Review: Eater’s Young Guns Ode to Princess Pamela

Imagine going to a secret dinner party in a NYC apartment with plenty of soul food and entertainment to top off the intimate affair.

Princess Pamela Display (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

Believe it or not, this was a regular occurrence in the 60’s in NYC’s alphabet city, where Princess Pamela took in some of the city’s shunned and fed them. Her dinner parties are legendary and recently has had a resurgence in the last few years due to Rizzoli’s release of her cookbook. To further honor her incredible deeds (and legendary parties), Eater dedicated a night of their young guns series to her.

I was invited to one of three events a part of the Young Guns series. Since 2012, Eater has honored up-and-coming talent in American hospitality through the Eater Young Guns franchise – the annual search for the most inspiring young chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, managers, and hospitality professionals in the country. The Young Guns are under the age of 30 or have to have been in the field for less than five years.

Doors to the party (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

In late July, Eater hosted its first-ever massive consumer event – the Eater Young Guns Summit – bringing the EYG franchise to life, with Grey Goose as the premier sponsor, with impactful panels around the future of dining and restaurant culture, with a focus on inclusivity and diversity, for 800+ attendees. Speakers of note included chef Marcus Samuelsson, Amy Sedaris, and NYT bestselling cookbook author Alison Roman. There was also a bustling marketplace featuring the latest and greatest from the food world, from snacks to kitchenware and more. Eater designed three pop-up dinners as a part of the EYG Dinner Series, in partnership with Young Guns, who also host these dinners.

Yummy food from the evening (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

Eater’s Ode to Princess Pamela was surrounded by a lot of secrecy. Attendees did not know where the event was being held until the day before. Then when the email arrived, it was like getting the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Fig 19 was the place to be to Thursday.

Amanda Kludt, the Editor-in-Chief of Eater (c) Eater

As I entered, there was a bare room filled with food and a set up with photos of Princess Pamela.

The food included oyster, collared greens, crab cakes and cheese grits. Food I haven’t had in so long but hit the spot. Each of the items was curated by Eater’s Young Guns from Princess Pamela’s cookbook.

Harlem Highline (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

Grey Goose was a sponsor to the event, offering two great cocktails, the Black Berry and the Harlem highlife. Each had a different vibe and highlighted different aspects of the spirit.

Francesca Chaney of Sol Sips took the mic and explained why she chose to do an event based on Princess Pamela, a figure who’s only become popular in recent years. She also informed us that some of the music from the band tonight actually came from Princess Pamela’s cookbook. We also heard from DeVonn Frances from Yardy and Amanda Kludt, the Editor-in-Chief of Eate

DeVonn Frances from Yardy (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

These are the first of the Young Guns series. Keep your eyes out for more of their fabulous events.

The Black Berry (c) Alyssa Tognetti from WhereNYC

Heart and Heat At Brisket King NYC

Cover image: Brisket King NYC © Kei Hayashi for WhereNYC

The Brisket King NYC 2019, Juicy Lucy, with the featured judges. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

The crowd was surging with energy Wednesday night (4/10) as they waited outside Biba of Williamsburg for the 8th annual Brisket King competition. Chefs from all over New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and even the United Kingdom came to show off their BBQ skills. Rows of uniquely crafted brisket filled the rustic space and certainly pleased the hungry patrons.

A packed house inside of Biba of Williamsburg for the Brisket King NYC 2019. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

The Brisket King NYC 2019 was Juicy Lucy BBQ from Staten Island featuring chefs Richie Holmes and Mauro Cheifari. Juicy Lucy, which is expected to open in early May on Staten Island, made a big impression at the competition with their brisket severed with an espresso barbecue sauce.

Patron, Trevor Jones, enjoying the winning brisket at Juicy Lucy. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

“We are just so proud and very honored to be here amongst all of these great BBQ places…Thank you guys so much, from the bottom of our hearts. We aren’t even open yet,” Holmes expressed, as they accepted the title of “best” in brisket.

Some of this year’s other chefs included Sruli Eidelman from Izzy’s Taqueria serving their brisket Taco and winning the Judges prize for “Most Creative Dish.”

“Most Creative Dish” being served by Izzy’s Taqueria. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

Serving their brisket with Yorkshire pudding and a horseradish cream, the Judges awarded the very particular prize, “If They Had Only Won the Revolutionary War,” to chefs John Gower and John Patterson from Quiet Waters Farm, traveling from the UK to compete in the Brisket King for their second year.

Winning “Best Classic Texas BBQ” was chef Ash Fulk from Hill Country Barbecue Market dishing up brisket with pickles.

“[They] put BBQ on the map for New York City,” according to Jimmy Carbone, The Brisket King’s Event Producer.

Brisket being prepared at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

“Thank guys. We like to smoke and cut meat,” Fulk simply stated as he collected his Judges’ Prize. There was also the legendary John Stage and Leland Avellino from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que dishing up their brisket tostada and winning the prize for “Best BBQ Innovation.”

“Many [people] started in the industry because of [Stage],” stated Carbone, and the crowd cheered in agreement.

A wide range of hot sauces being served by Rocket Fuel Hot Sauce. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

Also contributing to the events atmosphere were the delicious sauces at Rocket Fuel Hot Sauce and Just + Add Beer Sauce, as well as the wide variety beverages, like Pig Nose Scotch Whiskey, Mezcal de Leyenda, and Romilly Cidre , Normandie, France.

Pig’s Nose Whiskey perfectly complimented the brisket for the evening. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

This year’s People’s Choice Award and 2nd place winner of the Brisket King was Rob Cho at Kimchi Smoke.

Carbone paid tribute to Cho. “You’re a legend, man. You’ve been to so many events, [and] were just complaining because you never win anything. But you win every day. You’re the smartest guy here. You know what you’re doing. You’re showing people how to come into New York City and do a great job,”

“This one goes out to Jersey,” Cho shouted as he accepted his award[s], “We did it, finally.”

Chef Rob Cho preparing his Kimchi Tacos. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC

It’s undeniable how supportive the BBQ community is; whether it’s to celebrate the craft, honor the chefs, or to just enjoy eating some BBQ, the community always show up. About halfway through the event, a power outage occurred inside of Biba, and not even that could stop the people from having a good a time.

One of the most memorable prizes given out that night by the Judges was the “Hometown Hero” award. Chefs Shane McBride and Matt Abdoo from Pig Beach served the #ForChefJeff Brisket Sandwich, honoring Executive Chef Jeff Michner and bringing awareness to a fundraiser they held for his family, that following Saturday.

“A month before I was in the same hospital he was. Luckily, I made it out, [but] he didn’t.” Cabrone declared, emphasizing the importance of the community getting together to support The Jeff Michner BBQ Benefit.

A packed crowd inside the Biba of Williamsburg. © Sarah Monahan for WhereNYC.

And the BBQ community did just that.

So moved by the event, Pig Beach gave a little, heartfelt thank you on their website after the event: “On behalf of Jeff’s Family, Pig Beach would like to say thank you to all of you that made this event so wonderful and successful! Your support has overwhelmed us with love and gratitude and without you, this would not have been possible.”

If you came for just the BBQ, you certainly left with the feeling of being a part of a something much more.

If you would like to donate, please visit

Jeff Michner BBQ Benefit.

 





Yinka Shonibare: A Tale of Today at the Driehaus Museum

Some strange, beautiful sights have been spotted at the Driehaus Museum.

An absurdly vibrant, feast that only the likes of the Mad Hatter would have hosted. Six headless mannequins lounge around the table wearing beautiful African-inspired patterns, enjoying wine, oysters and quail eggs and a colorful headless waiter serves a feathered peacock on a platter. With matching flowers and upholstered chairs, the patterns are meticulously coordinated.  Strangely silent but full of noisy vibrancy, frozen in a moment in a time long ago, the dining room has suddenly come alive in this decadent display.

And in the library around the corner stands Big Boy – a giant, headless mannequin underneath the the skylight with a multi-pattern, colored jacket that Oscar Wilde might have sported. 

The Driehaus Museum located in Chicago’s River North is a homage to the Gilded Age, the period following the Civil War. Formerly, a show house for the Nickersons, a wealthy, influential family, which made its riches in the distilling industry and later the Chicago Railroad. The mansion has a new resident boldly changing our perspective of history.

Shonibares Big Boy, 2002 © Spirikal for WhereNYC

Like a mercurial time bandit, celebrated British artist Yinka Shonibare has invaded the Driehaus, rewriting the Victorian era in his latest installation. At first glance, it seems a humorous depiction of the latter 19th century with the use of vivid African textiles or presenting himself as the main character in the photo exhibits of scenes from classic Victorian age novels: Picture of Dorian Gray and Diary of a Victorian Dandy.

But Shonibare takes the viewer through multicultural historical journey.

“Fabricating history inbreeding race, class politics,” according the Driehaus, illustrates the artist’s interests in the Gilded and Victorian eras. The latter intertwined with artist’s Nigerian roots.

It seems unlikely that Shonibare, a man of African descent, would have been as wealthy as Dorian Gray, the artist.  His invasion of time, however, has inserted his own story into the narrative. 

Shonibare’s Boy on a Unicycle, 2005 ©Spirikal for WhereNYC

Yinka Shonibare as Dorian Gray © Spirikal for WhereNYC

Casting himself Dorian in the photo series on second floor, Shonibare gazes seriously into a mirror instead of an aging portrait, reflecting on his own mortality. (The artist had suffered a life-threatening illness at the age of 18.)

Nigeria was also a former British colony, and fabrics brought to the U.K. from Africa created a buzz among the country’s wealthy class. The outfits Shonibare uses for the mannequins reflects this. The African-inspired designs he uses ironically come Switzerland, Holland and the U.K. But rather that dismiss it as cultural appropriation, Shonibare believes they reflect Western Europes complex colonial history.

The Child on a Unicycle 2005 – is another headless surprise greets us by the stairs, sporting again the similar African patterns on 19th century-style clothing oddly blends in with the old Nickerson mansion. Like his other works at the Driehaus, Shonibare is not a cultural clash, but a personal journey of interwoven identities.

It is an odd journey, but Shonibare has given the 19th century a topsy turvy makeover by challenging us, as viewers, to rethink our understanding of the past. Western European and African histories are woven together, for better or indeed far worse, but both have influenced each other.

The exhibit continues through September 29, 2019.

Please visit the Driehaus for upcoming events.

Review: Brew Lab Tea x Scarpetta Botanical Cocktail Tasting

I’ve always passed Scarpetta in Nomad on my way to work wondering about the food and how the cocktails tasted. Then I was recently invited to Brew Lab Tea and Scarpetta’s Botanical Cocktail tasting to discover the wonderful world of tea cocktails.

The Violetta © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

At the event, I was greeted with  La Dolce Vita cocktail, a blend of the prosecco, vermouth and  Spring Trellis Syrup. It was a great starter to get my night going. While sipping on this tasty treat, I met Brew Lab Tea’s Founder & Tea Sommelier, Jennie Ripps who educated me about her brand and their partnership with The James Hotel Nomad’s restaurants Scarpetta and The Seville. Each of the cocktails served from Scarpetta’s Head Mixologist, Brad Carnation, a variety of spirits, teas, and botanicals.

The Violetta ingredients © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Each cocktail was more fascinating than the next. The No-groni is a unique blend of teas to make a virgin drink of this classic cocktail. The Violetta cocktail is an eye stopper of a cocktail due to its purple color from the pea flower tea syrup used. My ultimate favorite was the NY Whiskey Sour, a classic take on the New York Sour but with a malbec chai ice cube that transformed the taste of the drink after each sip.

NY Whiskey Sour © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

At the end of the night, I was able to leave by making a blend of the teas used for these cocktails. This parting gift will ensure that I make some of these sippable cocktails from the comfort of my own home.

Review: Driehaus Prost! Beer Culture and Chicago’s German Immigrants

Cover image: Metropolitan Brewery at the Driehause © Spirikal for WhereNYC

“It’s more fun to look at history through a lens of alcohol,” Liz Garibay, found of the Chicago Brewseum said raising her beer bottle to the audience.

Beer lecture and tasting at the Driehaus Museum © Spirikal for WhereNYC

We’re at the Driehaus Museum in River North for a lecture with Liz and Doug Hurst of local based- Metropolitan Brewery on the beer legacy of the German immigrants in Chicago. Their introduction of cold, crisp lagers and pilsners forever changed the industry.

For those unfamiliar with the Driehaus mansion on Erie and Wabash, its history dates back to the 19th century and is one of Chicago’s best museums devoted to exhibits revolving around the Victorian, Edwardian and Gilded ages.

The history of Chicago is “rooted in beer” explains Hurst. And the brewing industry dates back to the 1830s when Chicago was a fledgling township. There were only three main bars that stood by the forks of the Chicago River, and everyone drank British-style porters and ales.

The city of Chicago began to take shape. Waves of immigrants from Europe and elsewhere arrived including the Germans, among whom opened Chicago’s first brewery.  In the beginning, they produced mainly British ales, but by the 1840s, the demand for refreshing lagers grew as more Germans arrived.

Beer gardens began to spring up and cold lagers overtook the room temperature ales and porters. Chicago would even eventually open its first brewery school in 1872, a year after the Chicago Fire.

Pretzels, cheese et cured meats served for guests made a tantalizing display © Spirikal for WhereNYC

The city was seemingly on the cusp of a golden beer age with nearly 2,400 brewery projects. However, cruel backlash fueled by an unlikely alliance of the puritanical Temperance Movement and the anti-immigrant American, or “Know Nothing” Party, set forth to crush the brewing industry.  The city’s nationalist Mayor Levi Boone raised brewery licensing fees and restricted sales. The Germans along with other minority groups rioted.

Although Boone later lost in the next election, the beer industry never quite recovered because a series of setbacks. The second major blow was Prohibition. And even after 1933, the number of breweries continued to drop. The third, according to Hurst, was refrigeration and pasteurization, which the final coup de grâce to local  breweries as it became easier to transport cheaper, mass-produced beers from elsewhere. It wasn’t until the 1980s, when the craft beer revolution began with breweries such as Goose Island who introduced big, bold flavors.

As Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery once said, “Craft Beer is truth.” And more and more artisanal breweries began to surface, driven by a passion for genuine flavors. Today, there are 86 breweries in city, over a hundred in the Chicagoland area. While some have unfairly targeted lager as the watered-down enemy, Metropolitan Brewery has brought back robust German style beer with its Kölsch-style Krankshaft and Magnetron – an unusual dark lager.

While some Chicago breweries such Half Acre have gone the IPA route, Metropolitan has chosen to resurrect the city’s Germanic roots. And the region’s beer makers owe a lot to the German immigrant community. As Hurst put it, “Whenever you drink a Chicago beer, realize you’re drinking a lot of history.”

Visit the Chicago Brewmuseum exhibition at the Field Museum through January 5, 2020.

Don’t miss Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare’s upcoming exhibit at the Driehaus Museum, which opens March 2nd through September 29th, 2019.

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.