my second fitting. Don’t worry, you’ll be getting a full report on dinner soon!

We went back to our hotel and got ready for dinner. We were finally going back to one of my favorite restaurants, Butter. It’s owned and operated by my favorite chef, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The decor is stunning, and the food is amazing. She wasn’t at the restaurant this evening but her second in command, Michael Jenkins, was there and we got to meet him. He was so nice!

We started out with a couple of cocktails. Eric ordered Dorothy Meets Perry. It was made with Dorothy Parker gin, egg whites, glenmorangie, b&b liquor, rosemary, and orange juice. It was amazing. The combination of ingredients and flavors was incredible. I ordered the Dirty Dancing, which was made with Hendricks gin, sage liquor, St. Germain elderflower, and salted grapefruit water. It was so good. The balance of flavors was just amazing.

We told them that we were in New York for my first bridal fitting and they treated us so well! They sent out a complimentary glass of champagne, and a couple of small bites. One was a beautiful roasted small corn dish, and the other was a walnut and heirloom tomato bruschetta. Everything was fantastic. We couldn’t believe that they did this for us. They are such an amazing group of people here!

It happened to be Restaurant Week in New York, so Eric ordered off that menu. He started with their Hepworth Farm little gem lettuce, which came with toasted walnuts, green radishes, and a tarragon and shallot vinaigrette. It was delicious. The dressing was absolutely delicious. For his entree, he got the pan roasted striped bass that came with Prince Edward Island mussels, wild fennel, and smoked lemon. Again, it was simply delicious. Eric said it was one of the best striped bass dishes he’s ever had. For dessert, he got the rum-poached ebony sweet plums, with coconut ice cream and a ginger crumble. It was so good. It had some of his favorite flavors, such as coconut, rum and ginger. HE was in heaven!

I ordered their gnocchi mac and cheese for my appetizer. It was so good that it brought me to tears! It literally melted in your mouth. It was out of this world. For my entree, I got the petite Hudson Valley duck breast. It came with braised Tuscan kale, cherry jam, and sorrel. The duck was cooked perfectly, and the Tuscan kale was delicious. It was so good that we buy it know whenever we go food shopping. For dessert, I got the millionaire shortbread, which consisted of a chocolate ganache, caramel fudge, and Maldon sea salt. It was fantastic. The salt was a perfect balance to the sweetness of the dish.

With our wonderful meal, we ordered a bottle of a 2014 Taltarni shiraz. It was fantastic. It had the right amount of spice and flavor, and just went perfectly with our food. Once again, our experience at Butter was simply amazing. The fact that they took such good care of us, and brought out a couple of complimentary dishes, just goes to show how amazing this place and the staff are here. I can’t stop raving how good Butter is. You simply have to come here whenever you are in New York.

Well, that wrapped up day two in New York. It was a very full and busy day, but it was so much fun. Trying out new restaurants, visiting the ABC television station, and my bridal fitting made for a wonderful day.

 

New York: Bridal excursions weekend, day one!

I love New York! The sights, sounds, smells, and experiences are never the same. I have been coming to New York for many years now. This particular trip was for my first bridal fitting at Kleinfeld’s. A little background. Two and a half years ago, my fiancé Eric brought me to New York for my birthday. We had been engaged since the end of August, and I hadn’t done any bridal shopping. I knew I wanted something elegant, lacy, and that would work for a French fall themed wedding. I found something completely different than what I was looking for. I said yes to a beautiful dress and veil before we even had a venue.

Fast forward two and a half years later, post-graduation, and the summer to a beautiful August weekend. Before any of you ask, I will post all dress fitting photos after we get back from our honeymoon! Eric was very specific about not wanting to see the dress before our wedding day.

We arrived in New York on a beautiful August day. After checking in to our hotel, we found out that they had a rooftop bar. We had time to kill, so we went up for a drink or two before heading out for a night on the town. The bar is called The Lookup, and it’s located atop the Hotel Metro. The bar was awesome! There were wonderful views of the city, and the Empire State building was just a couple blocks away! The staff were super friendly, and the drinks were very good.

I first ordered a wonderful tequila cocktail that was made with ancho chili and pink sea salt. I loved how smoky and spicy the flavors were infused. I next ordered a cosmopolitan. It was also very good. Eric’s first drink was a mezcal, ginger, papaya, and lime drink that was fabulous. Mezcal is one of his favorite liqueurs. He then ordered their Rum-Around. It was really good. I would highly recommend the rooftop bar. It was big, spacious, and had great views.

After we changed and freshen up a bit, we headed out to our next location, Ophelia Lounge. Let me tell you right now, Ophelia’s is an absolute must visit! Located on the 26th floor of the historic Beekman Tower, this rooftop lounge is beautiful. The bar is gorgeous, and the views are breathtaking. In all our travels, we have tried our fair share of cocktails. The bartenders at Ophelia’s made some of the best cocktails we’ve ever tried.

Eric first tried Ophelia’s Ascension. It was made with smoked Jamaican pepper infused Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Makers Mark, Sri Lanka palm sugar, aromatic bitters, and cedar smoke. It was fantastic! And when they say cedar smoke, they aren’t kidding. It was almost too beautiful to drink! I ordered The Flapper. The presentation alone was stunning, and it tasted great. It was made with Ketel One vodka, Di Saronno, lemon, pineapple, raspberries, angostura bitters, and Duc De Romet champagne.

For our next round, I ordered the a la Espanola. It was made with Botanist gin, Vicario Monk’s Secret, thyme, sage, rosemary, rose, Mediterranean Fever Tree tonic, smoke botanicals, and citrus oils. It was so clear, that it looked like I was drinking water, but it tasted anything but! It was so, so good. The blending of all the herbs with the gin was just amazing. Eric ordered the Aegean Paloma. It was made with Ouzo, Ketel One grapefruit and rose vodka, pink peppercorn, rose water, fresh grapefruit, and grapefruit soda. It was out of this world. He’s not a big fan of grapefruit, but this was simply delicious. He said this was without question, one of his top five all-time favorite cocktails. The ouzo reminded him of Greece.

Our outdoor table was ready, so we went outside and took in the amazing views. There is indoor seating here as well, but if the weather is good, please sit outside. You can thank me later! We decided to order some food. They only have small bites here, but everything was delicious. We put in an order for the truffle potato wedges, crispy chicken sliders, beef fillet skewers, deviled eggs, and hamachi tacos.

Let me tell you, we didn’t want to leave. The good food, incredible cocktails, and sweeping views of the city makes Ophelia’s one of our all-time favorite rooftop bars. You have to come here if you are ever in New York. Promise me you will!

Our final stop for the evening was the beautiful Kitano Hotel on Park Avenue! They have live jazz music pretty much every evening, so we decided to wrap up our fabulous day listening to some live music. The hotel is gorgeous. We’ve never been here, or heard of it before, but I’m glad Eric found this place.

When you walk into the hotel, the lobby is beautiful. It so elegant, and tastefully decorated. If you keep walking towards the back, past the check-in desk, that is where they have their jazz club. It’s a very decent sized room, with tables throughout and seating at the bar. The band we saw this evening was an all-female jazz band, and they were wonderful. The place was packed, and we really had a good time.

We were still a little hungry, so we put in an order for some more food. I got the seafood fettuccine, which came with shrimp, scallops, calamari, and a spicy tomato sauce. It was delicious. Eric ordered their vegetable spring rolls, and scallops. Everything was delicious. The flavors and spices were perfect. How did we not know about this place before? We had our fair share of cocktails today, so we ordered a bottle of Penfold’s Koonunga Hills Shiraz Cabernet. It was wonderful.

Our first day in New York was coming an end, and we had so much fun. Every place we visited had good food, great drinks, and fantastic staff and servers. It was time to head back to our hotel and get a good night’s sleep. Day two would be very busy. I would be heading to Kleinfeld’s for my first dress fitting! I love New York!

 

JG Sky High bar: Sky’s the limit!

Not too long ago, the Four Seasons Hotel reopened again in Philadelphia. This time, they are located in the second Comcast Building on the 60th floor. When you first arrive, you are greeted by a staff that goes above and beyond to make you feel welcome. When you tell them that you want to go to the JG Sky High bar, someone will lead you to a glass elevator that will take you up 60 floors to your destination. The views on the way up are just breathtaking. Once you get off the elevator, the journey is just beginning.

The lobby area is just gorgeous. Marble flooring, natural light, and big, white flowers everywhere just leave you in awe. But the best is yet to come. Once you walk out to the bar and lounge area, you’ll need a couple of minutes to take it all in. It’s absolutely amazing. Floor to ceiling windows surround you in every direction. The views of the city and suburbs go on forever. The interior decor is just as amazing. Again, flowers adorn the bar and lounge areas. Mirrors on the ceiling reflect the stunning views of the city. It’s something everyone should experience at least once.

We were lucky enough to come here twice in the last few weeks. Once, for a networking event, and the second time, we met up with our good friends Connor and Selena. But you don’t need an excuse to come here or a reservation! If you want to go to the bar area, reservations are not necessary. You may have to wait to get in depending on what time you go, but the wait will be worth it. If you want to eat at the adjacent restaurant, I highly recommend a reservation.

The bar menu items that we’ve tried so far have been the mushroom pizza, which is made with three cheeses and a farm egg garlic parsley oil, an heirloom tomato salad, and the beef sliders, to name a few. Trust me when I say, you can order anything on the menu and it will be delicious. Perfectly cooked, beautifully presented, and it will taste great.

The beer, wine and cocktail menu is equally impressive. As luck would happen, they carry one of our favorite wines. It’s the Chateau Font-Merlet Bordeaux Superior, and it is absolutely delicious. We were worried about the prices when we first came here, but they are really reasonable, especially for the Four Seasons Hotel. You will be pleasantly surprised at what they charge for food and drinks, at least at the bar. We haven’t tried the restaurant yet but hope to in the future.

Trust me when I say this place is very popular. Get here early to claim a spot and enjoy the food, drinks, and view. I can’t talk enough about the views! They are just stunning, especially at night. This has instantly become one of our favorite places to go for happy hour. Once you visit, you will see why.

Double Knot happy hour! We finally made it in!

After many months, let alone years of hearing about Double Knot, we finally got to go. Word of warning. This place fills up quickly. You need to be there a good 10-15 minutes before they open because it’s a small restaurant. They are located next to their sister restaurant, Sampan, which is a place you also need to visit.

So, back to Double Knot. It’s small, but cozy when you walk in. Have a seat at the bar, and  make friends with the bartenders, who make amazing cocktails. We ordered several food  and cocktail items off their menu, and all of them were just amazing.

We got the spicy tuna roll, short rib robatayaki, pork banh mi, crispy crab ragoon, edamame dumplings, and wild mushroom chow fun. I don’t even know where to begin. Your taste buds will have died and gone to heaven. Everything was absolutely delicious. The menu options are just stunning and creative. But let me take you through each dish.

The spicy tuna roll was fantastic. It had the right amount of heat, but not over powering to turn people off that can’t handle spice. The short rib just melted in your mouth. It was cooked and seasoned perfectly. The pork banh mi was delicious. The pork was cooked perfectly. The crispy crab ragoons is something everyone in their lifetime should experience. Even though it’s crispy, it melts in your mouth, and the crab is absolutely delicious. The edamame dumplings brought a tear to my eye. The broth alone was fantastic, but the edamame was so good. It was one of our favorite dishes. And finally, the wild mushroom chow fun was wonderful. Mixed with other vegetables, it was light and full of flavor. You simply can’t go wrong if you order anything off there menu.

Double Knot is a popular place, and this day we saw why. The food and drinks were amazing. The staff were super friendly. This is a very popular spot in Philadelphia. And again, I can’t stress enough. Get here early or be prepared to wait. But the wait will so be worth it!

 

Happy hour at Urban Farmer!

Urban Farmer is one of our favorite places to go to for happy hour. For one, it starts at 3pm. And secondly, it’s inside the beautiful Logan Hotel located on the Ben Franklin Parkway. In other words, it’s in a beautiful location.

We were overdue for a visit so we stopped in about a month or so ago. As usual, the staff were super friendly, and the food and drinks were top notch. We put in an order for their beef sliders, chicken wings, daily oyster selection, and glazed meatballs. For our cocktails, we ordered the featured classic cocktail, which was their version of a Moscow mule.

You just can’t go wrong ordering anything here. All our food selections were delicious, and the cocktails was very good. This is one place where we’ve never had a bad experience.

If you’re in the mood, or have the time, for an early happy hour, be sure to stop by Urban Farmer. You will absolutely love this place.

Sautéed pork tenderloin medallions in a plum sauce

Our good friend, Meredith, gave us another wine to try several weeks ago. It was a 2018 Cameron Corner Australian Chardonnay. I decided to pair it with pork tenderloin and asparagus. Time for some home cooking!

To recreate this pork dish, one must marinade the pork first. It consisted of salt, pepper, nutmeg, ground ginger, India turmeric, French thyme, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, red finger hot peppers, and curly parsley. The asparagus was marinated with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and olive oil. The sauce consisted of garlic, red finger hot peppers, one onion, three plums, and butter.

We cooked everything separately. The pork was pan cooked by itself, as was the sauce. Once the pork was near a medium temperature, but still slightly pink, we added the sauce. The heat from the sauce would finish cooking the pork. We baked the asparagus for about 10-15 minutes in the oven at 375.

Everything paired beautifully with the wine. It had a wonderful light, citrus and crispy note to it. Considering how many hot peppers I used in this dish, a wine like this was perfect. It balanced the heaviness and heat of the dish. Once again, I have to thank Meredith for giving us a wonderful wine to try! Please make sure you visit her website. She does many yoga-wine classes and retreats!