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First Course

JESSE SCHENEKER
Recette Brings Us a Taste of Tapas With Inventive New Flavors

Recently opened Recette is pushing the envelope of what it means to have a tapas-style meal. Jesse Schenker is at the helm of Recette, pairing high quality ingredients with Spanish flavors and French cooking techniques that somehow still reflect American cuisine. The result is a menu that is all about trying, tasting and savoring, not gorging and napping post meal.

In the section of the menu labeled "Plates" there is a wide selection of proteins. From hamachi crudo and raw tuna, to crispy sweetbreads, scallops and of course, pork belly. The duck carpaccio is prepared with chicken liver mousse, apple and thyme. Branzino gets accessorized with beluga lentils, roasted parsnip puree and meyer lemon for added brightness. The roasted scallop sits atop braised oxtail, morel mushrooms and green garlic. Yes, that is singular, scallop, but with perfect execution it is enough to make the few (maybe 2) bites memorable. Other sections include snacks, charcuterie, cheese and sides. In doing so, they are keeping the gastronomy somewhere in the middle of simple and refined. Dishes like duck fat fingerlings and roasted root vegetables are foils to more complex flavors like salt cod fritters with lamb sausage ragu and curry aioli. Let us not forget dessert. Their deconstructed smore is already gaining a loyal following as a "must order" menu item. Graham cracker ice cream is topped with marshmallow sauce toasted with a torch and hit with a touch of warm chocolate. The best part is, with the plates being on the smaller side, you have no excuse to say you are too full for dessert.

"BREAKING OF THE FAST" MIDNIGHT DINNER
Easter, Done Greek

After 40 days of fasting for Lent, Greeks, like myself, are eager to "break the fast," and sooner is better than later. Celebrated at midnight, the very break of Easter Sunday, Greeks will attend church and then rush home for an Easter feast with family and friends that will last until the wee hours of the sacred morning. A time for bonding and celebration, a Greek Orthodox Easter meal is not just about feasting, but tradition.

Molyvos, a nouveau-style Greek restaurant, is honoring the holiday with a traditional midnight Easter dinner, a chance to return to the cooking of the customary Greek food that is not just made to fill our fasting bellies, but to celebrate culture and rebirth.

BAR
Peaches Hothouse: Southern Cookin' For the Yankee Who's Lookin'

Peaches Hothouse
Cuisine: New Southern
Price: Average

Bed-Stuy
415 Tompkins Avenue
(at Hancock Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 483-9111
www.peacheshothouse.com

Howdy, ya'll! It's with warm southern affection that owners Craig Samuel and Ben Grossman open their country-styled eatery to the masses. Peaches Hothouse, the duo's third Brooklyn installment (the first two being Peaches and Smoke Joint), comes to the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant offering authentic southern cuisine from the northern side of the Mason-Dixon Line.

ASTOR CENTER
A Gourmet Latino Festival Hits NYC in June

Something very big is coming to New York City, something that has never been done before in America. Hint: if it smells like Latin flavors, sounds like Latin music, and tastes like Latin wine, it must be a Gourmet Latino Festival taking place from June 4-12, 2010. (Tickets for the event are available at www.gourmetlatinofestival.com). Taking place at the Astor Center, the festival aims to showcase Latin gastronomy, through which a deeper awareness of the culture and soul of Latin America can be understood and appreciated.

BALI
Blue Bottle Coffee Expands to the 'Burg

You wake up...too much fun last night, and desperately in need of a caffeine fix. You want instant gratification, but DD just ain't gonna cut it anymore.

Head over to the newly opened Blue Bottle coffee in Williamsburg. Momofuku design team DCR resurrected this beautiful simplistic space in what used to be an old glass-blowing factory. Two weeks in, and already word of mouth has put this San Francisco gem of an import on the map. Originally started in Oakland, CA by someone sick of the same old coffee, the name comes from Franz Kolshitsky's first coffee house in Vienna "The Blue Bottle" which revolutionized the industry.

DOUBLE CROWN
A Family-Style Sunday Supper, Crowned

Double Crown
316 Bowery
(Near Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 254-0350
www.doublecrown-nyc.com
(Nonya Nights: Every Sunday; 6pm to10:30pm; $35 per person)

In most homes, Sunday night dinner is not so much a dinner, but a feast. Filled with family and friends, Sunday dinners are a time for enjoying life, good food-in ample amounts-and conversation. Inspired by Singaporean and Malaysian family-style banquet dining, Double Crown has developed their own family-style Sunday dinner. Dubbed Nonya Nights, the menu (which changes weekly) offers 8-12 courses for a measly $35 per person. Talk about a dining deal!

CHARTREUSE
In 'Good Spirits'

After a very successful first-run, Good Spirits, produced by Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, is preparing for their second installment, set to occur April 6th. Hosted at the increasingly popular Bell House, Good Spirits will match seven Brooklyn chefs with seven spirits, all for your tasting pleasure.

The restaurants showcased in this intoxicatingly merry affair include The Vanderbilt, No.7, Fette Sau, Walter Foods, Mile End, Fort Defiance, The Farm on Adderly, and Palo Santo. Paired with them are seven New York produced spirits-Tuthilltown Spirits, Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, Rhum J.M., Death's Door, Compass Box, Vertical Vodka, Chartreuse, and Illegal Mezcal.

BELLAGIO
Cosmopolitan Announces Restaurant Lineup

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which has the tough job of being located between the Bellagio and CityCenter, may have just found it's edge against the neighboring competitors.

The two 50-story towers, holding almost 3,000 hotel rooms and condo-style accommodations, feature three pools and over 100,000 square-feet of gaming floor-but Cosmopolitan's real draw will be the restaurants.

ALCOHOL
Zengo: A Zing On Your Plate and In Your Glass

Cuisine: Latin American/Asian
Price: Moderate

On March 24th, Mexican-born chef and owner Richard Sandoval unveiled Zengo, his Latin-Asian creation in Midtown. While this Zengo is the latest addition to the two that already exist in D.C. and Denver, the New York rendition has a slightly different menu. To execute the updated selection, Sandoval (of Maya and Pampano) recruited Akhtar Nawab (of the fallen Ellettaria) to be his chef de cuisine. Joining two different cultures that both command their own distinct tastes, Sandoval and his team set out to create dishes that employ this union through varying intensities of sauces, spices and seasoning.