Tag Archives: Sangria

{ Yerba Buena: Savory Brunch } *****

Huevos Rancheros
23 Avenue A
New York, NY
{ Lower East Side  – between Perry and Greenwich Ave)


Brunch is a time-honored tradition in Manhattan. And I must admit–with slight guilt–that it is also one of my favorite meals to partake in when I visit the city. My girlfriends and I usually put a “brunch plan” in place at the pre-game Saturday night, and then on Sunday morning the first person to arrive at the destination watches as the rest of the group arrives in increments, dressed like refugees from the night before. Might I suggest that you wear your over-sized sunglasses and take your Advil though, because brunch is becoming so popular amongst us yuppies, that you may find yourself waiting in line on a sidewalk for upwards of an hour before being seated (damn you, Il Bastardo...).

Now there are two different approaches that one can take when choosing a brunch spot: the first is a bottomless boozey brunch centered around socializing and possibly even dancing on table tops, the second is a food-centric brunch where the objective is obtaining a delicious and filling meal that combines the best elements of breakfast and lunch. As a foodie, I am partial to the latter and Yerba Buena (YB) is one of my favorite places to enjoy a savory (and usually spicy!) mid-day meal. If the previous night was well-oiled then a mimosa or bloody Maria is necessary, and YB does offer an unlimited cocktail cocktail hour for just $15. I am not a huge fan of their Sangria, but I do LOVE the Poquito Picante cocktail made with bulldog gin, jalapeno-infused cointreau, cilantro, cucumber, and lemon juice ($12). It is refreshing, spicy, and very unique to YB (just make sure to pull the floating red pepper out before the drink gets too spicy!!).


Things you should definitely order include:

1. The homemade Chips and Guacamole seasoned with Chipotle and Queso Fresco ($10), It is a great starter for the table and guarantees that tense group moment when you get down to the last chip.

Guacamole and Chips

2. The Huevos Rancheros which is a thin crispy tortilla, topped with black beans, charred tomato, cascabel salsa, queso fresco, and two fried eggs ($13). Pop those yolks and soak up that runny goodness with each and every forkful. The dish is satisfying and a great value for the price. One of my all-time favorite takes on huevos rancheros.


3. The Cachapa Eggs Benedict prepared with sweet corn cake, asadero cheese, poached eggs, serrano ham, and a Yerba Buena-aji amarillo hollandaise ($14). I am not normally a fan of eggs benedict, but this unique spin on the classic is exciting and delicious.

Cachapa Eggs Benedict

4. Finally, if you want something starchy, I recommend the Pan Dulce which combines sweet and savory flavors to create a hybrid dish between a French Croque Monsiur and French toast, with overriding South American flair. It is french brioche toast, with melted manchego cheese, dulce de leche sauce, and fresh bananas. Need I say more?

Pan Dulce

The service is also attentive and pleasant. More importantly, they aren’t rushing you from your table to turn it over for the next guest, despite the tiny dining room space!


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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Lunch Spots, Mexican Restaurants, New York Restaurants

Sparkling Pomegranate Red Sangria *****


Sangria is one of those drinks that reminds me of summer. It is a light and refreshing beverage to be enjoyed outside on a patio somewhere, and preferably with some good Mexican fare!

I tend to gravitate to red sangria over it’s fruitier white counterparts, because I am not the biggest fan of peach schnapps or flavored brandy. This being said, I also don’t like red sangria that tastes like spiked fruit juice (which is the case at 90% of the bars/restaurants I’ve ordered it from!). You end up drinking like 10 glasses of it in an effort to catch a buzz, only to get a sugar high that is generally followed by a massive migraine the following morning….not to mention the 800 calories you’ve also consumed. No thank you.

So tonight, I was on a mission to create my own unique sangria recipe that would taste delicious and also have my friends on their asses after only two glasses. I am proud to say “mission accomplished” with this one-of-a-kind sparkling pomegranate red sangria, which is without doubt the best sangria that I have ever tasted (my friends would second that statement too!).

The trick is to allow the flavors to develop overnight, by making the sangria ahead of time. I also like to use a merlot wine as the base of the sangria because it is a dry wine but has natural hints of berries, plums, and currants, which lend themselves well to the other fruity flavors, especially the pomegranate spritzer used to top off the beverage before serving!

 { Ingredients }

  • 1 L bottle of merlot wine
  • 1 cup of brandy
  • ½ cup of triple sec
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 orange, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped pineapple bits (I used fresh cut pineapple)
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Juice (I purchased mine from Trader Joes for $2.49)

{ To Make the Sangria }

In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped fruit, brandy, triple sec, and orange juice. Cover and allow to soak for 2 hours.

Add the wine to the mixture and allow to sit over night in the fridge. To serve, fill a glass with ice, fill ¾ with the sangria, and top off with a splash of sparkling pomegranate juice. Stir to combine.


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Filed under Cocktails, Recipes

Cuba Libre ***

cuba libre
10 S. 2nd Street (2nd & Market)
Philadelphia, PA 19106


This past month featured Restaurant Week here in Philadelphia, and I had the opportunity to check out Cuba Libre with a couple of friends. The beauty about restaurant week is that you get to sample multiple courses from a  prix fixe menu at a reduced price. In this case, we were each allowed to choose two appetizers, one entree, and one dessert for $35. But before we even had the opportunity to look at the food menu, we were distracted by the longwinded cocktail list, which includes 14 uniquely flavored mojitos!

Feeling pressured to try at least one of these specialty cocktails, we decide to order the Classic Mojito and sample it amongst the table. The mojito was  fabulous but definitely not something that should be in conjunction with a heavy meal, and so we opted for a pitcher of Red Sangria to drink with our dinner ($37.50 and we got 8 glasses from it). The sangria was good, but nothing extraordinary (it is also not very strong, as 3 full glasses did not get my 100-lb self even remotely tipsy!).

Cuba Libre Red Sangria

But onto the food, which is what we came for in the first place! To start, our server brought us a nice basket of bread with an o-u-t-r-a-g-e-o-u-s mango butter. This light, almost whipped, butter transformed the bread into a sweet french toast-like dessert. Honestly, the flavored butter was probably my favorite item brought to the table all evening. It was memorable and unique.

Cuba Libre Bread and Mango Butter

For my first appetizer, I ordered the Pulpo con Berenjenaswhich is a truffle and citrus marinated baby octopus that is then grilled and served atop a Haitian eggplant salad.  The octopus was cooked perfectly and wasn’t rubbery in the least bit. The flavors were all well-balanced and the portion size was perfect, leaving me wanting one more forkful.

Cuba Libre Octopus

The Eight Hour Guava BBQ Ribs, on the other hand, were not as good as I had hoped they would be. I had high expectations for these “award winning” St. Louis cut pork ribs, glazed in a Guava BBQ Sauce with jicama-Sambal salad, but they were VERY fatty with hardly any meat at all. Very disappointing. Sad face.

Cuba Libre Guava BBQ Ribs

Others at the table ordered the Empanadas stuffed with pulled pork, roasted poblano pepper, and charred tomatoes;


as well as the Sopa de Frijoles Negros, which was sweet rather than spicy; and finally the signature Cuban Tostones, which are twice-fried green plantains with a garlic-mojo dipping sauce. I thought the tostones and mojo sauce were both bland compared to those I’ve had at other Cuban restaurants.

Cuba Libre Tostones

Sensing that the Cuban food not up to par with what I had grown accustomed to in Miami, I decided to deviate from a traditional Cuban dish for my entree. Instead, I ordered El Pollo del Solar, which is a lime-garlic marinated chicken breast with caramelized onions & steamed kale, served with a black bean croqueta and a sweet and sour mango gravy.  Technically, the chicken was cooked perfectly–juicy and succulent, but flavor-wise the dish was really lacking. I didn’t think the chicken was well seasoned, in fact I couldn’t detect any garlic notes and the black bean croqueta was very, very dry. Not even the mango gravy could restore it’s moisture content. The kale on the other hand, was very soft and delicious, as well as the mango gravy that bathed it.

Cuba Libre Pollo del Solar

Everyone else at the table ordered the traditional Arroz Con Pollo, which is saffron-scented rice, combined with boneless chicken thighs, wild mushrooms, green peas, Manzanilla olives and a hard-boiled egg. Garnishing the dish was an asparagus, palacio chorizo, and roasted Piquillo pepper salad, finished with a splash of Estrella Damm beer. The dish was enormous, and had beautiful presentation with the bright yellow color of the saffron, and the contrasting green of the peas and asparagus. I stole a couple of forkfuls from my friend Liz, and enjoyed them thoroughly, although it is not a traditional Cuban Arroz con Pollo. It was much lighter but very tasty in a unique way.

Cuba Libre Arroz con Pollo

For dessert, I (predictably) ordered the Tres Leches de Caramelo, which is a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three-dulce de leche flavored milks with a mocha moose.  I am a tres leches connoisseur, and this one was right up to par.

Cuba Libre Tres Leches

The other dessert that was ordered was the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Ice cream is ice cream. It was good!

Cuba Libre Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Overall, I’m not in a hurry to go back to Cuba Libre for dinner. But, I am very interested in going back for a night of salsa dancing and mojitos (and maybe some bread with mango butter?!?!). Having spent 5 years living in Miami, I got accustomed to traditional Cuban food that was priced insanely cheap. This being said, I find it difficult to spend an exorbitant amount of money on Cuban cuisine that doesn’t satisfy my craving for the classic dishes. The restaurant atmosphere was very cool though and the mojitos are worth the trip.

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Filed under Bars, Buck's County, Cocktails, Dessert, International Restaurants, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants

{ Do It Yourself Sangria }

In the spirit of all this Spanish food blogging, I have decided to post a DYI Sangria recipe. This is NOT my own recipe, but I think it is better than any of the other ones that I have made in the past. Therefore, I will humble myself and post the better recipe for you, which was created by our family friend, Tara Green. The nice thing about this particular sangria recipe is that it isn’t too strong, so you can enjoy it throughout duration of the evening (without needing a foot on the floor at bedtime). After my recent trip to Barcelona, I am pretty cautious when it comes to the potency of Sangria–the bartender at Taller de Tapas had me singing “La Vida Loca” after just one glass!

This recipe is easy to make, but the key to making any sangria truly delicious is patience. The drink originated in coastal Spain centuries ago to make young and bitter wines more palatable. So the longer the wine soaks with the fruit and juice, the better the drink tastes (especially the case when using cheaper wines!!). If you’re making it for a party, then make it the day before so all of the flavors develop. Tara allows at least 8 hours for this recipe to sit in the refrigerator, but suggests 24 if you think far enough in advance. Also, remember that the fruit needs to soak in the rum in one container and the wine and fruit juice need to soak in another container before they are combined for serving!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 bottles of red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)
  • 3 cups of peach/mango/orange juice divided
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of pineapple rum (or pineapple coconut – Malibu)
  • Diced fresh fruit; any combination of kiwi, pineapple, peach, pear, apple, orange, lemon, and strawberries

{ To Make SangriaCombine the wine with the 2 cups of the fruit juice and sugar. Cover and let refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, preferably 24.

Dice up the fruit and combine with the rum and remaining 1 cup of fruit juice. Cover and refrigerate minimum of 8 hours, preferably 24.

To serve, combine the fruit and rum mixture with the wine mixture and stir.

**If you want to make the sangria less intense, then you can strain and add the fruit, discarding the rum. On the other hand, if you want to give your Sangria an extra kick and a nice final note, you can top it off with a splash of club soda or sparkling wine (Cava is great!).


Filed under Cocktails, Recipes

{ Tapas y Patatas – Barcelona, Spain Pt. I }

Wandering the streets of Barcelona is absolutely amazing. You can stroll up and down the ever-crowded Las Ramblas (guarding your side bag for dear life, of course), or you can people watch in the artsy Barri Gotic, as you hop from café to café. Ariana and I enjoyed the street life so much that we ended up postponing the bulk of our “touristy” sightseeing for the last day. This became a problem when we realized that there were only 30 days in June though. You see, we had planned our time in Barcelona with the assumption that there were 31 days in the month. Needless to say, we never saw Parc Guell, or the magic fountain, or Casa Mila. We did, however, get to try some absolutely amazing restaurants:

Taller de Tapas (http://www.tallerdetapas.com/)

Placa de Sant Josep Oriol, 9 
08002 Barcelona
{In Barri Gotic} 

Grilled Prawns on Skewer with Garlic Mayonnaise

Assorted Tapas on the Bar


Red Sangria

Slow Roasted Pryenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme

Pan con Tomate

Taller de Tapas is a small plate restaurant with a pronounced Argentinian influence, and after trying just a few of their dishes I have concluded that although the Spanish may have invented the tapas concept, the Argentinians have perfected it! Ariana and I got started with a pitcher of Red Sangria, which was undeniably the best that I have ever tried. Finally, a sangria that tasted like alcohol and not straight fruit juice! We had a buzz after just one glass. Next they brought out the signature Spanish tapa, Pan con Tomate. This is made by rubbing a ripened tomato on baguette and then drizzling a little but of olive oil and kosher salt. The Chorizos were nice and spicy, and the left over oil was great for dipping our bread in. But the highlight of the meal was really the Pyrenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme. The meat was fall off the bone and melt in your mouth tender, and the seasoning was spot on. Ariana orders lamb just about everywhere we go, and even she said this was the best lamb that she has ever had. It was served with a couple of crunchy roasted potatoes and some green chilies…perfection, a must try!

Siete Portes (http://www.7portes.com/)

Passeig d’Isabel II, 14
o8003 Barcelona, Spain
{Subway: Barceloneta Stop}

"Rich Man's Paella"

Mussels Marinera

Red Sangria

"Rich Man's Paella"

When I googled the “best Paella in Barcelona,” Siete Portes returned the most hits. I was still a little leery after the whole Les Coloniales incident in Seville though, so I stopped to poll a few people on the streets (I take my food seriously). Everyone agreed that Siete Portes’ Rich Man’s Paella was in fact the best–one man even said that the President frequents the restaurant for it–and so Ariana and I headed there for a seafood feast. It’s a good thing that we got there early because we didn’t have a reservation and we got the last table (the only table) without a reserved sign on it. We got our usual pitcher of Sangria, which was good (but not nearly as delicious or strong as Taller de Tapas) and I had an order of Mussels Marinera as an appetizer. The mussels were very fresh and meaty and the sauce had great flavor, although it was a little sweet. Then the paella came out. The server presents the dish to the table in the large cast iron pan and then he serves each individual person their plate. Ariana and I got the Rich Man’s Paella, which means that everything is cleaned and de-boned so you don’t have to get messy while you eat. It’s so nice to have someone do all the work for you! The paella had just about everything but the kitchen sink in it. There was chicken, pork, chorizo, prawns, calamari, mussels, cuttlefish, and small shrimp all mixed into a tomato and saffron flavored rice. We cleaned every scrap of food off of our plates, and then walked back home in the silence of our food-coma.

Bo de B

At the Corner of Fusteria 14 and Merce 35
{right by the post office, Subway: Barceloneta Stop}

 My friends Sam and Carly both studied abroad in Barcelona and told us that we had to check out the Bo de B Sandwich shop while we were there. We had a hard time finding the little place, until we noticed a long line of people wrapped around a building corner. Sure enough, they were waiting for their custom crafted sandwiches at Bo de B. The sandwiches take quite some time to make because the meat (choice of chicken, steak, or seasoned tofu) is cooked to order. Once the meat is ready, you then choose from an exhaustive selection of sauces and toppings to create your own unique sandwich, which will only set you back about 3 euro (a steal as far as Europe is concerned!). I made a Greek styled sandwich (first one pictured) with chicken, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, red onion, hot sauce, and tzatziki. Ariana’s sandwich (second one pictured) had chicken, avocado, tomato, mayo, and italian dressing. The best part of the sandwich was definitely the crusty bread though. I normally eat my sandwiches open-face to save myself the carbs, but I made an exception for this delicious roll. Just make sure that you have a good supply of napkins on hand because they are not shy with the sauces! I thought this was a fabulous and filling lunch at a budget price point. Thanks Carly and Sam!

Rosa Negra (http://www.rosanegrabcn.com/rn/es/index.html)

Via Laietana, 46
Barcelona, Spain
Rosa Negra is a very modern and trendy Mexican restaurant located on one of the side streets off of Las Ramblas. Ariana and I ate here for our very first meal in Barcelona, again by the suggestion of Carly and Sam. We didn’t feel like playing the restaurant game so we just played it safe and stuck to the list of recommendations. Our flight got in at a weird time and happened to be adjusting to a time change still, so we were eating at the early hour 5 O’Clock, but the place was packed because it was Happy Hour for everyone else! Rosa Negra is definitely a popular happy hour spot with 3.50 euro margaritas and mojitos. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the margaritas had to be the frozen kind in order to be sold at the happy hour price, and so it was a lot more sugar than alcohol. I bit the bullet and paid the price to have my margarita on the rocks, and it was good and strong. For dinner we ordered the Chicken Flautas with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa verde. They were pretty average, but the salsa had a nice flavor. We also split an order of the Chicken Nachos with refried beans, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole. The cheese was a weird white pump cheese that I have never seen before and it freaked me out a little, but we was starving and so we ate them all. The best thing we had was the Chicken Fajita Salad with sliced avocado, tomato, and balsamic dressing. The salad was really beautiful with all the fresh produce and the dressing was a nice dijon balsamic with lots of garlic flavor. I probably wouldn’t recommend Rosa Negra for food, but the place has a very cool interior design and the scene at Happy Hour is a good time, if frozen margaritas are your thing!


Filed under International Restaurants