Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Only a Couple of Days Left to Enjoy Dine In Brooklyn!


These past couple of weeks Ms. Blondie has been running the show while I've been off in Colombia visiting Lawman's family and gorging on amazing Colombian food which I'll be blogging up in due course--you will be hungry, you will be jealous, I promise. There aren't a ton of Colombian restaurants in the city with just a few days left to enjoy Dine In Brooklyn and Bogota Bistro, one of my favorite restaurants in Park Slope is definitely worth checking out...

I'm not sure what is being offered for their special Dine-In-Brooklyn menu, but I've always enjoyed whatever I've ordered at Bogotá. I highly recommend their ajiaco, a traditional Colombian soup made from three potatoes with chicken, capers, corn, and topped with avocado and cream. It's very hard to find a good ajiaco in the States because the spice mix needed for the soup isn't readily available and neither are the papas criollas (tiny potatoes native to Colombia) and the ajiaco at Bogota is delicious.

Lawman typically goes for their Bandeja Paisa, which gives you a good sampling of several traditional Colombian foods--skirt steak, pork chicharron, arepa, rice & beans, maduros, avocado and it's topped with a fried egg.

Bogotá Bisto has happy hour all night on Wednesdays with discounts on classic mojitos, caipirinhas, sangrias and margaritas and on all imported latin american beers all of which would pair nicely with the Dine-In Brooklyn deal and might make tomorrow an excellent time to visit.

Bogotá Bisto
141 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217-4420

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bacon, Bacon, Oink, Oink, Bacon

Bacon Cupcakes!!
Holy bacon, Dewey Decimator and I hit up the Bacon Takedown yesterday, and we were not disappointed. There were lights and cameras (supplied by the lovely folks from Good Morning America), and over 20 different bacon contestants. And we ate them all! Really, we did, and have the bacon hangovers to prove it.

GMA Interview
Dewey and I have learned our lesson regarding these takedowns (take note Rachel!). We arrived early to scoop out the scene and get some pictures before the organized chaos reigned. This time we got to witness Taryn Winter Brill doing interviews with the contestants, and the hysterical Matt Timms. But you don't care about that, you just want to hear about the piggies. Well, with so many photos and so much to cover, I'm running through the highlights and winners!

First, the real meal types:

#22-Bacon Sloppy Joe
Nick Suarez (the unofficial takedown king) brought bacon sloppy joes.

#18-Home Cured Bacon
Electric bacon was home cured, quite a feat.

#28 F.U.B.J. involved many home made things

He brought a deep fryer!
and a deep-fryer!

#10-Bacon and Pork Shoulder Tamales
One of Dewey's favorites was the bacon and pork shoulder tamales.

Then there were the desserts, many, many bacon desserts:

#16-Bacon Cupcakes
Kumquat's Bacon Cupcakes

Brownie with bacon whip cream
Brownie with fresh bacon whip cream

#20-Caramel Bacon Cookies
Caramel bacon cookies

Bacon Cake
Bacon cake

#1-Bacon Ice Cream
Bacon ice cream

#7-Bacon and Avocado Ice Cream
Bacon-avocado ice cream

#12-Melissa's Mutant Bacon Turtles
and bacon turtles!

All in all, a very commendable showing by all participants. Nothing blatantly didn't work, some combinations just went together better than others. They really set the bar high for the next bacon takedown. But there has to be winners:


#18-Electric Bacon
Electric Bacon (#18)

People's Choice:

#1-Bacon Ice Cream
Bacon Ice Cream (#1)

Bacon Ice Cream, #1!
Matt congratulating the winner

View my full Bacon Takedown set here (I took a LOT of photos!)

More takedowns will be announced soon, including a vegetarian one (for you, Bez) and the summer Chili Takedown appears to be on!! If you want to stay in the loop for the next Takedown, I highly suggest checking out Chili-Takedown.com regularly or following Matt's Twitter.

ADDENDUM: For the GMA clip, click here. Don't bother looking for Dewey or myself because we successfully avoided the cameras.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daring Bakers March: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna


It's always exciting when the month's Daring Baker challenge is revealed and this month was no exception. Though my great grandparents hailed from Italy and Lawman and I eat our fair share of pasta, I've never made fresh pasta, as in actually made the noodles. Until now...

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. And what a wonderful challenge it was.

Please visit Mary, Melinda or Enza's site for the full recipe and to see their fantastic work.

I really loved making the pasta. I don't have a pasta machine, so I rolled it by hand on my coffe table and it worked out quite well. The whole process of making a lasagne from scratch is a labor of love and definitely requires timing and preparation. There was a pork shoulder sale the week that I decided to make the lasagne so I substituted the butchered pork shoulder for the beef and veal. In terms of timing I first assembled the pasta and set it aside to rest so the gluten could relax and I set about butching the pork shoulder and slow cooking my sauce. By the time I turned my attention back to the pasta it had been a couple of hours and the dough was very workable. I followed the instructions of a fellow DB and cut my round of dough into 8 parts then I rolled each of those sections into "snakes" and then flattened and rolled the snakes out until they were wafer thin. Each one of the snakes made two sheets of lasagne and plenty of fresh pasta scraps for a second meal for two.

Daring bakers Lasagne

All in all, I was very pleased with this recipe and I think I'll make the spinach pasta again, perhaps as fettucine for Easter.

Congratulations to our Daring Baker queens Ivonne and Lis on the launch of their awesome new site The Daring Kitchen and The Daring Cooks. Hats off to both of you ladies! I look forward to many more wonderful challenges.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Pigs of the World Unite!!

All week, ALL WEEK, I have thought about one thing: bacon and how much bacon I will be downing tomorrow at the Bacon Takedown. Hells. Yes. The Dewey Decimator and I will be there to eat piggies in spades. So, if you need something to do Sunday evening, come to Williamsburg and eat bacon! (and heckle at hipsters, it'll be exciting!!)

The Bacon Takedown begins at 5pm on Sunday evening. It's $10 to eat all the bacon you can. Click here for any more information.

Radegast Beer Hall
113 North 3rd Street
(718) 963-3973

Friday, March 27, 2009

B&B's Fried Fish Sandwich Battle Royale

Fried Fish Sandwich Refuse
After reading Zach's annual Lenten lunch roundup, Blondie and I decided it was time to put the fried fish sandwiches of Midtown to the test. Ok, maybe that's an overstatement...I decided and sent Blondie friendly (read: nagging) emails until she agreed to accompany on my four fried fish sandwich challenge. She truly is a good friend. One chilly Friday afternoon we set out with $20 intent on determining whose fried fish sandwich reigns supreme...

One of the reasons I especially wanted Blondie to join me in this challenge is that she's done a fried fish taste off before between Burger King and McDonald's. This was several years back and Mickey D's was the clear winner in her book. For me, the McDonald's vs. Burger King fish sandwich challenge was decided in high school. Every Friday afternoon was yearbook day and as the co-Editor-in-Chief, I had to make sure the staff was fed. During most of the year that meant porchetta or roast turkey sandwiches from the local Italian deli, but during Lent it was fried fish sandwiches and fries and our allegiance was strongly in the pro-BK Big Fish camp. All of this is to say that Blondie and I entered this challenge with certain biases, but open minds. And we were both surprised with the results.

McDonald's Fillet o' Fish
First up, the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish®. Probably the most famous of the options the Filet-O-Fish® weighed in at 5oz, 380 calories and 18 grams of fat. During Lent McDonald's tends to run Filet-O-Fish® specials. In Manhattan that means 2 Filet-O-Fish® for $4, or 1 Filet-O-Fish® for regular price which will run you a little over $4 with tax. Oddly enough in Brooklyn at the 9th Street McDonald's I saw 2 Filet-O-Fish® advertised for $3, just one more reason why Brooklyn is better than Manhattan, I suppose. Now to the sandwich...the bun was typical industrial McDonald's fare--squishy and not particularly tasty. And in my opinion the same could be said for the fish fillet. It left sort of a bitter and unpleasant aftertaste. If I were drunk, perhaps the grease from the Filet-O-Fish® might sop up the alchol and make this a more palatable option, but as long as I'm sober which is 99.9997% of the time, I'd give these a pass even with the cheaper Brooklyn deal.

Burger King Big Fish
Next, the Burger King BK BIG FISH® Sandwich which weighed in at 8.75oz, 640 calories and 32 grams of fat. The bun was better than the one from McDonalds, it actually had a bit of bite to it. Blondie reckons that they changed their fish flavor chemical company to the same one as McDonalds because the taste seemed different to her. The fish flavor seemed different to me as well, sort of chemically lemony. All in all better than McDonald's in my opinion, but my days of craving this sandwich ended when the yearbook wrapped.

Wendy's Fillet of Fish
The Wendy's Fish Fillet sandwich was new to both of us. They've been pimping the "hand cut, panko breaded cod fillets" on late night tv for weeks so I was intrigued. This sandwich weighed in at 6 ounces with 470 calories and 24 grams of fat and was the most instantly appetizing of the bunch. The fish fillet looked crispy and golden, and it was. The bun was toothsome and the lettuce fresh. Though we both had our prior fried fish fast food allegiances, Blondie and I both had to admit that Wendy's really brought their A-game. This was hands down the winner of the fast food variety. A worthy lunchtime pick. The Wendy's Fish Fillet sandwich goes for $3.99 plus tax and is only available for a limited time. We got ours from the semi hidden Wendy's in the Rock Center concourse.

Kim's Aunt Fried Fish Sandwich
Last, but certainly not least, the fried whiting sandwich from Kim's Aunt cart. I've read much about this famous 45th Street cart staple, but for whatever reason, I've never given their food a try. I guess a long time ago I decided that as much as I love cart food, I wasn't going to eat fish from a cart. It was just a line I wasn't going to cross. But I did. Yes, dear readers, I did it for you. And I'm actually pretty glad I did, because Kim's Aunt's fried fish sandwich was the best overall.

Kim's Aunt--the fried fish sandwich heavy weight champion
The fish was fresh and mild tasting (not overly fishy) and fried right there. You can have it on white or wheat bread--not the best bread, but pleasant if a little messy. This sandwich was a beast weighing in at 10.9 ounces (um, yes, I did weigh it on a Weight Watchers scale) and packed with fish.

Inside Kim's Aunt Fried Fish Sandwich
If you don't have a huge appetite you could definitely share this with a friend and both come away satisfied. And if you do have a huge appetite, I have a feeling you'll like both the size and the $3.50 price tag. Totally worth it. This is a sandwich that I'll definitely go back for.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Strawberry-licious Blondie-ness

Strawberry Blonde
When Brownie posted about the March Shake Shack custard flavors, more than a few readers and friends said "you know you have to get the Strawberry Blonde, right?" Of course I did! I should get the Giggles too since I giggle on little schoolgirl levels.

They were used
No, the heat lamps still weren't on. They can just forget it now.

Last Thursday I wandered on over to a no-line Shake Shack, much different than earlier in the week, to get my desired custard. It's strawberry deliciousness and the right consistency. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you should go get some of the last batch, right now!!!

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park
23rd Street and Madison Avenue

Upper West Side
366 Columbus Ave (at 77th Street)
Twitter feed

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bobby Flay Shouldn't Throw Down with Queens' Italians

Bobby, there's this little thing called the Mafia; its heart beats in Queens. I went to school with their children. You never messed with them because they would at the very least, break your face; at the very most, kill your entire family and dog. That said, he threw down with some old-school Italians from Durso's. It's airing tonight.

Hi Dessert Truck!
"Throwdown with Bobby Flay" has been filming a lot in New York, most recently doing Bûche de Noël vs. François Payard, and Chocolate Bread Pudding vs. the Dessert Truck. Bobby lost both of those. For the Throwdown, Durso's is making an Osso Buco Ravioli made from "fresh veal shank delicately braised with fresh vegetables and then slow-roasted for several hours." Sounds wonderful to me, I may have to go pick up a few boxes. I do not know who wins, so tune in at 9:00pm EST tonight on the Food Network (check local listings). I will have to catch it on repeat due to my severe LOST addiction and lack of DVR.

ADDENDUM: I hear that Bobby did win this Throwdown with his cheese ravioli.

189-01 Crocheron Avenue
Flushing, NY 11358
(718) 358-1311

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns

After all the cupcakes and cheese on Sunday, I found myself staring at the hot cross buns sign at Amy's Bread. I'd heard Brownie rave about these buns to no end, could they really be THAT good? It's just a bun with some icing and currants, what's so awesome about that?

Amy's Hot Cross Buns Sign
Hot Cross Buns are a Lenten tradition, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Amy's has them on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays during Lent, and then everyday during Holy Week. Brownie says these go fast, but I went late on Sunday afternoon and there were plenty to spare. Maybe they sell out during Holy Week?

These are also baked in the traditional English way with currants embedded inside, as opposed to the more American candied citron. Seeing as my family only pretends to be Catholic on questionnaires, I didn't really know what to expect when I bought this $1.50 beauty. The vanilla icing was a bit too sugary, but I did like the sweet bread inside, it was fluffy and light. I could take or leave the currants, they didn't add much to my bun with their sweetness overwhelmed by the frosting. I would thoroughly enjoy this as a regular bun sans frosting and avec butter.

This hot cross bun was bought at the Bleecker Street location of Amy's.

Amy's Bread
250 Bleecker Street (at Leroy Street)
(212) 675-7802

75 Ninth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)
(212) 462-4338

672 Ninth Avenue (between 46th and 47th Streets)
(212) 977-2670

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Samoas and Thin Mints are Where It's At

Bag of Cookies!!!
Like we relayed a few weeks ago, during Girl Scout Cookie season, New Yorkers are lucky enough to have a cookie cupboard for cookie-buying should they not know any actual Girl Scouts. I fall in that category, but wasn't able to stop by the cupboard and pick up cookies until last week. Then the heartbreak began...

It all started so wonderful, I bought six (6) boxes of cookies, including one each of the new flavor, Dulce de Leche and Lemon Chalet Creams. The air was filled with excitement at getting home and trying the new ones.

Dulce de Leche
Dulce de Leche aka big downgrade.

The caramel swirl was too cloying, and the cookie was way too crunchy for me. Incredibly underwhelming as a cookie, especially when the other caramelly treat is the Samoa. These don't hold a candle to the Samoas.

Lemon Chalets
Lemon Chalet Creams aka the "meh"

Inside Lemon Chalet Cream
They're lemony; the cookies are crunchy, but not hard; and the cream filling is creamy enough. There's a lightness, sunshine if you will, and a good non-chocolate cookie. In a blind taste test, not that I did a blind taste test, I would pick these as a 'diet cookie' except there's nothing diet about them (170 calories for 3) placing them firmly in the 'meh' category.

Inside Tagalong
Now for my beef with the Tagalong aka Peanut Butter Patty aka cookie version of a Reese's peanut butter cup

The Tagalong and Samoa have battled for #1 Girl Scout cookie in my book for about 20 years now; #3 is firmly Thin Mints. For me, the best part of the Tagalong was the ample peanut butter filling which I would scrap off with my teeth and eat separately. Upon opening the package this year, I immediately noticed the lack of peanut butter! There should be half cookie, half peanut butter, but not anymore. Tagalong, you've moved to the #3 spot.

For those of you still jonesing, or needing a refill, the cookie cupboard will be going strong until they run out of cookies. The cookies are available on the 6th floor of 43 West 23rd Street on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hours are as follows:

Tuesdays: 12:30-4:30
Wednesdays: 2:30-6:30
Thursdays: 12:30-4:30

I recommend bringing your own (reusable) bag as they only have thin white plastic ones.

The Girl Scout Council of Greater New York
43 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010-4283
Tel: (212) 645-4000

Monday, March 23, 2009

No, Not You Too, Batch!!

Early Friday morning, word came over the wire, or my Google Reader, that Pichet Ong's 10th street eateries, P'ONG and Batch were closing this very weekend!! What! Not the very same place where I first met Rachel and Nichelle? My little (wooden) heart can only take saying goodbye to some many things in one weekend!

Batch Case
But yes, it was true. Fortunately all hope is not lost as Pichet's creations will be available by special order until the bigger and better Batch opens in late summer. I still had to get on over there and have a goodbye cupcake or two.

Carrot Salted Caramel Cupcake
After much agonizing, Bez chose the Carrot Salted Caramel for her FIRST Batch experience. "Mmm, delicious; that's some damn cupcake!"-her official opinion. I'd say she was a fan, and will probably be visiting the new store with me.

Bacon Pumpkin and Spicy Apple
I originally was only going to go with a flavor I'd been dying to try, but hadn't found the chance, the Bacon Caramel Pumpkin. I'd been hoping to try it with Brownie since she's a big fan of putting bacon on cupcakes. Then I saw Rachel talking about the Spicy Apple Crisp. Decisions, decisions, I can't make them! I went with both.

Inside Bacon Caramel Pumpkin
The Bacon Caramel Pumpkin was heavy on the porcine taste, and the chocolate cake was moist and rich. For me, these two aspects overwhelmed the pumpkin and caramel flavor completely. If you're a fan of bacon and chocolate, this should definitely be on your "to try" cupcake list.

Spicy Apple Crisp Cupcake
The Spicy Apple Crisp was interesting, in a good way. The apple cake is moist and flavorful; the crisp on top adds a nice crunch you don't usually get with cupcakes, and I was a huge fan of that. Then you had, what I believe, is chipotle jelly as the filling. Something about the texture of the jelly turned me off, too gelatinous for a cupcake, and if you bit wrong, the spice REALLY came through. I'm a fan of the spicy dessert, but I think this could be perfect sans spice.

ADDENDUM: Per Pichet's Facebook, Batch will be open for at least a few more days!!

Stay tuned for news of Batch's reopening, this time in Chelsea and with ice cream!! Until then, you can place a special order by calling (212) 929-0250 or visiting batchnyc.com.

Farewell My Tangy Stinky Roquefort!!

Roquefort D'Argental
and Irish oatmeal and San Pellegrino which I was just learning is quite useful in cleansing the palate. President George "Dubya" Bush is like herpes, the ex that just keeps on making their presence felt even after you've moved onto a new relationship. The next recrudescence is scheduled to begin April 23rd with an increased tariff on European luxury goods.

Roquefort on Toast
For those of you who don't know, on January 13th, the U.S. Trade Representative's Office approved the tariff increase on European luxury goods because the E.U. bans American hormone-filled beef. This duty that would triple the cost of all Roquefort cheese, and double the price of other edible goods. Scheduled to begin today, it has been pushed back a month to April 23rd, giving hope of some resolution. Regardless, Murray's Cheese, that lovely hamlet of cheese wonder, stuck to its plan of throwing a "Goodbye Roquefort!" party yesterday; of course, Bez and I moseyed on over to eat cheese! Murray's gave a small tasting in their classroom area with two kinds of cheese to replace Roquefort with, should this tariff go through.

Persillé du Malzieu
The first replacement we tasted was the Persillé du Malzieu, a sheep's milk cheese made just beyond the boundaries of Roquefort. It is punchy and creamy, but I didn't find it as smooth as the Roquefort. Of the two, we liked this one more as a replacement.

Shaker Blue
The other replacement cheese was Shaker Blue from Hudson Valley's own Old Chatham Sheepherding Company. We found this to be texturally more like a feta than Roquefort, and definitely not as pungent.

For those of you wondering what other European goods will be double the price, here's a short list:
  • Salted, in brine, dried, frozen, or smoked hams, shoulder, or cuts thereof, with bone-in, of swine
  • Fresh, chilled, or frozen edible offal of bovine animals
  • Ornamental dried flowers (French lavender?!)
  • Fresh, chilled, or frozen meat and edible offal of poultry (foie gras)
  • Truffles, fresh and chilled
  • Sausages
  • Rolled or flaked oats
  • Chocolate weighing 2kg or less
  • Lingonberry and raspberry jam (better go stock up on the Bonne Maman)
  • French chestnuts
  • Italian mineral waters or aerated waters (e.g. San Pellegrino)

San Pellegrino

For more information on the tariff, click here.

Murray's Cheese
254 Bleecker Street (downtown end of Cornelia Street)
(888) MY-CHEEZ or (212) 243-3289
Grand Central Market
44th Street and Lexington Avenue