Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Headed to Seattle . . . Where Should I Eat?

Seattle's Crumpet Shop
Friends, I'm off to Seattle this week and so excited to stuff myself silly on the left coast. I already have plans to hit Skillet and Hot Cakes. And I'm hoping to squeeze in a visit to The Crumpet Shop because, um, crumpets are awesome and delicious and I haven't had them fresh baked anywhere else ever. But...I'm always open to suggestion. So...where else should I go?

Last time I visited Seattle was in the fall of 2008. I hit Pike Place Market, Cupcake Royale, and Trophy Cupcakes. This trip I'll be visiting for a few days but will be working for a good chunk of that time, so I want to make those meals, snacks, treats, and COFFEEEEEEEEE count. If you're a reader, you know I love doughnuts, pie, hot and cold caffeinated beverages, and basically anything that's delicious. Tell me where to go and perhaps most importantly, tell me what to sock away in my suitcase for the trip home.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Day at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury!

At the ChocoBanana
I told you I'd be back on Monday!! So the second day with the Ben & Jerry's crew in Vermont involved a quick visit to St. Albans Cooperative Creamery to discuss their continued efforts to buy milk and cream from local Vermont farmers only as a part of their Caring Dairy program. Afterwards, we headed to Waterbury and the factory!

The current flavors
Tours at the Waterbury factory are totally free and open to the public, so this is part of my trip that you can do yourself. The place is all about ice cream, right down to a collection of antique scoops. When your tour is finished, you allowed to try a few scoops of the day's experimental flavor (that's the ice cream up at the top,) ours was "At the ChocoBanana" banana-cinnamon ice cream with brown sugar caramel swirls and milk chocolate chunks. If anyone wants to recreate this in my life, I will gladly help with taste testing.

The Cores!!
Following a quick snowshoeing adventure (my first!), our group finally got to taste the new Cores flavors. If you haven't heard of these, each flavor has one or two different flavor ice creams with a soft "core" so you can add as little or as much as you want to your scoop. Part of the thought process behind the Cores was that the B&J team knows their fans really like eating straight out of the pint, so why not include a little topping?

Testing Cores
These are cut open regularly as well to see how the cores are coming through. They had to look towards sausage-making tools to find a way to bring this dream to life. Of course, cutting open of pints meant tasting because we couldn't just let ice cream go to waste.

Aftermath of Cores Tasting
I had thought the Peanut Butter Fudge (chocolate & peanut butter ice creams with mini peanut butter cups and a peanut butter fudge core) or the Hazed & Confused (chocolate & hazelnut ice creams with fudge chips and a hazelnut fudge core) would be my favorites since they both have things I love. But That's My Jam (chocolate & raspberry ice creams with fudge chops and a raspberry core) actually came out on top for me! The raspberry isn't too sweet or overwhelming and paired well with the chocolate. Of course, my bodega keeps selling out of Cores, so I haven't been able to have my own pint!

Flavor Graveyard
Our way out included a quick stop to pay our respects at the Flavor Graveyard. I still think they should do a zombie promotion where old flavors come to life for a limited time, mainly because I want to try Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Wild Maine Blueberry.

Ben AND Jerry!!
And the whole trip ended with a quick talk with the men themselves, Ben & Jerry! They chatted about the company and what they're up to now, before leaving us to enjoy dinner.

If you are looking to taking this trip or simply visiting the Burlington area, I highly recommend staying at Hotel Vermont (the communal tea & coffee areas were so great *and* fancy bathrooms!) and eating at The Kitchen Table, Hen of the Wood, Penny Cluse, and The Farmhouse Tap & Grill. All are serving some great food and drinks, but are not pretentious about it.

Lastly, a big THANK YOU to the entire Ben & Jerry's team for everything. They do this trip for a select  few food bloggers and writers and they really know how to host a big group. They are awesome! Now, go get your free cone tomorrow!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Free Cone Day is Coming!!!

A little over a month ago, I received one of the best emails of my life: would I like to go to Burlington, Vermont for three days to hang with the Ben & Jerry's crew? "UH, YEA!" was my exact response. Our love of Ben & Jerry's (and ice cream in general) is well documented and going to the Waterbury factory was on my bucket list anyway, so why not?! Here's what went on during the trip and information about Free Cone Day!!

The office slide!
The group of us spent the first day at the corporate office and yes, there were "slide breaks." After I don't know how many years of not going down slides, I forgot how scary twirly enclosed slides are, but also how much fun. I went three times.

Cutting open Milk & Cookeis
We also found out that they really do pick up pints from random locations and check to see how the chunks are being distributed IRL. Then the pints are left out for eating and I am never turning down my third favorite flavor.

The office freezer!
And yes, there is a freezer full of pints for the taking because three pints a day is not a joke benefit. It's very, very real.

But the BEST part was breaking up into teams and making our own flavors. My team, "Team New York," made one using coffee liqueur, chocolate chunks, chocolate covered almonds and a fudge swirl.

Then came deliberations and oh my goodness, it was so nerve wracking. They took a long time, people were summoned in, what was going on?!?!?! The problem was TWO of the flavors were so good, there was a tie and yes, friends, ours was one of them!! To win meant a scoop party!! I finally get the ice cream party I always dreamed of as a kid! Somewhere up above, my dad is so proud of me and our shared love of ice cream!

And holy baloney, this post is getting long and I'm still on day one, so day two is coming on Monday (I super extra bonus promise and yes, it involves the new Cores flavors) but what you want to know is WHEN IS CONE DAY?!?! It's TUESDAY!! Yes, this Tuesday, April 8th, almost every Ben & Jerry's will be giving out free ice cream and this year the goal is 1 MILLION cones in the US alone. People, I know we can fall on this sword to make Ben & Jerry--my best friends in my mind--happy. We can do this!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Erin Go Bragh & All That

St. Patrick's Day Doughnut
If you've been following my Instagram, you know it's a delicious month in my world. First, a trip to Burlington, Vermont to visit Ben & Jerry's--yes, I will post about it--and now I'm in New Orleans doing New Orleanian things. But before I left, I did get to celebrate a little bit of St. Patrick's Day!

Well, I should be celebrating it plenty today, but it probably won't involve green frosted doughnuts. A friend & I stopped by Peter Pan late Saturday afternoon and I just couldn't not get one, even though I had had more than my fill of ice cream and knew that beignets were in my future. It's just SO PRETTY! Knowing Peter Pan, these beauties will be around all day, so go celebrate!

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
(718) 389-3676

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day!

Pies Are Round No, Pies Are Squared
Happy Pi Day friends! Today is the one day the math nerds and food nerds can agree upon. Today is a day for pie and I plan on eating as much pie as possible starting at breakfast...

Pie for breakfast?! Yes, pie for breakfast. And where better to get pie for breakfast than Four & Twenty Blackbirds at either their 3rd avenue shop or their BRAND new cafe inside the Brooklyn Public Library main branch. Pie and books, what a delicious combo.

Another great spot to hit for pie for breakfast? Robicelli's where from 8am 'til 7pm (or until they sell out), they'll be celebrating Pi Day by selling slices of pie for only $3.14! They will have apple crumb, chocolate cream, sweet potato with honey whiskey butterscotch, Creamsicle, blueberry panna cotta, and chocolate crunchie. Check out their tumblr for more info and to stay up to date on their offerings. Go forth and eat pie!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shake Shack's New(ish) Fries are AWESOME

Shake Shack new fries
So Shake Shack has been rolling out their new hand cut fries. The fries made their debut at the Upper East Side location this summer, but...I'm never in that neighborhood. Since then they've slowly been rolling out the new fries to more Shacks across the city, but my most visited Shack (aka the Brooklyn branch) has been kicking it old school with the crinkle cut fries. It took a recent trip to the Natural History Museum (and requisite post-museum Shake Shack outing) to get a taste of the new fries. And. They. Are. Awesome...

Crispy with just the right amount of salt. These are fries that you won't get bored of eating. I'm not going to lie. I wasn't one of those people that would turn up my nose at the crinkle cut fries, but these are much better. More potato-ey, if that's a thing. I'm convinced that they had to adjust the cheese fries sauce slightly to thin it out so it would adhere to the skinnier fries better without significant fry foldage from the weight of the sauce. On first glance it looked like they skimped on the cheese. But NO! The cheese was all there, it has just pooled in the bottom beneath the fry stack cracks.

Here are the locations where you can get "Shack Fresh Fries" as they are called. Naturally they have their own hashtag (#ShackFreshFries):
- Upper East Side, NYC 
- Upper West Side, NYC 
- Grand Central Terminal, NYC 
- University City, PA 
- King of Prussia, PA 
- Paramus, NJ 
- Harvard Square, MA 
- Battery Park City, NYC

Also, a friendly heads up to the Shake Shack custard gurus...I saw that "Big Easy Banana Chip" is the featured Tuesday flavor for the month of February. Alas, Mardi Gras is super late this year. It's not until Tuesday, March 4th. Hopefully Bananas Foster is in the rotation next month!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get Your Love Something To Eat!

Peter Pan Valentines
Yes, Valentine's Day is on the other side of this work week. Don't worry if you still haven't gotten anything, I've got a list of delicious things to go with your, well, this. I'm basically doing all the work for you because I don't like it when my friends hand out uninspired gifts.

I just threw up a little in my mouth reading those sayings. Anyways. First up, you can go to Peter Pan, buy some pink frosted doughnuts and binge your mutual ways through an evening "House of Cards" marathon. (Let's not mention that this is totally my plan for Friday.) Those not in Brooklyn and/or in need of chocolate gifts can head down to Essex Street Market or Forsyth Street for something from Roni-Sue's Chocolates. If you're not a true fan of their Valentine's picks, the ladies there can help you whip something together. Have someone who loves those sweet confections known as macarons? Well, then head to Macaron Parlour. These vibrant hearts showed up in my Instagram last night and even I got sentimental and lovey-dovey.

Milkmade Ice Cream
Not here and need something for your honey in the city? You can start by getting an ice cream gram from MilkMade! Two pints of ice cream--Salted Caramel & Red Velvet Cake--hand-delivered on Friday with a handwritten note (with your love saying, obviously). Also, perfect for that "House of Cards" binge. Want to get a whole personalized medley of things complete with savory items and bouquets because we all know you can turn this holiday into a weekend at home doin' thangs? Then order some groceries through Good Eggs. For those needing your favorite New York things somewhere else in the country, then Farm to People is your answer.

Now no one has a reason to not buy your love, or me, something scrumptious.

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
(718) 389-3676

Roni-Sue's Chocolates
in Essex Street Market at 120 Essex Street
(212) 260-0421
148 Forsyth Street (between Delancey & Rivington)
(212) 677-1216

Macaron Parlour
111 St. Marks Place
(212) 387-9169

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Fun!

City Bakery hot chocolate and pretzel croissant
So...it's been a little snowy, huh? And maybe you're feeling kind of cooped up. Well, thankfully February offers an opportunity to celebrate two of my favorite food groups: hot chocolate and pancakes... First up, it's the annual Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery. Check out the calendar here. Caramel hot chocolate! Bourbon hot chocolate! Darkest dark hot chocolate! Grab a pretzel croissant while you're there!

Don't miss out on Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company

Clinton St Pancakes
Here's the pancake line up:

3rd & 4th: Raspberry Pancakes: our signature raspberry jam, fresh raspberries, toasted almond butter, vanilla bean whipped cream
5th: Coconut & Key Lime Pancakes with warm maple butter
6th & 7th: Blueberry Crumb Streusel with fresh blueberry sauce, vanilla bean whipped cream and warm maple butter
10th & 11th German Chocolate Pancakes: roasted organic pecans, caramel, fresh coconut, bittersweet chocolate sauce
12th & 13th: Japanese Pumpkin pancakes with pumpkin seed streusel and warm maple butter
14th (V-Day): Chocolate Chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce
17th & 18th: Fresh Coconut Pancakes with caramelized pineapple, bruleed bananas, roasted macadamia nuts, and warm maple butter
19th, 20th & 21st: Crunchy Bananas with cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce
24th & 25th: Swedish Apple Pancakes with caramelized apples, cinnamon cider glaze, and Bavarian cream
26th & 27th: Chocolate Chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce
28th: Fresh Blackberries with meyer lemon curd and blackberry syrup

FYI, for newbies, The special pancakes are ONLY served Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm and 6pm to 11pm. And if you're not a fan of the particular pancake of the day, they do have their famous wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut or chocolate chunk, with warm maple butter pancakes on their everyday menu.

They only take dinner reservations for parties of six or more and if you're going with that big a group you'd definitely want a reservation to avoid a long wait for a table.

I'll admit I'm a little sad that my favorite pancakes the candied orange peel, bittersweet chocolate pistols, and blood orange syrup didn't make the cut this year. But perhaps that will inspire me to concoct some at home. Right now I have my eye on the Swedish Apple Pancakes, how about you?

Clinton Street Baking Co.
4 Clinton St (between East Houston & Stanton)
(646) 602-6263

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And Now A Visit to Whole Foods Brooklyn

Whole Foods Brooklyn
Holy baloney, it's almost February! I don't know what happened to my January--it's a blur of working, looking for work, reading A Dance of Dragons, being sick three different times, cooking healthy food in my kitchen and finally visiting Whole Foods. Everybody and their mother has discussed the new Whole Foods, so I'll just give you highlights from my little adventure through the aisles.

Best Banana Display
First off, is this not the best banana display?! Is this going on elsewhere in the country/world? [insert low hanging fruit joke here]

THIS got me jazzed. My new healthy kick has required the use of spices, but-oh, hey, most of my spices were full of bugs. Yes, gross, I know. Seeing smaller quantities of spices, for a lower price than at other groceries, was totally up my alley.

The hell?
I really don't know what you kids are doing these days.

Bath Salts
Related required shot of the bath salts collection. Complete with mason jars. How precious.

Biscoff Cookies!

All sorts of chip things are available. I didn't buy any, but if there's one we should be checking out, give us a holler.

The overwhelming cafeteria
And then you enter into the overwhelming cafeteria-esque area. There's soup! There's cookies! There's bread! Look over here! Look over there! Decisions! Or, if you're me, a minor anxiety attack and quickly running away.

Dough Doughnuts
There's also Dough doughnuts that look like they've seen better days.

Butter & Scotch Cupcakes
And cupcakes that I can get at Smorgasburg.

Just Madness!
Yes, it is madness that people buy frozen pizza when they live in New York City. Sheer madness. I agree, Whole Foods. Speaking of…

Motorino Frozen Pizza
This is really why everyone's going, right? One guy didn't notice the lonely pizza, I did. Yes, I got the last frozen Motorino or Roberta's pizza in all of Brooklyn. I should get a medal.

Motorino Frozen Pizza
And I can say, without a doubt, that this is the best frozen pizza I've ever eaten in all my days. I'll let you be the judge of whether it's worth the $11. But good lawd, it is delicious (and got all nice and crispy when done in my cast iron.)

There are a few other pictures from my way through the Whole Foods over on our Flickr, including the ermahgawd Greyston Bakery cookie thins that I ate by the box, or you can go see my initial gut reactions on my Instagram.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fill Up on Pie & Midwestern Cheer this Weekend at Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Black Bottom Oat Pie
Hello, friends! I hope your year is off to a grand start. It's been more than a bit busy around these parts, but this weekend I'm looking forward to kicking back with some pie and Midwestern cheer at Four & Twenty Blackbirds "MID-WEST IS THE BEST" open house...

Here are the details, this Sunday, 1/26 from 4pm until 7pm, pie goddesses, Emily and Melissa Elsen will be signing their cookbook alongside, The New Midwestern Table author and the Food Network's Heartland Table host, Amy Thielen. As a special treat, Amy's making her Hot Beef Combo, a roast beef sandwich on homemade potato bread with a scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy on top with a side of fresh horseradish pesto. Pair that with a slice of their Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie (seen above!) and complimentary snits of Kelso Nut Brown Lager. Sounds like some good and hearty comfort food for this chilly weather we've been having!

Here's the menu:

Classic Hot Beef Combo with Horseradish Pesto $13.50

Complimentary snits* of Kelso Nut Brown Lager

Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie $5.25

HOT BEEF + PIE special: $17.50

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8am - 7pm
Saturday: 9am - 7pm
Sunday: 10am - 6pm

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Chocolate Chip Cookie plate
Wishing you a sweet New Year! May 2014 be filled with much sweetness and joy...

I haven't quite worked out all my resolutions yet. Eating more mindfully is something that I'm thinking about--more local food, more veggies, more home cooked meals, more new recipes. Most of all I'm looking forward to a year's worth of wonderful meals shared with family and friends. What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas!!!

Jim Lahey Bread
Are you looking at that picture and thinking "mmmm, warm bread," while you're also frantically scouring the internet for last minute gifts? Well, that could be your gift, in a way. I've been noticing a few gifts for those of us who abhor shopping and like giving experiences over things. Everyone has too many things.

That breaking of the bread happened with Mr. Sullivan St Bakery himself, Jim Lahey, wanted to show his class the insides of the bread we'd baked. I was fortunate to go to this test class because Jim needs to know his way around the International Culinary Center's (formerly FCI) kitchens and they needed volunteers. But beginning next year, Jim Lahey as the Master Bread Advisor will be overseeing the teaching of classes that us hoi polloi can go to! You, or your beloved baker friend, can learn about bagels, pasta, chocolate deserts (trust me, it's hard to get that smooth glaze), or, you know, beer brewing. You'll need someone on your team to make beer during the zombie apocalypse, right?!

Brooklyn Kitchen Class
If those classes are for someone you like a little bit more or they'll *never* want to trek to SoHo ever for a class, may I suggest Brooklyn Kitchen? As always, they have their class schedule for the busy Brooklyn location, but they do also have an outpost at the Gotham West Market on 11th Avenue. No more leaving work a few minutes early to get to Brooklyn (and no dealing with that L train!)

But what about those friends who don't live in the city? You could send them an online gift certificate to a seed exchange--some to get started with are Southeastern, Hudson Valley, and Seed Savers. What if they live further afield than the US? Well, do they love farm animals? I mean, errybody knows about Heifer now (thanks, Bill!), but they can also adopt a farm animal at the Farm Sanctuary! Caution: there are some adorable photos of piggies eating pumpkins, piggies in the snow, cows in the snow, chickens looking curious, and goats and sheeps!!!! If you have other great last minute gift ideas, leave it in the comments or tweet it at us @BlondieBrownie (now that I'm on winter break, I may be popping up on the tweeters more than usual!)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Have You Hit Up Robicellis with a Holiday Order?

Robicellis treats 
Guys, I hate to be the one to say this, but Christmas is in two weeks. Yeah, fourteen days. Ok, you can commence freak out now. If you're looking for some awesome treats to put out for Santa or to, you know, eat your feelings before Christmas rolls around, look no further than the Robicellis new shop in Bay Ridge. See that haul above. It didn't last the car ride home...

Clockwise from the top that's a chocolate chip cookie ($2), chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and sea salt ($3.25), Cinnamon Bun Cake ($2.50) and banana cake with a chocolate chip, caramel, bacon streusel ($3). Yes, we know, Robicellis makes great cupcakes (they wrote a book on it, too!), but for those of you who say "Cupcakes? Meh!" Let me tell you that Robicellis is so much more than their famous cupcakes. You are not allowed to "meh" at this ridiculous banana cake. It's not good. It's make you want to turn around in your car and get another slice good.

So about those holiday parties. I know you want to impress your relatives. Well, you could bring them cupcakes, but you could also bring them pies! Or Buche de Noels! They have four different types you can order including one that involves Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel and Bourbon N’Awlins Praline. And if you love your cake in slice form, they're also making some amazing sounding layer cakes. Keep tabs on the offerings via their their Tumblr. You can get a sneak peak at the menu here and here. Whatever you do, get those orders in so you don't get shut out!

9009 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Monday, December 9, 2013

Send Them Brownies!!

Greyston Bakery
Yesterday was National Brownie Day, did you partake in celebrating?! Between you, me and the internet, I didn't, but that's partly because I was baking gingerbread men and partly because I had gone through a whole box of brownies recently. By myself.

I had received a box from Greyston Bakery, but before you say "bribes!" hear me out. I knew of Greyston prior due to their contract with Ben & Jerry's (and we ALL know how much I love Ben, and Jerry, and their entire R&D team). As someone who wants to change "the system," specifically to address how the lower classes are not given the opportunities needed to change their situations, I've been a silent fan of them and hoped that one day, I'd get the opportunity to visit the bakery. I wouldn't dare buy a whole box of brownies for myself because that's just a terrible idea. So when they asked if I would like a box, I DID IT BECAUSE I'M WEAK! And holy goodness, the brownies were like fudge and moist and individually wrapped so you only eat one. At a time.

So, if you're like me and totally into the idea of sending everyone homemade holiday treats, only to rethink that idea at 9 o'clock at night when you're slightly tipsy from that day's holiday celebration, may I suggest sending your loved ones brownies & blondies from Greyston? You'll be giving money to a great bakery with a great mission and saving yourself from being covered in flour & crying.