1. I’ve moved this blog!

    Hello dear followers!  I’ve moved my blog to http://www.epicureandiscovery.com. Please update your bookmarks, and see you over there. Thanks for reading here on Tumblr! :)

     


  2. A Coffee Haven in Chelsea

    This isn’t your ordinary cafe.  It can’t compare to Starbucks, The Coffee Bean, or any other major chain that mass produces and overprices average coffee. No frou-frou, milk frothed , artificially flavored, or sugary drinks here.  Welcome to an artisan place makes coffee for you in its purest and most ideal form.

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    Nestled on 15th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, Blue Bottle Coffee (originally from San Francisco) offers top quality coffee from all over the world and uses several different methods to achieve the perfect brew. At this Chelsea HighLine outpost, there are two levels where you can enjoy your coffee.  On the main floor, you can order black coffee, cappuccinos, lattes, and such made with finest coffee beans, but the BEST place for the ultimate coffee drinking experience is upstairs on the second floor.  There’s a full bar that uses a fancy espresso machine, chemex, pour over, nel, and cold drip tools to brew coffee, and most importantly, it features the siphon coffee maker

    So, what is a siphon? 

    According to the CoffeeGeek, the siphon is “a vacuum coffee maker (that) works on the principle of expansion and contraction of gases - actually one gas, water vapour - is what allows the device to brew a full infusion style of coffee and filter the grounds efficiently, leaving a generally clean, pristine cup.” It’s made of glass and is heated over a gas, electric, stovetop, or cloth-wick alcohol burner.  

    Ever since I’ve moved back from Japan, I’ve been looking for a place that uses the siphon to make coffee. Thanks to the Coffee Shop Map and Google.  I was able to find this neighborhood gem.

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    The Menu, Ethiopia Nekisse Red Coffee, and a Special Tea Brew as a “non-alcoholic apertif”

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    Preparing the siphon - all equipment made in and imported from Japan

    You’ll enjoy the offerings at the coffee bar above the main seating area, because there’s always something new.  Every so often, about two weeks or more, the coffee selections on the menu are changed.  This allows you to taste a variety of rich and complex brews in a multitude of ways.  Each category presents a brewing method that brings out the best flavors and aromas of the different coffee beans.  Here, you can sip your coffee the way you like to — pretentiously or proudly, and in “private.”  By “private,” I mean that the area can only sit up to 10 people comfortable.  I guess that also makes for intimate and cozy surroundings. 

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    Left: The perfect brew in action | Right: The Result - complex, light, and refreshing flavors of hibiscus, grapefruit, and cherry

    Coffee geeks, snobs, lovers, and curious newbies, come forth and gather! Blue Bottle Coffee is your answer to a great cup, flask, mug, or shot of joe.

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    Pot and glass of Nekisse Red Coffee and glass of water to cleanse the palate

    No one on the outside is judging us as harshly as we judge each other, but why does that matter? We come here for one reason. We share a common interest - our love for pristine coffee

    Cheers!

     


  3. Edible Hearts of Dough(nut)

    It’s been a while since I’ve visited Doughnut Plant in Chelsea for a sweet breakfast or snack, and I realized that I was missing out on some new, tasty doughnuts!

    Doughnut Plant

    For Valentine’s Day (since the beginning of the month I’m guessing), Doughnut Plant has created some rose flavored and heart-shaped doughnuts to celebrate the upcoming holiday.  Even those who aren’t into the overdose on the whole lovey-dovey theme of February 14th, that doesn’t mean you should deny yourself a wonderfully baked treat.  

    I didn’t see any rose flavored doughnuts when I dropped by, so I opted for the heart-shaped passionfruit yeast one instead. 

    Doughnut Plant

    The heart-shaped doughnut was perfectly constructed, and I enjoyed the light passionfruit flavor. It wasn’t too sweet or too fruity as passionfruit flavored foods tend to be.  The balance was just right. It looks pretty cute too, doesn’t it? 

    I love both yeast and cake type of doughnuts here, but I’ve got to say that the yeast will always be my favorite.  Something about the lightness and airiness of it is probably why I enjoy it so much!  

    Doughnut Plant

    The selection of doughnuts that afternoon

    As much as I’d really like to try the rose flavored varieties, especially the doughseed type, I don’t think I”ll be able to make it to the store before Valentine’s Day. Hurry over there, because after tomorrow, the themed doughnuts will sadly be no more. On the brighter side, we can look forward to the new flavors they’ll be debuting for the next holiday - St. Patrick’s Day! Shamrock-shaped or “Lucky Charm” doughnuts, anyone? 

    There are two Doughnut Plant locations in Manhattan:

    Doughnut Plant LES (the original store)
    379 Grand St. (between Norfolk and Essex Sts.)
    New York, NY
    (212) 505-3700

    Doughnut Plant Chelsea (at Hotel Chelsea)
    220 W 23rd St. (between 7th and 8th Aves.)
    New York, NY
    (212) 505-3700

    Visit their website here: http://doughnutplant.com/

     


  4. Teas to Tempt the Heart

    Just for Valentine’s Day, my favorite premium French tea purveyor, Palais des Thés, has created a special gift to share with you and your loved ones. So I popped into the SoHo flagship store on Prince Street over the weekend to check out gift set and the festive display with some friends and had them taste the new teas. 

    Palais des Thés for Valentine's Day

    The “LOVERS - tea miniature set” (Thé des Amants) is an exclusive limited edition blend created by Palais des Thés that comes with miniature tins of black, green and rooibos tea, and a box of pink cane sugar hearts. Each tea has romantic hints of almond, apple, cinnamon, and vanilla, and warm notes of ginger.

    Although I enjoyed all of the teas in this set, I love, love, love the Thé des Amants black tea. The strong taste of the black tea is beautifully complemented by notes of apple, almond, and cinnamon, the latter of which adds just the perfect amount of spice.  I’ve been having a great time quenching my thirst with these enchanting teas since they’ve been released late January. They’re optimal to drink throughout the day and they’ll seduce your taste buds too.  I suggest starting with the black for a caffeine boost in the mornings (or when you’re losing energy in the early afternoon), go with green for moderate energy for the rest of the day, and end with rooibos in the evening since it contains zero caffeine to disrupt your slumber.

    With this winter’s snowy weather and chilling temperatures, these playful teas will definitely warm you up especially during the cold nights when you feel like staying in hanging out with your loved one over Netflix and Seamless or cuddling with your adorable pet.  

    Palais des Thés for Valentine's Day

    If you’re a tea lover like moi and want to try something new, I recommend you visit Palais des Thés and pick up this limited edition set before Valentine’s Day for all the people you love who love tea. Very good tea.  You’ll enjoy this sensual and delicious surprise that brings new meaning to "love potion." 

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    "LOVERS - tea miniature set" (Thé des Amants), $27
    Available now online at Palais des Thes, and in-stores:
    http://us.palaisdesthes.com/en_us/

    SoHo: 156 Prince Street
    (between West Broadway & Thompson Sts)
    Mon-Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 10am-7pm
    Tel: (646) 513 4369

    Upper West Side - Lincoln Square 
    194 Columbus Avenue
    (between 68th & 69th Sts).
    Mon-Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 11am-7pm
    Tel: (646) 664 1902

     


  5. A French Pastry in Best Form

    Recently I visited the newest French addition to the Upper East Side, and it was wonderful in all its brick and mortar glory!  Now we have a shop that exclusively makes and sells the fantastic French pastry from Bordeaux called canelés.  

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    Storefront of Canelé by Céline

    What is a canelé? 

    A canelé is a French pastry, baked in a mold, with a soft, tender custard center and a dark, caramelized crust. Originally, it was created in a convent in Bordeaux (the Southwest of France) in the late 17th century. In a few years, many bakeries have been introducing the canele into their stores. Finally more of this delightful delicacy has made its way to our shores and into our stomachs. However, the best kind can be found here at Canelé by Céline

    Canelé by Céline

    Canelé by Céline was started by Céline Legros, a business lawyer from Paris who had a huge passion for cooking. After leaving the corporate world, she started her own catering business where she created and sold tasty French pastries - mini and full-size canelés, and financiers. Her canelés were a hit with renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  Céline has reinvented the classic recipe by using her own take on it while introducing unique flavors. 

    When I visited the new shop, I picked up a box of all the available sweet canelé flavors available that day as well as three of the four savory selections.  

    Canelé by Céline

    The Canelé tower of greatness

    Canelé by Céline

    Mini canelés in Vanilla (the classic & my favorite, not pictured) Orange Blossom, Orange, and Lemon

    Canelé by Céline

    More minis in Rum, Pistachio, Rose Water, and Dark Chocolate

    Savory canelés

    The Savory Selection: Truffle (made with black truffles from Truffes Plantin), Parmesan, Basil Pesto, and Chorizo

    Each savory caneléis a mini meal in a bite! My favorite is the truffle. It’s rich in flavor and leaves you wanting more. The truffle is available in the larger size canelé as are all flavors. If you wanted to order for a special event or occasion, your selection can be customized. Bring to these to your next party or get-together with friends, family, or work, and you’ll make a good impression.

    Canelé by Céline

    I wasn’t able to bring home any of the mini financiers, but they were tempting!  The flavors here are PInk Praline, Walnut, Plain, and Chocolate Chip.  On my next visit, I’ve got to grab these to go.  

    If you’re a fan of French food, sweets, and everything French (like me!), you must stop by Canelé by Céline.  Everything is freshly baked daily, and it’s open 7 days a week. It may be in the land far, far away that is the Upper East Side (haha!), but it’s a trek that is absolutely worth it.
     

    Canelé by Céline
    400 E 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028
    (between 1st & York Avenues)
    (646) 678-4124
    https://canelebyceline.com/

     


  6. Bubbles & Beats: Sparkling Cocktails & Posh Parties

    People who know “know” me can tell you that I’m a lover of wine especially of the sparkling variety.  And if it’s French, even better!

    Fortunately I received an invitation to a cocktail party from the folks at French sparkling wine house Veuve Ambal, a well-known sparkling brand hailing from Burgundy. My first impression when I walked in? Welcome to great open bar in a cool place with interesting people.

    The first of their event series,”Envy”, was held in the newly renovated upper lounge of the upscale French-Vietnamese restaurant, Le Colonial, on the Upper East Side.  The beautiful and charming decor is reminiscent of the French colonial era in Southeast Asia, and it will transport you to another world. Having been to the lounge once before it was revamped, I was surprised to find that the space opened up a lot. The new lounge still retained its cozy feel, but the warm ambiance is more comforting and inviting. 

    There were guests of all sorts - young and old professionals, nightlife partygoers, socialites,  bloggers, writers who were dressed and ready to impress.  Fresh, energetic beats spun by DJ Teal Cammer set the mood. Mixologist Moses Laboy, Le Colonial’s recent addition and formerly the mastermind behind the cocktails at Red Rooster, Ginny’s Supper Club, Krescendo and Los Americanos, kept the drinks flowing all night long.  Supposedly, he also created and served cocktails to Presidents Obama and Clinton. Do we have a presidential cocktail craftsman in our midst? Seems like he already has impressive credentials under his belt!

    For this occasion, Moses crafted three unique cocktails using Veuve Ambal sparkling wine which were the 1) “Wild Ambal” (Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne, Russian Standard, fresh lemon juice and spiced pomegranate), Bubbles” (Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne, Tanqueray Gin, fresh lemon juice, lemongrass and Burlesque bitters) and the “French 85” (Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne, Maker’s Mark, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup). Of the three, my favorite was the French 85. Based on the classic “French 75” cocktail, I took an immediate liking to Lamboy’s playful take on the original version. 

    Pictured below from left: The “French 85" and ”Bubbles” cocktails

    Guest nibbled on hor d’oeuvres done in the French-Vietnamese fusion style of Le Colonial’s Chef Ronald Wingwee Hsu. Served that evening but not pictured were the “Bo Lui” (Grilled sesame ginger beef skewers with scallion oil), “Cha Gio Chay” (Vegetarian crispy spring rolls filled with mushrooms, tofu, taro and carrots, Served with spicy soy sauce) and “Chicken Lettuce Wraps” (With turmeric, roasted peanuts, dill and fresh chili). These small bites were the perfect pairings for Lamboy’s cocktails.  

    Toward the night’s end, Veuve Ambal sparkling wine was served in flutes to guests on its own.  It was great to see that the bubbly beverage would be savored as is to close the party, and a nice touch it was indeed. Would I say it was a success? So far, so good! 

    For more info about future events, visit the websites below:

    Envy by Veuve Ambal http://envybyveuveambal.com/
    Le Colonial NYC - http://lecolonialnyc.com