Monday, November 29, 2010

Oysters in Thanksgiving

When you decide to replace turkey with oysters on Thanksgiving, you may well take a risk. I haven't been very keen on turkey in the first place so an alternative might have been a good idea. Oysters are healthier (if fresh), lighter and you don't need cranberry sauce! I am far from being an oyster expert. But with the help with an ex-oyster farmer and wannabe lobster roll entrepreneur friend, find below some basics on Balon.

Balon - see picture above-  a cute oyster as you can see, is otherwise called European flat oyster or diver caught oyster. It has a slight mineral after taste, hints of lemon and nuts and a crunchy and firm texture.  I would eat it plain or with a drop of lemon juice.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Italian Design Street Walking

Italian Design Street Walking is a 6-week program of exhibitions, events and special promotions at 20 of the best Italian furniture and lighting showrooms in New York City.

The special "Italian Design Night Out" of celebratory events will have the city abuzz-from the A&D building to Soho-with opening parties at the 20 participating showrooms, each of which will bring something unique and exciting to the evening.

Open to the public, guests will be treated at each of the showrooms to a gastronomic taste of Italy from Eataly.

The evening marks the beginning of I Saloni Milano in New York, an unprecedented celebration of Italian design, art and culture in New York City, in honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of I Saloni Milano-otherwise known as the Milan Furniture Fair - in April 2011.

For a list of events click here:,2,37

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday Cavalcade Shopping Event

Openhouse is proud to be hosting the Holiday Cavalcade and more than 50 of the area's amazing artists, designers and crafters.

Come and celebrate a winter shopping wonderland! This year’s Holiday Cavalcade will be filled with handmade clothing, home decor, jewelry, accessories, paper goods, toys and bath & body products, all designed and produced locally.

It will be a shopping experience to remember! Join us at Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry street, Nolita on December 5, 2010 from 11am-8pm.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chili Takedown

Empty cups after serious chili tasting

Tasting chili is a unique and daunting experience especially if you are hungry and it is cold outside. I took on the challenge and was determined to be objective and strict at the same time. I tasted 28 different chili samples. I eliminated 25 during the first round and re-tasted the three that scored very high, then the following three runner ups. Some were way too spicy, that overpowered the remaining ingredients so the chili wasn't in perfect balanced.  I tasted innovative recipes (chili with rice and coconut milk) which failed to deliver the authenticity of the chili dish. Finally, some were too salty, too creamy, too "vegetarian" or just unbalanced.
My winners were number 9, a chili made with venison, smoked ham, chocolate, italian sausage - a perfect blend and hot enough for everybody. Number 13 was the perfect traditional chili everybody would love and number 17 was hickory smoked, a tasty alternative. I also liked the Caribbean chili and the Vietnamese chili for their "twist".

Plates full with chili samples to taste

Before starting tasting - first batch!

Tasting chili is a tough job!

My winner -chili number 9 (read for the ingredients)

This is number 9 again!

chili number 4

More chili competitors....

Vietnamese chili

My winners!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Collaborating for Cure Dinner and Auction

With a sold-out crowd of nearly 1,400 guests, the 13th Annual Collaborating for Cure Dinner and Auction to Benefit the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation was held last Thursday at the very prestigious Park Avenue Armory. Guests started with cocktails while looking at the auction items led by Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s Auction House. Celebrity guest Sheryl Crow came on stage at 10pm.

Parmezan Cheese and Olives

Auction Item

During Cocktail Hour...

It was one of my few Fundraising events and as an events blogger, I was ecstatic: well-dressed guests, mouthwatering hors d’ oeuvres and an unlimited selection of wine and cocktails. The pictures captured the ambience hopefully. It’s all good especially if it is done for a unique cause. The silent auction raised nearly a million dollars (the Seven-Night-Stay for up to 10 guests in the Ian Fleming Villa at the Goldeneye Resort via Private Jet Service garnered the highest bid of the evening with $100,000).

Sheryl Crow

Dr. Samuel Waxman

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maison du Chocolat tastings

Join Bergdorf Goodman for the debut of the Holiday Collection and a special tasting to celebrate La Maison du Chocolat's 20th anniversary in New York.

When: Thursday, November 18 - Saturday, November 20, 2-6 pm

Where: Seventh Floor, Bergdorf Goodman, 5th Avenue at 58th Street, New York, NY 10019

Molteni & C event

Join Molteni & C on Monday, November 29th for the Design Street Walking event from 6pm. Click on the invitation  above for more information.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Girls Night Out at bebe stores

Get in the Holiday Spirit and join bebe for Girls Out out on 11/18! The party begins at 6pm at all bebe Stores nationwide. Click here for the store in your city.

* Be the first to shop the new Kardashian Collection

* Receive a Free VIP GLAM BAG including top-selling BADgal Lash mascara & bebe logo tee and get $25 off your purchase of $150 or more

* Enter for a chance to win the ULTIMATE TRIP TO NEW YORK FOR FASHION WEEK

Have fun ladies!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Bamboo 52 birthday party

Bamboo 52 is celebrating their fourth birthday by hosting a free drinks and food event this coming Tuesday! Enjoy a glass of something good that contains alcohol - it will be Tuesday after all!

No need to RSVP!

Where: Bamboo 52, 344 West 52

When: Tuesday, November 16, 8 - midnight

Chocolate Show in New York

Once again it's here. This year, the Chocolate Show came in a good shape and less noise  but with very strong cocoa flavors and consumers with a demanding palate. I spent nearly three half-days on the floor trying to taste with a plain mouth and an objective mind -no personal preferences or positive press affecting.

I personally identified two major trends: those of the US market and that of the Europe which is primarily represented by France and Belgium. Chocolate in the US market has become organic, raw, vegan and gluten-free to satisfy those who are diabetic, suffer from the celiac disease or just look for healthier options. Representatives of that trend is Gnosis Chocolates, Nibmor and Sweet Riot - all offering the raw and gluten free varieties.

I tasted them all and although I like the raw-ness, I feel that it may well be overwhelming for some consumers. Blending raw cocoa beans with dense nuts, fruits, superfoods and herbs is a "healthy" option and not a bad idea but keep an eye on the calories as well. Rawness does not come calorie-free, so do have a look at the ingredients. A look at Nibmor's nutrition facts says that a serving size of 31 g has 120 calories, 70 of which is fat, wit 4g of saturated fat.

On the other hand, France came with its awesome chocolate creations, not only a delight in the palate but also a visible pleasure. France, the number one country in pastry creations and chocolate according to world ratings, seems not to care for health. Therefore, you see the bonbons, ganaches, macaroons, truffles and pralines. Christophe Roussel tells me that in France chocolate makers work with "associations" in texture: crunchy-ness and softness are two of the trends he sees in his country and believes that the American market will soon make a shift from tablets to more sophisticated forms of chocolate.

Christophe Roussel Chocolates

Carolina Gavet, the marketing manager of Valrhona, shows me their newest Christmas boxes with bonbons and square truffles, an obvious innovation. When I asked her about the trends in the US, she tells me that American consumers are far more educated about chocolate now: they seem to know how it is made, where the beans come from and the difference between the high end chocolate and the mass production. They also started to appreciate the dark chocolate as well. "So far Americans liked the milk chocolate because they like sugar a lot," she says "but now they eat dark because it's more chocolate and is healthier."

Mary Chocolate, the Japanese chocolate store exhibiting this year, came with new forms of chocolate. They mainly use ingredients and foods found in Japan as for example sesame, wasabi and sake something that American consumers seem to appreciate. Their newly chocolate covered rice cracker is a hit on the floor - I can't say the same for the spicy version of it. Masakazu Takada, the overseas sales and development manager says that there is no recession in chocolate consumption in Japan. The market is growing fast and Japanese like their chocolates.

Francisco Vivar, the Pacari chocolate spokesperson thinks that chocolate should give happiness not only to the consumer but to the entire chain: the producer, importer, exporter, sales person etc. That's why Pacari's values is sustainability and eco-friendliness. Organic, vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free is also a trend for them so Pacari has all of the above. Vivar also tells me that in Ecuador they now keep the best cocoa beans for themselves and for their local production (in the past they sent the best beans to France, Belgium and Switzerland) as they want to produce the best chocolate in Ecuador. Pacari with Kallari and Antidote chocolates came in the show with the support of the Trade Office of Ecuador.

What was new for me? Not more bacon and spicy chocolate this year, as it was the trend last year. But I tried the 100% from Pacari and Pralus. I can't say it was a dessert -for this I will opt for some macaroons- but it was intense and bitter enough to remind me of an espresso!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shiseido Cosmetics Pop Up Beauty Boutique

In celebration of its Fall and Holiday makeup and skincare collections, Shiseido Cosmetics America will open the Shiseido NYC Limited Edition Beauty Boutique – its first-ever pop-up beauty boutique on Friday, November 12th in NYC. The boutique will be open to the public for one week only – from November 12th – 19th from 11AM to 7PM daily.

Guests are invite to sample the offerings and receive signature Shiseido services during the event such as:

* Gift cards for complimentary facial massage treatments at the Bloomingdales Shiseido counter on 59th Street
* Deluxe samples of signature Shiseido skincare and makeup products

* Information about Shiseido collections including the: New Fall 2010 Shiseido Makeup and Limited Edition Holiday Palette, New Shiseido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream and Best-selling Shiseido Bio Performance Super Corrective Serum.

When: November 12th – 19th from 11AM to 7PM

Where: 989 Third Avenue (at 59th Street)

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Wedding Salon

The Wedding Salon is only one week away, on Monday, November 15th! The event will be held at Manhattan Center Studios and have an incredible lineup with everyone from Sylvia Weinstock to Shawn Rabideau to Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings. Meet the legendary Colin Cowie and enjoy an incredible couture fashion show brought to you by Bridal Reflections, featuring Ines Di Santo and David Tutera by Faviana. Brides-to-Be will enjoy beauty services by Yves Saint Laurent at Bergdorf Goodman, cocktails, cakes tastings and gelato tastings. The show will have some other amazing acts including aerial violinists performing from the ceiling of the Hammerstein Ballroom and much more.

This posting offers $15 promotional tickets so no excuses! Go to and for $15 VIP Promo Tickets ($50 Value, Admits 2) use Code BNYP. Please note this Code is for Brides Only.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Taste of Times

Highlights for the Taste of Times, held on 11.4 at the stylish Architects and Desingers Building.

What I liked the most:

Psilakis crab cucumber soup

The crab and cucumber soup by Psilakis and his one-bite seared scallop were both light and balanced.
Nuela’s salmon ceviche was unique in taste, slightly spicy and washed in a nice lime juice.

Nuela's salmon ceviche

Blue Hill’s beets with yogurt salad wasn’t bad but not as remarkable as I would expect it and the lobster roll from the Pearl Oyster bar was tasty but very rich in mayonnaise. The roll was closer to a brioche which introduces the new "rolls"  for lobster rolls trend....

Lobster roll

Sullivan Street Bakery offered only donuts and there were huge lines where macaroni and cheese was. Still New Yorkers love their carbs!

D' Artagnan

 D’Artagnan's mashed potatoes, duck terrine and truffled butter was rather on the rich side so it had to be just a small bite. I skipped the pasta/ravioli/risotto dishes as I am not a fan of Italian food and I stayed with proteins. By the way, the bacon wrapped dates offered as a passed canapés were one of my favorites during the night. On the sweet side, I saw plenty of cakes, cupcakes, brownies, muffins and cookies but I went for the plain mousses: both of those were striking, elegant and pure pleasure in the palate. Porter House's outstanding chocolate mousse with coconut was clearly my favorite chocolate dessert of the night and the Borne Confections vanilla mousse with the truffled jelly was unique. Payard's sweet offerings were a colorful delight to see but I found rather "buttery" the one I tried.


Porter House's Chocolate mousse with coconut

Borne Confections mousse

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Oak Room Lunch

Beef Carpaccio

Braised Short Ribs

I was one of the lucky ones to attend the Croatian wine tasting followed by an elegant lunch at the Plaza's Oak Room. The appetizer was a crusted beef carpaccio with pickled mushrooms, shrimp tempura and aji amirillo - all presented in an evenly perfection for both the eye and the palate. The appetizer was served with Bibich Riserva Red 2007, a nice and balanced pairing.  For the entrée, I picked the braised short ribs offered with carrots and mushed potatoes, a warm dish, ideal for a November day and for the Saints Hills "Dingač". The dessert was an assorted cheese board -something that brings French in mind - paired with Saints Hills "Dingač", 2008, "Nevina" 2009 and Matosevic Malvazija "Alba" 2008.

More about the very unique Croatian wines in a different posting....

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Interview with Bernard Lahousse‏

Bernard Lahousse is the mind behind the, a unique website providing information on food pairing, otherwise known as Sense for Taste. Here is what he thinks about taste, food pairing and Belgian chocolates!

1. What was the stimulus or the motivation of the

Five years ago I started to work with Michelin star chefs just for fun. One of the questions they asked was: “why combines this with this product”. One of the chefs, Sang-Hoon Degeimbre of L’Air du Temps, was working on surprising combinations like kiwi-oyster. I started to make a database with food products and their flavors. When Sang and I were invited to Lo major de la gastronomia and as already a number of chefs were asking me about combinations, we had the idea to make a website where you can search for combinations based on scientific analysis. As a company (Sense for Taste), we do research on flavor technology, but also we develop methods based on scientific analysis (Foodpairing is one of them, as Foodpairing is based on the fact that products can be combined with each other when they have key odorants in common).

2. How long did it take to develop? Is it an ongoing process (always updated?)

Five years. We have now almost 1,000 products analyzed at universities. The current site is updated in the sense that if we obtain new insights, we add them directly and trees are adapted. For the new website, you will see, it is dynamic and has more functionality.

3. Is the site only for pastry chefs or also for the consumers?

The website is for everybody. The website is focused on chocolatiers and pastry chefs  but of course consumers passionate about chocolate can also visit it.

4. Do you work close with chocolate pastry chefs? Who are they? How do you pick them?

Dominique Persoone is the chocolatier we work the most with. But we also have contact with Jocky, the pastry chef of The Fat Duck, with Ben from Moto and others. Mostly starts with a mutual interest or passion.

5. What is your favorite chocolate flavor?

You mean combination? The one our chef has made with bell pepper and strawberry, I like it a lot.

6. What is your best chocolate destination in the world? (I am sure you will say Belgium!)

Of course…

7. Do you organize chocolate seminars in Belgium for the public or for food writers like me?

We organize the Flemish Primitives ( ). Our next event will be on  March 14th, 2011.  René Redzepi and Michel Bras  have already confirmed.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Winter Food Drive and City Harvest

The Winter Food Drive benefitting City Harvest at the Samsung Experience Center, located at 10 Columbus Avenue will be held tonight at 6pm.

Enjoy Izze, Vita Coco, Popchips, Eat Anything, a silent auction (with goodies like a Samsung Netbook and Bottle Service at the Eldridge), and a chance to win VIP prizes.

Performances by international sensation DJ Alan Liao and electric violinist Sarah Charness. Hosted by Red Eye Inc, Miss NY 2009 Alyse Zwick and MC by Jonathan Valdez of

Admittance is 2 non-perishable food items.


When: Monday November 1st, 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Where:10 Columbus Avenue, New York City