Nick & Toni’s Cafe, NYC

After being part of “The Chew” television show audience, we went to lunch at Nick & Toni’s Café in NYC.  It’s located on the same street as the studio, making it very convenient post the show – and only a 3-minute walk.  I found the restaurant on Yelp!

Nick & Toni's Cafe, NYC

Nick & Toni’s Cafe, NYC

The restaurant is an offshoot of the East Hampton, NY parent establishment.  The walls are decorated with beautiful hand-painted frescos.  There’s a wood-burning oven for the lunch menu pizzas.

Upon entering we were immediately seated at a table in the restaurant’s center and were quickly greeted by the wait staff.  The menu is a collection of predominantly Italian food, but you can find a burger and fries.

After some contemplation, I ordered the roasted chicken salad upon recommendation from the waiter.  He mentioned that his favorites are the wood-fired pizzas, the oven-roasted chicken and this salad.  I was not disappointed.  It had shredded, roasted chicken, butternut squash, greens and pomegranate seeds with a lemon vinaigrette.  The portion was a good size.

Roast Chicken Salad - Yum!

Roast Chicken Salad – Yum!

Sue ordered the pollo (chicken) Panini.

Pollo Panini with side salad

Pollo Panini with side salad

Gayle, Katie and Terri opted for the hand-cut pappardelle pasta.  Everyone commented that their meals were very tasty.

Hand-cut Pappardelle

Hand-cut Pappardelle

 

We opted to take a look at the dessert menu.  Why not?! We were on a “treat yourself day” and we knew we had a 2+ mile (about 1 hr.) walk back to Grand Central train station.

The dessert menu had several yummy choices.  We ordered the spiced pumpkin cake, Moscato poached pear and the Tartufo.

Moscato Poached Pear with almond cake and ginger pastry cream

Moscato Poached Pear with almond cake and ginger pastry cream

Each dessert’s presentation was beautiful.

Spiced pumpkin cake

Spiced pumpkin cake with bourbon gelato

I tasted each one.  My favorite was the Tartufo.  I loved the combination of chocolate and hazelnut gelato with the caramel truffle and almond biscotti crumbs.

Tartufo had chocolate & hazelnut gelato with caramel truffle and almond biscotti crumbs

Tartufo had chocolate & hazelnut gelato with caramel truffle and almond biscotti crumbs

It’s a quaint neighborhood restaurant located near Lincoln center, but non-touristy.  Overall, it was a very nice experience.

 

Have you ever eaten at either of Nick & Toni’s restaurants?

What are your favorite restaurants to eat at when you’re in New York City?

My Day at “The Chew”

Last Thursday, I took the train to NYC with some girlfriends to be part of “The Chew” television show audience.  I received the tickets through an online inquiry.

The Chew audience line at ABC studios

The Chew audience line at ABC studios

We were seated in the top row in the general audience section, directly behind the tasting counter.

Here we are in our seats waiting for the show to begin!

Here we are in our seats waiting for the show to begin!

We had a perfect view of the set.  We were amazed at how many crew members are needed to make one episode of the show.  There were about 50 people on the set at any time – no exaggeration!

The Chew set

The Chew set

The warm-up comedian, Reggie, informs you of how the show flows and the audience expectations (i.e., when to clap, laugh).  He also introduces you to the show’s co-hosts.

Clinton Kelly is a doll and was very personable with the audience.

Clinton Kelly

Clinton Kelly

Carla Hall is a ball of energy – never stops moving – and comes to dance with the audience on scene breaks, which was a hoot!

Carla Hall

Carla Hall

This was Daphne Oz’s last show before her maternity leave. Each co-host took a guess at the baby’s sex at the show’s end.  I’m thinking girl.

Daphne Oz

Daphne Oz

Mario Batali was true to his signature style – shorts, orange Crocs and the ponytail.  His father was of Italian ancestry from Abruzzo, Italy — just like me!  Michael Symon was absent on the day of our visit.  They mentioned he was at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, defending his burger title.

The show’s theme was, “Rockin’ Casseroles.”  Each host participated in one cooking segment, making a creative casserole dish.  The recipes are posted on The Chew’s website.  Carla and Clinton even had a cook-off!  You’ll have to watch the show to see who wins.

Actress Rosie Perez was the celebrity guest.  She cooked manicotti with Mario and discussed her new book – which we each received a copy.

Actress Rosie Perez was the celebrity guest.

Actress Rosie Perez was the celebrity guest.

We all had a great time and in addition to receiving Rosie’s book, we also were given a Diamond Almond Milk prize package that included samples, coupons and a $100 gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond.  We were very excited about the prizes!!!

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Set your DVR for March 3 to catch our television debut.  We are seated in the top row, directly behind the tasting counter.  The camera caught us from several angles.

Catch our television debut on March 3, 2014.

Catch our television debut on March 3, 2014.

I had never been part of a television audience.  I was completely star-struck seeing the co-hosts up close.  I had a great time and would definitely go again.

Chew photo 4

Do you watch The Chew?  Be sure to watch it on March 3!

Have you ever been part of a television show audience?

Valentine Inspired Food Demonstration

As I’ve mentioned, I enjoy all things about food – and that includes food adventures!

I’m always looking out for events where I can learn more about food, chefs and restaurants.

Over the weekend, I attended a Valentine-inspired food demonstration at O’live a Little specialty gourmet shop at the Shoppes in Evergreen Walk, South Windsor, CT. I found out about it from the Evergreen Walk’s website.  It was listed under events.  So I signed up to attend with my daughter.

I had never been to this shop before, but know of it from my travels to the plaza.  Upon entering I knew I would like it because a sign reading, “Who doesn’t love an Italian” topped the front display.

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O’Live a Little, Evergreen Shops in South Windsor, CT

The store’s staff quickly greeted us and made us feel very welcome.  She explained that the shop carries over 50 varieties of extra-virgin olive oils (EVOO) and vinegars, in addition to a variety of salts, spices, specialty pastas and various kitchen items.

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The olive oils and vinegars are on tap in large metal containers.  You can taste any of them.  And if you decide to purchase, it’s freshly bottled on site!

The store sells over 50 varieties of oils and vinegars

The store sells over 50 varieties of oils and vinegars

Our food demonstration began with Chef Beth, a pastry chef and master farmer, discussing how to bake with olive oil. She quickly mixed up a short cake with one of the oils and put it to bake for tasting later.  She then began showing us how to poach pears.

Chef Beth shows us how to poach pears

Chef Beth shows us how to poach pears

As those items were cooking, Chef Tyler, an executive sous chef at La Casa Bella restaurant in South Windsor, took over.  He began showing us how to garnish strawberries into roses, julienne beets for a salad and blending different oils and vinegars for each of the dishes he prepared.

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At the end of the demonstration, both chefs offered us samples of the dishes made:  flank steak crostini with shaved Asiago cheese; espresso and pink pepper berry marinated pork tenderloin, a mixed greens salad with roasted beets and feta cheese; and strawberry shortcake with chocolate covered cherry balsamic drizzle.  Every item was delicious.

Strawberry shortcake with chocolate-covered cherry balsamic

Strawberry shortcake with chocolate-covered cherry balsamic

We walked around the store with the staff highlighting the oils used in the food demonstration.  I chose to purchase a sampler that included oregano-infused EVOO, chocolate-dipped strawberry balsamic vinegar, pomegranate balsamic vinegar and Sicilian orange-infused EVOO.  My head is spinning thinking of all the great dishes I can make with these oils and vinegars.  Chef Beth suggested the orange-infused EVOO would be good with seafood. I can’t wait to try it with seared scallops.

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Before leaving I learned that the store offers in-store tasting parties.

Hmmm, maybe something to consider with the cookbook book club group…

Have you ever been to an olive oil tasting?

Zucchini Ratatouille

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a big proponent for “Eating Local.”  Three plus years ago, I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with a local farm that’s 2 miles from my house.  I love figuring out what to do with my shopping bag of “fresh from the farm” produce.

Zucchini is a vegetable you get a lot of throughout the Connecticut growing season.  And because of its abundance, sometimes you run out of ideas to make with it.

Here’s a recipe for zucchini ratatouille – quick and easy enough for any level of cook.   Don’t be scared by the word “ratatouille.” It’s just French for vegetable stew. Besides, if a humanlike rat can make it, you can too.

Zucchini Ratatouille

Zucchini Ratatouille

Zucchini Ratatouille:

3 small zucchini & summer squash (combination of the two) halved lengthwise and sliced

1 medium onion halved and roughly chopped

2-3 tsp. olive oil

1 can (14.5 oz.) diced canned tomatoes, drain some of the liquid

1/2 cup chopped fresh (about 10 large leafs)

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp. capers, drained (option, but gives unbelievable flavor)

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sauté until tender. Add zucchini & squash and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, capers, parsley and basil. Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

I pair it with grilled chicken breasts as a side dish. It can also be an entree when served over pasta, rice, risotto or couscous.

Serves 4-6.

Welcome to JuliEdible!

Julie copyAbout me…

Welcome to JuliEdible! – a creative name my daughter developed.

It’s a place for me to share my thoughts and experiences about all things food – recipes, restaurants, daily cooking experiences and food adventures.

In a nutshell, I’m a wife, mom, published freelance food writer, beach lover, and CT native with a 100% Italian heritage.  Professionally, I have over 25 years of marketing, product development and communications experience in Fortune 500 health care and financial services companies.

I invite you to follow me in my foodie footsteps!