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Entries in Holidays and the City (24)


Recipe: Salted Caramel Matzo Brittle

"You should sell this stuff at the farmer's market!"

"I don't even like sweets, and this shit is amazing!"

"You're my hero!"

"I cannot stop thinking about that Matzo Brittle!"

"It's a Passover miracle!"

"You're a mensch!"

I've heard it all, folks: From every compliment in the book - to more Matzo Brittle bribes than you can imagine. I'm here to tell you that this recipe will make you a hero amongst anyone lucky enough to sample this magical, deliciously life-altering, Passover-friendly treat. Recipe inspired by my dear friend, Meghan Coyne, and based on my amended version of Christine Gallary's.


  • 5 sheets matzo
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) salted butter, cut in to large chunks
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Maldon sea salt flakes


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed, full-sized cookie sheet with enough foil that it overlaps and you have to fold it under the edges. Top with parchment paper.  Arrange as many matzo sheets that will fit in a single layer on the baking sheet (likely 2). Set aside.
  3. Place butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring occassionally. Remove from heat and add vanilla (pour slowly, as it may bubble up). Stir to combine.
  4. With care, "paint" the caramel over the matzo with a culinary brush, making sure to coat each piece with caramel.
  5. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, until small bubbles cover the entire surface of the matzo and the caramel is fragrant.
  6. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle each piece of matzo with chocolate chips and set aside for 3-5 minutes to allow chocolate to soften.
  7. Using a culinary brush, delicately spread the melting chocolate chips over the caramel. Sprinkle each piece of matzo with fleur de sel and refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes.
  8. Repeat steps 1-7 until all 5 matzo sheets have been made!  Tip: Change the parchment paper between repetitions.
  9. Break in to pieces and serve and/or freeze for later use.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


The Weekly Eater: Halloween edition

Happy belated Halloween, y'all!  I hope this post finds you well.  What did I do for the holiday, you ask?  Well, Lucy, my pup, and I handed out candy in our apartment building before I hit the town and went to a few parties.  As Scarlett O'hara.

Lucy, the ballerinaScarlett O'haraBut if I had more time, some good ol' fashioned creativity, and actually gave a chit about *not* recycling Halloween costumes, I would have taken a lesson from this young lady and rocked a Chanel purse!

Source: NY PostPretty fantastic, right?  On a more somber note, I cannot even begin to tell you how many obese pleasantly plump "slutty nurses" and scantily-clad "Wonder Women" I saw last night.  While I found them to be a sight for sore eyes, you've really got to hand it to these ample duds, because they have a hell of a lot more body confidence than I do.  Oh, and speaking of sluts, one of my favorite things to do on the morning after Halloween is to laugh at all of the festive "aftermath" from the night before...

Black bra laying on the floor at the Franklin Street subway stop. Someone had some fun while waiting for the train! Changing subjects, I've happened upon quite a few delicious finds - and revelations - this week.  And one of the best blog posts I've read, to date.  Check them out: 

Lotus Root

When sliced, this root vegetable reveals a white, starchy interior that's dotted with holes.  The texture is crunchy (think jicama) and the flavor, if any at all, is subtle enough that you can pair it with almost anything, sauce or protein-wise! 

Lotus root is common in various Asian cuisines, namely Chinese. 

Source: Joy HarariHan Dynasty

Beyond the friendly and knowledgeable staff, the evenly-paced service, the affordable prices, and the warm atmosphere, the food was damn near perfect.  At 6:30pm on a Monday night, the three of us only waited about seven minutes for a table which, considering Han Dynasty is one of the city's current hot spots, is pretty awesome. 

For appetizers, the three of us split wontons in chili oil, spicy crispy cucumbers, Dan Dan noodles, and scallion pancakes.

Wontons in chili oilSpicy crispy cucumbersDan Dan noodlesWe chose to split two entrees among the three of us:  Cumin lamb and "crispy rice shrimp."  While I enjoyed the lamb, I found the shrimp dish to be extremely underwhelming.  It was as if someone accidentally dumped the entire box of corn starch in to the sauce because it was so gelatinous and gloppy.  Blech!!

Cumin lambCrispy rice shrimpVandalism

What?  Sometimes vandalism is cool.  Or funny.  And in this case, it's both!

Spotted at the 8th Street subway stationMaoz Vegetarian

Do NOT let the word "vegetarian" scare you, because this place is a falafel whore's dream come true.  Imagine, if you will, homemade pita bread (your choice of wheat or white) filled with the most crispy, delicious falafel balls you've ever tasted.  And instead of your pita pocket being topped with boring iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes, there's a "do it yourself" filler bar just to your right.  Yep, a plethora of both fresh and pickled vegetables and house-made sauces.  Dynamite!

Shanghai Sogo

With both of my grad school classes starting at 6:45pm on week nights, I'm always on the prowl for a relatively portable, quick bite.  Luckily, there are a slew of food trucks lined up in front of NYU's business school, so there's actually plenty to choose from.  This week, I happened upon the Shanghai Sogo truck, as I could not help but turn in the direction of Akon blasting through its speakers.  Random.  "Ma'am, would you like to sample something?"  The friendly chef offered me a handmade pork/chive dumpling.  Unlike most versions that skimp, this particular dumpling was stuffed to the brim with the juicy, pork/chive filling.  "I'll take an order of six!"  I exclaimed.  Secretly, I wanted to order a dozen.  They were THAT GOOD - perhaps some of the best in the city!

This blog post about staying in NYC


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


A pre-Bastille Day cruise with Chef Marc Murphy

My mom always encourages me to "be a tourist in your own city."  And she's right.  To this day, I'm shamed to admit that I've never been to the following major NYC attractions:  Top of the Rock, Museum of Natural History, MoMa.  And those are just a handful.  Oh, did I mention that I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate museums? 

So, you can imagine how excited I was to learn about something a little more my style, if you will:  Every Tuesday evening, Benchmarc Events (owned by celeb chef, Marc Murphy) hosts a "Summer Cruise Series," featuring different themes (see postcard, below).  For $60, guests enjoy 2-hour's worth of unlimited assorted cocktails/wine/beer, Chef Marc Murphy's delicious food, and priceless views of NY Harbor.  Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that sounds like the ideal way to "be a tourist in my own city."   So much so, in fact, that two friends and I grabbed tickets for this past Tuesday's Bastille Day-themed cruise!

"Oh, that has to be it," I said, pointing to the line of beautiful people at the NY Waterway Pier (Battery Park City location).  And, sure enough, as we neared, a friendly Benchmarc employee approached and checked us in for the cruise.

While boarding the bi-level, open-air ferry, Nicole, Em, and I were offered ice cold Brooklyn Summer Ale.

How cute - and fitting - is her beret for Bastille Day?At 8:15pm on the dot, we set sail!  Cocktails began being poured atop the ferry's upper deck.     

I opted for the specialty cocktail, the Bastille Blanc:  Lillet, Limoncello, Soda, and Orange. 

We socialized and imbibed as the sun slowly set over Manhattan...

Me and my two Emily'sAnd passed by some breathtaking sites and urban-scapes...

Beautiful lower ManhattanJust after sunset, we headed to the lower deck and filled our plates with an abundance of delicious, French-inspired bites.

Merguez (lamb) sausageBoudin blanc and chicken sausage skewers, baguetteCold vichyssoise soup shots (potatoes, leeks, onion, cream, chicken broth)Croque monsieur!French cheese boardCrudite and fresh breadSweet & savory crepes!For dessert:  Hand-made pistachio macarons with salted caramel, strawberry macarons with dark chocolate (apologize for not having a photo - it was too dark to get a decent shot).    

And the piece de resistance?  Breathtaking (literally), magical views of lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty under the dark night's sky...

Freedom Tower is the building w/ blue lights!God bless America!Me with Chef Marc!

I had such an incredibly fun and delicious evening "being a tourist in my own city," that I've decided to return for July 31st's "Sparkling Wine and Swine" cruise.  As my birthday celebration!  Seriously, is there a better way to ring in (gasp) 32?  I don't think so... 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Get your 'Derby hats on and your (margarita glass) bottoms up!

Dear readers,

Happy Friday to you all!  Tomorrow, May 5th, marks my most favorite holiday of the calendar year:  Cinco de Mayo!  And, while I'm not quite up to snuff on its significance or history, I will say that, in honor of whatever Cinco de Mayo represents, you can bet your ass that I will be partying - and eating - like a rock star.  And, speaking of partying, did you know that the Kentucky Derby *also* takes place tomorrow?  Whew, this is going to be one sloppy weekend!

Still trying to figure out your May 5th game plan?  Don't fret, because good ol' Grub Street came up with a list of awesome places to get your party on.  To 'Derby or to Cinco'?  Or to both?  That, my friends, is the million dollar question.


The Kentucky Derby is cool and all, but Cinco de Mayo is my thing.  So, if you find yourself in need of some delicious Mexican-centric recipe ideas, then check out some of my personal favorites, below:

  • The WORLD'S most delicious - and easy-to-make - margarita:  Trust me when I say that this is the LAST margarita recipe that you will ever need.  Aside from the fact that it is seamless to make, it tastes fresh, tart, and goes down as smooth as water.  I warned you! 
  • Chile con queso (Tex-Mex cheese dip):  I can guarantee you that there will not be a single drop left of this delicious, Tex-Mex cheese dip.  It is an overwhelming crowd pleaser and always wins the contest for most popular appetizer (...or, in my case, meal).
  • Calabacitas:  This is, without a doubt, my favorite vegetable side dish.  It incorporates sauteed zucchini, onions, chile, and tomatoes; proving to be the ultimate savory, zesty accompaniment to any Mexican entree.
  • Fideo (Mexican spaghetti):  “Fideo” is a Mexican version of spaghetti with tomato sauce, which we typically eat as a side dish.  Warm, garlicky, and robust, everyone will fall in love with this unique twist on traditional pasta.

So get your 'Derby hats on and your margarita glass bottoms up!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle