Category Archives: Filipino

Eataly: The best place on earth for multiple things

eataly

Made in Italy
Local and artisanal
This place spoils me.

When Eataly opened (almost) three years ago, I immediately became obsessed with the place. On walks uptown, I’d go out of my way to pass through the Flatiron district to embark on the Eataly maze, dodging a chaotic mass of people with shopping carts or glasses of wine in hand gazing at the piles of imported italian products. Each visit I’d discover something new about the place, and like most customers, I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Fast forward to today and now I am an official Eatalian as an Eataly intern, and I couldn’t be happier to be an official part of the internal team. I appreciate the quality of the food and the constant orchestration that makes the whole place sing more than I ever did before. So, in honor of my time thus far, here are (only some) of my favorite things Eataly has to offer that aren’t as widely known as they should be.

1. La Scuola: Eataly has an amazing executive chef, Alex Pilas, that combined with a fully dedicated events team, a beautiful demo space (which is a restaurant by day), and dean Lidia Bastianich, make for an incredible cooking education program. Classes are relatively affordable, hands off (which I prefer) and more often than not include plenty of food and accompanying alcohol. I recently took the Summer Risotto class, which for $100 provides three glasses of wine, delicious house made bread, a four course meal, a detailed cooking demo, and a cooking booklet to bring home. At 90 minutes classes are relatively short, which I welcome considering I tend to get antsy sitting still.

Chef Alex Pilas teaching class

Chef Alex Pilas teaching class

summer saffron risotto

summer saffron risotto

scallop risotto

scallop risotto

2. Eataly Walking Tour: If you’re overwhelmed by the space like most people, I highly recommend the $35 Eataly walking tour, where in just two hours you are given an educational walk through the store that includes samplings of almost every individual counter. On my walk, I tasted fresh mozzarella, shishito peppers, jicama, fresh baked bread, parmesan with aged balsamic, homemade pasta, a slice of pizza, gelato, and hot chocolate. A steal for the price, and perfect if you want to become an expert at navigating the space.

3. The Panini Counter: Oh my lord, the best sandwiches ever, which is probably why the line curls around the store at lunch time. The bread is made fresh in-house every day. The meats and cheeses are imported or local. The ingredients are so high quality that each sandwich needs only 2-3 elements to make it really stand out. My favorite is the soppressata and provolone or the simple caprese with house made mozzarella. But on cold days, the hot sandwiches made out of fresh pizza dough are just the thing to get.

warm pizza-bread panini, pressed on the grill

warm pizza-bread panini, pressed on the grill

soppressata

soppressata

parma ham and mozzarella

parma ham and mozzarella

4. The Focaccia: If you want to experience Eataly’s quintessential homemade-ness without spending an arm and a leg, get a $1.80-$3.80 slice of olive oil crisped focaccia. Salty, crunchy, earth-shatteringly flavorful bread. It smells of Italy.

focaccia

focaccia

5. The Walnut Loaf: So I love bread. Sue me. But this particular loaf is on another level. Buy a loaf, slice it up, and freeze what you don’t use for toast (with butter) in the morning.

bread counter

bread counter

6. La Piazza: By far the best menu of any of the 7 restaurants in the space because it’s got a little of everything, and I actually like eating standing. In the middle of your Eataly tour, stop here for a cheese plate, some salumi, and maybe some crostini. and definitely taste the squid if it’s on the special menu that day. Caramelized simply with citrus and oil, it’s absolutely incredible.

La Piazza

La Piazza

7. The Gelato: Ok, so if you’ve been here you know about this, but it really doesn’t get much better. Eataly’s pastry chefs use the local farm milk and eggs that they sell to create this creamy concoction, and each bite just leaves you wanting more. Get the salted caramel and pistachio if you want my ideal situation, but all the flavors warrant recognition.

gelato

pistachio and coconut

8. Birreria: Summer or winter, the rooftop beer garden is the ultimate, picturesque setting for a brew and some mushrooms. It tends to get crowded at peak beer sipping hours, but in my opinion, the al fresco dining experience is worth the wait.

beer garden in summer

beer garden in summer

9. The Butcher Counter: Let’s be honest, every “counter” at Eataly is artisanal and serves a better product than almost anywhere in New York. The pasta counter gets me every time. But the dark horse of the bunch is the meat counter, somewhat hidden behind the dry pasta, outside the central piazza. You can be sure that all meat is antibiotic and hormone free, and sourced from sustainable local farms that (Eataly confirms first-hand) treat their animals humanely. I never thought raw meat could actually stir my appetite. Go for the sausage or the ready-made burger patties for an affordable, delicious and easy meal.

butcher

butcher

There are so many dozens of other reasons this place is fabulous and as popular as it is. Every accolade it has received is well deserved. It’s cliche, but in order to believe you gotta come see it. Do yourself a favor and reserve an afternoon to get lost in a sea of Italian and local goodness.

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Filed under Filipino, Italian, Market Prowl

Jeepney: one beer cocktail and a memorable halo halo

Jeepney

photo cred: tomas delos reyes

I can rarely end a meal without a formal dessert, so I was thrilled to come up with the genius idea of stopping at Jeepney in the East Village after my sweet-treat-less meal at Prune. I was stuffed to the brim, but all things considered (finally being in the area, having wanted to eat there for ages), I couldn’t resist ordering the dessert that brought me back to my childhood: the halo halo. Halo halo is a traditional Filipino sweet that’s pretty much their version of “everything but the kitchen sink.” It’s usually served as a mixture of ice, evaporated milk, and a random assortment of fruits and sweets. Jeepney creates the best version I’ve ever had – shaved ice, evaporated milk, chunks of coconut flan, red bean, sweet candied fruits, and the icing on the cake: one large scoop of purple yam (ube) ice cream and rice crispies. I devoured this thing in seconds, and sipping my orange-flavored beer, I was in fruit-filled heaven.

IMG_0011

blurry halo halo

This week’s NY Times review and this dessert is proof I need to come back for a full meal, though my heart will always be with Maharlika, the gastropub’s sister restaurant.

Grade: A+ for dessert
Location: 201 First Ave between 12th and 13th Streets
Website 

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Filed under Affordable Date, Asian, East Village, Filipino

Maharlika visit #2

I just finished off another impressive meal at my new favorite place, Maharlika. The Filipino restaurant is situated on one of the best foodie streets in the village,  but fits in perfectly with its neighboring hot spots Caracas and Porchetta. The place resembles a homier, modern tiki lounge, has a full bar, and plays consistently awesome music that make the dining experience not only food-focused but multi-era focused as well. And tonight, the restaurant won over the toughest Filipina critics I know – my mom and my sister.

bok choy

After sipping on our subtly-sweet versions of tropical cocktails, we ordered a whole slew of food: adobo of the day (which was fortunately chicken, my favorite), bistec, bok choy (a tribute to China), long beans, and garlic fried rice. Nicole, the owner, even brought out something I never would have guessed I would like – fried fish sticks, which almost resembled little french fries but had a ton more flavor. These were addictive and an awesome addition of salty flavor with the subtle adobo. The adobo was on a whole other level, though. With a slightly thicker, creamier sauce than my mom’s traditional recipe, it smothered the rice with caramel-y goodness, and the meat was just fall off the bone tender. My sister demolished it, and at the end professed “I would make love to that chicken if I could.” We sent her home in a cab and we think she has since recovered.

chicken adobo

bistec, rice, and fried fish

I also tried the bistec for the first time, which is a flank steak with a slightly sweet vinegar sauce served with crunchy-tangy onions. This wasn’t as easy to eat Filipino style (with spoon and fork), but I definitely didn’t mind taking huge bites considering it was so incredible.

The vegetables even deserve special recognition. The bok choy wasn’t wet or soggy like the usual steamed preparation. It was charred, crunchy, and smokey. The long beans were lightly sauteed with a subtle sauce, also an awesome partner to the rice.

We licked our plates clean. I was disappointed that I didn’t have room to order the braised oxtail again, nor the fried pork shank that the man next to me was tackling. Fortunately, we have three more days in the weekend and I am doing everything I can to bring us back for brunch.

Grade: A+

Location: 111 First Avenue @ 7th Street

Website: http://www.maharlikanyc.com

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Filed under Erin's Favorites, Filipino, Fun Group Dinner

Maharlika

The second I read the inspiring Serious Eats post about Nicole Ponseca, brains behind Filipino pop-up Maharlika, I wrote her an email to score a table for my mom, my sister and me. As a half Filipino raised in a very American household, I’ve been dying for an excuse to explore the cuisine of the Philippines. I’ve always been stunned by the lack of good Filipino restaurants in the city that is known to be the country’s biggest melting pot, and after reading about Nicole’s dedication to taking on the task of opening one, I knew the food would be soulful, authentic, and delicious.

Maharlika bar

Unfortunately, after a weekend of gorging ourselves, my mom and I decided to cancel the reservation. Huge mistake, because I finally got a chance to try Maharlika today and was blown away by the experience.

Our reservation was for 11am, quite early for a Sunday, but in retrospect the best possible time considering the crowd in the restaurant steadily grew from that point on. To start, we munched on the complimentary garlic corn nuts which were incredibly addicting.

garlicky snacks

The menu has about 10 options of well rounded, egg-focused dishes, as well as a standard French Toast for those intimidated by the mention of pork snout and shrimp heads. With garlic rice in mind, I ordered the Ilog Breakfast, which came with rice, a fried egg, cucumber salad and three huge longsilog-longanisa, garlicky pork sausage. Mixed with vinegar and soy sauce, my egg over rice was exactly what I imagined, and the sweet and salty pork sausage made the entire meal complete. I couldn’t get over the amazing flavor combination that brought me right back to home – a sentiment the host mentioned he hears daily.

Ilog Breakfast

Though I had enough sausage to last all day, I was with a group of food sharers, so I fortunately was able to try the Eggs Imelda and the Corn Beef Hash as well. The Eggs Imelda, with two huge prawns and spinach, served on top of pandesal, had an incredibly unique seafood flavor with a touch of sweetness from the homemade bread. Though filling, it was well rounded and beautifully presented. The corn beef hash came with a generous portion of meat, two eggs, and a heaping of fried taro and plantain, which were perfect for dipping into the coco jam and guava paste. The coco jam became an obsession at our table – with a deep buttery, burnt caramel flavor, it was an awesome sauce for the pandesal, but would have been even better on top of vanilla ice cream.

eggs imelda

corn beef hash

Though modernized, the meal was quintessentially Filipino in execution and flavor complexity – vinegary, salty, sweet, tangy and incredibly delicious. And though we were stuffed by the end of it, we still had room to taste the fried chicken skin – something any fried chicken lover would eat religiously if they could. Who needs potato chips when you have this stuff?

not your typical fried chicken bucket

Our experience at Maharlika was nothing short of amazing – from the food to the service, it’s hard to believe that this place is planning on closing in a few months. Fortunately, they’ll be opening up a new spot in Dekalb, and now that I’m on the mailing list, I’ll be one of the first to know when and where it is! I promise to divulge when I get the inside info.

Definitely come here if you want a unique and unforgettable brunch experience – but be sure to book far in advance and confirm with the reservationist via email.

Grade: A

Location: 351 E 12th St btwn 1st and 2nd ave

Website: http://www.maharlikanyc.com

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Filed under Asian, Brunch, East Village, Erin's Favorites, Filipino