Sunday, February 28, 2010

Food from Japan – Kyushu specialties

The 2010 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York kicked off today at 10am, with a variety of exhibitors, new foods and innovative items for restaurateurs, caterers and foodservice specialists.

It's the largest show of Japanese food and beverage outside of Japan, therefore, the Japan Pavilion was almost celebrating, giving out red bags and sample foods. Because Japanese food is one of my favorite, this week, I will blog about foods and drinks from Japan, starting with one specialty comfort food "dish" from Kyushu.

Kyushu is Japan’s third largest island, known for its fish, spicy specialties, its large, sweet Amao strawberries, purple sweet-potatoes and Shochu, the local alcoholic drink.

Chef Reflection Israel from BLT Fish restaurant who demonstrated his cooking skills, made a green tea smoked hiramasa (similar to yellowtail, fatty and meaty) with yuzu miso, black orange juice and spicy mentaiko (a roe of pollock). The fish, which is very expensive locally, came fresh from the Tsukiji market in Tokyo and is guaranteed fresh.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GALA Italia

The luncheon buffet

Panforte, the Italian dessert with nuts and fruit like a fruitcake

Nutella snacks

A view from the top!

Grapefruit, strawberry and blackberry salad

Artichoke salad

GALA Italia took place today, despite the snow "storm" and the wintery weather. It seems to me that since 2007 that I became a regular attendee at the GALA Italia, it snows the day of the event. So, what better than wine tasting and Parmesan cheese when Manhattan is taken by a snow storm?

The informal tasting luncheon was held at Marriott Marquis Hotel - in the Manhattan Ballroom on the 8th floor. The menu, courtesy of Marriott's executive chef Armano Monterroso included a fresh and balanced roasted vegetable wild rice salad and haricot verts with bacon, pecans, cherry tomatoes and garlic; pleasantly warm herb roasted chicken breast and sauteed mushrooms and pan gravy; nicely baked salmon with asparagus tips and lemon caper sauce; garlic smashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, guests tasted the Tuscan selection of typical Siena's cakes and biscuits; apple tart; New York mini cheesecakes and parrozzino. Guests also tasted a number of wines, all of which were at the tasting tables on the 6th floor. I will make a note of the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Spumante Millesimato 2009 and of the Fattoria di Montecchio, Chianti Classico Riserva 2005. It was a simple and elegant lunch and if you were lucky, you could be strategically seated next to an Italian producer and ask interesting questions about the wine trade, the trends and the weather in Italy. All, under an awesome view of the Times Squares and the snow falling.

Later on, the doors of the 6th floor opened and the 24 different wine stations offering from Prosecco to Barolo and also the Moscato Bianco Nivole, one of my favorites. Parmezan, Provolone and Mozarella cheese with honey, apricot and cherry jams were on the table for a quick bite together with bread sticks and crackers. Amongst of the regular exhibitors were: Nutella and Ferrero, Lavazza coffee and Segafredo. Italian Olive oil producers and the Acqua Smeraldina.

Guests seemed to enjoy their wine tasting, strolling leisurely from one station to another with no major rush. When the restaurants started serving their delicacies, attendees moved towards the sides to experience samples from a number of Italian restaurants in the city. Serafina Fabulous Grill offered a thinly cut artichoke salad served with grated Parmesan cheese, light and fresh. SD26, a unique, in taste and presentation, cheese custard and prosciutto on top. Il Punto's citrus salad with strawberries and blueberries was colorful for the eye and mouthwatering; I passed quickly the pasta tables as I am not really a fan. Osteria del Circo vegetable soup was a treat for such a cold day and the desserts from the Caffe Falai were tiny but big enough to satisfy the sugar crave.

I found that the GALA Italia this year was less crowded - maybe due to the weather - but far more elegant and selective. Before I forget, there was also the Little Bookroom exhibiting with their travel guides. A new, nice discovery in the world of food and travel books.

New York Wine Expo opens on 2.26

Whether you are a seasoned connoisseur searching for a full bodied Meritage or a new wine drinker looking for affordable blends that are lighter on the palate, the 3rd Annual New York Wine Expo will have what your readers are looking for…and so much more.

The New York Wine Expo ( will be hosting its third annual tasting February 26 through 28 at the Jacob Javits Center. French wineries and vineyards will have a significant showing this year, and as always, attendees can continue to look forward to Italian, German, Australian, and South American favorites. Not to be missed of course, local New York, Oregon and California wines. In all, the Grand Tasting offers attendees a chance to sample more than 600 wines from over 170 winemakers from around the globe.

Attend the Expo not just for the sampling, but for the learning experience as well. To date, seminar presenters will include Gloria Maroti Frazee, who oversees Wine Spectator School, and Leslie Sbrocco an award-winning author, writer, speaker, and television host whose entertaining approach makes learning about wine and food fun.

New York Wine Expo Hours:

Friday, February 26, 6:00 – 10:00 PM; $75, prior to Feb. 19
Saturday, February 27, 2:00 – 6:00 PM $85, prior to Feb. 19

(Sunday is for trade professionals only)

Go to for tickets and additional information.
Get $10 off from your ticket by using code Schwartz10.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wedding Salon and Dylan's Candy Bar

Don't miss the upcoming Wedding event at Dylan's Candy Bar on 2.22 from 6pm. Use Code WB2NYC for complimentary tickets here:, click events and then bootcamp.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pistachio Hot Chocolate

I am not a great fan of hot chocolate but as a local now -by accident rather- New Yorker, I made a stop at the City Bakery cafe for the Hot Chocolate Festival. Food blogs and bloggers, food editors and writers, food experts, locals, all, agree that the City Bakery has the best hot chocolate in town; during the Festival that will last the entire month of February, chocolate lovers can try a new hot chocolate flavor every day. I opted for the Pistachio one yesterday. As I am not an expert, I won't say much. Just this: it was thick, buttery, nutty, hot and the marshmallow inside it made it the ideal drink for a cold, snowy New York day with a trace of nostalgia.
For more flavors before the end of the month, click here:

Backstage at New York's Fasion Week - Designers Andy & Debb

Photo taken by Ann Lawlor

Dashing Diva went with a clean, natural buffed nail tone to match the subtle tones of the collection.

I arrived nearly an hour and a half earlier before the runaway show. Bryant Park was cold and quasi-covered in snow. I said my name to the clip girls and I entered backstage immediately. I found the Andy & Debb "preparation" room: things were going really fast. Make up artists had their brushes ready, stylists were running up and down with dresses and hair spray, Dashing Diva's nail technicians were working on their nail polish cute bottles, photographers were taking their most creative shots and everybody seemed to live in an adrenaline-land. I felt stressed but except of taking pictures and looking around, I didn't do anything. The models were dressed rather casual, in jeans, sweaters and boots, had found one chair each and yes, they were eating! 40 minutes later, they were out for the rehearsal. At 1.20pm everything and everybody was ready, guests were arriving for the show at the Salon and the backstage people were getting our seats too. The lights were down, the music on and the models started walking, showing the elegant, sleek, Asian inspired pieces of Andy & Debb. My favorite? The Navy structured blazer over the navy wool turtleneck with wide silk satin sleeve and belted trousers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beard on Books

JBF Award Winners Matt Lee and Ted Lee

The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor

In Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor the South Carolina-bred Lee Brothers present their updated take on Southern cuisine, using unexpected combinations and lighter techniques. Respectful of Southern traditions, yet mindful of the realities of modern life, the journalists have devised recipes that achieve soulful flavor without laborious preparations and hard-to-pin-down ingredients. Simple Fresh Southern will satisfy both the die-hard Southern food fanatic and the casual cook looking to expand their repertoire.
When: 2.17 @ noon

Where: Beard House, 167 W 12st street

Friday, February 12, 2010

Delicacies at Navarra wine tasting

The Navarra world class wine's tasting was held at W hotel on Tuesday afternoon. I won't say much about the wines but I will stay mainly on the superb delicacies offered to the guests while they were wine tasting and appreciating. Created by Michelin Star Navarran chef David Yarnoz Restaurante El Molino de Urdniz, were all elegant, tasty and proof of his outstanding, modern Spanish cuisine. I adored the foie gras in the spoon, the chicken paired with lemon "foam" and the balanced quail egg in bread crumbs. I couldn't resist the cheese platter with dried fruit, quince, plenty of roasted nuts and berries - my prefered choice matching wine.

If your Spanish is good, check here to find out more about Chef's David Yarnoz cuisine and techniques.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Kumquat cupcakes and Liddabit Sweets at Kill Devil Hill‏

Kumquat cupcakery and Liddabit Sweets will make a sweet pop-up stop at Kill Devil Hill, starting this Thursday, 2.11 to Sunday, 2.14, Valentines day and Chinese New Year! You can visit from 10am to 7pm, all days. So, for your last minute sugary shopping, don't miss this stop. For this occasion, Liddabit Sweets will create a special for V-day, a heart-shaped hibiscus and agave syrup lollipop. We also heard that it will be a passion fruit-cayenne pepper caramel and crisped-rice candy bar!
Visit for more info about this antique store.

Where: 170 Franklin St., Greenpoint Brooklyn NY 11222

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Chocolate & I, New York

Chocolate & I, New York (CINY), a platform that encourages the exchange of innovative ideas and interests through the substance of chocolate, is about to start this Monday 2.8 with a series of events, tastings and art shows. They all have something in common: CHOCOLATE.

Chocolatiers will delight with creative pairings and personal stories. Chefs will blend chocolate with honey, olive oil, or cheese. Food experts will share their passion for artisanal, fairly produced, tasty and healthy food. Mixologists will enchant your palate with fresh infusions and surprising cocktails. Artists will excite your imagination with their most recent work revolving around the relationship and characteristics society attributes to chocolate and the way it affects us on a personal level.Visit 511 W.25th Street, West Chelsea (between 10th and 11th ave.) and discover the world of chocolate like you rarely see it!
Kick off your new week on Monday, 2.8 with two unique free events:

Chocolounge presented by Migration of Senses. Find room to savor hot chocolate, enjoy locally made delicacies, peruse books on chocolate, food and art, all in a cozy environment.
Where: Dark Chocolate Room, from 4pm to 6pm.

Art Exhibition presented by Migration of Senses
Join in for a showcase of recent works from both established and emerging artists revolving around the relationship and characteristics society attributes to chocolate and the way it affects us on a personal level. Artists include Elim Chen, Ema, C&T, Jason Krugman, Michelle Mayer, Carolina Vallejo, Asli Sevinc & Charnan Lewis.
Where: Milk & White Chocolate Rooms, from 4pm to 7pm.

To view the 2010 schedule of free and ticketed events, visit
All events are held at 511 W.25th Street, West Chelsea (between 10th and 11th ave.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Italian-American Food at VINO2010

Italian-American food, why don't it get no respect? was the topic of one of the workshops taking place into the frame of VINO2010 week. A glamorous panel, most of it of Italian origin, tried hard to tackle the issue. Amongst them, Tony May, a legendary, New York based restaurateur with SD26; Di Palo, the Italian deli store and the young Torrisi Italian Specialties owners. Tony May was bold: what makes Italian food is the product, he said, and as such it has to be imported from Italy and has to be expensive. Italian restaurateur, Piero Selvaggio disagreed, saying that Italian food shouldn't be expensive: fresh pasta, olive oil and tomato sauce don't cost a lot and make a decent, pasta dish. He also admitted that the most famous Italian-American food is Caesar Salad (made with an Italian twist I assume). The Torrisi owners (chefs Carbone and Torrisi) have a different approach to the Italian cooking: their quasi Italian eatery does not import anything from Italy but their philosophy is very much Italian: cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the country (USA in this case), is practically the definition of that country’s multi regional cuisine. Their questionable - for Italian foodies and experts - approach gained the respect of Di Palo who wished them all the best for their uncertain and rather challenging food future. Food Arts magazine editor in-chief, Michael Batterberry had an extreme, intellectual take on the whole cooking issue and well-known, food journalist David Rosengarteh did an excellent job as the panel's moderator.

On the way out, I asked an Italian food journalist and good friend what his opinion was. He said that there can't be Italian food without an Italian chef in the kitchen. How Italian the food is when the chef is from Mexico or Ecuador?

I am not an expert on the topic but I have always thought that food looses its national features when it emigrates abroad. What happens with the American-Italian cuisine, applies to all cuisines in the USA. Think tacos in an American restaurant: a plate with two or three, filled with ground meat or chicken and tons of melted cheddar cheese on top, is a fully satisfied entrée. In Mexico, a tiny filled taco is just food for the lunch break.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Vino 2010

The Italian Trade Commission launched today the VINO 2010 in New York City. The largest convention of Italian wines in America featuring more than 400 producers and importers kicked off today in Waldorf Astoria and Hilton hotels. The convention will last four days and is only open to trade and press. VINO 2010 is being organized with the support of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and in collaboration of four of Italy's most prominent wine regions: Apulia, Calabria, Tuscany and Veneto.

During the press conference, members of the media found out some interesting statistics. First, that Italy remains the number one source of still wine imported to the US, commanding a 31% of the market share. Also, that prosecco is very trendy and particularly popular with the younger generations (i.e. the millennials), therefore, its increase in sales by 14%. Interesting was the comment made by the Italian Trade Commission representative that soon Italian wines will have to face California (let's wait to see what it will happen). Afterwards, press and trade members were invited to an elegant, (even for the writer who is not an Italian cuisine fan) Italian luncheon.

The menu included:

As an appetizer, mortadella Bologna and prosciutto San Daniele together with gorgonzola followed by risotto with porcini and parmiggiano reggiano. A tasty and well received herb-roasted chicken, ricotta gnocchi with pancetta, roasted root vegetables and rosemary sauce was the main course -nicely served and much appreciated. Finally, dessert came without surprise: an espresso chocolate mousse, a type of tiramisu otherwise, plenty of cookies and coffee.

The wine menu included the Villa Sandi Prosecco, the Rocca Sveva Soave Classico 2008, Fontanafredda Briccotondo Piemonte Barbera 2008 and the Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2004.

There are plenty of seminars, tastings and more events for the press the following days. We will be there, looking forward to the prosecco seminar early tomorrow morning.

More to follow...