Sunday, October 30, 2011

Maharlika- Making a Mark in the East Village

Maharlika (pronounced- mahar licka) means noble in Tagalog, one of the Philippines' main languages spoken. I walked into Maharlika in the East Village and felt like it was a nice place. A little regal. It was definitely different from the other Filipino restaurants I am used to in Woodside, Queens. 

Maharlika is more current, trendy, and upscale than your regular neighborhood Filipino restaurant. There is no hot counter of food here. Nor is there karaoke available or a giant television blasting TFC (The Filipino Channel) in the background. Maharlika is a proper sit down restaurant, complete with a bar and menu that reinvents Filipino food presentation to appeal to foreigners and Filipino food lovers. The owners and management are proud of what they have done with the place. They should be. Service and food was excellent.
Sizzling Sisig
We went to Maharlika for brunch. The first dish was Sizzling Sisig with Egg and a side of garlic rice. The sisig, a pork lover's dream (chopped pig snout, pig ears, pork belly, and cheeks boiled, grilled, and sauteed) was served in a cast iron skillet. The waiter offered to mix in the beautiful egg on top with the sisig. The yolk broke and quickly cooked all while adding a creaminess to the pork.

Maharlika made it a point to introduce each and every patron to the customs and culture of the Philippines. Chicharron. Vinegar. Banana ketchup. Pork. These are a few things that characterize staples in a Filipino diet and were showcased by the waiter. We made sure we had plenty to eat. You cannot go to a Filipino home and starve. That's not how Filipinos do things. We also like to share. My group ate off of each other's plate. We weren't all Filipino but the custom of sharing transcended ethnicity. I like to think of sharing as a basic rule of manners to follow.
Tapsilog and the complimentary Chicken Chicharron in the corner
The Tapsilog was complimented with a medley of tomatoes, cucumber, sibuyas, and cilantro. The tapa, fried meat, was not too greasy. It's a sweet meat. Filipinos like their food sugary.
Eggs Imelda with Caviar
The Eggs Imelda impressed me the most. The standouts on this dish were the poached eggs on pandesal (Filipino bread) and laing (taro root) with humongous grilled prawns. We opted to get the eggs with an "accessory" of caviar. As for the prawns, the proper way to eat it was to consume the tail and suck out the fat and juice from the head portion. 
Ube Waffles and Fried Chicken
The brunch special was fried chicken and Ube waffles. Ube is a purple yam. The waffle was giant, thin, and purple. It had a hint of yam flavor and was served with macapuno syrup. I liked the chunks of young coconut and the slight sweetness of it.
Mango French Toast
We ordered Mango French Toast for dessert. This dish looked the biggest and sweetest. It was actually the perfect way to end a meal. It was slathered with the same macapuno syrup used on the chicken and waffles.

The serving size at Maharlika is just right. The food was fancified, which was different than a typical Filipino breakfast, but definitely well received by everyone. I look forward to the dinner options available. Since Maharlika is only in its soft opening stages, they do not formally have a set menu other than brunch. 

If one thing is consistent, it is Maharlika's dedication to service. A few months back, when Maharlika was doing a pop up at Resto Leon, I emailed them inquiring reservations for a party of 35. Nicole emailed me back immediately ready to make accommodations. On our most recent visit for brunch, Nicole recognized one of our party from Twitter, and made it a point to introduce herself as well as to make sure we got our French Toast because, of all the wonderful dishes offered, we really came for the French Toast! I find it so refreshing that this Filipino gem really keeps in touch with their customers. I do believe that is what is going to keep them coming back. After all, don't you want to feel at home and loved when you go out to eat? It's the Filipino way.

Photography Credits: Maharlika (logo), Stella Dacuma Schour Photography

111 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Creators Project DUMBO- Saturday Music/Art/Film

"The Creators Project is an ongoing global arts and technology initiative created by Intel and Vice in order to support visionary artists, musicians, and filmmakers who are using technology to push the bounds of creative expression."
                                            -- the creators project

Brooklyn was on a trip of sorts when The Creators Project teamed up with New York to bring its two day festival of music, art installations, and film to DUMBO last weekend.

Granted admission was in demand. The eager had to RSVP in advance and pick only one day during the festival to attend due to the large amount of traffic The Creators Project attracted. Not everyone got in. A few days before the event, everyone who RSVP'ed either got an e-mail that said, "First things first-- you'll need to pick up your wristband," or ,"We're sorry to announce that we are unable to confirm your RSVP for Saturday, Oct. 15". Selection was done randomly.

The festivites ran all day from 11:30 AM - 10:00 PM. There were multiple stages for concerts and open galleries for art installations, film screenings, and dj showcases.

A$AP Rocky
Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky and Clams Casino was the first full show I caught. I like to be in front to feel the full intensity of the artists and bump with the music. ASAP Rocky was ready to rock and rumble, as rap was the new rock and roll that day. They were heavily interactive with the crowd and 10 minutes into their performance they jumped into the audience to crowd surf and a mosh pit was created. Beverage cups full of liquid were thrown and after all of that I quickly escaped to the back. I decided I needed to get to safety before I got caught in the ruckus.

After A$AP Rocky, the music took a dramatic turn and into the genre of electronica. At the Tobacco Warehouse, Yuksek, from France, got the fans grooving with his vocals, keyboard skills, and backup of guitar and drums. He was quite charming with his French accent and little quips. The energy was full force. Yuksek will be in New York for the rest of the week playing a few shows in the Lower East Side for the CMJ music festival.

Los Angeles based DJ Nosaj Thing broke it down with a live video installation while he spun. The kid, often in a trance and extremely focused, is awesome to watch and his beats are banging. He was very sweet and soft spoken as we posed for a picture together.

As for art, The Creators Project had numerous light pieces, mechanical structures, and rooms of oddities.

Origin by United Visual Artists
Six-Forty By Four-Eighty by Zigelbaum + Coelho
Diskinect by Team Diskinect
Film crossed paths with music when Spike Jonze's Scenes from the Suburbs had a heavy influence from Arcade Fire. Other short films that were viewed were Edouard Sailer Shorts, Follow Follow, and Night Fishing.

Scenes from the Suburbs
Food was provided by Brooklyn Flea and The Creators Project kicked off a week of art to gawk at (Origin is on display until October 23) as well as promotion for Karen O's musical interpretation of Stop The Virgens.

Day turned to night, the music pumped louder, and the crowd kept growing. DUMBO was alive and The Creators Project gave way into a second day of full fledged affairs. Curious to see what type of drama made it to Gallery Girls? The show taped throughout and it's possible you made it into the background if you were walking around The Creators Project. Ah, Brooklyn may have made you into a star.

The Creators Project

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Macaron Parlour, I Surrender

Laduree Macaron Tower Display
Macarons, they're back.

Did they ever really leave? Laduree gave New York something to talk about again in regards to macarons when they opened up their first shop in the United States on the Upper East Side in August. The rumored originator of the macaron has a macaron bouncer to regulate crowd control. Yes, there is a line and the people want their macarons.

While Laduree has their macarons shipped from France and focuses on classic flavors, Macaron Parlour is a small business based in New York City owned by Christina and Simon. They bake their own macarons, fill them with atypical buttercreams and ganaches, and sell them at food bazaars and flea markets. Macaron Parlour feels very local and they have given the macaron a twist with their sweet and savory flavors. Their macarons are not only classy but are also cool.

After tasting the S'mores macaron of Macaron Parlour a few weeks back at Madison Square Eats, I was hooked. It's been awhile since I've had a macaron that good and I haven't stopped bragging about it since. The flavor was just so unexpected. Looking at the macaron, it looked normal. But upon first bite, hidden marshmallow gave way and it was just like s'mores in macaron form. I swear this macaron satisfied the cravings of any campfire and star gazing desire I never even knew I had. Yes, that good.

I went back and bought a box of eight to sample. I was hoping to get the s'mores flavor again but it was not available. I picked an eclectic mix which later turned out to make total sense. @Stellaaa helped me sample and polish off the macarons. In order to enjoy the macarons properly, we created our very own system of eating the macarons: The Macaron Parlour Tasting Menu. The tasting menu is meant to take you on an eating journey of flavors from appetizer and main dish to dessert and beyond.

Macaron Parlour Tasting Menu

Passion Fruit
Strawberries and Cream

Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Caramel Fleur de Sel

Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Tea Time
Earl Grey

November Bonus

8 out of the 11 available flavors today at Macaron Parlour
My favorites were the Passion Fruit, Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, Caramel Fleur de Sel, and Earl Grey. The bacon macaron was quite a surprise. There was a meaty bacon sliver in the cream cheese frosting! I could get used to savory macarons. It was like food, not candy-like or cookie-ish. I felt that the Nutella and Peanut Butter and Chocolate were too faint. I found the Strawberries and Cream more on the sweet side and the Pumpkin jumpin' with nutmeg. I'm a little torn on the Pumpkin. It was like eating pumpkin pie and definitely conjured up feelings of Fall and Thanksgiving. While novel, I can't say I love it in macaron form, but I did enjoy it. I look forward to trying other Macaron Parlour flavors such as Cookies and Cream and Thai Chili. And if I ever meet the S'mores again, I will have s'more.

Photography Credits: Desmond Chow, Roxwriting

864 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Macaron Parlour
Madison Square Eats
23rd Street and 5th Avenue

Friday, October 7, 2011

Philly Naked Bike Ride 2011- The Video

"Look naked people!" my friend who has a grade of about 700 screamed. We chased after him in confusion only to meet a couple of hundred naked bikers. It was interesting, amusing, and totally not vulgar. It was just a couple of hundred naked bikers having a good time. There weren't that many spectators either. Nor were there cops or a lot of cars honking. Philly either has a lot of patience or is a nudist colony at heart.