Panettone alla Shake Shack

In the non-existent contest of which country got the better candied fruit flecked holiday cake, Italy has America beat. Fruit cake as we know it on this side of the pond, is an awful thing. Dense, brick-like, and speckled with unnatural-looking, jewel-toned bits of fruit that more closely resemble stale gummy bears, I can’t think of a single person who actually looks forward to receiving one of these or would ever willingly bring one home.

But Italians, well they have panettone. So they win, because panettone, which is soft, airy, fruity in a non-cloying way, and even comes in fun packaging, is, well, awesome.

But as great as I think panettone is, I don’t really like to eat it plain. For me, the perfect panettone eating experience includes something creamy like a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a fat dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.

Panettone frozen custard at Shake Shack

So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that Shake Shack not only had panettone frozen custard for the month of December, but it was only available on Wednesdays, which is exactly what day it was when I stumbled upon the December frozen custard calendar. (Side note: the awesome holiday-themed calendar also included other fun, seasonal classics like egg nog, spiced apple cider, and figgy pudding) Not only was it Wednesday though, it was the last Wednesday of 2010. During my lunch break, I bundled up, put my rain boots on, and power-walked through mounds of snow, lake-like puddles of dirty slush and icy water to go to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.

Shake Shack rarely disappoints and this time was no different.  The frozen custard was thick and creamy  with the subtle fruity flavor and sweetness of panettone. And instead of gummy pieces of fruit , this milky, cool treat had fat hunks of actual panettone tossed in it, as if someone had torn them off the domed loaf and into the custard.

It was panettone exactly how I love to eat it, and being the last time this year that I could possibly enjoy it, what better way was there to say arrivederci? See you in 2011.


The best in the world?

Behold, the so-called best of its kind

Naming something the “best in the world” is a sure fire way to guarantee that it’s not, in fact, the best in the world. I mean, really. The world? That’s just kind of a heavy title to be throwing out there.

But… it’s also a pretty smart business move for luring curious suckers like me in to prove it for themselves.

Such was the case with The Best Chocolate Cake in the World, the small Nolita shop with the big claim where I found myself on Christmas Eve (you know, treating myself to an early Christmas present). Originally, the cake was from Portugal, where it started as a dessert item on the menu of a restaurant in  Lisbon, but then it spread to Brazil and Madrid before coming stateside to New York. Continue reading

Deck the halls with cookies and doughnuts

Mmmmm, dooooughnuts.

I love the holiday season and almost everything about it  (with the exception of maybe fruit cake which I will quite possibly never come around to) but it’s not often that I’m so moved by the holiday spirit that I have the urge to burst out into song and belt out a Christmas carol or two. But seriously, these ornaments I saw at Urban Outfitters this weekend kind of made me want to  do just that.

O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree! How delicious are your ornaments!

Well, no, maybe I didn’t go quite that far. The only Christmas songs I ever feel compelled to sing along with are Wham’s “Last Christmas” and of course, Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” (I mean really, how ridiculously catchy is that song?) Even then, I tend to have these moments home alone (or in the shower) and not out in public.

Forget tinsel, I want cookies on my tree

But all singing and joking aside, I really do enjoy these foodie ornaments. Look at that cookie! How nicely would that match my cookie shaped camera pouch? (Hint hint. I’m lookin’ at you,  Santa.)

As the song goes…

“O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree! Much pleasure thou can’st give me!”

(Yes, those are real lyrics.)



Gingerbread Tinseltown

Foundations of Rice Krispies treats and driveways paved with chocolate, roofs topped with M&Ms, and cookie walls held together with icing. You’d think it would be my dream home, but somehow Gingerbread houses always seem to disappoint. Icing gets crusty, gumdrops get hard, and to be honest, I’m just not crazy about gingerbread itself.

A recent trip to the Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien proved to be no different. While the gingerbread creations on display were cool and the theme was fun, “Movies made in New York,” the word extravaganza was perhaps a bit strong. It wasn’t so much of an extravaganza as it was about six different designs from bakeries around the city, each in a glass case, in a small area off the hotel’s lobby.

A Night at the Museum by Soutine Bakery

From Soutine Bakery, was this fun gingerbread replica of the American Museum of Natural History from the movie A Night at the Museum. I particularly enjoyed the red M&M-covered roofs and the rolled wafer top above the entrance…mostly because I could eat (and have before) a sickening amount of  both of those. Also, you can’t really see it, but there’s a cookie T-Rex standing in the courtyard-like area of the museum. Points for edible dinos.

Ghostbusters by Tribeca Treats

This gingerbread “house” by Tribeca Treats was cool because it recreated the Ghostbusters station, complete with the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and the Ectomobile, but really, I think given all the right ingredients, I could make the same structure myself. I dunno, am I being too harsh?


King Kong by Norma's

And of course, they couldn’t have the theme they had without King Kong being represented, so the hotel’s very own restaurant and brunch hotspot, Norma’s, made the classic gorilla-topped Empire State Building,

I think my main problem with gingerbread houses (or in this case, movie scenes) is that for being something made of cookies and candy, I never have a strong urge to eat them. And that sort of weirds me out. Then again, I guess there should be at least one thing during the holiday season that I don’t want to devour immediately.

8 million burgers and Five Napkins

In this city of eight million stories, there seems to be a burger for each one. I could make it my life’s ambition to try every burger in New York and I’d fail miserably.

There are places though, that when you mention to people that you haven’t been, their eyes get all wide and their jaws drop.

“Oh, what?” they say in disbelief, “You haven’t been to <insert burger name here>? Well. You just have to go.”

Five Napkin Burger was one of those places. I just hadn’t been to it before. I’d heard all the ooh’s and ahh’s but I just hadn’t made my way there yet. But then recently, I went, and now I’ve become one of those people .

The Original 5Napkin Burger and Tuscan fries

What? You haven’t been? Well, let me tell you. Get yourself there fast. Continue reading

Hangover comida

Sunday hangover, meet mofongo.

After a night of too much drinking and staying up too far past my bedtime, I like to seek comfort  in food the next day: usually standard American breakfast classics, preferably greasy, and heavy on the carbs. Biscuits and gravy in particular are a life-renewing source for me.

But not all hangovers are created equal and neither are their cures. Just the other day, for example, a friend told me about an out-of-town guest of hers who wanted to know where to go for curry, because that’s what he woke up craving after a night on the town. Curry! Can you believe it? Now, I love curry— don’t get me wrong—but after a night of boozing? Not likely.

Recently though, while staying at a friend’s apartment in Astoria (while I waited to move into my own apartment) my gracious host came over to my room (her guest room) and asked how Flaneur and I felt about going for mofongo.


“Mofongo! That’s exactly what I feel like eating right now.”

Continue reading