Meb Byrne

Archive for the ‘dinner’ Category

Peking Duck Nachos

In chinese, dinner, fusion food, lunch, nyc, om nom nom on May 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Midtown Manhattan is not the first place I’d go for adventurous cuisine, unless the adventure is titled Things I Could Eat Back Home For Half The Price. Similarly, a Chinese restaurant is not my go-to for nachos. (If I had a go-to for nachos. Which I don’t.) Ruby Foo’s in Times Square, that palatial fortress of vermillion drapes and betassled chandeliers, has set out to disprove both preconceptions heartily.

Introducing Peking Duck nachos. Four oversized wonton wrappers are fried to a bubble-pocked golden crisp and piled high with pico de gallo, pulled duck breast and zigzags of wasabi creme fraiche. At first bite, the delicate, flaky wonton shatters in your mouth, causing a mini-avalanche of toppings everywhere. An impressive array of textures, from the impossibly brittle wrapper to the firm crunch of cubed tomato and the oily mouthfeel of the duck sauce, keep your palate guessing. The taste is intriguing yet inoffensive: the fatty, savory sweet duck meat is more mild than the spicy beef of traditional nachos, and jalapenos and wasabi add a subtle zing without burning your mouth.

You’ll want several napkins and several good friends to attack this ungainly appetizer. Forgo your dignity and dig in.

Ruby Foo’s is located at 1626 Broadway at 49th Street, just north of Times Square.


The 7 Newsletters You Should Be Following

In dinner, list, nyc, treasure trove, website on February 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Even glitter sleuths need a little help sometimes. Here are my favorite email newsletters to stay informed about the wild and wacky happenings around NYC.

Deals & Steals


Daily discounts of 50% to 90% off of goods and services in the city and online. A new deal goes live each morning; when a critical mass of people agree to purchase it, the deal goes live for everyone to buy. From luxury spa services and custom-made jeans to Pilates classes and fancy restaurants, Groupon can save you a ton of money on otherwise-prohibitively-expensive services. Half off at 16 Handles? Yes, please!

LivingSocial Deals

Like Groupon, only less frequent. Subscribe to both and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Funky Events


My favorite newsletter, hands down. Each daily email centers on one new hidden gem that you’d never discover on your own, be it restaurant, store or event. (Four words: mac and cheese burger. Exactly.) The text is written in short, snappy prose, and whets your appetite for more. The UrbanDaddy website offers super cool Groupon-esque perks to members, too.


Like UrbanDaddy, but more partial to lists of cool items, instead of in-depth reviews of individual finds. Twice the fun!

Village Voice Insiders

Like Thrillist, but longer, less frequent and slightly less awesome. You have to search for the diamonds in the rough in the Voice’s lists of upcoming events, but a keeper pops up every once in a while. Subscribe just to be safe.

Cheap Eats

Tasting Table

Like Urban Daddy, but exclusively for gustatory finds. It has a flashier logo, too. A great resource for picking your next Friday night date spot.


Like Groupon, but for restaurant deals only. An occasional email grants discounts and unexpected perks (free sea scallop ravioli! free cheese plate! free bottle of wine!) at chosen eateries for a given window of time. You have one day to accept the offer, and one month to use it.

Start subscribing!

Spaghetti Carbonara

In dinner, italian, recipe on November 17, 2009 at 8:06 pm

In the spirit of the impending holidays and all the internet punditry on how to avoid that dreaded weight gain over the next few months, I thought I’d post one of the most unhealthy, and most delicious, dinners I know. Spaghetti carbonara is a creamy, salty comfort meal, great for sharing with friends and family on cold winter nights. Enjoy with red wine and plenty of good company; this recipe makes a big batch.

Spaghetti Carbonara


1 lb. spaghetti
3 T. butter, melted
2 T. olive oil
4 raw eggs
10 T. grated Parmesan cheese
4 T. heavy cream
1 lb. bacon


1. Cook bacon till crispy. Crumble or cut into bits using scissors.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add heavy cream, cheese, and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Cook spaghetti in boiling water till al dente.

4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt butter. Add olive oil; set aside.

5. Drain spaghetti. Add immediately into egg mixture till eggs are cooked.

6. Add butter and olive oil mixture to spaghetti. Toss with half the crumbled bacon. Sprinkle remaining bacon on top.

7. Eat with gusto!

Casey’s Cottage

In dinner, event, music, park, performance, recommended, renaissance, syracuse on September 9, 2009 at 9:29 pm
Casey’s Cottage is an unassuming wooden house, nestled on the grounds of Mexico Point Park, on the shores of Lake Ontario. Once the carriage house to a larger home on the property and a destination for alcohol smuggled from Canada during Prohibition, Casey’s Cottage is now used for weddings and other social functions. The interior is elaborately carved with medieval figures, and the exposed rafter beams are covered with weird writings: some Latin, some Old English, some a made-up language. The tiny second floor holds two levels of darkened bunk beds and a miniature chapel. The whole building is romantic and endearing to a fault.
The best event at Casey’s Cottage is held for three days every August. Guests are invited to take a trip back in time, and to experience a full Renaissance dinner, complete with food, music, and entertainment. Upon their arrival, guests are instructed to park their “steeds” by a footman, and make their way to the front lawn, where they are greeted by Omen Sade and Nik Magill, two young actors performing as the Feckless Momes. The two young men tumble, tell jokes, sing, dance (if you can call it that), spit water at each other, and even dabble in Commedia dell’Arte techniques to amuse the crowd. Audience participation is random and mandatory if you are lucky enough to be singled out in the crowd.
The Feckless Momes: Nik Magill and Omen Sade.

At the finale of the Feckless Momes show, guests make their way into the Cottage, and are announced at the door as, for example, “Sir John of Smith and Lady Jane of Doe.” Serving wenches lead guests to their seats. The Queen enters last, in full regalia, and welcomes the diners. Another introduction and welcome are given by the Cottage staff, and a third by the voice of Sir William Casey himself, booming from the rafters as if by magic.
Dinner is brought out in small dishes by serving wenches, all students at the local high school. The far-and-away best of the dishes are the Dragon’s Eyeballs, juicy meatballs marinated in a dark, sweet glaze. Guinevere’s Gams (chicken legs), Merlin’s Orbs (baked potatoes) and Lancelot’s Spears (wraps of cheese, asparagus and various deli meats) are also perennial favorites. The menu changes slightly from evening to evening and year to year: one night hard-boiled eggs are served, the next a deep-fried wonton, the next a variation on spanakopita, each with an appropriately fanciful name. Super-sweet boxed wine, beer and water are poured generously.
Just as the food is variable from year to year, so is the entertainment. The Feckless Momes frolic and generally harass guests throughout dinner, to the great delight of the crowd (particularly the women.) Harp and recorder music are played in the background throughout the night, with interruptions for several singing performances by Abigail Anderson and Meb Byrne. (Full disclosure: that’s me. My mother is one of the harp players.) Performances are often impromptu: this year, the Feckless Momes did an on-the-spot duet with the harpists on “The Butterfly,” featuring a kazoo and a pan banged over Nik’s head.
Harpies: Amy Hueber and Jennifer Byrne.
Singers: Abigail Anderson and Meb Byrne.
The best part of the evening is the very end, when Omen rises to tell the story of the Cottage and how it came to be what it is today. The evening closes with a performance of Puck’s closing monologue from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and a fond farewell from the staff, until next year.
Mexico Point is by no means a professional endeavor, nor is it the end-all, be-all of Renaissance recreations. In fact, Casey’s Cottage almost grins at the idea of a true Renaissance reenactment, with its nonsensical wall carvings and medley of finger foods. Be that as it may, the Cottage is a happy, jovial place for friends and strangers to come together, share a night of fantasy and entertainment, and enjoy one another’s company. The common bonds of the human spirit at the dinner never fails to touch me, year after year. For those looking for whimsy, magic and a jaunt outside Syracuse to find new culture, Casey’s Cottage is a beautiful place to do so.