This is the grueling time of year, bitterly cold and no present-filled holiday on the horizon. I don’t think I’m alone, when I see people fresh from a Caribbean vacation, in barely suppressing the urge to slap the tan right off their faces.
Since I don’t have a beach in my immediate future, I’ve assembled my favorite transportative flavors. These are what I turn to when all those vicious vacation ads crowd the airwaves.
Dark and Stormy at Restaurant North
Owner/Wine Director (and secret-weapon mixologist) Stephen Paul Mancini, is putting some elegance in this take on the classic Caribbean cocktail. Instead of the traditional Gosling’s Black Seal rum—or tacky spiced rum rep’ed by a pirate—he uses the more esoteric, Guatamalan Ron Zacapa Centenario dark rum, which is aged in sherry barrels. It’s added to prickly Baritts ginger beer, and Mancini’s own simple syrup infused with cinnamon and star anise. A splash of fresh-squeezed lime juice adds freshness, and the result is reminiscent of a tropical escape.
Jerk Chicken Wings at Alvin and Friends
Jerk. I crave it, with all its habañero heat. Here, in breezy rooms hung with paintings of Caribbean scenes, complexly spiced, fiery jerk wings are contrasted with sugary plantain dipping sauce. If you’re wise, you’ll also opt for the refreshing glass of rum punch.
Blistered Shishito Peppers at Half Moon
This huge pile of plancha-seared peppers is the perfect partner to beer and cocktails. They’re salty, a little spicy, and strangely fun to grasp by their tiny stems and snap off with your teeth.
Fish Taco at bartaco
Fish tacos are the ultimate cult food of surfers; they’re cheap, healthy, and only available at the best, most stunning breaks. The wizzes at Barcelona have distilled surfer cool at bartaco, offering perfect, light fish tacos served on 1/8th sheet pans with wedges of lime. I tell you, after these, you’ll be shocked when you emerge from bartaco to see dirty, old snow.
Boquerones Crostini with Tomato and Chermoula at Fig & Olive
Yes, please! These tart, white, Spanish anchovies just taste like the sunny coast of Spain–and, here, they’re paired with Moroccan spices for the ultimate vacation-in-a-bite. You’ll think you’re in Màlaga (holding a ticket to Morocco).
I know what you’re thinking, Festivus occurred in December(ish), but it turns out that late winter is the season for charitable wine and food benefits. These local events are perfect for all out partying, though we suggest some elbow spikes to fend off buffet maniacs.
Hudson Valley Bounty (A Benefit for the Hudson River Museum)
January 27th, 6pm
From $500 for 2 at Patron level, to $7500 per 10 person table at Executive Chef level
Mingle with the County elite at the stunning Hudson River Museum, while six of our culinary luminaries entertain you with a fabulous feast with wine pairings. Scheduled for star turns are Vincent Barcelona (Harvest on Hudson), Eric Gabrynowicz (Restaurant North), Peter X. Kelly (X20 Xaviar’s on the Hudson), Ethan Kostbar, (Moderne Barn), Mark Kramer (Susan Lawrence) and Maarten Steenman (La Tulipe Desserts). Chef Peter X. Kelly is the event’s Honorary Chair.
Upper Westchester Food & Wine Festival
January 30th, 2pm-6pm at Cortlandt Colonial
$45 in advance, $55 at the door
This benefit sponsored by the Rotary Club of Cortlandt Manor promises a wide sampling of local restaurants and bakeries. For information and advance tickets, contact Evan Liaskos, chef of Cortlandt Colonial at (914) 739-3900.
And Coming Soon:
Great Chefs, a Benefit for Greenwich Hospital, Honoring Daniel Boulud
March 4, 6:30pm-11:30pm at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich
$200 (Friend), $500 (Patron) and $750 (Benefactor)
This all-out foodie fantasy slings the crème de la crème of Westchester, Greenwich (and even Manhattan) food, with famed NYC Restaurant Daniel participating, and its chef/owner/namesake being honored. Look for wide variety of local food highlights – like Sonora, Barcelona, Bedford Post Inn, Douro Restaurant, Don Coqui, Tarry Lodge and Tarry Wine, AOC Fine Wines, Q Restaurant & Bar, and Nessa – all slinging copious food and bev to the assembled, well-heeled masses.