the best tapas in nyc with my best friend

When your Best Friend (yes, I made this a proper noun) comes to visit you know you have to pull out all the stops and that includes going down memory at the best tapas restaurant in the city.

LOCATION
Alta
64 W. 10th Street (Between 5th and 6th Ave.)
http://www.altarestaurant.com/

Hidden along 10th street amongst shrubs, trees, and plants,  Alta definitely deserves all its fame and glory. There is always a crowd outside on the sidewalk and plenty of folks waiting at the bar for a table in their intimate two-floor restaurant. Beautiful candles light up the place. It is perfect for a date, and it was even more perfect to reminisce with my Best Friend about our first international trip together, Spain. I’ve mentioned this before but tapas restaurants are kind of my thing for a few reasons: I can order multiple dishes and not feel like pig, there is always sangria on the menu, and last but not least, you get to share with your fellow diners. Remember people, sharing is caring.

There are 3 staples on the menu that you must order….no matter what.

Fried Goat Cheese – 4 fried goat cheese balls are served on a stick on top of a lavender infused honey. When I laid eyes on this dish on the menu I knew this would end up being a happy marriage. Goat cheese and honey are still going on strong. The floral note adds a nice sweetness with the tangy, creaminess of the goat cheese. This is not a light cheese dish in any shape or form so be ready for the crispy, smooth, sweet, deliciousness that is to come.

goat cheese

Bacon Wrapped Dates and Olives – 6 delectable treats came just in time for us to enjoy our first glass of red sangria. These are stuffed with almonds and provide a balance of sweet and savory. Salty, chewy, sweet, and crispy. It takes skill to get all those adjectives in one bite. I enjoyed the olives more than the dates only because it was my first time having them paired with bacon. I should have known….bacon anything is always good.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts – These are the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. in life. hands down. There is absolutely no competition in sight.  This is one the most popular dishes at the restaurant so don’t skimp on these because you are afraid of green vegetables. They come with Fuji apples, creme fraiche, and pistachios. The apples added some bite and freshness to the dish. The pistachios enhance the crispiness. The creme fraiche provided a sour note that creates balance. This is the type of balance that makes you vow to never give the stank eye to Brussels sprouts again (for all the Brussels sprouts haters out there) or to place an order for 2 helpings next time you visit (for all the Brussels sprouts lovers out there). Here are the before and after shots. It is important that you mix thoroughly so that every bite is amazing.

brussels     brussels 2

This is Best Friend approved. Look how happy she is!

bf

Which of the 3 dishes do you think you would enjoy the most? I think you can tell which one mine is!

signature3

Advertisements

mediterranean chickpea salad

Back in the spring of 2012 my girlfriends and I decided to spend a Saturday afternoon cooking at a class that was held in Harlem through Jackie Arnett, where we learned to prepare simple and healthy Middle Eastern food. It was at this class that I was introduced to a new spice, Aleppo pepper. Aleppo pepper originates from the city of Aleppo which was along the Silk Road in northern Syria which now includes Turkey. When ripe the pepper becomes a burgundy color and then is dried, de-seeded and ground coarsely to be used along other Middle Eastern spices like sumac, paprika, and dried mint. Aleppo pepper has a very mild heat level with some fruitiness and mild cumin undertones and has been described as being similar to the ancho chile in flavor profile. I was able to find Aleppo pepper at a a spice shop right in Murray Hill called Kalustyan’s. If you are in search of a particular spice or sauce this is the place to go. I went to look for some Aleppo pepper and ended up pacing the aisles for about an hour doing some good ole food exploring. Ok, enough of the back story about this recipe…it is time to get cooking!

mediterranean chickpea salad

adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

This recipe is perfect for someone that cooks for one. It will make 3 servings

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 jar of roasted red bell peppers (6 oz of 12 oz jar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (mine came from straight from my mother’s garden)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of capers

Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon caper brine
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, use a microplane to mince
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.)  Drain chickpeas and rinse with water in a colander. Be sure you allow ample time for the chickpeas to drain well and dry thoroughly.

drain

2.) Heat EVOO in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add chickpeas and Aleppo pepper and brown and saute until golden for about 10 minutes. Gently toss chickpeas so they are well coated with the Aleppon pepper. After cooking the chickpeas, remove from the stove and cool.

skillet

3.) While your chickpeas are cooking, chop roasted red peppers, mint and measure capers. Make sure all these ingredients are well drained.

cutting board

4.) Combine all dressing ingredients together and whisk thoroughly.

5.) Mix chickpeas, roasted red peppers, mint, capers, and dressing in a salad bowl. Stir until the ingredients are well coated. You can serve this salad immediately or allow a few hours-overnight in the fridge for the dressing to really work its magic and marinate.

close up finished finished

I’ve made this recipe for a healthy homemade lunch option and doubled it to take to a picnic in Central Park. The opportunities to use this recipe are endless. Have you cooked with Aleppo pepper before? What other recipes do you think you can incorporate this spice into?

signature3