The last Come Dine With Me!

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CDWM menu

So, tonight is the night when Jocelyn and John pair up to prepare a three course meal for myself, Niall, Alan and Colette.  Their menu looks delicious.

This reminds me that I’ve failed to put up Alan’s recipes from his CDWM but I will do that asap.

We’ll be announcing the winners of our Come Dine With Me sometime in the next two weeks, I suppose, once everyone has sent their marks for Jocelyn and John’s night to our secret and entirely impartial judge.  Exciting!

English Mum’s Chicken Pie

chicken pie slice yum

Tis the season to eat pies, fa la la laaaa la la la la la!

Honestly.  I’ve wanted to eat pie every night this week.  It’s all this cold weather. The wind has been wrapping itself around my face every time I leave the house, like some kind of energy-vampire ill-advised friendship, trying its best to devour any enthusiasm I’d had for the day.

Dash it all, cruel weather, you won’t win! For I have pie to defend myself with!

Of late, I’ve been constantly craving a bit of meat and carbohydrate (with a dollop of cream with every dish) to warm me up and make me feel happy in my tum tum.

I spotted this Chicken Pie of English Mum’s (blogger/foodie/mum/pink lady extraordinaire) ages ago.  It had to be made.  Oh yes, it had to be made.

Head over to her lovely blog for full instructions on the making of the pastry and how to make the filling.

I used ready to roll pastry and followed her instructions pretty much to a T and it were gorgeous.

pie ingredientspie filling cooking
finished piechicken pie finished

Go on.  You know you want to.  Make a pie and feck the calorific quantities!  It’s winter!


As I was cooking  the above pie, I was looking for tracks for my new show on 2xm which is called Right Click Radio.  Below is a link to The Hype Machine, where you’ll be able to listen to one of my favourite tracks of last week’s show, The Generationals When They Fight They Fight.

The Generationals -  When They Fight They Fight – on The Hype Machine


Food Tour of Chinatown NYC

chatham sqaure statue

This is definitely my last NYC post, promise.  I just had to share details of our three hour food tour of NYC Chinatown, the most exciting culinary adventure we had stateside.

Foods of New York Tours operate a number of walking tours around specialised foodie areas of the city.  @jenlucy had brought the company to my attention before  our holliers, and on perusal of the website, the Chinatown Tour caught my eye.  Sure, it was the most expensive tour at $65 per person, but it looked like the most fun.  And, if I’m totally honest, it looked like the one with the most grub so…you see where my priorities lie.

Our meeting point was at noon outside Dim Sum Go Go, a Hong Kong Dim Sum house on 5 East Broadway where Broadway meets Chatham Square or Kimlau Square as it’s known locally.  We were ushered upstairs by our guide Rahim and seated at a table with other members of our 17 strong tour group.

dim sum go go exterior

Rahim gave us an introduction into Chinatown, as well as a very thorough and insightful history of Dim Sum.

Then came the food.  It was the first time I’ve ever had Dim Sum for breakfast but funnily enough, Rahim explained that Dim Sum for brunch is actually a bit of a thing in NYC, and Dim Sum Go Go is one of the top spots in the city to get it.

jasmine flower uulong tea

As is integral to the tradition of eating Dim Sum, we were served with some delicious Jasmine Flower Oolong Tea, and were talked through our three condiments.


From left to right we had a vinegar based chilli sauce which had a sweetness to it that counteracted the chilli.  Our middle sauce was a meat based concoction with a hint of ginger and sweet chilli.  It was AMAZING.  The third little pot was full of a scallop, shrimp, ginger and scallion based dip, which was delicious.

Soon, it was time for our Dim Sum breakfast.  Each person in the group was presented with a little steam box with five little beauties inside.  It was honestly like opening up a Christmas present.  Off came the lid and there were the five beautifully packaged parcels of yumminess.

dimsum selection



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The Chelsea Hotel

me looking out chelsea hotel

Widely known as The Chelsea Hotel, The Hotel Chelsea, number 222 on West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, is a part of art, literature, music and pop culture history.

Over the years, it has been home to many a writer and musician.  Brendan Behan stayed there for a bit, as did Mark Twain and Dylan Thomas.  The most well known long-term guests to check in with a guitar were Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell.  All of Andy Warhol’s motley crew stumbled up to the Chelsea address at some point in the late 60s early 70s, no doubt a little worse for wear.

chelsea hotel lobby

The Hotel Chelsea has been around since 1905 as a hotel.  Joseph Gross, Julius Krauss, and David Bard took ownership of the hotel in 1946 as a three-way partnership management team in 1946.  When Joseph Gross and Julius Krauss passed away, the job of hotel manager was handed to Stanley Bard, the son of David Bard.  Stanley was the manager from the early 1970s, up until 2007, when the board of directors asked Stanley Bard to step down as Hotel Manager.  The descendents of the Krauss and Gross families are now in charge.

Myself and Niall were only short-term guests, when we spent our last two nights in NYC staying at The Chelsea Hotel.  The changes brought about by the new management were evident in a few subtle ways.

Things such as the absence of the legendary elevator man, the lack of leftover spray paint on the walls of our room, and the notable discontent by still present long-term residents, such as our neighbour in the next door room who had a big sign on his window facing the street and over his front door saying “Bring Back The Bards.”  All this seems to signify an on-coming consumerism of the establishment.

bring back the bards small

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Some ACTUAL Touristy Stuff in NYC…

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tacky nyc plates

…that didn’t actually involve eating or gigs.

chrysler buildinggrand central station

Well.  Okay, I won’t lie.  There was always a pretzel or a donut or, at the very least,  a Vitamin Water close to hand while doing the touristy stuff in NYC after CMJ was over.

dunkin donutspumpkin donut
pretzelnyc bathroom

And, yes, I do consider expertyly graffitied loos in NYC a tourist attraction.  That loo above on the right was in the deadly Cake Shop bar/venue on Ludlow Street in The East Village.  Great spot.

We did the Top Of  The Rock

rockerfeller centre skatingrockerfeller centre flags
top of the rock central parktop of the rock empirre state

We saw Tina Fey and all I could say was “I want to go to there!” followed by “…and that’s a dealbreaker!”

Shee-ahhh. I wish. We didn’t see her or Kenneth or Jack Donaghy but they were all with us in spirit as we looked over the amazing Manhattan skyline on a beautifully sunny day.

We also went to The Museum of Natural History up at the top of Central Park.  I thought I was going to pass out with overwhelming love for the Universe and all that it’s made up of while in the UNBELIEVABLE Journey to the Stars at the Planetarium.  Holy Cow.  A direct quote from Niall was “Those were the best visuals I’ve ever seen.”  And he would know.

And we saw lions and tigers and bears and dinosaurs, oh my.  Amazing place.

natural history museum outside
alaska brown  bearantelope

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Peacefood Cafe and The Ace Hotel

peacefood exterior

We had a bit of a boo boo on Saturday in NYC.  We were to stay at a friend’s apartment on the Upper West Side while she was out of town.

We hopped up on the subway to the leafy area near Central Park and found the apartment.  It was rainy for the first time on our NY trip and we were suffering from a series of late night-induced fatigue.

We weren’t feeling too hot when we arrived at the apartment to find that the spare keys for our friend’s apartment were not working.  There was no way in. We were on the side of a rainy, although very pretty and leafy, New York City street with a pile of luggage, sore heads, and nowhere to go.

Luckily, the apartment was very close to The Peace Food Cafe on 460 Amsterdam Avenue at 82nd Avenue.  We hauled our gear in there and sat down for some lovely Gingerade and hot tea.  The waiter was the most friendly fresh faced young man I’ve seen in a while.

peacefood inside counterpeacefood inside

We were feeling a little stressed and our feet were soaked so the welcome peace and quiet and total calm of this lovely cafe helped raise our happy endorphins while we looked online for a last minute hotel.

I decided I needed a salad.  I chose the Fluffy Quinoa Salad for $9.95.  This was to be the most nutritiously rich meal I had in NYC, as it was packed full of delicious quinoa, beans, baby greens and sprouts, sweet peppers, fresh sweetcorn and onions, all tossed in a creamy lime mustard vinaigrette.  Delicious.

quinoa salad

And all things work out in the end.  We ended up staying in The Ace Hotel for the following two nights.  It is, by far, THE coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  It’s on 20 West 29th Street just off 5th Avenue so a perfect location for a visit to NYC.

The front lobby was like a happening bar in the style of an old school library and the room itself was outrageously alt.

ace lobby

Image found on NY Times website

Not only was there a Smeg fridge packed full of vitamin water and champagne, a record player and a choice selection of some great records (including The Ramones – this was NYC after all), there was also a guitar in the corner of the room, just in case one become inspired in the middle of the night and felt the need to write a song.  Awesome!

ace hotel sofaace hotel room
ace smegace hotel guitar

It was a little on the expensive side but for a special treat, I’d really recommend this hotel if you’re coming to NY.  The staff were great and the a definite plus was the cafe located in the lobby – the best coffee we had in NYC.  Apart from Dizzy’s Diner coffee in Brooklyn, of course.

Turns out this coffee shop was one of the first in NY to offer the famed Portland Stumptown Coffee.  Check out the debate on Stumptown Coffee over here on Cheap Eats.  Intriguing stuff!

ace hotel coffeeace hotel barristas

Late Night Munchies at Veselka

peirogis on table

Late night munchies at Veselka in The East Village

New York City certainly never sleeps.  And we didn’t do much of that either while there.

We were over in NYC for the CMJ Music Festival, and Music from Ireland put on a showcase of 7 Irish bands in The Bowery Poetry Club last Thursday night.

Needless to say, it turned into a bit of a session, with a late night move to an Irish bar called Dempseys after midnight.

Around 4am we were in need of some serious food and a call for Peirogis was made.

We headed to Veselka on 2nd Avenue, the 24 hours a day home of “Ukranian Soul Food in the heart of the East Village”.

Peirogis are little dumplings that are either boiled or deep-fried and packed with a variety of savoury fillings.

peirogis upclose

I had the Goat’s Cheese and Arugula (aka rocket) Boiled Peirogis.  A good late night snack – lovely and salty as well, served with apple sauces.

deep fried peirogis

Niall had the selection of Deep Fried Peirogis, which were a mixture of all the available Peirogi types, with cheese and meat based fillings.

Great late night food at a reasonable price.  I’ve been told that the Peirogis are just as tasty to a sober palate, which is good news.

Highlight of our Veselka visit was our friend Norm setting us up with a pretty amazing condiment gif.  Rockit!

Norm Condiments Symphony

SEA in Williamsburg

sea with pool

Last Sunday, we had what felt to be a rather typical New York Sunday.  After a bout of vintage clothes shopping at Beacon’s Closet in Brooklyn’s hipster friendly neighbourhood Williamsburg with our friend Chelsea, we headed for a good local spot for a bit of grub.

We went to SEA on 114 North 6th Street for “The Thai Experience”.  Some of you may recognise SEA from the beginning of Garden State supposedly in L.A., especially by the distinctive pool area at the front.

inside seainside sea with tables

SEA is part of a chain of three restaurants around NYC specialising in hip, trendy spaces serving Thai in a tranquil environment.  The restaurant in Williamsburg is a beautiful, spacious room, and a good place for a Sunday lunch.  Theoretically, anyway.  The food and slightly rushed service let it down a bit.

We had some really delicious starters but unfortunately the mains didn’t live up to expectation with the general lasting tastebud impression being one of disappointing blandness.  Still, the starters were rocking.

seafood frittersfritter inside

We had the Triangle Curry Puffs, which were curried chicken and potato wrapped in pastry, served with side of cucumber salsa.

starter on sticksskewers inside

We had the really delicious Tup Tim Fritters, which were crispy chicken and shrimp dumplings with a sweet and sour sauce.  Yum!

jade dumplingsjade dumplings inside

And we also shared the Jade Seafood Dumplings, which were not only visually appealing but really tasty.  The dumplings were steamed crab meat & shrimp wrapped in green wonton served with curry sauce.

red sea duckmy mountain of rice

My main course was the best of a mediocre bunch.  It was the Red Sea Duck, a crispy half duck in red vinaigrette-tomato gravy sauce with stir fried mixed veggies and a mountain of rice.  The duck was nice and crispy but the sauce was a bit too rich and gooey.   Not bad though.

niall's dinner

Niall’s main was the Pad Thai – so that’s chicken and shrimp with rice noodles, eggs penut, bean sprouts and  scallions.  In his  own words, it was “average”.

chelsea's dinner

Our friend Chelsea has been to SEA a few times before and always enjoyed it.  She said that hers was definitely more bland than usual.  She had the Spicy Thai Herbs Fried Rice with eggs ginger, basil, scallion, and chili paste.

The final bill came to around $70.00 which included a few Ice Teas.  Overall, it was an enjoyable lunch, but I think that was more to do with the company and surroundings than it was the food.    SEA doubles up as a club/late night bar, so perhaps it would be a better spot for a few drinks and nibbles.

sea loos

Still.  They have perhaps the coolest loos I’ve ever seen.   The Lavatorial Review would’ve had a field day.  They were little pods that the doors swung out of and they had little tvs inside where you could keep an eye on the restaurant.  And in theory, your date.  See if they were looking through your mobile while you were in the loo etc.  Kind of cool but also kind of creepy.

Just in case you get the L train out to Bedford Avenue on your next visit to NYC and fancy some Thai food, here’s a google map for SEA.

Sushi in NYC…sooooo good!

tomoe sushi outside

After a day of getting lost on the subway and listening to CMJ gigs at Pianos on Ludlow Street off Houston, one finds oneself wanting a good sushi.

Our friend Elanor had a place in mind which she had found by googling ‘good new york sushi’  Off we hopped in cab with another pal Dan to find Tomoe Sushi 172 Thomspon Street near the West Village in Manhattan.

tomoe sushi insidemad cat

Tomoe’s decor tells us that they are more interested in the food rather than pretentious water features and dim lighting.  It’s a no frills place when it comes to the room but wow, how they make up for any shortcomings with the amazing sushi.


We had a few edamame beans to munch on while waiting for our order.

miso soup

We also supped on some miso soup to get the belly ready for the sushi.  And we had a few delicious pork dumplings to whet the appetite.  So good.

pork dumplings

We shared a plate of sashimi, all of which tasted so light and delicious, and reallllly fresh.


We had a few different sushi pieces to share like the yellow tail and the tuna and avocado and a few other bits and pieces.  Totally yum.


It was a little pricey,  I suppose, as the whole lot came to $80.  But I think for what we had it was totally worth it.  And the locals know this too, as there was a queue forming outside the restaurant for a table as we were leaving.  Always a good sign.

Here’s another view of that sushi…yum!

view of sushi

An especially amazing breakfast at Dizzy’s Diner

dizzy's outside

I’m so very happy.  We’ve been eating so well here.  Upon recommendation of the Lo-Lu’s Kitchen gals, myself and Niall popped around the corner of our Brooklyn abode to Dizzy’s Diner on 511 15th Street.  Soooo glad we did.

The inside of Dizzy’s Diner is a bit Eddie Rocket’s like except with more garish colours if you can imagine.  So you’d probably look in the window and say naaaaa this place looks rubbish.  And you’d never know of the amazing diner treats that await inside.


Apart from all of the waiters and waitresses saying ‘You got it’ to every request, they had that special diner coffee, which is so comfortingly delicious in its own dishwatertasteness.

toast without syrup

I had the most beautiful Cinnamon and Spiced French Toast which I smothered in maple syrup.

toast with syrup

Niall had a delicious Dee Luxe Breakfast which had poached eggs, Canadian bacon, pancakes, toast and home fries.

dee luxe

All of this came to only $22.  Which was a steal.  The cheapest and quite possibly the best meal we’ve had in NYC!

Check it out if you’re in town.