Talde in Park Slope, Brooklyn was a great all around meal. Talde is an original concept restaurant created and operated by Dale Talde a former contender on Bravo's Top Chef, Chicago. Talde of Phillipino decent tapped into his Asian roots to bring to the table a nuance of pan asian flavors done unconventionally, yet overwhelmingly well.
Since this restaurant opened, it has been the talk of the town, and in order to secure a table, one must arrive an hour or two before dinner time to add your name to the list. Weekends will gurantee you a minimum 2 hour wait, so you might be safer stopping by here mid-week for the unique cuisine Chef Dale and his team are preparing.
The Kung Pao Chicken Wings with peanuts and house-made buttermilk ranch were sticky and sweet and fried to perfection. Coated with the tangy sweet and spicy fingerlicking sauce that makes people coming back for more.
Caracas is located on the corner of 1st Ave and 7th street with a modest store front and a quaint dining space the size of someone's 1 bedroom NYC apartment. However the vibrant energy and magnitude of food that comes out of the tiny little kitchen is immense in its level of personality. This little Venezualan concept in the East Village is somewhat of a hidden gem, mostly known to locals, and because of it's no reservation policy, getting a table is sometimes a longer process than one wants when they're hungry, but let me assure you this arepa bar is worth the wait. Lucky for us, our timing was perfect, and we waited just a few minutes for a cozy window seat.
The quality of food and price points really can't be beat, especially in a city like Manhattan where there are an abundance of commercial chain restaurants charging extortionate amounts of money for something that resembles food, but was probably pulled out of the freezer and microwaved before it arrived at your table. A restaurant like Caracas, owned and operated by Maribel Araujo and Aristides "Gato" Barrios, is an extension of their love for food. Their passion to serve authentic Venezualan cuisine outside of their native country just goes to show how wonderful the city of NY really is! Achieving the flavor profiles they enjoyed in their homeland in a completely foreign environment was a challenge and accomplishment they did gracefully and tastefully.
*According to Wikipedia "Arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty made of corn flour or flour which can be grilled, baked, boiled, fried, steamed, etc. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Arepa is a native sort of bread made of ground maize (or flour), water, and salt which is fried into a thick bread. It can be topped or filled with meat, eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, shrimp, or fish depending on the meal. Breakfast egg or cheese are the most common arepa fillings."
**According to the restaurant an "Arepa resists definition. They are the result of a relentless dedication to homemade quality slow food. Straight from Venezuela, with New York temperament, stuffed or plain, arepas can be a snack or a meal, exotic or familiar. Their versatility is probably their only constant and the reason why in Venezuela they are at the center of every meal; from breakfast to lunch, dinner, and the occasional after party treat."
Big Gay Ice Cream, a NYC original which started out as a little ole truck which made its way around the city and is now creating an ice cream empire with 2 shops, one in the East and the other in the West Village. With menu items such as the "Salty Pimp" and "Bea Arthur", they aren't just fun to order, but actually deliver in the flavor department as well!
Rainbows and Unicorns are a plenty in this cool little dessert spot. There is limited space to stand, so for everyone's convenience and to maintain ice cream euphoria, there is a "bouncer" like character standing outside, monitoring how many people from the line are allowed inside. With a brand such as Big Gay Ice Cream, you wouldn't expect anything less from their employees, so the bouncer and all the ice cream servers alike were over the top and loving their jobs!
Angela Gaspar (a well known Photographer in NYC) and I shared this humongous order. There was so much going on with this cone, they had to actually lay it down on a tray and serve it with a spoon. No matter how it was served did not matter, it was the perfect treat with notes of sweet and salty yumminess, i am continuosly craving.
The Stanton Social on the LES of Manhattan. The place was buzzing with an electric current found in most trendy Manhattan eateries. The menu was diverse with items like Maryland Jumbo Lump Crabcake 'Corn Dogs’ and Potato & Goat Cheese Pierogies with a caramelized onions, truffle creme fraiche, I was intrigued! The mastermind Chef Chris Santos created this as a sister restaurant to Beauty and Essex, a very popular LES spot. I looked forward to the evening as 6 of my closest friends joined me in celebrating my special day.
As we had a mix of palattes at the table, we ordered a variety of dishes to suits everyones tastes. A restaurant such as this is best with large groups in order to maximize on eating capacity. The waitress was also extremely accomodating, and informed us that although most dishes were portioned out for 5 ppl, she could add in extra pieces per dish, a la cart in order to easily serve our table.
The highlights of our starter selection are pictured below, and we then realized we had ordered more than half the menu items as the evening proceeded. The baked spanakopita was done in roll form (left) with the approproate cheese to spinach proportion. The pierogies (right) were baked with a crunchy texture rather than the traditional soft and doughy form I'm used to, but worked well. The introduction of goat cheese into this traditional Eastern European delicacy was an excellent move, and the carmelized onion just brought it all together. Also pictured were the red snapper tacos with creamy avocad and spicy mango, ideally this would be one of my go to items on any menu, but next to all the bold cheesey flavors, it just couldn't match up to the rest of the items.
ABC Kitchen has always delivered each and every time I have eaten there. It features "a changing menu that is locally sourced and globally artistic in a fresh and articulate space", so what's not to love! Whether it's the farm fresh vegetables executed to perfection, or the decadently creative sweets at the end of the meal, this place knocks it out of the park every time for me.
The seasonal item of the month are *ramps, so naturally, ABC Kitchen had them featured in several different forms throughout there menu. Brought complementary to our table was this crusty sourdough bread topped with a ramp puree, goat's cheese, and carmelized onions.
*A ramp is an early spring vegetable, a perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor and a pronounced onion flavor.
La Petite Maison in Dubai.