Monday, December 31, 2012

Skull & Cones May Just Be My All-Time Favorite Shake Shack Concrete

Skull and Cones concrete
Back in September we brought you the exciting news that Shake Shack New Haven had opened. Thanks to an invite from our food industry hero, Danny Meyer(!), my dad and brother (aka Lil' Bobo) were there for the preview party last night and my dad contributed his very first guest blog post reviewing the grub. Ever since he declared the Skull and Cones concrete made up of chocolate and vanilla custards with a shattered sugar cone, peanut butter sauce and chocolate truffle cookie dough mixed in, I've been dying to try it, and some Christmas Eve errands in the Elm City provided just that opportunity...

I'm a bit of a concrete fiend. I like my ice cream (or custard, as it were) with mix-ins. Lots of delicious mix-ins and Shake Shack delivers. Each Shack has it's own unique concrete menu, many of which are inspired by their location. For the New Haven Shake Shack they tip their hat to old Eli Yale with the Skull and Cones, a cheeky tribute to the infamous secret society. But really, how can you go wrong with both vanilla & chocolate custard plus, crunchy waffle cone bits, plus peanut butter and chocolate cookie dough. The effect is crunchy-chewy-gooey-goodness. In the interest of Yuletime moderation (as if there were such a thing!) Lawman and I ordered a half concrete. HUGE mistake, as we soon found ourselves scraping the bottom of the cup longing for the other half. Heed our advice and get a whole (or better yet, get your own, you won't want to share this one).

Shake Shack New Haven
Shake Shack New Haven
986 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 747-8483

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very Local Christmas

Swingle from Steve's Authentic
This Christmas in the wake of the massive Hurricane Sandy recovery underway in New York as I made my gift list I tried to include local merchants and vendors and I must say it made for a very delicious Christmas…
We brought my parents a key lime pie from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies in Red Hook for Christmas Eve. (Of course we needed to get a swingle, a dark chocolate-covered key lime tart on a stick for us for the road).
I stuffed Lawman’s stocking with sweet and salty and peppermint brownie corners from Baked NYC. And gave various friends and relatives caramels and honeycomb candy from Liddabit Sweets, brownies and hot cocoa from Robicellis, ice cream from MilkMade ice cream, towels and cards from Claudia Pearson Illustration, and I did the rest of my stocking stuffer shopping along 5th ave in Brooklyn at Pink & Olive and Scaredy Kat.
Christmas was a hit. There wasn’t anyone who was disappointed by their treats. As we move into the New Year, let’s not forgot our local businesses. The rebuilding process is going to be a long one and they’ll need our support.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn Shake Shack!

Birthday Cake Concrete
The Downtown Brooklyn Shake Shack celebrated it's first birthday yesterday in traditional Shake Shack fashion, with a birthday cake concrete. When I saw on Facebook that said birthday cake concrete included devil's food cake with vanilla buttercream from Brooklyn's own BAKED, I sent Lawman an urgent email alerting him to our dinner plans...

I love that when Shake Shack's have their opening anniversaries that they celebrate with a one-day only birthday cake concrete. At the Brooklyn Shack this year's offering was a vanilla custard with BAKED's devil's food cake, caramel sauce and sprinkles--'cause how can you have a birthday cake without sprinkles? Happy birthday Brooklyn Shake Shack! Here's to many more!

Shake Shack
409 Fulton Street New York, NY 11201
(718) 307-7590

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bananas Foster Sundae

Caramelizing Bananas
I've never been a fan of banana split sundaes. It just seems like forced fruit-eating. Why is there a banana? Who came up with this idea? And when you try to slice your banana with your spoon and the whole thing goes over the edge, possibly taking part of your sundae with it! Ugh, the agony! Doug from Big Gay Ice Cream understands, so he decided to experiment with caramelizing banana slices yesterday *and then* creating the sundae. Genius.

Banana Sundae
The sundae came with their weekly special flavor, hazelnut brownie; ours started flopping over because it was melting. And it tasted delicious, even if the heat and cold made my sensitive teeth hurt a bit. It was a wonderful pre-dinner dessert to split.

Big Gay Ice Cream
61 Grove Street
Greenwich Village

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dyker Heights: Go for the Lights, Stay for the Old-School Italian Food

Mozzarella en carozza 
A couple weekends ago we made the pilgrimage to see the impressive Christmas lights in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. We decided to make a full evening of it and take advantage of some of the neighborhood's old school Italian food at Colandrea New Corner, a restaurant recommended to us by none other than Allison Robicelli. And if Allison Robicelli tells you that an Italian restaurant is going to be good, you can take that to the bank...

I wish I had taken some shots of the interior, but let me set the scene for you. Colandrea was founded in 1939. The three dining rooms are done in wood paneling. Waiters wearing burgundy jackets mill around making sure your water and bread basket are filled. There's reproduction Italian artwork and the walls are covered with Italianate oil paintings. In short it was like visiting my Great Aunt Ida (RIP). I actually got a little teary with nostalgia.

fried calamari
We started our meal with a half order of fried calamari ($9.75). Yes, that's a half order. Yes, the table next to us got a whole order. You'll want to have about 6 people to do the whole order justice and still have room for your meal. It was enormous. The half order wasn't shabby either. In addition to the fried calamari we got mozzarella en carrozza ($8.75), which is essentially a giant breaded square of mozzarella cheese with sauce. I told my husband to think of it as "cheese parmagiana," delicious!


The lasagna ($11.00) was an impressive tower of meat, cheese and sauce. Lots of tasty, tasty red sauce. We also ordered a linguine with white clam sauce that the kitchen forgot to bring us. No matter, we were already stuffed. I can make mean Italian food in my own kitchen, but sometimes it's nice to have your meal prepared for you. For me the trip to Colandrea was like visiting my grandparents' generation. Now that my grandfather and his siblings have all passed, those are meals I can't ever get back. Colandrea dishes up solid cooking and generous portions tinged with memories. I'll definitely be back.

Colandrea New Corner Restaurant
7201 8th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Just Haven't Been Eating Much

Gnocchetti con le pulezze
Sorry, friends, sorry for falling off the face of the earth for the past week and infrequently posting and all that. Three research papers, only two of which I was proud of handing in (if I can revise that third one, I will). And not much eating, to be frank. I've been very reclusive, shuffling between my apartment and the library. But when the urge to come to have a bite and have it not be pizza or delivered Chinese, I did stop by a few joints.

The same night I headed to Big Gay Ice Cream's new shop, Donny and I walked over to Porsena for some dinner. Everything on the menu seems delicious, but I finally went for the Gnocchetti con le pulezze: gnocchetti with mustard greens, garlic, anchovy, chili, and breadcrumbs. I've recently been sauteing breadcrumbs before adding them to pasta, so it was exciting to see this happening at a restaurant. And I loved this plate of pasta! You don't usually see spicy Italian pasta and it was refreshing, in a way, having a new take on a known dish. Similar to having savory ice cream. For a pricey $18 a bowl, it better be plate-licking delicious.

Made Fresh Daily
I found myself down at the South Street Seaport within the past few days, only to see that almost every shop there is still closed. Except for Made Fresh Daily! There you find great Porto Rico coffee, an airy shop with plenty of seats, and delicious sandwiches. I got a huge slice of a frittata that came with a significant salad and hunk of focaccia, and it kept me going until late in the evening. If you find yourself down there looking for a bite, head here!

I'm going to go rest my wrists now.

21 East 7th Street
East Village
(212) 228-4923

Made Fresh Daily
226 Front Street
South Street Seaport
(212) 285-2253

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mighty Quinn's Whole Brisket Rocks the Party

Mighty Quinn's Brisket sandwich 

The DUMBO Smorgasburg season at the Tobacco Warehouse may be over 'til spring, but that doesn't mean you have to go into complete Mighty Quinn's BBQ withdrawal. While you're waiting for their East Village restaurant to open (Facebook says soon!), if you have access to a car, you can get brisket-y goodness out in Stockton, NJ at the Stockton Farm Market. And you can even order a whole or half brisket...

The brisket goes for $23 per pound and it makes for an awesome (and impressive) party fare. We laid into about half of a whole brisket for a family gathering this weekend. Delicious! I can wait to check out the restaurant when it opens!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mile End Smoked Meat Sandwich

Last year at around this time Lawman, Little B and I were headed for Montreal where we discovered the joy of smoked meat. Alas, Schwartz's doesn't deliver. Feeling a bit nostalgic for good old Canada, we finally checked out Mile End Deli in Brooklyn for a sandwich...

Mile End is just one of many businesses hit hard by Sandy (their baking and smoking facilities were submerged in under four feet of water). The smoked meat on rye with mustard rings in at $14. It's not huge. But it is delicious and worth the splurge for those who love deli.
Right now through Sunday they are serving surf 'n' turf latkes for Hanukkah. According to Eater, that involves two latkes "topped with chopped liver, gribenes, and pickled eggs, and the other has trout roe and whitefish salad." And they're also taking reservations for their "traditional" Jewish Christmas spread on 12/24, 12/25, and 12/26. Jewish Christmas, for the uninitiated, is traditionally Chinese food because those are the restaurants typically open on Christmas Day--Dan Dan Noodles with Spicy Lamb! BBQ Duck! Smoked Bluefish Toast! If you're interested, don't delay, they have limited seatings and I'm sure the reservations are going fast.

Mile End Delicatessen

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Apple Sundaes at Big Gay Ice Cream

Apple Gobbler
Fancy grilled cheeses aren't the only things keeping me going through my final papers. Big Gay Ice Cream opened a new shop within a five minute walk from school. Ice cream sundaes have calcium! That's a nutrient!

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
I stopped by the new shop Thursday evening mainly to taste the week's special flavors: brownie batter and coconut. I ended up getting them mixed into a Salty Pimp--which was awesome--but I also got an Apple Gobbler: vanilla soft serve with pie pieces, apple butter and bourbon butterscotch sauce! If you're a fan of fall desserts, this is definitely one to check out. I'll be stopping by again this week as the special flavor is speculoos!

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
61 Grove St
Greenwich Village

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mimi's Hummus Caters for the Holidays

Hummus Masbache from Mimi's Hummus 
We get a lot of press releases, but unless it's something that we love or we think our readers will love, it tends to quickly get disposed of. Last week, I noticed a news blast that's definitely worth a mention for hummus fans, especially those of you planning an upcoming holiday party. My go-to hummus spot (and the best in the city, in my opinion), Mimi's Hummus is now offering a full catering menu (with free delivery for $250).

The winter menu is up on their website. And it includes not only their famous hummus and brunch dishes, like their shakshuka and super tasty Mimi's sandwich, but also soups and mains like lamb meatballs and Moroccan salmon. We hosted Little B's first birthday  party with his grandparents at Mimi's, but if we were having a larger crowd, I would definitely consider the catering option. They do need 7 days advance notice, so keep that in mind if you are planning for the upcoming holidays.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finals Time Comfort Food

Grilled Cheese
"Ugh, never let me take three classes again."--actual words spoken to my advisor in the past week. I'm holding on tight, tapping out three long research papers and a revised short paper in the next week. Eating has gone to the back burner, but a girl's still gotta eat sometime and, oh, paying bills. I headed to Hope Garage in Williamsburg to check it out for Citysearch. And boom! I have a new spot to hit up after playing video games at Barcade.

Hope Garage
Most people know that after an evening at Union Pool or Barcade, you're pretty much going to Kellogg's for a quick bite. I've seen things at Kellogg's. Things you don't want to know about. Now, we have Hope Garage. Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but this grilled cheese sandwich was on thick, soft bread and involved caramelized onions! Then there was the smoked kale with bacon. I don't even know how you smoke kale, but there were no pictures. I ate it too quickly.

Hope Garage
163 Hope Street
(718) 388-4626

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Travels with Brownie: Helados de San Jeronimo

Helado de Mora 
Lawman's family jokes that someday I will be the first importer of helados de San Jeronimo, a line of mini paletas from Colombia that I simply adore. Naturally on a recent trip to Cali for a family wedding, I had to make a pit stop at the airport for a paleta...

How do I love this ice cream? Let me count the ways. The paletas are small so you could either satisfy yourself with a little something sweet (or, you know, have a few). And the flavors! The arequipe (a Colombian equivalent to dulce de leche) and coco (coconut) are two of my favorites. I also love the sweet and creamy café. This time around I tried the mora (a local blackberry), which is Lawman's favorite. At the wedding we had amazing natural fruit pops that are bigger than the San Jeronimos and have a lot more fruit pulp, but that didn't dull my enthusiasm for these wee paletas--that's like comparing a smoothie and a milkshake, I love them both. The mora is sweet, a tad tart, and creamy. Just the right little treat to enjoy before hoping a flight back to Bogotá.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Flea Markets at Night

BK Night Bazaar
One of the biggest stressors this time of year is when to fit in all the gift shopping you need to get done. Go immediately after work and you'll be hangry. Try to fit it all in during the weekends, and you'll never have anytime to actually enjoy the season. Then you find out about BK Night Bazaar: a way to eat dinner, get shopping done, and hang out with friends. Wins!

The Brooklyn Night Bazaar started last year at the former DeKalb Market. This year, it's right off the L in Williamsburg. After a day of studying, I headed over late in the evening, not thinking it would be busy. But it was! A line around the block! A concert! Many people inside shopping, drinking, and eating! My first stop was Nextdoororganics to visit Chrissy Michaels and get some dinner. She immediately made me a bag of popcorn tossed with coffee and chocolate. She then took me around to some of the other vendors to pick up more goodies.

Sunday Gravy Lasagna
We stopped by Dreamscoops first to pick up a scoops of cookies & cream and salted caramel. This salted caramel beats out that other salted caramel everyone loves. No bitter aftertaste, just creamy caramel goodness. Then it was onto Sunday Gravy for a bowl of cheesy, saucy lasagna complete with a meatball. For $8, it's a little pricey, but totally worth it, especially if you head there with a picky eater in tow.

DUB Pies
Close by was DUB pies, maker of Australian pot pies. I didn't get a chance to try them since I had my eye on Oaxaca tacos. I need to prepare for my upcoming Oaxacan adventure somehow. Be warned, Oaxaca's tacos bring a bit of the heat, but the tender meat is so delicious.

Live Eels
For anyone needing a show in between shows, look for the fresh fish guy. He's grilling up fresh Long Island catches and has a tank full of live eels. When you're least expecting it, they start squirming. It's a bit frightening, but really fascinating to watch.

Raw Apple Pie
Chrissy took me back to her booth and feed me excellently made raw vegetable spring rolls (it's like she knows I've been stress eating cookies for the past week), finishing me off with her raw apple pie. It's a sliced up crunchy Mutsu apple with honey yogurt and granola on top. I felt so healthy!

Brooklyn Night Bazaar is happening every Friday and Saturday night, 6pm to midnight, until December 22nd at 45 North 5th Street in Williamsburg (it's the building with the HUGE "Northside" painted on it).

Monday, December 3, 2012

R.I.P. Drake's Cakes

Drake's Yodels 
If you've been living under a rock, perhaps you haven't heard that Hostess is closing. It's sad to see an iconic American company shut its doors, especially when it means laying off over 18,000 workers. I don't have fond childhood memories of lunchboxes stuffed with Hostess treats because I grew up in New England, a Drake's Cakes stronghold. My mom sent me to school with Devil Dogs and Yodels, not Twinkies or SnoBalls. And it was with great sadness that I discovered that Drake's, a Brooklyn-born company is also shutting down in the wake of Hostess' closing. See, Hostess gobbled up their regional competitor some years ago and the Twinkie is taking the Yodel down with it...

When I learned that Drake's was also ceasing production I asked my dad to run out to get me some treats for old times sake. The aisle was bare. They already had sold out of Drake's Cakes (my beloved mini cinnamon-sugar coffee cakes) and fruit pies. Not to mention Funny Bones, Yankee Doodles, and Ring Dings. My dad did manage to nab the last box of Yodels which have held a special place in my heart since nursery school. We didn't often have dessert in our lunches, but when we did it was a treat. Yodels came in a twin pack--one for keeping and one for sharing (or trading as the case may be). Sometimes I would nibble off the waxy chocolate coating first. Other times I'd just sink my teeth right in. Alas, growing up has taken a toll on all my childhood junkfood loves. My once beloved Peeps are way too sweet. And even dear Yodels, taste a lot less chocolatey than I remember--it's been ages since I've had one, so I couldn't tell you if it was Hostess tweaking the recipe of just my own changing taste. Still the nostalgia runs deep. I hope that another company buys up the Drake's recipes and restores them to their glory. What was your favorite Drake's or Hostess treat?