04/24/17 11:29am

Just five minutes to smoothie magic with Greenblender.

Last week the internet enjoyed a rare moment of harmony as it gathered together to mock Juicero, the high tech juice company that raised $120 million to hawk $400, wifi-enabled juicers. A meticulously reported Bloomberg story and accompanying video demonstrated that despite its boasts of aircraft-grade aluminum and four tons of pressing power, it was possible to squeeze Juicero juice packs–which you cannot buy without first purchasing the juicer, called The Press–by hand, to pretty much the same effect.

A tech writer friend and I have had an ongoing joke about Juicero since this gushing New York Times profile of founder Doug Evans came out last year, the punchline being, if you’re a certain type of white guy (read: unconventional, but rich, with a charming if slightly sociopathic personality), you can get Silicon Valley dollars like you have an ATM card, no matter how dumb your idea is.

But here’s the rub–I like drinking juice or smoothies for breakfast, and most juicers really are a pain to clean and I get annoyed by my own lack of creativity when it comes to my smoothie game. Surely there must be some kind of juice interruption that actually delivers, without having to purchase a $400 lie.

There is and the company started in Brooklyn, of course.

Greenblender, to use a tired, but useful formulation, is Blue Apron for smoothies. For $49 a week (less if you commit to several months at a time) you get recipes and ingredients for five different smoothies, two servings of each. You just pop them in a blender and voila, breakfast in about five minutes. Technically these are smoothies–no pulp or fiber is removed, it’s all blended all in there, but they’re much more fruit and vegetable foward than your standard smoothie, which is really a milkshake in disguise. Think of Greenblender concoctions more like super juice. You could not squeeze these ingredients with your bare hands and get a drink from your efforts. (more…)

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04/20/17 10:54am

We interviewed former New Yorkers about their lives upstate, and we also asked them to share their favorite spots, so you can enjoy them next time you visit–or when you relocate, too.

Glasses at the Suarez Family Brewery. Photo; Suarez Family Brewery via Instagram

Glasses at the Suarez Family Brewery. Photo; Suarez Family Brewery via Instagram

Sarah Suarez

1. Suarez Family Brewery in Livingston: Nick’s brother Dan and his wife Taylor opened their brewery in the summer of 2016. They have a tasting room where we love to hang out on our days off—Dan even decided to open the tasting room on Wednesdays for Nick.

2. Montgomery Place Orchards: This is my favorite farm stand and one of our purveyors for the restaurant. They are a family run farm with the most perfect selection. They grow a huge variety of heirloom apples, as well as oodles of other fruit and vegetables. When I stop by for my weekly visits from June-November I always end up eating something on the way home, whether it’s a whole pint of black caps or a couple warm apple cider donuts.

3. Saugerties Lighthouse: I love coming here with my dog Scout. There is a nice walk from the parking lot that takes you through a beautiful marshy area and then out to the lighthouse on the Hudson. You can bring a picnic or wade in the water. We actually did a special event with some friends at the lighthouse last fall and took a sailboat ride there, then had dinner at dusk. It was pretty magical. (more…)

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04/17/17 10:54am
Photo: Georgia Kral

Photo: Faun

If you’re a wine drinker then you’ve probably heard some bottles described as “natural wines.” On menus around town from casual pizza spots to special occasion restaurants, natural wines have become wine directors’ darlings, as well as favorites with diners. Here’s what you need to know.

But what is natural wine?

It’s debatable, really. In the past 10 years, just what is natural wine has been a heated topic in certain circles. We like what Eric Asimov, The New York Times wine writer, has to say about it: “I have always considered the lack of a definition of natural wine to be a great strength … It’s an ideal, rather than a set of rules.”

Those underlying ideals include making wine with as little intervention from the winemakers as possible. That means limiting the addition of preservatives (sulfur) and flavors, and allowing each harvest–which, as with all crops, changes from year to year based on any number of factors–to sing its own tune. Many big name wines, whether you’re talking Yellow Tail or Veuve Clicquot, are made to be consistent year to year. Each bottle tastes the same. Natural wine vintages can vary wildly, and that is considered a desirable reflection of the growing season.

Natural winemakers also let the naturally-occurring yeasts act as the agents of fermentation, rather than adding other yeasts.

“You can’t be a natural winemaker if you’re using cultivated yeasts,” said Mike Fadem, co-owner of Ops in Bushwick, which pours from a constantly rotating list of natural wines. “If you’re letting it happen on its own naturally people are afraid it’s less control, or you’re less likely to get the exact same thing every year.”

But not knowing exactly what you’re going to get is part of the excitement, he added.

(more…)

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04/10/17 10:24am
Elsens Photo: Georgia Kral

Melissa and Emily Elsen grew up in a family food business. Photo: Georgia Kral

In the restaurant industry, partners are essential. One person can’t go it alone for reasons financial, emotional, practical and logistical. But like in any business, having a partner you can trust–and see eye-to-eye with–is crucial to success and often difficult to find. So what happens when you start a business with someone who knows you better than pretty much anyone, who you probably got sent to your room for smacking at some point, and who remembers every moment of every awkward phase you’ve even gone through?

Food businesses owned by sibling partners have a particular style. They choose to run their projects with a family-first ethos where respect for each other, collective decision-making, brutal honesty and reasonable expectations are the guiding principles. In addition to great food, of course. (more…)

04/03/17 10:31am

For those of us who admit to being more than a little food-focused (or slightly gluttonous, whichever), this was a much-anticipated weekend, and we’re very lucky that Smorgasburg isn’t picky about the weather. The lauded food market returned to East River State Park and took up residence in Prospect Park this weekend, despite a somewhat chilly and grey start on Saturday. This year, the market opens with a decent shaking up to its usual program–from mom-and-pop shops cooking up traditional Haitian food to Chinese dumplings with eclectic fillings inspired by the diversity of Queens. Below we’ve highlighted a couple of vendors to look out for, so ready your utensils! (And yes, there’s a spaghetti donut. We tried it. It’s fine.)

Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

John’s Juices

Ok, so you’re totally over walking around Smorgasburg sipping coconut water from a coconut–but how about slurping fresh juice straight from a dragon fruit? Or a pineapple? John DeWindt and his partner August Major take fresh fruit juice to a whole new level using a nifty machine they spotted and picked up in Japan. It grinds the juice inside the fruit, so all you have to do is mix in a little agave, ginger, or seltzer, stick in a straw, and you’re done! It’s a pretty flawless summer treat. (more…)

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03/27/17 11:29am
Last spring Matzo Project matzo was in three stores and sold out in a matter of hours. Now they're all over the country, including at Eataly. Photo: Matzo Project

Last spring Matzo Project matzo was in three stores and sold out in a matter of hours. Now they’re all over the country, including at Eataly. Photo: Matzo Project

Passover this year begins on the evening of Monday, April 10 with seder. That’s two weeks away, and whether you’re an Orthodox traditionalist seeking out shmurah matzo for your Passover plate, or looking for a delicious Kosher-but-not-fully-Kosher-for-Passover alternative, you’re in luck. There are better matzo options than the supermarket stuff out there for you.

Brought to the forefront by young Jewish chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Michael Solomonov, who wrote the wonderful cookbook Zahav, Jewish cuisine is thriving right now, from dishes like brisket and matzo ball soup that are Eastern European in origin, to the vegetable and spice-heavy cuisine of Israel. Last spring Dan Barber, chef and local food advocate, had a long essay in The New York Times about what goes into making shmurah matzo. Around the same time The Matzo Project released a tiny batch of their delicious matzo to three stores in Brooklyn and Manhattan. It sold out within hours.

New York has seen Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagel, Frankel’s and Seed and Mill Halvah and Tahini flourish over the past few years. Since their trial run for last Passover, The Matzo Project has blossomed into a full-blown business that has matzo and matzo chips on the shelves of stores in nearly two dozen states, and available for sale online, in plain (yes, there’s salt), everything and cinnamon and sugar. “We have scaled up and we’re ready to take on the pita chip.” says Matzo Project co-founder Ashley Albert.

Staying Kosher, but not Kosher-for-Passover (which would exclude salt and other flavorings), The Matzo Project joins Vermatzah, a Vermont-based matzo company that refers to their product as “eco-kosher” in a market that seems to have been underserved, judging from the enthusiastic reception.

It’s not just that we’ve reached such a fever pitch with food that we’re fascinated by the minutiae of even an item that traditionally has been most remarkable for its blandness. Matzo has the ability to simultaneously function as a delicious cracker at your cocktail party and as a symbol of Jewish history and culinary heritage. Try to achieve that with a box of Triscuits. (more…)

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03/20/17 1:13pm
The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

The noodles are perfect, the broth is delicious and the ramen bowls are handmade in Greenpoint. Photo: @Takumenlic via Instagram

A few weeks ago a friend who lives in Long Island City invited me to come over, mentioning that if we got hungry we could pop around the corner from her house to a Japanese izakaya where we could grab some snacks and sake. I’ll admit it, I was dubious. Long Island City has lots of choices for Asian food, but none that I’ve loved. There’s mediocre Thai in spades, just like the rest of New York City. Mu Ramen has delicious food, but the wait is always a problem and frankly, they’re just not that friendly. Hibino I do like, but I wouldn’t call it an izakaya.

What I was shocked to find, tucked behind the 108th Precinct, less than a block from the Vernon-Jackson stop on the 7 train was a perfect neighborhood restaurant, a place you can indeed pop into for some snacks a beer, but that also feels fancy enough for a special night out. (more…)

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03/14/17 5:24pm

Let me be blunt for a moment. All those delicious Pi Day pies and snow day stews aside, this is the worst time of year for cooking. Late winter and early spring are a challenge in in the kitchen. The chicken pot pies, roasted vegetables and bean soups I was so excited to make in October feel heavy and boring now, and it’s going to be more than a few weeks before the first spring edibles show up at the farmer’s market.

We’re in luck though, fellow cooks. A new book came out today that will help get us all over the hump and into nettle, asparagus and pea season.

Vibrant India, Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn is the first cookbook from Chitra Agrawal, cook, writer and owner of Brooklyn Delhi. She wrote a great guide to eating all over the subcontinent by taking a day trip to Edison and Iselin, N.J. for us a few years back, and if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at cooking South Asian food, but have never quite been able to make sense of all the spice roasting and grinding, this is the book for you.

Agrawal’s recipes are not the heavy butter chicken and saag paneer type fare–which is generally Northern Indian in origin–that often represents Indian cuisine in the U.S. In the foreword she explains that her cooking is very much informed by the vegetarian cuisine of South India, Bangalore specifically, which is based around rice, beans, pulses, fresh vegetables and spices like mustard seed, hing and tumeric.

What does South India have to do with late winter cooking?

Many of the recipes in Vibrant India are variations on rice and dal, which are not just hearty, durable, winter fare, they’re also fragrantly spiced and lush with coconut, ghee and curry leaves. This combination of new flavors and cooking techniques is sure to hold your attention until the farmer’s market is full of ingredients for her spiced spring vegetable and coconut polenta recipe.

I’ve tried to wrap my head around how to build up a pantry of spices and the techniques for cooking Indian dishes at home several times, never with much luck. There are several South Asian cookbooks on my shelf and I’ve never prepared a single dish from any of them. I get overwhelmed by planning what to make, gathering the ingredients and understanding the techniques. This book feels so much more accessible and easy to understand than my past forays into subcontinental cooking. (more…)

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03/13/17 9:29am
The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

If you eat animal protein, there’s generally little reason (if any) to opt for a veggie burger instead of a luscious patty of ground beef. That said, veggie burgers can be delicious in their own right, if you know where to go, and from David Chang’s so-meaty-it-bleeds veggie burger, to Superiority Burger in the East Village which New York Times food critic Pete Wells referred to as “Shake Shack for vegetarians,” they’re really having a moment. (Cara Nicoletti, a butcher at Foster Sundry in Bushwick just did a video for Vice Munchies on how to make them at home, if you’d prefer to stay in for your veggie fix.)

For the most part, these burgers are best considered as unique food items. A chicken sandwich or a falafel are not the same as a burger, and you wouldn’t hold their lack of beefy heft against them. Same here. We picked six of our favorite veggie burgers in Brooklyn–these sandwiches can stand their own, we promise!

For the beet lover: 61 Local

In Cobble Hill, 61 Local serves up local foods and good vibes. The restaurant’s menu features a delicious and earthy beet burger made with chef Lukas Volger’s special blend. (Volger, a former employee and now the owner of the brand Made by Lukas, developed the recipe while working at 61 Local.) The patty is topped with pickled red onions, miso “mayo,” baby greens and ketchup and served on a ciabatta roll.

61 Bergen St., Cobble Hill


For the milkshake drinker: Dutch Boy

Burgers and milkshakes go together like…fries and ketchup, peanut butter and jelly, pickle juice and whiskey shots. Dutch Boy in Crown Heights is as well known for its spiked milkshakes as it is its burgers and so we had to include them on this list. The veggie burger here is house-made and distinctly simple, but for two reasons we love it. One, it’s served with chipotle aioli, which delivers a heat-packed punch and two, you can (and should) wash it down with a root beer schnapps-spiked milkshake.

766 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights (more…)

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03/06/17 2:18pm
Photo: Georgia Kral

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem | Photo: Georgia Kral

Good. Simple. Made by thoughtful people. These are the criteria that come into play in nearly every facet of the operation at Ops, from the local, farm-fresh ingredients, to the rotating natural wine list, to the ethos of the place.

Marie Tribouilloy and Mike Fadem opened this petite and homey spot next to Variety Coffee in Bushwick, in October of 2016. It’s quickly become a neighborhood restaurant where locals converge for pizza, salads and meat and cheese plates. The centerpiece is the wood-burning oven, sparkling with colorful blue tiles behind the rustic bar.

The pizza is different at Ops, too. Fadem makes it with sourdough, which he lovingly tends to and feeds twice a day.

“We wanted it to be like a classic pizzeria,” Fadem said. “People can’t get enough of pizza.”

The pair wanted a restaurant that was both welcoming and inviting.

“That’s why we do everything ourselves,” Tribouilloy said. “We have a relationship with the customers. We’re both here and on the floor.” (more…)

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