Grace’s Trattoria, New York

Grace's Trattoria tuna tartare

Back in April, Jenna and I were invited to try a tasting menu by Joe Trama,  executive chef at Grace’s Trattoria.

Grace’s has been family owned and operated for three generations. It includes the trattoria and nearby Marketplace, which will be reopening this summer (at 215 East 68th Street) with over 7,700 square feet of retail space, a European-style espresso bar and an open kitchen for cooking classes, dining in and product demos. The Marketplace offers gourmet and specialty foods and has been in operation since 1985. Fun fact: Grace’s Marketplace has been the launchpad where many small, local and artisanal food companies debuted their products; examples include Vitamin Water, Pirate’s Booty, Vita Coco and Pop Chips, to name a few. Who knew?

Our tasting menu began with a tuna and avocado tartare, with mango mole and lotus root. I’m not a fan of seafood, but of course I will always try a bite. The avocado, mango mole and lotus root chips were all delicious, and the tuna, to me at least, became more of a vessel to eat those components of the dish, so I had more than one bite.

Grace's Trattoria lobster pasta

Course two was the restaurant’s “Signature Tagliatelle” and had more seafood, but this time Maine lobster, which I do eat sometimes. The pasta was really fresh and delicious, and served in a decadent sauce with morel mushrooms and Spring herbs. Usually I’m not a fan of mushrooms, but the flavor was very subtle and worked well with the richness of the creamy sauce.

Grace's Trattoria Salmon

Course three was more seafood! For those of you who know me well, I assume you’re feeling very proud of my by now for trying all of this. I won’t lie and say I finished any of these plates, but I did eat quite a bit, especially for being out of my usual comfort zone. This pan-seared Arctic char over Israeli couscous was my least favorite of the first three courses (Jenna and I both thought it was a bit undercooked), but the little salad of asparagus tips with Meyer lemon-pistachio vinaigrette was superb.

Grace's Trattoria lamb

Luckily they let us stay for a few hours enjoying all the food and wine, because there was so much, we needed to pause for a moment before the next course! We finally moved on from seafood to a roasted rack of Colorado lamb, with sweet hot mustard, fingerling potatoes and root vegetables. The meat was very tender and tasty although much too large to finish, and I gobbled up all the vegetables in the delicious sauce.

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What I Ate Wednesday: Astoria

grandma's seven layer bar

iced coffee at home

Breakfast: Kiyo and I brought back an entire bag of goodies after our trip to Minneapolis, including Grandma’s seven-layer bars. They’re meant as a dessert (made with graham cracker crumbs, condensed milk, walnuts, shredded coconut and butterscotch and chocolate chips) but I had one for breakfast last week, accompanied by a cup of iced coffee with almond milk. Yum!

yoga in Public Myth leggings

Aloha green juice

Snack: I followed my one-hour vinyasa yoga class with an Aloha green juice packet, mixed with some Ultima electrolyte replenisher.

Museum of the Moving Image selfie on my run

cheese roll with olives WIAW

Lunch: I went for a quick run and it was so hot out that I was literally dripping sweat, even just after 1.5 miles! (The selfie is taken outside the really cool Museum of the Moving Image.) Afterwards I heated up a cheese roll that Kiyo and I made with my cousin at Grandma’s house (we carried a whole bag of them back, frozen). I ate it with two garlic-stuffed olives and it was delicious, the first savory items I ate all day so I was really ready for something not-sweet by that point.

banana NYC

frosted mini wheats

Snack: I had to go babysit and was a little hungry again, so I ate a banana on the way. When I got there I had five pieces of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

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What I Ate Wednesday: New York

Today’s What I Ate Wednesday is another guest post (see Flavia’s from last week here). This time it comes from my friend Jenna, who I ran the half-marathon with this April (check that out here). Check out her eats below and Happy WIAW!

Jenna Koeble

Hi Everyone! My name is Jenna, and I blog over at Slice of Sparkle. Usually you can find me talking about desserts (like Dominique Ansel’s cookie shot!), fashion and other day-to-day ramblings. Val and I first met about two years ago at work. (She’s since left – and I miss her dearly!) We quickly became friends once we discovered how much we had in common – namely: FOOD. We also ran a half marathon together this past April (a first for both of us!), which you can read about here. Anyway, back to today’s post. When Val asked me to contribute a WIAW post for this week, I jumped at the chance! I’ve never actually written one before, so why not start today? Here goes:

Breakfast: Water, water and MORE water. I drink so much water… it’s not even funny. Sometimes I question whether it’s even normal. Haha.

water at work

Then I ate a big bowl of overnight oats topped with sliced banana, almonds and peanuts, along with two cups of black coffee (necessary!).

healthy oatmeal WIAW

I love Fairway’s flavored varieties. This morning I opted for Hazelnut!

Fairway Hazelnut Coffee

Lunch: I’m pretty snack-y at lunch. Today’s line-up: Trader Joe’s blueberry Greek yogurt, cereal/nut mix (Nature’s Path Flax Plus flakes + almonds + peanuts), apples and carrots.

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Dinner at Sperry’s, Saratoga Springs

Dinner at Sperry's Saratoga Springs

If you saw this week’s WIAW post, you know some of our friends are spending the summer in Saratoga Springs, where a few years ago, we all attended Skidmore College. So, for Memorial Day a few weeks ago, six of us met up in the small, upstate New York town and had a great time. One night, Kiyo and I broke off and had our own dinner at Sperry’s, since it’s been around since 1932 but we’d never been. It was so nice out that we sat outside at the “patio,” under a tent and off to the side of the outdoor bar.

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Rather than bread, dinner begins with popovers. I appreciated that this was more interesting than regular (and usually lackluster) sliced baguette or dinner rolls, but Kiyo would have preferred bread.

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Our friend advised us to try the bacon-wrapped dates, and she was right, they were delicious! Perched atop an odd carrot marmalade, and a balsamic reduction, the whole dish was very sticky but since bite-size, not messy. I’ve never had anything like the weird, chunky, sweet carrot marmalade, but I liked it.

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Kiyo had the Caesar salad, which he enjoyed. I would not have liked those anchovies on top!

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My wedge salad was amazing; how could it not be when the Bibb lettuce was drenched in roasted grape tomatoes, thick, rich lardons and creamy blue cheese dressing? I liked that they used Bibb rather than watery iceberg lettuce.

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Dinner at The Neely’s, New York

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I actually already wrote about this dinner in one of my What I Ate Wednesday posts; you can read it here.

dinner at The Neely's New York

The drinks were large and strong, and considering that at trendy NYC bars and restaurants a small, weak “craft cocktail” can run you $12-16, I thought this drink menu was actually a good deal and I loved the Southern twist.

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As I’ve said, often celebrity chefs’ restaurants are overpriced and overrated. I’m happy to say that the Neely’s BBQ Parlor defied that stereotype and was actually quite good. Kiyo and I both enjoyed our strong cocktails along with some deep-fried pickles with a tangy dipping sauce and two hefty entrees…

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He had ribs with brussels sprouts and I had a cobb salad, loaded with veggies (including fried green tomatoes!), turkey and bacon. Everything was delicious!

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Neely’s Barbecue Parlor

Location: 1125 1st Ave, New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 832-1551

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