A sermon is something that speaks to your soul and that’s exactly what my meal at The Food Sermon did.

For my first edition of Plantains Before Love, we dined at The Food Sermon, a quaint first come first serve seating Caribbean restaurant nestled in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Upon immediate entry the restaurant was aesthetically pleasing! The simple décor and wooden benches were reminiscent of a local restaurant on a tropical island with beautiful white tiles lining the walls to add a modern twist. Through the speakers played old school calypso and classic island tunes my father would love.

Now onto the reason why we’re here…the food! The menu is build your own bowl style with the basics: a meat, rice, beans, and gravy. The meat options are lamb, jerk chicken, salmon, and tofu for the non-meat eaters. Rice options are brown and white rice. Beans are red beans and chickpeas with either a bold coconut ginger sauce or a spicy tomato sauce to complete the bowl.

For my bowl I had the jerk chicken with white rice, red beans, and spicy tomato sauce! By the time we ordered the dinner rush had started so the cashier did warn us there would be a thirty-minute wait but we are absolutely okay with that. One of my fellow Food Before Love insiders had visited The Food Sermon before and assured me it was well worth the wait.

Our meals came in a little less than the expected thirty minutes, piping hot and plated to perfection. The bowls were assembled picture perfectly just as displayed on their site.

Jerk Chicken Bowl with White Rice, Red Beans, and Tomato Sauce

After taking my picture I dug in and was immediately satisfied! The jerk chicken was actual jerk chicken and not a poor imitation that unfortunately is too common nowadays. It was made with a jerk season versus jerk sauce. So if you are not a fan of spicy foods I would suggest you stay away from it. The rice and red beans were cooked to the perfect texture, not too mushy or too hard. I did have some reservations about the tomato sauce when ordering because of the tanginess tomato sauce can sometimes have but I also wasn’t in the mood for ginger. That wasn’t a problem with this sauce. It was perfectly flavored and not too robust like a spaghetti sauce.

All of the components and their seasonings worked together to make the bowl a non typical Caribbean dining experience. The best way for me to describe my meal is hearty! The portions are also very generous. I was able to leave a great size back for lunch the next day. I asked for some extra tomato sauce to take home and the next day the meal was just as amazing as the night before.

I give The Food Sermon not only thumbs up but all ten fingers and toes up! I plan to make my way back to the restaurant in the next week. My only warning would be the spacing, I would advise going just as they open if you plan to dine in.

Until next time Foodies!

Bon Appetit!

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Tipsy Scoop is an ice cream bar-lour found in the Kips Bay neighborhood of NYC. Since we recently launched our NYC Desserts Meet Up, we thought it would be the perfect first stop for our group.  While the space is small, our crew managed to fit inside with enough seating and space to devour our boozy flights and big tipsy scoops. They have a vast selection of boozy ice cream flavors from Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel to Raspberry Limoncello, my personal favorite. Certain flavors had already sold out which was a sure sign to come by early.

With the boozy flight, you get the chance to try four different flavors if you’re a bit indecisive like we were. If you know exactly what you want, they offer also ice cream cookie sandwiches and sundaes in cake batter bowls to choose from. Tipsy Scoop also featured specials of the week that you could only get ahold of for a limited time.

Tipsy Scoop Flight - Hazelnut and Strawberry

None of the flavors we indulged in had an especially boozy aftertaste, which I personally liked because it made each flavor more enjoyable. The ice creams were great but the sorbets were even better. If you decide to get the boozy flight, I suggest you eat the ice creams first because they may melt faster than you’d imagine.

All in all, Tipsy Scoop has a great selection of flavors all for reasonable prices. If you’re looking a place to cool off after a long day or just an excuse to eat liquored ice cream, Tipsy Scoop is the place for you. The flights are also a great idea to indulge in with your food bff or a date. After all, there was enough ice cream to go around.

Tipsy Scoop Flight

If you can’t make it out to their NYC location, Tipsy Scoop delivers their boozy scoops right to your doorstep. Check out www.tipsyscoop.com for more information.

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eataly-downtown-i-ravioli

As a busy New Yorker, coming across a ravioli bar like I Ravioli at Eataly Downtown is ideal for my day-to-day. While I normally frequent their Flatiron location, I happily accepted an offer from the Eataly team to visit their second location. I had never been to Eataly Downtown so I was excited to see what was in store, literally.

Though I was guided to the bar upon arrival, I loved that there was a pathway on the floors that was leading the way. Now, you never have to worry about getting lost in the hustle and bustle of lunch since it takes you directly to where you need to go. Before approaching the bar, you get to see the chefs making the fresh pasta and the variety of options. Both chefs present on my visit seemed happy to chat about what they were making for the day, and knew plenty about each variation shown. They explained the process and how quickly it would be for me to get my meal. After the chef made a few suggestions on his favorites, I was ready to try them out for myself.

eataly-downtown-i-ravioli-station
Photo by Tanya Maithai

The menu was pretty easy to choose from and so was having a glass of Rosè while I waited. The ravioli comes stuffed and there are a number of sauces available as well so you can pick your favorite day (based by sauce) to come grab your bite to eat. It wasn’t even three sips later, when my order was already up for me to grab. It was really quicker than a New York Minute, which is perfect for someone always on the go. Should you have some time to spare, there was ample seating to enjoy.

I ordered the prosciutto stuffed ravioli with the sauce of the day which was a mushroom, arugula and beef sauce. To my surprise, I was also invited to try the Pesto Trapanese, as well as, the Carbonara sauce over a bed of ravioli. I was already enjoying the pasta I ordered but the Carbonara had come to steal the show. It was creamy, with the right amount of cheese and sauce to compliment it. I found myself digging my fork back and back again into the bowl.

eataly-downtown-i-ravioli
Photo by Tanya Maithai

The best part about the experience at I Ravioli at Eataly Downtown was that you could take ingredients home with you and recreate what you’ve had. From fresh pasta to the sauces, everything is suddenly available to you for the days you won’t have time to run in for lunch. Again, completely ideal for any ravioli lover, especially one who wants to bring the taste of Eataly, home.

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There’s nothing like discovering a hidden gem and ROKC located in NYC’s Harlem neighborhood is just that.  Wedged between a couple of local storefronts, the building’s exterior is unassuming and unless specifically looking for it, you surely could miss it walking on by. But once inside, talk about ambiance. You feel like you’ve been transported to a cool bar somewhere in Tokyo!  I couldn’t wait to experience this as the latest food adventure with my Cocktails Before Love crew.

ROKC, a Japanese bar and restaurant, is actually a clever little acronym which stands for Ramen, Oyster, Kitchen and Cocktail. The extra special treat is the creative presentation and unique preparation of the excellent cocktails. They not only taste good, but they look amazing as well!

pineapple-ROKC
Photo courtesy of Rokc nyc

Upon arrival, we chose to sit at the bar.  I actually think these are the best seats in the cozy restaurant as we were able to get the perfect view of Shige, the highly skilled mixologist, bringing all these unique drinks to life. He effortlessly prepared all the cocktails during our visit and with such attention to detail, added every house-made ingredient. It was certainly a treat to watch as he whipped up all the special concoctions. Nope, these aren’t your typical, ‘let’s meet for happy hour’ drinks. ROKC does not take reservations and can get crowded as it is a small space, so I suggest going toward the beginning of the week if you would like to secure a table or just get there early and post up at the bar like we did!

Topping Berries Frozen with sparkling wine rokc
Photo by N. Salter

The menu is quite impressive, boasting over 40 sophisticated and fun cocktails ranging from the classics to ROKC signatures, as well as a selection of beers, wines and sake. The menu doesn’t hint at what kind of container your drink will come in. So it was fun to order and then see the unexpected presentation Shige would place in front of you. It ranged from really beautiful antiques and/or elaborate glasses to some amazing looking works of art. My Lychee cocktail, for example – which consisted of lychee fruit, ginger vodka, house lychee juice and lime – was served inside a lightbulb perched on top of a pile of ice in an etched ceramic mug. The Berries frozen drink looked like an ice sculpture on a pedestal and my fellow foodie’s bourbon based drink, the Final Word – mixed with maraschino, Chartreuse and lime came in an ornate, ruby red goblet. Someone next to us had the Tomato Clam that arrived in a huge conch shell in a wooden box, while someone else’s drink was displayed in a bird’s nest within an eggshell! Every drink we sampled was amazing and well-balanced and even traditionally robust, warm liquors like bourbon and cognac which were favored by my Cocktails Before Love crew, had a nice spin and were surprisingly light, refreshing  and full of unexpected blends.

Hijiki-cocktail-rokc
Photo by N. Salter
Drinks-buns-ROKC
Photo by N. Salter

ROKC’s small plates consist of  favorites like its assortment of steamed buns and ramen bowls. The staff was very attentive and helped with our food selections. We started out with the oysters, which were $1.50 during the happy hour special. We ordered all the varieties, from the small and salty Sweet Petites to the larger and meatier Blue Points – they were tasty and fresh served with lemons, cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce. We sampled the pork bun which featured tender and flavorful chunks of pork belly; the shrimp bun which was doused in a spicy mayo and for our ramen, we opted for the Kyoto, a chicken and fish based broth, topped with pork belly, garlic, soft-boiled seasoned egg and scallions, deemed by our server as the most traditional choice. The melding of the spices in the broth was just right without being too heavy. Everything was delicious and enjoyable.

Honestly we could have sat and watched Shige create these killer cocktails and happily eat and drink for hours. You must visit ROKC!  I know I will absolutely return for a seat at the bar and explore more of the menu.

If you want to join in on our next food adventure, be sure to RSVP for an upcoming meet up.

Cheers!

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beer overhead

Because it’s National Beer Lovers Day, we know you want to celebrate the right way. Now, craft beer is becoming a lot easier to find nowadays but there’s something about a place that has an atmosphere that compliments the intricate craft beer it serves. Whether it’s a relaxing patio, a lavish rooftop or sidewalk views, there is something for all occasions and we’ve picked out the best places to enjoy that Double IPA you’ve been looking for on National Beer Lovers Day. 

Covenhoven – Brooklyn

730 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

We will start in Brooklyn at Covenhoven , a relaxing oasis filled with beer lovers, board games and good times. With 16 taps on hand and a wall length fridge of bottles and cans available for on-the-go or on site consumption, they are sure to have something for everyone. Both draft list and the fridge are carefully curated each week to ensure quality regardless of season. The staff is engaging and you are sure to make new friends here.

Top Hops – LES 

94 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Heading across the Williamsburg Bridge to LES lies a true hidden gem in Top Hops. The enormous draft list towering with 18 taps including unique information handily sets it apart from the competition. While many breweries offer information on location and alcohol content, very few, if any, will tell you the last time the beer was tapped to gauge freshness, a luxury true craft beer lovers will appreciate. Toss in free delicious bar snacks, knowledgeable staff, educational events and 600+ bottle and cans from around the world and they may just never leave.

beer-bottles
Photo by Thomas Picauly

Milk & Hops 

166 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

On the quiet side of Chelsea you’ll find Milk and Hops, a craft beer bar and bottle shop. What appears to be a coffee shop from afar actually is a pretty neat location to meet up for business or for pleasure. Taps here tend to be a bit more diverse as I’ve seen beer from as far as Florida on tap. There’s somewhat sidewalk seating available and plenty of light to relax and enjoy. 

La Birreria/Sabbia – Manhattan 

200 Fifth Avenue, Roof, New York, NY 10010

A stone’s throw away you’ll find a brewery but not just any brewery, a rooftop brewery. Residing above Eataly in Flatiron, La Birreria welcomes you with energy and smiles. The selection here stretches internationally but particularly you’ll see special Dogfish Head options that you won’t find anywhere else. Heads up, may be harder to find a seat here but it’s all worth it. Arguably one of the best places to grab a beer in the City, La Birreria is a must amongst beer lovers. 

beer overhead

Singlecut – Queens

19-33 37th St, Astoria, NY 11105

Rounding out the tour we head out to Queens. Yes Queens, specifically Astoria. Grab your beer loving buddies and get away from the City for a bit. Here there are 12 taps with outstanding range of craft beers brewed just behind the main wall. This isn’t an onslaught of IPAs and Pale Ales either, there are sours and Belgian style Ales as well. The tasting room is spacious enough to stretch out a bit, again, this isn’t the City. The “trek” is worth it. 

 

Honorable Mentions: 

Five Boroughs Brewing in Sunset Park 

The Wilky in Bedford Stuyvesant 

Gun Hill Tavern – The Bronx 

This post was brought to you by Black x Crafty. Barry Greene is the founder of Black x Crafty, a movement centered around increasing attention to black owned breweries and craft beer consumers. Bridging the gap, one beer at a time. 

Wish You Were Beer Pin

If you’re looking for a way to be unapologetic about your love for beer, this is certainly the way to do it.  .

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Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.
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Who does not like a mimosa? Who does not enjoy some sangria? Those delicious beverages combined with tasty bites made brunch at Bulla (pronounced boo-yah) simply delightful. I invited some really interesting Miami residents to join me for a Spanish influenced Mini Mimosaholic Sunday brunch at Bulla, 2500 Ponce De Leon Blvd in Coral Gables. Bulla has an expansive brunch tasting menu with yummy bites plated for family style sharing.

As a group, we decided to take advantage of the Miami Spice brunch menu that Bulla was offering. Miami Spice occurs annually in Miami during the months of August and September where over 200 restaurants offer pre-fixed menus for brunch, lunch, and/or dinner. Each menu typically features three courses – an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. A delightful addition to Bulla’s brunch was the option to have unlimited mimosas or sangria. My Mimosaholic crew gladly opted to partake in the unlimited mimosas – with a twist of sangria’s.

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Photo by Simone Bradshaw

The service at Bulla was great. The manager introduced herself to our table and made herself available for whatever we needed. Fortunately, we did not want for much because our waiter was very attentive. The bussers came around and made sure that our table was clear of any glasses and plates that were not being used. All service was rendered with a smile, making our experience that much more pleasant.

Each person ordered about three items from Bulla’s Miami Spice menu, and we shared family style as intended. We had: Huevos ‘Bulla,’ Revuelto ‘Lucio’ (my personal favorite of the egg dishes), Coca, Melon Con Bellota, Montaditos De Salmon Ahumadon which was the smoked salmon dish that was kindly substituted for the salmon dish that I originally ordered because its popularity caused them to run out, Ensalada De Pulpa, Bulla Burger, Cochinillo Hash.

Melon Con Bellota. Photo by Simone Bradshaw.
Photo by Victoria Bartley.
Cochinillo Hash. Photo by Simone Bradshaw.
Photo by Simone Bradshaw.

We ended our meals on a sweet note with Blueberry and Ricotta Pancakes, and French Toast. If you could not tell…we feasted!

Blueberry & Ricotta Pancakes. Photo by Simone Bradshaw.
Photo by Simone Bradshaw.

French Toast. Photo by Victoria Bartley.

The plating was exquisite. The flavors were perfect. The mimosas were a perfect balance of champagne with a hint of orange juice. The sangria’s were a fruity blend of deliciousness. Bulla was a great introduction of Mini Mimosaholic to Miami and I cannot wait for the next one!

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