On February 5, Royal Wine hosted its Annual Kosher Wine and Food Experience. In its twelfth year, this event is in response to the demand of the kosher food and beverage world. It’s also proof that demand for kosher food is growing. The word “kosher” refers to preparation that satisfies the requirements of Jewish law. This event was perfectly timed for preparation for Passover, which will be March 30th – April 7th this year.

Hundreds of food and wine vendors gathered ready to show off their finest fare. This experience showcased a vast variety of options from sushi and Asian cuisine to sandwiches, jerky and barbecue.Over 2,500 hungry guests attended this highly anticipated event.

The Food

Image courtesy of the Kosher Food and Wine Experience.

 

Guests gawked and gathered at tables and raved about all of the delicious options. Among the favorites were the lamb belly and orange ginger sauce from T Fusion Steakhouse and the meatballs from Judd’s Memphis Kitchen. Abigael’s also proved to be among the most well-known in the room. These vendors showcased the finest cuts of meats, including bison, lamb and duck, just to name a few.

The experience had an entire area dedicated to desserts. I enjoyed The Nuttery nut bar and Sesame donuts. Urban Pops NY was a crowd favorite. Urban Pops had a variety of flavors. Their table also had several dips and toppings. 

Urban Pops NYC
Photo by Urban Pops NYC.

The Drinks

Image courtesy of the Kosher Food and Wine Experience

Guests were also invited to indulge in over 700 wines and spirits, ranging from $6 to $500. LVOV Vodka was an exciting feature at this year’s event as well. Distilled from beets, the vodka was presented in a refreshing cocktail. Other noteworthy beverage appearances included a tequila made from wild agave and wines from Chateau Remo, a new boutique winery from Israel’s Galilee.

Whether you were in search of a caterer for your next event, dining and takeout options or even to do it yourself at home, this experience offered something for everyone. They even did demonstrations and passed out Passover cookbooks as takeaways. This experience, from the vendors showcased and the variety of options offered to the number of guests in attendance is likely to continue to expand in years to come.

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You may have heard of Galentine’s Day, but do you know how it all started? (Confession: I didn’t.) On a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, declared February 13th Galentine’s Day – a day for women to celebrate their girlfriends. “Ladies celebrating ladies” as she states in the episode.

Photo by Tim Zänkert on Unsplash

So what’s a girl to do on Galentine’s Day? Get your gals together of course! And if you’re wondering, this is not a single ladies holiday. All gal pals are welcome – single, married, taken, committed, whatever!

If this is your first Galentine’s Day, we’re here to help you make it the best one ever!

Start at Home

Hosting a get together at your house is great if you’re looking for a lowkey celebration with just you and your closest girlfriends.

Photo by The 125 Collection.

Set the Mood 

We’re going for fun and sexy, with some sister love for your girls sprinkled all throughout the night. We all know that candles do the trick and for this special occasion the “Good Vibes Only” candle from The 125 Collection, “Excite” from Crown Candle Company,“Josephine” from Harlem Candle Company, or “Joy” from LIT BKLYN will be perfect.

Create a Poppin’ Playlist

If this party is supposed to celebrate your awesome gal pals, you’re gonna need good music to set the mood. We’re talking feel good, dance party, nostalgic, sing along, girl anthem vibes. This list needs to include everything from the theme songs to some of our favorite girlfriend shows like Living Single, Girlfriends and Golden Girls to our current day favorites. Here are a few of our suggestions to get you started:

  1. Not Tonight (Ladies Night) – Angie Martinez, Lil’ Kim, Left Eye Missy Elliott, Da Brat
  2. Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink
  3. What About Your Friends – TLC
  4. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
  5. I’m Every Woman – Whitney Houston
  6. Golden – Jill Scott
  7. Grown Woman – Beyonce
  8. Feeling Myself – Nicki Minaj and Beyonce
  9. Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu
  10. Milkshake (or Bossy) – Kelis
  11. Cheers (Drink to That) – Rihanna
  12. Girl – Destiny’s Child

What songs are topping your playlist for Galentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Welcome Home on Unsplash.

Don’t Forget the Dirty Details

A good theme and on point decor are a must. Stores likes Party City and Ricky’s offer perfect accessories for nights just like this. Check out their ladies’ night and bachelorette party items for wine and shot glasses with fun messages, boas, pins, crowns and whatever tickles your fancy. You can even go the extra mile by customizing each person’s cup or place setting with a fun nickname or superlative like “most likely to be the first one dancing on the couch.”

Do it for the Gram

Not only can decor set the mood, but you use it as props for photos too. You can also get a polaroid camera for instant pics that you can use for collages; and if you really want to take it over the top, go ahead and make a Snapchat geotag and a hashtag specific for you and your girls.

Get it Poppin’

Champagne jello shots – are fun and easy recipe perfect for a night like this, New Years Eve and pretty much any occasion; and if you’re feeling frisky, sprinkle Pop Rocks on top right before serving for some extra pop.

Let Them Cater to You

For food, you’ll want a spread of little bites that you can grab and go while still having fun. Think chicken satay, Swedish meatballs, spring rolls and chocolate covered strawberries of course. Treat yourself and your girls to an easy night by hiring one of our favorite chefs, like She Caters and Chef Lucky or through a service like Eat In Chef. You all can also tackle these recipes together, do it potluck style, grab some easy to make options at the supermarket, or order takeout.

Get the Party Started

There’s a lot you and your girl can do to turn up, here are a few suggestions:

  • Karaoke (you can even use the playlist above)
  • Self-care slumber party – hair treatments, face masks, oils and nails
  • Story swap using prompts in a bowl like – worse date, best date 
  • Movie night – you know the one you a d your girls know every word to
  • Share the sister love – share what you love about each other – even if it feels cheesy, you’ll all glow after
  • Give gifts – like the “Brunch Queen” clutch from Food Before Love  or a bold new lipstick like Curlfriend from The Lip Bar

Take it to the Streets

Sometimes, you just need to go out and let loose. If you’re planning a night out, use some of the ideas above for a fun pregame. Then, plan one of these activities for a night out on the town.

  • Get your sexy on at a pole dancer class
  • Celebrate yourself and other beautiful women at a burlesque show
  • Dance the night away wherever your favorite DJ is spinning
  • Go to your favorite spot and play Truth or Dare. Maybe some of you will end up with a new valentine for the next day. 😉

No matter what you do, as long as you’re surrounded by your favorite people, it will be a night to remember. In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, “maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”

Happy Galentine’s Day y’all!

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NYC Restaurant Week
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Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

It’s that time of year again. It’s NYC Restaurant Week!

Twice a year, some of NYC’s most popular restaurants offer a specially priced menu: a 3-course meal for just $29 for lunch or $42 for dinner per person, plus beverages, tax and tip. It all started as a true week in 1992. NYC Restaurant Week has since expanded into a three-week opportunity to indulge in the finer things. This year’s dates are January 22 to February 9. With almost 400 restaurants participating, the options can be overwhelming. We’re always here to give you the rundown of our favorite spots. So, here are mine.

 

Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

A few quick tips:

  • The great thing about the NYC Restaurant Week site is that you can search by type of cuisine and neighborhood to customize your search to your cravings.
  • If you’re like me, you might have a list of restaurants you’ve always wanted to try. See if any of those places are offering a Restaurant Week menu. Or ask your friends what places they have tried or have wanted to try.
  • If a place has multiple locations, confirm that the one you’re going to is offering the Restaurant Week menu; and when it is offered – some locations offer dinner only, while some offer on Sundays as well.
  • You can view the menu on the site to help with your decisions.
  • Make a reservation! I’d also recommend going earlier in the week to beat the crowd.
  • Try something new for at least one of the courses. This is the perfect opportunity for a culinary adventure.

Now that you’re equipped with the basics, here are my recommendations NYC’s 2018 Restaurant Week:

The Cecil (Dinner Only)
210 W 118th St., New York, NY 10026

Steakhouse, Harlem

Why I’m Recommending It: Because it’s in Harlem, duh! The Cecil recently reopened with a new swag. I’m curious about what they’re serving up these days.

What’s Calling My Name on the Menu: Ella & Louie Chicken. I can almost taste that white wine caper sauce and I want to know what it tastes like in real life.

Bonus: Other Uptown options include the ever popular Red Rooster or check out Sofrito on the Hudson.

Calle Ocho (Dinner Only)
45 W 8st St., New York, NY 10024

Cuban, Upper West Side

Why I’m Recommending It: Cuba has been such a popular destination. This is a great one for those who want a reminder of the food, the culture and the memories and also for those who haven’t gone and want to take their taste buds on a trip.

What’s Calling My Name on the Menu: Crema de Langosta (Lobster Biqsue)

Bonus: You may also want to indulge in Brazil’s Carnival season at Fogo de Chao Churrscaria Brazilian Steakhouse or experience Indian food and culture at Junoon or Tamarind.

The View
1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036

American, Times Square

Why I’m Recommending It: Because it is one of those cool NYC experiences – a rotating restaurant on the 48th Floor of the Marriott Marquis right in the heart of Times Square. Whether you are new to the city or have lived here for years, it’s a way to view of the city from a different perspective. This experience will add two points to your NYC swag.

What’s Calling My Name on the Menu: Citrus Horseradish Cod with Creamy Parsley Risotto – which sounds like so many strong flavors that I can’t even imagine how they all come together. I feel like I have to try it to truly understand and appreciate it.

Bonus: You can have dinner where many of the Real Housewives reunions are filmed at the NYC classic Russian Tea Room.

La Loteria (brunch, lunch and dinner)
29 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

Latin American, West Village

Why I’m Recommending It: Because brunch is life!

What’s Calling My Name on the Menu: Tacos de Fideo (spaghetti tacos) with tomato jalapeno cumin paste, avocado, cotija cheese AND the Churros for dessert.

Bonus: Other brunch options include Vinateria and David Burke Kitchen.

Legasea (Lunch, Sunday dinner)
485 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018

Seafood, Midtown

Why I’m Recommending It: Because it’s new.

What’s Calling My Name on the Menu: Even though they don’t have their Restaurant Week menu online, their regular menu made my mouth water. I’d be willing to go sight unseen and call it a wildcard adventure.

Bonus: Other (relatively) new kids on the block: Megu and Vandal  

Honorable Mentions:

Some of the popular favorites: Dos Caminos, Rosa Mexicano

NYC trendy hotspots: ABC Cocina, Catch, TAO, Zengo, Nobu, Zuma

Steakhouses: Morton’s, Smith & Wollensky, Michael Jordan The Steakhouse, STK Downtown, Capital Grille

Share your pics! Tag us @foodbeforelove and use the hashtag #yumcam so we can repost them. Our #yumcam can also help you decide where to go!

Do you have a place you’ve tried and would recommend? What restaurants are on your list? Let us know in the comments below! 

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NYC Restaurant week 2017 summer
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Since its inception in 1992, NYC Restaurant Week has now expanded to four weeks of a financially friendly opportunity to explore and try restaurants you may otherwise feel out of your reach. With 390 restaurants participating, the options can seem a bit overwhelming. If you have no idea where to go, we want to help you make your choice during these last days. Note: NYC Restaurant Week ends tomorrow, Friday, August 18th. So make your reservations now!

So “how does this work?” you may be askingDuring NYC Restaurant Week, you can indulge in a 3-course prix-fixe meal, which will cost you $29 for lunch and $42 dinner (plus the cost of beverages, tax and gratuity). This menu is offered Monday – Friday and on Sundays at some locations. You can find out which restaurants are participating and explore the menus they are offering here.

NYC Restaurant week 2017 summer

To give you a taste of what to expect and to help you narrow your options, here is what a few of our hungry friends had to say:

Danielle, @DaniDares (Food Before Love Insider)

Where to go:

The Clocktower (Flatiron) (lunch)

What to order:

Appetizer: Shellfish linguini, lemongrass, king crab, lobster bisque

Entree: 36 Hour braised Pork Belly, crispy polenta, roasted apricots, golden thyme

Dessert: Peach Eton mess, almond whipped cream, vanilla meringue

Beverage: Gruner Ventliner

Favorite details of the experience: The entire experience was decadent. The walls are adorned with images of classic icons. It felt as if we were in someone’s home that was hosting us for lunch or the perfect setting for a game of clue. The bisque was fulfilling yet not heavy, and the pork belly melted in my mouth with such a succulent flavor.

Branzino

Name: Jessica, @Jessbcause721

Where to go:

Schilling Restaurant and Bar (FiDi) (lunch)

What to order:

Appetizer: Chicken liver crostini with shallot marmalade, house pickles and dijon

Entree: Branzino w/ a black garlic broth, root vegetable fricasse and charred broccoli florets

Dessert: Tiramisu

Beverage: Traditional Austrian beer Hefeweizen

Favorite details of the experience:

I absolutely loved the chicken liver crostini! It was super rich and the sweetness of the shallot marmalade just literally melted in your mouth. I would go back just to have that. I also loved that the broth with the branzino was spicy. The branzino was tender and flaky, there is so much you can do with fish so I enjoyed that they kept the broth light and flavorful and kept the branzino as the star.I would give the food a 4, that tiramisu was heaven in a shot glass.

Ambiance of the restaurant is very farm to table as the location is an industrial converted garage with wooded accents, glowing string lights and plush pillow lined benches.  The door was pulled all the way up so we had a nice floating breeze. I adore restaurants like this that kind of invite the hum of the city in while you dine. You can always feel connected to the world around you..

Great for dates or just catching up with friends. The waitstaff was extremely friendly and were more than accommodating when my boyfriend and I wanted to sample a few of the beers before deciding. Service is definitely a 5. All in all I would love to go back, as I said before its cozy, I had a great time and the food was AMAZING!

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Haley & Sarah, @twotastebuds_nyc

Where to go:

Sant Ambroeus (West Village)

What to order:

Appetizer: Battuta Di Manzo (Steak tartare)

Entree: Tagliatelle alla Bolognese

Dessert: Gelato & Sorbet

Beverage(s): Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon “La Contessa” 2015

Favorite details of the experience: The tagliatelle alla Bolognese was one of the best pasta dishes I have had in NYC and our waitress let us have a wine tasting while deciding which we wanted!

Where have you gone for NYC Restaurant Week? Let us know all about it in the comments below or tag us @FoodBeforeLove on instagram!

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Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Mullanes

Who knew that macaroni and cheese could be the topic for such a great debate? One that we would settle once and for all at Mullanes. For a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and palettes, there was a variety of preferences. At our first monthly #MacAndCheeseBeforeLove NYC Meetup, we gathered at Mullane’s in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to bond over their love of mac and cheese.

Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

From the beginning, we discovered who the purists were, those who preferred a classic and simple macaroni and cheese and have yet to venture out to any variations, and identified the more adventurous ones, who liked a variety of additions to their mac and cheese, from protein like chicken, shrimp and lobster to vegetables like tomatoes, spinach and jalapeno peppers. From the discussion, we realized just how many ways mac and cheese can be prepared and and which were among the group favorites, from cheese options to crunch and stovetop versus baked.

Calamari and Wings Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

After identifying that some of our favorites came from places including Max Brenner, Brooklyn Bazaar and Pret a Manger, we worked up enough of an appetite to order mac and cheese and beyond. To offer a variety that would satisfy everyone’s cravings, we went for a plain mac and cheese, one with chicken, one with shrimp and one with buffalo chicken and jalapenos for those who dared to try, and a few extra goodies: sesame ginger wings and calamari.

Sangria Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

It was a pleasant surprise that the purists braved to try the other options at Mullanes and enjoyed them. Although everyone didn’t love the buffalo chicken option, it was a hit amongst a select few. The wings were so nice we had to order them twice, and the calamari was a crowd pleaser as well. Sangria was a popular choice that didn’t disappoint, even for the woman who considers herself a sangria snob, so that’s saying a lot.

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

From travel to NYC neighborhoods, the conversation was rich and the connections were genuine. This casual gathering at Mullanes was a success, and we are looking forward to our next outing. We’d love you to join us. Come on over to our meetup to know when we we’ll be doing mac and cheese again and some of our other outings, like #cocktailsbeforelove, #burgersbeforelove and whatever else our hearts and bellies desire.

So we’d love to know!

  • How do you like your mac and cheese?
  • Where are your favorite places to indulge in delicious mac?

*Thank you Alissa Nichole for snapping such great shots.

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Diane-Kochilas-Rice-up
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Whether you are familiar with Greek culture and Mediterranean cuisine or not, this is something you can appreciate. Allow us to give you a little taste of something new with an experience provided by Chef Diane Kochilas.

Nestled in the intimate tasting room Sopra above Amali, a Mediterranean restaurant, celebrity chef and cookbook author Diane Kochilas hosted a cooking demonstration of RiceUp risotto.

The room buzzed with a mixture of Greek and English greetings and chattering, and liveliness filled the room as wine flowed and tasty appetizers were passed to whet guests’ palettes.

In between greeting guests, Chef Diane patiently stirred the pot, which sent the aroma floating through the room and built the anticipation for the main event. Before serving Chef Diane and other distinguished guests share the importance of this product.

Diane-Kochilas-Rice-up

Having been such a staple in the home as well as for special occasions for many families, rice is an important part of a meal and a culture. What RiceUp has created is important because it shares piece of that on a commercial level. They have created a high quality product that honors the authenticity of Greek tradition and brings it together harmoniously with the convenience of the American lifestyle, without a compromise in flavor.. This product makes this special experience accessible to more people, specifically those who identify as Greek American.

Chef Diane served the lemon risotto which was simple and rich in flavor – creamy with an ever so slight citrus zest. There was also a sweet and spicy risotto, which was embellished with cinnamon, pistachios and raisins. She shared about how she likes to experiment with garnishes and watch how the dishes can evolve. She shared her love for food and her culture with each plate.

Though Chef Diane’s risotto had her special touch, RiceUp boasts to be easy to create at home. With recipes and samples given in the gift bags, guests were equipped with the perfect meal: simple, quick and delicious.

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