Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009!

Death Note
2009 is closing up shop, so let's take a look back on the year that was...

Brussels Sprout Speck Pizza
January brought me to Co. and Motorino in one evening

Cannoli alla Siciliana
And to what is quite possibly the best Restaurant Week meal out there.

PB Jamwiches for Lovers
I'm still getting requests for the Peanut Butter and Jelly cookies from February.

Blondie's perfect evening
Little did I know that I was checking out my soon-to-be new neighborhood whilst pub crawling in March.

Bacon Cupcakes!!
But I did know I was overdoing it on the bacon front.

Mac & Cheese Pancakes
April brought me one of the best things I'd had in ever: Mac & Cheese pancakes.

Strawberry Fields
Moniker made my May with a food marathon.

Elvis
June brought heat and Elvis sandwiches

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The highlight of July was going to Katchkie Farm.

Jacques Pépin
And then August came, I saw him, in real life, the cutest French man ever. I want him to show me what to cook for dinner. I want him to tell me how to melt chocolate and cover cornflakes with it. I want him to read me bedtime stories. Jacques Pépin.

Beef Goulash and Dumplings
I'm finally able to eat hearty Czech food again after the summer vacation to the homeland.

Mmm, Trix Ice Cream
September meant moving to my new borough!! and the Vendys!!

Smoked Brisket Bao
Apparently it will be another three months before I can eat Fatty 'Cue again after my October preview (unless anyone would like to take me to Fatty Crab tonight!)

Morning Bun From Tartine
Hopefully I will be visiting San Francisco very soon. I have been thinking about their breakfasts since November.

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December brought us pop pies

Chocolate Babka from Russ & Daughters
which brought us the best chocolate babka ever.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ham & Cheese is Back at Pret!

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Ham and cheese are natural sandwich partners. They just belong together. But last month Pret made their ham baguettes dump cheese in favor of mustard.
Now I love me some mustard, but there's no need to dis the cheese...

Well, fortunately it seems Pret has seen the error of their ways. Last week I spotted "Pret's Famous Ham & Cheese" back in the sandwich case with a "new" sticker. I hope that it's back for good.

Meanwhile, I've been noticing that the Coronation Chicken sandwich has been making occasional appearances in the Pret at Rock Center. I've seen it only on two occasions thus far. Both times they had limited quantities and it was shelved with the weekly specials. For the uninitiated, coronation chicken is a curried chicken sandwich that's wildly popular in the UK. Legend has it that coronation chicken was invented for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. Whatever its origins, coronation chicken makes for a bloody lovely sandwich. Throughout the UK coronation chicken sandwiches are widely available, including in the chill case at pharmacies and grocery stores. It's a very tasty take on chicken salad and I hope that it makes it back into the regular rotation at Pret. In the meantime, you can satisfy your craving by following this recipe from the UK Pret site to make their coronation chicken at home.

Pret a Manger
30 Rockefeller Center
Concourse Level
New York, NY 10012
(212) 246 6944
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ring-a-Ling, Ring-a-Ling, It's Ring Dings

Inside Tumbador Ring Ding
Anyone who's been to a Joe the Art of Coffee knows that they store some of their delicious treats in glass canisters. A very smart idea, especially if you like to give your customers some good variety. A few weeks ago, that variety led to me trying Tumbador's Chocolate Ring Dings!!

Ring Dings for Joe
I've tried Tumbador's chocolates before, but only heard about the Li'l Devils about a year ago when they appeared at Murray's Cheese. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pick one up at all during the year, so when I saw them at Joe's during my morning coffee pickup, I HAD to get one!

Tumbador Ring Dings
Oh moist, fluffy chocolate cake surrounding sweet, but not cloying, cream center. Just the right ration of cake and cream. Better than any other devil's food filled with cream snack of my childhood, mainly since it is noticeably fresher. All held together by a thin coating of dark chocolate, thank God Joe's doesn't have you all the time. I'd get very fat.

Tumbador Chocolates
Found around NYC, and available for online purchase
tumbadorchocolate.com

Joe the Art of Coffee
Graybar Passage, Grand Central Station
Lexington Avenue between 44th and 43rd Street
www.joetheartofcoffee.com
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Monday, December 28, 2009

Minar's Chana Bhatura, a Chickpea Curry with not one, but two Fried Breads

Chana Bhatura from Minar

I've recently rekindled love affair with Minar, a hole in the wall cafeteria style takeout joint in midtown. And after seeing another dinner with a tray piled high with poofy fried bread, it was only a matter of time before I got around to trying their chana bhatura "daily special"...

Is something still as special if they have it daily? Doesn't that make it part of the regular menu? But I digress, the fact that you can get chickpea curry with fried bread is special enough for me.

For $5.95 you get a dish of chana (chickpea) curry with a side of raita and mini cups of tamarind sauce and cilantro chutney and not one, but TWO fried breads. Sweetness. The bread is made to order and comes out hot and fluffy. The center is thin and puffs out with cooking and the edges are delightfully tender and chewy. The chana curry itself is nicely spiced, not particularly hot, but very flavorful. Winner.

Chana Bhatura from Minar

In terms of mealtime strategy, I recommend going with a friend getting an order of the chana bhatura and then another curry dish over rice that would go well with fried bread (and come on, what curry wouldn't go well with fried bread?) That way you can make good use of having 2 fried breads and get a little more variety.

Minar
138 W 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 398-4600
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Russ & Daughters' Chocolate Babka is to die for...

Chocolate Babka from Russ & Daughters
Blondie and I had a great time baking last weekend for the Lower East Side Girls Club fundraiser and bakeoff. We made our Pear Gruyère Pop Pies and were floored when the judges Gina DePalma from Babbo, Myriam Eberhardt from DBGB Kitchen & Bar, Co-Editor Nichelle Stephens of Cupcakes Take The Cake and Sue Torres from Suenos awarded us the grand prize basket of awesomeness which included a chocolate babka from Russ & Daughters. Forget the cinnamon babka, as far as I'm concerned, all other chocolate babkas are lesser babkas to Russ & Daughters' Chocolate Babka...

Without a doubt Russ & Daughters' chocolate babka is the very best Blondie, Lawman and I have encountered. This delicious streusel topped cake was moist with plenty of chocolate ribbons including a fudgy chocolate layer at the bottom. Yes, a fudgy chocolate layer. It would be easy to put this entire cake away in one sitting. Alone. Whether you're celebrating Jewish Christmas or Gentile Christmas, a chocolate babka from Russ & Daughters makes for a perfect breakfast treat. They're open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so what are you waiting for?

Chocolate Babka from Russ & Daughters

Russ & Daughters Holiday 2009 Hours:
Thursday, December 24th: 8:00am until 6:00pm
Friday, December 25th: 9:00am until 3:00pm

Russ & Daughters

179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002-1024
(212) 475-4880
The official Russ & Daughters blog: Lox Populi
Twitter
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Go Whole Hog on New Year's Eve

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Around this time last year, I read on Serious Eats and Fork in the Road about the lechónes (whole roasted baby pigs) that you can order from the New Public Market in Sunset Park and I've been thinking about them ever since. Lawman has lovingly recounted the pig roasts he attended as a child while living in the Philippines, so when his birthday rolled around this year, I knew just what to do...

Here's the drill. You need to give the market about a week's notice and you need to go in person to put down a $25 deposit and get a receipt. On pig day, you pay the balance at the New Public Market and then they send you over to La Flor Bakery on 5th and 42st. Our 25 pound pig came to about $130. Your pig will likely be ready before you're ready to serve, so when you get it home, be sure to wrap it in tin foil to hold the heat in. Then about 30 minutes wrap before serving put the pig in a 250 degree oven to crisp the skin up again.

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Perfect for a meat loving crowd, the lechón was crispy, crunchy, and super flavorful--garlicky and delicious. We easily fed 14 and have had a couple of nights of pork tacos for the two of us since then with more leftovers destined for the freezer. This is definitely a special occasion meal worth repeating.

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The New Public Market
5021 5th Avenue (at 50th Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11220
718-871-1188
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Speaking of Gingerbread.....

Ginger Brew-Ha-Ha
Brownie's got her gingerbread treats down. You can't hold her back when she knows about that gingerbread doughnut! But if making gingerbread houses are more your holiday thing, I have the contest for you.

Next Wednesday, the 30th, the Ginger Brewhaha Extravaganza will be going on at The Bell House. Yes, it's a gingerbread house-making contest headed up by Roopa from Raspberry Eggplant. And I, Miss Blondie, will be there in special attendance. It's $20 to enter yourself and up to 3 friends (teams of up to 4), be provided with materials, and build a spectacular gingerhouse in a hour. There will be bands, there will be sweets, there will be prizes! Registration starts at 6:30, construction starts at 7. For more information or to sign up early, email gingerbreadbellhouse at gmail.com. And be sure to check out the Facebook page!

The Bell House
149 7th Avenue
Gowanus, Brooklyn
www.thebellhouseny.com
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Monday, December 21, 2009

They Better Have Chouquettes!!

Financier GCT on Monday!
I've always been a fan of Financier Patisserie and I hoped that when they moved to Midtown, they'd move just a little closer to my office. Not that I'm unwilling to walk over to 1st and 54th, or 48th and 6th, it's that leaving to do so has become increasingly difficult. So when I heard they were taking over the Oren's in Grand Central, I've made a point of using that subway entrance to scope out the scene.

Financier GCT on Monday!
And my scoping was rewarded on Friday when after another late evening in the office, I saw that sign! Monday! Today! Choquettes!

Chouquette
So, so many choquettes!

Financier GCT on Monday!
For the love!

Financier Patisserie
Grand Central Terminal, on the 42nd Street Side, by the subway entrance, look for a girl stuffing her face with Opera cake (that's me!)
www.financierpastries.com
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Friday, December 18, 2009

'Tis the Season to Eat Gingerbread in its many forms

Gingerbread Bread Doughnut
I love gingerbread and 'tis the season to find it in its many forms. From soft serve at Momofuku Milk Bar to custard at the Shake Shack and of course, donuts at Doughnut Plant, it's time to get your ginger on...

The gingerbread doughnut has been sighted at the Doughnut Plant. I LOVE this doughnut. It's spicy and delicious and I hope it sticks around until Valentine's Day like last year.

The gingerbread custard at Shake Shack is rich and creamy with a nice ginger flavor. There was some sadness when it was left out of the custard rotation last December, but fear not, this month it's back so you can get your ginger fix on Sundays.

Last but certainly not least, we learned that Momofuku Milk Bar is going to be rotating in new soft serve flavors, gingerbread included. Here's the new flavor lineup: sugar cookie, gingerbread, orange & clove, and cereal milk custard with pizzelle, cheddar popcorn, fudge sauce, and cornflake crunch to top it off.

We'll keep you posted on all the latest in gingerbread news. I hope the Treats Truck does gingerbread slices!
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Checking out the Friday Chicken Cilantro Special at Minar

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When I started working in midtown some years ago I was a fairly regular customer at Minar. I'm still not sure why it fell out of my favor, but of late I've been making pretty frequent lunchtime trips. And on one recent Friday, with Blondie in tow, I finally had the chance to try their Chicken Cilantro Special that gets such rave reviews on menupages...

I can see why this dish has it's fans. The chicken had a richly flavored cilantro sauce. A little salty for my taste, but delicious nonetheless. Menupages has a number of reviews that remark on the small portions, but I've never left Minar hungry. Between the two of us Blondie and I shared the Cilantro Chicken and a Vegetarian Combo both over rice and we added in a side of naan. Tons of food, we definitely couldn't finish it all. Minar has lots of tasty options, it's worth it to enlist a companion for a Minar outing so you can try a few things on the menu. Their chana (chickpea) curry is always good as is the Dum Aloo, Friday potato curry special.

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Minar
138 W 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 398-4600
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bringing Pop Pies to the People!!

Sweet Angel Benefit
There are SO many food events going on this weekend! There's New Amsterdam, there's Greenpoint Food, a Hot Chocolate Crawl, too many for us to talk about, so we'll give you three highlights.

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Saturday morning we will be baking away in preparation for the "Sweet Angel" Benefit Cookie Swap. It's a charity event to benefit the Lower Eastside Girls Club and their new cafe at Bowery Poetry Club! That's right, feel good about filling a sweet cookie tin full of baked goods!! For those of you who were tantalized by the pictures of pop pies, we've committed to making five dozen of them! This may be your only chance to ever taste one, unless you know Brownie and are willing to throw her dollar, dollar bills (they're really labor-intensive!) It's $15 to get in, and you can buy your tickets here. We're hoping that this sells out, and everyone is deliciously filled with treats-I've heard some of the others and I may have to even snatch a few goodies. The benefit is from 1pm to 3pm at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Cookie Takedown
And because you'll still want some more cookies on Sunday, there is the next installment of the Takedowns taking place at the Bell House. Yes, it's time to fill up on 30 different types of cookies! And free spiked eggnog! All for $10! 6:30PM! Bell House! Buy tickets here! DO IT!!!

Cookies & Singing @ Union Pool
More cookies! Me So Hungry, This Frontier Needs Heroes, & Justice of the Unicorns are throwing the 2nd Annual Cookie Contest & Sing-a-Long at Union Pool! More of a cookie party than an actual contest, this shindig kicks off at 8pm, is absolutely free to get in, but you may want to thank Union Pool by buying a beer. Double points if you get busy in the bathroom (not that I would EVER do ANYTHING like that because I'd never! Well, maybe just once to see. I blame it on the photo booth.)

"Sweet Angel" Cookie Swap Holiday Benefit
Saturday, 1pm to 3pm at the Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery at 1st Street
Buy tickets here

Cookie Takedown
Sunday, 6:30pm at the Bell House
149 7th Street, Gowanus
Buy tickets here

2nd Annual Cookie Contest & Sing-A-Long
Sunday, 8pm to ?? at Union Pool
484 Union Avenue, Williamsburg
www.mightysweet.com/mesohungry
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Now It's Istanbul, Not Constantinople

Porchetta
Anytime I hear New Amsterdam, that song blasts into my mind. I don't mind it so much when hearing New Amsterdam means stopping by a monthly market and getting delicious food stuffs! Next one's happening this weekend!

New Amsterdam Market
Wow, this holiday season is whipping by. I only started my shopping last Friday-my first gift was for Mrs. Brownie. It doesn't look like I will be able to get much done at all this weekend, with all these different food things to do! More about the others later, let's discuss the New Amsterdam Market.

Offerings
The third installment of this monthly market was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and I made it a point to finally get there. The size of it and the amount of food available is definitely overwhelming. I didn't know where to start first, so I stopped by my friends from Katchkie Farm. They let me taste their thick and creamy Butternut Squash soup, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Porchetta
Then I set off to explore. I drooled over the loveliness that was the porchetta at Porchetta.

Redhead's Bacon Peanuts
Nibbled on some Bacon Peanut Brittle samples from The Redhead.

Zone 7 Vegetable Stand
Looked at vegetables,

Oysters
and oysters.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramel
Before deciding it was time for some crossing. I eyed The Bent Spoon's offerings at least twice before I decided on their Bourbon Sea Salt Caramel, but I couldn't have just that, that's too easy.

Pie
No, it needed something else like a slice of Apple Pear Cranberry Pie from Sweet Deliverance.

Pie + Ice Cream
Blasphemous!!

A la Mode
Sweet sweet love.

Home/Made's Chocolate Truffle
I was then sent a side errand, to procure some truffles from Home/Made, while there I noticed their extremely fresh and very appealing pizza biancas. Hopefully I'll be able to get one of those on Sunday!!

Finnish Ruis Bread
On my way out, I happened past the Nordic Breads stall, one of their specialties being Finnish Ruis bread. It's a type of rye, more hard than soft, and tasted almost like a sourdough-rye hybrid. I'd love to try some toasted, spread with an herb Chèvre, that'd be a delicious little late-night treat.

For this Sunday's market vendor list, click here.

New Amsterdam Market
South Street, across from old Fulton Fish Market, under the FDR
Sunday, December 20 from 11am to 4pm
www.newamsterdammarket.org
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