Sam’s of Gedney Way

Recently, half of FP (Kristina) turned another year wiser and we decided to celebrate by going somewhere new to both of us. Our pick was Sam’s of Gedney Way, a classic american bistro and a White Plains institution since 1932.

The dinner menu offers a variety of options, but we both went with the prix fixe in order to sample as many items as possible. To start, we had butternut squash soup and crispy calamari. The portions were healthy and both proved to be delicious ways to start our meal!

For his main dish, Allen went for the scallops, which were cooked perfectly and the mushrooms added a different flavor to the mix. Kristina had the petit filet (cooked media rare), which was accompanied by tasty sides, spinach and mashed potatoes.

We barely had room for dessert, but couldn’t leave without trying the famous Death by Chocolate. It was incredible– even Allen, who isn’t always too keen on chocolate, was a fan.

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Death by Chocolate…so good!

We’re glad we made reservations because Sam’s was packed for our early Sunday dinner. We hear Sam’s is the place to be for Sunday brunch so we’ll be sure to return in the near future.

What restaurants in your area have become local institutions? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!

Holding Court the Second Time Around

As fans of Chopped, we enjoy both the traditional (if you can call them that!) episodes featuring different chefs from established restaurants as well as the episodes that feature teenagers, mothers, fathers, cops, and firefighters. We also love seeing familiar faces in the Chopped kitchen– remember seeing Laila Ali test her culinary skills? Recently, an episode featured “amateurs” competing for a second chance at redemption. We reached out to entertainment lawyer and Chopped Champion Jackie Khanich to learn what it was like to be in the kitchen for a second time.

Entertainment Lawyer and Chopped Champion, Jackie Khanich.

Entertainment Lawyer and Chopped Champion, Jackie Khanich.

FP: How did you get your start with cooking? 

JK: My grandmother would sit me on the floor and teach me how to roll grape leaves before I could even walk.  Both my parents were huge inspirations in the kitchen.  My uncles owned Middle Eastern restaurants in Houston, New York, and Syria.

FP: What is the one item in the kitchen you can’t live without?

JK: My Kitchenaid Mixer.  I love it.  I love the attachments.  I love it!  And mine is of course pink!

FP: We (well, Kristina) couldn’t live without a Kitchenaid! Ours is cherry red.

Tell us about your experience on Chopped the second time around. What did you learn from your first experience that you tried to incorporate the second time around?

JK: Even though you may have not been able to tell, I was much more nervous the second time.  You know what to expect.  You know the intensity.  That is frightening, knowing you will be under extreme pressure.  The second time around I tried to incorporate timing techniques.  I made it a point to start plating at 5 minutes to ensure I would get every ingredient on the plate.  That was my goal.

FP: Leaving time to plate is key. We get so anxious when Ted Allen counts down!

Name three people you would like to cook in the same kitchen with and why.

JK: Alex Guarnaschelli; I think she is one of the best chefs around.  I love how passionate Guarnaschelli is about food. I also love her hashtag #growll and her passion for fresh ingredients and yumminess.

Geoffrey Zakarian is my favorite chef.  He is just magic in the kitchen.  His knowledge and repertoire of cuisine is bar none.  I love his flavor profiles and respect his Middle Eastern upbringing.

I have a huge crush on Curtis Stone.  I love his Australian accent!  He is also a great chef and super cute.

FP: We wouldn’t mind cooking in the same kitchen with those three either!

What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home for yourself?

JK: I love going Middle Eastern.  I love making a mezza of appetizers and stuffed grape leaves with lamb roast.

FP: We love stuffed grape leaves! Let us know know if you ever need help rolling them :)

When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in West Hollywood or other places you’ve visited.

FP: I LOVE Craig’s on Melrose.  Craig is an inspiration opening his restaurant after being the Matre D at Dan Tana’s.  For my molecular fix I love Ink.  Michael Voltagio’s dishes are so phenomenal and I am a huge fan! For my sushi fix I love Kura Sushi: order the butter butter roll and ninja burrito.  For high end sushi, Sushi Park is bar none.  Simply delicious. Son of a Gun is a great place to go for their famous chicken sandwich and shrimp toast.  Providence I believe is the BEST restaurant in LA but hard on the pocket book with dinner for two could be over $700. Newport Seafood Company has the best spicy lobster and fresh king crab legs.

FP: Sounds like a delicious list for sure! Good to know if we ever make it to LA/Hollywood.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name :)  

JK: Cheese.  I love cheese, from my head down to my knees.  If there is cheese in anyone’s refrigerator it will be eaten by me.  In college I always had a problem eating my roommates cheese. I would replace it of course but I am addicted. Some favorites include a french goat or brie, queso manchego, smoked gouda, and muenster.

FP: Half of FP (Kristina) has the exact same feeling about cheese!

You’re an entertainment lawyer. What are some of the similarities between being a chef and practicing law. 

JK: I think both professions  are intense and high stress jobs.  In both practices you have to work well under pressure and be able to work on your feet, able to juggle multiple tasks and remained focused throughout. I have a passion for both and want to continue to explore both my passions.

FP: If you could jump on an airplane tomorrow, which country/city/region would you visit just for its food? 

JK: Please check out my food blog www.wildonfood.com  I have traveled around the world three times in miles over the last 3 months.  My next trips include Mexico City, the Kentucky Derby, Aspen Food and Wine, and Cannes.  If you would have asked me that question before going to Japan, I would have answered Japan because I am addicted to sushi.  I just back and my sushi experiences will never be the same.

However hypothetically if I could go anywhere just for the food I would go to the Tuscan region of Italy during white truffle season.  There is something truly magical about Florence.  I love the city.  It is romantic, beautiful, and the food is incomparable.  The ingredients are so fresh and the fresh pasta is to die for.

FP: Oh yes, we need to visit Florence for sure. Kristina visited after college and would love to return. We’re wild about your blog and will continue to follow your culinary adventures!

St. Patrick’s Day on McLean Ave.

If you live in Westchester or the Bronx, you might know that McLean Ave. in Yonkers is a popular spot for a night out with food and drinks. With Irish pubs and restaurants aplenty, one can only imagine what it means to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on McLean. Last week, we went to Rory Dolan’s, a longtime neighborhood staple, to don our green and celebrate.

We knew that Rory Dolan’s would be packed but to our surprise, we were able to get a table in less than a half hour. Though we were there for dinner, it seemed like many others were just there for a pint or six.

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Most days, the menu at Rory Dolan’s features plenty of delicious options including comfort food like Shepherd’s Pie and Chef Special’s like Filet Mignon. However, we thought it was only right to celebrate St. Patrick’s with some Corned Beef & Cabbage and Dublin-style Fish & Chips. Of course, Kristina had to enjoy a pint as well.

The corned beef was cooked just right, nice and tender. Add some mustard and you get a perfect combination of flavors. The fish and chips were tasty as well, with just the right fish to batter ratio.

Next year, if you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, stop by McLean Ave. in Yonkers and we promise you’ll have a festive time. Add a visit to Rory Dolan’s for dinner and your holiday will be complete!

Rory Dolan’s
890 McLean Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704

Vegan Night Out

While we’re not vegetarian or vegan, we do enjoy our share of non-meat dinners from time to time. After Kristina’s brunch at Candle 79, we knew it would be a great spot to share with friends. Recently, we had a few friends in from out of town and enjoyed a delicious Friday night dinner at the Upper East Side establishment.

To start, we ordered seaweed salad, polenta fries, steamed dumplings and Angel’s Nachos. Each provided its own unique and delicious taste and were perfect to share with our table of 4.

For our entrees, Allen had the Seitan Piccata and Kristina had the Wild Mushroom Crepe. You might notice some familiar items– Kristina enjoyed both the polenta fries and crepe during her first visit to Candle 79.

After our meal, we were all quite full but couldn’t leave without dessert. We decided to split the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss, which was the perfect finale to the meal.

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In addition to the delicious food, our server Brandon provided great service. Have you been to Candle 79? If so, let us know what you think! We’d love to hear about other favorite vegan spots as well.

Candle 79 
154 E 79th Street
New York, NY 10075

A Taste of Chopped

Based on our interviews with winners and contestants from the show Chopped, readers know we’re big fans of the show. Like fellow viewers, we often dream about being judges on the show. Who wouldn’t want to taste the food (well, most of the food that is…)?! Recently, we visited Grano NYC in the West Village to meet Chef Maurizio Crescenzo and try the same delicious plates he created during his championship ‘Say Cheese” episode.

We started with a cheese soup that was perfect for the rainy night. The soup was rich and fondue-like, and bacon, potatoes and crispy bread provided the perfect complimentary texture.

Cheese soup with guanciale fat potatoes

Cheese soup with guanciale fat potatoes

Next up was the entree, Chicken Cacciatore with roasted garlic and cheesy mashed potatoes. The chicken was tender and cooked perfectly; it melted in our mouths! The mashed potatoes were soft, fluffy and not lumpy– just the way mashed potatoes should be prepared. On the show, judges Amanda Freitag and Alex Stupak thought the dish was a bit spicy, but we don’t mind a little kick! ;)

Chicken Cacciatore with raclette and brie mashed potatoes

Chicken Cacciatore with raclette and brie mashed potatoes

We saved room for dessert and were very glad that we did. We must agree with judge Adam Moskowitz- it was a sexy dessert indeed! With chocolate mousse, two cheeses and a white chocolate prosecco shot, what else could you ask for to finish off the meal?

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Chocolate mousse with roasted almond, orange and apple with fig spread, and white chocolate Prosecco shot

Throughout the tasting, we had the privilege of visiting with Chef Maurizio and learning more about his experiences and family. We could also sense his passion and attention to detail as he greeted everyone that came in for dinner and even mixed a few drinks for the group next to us at the bar.

If you want to taste these delicious dishes for yourself, visit the West Village and stop by Grano NYC. We’re already looking forward to our next visit!

Grano Trattoria 
21 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10014

C-CAP Recap 2015

For the last three years, we’ve always marked our calendars, cleared our schedules and looked forward to attending C-CAP’s Annual Benefit. This year’s event was especially significant as C-CAP celebrated its 25th Anniversary and honored Dick Parsons (former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner) and Executive Chef Alexander Smalls. Both are partners at Minton’s and The Cecil, popular restaurants in Harlem. With one half of FP (Kristina) enjoying the sun in Florida, the other half (Allen) trekked through the snow and enjoyed a night of delicious eats!

Here’s a sample of the many delicious items that Allen ate.

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It was great to catch up with chefs Kelvin Fernandez and Thiago Silva, both of whom have been featured on the blog. Besides tasting delicious food, it’s always great to support C-CAP’s mission of providing career opportunities in the foodservice industry to underserved youth. For more information on C-CAP, visit their website. Hope to see you at the next C-CAP event!

Brunchin’

As you know, we’re fans of brunch– well, Kristina is a big fan of brunch, and Allen is a willing accomplice. Recently, Kristina grabbed brunch with a friend and former colleague at Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown, NY.

Kristina’s Take: We haven’t fully explored the Westchester brunch scene, so Sweet Grass is one of our go-to locations. Not only do they have tasty (and bottomless!) coffee, but they also feature fresh, local ingredients. Plus, Tarrytown is a fun place to walk around when the weather is warm. On a recent trip, the Quinoa Sweet Potato Benedict hit the spot for both my friend and I– the hearty hash combined with eggs, hollandaise and avocado was both filling and delicious.

What are your favorite brunch spots, especially in Westchester County? Please let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@foodiepleasure). We’d love to check out some of your favorite spots!

Sweet Grass Grill
24 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY 10591