Pancakes in paradise

Bliss

Breakfast bliss.

Man, do I loooove me some pancakes in the morning. Wait, better than that:  I loooove me some blueberry pancakes eaten poolside in the morning, while the sun is still climbing the sky and the breeze from the bay is rolling in and I’m on vacation. Man, do I love those pancakes.

Those were precisely the ones I had last Friday when I woke up at The Standard Hotel in Miami, threw on a bathing suit and sauntered over to the pool to enjoy a deliciously lazy morning.

Sure, my fluffy buttermilk pancakes oozing with juicy, fat blueberries were delicious (especially after my thick, generous pour of maple syrup) but really it was the view across the water, the quiet of the early morning, and the wonderful and rare feeling of not having a single other thing to worry about at the moment that made them so wonderful.

Oh to be back in that moment with those pancakes and that view.

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It’s skyr madness!

So much skyr!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love yogurt. I think most people feel pretty lukewarm about it, but I actually love it and eat it most days. I especially love plain flavored Greek yogurt for its thick, creamy consistency and rich, tangy flavor.

Before going to Iceland, the one thing I knew about local eating habits there was that people were serious about skyr, an Icelandic yogurt of sorts, similar to the Greek kind in its consistency, flavor and high protein content. And really, that was almost enough for me to fork over plane fare. Sure, all of the other awesome things about Iceland sealed the deal, but really, I was sold at skyr.

Skyr: non fat and high in protein, yet tastes like a complete dessert.

Once my sister and I were there, skyr really was everywhere and I, for one, thought it was great! At supermarkets, there were dozens of brands and flavors, including plain, fruity like blueberry and raspberry, or sweeter varieties like vanilla and caramel. In my six days there, I tried a bit of them all. Because I’m a big vanilla fan I really liked that one which was almost custardy, but the caramel one was really good too, in a very flan-like, almost dessert way.

Oh that all mornings could start with this much deliciousness!

At Kex, the hipstery hostel where we stayed, skyr was always a part of the morning breakfast line-up. The tart, plain flavored kind was served in small glass jars and left up to the eater to jazz up with an assortment of oats, granola, jams and dried fruits. My favorite combo was the dark, rich blueberry jam they put out (which by the way, was delicious and I would have eaten with just about anything) and the crunchy, nutty granola. I had it that way the first day we had breakfast there, and every morning we went back.

Lucky for me, places like Murray’s and Whole Foods actually sell skyr, so an Icelandic morning dairy fix is never too far. And as a devoted yogurt lover, that makes me very happy.

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

Good breakfast is always a great thing

If there’s one thing I could eat tirelessly it would be breakfast. Well, no, really it might also be pizza, ice cream, mac and cheese, or pork buns but that’s besides the point. Today, for the sake of this post, it’s breakfast.

Eggs, bacon, pancakes, ALL of it— I. Love. It. And last week, on a day off in the middle of the week, I had a great breakfast (or brunch I suppose) at one of the best spots for it in town: Clinton Street Baking Co. & Restaurant. On the weekends, people line up outside before the place even opens, but during the week, in the middle of the afternoon, you can just walk right in and help yourself to a table, which is exactly what we did.

Rosemary Salty Dog and Cucumber Cooler, fine company on a day off.

Drinks are a necessary part of the brunch experience so I went with the Rosemary Salty Dog, a rosemary-garnished, salt-rimmed mix of gin, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and rosemary simple syrup on the rocks.  It was citrusy and tart with just the perfect bit of herbal sweetness from the rosemary. Flaneur, always shying away from overly sweet drinks, went with the cucumber cooler, a crisp mix of vodka, cucumber puree, lime and mint with a refreshing bite to it.

Probably the best blueberry pancakes I’ve ever had.

Earlier that morning, Flaneur had rolled over in bed and said, “I want pancakes,” so at Clinton Street, which is known for its pancakes,  he ordered the blueberry variety. They were perfect in their soft fluffiness and had big fat blueberries throughout with a delicious bunch of more wild Maine blueberries on top. But what really had me literally licking my fingers was the delicious maple butter these came with. Instead of just traditional maple syrup, these pancakes came with warm maple butter, a ridiculously good concoction that was simultaneously sweet and just a tiny bit salty.

Southern breakfast in all its glory.

But because we had agreed to split something sweet and something savory, I ordered the southern breakfast: two eggs (ordered sunny side up because I go bonkers over runny, orange yolk), cheese grits, sugar-cured bacon and fried green tomatoes. Yes, that’s right, fried freakin’ green tomatoes! It’s not every day I see those on a menu, and with cheese grits no less! The only thing missing was a biscuit, but that was ok because the bacon more than made up for it. The ideal thickness and crunchiness, it had a sweetness to it that made me want to eat plate after plate of it.

After eating at Clinton Street, I get why people line up outsides on the weekend, which makes me even happier to have days off during the week.

Homage to yogurt

I recently realized that I don’t show nearly enough love on this blog to one of my favorite foods ever: yogurt. So you know what, yogurt? This one’s for you.

With nuts or with honey, fruit flavored and plain, as a snack, a dessert, or even as a meal— I just love yogurt.

But who ever writes about yogurt? Who rants and raves about it? I never read about yogurt in food blogs or magazines, and few foodie convos ever involve it. But after a couple of really phenomenal yogurt experiences I’ve had recently, I’m here to sing its praises!

Yogurt with stewed fruit at The Smile

First, was a great big bowl of yogurt topped with stewed plums and almond bits at the cozy-hipster-rustic-chic (cause that’s a whole design concept these days) Noho eatery, The Smile. The plain white yogurt was sweet and creamy, a delicate vanilla taste to complement the rich, jammy plums poured on top. To break up the smooth creaminess there were chunky chopped almonds. Big enough to be a meal and sweet enough to be a dessert (a fairly healthy one at that) this yogurt was perfect. Forget eggs and bacon for once, this was all the brunch I needed.

Goat's milk greek yogurt with blueberries, granola and honey

My other recent delicious run-in with yogurt was at Victory Garden, a teeny Greenwich village shop that sells dairy treats made with goat’s milk. While the salted caramel frozen yogurt I sampled was good (tiptoing that delicious line between salty and sweet), I saw Greek yogurt on the menu and immediately wanted that tangy sourness. As toppings, I got fresh, plump blueberries and a nutty, sweet granola, all under a generous drizzle of honey. The yogurt itself was thick, so much so that had it not been covered in blueberries and granola, I would’ve been curious to see how long before it oozed out of the cup if I turned it upside down. The flavor was tangy and bright, which was perfect for the juicy, sweet blueberries and the crunchy granola. The honey tied everything together in a sticky sweet way and made the blueberries look even shinier and ready to be swirled into the yogurt.

Yea, most days’ yogurt comes in individual serving sized cups with peel-back lids and not made with delicious ingredients like these, but so what? I love it all just the same.