Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Argo Tea Cafe

I love finding a good cafe in the city.  My recent go-to spot?  Argo Tea Cafe!  I've stopped by so many times in the last few weeks that I'm now battling for the Foursquare mayorship of the Union Square Argo.

What I love most about this cafe is its focus on tea over coffee (for you java junkies out there - yes they do still offer coffee!).  In addition to the traditional coffee shop lattes and cappucinos, Argo offers over 20 different varieties of tea and several of its own original and creative tea-based signature drinks. Take a look at the menu!
Some of Argo's signature creations - all can be personalized and served cold or hot!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


OH MY GOODNESS.  Can we talk about what an awesome meal I had at Traif?  Maybe it was a recent disappointing experience at another Williamsburg restaurant that set my expectations low.  Maybe it was my hunger calling the shots.  Or maybe it was Traif just being its awesome self (which it was).

Yes, the restaurant is in Williamsburg but I promise you it’s a quick trip.  I consulted my trusty Google maps which said to take the JMZ train to Marcy Ave – first stop in Brooklyn.  While only 2-3 blocks from the station, the location is a bit tricky to navigate so make sure to have a map handy (or access to one on your snazzy phone).  

Entrance to Traif

Traif, which specializes in pork and shellfish dishes (definitely not Kosher here!), changes their menu based upon what’s fresh and in season.  They recommend ordering dishes to share (2-3 dishes per person) so it’s a great opportunity to try different things.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

Baked by Melissa

Still stuffed from Thanksgiving Dinner yet somehow find yourself desperate for a midday snack?  Need to satisfy that sweet tooth but are reluctant to let loose your belt?  Baked by Melissa is the perfect solution for you!
My Red Velvet, Tie-Dye and Cookies & Cream Cupcakes!

Baked by Melissa creates these tiny bite-sized cupcakes in a variety of flavors.  They’re great for when you are looking for a snack, but don’t want to overdo it.  OR it’s perfect for when you can’t decide upon a flavor and want to taste them all!  
Great bite-sized cnack!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Bread and Happy Thanksgiving!

It's my favorite holiday of the year! We have much to be thankful for, especially you - our readers who share our love of all things food.  Sending you wishes to enjoy the day with plenty of food, drinks and loved ones!

In honor of the holiday, here is my mom's recipe to her delicious Pumpkin Bread.  It doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cooking: Honey Glazed Ham

Can you believe that it's already the Wednesday before Thanksgiving?  For those of you still working on your menus for tomorrow, I have a great recipe for you!

My Honey Glazed Ham!!!  Made by myself!

 It's a Honey Glazed Ham.  And it was SUPER easy to make!!  Ok, I'm not a big pork eater but something about this recipe (I do love honey...) was calling for me to make it!  Apparantly, Honey Glazed Hams are popular and commonly ordered for the holidays (my ignorance on meat products is appalling I know...forgive me).  I decided to take the challenge and make my own Honey Glazed Ham for under $20.  Similar to the Cheddar Bay Biscuits I recently made, I picked a recipe from and incorporated some minor adjustments from other reviewers.  Take a look at how simple it is:

Honey Glazed Ham
Recipe adapted from

1 ready-to-eat ham*
1/4 cup whole cloves
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup honey
1/3 cup butter

*I picked a 6 pound pre-cooked/smoked ham.  A cheap supermarket ham works great with this recipe! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cooking: Vegetable Soup

The countdown is on for my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving! You know what that means - coming up is an exorbitant day of gluttony.  YAY! To prepare myself for this feast, I'll try to eat a bit healthier in the days before (hey, I can pretend it'll help right??).  This Veggie Soup is packed full of fresh veggies and is light, yet hearty and healthy.

32 oz. Chicken Stock (can substitute with Vegetable stock)
1 large Tomato, diced
1 package of Extra Firm Tofu, cubed
1 small bunch of Napa Cabbage, chopped roughly
2-3 ears of Corn, shucked
1/2 small Onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 TB Vegetable Oil
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper
Soy sauce, to taste (approximately 1 TB)
Cornstarch (optional) 

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-5

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baking: Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I am obsessed with the Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Red Lobster.  No, I’m not exactly a fan of the place, but I’ll go and sit through a meal there just so I can eat those biscuits!  Am I alone here?

Sadly, living in NYC, I have yet to set foot in a Red Lobster because 1) it’s in Times Square and 2) I’m sure it’s an even bigger rip-off than it is back in the ‘burbs of Jersey.  Yet I desperately crave these biscuits.  No other option but to make something similar myself mmm...

My completed Cheddar Bay Biscuits!  Read on for the recipe

After scouring the web for a good recipe, I settled on the one below from (which is an awesome site btw as they have a recipe for anything you could ever want to make and includes reviews and tips).  I made some Piggy KK adjustments as I went along and, if I do say so myself, made some AWSOME biscuits.  And with Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d be nice and share the recipe…

Part 1: Making the biscuit mix
Adapted from 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale & Greenpoint Brewery Harbor Ale

'Tis the season of pumpkins and especially Punkin Ale! 

Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale is a seasonal ale which has a smooth, easy-drinking, honey-brown flavor and isn't hoppy.  There is a very subtle pumpkin flavor and hints of spice (their label says it contains allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg... yum!).  I'm even enjoying one right now for inspiration as I write this!

Unfortunately, the cat's out of the bag and it's in high demand in pumpkin season, leaving it medal-worthy if you snag some for your own stash. The hubby and I were calling around trying to see if any place had some in stock.  Our hopes were squashed as we kept getting the same answer "Sorry, sold out for the season".  We were about to give up until hubby magically found out it's sold on Fresh Direct! Sure enough we were able to snag 3 4-packs.

Happy happy joy joy! 12 Punkin Ales!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Wondering what I've been eating?  Read on to find out!
 The first time I gave Baohaus a try was at their original location down in LES.  It was a tiny bare-bones shop with barely any seating and no bathroom.  Its prices also made sure that I wouldn’t make the trek down to LES just for a Bao again (even though it was pretty delish).  Fast forward a couple years and Baohaus has now opened an outpost in the Union Square/East village area.  Located less than two blocks away from my apt, Baohaus was screaming for me to give it a re-do. 

The new shop is outfitted with bright blue fluorescent lights – you can’t miss it. 

Baohaus' bright storefront

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fette Sau - Another Piggy's Musings

There is something about BBQ that makes me go to far lengths for it.  Even Brooklyn! Just kidding, Brooklyn is really not far at all hehe.  Piggy KK just posted a review on Fette Sau and I thought I would offer a different experience on it.  Unfortunately it was a big 'Piggy says no!' meal for Piggy KK and her qualms are totally warranted!  Heck if someone actually asked me for a tip I would really wish to not leave one at all.  So rude!

Fette Sau signage via NY Mag (
While we almost always agree on all things food-related, I am sharing a differing opinion just so that you do not completely write-off Fette Sau because I actually had a fantastic time there over the summer!  I actually felt really bad Piggy KK had a bad experience there, because I was one of the people raving to her about it.  I hate when that happens :(

Piggy KK does a great job describing the specifics of how ordering works and the layout of the place, so I'll just give you a quick blurb about my visit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

East Noodle (Ramen and Robatayaki)

The best part of living in Union Square is how close I am to St. Marks.  I have several staples that I usually end up at but occasionally I try to branch out and try something new.  This time I decided to give East Noodle (Ramen and Robatayaki) a try.

Just like every other smart diner, I did a quick search on Yelp for East Noodle before I committed.  Surprisingly, Yelpers gave it a 2.5 star rating!  I usually put full faith in Yelp and would stay away from places with 3 stars or less, but something about the “50% off all ramen” signs (I like a good deal what can I say?) and the bustling atmosphere inside the restaurant encouraged me to take a risk.

Despite the low yelp reviews, East Noodle is moving and shaking inside!

First order of business after being seated: order a $2.50 glass of Sapporo draft.  Score!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cooking: Rosemary Garlic Steak

One of the perks of living in NYC is the endless selection of new restaurants to check out.  The downside, however, is that everything costs moneymoneymoney.  Feeling ambitious, this piggy decided to make her own fancy steak dinner for two, budget style!

One of my favorite food bloggers Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen (recommended to me by Piggy KL!) recently posted a recipe for Rosemary Garlic Steak.  It looked simple enough for me to tackle so I decided to give it a go (with some minor adaptions to the recipe by yours truly).  Let’s see how I did, shall we?

2 Steaks (approx ½ pound per person/steak is what I aimed for)
¼ cup olive oil
6 (or more) cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 sprigs rosemary
Salt and pepper

Step 1: Buying and prepping the steak
The meat department at the grocery store is definitely not an area that I'm comfortable roaming through.  After staring aimlessly at all the different cuts of meat (and trying not to gag), I finally asked someone for help.  The butcher man behind the counter recommended two cuts of grass-fed sirloin steaks.  Or was it NY strip steaks?  Aish I don’t remember…either way it was $16.99 a pound and my mother likes to remind me that I overpaid.  But they were nice and red, lean looking (the way I prefer my meat), and just the size I was looking for.

I prepped the steaks the Steamy Kitchen way: salt the steak like crazy on both sides with Kosher salt for about an hour before cooking. This will help tenderize the meat.  [Steamy Kitchen has a GREAT post here with more info and pics on her steak prep method.]

Prepping the steak - saltsaltsalt!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Drinks @ Zengo

It’s funny how you can work in the same area for years yet still manage to discover new places in the neighborhood.  My friend S recently suggested we go to Zengo for happy hour and, as it turns out, it’s only 2 blocks from my office! 

Zengo, a Latin American/Asian Fusion restaurant, is a stylish space with high ceilings and trendy feel.  They main seating area is spacious and there is a bar both on the main level and upstairs on the second level. 

Zengo Entrace
Inside main dining room area (through the lens of my fuzzy blackberry...)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Smith (Midtown)

Welcome The Smith to MIDTOWN!
I was doing another happy dance when I found out The Smith was opening a location in Midtown!  Yay for more yummy eats coming to my area!  They finally opened their doors a few weeks ago and it's already always packed.

Lots of seating straight ahead...

And also seating on the left!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A couple years back I decided to try and keep only “wholesome” foods in my kitchen.  That sad day I sobbed while throwing out all the ice cream from my freezer.  But let’s be honest…this ice cream lover would never make such a crazed decision without some kind of loophole!  And here it is: if I feel like having ice cream, I better really want it enough to get off my bum, go out, and purchase a scoop (and notice I said scoop – no pint sigh).  Not a problem for me as I have several ice cream shops surrounding my apartment mhuahaha! 
On this particular night, I couldn’t pinpoint which flavor ice cream I was craving.  So I headed to Amorino where you can get as many flavors as you can fit onto your cone (doesn’t matter the size of your cone, as long as it fits)!  Not only does this gelato shop allow you to choose as many flavors as you want, but they also shape your creation into a unique flower design.   
My gelato shaped into a flower!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Class: Cake Decorating Basics (Class #3)

Ta da! The Piggys have graduated from Cake Decorating Basics!!  We even have a snazzy certificate to prove it! Of course, they are hanging proudly on the fridge...

After three classes, the Piggys now know how to pipe a couple of different patterns, ice a cake, decorate it, and pipe an assortment of flowers, yay!  For our last class, we brought in cupcakes to decorate (thank goodness these came out soo much better than our cakes last week - no unfortunate craters or [pan]cakes this time)!

We prepared a couple of different colors of icing and were ready to go.  First things first, we learned how to pipe icing onto our cupcakes in a swirled motion.

Swirling 'round and 'round, just like so...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Blast from the Past: Boston Market!

Now that fall weather has officially arrived, I've been feeling the call of my ultimate hot comfort meal: a simple rotisserie chicken dinner with all the tasty sides and gravy mmmm.  Where to go to satisfy my craving?  None other than Boston Market of course!
My favorite comfort meal: quarter chicken with large helping of buttery mashed potatoes and corn. 
Dont forget the extra gravy!

Growing up in suburbia Jersey, nothing excited me more than seeing my mom bring home dinner in Boston Market bags.  And to be honest, since I'm not a big turkey fan, a Boston Market chicken usually ends up on the table for me every Thanksgiving (don’t judge!). Thus, on this dire quest to fulfill my longing for chicken, seeking out a Boston Market in the city turned into a must do. 

I know what you're thinking - there must be some other option in this city that serves a fabulous rotisserie chicken dinner.  While that may be true, I was really looking for my chicken AND the nostalgic feelings of home and my childhood.  So looks like you’ll just have to bear with me as I wax poetic about my love for Boston Market.  I mean, don’t you guys just have those days where you crave Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory (no need to deny – I know its true!!)??  So, now that I’m done making excuses, off I go to 23rd St and 8th Ave!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pocha 32 (Late Night)

Pocha 32 is the type of place that is best after a night of (heavy) debauchery.  I've never been there before midnight and wouldn't recommend it either... it always seems like an awesome idea at 2am, but not so much the morning after.

Most recently, I happened to stumble in after a night of Halloween festivities.  It's in the heart of K-town and you'll probably have to weed your way through groups of other happy people milling around the countless late-night spots on the same street.  Through Pocha 32's second floor entrance, it looks completely absolutely shady* - loud and very dark with what looks like fish nets hanging from the ceilings.

*Important to note: this is a non-Korean's view of it; this type of dark, no fuss, alcohol-with food-centric place is very common in Korea.

Normal late-night scene inside Pocha 32 (except for the pumpkin and bunny ears which are special for Halloween!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fette Sau

This is my first "Piggy says no" review.  It's sad, but this day had to come eventually.  I hope you allow me to explain why I found my experience so disappointing...

Having heard nothing but glowing reviews about this BBQ place in Williamsburg, Fette Sau quickly moved to the top of my "must try" list.  It’s understood that there is a decent wait during peak times, so my friend R and I decided to give it a go on a weeknight at 6pm (and keeping our fingers crossed that no one else likes to eat at granny times which, btw, I specialize in). 

Upon arrival, we noted that there were only a handful of people in front of us and thought “Score - we beat the rush!”  Oh boy, were we wrong.  The handful of people in front of us turned into a miserable and slow 35 minute wait.  As we made our way to the front, I noticed that the inefficiency was due to the lone guy in charge of putting together your selection of meats.  While I appreciated the love he put into each order, it was frustrating to see three other people milling around behind him just waiting for side orders.  I can assure you, the side orders definitely don’t take nearly as long as the meat.  Isn’t there a more efficient way?  Didn’t anyone take operations management and learn about Just-in-Time systems (sorry, the business school side of me escapes every now and then…)?

The case of meats

Maybe I was just grouchy from a long day of work and hungry from smelling BBQ for the last 35 minutes.  Whatever it was, I decided to put my frustration aside and focus on what I was here for – glorious BBQ.  Lucky for eaters that day, it was the first Thursday of the month and Fette Sau offered “Fat Pig Thursday” where an entire pig is roasted for that night’s meal.  Take a look at the menu:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cooking: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After you carve your pumpkin, you can reward yourself not only with an awesome looking pumpkin, but also pumpkin seeds!

It's super easy and you only need a few ingredients to make these yummy crispy seeds:

Olive Oil
Garlic powder and/or your choice of seasonings

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

After scooping all the seeds out of your pumpkin, rinse them.

In a small saucepan, add 3-4 cups of water, the seeds, and 2 TB of salt.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Class: Cake Decorating Basics (class #2)

Isn’t this such an awesome cake?  Would you believe it if I told you it was made entirely from scratch by Piggy KL?!  Yes its possible because the Piggys are back in [cake] school and getting our learn on again! 
On an early Saturday morning, two sleepy Piggys dragged themselves to their second class of cake school at the NY Cake Academy (if you haven't had a chance to flip through our recap of class #1, you can check it out here).  There may have been some grumps and moans (*ahem Piggy KL*) but once we got settled into our seats the excitement for the day’s lesson turned us into eager students!

Step 1: Prep for class
Class #2 focused on how to ice and decorate a cake.  We had to come to class armed with our Student Kits, icing, and a pre-baked cake ready to go.  Sadly, this was apparently the most challenging part as my cake came out flat as a pancake and Piggy KL’s had a crater in the middle oyy. 
Piggy KL's ready-to-go cake - she flipped it over so that the crater was hidden on the bottom.  Smart girl!