Plancha Delights

If you want to do dinner right, head to Plancha Tapas and Wine Bar on Franklin Ave in Garden City. It had been too long since I was able to get back there so I more than made up for it on a recent visit.

Josh, the owner, will be more than happy to guide you in your food and wine choices. My dinner date and I actually sat down and just asked him to recommend away. And he did. We started with this:

IMG_3597 A lovely Spanish board. Yum…

Is your mouth watering yet? Josh fine-tuned the board a bit and switched a few items around from what was on the menu. Love this about Plancha- they really want you to enjoy the experience and tailor to your preferences.

If you like olives, the olives at Plancha are amazing. We. Loved. Them. We also splurged with the cebada {yum}, shishito peppers {delish but a lot of peppers for just two people}, scallops {excellent}. The eggplant puree with root vegetables and almonds under the scallops was so delicious- I think it deserves a plate of its very own! In short, the meal was fantastic.

Josh paired all of this with a Spanish red that went perfectly- didn’t overwhelm the food at all but complemented it just right. My only regret was not having a second stomach to enjoy some of the other items on the menu.

There’s nothing else like Plancha in GC. Have you been yet?

931 Franklin Ave., Garden City

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Zucchini For Lent

I broke out an old family recipe for my Lenten Friday dinner tonight:

zucchini

For some reason, I only make zucchini pie {which is much like a casserole} during Lent. I don’t know why this is, considering it’s delish, easy to make and not-so-bad for you. I give it an even health{ier} twist by cutting down the oil to 1/4 cup and using Greek yogurt for the other 1/4 cup. I also go easy on the cheese. Other than that, I follow the recipe as is:

3 cups diced zucchini

4 eggs

1 cup Bisquick or pancake mix

1/2 cup grated cheese

1/2 cup oil

Pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley to taste

Combine ingredients in medium size mixing bowl. Put into greased baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 mins or until golden brown.

Enjoy a slice or two of zucchini pie with a glass of red wine and a salad… yum! This never sticks around long enough in my house to enjoy leftovers. You can find variations of this recipe for zucchini pie on allrecipes.com. I know pizza is a go-to for most people on Fridays during Lent, but I sometimes need to shake it up a bit. Next week on the Friday menu: Fettucini Alfredo.

Enjoy!

 

Chili Tasting For Charity

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your winter, Inside Garden City and Capo Ristorante are holding their second annual Super Chili Bowl~ Chili Tasting For Charity on Saturday, February 6th from 1-3pm. Warm up from the inside at Capo on Covert Ave. You can come just to taste lots of yummy chili (and have a drink or two) or you can enter as one of the competitors.


Enter as a team or individual. Just bring your chili, fully prepared, in a crockpot to Capo on Covert Ave at 12:45pm. The only cooking rule is that the chili must be homemade. The first place winner will earn a free stay at the beautiful Hotel Indigo on the North Fork! Cool prizes will be also awarded for 2nd and 3rd place. 

In addition to providing a spicy diversion from the winter blues, we will also be doing some good in the community. Proceeds from this event will be donated to the Hance Family Foundation. Chili entrants will pay $10 to compete. Cost for tasting: $10 or $15 if you want unlimited beer, wine or soda as well. Children are free. 



If you think you make a good chili, email us at InsideGardenCity@gmail.com or Facebook message InsideGardenCity to enter.  


Chili, wine and beer, friends and neighbors- what better way to spend a winter afternoon? 


See you at the Chili Bowl!


Farm to Table: Copperhill Opens {in Williston Park}

There’s no doubt that we have a lot of great restaurants at our fingertips here in Garden City and in close proximity, but farm to table restaurants? Not so much. I had the opportunity to dine at the newly opened Copperhill (formerly La Marmite) on Saturday night, located at 234 Hillside Ave, Williston Park and couldn’t wait to fill you in!


It was impressive to see the beautiful old Victorian building completely transformed into an upscale yet casual setting with modern farmhouse vibes. Very cool and also very welcoming. The bar has been expanded from La Marmite’s days and has a sophisticated but unpretentious feel. 


As far as Copperhill’s menu and offerings, I started off browsing a great drinks, beer and wine menu. Tough choices but I decided on a glass of Rioja. The food menu consists of modern American selections and divides into three sections: snacks, apps and entrees. More tough choices again… especially since the focus here is on fresh, seasonal food and local ingredients.


I started with the Devils on Horseback… appropriately named… which consisted of bleu cheese almond stuffed figs {to write home about} wrapped in bacon. The short rib poutine with cheddar came highly recommended and lived up to its rep. As a second course, the scallops were tender and delish and the buratta with acorn squash was a close second. 


Entrees that called my name were the black sea bass and classic burger with Velveeta {a little taste of Americana}, but I went with the homemade ricotta cavatelli served with braised lamb. Yum. My dining partner went with the bbq pork short rib with pretzel spaetzle for an entree. Quite honesty, I didn’t know what pretzel spaetzel was before dining at Copperhill but I can say that I’m a fan now! Dessert {my favorite course} was solid with a flourless chocolate cake and pumpkin tart. Everything was carefully crafted and very tasty.


Since they focus on seasonal items and locally grown food at Copperhill, the menu will change often which makes me want to head back soon! Have you been? What did you think?

PS- As you can see, my photos of the actual dishes are limited… which is simply because everything was so good that it didn’t stick around long enough to be photographed. Another reason to go back!


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Local {Quality} Eats

Warning: If you haven’t eaten lunch yet, you may be feeling especially hungry after reading this post. 


Two nights ago, at the last minute, I started craving some really good Italian food (good meaning high quality, foodie-worthy food). Since I had nothing planned and no particular restaurant in mind, I wasn’t sure where to go. I didn’t want anything formal or stiff and I didn’t want to travel far so I decided on Capo Ristorante. Capo is usually my go-to panini place but I haven’t been there for a sit-down in way too long. 

Capo is a little Italian restaurant on Covert Ave in Floral Park, formerly a La Bottega. It’s inviting and non-stuffy, yet the food is amaaaazing. I’ll let the pictures do the talking: 

 We started off with zucchini flowers. Better than the ones I had in Rome. Seriously.


 Followed by the most amazing figs- TDF. 


 Parmesan pesto salmon with gorgonzola mashed potatoes and escarole- mmm. 


 Scrumptous stuffed chicken with the same potatoes. 


A fabulous Napa Chardonnay rounded everything out just right. 


In summary, the food here pretty much always knocks my socks off, yet the environment isn’t stiff or too fancy. It’s a cozy, informal place turning out dishes which rival some of NYC’s best. Capo is a local gem for sure if you are a self-declared foodie {like me}!

Have you been? Let me know your thoughts. 


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Calogero’s- A Review

I dined at Calogero’s on Franklin Ave last night and was able to sample a few items on the menu. I know there are a lot of Calogero fans out there and I count myself as one of them.

We were greeted by pleasant and friendly staff. The staff is one thing this restaurant consistently has going for them. Each staff member is always pleasant, friendly, smiling. Not necessarily a given these days when you go… well, just about anywhere. Our waitress couldn’t have been nicer.

Outside seating was “eh”. Don’t get me wrong- it’s definitely pleasant out back. Their set-up almost makes you forget that you are adjacent to a parking lot. Unfortunately, the bugs make you remember. There were lots of tiny black gnats flying all around us and our food. A few citronella candles back there may improve things in that department. But hey, aren’t bugs just part of the charm of dining outside? I have to admit, al fresco dining is one of those things that often sounds great in theory, but may involve a gnat flying up your nose in practice. But I digress… 

The small garden salad was just right with a light vinaigrette and the Funghi Portobello Napoleon appetizer was perfect: fresh mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, tomato, basil, olive oil and balsamic reduction. It’s presentation was as superb as its taste. I would definitely recommend this if you haven’t tried it yet.

Funghi Portobello Napoleon


The small Neapolitan pizza was delicious with a great sauce, yummy cheese and cooked to perfection. Chicken Parmigiano with pasta is a classic Italian dish that almost never disappoints and Calogero’s did a fine job with that as well. The Salmone e Basilico was a bit disappointing thanks to a number of small bones and vegetable risotto that was nothing to write home about. Calogero’s quickly recovered on the Salmon dish by comping us on dessert so all’s well that…

I will definitely be back to Calogero’s. Next time I may try the Gamberi Shrimp. In the meantime, I’ll continue to have their pizza delivered on the reg. Have you been to Calogero’s? What’s your favorite dish?


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Nutella Nirvana {Recipes}

If you’re on a diet, this is your warning to stop reading now.


As some of you may know, I’ve been on a serious Nutella kick lately. Perhaps it’s because World Nutella Day just passed on February 5th (am I the only one who thinks Feb. 5th should be a national holiday?) or because I discovered that Costco sells giant size jars (in a Costco style two pack of course). Regardless, the Nutella has been flowing in my kitchen lately and it’s been heavenly. Try these and report back. 



  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 13×9″ glass baking dish.
  2. Using an electric mixer, combine sugars & vanilla with melted butter. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
  4. Add flour mixture slowly to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix well.
  5. In the microwave, heat Nutella until it thins out a bit (approximately 1 minute). Stir it well. Stir the softened, melted Nutella into the batter. then pour it into a prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.









Grilled Nutella & Marshmallow Sandwiches:

This dessert has appropriately been referred to as the love child of s’mores and a grilled cheese.

Makes 2 sandwiches
INGREDIENTS:
4 slices soft white bread
2 tablespoons Nutella (or more, or less — depending on your taste!)
40 mini marshmallows*
2 tablespoons butter, divided
*You can also sub in 2 tablespoons (or more!) of marshmallow fluff.
PREPARATION:
1. Spread Nutella on two slices of bread, 1 tablespoon on each slice. Spread marshmallows out evenly on the other two slices, 20 on each each slice. Pair them together to make two sandwiches.
2. Heat a small skillet or grill pan over medium-low heat, then melt half a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Put one sandwich in the skillet and cook until the underside is golden brown, about a minute and a half. Add another half a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, flip the sandwich and cook until both sides are golden brown and the marshmallows are melted, about a minute and a half. 




adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Makes approx. 2 1/2 dozen cookies
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Using an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until blended. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, one at a time. Then add in the vanilla and yogurt and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill your dough and Nutella for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball. Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. If necessary, use small bits of dough to plug the gaps.  Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten, just slightly, with your hand VERY gently.

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt right after they come out of the oven, and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.


I suggest making a batch and keeping them in the freezer for whenever someone pisses you off, breaks your heart or you just have a bad day. You know what I’m talking about. Remember, Nutella makes everything better!


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Super Chili Bowl Results!

This weekend, Inside Garden City had the pleasure of co-hosting the first {Annual} Super Chili Bowl at Capo on Covert Ave. There were 11 chilis to be tasted. Local residents came out and put their dishes to the {taste} test. It was a packed house.



Amongst the chili tasting, beer and wine were flowing and tasters were tasting. Each taster received a score sheet and went to work. With the tasters as judges, everyone was required to taste and score each chili. It was a tough call- most of the entrants scored equally well on presentation and aroma. The difference came down to taste and texture. After much tasting, re-tasting, scoring, and TUMS- popping, the results were in. Drum roll please…



Howard White went home with top chili honors for his Brixton Chili Bowl. He claimed the fabulous prize which was donated by the North Fork’s Hotel Indigo: a one night stay at the hotel and a gift card to their in-house restaurant. 


The second place winner, Toby Gopen, won a $100 gift card to Capo for her “Helluva Chili”. Third place went to Donna Sirounian for her “Best New York Skyline” chili. She won a bottle of wine and a $25 gift card to Capo. 

 


Proceeds from this event are being donated to the Hance Family Foundation. 


Amazing job done by all and congrats to the winners. Hopefully everyone has fully recovered from their stomach indigestion!


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Guest Blogger- Food For Thought

Inside Garden City is delighted to introduce new guest blogger Tia Bonacore. Tia is on the blog today with a piece on one of her favorite local places. 


If you are looking for a way to keep your mood boosted and your health in check after the holiday season, here’s a thought…It’s ‘Food for Thought’ on 7th Street- Garden City’s very own “oasis for health and well being”. The Food for Thought health food store has been serving freshly made juices, salads and other organic foods to the Garden City community for over 36 years, yet it still feels like the hip new place that everyone is buzzing about. 

The staff is both knowledgeable and courteous. They also sell a range of hard to find organic beauty products and essential oils. The owner Anju was pleasant as she answered customers’ questions while working the register herself. I am a fan of their food and exceptional customer service but I also appreciate the fact that all of the items on the menu are listed clearly if they are vegan, soy/dairy free or gluten free. Whatever your dietary concerns are, there are many options to choose from. 

If you’re feeling sluggish from an evening of over indulgence… try the “Super Detox” $6.99 for a 12 oz and your body will thank you. My personal favorite raw juice is called the “Rejuvenator“. It consists of green apples, carrot, ginger, beets and lemon..a wonderful way to keep your skin glowing during the dry winter months. If juicing is not your thing, then try one of their many freshly prepared hot entrees like the quinoa sweet potato patty. It’s delicious and will give you enough fuel to get through your next power yoga class. Now that’s food worth thinking about! 

















“Food for Thought” is located at 154 seventh street in Garden City. Check out their website for more info. www.foodforthoughtgc.com


Inline image 5





Frequent customers can rack up reward points for discounts.


Inline image 1

“The Rejuvenator” Carrot, Apple, Beet, Ginger & Lemon.


















Eat your colors! Grilled Veggies with seasoning. 


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Eat or Compete: The Super Chili Bowl

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your winter, Inside Garden City and Capo Ristorante are holding their first Super Chili Bowl on Saturday, January 31st. From 1-3pm, warm up from the inside at Capo on Covert Ave where we’ll be cooking up some fun! You can come as a taster to sample and score various chills, or be one of the competitors.

Our Call For Teams is now underway. You can enter this event as an individual, a business, a restaurant or office. If you think you make a good chili, prove it! Email us at InsideGardenCity@gmail.com to enter. All you need is a name for your chili and a crockpot. The instructions are simple- cook your chili at home and bring it, fully prepared, in a crockpot to Capo on Chili Bowl day. You can use any recipe and ingredients you’d like. The only cooking rule is that the chili must be 100% homemade (no commercial chili mixes). 

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. If competing, remember to register your chili by the January 29th due date! 

In addition to providing a spicy diversion from the winter blues, we will also be doing some good in the community. Proceeds from this event will be donated to the Hance Family Foundation. Chili entrants will pay $20 to compete. Those who only want to sample/vote will pay $10. $5 additional for unlimited beer, wine or soda. $5 for children.

If you’re interested in stimulating your palate by being a taster, you will receive a score sheet and will grade each chili based on select criteria, such as presentation, taste and texture.

So come down to the Super Chili Bowl and get some relief from the winter doldrums. I look forward to seeing you where the spice is right (womp womp).


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