Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In fact, if there was cake and frosting in miniature form every few blocks in New York, I'd be the proverbial pig. Yes, this is my response to this, this, this, and this. And the latest Crumbs gives me a new reason to celebrate October.
First off, cupcakes are not the next Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme has come and went during the cupcake craze. Will some shops shut down due to over saturation? That's inevitable. But the ease of buying and eating just one cupcake will keep the rest open. Have you ever tried to eat one piece of cake on the go? It doesn't work so well. This reminds me of an interesting comment Brownie and I overheard at the Edible Manhattan launch. While I was stuffing my face with treats from Doughnut Plant, a woman turned to her companion and stated, "doughnuts are the new cupcake." A girl can only dream.
BTW, the new Crumbs is opening in October at 501 Madison Avenue, between 52nd and 53rd Streets. I will keep my ear to the ground? Nose to the grindstone? Try to be there opening day to eat pumpkin cupcakes? Yes, that last one.
If you can't wait, Crumbs is located throughout Manhattan, in East Hampton, and Los Angeles.
Monday, September 29, 2008
This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in Bubby's 5th Annual Brooklyn Pie Social and I baked my very first pie completely from scratch...
I've always been very intimidated by pies. The crust! The crust! It has to be light. And buttery. And flakey. And perfect. So, I'll admit...I've cheated. I've been assisted by a Doughboy and an Keebler Elf. But on Sunday morning, hours before the Pie Social, I rolled out my very first crust and assembled my first pie from scratch. An Apple Gruyere Pie inspired by Pushing Daisies from a recipe I found on this awesome blog.
I have more dough and will be making this pie again with a few slight variations for my wee Pushing Daisies premiere party on Wednesday, so I'll leave the detailed recipe commentary until then, but suffice it to say, my first pie turned out quite well. The Gruyere was a nice counterpoint to the sweetness and tartness of the apples. The crust was flakey and browned nicely and apples held up inside.
Of course one of the wonderful things about the Pie Social was tasting everyone else's pies. My $10 entry fee bought me 5 tasting tickets which was more than ample--I shared all my slices with friends.
There was a big group of students from the Food and Finance High School. And those kids made some excellent pies. Including probably the most creative combination, a Duck and Concord Grape Pie that was actually quite tasty. The pie included real pieces of Duck meat (and a fair amount of it) smothered with a Concord Grape filling. Very unique. Definitely not a combo I would have thought up myself.
Some other pies we tried...
I sold out of all but two slices of my pie which I traded in my own tickets to bring slices back to Lawman and my Serious Eats buddy, Erin Zimmer. At the end we all got these excellent blue ribbons for participating. I think I'll put mine on my refrigerator. Pie mission success!
And now I'm off to find the piemobile...
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Last weekend, on my flight back from Kansas City I had a layover in Cincinnati. All weekend long we’d driven past a number of Chick-fil-a’s that looked darn tempting, especially due to the scarcity of Chick-fil-a’s in the city. When I discovered I’d have a long layover in Cincinnati on the way home, I clung to the faint hope that there might be a Chick-fil-a lunch in my future.
Alas, there is indeed a Chick-fil-a in Terminal 3 at the Cincinnati airport, but since it was a Sunday, this Chick-fil-a (like all its Chick-fil-a brethren) was closed.
Fortunately I remembered a little gchat exchange I had with my dad during my layover on the way to Kansas…
Coicidentally right across from the closed Chick-fil-a was a Gold Star Chili. Was this a sign?
Now I don’t eat the beefs, so much of their menu, including their original chili wasn’t anything for me, but then I noticed that they serve Veggie Chili. I could try the famous Cincinnati treat! Huzzah!
I ordered up a veggie 3 way (chili, spaghetti, and cheese) with onions. Which I guess technically should have 4 way, but whatever, I just did what the lady told me to.
As I took my little tray to the table a passed an elderly couple chowing down on their 3 ways. The pasta and chili were all mixed up together (and it didn’t look terribly delicious) and they added oyster crackers on top…oyster crackers, chili, and pasta. I already have a hard time trusting people who put chili on their pasta, but oyster crackers too? But, I’d already paid for my chili concoction so there was no turning back now.
Taking my first bite, it actually wasn’t too bad (that’s the benefit of extremely .low expectations). The pasta certainly wasn’t al dente by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t as mushy as I was expecting. For vegetarian chili it was pretty good. A nice mix of black beans, kidney beans and lima beans, little chunks of carrots and corn. And the cheese helped. Cheese always helps. The onions were a bit much and a bit strong (Dad wasn't kidding about those tic tacs). Ultimately I decided against adding the oyster crackers and I still feel good about that decision. If you're in the Cincinnati Airport waiting for a your next flight in Terminal 3, Gold Star Chili is worth trying at least once. They also serve the chili over fries. Mmm...chili cheese fries. Now that's something I could get behind!
Gold Star Chili
Greater Cincinnati Intl Airport
Delta Terminal 3
Councourse B, Space B-027
Hebron, KY 41048
Friday, September 26, 2008
A LOT of things are going on this weekend, a food workshop by one of my favorite places in the city, FIAF, Bubby's Pie Social, and maybe a birthday skee-ball tourney, but only three things will matter to me: the final games of the Mets season. Yes, Brownie, I will be unavailable tonight, tomorrow afternoon, and the majority of Sunday. I may be so inclined to make special Mets-themed goodies, in hopes that we will get a playoff berth! Unfortunately, my last game at Shea came and went, but not without me accomplishing one goal (no, it wasn't making it on the kiss cam!)
I made it to Mama's. Prior to my game, I left work on time; I caught the express; I went to Gate E where the following ensued:
Blondie: "Can I get to Mama's from here?"
Nice Bag Checker Man: "What?"
Blondie: "I need to go to Mama's? Mama's of Corona?"
Nice Bag Checker Man: "What?"
Blondie: "Field level?"
Young Nice Bag Checker Man: "Yeah, Mama's, yeah. Go on in."
Nice Bag Checker Man: "What?"
Blondie, winking at Young Bag Checker Man: "He knows. Thanks guys."
Yes, the field level is a store front with a good variety of items, both sandwiches available upstairs along with a purely mozzarella vegetarian sandwich. They also have three types of salad: a mozzarella, a Greek-esque with olives and palm hearts, and another that I can't remember. I was distracted by the desserts; I have a one-track mind, sorry folks. They have cannolis done with orange and blue sprinkles, biscotti, tiramisu, tarelles, and a wide variety of cookies.
Including a sugar cookie decorated like a baseball with Mets written on it. The cookie part isn't so bad, like a sugar cookie that really badly wants to be the base for a black and white; it was moist and better than I expected. The sugar icing was way too sweet and the food coloring leeched into my fingertips, but whatever, I was here to watch the game and so should you. Play Ball!
The Red Velvet Custard from the Shake Shack was a delightful cap to a busy day yesterday. Extra delightful because I got to catch up with my best friend, Doc, after her shift and extra, extra delightful because I got to introduce Doc to Shake Shack and Red Velvet Cake! Doc loved it. The yogurt was super creamy and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. There were still chunks of cake, but this time the cake was rather dry. A couples of bites were actually kind of crumbly/crunchy. Overall, the Red Velvet Custard was still tasty, even if it wasn't quite as good as the very first time I enjoyed it. Danny Meyer set the bar high and I will eagerly await its next appearance in the custard rotation.
Speaking of the Shake Shack...I read earlier this week on Zagat Buzz (via Eater) that Shacktoberfest is almost upon us. So yesterday night when I was getting my Red Velvet Custard I had to see if I could find out anymore details about this Shacktoberfest...
Alas, the two cashiers I spoke to said they are still working on some "amazing stuff for the menu." Sounds like pumpkin will be featured in custard form. Personally, I'm hoping for a return of the Pumpkin Pie Concrete that I remember enjoying immensely a couple of years back--we're talking creamy and delicious Shake Shack custard with real pieces of pumpkin pie. That thing was amazing.
Don't get me wrong, I love the custom custard flavors--hello, Red Velvet!--but I wish that Mr. Meyer would allow the special custards to be make into concretes. How awesome would Salted Caramel Custard be in any of the concretes on the menu? Just imagine the Concrete Jungle--hot fudge, bananas, caramel AND Salted Caramel Custard. Or the Hopscotch--hot fudge, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Valrhona chocolate chunks, and chocolate sprinkles AND Salted Caramel Custard. Sigh...delicious. You can make your own concrete concoction anytime with a vanilla or chocolate base and their regular menu of toppings, but it's not often that you get a concrete with a different base and/or new and unusual mix ins. And if last year's menu with Black Forest, German Chocolate, Apple Strudel and Sachertorte is any indication, Shacktoberfest should be a very good fest indeed.
Shacktoberfest at the Shake Shack
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Ave. and E.23rd St.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Life lesson: always check the Shake Shack calendar at the beginning of the month...
The last time we saw the lusciousness that is the Shake Shack's Red Velvet Custard was in May. MAY, people! And tomorrow is is the last day it will be available for September. This is by far my favorite custard from the Shack ever. Nice and tangy with hints of the cream cheese frosting and not just little bits of Red Velvet Cake, nay, this custard has whole chunks of cake! Must get to Shake Shack, stat!
I hope that the Red Velvet Custard makes another appearance in the monthly Custard rotation soon. If you love the Red Velvet Custard, let Mr. Meyer know...
And don't forget that Tuesday is the last day for Coffee and Donuts Custard for the month!
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Ave. and E.23rd St.
It's one o'clock in the morning. I should be in bed. But I can't sleep. I'm too busy reading Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin...
Tonight (or I suppose last night at this point) I had the chance to go to Kenny Shopsin's book talk and signing at the Strand. As a long time lover of Shopsin's--when Lawman and I took the day off for our anniversary this year our only set plan was Shopsin's for lunch--it was interesting to hear Kenny chat with his editor about the book and his process in the kitchen. Going home and reading the first couple of chapters is like visiting the restaurant.
This is one beautifully put together book. Tamara Shopsin was the designer and she created a look that captures the essence of Shopsin's in it's various incarnations. The book features photos by Tamara's husband, Jason Fulford...photos of the food, the process, and all those little things that make Shopsin's into Shopsin's.
While I look forward to getting into the kitchen and trying out some of these recipes--mmm, mmm Slutty Cakes and Ho Cakes--I can't wait to visit Shopsin's for brunch. Lawman will obsess over his choice before settling on something pork based, I'll order the Piaf on wheat, Zach will ask us where the f*ck we've been and all will be right in the world.
For more Shopsin's book coverage including a link to Kenny's appearance on Conan this week check out SeriousEats.com.
Essex Street Market, Stall 16
120 Essex Street
New York, NY 10002
OPEN TUESDAY thru SATURDAY 9am to 3pm.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Here's a little glimpse into Brownie's mind. Yesterday morning I was riding subway. No coffee yet. La la la...Reading the signs...Staring at people's shoes...Those are cute...I wonder where she got them....Thinking about this evening...isn't it premiere week? Pushing Daisies...mmm...PIE.
And sometimes the universe works in strange ways and provides free pie...
Yes, free pie. The Mobile Pie Hole is coming to town and it will be in New York next Monday, September 29th in Times Square with Good Morning America. They'll be there from 7:00am until 9:00am giving away free pie in honor of the premiere of the second season of Pushing Daisies. Yup, free pie, pie-cutters, spatulas and more. Supplies are limited, so come early before they run out!
The Mobile Pie Hole has been traveling the country this month and already made stops in Los Angeles, Vegas, and Phoenix among others. Check out their pics here.
For those of you wondering what the heck does pie have to do with a TV show, Pushing Daisies, is offbeat comedy on ABC about a guy named Ned--a piemaker by trade--who can bring things back to life briefly with just one touch. It's funny, it's sweet. It's different from the usual network fare.
Follow the Pie Hole via their Twitter. And visit The Pushing Daisies Tour for more info and some of Ned's recipes. I think I might still bake a pie...
Wednesdays at 8:00pm on ABC
Season Premiere: Wednesday, October 1st.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Yay for treats on any day ending in 'y' especially Friday!! Midtown got a quadruple chance to pick up treats last week, and I took advantage of a Brownie-less Friday to pick up a nutty treat. But the Treats Truck showing up on a Friday wasn't the only surprise waiting for me, Kim has added onto her offerings...
If the sugar high from the baked goods isn't enough, you can keep it going all night long (all night..all night..all night...I love Lionel) with candy!! Kim let me know that she would sometimes offer candy at special events, and she recently decided to make it a regular offering off the truck.
I personally blame the candy necklace with a certain bad fidgety habit of mine, but I will always eat them and Fun Dips. Let's just all take a second and think about what an experience the conecake would be if mixed with Pop Rocks®. Wow, I love when I blow my own mind.
Onto the treat: I actually saved this treat for an after-dinner snack since I knew my nephew was coming over and I wanted to get a child's opinion one of these days. He loved it. The bar is sticky and moist; a good amount of dark brown sugar or molasses is in here, and that compliments the pecans quite well. This is a good bar to pick if you want a bar, but not a chocolate brownie (aka a blondie!!) I wish there were a bit more pecans throughout as opposed to just on top, and a little more of the butterscotch flavor too. I would love to have one of these at the bottom of a hot fudge sundae. Speaking of which, I think I may be jonesing for a butterscotch sundae. There was a place in Durham, NC that my family used to go to that had a turtle sundae with three scoops of ice cream, butterscotch, caramel, hot fudge and toasted pecans. Oh sweet heavens. Brownie! Mission in order!!
Previous Treats Truck Reviews:
Chocolate Chip and Mint Chocolate Chip Conecakes
Mexican Chocolate Brownie
The Nutty Co-Worker and PB&J Jamwich
Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes
Orange Chiffon Cake
Peanut Butter Brownie
Raspberry Oatmeal Jammy
Raspberry Lemon & Mint Chocolate Swirlie Dots
Chocolate Truck Cookie
Carmel Creme Trucker
Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwich Cookie
Chocolate Chipper with Nuts
Mint Chocolate Trucker
Various Locations around the city.
Click for schedule
Now I know frying makes pretty much anything extra delicious, but pickles? Fried pickles? This weekend I was in Kansas City and I had the opportunity to sample my first fried pickle, which was followed shortly thereafter by my second fried pickle…
The first thing that caught my eye on the menu at Wil Jenny’s--a Texas inspired restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas--was the Fried Green Tomatoes. I do love a good fried green tomato and you don’t get them all that often in the big city, so of course I had to order them. When I glanced back at the menu to place my order I noticed that it said “Fried Tomatoes and Pickles.” Were the Fried Tomatoes served with pickles? Or Fried Tomatoes and Fried Pickles? This was why my high school English teacher always stressed parallel sentence structure! Well, I love pickles and I’ll try pretty much anything once, so I placed my order and waited to see what arrived.
A few minutes later the waitress emerged with my fried tomatoes and fried pickles. Yes! I dug into the pickles first. They were breaded with a little bit of seasoning not all that unlike what you might find on a fried mozzarella stick. I’ve never eaten a pickle that was above room temp and the experience of biting into a breaded pickle that was still warm yet juicy and tangy was a bit odd at first, but ultimately delicious. I thought I was just going to have one spear, but I was too good to pass up that second spear. In the end, the fried green tomatoes weren’t all the remarkable, but the pickles made the meal.
6700 West 135th Street
Overland Park, KS 66223
Monday, September 22, 2008
Blondie Mommsie and I spent the entire weekend cursing the changing weather. By the end of last week, both of us developed our semi-annual colds that come with the equinox season changes. Around midday Friday, with disease ravaging my poor defenseless body, I stumbled to Oriental Noodle Shop for my Asian elixir of life, roast pork udon soup.
OK, so maybe I stopped at the Treats Truck first, but that walk took everything out of me and I contemplated going home early from work. I had been thinking about this soup since this post and Zach's asked me a few times about it since then. I discovered Oriental Noodle during a rainy, cold spring day, when I intended to go to Hop Won and mistakenly walked into the super-crowded Oriental Noodle. The inside is laid out like an old time deli, with a long bar with round stools and a small eating area in the back. I love that they have chickens in the window, and added bonus to take-out there is you get to be mesmerized by the cutting down and gutting process.
I find the broth is flavorful and salty, just what one needs when sick. The pork is a little fatty and greasy, don't be surprised if you find whole piece of just fat. I've only had the udon (they offer a number of different noodle types), and it's always been fresh. All in all, this is quite a meal for $7 (don't pay attention to the prices on their website,) and much better than many other Midtown soup joints. In fact, a coworker of mine went to one of those chain soup places, got about 1/4 of the amount I did for the same price, and didn't even like it. She then watched me slurp down udon. These pictures don't really do the soup justice, since just like Sapporo, they present it better when eating in the shop.
Oriental Noodle Shop
135 East 45th Street, between Lexington and 3rd
(212) 697-2353 or (212) 697-2125
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Just got back from Kansas City and several days of 'cue in the heartland to find that poor Blondie's been sick all weekend...
Being sick is no fun, so while I put together my KC wrap up posts, here's one of my fav Seinfeld sketches from the Frogger episode courtesy of YouTube.
Get Well, Get Well Soon, We Wish You to Get Well...
Saturday, September 20, 2008
One of my favorite Swedish chef skits of all time. Fortunately the lobsters weren't quite so feisty when I was up in Maine recently and we had lobstah not once but twice in a weekend...
Ah, Maine. Land of $5.29 a pound lobster. More on lobsters and Maine adventures very soon!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Before my Western sojourn, Ms. Blondie and I had a Biriyani Cart/Treats Truck double header where we tried their Combo Kabab for the first time. Since then Midtown Lunch has reported that there have been a few changes at the cart. And of course this demanded another visit...
One of the things that always struck me about this cart was the spelling of its name. I have seen its namesake rice dish spelled "biriyani," "biryani" and even "biriani." Which is correct? Are these variations regional? I tried to do a little research and according to the online version of India's National Newspaper, "biriyani" is the colloquial and wrong way of spelling "biryani."
Now...to the photo evidence...old cart, notice sign in the top center of the photo. "Biriyani" Cart...
And the new cart..."Biryani Cart"
Ok, maybe that's only interesting to dorks like me, but I guess since the sign changed to perhaps a more widely used spelling, I suppose I will now refer to them as the Biryani Cart (until they get a new sign that say the Biriani Cart).
On to the food...
How about that Combo Kabab, Brownie?
Well, you might have guessed from Blondie's post that this was a bit spicy. I believe her exact words were "en fuego." I can handle heat a bit better than Blondie, but even I thought this was a bit spicier than I was expecting. I like the balance of the chunks of chicken tikka with the ground chicken chapli kabab. Nice unique twist to the traditional chicken over rice street meat. I'd order this again if I wanted to shake things up a bit in my chicken and rice world.
Now the Biryani Cart knows how to do some spice, so when I heard about the new P.W.C.D Roll made up of "egg layered chapati bread with farm fresh scrambled egg and potato" I was excited. I love eggs! I love potatoes! So yesterday I got the PWCD and the Spicy Buradi Chicken Roll (grilled chicken with a "very spicy mint habanero sauce." The Spicy Buradi Roll was spicy as planned and tasty. If you like a powerfully spiced chicken kati roll, I think you'll enjoy this one. The PWCD on the other hand, disappointed. It was kind of bland. Not at all what I've come to expect flavorwise from the Biryani Cart. Though the egg was scrambled before my eyes in terms of the "farm freshness" it appeared to come from a yellow Styrofoam egg carton. You could probably ask for some sauce to kick this sucker up and I'm sure that would help. As for me, I'll probably stick to the Combo Kabab or one of the other more flavorful rolls.
Other new developments with the Biryani Cart...a new white uniform for the chef, color menu postcards for the taking, and new help. The older gentleman is still there, but it looks like the chef has a new trainee. Perhaps someone to man the new cart location?
As the guy behind me in line said, "Hey, fancy new uniforms, fancy new postcards, I knew you guys when." Me, too fellow midtown luncher. Me, too.
Close to Southeast corner of 46th Street and 6th Avenue
This ended up being a night of firsts, my first taste of Doughnut Plant, the first lox I ever liked, and our joint first experience with the Van Leeuwen Truck! We leave no truck unturned!!
Katchkie to say "Hello!" and taste their refreshing new Basil Peppermint Iced Tea.
Joe in Grand Central has this doughnut quite often, I think I may be gaining a size or two.
Murray's. The selection was big and I didn't take notes, but the chevre was melt in your mouth creamy.
Russ & Daughters and started eating a lox bagel, at first I passed on this. Then I took a bite for kicks. And my mouth said "Hold the phone! What is this?" It was tender, a little fishy but in a nice fresh way, and good. It was really, really good. I might have to eat it on a regular basis good. I promptly told the ladies from Russ & Daughters what they just did to my mouth, which prompted an open invitation to come for a tasting of the different types of salmon, and I might go fairly soon. This development completely blew my mom's world.
Danny told us that the ice cream was free for the taking. There have been mixed reviews of the Van Leeuwen ice cream, some say delicious, some say icy. Brownie got a ginger scoop and I went for mint chip. She says hers was creamy and delicious. While I like the minty taste, I found it to be a little on the icy side, not freezer burn icy, but I definitely did taste?/feel?/detect?/crunch? ice crystals, and I've had creamier. Not that I didn't eat it all because I did, but that's more due to my life-long love affair with ice cream than anything else.
Edible Manhattan is available all over Manhattan.
Find a copy here.