Archive - April 2011

Fonda Nolita NYC

Fonda Nolita New York City

New York City

Antonio and I kept hearing the hype about Fonda Nolita everywhere, so we finally broke down and decided to go this weekend. It was a frigid and windy day. By the time we got there my appetite was roaring.

The place is very hip, very Brooklyn. You walk into what used to be a garage, revamped into a sort of upscale taco truck yard. A very friendly young lady approached us and explained that the place was cash only. She then proceeded to explain the ordering process while Antonio hit up an ATM.

New York City

She explained that there were two locations where you pick up your food. Hungry patrons are to check out the boards by either the VW bus or the back kitchen, decide how many items they want and pay for them at the register. At the register, one is given tickets (all items cost the same amount) and then you simply walk to either the bus or back kitchen place an order, hand in your tickets and wait for your food. I was already starting to think twice about this visit.

When Antonio arrived, I proceeded to explain the process. We purchased 6 tickets. I took two and headed towards the back kitchen where they had fish tacos and Antonio headed to the VW van to order some miscellaneous items.

On a good note, I could see the gentlemen in the kitchen prepping my items. They were ready within a reasonable amount of time. I grabbed my items and headed to meet Antonio.

Fonda Nolita New York CityI was excited, I had a pretty bad fish taco at Oceana the day before and I was jonesing for the real thing. I anxiously bit into my taco to be seriously disappointed. It was flavorless, utterly bland. I saw myself heading to Jersey City, hitting up Taqueria (where the service stinks but the fish tacos seriously deliver) or maybe going to Barmarche where the fish tacos are always good. I crossed my fingers hoping the rest of the food was better.

Fonda Nolita NYCI took a bite of Antonio’s breakfast taco (Mexican style), this was significantly better; not the best breakfast taco I ever had, but good enough. The rest of the tacos were fine, but nothing out of this world.

Fonda Nolita New York CityWhile I loved the vibe and decor of Fonda Nolita, I felt the food was just ok. I must mention that the food here is quite affordable, I believe it was something like $3,50 per item. The staff is friendly, the place is super clean and the food was fine; just not amazing. I am not sure if I will return, but something tells me I won’t.

Fonda Nolita is located at 267 Elizabeth St., New York, NY 10012 917-727-0179

Canape for the Royal Wedding?

Royal Wedding of the Year

Royal Wedding of the YearAs the much-awaited royal wedding of Prince William of England and his fiancée Kate Middleton draws even nearer, word on the web is spreading like wildfire about the food that they are going to serve.

It seems like there will be no Royal Lunch for the wedding guests.

Instead, they will all be treated to several servings of canapés during the wedding reception. According to a recent news report, the reception will be held at the Royal Palace, where more than 600 wedding guests are expected to attend. There will be champagne and wine, that is a given, but the food served is certainly simple.

Royal Wedding of the YearIn contrast, the late Princess Diana, Prince William’s mother, had a lavish royal lunch during her wedding reception. At that time, 27 cakes were prepared for the occasion. In addition to that, the main wedding cake was doubled, in case the one got destroyed during transit. But, of course, the reception was considerably smaller (only 120 guests) so  such lavishness should not be surprising.

There are several reasons why this state of affairs came about. To begin with, the Royal Kitchen only had the capacity to feed 150 people. Since the number of guests is way too much than the kitchen can handle, a different way to entertain guests may seem to be in order.

Second, the Royal family is also concerned about publicity. Due to the economy, it would not look good if they were pictured celebrating a wedding with a lavish party. With the country still stinging from being hit by the global financial crisis, they want to avoid creating a bad impression.

Last, it also solves the issue of pecking order. A formal lunch or dinner requires too many protocols, particularly in the seating arrangement of the guests or of the host. By serving finger foods, guests can freely move about and mingle with other people. They would also remove aspects of status discrimination with the help of this set-up.

It would be interesting to see how this plan would turn out. But this is not the first time that a wedding celebration created a buzz. Back with Chelsea Clinton’s marriage, the news community was on fire when it came out that the Clinton, who was a vegetarian, will be serving meat at the reception. But the news about this kind of royal wedding would definitely be one step closer to being cheapskate.

Perhaps the words of Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia can sum it up: “It sounds very strange,” he told The Times, “From what I remember at all the other royal weddings I went to, we were served the best lunch possible.”

Maybe it is just the signs of times. Let us just hope it does not cause a political ruckus.

Marseille Restaurant Hells Kitchen

Marseille Restaurant

FranceI’ve been quite nostalgic for France lately.  After spending a month there last year, I find myself looking at the thousands of pictures I took during this trip quite often. I was in Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Avignon, Lyon and Paris. Of all those cities; Marseille stole my heart. When I tell people this, I get frazzled looks of confusion. The typical response is “why?”.

Marseille Restaurant FranceI loved the grittiness of the city. I loved its people. I fell in love with the immigrants. I fell in love with Notre Dame de La Garde. Marseille Cathedral made me fall in Proskynesis. Seeing the fishing boats come into the harbor and all the restaurant owners shopping there prior to opening warmed my heart. The beaches, the hills. There was nothing about Marseille I did not love. I love this city so much more than Paris. If you have not been there, do yourself a favor and go.

Marseille RestaurantBut I digress. I am here to talk about a restaurant in Hells Kitchen: Marseille. I had contemplated going to this restaurant many times, but somehow I kept skipping it. Finally I walked in. The staff was friendly enough, we were promptly seated with a smile by our server. The place screams France. Mirrored areas with the names of French dishes. It most definitely had a bistro feel. Our server was friendly enough and we ordered a Chardonnay and a Rose Champagne. The wines were lovely, but my bubbly lacked perlage. Perhaps I got the end of the bottle.

Marseille RestaurantI ordered the Moules Frites and Antonio ordered the grilled chicken sandwich. Before our food came out, we got a bread basket accompanied by a plate of butter surrounded by olive oil. I was ready for a good meal: delicious bread, which I could top with a mix of my favorite things. I was ready for delicious food.

Marseille RestaurantI’ll discuss the mussels first. They were fine, edible but nothing special. The fries were good but not amazing. There are much better places to get mussels in NYC.

Marseille RestaurantThe chicken in the sandwich was dry. The brioche was stale. The peppers were fine. The sandwich was a disappointment. If they had used the bread from the basket, they could have had a much better dish.

Our server was lovely. Although we were not in love with the food, we stayed for an extra glass of wine (my second glass was a Chardonnay). While I may not return to Marseille for the food, I would definitely return for a drink.

Marseille RestaurantI had recently gone to Todd English’s Ca Va and Millesime (I loved both of them). I have to admit that perhaps this could have clouded my Marseille experience. But I seriously don’t think so. The frites were better at Marseille than at Ca Va, but the food at Ca Va was significantly better and the price was not all that different.

That being said, I have been to Marseille’s sister restaurant “Nice Matin” and loved it….Perhaps I will give Marseille another try.

Marseille is located at 2315 Broadway, New York, NY(212) 333-4488 ‎

Alcoholic Blast Targets Youth Market

Snoop Dog Colt 45 Blast

First there was Four Loko, and then now we have Blast. The list of drinks getting a bad reputation when on alcoholic content seems to be endless. Add eye-catching colors, candy-like flavors, and hip commercials, and you definitely have a recipe for a disaster in the making.

So who could blame a group of lawyers doing something about it?

After the latest stunt of Colt 45 in advertising their new Blast brand of malt energy drinks, seventeen lawyers banded together and made a move to stop its sale. Blast is a new kind of malt beverage, with fruity and tasty flavors, and a marketing strategy that featured Snoop Dogg. While it is touted to be an energy drink, Blast is also noted for having an unusually high amount of alcohol in it. A 12-ounce bottle contains 12% alcohol, which is equivalent to about one and a half bottles of beer. That would make almost at the same level as table wine, which also has an alcohol content along those levels.

Such a large level of alcohol in a drink is a point of concern. But the main point here is that people should know how to drink responsibly. Not only that, people who sell these drinks should also know who they should be selling in the first place. One look at the commercials, the posters, and the banners featuring the rapper holding an ice-cold bottle of Blast, and it is a definite recipe for disaster. It only shows how irresponsible marketers can be as long as they meet sales targets.

Drinking is not that bad at all. It is drinking without restraint that messes up the picture. Unfortunately, this is precisely what Blast’s message is trying to convey. What makes things even worse is that it encourages younger people to take a sip, or totally go into a binge. Either ways, it would still not be good.

Alcoholic beverages laced with stimulants like caffeine can cause negative side-effects. Excessive intoxication, poisoning, and brain damage are just some of the things one might get from this. This should be in the minds of people whenever they think of buying a can.

Go ahead and have a drink. But please, please, do not drink too much.

How Companies Can Engage Food Bloggers

Food Blogger (Image via

Blogging has become one of the most popular ways for people to express themselves online. The topics can be about different things, from pet care, cars, or even about food. The topics that can be covered by bloggers are endless, and the number of people reading them is also a number that cannot be ignored.

With the volume of people reading blogs every day, it is only natural for companies to start paying attention. Blogging can be a very promising avenue for them to promote their business, as well as to keep in touch with the public. That is why it pays for them to get in touch with bloggers who can effectively promote their offering.

A good example would be food products.

Despite the backlash against them, bloggers are a veritable source of information when it comes to food-related projects. For example, a company project with food bloggers called ThinkFood. This is a cook book project which features dishes that focus on improving the functions of the brain. What makes this project unique is that all the recipes featured come from those submitted by various bloggers. This is a good example of an active collaboration between food bloggers and companies.

There are also other company projects that need the voice of food bloggers. Remember, the Julie/Julia blog, where a woman challenged herself to cook Julia Child’s food each day for a year? The publishers of the late Child’s cook books benefited quite a bit from the publicity brought on by that blog.

This is also the same thing when it comes to restaurants and other dining places. Bloggers can be very good promoters. Restaurateurs should contact bloggers who have given them positive reviews, send a thank you note and offer a follow-up. Perhaps an interview or a guest blog post. This would allow the restaurant to continue pushing on the positive review. Said restaurants should also push positive reviews by linking to them on their website, tweeting about it and posting them on their Facebook pages. Such is the power of the written word, especially if it is penned by popular or prolific food writers. Food blogging is an activity that brings a whole new dimension to promotions, market entry, and establishment of new relationships.

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2009

Pascal Jolivet sancerre 2009

Pascal Jolivet sancerre 2009I was craving something fresh and lively and decided to blind order a Sancerre. My local wine shop delivered the Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2009. Sancerre is one of the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) located in the Loire Valley. This area is known mostly for its Sauvignon Blanc grape. Sauvignon Blanc from this area is called Sancerre. Sancerre has a long history as the area was one of the original AOC’s. As a rule, Sancerre is a fuller bodied white with high acidity and minerality.

I had an idea that I was going to like this wine as soon as I poured it into my glass. It had a bright yellow color with warm hues. This Sauvignon Blanc was quite tasty. On the nose it was lemony and herbal (in a good way). On the mouth, the wine was crisp with a bright acidity. There was almost a tarragon character to the wine that I was not expecting. The wine would be perfect with crab or perhaps a Chevre salad.

Retail price : $23.99

Ron de Jeremy: Rum

Ron Jeremy Rum

Ron Jeremy RumI just watched the most entertainingly disturbing video (video at the end of the post). It was a video advertising Ron Jeremy’s new Rum: Ron De Jeremy. I don’t care how good this rum is…I think I’ll skip drinking Jeremy’s “Ron”.

For those of you a bit more adventurous than I am…here is some info on Jeremy’s libation (according to their website):

Ageing and Appellation: 7-year old Panamanian Rum.

Color: Light amber color with copper hues.

Aroma: oak, fruit and spices.

Palate: smooth with hints of vanilla and raw sugarcane. Elegant and long finish (maybe like Ron?)

Distiller: 72-year old Cuban Master Distiller Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez.



E La Carte: The Next Wave in Dining


It seems like our waiters are getting a boost in their jobs (or end up losing them).

That is how E La Carte system is working.

E La Carte is a revolutionary ordering device that can enhance the dining experience of people. It is a small, iPad-like device that displays the restaurant’s menu on a touch screen. All you have to do is tap on the picture of your selected menu, press confirm, and the order will be sent directly to the kitchen. E La Carte will even tell you how long you have to wait for your order. During that time, you could try playing around with its games, or chat with your friends until your meals arrive.

Paying for your order also becomes hassle-free. If you plan to split the bill evenly with your pals, then you can have the device calculate that. It could also calculate your individual orders if you want to pay for yourself. Since it has a swiping terminal on the side, you could make payments effortlessly. Tipping the waiter is also not a problem, since the screen displays how much tip you can pay, from 15% upwards.

While these devices are only available in twenty restaurants around Boston and San Francisco, there is a big possibility for it to expand to cover more. It has the potentials in increasing revenue, as well as improving efficiency in service. It could spell bad news for our waiters (who are the traditional ones to take orders), since the device might take their place, but it could also serve as an extra tool at their disposal.

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Over Kraft, Hormel Fat-Free Claims


South Carolina based Attorney Aaron Mayer has filed a class-action lawsuit against Oscar Mayer (owned by Kraft Foods) and Hormel Corporation, alleging that both companies have misled consumers by advertising deli meat as 98% fat free.

The case was filed in the US District Court Tampa Florida division on behalf of Brad Kuenzig and others. Mayer says he filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Tampa father who realized by looking at the back label, the meats were fattier than the front label advertised. Mayer says that practice is tricky and misleading.

“We know the labels were designed to sell these products. That they hope and expect consumers to rely on the claims they make on the labels,” Mayer said.

The labels are prominently displayed on the front of Oscar Mayer and Hormel lunch meat packages, claiming 95%, 97% and 98% fat free meats. “Often times it’s ten times as fat as they claim them to be. That’s why we filed the lawsuit,” Mayer said.

“If you turn the product over and look at the calories from fat, it says of those 50 calories, ten calories come from fat. You divide ten by 50 or double 50 and get 100 and figure out 20 calories from fat, and you see it’s 20% fat,” Mayer said.

Sydney Lindner, Kraft’s associate director, corporate affairs, told FoodNavigatorUSA: “This lawsuit is unfounded. We stand behind the statements on our labels, which are true and clear. What’s more, these labels are regulated and approved by the USDA prior to use. Our packaging contains information about calories from fat in the Nutrition Facts panel, under the Amount Per Serving section.

Mayer says the front label claim is the cause for concern. “USDA rules do require to disclaim how they’re making that claim, which none of them are doing,” Mayer said.

Mayer wants customers to be compensated if they bought the lunch meat because they thought it was low fat. He also wants both companies to change their labels. He says the lawsuit has nothing to do with anyone who became overweight or obese by eating the lunch meat.

Kraft’s claim that their labels are regulated and approved by the USDA is pure comedy, since most savvy consumer advocates know US corporate food giants like Kraft are allowed to regulate themselves by design. Millions in corporate lobbying dollars are used to shape food policies favorable to corporations via US regulating agencies like the FDA and USDA.

But Kraft and Hormel aren’t the only companies guilty of misleading consumers with confusing and deceptive food labels. Every food item down the grocery isle uses confusing nutritional labels. In addition to terms like 98 percent fat-free, there’s terms like low fat, reduced fat, low saturated fat, or trans fat-free.

There is really no such thing as “fat-free”. Even vegetables and fruit contain some fat. For example, spinach has 0.3 grams fat and apples have 0.6 grams fat per 100 grams.

The claim “fat-free” is typically used to identify foods containing less than 0.5 grams of fat, or less than 1/2 gram of fat per per serving. But fat-free doesn’t mean calorie free. Foods labeled fat-free contain calories from carbohydrates or protein.

Westville Restaurant Chelsea NY

Turkey Burger and Smokey Macaroni and Cheese

Once a month, or at least mostly once a month, I get together with my besties from high school (Carla and Jerry). Jerry works in Chelsea and always knows the best places to visit. For our April monthly dinner, Jerry suggested we try Westville…Carla and I gladly obliged.

Westville is a tiny little place in the middle of West 18th Street. It is brightly lit, cozy and welcoming. We checked out the menu and selected wine, their BTG selection is not great, but good enough for a small place. A glass of Bordeaux costs around $9, not bad.

Westville Restaurant NYC

Westville had a great menu for appetizers, it was one for $5 or 4 for $15. We started off with the appetizers: beets with goat cheese, asparagus with Parmesan cheese, Brussel sprouts and sweet potato fries. Every dish on this plate was sinful. The sprouts were done in a delicious mustard sauce, the asparagus was perfectly cooked. No complaints with the beets. Sweet potato fries I did not touch, but Jerry and Carla raved about them.

Westville Restaurant NYCIf you are a more frequent reader, you know that I have a thing for Macaroni and Cheese, it is the food item that made me a foodie and the food item I obsess about. If there is mac on the menu, I must order it. The restaurant offered a smoky mac and cheese (with optional bacon) at $7. This time my excuse was that we all share it. When it arrived we all agreed that was quite delectable. The mac was cellentani pasta: long, corkscrew shaped pasta; slightly ridged for maximum cheese hold. This was a delicious dish. I could have used a bit more cheese, but I’m kinda greedy when it comes to mac.

It was a pleasure to find a restaurant with a heavy vegetable focus. It was a pleasure to order those vegetables and have them taste absolutely sinful. Our bill came out to about $80 in total, we brought it to $100 with tip and split the bill three ways. I would recommend this restaurant as an affordable option for a get together with friends. It is quiet enough to have great conversation, the service was good but not noticeable and the price is definitely right.

Westville Chelsea 246 W18th Street, New York, NY 10011