Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers August Challenge: Eclairs!


Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would make my own eclairs. Choux pastry has always seemed a bit frightening. But I am frightened no more...

This month I was excited to see that the Daring Baker's Challenge was for Eclairs. Lawman adores eclairs and this would be a challenge he would definitely appreciate. Not that he hasn't appreciated the others...he scarfed down a couple slices of the gateau and he really enjoyed the strawberry buttercream frosting I made for the Opera Cake, but this one would be extra special.

Our hosts this month left the challenge very open, the only stipulations were that we use pâte à choux recipe given below and keep one chocolate element in the challenge (either the chocolate glaze or the chocolate pastry cream). You can feel free to mix and match flavors to the base recipe. Nice!

Such an open challenge did give me a lot to think about. So many delicious options! I decided to use the recipe as is...chocolate glaze and chocolate filling and to make it a little different by adding an additional filling...a ginger caramel sauce.

The recipe that we used was the Pierre Hermé Chocolate Éclair recipe from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. I'll refer you to our wonderful and gracious hosts Tony and MeetaK for the recipe.

Some notes...

The choux recipe has you slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar after the pastries have cooked for 7 minutes. Yeah...um, this kind of ruined all the dials on my stove. I don't know what the deal was, but the knobs were white and clean when I started the recipe and now the bottoms of the dials (the part closest to the oven held open with the spoon handle) are brown. Sniffle. I had to tell Lawman when he got home. His response was an oven should be able to make eclairs. I'm still a little sad when I see the knobs. I wonder if it would happen again if I got new knobs. We just bought our new place and I was so proud to have my very own kitchen. Sigh. Did this happen to anyone else? Anyone have suggestions how to avoid this from happening or insight into why it happened?

But I digress...back to the recipe...with the choux, the recipe called for piping the pastry dough so it was the with of "chubby fingers." Next time I make them, I'd make my fingers a bit chubbier. Perhaps the size of two fingers.

In terms of making the pastry cream...this was one of my favorite parts. It's involved and as with any of the DB challenges you need to be prepared, but there is something really satisfying about tempering the egg yolk mixture and seeing the pastry cream come together. I started making the recipe while my friend the Prof was over, but it was a bit involved so she didn't get to stay to see it through with me. That meant for the pastry cream I was on my own and I didn't quite prep everything as I should, so I found myself preparing an ice bath with one hand while whisking the egg mixture and bringing it up to temperature with another. I looked away from the egg mixture for just a moment and suddenly it was thick and clumpy. Oh dear! Was it ruined? No!! All was not lost! It was just pastry cream coming together as it should. I whisked away, added the chocolate and placed it in the ice bath. It really looked like pastry cream! And tasted like it, too! Yum.



For the gingered caramel sauce I first sauteed 1 1/2 tablespoons of crushed ginger with 1/2 a tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until the ginger is nicely browned and has absorbed all the butter and vanilla. Set the ginger aside. Then mix 1 1/2 cups sugar with 1/3 cup water in a medium saucepan and cooked over low heat until the sugar dissolved stirring occasionally. Once the sugar dissolved I increased the heat to medium and brought the mixture to a boil. Look for it to turn a medium caramel color and when it does, turn off the heat and slowly add 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL. The mixture is hot and if it splatter it will burn you very badly--I suggest standing back and wearing a protective oven mitt while you stir. It's good to keep your pastry cream ice bath around just in case you splatter on yourself. Once the cream and vanilla are incorporated, mix in your ginger. Simmer the mixture over a low heat, stirring continually until the sauce is smooth. Let the sauce cool to room temp before attempting to fill pastries.



The caramel sauce was a huge hit and I will definitely make it again. I ate some of the extra sauce on ice cream and oh my, it was freakin' delicious. I think it would make an awesome caramel apple

The eclairs were very tasty and well received by Lawman and his family. Even my seven year old niece enjoyed them (pretty impressive for a chocolate dessert made with very dark chocolate). I would definitely make this recipe again. Next time I think I'll try it with the caramel sauce and a vanilla pastry cream.

Thanks Tony and Meeta for a successful challenge! For more luscious and amazing eclairs be sure to check out the Daring Baking Blogroll.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

And Now for Some Saturday Morning Cartoons: Dance, Dance



Grover's got some moves. It's a holiday weekend, and for me that means time with friends, doing the things I love including dancing, an activity I try to partake in as much as possible (I am known to start dancing in the street if the mood so strikes me!) But I must say, I am nowhere as good as Grover, that dancing maniac. jump

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bone Suckin' Sauce Makes Darn Good Ribs



I love ribs, but I don't make them all that often at home because I live in a New York apartment without access to a grill. I can haz ribs, too?

Yes! I can haz ribs! And I can make them in my little kitchen. Yippeee!

I was introduced to the wonders of Bone Suckin' Sauce at the Fancy Food Show. Blondie and I were walking the store and the super friendly folks at the Bone Suckin' Sauce booth and their ample samples called out to us. The regular and hot sauce were delicious on it's own on a chip and the had it mixed up with onions and cream cheese for an easy and delicious party dip.

Now I love ribs, but I'm a Yankee gal. The only thing my parents grilled growing up were hot dogs, maybe a hamburger. I know not of the ways of ribs, and though I love to eat them and I've always figured I couldn't make them myself because I don't have a grill. Chatting with the Bone Suckin' folks, I learned that you can make excellent ribs in your oven if you follow their slow and low method. I was officially intrigued and prepared to seek out some Bone Suckin' sauce try my hand at

Now here's where the rib fairy comes in...

One the last day of the Fancy Food Show, Blondie and I were getting in our last tastes of everything. We stopped by the Bone Suckin' Booth to pick eat more dip and pick up some recipe cards. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect. Patrick Ford had just filmed a TV segment on how to cook ribs and they had trays of extra marinated ribs leftover that they were offering to any local New Yorker who could bring them home and cook them. Yes, I left the Javits Convention center with a ziploc filled five half racks of ribs and a couple extra jars of sauce in my purse. Sweet.

The ribs couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Lawman and I were just beginning to pack up are apartment and we had no food at home. Now how to make them. The jar advocates slow and low cooking that takes 3 1/2 hours. Lawman was on his way home and starving. He hadn't spent the whole day stuffing his face at the Fancy Food show like, um, me. What to do? What to do? Epicurious to the rescue! Now I'm not a grill master, but I make good use of my broiler. I found a broiled ribs recipe that I tweaked a bit. Since the ribs were already marinated, I followed Epicurious' Hoisin-Broiled Ribs Recipe in terms of the cooking steps and based with the extra Bone Suckin' Sauce where basting was called for. By the time Lawman got home the ribs were ready to eat. And boy were they delicious.


Rib, I Can't Wait to Eat You!


Ribs Ready for the Oven


Flipping the Ribs


It's Oven Time!


More Rib Flipping


Dinner Time!

While these ribs were tasty, I cheated with the cooking method so they weren't quite as fall off the bone as they could have been. A couple of weeks ago I attempted the ribs using the official slow and low method and as both Blondie and Lawman can attest they were easy to prepare (set it and forget it comes to mind) and delicious. The meat literally melted off the bone. Yum.

This is Labor Day Weekend. Time for barbecuing and kicking back. Enjoy these last summer days and go forth and make ribs!

Check out this Bone Suckin' Sauce locator. I spotted it at Fairway in Brooklyn.


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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black & Whites at the Farmers Market?

Black & White Cookie

I know a eclectic mixture of food stuffs can be found at NYC's Greenmarkets, but black & whites? Really? OK, I'll go with it.

Black & White Cookie

I am quite, quite familiar with Meredith's Bakery (shocker!) and their assorted baked goodies, including the mini pies! So, I was surprised when I noticed they were selling black and whites. Always on the hunt for perfect harmony, I bought one to try. I firmly believe they are using Glasers recipe, but the cake had a tad too much lemon extract for my tastes. They also used a mixture of chocolate and butter for the chocolate part, which made it commence melting the moment a sunshine ray fell upon it. While I love chocolatey goodness, I don't like it all over my hands during work hours. Meanwhile the vanilla icing was rock hard and cloying. In a pinch, this cookie is good, but if I was jonesing, I'd make the trek to Glasers.

Apple Cider Donuts

One of my personal fall favorite treats is some apple cider donuts and hot cider; tricks me into thinking I like the cold, and approaching snows. With the recent chilly mornings, I started my days thinking about my Halloween costume, apples (lots and lots of apples especially crispins), apple cider, and apple cider donuts. So after to going to Katchie's Farms' booth, I begged Brownie to let me get apple cider donuts, and she relented. Cakey, subtly sweet goodness, a bit dry but that makes a hot cider the perfect accompaniment. I brought them back to work as a treat for the guys I work with and they disappeared in, oh, five minutes. Therein lies the reason for the 'in the bag' picture, by the time I realized I should have taken a 'out of bag' shot, the donuts were gone. Sorry.

For all of you left in Midtown tomorrow, try to take a little lunch and visit the market before it closes! For everyone else (and that includes Brownie and I), be sure to visit your local Greenmarket when at all possible.

Council on the Environment of New York City-Greenmarket Main Page
www.cenyc.org/greenmarket
For all locations and schedules:
www.cenyc.org/files/gmkt/map.pdf
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Me Want Food!


Me want food! That's what my tummy was saying around 1:00pm yesterday, so I ventured out to meet Blondie for our farewell summer lunch at the Rock Center farmer's market. But production for a little show called 30 Rock blocked my way...


Keep Moving Along, People!


Yep, the PAs had sealed off the center part of the plaza between 49th and 50th street blocking my clear path to the Farmer's Market. Since Blondie was unexpectedly detained at the Saks, I decided to go in for a closer look while I waited.


Lemon and Jack!



"Me Want Food, Too, Lemon"


Finally Blondie arrived so we could move on to the dining portion of the lunch hour. She went for the grilled vegetable sandwich ($7). I got the ratatouille ($4) which was cheap, delicious, and healthy!


Blondie's Veggie Sandwich


What is it about French that makes everything sound fancier? I always thought that ratatouille was more involved than sauteed vegetables. I also thought that it had meat. I guess in my head it was some sort of cross between Coq au vin and Boeuf Bourguignon...which now that I think of if probably wouldn't be half bad. In any case, if you are as unfamiliar with classic French cuisine as I am--sorry great great grandma--ratatouille is a vegetarian dish loaded with summer veggies. As these summer days dwindle down, I'm definitely going to make some at home in the near future.


So This is Ratatouille...


If you want to make your own ratatouille, you still have Thursday and Friday to shop for veggies at the Rock Center Market.

Rock Center Farmers Market
Wednesday through Friday
July 23rd until August 29th
8:00am until 6:00pm
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rockefeller Center Greenmarket's Last Hurrah


Sigh. The market at Rockefeller is ending its season already. This Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are the last summer days that workers and tourists alike can enjoy the convenience of the green market in the heart of midtown. Make the most of it on your lunch break today. I know I will...

And I know just what I'm having for lunch. Last Wednesday I went to the Green Market to pick up some basil for pesto. I stopped in the Katchkie Farm stand when I noticed that they had purple basil. Yes! Basil that is purple. Well, I've never had purple pesto, so I had to try it!

While I paid for the basil and sampled their pickles I saw that they had a chalkboard with lunch specials. If their sandwiches and chilled soup are anything like those sample pickles then this was definitely a place I wanted to try.


Katchie Menu


Soup and Salad Selection at Katchkie


Chilled Vegetable Soup


Gazpacho

Trouble was they were out of sandwiches--they make a limited number of grilled organic vegetable sandwiches that sounded out of this world. The owner suggested arriving between noon and 12:30pm to be guaranteed a sandwich. The soups looked fresh and delicious, too. Katchkie is only at the Rock Center Markets on Wednesday and this is the last Wednesday of the season, so what are you waiting for? See you on the Plaza!


Ginger Snaps from the Farmer's Market!
Yum. These look like dessert to me!

Rock Center Farmers Market
Wednesday through Friday
July 23rd until August 29th
8:00am until 6:00pm
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taking on the Dessert Truck, One Dessert at a Time?

Goat Cheese Cheesecake

Well, with the Treats Truck on a little bit of a vacay, we must still bring you delicious treat goodies from mobile bakeries, must we not? Not that we would ever desert the Treats Truck (or Wafels & Dinges for that matter). But with so many trucks hitting midtown, we must diversify.

Brownie and I have indeed hit up the Dessert Truck previously, in its downtown spot (it's directly in front of Weinstein Food Court, and scene of a failed Chick-Fil-A mission). She got the pavlova special, while I went with the chocolate bread pudding with bacon crème anglaise. Neither of us were truly impressed. My bread pudding could have been warmer, and the bacon crème anglaise could have tasted more bacony. But neither of us wrote it off because so many people have been impressed. I also brought the hazelnut bark home, knowing the hazelnut/chocolate combination is a favorite in the Blondie household. But no one really ate it. The general opinion was that the hazelnuts should be smaller and more throughout the bark, then one huge hazelnut every few bites with smooth chocolate in-between. Not that the chocolate was bad, it's Guittard, I'd bathe in it if I could. It just could have gone to another level.

Liege Waffle with Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse

Then the truck came to midtown, and we made an unholy alliance. I stand by observation that the mousse should have been airier; it resembled something between mousse and pudding. But if I was in the mood for a light chocolate, non-candy dessert, I'd consider getting the mousse.

Cheesecake without Pistachio Crisp

The other day, I was in need of a midday dessert; with no Treats Truck, and not feeling the walk over to Wafels & Dinges, I walked up Park to the Dessert Truck. Since Brownie wasn't with me, I could get tree nuts, and I had had my eye on the goat cheese cheesecake. "Please, please Dessert Truck, make me happy." I've never had goat cheese cheesecake, so I don't have something to compare this against. The cake was good, not too sweet, a little dense, good texture. I loved the pistachio crisp and blackberries on top (different textures and the fruity, nutty taste worked well with the tarty, acidic taste of the goat cheese), but the rosemary caramel was way too sweet, enough to make me think it was rosemary honey. If I were to get this again, I would consider pouring out the rosemary caramel before eating.

I'm still hoping against hope that the molten chocolate cake works out when I finally have it, or I may not be able to justify buying their $5 desserts. Please Dessert Truck, make me happy!

Dessert Truck

Day location @ Park Ave / 51st St
Monday - Friday: 11:30AM - 4PM
Night location @ St. Marks Place:
Monday - Sunday: 6PM until closing (about midnight)
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Of Scuppernongs and Muscadines


They're here! They're here! The Scuppernongs and Muscadines have arrived...

What are Scuppernongs and Muscadines? I once asked the very same question when Lawman brought home a bag from Chinatown that appeared to be filled with giant grapes. They looked like thick skinned globe grapes on steroids. When I tasted them, they were so much better than any other grapes I've ever had. And now they are in season. Huzzah!

Scuppernongs and Muscadines are only grown commercially down South but in recent years they've been gaining popularity and extending their reach ever Northward. But Muscadines aren't new. In fact, they are a New World fruit encountered by early explorers and settlers with the first record of them written up in a ship's logbook in the year 1524 by Italian explorer, Giovanni de Varrazzano (shout out to the Verrazano Bridge, woot!). Scuppernongs are a yellowish or bronze variety of muscadines named for the the Scuppernong River in North Carolina. They are North Carolina's state fruit.



I love everything about these grapes. Underneath the thick, fibrous, and tart skin they have a layer of sweet juice and then a tart gummy pulp. Muscadines and Scuppernongs have seeds, so be careful when you crunch down. There are a couple schools of thought about eating them. Some people partially pop the muscadines in their mouths with the stem scar facing inwards then bite down and suck out the juice and pulpy center and discard the skin. Others pop the whole thing in their mouth enjoy it whole eating pulp, juice, and skin. Or you can do a combo. I like to eat the pulp and juice first and then the skin. Muscadines have loads antioxidants and more fiber than oats! Recent studies suggest there may be cardiovascular benefits to eating muscadines. So stock up and chow down.



Lawman recently found muscadines and scuppernongs in several fruit and vegetable markets stands Chinatown, including the stand in front of the Centre Street exit to the Canal Street JMZ and Q stop. The going rate seems to be $2.50 per pound for both muscadines and scuppernongs.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Chaat-gate!

It's Aloo Chaat!

At some point in the past year, Brownie took it upon herself to reintroduce me to Indian food. I had had many bad experiences including being violently ill, so curry dreams were more like nightmares sworn off forever. But Brownie knew what to do and just like that, I've been an Indian food lover. I'm constantly craving the spicy combinations, and recently Zach and Danny turned me onto chaat.

Aloo Chaat-ishness

This leads me to today. Wayne, I already can't fit into some of my pants. It's diet a-go-go time right now, and I can't BEAR to eat another salad. Blech lettuces, blech. I'm thinking that from the ingredients in aloo chole chaat (Potatoes, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, yogurt) it can't be that bad, or at least, it's no worse than most salads. Therefore, it's on the healthier end of midtown lunches. In the past weeks, I had gone with Brownie to Taj Delhi Chat to taste aloo chole chaat; I picked medium spicy which was just spicy enough for me to eat and finish. I thoroughly liked it, and have patiently anticipated a lunchtime where I could walk all the way over to the Fashion District to get some more. Folks, that time was today.

Chaat of some sort

I go, I order, I say "medium". A nice gentleman is behind me in line. He orders samosa chat, "Spicy". We chat about chaat. I leave. He stays. I go back to office. Upon taking my chaat out of the bag, I think "this doesn't look like my last chaat or Danny's chaat. Is this? No! Is? It? Oh!" Mind you, there's no way I could bring this back. I consider calling. My boss starts talking to me. I get verklempt. "It will be ok. Just eat the chaat. Go tomorrow, ask about it, laugh, maybe get free chaat," goes through my head. One bite, one bite was all it took for my entire digestive system to be en fuego!!!!!!

Wrong Chaat!

I power walk to the kitchen. "Can I chug milk out of a carton? Will these people think I've completely lost it? Yes, Blondie, your stomach may not understand the fiery heat entering it, but you must always use your manners." Now, the chaat was good, but I think I managed to go through 3/4s of a carton of milk and only ate about 1/8th of the chaat you see there. The last time my mouth felt such heat, well that was last week when I accidentally ate a chile pepper; let's just say, my mouth didn't feel normal again until it was time to leave. I thought that maybe they mixed up my chaat with the guy's behind me, but looking over Zach's cheat sheet, I think that I had sev chaat? If anyone has a clue what kind of chaat I ate, please let me know. If those are sevs, they're sort of wonderful, and add a pleasant texture to healthier food, while the pomegranate seeds added a nice color to the dish. I would love to get this again, of course on medium heat. Regardless, I still love chaat!

Taj Delhi Chat
1013 6th Avenue, between 37th and 38th Streets
(212) 840-4810
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Pig Candy...where have you been all my life?


I take my chocolate very seriously. In fact my first job as a kid was working in my best friend's parents' chocolate factory. I've made chocolate, sold chocolate, and certainly eaten more than my fair share of chocolate. Every once and awhile I find a chocolate treat that knocks my socks off. That's how it was with me and Roni-Sue's Pig Candy...

But Brownie, what on earth is Pig Candy? Well, it's bacon deep fried until it's extra crispy and then dipped in luscious milk or dark chocolate. Bacon and chocolate, who knew? Fortunately there are others far more visionary than I.



Blondie and I first encountered this magical bacon and chocolate combination at the Fancy Food show when we wandered over to the Voges' booth and tasted a sample of their Mo's Bacon Bar: applewood smoked bacon and Alder wood smoked salt enrobed in 41% cacao. Amazingly delicious doesn't even begin to describe it. I love a good salty/sweet combo, and the savory bacon with it's lovely salty bits melded nicely with the deep milk chocolate. Could anything get better than this? Yes and Chocolatiere Rhonda Kave (a.k.a. Roni-Sue) is the gal to do it, taking the the bacon and chocolate pairing to the next level with her chocolate covered bacon that achieves the ultimate bacon to chocolate ratio.

Roni Sue tells us that each hand dipped batch starts with six pounds of bacon that when deep fried renders and reduces down to one pound of bacon left for dipping. The extra crispy bacon is then dipped in milk or dark chocolate and voila! Pig candy.



Mo's Bacon Bar is darn delicious, but the guarantee of plenty of bacon in every bite, makes Roni-Sue's Pig Candy a must for bacon and chocolate lovers alike.

The adorable little shop in the Essex Market will celebrate it's 1 year anniversary in October, and Pig Candy is a relatively new addition to their menu. Lawman and I had completely stuffed ourselves at Shopsins before we discovered Roni-Sue's so we only had room for some Pig Candy, but her truffles looked fabulous and we'll definitely be back to try more (and get our bacon fix).

Roni-Sue's Chocolates

Essex Street Market, #24
120 Essex Street at Delancey
New York, NY 10002
212.260.0421
Monday through Saturday
11am to 7pm
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's National Waffle Day!


Happy National Waffle Day! And what better way to celebrate than with a free waffle...

National Waffle Day--not to be confused with International Waffle Day (March 25th) which originated in Sweden--is "observed" in America on August 24th to mark the anniversary of the first U.S. patent for a waffle iron given to Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York (yeah, NY!), for a "device to bake waffles" in 1869.

The 1964 World’s Fair in New York City is the birthplace of what here in the states is considered a “Belgian” waffle. But what we Americans call the "Belgian" waffle is actually called the “Brussels” waffle in Belgium. In honor of National Waffle Day, Wafels & Dinges, mobile gourmet wafflery owned and operated by Belgian native, Thomas DeGeest, will be handing out free Brussels waffles from noon until 2:00pm today, Sunday, August 24th at the Wafels & Dinges Truck which will be on Broadway between 74th and 75th St.

We really like the Brussels waffle with Belgian chocolate and strawberries. Oooh, or Belgian chocolate and bananas. Really you can't go wrong with the Belgian chocolate.

While you're at the truck, try their now freshly baked Liege Waffle. It's certifiably delicious.

Some lovely waffles we've enjoyed from Wafels & Dinges:


Liege Waffle with Belgian Chocolate



Brussels Waffles with Flemish Four Cheese Sauce



Liege Waffle with Banana and Honey



Liege Waffle with Ice Cream and Belgian Chocolate

Wafels & Dinges
Follow them via twitter
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

And Now for Some Saturday Morning Cartoons: Healthy Food


I watched a lot of Sesame Street as a kid. When you have a younger sibling that means that you can watch baby tv longer. "Uh, I was just keeping the kid company." Anyway, I actually remember singing the lyrics to Healthy Food with Lil Bobo, when he was an even littler Bobo. This video predates the recent Cookie Monster brainwashing. Here I can totally forgive all the healthy eating, because come on, you can tell that Cookie is keeping it real...

Word up, Cookie! Word up.

And if you need further proof that Chris Cerf is a genius, may I present...one of my all time fav Sesame Street sketches...I Dance Myself to Sleep...


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Blondie and Brownie's PSA: Steer clear of Greenwich Village on Sunday


It's that time again. Late August means back-to-school and back-to-school means farewell peaceful village of the summertime, and welcome back to the Fighting Violets of New York University. Yes, Sunday is freshman move-in day for NYU...

Last year, I made the mistake of going to Trader Joe's on the last Monday in August. Yes, I know the cardinal rule of shopping at the Trader is don't go Monday night after work when everyone is scrambling to grab some sort of sustenance to stock their pantries after a weekend of dining out. Nonetheless I was out of bread and milk and cereal and chocolate, so I decided to just suck it up and deal. When I got to the Trader I immediately noticed that the store was strikingly barren--even for a Monday night. There was exactly one box of cereal left. No milk. No bread. No chips. Not much beer. A few stray boxes of cookies. The staff looked shell shocked. "What happened?" I asked. "NYU." NYU.

Learn from my mistake! Here's a list of the top places to avoid in the village on Sunday and during orientation week. Most of the upperclassmen will show up sometime between now and Labor Day, so the craziness isn't expected to subside anytime soon...

*Trader Joe's: I think we covered this one. You will show up. There will be no food. Go this Friday or Saturday and stock up.

*Republic: With their communal tables, pitchers of sangria, and waiters with touch pad ordering this Asian inspired noodle place on Union Square is very popular with the student set. It's also very loud and insanely crowded when school is in session. There are better and cheaper places in the city for noodles.

*Spice: Even when I was a wee Violet myself, I avoided Spice. I always heard it was good, though the jury seems to be out on that at yelp. Not sure if my friends were into it because of the food or because they are centrally located and take campus cash. In either case, they're always super crowded and their pumping electro soundtrack might give you bad flashbacks. If you want actually cheap Thai with a soundtrack but friendly service and few students, check out Song in Park Slope.

*Josie Woods: Fraternities at NYU...they really do exist! And you'll find them here at Josie Woods pounding $3.50 pints of Yuengling. Do I really need to say more?

*Red Bamboo: Ok, I love Red Bamboo. This is one place that I still go to for their awesome vegetarian buffalo wings with soy blue cheese sauce (yes, it's a freak of nature, but I don't argue with something that tasty). RB is a tiny place and they won't seat you unless your entire party is there. With NYU's large veg crowd, expect lines. Those buffalo wings are worth it though.

*Artichoke: Thought the line was bad during the summer? There are three dorms housing close to two thousand students within a couple blocks of Artichoke. College students love pizza and have free time to stand in line. Avoid! Avoid!

*Magnolia Bakery: "OMG! This is like where Carrie and Samantha and Miranda, and Charlotte got cupcakes. OMG! We have to go. OMG! They're open late! OMG!" So many reasons to avoid, unless you are a fan of surly service and overly dry cupcakes with cloyingly sweet frosting, and fellow customers busting out in the "Chronic(what?)cles of Narnia." If you're in the village and hankering for a delicious cupcake, check out Batch. Excellent cupcakes that come in a variety of flavors including carrot cake with salted caramel frosting.

*St. Mark's Place: There will be students getting tattoos and buying cheap sunglasses and band t-shirts and eating expensive chain burritos, best to avoid this strip all together.

Sorry returning upperclassmen, Senor Swanky's is kaput.

For your sanity, here's a map with the predominantly undergrad housing:


View Larger Map

Beware!

Every cloud has a silver lining and the return of the NYU students must mean that campus dining is reopening, which means, Chick-fil-a! The only one in the entire city is in the Weinstein Food Court. Time for me to go undercover: break out the ratty undersized t-shirt, aviator sunglasses, newsboy hat, and some American Apparel leggings. Watch my back, Blondie. I'm going in!

*If there are any NYU kids out there reading this, I used to be one of you. When you get some distance from your time at NYU, you too will realize how annoying the student body is to the rest of the city. So try to be a good neighbor, enjoy your time at school, and get the most out of it--this means getting a couple internships under your belt before your graduate. Your parents aren't paying good money for you not to take advantage of the city and to move home with them after you finish college. And though there are a lot of bitter NYU alums out there, we take care of our own, so I look forward to welcoming you to the NYU mafia in 4 years.

Looks like the orientation folks have put together some good programing. Way better than they had back in my day. If I were a student I'd totally go on the Career Development Office's tour of the Food Network at Chelsea Market on Thursday, August 28th.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blondie's Libations: Beer is a Suitable Lunch

And the bad
Today, I had no lunch mates. Nothing to do, no where to go. I considered the dessert truck, then I thought about the scale. So I wandered around Midtown, singing "All by Myself" in my head, when suddenly I turned the corner, and saw FREE BEER!!!!!

FREE BEER! FREE BEER! FREE BEER! was the thought racing through my mind. I saw random people walking into the gates, not flashing cards or invites or all-knowing email printouts, I asked the bouncer "can anyone go in?"
"Let me see your i.d., ma'am."
"Oh, I'm a miss. And here's my i.d. It's free, right?"
"Grr." Hands me back my i.d.

FREE BEER! FREE BEER! FREE BEER!
Brain: "Don't take pictures. Don't ask any more questions. Don't do anything that could make them take away the free beer."
Pinky, or in my case, Liver: "Yes, Brain."
This is why I need Brownie around. She would ask questions, and care about things like how long this is going on for, why are they doing this, than caring about procuring free beer.

Sharing the good
Side note about the actual product at hand: I'm not really a Heineken girl since it has a tendency to make me throw up, but this light beer is better than the old stand-by diet beer, Amstel Light. There was an actual beer taste though watered down, and I may be able to feel slightly tipsy after downing a few. If you're on a diet and want a beer, this may be the way to go.

Heine Premium Light
After imbibing, I promptly reported back to Zach (I am a well-trained commenter.) He knew nothing (or so he says, he may just be hording the free beer!) A small Google search yielded that this as been going on for at least a week (wtf, Midtown Lunch folk!), and another similar event will be occurring downtown tomorrow.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Taking on the Treats Truck One Treat at a Time: Conecakes Madness!!!


I'm one of those crazies who gets obsessed with a food and has to eat it over and over again in every variation possible until I find my favorite type, and possibly drop that food out of my repertoire forever. This is currently happening with the conecakes. Each weekend I think "What conecakes is Kim thinking up for this week?" Each day I wonder "Will I be able to score a different option?!" On Tuesday, Brownie and I scored, we scored big time.

Brownie and I got word that conecakes would be on the docket the only two days possible until Labor Day Weekend. Holy pajamas Batman! We promptly left our offices in time to survey the scene. The Truck was in the "Secret Spot" as I like to refer to it since 38th St and 5th Ave days seem to have shorter lines. Upon arrival I spied, not two, not three, but four, count it people, FOUR (4) different varieties of conecakes. Red Alert, Brownie!! Man Alive!


In addition to the vanilla-vanilla, chocolate-chocolate, we had chocolate chip AND mint chocolate chip.

Inside the Mint Chocolate Conecake

First up, the mint chocolate. While Brownie was photoging, I was licking frosting off the wax paper. That mint green frosting was actually tinted vanilla, but see those chocolate chips, oh, they're minty. Subtly minty, but definitely adding to the mintyness. The mint flavor continues its subtleties into the chocolate cake, which also had chocolate chips in it (ours seems to have sunk to the bottom of the cone, but my big bites exposed them for all they were. The picture's big because they're hard to see; click on it for more). Nothing was too sweet, or overly powerful in the mint or chocolate arena.


Onto the chocolate chip! At first I though chocolate chips was just in the frosting as there were regular semi-sweets EMBEDDED in it, but one bite revealed chips baked into the vanilla cake! Making it chocolate chip cake!! Again, more delicate than sweet or powerful. I preferred this, while Brownie chose the mint.


Now, we've all agreed that the cones get a little moist/soft due to baking, and the novelty of it all cannot be denied. But they're just so damn cute, I have to love them and disregard the cons. They bring rays of sunshine to my cold, dark world! And you can't deny me happiness or love!

Previous Treats Truck Reviews:
Mexican Chocolate Brownie
The Nutty Co-Worker and PB&J Jamwich
Conecakes
Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes
Orange Chiffon Cake
Peanut Butter Brownie
Raspberry Oatmeal Jammy
Raspberry Lemon & Mint Chocolate Swirlie Dots
Chocolate Truck Cookie
Sugar Dot
Chocolate Chipper
Carmel Creme Trucker
Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwich Cookie
Chocolate Chipper with Nuts
Mint Chocolate Trucker
Passover treats
Cinnamon Cookie

Treats Truck
Various Locations around the city.
Click for schedule
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