pure food and wine

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Bad Vegan, Upcoming Netflix Documentary

Published March 11, 2022 by Maryanne
Bad Vegan documentary

This morning I turned on You Tube (which I watch while having my morning coffee, as I prefer my You Tube feed to the news) and found out there was a documentary made about the downfall of Sarma Melngailis, former owner of Pure Food & Wine. The four-part documentary will premiere on Netflix next week and tells the story of the beloved restaurant owner who became a fraud and fugitive.

I just want to say, that I am in full support of Sarma Melngailis. Yes, it was wrong that she embezzled from her staff and investors. However, I feel she was brainwashed and a victim of her then husband Anthony Strangis. You can decide for yourself when the documentary runs, or just Google the story. It’s all over the internet.

My heart goes out to Sarma, and to her staff. I am in great hopes that they can all have amazing comebacks and regain their losses. However, Anthony Strangis should rot in hell. And that’s all I’m saying on this.

But in happier times, Pure Food & Wine was the hottest raw food restaurant in NYC. Celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Demi Moore dined there. Middle class reporters also dined there–me!

From 2004 to around 2013 or so, I was eating a high raw (and sometimes all raw) diet. I ate at all the raw food restaurants in NYC on a regular basis – Caravan of Dreams, Quintessence, Bonobos… But Pure Food & Wine beat them all, hands down.

And, NO, it’s not about salads you can make at home. It was gourmet raw food at it’s finest! Food was dehydrated at 110 degrees to keep enzymes in tact. Raw chefs created splendid, savory delights to tantalize the palate. Pure Food & Wine had a $10,000 Japanese water filter that produced water that tasted like heaven. I’ve never had water that tasted so good in my life. There were also organic raw food alcoholic beverages. And the waitstaff treated you like royalty.

The tab came out to hundreds of dollars, even for just a couple, but it was well worth it. I went there so many times with my husband Dennis, and friends, that I lost count. It was the only raw restaurant I never went to solo because it was an experience to be shared. It was a small restaurant, with a lovely garden in the back end that you could enjoy when weather was appropriate. I’ve only eaten in the garden twice during the many times I was there.

One time, I saw Sarma herself there. I didn’t say “hello” because I’m a shy person. She was a stunning woman. I was close enough to see her “Lucky Duck” tattoo on her upper arm. She looked intense and intimidating, but she really was a sweetheart. There was the time I was assigned to write an article about the place. I went with my friend Andrew. Pure Food & Wine was always so magical, it was easy to get caught up in the moment. Andrew and I had finished our meal and then realized we hadn’t taken any photos of the food! I shamefully submitted my article with just a photo of Andrew and I at the restaurant. It was accepted, and the editor said, “Next time you review a restaurant, take photos of the food.”

Nevertheless, Sarma came across my article and thanked me personally in an email! I was ecstatic. That was class, and so unheard of in this day and age, especially from restaurant owners. (As a reporter, honestly, covering restaurants is the last thing I want to do. Restaurant owners are the hardest people to nail down for an interview. Celebrities and musicians are the easiest–and most professional).

I give Sarma a lot of credit for participating in this upcoming documentary. Stay strong, Sarma. I am rooting for you!

2006, Maryanne and husband Dennis at Pure Food & Wine
(Maryanne’s 43rd birthday)

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is the author of the following books:

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: https://eroticbooknetwork.com/product/love-cats/

Maryanne is also available for book editing and coaching. Rates are competitive.

And for positive messages, visit Be YOUnique, the Anti-Bullying You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLq6J9MSvcjd-haQ30ycLWA/videos

When It Comes to Food, Go Where the Love Is!

Published September 24, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8617Having fun — at a DINER! ❤

I recently became managing editor of an upcoming food magazine. It’s a great thing, because I love to eat. I flip flop between eating very healthy and going for good ol’ diner food. And there’s a reason why I am not militant about eating healthy all the time.

When I first came on board as managing editor, I was thrilled to see how many farm-to-table restaurants there are, but a little leery about the pretense that comes with it. I’ve been to so many restaurants, some are just too “foo foo” for my tastes that I’d never set foot in them again.

Of all the restaurants I’ve been to in my life, I have to say Pure Food & Wine on Irving in New York City is the ONLY restaurant that rates five stars with both food and service. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve been treated like a queen and the food was amazing. But then again, what do you expect from a place that has a $6000 Japanese water filter?! The water is like silk!  And no attitudes at all! That’s why Pure Food & Wine will always be my favorite. However, I don’t live in NYC, so I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. And since no other restaurant quite adds up to Pure Food & Wine, it’s often a toss up. What is most important? Good food? Good service? Healthy, natural food? Price?

Your guess is as good as mine. If I’m going out to eat, it just depends what area I’m in that day.

About half a year ago, I vowed never to go back to a certain gluten-free eatery because the service was the pits. Today I was in a health food store I was never in before. The cashiers and manager had such piss poor attitudes. These are the kind of women my husband and I call “Health Hags.” That means women who work in a health food store but are ugly inside and out, the opposite of a picture of health!

I gave this terrible store bad reviews all over the internet and even sent them an email that they could learn something from McDonalds. Check out this heart-warming story: http://nextshark.com/mcdonalds-worker/

I won’t even talk about the food I got in that health food store today because it’s irrelevant. When you get bad service, you can’t even properly enjoy your food. Of course you’re upset so you eat without truly tasting. This is why I say, it’s sometimes better to eat cheaper, crappier food — IF you are in a more relaxed environment.

The other day when I was on the cable show in Long Island, my friend and I hit a diner on the way back. We had Greek salads and sweet potato fries. Of course the salad was non-organic. And the fries were probably sugar-coated. But because the service was so fantastic, we ate in peace and really enjoyed our meal, which was stretched out to two hours! This is most likely why they say countries like France and Italy have less of an obesity rate than the United States — because they eat slow and enjoy. When you’re not stressed, you digest better. This is why I say, you can eat all the kale you want, but if you’re not happy, it ain’t gonna do you any good! (DO YOU HEAR THAT HEALTH HAGS?!)

So, next time you’re thinking about going on the road, please, do not stress over cooking in your hotel room or even seeking out the nearest health food store. Just go to a freakin’ diner and ENJOY! You’ll probably get a sexy cougar type waitress, chewing gum and calling you “Hunny Bunny.” Can’t beat that and you certainly won’t get that kind of cool in a farm-to-table restaurant or health food store!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a health advocate and a public speaker. She presents various health topics, including healthy food samples. For bio, rates, and availability, email her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Hershey and Carlisle, Pennsylvania Weekend Trip

Published June 24, 2012 by Maryanne

Me, at a 1970s computer

Car show, Hershey, Pa

Recreation of 1960s drive-ins, in car museum

1962 Manza GT Concept, 1963 – sibling of the Corvette


This weekend, my husband and I took a long weekend to Hershey, Pennsylvania to see the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, which took you on a trip through time from the late 1800s with the carriages to mass production in the 1920s giving everyone a chance to own a car up to the 1970s where you could see a variety of antique cars and motorcycles.

The pictures here speak for themselves, but you can also Google the official website to see more, including videos.

I highly recommend going here for a visit. We spent over two hours in the museum, as well as the car show that was outside. Some of the trailers had other cool stuff like the 1970s computer I’m picture at in the photo above, and a ton of memorabilia from yesteryear.

Hershey, Pa.

Going to Hershey for the first time was very cool. In the heart of the town all the streets are painted chocolate brown. You can even smell the chocolate as you pass the factory! Streets had cutesy names like “Cocoa Avenue.” Street lamps were Hershey’s kisses, some wrapped in the silver foil, others unwrapped showcasing the milk chocolate in all its glory. It was simply adorable!

Health Food

I was also happy to re-visit a restaurant we went to a few years ago called The Green Room in Carlisle. It’s a healthy restaurant with raw and vegan choices and also has organic meats. I had a cold beet soup, pickled watermelon and carrot/ginger juice. For dessert, we shared an amazing mango/coconut/chia pudding! YUM! I honestly have to say I liked this food as much as I like Pure Food & Wine in NYC. When my birthday comes this year, I may want to go back to The Green Room to celebrate.

Carlisle has an amazing health food store called Appalachian Whole Foods. They have organic produce, as well as raw milk! But I waited until Sunday and got raw goat’s milk at The Healthy Grocer in Camp Hill, Pa. The Healthy Grocer was huge and similar to my favorite health food store in New Jersey — Dean’s. The Healthy Grocer had some homemade delights that I really enjoyed such as pickled organic hard boiled eggs and organic beet and apple salad. And we brought home some chocolate zucchini cookies — which are already GONE!

Other oddities

One of the amusing things we saw on this trip is a “Dog Wash.” It was in the back of a gas station. People who take their dogs on trips can take their dogs to wash them. It’s coin operated with a sink for dogs to sit in. What a clever idea! I’ve never seen them before.

Another odd thing was NICE PEOPLE! We couldn’t figure out if people were nice because they were on vacation, or just nice because they aren’t living in New Jersey or NYC. Everyone was smiling and cordial, holding doors open for you, saying “hello,” etc.

People talked to us in the hotel lobby, in the pool, at the car museum. Everywhere we went, people smiled at us and said a few words.

We went an entire LONG weekend without any bullshit from anyone. And that is so rare when you live in New Jersey or NYC.

When we left the hotel early this afternoon, my husband walked into the check out area, while I waited in the car. I saw a man pass him, say “hello” and held the door open for him. Then the same man saw me in the car and waved to me. I thought to myself, Wow, where does this super nice man come from?

I watched him get into his car and I looked at the license plate.

It said, “New York.”

It’s amazing, a change of scenery does wonders for everyone!

The “Gentle” Food Snob

Published March 4, 2012 by Maryanne

The first time I was called a “food snob” I took it as a compliment. At one time, about six years ago, I was known as a “raw foodist” — a person who eats nothing but fresh food (unprocessed, unfiltered, unpasteurized, uncooked). Unless I ate a mango out of season, anything that touched my mouth was absolutely delicious because I brought nothing but fresh and prepared it myself (the dish pictured above is one of my raw delights, mashed bananas and sliced kiwi with raw cacao nibs — all organic).

At one time, there were only four restaurants I would eat in and they were all in NYC: Quintessence, Bonobo’s, Caravan of Dreams and Pure Food and Wine. Had I dined anywhere else, I would be eating prison rations because the menu choices were so limited.

Over the years, I let down my guard. I am still a food snob, my first preference being home cooked meals from scratch (by me, my husband or any friend/family member — in that order); second, the NYC raw restaurants; and third any vegetarian restaurant or a health food store that offers seating and fresh meals. BUT, although still a food snob, I am now a more gentle one. I will go out to eat at any restaurant — including diners (surprise, surprise) and enjoy the meal. I swear!

Diehard raw foodists, health enthusiastics, or foodies who would simply refuse to step foot into a diner may not get this, but hear me out …

During my raw food years, I’ve had several bad reactions to non-raw or non-organic food I consumed when dining out. These bad reactions consisted of mainly rashes, but also bloating and stomach aches. I’ve had similar reactions during parties when someone claimed something was all natural and it wasn’t, therefore I ended up running to the nearest health food store for probiotics. Eventually I started bringing my own food everywhere, including restaurants.

I was beginning to feel like a freak. I had to stop and ask myself, “Do I really want to be THIS pure?”

Vegans and vegetarians I met online would always give me holier than thou attitude saying that I needed to meet more vegan friends, which to me sounded cult-like and scary. Thank you very much, but I like the friends I already have — non-judgmental.

Little by little I started weaning myself back on cooked foods. And admittedly not always healthy foods either. After three years of not consuming pasta, bread and sugar, I let myself have a treat slowly and surely until I was able to eat restaurant food or non-raw food without an adverse reaction.

Now I can eat ANYWHERE without fear.

Do I still believe in raw and health foods? Yes, but I also believe that isolation isn’t healthy. If you live on a farm or in California where there is a great abundance of natural, health food — then God bless you. But most of us don’t. And most of us don’t have friends and family that eat as healthy as we’d like them to, but you know what? It’s OKAY!

I believe that good food is essential to good health. But it’s more than food. It’s love and friendship. It’s exercise. It’s listening to music. It’s having pets. It’s having a career and/or hobby you absolutely love. It’s having dreams and following your heart’s desire. This is probably why people, like say, Steven Tyler, have been through the mill with drugs and adversity and still look amazing in their 60s. It’s all a state of mind!

Food is something you can’t escape, so why not enjoy it to the fullest, under all circumstances. Meals should be enjoyed, not feared. Six years ago I was so obsessed with health, I was underweight and nervous all the time. Now, I could afford to lose five pounds, but I am content and enjoy life more because I can go anywhere and not be afraid if there will be something I can or can’t eat. Nor do I obsess over what is in everything. I do my best at home and when I’m dining out, I just hope for the best.

So, these days, 60 percent of the time I am preparing food for myself (raw or organic), 30 percent of the time I enjoy a healthy meal not prepared by myself, whether it’s an Amy’s Organic TV dinner or a meal at Veggie Heaven and the other 10 percent of the time I’ll go to a diner or treat myself to french fries or cold sesame noodles. To me, this is a wonderful balance — truly having my cake and eating it too.

And when I go out to a restaurant or to someone’s home and the meal isn’t up to par, I will not complain, but rather make up for it with my next meal. So even though I’m still a food snob, no one notices. Not that there is anything wrong with being a foodie or a food snob, it just means you embrace a good meal. But when someone wants to spend time with you and he/she chooses a restaurant, I think it’s in bad taste, not to mention bad for the digestive system, to snub a meal by merely saying, “It’s alright” and making a face.

If you must express your displeasure (and I admit, I am guilty of this myself), at least say it with some positive force behind it … like, you could say, “It’s not that great, but wow, what a fantastic conversation we had! I always love hanging out with you!”or “Food sucks, but what a good waiter!” or “Limp lettuce, but the atmosphere is stellar!”

Now THAT is a gentle food snob and something to truly be proud of! Changing my healthy ways was probably the healthiest thing I ever did for my psyche!