Review: Arran Whisky Burn Nights Event

Whiskey is water from the gods! So good, so tasty. I’m always trying to broaden my horizons with whiskey since I’ve acquired a taste for it over the past two years.  A new one came past my desk recently, Arran Whisky. I was fortunate enough to receive an invite to their Burns Night Event.

Bagpiper © Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

Upon my arrival at Scottish gastro-pub Highlands NYC, I knew this would be fun. From the tartan lampshades to the buck head trophies on the walls.  I sat a long table with some of the most sought-after NYC spirit writers and bloggers with an array of beautiful brown whiskys. We were greeted with Rabbie Burns cocktail and appetizers of blood sausages, Eventually, our Scottish brand ambassador David Ferguson explained the whiskeys to us. One by one, we sipped their single malt, 10 year old malt, 21 year old malt, and machrie moor. Each whisky had their own distinct flavor from being spicy to peety. After the tasting was over, we had a traditional bagpiper play in front of us. It was so amazing to have him play familiar Scottish tunes in such an intimate space.

A welcomed  apéritif  © Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

Then the owner of the Highlands NYC, took out the much-anticipated haggis. Yes, haggis, a traditional burn night’s dish. Everyone received a small piece of haggis with mashed potatoes and turnip. I actually, really enjoyed it, despite the bad rap on this side of the Atlantic.

Haggis © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

We enjoyed our food and our drams. If you are looking for fine scotch, Arran Whiskey is a definite must on your shopping list.

Review: Caravan Studio at the Gregory Hotel

On December 13th, I entered the Gregory Hotel searching for the Caravan Studio. After the kind concierge showed me the tucked away entrance, I knew this would be an experience of a lifetime.  Up the windy stairs, I found a secret salon known as Caravan Style Studios, a place that VIP’s and celebrities know fondly about. Cutely decorated, I found myself looking at La Hive beautiful collection of couture and eying their wall of air plants (my fave).

The Coffee Table Books (c) Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

As I sat in the chair to get my hair did, I spoke to the stylist about cosmetics I reviewed and some of my favorite products, and not to mention how people mess up a good ole fashioned cocktail. As we spoke, she curled my hair so wildly that it reminded me of my senior prom, but now at this age, I had more appreciation for. I wore my hair wildly and fierce. After I got out of the chair, I tried one of LaHive’s beautiful white dresses that made the look.

My gorgeous hair (c) Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Caravan Studio is open select time of the year and for VIP’s. The products they carry are the Gregory Hotel..  If you have a chance to get your hair and makeup done there, it’s truly magical. They partner with Sheree Cosmetics, Will Lane, LAHIVE and KISS YOUR CRAVINGS GOODBYE to totally give your do the complete look. Plus, having a can of rosé during your appointment never hurts…

If you ever have a chance to get your hair or makeup done by Caravan Studio, I highly recommend. You’ll remember it from years to come.

Review: The Johnnie Walker Pop-Up Shop Powered by Giftagram

On December 12th, Johnnie Walker hosted an exclusive look at their pop-up store for their VIP’s. This holiday pop-up powered by personal gift concierge app Giftagram allows last-minute shoppers at Brookfield Place’s stunning Winter Garden atrium the ability to engrave Johnnie Walker bottles and the scotch whisky tastings during the holiday season.

VIP’s used Giftagram, a personal gift concierge app to order a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label right from the engraving studio. The bottle was engraved on the scene, so guests had the ability to walk away with a personalized bottle in-hand or have it shipped to someone special just in time for the holidays. Guests are able to engage their own bottles from now until December 24th.

Cheers © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The Westchester Saturday High Intensity Internal Training

Cover image © Alyssa Tognetti

I love a good ole fashion workout challenge. I needed to find something different to do since my personal trainer wasn’t available over the week.  Conveniently, I was invited to check out one of Susan Sweats High Intensity Interval Training at the Westchester Mall that weekend and it surely was an intense workout.

Lindsay from Fly Wheel showing us her moves! © Alyssa Tognetti

I got to the Connect Lounge at The Westchester Mall to find mats laid out for our workout with towels. As soon as I saw this, I knew I was going to break a sweat! I brought my Detoxwater to help give me a boost during the workout.

Our teacher Lindsay from Fly Wheel Scarsdale, got us pumped with great tunes. We did plenty of squats, lunges, and planks. The class managed to do 45 minutes of heart-racing activities.

Afterwards, we received a voucher for free parking and discount for The Little Beet for a job well done. It was totally worth it!

This series will continue in the new year. I look forward to the next one!!

Review: Chocolate & AMP; Cheese Party

Cover image © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

If there are three delicacies in the world, in my book it would be chocolate, wine, and of course, cheese. Warburg Realty hosted a chocolate launch party with Milène Jardine Chocolatier in the lovely Manhattan to celebrate their new flavors.

Chocolate © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Milène Jardine Chocolatier offers artisanal, international chocolate truffles inspired by my personal mantra: Live by Love. I discovered why guests were raving about their chocolatey goodness before I even entered the room. These high-quality chocolates were exquisite yet complex that kept making me run back for more.

How to pair your chocolate © Alyssa Tognetti at WhereNYC

How to pair your chocolate © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

On the table in the main room, there where several flights of chocolate, cheese, and wine that were carefully curated to enhance each flavor. Each station had a slate with directions on how to pair each chocolate with cheese and wine provided by Barterhouse Wines. Each pairing was more delicious than the next

Cheese Grotto © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

The cheeses were kept fresh with the Cheese Grotto. They were phenomenal to look at and made the cheese taste great.

This event was everything my heart (and stomach) ever desires.

Review: The 2018 Great Northeast Cheese Fest at Flushing Town Hall

Cover image Lively Run Goat Dairy’s Cayuga blue cheese © Meg for WhereNYC

An impressive display of amazing cheeses greeted guests at the historical Flushing Town Hall. 24 booths of different cheesemakers from the Northeast showcased some amazing cheeses.

While American cheese was once the laughing stock of the global cheese industry, artisanal makers, particularly from the East Coast have put their own stamp on an old tradition.

Call Me Caramel… cheese caramel? © Meg for WhereNYC

The Flushing Town Hall was like a cheese cathedral with the main event upstairs: a feeding frenzy of cheese heaven. There were classic flavors and seemingly strange combinations that oddly worked like cheese and caramel.

CheeseGrotto cheese storage – don’t eat the cheese! © Meg for WhereNYC

Besides cheese, there were local finger foods, booze, healthy drinks, and various other things to enjoy at this incredible event. Upon check-in, all guests were given 3 pieces of white beans to put in the jars of their 3 favorite booths.

Personal favorites included Merion Park Cheese Company and Nettle Meadow.

Mr. & Mrs. Tatar from Merion Park Cheese © Meg for WhereNYC

Newcomer Merion Park Cheese, an urban cheese maker located outside of Philly, made its debut at the cheese fest, proudly presenting their two cheeses: Martha Street and Cynwyd Knoll. The Martha Street washed-rind cheese had a nice beer flavor to it, and even if you prefer other alcoholic drinks than beer (like myself), the tomme cheese and beer taste really worked together. Owner, Mr. Tatar, explained that instead of adding water, they add farmhouse ale to the cheese during the cheese making process. Although it was the first cheese booth that I visited, the Martha Street cheese and the creamy, garlic flavor of Cynwyd Knoll immediately became two of my favorites and I placed a bean in Merion Park’s jar. Their cheeses proved so popular, they rapidly sold out of Cynwyd Knoll, and I happily bought their Martha Street cheese.

mmm.. citrus kunik from Nettle Meadow © Meg for WhereNYC

Nettle Meadow‘s holiday cheeses included their Citrus Kunik with orange liqueur. “The citrus takes off the zing of the cheese,” explained one of the lovely ladies at the booth. What is kunik? It is an Eskimo word meaning “snow and kiss.”  It “has a goat kick to it,” one of the ladies added. Nettle Meadow’s other cheeses included: Partridge Mountain (cow cheese), Three Sisters (three-mild ripened cow cheese), and various cheese spreads such as Pfeffernusse Fromage Frais, which was surprisingly sweet (just the right amount) because of maple syrup added to the flavor, and was absolutely delicious. Very satisfied, my friend and I placed our beans in their jar as well.

local beer from Mikkeller Brewing © Meg for WhereNYC

Between cheese tastings, we chose a spot of liquid refreshment.  Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice, a women-owned family operated business, Mikkeller Brewing from Flushing, Queens, and Tea and Milk’s unusual combination of Oolong tea and their signature cream helped refresh the palette after tasting so many  delicious cheeses. Mikkeller Brewing Company’s dessert beer, the Hibiscus Pale Ale, was surprisingly dry and slightly tart. As for Tea and Milk’s cream and Oolong tea combination, I found myself scraping my plastic cup to get the last drop of cream. “Would you like more cream?” the friendly people at the booth asked me, and I laughed embarrassingly.

a cheesy crowd at the cheese fest © Meg for WhereNYC

There were the familiar freebies which greeted guests on the second floor, as the Yelp booth handed out Yelp-printed chopsticks (Ok, is this because we were in Flushing, or because I am Asian?).

The second floor was definitely poppin’ with live music from the grand piano and finger foods in addition to the cheese booths. An adorable little boy from Little Bird Kitchen was carrying a tray around with their ‘hot & sweet’ chocolates and nuts. “Please vote for us,” the boy said as he walked around in front of his family’s booth. His tray had chocolates and nuts with jalapeños added to the flavor, which surprisingly went well together. The peppery taste came at the end after the sweetness faded off. It was definitely a perfect combination of hot and sweet.

a sweet boy serving hot & sweet treats from Little Bird Kitchen © Meg for WhereNYC

The Royal Underground restaurant and whiskey club, which just opened on December 14th in Astoria, was there as well, dishing out goat cheese croquettes. Next to the Royal Underground, chef Roberto Caporuscio from Kesté Pizza & Vino served fresh mozzarella.

The Royal Underground serving goat cheese croquettes © Meg for WhereNYC

 

fresh mozzarella served by a lovely chef © Meg for WhereNYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As my friend and I were getting cheesed-out, we happily took a bottle of free Galvanina Natural Mineral Water.

When the winners Nettle Meadow and The Royal Underground were announced, we left the cheese festival with a full stomach and loads of cheesy thoughts.

For more information on upcoming events, please visit Epicurean Events.

REVIEW: “Prescribing Hygge” event at BoConcept

Cover image: © Alyssa for WhereNYC

Hygge Cocktail (c) Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

I recently was invited to BoConcept, an amazing furniture store that with bold designs and stylish furniture, to an event simply called Prescribing Hygge.  In partnership with VisitDenmark and Scandinavian Airlines System, the night was filled with Danish delights.  Hygge has been super trendy lately, so I figure this was the best opportunity to learn what it is.

The Little Book of Hygge © Alyssa Tognetti for WHERENYC

What is Hygge? Yes, it’s a funny looking word but it is also inexplicably linked with Danish and Scandinavian culture. With no direct translation to other languages, at its core, hygge is simply about warmth, closeness and spending quality time with the people we love. The Little Book of Hygge Author and CEO of the Happiness Research Institute Meik Wiking spoke about the current cultural trend of hygge I learn about how spending time with other and talking about how to hygge makes everyone friendlier.

Culinary Personality and Scandinavian Chef Fredrik Berselius recreating traditional Danish dishes, which includes great rice pudding. On top of that, there were danishes that were to die for.

One of my favorites were cocktails from the new book Spirit of the North by Selma Slabiak. She made three cocktails from the book. My personal favorite was the white glogg with almonds on top. Truly, delicious.

I loved all the Danish and Scandinavian touches. My personal favorite was the How to Hygge Viewmasters. I encourage everyone to hygge more and hopefully, I can visit Denmark soon.

Review: 2018 Food Loves Tech in Industry City Brooklyn

Cover image: Square Roots © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC
With an impending food shortage crisis, global warming and conflict, sustainability and innovation are a major challenge. Food Loves Tech, now in its third year, is a beacon of inspiration bringing science, global activism and creativity into the food industry. Its mission is to push boundaries and challenge our senses.

© Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

This year, Food Loves Tech came to Industry City, Brooklyn, one of New York’s booming neighborhoods. Vendors, chefs, farmers and innovators showcased everything from the sensible to the bizarre. From hydroponic gardens to crunchy insects, I found myself eating things I would have never tried before.
Jumping from booth to booth, I was particularly impressed by Square Roots – a Brooklyn-based urban farm that ingeniously uses less water and produces more. “Farmers are enough out there, but our goal is to educate more farmers to understand the good ways to produce the products, so we grow educated farmers,” the booth’s rep said. Square Roots offers farmers training to become sustainable and environmentally friendly. Through their educational program, farmers can learn to produce more crops, while wasting less.

Manna Fish Farms © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Other sustainable veggie growers included Whole Foods and local grocery supplier Gotham Greens, based in New York and Midwest Chicago, who greeted visitors with generous packs of vegetables to take home.

On the subject of sustainability, perhaps no other food gets a worst rap than fish. Depleted stocks due to high demand, overfishing and climatic change all have contributed to declining fish populations. Although farmed fish like salmon is another alternative, it remains the scourge of fine dining restaurants whose chefs generally opt for the higher-quality wild. Organic salmon producer Manna Fish Farms is looking to change that with a variety of locally raised fish and shellfish off the Atlantic coast of Long Island. Using natural methods and healthy organic fish food, the salmon is of higher quality.

There was more than just farming at Food Loves Tech. My tastebuds were set on fire with some imaginative dishes from two of New York’s locally-sourced, eco-friendly restaurants.

They included Union Square-based Almond ‘s roasted duck served on a bed spicy kimchi. And Danny Meyer’s locavore favorite Untitled dished out a delicious potato salad made from vegetables grown in its LED-lit planters.

Almond’s spicy duck kimchi © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Now for the truly bizarre. Brooklyn Bugs really pushed the bar way out with scorpions and crickets, which I happily missed, but the cocktail shrimps seasoned with salty crunchy ants was surprisingly good. Definitely interesting, but would it end up on my dinner table? I can’t say. The sight of boiled shrimp covered with crispy black ants on anyone’s plate would be unsurprisingly off putting. 

Brooklyn Bugs © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

How many times after eating shrimps and ants have you thought, “Gee I’m parched.”? There were plenty of beverages to choose from including Bulleit Frontier Whisky who has been making good old fashioned Kentucky Bourbon since the 1830s. Fans of classic stouts would love Long Island Blue Point Breweryincluding the Good Reef Ale and an Imperial Stout, which was rare to see.
On a sweeter note, Coombs Family Farm presented its spray canned maple syrup. This is an innovative product, but its environmental mission of preservation really impressed me. Rather than use the traditional metal tube for extracting maple sap, Coombs invented a soft plastic one that doesn’t damage the trees.

Bulleit Whiskey © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

The Food Loves Tech expo is rare treat to meet some country’s most innovative and ambitious individuals behind America’s new food revolution. While some ideas may have worked better than others, I left feeling pleasantly surprised with what I tasted. There is no doubt that these innovators are changing the way we look at food and helping our planet at the same time.
Kei Hayashi reported for this article.

Review: Goose Island Tasting Matrix with the Barnyard Collective

Cover image: © Spirikal for WhereNYC

“What does it mean to be a cheesemonger?” Adam Moskowitz, founder of the New York-based cheesemonger  Barnyard Collective, can’t resist answering his own question. “I wish could have a TED talk.” Before the evening of cheese and beer, Adam warns us, “If you’re bashful, this will be a whack night.”

Fondue at Goose Island © Spirikal for WhereNYC

© Spirikal for WhereNYC

Goose Island Barrel House © Spirikal for WhereNYC

We are at the Goose Island Barrel House, an amazing event space with a stunningly beautiful interior with a long bar and medieval style chambers. There is a small demo kitchen in front of the rows of long wooden tables in the main room. I can’t help but eye the walls lined with rustic, wooden barrels. At the back, guests are busy helping themselves to cheese and free Goose Island beer.

For some, cheese and wine may seem a more fitting pair, but beer is also an excellent accompaniment. Like crackers or bread, beer is also is made of grains and has a yeasty note and a slight fizz that complements cheese brilliantly.

I fill my plate of cheeses from Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Belgium and choose a light, but slightly hoppy Sofie pilsner-style brew at the bar in the back and settle down in my seat, ready to hear the lecture.

Adam Moskowitz of the Barnyard Collective © Spirikal for WhereNYC

Most Chicagoans won’t probably know him, but Adam Moskowitz is cheese-crazed lunatic and industry expert who has been in the business for his whole life. He’s a self-described turophile, a connoisseur of cheese and naturally is “most happy when (he) eats cheese.” His Barnyard Collective, located at the Larkin Cold Storage in Long Island City, Queens, regularly hosts cheese talks and tastings with some of the East Coast and Europe’s most innovative artisanal cheesemakers such as Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill and Cultivo Creamery who share their knowledge with the cheese community. 

O.G. Kristal from Belgium © Spirikal for WhereNYC

“If you’re a cheesemonger, you are a shaman.” Adam begins. Much of lecture covers the basics: the four kinds of cheese: sheep, cow, goat and water buffalo, the three types of production: industrial, artisanal and farmstead – and a bizarre amount diagrams and geeky memes. After a long while rambling on the history of cheese, the four main ingredients and how cool it is to work with cheese, he suddenly says, “(Cheesemongers) help people connect to good memories.” He’s right.

The collaboration between the Barnyard and Goose Island itself was a beautiful mariage of refreshing beer and creamy, sinful indulgence. This is a memory in the making.

The O.G. Kristal aged-gouda style from Belgium on my plate is a winner with a beautiful finish and textures of salt crystals and melty cheesy flavor that goes perfectly with a glass of Sofie.

Cheese pairing plates © Spirikal for WhereNYC

This is comfort food at its best. My seatmate has opted for the Goose Island dark colored Parker Porter whose caramel and burnt sugar aromas make a wonderful match with the sheep’s milk. And finally, the other crowd pleaser is the Belgian Trappiste style pale ale Matilda. Its radiant, golden color and slightly hoppy, bitter note would be nice foil to a washed-rind cheese like Grayson or a French Muenster.

There were more pairings of cheese and beer following the lecture organized by one of the other cheesemongers including a wonderful Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill and a melt-on-your palette goat cheese that I washed down with my glass of Sofie. The finale was Adam’s molten, pungent cheese fondue which we greedily drizzled on our plates of roast potatoes, veggies, bread and pickles.

Goose Island beer and delicious cheese @Spirikal for WhereNYC

We take our final sips, bites and exchange a bit of small talk as the evening concludes. If cheesemongers are puppeteers and cheese are the characters in a cheese shop theatre, as Adam put it, then the result is pure, perfect harmony. And tonight will be another nice memory.

For upcoming beer events please visit Goose Island.

Review: The 2018 Big Chocolate Show

Cover image: Chocolat Moderne’s creamy display © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC Chocolate Show

Is there anyone who doesn’t love chocolate? Believe it or not, there’s a whole week in NYC that is dedicated to the rich tasty dessert, chocolate. The main event of the whole week is known as The Big Chocolate Show! This 2-day tasting event had main stage demos and classes taking place throughout the day. Now its third consecutive year, the Big Chocolate Show is an amazing showcase of sinful, creamy indulgence.

Chocolate On Maui © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

More than 200 chocolatiers, artisans, chefs, authors, purveyors and experts from around the world offering chocolate tastings and ticketed master tasting classes throughout this mouthwatering and festive weekend. 

Hopping from table to table, I must have jumped a couple pant sizes, trying different treats and stuffing myself with each bite. Some of my favorite goods were Cookie DOH Cones from The Dessertist, which had my favorite cookie dough in an ice cream cone.

Hudson Valley Marshmallow Co. had different flavors of marshmallows including salted caramel, which was to die for. Atlantic Confectionery Company had beautiful and delicate chocolate hearts. I tried chocolates with various ingredients such as ginger, lavender and quinoa.

Alyssa Tognetti (c) for WhereNYC

The Dessertist’s Cones – Alyssa Tognetti © for WhereNYC

And of course, who could forget Chocolate On Maui, the Hawaiian-based chocolatier who blends exotic flavors such as passion fruits and orange bringing a little acidity and Macadamia nuts for added texture.

A true delight. 

Arcay Chocolate from Venezuela © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

Other memorable twists included: Euphorium Brooklyn – a local artisanal chocolate maker who blends ingredients from Japan. The surprise was a Japanese plum or ume-flavored chocolate, inspired by the story of historical Japanese scholar/ poet/ politician around 9th century, Sugawara no Michizane. It was his poem about plum tree flavor as a melancholic memory that inspired the creation.

There were creative designs as well including the quirky Roni Sue’s Chocolates, whose beautiful chocolate bars decorated with dried fruits and swirled with white chocolate over dark chocolate to create swirls, reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting on a brick of chocolate.

Beautiful displays at the Big Chocolate Show © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

For fans of boozy chocolate delights, the Big Chocolate Show did not disappoint.

This year there is an entire 21+ section with chocolate spirits and cocktails- YUM, including the Saturday night event with the Cocktail Guru.  The Cocktail Guru & The Big Chocolate Show’s Decadent Evening of Chocolate & Cocktails is a curated two-hour walk-around tasting. Guests will visit stations stocked with an array of chocolate-friendly liquor brands that are paired with a selection of bespoke desserts and dishes made by NYC’s premier chocolatiers and chefs.

Punch from the Cocktail Guru Alyssa Tognetti © for WhereNYC

At the bar, chocolate purists and cocktail lovers can taste signature lines of chocolates while watching some of NYC’s finest mixologists shake, stir and serve custom libations designed to bring out the best in each variety. This event includes unlimited chocolate, pastry, spirit, and cocktail samples. I sampled a few of Jonathan Pogash’s cocktails. They were delish, of course.

Besides the oh so delicious chocolate, there were other vendors like rum brands, a fragrance house that made chocolate scented perfume and massages!  It was quite a day of pampering!

If you ever have the opportunity to go to The Big Chocolate Show, I highly recommend.  You surely won’t be hungry after. For more information about next year’s show visit: bigchocolateshow.com

Kei Hayashi contributed to this article.