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.

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RASA’s Indian Bowls Bring the ‘Essence of Enjoyment’ to DC

The rise of the fast casual trend in DC has been very welcome in our household for both our stomachs and our wallets. But there’s a new spot in town that’s about to turn the fast casual scene upside down – in the best way possible.

RASA is a “fine fast casual” restaurant located in our old Navy Yard stomping grounds, serving up a tantalizing selection of customizable Indian flavors. The concept is the brain child of Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman, who grew up in the restaurant industry. Ever since they were young, they’ve wanted to share the meals they grew up loving with people unfamiliar with Indian food and to broaden diners’ understanding of how expansive Indian cuisine really is. Their labor of love has finally come to fruition, and the results are outstanding.

RASA DC

The Space

RASA is a combination of Rahul and Sahil’s names, but is also a Sanskrit word that translates to “essence of enjoyment”. That enjoyment starts the moment you walk up to the gorgeous blue front door, custom-made in India, and swells as you walk into the vibrant, rainbow-hued dining room.

Rasa blue door

good luck symbol

local art at RASAThe colorful artwork was all painted by local artist Nandita Madan. I’ve been to a lot of fast casual restaurants, but never one this beautiful and fun.

RASA decor

RASA decor

RASA swing chairs

The Drinks

While grab and go is certainly an option at RASA, the welcoming space encourages diners to stay a while. And for that, you need a drink. There is a vast selection of teas and juices available, along with fresh young coconuts, beer and wine and – my favorite – a masala gin and tonic.

masala gin and tonic

The Bowls

Of course, the main event is the food and it does not disappoint. Rahul and Sahil have put a lot of thought and effort into creating their menu. In fact, they spent two weeks last Fall traveling across India looking for inspiration. As a result, the menu features both common flavors and ingredients along with those that are less known among Western diners.

The menu is divided into two sections. The “We Got You” section offers signature creations that take the guesswork out of ordering. The “You Got This” section allows you to create your own customized bowl.

Rasa bowlsTom and I dipped into both sections. He ordered the “Tikka Chance On Me” featuring chicken tikka, roasted tomato sauce, basmati rice, sautéed spinach, pickled radish, kachumber, toasted cumin yogurt, mint cilantro chutney and lentil crisps.

Tikka Chance on MeOne of the menu items I was most excited to try was the South Indian rice noodles. Most people (myself included) don’t realize that noodles are a part of Indian cuisine. I used them as the base for my customized bowl and added lamb kebab, peanut sesame sauce, charred eggplant, cucumber cubes, masala beets, mint cilantro chutney, mango coconut yogurt and micro greens.

Rasa You Got This bowlWe both loved our bowls, brimming with fresh veggies and incredible flavors. There are so many culinary discoveries waiting to be made at RASA. I can’t wait to taste my way through the rest of the menu. As is common with build-your-own menus, the options can be a little overwhelming. But I’m definitely up for the challenge.

The Sides + Sweets

The sides and sweets are tempting as well. We tasted the pumpkin soup, which is rich and comforting. The Kulfi pops (Indian ice cream pops) were a big hit, both delicious and fun to eat.

Kulfi pop - Indian ice creamIf you’re looking for a fun, delicious addition to your fast casual repertoire, get yourself to RASA stat. I have a feeling it’s about to become DC’s newest addiction – it’s definitely mine.

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.

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.

Austin Int’l Chefs, Artists Share Favorite Dishes from Abroad

I believe there’s more for local travel enthusiasts to learn about international dishes just by stepping into their backyard than by reading a second-hand account in a book, blog or television program about a country first. That’s why this series of articles will be based on the advice of local business owners whose cultural influences have not simply intrigued- but shaped them, allowing the essence of a culture to become their very livelihood.

It’s because getting travel advice about international food that comes from the heart of someone that shares for a living forms an experience you can trust. It’s bound to feed more than your senses. A peer or friend’s opinion, or even a review on where the best international dishes are in your backyard might be a place to start, but read on in our series for the thoughts of true connoisseurs who’ve been influenced abroad and now share their learnings.

Our hope is that getting to know cultures through food favorites of local businesses will guide you to stumble upon something new that you didn’t know you’d love.

Read on as four Austin business owners share their favorite dishes, including why they enjoy the food, and where they remember it best prepared abroad.

From Colombia: Ajiaco con Pollo

Astrid is a local artist that owns Astrid’s Colombian Jewelry, a handmade shop in Austin featuring beautiful accessories from bracelets to earrings and necklaces made from natural materials like nuts and fruits, like in her native Colombia. Her favorite dish is a soup called Ajiaco con Pollo, from her state of Cundinamarca. Ajiaco is made with chicken, green peas and carrots, and different kinds of potatoes, including yellow or Andes potatoes, whichever can be found locally in Austin.


Ajiaco Con Pollo / Source: Sabores de Mi Tierra Facebook

The soup is made with guascas, a plant from the daisy family used for seasoning, which can be found in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the eastern Colombian Andes Mountains. “Colombia has a [rich] variety of food depending on where you are located… and everything is pretty yummy,” Astrid shared. She’s enjoyed this dish in her home state, and for the travel enthusiast recommends the small Colombian town of Machetá in the state of Cundinamarca because of it’s good food, but also amazing views, friendly people and outstanding landscapes.

From Cuba: Sandwich Cubano

When we asked Iska, the owner of south Austin’s genuine Cuban eatery Cuba512, formerly Guantanamera, what his favorite Cuban dish was, he said it was most definitely the Sandwich Cubano—the quintessential Cuban Sandwich because it’s so simple and delicious. “The ingredients inside a Cuban sandwich are simple: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and every Cuban sandwich needs Cuban bread,” he shared. He also explained that although comparable to French or Italian bread, Cuban bread has a different baking method and ingredient list which makes the difference.


Sandwich Cubano / Source: Cuba512 Facebook

A native of Cuba, he recalled having the best Cuban sandwich in the city of Bayamo. He said that there the sandwich he had was made with pork, lechon in Spanish, roasted with firewood from the local hills. When considered, it’s understandable why the version of the sandwich served at Cuba512—coupled with a thoughtful ambiance and signature drinks like a crisp mojito—the restaurant maintains an esteemed level of authenticity to get you as close to Cuba as you can get in Austin.

From Jordan: Maamoul (also known as Kombe)

Ali, the owner of food truck Austin’s Habibi tucked below a towering skyscraper downtown, turned his childhood passion and family legacy into a local eatery. He serves the type of fresh, healthy and flavorful food that the eastern Mediterranean is known for, from Greece to the Middle East. While he features a number of savory dishes for locals to try, he also recalls his favorite dessert—a small, shortbread cookie called Kombe, in Turkey, but also known as Maa’moul in Jordan, where he had the best version of the treat because of its tasty and plentiful when served.


Maa’moul or Kombe / Source: Cardamom Rose Bakery Facebook

A native of the eastern Mediterranean, he especially enjoys Greece, a reason for the Greek influence in the dishes he serves. When he came to Austin, he decided to open the same type of eateries he grew with abroad while working with his father. Offering a taste of home, he also seems to remind us that no meal is ever complete without dessert. Curious cultural enthusiasts should stay tuned as Austin’s Habibi will be opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant soon.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Book this deal for just $1 and Get $12+ in Exclusive Savings at Austin’s Habibi

From Peru: Lomo Saltado

Miguel owns and runs the downtown Austin food truck Llama’s Peruvian Creole. Although his favorite Peruvian dish varies, he’s a big fan of Lomo Saltado, which his eatery also serves up. The dish is “a beef tenderloin stir-fry over steak fries and garlic rice to soak it all up,” he shared. In the version served at Llama’s, Miguel includes homemade sauces on the side, such as Rocoto, Huancaina, and Anticuchera.

Lomo Saltado / Source: Llama’s Peruvian Creole

“I’ve tried Lomo Saltado all over Perú. Besides finding quality beef perfectly cooked and smoky, the Huacatay sauces I encounter in Perú are uniquely delicious,” he shared. In his book, Perú always wins when it comes to ingredients because there’s nothing like a well-prepared dish served in the coastal South American country. He invites curious cultural enthusiasts to stop by Llama’s on September 4th for a free sample during its first annual Lomo Saltado Day.

Ready to explore more about Colombia, Cuba, Jordan or Peru? Let these few favorites be your guide. In Austin, if you look closely there is a slice of so many countries that you can start to explore locally.

Austin’s Eatery Numero 28 Knows Italian Happiness through Food

Stretching along the western Sicilian coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient salt flats are reminders of Phoenician salt-making practices, explained Bernardo Nolfo, proprietor of Austin’s Numero 28 Pizzeria & Vineria. He was speaking of the distinct 2,700-year-old heritage etched in the history of Trapani, a coastal fishing village and his mother’s hometown. It’s this kind of attention to culture and character that you’ll find mirrored in the authentic Osteria he opened last November in Austin’s Second Street District, an eatery steeped in true, authentic Italian tradition.

Like salt, fresh, simple ingredients have stood the test of time in Italian regions like western Sicily, and in much the same way are attributed to the old world charm and authentic flavors guests find at Numero 28. “At an Osteria, you’ll find genuine, original flavors delivered simply across 15 or 20 dishes, but with same attentive service that you would expect at the finest places offering more,” Nolfo said. “Our approach is to deliver the kind of Italian quality characteristic of eateries in small towns, whether set in Sicily or larger regions like Bari or Florence,” he explained. The warm and pleasant atmosphere of Numero 28 is apparent the moment you walk through it’s inviting front patio and into its doors.

For Nolfo, who was born to a Sicilian mother and southern Italian father, the cuisines of Italy carry their own regional specialties, but the quality of preparation comes down to demeanor not just intention. “When someone cooks with love, with joy, and is attentive to preparation you can taste it in the food,” he explained, remembering his own childhood meals. “When my mother’s food was rushed, I tasted it and I would say, ‘mom, what’s wrong today?’,” he laughed.

Characteristic of Italian culture, when you’ve been invited to someone’s home for pizza it means they’re going to roll out fresh dough, and use fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, which is the same attentive quality guests will find at Numero 28. “To successfully work in hospitality, to serve good food, you have to enjoy delighting your guests,” he explained, “Attention to the quality of your ingredients in making even the simplest things is half of the secret to making people happy.”

From the row of seats found under brightly colored umbrellas in a gorgeous patio, to the complements of Italian décor and Mediterranean music playing inside, it’s no doubt that guests to Numero 28 are treated to attentive, authentic Italian dining that brings smiles—one that the local Italian community in Austin comes often to enjoy, a kind of compliment that doesn’t even speak for the delicious food.

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“It’s the places that you know use fresh ingredients daily, that are known to be essential for good cooking, that’s where you’ll find the locals in Italy and Sicily go and eat,” Bernardo explained. Specializing in regional southern Italian and Sicilian dishes, as well as southern Italian-style pizza, the eatery uses a mix of flours and lets its dough rest for at least 36 hours to create its light consistency—the same delicate recipe used in the panino used for its Italian sandwiches. Even something as simple as espresso is served with care—servers are instructed to deliver only a couple at a time because the crema loses its consistency if it sits out too long.

Beginning his restaurant journey in New York City, Nolfo opened his first restaurant in his mid-20s before selling it, and soon after traveling to open Italian restaurants from Miami and Beirut for the Bice Group, a fine dining group from Milan. Over a decade of travel, his favorite part of it all was creating warm gathering places, an affability that eventually led him to want to open something meaningful on his own.

In November 2014, as both a veteran and connoisseur of fine Italian food culture, he and his business partner opened Numero 28 in Austin—a ‘cousin,’ as he described, of a family-owned establishment born in New York City. After having worked with so many people around the world over the years, Bernardo prefers to refer to the establishment of Numero 28 in Austin as a team effort, a family.

Having recently celebrated the first anniversary of Numero 28 in Austin, he smiles when he says, “Everyone here, from Marco to Rudy, Marchino, and Andres, for example, we’re a big family.” Open 7 days a week, walk in one day for lunch or dinner, and you’ll know it’s all true because happiness is at the heart of this little Italian Osteria that will know its way to yours.

6 Sweet and Savory Dutch Delights Worth Tasting from The Netherlands

By Author and Blogger, Jessica Lipowski

Certain countries around the world are internationally renowned for their cuisine, for instance the French, Chinese, Thai and Spanish. The Dutch however also have their own specialties, which deserve an honorable mention. Potatoes and fish form the foundation of the traditional diet, mainly due to the proximity of the sea and the potato being one of the main crops harvested in the Netherlands. But the country is home to additional delights. Join the culinary tour to learn about a few of the other delectable foods the Dutch have to offer.

Stamppot

Stamppot is a Dutch staple. Typically prepared in the winter months, this classic comfort food is a mashed mixture of potatoes and a vegetable, usually endive, carrots or kale. Warm, savory gravy is ladled on top of the potato mound to provide additional flavor. Sausage is served on the side and often dipped in mustard.

Stamppot dutch food
Stamppot / Jessica Lipowski

Bitterballen

Bitterballen are small, round deep-fried snacks, crispy on the outside and warm and savory on the inside. The thick gravy-like filling is made from bits of meat, bouillon, flour and butter as well as other spices and seasonings. The Dutch snack, usually consumed after work or in the weekends and paired with beer, is dipped in a spicy mustard and accompanied by pickles and pickled onions.

Bitterballen dutch food
Bitterballen / Jessica Lipowski

Herring

Herring is a must. When most people think of this fishy delicacy, they think of pickled herring preserved in a jar. In the Netherlands, though, the fish is served raw, the fleshy pink bringing color to the product. The flavor is strong, yet mouthwatering and fresh. The Dutch have two ways of presenting the herring. In Amsterdam it is common to receive it sliced up in small pieces served with pickles and onions on the side. In Rotterdam, you may be able to eat the fish by its tail, a typical image that comes to mind when herring and the Dutch are used in the same sentence.

herring dutch food
Herring / Lane Blackmer

Pancakes

The Dutch love this dish, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Falling somewhere in between the thickness of fluffy American pancakes and the thin French crepes, the Dutch typically make theirs with bacon, cheese or both baked in, more savory than sweet. The end result should be warm on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside.

pancakes-photo-by-berj-alexanian
Pancakes / Berj Alexanian

Cheese

Probably one of the most famous products the Dutch are known for is cheese. There are numerous varieties – from Gouda, Beemster and Edam to young and old in terms of age – so be sure to try all the options available to see which is your favorite.

Stroopwafels

If you have a sweet tooth, read no further. Stroopwafels will be your version of dessert heaven. A stroopwafel is the combination of two thin wafer-like cookies with a gooey caramel filling on the inside. Originating in the city of Gouda, the treat started out as a poor-man’s cookie. Now it is one of the most highly regarded sweets. If you’re lucky to find a freshly made one, that’s best but you can also buy them in the package, still a very tasty second.

Stroopwafel dutch food
Stroopwafel / Jessical Lipowski

Don’t miss out on other Dutch favorites such as kroket (similar to bitterballen) and speculaas (a type of spiced cookie). As the Dutch say, “Eet smakelijk” or “Enjoy your meal.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Follow Jessica Lipowski on Twitter @JLipowski or her blog. She is also a host of two weekly twitter chats: a cultural travel chat using the hashtag #CultureTrav and another on the road less travelled (#TRLT).

Experience DC’s MOLA: Brunch from the Spanish Coast

Need plans for the weekend? There’s a new brunch in town that you definitely don’t want to miss. Mola is a new restaurant (from the team behind Nido) in Mount Pleasant serving coastal Spanish cuisine in a bright, airy setting. We were invited in to preview their brand new brunch, and the experience was a real treat.

Mola dining room

But First, Cocktails

Mola has a wonderful selection of Spanish brunch cocktails that go far beyond the usual suspects. We tried a classic mimosa with beautiful fresh-squeezed orange juice. The vermouth and soda was my favorite, a light concoction featuring Capitoline Rose (DC-made vermouth), soda and Guindilla peppers.

Mola DC brunch

vermouth & sodaWe also enjoyed the rebujito with sherry, muddled mint and limonata, an Andalusian version of the mojito. This was nice and refreshing with a notable punch from the sherry.

Mola DC cocktail

rebujito

Classic Spanish Tapas

A lot of the time when I go out with friends for brunch, we don’t want to eat big, heavy entrées. Mola’s brunch is perfect for groups who want to snack their way through a weekend afternoon while catching up.

Mola DC brunchAs with any Spanish restaurant, small plates are abundantly available at Mola. We were over the moon sampling our way through several of the offerings, each more vibrant and beautiful than the next. The labneh and chickpea purée with ground spiced lamb were my favorites, but everything was fresh and tasty.

tomato bread with anchovies
Tomato bread with house-cured anchovies
house-cured sardines
House-cured sardines with aioli and piquillo peppers
housemade labneh
Housemade labneh served with flatbread, cucumbers, carrots and olive
chickpeak puree ground spiced lamb
Chickpea purée and ground spiced lamb with Guindilla peppers
olive oil and sherry braised artichokes
Olive oil and sherry braised artichoke with herb, egg and pine nut sauce

Savory Mains from Coastal Spain

Those with heftier appetites have plenty of options as well. I loved all of the fresh veggies featured in the main dishes, many of which are topped with perfectly cooked eggs. You can’t miss the huevos rotos, served paella style in a cast iron pan and the fluffy tortilla Española. Like the snacks, these are all great for sharing.

tuna confit salad
Tuna confit salad with piquillo peppers, potatoes, capers and thyme
tortilla espanola
Tortilla Española -with aioli and pea shoot salad
huevos rotos
Huevos rotos – four eggs over a mix of potatoes, onions, peppers and spinach (serves 2)
huevos rotos with serrano ham
Huevos rotos with added Serrano ham
squash pisto
Squash pisto with two poached eggs and Manchego cheese
patatas bravas
Patatas bravas with chili sauce and aioli

Don’t Forget the Sweets

Finish off your meal with a sweet touch. The torrijas are incredible – cinnamon and orange flavored French toast with orange blossom honey that is sinfully reminiscent of funnel cake (in the best way possible).

torrijasBrunch at Mola offers something for everyone with beautiful, fresh plates of food and tasty cocktails. This is the kind of good best enjoyed with friends and family, sharing a delicious meal and catching up. Consider your weekend plans made.


Kacy Kish, DC Contributor

Kacy Kish writes for Mezze Weekly in Washington, D.C. and with our readers she shares her own international culture experiences through food, drink, while highlighting cultural events and more to check out around the DC area. Kacy also writes for her blog, Bad Sentences where you can follow her own journey through food, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.