Tag Archives: Summer dining

Recipe: Watermelon Cocktail and Feta Popcorn for July 4th

What could be more refreshing on July 4th than Chef Renee Marton’s Watermelon Wave Cocktail? Its red-tinged coloration sports a true patriotic blush! Pair this drink with Renee’s Feta-shized Popcorn–derived from the now-classic salad combo of feta cheese and watermelon cubes–and you’ve got yourself some culinary fireworks to impress your guests with.

Watermelon cocktail is a refreshing summer drink. Photo: jspatchwork via flickr.

A watermelon cocktail is a refreshing summer drink. Photo: jspatchwork via flickr.

Watermelon Wave Cocktail
6 servings


8 cups seedless red watermelon cubes

6 cups seedless yellow watermelon cubes, frozen. (Freeze the yellow watermelon cubes in an ice cube tray, at least a couple of hours. They will be used as ice cubes in the drink.)

1 cup Cointreau
½ light rum
1 ½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup club soda
¼ cup Grenadine
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Garnish: 2 mint leaves per drink
Pinch flaky sea salt per glass


  1. Place red watermelon cubes in blender.  Blend until mixture is liquefied. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Not including the yellow watermelon cubes, mix next six ingredients until well blended, then add red watermelon juice.
  3. Pour drinks into 6 old fashioned glasses filled with yellow watermelon ice cubes. Squeeze the mint leaves gently between your fingers and drop into the drink (don’t over press—mint will become bitter).  Sprinkle drink with sea salt (5-6 grains/flakes for each drink).

Feta-shized Popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped—unsalted plain is best. Keep warm in a covered mixing bowl.  Or 1 bag popped plain popcorn, unsalted, which you will reheat later.

¼ pound hard feta cheese—the dry and salty kind, grated
1 teaspoon smoked paprika-sweet or hot
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons good olive oil


Warm the olive oil in a small pan (not smoking hot): add paprika and cayenne.  Stir the oil until it is red (about 1minute).  Pour onto popcorn and toss—quite a few times—until well distributed.

Add feta and toss again.

Place bowl (no plastic, please) in microwave and heat for 20-30 seconds (depending on the wattage of your microwave oven).  When cheese is melted, toss all together and serve. Taste for saltiness.  Have napkins handy.

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New York City Outdoor Dining Options Abound

A few days ago, I listed some Upper West Side spots where you can eat outdoors in the warm weather months.  Elsewhere around New York, sidewalk cafes and garden terraces also abound.  Here are a few choices:

What are your favorite outdoor dining spots?

11 East 53rd Street , 212-308-1099

This is the first summer that Alto has offered outdoor dining. You can sit outside and tuck into lush dishes like tortellini con ortica e ricotta, porri e aglio verde (buffalo milk ricotta and nettle tortellini, baby leeks, green garlic puree).

BLT Market
1430 Avenue of the Americas, 212-521-6125

While gazing at Central Park from the 40-seat sidewalk patio, you can sample seasonal fare like pea & ricotta ravioli with spicy sausage and mint.

45 Tudor City Place, 212-599-5045

Even at night, the lush plantings and gardens adorning Tudor City are calming.  If you’re seated at Convivo’s cobblestone patio, you can savor this touch of greenery as well as dishes  like maccheroni alla carbonarain.

156 Tenth Avenue, 212-924-4400

Sit outside in this Chelsea spot and tuck into homey fare like a grilled grass-fed burger with twice-smoked bacon, Vermont cheddar, chipotle ketchup and mayonnaise or Hudson Valley rabbit with creamy polenta and spring onion salsa.

Studio Square Beer Garden
35-33 36th Street, Long Island City, 718-383-1001

This 18,000 sq. ft. beer garden boasts communal picnic tables and iron fire pits. To accompany the beer garden’s 15 imported domestic and craft beers, there are beer hall favorites like  German bratwurst and pub grub like pulled pork sandwiches.

Table 8
Cooper Square Hotel, 25 Cooper Square, 212-475-3400

This new outpost sports a second-floor terrace as well as a 40-seat garden patio for chosing from a menu that’s primarily comprised of small plates.


Upper West Side Outdoor Dining Blooms with Warmer Weather

New Beer Garden to Open in LI City

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New York Outdoor Dining Blooms on Upper West Side

79th Street Boat Basin Cafe

79th Street Boat Basin Cafe

Finally, this past weekend, summer arrived! So that means it’s time to scout out some outdoor dining options on the Upper West Side.

This is the time of year when the Upper West Side shines. The neighborhood brims with outdoor cafes, hidden gardens and other warm weather dining spots.

Later this week, I’ll list some outdoor eateries elsewhere in the city. But here are some of my favorite summertime hangouts in the neighborhood:

1.  Hudson Beach Cafe. This verdant spot at 105th street in Riverside Park has simple pub grub like burgers, a cold shrimp platter and beer and wine. It’s a relaxing place to watch people stroll in the park or to catch a glimpse of dogs frolicking in the dog park across the way. Plus, if you sit on the top level of this bi-level eatery, you can glimpse the shimmering Hudson River through the trees. For sports enthusiasts, there’s almost always a volley ball game going on at the adjacent athletic field.

105th St. in Riverside Park.

2.  Boat Basin Cafe. If you want more action in Riverside Park, then this is the place for you.  Here, the bustling scene is more important than the food. There’s great views of the boat basin—and if you’re lucky of smashing sunsets over the Hudson River.

W 79th St in Riverside Park

3.  Café du Soleil. It’s unbearably noisy inside.  That means the sidewalk café—yes, there are blaring car horns and the roar of the M-104 bus—is by comparison an oasis of tranquility.

104th St. and Broadway.

4.  Bello Giardino. There’s a charming backyard patio adorned with a grape arbor.

71 W. 71st St., nr. Columbus Ave.

5.  Henry’s. For well-prepared American fare like burgers, salads and steaks, Henry’s fits the bill.  You can sit on the patio and watch the usual mélange of Upper West Side types walk by—from moms pushing strollers to packs of Columbia students.

2745 Broadway, at 105th St.

6.  Isabella’s. It’s the scene at this neighborhood Italian. Sit yourself down in their sidewalk cafe across from the Museum of Natural History if you want to see and be seen.

359 Columbus Ave., at 77th St.

7.  La Rural. The steaks are surprisingly tender and affordable at this Argentine grill which sports a garden for warm weather dining.

768 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 97th St.

8.  Nice Matin. This is where the famed five napkin burger originated, and there are Provencal themed choices as well. The sidewalk cafe is always bustling at this busy Upper West Side corner.

201 W. 79th St., at Amsterdam Ave.

What’s your favorite Upper West Side outdoor dining spot?


Outdoor Dining NYC: New Leaf Cafe Opens for the Season

New Beer Garden to Open in LI City

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