Category Archives: Travel Spot

Redhook Round-Up

Yes, yes…we hear a lot about Redhook these days.  Pretty much every major magazine featured a piece on this neighborhood this summer…but you know what? this area deserves it…it’s this neat little gem nestled into the coziest corner of Brooklyn.  It’s filled with great shops and even better food and when I go there I feel like I am transported to a 19th century portside enclave complete with anchor garbage cans and nautically named locations.

On Tuesdays you can find me helping out the lovely illustrator and shopkeeper, Jane Buck of Foxy and Winston.  You’ll recognize this place by the darling shop window full of onesies and cards – where occasionally you will find Hope… the cutest beagle ever, this is her favorite spot. One Tuesday in July, my pal Cia met me in Redhook and we did a tasting tour down Van Brunt street.  Here are some of the highlights!

I started with lunch at Fort Defiance.  I ordered what I normally order there; the smoked salmon on multigrain bread with crème fraiche, cucumber and watercress (although they are known for their Muffaletta).

We made our way to the Redhook Lobster Pound where we ordered one Connecticut style Lobster roll (warm with butter) and one Maine style Lobster Roll (cold with a little mayo).  Usually I’m all for Connecticut style (seeing as though I’m from there) but their Maine style sure is yummy.

Since we were just steps from Baked we stopped in for a Chocolate Chip Cookie.  SERIOUSLY yummy.

Even though we were pretty stuffed at this point we went to The Good Fork for some cocktails and their well known dumplings.  Annnnnd we slipped in a lovely grilled calamari salad as well.  Couldn’t hurt at this point!

We finished the night with a twilight tasting of Domaine de Canton at Dry Dock.  It was a good day.

I think we covered all the basics, besides IKEA and Fairway that is.  If you haven’t, I hope you can visit Redhook some day. It really is one of my favorite one stop neighborhoods in all of NYC.



Filed under Appetizer, Beverage, Food Anecdotes, Travel Spot

Baked Long Island Clams

Music: Acid Tongue – Jenny Lewis

Growing up on the Great South Bay of Long Island, nothing defined my childhood more than the beach, the boat and the waterways of my home.  In the summers when I was young one of my favorite culinary adventures was to go clamming with my cousin off Squaw Island.  For anyone who does not know what Squaw Island is, well it is essentially a little mound of earth that is only visible during low tide about a ten-minute ride southwest from the Amityville Cut just past Snake Channel.  For anyone who doesn’t know where Snake Channel is, well it’s just west of the Tobay Beach marina.  Hang a right at The Four Corners and…OK, none of you know where any of this is but I can attest that is some of the most beautiful stretches of local beaches, marshes and bay I have ever seen.

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James Beard House

Chef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene
The James Beard House
New York City
May 5th, 2010

Last week Brooklyn Plated took a wonderful field trip to the James Beard House for a six course, tasting menu with wine pairing by guest chef Linton Hopkins.  The cuisine paired a southern flare with traditional American cuisine.  In short the night was amazing and I felt honored to be apart of a real and very rare New York culinary experience.

The Beard House is a beautiful town house on west 12th street between 6th and 7th avenue.  After Beard’s death in 1985, a group of his friends answered a call from Julia Child to do something extraordinary with his home.  What became of the townhouse is now the Beard House and they serve up amazing events and dinners with special guest chefs showcasing their signature dishes.  As you enter the house you are greeted by the vast kitchen, which takes up almost the entire first floor.  Passing through the kitchen I was tempted to pluck an hors d’oeuvre off the tray being plated by the wait staff.  We exist the kitchen into the solarium (yes there is a solarium) that looks out onto a beautiful backyard.

We started the night in the backyard with a signature cocktail called The Harrier: gin, grapefruit juice and lavender essence.  This was the equivalent of drinking a spring morning.  Passed hors d’oeuvres included (in the order of mouth watering amazingness) a mini cornmeal blini with Crème Fraîche and Altamha River sturgeon roe, Pimiento cheese and B&B pickle fritter with pepper jelly, Levain crusted mountain trout with smoked trout roe and dill pollen, Sorghum glazed veal sweetbreads with crushed peanuts, and Border Springs spring lamb terrine with house made beer mustard.  Phew…it was a lot, and we successfully planted ourselves right near the door so we would get first dibs.  It also didn’t hurt that I was the only man in our party surrounded by beautiful women, (sorry Chris, you should have come) which I won’t rate like the hors d’oeuvres.

The main dining area is what used to be Beard’s living space and bedroom.  Our table was actually in what was once his bed nook, which oddly enough, had fully mirrored ceilings!  Flirty.

I will be forced to simply list the courses since there were so many.  It is safe to say it was one of the better meals I have ever had and the wine parings were really special.  My only real critique was the last main course of red meat was sort of eh.  I am not a huge meat eater and after our trip to Argentina, it takes a lot to wow me with steak.

Amuse: Asparagus agnolotti (essentially, a perfect little ravioli shaped like a football)

Paired with 2008 Simpson Vineyard Viognier.

First Course: Georgia wild shrimp, island clams, crab toast fennel and Cherokee leek broth. Yum.

Second Course: Skillet roast tilefish, creamed English peas, roasted Vidalia onions, crisp bacon and lettuces.  This was a personal favorite.  I had never heard of tilefish but it was very good and the crispy bacon with the fish was a wonderfully surprising flavor.  Paired with a 2006 Wile Yeast Chardonnay, which I LOVED, others at the table not so much, but it really opened up with the food.

Third Course: Roast South Carolina pigeon with Riverview farms cornbread and Cruze buttermilk, wild watercress and natural jus. Paired with 2008 Rosella’s Vineyard Pinot Noir. And the winner is?…this dish.  I have had game bird in a few places and never have I had pigeon as perfectly cooked and tasty as this dish.  That buttermilk cornbread was like pancake batter and corn pudding puree.

Fourth Course: White oak Pasture beef to ways, pepper crusted and hickory smoked ribeye with short ribs and Appalachian ramps, morel fondue, pickled fiddleheads and marrow.  Sadly the best part of this grand finale was the fiddleheads.  Nothing really spectacular about this entrée except maybe the short ribs. The pairing of 2006 La Diligence Syrah was an excellent wine.

Fifth Course: Southern Cheese course with The Oracle 2005 a Bordeaux blend was by far my favorite wine of the night and the cheese was very good.  We had:

  • Sweetgrass Dairy Green Hill
  • Blackberry Farm Blue – excellent!
  • Spinning Spider Creamery Stackhouse – a triple cream that one of our friends thought tasted like cream cheese, but I loved it for the mildness.

It was also served with smoked blood orange and pecan levain.

Sixth Course: Woodland Gardens’ strawberry shortcake with strawberry sorbet ad mint cream.  This was served with an Old Hickory, a rather perfuming but refreshing cocktail of dry and sweet vermouth with orange bitters.  The shortcake was some of the best I have ever had, and I love strawberry shortcake.

This was a remarkable night and the chef coming out to answer questions topped it.  He was quite approachable and as I left shaking his hand it was as if I had stopped in for dinner at a friends house.

– JV

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Lobster Rolls!

Music: Driftwood – Travis

This past weekend we threw a lovely soiree for my dear friends Trina and Ji Young.  We spent the weekend at Molly’s family beach house on Long Beach Island and celebrated the passing of 3 decades. And Brooklyn Plated catered it!  We served some old standby’s like crab cakes and polenta fries (pictures at bottom).  I also made a variation of a good old fashion New England lobster roll recipe and combined it with something from Thomas Keller.  What we got was magic. We served the lobster rolls along side some corn on the cob and cole slaw.

I grew up in CT.  In CT they serve lobster rolls hot and with butter (Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale in Madison is where we usually go for this – also if someone can find and send me a picture of one of their old school tee-shirts, I’ll make it worth you’re while…not quite sure how but I will).  Everywhere else in New England they serve lobster rolls cold and with mayo! Imagine the horror on my first trip to Maine way back in the summer of 1992 when I was served a cold, wet lobster roll…to be honest, I never grew to like it, not even after many trips north in the passing years.  It wasn’t until a recent trip to The Brooklyn Flea where I ate a Maine-style lobster roll from the Red Hook Lobster Pound that I was converted.

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Filed under Appetizer, Brooklyn Places, Fish, Food Anecdotes, How to..., Polenta, Recipes, Sides, Sunday Dinner, Travel Spot

AND we’re back….

Hi there. Been awhile. How’ve you been?

We took a couple days to recover from our eating frenzy in SF but we’re happy to be cooking and back on track.  I don’t have a recipe for you today but I have some lovely food pictures of the weekend we spent in the Hamptons with our great friends.  Happy Birthday Melissa!

About 20 of us rented a mansion for a Big Chill-esque weekend (I’ve never seen this movie but apparently someone dies, hence the get-together…thankfully that wasn’t the case for us but because of the storm, this house was the perfect setting for a horror film so there was the potential for a kinda “big chill” on our hands…).  We had a BBQ/Pot-Luck Thanksgiving Dinner on Friday night. Saturday night  The Clam Man of Southampton came to the house and created a good ol’ fashioned clam bake for us complete with oysters, lobsters, steamers, mussels and baked potatoes.

The best thing to do with a group of late 20 somethings/early 30 somethings (besides totally age yourself in your own blog)? Flip cup, charades, Jenga and Beatles Rock Band.  Man, I’m really setting us up for some gore.

An unreal baked potato cheese thing - who made this??? I can't remember...


Pork Tenderloin

Pre-Mashed Cauliflower

Sweet Potato Casserole

Baked by Melissa Mini Cupcakes

Clam Bake


Mussles n' Stuff


Filed under Fish, Food Anecdotes, General Rantings, Pork, Sides, Sunday Dinner, Travel Spot

San Francisco – Day 6

First Stop

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 487 2600

We started the day off with a drive to the Mission. We met our friends Mika and Ryan at, the one, the only Tartine! (I’ve been waiting all week for this).  We shared a Pain au Chocolat (perfectly bittersweet chocolate too) and a Breakfast bun made of orange and honey. We enjoyed our coffees and breakfast outside in the sun before heading out to Muir Woods.  Incidentally, we also took a sweet treat with us for the road…I title the last shot “Still Life with Meyer Lemon Tart in Redwoods”.

Second Stop

798 Redwood Hwy
Mill Valley, CA
(800) 786-1000

We couldn’t come to CA without a visit to this institution.  We ordered cheeseburgers, animal style of course, with fries and chocolate shakes. Did you know you can get the fries animal style too?  A very enthusiastic 12-year old boy informed me of this well after I’d ordered but plan to try it next time. Who knew fast food could be so good?…California did.

Third Stop:

Zuni Café
1658 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 552-2522

And for a real change of pace, we decided to finish our amazing trip with a couple stops.  We started the night off with oysters and martini’s at Zuni.  We were given a mix of:

  • Eld Inlet Kumamotos (WA – win!)
  • Sister’s Point (CA)
  • Pearl Point (CA)
  • Drake’s Bay (CA)
  • Hog Island Pacifics (CA)
  • Little Skookum (WA)

Forth Stop:

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St. @ 20th St.
San Francisco, CA

I’ve gotten more recommendations for this place than any other in SF, including a random “have you been to flour and water?” from a shop owner in the Haight.  Our reservations were for 10 PM and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  But it was packed and lively and very well decorated (both in décor and with hipster doofus’). Don’t miss the bathroom’s curio cabinet (a highlight) filled with old photographs and dried coral.  We started with a glass of Montepulciano at the bar and move to our table.

We ordered a Margherita Pizza (simple enough) to split as a starter (WIN!).  These thin crust Neopolitan pizzas actually competes with NYC. For dinner, I had the fried sunchoke and potato tortellis and James had the seafood stuffed tortellini verde with prosecco, fennel and tarragon. Both were served in simple subtle butter sauces that were very good and not at all rich.  We didn’t get pictures – camera ran out of batteries – but this is certainly a place to come with friends and plan on staying a few hours enjoying good wine and food. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful culinary week.

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Filed under Appetizer, Dessert, Food Anecdotes, Pasta, Review, San Francisco, Travel Spot

San Francisco – Day 5

What a beautiful day!

First Stop

Judy’s Cafe

2268 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123-2638
(415) 922-4588

This place is a perfect stop if you are looking for on overwhelming amount of food.  It’s another Marina brunch spot so come early.  We ordered omelets (bacon, avocado, sour cream and cheddar omelet and mushroom, spinach, onion and cheddar omelet) and homefries. The omelet was outstanding but there was no way possible one could finish it.

Second Stop:

La Taqueria

2889 Mission St
(between 24th St & 25th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110

We couldn’t come to California and not eat Mexican food.  Deeply nestled well into the Mission is this well known little burrito spot.  It definitely gets hyped up – but it’s well-deserved.  The counter staff speaks to you in Spanish so either speak it back or order confidently.  We had the pork burrito with cheese and avocado and chicken tacos.  This place has a great atmosphere and I suggest lunch with a beer here.

Third Stop


3198 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3363
(415) 621-2211

Happy Birthday Ashley! We celebrated for a second night in a row with some old (and new!) friends. This place has wonderful cocktails and very good small plates.  I was so distracted by the company and celebration that I barely ate (and also forgot to take pictures). What I did eat was great and the short ribs really stood out.  We shared the following between 9 people and we were fully content:

  • Ahi Tartar Tacos with Chili and Lime, Mango Salsa

  • Trio of Tartares: Ahi Tuna Taco, Wasabi Hamachi, Salmon Poke
  • Curly Polenta Fries, Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette

  • Halibut Paillard with Cilantro, Ginger, Soy, and Hot Grapeseed Oil
  • Coca-Cola Braised Short-ribs with White Bean Salad

  • Duck Dumplings with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
  • Butternut Squash Raviolis with Sage and Butter Sauce


Filed under Appetizer, Butternut Squash, Duck, Food Anecdotes, San Francisco, Travel Spot