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Mambo Italiano at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

(We were given complimentary tickets to see Mambo Italiano. As always, all opinions are our own.)

I love the theatre! Growing up, I was fortunate that my parents took me and my siblings to NYC to see Broadway shows. Pre-kids, my husband and I were regulars of the NYC theatre scene. But then…..kids! Between busy schedules, ticket prices and having to trek into the city from the suburbs, we just haven’t been to as many shows as we’d like. However, we are fortunate enough to have a theatre close to home that puts on amazing productions.

The Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford has been hosting shows for 45 years, with over 200 main-stage productions. As a family, we’ve seen both Mary Poppins and Annie. Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a rare date night to see the current production, Mambo Italiano.

Photo by John Vecchiolla, courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

Mambo Italiano is based on a play and screenplay by Steve Galluccio & Emile Gaudreault and a book by Jean Cheever and Tom Polum. It tells the story of a traditional Italian family coming to grips with change. Maria and Gino Barbieri have raised their two grandchildren, Angelo and Anna, and they all work together in the family’s Italian restaurant. When Angelo and Anna decide to move out of the house and get their own apartment, their grandparents don’t take it very well. Things get worse when Angelo comes out as gay and then discovers that his boyfriend Nino is bisexual and has been sleeping with a girl.

Photo by John Vecchiolla courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

This story, set to music composed by James Olmstead, is much more than just a story about sexual orientation. It’s a story about family, identity, love….and, of course, food! “Food is joy. Food is love. Food is famiglia.” This theme is carried out throughout the production and regardless of cultural background, is one that I think most people can relate to.

Photo by John Vecchiolla, courtesy of the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

The show’s cast is outstanding! While several members are making their Westchester Broadway Theatre debut, all of the cast are experienced on stage. Some of them have even performed in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, showcasing the caliber of talent that is chosen for the Westchester Broadway Theatre.

Let’s not forget that the Westchester Broadway Theatre includes dinner (or lunch) and a show. For this show, they are featuring a “Taste of Mambo Italiano” menu. For the Sunday evening show, dinner service starts at 5:30 PM and continues until the show begins at 7 PM. We arrived around 5:20 PM and almost immediately after we were seated our salads arrived. We were finished eating dessert by 6:30, leaving some time before the show to relax….and digest!

Dinner starts with a Caesar salad. They also offer four appetizer options (cold antipasti, mozzarella and tomato, fried calamari and a chilled shrimp cocktail) at an additional cost.

For the main course, I ordered Gino’s Lasagna with Meat Sauce served with sauteed green beans.

My husband had the Roast Prime Rib of Beef served with sauteed green beans and a baked potato and we shared both entrees. Out of the two entrees, we both preferred and recommend the prime rib.

Dessert is their classic peach melba – canned peach halves topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and raspberry sauce. It’s garnished with a cookie that I could have eaten a dozen of! For an additional cost, other desserts are available (tiramisu, lava cake, mini cannoli, chocolate fudge sundae and tartufo) and are served during the intermission.

I’m going to be honest, my husband and I were not thrilled with the food overall. However, I understand that they are cooking for the masses (the theatre when at capacity seats 500, including the couple of luxury boxes available) and are trying to keep ticket prices down. Based on the price of dinner and a show tickets versus show only tickets, the meal breaks down to approximately $19-$34 a person, depending on when you see the show. As I see it, the show itself is worth the ticket price and the meal is a bonus! For those not wanting to have the dinner portion of the “dinner theatre” experience, you can purchase tickets the day of–for just the show.

It is also important to note that beverages, including soda, and gratuities are not included in the price of your ticket. I ordered a non-alcoholic strawberry colada ($8) but they do serve wine, spirits including scotch, vodka, gin and rum and martinis. The current specialty drink is Il Cappello – citrus vodka, orange juice and pineapple juice topped with ginger ale.

One thing I love about the Westchester Broadway Theatre is that there’s not a bad seat in the house. At this production, we sat at table 282, the second to last row in the middle section, directly facing center stage. Even from in the back, I thought our seats gave us a good view.

Many guests visit the Westchester Broadway Theatre for a special occasion. If you are celebrating an event, make sure to let them know, as they announce it prior to the start of the show. My husband and I really enjoyed Mambo Italiano! If you are looking for a fun date night or evening out with friends or family, we highly recommend seeing Mambo Italiano before it ends on September 29. The show will literally have you clapping along!

The Details:
Mambo Italiano
Westchester Broadway Theatre
1 Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY 10523
(914) 592-2222

Tickets: (price includes dinner and the show) $61-$91 plus tax, beverages and gratuities, discounts available for children, students and senior citizens at select performances

Performances: August 8 – September 29, 2019

Show Times:
(The show runs approximately 2 1/2 hours, with a 30-minute intermission between acts)
Wednesday, Thursday and some Friday Matinees: 11:30 AM lunch, 1 PM show
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Evenings: 6:30 PM dinner, 8 PM show
Sunday Matinee: 12 PM lunch, 1:30 PM show
Sunday Evening: 5:30 PM dinner, 7 PM show

Tips:
*Photos are not allowed during the show
*Check out the website for special offers
*The show is recommended for ages 12+ – parental advisory for language and sexual references.
*There is a convenience fee for purchasing tickets online. There is no fee for purchasing tickets in-person or via phone.
*Up to 4 tickets can be purchased online.
* AAA members, AARP members, and military discounts are only given for phone or in-person ticket purchases.
*All seat locations are the same price.

5 Recommended Peekskill Eats

Peekskill is a small city situated along the Hudson River in northern Westchester County. It has a vibrant food scene and has many restaurants and eateries. While your dining options may seem daunting, here are 5 recommended Peekskill eats that we think you should try when visiting.

Ramen from Ramenesque – Rameneseque has locations in Peekskill and Thornwood. There is a reason that they have won the Best of Westchester ramen category in both 2018 and 2019. They serve six different varieties of ramen, which means, you may have to visit six times! We always get the Shoyu Ramen, pictured above. It’s a traditional soy sauce flavored ramen that the kids enjoy.

Tapas from Iron Vine – I know, this isn’t one specific thing to eat. However, Iron Vine serves Spanish/Mediterranean dishes and has an extensive tapas menu. If you are looking for a dinner out with friends, I highly recommend this restaurant. This way, you can order a bunch of the different tapas on the menu (or almost all of them, like we did. This pic only shows round one!) and share. Plus, they have a great cocktail menu and also serve salads, sandwiches and entrees, if you’re not interested in tapas.

“Out of This World Shakes” from The Hudson Creamery – We’ve tried several of The Hudson Creamery’s signature sundaes, but our favorite has been the “Out of This World Shake.” Their milkshakes were the 2018 Best of Westchester winner. We’ve only tried the Peanut Butter and Chocolate “Out of This World” shake, pictured above. But out of four different freak shakes throughout Westchester County that we tried, this was one of our faves! Located right by the Peekskill waterfront, we enjoy taking our ice cream down to the water and eating it while we take in the beautiful views of the Hudson River.

Churrasco from El Bambu – We ordered takeout from El Bambu for the first time recently. I think this was our first time trying Guatemalan food. We ordered a couple of different dishes, but the Churrasco was our definite favorite! The steak was so tender and flavorful. We tried it both in the Specialty of the House wrap as well as the Churrasco Chapin. There is space to dine in at this small, unassuming restaurant located on Bank Street, or you can opt to takeout, like we did.

Peaceful Provisions Doughnuts – Peaceful Provisions is located in the first floor of the Peekskill Brewery, also down by the Peekskill waterfront. They are a family, women owned small business. They make vegan doughnuts from scratch in small batches. While their doughnut menu rotates, all of the doughnuts that we tried were delicious (pictured from top right, clockwise: Strawberry, Half Baked Funfetti Cookie Doughnut, NY Cream, and Lemon Poppy Seed.

What are your favorite Peekskill eats?

Family Fun at Playland Park {Westchester County}

Playland Amusement Park has been a Westchester County icon since 1928 and is a National Historic Landmark.  There are even seven original rides that pre-date 1930 that are still running!  For those not from the area, you may have seen parts of the park if you’ve watched the movie Big or Mariah Carey’s 1995 “Fantasy” music video.

Located in Westchester County, Playland is conveniently located off of I-95 and offers a full day of family fun. With 50 rides, it is great for families, as  there’s something for everyone. Kiddyland has over 20 rides and is geared towards toddlers and younger children.  Most Kiddyland rides have a minimum height requirement of 36″ but will allow smaller children to ride with an adult. Katy the Kat makes daily appearances and has a comedy show that takes place in Kiddyland.

For older children and adults, there are plenty of thrill rides.  Double Shot, Super Flight, Wipeout, the Yo-Yo, Skyflyer and the Thunderbolt are some of the attractions that adventure seekers will enjoy.

On the Derby Racer the horses imitate the motion of a steeple chase horse.  Only two known original rides of this type are still in existence, one of them being here.  Don’t let the horse fool you into thinking this isn’t a thrill ride.  From personal experience, this was my least favorite ride, due to the speed and fear of falling off the horse.  Did I mention that there’s not safety belt?  It’s hold on for dear life! This ride, as well as the Carousel, are on the National Register of Historic Places.  Just last week, the county Board of Legislators approved financing for restoration of these two rides.  I can’t wait to see what the restored Derby Racer will look like!

And of course, riding the Dragon Coaster is a must!  This wooden roller coaster has been running since 1929 and is a Playland original! For hard-core coaster enthusiasts, this is not a super fast, thrill ride.  However, it’s an historical one.

For the first time since 2008, Playland has a new ride.  Part roller coaster, part spinning ride, it is currently called Disk’O 24 by the manufacturer.  However, Westchester County residents have been asked to submit names for the new ride and a Westchester Camp group will be choosing the winning name from the submissions.

There is plenty of food to be found at Playland.  Louisiana Kitchen has fried chicken, chicken tenders and fried seafood.  There’s a Nathan’s that sells hot dogs and fries, a Smash n’ Shake Express that has burgers shakes and Pizza Village.

There’s also lots of treats available including funnel cake, cotton candy and ice cream.  You will not go hungry during your visit!

There are lots of games to play and an arcade if you are looking to take a break from the rides.  This is an old school arcade with 25 cent skee ball machines!

There’s daily entertainment and concerts throughout the season.  During the summer, there is a fireworks display every Friday night.   On select nights there is also a laser light show set to music.  For some close-to-home summer family fun, a trip to Playland is a must!

The Details:

Playland Amusement Park
1 Playland Parkway
Rye, New York 10580

Parking:  $10/car ($15/car holidays and special events)

Admission:  $30/adult ($25 for Westchester County residents with proof of residency) wristbands
$20/junior (under 48″) ($15 for Westchester County residents with proof of residency) wristbands
Free/children 2 years old and under
Spectator (no rides)/$10 (Free for Westchester County residents with proof of residency)

**In 2019 every Westchester County town, city and village gets its own Town Day.  With proof of ID, each resident receives a special coupon booklet that offers special discounts.

**On select nights, admission is $20 from 5-10 PM.

Fun Cards can be purchased with a spectator admission to go on rides.  It costs $1 per point, with rides costing 5-6 points each.

Open now through September 8, 2019
Hours:  (please check the site for specific dates and hours.  The park opens earlier and stays open later on selected dates throughout the summer)
Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Thursday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Friday: 12 PM – 11 PM
Saturday:  12 PM – 11 PM
Sunday:  12 PM – 10 PM

*No outside food or drinks are allowed in the park.
*There’s a fireworks show on Friday nights in the summer at 9:20 PM (July 12 – August 30).
*Check the entertainment schedule for concerts.
*Lockers are available for rent.

Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden {North Salem, NY}

Secluded in the back roads of North Salem is a small taste of Japanese culture right here in Westchester County.  The Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden is a hidden treasure of beauty that aims to connect and promote an appreciation of Eastern and Western culture.  My kids both visited the Hammond Museum on school trips after studying Japan.  Last summer, I enlisted my daughter to accompany me on my first visit.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to post about our visit to the Hammond Museum until now.

“But what’s the use of having collections if people can’t see them?” – Natalie Hays Hammond

When you arrive you enter the gardens through the museum. The museum was designed by Natalie Hays Hammond and built in 1957 to showcase her collection of antiques and artifacts that she acquired through her travels.  The art in the galleries change several times over the eight months that the museum is open.

Artist Rosalind Schneider's exhibit Transformed Realities at the Hammond Museum.

We were able to see artist, Rosalind Schneider’s, Transformed Realities exhibit, just before it closed. Currently art exhibits in the galleries are closing mid-June, with new, yet unannounced exhibits replacing them.  Full Bloom, Sculpture in the Garden is on display for the entirety of the season. 

Through the gallery is the entrance to the gardens.  I don’t believe that there’s one way to visit the Japanese Stroll Gardens.  Once you pass through the tea house entry you can go either right or left. The garden path is circular, so whichever direction you choose, you will eventually make your way back to the tea house.  The gardens are designed with the Japanese design principles of balance and harmony.  Balance, in a Japanese garden, is asymmetrical and you will find odd-numbered and triangular groupings.

To the right of entry is the Zen Garden. Also known as karesansui (dry mountain water).  Rakes are available for visitors to create patterns in the rocks.

If you continue on the path to the right you will see the pond to your left and the Katsura Trees and Bamboo Grove  on your right. Bamboo is important to Eastern culture.  From food, to paper, furniture and even planking for houses, the bamboo plant is highly useful.  However, some species are used for ornamental purposes in landscape gardens, like the ones here.

Waterfall Garden at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden.

To the left of the entry is the waterfall garden.  This is a tiny waterfall that is almost hidden by all of the ferns and mountain laurel.  The water flows from east to west, shadowing the sun’s path.

Straight ahead of the entry is the pond.  I recommend taking some time to sit on the benches by the pond and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty.  If you look closely, you may be able to spot one of the ten turtles that inhabit the pond. Listen and you will probably hear the frogs croaking. The day of our visit the staff was prepping for a wedding later that day.  So we didn’t walk out to the island.

There are a couple of different statues and sculptures located throughout the gardens and this beautiful gong.

Off one of the garden paths you will find The Garden of Buddhist Saints. These are sixteen stones that honor the enlightened followers of Buddha.

There is much more beauty and nature to be found at the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden, than what I showcased here. If you are looking for some peace and tranquility, this is a place that you must visit.

The Details:
Hammon Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden
28 Deveau Road
North Salem, NY 10560
(914) 669-5033

Hours: Open May – November (see website for specific dates)
Wednesday – Saturday 12 PM – 4 PM

Admission:  $5/adults, $4/seniors, Free/Children 12 and under.  Free for members.

Parking:  Free parking available on the grounds

Tips and Notes:
*As a first-time visitor, my daughter and I spent approximately an hour visiting the museum and garden.

*If you have some time, bring a book and sit on a bench by the pond.

Experience Gift Ideas for Westchester County Families {2018}

As the holidays quickly approach, holiday shopping is at the top of many of our to-do lists.  As someone who doesn’t like “stuff” I prefer to both give and receive experience gifts.  Here is a collection of some great experience gift ideas in Westchester County and the surrounding area.

Boundless Adventures 
SUNY Purchase Campus
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
*youth (ages 7-11) gift card $54, adults (ages 12+) gift card $59
Although the park is closed now for the season, gift cards can be used anytime throughout the 2019 season.
Read about our visit!
Great for: adventure lovers, families

Escape the Mystery Room
(various locations including West Nyack at the Palisades Center and Yorktown Heights at the Jefferson Valley Mall)
*gift vouchers are location specific.  Each $20 voucher is good for one entry.
Read about our visit!
Great for: families with older children

The Holiday Train Show at the NYBG
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458
now through Monday, January 21, 2019
*tickets start at $10/kids and $23/adults
Read about our visit!
Great for:  train lovers, families, grandparents

Phantom at the Westchester Broadway Theatre
One Broadway Plaza
Elmsford, NY 10523
now through January 27, 2019
*tickets start at $59/kids, $62/seniors, $69/adults
Although we have not seen Phantom at the WBT, we have seen other shows at the theatre.  There isn’t a bad seat in the place and the performances we’ve seen have been amazing.  You can buy gift certificates to the theatre that can be used at a future performance, if Phantom doesn’t appeal to you or your gift recipient.
Great for:  theatre fans, families, grandparents

Thunder Ridge Ski Area 
137 Birch Hill Rd.
Patterson, NY 12563
Gift Cards can be purchased in any amount and can be used towards tickets, food and/or items in the gift shop.
Great for:  ski enthusiasts, families

Westchester Winter Wonderland
Kensico Dam Plaza
One Bronx River Parkway
Valhalla, NY 10595
*now through December 31, 2019
Tickets:  $20/person (ages 3+)
Great for:  families

Movie Tickets – Depending on the number of tickets you buy, this is a gift that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Memberships – If you want your family to enjoy fun all year-round, memberships are a great family gift idea.  Memberships to the Bronx Zoo, Historic Hudson Valley, Hudson River Museum or the NYBG will provide enjoyment all year long!

Westchester County Freak Shakes

Freak shakes have been around for a couple of years now.  These epic shakes are topped with everything from cookies, candy and even whole slices of cake!!  NY Foodie Family recently took a foodie tour of Westchester to try four of these monstrous dessert mash-ups.

The cotton candy milkshake from Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains.

Our first stop was Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains.  They serve four different milkshakes including Cotton Candy, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Oreo and Fruity Pebbles.  We decided to go with the Cotton Candy, since it seemed the most interesting of the four.  This strawberry shake is topped with cotton candy and  a lollipop. The rim of the glass is covered in vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Each shake is $12.

Verdict:  Of the four shakes we tried, this one was the smallest.  We found the milkshake to be very liquidy and the sprinkles are pretty much for show only, as they were pretty well glued on with hard frosting.  The cotton candy was a tasty and fun touch.  I think this shake lacked the amount of “stuff” to really be considered a freak shake, but was priced like one.  According to the menu description, it seems a lollipop should have come with our shake, but did not.  This was our least favorite of the shakes we tried. We will visit Lazy Boy Saloon to try their wings and other tasty-sounding apps and take advantage of their extensive beer selection.  We’ll just go elsewhere for our shakes.

The Boozle freak shake from Sugar-Hi.

Our second stop was Sugar-Hi in Armonk.  Sugar-Hi identifies itself as a “destination boutique sweet shop.”  The shop offers hand crafted chocolates, custom cakes, baked goods with a twist and more.  Of course, we had to stop by to try one of their freak shakes.

The freak shake menu at Sugar-Hi in Armonk.

They offer four different shakes, priced at $14 each.  We went with “The Boozle” – a chocolate shake with a vanilla frosted rim covered in m&ms, topped with a Hershey’s chocolate bar, chocolate covered pretzel rod, an entire Chipwich ice cream sandwich, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.  We got to choose between chocolate soft serve or their “Death by Chocolate” scooped ice cream.  No contest. We, of course, went with the “Death by Chocolate.”  Go big or go home, right?!  When we visited Sugar-Hi on a Sunday afternoon, it was crowded with families stopping by for an ice cream treat after soccer games.  The small dining area for guests to enjoy their treats inside was packed so we opted to enjoy our shake outside.  It was a blazing hot day so we had to enjoy our treat quickly before it melted.

Verdict:  This shake was voted unanimously by our family as (spoiler alert!) the favorite of the day, which included our trip to Lazy Boy Saloon and the next entry below.  Crafted at a boutique sweet shop, it seems fitting that they’d have the best sweet treat. We will be making a return visit soon to check out their other shakes and baked goods!

The Oreo S’mores Mega Milkshake from the Mt. Kisco Diner.

Our last stop of the day was the Mt. Kisco Diner.  I was surprised to discover that a diner was serving Insta-famous shakes.  The Mt. Kisco Diner dubs themselves, “the Diner not a Diner.”  Don’t expect your typical menu here.  For someone who isn’t a fan of diners, I will be returning here with an appetite and my camera.  The Mt. Kisco Diner prides themselves on creating Instagrammable dishes (their Instagram account has a mere 34.8 thousand followers) in a, “stylish setting.”  However, despite the creative selection of dishes, you will still pay diner prices.  They have five Mega Milkshakes on their menu including the Oreo S’mores, Rainbow Cookie, Love Shake, Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cake Poppin.  We went with the Oreo S’Mores shake which is an Oreo shake, a chocolate frosted rim covered in crushed Oreos, topped with whipped cream, Toasted Marshmallows and an Oreo cookie.  The Mt. Kisco Diner’s mega shakes are competitively priced at $10.99 each.

Verdict: Too bad that the Mt. Kisco Diner was the last stop of our foodie tour.  By the third shake, even with four of us sharing, we were just about in a sugar coma.  We ordered some salty, cheesy appetizers to even things out. As an Oreo fan, this was a tasty shake.  The whipped cream layer was a bit too much, so we took the layer off and enjoyed the shake and the “stuff.”

The Peanut Butter & Chocolate Out of this World Shake from the Hudson Creamery.

Before I could publish this post, we had to make one more stop.  I only recently discovered that The Hudson Creamery in Peekskill started making freak shakes, known as “Out of This World Shakes” there.  They offer five different milkshakes including the Peanut Butter & Chocolate,  Cookie Monster, S’mores, Candy Candy and Salted Caramel Pretzel.  We opted to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate milkshake.  This is a chocolate and peanut butter shake with chocolate & peanut butter fudge ice cream, Reeses PB Cups, Reeses Pieces, PB Sauce, Chocolate Syrup, Funny Bones and Nutter Butters.  These shakes are priced at $13.50 each.

Verdict:  Delicious!  I am so happy that we made a stop here.  Out of all the shakes we tried, this was our favorite.  In terms of quality and value for the money, this shake also wins.  This had a generous and delicious shake filling the glass, topped with a waffle cone overloaded with indulgent chocolate ice cream.  Then it was completed with all of the fun extras.  While we were told this could feed two people, it was plenty for the four of us to share.  We will be back to try some of their other “Out of This World Shakes” as well as their seasonal sundaes!

Broomstick Sweetie’s:The Dawn of the Suburban Underground Supper Club

(Thank you Nicole for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

The e-mail arrives in your inbox 24 hours before the event and gives you an address and an arrival time.  Wine recommendations are included, since this is a BYOB meal. You have no idea what the menu will be or who else will be attending.  This, my friends, is the dawn of the underground supper club experience and it’s taking place right here in Westchester County.  While the concept of an underground food event is not new, it has finally arrived in the suburbs of New York City.

Nicole Brake is the mastermind behind Broomstick Sweetie’s.  She is a mom of two children (ages 9 and 15), works part-time as a nurse, and is a former ballerina who still enjoys taking dance classes.  What started as a side gig, selling baked goods and fudge at local farmer’s markets, has evolved into an underground supper club.  The goal of Nicole’s supper club is to get people from all over to come together to share a unique dining experience.

Each dining event has a theme where, “seasonally inspired comfort food and dessert with a global influence” is served.  Nicole creates a 4-5 course menu reflecting that evening’s theme.  You don’t know what dishes you will be served until you arrive.  Therefore, the only requisite of the supper club is to be an adventurous eater. It is important to note that these menus are not vegetarian or gluten-free.

Ideally, you attend the supper club either alone, or with one other person.  The goal is to meet and mingle with others where you: “enter as strangers, leave as friends.”  As a super-introvert, I was hesitant about attending.  However, the whole concept intrigued me too much to pass up.  So, this past weekend I attended an October Harvest Moon themed dinner.

When I arrived at the designated location, a platter of bread and homemade chimichurri sauce was set out on the porch, along with homemade sangria. Nicole’s husband Robert was also at the event, greeting guests and making sure everyone was comfortable.   This was a very relaxed setting to get to know the other dinner guests as they arrived.

Eventually, we were moved inside to a dining room. There’s no awkwardness of where to sit, as name cards are set out.  Plus, the maximum guest count is ten, to keep the gathering intimate and manageable.

The printed menu was reflective of Nicole’s goal of seasonal comfort food. As a self-taught cook, many of the dishes she serves are tried and true examples that she’s made for her family.

The first course of the evening was a pumpkin soup.  This was delicious.  It had all the flavors of fall, including pumpkin and apple, and was garnished with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.  Nicole served generous servings of soup in giant bowls. I chose not finish, although I would have gladly licked the bowl clean, because I knew there were many more courses to go.

Next up was a spinach salad.  The spinach leaves were covered in a peppery vinaigrette and the salad was garnished with slices of pear and Parmesan.

The main course was a garlic infused chipotle pork tenderloin with scalloped potato gratin and butternut squash.  The pork was moist and flavorful, while the potatoes were soft and creamy.  The butternut squash was so tender and sweet that it could have been served for dessert.  Once again, I didn’t finish every last bite on the plate in order to leave room for dessert.  Some diners were smart and asked for their leftovers to be wrapped.  Definitely something to keep in mind for the future, and an added bonus is being treated to Robert’s aluminum foil art.

Since Broomstick Sweetie’s originated as a baking and dessert brand, I knew dessert would be delicious.  I was not disappointed and was glad I had left room for the Apple Bavarian Torte.  An iced broomstick sugar cookie was a bonus treat!

The kitchen of this house was adjacent to the dining room, so we could see Nicole plating dishes.  As I mentioned, these dinners are BYOB.  Several guests brought bottles of wine and invited the other diners to share.  Throughout the evening Robert was making sure glasses were full (of water, wine, or both!) and serving and clearing dishes.

Okay, so the food is delicious but what is the dining experience like?

 

If this introvert had a great evening, then there’s no doubt you will as well!  The ages of the other guests ranged from early twenties to late 50’s.  At the Harvest Dinner there were ten guests including a film maker, an administrative assistant, a kitchen designer, a litigation lawyer, and a financial adviser. Conversation flowed smoothly as we all had at least one thing in common: we like food.  While Nicole does not sit and dine with guests, she does encourage them to come talk to her while she’s cooking.  She even had a pianist playing live music during the evening.

Discussions ranged from favorite restaurants to most adventurous foods eaten.  One guest had eaten Rocky Mountain Oysters (go ahead, Google it), another frog’s legs and alligator.  One couple attended a dinner party where they dined in a swimming pool.  I learned that, in India, there’s no such thing as what we Americans call “curry.”  Curry is really just a blend of different spices.  I also learned that there’s a restaurant in NYC that sells only one dish: steak frites, and obviously does that one dish very well at a super-reasonable price.

I highly recommend attending one of Broomstick Sweetie’s underground supper club events.  Future event through the end of the year include a costume-wearing “Dishes to Die For,” Tastes of Southwest, Friendsgiving Feast, Italian Comfort, a Charles Dickens Dinner and an End of Year Soiree.  The website gives further details on the specific dates.  These dinners are very reasonably priced at $65 a person.

This supper club is great because you can attend alone without any stigma. The whole point is to meet new people and enjoy a great meal.  This is especially attractive to a busy working mom like myself.  Scheduling a date night or a girls night out can be difficult at times.  But if I want to enjoy a night off from cooking, this dinner is a great escape that I can do alone. At the end of the evening, Nicole gave us a parting gift of homemade pumpkin fudge.

It was an enjoyable evening.  I arrived home and told my husband that he needs to attend a future supper club.  While we may end up going again together, I feel like it’s a different experience going solo.  Broomstick Sweetie’s underground supper club is truly a unique dining experience.  Please check out the Broomstick Sweetie’s website to learn more about the supper club as well as to reserve a space at a future dinner.

Westchester County Bucket List

As a long-time resident of Westchester County, I am still amazed at all there is to see and do here.  I’ve created this Westchester County Bucket List as a means for my family to get out and experience all that Westchester has to offer!  We haven’t experienced everything on this list, but we plan to!  Please let me know if there’s anything missing from this list that you think families in Westchester County should experience!  Listed in no particular order:

1. Visit Untermyer Gardens.

2. Walk part of the Westchester RiverWalk.

3. Ride the Dragon Coaster at Playland.

4. Build with Legos at the LegoLand Discovery Center.

5. See a Westchester Knicks game at the Westchester County Center and get a picture with Hudson.

6.  Indoor skydive at iFLY at Ridgehill in Yonkers.

7. Climb the rock wall at The Cliffs in Valhalla.

We enjoyed apple picking at Wilkens Farm. It was a hot day but we picked apples and enjoyed cider dougnuts!

8.  Go apple picking!  Westchester County offers several options including Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, Outhouse Orchards, Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard and Stuart’s Farm.

9. Visit the animals at Muscoot Farm.

10.  Get an ice cream from King Kone, the Hudson Creamery,  The Blue Pig, Longford’s and Penny Lick Ice Cream.

11.  Visit the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.

12. Cool off in one of Westchester’s pools or splash pads (Harbor Island Park – Mamaroneck, Wilson’s Wave Pool – Mt. Vernon, Tibbett’s Brook Park – Yonkers, Saxon Woods Park – White Plains, Pierson Park – Tarrytown)

13. Enjoy a picnic out in one of the many county or state parks.

14. Bike on the Bronx River on Bicycle Sundays.

15. Attend Teatown’s EagleFest.

16. Go on a food tour (in your town or any of the other towns in Westchester).

17.  Support local!  Visit one or several of Westchester’s farmer’s markets.

18. See a show at the Paramount Theater Hudson Valley.

19. Visit the PepsiCo sculpture gardens.

20.  Try a new restaurant during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

21.  Enjoy a meal from one of the many food truck’s including Walter’s, Dough Nation and The Souvlaki Truck.

22. Visit the Westchester Children’s Museum.

23. Tour Kykuit:  The Rockefeller Estate.

24.  Walk across the Croton Dam at Croton Gorge Park.

25. Take a tour of Stone Barns.

26.  See a show at the Westchester Broadway Theater.

27. Visit the Hudson River Museum and see a show in the planetarium.

28. Enjoy Sheep-to-Shawl or Djembes and Dance (or both) at Philipsburg Manor.

29. Visit the wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center.

30. Go to the beach – Glenn Island, Playland Beach, Island Harbor Beach, Oakland Beach, Hudson Park East and West and Croton Point Park Beach.

31.  See a movie at the Jacob Burns Center, the iPic theater and the Alamo Drafthouse.

32. Try to Escape from an Escape Room.

33. Visit Teatown Lake Reservation.

34. Climb the ropes course at Boundless Adventure and Spins Hudson.

35. Attend the Clearwater Festival at Croton Point Park.

36. Walk the Croton Aqueduct.

37. Enjoy a Freak Shake from Sugar Hi, Mt, Kisco Diner, Lazy Boy Saloon or the Hudson Creamery.

38. Visit the Neuberger Museum of Art.

39. Attend one of the many heritage festivals held at the Kensico Dam.

40.Visit the Hammond Museum’s Japanese Stroll Garden.

41.  Ice Skate and enjoy Winter Wonderland at the Kensico Dam.

42. Check out the crafts at the Lyndhurst Craft Festival and the Armonk Outdoor Art Show.

43. Listen to some jazz at the White Plains Jazz Festival.

44.  Attend a food festival – Westchester Magazine’s Wine and Food Festival, Lohud’s Food Truck Festival, Westchester Magazine’s Wingfest and more!

GoSu: An Asian Fusion Dining Experience

(Thank you to GoSu and Lifestyle Westchester for hosting NY Foodie Family.  As always, all opinions are our own.)

I was recently invited to a menu tasting at Asian fusion restaurant, GoSu.  This Irvington eatery opened in February 2017 and is located a short distance from the Irvington train station.  It’s a perfect place to dine with friends visiting from NYC, or for a quick dinner on the way home from work.

While the owner, Tony Kim, is Korean his menu is a mixture of both Korean and Japanese cuisines.  His Korean cooking skills were learned from his mom and grandmother but his first restaurant job was in a sushi restaurant.  He combined his two experiences and created GoSu.

 

Taken literally, the name of the restaurant translates to: card shark or cocky person.  Tony chose GoSu, from the Korean words GoGi (meats) and GookSu (noodles) to mean Meats and Noodles. When envisioning a traditional Korean restaurant, BBQ that is cooked right at the table often comes to mind.  However, GoSu was created with an emphasis on family-friendly dining.  No table-top grills are found here.  Likewise, you won’t be served banchan (the collection of small side dishes served with traditional Koran cuisine).  Instead, GoSu serves lots of delicious comfort food with plenty of kid-friendly options.

GoSu features so many tasty appetizers on their menu.  From left to right, I tasted the Agedashi Tofu (fried soft tofu in tempura sauce), Bulgogi Tacos (marinated sliced ribeye with house pico and cheese), Chicken Katsu (panko breaded chicken breast with Japanese BBQ sauce & chipotle mayo), Shrimp Shumai (with ginger soy vinaigrette) and Ika Yaki (broiled whole marinated squid with teriyaki glaze).  The chicken katsu and shrimp shumai are two of the most popular appetizers and will likely be enjoyed by most children.  I usually prefer firm tofu, but enjoyed the soft tofu in the tempura sauce.  Other appetizers on the menu that sound delicious include: Tatsutage (bite-sized Japanese fried chicken), Spicy Pork Buns and Loaded Fries (bulgogi, cheese and jalapeno on a bed of waffle fries).  These will definitely have to be tried on my next visit!

While you can make a meal out of appetizers, I strongly recommend you leave room for the “Meats & Noodles.”  My favorite meat dish was the Spicy Pork Sizzle Bop.  This Korean style marinated sliced pork was slightly sweet but had a nice spicy kick.  While some of my table mates found this dish to be a bit too spicy, if you like a little heat, I highly recommend this!  There are several other Sizzle Bop entrees including Galbi (marinated short rib), Bulgogi (soy marinated sliced rib eye), Beef Teriyaki, Beef Negimaki (asparagus & scallion wrapped with thinly sliced rib eye in teriyaki sauce), Chicken Teriyaki and Salmon Teriyaki.  I sampled the Salmon Teriyaki Sizzle Bop, which was a crowd favorite the night that I dined.  All Sizzle Bops are served with white or brown rice and vegetables, as well as a choice of miso soup or a side salad.

My favorite noodle dish of the evening was the Curry Udon.  This dish has bulgogi in a mild, Japanese curry broth.  This curry isn’t spicy like many Indian or Thai curries.  It has barely any heat but is packed with flavor.  It’s literally a bowl of pure comfort food.  When the cold weather comes, you will want to eat bowlfuls of this udon!  This dish was also a favorite of my fellow foodies.

Although GoSu prides itself on its “Meats & Noodles,” it accommodates those with dietary restrictions.  Several dishes on the menu can be made gluten-free and there are plenty of vegetarian options. The restaurant has several vegetarian main dishes including Tofu Steak (seared, sliced organic soft tofu w/a ginger teriyaki sauce), pictured above, Yaki Udon (sauteed udon noodles with cabbage and onion in a house special sauce) and pictured below, Spicy Soba (cold soba noodles on a bed of mixed veggies with House gochujang sauce).  Gochujang is a red pepper paste, and yes, is a bit on the spicy side.  Again, I like a bit of spice and think this dish is perfect for summer.

There is a children’s menu for kids 8 and under with favorites like Chicken Teriyaki, Bulgogi and Tatsutage.  Kids will likely enjoy ramune, a Japanese “marble soda.”  Nicknamed so, because of the Codd-neck bottle, GoSu sells several varieties of this fun drink.

The adults may prefer to enjoy some soju.  Soju is a very popular Korean spirit.  Similar to vodka, it’s a mild tasting alcohol.  But don’t be deceived, a little goes a long way.  Many bottles of soju have 20-40% alcohol!  This was my first time trying soju and even better, it was pineapple flavored!  Since I was driving, I only had a couple of sips, but I found it to be smooth with a slightly sweet taste.

For dessert we had NY-Style Cheesecake Tempura with green tea powder. This was a pleasant surprise, since most Asian restaurants I’ve been to don’t offer much more than ice cream for dessert. The tempura gave this treat a nice crunch while inside the cheesecake was nice and creamy.

As seen, the restaurant is furnished in mostly black and white.  A variety of live plants decorate the space and red spoons add a little pop of color.  Tony put a lot of thought into his restaurant decor, including benches that lift up so you can store your jacket and purse.  Plus, the bathroom has one of the coolest sinks I’ve seen as well as jars of toothpicks and mints.

Tony does a great job of combining Korean and Japanese flavors in his dishes and he is currently revising the menu for the fall/winter.  GoSu is definitely a restaurant in Westchester County worth checking out!

The Details:

GoSu (Asian Fusion Restaurant)
5o South Buckhout Street (entrance is on Astor Street)
Irvington, NY 10533
(914) 479-5898

Hours: Monday – Saturday 12 PM – 9:30 PM, closed Sundays

Parking:  Across the street and along Buckhout Street

Price:  $$ (most main dishes priced between $12 – $19)

Fondue Fun at The Melting Pot

I can’t believe that I haven’t written a review of The Melting Pot until now.  This restaurant has become a family favorite and is frequented annually for one, or sometimes even both, of our kids’ birthdays.  The restaurant is a chain, with locations throughout the United States.  While my husband and I aren’t huge fans of chain restaurants, we both enjoy the The Melting Pot as much as the kids do.

For those unfamiliar with The Melting Pot, it is a fondue restaurant.  Dining here is a fun, interactive experience for the entire family.  One of the best parts of The Melting Pot is that you can customize your menu.  If you only want to do appetizers and dessert, you can.  For our family of four, we usually order two 4-course experiences and share between the four of us.  They do have a children’s menu, but we have found that there is enough food for all of us, sharing the two adult entrees.  The kids do love the special kid cocktails they offer.  Be warned, they are very sweet!  We usually water them down.

The 4-course experience begins with your choice of cheese fondue.  Our go-to choice (and a signature item) is the Wisconsin Cheddar.  This fondue includes Aged Cheddar, Emmenthaler, Sam Adams Boston Lager, garlic and spices.  You get a board loaded with veggies, different types of bread (including our favorite, pretzel bread) and apples.

The second course is a choice of three different salads.  The kids usually share a Caesar salad and my husband and I share this California salad.  It’s super tasty with mixed greens topped with candied pecans, Gorgonzola and house-made raspberry vinaigrette.

The third course includes a choice of three different entrees.  I believe that different locations of the restaurant may offer different entree options.  We always opt for “The Classic” which includes Certified Angus Beef Sirloin, shrimp and Herb-Crusted chicken breast.

For our second entree our go-to is “The Pacific Rim” which includes dumplings,  duck, shrimp and Teriyaki marinated sirloin.

With the entrees you also get a bowl of veggies that includes potatoes, broccoli and mushroom caps. The fun of this restaurant is getting to cook the food yourself!  Every person gets two colored cooking forks.  The colors are different so it’s easy to keep track of whose fork is whose.  Your server will tell you cooking times, but it’s approximately one to two minutes for seafood and additional cooking time for other other proteins.

And we can’t forget about the sauces!  There are six different sauces that you can dip your cooked foodinto including a Green Goddess sauce (my fave), cocktail sauce, Gorgonzola sauce and a curry sauce.

The restaurant thinks of everything.  The plates have special compartments for you to scoop your sauce into.  As you can see, you will be eating your main entree in stages.  Since you only have two cooking utensils, you will be continuously cooking and eating the main entree.  You will also get a “Search and Rescue” slotted spoon, because inevitably, some food will fall off your cooking fork!

Of course, the kids’ favorite part of the meal is dessert! Since we most recently celebrated my son’s birthday, we let him choose the chocolate fondue, since there’s only one per table.  This time, he chose the Flaming Turtle which includes milk chocolate, caramel and and candied pecans.  There’s a splash of rum which is added and set on fire, thus the “flaming” part of the turtle.

When you arrive at the restaurant, they ask if you are celebrating a special occasion.  We mentioned to the hostess and our waiter that it was our son’s 10th birthday.  When our waiter brought us our dessert, he also brought this fun, colorful plate.

The Melting Pot is a fun restaurant that is great for celebrating special occasions, a date night or just a dinner out with friends.  When you dine here, you will have a memorable, interactive experience.

The Details:
(Please note that The Melting Pot has locations throughout the United States.  Check the website to see if there’s a location near you.)

The Melting Pot White Plains
30 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601
(914) 993-6358

Hours: Monday – Thursday 5 PM -10 PM Friday 5 PM -11 PM, Saturday 12 PM – 11 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 9 PM

Parking:  Street Parking

Price:  $$$ (Four-Course dinner for two plus cocktails approximately $100+)