Harlem Nights with Chef JJ


Chef Joe “JJ” Johnson, best known as the first winner of Rocco’s Dinner Party hosted “An Evening of Exquisite Food & Wine” at Nectar Wine Bar (2235 Frederick Douglas Boulevard, NY, NY 10027), presented by Savor Public Relations last Saturday evening. The evening consisted of a 5-course meal paired with selected wines from the Joseph Carr Winery.

Once I first arrived on the scene at Nectar Wine Bar, I heard the good tunes of soulful music and chatter of great conversation which was very inviting. As I stepped in the dim-light room, I felt a flow of great energy starting with just the decor, from the vibrant light long sleek bar to the cocktail tables dressed in orange linen, complimented with tea lights and fall floral arrangements. The room was mixed with young professionals of all races, all engaging in conversation with a glass of wine in their hand.

Nectar Co-owner, Jai Jai Greenfield & Chef JJ collectively selected the J. Carr wines to pair with his 5-course meal. As each course came out, Chef JJ came out to explain the delicious components of the dish, followed by Jai Jai who described how the flavors paired together. Review the menu below;


 First Course:

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Orange, Cranberry, Brittled Peanuts

Second Course:

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Pear, Ginger, Cherry Coconut

Third Course:

Duck Confit

Apple Pico de Gallo, Spiced Yogurt

Fourth Course:

Grass-Fed Beef Carpaccio

Wild Mushroom, Shishto, Lemon Oil

Fifth Course:

Chocolate Threesome

White Chocolate Hazelnut Sponge, Chocolate Kahlua Gelato, Key Lime Pie Part


Collectively throughout the evening, I chatted with several others to ask about their thoughts and opinions of Chef JJ’s creations. I received remarks such as.

“I usually don’t eat brussel sprouts because of the bitter flavor and sulfur smells, but JJ nailed it.”

“I want the recipe to the Butternut Squash Ravioli”

“I enjoyed the beef carpaccio, but I think it needed more cracked pepper”

All and all, once Chef JJ presented his last course, Chocolate Threesome, he caught the attention of many with their eyes widened and eyebrows raised. We all anxiously awaited to sample this decadent sinful dessert. I thought the creamy, milk chocolate gelato added a great textural contrast to the toasted hazelnuts inside the sponge cake. The key lime’s tangy flavor and fragrant note was a great fit between the white chocolate and milk chocolate, which seemed appropriate for its name.

Once the evening of food and wine pairing came to an end, it was turned over to vh1’s celebrity DJ, Amanda Diva who kept the vibe of the night going. She was spinning tunes of Frankie Beverly, Tina Marie, Donnell Jones, and John Legend to name a few. She was very approachable and seemed to absolutely love mixing!

This was my first time in the Harlem Heights area, I would definitely come back to visit the Nectar Wine Bar for drinks with friends and recommend you do too!

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Photography Credits: Jessica Oshita / Isaiah Kelsey

For more information, check out my friends on Twitter!

#FF [Foodie Follows]-

Chef JJ (@chefjoejohnson), Savor PR (@VonniesView), Amanda Diva (@amandaseales), Nectar NYC (@nectarnyc)

Thanks For Reading!

– Isaiah (@urban_foodie14)


The World Of Chocolate


The Chocolate World Expo, hosted by Marvin Baum took place at the Meadowlands Expo Center this past Sunday, March 5th.  I believe this event was targeted for chocoholics as well as families with small children. The expo had more than 30 vendors such as Whole Foods Market, Dove Chocolate, and Edible Arrangements to name a few.

As I walked into the expo, I smelled divine aromas of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and seen tables of chocolate fountains where you could dip almost anything under. As I approached the fountain, I picked up a soft marshmallow to dip into the creamy, rich milk chocolate fountain. It left my marshmallow dripping and then together it was a gooey yet satisfying treat to start.

I then visited the Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. stand, where they offered specialty-flavored organic peanut butters. I first tried The Blizzard that was blended with white chocolate. The smooth, subtle flavors of white chocolate mellowed out the strong, toasty flavors of peanuts. I went “bananas” for Monkey Boy, which had raisins and banana essence blended in. I would recommend this as a healthy lunch bag snack paired with pretzels or Granny Smith apples.

As I continued the smell of freshly, baked Belgian waffles pulled my attention to Screme Gelato Bar. They were offering different chocolate gelato samples with the waffles a la mode. The Chocolate Whiskey Brownie [made with Johnnie Walker Black] was cool and creamy but a left warm sensation on my palate. The Chocolate Chili had a smooth delivery but also left a spicy, lingering finish.

Whole Foods Market did a cupcake decorating demo that excited many of the children watching. They also gave out small moist pieces of cake to satisfy their hunger.

I was very surprised to see vendors like Pickle Licisous and Gogo’s Garlic Dip (aka Samios Foods) at an event like this. Although I am fans of both and they individually tasted great, it just didn’t pair well with chocolate or with my stomach.

Towards the end of the chocolate expo, I saw Hell’s Kitchen Contestant, Robert Hesse at his own booth, who was booked as “entertainment”. As I approached the booth, I thought about asking him maybe two questions but instead without giving me any eye-contact or greeting, he began to give me his autograph and asked for my name very arrogantly. I refused his autograph, dropped it and continued on. He was very arrogant as he if he may have WON the show. It goes to show that his bad attitude was certainly bad for business. I guess Gordon Ramsey does have a good judge of character after all.

I decided to not let that bad episode ruin the whole show. The last vendor offered me a sample of Adult Chocolate Milk, which was very rich in flavor with a 40-Proof kick at the bottom of the glass. It provided a past childhood memory with a present “grown-up” reality.

Overall, this Chocolate World Expo can be described as tasting dark chocolate. The beginning was mildly sweet [Chocolate Fountains], rich in flavor [Screme Gelato Bar], and sometimes leaves a bitter lingering finish [HK Robert Hesse].

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