Real Time Web Analytics Foodie Gossip: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Trends: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Diner's being led to their table at a Dark Restaurant
Looking for a spooky dining experience for your Halloween evening?  You may want to give a new foodie trend a try—dining in the dark. Dark dining fans say limiting your vision strengthens your other senses, like taste and smell, intensifying the flavors of your meal.  Several pitch-dark restaurants have opened up around the world, including Paris, London, and Barcelona, and New York City.

At Dans Le Noir in New York, they say their experience is like “dinner and a show,” where patrons’ senses will be awakened, as they are allowed to completely re-evaluate their perceptions of taste, smell, and texture.

So here’s how it works. You arrive in a lighted lounge, where a host describes the dining process, hands you a waiver to sign, and offers four different menu categories for you to choose from—but with no specifics. You will be asked to leave your cell phones, lighters, and any other sources of light behind before you are guided into the dining room. All servers are blind or visually impaired, both because they are more efficient in the darkness and to raise awareness about blindness and disability. 

You will not find bones, pits, or fat on your food, and dishes are kept simple to avoid spillage—no soups on these menus! 

After dinner, your guide brings you back to the lounge, where you can chat about your experience, see pictures of what you ate, and enjoy a post-meal coffee or tea.

The three-course menus range from $54 to $69 per person, not including beverages. You can learn more about the experience here, as well as make reservations.

Would you try a meal in a dark restaurant? 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Chef Goodness in San Francisco?

Do you love Bravo TV's Top Chef as much as I do? If the answer is "yes", then you'll just love this little tidbit...

I can't share details yet (I've been sworn to secrecy), but word on the street is that San Francisco is about to get some new Top Chef blood added to it's ever evolving culinary collection of talent. Can you guess who it is?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where to Take Your Brooklyn Date

dating, brooklyn, new york, date spots, date destinations, NY, best dates, restaurants
Dating in New York is messy enough— there’s no need to throw the “Where should we eat?” confusion into the mix. That’s why I've picked out five date spots for you to choose from that any Brooklyn guy or gal will love.

Nothing says “let’s cuddle” more than sharing a bottle of wine in a rustic cabin-esque bar, complete with a crackling fireplace. Black Mountain Wine House has a cheese-centric menu filled with shareable goodies like a goat cheese tart, classic Swiss fondue, and even a wild mushroom, Gruyere and truffle oil mac & cheese. Despite its wine bar label, it’s completely unpretentious, offering a relaxing environment for you and your date.

There’s something sexy about tapas, isn't there? Palo Cortado is a tapas and sherry bar that serves up plates perfect for sharing. Go for the Garbanzos Fritos, or fried chickpeas, the Paella Palo Cortado with saffron rice, shrimp, mussels, clams, and chorizo, and my favorite—the Pulpo a la Gallega, which is Spanish octopus with fingerling potatoes and pimento vinaigrette. Don’t forget to ask the server for a sherry pairing recommendation!

If you’re looking for somewhere (literally) off the beaten path, head over to Vinegar Hill House. The eatery is tucked away on a cobblestone street in Vinegar Hill, a neighborhood with limited subway access but charming old homes and swoon-worthy streets. The restaurant offers unique specials, changing their menu with the seasons, but is known for a perfectly-crispy cast-iron pan chicken when it’s available. They don’t take reservations for parties under six, but you can stop by the restaurant’s new wine bar Hillside just a couple doors down while you wait.

4.  Brucie
Unleash your inner Lady and the Tramp, with this adorable Italian eatery. The menu boasts uber-fresh homemade pastas, and classic Italian-American plates with a modern twist. The Tagliatelle shines, as it’s topped with house-made burrata, tomato butter, and toasty Brussels sprouts. For a sweet ending, share a Coolhaus Ice Cream sandwich, or get two and try a little of each!
You may walk by Zenkichi without noticing the first time you visit. The unmarked door in Williamsburg is a fitting detail in this maze-like restaurant of cozy curtain-encased wooden booths. Each table is equipped with a buzzer to make the waiter appear. The dark surroundings are dotted with dim lights, making for a romantic evening. Try the 8-course Omakase tasting menu paired with sake for a unique showcase of Zenkichi’s offerings, which includes plenty of fresh fish and traditional Japanese plates. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Chef Seattle - Creative Cooking or just More Drama?

Top Chef Seattle premieres November 7th on Bravo. Another season, another city, another group of talented cheftestants. Here’s to hoping that this season the show focuses more on the food rather than the gimmicky challenges and cross promotions we’ve seen in the past few seasons. 

While Bravo TV has done a tremendous job in promoting food and the cooks behind it, it has also done an equal disservice with its focus on the “celebrity” aspect of cooking. 

Perhaps it’s the reality TV culture, but do we really need Life AFTER Top Chef? Having watched a few episodes of the latest Top Chef spin off, I realized that while I love watching the four chefs cook and compete on Top Chef (Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Jennifer Carroll, Spike Mendelshon) do we really need to watch them excessively self promote?  Do I care how MLB pitcher Cole Hamels shaves cheese or how Richard Blaise shoots an automatic weapon? Not really. Fabio in an intervention? No thanks.

What’s next, Real Housewives of Top Chef? 

Actually, what’s next is Top Chef: THE CRUISE. Yes. You heard it correctly. For a minimum of a little over a cool grand (not including the $255 Beverage Package Option and travel to and from Miami) you can spend 4 nights living your own Top Chef experience! Maybe Fabio will even give you a little smooch! 

After that there’s Top Chef Kitchen! For $95 (wine pairing extra) and the pleasure of living in or around NYC (Though I’m sure they’ll take it on the road soon,) you get to taste the foods of dueling cheftesants! 

All this is on top of the cookbooks, the Quickfire wines, and all the promotional aprons you care to buy! 

I understand that after all, networks are in it to make money and generate publicity. I get that. But at some point it cheapens the brand and dilutes the product. 

I’m also not hating on the chefs. Cooking is a tough profession. I have nothing but respect for cooks. Knowing the window of fame is small, they are doing what they can to generate enough momentum and capital so they can keep doing what they love - owning their restaurant and keeping cooking. If that means keep answering the phone whenever Bravo Andy calls, then so be it. Mazel to them. 

I’ll tell you one thing though. I WILL turn the channel the day I see Top Chef: The Musical.

One of the best features from last season's Top Chef was Last Chance Kitchen. That little 7-8 minute clip captured the essence of what made Top Chef great: Talented cooks, quick thinking, good food. 

So with the new season coming, I just hope that Bravo TV gives us less movie and product tie-ins, and more Last Chance Kitchen style cooking. Let's keeps the original product simple and expertly executed. Just like how the judges enjoy their food. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guy Fieri gives Anthony Bourdain a taste of his own medicine

Anthony Bourdain gets burned by Guy Fieri

Anthony Bourdain has never shied away from sharing his opinions, regardless of how offensive they may be to his targets. Among the celebrity chefs that Bourdain has criticized are Rachel Ray, Alice Waters, and most notably Paula Deen, who he labeled as "the worst, most dangerous person to America". But there was one celebrity chef that Bourdain should have avoided:  Chef Guy Fieri. This time, it was Bourdain who took the hit.

In a charity roast of Bourdain, co-hosted by Willie Geist of MSNBC and Chef Mario Batali, at the NYC Wine & Food Festival, Guy Fieri decided nothing was off limits. Fieri started out light enough with cracks like "You've taken cooking, TV and comedy without ever being good at any of them." But he may have hit below the belt by bringing up Bourdain’s self-confessed past drug use. Fieri quipped "Anthony ... I hear you’re the only one in [culinary] class who did most of his cooking with a spoon and a Bic lighter", according to TMZ.

Anthony Bourdain did have a chance to settle the score, which he led by thanking everyone for his "public colonoscopy". At least we know he can take it almost as well as he dishes it out.

What are your thoughts on Guy Fieri’s statement? Was he too harsh or did he serve Bourdain his just desserts?