Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Now Serving! Maharlika-Tasty Filipino Brunch in the East Village


I recently had the pleasure to sit in at Maharlika's pop up brunch restaurant where they're serving up traditional Filipino breakfast dishes and twists on Brunch cocktails til the end of March. I was in heaven as my table was filled with practically the whole menu of savory deliciousness that would prove nostalgic to any Filipino who has lost contact with their native cuisine. From the Sisig(pig parts served sizzling on a cast iron skillet topped with 2 eggs sunny up to the tradition Tocilog(Cured pork with Garlic fried rice and 2 eggs and everything in between. Mmmmmm.

Although the concept of a Filipino restaurant isn't new to New York, I feel that the Nicole Ponseca, a former Ad agency executive and Enzo Lim a famed NYC bartender and musician are taking a fresh approach in presenting a taste of the food of 7107 islands that make up the Philippine archipelago.

I had a chance to talk with them briefly in between a packed house of guests and heres what they had to say:

Boulevardist(B): Where were you both born and where did you grow up?
Enzo: Metro Manila
Nicole: I was born in Philadelphia and raised in California... I also spent time in the Philippines studying the food.

(B): Why Maharlika as a name?
Enzo:It conveys a rich sense of history. In one sense it refers to nobility -- a warrior noble class to be respected and loved. But it also generates a sense of nationalism.

(B):What inspired you to do this?
I was working in advertising and occasionally would have to wine and dine my clients. Eventually, the conversation came up about filipino food and where we could go to get some. To be honest, i didn't want to take them to turo turo(filipino fast food) or go to Queens....the offerings at the time didn't showcase the food in a way that could compete with other non-filipino restaurants (e.g. service, presentation, ambiance, wine list, cocktail list, etc.). I started telling myself...I can do this..." so i started working two jobs concurrent with my day job so i could learn the business....hosting, serving, bartending, running, bussing, managing....not sleeping.

(B): What culinary message are you voicing in your concept?
Enzo: We want to take a modern, studied spin on classics. As with the food, so in cocktails. Basically, it's important to show people that they are already somewhat familiar with this food / drink. Everybody's got that one Filipino friend, right?

Nicole: in one word: pride. I want to educate on our history and culture through food. Why is Vietnam and Thailand a common travel destination and not the Philippines? I think its due in part to food....so when you are introduced to goi cuon or pad thai, you start getting curious about the country and culture...well, if you cannot afford the pricey ticket to the Philippines, perhaps you can afford a more accessible dinner amongst 5 friends...and then you might be more curious about the country and the culture...and maybe then people might be more interested in visiting the country....

(B): Why pop-up?
Nicole: I saw the success of Egg, and its history of popping up at Sparkys years ago. For us, it became a recession-based solution to getting a business off the ground. We are helping our host restaurant pay the bills and they are helping us get the dream materialized. I wish i could say i had some genius master plan about popping up, but it was all about preparation and being in the right place in the right time....i guess kinda like the book Outliers....

(B): Since this has proven a success whats your next steps?
Nicole: i'm so entirely grateful for the websites, bloggers, facebook, the reservations and walk ins every weekend. on our first week, we looked at each other and only had 4 tables...i was like "uh...dear god...please send people"...then by the third week, we had reservations booked over a week in advance! Next steps: keep improving and exploring opportunities to share the food.

I was surprised by a plate of Balut. Its a delicacy in the Philippines not for the weak stomach but for the culinary challenger as it was featured on fear-factor. I took the Challenge. For more info click Balut.

As they search for a more permanent space to hang up their decorative wooden fork and spoon, I look forward to their goal of Maharlika becoming a benchmark in furthering the niche of Filipino food in the culinary world.

Maharlika Pop-up is open Saturdays and Sundays for Brunch only through the end of March.

351 E. 12th St. (off 1st Ave.)

For info and reservations click: Maharlika NYC or email info@maharlikanyc.com

(I had to book mine a week in advance so don't wait)

At your Service,

The Boulevardist

All mouthwatering photos courtesy of +Snowflake Photography

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Patti Smith's "Just Kids" book review and an inspired photo shoot

As a man forever in love with New York City and regular at haunts that still hold a sense of nostalgia such as El Quijote and the Odeon, I also enjoy hearing stories about the icons that contributed to the creativity of our beloved city.

Lately I've noticed lots of folks reading the new Patti Smith book "Just Kids" and although I haven't read it yet, I've been talking about the book with a dear friend and writer Kara Hughett who's in love with it.

Heres what she had to say about it:

"Perhaps it's my impending birthday rounding the corner that calls for necessary reflection, or quite possibly it's Patti Smith's recent memoir, Just Kids, that has me honing in more so on my daily interactions and what forms of creativity I allow to into my life. Just Kids is a detailed recount of Smith's relationship with legendary photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe and those crucial kinship's made within her critical coming-of-age years. From seeing the Velvet Underground for the first time live to sitting on the floor of Janis Joplin’s room at the Chelsea Hotel while Kris Kristofferson sang “Me and Bobby McGee,” Smith examines the moments that molded the artist she has become, including the most sincere affair of all - crowning Mapplethorpe as ".. the artist of my life.” Throughout each page lie personal and poetic descriptions of a type of relationship that seems to have gone missing in recent eras; tender, boundless and never wanting what they couldn’t have or concerned for what the future might bring. As I seem to be pacing my last 20-something pages strategically for the sake of not wanting this written work of art to end, I've realized through Patti's carefully chosen lexicon that she's brought me back to my roots – in a sense fostering and maintaining relationships while taking the mere moments to digest and reflect on the company I keep."

and for a hot interpretation in the form of fashion photography...

VMan's Patti + Robert shoot by Christian Brylle

Patti + Robert link

I was very surprised and happy to see a shirt by another dear friend and Designer Raquel Allegra featured in this shoot. Check out her amazing handmade pieces at http://www.raquelallegra.net/

At your service,

The Boulevardist

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cosmic Dust-A Love Poem

You streak across the universe
a star anew
a sting ray of light
in electric blue
youre a gem in the sky
shining heaven on earth
a projection of beauty
to which you give birth

the constellations form around you
where cosmic streams
excite dances of fire and desire like laser beams
surround you and get tangled in your hair
making me feel as if Im an
interstellar baby crying out to you
silently without boundaries,

Cant you hear me?

with each flash your energy
consumes me, leading me into this
galactic high that only my curiousity
of your vibration which stings
and swells my imagination can get me out of...

do I really want out of this high?

I sit in zero gravity hoping that maybe someday
we may be able to sit on the same cloud
dangling our feet
singing out loud
songs about love

For I am a man from Mars,
humming sweet lunar bars
of Passion
and as love as my navigator
I will find my Venus in You.

At your service,

The Boulevardist

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Rules of a Gentleman

Heres a refresher blog for all you Gents thats made of rules added by its readers. Add yours. Thanks for pointing this out Kara.

Click: The Rules of a Gentleman

At your service,

The Boulevardist

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aphrodisiac Cocktail Recipes for Your Valentine


In celebration of the Hallmark holiday thats coming up soon I recently had the opportunity to play in front of the camera and make Mocktails(non-alcoholic cocktails) served at the Museum of Sex's Oralfix cafe. All the recipes were created by Emilie B of Fork and Design.

As with each recipe, if you'd like to spice things up a bit go ahead and add your favorite spirit. Enjoy!

At your service,

The Boulevardist

Click here for the videos: Aphrodisiac Cocktail Recipes for your Valentine on www.epicurious.com