Food Happenings & Happy Hour Wednesdays 6/22-6/28

Around the World

IndyExpo_BrandsI don’t know about you, but the last time I played around the world was in a fraternity house during rush at the University of Wisconsin. But tonight’s INDY SPIRITS EXPO bring us back with walk around tastings featuring vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, mezcal, cognac and more.

General Admission tickets are priced at $50, but $75 gives you the full VIP treatment. Meet the distillers, brand owners, importers and others who make it possible for you to enjoy a great a variety of small batch, unique and artisinal spirits from around the world.


Pledge Allegiance to the Bar

NY Liberty Bar TourLooking for yet another reason to indulge in some afternoon cocktails? Home-bound on July 4th and looking to celebrate America’s birthday a week early? Then head over to the New York Liberty Bar Tour this Saturday from 1-9pm. The drinking begins at T.G. Whitneys and crawls your favorite Midtown East bars. Tickets start at $8 or enter to win a free pass here.




Get Your Eat On, Fancy-Style




Get a taste of the most innovative food and beverage products at the 7th annual FANCY FOOD SHOW being held June 28-30 at the Jacob Javitz Center. Thousands of exhibitors from around the country and the world will be dishing out their latest products and that means samples! For $35 you can enjoy a three-day pass to this fancy display on everything from candy to cheese!

Past guest chef appearances that I have met are: Marcus Samuelsson (Aquavit, Merkato55), Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Heidi Klum (Klum Candies)


Wednesday is the New Saturday, for Ladies

Midtown East & Murray Hill bars are giving ladies a new reason to celebrate hump day with specials that we just can’t refuse.

Public House – Half priced martinis 5pm-12AM

Tonic – Ladies drink free 8-9pm

Van Diemens – Half priced drinks for Ladies

Choice – Your choice of 2 appetizers & 1 bottle of wine for $35

If you know of another GREAT HAPPY HOUR DEAL, post it here!


Dining Deals & White Parties for a Cause

After vacationing in Fire Island without any limitations in regards to both food and alcohol, I definitely need to watch my budget. Summer is also a tough time to cut back with happy hour in full effect, but here are a few deals to get your summer rolling for less than $30.



MERCAT, 1/2 priced appetizers and wines by the glass from 5pm to 8pm daily


Shorty's 32


Shorty’s 32, Prix Fixed Dinners from 5-7:30 pm under $25


 And for your listening and drinking pleasure (or a great Fire Island reunion singalong)….

The Hill

The Hill, KAREOKE TUESDAYS, 5pm – 9pm
$3 bud light & yuengling drafts
$5 Apple Martinis, Watermelon Martinis, and Cosmos
$12 PBR buckets (All night)


Pencils of PromiseWHITE PARTY at Union Square Ballroom, a $30 donation gets you a 5-hour open bar, sliders and popcorn, great music, lots of dancing, and a multimedia installation demonstrating the organization’s impact to date in Laos, where it just completed construction of its 1st school!

Pencils of Promise is a non-profit organization whose mission is to build schools of early-stage education in developing nations for some of the world’s most impoverished and undereducated children.

Lasagna at its Best

Lasagna is the perfect comfort food for the weather we’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks. After coming home from work, there’s nothing I savor more on a rainy or cold afternoon than a nice warm meal. And the combination of meat, cheese, pasta, and veggies really hits the spot for me.

After scouring the internet for the perfect lasagna recipe, one in particular stood out from the rest. And the winning recipe is (drumroll please) Barefoot Contessa’s Turkey Lasagna. Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, is probably the last Food Network chef I began watching, but also happens to be my favorite. Although her show might not seem as exciting as say an Iron Chef America or Emeril, there’s something comforting about the way she cooks that inspires me to get in the kitchen. I think Ina is so appealing to me because she is the most real of all the Food Network chefs, less of a celebrity and more of a true cook who is passionate about entertaining her guests.

In any case, her Turkey Lasagna recipe was not only simple but turned out to be the most delicious lasagna I’ve ever had. Anyone can write a recipe, but Ina was able to create a guide that actually translated ingredients into their most natural form; an incredible Turkey Lasagna. And though Ina’s original recipe appeared to contain the perfect balance of meat and cheese, I just needed to add my own little twist.

Since I try and cut out additional calories or fat when I can, I omitted the goat cheese and used 1lb of part skim ricotta and only 3/4 lb of shredded low fat mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese (1/2 in the dish, 1/4 on top). I also added 2 packages of frozen spinach which was a nice addition. Since the sauce is so rich, it doesn’t necessarily need all of the cheese the recipe calls for. Unfortunately I couldn’t find turkey sausage in my local supermarket so I bought ground turkey meat and added a few spices (fennel, caraway, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper & chili flakes) so that it would taste similar to sausage. I also added 4 oz of diced turkey bacon to the mix to give it a slight smoky flavor. I must admit that it really enhanced the flavor of the turkey. I highly recommend Ina’s recipe with these revisions if you prefer a healthier lasagna.

Lasagna on Foodista

And though the lasagna was phenomenal, it was even more satisfying knowing that each portion (9 total) only cost $2.50! You really can’t beat that. For those of you who live in Murray Hill and shop at Todaro’s, you’ll notice that they sell a portion of their Lasagna for around $7.00. This Turkey Lasagna is perfect for freezing, just make sure you wrap your portions twice to prevent freezer burn!

Price Breakdown of Ingredients:

  • 20 oz Ground Turkey: $4.99
  • 2 Packages of Frozen Chopped Spinach: $2.58
  • 1/2 lb Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese: $2.99 (From Wholesale Cheese Store in E. Village)
  • 1/2 lb Grated Parmesan Cheese: $3.99 (also from Cheese Store)
  • Small Onion: .50
  • Garlic: .75
  • 28 oz Can Crushed Tomatoes: $1.50 (on special)
  • 6 oz Can Tomato Paste: .89
  • 1 lb Fresh Pasta: $3.99 (can also use dried pasta)

GRAND TOTAL = $22.18

Portions: 9 total, $2.46 each

Recession Specials

I must say I’m a bit of a recessionista if I do say so myself. And though a New York Times article
deems recessionistas as mere “style mavens on a budget”, I believe it applies to any genre, and especially when it comes in eating in Manhattan.

New York City is a playground for foodies or really anyone that enjoys a satisfying meal with pretty decent service to boot. But harsh times call for harsh measures, though maybe not this time around… As we’re beginning to see, restaurants are not recession proof and in order to fill their quotas they’ve begun to offer somewhat affordable prix-fixed weekday meals to diners looking to get the best bang for their buck. Alhough the prix-fixed menus might not offer up the creme de la creme, these deals allow even the slightly poverty stricken (I use this term lightly) New Yorkers to continue to uphold their gluttonous lifestyles.

Due to the horrible chain effect the recession is causing, you will see a change in what restaurants are serving. More and more chefs are drawn to the local food movement, slightly altering the produce that is offered in even our favorite restaurants. Chefs are using less expensive ingredients and even serving smaller portions in order to recoup their expenses. It’s a tough world out there.

But though Restaurant Week may be coming to an end, you’ll notice that a lot of restaurants will be extending their $24.07 lunch and $35 dinner offerings through February or later. Lucky for us NY Mag has published The Definitive Guide to Recession Specials. And another recessionista helps us take advantage of even more of New York’s finest deals with her frequently updated list of best bets.

My Recession Special dinner recommendations are:

Nougatine, $35 three-course dinner before 6:30 p.m. and after 10 p.m
Apiary, $35 three-course Sunday dinner, featuring options like pan-seared halibut with broccolini and spicy eggplant, and pumpkin crème brûlée
Dovetail, $38 three-course Sunday supper, featuring dishes like sweetbreads and duck goulash

Though I have not yet visited these fine establishments, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.