A cold treat for a lazy day

If you ask me, it was hot as blazes today. Hot in an I’m-feeling-so-lazy-that-even-though-I-have-the-day-off-I-can’t-really-fathom-doing-anything-that-doesn’t-involve-my-ass-and-the-couch-being-in-contact kind of way. I purposely went to the gym first thing in the morning so the rest of the day would be open for lots of day-off activities and yet… well, nothing. All I managed to do, early in the afternoon, was walk over to Chelsea Market (a whole 10 minutes away) with a friend.

A damn fine way to beat the heat: an Affogato all'arancia

While I was there, though, I had the perfect half dessert-half drink pictured here, an affogato all’arancia from L’Arte del Gelato. It kind of just looks like a glass of OJ, and my crap-camera didn’t do much for the cause, but really it was a delicious pick-me-up, perfect for the day’s muggy weather. While a traditional affogato features vanilla ice cream drowned (cause that’s what affogato means) in espresso,  this citrusy take on it involved lemon sorbet, fresh squeezed orange juice and a touch of Campari, with a lemon slice and a bit of mint leaves for a refreshing garnish.

It was bright, crisp and flavorfu, and probably the highlight of my day. So what if there wasn’t much else going on? A good frosty treat on a hot day is enough for me.

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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?

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.

I have seen the promised land

Going to BuonItalia, the italian food market in pricey, trendy, gourmet Chelsea Market, had long been on my list of things to do. I had been to Chelsea Market before but didn’t go in to BuonItalia because stores that claim to specialize in italian food usually disappoint me. They inevitably just make me miss real, authentic italian food, and then that leads to lots of moping around and being whiney.

But recently, when I went on an online search for a place in New York that sold stracchino (a soft white cheese that I love with every fiber of my being) I came back to BuonItalia, which said they had it, both on their website and when I called to ask. (You can never be too sure.)

So Flaneur and I headed west to buy the cheese for part of dinner at our apartment on Friday night. I went with the intention of just getting the cheese. I wasn’t expecting anything else. Just the stracchino. But the second I walked in and took a look around, I knew I had reached the promise land. The land of milk and honey. Make that cheese and honey. I had found everything I had been looking for.

This place had e-ve-ry-thing. EVERYTHING. Their cheese section was amazing! They had stracchino and so much more: burrata, pecorino, squaquarone, mozzarella di buffalo, and so many more. I wanted to rip them all open and go on a fiendish cheese eating binge. But I held back.

So much wonderful cheese!

A huge ceramic bowl filled with huge balls of mozzarella gave me a great idea for my next birthday party: instead of bobbing for apples, I want to bob for mozzarella. And if other people are weirded out by that, I’ll play by myself. Practically glowing in their milky bath, those mozzarella balls were begging to be eaten.

Fist-size balls of mozzarella

The refrigerated meat case was just like being back in Italy, ordering a sandwich at my favorite shop (which by the way, in case anyone’s interested, is Antico Noè in Florence). All my old friends were there: porchetta, salame, speck, prosciutto, and others.

Carnivore wonderland

Then as I worked my way through the dry foods section, I ran into all the cookies that I had always seen in the supermarkets in Italy. It really was like running into someone you haven’t seen in a long time. Someone you like. They had the chocolate pan di stelle (a classic among Italian children) and baiochi, the little round cookies with chocolate cream on the inside.

Cookies galore

But really, they had it all: olive oil, fresh pasta, spices, chocolates, Easter confections, grissini  (super thin crunchy bread sticks), jams, olives, coffee, and even imported gelato. I was in heaven. Italian food heaven.

Needless to say, I was completely unable to leave the store with just the cheese I had come for. This was not the place to put my self-control to the test, so I didn’t even bother.