Monthly Archives: January 2014

Chelsea Ristorante- (Chelsea) New York, NY

PeanutPimpMamaMy last trip to Italy was over a year ago. Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my life-long friend and week-long roommate Gabby, I did what you do in Florence to kill time… I ATE. Of course this wasn’t an easy task to perform as I was circling piazza after piazza (jetlagged) passing one bustling café after the next. I stumbled upon one tucked away on a corner. The open façade invited the gorgeous Summer sun into this rustic dining space where I indulged in the most romantic Caprese salad of my life. I think I’ve been trying to relive that moment ever since.

I’ll never forget my server. He was an eager fellow with lots of energy and all smiles as he zipped past the tiny tables. When he proudly presented my salad and beer it looked as if he prepared it himself. I must admit, I was in awe of this tender mozzarella artistically stacked with flavorful tomato slices and basil so aromatic you would believe you were standing in a garden. This salad was all I needed, this salad and one more beer. It felt as if I had failed him when I couldn’t bear to finish the first of 1,000 cheese plates to come that week. My memory is forever burned by his look of disappointment over the remaining slivers.

Over the years I’ve been blessed with tons of international travel and food experiences. Studying abroad was a horrible influence on my wallet, and my scale. The friends I made along the way surely look back on our shared foodie-adventures fondly. (Pictured Above: My dear friend Linda and I sharing a lovely goat cheese salade and tartine in Le Marais, Paris 2007). Those were the days…

I think Americans, particularly NY’ers are infatuated with cafe culture. It’s a reminder of our short lived warm season. Dining “Al Fresco” (on our 1.5 ft. wide sidewalks) that gives us a sense of rebirth and “joie de vivre” lost by suffocating cubicles and fluorescent lighting in The Big Apple.

I found what may have been a close runner up in my book of “Most impressive Caprese Salads” at a small unassuming Italian restaurant in Chelsea. Of course the name was “Chelsea Ristorante”. Founded in the early 90’s (like most awesome things) the owners must have had a big think about that name. (A+ for creativity)

The Experience:

One of my long time college friends whom I have shared numerous cafe experiences with in two international cities now(Paris and New York) was moving out of her place in Chelsea. I decided to jump in there and help her wrap the process up. After a grueling afternoon of packing we decided to reward ourselves with a treat.

It was Fall already and we were soaking up the last of our Indian-Summer heat. While driving through Chelsea dizzy with outdoor choices we settled into this cozy little terrace and ordered two glasses of house white and red. Veggie diners in-crime and on-the-go, we ordered a beautiful porcini mushroom risotto and of course this amazing Caprese salad. Both were devoured in no time.

 The risotto was delightful… savoury and had some signs of mushroom as well. At least I didn’t have to go to Firenze to find it..

 Who am I kidding? I wish I was in Firenze right now.

Dreaming of a Summer long past and magical Caprese salads to come.


For More Info:

108 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011
(212) 924-7786

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Betony- (Midtown West) New York, NY

PeanutPimpMamaIt was Christmas time and the family was Mid-town embracing all the magical moments Rock-Center creates. To get into the spirit of things, our Christmas outing started off with mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It turned out the church was undergoing a bit of refurbishment leaving the scaffolding in a questionable state. I’m sure many people became a little more religious when they sat under it. Afterwards we had a drink at The New York Palace hotel and dinner at a nearby restaurant called Betony which had been up my sleeve for quite some time.

(I should Photoshop this picture)

This resto is located at 41 West 57th Street in a space formerly occupied by a restaurant called Shelly’s. I stumbled across this treasure when the N 31 failed me on a cold rainy evening in mid-November. With a shiny glass facade, passersby cannot help but notice the long and distinguished bar running the span of the dining room with one mission in mind, to bang out a mean cocktail. The towering wall of liquor storage above is slightly intimidating and provides an interesting conversation piece for those awkward corporate after-work drinks.

 The Experience:

When you enter Betony you are greeted with a warm hello as your coats are whisked away and you are promptly ushered to your table. Offering two levels of seating, the restaurant is filled with elegance and poised staff that has impeccable timing sans pressure. We dined on a Sunday night and the clientele was quite mixed. While I wouldn’t consider it a family-restaurant I witnesses a couple of shockingly well-behaved customers of the smaller variety dining with us that evening!

Their “New American” menu is essentially divided into four sections: snacks, appetizers, mains and dessert. Pictured above are the “snacks’ which are meant to be shared. So complex are these little meals in a bite, they are the gobstoppers of the menu. (Willy Wonka would be proud.) For three of us, we each ordered a snack to share which consisted of (clockwise) Fried Pickles with Heirloom peppers and yogurt, Chickpea Panisse with Mangalitsa Ham and Broccoli and last but not least the “Lobster Roll” with Crème Fraîche.

After our “snacks” this rando-amuse bouche was served. It was essentially a small bowl of a root vegetable soup with a green apple foam. Our taste buds were sufficiently teased by the rich earthy layer and contrast of the refreshing acidic foam.

This dish (pictured above) won the award for having every possible texture and consistency possible. It was all going on- chewy, crispy, and creamy and it basically covered all food groups. Checka checka check-it-out: Hen’s egg, Black Trumpets (mushrooms) and cavatelli. That broken yolk oozing all over its neighbors=sheer heaven.

For my main course I chose the poached lobster which was served with chestnuts and spices. Your mind is blown away when the dish appears way more complicated than its minimalist description. It was out of this world. The lobster was divine (not too tough) and floating in a savory spiced bisque that I made sure to finish every drop of. Thankfully it was served with a spoon so I could avoid picking up the entire bowl and pouring it into my mouth. (Not real.) The lobster main easily has a couple thousand calories, but who’s counting?

 Before your mind goes into the dark side, this snow capped entrement was actually edible.

When I see pumpkin pie on a menu I can’t help myself. However, the presentation here was laughable. I give Betony credit as I imagine it must be hard to make such a basic staple in the American cuisine look sophisticated. The running joke was that someone took a couple bites before it made it to the table… While it was masacred it was delicious, every last crumb of it.

After dinner we took a stroll back to The New York Palace for a tree picture since Rock Center’s had yet to be lit. Sadly we didn’t see any of the Gossip Girl cast.

Here’s an updated pic of mom and I (above) in front of Rock Center’s illuminated tree. One of these days I’ll make the lighting ceremony like a good New Yorker…It’s a new addition to my bucket list. Try out Betony for a one-of-a-kind experience at an attainable price. You won’t be let down.

For More Information about Betony:

Address: 41 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Phone: (212) 465-2400

~ PeanutPimpMama

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to:

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Estela- (Nolita) New York, NY

PeanutPimpMamaMany moons ago I attended an International Business program at IPAG in Nice, France. “Edumacation” had turned out to be quite the long journey and I was embarking on what was surely to be the most exciting and memorable four years of my life. I studied international business sur la plage, dipped many croissants in chocolat chaud, became a jet-setter across continental Europe and danced the night away in Monaco among other countries/cities. I made friendships and memories that will surely last a lifetime. So, the international foodie-adventures began.

A few of us reunited a week ago in NYC (Two Beijing/Singapore transplants and two Jersey Girls). There’s no better starting place than Peculier Pub for a Greenwich Village Staple experience to get the night going right. It’s not only my former place of employment but my entertainment go-to for affordable drinks, great company and of course their famous temperamental jukebox.

By recommendation of our visitors we decided to venture off onto East Houston for Ignacio Mattos’s hipster-chic Italian experience at Estela in Nolita. The storefront is barely noticeable with its dimly lit residential second floor walk-up entrance and signage so subtle we passed it twice. The space plays on an earthy yet industrial feel complimentary to much of SOHO and definitely caters to smaller and more intimate gatherings.

The Experience:

Estela stands up to the extremely serious cocktail scene here in NYC with a short and solid list of complex and adventurous mixology. Most of our table opted for the Rosemary Society (Pictured Above: Gin, pear brandy, lemon, grapefruit and rosemary). It was tiny, powerful and smooth with an herbal finish… all good signs of a well-made drink.

Our friend Tom (A Peculier Pub Regular) decided to be the odd man out by selecting the ‘Mean Old Tom’. This beer is nearly a 17oz bottle of Vanilla Stout coming to you straight from Maine! It’s a pretty creamy and chocolaty stout with hints of vanilla bean roaming around somewhere.

The foodies: Out came the bread and our appetizers. This is the second restaurant I’ve been to that started their menu with snacks (not starters). After glancing over the menu it was clear that our thoughts were all heading in the same direction, so we decided to go family style and share a selection of plates. Pictured above: just olives, olive oil and mustard seed. We also ordered the “Pickles” which were actually a small white plate with pickled vegetables. These salty morsels primed our palates for the foodies to come.

The first plate was our “Egg salad with mojama on matzo”. Every bite tasted like breakfast with the crunchy matzo, creamy egg salad and the light sprinkle of mojama which added a smoky and salty element to every bite. (Bacon and eggs on toast all the way.)

For our salad selection we chose the turnips which were served with apple, hazelnuts, mint and Fossa cheese. The green apple slices were a refreshing contrast to the earthy and toasty flavors of the turnips and hazelnuts.

We also shared the Burrata which was prepared with salsa verde layered on top of charred bread. The charred bread soaked up all of the salsa verde flavor and provided a chewy flavorful cushion for our cream-a-licious cheese to rest. Just imagine a slice of pesto-soaked garlic bread smothered in creamy cheese with an olive oil drizzle. (A must-have when dining at Estela.)

The calamari a la plancha might have actually been my favorite dish served that evening. (Calamari served with ajo blanco and spiced almonds) While all of these dishes were multi-dimensional, this plate had it all with its lingering smokyness that went particularly well with our very confusing bottle of wine… Le Grain de Seneve (made of 100% Gamay). We almost ordered two.

It’s pretty safe to say we were fed into a frenzy.

However there was still definitely room for dessert…

First out was our cheese course. A selection of four cheeses (cow and goat) was presented on two plates with a bit of chutney and extra bread for our enjoyment.

They weren’t the most generous of slices. We made sure to divide the A-ration accordingly. No man was left un-cheesed!

Pictured Here: PeanutPimpMama dips into Pot de crème with layers of coffee and bourbon. Need I say more?


 Finishing all of this food turned into a valiant team effort.


I couldn’t help but notice their interesting alternative to air fresheners in the bathroom and the hipster line-cook in skinny jeans (look to the right). Awesome, just awesome.


Overall the evening was a success! We ate and we laughed and we reminisced a whole lot. I hope to see these guys on the other side of the globe so we can do this all over again…à bientôt!

Address: 47 E Houston St, New York, NY 10012

Phone:(212) 219-7693

~ PeanutPimpMama

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to:

Click Like* and Share* with your Friends! Also follow my foodie adventures on Twitter and Instagram!