Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Millenium Falco at Roberta's

Millenium Falco Pizza
I've had Roberta's a few times now when they set up shop at Madison Square Eats, but I've never made it out to their Bushwick home. Until last week! Our friend, Donny Tsang, was stopping by Roberta's to be on Heritage Radio (Listen to him on Cathy Erway's Let's Eat In) and I wouldn't let him leave Roberta's without accompanying me while I eat pizza! So I got to eat pizza, say hi to Cathy (we love her), and Donny got the hamburger. It was a lunch win.

Millenium Falco Pizza
I wanted to eat all of the pizzas, and maybe a few of the plates. They had a rabbit ragu tagliatelle that looked fantastic, both of us wished we had gotten that! Of all the pizzas, I finally decided on the Millenium Falco. It comes topped with pork sausage, parmesan, basil, red onions, breadcrumbs, and chili flakes. I liked it because the wee amount of mozzarella cheese allowed the toppings and tomatoes to shine, and didn't lead me to a food coma. The pizza was excellent, a wee bit soggy in the middle and crispy crust. I especially loved the little burnt bubbles. I ate all of this. The bad part from this experience is that I realized Roberta's is only 20 minutes door-to-door from my place, and they have a wonderful little closed in patio. Expect more Roberta's visits.

261 Moore Street
(718) 417-1118

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Almost Pancake Month!

Blueberry Pancakes from Clinton Street Baking Co

February may traditionally be dark and dreary, but it's hard to despair when Clinton Street Baking Company's is kicking of their annual pancake month celebration. Blondie and I are Pancake Month vets so I was excited to see that the schedule is always posted on CSBC's website...

Here's the pancake line up:

1st & 2nd: crunchy bananas with cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce

3rd & 6th: poached pears, vanilla bean whipped cream, warm maple butter

7th, 8th & 9th: almond frangipane, fresh raspberries, toasted almonds, raspberry sauce

10th & 13th: Japanese pumpkin pancake, pumpkin seed streusel, warm maple butter

14th: chocolate chunks and brandied Burgundy cherries

15th 16th & 17th: banana pancakes: Bavarian cream, toasted coconut, and warm maple butter

20th, 21st & 22nd: crunchy bananas, cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce

23rd & 24th fresh coconut pancakes, kumquat syrup, bruleed bananas

27th, 28th & 29th: chocolate chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce

The special pancakes are ONLY served Monday through Friday from 8am until 4pm and 6pm to 11pm. And if you're not a fan of the particular pancake of the day, they do have their famous wild Maine blueberry, banana walnut or chocolate chunk, with warm maple butter pancakes on their everyday menu.

They only take dinner reservations for parties of six or more and if you're going with that big a group you'd definitely want a reservation to avoid a long wait for a table.

If you time your visit wisely you can make plans to coincide with Fried Chicken & Waffles Wednesdays. It's best to go with a friend so you can go halfsies on pancakes and fried chicken and waffles. I hope we can find the time to go a couple of time this year...

Clinton Street Baking Co.
4 Clinton St (between East Houston & Stanton)
(646) 602-6263

Friday, January 27, 2012

Checking Out Pizza and Dessert at Donatella

Brussels Sprouts Special Pizza
New York is filled with Italian restaurants. Most offer the same basic menu hovering around the same price point, but few are actually something to seek out. There are a number of good Italian restaurants that stand out above these "dime a dozen" ones, but they'll usually cost you a pretty penny. Last week, I was turned onto a good Italian spot that won't break your bank: Donatella.

Fried Calamari
When Donatella opened in October 2010, almost all of the press was about its gilded pizza oven, all sparkly and gold. It's still a sparkly, sitting at the back of the restaurant. But for my group, we were mainly there for dessert, not the oven or to really load up on the savory offerings. We did, however, get the fried calamari along with two pizzas. The calamari was expertly breaded and fried--a crunchy exterior without getting greasy--with enough round and tentacle pieces for everyone. Don't you just love the tentacle pieces?! Of the two pies, I preferred the day's special which was topped with prosciutto and Brussels sprouts. Slightly charred chunks of sprouts nestled in with excellent mozzarella topped with lean thin slices of prosciutto should make anyone happy.

But the most exciting part of our meal was the *PHENOMENAL* desserts. Pastry Chef Andrea Jarosh is doing good things in that kitchen. I knew I was going to like the zeppoli and cannolis--they're my two most favorite Italian desserts, but I was shocked to fall in love with their tiramisu, a dessert that is commonly mediocre at best. The mousse is light and yet still decadent, and perfectly complemented by the layer of house-made chocolate ladyfingers. Chef Jarosh also gives the bottom layer the soaking it deserves complete with Frangelico. If you're a tiramisu-lover, you should definitely make a point of stopping by for this.

Another dessert that blew us away was the off-the-menu cupcakes. Chef Jarosh sent out a plate of three: red velvet, pistachio, and Nutella praline, each with the perfect amount of delicious Italian meringue buttercream frosting. All three were gobbled down, but the clear winner among my group was the Nutella praline. Chocolate cake with a Nutella and wafer filling topped by gilded hazelnuts allowed for an enjoyable experience with various textures. It's easy to see that her inspiration was the Italian candy, Baci, and she definitely pulls it off.

For more on Chef Jarosh and the desserts at Donatella, head on over to DessertBuzz where there's a more complete rundown of their dessert menu, and an interview with the chef.

184 8th Avenue
(212) 493-5150

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Did You Buy Your Choice Eats Tickets Yet?


Every year we warn you, but this year I hope you'll take us seriously. Tickets for the 5th Annual Village Voice Choice Eats are on sale and they are on the verge of selling out. VIP tix are already gone and if you don't get on it you'll miss out on the General Admissions tickets, too...

Yesterday they announced the first round of participating restaurants. And it's already looking like a great event. Check out this list...

Ample Hills Creamery
Buka, Chinese Mirch
Court Street Grocers
Dean Street
Doughnut Plant
Edi and the Wolf
Fatty 'Cue
Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna
Jane's Sweet Buns
Kelso Restaurant
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
Northeast Kingdom
Ovelia Psistaria Bar
Singh's Roti Shop
Sparrow Tavern
Spicy Bampa
The Meatball Shop
This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef

Hungry? Less than 1/4 of all the General Admission tickets are still available. "Choice Eats" will be held on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 from 6:30 - 9:30 PM at the 69th Armory on Lexington Avenue in New York City. VIP hour will take place from 5:30-6:30 PM.

Why are you still reading this? Go get your tickets!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Travels with Blondie: I Forgot About the Donuts!

Krispy Kreme
After my post went up last week about my adventures in San Francisco, I realized that I totally forgot to tell you all about the doughnuts! How can I be so silly?! The doughnut theme started when my beautiful cousin specifically asked that some Peter Pan goodies be in my carry-on. In return for that, she took me to the best place ever.

The Krispy Kreme/In-N-Out in Daly City as we were on our way to Pacifica for some grand coastal viewing! Can life get any better than eating a cheeseburger animal-style and following it up with doughnuts? I think not!

gratuitous In-n-Out shot

Dynamo Donuts
I also stopped by Dynamo Donuts where I faced one of the harder decisions of my life! How do you pick just one or two? Gah!

Bacon Doughnut
I picked the maple glazed bacon apple and doughnut bread pudding. The bread pudding was good with a fantastic crunchy top crust and custard-like interior, but it could have won even more points were they able to warm it up a bit. As for the bacon doughnut, I have fortunately been spoiled by Flex Donuts' bacon cruller. Don't get me wrong, it's good; the bacon is still crunchy, the glaze isn't too sweet. If I hadn't had so many great doughnuts in New York in the past year, I'd been thoroughly impressed. But I have had fluffy yeast doughnuts, and that bacon cruller. I won't trek across town for Dynamo, but if I were in the neighborhood again, I'd definitely stop by.

Dynamo Donuts
2760 24th Street
San Francisco
(415) 920-1978

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It'sTime for the Winter Edition of Real Cheap Eats!

Brancaccio's Whole Roasted Chicken

The Winter edition of Real Cheap Eats is up and live. Thanks to the efforts of James Boo and his team, this guide to the tastiest meals in the five boroughs under $10, has a 22 dish winter update, including my contribution, the $6 whole roasted chicken from Brancaccio's...

As I write this post I've just finished a meal consisting of my second whole roasted chicken from Brancaccio's for the week. Between working full time, writing for three blogs and working on our book, the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen is severely limited. Did I mention that my oven is also completely broken? Thankfully Brancaccio's has saved me more than once with their dependably delicious and thrifty $6 whole roasted chicken. Dressed with lemon, garlic, herbs and spices, then roasted perfectly so the skin gets crispy but the meat remains tender and moist--never dry, even if I weren't so busy I'd still want Brancaccio's to make my chicken for me.

Brancaccio's Foodshop
3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway
(Between East 2nd and 3rd Street)
Brooklyn, New York 11218
Email: info[at]brancacciosfoodshop.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

Please Help Us Get to Seattle!

Last week, Brownie called me up and asked "Do you want to go to Seattle with me?" "Is this a joke? I'm a broke grad student now." "I'm in Cakespy's contest and the winner gets a trip for two to Seattle!!!" "Oh, fuck yes!" We've been working our Twitter and Facebooks for days now, and as of last night, we were 100 votes out of first place! Jesse Oleson aka Cakespy is picking a winner today so please head on over and "like" Brownie's Cookie Time cookies!!! If we win, here's what I want to visit in Seattle:

Trophy Cupcake Trio
I will definitely stop by Trophy Cupcakes. After Brownie visited over three years ago (!), we've regularly gotten their newsletter. Every now and then I sneak a peek, wishing I could just stop by the bakery for some treats. Except the bakery's 2,800 miles away. Also on the list is Seattle Pie Co.'s marionberry pie! I had to keep reading about this recently, and it killed me. For savory, I'll have to turn to Marination Mobile. Korean tacos!

So please, please, please, help a freelancing (broke) grad student who's also trying to co-author a book get to Seattle!

Friday, January 20, 2012

NYC Foodie Weekend


Well, the pleasant faux-spring weather doesn't look like it's going to be making an appearance this weekend. Fortunately there's some good foodie fun to be had around the city...

Children's Food Festival in Bryant Park
The inaugural, Kids Food Festival starts on Saturday. Free samples, food for sale or other activities to help kids make fun and smart food choices.

Cochon 555: 5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers
Porkafiles, this is your weekend. Blondie and I attended Cochon 555 two years ago and it was EPIC! So many piggies. So much good eating. This year promises seven whole heritage pigs and a butcher demonstration from Cesare Casella of Salumeria Rosi. Tickets: $125 per person/$200 for VIP.

Ok, it's not the weekend, but this Afternoon Tea at PARK HERE in Nolita sounds awesome. Tea by Tiffany founder Tiffany Denise will be hosting afternoon tea from 1-5 pm on Tuesday. Tickets are $25 and include a selection of organic teas, sandwiches, petite fours, biscuits, scones and chilled drinks.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Travels with Blondie: San Francisco Sweets

Blue Bottle Affogato
You guys didn't really think I'd go to San Francisco and not eat sweets, did you? One of the reasons I love heading out to SF a lot is that I can eat to my heart's content every time and not scratch the surface of what they have to offer. Within the first few hours, I got another taste of Humphry Slocombe in Blue Bottle's affogato. Espresso and ice cream, best of both dessert worlds.

Humphry Slocombe
That wasn't the only encounter with Mr. Slocombe. This time I had my heart set on trying Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous except they were closed for winter break! Epic sadness. I comforted myself by heading over to the shop (I had Secret Breakfast with Blue Bottle Coffee ice cream!)

Ice Cream Sandwich
It also showed up in Magnolia's ice cream sandwich. Yes, it's deconstructed a bit with makes it perfect for sharing. Another great dessert there is the Strawberry Shortcake.

Miette's Chocolate Cupcake
During both of my Ferry Building visits I stopped by Miette Bakery. The first time I picked up an ice cream sandwich consisting of their graham cookies and Straus vanilla ice cream. So good, and the perfect size. The second trip I went for the cupcake. And every cupcake lover *in the world* needs to have this cake. They have chocolate cake down-pat; it's perfectly moist, doesn't fall apart after unwrapping, and chocolatey without being cloying.

Tartine's Chocolate Cake
Something that was CRAZY decadent was my slice of chocolate cake from Tartine. Every visit there, I try to get something different besides my regular morning bun. Now I can normally throw back any slice of chocolate cake, but this went beyond the beyond. Halfway through I needed milk to help me out and there was just no way I was going to power through. It's just that rich. Delicious, moist, and completely shareable.

Arizmendi Chocolate Chip Cookie
One of my last bakery visits was Inner Sunset's Arizmendi where they are known for their shortbread cookies. I had one; it's buttery, crumbly, and you'll probably never look at Trefoils again after. I also couldn't resist picking up this chewy chocolate chunk cookie. When you head out for their shortbread, get one of these bad boys too.

Blue Bottle and Miette have various locations throughout the Bay Area.

Humphry Slocombe
2790 Harrison Street
San Francisco
(415) 550-6971

Magnolia Pub and Brewery
1398 Haight Street
San Francisco
(415) 864-7468

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco
(415) 487-2600

Arizmendi Bakery
1331 9th Avenue
San Francisco
(415) 566-3117

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Help Us Win a Trip to Seattle!


So remember when Blondie was on vacation and I was bored and lonely and made CookTime Cookies? Well, my cookies have been chosen as a finalist in the So You Want to Be a Cakespy Contest. The grand prize is a trip to Seattle to visit the ├╝ber-awesome HeadSpy herself and we need your help getting there...

Here's the drill, you can show your support for #teamsendB&BtoSeattle by any of the following:

Click here and like the photo of our entry on Facebook.

Post a lovely comment about our entry here.

Or favorite and comment on the pic of our entry on Flickr.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travels with Blondie: Boom! Fried Chicken Ramen in SF

Fried Chicken Ramen
Those of you following along on Twitter might have seen me tweeting from my second home, San Francisco last week. Yup, I took a week off of the computer and ate to my heart's content in the California sunshine. While almost everything I had was delicious, the biggest highlight was Hapa Ramen's Fried Chicken Ramen. Our good friend Clay recommended them to me the night before I bounced, and he has yet to steer me wrong. I got it at the Tuesday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building and it was salty delicious goodness. So much so that, though I was supposed to check out some trucks immediately after, I said "F that, I'm eating all of this."

Pulled Pork Sandwich
This did end up being the trip of Ferry Building visits. The day I landed, I was lucky enough to make it to one of my most favorite places in the entire world, the Saturday Farmers Market there. Clay had also suggested 4505 Meats, and wanted me to pick him up a bag of chicharrones-a bag he needs to claim before it's in my belly. Since I was beyond starving, and spied slow-roasted pig on the menu, I got their pork sandwich. Oh. My. Fucking. God. The perfectly roasted, tender pork. The crunchy slaw. The coriander aioli. I will be getting so fat when I move to SF because I will be eating this as often as possible. There are few sandwiches comparable to this in New York, most are a bit on dry side or slathered in excess sauce. Not this, I ate up every last bit.

Delfina Pizza
I had hoped to stop by Una Pizza Napoletana since I only had them once or twice in New York, but they were on vacation. As a back-up, Delfina was suggested. My group arrived there at the exact wrong time: 8:30 on a Saturday night. A hour and a half wait greeted us. Yay. The special pizza of the night involved egg and (I think) radicchio, and I wanted in on it. My dining companions were all "Ew, gross, I don't like egg on pizza," but I know that this is spectacular especially when the yolk is all runny and gets soaked up by the crust. I even saved a bit for my breakfast.

Stacks' Huevos Rancheros
On my last day there, we went to Stacks for some weekday brunch action. Though the waiter was up-selling me—God do I hate up-selling—when the platter of huevos rancheros came out, I was pleasantly surprised. This is like two breakfasts for the price of one, no joke. Though this time is was me saying "Ew, gross." Apparently there is such a thing as a crab omelette which my fellow bruncher got. I was not aware of this. After returning, I questioned a few friends more inclined to brunch than myself; none of them had heard of a crab omelette. Maybe next time I'll return to see what all the fuss is about this and Stack's banana pancakes.

Hapa Ramen is at all three Ferry Building Farmers Markets-Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday-while 4505 Meats is only there Thursday and Saturday.

Delfina Pizzeria

3611 18th Street
San Francisco
(415) 437-6800


501 Hayes Street
San Francisco
(415) 241-9011

Monday, January 16, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Portuguese Rotisserie Awesomeness Abounds at Montreal’s Coco Rico

Combo Plate from Coco Rico

On our recent trip to Montreal, I don’t think that we had a bad meal the entire visit. Some of our dinners were a good bit fancier than what we typically go out for in the city--we’re cheap eats folk through and through--so it’s not surprising that one of my fondest meal memories is the combo platter we shared at Coco Rico...

Coco Rico Rotisserie3

lived in Portugal for several years during high school and the tales of the meals they enjoyed there, particularly the rotisserie chicken. When we were researching where to eat in Montreal and discovered that there’s a fairly large and vibrant Portuguese community, we had to seek out some Portuguese food.

Coco Rico Rotisserie2

Our dinner at Coco Rico was the cheapest meal of our trip and among the most satisfying. For $9.99 (Canadian! though these days that’s pretty much the same as American…) we got their #2 combo: a quarter chicken, ribs, and roast pork plus their tender little roast potatoes.

Coco Rico Rotisserie4

These weren’t any ordinary roast potatoes, you see, at Coco Rico, they line the bottom of their roasters with the potatoes so they are slow cooked in the fatty meat drippings making for a super flavorful carb fix. Lawman and I shared this with Little B, who was a big fan of their roast pork and it was enough for the three of us (and we’re talking three people with very healthy appetites).

Coco Rico Rotisserie

While the space isn’t ideal for if you’re looking for a sit-down experience, it’s more of a take-out joint, however, there is a narrow bar and high stools. If you’re looking for cheap eats in Montreal, you can add this to your must list along with Schwartz’s Delicatessen just up the road.

Coco Rico
3907 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
Montreal, QC H2W 1X9, Canada
(514) 849-5554

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Special Pork Hamburger at Bark

I met friends at Bark in Park Slope last week hoping to try their hot dog, but my eye got caught on one of their specials: a pork hamburger. If you know Bark, you know that this wasn't just any pork, it was delicious heritage breed pork. I bit the $8 bullet and got it.

Pork Hamburger
First thing, if you're someone who has issues with appearances, you might want to skip this. Years of conditional training that hamburgers should not be pink made me second guess my choice. The burger was good, well-bred pigs always having a bit more taste than conventional ones. And I liked the addition of sauerkraut into the mix--it was a nice texture contrast. But I don't know if I would run to try this. I wasn't full afterwards, and definitely needed more food if I was going to make it through to dinner. Next time, I'll finally pony up to try their dogs.

Bark Hot Dogs
474 Bergen Street
Park Slope
(718) 789-1939

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pies-n- Thighs Chicken Biscuit Still a Winner

Chicken Biscuit from Pies 'n' Thighs

It's been over a year since I first tried the Chicken Biscuit at Pies-N-Thighs and though the price has crept up, at $6, it's still an awesome deal and a must-eat breakfast...

My mom took a pretty liberal view on breakfast when I was a kid. Cake was perfectly acceptable. As were cookies. But fried chicken? For breakfast? I didn't even know such a thing was possible (which means that I have a good number of years of fried chicken breakfasts to make up). The chicken cutlet at Pies-n-Thighs is nice and spicy from ample hot sauce and comes bedecked with honey butter then sandwiched between a perfectly flakey biscuit. Breakfast sandwich heaven.

166 S 4th St
Brooklyn NY 11211
(347) 529-6090

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Schwartz's Delicatessen in Montreal

Half a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's

When I first started planning Lawman's surprise birthday trip to Montreal, I knew it was a food-loving city, so I was looking forward to some serious recreational eating. Visions of poutine and croissants danced in my head. I didn't anticipated chowing down on a glorious smoked meat sandwich, but I did. Oh, yes, I did...

Midtown Lunch founder, Zach Brooks, has never steered me wrong with a food pick before, so when I discovered he wrote a 48 hour eating guide to Montreal, I bookmarked that sucker. Lawman loved him some good deli and he rarely indulges in the city, so I put the historic delicatessen Schwartz's on our must-list.

When we arrived there were two lines out the door. One for the takeout lunch crowd. The other for the eat-in crowd. Thankfully the eat-in line moved fairly quickly an we were ushered to a table in the back.

The menu is fairly simple. Sandwiches take center stage with smoked turkey, smoked chicken and salami on offer, but it's the smoked meat that draws the crowds. Smoked meat; the name sounds so dull and generic when it's anything but. Beef brisket is cured with spices and marinaded for 10 days then smoked. When it's ready to serve they steam it for a couple hours before it hits your plate. Taste and texturewise smoked meat is closer to corned beef than pastrami. You choose your fattiness level: lean, medium, medium-fat, or fat and moments later and overstuffed sandwich on rye arrives.

Medium Fat smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's

Lawman went with the medium-fat, pictured above, while I went lean, pictured below. Lawman won. Fat is goooooood.

Lean smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's

And makes for a more moist and drool inducing 'wich, while my lean sandwich was on the dry side. Don't get me wrong, it was still delicious, but I was more than a little grateful for the generous schmear of mustard.

As someone who hasn't eaten beef in years--like maybe fifteen years--this was a can't miss sandwich and I'm glad I gave it a try. At $6.15, it's a bargain for a filling lunch and worth including on your Montreal itinerary.

3895 Saint-Laurent boulevard
Montreal, H2W 1X9, Canada
(514) 842-4813

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's Cookie, Cookie, CookieTime!


If you've been following our Twitter, you know that Blondie is away in lovely San Francisco. Eating fabulous things like Animal Style In-N-Out burgers and morning buns at Tartine. I can only hope that she stuffs her suitcase with Dynamo Donuts for a certain friend back home (ahem). Any way, with Blondie away, Brownie will play...and embark on a crazy late night baking project...

On a whim I decided to enter Instructables' Cookie Contest. This is how my brain works cookie-->Cookie Monster-->cookie time-->CookieTime. Yes, once the image of Cookie Monster on an iPhone on CookieTime entered my brain, I had to make it happen. If you need a little CookieTime in your life, check out my Instructable and feel free to vote for my cookie or one of the other awesome entries. Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mac & Cheese Pizza in Williamsburg!

Pizza from Vinnie's
I've passed Vinnie's Pizzeria on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg many, many times, but never did I bother to take a step in. I knew it's considered one of the better pizzas, which is also evidenced by the constant crowds. It wasn't until one of the holiday nights over the break where every other restaurant was closed did I take a step into Vinnie's. And I found Mac & Cheese pizza!

Brownie and I have a dream trip planned to Wisconsin, partly for mac and cheese pizza, and I hope that Wisconsinites know how to heat up pizza because this probably tastes better heated. After placing my order, my two slices went into an oven for less than 30 seconds. When you have something like mac and cheese, you need to get it good and hot to get melty. Neither of my slices were sufficiently warmed. This made me sad. I ate them regardless while wondering how a place is so popular and yet doesn't know how to warm up pizza?

Vinnie's Pizzeria
148 Bedford Ave
(718) 782-7078

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who Do You Bake For?

Conecakes in progress

Right now it's 12:49am and I'm up baking. It's not surprising to find me up at a late hour baking, though since Little B's arrival I've cut back on the crazy baking hours just a little bit. But for me it's never baking just for the sake of baking because I don't bake for myself. I bake for people I care about...

All of my best creations are recipes I've thought up for friends and families. I came up with the Elvis cupcake for Rachel from Cupcakes Take the Cake.

First birthday cake

I made a bannana-rific monkey cake for Little B's first birthday.

Pirate Monkey Cupcake Close up

And pirate monkey cupcakes for my nieces piratical 10th birthday.

Tonight I'm wishing, hoping and crossing my fingers that by the time you read this tomorrow morning I'll have a beautiful monkey bread to share with one of my dear friends on her last day at work tomorrow. She's long been one of my biggest baking champions and I couldn't let her leave without one last treat-to-end-all-treats.

Who's your baking inspiration?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Travels with Blondie: Heading on Down to Reston, Virgina

Silver Diner Breakfast
Last year, Big Bobo really flew the nest after taking a job on the outskirts of DC. Now he lives happily in the 'burbs of Virginia, walking around semi-wooded areas, entertaining the idea of taking up running, quitting his 20 year long smoking habit. I dare say he's officially a 10 o'clock bedtime adult. I went to visit him for a break from my life with a few nice nights in a hotel room (indoor pool!), and I found that there's a thriving Farm-to-Table diner chain! Color me impressed Virgin-Mar-Jersey!

Silver Diner
I spotted a Silver Diner or two on the way to my brother's house and thought that it was just some diner chain, but my sis-in-law told me they were so much more than that. They try to buy fresh and local, working with farms who practice sustainable agriculture, with some meat coming from Kansas' own Creekstone Farms. Everything we had was fresh, delicious, and affordable. The best part is they have a rewards card where if you show up 5 times in three months, you get $5 off your bill. When we went the diner was thriving, and I was proud to see people embracing the farm-to-table movement (or just simply enjoying a good breakfast in the 'burbs.) If you find yourself in the DC Metro area, you should totally stop by for some breakfast.

Red Velvet Cupcakery
Another highlight of the trip was stopping by Red Velvet Cupcakery in Reston's Town Center. I went for their cookies and cream cupcake: chocolate buttermilk cake with cookie pieces topped with their smooth American buttercream. They are gorgeous little cupcakes, and they use quality ingredients, but I found it hard to justify this small thing for $3.25 each. That price would cause outrage and rioting in the streets in New York, and here we were in Northern Virginia. Though, I wouldn't mind having their cakes again.

Silver Diner
Locations throughout Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey

Red Velvet Cupcakery
11939 Democracy Drive
Reston, VA
(703) 464-7075

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Browned Butter Bacon Doughnuts

Browned Butter Bacon doughnuts
No one told me when I started making doughnuts that it was habit forming. Now that I've tackled Potato Doughnuts and made a Pumpkin Doughnut topped Chili Chocolate Pudding Pie, I was feeling full of bravado and ready to face my greatest doughnut challenge. Yes, this Christmas I took on yeast doughnuts...

I don't have the best track record with yeast. I've killed more than my fair share of yeast beasts due to overheating, but with these doughnuts I got a nice double rise with a packet of instant yeast. By the time the doughnuts hit the oil however they weren't quite as poofy as I would have liked. Inspired by Blondie's drool-inducing Flex Donuts post on Midtown Lunch I dipped these in browned butter glaze and sprinkled with bacon. They weren't half-bad (though I'll admit that even cardboard wouldn't be half-bad after some browned butter glaze and bacon).

Still, there's room for improvement. So, I'll put it to you, dear readers. Do you have a great yeast doughnut recipe you can recommend? I want to perfect these babies so they are light and tender. Help a girl out!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Locande Verde is Officially on the "Must List"

Every now and then we get emails asking where we think a New York visitor "must" go when in town. We'll generally respond with the same list of places, mostly our favorites. Now we have another to add to the list: Locanda Verde. Until a few weeks ago, I wasn't aware that their awesome food did not come with an outrageous receipt: perfect for locals and tourists.

Locanda's Gingerbread House
When Locanda Verde opened awhile back, I wrongly assumed that it's TriBeCa address and swanky clientele meant it was totally out of my limited budget. Then a few friends of mine found out I'd never been, put my fears to rest, and off we went for dinner! I don't have a picture, but we started with their homemade sheep's milk ricotta. Creamy, fluffy, and beyond delicious, I wanted to lick the plate. I'm serious.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Our dinners to share were their Orecchiette with fennel sausage, Spice-Glazed Duck, and a side Roasted Brussels Sprouts with pancetta. The sprouts were roasted to perfection and had pancetta, need I say more? The duck came with skin, very juicy, and flavorful. The orecchiette's ample amount of sausage and rapini made it quite the filling meal on its own. I wouldn't say no to having either of these dishes again.

La Fantasia di Caramello
Pastry Chef Karen DeMasco desserts also really shine here. Don't worry about having an awesome meal only to be served a half-assed dessert. All three we got were excellent: Toffee Date Cake, Maple Budino, and La Fantasia di Caramello. If I'd *have* to pick one to eat again, it'd be the La Fantastia. It's a great size and has perfect textural differences to make it a truly awesome dessert. But I'd totally each all three again.

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St
(212) 925-3797