Fit for a King

The Elvis

I don’t know how many people this happens to, but recently while sitting at work trying to get through the day, I was struck by a random craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I know what you’re thinking: who not currently enrolled in elementary school has these cravings? Well, me, that’s who.

So I made a date with the boyfriend to meet at Peanut Butter & Co. for lunch to get my peanut butter fix. I’d been to PB& Co. before and knew that they had not only all manner of sandwich featuring peanut butter but all manner of peanut butter, some with swirls of dark chocolate, others flecked with raisins and cinnamon, some sweetened by the taste of maple syrup. Continue reading

Springtime and cookies

Today was the third official day of spring, and to mark the occasion, New York had snow.  Again. And when it wasn’t snowing, there was icy rain instead. Then on my walk home at the end of the day, when I hoped the weather would have cleared up a bit, there was hail, which pelted me all the way home like an annoying bully.

I needed something to bring a little sunshine into my day. (You know, since spring obviously didn’t get the memo. ) Just a few blocks from my apartment I  saw the Roasting Plant Coffee Company and since I’d recently read that they had the alleged “best chocolate chip cookie in the city,” I figured it was about as good a time as any to test that claim. I bought two cookies, asked for them to go, and tucked the crinkly paper sleeve into my purse, where they would be safe from the obnoxious rain and sleet outside.

Behold, chocolate chip cookie perfection

When I got home, after announcing to Flaneur that I came bearing treats, we each bit into our palm-sized cookies, and let me tell you, it suddenly became spring. The clouds parted. The slush disappeared. Rays of sunlight burst everywhere and birds chirped as flowers bloomed. Ok, so none of that actually happened but still. Those cookies were phenomenal.

Striking just the perfect balance of slightly crispy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside, with a doughy sweet flavor and fat chunks of chocolate, the Roasting Plant’s cookies might not have done anything for the dreary weather, but they definitely did wonders for my my mood. Without trying more of the other cookies on the list, it’s unfair to say this is definitely the best, but I can say this much: this delicious cookie has been the best thing to happen this spring.

It does a body good

I look back at my childhood and marvel at the fact that I managed to escape morbid obesity, what with my aversion to sports and the diet I grew up on. People are always blown away by this little fun fact,  for example, but I didn’t try milk that wasn’t vitamin D whole milk (i.e. chock full of fat) until I went away to college and started buying my own milk. For almost 19 years, there was never water, soda or juice with meals in the De Angelis house. Only milk. Whole Milk. Tall glasses filled almost to the brim with thick, cold, whole fat milk. Not just once a day, either. I’d say three times daily was a pretty solid average.

The most delicious milkshake ever

Things have changed slightly since then. I don’t drink whole milk anymore (unless I’m at my parents’ house where they still refuse to buy anything other than whole), but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a fond appreciation for it. I miss it even, and if it wasn’t so damn fattening, I would still drink three creamy, thick glasses of it a day.

During a recent trip to Chelsea Market, milk once again asserted its magnetic pull on me  when I saw the Ronnybrook Milk Bar, a shop featuring all manner of dairy products from the upstate New York dairy farmer. Regular milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, half and half, tubs full of ice cream, cheeses, yogurt, butter and one of my all time favorite dairy products: milkshakes.

Putting fat counts and my expanding waistline aside for a moment, I was a kid again. Whole milk and ice cream, blended together into a thick, frosty cup of dairy perfection. I was sold. I went for the coconut and almond ice cream which was scooped into a blender with some creamy, cold milk and then poured, like liquid coconut and ground almond-flecked heaven, into a cup for my complete and utter enjoyment and childlike joy.

It was without a doubt the single most delicious milkshake I’ve ever had, rich and sweet, thick to the point of almost being its own meal, and probably insanely fattening. But you know what, if I had it for almost 19 years and turned out ok, what’s one more giant helping of caloric, dairy deliciousness?

Changing up the brunch routine

Baked eggs

I’m one of those people that actually likes change. If it doesn’t happen by itself, I get antsy and go looking for it. That  even applies to what I eat, most recently brunch. I’m all for the usual suspects, French toast, sausage and scrambled eggs, but I needed something new and slightly different during brunch, so I went looking for it not far from my apartment at  Cafe Gitane at The Jane Hotel.

Instead of the standard omelet or plate of scrambled eggs, the Moroccan inspired Cafe Gitane offered me baked eggs with smoked salmon and roasted potato chunks. The three eggs baked in the ceramic dish were cooked to a soft, gooey consistency so that when I punctured their almost perfectly flat surface with a toasted piece of baguette, a runny stream of orange yolk erupted out on to the otherwise white eggs. The salmon lent it a big, smokey flavor and the potatoes made it chunky and hearty. The whole thing was reminiscent of eggs and potatoes yet different enough that it was a new and delicious plate all together.

Avocado toast

And while the baked eggs were good, even better was Cafe Gitane’s delicious spin on breakfast toast. A thick, dark slice of seven grain toast was slathered with a creamy, buttery spread of avocado, lemon juice, olive oil and red pepper flakes. The bread was nutty and rich while the avocado was bright, tangy and zesty. Really, this avocado toast would have been good with any meal, any time of day.

There weren’t pancakes, biscuits or bacon that I could remember, but it was a nice another example of how a little change could do you good (or at least taste pretty damn good).

Cafe Gitane on Urbanspoon

Morini’s cure for missing Italy

In a reversal of roles, my sister is in Italy right now and I’m stuck at home. She’s there on a spring break trip as part of her advertising major’s curriculum and after a week of visiting agencies in different cities, she’ll get class credit for it.

Basically, I’m jealous. I want to be on vacation right now. I want to eat my way through Italy  for a week (or a lifetime).  But no, I can’t. Not right now. So to make myself feel better about this fact, I pulled off a hard to snag, last minute reservation for two at  Osteria Morini, Michael White’s new SoHo restaurant.

Fritto bolognese

While the scenery wasn’t as nice (SoHo’s cool but it ain’t Italy), the restaurant itself was cozy and cute, going for that rustic trattoria look (even if the prices were definitely more big city than Italian countryside). For not leaving the country, it was a pretty delicious alternative. Continue reading

Aussie style pies

Tuck Shop's traditional meat pie

I usually like my pies to be of the sweet variety: pumpkin, coconut cream, Key lime, Crack. But a recent savory pie experience at Tuck Shop‘s Chelsea Market location has broadened my gluttonous horizons.

Flaneur and I went to Chelsea Market for lunch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, with no particular destination in mind, (always a safe idea when heading to the foodie goldmine that is Chelsea Market) and it was actually the beau’s idea to stop at Tuck Shop.

Guiness steak and mushroom pie

He went with the traditional meat pie with ground beef and I went with the Guinness steak and mushroom pie, and even though I’ll be honest and admit I had no idea what Guinness steak meant and mostly chose it because of the Guinness I am familiar with, those pies were pretty good. The flaky, golden crust on both pies had a rich buttery flavor and was both crispy and thin on top, thick and doughy around the bottom. The filling in both pies was hearty and creamy, thick and satisfying without being too salty.

They were simple but delicious, no frills but absolutely finger licking. And best of all, because they’re savory, it means you can have the sweet kind afterward. And anytime you get to eat double pie, it’s a good thing. Double win.

Sunshine state of mind

Fresh-squeezed orange juice

It’s been almost eight years since I last lived in Miami and almost four since I lived in Florida in general. And for the most part, I haven’t ever wanted it any different. No homesickness for this girl. But every once in a while when I’m back there, something, whether it’s a 70 degree day in early January or a plate piled high with Cuban food, makes me kind of miss the ol’ Sunshine State.

A couple of weekends ago, while the boyfriend and I spent the weekend in Lakeland, Florida with his family, that something was a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice made from fat, ripe oranges plucked from trees out in the backyard.

Even slightly warm from spending the early morning hours in the sun, the juice from those oranges was sweet and tart with just the right amount of pulp (i.e. not chunky but not so slick and smooth either that it brings back nightmares of Sunny Delight). Is there anything more simple, more quintessential, more reminiscent of everything good about home than fresh squeezed OJ on a warm February morning? Nope. Not on most days. Good thing they bottle it.

Happy Friday everyone!

The Seven Gram Rock... yup, just what you're thinking

I don’t know about everyone else, but I for one, am ecstatic that this week is over. I mean really, it’s been relentless, and I’m filing it under “awful.”  But if there was one thing that stood out as a shining moment of awesomeness in this otherwise obnoxious week, it was Tuesday night’s 20/20 interview with Charlie Sheen. Yea, I said it.

I don’t care if he’s cracked out, completely bonkers or actually a genius. The man is hi-la-rious! A gold mine of outrageous ridiculousness and I can’t get enought of it!

Which is why I loved that Fatty Johnson’s in Greenwich Village, where I went on Thursday with some girlfriends, had a drink on their menu called the “Seven Gram Rock,” an allusion to the now famous quote, “I was banging seven-gram rocks and finishing them, because that’s just how I roll!” Yes! What a ridiculous individual. The other drinks, carefully crafted by guest New York City mixologists, sounded delicious, but in the spirit of Charlie, I ordered the Seven Gram Rock. Cause like Charlie, that’s just how I roll.

So what was in it? Dried peach-nectarine-apricot infused bourbon, cinammon, bitters, orange zest and essence of cocaine. I’m not sure about that last one, but all of the other ingredients came together in a great way to make for a zesty, smokey drink that was not too sweet, not too bitter, and just the right thing to drink on annnoyingly cold night on an annoyingly long week.  

** A note about Fatty Johnson’s: This pop-up from the Fatty Crew is only open until Sunday, at which point it will close while they create something more permanent in its place. Color me excited.

Butter me up

Lobster roll at Neptune Oyster

“Hot with butter or cold with mayo?” asked the waitress as she took my order. Oh, that all of life’s decisions could be so win-win.

Alas, they rarely are but for at least one night, when I ordered the lobster roll at Neptune Oyster in Boston’s North End, that’s precisely what they were.

While I don’t doubt that the cold-with-mayo option would have been delicious— the creamy tangyness of the mayo playing off the sweet, juicy lobster meat— it was a cold and blustery night and that called for hot. With butter.

What came from the kitchen and was placed before me didn’t just warm me with its temperature but with the fuzzy feeling of gluttonous happiness it spread inside of me. The soft toasted roll was practically an open faced sandwich, with fat chunks of tender lobster meat piled high and spilling out over sides, glistening under a golden coat of warm, melted butter. Each bite was rich and buttery, sweet and savory in the way that lobster always is.

I ate lots of good stuff in Boston but the lobster roll might have been the best. A great dish at a great restaurant. Win- win.


Bargain brunching in Boston

Everything in New York, from the tiny apartment I live in, to the subway rides I take, to the groceries I occasionally try to stock my mini-fridge with, is exorbitantly expensive. But believe it or not, there’s actually something good about that, and it’s that almost everywhere I go outside of the city, everything seems outrageously cheap to me.

But I realize that it’s not that everything is super cheap, but just that everything in New York is so  ridiculously overpriced. But still, it’s nice to think I’m getting a deal. And sometimes, like during a recent brunch in Boston, things really are that cheap and I really am getting a deal.

Sweet plantain empanadas with cinammon cream cheese

Masa, a southwest style restaurant in Boston’s South End, would have been great even with New York prices, but with a Saturday brunch special for $8.95?? Including an appetizer/small plate and an entree aaaand coffee or tea? God, that just makes my mouth water.

And it wasn’t some Denny’s Grand Slam kind of deal either. No cold, rubbery eggs or greasy little sausage links. This was good food. Food that in New York would’ve cost at least double.

From the small plates/starters I went with the sweet plantain empanada with Mexican cinammon cream cheese, a delicious combination of two things I love. The doughy shell was full of sweet, caramelized plantains, just like the kind I grew up eating with almost every meal, and the sweet, soft cream cheese was the perfect touch to make a good thing better.

Santa Fe Style Eggs Benedict

The entree, a turn to savory after the dessert-like starter, was also delicious. I had a hard time choosing between all the amazing sounding menu items, but finally went with the Santa Fe style eggs Benedict, which came on top of soft, fluffy biscuits, buttery chunks of avocado, home fries and green chile hollandaise.

I love getting out of the city and eating in new places, and even more than that, I like being reminded that doing it doesn’t always have to be ridiculously expensive.