Sunday, October 12, 2008

There's a Grasshopper in my Taco. Toloache

Toloache (toh-lo-AH-tchay) 251 W. 50th Street (bet. 8th and B'way Aves.)

When you walk into this midtown eatery, you quickly realize this is not your ordinary Theater District fare. The atmosphere is comfortable and inviting, as are the wonderful smells enticing your olfactory senses to sit and stay awhile. The décor invokes a small artisan town with hand-painted tiles and elegant silver lanterns. The bar boasts over a hundred types of tequila 
and makes exciting and interesting mojitos, like mango, and creative cocktails, like the Kumquat. After ordering a margarita, sangria or other drink of choice, the time comes to move onto the menu which feels like a tour through Mexico, with an inventive worldly spin. The guacamole trio is a must, which is a sampling of the house guacamoles; one traditional, one spicy with chipotle peppers, and one sweet with pomegranate seeds, peaches and Thai basil. Some may be skeptical of pomegranate seeds and avocado, but it is an excellent and unexpected combo. After so many delectable starters, I like to stick to the tacos for my entree. Toloache has a large selection to accommodate most tastes, from lobster to the Oaxacan favorite, dried grasshopper. My usual is the Negra Modelo-braised brisket with tomatillo salsa and horseradish cream, a great dish any day of the week. I don't normally gravitate toward tilapia on any menu, but the Baja-style tilapia tacos with spicy jicama slaw and guacamole proved too tempting. When I tell you they were some of the best fish tacos I have had, I am being modest. The fish was tender and the slaw was flavorful, coming together to make the perfect fish taco. With friends at my side, we rounded this meal out with a side of cactus fries and rice & beans with sweet plantains (all delicious). The cactus, dusted in blue corn meal and deep fried, is something you don't see too often which makes it an even more interesting and delicious accompaniment. Being from Texas, Mexican food, whether it is Tex-Mex or authentic, is my favorite cuisine. I am going to go out on a limb and say Toloache served me the BEST Mexican food I have ever had. Chef Julian Medina has successfully married his Mexican heritage and French culinary technique into a great restaurant with big flavors.

Visit the website at:

Written by Jeremy Hargrove

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Where the Chefs Eat!

Wanna find New York restaurants with the tastiest food, best service and beautiful atmosphere? Ask a Chef...

Chef Candy Argondizza

Favorite NY Restaurant: For Italian - my house or Novita

Your Favorite Menu item: Veal Milanese with a side of cappellini pomodoro

Why do you love it? Impeccable service, quality, tasty food, and great value for the money


Chef Dave Arnold

Favorite NY Restaurants: WD-50Jean GeorgesSsam Bar and Taylor
Favorite Menu Items: At WD-50, Jean Georges, and Taylor, always get their tasting menu because the chefs include what they think is their best culinary creation. At Ssam Bar get their pork buns, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS GET DESSERT WHERE EVER YOU GO!!
Why do you love them?1. WD-50 always has something new and surprising on the menu. They made a puff beef tenderloin, so instead of pork rinds you have puff beef tenderloin! 
 2. Of all the top, upper echelon restaurants, 
Jean Georges is the fun one! They're an old school 4 star restaurant. The food is always consistently good and the desserts from pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini are amazing.
 3. At 
Ssam Bar there are no reservations and they are known for their juicy pork buns.
Taylor is a restaurant created by a pastry chef who masters sweet and savory. The drinks and food are innovative. They just created an awesome new menu.


Chef Marc Pavlovic

Favorite NY Restaurant: Marlow and Son in Brooklyn

Your Favorite Menu Item: Savory - Specials everyday, no favorite dishes …they're all good

Sweet - Pickled Cherry with Mascarpone

Why Do you Love it? They use all local farmers' products and the service is very laid back but very sharp….great music selection


Chef Pascal Beric

Favorite NY Restaurant: Daniel, 60 East 60th

Your Favorite Menu item: Savory: Charcuterie platter. “Gruyere, proscuito, ham and anything from the pig really” 

Sweet: For a delicious and sinful dessert, Nutella Cups

Why do you love it? It is extremely elegant and classic French Cuisine.


Chef Ray Dawson

Favorite NY Restaurant: Asia De Cuba

Your Favorite Menu item: The Pork Belly, and the Avocado Rice

Why do you love it? The vibe in the place is amazing and the staff is great.  The food is interesting and consistent and is always a good meal.


Chef Tim Shaw

Favorite NY Restaurant: Wallse in the West Village

Your Favorite Menu item: Austrian pheasant strudel, rabbit stew, goulash, and/or schnitzel, with a great dessert wine and a decent cheese tray to finish. “I pretty much have the Morbier and a dessert wine every time I am there.”

Why do you love it? “I love it because every meal I have eaten there has been note perfect - its all Austrian, so I have had a pheasant strudel, a rabbit stew, goulash, schnitzel, and they have all been flavorful, filling yet not overly fussy.  The service is impeccable, and the wine list is all-Austrian and features some great choices”  

Chef Wanda Centeno

Favorite NY Restaurant: Per se
Your Favorite Menu item: An amuse bouche of salmon and tuna tartare cornets with onion creme fraiche.
Why do you love it? The sabayon of pearl tapioca with malpeque oysters was exquisite bliss on the palate.

Chef Xavier Mayonove

Favorite NY Restaurant: Terrace in the Sky, Manhattan

Your Favorite Menu Items: Braised pork belly, Rack of lamb Provencale, and Port poached foie gras

Why Do you Love it? The dishes are well executed for flavors, seasoning, presentation, and ingredients. Some look like I’m home in France. Jason Potanovich is related to a new line of young chefs not afraid to cook dishes with a modern look & taste. It’s elegant, romantic and the view of Manhattan is fantastic.


Written by FCI Chefs and edited by the Eat Life Team

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Can a Vegetarian Love a Meat-Eater?

Dear Foodie:

I eat meat and I met a woman who I really liked (still do). Her name is K!*@+#! and she is a vegetarian. I didn’t have an issue with her eating choices but after falling for her seven months later, she breaks up with me because she can’t take my diet. Is it me or are relationships doomed for vegetarians and non-vegetarians? Should I have stopped eating meat for love?


Meat versus Love

Dear M.V.L

Relationships are not doomed for vegetarians and carnivores. That’s like saying a Buddhist and Christian, or a Democrat and Republican can't be together - look at Arnold and Maria. There are many companions with those dynamics, and it proves couples can have different lifestyles and maintain healthy relationships. So perhaps she’s just not that into you. Not to be harsh, but it’s better to know you can be a meat-eating Buddhist republican and be with a vegetarian Christian democrat than to change those things for someone who doesn’t really like you anyway. 

If you’re fortunate enough to be with someone who gives you that intangible unexplainable spark, food preferences can’t destroy it. So don’t give up on your quest for love or your burger. Good Luck!

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2 Love Affairs: Julia Child

Read Julia Part 1 here

Julia (Part 2)
Paul was a well-traveled OSS cartographer, an artist, and poet who spoke fluent French. In addition to Paul’s laudable credentials, he was a black belt in Judo to boot. But Julia was not impressed. She wrote in her diary “He has an unbecoming nose, and light hair which is not on top.” Paul’s feelings were mutual. He wrote to his brother “She’s an extremely sloppy thinker” and “wildly emotional”. Soon, however, the two once reluctant co-workers would become close. Julia and Paul decided to travel across the country over a summer with bottles of whisky, martinis and
gin. They married that September. Happy yet bandaged from a car accident, Julia became Mrs. Child in the fall of 1946. Then, on a trip to Paris Paul introduced her to La Couronne, an old French restaurant, and a second love affair began, this time with food.

The French Connection
Over the years Paul refined Julia. He attracted her curious mind to poetry, art, and La Couronne, the French restaurant that would spark her true passion. It was at La Couronne where she had tender fish with rich Normandy butter. The waiter meticulously, de-boned the fish in front of her, pouring the luxurious sauce on top, and paired it with the perfect wine; French dining was a celebration of food. Julia stated, “It was love at first bite”. She desired to learn more. After Paul and Julia settled in Paris, she enrolled in the renowned, Cordon Bleu. She worked with G.I.s instead of housewives, and was almost denied her certificate of completion by the director of the school, Madame Broussard.

“They wanted put me in a class with a bunch of house wives, and I didn’t like that… working with a bunch of house wives.” - Julia Child
As an enthusiastic and opinionated pupil and driven by the directors disdain for her cooking; Julia was determined to prove her skill. While she grew as a student she met and partnered with Simca Beck. A strong-minded taskmaster, Simca was writing a cookbook with her contemporary Louisette Bertholle. They needed an American contributor for the book and Julia fit in perfectly. Simca and Louisette wanted a basic cookbook but Julia wished to make a book that told everyday housewives how to master French cooking, step by step. For almost 10 years Julia dedicated herself to the cookbook. 500 pages later, meticulously detailing poultry and stock, was Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. The manuscript was submitted for publishing and rejected. The publishing company didn’t think it was suited for an American audience. Julia went back to work, editing and re-testing recipes. She again collaborated with Simca and after 2 years of revisions, they agreed that the book was ready to be resubmitted. They were wrong and the book was denied again. Not until it was read by a new publisher Alferd Knoph and Judith Jones was the book published in 1961.

Soon after the book's success, Julia found herself in front of a camera on the television show called “I've Been Reading” in her new town of Cambridge, Mass. The producers of the show couldn’t have cared less about food and made this apparent to Julia. With a whisk and hot plate in hand, Julia paid no mind to the pessimism. She was determined to show America how to make a French omelet. After the show aired, letters from viewers poured in. The station took notice and “The French Chef” starring Julia Child was born along with her television career with Paul by her side as her cohort. (The Finale in the next Issue of Eat Life)

Written by Brandon Johnson
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The Markets: No Bailout Necessary

From moist brownies to fresh banana bread, these New York food markets need no bailout. We have the best of the outdoor and indoor markets in the big apple.

New York’s Greenmarket is a “food meets art” open-air market which showcases great foods, wine tastings and art displays in New York. This market fuses SoHo’s art district with New York’s unmatched food quality at various times and locations in the cities most stylish destinations, like Union Square, most notably. Popular chefs
come to this market to buy food for their restaurants, while the locals come grab fare for the week, and pick up some photography, bracelets or paintings. With local wineries such as Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars in Hammondsport, the wine tastings are unique with refreshing apple peach wines and pear champagnes. The fresh breads of banana and apple from Hawthorne Valley Farms exude smells of caramelized granny smiths and sautéed sweet banana. Fantasy Fruit Farm brings in delicate "small" fruits like tristar-variety strawberries and purple "royalty" raspberries that are impossible to pass up. Long before the shelves of Whole Foods offered grass-fed meats and wild fish, farmers from 3-Corner Field Farm, New York Beef Company, and Blue Moon Fish were bringing it here. And if the sights and smells aren’t enough, fragrant exotic flowers are also available. Greenmarket is unmatched in its neighborhood feel, promoting "regional agriculture and ensuring a continuing supply of fresh, local produce for New Yorkers." The Council on the Environment of NYC (CENYC), a non-profit organization, has organized and managed open-air farmers markets in NYC since 1976. This market is unique in that it pulls in New York’s young city chic, the Park Avenue elite, contemporary artists, and celebrity chefs, and if you’ve visited, you know why.

While the Greenmarket is only available certain days and easier to enjoy in the better weather, Chelsea Market offers daily shopping in the safety of a warehouse. With many little specialty stores and bakeries, the Market is rounded out with equally impressive grocers. Buon Italia houses specialty Italian goods, including fresh mozzerella and sausages made in house on a daily basis. Looking for canned tomatoes straight from San Marzano or creamy gelato from Roma? Stop in and pick from a wide array of Italian vendors. You could shop for olive oil for a lifetime and not buy the same kind twice. The food display out front is loaded with pastas and proteins to feed any hearty appetite. Past Buon Italia is the famed Lobster Place featuring the freshest fish the city has to offer with a knowledgeable and helpful staff. In addition to the catch of the day they offer great lunch options of sushi or seafood bisques. The lobster bisque in an Amy's Bread bread bowl may just be the best cold-weather lunch one can find. With a shopping bag full of fresh pasta, bread and fish, Manhattan Fruit Exchange is a suitable last stop on the markets of the Market tour. This refrigerated box toward the back is where happy produce comes to find good homes on healthy plates. The lack of decor and cash-only policy keep prices at the lowest in the city for vegetables, fruits, potatoes, mushrooms, herbs, cheeses, and more. Of course the salad bar in the middle also makes the perfect choice for a healthy meal. We can't forget Chelsea Thai, which offers specialty goods for harder to find ingredients and Ronnybrook Dairy with the freshest of milk products, also amongst the shops of Chelsea Market. For all these reasons, it is easy to see why the Food Network is housed in a building as fully loaded as this one and why it is flooded with appreciative customers every day.

Whether it’s Union Square in the summer and Chelsea in the winter, both markets offer the best local and fresh food New York has to offer.

Written By Andrea Scalici and Brandon Johnson

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Macrobiotic Diet Simplified: The Key to Life

In today’s over processed, under nourished, one-step, two-bite, quick and easy food world, it’s no wonder something like the Macrobiotic Diet seems strange and complicated. But the truth of the matter is that it’s the root of eating.

The term comes from Greek, "macro" meaning "large"
or "long", and "bios" meaning "life", and was first coined by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. The diet as we know it today comes philosopher-writer George Ohsawa who adopted the term and drew from Chinese and Japanese folk medicine to create his version of this traditional philosophy of health. His teachings came by way of Japan then Europe to North American in the 1950’s where his most prominent student, Michio Kushi spread its wings.1

At first glace, the ever-knowledgeable Wikipedia, describes macrobiotics as:

“Eating grains as a staple food supplemented with other foodstuffs such as vegetables and beans, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods. Macrobiotics also addresses the manner of eating, by recommending against overeating, and requiring that food be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.”1

Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this the way we humans are supposed to eat? Westernization brought with it a resistance of the traditional Eastern beliefs of the Orient but it seems now they may have been onto something all along. Rather than just another diet fad, macrobiotics concentrates also on a way of living, of maintaining a yin and yang in all we do. Aren’t people in America always striving for balance?

If so, simply follow these rules:
Chew your food! Breaking up the groups between 25-30% whole grains, especially brown rice, 30-40% vegetables, 5-10% beans and legumes, and the remaining percentage comprised of an assortment of fish, miso soup, nuts and seeds, fruits, and naturally processed foods.
Cook seasonally, with lighter dishes featured in the warmer months and richer dishes in colder months.
BALANCE: Avoid over stimulating the body (YIN) through things like sugar alcohol and coffee, while staying away from stagnant (YANG) foods like meat, poultry, eggs, and refined salt.

It is believed that, according to a proponent, if one “eats foods that are whole, local and in season, that the body get the perfect yin-ness and yang-ness needed for the natural environment. In harmony with nature, one can experience strength, flexibility, freedom and happiness.”2

On the surface Macrobiotics appears similar to the vegan diet. The main differences being that most meats and fishes aren’t ruled out and macrobiotics encourages an active and positive life and mental outlook with its diet as well. Indulgences are allowed since healthy eating on a daily basis is the norm. Further, macrobiotics has ties in alternative healing. Many believe the restrictive diet is helpful to ailments and diseases like cancer, though this has never been proven. One of the elements that is a little outdated, however, is the promotion of tobacco, said to be helpful as a part of this diet, but something we know by now to be harmful.

As a cook and “foodie” (I try to avoid those words but can’t yet call myself a chef), I don’t like to rule anything out of my repertoire, especially “nightshade” vegetables which macrobiotics warns against, including tomatoes, eggplant, beets and avocado, all things essential to my personal diet. But I appreciate the essence of macrobiotics and embrace the idea that we are what we eat. In the midst of the attention food is getting these days with laws against trans-fats and a return to organic, healthy eating habits, it is no wonder Macrobiotics is once again drawing crowds. My hat goes off to those that have been able to maintain this lifestyle all along while the rest of us were stuck with deli sandwiches and fast food. I guess there’s a reason this diet is over 5000 years old.


Written by Andrea Scalici

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The Flavors of Macrobiotics: Juicy Raisined Quinoa and Mouth-Watering Balsamic Swiss Chard

(Serves 4)

Quinoa with Raisins and Pine Nuts

1  Cup Quinoa, rinsed for at least 5 minutes.

1 Cup of Chicken Stock

1 Cup water

2 lemons

¼ cup olive oil

2 Tbsp Golden Raisins

2 scallions, chopped

¼ cup toasted Pine nuts

Salt to taste

Put Quinoa in a medium saucepan with water and chicken stock and tightly cover. Simmer for about 18 minutes.

As the Quinoa is simmering, toast a 1/4 cup of pine nuts until fragrant, about 6 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Set aside to cool.

Mash 2 tablespoons of golden raisins, place in a bowl, then add 1/4 cup of boiling water to soften. Set Aside.

Once Quinoa is done (it is soft but slightly al dente with a chewy texture). Dress with a quarter cup of olive oil and the juice of 2 lemons. Add 2 chopped scallions, the raisins and toasted pone nuts and Enjoy!


Balsamic Swiss Chard with Red Peppers

1 bunch of Swiss Chard, tough stems removed washed and sliced thinly

1 red pepper, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Heat two Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add red peppers and sauté. Add garlic and sauté with peppers for 2 minutes. Add the swiss chard and sprinkle with a little salt to preserve the color (not too much to begin with.) Sautee the swiss chard until wilted and soft. Sprinkle with Balsamic vinegar and cook to meld flavors (about 5-10 minutes). Season to taste. Serve with Quinoa.

Recipe by Megan Moore

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