Archives for category: Food

Red Rooster Harlem Entrance

What can make eating out a memorable event?   Plenty of great food. Inviting ambiance.  A chef who greets you at the door.  Friendly service. And enjoying the meal with a fun crowd.   I experienced all that and more at Red Rooster Harlem.  Last week, I took a quick trip to New York for a board meeting.  After the meeting, the board members headed uptown to Harlem for dinner.

Before entering the restaurant, the huge sign with the proud red rooster tipped me off that something hot was happening inside.  I knew I was about to experience a treat.    The moment I walked in, I felt the pulsating vibes emenating from the wall-to-wall people laughing and having a great time around the big, curved bar.   As they say, “the joint was jumping.”    Award-winning Chef Marcus Samuelsson, the owner, happened to be greeting guests at the door.  Naturally, I took a picture with him.   It was easy to feel the vibrations and vitality in the place.   I immediately loved it and I hadn’t had my first drink or tasted the food.

Red Rooster Harlem Downstairs

Here’s the back story.  The original Red Rooster was the name of a legendary 1900s Harlem speakeasy located at 138th Street and 7th Avenue where big time neighborhood folks—entertainers, politicians and everybody who thought they were somebody—hung out.   Its nickname was the Stork Club of Harlem.  Back then there was the Sherman Billingsley Stork Club in midtown Manhattan where cafe society gathered and there were clubs in Harlem for African-Americans.  The original Red Rooster owner, George Woods, patterned his place after Billingsley’s Stork Club by allowing only who he wanted inside. Generally, they were the elites of Harlem such as Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Duke Ellington and the like.   In the Sixties, writers and photographers hung out there before heading down the street to grab a meal.  By the 1980s, the original had closed.

Fast forward to today.  That distinctive spirit that oozed through the place back then, does so now with a new hotness.   Chef Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem welcomes a truly diverse crowd—neighborhood families, downtown business owners and uptown artists of all colors and ethnicities.  Hints of the past speakeasy times comfortably mix with modern touches such as Samuelsson’s creative twist on southern comfort foods:  traditional dishes with an international flair.

Red Rooster Harlem Menu

Our large group dined in the “downstairs” space along side the wonderful art.  In the future, that area with its own bar will include a stage for more entertaining possibilities.  Anyway, we ate and ate.  We had corn bread with honey butter and spiced-tomato jam.  We had huge pieces of fried yard bird—Harlem for chicken—along with great greens. We ate uptown steak frites, creative dirty rice with shrimp, and blackened catfish with black-eyed peas.  Our vegetables included hearth baked squash and yams and sweet potato puree.  Desserts were sweet potato doughnuts with cinnamon sugar and a luscious spiced chocolate cake with sherry sorbet.  For drinks we had wines, and I capped the evening with a soothing Darjeeling with lemongrass and jasmine tea.

Dining at Red Rooster Harlem was an event worth repeating.  Thanks, Chef Samuelsson for making the old, new again.

Red Rooster Harlem Downstairs Bar

Red Rooster Harlem

310 Lenox Avenue

New York, New York                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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Rosh Hashanah Dinner Party

Shana Tova!  Happy New Year—the year 5,772.  No, there’s no dancing in the streets of New York’s Time Square, no confetti, and no silver ball drop.  Yes, a horn is played—the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn. It’s Rosh Hashanah when many celebrate the Jewish New Year in synagogues and at a festive gatherings over dinner with friends and family.  As a faux foodie, I’m focusing on the food aspect of the season.

Apples and Honey

Like most holidays, this one is full of symbolism and traditions.  And there is an abundance of holiday foods in round shapes with sweet tastes.  Round challah loaves filled with raisins, cut and dipped in honey (some do dip it in salt) are part of the traditional holiday feast.   There are comfort foods galore including brisket, chopped liver and a head of a fish—or lamb—reflecting Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year.”   Kreplach, meat-filled dumplings, in broth; matzoh ball soup; and sweet carrot stew called tzimmes are menu musts.  Other sweets eaten are apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year and pomegranates, symbolic of a year full of good deeds.  Pomegranates also mark the custom of eating a new fruit, one not tasted before the season.  Most bitter or sour flavors don’t make it to the high holiday table.

Rejuvenate, celebrate, and appreciate good friends, family, and food…that’s expected during this holiday kicking off the year 5,772.

As I anticipated an evening of elegance with some good food and an open bar, I was a bit confused when I realized the event I was going to was in an office building. Not just any office building, but one I had visited before for a film screening. So all I could do was wonder what I was about to get myself into for the evening.  I immediately thought, OMG, this is going to be a disaster—and I valet parked my car for this.

As I followed the directional signs strategically placed to guide my every step, I strolled down a hallway and to my very pleasant surprise entered a space with a classic touch of purple elegantly placed throughout the venue and on the patio – TIATO in Santa Monica, California.

Tiato hosted the Biz Bash October venue issue release party.  So when you do an event for event planners and producers, you better bring it and they did from the three specialty cocktails created for the evening to the shrimp egg rolls that melted in my mouth and the passed hors d’oeuvres that were never ending and always changing.   There were sliders, and skewers, and tuna tartare.  The hot beverage station included something besides regular coffee.  We were treated to Mexican hot chocolate.   That was new even to me – and it was excellent and unexpected.  There were fireplaces in the round, a sushi station with custom ordered items and an old-fashion dessert cart that was the center piece of the outdoor patio.

The wait at the bar was non-existent, even with the made to order specialty drinks.  The event was well designed and well planned giving us time to enjoy the experience, engage in conversation and make a few new connections.

And parking was complimentary!

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. —Virginia Woolf

Hmm…good company, good drinks or good food.  What makes a great event,  especially a dinner party?   I  go with Virginia Woolf, to dine well makes everything else better.  We’re all foodies now thanks to Bravo’s “Top Chef,” the Food Channel and Martha Stewart.   So feed me something fabulous—something with a twist that I can talk and tweet about long after I leave the party.

Our Pear Twist team found what we’re serving at our next dinner party thanks to Sprinkle Bakes.   Honeyed pears in puff pastry, love it!   Naturally, our theme colors will be green and brown.  Would you attend?

Get the recipe here.

Honeyed Pears in Puff Pastry