Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival
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Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival
The first Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival of the season kicked off on Saturday, January 27 and we were there to enjoy every last drop of food a drink. Photo by Ariel Ijadoula.

Even though the winter weather is here for a little while longer, it was nice to get a taste of summer when the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival made its first stop in New York City at the Terminal in Chelsea.

The Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival happens every year in cities across the country. The festival features 60 different beers, 40 different bourbons and a lot of great barbecue.

When I walked in, I was greeted by event staff and handed a glass cup to fill up with all the beer and bourbon of my choosing. Vendors lined the walls with treats ready to be devoured and drinks ready to be guzzled.

Bulleit Rye Whisky
Bulleit Rye Whisky has been around for more than 150 years and is just one of the many bourbons featured at the festival. Photo via Trigger Agency.

 

The Food

The bourbon overflowed, the beer was brewin’ and the BBQ was smokin’. Between the bourbon. beer and BBQ, I’m not sure which I had the most of. I enjoyed the Creamed Bacon on Clam Toast at Certé, American Oak Aged Whiskey at Widow Jane and cider from the Sotheby’s. Each vendor had their own twist on American favorites.

My favorite treats of the day had to be from Kloby’s Smokehouse in Laurel, Maryland and Sands Jerk Hut. I had biscuits with a bacon, bourbon brown sugar glaze from Kloby’s and Pineapple Jerk Chicken from Sands Jerk Hut, it was so juicy and tender. I also loved these dishes because they were a nice change of pace from the bacon and beef many vendors were serving.

Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival
BBQ for days. Photo c/o Trigger Agency.

The Atmosphere

As if the vendors weren’t enough, every hour roasted pigs were brought out and carved. Each hog was sponsored by different establishments at the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival. My favorite was again from Kloby’s Smokehouse, it was the juiciest roasted pork I’ve had in a really long time. They topped it with a peppery barbecue sauce giving it a great kick.

I loved how thought out the festival was. The DJ curated a playlist that was so great. I forgot that New York still looked more like a winter wonderland outside rather than a warm beach. Luckily, I ate enough barbecue to last me until the weather breaks and cookout invitations start rolling in.

If you missed out on this years NYC Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival, don’t fret, there’s always next year! And if you can’t wait until then (and I don’t blame you–the food was that good) you’re in luck! The festival will be traveling to 12 other cities across the U.S. for the rest of the year!

Good music, all of the beer and bourbon you can drink, what more can you ask for?

Let us know if you plan on attending a Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival near you. Casandra will be at Atlanta’s festival on March 3. Don’t forget to tag your photos #YumCam and #BeerBourbonBBQ so we can share them!

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Kitchen Newbies

Kitchen Newbies
Just finding the right products before you start cooking can feel overwhelming. We’ve listed our top must buy products to take the stress out of it! Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash.

With the new year underway, a lot of us have plans to eat better and cook more, but when you’re used to going out or ordering Postmates for most of your meals, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why I’ve rounded up my eight must haves for kitchen newbies.

1. CrockPot

CrockPot
Photo by CrockPot.

CrockPots are perfect for the kitchen newbie who isn’t even sure they can turn on their stove (no judgement, I’ve been there). They’re great for whipping up low maintenance meals that can slow cook all day. Not to mention, this appliance is versatile! Use it to make game day wings, wintertime chili and summer dips. After a few uses you’ll wonder how you got by without one!

2. Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron skillets are my must buy. They cook steaks evenly giving them that perfect crust and sauté veggies in no time. Once I learned how to use my skillet and care for it properly, I was hooked. With the proper care, they will last forever. Literally.

3. Measuring Cups and Spoons

measuring cups and spoons
Photo by Bed, Bath and Beyond.

It’ll be pretty difficult to muddle through recipes without a set of these. I recommend springing for the stainless steel ones with the measurement etched in them so they won’t wear off after heavy usage.

4. Wooden Utensils

Wooden utensils are durable and impeccably crafted to keep you on task and prepared to complete your recipe in style. They also insure that your stainless steel pots and pans don’t get ruined with scratches over time.

5. Cutting Board

cutting board
Photo by Villa Acacia.

Slice through cooked meat and chop up veggies like a pro with this wooden cutting board. This one is so pretty, you’ll want to keep it out on your countertop!

6. Essential Knife Set

A common misconception is that you need an entire block of knives to cook. But that’s not the case. Most at home cooks just need this trio: a chef knife, a pairing knife and a trimmer. Toss in a pair of kitchen shears and you’re good to go.

7. Mixing Bowls

mixing bowls
Photo by Crate and Barrel.

Perfect for mixing up sauces, tossing salads and so much more! Opt for glass mixing bowls, it’ll be easier to see what’s inside and they’ll be microwave and dishwasher safe for speedy cooking and painless clean up.

8. Pots and Pans

Pots, pans, a baking sheet and utensils, this set has it all. Not to mention, it’s approved by a professional chef. If Rachel Ray can whip up a three-course meal with this set, you can handle dinner.

These kitchen utensils will have you hosting your own dinner parties in no time! What things did you buy for your first kitchen? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Healthy Lunch
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The New Year is here and everyone is trying to burn off those holiday indulgences in the gym. Not to mention all the champagne we popped to bring in 2018. It almost feels like an easy fix to commit to leg day this week and boom, all problems solved. Sure, committing to your new regimen is a start, but it’s half the battle. You know something deep down that’s the true game changer? Your eating habits.

Brussel Sprouts

So, in between googling for meal prep recipes and trying to figure out when you’ll have time to grocery shop, eat out. We’ve compiled five healthy options in New York City that are not only delicious, but keep you on track with your body goals.

Lunch

The Little Beet

DIY your way into the Little Beet and make your own protein plate to go. With a number options, made fresh, you’ll find it hard to decide what to leave with. They have locations all over the city, which makes it easy to meet up with friends who you’re trying to convince to eat clean.

135 W 50th St, New York, NY 10020, thelittlebeet.com

Atla

After a run, you won’t regret stopping into Atla. Their menu is one to brag about with flaxseed chilaquiles and their guacamole goat cheese toast. Lunch here is light and won’t have you compromising your recent workout.

372 Lafayette Street,  New York, NY 10012, atlanyc.com/

Healthy Lunch

By Chloe

By Chloe makes being vegan look like a dream. With a menu that has everything from burgers to brunch fare, you’ll definitely be in for a treat on your first visit and all the ones to follow. 

185 Bleeker St., New York, NY 10012, bychefchloe.com

Healthy restaurant

Late Night

Superiority Burger

Going out can become our enemy once hunger settles in and the food options are slim in the city. However, you can count on Superiority’s complete vegetarian menu with options for vegans too. Who doesn’t want to bite into their Mega Mouth burger at 2 a.m. and not feel bad about it on abs day?

430 E. 9th St., New York, NY, 10009, superiorityburger.com

Van Leeuwen

One of the biggest issues people face when trying to switch up their diet is experiencing a lack of flavor in their new choices. While you won’t be having ice cream all the time, when you are indulging, you’ll want to consider healthier options. Van Leeuwen is changing the game with ice cream made of organic coconut milk and house-made cashew milk, leaving the dairy out your diet. You won’t even be able to tell the difference from their vegan ice cream so might as well treat yourself.

204 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, vanleeuwenicecream.com

 

Van Leeuwen
You won’t regret this indulgence! Van Leeuwen serves vegan friendly ice cream in dozens of flavors.

Cheat day is about to start looking very different for you, but your body will thank you for it!

Honorable Mentions: Dudley’s, Nix, Sweet Green

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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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Secret Summer Aquarius
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Secret Summer NYC is doing it again. Later this month, they will host Secret Summer Aquarius. The event will take place at The Foundry, an event space in Long Island City, Queens with beautiful 19th Century architecture. The menu will include sustainable seafood, Bespoke Mixology and Artic Chic. Plus, a portion of the proceeds will benefit New York City’s sustainable fisheries and shellfish farms.

The Aquarius theme is a nod to the astrological sign Aquarius, the sign of fish and water. Secret Summer Aquarius is 4,000 square-feet of NYC’s best seafood restaurants gathered under one roof in support of farm-to-table meals and responsible seafood farming. Here are a few of the seafood purveyors, vendors and restaurants you can expect.

PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur

PAMA mixes the complex sweet and tart flavors of a pomegranate. The liqueur uses all natural pomegranate juice, premium vodka and a splash of tequila. It’s easily mixable in a range of cocktails that will always go down smooth and easy. Fruity cocktails not your thing? Blue Point Brewery, Elijah Craig Bourbon and Brugal Rum will all be at the event as well.

PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
Photo by PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur.

Wild Fish Direct 

Wild Fish Direct is all about fresh seafood. Their team works tirelessly to provide sustainable fish and shellfish to wholesalers. You will enjoy the tastiest, guilt free fish from across the nation at Secret Summer Aquarius. There’s no guessing with Wild Fish Direct, each package of seafood comes with a unique story, vessel information, landing details and catch method so customers know what they are getting. In addition to Wild Fish Direct, expect delicious eats from Mochi Ice Cream and the Billion Oyster Project.

Wild Fish Direct
Photo by Wild Fish Direct.

You’ll want to end the night with an Aquarius themed photo-booth courtesy of 4FivePhoto! Secret Summer Aquarius is Saturday, January 27. Tickets are on sale now and going fast! Enter code “FISHIES” at checkout for an exclusive discount. Let us know in the comments if we’ll see you there.

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Renaissance Interior
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Food Before Love was cordially invited to the Grand Opening party of Renaissance Harlem. As a VIP guest, we helped the restaurant, which opened its doors last year, toast to their official grand opening celebration.

The classy and suave styled restaurant is located in the heart of Harlem and absolutely stands out. The building was previously home to rapper Doug E. Fresh’s restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles. Once Chef Cisse and his co-founder and cousin Chef Cheikh Ali acquired the building, they made it their own. The interior is beautifully designed, lined with brick walls and topped with an uniquely designed ceiling. The intimate yet spacious setting provides a cozy modern eating experience.

Renaissance Interior
Photo by Renaissance Harlem.

Chef Cisse and Chef Cheikh are also the owners of Ponty Bistro, which is just a few doors down. Although born of the same minds the restaurants are polar opposites when it comes to cuisine. Chef Cisse says none of the African French cuisine of Ponty Bistro can be found in the New American menu of Renaissance Harlem. He says it was important to stay in the neighborhood because Harlem is home for him and his cousin. The Senegal born chef has called Harlem home for many years and felt it could use a place like Renaissance Harlem, which infuses the cultures and foods that make Harlem what it is.

The Food

We had the pleasure of sampling a few hors d’oeuvres and cocktails that were reflective of the local culture. To wash down the fish empanadas, Thai chicken wings, and stuffed mushrooms, the chefs served cocktails.

The cocktails were made with liquor from Tambour Original and Kaiso. Two liquor brands Renaissance highlighted during their grand opening. Tambour Original is an African Palm Liquor whose history dates back hundreds of years when West Africans were denied liquor during the European colonization. Kaiso is a potent blend of coconut water, premium vodka and tequila that brings in New York’s Caribbean culture. Renaissance is one of handful of places in NYC where both brands can be found.

Cocktail made with Kaiso.

I’m excited to head back to Renaissance Harlem to taste more of their Harlem-inspired menu. My taste buds got great vibes from this place and I think yours will too!

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