Passion is powerful and it’s the necessary ingredient to take something from being good to being truly outstanding, whether it be with art, music, or as in the case of Sweet Revenge in the West Village, cupcakes.
But Sweet Revenge is much more than cupcakes. It’s a cupcake, beer, and wine bar, yes, but what makes their particular blend of revenge so sweet goes beyond the menu- it’s the perfect combination of craft, ambiance, story, and community.
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These days, $1 won’t get you much. But at Two ‘N’ a Can Pizza in Midtown Manhattan, it can get you lunch! Nestled on 41st Street and 6th Avenue, this tiny pizza shop has amassed quite the fan base who will assure you that this is the home of the Best $1 slice in New York City. Best in the City decided to put Two ‘N’ a Can to the test this week, dropping in to chat with owner Johnny, about his pizza- making philosophy and why his pizza is indeed the best.
Johnny greeted Easy Mac, Ramen, and I with boundless energy and enthusiasm. He clearly takes pride in his establishment and continued working throughout the duration of our interview. Aside from being the owner, he wears additional hats- making the pizza as well as serving it to customers.
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For our second edition of Best in the City, the Grinding NYC crew stopped atMas Farmhouse in the West Village to chat with owner Eric Blinderman as well as sample a few of the day’s dishes.
“Mas” is a French term for a “country farming estate” and Mas Farmhouseoperates in this tradition, using only the freshest, locally grown ingredients from sustainable farms in the greater New York region. What’s more, Chef Galen Zamarra changes the menu daily, making every dining experience at Mas Farmhouse truly one of a kind.
The painstaking attention to detail was apparent immediately as I opened the massive mahogany door and stepped inside the space. The large picture window to my right bathed the bar area in sunlight, creating an open, inviting atmosphere. The staff extended this feeling with their warm, down to earth, reception.
As we waited for the rest of our party, my friend Bobbi and I decided to have a drink at the bar. She elected an iced, cucumber-mint-gin concoction while I opted for the grapefruit margarita- which was topped off with sugar and salt crystals along the rim, a small preview of the flavor parade that was to come.
We were soon greeted by Mr. Blinderman, who escorted us to our table in the back of the restaurant along with Americk and Nick. Our waiter was extremely attentive and took a few minutes to help us each select the perfect wine. (MyBouchard Aine & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2006 was perfect for the summer evening.)
To peak our appetites, we were first served a dish of mussels in a simple balsamic reduction, topped with a house made potato chip. It was a fantastic juxtaposition of soft and crunchy, dry and moist. The boldness of the chip also contrasted nicely with the oceanic subtlety of the mussels.
Next, we had a Smoked Tomato Gazpacho, with Grilled Shrimp, Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Radish, topped with a Basil Sorbet spiral. This dish changed Gazpacho forever for me. I may never be able to have Gazpacho again, in all honesty. The smokiness paired nicely with the sweetness of the Tomatoes, and the Radish and Grilled Shrimp added nice textural elements.
After relishing every last drop of Gazpacho, we were served Yellowfin Tuna l’Occidental, flashed with Beurre Noisette & Crispy Shallots. The nuttiness of the Beurre Noisette complimented the delicate saltiness of the fish; and the wild looking shallots added both texture and presentation points.
Perhaps the most refreshing dish of the evening was the Roasted Sea Scallops in Sweet Corn Soup. The Scallops were browned to gloriousness, swimming in a sea of Greenmarket Corn, Hon- Shimeji Mushrooms, and Tarragon.
Finally, my favorite flavor explosion of the evening was the Heirloom Tomato and Caramelized Onion Tart, baked upon a Parmesan Sablee with a Pine Nut Dressing. First of all, the sweetness of the Tomato and the Caramelized Onion paired incredibly well with the tanginess and crunch of the Parmesan and Pastry Crust. The Pine Nut Dressing added a smooth yet crackled finish.
All in all, my dining experience at Mas Farmhouse was exactly that, a diningexperience. My senses were taken on a journey of new, exciting aromas and flavors that made quite the impact on my sensual memory. The only drawback to this incredible restaurant is that if you have a favorite dish, it may be nearly impossible to savor it a second time, being that the menu is changed daily. However, in a city of schedules and routine, Mas Farmhouse is a wonderful escape to the unexpected.
Poco is one of my favorite go-to spots for a good time. When GrindingNYCapproached me about doing a food series entitled, Best in the City, I knew Pocowould be the perfect place to begin our culinary adventure. In addition, our timing couldn’t have been more perfect as my good friend and Poco Owner, Sara Grizzle, had a brand- spankin’ new menu to promote, dreamed up by their new head chef, Angel Bolano.
Being it was a Friday night and Poco is always a party, I decided to recruit a few of my favorite people to imbibe in the good vibes: Danny Larkin, Domenique Profir, Rob Melso, Amona White, and of course, my GrindingNYC boys- Easy Mac, Ramen, and George.
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