Three is the magic number

I wanted three of the entrees listed on the menu and there were three of us sitting at the table. I may not be good with numbers but it seemed pretty clear to me what had to happen at a recent dinner with girlfriends at The Breslin.  Ordering all three menu items would’ve cost more than I had budgeted for (money and calorie wise) so the solution was simple. Each of us had to get one of the three entrees and we all had to share.

The nice thing about good girlfriends is that most of the time they’re good friends because you like the same things and tend to reason the same way. These fine friends of mine,  creative thinkers with healthy appetites (not unlike a certain someone writing this, ahem) came to the same conclusion and so as it often does with good people and good food, everything worked out. We each picked one of the three entrees and split them so that no one was bound to any one dish and we each had ourselves a little trinity of Breslin goodness.

Salt cod brandade with bread salad

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Time flies when you’re eating cheesecake

Today marked the one year anniversary of me moving to New York. And fittingly enough, Flaneur and I also have Italian friends in town. So in order to celebrate both of these facts, I pulled a Marie Antoinette and said, “Let them eat cake! Cheesecake!”

Sure, there’s cheesecake in Italy, but it’s got nothing on New York cheesecake. When I lived in Florence, I was only ever able to find authentic cheesecake at one place in town, Sugar & Spice, a small American bakery near the Duomo. Italian cheesecake isn’t bad, it just isn’t quite cheesecake. It isn’t creamy and soft and there’s no buttery, graham cracker crust. It’s basically New York cheesecake’s Italian cousin, maybe even second cousin.

Good ol' plain NY cheesecake

So today we went to Eileen’s Special Cheesecake in Nolita and had a little lesson in what a real cheesecake should look and taste like. Although Eileen’s has cheesecakes in all sorts of flavors like Rocky Road, pumpkin and cappuccino and topped with fruit toppings like strawberries, pineapple and raspberries, all of us opted for the plain cheesecake— and it was good, really good.

Eileen’s boasts the title of “Best cheesecake in NY” and I have to say, agree. The cheesecake was buttery, creamy and smooth with a moist, crumbly soft crust. It was simple and sweet without being overbearingly sugary or tangy. The Italians were wide-eyed and quiet as they ate their real American cheesecake. Who am I kidding? So was I.

I couldn’t have picked a better dessert to commemorate a year in New York, than the city’s best dessert.

Always room for more

I had a big lunch yesterday. A really big lunch. An Indian buffet lunch to be exact. And as the coworker who ate with me said, “You can’t just get one plate at a buffet.” So two very large plates were had, and one enormous puppy belly afterward. Back at my desk, all I wanted to do was go into a deep food coma and dream about digestion.

Hijik-ni

When dinnertime came around later that night and Flaneur suggested going out for Indian, I almost cried.

“Please no,” I whimpered, clutching my still-full belly. “I can’t. I just can’t.”

“Well what about that Japanese place up the block?”

Hmm. Japenese eh? I could do something like that, I thought to myself. Something light. A seaweed salad perhaps. Continue reading

New cupcake on the block

Cake & Shake at Washington Square Park

Some people think the cupcake craze should end already. They say it’s last year’s trend. A trend period. Something cool till everyone does it and then it becomes overdone and out of fashion.

I am not one of those people. I love cupcakes, always have and always will. Which is why when I saw a cutesy, baby blue truck selling cupcakes near Washington Square Park this weekend, I stopped to check it out. Cake & Shake is one of a billion different places in the city to get cupcakes but unlike some of the others it also boasted having organic ingredients and biodegradable, eco friendly packaging. The truck itself was even powered by solar powered panels.

The Rich Guy

The menu sounded promosing enough and when I saw something with figs (which I have been eagerly anticipating lately) in it, I thought, yup, that’s the one. Name of this cupcake, you ask? A Rich Guy.

“Hi, yea, can I get a Rich Guy please?”

Jokes aside, the Rich Guy wasn’t bad. It wasn’t fantastic either, but it was decent. The mandarin cupcake was a little hard for my taste but the fig mousse (which was more like jelly than mousse) gave it a bit of the moisture it lacked. The cream cheese frosting and candied walnuts were pretty good too, although a overall little firm, like it wasn’t the freshest cupcake. In their own defense, it was early evening, toward the end of the day, and so probably not the best time to go looking for fresh cupcakes.

But like I said, it was good. I’d go back and try a different one. After all, I’m all about propogating the cupcake craze.

It’s genetic

I have a crazy sweet tooth. No really. The amount of candy, ice cream and baked goods I could polish off if left to my own devices would probably kill a normal person or rocket them into instant diabetes. Lots of people say they have sweet tooths (teeth?) but I have yet to find someone who can hang with me. That is, except my dad.

Over the years we haven’t always gotten along and we’ve butted heads practically since I could speak but if there’s one thing that binds us it’s a serious love of candy.

Yesterday I came home to find a 21-pound box sitting in my living room. It had been Fedex’ed from Coral Gables, Florida so I knew instantly it was from home. I opened it to find basically the entire contents of a movie theater concession stand… and then some.

Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up folks

Candy bars like Butterfinger, Milky Way and Baby Ruth. Boxed candy like Milk Duds, Junior Mints and Whoppers. Old school faves like Boston Baked Beans, Charleston Chews and Mary Janes. There were Dots and Hot Tamales, Good & Plenty and Jujufruits. Then for good measure there were Ginger Snaps, Pepperidge Farm pirouettes, and not one, or two, but three jars of flavored peanut butter (White Chocolate Wonderful, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl and Dark Chocolate Dreams). My dad loves this stuff, all of it, and when my parents made me, you better believe that borderline obsession was passed down to me.

I’m both terribly excited and scared by this treasure trove of candy in my possession. It might take me a while (hopefully a good long while) to finish it, but how many hours a day am I going to have to spend at the gym to break even? How many sneakers will I burn down to nothing from running off all of this? Will two spinning classes a day be enough?

Ugh.

If you live in New York and we’re friends, please for the love of God, come over and let me share my candy stash with you.

Forget diamonds, my best friends are chocolate

English rose chocolates

I started off Monday in full-blown disaster mode. First, I left my office swipe key at home… in my wallet. When I tried to call my boyfriend to ask if he could pretty please come drop it off, I pulled out my phone and realized it wasn’t mine. It was his. Even though mine was in there too, it didn’t do much good if the person I needed to reach wasn’t reachable. I had an appointment later that morning but with no money or metro card for the subway, I wasn’t sure how to get there. When I later tried to use his metro card, I found out it had no money on it. Feeling like a bit of a creep, I had to rifle through his wallet, looking for any spare bills to feed to the metro machine. Then, because I underestimated how long it would take me to get to my appointment, I ended up having to power walk down three or four crowded blocks on Fifth Avenue, elbowing my way through the slow moving throngs of tourists and shoppers. Continue reading

Edible highlight of the weekend

Saturday night, when the restaurant that we had wanted to have dinner at was packed and had a 45-minute wait, Flaneur and I decided our growling stomachs couldn’t stand the wait so instead we set off through the Lower East Side to find something else. In New York, finding something good is never hard and something great is never far. We hadn’t been walking for more than two minutes when we stumbled upon a cute, cozy tapas restaurant, A Casa Fox.

The latin-inspired menu had lots of great options in the way of small plates and we tried a good assortment of them but hands down, the most delicious thing we tried were the sinfully delicious, artery clogging, bacon-wrapped, chorizo-stuffed dates. Salty, spicy, meaty, sweet and chunky, they were without a doubt the most delicious thing on the menu and by far, the best thing I ate all weekend.

Chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates

A Casa Fox had great empanadas, nice tostones, and a pretty good arroz con pollo, but the dates? Those alone were reason enough to go back… again and again and again.

Summer Spritzing

Aperol and prosecco... my hot weather friends

The small AC window unit in my living room was chugging along this afternoon, noisily blowing cool air into the small room yet not doing enough for me personally. My skin was sticky to the touch and my face was shiny. I, needless to say was grouchy, cursing the AC under my breath for not providing the cooling comfort I needed. As I lazily poked around on Facebook looking for something, anything, to get my mind off being hot, I read my friend Kelly’s status. She and her husband, friends I made while living in Italy, were in Venice for the weekend, and in her status she mentioned what they were doing: enjoying a refreshing Spritz and eating cicchetti.

“Ugh. That’s exactly what I need.”

I was mostly referring to a casual weekend in Venice, but the Spritz? That would definitely do wonders for my heat induced crankiness. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my bag and ran around the corner to the liquor store where I bought a bottle of prosecco and a bottle of Aperol, the two ingredients in a Spritz.

In Italy, when it was a million degrees outside and there seemed to be no AC anywhere in the entire country, Spritzes, one half Aperol (an Italian bitter apertif) and one half prosecco (italian sparkling wine), garnished with a an orange slice, had been my salvation. Cold, refreshing, and alcoholic, they took the edge off everything— the heat, the national aversion to air conditioning and the italians.

As I hastily poured the bubbly and orange liquids into a glass of ice, I felt cooler already. When I sat down to drink it, this time sitting next to the AC while it blew my hair back like a dog’s ears when he sticks his head out the window of a speeding car, all was well with the world again. I had my drink and my AC. Anything else wasn’t my concern.

A great holiday

Carrot cake doughnut from Doughnut Plant in NYC's Lower East Side

If you didn’t already know, today is National Doughnut Day! No, I didn’t make that up and I’m certainly not the only one celebrating. National Doughnut Day is a legitimate holiday which has been celebrated since 1938 in honor of the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. Places like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts are celebrating by giving out free doughnuts. (Well, DD gives you a free doughnut with drink purchase. Not a bad deal if you need your coffee fix like I do. I got a free Boston Kreme with this morning’s iced coffee.)

If you haven’t already, go to your nearest doughnut vendor and celebrate! Or if you’re like me and you’ve already partaken, go celebrate at a different location where they won’t judge you for being a glutton. Happy Doughnut Day everyone!

S’mores alla coconut

It had been years since I last had actual s’mores. Probably not since the time I went camping with friends in college, and did nothing but sit in a tailgate chair inhaling copious amounts of lighter fluid-fed campfire smoke and eat all sorts of junk food. I can’t even remember the last time I made them at home. Probably some time in my childhood.

But when I saw an in-store display for marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate and graham crackers, I knew I had to revisit the old camp classic. What really sold me on the s’mores idea though, was the kind of marshmallows on display. Instead of the plain ol’ white kind, these were covered in toasted coconut.  Sold.

The ingredients

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