Welcome

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

For those of you who enjoy highly thorough and traditional restaurant reviews, you may find them located here.  Pressed for time?  Take a peek at The Weekly Eater, where I condense seven days in to one summarized post.

But that's not all!  Additionally, I...

  • ~ For tourists, I can help you create itineraries and answer any questions you may have/offer advice for your upcoming visit to NYC.
  • ~ I can consult and/or advise on all of your small and large events.
  • ~ I will assist you with restaurant recommendations.

 

Just consider me your one-stop NYC-shop!

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Need more streamlined advice?  Shoot me an email with your specific requests:  Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.

Thursday
Jul182013

El Paso...In words and pictures

In honor of America's birthday - the wedding of a family friend - and for the sheer fact that I had not been home in 1.5 years, I recently made my way back to the West Texas town of El Paso.  In addition to my sister and her boyfriend coming in from California, my dog, Lucy, and their dogs, Alfie and Zoey, also made the journey.  It was quite a reunion!

...

<3 Lucy <3Because I'm an idiot honest citizen, I paid American Airlines' $250 round trip "pet fee" for Miss Lucy to be able to fly beside me (as opposed to stowage).  And, while we've flown together once before, I must say that my lil' princess was remarkably quiet and well-behaved. 

By the way, did you know that you can walk your leashed pooch inside of airports?  No?  Me neither! 

...

Touching down in the "Sun City"Believe it or not, the 100+ degree heat was actually much more bearable than the 80-90 degree temperatures in NYC.  Why, you ask?  Because El Paso has virtually no humidity.

...

Having arrived close to noon, Mom and I stopped by Cafe Italia and fetched some freshly-baked, wood-fired bread, plus a log of handmade mozzarella.  Next, we went to a nursery that was selling just-picked tomatoes.

For lunch, I made individual insalata caprese "stacks" using sliced tomatoes, sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, a small drizzle of each-thick balsamic and olive oil, a fresh basil leaf, a buttery slice of ripe avocado, mozzarella cheese (at room temperature), and finished off with a few minced pieces of garlic.  We used the gorgeous wood-fired bread segments to sop up extra oil and vinegar.

...And for dessert, a "Texas-sized" bowl of cherries.

...

I watched with admiration as Ofelia, my adoptive grandmother and the woman who taught me how to cook, gathered ingredients and slowly prepared dinner.

The transformation of fresh ingredients to an irresistable pan of chile-con-quesoMaking handmade cheese enchiladas with green sauce...

Post-dinner, we drank pomegranate margaritas and shot off fireworks!  In the front yard, of course.

Pomegranate margaritaTNT, bitches!...

Lucy and her cousin, Alfie (and Zoey - not shown), had a great time playing in the grass.  Chasing their tails.  And swimming in the pool...

Lucy loved the long, lazy days spent chillaxing in refrigerated air...

...and getting lots and lots of attention!

In fact, all three of the pups were included in this year's family "Christmas card" photo!

...

While I spent my "me time" cooking, swimming, sunning, and catching up with old friends and family, my sister and her beau did some sightseeing...

Her crazy ass walked the bridge over to Juarez, Mexico!...and she came across these cl-ASS-y bar stools!...

I tried to catch the bride's bouquet...and lost out to an 80-something year old woman.  Who was probably married.  Or, at the very least, married at some point in her *long* life.   

That's me with the long hair + raised hands...

In honor of my sister's belated birthday - and to pay tribute to our recent holiday in Hawaii - I made a Haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding) cake.  From scratch. 

...

Have you seen a cooler "cooler?"  Me neither!  #onlyinelpaso

...

Lucy and I were sad to leave...

...but we'll be back for Thanksgiving!

 

~~~

Until next time, El Paso!

The Lunch Belle

Wednesday
Jul172013

From fried Twinkies to sous-vide beef filet: Recent musings in food, drink, and mi vida loca

These are a few of my favorite things:  Weekly monthly musings in life, food & drink  (mid-June to mid-July 2013)

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Skinny.  Sugar-free.  Chai.  Frappe.  From Koffecake Korner.   This icy drink will change your life, especially if you count calories and/or watch your weight.  Sure, the other guys have the option of sugar-free syrups and Splenda packets, but nothing - and I mean nothing - is legitimately this delicious.  And low in calories.  Imagine, if you will, a chai latte from Starbucks that has been poured over ice, finished with skim milk, then blended in to a perfect, dense froth.   What better way to beat the heat?

...

Friends who can cookLike really, really well.  And invite you over to their fabulous apartments for dinner parties... 

Beet + goat cheese terrine with pistachiosProsciutto, peaches, and baby lettucesFilet of beef (prepared in a sous-vide device), risotto with spring vegetablesPanna cotta with pistachios and roasted peachesThank you for a lovely evening, Phil + Courtney!

 ...

Fried Twinkies.  Was it the hangover that made this heart-stopper so ridiculously delicious?  Maybe.  Or was it the fact that I'm a total junk-food whore, trying to blame a cheap over-indulgence on a particularly-sloppy Saturday night?  Eh, who cares.  The bottom line is this:  The Fried Twinkie at The Stumble Inn is worth every last grease-laden calorie. 

The Stumble Inn's Fried TwinkieSink your teeth in to a crunchy, buttery fried exterior that slowly gives way to a warm, cakey interior oooooooooozing with molten, white artificial-frosting.  Drool.

...

Summer Fancy Food Show.  "North America’s largest specialty food and beverage marketplace. Between the Winter Show in San Francisco and the Summer Show in New York City, the Specialty Food Association events bring in more than 40,000 attendees from more than 80 countries and regions to see 260,000 innovative specialty food products, such as confections, cheese, coffee, snacks, spices, ethnic, natural, organic and more."

...And I snagged a press pass!  It was at this very event when I learned that one of my favorite store-bought salsa brands, Herdez, is owned by (gasp) Hormel!  Under the "MegaMex" umbrella.  Eck.  Oh, and did you know that Herdez (or shall I say "Hormel") now makes tortilla chips?  What do you mean I'm the last to know?  We don't really have "big box" supermarkets here in Manhattan.

What in the hell is this?Tortilla chips. And enchilada sauces.But then there were plenty of authentic, small-batch, unique food/drink items to make up for those displayed by corporate giants...

A rich, gooey, imported French cheeseDried fruits tightly bound in to a cake - to be sliced for consumption.Salem Baking Co: Moravian ginger cookies topped with cheese and other savory elementsRegardless of the Herdez buzzkill, I had a fantastic Sunday afternoon at the Summer Fancy Food Show.  What more could a self-professed foodoholic ask for? 

...

This photo reminds me of me and my bestfriend.  Circa junior year of high school.   We certainly put the "ass" in "gym class."

...

Did you know that the famed Salt Lick BBQ has an outpost in DFW Airport's terminal A?  I didn't either, until I literally stumbled right in to it on my way to El Paso a few weeks ago.  And proceeded to order a smoked brisket, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito...

Salt Lick BBQ at DFW Airport: Smoked brisket, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito...

The Riviera, my favorite Mexican restaurant in my hometown (El Paso, TX), began selling their famous enchilada sauces and table salsa in stores across El Paso and via e-commerce.  I cannot tell you how fcuking exciting it is for me to finally be able to recreate the Riviera's life-altering cheese enchiladas in my very own kitchen.  In the heart of Manhattan!

The Riviera's green sauce is the key to kick ass enchiladas!...

Because of my white-as-typing-paper skin tone, I don't tan as rapidly or as golden-ly as I would like.  So, you can understand why I got such a kick out of this photo.  Especially having Irish ancestry, and all... 

...

Fairway Market.  On 26th Street & 6th Avenue.  It's opening (finally) on July 24th...a week from today!  Did I mention how fcuking excited I am? 

Fairway Market Chelsea (taken from the window): Making significant progress!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Friday
Jul122013

My favorite spots & experiences on the island of Oahu

As many of you know, I recently returned (OK, it's actually been a month-ish now, but who's counting?) from a week-long holiday in paradise.  Otherwise known as the Hawaiian island of Oahu... 

Since one of our family members owns a beach-front home in the town of Kailua (located on the windward side of Oahu), as a youngster, I was fortunate enough to get to vacation there every other Christmas break.  And, while I appreciated it then, it really wasn't until this most recent visit that I fell even deeper in love with this remote isle of paradise.   

So, if you find yourself planning a visit to the island of Oahu, have a look at some of my personal recommendations and experiences, below.  Mahalo!

...

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Obviously, you can't drive to the islands of Hawaii.  Or take a train.  Boat?  Maybe.  Personally, I'd rather get there as soon as humanly possible, so I fly.

Unlike family members, you have the good fortune of being able to choose which air carrier will have the privilege of flying you to paradise.  Might I recommend Hawaiian Airlines?  If you think that all most of the domestic carriers suck as much as I do, then I'm willing to be that you'd be quite pleasantly surprised by Hawaiian.  From the soothing ukulele music playing overhead - the less expensive seat/class upgrades than "the other guys" - the quality selection of Hawaiian food/snacks and beverages - to the indescribable feeling of truly "leaving it all behind" from the moment you board, there really isn't a faster way to physically - or mentally - get to Hawaii.

Doesn't the "hula girl" on the tail make you smile?To rent a car or to not rent a car?  That is the question.  And here's the answer:  RENT A CAR!  There are just way too many amazing adventures to be had outside of Honolulu/Waikiki Beach. 

...

Shelter

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is the first - and the only - place I've ever stayed on Waikiki Beach.  While there are tons of fabulous hotels to choose from, I don't think I could bare to try something else.  It would be like cheating on a significant other.  Or something.  I don't know - I just can't explain it.  Sure, the rooms aren't anything extraordinary - aside from the fact that most have balconies - but the grounds are quite spectacular.  And, if you're in town on a Friday, make sure to catch the weekly fireworks show that begins around 6:45pm!  It's quite an event. 

Pulling up to the open-air lobby of the Hilton Hawaiian VillageThe Rainbow Tower at the Hilton Hawaiian VillageHilton Hawaiian Village: A plethora of shops awaitHilton Hawaiian Village: Hang out with tropical penguins!Hilton Hawaiian Village: Make sure to snag an ocean-front room with killer views of Waikiki BeachHilton Hawaiian Village: Grab a Hawaiian breakfast on the beach at Tropics Bar & GrilleHilton Hawaiian Village: Sunbathe and play on Waikiki Beach ...

Excursions

From Pearl Harbor to Hanauma Bay, I've done nearly every adventurous/historical activity on the island of Oahu.  And, while all of them are very much worth checking out, one of the most epic was our recent visit to the infamous North Shore.  Unlike in the winter time, during the summer months, the legendary waters that produce 30-foot waves are transformed in to a glassy and serene swimming pool, of sorts.  

Head to Waimea Bay Beach Park for an adrenaline-packed day of...wait for it...cliff diving!  If that sounds too adventurous for you, bring some snorkel gear, a camera, some sunscreen and enjoy a relaxing day on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  As for me?  I'll wave to you from the cliff.  Pre-jump.

Waimea Bay Beach Park: Cliff diving in paradiseWaimea Bay Beach Park: Excited to climb up the cliff for jump #2...

My favorite spots to dine & nibble on the island of Oahu

Island Snow

Shave ice!Matsumoto Shave Ice

Green tea shave ice with sweet red beans and vanilla ice creamBuzz's Steakhouse

Kalapawai Market - Cafe

Agnes' Portuguese Bakeshop

MalasadasManny's Bakeshop & Restaurant

Mini onion and red bean hopiaTanaka of Tokyo

...

Foods/drinks you *must* try while in Hawaii

Ahi poke

Shave ice

Macadamia nuts

Pineapple

POG juice

Purple sweet potatoes

Haupia pie/cake

Malasadas

Azuki beans

Mai Tai

Mai Tai

~~~

Until we hula again,

The Lunch Belle

Tuesday
Jul022013

Because, aside from eating well, you also like to look hot: Let's talk about Botox/Juviderm/fillers, baby!

So go ahead and admit it, Lil' Miss Perfect:  You've either been injected or have seriously considered going "under the needle."  No way, you say?  Psssh.  You're fcuking lying!

I went "under the needle" for the first time in 2011.  In - where else - Los Angeles.   After receiving Botox in my forehead/brows, Juviderm in my smile lines, and some lip-filler...I felt like a new woman.  Well, it actually took a few days for everything to "set in."  In fact, 4-5 days post injection, I can tell you this:  It sure as hell wouldn't have been my forehead/eyebrows revealing any sign of happiness/surprise had you told me that I'd just won the lottery.  While my lips didn't look all that different, I simply could not get over my "semi-frozen forehead." 

Although treatments wear off after 4-8 months, it took me about a year to finally find a fabulous NYC-based dermatologist who specializes in "injectables."  I don't trust this face to just anybody.  And you shouldn't, either!  Last week, my friend, Victoria, had a "Botox/filler party" at her doctor's office.  Prices-per-syringe were being offered at such a fantastic discount that I would have been an a-hole to say no.  Plus, it had been 5-months since my last round of injections.  I felt a bit guilty "cheating" on my dermatologist but, at the end of the day, I'm all about saving a buck (or a few hundred).  Sorry Doc!

I was up in the air as to whether I should get filler in my top lip.  Why?  Go ahead and give the outermost portion of your pout the tiniest pinch.  Now, tell me about the tears that just rolled down your face and the "ouch" that you belted out, simultaneously.  Imagine that happening multiple times.  It wasn't until I learned that Victoria's doctor numbed the mouth prior to injection that I decided to proceed with lip filler.  "Hell yah," I exclaimed.  "Bring it on!"   So, after receiving approximately six novocaine shots in my gums, my lips were well on their way to looking a bit more like Taylor Armstrong Anjelina Jolie's.  "Wow," the doctor said.  "You're a bleeder!"  After informing her that I had been taking multiple doses of Advil for a back ache, she suggested that, next time around, I refrain from blood-thinning pain relievers for at least two days prior to treatment.  "Oh," I sighed.  "Really?"  She also suggested that I begin taking "Arnica" right away.  "It's over-the-counter and you can buy it at health food stores.  It will help with bruising and swelling," she said.  "I can tell that you're a sweller!"  Great.  Just fcuking great.

Post-party, some friends and I went to grab drinks at Bond St.  I figured that the Arnica could wait.  Mama needed a drink!  I mean, it's not like I got that swollen or bruised the first time I went "under the needle"...

I woke up around 1am to grab some water.  While walking back to my bedroom, I decided to take a peak at my sexy new pout.  Gasp!  My top lip made Taylor Armstrong's look like Garth's (from Wayne's World)!  I had a huge black bruise on the underside of my lip and a couple of bruises on either side of my mouth.  "This is probably just a nightmare," I told myself, while crawling back in to bed. 

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!When I was growing up, my mom always told me and my sister that most people were too focused on themselves to notice anything different/new on, with, or about us.  "It takes a 20 lb. weight loss for anyone to notice.  You may feel different after 5-10 lbs., but no one will be able to tell until 20.  Trust me," she would say.  So, despite the fact that I felt like Taylor Armstrong - I hate to say it but, post-ass whipping - I was trained to believe that no one would notice my upper "duck lip" or surrounding bruises.  "Remember, no one cares about anyone but themselves."  Right, Mom...

My boss was the first to comment.  And point.  "What happened there?"  And then my cubicle mate.  Followed by two of my girlfriends who sit nearby.  "You got all Kim'd up, girl," Reetu exclaimed.  I reasoned that people were either completely obsessed with me, or that my mom could not have been any further from the truth when she told us that no one would ever notice anything.  I'm going to go with the latter on this one.  Sigh.  

So, I decided that after - having to wear more makeup than Michael Jackson to cover-up my bruises - having to cancel all of my post-work social plans - not being able to look people in the eye/keeping my head lowered, that I would turn my personal martyrdom in to some key words of advice for those of you "injectable virgins" out there.  Oh, and one more thing, I'd like to say that my unfortunate turn of "black and blue" events is of NO fault of the doctor.  Now, back to my words of advice:

  • If you are getting lip filler, make sure to find out beforehand if the doctor will numb your mouth area prior to injection.  This is a must!  Otherwise, the pain will be excruciating!
  • Unless you can/want to craft a cool story about winning a street fight/mugging, do NOT snag a mid-week appointment.  It's like a dear friend said to me after-the-fact, "Dude.  Everyone knows that you get Bobo (Botox) done on a Friday after work!  That way you have the weekend to recover."     
  • TMI alert:  Ladies, do NOT schedule your appointment the week prior or during your monthly cycle.  Blood-thinning pain relievers contribute to swelling and bruising.  'Nuff said.
  • And, speaking of bruising, make sure to visit a health food store and pick up some Arnica.  Begin taking the pills on the day of your treatment - prior to your treatment.  Continue as needed.
  • Do not press or squeeze or manipulate the treated area(s).  Leave your damn face alone!!  Not only are your hands filthy, but pressure can actually move the product to an undesired location and make you look droopy and stupid.
  • The verdict is out on ice compresses post-treatment.  I will leave that decision up to you and your doctor.

Do you have any good/funny "Bobo" stories?  I'd love to hear them.  And if you'd like some doctor referrals, I'm happy to send them your way. 

~~~

Until we inject again,

The Lunch Belle

Monday
Jun242013

Back in the saddle

My, my.  So much has happened since I last posted:  I went to Hawaii - Kimye gave birth to (gasp!) North West - James Gandolfini died and Gov. Chris Christie ordered NJ state flags lowered in his honor - Paula Deen's racist ass got fired from Food Network.  Amidst all of these new and attention-grabbing headlines, one thing remains the same:  The men in NYC - or, shall we call them "boys" - are complete a-holes.  Why are there so many creepers?  And MARRIED creepers, at that?  Sorry for the rant, y'all, it's just been a very strange/horrifying/confusing/hysterically unhysterical/dramatic past few weeks.  Let's face it, my goddamn personal life reads like a rom-com (romantic comedy).  

Anyhoo, I apologize for being M.I.A.  Work has been quite busy which, believe it or not, I actually love.  And it should go without saying that returning from a week-long vacation in paradise is straight up depressing.  Many of you know that when I'm down in the dumps, I refrain from writing.  But I'm back in the saddle, baby!  So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a plethora of blarticles (blog articles) to come from yours truly.

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 

Wednesday
Jun052013

A short - but sweet - week in food

Dear readers,

Happy Friday!  I hope that, for your sake, this sloppy, wet weather subsides for the weekend.  After all, waiting for a solid rain-free week in NYC is like waiting for the perfect man:  It's just not going to happen...

Even though I've only been able to post about 1x/week (and that's already beyond lame) lately, I just wanted to warn you that next week will likely be radio silent:  I'm heading to Hawaii tomorrow!  However, one thing you can count on is my social media presence:  Expect a shit-ton of Instragram pictures, Tweets, and Facebook posts.      

Here's to a great weekend, wherever you are!  And, as the bouncer used to say as we entered our favorite dance club in Mexico, "get drunk - have fun - no trouble."  Cheers, y'all.

...

(Note:  This restaurant has since closed)  On Tuesday night, I attended a media tasting at newish East Village French-Vegetarian, Table Verte.  Housed in a space that's smaller than my apartment, the atmosphere beckons an undeniabe charm and intimatacy. 

Although the restaurant is currently BYOB, they are working towards procuring a license.

While our entire meal was lovely, it was the first course, "grapefruit segments and melted leeks" that really stood out, both in flavor and unique concept.     

Grapefruit segments with melted leeks

Table Verte - Vegetarian-French cuisine - 127 E. 7th Street - NYC 10009

...

One of my favorite annual events is the New Taste of the Upper West Side which, for me, marks summer's unofficial arrival or "kick off."  This year, I attended Best of the West, a tented soiree showcasing fourty of the Upper West Side's best.  Including one of my personal favorites, Chef Marc Murphy!

Chef Marc Murphy

...

With all of the unsolicited dating advice I was pitched this week, I can't tell you how refreshing it was to receive both the "snail mail" Waiting for the Perfect Man card (further above in this post) - and this lil' number, below.  Thank you for the lighthearted laughs, Siva!  God knows I needed it this week...

And, on that note, my friends, I bid you adieu!  Wishing you and yours a safe, happy, healthy, and delicious weekend!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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