Restaurant Review: Barrio

My week of good food continued last night at Barrio with my stepdad, John. As I mentioned, John was in the ‘hood for business and very generously offered to take me out for dinner. I picked a spot right here in the Slope that I’ve walked by many times but have never experienced first-hand.

Barrio is sort of a Latin-fusion restaurant with festive music, bright colors, and exciting wall murals:


We sat at a table by the window, and if it had been a bit warmer, we could have opened the window right out to the sidewalk. Perfect for people-watching. The chips came immediately with two salsas. I was hungry, so this was a very exciting development.


The red salsa was my favorite because it was sweet. Maybe they used peppadew? Or maybe I just like to say/write peppadew

Anyway, we housed those chips and got a second basket (of which we ate a significant portion as well, minus the leftovers that I took home). The second basket came along with some freshly mashed, chunky guacamole, on the house. It’s hard to beat free and fresh guacamole.


I also ordered one of the specialty cocktails — a “perfecto nestorindo” — because it had agave, fresh mango, and pineapple, and I’m a sucker for drinks with fresh fruit!


It was good, but it kind of tasted just like a regular old margarita. I should have gotten the strawberry mojito. Next time!

John and I split the sweet plantain and black bean empanadas (lightly fried with Oaxaca cheese and tomatillo salsa) for an appetizer. Obviously, any dish that contains sweet plantains and black beans is a given!


They were delicious, but I don’t think I need to tell you that.


I threw a little guac on top for fun. As I remarked to John, any time I can get sweet plantains, black beans, and avocado in the same bite, I’m a happy camper.

For his main dish, John ordered el plato del dia: sauteed shrimp enchilada with cilantro jalapeno pickled onion salad and achiote salsa, queso fresco, and crema nata.


I had a bite and it was delicious — that red salsa again!! Check out the beautiful ribbons of salsa and crema:


I went for the Yucatan shrimp with cilantro and jalapeno marinade, calamari coconut rice, and pickled onions:


A little spicy, very cilantro-y, and very fresh! The shrimp was perfectly charred:


And that coconut calamari rice! I tend to avoid white rice since it’s so nutritionally useless (it’s actually one thing that I feel ok letting go in the trash can, gasp!), but this rice was amaaaaaazing with the hint of coconut and the rings of calamari. I ate every single bite.

John and I decided we had room for dessert (because dessert goes to a different stomach, obviously). The waitress recommended the chocolate-crusted coconut cheesecake. Doesn’t that sound brilliant? But, cheesecake struck me as a little bit too heavy after the loaded meal, plus we were in the mood for something more “authentic.” Being that I’m on vacation and all, we chose the Borracho Tres Leches cake (fyi, borracho = drunk) with anejo tequila salsa and whipped “crema.” (I love how they just threw random Spanish words all over the menu.) The whipped crema turned out to be the leaning tower of crema. We watched it topple, and now you can, too:


Once the crema had settled on the side of the plate, I smushed it all back on top of the cake and cut it in half. John got me a spoon at the end so I could Olympic all the extra milk out of its misery. Finding a home for every last crumb applies to drips, too, you see.

So, it was a lovely meal that involved all of my favorite Latin food components and excellent company. I left stuffed, but not painfully so … which is a big accomplishment for me 😀 Thank you, John! (And mom, we were thinking of you the whole meal and ate extra in your honor. Wish you could have been there!)

What is your favorite Spanish/Mexican/Latin food item?

P.S. I completely forgot to add, look what came with the bill!


Mexican “gelt”! It was good chocolate, too 🙂

Blame it on the men

I went for a run this afternoon. Oops! It wasn’t my fault, though. The firemen made me do it.

Post-run, I was inspired by Abbie to make a modified (aka quick) raw Snickers bar.


But before I get into the raw Snickers details, back to the run. I was lazing on my couch this afternoon (very busy doing nothing, mind you) when my buzzer buzzed. I found five firemen on the other side needing to come in and do some sort of fire escape inspection.

I did not mind inviting five firemen into my home, as I do not encounter manly men often (or ever) for two reasons: (1) I live in NYC, where men tend to be, err, more “cultured” than most and (2) I am a social worker specializing in infant and parent development. For these reasons, I enjoy the FDNY. They’re good at keeping me safe and, hmmm, putting out fires. Of course, when the men arrived, I was still in my pajamas and surrounded by used tissues since I’ve been plagued by either allergies or a nasty cold (not sure which) since the moment I finished my last paper.

Anyway, one of the men came in and checked my balcony and roof while the others waited outside. After the inspection, all the firemen and their truck were still hanging around outside (I think they were trying to get into the basement apartment) for a long long time. And the urge to go for a run so I could run by them (in running clothes and not schlumpy pjs) and soak up some man energy came over me! Crazy, right? But I’m telling you, it is so rare that I get this chance! I did a rapid-fire costume change and flew out the door like I had somewhere to go, exchanging a few pleasantries with the men on my way before I took off. Seriously, I felt like I was running on clouds. It was amazing. I need to start hanging out by the firehouse.

I had planned to just run off down the block and then re-route to the gym so that I could stick to my no-running plan, but it was so nice out that I kept going for a full 4-mile loop around the park. I left my apartment so fast that I didn’t have time to bother with the HRM, but I felt like I was actually running an 11- or 12-minute mile, as opposed to the 15 that has been standard for me lately. The run wasn’t pain-free, but the pain was very consistent and dull and of the sort that I could imagine handling for, say, 13.1 miles on May 30th, assuming it doesn’t escalate. We’ll see! Anyway, now I’m really not going to run again before the half.

OK, if you’ve made it this far, your reward is that you get to see my raw Snickers again:


My short-cut candy involved a plump Medjool date stuffed with Artisana cacao bliss and some peanut pieces. Oh man, it was so good! Really. Try this.

IMG_0072I’m also pretty sure that there was an Oh!Nuts whole strawberry in dark chocolate involved in the post-run desserting, but who really knows since they’re not all that photogenic (yet delicious enough that you NEED to try them as well).

OK, another day has flown by so fast! I’ve actually felt really busy all day, but I’m not quite sure what I’ve accomplished. Vacation is so strange. Anyway, my stepdad is in town for work, so we’re off to dinner in a bit. I’ll be back with the report later!

Have you done any accidental exercise today? And how do you feel about firemen? And the combination of fruit + chocolate?

Restaurant Review: La Fonda del Sol

Dinner tonight was the most amazing deal ever, thanks to Kate!


As part of Dine Out New York, Kate received a 50/50 coupon in honor of her birthday two weeks ago, so she invited Gina and me to help her out with it. With the coupon, we could choose from the list of participating restaurants and get $50 off our meal as long as we spent $50 between the three of us. We chose La Fonda del Sol, and I’m so glad we did since we basically just enjoyed a very affordable 11-dish tasting menu!


We knew we wanted to order about $100 worth of food to take full advantage of the deal (i.e. spend as little as possible but still get the full $50 value of the coupon). Our server was so helpful and counseled us through the best strategy, and we decided to order mostly from the tapas menu (rather than from the main courses) so we could share and get little tastes of as much as possible.

While we were waiting for our little dishes, our server came back around to present us with a baguette option: black olive or traditional. I went for the black olive baguette, of course!


I loved this baguette. The olives gave it a fruity flavor, and look at how prominent they were:


Our food came out all at once, and after I spent about 20 minutes taking pictures (Kate and Gina are so patient with me!), I set to work on the task of thirding everything. I am a pro with utensil Olympics, but mostly I want to make sure that everyone gets to try equal amounts of everything, so this is my favorite job 😀 I got out my knife and split it all into thirds … some split more easily than others though!

The server noticed my excessive photography and asked what was up. When I explained about the food blog, he came back with extra menus for me to take home so that I could consult them when I wrote about the meal. Thank goodness, because I’m not sure I’d be able to remember all the critical details on my own!

Here’s how the feast went down …

Garlic shrimp “cazuelita” with olive oil, chile pods, and garlic chips:


Salchichon de Vic with cured pork loin, chorizo, and fuet Catalan:


Empanadas filled with chicken and chorizo:


Piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish rice and rabbit:


Tuna tacos with avocado and jalapeno pickled onion:


These baby tacos were delicious — kind of like sushi with a Spanish flair.

“Albondiguillas” meat balls skewers with tomato and pimenton:


Sea scallops tiradito with chiles, citrus, tomato, and cilantro:


When we were debating between these scallops and the day boat fluke tiradito (with pickled golden pineapple, avocado, and jalapeno), our server told us we needed to choose the scallops. He said they were so good that he dreamed about them at night. He was right!! I’m pretty sure that visions of scallops tiradito will be swimming through my dreams tonight.

Queso Iberico croquetas with membrillo:


This was my favorite of all the dishes. Queso Iberico is made from a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk, and it was so creamy and melty when we cut into the croquetas. Membrillo is a paste made of quince (a fruit that’s sort of apple-y), so the sweet sauce plus the farmy creamy cheese was an insurmountable combination.

The table kind of fell silent as we ate because every single bite was jaw-achingly delicious. We each kept saying over and over, How does everything taste so good? and, I can’t get over how many flavors there are! We were thrilled that we chose to do the meal this way because it felt like a fancy tasting menu at a fancy restaurant, which it pretty much was. Our server did tell us that we needed to come back to try the main courses, too — “It will give you tons of material for the blog” — because that’s what they’re known for. He hadn’t steered us wrong yet, so I believed him! Just have to wait until the money starts coming in …

But we weren’t done yet! Our ever reliable server gave us three dessert recommendations, and we took all of them 😛

Wicked chocolate cake with manjari chocolate, guajillo chile, cinnamon, and mint ice cream:


I adore spicy chocolate, so I was excited about this cake. Of the three desserts, though, this was my least favorite because the rich rich chocolate overpowered the spice. Not really a problem, since I enjoy rich rich chocolate, but I wanted to taste the chile and cinnamon!

Tarta de manzana deliciosa (“delicious apple tart”) with almond cream and apricot ice cream:


Is that tart not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?? Those thin thin slices of apple were so painstakingly arranged! The apricot ice cream that came with it was some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted (and I’m usually not a fruity ice cream girl!):


Bunyols/cinnamon fritters with salty caramel sauce, maracuya (passion fruit) peppercorn rose sauce, and orange chocolate sauce:


These little cinnamon sugar donuts were so fun! The dipping sauces were genius (salted caramel, helLO) … so good that I finished them off straight from the spoon after the donuts were gone.

That would be enough to qualify as a sufficiently mind-blowing meal, right? Except that this case of miniature (think thumbnail-sized) pastries arrived with our bill … all for us!


The case actually had three layers that pulled out like drawers. We all wanted to take it home!


I requested a knife again so that I could do the Olympic honors and slice everything into thirds. The goodies (the specialty of the in-house pastry chef) did not come with labels, but my guess is that the little squares were almond cakes with buttercream icing, the yellow circles were sandwich cookies with maracuya cream, the triangles were lemon tarts, and the chocolates were filled with dark chocolate hazelnut cream. For drool purposes:



So … I guess you could say that I loved this restaurant. I recommend it 100 million percent with no reservations. It is pretty pricey, but if I had the money, I would pay full price to eat here — it was that good. Thanks to Kate’s incredible birthday deal, the entire meal (including tax) came to just $59 for all three of us. We definitely walked out of that restaurant feeling quite pleased with ourselves (and perfectly satisfied with our perfect food amounts). As Kate said, “It’s been a good food week for us!”

So, if you’re in New York and you can afford it, you have to eat here, or at least sign up for Dine Out New York so you can get in on the 50/50 action, too!

What’s the best dining deal you have encountered?

P.S. I am entering Danielle’s Vacation Giveaway, and you should, too. She’s got some cute and tasty treats up for grabs that I can use to pretend I actually went somewhere fun and beachy this summer 😀

You’ll never believe it

I did not get hungry until 7:30 tonight!

Granted, I ate way too much at the party last night (at least an extra day’s worth of food, in my opinion), but I’m so impressed that my appetite also got that message, especially considering the workout I had this morning!

After the gym, I pretty much lazed around all day (have to take advantage while I have the chance) and contented myself with soymilked and honeyed yerba mate:


My dinner (and only meal of the day) consisted of brilliantly crispy roasted brussels sprouts, the rest of my tuna humbangu, and 1/8 chopped avocado:


(It tasted yummy even though it looks sort of swampy …)

See the crisp?


Dessert was a slice of healthy cheesecake, blackberries, and my last UliMana treat: a dark cacao raw truffle.


As usual with UliMana, this truffle was super rich and dark and bittersweet, and I just love that it manages to taste this way while simultaneously being packed with excellent nutrition. Here’s the inside:


Since this is a food-light post, I might as well take the opportunity to show you a couple more UliMana goodies that I realized I forget to blog about when I was mired in papers. Obviously, they were exponentially delicious. I’ll let the pictures do the talking 🙂

Hand-dipped chocolate date roll:


Lemon fig pecan bar (my favorite!):


The whole UliMana family:


Siiiigh, I wish I had more!

Was today food-light or food-heavy for you?

Too much

Ohhhh my goodness, the food at the party last night was completely expansion-worthy! (The party was fun, too.) Here’s the birthday girl, Olivia, modeling one of her creations:


Olivia made everything herself, using her own recipes! And it was phenomenal.

This pizza was the star of the evening:


It had ricotta, honeyed goat cheese, caramelized onions, and truffle oil. I lost count after a while, but I might have had 12 (or more) pieces.

Olivia also made baby pulled pork sandwiches:


I had one sandwich … and then kept picking more pork off the tray every time I walked by and saw that a piece had fallen off of its bread.


She also made ridiculous macaroni and cheese and an amazing baked french onion cream cheese dip. Here’s my first of many bowls:


I also had a couple of these savory elephant ears:


They were herby and also had some delicious crispy meat — maybe proscuitto? — inside.

Here’s another bowl. Was it the second? Was it the seventh? No one knows.


On top of all of this, Olivia made cupcakes! Super chocolatey and moist with mascarpone-kahlua frosting.


I had one full cupcake, but by the end of the night, things had devolved to the point where I was dipping pretzels into the icing on others. My camera had been relegated to the purse by then.

Some other things I encountered included a piece of Entenmann’s chocolate-covered donut:


And 1.5 of Kate’s perfectly chewy secret-recipe chocolate chip cookies:


And an, errrr, unpictured cup or so of skittles that went down wayyyyyy too easily.

The party itself was a blast, and I wish I had remembered to take some pictures of the apartment because it was gorgeous and had way more space than I’m used to seeing in NYC. I also got to catch up with some old NYU friends (hi Jenniy!) that I hadn’t seen in ages. Thanks, Olivia!

I slept till 10 this morning (apparently, the trick to being able to sleep in is to go to bed at 3 am) and then went right to the gym because I had so much energy from all that extra food last night! I did 30 minutes steps, legs on the machines, and 30 minutes elliptical. The whole thing took about an hour and 45 minutes and I burned just under 800 calories, but honestly, I’m looking forward to when the half marathon is over and behind me and I can put an end to this cardio-loading (and the inadvertent yet not unrelated carb-loading). It’s taking a toll! With that in mind, I also spent some time this morning perusing YogaDork (an amazingly witty, sarcastic, and informative yoga blog, even for someone like me who has a somtimeslike-hate relationship with yoga) because I need to find more body-friendly ways to exercise!

What is too much for you right now?