Ben Pogue, Photographer

posted by Thupamodel on June 8th, 2012 in The Scoop

Just a few years after food blogging has become a mainstream hobby, food photography has become a force of it’s own. Just take a look at Saveur Magazine’s “Best Food Blog Awards 2012″ and you will be amazed at the high level of design and art direction that goes into producing each nominee’s blog post, each photoshoot, each video.

It was recently that I came across fashion photographer Ben Pogue’s online portfolio and felt compelled to share his work. The simplicity of using singular ingredients, modern composition, and dramatic lighting make Ben’s food photos stand out. They are raw, dark, and exquisite – an antithesis to the usually-happy and bright colored mainstream food photography. Take a look below, and also see his portfolio on WSM website.

Gravlax, meatballs, & aquavit at Smörgås Chef

posted by Thupamodel on April 15th, 2012 in Wining and Dining

The Smörgås Chef is a small restaurant on a beautiful sunny block in the heart of West Village, quiet and unexpecting to all who walk by. It was first introduced to me by a dear comrade, a world traveler & lover of fine quisine, whose adoration of Scandinavian culture shines through to all who befriend him. On my consecutive visits to the restaurant I always think of him, and thank him for introducing me to this little gem in New York. Tack så mycket, Andrew Rai :) The Smörgås Chef is small and elegant, with just enough cool appeal to make it a casual dining experience without the fuss so many restaurants fall casualty to in New York City. Once inside, I like to nestle in by the window, contently purring as I sip my wine and roll the meatballs around the plate. So simple, such joy!

With three locations around New York, Smörgås Chef owns and operates its own 150-acre farm in the Catskills, which supplies local, sustainable, and all-natural ingredients to its  unique menu based on the principles of “New Nordic Cuisine.” The menu does not miss out on traditional staples such as herring, gravlax, and meatballs, but it’s the quality and simplicity of preparation of the dishes that make them shine. The expected heaviness of “meat and potatoes” is replaced with delicate nibbling that leave one content, yet wanting more. My dinner companion and meatball connoisseur, Ms. Joy, agreed that these were some of the best meatballs she’s tasted outside her Hungarian/Italian home – and she is quite impartial to the ones from the Meatball Shop. Gasp!

Rounding off every dinner experience at Smörgås Chef, Aquavit is the drink of choice (it is a spirit distilled from grain or potatoes with flavors of caraway, anise, coriander, and dill.) Aquavit means “water of life.” I say that about vodka too, and taking into consideration my volume of it’s consumption (I am Russian, after all!) that makes me immortal :) Njut av din middag, vänner!

 

Smörgås Chef West Village
283 West 12th Street, NYC | 212.243.7073

Balut + Roasted Pig at Engeline’s

posted by Thupamodel on February 22nd, 2012 in Wining and Dining

I first heard about balut a little more than a year ago on Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods”. A Philipino specialty, balut is a 16 day fertilized duck embryo (which is basically a semi-formed body of a baby bird), boiled and eaten in the shell. Balut is considered a cheap and hearty street snack in Southeast Asian countries, just like a slice of pizza in America.

You can imagine my excitement to try balut when The Gastronauts organized a trip to Engeline’s, an authentic Philipino restaurant, located in Queens. Rare to leave Manhattan, I braved 5 trains and traveled hundreds of miles (just kidding: 1 train, and 25 minutes) to try this rare specialty which I vividly remember learning about on “Bizarre Foods.” Cracking my egg with the same excitement reserved for receiving an engagement ring, I was surprised to finally be holding this little “gem”! The eggs are savored for their balance of textures and flavors; the broth surrounding the embryo is sipped from the egg before the shell is peeled, and the yolk and young chick inside can be eaten. All of the contents of the egg may be consumed, although the white may remain uneaten; depending on the age of the fertilized egg, the white may have an unappetizing cartilaginous toughness.

Now for the pièce de résistance – a whole suckling pig! Although a great dish, and I can truly appreciate it’s appeal, it is not something I’d usually go out of my way for. That said, Engeline’s had a pretty great presentation: perfectly crispy skin, tender meat, and I even got to try an eyeball, some brain, and even tongue (my favorite bits of any fish or mammal!)

There were other impressive dishes served, such as bops (pigs heart and intestines in vinegar and spices) and chicharon bulaklak (deep fried crispy ruffle fat with vinegar sauce). I thoroughly recommend skipping dessert, which is a flavorless interpretation on a sponge cake. But it does come in some pretty neon colors!

ENGELINE’S
5828 Roosevelt Ave, Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 898-7878

A very long engagement at Mas (la grillade)

posted by Thupamodel on February 12th, 2012 in Wining and Dining

Grilled Squid and Arugula Salad with Espelette Pepper and Basil Oil | Wood- Fired “Island Creek” Oysters with Lemon Thyme-Shallot Butter

My weekend brunches are notorious for lasting into dinner time, way past the acceptable late afternoon mark of 5ish (thanks to my Papaya enzyme pills, which now have the same amount of importance in my purse as the Lancôme powder or the Hermès perfume.) Such was the case at this lovely number, Mas (la grillade), a French farmhouse-inspired restaurant in West Village. Arrival to the restaurant: 1pm; departure… 6:30pm (this did not beat my record!)

Grilled Whole Portuguese Sardines with a Mache Salad | Wood- Fired “Island Creek” Oysters with Lemon Thyme- Shallot Butter | Grilled Yates Farm Lamb with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Cippolini Onions | Grilled Whole Dorade Fish (check out it’s chompers!)

Luckily, my friend is just as passionate about food as I am, so we both ordered more than enough dishes to get a full taste for the restaurant’s specialty, which is foods grilled solely over hardwoods. No gas! (No pun intended.)  I was pleasantly surprised with all the dishes, and in some cases totally charred by the combination of flavors. (Pun intended!)

Grilled Pear and Organic Pecan Upside-down Cake, and Huckleberry Compote | Grilled Pumpkin-Chocolate Tart with Toasted Marshmallow Cocoa Nib Ice Cream | Cheese plate

Overall, I loved the food: simple preparation, clean presentation, and unique flavors because of the special woodsmoke. There wasn’t a dish that I didn’t care for, which can happen when I’m is stuffed to the brim like that house-cured lamb sausage in the picture above (enzyme pills to the rescue!) Even the cheese plate and desserts blew me away! The only disadvantage was sitting on the second level, where the grill smoke tends to rise and mingle with customers like a Maitre’D usually does. Shame, because the upper level is quite lovely for it’s oversized skylight! Leaving the restaurant I was lightheaded from the fumes, and my clothes smelled like I worked the grill for the past 5 hours (Hermès to the rescue!)

The service was a bit slow, and the check was off by $100, but I would go back – specifically for the sardines, oysters, whole fish, and the pear/pecan/huckleberry dessert!

 

MAS (la grillade)
28 Seventh Ave South, NYC | 212-255-1795

 

And once again, my photo was featured in “The Best of the Eater Flickr Pool” set! That delectable food of the Gods, uni & beef from Takashi (previous post). Thanks Eater.com!

Feature in Karin+Raoul Magazine, Taste Issue

posted by Thupamodel on February 10th, 2012 in The Scoop

Feed The Model Blog had the privilege of being featured in Karin+Raoul, a provocative Art and Lifestyle magazine. Issue 5: Taste (available in print & eBook version) is 200 pages of tasty visual and editorial treats. Check out this preview below:

 

KARIN + RAOUL MAGAZINE ‘TASTE’ ISSUE #5: TRAILER from Karin + Raoul on Vimeo.

Beef cheeks + sweetbreads at Takashi

posted by Thupamodel on February 7th, 2012 in Wining and Dining


 

I first read about Takashi in New York Magazine many months ago. The initial writeup advertised a fabulous assortment of offal to be cooked by yourself on a mini grill right at your table (or in my instance, chef’s counter.) It was not long ago that I saw the restaurant’s name resurface as a spotlight on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, New York episode. Well, what better night to nurse your hangover & forlorn heart than with a refreshing sake & sizzling bits of pancreas on a cold winter’s Sunday?

 

 

Eyes lighting up with every choice on the menu, I ordered a variety of dishes to try. My gentleman friend let me take the reigns on this one, and even though he was reluctant to try a few items, he later agreed that my selection was superb! The first dish to arrive was Niku-Uni (chuck flap topped with sea urchin and fresh wasabi), followed by Stewed Beef Tendon Casserole, and Bake-It-Yourself Oxtail and Potato Curry Pie. The first dish was featured on The Layover, and was just as spectacular as it Bourdain claimed it was. Tender, delicate, rich – the meat falls apart on your tongue and you think it’s all over, but then shiso, seaweed, and wasabi all gang up on and remind you that its only a beginning. It’s all quite sexy. But THEN came the Big Kahuna, a potent combination of Fioe Gras, Kobe Beef, and Chocolate BBQ Sauce – that can only be described as NC-17 flavors for your taste buds! I kid you not. This is better than falling in love for the first time.

 

 

The beef cheek and sweetbreads were perfectly marinated and cooked by our waiter. There ware minimal distractions with rice bombs and grilled onions – the meat is the superstar here. There are much more tender morsels to try from the menu such as different kinds of cow stomachs, raw liver, calf’s brain, etc. I will be returning very, very soon!

 

TAKASHI
456 Hudson Street, NYC| 212.414.2929

Birthday dinner at Jules

posted by Thupamodel on January 30th, 2012 in Wining and Dining

 

I enjoy celebrating my friends’ birthdays in December more than the winter holidays such as Christmas and New Year, most likely because I can relate more to my girlfriends than to Santa (D’ed Moroz in Russian!) I don’t have a large family either, so I am happy to avoid random gift exchange with third cousins I’ve never met, or listening to a drunk uncle who shamelessly enjoys undressing me with his eyes. Instead, I prefer to exchange gifts with three of my girlfriends, and undress the sexy waiter with my own eyes instead!

 

 

Here we are at Jules, a lovely French bistro in the East Village, celebrating the birthday of one of my dearest friends, Agatha. One can never go wrong with French food if celebrating, especially if there is also live jazz involved. The menu is quite authentic, the atmosphere is festive, and the server’s French accent is very thick. What more can you ask for? One can forget that she is New York City’s East Village, instead magically transported to Paris’ Marais…

 

 

At Jules, the menu is classic French, very good and affordable – the only drawback is that it’s either cash only, or American Express. Still, there is redemption in the nightly live jazz. Stop by any day for a glass of wine with escargot, and catch Nina Simone or Chet Baker tunes. A few must-have dishes from the dinner menu:

 

Cassoulet De Pluots Et Figues “Tête De Moine”
oyster mushrooms & figs casserole with frisée, cow milk cheese flowers, apple and walnut dressing $12.50

Escargots À La Provençale
burgundy snails baked in a garlic and parsley butter $12.50

Terrine De Campagne “Mère Azeline”
homemade country terrine, cornichons, toast & greens $9.50

Moules Frites “Jules”
steamed p.e.i. mussels with shallot, lemon, rosemary, garlic & parsley $18

Steak tartare
raw chopped beef filet mignon bound with spicy cocktail sauce, frites, & quail egg $14.50-21.50

Crème Brulée
caramelized vanilla custard $7

 

JULES
65 St Mark’s Pl, Btw 1 & 2 Ave | (212) 477-5560

 

Thursday Night Burlesque at Casimir

posted by Thupamodel on November 17th, 2011 in Wining and Dining

I love the city’s culinary diversity and it’s many bars and restaurants. I have my favorites I always come back to, backup favorites for the times I’m indecisive, and new places I look forward to trying. For example, Casimir, a quiet French bistro staple in New York’s East Village, has always been my backup favorite, but it’s recent acquisition and new management by Mario Carta has brought it back on the map as a place du jour, and my current staple. Every trip to Casimir is a tiny trip to Paris, not just for the authentic French vibe, but for the excellent food.

This adorable bistro is located far off the path of hipsters, tourists, and the glamourati. It is like Balthazar, but without the pushy crowds; like L’Express, but more authentic; like Cafe Luxembourg, but more chill. Do you get where I’m going with this? Casimir has become by bistro a la mode for any occasion, especially on Thursday nights, when I want to begin my weekend early with a glamorous Burlesque show, staged in the center of the restaurant. Come with me, wine and dine on some of the best French bar food in the city, and stay for the titillating show, which is not only exotic and seductive, but still so friendly and elegant. Bring a date, bring your friends, bring your parents – everyone will enjoy the cheeky and fun acts by some of the most beautiful girls you’ll see outside the strip clubs (badabing!) The acts change weekly, so use it to the advantage to be a little bad on a school night – loosen up your tie, hike up your skirt, and get a little rambunctious! Performances by Miss Peekaboo Pointe in her classic burlesque act, Russian contortionist Miss E. Katarina, and an exotic fan dancer, Jezabel Express. Admission is free; friends, what are you waiting for?

 

My perfect dinner:
Fresh Oysters
Terrine De Foie Gras
Steak Tartare
Duck Confit or Flank steak
Side of Brussel Sprouts & Bacon
At least a bottle of Pinot Noir and/or Beujolais!

 

Casimir
103 Avenue B, btw 6 & 7 Streets, NYC |(212) 358-9683

Delicious food coma at Red Farm

posted by Thupamodel on October 20th, 2011 in Wining and Dining

My dear friend and a fantastic chef, Lloyd Roberts (Grammercy Park Hotel, Nobu Moscow & Budapest, Zuma London), visited New York past September, and while making his culinary rounds of the city, invited me to a dinner at Red Farm, one of the best new restaurants to open this Fall. Not to speculate, but we tasted 85% of the entire menu, and left the restaurant totally engrossed in a food coma (it was painfully delicious!) Below is a portion of the dishes we tasted that fateful night, and even though I won’t go into describing each single one, I will mention some of my favorites.

Thank God Krishna, my best friend Joy was there to help us taste all the spectacular food. Without her generous appetite, I would surely spontaneously combust by the end of the night! Being a food writer/enthusiast is not easy, especially since I love trying numerous dishes to get a better idea of the restaurant’s menu and its kitchen. It is especially hard when I dine out with a chef, and most especially when my chef friend is in cahoots with the restaurant’s GM, Andy Wang (a very generous man!) Overtime for my trainer.

Let’s focus on the restaurant – Red Farm is a new destination from dim sum master chef Joe Ng and Chinese food expert Ed Schoenfeld (Chinatown Brasserie, Shun Lee), backed by Jeffrey Chodorow. Bringing the greenmarket sensibility to modern and inventive Chinese food, the super-charged dim sum are complemented by modern, rustic décor. Recently reviewed by Adam Platt for New York Magazine, it was given a single star and called ‘barnyard Chinese’. Pish posh on the single star and the title! I personally believe the quality, price, and creativity of the dishes deserve two stars. I loved the location, intimate decor, and communal table sharing, even though the noise levels reaches borderline deafening at some moments (I blame it on the group of shrieking women sitting next to us. They were exited by the food, so it’s good thing!) In particular, I was smitten by the little design details such as hanging plans, intricate lightbulbs, and even menus hanging around the dining room. This is right up my alley when I start designing my own restaurant (yes, there is already a plan in action!)

Favorite appetizers:
Kumamoto Oysters Meyer Lemon-Yuzu Ice // Jaw droppingly exceptional, and I had just come from having dozens of oysters at Balthazar!
Yuzu-Wasabi Shrimp // Can’t go wrong with shrimp. The seafood here is exceptional.
Spicy Crispy Beef // The crispiest, tastiest beef you will ever try. Period.
Kowloon Filet Mignon Tarts // Adorable AND delicious.
Shu Mai Shooters // Small and packed with flavor. Impressive presentation – great for girlfriends to share.

Favorite dumplings:
Pork & Crab Soup Dumplings // No soup dumplings are alike. These are some of the fattiest and chewiest I’ve had in New York.
‘Pac Man’ Shrimp Dumplings // Adorable, again, AND delicious. Super playful plating.
Steamed Lobster Dumplings // Another star of the night. Gorgeous plating, and an exceptional taste.

Favorite entrees:
Grilled Marinated Creekstone Rib Steak, Bok Choy // If you are to order only one thing on the menu, this should be it.
Claypot Chicken, Star Anise and Flatbread // The chicken is very tender and it comes with a great curry sauce.
Soft & Crunchy Vegetable Fried Rice // Very light, yet still packs flavor, and I appreciate it for all the veggies on top (pictured below).

Overall, the food is really spectacular, and is perfect for sharing. Most of it is not heavy, though it is filling. Go with a date, or a small group of friends to enjoy the full experience. There is something for everyone to enjoy, so be sure to ask your server for the best and popular dishes.

The wine of my choice was Cupcake “Red Zinfandel” (North Coast, CA). Absolutely divine. The cocktails my friends shared were also exceptional.

The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, which is usually a pet peeve of mine. However, I can let it go for Red Farm. The food is worth the wait, so pack a thermos of wine, and get in line. Tip: bring a crisp $20 just in case the wait is extra long! Wink, wink…

Best dishes of the night, Steamed Lobster Dumplings (top left) and Grilled Marinated Creekstone Rib Steak (top right).

 

Red Farm
529 Hudson Street, NYC | 212.792.9700

The festival of San Gennaro + Rubirosa

posted by Thupamodel on October 12th, 2011 in Wining and Dining

Every September, Mulbery street becomes the mecca for flaunting Italian heritage during it’s annual, week-long festival – San Gennaro. The event is known worldwide, but especially in New York City, it is one of the most decadent gatherings featuring religious processions and colorful parades, free musical entertainment every day, a wide variety of ethnic food delicacies, charming restaurants and cafes and even a world-famous cannoli-eating competition! The historic Little Italy (especially Mulberry Street) area is home to many top restaurants, one of which is my absolute favorite, Rubirosa. Take a peek at my day trip of San Gennaro, as well as a dinners at one of the current best Italian restaurants in NYC (I have never had this much pizza or pasta since I spent time in Italy! And let’s not even go into too much detail that Rubirosa was voted by Eater.com to have the hottest looking staff. Evidence is the pictures!)

 

I must admit that all of the food smelled absolutely incredible: from fried dough, to pizza, to Italian sausages, and even raw seafood. Even though I was craving to try everything, I was picky in my choices and went mostly for the savory stuff (don’t ask – I had a very long night before. Thank God I know retouching, hehe!)

 

 

Let’s talk about the best pizza & pasta in New York – Rubirosa. These guys have conquered hearts and palettes of many foodies, as well as added a jean size (or two!) to some of most fabulous fashionistas (excuse me, but two of my favorites, Andrej Pejic and Kate Lamphear, eat at Rubirosa! Now I don’t feel so bad about stuffing my face with bruschettas, vodka pizza, seafood tagliatelle, affogato, Averna, limoncello… Let me stop now.)

 

 

My trainer turned me onto Rubirosa, and now he has to work twice as hard to keep my pizza rolls off. Besides amazing food, there is plenty of eye candy, which counts for a large portion of coming back there again, and again, and again. Yes, my dears, it is time for you to follow the gospel of Mulberry street and its many fine Italian eateries. See you there on Friday!

 

Rubirosa
235 Mulberry Street, NYC | 212.965.0500


ABOUT ME
I've created this blog to express a newfound passion for food and cooking. Years of dieting as a model have left me starved for real gastronomic experiences, so I am hungrily exploring the best of food and culture with a thick schmear of enthusiasm! Read about my adventures in dining out, cooking at home and in culinary classes, developing gourmet beauty skincare, and follow me on exciting travel adventures. Email me!


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