Hilton Amsterdam Hotel (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Our stay at the Hilton Amsterdam Hotel was nothing short of amazing. The hotel was gorgeous, our room was super comfortable, and the service was impeccable. We also had the added bonus of getting to enjoy the Executive Lounge, which offers complementary breakfast as well as canapés & cocktails. What a wonderful treat! Many thanks to the NYC Downtown Alliance and Hilton Amsterdam for providing such beautiful accommodations for our trip! 

The lobby of Hilton Amsterdam
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View from our room on the 8th floor
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Another shot of our view
Hilton at night
Breakfast in the Executive Lounge
Asian chicken skewers
Crispy cheese rolls and Gougeres
Assorted bites (sushi rolls, chciken wraps, cheese cubes, and cucumber finger sandwiches)
Petit fours
The Executive Lounge

Hilton Amsterdam Hotel (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Gastronami in Amsterdam

I am beyond thrilled to have been chosen as the lucky winner of a trip to Amsterdam, provided by the NYC Downtown Alliance! My sister and I have never been to The Netherlands, so we’re pumped to explore the city together. Everything was carefully coordinated, super organized and just perfect in every way — the flights were direct and smooth, the Hilton hotel was incredible, and the city was beautiful and lively, and the weather was cool and breezy. We were provided with the best goodie bags containing all of the essentials, including a 72 hour iAmsterdam pass. This convenient pass gave us access to all GVB public transportation (trams, buses, metro) and a number of cool museums and sites. By the end of our trip, we were zipping around the city on the tram like locals! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to travel to this amazing country. A million thanks to the Downtown Alliance, Hilton Amsterdam, iAmsterdam, and everyone who made this trip possible! We couldn’t have asked for a better experience! :-) #DownIsWhatsUp

First thing we saw after exiting the airport
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Our awesome goodie bags!!!
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Centraal Station
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Taking the tram around the city was easy and fun
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These gorgeous flowers were everywhere
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So amused by tiny cars parked on sidewalks!
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Loved all of the tiny alleys filled with restaurants and outdoor seating
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Every day was a beautiful day for dining al fresco
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More vibrant pink flowers – I couldn’t stop taking pictures of them!
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Discovered so many amazing sights just walking down the street
View from Centraal Station
There are so many lovely canals all over the city
Stunning sunsets
We passed by the Heineken Brewery – the line was so long!

Gastronami in Amsterdam

Lowlife

Psyched to check out Lowlife, a casual fine dining restaurant on the Lower East Side by Chef Alex Leonard (former Chef de Cuisine at Blanca).  It just opened about a month ago and I’ve already heard so many good things.  We got lucky and scored a spot at the chef’s counter, which gave us front row seats to all of the kitchen action. We watched the chefs create each dish from start to finish — so much fun! I absolutely loved every single dish that I ordered, especially the borscht — a simple, elegantly refined version of the traditional Ukrainian beetroot soup. In addition to the food being fantastic, the service was exceptional. Looking forward to seeing how the menu changes with the each upcoming season! 

Borscht, Raw Cream, Trout Roe

Herring & Sardine, Pine Nuts, Chimichurri
  
Chicken Yakitori, Smoked Cabbage, Scallion
  
Neversink Apple Tart, Ginger Ice Cream, Dulce de Leche
 

Lowlife

Avant Garden

A dear friend and I enjoyed a beautiful and absolutely delicious meal at Avant Garden, a cozy new vegan restaurant in the East Village. We sampled three dishes, one cold and two hot, which were all incredibly flavorful and satisfying! I loved the beet, mango & avocado cold dish so much that I ordered a second one for dessert 😉. Chef Andrew D’Ambrosi doesn’t just make good vegan food, he makes good food. PeriodI will definitely be back soon! 

 

Roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, capers, raisins, concord grape sauce
  
Potato Cannelloni, pine nut ricotta, eggplant merguez, arugula pesto
  
Beet, mango, avocado, black sesame, tamari, lime, tobanjan
 

Avant Garden

Quinoa Vegetable Soup (Home Cookin’)

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So happy to share my Quinoa Vegetable Soup recipe as part of the #LIFHolidayHealthCampaign! This dish can be prepared with the Lucky Iron Fish for a simple and nutritious iron-rich meal.

Iron is essential for a healthy and productive life. Many of us do not stop and think about just how important it is – it affects one’s energy levels, immune system, brain and muscle development, and so much more! Around the world, there are countless children and families who do not have access to iron-rich ingredients like meat, seafood, or dark leafy greens. The Lucky Iron Fish is a convenient, easy and inexpensive way to ensure a sufficient amount of iron in one’s daily diet. All you do is place the fish in a pot of boiling liquid for ten minutes and remove. It works best when a few drops of lemon or other citrus juice are added. To find out more about the Lucky Iron Fish, please visit their website here: Lucky Iron Fish.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 head of green cabbage (cut into quarters or eights, depending on size of cabbage)
1 bunch of bok choy (chopped into two inch pieces)
1 yellow onion, cut into eighths
1 can plum tomatoes (rinsed, de-seeded and chopped)
3 gloves garlic (chopped)
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
A few squirts of fish sauce (to taste)
A few drops of lemon juice (about a quarter of a lemon)
Kosher salt and black pepper

Total cook time: Approximately 60 minutes

Directions
1. Add the water, vegetable broth, and lemon juice to a large pot.

2. Add the Lucky Iron Fish and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

3. Take out the Lucky Iron Fish.

4. Add the onions and garlic to the soup. Cook at medium heat for about 10 – 15 minutes until softened.

5. Add as much cabbage and bok choy as will fit in the pot (you will most likely have leftovers). Add more water if needed. Cook at medium heat for another 15 – 20 minutes until the cabbage and bok choy are softened.

6. Add the tomatoes and a few squirts of fish sauce. Mix well and taste the soup. Add more if desired.

7. Add the quinoa and simmer on low heat for 20 min or until quinoa is fully cooked.

8. Season with salt and pepper as desired. (You may not need salt, as the fish sauce has a good amount of sodium. You can also eliminate the fish sauce to make this dish vegetarian/vegan.)

9. Enjoy your iron-enriched vegetable soup!

Quinoa Vegetable Soup (Home Cookin’)

La Pecora Bianca

I had the most delicious dinner with a longtime friend (we go all the way back to middle school!) at La Pecora Bianca (which means “The White Sheep” in Italian).  They have an adorable little sheep logo that can be found all over the restaurant, from the drink coasters to the mini chocolates at the end of the meal. Everything about our experience was wonderful — the modern farmhouse decor, the seasonal menu, and the incredibly friendly service. Our server, Tommy, was super sweet and really helpful. My expectations for the food were totally exceeded — every dish was fresh, beautiful, and full of flavor. I am still dreaming about their signature pasta, the Gramigna. It was sensational! La Pecora Bianca just opened up for lunch service, so I’m going to try to head back there in the next few weeks. Can’t wait!

Pera (charred pears, sheep’s milk ricotta, hazelnuts, lemon zest)

 

Polipo (crispy octopus, ‘nduja, potatoes, olives, crispy shallots)

 

Gramigna (housemade pork sausage, broccolini, chili flakes)

 

Toscano Insalate (Tuscan kale, squash, sheep’s milk ricotta, pumpkin seeds, Parmesan bread crumbs, charred lemon citronette)
La Nostra Aranciata Italian Soda

 

La Pecora Bianca

Pancakes (Home Cookin’)

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so grateful for wonderful family, amazing friends, and, of course, good eats! Being away from the city for a few days gives me the opportunity to cook up a storm and experiment with new recipes. I’m obsessed with Food Network Kitchen’s Pancakes! They are incredibly fluffy, light as air, and oh so buttery. Check out the awesome recipe and see for yourself:  Food Network Kitchen Pancakes 

Wet ingredients (milk, vanilla extract, eggs), Dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder), and lots of melted butter
 

The batter is super light!
Cast iron skillets are the best invention ever
Topped with butter and drizzled with pure maple syrup, these freshly made pancakes are ready to be devoured!
Pancakes (Home Cookin’)

Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer

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The Greg Norman (wagyu beef, blue cheese, arugula, house buttermilk-dill)
Finally got my hands on some craft burgers at Black Tap! I’ve heard so much about this place over the past few months and have seen so many mouth-watering Instagram photos — I’ve been dying to check it out. The space is tiny and cozy — it’s exclusively bar seating and fits about 18 or so people. I was super pumped to learn that BT’s beef purveyor is Pat LaFrieda, know for high quality meat and for being absolutely delicious. I’m a huge fan! We tried the Greg Norman (a thick Wagyu beef patty cooked perfectly medium rare) and the Bison Burger (super juicy and incredibly flavorful with an awesome pesto mayo). I totally loved the Greg Norman and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the Bison burger! Definitely planning to check out Black Tap’s newest location in the Meatpacking District. My goal is to try every burger on their menu — who’s with me? :)

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The Bison Burger (fresh mozzarella, pesto mayo, arugula, shaved parmesan)
Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer