Friday, February 24, 2012

Broadway Bites in Boston: Tea Time at the Taj

Edible gold letter branding on a chocolate-covered strawberry = Extravagant!
MATT: I recently had the pleasure of visiting Krystina Alabado and the American Idiot Tour in Boston, one of my favorite cities (Except of course when it comes to baseball: Go Yankees!).  I often talk about coffee, but the tradition of Afternoon High Tea is almost as near and dear to my heart.  I first fell in love with it while living in London and have, since returning to the US, found many places in NYC and the rest of the country that not only honor the tradition but more than do it justice.  One of those very places, and the first of our new Tea Time series, is the Taj Boston Hotel, located on the north end of the Boston Common, Boston's closest equivalent to a centralized park.  (Of course, it ain't got nuthin' on Central Park.)  

If anyone is unfamiliar with High Tea, here's what one can expect to find:
  • Finger sandwiches usually including cucumber, egg salad, salmon, and a variety of meats and cheeses.
  • Seasonal scones served with jams, jellies, lemon curd, and clotted cream A.K.A. Devonshire cream.  (This is what makes High Tea so special!)
  • Assorted desserts such as cookies, candies, cakes, and pastries. 
  • Champagne can usually be added for an extra charge.
  • It's a bit of a time commitment but nothing compared to a tasting at a gourmet restaurant.
  • There's usually a dress code so wear your English finest!
  • And of course...a good old-fashioned pot of tea! 
The Taj, like so many other places that serve High Tea, have their own house blend which is usually black, my personal favorite because it cuts the sweetness of the scones and desserts.  The highlights here were both savory and sweet, the first being a lobster profiterole.  Imagine biting into an eclair-type puff pastry, but instead of tasting chocolate, discovering creamy New England lobster!  Another was the prosciutto & cheddar tartine topped with an olive garnish (their take on the classic ham & cheese.)  The combination of a pumpkin macaroon and a mini-tiramisu topped with a gold-covered espresso bean more than satisfied my sweet tooth as you probably remember from Coffee Talk: Porto Rico Importing Co.  The staple scone is that of currant served with clotted cream.  On occasion, live music is played, this time by a lovely violinist. 

So, if you're ever in Boston, dress up and take an afternoon to visit the Taj, maybe even before you take in a show, where you can sit back (Sit up straight!) and relax, but get ready to answer the question, "One lump or two?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


We reached our goal, 750 followers on Twitter, thanks to all your support!  We also rank 17th out of over 600 nominees with 46 votes at The Shorty Awards.  (We even got 4 votes in the #FF category.)  Finalists will be announced shortly so cross those fingers, toes, etc. 

As a special thanks for all your hard work promoting us on Twitter, Facebook, your own blogs, word-of-mouth, and the Shorty Awards, we decided to release some food finds from our past.  Did they in some small part pave the way to Broadway Bites?  We'll let you decide....
Matt promoting Meatless Monday at a very early age.


Keep spreading the word about Broadway Bites because who knows what we're capable of when we reach 1000?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meatless Monday: Pure Food and Wine

Even though all three of us are carnivores, we are also omnivores, and we are just as open and available to trying vegetarian cuisine.  We all have friends in the Broadway Community who practice vegetarian and vegan lifestyles as do some of our readers we're sure.  That's why we're joining the Meatless Monday movement by promoting cutting out meat one day a week and bringing you the best vegetarian food that NYC has to offer.  We're diving in head first with a raw-vegan 4-course gourmet meal from Pure Food and Wine in Union Square.      

Plate of Assorted Cultured Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheeses and Rosemary Crisps
served with wild huckleberry compote and mustard greens
MATT: The one excuse I hear most often from Vegetarians as to why they aren't Vegan is, "I can't give up cheese!  I love it too much!!"  Well, Pure has the answer to their prayers.  Cashew, macadamia, and/or brazil nuts are used for the base with flavor flourishes of himalayan pink salt, hemp seed, and algae, but the key to combining these ingredients to make cheese is acidophilus, a form of bacteria that ferments sugar into lactic acid.  The cheese paired beautifully with a bottle of pinot noir.

Caesar Salad
romain lettuce, nori, pumpkinseed macadamia parmesan, lemon, caesar dressing
ANDY: One of my favorite dishes at Pure Food and Wine, The Caesar Salad, isnt actually on the menu.  They serve it at the sister store around the corner, One Lucky Duck, which has its own more casual menu for eat in, or take out.  Luckily, Pure is always willing to let you order from One Lucky Duck's menu as well.  Simply put, it's just a good Caesar salad..."organic" or "raw" or whatever; it is tasty, fresh, and so fulfilling.  I like to eat raw occasionally, but I'm always concerned if I'll be left feeling full and satisfied at the end of the experience.  So, I always order the Caesar, which is bountiful and definitely a meal on its own, leaving me feeling like I ate a large substantial meal.  My favorite part: the crispy strips of nori seaweed layered on top of the salad.  Fantastic!

Zucchini, Local Heirloom Tomato Lasagna
basil pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara, macadamia pumpkin seed ricotta
ADAM: I came into this restaurant a skeptic.  I read a book on why we shouldn't eat animals, and while I understand the argument, even sympathize with its ideals, I just couldn't fathom its practicality.   This restaurant takes impracticality a step further, coining a new phrase: 'Impractical...oh, come on...REALLY?.'  All of its dishes are raw, meaning nothing is cooked above 118 ºF.  To recap, we're not eating ANY animal products plus not heating a single ingredient.  To me, this sounds like one of those Top Chef quick fire challenges so impossible, so obviously dooming its contestants to failure that the viewer switches the channel on the principal of fairness. The lasagna caught my eye immediately. How audacious! How irreverent!! Taking such a beloved classic of Italian and, let's face it, American diet, deconstructing it, rearranging, and gleefully flashing purists the finger when it's a smash! And it was! It captures all of the quintessential flavors of a lasagna: creamy ricotta, meaty tomato, smooth olive oil, delicate noodles....  EXCEPT the cheese was made from macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds, the pasta was thinly sliced zucchini, and the meat sauce was a sun-dried tomato marinara. It was the dish of a rebel chef, a chef who lives for a challenge, the kind of chef who reinvents a classic and leaves you wondering why no one thought of doing this before.


Left: Mint Sundae - chocolate, fresh mint, and mint chip ice creams mint chocolate cookies, chocolate sauce and vanilla cream
Classic Sundae - vanilla and chocolate ice creams 
chocolate and cherry framboise sauces, sliced bananas, candied almonds, and vanilla cream
ANDY: Still not convinced? Alright then...Dessert.  I have to admit, the whole reason for getting the boys together in the first place was just an excuse to have the delicious Ice Cream Sundaes.  The best part?  It's Guilt free!!!  The ice cream is non-dairy and sweetened with Agave.  There's nothing in the world like indulging in something you love with no second thoughts!  I'd like to take this moment to say how excited I am that so many of my favorite foods now have healthy alternatives all over New York City and at the grocery store.  And that basically sums up the whole experience at Pure Food and Wine.  There is very little compromise.  You can still stuff your face with lasagna and dive into an ice cream sundae and not suffer the consequences.  Eating healthy can be delicious....  The key ingredient is creativity!

Check out Sarma's (the [mostly raw food eating] founder, ceo, and proud mother of one lucky duck) raw blog or visit One Lucky Duck's homepage.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Little Black Book: New York City's Hottest Hot Chocolate Page 2

Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate

ANDY: Infamous for being one of New York Cities Best Hot Chocolates, Jacques Torres' Wicked Hot Chocolate is definitely one of the best I've had! Here's why:

  • Delicious cloud of thick whipped cream over piping hot chocolate.
  • Perfect blend of spiciness giving extra heat.
  • Creamy, lightly sweet, and dense.
  • You can really taste the chocolate, after all, it's Jacques Torres!
  • Try the Wicked Mocha! Even Better!!
  • ★★★★★
I brought along my fellow BwayBites "taste bud" Matt Shingledecker and Hot Chocolate lover, Taylor Trensch, who appropriately plays Boq in Wicked on Broadway for a special Broadway Bites episode:

In case you missed it: Little Black Book: New York City's Hottest Hot Chocolate Page 1

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Have No Fear, Food Truck's Here!" - Jamaican Dutchy, NYC

They even have a big flat-screen TV attached to make the wait go by a bit faster.
First off, we want to wish you all a super Super-Bowl Sunday!  Go Giants!!  Secondly, we have an even more super, superer if you will, story about The Jamaican Dutchy that saved the day. 

Matt: I had rehearsal yesterday for a reading I'm working on about superheroes (If I told you anything more, it would compromise my secret identity, and I'd have to kill you.), which let out about three hours earlier than expected.  I was left with nothing to do and a hunger pang to boot.  After a short walk around midtown weighing my options, I hung my head in shame and headed home to Harlem.  Almost at my doorstep, I looked up and saw my saving grace, The Jamaican Dutchy.  My prayers were answered by an animated Jamaican man holding a smoking-hot plate of chicken standing next to a palm tree ready to come to my rescue.

Trade the wine in for the Sorrel Juice.
Yesterday was National Homemade Soup Day, and because I had absolutely no desire to make anything myself, I split the difference between homemade and canned, and started with the Oxtail Stew, The Jamaican Dutchy's weekend soup special.  This was my first experience with oxtail.  It had a subtle hint of gaminess and a great meaty texture, the perfect building block for the rest of the root vegetables and Jamaican flavors.  I accidentally bit into one of the allspice berries which I'm guessing is there only to flavor everything else around it, not to actually eat, as bay leaves are used in other dishes.  The taro was the hero here, having a beautifully purple aesthetic hue.

The main meals have three sizes: Mini, Small, and Large.  I went with the Mini Jerk Chicken since I had just ordered the Oxtail Stew, and let me tell you that it is anything but Mini.  I can't even imagine how Giant the large must be!  (See what I did there?)  The chicken itself was moist, and the skin was quite spicy (Just right for me but for the feint of heart and tongue, beware!), served over a bed of steamed cabbage and "rice & peas," better known to us as "rice & beans."  The pigeon peas used are similar to kidney beans. 

I washed it all down with sorrel juice, a traditional winter drink in Jamaica especially around the holidays, which to my taste-buds had both a gingery bite and a tart blend of cranberry and pomegranate juice. 

Dear Jamaican Dutchy, thanks for flying/driving all over New York City saving the day!  For location information and more, follow them on Twitter at @JamaicanDutchy.  Till the next time we need a hero....

Just in case you missed it, check out our first video entry featuring three food trucks in Times Square. 

Need more of a Dutch fix after this Dutchy post?: Love At First Bite! Andrew Carmellini's 'The Dutch'

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Announcement Time!

First up is a challenge.  We currently have 684 followers on Twitter.  When that number reaches 750, we have a very fun surprise in store!  Here's how you can help us reach that goal:

  • Tell your friends and family about BwayBites over a delicious meal or  at intermission of a Broadway Show.
  • Tweet @bwaybites about the great places you've been finding in NYC or have gone to based on our recommendation.
  • #FF Follow Friday us...or any day of the week!
  • Add BwayBites on Facebook
  • Nominate BwayBites for a Shorty Award.
  • Whatever else you can do to spread the good word....


We've added a News Page.  Check out this article featuring BwayBites on  First stop: Broadway; next stop: the world!

Read Part 2 of our interview with Broadway News.  You can follow Broadway News on Twitter @bwaynews, or visit their blog for Broadway photo coverage, news, events, giveaways, discussions, and more.


We have a new Recipe Page featuring our very own creative culinary creations. We'll also use this page for lots of recipes from some of your favorite Broadway stars!

BwayBites is growing so quickly and we really thank you for your support and engagement.  We really love sharing with you all the delicious food finds this amazing city has to offer.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little Black Book: New York City's Hottest Hot Chocolate Page 1

Peels Hot Cocoa with Housemade Marshmallow $4.00
ANDY:  It's great to begin "Little Black Book: New York City's Hottest Hot Chocolate" on National Hot Chocolate Day. My parents say that the first word out of my mouth was "choco." They used to feed me small pieces of chocolate as a kid, and not surprisingly, I wanted more. I am an avid chocolate lover and find any excuse to have it, in any form, at any time.  Drinking chocolate drives me wild.... It can be even more exquisite, more blissful, or more sensual than biting it. I am on a mission to find the most seductive cups of cocoa New York City has to offer, cup by cup, with a little help from some of my favorite New Yorkers. Because sometimes, two is better than one....

We begin at Peels, in the East Village, with one of the most talented singers I know, my very dear friend, Jillette Johnson, a singer/songwriter who is currently recording her debut album. Peels is our meeting place and my favorite breakfast spot in the city right now. I find the 30-45 minute wait for Saturday brunch definitely worth it. Not only is the food delicious but there's a great vibe about the restaurant overall. It feels like everyone who is there really wants to be there.  But if you don't feel like waiting, they have a take-out counter where you can indulge your cravings on the go. What makes the Hot Cocoa so great? Its multi-layered:

  • Housemade marshmallow floating on the top.
  • Perfectly dark, dense, and creamy.
  • The taste gets deeper and darker as you get to the bottom of the cup, past the frothy whipped cream and gooey melted marshmallow, leaving a dark chocolate puddle at the finish.
  • It's a different cup of Hot Chocolate with every sip.
  • There's nothing like drinking Hot Chocolate with the smell of bacon and fresh baked pie in the air. 
  • Rating: ★★★★★

Next up:

Vosges Aztec Elixir $5.44

To say "Hot Chocolate Date" would be an understatement. This was a Spicy Hot, Hot Chocolate, Hot Date...a triple threat! My friend Helene Traasavik, former Miss Norway, yoga guru, and model, joined me at Vosges: Haut Chocolate in Soho. It was fitting that she be there with me! Couture chocolate that lets you travel the world with every bite. We ordered the Aztec Elixir which is on the spicy side, spiked with ancho & chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon, Madagascar vanilla bean, cornmeal, and dark chocolate. You can try this world cup of chocolate at home by ordering online here. Here's what you can expect:
  • Extravagant taste.
  • Thick, rich, and spicy.
  • Perfect to share with someone else.
  • Served elegantly in a stylish, ceramic black mug that is smooth to the touch.
  • Rating: ★★★★☆

Either one of these cups of chocolate are sure to satisfy. I invite you to go get your Hot Chocolate on! Any recommendations? Feel free to comment below...Buen Provecho!

Happy National Hot Chocolate Day!

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Into The Woods" Act II

ADAM: For our second evening in the Berkshire air, we decided to flex our own culinary muscles. I owe a lot to my turkey chili. I feel like this recipe, which has been evolving for years now, gathering new ornaments and layers every time I make it, really instilled in me the confidence that I can cook something that tastes delicious and complex. The spice mix is key here and is always transforming. I won't spoil my secrets here, but I will say it involves cayenne, paprika, brown sugar, and cocoa. I grind the turkey down into small bits, to make up for the lack of fat content (the texture is somehow much meatier when you use this process) and then throw the spices in BEFORE adding liquid! Cooking the meat and the spices together in a pan with low moisture (much like in Indian cooking) really develops the flavor of the spice mix. Beer, vegetables, and beans are added and simmered for a long while. This batch I cooked up was particularly spicy and paired really well with the richness of Matt's Mac and Cheese. Teamwork. It makes the dream work.

MATT: I won't say much about my Mama's, my mom's mom's,  Mac 'n Cheese. Words can't do this culinary heirloom justice. It even makes an appearance in my bio. Maybe one day, I'll share the recipe, but until then, the pictures will have to suffice.  It went perfectly with Adam's turkey chili. Killer combo. Adam, care to comment?

ADAM: Following my fourth serving, I think I had a heart attack followed by a stroke. My only thought: it was worth it.

ANDY: It was like a Temperpedic bed of cheesy deliciousness. A custardy mattress of perfectly springy macaroni and gooey cheese. Probably the best I've ever had.


ADAM: Okay…so we didn't fast for very long. In fact, I could still feel my stomach working on the giant late night meal eaten previously. But the morning sun was shining bright, reflecting off the fresh snow, and that meant it was time to stuff our faces. Heavy from the night before, we couldn't muster the mental energy to make our own concoction so we called upon our readers to lend a hand. We had some knockout recipes sent in, but the cream of the crop came from Laura Vincent, fellow blogger and food lover. She provided a simple but luxuriously sensual porridge topped with Brandy marinated raisins. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a lil' early morning buzz, especially when it comes in meal form. Find this mouthwatering recipe and more at "Hungry and Frozen."

LAST MIDNIGHT (Our final meal in the woods)

ANDY: I have got to be honest. I still have not perfected my Mom's Arroz con Pollo recipe.  I have been trying to for a couple of years now and I'm coming quite close, but I'm just not there yet. Maybe it's because someone else is cooking it with so much love? I dont know... I even brought my own steel pot and spices from home! Still, everyone seemed to really like it. My mom inherited the recipe from my Grandfather who was from Spain and made the dish "a la chorrera" which basically means brothy, almost a cross between Paella and Risotto, on the wet side. There must be something I'm not doing...or overdoing...the quest continues.

ADAM: What do I know about arroz con pollo? I thought this dish was restaurant ready, savory, flavor-packed rice with succulent, fall-off-the-bone tender chicken. The dish tasted like Andy's abuelo spent days tending to it. And to watch Andy cook it was a whole other thrill. He didn't measure one single ingredient. Toss here. Pinch there. Stir. Simmer. Taste. Pour. Stir. It was like watching an artist paint on a canvas, layering colors, big strokes, then small ones. It reminded me of the art of cooking, the act of creating something brave and bold uniting earth's bounty and pure imagination.

"I guess this is goodbye, Berkshires, old pal. I'll see you soon again. I hope that when I do…it WILL be on a plate."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Into The Woods" Act I


Every now and then an extraordinarily rare thing happens in show business: the sea parts, the sky opens up, the ground rumbles and fractures, and we get two consecutive days off!
Carpe diem! BwayBites recently experienced one of these unusual turn of events...and take advantage of it, we did! We packed our bags and hit the road, our destination: Adam's family's cabin in the enchanting woods of Berkshires, Massachusetts.

(ruining Broadway's hottest bodies since mid-2010) 

Ephraim, Matt, Andy, and Margot.
MATT: I began my BwayBites Berkshire visit with a surprise from Shake Shack at dinner on a two-show day.  Shake Shack often has holiday hot dog specials, and what better place to get a hot dog than New York City (more on Chicago dogs at another time which oddly enough, Shake Shack offers).  This was a Halloween special, and so of course it included one of my very favorite fall flavors, pumpkin.  It was an all-beef hot dog, split, on a toasted wheat bun, with a bacon and cranberry crumble, and last but certainly not least, topped with a pumpkin mustard.  Mustard, in my book, is probably the best of all condiments so to add pumpkin is just sinful in the most positive spin of the word.  Adam, I think I have a new condiment crush….

On our first morning, Andy and I made a delicious breakfast of my easy Huevos Rancheros and his refried beans. Who is as excited as we are to share the very first Broadway Bites recipe?  

  • Any kind of store bought salsa (or you can always make your own)
  • Huevos of course (that's eggs for those of you who don't have Spanish speaking friends)
  • Any kind of Mexican cheese or a similar substitute (get creative)
  • Secret Weapon: Valentina Salsa Picante

Directions: On low heat, melt butter and/or heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan to make cleaning a breeze.  Next, add just enough salsa to cover the bottom of the pan and gently mix together.  Break as many eggs as needed right into the salsa.  Add a sprinkle of water and cover.  This traps the moisture inside the pan and lightly steams the tops of the eggs for more of an over medium feel.  Want a runnier yolk?  Simply cover for a shorter period of time.  When the eggs are nearly done, sprinkle some of the cheese over the top, cover again until melted, and serve.  If you can find it, spice things up a bit with my favorite Mexican hot sauce, Valentina, table-side.  It's quick and easy, and anyone, I mean anyone, can do it.

ANDY: Matt's eggs were looking pretty lonely. I peered in the cupboard and found whole pinto beans, so I thought, "Great! I'll make refried beans." How did I make them taste great? I first mashed them all up and put them in a skillet pan that had olive oil in it. To add extra flavor I added some chunky salsa and a little bit of chicken broth to loosen them up a bit. Once I had a creamy consistency and the right flavor, I covered them with grated cheddar cheese and raw onions and put it in the broiler until the cheese was golden brown. Eggs and beans, couldn't have made a better pair.


ADAM: Robin's Candy Shop, in the funkily quaint town of Great Barrington, might be heaven on Earth, at least for my inner child who squeaked with excitement the second we walked in. It fulfilled my Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory candy store fantasy. Ya know what I'm talking about, right? The candy store that Charlie walks by and lusts over on his jaunt home from school? Owned by the creepy, prophetic, death-staring candyman? If Charlie Bucket came here, he would blow his wad. In fact, he'd forget all about Wonka and that stupid contest. He'd stuff himself silly on Robin's World's Largest gummy bear (a two handed affair), or huge selection of licorice candies, or a rainbow of M&Ms, or a 9lb Nestle Crunch bar, or even lollipops encasing an insect of your choice. Well, maybe he'd omit that last option. But he'd at least think it was pretty cool. This place is a dreamworld. If you're ever in Great Barrington, do your inner boy or girl a favor and lose yourself in this fantasy land for a little while. Move over Willy Wonka, there's a new candy-lady on the block, and we had a wonderful time meeting her.  Thanks for the Candy-Corn Gummy!
Scenes from The Barrington Brewery.
Boy, that's a Big Broadway Bite, Ephraim!
MATT: On our way back from Great Barrington, we stopped at the Barrington Brewery for a bite to eat and some local craft beer.  We sampled all of the beers made in-house as well as a cider bottled nearby.  I had a tough decision to make, the sausage sampler, complete with Bratwurst, Bauernwurst, and Kielbasa steamed in beer and served with sauerkraut, or the Plowman's Lunch, a gathering of dried sausage, Brie cheese, chutney, apples, and Ale bread.  I went with the latter which filled me up just enough to sustain me through making my Mama's patented Mac n' Cheese. Adam, what did you think of your Turkey Reuben? 

ADAM: I'm on a quest for the perfect Turkey Reuben, and this stop definitely made top ten!

End Act I
To be continued....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coffee Talk: Porto Rico Importing Co.

We know what you're thinking, "This whole Broadway Bites thing is all well and good, and I love coffee.  But what if don't live in NYC, and I'm not planning on taking a trip anytime soon?  What then?!?"  OK, so maybe you're not thinking exactly that, but regardless, we have the answer to that very question: Porto Rico Importing Co. 

Their products are not only available at their downtown location in SoHo, nor are they limited to the various markets that distribute them in NYC.  Just go online, and order them right to your front door.  It's that easy.  In addition to coffee, they also sell tea, candy, filters, syrup, and machines.

MATT:  What am I drinking you might ask.  Well, I'll tell you but not until I draw it out first.  I'm not much for flavored coffees.  I enjoy tasting different regions, but that's about as far as I'll usually go.  I hardly ever add milk and sugar unless it's called for culturally (See Vietnamese Coffee).  I never ever add syrup like they sometimes do at Starbucks.  However, there is one flavored coffee that I can't resist because I enjoy all things...pumpkin flavored.  That's right folks; pumpkin is my Kryptonite.  It is a very singular exception.  I am nearly done with a freshly ground bag of Pumpkin Spice Light Roast Coffee from the Porto Rico Importing Co.  Good thing I can just order more online. 

*Here's a tip for making your own Iced Coffee at home when it starts to heat up again or if you're like me at this very moment and just get a craving for the cold stuff:
  • Iced Coffee that you get at a coffee shop is much stronger than it would be if it were hot.  That's because when one adds ice, it almost immediately becomes watered down.  
  • To avoid this at home, if you can't find any bottled cold-brew, make a pot at home, and after it cools, pour it into an ice-tray.  The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
Happy National Irish Coffee Day!  Find a Starbucks with The Clover Brewing System near you to celebrate, or bring on the Jameson!

Past Coffee Talk Segments
The Roasting Plant

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"Love At First Bite!" Andrew Carmellini's -The Dutch, NYC

Andrew Carmellini's Fried Chicken segment on The Early Show

Shortly after our surprise meeting of Chef Andrew Carmellini during a taping of the Early Show on CBS, we discovered a NY Times article declaring one of his restaurants, The Dutch, #1 on Sam Sifton's (retired food critic) Top 10 New Restaurants of 2011.  The stars seemed to be in alignment on this one, so we hurried down to SoHo, eager to eat at the Restaurant of the Year.  

ANDY: So, there we were, sitting anxiously, waiting for our food to arrive as I see one of the waiters heading towards our table with a little wooden plank in hand. "Is that for us?" I'm wondering as he catches my hopeful eyes and walks right up to our table, setting a mini loaf of Jalapeño Cornbread at the center. Instant tongue swell. You know what I mean? My dad used to call it "comiendo con los ojos" or "eating with your eyes." I hadn't even tasted it yet, and I was salivating. I quickly grabbed the knife and cut into the loaf releasing a gust of warm steam as it parted. The moment had arrived...the first taste of Andrew Carmellini goodness. Wow...Delicious! Spicy, moist, and smokey, fresh baked cornbread dancing over my senses with a little dab of creamy butter to cool the tongue. was complimentary. I looked around at the other boys and I can tell the decision was unanimous: love at first bite. What a great start to this new relationship!

Adam pre-slurp!
ADAM: All of Matt's slurping and moaning over those oysters peaked my interest. I've always heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac. But Matt seemed to be experiencing a minor orgasm across the table. Confession: I've never eaten an oyster. I know...get it out now. How dare I call myself a food lover if I've never oystered before? I haven't lived until I've oystered! My reasoning: it hasn't really appealed to me until this moment. It sort of looks like a giant loogie sitting in a shell. I imagined the texture gummy. The flavor muddy. It wasn't until Matt's eyes rolling to the back of his head and the slight smell of the ocean wafting over to my end of the table that I could summon the courage to face a new culinary adventure. I ordered one, Matt's favorite of the bunch. When it arrived, I was thrilled by how luxurious and manageable it all seemed. Two sauce options, a lemon for freshness, sitting there on a bed of crushed ice. I dressed it up with homemade cocktail sauce and the oyster vinaigrette. Matt gave me slurp instructions. 'Tilt the shell enough and it will just fall in.' 'Do I chew?' 'A bit, yeah.' And so down the hatch it went. I remember thinking in the moment: wow, this is thrilling, I'm doing something I've never done before. It was like walking around in a neighborhood of New York City I've never seen before. A really old street I've yet to discover. The experience was magical. It was like I captured all of the ocean in my mouth for just a few moments. And then down it went. And I became a shell carrying the distant sound of the ocean inside me.

Jay Armstrong Johnson, our first BwayBites guest!

JAY: When I was asked to be a guest set of tastebuds with BwayBites, my mouth started watering. When I found out I was the first guest in BwayBites history, I felt honored. I walk by The Dutch on a weekly basis traveling to and from evening therapy sessions. The vibe inside always felt a little too swanky for me with its mood lighting and its patrons dressed in business attire. However, BwayBites and I were there for lunch. The mid-day light spilling into the wall of windows facing Prince street gave the place a chill beach-like vibe. I am from Texas, and when it comes to comfort food this good ol' country boy can get real hungry. I had been craving fried chicken for quite some time, and when I heard it was a highlight on The Dutch's menu, I knew it had to be my choice. Now, I have had A LOT of fried chicken in my life, and I must say The Dutch's is the most unique I have ever tasted. Not overly salted and not too greasy, this fried bird was felt like the healthier distant cousin to which Texas is accustomed. I can picture myself as though I were a judge on Bobby Flay's Throwdown: Fried Chicken. While it is not yo grandmama's home style recipe, it was a foodie experience to open my mind to the possibilities of what fried chicken could be. Who-da-thunk putting hot sauce on it would be so tasty? I'm accustomed to dipping mine into creamed gravy. Dairy Queen, anyone?

MATT: Appropriate that "The Spoon" picks dessert, and by dessert I mean desserts, because truth be told, they sounded so good that we couldn't pick just one.  The sorbet sampler was superb; we all went bananas for the banana cream pie (Did I just taste rum? Yum!); but of course the signature dessert, Dutch Apple Pie, took the cake...pun very much intended.   What could be better in the colder months than a warm apple pie with notes of sour cream, topped with a cinnamon crumble, and served with homemade walnut ice cream?  It fulfills every expectation of the dish with varietal textures, tastes, and temperatures.  Simply put...sweet and buttery goodness that only Mom's homemade could even begin to compete with.  Oh, and the cocktails and coffee washed it all down very nicely.

When the stars align, love at first bite is inevitable.  We can't wait for our second date!

ANDY:    I'm not buying.
ADAM:   (Touches his finger to his nose.)
JAY:        Hey, you guys, I thought I was your guest.
MATT:    I guess we're going Dutch!

Thanks Chef Carmellini! We loved our desserts!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pastrami, Pickles, & Pink Sauce Please! Roxy Deli

Matt: Shortly after graduating high school, I made my second trip ever to The Big Apple to attend the 58th Annual Tony Awards, courtesy of a youth theater troupe in Charleston, SC, the year of Wicked, Avenue Q, and Hugh Jackman hosting.  Being true tourists, we decided to eat lunch one day at Roxy Delicatessen in Times Square.  I remember not being terribly hungry; so I just got some fries...guilty pleasure of mine now but frequent eat as a kid.  Someone had an extra side of Russian dressing, to my mind simply 'the pink sauce,' and already being a flavor adventurer particularly when it comes to condiments, I dipped one of my fries in that allured pink sauce and took a bite.  What a bite!  I stopped exploring, eating each and every last bite of fry in that delicious pink sauce.  I couldn't get enough of the stuff.  At the time, I didn't know what possibilities rye bread, pastrami, swiss cheese, spicy brown mustard, AND of course delectable pink sauce in a harmonious balance would bring....

Flash forward to the present day.  Today marks the last show at Rent for Adam, Ephraim, and myself.  Roxy Deli, directly under the Rent billboard seems more than appropriate for a post on today of all days.  Adam and I say goodbye to Rent but certainly not to all of you.  This is only the beginning of a partnership that we hope will last many years to come, and hopefully we'll all get to share the stage together again doing something even half as powerful and important as Rent.

Back to the topic at hand...the bites.  I made the trip over to Roxy Deli between shows on January 14th, National Pastrami Day.  I hadn't eaten at Roxy since that fateful day back in 2004.  I remembered loving the pink sauce, but it had been so long that my first bite, especially on the sandwich, was almost as if I was discovering it for the very first time.  The sandwich itself is so big that one can barely take a bite.  It is easily the size of two sandwiches in one, which is exactly what I made it into.  I saved the other half for the next day, and it was every bit as good as the day before.  If one can resist the temptation of scarfing down the whole thing, the price is pretty reasonable.  If you can't resist the power of the pink sauce, you're looking at a pricey sandwich and a potentially upset stomach due to the pound of pastrami in there.

Justin, what are you looking at?
@crackmyribsopen tweeted, "lol are they lady and the tramping a pickle?"

One of the best parts of the deli experience is the fact that pickles come with every meal.  I'm a fan of half-sours myself.

Adam's favorite: McClure's Pickles and Bloody Mary Mix.  Find it at Chelsea Market.  You WON'T regret it.

I know it might seem touristy, but hey, what's so wrong with that?  It's popular for a reason isn't it?  I live here and after finding my long lost pink sauce, I'll be frequenting Roxy Deli from now on.