Cambodia’s national culinary dish

Cambodia’s Khmer cuisine has some delicious food to offer (sorry, fried tarantulas, you guys are NOT included on that list) and my favorite was unsurprisingly their most popular, the one you can find on pretty much every menu at every restaurant in every city in the country: amok.

My favorite fish amok

My favorite fish amok at Rumduol Angkor Restaurant, after a day of temple touring.

Pretty much the national dish of Cambodia, amok is a curry made with coconut milk, peppers, carrots, ginger, basil (probably a bunch of other magical spices, too) and most commonly, either fish or chicken. It’s served with white rice and usually either comes in a banana leaf container or as I had it one time in Siem Reap, inside a coconut.

Admittedly, not the most aesthetically pleasing, but let me tell you it was goooooood! Especially scraping out the coconut meat

Amok is thick and chunky, with a great balance of sweetness from the coconut milk and hot, spicy exotic flavors from the peppers and spices. This, to me, is absolute comfort food. Even times when it was hot and muggy and I had sweat rolling down my face (so basically, every single day of my month-long stay in Cambodia), I loved ordering fish amok (which I preferred over chicken) and now that I’m back in the frozen tundra that is New York, I reeeeally wish I had a piping hot plate of it. I kind of, sort of, learned how to make it (stay tuned for that story…) and this frigid weather might just be all the motivation I need to relive this delicious bit of Cambodian comfort at home.


Break out the Kookies!

Fashion Week is over, you guys!

Ding dong the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead! Ding dong the evil witch is dead!

Uhm, sorry, I don’t know what just happened there. Things got weird. I apologize. It’s just that Fashion Week’s always the busiest time of year at the hotel and everyone gets all crazy and needy and stressed out and I hate it. So yea, I’m glad it’s over. All you impossibly thin, painfully cool people that come out during Fashion Week, all of you can just see your way out.

Unlike Karlie, these cookies aren't really lookers but damn are they good anyway!

Unlike Karlie, these cookies aren’t really lookers but damn are they good anyway!

Except for one. Karlie Kloss. She can stay. Not because she’s a model, not because she looks super cool and down to earth, and certainly not because she has the body and proportions I would’ve been born with in a perfect world. Nope, Karlie can stay because she teamed up with Momofuku Milk Bar to make Karlie’s Kookies, an awesome line of delicious and not the-worst-possible-thing-you-could-put-in-your-body cookies.

There’s a couple different kinds but I recently had the 5Boro Kookie,  which despite being dairy free, gluten free, and having no added sugar, was actually pretty freakin’ fantastic.

Made with cocoa powder, almond flour, coconut purée, pineapple juice, chocolate chips, water, baking powder, cornstarch and salt, the 5Boro was dark and rich, with the slightest sweet tang and a moist, chocolateyness that made me want to eat ten more in rapid succession.

And if all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, a portion of the proceeds from Karlie’s Kookies goes to charity. Pssshh, as if I needed a single other reason to celebrate the end of Fashion Week.

Someone send help… and doughnuts

It’s not like I didn’t know moving would be an epic nightmare. Cause I did, I knew. Having moved already a few times in the just four years I’ve lived in this city, I knew good and well what was in store for me. Yet somehow, it’s still managed to be more of an overwhelming headache than I was expecting.

So now, just a few days before the big move, on my day off when I should be out doing fun stuff, here I am instead, sitting in a chaotic mess of boxes, suitcases, and piles and piles of crap. Clearly, I’m not packing and organizing though, because if I was I wouldn’t be writing this.

Dammit packing and moving, why can't you be as fun as eating doughnuts?

Dammit packing and moving, why can’t you be as fun as eating doughnuts?

No, instead I’m daydreaming about doughnuts, which I woke up craving and now that I need to be productive, am being completely distracted by. And because I’m stressed out and prone to stress-induced binge eating, I really wish I had a plate stacked high with the ones from Vegan Divas. I had them about a month ago when I  brought a few to a vegan friend’s brunch, and now, well now I wish I could teleport to the Upper East Side to buy some more.

Sure, they lacked the over-the-top, full fat, gluttonous quality of say, Krispy Kreme, but they were actually really good. Soft and moist, they would’ve been great dunked in coffee or the way I had them, stuffed into my mouth, quickly and often. The chocolate frosted and cinnamon sugar varieties were both tasty but my favorite were the toasted coconut.

And now that I’m sitting here, I wish every one of these boxes, these piles of things to maybe keep maybe throw away, these magazines to recycle, these knick knacks to wrap and package, would all just turn into delicious, guilt free doughnuts.

A good day

You remember that old Ice Cube song, “It Was a Good Day?” (If you don’t, or worse, just don’t know it, take this opportunity to educate yourself on 90s West Coast hip hop, and thank me later.) Reason I bring it up is because aside from all the average-day-in-the-hood references, that song totally made me think of today, because today, you see, really was a good day! Today was Girl Scout Cookies day, most joyous day of celebration!


Doesn’t get much better than a fresh box of Samoas.

About a month ago, I placed an order through a colleague whose neighbor’s daughter was selling them (cause that’s how it works in the city) and BAM! today they arrived, my all-time favorites, the purple boxed, chocolate drizzled, coconut and caramel covered, ring-shaped Samoas aka Caramel deLites (depending on which of the two bakers used made them), officially making today a very good day indeed!


Oh Samoas, how I love you so.

Had it not been raining when I walked/skipped home from work, I would have torn into the box right then and there, but instead I waited till I was home on the couch to completely go to town on them. As usual, they were delicious and addictive, the perfect trifecta of my three favorite C’s: chocolate, caramel and coconut. I told myself I would only have a couple and six cookies later I finally forced myself to put them away, only so I would have some left for later.

The only bad part in my otherwise good day was that I didn’t think to order more Samoas and that I didn’t order any Thin Mints or Tagalongs. I might just have to make tomorrow a better day and order more cookies.

Snowed in

Snow is coming down sideways right now, swirling around in the air and making the view from my window look like I’m living in a life-sized snow globe. The sidewalks are white and the streets have turned into a gross mess of brown slush. The governor, the news tells me, has declared a state of emergency for New York.

And you know what I’m doing at this very moment, while I write this? Eating ice cream. Not slurping a bowl of chicken noodle soup or drinking hot cocoa. Nope, not this girl. When I went to the supermarket earlier today in a last-ditch effort to prepare for the storm, I picked up a cucumber, an avocado, a box of 100-calorie Oreo crisps, and a pint of Haagen-Dazs coconut macaroon ice cream.

Baby it’s cold outside

Because my Polly Pocket kitchen only has a mini fridge with no freezer, I don’t usually buy ice cream to keep at home, but today something about this dreary winter storm (stupidly named Nemo) inspired me to get some.

So while the tri-state area gets blanketed in snow and the newscasters work themselves into a tizzy of hysterics over what is really just completely normal winter weather, I’m wrapped in a throw blanket on the couch, feet propped up, computer on my lap and a pint of ice cream by my side. And you know what? It’s soooo good. Screw the snow!  This ice cream is where it’s at right now! Rich creamy coconut ice cream with chunks of chewy coconut macaroons. Nemo who?

Best of all, because the weather is so icy, once I’m ready to take a break from stuffing my face full of ice cream, I have every intention of wrapping my pint in a plastic bag and leaving it outside on the fire escape, until I feel like digging into it again. Til then, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

3.14 = Pi = PIE!!!

It's a celebration!

I am perhaps the least mathematically inclined person you will EVER know. I fared well enough in the bare minimum of math classes I was required to take in school, but even in “Math for Liberal Arts Majors” (a real class taught at the University of Florida. I took part 1 and 2 to meet my journalism major’s math requirement) I still had to put in serious study time to get by.

And while I’ve forgotten almost everything math-related I ever learned, erased by time like the painful memories that they were, a couple of things still remain. One of those is that pi = 3.14. So today, when I wrote the date and noticed that it was 3/14 I immediately thought one thing: PIE!!!

I’d long been looking for an excuse to take a subway ride up to Hell’s Kitchen and try out the Little Pie Company and today’s date was all the sign I needed to go. I originally wanted to buy a few slices and bring them home to share with the boy, but I wasn’t crazy about the selection they had available by the slice so instead I came home with two 5-inch minis, a banana coconut cream pie and the shop’s signature pie, the sour cream apple walnut.

I love bananas with the enthusiasm of a cartoon monkey so LPC’s banana coconut cream pie was perfection in pie form. The firm, crumbly crust was the best complement to the smooth, creamy banana filling it was holding, chock full of cool, fat slices of banana. On top, a small mountain of fluffy soft whipped cream and crispy, toasted coconut shavings made this not only a delicious little pie, but a pretty one at that, all cloud like in its sweetness.

Dear Banana Coconut Cream Pie, I'm kind of in love with you.

The sour cream apple walnut pie, made with a creamy, chunky filling of juicy granny smith apple chunks and fresh sour cream under a thick, crunchy cinnamony walnut, streusel is mind boggling in how delicious it is. Even after we decided to save the rest for later, the beau and I kept carving out great big spoonfuls. This pie is homey and comforting, like something your grandmother might have made… if she were an evil genius.

The Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie might just make Pi Day a new favorite holiday for me

This is my first year celebrating pi/pie day, and after today’s major success, I’m glad to dust the cobwebs off this ol’ math relic and celebrate it every year because if 3.14= pi and pi= pie (to me) then pi day = one pie-eating happy camper out of this girl. (If that pseudo equation made no sense to you, please refer to the first paragraph of this post.)

Living the dream

Coffee cake ice cream sample

I lived out one of my ultimate fat-kid dreams this weekend when the beau and I went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont. We originally went to Vermont not to eat ice cream but instead to get out of the city for a bit, see some of that Mother Nature people are always talking about, and do some snowboarding. But when I proved an absolute failure at snowboarding (not surprisingly), Flaneur indulged me with a trip to the tie dyed, cow happy, ice cream wonderland that is the Ben & Jerry’s factory.

Yes, I went on the tour. Yes, I had ice cream. Yes, I almost bought a tie dyed T-shirt. And yes, I was the happiest fat kid there. Did you know employees take home up to three pints a day? Madness! I know! Hey Ben, hey Jerry, are you guys hiring??

My second helping of ice cream: Seven Layer Bar

Needless to say, my favorite part of the tour was at the end, when everyone got a sample of a flavor not currently available for purchase because it’s still being worked on and taste tested by the flavor gurus whose job it is to concoct crazy combinations and wild flavors. (Coming up with things like Chunky Monkey, Phish Phood and Cherry Garcia? Heeellloooo DREAM JOB.) The sample during our tour was Coffee Cake, a creamy, slightly chocolatey tasting coffee ice cream with fluffy, sweet hunks of coffee cake swirled throughout. In the brief survey we filled out after tasting it, when I was asked if I would buy this ice cream in stores, I emphatically circled YES.

After the tour, as with most tours of anything, we were dumped out into the gift shop, where it took all of my strength and willpower  not to purchase an ice cream cozy. You know, like for a beer can but for a pint of ice cream instead, so you can comfortably hold it while digging into it. Genius, just genius.

And finally, because one serving of ice cream just wasn’t enough, I also had a small cup of Coconut Seven Layer Bar, a ridiculously delicious blend of coconut ice cream with coconut and fudge flakes, chunks of walnut, butterscotch swirls and graham cracker crumbles.

Like the mouse pad I also saw in the gift shop, “We came. We saw. We ate ice cream.” And it was awesome.

Trying to beat the heat

People, I kid you not, the past two days in New York have been miserable, disgusting and infernally hot. Hair-matted-to-the-back-of-my-neck, sweat-trickling-down-uncomfortable-parts-of-my-body, clothes-clinging-in-unflattering-ways, face-shining-like-I-dipped-it-in-olive-oil kind of weather. Not kidding. I wanted to die.

And it’s not even summer yet! The official change of seasons is still more than a week away, and I’m already itching for it to be over (literally, this heat makes me itchy…and bitchy). To cope with the nasty weather I turned to a reliable cooling treat: ice cream sandwiches.

Coconut macaron with coconut and mango sorbet sandwich

Because I was in SoHo, where I now work, I hopped on over to nearby Francois Payard. I’d never been to the cute little patisserie before but when I read in a recent feature that they had some tasty little ice cream sandwiches, I was sold sold SOLD.

Brownie and vanilla bean ice cream sandwich

Instead of regular cookies, Payard, known for their fancy french pastries, uses rectangular cut macarons. Flaneur, who I asked to meet me (since an ice cream sandwich would never have survived the walk home), went the classic route and got the vanilla bean ice cream and chewy brownie combo, while I went with the slightly more tropical themed coconut and mango sorbet between coconut macarons. Flaneur’s was good, the creamy cold vanilla ice cream perfectly complementing the chewy chocolate brownie, but mine was exactly what I needed to pause my heat-related bitching. The macarons were subtle in flavor and had the classic, crispy airiness they’re known for while the fruity, frosty sorbet was refreshing and sweet.

Summer might not technically be here yet, but when it shows up, I’ll be ready— with ice cream sandwich in hand.

François Payard Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sorry, but I’m getting the coconut

As a personal rule, I try and not order anything with shrimp, crab or lobster in it when I’m eating with Flaneur because as I’ve mentioned before, he’s allergic to them. Every once in a while though, I break that rule, and most recently I did it in Mexico.

In New York, I can always go back to a restaurant with friends but in Mexico there was no such thing, so when at dinner one night the house special where we were eating (La Habichuela in downtown Cancun) was a plate that involved two of the three in the trinity of shellfish allergies, I bent my rule and ordered it anyway.

House special: cocobichuela

How could you not be curious about a dish that involved lobster and shrimp cooked in curry, served with rice, all inside a coconut and garnished with pineapple, coconut shavings and sweet plantains? I mean really. I wished the beau could try it, but there was no reason both of us couldn’t.

I won’t say it was the best thing I ate during my vacation, but it was probably one of the most interesting and definitely got the most points for presentation. Though you can’t see it in the picture, the inside of the coconut was full of a rich, hearty bunch of rice with fat chunks of sweet lobster and shrimp in a peppery, sweet and earthy tasting curry sauce.

Maybe I was a little selfish in ordering this, but the boyfriend understood. Plus, vacations aren’t about following the rules anyway.

When you need it to be cheap and greasy

I would love to hear the scientific explanation behind greasy food being so richly satisfying when you’ve been drinking. That’s a lie, actually. I don’t really want to know the science behind it because science isn’t really my thing. I rather just skip to the good stuff: the greasy food.

Recently, during a night out with friends, someone suggested getting something to eat after our first drink and before several more that were to come after it.

Mango chicken at Yamo: cheap, greasy and obscenely filling. Everything I look for in my drunk munchies.

“Well, what do you guys want to eat?” asked one person I was with.

“Something greasy,” was the fast and firm answer from someone else.

This night could’ve been any night, in that when is that not the answer?  I mean the above dialogue happened between two people I was with but really, I’ve had that same dialogue internally with myself. Sometimes when I’m sober, I actually want a salad, or some fruit, or a bowl of oatmeal. But after a few drinks? I want greasy pizza, street meat and Mc Donald’s.

On this most recent occasion, a friend had a better idea, (thankfully sparing us all from the golden arches).  In response to the request for greasy, we found ourselves at Yamo, a tiny, almost literal hole-in-the-wall Burmese lunch counter in the Mission.

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