At first glance,  Upland  confused the ever-loving shit out of me.  What the fuck is a California inspired Italian menu? Does the food take...

At first glance, Upland confused the ever-loving shit out of me.  What the fuck is a California inspired Italian menu? Does the food take its time to hit your table and carry a medical marijuana card? New York inspired Italian food falls into the group of old school red sauce, or so I, understand. Upland had me intrigued, not only because of a combination of food I never knew about but more so for the Chef Justin Smillie, formerly of II Buco Alimentari a.k.a the panty dropper. 
Upland is located in the Flat Iron district, tucked into a building off the corner of Park Avenue South. The restaurant has a nice comfortable vibe to it, I kind of felt like I was at home, except I was wearing pants. We were ushered over to the bar, where I had a hard time trying to get a bartenders attention. I think I had a better chance of losing to Floyd Mayweather in a spelling bee. After what felt like forever, I finally got to order a drink, but of course two seconds after I did, our table was ready. 
I wasn't really happy with the service at the bar, but I forgot all about it, after they sat us down in a booth. I love booths! It's like a vacation for your ass. Another way upland impressed me is through their complimentary breadbasket. We now live in an era where bread is extra, I can understand why, but even prisoners get bread and water for free. A few glances through the menu and this is what we got: 

Burrata ($19) Trout caviar, crispy leeks, arbequina olive oil. I'd give a hand job to Guy Fieri to be eating this right now. The trout roe gave the creamy burrata this nice natural taste of saltiness, along with crispiness from the leeks. I wasn't getting much of the olive oil, but either way this dish is a winner. 

Beef Tartar ($16) Black trumpet mushrooms, puffed faro, anchovy, egg yolk. The puffed faro and egg yolk was a nice touch, but I think the flavor notes from what I believe was mustard seeds, was just a little too much for me. The dish is good, but the single flavor profile of mustard seed or whatever the fuck it was, didn't do it for me 

Pear Pizza ($18) Stracciatella, pecan pesto, arugula, balsamic. I take my pizza seriously. I'm not one of those assholes who say "pizza is good, even when it's bad". Those people should be shot beaten with a rusty rake and then throw into a bathtub full of lemon juice. Upland's pizza though, is good. Well, the dough was good. The pear-pesto-balsamic wasn't doing it for me. 

Pappardelle ($22) Spicy sausage ragu, kale, Parmigiano. This dish is why I fucks  with Chef Smillie. The pappardelle was ridiculously fresh and super tender. The spicy sausage ragu had a fuckton of flavor with a nice little heat that danced on your tongue like a Brazilian stripper on a Saturday night. Order this dish, fuck it, and order two at the same time. 

Okay, so now I get California Inspired Italian food is. It's rustic italian but a lot lighter, and less cursing. Justin Smillie is completely killing it in the kitchen but not killing your wallet. Our bill came to $160 with a few drinks plus the tip. If you're looking for good food, a place that will get you laid on the first night or just an inexpensive night out in Manhattan, hit up Upland, A.S.A.P 

345 Park Avenue South, New York 

The Best Places to Eat Pizza in Southern Brooklyn You know that feeling you get, when you're interested in someone, and that wave of n...

The Best Places to Eat Pizza in Southern Brooklyn

You know that feeling you get, when you're interested in someone, and that wave of nervous excitement crashes over you, when you see them? That's how I feel when I see pizza. To me, pizza is the perfect food. It's quick, it's cheap, and you can write a blog post, about your favorite pizza joints while eating it.

There are many sides to New York City's pizza scene. One one hand, you have pizza joints with $100,000 hand-built wood fired pizza ovens. The pizza is hand stretched by a Pizzaiola who tops the pizza with the freshest ingredients. On the other hand, you have the $1 slice joints, which use the crappiest ingredients, and techniques to form a slice of slop. Depending on our situation, both are good and hit the spot. But to me, the heart and sole of New York City's pizza scene is the local slice joint. That little spot on your block that you hit up everytime you're craving a great slice. These are mine: 

Delmar: Located in Sheepshead Bay, Delmar has been slinging the same classic New York city slice, since I could remember. After hurricane Sandy, I was worried they would never re-open. But after a few months they did,  with a new interior but still serving up their perfect old school NYC slice. 1668 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn NY 
Brooklyn Pizza NYC Pizza New York City

Pizza Wagon: When I was high school,  I wanted to be a chef.  The only high school at the time with a culinary program was in Bay Ridge, an hour bus ride from my house. So before I'd make my trek back home I would stop off here for a their regular and square slice, and do a little flirting with the bimbos from the surrounding all-girls catholic schools. 8610 5th avenue, Brooklyn NY 

Espresso Pizza: This place is new in my rotation. I actually came here on a whim. A few years back when Robert Sietsema was still writing for the Village Voice he did a little write-up about this place. Once again, he nailed it. The slice took me back to the late 90's.How the fuck is this guy never wrong? 9403 5th Avenue, Brooklyn NY

Difara: I mean,  come on. Do I really need to explain this to you? 1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn NY

La Casa Bella: What can I say about La Casa Bella. I am here at least once a week, and I've been eating their pizza since the mid 90's. What sets La Casa Bella apart from everyone else is their Alla Vodka slice. A Crispy dough layered with thick, creamy, tomato-ey vodka sauce, topped with a blanket of fresh mozzarella,  sprinkled with parsely,  basil, and the crust is sprinkled with sesame seeds. The layers of great flavors makes this,  in my opinion, the best vodka slice in Brooklyn. 2579 Cropsey Avenue, Brooklyn NY

Knapp Pizza 2: This place serves up a great grandma slice. A perfectly thin crust topped with fresh mozzarella, a ridiculously good tomato and garlic heavy sauce and sprinkled with olive oil and fresh basil. 261 Avenue X, Brooklyn NY

J & V: The Sicilian slice or better known as the square slice is what this place does best. Their slice is thick with a crispy bottom. The inside is fluffy, topped with the perfect amount of sauce and cheese. 6322 18th avenue, Brooklyn 

Totonno's: Even though this isn't a slice joint,  I wouldn't have respected myself if I didn't add this place to my list. Totonno's is the pride and joy of my neighborhood. The charcoal pizza oven has been pumping out perfect pies since the early 1900's. Actually they have only been pumping out pies for the past twenty years. When the original owner was alive,  he would only make enough dough for 50 pies. If you were pie 51,  guess what? You were assed out and if you talked back,  he would chase you out the store with a baseball bat. 1524 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn NY

And lastly, my favorite spot for pizza is my kitchen.  It's kind of a funny story how I got into making pizza, I was drunk. I wanted pizza, it was 3am, so pretty much I was beat. In a fit of drunken, pizzaless rage, I took matters into my own hands and bought a stone, peel, and cutter on eBay for $30 at 3am. This assured me I would never go pizzaless again. 

Something that started out with me just wanting pizza when I was drunk flourished into another beast. I became infatuated with pizza, I mean like, reading Slice & Pizza making forums at 4am on a wednesday night, infatuated. Today, I have my own dough recipe, my own sauce recipe, and in the midst of figuring out how to make my own cheese curds to stretch out fresh mozzarella. 
Sound Bwoy Burreill: San Marzano, fresh mozzarella, spicy capicola, sweet sopressata, pecorino romano, red onion, olive oil 

Triple OG: San Marzano, dry mozzarella, grana padano, pecorino romano, olive oil, sea salt,basil. 

Fashionistas have fashion week and, food lovers have the New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF). The  four day event hits every angle...

Fashionistas have fashion week and, food lovers have the New York City Wine and Food Festival (NYCWFF). The  four day event hits every angle of food and beverage, ranging from Pizza to Caviar, pasturing from beer and wine to mixed drinks and soda. Every year, before the festival, Buick (a name becoming continusouly more visible with those interested in food), gathers a bunch of independent food bloggers and stuffs them full of food, at some of the greatest restaurants, like The Nomad (,  in New York City. They then send them off with a pair of tickets, to the NYCWFF, Grand Tasting; where Buick is both a sponsor and also providing shuttle service for chefs between events. This year, was another year when I was for and sent off..

An entire warehouse sized space filled with food, wine, and cooking demonstrations. The rows of food purveyors, wine vendors, and New York City chefs serving up classic dishes is any food lovers dream. Here's a quick recap of all the day: 

Shrimp ceviches, riceball cooked in lobster stock, sweet curry beef. 
Croque-Monsieur, masa with wild mushroom,panko crusted chicken, everything pretzel. 
Buick showcasing their cars and giving out hot and spicy cocoa.

The New York City Wine & Food Festival

This past weekend many kicked the end of summer blues by heading out to the Red  Hook Section of Brooklyn 4th annual Pig Island, held on Sa...

This past weekend many kicked the end of summer blues by heading out to the Red Hook Section of Brooklyn 4th annual Pig Island, held on Saturday September 6th. The outdoor event filled the Red Hook air with the smell of delicious pig dishes, live music, and the green grass was covered with people sitting on picnic blankets. 

Hosted by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's No. 43, the pork filled event featured more than 25 chefs serving up their own unique dishes cooked over charcoal fired grills. Every year the chefs gather in Union Square Market to pick up the pigs from local New York farms. This year the porkers were supplied by Flying Pigs farms, located in Shushan, New York. The event also boasted a generous amount of craft beers including Barrier Brewing, Singlecut Beersmiths, Rockaway Brewing, and Sixpoint Craft Ales. 

With the sun shining at full power, mounds of people poured off the NY Water Taxi and the streets in Red Hook to enjoy a great day of eating and drinking. Here's a quick recap of the day's events:
 Ends Meat: Pork Nuggets served with kraut and pickled mustard

The Pig Guy NYC: Italian Spring Rolls with Roast Pork, Broccoli Rabe, and Provolone-Horseradish Mayo

Revolving Dansk: Copenhagen Street Dog

Pig Island 2014 

My daily routine consists of pulling articles from various food blogs and posting them via my social media channels. The never-ending artic...

My daily routine consists of pulling articles from various food blogs and posting them via my social media channels. The never-ending articles of restaurant closures and chef shuffles is something I have become accustomed to, but every once in a while there is an article that rocks the food world. One article in particular was the news of Chef Paul Liebrandt packing up his tweezers and leaving Corton, a fine dinning restaurant in Tribeca to go work on a new project in Williamsburg called "The Elm."

Leap forward to this summer and Croton is now Batard. Not much has changed inside of the space other than a new menu, chef, and some sound proofing for the older crowd who have a hard time figuring out how to use the volume control on their hearing aids. The menu itself is French, with a tasting menu option only. Batard offers 3 choices at 3 different prices - two courses for $55, three courses for $65, and four courses for $75. It was a long week and I was hungrier than a kid on his third day at fat camp.

Octopus Pastrami: I've seen a lot of crazy shit in my life, but this dish took the cake. The octopus, cooked to a perfect tenderness. Flavor wise, it didn't hit me until a few bites in, and then WHAM, this dish started singing sweet love songs to the little taste bumps on my tongue. 

Maine Lobster: Green asparagus, zucchini blossoms, citrus rind. This was my least favorite of all four dishes. It's hard to shit on lobster, which was actually cooked to perfection. Flavor wise, it wasn't happening for me. I was actually able to take a bite of the Stellar Bay oyster dish and holy fuck was it good. If you looked up the meaning of the phrase "dish envy" my picture would be right next to it, mean muggin. 

Veal Tenderloin: Tramezzini cut of veal, sugar snap peas, sweetbreads, sauce diable. The veal, wrapped in what I would say was Swiss chard, then wrapped in this tasty, flaky dough served with a veal jus. Bite after bite, the dish got better and better. The crispy, buttery dough combined with the veal made me wonder if I should keep eating the veal or ask for its hand in marriage. 

Caramelized Milk Bread: Blueberries, brown butter ice cream. The one thing I liked about Batard's tasting menu is the option to replace dessert with a risotto dish on the menu. I figured that I would have a shit ton of salt after dinner and I needed something sweet. Well, there wasn't a shit ton of salt, but I still needed something sweet and the milk bread hit the spot. After three bites it got just a little too sweet for my tooth. 

The service  was good, up until we tried grabbing our check. It seemed that there was a "VIP" sitting behind us, and all the staff's attention seemed to dwell on them. The food in general was good. The mixture of classic french techniques, with new aged hipsterism like I tasted in the Pastrami Octopus, shows me that Batard has shed it's old, expensive, snooty skin and is ready to become another legend in New York City's restaurant scene.

239 West Broadway, New York, NY

When most people think of the variety of factors that compliment the food culture, things like music and art come to mind. The car culture i...

When most people think of the variety of factors that compliment the food culture, things like music and art come to mind. The car culture is one that might not be as apparent, however, after attending a few food forward events hosted by Buick, I started to realize how the car culture is quickly making room for itself next to music and art.

In the past, Buick hosted a cooking demonstration at The Brooklyn Kitchen, a formal dinner with a cocktail demonstration at the NoMad Rooftop,in addition to participating as a sponsor for the New York City Food and Wine Festival.  Most recently, Buick gathered a group of bloggers for a day of eating and drinking, in the new food mecca of New York, the Hudson Valley. 

The day started off at Montgomery Place Orchards - an Orchard farm that dates back to the 1700's, where we stopped off for a quick lunch catered by Mona Talbott. Today, the orchard offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables; this includes strawberries, red, purple, and black raspberries, apricots and plums. The orchards are also home to nearly 70 different varieties of apples, many of them antique. Our lunch was served in the orchard and the menu consisted of slow cooked pork shoulder with fava bean salsa verde and wild arugula. A French beans, sweet corn and basil salad with cherry tomato vinaigrette. And for dessert a Montgomery Place Orchard royal and black raspberry meringues with elderflower cream.
The next stop was Hill Rock Distillery. A distillery hand crafting perfect bottles of whiskey in a process they call "field-to-glass" which, they consider to be, their version of farm to table. We were given a detailed tour of their grounds, where we had the luxury of learning about  the process which they  have implemented as their process for making, the perfect whiskey. 

Our last stop was at Zak Pelaccio's farm-to-table restaurant, Fish and Game. A private dining room was set up for us, where a seven course dinner, with wine pairing was served. Some of the beautiful dishes served were a egg, pork loin, salsa verde. A Mushroom and Onion Top Bouillon and a beautiful bluefish served with cucumber, cherries, kimchi, to name a few. 

Buick realizes that most owners of their vehicles enjoy unusual experiences. For example, most of my eating adventures are within the five boroughs, and taking a two and a half hour drive from Brooklyn, isn't something I usually turn to when I plan a day of eating; the day has actually has inspired me to broaden my food horizons and take a little food road trip myself, so stay tuned...

Empellon Taqueria was definitely my white whale. I've tried to write a review about this place many times, but yet I've never able t...

Empellon Taqueria was definitely my white whale. I've tried to write a review about this place many times, but yet I've never able to. At one point in time, Empellon Taqueria was my closer. It was the place where I would take the bimbos I met when I was still in the dating scene. The relaxed vibe, ridiculous good food, and decent playlist always had someone naked in my apartment later that night. The problem was that many of these bimbos frowned up my duties as a food blogger. This meant no picture taking, no tweeting, no socializing with the staff to get some confidential info. No nothing. I was pretty much assed out. 

Fast forward a year later and the kid (me) is living the wife life. For months on end I would tell my girlfriend that I'd take her to Empellon for dinner, but the stigma that surrounded the place made me feel weird. Luckily, there was Empellon Cocina. I figured Cocina didn't carry the same stigma as the taqueria once did. Emepllon Cocina is located a few blocks from Taqueria, in the East Village. I knew I was in the right place because as I walked in Common's "GO!" was playing throughout the space, while people chattered and glasses clinked. We sipped on a classic margarita while we read the menu, this is what we got:

Chilaquiles Rojos ($13) - Poached duck egg, ramps. Strips of crispy tortillas, black beans, topped with a slow poached duck egg, crema, and crushed queso. Tons of flavors and textures happening all at once. And let's face it, anything with a fried egg over it makes it ten times better. 

The Guacamole and all 7 salsa's ($15) - Guacamole, pistachios. The Guacamole was extremely rich and deep and in texture, but not to the point where it was over done. Served alongside crispy masa chips, which had to be taken away from me so that I wouldn't fill up on them. 

The 7 Salsa's started with a salsa called "Sikil Pak" which was made up of pumpkin seeds, tomato, onion, garlic,cinnamon, epazote, sour orange juice, and serrano pepper which had a nice and mellow, sweet flavor to it. The last salsa, called "Salsa Habanera," made up of habenero, orange juice, grapefruit, and Mexican oregano had a nice mellow flavor at first, but then a nice tingle of heat hit my mouth. 

Chilled Shrimp ($16) - Sea urchin mousse, lettuce, masa waves. I didn't know if I wanted to eat this dish or hang it on my wall. The shrimp was tender, but a little dry until I mixed it around with the mousse - and then the hamster finally got back on the wheel, and I understood was happening. 

Lamb Tartare ($14) - Avocado leaf oil, pasilla oaxaquena, gauje seeds. Of all the dishes I had this was perhaps my least favorite. I felt the flavors were a little too flat, and what hit me was rather gamy. 

Squid ($17) - Chilmole, nugget potatoes, sour orange mayonnaise. Another work of art to the eye and to the palate. The squid and potatoes were tender in texture. The sour orange mayo gave the dish a nice touch of acid, with a hint of sour. Straight Banger. 

Carnitas ($24) - Onions, cilantro, salsa verde. If I had to explain this dish, it's kind of like getting smacked in a face with a bag of money, by a big breasted woman, while driving a Ferrari Enzo. The pork was perfectly cooked with bits of savory fat every few bites. The flavor reminded me of the pastrami from Katz's Deli. The fresh tortilla, which are served on the side of this dish, were warm and chewy. My favorite dish of the night, and maybe even of all 2014. 

So I finally caught my white whale, and fuck was it delicious. Empellon does a great job at sticking to the script of authentic Mexican food, while bringing a little refinement into the dinning experience.  Another thing I enjoy about Empellon is the chef, Alex Stupak. Once the head pastry chef at Wylie Dufresne's WD-50, Stupak set out to open a Mexican restaurant, with much controversy surrounding the opening. A straight up underdog, and I always root for the underdog. Chefs like Alex Stupak who cook foods from outside of their native backgrounds, and do it right, is what makes the New York City food scene so exciting and off the wall. If Empellon three (which is in the works as we speak) is anything like Empellon one and two, I might have to camp out for an opening day reservation. 

Empellón Cocina 
105 1st Avenue New York, NY