Breakfast of (gluttonous) champions

Behold: the French toast bagel. Cue the choir of angels.

Behold: the French toast bagel. Cue the choir of angels.

Some people incorrectly believe that I live off a diet of pizza and Cadbury eggs. And hey, listen, I get it. I see how my endless blabbering would make anyone think I eat only the most unhealthy of foods, but those are really just a small (ok fine, medium) part of my diet. The other parts just aren’t as exciting, so I don’t talk about them much. Who really wants to hear about my spinach smoothies and undying love for steamed Brussels sprouts? No one.

But who wants to hear about the insanity of deliciousness, the monstrosity of gluttony, and the several thousand calories of over-the-top breakfast ridiculousness I ate this weekend in the form of a french toast bagel with maple bacon cream cheese from The Bagel Store around the corner from my place? Well, way more of you than want to read about green smoothies, I’m sure.

Let me repeat that so you can take it in again: a french toast bagel, stuffed no, oooooozing with thick globs of maple bacon cream cheese. A true beast of a breakfast. But so, so delicious.

JSAJKAHSDKJHASD

What you might call the antithesis of a healthy breakfast

The bagel itself was a big, round, doughy affair, slightly more yellow than the average bagel, and with a sweeter flavor, like the love child between a plain bagel and challah bread. Dusted on the golden-brown top crust was a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, and inside was an admittedly obscene amount of cream cheese, probably enough for at least one whole other bagel to be properly smeared with.

Just when you thought cream cheese couldn't get better. Bam! BACON.

Just when you thought cream cheese couldn’t get better. Bam! BACON.

So, let’s talk about this maple bacon cream cheese. It wasn’t bacon flavored, or speckled with crummy bacon bits. Oh no, this cream cheese had generous strips, huge chunks of actual bacon, what someone clearly cut very generously and threw into the mix. Was it a bit excessive? Yes. Did I care? Nope, ate every last bit of it, in fact.

But I followed it up with a green juice later in the day. I swear.

The Bagel Store on Urbanspoon

The best, but really

Whenever something claims to be “the best” of its kind, I take it with a grain of salt. The pizza place in my neighborhood, for example, which claims to have the “best margarita?” Well, they’re just silly because a margarita, first of all, is a drink not a pizza, and second, if they were referring to the margherita, which is a pizza, then they’d be wrong again cause theirs is mediocre at best.

But I’m getting horribly off topic here (and unnecessarily hating on a local pizza joint, so sorry). The reason I’m bringing up any of this “best” claim business is because I think I may have had the absolute best grilled cheese sandwich ever this weekend and I need to relive it by writing about it.

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from Milk Truck Grilled Cheese

The Bacon Cheddar Blue from the Milk Truck Grilled Cheese stand at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg was intense and in my opinion, the best of its kind to ever meet my grilled cheese loving mouth. Perfection if you will: toasted rosemary pullman bread sandwiching New York state cheddar Wisconsin blue, sweet caramelized onions, thin spicy pickles and the power ingredient, thick sliced double smoked bacon.

The bread had just the right amount of crunch to complement the gooey, melted cheese oozing out, and the onions added just a hint of sweet jamminess, while the pickles, though not really spicy, lent a bright tangy flavor that I really enjoyed. The bacon? Well, c’mon, when is bacon ever anything but delicious? This bacon, all thick, smokey and juicy, was everything I could ever ask for.

I scarfed it down like it was my job and licked my fingers afterward, and now I’m here to pronounce it the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  And you shouldn’t take that lightly.

Shouldn’t have but I did

How do you say no?

How do you say no?

Sometimes, no, a lot of times, no wait, practically all the time, I do things I know I shouldn’t do. Willpower is not exactly my forte. Eating a big fat hunk of bacon, for example? Yup, that was one of those things I was fully aware I shouldn’t do today, but then yet, well, I did it.

Sitting right in front of me at the Landhaus table at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg, loaded up on a hot grill, glistening under a coat of maple syrup and dusted with mysterious reddish spices, the chunk of bacon on a stick was practically begging to be eaten, so I did just that. I ate it. And I loved it.

Maple bacon on a stick. Yea, you heard me.

Maple bacon on a stick. Yea, you heard me.

Yes, it was probably my caloric intake for the rest of the weekend, and yes, it probably beelined straight for my already soft midsection, but you know what, it was so freakin’ good. Good in that gluttonously delicious, juicy, soft, buttery, so-bad-for-you but so-good-to-you way that only a truly great piece of chunky bacon is.

I try to make up for the things I do that I know I shouldn’t have, and even though it was just one thick, chunk of bacon, I can already tell I’ll be atoning  for my food sin for a good long time on the treadmill. But man, was that bacon good.

Happy anniversary to me!

What do they say, time flies when you’re stuffing your face? No, that’s not what they say? Well, that’s what I say cause that’s certainly how time’s gone by for me, flying by in a woosh of delicious food over the last four years.

Today, you see, marks the day four years ago that I showed up in New York with two suitcases and not a damn clue where my life was going or what adventures lay in store for me.

Ice cream cake makes all celebrating that much better!

Ice cream cake makes all celebrating that much better!

In the past four years I’ve lived in four different apartments (six if you count two stints on friends couches) and had three different jobs. I’ve dealt with two hurricanes and a small earthquake. I’ve had my heart broken to pieces, cried in public (a New York rite of passage) and then moved on. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones, and realized that a few of both will be around forever. I’ve met Jay-Z and told the story maybe a thousand times, and will one day tell my kids too so they know I’m cool. I’ve lived four years and at the same time four whole lifetimes.

And as documented on this little blog of mine, I’ve eaten some of the best food around.

The whole thing’s been crazy. No really, it’s been simultaneously challenging, ridiculous, hilarious, exhausting, rejuvenating, frustrating and the best time ever.

To celebrate, it only seemed right to go with ice cream cake, always near and dear to my heart, from one of my favorite New York spots, Parm. A fat wedge of peanut butter, banana and raspberry ice cream cake on a bed of crumbly, crunchy chocolate, with a small strip of bacon plopped on top, Parm’s Elvis ice cream cake was the dessert version of my New York experience thus far: overpriced and perhaps over the top, but fun, delicious and unlike anything of its kind.

I’ll eventually leave this city one day but until then I hope to keep adding great memories and incredible eats to my New York City days.

Sibling recommendations: Colombian fast food edition

As someone who spends a large chunk of her time— both at work and outside of it— researching restaurants, reading up on what’s new on the dining scene, and telling people what they should eat and where they should eat it, I really love it when someone else takes over and does the work for me.

During last week’s pre-holidays trip to Miami, my sister took over the reins and suggested Los Verdes, a place in Broward county specializing in Colombian hot dogs and other fast food.

So here’s what I learned: Colombian food, while delicious, gets very few points for being aesthetically pleasing. But I’m ok with that. Sometimes it’s ok for things to be a messy jumble. That’s life, no?

A Colombian hot dog: apparently not for neat, dainty eaters

A Colombian hot dog: apparently not for neat, dainty eaters

Being the hot dog fan (examples 1, 2 and 3) that I am, it only seemed right to try one of the much-hyped (by my sister) Colombian hot dogs. When it came out, I wasn’t quite sure there was a hot dog involved because what was placed before us looked like a splayed out hot dog bun under a small mountain of crushed potato chips and sauce, a round, little quail egg plopped on top. The two sauces, a sweet pink sauce (probably a mayo-ketchup combo) and the sweet pineapple sauce, were no ketchup and mustard but they were good and put a whole new spin on the dog. Biting into this monster, stuff went every and got smeared on everything, but all of it was good. The different textures were fun and the different flavors were interesting when eaten with the buried hot dog. Sure, I probably should’ve worn a poncho to eat this thing, but I enjoyed it all the same.

A mess of a burger

All this mess and I hadn’t even touched it yet.

Next on the tour of wildly messy but tasty Colombian foods was the chicken burger, which was more of a chicken sandwich than a burger (breast not patty) and included more of the same ingredients from the hot dog. The towering “burger” seemed to spill out from underneath its bun, sauces oozing, melted cheese dripping down, lettuce, tomato and bacon jutting out from everywhere, on top of the seeming explosion of crushed potato chips. Again, not exactly date food (at least not first date, if you ask me) but since I was there with family, I might as well have been invisible for all I cared.

Maicito

Maicito, Colombian for mountain of food involving corn… or something like that

Last and probably my favorite of the three, was a Colombian maicito with chicken, basically a bed of loose corn kernels topped with— yup, more of the same— mozzarella, sauces (pink and pineapple), chopped chicken, and the by now ubiquitous crushed potato chips. Ok, so Los Verdes is kind of repetitive with their toppings, but there’s good reason for it: mixed all together into a sloppy, mushy mess, they’re delicious! This plate, with the sweetness of the loose corn, was oh so tasty.

Points to my sister for an interesting, ridiculously filling, messy but delicious recommendation, even if she did leave out the fact that I would need protective gear to eat it.

Happiness is hot soup on a cold day

With the exception of a good cuddle, a creamy hot chocolate or being burrito-wrapped in my down comforter, there are few things I find more comforting or instantly gratifying than hot soup when it’s cold outside. I feel warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it.  (Also because New York is pretty chilly right now and I want all of the above.)

In Iceland, where it was frigid every single day we were there (not that I was expecting any different), I probably had soup at least twice a day. Those Icelanders, man, they really know what they’re doing in that department! Below, the highlights of my soup-centric week.

The famous lobster soup at Saegreifinn

At the top of my things-I-MUST-eat-in-Iceland list was the humarsupa, or lobster soup, at Saegreifinn.  The tiny restaurant/fish shack in Reykjavik’s old harbor was supposed to have some of the best lobster soup in town, so the first night we were there, my sister and I made it a point to have it. I can’t say I tried lots of other lobster soups, but I didn’t need to because this one won my vote. Sweet and velvety without being cream-heavy or goopy, it had just the right amount of  fat hunks of sweet lobster meat. My only regret: not going back for more every single day.  Continue reading

Just the excuse I was looking for…

I routinely look for any excuse to not eat at home. We’re out of olive oil? Let’s just eat out.  We have friends in from out of town? Let’s just eat out. It’s Friday? Saturday? SundayMondayTuesday? Let’s just eat out!

But one of my more justified reasons for eating out is NYC Restaurant Week, because really how can you not take advantage of three courses over lunch for $25 or three courses at dinner for $35? I certainly can’t, not in these trying economic times.

So last week, Flaneur and I set out in the name of Restaurant Week for lunch at David Burke Kitchen at the James Hotel in SoHo. And let me tell you, dear reader whoever you are, I will be using one of my many bullshit excuses to eat there again soon, cause it was good.

Asparagus and burrata salad… not sure how something topped with a giant ball of cheese is “salad” but hey, I am NOT complaining

To start things off, I ordered the asparagus and burrata salad, which wasn’t so much a salad as it was a beautiful stack of watermelon, yellow tomato, prosciutto, asparagus and creamy, milky burrata, with some drizzles of olive oil and sauces and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Packed with colorful flavors, everything was clean and bright and delicious. A larger portion of this would make an amazing entree.

Tuna tartare tacos, so pretty and so delicious

The boy on the other hand, ordered the tuna tartare tacos, which would’ve given me major food envy, had my appetizer not been so damn good itself. Three crunchy taco shells were filled to the top with buttery, smooth avocado and tuna tartare and then topped with tobiko (flying fish roe, so I learned). Not only was this great tasting, but the color of the tobiko was one of the most beautiful jewel tones I’ve ever seen. I wanted to eat it and wear it all at the same time.

Softshell crab BLT: a pretty good way to get over mistrust of creepy crustaceans

For my entree, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and ordered the softshell crab BLT. Not that I don’t enjoy crab but I usually don’t like eating shellfish that still resemble the insects-of-the-sea that they are. (Whole lobster? Negative. Freaks me out.) But when it came out— the small crab hanging out belly up with all his little creepy legs in the air, sitting on top of a stack of toasted bread, tomato, chipotle mayo, and thick bacon— I knew I’d be ok. I chomped into it and forgot I ever had a problem with creepy crustaceans in the first place. To go with it was a tasty basket of fried vegetable chips.

Black sea bass with baby shrimp and spinach

Flaneur, who’s allergic to shellfish, ordered the black sea bass, which he somehow didn’t realize (even though it was plainly written on the menu) came loaded up with baby shrimp. (Guess whose mouth those ended up in?) But even sans shrimp, the sea bass was good, plump and clean under a bed of spinach and tomato with olive oil swirls and a thick, spicy mustard sauce.

Drunken brownie with mint-chocolate ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce and chocolate cherry lollipop

And then, my favorite and yours (or possibly just mine), dessert. Being the choco-whore that I am, I went with the drunken brownie, a fat, warm brownie topped with mint-chocolate ice cream and a cherry-chocolate lollipop. But really the kicker was when the waiter poured hot bourbon caramel sauce all around it on my plate. For a split second I wanted to ask him to pour it straight into my mouth but that probably wasn’t very lady-like.

Individual pie oozing with fat blueberries

The boy went with the fresh blueberry tartlet topped with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. While I definitely loved mine more (chocolate fan through and through), the mountain of juicy, fat blueberries made this a pretty good second choice.

Thankfully, restaurant week is never just a week, so I might just have to go back there and check out dinner too. And if restaurant week is over, I’ll just have to pull out some other random excuse from my ever-full bag-o-BS excuses.

David Burke Kitchen on Urbanspoon