#Whynot Coffee or Tea…Maybe a Cookie?

Looking for a great spot for coffee that’s spacious with plenty of seating, Third Wave Coffee and tasty Baked goods, cool Art up on the walls, an Old school record player cranking out the tunes, and very good people watching? Check out Whynot Coffee on Orchard Street. They use Toby’s Estate roasted beans for their coffee beverages and they have a have large selection of teas as well.

Hungry? Whynot has a great selection of baked goods that include peanut butter with pistachio nut cookies, banana bread, and white chocolate orange loaf among a number of non usual suspects. Need a bit more, Avocado smashes and Croissant sandwiches. If you live or find yourself in the LES often this could be your new spot. 

Whynot Coffee is located at 175 Orchard Street

#Momosan Morimoto’s Murray Hill #Ramen Joint  


Murray Hill finally gets a destination restaurant. One that people will travel to, where a couple in a long distance relationship will meet in New York and this is where they choose to go(more on this later). Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s new Ramen and Sake joint Momosan is an instant hit. At 1pm on a Saturday afternoon the place was packed with a wait. Luckily in less than 10 minutes some seats opened up. At a table for four. With a couple sitting next to each other on the same side of the table(let’s get to the food first)

I ordered up a SingleCut from Queens IPA on tap and my bud an Ashahi. They have a number of appetizers, but the Zuke Don, Momosan’s spin on New York’s latest infatuation Hawaiian Poke was all me. The Tuna was fresh and I liked it had a little heat to it. The portion is enough to share unless you are really hungry. 

Momosan offers four Ramen soups to choose from, the Tan Tan his riff on a Malaysian coconut curry topped with the Japanese ground pork namesake was delicious. I love traditional Japanese Tan Tan and Malaysian Laksa, this spin marrying the two is unlike anything you are likely to find in even you better Ramen joints. It was rich and spicy at the same time, but just the right amount to complement without overpowering each other. 

Now as for seating, they have a number of tables for four, seating by the window, the bar and a community table. So when the hostess asked if it was ok to sit at a table with others and we saw a couple sitting on the same side we figured it was a Japanese cultural thing, like at business meetings. Turns out that was not the case. Their computer has the seats numbered, thus if they seat two at a table for four, it works out that you sit on the same side of the table. While I found this odd, it does open up more seating… and maybe you make some new friends. 

I’ll be back to work my way through more of the food menu and start hitting the Sake. 

Momosan Ramen and Sake is located at 342 Lexington Avenue

#ChocolateWorks of Brooklyn Heights 

  
As I was walking down Montague Street I came upon a Huge Chocolate Bar/sign for Chocolate Works, being a choco-holic I’m immediately drawn in. Their speciality is Made in Brooklyn Chocolates along with a number of high quality bars from other brands, some non-chocolate sweets and Gelato.

They have Indoor and outdoor seating plus a chocolate fountain! This place would be perfect for a kids (or big kids:) who love chocolate) party. 

  

Chocolate Works is run by Joe Whaley who grew up on chocolate in the family business 5th Avenue Chocolatier creating Chocolate Works as a franchise business. I purchased some of their by the pound chocolates to test out 

   
 

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cups – Yum:) 

White Chocolate Dipped Cherries- A great twist on the classic 

Coconut Snowballs- Caramel and nougat wrapped in milk chocolate covered in coconut. Just go get some…

  

I also had a cup of coffee which was just average, but it came with a free chocolate truffle. They have over two dozen flavors to chose from, I went Bananas for the Banana. This is a great spot and if you love chocolate, add it to your must go Chocolate and Local lists.

   
 

Chocolate Works is located at 110 Montague in Brooklyn Heights   

#PalomaRocket Craft Beer on Tap by the Ounce! 

  

Craft brews by the ounce and James Bond posters on the walls…need I say more, I had to check this place out. Paloma Rocket is not your typical Craft Brew Bar, she differentiates herself dramatically by not so much offering so many craft brews from both Local breweries and those around the world, but from offering the goods on tap via self serve and by the ounce. Yes you read that right. Here’s how it works;

You buy a card($20 minimum) slide it in, pour, drink, wash your glass and repeat. I enjoyed the following brews; Single Cut from Queens, Half Stack IPA,Goose Island Lolita ,a Raspberry Kriek, Ballast Point Kolsch and a Fire Island (Beer Company) born for the beach Blonde with Sea Salt Ale.

Enjoyed them all and best part was that I was able to try them in varying amounts. I love Beer and I’m a huge Bond fan so I think Paloma Rocket (would make a great Bond Girl name:) is a great concept in an awesome looking spot. Plus they are rumored to be adding Wine, Sochi and Sake to the taps which I’m pretty psyched for. Just remember, here if the question of Shaken or Stirred comes up…give your best Bond like grin and say…Poured. 
   

    
    
  
 Paloma Rocket is located at 7 Clinton  

#Natsumi -The Raw and the Cooked, Maki Rolls and Bento Boxes

  
Looking for a new spot for lunch for Sushi or a better then average Bento Box in the West 50’s? Natsuri offers a full raw and cooked menu including hot and cold lunch specials. On my first visit I went with the Maki Combo. Soup or salad is included and since it was a freezing early Spring day my decision was made for me…the Miso Soup. For my rolls fresh and tasty 

Yellowtail with jalapeño – My heat

Spicy Tuna – My litmus test  

Salmon avocado – My heart healthy:) 

On my next visit I decided to go cooked and give their Bento box a whirl. It came with soup or salad, went soup, Seafood Tempura, a Tuna or Cali roll, went Tuna, 2 very good steamed dumplings, white rice and from a choice of four proteins choose the Chicken Teriyaki with broccoli. Good sized portions of above average cuisine in a good looking space with very good service make Natsumi a spot you want to add to your lunch by Rock Center lists. 

   
   

Natsumi is located at 226 West 50th Street 

#BloodyMaryFest Brooklyn’s Best 2016 

    
Do you love Bloody Mary’s, really love them as in crave them? I joined my cousin and some friends of his this past Sunday to hit the 2016 BloodyMaryFest Held in Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall (a former Opera Hall that is a spectacular space) by Prospect Park for the Brooklyn Bloody Mary Festival. 

  
The Bloody Mary has come a long way from its humble beginnings of Tomato Juice, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, horseradish, celery salt and a stalk of celery. These days they are the crafted by mixologists with the mad skills of Spanish Gastro-Fusion chefs. Event Organizer Evan Weiss searched far and wide throughout Brooklyn to find the best and most unique Bloody’s Brooklyn has to offer. Below I chronicle my tongue tingling tasting extravaganza. 

I started at Natalie’s Orchid Island to fuel up on some healthy vitamin rich juice where I grabbed what I thought was Blood Orange but turned out to be the Beet Juice. Still tasty though preferred the Grapefruit I had later in the day. I started my Bloody quest with the Iron Station’s since it had Bacon in it and it was Brunch time after all. It had Bacon. This was one of my favorites, a classic with just the right amount of smoky flavor. 

  
I then headed into the adjacent room to catch up with my cousin where my plan of starting on one end and working my way around went right out the window turning into a random zig-zag. I enjoyed some tasty Cypress Grove Cheeses followed by Brooklyn Bespoke’s Bacon Jam both the spicy and the not on crackers to form a layer to soak up the Bloody’s. 

   
 Next up was the Bloody Mary Liberation Party created for the event made with Natalie’s tomato juice and getting its green from cilantro. Bruce Cost Ginger Beer was on hand to make Moscow Mules by spiking it with BleuStorm Vodka. 

   

 Talde provided another fave with its Asian flavored mix that included fish sauce and wasabi and topped it with bacon and a jalapeño pepper. My cousin and I then ran into the West Coast Bloody Mary Blogger the @DrunkenTomato to get her thoughts on the contestants and then caught up with Evan Weiss the host and organizer of the fest to discuss its humble beginnings and how it’s grown. 

  
Next up was Travel Bar’s Mary that I really enjoyed. Though I prefer spicy, this cool as a cucumber version was a refreshing change of pace. I went up to 706 but they ran out of their Bloody’s one hour into the event! Thus I never had one, but heard they were pretty good. 

  
Catfish did a nice twist on the classic by rimming it Cajun spices and topping it with Abita Stout. Hunter’s (my namesake:) Saigon Mary was another that used Asian flavors blending lemongrass, lime, and Black garlic to name a few and topped it with Shrimp and a slice of cucumber. Esme provided an old school classic with some twists. Good but I would have liked more heat. 

   
   
It was time for a break and being a Chocolate-holic I sampled a number of JoMart’s Chocolates. The Six Point Beer and the Hazelnut truffles were tasty, as were the Bacon Bars, and the Dark Chocolate salted Stars. The Toasted Coconut topped marshmallows were a real standout. Grady’s Iced Coffee of which I’m already a big fan had a stand making White Russians giving my friends and I some Big Lebowski moments …the Dude abided these as the perfect break between Bloodies. 

   
   
We then popped by the BleuStorm booth a Vodka from France that fueled all the drinks and trying it straight up found it pretty smooth. Better yet, of note, no hangover the next day. However my journey was not quite complete after a taste of delish Rum and Bourbon fruit jams from Ode to Babel (perfect name for a bar) which happens to be the name of bar that makes them.

  
It was on to more Bloody Mary’s which as it turned out there were three that I still needed to try(why one needs to be careful with seconds and White Russians).The Lucky Luna with nori and kimchi received mixed results. I loved it, but those who don’t like kimchi didn’t. Luckily Luna had plenty of kimchi lovers on hand making it the winner of the New Wave Bloody Mary. 

  
Skylark blended a number of Hot Sauces to bring the heat including the only one I think with Tabasco. It was a nice spin on the classic. Last but certainly not least was another Asian influenced version this one from Syndicated

   
 My takeaways from the fest are…

Sriracha is the new Tabasco. It was in just about every bars Bloody. 

2016 was the year of the Asian influenced Bloody. I would like to see some South American flavors next year 

I would like to see more Food Vendors at next years event (subtle hint:) 

The Grand Prospect Hall is well worth a visit. Amazing space. 

If you love Bloody Mary’s you need to hit this next year. Plus follow @BloodyMaryFest on Twitter for year round Bloody Mary events. 

   
   
Photo Credits: Along with my own photos my cousin Rich Rubel contributed a number of pics for this piece. 

#PokeWorks Sushi Hawaiian Style 

  As NYC’s Poke craze continues to grow another contender steps into the ring. PokeWorks part of a restaurant group out of Cali opened their first New York location on West 37th recently. You choose a Bowl (Rice or Quinoa) Burrito (Rice and Seaweed Wrap) or Salad as your base and then you choose one of their signature combos or better yet build your own. 

Start with a Protein (2 for $10.50 or 3 for $12.95) choose from Ahi Tuna, Scallops and Tofu to name a few 

Add in some Mix ‘ins – Edamame, Hijiki, Diced Mango and more

Pick a special sauce (Flavor) – Ponzu, Ginger, Sriracha Aioli, for example 

Then hit it with Toppings – Seaweed Salad,Wasabi Tobiko, Avocado

and finally sprinkle on some Crunch – Macadamia Nuts, Wonton crisps, sesame seeds

I don’t know why it took so long for Poke to hit the mainland but I for one am psyched it’s finally here. It’s a great way to eat healthy and on a budget. I’m looking forward to putting together my next nutritious and delicious combo at PokeWorks, are you? 

PokeWorks is located at 63 West 37th Street  

@Raden Next Gen #Luggage

  

Have any Travel plans for biz or pleasure coming up? Feel your current luggage isn’t all it should or could be? While strolling along Spring Street after work I noticed a new store…Raden. Not sure what it was I popped in and found a huge spacious store with beautiful women standing by luggage surrounded by multi-colored luggage adorned walls. 

This luggage company is brand new and literally just released their new line consisting of a 22′ carry-on size piece and a larger one at 28′. The target market is the design savvy high tech Jet-Set. They hired some serious talent from companies like Tumi and Beats and also worked with the TSA(what types of locks to use, etc). These bags ain’t your Parents Travel gear unless your Mom’s name is Lana, your Dad’s Archer and you were born with a Sterling Silver spoon in your mouth. 

Raden’s bags are ultra-light,ultra strong, have double spin wheels, a telescoping handle, waterproof zippers and rock not one but two USB ports powered by a battery(removable) that can charge your Mobile devices (and I’m guessing some cameras) up to 4 times. They also developed an App that can help locate your bag, weigh your bag(this is huge), weather, flight times and yes, you can even call Uber off it. They come in a number of colors including Black, White, Navy, Hunter Green, and Pastel Pink, Blue and Purple. 

Raden’s high-tech luggage sounds like they are perfect for the business Traveller, Free-Lancer, Blogger, and Parents that don’t want their vacation ruined because their little angels tweak out without their screens. 

Since I’m huge on carrying my luggage on …if I were to acquire one would the 22′ be big enough for me or do I wait for the likely inevitable mid size with another couple of inches(insert phrasing a la Archer) that will still fall under many airlines carry-on allowance? Other questions to ponder are; 

How much packing space does one lose to the battery?

I like outside pockets, this bag being hard shell doesn’t have any…

Just how high Tech do I want to go? I already have a handheld charger and a Global Adapter…

Where am I going next and will this piece of luggage be a game changer for me? Decisions, decisions…

   
    
   
Raden’s Pop-Up is located at 72 Spring Street until mid- April 

#MarioByMary @ThePennsy

  
The Pennsy, Penn’s Station new food court opened up back in January, which for the record was so needed here. It’s an awesome space with a half dozen food vendors, indoor and outdoor seating, a bar and a big screen TV. 

I hit Mario by Mary a collaboration between Mario Batali and Mary Guliani that offers four hot and three cold sandwiches, about four soups and some tasty baked goods that include an Espresso Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookie, a Nutella Brownie and an old school Italian Rainbow cookie.   

It was a coin toss between the Italian Cubano and the Muffaletta…the Meatball Hero sounded good too. I went with the Muffaletta. For an extra $3 I got a small bowl of Chicken and Kale soup and I just had to grab an Espresso Sea Salt Chocolate chip cookie for later. To drink they have a number of Italian sodas, but I used the soup as my beverage. 

The Muffaletta was very good with high quality cold cuts, though I do wish it was a bit bigger for the price. The soup for an additional $3 with the sandwich was a steal and was delicious. The cookie I saved for the next day and it is a fresh baked delight with a great balance of flavors. Mario by Mary will be a go to spot when by Penn Station.  

   
   
Mario by Mary is located at The Pennsy in 2 Pennsylvania Plaza 

#BERG’N Beer Hall/ @ThinkOilo Movie Classes

  
 
Oh have things have changed in Crown Heights. The place still is a bit rough around its edges, it’s no Billyburg…but it does have a pretty cool indoor Beer Garden on Bergen Street which is off ever gentrifying Franklin Avenue. 

The place is pretty big inside with huge long wooden community tables, games on screens, board games to play, and a very cool Game of Thrones Pinball Machine. BERG’N has a great selection of Craft Beers available on tap and in bottles as well as a full bar(they had some interesting sounding cocktails I will have to come back and try). If you’re hungry fill up on BBQ great Might Quinn’s, Filipino rice bowls from Lumpia Shack, Indian food via Samesa and recently opened (March 2016) El Meat Hook. 

Berg’n also has some separate rooms in the back for events which is how I discovered Berg’n in the first place by attending a ThinkOlio mini Movie class(3 2hr sessions) on David Lynch classic Mulholland Drive. Of note, if you’re a movie buff check out there website for future events(Kill Bill up next:). Berg’n is a very cool spot that every neighborhood should have. Well worth the track out to Crown Heights for a fun night out.

   
    
   
BERG’N is located at 899 Bergen Street