2012 Eating Resolutions

I’ve looked back on my 2011 Eating Resolutions and feel I have faired pretty well. I definitely ate seasonally by joining a CSA, I dabbled in recipe freedom, went to visit two working Farms (thanks Jamie!), made a few carbonated beverages, and supported artisan food markets. The grey areas which I will approve upon this year:

1. Host a ‘perfect pairing’ dinner party. I did a beer and cheese party but it ended up being more like a drinking and cheese gorging fest. Nothing wrong with that, but we really didn’t take time to find good pairings.

2. I always try and be an adventurous eater but still haven’t gotten to Turkish or Ethiopian.

3. I didn’t read a book on food science. I got halfway through The Best Food Writing of 2010!

4. I didn’t use my Kitchen Aide Mixer once a month…but I did use it a lot!

5. And the food magazines didn’t really get organized…I’ll have to work on that some coldwinter day.

And now for some new resolutions! I really had to think about these because I feel all the ‘do-gooder/responsible eating’ resolutions happened last year. So here goes 2012!

1. Attempt to make sausage and cured meat. I made sausage in culinary school and it was a lot of fun, mostly due to all the sexual puns. But if I master curing meat, I feel I will enter the culinary gates of Italian heaven. And have a perfect paring for my fruit mostarda.

2. There were 15 bars deemed by Jim Meehan for the 2012 Food & Wine Cocktail Book as the top bars in New York City. My goal is to go to all of them.

3. I’m stealing this one from Food & Wine restaurant editor, Kate Krader. Eat through my pantry! I have so many random sauces and grains and half empty boxes of pasta that need to be used up.

4. Learn how to make Aunt Ro’s rice balls! I think I’ve been saying this for like three years now. I’m comin’ to Brooklyn Aunt Ro!!

5. Create a family cookbook. In the age of digital cameras, scanners and great online sites to make photo projects I feel the need to preserve the recipes we love so much.


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Gift Guide Part 3

And here we are at the final installment of Spaghetti Betty’s Holiday Gift Guide, ‘Fun Gifts for the Foodies!’ These are some of my favorite fun little foodie things I’ve seen in the past year, and as I’ve been scanning the internet for fun gifts for my family.

First up is one of my new favorite sites, Girls Can Tell. The artwork is in diagram style and printed on things like lunch bags, coasters and tea towels. There isn’t too much about the artist, but when I bought this pig’s butcher’s diagram lunch bag, I got a cute little thank you note signed by Sara.

They Draw & Cook is an amazing marriage of art and food! Artist from around the world submit recipes in the form of cartoon drawings. They recently released a cookbook after being in exsistence for less than a year! Well done!

Another one of my favorite cookbooks to come out this year was Nadia G’s Cookin’ For Trouble. She is by-far the most entertaining person to watch on the Cooking Channel, and from a culinary perspective I think she knows what she’s talking about. The book is full of crazy gorgeous food porn and hysterical annecdotes that should be read outloud (or in your head) in your best Nadia G voice.

I like to think of myself as a charitable person and I love finding gift-ey things that will give to a good cause. The Working Proof sells beautiful prints that are paired with a charity of the artist’s choice. Prints are usually priced around $30 with 15% of the profit going to the charity. This Snake Vase, by Caitlin Keegan, really caught my attention and her charity of choice was Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization.


Many nights in my family are challenged by me defending my culinary graduate title by playing ‘Foodie Fight.’ This trivial pursuit style game tests your knowledge in categories such as culinary science, celebrity chefs, food history and exotic cuisine.

Now’s your chance to be like your favorite badass chef and get that culinary tattoo you’ve always wanted! Tattly is a new company inspired by a mother’s frustration in the design of temporary tattoos. Her mantra: Life is too short to drink bad wine and wear ugly temporary tattoos. Right? Amen sista’!! The Kitchen utensils are really fun, and designed by a Brooklyn girl!

Music and food come together on these vintage holiday music record coasters. Creative, affordable and festive!

While walking in the Grand Central Station Market the other day I came across this gothic skull and cross bones chef graphic. Artist Jon Wye calls it his Pirate Chef and prints it on t-shirts, aprons, stickers, bags and hats.


And lastly, how about some salt and pepper wind-up robots!! The ultimate is this really necessary gift. Hey, you said you were shopping for the person who has everything!


Hopefully my three-part installment has made the burden of holiday shopping a little easier, or at least provided a good excuse for work procrastination!

Buon Natale miei amici!

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Gift Guide Part 2

Today’s Gift Guide is for ‘The Cooks’ in your family and friend circle. This can be a particularly difficult category because it’s hard to know what kind of equipment they already have or if they have personal loyalties to a specific brand. One tip is to buy them an accessory to something you know they already have. Like a soda syrup, a Kitchen Aide attachment, or maybe a braising base for the Dutch Oven they got last year. Here are some of my thoughts on original ideas for the cooks in yourlife.

Okay, I know monthly food clubs sound a little corney but I gave my dad a wine of the month club gift for 3 years in a row and he lovedit! Also, one of my brother’s best gifts to me was a hot sauce of the month club! New on my radar this year is Murray’s Pair of the Month Club. Cheese paired with honey, chocolate, chutneys and more!

So this is a little gadget-ey but I think it serves a lot of purpose! The foodpod
is a little silicone steamer basket. The one I have is metal and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to maneuver pulling it up without burning myself! I can also see this foodpod jamming perfectly into my disorganized utensil drawer.

Lately, my family has been obsessed with smoking meat. We even smoked a turkey this Thanksgiving. I did some research and found the Nordic Ware Ovengot some great reviews and it can be used indoors and outdoors. Note of caution, just about every review who used it inside said your house will probably smell for a little bit…but who cares!!!

If you have some female cooks and bakers Anthropologie has a cute rolling pins and kitchen mits and towels
I also really like the vase they use for utensils. Maybe that utensil draw of mine could benefit from something like that!




And I couldn’t complete my guide without a little pasta for my little rolotini’s!! So when it comes to pasta making I’ve used my Kitchen Aide attachment and the Imperia tabletop one, both work really well. The Imperia can slide a little if your table isn’t even and only has like 3 settings. The Atlas pasta maker
has lots of different attachments for your basic pappardelle, spaghetti, even ravioli! But then goes really specific for noodles like reginette (like ribboned papardelle, translates to little queen, that’s my kinda noodle!).


And lastly one final gadget is this Spaghetti measurer. No matter how many times I make spaghetti for myself, I could still use a little guide in portioning out one of my favorite food groups!


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The Spaghetti Betty Gift Guide

If you’re like me, you have a ton of food lover friends and family to buy holiday gifts for. And I always think it’s a nice touch to give a little of your personality when choosing the right gift for someone. I’ve read a few holiday gift guides put out by some of my favorite publications, but personally many missed the mark. So I was inspired to create a gift guide of my own! Here is part one of the guide. And I’ll be sure to sneak in any additions I see in the next few weeks.

For the Entertainer
For me, entertaining was practically etched into my DNA at birth. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s one thing to serve great food, but it’s another to have great food served on cool things!

I saw a lot of really fun holiday dishes and platters this year!
For the second year CB2 is carrying these fun little stick figure guys on mini dishes. Great for little party apps!


Another really fun dish was this string of lights from West Elm


Many of you are probably familiar with Brooklyn Slate. I just got myself a cheese platter recently and it is really so beautiful. And their Cheese Survival Kit is also another great idea! (And the tote is really cute.) For all the cheese lovers these are some great gift from a local small business.


Anthropologie is never one of those places that immediately comes to mind when thinking about house ware gifts. But they have a really extensive luxury/chic collection. These wine decanters would make a great gift for the wine lover or hostess.


For the Mixologist
Cocktail mixing is an essential skill that any great entertainer should have under their belt. Here are some gifts for their arsenal.

Any good bartender knows how important ice is to the components of the drink.

The iceorb is a double duty for making ice and keeping a bottle cold. A good gadget and perfect for the person who has everything! You can buy it from a few retailers on Amazon.

I can barely contain myself on this site with all these off the wall ice molds! Frozen Smiles, Gin & Titonic or Legos! The silicone trays can probably also double duty for chocolate molds!


For those in need of some solid recipes check out Jim Meehan’s The PDT Cocktail Book. The illustrations are really stunning, very Marvel-comic-book, and Jim has been consulting on the Food&Wine Cocktail Book for years, a definite trusted source!


For those bartenders seeking a little more depth and maybe something a little more unique try Brad Thomas Parsons’ Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas.


That concludes part 1, in the next few days I’ll be adding gifts for the cook and my personal favorite category: fun for the foodies!

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Theme Park Food – Trending Up

While traveling to Universal Studios, and Universal Island of Adventure it dawned on me that theme park food is due for the next public foodie invasion.  Food trucks, stadium food, casinos even Madison Square Garden have all been touched by the golden knives of some big name chefs and chef personalities.  For years Disney has  offered some decent fine dining, the upscale Grand Floridian immediately comes to mind.  And Epcot has blurred the lines of fast food park eats and international culinary explorations.  Some brilliant PR company even created the Epcot Food Festival going on this month.

But what I think needs a major make-over is your  basic run of the mill concession stands.  Popcorn, candy, ice cream and turkey legs have left me bored and uninspired to spend my money.  Not to mention they pop up every 100 feet and the ratio highly outnumbers the park attractions.    Give me some Big Gay Ice Cream trucks, pomme frites, gourmet grilled cheese, or play off your themes.  Why can’t I get Green Eggs and Ham in ‘Seuss Landing’?!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a great example of how parks should be using food to their advantage.  Maybe Harry Potter is an easy example because food was such a big part of beloved books and films.  But I can tell a lot went into the branding, test kitchens and menu planning to hold true the authenticity.  The recreation of Honeydukes Candy Shop, transports you right into the imagination of J.K Rowling.  The shelves lined with chocolate frogs takes you to the scene on the Hogwarts Express when the frog flies out the window.  The Pumpkin Juice has terrific packaging and a sweet seasonal flavor to match.  Looking at the wall of Bertie Botts Jelly Beans echos the famous line from Dumbledor:

I was unfortunate enough in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I have rather lost my liking for them. But, I think I could be safe with a nice toffee …Hmm, alas, earwax.

The pride and joy of experience for me however was eating lunch at The Three Broomsticks Cafe.  In the books Harry, Ron and Hermione spend equal time leisure and scheming at this pub in the village of Hogsmeade.  As a guest, in true theme park style you wait in line as you admire the props along the route, which include a digital menu board followed by samples (behind closed glass) of the  actual dishes.  The system is quite organized as you are directed to a numerical register to take your order and then sent to the corresponding pick-up window.  These casual dining places have real potential for chasos and disaster and angry patrons.  This was quite the opposite.  Not to mention the menu stuck to traditional British fare like fish and chips, Shepherd’s pie, and my meal of choice the Cornish pasties (beef pie) with a Butterbeer!  Okay, I wasn’t expecting a five-star meal but it was pretty tasty!  The Cornish pastries came out in three little flakey pies with a side salad.  The Butterbeer was delicious especially mixing the foam with the fizzy soda part.  Very sweet, but what do you expect?!  On my dining scale I give it 3.5 for ambiance, 4 for crowd control, 3.5 for food and 3.5 for price.  An average of 3.75 stars.

But mark my words world, its only a short time before artisan, gourmet snacks will find their way to theme parks of America.  Just remember you heard it here first!



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NY Wine and Food Festival 2011

Now that the dust has settled from all of the New York Wine and Food Festival hoop-la I’ve had a chance to reflect and do a blog post.  Each year that I participate I come away from the festival with a unique experience and renewed love for food discovery and elastic waistline pants.

Saturday night was spent celebrating ‘Brooklyn’s Bounty’ with the loveable Adam Richman from ‘Man vs. Food.’  You heard it here ladies and gentleman he is my new celebrity crush.  A good-ole Brooklyn boy who loves to eat, loves to laugh and likes to be challenged by his food.  What more could a girl and ask for.  Not to mention my mother would love shoveling food in his mouth!

The event was sponsored by Edible Brooklyn who I feel is just starting to get their feet wet in the big event planning scene.  Edible magazine has shot through roof with their recent James Beard win for their ‘Publication of the Year’ Award while only a few years ago sat collecting dust in the corner of neighborhood coffee shops.

A rumored 350 people attended this cocktail-party-style jammed into this beautiful historical Green Building with jaw dropping chandeleers in the middle of Carroll Gardens.  The good thing was there were no lines for food and by the end of three hours you were quite satisfied with selections.  The trick is to drink moderately to make more room for the food.  We did do one Jameson pickle back shot which was strategically located next to McClures Pickles.

Nestled in the back corner of the room was  D. Coluccio & Sons,  a fixture in my exsistence as an Italian-American.  The name Coluccio has been thrown around my house for as long as I can remember.  No holiday or family gathering would be complete without an antipasto spread from Coluccio’s.  There were countless Christmas mornings, fresh from opening gifts from Santa that I’d then move on to unwrapping and opening containers of olives, marniated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and stuffed peppers to arrange on the antipasto platter.  Followed by rolling slices of provolone and cutting up my other love in this life, Parmigano Reggiano cheese.

I have to give credit to vendors who sign up for these banquet style events.  You really have to think about your execution and your audience.  As much as you want to impress your guests and make them remember you, head cheese and sardines aren’t a big seller.  Our biggest dissapointment was Bark Hot Dogs didn’t give us a hot dog!  Some lobster roll thing…c’mon guys.  Some of the best food came from the food trucks that were parked outside.  Food Freaks (only open 3 weeks!) had this insane grilled cheese and tomato soup with some crispy brussel sprouts.  And Papa Perrone’s rice balls were right on point.

An overall great event, but I’d tell Edible to set up more high-top tables – the drink in one hand and food in the other is still a challenge for most humans.

Link to all participants


Sunday was Carts in the Parc!  I remembered my camera for this one!  This was a truly great event possibly the best I’ve ever been to in my three year run.  The best of the best NYC food trucks parked along the curb of FoodParc at Eventi Hotel in Chelsea.  FoodParc is a modern-day food court and in the back is a really nice garden area with a huge big screen TV.  This event was hosted by Andrew Zimmern, another cool dude but I was happy stalking Adam Richman who showed up again as well as some other big name foodies like Chef Michael White from Marea, and Angelo Sosa from Top Chef.  I didn’t have one off-putting thing from this food marathon.  Our endurance was definitely up from the night before.  The NY Dosa Cart won my heart.  This is authentic street food and an original to whole food truck craze.  I did a little photo time lapse of the lentil pancake with the spicy potatoes and vegetable chutney.  The Biryani Cart another orignal authentic was also delcious and won fan favorite for the day.  The pictures say it all so enjoy!

Link to all participants

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Brooklyn Local

On September 17th, City Harvest hosted their first annual Brooklyn Local event.  Artisan food vendors from all over Brooklyn came to showcase their delicious and handmade delights.  Local Brooklyn brewery Sixpoint along with several other beer and wine vendors kept us from going thirsty.  What  I found most compelling was the event space.  The Brooklyn Tabacco Warehouse is this charming open air venue reminisant of medieval times.  In the 1870s it was used as a tobacco customs inspection center, and saved from demolition in 1998.

I had the great opportunity to volunteer with City Harvest in the kids area and decorate cookies all morning!  The cookies and decorating supplies were provide by The Good Batch.

Here is a link to all the participating vendors.  And some of my favorites!

My Friend’s Mustard,

Cuzin’s Duzin

Pie Corp

Kings County Jerky Co

Stinky Bklyn

I took some fun pictures of the kiddie creations!  Each cookie was very expressive of each kid, it was like cookie psychology.  And I could pick out a few that would probably resemble the mess that I would have made as a kid!

The end of the gallery has pictures from the actual event.

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