It is no secret that Taim is my favorite falafel spot in NY. My allegiance had led me to its sit-down sister restaurant, Balaboosta in Nolita; I had always been curious about their other meals after having visited them for a fantastic brunch. I finally had a chance to try their Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean dinner fare this weekend when Maithil and I met up with our close family friends. Chef Einat Admony’s warm, family-photo filled quarters and dishes have all of the comforts of home, as if they were created by a “perfect housewife” (the definition of Balaboosta in Yiddish). The carnivores at the table were delighted with their tender, well-cooked meats, all of which had a balanced interplay of textures and spices. There was no shortage of flavors in any of the dishes. The table favorite was undoubtedly my (surprise) birthday dessert, the Hazelnut Chocolate Mouse – velvety smooth mouse with a bottom layer of crushed, packed cornflakes with nutella and chocolate, topped with a nut brittle and piece of dark chocolate. The icing on the meal was the impeccable service provided by our charming host, Marvin, who made the decision heavy ordering process seamless. More
Initially, I thought this weekend would be rather low key, a time to run errands, clean and catch up on sleep. Instead, it was a weekend of impromptu socializing. I had a late brunch on Saturday with two of my oldest friends, a belated birthday dinner on Saturday night for Ben and a Sunday full of family time with my two of my sister-in-laws. Sometimes having no definite plans can give you just the time you need to enjoy time with your favorite people.
In thinking about the week ahead, I hope I have a reason to return to Balaboosta, in Nolita, sometime soon. Maithil took me there for brunch recently and everything we tried had just the right amount of flavor, texture and spice. The open and airy space, complete with knowledgeable service, in just the place to have a leisurely meal.
We started with a Pomegranate Iced Tea and a pot of Earl Grey Tea. Details such as the raw sugar cubes and dish of black salt on the table added that extra touch of care.
While awaiting our mains, we snacked on the Mediterranean Sampler, which consisted of hummus, babaganoush, a roasted red pepper salad, and a side of za’atar pita. Everything was fresh and well spiced; the pita was exceptionally soft and fluffy and served as a great base for the dips. Each part managed to, both, stand alone and play well with the others. After trying a few combinations, Maithil decided that his favorite was a bite that incorporated a little of each.
We got the Poached Eggs on Grilled Challah with portobellos, butternut squash, spinach fricasée, saffron aïoli, and a mixed green salad and the Shakshouka, Moroccan baked eggs in a spicy tomato cazuela, with spinach and a side of grilled country bread, to share. Both, while equally stellar, were completely different from the other. The poached egg dish was light and filled with subtle and delicate flavors while the Shakshouka was bold, hearty and robust. The finger-licking tomato base of the Shakshouka is what really stole the show, giving baked eggs a whole new meaning.
We initially wanted to come to Balaboosta because we knew that it was the sister to Taim, our go-to, scrumptious falafel spot. I love it when one good thing leads to another. I am really looking forward to not just coming back to Balaboosta from brunch, but also for dinner.
Recap: delicious food; laid-back but attentive service; relaxing atmosphere; great for a casual date or a dinner with a small group; fun for sharing a few plates; reasonably priced; many vegetarian options
Food Tally: Pomegranate Iced Tea, $4; Earl Grey Tea, $3; Mediterranean Sampler, $8; Poached Eggs, $13; Shakshouka, $12. Total w/tax = $43.55.
Address: 214 Mulberry Street, between Spring and Prince Street, NYC; www.balaboostanyc.com
To say that it has been a while since my last post would be a severe understatement! With the holiday season (not to mention all the December/January birthdays) and a hectic work schedule, writing was placed on pause for a bit. However, during this hiatus, there was lots of eating, picture taking and discovering new places!
Rubirosa in Nolita was amongst these places. I took my dear friend Kenzie there for her birthday dinner (picked by her). It was the middle of the week and we showed up without a reservation at about 7:30. There was a half-an-hour wait, during which we accomplished some sale-tastic shopping! We were seated in the back of the long and narrow, dimly lit restaurant, and to my delight, right by the pizza kitchen. Starving, we almost immediately knew what we wanted, especially since we had both perused the family style menu, ideal for sharing, online. Our meal began with two pints of beer and some fresh house bread and olive oil. Next came our bruschettas: one Tomato and the other, Mushroom, the house special that night. Both, while equally delicious, were polar opposites. The Tomato with cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic was a light basic done right, while the Mushroom with goat cheese, parmesan, pine nuts, and a combination of mushrooms, was dense, creamy and more filling.
Our main course consisted of a pasta and a pizza. We shared the Ravioli, with ricotta, butternut squash, brown butter, and sage and a half classic and half vodka pie. The Ravioli looked like little pieces of the sun, with a green rim. The generous drizzle of balsamic on top added a ton of flavor to the mildly sweet, smooth-centered, al dente pockets of sunshine. The thin and crispy pizza with fresh mozzarella took me back to my semester in Rome. I preferred the simple and fragrant sauce in the classic portion of the pie over the slightly above average vodka sauce. A detail that we really appreciated was the plate of spices that accompanied the pizza, three tiny dishes, one with salt, one with crushed red pepper and one with a blend of dried Italian herbs (basil, oregano, etc.).
No birthday celebration would be complete without dessert. We chose from the sobet and gelato selections, a scoop of the salted caramel gelato, vanilla gelato and the apple sorbet. The blend of the three, along with the wafer on top, made for an apple-pie like conconction. The salted caramel gelato was our favorite, while we were indifferent to the other two. Because our host had forgotten to place a candle in the dessert, like I had requested, she brought us a piece of the tiramisu to make up for it. Full as we were, we did manage to try a spoonful or two of the standard classic.
There is nothing that makes you say “wow” about the carb-flled Rubirosa. However, it is a comforting place, perfect for catching up with a friend, that serves up solid food accompanied with great service.
Recap: good service and food; spacious and warm atmosphere; reasonably priced; vegetarian friendly; lots of options.
Food Tally: Beer, $7/glass; Bruschetta, $3 and $4; Ravioli, $15; Pizza, $23; Sorbet/Gelato Trio, $8. Total w/o tax = $67.
Address: 235 Mulberry Street, between Prince and Spring Street, NYC; www.rubirosanyc.com
For the majority of the past year-and-a-half, I was only vaguely able to speak about where I worked. However, the time has finally come! I work for J. Christopher Capital and particularly, C. Wonder, a new apparel, accessories and lifestyle retail concept by Chris Burch, best known as co-founder of Tory Burch. The grand-opening of our flagship store is this coming Saturday and Sunday. Behind the bright green lacquer doors in Soho lies the colorfully chic, re-imagined world of shopping. It’s beautiful abundance married with exquisite quality and incredible prices. What exactly can you find inside? A gorgeous cashmere sweater with signature gold button details, buttery soft driving moccasins, totes to fit your every need, a drop-shaped waterproof speaker for singing in the shower, monogrammed cheese boards that are ideal for entertaining, an array of must-have jewelry pieces to make your outfit sparkle, and a bicycle for that perfect Sunday morning stroll to the farmer’s market, to simply name a few. Curious? You’re in luck because we officially opened our doors for business this morning. It will be impossible for you to leave empty handed!
I am not a big coffee drinker. Correction: I am not a big caffeine consumer. However, I do love the taste of a well-brewed cup of jo. I had an exceptional latte this afternoon, thank to my friend, John. We met at Saturdays Surf in Soho. I’d only known them as a surf-oriented retail shop. After drinking my strong and smooth iced latte, prepared atop a counter in front of our eyes by a charming barista, I now know them as a coffee spot rather than a retail destination. The outdoor, bench seating in the back is the just the place to meet a friend or simply relax and enjoy your cup of perfection.
Food Tally: Iced Coffee and Iced Latte, $3.25 each.
Address: 31 Crosby Street, between Grand and Broome, NYC; http://www.saturdaysnyc.com/
$1 for a cupcake in New York seems like an amazing price. However, paying $1 per cupcake at Baked by Melissa seems a bit pricey, considering the fact that they are about the size of a quarter. Each pop-able, candy-like bite is a sugar rush. The cute creations, stuffed with fillings such as fudge or peanut butter and covered with frosting and toppings like sprinkles or chocolate chips, are very moist, like they are just barely baked. This is why it is interesting that they tend to dry out a bit if you leave them overnight.
Melissa Bushell, with the help of her brother and some friends, came up with Baked by Melissa after being fired from her job as an assistant media planner. What began as a pop up window in Soho, has now expanded to a couple of locations in Manhattan. I prefer the Union Square store because they have the best service. I’ve had every flavor and my favorite is the cinnamon (least sugary). If you want a flavor that is not currently on the menu, you can create your own flavor online and pick it up or have it shipped anywhere.
Recap: The larger your quantity, the better the price per cupcake! Lots of variety such as mint chocolate chip, s’mores, confetti cake.
Address: Soho, Grand Central, Fashion District (coming soon), Union Square: 7East 14th Street (preferred); www.bakedbymelissa.com
Happy New Year! Please excuse my lack of writing for the past few weeks. Maithil and I were in India for his niece’s wedding and we only returned towards the end of last week. (A separate post to come on our trip.)
Yesterday, I was in Soho with my colleague, Beth, and we decided to have lunch from Olive’s. Open since 1992, Olive’s is a neighborhood spot, popular for its hearty soups, fresh sandwiches and salads, and homemade baked creations. It’s a strictly a take away shop, the only seating being the bench outside. Patrons can also place orders online and have them delivered for their convenience.
For lunch, Beth opted for the Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast (antibiotic and hormone free, with tomato, cress and chipotle mayo on focaccia) while I got the Roasted Shitake Mushrooms sandwich (with roasted tomatoes, cress and herb ricotta on sourdough baguette). Both the focaccia and the baguette were fresh and provided a good base for our fillings. Beth’s chicken was well seasoned and well grilled. My mushrooms and roasted tomatoes combination was flavorful and filling. Given the borderline inhospitable service, prices, and the average sizes, these are not the most amazing sandwiches you will ever eat. However, Olive’s is a good option for a straight forward lunch. The vegetarian friendly menu is uncomplicated and there is something for everyone.
Food Tally: Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast Sandwich, $9; Roasted Shitake Mushrooms Sandwich, $8.50. Total: $17.50.
Address: 120 Prince Street, NYC; www.olivesnyc.com