Last week I was looking for a fun place to go for happy hour with some friends, particularly one with some food and drink specials that didn’t look like a college fraternity party just swooped in with beer and peanut shells on the floor. I found Barmarche, a lovely little fusion place on the corner of Spring Street and Elizabeth Street in the heart of Nolita.
When we arrived around 5 pm, it was still a bit early so the place wasn’t crowded at all. The waiter immediately greeted us and offered the best seat in the house at a corner nook near the window. The interior was impressive with its crown moldings around the bar and windows, its antique chandeliers and whitewashed tin ceilings – almost a bit fancy for my taste, but charming all the same. The tables were donned with small votive candles, and the music and dim lights gave it a cozy, romantic ambiance – like the bistros you would find on the streets in Paris.
The happy hour drink menu had a great selection of $6-7 wines, bubbly and cocktails, and offered a variety of Italian, French, Mediterranean and Mexican small plates to choose from.
We shared the bacon hummus which was absolutely delicious – smooth and creamy, topped with chunky bacon and whole chickpeas, lemon and parsley, served with a side of homemade crispy tortilla chips. (It tasted a whole heck of a lot better than the picture looks too – the lighting wasn’t ideal for shooting!)
Popcorn Shrimp w/ Chipotle Aioli
The popcorn shrimp was nice too – it came out steaming hot with a crispy, light batter (similar to tempura) and was served with a spicy chipotle aioli for dipping on the side. More nibbles on the menu included mixed olives, charcuterie and cheese, spicy guacamole, salads and calamari. If you want more of a meal for happy hour, they also offer shrimp or bass taquitos or a classic grass-fed beef cheeseburger and frites. The dinner menu offers the same small plates and salads but with a larger selection, and also includes entrees such as Truffle Shrimp Risotto, Roast Chicken, Rib Eye Steak and Frites, or Mediterranean Branzino served over sauteed greens.
Overall I was pleased, but think it might be a nicer place for a romantic dinner or cocktail brunch on the weekend than for happy hour with friends.
Barmarche is open for brunch from 10 am to 4 pm on weekends, mid-day from 4 pm to 6:30 pm on weekends, happy hour from 5 pm to 6:30 pm everyday (except Saturday), and dinner from 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm Sunday through Thursday and through 12:30 am on Friday and Saturday.
View the happy hour menu.
View the dinner menu.
Make a reservation online.
14 Spring Street (at Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10012
On Labor Day weekend I fell in love. With Martha’s Vineyard, that is. And an amazing clam chowder from a famous little place called The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven on the harbor. The Black Dog’s story began in 1971 on the beach in Vineyard Haven when Captain Bob Douglas opened an 88 seat restaurant named for his beloved black dog. The tavern has grown from a small island haunt to a nationally renowned restaurant with stores and merchandise branded in the Black Dog Tavern name. No trip to the Vineyard is complete without a meal at The Black Dog, especially to try their infamous Quahog Chowder that’s been on the menu since 1971!
Quahogs are hard shell clams, different from soft shell clams, otherwise known as “steamers”. This recipe is from The Black Dog Summer on the Vineyard Cookbook that I acquired on my recent trip. It is fairly easy to make, and a little more time consuming if you are using fresh clams but totally worth the effort for that fresh flavor. It’s rich and creamy, has a touch of thyme and paprika and lots of delicious clams, potatoes, celery and onion making it the perfect chowda’ for a Fall afternoon.
Serve with crusty bread, oyster crackers or croutons and a glass of white wine or a locally brewed ale. Now all you need is the gorgeous view of Martha’s Vineyard harbor to make it a true New England experience! (p.s. I’m moving there – someday!) Oh, and stay tuned for the full report and photos of my Boston and Martha’s Vineyard Labor Day weekend trip. More foodie fun to come! Enjoy. ~AG
2 oz salt pork, rind removed (or 8-10 slices of bacon, diced)
2 c diced onion
1 c diced celery
3 c diced potatoes
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 c shelled quahogs with juice – 6 lbs in shell (or use jarred whole baby clams)
1/2 c salted butter (1 stick)
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 qts. light cream (or 1 qt heavy cream + 1 pint half and half)
Dice the salt pork or bacon and saute in a large pot until translucent. If using bacon, saute over high heat until cooked through, then drain fat except for 2 tbsp. and return to the pot. Add the onions and celery and saute for 5 minutes.
Pour in about 1 1/2 cups of the clam juice and add the potatoes and seasonings. Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When it is bubbling, add the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. This is called a “roux”.
Roughly chop the quahogs, reserving any liquid (if you use whole baby clams you can skip this step).
When the potatoes are tender, add the quahogs to the large pot and simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the roux and continue simmering for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. This is your chowder base.
In a separate saucepan, scald the cream by heating it on high until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Do not boil.
Stir in the hot scalded cream into the chowder base, mix together, and remove from the heat.
At The Black Dog, they serve it topped with croutons and a dollop of butter, accompanied by oyster crackers or crusty bread. Garnish with paprika and enjoy!
Serves 8 to 10.
More Clam Chowder Recipes you may enjoy:
Thick and Creamy New England Clam Chowder – Food.com
Epicurious Clam Chowder Recipe
Dave Lieberman’s Clam Chowder
Pan-seared Scallops and Asparagus
Spring has arrived! It’s my favorite time of year when everything comes alive…flowers are blooming, streets are buzzing, the sun is shining, and the freshest fruits and vegetables are available at the local markets. Asparagus, Strawberries, Avocados – three lovely, seasonal ingredients perfect for a light and refreshing Spring menu. The salad has marinated strawberries in a Strawberry Balsamic Viniagrette, which gives them a sweet, tangy flavor – a perfect complement to the crunchy toasted almonds, bacon and avocado in this delicious spring salad. The Scallops are pan-seared in a roasted garlic chardonnay marinade with a splash of lemon, served with a side of sautéed fresh asparagus. Enjoy!
Pan Seared Scallops with Garlic and Lemon and Sauteed Asparagus
16 Large Sea Scallops
¼ c. Roasted Garlic Chardonnay Marinade (Tavern on the Green)
2 tbsp EVOO
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Lemon Pepper (Trader Joe’s)
1-2 Green Onions, sliced
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt to taste
In a plastic freezer bag, place scallops and ¼ c. marinade and lemon pepper, coat scallops well. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Chop the green onions and parsley and reserve for topping the scallops.
Cut off the ends of the asparagus (tough parts of the stem), rinse and pat dry. In a pre-heated sauté pan over medium-high, sauté the Asparagus in a tablespoon of olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and lemon pepper for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through.
After scallops are done marinating, take them out of the bag and dry off with paper towels. Place them in the same sauté pan, adding remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt and lemon pepper.
Sear the scallops for approx. 2-3 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle scallops with some fresh lemon juice and remove from pan.
Place asparagus and scallops on a plate and garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and a lemon wedge.
Strawberry Avocado Salad
Strawberry, Bacon and Avocado Salad with Toasted Marcona Almonds
1 lb of mixed lettuce
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 ripe avocado, sliced
½ cup of Rosemary Marcona almonds, toasted (Trader Joe’s)
3 green onions, sliced thin
3 tbsp of EVOO
3 tbsp of Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Tavern on the Green)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Slice the strawberries into thin slices and place in a sealable plastic bag with the 2 tbsp Strawberry Balsamic vinegar in the refrigerator, let marinade for about an hour.
Prepare salad dressing, mix olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and mustard together, slowly whisking in oil until it is mixed well and set aside.
Fry bacon in a pan until cooked well and drain on paper towels. Let bacon cool and crumble for salad topping. Set aside.
Rosemary Marcona Almonds and Green Onions
Place almonds in a separate pre-heated medium-sized pan with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt over the nuts. Cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and toasty.
Slice the avocados and green onions.
In a large salad bowl, toss the lettuce and vinaigrette together, mixing well, and top salad greens with the marinated strawberries and sliced avocados.
Garnish the salad with crumbled bacon, green onions, toasted almonds, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
Growing up I always associated food with a sense of comfort, warmth, fulfillment and stability. This is something I attribute to my Mom’s home-cooked meals and nights around the dinner table with my family as we discussed the events of our day, bonded through sharing the heartwarming, delicious meals together and after the meal was done, cleaned the kitchen with our Mom and bonded by watching a television show together before going to bed and getting ready for school the next day. Mom would make Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans, homemade Lasagna with a salad and garlic bread, Grandma’s Beet Soup with homemade Polish potato noodles, or a yummy, savory Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy – these were all of our favorites and also heirloom recipes that were handed down from my grandparents and generations past.
That was a long time ago, or so it seems, and since those days I have lived in numerous cities and another country, and still cherish enjoying good food with good people. But nothing compares to those home cooked meals and the sense of comfort they gave me when I was young – those days gave me a solid ground to stand on for life.
One gloomy, dark day last January, I was cooped up in my tiny New York studio apartment feeling completely miserable from the freezing cold weather and had a serious case of the Winter blues. I felt an undying urge to make a home-cooked meal like Mom used to make to cheer me up and get me out of the dismal mood I couldn’t seem to shake. New York can do that to you sometimes – it is one of the greatest cities in the world, but can also take you to the depths of darkness on those dark, freezing, nasty days in the middle of Winter. That day I decided to go on a quest for Comfort. Something warm. Something cozy. Something heartwarming. Something that would fill my soul and renew my spirit.
My head started spinning, and I immediately felt energized and motivated with this new task at hand. What would cheer me up and transport me back in time? After furiously searching through all of my recipes, I found the perfect remedy to ail my blues – a big whopping batch of luscious Macaroni and Cheese. Not just an ordinary one (like the kind you get in a blue box with packets of dried chemical-laden cheese dust), but one that called for some delicious gourmet ingredients to take this kid-friendly recipe and turn it into a serious pot of adult-sized comfort.
I hopped in a cab to Zabars on the Upper West Side with thrill and anticipation. The freezing rain was coming down sideways and beat against the windows. Once I arrived, I headed straight for the Cheese department and was in my glory with their selection of international cheeses that pierce your nose as soon as you walk in the door. I picked up a creamy Italian Mascarpone, some fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano, a chunk of Gruyere and a block of Fontina. Then I found some fresh garlic, real cream, prime European butter, smoked thick cut bacon and of course, imported Italian pasta and this was a recipe for a mean Mac and Cheese.
I prepped my ingredients and carefully crafted my dish of gourmet deliciousness. The pot was brimming with a melted creamy cheese concoction and I poured the luscious ingredients into my baking dish, watching with anticipation as the warm, savory smells filled my kitchen. After an hour of waiting anxiously to savor my creation, I scooped up the bubbly goodness into a bowl and upon tasting the first bite with its brown crispy crust and tangy creamy cheese, was transported back to a time of comfort and bliss, when I didn’t have a care in the world, a simpler time and place that seemed long gone from today in my stressful, fast-paced city life.
Who cares about the weather, I thought – I had arrived. I was home.
Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese
4 slices of bacon or prosciutto, cooked and crumbled
5 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
cheese, grated, plus ½ cup for cheese sauce
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 ½ tsp Kosher salt
Fresh ground white pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cayenne
1 ½ cups Gruyere or Comte, grated (from 5 ½ ounces)
1 cup Fontina, chopped into small pieces
½ cup Mascarpone
1 ½ cups dry pasta (macaroni, penne or your choice)
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the water into a 3-quart pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cook the bacon or prosciutto, drain and crumble and set aside.
Melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and ¼ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, toss well, and set aside.
Put the remaining three tablespoons butter in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt it over low heat. Add the flour and cook for five minutes, whisking constantly, being careful not to let the flour burn. Pour in the milk and cook for five minutes, whisking or stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the salt, white pepper, Gruyère, Fontina, Mascarpone and ½ cup of Parmesan cheeses, dashes of nutmeg and cayenne, and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce. Add crumbed bacon or prosciutto and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Pour the macaroni mixture into an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approximately 30-35 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley.
Serves 4 as a side dish. For a main course, double the recipe, serve with a green salad and a glass of wine.
Clinton Street Baking Company
Best Brunch in Town! I can’t believe I’ve lived in NYC for over 5 years
and I haven’t tried this amazing little spot on the Lower East Side yet.
Originally opened in 2001 as an artisanal baked goods spot by husband
and wife team Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, this popular brunch spot
has become a favorite among New Yorkers and famous for their blueberry
pancakes and delicious homemade comfort food menu.
Their baked goods spread is impressive, including pies, muffins,
cookies and tarts and the atmosphere is busy and buzzing – a sure
sign of good food in New York City!
My friend and I visited yesterday and despite the long wait had
the best brunch we’ve had in a long time. I ordered the Crispy
Smoked Bacon and Potato Pancakes which were perfectly crisped
to a golden brown and served with a delicious side of homemade
apple sauce and a cinnamon sour cream that complemented the
tart apples and crunchy, golden pancakes.
My friend ordered the Banana Walnut pancakes which were
stacked to the ceiling, topped with sliced fresh bananas and
walnuts and served with a side of warm maple butter to top
the fluffy cakes off. So delicious!
Their menu is well rounded with Breakfast, Sandwiches,
Soups, Salads, Burgers, Pizzas, Quesadillas, as well as a
variety of delicious Main Dishes such as Braised Short Ribs,
Grilled Chicken, Crab Cakes and Shrimp and Grits. They also
serve lunch and dinner (delivery and takeout!), their featured
dish on Wednesdays is Fried Chicken and Waffles! Gotta go
back for those!
They recently released their own cookbook, and make
custom birthday cakes to boot! This place has a comfy
diner-like atmosphere in a hip location with comfort
food to die for. Definitely worth a trip next time you are
in the LES in New York City!
4 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002 | 646.602.6263