I’m preaching to the choir here: this is going to be a unique holiday season to navigate in the face of this coronavirus pandemic. Best practice indicates to largely stay away from people outside of our own households, so there should ideally be no gathering around the Christmas tree or lighting the menorah with our loved ones out of town, or even across town.

In my opinion, the best gift we can give to the ones we love this holiday season is the gift of literal physical space as COVID cases continue to climb, to know we love each other and are willing to not put anyone in harm’s way by potentially spreading this coronavirus. I’ve already told my parents I likely will not be staying home for Christmas, and they understand – thank you, Mom & Dad, for being logical science-understanders! – because even if I stay inside all day from now until a few days before Christmas, get swabbed, and quarantine until I get a negative result back, I live with people that work outside of our apartment, one of whom is patient-facing. I’m definitely not in a hermetically-sealed bubble and am always at risk of catching it even if I’m being careful, ya know? (Unless I can get a toilet, sink, mini-fridge, and hot plate in my bedroom and live college dorm-style for the next twenty-four days…) There is no point in putting my parents in a position to catch it from me just for the sake of having a “normal Christmas” in Connecticut for a few days, oy!

If all goes well, the holiday seasons of 2021 and beyond will be much more “normal”, and I have great faith that we can hold on until then.

In this same vein of seeing how the pandemic has affected us all, it has affected businesses, from ones in large cities down to ones in bucolic small towns. Wouldn’t it be nice to support them while finding a wonderful gift or two to send a loved one we cannot see in person this year? Let us continue to support local businesses, Black-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and women-owned businesses this holiday season and beyond, no matter where you live.

There are so many wonderful NYC-based food & drink brands that I have connected with over the years – and a few of them that I’ve included may be slightly be outside of the immediate confines of the five boroughs, but I had to include them! – and I am excited to share this list. Some goods are available only locally, while others can ship their goods nationwide! Please support them, whether it’s purchasing from them or simply sharing this post with others. ❤️

(And yes, the dessert list is the longest. No need to mention it. Ha!)

NOTE: All food and drink items below have been personally vetted by me; i.e.: I have consumed from every business mentioned below! This list could – of course – be greatly extended, but I am posting regarding brand I have tried, enjoyed, and purchase from.

AND ALSO: Certain business may not ship to all states, and some businesses only deliver within the NYC Metro Area; I’ve noted this where necessary, but *please inquire with businesses directly* if you have further questions about pick-up, delivery, or shipping.

NYC Food & Drink Brands – A 2020 Holiday Guide!

NYC Alcohol Brands

NYC Beverage Brands

NYC Dessert Brands

NYC Condiment Brands

In 2007, this gal who has travelled, admittedly, too little – I’m not a good flyer… – I went to Austria to participate in International Advent Sing with my alma mater’s choral group. I was in the Bay Path Chorale from 2003 – 2006, and I was thrilled when they invited me to participate as an alumni member! (Truth: I’m convinced they were low on altos, but I was still appreciative. Ha!)

As I was traveling, I was eager to try traditional Austrian fare. I did have to roll my eyes a little when some of my friends and I entered up as a multi-level buffet restaurant; I happily grabbed schnitzel, spätzle, and apple dumplings as my friends bought…spaghetti and pizza. Not in Austria! I could eat that back in Connecticut, I wanted to immerse myself in local foods as much as I could! Sure enough, as our trip went on, I got to indulge in platters of meat on the bone and Austrian wines at Gumpoldskirchen, and I had the best goulash of my life at Melk Abbey. I’ll never forget those huge burrito-sized cream puffs from Anker Bakery, and I’m happy that I got to try the famed Sacher-Torte at Hotel Sacher!

Me at The Hundertwasser House in Vienna, Austria – November 2020. No food in this pic, but plenty of cats!

Honestly, do I explicitly remember eating cheese on my trip? Most likely, but I can’t remember any specific times when I did.

Luckily, I can get most any food I desire here in New York City! And thank goodness for that!

Recently, I was reached out to by Europe Home of Cheese to sample some Austrian Mountain Cheeses. Along with the cheeses, I received some education material regarding them and Austria’s historic cheesemaking processes.

I received three cheeses to try. The Mountain Herbs Rebel from Käserebellen is lactose-free, verified GMO-free, matured in natural rind, and made from mountain farmer’s hay milk TSG, which you can read more about here. Its herbaceous flavor is unbelievable! The Alp Blossom – soft with a stunning coating of marigold, rose petals, lavender, and chervil – has a subtle sweetness yet a strong robust flavor at the same time; this cheese borders on “too pretty to eat!”, but I was able to get over that and enjoy all that cheese had to offer. Finally, I received Moosbacher; if I had to compare it to something you might know, think of a Jarlsberg or a Emmental kind of swiss. Its tang is undeniable, and its smooth texture with its tender bite is always inviting.

What strikes me about these cheeses is the care put into their production. In a nutshell, there are stringent standards that Austrian cheese production must adhere to, and I always appreciate transparency when it comes to the foods I consume. A few key points to share, via the team at Europe Home of Cheese:

  • “Bergkäse” translates to “mountain cheese” ; roughly 70% of Austrian cheese producers are located in the Austrian Alps.
  • Austrian dairy production – cheese-production included – is verified non-GMO.
  • 90% of farms are family-owned, the oldest is dating back to 1313!
  • There are an average of 20 dairy cows per family business to control animals’ welfare.
  • 25% of Austrian agriculture is organic; per EHC: “More than 30 years ago, Austria was the first country in the world to establish governmental guidelines for the organic production of food.”

From an American standpoint, I feel we buy a lot of our cheese from the grocery stores – think our pre-packed cheddars and mozzarellas from large brands such as Kraft or Cracker Barrel – but with little consideration regarding the process of the cheesemaking, much less the treatment of the animals involved. The strict – which I say in a positive way! – regulations on cheese production in Austria truly made a difference in these cheese overall; as a consumer, I can take comfort in knowing I’m consuming something top notch from well-treated animals, and I can – quite literally – taste the difference. Per EHC: “Austrian mountain cheese follows the quality standards set by the European Union, which guarantees the authenticity, quality, place, and technique of these Austrian alpine cheeses.”

With over 400 types of Austrian cheeses, do yourself a favor and check out what your local cheese shop has to offer. You’ll be more than pleasantly surprised as what you’ll find!

Please visit their Facebook page for more information regarding Europe Home of Cheese!


Note: This cheese was gifted to me for an editorial review on my website. As always, all opinions remain my own. Thank you to Europe Home of Cheese and the Austrian Mountain Cheeses campaign for this tasty opportunity!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I decided to dip back into my Seek Satiation Archives and dig up this recipe for Cranberry Cobbler!

I’ve made this a multitude of times between Halloween and New Year’s. At Thanksgivings of yesteryears, this has been a hit! According to my original blog post, I mention how my two younger cousins – both in their mid-teens at the time – loved this the first time I made it, and that was nothing short of a holiday miracle. Ha!

As you can see in the recipe notes below, this ain’t an original by any means: It’s a recipe from the Domestic Diva herself, Martha Stewart. (Or, perhaps, more realistically, some recipe developers on her team. Haaa.)

This recipe is a dream to make! Incredibly simple, and the sweet buttery cake is a perfect match for the tangy juicy bursts of whole cranberries peppered throughout.

This definitely is not a cobbler in the traditional sense – think stewed fruit topped with soft biscuits. But, it’s an autumnal that’s wholly satisfying, no matter what you call it.

Some photos of this cobbler from Thanksgiving in 2016, when I originally posted this recipe. It looks like it was a chillier Thanksgiving. Boy, I may not be a huge fan of Thanksgiving – I’ll be 100% honest here, HA! – but I do love being home in Connecticut for these late year holidays in general. I can almost smell this cobbler baking in my parents’ stove by just looking at this first photo…

Cranberry Cobbler

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe for Cranberry Cobbler)
(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 & 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or grease a round 10″ pan and set aside.

2.) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Mix in 3/4 cup sugar.

3.) In a separate large bowl, whisk together milk and egg. Once combined, slowly stream in melted butter and whisk. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and fold together to form cake batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

4.) In a small bowl, combine cranberries, water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon. Gently dot the top of the cake batter with the cranberries until the surface is evenly covered; do not press the cranberries into the batter.

5.) Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cake is springy to the touch. Remove, place on cooling rack, and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Many years ago, when I first visited ROKC months after it opened, I was greeted to an intimate and unique dining experience. Set down a short flight of relatively nondescript stairs slightly beneath street level on Broadway in West Harlem…I walked right past it that first time! Ha! But once I turned around and descended the stairs, I settled in for one of a few stellar ROKC experiences. Admittedly, I’ve probably consumed more cocktails there than their ramen over the years, but to each their own. 😉

As many of my followers know, I am immunocompromised – I had my spleen removed in 2008. Good times! – and have been playing it extra safe during this pandemic. For a person that loves her restaurants and supporting her favorite food & drink businesses, it’s been a challenge for me to not enjoy my usual haunts. Since my followers are also aware that I work in Infection Control at a major NYC hospital and know COVID numbers a little too intimately nowadays (!), I avoid virtually all dining at restaurants that are opened, both outdoor and indoor. Luckily, I love to cook, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss a night out or a weekend afternoon at a nice cafe. Still, I have been taking advantage of take-out and delivery around my neighborhood more than ever, because I want to support our local businesses and…some nights, i just don’t have the energy to even microwave a frozen entree after a 10+ hour work day.

ROKC has recently reopened after a brief hiatus, and I am so happy I am able to enjoy their extraordinary meals and one – of – a – kind cocktails in the comfort of my own home. A peek at their menu left me weak in the knees and eager to indulge! Let me share my take-home experience with ROKC.

Food at ROKC

For starters, I went with the Pork Bun. It’s tried, true, and comforting. The texture of their bao is always pillowy and this was no exception. The pork belly shredded perfectly with each bite, with the homemade tartar sauce giving it the perfect extra zing. Though usually one for their Kyoto Bowl when I have eaten in-house – classic with the pork belly, bamboo shoots, and jammy egg – I opted to order their Sapporo for a change, a chicken-based ramen with corn, scallions, red pepper, black pepper, butter, and bean sprouts. This chicken-miso broth was as silky and luxurious as any tonkotsu broth I’ve ever had. The Sapporo – thankfully! – was not overwhelmingly salty, which is always a big minus in my book yet is an issue with far too many NYC-area ramen spots, in my opinion. ROKC flavors their ramen perfectly, and it’s one of the few ramen spots that doesn’t leave me feeling overly-full. Who can relate to having a little too much broth left in the bowl after you’ve finished, leaving you feeling a little guilty? Trust me, not a drop remains in the bowl when I’m finished with ROKC ramen.

Please forgive my styling skills in my ramen photos, as that isn’t my strongest suite, but all that matters is that it tasted amazing!

Cocktails at ROKC

An upside to this pandemic – I say that with my tongue firmly in my cheek – is that many establishments have been able to sell alcohol with take-out and delivery orders. Fantastic, because the cocktail menu at ROKC has always set a high bar. Even at home, I am impressed with their attention to detail: I ordered the Japanese Old Fashioned, and I was sent home with a large ice cube and decorative orange peel; I ordered the Flower – with lavender Japanese barley vodka, elderflower, and cranberry – and I was sent home with the most delicate small bouquet of dried flowers to decorate my drink with. That attention to detail had me FLOORED. The bottles ROKC uses for take-home cocktails are small and hardy; one of the bottles fell out of my paper delivery bag that was slightly rain-soaked the night I picked up this order, but it held strong against the sidewalk outside of the 103rd Street 1 Train Station! *phew*

This was my first time trying either of these two cocktails – I’ve tried other cocktails in-house before, Smoke being a favorite – and of course I was not disappointed! I’ll never turn down an Old Fashioned of any sort – I have become a brown liquor appreciator as the years go on – nor will I ever turn down fragrant calming lavender in my drinks; in addition, I love the tang of cranberry, especially in the autumn. Both are perfect for a chilly autumn evening at home, thought I wouldn’t sleep on any of the warm cocktails on their menu for my next order, such as the Apple, Choco + Mint, or – for post 9 p.m. orders – the Nightcap.

As we roll into the autumn and winter, more of us will likely start coming back home to eat again, with the temperatures getting colder and the prevalence of COVID cases rising. Please continue to support your favorite spots with take-out orders during this time, as I – and we! – want everyone to thrive business-wise. I cannot suggest take-out from ROKC highly enough, with their consistently great meals and cocktails. Set the mood at your apartment, and enjoy!


To order for delivery in the Harlem Area or for pick-up, click here for their Grub Hub site! They are located at 3452 Broadway in West Harlem. As permissions for outdoor and indoor dining allow – depending when you read this post! – there is limited indoor and outdoor seating available. Just remember to be mindful of safety restrictions, keep your masks on when not actively eating or drinking, and tip WELL. Stay SAFE, y’all! ❤️


Note: This meal from ROKC was complementary, and I provided additional cash tip to staff for their hard work in preparing this meal. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for this fantastic meal!