March 16th, 2013. Fancy Time at Yew @ The Four Seasons 

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

After brunch with Joyce I rendezvoused with Tracy downtown.  It’s been a while since Tracy was downtown with a gal-pal!  We strolled through Holt Renfrew trying on high-end shoes, and browsing the gorgeous and (some not so cute) haute couture bags 😉

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

 

 

 

Tracy was just so happy to be out of the house and having some much deserved me-time that we also stopped in at Yew at the Four Season’s for a snack!

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

 

 

Tracy was intent on getting a cocktail to make the most of the experience, but since I’d be driving us back I opted for a delicious little Cappuccino.  It joyfully came served with an in-house made Biscotti 🙂  Gotta love the extra little touch and detail that I’ve come to expect from Yew ♥

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

 

For my nibbles I ordered the Organic Local Apple Tart.  Of course this wasn’t just your average apple tart.  No, this was an apple tart made of Cox’s Pippin and Liberty French apples,aged cheddar ice cream and hazelnuts.  Thin shavings of the cheddar and a caramely glaze garnished the slate that the dessert was served on.

yew seafood + bar
yew seafood + bar

Rich, buttery pastry encompassed the sweet and tart apples which were not soggy and still retained a hint of that great apple crunch.  I’m not a huge fan of nuts, so the hazelnuts were just nuts to me, but I loved nibbling on the cheese shavings held between my fingers and that ice cream was super creamy and smooth with just a breath of that rich cheesy flavor.

 As always, a very satisfying experience and service, as always, was prompt, pleasant and helpful.  Yew gets a thumbs up every time 😀

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May 21st, 2012. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade Spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

So, not only did Rachel heap me with Asian goodies the other day, she also bought me a case of farmers’ market strawberries!  Now, I knew there’d be no way I could finish the whole batch by just eating it straight, so I started to think about how I could make the most out of them before they start developing any kind of natural growth…

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter, $20 hand-held blender from Superstore!!  I’d been wanting some sort of device that would help me in the kitchen with puree-ing, blending and mixing.  Happened to see these at the store and thought, “Hey, this would work perfectly!”  It’s easily portable,doesn’t take up much counter space, easy to store and super duper handy!

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To amp up this juice I decided to use organic lemonade and grapefruit soda and agave syrup.  Tartness from the citrus notes, sweet from the sugars and agave to bring out and enhance the natural flavors of the strawberries!

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say…I was pleasantly impressed by how well the blender worked!  It did a great job of blending the strawberry chunks, it has 2 speeds so you can use the slower one get the initial cutting happening and then the faster speed for a finer blend.

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

homemade strawberry lemonade spritzer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, refreshing, fruity, lightly fizzy and delicious!!

Vegan Tea Time in New Jersey!

November 15, 2011

April 10th, 2011.   Tea Time and Reminiscing

korean tea time

korean tea time

 

 

 

  After a great Sunday service at Times Square Church and then a happy brunch at Chef Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain in Times Square we met up with RyoonSeok Samchon who drove us out to his home in New Jersey for some family time.

  Terri Sookmo was preparing to treat us to tea time when we arrived.  I was looking forward to being able to be on the receiving end for once! 

korean tea time

korean tea time

 

 

 

  Along with the green tea, the leaves which are grown and processed on their very own green tea farm on Mount Jilee in Korea, were slices of vegan cheesecake and coconut blueberry cake as well as dried persimmon and other fresh fruit.

  I always tell people: you’d never believe these cakes are vegan!  They really are that good 😉

korean tea time

korean tea time

 

 

  Their home is the scene of peace and serenity with an open floorplan and tasteful buddhist decor surrounded by trees and quiet open spaces.  The only thing disturbing the bubble of peace….is their crazy jealous screeching macaw…!!

 

korean tea time

korean tea time

 

 

 

  Samchon even dug up this old photo he still had from when he was young!!  That’s him and my dad!  He was like, “Hyung!  Remember back then?  Boy, your ears seem to have gotten smaller now, huh?”  Hahaha!!

January 16th, 2010. Birthday Dinner at Basta Pasta!!

basta pasta

basta pasta

So for my birthday aunt and uncle invited me out to Basta Pasta for dinner. Now this isn’t your average pasta place. It’s a Japanese pasta place! Sure enough, at a cursory glance the menu looks Italian but upon closer inspection there are some small twists and delightful surprises! For a place that’s been open for over 20 years in the city you know it’s gotta be better than good!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

The bread!  Served with a healthy helping of fragrant olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a starter we got the Gnocchi di Zucca.  Wonderfully fluffy and light pumpkin gnocchi in a beautiful lemony sage cream sauce. Heaven!  Everyone at the table was impressed and we couldn’t stop eating it!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

Asparagi Gratinati: yes..asparagus pops up everywhere.  Come on, folks, you know how I feel about this particular vegetable.

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appetizer #3 is the Cartoccio di Funghi Misti: 3 kinds of mushrooms baked inside sealed cooking paper with thyme, garlic and herb infused olive oil.

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waiter punctured and opened up the package before our very eyes and then drizzled it with this herb infused oil, which really brought out the flavors of the mushrooms. Aunt and Uncle LOVED it!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The discussion at the table quickly turned to shop talk: Exactly what kind of paper is this? Is it do-able at Hangawi? What could we use? Hahaha!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

SPAGHETTI CON PROSCIUTTO E PARMIGIANO: Spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano & Parma Prosciutto, served in a half wheel of Parmesan cheese at the table.
(This was for the table next to ours. I would have ordered it as my meal..but I was moonlighting as a vegetarian this night…sad!)

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

PAPPARDELLE ALLA SICILIANA: Homemade pappardelle with eggplant, basil & fresh tomatoes in tapenade. Aunt ordered this dish. If you want a pasta dish that is light, this is the one!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

Uncle and Cousin Mark both went for the vegetarian version of the SPAGHETTI CON MOZZARELLA, POMODORI E FUNGHI: Spaghetti with shiitake mushrooms & basil in fresh tomato sauce.

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

CRESPELLE CON FUNGHI E RICOTTA: Homemade silk handkerchief pasta with mixed mushrooms, lemon zest & ricotta cheese.

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know, what am I doing with ordering a mushroom dish??!!  I just felt it was the safest bet in terms of vegetarian option as well as being easy to eat and was counting on it not being too carby so I could finish most of it. I was right. And the mushrooms were surprisingly good, too!

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I even got a surprise birthday dessert and song with a ukulele! Thanks, Aunt & Uncle~~ ♥

basta pasta

basta pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, to sum up the dinner?  I can definitely see how this establishment has been able to sustain their business for so long.  The food seems simple but each component is so well done.  From the fresh made pasta, to the ingredients, everything is just so clean.  And the whole vegetarian aspect?  Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.  I actually had a very satisfying meal and enjoyed how fresh everything tasted!

Franchia Vegan Cafe

October 9, 2011

January 8th, 2011.  Starting a New Life in NYC

franchia vegan cafe

franchia vegan cafe

 

 

 

 

Day 2 of NYC Life: I had an early morning getting into Midtown for a job interview with a successful Korean restauranteur.  The “interview” stretched out a lot longer than I expected as I was given a task as a sort of test.  As this was going on I realized I had left my phone in the cab I rode in on and there was nothing I could do about it!

franchia vegan cafe

franchia vegan cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic set in, but I got the task done and was on my way to meet with Ryoon Seok Samchon & Terri Sookmo at her restaurant, Franchia, a vegan cafe.

franchia vegan cafe

franchia vegan cafe

 

 

 

 

Franchia is such a warm and inviting place.  In contrast to the stately serenity of Hangawi, Franchia is more of a tea house.  Though it has the same quite demenor the general operation of the place is more casual.  I fell in love with the high ceilings, the breathtaking ceiling installments and the concept of a 3-tier balcony type layout.  Terri Sookmo really went to great lengths in thinking through the concept of the place.

 

–>Citron Paste Tea, you soothe my spirit… 🙂

Hangawi – New York

September 20, 2010

July 31st, 2010. jenn hearts nyc: hangawi!

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 
  I was supposed to meet my long lost “uncles” for an early dinner in Koreatown, so after my lunch I walked around some more, eventually walking by Madison Square Garden as well as the first Macy’s in the process.  Hangawi is right in the heart of Koreatown amidst other Korean eateries and businesses all squeezed into an alley way.
hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 Waiting for my uncles to arrive I snapped some photos and ordered a beverage.  I loved how the interior had very traditional decor as well as atmosphere.  It was actually quite a contrast to the modern, vegetarian interpretations on the menu.  The philosophy behind it is to have a spiritual experience while nourishing your body with healthy food.  Even just walking in to the space you get a sense of calm; like this is a retreat you come to in order to get away from all the business and stress.  I had read some amazing reviews online about this place and was really impressed by how ingeniously Hyung Gi Uncle had been able to focus on a very specific niche market.   

 
hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

   

I’m wary of vegetarian places because I’m a carnivore.  Without meat a meal just doesn’t seem like a meal, but I honestly have to say, I was blown away by the food at Hangawi.  They use ingredients that are organic and apparantly delivered from a farm that Uncle sources.  Again, I was completely impressed!

 

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 

 

  I ordered an Iced Pomagranate Tea to cool off from all the walking.  The server brought out this leaf bowl with ice in it, set it on a polished stump that’s used as a side table and poured the tea into it, then set it in front of me.  How novel!

 
 
hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 

Appetizer Green Pancakes.  Such a wonderfully light texture and taste!  Great way to start the meal!  Our other appetizer was the Sweet & Sour Crispy Mushrooms, which, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of.  I don’t like mushrooms.  I LOVED that dish though!  Mmmm……pillowy mushroom texture on the inside, light crispiness on the outside and the delicious sauce!

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 

 

  Pumpkin Noodle Salad?  Again, extremely fresh!  And really amazing flavors.  The pumpkin noodles are not only pretty for the color, but have a great texture and a sweetness to them, too.  It was dressed in a refreshing sauce.  I think I detected a hint of sesame oil in it?

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

hangawi korean vegetarian restaurant

 

Dessert was this magnificent martini glass full of goodies: Peach & Soy Ice Cream with Blueberries and Vegan Marshmallow Cookie!  Thinly sliced peach fanned the sides of the glass while a ball of soy ice cream rested on the bottom.  There were blueberries as well as an organic whipped cream (omg, so yummy!!).  The winner was most definitely the chocolate and cookie encrusted organic and vegan marshmallow!  Uncle was explaining how he’d been on a quest to create and find a truly organic marshmallow…and really, this one takes the cake.  A but firmer than regular ones, but it has it’s own unique taste while still being a marshmallow!  It’s genius!

 

  Dinner was pretty great!  I got to visit one of my uncles’ restaurants, and was treated to a seriously innovative and creative take on Korean vegetarian meals!