Brunching alla Swiss

With cheese and chocolate as some of its most recognizable foods (albeit, each one a broad umbrella group), it should come as no surprise that Switzerland would hold a special place in my heart/stomach. Of the different coutnries I’ve been to, it’s always been one of my favorites.  Lots of natural beauty (nothing like a mountain to blow a Florida girl’s mind), awesome cows (yea, I know, random, but they really were the prettiest cows ever) and again, the food.

So when my friend Holly, who was recently visiting from out of town, suggested a Swiss brasserie in Chelsea that her boyfriend recommended from having been there before, I was all for it. (And sidenote, friends that make food recommendations you can count on being good? Golden!)

I liked Trestle on Tenth pretty much from the get-go. Outside, the weather was rainy, cold and crappy, but inside the restaurant was cozy and warm, and when Holly mentioned that the sticky buns were specifically recommended via the BF who wasn’t there with us, I knew it didn’t matter what was going on outside because I was about to be exactly where I needed to be: in front of great food, with great company.

It might be a scientific fact  that sticky buns improve rainy days

First to come out were the aforementioned sticky buns. They’re not usually one of my favorite baked goods because the sticky factor kind of bothers me, but these weren’t too messy or over-the-top sweet. Fat and doughy, these buns mostly kept the sticky part on the inside, with a dark, molasses-like interior  swirl and a drizzle of icing on top.

The Bure Rösti looks unassuming from the outside, but don’t let it fool you…

BAM! Deliciousness inside!

One of the things I went crazy for when in Switzerland was rösti, a traditional breakfast dish basically comprised of grated hash browns topped with other breakfasty things like eggs, sausage or bacon, so when I saw Bure Rösti on the menu, it was a no brainer.  In the past, rosti had always been sort of just a heap of goodness on my plate, a pile up of different breakfasts classics, but the rosti at Trestle was neat and composed. When it first came out, it was perfectly circular with the fried eggs hiding everything neatly underneath, but when I gently lifted the eggs (so as to not burst the yolk, duh), there was delicious mess of sausage and gooey, melted cheese, all on a bed of bacon-onion potato hash (aka rosti).

Pizokel… Swiss for cheesey mountain of awesomeness

Finally, Holly and I split a plate of the gratinéed pizokel, which also came highly recommended. If you’re wondering what pizokel is, you should know that I had no idea what it was either, but I was sold when I read that it had caramelized onions and gruyère. What more did I really need to know? It turned out to be just as good as I had hoped, with pizokel being doughy, wormy shaped dumpling-like twists, all under a thick blanket of thick, golden gruyere and sweet caramelized onions. After everything else we’d eaten, the pizokel were too much for us and I ended up eating just a couple of bites and taking the rest home. But even hours later, when I ate it cold and straight out of the take out box it was in, the pizokel were delicious.

The whole thing made me want to book a ticket to Switzerland, where I could sit in a cozy Swiss chalet eating my weight in cheese, chocolate and rosti… until I resembled one of those big, beautiful cows of theirs.

Trestle on Tenth on Urbanspoon

Grilled cheese daydreams

It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog front. I last left those of you that care and drop in ocassionally with a post about me stuffing my face full of pie. (Feel free to re-read below.) Shortly after that, possibly as I was digesting said pie, I realized that while I always feel like I could shed a few pounds (who doesn’t?), as of lately I really have been feeling like a monstrosity of a whale. No, really. A giant, fat, pie-scarffing whale.

So for about the past week or so, I’ve been on the teeny tiniest bit of a diet. I know, so lame. But it’s actually not that bad. I’m just trying to get some good habits going in regards to my eating and maybe cut back on the sweets. (It kills me just to say that, so you know.)

But on this so-called “diet” (ugh, what a dirty icky word), I get a couple of  breaks from the healthy world and during those moments of freedom I like to dive head first into the world of delicious, gluttonous and reckless abandon. Enter The Queens Kickshaw.

I’ve been harrassing my friend Daphne about going with me to the Queens Kickshaw for monts, since they’re both in Astoria, and last week, during one of my eat-whatever-and-however-I-want meals, we finally did it. We went and had ourselves some mighty fine grilled cheese sandwiches, which are what the Queens Kickshaw specializes in.

Egg & cheese sandwich... why can't there be a diet based on this guy?

They had a classic mozzarella and cheddar version (complete with the requisite tomato soup) and some mouth-watering (no really, like a slobbering dog) sandwiches with cheeses like manchego, gruyere and fontina and other ingredients including avocado, anchovies and mushrooms.

But when I saw egg and cheese as an option, I was sold because, really, it’s practically impossible to go wrong with such a delicious marriage of foods as eggs and cheese. It’s just always awesome. Always. But this wasn’t your average corner store $2 egg and cheese sandwich that you eat when you’re hungover and on the way to work. No no. This was creamy ricotta, gruyere, egg, thyme and a sweet, slightly spicy maple hot sauce, all between soft, warm brioche.

Let me tell you, people, there’s nothing that will make you hate a diet more than the mere thought of a grilled cheese sandwich like that. I want to take ten of those sandwiches, stack them one on top of the other, unhinge my jaw like a python, and eat the whole cheesy, eggy mess.  And it would be glorious.

Until the next break from healthy eating, I’ll continue daydreaming about a world where I could be rail thin and still eat grilled cheese and egg sandwiches all day long. Sigh. A girl can dream.

It’s always a good time for burgers

You know how you have to be in a certain mood to eat sushi? Or a hearty plate of meatloaf? Or a tuna wrap from the deli? (Yes, I do sometimes actually want one of those, the kind that are a little goopy and squishy. Don’t judge me.)

Well, burgers, in my opinion, unlike all of those other foods and so many others, are something I could eat any ol’ time, no matter the weather, time of day, season, or physical state I’m in. (Hungover? Yes. Sick with a cold? Yes. Strong like bull? Two please.)

So when I was in Miami looking for a place to eat dinner with my mom, sister and boyfriend, and my best friend (who was also joining us) suggested LoKal, a new Coconut Grove burger joint and craft beer watering hole, I was all about it. Burgers aaaaand beer? DONE.

Now I can add reptile to my list of meats eaten after these tasty fried alligator strips

 To start things off right, and maybe in honor of my being back in the Sunshine State, we ordered a plate of something quintessentially Floridian that I had actually never eaten: alligator. Fat, juicy strips of tender white alligator meat were battered, fried and seasoned with Old Bay, and served with a tangy marinara sauce and spicy mayo. So did they taste like chicken? Yea, kind of. Were they good? Absolutely.

She may not be the prettiest burger, but the Frita makes up for it in pure guava-cheesey-bacon goodness!

The burgers all sounded good, if not completely over the top, with toppings like chili, tons of bacon, blue cheese and one that even came served on a doughnut. I’m a bit of an over-the-top eater myself, so I went with the Frita: a juicy, medium-rare (cause that’s how I roll) patty topped with guava jelly, bacon, crunchy potato sticks, and gruyère. At first I was a little sad because I couldn’t taste the guava, and really that’s what sold me on it, but a couple of bites in I got to it and all was forgiven. The jammy sweetness of the guava, mixed in with the salty crunch of the bacon, the crispy potato bits and the gooey, melted cheese all over that juicy, soft patty made for near perfect deliciousness!  And to make matters even better, LoKal’s patties, ground fresh in-house, are made from free-range, grass fed, hormone free cows, all of which makes me feel much better about the 5 million calories I ingested. Oh and instead of making me choose between regular and sweet potato fries, I was able to do 50/50… at NO ADDITIONAL COST. Can you believe it? All for just $11! In New York, that would’ve been pushing $20.

Key Lime pie, the best dessert to come out of Florida

In keeping with the Florida fat-kid theme, I went with the one thing I absolutelyhaveto have whenever I’m in town, key lime pie. LoKal’s was a huge slice of creamy, cool, zesty lime custard on a crunchy graham cracker crust topped with a fluffy mountain of fresh whipped cream and graham cracker crumbles. It had the all the rights amount of sweet, tart, tangy and creamy that make it one of my favorites. It was the perfect way to end a really affordable, easy and just damn-good burger outing. And really, I’m always in the mood for one of those.

LoKal Burgers & Beer on Urbanspoon

Finding The One

Since moving to the West Village last December, I’ve felt a little like Goldilocks in The Story of the Three Bears. Instead of a bed though, I’ve been looking for a place to make my neighborhood go-to, my spot if you will.

I’ve tried coffee shops, wine bars, and all sorts of eateries, from greasy Chinese take-out to homey Italian to sushi directly below our apartment and yet nothing’s felt exactly right.

That is, until Buvette, which might just be the one, the one that’s cute and charming, has good food, wine and coffee, and feels right whether I’m alone at the bar with a book or at a small corner table with the beau.

Snuggled in to a small space on Grove Street, Buvette is a casual eatery that feels like something you might find in a picturesque Parisian neighborhood. The food has a decidedly French slant with Italian notes here and there, like the Campari spiked lemonade or the selection of Italian wines. From the times I’ve been there, here are my favorites:

Pomodorini tartine

On my first visit I had this tartine, which I’ll admit I didn’t think would be more than a snack, but ended up being  pretty filling and a great lunch. On top of the crunchy toasted bread were creamy blobs of mozzarella, juicy, tart sun-dried tomatoes, soft, purplish-colored olives and a crisp, almost bitter green mixed in.

Spoon bread

For dessert on that first time, I followed up with the spoon bread, if for no other reason than because I had no idea what spoon bread was. It turned out to be a delicious carrot cake-like dessert, served with in a rammekin and topped with a small mountain of a thick, rich, cream cheese frosting.

Croque Madame

On my most recent visit, I had the ridiculously good Croque Madame, a neat little stack of  crunchy toast topped with a fried egg, buttery ribbons of prosciutto and a sprinkling of parmesan. When I poked the fat, orange center of the egg peeking out from underneath the ham, it erupted with runny yolk oozing over everything. My mouth is watering as I type this. Torture, I tell you, torture.

Croque Forestier

Flaneur, who I couldn’t wait to take to Buvette, had the Croque Forestiere, a mini tower of pieces of toast smothered in gruyere and mushrooms, browned to a warm, golden crust. This would be amazing for breakfast, lunch or dinner… or even all of them all in one day.

Chocolate mousse

Finally, because my sweet tooth always has to have the last word, we split the chocolate mousse, a seemingly shapeless, fat scoop of chocolate mousse with an equally haphazard but generous dollop of whipped cream. It might not have looked like much, but man, was it good. The chocolate was not as airy as other mousse desserts I’ve had but instead was thicker, richer, the perfect dessert to share. The whipped cream, which tasted home made, was only subtle in its sweetness, perfect for the chocolate to shine through in all its delicious glory.

I’ve been there a couple of times now and every time I go, I start thinking about when I can go back again. I want to spend whole afternoons there in my new spot, washing down croques with fresh lemonade, letting the day slip into night while I sit snug as Goldilocks taking a nap in a bear’s bed.

Buvette on Urbanspoon

8 million burgers and Five Napkins

In this city of eight million stories, there seems to be a burger for each one. I could make it my life’s ambition to try every burger in New York and I’d fail miserably.

There are places though, that when you mention to people that you haven’t been, their eyes get all wide and their jaws drop.

“Oh, what?” they say in disbelief, “You haven’t been to <insert burger name here>? Well. You just have to go.”

Five Napkin Burger was one of those places. I just hadn’t been to it before. I’d heard all the ooh’s and ahh’s but I just hadn’t made my way there yet. But then recently, I went, and now I’ve become one of those people .

The Original 5Napkin Burger and Tuscan fries

What? You haven’t been? Well, let me tell you. Get yourself there fast. Continue reading

Instead of Jack-o’-lanterns

More than any other season, fall is my favorite time of year. Lots of awesome things happen in the fall: the stifling heat of summer dissipates, I celebrate my birthday, and my boyfriend’s, Halloween, post-Halloween candy sales, the leaves turn colors, Thanksgiving, and the electricity bill goes down. But my favorite part about autumn is, not surprisingly, one of the edible parts: pumpkins!

In the last month or so I’ve been on a pumpkin binge. Pumpkin ale, pumpkin scones, pumpkin butter, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin spiced lattes. If it’s got pumpkin as an ingredient, I want it. Which is why when someone back in San Francisco told me about a delicious recipe for soup made in a pumpkin, I made a mental note to make it as soon as I could in New York.

The main ingredients

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Say cheese!

Immortal Milk by Eric LeMay

For the past couple of weeks all I’ve wanted to eat is cheese. Just huge chunks, wedges, slices, globs of it. While I always love cheese, the reason I’ve been craving it like a crackhead as of lately is because of the book I just finished. Immortal Milk, by Eric LeMay is all about cheese, but not in a boring  reference book kind of way. You wouldn’t read Immortal Milk to look up what makes Gorgonzola so funky or cheddar so orange. You’d read it, like I did, to follow someone else’s adventures, explorations, musings about cheese.

Immortal Milk is at times funny, educational, entertaining, and throughout, appetizing. Reading it before bed inevitably made me get up and rummage through the fridge, hoping to find some hunk of pecorino or Gouda or Camembert that I knew damn well I didn’t have, but oh hey, will you look at that, was somehow just magically there. (Note: no such luck. Never any magic cheese.)

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