Food Industry Forecast for 2016

With 2015 coming to close and the new year quickly approaching, it amazing to think about how the food industry has grown and become such an important part of our culture. With so many amazing flavors, cooking techniques and food trends, it’s hard to even imagine what’s to come in the new year. But here are some of the food and restaurant industry trends we plan to see in 2016.

Fast-Casual Restaurants
Look forward to more fast-casual restaurants popping up in your neighborhood in 2016. It’s evident that more people are looking to get amazing food quickly and for a reasonable price, and major food industry moguls like David Chang (of Fuku) and Danny Meyer (of Shake Shack) are making it big by giving foodies what they want. Expect to see fewer fine dining restaurants and more casual restaurants in the new year.

Grocery Delivery
Grocery delivery services like Fresh Direct and have grown in popularity in big cities like New York, but now markets across the country are picking up on the trend. If you’re short or time or unable to shop at your local grocery store, you’ll now be able to order groceries online and have them dropped off at your door. This is one food trend we’re all looking forward to in 2016.

Importance of Images
Recipes with big, beautiful pictures will become the norm in 2016. Individuals are attracted to and more interested in reading food writing that has visually stunning images, rather than a more wordy article (thanks social media). Look forward to seeing more image-driven blogs and websites  as the year progresses.

Artisan Butchery
Whether it’s a suckling pig or round fish, butchery is an art in the food industry. In the next year, expect to see a growing interest in butchery from seasoned professionals to avid home cooks. Cutting edge butchery shops and butchery classes will educate individuals on the art of butchery in 2016.

To Tip or Not to Tip
Tipping in restaurants is one of the most controversial trends of this year and will continue to grow and be discussed in the coming year. While this has really only gone into effect in a few NYC restaurants, it is projected that more chefs and restaurants will jump on this trend as the year continues.

Thank you for reading Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs, and here’s to an amazing and productive new year! Cheers to 2016!


Homemade Holiday Gifts

Finding the perfect gift for family and friends can be a challenge. So why not make a simple gift that is both inexpensive and delicious? This holiday season, make these adorable festive mason jars with edible holiday goodies inside.

To make the jars, go to your local craft store and purchase small to medium glass mason jars. I bought these at Michael’s for 3 dollars each. Also buy some festive figurines for the top and ribbon to tie into a bow. I found a pack of four holiday figurines at Michael’s for 5 dollars and the ribbon for 99 cents.

Once your jars are finished, fill them with homemade edible snacks your friends and family can munch on. I made and filled the mason jars with some white chocolate holiday popcorn. Check out the recipe for White Chocolate Holiday Popcorn here. You could also make spiced nuts, small shortbread cookies, or any small treat to fill your jars.

These homemade holiday gifts are the perfect present to give because they can enjoy the edible treat inside, then have an adorable jar to keep and reuse for months to come. Get creative this holiday season and give a thoughtful gift anyone would love.

Styling Your Thanksgiving Table

With all the planning and time it takes to execute the perfect Thanksgiving meal, it makes sense that the table setting could get pushed to the back burner. However, creating a festive and beautiful table is easier than you think. Here are some tips and tricks to create a beautiful table setting this Thanksgiving that is quick, easy and effortlessly stunning.

Mix and Match Texture and Design
When setting your table, mix and match the texture and design of your plates and bowls for a unique and personal touch. Try combining plates with different patterns but make sure to keep them in the same color profile. You want the table to look organic but not messy. For my table setting, I kept it simple with white plates but I added a salad plate with a dot design on the boarder to add depth and texture. This is an easy way to add personal details to your Thanksgiving dinner with items you already have.

Create Your Own Name Cards
Go the extra mile and create your own name cards for each guest. Making your own name cards doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Use what you already have laying around your house. For example, I used white card stock, a permanent marker and some fresh thyme to create festive name cards. The cards are simple to make, plus I only used items I already had in my apartment. Get creative and make your own personal touches on your Thanksgiving table.

Add a Touch of Sparkle
A little sparkle and glitter is always appropriate during the holidays. So why not add some to your Thanksgiving table setting? I used a sparkly bread plate to add a touch of glamour. It was a great balance with the black wood table and brown paper napkins. Don’t be afraid to add a sparkly touch this Thanksgiving to make your table look effortlessly chic.

If you need some additional tips for a perfectly moist Thanksgiving bird, check out the CC&BT recipe for a Turkey Brine here. Happy Thanksgiving from Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs!

Tips for a Tidy Kitchen

A tidy kitchen means an organized kitchen, but achieving organization can seem daunting. Knowing some easy tips and tricks to organize and de-clutter will help your kitchen go from messy to orderly.

Store Items by Use
– Kitchen items that are used most frequently should be stored in a place you can easily reach. Some of the items that you only use for special occasions should be stored higher and further away.

Label Your Dried Spices
– Organizing your dried spices in similar containers with similar labels will make finding different spices quicker and easier. Try arranging them alphabetically for additional organization.

Group Similar Objects Together
– Grouping similar kitchen items together will make your kitchen more organized. For example, pots and pans should go on one shelf, and baking dishes and sheet pans on another. This will make finding items much easier as well.

Exchange Plastic for Glass
– With the growing concern for chemicals in plastic products, consider switching out plastic for glass! Storing food in glass containers will ensure safety from harmful chemicals, plus it’s still great for the environment because you can continually recycle these items.

Clear the Clutter
– Keeping your kitchen organized means clearing the extra clutter. A kitchen with unused equipment and tools is never good for overall organization. This tip applies for drawers and cabinets, as well as the counter.


* If you haven’t already, follow Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs on Instagram at @coffeecabsandbartabs, thank you for reading!

Cookbooks and Food Memoirs

Cookbooks and Food Memoirs
Now more than ever, cookbooks and food memoirs are becoming incredibly popular. Chefs, home cooks, and foodies alike are all diving into pages of reading material that touch every taste bud. If you’re looking for a tasty recipe to wow your family, or if you’re looking for a memoir to make your mouth water, check out any of these delicious reads.


1) The Flavor Bible By Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page 
One of my favorite cookbooks of all time is The Flavor Bible by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page. The substantial yet stunning book lists all of the best flavor combinations ever discovered, plus some that you’ve probably never encountered before. It’s a great book to expand your culinary knowledge and give you some ideas for your next cooking experiment.

2) Prune By Gabrielle Hamilton
For comfort food done right, check out Gabrielle Hamilton’s cookbook Prune. This cookbook contains recipes from her restaurant in NYC, as well as some of her favorites she’s accumulated over the years. There’s even hand written notes from Gabrielle herself so you’ll never mess up a recipe again. It’s a great cookbook for foodies.

3) Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics By Ina Garten
The title explains itself; back to basics! Ina Garten compiled some of her favorite recipes that use basic yet classical cooking techniques, so the average Joe can become an experienced cook. For solid recipes that will teach you some skill along the way, definitely read Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics.

4) Smoke and Pickles By Edward Lee
There’s a special place in my heart for Chef Edward Lee because of his home in Kentucky, but I also respect him for his amazing food. Smoke and Pickle’s is a collection of southern, classic recipes with a Korean twist. Innovation and creativity is definitely not lacking in this cookbook.


1) Sous Chef By Michael Gibney
Ever wonder what it’s like to work in a professional kitchen? Better yet, are you curious how the leadership works in a kitchen, and who is the person running the show? Read Sous Chef by Michael Gibney to learn all about the sous chef, and to get an inside look into the life of their day-to-day tasks.

2) Under the Table By Katherine Darling
I first read Under the Table when I decide to attend The International Culinary Center (formerly known as The French Culinary Institute). Katherine Darling attended the school as well, and wrote this memoir as a diary of her experiences learning to cook. It’s a fun read if you’ve been or are planning to attend culinary school.

3) Blood, Bones and Butter By Gabrielle Hamilton
If you love the cookbook and restaurant Prune, then you’ll love Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones and Butter. This memoir is all about her life growing up on a farm, then moving to New York, and finally how she opened Prune. It’s an emotional memoir that will make you appreciate Gabrielle even more.

4) The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry By Kathleen Flinn
I also read this memoir prior to entering culinary school because it’s about a young girl’s journey in Paris to study at Le Cordon Blue. While the book does a little bit more personal story telling than Under the Table, it’s still stuffed full of cooking stories and mouthwatering food.

Top Shops for the NYC Chef

Like any trade, a chef will need a particular set of tools to succeed at their job. As well, there are so many brands, styles and varieties that every cook has their favorites. Below is a list of my favorite NYC stores that have anything and everything a chef may need. Happy shopping!

Korin  – For the Knife Connoisseur
57 Warren St, New York, NY 10007

If you’re looking for a new knife, and in the market for a quality, Japanese blade, look no further than Korin. This quaint store in Tribeca is home to a wide range of brands and styles, including their own personal knife selection. I was recently gifted the Korin Special Inox 7 inch Chef’s Knife, and it’s an amazing knife. Korin also has a selection of tableware and kitchen equipment (astounding quality but more expensive than other stores on this list). Korin is the perfect store for the knife connoisseur, and one of my favorite stores for the NYC chef.

JB Prince – For the Cook Who Does it All
36 E 31st St, New York, NY 10016

JB Prince is a hidden gem, located on the 11th floor of an midtown building on East 31st Street. The store itself is not very large, but the space is filled with racks of chef’s tools, cookware, and appliances for the chef who does it all. I love to go to JB Prince for the essentials, like peelers and cake testers because their prices are reasonable and their selection is extensive. Definitely make a stop here if you want to shop “all things NYC chef”.

Bowery Kitchen Supplies – For a Wide Selection and No-Frills
Chelsea Market, 88 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Bowery Kitchen Supplies has been around for years, supplying New York chef’s with a wide range of equipment and tools. This store has lasted because of its “no-frills” atmosphere, and you can count on them to have what you need. Their knife selection is limited, but their extensive kitchen equipment surely makes up for it. Also, stop by when you’re hungry because inside is a tasty sandwich shop for the foodie and chef.

Chinatown – For a Great Deal
Broadway to Essex, and Worth to Houston

This may seem rather broad, but if you’re a chef looking for a great deal, just head to Chinatown! There are countless stores from Canal Street to Essex Street, stuffed to the brim with everything a cook could ever need. From slotted spoons and stock pots, to deep fryers and rice cookers, Chinatown has it all (and for a cheap price). I love to shop in this area of Manhattan for tools like mandolins and spoons for saucing. But it’s also thrilling just to get lost in the overly-stocked aisles. If you haven’t visited Chinatown yet, head over for your next cookware shopping excursion.

Tips for Studio Apartment Living

Finding an apartment in New York City can be one of the most challenging tasks a person will ever take on. And if you’re not extremely wealthy or shacking up with a Wall Street businessman, then you most likely will settle down in a small studio apartment.

While most studio apartments lack space and personality, I’ve learned a few tips that will make any studio apartment feel more like home.

1) Room Dividers
Dividing up a small room so there is a definite living and sleeping area is key when living in a studio apartment. For my apartment, I used hanging curtains around my bed to close off that area from my living room. Having dividers will actually make your apartment feel larger and also give the apartment more personal style.IMG_4608

2) Multiple Sleeping Options
A studio apartment is small, and it seems crazy that you could fit anything more than a bed and a couch. So what do you do when visitors come? A really smart idea is to invest in a sleeper-sofa (aka pull-out couch). I found one at IKEA that is on the smaller side, but is still large enough to sleep comfortably. Having this option is great for studio apartment living.IMG_4617IMG_4616

3) Organization
Organization is important in any living space but is even more crucial in a studio apartment. Organization helps save precious space, as well as keep your apartment clean and clutter free. I bought this great bathroom caddy from IKEA to organize my makeup and hair accessories. If you plan on living in a small studio apartment, definitely organize!IMG_4612


Home for the Holidays

Happy Holidays from Coffee, Cabs and Bar Tabs!

I hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving with family and friends! I was lucky enough to escape the city and head home for the holiday (to good ole Kentucky). There’s nothing like spending time with your loved ones, enjoying their company and great food. Below are some pictures from my Thanksgiving dinner. Cheer’s to December, and the final month of 2014!

My dad carving the turkey, a tradition in the Neal household!

Our brined and roasted turkey turned out delicious! A tip for extra crispy skin: rub a generous amount of butter (approximately a full stick) on top of the skin before roasting. The added fat will crisp up the skin to golden, crackling perfection.
IMG_4547My mom putting the finishing touches on our Thanksgiving table! Happy holidays from me to you!