Friday, September 30, 2011

Le Paddock Opens in Windsor Terrace!

Le Paddock

In what feels like the quickest renovation job ever, Le Paddock, Windsor Terrace's new wine bar and bistro, opened its doors right on schedule...

Taking over the spot that previously housed neighborhood stalwart Laura's Gourmet, the place was already hopping. Open tables didn't stay open for long as Windsor Terraceans flocked to check the new spot out.

Le Paddock Menu

The menu includes French classics like escargot and Soupe a l’ognion gratinee (French Onion Soup, baby!) and an assortment of thin crust pizzas made in their brick oven. Their formages are curated by Saxelby Cheesemongers.

Deviled Eggs

We tried their deviled eggs which had a nice mustardy kick.

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And their Flammenkuech, a traditional Alsatian tarte flambée (sort of like a French pizza) topped with leeks, gruyere and bacon. Nice thin crust. Ample perfectly melted gruyere cheese and, thick cut bacon with leeks. What's not to love?

The food was delicious and I heard nothing but glowing praise from diners on their way out. They are still getting their footing with service and managing the kitchen, so we'll give them some time before paying a return visit to check out the rest of the menu.

Le Paddock
1235 Prospect Avenue at the corner of Reeve Place
Brooklyn, NY 11218
lepaddockbrooklyn.com

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shake Shack Has Fruit?!

Peach Compote Custard
With everything going on at Madison Square Eats the past few days, I wasn't so shocked to learn that the line at Shake Shack was nearly nonexistent. Well, you can go to one of the other locations, and if you have the chance to eat outside, wouldn't you want it to be Roberta's? So when a couple of friends and I were hanging out last night and hunger started to hit us, we didn't get something the market of course. We headed over to the Shack.

Shake Shack
Where much to my surprise they had something listed as "Seasonal Fruit"?! What the what? Apparently they have started this as a topping for the custards. Yesterday's was Peach Compote, and lover of peaches that I am, I bit. Vanilla custard topped with some peach compote and shortbread cookies. I don't know if this whole thing was worth $6.25-I'm leaning towards the negative side of that-but it was surely delicious. I did want some more peach compote on top, and I was sort of tricked into buying a double scoop. This is definitely a hold-out dessert for times when it's your *FAVORITE* fruit topping.

Another important Shake Shack note: Shacktoberfest starts next Friday!!!

Shake Shack

Various Locations Throughout NY and the World
www.shakeshack.com
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Travels with Brownie: Pizza Bianca and Pizza al Taglio from Forno Campo de' Fiori

Pizza bianca from Forno Campo de' Fiori
After two years I still haven't figured out the algorithm of how my default screen saver pulls up the photos to flash across the screen. For some reason no matter how many new photos I take it seems quite heavily weighted to the trip to Italy that Lawman and I took in the summer of '09 which marked the first time I tried pizza bianca, so if you'll indulge me, here's a little screen saver inspired trip down memory lane...

Though my personal pizza preference lies with the Neapolitan style pie, when in Rome you do as the Romans do and that means pizza al taglio (by the slice) and pizza bianca. With our pre-trip research we heard nothing but good things about the Forno Campo de’ Fiori and when pizza maestro, Paulie Gee, tweeted that we should check out the pizza bianca there, we knew it had to be a sign.

Forno Campo de' Fiori

The bakery is right on the Campo de’ Fiori square and with the famed Roman farmers market just steps away it’s the ideal spot to start your hunt for picnic fixings.


Ordering at Forno Campo de' Fiori

Forno does a brisk business and if you go at peak feeding times you might have to wait and/or elbow your way in to place your order. Don’t be deterred, the pizza bianca hot out of the oven is well worth it. The bakery makes pizza bianca and pizza al taglio fresh throughout the day closing briefly from 2:30pm until 4:30pm. Be careful not to arrive too close to their mid afternoon closing time, as there’s a less robust selection of pizza al taglio and the pizza bianca.

The pizza bianca had a crispy, olive oil kissed exterior while the insides were pleasantly chewy. It was lighter and a cut above the other pizza biancas we tried in Rome, which could be a little dry and tough.

Pizza rosso from Forno Campo de' Fiori
While the pizza bianca was the standout, their pizza rossa and pizza al taglio were also quite good. Their crust is very thin and held up well under the tangy red sauce.

Pizza al Taglio from Pizza bianca from Forno Campo de' Fiori

The crust on the pizza with funghi was a little thicker than the pizza rossa , but still very tasty.

Pizza bianca sandwich from Pizza al Taglio from Forno Campo de' Fiori

We also tried a pizza bianco sandwich filled with mozzarella cheese and tomato. All the ingredients of a great sandwich were there, but honestly as my husband would say, “the moisture from the cheese and tomatoes undermined the structural integrity of the sandwich” especially if you didn’t eat it right away. I recommend getting some pizza bianca for munching and then a generous amount so you can make your own picnic with the cured meats and cheeses from the farmers market right on the square. Pizza Bianca + gorgonzola cheese + honey = to die for.

Forno Campo de' Fiori, www.fornocampodefiori.com
Campo de' Fiori 22, Rome
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Maybe Levain Has One of the Best Cookies in Town

Levain's Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
When I first tried Levain Bakery three years ago, I wasn't impressed. And for three years, I've wondered if I tried the wrong cookie. So, when I found myself a block away from Levain a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to stop by and try again. All of their accolades can't be for nothing!

Levain Bakery
I knew that the most popular and famous cookie was the Walnut Chocolate Chip, not one of the ones I tried. If I was going to be wrong, it was all on this cookie. As I tore off my first piece, an inside filled with gooey chocolate chips and walnut chunks was exposed. And that first bite was filled with them too. Unlike the others I tried, this cookie was chewy and moist--maybe it's the walnut oils seeping out that make all the difference. The size is still ridiculous; this is a cookie meant to be shared, but you'll want to eat it all.

Levain Bakery
167 W. 74th Street
(212) 874-6080
www.levainbakery.com
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Monday, September 26, 2011

The 2011 Vendys

The Vendy Cup

If I had to recap this weekend’s Vendy Awards in just one word it would be: EPIC. Saturday’s gathering of 21 carts and trucks representing the best in street food in New York (and NJ!) was a day filled with more good food than you can imagine. As much as the Vendys is "the Oscars of street food," being there in the center of all that deliciousness was a tangible reminder of the simple truth: if you love what you do, it shows...

Korilla Tacos

Korilla’s line started when the early bird ticket holders hit the gates and didn’t slow ‘til the votes were being tallied. Little B enjoyed his first taste of daeji bulgogi and bulgogi tacos as well as Killa Sauce. His reaction? MOAHR! That’s my boy. Note to the Korilla boys, you need to make those “I Korilla NY” t-shirts in baby sizes!

Solber Sampler

Our second stop was Solber Pupusas where we narrowly missed their massive line. They put out a real spread (tamales, pupusas, and sweet maduros).

TaimFalafelSandwich

Little B loved the falafal from Taim...

Sunrise Grill
...and he was a fan of Sunrise Grill as well...

Sunrise Grill Curried Goat

...especially their curried goat.I was impressed by the little taste of fruitcake--it's co-owner Tara Graham's mom's secret recipe. Fruitcake doesn't have the best of reps here in the States, but I assure you this one would inspire hoarding (as opposed to regifting).

Souvlaki GR pita

Little B is a huge Souvlaki GR fan, so naturally we hit them up for pork pitas.

Loukaniko Platter from Souvlaki GR

We loved their Loukaniko Platter, perfectly charred homemade Greek sausage with fries.

Horiatiki Salad from Souvlaki GR

And their Horiatiki, a traditional Greek salad (no lettuce here!) was intensely refreshing.

Bouzouki

To cap it off they had a wandering bouzouki player. Impressive. Very impressive.

Eggstravaganza Cart

While I tried to pass on dishes that I've already tried, there was no way that I could say no to Eggstravaganza's Mexican Grilled Cheese (chorizo and bacon FTW).

Chef Samir & Crew

Comme Ci Comme Ça dished out Chef Samir’s fluffy couscous with tender chicken, beef or veggies and topped with an array of delicious sauces--I can’t resist the spicy mint sauce. Chef Samir’s mom came all the way from Morocco to see her son compete!

Sam's Falafal plate

Sam’s Falafel prepared generous combo plates with freshly fried falafel balls, smoky baba ganoush, fried eggplant, salad and plenty of tahini dressing.

Creme Brulee Donut

Last year I fell in love with the vegan donuts from The Cinnamon Snail. This year they didn’t disappoint, returning with a Vanilla Bourbon Crème Brulee Donut, their entry in the Maker’s Mark Challenge (spoiler, alert: they won!).

Vegan Treats from Cinnamon Snail

They also made a terrific roasted red pepper and bean tart and a seitan wrap. Word is they’re getting a permit for the city so they’ll be crossing the river with those awesome donuts soonish. We’ll keep you posted.

Blondie couldn't get enough of Tamales Guadalupes. If you want a real, authentic, addictive tamale you have to seek her out in Brooklyn on Knickerbocker & DeKalb Avenues.

La Newyorkina

Chef Fany Gershon's paletas from the La Newyorkina Cart were a must. I had the roasted plum and regretted not making it back in time for seconds.

Cajeta and Pecan Paleta

Blondie was very pleased with her pick: Cajeta with Pecans.

Miss Softee Spreading Sprinkles and Love

Miss Softee spread sprinkles and lots of glitter.

Makers Mark Sundae from Miss Softee

While we loved her creative cone flights (hello, who would say no to multiple ice cream cones?!), her entry in the Maker's Mark Challenge was to die for: crumb cake with a bourbon glaze, topped with vanilla soft serve, drizzled with bourbon dulce de leche and capped with bourbon soaked raisins. Wowsa. Another dessert I'm sad I didn't get seconds of.

Woolys Green Man with a Green Man

Speaking of desserts that I could use a lot more of...Woolys Ice, oh Woolys Ice. Your Green Man (green tea ice, mango, mochi and sweetened condensed milk) rocked my world.

Egg Burrito Sushi

Eat Here Now Now Eat Here had little egg burrito "sushi bites" which proved to the perfect size for sampling.

Maple Bacon Cupcake from the Cupcake Crew

Just when I thought I couldn't eat another morsel I was waylaid by a tiny Maple Bacon cupcake from the Cupcake Crew. So small. So tasty. I liked how there was candied bacon both on top and inside.

Judge Gayle King Mingles

Silly me, I didn't read the Vendys flier so I had no idea that Gayle King was one of the judges. So naturally I freaked out when I randomly found myself behind her. (OMG. Gayle King! My childhood newscaster! Love her!)

Host Sunny Anderson

Host Sunny Anderson got the festivities under way.

Drum roll please...

Woolys Wins for Dessert

Woolys for Dessert!

Taco Truck

The Taco Truck won for NJ

Team Korilla

Korilla took the crown for the Rookies!

Vendys Cup Finalists

Souvlaki GR was the People's Choice!

King of Falafel prepares to give up the cup

The King of Falafel was on hand to pass the Vendy Cup to...

Solber Wins the Vendy Cup

Two-time Vendy Finalist, Solber Pupusas!

Solber Takes the Vendys Cup

Special thanks to the Street Vendor Project team at the Urban Justice Center, the volunteers and of course the vendor finalists, many of whom enlisted family and friends to serve up great food. Each and EVERY participating cart and truck put their heart into making fantastic food and ensuring a great day for everyone. Marking my calendar now for Vendys 2012!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Vendys Are Coming! The Vendys Are Coming! The Vendys are Almost Here!

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We're in the final countdown for the 2011 Vendy Awards. In a little over 24 hours Blondie and I will be hitting the ferry to Governors Island to volunteer at the awards. For a great preview of the event check out Blondie's post over at CBS Local (woot, woot!). And for a tasty look back, clickity click here...

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Yeah, we're talking Vegan Doughnut Goodness from The Cinnamon Snail! These s'more doughnuts blew me away last year. Super excited about the New Jersey category and trying out Two Pitas in a Pod, and the Taco Truck

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And so happy for our friends at Souvlaki GR. Last year, Rookie Winners this year they're competing for the Vendy Cup!

Kelvin Slush

Last year's late September heatwave made for long, long times at Dessert Winner, Kelvin Slush. Perhaps the sun will shine on newbie Dessert nominees of the frozen nature, I'm looking at: Miss Softee, La Newyorkina, and Wooly's Ice.

Besides seeing some old favorites I'm thrilled that a few of our must-eat spots have been recognized with the Vendy nod.

Grilled Cheese with Chorizo and Bacon from the Eggstravaganza Cart

We've long been fans of the Chorizo & Bacon Grilled Cheese and everything else Arturo and his sister cook up at the Eggstravaganza Cart.

Mutton Biryani from the Trini Pak Cart

And have been rooting for the fabulous Trini Paki Boys for years--you can't say no to their addictive doubles (which I wrote up in Time Out NY). So happy to see Fatima and her son get this well deserved recognition.

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. While regular tickets are sold out you can still get your hands on an extremely limited number of VIP table service and early entry tickets (you get into the Vendy Awards an hour early--skip the lines!) still available. You know you're going to be jealous on Monday when we post our recap. Doooo it. Doooo it! Hope to see you on Saturday!
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