Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Yourself a Fancy Italian Grilled Cheese & Soup

Minestrone soup and grilled cheese
So, say it’s this upcoming weekend. You’re home from the family. You have those cheeses I told you about yesterday. Life’s been crazy since Thanksgiving. You don’t feel like cooking a lot. You want to relax and catch up on Netflix. Here’s what you need to do.

One constant during my Food Studies experience was the amount of simple comfort food us students would look for during the stress times. For me, it was often grilled cheese and, when I was really lucky and smart enough to make a big pot ahead of time, I’d pair it with soup. But we’re not talking about your regular old orange cheese and butter on toast (though that is delicious). I got fancy and started brushing the bread with olive oil.

DOP_IGP Certified Logos
Sidenote: did you know that there are DOP-certified olive oils?! I didn’t. For work, I tasted too many olive oils to count and came away learning that I enjoy oils with a bright, grassy start and a slight spicy finish—a good happy medium that is surprisingly hard to find. In the past few weeks, I was introduced to Chianti Classico DOP Olive Oil and it fits the bill perfectly! Yes, Chianti is more known for its wine, but it is part of Tuscany, the picturesque land of olive groves. In fact, the olive oil consortium began as an offshoot of the wine consortium. Since certified oils can be found from almost every region of Italy, I highly suggest looking for this oil to begin experimenting with. And remember to look for the logos above!

Grilled cheese with olive oil
To make yourself a fancy grilled cheese: brush the bread with the Chianti Classico and add slices of the young Asiago and meaty Prosciutto di San Daniele. Be careful to use a lower heat that normal, as I find the olive oil method can get smoky. I also made this sandwich on some nice slices of Pullman bread, but really any soft white will do.

Italian soup and grilled cheese
If a sandwich isn’t enough for you, like maybe you want some soup? Tomato soup isn’t good enough for this level of fancy—you should try Ina Garten’s Winter Minestrone Soup. It has squash in it! It’s fancy Italian tomato soup with vegetables! And top it off with an older Pecorino Toscano, the cousin to Pecorino Romano, and another DOP product. For those that don’t know, Pecorino Toscano & Romano are sheep’s milk cheese and the aging process concentrates the nutty and sharpness, but it’s still creamy and melts wonderfully on hot soup. Feel free to drizzle some of the olive oil on that too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Get Those DOP/IGP Italian Meats & Cheeses!

Italian Meats & Cheeses
Gah! It’s the Monday before Christmas! It’s all happening! From here on out it’s presents, food, family, food, friends, food, booze, food, your creepy neighbor and then more food, right? Well, I have an idea to help you though some of those food parts. It involves meats and CHEESES. And it’s something super simple and will make you seem so smart and everyone will be impressed and I won’t say anything.

DOP_IGP Certified Logos
Like I said last week, I’ve been busy with my daytime gig where I’ve spent the last six months learning A TON of things about Italian products. One really, very, super important lesson is the ‘Denominazione d’Origine Protetta’ or DOP certification, and the ‘Indicazione Geografica Protetta’ or IGP certification. Both certify that you’re receiving the authentic product. The IGP logo lets you know that the product can be traced back to its geographical origin, and that at least one phase of its production occurred in the designated origin of production from that product. DOP requires specific production and techniques for each product, and every step must happen in the region of origin. Each has its own logo, and yes, you do want to look for them when shopping.

What does this have to do with meats and cheeses over the holidays? Well, doesn’t everyone like a good meat and cheese plate. It has to be the simplest thing to throw together at a moment’s notice (and tomorrow, I’ll give you another way to use up whatever leftovers you have). There are only a few items available with this certification, but they are some of the most delicious things ever. First are Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele. The first one is the super famous all-natural, dry-cured ham from Parma. In order for meats to receive the Prosciutto di Parma name, the pigs must be raised in certain areas of Italy and the meat is produced in a precise way in Parma itself. Now, Prosciutto di San Daniele is the lesser-known, just as tasty cousin. This is produced in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, around the town of San Daniele in the Udine province, in the northeastern part of Italy. One little tidbit to impress your guests: Prosciutto di San Daniele ‘legs’ have a guitar-like shape and are sold with the trotter still on!

Italian Cheeses
Now, for the cheeses. Personally, when I don’t know who is coming, I tend to go for milder varieties. Apparently, not everyone loves a good blue! Two to check out are Asiago and Grana Padano. Asiago is the creamy white cheese made from the milk of Swiss Brown and Pezzata Nera cows, who are raised in the Trento region (a little outside of Venice/Verona). You’ll want to pick up the younger, sliceable variety—which is the one with the DOP status. While Grana Padano is often grated on top of pastas and soups, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s salty-sweet nuttiness and granular texture is best experienced as large crumbly pieces. Apparently, this one of the oldest cheeses as monks began making it in the 12th century right where it’s still done today: the Po River Valley in northeastern Italy.

Gorgonzola and Olives
Say you do have someone coming who likes a blue? Then go for Gorgonzola. It's produced from unskimmed cow's milk, in the northern regions of Lombardy and Piedmont. I picked up this soft chunk of young Gorgonzola Dolce from Di Palo's, and it's creamy but firm (read: not runny) while being "sweeter" than older Gorgonzola. The last addition to a good cheese and meat board is some olives. I'm usually shy about eating olive snacks--I'm not a fan of the saltiness. But these olives you must try! They're called Bella Della Daunia and are cultivated in the Tavoliere area of Foggia (the province with the heel spur of the Boot). These oblong beauties have all the great savory olive taste with none of the saltiness. And yes, they are also available in green.

But where to pick up some of these and know that it’s DOP-certified? I stop by the heavy-hitters: Eataly, DiPalo’s and Murray’s! There you can talk to knowledgeable cheesemongers and butchers, they can show you the label on the package or the information will be a part of the products description.

Friday, December 19, 2014

School's Out Forever! New Blog Posts TK!

IKEA Meatballs
Hey, guys!! I know I've been gone from the B&B beat for a long, long time. Well, a few things went on: 1) I got a job, 2) I made a resolution to enjoy my friends (read: be more social!) more often and 3) I was in my last semester at NYU. But, guess what?! NYU's done--yay, I have a MA--and all this time off the Internet has made me want to get back on the Internet. So starting next week, I'm coming back with a few posts about Italian products you should seek out during the winter break. And maybe next year, we'll have a little facelift here on the B&B? But until then, go check out my capstone project. Yea, I made another website, too. Oh, and these are the IKEA meatballs I ate over Thanksgiving weekend. It was my last square meal for a while. jump

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Uncommon Goods Cold Brew Gift Set Review

Homemade Cold Brew

If it’s summertime, then you can bet I’m down with drinking cold brew iced coffee. Ok, most anytime of the year I’m down with drinking cold brew. That being the case, I know firsthand that it can be a pricey habit to indulge in if you let others brew for you. At your local coffee shop a cold brew might run you $3 to $5. A bottle of Grady’s Cold Brew aka my special treat and obsession last summer will run you $14 or $1.75 per serving. But what about homemade cold brew? Could I make it at home for cheaper? I had to give it a try . .

I first tried making my own cold brew at home last year to rather pathetic results. I tried making it in my French press overnight and failed. That’s a lot of coffee to waste for meh results. So I hit the internets looking for a cold brewing “system” as they’re called to eliminate the user error part of the equation. I looked at the Toddy and I looked at the Filtron, two of the most popular systems on the market. They each have their own loyal followings, but all of my intel from friends was pointing towards getting a Filtron. But, to be honest, the big turn off for me was that the Filtron does its long brews in plastic containers. Yuck. I try not to store any foods in plastic if I can help it. I thought about getting the Filtron then spending extra to get a glass carafe, but then Facebook’s habit of creeping on my internet searches came through in a surprising way by flashing an ad for Uncommon Goods’ “Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set.” Say what?! I love Uncommon Goods! Siobhan first turned me onto their website years back and now it’s my go-to spot for gift ideas for Lawman. Remember that time I got him the good & evil sponge holder for Christmas? Uncommon Goods!

Over the years I’ve bought a number of things, gifts mainly, from Uncommon Goods and here’s why. They work with artists and artisans to sell really cool, unique gifts that are perfect for hard to shop for people, like Lawman or my dad and my brother (they actually even have a curated gifts “for him that’s further divided into the type of “him” your him might be…new dad, geek, beer lover etc). They are an equal opportunity gift giving spot so there's also a gifts for her section as well. Their stuff is fun and funky. Quirky and clever. They have a great selection of personalized gifts that are awesome for weddings and showers when you want to get something a little more fun and meaningful than a couple of place settings. And really nice, thoughtful anniversary gifts, too, They’re based in Brooklyn, so I’m supporting a local business and with each purchase they donate $1 to a non-profit of your choice. There are a number of great causes that you can choose from but City Harvest gets my $1 every time. So many wins.

I reached out to Uncommon Goods and they sent me cold brew set as part of their blogger review program. Before we get on to the review, I only ever mention products or services that 1) I would buy myself and 2) I think that readers would be interested in.* Now that I’ve had the chance to test drive it for just about 2 months of regular use I’m ready to give my full review.

Cold Brew Gift Set

First of all, it’s pretty much everything I wanted in a cold brewer. I like that the jar is glass. I like that it fits a lot of coffee. I like that it comes with a pour spout for easy filling and refilling your glass. I like that the filtering part is a “coffee sock” made of organic cotton. It’s easy to clean and use again and again. No need to buy paper filters.

The instructions are simple. You put medium/coarse coffee in the “coffee sock,” add some water to “bloom” the coffee, tie the sock off and fill the jar with water then let it steep overnight. As simple as the instructions were, it took us awhile to get our cold brew groove. I wish the instructions had been more clear as to how much coffee you should use. After revisiting the site it appears that they recommend 6 ounces of ground coffee per 6 cups of water. I also found that I preferred the taste a 18 hours (or more) to the taste at 12 hours. The process says 12-16 hours, but the first few batches I was so eager for my coffee, I only waited the 12 hours and if you love strong coffee like I do that’s a mistake, go for the longer brew for flavor. While the label on the jar has suggestions like "add chicory," "grate a little nutmeg," I wish that it came with more specific recipe ideas and suggestions for which type of coffees to try.

The cold brew system from Uncommon Goods definitely gets style points in terms of the total package: looks good, functions well, makes people happy. Pricewise, the Filtron goes for about $43 and the Toddy goes for anywhere from $34 to $39 but neither of them come with a first batch of coffee. The Filtron filters last 3-4 months, while the Toddy filters last about 3 months. The coffee sock however should last up to 9 months before needing to be changed out. The glass brewing/storing set up gets a big thumbs up from me and I would definitely consider giving it as a gift to coffee loving friends. It’s simple to use, not too bulky and makes a good cup of coffee. Apparently you can also use it to make horchata and almond milk, so that’s pretty cool, too. In terms of its gift-ability, the way it comes packed with everything stuffed in the jar is pretty cute. There’s a very good chance my brother will get one from me for Christmas. Shhhhhhh…

Do you brew your own cold brew? What do you use?

*I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Eggs NYC is Having a FREE Berry Bonanza!

Happy Summer! I hope you’re having a great one. I sure am, especially now that the farmer’s market is in full swing and I can buy ALL THE FRUIT. I’ve been thinking about fruit desserts a lot. And writing about them. My weekend to-do list includes making an Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler and baking a Sour Cherry Pie. It’s no secret that Sour Cherry Pie is my all-time favorite type of pie. And thanks to Good Eggs NYC I don’t have to go into Manhattan to get the sour cherries to make one and I’m getting FREE blueberries with my order....

My good pal, Erin, works at Good Eggs NYC so I’ve been following the farm-to-doorway grocery service since it launched. I like a lot of the food producers they feature—Anarchy in a Jar, Brooklyn Slate, Flying Pigs Farm, Red Jacket Orchard, and Katchkie Farm among others. Well, on Monday afternoon someone rang my bell. It was a Good Eggs deliveryman. Erin surprised me with two bags of tasty treats and included in amongst the goodies was a flyer for their Berry Bonanza this week.

Here’s the drill according to their site:

"It's Berry Bonanza Week at Good Eggs! That means you can add FREE BLUEBERRIES to your order this week! Head to our marketplace, spot the free organic berries, and add them to your order before July 20. Spread the berry love with your friends and fam! Fine print: You'll receive a basket of organic blueberries from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Supplies are limited, so don't wait to order! Please limit 1 basket of berries per order—that way everyone can enjoy some! Offer only applies to orders of $30 or more placed between July 14 - July 20, 2014, while supplies last. Please note you must add these free berries to your order and check out to receive them."

As a disclaimer, Erin did send me the initial package of fruits and veggies as a gift so it was free to me. However, I was under no obligation to blog about it and I only ever mention products or services that 1) I would buy myself and 2) I think that readers would be interested in.* With that in mind, once I tasted the delicious blueberries, I knew I had to place my own first Good Eggs order, so I ordered up a TON of tart cherries which I’m looking forward to picking up on Friday. Easy, peasy, mac & cheesy. Since supplies of the free berries are limited, if you’re interested, I’d urge you to get on this.

*I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

Check out The Chipper Truck in a Special Manhattan Appearance TODAY!


STREET FOOD ALERT! The Chipper Truck, New York's only Irish food truck is coming to Manhattan for a very special event TODAY!...

Run by Alice O'Brien Bermejo and her husband Valentino, the Chipper Truck is patterned after the chip vans, Alice grew up with in County Leitrim. Typically a late night truck, The Chipper is the spot to go in Woodlawn for some tasty grub to help sober you up after a night out at the pub.

We were so honored to tell Alice and Val's story in our book, New York á La Cart: Recipes and Stories from the Big Apple's Best Food Trucks. They are a wonderful and hard working couple. Our book features the recipe for their famous fish & chips and boxtys (pictured above). Made from Alice's mother's recipe, boxtys are a staple comfort food in the Northwest of Ireland and are especially popular in County Leitrim where Alice is from. Cooked slow and low these are an Irish version of a potato pancake and couldn't be better for soaking up a night's drinking.

Alas, if you don't find yourself in Woodlawn in the wee hours of the morning, you probably haven't had a chance to taste the delicious wares of this 2013 Vendy Cup Finalist. Fortunately it's your lucky day!

The Chipper has been invited by Glucksman Ireland House NYU to partcipate in the PEN World Voices 2014 at NYU Street Fair on Washington Mews today, Friday, May 2nd from 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Washington Mews between 5th Avenue and University Place. This event hosted in cooperation with PEN and the International Houses of the Washington Mews is an "open air indie book fair with special literary and musical guests. Nestled among the cobblestone street of NYU’s storied Washington Mews, the Literary Mews Festival will feature writers’ workshops in the morning and readings in the afternoon. Browse the tables where literary magazines and independent presses proffer the work of up-and-coming writers, wander the streets and explore NYU’s International Houses, or stop to take in busking musicians or a puppet show."

Sounds awesome, right? And The Chipper Truck will be there along with the Old Traditional Polish Cuisine food truck. It's a gorgeous day. Get our there and get some food and some culture while you're at it.

For the Chipper Truck's whereabouts today (and always), check their Facebook page.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Help the Cinnamon Snail Get Back on the Streets

Our pals at the Cinnamon Snail are having some truck troubles. Their old truck has permitting issues (if there's one thing we learned about NYC street food from writing our book it's how much insane red tape there is for vendors) and is prone to breaking down. They just renovated a new kitchen in Brooklyn and need help getting a second truck so they can get back on the road...

Chef Adam Sobel, founder of the Cinnamon Snail, is one of the kindest (and zaniest) guys you'll ever meet. Their doughnuts are among the BEST you'll ever taste. Their food will make even avowed carnivores stop and think, huh, maybe I could be vegan.

Here's the thing about the food business. The margins are low. Especially when you use top of the line and organic ingredients (did you know they event fry their doughnuts in organic oil?!) If you don't know the Snail, make a point to get to know their awesome food. Check out their Kickstarter for the full details and if you're able, consider making a pledge. They have just THREE days left for their project to be funded and about 20k left to go. There are some pretty sweet rewards--doughnuts, cooking classes and more. I'm pledging. How about you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First Prize Pies' Banoffee Pie with a Crunchy Twist


About a year ago, I was introduced to Banoffee pie and it immediately claimed a spot on my favorites list. But I didn't realize how unbelievable easy it is to make until this past weekend when I experimented with First Prize Pies' recipe! Allison Kave's book just came out and it's filled with seasonal pie recipes, Banoffee being one to whip up in the summer, and you should check it out if you're a big pie fan, but totally don't want to just make plain fruit pies. But back to my pie which was described as "a cloud of orgasm"....

I was experimenting with pie because I was really experimenting with Quadratini wafers. Loacker is currently running a Pinterest contest involving recipes made with their little wafers and I'm in it!! So, with my gratis bags of wafers--one each of chocolate, vanilla and lemon--I set out to form a recipe. Except I am not in a place in my semester to really invest hours in the kitchen and after I saw the recipe for Banoffee in the book, I *really* wanted to make it.

With Crumble
Banoffee is traditionally made with whole wheat digestive cookies, but we don't have those in my neighborhood meaning honey graham crackers got subbed in for the crust. Following that is a layer of dulce de leche--I did the can boiled in water method. Then slices of banana, a layer of chocolate wafer crumble, and homemade whipped cream. And that's it. Well, except for the little decoration on top. But really, that's it! If you have dulce de leche already made, this entire pie takes about a half hour to 45 minutes to pull together and doesn't involve rolling anything out. And really, who actually likes regular crust more than cookie crust?

Finished pie

Banoffee Pie with Chocolate Wafers
Makes one 9-inch pie
Time: ~30 minutes active unless you have to make the dulce de leche

14 oz. dulce de leche
3 bananas
1 1/2 c. Loacker Chocolate Quadratini, crumbled
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 graham cracker crust

To make dulce de leche, submerge an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk--label off!--in a deep pot of water, making sure that the water fully covers the can. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Once there, turn down heat to medium or enough to allow for a rolling boil, and boil for about 3 1/2 - 4 hours. When done, turn off heat and let the water and can fully cool. (I did all of this the night before, leaving the water and can to cool overnight.)

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Make your favorite graham cracker crust and place in oven for 15 minutes to set. Allow to cool. While doing this, I hand crumbled the Quadratini in a plastic bag, breaking them into small chunks.

Once everything's cool and ready, make the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream in a middle mixing bowl and whip using a hand mixer or whisk until stiff peaks form, about a few minutes of whipping. Now, spread the dulce de leche into the crust. Slice the bananas on top of the dulce de leche. Place the layer of wafer crumbles, and then dollop all the whipped cream on top. Decorate with more crumbles, chocolate shavings or a dusting of cocoa powder. Serve immediately.

About this contest. It's all happening over on Pinterest where I've finally created an account. The recipes that are pinned the most make it into the final round. Judges then determine a winner--who will win a $1000 Amex Gift Card! That's a lot of pie crusts! So, please go repin me with the #PureIngredients! Also, you can head over to their Facebook and get a $1 off coupon for your own wafers (and seriously, this is one of those cookies where you eat the whole bag in one sitting.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Headed to Seattle . . . Where Should I Eat?

Seattle's Crumpet Shop
Friends, I'm off to Seattle this week and so excited to stuff myself silly on the left coast. I already have plans to hit Skillet and Hot Cakes. And I'm hoping to squeeze in a visit to The Crumpet Shop because, um, crumpets are awesome and delicious and I haven't had them fresh baked anywhere else ever. But...I'm always open to suggestion. So...where else should I go?

Last time I visited Seattle was in the fall of 2008. I hit Pike Place Market, Cupcake Royale, and Trophy Cupcakes. This trip I'll be visiting for a few days but will be working for a good chunk of that time, so I want to make those meals, snacks, treats, and COFFEEEEEEEEE count. If you're a reader, you know I love doughnuts, pie, hot and cold caffeinated beverages, and basically anything that's delicious. Tell me where to go and perhaps most importantly, tell me what to sock away in my suitcase for the trip home.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Day at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury!

At the ChocoBanana
I told you I'd be back on Monday!! So the second day with the Ben & Jerry's crew in Vermont involved a quick visit to St. Albans Cooperative Creamery to discuss their continued efforts to buy milk and cream from local Vermont farmers only as a part of their Caring Dairy program. Afterwards, we headed to Waterbury and the factory!

The current flavors
Tours at the Waterbury factory are totally free and open to the public, so this is part of my trip that you can do yourself. The place is all about ice cream, right down to a collection of antique scoops. When your tour is finished, you allowed to try a few scoops of the day's experimental flavor (that's the ice cream up at the top,) ours was "At the ChocoBanana" banana-cinnamon ice cream with brown sugar caramel swirls and milk chocolate chunks. If anyone wants to recreate this in my life, I will gladly help with taste testing.

The Cores!!
Following a quick snowshoeing adventure (my first!), our group finally got to taste the new Cores flavors. If you haven't heard of these, each flavor has one or two different flavor ice creams with a soft "core" so you can add as little or as much as you want to your scoop. Part of the thought process behind the Cores was that the B&J team knows their fans really like eating straight out of the pint, so why not include a little topping?

Testing Cores
These are cut open regularly as well to see how the cores are coming through. They had to look towards sausage-making tools to find a way to bring this dream to life. Of course, cutting open of pints meant tasting because we couldn't just let ice cream go to waste.

Aftermath of Cores Tasting
I had thought the Peanut Butter Fudge (chocolate & peanut butter ice creams with mini peanut butter cups and a peanut butter fudge core) or the Hazed & Confused (chocolate & hazelnut ice creams with fudge chips and a hazelnut fudge core) would be my favorites since they both have things I love. But That's My Jam (chocolate & raspberry ice creams with fudge chops and a raspberry core) actually came out on top for me! The raspberry isn't too sweet or overwhelming and paired well with the chocolate. Of course, my bodega keeps selling out of Cores, so I haven't been able to have my own pint!

Flavor Graveyard
Our way out included a quick stop to pay our respects at the Flavor Graveyard. I still think they should do a zombie promotion where old flavors come to life for a limited time, mainly because I want to try Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Wild Maine Blueberry.

Ben AND Jerry!!
And the whole trip ended with a quick talk with the men themselves, Ben & Jerry! They chatted about the company and what they're up to now, before leaving us to enjoy dinner.

If you are looking to taking this trip or simply visiting the Burlington area, I highly recommend staying at Hotel Vermont (the communal tea & coffee areas were so great *and* fancy bathrooms!) and eating at The Kitchen Table, Hen of the Wood, Penny Cluse, and The Farmhouse Tap & Grill. All are serving some great food and drinks, but are not pretentious about it.

Lastly, a big THANK YOU to the entire Ben & Jerry's team for everything. They do this trip for a select  few food bloggers and writers and they really know how to host a big group. They are awesome! Now, go get your free cone tomorrow!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Free Cone Day is Coming!!!

A little over a month ago, I received one of the best emails of my life: would I like to go to Burlington, Vermont for three days to hang with the Ben & Jerry's crew? "UH, YEA!" was my exact response. Our love of Ben & Jerry's (and ice cream in general) is well documented and going to the Waterbury factory was on my bucket list anyway, so why not?! Here's what went on during the trip and information about Free Cone Day!!

The office slide!
The group of us spent the first day at the corporate office and yes, there were "slide breaks." After I don't know how many years of not going down slides, I forgot how scary twirly enclosed slides are, but also how much fun. I went three times.

Cutting open Milk & Cookeis
We also found out that they really do pick up pints from random locations and check to see how the chunks are being distributed IRL. Then the pints are left out for eating and I am never turning down my third favorite flavor.

The office freezer!
And yes, there is a freezer full of pints for the taking because three pints a day is not a joke benefit. It's very, very real.

But the BEST part was breaking up into teams and making our own flavors. My team, "Team New York," made one using coffee liqueur, chocolate chunks, chocolate covered almonds and a fudge swirl.

Then came deliberations and oh my goodness, it was so nerve wracking. They took a long time, people were summoned in, what was going on?!?!?! The problem was TWO of the flavors were so good, there was a tie and yes, friends, ours was one of them!! To win meant a scoop party!! I finally get the ice cream party I always dreamed of as a kid! Somewhere up above, my dad is so proud of me and our shared love of ice cream!

And holy baloney, this post is getting long and I'm still on day one, so day two is coming on Monday (I super extra bonus promise and yes, it involves the new Cores flavors) but what you want to know is WHEN IS CONE DAY?!?! It's TUESDAY!! Yes, this Tuesday, April 8th, almost every Ben & Jerry's will be giving out free ice cream and this year the goal is 1 MILLION cones in the US alone. People, I know we can fall on this sword to make Ben & Jerry--my best friends in my mind--happy. We can do this!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Erin Go Bragh & All That

St. Patrick's Day Doughnut
If you've been following my Instagram, you know it's a delicious month in my world. First, a trip to Burlington, Vermont to visit Ben & Jerry's--yes, I will post about it--and now I'm in New Orleans doing New Orleanian things. But before I left, I did get to celebrate a little bit of St. Patrick's Day!

Well, I should be celebrating it plenty today, but it probably won't involve green frosted doughnuts. A friend & I stopped by Peter Pan late Saturday afternoon and I just couldn't not get one, even though I had had more than my fill of ice cream and knew that beignets were in my future. It's just SO PRETTY! Knowing Peter Pan, these beauties will be around all day, so go celebrate!

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
(718) 389-3676

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day!

Pies Are Round No, Pies Are Squared
Happy Pi Day friends! Today is the one day the math nerds and food nerds can agree upon. Today is a day for pie and I plan on eating as much pie as possible starting at breakfast...

Pie for breakfast?! Yes, pie for breakfast. And where better to get pie for breakfast than Four & Twenty Blackbirds at either their 3rd avenue shop or their BRAND new cafe inside the Brooklyn Public Library main branch. Pie and books, what a delicious combo.

Another great spot to hit for pie for breakfast? Robicelli's where from 8am 'til 7pm (or until they sell out), they'll be celebrating Pi Day by selling slices of pie for only $3.14! They will have apple crumb, chocolate cream, sweet potato with honey whiskey butterscotch, Creamsicle, blueberry panna cotta, and chocolate crunchie. Check out their tumblr for more info and to stay up to date on their offerings. Go forth and eat pie!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shake Shack's New(ish) Fries are AWESOME

Shake Shack new fries
So Shake Shack has been rolling out their new hand cut fries. The fries made their debut at the Upper East Side location this summer, but...I'm never in that neighborhood. Since then they've slowly been rolling out the new fries to more Shacks across the city, but my most visited Shack (aka the Brooklyn branch) has been kicking it old school with the crinkle cut fries. It took a recent trip to the Natural History Museum (and requisite post-museum Shake Shack outing) to get a taste of the new fries. And. They. Are. Awesome...

Crispy with just the right amount of salt. These are fries that you won't get bored of eating. I'm not going to lie. I wasn't one of those people that would turn up my nose at the crinkle cut fries, but these are much better. More potato-ey, if that's a thing. I'm convinced that they had to adjust the cheese fries sauce slightly to thin it out so it would adhere to the skinnier fries better without significant fry foldage from the weight of the sauce. On first glance it looked like they skimped on the cheese. But NO! The cheese was all there, it has just pooled in the bottom beneath the fry stack cracks.

Here are the locations where you can get "Shack Fresh Fries" as they are called. Naturally they have their own hashtag (#ShackFreshFries):
- Upper East Side, NYC 
- Upper West Side, NYC 
- Grand Central Terminal, NYC 
- University City, PA 
- King of Prussia, PA 
- Paramus, NJ 
- Harvard Square, MA 
- Battery Park City, NYC

Also, a friendly heads up to the Shake Shack custard gurus...I saw that "Big Easy Banana Chip" is the featured Tuesday flavor for the month of February. Alas, Mardi Gras is super late this year. It's not until Tuesday, March 4th. Hopefully Bananas Foster is in the rotation next month!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get Your Love Something To Eat!

Peter Pan Valentines
Yes, Valentine's Day is on the other side of this work week. Don't worry if you still haven't gotten anything, I've got a list of delicious things to go with your, well, this. I'm basically doing all the work for you because I don't like it when my friends hand out uninspired gifts.

I just threw up a little in my mouth reading those sayings. Anyways. First up, you can go to Peter Pan, buy some pink frosted doughnuts and binge your mutual ways through an evening "House of Cards" marathon. (Let's not mention that this is totally my plan for Friday.) Those not in Brooklyn and/or in need of chocolate gifts can head down to Essex Street Market or Forsyth Street for something from Roni-Sue's Chocolates. If you're not a true fan of their Valentine's picks, the ladies there can help you whip something together. Have someone who loves those sweet confections known as macarons? Well, then head to Macaron Parlour. These vibrant hearts showed up in my Instagram last night and even I got sentimental and lovey-dovey.

Milkmade Ice Cream
Not here and need something for your honey in the city? You can start by getting an ice cream gram from MilkMade! Two pints of ice cream--Salted Caramel & Red Velvet Cake--hand-delivered on Friday with a handwritten note (with your love saying, obviously). Also, perfect for that "House of Cards" binge. Want to get a whole personalized medley of things complete with savory items and bouquets because we all know you can turn this holiday into a weekend at home doin' thangs? Then order some groceries through Good Eggs. For those needing your favorite New York things somewhere else in the country, then Farm to People is your answer.

Now no one has a reason to not buy your love, or me, something scrumptious.

Peter Pan Bakery
727 Manhattan Avenue
(718) 389-3676

Roni-Sue's Chocolates
in Essex Street Market at 120 Essex Street
(212) 260-0421
148 Forsyth Street (between Delancey & Rivington)
(212) 677-1216

Macaron Parlour
111 St. Marks Place
(212) 387-9169

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Fun!

City Bakery hot chocolate and pretzel croissant
So...it's been a little snowy, huh? And maybe you're feeling kind of cooped up. Well, thankfully February offers an opportunity to celebrate two of my favorite food groups: hot chocolate and pancakes... First up, it's the annual Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery. Check out the calendar here. Caramel hot chocolate! Bourbon hot chocolate! Darkest dark hot chocolate! Grab a pretzel croissant while you're there!

Don't miss out on Pancake Month at Clinton Street Baking Company

Clinton St Pancakes
Here's the pancake line up:

3rd & 4th: Raspberry Pancakes: our signature raspberry jam, fresh raspberries, toasted almond butter, vanilla bean whipped cream
5th: Coconut & Key Lime Pancakes with warm maple butter
6th & 7th: Blueberry Crumb Streusel with fresh blueberry sauce, vanilla bean whipped cream and warm maple butter
10th & 11th German Chocolate Pancakes: roasted organic pecans, caramel, fresh coconut, bittersweet chocolate sauce
12th & 13th: Japanese Pumpkin pancakes with pumpkin seed streusel and warm maple butter
14th (V-Day): Chocolate Chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce
17th & 18th: Fresh Coconut Pancakes with caramelized pineapple, bruleed bananas, roasted macadamia nuts, and warm maple butter
19th, 20th & 21st: Crunchy Bananas with cinnamon-chili-chocolate sauce
24th & 25th: Swedish Apple Pancakes with caramelized apples, cinnamon cider glaze, and Bavarian cream
26th & 27th: Chocolate Chunks, fresh raspberries, raspberry-caramel sauce
28th: Fresh Blackberries with meyer lemon curd and blackberry syrup

FYI, for newbies, 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.

I'll admit I'm a little sad that my favorite pancakes the candied orange peel, bittersweet chocolate pistols, and blood orange syrup didn't make the cut this year. But perhaps that will inspire me to concoct some at home. Right now I have my eye on the Swedish Apple Pancakes, how about you?

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And Now A Visit to Whole Foods Brooklyn

Whole Foods Brooklyn
Holy baloney, it's almost February! I don't know what happened to my January--it's a blur of working, looking for work, reading A Dance of Dragons, being sick three different times, cooking healthy food in my kitchen and finally visiting Whole Foods. Everybody and their mother has discussed the new Whole Foods, so I'll just give you highlights from my little adventure through the aisles.

Best Banana Display
First off, is this not the best banana display?! Is this going on elsewhere in the country/world? [insert low hanging fruit joke here]

THIS got me jazzed. My new healthy kick has required the use of spices, but-oh, hey, most of my spices were full of bugs. Yes, gross, I know. Seeing smaller quantities of spices, for a lower price than at other groceries, was totally up my alley.

The hell?
I really don't know what you kids are doing these days.

Bath Salts
Related required shot of the bath salts collection. Complete with mason jars. How precious.

Biscoff Cookies!

All sorts of chip things are available. I didn't buy any, but if there's one we should be checking out, give us a holler.

The overwhelming cafeteria
And then you enter into the overwhelming cafeteria-esque area. There's soup! There's cookies! There's bread! Look over here! Look over there! Decisions! Or, if you're me, a minor anxiety attack and quickly running away.

Dough Doughnuts
There's also Dough doughnuts that look like they've seen better days.

Butter & Scotch Cupcakes
And cupcakes that I can get at Smorgasburg.

Just Madness!
Yes, it is madness that people buy frozen pizza when they live in New York City. Sheer madness. I agree, Whole Foods. Speaking of…

Motorino Frozen Pizza
This is really why everyone's going, right? One guy didn't notice the lonely pizza, I did. Yes, I got the last frozen Motorino or Roberta's pizza in all of Brooklyn. I should get a medal.

Motorino Frozen Pizza
And I can say, without a doubt, that this is the best frozen pizza I've ever eaten in all my days. I'll let you be the judge of whether it's worth the $11. But good lawd, it is delicious (and got all nice and crispy when done in my cast iron.)

There are a few other pictures from my way through the Whole Foods over on our Flickr, including the ermahgawd Greyston Bakery cookie thins that I ate by the box, or you can go see my initial gut reactions on my Instagram.