Thursday, August 30, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Burrito Barn, Freeport, Maine

Burrito Bowl 
Freeport, Maine is a tourist town, plain and simple. Home to L. L. Bean, the real deal 24/7/365 L. L. Bean and the town attracts plenty of bargain shoppers for the outlets and the quaintness of this super walkable small town. I've been going to Maine every summer of my life since I was born and my family was among the earliest settlers in Maine back in the colonial days. I've seen plenty of restaurants come and go in Freeport. One I hope will stick around isn't actually a restaurant at all but rather a cart behind the Starbucks and behind and across from the Abercrombie and Fitch (aka the repurposed home of my childhood library). Known as the Burrito Barn, they're serving up some excellent Tex Mex for a decent price in an expensive town...

I'm not actually much of a burrito fan owing to the fact that I don't particularly fancy flour tortillas, but I was hungry and when I saw that they had burrito bowls--all that good filling without the doughy tortilla to tie you down--I had to give it a try. The citrus cider pork burrito bowl ($7) was awesome and filling. The pork was super slow cooked and wicked tender. While Lawman doesn't mind sweet mixed with savory in desserts, he's not a fan in main courses. That said, even he attested to how good the pork filling was. The sweetness of the citrus didn't overwhelm the meat in the slightest. The bowl came with brown rice, beans, meat, veggies, cheese and for an extra $1 you could get a scoop of guac. Elsewhere in the country $8 for a burrito bowl might be a little steep, but in Freeport, I assure you this is a terrific deal. There's lots of pricey, mediocre food in town. Skip all those joints papering the town with menus and head down Nathan Nye Street behind the Starbucks for a tasty deal.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Things I'm Learning From All This Researching

Like I mentioned on Monday, I'm smack-dab in the middle of collecting streams and streams of research on Manhattan's Greenmarkets. Today's rough, tomorrow's rougher, and if I make it to Saturday night, I'll be drunk, in the fetal position on my bed, crying hysterically, wondering why I signed up for this. (Answer: so we can have the necessary data to backup our arguments) I have already learned many things from the first 13 market visits, like who probably has the best peaches this week and a few new apple varieties are out this year.

Honey Bunny Apples
I always thought the true death knell to outdoor times is when the grapes arrive in October. Now I know the death knell to summer is the arrival of Ginger Golds. They're literally everywhere. But the new varietal you should seek out is The Honey Bunny from Prospect Hill Orchards. It's more tart than sweet, and crunchy, almost like a Braeburn. I've been eating them all week, and plan on picking up a few for some sort of dessert treat. The orchard sells at the Tucker Square, Tribeca, Port Authority, and Ft. Washington markets.

Toigo Orchards
If you're looking to get in on the last of the peaches--I'm serious, the farmers keep saying to me that this is the last week for them--find a Toigo Orchards stand. They're not organic, but they do use Integrated Pest Management--it means few chemicals, and using environmentally sensitive ways of dealing with pests. Also, their peaches are freaking huge, juicy, sweet and altogether perfect right now! They're like peach candy.

St. Stephens Greenmarket
And so far the best market for Saturday morning lazing has been St. Stephens on the Upper East Side. It's small number of great stands means less of a crowd. Had I not just walked 50+ blocks, I would have sat and relaxed for a bit, maybe with a treat from nearby Two Little Red Hens. And another peach.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vendys 2012: Can We Pick 'Em or Can We Pick Em?

The Vendy Cup 
Yesterday the Street Vendor Project announced the finalists for the 2012 Vendy Cup and we were super excited to learn that 3 out of the 6 vendors are featured in our upcoming book New York a La Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks. And if you spring for the VIP ticket to this year's event you can see Blondie and me demo a boozy slushie recipe from 2010 Dessert Vendy winner Kelvin Slush from our book...

The finalists are: 
-The Cinnamon Snail (profiled in our book!)
-Uncle Gussy's (also profiled in our book!)
-Tortas Neza (yup, they're profiled in our book!)
-Xin Jiang Prosperity Kebabs (they're mentioned in our book, too!)
-Hamza and Medina Halal Food 
-Piatzlan Authentic Mexican Food 

 The Vendys will be held on Governor's Island on Saturday, September 15th from 12:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Ticket will sell out. I promise you, they will sell out. Today they just announced VIP tickets for a special early entry experience. Here are the details...

VIP Early Entry Tickets will get you into the Vendy Awards an hour early--during this hour (11:30am entry) you can eat to your heart (and stomach's) delight without the lines. The number of tickets at this level is limited to ensure the ultimate street eating experience. And if beginning your all-you-can-eat food experience an hour before the crowds arrive isn't enough, you will have exclusive access to the the following:

•Foodie “Meet-and-Eat:” Eat, drink, and hang out with some of this year’s celebrity judges and well-known foodies, including judge and Food & Wine Magazine Restaurant Editor Kate Krader, Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch, and Ed Levine from Serious Eats.

•Street Food Mini-Tours: Turnstile Tours will be offering a mini-version of their regular food cart tours, featuring an up-close and personal experience with two of this year's nominees. VIPs will meet the owners, hear their stories, and learn some tidbits on the history of street food in NYC. All, of course, while sampling the delicious cuisine.

•Cooking Demos: and bloggers, Siobhan Wallace and Alexandra Penfold (hey, that's us!), will demo a refreshing slushie cocktail recipe from 2010 Dessert Vendy winner Kelvin Slush for their upcoming book New York a la Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks (Running Press, Spring 2013).

Good for admission to the Vendy Awards. Copious amounts of food and wine. Each ticket is a tax deductible donation. Early Entry ticket buyers are entered into a lottery to become our "Citizen Judge," eat at Judges Table, and help choose our 2012 Vendy Cup winner. Limited Time Only, While Supplies Last. If you're already bought your ticket you can upgrade to VIP for only $50 more. And the money goes to a great cause, The Street Vendor Project and their advocacy for vendors rights. So what are you waiting for? Go get your tickets now!

Monday, August 27, 2012

And We Have the Busy Times

Ice Cream Soda
For some unknown reason I thought life would slow down after we handed in our copy-edited manuscript last Tuesday. Ha. Ha. I somehow mentally blocked that I was starting my part of a massive research project on Manhattan's farmers markets bright and early Wednesday morning. The bad thing is I'll have barely any free time this week (sorry, friends). The good thing is I get to see old friends, make new friends, and buy all sorts of Greenmarket treats that I tote around town in my bike's basket. Like the ice cream soda I got at New Amsterdam yesterday!

At the end of five+ hours of data collecting yesterday, I saw the gorgeous face of Fany Gerson from La Newyorkina manning her stand at New Amsterdam. Her and I hadn't seen each other in ages, so I was excited to catch up and eat some paletas. But there were no paletas! Fany was selling her ice cream and sorbets, two things I'd never had. This is what I get for not hitting up New Amsterdam in the past couple of months. Fany suggested I have an ice cream soda, using the soda from P&H Soda right next door, to go with the tacos I was eying. This is like a triple win for a sweaty, tired lady I was at the time. I went with blackberry ice cream and hibiscus soda--so pretty, so tasty, so fruity. The ice cream is thick, creamy, and decadent; it was hard not to get a scoop on its own afterwards (I did not mentally block the cupcake waiting for me at home.)

New Amsterdam Market
100 Peck Slip
Open every Sunday 11am to 4pm

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pig Island Press Preview and BBQ Sauce Competition

So, I told you how I'm going to Pig Island (September 1st, baby!) and I bought Lawman-in-law a ticket as a birthday present. Last night I went to a press preview at Palo Santo and sampled some awesome sauces in anticipation of the big day...

Because the R train decided to randomly go express I missed the intro, but I did get to meet Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy's 43 and chat a little about pig butchering, New York state apple cider and Pig Island. Organizer and food events queen, Jackie Gordon aka the Diva who Ate NY put together a great blogger BBQ sauce competition. All of the sauces that were entered from a Black Cherry Chipotle to an Asian-inspired sauce with hoisin were very good. Very, very good. I wouldn't be sad to have any of them on my plate, but Justin Schwartz of Justcook NYC took the prize (and my vote) with his black plum & bourbon sauce. Sweet, savory, spicy and tangy, Justin's sauce was nicely balanced and tasted like you needed another serving. I hope he posts the recipe.

While you might not be able to get Justin's sauce, you can still get in on the 80 piggies they'll have at the event. Early bird tickets for all the booze and all the pigs are still on sale for $70 until Monday, 8/27 when the price jumps to $85. Keep tabs on Pig Island via twitter @ilikepig

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Freeport Seafood Co. Lobster & Mac Cheese

Lobster Mac & Cheese 
Lobster Mac & Cheese. Super decadent or unnecessary lily-gilding? Discuss...

Once upon a time, I was in the latter camp. I love mac & cheese. I love lobster. Putting the two together, seems like a great idea, but do I need both to be satisfied? Can't I just be happy with lobster? Or mac & cheese? And does the addition of lobster really add that much? And are they really going to add enough lobster to make it worth my while? Well, if it's lobster mac from Freeport Seafood Company in Freeport, Maine the answer is a resounding yes.

This five cheese mac was outstanding on it's own, creamy cheese sauce, spiraled elbows (ideal for cheese sauce retention) and it's positively loaded with lobster pieces, and not wimpy chopped body meat pieces, but real, meaty claw pieces. CLAW PIECES!!!! This claw on top is not just for show. There are claws--sweet wonderful claws inside. At $18 it's spendy, but worth every nickle.

Freeport Seafood Company is the new kid in town, having just opened in May and I hope they stick around. They have a $9.99, whole lobster dinner special going with lobster plus fries and 'slaw. There are a lot of restaurants in Freeport that cater to non-discerning tourists ready to empty their wallets for a taste of Maine. You can get a real one here.

Freeport Seafood Company 175 Lower Main St
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-9105

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Food on Film

We're gearing up for the fall food festival high season--yes, every weekend between now and November has some great foodie event scheduled in. It's giving us something to look forward to while we close up the never-ending book. One festival you should look into getting tickets to is the NYC Food Film Festival happening October 18th to 21st. This year you can see the US premiere of WHISKY: the Islay Edition, among others. (God, I could listen to that brogue all day.)

Or you can see the case of Mickle's Pickle. Anyone steals my pickles, they'd get their hands chopped off. I'm like Snooki. Check out the rest of the official selections here, which includes films from our friends James Boo and Jason Lum. CONGRATULATIONS, GUYS!!!!

The official festival run-down has published yet, but keep checking for it to come out. We highly recommend going to at least one of their events.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm Going to Pig Island. Are You?

pig island 
Lawman-in-law recently celebrated a big birthday. He's near impossible to shop for, so I was super excited when it dawned on me that I didn't have to get him a "thing" for his birthday. I could get him an experience like a day eating his favorite meat (piggy) cooked by 25 of the top chefs in the city. Tie on your bib, Little B, we're going to Pig Island...

This year's Pig Island will be held on Governor's Island on Saturday, September 1st. From 11:30am until 4:30pm attendees will feast on 80 (!) locally sourced piggies. There will be beer from Sixpoint and local cider and wine pairings.

Here are some of the confirmed chefs:

Chef Dale Talde of Talde & Pork Slope, Anthony Sasso from Casa Mono, John Stage from Dinosaur BBQ, King Phojanakong from Kuma Inn & Umi Nom), Jacques Gautier of Palo Santo & Fort Reno, King Phojanakong from Kuma Inn & Umi Nom), Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and more!


Early bird tickets for all the booze and all the pigs are still on sale for $70 until next, Monday, 8/27 when the price jumps to $85. This week I'm going to a press preview, so I'll keep you posted on all the piggy news that fits. In the meantime you can keep tabs on Pig Island via twitter @ilikepig.

SIDE NOTE: There's going to be a blogger BBQ sauce competition at the press preview...I've never made BBQ sauce. I'm a little scared. Any and all tips and suggestions are most definitely welcome!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Super Cat

This has been one of the few joys of my week. I've decided to share it with you.

super cat, super cat
he will protect and save everyone
he is a millionaire and a cool bro
in a bitching mask, is fluffy and awesome
he only thinks about the fate of the world
he is not even distracted by cute ladies
because he has been castrated
super cat

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Dolphin Marina in Harpswell, Maine


The southern coast of Maine is made up of lots of little peninsulas. Some are short, some are long, but I'd be willing to bet most--if not all--are beautiful. Harpswell, just off of Brunswick, is one such idyllic peninsula. Generations ago my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather owned a big chunk of Harpswell, alas I'm descended from his daughter so that land didn't get passed on. Still I feel a strange sense of peace and belonging when I make the drive out winding route 123. The Casco Bay views off of Harpswell are stunning and Dolphin Marina is no exception...

Just as I Facebook sourced my dad's birthday cake, I also found out birthday dinner spot view Facebook when I spotted some awesome looking blueberry muffins on a friend's FB page. Turns out blueberry muffins are something of a signature at Dolphin Marina. Our waitress told us that the muffins were a nod to the days when the marina used to serve breakfast. They don't do breakfast anymore, but I sure am glad they still make those muffins, because they were worth the ride themselves.

Sometimes I forget how wonderful warm muffins can be. I feel like a few years ago muffins were in with the cool kids. People were generally pro-muffin. Muffins were invited to breakfast and brunch. Then there was a shift. Muffins were exposed as half naked cupcakes--too fatty, too sugary. You might as well eat a Big Mac. If you regularly pass muffins by, these are worth making an exception. Moist, tender and filled with Maine blueberries, I had no problem splitting this warm bad boy down the middle and slathering it with some sweet cream butter. Yes, I said it, I buttered this muffin and I'm glad.

Muffins come with most menu items like their chowders and entrees (I enjoyed a particularly good baked haddock with cucumber dill sauce). The place was hopping from the moment we arrived until we left just before closing. As my dad noted, "it's rare to go to a restaurant where everyone leaving is happy." If you get a muffin, I guarantee you'll leave happy, too. I have a feeling this is going to become an August tradition for our family.

Dolphin Marina and Restaurant
515 Basin Point South Harpswell, ME 04079

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ice Cream Sandwiches at Milk & Cookies!

Milk & Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches
It's hard work bathing suit shopping this time of year. Every store seems to have moved onto coats and boots. What about us with bathing suits and sandals that need replacing? I got about another month of beaching to do here! There's surfing to be done! Ugh, frustrating. So I comforted myself with an ice cream sandwich in the West Village.

Milk & Cookies Ice Cream Sandwiches
Milk & Cookies has been around for years, yet I had never tried it out for myself. Wrong move. The ice cream sandwiches are made with il laboratorio del gelato, the cookies being made in house, naturally. They have a bunch of delicious flavor combinations, but I decided to go with the Overload--peanut butter and chocolate is one of my most favorite flavor combos. My friend went with the Grasshopper and liked it enough, but wished she had mine. These sandwiches are a win if you get a bigger cookie base. You'll get the same amount of ice cream, but the spreading means less chance of a ice cream cookie sandwich mashing, though the chewy cookies did prevent any epic failure. The con with bigger cookies did mean more melting onto your hand. I definitely need to stop by again soon to try more treats!

Milk & Cookie Bakery

19 Commerce St
West Village
(212) 243-1640

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Papa Brownie!

Scratch Baking Co Birthday Cake 
Today is my dad's birthday so Lawman, Little B and I have hit the road to spend a few days with my dad to celebrate. Like Franck from Father of the Bride says "Because the cake more often determines what kind of wedding that you end up having" the same could be said for birthday cake. My dad requested a homemade Bumpy Cake like the one I did for my American Classics column on Serious Eats, but with the summer heat and all the travel, I didn't think that a Bumpy Cake would survive hours in a hot car. So I did what any devoted daughter would do, I took my plight to the internets...
Thanks to Facebook, I recently discovered Scratch Baking Co in Portland, Maine and I've been dying to check it out. A Facebook friend recently posted about the virtues of their cake so with my dad's birthday celebration on the line, I knew I had to pay them a visit.

Coming from New York I was excited/thrilled/overjoyed to see that the small cake, a 6 incher that feeds 4 to 6 was only $15. I picked the Ring Ding Cake*, a chocolate cake with whoopie pie filling and chocolate ganache, because it sounded kind of like a Bumpy Cake with the bumps on the inside. Plus one to Scratch Baking for the lovely piping personalization.

The cake itself was super moist and very chocolatey. The filling was perhaps more buttery than I'm used to in a whoopie pie (I'm an old school purist when it comes to whoopie filling, give me sugary Crisco goodness any day), it was rich and creamy. Between five of us we only got through half a cake, which left cake for breakfast on my dad's actual birthday (today!). By the time you read this I will likely already be on my second (or third slice). Feel free to join me in raising a glass to my dear dad. Happy Birthday!

*According to their site, Scratch Baking Co requires a minimum of 48 hours notice for cakes and when I spoke to the woman on the phone she mentioned checking the "cake schedule," I assume they limit the number of cakes they make on a given day, so plan accordingly!

Scratch Baking Co.
416 Preble St. South Portland, ME 04106
(207) 799-0668

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meanwhile, Out in Rockaway

Rockaway Fish Taco
One of the best parts of working at Robicelli's last year was becoming friends with Rachel from Nachos NY and Monique from Eatinist Bitch. Since I can still make my own schedule (for the moment), the three of us have been spending many week days hanging out in Rockaway while most people are stuck in their freezing offices.

This has meant finally trying two of the famous dishes from Rockaway Taco. One is their fish taco--I did have a taste of it at last year's Food Film Festival and it's definitely *the* best fish taco in the city. Yes, there's a battered and fried fillet underneath all that slaw and radishes. I also finally got to taste their chilaquiles--those are only available until 11am, Thursday-Sunday. And totally worth the extra early morning haul out to Rockaway. Plus, early arrivals means less lines for beers at Rippers. And you all know that the real reason why Rockaway's become the place to be.

Rockaway Taco
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd
Rockaway Beach
(347) 213-7466

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adventures in Recipe Testing: Agua Fresca de Sandia


Recipe testing (and retesting) continues. I never thought I'd make so many batches of tamales. Thankfully Lawman's colleagues are willing to lend a hand and some help with the eating effort. One recipe I can't imagine growing tired of is Agua Fresca de Sandia...

This blended watermelon drink from the Red Hook ball fields, is incredibly refreshing. I feel cooler just looking at the photo. It also holds its liquor well. Mmm...watermelon and rum. What do you drink when it's beastly hot?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roberta's, at Brooklyn Kitchen

Roberta's Almond Croissant
Our book's meat-riffic recipes have led to many visits to my local butcher shop, The Meat Hook. With another final push happening right now, Brownie and I have spent most of our waking hours this weekend testing and revising recipes in order to get everything just right. Of course, this also meant a few more visits to The Meat Hook, passing through The Brooklyn Kitchen, trying not to blow my budget on mugs or glasses or paper straws. Or bread from Roberta's. And in this last mission, I have failed. I have epic failure.

(I still want this tattoo)
It started last Saturday when, during my afternoon visit to pick up various meats, I immediately spotted a lone almond croissant as I reached the top of the entrance ramp. The box seemed so empty, the croissant wanted a friend. Too bad, I say! I snatched that croissant up like it was the last croissant that will ever pass by the painted cow. And it was ah-mazing. I firmly believe one of the butchers was trying to get me to give her my croissant. She needed to recognize! As if this debauchery wasn't enough, I completely picked up a crusty loaf of French bread yesterday. My lunch may or may not have simply been bread dipped in olive oil. Having such easy access to this bread is dangerous.

Oh, check out the Behind the Scenes of Roberta's bread baking.

Brooklyn Kitchen
100 Frost St
(718) 389-2982

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hot Brioche Doughnuts with Dulce de Leche

Mmm...brioche doughnuts with dulce de leche 
After 6 plus hours in the kitchen recipe testing on one of the hottest weekends of the year, you get a little punchy. What do you do when you get punchy while recipe testing? Put a bird on it, of course! These are the Dessert Truck's righteous brioche doughnuts. They were fluffy and soft and WARM. Yes, warm doughnuts...are their two happier words? I think not...

What could possibly make fluffy, warm doughnuts better? Um, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's Dulce de Leche (you know, that awesome sauce that goes on a Salty Pimp). Blondie and friends styled the awesome shot above of my woodland creature salt shakers (and a crab Christmas ornament) surrounding the doughnut. Mischief appears to be afoot! I can't say I blame them. The doughnuts were amazing add the dulce de leche and you have one awesome breakfast/dessert (dessert for breakfast?) combo. Our book is due out next April. All I have to say is get those stretchy pants ready because there are some darn tasty recipes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

[Insert Ridiculous Pot Pun Here]

Munchies Ice Cream
While I was away, I saw numerous mentions of a new flavor at Prospect Heights' Ample Hills: The Munchies. It involved salty and sweet components, and appeared to be absolutely divine, for those of us into that sort of thing. So maybe when Brownie, Lawman, Little B, and I found ourselves a few blocks away for dinner the other night, we might have wandered on over, and I might have completely had my sights on trying The Munchies.

Munchies Ice Cream
I don't know what makes the ice cream pretzel-infused, but I do know that the chunks of pretzels and chips made for crunchy salty good times. And who doesn't love a bit of color from mini M&Ms? If you ended up being a fan of Late Night Snack, this is right up your alley.

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Avenue
Prospect Heights
(347) 240-3926


Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!

Dirty Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwich 

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you the news that it's apparently National Ice Cream Sandwich Day! Get up from your computer and go celebrate. I know I will...

There are some tasty, tasty ice cream sandwiches in this wonderful city, but I'll be raising a 'wich at Coolhaus after shooting a couple photos for upcoming street food cookbook among the savory goodies like Korean BBQ nachos, shrimp ceviche and jalapeno cheddar corn cakes, we're going to have plenty of awesome dessert recipes, like Coolhaus owner, Natasha Case's Dirty Mint ice cream with double chocolate cookies. Mmmmm. If you could have an ice cream sandwich anywhere in the city, where would you go?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maple Sugar Pie in the West Village

Maple Sugar Pie
This humidity's really getting to me. I'm guessing I acclimated to the desert dry conditions in the Midwest because I've been feeling all sorts of uncomfortable since I got back. Anyway, a friend of mine has been wanting to introduce me to a fabulous little spot in the far West Village and he finally got his chance last night.

Left Bank opened late last summer and has managed to stay low-key--unlike many of the other restaurants in this neighborhood. The menu changes with the seasons and what's available at the farmers market, but one constant is the maple sugar pie. One of the owners, Micheline Gaulin, supplied her family's recipe for this Quebecois treat. The thick crust crumbles perfectly and doesn't overwhelm the maple custard goodness it holds. You don't even need the lemon whipped cream that comes with it.

Left Bank
117 Perry Street
West Village
(212) 727-1170