Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Congrats to the Sofi Winners!

Mari's Brownies

The Sofi Awards were held at the Fancy Food Show last night at the Javits center in a ceremony hosted by Ming Tsai noted chef (and first celebrity chef crush of yours truly). And I'm excited that some of Blondie and my favorites from the show were among the big winners...

The "Baked Goods, Baking Ingredient or Cereal" Sofi went to Mari's New York Caramel Sea Salt Brownie. Represent NYC! Mari makes a mean brownie and the Caramel Sea Salt ones are especially delicious.

Maris' Brownies

The "Cheese or Dairy Product" Sofi was awarded to Cypress Grove's Chevre Truffle Tremor. This cheese is simply blissful. Melt in your mouth truffle perfection. Every cheese from Cypress Grove is delicious, but Truffle Tremor is "do you think they'll notice I've been standing here eating their cheese for half an hour" delicious.

Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor

The "Classic" Sofi went to Sarabeth's Kitchen Blood Orange Marmalade. I'll always be grateful to Sarabeth's for introducing me to the wonders wonders of canning. In college I fell in love with their jams and they inspired me to make my own.


1,997 entries across all 33 categories. 128 Silver Finalists and 550 buyers casting ballots. Click for a full list of 2009 Sofi Gold Winners and Silver Finalists. Congratulations to all winners and finalists!

For more photos of the Fancy Food Show check out our flickr set.

Monday, June 29, 2009

B&B Take on the Fancy and UnFancy Food Show(s)

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix
Last year, Blondie and I missed out on the UnFancy Food Show and there was no way we were going to let that happen again. But we did want to check out the Fancy Food Show as well and since both of us have full time gigs, we can't hit FF during the week. Could we do both Fancy and UnFancy in a single Sunday?! Where there is a will there is a way...

Here are some of our highlights from each.

Our friends at Peanut Butter & Company are going to be launching new peanut butter baking mixes towards the end of the summer. The Peanut Butter Brownies were fudgy and delicious.

PB & co new baking mixes
Speaking of mixes. Vosges Chocolate now not only has a new Mo's Bacon Bar in Dark Chocolate but also a Mo's Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix. Breakfast perfection. It was hard to step away from the Vosges and before we did we had a change to try their Naga Ice Cream, a blend of coconut and curry. Amazing. Completely different from any ice cream I've ever tried.

Naga ice cream
Blondie was exited to hit the Chobani booth and try their brand new pomegranate yourt. Loved the crunch of the real pomegranate seeds. This should hit grocery shelves in two weeks.

Pomagranate Chobani
And how could we resist Mari's Brownies? Luxurious and rich these brownies are a cut above. Their Caramel Sea Salt has the perfect balance of chewy caramel, fudgy chocolate and Cyprian sea salt.

Mari's Brownies
Next stop, Williamsburg for the UnFancy Food Show.

UnFancy Food Show
Ricotta cheese, bread, olive Oil, salt & pepper from Salvatore Brooklyn. Light, creamy, simple and delicious...

Nunu Chocolates Salt Caramels: totally natural, individually handmade, and completely delicious...

Nunu's chocolates
Garlicky and tangy pickles from McClure...

McClures Pickles from UnFancy Food.
Crunchy and delicious greens from Queens Farm...

Greens from Queens Farm
Had I not been down to my very last dollar I would have picked up one of these awesome Brooklyn Based tote bags. Fortunately you can order them online. Lawman, are you reading this?

Brooklyn Based Tote Bag
Of course we had to hit the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck. By late afternoon a number of the flavors were sold out.

Van Leeuween menu
No problem. We'll take the strawberry!

Strawberry Ice Cream from Van Leeuween
This week Van Leeuwen is going to be launching Earl Grey Tea flavored ice cream from their trucks--they now have 3! Made with organic & fair trade tea from Rishi. Can't wait to try it. To keep apprised their whereabouts follow them on twitter.

Probably one of the most refreshing things we had all day was the Raspberry Green Tea sweetened with Agave from the Green Pirate Juice Truck. Perfect for the hot and humid summer weather.

Raspberry Green tea from the Green Pirate Juice Truck

Here's a pic of their awesome bio-diesel run truck from earlier last weekend in Park Slope. If I had any room left I would have tried out one of their amazing sounding smoothies...


With empty wallets and full tummies Blondie and I ended our day as ever good summer day should end...ice cream cone and iced tea in hand walking home with a friend.

For more photos of Fancy and UnFancy Food check out our flickr set.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blueberry in Doughnut Form

Blueberry Doughnut from the Doughnut Plant
During the past few weeks, I've been pondering my blueberry love, which is closing in upon obsession. Besides the regular blueberries in my cereal-Wyman's wild frozen if fresh aren't available-there have lately been many blueberry muffins, a blueberry cake, and blueberry Italian ice. This love seems to have grown out of like sometime during last summer, and I'm not going to fight it. Fortunately, Doughnut Plant and Coworker Friend Dos share this love of mine.

Blueberry Doughnut from the Doughnut Plant
Early Tuesday morning, while waiting patiently for my morning coffee, a new doughnut was spotted at Joe. Thoughts that ran through my head:
"What is this? It's purple. Could it be? What does that sign say? YES, HALLELUJAH, PRAISE THE LORD! I don't know if I can hold out for Brownie. I may have to eat this sooner. Coworker Friend Dos likes blueberries and eating. We are going to share this. This means I should spill the beans about the blog. I don't care, it's a blueberry doughnut. Oh, it's my turn."

Blueberry Doughnut
Like almost all Doughnut Plant flavors, the blueberry taste is very subtle to almost nonexistent, but I do love the blueberry purple color inside and out. Dos had just finished eating a greasy breakfast, and didn't taste any blueberry at all. At $3, I would be hesitant to buy it again; I'd rather get the other latest flavor making the rounds, banana pecan. Nor would I say this is a must over the Krispy Kreme Blueberry Cake.

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street, between Suffolk and Clinton
(212) 505-3700
Tuesday through Sunday: 6:30am until 6:30pm

This doughnut was found at:
Joe the Art of Coffee
Graybar Passage, Grand Central Station
Lexington Avenue between 44th and 43rd Street

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dropping by Katchkie at the Port Authority Greenmarket

Baby Spinach from Katchkie at the Port Authority

Last week I set aside my deep-seated hatred for the Port Authority and braved the rain to check out the new year round greenmarket in the North Wing. The Katchkie Booth was in full swing and I got the scoop on Kathkie’s booth at the upcoming Rock Center Market in July...

Like last year, Rock Center Market is due to start up at the end of July and will run Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays through August 28th. This summer instead of Wednesdays, Katchkie will have a presence in the market on Fridays. So for those of you who have shortened summer hours on Fridays, be sure to stop by to pick up some ingredients for the weekend or lunch on your way home.


If you can’t wait until the end of July, Katchkie has plenty of early summer greens like organic lettuce, spinach, kale, turnips and garlic scapes among other goodies at the Port Authority on Thursdays from 8 am until 6 pm.

Baby Turnips from Katchkie

Prepared foods are made from seasonal ingredients and last week included spinach salad, homemade cream of broccoli soup, and grilled vegetable sandwiches.


Moroccan Mint tea is one of my favorite summery drinks so I decided to get a cup of Katchkie’s Basil-Spearmint Tea for $2. The mint and basil really worked nicely together with a touch of honey. Fresh and delicious.

Basil Spearmint Tea from Katchkie at the Port Authority

By the time Katchkie gets to Rock Center tomatoes and other late summer veggies will be in season ensuring plenty of gazpacho and ratatouille. Can’t wait!

Katchkie Farms Gazpacho

Port Authority Green Market
North Wing, Main Concourse
Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street

Prospect Park is Getting Its Cheesesteak Factory at Long Last

Windsor Terrace Cheesesteak Factory
As a frequent patron of Bene's Pizza and Uncle Louie G's on Prospect Park Southwest, I've often wondered about the little Cheesesteak Factory storefront sandwiched, if you will, between the two. In all my visits for pizza and ice cream it's never been open. Until now...

The Prospect Park Southwest Cheesesteak Factory officially opened yesterday. Not surprisingly their bread and butter is cheesesteaks of both the beef and chicken variety. I was pleased to see broccoli rabe getting some love on their menu. Their Prospect Park Cheesesteak: grilled onions, broccoli rabe (or spinach) with provolone cheese sounds pretty excellent.

The menu also includes Italian sausages, hot dogs, hamburgers and waffle fries. Mmm...waffle fries. And fear not vegetarians, there's more for you than just fries and onion rings. Veggie options include the veggie sandwich (grilled eggplant, roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, or spinach), the veggie supreme (grilled green peppers, portabella mushrooms, onions, grilled eggplant and grilled zuchinni) and a veggie burger.

Lawman and I might just have to hit these guys up next time we decide to picnic in the park. Any early Cheesesteak Factory reports from the field?

Windsor Terrace Cheesesteak Factory

Cheesesteak Factory
157 Prospect Park Southwest
Brooklyn, NY 11218
(718) 851-7900
Monday through Thursday and Sunday 11:00am until 9:00pm
Friday and Saturday 11:00am until midnight
Click for an enlarged menu: part 1 and part 2.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Travels with Blondie: There is More To South Flo-rida Than Miami

Whenever I asked about dining in south Florida, I got either no real suggestions, or an expensive spot in Miami. But south Florida isn't just Miami, and I wasn't going anywhere near South Beach. My family is further up the coast, between Boynton Beach and Coral Springs. Luckily for me, the locals and snow birds expect good food and cool spots.

Dada Entrance
One of those spots is Dada in Delray Beach, a hip restaurant located in a converted 1920's home. Inside is a mixture of eclectic vintage furniture accompanied by unusual, modern paintings giving the place a cool vibe which allows it to be a great venue for artist's shows. While we ate, there was an art showing occurring, as well as a jam session happening on an outside stage.

Strawberry Mojito
Their drink menu is extensive with many different versions of mojitos and margaritas. I chose the strawberry mojito, it came with fresh muddled strawberries and was quite refreshing and delicious.

Grilled Brie Appetizer
The menu is modern American with a few local influences. For an appetizer, we went with the grilled brie soaked in garlic honey butter. Everything in the world is made better by soaking in garlic honey butter. They could have been more generous with the fruit aspect to the platter, but I can overlook that for garlic honey butter.

Crab Cakes
On the entree side, my cuz got the crab cakes with sherry mustard and Sriacha. The cakes were perfectly cooked, tasted fresh, and well-spiced. This was definitely not canned crab.

Chicken Del Rio
I decided on the Chicken Del Rio-chicken over a black bean puree, topped with an avocado and melted provolone cheese. The chicken was moist, and though I wasn't so sure about what could be a sharper cheese, the flavors did come together pretty well.

Chocolate Fondue Dessert
Dessert ended up being a three-way sharing-a friend had shown up-of the chocolate fondue with pound cake, fresh fruit, and marshmallows. The chocolate was rich and dark, maybe 65-75% cocoa. The chocolate was a little too solid for my tastes; I felt it could have been warmer and more fluid.

Night Scene
Overall, the food isn't mind-blowing and could be viewed as a little overpriced for South Florida, but it is very good quality and beat my expectations for South Florida dining. The ambiance, and the ability to eat, then hang out all night can completely make up for the price.

52 North Swinton Avenue
Delray Beach, FL 33444
(561) 330-DADA

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

B&B Hit Up The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Vanilla Soft Serve with Dulce de Leche and Nilla Wafers from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Blondie and I were both headed out the door at the same time for lunch yesterday. She had no plans. I had big ones. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck plans that is...

Ever since Blondie and I read about the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and their awesome soft serve toppings on Serious Eats, we've been dying to check it out and lunch yesterday was our first opportunity.

Things to know about The BGICT:

1) Much like Superman masquerades as your everyday joe, Clark Kent, the BGICT operates out of a standard issue Mister Softee truck. Keep track of their location on twitter and look with the Mister Softee with the BGICT sign on the side.

2) Unlike 99% of the Mister Softee trucks in the city they have the prices listed. Hooray! It's $3 for a soft serve cone or cup with standard toppings included. Add $1 if you want fancy toppings like dulce de leche, cayenne, sriracha, maple syrup, and Nilla wafers. It's $5 if you want a shake.

3) Doug Quint, the BGIC man is hilarious and awesome. He will totally make your day.

I got the vanilla soft serve in a cone with crushed Nilla wafers and dulce de leche. $4 and absolutely delicious. My love for Mister Softee vanilla soft serve is well documented and the BGICT's toppings line up takes soft serve to the next level.

Blondie went for the vanilla soft served stuffed ice cream sandwich slathered with Nutella. Also, $4 and let's face it, what isn't made better with a good slathering of Nutella?

Nutella Ice Cream Sandwich

I've heard that sea salt, and bacon might be offered as toppings--all I can say is, please, please bacon! And chocolate covered bacon! Oooh, or how about dark chocolate dip with dulce de leche and sea salt? Mmmmmm. Salted caramel and chocolate. I hope it's a very long summer...

Doug and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck!

For location check out The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's twitter.

Photo of the Day: A Little Bumblebee Under the Brooklyn Bridge

Little Bee and the Brooklyn Bridge
Yesterday kicked off Pollinator Week in NYC with the Beekeeper's Ball on the Water Taxi Beach at South Street Seaport ...

If you missed out you can still catch some of the Pollinator Week fever with the following upcoming events:
*Sample some New York Nectar at the following restaurants who are featuring local honey from 6/22 until 6/28.
*Rally to Legalize Beekeeping in NYC at City Hall on Tuesday, June 23th at 12:30 PM.
*After reading Beowulf, did you wonder about mead? Wonder no more at the Hidden Hives Tour on Thursday June 25.
*Hit the Honey Fest at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, June 26th.

Honey Bees are in crisis. Save the bees and save the fruits and veggies you love. Learn more about Honey Bees and Beekeeping Legalization here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Please Note Where the Emergency Exits are Located

Front part
As I let you know last week, Southwest Airlines has teamed up with 'wichcraft, and opened The Southwest Porch on the SW corner of Bryant Park. I was able to stop by for some lunch during their grand opening last Friday, while they were entertaining students from MS 8, the Jamaica, Queens school Southwest is partnered with for the Middle School Mentors initiative.

Friday with its warm sunshine ended up being the perfect lunch out day too; it actually felt like summer was coming. The menu isn't very extensive, only four sandwiches to chose from, and three snacks. The same goes for the drinks menu where it was good to see that they're using Six Point and Blue Point brews.

We ended up going nonalcoholic, airplane water for me, sodas for the others.

Soft Shell Crab Sandwich
Debra and I went for the soft shell crab sandwich. It was fresh, a little crunchy, slightly greasy, and amazing. I was actually impressed by the quality of the bread, as well as the crab. At the price, I don't see myself getting it every Friday this summer, but I wouldn't say no if offered it.

Southwestern Pork Sandwich
Our friend got the southwestern pork sandwich, which was devoured. The avocado was fresh, the pork delicious. The mayo could be applied a little better, it sort of looks slapped on like an afterthought.

All three sandwiches are a little messy, so make sure your waiter brings you napkins. Also, they aren't charging tax making the tip a little harder to figure out-I'm of the double the tax school. Though we were surrounded by kids, the location is enjoyable. On the park side of the porch has public furniture, making a picnic lunch possible.

After Hours
After hours, almost all the furniture is open for public use. I don't think everything will stay this clean for the entire summer, making this a must-do only for the next week or so. After the holiday, it could get a little dicey.

The Southwest Porch opens June 19th
Bryant Park 40th St and 6th Ave corner (aka Street-Meat-Palooza Corner)
Open 5pm to 9pm Monday to Thursday; noon to 4pm on Fridays until mid-September

Friday, June 19, 2009

Exposing the Independent Spirits

Strawberry Fields
I am not only a supporter of local breweries and distillers, I spread the love to the independent, artisanal spirits from around the world. There's enough drinking going on in my life to achieve this. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to get an independent spirits education next week at the Indy Spirits Expo.

This year, the expo will take place at Touch on 52nd Street, and will showcase many small batch, and hard-to-find brands. I'm excited to try some from right around here including Tuthilltown Distillery, and LiV, as well as all the others that will be there. If you want to be in the know about the next hot drink in town, I highly suggest hitting this up. Tickets are still available, it's $50 regular admission, $75 VIP; they're available here.

Indy Spirits Expo at Touch
240 West 52nd Street