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: 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: “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: 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.

Review: FIAF’s 2018 Bastille Day on 60th Street

Cover image: © WhereNYC

Crême brûleé © WhereNYC

Like Christmas, FIAF’s Bastille Day block party is an annual tradition that New Yorkers never miss. For me, however, it was my very first. This year was different. I was excited to go, and I sure picked a great year to attend. Not only was I able to experience this French block party of delicious food and desserts but able to catch this year amazing win by les Bleus for the 2018 World Cup with fellow Francophile compatriots.

Live Street Music © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

As I got there with my hot date, we decided to walk down 60th street where were greeted by French vendors ranging from crepes to free Nespresso to musical artists engaging the crowd to dance. This year’s celebration stretched over four blocks, longer than previous years. Each booth in every corner showcased something new and different.  There were French pastries, tourist offices and boutiques dazzling crowds with promotions and delicious goodies.

Champagne Party Ticket © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

 

Noticeably after we passed the rainbow of balloons, we saw a gigantic screen and a crowd of strangers huddled together watching the World Cup final between France and Croatia. It was a picture perfect year with les Bleus’ 4-2 win, and the subsequent burst of joy right on 60th Street.

FIAF’s Bastille Day indoor events also provided a much needed relief from the summer heat and celebratory screaming crowds. After a while, we headed to the VIP Lounge at Amali, 115 E. 60th Street. That is where we met some amazing different writers to mix and mingle with. We sipped on wine, some Perrier, refreshing limonade and ate delicious bread and cheese — including Brie, my favorite!

Sporting their summer’s best at FIAF’s Bastille Day © WhereNYC

In addition to the beloved cheese and wine pairings in the lower level hall of FIAF, the Champagne Tasting at Le Sky Lounge on the top floor was like entering a luxurious world full of delicious bubbly and chocolate. My guest and I were given a ticket that allowed us to have one decadent dessert from each exhibitor. As for the champagne, it was a rare treat to sample from some of the lesser known winemakers. There were exceptional sparkling champagnes from Pol Roger, Ayala, Champagne Delamotte, and Besserat de Bellefon, as well as refreshing, sparkling cocktails made with Grand Marnier. We nibbled delicious macarons from world-famous Ladurée, decadent chocolates from Voilà Chocolat, and sweet dessert from Maman Bakery.

Grand Marnier cocktails © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Voilà Chocolat was a lot of fun and a neat concept of DIY truffle dipping. The company brought their station to make Bastille Day truffles. I got to pick my own truffle dip it with chocolate and decorated it with a fancy FIAF topping. Not only was it fun to make, but très delicious!

Bastille Day Truffles © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

Jazz singer Chloé Perrier entertained the Sky along with favorite French and American songs from the 1920s to the 40s. It was definitely the icing on the cake and really made the tasting classy.

This was definitely a wonderful experience to remember. As always with mingling over a glass of wine at an event like this one, you meet new friends and discover something new. I plan to keep in touch with some of the people I met in the VIP lounge. If you decide to come next year, it is free entry to block party, food and drink available for purchase. But the real fun and decadence happens indoors with the extraordinary champagne and wine tasting events that are worth their price tag.

For information on upcoming events in the fall including the must-attend annual open house, be sure to visit FIAF.

Review: Japan Society 20th Annual Sake Lecture & Tasting: Unorthodox Variations

Cover image  © WhereNYC

After countless sushi sessions midday with my partner in food crime, I’ve developed a taste for a warm, yet delicate cup of sake. This warm rich treat has quickly become a staple with my spicy tuna roll.

John Gaunter, presenter and editor of Sake World is the face of Japanese sake in America. © WhereNYC

Now, as a self-proclaimed spirits connoisseur, I’ve gone to several whiskeys, beers and wines, but never have I ever made the effort to go out to taste sake. I decided to investigate. Each year the Japan Society hosts an annual sake talk and tasting with 30 types of premium sake. I knew I had to go.

The night was kicked off by industry expert and Sake World editor John Gauntner with an informative discussion on the unorthodox variations of sake. Gauntner delves into the pros and cons of these sake anomalies and examines how they stack up against the tried-and-true standards. He went through the different types of sake and explained the different types of sake to the lively crowd. As he continues, it opened my eyes to the many different variations of this drink. I never heard of red sake. Sparkling sake? I did not know that it was a thing, but as he went on I knew I must try each variation. After some lively Q&A, John Gauntner invited each of the brewers on stage before the main event– the tasting.

Sake © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

So after the presentation, it was time to finally try the different variations! The Japan society was arranged with several tables with brewers. They had all the northern sakes located in the north part of the building and the southern sakes in the South part of the building. The building itself is gorgeous with a bonsai tree in the build of a fountain.

I carefully took note of each sake, in order to understand the different notes in liquid. Each was unique in its own way. As I went from table to table, I learned to distinguish different notes. I tasted crisp, citrus, and fruity sakes to name a few! The crowd became super friendly as we all tried the different brewer’s creations. Some notable standouts included Kirin Hizoshu from the Kaetsu brewery in Niigata which was enclosed in a beautiful blue bottle that looked too beautiful to drink. The was a cold sake Hanagaki Usunigori Junmai Daiginjo that crisp and as white as snow.

Kirin Hizoshu © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

If you thought this event exciting, then the Japan Society is something you should look into. The Japan Society host many unique programs to immerse people into Japanese culture. It’s an American nonprofit organization supported by individuals, foundations, and corporations that bring the people of Japan and the United States closer together through mutual understanding, appreciation and cooperation. More than a hundred years after the Society’s founding, its goal remains the same—the cultivation of a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. To learn more about the Japan Society for more information on programs and events at JapanSociety.org.  

Hanagaki Usunigori Junmai Daiginjo © Alyssa Tognetti for WhereNYC

After this event, I know I more confidence to taste and order sakes. I plan to incorporate more sake into my diet in the near future.