#SCBDExclusive: #NJWFF Grand Tasting Recap

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This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending of the Grand Tasting at the 5th Annual New Jersey Wine & Food Festival better known as NJWFF with my boyfriend, Jason. The NJWFF takes place at the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, NJ.  The ride to Crystal Springs was breathless, even with the snow, which if anything made it more magical.

Jason & I at NJWFF

Jason & I at NJWFF

The event was huge and got a great crowd, each room filled with other foodies like us trying the best food and wine New Jersey offers. The amount of food we consumed was overwhelming and it was hard to take food pictures because it was so crowded and I couldn’t wait to get each sample in my stomach, but I still remember our favorites. Our favorite room was the Spanish charcuterie room that was just added on the weekend of the event. The men behind the charcuterie were awesome at answering at answering questions we had. Plus, the charcuterie was some of the best I’ve had.

Some of our favorite dishes we tasted were:

  1. Braised Short Rib from American Cut
  2. Bison Bruschetta from The Orange Squirrel Restaurant
  3. Filet Mignon with Truffle Creamed Spinach from Strip House
  4. Applewood Smoked Trout, with Compressed Apple, Pickled Breakfast Radish, and Celery Root Puree from Ho-Ho-Kus Inn

Those were just some dishes that stuck out to us at the tasting! It was great to see the chefs in their element! I definitely want to check out the restaurants mentioned above, since I haven’t. All of the dishes stood out to us because they were unique and memorable!

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Chef Jose Andres & I at NJWFF!

One of the highlights of the night, was meeting the chef of honor and legend, Chef Jose Andres. I even got a picture with him! He was so sweet and it was unexpected which made it that much better! After meeting Chef Jose we continued to explore the different food and wines a bit more, and catch some of the entertainment including a really talented tapper.

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It was definitely a night to remember and I would love to attend NJWFF again next year and try to stay at Crystal Springs if possible! We were both so proud to be from the great state of NJ with so many talented chefs!

Hope to see you at NJWFF next year!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

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#SCBDExclusive: Behind The Scenes & Lunch at DBGB Kitchen & Bar

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A saying I’ve learned to live by and well have always lived by is: when a good opportunity comes around, you should take it. Well almost two weeks ago, I was invited to go see the prep kitchen and get a behind the scenes look to the charcuterie and pastry program to Daniel Boulud‘s restaurants in New York City. I was invited to go with a guest so, SCBD team member Kelsey Jelling came with me. We could not put down this once in a lifetime opportunity and it was definitely a day to remember.

When we arrived to the prep kitchen in the East Village we were greeted by Lauren, who does the pr for all of the Daniel Boulud restaurants in the city. We were welcomed to enjoy some complimentary coffee & pastries before our tour began. I made sure I tried a croissant and some coffee and it did not disappoint. I was ready for the tour to begin.

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Our tour began by seeing where all the breads are made and packaged including making our own baguettes (which was the best baguette I ever tasted thus far). We also where the pastries are made and maintained before the charcuterie part of our class began. I was definitely starting to crave all the sweets I was seeing.

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Next, it was time to see the charcuterie department. We started off by seeing where some of the casing was done but then we went into the ‘cold’ room where all the important stuff goes down. We saw a how they make their famous rilette which we also got try and it was a delicious! A rilette is a mix of braised pork shank that was slow cooked for 48 hours, roasted vegetables, oil and seasonings.

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After we finished with the charcuterie part of the class, it was time for my favorite part, our lunch on the house at DBGB Kitchen and Bar. I’ve heard so many great things about Daniel Boulud‘s cooking and after attending the class I knew what I wanted to try. We started off with cocktails, since Kelsey and I both liked fruity cocktails, our waiter recommended The Dicken’s which was fruity with a bit of spice but was delicious and I’d definitely get it again.

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While we were looking over the menu and picking out our appetizers, we also got to meet Daniel Boulud, we were so in awe we didn’t take a picture with him but it was surely an honor. For my appetizer, I  tried the Fried Egg and Wild Mushroom Appetizer which was delicious and creamy, it was a perfect balance of egg and mushrooms. I decided to try the famous DBGD Dog, especially after learning about how all their hot dogs & sausages are made in-house, I was crazy not to! It certainly did not disappoint and was served with some delicious homemade fries. We also got a complimentary sausage de jamon sent from the kitchen, which was great!

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The Chocolate Only Cake

We were getting so full, but could not turn down dessert so I decided to get the ‘Chocolate Only’ Cake which is by far the lightest, most heavenly piece of chocolate cake I’ve ever had. It was a fun-filled, food day that I would never forget and I would love to come back and eat at DBGB Kitchen and Bar again!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

#SCBDExclusive Interview with Christina Aurrichio, Owner of Chi Flo

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This month, Christina Aurrichio, an FDU graduate like myself, launched an amazing new, up and coming fashion line, Chi Flo. The line is creative and unlike anything out there because of Christina’s passion and love for drawing and fashion. When I saw that she was launching the company and her premiere line, Grimm Street I had to get the 411 and have my readers get a first look because I see Chi Flo going places and you’ll probably want to buy your first shirt after you read this.

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Christina Aurrichio, Owner of Chi-Fl0
Photo Credit: Rob Roselli

SCBD: Thanks Christina for letting me interview you and give my readers the first scoop on your new line, Chi Flo. It’s great to see another peer and fellow Jersey Girl make their mark. Who or what inspired you to come up with Chi Flo?

CA: No problem Sara! Thanks for all the support and promoting, I’m very impressed by all you’ve accomplished as well. What inspired me to create Chi Flo was a mixture of things. I am very passionate about my artwork and always wondered how to properly display it. I also am very passionate about fashion and the whole city scene. You know—the girls in the city with a sketchpad  in their backpack, a cup of coffee in hand, and a keen sense of style…just trying to make it big. Chi Flo is all about the balance of my artwork, the fashion sense, and actual occurrences life occurrences. It also showcases my love for making light of bad situations. For instance, the BAD GIRLFRIEND shirt should be worn by girls with a sense of humor who have been maybe labeled as a Bad Girlfriend before, or just know how to joke about themselves. It’s just so much bigger than a t-shirt line for me, and I hope someday it catches on.

SCBD: How long have you been drawing for? What’s the best drawing you’ve made?

CA: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, maybe about 7. My big brothers and mother were always extremely creative and seeing them creating music/crafts/drawings made me want to do the same. I can remember looking at my Flinstones storybooks, loving the character Dino and just taking a piece of paper and drawing him. It was always an exciting challenge to get better at drawing every time I picked up a pencil. It still is an exciting challenge. I’ve never been classically trained in drawing. I think that says a lot as well.

My favorite drawing I drew would be the “Not Your Savior”.

SCBD: Chi Flo focuses on using original artwork, why do you think that’s crucial to any successful fashion line?

CA: I  think nowadays, every time you turn a corner someone is creating a new t-shirt line from scratch or a website that re-sells already made t-shirts the buyer purchased wholesale. Granted, I am supportive of anyone doing so. However, most of those people aren’t coming up with the designs themselves. They are either Google-imaging “skull and crossbones” or “graffiti letters” and just placing them on a shirt. Again, those people are smart and I support them. They may also sell faster because they sell shirts that are trendy with the times. But myself personally, I just couldn’t come up with another carbon-copy t-shirt line. I thought “I have the ability to create designs, why not use that to my full potential?” Plus, what’s better than wearing a shirt that no one else has? If I had a dollar for every shirt I see with an inverted cross, or a typical sugar skull, I wouldn’t have to hustle a t-shirt line!

SCBD: Chi Flo is not just a fashion line but it is also a lifestyle, what does that mean to you and your customers?

CA: When I say that Chi Flo is a lifestyle, I truly believe it is. Chi Flo sells shirts with meaning. For example, the “Not Your Savior” shirt is my favorite design because I drew it when I was going through a bad break-up. It was purely from my heart. To me, Chi Flo shirts are like listening to a good song. If you can relate to the lyrics, or in this case what the shirt says, then the design will jump out at you and mean so much more. Chi Flo is self-expression, but in a cute way!

SCBD: Your first line, The Grimm Street Collection is unlike any line I’ve seen. You’ve mentioned that every collection tells a story. What is the story behind The Grimm Street collection?

CA:The story behind the Grim Street collection is a blend of things. As I had mentioned earlier, I designed the Not Your Savior after a bad break-up. Literally, I couldn’t ‘save’ the other person and had to focus on myself. Next came the Bad Girlfriend. That was an “insult” thrown at me in retaliation. Why not wear it on my shirt then? After graduation and difficult situations, I started to find myself. I drew the Chief Flo as a representation of discovering who I was and my artistic ability. The Street Pigeon represents the cool-side to fashion and just feeling like a boss. Finally, the Smiths Tribute reads the words “Honey Pie, You’re Not Safe Here” . That’s my favorite line from a Smiths song. It represents power and rising to the top. Whoever was going to get in my way wouldn’t be “safe there”. That kind of thing.

Take a peek into The Grimm Street Collection (photos by Rob Roselli):

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SCBD: What shirt is your best seller?

CA: My best seller is the Street Pigeon! I think it is amazing how girls and guys both love the design. I give myself props for that.

SCBD: What’s your favorite shirt and why?

CA: My favorite is the Chief Flo because I truly think the design is beautiful. When I was drawing it on paper, I looked in the mirror so I could outline a face and hair (I was alone so I used myself as the face model). From there, I just drew everything else and made her a sugar skull. I think it’s great that people probably don’t know they’re wearing my face on their shirt!

SCBD: I ordered the Street Pigeon shirt and received it really quickly last week which was awesome. I loved the packaging and sticker that came with it. What separates Chi Flo from other designers out there? 

CA: Great to hear! I think what separates Chi Flo is the whole ‘hometown’ feel. I designed the shirts and everything. A good friend of mine, Rob Roselli, photographed the pictures. Another friend of mine modeled the pictures and more friends of mine will continue to model for me. I created Chi Flo strictly from what I know and love. I’m just not trying to be anyone else. The packaging ties in with the hometown feel because I wrap it myself and put in a thank you note signed personally by me.

SCBD: Chi Flo seems to be really taking off, where do you see Chi Flo in 5 years? 

CA: I hope it continues to take off. I need to constantly keep on top of the advertising and promotion. I stay humble and noticeably hopeful through it all. I have so much stock left still, but I knew I would. I took a big chance. Plus, it has only been two weeks since it’s launch date. I must continue to advertise and be creative. If I continue to do that, I hope Chi Flo will be sold in stores in 5 years. I’d also love to open a boutique with Chi Flo brand clothing. Let’s hope for the best.

SCBD: What are some goals you want to achieve with Chi Flo this year?

I’m so excited to continue to create more designs. The more I sell the Grim Street line, the more profit I can make, and the quicker I can come up with more shirts. I just really want people to love the shirts and recognize that I am an independent business owner and need to sell, sell, sell! I can’t wait to create hoodies for fall and cover-ups for summer. Stay tuned!

SCBD:  What’s one quote that motivates you everyday?

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better”

SCBD: Last, what’s one thing you’d like all the SCBD readers to know about Chi Flo?

CA: I’d like all the SCBD readers to know that anyone can rock Chi Flo and find the balance in their life. Chi Flo represents just that! Wear your heart on your sleeve and also wear art on your shirts. Self expression from deep within is SUPER important and don’t be afraid to be edgy. Stock is limited but there will be more as long as the sales go up! Chi Flo is a small business and needs YOU guys to help promote it! By people wearing Chi Flo, it sort of creates a little Chi Flo army. A bunch of people making a statement in favor of art, independent business, and staying Chi.

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I loved both of my purchases from Chi Flo, the Women’s Street Pigeon Crop Tee and neon pink beanie (pictured above) and I’m sure you will too!

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In honor of the launch of Chi Flo, Christina is offering Small Chick Big Deals readers an exclusive deal:

 Type SCBD into the code box at checkout to get 10% off entire purchase at Chi Flo from Monday the 18th-Wednesday the 20th! 🙂

Also be sure to sign up for the Chi Flo mailing list, here.

Happy Shopping and supporting Chi Flo! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

#DealAlert: 50% Exclusive Events by IAdventure.com for #SCBD Readers

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A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Chili Cook-Off held by Iadventure.com— it was a great time and I got to try some awesome chili. If you love Iadventure.com and the foodie events they have, I have good news…

SCBD is teaming up with Iadventure.com and offering an exclusive 50% off discount code to the following foodie events:

It’s easy just the click the link to the event (above) and when you purchase your tickets, put in the code  SCBD50 (all caps & ends with a zero) and you get half off your tickets!

Cheers to fun foodie adventures! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

 

 

Join Sailor Jerry Rum and Celebrate Bartenders Appreciation Day

 photo credit: lpliquors.com

photo credit: lpliquors.com

Sailor Jerry Rum is hosting their second annual Bartender Appreciation Day on December 8th in support of all those slinging drinks our way. I got to chat with Brand Ambassador Paul Monahan on this new holiday and its importance in our society.

 photo credit: christmasmagazine.com

photo credit: christmasmagazine.com

Why did Sailor Jerry introduce Bartender Appreciation Day?

We think bartenders are under appreciated. Think about it. They’re such an important part of a good night out. They have to be part crafts-person,  part showman, part diplomat. And they have to work some pretty rough hours – while we’re drinking and having a good time, they’re working. So at Sailor Jerry, we wanted to step up and start getting bartenders the recognition they deserve.

Why do you think it is important to have this day?

We believe it’s important to give people who work hard a pat on the back. Our namesake, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins worked tirelessly perfecting his craft earning him the title ‘the father of the old school tattoo’. This work ethic and dedication to one’s craft is something we strive to support and reward in all walks of life. As a rum, we spend a lot of time in bars — so we’re extremely aware of the innate awesomeness of the craft of bartending and want to celebrate it.

 What are some of your hopes for expanding this holiday in the future?

We’re in it to win it. We want to see this become a proper, widely celebrated holiday observed wherever there are bars – in other words, EVERYWHERE!

What are some fun ways our readers can celebrate?

They can go to the Sailor Jerry website and download petition posters, post cards and other stuff to help spread the word. They can check out our Facebook page to see what official events are going on near them. And most importantly, they can get themselves to a bar on December 8th, have a couple of Sailor Jerry’s – and give an extra big tip!

photo credit: sailorjerry.com

photo credit: sailorjerry.com

#SCBD Exclusive Interview with Aida Mollenkamp, Chef & Author of Keys to the Kitchen

A few weeks ago I was looking at cookbooks with my friend Ashley at Williams Sonoma. We came across Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp and we knew we had to get it! It has 305 recipes, 40 fundamental techniques, and 300 photographs & illustrations! It’s an ideal cookbook for any amateur chef since it covers all the basics.  Before Superstorm Sandy hit, I had the opportunity to interview Aida Mollenkamp about her first cookbook Keys to the Kitchen, life and following your dreams.

SCBD: Hi Aida, thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you and tell my readers about your new and first cookbook, Keys to the KitchenYou have always been passionate about cooking, which eventually led to you studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. What was your favorite experience while at Le Cordon Bleu?

AM: There are so many memories from Le Cordon Bleu that it’s hard to pick one, but they all seem to come down to the experience and interaction that the French culture fosters with food.

One of my favorite moments was when my classmates and I gathered in the middle of the night in order to visit the Marché de Rungis when it opened in the pre-dawn hours. Rungis is one of the largest wholesale markets in Europe and has whole hangars dedicated not just to one animal but to one section of the animal, like offal! It was the first time I really understood that nose-to-tail eating was a very real concept and that the French had been doing it for years.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Robin Jolin

SCBD: I’ve been thinking of taking cooking classes so I can be a better cook & writer. Do you think it’s a good idea? Why?

AM: Well, I think that it’s important to learn something new everyday whether it’s a shortcut on your way to work or trying a new food when you eat. I personally really enjoy classes and like working collaboratively so cooking school really gave me a lot. It may not be for everyone but my belief is you build a solid and then you’ll be able to find your own voice, be it on the page or in the kitchen.

SCBD: You’ve had tons of editorial experience, what was the best part of working for a food magazine like CHOW?

AM: That too comes down to the things I learned. CHOW was founded by Jane Goldman who has had an impressive editorial career that’s included Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, Wired, and Industry Standard. Her journalistic approach to food reminded us that food writing doesn’t have to be precious and that we can and should talk about it in plain terms. That concept imbued the whole editorial vision and allowed us a lot of creative freedom in our recipes, food photography, and story concepts.

SCBD: You have quite a record and had two shows. Ask Aida which aired on Food Network followed by foodCrafters on The Cooking Channel, what was your favorite part about filming? What was your most memorable segment (on both or either show)?

AM: Oh, the crew would be my favorite part about filming – you get to work with amazingly talented people and it really is a group effort to make a show come to life. As for my most memorable segment, that’s really hard to say as I had some seriously awesome experiences. On Ask Aida, it would probably be one of the first days when I was told to never stop or call cut and to leave that to the producer. I began doing the show intro and had a pan with oil heating on the stove. Well, I went on a little too long and the pan caught fire but I was thinking, “the show must go on.” The producer thought I had a screw loose but I was just trying to follow orders!

On FoodCrafters it’s really hard to say because each experience was really unique. I adored making orange marmalade in traditional copper pots with Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit  because her work is proof that attention to quality ingredients and detail really makes a simple product like a preserve that much more exceptional.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: Those eventually led to you writing your first cookbook, which I bought this past weekend Keys to the Kitchen. It’s a cookbook that covers all the basics that every chef should know along with some delicious innovative recipes. How does it feel to have your first cookbook published?

AM: It’s really quite surreal. Keys To The Kitchen has been over two years in the works yet nothing really prepared me for the publication day. A fellow food writer told me it was like having a baby and, though I haven’t had a child, I do feel like this book was almost as much effort, attention, and work. The fun part is that now I get to travel around and share this book with people and do what I love: encourage people to have fun in the kitchen.

SCBD: All the recipes look delicious, what’s your personal favorite in the cookbook? Which should I start with?

AM: The great thing about Keys To The Kitchen is you can pretty much start anywhere. If you’ve really never cooked before, I’d take it easy and make baked eggs or one of the pastas. If you feel like baking, the Sage-Maple Cornbread is a lot of flavor for minimal effort. And if you want to try something different and a bit challenging, try out the Caramelized Fennel Tarte Tatin.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: Why do you think it’s so important for every chef or just newbie cooks to know basic techniques?

AM: My other love aside from cooking is music, and many a great musician would claim that you can’t make it your own and riff until you know the basics. Those basic techniques function like directions on a compass, without them you wouldn’t really know which way you’re headed.

SCBD: What’s your favorite dish to cook?

AM: That’s a hard question because it’s constantly changing. If I’m in the kitchen, it’s almost always about recipe testing so I don’t have a ton of time to cook just any old thing. I do really enjoy doughs and pastas because it’s a really apparent payoff as the effort and time you put in directly results in the level of quality of the finished product.

SCBD: You have a cookbook tour going on, what should people expect at the tour?

AM: What’s really great about this tour is that I’ve got an assortment of events as we’re doing almost 40 events in nearly 20 cities. I’m traveling with Williams-Sonoma to do cooking demonstrations in a variety of their stores; I’ve been holding cocktail parties in locations such as urban farms; am collaborating with some of my favorite food stores for hands-on cooking classes; and am doing a number of ticketed dinners through mid-December.

My belief is you eat three times a day so you might as well have fun with it, keep in interesting, and know how to make a few things and all these events weave in those concepts.

SCBD: What was the last dish you cooked?

AM: Let’s see, that would be veggie tacos I made for the site yesterday. I have a series called Pretty. Easy. where I teach simple recipes and ways to dress them up or further simplify them and this month will be quinoa, black bean, and caramelized onion tacos.

SCBD: What’s your life motto?

AM: I aim to seek adventures – be it as little as a new nail color or as massive as a trip somewhere foreign – every single day.

Aida Mollenkamp, Photo Credit: Bonnie Tsang

SCBD: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone trying to break into the many facets of the food industry?

AM: Well, it’s a lot of hard work so do what you love. Think about why you want to be in the industry – if you like making food gorgeous, you should aim for food photography; if you like food science, maybe a test kitchen is for you – and find people doing those jobs. Ask them what they’ve done and how they’ve gotten where they are. Finally, always be willing to take a bit of risk to go after what you want – I started as an unpaid intern at CHOW because I wanted that badly to be a part of something new and different like CHOW.

SCBD: You’ve accomplished a lot in a few years, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

AM: To be honest, I’m just focused on the next 5 weeks. After that I’m going to need some serious rest and then I’ll start thinking about the long term future.

 Click here to order a copy of Keys to the Kitchen.

Aida Mollenkamp on Facebook & Twitter.

Be sure to grab a copy of Keys to the Kitchen!

It’s a cookbook I highly recommend– happy cooking! 🙂

A Gem in FiDi: Battery Place Market!

About two weekends agp, I had the pleasure of going to Battery Place Market in the heart of the Financial District.  It’s unlike any market I’ve seen, filled with organic & unique groceries. It’s perfect for a foodie, who isn’t afraid to venture out of their comfort zone or even just wants a specific product that they carry, and they carry a lot! 🙂

It’s not just a market, you can also sit in their seating area in back and eat dishes made by Executive Chef Robert Sckalor.

From early morning breakfast sandwiches and frittatas using only the finest artisanal products, to a lunch that includes hot dishes or sandwiches on Sullivan Street or Orwasher’s breads, to picking up a dinner that has local or organic chicken, beef, fish, pork or vegetarian dishes that will warm the soul, Chef Robert  Sckalor creates it all. Sckalor has been cooking for the last 37 years in such establishments as the Waldorf Astoria, Agata & Valentina, and the Four Seasons. He cooks what many consider the best prepared cuisine from a specialty food shop in New York City.  The New York Times praised his incredible crab cakes and DOWNTOWN Magazine‘s staff enjoyed the first batch of Chef’s homemade turkey chili and according to the magazine, “One bite and you are hooked!” Chef Rob also teaches a weekly cooking class at PS-IS 276 across the street from Battery Place Market.  He just loves watching the kids help make unique dishes and seeing them and the teachers eating everything!

I was welcomed into the market to an amazing cappuccino to warm me up since it was cool that weekend. After getting a tour of the market, I had the pleasure of trying Chef Robert’s Kobe Beef Brisket on a light roll with his homemade coleslaw which was delicious for lunch. I was also able to try Mamma Chia which I really enjoyed since they have so many one of a kind products at the market. The brisket was unlike any brisket I’ve tasted & I could definitely taste the difference in the beef.

I was fortunate to meet the Chef during my visit who told me himself, “I am alway working on twists on classic dishes and utilizing the finest products I can find. The best thing about this market is working with awesome local and national vendors. It’s unlike any market you’ll find in Manhattan.”

The great thing about Battery Place Market is that they have tons of organic and non-organic products available. I was in heaven seeing so many products available to cook with and products you can’t get just anywhere– one of my favorite was the Jersey tomato ketchup, being that I am a Jersey girl.  There were also tons of things I was interested in using to cook with like fresh truffles, a full selection of organic and local NYC vendors and more.

Chef Robert’s Kobe Beef Brisket & homemade coleslaw from Battery Place Market.

I really loved it and would definitely get my specialty groceries there! I also would love to try more of Chef Robert’s dishes. I was extremely impressed with the brisket and the coleslaw. I would love to try more of his Kobe beef entrees and sides.  So if you are looking to find one of a kind, unique, or even organic groceries– go to Battery Place Market. It’s also a place where you’re welcomed to shop on an empty stomach because you will surely be satisfied by any of Chef Robert’s dishes. Compliments to the Chef on his unique dishes!

Insiders Note: They also have a smaller market that serves up the same great products right under the Goldman Sachs building– it’s located at 240 Murray Street  (North End Way)! Make sure you check it out!

Well, I have tons of more on the way– stay tuned!

Happy Eating! 😀

*Disclaimer: The PR team paid for my meal. I was not required to write about these experiences and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*