Last weekend I had the chance to visit CA for the first time in more than two decades. I’ve heard some awesome things about the food truck scene on the left coast and it’s no secret that I love food trucks (did you hear Blondie and I are writing a book about them?). Naturally I had to scope things out for myself and I wasn’t disappointed…
What a wonderful world we live in that I can just google Brea + food trucks and come up with a truck just 5 minutes from my hotel. Apparently Dos Chinos, an Asian-Mexican fusion truck, parked near where I was staying on Friday. Score! Previewing their menu online, I knew that I HAD to get the garlic fries with cotija cheese. And they were certifiably AWESOME. These were the hands down best garlic fries I've ever had it my life. They were super garlicky. Super crispy. And the cotija adds just the right touch of saltiness.
The tacos were great, too. Korean tacos have made some serious inroads in the NYC food truck scene, but these tacos were a pan-Asian sort of fusion. I chose the BOLSA ROAST PORK, a Vietnamese roast pork belly and the HOLLYWOOD CHICKEN, a thai coconut curry chicken. Really unique combos. They weren't anything that I would imagine on a taco, but the flavors worked. Delicious!
If you're in the OC, seek out Dos Chinos and please, please(!) get some garlic fries for me.
I don't get to Bay Ridge often. From Greenpoint, the ride down there can take upwards of an hour and that's if everything goes right for you on the MTA. So I leave it to Allison Robicelli to tell me what to visit when I do find the time to meander on down. And for the past couple of months I've heard all sorts of raging about the re-opening of Leske's Bakery, so I went. I do need to keep current on New York City's black and whites!
Leske's is not only known for their black and whites, but also their Scandinavian specialties. Sunset Park and Bay Ridge used to have one of the largest concentrations of Scandinavians in the country. This population ended up being torn apart by Robert Moses and his building of the Gowanus Expressway, but a few stayed and their institutions held on for as long as they could, including Leske's. It ended up shuttering last year, but new management took over and they ended up re-opening in the same space.
I went primarily for the cookie, but once there I knew I needed to try more. Who knows when I'll be back, you know? I narrowed my additional selections to a cream puff and a cruller. Their cookies are topped with decadent frosting--no fondant here. It's definitely one of the better ones, but I'd have to do a head-to-head with Joyce's Bakeshop in Prospect Heights before saying more on that front. The cream puff was good, you can't really go wrong with fresh whipped cream with me, but I would have preferred a richer cream in the middle though. The doughnuts were awesome. Probably not "trek out to Bay Ridge on your afternoon off" fantastic, but definitely "if I lived in the neighborhood, this would be my spot" awesome.
Ok. The autumnal equinox has officially come and gone. I can now get behind this whole “it’s fall” thing. And nothing says fall to me like fairs. Street fairs. Agricultural fairs. I love ‘em all. It’s been a long held, not-so-secret desire of mine to attend one of the monster state fairs (Minnesota and Texas, I’m looking at you!). It doesn’t look like my dream is going to be coming true this year…booo…but that doesn’t mean I can’t make funnel cake at home…?
Yes, funnel cake at home. For fair junkies like me without a fix in sight this may very well be the next best thing. And the recipe I developed for my American Classics column over at Serious Eats is super easy (hint: it involves “complete” pancake mix) and best of all you can control your funnel cake size and toppings.
Funnel cakes are just the tip of the iceberg of the wonders that are fair foods. Fried dough pizzas, hot fudge sundaes, fried pickles on a stick, cotton candy, caramel apples...the list goes on and on. I love when fair foods represent their particular region. Growing up in New England it wasn't uncommon to find a local church or group like the Rotary Club or Lion's selling clam chowder in a fair booth as a fundraiser for charity. What’s your favorite fair food? And where do you get it?
I haven't been able to do my regular Saturday morning run and farmers market routine for over a month now. It's been throwing me off, causing all sorts of unease and confusion. This past Saturday, my routine was able to return--complete with $2 monster bunches of kale--except everything had to be rushed for a noon time yoga session in Brooklyn Bridge Park. But as soon as I biked over, I was starved! And all I could think about while I desperately tried to focus on my chakras was cupcakes. Namely the Robicelli's cupcakes that were just over the hill behind me.
I tried to make it to the end of om-ing, but I lacked the willpower to power through. At least I didn't go all gangnam style walking out during the cat/cow! I quickly ducked into the Brooklyn Local, picked up a hot dog from Brooklyn Cured, chatted with our new best friend, Zack from Kelvin Slush, and then headed over to the Robicelli's booth. I'd seen Allison instagramming ingredients for some super-secret limited edition cupcake: the Krumkake aka cardamom scented cake topped with Bavarian buttercream, lingonberry jam, and Krumkake pieces! Color me Brooklyn Norwegian! I firmly believe lingonberries are underutilized, so I instantly loved this cupcake. I didn't taste much of the cardamom, but then again, I was focused on the berries. I'm not so secretly hoping they bake these again, maybe as a Thanksgiving special? Enough of the boring, uninspired pumpkin and/or apple treats.jump
Crazy good invites keep finding their way into our inbox, like the one we got from Gilt City! Who knew we were cool enough for the people behind Gilt to email us?! (Hi, guys!!) (Speaking of, if anyone wants to throw this my way, I am down. I'll even take you with me.) Well, the invite was to eat dinner at The Hurricane Club with Lee Schrager, the man behind the Wine & Food Festival curtain. Drinks in coconuts, roasted pigs, and roman candles?! This is an easy one, folks.
I don't know if this is true for all of Gilt City's dinners, but this one involved eating a bit separated from the dining floor, communal style with complete strangers. This is actually something Brownie and I have come to love since you can meet new people and it tends to get really friendly very fast. That said, it's not for everyone and does require some seating forethought.
Speaking of getting friendly, the dinner included two boozy drinks--almost everyone went for their signature #77 aka the drink in the coconut. It's fun drinking out of coconuts. Their other tiki drink offering, the Hibiscus Sling, offered up boobies and Cristal, just our style.
The dinner's three courses involved a variety of menu offerings. The Imperial Pupu platter, house wings, jungle salad, all sorts of delicious tiki dishes. But the main attraction of the night was a 30 pound roast suckling pig. That was presented to us with three roman candles aka THE BEST WAY TO EVER PRESENT YOUR DINNER! (Big Bobo has since ixnayed having roman candles at Thanksgiving, something about fire hazards.) After de-candleing the piggy was butchered into square chunks, most with a thick layer of the perfect crispy cracklin skin still attached. Sweet dreams will be made of this pig. It was so incredibly tender and juicy, it caused both of us to immediately begin considering having a group meal here.
The sweet end of the meal could never live up to that third course. Nothing can. This was a decadent slab of devil's food cake sandwiching a layer of cream before being covered with melted chocolate. We diligently ate it, and wished we had asked for doggy bags of the pork. Instead, we might have taken home a couple of desserts.
Go west, young lady! At least that's what they say. I should be packing my bags for a little business trip to LA. Technically I'll be staying in the Brea/Fullerton area, but I should have some time visiting with family and we'll be mobile. And it's my first trip to California since 1989. Sooo...dear readers...got any hot tips on where to eat?
My Azi is an avid reader of the blog and she has already scheduled a requisite In-N-Out visit. I won't have a ton of time, but as with any trip, long or short, I want to make sure I get lots of good food in. Any tasty food trucks or other recommendations east of LA? Even if I don't get there this weekend, I'm sure my Azi would love some great recs near where she lives. Thanks in advance!
It's no secret I like beer. This is a picture of the beer and pizza I walked 20 minutes in a freaking blizzard for. Because I was bored, and I needed a beer. (Eating's also good.) One thing I love about the fall high season is there's some great beer-centric events on the calendar. Here are two you might want to check out.
On October 6th, Village Voice brings its excellent fun times to Brooklyn with Brooklyn Pour. Do you see that list of brewers on tap? There's 60. I'm not naming them all here, but it includes some of my personal favorites: Ommegang, Kelso, Victory, Narragansett. I'm such a sucker for Narragansetts right now. There's going to be food too, including lobster tacos, sausages, and pretzels. But you're really going for the beer, and to maybe pick the brain of the brewers.
Then November 17th, Beerathon returns. It's where a bunch of people try to drink 26 beers at 26 different bars throughout the East Village/West Village area. I attempted such feats last year, only making it to around 13 before hopping in a cab home. With the right group of people, it's completely a great way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
Brooklyn Pour is Saturday, October 6th at One Hanson in Fort Green, Brooklyn. Tickets are still on sale ($65 for VIP, $45 for General Admission) and can be bought here.
New York City Beerathon goes down Saturday, November 17th, with its $85 tickets on sale here. jump
In case you haven't heard, this past Saturday was the 2012 Vendy Awards. In honor of our upcoming book (why, yes you can pre-order it already!), we demo'd some seriously delicious Kelvin Slush inspired blender cocktails and helped the awesome Kelvin team hand out 1000, that's right 1000 boozy slushies to a very eager crowd. It's not often in your life that you get to be up close and personal with 8 cases of prosecco and it was all for a good cause, supporting the Street Vendor Project and their advocacy efforts for vendors' rights. With a whole new Market Vendor Award category there were more vendors there than ever before. I feel like I only scratched the surface in terms of tasting all of the deliciousness of the day. Here's a peek at some of my favorite photos and my favorite bites...
After all of the prep, I can't believe I didn't get a shot of our finished slushies! But here's a photo of Alex and Zack from Kelvin pouring that prosecco like a couple of bosses. They've recently launched a line of frozen cocktails and swank bars around the city, you can check them out at Cafe de La Esquina and Berry Park in Williamsburg, Coffee Shop on Union Square West, the Thompson LES Hotel poolside bar and the Gansevoort Park Hotel rooftop bar.
A last year ago we discovered fantastic kebabs at Xin Jiang Prosperity Kebabs in Chinatown. Their spicy lamb kebab was meaty heaven on a stick.
Mayhem & Stout's braised meat sandwiches were a highlight of my afternoon. The pork shoulder was so tender and flavorful that I had to have two(!), thereby breaking Vendy eating strategy rule #1--Thou shalt eat, enjoy, move on and repeat. Had I been a little less bashful about my sheer gluttony I would have gone back for a 3rd and 4th, for sure. Ifu have to check these guys out at the DeKalb Market before it closes on 9/30. Follow them on twitter @MayhemandStout for news and pop-up locations.
Another market vendor winner was the lobster and shrimp ceviche from Pestle and Mortar. Lobster, shrimp, and mango? Please!
Special congrats to our vegan pals at The Cinnamon Snail who nabbed the People's Choice award this year.
They did an awesome sampling of both sweet and savory options including many of my favorites (the gochujang slider, the portobello carpaccio, the fig pancakes and their rockin' chamomile doughnuts).
The gorditas from Tortas Neza were hard to put down (especially when piping hot...mmmm).
Bushmills and bacon ice cream with chocolate chip cookies from Coolhaus. Ohh, yeaah.
There were several things I didn't get a photo of that deserve a special shout out: the mixed platter from Uncle Gussy's (Little B was chanting "Uncle Gussy's! Uncle Gussy's!") and the rose flavored lassi pops and mango and strawberry lassi shots from Monsieur Singh. Oh, those lassi shots. Still thinking about them and wishing they were more than just a shot.
Tuesday we brought you the exciting news that Shake Shack New Haven is due to open this week. Well, today's the day. 11:00am is the time and 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 we have an extra special guest post from my dad. Take it away Papa Brownie...
Please note, this is my dad's first time at the Shack (and first blog post--sorry for the blurry photos, dear readers, he's just learning!)
New Haven concretes menu!
New Haven's Shake Shack opened it doors on Chapel Street Wednesday night with an hugely successful party. Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer and CEO Randy Garutti were on hand to welcome in New Haven and it appeared that much of New Haven was there to welcome them.
An enthusiastic staff fed a boisterous crowd trays of juicy burgers, hot dogs and fries along with oceans of beer, wine, shakes and delicious concretes unique to Yale and New Haven. Shake Shack's well-known combination of good food and good service is a welcome addition to an already vibrant food scene near the Yale campus.
Generations of power elite have enjoyed the Skull and Bones secret society but, thanks to Shake Shack, the rest of society can now enjoy a not so secret Skull and Cones. Papa Brownie and Lil Bobo agree that this is the best of the unique concretes and love the cheeky name. It combines chocolate and vanilla custards with a shattered sugar cone and mixes in a peanut butter sauce and chocolate truffle cookie dough. Little B would pronounce this to be delicious if Brownie would let him eat any.
Elm City Coffee Break concrete
Elm City Coffee Break is a winner, too. Coffee cake marshmallow sauce, a shortbread cookie and carmelized pecans are mixed with vanilla custard in an effort to completely derail Papa Brownie's heretofore successful diet regimen.
I can't comment on the beer and wine because I didn't have a driver to take me home but most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying the Brooklyn Brewery Shackmeister Ale.
But aside from the good service, the key to the Shack's success will be its high quality burger and hot dogs. I grew up nearby the second-ever In-N-Out Burger and had his share of their justly famous double doubles but, truth be told, a single ShackBurger outshines a double double from In-N-Out Burger in both flavor and quality (and beside the nearest In-N-Out is in Utah. That upstart-but-huge chain from Arlington, Virginia isn't even worth naming now that New Haven has a Shake Shack.
Papa Brownie's first Shack Burger!
Confidence is a word that strikes me as applicable. New Haveners have a loyalty to locally-made Hummel's hot dogs, but Shake Shack can be confident that its Vienna all-beef dogs will be able to hold their own and win new fans. Similarly, Ashley's is the long-established ice cream of New Haven and Yale, but Shake Shack's custard is really a different product and, it too, will find a spot New Haveners haven't known needed to be filled. The same applies to the burgers. New Haven's venerable Louis Lunch claims to have invented the hamburger but that original and unique type of burger is also a completely different thing that just shares name of "burger" with Shake Shack's.
The Handsome Dog (little nod to Yale's bulldog mascot Handsome Dan)
My few bites of other things suggests that the entire menu is worth some return trips to Chapel Street. The vegetarian 'Shroom Burger was a tasty and worthy offering and the Crinkle cut fries were perfectly cooked, lightly salted and served hot. The Handsome Dog with cheese sauce and ale-marinated onions is on my radar for the next visit.
Welcome to New Haven; there's plenty of room left for Shake Shack in what might seem like a crowded food scene in New Haven. Shake Shack New Haven
986 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 747-8483 jump
Last night was a bit exciting for both of us. 1) We got to explore a few areas in the Pfizer Building--its the former home of Pfizer that's been slightly abandoned. A developer is turning it around and bringing in food companies needing commercial space. There are some totally creepy spots and totally awesome ones too! I spotted at least one "Mustache Covering" sign! 2) We were there to test the boozy slushies we'll be making with Kelvin Slush at the Vendy Awards!!
In prep for our demo and their boozy slushies, we penned a post for the Vendy blog that went live yesterday. Right now we *know* we're going to have a white peach Bellini. It was just too good, we can't not share this with the world. As for the other drink, you'll just have to wait and see! I can guarantee it's going to be absolutely wonderful to drink at 11:30 in the morning when you have a full day of food ahead of you.
As a native Elm City gal, I was super excited to here that Danny Meyer was expanding the Shack Shack empire to New Haven, CT. The NH Shack, conveniently located on Chapel Street near the New Haven Green and Meyer's alma mater, Yale University and is scheduled to open THIS THURSDAY, September 13th. Any true Shake Shack fan knows that you judge a Shake Shack not by it's burgers--they're all awesome--but by it's concretes, each location has three special signature concretes. I've been dreaming up what they might concoct for the New Haven branch since it was announced in March and I was not disappointed...
One of our favorites things about the concretes at Shake Shack is that they play with the local color/flavors. For the New Haven Shack I was expecting some sort of play on Yale Blue with blueberries and ding, ding, ding...we have:
Elm City Coffee Break: vanilla custart, coffee cake marshmallow sauce, shortbread cookie, caramelized pecans
I copied the description directly from the menu and I'm assuming that there should be a comma between "coffee cake" and "marshmallow sauce." This is a nice nod to Lithuanian Coffee Cake and New Haven's time honored indie coffeehouse tradition.
The third concrete was a total surprise to me and well played...
Though I'm kind of pulling for a extra special "Wafflepoof" concrete might be in order--I'm thinking Chocolate custard, marshmallow sauce, sugar cone pieces, chocolate covered crisped rice puffs. And next year when The Game is at Yale Bowl there should be some sort of special concrete...
Other nice New Haven nods on the menu...
Foxon Park Root Beer! This excellent natural soda company out of East Haven is a local favorite and their root beer (and birch beer!) are awesome.
Also pleased to see a little nod to Yale's mascot with the "Handsome Dog," a Vienna all-beef dog topped with Shack cheese sauce and crispy ShackMeister Ale marinated onions. Here's the full menu:
Thanks to Danny Meyer & co for doing the Elm City proud! Can't wait to check out the new Shack!
New Year's Day 2010: Me, in little town on the prairie Manhattan, Kansas, hearing about making cinnamon buns from a person I would never see again in my life, jealous of her ability to make such things. I wished I could make some (and not eat the entire batch in one sitting), alas, I put it to the back of my mind as something I would do "someday." That someday came last Thursday. I woke up to find a pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe link floating around the Twitter, and it's from a cookbook you *want* to buy.
The wonderful men behind Baked have released their *THIRD* cookbook, Baked Elements. I don't know how they do it. So many recipes, so many things, so much experimenting! I'd never realized how ridiculously easy making cinnamon rolls is, you mix, rise, roll, cut, rise, bake. Ridiculously easy. If you're one who's had nothing but trouble working with yeast, like myself, this is the recipe to try that will make you realize it's not you, it's not your kitchen, it's the yeast. The pumpkin flavor is a bit subtle as it's not much you add in, but it adds a richness to the dough that you don't get in regular cinnamon rolls. There is the added bonus of having your kitchen smell delicious. Just remember to really let your cream cheese soften--I was hasty and it made my frosting a bit chunky.
As your prototypical girl from Queens, I've spent many nights in Atlantic City. Sometimes with my parents or family friends, sometimes with the unsavory characters that have graced my life. Often times booze was involved. I know the Borgata well. But their newer (to me) hotel, The Water Club, that was fancy. I'd never been there. So when offered to stay there for three days, I said yes. It's been a long summer. There were promises of a massage, room service, and copious amounts of food!
One of the Borgata's selling points is the food. They have restaurants from Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, and Micheal Mina, as well as an Old Homestead. Our visit was to include a dinner at Fornelleto, their casual Italian place headed up by Le Cirque alum Stephen Kalt. It was a multiple course meal where we tasted a better portion of their menu. One of the highlights was sliced heirloom tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella and burrata. Simple, delicious, and perfect for a late summer meal.
Another highlight, for me at least, a person who's intake of vegetables has severely decreased during the height of vegetable season, was their Fennel, Endive, and Red Onion Salad. I don't usually eat fancy vegetables like fennel or endives, so imagine my surprise when I began going after seconds. And thirds.
I filled up too much on the savory courses that I broke my own personal rule of "leave room for dessert." I struggled to eat a bit off each plate: apple crostata, panna cotta with goat cheese gelato, a corn gelato with sweet corn foam, and this dark chocolate budino. Budino is simply Italian for pudding, and this was as creamy and silky as panna cotta. Of course the addition of Nutella, a hazelnut butter crunch, and mascarpone cream didn't hurt.
That first night, there was a good amount of boozing, so the next morning a bit of room service and a breakfast buffet were in order. Then the massage--why has no one told me about the wonderfulness that is a full body massage?! Then pooling. The place is filled with five pools, inside and out. One of my personal favorite things to do is visiting AC in the dead of winter, when you can hang in an airy heated pool area while the cold winds howl outside.
Dinner on the second night was at Michael Mina's place, Seablue. It's a seafood-based restaurant, fitting for an ocean-side city. Our meal consisted of lobster with American caviar followed by a perfectly cooked Moroccan Octopus Tagine. Few things in my life are as enjoyable as meaty octopus. The third course was Herb-Poached Loup de Mer with a zucchini pistou. And I remembered why I don't make fish at home. It's never this good, ever.
Our final morning there was greeted with two wicked hangovers. Ding, ding, room service. A cart full of food was in our room within 30 minutes--french toast, eggs, bacon, juices, a beautifully large pot of coffee. Room service is one of the best things ever. Also, the chef behind The Water Club's room service menu is Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. It had the typical room service flaw of everything's a bit lukewarm, but we didn't care. It was all delicious.
This wasn't all I ate that weekend (I told you copious amounts, folks, copious!):
For more information on The Borgata, click here.
*FCC Disclosure: This entire trip was paid for by The Borgata and/or Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations. Other than the food, room, massage, and transportation, I received no compensation. My views and opinions here are my own.*jump
This past Saturday, I hit up Pig Island 2012 with my men folk (that's Lawman & Little B plus Lawman-in-law) for some porcine goodness. 80 hogs, 30 chefs, countless nibbles. It's going to take me two posts to get through the event, it was that good...
When I saw the line up for Pig Island 2012-- Talde! Ovelia! Jimmy's no 43! Hecho en Dumbo! The Darby! Butter!, there was no way I could pass up a press pass. With Lawman as my plus one and Little B along for the ride we couldn't leave my magical beast loving brother-in-law behind, so we bought him a ticket as a birthday present. And what a birthday present it was. There comes a time in your life (or at least mine) when I much prefer experiences than stuff for gifts and if you're going to gift an experience, Pig Island is a worthy one.
The event was sold out, but as an attendee the number felt just right. The crowd wasn't so massive that the waits were exceptionally long. With these types of big events and big crowds it's important to get a little something in everyone's belly to take off the edge and the chefs delivered. I don't know if it's a matter of most restaurants participating in large scale events, but I felt like the chefs were really prepared for the crowds and managed them well. It was a beautiful day and a hot day and I was impressed with how they kept the portions coming and kept their lines in order.
I'll hit you with my top dishes on Friday (I still have dozens of delicious photos to go through!), but for those of you wondering what the key was to a super awesome event, I'll share it with you now. One word...TRAY.
It's all about the BYOT (bring your own tray). I can't take credit for this genius foodie event innovation, but after seeing some folks with trays at both Choice Eats and the Vendys (they may have been the same people for all I know), I've discovered this is the best way to maximize your haul. Without my tray I could only hold maybe two dishes and my drink without meeting certain disaster. With the tray...well, you see the results above.
How does the tray way work? Glad you asked. First, gather your group and divide and conquer. Hit your top destinations--the places with the dishes you're most eager to try. Get your samples. Repeat until you have enough to sit down and have a picnic feast. Might you feel a little silly with your tray? Yes. You might. But you'll also be the envy of everyone who spots you with your super mobile haul. And enjoying a bunch of dishes with a drink while sitting down is totally worth it.
Fort Reno BBQ opened in Park Slope months ago, and my visiting ended up being side-tracked by the book, school, repeat visits to Talde, you know, life. But the other day I made of point of going. I wanted to find out what this Hot Mess was all about.
The Hot Mess is their entree item that comes as a meal in a jar. Literally a mason jar full of layers of their sides and meat. The top layer being cauliflower and pickled vegetables, then coleslaw, pork, corn bread, and finally mac and cheese. Bonus: reading the first few pages of Wetlands after eating these cauliflowers. Is the dish novel? Yes. Is it so awesome I'd get it again instead of a sandwich and a side? No. With so many things crammed into a jar, I found myself wanting more since each was simply a sample taste. On the other hand, my pulled pork sandwich allowed me to have my fill of tender porcine goodness on buttered Texas toast. What I did walk away knowing is that their mac and cheese is creamy and delicious, like white cheddar Velvetta and shells. Don't hate! Totally getting that as a side next time.