Saturday, November 20, 2010

Getting Older Never Tasted So Good!

I can’t think of a better way to spend an occasion than to enjoy delicious food, with good company, in one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s a formula that always equals a memorable time. I turned 23 on Wednesday and celebrated another year of living with a short trip over to Manhattan for a night fit for a foodie.

A birthday is like your own personal holiday to be commemorated in any way you choose. They are special once-a-year occasions, reserved for special, once-a-year type things. For me, that thing is usually a reservation at a restaurant in the city that I’d like to try. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be treated to some pretty fancy places. While not as exclusive as the restaurants I’ve picked in the past, this year I chose to go a more “exotic” route and went Greek with a table at Kellari Taverna.


Our reservation was a little late, and while I do live near Manhattan it is still a bit of a trek to get to. If you’re going to travel over bridges and through tunnels to eat, you might as well do something else while you’re there. Luckily, there is always something new to discover in New York. I’ve been dying to check out Chelsea Market and finally got the chance to go. A haven of all things delicious, the rugged-looking indoor arcade is lined with restaurants and specialty food shops. It is also the home of Food Network.

Within only a couple of minutes of walking into the architecturally charming market, we were reduced to an almost uncontrollable state of voracious indulging. Surrounded by Italian specialty stores, bread bakeries, artisanal meats and cheese shops, we excitedly stormed through the halls like Hungry Hungry Hippos, purchasing almost everything in our paths and gobbling some up along the way. Here are a few highlights:



Oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt shop, The Filling Station. Dispensed from large metal drums, a large selection of balsamic vinegars and dozens of extra virgin olive oils from around the world are sold, along with a variety of exotic sea salts and sugars. All products can be tasted before purchasing. As an environmentally-friendly excuse to return, the owners offer a 10% discount to customers who bring back their bottles for refills.

 Pink Himalayan sea salt from The Filling Station.
Rosy in color, the salt is so pure; it is like getting hit by a wave with your mouth open.
 

Lucy’s Whey, an artisanal cheese shop that specializes in all American cheeses. As described by the sales person, they are all distinctly flavored hand-crafted cheeses that are special in their own way and rare to come by. After grabbing a few tastes, we bought three delicious cheeses: Dante sheep’s milk cheese similar to a Spanish Manchego, Wisconsin; Prairie Breeze cheddar, Iowa; and Sofia goat milk cheese laced with ash, Indiana.


Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres, has a small shop right inside Chelsea Market. And what kind of birthday would it be without chocolate?A few years back, I visited one of his main locations in Hudson Square where you can see (and smell) the chocolate being made right from within the store. I remember every chocolate I tasted like it was yesterday. That day, we also tried Jacques’s famous wicked hot chocolate. Why wicked? It’s flavored with allspice, cinnamon, sweet ancho chili peppers, and smoked ground chipotle! A must try if you get the chance, and you can get it all at Chelsea Market. We left with a box of chocolates, along with chocolate-covered marshmallows and graham crackers—yes, it was all good!


So what about Food Network? Their offices and studios are upstairs from the market and private. We might have had a possible Bob Tuschman sighting, you know, Food Network General Manager and one of the judges from the Next Food Network Star? I can’t confirm that since by the time I turned around, I only saw the back of a gray-haired head. Anyway…Fun fact about Chelsea Market, it used to be the building for the National Biscuit Company, aka Nabisco. It’s really a cool place. I only wish that it was closer so that I could visit more frequently and do my food shopping there!


Dinner at Kellari Taverna was very enjoyable. I had been there once before for a cocktail party and liked it so much that I wanted to try it out for dinner. As a Greek seafood restaurant, it is not the normal fare for us, but picking at our plates, discovering new flavors together, and humming with “yums,” made it all the more fun. We started out with an appetizer of toasted pita chips and several dips including, tzatziki, roasted pepper and feta, eggplant, and fish roe. Off to the side inside of the restaurant, the fresh fish sit on ice as it would in a market, the lobsters still squirming in place. One of those fish was my dinner. And for dessert--loukomades, fried honey balls similar to an Italian zeppoli. Sorry, no photos of the food. I was too busy eating it!

17 comments:

Monet said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate your special day! I love visiting artisinal cheese and food stores. So much fun! And it sounds like the restaurant was delicious. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope you are having a relaxing day!

Hester Chang said...

Happy belated birthday, Marisa! Us 1987-ers rock :-) It sounds (and looks) like an absolutely fun night! I've never been to New York so I am absolutely jealous about the culinary adventures you get to have!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Happy Birthday! It sounds as though you had a wonderful day. How I miss Chelsea Market. I'm looking forward to visiting again on my next trip to NYC.

Diana said...

I feel like Greek food is really underated!! Having lived in Greece, i have to say they have some fine dishes and they really know how to cook fish, and also meaty stews. Now i wish i was eating out at a Greek restaurant tonight!!

Karen said...

Lucky you! What a fantastic day! Chelsea Market sounds like a dream come true! I can imagine feeling the same way walking through and buying everything in sight.
Happy Birthday!

Victoria said...

Happy birthday!! Chelsea Market is AWESOME! I just interned at the Food Network and truly loved working above the market, such a great place to visit and work. I'm so glad you had fun exploring! I love the Jacques Torres shop as well, so dangerous, but sooo good :)

ravienomnoms said...

Happy Birthday! Looks like a great time!

Fashion Meets Food said...

Happy Birthday! How I dream of going to NYC and being able to go to Chelsea Market!

xo

Sommer J said...

Love your foodie outings! SO informative. Chelsea Market sounds absolutely amazing! Glad you had a fun time!

Sommer J said...

OOOO and HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I have some catching up to do here.

~Lisa~ said...

Happy birthday youngin (= Glad you were able to eat some good grub and visit a foodie haven.

Trish said...

Happy belated! My first stop in New York is always Chelsea Market. They have the best shops, don't they? I've never tried that place you dined at but sounds nice.

Magic of Spice said...

Sounds like a perfect Birthday, and look at that cheese :)
Happy Birthday again, glad you had such a great day :)

Adelina said...

Happy belated Birthday Marisa! I am glad you treated yourself to some great food. Jacque Torress would have done it for me.

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Happy belated birthday Marisa! Wow 23. I just turned 30! haha. What a great way to celebrate your birthday! The pink himalaya salt sounds intriguing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Cake Duchess said...

That cheese! That chocolate and salt! What a lovely birthday. Happy belated birthday Marisa. I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving:)

Chef Dennis said...

sounds like you had a great night out! I love those artisnal vinegars and cheese, oh how I do love cheese!!
Thanks for sharing your special day with us and had a great birthday!