Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Fresh Start

To all my Nom Nom followers:
After much time and thought, I've decided to change things up and start a new blog, Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs!
It has been an amazing year, and one that I’m truly blessed to have experienced. From moving to New York City and attending culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, to starting a career in the food industry as a line cook at Pig and Khao, I’ve grown more than I ever thought I could.
For some of my amazing Nom Nom New York followers, I first want to thank you all for your endless love and support. I’m sure you’re confused why I’m starting this whole blogging process over again, and the answer is simple; I’ve grown. Nom Nom New York was about my journey moving to NYC and experiencing culinary school. Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs is about my new life in New York and working in the culinary world. I hope to retain my amazing Nom Nom readers, as well as gain new bloggers who want a little taste of the big apple and New York life, no matter where you reside.
And as for the blog name, it only made sense that I pay homage to the three necessities that my small, chef-pay check goes toward every month: coffee, cabs and bar tabs.
Feel free to check out the new blog at 
Here’s to a fresh start and new beginnings, cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Madison Square Eats

It's that time of year again...Madison Square Eats in NYC! 

Mad. Sqr. Eats is a semi-annual event where restaurants from all around the city come together for a culinary pop-up market. Pig and Khao participated in the market last May, and we are at it again this September. We are serving four different dishes: Lumpia (Shanghai Spring Rolls), Southern Thai Curry Chicken Wings, Pancit Miki (a Filipino Wheat Noodle Dish), and a Vietnamese Meatball Bahn Mi. The other restaurants and vendors are offering mouthwatering food also (believe me, I've tried almost all of it). Here are some pictures from Pig and Khao's booth, as well as some of the other hot spots around the market:

Pig and Khao

Young coconuts we crack open for you right on the spot with refreshing coconut water inside (add rum if you want to kick it up a notch!)

Pig and Khao's booth from last May with me and Leah inside
Nachos from Mexicue....enough said

Doughnuttery offers customizable mini doughnuts fried right on sight with toppings from cinnamon and sugar to Frosted Flakes. Let your imagination run wild!

L&W Oyster Co.
Fried oyster po boy and house-made tartar sauce from L&W Oyster Co. Unfortunately they are not a vendor this September, but I'm hoping for their return next May (fingers crossed).

Melt Bakery
Chocolate ice cream inside a chocolate cookie from Melt Bakery. Quite possibly one of the best I've ever had!

Other must-see booths to check out:

I hope to see you guys at Madison Square Eats! Cheers, and nom on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Amazing Opportunities at Pig and Khao

Last week I had the privilege to have a dish on Pig and Khao's tasting menu! The dish was tempura fried shrimp with crispy pork belly, strawberries, cilantro, and a citrus hot sauce. The dish was first inspired by the hot sauce I've made many times in the past. One night during service I made it for Leah, and she was excited to help me build a dish around it. What ended up on the menu turned out really beautiful and flavorful. I've never been more excited to have people taste my food, and the icing on the cake was the compliments a few diners gave me and the dish. Here's to many more flavor experiments and dish creations at Pig and Khao!

Citrus Hot Sauce Recipe

15 g Red Thai Chili, minced (seeds included)
10 g Garlic, minced
1 T Canola Oil
50 mL Lime Juice
125 mL Orange Juice
Zest of 1 Orange
25 g Granulated Sugar
1/2 can Chao Koa Coconut Milk
Salt to taste

1) In a medium size sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Once warm, sauté the chili and garlic until softened (be careful not to burn the garlic). Set aside to cool.
2) Once cool, add chili and garlic to a Vita Prep (or similar blender/mixer) with remaining ingredients. Blend until all ingredients are incorporated and sauce is smooth. 
3) Run the sauce through a fine chinois to make sure the hot sauce is as smooth as possible. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

** If the hot sauce is too hot, add more coconut milk and sugar to balance out the heat. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stone Barns: The Disneyland of Farm-to-Table Food

To round out our education at the International Culinary Center, we spent the week at Dan Barber's Stone Barns and Blue Hill, putting our farm-to-table knowledge to work. Here's an overview of what we experienced on the farm:

Day 1

We started off the week with introductions to various people on the farm. We also were given lockers so we wouldn't have to travel back and forth with our knife bags everyday. From Grand Central Station to the Terry Town stop is about an hour train ride, so it was nice not having to worry about lugging around our bags every day. We then went right out to the fields, observing the different veggies they were growing this time of year. It was interesting learning about what foods are in season and what was ready to be harvested. We then walked to one of the greenhouses on the farm, and harvested sugar snap peas. Eating produce right off the vine is a level of delicious that is hard to put into words. I wish everyone could eat naturally raised food directly off the farm and not all that factory-farmed shit (excuse my French). We even got to plant micro pea shoots that would be used in the restaurant once sprouted.

After our visit to the greenhouse, we walked over to where they harvest bees. If you don't know much about bees, I encourage you to learn more! Let me just tell you, they are incredibly interesting, I was amazed. We even got to put on the white bee suits as we explored the hives. I'm sure we looked a little ridiculous, but it was so much fun. We rounded out the day by meeting Adam Kaye and cooking in the Blue Hill catering kitchen. We learned about unusual grains and were challenged to create a dish using one or more of these grains. I made a spelt and emmer, savory pancake (recipe to follow at the end of this post).

Day 2

Day two was a rainy day on the farm, so we started off the day by meeting one of the farmers named Jack. He discussed some of the farming practices at Stone Barns, including the importance of soil. The better the soil, the better the produce. And the right soil for the right plant makes all the difference. The idea of crop rotation is very much practiced, and it was interesting learning about this aspect of farming. We then learned about the composting that happens on the farm. Stone Barns and Blue Hill are really a full-circle organization, from soil to stomach and back again.

Later in the afternoon we were back in the kitchen, this time with sous chef Mike. The challenge this day was to cook with some fresh produce from the fields, making it the star of our dish. I created a roasted asparagus dish with a lemon vinaigrette. Everyone was really creative with their veggies, and I was more than happy giving everything a taste!

Day 3

The third day at Stone Barns was probably my favorite day on the farm for a few reasons. To start, we  learned about pasture rotation. This is where the farmers move the different live stock on a regular rotation from pasture to pasture to ensure that the soil can be used in the most beneficial way. We got to help out with the pasture rotation for the day by moving the sheep from one area of the field to another. I just wanted to squeeze all of them, they were so cute! The second reason day three was so enjoyable was that we then got to enter the chicken coup and gather eggs from the laying hen's coup. I unfortunately wore shorts to the farm this day, and the chickens LOVE to peck your ankles, so lets just say I didn't last in the coup for very long. But it was so much fun gathering the eggs that we later used in the kitchen at Blue Hill.

In the kitchen that day, we broke down an entire lamb (again...full circle, farm-to-table). Every two people got one lamb, and we literally broke it down from head to tail. This was beyond fun for me because I love breaking down meat, especially whole animal butchery. Chef Adam was very impressed by our skills, so much that he kept a lot of the meat for the restaurant. It was awesome knowing that our efforts would be put to great use and actually sold to patrons. Day three was an awesome day and everything I hoped our week at Stone Barns would be.

Day 4

Day four was chicken slaughter day...a day I was not looking forward to. We actually had the opportunity to participate in slaughtering chickens they raise on the farm. It was very emotional for many of my classmates as most of us had never seen, let alone participated in slaughtering animals before. All in all, I think it's important to learn about this aspect of farming because it's reality; chicken doesn't just come wrapped in plastic like you see at the supermarket. Chickens are living beings we consume on a daily basis, and slaughtering is just a natural part of the process. In the afternoon we learned about charcuterie in the kitchen. We made lamb sausage from the meat we buttered the previous day. The kitchen work was fun on day four, but ultimately this was as enjoyable of a day for me.

Day 5

Our final day at Stone Barns started out with us venturing out into the field to harvest produce. We were told that we would be cooking family meal that day for 30 staff members at the farm, and we would need to go "shopping" for ingredients on the farm. We also were told that we had to have some influence from what we learned over the course of the week. I decided that I would make a dessert because I saw beautiful strawberries growing in the field. A strawberry tart came to mind, and I quickly decided to make a unique grain tart dough. By 10:00am we were in the kitchen cooking, and we had two hours to produce our dish. Working in a kitchen that you've never worked in before is a challenge because you don't know where anything is. However, the Blue Hill kitchen is stocked full with endless produce and equipment, so it was easy to get right to work. My tarts came out surprisingly well. The dough was flaky and the strawberries couldn't have been fresher. I would definitely make this recipe for your next dinner party (recipe below). Even chef Adam Kaye asked me for the recipe to put in the next Blue Hill cook book!

Overall, spending the week at Stone Barns and Blue Hill was a perfect ending to my farm-to-table program at ICC. I'm just ready to dive right into the New York food scene and put my skills to work!

Multigrain Pancakes
Yield: 10-12 medium size pancakes

6 egg whites
50g granulated sugar
210g AP flour
45g Spelt, ground finely
45g Emmer, ground finely
1/4 lb butter, cubed and softened
Pinch of salt

1) In a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, combine egg whites and sugar, then beat until soft peaks form.
2) Once peaks have formed, add butter and beat for only a few seconds until combined.
3) Remove mixture from the mixer, and gently fold in all three flours. Be careful to not over mix or the egg whites will deflate. Once combined yet still light and fluffy, add a pinch of salt and mix gently.
4) Cook pancake batter in a sauté pan over medium high heat until gold brown on both sides.

***These pancakes go great with a ricotta, lemon juice, and rosemary filling.

Multigrain Strawberry Tarts
Yield: 24 Tarts

For the Dough:
4 ½ cups AP Flour
3 cups Spelt, finely ground
3 ¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons sugar
3 cups (24 ounces) cold butter, cubed
1 ¼ cup ice cold water

1) Pulse AP flour, spelt, salt and sugar in a robo coup to combine. Add the butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form (about the size of a pea). Add the water until combined with other ingredients. Remove, shape, and refrigerate dough at least 1 hour (so the gluten can rest).
2) Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and shape into rounds, 5 inches wide. Transfer the rounds to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
1 lb strawberries
1/2 cup sugar

1) Cut the stems off the strawberries and slice lengthwise. 
2) Combine sliced strawberries with sugar and let sit for approximately 10 minutes to macerate. 

Finishing the Tarts:
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk

1) Fill each dough round with a 2 tablespoon amount of strawberry filling. Then roll the edges of the tart dough over the filling. This will prevent the filling from leaking out when heated in the oven.
2) After all the tarts have been filled and sealed, brush the dough with an egg wash so the dough will get nice and golden brown.
3) Bake the tarts for 30-40 minutes in the oven until dough is golden brown and flaky, and filling is warmed through.

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Foodie and Blogger is Back!

I'm back! I'm so sorry to leave you guys hanging, probable wondering if I fell off the face of this planet I call New York. But my itch to write was growing too intense, and I'm ready to continue this food journey with you all. The past month has been crazy and full of life changes, and boy have I missed blogging with my fellow foodies. I'll try to catch you up as quickly and with as little words as possible. Here goes nothing...

First, I graduated from ICC and finished my culinary school education! But right after we finished learning in the kitchen, we got to round out our journey by spending a week at Stone Barns and Blue Hill in Terry Town, New York. Stone Barns, as well as Blue Hill (the restaurant located there) are a part of the Dan Barber empire, and it's the ultimate location to put your farm-to-table knowledge to work. I would love to go into more detail about what we did on the farm and what I cooked in the kitchen, so count on a blog about my experience at Stone Barns to come soon ("strawberry multigrain tart with basil whipped cream" recipe included)!

Picking eggs at Stone Barns for the kitchen at Blue Hill
Since graduating, I've continued working as a line cook at Pig and Khao. It's been a wonderful learning experience working in another professional kitchen. I feel like I'm learning the cuisine and flavors more and more everyday, making me even more comfortable with the kitchen and restaurant. It's also incredible to see how kitchen's evolve so quickly and regularly, even just over the past month! I've seen a handful of cooks and FOH employees come and go. It's a tough business to get into and even harder staying in and gaining success in.

This brings me to my next thought and something I've come to learn over the past month...I have never worked harder in my life and I've never been so broke! I work full time (and very often overtime) late into the night, sweating my a** off, lifting forty pound boxes of pork jowl, and making little to nothing. It's crazy how cooks ever get ahead in the industry, but I know they continue work in kitchens because of one thing; they simply love to cook. Feeding people innovative and mouthwatering food that patrons come back for time and time again is an amazing feeling, and that's the reason why I keep coming back for more (no matter if I have to buy single-ply toilette paper for a little while).

The third major event that's happened to me since I last posted on Nom Nom New York is that I moved! By the way, moving in New York City may very well be the hardest, most infuriating, strenuous task I've ever done. There are so many apartments you could look for years. You also have to decide what area of the city you want to live in or if you want to live in an outside borough like Brooklyn). As well, you have to decide if you want a broker or if you want to do it on your own. Then once you finally pick a place, actually orchestrating the move can be a huge headache. Just imagine moving and buying furniture without a car...yeah, it's insane. It was a crazy few weeks, but I'm so happy with the apartment I ended up with. It's a studio apartment in the financial district, probably eight blocks from my last apartment. It's new and contemporary and has a more homey feeling. It's more comfortable and cozy all together, and I'm excited to continue my New York life here (P.S. I'm writing this post from my new couch now!).

Taking a break from moving, sitting in front of my new kitchenette
I also wanted to take a moment to thank my wonderful parents. They not only helped me move into my apartment and put up with stressed-me, they also helped this whole dream come true. I'm living in the greatest city, working and learning from amazing chefs, and none of this could have happened without them. I'm so blessed to have them as parents, mentors and confidants, so thank you mom and dad. I love you!

Finally, the last thing that has changed in my life since I last wrote is that I've decided to go back to school at ICC, but this time for food writing. I just can't seem to stay away! When I heard about the six week course taught by Alan Richman, I couldn't pass it up. I've actually already had one assignment where we had to pitch a feature story idea to Alan related to food in some way, and he told me he loved the pitch and if this were a real working publication, I would have gotten the job! So now I'm in the process of actually writing the story. I'll post the story on Nom Nom when it's finished.

The man, the myth, the legend...Alan Richman
Again, I'm so very sorry its taken me so long to write another post. Hopefully you can forgive me and understand that it has been a crazy month. Now that my life is a little more settled, I'l have many more posts to come, so stay tuned!

Cheers, and nom on!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Final Exam

It's been a few days since my final exam at the International Culinary Center, and I'm already missing my foodie friends so much! Over the past six months I spent every week, 9:00am to 3:00pm, with these amazing people. They not only taught me so much about cooking, they introduced me to New York and the city life. I'm happy to have found some life-long friends that I'm sure I'll share a meal  with many times down the road.

Reflecting back on my final exam, I wish I could say it was completely smooth sailing. However, I didn't start off on the best foot. At 8:30am my classmates and I entered the kitchen to take our final written exam. We had to write all the ingredients and procedures for our white gazpacho with pickled shrimp dish. The written test went fine, as we've made that dish so many times I could cook that recipe in my sleep. Unfortunately, this is where things started going downhill. When turning in our test, we also picked a letter-number combination that would designate us to the two dishes we were to complete for our final practical exam. I reached into the bowl and dug around to ultimately pick B3...the asparagus and soft boiled egg appetizer, and rolled and stuffed lamb entree. Of course this is the one combination I really didn't want! The asparagus appetizer is really straight forward, but it is chalked full of components and incredibly time consuming. As well, the lamb entree only has pommes puree (mashed potatoes), roasted baby eggplant (easy enough), a lamb stock based sauce, and a rolled and stuffed lamb loin. Again, very straight forward, but I had never made that dish completely from start to finish. The "lamb unknown" was making me nervous, but at that moment I just had to put my big girl panties on and get to work.

The three amigas...myself, Sophia and Lucy
We then as a class walked to the kitchen in room 402 (our level 2 kitchen) and started to cook. I had to have four plates of asparagus ready at 12:57pm, then another four plates of lamb ready at 1:45pm. I knew that my first task would be to reinforce my lamb stock. Reinforcing a stock means you take bones (in my case lamb bones) and brown them in a screaming hot pan with a little oil. Once browned, you then reduce the heat and add some mirepoix. Cook the vegetable until it's softened, then cover the mixture with the desired stock, add a bouquet garni (thyme, parsley stems, bay leaf, and black pepper corns), and simmer for at least one hour. This brings more depth of flavor to the stock, and ultimately to the sauce you make with the stock. So I ran to the reach-in looking for bones and found nothing. My first thought  was "crap, how do you make a reinforced stock without bones?". Then I took a deep breath and asked chef where I could find the missing bones. Sure enough I just wasn't looking hard enough, and they were actually wrapped up nicely and placed behind the actual lamb loins. At that point chef tossed me a bag of bones and I got my reinforced stock going. Little did I know that I had just made a monumental mistake.

About an hour into the final, one of my classmates realized he had no duck bones to reinforce his stock (another dish we had was rendered duck breasts with beets, fingerlings, frisee and a cherry sauce). This brought on a huge search for the missing duck bones. I bet you can guess who had them simmering away in their I reinforced my lamb stock with duck bones. How dumb, right?! Who can't tell the difference between the bones of a small bird and a relative large farm animal? I guess when I originally asked chef to help me find bones, I asked for duck bones instead of lamb. So when he tossed me the bag, he thought I wanted duck, and I was too stressed to take a second and realize the difference between each protein bones. Chef told me to just continue on because if I were to remake the stock, I would be completely in the weeds. My sauce would just be slightly different in flavor. So as you can see, I was not off to the best start on my final at ICC.

After the bone debacle, I quickly prepared the asparagus appetizer and presented on time. I then returned to the kitchen and put the finishing touches on my lamb dish. The final plates turned out nice, but I was so distraught over my lamb sauce that I had complete tunnel vision and just wanted the day to be over.
We made ICC's Instagram page! #selfie
At the end of the day when we all had finished cooking, it was time to hear our critiques from the panel of judges. That's right, judges! Real, working, highly regarded New York chefs were tasting our dishes, and I presented a ridiculous lamb sauce! But what could I do? At that moment I just had to smile and hope that they still appreciated my presentation and dishes as a whole.

The judges were tough and very critical, but how are you going to become a better chef if you're not critical? It all was okay because everyone in my class did great. I'm also happy to announce that they didn't even mention my sauce, so all is definitely well! All in all, the final could have been smoother for me, but I'm proud of my whole class for doing so great and showing how much we've grown through each plate of food at ICC.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Congrats to all my classmates on graduating from the International Culinary Center! It has been a crazy ride and I've learned so much, these are the days I will cherish forever!

Stay tuned for a post about our final exam at ICC, as well as our week at Blue Hill starting Wednesday. Here's to more exciting events to come!