Event: Mezcal de la Raza Premium Mezcal Tasting, Columbus Day @ Astor Center in NYC

When it comes to the world of spirits, would you say you are familiar with mezcal? Some call it the “smokier cousin of tequila” which is just scratching the surface. This comparison is often made as like tequila, mezcal is also produced from the agave plant. In the United States, mezcal is more of a novelty spirit, but the folks behind Mezcal de la Raza have the mission of breaking those barriers down.

To be held on Columbus Day at Astor Center in NYC, Mezcal de la Raza is a premium mezcal tasting like no other, offering a curated selection of over 30 mezcals from 20 producers in all nine states of Mexico which legally produce the spirit.

Featured brands include:

Cielo Rojo Sotol
Del Maguey, Single Village Mezcal
Mezcal Derrumbes
Mezcal Don Amado
Mezcal El Jolgorio
Espíritu Lauro
Koch el Mezcal de Oaxaca
La Venenosa Raicilla
Mezcales de Leyenda
Mezcal Marca Negra
Mezcalero mezcal
Nuestra Soledad Mezcal
Ochocientos sotol
Mezcal Pierde Almas
Sotol Por Siempre
Mezcal Real Minero
Rey Campero
Mezcal Vago

In addition to the tasting, seminars will be held, focused on food pairing, cocktail creation, and the history and production behind the spirit.

  • Food Pairing Workshop with Yana Volfson of Cosme NYC: discover how different varieties of mezcal express themselves with cuisine
  • Behind The Bar with Alex Valencia of La Contenta NYC: cocktails, glassware, and presentation
  • Production, Culture and Myth with Tess Rose Lampert of PalateTrip: take a trip from the earliest known evidence of distillation through to the modern day

Tickets are available now, with a number of price ranges for the full event, tasting only, and single seminars. Today is the last day for early bird tickets for the full event, for $60, with the price going up to $75 thereafter. Be sure to scoop up your tickets here, and I hope to see you there!

Mezcal de la Raza
Monday, October 10, 2016
2:30 – 6:30 PM
Astor Center
399 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10003

Take A Bite: Burgers & Bloggers at Harlem Shake’s El Barrio Outpost


Harlem Shake’s new El Barrio location

When it comes to food, I like to call myself a bit of an explorer, but nothing satisfies my hunger like a nice juicy burger. At the end of August my blogger bud Mary, of Mary in Manhattan informed me that she was organizing a blogger meet-up aptly called “Burgers & Bloggers”, and in true Andrea fashion, I agreed to be a part of it, without even knowing the location. Once the date was set, I was all about it. The location of our meet up? The newly opened Harlem Shake location in East Harlem, more affectionately known as El Barrio, reflecting the majority Latino residents.

We met up in the afternoon of Saturday, September 10th, on quite possibly one of the hottest days of the season. I was running a little bit behind as weekend subway service is always a hassle because of construction and detours, but I managed to make it in the last hour, and get the lowdown on the restaurant and its unique menu items and decor.


Interior view

Like its West Side counterpart on W. 124th St & Lenox Ave., the new restaurant is decorated to evoke the diner/ice cream parlor style of yesteryear, featuring a bevy of seating options by the bar, large booths, and smaller tables and chairs.


Jet Mag covers

Staying true to the neighborhood, the main dining area hosts a “Wall of Fame” of autographed photos of some of your favorite people, and a wall of Afros. When you turn the corner to head to the restroom, there is one entirely decorated with Jet Magazine “wallpaper”, and the other covered in all of the covers of Marvel’s Luke Cage comic book.


45 coasters?

At our booth, a range of 45 records were placed in the center, I believe to be used as coasters. It freaked me out a little because as an audiophile, the music picks were splendid and the vinyl was still in very good condition to play, but I digress. Now that you have a picture and feel of the space, let’s get to the food!

Harlem Shake is known for their delicious high-quality beef burgers, made from Pat LaFrieda beef, and their handmade, organic milkshakes made from Blue Marble ice cream.


Signature “Poppin Parcha” Milkshake

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Recap, The Stoop Series: Nadia Lopez in Conversation w/ Michaela Angela Davis

To live in an ever-changing Brooklyn, NY, in a world where women are STILL fighting for equal rights can prove to be exhausting. To quote the late Malcolm X,

The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.

As a Belizean-American woman who identifies as Black, I make it my duty to seek out empowering spaces, activities, and events, for women and girls. I always welcome the opportunity for verbal exchange, as I see it as a form of self-care.

While browsing the BRIC website, the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, I was excited to see a free event on the calendar entitled, Bridge to Brilliance: Nadia Lopez in Conversation with Michaela Angela DavisAs coins are a bit low for me, the FREE was a huge draw, but the women featured were most important. By now, you should be familiar with Dr. Nadia Lopez, the Principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Her story became viral via popular Instagram account & blog, Humans of New York, when her student Vidal, mentioned to Brandon that she was the person who has influenced him the most.

The conversation, moderated by CNN contributor and image activist Michaela angela Davis was to serve as the release event of Lopez’s book, BRIDGE TO BRILLIANCE: How One Principal in a Tough Community is Inspiring the WorldI purchased my copy of the book prior to the event as I figured the inspiring story would help lift my spirits, and help me get out of the “I’m 30 and I have no idea what I am doing with my life” rut.

The event, held on the evening of Tuesday, September 20th, took place on “The Stoop” at BRIC, where many public community events are held. At 7 PM, introductions were made, and we began the night watching Dr. Lopez’s TED Talk “Why open a school? To close a prison”, which was filmed in November 2015.

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#ALifeInTheDayInBelize: In Times of Chaos, Respite in Tobacco Caye

A view of Tobacco Caye

Writing about my travels is one of my favorite topics to cover on A Life In The Day of Andrea as I always include the photos I shoot whilst abroad. I must admit, I have not been very inspired lately in the realm of photography, and I knew that another trip with family to Belize would solve it. For ten days in August, I visited Belize with my parents, making it my eighth trip to the motherland. I brought my computer, but for the first time ever, I did not turn it on, and really took my time in the country as a serious vacation.

We had not made any concrete plans, but knew we would stay in Belize City for a bit of time, and venture south to Dangriga, where my mother’s cousin Sherry and her husband Warren live. For me, the spontaneous trips are some of the best. Whilst in Dangriga, enjoying nature and sipping on the freshest of coconut water, we were able to set up a day trip to Tobacco Caye with family friends; one who chartered a boat (as that is the only way to get there), and one who owned a property on the caye. My parents and I had never been to the caye, so for me, it was something new and exciting for us all to experience together.

Broken dock at Tobacco Caye

Belize as a nation was hit pretty badly by Hurricane Earl in early August, and its path was seen throughout the city and towns, with a plethora of debris, damaged docks, and structural damage to houses and buildings. Despite this, the people remained resilient, carrying on daily life and working through the destruction. At Tobacco Caye, Earl was present, mainly in the damaged docks, but aside from this, it was quite peaceful. Unlike larger caye destinations like Ambergris Caye where San Pedro is, and Caye Caulker, Tobacco Caye is tiny; stretching approximately three acres in the protected waters of the South Water Caye Marine Reserve which is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef.

After Earl

We took the approximately 10 mile boat trip from Dangriga to Tobacco Caye in a group of eight family members and friends. As it was a day trip, we brought all of our provisions to make a proper Belizean breakfast, juices and coffee included, as well as lunch. A standard Belizean breakfast consists of fried jacks (a fried bread similar to bake in Trinidad) with a side of guava jelly, refried beans, scrambled eggs, juice and coffee.

Making fried jacks

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Event: Target First Saturdays Celebrating Caribbean Culture @ Brooklyn Museum 8/6/16, Feat. MeLo-X & Majah Hype

MeLo-X. Photo by Hannah Sider

With the recent celebration of Emancipation Day in many Caribbean nations on August 1st, the Brooklyn Museum will be celebrating Caribbean culture in all forms this weekend at their monthly Target First Saturdays program.

The full line-up which you can see below, features film, storytelling, crafts, and live performances by choreographer and dancer Blacka Di Danca, comedian Majah Hype, and musician (and my friend!) MeLo-X.

5-9 pm CaribBEING House: Mobile art center caribBEING House stops by our Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden. In our galleries, contribute to an interactive wall map of Brooklyn’s Caribbean heritage, tell us stories of your #MyCaribbeanHeritage, and see photos from the classic film Rockers.

*6 pm Film: Watch Rockers (Theodoros Bafaloukos, 1978, 100 min.), a documentary celebrating reggae culture and sound systems in Jamaica.

6-10 pm Backyard Bashment: Join choreographer Blacka Di Danca in a dancehall workshop at 6 pm, hear comedy by Majah Hype at 7 pm, and enjoy music by MeLo-X from 8 to 10 pm. All programming takes place in our outdoor Beirgarten in the Steinberg Sculpture Garden.

6:30-8:30 pm Pop-Up Gallery Talks: Enjoy short talks about Caribbean and global masquerade traditions in the exhibition Disguise: Masks and Global African Art.

*6:30-8:30 pm Hands-On Art: Create your own Caribbean-inspired musical instrument.

7-8 pm Community Screening: Join artist Rusty Zimmerman in a presentation and discussion of his Free Portrait Project, a portrait painting series that captures the diversity of Crown Heights. Learn more about the project through #WeAreCrownHeights.

7:30 pm Book Club: Danielle Brown performs musical excerpts from her book East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home, which chronicles Trinidadian music from Brooklyn.

*8 pm Film: The film Bazodee (Todd Kessler, 2016) captures the power of Trinidad’s soca to overcome cultural barriers. For the film’s opening weekend, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with actor Machel Montano, writer Claire Ince, and producers Susanne Bohnet and Ancil McKain.

9 pm Performance: Disguise: Masks and Global African Art artist Alejandro Guzman performs Ganggang: Creative Misunderstanding Series. Featuring Abigail Deville, Christopher Manzione, Clifford Owens, Elan Jurado, Geraldo Mercado, Jessica Gallucci, Marcus Willis, Sam Vernon, Tre Chandler, and William Villalongo.

All events that are starred are ticketed, with tickets available in the museum lobby before showing. As always, EVERY TING FREE, so come through and whine it up with me!

 

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052

Take A Bite & Sip: Henri’s Backyard in Park Slope

Henri’s Backyard

The dog days of summer in Brooklyn, New York call for many things; proper air conditioning, delicious eats, cold drinks + adult beverages, sun, and great company. What if you could get all of these things in one place, and if you live near the South Central region of BK, just with a quick trip on the train or by car? Yes, it is possible.

Say hello to Henri’s Backyard, the laid-back sister restaurant of Henri on Fifth. It is the second Brooklyn-based dining spot from Binh Douglas of the HENRI Hospitality Group.

Indoor seating & bar

Located on 4th Avenue between President & Carroll Streets in Park Slope (or Gowanus, if you prefer), the bar-centric eatery is easily accessible from the Prospect Expressway and Union St. R-Train station. I attended the media preview earlier this month, and arrived cool and in style via Uber. I was working in Bushwick that day, so it was perfect that we had Uber codes for the event, or else it would have taken near an hour of commute time. To my surprise, I was the first guest to arrive (which never happens, in life) and because of this, I was treated to a nice little tour from Kayla, who handled all press for the event. I also bumped into one of my college friends, Erin, who works at the restaurant and created the indoor & outdoor stencil artwork for the establishment.

The backyard

As it was a muggy day, and I tend to get flustered really quickly, I was immediately treated to a cocktail from mixologist Leon. More on cocktails later. I sipped on my cold beverage as I learned more about the owners, food & drink menu, former business in the space (vegetarian eatery Pickle Shack), and was able to meet the chef.

Walking through and arriving at the backyard, in which the restaurant is named, was a delight! Its simple design featuring wooden plank flooring, no nonsense tables, aluminum chairs, and rattan benches evoke summer vibes all year round. What about the colder months, you ask? They’ve got that covered, with a retractable roof/awning that will keep patrons warm and dry when the weather cools up again.

Cocktail menu

A key feature of the backyard, aside from its cool city oasis feel, is a full bar, with 18 lines of beer on tap. Sure to satisfy even the most discerned drinker!

Now, let’s get back to cocktails, as that is how I began my evening. Seen above is the full signature cocktail list for Henri’s Backyard. As I love glamour and excess (or whatever) I began my evening with the S.O.B. which along with bourbon and a mixed berry purée with citrus, was topped off with champagne. Throughout the evening, I ended up sampling all cocktails, but of course, there was one that stood out.

Backyard Boogie cocktail 

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From A Fan’s Perspective: Yuna Wows at #UberSummerSeries at Hotel Indigo in NYC

On the evening of Monday, July 18th, I had the pleasure of attending #UberSummerSeries at Hotel Indigo in NYC’s Lower East Side. The event series is a partnership between Uber, Perrier USA, and Hotel Indigo to highlight the music industry’s brightest talent in an intimate live show at sunset. Last month hosted the souled out sounds of Jhene Aiko, and the July edition featured none other than my favorite Malay songstress, Yuna. For those that have been following the blog and my various social media channels over the years, you would know that I am a HUGE Yuna fan. She is the first artist that I have covered in a From A Fan’s Perspective review twice, and rightfully so, because she deserves it.

Held in Hotel Indigo’s rooftop restaurant & lounge Mr. Purple, the evening was a mix of industry folks and fans alike, who were able to win entrance into the show through requesting “YUNA” in their Uber app between the hours of 6 – 7 PM. Refreshments were provided by Perrier and bites including hand-rolled sushi & kale salad were provided by Uma Temakeria. I was invited super last minute by my buddy Jay from UMG, but was super excited to see Yuna perform tracks from her new LP, Chapters.

Yuna touched the stage minutes after 7:30 PM for a set that was about 30 minutes long. Although many in the audience were a bit loud in their conversations, Yuna’s soothing voice soared over the noise. Not only did she perform songs from Chapters, but from her previous projects Nocturnal, Decorate, and her self-titled debut. I sang along to every word and joked with my friends that I would be available to be a back-up singer if necessary. The acoustic renditions of her songs were perfect for the time of day, featuring guitar, upright bass, drums, and percussion.

My favorite moments of the evening? Performances of the tracks “Lanes” (FAVE), “I Want You Back”, “Crush”, “Decorate”, and oldie-but-goodie “Live Your Life.” Wait, that may have actually been her entire set, with the exception of a song or two. Another key moment of the evening was when my bud Jason, who was there filming for Vibe, handed me his camera and told me to take photos; the ones that you see throughout this post. In my quest to become a better writer, especially music writer & journalist, I oftentimes push my photography skills to the back burner, as my camera is a bit outdated. Working with Jason’s fancy Canon Mark III was definitely a confidence boost, and I hope the photos show that.

In concluding her performance, Yuna was whisked off to conduct interviews with various media outlets that were present. Guests that wanted to hang a little longer were treated to a DJ with the most fire Drake set, more cocktails, and a GORGEOUS sunset.

As I am days away from celebrating my 30th year on this Earth (July 24), I am super grateful for moments like these. Way to start off the festivities right!

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Need Some Jerk In Your Life? Miss Lily’s SoHo’s Got You Covered Monday Nights

Jerk vibezzzzzzz

Summer in New York City is in full effect, and all of my favorite things are on the radar; free concerts, chilling in the park, dance parties, and of course, a plethora of barbecue options. As a purveyor of everything NYC and Caribbean, summer in the city for me is filled with reggae music, corn, and jerk chicken.

Our friends at super-popular Jamaican restaurant Miss Lily’s (in SoHo) feel my sentiments, and are offering a unique special all summer. Every Monday night in the summer, the restaurant is offering all-you-can-eat jerk chicken, jerk pork, jerk corn, and watermelon salad for the awesome price of $25 plus tax & gratuity! This is a great deal as main courses go for about the same price. Peep the info below.

Want to get your jerk on? Make sure to head over to Miss Lily’s on a Monday evening to get your fix for #misslilysjerkfest.

Miss Lily’s SoHo

132 West Houston Street (at Sullivan Street)

New York, NY 10012

 

*Photos courtesy of Miss Lily’s

Celebrating The Launch Of The Laughing Cow Cheese Dippers With A Special Soar & Savor Evening at Trapeze School New York

Laughing Cow Cheese Dippers

To celebrate the launch of their new on-the-go Creamy Swiss Cheese Dippers, The Laughing Cow hosted a unique “Soar & Savor” event at Trapeze School New York, right off the Hudson River for NYC-area press and food bloggers. I attended the event back in May as The Laughing Cow team is awesome to work with, and always provide an awesome experience for attendees. I have never tried the trapeze before, so I was just as excited to try something new, and soar through the air.

The trapeze

The day was quite overcast and I feared rain would appear, but the weather stayed calm for the evening of bites, sips, and high soaring. I was immediately greeted by the team upon arrival and got the lowdown on the evening’s schedule, and was encouraged to have some snacks before my trapeze lesson and experience.

Food galore

I had eaten a pretty hefty lunch prior, so looking at food at this point felt like gluttony, but it was so pretty! There was a crudite platter with various cauliflower varieties, celery, peppers and carrots, potato & tortilla chips, two varieties of guacamole (pea and asparagus based), and miniature sandwiches for all dietary requirements. Cheese Dippers were sprinkled throughout the space, of course.

Beverages

Beverage choices were just as great as the snacks, featuring lemonade, hibiscus tea, citrus-infused water, and basil lemonade. The basil lemonade was my favorite as it had the perfect blend of citrus and sweet, with a hint of herbaceous quality from the basil.

Observe the facial expression

It was finally my time to soar the skies, and we were given all the info we needed from the experts at Trapeze School. They gave us tips on how to stay up in the air and properly dismount. Anxiety slowly started to ease in once I was strapped into my harness, but I told myself constantly that it would be fun!

We added our names to the whiteboard, and of course I ended up being last on the list. I must say, walking up the ladder was one of the hardest parts for me. Once I was up, looking down gave me a small scare, but once I let go, I felt so free!

Letting go

To feel the wind across my body as I moved so freely through the air was a wonderful feeling. I was having a tough few days, so to try something new and truly let go was a great feeling. I managed to do all the turns in air, and dismount safely.

The dismount

The high I got from the experience was totally infectious, and I proceeded to take flight two more times after my initial try. Who would have thought that something so new would end up being so exhilarating. Many thanks to the team at Laughing Cow for putting together such an awesome event with great snacks. Be sure to check out the Cheese Dippers next time you visit the grocery store. Perfect for those busy days, and a great solution for those hungry times we all experience.

 

*All photos, unless marked, courtesy of TheLaughing Cow

Event: The Other Festival, NYC’s 1st All Female Festival, Sat. June 11th at Spring Studios

Here at A Life In The Day of Andrea, we know that the WOMAN is the source of our humanity, and without her, we are nothing. Over the years I have featured the stories of various female entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers in my #WOMANday column who I felt deserved shine for the waves they are making in their respective fields. I genuinely receive most inspiration and support from women, and I always seek to be in spaces with likeminded women to exchange ideas and words of wisdom. Imagine an entire festival featuring badass women?

With the launch of The Other Festival in New York City, we get just that; the city’s first all female festival for makers and creators. Created by Dee Poku, founder of the influential women’s leadership program WIE Network, the fest features panels, workshops, live music performances, and a curated marketplace on Saturday, June 11th at Spring Studios.

Check out the incredible line-up below, featuring talks from Naomi Campbell and Rosario Dawson, and music from Yuna, Vashtie, and many more!

The day begins with talks at 11:30 AM, transitioning into live music at 5:00 PM that lasts into the night. Tickets are on sale now, ranging from $50 for a student pass, $75 for a music pass, $125 for GA, upwards of $1,000 for the super VIP experience. You may purchase here.

The Other Festival

Sat. June 11, 2016

Spring Studios

6 Saint Johns Lane,

New York, NY 10013

#ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland: Historical Luxury for the 21st Century at Ocean House

Facade of Ocean House

When in Rhode Island, there are many places that one must visit, and one architectural gem that is a must-see is Ocean House. To continue my #ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland series, I had the pleasure of visiting the grounds of the hotel on my press trip for bloggers to South County, RI.

Grand entrance

Located in Watch Hill, Ocean House is a historic independent hotel along the coast, originally opened in 1868 right after the Civil War. Boasting a signature yellow facade in the Victorian architectural style, the hotel welcomed guests for 135 years, closing in 2003 when its state was beyond repair. In 2004 a new structure was born which replicated the original exterior, and required a full demolition of the original structure.

Ocean House as we know it presently opened to the public in 2010.

Fireplace

The immaculate attention to detail is seen in every nook and cranny of the space. Take the fireplace above, for example. Prior to demolition, the stones of the original fireplace were saved for the new structure. As you see it, every single stone was reset to mirror the original design, from 1895.

Waiting in the Living Room

We took a load off in the Living Room area in front of the fireplace to re-energize with caffeinated beverages & water after our substantial lunch at Matunuck Oyster Bar before we began our tour. The space was perfectly cozy, filled with tons of couches and cushioned chairs, throw pillows, and coffee table books and magazines to peruse for your leisure.

Our guide arrived back and we started our tour of the expansive grounds at the hotel’s famed restaurant, Seasons.

Bar in The Bistro

Divided into two unique spaces, we began our tour in The Bistro of Seasons, which features a more relaxed dining environment with teal leather stools surrounding the sit-down bar area, and a mix of tufted leather and rattan seating throughout for larger parties. The bar is fully stocked with a plethora of wine and spirits offerings, for whatever you may fancy.

Open kitchen at Seasons

In our walk back, we came across the open kitchen for Seasons. For guests or visitors that crave a unique culinary experience, they offer a Chef’s Counter Experience, which features a prix-fixed menu consisting of eight small plates, lasting approximately three hours. You can choose to add a wine pairing at an additional cost.

In addition, every Sunday the restaurant hosts a Sunday Jazz Brunch with live music from musician Greg Piccolo, and a delicious a la carte menu featuring a raw bar, charcuterie, and all your breakfast favorites.

The main dining area for Seasons is on the oceanfront, and the view from the window is just astounding. This is an unedited photo, above. The intimate setting is perfect for a birthday or anniversary celebration just for two, or a larger group if you please. How can you have a bad time when this is right outside your window?

Al fresco dining

In the summer months The Verandah Raw Bar is open for service, offering al fresco dining on the south facade of Ocean House overlooking the croquet court (below) with views of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to various dining spaces, Ocean House guests can partake in classes at the Center for Wine & Culinary Arts in house, as well as have meals cooked by a chef in the privacy of your own room.

Croquet court

Leisure and rejuvenation is omnipresent at Ocean House, featuring full service OH! Spa which offers body treatments, skin care, massages, and nail treatments, and the OH! Salon which offers full service hair cutting, styling, and treatments. Fitness and wellness classes by appointment.

With room rates starting at about $850 upwards of $10,000 a night for signature suites, Ocean House is definitely a splurge. The thoughtful design, services, and staff are a testament to its history, and willing of the treat.

 

Ocean House

1 Bluff Avenue

Watch Hill, RI 02891

(855) 678-0364

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary trip, tour, and meals for my review

#ALifeInTheDayInRhodeIsland: Farm To Table Amplified At Matunuck Oyster Bar

Views

The summer season is finally upon us, and you know what that means; time to plan travel and getaways while the weather is nice. As a Brooklyn girl, I have been spoiled over the years with all the free summer programming NYC has to offer throughout the season, but sometimes, you just need to get away. A getaway does not necessarily have to be a flight or week away, but even a day or two in different scenery right here on the East Coast.

Just last week I was invited by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation for an exclusive day trip for press to explore the attractions in the South County district. Focused on food, shopping, and luxury accommodations, the itinerary was filled with great attractions that were just on time for me as I was in need of a getaway. I was really excited that it was a small group of four bloggers in total, along with our guides Alexa and Jennifer from Havas PR.

I took the Amtrak train into Westerly, RI from Penn Station and was greeted by the crew in a black sprinter van. It was there that I met Alexa and Jennifer, as well as fellow bloggers Asha of Fork Spoon Knife, Martha of A Family Feast, and Richard of The Passionate Foodie. We chatted a bit and were right off to our first destination of the day, Matunuck Oyster Bar.

Located in South Kingstown, Matunuck is special as it is not solely an oyster bar & restaurant, but an oyster farm as well. Upon our arrival, we met with Perry Raso, an oyster farmer for decades and owner of the establishment. He took us on a tour of the restaurant and gave us the history of the land and the oyster farming industry as a whole.

On the boat with Perry

After our mini-tour of the restaurant’s interior, we headed back outside to Perry’s boat that he takes out on the water to farm and catch oysters. The weather was pristine, sunny and in the low 80s, making the temperature on the water somewhere in the mid to high 70s. We set out and got a firsthand glance of all the different types of oysters that the farm raises, as well as a select few scallops.

Fresh oyster

The water itself was quite shallow, with Perry jumping in every few minutes to show us the different types of oysters, along with the method in which they are raised. We were able to hold oysters in our hand, which I thought was really cool, before we put them back in the water.

On our tour of the oyster farm, Perry informed us that the grounds had a vegetable farm as well, making Matunuck not only pond to plate, but farm to table as well.

Vegetable farm

We took approximately a ten-minute ride up the pond to the vegetable farm, enduring a few splashes en route to our destination. Once off the boat, we took a short walk up the hill to be greeted with a sprawling green pasture of fresh, organic vegetables. The farm was so serene, and I snapped away to capture the moment.

Rows of greens

There were rows and rows of greens, including spinach, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, and edible flowers. Walking around in awe as one day I hope to have my own farm, Perry gave us a sample of a variety of purple asparagus straight from the Earth. I took a bite and was immediately wowed. It was so fresh with a bit of sweetness towards the root, unlike the normally bitter green asparagus.

I could have personally ended the tour after the farm, but you know what was up next, LUNCH!

Like it raw?

We took the boat back to the pier and were seated shortly after our arrival on the outdoor deck for dining al fresco. The restaurant is very popular and had filled up while we were on our tours, on a weekday afternoon at that. Our waitress poured us all glasses of water, and Perry informed us that he would send out a few appetizers for us to try.

We started off with the oyster sampler, which included twelve raw local oysters. The freshness was exquisite and the brininess of the salt water was just perfect.

Trio

Next up was a trio, including from the left, the Clams Casino (eight littlenecks with a buttery bacon & bread crumb topping), Oysters Rockefeller (six oysters baked with Pernod, spinach, bacon, breadcrumbs & fresh herbs), and Bourbon Oysters (six broiled Matunuck oysters with a Bourbon chipotle sauce). The flavors of all three were quite enjoyable, but the Bourbon oysters were by far my favorite as they were a bit lighter than the others, and had a unique, smoky and sweet aftertaste.

Rosé all day

A meal is not complete without a good wine. As we were eating mainly seafood, I felt a rosé would pair well with all the offerings. The rosé was a dryer variety, not too sweet, similar to the varieties of Provence, and paired very nicely with my appetizers.

Scallop ceviche

Now it was time to place our individual orders. I didn’t want to get too crazy, so I figured an appetizer, salad, and a main would suffice, and would save me from a food coma. Up first was the Scallop Ceviche. Being Belizean-American, I am a ceviche snob as my family makes shrimp or conch ceviche when it is in season. When I tell you this scallop ceviche was OUT OF BOUNDS, I mean it.

A generous portion of scallop was served atop a clam shell, paired with mango salsa that included cilantro, lime, and peppers, and crispy wonton chips. The scallop melted in your mouth as you ate it, and the chips provided a perfect textural mashup.

Arugula Strawberry Salad

Up next for me was the Arugula Strawberry Salad, comprised of some of my favorite things: Matunuck Farm’s arugula, fresh sliced strawberries, sherry black pepper vinaigrette, balsamic reduction and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The flavors were splendid and refreshing. As it was a bit breezy out, some of my Parmigiano flew off my plate. I laughed, and continued eating.

Lobster Roll

I went back and forth deciding on a main because the normal menu and specials menu had so many incredible offerings. As I was in New England for the day, I decided to keep it local and go for the Lobster Roll. The meal consisted of chilled lobster meat, lightly dressed with mayonnaise and chopped celery on a grilled buttery split top roll. My eyes widened when I was served as the amount of lobster in the roll was astounding. I took a bite and it was like a lobster explosion; chunks falling onto my side salad and hand-cut fries.

For my first lobster roll in New England, this was off the chain! The lobster was so fresh, and the accompanying flavors were incredibly light, making the lobster the star of the show.

My experience at Matunuck Oyster Bar was just lovely, from Perry and staff, down to every offering on a plate. This will be hard to top! When in Rhode Island, definitely stop by. You won’t regret it!

 

Matunuck Oyster Bar

629 Succotash Road

Phone: 401.783.4202

 

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo for A Life in the Day of Andrea

I received a complimentary trip and meals for my review

Free Fitness in NYC: Bryant Park Yoga Summer 2016 Season, Presented by Athleta & Yoga Journal

There is never an excuse to be out of shape whilst living in NYC during the summertime as there are a plethora of free or low cost fitness classes or sessions throughout the season. Returning for its 13th season is the ever popular, Bryant Park Yoga. The flagship series presented by Athleta and taught by Yoga Journal instructors, holds free yoga sessions on the lawn on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings, now fully in session!

There are great perks for frequent yogis. When you attend your first session, you receive a Frequent Yogi Card, which is used as a loyalty card of sorts to make tabs of every session you attend. Guests who attend 6, 12, 24, or 36 times receive exclusive coupons and discounts from both Athleta and Yoga Journal.

Check out the full summer schedule on Eventbrite, and I hope to see you on the mat!

 

*Photo courtesy of Bryant Park

Take A Bite: Brunchin’ On A Weekday at Dominique Bistro in NYC’s West Village

Street view of Dominique Bistro

As a purveyor of all things cool and delicious in NYC, I always enjoy the opportunity to discover hidden gems in one of the greatest cities in the world. A favorite neighborhood of mine to peruse is the West Village as a majority of the pre-war constructed buildings are still intact, hosting unique retail offerings in fashion boutiques, casual-faire restaurants, and cocktail bars. Newly opened in the neighborhood is Dominique Bistro, a Parisian-style French bistro located at the historic intersection of Christopher & Gay Streets.

Interior. Photo courtesy of Dominique Bistro

I was invited by the restaurant’s public relations team to partake in a meal, and write about my experience. As a Francophile and frequenter of French bistros, I quickly agreed to the task at hand. I visited the restaurant on a sunny afternoon for brunch. Although at an iconic intersection, Dominique Bistro feels off-the-beaten path as the block was super calm, and quiet. Upon entering the facade, I was greeted by a lovely ambience which included a full wooden dining area, bar with a vast selection of wine and spirits, eye-catching artwork, and a record player playing downtempo musical selections.

Latte with half & half to start

I introduced myself to one of the servers, and was seated within minutes at a table near the windows on the left. She gave me a menu and insisted I begin with a beverage, so of course, I ordered my favorite caffeinated beverage, a latté with half & half. It was served in such a beautiful mug (above) complete with fern latté art.

I took a look around the space to get a feel of the vibe. There was an equal amount of solo diners and couples. As the dining area was pretty quiet, it is definitely good for someone who wants to work on their computer for a bit as they do have wifi. I would not recommend it for groups as it is a smaller venue.

Croque Madame served with French Onion Soup

Now, it was time to order my meal. The pressure was on, as there were so many great plates to choose from, but I finally decided on the Croque Madame from their “French Market” menu. The croque consisted of prosciutto cotto, gruyere cheese, and a sunny side egg served atop a crispy bread from Amy’s Bread. I had a side of French Onion soup to pair and add yet another cheesy element to my meal, because I absolutely love cheese.

I really enjoyed the textures and flavors of the croque, but I must say, it was not the easiest to eat. I used my steak knife to cut it into smaller pieces, which proved a bit difficult as the bread was hard to cut through. I took spoons of soup in between bites and burnt my mouth because I did not judge the cool-down effectively. I can say I was a bit embarrassed as I was sitting by myself, making a slight mess of crumbs, and burning my tongue, simultaneously. Nevertheless, the flavors were solid.

Chocolate Soufflé

Seeing my visible stress, the server asked if I would be interested in dessert, and of course I responded favorably. I am a firm believer that dessert or sweets can really turn your day around. As a huge chocolate lover, I HAD to order the Chocolate Soufflé. It came out super fresh from the kitchen in a ramekin, with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream atop a small bed of walnuts.

X-rated chocolate vibes

How could I resist this? I put my spoon in to release heat and not repeat my prior mouth burn situation, and the visual was food porn at its best, seen above. To say the chocolate and vanilla ice cream pairing was delectable may actually be an understatement. The varying temperatures paired with the crunchiness of the walnuts made it the perfectly balanced dessert.

When in the West Village, be sure to have a meal, snack, or drink at Dominique Bistro. Its inviting atmosphere and delicious Parisian menu are a treat!

 

Dominique Bistro

14 Christopher street
West Village, NYC 10014

(646) 756-4145

 

All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal at Dominique Bistro.

Saturday Sounds: ROM “I Just Want You To Know”

Music discovery is one of my favorite pastimes in life, and one of my favorite places to discover new music, aside from the suggestions of friends, is SoundCloud. Although their new set-up as a paid service with commercials is not the best for inquisitive listeners like myself, I am still able to find a fresh bunch of producers, beat makers, vocalists, and DJs with ease based on their suggestions for me.

Case in point is that of this week’s Saturday Sounds offering, ROM. As per his SoundCloud profile, he is a 20-year old producer and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham, UK. I saw that one of my friends had added a track of his to their collection, so I decided to take a listen. I am glad I did. The young musician flips a lot of popular R&B tracks, including a few produced by my favorite guy, Pharrell.

The track “I Just Want You To Know” is a flip of Snoop Dogg & Pharrell’s track “Beautiful”, solely featuring the vocals from Pharrell on the hook. Of course it caught my ear. Listen below and enjoy your Saturday.