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What I Did Today … Craftbar and Starbucks Via

Let’s take a break from cooking for just one day. I really want to tell you about what I did today, but I will forewarn you — I was invited to this event, a product launch. It’s not something that I generally talk about on this blog, but it was a great event at a great place so I just wanted to share a bit. And to be clear: I wasn’t asked to write about it, nor was I persuaded in any way to say something nice …

So, what was it? Starbucks has just launched Via, an instant coffee. Yea, I know. You are probably smacking your lips in disgust and shaking your head. I have some wonderful memories of traveling in Europe that are dotted with drinking way too much horrific NesCafe instant coffee … blech. It had this burnt, dirty taste that still makes me cringe.

The strange thing was that when I tried the Via, I actually liked it. It won’t replace the brewed coffee that my husband makes me every morning (thanks, honey!) and it won’t stop me from occasionally feeding my nonfat Caramel Macchiato habit. But it’s good and I wouldn’t hesitate to make it when Shawn forgets to brew me coffee once in a while.

Back to the event. It was held at Craftbar – one of Tom Colicchio’s New York spots. Sadly, I didn’t see Tom, but believe me, I looked. I have a huge chef-crush on that man. Seriously. That smile …

I digress.

The food, which came straight from the Craftbar menu, was out of this world. The mixed greens salad might have looked simple, but the shallot vinaigrette was extraordinary. I want that recipe (Tom, dear, would you send it over? If only it were that simple). I don’t even know that I can adequately describe the flavor — it was slightly sweet, full and salty, in a very good way. I could have stopped eating there and been a very happy woman … but I am glad I didn’t.

For my entree, I had Fried Organic Chicken, Collard Greens, Watermelon and Picholine Olive. If you read New York Magazine with any bit of regularity, you probably know that fried chicken is the “it” food of the moment in New York. Well, I can tell you that this chicken was to die for … Every crunch just screamed with flavor. If I was at home, I would have happily picked up the bones and sucked every bit of breading off. It was just so good.

And dessert … oh, dessert. Olive Oil Cake, Black Mission Fig, Rosemary Ice Cream, Pine Nuts … Swoon. First off, I have never had figs before. Heck, I have avoided them. When I think fig, I think Newton’s and they aren’t my fav. So, I just don’t do it … except today. When it arrived, I nervously took a bite. Then another. Then another. Turns out I happen to love figs. Who knew? As if that’s not enough, the rosemary ice cream tasted of fresh rosemary just plucked from the home garden — and I love that flavor. And the pine nuts? Salted and lovely. The cake was lovely too.

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Thursday 1st of October 2009

Oh Sarah, what a fantastic day. I have to confess, I have a crush on Tom Colicchio too. I'm soooo jealous that you got to visit one of his restaurants.

I don't like figs either - I had a bad experience with Fig Newtons way back when I was about 11. I might have to give figs a second chance too.