New Chef From Tel Aviv Takes Over Kitchen at NYC’s Green Fig

Known for modern Israeli cuisine with influences from the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe, the new year at NYC urban restaurant Green Fig has started with a new menu.

Diners will find inspired dishes from new Chef Yuval Litmanovich who joins the kitchen straight from Tel Aviv, where he worked at some of Israel’s most acclaimed restaurants including Meir Adoni’s Catit, as well as Brasserie. Yuval, whose family roots are Hungarian, also spent time at Barcelona’s Hisop, and San Sebastian’s three Michelin-starred Arzak.

Green Fig Chef Yuval Litmanovich
Chef Yuval Litmanovich | Green Fig

For Green Fig’s new menu, Chef Yuval takes inspiration from the Israeli pantry and Mediterranean cooking. An homage to his favorite place in Tel Aviv, the “Ha’Carmel” Market Kebab is a more refined take on traditional street foods with grilled skewers of lamb and beef kebab over diced grilled vegetables accompanied by hummus and tahini, as well as a refreshing salad of radish, parsley and fennel.

Flavor-exploding Burrata is unusually paired with vibrant beet soup with brown butter semolina dumplings and dusted with cocoa powder.

Green Fig Burrata & Beet Soup 2 by Michael Tulipan
Burrata | Green Fig

For​ a Mediterranean twist on an Italian classic, Mushroom “Risotto” is made with Israeli couscous instead of rice, along with roasted fennel, pastis and Parmigiano Reggiano. Spanish Octopus comes with root vegetable cream and a grape-apple-shallot relish, while Branzino arrives atop a fennel, lemon and burnt eggplant puree with marbled potatoes and labaneh (streained yogurt) from Lebanon.

Perfect for cold-weather comfort are slow cooked Braised Veal Cheek with tricolor carrots, wheat and beef jus and melt-in-your-mouth Pork Belly, over a stew of swiss chard, chickpeas and preserved lemon with a tangy tomato chutney. Vegan King Oyster Steak stars a grilled King Oyster mushroom in porcini stock with freekeh and baby zucchini.

Green Fig Veal Cheek 2 by Michael Tulipan
Veal Cheek | Green Fig

 

A few signatures like The “Not Kosher” BBQ, a traif feast of pork short ribs slathered in house barbecue sauce, za’atar potato wedges and labne; Fried Cauliflower with labane tahini, preserved lemon, almonds and mint aioli, and Mezze are still available.

Green Fig Fried Cauliflower by @RatedRuwan
Fried Cauliflower | Green Fig

Green Fig is located at 570 10th Ave, NYC, 4th FL YOTEL. For more information visit its website, greenfignyc.com.

Advertisements

NYC’s The Black Lodge Channels European Speakeasies at Weekly Burlesque Show

Recalling the gender-bending nightclubs of Paris and Berlin, and the origins of Victorian Burlesque in London, the cozy and chic decor of the speakeasy is the perfect setting for this naughty and sensual entertainment, as voyeurs can sink into the cushy banquettes with their friends or significant others, to gaze at the performers.

Every Thursday in the Speakeasy downstairs from BL Burger Bar a burlesque show is hosted by Dottie Dynamo, a New York City-based burlesque performer and producer, and feature a different cast of five performers. And you can sip delicious cocktails by Miguel Aranda while watching the show. There is no cover for the show but people who are interested in coming can reserve one of the booths by sending an email to the local hot spot. Otherwise, it is standing (at attention) room only.

When burlesque began it was an underground form of adult entertainment, usually taking place late at night in basement clubs and after-hours speakeasies. There has never been a better time to revamp the model, and go back to where burlesque was born, and no better speakeasy to do that at than The Black Lodge, the unassuming cocktail lounge and below-ground speakeasy at 20 Prince Street in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan.

The classic burlesque shows will have a different cast of five performers every Thursday beginning at 10pm. Dottie Dynamo has been tearing up stages since 2011, and is the producer of shows such as Bare Necessitease, Shaken & Stirred and Risque. Dottie has graced stages all over the United States as well as internationally, winning titles such as the Judge’s Choice Award at the 2014 Arizona Burlesque Festival and Most Classic at the 2015 ABurlyQ! Festival.

Black_Lodge_Burger_Bar_12107
Crafty Cocktails at The Black Lodge

While watching, one can lose their inhibitions, by sipping on the handcrafted cocktail creations of mixologist Miguel Aranda, who is one of New York’s most respected barkeeps.

Black_Lodge_Burger_Bar_12154
Get your hands on these cocktails at The Black Lodge

Aranda, formerly of Botanic Lab, has created more than a dozen delicious specialty cocktails ($13).

  • Rosemary Gimlet with rosemary infused gin, lemon balm, agave
  • Prince Smash with Bourbon, citrus/thyme reduction, lime, sugar cane
  • Saffron Old Fashioned with Saffron Bourbon, orange bitters, Angostura Bitters, simple syrup, orange peel
  • London Gang with gin, fresh berries mix, lemon balm, fresh mint, sugar cane
  • Sicario with basil infused tequila, pineapple, agave, lime, basil salt and hibiscus tincture
  • Red Kiss with rum, strawberry, fresh ginger, agave, lime.
  • Frida Rush with tequila, herbs reduction, habanero tincture, cucumber water, lime, agave, and more.
  • Aranda also shakes up a Copper Pineapple For 2 ($25) choice of: rum/scotch/ vodka, pineapple juice, walnut liquor, Orgeat, lime, bitters.

For more information on The Black Lodge Speakeasy, visit its website here.

St Tropez Transports New Yorkers to the South of France at It’s Charming Restaurant

A charming new restaurant and wine bar, St Tropez, transports New Yorkers to the South of France just in time for winter’s arrival. This is a cozy, date-friendly spot just opened in the West Village opened its doors in early December.

French soup in NYC | Soupe au Pistou
Soupe au Pistou | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

A concept dreamt up by four French friends, St Tropez celebrates the wine, food and joie de vivre of the South of France. It was important to the partners to create a charming and convivial spot that was aptly reminiscent of the South of France in that it also had a warm and inviting neighborhood feel.

Open for lunch and dinner, and soon weekend brunch, the welcoming restaurant is centered around an open white-tile kitchen, and features a design by Loubna Pichard is inspired by a Provencal farmhouse with lots of wood (including the floors – and ceiling) and large windows overlooking West 4th Street. Guests will be delighted by the details such as reclaimed wood shelves made of white pine, tables and custom-made chairs made with reclaimed oak, plus a communal table for 12. The restaurants also boasts a concrete topped bar with seating  for 16 on both sides of the counter.

Interior of the West Village’s St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

Chef and Partner Gérald Barthélémy, who earned a Michelin Star as the chef at Les Élysées restaurant in Hotel Vernet in Paris and most recently helmed the kitchen at Taverne Gaspar in Montreal, offers an affordable menu that highlights Provençal specialties including a selection of starters, salads, main plates, tartares, and accompaniments, as well as cheese and charcuterie among other specialties.

Browsing the array on the menu, diners will find dishes such as Farcis Niçois (tomatoes stuffed with ground beef), Forestière Fougasse (mushroom flatbread), Boulettes Provençales (beef meatballs with ratatouille), Loup de Mer en Tapenade with black olives, sundried tomatoes, zucchini and dill, Daube Provençale (beef in red wine sauce) and more, plus wine bar standbys like platters of cheese, charcuterie and oysters. Nothing on the menu is over $17.

French food in NYC | Mushroom Risotto
Mushroom Risotto | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar
French food in NYC | Nicoise Salad
Nicoise Salad | St Tropez Restaurant & Bar
Loup de Mer Branzino | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

A native of the coastal Saint-Tropez region, the restaurant’s General Manager and Partner Yohann Pecheux, who has worked at Aria Wine Bar in the West Village, brings to St Tropez a curated all-French wine list with 45 selections by the glass – like the menu, the focus is on wines from the South of France (esp. the area around Saint-Tropez), as well as organic and biodynamic selections, which start at just $9 and are also available by half bottle.

The menu also features several decadent desserts, including the Tropézienne tart, which interestingly enough was created in Saint-Tropez and became famous when the film crew making And God Created Woman starring Brigitte Bardot filmed in town. A young Polish baker created it in the 1950s, filling brioche with a mixture of pastry creams. A fun little bit of trivia: Bardot is said to have fallen in love with the pastry and named it too.

French cuisine in NYC
Tropezienne | St Tropez Restaurant & Wine Bar

St Tropez is now open at 304 W. 4th Street, NYC (between Bank and W. 12th). Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 12pm – 12am; Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 1am (lunch and dinner daily). For more information visit: sttropezwinebar.com or call 917-388-3893.

Houston’s Angelucho CopaCabana: A Commanding Voices on the Tropical Music Scene

If you love Cuban culture and are lucky enough to live in Houston and don’t already know the area’s long-time Cuban singer Angel “Angelucho” Bermúdez, now is your opportunity. He has long been dubbed among locals, Houston’s most elegant Salsa artist, boasting one of the most commanding voices on the tropical music scene: a graceful baritone that handles slow Boleros with romanticism and lively Salsas with verve.

His vibrant interpretations of the hot modern Latin rhythms with resonating brass and piano runs hearkens back to the golden age of Cuban music of the 1950s as well as the brassy and modern sounds of the New York Salsa and Cuban-influences Miami-sound rhythms. Angelucho’s excellent timing, unique inspirations, and his overall Latin soul have made him a favorite in Houston and other parts of the nation for many years.

Cuban music lovers will delight in sample tracks like “Realidad Y Fantasia” from the CD “Soy Latino” and his compilation on SoundCloud, or check out his new recording under the guidance of producer/composer Rainel Pino features such great artists as the one and only Papo Lucca of “Sonora Ponceña” fame on piano, René Lorente on flute, and Kachiro Thompson on congas. He is also accompanied by Douglas Guevara on timbal, Jorge “Cro Cro” Orta on congas, and Ernesto Camilo Vega on saxophone.

The musical production is entitled “Soy Latino” and contains ten songs that range from Montuno, Bolero, Cha Cha Cha, Charangón to today’s popular Salsa. As always, Angelucho’s voice is endearing and the arrangements are modern and swinging, making his new Compact Disc a must for serious “Salsero”.

Get to know more about Angelucho’s CopaCabana. For more information, visit his website at angeluchocopabana.com or call 281-799-1922 for bookings.

6 Great Paris Hotels Near the Eiffel Tower Under $160 Night

If you’re planning a trip to Paris, France soon or it’s on your travel bucket list, here are six hand-picked hotels near the Eiffel Tower where you can catch a glimpse of it’s light show every night.

Mercure Paris Tour Eiffel Grenelle

$140 / Night: A stay at Mercure Paris Tour Eiffel Grenelle places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include complimentary newspapers in the lobby, dry cleaning/laundry services, and a 24-hour front desk. Planning an event in Paris? This hotel has facilities measuring 161 square feet (15 square meters), including meeting rooms. Self parking (subject to charges) is available onsite. Get more info on this hotel»

Plaza Tour Eiffel Hotel

$156 / Night: A stay at Plaza Tour Eiffel Hotel places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Palais de Chaillot and close to Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a computer station, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Get more info on this hotel»

Beaugrenelle Tour Eiffel

$86 / Night: With a stay at Beaugrenelle Tour Eiffel in Paris (15th Arrondissement), you’ll be minutes from Statue of Liberty – Paris and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a 24-hour front desk, multilingual staff, and luggage storage. Get more info on this hotel»

Hotel du Cadran

$140 / Night: With a stay at Hotel du Cadran (Ex Valadon Colors) in Paris (7th Arrondissement), you’ll be minutes from Army Museum and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include dry cleaning/laundry services, a 24-hour front desk, and luggage storage. A shuttle from the hotel to the airport is provided for a surcharge (available 24 hours). Get more info on this hotel»

Hôtel Gavarni

$92 / Night: A stay at Hotel Gavarni places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Palais de Chaillot and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a business center, limo/town car service, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. Get more info on this hotel»

 

Eiffel Rive Gauche

$81 / Night: A stay at Eiffel Rive Gauche places you in the heart of Paris, minutes from Champ de Mars and Eiffel Tower. Featured amenities include a business center, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and a 24-hour front desk. A roundtrip airport shuttle is provided for a surcharge (available 24 hours). Get more info on this hotel»

 

 

Greenwich Village’s Rahi Delights Guests with India’s Unfamiliar Regional Dishes

If you find yourself perusing the streets of NYC’s quaint Greenwich Village and the aroma of Indian spices hits you, then you might be close to discovering Rahi—step inside this artisanal Indian restaurant for a local taste of lesser-known, quintessential regional dishes from across India.

Led by Executive Chef Chintan Pandya, the eatery features local New York produce in its recipes which pay homage to cuisine that is reminiscent of his childhood growing up in India. At Rahi, guests can experience the tastes of the country in an authentic yet modern setting.

Stop inside this upscale spot sometime soon to experience one of three new winter dishes, including the savory, flakey Achari Paneer Tart featured above. This is a twist on a favorite Indian tea time snack filled with paneer and topped with squash drizzled with a berry compote.

Rahi_NYC Indian Food_Kashmiri Lamb Ribs

Kashmiri Lamb Ribs, above, are braised in milk that is seasoned with spices native to Kashmir, including cumin, bay leaves, black cardamom, and fennel seeds along with red chili powder and turmeric. Chef then thickens the broth with yogurt, known as “yakhni curry”, native to Pakistan, and adds Sichuan peppercorns for their unique flavor profile of heat and menthol, and serves the lamb in the gravy topped with crispy potato strips.

Rahi Indian Restaurant in NYC - Nargisi Kofta Dhoki

The Nargisi Kofta Dhokli is another new dish on the winter menu, made with a delightful egg yolk and ricotta ravioli served over chicken keema and topped with garam masala spices.

Rahi is located at 60 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10011.

Lil’ Gem Brings Whimsical but Authentic Lebanese Fare to NYC’s Lower East Side

Not only will you find family-style Lebanese cuisine served at lil’ gem, but also a love and respect for family and heritage carried on through Chef Melissa O’Donnell and restaurateur Lesly Bernard. While O’Donnell does not sound Lebanese in the least, Chef Melissa celebrates her Lebanese culture by way of her grandmother and Bernard through his daughters, who are half-Lebanese.

Through the restaurant, they each share their passion for Lebanese foods. Diners will find the energy and passion of Lebanese dining brought to life at lil’ gem, their new restaurant at 29 Clinton Street (at Stanton Street). Using the term “Lebanese- ‘ish”, coined by Bernard, Chef Melissa interprets recipes and dishes served at the restaurant her way while maintaining respectfully authentic but whimsical dishes.

Diners at lil’ gem will find Chef Melissa’s modern menu includes small, sharable and large family-style plates, plus a selection of dips, flatbreads and shawarma, a popular street food in Lebanon typically consisting of grilled meat sliced off a vertical spit. Unique to lil’ gem, a house specialty features a deep-fried shawarma using diner’s choice of rib eye, root vegetable, lamb or chicken, served with miso fermented hummus. An icon of the restaurant’s open kitchen even includes an authentic Saj oven, from which guests are treated to a crispy, doughy herb-clustered Za’atar Manakeesh in addition to several flatbreads.

With toppings ranging from ricotta cheese with mission fig jam, to pickled plums and wild arugula, and lamb koftas with truffled sun- choke and mint, diners at lil Gem are treated to a wide variety of flatbread options. The restaurant even serves rotisserie ducks, in half or whole portions, which are cured overnight, then smoked after being rubbed with a unique marinade of quintessential Lebanese combination of honey, coffee and cardamon. The rotisserie also features half or whole chicken spiced with the common aroma of smoked paprika, turmeric and preserved lemon which one would find in Lebanon.

No Middle Eastern restaurant is complete without an array of dips. That’s where Chef Melissa’s playful palette of ingredients take center stage when presenting traditional small plates diners would find in Lebanon, for example, homemade Labne (strained yogurt dip), as well as smoked eggplant Babaganouj spun in the whimsy of fall black garlic puree, beet tartare and tahini whip. Other fanciful traditional dips include Miso Fermented Hummus as well as a dip called Muhammara (made with red pepper, walnuts, and a kick of Aleppo pepper).

Additionally, Lebanese cuisine’s liberal use of vegetables makes lil’ gem a natural destination for vegans and gluten-sensitive diners. Carrying through other unique ingredients into traditional dishes, Chef Melissa offers raw Falafel with shaved carrot slaw, cumin, lemon and tahini sauce and sweet potato-quinoa Kibbeh filled with toasted almonds, goat cheese and chives.

Chef Melissa and Mr. Bernard are both natural born hosts, and the gathering of groups is a pinnacle aspect of Lebanese dining. lil’ gem brings that excitement to Manhattan’s lower east side neighborhood, which is rich with immigrant culture, where artistic endeavors are explored, and where family and friends gather to share food, ideas and hopes for their future.

For more information visit lilgemnyc.com, call 646-368-1392 or stop in to the restaurant at 29A Clinton Street, NYC. 

Here’s How MezzeCulture is Changing the Travel Experience through Local Pop ups in NYC, Austin and DC

If you really love travel and culture, I’ve got a message for you this holiday season that I hope you will share with others.

It wasn’t because there was any particular pride in a culture that was behind our start. But, rather, the opposite.

We started in 2015 to give folks a platform to cultivate a sense of understanding, empathy, and love by experiencing them all—led by our local partners and HUNDREDS of member travel enthusiasts in Austin, NYC, DC and growing.

(If you haven’t already subscribed your email to get our event invites, you can here: www.mezzeculture.co/subscribe)

As we start the holiday season, in a time when our immigrants and their cultures have been alienated when they should be embraced for the perspective they have brought for over two hundred years, this message of LOVE is important.

Because in actuality, culture is a beautiful illusion.

Why? Because it is something that we perceive with our senses so that it’s only a reflection of people and places.

The smell and taste of food.

The sights of travel.

The sound of music.

Think about it. It’s all just a reflection of the person or people who created it and the place that adopted it.

There are nearly 200 nations but over 6,000 organized cultures worldwide. In the U.S., we are fortunate to get a “taste” for nearly all of them, I’m willing to bet.

How often do we really get to know the person or place intimately—in a way that’s beyond our own perception of it? I mean, how often do we perceive with our mind and heart what culture is trying to tell us about people and places through these reflections of food, drink, music and more.

When we read a book, a blog or watch a show about a country, its great, but we still absorb and translate it OUR way because it’s handed down through a secondary resource, whether that be a blogger or a friend.

But what if we learned from the source? From someone who is a first hand expert in the culture.

That’s why we see international restaurant owners, boutique curators, musicians, and other artisans in our backyards and their craft as the ultimate resource at MezzeCulture—immigrants and representatives of the world at our fingertips.

We are a community of travel enthusiasts who come together at our pop up events hosted by these local partners who share a unique cultural narrative through their craft—to encourage those half of Americans without passports to travel and those who have to do more of it.

If you choose to subscribe, I thank YOU from my heart for being a part of US.

If you identify with our message this holiday season, please do share us with your friends in Austin, Washington DC, New York, and even Miami, Houston, and San Francisco where we will grow soon.

And please don’t forget to subscribe your email for invites to our exclusive events and check out our upcoming list.

www.mezzeculture.co/subscribe

With love,

Fatin

Founder, MezzeCulture

MezzeCulture is the sister event company of Mezze Weekly Magazine.

Why Starbucks to Go is Illogical: Thoughts of a Seated Observer

Look at this parking lot in front of a Starbucks—empty. Evidence of about a half dozen cars that have come and gone in the last 20 minutes after stopping to “grab some Starbucks”. This makes me think… and want to share some thoughts to simmer on. I love to walk into Starbucks and grab a tall Pike or Veranda blend and sit for a moment. During one of those moments, I contemplated why some people stop at a cafe—Starbucks or otherwise—grab a drink and go. Sure, they may be in a hurry, or need their daily caffeine fix.

If people are in that much in a hurry, then why not stop at a gas station or through a fast food drive-thru to “grab” a coffee or beverage? Whether it’s for an espresso, cafe au lait, or cafe Cubano, or a drip—stop and savor it.

Why bother to stop at a cafe, get out of your car, wait in line and then leave again? Is it the taste these people crave? the quality? the status of a brand like Starbucks or other inter/national chain? If you grab-and-go no one is going to see it anyway. Furthermore, by rushing off, you’re not going to fully enjoy your beverage. Imagine this: you will probably sit in traffic, rush through a store or forget your drink in the car to melt away… so why not save some money and even some time by by-passing cafes all together?

espresso-at-cafe
My husband and I lingering over an espresso and people watching in Paris for the better part of an hour (of course, we enjoyed it while it was still warm).

Traditional cafes are for sitting. Have people simply forgotten that Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and other American coffee establishments fall into this category? That’s part of the reason they, and all other cafes, are pricier than the average gas station or drive-thru offerings. People are not paying extra for convenience either (what’s convenient about waiting in line?), they’re paying for the atmosphere, but are not using it like it’s intended to be enjoyed (unless they’re camped out inside to work).

5 more people have come and gone since I started this note. In all of the other countries that I can think of that I have visited, the cafe is a beautiful place were people get their coffee or beverage, sit down and then take in or establish some quality of life: A chat with a friend perhaps, a cigarette, or just to watch the day in motion.

I know that here in America, our popular culture is oftentimes a fast-paced- want-it-now-not-in-five-minutes kind of society, but there is so much more to be enjoyed when you stop and smell the coffee sometimes.

The Bold Character Behind 4 European Coffees from Ireland, Spain and Italy

From France to San Francisco, you’ll find coffee enthusiasts enjoying numerous varieties of coffee beans prepared in every way imaginable, but in Paris, for example, you may find patrons sipping their coffee just a bit slower than their American counterparts. Sure, in a quality-conscious society the traits of the bean and its extraction are important to us, but let’s not forget the character behind coffee consumption.

When taking in these 4 European coffees at coffee shops across America, don’t rush. Consider the character of the European social experience, which includes an expertly prepared coffee that’s typically enjoyed while lingering at a cafe and taking in a bit of quality life.

Café con Leche / Origin, Spain

This coffee treat, meaning “coffee with milk” in Spanish, is a popular breakfast stable in communities around the world, such as the Philippines, but most common in Spain and Latin American countries, such as Cuba. Cafe con leche is traditionally made with strong or bold coffee, usually espresso beans, that is then mixed with scalded milk.

Lattes / Origin, Italy

A latte, the shortened form of the Italian caffè latte, consists of espresso and steamed milk. The method of producing latte art is created by expertly pouring the steamed milk’s foam into the shot of espresso to produce a design on the surface of the latte. It’s a difficult art that depends on the quality of the espresso machine, the temperature of steamed milk and the experience of the barista.

mezzeculture-large-latte-cappuccino

Irish Coffee / Origin, Ireland

This coffee treat, meaning “caife Gaelach” in Irish, is served hot and is made with either espresso or brewed coffee poured over with whiskey, sugar and (not whipped) cream floated on top. Usually enjoyed in the evening, it’s become popular in communities around the world, such as Spain (where the whiskey, coffee and cream are poured in layers), Irish coffee as it’s known today was invented by an Irish chef in the 1940s.

jksdjsk

Espresso / Origin, Italy

This coffee treat is a popular stable in communities around the world, and originated in Italy, where it’s consumption. Espresso is both a brewing method and a beverage, and although any bean or roast level can be used in it’s preparation, it’s extraction requires specialized skill and equipment. Served as either a single (solo) or double shot (dopio), espresso is enjoyed prepared across a variety of the world’s most popular espresso beans today.

espresso-mezzeculture