Trader Joe's has my number. I go with a list and I come out with plenty of unintended purchases like these "Astounding Multi-flavored Joe Joe's," as soon as I saw the giant display, I had to try them, I mean they're astounding, right...?
Here's what you get: chocolate covered peppermint Joe Joe's, chocolate covered peanut butter Joe Joe's, chocolate covered chocolate Joe Joe's, and white chocolate covered ginger Joe Joe's. I was most excited by the ginger Joe Joe's--so different. So Christmasy, but alas they were a tad too sweet for me. A friend did liken them to the ginger Newman's O's, which I hear are quite good, so if you don't mind white chocolate these are worth a try. I was also expecting to love the peanut butter Joe Joe's, but they weren't peanutty enough for me. Lawman loved the chocolate covered Joe Joe's, while my hands down favorites were the peppermint ones. It's a fun box and a good assortment for company, but for me in this case the astounding marketing overplayed the product. I think my expectations were that these cookies would be utterly mind blowing instead of just pretty good. Sigh. jump
In February, Shake Shack brought back their peanut butter & bacon burger. Your life isn't truly complete unless you've dashed through the city on a blustery winter day to stand amongst the Upper West Side crowds for this. And then there was Choice Eats. I loved Choice Eats this year.
Then our summers changed forever. First Brooklyn Flea opened on Sundays in Williamsburg, and then Smorgasburg came along for Saturdays. With the East River Ferry dock right next door, this has become a favorite spot for tourists and locals. By the end of the summer, I found myself wandering down to the water for a good, quick lunch.
The Vendys helped lift my September funk, and the NY Food Film Festival kept me crazy busy and was an *incredible* ball of fun—these are two events I will not be missing in the new year. Then I was right back where I started, gushing over Chef Zac Young's Flex Donuts. I'll be stopping by tomorrow. Happy New Year everyone! jump
This year we're spending Christmas with my in-laws which means a full house and plenty of small helping hands in the kitchen. My nieces, ages 10, 9, and 6 all love cooking and over the years I've seen them grow in their skills. The oldest two are proficient in measuring ingredients and excellent at whisking. It's been exciting for me to see how they've been able to master tasks and take pride in serving their creations. The stained glass window recipe I recently blogged for Serious Sweets is an ideal recipe to make with even wee cooks. It's a no bake recipe (you just melt the chocolate in the microwave), but there's some good stirring involved, so even my 4 year old nephew felt like he was able to contribute. Plus, it's made of two very important food groups: chocolate and marshmallow.
What are your favorite recipes to make with kids? jump
Oops, sorry I'm a little late today. I was drunk last night—act surprised! I was invited by my good friend, Donny, to a wonderful Christmas dinner. And let's just say there was pie to be had, especially Four and Twenty's special Egg 'n' Grog. I was nervous it would be too full of eggnog, but it wasn't. Just a nice custard pie in a gingerbread crust, perfect for dessert or morning-after breakfast. And now I'm off for a holiday road trip!
Happy Festivus! If you need a break from all the shopping and wrapping and endless loops of Mariah Carey Christmas music, scoot yourself on over to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for the first annual Big Gay Festivus Extravaganza going on TODAY. Grievances will be aired, feats of strength will be performed and Festivus Miracle Cones will be consumed...
The miracle cones consist of vanilla ice cream (dyed green) and topped with red sprinkles ($6) and all proceeds from the cone go to New York Cares. You get ice cream, NY Cares gets donations, it's a win/win. And if that's not enough, you can air your grievances, yes, all of them, via their webcam. It's your last chance to get your Big Gay Ice Cream fix in '11. What are you waiting for?
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck 125 East 7th Street (1st Avenue & Avenue A) New York NY 10009 212.533.9333 Winter Hours: Open Daily 2pm-11pm Closed 12/24/11 through 1/1/12 http://biggayicecream.com jump
Choice Eats is our second most favorite event of the year (first being The Vendys, let's all be serious now) and we received word the other day that tickets will be going on sale in less than a month! What does this mean for you? Well, you need to make sure that you have fast interwebs ever because these tickets will sell out faster than all the hipster music concerts have been. (Sidenote: it is just me, or are concerts in NYC selling out lightening fast lately? Is there some Williamsburg-based ticket broker buying up EVERYTHING?! /rant) And when exactly should you be prepared to test your CAPTCHA skillz......
The 5th Annual Choice Eats is going to be held a few weeks earlier this year, on Tuesday, March 13th, again at the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th Streets. Tickets will be $50 for general admission, $80 for VIP (I *highly* recommend VIP) and will go on sale on Wednesday, January 18th. Village Voice isn't spilling the beans just yet on which restaurants will be participating this time around, but rest assured you will be able to eat and drink to your heart's content. Need proof? Go through our archives of the last three Choice Eats', or click through to the Voice's slide shows! Of course, we'll try to keep you up to date with all the latest Choice Eats information as it becomes available! jump
Last week while wandering around Montreal with Lawman and Little B, I noticed a small cupcake shop on Rue St. Denis. Now the siren song of adorable cupcakes is mighty powerful, so I had to give it a closer look. Turns out the owner, Robert, had met our über-cupcake blogger pal, Nichelle. It truly is a small cupcake world after all...
Made with all natural ingredients--we're talking real butter and cream, the cupcakes at D Liche were light, moist and not terribly sweet (always a plus in my book). The minis were $1.50 each or 6 for $8, so of course we had to go for the six.
The carrot cupcake was awesome. Nicely spiced with little raisins.
The vanilla cupcake was mild and pleasant. Like a perfect party cake.
Even Lawman, who's generally a coconut avoider, loved this one. No fakey-fakey suntan lotion flavoring here. Yum.
The Red Velvet had a vanilla buttercream frosting instead of the traditional cream cheese. It was different than what I've come to expect in a Red Velvet, but a tasty gamble.
No need to adjust your monitor. This chocolate cupcake was made with 99%% cacao! Nom.
Two kinds of peanut butter + two kinds of chocolate = yes, please!
Remember how Brownie, Little B, and I ate waffles *after* brunch? Well, this is the brunch in question. Sorry for the slightly blurry photographs. Little B has learned things like how to eat my half of the shared doughnut, and when you're trying to fight off a 18-month-old you tend to say "Yea, whatever, shot's good. That's not your half of the doughnut, Little B." We had decided to meet that day for brunch at Colonie, a newer restaurant—it opened last February—on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights.
We knew we had to try the homemade doughnuts, one of which was available in their basket of baked goods ($7), so that was to split. Besides the doughnut, it came with a lemon muffin and an almond chocolate brioche. The muffin was moist and tangy, the doughnut sugary fried goodness (yes, Little B did eat most of my half), but the chocolate brioche just didn't do it for me. It was dry and needed a good amount of butter and/or jam to make me happy. I could have easily skipped it.
For our main meals, I got the Biscuits Benedict while Brownie got their Mushroom Egg Toast. Both were simple done up a wee bit fancy. Perfectly poached eggs covered in rich hollandaise were soaked up nicely by dense biscuits. And that's not bacon in the middle, it's heritage ham. Brownie seemed to love her dish. The fried eggs and toast were covered in (I think) slightly sauteed shimeji mushrooms and a generous amount of parmesan. As for price, I'd say they were about in line with what you'd expect from a classier spot; my dish was $14 while hers was $12. I don't know if either of us will run back, but it's a definite spot to keep in mind for date nights.
Just got back from a quickie vacation in Montreal with Lawman & Little B and I'm still stuffed. Man, oh man, those Québécois are serious about food. And there are few spots as charming as Old Montreal's Olive & Gourmando to settle in for a nice cuppa and a breakfast pastry. Like their fab chocolate brioche...
When I went to order my pastries I'll admit that the Chocolatines (aka pain au chocolates aka chocolate croissants) immediately caught my eye. But then I spotted the enormous chocolate brioches ($3.95) and remembering my experience with Colson Patisserie in Park Slope where their chocolate brioches were described as "like the pain au chocolat but more flavorful". A quick tête-à-tête with the lady at the counter confirmed that for maximum tastiness it was, indeed, a chocolate brioche that I was after.
This was unlike any chocolate brioche I've had before. It was wound up like a cinnamon roll, but instead of a dusting of cinnamon, each of the inner spirals was full of little bits of Valrhona chocolate. Sheer heaven.
Also, worth a try are the apple turnovers with cinnamon sugar. The pastry is so light, so buttery, so flakey and the filling so melt-in-your mouth tender, that these are near impossible to share. Just build some extra walking into your trip so you can enjoy both without hesitation.
Brownie, a sleeping Little B, and I found ourselves heading into Van Leeuwen's Cobble Hill shop this past weekend with the specific goal of eating waffles. Mind you, we just had brunch. That's how we roll, folks! We had known that this and their East Village shop had begun waffle service, but I had been staging a one-woman, pro-Greenpoint boycott. But once I saw the day's special, I broke. Mmmm, caramel.....
The waffles are made fresh-to-order which always makes me a happy camper. They come out with fluffy insides, and are done enough outside that there's no topping-related sogginess. Though they are a bit pricey at $8.50 a pop, this amount of waffle, banana, and caramel—and if there wasn't a nut allergy at the table, walnuts—are sure to please. The bananas were perfectly ripe (yes, I judge banana-ripeness) and the caramel was absolutely divine: great color, great texture, sweet without being cloying. I don't know if they make it in-house, but it's totally worth the splurge. I'm hoping that this means I can get a Van Leeuwen Ice Cream waffle sandwich with toppings! Crazy talk!
Mid Christmas Blizzard '10, Blondie texts Brownie: "I want street meat tacos. Oh, lightbulb! Street Meat Cookbook!" Brownie texts back: "That is awesome. We're doing it!"
And an idea was born. For the past year (basically) we've been working on a book proposal chronicling New York City's current street food scene. It's hard to imagine, but there's no book just about NYC's street food, and there's definitely no book about the vendors complete with recipes. We want to change that. Of course, we've been tight-lipped about what we've been up to (a few VIPs knew like Zach from Midtown Lunch, the Street Vendor Project, and of course the vendors we've contacted), but yesterday the news broke on none other than Eater NY. To celebrate, I had the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunchcrete at the Upper East Side Shake Shack.
We hope to have a book telling the vendors stories, has delicious recipes that anyone can make, opens the eyes of some non-street meat eaters, gives tourists new guides and maps, includes a few celebrities, and just an all-around super awesome book that everyone and their mother will want. We've already got some pretty big name trucks and carts already on board, so it looks promising! Of course, more information is to come. And we're not the only ones getting into the book game lately, our friends over at Four & Twenty Blackbirds and Nachos NY *both* got book deals too! It's all so exciting!
Also, that Crunchcrete was fabulous. Nice crunch toffee chunks, chocolate sprinkles that add nothing but childhood joy, and sticky peanut butter topping--can't beat it! I'm a sucker for anything chocolate and peanut butter, and this just might be my most favorite concrete. Of course, there wasn't enough add-ins for me--there never are--but enough that I had pieces until through about 3/4 of the cup. jump
Remember how Frigidaire was in Times Square on Thanksgiving Eve and I got to meet Chef Anne Burrell and eat turkey?! Well I do. As I was leaving the event, I was handed a bag that contained none other than her latest cookbook, "Cook Like a Rock Star". And this, our dear readers that we love so much, can be yours! And it's signed too! Happy holidays! Here's how to win it:
Leave us a comment here for entry #1. For entry #2, click on over to our Facebook and leave a comment on this post's link (it should be up sometime before 10:30am today if my morning goes well). While you're at it, like us too! On Monday morning, the 19th, I will pick a winner at random! It's that easy, so check back here to see if you've won, or leave us your email in the comment and I'll email you to let you know. You probably won't have this in time for being under the tree, though if that's what you really want, we could try to make it happen. So get to commenting, people!jump
Lately I've been going through more than the usual amount of unsalted butter. Now this is speaking as a woman who gets her butter in Costco sized quantities, so it can only mean that it's holiday baking season...
If you have a hankering for mint and chocolate, this Peppermint Crack recipe I whipped up for my American Classics column over at Serious Sweets, is easy and addictive. If you're craving a darker chocolate fix, these Mint Sticks are intensely fudgy and oh, so satisfying. Both will be getting reprises before the holidays are through.
What's on your must-bake list this holiday season? jump
Talking about tacos caused quite the stir with my friends. Almost each one had their favorites, and a few asked why theirs didn't make my top 5 list?! Well, I haven't eaten EVERY taco in New York is the simple answer. At least one friend decided to use this as an opportunity to hang out and eat his favorite tacos. Being the super sweetheart that he is, he surprised me with two hours of unlimited tacos at Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. We tried to eat our weight in tacos.
I had heard of Tacombi before, I just didn't realize where it was or I would have stopped by sooner. For my first round of tacos, I went with all their fish options, while he went with al pastor (marinated pork) and picadillo (ground sirloin). I have to say, their fried fish taco is definitely one of the best in the city. The beer battered fish is balanced with cabbage slaw, and is the perfect size for a two-taco meal. Any bigger and it would be a gut-bomb. Any smaller and you'd feel gypped. Their other two fish tacos have seared fish as a base, and both are equally delicious. I was especially drawn to the pescado a la plancha con piña with involved a grilled pineapple salsa. This'll be good when I'm in the mood for tacos, but on the diet (you all know the post-holiday diet is coming!)
My other favorite went to the breakfast taco, sorry for the blur. I'm not doing unlimited tacos without getting my chorizo, avocado, potato, and egg on! And dear God, this is a hangover dream. A good amount of spicy chorizo and topped with creamy, ripe avocados are what I wish I ate every morning. Since I can't eat this nearly as often as I'd like, and probably neither can you, I'll leave you with Hilah Cooking's video on how to make your own. Just top that sucker off with avocado and you won't even need to take a shower to have some chorizo breakfast taco deliciousness.
For those of you wondering how much it costs to have two hours of unlimited tacos with a six pack, it was $50. Halfway through, they turned the lights down low and the Christmas-y overhead lights came on all romantic-like for those of you looking to make the moves on a lady, or want to feel like you're at a beach-side taco joint.
I love brunch. I really do. But brunch is serious business. Long lines. Long waits. Big bills. If you're watching your wallet brunch can easily blow your budget. Fortunately Park Slope standby Cafe Steinhof has an excellent (and ample!) brunch menu with plenty of under $10 options...
It's been awhile since we've checked in at Cafe Steinhof for brunch, but a recent visit has confirmed that their brunch is still an excellent deal. The smoked pork loin with two eggs, roasted potatoes and salad was a steal for $9. As much as I love brunch, I'm usually starving a few hours later and long before dinner. Not so here with the smoked pork loin platter, there's plenty here to keep you going. The slightly crispy, pleasantly salty roasted potatoes are a must, and if pork loin isn't you're thing, the spicy debrecina sausage is worth a looksee.
During Madison Square Eats, I became aware of another holiday market, Bust Magazine's Craftacular, and guess what's going on this weekend. If any of you are like me and haven't even begun your holiday gift shopping yet, you might want to stop by to check this out and eat some mighty delicious food. You can even eat some cupcake partially made by my fabulous self via the Robicelli's booth.
The Craftacular opens at 11am both mornings, and the first 300 get free goodie bags. While you're checking out eco-friendly posters and postcards among other unique gifts, there will be a DJ spinning tunes, raffle prizes, and book signings. As for food, I know that besides Robicelli's cupcakes, Kors d'Oeuvres, Liddabit, Macaron Parlour, and Red Hook Lobster Pound's truck will be there *PLUS* a beer garden. Gift shopping + beer garden + maybe a free goodie bag if you're not hungover or brunching = awesomeness. This is all going down at 82 Mercer Street, from 11am to 8pm Saturday and until 7pm Sunday. It is $3 to get in, fyi.jump
There are many great projects on Kickstarter, but the Bushwick Campus Greenhouse is particularly awesome. The goal of the recently-founded Bushwick Campus Farm is to help students connect the dots between the food system, economics, health, the environment, social justice, and sustainable agricultural practices. They've already broken ground on the greenhouse which will be a hands on teaching space and they need funds to help complete the project...
So far they have just over $3,000 of their $15,000 goal. The way that Kickstarter works is all or nothing--if they don't receive pledges for the full amount of funding they won't get anything. $15,0000 will allow them to complete the project and additional funds raised beyond their goal will go towards developing their summer Food Justice Program at Bushwick Campus Farm and Bushwick Farmers’ Market and allow them to pay the students for their work. If you're looking for a gift for someone who has everything and doesn't need another tschotske, perhaps you might consider making a donation in their honor. jump
Well, not everything, but near enough! A couple of Saturdays back, I met up with a few friends including Niko from DessertBuzz, and we ate a crazy spread of food in the quaint backyard of Dominique Ansel Bakery. We were spurred on by promises of Black & White Eclairs and Dominique's Kouign Amann, and ended up going a little overboard. Luckily for us, Chef Ansel had a few moments to chat with us too, and threw in a few extras like the packages of Mini-Mes! Here's what you need to go try now!
The DKA, Dominique's Kouign Amann is a win and a half. It's made from their croissant dough with an ample of sugar on the outside that caramelizes into a fabulous crunchy layer. Some people are calling this the next big thing, and I'd have to agree.
As a life-long fan of black and white cookies, trying the black and white eclair was basically my reason to wake up that morning (also because I love meeting up with friends). The filling inside is split between vanilla and chocolate. It's delicious, and since they're only making 30 a day, a must for those of us who love limited editions.
Another fantastic reason to stop by: the Cannelé de Bordeaux. It's double caramelized causing the dark and incredibly hard outer shell--don't try to cut it, it *will* break plastic utensils. Inside is the softest, crumbly center I've ever seen, an absolutely perfect complement to the exterior. This was so wonderful that Niko got a second one on the way out! It's definitely the sleeper hit, and I expect it to be on at least one "Best of" list coming out soon.
This wasn't all we ate, for picture of more, click here.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
(212) 219-2773 dominiqueansel.com
For ladies of leisure on a budget, Spa Castle in College Point, Queens is like the Disneyland of spas. For just $35 during the week ($45 on the weekends) you get unlimited access to their heated pools and seven themed saunas. You can stay a little while or make a whole day of it--they're open from 6am until midnight! This past weekend was the second annual Spa Castle jaunt for me and the Doc, my bestie since childhood. And no trip to Spa Castle is complete without some Korean food for lunch...
The "Sky Restaurant" on the 3rd floor at Spa Castle has a limited but decent menu of traditional Korean dishes for lunch and dinner. The Spicy Pork Lettuce wraps will run you $17, but it comes with a small soup (seemed to be beef broth with tofu and veggies), white or brown rice, banchan, and a hefty plate of daeji bulgogi aka spicy pork. The pork had just a bit of heat and was moist, tender and super flavorful.
We thought we'd split the pork wraps and the $12 spicy pork and kimchi soup (kimchi jjigae) and ended up with way more food than we bargained for. The kimchi jiigae was spicy and substantially filling. They didn't skimp on kimchi, so true kimchi fans will be most pleased. Next time we'll probably go for just the lettuce wraps shared between the two of us to leave more room for the shaved ice ($12) which came topped with pinapple, kiwi, orange, strawberry, mango, mochi and red bean. A very pleasant and refreshing way to end an intensely relaxing day.
One of the many blogs that inspired us to start Blondie & Brownie, the blog to end all blogs our little love child, was Cupcakes Take the Cake. It's hard to believe that CCTTC is turning 7! To celebrate they're having a party Monday night, and you should all go. It's $10, and there will be raffles and prizes and cupcakes, and it's going to be awesome. Buy your tickets here! But that's not the only sweet sensation going on this month. The other one involves cookies, lots of cookies. Nom nom.
Sunday, December 18th, the Bell House is going to be transformed into a cookie wonderland with 30 different contestants vying for your cookie love. It'll be $15 to get in, eat until you swear off cookies forever, and enjoy an hour of free Bulleit Bourbon eggnog. What's not to love about this afternoon? By the by, if you don't know about Bulleit Bourbon, you need to backtrack and click that link. Click here to buy tickets for the cookies.jump
This past summer we were interviewed Eat St. about our love of all things Treats Truck (remember our "Taking on the Treats Truck one treat at a time" series?). And for you lucky duckies with cable the episode is re-airing tonight on the Cooking Channel at 10pm EST. In honor of the show, here are a few of our very favorite Treats Truck treats...
I can't help but be rather partial to the Peanut Butter Jamwich, cause it was my entry in the Treats Truck's name-a-treat contest. While top honors went to "The Nutty Co-Worker" a cookie loaded with almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts, the peanut butter jamwich has had staying power and been part of the regular rotation since 2008. The peanut butter jamwich consists of two peanut butter cookies sandwiching a thin shmear of both creamy peanut butter and of raspberry jam. Nom nom.
If you love carrot cake the Treats Truck version is a MUST. Perfectly moist. Perfectly spiced. Just the right amount of sweetness in the frosting. You've be hard pressed to find a tastier carrot cake in the city.
ZOMG. Nostalgia alert! Did your mom ever make you conecakes for a special bring-to-school birthday treat? 'Cause my mom did. Yeah, she's that awesome. These cupcakes are the perfect handheld treats for the kid within.
Last, but certainly not least, how could we forget the epicness that is the Treats Truck nachos. CHOVEMBER may have drawn to a close, but Treats Truck nachos live on. These chocolate and caramel creme cookie “chips” topped with brownies, crispy treat pieces, drizzled with chocolate sauce and bedecked in whipped cream and sprinkles! Let's just call it like it is...full on win.