Tag Archives: New York

Pinch me and tell me this is for real!

If I rattle off the following words in no particular order – lucky, amazing, beautiful, incredible, unbelievable, memorable, special – does it conjure a certain visual imagery for you? For me, it is these words along with the Hindi word  “kismat” that sum up how I felt last Saturday night walking out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City.  It was almost a “Cinderellaesque” moment, except I wanted the night to linger on as I descended the steps of the Met and got into my cab to head back home.

So what was it that led me to this happy, blissful state?  First and foremost it was clearing a wait list to take part in an event.  Not just any event, but one that brought together Madhur Jaffrey, the prolific actress, chef, and writer with Yotam Ottolenghi, the man whose recipes I’ve been creating joyfully in my kitchen since discovering him during our time in the UK.  These two stalwarts were coming together with Floyd Cardoz, yet another luminary on the Indian food scene to host a “Feast of India” at the Met.  Tickets had been sold out since April and yet through some magnificent stroke of luck, I cleared the waiting list a few days before the event.   Not only did I come beaming ear to ear, but lady luck blessed me with front row seats where I sat within arm’s length of my beloved chefs and next to their families and the curators of the event.  And that was just the kick off to a brilliant evening that had me pinching myself in disbelief at every turn.

Since the lavish evening banquet was in conjunction with the brilliant photography exhibit Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, the event was kicked off by the talented Mia Fineman, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs at the Met who spoke eloquently about Raghubir Singh’s talents, a topic that was deftly woven into the discussion on vibrant  food and flavors throughout the evening.

As dishes from the north, south, east and west of India were brought out family style and the audience dug in, Yotam embarked on a Q&A with Madhur, asking questions about each dish and Madhur waxing eloquence in fluid prose with a little story and factoid on each dish followed by a video that demonstrated the dish being prepared.  Periods of audience silence were followed by animated chatter where each of us tried to pick our favorites.  Over the course of two hours, Yotam and Madhur paired up playfully to take the audience on a beautiful journey through the tastes of the Indian landscape. From bhelpuri to aloo parathas, pesarattu to jhalmuri, the food straddled the line between familiar and unfamiliar tastes.

As someone who can talk, eat, dream and cook food around the clock, I was just latching on to every word that came from Yotam and Madhur and truly had my fangirl moment when I got to speak to each of them and take pictures too! Floyd Cardoz who supervised the kitchen and was the vision behind the food served talked at the end about his experience creating bolder flavors for the American palate.  He affirmed that the world of bold, bright, deep flavors is here to stay and the world has shifted to a more adventurous mood in terms of food and eating habits.

It is incredibly hard to take a country like India with its kaleidoscope of colors, emotions, people, and flavors and bottle it into a two-hour experience, but the event curators at the Met really did a beautiful job of making the most of this enriching, informative, delicious event.

I’m still basking in the glow of happiness, recreating the evening in my head and trying to source the perfect green chickpeas that as a seasoned Indian and a decent cook I had never tasted in my life till the Met opened my eyes!

!

 

 

Funk and Waffles: Taking College Breakfasts to the Next Level

By Rohan:

Funk and Waffles is more than off the beaten path. In order to get to this Syracuse University favorite, you have to cross through a mini-mall and go down a set of hidden concrete stairs. But what lies on the other end of this voyage is definitely worth the trip.

This little dive has been serving Syracuse students for years, and after months of hearing about it, I just had to try it out. I grabbed a few friends and we decided to go for breakfast before a long day of work and classes (a la Friends).

The decor is perfect for a college eatery. Bright colored chairs, plenty of seating, and funky artwork adorn the walls. There is a stage off to one corner of the restaurant, where open mic-nights and poetry readings take place every now and then. It brings yet another sense of community to the campus. Here you’ll see everything from friends reuniting over piping-hot waffles to groups working on projects in one of the restaurant’s booths. The music that plays in the diner matches its quirky name. Everything from Aretha Franklin to Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead to The Beatles. Funk and Waffles certainly knows how to bring spunk to a campus that is known for freezing over in the winter.

Oh, and did we mention they serve some of the best waffles around? Their buttermilk waffle with powdered sugar and hot maple syrup might make your taste buds go crazy, but their menu surpasses any other breakfast joint I’ve been to in recent history. Toppings ranging from strawberries, blueberries, Nutella, chocolate chips, Oreo cookies, spinach, artichoke, mushrooms, bacon, basically anything that can be put on a waffle will be put on a waffle at this quirky eatery. They have a large espresso bar and certainly know how to make a killer latte. If you need something to cool you down (which would be surprising considering upstate New York’s brutal winters), they also have great smoothies and juices made from fresh fruit.

IMG_0005 (1)

If you’re in the Syracuse area, be sure to give Funk and Waffles a try. Their atmosphere, food, charm, and servers will win you over in a heartbeat. To get there, cross through Marshall Square Mall and you’ll see signs pointing to that infamous stairwell.

For more information on Funk and Waffles, visit http://funknwaffles2.blogspot.com/

Empire Brewing Company: Family-Friendly Pub Fare in Downtown Syracuse

By Rohan:

On a Sunday afternoon, the streets of Syracuse’s Armory Square are pretty quiet. The intersection between Clinton and Franklin street appears to be a ghost town. But enter the Empire Brewing Company, a quaint brewery themed to the sights and sounds of New York City, and even on a late afternoon, the pub atmosphere is packed with locals and visitors alike.

Despite resembling a typical New York City pub, the Empire Brewing Company has a menu that spans several continents. Enjoy a spicy but flavorful Moroccan Chili for an appetizer before savoring delicious pastas, mouth-watering burgers, and fantastic Mediterranean flat breads as a main course. The portions here are enormous (and can be a little pricey, especially for college students like myself), so we recommend bringing a friend along to share.

Moroccan Chilli
Moroccan Chilli

At first, we were afraid that Empire would not offer vegetarian options, as most pub menus feature burgers, sausages, and other carnivore-friendly dishes. Empire not only has an extensive collection of vegetarian entrees and appetizers, but the dishes are so flavorful that friends on campus say they prefer to go meatless at this hopping Syracuse pub.

Roasted Pasta Siena
Roasted Pasta Siena

Lastly, Empire’s dessert options are typical American sweets, mixed with Creme Brulee and other international favorites. Although I have never had dessert at Empire, I am told it tastes just as good as the rest of their offerings.

Perhaps the best part of the Empire Brewing Company is its atmosphere. There is almost always live music ranging from country to traditional rock and roll, and the artifacts hanging around the pub are eye candy to say the least. The pub celebrates New York City, but also has decorations that show the overall culture of the state of New York. Paintings of Syracuse’s Landmark Theater as well as old maps of the Syracuse University campus can be found hanging on the pub’s wooden walls. With colorful decorations and plenty of flat screen TVs for sports games, the brewery can easily be considered a family-friendly restaurant.

We recommend checking out the Empire Brewing Company in Armory Square. For more information, check out their website at http://www.empirebrew.com/