Monthly Archives: December 2015

Freemans: Still One of My Favorite Places in NYC


Last week we decided to to take my buddy and his fiancé out for dinner to celebrate their engagement. After booking and canceling a couple dozen reservations, we ended up booking a reservation at Freemans (Thanks Lina). This was my fourth time going there, three times for dinner and one for brunch, and still I had no remorse choosing Freemans over somewhere else. Sure we could have tried something new like Seamore’s or Rebelle, but I was really in the mood for eating and drinking while staring at some taxidermy. Also, since their menu is seasonal and changes often, it’s like eating somewhere new everytime.

We hung out by the bar as we waited for Mike (first timer) to find the restaurant. If you have never been, do not use Google Maps – as it will tell you the wrong location. To find it, walk to the middle of Rivington between Christie and Bowery – walk down the alley covered with hipsters and ‘artsy types’ until you reach the teal wooden doors. I had no intention of drinking that much, or eating that much, as I had my tuxedo fitting for my wedding the following night. After buying a two-thousand dollar tuxedo and getting it altered, last thing I wanted to do was not fit into it. Especially since I was out the night prior at Peter Luggers, and have been eating like a beast lately. But as we waited for our lost friend, I drank a few Köstritzers – nothing better than a dark black lagger when trying to take it easy… For a 472 year old brewery, it’s no wonder why they are still in business, this is one of my favorite beers and I drink their black gold every time I see it.

It was interesting watching Mikes reaction when he walked in. Half of it relief that he found the place, the other half confused as he walked into what looks like a West-Virginian hunting lodge in the middle of the Lower East Side. As we made our way to the table the girls drink their rosé and we ordered up two Bulleit Old Fashions. As we were all catching up listening to the story of their engagement – two more old fashions made it to the table. Then following our appetizer order, another two old fashions made its way over.

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We ordered three apps, and on my way to order a third my fiancé gave me a nice elbow to the ribs reminding me that I have the tuxedo fitting the next night. First up, the Pork Belly Sliders with coleslaw and mustard barbecue sauce. These were delicious, and convinced me I may need to start going to Freemans and just eat these while sitting at the bar. They come two in an order, which I probably should have ordered another round, but no big deal. Next, Ipswich Clam Fritters. Similar to the fried oysters at Bacaro, I figured these would be lightly breaded and fried up – but once again I was wrong. These were in a doughy ball, kind of biscuity and fried. Think they came in an order of five, because I had three and heard everyone else bitch because they didn’t have one, I didn’t feel too bad about it. Lastly, the Steamed PEI Muscles, which was another crowd favorite. This was served with potatoes, corn, scallions, old bay butter, and grilled sourdough bread. We destroyed this dish, not even an ounce of the broth was left over – even contemplated eating the shells since the dish was so good. Then two more old fashions…

Before my main course came I ordered another Köstritzer, as I figured this would go better with my meat, and because I was starting to think the moose head on the wall was moving. I chose the Seared Filet Mignon, with sweet and sour onions, mashed potatoes and horseradish sauce. Steak was cooked perfectly, medium-rare with a nice reddish pink hue in the middle. I was scooping up mashed potatoes and stuffing them down my throat. The filet was tender and juicy, and complemented nicely by the onions. Nicole had the Daily Market Fish, which was Cod served with a side of Eggplant Caponata – which also was amazing. She didn’t really share much – but I got her back… The next morning as she was leaving the apartment I accidentally head-butted her in a unbelievably hungover failed attempt to kiss her.

Gild Hall by Thompson Hotels: Financial District

What can I say about Gild Hall by Thompson Hotel that hasn’t been said about Kate Upton’s breast? Beautiful, perfect, large, comfortable, cozy and I spent a night with them… One of those is not true, but seriously this might be one of my favorite hotels in New York City.

Last week my fiancé and I had our engagement shoot, which we were doing in Dumbo and ending the shoot over by the Brooklyn Bridge. The location was perfect, as this hotel sits in the Financial District, over on Gold ST and Platt ST. If you are looking to explore downtown, i.e. The Seaport, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, World Trade Center, One World Observatory …etc, you cannot beat this location. Additionally, if you are looking to explore outside the Financial District you have many subway lines within a few blocks. Even though I live a few neighborhoods north, staying in this area gave us both such a different perspective of the city.

The day prior to checking in, I called to ask them if they could assist me with some requests. Since we were doing our engagement shoot (also looking for a great photographer, check out ours here at Denise Wine Studio) we wanted to have a chance to wear multiple outfits without having to go up to Nolita and get changed. I spoke with Justine, and she was able to provide us with early check-in. Along with that, she was extremely helpful and friendly and was able to meet our requests. When we arrived, we received the same great customer service from the staff. They were quick to help us grab our luggage, and help us to our room.

The hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, from the minute you arrive to the second you check out, you will be extremely pleased. Once you make your way through the front door, you see their double-level library filled with books and artwork, hardwood floors, plush couches and really cool chandeliers. Exposed Brick surrounds the check in desk, along with distressed wood and leather couches.

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Across from the lobby you will find the restaurant, Felice, which is a New York City based Italian restaurant which specializes in Tuscan cuisine with four locations throughout Manhattan. They have forty seats, along with their upstairs wine lounge La Soffitta. The food from Felice can be ordered via room service, which we tried later on, and was unbelievable. Felice, a lot like the hotel, also features really cool chandeliers, these however are built using the jugs that are from their wine production. Along with having a bottle or two downstairs, our suite also featured a few bottles of their offerings including Felice Bianco, Felice Rosso, and Felice Rose.

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Now to our suite, The Thompson Suite, which was ridiculously beautiful. When you walk in, there was one bathroom and a hallway that lead to the bar, living room, and to the right the bedroom. The first bathroom, which was a smaller version of the master bathroom, just as nice but just smaller. The bar came fully stocked with pretty much anything you need for a good time. For liquor they had Ciroc, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek, 10 Cane Rum. In the fridge they had a few different types of Brooklyn lager, mineral water, and some sodas. A full selection from Candy to Condoms were also behind the bar, along with some bottles of Fred Water to help chase away that hangover in the morning. The bar overlooks the luxurious living room area, which feature comfortable leather couches, a large Samsung TV, animal hides, and all the makings to host a fun party.

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Off the living room you have the bedroom, which features the same twelve-foot ceilings that run throughout the room. However the main focal point is the bed. The king size bed is wrapped in 400 thread count sheets, and finished with a fancy leather headboard. The bed itself was so comfortable, but the view of the suites decor was one of my favorite parts of my stay here.
The bedroom also featured a nice desk in the corner, along with an iHome Dock (iPhone 5 Compatible), some leather-bound books, and beautiful lighting from the lamps to the chandelier hanging over the bed.

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The master bathroom was massive! It was partially tiled with glass tiles, with chrome accessories, and marble running throughout the bathroom. When you first walk in theres a double sink and private bathroom stall. Just when you think thats it, you walk around the corner to find a large walk in rain shower, along with a stand alone clawfoot tub. They provide C.O. Bigelow products in the bathroom, and also provide a cool shaving kit from Dollar Shave Club for a small fee. I really think the bathroom was larger than my apartment, and definitely a lot nicer.

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All in all, if you’re looking for a hotel in New York thats close to everything and not the size of a shoe box, definitely consider Gild Hall. Definitely impresses the lady and set a great tone for the rest of the night.

Bluegrass Barrels: Awesome Gift Idea

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So I am not sure how many women out there read this website, but I figured I would give you women a great valentines day gift idea. Granted, there is absolutely no chance of it shipping in time for Saturday – but really cool to give even if it’s a few weeks late.

A while back my fiancé got me a Barrel from Bluegrass Barrels. I actually mentioned/featured the barrel in my article on Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey, back a few months ago.  This is a great way to keep and age spirits, such as whiskey, bourbon, scotch, tequila…etc. The barrels are handmade in Kentucky, with American White Oak with a medium char on the inside. They have three sizes to choose from between 1 – 3 liters, with a choice between the metal used for the hops that hold the barrel together.

To personalize the barrel, you can put up to two lines of text with a maximum of 10 letters per line. Additionally, these barrels can feature your favorite NCAA logos.

Goto  their site, and order one.

Abita Brewing Company: One of My Favorite Breweries In ‘Merica

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As you can probably tell by now, I am pretty obsessed with Abita Amber. It is definitely one of my favorite beers, and I was convinced the best Abita product – until a shipment from Abita arrived at my apartment.Came home from dinner @ Kuma Inn (Followed by Drinks at Los Feliz and Spitzers), walked into the mail area and saw a huge box addressed to yours truly, Hedge Fun NY. In a semi-drunken state I ran into the apartment and opened up the box like a kid discovering the awesomeness of Christmas. Cutting through the tape, and throwing packaging peanuts everywhere, I got down to the bottom and found 6 six-packs of three different types of Abita Brews (36 Beers for all you non-mathletes) and a beer koozie. They sent Abita Bock, Abita Restoration Pale Ale, and Abita Wrought Iron IPA. In a burst of excitement I threw them in the fridge, and there they sat getting cold until the right night to give them a try.

A week later, I decided to have my buddy Nick come over and give me his opinion on these Abita beers. Since he works at Brinkley’s, thought it would be a good idea to involve him since he knows beer. Also, similar to my article on Anchor Brewing Company, I had Nicole drink some of the beer to see her comments. The night prior we ordered Mile End Deli, so we figured this was a perfectly good time to order it again and start the drinking process.

In their package to me, and on their website, they have a great display of color/bitterness – ‘Color and Bitterness Comparison Chart’. I put this below so you can check it out as well.

Abita Restoration Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale (APA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 5.2%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 25

Side Note: Abita’s brewery is located in Abita Springs, LA about 30 miles north of New Orleans. Through their sales of Restoration they have raised over $550,000 for hurricane relief efforts. Round of applause gentlemen, now back to the beer…

The Restoration Pale Ale is brewed with pale, caramel and carapils malts. It is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Cascade hops. Fresh out of the bottle and into a pint glass, the beer pours a cloudy gold color. Nicole mentioned it was more orange, which she may have been right considering I stare at Bloomberg and Excel sheets all day. Picked up some of the floral aromas from the Cascade Hops, and I was ready to drink.

From the initial appearance and reading the ingredients, I was expecting it to be similar to the Anchor Brewing Company Liberty Ale. After tasting I realized they were similar but definitely not the same. Similar to the aroma we all picked up a citrus, piney, hoppy taste on the backend that  left the bitterness of the grapefruit/lemon zest taste in your mouth. Definitely a characteristic of most IPA, but where as some ales overdue it I find the Restoration Pale Ale to be mildly bitter, which left us all with the same conclusion: We can drink 1 or 2, definitely not something we can drink all night. Abita suggests pairing with fish, and different types of cheeses. We had it while eating a ‘Smoked Meat Sandwich‘ on rye bread from Mile End Deli – think the two went well.

Abita Wrought Iron IPA
Type: Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
Availability: All Year-Round
ABV: 6.9%
Chart: Color 9 / IBU 80

Remember back before the weather was below freezing, and their wasn’t snow blanketing the side walks? While walking through Central Park, you would see something called grass. This beer smells like freshly cut grass, so much so I am using it as an air freshener in my apartment because I miss warm weather.

This IPA is forged with the intensity of Apollo, Equinox and Mosaic Hops. Brewed with pale ale malt, the beer pours a golden/copper color, not much different than the Restoration Ale. The name Wrought Iron comes from the color of iron when it’s being forged – thinking outside the box with that one.

One sip in Nicole’s face looks like a little kid eating a Shock Tart for the first time. She hates bitter IPA’s, and with an IBU of 80 safe to say we should have known she was going to  dislike it. But still fun to see her reaction.

Nick seemed not to mind the beer. Being around a multitude of different beers, he has definitely tried his fair share of IPA, i.e. having Ithaca Flower Power  IPA on tap.

For me, this was a one every once in a while type of beer. Abita suggest pairing the Wrought Iron IPA with meats, luckily my diet consist of 98% Red Meat, 2% Bread/Potatoes. As mentioned earlier, we were eating smoked meat from Mile End, and the two definitely went well. The overpowering of the malts by the hops gave the bitterness and piney resin feeling, so biting into smoked brisket and mustard was an awesome mix with it.

Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Type: Bock
Availability: Seasonal (Jan – March)
ABV: 6.5%
Chart: Color 13 / IBU 25

Let me start off by saying, this is one of my new favorite beers – and a contender for my favorite Abita product over Abita Amber. I never thought those words would leave my mouth, but I love this Bock Beer. I also think I might like this as much as Shiner Bock, which is another thing I thought I would never say. When we finished drinking the beers, we all said Abita Mardi Gras Bock was the best of the three.

Once poured into a pint glass we were able to see the amber/auburn color, and with a color of 13 it is just a few shades away from Abita Amber. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. This combination is great, and the beer goes down smooth. I didn’t even realize the size of my gulps until I would be done with a bottle after a minute or two.

From the first taste you pick up the malty sweetness and caramel, a bit of a bread taste – which I thought may have been left over from the rye bread on my sandwich. But once the sandwich was long gone I realized it was part of the beer.

I am a little confused as to why Abita lists this as having an IBU of 25, which is the same as Abita Restoration Pale Ale. I tasted no hoppy bitterness as all, and for Nicole (who hates IPAs) and Nick (knows all things beer) not to notice it further confuses me. From drinking so many IPAs lately, and having my mouth punched with that piney resin everyone loves so much, this was exactly what I needed. Considering my love for Amber, Bock, Brown, and Dark Beers – I think this is the reason I enjoyed this so much.

The only true complaint I have about this beer is that it is not produced all year-round. I wish they would send me over a 6 month supply along with some of the Abita Turbodog that I have been wanting to try that the waitress at Balthazar steered me away from … But that’s a whole different story all together.
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Noodle Pudding: The Hidden Gem Located in Downtown Brooklyn

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They say even in the worst relationships, you can find one positive thing – for me that positive was learning about Noodle Pudding in Downtown Brooklyn. A few years back I began going to Noodle Pudding, and I try to make it there once every few months. So like most people, you are probably wondering, why is this place that serves some of the BEST ITALIAN food in all of the borough called Noodle Pudding. Rumor has it, the last name of the owner Antonio Migliaccio, translates to Noodle Pudding but I can neither confirm or deny this.

The restaurant is located on Henry Street, and has no sign on the outside. The only reason I know where to go all the time, is by looking at the large gathering outside of the door. They do not do reservations (however, I have called up a few times for large tables and they were cool with it) and are cash only. The places is the epitome of old school Italian – with a ton of rotating specials every time you visit – which makes it hard to write this review, especially since you cannot find an accurate menu anywhere. I am going to go off memory for some of these dishes, so bare with me, keep in mind I have been there more than a dozen times.

  • Gnocchi: Homemade and pretty much melt in your mouth, no need for using any of your teeth. You have two options for the sauce, on a regular red sauce or the butter sage sauce. Both are great, but you can always get red sauce – go with the butter sage sauce. You taste all the components, including the nuttiness of browned butter and earthiness of the sage.
  • Tagliatelle Bolognese: another dish you can taste the freshness of the pasta. Great basic dish, with some hearty chunks of meat. Last time we went, , last Tuesday, my fiancé’s father had it – and wiped the dish clean.
  • Straccetti: Thinly pounded beef, finished with truffle oil and shaved parmigiano. The beef has always been tender, and cooked beautifully with a charred outside and pinkish red on the inside (the way I ordered it).
  • Tagliata: I think the better out of the two beef dishes, and I have ordered this/recommended this multiple times. To often the steaks flavor is concealed behind the seasoning of the chef. Not the case when it comes to this prime rib, which is just done perfectly – seasoned with rock salt and rosemary. The crystals of salt and flakes of rosemary just truly compliment the meat, rather than mask the taste of this juicy cut. The only time I had anything similar was, once in Florence and once at Aurora Soho.
  • Rabbit: Which is one of the main reasons I goto Noodle Pudding. The style changes often, one of which includes a four-course dinner all of rabbit, which I have been dying to try. Last time I went, last week, I had the Rabbit Ragu, which was out of this world. Highly recommend ordering the rabbit, give it shot – I can practically guarantee no matter the style, you will love it.
  • Salmon: I generally do not like salmon, unless its sashimi – but the other night my fiancé’s mom order this, so I figured I would give it a try. The salmon is pounded thin, cooked medium, with a side of escarole and beans. I actually enjoyed it, and my future mother-in-law, said it was some of the best salmon she has ever had.
  • Lasagna: had it for the first time last week, stole some off the person to my left, and it was a perfect pieced of lasagna. Homemade pasta sheets, meat, and delicious sauce – perfection.
  • OCTOPUS BRUSCHETTA: Leaving one of my favorite dishes for last. Noodle Pudding has definitely mastered the art of pulpo cooking – and they served the eight-legged creature in a tomato sauce, with some slices of toasted Italian bread. The braised outside, with tender meat, makes this one of the best octopus dishes I have come across. As you can tell from my Charlie Bird, Peasant, Piacere, Rubirosa …etc, I know my pulpo, and you should take my word when I say ORDER THIS.

I should be heading back over soon, but above is just a start of all the items I have ate over the years. Also, one of the best things – which isn’t even on the menu – the bread they come out with once you sit-down. The bread seems fresh out of the oven, and is accompanied by olive oil with fresh herbs and pepper. I would have been content making a meal out of that.

In a few years when I retire, approximately 40 years, I want to goto the island of Ischia and see if the food is anything close to the amazing food created by Anthony Migliaccio and his team.

Additionally there is a great interview with the owner, click this link, from Nona Brooklyn. I think you should give it a read to better understand this amazing establishment.

38 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
***Cash Only***

Photo Credit: Bored in Brooklyn

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