The friendly butcher El Colmado Butchery brings good meat back to the Meatpacking District

7.2_NYC_El-colmado_wordpress

For chef Seamus Mullen of El Colmado Butchery, food isn’t just his vocation. As a former sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s also his medicine.

There’s a whole lot of good stuff going on at Mullen’s new Meatpacking District spot: El Colmado Butchery is an upbeat Spanish tapas and wine bar-meets-classic butcher shop. It’s also an all-day neighborhood joint where you can wander in for a plate of Serrano ham ($13) during the afternoon, pick up pre-High Line picnic provisions, grab an incredible pasture-raised rotisserie chicken ($16) for dinner or consult with the butcher about what cut of antibiotic, hormone-free, and responsibly raised meat you should cook at home.

Chef Seamus Mullen at work.

But it’s not all meat on the menu here. The night we stopped by we delighted in a bright orange gazpacho ($4) made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and chunks of avocado. In addition, Mullen is an avid green-juice drinker and he offers three fresh-pressed juice blends including the Oro/Gold ($6), which combines pineapple, yellow beet, papaya, lemon and honey.

Mullen credits food as part of his journey to overcome arthritis. He told us, “It wasn’t until I learned and understood more about the relationship between my health and the food I was eating, did I come to appreciate just how important cooking with and eating real, whole foods was.”

Never thought you’d be stopping by the neighborhood butcher for a juice infusion, did you?

El Colmado Butchery
53 Little W. 12th St.
212-488-0000
elcolmadonyc.com

 

(Photo credit: Christine Han Photography)

Juiced up Supercharged cocktails at a Union Square newcomer

6.25_NYC_Irvington_wordpress

Move over Bloody Mary, you’ve been dethroned as the healthiest brunch drink in town.

After you pile up your bags at the Saturday morning Union Square Greenmarket, head over to Irvington and grab a seat at the bar for an amped-up cocktail.

At Irvington, chef David Nichols is in the open kitchen cooking smart new-American food with zippy Mediterranean influences. When it comes to sourcing locally, the restaurant has exactly zero excuses: It’s located catty-corner from Union Square.

The healthful touches don’t stop at the food: bartender Nico Szymanski is behind the list of super-juice cocktails boosted with Liquiteria’s cold-pressed blends.

Settle in for a Green Dream ($15) made with Crop organic cucumber vodka and Liquiteria’s All Greens blend of kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery and cucumber.

Grab a seat and enjoy the good food and better-for-you cocktails at Irvington.

When we pressed Nico about calling a cocktail “healthy,” he gave it to us straight up. “I’ll put it this way: They’re as healthy as you’re going to get with something that’s also loaded with alcohol,” he says. “The vast majority of calories in a cocktail come from the alcohol itself (1 ounce of an 80 proof spirit contains about 65 calories). So beyond that, the only things that you can tweak to make a drink more or less healthy are the mixers. And in this case the mixers are fresh, whole ingredients loaded with nutrients, instead of sugar. So yes, they are as healthy as possible with anything that still gives you a buzz.”

Nico’s favorite is “The Seeing Red” ($15). In it, he pairs the sharp bite of rye whiskey with the earthiness of Liquiteria’s Beets Me blend of carrots, beets, ginger, orange and pineapple—garnished with candied ginger.

Add an order of avocado and spring pea toast with pickled cage-free eggs and shaved cucumber ($15), and we’d call that a brunch of champions.

Irvington
201 Park Ave. S. (inside W. Union Square)
212-677-0425
irvingtonnyc.com

The whole scoop Your improved summer ice cream game plan

6.18_NYC_icecream_wordpress

Here’s the scoop: Summer months mean ice cream, and there is an overwhelming number of new options for the licking in NYC. We’ve done the research and created a must-try list of Clean Plates-worthy frozen confections. So punctuate a gloriously sunny day with a creamy and dreamy scoop of one (or all three) of the options below.

A.B. Biagi Gelato & Coffee: Let the sunshine-yellow door of Antonio Barros Biagi’s Nolita shop be your siren song, calling you in for a helping of the new acai or almond soft serve made with house-made almond milk. Biagi is renowned for his gelato, but his new vegan sorbet options are a hat-tip to his native Brazil. Pump up a cup with a sprinkle of goji berries or cacao nibs from Amma Chocolate. Look for a second location to open this summer at UrbanSpace Vanderbilt, a food hall opening across from Grand Central Terminal.

Victory garden’s desert date yogurt “frozen dessert” is one of five flavors now available by the pint.

OddFellows Ice Cream Co.: This Williamsburg and East Village scoop shop invents out-there combos like grapefruit-jalapeño sorbet or black-pepper strawberry made with hormone-free milk sourced from Battenkill Valley Creamery. The new line of vegan ice cream made with coconut and almond milks is keeping things interesting too: try rotating flavors like chocolate chunk, coffee crunch and, our favorite, Thai iced tea.

Victory Garden: Sophia Brittan’s West Village spot is our first stop when we get a craving for grass-fed goat’s milk soft serve laden with halva, honey and nigella seeds (what, you don’t get that craving?). And now we can stock our home freezer as well: Victory Garden has introduced pints in five flavors (chocolate, vanilla blackflower, desert date yogurt, honey lavender and salted caramel). These “frozen desserts” are made like ice cream, but can’t technically be called that because goat’s milk is lower in fat than cow’s milk.

Go go getaway Head to Treehouse Retreats for a wellness refresher

6.11_NYC_treehouse-retreats_wordpress

You may want to give your landlord notice now, because once you visit Heather Cox’s idyllic Treehouse Retreats, you might want to stay forever.

What makes Treehouse Retreats different from other retreat centers out there? There’s the intimate nature of the drop-dead gorgeous Amagansett house, to start. The A-frame structure is awash in sun and white linens and accommodates only six guests at a time (women only; sorry guys). Everything about the space invites you to unwind from the stresses of the city and learn how to live a balanced, sustainable, healthy life without going to extremes.

Hang out on the beach or paddle board: be as active or laid back as you need to be!

Sign up for a one-day Pilates workshop with a family-style vegetarian lunch this August or a weekend-long yoga immersion this October. While you are there, you can also hang out on the beach, go stand-up paddle boarding or hit up a local farm stand. Or, just soak up the lazy, hazy Treehouse vibe and sleep if that’s what you need.

Heather, who is also the one-woman-show behind the popular food blog Eat. Real. Food says, “My vision is to teach people that you CAN indulge in the good stuff occasionally and still be ok!”

All hail Wassail Cider, vegetables and dessert: this new restaurant has it all

6.4_NYC_Wassail_wordpress

The 2015 award for “Best Place to Take Your Friend Who is Seriously Skeptical of Vegetarian Food” goes to: Wassail.

The best part about Wassail’s vegetarian status? It’s not a thing; it just is. The fact that the menu is vegetarian is just one of many excellent reasons to visit this Lower East Side spot. This subtle tack has served husband-and-wife team Jennifer Lim and Ben Sandler well at their excellent The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria (which is also very much worth the trip).

And they’ve imported plenty of their friendly community vibe from Queens to the Lower East Side. This extends from their support for paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage for their employees to a serious focus on local sourcing, foraging and composting leftovers through Reclaimed Organics. There is a party-up-front, business-in-the-back situation going on with a lively bar scene in the fore, and a restaurant holding it down in the aft.

Chef Joseph Buenconsejo’s modern cuisine plays up vegetables and grains and plays off Wassail’s incredible selection of fermented hard cider. Of the 12 ciders on draft, more than half are locally made. Stop by now to try refreshing green strawberry gazpacho ($13), garnished with cucumber granita and green almonds, before local strawberry season passes by.

Wassail in the Lower East Side.

The cider focus is cool, the cuisine is bright and inventive, but it’s pastry chef Rebecca Eichenbaum’s vegetable-driven desserts that really left our heads spinning. Her vegetal desserts combine leaves, blossoms, stems and roots and atypical ingredients like knotweed, buckwheat and sorrel for surprising and delicious results.

She’s sourcing rye from the Regional Grains Project and sprouting it in-house, using cider lees (spent yeast) in her freshly baked breads and working with the sustainability-focused Raaka chocolate from Brooklyn. We loved the chocolate ganache with sassafras ice cream in a housemade kombucha moat, as well as the airy frozen spruce soufflé with pistachio and yogurt granita ($10 each).

“I try to celebrate the plant’s essence,” Eichenbaum explains. “When I think about using a specific part of a plant, I look at folk recipes, herbal remedies, etymology, and symbolism. I consider the compounds that give them their flavor, their botanical characteristics, what they’re related to, and what may compliment them.” Sounds pretty sweet to us.

Wassail
162 Orchard St.
646-918-6835
www.wassailnyc.com

Matchado It's easy being green with Chalait’s matcha offerings

5.28_NYC_Chalait_wordpress

Every New Yorker should be as lucky to have the kind of relationship with his or her landlord as Michelle Gardner and Ramon Puyane of Chalait do with theirs: Instead of popping a chain into his primo West Village property, he took a gamble on the couple’s concept of beautifully prepared matcha in a modern setting.

If you’ve never given matcha a chance, scoot on over to give it your own gamble.

The drink, a staple in Japan, is made from finely ground green tea leaves. The chlorophyll-rich brew packs a distinctively grassy (in a good way) punch, along with potent antioxidants like polyphenols. It’s estimated that a single serving of matcha contains as many antioxidants as 10 cups of green tea. Many people find that they don’t experience the coffee shakes when they switch to matcha, since the caffeine is paired with the calming effect of l-theanine.

Chalait serves up beautifully prepared matcha in a modern setting.

Michelle and Ramon source their matcha from the misty rolling hills of Uji, Japan’s oldest and most celebrated tea-growing region.

On a recent visit, we went wild for the matcha latte ($4.75) made with creamy Battenkill Valley Creamery milk. Or take Ramon’s recommendation for the mint julep ($4.50), which blends cold-brew matcha and mint-fig syrup with almond milk.

Chalait is carrying on the happy new trend of quick-service cafés offering food that doesn’t suck and that’s organic and local whenever possible. That means muesli toast with matcha coconut custard, almonds and fresh berries ($9), as well as a sandwich stuffed with black bean mash, avocado, pickled red onions and tomato ($11).

Expect to see Chalait as a driving force behind matcha awareness throughout the city: Talks with various retailers are in the works and tins of Chalait matcha will be coming to a store near you soon.

Chalait
224 West 4th St.
212-929-0266
chalait.com

What’s for lunch Get hungry for this Belgian import

Wordpress-Header

There’s no getting around it: At lunch we New Yorkers can be some seriously difficult customers.

We want our food fast, but we also want it to be delicious, nutritious and sustainably sourced. And while we may want our order to fly to the table, we certainly don’t want to feel rushed to leave when we’re finished eating.

When it comes to all of these difficult demands, EXKi delivers.

The Belgium-born company has more than 75 locations in Europe and is settling into New York nicely with two park-side locations—one just off of Madison Square and another by Gramercy. Touches like speedy grab-and-go with compostable packaging, green energy, eco-friendly cleaning supplies and food sourced from local heroes such as antibiotic-free FreeBird chicken, Red Jacket juices, Jasper Hill Farm cheeses and organic SoyBoy tofu make us feel right at home. Anything that isn’t used during breakfast, lunch or dinner is donated to City Harvest at the end of the day.

Eat in comfort at EXKi’s new madison avenue location and check out the map of where their ingredients come from.

Laurent Kahn, CEO of EXKi NYC let us in on the secret of the vegetable emulsion. Each of the emulsions is a flavorful and 80% vegetable based healthier alternative to traditional oil-based dressings. The spring/summer menu has just launched with the addition of 11 new dishes and three new emulsions: fennel, red pepper and ginger-miso. Find the emulsions spread on sourdough tartines made with NY flour ($7), in whole-wheat wraps ($6.75) and on salads with organic mesclun ($10).

While EXKi may have originated across the pond, it has done a great job at infusing these city spots with some American tastes by working with chef Galen Zamarra (Mas (farmhouse), Mas (la grillade) and Almanac), while retaining charming European touches like magazines and newspapers free for the browsing. It’s enough to encourage even the busiest worker bee to linger over a pineapple, cucumber, mint and green tea smoothie ($6.90) made with Palais des Thés tea.

EXKi
257 Park Avenue S.
212-533-2011

76 Madison Ave.
212-447-1874
exkinyc.com

Snack break Just say no to unhealthy snacks with coffee

5.14_NY_coffeeshops_wordpress

Skip the dubious muffin, sugary yogurt parfait, and dried-out biscotti: When we’re craving a good coffee, we want a little somethin’ on the side that is way above average coffee shop fare and that is not going to bring us down, but nourish us and give us energy.

Thankfully, these two spots are doing a bang-up job of offering both. Go get your coffee (or tea) break on:

The Elk

This West Village gem is your stop if you want a snack made with ingredients sourced from the Union Square Greenmarket, a latte ($3.75) made with ethically sourced Sightglass coffee and Five Acre Farms milk and to pick up a jar of Bees Knees Spicy Honey. Owner Claire Chan declares, “We are firm believers that local is best.” It’s clear that philosophy is tasty as well, with options like local soft-scrambled eggs and sweet potato hash ($9) or a pole-caught tuna melt on country bread ($9). If you need to take anything to go, there are recycled pulp paper products and biodegradable goods. The Elk also doesn’t like to waste anything: leftover fresh pressed juices are turned into fruit jelly or incorporated into soup specials.

At The Elk you can pair your ethically sourced coffee with a tasty snack made with farmers market ingredients. (Photo credit: Bridget Bador)

 

Two Hands

At Two Hands (motto: “Good Food by Good Dudes”) you can pair a raw, vegan, organic and sugar-free Raw & Yummy vanilla almond cookie ($3) or a slice of banana bread with ricotta and honey ($6) with a cappuccino ($3.50) made with Café Integral beans and seriously creamy Ronnybrook milk. Aussie expat Giles Russell is particularly proud that he’s outfitted every staff member with a re-usable Klean Kanteen or KeepCup for use while working. You might decide to apply for a job yourself once you get your hands on an acai bowl topped with chia, hemp and raw cacao ($9).

The Elk
128 Charles St., New York
212-933-4780
theelknyc.com

Two Hands
164 Mott St., New York
917-475-1815
twohandsnyc.com

Lead the whey This yogurt byproduct is good for your gut

5.7_NYC_White-Moustache_wordpress

We’re all about the probiotics.

Whether we’re dipping a spoon into GMO-free yogurt, sipping kombucha or popping open a jar of zesty sauerkraut, those tiny nutrition powerhouses are foremost in our minds.

So it came as a surprise when we found out that we were leaving a delicious and distinctive source of probiotics out of our regular rotation: whey.

Our discovery is thanks to Homa Dashtaki of The White Moustache, a line of Persian-style yogurt made with local milk sans preservatives, salt, sugar or cream. Her thick yogurt requires straining, and whey is the byproduct of this process. It turns out that the fresh liquid contains all the calcium and probiotics of yogurt without any of the calories of milk fats.

A product has to have 1 million parts per serving to be considered probiotic. Homa’s products have over 100 million parts per serving that are live, active and raring to go.

“There’s no good way to say this marketing wise, but it helps you poop.” – Homa Dashtaki on the properties of whey!

As such, whey is a gut-health superstar. Homa told us, “There’s no good way to say this marketing wise, but it helps you poop.” Look for her refreshing tonics in flavors like passion fruit with pear juice, honey-lime, ginger and sweet beet in 16-ounce glass bottles ($5) at area Whole Foods.

In addition to being a great alternative to kombucha or coconut water, you can cook with whey as well. Homa loves to use the slightly tart liquid in place of chicken broth, to make a silky sorbet or in a raw cauliflower soup to preserve the probiotics. And it can be substituted for liquid ingredients in your favorite cakes and pastries. Come Thanksgiving, she will be selling five gallon buckets ($35) of whey for turkey brine.

Chefs around the city are scooping it up too. Chef Rob Newton of Brooklyn’s Nightingale 9 tenderizes his beef in it; the nearby Smith Canteen mixes it into a juice with spinach, ginger, celery and mint, and Foragers in Chelsea is spiking brunch cocktails with it.

So what are you whey-ting for?

Where to buy White Moustache products

(Photo credit: Nicole Franzen)

Pasta express Hungryroot turns vegetables into delicious noodle dinners

4.30_NYC_hungryroot_wordpress

We love noodles. We love vegetables. Simple math told us that we were really going to love Hungryroot’s organic, fresh-cut vegetable noodles.

We were right.

Hungryroot is the very tasty brainchild of Ben McKean, Greg Struck and Franklin Becker that just launched in New York and several other cities east of the Mississippi.

Each convenient pack of spiralized vegetable noodles can go from package to plate in seven minutes or less. Even better: Every Hungryroot meal is under 500 calories, non-GMO and gluten-, antibiotic- and hormone-free. To keep with the simple feel, each dish is $10, with the option to add free-range grilled chicken for an additional $2. Shipping is free for every order over $40 and you don’t need to be home to receive the delivery thanks to cold gel packs and insulated Mylar liners. Typically, Hungryroot receives the vegetables from the farm the same day the meals are shipped out and they are guaranteed to stay fresh for 10 days in the refrigerator. The sauce and the additions (like the nuts or cheese) all come in separate recyclable containers, so you can customize your meal to your liking.

One of our favorites, the zucchini noodles with tomatoes and Parmesan and a gremolata of basil, pine nuts and raisins.

 

Chef Becker (of The Little Beet fame) dreamed up the six delicious options. Our favorites were the zucchini noodles with tomatoes and Parmesan and a gremolata of basil, pine nuts and raisins, and sweet potato noodles with a creamy vegan cashew alfredo sauce. Other options include beet noodles with a sesame sauce and for pad thai lovers, carrot noodles paired up with a tangy Sriracha peanut sauce.

Founder Ben McKean told us that only 6 percent of the population eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables (yikes!). He says, “I think part of that has to do with an overall perception that vegetables are less-than-satisfying and sometimes intimidating to prepare. We’re hoping to change that perception by filling a void in fast and healthy home cooked meals.”

With Hungryroot, there’s no reason to not have vegetables in the smack-dab center of your plate.

Spread the word: Hungryroot plans to expand to nationwide shipping by the end of 2015.