Q&A with Daniel Stedman, Founder of Taste Talks

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We are so excited for Taste Talks in Brooklyn September 12-14 and in Chicago October 3-5. To get us, and of course, you, even more excited, we interviewed the co-founder of Taste Talks and Northside Media Group, Daniel Stedman. Check it out…

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1. What is Taste Talks? Why did you start it?

Taste Talks started as a conference to celebrate what’s happening in food culture right here in Brooklyn, in the very community that is leading the conversation. There was too much to talk about and too many amazing chefs to NOT gather them together to talk, cook and eat! Now we’re expanding to Chicago as well, which is an incredible food town, and seemed lacking in this type of engaging conversation about taste.

2. Who do you see at Taste Talks Brooklyn? Is it a good mix of industry and non-industry? What is the type of diner Taste Talks attracts?

Our audience is for the person who is interested in what they are eating — both where the ingredients are coming from and how a chef creates a fantastic dish. I like to think that the people who come to Taste Talks are the types of people that go to a restaurant for the chef and not just to follow the hype.

3. If Taste Talks were a music festival, which one would it be?

Pitchfork

4. Why Chicago for your second city?

The friends and family around Taste Talks were talking about asking Paul [Kahan] to come to Brooklyn, until a light bulb went off in our heads that we should be bringing Taste Talks to Chicago. We also saw Chicago’s burgeoning food scene and wanted to celebrate that. Chicago is an incredible city with an equally amazing food culture, and it seemed like a perfect place to have really forward-thinking conversations about the future of food and taste. 

5. Will there be any other events outside of the Taste Talks “main stage”?

We’re having four different venues host tastings, cooking demos and panels. And our dinners are taking place all over Williamsburg. We want all of Williamsburg to feel a part of this event.

6. Which panels are you most looking forward to in Brooklyn and Chicago?

I’m really excited to see Danny Bowien & Christina Tosi make comfort food from dollar store ingredients! And in Chicago I think I can learn a thing or two from the “How to Entertain” panel with Charles Joly of The Aviary.

7. Will you expand Taste Talks again next year? Where to?

There are so many exciting cities for incredible food and incredible culture — I could see us bringing Taste Talks to another big city, or even doing a satellite event somewhere remote. Definitely some exciting possibilites.

8. Where do you see food media going? There have been so many shake-ups in the last year, what’s the future hold in your mind?

As a longtime print publisher myself, with Brooklyn Magazine and The L Magazine, I think that the shake-ups help the medium to find their purpose once again. There are tons of exciting new food magazines, and we’re living in a time where people are devouring the culture of food — I can only imagine that great things will come from this.

9. What are you top restaurants in BK, Manhattan and Chicago?

Brooklyn : Two Toms. Manhattan : Keen’s. Chicago : My favorite sandwich of my life is the Return of the Gyro, from Publican Quality Meats.

10. Where’s your favorite city to travel to for food outside the US? Inside the US?

I had a perfect moment at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami – I love that place. I’d also like to organize a proper clambake in Maine or Nova Scotia.

11. Where do you get dining recommendations? Who or what is your favorite source?

Well, Taste Savant of course! But truly, the best recommendations come from my amazing wife.

12. What’s your guiltiest food pleasure? 

Gonna go with Popeye’s — so good, but so, so bad.

Alright food enthusiasts – go and get your tickets for Taste Talks before you can’t! Here: http://taste-talks.com/schedule-bk/

 

Food Cart Dining in Portland, Oregon

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Portland and New York can be seen as polar opposite food cities. For starters, the infamous New York makes restaurants hire reservationists just to field the phone calls and fill seats, while Portland has opted to have pre-recorded phone messages with no answering machine. The best solution to this Portland conundrum come in the form of food carts. They were once for downtown work lunches but have morphed into all hours of the day nourishment. Allowing last minute, line-averse diners to eat cheaply and well, with no reservation or line.

The best part of Portland food cart dining are the pods, which are situated in parking lots, undeveloped lots, and other unlikely street corners. The pods have become akin to elevated open-air food court where diners can choose to eat what ever they desire (the gluten-free and vegan friends no longer stop you from enjoying what you crave) and then congregate in the provided communal seating. These pods are possible because unlike twitter driven LA carts, most Portland carts are stationary, making them easy to find – even if their hours are hard to keep track of.

Here are five not to miss food carts in the Rose City:

Viking Soul Food
4262 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR

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It might be because lefse – Norwegian flat bread made of potatoes – is my all time favorite food and that meatballs have captivated me since I was a child but this food cart is my favorite in Portland. The thing is I am not alone, Viking Soul food almost closed due to a family emergency but their fans encouraged them to come back and Portland is all the better for it.

Try the Meatball and goat cheese gravy wrap and the lingonberry and cream cheese wrap for dessert (the wrap is lefse).

Savor Soup House
1003 Southwest Alder Street, Portland, OR

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Soup is once of those foods that we always crave and Savor turns out the best cart soup around. This is a spot where down town workers come to grab their mid day warm up in the winter and homey sandwiches in the summer. The best part about Savor are the small spoons they give you with samples of their vast array of soups – think ice cream sampling but soup – ensuring you never sit down to lunch with a bowl you dislike.

Try the grilled cheese bar and tomato with fennel and orange soup

The Angry Unicorn
5205 SE Foster Road, Portland, OR

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Burgers are back. Everyone is trying to come up with the latest and greatest. One of those greats is housed in this deep south east food cart where a unicorn burger means ground brisket, bacon, cheese and a donut for a bun. The combination is dynamic and the name is clever but this is the kind of burger that you only have on occasionally, as large doses of sarcastically named menu items might not be good for a daily diet.

Try the unicorn burger

Big Ass Sandwiches
304 SE 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR

These are the sandwiches that late nights where made for. The fries, béchamel cheese sauce (house made of course), meat of your choose, and optional hot sauce all smash in-between locally mad ciabatta are why I stay up late. Luckily for those who don’t like to stay up past your bedtime Big Ass Sandwiches is now open during the day and even has added a breakfast sandwich to the menu. Now night owls and morning folk can rejoice with a sandwich that can keep you full for 12-hours.

Try the Big-Ass Sandwich (the Big-Ass Vegetarian Sandwich is also amazing)

Namu
4209 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR

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The crowning glory of Portland food carts is the diversity. A trip to a food cart pod can mean filling your plat up with a combination of mac and cheese and sushi or perhaps something with a little more purpose like the Bulgogoi Beef at Namu. Namu is situated across the parking lot from Viking Soul Food so this is a great way to travel the globe at lunch or dinnertime in Portland.

Try the Bulgogoi Beef and the Bee Bim Bap

The Best Dessert Spots in New York City

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Many times friends visiting me will comment that I walk them around the city simply to get from one feasting spot to another, and that their tours of the city tend to consist of 10% tourist attractions and 90% “you HAVE to try this” eateries.

The beauty of this New York City is that no matter what kind of dessert you’re craving– whether it’s wonderfully simple chocolate chip cookies or delicate macarons, or cloud-like green tea mousse cake or dense and rich cheesecake, there are numerous places that totally nail it. Here are a handful of bakeries in the city that definitely deserve to be called the best bakeries in the city:

Levain Bakery

167 West 74th St

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You will need a friend as there is no way one person can finish these monstrous mounds of heaven. While there isn’t a lot of seating, it’s only a couple blocks away from central park, so I would highly recommend grabbing their signature chocolate chip walnut cookie, walking over to the park, and realizing just how darn lucky you are.

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake

17 Cleveland Place

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If you have friends from out of town visiting, this is the perfect place to take them to get a true taste of the city. Nestled on the corner of pretty little Petrosino Square and just out of the bustling SoHo, Eileen’s is the perfect pit stop when cruising around the trendy area. You are welcome to go out of the box and have, say, a coffee or amaretto cheesecake, but my go-to is the classic plain cheesecake, and it has never let me down.

Prohibition Bakery

9 Clinton Street

 

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Talk about innovation, this place will have you rekindling your precipitously dimming love for cupcakes. If you’re into sweet and salty combinations, a new favorite is without a doubt the pretzels & beer cupcake that features the ever-loved nutella and a local beer, what’s not to like? Prohibition Bakery has raised the bar for cupcakes and has best executed pushing the boundaries of cupcake flavors.

Momofuku Milk Bar

251 East 13th St

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Do not get distracted by the desirable items like the crack pie or compost cookie (get those for later). Just ask for the cereal milk soft serve with any topping or no topping (I’ll let you take the wheels on that one). This soft serve is brilliantly refreshing and indulgent at the same time. Ours TS users show nothing but praise for this bakery, saying it’s a “favorite dessert place in the city” and “dangerous if you live nearby.”

 

Food Trends: All About the Chipotle

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In recent years, the chipotle pepper’s star has risen. No longer a background seasoning or one of dozens of elements in a complex mole sauce, restaurants are now putting chipotle in everything from ketchup to macaroni and cheese – you can even find chipotle in featured in cocktails! In this post, we’ll cover all of the bases of everyone’s favorite smoky pepper.

What is it?
The chipotle is not actually a pepper in its own right (so don’t run off to try and buy a chipotle plant for your garden); instead, it’s a smoke-dried jalapeño. The basic flavor profile and heat level come from the jalapeño, while the drying method gives it its signature smoky depth. While you can find dried chipotle peppers at specialty stores and at some exceptionally well-stocked supermarkets, your local grocery store is far more likely to have canned chipotles in adobo sauce. These are re-hydrated chipotle peppers swimming in a thick, tomato-based sauce with spices and aromatics. They make the peppers much more accessible to cook with, since it gets around the problem of re-hydrating the peppers yourself.

Where can I eat it?
Chipotle peppers are popping up everywhere – even Panera Bread has a Chipotle Chicken Panini on their menu. Looking for something more local? Almost any Mexican restaurant will have at least one or two menu items featuring the pepper. Check out the Chicken Tamal appetizer at Maya on the Upper East Side, or Yerba Buena, in the East Village, which puts chipotle in its fish tacos and its guacamole.
If you’re looking for something more out of the box, Maya also has churros served with chipotle caramel sauce on their dessert menu. Soho’s Mercer Kitchen serves their Japanese-inspired salmon appetizer with chipotle mayo, along with crispy sushi rice and ponzu. If you’d rather drink your spice, check out Char No. 4 in Brooklyn, which makes their Bloody Marys with chipotle and bourbon.

Shake Shack’s Secret Menu

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I approach Shake Shack as if my Russian Fencing coach were behind me saying her usual, “Be brave, fight like tiger!” Shake Shack lines are infamously daunting (and infuriating for the less patient patrons), and the menu seems to span every wall in each establishment with constantly changing custards and concretes! You’re faced with an infinite amount of combinations to get your 2-days worth of glorious calories each time you visit. Do you dare veer from your usual rotation of burgers and go for a hot dog (legend says they’re good…)? What about a concrete instead of the usual custard? Live on the edge! Step up to that counter (be brave!) and order these secret menu items:

The Peanut Butter Bacon Burger

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This burger proves that peanut butter goes with pretty much anything on this bountiful Earth. Even if you are not particularly crazy about either ingredient, you will find yourself feeling patriotic after a couple bites of this secret menu item featuring the best of American cuisine.

The Bun-Less Burger

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This would be a big step out of your comfort zone if you’re like me and find that the Shake Shack’s burger to bun ratio falls somewhere between perfect and heavenly. Sources confirm that this is a popular secret item and I’d imagine it could become even more popular with the paleo fab running rampant in this city. The real reason to get the “protein” burger though, is so that you have more room the milkshake AND the custard.

A Shandy

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If you’ve never heard of a Shandy, you may find it strange that I am insisting that you try this part beer, part lemonade beverage. On a hot summer’s day especially, this will take you to refreshing, golden heaven with its sweet and tangy flavors. And since it’s only part beer, feel free to attack your tasty secret menu burger, cheese fries, and custardy dessert as you normally would.

Ice Cream in Portland, Oregon

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Ice cream is a simple pleasure and a craving that can be satisfied even on freezing days. However, the summer is the best excuse for eating ice cream daily, sometimes even twice daily, something I have done more than once… just this week.

Portland, Oregon is an amazing place to fill up on ice cream and discover local flavors through creamy, chef-inspired concoctions. Portland ice cream is more than a local indulgence but it is becoming the stuff of national news. If you make it to Portland this summer, or have access to overnight ice cream shipping, these are the must-try places.

Fifty Licks
2021 SE Clinton St #101, Portland, OR

Ice cream flavors at this Portland gem are creative and ever rotating. The best part is unlike some Portland ice cream spots the line is short and the cones are, surprisingly, gluten-free. Flavors can get crazy (think buttermilk blood orange creamsicle or jasmine rise with fragrant pandan leaf) while also being comforting; chocolate brown butter, anyone?

The best news is Fifty licks also serves their sorbet in the form of cocktails perfect for any balmy Portland night. Be sure to grab one even if you have already had dessert.

Burgerville
3432 SE 25th Ave. Portland, OR
1122 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR
1135 NE MLK Blvd. Portland, OR

blackberry milk shake

Including a local Pacific Northwest fast food chain may seem a little out of place for an ice cream shout-out, but Burgerville has amazing weeks every summer where the famous seasonal blackberry milk shakes make an appearance. Every blackberry lover and ice cream fanatic finds a reason to go to the closest Burgerville and grab one of these limited edition summer necessities.

Salt and Straw
2035 NE Alberta St Portland, OR
3345 SE Division St Portland, OR
838 NW 23rd Ave. Portland, OR

photo 3 Salt and Straw has become a Portland institution. Each location (North West, South East, and North East) has a line that tends to wrap around the block. The flavors, which rotate seasonally, completely justify these lines. Tomato olive oil sherbet was my favorite farmers market inspired flavor but others like blackberry birthday cake were created to highlight oregon berries in another one of the summer menus. The secret to the best experience at Salt and Straw is trying as many flavors as you want, as the smiley scoopers are more than happy to indulge.

Can’t make it to Portland this summer, Salt and Straw delivers; just be ready to pay a premium to get this North West classic delivered right to your stoop.

Ruby Jewel
428 SW 12th Ave Portland, OR
3713 N. Mississippi Ave Portland, OR

Ice cream sandwiches at Ruby Jewel are special. The perfectly structured sandwiches boast a cookie that is as much of a highlight as the ice cream. Flavors are simpler than some of the other Portland hot spots, but they are executed with skill. The oregon strawberry is particularly light and refreshing, and is also the most perfect accompaniment to the chocolate chip cookie. If you are feeling adventurous, pair the honey lavender ice cream with the lemon cookie for a real treat.

 

A Little Bit of Europe in Los Angeles

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Word to the wise: If given the opportunity to backpack through Europe, just go ahead and do it. Don’t think too hard, just pack a few pairs of jorts and a rain poncho and NEVER LOOK BACK. I’m serious about the jorts though. They’re back. (Or maybe never left). And on my recent such adventures, as I was perusing the cities and countrysides, climbing castles and taking socially uncomfortable selfies, I was able to sample some of the best local cuisine in Europe. And it didn’t disappoint. From street carts to food halls and everything in between, I was blown away by the uniqueness of flavor and the pride in which their food was prepared. But what good is food that’s 5,000 miles away? Well, it’s all kinds of good when you live in the steaming hot cultural jacuzzi that is Los Angeles. So don’t fret LA, Europe is right in our backyard. And below I highlight my favorite meal in every country and where in our glorious City of Angels you can find the very best local version.

ENGLAND

Lamb Palak at Needoo Grill in London

When it comes to English cuisine, generally three words come to mind: “Fish and Chips”. And while that dish is being served on every street corner from London to Liverpool, many Americans don’t realize that it pales in comparison to the deep rooted influence Indian food has on the English culture. And I certainly wasn’t complaining. Though Indian food can be found in any pub in the city, the epicenter exists in the Brick Lane district in East London. And a few blocks off of that is the highly-regarded Needoo Grill, serving some of the best Indian food this side of Mumbai. This is real-deal Indian and come thirsty because they are not kidding with the spice. If you don’t drink an entire gallon of water by the end of your meal, I’m concerned for you.

London in LA: Al-Noor

15112 Inglewood Avenue, Lawndale

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Welcome to the best Indian food in Los Angeles. Most well-known for its appearance on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” (garlic naan), this unassuming strip-mall Indian joint in the shadow of LAX has a cult following and I consider myself a part of the tribe. Technically also considered Pakistani cuisine, there is a certain sweetness to all its fare that I haven’t found anywhere else in town. Order pick-up or dine in for a serious no frills dinner. Service isn’t the best and they literally do not care. And neither do I.  Next time you fly into LA don’t worry about In N Out, go STRAIGHT to Al-Noor.

 

SWEDEN

Swedish Meatballs at Tysta Mari in Ostermalms Saluhall in Stockholm

Tucked away in the hip, exclusive neighborhood of Ostermalm in the glistening streets of Stockholm sits the Swedish food market Saluhall. Populated by equal parts tourists and locals, Saluhall is a crash course in traditional Swedish cuisine. Fresh seafood dominates and the smell of pickled herring fills the air, but deep in the far right corner is Tysta Mari, a food stall many consider to be making the best version of Sweden’s staple dish. The star at Tysta is the gravy that provides a sweet, light flavor to the baseball-sized meatballs. I found myself coming up with creative, unacceptable ways to get every last drop of it off my plate.

Stockholm in LA: Olson’s Scandinavian Delicatessan

5660 W. Pico Boulevard, Mid-City

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The fact that this place even exists in Los Angeles is a testament to the true cultural integration that has taken place in Southern California. Established in 1948 but recently re-opened after an extensive renovation, Olson’s is the premiere spot for Scandinavian cuisine in the city. Part deli, part restaurant, part food market, you can find everything from pickled herring sandwiches to traditional Toast Skagen (The Lobster Roll of Scandinavia). But the star of the show here is, of course, the meatballs. Sweet, juicy and not overbearing, these are the best versions of the Swedish dish in the city and it’s not even really close. Sorry Ikea.

 

DENMARK

The Danish Hotdog at DOP in Copenhagen

Ahhhh Denmark, the land of Hans Christian Anderson, bicycle traffic and…hotdogs? Yup. Ask any Dane and they will surely boast that the hotdog did not come from Germany or Coney Island but, in fact, Denmark. And they are quite adamant too. Even going as far as awarding DOP, a simple food cart outside the popular Round Tower, as the best eats in Copenhagen. That’s really saying something for a city that has the #1 restaurant in the world within its border. So what makes a Danish hotdog so different? Well it starts with the meat, which is different than anywhere in the world and ends with the traditional toppings such as crisp onions and remoulade. Sweet, sweet, happy goodness.

Copenhagen in LA: Fab Hotdogs

19417 Victory Boulevard, Reseda

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Since opening only 6 years ago, this tiny spot in the heart of the Valley’s urban sprawl has developed into a bit of a regional phenomenal, rivaling other more famous competition in town. They have even now sprouted a second location in Westwood. Though its most well-known for the bacon-wrapped dogs, I’m including Fab because its a joint dead-set on the celebration of every worldly hotdog variation known to man. Though they don’t have the Danish hotdog permanently on their menu, at any time you could get a hotdog style from Boston to Texas, Mexico to Kansas City. And that’s something definitely worth celebrating.

 

GERMANY

Currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss in Berlin

To say that Berlin is exciting isn’t doing it justice. It thrives, pulses and progresses differently than any other city I’ve ever been to in the world. We all know the history that occurred within its borders and modern day Berliners wear it on their sleeve, soberly acknowledging their past but proudly moving forward. For as many steps that Berlin had taken backwards, it is now so many more ahead – the nightlife, fashion, people, and food. Take note world, Berlin has figured it out. And when it comes to food, there’s not a more trademark dish than currywurst. It’s sweet, but savory, with a kick of spice, and can be found just about anywhere. Underneath an elevated railway in the Weissensee District of Berlin sits Konnopke’s Imbiss, a Berlin staple that has been making the classic dish since 1930. Favorited by locals and tourists alike, this is quintessential Berlin in every way possible.

Berlin in LA: Berlin Currywurst

1620 N. Cahuenga Boulevard, Hollywood & 3827 W. Sunset Boulevard, Silver Lake

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Thank you LA for making that one easy. Started in Silverlake in 2011, Berlin Currywurst has made quite a name for itself, dishing out a remarkably authentic version of the classic German street food. They even have a big, high-profile location on the Cahuenga corridor in Hollywood with its own beer garden! Currywurst still hasn’t caught on in America like some of the other international food trends have, but I suspect that will be changing soon. Its light but fulfilling and easy to eat on the go. Or if you have a minute, the Germans would much rather prefer you take it with a beer.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Pork Schnitzel and Dumplings at Krcma v Satlavske in Cesky Krumlov

Upon entering the glorious fairytale land known as the Czech Republic, I was awestruck at the beauty of not only its countryside and cities but its never-say-die culture. After all, this is a country that found itself directly in the cross-hairs of both World Wars and endured the weight of the Iron Curtain for an entire generation. But the reality is that the Czech Republic is experiencing a renaissance that it hasn’t felt in over a hundred years. The word is out folks. A land that remained dormant for so long, living in the shadows of its more powerful neighbors, is finally enjoying its time in the sun. And they’ve more than earned it. My favorite meal of the ENTIRE trip came at an old medieval jail in Cesky Krumlov, a small town three hours south of Prague, close to the Austrian border. I think Snow White lives there. And I ate exactly what you think I ate. Meat and dumplings and goulash and soup and then more meat. All cooked in front of me on a massive fire pit in the middle of the restaurant. Nobody will tell you Czech Republic has a food culture rivaling the best in Europe. But what it does have is a culture that doesn’t even care. You’ll will eat the best meat you’ll probably ever have and no one will probably believe you. And the Czechs are perfectly fine with that.

Czech Republic in LA (sort of): Robert’s Russian Cuisine

1603 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood

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Yes, this is a Russian restaurant but there is a little bit of overlap in cuisines and Robert’s is one of those quiet cult favorites that has built a humble following in the heart of all the glitz and glamour; striving to bring authentic Eastern European fare to the bellies of SoCal denizens. And it does so brilliantly. I’ll admit, its terribly hard to convince friends to come here, but when they do, its always a slam dunk. People are consistently blown away by the flavors found in a region most Americans have written off as just bread and some meat. The pork schnitzel is TOPS and the chicken kiev (Ukrainian style) is probably the most ordered. So put down the pizza for a night and come to Robert’s for something different and unique, right in the middle of the Hollywood glow.

Dining Out the Healthy Way with Noah Neiman of Barry’s Bootcamp

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Barry’s Bootcamp and Taste Savant started partnering and collaborating earlier this year on a city level. Here we bring you the first joint blog post which we hope readers in all cities and fans of both companies will enjoy.

FROM SHELBY, Taste Savant:

I love eating out and I work for a company that is all about eating out. Ding, ding, ding – a lethal combination! Which means (sigh), many nights out I have to stay on track even in front of some fabulous food. I don’t think I’m alone when I say it’s oh so very, very hard and even when I think I’ve done a decent job the way my clothes fit tell me something different.

So we’re lucky enough to have access to the very best in fitness and health, Barry’s Bootcamp. After two years with Taste Savant, endless meals out and days spent looking at food porn, I decided it’s time to go to the experts on this one. We’ve enlisted one of our favorite Barry’s instructors, Noah Neiman, to tell us how to do it… successfully, over and over again or for me, most of the time. Noah has been with Barry’s since they expanded to New York in 2011. His background is in martial arts so it’s not surprising he’s so disciplined when it comes to socializing over food and drinks, wax on, wax off, right Mr. Neiman?! I can definitely learn a thing or two from him. Without further ado, here are Noah’s tips.

From Noah, Barry’s Bootcamp:

NoahNeiman quoteI have been ordering as healthy as possible at restaurants for years, way before flax and chia seeds became items for artisanal desserts on Top Chef. Here are some tips I’ve gathered from my experience. But before getting into the list, the most important tip is this: make a joke with the waiter/waitress, flirt with them, bring in a hand knitted throw blanket if necessary to butter them up before you modify the hell out of the menu. You’re going to be asking them to substitute even when the menu specifically says “please no substitutions.” Or better yet, the holy grail of eating out healthily, you’ll get them to put in an off-the-menu health bomb of an item for you.

So with the staff buttered up…here are the actual tips.

1. Ask for items to be grilled/boiled/seared in olive oil instead of fried.

2. When ordering salads, be wary of added items in them; candied cranberries and walnuts are not salad items, they are dessert designed to hide the fact that you are eating the same food as a rabbit. Ask for the dressing on the side instead of mixed in. Some dressings contain hundreds, yes hundreds, of extra calories. Try to stick to simple dressings with olive oil and balsamic and flavored with spices.

3. Ask for grilled veggies or salad for the side dishes. Just because onion poppers at TGI Fridays has onions in the name does not make it a suitable veggie dish. Unhealthy sides are a sneaky way to throw in a ton of calories and most people don’t put as much thought into the appetizer selection as they do the entrees. Portions on starters have become massive, making them often times more caloric than the entree itself!

4. Don’t drink your calories. Specialty drinks or mixed drinks pack a gang of calories. If drinking booze, stick to clear liquors with a splash of juice/tonic water in them. If your drink tastes sweet and not like alcohol, chances are there are more than 150-200 calories in each drink.

5. Ask the chef to prepare your entree without additional butter and salt, and with the sauce on the side, as with the salads. A lot of the extra frills on the main dish can add tons of extra calories. When ordering meats, ask for them to be prepared as cleanly as possible with the sauce on the side so you can dip a little bit into each bite, and not have your piece of chicken swimming in a sugary buttery creamy La Brea Tar pits situation.

For some major motivation, eye candy and muscles, follow Noah on Instagram (NoahDNeiman) and Twitter (@NoahDNeiman). Also, don’t miss following some other Barry’s instructors on Taste Savant to read about their favorite places to eat out (links below).

Joey Gonzalez – COO and Trainer in LA and New York
Brian Weller & Dustin Martin – Trainers in Boston
Astrid Maguire – Trainer in LA

Panzanella Salad Recipe

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Panzanella salad is one of those quintessential summer dishes ready to reclaim its spot in the lime light. The first time I had panzanella salad it was dotted with calamari and loaded with crispy bread chunks that helped soak up all the amazing dressing that would have other wise gone to waste. I was immediately hooked, the tart sauce, crispy bread, ripe tomatoes and crunchy radishes made me dream about the dish for months until the fresh tomatoes on my counter finally reminded me of this possible perpetration.

panzanella by Hannah Petertil

In my opinion, the crowing glory of Panzanella (this is certainly not traditional) is that it can use just about any mixture of summer vegetables you have on hand. The key is to cut each vegetable into a different shape (carrot medallions, shaved fennel, halved tomatoes, etc.) to give varying texture and interest to each bite. My dressing is for lemon lovers, but if you are not in the citrus camp, try the traditional dressing and swap out lemon for vinegar (using equal parts olive oil and your favorite vinegar).

 Panzanella Salad – Serves four

2 large lemons

1/4 cup olive oil + more for bread

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1 fennel bulb, shaved

2 carrots, chopped

1 shallot, sliced

1 small zucchini (or a medium sized zucchini with the seeds scooped out) , sliced into thin medallions

6 radishes, quartered

4 large slices of bread, preferably from a high-quality crusty loaf

8 large basil leaves, chiffonade

Shaved parmesan, to taste

Salt, to taste

panzanella ingredients by Hannah Petertil

Make Dressing: Squeeze out the juice of both lemons into a salad bowl, remove seeds, add 3 TBS olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Stir to combine.

Make Salad: Combine all the chopped vegetables in the bowl where you just mixed the dressing.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, pour in enough olive oil to cover the pan and place you bread in the pan, being sure to coat both sides with olive oil. Once the bread becomes golden brown on both sides – watch your bread vigilantly during this stage as it burns quickly. Remove bread from pan, place on cutting board and cut into cubes.

Toss bread cubes into salad bowl, and toss everything together. Top with cheese and basil and serve immediately.

panzanella by Hannah Petertil

Greek Yogurt Strawberry Muffins Recipe

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I took a chance and purchased a strawberry, pine nuts and zucchini muffin at one of my favorite feasting spots in DC a couple of weekends ago. It was a game changer. I was afraid the strawberries would be cloyingly sweet, but they provided an addicting aromatic berriness and were perfectly sweet and the pine nuts added a nuttiness that almost overpowered every bite (but in a good way). This catapulted numerous attempts to bake with strawberries, and my favorite by far has been this Greek yogurt strawberry muffin.

strawberries

How could you resist these gorgeous strawberries?

Ingredients:

2 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I prefer 0% Fage)

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp of ground cinnamon

¼ tsp of nutmeg

1 cup sliced strawberries, lightly crushed

1/4 cuo of pine nuts (optional, but highly recommended!)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, mix mashed bananas, Greek yogurt and melted butter.

Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.

Add the baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg and then add the pine nuts, mix just enough to blend the ingredients; do not over-mix, the lumps will work themselves out.

Add the strawberries to the batter and mix them in to distribute evenly through the batter.

Grease a regular size 12-cup muffin pan with a non-stick spray and pour the batter evenly into each cup, about 3/4 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until a sharp, thin knife or toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

Cool on rack and remove muffins from pan to serve.

Adapted from Julia’s Album recipe

 

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