BEHIND-THE-PLATE

FIRST COURSE
Coming Soon: Oprah's Chai Tea

"You get a chai! And you get a chai! Everybody gets a chai!"

Oprah Winfrey has officially announced the creation of her own signature chai blend, Oprah Chai Tea, which is set to be released in the USA and Canada on April 29th. After working with experts at Starbucks and Teavana, Oprah was able to create a beverage which features the flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, all blended together with black and rooibos (red) loose-leaf teas. Once the blend is released for sale at Starbucks and Teavana locations across the USA and Canada, a portion of the profits will be donated to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation. This charity assists in creating educational opportunities for kids and teenagers throughout the world, providing just another reason to indulge in this brand new product.

FIRST COURSE
The Official Release: Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook

The resources to create authentic southern barbecue are officially available to New Yorkers! Virgil’s Real Barbecue, established in 1994 and located in Times Square at 152 W. 44th Street, has just released its official guide to southern cuisine, “Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook”. Available for $29.95, this publication is described as containing “The Best Barbecue from Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard,” drawing inspiration from 14 different states here in the USA, specifically Tennessee (Memphis), the Carolinas, Missouri (Kansas City), and Texas. Inside, you’ll find everything from rubs and sides to drinks and sweets, all brought together by the ever important chapters on meat, poultry, and fish.

FIRST COURSE
Chick-fil-A's Big Move Into New York City

Everyone’s favorite fried chicken purveyor, Chick-fil-A, is taking strides to clean up its act before rolling into the streets of the Big Apple. According to USA Today, Chick-fil-A has released plans to open up 108 new locations this year, mostly “urban and a good chunk of them in New York City,” which means a completely new demographic and stomping ground for this southern chain to appeal to. Not only are New Yorkers a tough crowd to handle, but they’re also extremely progressive, requiring the executives of this company to make some major changes to the menus of their establishments as well as the voice of their corporation. Considering that politics are always a factor in big business
moves, the question on everyone’s minds is obvious: how does Chick-fil-A plan to grow in New York City after making comments which criticize gay marriage back in 2012? Actually, the massive corporation does have a strategy in store.

FIRST COURSE
The Buzz Around Toro

The word count on the menu at Toro reads more like a short story than a group of small plates. Extensive and potentially overwhelming, the choices at the new tapas local span from Spanish bites like pan con tomate and larger paellas, to the twists on tapas that makes Toro a coveted dinner spot. Options like miso butter in an otherwise traditional sea urchin sandwich are the ones that make Toro slightly different.

The New York outpost of Boston chefs Ken Oringer (Clio, Uni) and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa – both with Oringer) has been consistently mentioned with intrigue since its open in September of last year. As a former Nabisco factory along the Westside highway, it provides lofty ceilings and ample natural light, something coveted in New York spaces. It holds 120 seats and with a consistent waitlist, the buzz of voices is nothing short of a crowded nightclub. Masquerading as a dining experience, the loud music and crowded nature offer a club for people who would rather taste than dance. Even two-tops are clustered together in one long table, meshing an intimate dining experience with close proximity to a social atmosphere.

FIRST COURSE
Five Stars for Fung Tu


For those brave enough to journey into the frigid temps that have graced us this winter, a great reward awaits you deep in the trenches of Chinatown, and its name is Fung Tu. As huge fans of Mission Chinese (RIP), dining at another trendy, upscale Asian restaurant felt almost like cheating, but if that is the case, our meal at Fung Tu made stepping out on our significant other totally worth it.

The menu is straight forward, the service is so polite it borders on creepy, and the end results makes you glad you left your apartment, even if you did almost get hit by a biker and feared your ears would fall off from frostbite.

FIRST COURSE
Phantom Gourmet’s Hot Purchase: The Mendon Twin Drive-In


Phantom Gourmet
’s notorious Andelman Brothers, Dan, Dave and Mike, recently made a hot purchase outside of Beantown: the state’s all-time favorite “drive-in movie theatre,” Mendon Twin Drive-In. This celebratory announcement has gotten many excited urbanites gossiping…it’s all the talk in town. Opening up to the public on Friday, April 11th, this will most certainly be a popular and lively debut welcoming Boston into the spring season!

FIRST COURSE
Ferran Adrià Speaks of His Newest Projects at 92Y

Last week, Ferran Adrià presented the framework for his newest project to a packed house at the 92nd St Y. Ferran created and ran elBulli, a restaurant outside Barcelona that achieved a level of transcendence and importance unparalleled in the culinary world. If you’ve ever had food in the form of a foam, or if you’ve been served or thought about a dish that offered a “deconstructed interpretation," that too was Adrià. Similar many of the great innovators, Adrià’s style is controversial and elBulli was the think tank to blame. Chefs, food writers, and critics, without doubt, either vehemently supported its ideology and creative processes as innovative and inspirational, or opposed it with defiance as obscene, unnecessary, and unnatural. Regardless of your stance, its undeniable impact has surely influenced what you eat, how eat, and how you experience dining from the simple to the extravagant.

FIRST COURSE
Dinner at HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar

When you hear about a restaurant in Edgewater, you automatically think of the view of New York City across the Hudson. With a lovely outdoor seating area, HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar is the latest edition to Edgewater Harbor, a luxurious community with condos and shops. After opening in October, the up-scale and sexy restaurant has customers returning after their exquisite dishes and satisfying portions. Executive Chef Peter Larsen's passion for cooking is clearly stated through his extraordinary and appetizing menu

FIRST COURSE
SELF Healthy Kitchen: A New Line Of Frozen Foods

In case you didn't know, the month of March is the month of National Frozen Foods and National Nutrition!

Let's face it. There are going to be days when you're too lazy to cook and your tummy threatens, “If you don’t feed me in the next five minutes, I’m going to growl so loud that your neighbors on the fifth floor will hear me.”

Maybe you had a long day at work and the weather’s too cold to go out for a quick bite. That Italian place around the corner delivers to your door, but the 45-minute wait isn’t exactly appealing right now. So what’s the best option?

FIRST COURSE Chef Tovar picks French walnut wood boards
Sneak Peek: Tessa on the Upper West Side

The restaurant scene in NYC is constantly in flux, what with multiple restaurants announcing closures and exciting new venues making their culinary debuts each week. Today, we got some sneak peak images of chef Cedric Tovar, who is working hard for the forthcoming Tessa restaurant on the Upper West Side.

This venue, located at 349 Amsterdam Avenue, promises to be a modern tavern with French- and Italian-inspired food and Mediterranean roots. A few highlighted dishes include Braised Pork Cheeks with Orecchiette with guanciale and a parmigiano emulsion; Whole Squid a la Plancha with piquillo pepper coulis; Porcini Crusted Scallops with mushroom polenta and a black truffle sauce; and Grilled Wild Boar with braised cabbage and roasted root vegetables, served with a rosemary jus. The restaurant will also serve cheese and salumi offerings, for which Chef Tovar is seen picking out French Walnut wood boards.