Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Chance to Get Your Vendy Nominations In!

Nominations for the 2011 Vendy Awards close on Friday. Last chance to show your favorites some love. While we're talking Vendy's, have you bought your tickets yet? The big show happens on Saturday, September 24th on Governors Island. It will sell out. I promise you. Need some more reasons to buy tickets, check out these photos from last year's Vendys...


Vegan Doughnut Goodness from The Cinnamon Snail

Vendys, Schnitzel & Things Girl

The awesome Molly Yeh represents for Schnitzel & Things

Vendys, Schnitzel & Things - Plate

Schnitzel & Things schnitz platter

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake from Patacon Pisao; creamy, dreamy dessert perfection


Moroccan Fare from the Bistro Truck

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Doug Quint serves up cones on the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck


Pork Souvlaki from the 2010 Rookie Vendor Winner, Souvlaki GR

Kelvin Slush

Intensely refreshing slush from 2010 Dessert Winner, Kelvin Slush

There will be good food, plenty of beer and wine and awards. One finalist will take home the Vendy Cup and title of Vendy Award winner. As an attendee you'll be able to exercise your right to vote to choose the People’s Taste Award winner from the finalists as well as the winners in the Dessert Category and Rookie Vendor of the Year. Are you convinced yet?

While the focus of the day is on the food, the event has a greater mission as a fundraiser for the Street Vendor Project, a non-profit organization that's part of the Urban Justice Center, and provides legal representation and advocacy on behalf vendors. A portion of your entry ticket is a tax-deductible contribution to SVP, so it's a win all the way around.

Hope to see you there in September!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Now Like Anchovies Thanks to Bon Chovie

Bon Chovie Original
In the heat that we had this past weekend, I didn't feel like going anywhere. There's something about New York heat that makes it totally unbearable to be outside. Luckily, I live a few blocks from Smorgasburg and the Williamsburg Brooklyn Flea so I don't have to wander far for a good lunch. I had seen Bon Chovie before, but it wasn't until the Singing Chef, Jackie Gordon waxed poetic about it that I became convinced I need to try their anchovies. It was a good move.

I opted for the original, fried with their heads chopped off, simply because I don't know if you're supposed to eat the heads and I like to start off basic. I'll admit that my non-anchovy eating was a product of American food culture-they're typically scorned and I took this as they must taste awful. They're salty and have an umami fishy taste, but a fresh fish taste, not a "this has turned" fish taste. If you like fish sauce, you'll like anchovies. Bon Chovie fries up the fish fresh which only takes a few moments. And then you dig in. For $6, you get five decent sized little fishes, and it took me until the fourth one to get how to eat them down properly. I quite enjoyed my plate, even if it was a bit oily, and I could easily see how a person could eat these all day. The plate isn't enough to get you full, but if you're out grazing at the Sunday Flea (or Smorgasburg), you should definitely stop by to have some.

Bon Chovie began at the Saturday Smorgasburg and started serving at the Sunday Flea this past weekend. Both of the markets take place in the same parking lot in Williamsburg on the East River Waterfront between North 6th and North 7th Streets.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

4 & 20's Raspberry Peach Pie!!

Raspberry Peach Pie
You'd think with all of the pie we've eaten at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, that we would have eaten all of their pies by now. But oh no, we haven't. Last week, I showed up and saw that they were serving up their peach pie, one of my pie favorites, except their sign was lying. They were actually serving raspberry peach pie, now one of my pie favorites.

I believe that raspberries don't get enough play in pie; they're usually too tart for something on their own and the cost of a pint is prohibitive enough for most to even consider throwing into a pie. But this pie had just enough tart raspberries playing off the sweetness from the peaches to make it something special. It was almost like a Sweet-Tart in pie form. With really great crust! I hope I can score another piece before the summer's out.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Avenue,
Gowanus, Brooklyn
(718) 499-2917

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sandwich Awesomeness Abounds at the Serious Eats All-Star Sandwich Festival

Gramercy Tavern Ham-and-cheese
Record breaking heat? Eh. What's a little heat when you have the Serious Eats All-Star Sandwich Festival on Governors Island where the spirits were as high as the triple digit temps...

Saturday morning I packed up my Cookie Monster bag with necessary sun essentials, grabbed my enormous umbrella (the kind that would make an i-banker cry from unwieldy umbrella envy) and bid Lawman and Little B farewell.

2 plus hours before game time

I helped with set up and watched the lovely shade disappear was the sun moved across the sky.

Counter Culture Iced Coffee

Thankfully Counter Culture was plying volunteers with delicious iced coffee, which I was happily slurping down, until my brother, Lil Bobo, cut me off on coffee #3.

SE Overlord pre-festivities

Serious Eats Overlord, Ed Levine making the rounds pre-opening.

First Serious Eaters in the gate

Serious Eaters, start your stomachs! Let the sandwich fest begin...

With Lil Bobo's help I was able to get through almost all of the sandwiches...

Veg Bánh mì

Bành Mí Zòn 's refreshing vegetarian bánh mì...

Bánh mì

...and classic bánh mì, named best in the city by Serious Eats. I handed this over to Lil Bobo for a bite, and let's just say, I did not get it back.

PB and Co Elvis

Peanut Butter & Company's Elvis...yes, that's pb, bananas, honey, and bacon grilled up right.

Locanda Verde's Lamb Meatball Slider

Locanda Verde's lamb meatball slider. These two bites of lamb-y perfection packed a flavor whollop and turned out to be an awesome size as the eating wore on.

'wichcraft pork belly sliders

'wichcraft's Pork Belly Slider

'wichcraft zucchini and ricotta

and Ricotta and Zucchini sandwich with tomato and olive oil on artisan bread. This sandwich was sprinkled with just a touch of sea salt. I regret not going back for seconds.

Taim Falafel

Taim's green falafel

Torrisi Specialty Turkey Sandwich

The house roasted turkey sandwich from Torrisi Italian Specialties was Lil Bobo's favorite for the day. "Great turkey, great bread, with just the right amount of kick."

Grammercy Tavern Ham and Cheese

My hands-down-couldn't-stop-blabbing-about-it favorite was the ham & cheese from Gramercy Tavern. I'm not really even a ham & cheese fan, but this is a crave-worthy rendition that starts with house smoked ham, shaved thin, topped with fontina cheese, pickled carrots and radishes topped with garlic aioli. BEST. HAM & CHEESE. EVER.

Kenji Working the Grill

Not surprisingly on of the longest lines was for sliders grilled up by Serious Eats' own J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Kenji's sliders

Regular readers know that I don't eat beef. I just don't really like the taste. In fact it's probably been more than fifteen years since I had my last burger. But if I'm going to make a burger exception, a burger developed in the Food Lab kitchen is a good, no, great bet. Delicious.

Once sated with sandwiches I turned my attention to dessert.

People's Pop
Red Plum Sour Cherry popsicles from People's Pop's.

Red Plum Sour cherry Pop

Look! Full sour cherries inside!

Box of Bouchons

And chocolate bouchons from Bouchon Bakery. Why have I never had these before? The heat of the day warmed these brownie like confections up so that the internal chocolate chippies were nice and melty. Heaven.

BGICT line

Also consumed was a curried coconut dusted Cococone from Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. Unfortunately it was demolished before it could be documented, but suffice it to say I enjoyed it as much as the first Cococone I had a couple summers back.

Alas, I couldn't try the Cuatello with Grilled Peaches and Mint from Salumeria Biellese (can't do the hazelnuts) and I somehow missed the meatball sub from Best Pizza, but with the sheer number of food blogger in attendance I'm sure you'll be able to find plenty of pics and delicious write-ups.

Melissa & BGICT

And if you can believe it, the company was even better than the sandwiches. It was great to catch up with food lovin' friends both Serious Eats contributors and commentors alike. All-in-all it was a fabulous day. Special thanks to Ed, all the folks at Serious Eats (way to many to name, but you know who you are!), Amy, JoAnne and all the fabulous volunteers. So, um, when's the next sandwich fest?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Qathra's Back Garden is a Summer Oasis

qathra garden
It's confession time, dear readers...I fear I've been holding out on you. I've only mentioned Ditmas Park's Qathra Cafe, once and just in passing. With summer in full swing and their back patio open and waiting, it seems fitting to give them their moment in the sun...

What's so great about Qathra? Well, there's Crop to Cup Coffee and Rishi Tea. A sweet, sweet sunny back patio with a reading library and a very cool ice cream fountain/tiki bar(?!) serving scoops, floats, and egg creams. I wonder if I could convince them to whip me up a vanilla ice cream soda, my childhood go-to treat at our town pharmacy's 1950s soda fountain...

1112 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Real Cheap Eats NYC!

Peter Pan Toasted Coconut
For the past week or so, we've been caught up in a brand new project: Real Cheap Eats NYC! Our friend, James, came to us asking if we'd want to contribute a few of our favorite spots for the guide, and of course we said yes. There are a number of cheap eats guides that come out every year, but never before have so many of us 'in the trenches' food bloggers collaborated like this. It's really exciting!

Ground Pork Thai Sandwich Beet Thai
Best part is it's already formatted for mobile displays and everything. James is planning more for the site beyond this, he just needs a few days to get there (I can attest that sleep has NOT been involved much in the launch.) Hopefully soon there will be a Midtown Lunch special list among a few other pretty big and important web sites. More information on where the real people eat some really great, cheap food will be added, so be sure to check back often. And if you have ANY recommendations, feel free to send us the tip!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Souvlaki GR Now with More Veg Options

Veggie Pita from Souvlaki GR
It's never a good idea to go food shopping at Trader Joe's when you're starving. That's when you end up with six boxes of Candy Cane JoJos and three bags of Mandarin Orange Chicken...and nothing else. Thankfully on a recent Trader run, just as I was about gnaw on my handbag, I spotted the Souvlaki GR truck and noticed that they are now rocking more veg options...

Vegetarians can rejoice that in addition to the chicken and pork pita, they now have a veggie pita ($4). Comprised of chopped cucumber, tomato and red onion drizzled with tzatziki in a warm pita this makes for a refreshing snack on a hot day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Batch's Goodwich is Summer Treat Perfection

Good Batch Ice Cream Sandwich
The summer heat came back in full force this weekend, and when I ran down to the Brooklyn Flea yesterday, not much of anything appealed as a nice lunch. I apparently don't really like eating when it's hot-this is a new development in my life. I did spot people eating large ice cream sandwiches, big enough to be considered lunch. Then I noticed these sandwiches being bought at The Good Batch stand, b-i-n-g-o.

Good Batch Ice Cream Sandwich
By the time I had figured this out, they had run out of their Peanut Butter Puck sandwiches leaving only The Goodwich left. Soft, chewy oatmeal and chocolate chunk cookies sandwich creamy vanilla ice cream and a fudge drizzle. The cookies were absolutely perfect, an abundance of oats and almost every bite got a piece of chocolate. The homemade freshness and quality of the sandwich made me overlook the price. At $6, it was the most expensive ice cream sandwich I've met this summer, but it's definitely one of the best and large enough to be a real treat.

The Good Batch is at both weekend Brooklyn Fleas; if you would like to buy their cookies, they do have an online shop.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Travels with Blondie: Cupcakes in Kansas

Cupcake Construction
Bet you didn't think that there was more to discover in Lawrence, Kansas, did ya?! This time around not only was there ice cream pie, but I also finally got to try Cupcake Construction Company! At Cupcake Construction, you get to design your own cupcake from base to filling to frosting. Or you can go the easy route (what I did) and get one of their specials. I got the Elvis.

Cupcake Construction
The Elvis is banana cake with peanut butter frosting and a chocolate drizzle. Kansas made his own with banana cake and chocolate filling topped with peanut butter frosting, chocolate chips, and nuts. My Elvis was enjoyable, the cake was fluffy and moist, and the frosting was pure American buttercream, but I wished for something more to truly make this an Elvis. Maybe some bacon bits?! That would have made it truly special.

Iwig's Ice Cream
Another thing I had hoped to try this visit was Iwig's ice cream. Iwig's is basically like the Ronnybrook of Kansas: a small local dairy churning out an array of assorted products. We spotted their ice cream at Lawrence's Thursday farmers market and procured some peanut butter chocolate chip. What really impressed me about this wee container was that the peanut butter flavor was dispersed throughout the chocolate, it wasn't a ribbon or such. And it was pure creamy deliciousness. Iwig definitely deserves to grow as big as Ronnybrook is now, it's that awesome.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vendy's 2011: Chinatown Vendor Scouting

Fish Balls over Rice Noodles
Nominations are still open for the 2011 Vendy Awards to be held Saturday, September 24th on Governor's Island. We've been involved with the Vendy's as volunteers since '08 and this year we were asked to do some downtown vendor recon. On our scouting mission we hit five carts in search of Chinatown’s best.

For the full tour, including $1 fried chicken (hello!) check out the Vendy's blog.

My Birthday Ice Cream Pie

Ice Cream Pie
One of the perks of celebrating my big birthday in Kansas with Kansas was getting a celebratory ice cream pie from Sylas & Maddy's!! I don't know why I can't find one of these here in New York, it's absolutely delicious, and gets rid of the need for cake-nobody really gets ice cream cake for the cake any way! Disregard the ice on it, that's what happens when something's been blast-frozen and you don't let it warm up a bit in a regular freezer.

Ice Cream Pie
Graham cracker crust and Maddy's Mud ice cream (chocolate ice cream with peanuts and Oreo pieces). Could you blame me for not letting it hang out in the freezer for a few minutes? That would have been torture. Plus, it was my birthday and I'll do what I want!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Must List: Sour Cherry Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Sour Cherry Pie
Last week I brought news of blueberries hitting the pie plates at Four & Twenty Blackbirds and today I have it on good authority that they have quite possibly my favorite pie of the summer: sour cherry...

I came from a basically cherryless household. My dad can't stand cherries, so we never had them around. My revelation came in the form of a sour cherry pie made for 4th of July by my high school boyfriend's mom with cherries that she picked from her backyard. I still dream about that pie and this one ranks right up there with it. Tart with just the right amount of sweetness and plenty of juicy whole sour cherries, this is a pie worth changing your plans for.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Monday, July 11, 2011

Checking Out Purple Yam at Last

Jap Chae from Purple Yam

Courtelyou Road in Ditmas Park is home to a couple of our favorite brunch spots: Mimi's Hummus and The Farm on Adderly. I'd always heard good things about Puple Yam as well, but when faced with the other two tried, tested, and well loved options, invariably Purple Yam got pushed aside. This past weekend, we were in the neighborhood for dinner and eager to try something new...

Goat Curry from Purple Yam
Little B was with us, but he's an adventurous eater for a little guy, so we weren't shy about ordering the Goat curry with fresh rice pancakes & mango chutney ($12). What the menu doesn't tell you is that this dish also comes with tender sweet fried plantains. The goat curry was diced into little pieces (nary a bone in sight!) which was perfect for the little dude. The coconut based curry was rich and earthy and made me wonder why I don't eat goat more often--I need to change that. Taken together the pancakes + curry + chutney + plantains created a salty, spicy, gamey, sweet explosion of deliciousness.

The Jap Chae ($9) was also well received, but the slippery sweet potato glass noodles proved to be a little hard for Little B to chew. He thought they were funny to pick up--can't say I blame him there, it's not easy eating glass noodles with your fingers.

Overall, Purple Yam is a win. Next time, brunch!

Purple Yam

1314 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11226

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Travels with Brownie: Roast Leg of Lamb Sandwich from Bow Street Market


My family has been going to Freeport, Maine well before it was the outlet shopping destination that it's become. Much of the town is geared to the tourist trade, but if you know where to look there are some bargains to be found. Take for instance the roast leg of lamb sandwich from Bow Street Market...

Bow Street Market recently reopened in huge, new digs (can you say wine store?). Quite a step up for a great catch all market that was my first hint of what NYC bodegas would have in store for me--seriously, I don't know how those stores manage to stock so many things in such little space. The first thing I noticed at the new store was the sandwich menu at the deli. This menu isn't listed online, but they have a fantastic Roast Leg of Lamb sandwich that's to die for.


Served on a baguette with a herbed cheese spread, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a more than generous portion of perfectly roasted leg of lamb, this handsome sandwich clocks in at only $5.99--the lamb alone goes for $15.99 a pound! Awesome deal. The only catch is they don't always have the leg of lamb in stock. Still if you love lamb and you're willing to walk just a few blocks off the beaten path you'll be well rewarded with a trip to Bow Street Market.

Bow Street Market

79 Bow Street, Freeport, ME

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blueberry Pie Time at Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Last week the first blueberries of the season made their way into pies at Four & Twenty Blackbirds and I was fortunate enough to score a slice of Blueberry Rhubarb...

As a kid I didn't eat rhubarb at all. My mom can't stand it, mainly because in the wrong hands rhubarb tends to be oversweetened completely robbing it of it's natural tartness. I've since made friends with rhubarb, adding it to my Chai Spiced Raspberry Rhubarb Pie (which is among my best pie recipes, if I don't say so myself...) But I've never though to pair it with blueberries. Fortunately Melissa and Emily Elsen, the pro-pie-ators at Four & Twenty, did. The rhubarb plays off the blueberries perfectly adding a hint of tartness. The tender, sugar sprinkled lattice butter crust will make even the staunchest of Team Cake members consider jumping ship for Team Pie.

Blueberry and Blueberry Rhubarb should be in the regular rotation while the berries are in season.

For pie updates check out their Facebook page and their twitter.

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 Third Ave. at 8th St,
Brooklyn, NY 11215