Cata on Bowery: Magnifico Tapas con G&T’s y Vino’s

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I love the food of Spain and their thing for Gin and Tonics so when I heard about Cata I needed to head over for some Tapas. Cata is dimly lit, romantic and has a cool vibe making it ideal for a night out with a special someone or a small group of friends. It has a very long bar with seating, high tables in the same room for from two to six, a back room and a downstairs(that I didn’t get a chance to explore as of this time). Cata is known for it’s large Gin and Tonic menu(over 20!) with a great selection of Gin favorites and Gins I’ve never had before with large variety of botanicals. I had the Anise G&T followed by a the Chili and loved both. My dining companion enjoyed a very nice White Wine, the Spanish equivalent to a Pinot Grigio, I believe a Verdejo.

However, as good as the drinks were, it was the food that really blew me away. We ordered up a few items from the Tapas menu that included the Deviled Eggs topped with Oysters and the Bombas of Jamon, Manchego in a spicy tomato sauce which melt in ones mouth, followed by the Quail Eggs Benedict. From the Entrees we choose the Duck Ravioli which turned out to be a beautiful melding of  the earthly flavors of mushrooms and truffles with texture provided by the parmigiana crisp topping them. We loved everything with the Duck Ravioli and the Quail Eggs Benedict being our favorites. If you’re looking for a great spot for Tapas, something different then your usual fare and a great selection of drinks and vino in a sweet setting with service to back it up add Cata to your Best of, and Go to, to Impress lists…



Cata is located at 245 Bowery

Breakroom: Best Burgers and Tacos in Chinatown

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I needed a “break” from the food of Asia (as much as I love it) and while walking along Baxter came upon Breakroom Burgers and Tacos. One look at the menu and I was in. I went big with their namesake burger that is topped with confit of pork belly, cheese, sunny-side egg, tempura onion rings, jalapenos, L& T + pickles! You literally need a boca grande about the size of a Xenomorph (Alien fans…you know what I’m talking about here)to eat it. For my side I had the Chipotle Thai Chili which had some heat but not too much and sold me on their Tacos without having one. They have Fries(w/cheese and Chili topped) and Tempura onion rings(they are good, very) as well. To drink I had Breakroom’s Mint Lemonade which was delish and loaded with fresh mint. I came back again to try some more from the menu and had the bacon wrapped jalapeno Hot Dog and their Grilled Sesame Chicken sandwich in Sambal sauce. If you’re in the Chinatown area and looking for something other than the usual fare, here’s your spot.

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Breakroom is located at 83 Baxter Street

Gitana Rosa Presents Dress Code by Nikolina Kovenlenko

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I attended the opening for “Masquerade” during the Summer and when I heard that Nikolina Kovenlenko was previewing a new series of works titled “Dress Code” I stopped by to check out her new works and for some inspiration as well. Once again Nikolina explores our self absorbed superficial world which in this series she juxtaposes famous figures from the Old Masters who find themselves in modern day settings such as a children’s Playground and a high end Spa’s Roman like baths. In Swimming Pool my favorite thus far from the new series beautiful women chill in the water and lie out among Roman like columns oblivious to the personification of beauty itself, Venus, they are so self absorbed. These women and the children in the Playground piece are caught in their respective “comfort zones” yet missing out on so much by not stepping out of them. Nikolina continues to push us past our overly commercialized world and to look within to find our true selves.

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Gitana Rosa is located at 430 West 25th Street 4th floor

Mast Brothers Brewed Chocolate

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Mast Chocolate recently opened up a Brewed Chocolate spot next door to their factory and retail, store on N 3rd. You choose from the same great chocolate used for their legendary chocolate bars a Single Origin (Peru, Madagascar, etc) or a Flavored Chocolate (Chili, Almond, Maple etc) and its brewed like a Tea with hot water but still has that rich chocolate taste. Add a splash a milk if you like, I did. Add this to your Hot Chocolate spots as the weather begins to cool out there…

Mast Brewed Chocolate is located at 105 A N 3rd Street

Baba Ghanouge…Eat Healthy

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On my way to a meeting with limited time for a lunch I wanted something quick but healthy and espied Baba Ghanouge’s sign down on Fulton Street “Eat Healthy,  Live Longer”. Sounded good so I popped in, liked the menu and chose a Spicy Chicken Pita with Spicy Hummus and a side of fresh made Baba Ghanouge. The wrap was very good and really liked the spicy hummus. However, if you are hungry get a side as well. The namesake was very fresh and with some whole wheat pita hit the spot. To drink I pulled from their fridge a Steaz Green Tea and Lemonade to follow through on the keep it healthy but tasty theme. Fast Food does not enter the Temple that is by body, so if you feel the same this is a great option downtown for something quick, tasty and good for you.

Baba Ghanouge is located at 143 Fulton Street

Sachi Asian Bistro Opens in Murray Hill

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A new high end team has taken over the Pan- Asian spot at 713 Second Avenue in Murray Hill and upgraded the interior and renamed it Sashi Asian Bistro. It’s run by some big names in the biz, Pichet Ong (yes, the James Beard Baking phenom) and Andy Yang (of Michelin Star fame) that bring in flavors and techniques from throughout Asia. While this spot was always one of the better looking restaurants in the hood it now looks more Meatpacking then Murray Hill. I walked by the day started serving lunch, so I popped on to check it out.  After looking through the dinner menu I asked if they have a lunch special menu which they do( so ask if not presented) that had a lot to offer, better then12 different entrees in a Bento Box or Sushi Roll specials.

The first time I went I decided to go hot with the Shaking Beef(Wok Charred with Roasted Salt and Shishito Peppers, which I love) that came with Miso soup(which was very good and somewhat differ then most I’ve had…their Dashi gave it a more lemony flavor that was rather pleasing) and a salad. However, not your typical greens w/Ginger dressing, their salad is a Chicken Salad with hearts of palm, noodles and cabbage. You also get a choice  of appi, I went Crab Shumai over the Mushroom Spring Roll which were loaded with Crab Meat. On my next visit I tried the Sushi 3 roll combo. Again, started with the superior Miso soup and Chinese Chicken salad. For my rolls I went with my standby, Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail jalapeno to satisfy my thing for heat and for something different and unique to the menu the Salmon Mango which turned out to be my fave. Of note, they have a serious Cocktail Menu that I will need to return to investigate,.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere a little more high end them most of what Murray Hill offers for a dinner date/night out with friends or nice business/you simply want a nice lunch spot, Sachi Asian Bistro is what I am hoping is the next step in Murray Hill getting it’s game up.

 

Sashi Asian Bistro is located at 713 Second Avenue

Birdbath’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Hot Chocolate and Coffee by Grand Central

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Add another spot with great coffee, in this case Brooklyn Roasters to your “Where to go by Grand Central list”. The Birdbath spots are the satellite sister locations around NYC of City Bakery. The same amazing cookies (especially the chocolate chunk), variety of baked goods, sandwiches, salads, aforementioned coffee from Brooklyn Roasters and quite possibly the city’s best Hot Chocolate. Tables and chairs outside when it’s nice and when it gets too cold, padded benches to chill out on inside.

Birdbath City Bakery is located in 2 Grand Central Tower

Mimi Cheng’s Awesome Organic Taiwanese Chinese Dumplings

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Do you love Chinese Dumplings, but wish the little pan- fried pockets of pleasure were a bit better for you and not such, much a guilty pleasure? Well I may have just found the organic dumplings(Fleisher’s Grass-fed and Organic Meats here in Brooklyn and Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op.) of your dreams. After jumping off the bus on 2nd Ave on my way to pick up some Art supplies and run some errands I walked by Mini Cheng’s Dumplings. I love Chinese Dumplings ,liked the organically sourced twist, and the price was right so I popped in.

At Mimi Cheng’s they pretty much does one thing and do it right. You choose between Chicken, Pork or Veggie,6 for $8 or 8 for $10. You can get all of one or split by 2, thought not by all 3 for some reason. Think they should(hint, hint:). They come steamed or pan-fried(they recommend pan fried) and arrived surprising moist and  juicy bursting with flavor. The Chicken had Zucchini and the Pork Bok Choy and Cabbage. The wrapper they use is delicious and notably different  from most I’ve had…plus they very lightly pan fry them. Remember, they are organic, so go crazy..go fried. Top them with Mimi’s secret sauce and or Sriracha. The special sauce is very good, but not spicy so I I went with both.

To drink I had Mimi’s Thai Basil Lemonade(they also had an Iced tea and rotate seasonally) which was very tasty and refreshing…hitting just the right balance between tart and sweet.I didn’t get to try them but they have Desert Dumplings as well…stuffed with Apples. They recently started doing Monthly Special Dumplings and in honor of Football season,  for October they are Buffalo Chicken…will need to check these out upon my upcoming return visit.

Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings is located at 179 2nd Avenue

Bravest Sports Bar…Has Your Games, Wings and Brews

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Looking for a rock solid Sports Bar with all the key ingredients? Well, I have one for you. The Bravest Sports Bar is a classic Sports/Fireman’s Bar in Murray Hill with very good buffalo wings(10 for $5!), a full menu of Nachos, Burgers, Sandwiches and even Salads for those of you watching your girlish figures. A good selection of beers on tap($4 at Happy Hour, $3 Buds) including a well poured Guinness. Plenty of Plasma TVs, a Juke Box with classic tunes along with Happy Hour specials, NFL Game day/night specials and a good mixed crowd round things out nicely.

Bravest Sports Bar is located at 700 2nd Avenue

Michael Harding Oil Paints/New Wave Artist Palettes Demo’s at Jerry’s Palette Shop

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Jerry’s Palette Shop has been really doing a great job lately reaching out to the Art Community in the NY area by conducting Demo’s, Drawing Events and the like. Here’s the latest on the recent demo’s I attended for world famous Michael Harding Oil Paints and up and coming New Wave Artists Palette.

New Wave Palettes is run by brothers Kyle and Keith whose Dad is  a portrait painter. While most Artist Palettes stress the wrist after a while they out together a hand held curved palette- with 3 points for the hand, arm and hip points that keeps wrist straight. Made out if Maple wood, it’s finish stands against any paints or mediums. They come in Large Studio (righty and lefty), a Detail palette(smaller) and for travel the Highland palette. For those who prefer to sit while they paint and like a rectangular palette they offer a number as well that include the Table Top Posh palettes(neutral or grey in 2 sizes). A rectangular 11X16 built for most travel cases and a Peel-able gray rectangular palette which is disposable and glued on 3 edges to keep paper secure. I picked up a peel-able rectangular grey one to try out and see how laying out my colors on a grey palette vs a while one affects my blending and painting.

Up next was Michael Harding Oil Paints. Michael starting making his own paints after observing Rembrandt’s works at the National while at University in the UK.  After fellow students saw his colors he starting marking them to sell and eventually landed a job as the in-house supplier for a major store in London. This helped connect him with some notable local Artists that eventually led him to world famous artists like David Hockney. His oil paints are hand made the way the Old Masters did n the UK and sold in 35 countries around the world. Michael takes vibrancy of color to another level because he doesn’t add filer to cut costs like the larger labels do, but uses just high end pigment with some linseed oil which increases light fastness and Chroma.The collection includes Old Master colors (ie Lapis Lazuli made from semi-precious stones from Afghanistan as  well as the new artificial  colors like Ultramarine Blue ).

After Michael shared his story on how he got into the business and how his paints differentiate from his competitors he let us come up and experiment mixing his paints which I rather enjoyed. Some went right after his rich bright colors while I started mixing up flesh tones. I used a palette knife while some used their fingers. Of note, samples of Titanium White 2, Ultramarine Blue, and Magenta were given out as samples. I also picked up the Rose Madder, Kings Blue Light and his Cadmium Yellow which I’m really looking forward to trying out on my upcoming new pieces.

Jerry’s Palette Shop is located at 111 4th Avenue