Ramiro’s 954: An Authentic Latin Fusion eatery with a fresh innovative menu

 

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I visited Ramiro’s 954 restaurant as I was excited to try a Latin fusion eatery with a stellar reputation.  Located over the border of Northern Westchester in Mahopac NY, the restaurant is warm and inviting with bright colors and wood trim and ceiling beams that create the a Latin atmosphere. Ramiro’s 954 has a lovely menu with a contemporary of blend of cuisine from Spain and Latin America.

The bar offers a nice selection as well of cocktails and wine.  The White Sangria that I tried was one of the best I have ever had. Light, fruity and sweet and it made me feel like I was on vacation.  The classic Mojito is a perfect choice and was served in a tall glass with muddled mint leaves, lime, club soda and white rum and was delicious.

Ramiro’s offers a large selection of appetizers and it is hard to choose which one.  We sampled several from the menu.  Standouts for me are the Empanadas de Picadillo, a crispy turnover filled with ground beef, garlic, onion, pepper, red wine and served in a sweet chipotle cream sauce.  Everyone at the table thought they were fresh and fantastic.

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Empandas

Another nice choice is the Platano Relleno, a great dish comprised of fried sweet plantain stuffed with chicken, peppers and served with a black bean puree, queso fresco, and avocado sauce. A real knockout dish and great to share with your fellow dinner guests.

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Platano Relleno

If you are a taco lover, try the Tacos Dorado, crispy corn tacos filled with BBQ pork, chipotle, mango salsa and queso fresco.  This was a big hit with the combo of BBQ and fresh ingredients.  There are 15 items alone on the appetizer menu.  Some of the appetizers are available in vegetarian form.

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Tacos Dorado

There is also a Ceviche menu and I highly recommend the trio tasting, which consists of Ceviche de Camaron: blanched shrimp, roasted tomato sauce and orange juice, onion, jalapeno pepper, avocado and cilantro. The other sample was Chifa de Atun, which is tuna in lime juice with seaweed salad, jalapenos and soy-habanero sauce.  The last of the ceviche trio was sliced salmon in lime juice with wasabi avocado sauce.  This innovative ceviche menu was delightful and was beautifully presented.

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trio of Ceviche

 

Main Course:  It was a challenge to narrow down our entree course as there is such a unique and interesting selection of dishes. There are 20 selections from which to choose.

The filled Mahi-Mahi (Dorado con Risotto) is a stellar pick.  Fresh grilled Mahi-Mahi is served with mushroom risotto, lime blackened sea salt butter in a sour orange reduction.  The fish was lightly grilled so that there was a perfect balance of grill flavor blended with the fresh tender fish.

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Mahi-Mahi

 

 

If Paella is your favorite (as it is mine), go for the delicious traditional Spanish dish with saffron rice, and a healthy portion of shrimp, scallops, mussels, chicken and chorizo.

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Paella

For shrimp lovers, try the Cameron Enchilado– seared shrimp served in a mild tomato sauce, diced grilled pineapple, rice and zucchini salad. This dish is a true masterpiece with a delectable blend of tastes and a nice presentation.

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Cameron Enchilado

The meat lover in our party was very happy with the Grilled Skirt Steak served over morita chiles sauce, carmelized onions, green beans, and white rice.  There are quite a few beef and chicken choices as well as dishes for vegetarians.

Dessert:  Save room for the homemade desserts!  A unique selection is the  Bananas Fritas, crispy bananas coated in cornmeal and cinnamon served with caramel sauce with cinnamon cookies.  Tasty and creative!    Chocolate lovers will find the Torta de Chocolate the correct choice.  A chocolate tart served Latin style with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.  The chocolate chip cheesecake is light and creamy and the perfect ending to this great meal.

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Bananas Fritas

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Torta de Chocolate

 

I tried the Coconut Martini which can be enjoyed prior to you meal or as I did at the end.  The drink was cool and refreshing and gave me a taste of the tropics.

Ramiro’s is quite popular with the locals.  However, I felt that I was eating in a top Latin Bistro in New York City or Westchester.  Chef and owner Ramiro Jimenez has created a friendly, top quality restaurant, with great service, and an innovative and interesting menu with something for everyone.  He has also written a cookbook called the “Daily Feast Cookbook” and is passion for cooking is apparent.

So take the few extra minutes and cross over the Westchester border into Mahopac and taste the great menu at Ramiro’s 954

 

Ramiro’s 954

954 Route 6 Mahopac New York           tel: 845-621-3333

website :  http://www.ramiros954.com

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Valley Restaurant: an American classic eatery in the heart of the Hudson Valley Highlands

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Nestled in the scenic beauty that is the Hudson Valley Highlands, there is a lovely restaurant that is a real hidden gem.  Valley Restaurant located at the Garrison in Garrison New York is a real hidden gem waiting to be discovered.  This beautiful golf club, inn and dining venue is surrounded by the lush landscape and views  of the Hudson River Valley.

The Valley Restaurant has its own kitchen gardens on the property and the gardeners work with Executive Chef Vin Mocarski who has crafted a menu of American contemporary cuisine which changes seasonally.

The interior space reflects a casual country elegance that feels instantly comfortable.  In warmer weather there is a deck for outside dining which takes advantage of the views of the river and the mountains.  Inside seating is available in both the World’s End Bar and the main dining room.

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Dining selections consist of small plates, raw bar, local cheese boards, and main entrees.

The following are the menu items we had the pleasure to sample:

Though considered a small plate, the Maine Lobster Sliders with salad (or fries) is a healthy, fresh portion of delicious lobster and is great for one or can be shared.  A tasty way to start a meal.

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Lobster Sliders

For seafood lovers, try the Spanish Octopus with yogurt, Piquillo, and chick peas.  This is amazing appetizer that is beautifully prepared and presented.

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Spanish Octopus

Another starter to order is the baby beets with ricotta cheese and bagel chips.  A fresh veggie dish which is has a pleasing presentation.

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Baby Beets

Main Course: my main entree was the American Red Snapper ala Plancha.  What a delicious plate with spaghetti squash, concord grapes and baby herb salad. Again as with the first course, it was beautifully presented and I really enjoyed the fusion of the ingredients.

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Red Snapper

The Nantucket Bay Scallops is a wonderful dish with celery root, pomegranate and brussel sprouts.  The chef really knocked the presentation out of the park with this dish.  The combination of flavors really stood out and enhanced the fresh scallops.

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Nantucket Bay Scallops

For meat lovers, the Filet of Beef with Leeks and potato confit in a black truffled demi jus surely aims to please. A nice portion of beef and potato that was very satisfying.

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Filet of Beef

Do not leave Valley Restaurant before checking out the homemade desserts by specialty pastry chef, Kirstie Castellano.  It was challenging to choose from the nice selection but we sampled the Fried Cheesecake with peanut butter ganache, bananas,  and chocolate bacon. An eclectic and fun dessert. The Pear Tart Tatin with red wine caramel, rosemary ice cream and creme fraiche is a delightful infusion of flavors.

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Fried Cheescake (top) and Eggnog Panna Cotta (below)

The Eggnog Panna Cotta prepared with nutmeg, candied ginger and a Gingerbread cookie was a comforting, seasonal selection and we really enjoyed its fresh creamy texture.

Also available are coffee from Irving Farm Roasters (Dutchess County and NYC) , a selection of teas, a large choice of Single Malt Scotch, Brandy, Port and Dessert wines to round out your dining experience.

The Valley Restaurant was a real find.  The combination of a comfortable dining room, fine service, and outstanding dishes make this restaurant a must dine destination.

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Valley Restaurant at the Garrison

2015 Route 9  Garrison, New York           

tel:845.424.3604                                      

web:  http://www.thegarrison.com

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Holiday Fun for all! The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens

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Looking for something fun for the whole family this Holiday Season?  Then check out the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx.

For this time of year the big event is the annual Holiday Train Show, now in its 25th year.  This show held inside the beautiful Enid A. Haupt Conservatory features large scale trains traveling through the gardens.  It is hit with people of all ages.

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The trains pass through a wonderland of 150 handmade buildings, each one representing a famous New York City landmark, bridge or building.  Each structure is carefully and skillfully constructed using bark,  twigs,leaves and other natural materials. It has to be seen to be believed.

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For the little ones there is a Thomas and Friends mini performance and advance tickets and reservations are needed for this show.

The Gardens also feature a “Bar Car Night” for those 21 and older. Enjoy an after-hours evening at the Holiday Train Show with ice carving demonstrations under the starlight, pop-up acts by some of NYC’s favorite street performers, and live entertainment.  

And in true “bar car” fashion, the evening will feature drink specials and a selection of spiked hot beverages.
Advance tickets are recommended for all events.

for tickets and information:  web:   http://www.nybg.org/home

 New York Botanical Gardens

2900 Southern Boulevard Bronx New York

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photo credits:  New York Botanical Gardens

 

 

 

Mediterraneo White Plains: a fantastic new restaurant with a Coastal Mediterranean cuisine.

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For a divine culinary adventure, you can experience the tastes of the Mediterranean coast at Mediterraneo of White Plains.  This newly opened restaurant is the seventh venture for the Z Hospitality Group and it joins its fellow restaurants also named Mediterraneo located in Greenwich and in Norwalk.  Albert DeAngelis is the Executive Chef at Z Hospitality and he has brought his extensive skills and culinary magic to produce an innovative and delicious menu to this cutting edge dining destination. The cuisine is described as “Coastal Mediterranean”.

The restaurant is located in on the corner of Main Street and Renaissance Square in downtown White Plains in a modern building. The unique interior makes the most of the interesting modern space and includes a wood burning oven, bar, open kitchen, three floor glass elevator, and  separate dining spaces on all three floors.  The feel is open, contemporary with strong European design influence.

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The building is wrapped in windows and an unusual cross hatch pattern which is visually interesting and makes the space bright in the day, and allows it to be part of the city scene during the evening. The large two story high ombre mural and marine colored glass lends to the Mediterranean feel. The look is further enhance by custom lighting, Italian made furniture and nautical inspired wood floors. See slideshow below of interior photos.

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The main draw to this new restaurant is the top quality fresh food and delicious pairing of ingredients combined with a beautiful presentation.

Cocktails: a top mixologist has produced some interesting and refreshing cocktails that were just right and not overpowered by odd combinations of ingredients. They really complimented the meal and set the mood for the evening.  We sample the excellent Sangria de Madrid (white wine), The Don Johnson, a blend of Tito’s vodka, grapefruit juice lime and muddled mint, and The Havana 1960 a refreshing version of the mojito.

Here are some of the great dishes I sampled:  The Shrimp Chowder with andouille sausage is a creamy soup with a slight smoky finish with chunks of shrimp.  A real soothing and comforting taste especially on the cold December night I visited.

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Shrimp Chowder

The charred Spanish Octopus is an appetizer not to miss.  Combining octopus, dried chorizo sofrito, lemon, and sliced potatoes was nicely prepared and soft, not chewy.  A real Mediterranean delight.

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Charred Spanish Octopus

The crispy Potato Gnocchi Salad shows off the homemade pasta taste with a plate of goat cheese, frisee greens and red grapes. I am not usually a fan of gnocchi but this dish was delicious and the pasta melted in your mouth.

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Potato Gnocchi Salad

If you are a ravioli lover, try the Lobster Ravioli with butternut squash, tomato and lobster chunks. Each ravioli was stuffed and full of flavor in each bite.  An amazing dish and very satisfying.

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Lobster Ravioli

The signature dish is the Parmesan Crusted Halibut with roasted cauliflower in a tomato-chive beurre blanc sauce.  This was absolute perfection! All the seafood is fresh delivered that day and you taste the difference.  I cannot wait to have this dish again it was so good.

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Parmesan Crusted Halibut

The desserts are made in house and are fantastic.  I sampled the chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, Pistachio Cake, Tiramisu and the Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce.   All were great, but the Peanut Butter Cake and the Cheesecake were real standouts.

If you are looking for a new dining experience, with a fresh innovative menu and located in an unique modern dining environment, put Mediterraneo of White Plains on your dining list.

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photo credit:Z Hospitality

Mediterraneo  White Plains

189 Main Street White Plains New York

tel: 914-448-8800

web:  http://www.zhospitalitygroup.com/mediterraneowhiteplains

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Christmas Inn: a musical to put you in the holiday spirit at the Westchester Broadway Theater

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A fun and light hearted holiday musical, “Christmas Inn” has come to the Westchester Broadway Theater for a limited engagement.   It is the story of a partnership and friendship of two entertainers who leave Ireland with the hopes of making it big in America.  The story fast forwards two generations to the grandsons of the two men who are also an musical entertainment act.  However the grandsons have split up and the only bond remaining is the fact that they both are partners in an inn in Sharon Connecticut called the Christmas Inn.

Bill Brewer (Kilty Reidy) arrives at the Inn with his son, Sam (Nick Varricchio) just before Christmas to stage the annual Christmas show at the Inn.  However the Inn has seen better days, and it is also about to host Buddy Baker (Jayson Elliot) the estranged partner of Bill.  The audience discovers that Buddy as majority partner has plans to sell the Inn to developers who intend to forever close its doors.   Will the Inn be saved and will the spirit of the holidays warm the heart of Buddy?

The cast includes Maxine the innkeeper (Ann-Ngaive Martin) who adds comedy to her scenes including her alcohol tinged performance of the “12 Daze of Christmas”.  Also impressive is Sara Cline (Linda Baker) who provides the evening with some of the best vocal performances.

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The rest of the talented ensemble of Holly Googe, Joel Pellini, Daniel Scott Walton and Gabriella Perez (prior on the WBT stage in Man of Lamancha and Showboat) sing and dance their way through the numerous Christmas songs that make up the musical.

The character of 10 year old Josie Evans (Molly Siena Culot/Ruby Griffin) is an important one in bridging the divide between the partners.  Her solo performance at the end of Act 1 was inspiring.

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The light hearted musical is filled with Christmas carols that are woven throughout the story.  At the finale, the cast invites the audience to sing a long in some Christmas tunes.

A fun evening and perfect to put you in the holiday spirit.

Ticket Prices Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Beverage Service & Gratuities are not included in the ticket price. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at selected performances. Also check the website for on-going Special Offers! The show is playing through December 23rd  2016

for more information  and tickets

Westchester Broadway Theater    

  tel  914 592-2222

One Broadway Plaza  Elmsford NY

http://www.broadwaytheatre.com

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Judys Bar and Kitchen: comfort food, great BBQ and award winning dishes

If you are in the mood for home made American comfort food, then look no farther than Judy’s Bar and Kitchen in Stamford, Ct.   Described as “American low country” cuisine the food here takes on Southern influences with fresh signature dishes and unique crafted cocktails.  The cooking philosophy is “Simply. Good. Food.”  The restaurant is not fancy, but just a comfortable warm place to come and enjoy some great dishes and Barbeque prepared with attention to freshness.

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The restaurant features a full bar and we sampled The Bourbon Peach Pie cocktail which won “best cocktail” at the 2016 Stamford Best Bartender Competition and was delicious.   At the Sunday brunch I attended the bartender was busy and Bloody Mary’s seem to be a big hit.

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Bourbon Peach Pie cocktail

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Bloody Mary served in a mason jar

A few interesting small plates that I sampled were the Pickled Shrimp Cocktail, the Chicken Fried Chicken Liver with spicy onion jam and the edamame which was flavored with salt, garlic, hot pepper and lime.  It certainly woke up my taste buds!

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Pickled Shrimp cocktail

For a main course you should not miss the hearty Shrimp and Grits which were pure comfort food and the perfect dish on a cold Sunday afternoon.   The Bacon Cheddar Waffle with fried chicken and Sriracha maple mayo was both satisfying and filling.  This sandwich had the honor of winning “best sandwich” at the  2016 Greenwich Food and Wine Festival.  The home made biscuits were creamy and flaky and so good they did not require butter or gravy.

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Shrimp and Grits

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Award winning Bacon Cheddar Waffle sandwich with Fried chicken

The BBQ sampler was also a great comfort food selection as it included brisket, mac n cheese, (voted Best Mac and Cheese at the 2016 Mac and Cheese Fest) ribs, chicken wings, and baked beans.  A real hearty dish to share at the table with your fellow guests.  The BBQ sauces are fresh and made in house and are also available for purchase.

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BBQ SAMPLER

You will feel like part of the family  at Judy’s Bar and Kitchen.  From owner Judy Roll, to each member of her staff, we felt welcome and our appetites were very satisfied during our visit.  Make sure you also sample one of Judy’s amazing homemade desserts that is made by Judy herself!

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Judy’s Bar and Kitchen

927 High Ridge Road Stamford Ct.    tel 203-890-9996

website:  http://judysbarandkitchen.com/

 

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