If cooking in the kitchen is my one true love, dining out is definitely my side piece. The excitement of trying a new restaurant and sharing the experience with the ones I love, combined with the unique atmosphere and menu that every worthwhile restaurant provides, makes my stomach and heart do a happy dance. With every restaurant I dine at and enjoy, I immediately place it into a sub-category in my mind (or the ongoing 5 page note on my iPhone) and mark it for a future date. Fortunately for my friends, when I receive texts asking for restaurant recommendations for specific neighborhoods or occasions, I am always fully prepared and equipped with a quick response. With my love for sharing dining experiences of all kind and making sure all of my friends and reader’s never waste a meal at an un-enjoyable restaurant, I have created a new venture on my blog: Freckled Foodie & Friends Favorites, a neighborhood guide from foodies you can trust. These aren’t your typical yelp reviews or google searches, but instead recommendations from food bloggers all over the country; people who take their food very seriously and who, I hope, you trust. Each guide will focus on recommendations from the writer’s specific neighborhood, because, what’s better than insight from a local!
To kick things off, the first guide will be to the West Village and written by yours truly, myself. Not only is this area filled an massive amount of NYC’s top restaurants and bars, but also the place I have been fortunate enough to call home for the past 4+ years.
The West Village Guide
Tuna fish has always been a very controversial topic in my group of friends. In college, half our house ate canned tuna on a weekly basis and the other half was disgusted by the concept and scent. I have to admit, I was part of the latter portion of the house. Along with the split of who cracked open a can for snacks or dinner, there was the ongoing discussion of whether tuna was an acceptable food to eat in public. Our conversations, almost too often, somehow ended up in an array of these questions: would you eat tuna fish on your first day of work? What about on a date? God forbid, on an airplane? Eventually, I was finally convinced to give tuna fish a try, after finding a company I felt safe trusting, and with the additions below it is safe to say I am a fan. This does not mean I answer the prior questions with a passionate yes, but it has resulted in some apology texts to my former roommates who I gave so much heat to. So, if you are like me, and curious what the other side is raving about, give this combo below a try. I promise, it is really freaking good. And if you still don’t like it, well, then, judge away.
By now you all are aware of my obsession with nut butter and how I constantly try to incorporate it into all aspects of my life (if you’re not, take a gander of my feed) but there is one main combo that will always and forever have my heart: peanut butter, chocolate, and banana. I grew up buying those whole frozen chocolate dipped bananas on a stick (scared to imagine what the ingredients were in these) and eating them on a nightly basis. Having a father who is as addicted to peanut butter as I am, we would constantly dip these into the closest open jar of Jiffys (c’mon young Cam). Now as a more well-informed “adult” (ha, that’s funny), while I do not eat these exact products or brands, I still constantly crave this combination. SO, I led my cravings to my health food stocked pantry and took matters into my own hands. The result? Possibly the best thing I’ve ever created: frozen banana filled dark chocolate peanut butter cups. They are insanely delicious and so simple to make.
Poke. The trend that is slowly trying (and both sadly and happily failing) to turn NYC into the laid back coastal city of San Francisco. If you are from California, then I am jealous of you for many reasons. One being that you are fortunate enough to have already enjoyed this refreshing dish for the many years it finally took us New Yorkers to get our shit together and hop on board. I love all forms of seafood: grilled fish, sushi, sashimi, shellfish, raw bars (my form of heaven), and creatures that many scurry away from (I’m looking at you baby octopus with all 8 tentacles attached). That being said, I had never experimented in the kitchen with preparing and consuming raw fish. Is it because I live in Manhattan and don’t fully trust the seafood I purchase enough to eat it raw? Honestly, probably. So with the combination of my summer weekends spent at the beach near the ocean / much more trustworthy fish, and the inspiration of my good friend, it was time to test my kitchen skills and tackle poke bowls. After a weekend filled with hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, and one too many scoops of ice cream, Sunday night called for a light, yet also somehow filling, dinner to start the week off right. I set out that afternoon and headed to the fish market both bloated and determined to impress my parents. The result of this excursion was a DIY poke bowl station that took under 45 minutes to prepare but won the title of “one of my dad’s top 3 favorite meals this summer”. Boom. Mission complete.
What are three of the things I love most? Breakfast, the beach, and showing people that eating healthy does not have to suck. So, why not combine all three? Two weekends ago I found myself taking an oh so favorite barefoot stroll from my parent’s house down the block to the beach as I was stopped by two young kids and asked if I wanted a glass of lemonade. Walking with my cousin, who has a life rule of never passing a lemonade stand without purchasing something, and the fact that they had those blueberry mini muffins that defined my childhood but I haven’t seen in forever, I was searching my pockets for money. As we walked away with a cup of lemonade in tow, I jokingly said “wouldn’t it be funny if I had a Freckled Foodie stand?”. We laughed for a second and, as soon as we stepped on to the beach, the scent of the ocean quickly took focus and swept the food stand thought away. It wasn’t until the next day when I returned to NYC and began re-focusing on Freckled Foodie business that I realized how how fun it would be to make this idea a reality. So that is exactly what I did.
A lot of people hate on putting fruit in a salad. My opinion? There is a time and place for everything and, in the summer, fruit sure as hell belongs in salads. There is no quicker dish to serve alongside a summer BBQ than this spinach salad with peaches and mozzarella. When you are so hot you cannot fathom standing in front of the grill or stove for another second and you quickly realize you have not eaten a fruit or vegetable all weekend, this salad will be your savior. Quickly grab all of the ingredients out of the fridge, cut, arrange in an aesthetically pleasing manner, and serve to your guests.
Strawberry and banana go together like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. At one point in everyone’s childhood, this was their favorite combination, but overtime, we have all slowly put it on the back burner and forgot about it while moving on to bigger and better things, such as banana and peanut butter (the Beyonce and Jay Z). But, hold the phone. Let’s rewind and revisit this childhood love affair. Because we all may have moved on and all, but it is still incredibly delicious and worth talking about again. Try this recipe out, sit back, and take a trip back to the 90s while enjoying your breakfast. (And if this is what it takes for Britney and JT to get back together than I will eat this breakfast every god damn day).
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