Show Your Shades, Score Some Tickets

We've all heard of The Shirelles (Twist and Shout, Sixteen Candles, It's My Party...hello?!?). But have you ever heard of the woman who made them stars?

Baby It's You, a new Broadway musical, tells the story of Florence Greenberg, a suburban housewife from New Jersey, and how she came to change the face of music, discovering the original girl group and creating an influential record label. It stars Tony-award winning actress Beth Leavel as Greenberg and promises to pop with familiar toe-tapping tunes. I'm sure the costumes will be spectacular as well.

Now in previews, Baby It's You opens April 27th, but the show is holding a clever ticket giveaway contest on Facebook. All you have to do is post a picture of yourself in your favorite shades (the more retro the better) for a chance to win tickets. All you awesome readers should enter and tell your friends!

I also noticed that if you sign up for the newsletter on the show's homepage, you will also be entered to win tickets. So why not double your chances? Best of luck! I hope one of my readers wins!

Not Your Average Roach Coach

'Tis the week for free food in Manhattan, especially from trucks. 

On Monday, I caught up with the Air France Taste the Journey truck for a sampling of their new menu designed by acclaimed chef Joel Robuchon. It was fairly cold out and none of my coworkers wanted to join me fearing a huge line, so I ventured out by myself and was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the line short but by the time I finished filling out a form to enter to win a trip to Paris, I was at the front.

I was lucky enough to drop by for lunch on their last day of service, and was surprised by how pretty a plateful of food from a food truck could look! On the menu was Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Brochette, Grilled Beef Filet with Wine Truffle Sauce, Potatoes au Grain and a Carrot Cake Petit Fours.

I tried dropping by for dinner service, which included Smoked Salmon and Shrimp Rondelle, French Shepard's Pie with Duck Confit and French Macarons, but they were out by the time I got to the truck. Our friends over at I8NYC made it though, and has awesome pictures to show for it. This truck promotion is done for now, but several more are making their way through the city this week.

Though I missed the Air France truck for dinner, I wanted to make sure that I got to the Game of Thrones truck in Union Square - a promotion for the new HBO show featuring "medieval food" cooked up by star-chef Tom Colicchio. Duped again. The line was more than halfway down the block by the time I got there and they hadn't even begun serving yet. There's a lot of things I would do for free food, but waiting in the cold for an infinite amount of time isn't one of them. 

However, I saw that The NYC Menu Girl was successful with this truck and hopefully you can be too! Follow them on Twitter @GameofThrones and they will tweet their location every day this week. Today they will be near Lincoln Center at 6 p.m. and tomorrow who knows where they will end up.

Courtesy of Living Free NYC, I saw that the History Channel show Swamp People is also sending a promotional food truck around Manhattan, through tomorrow. The menu sounds, um, interesting, (swamp rabbit anyone?), but if you're open minded and want free food, track them down and then report back. Tomorrow they will be in Union Square at noon and 14th and 9th at 5 p.m. Happy hunting!

Just in: HBO will have another truck roaming the streets tomorrow serving up New Orleans-style food to showcase the show Treme. Grub Street has the deets.

So Much to Choose at Choice Eats

Well, it's been almost 24 hours since I left Choice Eats and I'm still full. I thought I'd found gluttony at its finest, but I must correct myself. With more than 65 food vendors amongst several more beverage purveyors, this event, held last night at gigantic The 69th Armory in Gramercy, was one hell of an awesome hodge-podge, mish-mash, stuff-your-face-athon.

The Village Voice has been putting on this tasting for four years now, and though this was my first time attending, I will definitely be looking forward to it every year I'm still in NYC. I arrived at the Armory about 5:50 to discover a general admission line already wrapped around the building. The organizers were thoughtful enough to invite several food trucks to feed the masses waiting patiently to get in, including Waffles and Dinges, Taim Falafel (which I still have yet to try!), Kimchi Taco and Korilla BBQ.


Thankfully I didn't have to wait in that line as the press entrance was with the VIPs (oooh la la). I met up with my friends Laura and Caryn of 89th and Broke, and we scoped out the downstairs VIP room before the official event began. Unfortunately, several of the food vendors had already run out, but we did try some meat from Jimmy's No. 43, amazing shrimp tacos from Mercadito and fresh bread and mozzarella from SCRATCHbread. Red Hook Lobster Pound was serving lobster rolls to the VIPs, but we just missed the last batch. They were our first stop in the main event upstairs, but they were only serving shrimp rolls at that point. Still totally delicious, and the woman in charge was very excited to announce a new NYC food truck that will be making stops in FiDi (yay!) - follow @redhooklobster for updates.

Shrimp roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound
Our next stop was Luke's Lobster since we figured the line would get insane, but again, only shrimp rolls. I passed on that one since there were so many other options. I decided to be adventurous and try the mac 'n cheese hot dog from Ditch Plains. Not my favorite, but mainly because it was cold and last I checked, both a hot dog and mac 'n cheese should be eaten hot. Their display was awesome though, complete with salt water taffy that people were grabbing by the handful.

Ditch Plains' Mac 'n Cheese Hot Dogs
Our next stop was at a gem from my UES neigborhood, Cascabel Taqueria. Not only did I love their display, complete with Mexican wrestling figurines, but their food was delicious. Tacos on warm tortillas with real guacamole and authentic churros! A flash back to my childhood in Southern California, for sure.

Churros from Cascabel Taqueria
Taco from Cascabel Taqueria
Sliders were everywhere you looked at Choice Eats, but a few stood out from the rest. The Sunburnt Calf made my night because served with their Pulled Lamb Sliders with Minted Yogurt was a tequila, strawberry and passion fruit shot. Yum! Black Shack Burger had a great beer-braised beef in sloppy joe sauce that we all agreed was tasty, and though not really a slider, This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef served up some of their famous roast beef and cheese whiz sandwiches. The latter promised hot pastrami, but when it was ready an hour later, I was stuffed to capacity and the line was crazy long. Mooncake Foods was also showcasing sliders with their pulled pork sandwich with cabbage slaw and a lime and curry BBQ sauce that really made this sandwich pop.

Pulled Lamb Slider with Minted Yogurt and Tequila,
Strawberry and Passion Fruit shot from The Sunburnt Calf
Beer-Braised Beef in a Sloppy Joe Sauce from Black Shack Burger
A slightly mushed Roast Beef and Cheese Whiz
 sandwich from This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef
The Latin contingent was highly represented. In addition to Cascabel that I mentioned earlier, Mexico Lindo was dishing out homemade tamales and Caracas Arepa Bar blew my mind with mini versions of their awesome arepas. I tried the one with Guyanes Cheese and Plantains. Patacon Pisao threw a one-two food punch by delivering two of my favorite dishes of the night - a Venezuelan arepa with creamy cheese filling surrounded by fluffy cornbread and a gooey tres leches cake. This may have been the only stop I went back to for seconds.

Tamale from Mexico Lindo
Cheese Arepa from Patacon Pisao
Tres Leches Cake from Patacon Pisao
With still so much left to discover, yet with stomach gurgles far from gone, we ventured through several more cultural eats, off the wall bites and just good cookin'! Motorino was scooping out light and airy Neopolitan Meatballs in a savory tomato sauce with Pecorino Romano cheese. Dirt Candy, a vegetarian joint with some awesome humor (and a display complete with those giant lollipops you used to make your parents buy at Disneyland), perhaps had one of the most innovative dishes of the night - smoked cauliflower with buttermilk waffles and wild arugula. The Fat Radish, another vegetarian-friendly stop, also served another innovative dish that I truly enjoyed - root vegetable stacks with date puree and vegetable crisps. Wish I got a photo of that one! It looked like an orange brownie. One of my  favorite West Village wine bars, Gottino, was represented by servers in bow ties spreading Pesto Di Noci and breaking off hearty chunks of parmegiano reggiano.

Neopolitan Meatball from Motorino
Smoked Cauliflower with a Buttermilk Waffle and Wild Arugula from Dirt Candy
Pesto Di Noci and Parmesano Reggiano from Gottino
Mama's Food Shop, a must-try when you are in the East Village, was serving their Three Cheese Mac and Cheese - super rich and creamy. Speaking of rich and creamy, I was happy to find that Fay Da bakery was ladling out bubble tea in addition to their sweets and baked goods. The sweet tea was calming to have with some of the spicier dishes. Another East Village favorite, Porchetta, was serving delicious porchetta (what else?) on crusty bread. The General Tso's Broccoli Salad Sandwich from No. 7 Sub Shop was difficult to eat, but the broccoli was flavorful and refreshing after all that meat. Something that surprised me was the simple hot dog from Bark Hot Dogs. Laura and Caryn were commenting how it seems that so many hot dog places try to cover up the meat with so much gloppity-glop, but in truth, all you need is a good dog. Bark had that and it was scrumptious. I was also pleased with the simplicity of the cold noodles from Spicy Bampa, the spiced lamb sausage from Northern Spy Food Co. and the Rueben meatballs from The Meatball Shop - all wonderful dishes. What took the cake though, literally, was the Napoleon Cake from Cafe Glechik, a Ukranian-fusion restaurant in Brooklyn. Oh. My. Goodness. That cake was to die for! It even came with some cherry dumplings which complemented the creamy cake super well.

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese from Mama's Food Shop
General Tso's Broccoli Salad Sandwich from No. 7 Sub Shop
Hot Dog from Bark Hot Dogs
Napoleon Cake with Cherry Dumplings from Cafe Glechik

At this point awesome readers, I'm not so sure how I was still standing. My friend Jen finally made it through the admission line around 7:20, so we walked around finding bites for her while I sipped my water bottle and began the digesting process. We picked up goodie bags courtesy of Whole Foods and even witnessed a toilet explosion and subsequent flooding of the women's restroom (right as I was first in line mind you), so that made for an exciting end to the night. On our way out, I was too full to participate in Choice Sweets, a last sweep of dessert tables featuring mini cupcakes, ice cream and slushes, but Jen eyed a bacon cupcake and said it was delicious. Until next year Choice Eats (just remind me to pack my fat pants)!

Mercadito Avenue B on Urbanspoon

The Red Hook Lobster Pound on Urbanspoon

Cascabel Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Sunburnt Calf on Urbanspoon

Black Shack Burger on Urbanspoon

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef on Urbanspoon

Mexico Lindo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Patacon Pisao Truck on Urbanspoon

Dirt Candy on Urbanspoon

Bark Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Cafe Glechik on Urbanspoon


AWESOME GIVEAWAY: $20 to Allmenus.com

Hello awesome readers! Sorry I took a bit of a hiatus these past few weeks, but I'm back, and with a bang.

You've heard me go on and on about Signpost (formerly known as Postabon) and all the great stuff I won from them over the course of the last year (exhibit aexhibit b, and exhibit c, not to mention my iPad). Well not only has Signpost grown into a lovely website and community for deal sharers, it now offers some of its own merchant deals including $60 for $120 Worth of Clothing at Heartbeat Style (Hoboken) and $15 for 2 Comedy Show Tickets + Half-Off Drink Minimum. You can still earn Karma Points by posting deals you see around town and by interacting with other users, but you can then go and spend those points like money on Signpost's merchant deals. The company also hosts monthly happy hours, often with free drinks (the next one is Wed. 4/6 at SideBar with a one hour open bar). So really it's a win, win, win, win, win.

One of Signpost's current merchant deals is $10 for $20 to spend at Allmenus.com, an online food delivery website serving NYC. I bought the voucher and tried out the service, and I was very pleased with the user-friendly website and assortment of restaurants available to choose from. Plus what's better than half off Pad Thai or Pepperoni Pizza delivered fresh to your door?

Well, how about a free voucher?

That's right, I'm giving away one $20 voucher to Allmenus.com courtesty of the awesome folks at Signpost. There are 4 easy ways to win and each comment counts as an entry. So to maximize your entries you should leave multiple comments. Please include your email in any comments so I know how to contact you if you are the winner.

1) REQUIRED - Follow this blog by clicking on the button on the right panel and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

2) REQUIRED - Sign up for Signpost and leave a comment with your username. If you are already a member, that's ok. Just leave a comment with your username telling me so.

3) Follow me on Twitter @yaelleah and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

4) Tweet or blog about this contest an let me know you did so with a link to your tweet or blog in a comment below.

One winner will be chosen using Random.org on Friday 3/25. You have until Friday 3/25 at 2 p.m. EST to enter the contest. Good luck!

A winner has been chosen! Congratulations to Christine! She was the 13th commenter and wins $20 to AllMenus.com! Enjoy Christine! And thanks to all who entered. Have a great weekend!


Still Haven't Signed Up For Tenka?

With all of the daily deals sites out there, even I get exasperated. One of the newest, Tenka, from what I've seen, only really gives away free stuff, and you can never get too much of that. I was able to get a sandwich from Tina's Cuban, two warm and gooey cookies from Insomnia Cookies, a burrito from Toloache Taqueria and a latte from Bean and Bean all FREE! They've also created a nice little animated video to explain it even further.



Heading into the Nutripolitan Museum of Art, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, it's NYC, a city full of unique ideas, and I knew that this one was going to be awesome. My friend Jen came along for the festivities and as soon as we walked in, we were asked to "donate" a jar of peanut butter to the Food Bank just by putting a sticker with our name on it on the wall. Easiest thing I've ever donated!

Jen and I with the wall of stickers behind us

The invitation-only launch party was sponsored by a whole host of companies, but mainly put on by the fantastic folks over at Peanut Butter & Co. to celebrate National Peanut Month. The idea behind the gallery was basically, let's style peanut butter with a whole host of foods that may or may not go with it, photograph these creations and then display larger than life-size food porn posterboards.

Some of the food porn displayed in the gallery
Jen's favorite was titled "Pizzelle Perfect"
The crowd with a rotating peanut butter art slideshow above the bar

The space in Openhouse Gallery was packed to the brim with peanut butter lovers. I'm pretty sure they had more attendees than planned as the bar line stretched almost to the exit, but the creative peanut butter themed libations were well worth the wait. I sampled the PB&J Hooray which had Purple 3 Olives Vodka and egg whites shaken over ice with peanut butter whipped cream topping. It was quite the different sort of drink, but I liked the playfulness between the grape flavored vodka and the peanut butter on top. Jen tried the Peanut Butter Java Whiplash which had 3 Olives Vanilla, Chocolate and Espresso Vodka shaken with milk and topped with peanut butter whipped cream and chopped peanuts and graham crackers.

Peanut Butter Java Whiplash (L) and PB&J Hooray (R)

At a peanut butter party, one would expect peanut butter, but not quite in the myriad of combinations that were served by waiters who could barely pass their trays out the door before having to return to the kitchen for refills. The first thing I tried was the Peanut Slaw prepared by Chef Suvir Saran of Devi. It was rather spicy, but refreshing. Other savory favorites included the Peanut Potage by Chef Ben Leezal of Buerre d'Arachede et Cie. I still can't tell you what potage is, but it was like a viscous soup with maybe some potatoes and an essence of peanut. The Penne with Peanut Pesto and Chicken Sate were wonderful as well. 

Peanut Slaw with the event's menu
Onto more sweet options, waiters were passing around breads with four different combinations of peanut butters and toppings. Using Peanut Butter & Co.'s own flavored peanut butters, the combinations were White Chocolate Wonderful with fresh blueberries, Dark Chocolate Dreams with sliced strawberries, Crunch Time with toasted marshmallows and Mighty Maple with smoked bacon, although I think the flavors and toppings may have gotten switched around a bit. The Mighty Maple was my favorite peanut butter, but it was so nice to enjoy fresh strawberries for the first time in a while. To top it all off, we also tried Magic Bars, which are like an "everything but the kitchen sink" sort of sweet concoction. So delicious and I got the recipe!

Dark Chocolate Dreams with a Toasted Marshmallow
Mighty Maple with Smoked Bacon
The rest of the night was spent noshing, enjoying the art and palling around with my new monkey friend. Everyone seemed to have a great time celebrating an awesome New York idea brought to life.

Me and my monkey friend

To me, a great event is one that I leave happy, full and feeling like I've experienced something unique. Major bonus points come in the form of a great gift bag, and this party scored major awesome bonus points! Not only did I take home two jars of Peanut Butter & Co.'s famous peanut butters (Mighty Maple and Smooth Operator), but I also received Traditional Virginian Peanut Soup from Montebello Kitchens, a ladle to go with it, Protein Plus Peanut Flour, Sir Francis Bacon Peanut Brittle, Peri-Peri Good hot spiced peanuts, Q.bel peanut butter and chocolate cookies, peanut caramels from Liddabit Sweets and packaged peanuts from Ricky's Lucky Nuts. Let's just say I'll be getting my peanut fix for the next year. 

My awesome peanut goodie bag
Thanks to my friend Jeff, who writes the awesome food blog I8NYC, I also scored a jar of Peanut Butter & Co.'s The Heat is On peanut butter. I can't wait to experiment with that one!

The Nutripolitan Museum of Art is open through tomorrow at the Openhouse Gallery in Soho. I would totally recommend going not only for the art, but every guest will get to take home a jar of peanut butter. In addition, Peanut Butter & Co. will donate one jar of peanut butter to the Food Bank for NYC for every person who visits the gallery.


Care For A Hot Beverage?

After haphazardly attending last year's NY Coffee and Tea Festival, this year at least I knew what to be excited for. In preparation, I went hungry and definitely decaffeinated.

First stop, the classroom for a lesson in entertaining with afternoon tea with expert Ellen Easton. To be honest, these breakout sessions last year were the gold mine for food samples and since this seminar was sponsored by Walker's shortbread, I was sold. I learned a couple of neat factoids in this session. Namely, did you know that when serving scones, you should put the cream on first and then the jam to best prevent everything from sliding off? Also, black tea is black because the leaves are oxidized! Ok, maybe not so exciting to everyone, but when the event volunteers brought out trays of desserts, I'm pretty sure the room was at full attention. We were each given a cute and colorful little petit fours, a Walker's shortbread cookie and an Almondina biscuit. 

Ellen Easton leading the seminar

Our plate of goodies!

When the seminar ended, I decided it was time to find some caffeine! As I toured the show, I found Harney & Sons. I discovered this brand for myself last year at this show and fell in love. Unfortunately they weren't giving away samples to take home this time, but if I were you, I'd go out and try some of their Pomegranate Oolong.

Next I tried something a bit unusual. A bright green elixir, Matcha sort of reminded me at first of Naked Juice's Green Machine. I was told that it's made from ground up tea leaves, but it's strained so you don't get any chalky-ness or grit. I'm not sure I'd want to drink it all day, but it's refreshing and with such a verdigree, how could it not be healthy?

Other highlights included Turkish coffee from the Turkish Cultural Center, mini lemon meringue pies from Bite Size Pies, Peet's coffee courtesy of the Ing Direct Cafe and catching a performance from some of the cast of Coffee the Musical - yes it actually exists!

By far the most popular place to be was at the Aroma Cafe booth. The brand new cafe with outposts in Soho and the Upper West Side was one smart cookie to book this show. People were flocking to the Aroma booth like New Yorkers in the morning to bodegas. It was mobbed. I took some time browsing their tea selection and nibbling on some chocolates before convincing myself to join the down-the-hall line for a fresh made cappuccino, latte, mocha or espresso. Even though I waited probably a good twenty minutes, I'm glad I did because that cappuccino was the best thing I had to drink throughout the entire event.

The Aroma Cafe Booth
Aroma's tea selection
The barista making my drink
Doesn't the design make you enjoy drinking it that much more?
I'm pretty sure I buzzed out of there after doing one more lap around the event space to make sure I didn't miss anything. Unfortunately I was too late to get a goody bag so I can't tell you what was in them, but they were big and probably wonderful. Next year I'll be sure to get there earlier. 

Did you go? What did you like best about the festival?