Catch It: Merchants NY

The aura of love. First it was her smile. Then his smile—and our smiles at them. 

Several Sundays ago, friends and family members of the couple were celebrating at Merchants NY (112 7th Avenue, between 16 & 17th Street) in the Chelsea neighborhood.

Angela and Scott were visiting from Washington, DC, for the weekend. I had not seen my friend Angela in many years, and in between hugs and hearty cheers we were drinking Champagne Cocktails, Specialty Cocktails and Sangria. 

Merchants NY is a charming local restaurant with a mixture of old school and contemporary flair. Where for decades regulars have come to dine at their favorite community place, drink spirits at the nostalgic mahogany oak bar or lounge outside with an appetizing meal in a dream state of a summer’s breeze.

It was my first visit to the downtown hamlet and the home-style restaurant. There was chatter among the party of ten, and soon we settled down with our menus. Right away, Scott said, “Raised your glasses. Angela and I are celebrating our oneyear anniversary and wedding bells are near.

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Posted in American Comfort Food, Chelsea, Classic Burger, Sangria | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: Madam Zhu’s Kitchen

There I was in Greenwich Village, trekking to the Jefferson Market Library. I felt a cool breeze on a sunny afternoon, and a pretty local establishment caught my attention. I turned and entered Madam Zhu’s Kitchen at 401 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10014.

Madam Zhu’s Kitchen is a Chinese restaurant in Lower Manhattan. It has an inviting ambience of ocean light and cream décor, the smell of vibrant flowers, and flavors from an old tradition as well as the new.

Right away, one can sense Madam Zhu’s Kitchen will be a divine culinary experience with that perfect ingredienta bowl full of love.

Catch it if you can at Instagram: Madamzhuskitchen and at Facebook: Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen.

Posted in Avenue of the Americas, Chinese Restaurant, Hao Noodle, Lower Manhattan, West Village | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: FUMO

In a few words, FUMO is like an arpeggio chord of authentic Italian cuisine in Hamilton Heights. FUMO restaurant is located at 1600 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10031/Corner of 139th Street.

On Sunday, June 12th, my friend Kelli treated her sister Kimberly and me to dinner at FUMO restaurant. Earlier, they had taken a Samba class at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I had a splendid day in the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. As we settled at our table, we ordered our wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Tohu, 2014 New Zealand; and Cabernet, Carnivor, 2013 California.

Kelli ordered Margherita Pizza (fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato, EVOO); Kim, the FUMO Burger (lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheddar, chipotle mayo, truffle fries), and I ordered Meatballs (pomodoro, grilled garlic bread, and basil).

We have been friends for over a decade, and we had a joyful time at the homey and scrumptious restaurant. It was such a gorgeous day and the evening reminded me of why I love living in New York City.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Posted in Bars, Harlem, Italian Cuisine, Margherita Pizza, Mediterranean, Restaurants, Upper West Side | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: Eli’s Essentials

Embracing the spirit of nature is simple for me. Like last Saturday, walking in the splendor of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) with my dear friend Marie. Later, we took a break to catch up at the American Wing Café. We shared our own good news while sitting at the park side of the court, and even with the misty rain, runners, cyclists, and walkers in Central Park moved in and out of view.

That Sunday at noon, I rambled leisurely for six miles in Central Park. I was reminded of its richness and regal beauty. After a deserved rest, I trekked to my next cherished place: Eli’s market and restaurant at 120 Madison Avenue. I sat in a French bistro chair, drinking strong coffee, and eating a delicious breakfast: Amagansett Egg & Cheddar Cheese Sandwich on a Brioche Roll. For my second cup of coffee, I sat on the bench outside of Eli’s and looked at families with baby carriages, and friends sauntering on the old-world street of the Upper East Side.

And so the glory of walking in and around New York’s unique nature preserve brews unexpected pleasures around every corner.

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Posted in Amagansett Egg & Cheese Sandwich, American Comfort Food, Bakeries, Bars, Cafes, Central Park, Lox & Bagel With Cream Cheese, Madison Avenue, Marketplace, Restaurants, Upper East Side, Wine Bar | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: Tribeca Treats

Three Sundays ago, I pulled out my favorite recipe book: The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. I had decided to bake a cake for an event at my home. I turned to page 96: Cake for Company and read, “You will note that there is no baking powder; the lightness of the cake depends entirely on beautifully beaten egg whites which are folded into batter with such speed and delicacy that they retain their volume and the maximum of their puffy abilities.”

Regrettably, my cake did not live up to The French Chef promise—at least not well enough for guests. So I decided to rely on Tribeca Treats instead. The bakery and gift shop is located at 94 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013. It is a fairyland of cake heaven in Lower Manhattan. They have wonderful delectables, and with Mother’s Day approaching, it is a treasure-house of gifts.

My cupcakes were yummy delicious, inspiring me to do my own survey with my dearest friends’ children to find out what they like best about cupcakes.

Mom: Karel

Daughter: Kendall, nine-years-old (to be 10 in June)

“I like cupcakes because they are sweet.”

Mom: Crystal

Daughter: Jade, nine-years-old (to be 10 in July)

“I just love cupcakes because they’re sweet, soft and make me feel like aha!

Mom: Lisa

Son: Cross, thirteen-years-old (to be 14 next week)

“I like eating them because you can have more than one.”


Son: Luke, nine-years-old

“I like the icing.”

In summary: cupcakes are small enough to eat more than one, sweet, soft, topped off with yummy icing–and they make us feel “aha!”

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Posted in Bakeries, Books, Brownies, Cakes & Cupcakes, Gift Shops, Lower Manhattan, Mother's Day, Tribeca | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Catch It: Chef Farnabe at Petrossian

What makes a distinct dining experience for me? It is the cuisine, the atmosphere and conversations with someone special. Usually, though, we don’t get to meet the people who work behind the scenes to create these unforgettable meals. Several weeks ago, I sat with Chef Richard Farnabe at the famed Petrossian restaurant at 182 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019. The French-born chef has a resume par excellence, punctuated with the names of restaurants that draw gourmands and stars to New York from around the world— Restaurant Daniel, Jean Georges, Lotus, and the Soho Grand Hotel and The Tribeca Grand Hotel, among others. Chef Farnabe is charming as he speaks to me with a radiant smile about his home away from home—Petrossian.

What makes a chef?

Passion. You have to be passionate for what you do or you will never be a chef. You have to love what you do.

What do you like about being a chef?

For me, teaching people in my kitchen how to be a chef, showing my passion, and demonstrating the techniques that will help them grow.

What is a perfect day in the kitchen?

Every day is a perfect day. I love waking up and coming to work. I love my job. I love what I do.

How long have you been a chef?

Thirty-two years.

How did it come about?

I started when I was twelveyears-old. I am Parisian-born. As a young kid, I was cooking for my brother after school because my mother was working late. I got to love cooking, and found a passion for cooking.

Where did you acquire your experience in French cuisine?

I went to school in France. I worked for a wonderful chef for ten years—Jacques Maximin.

What makes Petrosssian a classic French restaurant?

Petrossian has been an institution since 1920. They have the best caviar in the world. Of course, we encapsulate the French technique in a classic restaurant like Petrossian with an American flair.

Petrossian is an elegant restaurant. Is there one word you can use to describe what it is like being in your kitchen?

My kitchen is like the restaurant: You can eat on the floor. My kitchen is spotless. Everything has to be spotless. I am OCD about it.

Is there a secret to making pastries?

Pastries are like chemistry. You have the ingredients: flower, eggs and sugar, and everything is precise. When we create a new pastry, we just try and try again to get it to perfection.

Do you make your croissants daily?

Yes, every day. We have a gentleman who has been making our croissants for fifteen years. He is here at five o’clock in the morning.

What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to become a chef?

Be patient in learning. In France, we go to school for three years. Here, some people attend a culinary school for three months or six months. They watch cooking shows on television and think they can be a chef. Cooking is about patience, because you don’t learn everything overnight. It is precise. So, be patient and understand that every dish is different. There are hundreds of sauces and different ways to cook fish and vegetables. I say, learn the technique and relax. Being a chef is not only cooking. It is managing the kitchen, the restaurant and, at the end of the day, you have to make money.

Do you like caviar?

What is there not to like? We have tourists from Russia, Japan, Europe, and of course, New Yorkers who come for our caviar.

Do you cook at home for your family or go out?

I cook. I love going to the market and making a nice meal at home.

Thank you Mr. Farnabe

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Posted in Authentic French, Bakeries, Caviar, Central Park, Easter, Restaurants, West 58th Street | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catch It: Sweeter Still Than This

During the Valentine’s Holiday, I am drawn to the poetry in Sweeter Still Than This by Adah Louise Sutton (Copyright 1905 by The Saalfield Publishing Company).

I remember a time I visited my Aunt Vinnie, who owned a summer place in Cape May, New Jersey. I stopped by a vintage shop on my way to the beach, and I bought Sweeter Still Than This. The book was tattered with age; however, the poetry, the illustrations (by Carll B. Williams) were exquisite.

On the first page are words from eminent poet Lord Byron that inspired the author.

“But sweeter still than this, than these,

than all,

Is first and passionate love,—it

stands alone;

Like Adam’s recollection of his fall,

And life yields nothing further to recall.”


Sweeter Still Than This is a romantic treasure. And another romantic pleasure I enjoy is a restaurant in Lower Manhattan: Mamo. On Valentine’s weekend, and all year, Mamo is urbane and cozy and scrumptious.

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Posted in Italian Cuisine, Lower Manhattan, Mediterranean, Provencal, Restaurants, Valentine's Day, Wine Bar | Tagged , , | Leave a comment