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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

GIFT: Cake In A Jar

When you can’t be there to bake a cake, send a cake in a jar. Jar’d Cake from one of our favorite bakers, Cake Chicago, offers four delicious varieties to send as a Mother’s Day gift, or give as party favors.

Everything at Cake Chicago is made from scratch, including the raspberry conserve a nd salted caramel.

Choose from:

  • White Buttermilk Cake with raspberry conserve and italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filling
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling (spiced carrot cake, no raisins or nuts)
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
  •  
    Tied with grossgrain ribbon, the jars are $7.00 each, with a 2 jar minimum.

     

    cake-in-a-jar-closed-chicagocake-230

    Moist, delicious Jar’d Cake. Photo courtesy Cake Chicago.

     

    Get yours at Cake-Chicago.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Tacos

    ice-cream-tacos-tasteofhome-230

    Ice cream tacos: olé! Photo courtesy Taste
    Of Home.

     

    How about ice cream tacos for Cinco de Mayo?

    You can make them the easy way, with frozen round toaster waffles, or make crunchy pizzelles and fold them into taco-like shells.

    But we adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, which uses actual tortillas. As a neater alternative to tacos, you can form the tortillas into a bowl (drape them over an actual dessert bowl).

    Prep time is 20 minutes. With all due respect to Klondike’s Choco Tacos, these taste a lot better!

    RECIPE: ICE CREAM TACOS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pint ice cream of choice
  • 4 plain 6″ or 8″ tortillas
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  •  

    Choice Of Toppings

    Select two toppings; you’ll need two tablespoons of each.

  • Chocolate chips or other baking chips or shaved chocolate (see below)
  • Mini candies: M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, marshmallows
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chopped honey peanuts, pecans or other nuts
  • Diced banana, kiwi, mango or strawberries
  •  
    Plus

  • Caramel or fudge sauce
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream and sprinkles
  •  
    Preparation
     

     

    blocks-curls-hebertchocolate-230

    Chocolate shavings. Photo courtesy Hebert Chocolate.

    1. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle on one side of each tortilla.

    2. HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the tortillas, one at a time, with the cinnamon side up. When the tortilla starts to brown, fold it into a taco shape and drain on paper towels.

    3. USING the same skillet, cook and stir the pecans for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Line up the taco shells in a baking dish to keep them upright, open-side up. Place two small scoops of ice cream in each tortilla shell; add the toppings, drizzle with sauce and finish with the whipped cream.

     
    HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CURLS OR SHAVINGS

    To shave chocolate or make chocolate curls, start with your favorite chocolate bars—solid, without nuts or other inclusions.

    1. WARM the chocolate bar in a microwave for 3 seconds. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape down the side (not the front/back) of the bar, forming curls.

    2. PLACE the chocolate curls on a wax paper-covered dish or baking pan and refrigerate until firm. It is easiest to move the curls with toothpicks.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

    scampi-epicureanbutter-230

    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

    SONY DSC

    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

    This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

    Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
     
    RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

    Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

    homemade-pretzels-mustard-ws--230

    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Confetti Cake

    With the success of The Flintstones television series, Post Foods obtained a license from Hanna-Barbera for Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereals. Introduced in 1971, the crisp rice cereal bits are still going strong.

    And not just for breakfast, either. They’ve made their way into a variety of baked goods, from donuts to Rice Krispie Treats. Fruity Pebbles, in particular, provides a rainbow of six colors to add brightness and crunch. The cereal has generated a plethora of Fruity Pebbles cakes.

    Depending on your crowd, you may prefer to call them confetti cakes.

    It’s spring, it’s almost Mother’s Day: It’s time to think of making a confetti cake:

  • Bundt cake (recipe)
  • Cake roll (recipe)
  • Cheesecake: as a topper, mixed into the batter or both.
  • Cupcake toppers (recipe)
  • Ice cream cake (recipe)
  • Ice cream pie (recipe)
  •  

    strawberry-fruity-pebble-bunt-cake-lecremedelacrumb-230r

    Sophisticated: a Fruity Pebbles bundt. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Le Creme De La Crumb.

  • Layer cake: top only, sides only, atop the filling layer(s) inside, or over the whole surface of the cake; mixed into the batter and atop the frosting (recipe)
  • Sheet cake: mixed into the batter and as a garnish atop the frosting
  •  

    MORE CONFETTI CAKE

    Check out Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix.

    We love these neon confetti cake decorations.

    The easiest default: mixed sprinkles.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Haystacks

    Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?

    A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).

    Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.

    Good for a crowd, the concept been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites and Latter-Day Saints.

    You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

    This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (16-ounces) refried beans
  • 1 bag tortilla chips or cooked, seasoned rice for base*
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • 1 can (2.2-ounces) sliced olives
  • 1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  •  

    mexican-haystack-planet-rice-230

    Mexican Haystacks with a rice base. Photo courtesy WholeAndFree.Blogspot.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.

    2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…

    3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.

    4. BRING ingredients to the table and assemble. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
     
    *Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    mac-and-cheese-grilled-cheese-davidvenableQVC-230

    A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We’re closing out National Grilled Cheese Month with something out of the ordinary: a grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese. It’s the creation of Chef David Venable of QVC, who created it to use up leftover mac and cheese. (Really? Who ever has leftover mac and cheese?)

    He uses extra slices of cheddar on top of the mac and cheese, which melt and will help hold the mac in place. And, since you don’t want to wait until you have leftovers, you make the mac and cheese from scratch.

    If you like heat, add some chili flakes to the recipe.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced, cooked, and fat drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1–1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices white bread or bread of choice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

    2. ADD the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the shredded cheese, mustard, optional chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the cheese has melted. Add the bacon and the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat the macaroni. Set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    4. PLACE 8 slices of bread on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise onto one side of each slice. Flip over 4 slices of the bread and place 1 slice of cheddar on each.

    5. DIVIDE the macaroni over the cheese-covered bread slices and spread evenly. Top with the remaining slices of cheddar and cover with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side facing out.

    6. PREHEAT a square griddle pan to medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and toast until golden brown on one side, about 5–8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches; then place the griddle, with the sandwiches, in the oven and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese slices have melted.

      

    Comments

    EARTH DAY: 5 Green Things You Can Do To Help Save The Planet

    The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

    Yet 45 years later, the need to save the planet is even greater. Here are five painless food-related things you can do to live greener:

    1. CARRY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

    Bottled water purchases continue to grow in the beverage category. A plastic water bottle takes 1,000 years to degrade in landfill; if burned in a furnace, it releases harmful toxins into the air.

    Carry a refillable water bottle. If you don’t like your municipal water, get a home water filtration system.
     
    2. MAKE CARBONATED BEVERAGES AT HOME

    Beyond water bottles, how much soda or sparkling water do you consume? There’s a Sodastream waiting for you!

    In addition to making just about any flavor of soda—regular, diet, decaffeinated—or flavored water, you’ll save lots of money and work carrying those heavy bottles.

       

    reusable-shopping-bag-stylehive-230

    Avoid taking stores’ plastic shopping bags for your purchases. Instead, tuck reusable, folding nylon bags into pockets, purses, glove compartments. Photo courtesy StyleHive.com.

     
    3. CARRY REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

    Don’t take plastic shopping bags from the grocery store; bring your own reusable bags instead. Most of them, like these, fold up to fit into a pocket.

     

    sodastream-fizz-230

    Make as many different flavors as you like, with reusable bottles. Photo courtesy Sodastream.

     

    If you buy a lot of groceries, here are options for the trunk of your car.

    Be sure to check out Hannah Grocery Cart Bags, which fit into the shopping cart. You fill them as you shop, unload them to pay, then fill and wheel to your car. They’re sturdy and don’t fall over as you drive home.
     

    4. MAKE BETTER CHOICES IN TAKE-OUT FOOD & FAST FOOD

    Take-out and fast food generate more landfill that won’t biodegrade in your lifetime. Avoid styrene, or any type of plastic, in coffee cups, plates and delivery containers.

    Patronize stores and restaurants that use paper coffee cups and plates, and cardboard or recyclable metal take-out containers. Wash and reuse the plastic utensils.

    And when you place your order, tell the establishment not to include any utensils with your order (or soy sauce, fortune cookies, ketchup packets and other things you just toss out automatically).

     

    5. RECYCLE YOUR TRASH

    If your community doesn’t have a mandatory recycling programs, call your Department of Sanitation to see what the options are to recycle paper, tin cans and other metals, glass and plastic.

  • Some retailers, like Whole Foods, recycle #5 plastic yogurt cups when local municipalities don’t.
  • You can also buy a gadget that cuts K-cups apart for recycling the plastic and composting the grounds.
  • There’s also a program that lets you mail in your used K-cups for recycling.
  •  
    BONUS TIP: CUT BACK ON HOME ENERGY USE

    The average American household spends more on home energy bills and gasoline for cars, than for health care or property taxes. You can live greener, saving energy (and money!), by being aware of how you waste it.

    Turn off lights, computers, televisions and other energy-users when you don’t need them. Use this online tool to see how easy it is for you to cut back.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

    While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

    The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

    There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
  •  
    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       

    jelly-bean-bark-tasteofhome-230

    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

    jelly-beans-paper-cup-WS-230

    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      

    Comments

    RESTAURANT: Death Ave

    Now that spring is really here, New Yorkers and visitors to the city are heading to the High Line, the elevated train tracks that have been turned into a unique urban park.

    Built in 1934 to transport goods through Manhattan, the High Line ran from 34th Street to Spring Street in SoHo. The elevated tracks were built through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue.

    By 1980, interstate trucking was the preferred mode of commercial transportation, and the trains ceased to run. Over time, the tracks covered with wild vegetation. Property owners wanted the tracks torn down.

    In 1999, two neighborhood residents began to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space. The first part of the renovation opened to the public in 2009 and it is now complete—and magnificent.

    The High Line is part of the renaissance of the far west side of Chelsea, long a bleak industrial area. A decade ago, art galleries priced out of other neighborhoods led the gentrification, followed by boutique hotels.

       

    vertical-horiatiki-deathave-230

    One of Death Ave’s deconstructed dishes, a stacked Greek salad. Photo courtesy Death Ave | NYC.

     

    Then the high rise residential buildings began to pop up, many along the High Line. If you’re going to live far west in Chelsea, having a neighborhood park—especially such a hip, trendy one—is an amenity unmatched by other ‘hoods.

    Along with the burgeoning numbers of visitors and residents came the restaurants. We recently visited a particularly charming one, Death Ave.

    A RESTAURANT NAMED “DEATH?”

    First, you’ll say: What kind of name is Death Ave for a restaurant, much less a modern Greek one?

    Its location, Eleventh Avenue, was nicknamed “Death Avenue” in the late 19th century.

    In the mid-1800s, the Hudson River Railroad built freight train tracks, to transport meat and other goods to the city’s bustling Meat Packing District (today, there’s no more meat packing but a loft and condo neighborhood).

    Although inconceivable today, the train tracks ran at street level, right through the same avenue that was used by pedestrians and carriage traffic. Inevitably, hundreds of people were hit and killed by the trains. By the 1890s, the street was nicknamed “Death Avenue.”

    The stretch of avenue where the restaurant is located is drab, but gentrification will come. And until then, restaurateur Michael Tzezailidis has built a beautiful new restaurant. A 120-year-old tenement building has been transformed into an urban oasis.

     

    death-ave-dining-room-230

    The dining room at Death Ave, looking out onto the patio. Photo courtesy Death Ave | NYC.

     

    The restaurant has been built with old world craftsmanship. We envied the bronze floor tiles and the handsome stone walls. The room tables are reclaimed wood.

    There’s a bar for drinking and nibbling; private, curtain-enclosed booths; a main dining room with and a splendid patio with a retractable roof for rainy days. It has a large bar and lounge area along with table seating.

    The menu is a creative modernization of Greek fare: a deconstructed Greek salad and souvlaki “tacos” for dinner and deconstructed ham and eggs for breakfast and brunch.

    There is also more conventional fare, from a mezze plate to braised octopus and lamb shank, all stylishly served.

    The cocktails are impressive (be sure to have the current specialties); and although we have to return to try the beer, there’s an in-house brewery. Death Ave is an “estiatorio and zythopoiia”; in Greek, estiatorio is a restaurant, zythopoiia is a brewery.

    It’s a lovely place to relax after your stroll on the High Line.

     

    Death Ave is located at 315 10th Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets (not on 11th Avenue, “Death Avenue”); 212.695.8080. You can also reserve via Open Table on the Death Ave website.

      

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