Catskills Part 3: The Things You Do

This last series is dedicated to the many things you can do when you find yourself outdoors.

Looking for trout

The fly collection

After a rock jump…

Nothing like a pink golf ball to tie an outfit together.


canoe ride

the view…

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Catskills Part 2: The Critters You Find

This series is dedicated to several of the beautiful creatures and finds you come across while foraging in the catskills.

A furry friend

Nivale’s bare feet can’t resist the soft, squishy, water-loving nature of moss.. And she’s about to pull out her wand.

Someone’s old home.

Blending right in with the crowd.

Playing with Animals 101: As cute as they are, never touch a fawn you come across. Your scent may cause its mom or other wild deer to reject it.

Crawdad’s at the Colosseum

What a winner…

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Catskills Part 1: The Food You Make

This food series a celebration of several of the many many delicious home-cooked meals we’ve enjoyed in the Catskills, upstate New York…

From a start of summer BBQ at Bearstone…
(Thanks Giacomo & Silvia for hosting!)Sliders overlooking Twin Peaks… perfect sliders and a perfect view.

Mini sliders…  Local beef from the steers raised on the land.

Toasted mini sliders, fresh tomatoes, cheddar, guacamole, and chipotle mayo. Mmmm…

Tom grilling up the steaks..

The steaks accompanied with the secret ingredient — Giacomo’s Chimichurri Sauce.

From the Lightfoot family bakers…

Melissa’s beautiful rhubarb pie!

Assembling the Fruit Tart.  Tip: let the custard filling cool and set in the fridge for a bit before piling it into the crust.

Piedra and Nivale…  hard at work.

Nivale’s fruit tart. What a masterpiece!

hahaha, guess who’s work of art this is?    (Melissa, this cherry pie was made in your honor)

From the experimentation and  ingenuity of Tom, Piedra, Win, Winston, and Su…

Before… Marinating and stuffing the chickens

After: Our delicious chickens, stuffed with tomatoes, onions, garlic…with potatoes baked in chicken jus.  Everything was seasoned with rosemary, thyme, peppers, and a splash of practically every condiment in the kitchen. Crispy on the outside, tender and moist inside. Perfection!

Crispy calamari with lemons, sweet thai chili sauce, and winston’s spicy garlic aioli.

Crispy white and green beans (haricot vert) with a splash of lemon.

Tip for batter: apart from the eggs and flour, add in any spices you find, such as a tablespoons each of garlic powder, paprika, or cayenne pepper, and a teaspoon each of salt and pepper for each cup of flour. And don’t forget, a 12 oz bottle of beer.  It adds a good kick and spice.

Succulent pork loin.

Risotto with tomatoes, squash, and lots of cheese.

Winston, Su, Win, Piedra, and Tom… enjoying our feast!

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Dark Chocolate Strawberries

This delicious recipe is one that’s travelled down the hands of time and of several gourmands who hold their desserts to high standards. Thank you Matt and Piedra!

If you are looking for an easy-to-make, down-to-impress, and definitely delectable dessert/treat, these Dark Chocolate Strawberries are a must.


  • 25-35 large strawberries (long stem if possible, for ease of dipping)
  • 4 bars dark chocolate (lindt and ghirardelli are recommended)
  • 3 bars milk chocolate (1 to lighten the dark chocolate used to drip, and 2 for decorative drizzle at end)
  • Wax/parchment paper
  • Cookie Trays
  1. Wipe strawberries with a damp paper towel
  2. (you CANNOT wash the berries because some residual water will remain on the berry and prevent the chocolate from adhering well.)

  3. Break all of the dark chocolate and one of the 2 milk chocolate bars into small pieces and place them in a microwave-safe bowl.
  4. Microwave the chocolate for 20 seconds then stir. Microwave again for 20 seconds, and stir again. Continue to microwave in bouts of 10 seconds with stirring in between each bout until chocolate is just smooth.
  5. (It is important not to overheat the chocolate. When chocolate rises above 88-ish degrees, the coco butter separates out and causes the chocolate to “bloom.” This blooming, although not overly harmful to taste, causes white swirls of coco butter to form on the surface of the drying chocolate. In addition, hotter chocolate will take longer to dry.)

  6. Dip berries by holding onto stem if present or leaves.
  7. Shake off excess chocolate (I find that this takes about 2-3 seconds per berry).
  8. Do not refrigerate, for this could cause the chocolate to bloom. Instead, set the berries in a cool place.
  9. This final step is purely decorative. Melt the final 2 milk bars (because there are only 2, they will take less time in the microwave). Using either a spoon or an undipped strawberry, drizzle the milk chocolate over the dried chocolate covered strawberries. This can also/additionally be done with white chocolate.
  10. *The steps are the same for purely milk chocolate or white chocolate berries.

    And Voila!  Time to indulge.

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Frying Pan

On a hot New York summer day, this is exactly where you want to be — at the Frying Pan, sitting around a big table with friends overlooking the Hudson river, sipping on bucketfuls of corona, listening to live music.

It gets packed quick, so my best piece of advice to you: Get. There. Early.

The Frying Pan comes with a cool history too — it was a lightship off the coast of North Carolina between 1929 and 1964. (Lightships are essentially mobile floating lighthouses, used by the Coast Guard to guard other ships from running into obstacles that are too far away from a lighthouse to be seen). It sank and remained submerged in the Chesapeake Bay for 3 years before being rescued, restored, and finally brought to New York in the 80’s.

As a reminder of this history, the Frying Pan has kept all its quirky seafaring details intact — the interior is barnacle-crusted, littered with coarse welding, strange metal statues, huge cords of rope strewn on deck — all the wonderful imagery you associate with sunken ships. It’s even got two smaller boats docked to its side. (its usually easier to get seats on these smaller boats).

Looking back from a smaller boat at the original Frying Pan boat.

Food can take a while, but the burger is meaty and delicious. They also serve seafood like mussels and little neck clams, but don’t expect much more than grubby bar food. Only downside is the food /drinks aren’t cheap (Over $35 for a pitcher of sangria, $13 for a burger, and about $5 for a corona).

There are several levels of seats and a unique layout, so you’re not always in the middle of a big crowd. Although, it does tend to get crowded, the music gets loud, the party teems with debauchery. But hey, at least you’re on a boat!
Pier 66a, West 26th St and Hudson River Park

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Chicken & Rice Halal Food Truck

If you seek the mecca of New York City street meat experience, head to the Chicken & Rice Food Truck, aka 53rd and 6th, or Halal Food Cart.  Any gourmand, New Yorker, or drunk merrymaker knows the joy and absolute satisfaction of chicken and rice — but although such food trucks are ubiquitous in NYC, only this one commands a line of dozens of people, every single night, between 7am and 4am.

Regardless of when you go — rain, shine, or cold — be prepared to wait in line. Usually about 20+ people. And don’t be tempted by the other trucks nearby — this is the authentic one. Although, during the day you can spot other trucks nearby which are affiliated. So long as they are wearing the same yellow Halal Gyro & Chicken shirts, you’re good to go. (SW corner of53rd & 7th, and NW corner of 52nd & 6th)

As the owners say, “All the people of the world can be put into two categories: those who have had the platter, and those who have not.”The Platter combines any of the following: Chicken, gyro, long grain yellow rice, pita, salad, hot red sauce, white sauce & BBQ sauce.

Many credit this food truck’s success to its secret white sauce recipe. I won’t knock that, although I think the real hidden secret is how they marinade and prepare the chicken. Marinated in its proprietary blend of Middle Eastern spices,  it is sauteed and chopped on the griddle right before you, and served in tender juicy flavor over rice and pita.

Chicken and Rice Platter – Still trying to figure out what is in their secret white sauce… It’s creamy and seems like a blend of mayo, yogurt, spices, and a splash of crack to get you hooked.  The red sauce is pretty spicy, so only load it on if you are suicidal.
Photo credit

Look out for the yellow shirts!

53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY

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il Buco

il Buco has everything of a quintessential New York restaurant  — Warm rustic ambiance,  antique pots and pans adorning the ceiling, cosy wooden tables, romanticism fit for a first date, and a great wine list. And of course, the food, a Mediterranean mix of Italian and Spanish flavors, is exquisite.

All in all, a perfect celebration for Nina’s 24th birthday.

Nina and Sofi under the funky copper pots and futuristic lights hanging from the pressed tin ceiling

The wine cellar is the real hidden gem! Highly recommended if you have a group or large party (fits about 20 people total) and want an intimate, private setting, especially since the music upstairs can be quite loud.  The cellar has an old Italian feel, with over 700 wine bottles, no doubt why il Buco has such an extensive wine list.

I’m not always impressed by the bread and butter filler, but I was so impressed with their flavorful house-made olive oil (available for sale at the restaurant), which was even captured in a documentary La Raccolta, filmed by owner and filmmaker Donna Lennard. No need for salt or seasoning!

The seafood is outstanding, and you can taste the flavorful Spanish influence. My favorites are the cod croquettas (although I’m always a sucker for anything deep fried and filled with bechamel) and the pulpo a la plancha (octopus).

And then there’s the Italian influence…Risotto with Porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese

Gnocchi with pancetta, snap peas, peas, and parmesan

Dessert was devoured in about 5 seconds, but the clear highlight was the bowl of mascarpone with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar — the ultimate sweet and sour combination.

Happy tummies, and happy birthday nins!

47 Bond St. New York, NY

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