Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beaujolais, France - Unique Tour and Fabulous Dinner

Our one full day in the Beaujolais region was spent with Madame Francoise Barbet, coordinated through Jack at Trufflepig.  A lady who emanates boundless knowledge and love for the Beaujolais region, she truly made our day spectacular.  Heck, I think we fell in love with the region just because of Francoise!

Not only did she give us a history lesson of Beaujolais, but we saw with our own eyes how the region is changing, in a sad way.  As Beaujolais wines are becoming less in demand in the market, wine makers are closing shop, and in turn pulling up their vines.  It's a sad thing to see - vacant lots with roots all torn up.  It is a beautiful part of the countryside nonetheless, and we had such a wonderful learning experience getting to taste various types of Beaujolais wines.  It's opened up my eyes to see past the stereotype that Beaujolais wines are 'weaker'.  So. Not. True.  There is a subtle balance to be appreciated, and a blend of delicacy and strength that I imagine must take generations to master.

We had the opportunity to meet one of these families who have been growing grapes and making wine for many generations.  I've learned what a special breed these wine makers are - their profession full of very hard work, and a lot of joy.  On our day with Francoise, she took us to meet the Romy family.  They are such nice people - we met Monsieur and Madame Romy and their son Nicholas.  One of my favorite memories of the trip is tasting their wine with them over an assortment of cheeses. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Beaujolais, France - Even More Wine and Food

Next up after our journey around Beaune was the Beaujolais region, about a 3 hour drive South.  We stopped along little towns along the way, some of which were really teeny tiny.  Each town has its own distinct character, and I'm pleased to say some of my good memories of the trip were just from wandering around and soaking in the beauty of the region.

Putt, putt, putting along the way in our round European car...

We started our morning off making a detour to the town Chagny, where there was a lovely market in the middle of town.  It was here where we saw rows of chacuterie, fresh bread, flowers, cheeses, and vibrant fresh vegetables and fruits.  Locals were milling around carrying baskets or tote bags full of goods.

Impressive assortment of cured meats

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beaune, France - Endless Food and Wine (Part II)

Bonjour mes amis! Picking up from where we left off on Tuesday, let's get through the rest of the delicious local food I had in Beaune, as well as a fabulous wine tour around the Côte d'Or where some of the most expensive wine-producing grapes are grown.

One of our favorite meals of the trip was had at Le Bistro de L'Hôtel, a restaurant attached to L’Hôtel de Beaune in the center of the village.  The service was warm, friendly and attentive.  Even the kitchen staff were waving hello to us while we were sitting at our table! The quality of the food was evident, and flavors were not too heavy or overdone. 

We started off with an amuse-bouche of tuna rolled in poppy seeds with citrus juice, followed by appetizers: seared tuna with poppy and chives, and a fresh tomato salad.  They were all light yet balanced in flavors.  The tomatoes were surprisingly delicious - they were cooked and served chilled.  Sprinkled with basil and crisps, and with a light coating of olive oil, it was like eating bursts of very fresh tomato sauce.

Amuse-bouche: tuna rolled in poppy seeds with citrus juice

Appetizer: Tuna

Appetizer: Tomato salad, so fresh!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beaune, France - Endless Food and Wine (Part I)

Us Piggys have sure been busy circling the globe lately.  Piggy KK is in Asia and I recently returned from my trip to France.  I have so much to share with you! I spent some time soaking in the local culture (wine!) in the French countryside region of Burgundy. We visited some local winemakers, drank wine with them in their cold dark cellars over cheese or potato chips, whatever was their fancy. We drove through lovely villages with rolling fields, soft hills and farms. We walked through a weekend market, and oh the arrays of chacuterie and cheese were to die for! I had some delicious traditional French meals, and go figure, fell in love with snails. After four days, we made our way to Paris. The empty roads, silent nights, and random cows were fun, but I was looking forward to getting back to the hustle and bustle of a city.  I'm definitely a city girl at heart! Paris needs no introduction - a truly beautiful city with magnificent food. It'll take me a couple of posts to get through all of this, so let's start at the beginning!

Set on doing France right this time, we enlisted the help of a trip planning service. Their name itself, Trufflepig, sent our imagination fluttering with what kind of experience they could help us arrange, and they totally lived up to everything we hoped for and more! And seriously, all thanks goes to Jack at Trufflepig, who really knows what he's talking about and has an awesome accent to boot.

Street view in Beaune

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mid-Asia Trip Check In!

Hey fellow piggys!  Piggy KK checking in here - miss me yet??  I've been on the go for over two weeks now and am finally on the last leg of my trip!  So far I've noshed my way through Singapore, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Kaohsiung, Taichung, and am now indulging my way through Taipei!  Only a few days left until this little (or not so little anymore) piggy is officially on a serious diet, so I better get moving to my next culinary adventure before my time runs out.  For now, I'll leave you with some pics of my most recent eats.  See you all back in NYC soon!

Fresh Taiwanese Breakfast!
Mos Burger midnight snackie
Crispy Tofu and fresh shrimp Wonton Soup
Coffee Roll Cake during afternoon tea
Thanks for reading - Piggy KK

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jack's Wife Freda

So many great new spots popping up and I can barely keep up!  I stopped by Jack's Wife Freda in SoHo recently and was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up loving this simple eatery!  Known primarily for its brunch, I decided to give it a go during dinner and I wasn't disappointed.

Cute storefront of the restaurant!
When you first walk in, you'll notice how laid-back and simple it is inside.  Its not fussy nor stuffy and all the staff are super friendly - definitely refreshing find in NYC!

Simple and laid-back setting
The menu is pretty simple but it offers enough to cover all tastes:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spot Dessert Bar

After passing by Spot Dessert Bar on St. Marks for the past couple years, I finally went in and gave it a try!

Located below Pho 32, it may be a little tricky to find Spot Dessert Bar.  But keep a look out for the bright orange sign and follow the stairs down to dessert land!

Look for their orange sign and go down the stairs
It's not a big space, but if you are lucky you'll manage to snag a table without too long of a wait!

Inside of Spot Dessert Bar

Friday, May 11, 2012

El Camion

If there's anything I inherited from my mom, its her love for Mexican food.  On the hunt for my next margarita spot, I stopped by El Camion in the East Village and now I can't wait to share this spot with my mom (and you guys too!). 

El Camion Cantina
With $5 margarita happy hour specials until 7pm on weeknights, I made sure to stop by with enough time to take advantage!  The margaritas come in just about any flavor (including guava, mango, and blood orange amongst others) and either frozen or on the rocks.  I went with the pomegranate margarita on the rocks and dining compadre with with a classic margarita on the rocks.  The pomegranate margarita was so tasty that we both ordered it for our second round of drinks!

Drinks menu
Who doesn't love a margarita?!
With our drinks in hand, we took our time to peruse the dinner menu:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cooking: Quick and Easy "Sushi" Tuna Rolls

I like the think of my mom as the Asian Sandra Lee.  My mother isn't much of a "cooking from scratch" woman, but she's great at finding the quick and easy.

This recipe for "Sushi" Tuna Rolls that I'll be sharing is one my mom saw as part of a demo at her local Korean supermarket. I guess you can't really call this cooking as there is no cooking involved, but its super easy and super tasty.

I made it one day for lunch at work and my coworkers were all intrigued.  And now I can't wait to share with you all!

"Sushi" Tuna Rolls
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: --

Monday, May 7, 2012

Del Frisco's Grille

One of my favorite steakhouses is definitely Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House.  When they opened a more casual spot right in Rockefeller Plaza called Del Frisco's Grille I couldn't wait to give it a try! 

Located right in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza (overlooks the ice skating rink), this restaurant is a welcome choice amongst a see of tourist traps in the area.  Dining campadre and I walked in without a reservation on a Saturday night around 8pm and had no problem snagging a table.  Score!

We were immediately greeted by extremely friendly waiters and presented with our menu.  You can get anything from salads and sandwiches to a classic Del Frisco's steak dinner.  While I wouldn't categorize the Grille as 'cheap eats', its definitely more affordable than Del Frisco's (the steakhouse) and is on par with other restaurants in the area (minus the touristy factor thank goodness). 

Menu at Del Frisco's Grille
If you plan on getting cocktails here, they were served strong and in generous glasses.  You'll definitely get your money's worth should you order a drink!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chili Crab, Beef Noodle Soup, Shaved Ice Galore!

Can't let Piggy KL have all the fun now can we?  Its now my turn for a getaway and I'll be heading to Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia for the next three weeks!

Don't be sad my piggy friends, my belly will be full and I will have much to report when I return!  In the meantime, I've saved some posts to keep you all entertained while I'm away so make sure to keep on stopping by.

And since Asia is 12 or so hours ahead of NYC, I know I'll be battling some crazy jet lag hunger pangs.  This only means that I'll need to pack some snackies to hold me over while I'm adjusting!  Take a look at what's coming with me to keep me running:

My trusty travel snacks!

Okay piggy friends, its time for me to finish packing and get on out of here!  Tata for now! 

Thanks for reading - Piggy KK

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


On the edge of LES and Chinatown, the hidden gem Grotto awaits visitors looking for a great meal.  This space is practically hidden with its sign barely at eye level - I kept walking past the restaurant until the sign finally caught the corner of my eye!  I eagerly took the stairs leading down to the restaurant below street level.

Inside, its a fantastic space with dark wood and an almost speakeasy / 1920's feel.  Although the primary dining room is a touch narrow, it adds to the coziness of the space.  Out back there is a garden area for outdoor dining when the weather is nice.

My blurry picture of the main dining room

The outdoor dining area in the back garden!
There is a cocktail menu as well as a full menu offering antipasti, salads, pastas, and main courses.  After making our selections, I couldn't help but dig into the bread basket.  Loved that there was a variety in terms of bread selection! 

I love bread baskets - esp if there is variety!