Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking on the Treats Truck One Treat at a Time: A Year in Treats...

Kim Ima and Co

This past year has been a good one for treats and Blondie and I have been steadily tasting the offerings at the Treats Truck. With the year drawing to a close--and the Treats Truck on a well deserved vacay until the New Year--it seems high time to countdown our top five Treats Truck treats of the year...

5.) Chocolate Candy Candy Cupcakes:
The frosting had a great minty kick and it wasn't overly sweet--always a plus in my book. The cupcake itself was denser than I usually go for and yet with the frosting it worked well. Christmas Cupcake perfection. I hope these stick around in the New Year.

Candy Cane Cupcakes-1


2.) Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
So moist, so fluffy, so spicy, so sweet, so delicious. The pumpkin cake is perfectly spiced, while the cream cheese frosting wasn't too sweet. Big winner.

Pumpkin Cake!


3.) Seasonal Sugar Cookies
Normally sugar cookies are easy to pass up treats. But Kim knows her way around a sugar cookie. These are very chewy and sweet. The frosting is creamy without being overly sugary. Yum!

I love Snowman


4.) The Peanut Butter Jamwich
Two peanut butter cookies sandwiching a thin shmear of both creamy peanut butter and of raspberry jam. Delish. I'd be a fan even if I didn't come up with the name. Very excited to see that the jamwich has made it's way into the regular treat rotation.

Peanut Butter Jamwich


1.) Conecakes!
Our post this summer on the appearance of conecakes at the Treats Truck has generated a ton of interest with links from Cupcakes Take the Cake, Midtown Lunch, Serious Eats New York, Cityrag, Gothamist, Grub Street, and Zagat Buzz among others. And there have been charged reactions from equally vociferous pro-Conecake and anti-Conecake factions... Delicious nostalgic treat or boring snack best left at Midwestern bake sales? We're decidedly pro. Conecakes are fun and a pleasant departure from the standard cupcake and the Treats Truck is the only place I've ever seen them for sale in the city. I love the mint chocolate chip conecake and Blondie favors the vanilla chocolate chip one.

Conecakes!


Keep informed of the truck's location by calling (212) 691-5226, checking their Twitter, or visiting treatstruck.com. Kim and co should be back in action for deliveries on Monday, January 5th and she'll be in her regular spot on 38th Street & 5th Ave from 12:00pm to 3:30pm.

Looking forward to the New Year we can't wait to see what Kim has in store for Valentines Day and we'd love to see some gingerbread slices find their way onto the menu... What are your favorite Treats Truck treats?

Previous Treats Truck Reviews:
Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcake
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Double Chocolate Trucker
Election Day Cupcakes
Halloween Specials, Part 2
Halloween Specials, Part 1
Pecan Butterscotch Bar
Chocolate Trucker
Chocolate Chip and Mint Chocolate Chip Conecakes
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
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Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Coming to a Freezer (Very) Near You!

Van Leeuwen Truck
The Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck may be on vacation until the weather warms up, but that doesn't mean that you can't get your ice cream fix...

That's right Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is now available in pints at area Whole Foods stores. Pick up your pints at: Bowery, Tribeca, Union Square, Columbus Circle, White Plains, Jericho, Manhasset and Edgewater.

Ginger Ice Cream from Van Leeuwen

Go forth and eat ice cream. And stay tuned for truck sightings come spring!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brunch and Cupcakes at Downtown Atlantic in Brooklyn

Downtown Atlantic, Brooklyn

Lawman and I decided to check out Downtown Atlantic a couple of Sundays ago. I'd heard that they had a good brunch and the restaurant was on our way into Manhattan for some Christmas shopping, but I have to admit that I was mostly lured by the promise of trying out their cupcakes...

Cupcakes from Downtown Atlantic

When we arrived their window was stocked with a charming assortment of chocolate, vanilla and coconut cupcakes that were about the size of a Crumbs cupcake but clocked in at $2.50 rather than $3.50.

Chocolate Cupcakes from Downtown Atlantic

I pondered and ogled while Lawman secured a table. And as much as I wanted to stuff my face with all of their various cupcake permutations, I opted to start with real brunch settling on splitting the Downtown Eggs Atlantic and the Fancy Eggs with Buttermilk Biscuits and Southern Gravy with Lawman.

The Downtown Eggs Atlantic--basically eggs Benedict with smoked salmon--was delicious and at $9, quite reasonably priced for a Brooklyn brunch.

Downtown Atlantic Brunch

The biscuits and gravy were ok, but nothing special. They were somewhat more appetizing than they appear in this photo, I wouldn't bother ordering them again. Overall the portions were more than plentiful. Definitely more than I could comfortably finish, especially after chowing down on the delicious complimentary carrot bread.

Free Carrot Bread

I'm pretty much a sucker for a complimentary anything and this bread was just perfect. Moist and dense, but not too dense. Sweet but not too sweet. Really, really good. And no nuts! Huzzah!

By the time Lawman and I worked our way through the carrot bread and the two entrees we were beyond stuffed. No room for a cupcake taste off, but we did score one for the road. After some deliberation I went for the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting.

Coconut Cupcakes

I'd give them high marks for the cake which was moist and chocolatey. I'm still not sure what I make of the frosting. It was very buttery and subtly vanilla--I wouldn't have minded a hint more vanilla flavoring. I think my main issue was the texture. I would have liked the frosting to have been a little lighter and fluffier as it was the frosting was rather like a dense buttery mass. Definitely better than the Cupcake Cafe's frosting--which while gorgeous, tastes like a stick of butter with food coloring--but I can't say it's a frosting that I'll crave.

Overall the brunch was a good deal and the cupcakes certainly are generously portioned for the price. I hope to make a return trip to try out the chocolate and red velvet ones.

Downtown Atlantic

364 Atlantic Ave
between Bond Street & Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 852-9945
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Monday, December 29, 2008

"You Want Dumplings?" "Yes, Yes, I Want Dumplings."

Cabbage & Pork Dumpling

Isn't it grand feeling better after being sick, especially the appetite returning part? Not that my appetite left, it just sort of subdues itself during illness and times of high stress. Well, if you've been checking our Twitter, you'd see that I was craving dumplings and pizza yesterday. Not together, of course. Though I wasn't quite okay enough to trek to Williamsburg, I did make it to Flushing, and I was so glad to be feeling better.

Dumplings!

I knew that Danny had visited the Golden Shopping Mall food court and found some delicious dumplings. Eager to follow his advice, I promptly headed in that direction once off the train, and wrongly entered the first entrance marked "Golden Shopping Mall". I walked down a flight of stairs, into a hot basement area with food stalls, mostly advertising noodles and soup, only one had a single, solitary tray of dumplings. I came to the quick realization that I was in the wrong place. Back up the stairs, out on the street, I walked a few steps down the block before seeing another "Golden Shopping Mall" entrance, this one marked with the beautiful sign "food court" which probably should be with the other entrance because whatever kind of food court this side had, it no longer exists. The only place upstairs to get food was the stall, but not the sign, I recognized from Danny's post, and they had dumplings. Bingo, we were cooking with gas.

Dumplings

Upon entering the stall, I looked up, analyzing the menu when one of the ladies came out from behind the counter saying "You want dumplings?" "Yes, yes, I want dumplings," and handed me a paper menu with numerous marks from its many uses. I chose the napa cabbage and pork, took a seat, and waited patiently while eyeing the soups being eaten by the other patrons; I will be returning, they looked delicious.

Plate of Dumplings

I also witnessed another lady hand packing the dumplings, so these bad boys are fresh. After bringing my plate, the first lady tried her best to make sure I could eat them, first handing me a spoon, and then a fork (I think I impressed them with my chopsticks skillz) before pushing a strange vinegar on me.

Best Vinegar Ever

I'd never had Chinkiang vinegar before, but I am so happy that I let her pour it in my dipping bowl. It's some seriously delicious sauce, more flavorful than soy sauce and my new dipping sauce of choice.

Napa Cabbage & Pork Dumpling

The dumplings themselves were incredible. Fresh, meaty, a little crunch from the cabbage, the dough was thin, light and fluffy, perfectly steamed, and enough seam to keep the filling inside, but not choke you; I made quick work of the eight I bought. These women know what they are doing. I can say without a doubt that they were the best dumplings I've ever had. The next time I'm there, I may have to buy a bag of frozen dumplings to take home, after eating some. Oh, and they were $3, how's that for a cheap lunch?

Blueberry Pocky

Afterwards, I needed to pick up some Chinkiang vinegar, so I walked on over to my favorite Flushing market, found the vinegar and then roamed the aisles. I love roaming the aisles in unusual and foreign environments. I often walked aimlessly through French supermarkets, just to see what I could buy. Usually, you can find me in the sweets aisle. This particular supermarket has a decent selection of Pocky, including blueberry. I love blueberries. I love Pocky. I needed dessert. Mmm, blueberry Pocky. Delicious.

Blueberry Pocky


Shandong Dumplings
Golden Shopping Mall
41-28 Main Street
Flushing
For a SE:NY article about the other food available, click here.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Blondie Watches Lots of TV During Breaks


Not only am I off until the 5th, I'm sick. It happened Tuesday night. This means one thing many hours of TV-watching. My TV-watching led me to the cutest video ever made by the comedy group, Good Neighbor, hope you like it. jump

Friday, December 26, 2008

One Can Only Hope for Better Midtown Lunching Options in 2009

Boo, another Europa
Brownie and I both work in Midtown. Brownie and I often have discussions over where to eat in Midtown. Brownie and I are on Midtown Lunch a lot. Brownie and I avoid chain restaurants. Brownie and I had high hopes for the former Sugo! e Basilico place on 5th Avenue.

Those hopes were dashed Tuesday evening on my walk to Penn Station. I had seen work being done at the new spot, but no evidence as to what the final outcome would be. Alas, the new Europa signage means yet another boring salad/sandwich/soup place. Midtown is being slowly conquered by such places, the two biggest conquistadors being Europa and it's twin, Cosi. I resolve to boycott such establishments in the new year. That's right Cosi, you can keep my free sandwich or salad that on my Cosi card!! I will be taking my lunch dollars elsewhere.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Muppet Family Christmas: Part 5 of 5



And now the conclusion of A Muppet Family Christmas with a medley of Christmas favorites including I Saw Three Ships and The Holly and the Ivy--two family favorites around ye olde Christmas tree at Casa Brownie. What do you want? We're a bunch of WASPS at heart. If an enormous room full of muppets singing and Kermie and Piggy smooching under the mistle toe gets you a little teary eyed consider yourself warned. And for those of you thinking...gee...I wish I had more Muppets to watch on Chrismas...

Enjoy Bert and Ernie in this little Christmas number! Merry Christmas, everyone!


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Need to do a Little Last Minute Shopping for the Foodies in Your Life?

Bacon Wrapping Paper


Might I suggest a visit to the Broadway Panhandler where I scored some excellent bacon wrapping paper and a couple little presents for Lawman...

Bacon Wrapping Paper-1

The wrapping paper was $3.95 for two 20" x 30" sheets. Now I just have to choose who gets the honor of gifts done up in bacon.

Bacon wrapping paper wasn't the only thing that caught my eye. I love fun and unique Christmas ornaments. And if you like to trim your tree with faux food, the Broadway Panhandler has a nice selection of food related ornaments. There were little wine bottle ornaments and sparkly cupcake box ornaments. And piggies!

Shhhhh! Here's what I got Lawman...

It's a sock piggy!


Sock Piggy Ornament



And a knit piggy!


Spotted Piggy



So cute I could just eat them up.

If your Christmas traditions include the "controversial pickle hiding tradition of dubious origins, look no further than Crate and Barrel for your pickle ornament needs.


Pickle Ornaments

Good luck braving the crowds!

Broadway Panhandler
65 East 8th Street
New York, NY 10003

Crate and Barrel SoHo
611 Broadway
New York, NY 10012
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Adorable Christmas Cupcakes!

Adorable One Girl Cupcakes

Last weekend I popped by One Girl Cookies to do a little hot cocoa sampling with Erin and Robyn. Upon arrival I noticed these adorable cupcakes in the window. Cupcakes at One Girl?! Hmmm. This deserved further investigation...

Alas, they didn't have any of the cute Christmas tree cupcakes for sale at the time. Sadness. So we consoled ourselves with a couple of whoopie pies and Robyn offered up bites of her regular vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting ($2.00). The cake was moist yet still toothsome and the frosting wasn't overpoweringly sweet. Yum.

DSC00142

Yesterday I popped in and again they didn't have the little Christmas tree cupcakes but said that they might be making some for sale that afternoon. I don't know what it is about these cupcakes...maybe it's the idea of eating several trees worth of frosting awakens my inner cupcake dinosaur. It's a cute idea for decorating cupcakes for the season and if I can't make it back to snag some, I might give it a try myself at home.

Cute Christmas Cupcakes


One Girl Cookies

68 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY
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Festivus for the Rest of Us

House made of Ginger and Bread
Jean Scardina is some kind of awesome. She was profiled in yesterday's "The Way We Eat" in the New York Times. The lady makes 6,000 cookies during the holidays, and has surpassed Elaine as my new idol.

Gingerbread House
So, I'm not so religious. I'm a shallow, 'not even two times a year' Catholic, but I sure do love holidays. I celebrate them all, Chinese New Year, Bastille Day, and Festivus. This year, I decided to go on a cookie frenzy. At the end, eight different types have been made, almost all will be handed out to family and friends as little packages of happiness (Brownie, I have yours in my desk right this minute). Yet, those weren't my crowning achievement this weekend, making my very first gingerbread house was. I didn't begin liking gingerbread until about three years ago, so making a gingerbread house never really appealed to me. But this year, I decided to do it, using my nephew as an excuse why. He fully realized it was all for me, I was only 'consulting' him on decoration choices. After a near-collapse from not letting the sides dry fully prior to placing the roof on, I'd say my first one came out pretty good, don't you think? Now for some shots of the cookie madness:

Snickerdoddles
Snickerdoodles all wrapped up, waiting to be sent away

Sugar Cookies
I followed Gina DePalma's recipe and guidance.

Russian Tea Cakes
Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies, whatever you call them, these are little nutty sweet pieces of delicious.

Pecan Sables
Pecan Sables, buttery and nutty. At one point, the Mexican wedding cookie and pecan sable doughs got mixed up. Serious tastings occurred in order to save Festivus!

Chocolate Ginger Cookies
Some of Brownie's famous chocolate gingers. I can hope she likes them a little.


By the way, Happy Hanukkah to all out there celebrating it! Mmm, latkes.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Morning Cartoons: A Muppet Family Christmas Part 4 of 5



When Jim Henson's universes collide! Here's where Kermit's nephew Robin discovers a Fraggle hole and they meet the Fraggle Rock gang...

Enjoy! We'll post the final part on Christmas Eve!
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons: A Muppet Family Christmas Part 3 of 5



Grab your cup of cocoa as we return to the snowbound muppets in quite possibly one of my favorite parts in the Muppet Family Christmas Movie. Why, you ask? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret...

As as kid I didn't like Big Bird. At all. He was a little too, um, sensitive and annoying. Come on a giant bird that acts like a two year old? Even my toddler self couldn't relate. So when the Swedish Chef discovers the "gobbla, gobbla humonga" my little heart stirred with hope.

Other highlights...Kermie worrying about Miss Piggy out in the snowstorm (aw, so romantic) and Fozzie's mom referring to Big Bird as a huge canary. Cookie monster eating all the Christmas cookies. Bert as "Mama" in the "Night Before Christmas" pageant. Sam the Eagle bemoaning "Is there nothing sacred?" when the two-headed monster comes on as Santa. Genius. Pure genius.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend Jaunt: Admire the Vintage Food Ads on the Old Timey V Train

Vintage Subway Ride

Sure the V Train is the newest subway line in the NYC subway system, but you wouldn't know it this Sunday. If you happen to be in the 2nd Avenue station at just the right time you can hop the "Nostalgia Train" to Queens and check out the excellent classic subway ads...

A couple of weekends ago while heading into Manhattan I happened to look up at 2nd Avenue and noticed the Nostalgia Train was sitting across the platform. I jumped off my regular old F Train and hopped onto the curious old fashioned train which was primarily composed of R-1 subway cars from the early 1930s.

Vintage Subway Ride

Vintage Subway Ride

The cars are in fantastic shape. I love vintage advertisements and it was cool to see all of the ads for products from that era--hello, Postum!--and also products that continue to have a presence in today's marketplace like Clark Bars and the National Biscuit Company aka Nabisco.

Vintage Subway Ride

Vintage Subway Ride

Look it's the 1950s version of "If you see something, say something"!

DSC00152

Rehabbed subways cars from the 1930s through the 1970s are running on the V line between 2nd Avenue and Queens Plaza. The Nostalgia Train comes but once a year, so don't miss your chance either this Sunday or next Sunday, December 28th. My timing was a little off and I needed to get uptown before the train took off for it's next trip, so I'll definitely try to squeeze in a special ride this weekend. Anything I should check out at Queens Plaza?

DSC00158

Departure times:
From Lower East Side 2 Av station on the V line at:
10:00 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm
From Queens Plaza station at:
10:45 am, 12:15 pm, 1:45 pm, 3:15 pm and 4:45pm

And remember..."Don't be a Sticker..."

DSC00156

For more photos check out my flickr set.
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Don't Be Hasty With $150 Worth of Meat on the Line

Important Sandwich Research
When Zach first announced that Murray's would be holding a Midtown Lunch sandwich contest, I immediately started short-circuiting as evidenced in my first comment. After that minor breakdown, various meats and cheeses began dancing in my head, plans started formulating, a GCT market mission had to occur!!

Since our first foray, many have stepped up including Zach who pretty much schooled us youngins on how to make a sandwich. Brownie and I hadn't had the chance to meet again for a redo, until yesterday. With $150 worth of meat at stake, I knew I shouldn't put down the first combinations I thought of; research and tastings NEEDED to occur. After meeting, I gave Brownie the one rule: everything had to be $13.99/pound or less; that was the very sensitive price point, but you could only have two items max that expensive. Yes, there may have been a spreadsheet involved in my calculations. After cleaning up at both Murray's counters we headed downstairs, and set up shop. During the next half hour of intense research, we both came up with favorites.

The Blue Piggy
Brownie: "The Blue Piggy" - Maple Smoked Ham from VT Smoke and Cure, Murray’s Roasted Pork Loin (marinated in olive oil and covered in fennel, rosemary, and garlic), and Shropshire Blue.

Blondie's Sandwich
Me: Murray's Roast Beef (made with beef from Ottomanelli's), Proscuitto Gran Biscotto, Classic Grafton 2 year Cheddar, and Young Goat Gouda


Unfortunately, only one person can go home with the meat. Stayed tuned to Midtown Lunch to find out who wins, and if you think you have a winning sandwich, enter it in the comments before 5pm EST TODAY!

Murray's Real Salami and Murray's Cheese
Grand Central Market
43rd Street and Lexington Avenue
grandcentralterminal.com
www.murrayscheese.com
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Checking out the Noodle Bar at Woorijip

Hello Kimchi!

I've been going to Woorijip for more years than I can count. It's a Korean cafeteria palace of wonder. So many excellent cheap options! But over time I've gotten into a rut. Nine times out of ten I'll have their spicy pork. Sometimes I'll mix it up with some vegetable pancakes or some pancakes of the krab or vegetable variety and that's enough to make me happy. With the (somewhat) cold weather we've been having I found myself craving soup, so I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and check out Woorijip's Noodle Bar...

If you just get takeout at Woorijip you might never really take notice of the Noodle Bar, a little ordering counter by the kitchen in the back. The Noodle Bar is open Mondays through Fridays for lunch from 9:00am(!) to 2:00pm and for dinner from 3:00pm to 7:00pm.

Woorijip Noodle Bar Hours


The day that I went they had six options. Everything sounded good, but my friend and I were most drawn to the ramen with egg ($5.00) and the spicy kimchi pork and ham soup--the most expensive soup on the menu at $7.00. The two ladies at the Noodle Bar moved the line along quickly. And within a few minutes we each had a steaming bucket of soup. Both soups came with a small side of kimchi and my spicy pork kimchi and ham soup came with a side of rice as well. If you look at this photo you can see that the rice is in a fairly standard pint-ish sized container and the soup dwarfs it.

Bucket of Kimchi Stew!


Both soups were good and filling. You could eat half of the serving and be satisfied. The pork soup had kimchi, pork, rice cakes, ramen, SPAM, and pieces of hot dogs. Kind of random and yet it worked. Definitely warms you up, too. Halfway through the soup I needed wanted to take my sweater off. By the end of the meal I walked to the subway sans jacket.

The fresh egg was a good addition to the ramen--sort of reminiscent of an egg drop soup with those lovely little egg threads. Soups by their very nature tend to be salty, but I didn't feel that either of these were overly so. Definitely not as salty as the soups at Sapporo.

Steaming Ramen from Woorijip


I tried to hit up the noodle bar again this week, but alas, the early luncher gets the bucket of soup. I stepped away from my desk a wee bit too late and arrived right in the noodle bar dead zone. No soup for me. But wait! What's this in the Woorijip fridge? Kimchi Stew with Pork for $3.00?!

Kimchi Stew with Pork


Ok, the portion size is smaller, but this was actually just right for lunch, especially when paired with the $2.50 Radish Kimchi Bibimbap which came with a little scallion pancake. Yay! A different and satisfying lunch for under $6. My work here is done.

Kimchi Bibimbap


Woorijip
12 W 32nd St, New York 10001
Between 5th Ave & Broadway
212-244-1115
24/7!
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