It’s been quite a while since my last post. Over two months, actually. My friends and family have been asking if I quit. And as I approach the one year anniversary of launching this blog, I find myself a little bit perplexed.
First, let me backtrack a bit and recap the last few months. Since the big anniversary dinner(s) (remember how we sort of had three dinners in one night? – embarassing), a lot has gone on:
- I went to Vegas for a Bachelorette weekend. And while nightclubs and famous DJ’s are not my personal style, it was a very special weekend for me because of the lifelong friend who I was there to celebrate. We stayed in Planet Hollywood, ate and drank at some delicious spots, spent our days at only the trendiest of pool parties, and nights at the equivalently cool clubs. While I may not remember the epic DJ-ing skills of David Guetta or Avici, I will remember every moment I shared with my dear friend, Courtney, on this trip. When I came home, Justin had prepared for me a feast of anchovy pesto bone marrow and oysters. Courtney tied the knot in June, had a breathtaking ceremony and reception, and I was lucky enough to be her maid of honor. I didn’t even screw up my speech (something I have had anxiety over for the last 27 years) – pretty awesome.
- We checked out Willow (from the owners of the Pines) in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn – a tiny but cozy hipster haven with unique and delicious foods. A small selection of cocktails, but very solid choices. We’re definitely excited to go back. Four stars.
- Maison Premiere in Williamsburg: Ok, first we got cocktails at the nearby Salt + Charcoal. And then indulged in a few more cocktails plus some outrageous dishes at Maison Premiere. Be sure to get a reservation if you decide to try it; the place was great. Beautiful decor, and delicious food. The waitress could have smiled a bit more, but hey, you can’t win them all. Three stars, here.
- We checked out a vender showcase at Industry City, in Brooklyn – a really different and fun night out – and then stopped back to one of our favorite Brooklyn spots, Prime Meats, for spatzle, sausage, octopus, and tartare – yum.
- Nice family dinner at another favorite – Carol’s Cafe – on Staten Island for a belated Mother’s Day feast: get the caramel shrimp, the beef wellington, the duck breast, and the mussels. Flavor explosion.
- I travelled to Savannah, Georgia, for another bachelorette party, which included a haunted pub crawl, a bike tour/bar crawl, and some very special karaoke and dancing. This was my first time flying alone, so I am proud to say that I not only survived, but found my friends easily and had another really special and amazing trip. Christina will be tying the knot in August, and while I am truly excited for her and her fiancé’s embarking on a new life together, I am also really excited about the food and party that comes with it – I am certain it will be an epic wedding.
- I met Justin after work for a happy hour at Church Street Tavern – eh. Overpriced.
- We checked out the Staten Island Advance winner of best restaurant, Bin 5. I had been to this joint before a few times, but not in a couple of years. We did the gnocchi special, surf and turf, and some other appetizers. The food was really good. But if you go here, take a cab, because you are going to discover what I have deemed to be the finest cocktails available in Staten Island. Outrageous, perfectly crafted, perfectly balanced, and with the best quality ingredients. This meal was a great experience, but the cocktails put it over the edge. Four stars for that.
- Pizzeria Giove has become a “regular” spot for us. Joe and Pat’s still holds my award for best pizza in Staten Island – their sweet sauce and thin crust is unbeatable. But if you’re looking for a specialty pie, head over to Giove’s and you will not be disappointed.
- In early June, we returned to a favorite cocktail spot in NYC – Distilled – before a beautiful meal at the renowned Batard: the sweetbreads, the tagliatelle, the veal tenderloin. Everything cooked to perfection and served so elegantly, but without that cold/lifeless vibe we got at Gramercy Tavern. Four stars here, as well – this has been a four star couple of months.
- Another visit to the Cannibal in NYC to finally devour the famed Cannibal Dogs, tiger style: beef hot dogs topped with a spicy tripe chile. This along with various tartares (both lamb and steak), a pig’s head terrine, and a selection of beer that left me drooling, earns The Cannibal a hands down five star Baconboozer rating. It’s just the coolest place ever. On the same night we also returned for a few fancy cocktails at Dear Irving (I love that place) before heading to the AWOLNATION concert just a few doors down, at Irving Plaza. I didn’t expect much from the band. I kind of thought they’d suck live. But it turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve seen recently. Awesome. Their newer single “I Am” has been stuck in my head for two months.
- For an extra special celebration, my brother took me, Justin, and our parents out for a great meal at Staten Island’s Nurnberger. With his upcoming Oktoberfest themed wedding, this was a nice foreshadowing. The food is great, especially the sausages. Three stars.
- Justin and I ventured to the Stress Factory in New Brunswick with his siblings for a hysterical night with Sebastian Manascalco. I had never heard his stuff before, but being from Staten Italy myself, his old country humor was on point.
- Max’s Es-ca on Staten Island surprised us with some very strong cocktails and some pretty delicious food, especially the pasta, and the filet mignon bruschetta. It’s also nice to have a local option for fresh oysters. Three stars for you.
- I checked out Staten Island’s Basilio Inn with my mom, for a special girls’ night out: soft shell crab (a little over-battered, but delicious) and the fried zucchini flowers were delicious. The pasta, though, was really out of this world. Four stars.
- On July 16, Justin and I saw the Foo Fighters live at Citi Field. Yes, we got the rare chance to see them on the broken leg tour. And while some people may think that we probably got robbed of a fully awesome performance from them, I think they only rocked harder with the setback. Before the show, we checked out Blue Smoke for a pimento cheese covered brat, a pulled pork sandwich, and some corn bread. A few Goose Island beers washed that all down. And then we settled into our section for what turned out to be a three hour set of non-stop perfection, including a few songs with Bad Brains. Dave Grohl had a halo of rock and roll godliness around him, which may have just been the lights from his portable throne. But I fell more in love with him and drummer, Taylor Hawkins, with each and every scream. My only gripe, Citi Field, is that your parking egress is the most painful and torturous experience to have to deal with after a night of glorious rock.
- We returned to our five star earning Brooklyn favorite, Traif, a little bit fearful that they wouldn’t live up to the magical memory that we had of them. But do not fear – Traif – you measured up to, and maybe even beat our previous experience with your pork belly terrine, tender sweetbreads, and wackily delicious buffalo frogs legs. And your rude little pig cocktail remains one of my all time favorites.
- My birthday passed and Justin surprised me with a package of Prestat chocolates and bar goodies from Cocktail Kingdom (copper bar spoon, gold plated toothpicks, and gold rimmed coupes). To celebrate the birthday, we did a meal at Staten Island’s Enoteca Maria. After that meal, I am pissed that I didn’t go sooner. I had always heard great things about this place, but I sort of expected just another Italian restaurant in Staten Island – for those of you who aren’t from here we have about one thousand of them. But this place, holy crap. The menu was absolutely full of amazing options with ingredients I thought I could only find in the city. We settled on razor clams, veal tails, tripe, a lambs head, and an artichoke ravioli. But the other choices: sweetbreads, testicles, livers, hearts! Plus plenty of “safer” options for the less adventurous eaters: the meatballs looked perfect, and people were raving about the stuffed eggplant. The wine selection (there’s only beer and wine here) was extensive and reasonably priced, with tons of really good options in the $30/40 range. Just beware – it’s cash only. This is a new local favorite for Justin and me, easily earning the coveted five star Baconboozer rating – we cannot wait to go back!
- I also don’t think I’ve taken the time to write about one particularly devastating loss: Rest In Peace, Alor Pasta. We were horrified to learn of the shut down of our regular dinner place a few months back. However, we have had the opportunity to discuss the situation with the Chef and owner, Alex Orman. While Alor Pasta was a side/specialty spot, Chef Alex is still operating Alor Cafe, on Richmond Road in Staten Island. You may recall that I had written a review on Alor Cafe a while back – and it was not a great one. But I must say that with Chef Alex’s renewed focus on his original restaurant, the place has completely won us over. The decor may be a little eclectic and a little funny, but they are working on that with some beautiful upgrades in the space. Despite the decor, similar to the Pasta place, the food simply speaks for itself. Justin and I are continuously surprised by the quality of and the innovativeness of Chef Alex’s food. While we are in the process of trying every item on the menu (and have yet to be been disappointed), some of our absolute favorites include the calamari salad, house made burrata, steamed clams (the coconuty sauce with pretzels on top is literally drinkable), the smoked dumplings, the seafood crepe, the duck schwarma, fish tacos, papardelle, and the cheesecake crepe for dessert. And we are so, so happy that Chef Alex is beginning to incorporate some of his Pasta place’s best sellers, like the mushroom tagliatelle and a rotation of ravioli specials. Despite the initial shock and pain, Justin and I believe that the closing of Alor Pasta may have been a blessing in disguise. Because the food that is coming out of Alor Cafe’s kitchen, now, is the perfect balance of both restaurants, with a level of focus and passion that can be tasted in every single bite.
With all of this being said, I should also say that my “real job” has been incredibly busy. Working a full time school-based position, with nearly 30 therapy sessions a week after school, has sort of taken over my life. Justin and I are hoping to buy a new house, and have big (actually huge) plans ahead of us with regards to our relationship and our careers. I have had a lot on my plate both literally and metaphorically.
The question is: how do I make this blog thing work, logistically? It’s something that I love to do, and I refuse to give up on it. So, I’ve taken some inspiration from Chef Alex and decided to re-focus and downsize. Where I was originally doing a Facebook page, twitter, Instagram, yelp, and full blog articles with photos of every item and every menu, I am scaling back. I’m focusing now only on the Instagram and the blog. I’m starting to really enjoy the photography aspect of what I’ve been doing, so I’m keeping that alive with the Instagram – follow me @bacon_boozer. And then this blog will serve as a sort of journal, where I’ll write much briefer blurbs about my experiences: what our favorite and least favorite dishes were at restaurants, what cocktails you MUST TRY, what band sucked and what venue… that kind of stuff. It may be individual blurbs on a regular basis, or it may be monthly recaps – I’m still working out the kinks. But I am still here, I am still hungry, still thirsty, and I am still very happy and thankful that you are still reading!