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  • 6/20-6/23: Milwaukee
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Entries in Culinary event invitations & coverage (69)


The Weekly Eater: 1/27 - 2/03

Since I'm transitioning in to a new-ish role at work, my schedule is kind of all over the place.  That, paired with the fact that I've just begun a month-long "academy" at Barry's Bootcamp (which is a 5x/week commitment - every weekday morning at 6am).  Needless to say, I'm exhausted.  But I'm also really excited about the new challenges ahead.

So, because I'm a bit pressed for time, I thought that, at least until I get in to a routine, I will start posting a summary of my favorite eats/drinks/activities/etc. from the week prior.  Hopefully, every Monday or Tuesday...


What I loved and/or really stood out last week (1/27 - 2/03)

Jamba Juice's "Brown Sugar Crumble" Oatmeal

I remember reading somewhere that Jamba Juice's oatmeal was" really good and way better than Starbucks" which, to be honest, didn't really mean anything to me.  I typically hate oatmeal.  And I think that the food at Starbucks - minus the cake pops - is sub par. 

Sick of my usual routine - which included a Nature Valley granola bar - I decided to give Jamba Juice's oatmeal a shot.  Unbeknownst to me, it happened to be "$1 oatmeal day" on the morning that I stopped in the store (which, by the way, happens *every* Wednesday!).  What an incentive, right?  I mean, what did I really have to lose for $1?

I chose the "Brown Sugar Crumble" because it was the lowest-calorie of the trio (registering at 220 calories/single serving), which also includes Blueberry/Blackberry and Fresh Banana.  Upon opening the container, my first observation was how scrumptiously attractive the oatmeal appeared.  By that, I mean it didn't look like a grey glop.  Beneath a crust of fresh brown sugar was a heaping helping of oatmeal.  I liked how visibly textured it appeared - you know, dispersed with tons of tiny lumpy-bits. 

Warm and comforting, just like that favorite blanket on your sofa, this transcendent bowl of slow-cooked porridge did not disappoint.  Since that first bite nearly 6-weeks ago, I eat this delicious oatmeal every single morning.  It's actually what I look forward to when I wake up! 

Now THAT is some sexy oatmeal!


Soul Cycle

"Spin is in."  And I have always bled Flywheel's black and blue.  However, in anticipation of a friend's upcoming birthday at Soul Cycle, I figured that I should take one class to familiarize myself prior to her event.

I wanted to hate it.  So bad.  I wanted to walk out of the studio post-class - roll my eyes - and feel reassured that Flywheel reigned supreme.  Well, that didn't happen.  I found Soul Cycle to be very different, but in a really refreshing and positive way.  Without a calibrated number on your bike, you don't feel like you're battling yourself or competing against the girl next to you.  Because, at Flywheel, you're only as good as your last number.  Period.  And, at least when I spin, I just want to lose myself in the rhythm of the music and enjoy the dark serenity surrounding me.  Additionally, at Soul Cycle, other body parts are incorporated in to the exercise beyond just your legs.  It's a winning formula.

This does not mean that I'm a convert, it just means that I appreciate and respect the differences between Soul Cycle and Flywheel



$1 oysters every weekday from 5:30pm-8pm at Millesime's Oyster Bar

Spicy Tuna Tartare  If you love the contents of a well made spicy tuna roll, then this appetizer is for you:  A rectangular mold of lightly-bound tuna tartare is topped with a crunchy slaw and fried wonton strips for texture, and finished with an agave-soy jus.  Absolute decadence and sheer perfection.

Cherry/Chocolate Croissant Pudding  This was, without a doubt, one of the most memorable desserts I've had of late.  Imagine, if you will, a ramekin filled with warm, gooey, intensely-rich "bread pudding."  Only, instead of day-old bread, Millesime's version is made with chocolate/cherry croissant scraps.  And is crowned with a scoop of chocolate ice cream that nearly liquefies when placed atop the warm pudding.  Heavenly...


7-11's "Vermont Blueberry" coffee  I know, I know.  This sounds completely asinine, gnarly and, in all honesty, makes absolutely no sense.  Blueberry coffee?  Trust me, I was so geeked out when I saw this flavor at the 7-11 on 7th Avenue...that I had to taste it!  And guess what?  It's actually *really* good!  Seriously, if you see this wacky blend at your local 7-11, give it a try and please let me know what you think! 


A Taste of Modern Luxury: Celebrity Cruises Pops Up in New York City   Of any "pop up" that I've ever attended, this was, by far, the best.  Held at The Kitchen, the team from Celebrity Cruises "came to land," if you will, to showcase cocktails from resident mixologist, Junior Merino, and culinary creations prepared by Chef John Suley.

Tasteful and lovely decor in the "Molecular Bar" area of the space. 

Junior Merino pours one of his signature cocktails.

My first cocktail of the evening was the "El Angel," which was a concoction of:  Dehydrated Hibiscus, citrus, Dainzu Gomme, tequila blanco, mezcal joven, and Junior Merino's Aleppo Pepper Lime Rimmer

After finishing my first cocktail within minutes, I chose to proceed with "Coming Up Roses," a concoction made of:  Bacardi Razz, lime, Dainzu Rose Essence, rose petals, champagne, and Junior Merino's Rasberry Rose Foam.

About 3/4 of the way finished with my second cocktail, Michelle and I were whisked to our table for dinner.  Let me just say that if the three courses we enjoyed are anything akin to what is served onboard, I am confident that a Celebrity Cruise will be in my *very* near future...

Bread & salted butter for the tableJerusalem Artichoke Veloute: Iberico ham, black trumpet mushrooms, sourdough croutons, marscaponeHandmade Ricotta Cavatelli: Wild mushroom fricassee, mach, parmigiano reggiano, shaved black truffles (look at those truffles!!!)Five Spice Crusted Cervena Venison Loin: Celery root fondant, wilted spinach, red cabbage marmalade, lingonberry sauceSeared Halibut (this was my favorite dish of the evening): Salsify, beef oxtail marmalade, Brussels sprouts, parmesan emulsion

Pork and "Beans": Tenderloin, cheek, tarbals beans, collard greens, heirloom carrots, cider jus

Strawberry Fields and CustardsWarm Pineapple Tart Tatin: Coconut rum ice cream, lime confit, passion fruitValrhona Cocoa Cake: Chocolate mousse, peanut butter creme brulee, salted caramel ice cream


Needless to say, it was a very delicious and eventfull week! 

Thank you all, in advance, for your patience as I transition in to my new schedule. 


Until we eat again (next week),

The Lunch Belle


One week. Two fetes. Celebrating Sirio Maccioni

How lucky am I to have been invited to not one, but two events for Sirio Maccioni, famous restaurateur and author, in one week? 

Despite having never dined at the famed restaurant, Le Cirque is an establishment/mecca that I have been familiar with my entire life.  From a very young age, I was always fascinated and intrigued by the illustrious NYC dining scene.  And, even though I was reading my monthly issues of Bon Appetit from my bedroom in El Paso, Texas, I was well-aware that there was not a brighter star than Le Cirque (...in fact, it's so famous, that it has its own Wikipedia link!!).  So, you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to attend the book launch for Sirio Maccioni's 'A Table At Le Cirque' at...Le Cirque!


Personalized cocktail napkins for the scrumptious passed hors d'oeuvres, flowing glasses of wine, prosecco, and the open bar~

AranciniSigned copies of 'A Table At Le Cirque' available for purchase~

The who's who of the culinary and food media worlds were in attendance:  Pamela Fiori, who co-authored the book, Susan Magrino, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian, Terrance Brennan, and, his majesty, Danny Meyer...

Danny Meyer - Pamela Fiori - Sirio Maccioni...and this lovely woman, seated with Mr. Maccioni.  While I'm not sure who she is, I have a feeling that she definitely is "someone."  I aspire to be this gorgeous at her age!

**Update**  Siva, one of my readers, informed me that this is Carmen Dell'Orefice, the oldest working model in the world.  And it's very clear to me *why.*


As if it were even possible for an event to be more fabulous than the book launch at Le Cirque, last night's preview party for Mr. Maccioni's new Tuscan-inspired restaurant, Sirio Ristorante, was, by far, the most outstanding "food event" that I've attended, to date.

Nestled street-level at The Pierre (a super-fancy, 5-star property), Sirio Ristorante has an incredibly prime location that hugs the corner of 61st Street and 5th Avenue. 

Assuming that event entry would be through the restaurant, itself, guests were instead ushered through the hotel's lobby. 

This sign let guests know that they were headed in the right direction.

The lobby's stunning mezzanine was the first point of event entry.  Guests were gifted with passed hors d'oeuvres and glasses of wine/prosecco.

Mr. Maccioni posed for photo after photo on the step-and-repeat...

There was a plethora of press/media in attendance...

Guests had the option of gracing the restaurant, itself, or the ballroom.  I chose to first check out the ballroom...

Note the incredible fall-centric floral arrangement!

The lighting was among the best I've ever seen...

General merriment...

Bubbly cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres made the rounds and, at each end of the room, there was a full-bar.

A live jazz trio played sexy French tunes.  The singer was fantastic!

I walked across the mezzanine to the handsome restaurant, which was abuzz and filled with guests.  The who's who of New York's high society was in attendance, including Jonathan Tisch and Mayor Bloomberg.  I gawked - and admired - dressy hats, fabulous attire, bags that, easily, cost more than my yearly salary, and gems in every color of the rainbow.

Waiters, passing slightly heavier hors d'oeuvres - plus wine and prosecco, carefully made their way through the maze of impeccably-dressed attendees. 

This is often referred to as "Italian Champagne," because of its never-ending string of bubbles and crisp, dry body.

I particularly fancied the risotto...

...and the meatballs.

After one too many glasses of wine and bubbly - plus a stomach filled with risotto and meatballs - I decided to call it a night.  An outstanding one, at that! 

Party favors were individually-wrapped disks of caramel, dipped in dark chocolate.

FYISirio Ristorante opens today, 10/25/12.  And, as if anyone could ever have their fill of fabulous, my friend - and birthday girl - Tammi and I are headed to there tonight for cocktails and snacks at the bar.  Why not? 


To conclude:  15-20 years ago, this dreamy, head-in-the-clouds teenager would have been in utter disbelief if you told her that her future "grown up" life would involve attending - and writing about - events, book launches, and restaurant openings.  In New York City.  Involving many of the characters she grew up worshiping.  Why?  Because these opportunities and experiences are, truly, unbelieveable.  I still pinch myself every single day.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Cranberry bogging in the heart of Rock Center

I love the fall.  From the chill in the air to the warm colors of the season, October through mid-December (which I consider to be fall) is, easily, my favorite time of the year.  And, it also happens to be when my calendar is dotted with some of my most cherished foodie events; namely, Ocean Spray's "Bogs Across America."  The company (Ocean Spray) makes its annual pilgrimage to NYC and sets up a live cranberry bog - filled with 2,000 fresh, floating cranberries - in the heart of Rockefeller Center.

This year, I invited my friend, Robin, to join me at the private cocktail reception held *inside of the bog* - outdoors - at Rockefeller Center (just beyond the ice skating rink)!  While many of the guests exchanged their 'business casual' heels and loafers for waterproof waders and suspenders, the two of us stayed dry - outside of the bog - and enjoyed a plethora of delicious, cranberry-based cocktails and nibbles, catered by Great Performances

Please enjoy my photo collage from, yet another, fantastic Ocean Spray event...

...But first:  Did you know that the famous ice skating rink (at Rockefeller Center) has opened for the season?  Neither did I!

Giant Ocean Spray banner posted outside of 30 Rock! Yummy reception menu, catered by Great Performances"Cherry Bog" Cocktail"Crushed Pineapple Collins" Cocktails

Guests wading inside of the bog!Makeshift bar (on land)Indeed, it is! Thanks for coming with, Robin! :)~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


A weekend with my Mom, the Southern (Lunch) Belle...

There are no if's-and's-or but's about it - my parents just don't really like NYC.  They think it's dirty, crowded, expensive as hell, either too cold or too hot, and unfriendly.  And you know what?  I'm not going to disagree with them on those points; however, NYC has positive attributes that completely outweigh the negative.  So, for Mom's visit last weekend, I was hell-bent on changing her pessimistic outlook on what I find to be the greatest city on earth.

"You and Dad totally have to come in for the NYC Wine & Food Festival," I mentioned, while chatting on the phone with Mom.  "It's October 11th through the 14th, which means that the weather won't be insanely hot - or cold.  Plus, y'all haven't been here in like 2 years!"  While Mom agreed that the Festival sounded fantastic, Dad decided to stay behind, which would allow for the two of us to have a proper "girl's weekend." 

Thursday, 10/11

Mom arrived at my apartment around 5pm and was eagerly greeted by me and Lucy, the dog.  The jury's still out on who she was more excited to see.  Since I knew that she'd be famished from the *lack* of airplane food/meals, I made sure to have my kitchen stocked with some of my favorite local treats:  Super Duper Spicy Rosemary Nuts and *salted caramel chocolate chip cookies* from new obsession, Gotham Cookies (her Twitter handle is @GothamCookies).  

Is this NOT the most gorgeous cookie you've ever seen??

For dinner, we headed to The Cellar at Beecher's, one of my favorite 'semi hidden gems' in the Flatiron neighborhood. 

But, since we had filled up on so many snacks at my apartment, we decided to simply drink multiple glasses of wine and split the Three Cheese Plate + a Burrata & Pluot salad.  How dainty!

From clockwise: Beecher's Flagship (cheddar) + sweet pickles - blue + dark chocolate shavings - Manchego + fig preserves - Camembert + candied walnuts Burrata & Pluot (salad)Friday, 10/12

Mom and I attended the NYC Wine & Food Festival's Welcome Brunch - hosted by Festival Founder & Director, Lee Schrager - at Dream Downtown's rooftop.

Lee Schrager, Festival Founder & Director, welcomed everyone.There was not a shortage of delicious things to eat and drink...

Pre-mixed Bellinis from Wilson CreekSmoked salmonQuicheMy plate of brunch bitesAnd lots of yummy sweets...

Before leaving the brunch, Mom wanted to freshen up in the ladies room.  To her surprise, it was a unisex facility!  Since she had never seen/encountered this type of bathroom arrangement before, she made me snap a photo so that she could show all of her friends back in Texas...


On one side is women's toilets, on the other, men's. The space is divided by communal handwashing sinks.From brunch, we headed to the Hospitality Suite at the Soho House to pick up my media passes for the Festival ... And to nosh on more breakfast bites.

Mom and I arrived back at my apartment around 12:30pm and fetched Lucy.  The three of us spent the afternoon shopping and running errands.

Just before 6pm, we headed back out to attend Cooking Channel's Meatpacking Uncorked, "...an open-air walk-around exploration through the Meatpacking District’s bountiful boutique shops and eclectic eateries."  While most of the shops and streets were jam-packed with fellow guests, Mom and I sought refuge at non-Festival-affiliated "Urban Space," a multi-vendor marketplace.  This is where I discovered - and fell in love with - Kirakira Jewelry by Suz Somersall.

Source: kirakira jewelry dot comSunset over the Meatpacking DistrictLuckily, we made it just in time for our 7:30pm dinner reservation at Rubirosa, my favorite Italian.  After our meal, Mom and I headed back to the Dream Hotel for Cocktails Ever After with Bethenny Frankel.  The event was presented by Skinnygirl, Bethenny's line of lo-cal alcoholic beverages. 

Skinnygirl motifStep & repeatBethenny!After Bethenny posed for photographs, the party officially began!  In fact, the music was so good, that even the DJ could not stop dancing!

Saturday, 10/13

Considering it was a Saturday, Mom and I got off to an early start.  While I squeezed in an 8:45am workout at Barry's Bootcamp, she watched Lucy and got ready for the day ahead.

Since Mom's friend, Kimmie, gave her a Serendipity cookbook for her birthday this year, I thought that it would be fun to lunch at the actual restaurant.  After all, neither of us had ever been...

Having walked past the outrageously-long lines outside of Serendipity on numerous prior occasions, I made sure to call ahead and snag a lunch reservation.  When we arrived for our 11:30am seating, I was greeted by a scary host who barked at me to "wait at the end of the line!"  Yikes.  When I informed him that I had a reservation, he was taken aback - apologized - and we were seated immediately.

Serendipity: Cool digs!Serendipity: Mom and I shared a delicious Frrrrozen Hot ChocolateSerendipity: Mom LOVED the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate! So did I.Serendipity: Mom and I split a fantastic Chicken Pot Pie!Serendipity also happens to have a pretty cute gift shop where I scored this little number:  A Chanel-esque iPhone cover!!  Note the quilting!

After lunch, Mom and I window shopped before heading to my new favorite place on earth, The Plaza Food Hall.  While I couldn't tell you much about the revamp of Todd English's restaurant (I have not dined there post-revamp, though I very much enjoyed it 'pre.'), I can say that the marketplace - featuring tons of products from local artisans - and kiosks - including FP Patisserie, Lady M, William Greenberg Desserts, and Sushi of Gari (among many others) - are fcuking fantastic.  Both tourists and locals, alike, will fall in love with this gourmand's paradise!

After window shopping along Madison Avenue, Mom and I decided to go 'high-class bar hopping.'  We had about 1.5 hours to kill before we were to meet up with some relatives, so we grabbed one drink at each of the following fancy watering holes:  Bar Pleiades and Bemelman's Bar.

Bemelman's Bar: Mom and me sipping our cranberry margaritasWhile waiting to meet our relatives at The Library, I was shocked - and ecstatic - to see alma mater's football team kicking the crap out of WVU.  It's not often that I see a college football game being televised at a fancy hotel bar!!

Wreck 'em, Tech!Full from munching on gratis bar snacks and too tired to dine-out, Mom and I ended up eating Beecher's cheese/crackers and ice cream for dinner.  :-)

Sunday, 10/14

Mom and I slept in until about 9am, then headed downtown to the World Trade Center.  Prior to her arrival, she informed me that, in order to see the 9/11 Memorial, one must request a free visitor's pass.  Otherwise, entry is prohibited.  Unfortunately, I was unable to procure passes in time, as my schedule that weekend was purely determinant upon which media tickets I would receive for the NYC Wine & Food Festival.  "That's fine," Mom said, "we'll get passes the next time I'm in town." 

I never purposely go down to the World Trade Center site.  It's too much.  Just as it's a sensitive place for everyone else, I did my internship there in the summer of 2001, and returned to college in Texas just weeks before 9/11. 

Showing Lucy where I did my internship...Since Mom had not been to the site since 2005, she wanted to see the progression of the Freedom Tower.

Afterward, we walked over to Battery Park City and grabbed lunch at PJ Clarkes on the Hudson

Following a successful shopping adventure at our new favorite boutique, C. Wonder, we met my Cousin Larry for a stroll on the *NON dog-friendly* High LineSad face.   

Me, Lucy, and Mom on the High Line (...this was prior to getting kicked out for having a dog in tow)Just as we were exiting the High Line, I spotted my friend, the Foodie Magician -  followed by my Aunt Sherry, in town from La Jolla, with son, Jeff, and daughter-in-law, May.  Small world!

Since she had never eaten Lebanese, I made dinner reservations for Mom and me at ilili, one of my favorite restaurants.  After all, I wanted something special for her last night in town.

We began our meal with a lovely bottle of Lebanese red, from the Chateau Kefraya vineyard.  This was followed by a gratis amuse bouche, of sorts, of toasted pita and labne.

Toasted pita, labneMom and I shared the following mezze (small plates):





Brussels Sprouts


There were additional dishes but, since I took all of the photos with my iPhone, many of them did not turn out very well.  Especially given the dimly-lit dining room.  


So, you ask, did Mom enjoy herself?  Yes!  I was so thrilled and overjoyed to watch as her face lit up upon meeting and spending time with Lucy - tasting new cuisines - attending a major food event - window shopping - and not being struck by too crappy of weather.  Believe it or not, Mom's already talking about her next visit! 

All in all, it was a very successful, delicious, and action-packed weekend. 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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