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Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City + Los Angeles dining scenes through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!

xoxo, 

Lindsay

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Friday
Aug282015

Chocolate, peanut butter, and Niman Ranch beef: Recuperating with MUNCHERY

One of the pluses of living in LA is that my folks, who reside in Texas, are just a non-stop flight away.  So when I learned that I had to have surgery, I asked my mom to come in town and take care of me.  #MamasGirl #8GoingOn35

In planning our meals for that week, Mom mentioned that it would be a good idea for us to make a large supermarket run so that we could nosh and nest without having to leave my apartment.   "That's cute and all, Mom," I said, "but you don't even cook!  What are we going to eat for dinner, popcorn?"  She laughed.  "It's true, though!" I exclaimed.  "And it's not like I'll be able to cook."  She agreed.  Granted, there was always Blue Apron (too labor intensive) or Seamless Web (the options in LA suck) and Postmates/Caviar (great selections, but too expensive), but I had a better idea...

Munchery, a meal delivery service that I had already been utilizing for a few weeks leading up to my surgery, could not have been a better option for those first few post-operative days.  And nights.  With meals and snacks created by local chefs (think along the lines of LA's very own Roy Choi) who have worked at some seriously brag-worthy restaurants (ahem, Spago and Providence to name a few), each chilled order is hand-delivered to your door, literally "ready to heat when you want to eat."  Here's the nitty-gritty of how it all works!

With the ability to peruse Munchery's menu for the upcoming week, I ordered the following selections - to be delivered between 6-7PM - for the eve post my procedure:

With the exception of the mediocre tortilla soup, every other dish was, quite literally, life-altering.  I mean, who the hell would have thought that you could savor one of the best burgers YOU'VE EVER HAD IN YOUR LIFE (yes, I really just said that) courtesy of a meal delivery service?  In the comfort of your own home, no less!  Well, when you start with a patty is constructed of sous-vide cooked Niman Ranch ground beef, you already know that you're in for something incredibly special.  Add to that an assortment of crucial "make-your-own-burger" accoutrement: Brioche bun, California cheddar, apple wood-smoked bacon, sliced red onion, caramelized onions, sliced tomato, butter lettuce, mayo, ketchup, and a secret sauce.  And some really, really delicious and salty kettle-cooked potato chips.

Photo courtesy of Munchery

I may have still been high from the anesthesia, but here's one sensation that I will not soon forget: When I took my first bite of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart, I had a full-body orgasm.  With a buttery, crumbly, chocolate-cookie crust that gave way to a generous amount of creamy homemade peanut butter suffocated by a layer of chocolate ganache, how could I not??  Oh my fcuking god.  WOW!    

Photo found on Pinsta.Me

For those of you who don't live in LA, I pity you.  Why?  Because you will never taste these fcuking glorious items.  However, with Munchery available in other US cities - SF, Seattle, and NYC - I'm confident that there are plenty of stellar meals/snacks that I will never get to experience, either.  I suppose it's a fair trade-off!

Want to check out Munchery for $10 off your first two orders?  CLICK HERE!  Oh, and you're welcome in advance ;-)

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Aug202015

Hey LA, what are you doing for lunch tomorrow? 

TAKE 2!!

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water invites the people of Los Angeles to ditch their desks for a midday dance party with Flavorpill presents: Lunch Break, made extraordinary by Perrier!  This unique celebration will transform cubicle dwellers into partygoers at a special 1.5 hour event where guests can groove to the spinning soundtrack of DJ Nadastrom!

Lunch Break attendees will have the chance to:

  • Dance through their lunch hour – Escape the office grind at an extraordinary daytime dance party set to the tune of DJ Nadastrom's live playlist. 
  • Sip signature cocktails by PerrierRecharge and refresh the afternoon with thirst-quenching cocktails guaranteed to kick that end-of-week slump. 
  • Enjoy a classic bagged lunch to bring back to the office – When the power-hour ends, guests will receive a throwback lunch to-go, complete with a Perrier.

Following these complimentary Lunch Break session, guests will be encouraged to donate their unused lunch money to local nonprofits that are part of the Feeding America network.  Proceeds from this particular Los Angeles event will benefit the Westside Food Bank.

Schedule & details

Friday, August 21, 2015

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

DJ: Nadastrom

Location: Lure 1439 Ivar Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

**To RSVP for Lunch Break in Los Angeles, click here!**

...

Until we dance again,

The Lunch Belle

#PerrierLunchBreak

Friday
Aug072015

(NYC) Celebrating the holidays - in July - with Champagne Taittinger

*This event and article were attended/captured by Vanessa Shoman-Duell and edited/formatted by The Lunch Belle.*

 

Last Thursday, I attended Champagne Taittinger's exclusive The Art of Celebrating The Holidays event in downtown Manhattan.

Photo courtesy of TaittingerThe world-renowned Grand Marque French Champagne house hosted their very first "winter holiday" party of the year - ahem, in July - at the private townhouse of Pamela Bell (founder of Prinkshop and co-founder of Kate Spade).  To properly "tis the season," I made my way to the soiree in my most festive holiday attire: A sassy lil' red Christian Dior number and my favorite strappy Jimmy Choo's.

Over the course of a two hour "open (town)house," approximately 75 of us very lucky folks had the pleasure of experiencing new interpretations of holiday menus and decor concepts, mouth-watering cuisine courtesy of Chef Sarah Simmons from Birds & Bubbles, plus a selection of four Taittinger Champagnes:

Photo courtesy of TaittingerPhoto courtesy of Taittinger: Chef Sarah SimmonsTaittinger's selections were perfectly paired with the evening's three holiday themes: The Champagne Cocktail Party - The Holiday Dinner - New Year's Eve Moroccan Party.  As mentioned above, Chef Sarah Simons (of Birds & Bubbles) created an outstanding array of small bites for this incredibly special evening.

The Champagne Cocktail Party

My first tantalizing bite of the eve was a house-made black pepper cracker topped with creamy shrimp rillettes.  Paired with the Taittinger Prestige Rose NV

Photo courtesy of Taittinger: Shrimp RillettesThe second hors d' oeuvre was a NY cheddar puff pastry with castelvetrano olives + smoked almonds.  Paired with Taittinger Brut La Francaise NV

The third bite was a crispy potato latke that was topped with house-cured trout, horseradish, dill, and creme fraiche.  Paired with Taittinger Brut La Francaise NV

And as if the passed hors d'oeuvres weren't enough...we were presented with a bounty of plump oysters on ice.  Tres magnifique!

Photo courtesy of Taittinger

After the Champagne Party, we were escorted to a communal table where we were seated for The Holiday Dinner.

Photo courtesy of Taittinger

To wrap up the festivities, we toasted in style at a New Year's Eve Moroccan Party.

Inspired by a classic riad, designer Sam Masters invented a Moroccan-themed lounge beneath a white muslin-draped tent.

Photo courtesy of Taittinger

Photo courtesy of Taittinger

To end the evening on a sweet note, desserts were presented both passed and served at stations.

Photo courtesy of Taittinger: French macaronsPhoto courtesy of Taittinger: Champagne truffles

Oh what a night!  This was one of the most exclusive, whimsical, delicious, romantic, and fabulous events that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing in recent memory.  I cannot wait to recreate all that I observed, learned, tasted, and sipped courtesy of Taittinger.  But one question remains: Do I have to wait until the holidays?

...

Until we eat again,

Vanessa Shoman-Duell for The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Aug062015

Hey LA, what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water invites the people of Los Angeles to ditch their desks for a midday dance party with Flavorpill presents: Lunch Break, made extraordinary by Perrier!  This unique celebration will transform cubicle dwellers into partygoers at two special 1.5 hour events where guests can groove to the spinning soundtrack of DJs such as SOSUPERSAM.

Lunch Break attendees will have the chance to:

  • Dance through their lunch hour – Guests will escape the office grind at an extraordinary daytime dance party set to the tune of DJ’s live playlists. 
  • Sip signature cocktails by PerrierGuests will recharge and refresh their afternoons with thirst-quenching cocktails sure to kick that end-of-week slump. 
  • Enjoy a classic bagged lunch to bring back to the office – When the power-hour ends, guests will receive a throwback lunch to-go, complete with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Perrier.

Following these complimentary Lunch Break sessions, guests will be encouraged to donate unused lunch money to local nonprofits that are part of the Feeding America network.  Proceeds from the Los Angeles events will benefit the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Schedule of upcoming events: 

Friday, August 7, 2015

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

DJ: SOSUPERSAM

Sound Nightclub (1642 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028)

Friday, August 21, 2015

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

DJ: TBD

Lure: 1439 Ivar Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

**To RSVP for Lunch Break in Los Angeles on 8/7, click here!  And make sure to follow #PerrierLunchBreak for updates on the 8/21 event, including the DJ announcement and the RSVP link which will be available later this month.**

...

Until we dance again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Jul302015

(Los Angeles) Reviewed: Rustic Canyon

Restaurant: Rustic Canyon

  • Cuisine: Seasonal American (menu changes frequently depending on what's fresh/in season)
  • Location: 1119 Wilshire Blvd. - Santa Monica, CA 90401  
  • Pricing: $$-$$$
  • What's delicious: Brined & Roasted Chicken
  • Perfect for: Foodies - date night - small groups - food origin/status/organic-conscious diners

...

Rustic Canyon, the crown jewel and namesake of its small umbrella of sister restaurants and culinary concepts, has long been on my queue of places to try in LA.  And I'm proud to report that, as of last weekend, I was finally able to cross this seasonal American stunner off of my list.  It only took me 14-months!

Situated within a bright and airy modern space (think floor-to-ceiling windows and a room height that soars upwards of 20 feet), the restaurant's aesthetic is as natural - yet visually attractive/tantalizing - as its food and drink offerings.

Photo found on www.lamag.comUpon arrival, Elaina and I were promptly seated at a cozy two-top that hugged the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking bustling Wilshire Blvd.  To whet our appetites, we were rather quick in ordering a round of cocktails: A cosmo for her and the "Dirty Gibson" (Aviation Gin, Dolin dry vermouth, house-made cocktail onion, and onion brine) for me.  While the "house-made cocktail onion and onion brine" sounded sexy on the menu, I found the flavor to be a bit off-putting.  Don't get me wrong, I love onions - whether fried in rings or freshly-chopped and scattered atop my Mexican food - just not in the 'sippable' form.  In the future, I'll stick with my go-to: A "filthy" Hendrick's Gin martini on the rocks.  Served with as many olives that will fit on a toothpick.  And a "double shot" of olive juice on the side.

In an effort to sample more menu items, Elaina and I split everything we ordered.

.

Appetizers 

Summer Bean Salad

Blue Lake and Romano beans (both similar in shape and texture to the green bean) were dressed with salted, chopped almonds and sweet pluot segments (of the plum family) before being tossed in a tangy blue cheese dressing.

Elaina and I loved the texture that came courtesy of the crunchy beans and almonds, plus the sweet/salty flavor contrast that resulted when the pluots kissed the blue cheese.

Summer Bean Salad.

Grilled 'Le Grand' Nectarine

When I hear the word "summer," I automatically think of nectarines.  So when I spotted this salad on the menu, I demanded that it be included in our appetizer order.

Perched atop a fluffy "cloud" of homemade ricotta cheese were loose leaves of fragrant basil and arugula, fried polenta "croutons," and slices of perfectly-ripened nectarines that had spent just enough time atop the grill to gain their coveted "marks."  Drizzled olive oil, freshly-ground black pepper, and sea salt completed the dish. 

Although the flavors were bold and exciting, it was the texture of the nectarine's warm, melt-in-your-mouth flesh against the cool ricotta cheese that was truly transcendent. 

Grilled 'Le Grand' Nectarine.

Pappa al Pomodoro

As if the sound of "...a rich Tuscan tomato stew" wasn't seductive enough, add "...thickened with pieces of day-old bread."  And, for $3 extra, an ice cream-scoop of burrata cheese!

"This stew is so thick that you could eat it with a fork," our waitress chuckled.  So, you can imagine her surprise when Elaina and I asked her for a few slices of grilled bread for dipping purposes...

Pappa al Pomodoro.

Entree

Brined & Roasted Chicken

Plated atop a bed of creamed corn kernels and Vadouvan curry jus was the juiciest, moistest chicken that I've had to date.  The bird was oddly crowned with warm romaine lettuce leaves (Sorry, I just don't understand the "cooked lettuce" trend.  It's off-putting!). 

Never one to order chicken at a restaurant (What?  It's fcuking boring.  You may as well order tofu, for god's sake!), I was completely blown away by this dish's unique preparation (brining prior to roasting).  Like I said in the paragraph above this one, I've never had a more moist piece of poultry, save for a fried turkey at Thanksgiving.  While breading and deep-frying is typically favorable, the brining method is much more heart - and waistline - healthy.

Brined & Roasted Chicken

Aside from the fact that Rustic Canyon's food/drink is exemplary, it's dishes are composed of ingredients sourced from farmers and ranchers who practice sustainable agriculture.  And that, to me, is a beautiful thing. 

In my 14-months of living in LA, this is one of my most favorite meals and, certainly, a restaurant in which I plan to return.

...

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Wednesday
Jul292015

(NYC) App review: NightOwl

The thing about LA is that it's the proverbial red headed step-child of NYC.  And rightfully so!  Sorry, LA, but it's true: Everything happens New York.  And everything happens in New York first.  From the hottest new workout sensation and organic "make your own salad" joint (I'm talking about you, sweetgreen!) - to fashion and trends in every single market, the Big Apple will always reign supreme. 

And speaking of yet another thing that hasn't quite made its way to the City of Angels: NightOwl - a smart, mood-based bar/nightlife recommendation app.  Think of it as the Seamless Web (or another website where you can filter what you're craving by almost any genre under the sun) of bar-hopping.  

Here's how it works:

  • NightOwl pulls data that's scattered around the web - along with its user-submitted tags - to get you to a bar that you'll love for any situation.
  • These tailored bar recommendations will be based on the time and day of the week of your search...because we all know that a hungover Sunday afternoon is completely different than a raring-to-go Friday night at "quittin' time."

I mean, imagine the possibilities!  I can think of like 10 situations/week where I'd use NightOwl: Happy hour, girl's night, celebratory post-work cocktails (Let's pretend someone got promoted! Bahahhah, as if!), blind date, brunch 'drink and drown' options...shall I continue?  Sorry, I like love to drink!

Open the app - filter by location, then "categories" and "features"...and review your custom results!OK, NYC: If you didn't already download this app after reading the second paragraph in this post, what the hell are you waiting for?  Seriously, do it!  It's free!  And amazing!  And so necessary!  And...so not yet in LA.  Sigh...

...

Until we drink again,

The Lunch Belle