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Friday, August 10, 2012

Peachy Picks Alcala Our Coverage Sponsored by Paul Mayer Attitudes

Executive Chef and Owner Jesus Martinez

Paul Mayer's luxuriously, comfortable designs keep women coming back for multiple -- even dozens -- of pairs. Classic, yet contemporary and always comfortable, his shoes are an addiction that we highly recommend. 

A staple of the Paul Mayer collection is the simple ballet-flat, with true ballerina construction for a perfect fit that comes in a variety of colors and materials. A cult favorite is the cozy, a flat with lavender-scent infused soles adding style and fragrance to collector's closets as Paul's designs emerge in sophisticated design incarnations season after season in the most incredible hues, textures and modern innovations in luxury footwear because we know firsthand how incredibly brilliant he is. Here are two recent hot numbers from the Paul Mayer hit parade:

Mayer founded the brand in 2004 with partner, Jeff Levy. All shoes in the line are manufactured in Spain’s Valencia region, along the Mediterranean coast by a skilled staff of 12 artisans. They craft each pair of shoes with an old-world attention to detail that includes in-house embroidery, quilting and stitching as well as custom tanned leather. This allows the brand to cater to each retailer’s specific demands in with timely and consistent alacrity, with orders completed in an unheard-of 3 to 5 weeks. 

In 2011, Paul Mayer stepped out into Manhattan's Upper East Side with a new attitude, opening his flagship store at 1388 Third Avenue. The store which cleverly resembles a pink and black shoebox offers up to 150 shoe styles, including his popular ballerinas, exclusive designs and more. As an added bonus, shoppers have the chance of running into the designer, himself. Paul's sage shopping advice and style eye has made him the New York shoe lover's best kept secret. When not in New York, Paul can be found traveling to his myriad of stores across the country meeting his loyal clientele or vacationing in his favorite spot, the Royal Hawaiian on Waikiki Beach.

Not only is it Whom You Know (and not who you know!), but also it is which gate will you enter?  Life is a series of picking entries and exits and the gate we recommend you frequent is Alcala, which means gate in Spanish.  You know Peachy's a total Anglophile and at times a Francophile but never mastered anything Spanish, but the Gambas al Ajillo are a convincing start to the world of Spain, in tandem with Paul's shoes which are made there of course.  We were absolutely delighted to meet Executive Chef and Owner Jesus Martinez who promptly greeted us with enthusiasm upon our passing through the gate!  Alcala was first featured in Tasty Tidbits:
Alcala is advancing to Peachy's Picks because it is one of the best Spanish places we've been to ever, and the owner takes tremendous pride and care in doing EVERYTHING right.  Though Spanish wines are not an obvious go-to for Peachy, Jesus totally knows what he is talking about when recommending wines: he suggested the Muriel Rioja Crianza 2004 which was as ripe, full-bodied and decadent as she had hoped (please note not everyone is good at suggesting wines; we just don't say anything when they aren't.  Jesus is fantastic at picking wines), in addition to being terribly versatile from course to course-hold onto your hats you are going to see quite a lot!  (Good thing Peachy wears Miraclesuit because no one can tell how much she eats...) We first tried a shot of Gazpacho which was fresh, juicy and possibly the best one Peachy's ever had.  Before we even had a chance to peruse the menu, and you know who is a speedy reader, some lovely Anchovies in Sherry Vinegar greeted us:
Now, if you think you don't like anchovies, let us just inform you that is because perhaps you have been eating the WRONG anchovies.  Peachy tries nearly everything and these succulent tapas were not too salty and just right served up with red peppers.  Notice how beautifully they are arranged.  You are going to like these, especially when you have them with the Tortilla de Patatas: 
This is a scrumptious Spanish omelet with potatoes and onions, again, served beautifully.  This balanced out the strength of the fish with the basic flavors in this-and note how cute the little potatoes are inside!  Sliced perfectly, this continued to ignite our appetite.  Now Peachy was going to read the menu.
Except for the tapas could not stay away!  We were equally enthused to become acquainted with each as they made their entrance into our presence.  We cannot remember a fresher salmon in recent memory than this one resting upon tomato rubbed bread.  If you are going to meet someone for drinks, clearly this is an ideal spot to go as we do not recommend drinking without eating, and there are so many tapas stunners available that are tremendously decadent, our favorite of which was the GAMBAS AL AJILLO:
Oooooh you will not be able to get enough of the shrimp in sizzling garlic sauce-Peachy is still dreaming of it.  Clearly this took her full attention as after this snap of a shutter the camera was set down for more important things, like the fork.  The shrimp were so flavorful and the garlic was not shy and the shining tapas star wowed us with every bite.  Now Peachy was going to read the menu.
Except for the special tapas of the day wanted to come to the party too!  Count this in your blessings if you are lucky enough to go on a day when the octopus tapas is being served on a cloud of mashed potatoes from the Gods.  
You could order the entire Tapas menu and say that was dinner, but we came for dinner in the traditional sense.  The octopus was light and flavorful and another aspect of Alcala you should know about is that one reason why we'd surmise that Jesus is such a star in the culinary field is because his parents had a restaurant in his native Santiago, Spain which has since closed.  (Jesus you can send this to them and they'll be able to hit translate in Spanish see top right of site under subscribe.)  Twenty-five years ago he left and came to New York, and Alcala opened in 2002.  It is not uncommon to see three presidents sitting in this classy joint at the same time and quite a few dignitaries agree this is quite the gate when they set foot outside of the United Nations.  

The tapas party came to a close for the day (we can't wait to go back and visit again!) with the Croquettes.  Both the ham and the codfish are impressive in their own right and they are lightly breaded-not too much-making them perfect croquettes.  After menu perusal, Peachy Deegan decided she'd try a lovely salad, to balance her diet:
Colorful, delicately dressed and bursting with flavor is the Ensalada de Navarra: white asparagus, piquillo peppers, endives, cherry tomatoes, idizazbal cheese (we found a new cheese to love!) and scallion vinaigrette over mesclun salad.  This sets a new standard for salads and we love it when we see fresh vegetables all dressed up like this in one decadent symphony of goodness.  The nutrition angel on Peachy's shoulder was catching up to its counterparty on the other now.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do and Paella is as traditional of a Spanish dish as ever, so Peachy opted for that.  To be exact, the Arroz Confitado was a stunning combination of Confit of rice with chorzio sausage-with the proper kick we might add, flavor that is just right without sending you to a gallon of water for too spicy; chicken, shrimp, squid, mushrooms and caramelized sofrito.  Every bite was a celebration and it was even properly served in a paella dish.  
Also it looks like there is a garden in back so possibly you'll see an encore someday in Peachy Dines Al Fresco.  Note that they are on East 44th between 2nd and 3rd.  Finally, in closing we had a series of three desserts: chocolate mousse, fried milk and sweet tart all delightful in their own right.  Because this is Alcala, and they are no ordinary restaurant as you can tell, we also had a second course of dessert of rice pudding which was right up there with the garlic shrimp-the spoon was more imminently important to Peachy than the camera shutter because of its pure goodness.  
Our esteemed panelist says:

Known to locals and dignitaries alike, Alcala is an East Midtown gem serving up traditional Spanish fare that delights the senses and feeds the soul. Alcala’s General Manager, Jesus Martinez, transports us back to his hometown of Santiago, Spain with a menu that focuses on authentic Spanish dishes with a modern twist. As for the ambiance, the atmosphere is a breath of fresh air and mimics the menu with its classic décor and modern accents. 

Once seated, we were greeted with a medley of tapas that did not disappoint. From the Gambas al Ajillo to the Croquetas, the delicious aromas of sizzling garlic, paprika and butter engulfed our nostrils. In fact, the Llescas Catalanas boasted marinated salmon so fresh even this self-proclaimed salmon-phobe reached for seconds. Armed with a delicious full-bodied Rioja that was supple and fresh, it was on to the appetizers. I decided on the Setas al Horno, which included roasted shitake mushroom caps expertly seasoned with garlic and parsley and cooked to perfection. 

The true highlight of the evening came in the form of Solomillo de Cerdo Adobado, the marinated pork tenderloin paired with roasted red peppers and a potato puree. The pork was tender complemented by the delicate sweetness of the red peppers. The combination of flavors had my taste buds salivating even before I took the first bite. 

The meal would not have been complete however without a traditional latte and an array of homemade desserts including a rich Trio de Chocolate, Arroz con Leche and Leche Frita. I think the only thing more enjoyable than the various flavors that graced our senses was the gracious and gregarious owner himself. 

Peachy Picks Alcala!

Alcala is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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