Aimless strolls and jackpot finds

IMG_8414

What a find!

I think my roommate secretly hates going to the supermarket with me. On the rare occasions when we do go together, she knows exactly what she wants, grabs it, pays and is outside texting me that she’ll meet me back at home, all before I’ve dropped even a single item into my basket.

Even when I have a list, or I’m at Trader Joes in Union Square having homicidal thoughts, or I’m tired, hungry, or wearing sweaty gym clothes, I can’t help but wander aimlessly, roaming, perusing the aisles for something to move me.

Sometimes I’ll just stand in front of the freezer section, half daydreaming, half scanning the rows of pizzas, TV dinners, and ice cream. Ah the ice cream, always and forever the ice cream.

I was doing exactly that recently, standing before a freezer at Target, looking for nothing in particular but everything at once, when I saw it: TWINKIES ICE CREAM.

IMG_8415

It broke but it was good to the very bottom!

That cute little Twinkie in a cowboy hat and boots reached out with one of his tiny gloved hands and said, “C’mon Ang, let’s go home.”

And we sure as hell did cause you know what? I. LOVE. TWINKIES. I don’t care if people think they’re gross, or weird, or capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust. I love ’em. They’ve got a cute name, adorable little spongy shapes, tasty cream fillings, and just the right blend of kitsch and nostalgia to make me feel the warm and fuzzies.

Twinkie cones are chocolate lined, filled with a vanilla-y, sweet cream type, Twinkie flavored ice cream and topped with fluffy bits of golden sponge cake on frothy whip cream, not unlike the stuff inside a real Twinkie.

Only thing better than a walk down the memory lane of sweet childhood treats, is—as the Twinkies cone proves—one of my meandering strolls down the frozen foods aisle.

Eggnog makes it better

Not only was I leaving the side hustle where I’d spent all morning to trek all the way uptown to my real job, but the weather was of the miserable variety best enjoyed in bed—dreary, chilly, raining—when I passed the colorful window of Big Gay Ice Cream‘s West Village shop.

C’mon, you know how this ends. There was no way I wasn’t going in.

img_6758

It’s eggnog season, kids!

And dammit, I was SO happy I did, because in addition to their usual assortment of awesome, their flavor of the day was… drumroll please… EGGNOG. (I did cartwheels and celebratory dances in my head.)

I love the stuff, regardless of how fattening or sugary it is, and can’t get enough of it during the holiday season (which thank God we are fully in right now.) Big Gay’s was almost mousse-like in it’s fluffy, light texture while simultaneously having the thick, creamy sweetness of a good, classic eggnog.

Even though my new shoes got wet, my hair frizzed, and the rain backed up all the trains and made me late to work, I wasn’t too concerned, not with one of my favorite holiday treats in soft serve form in hand.

Nostalgia flavored dessert

Many moons ago, when I lived in Italy and had a boyfriend, (boy, those were different times!)  he and his friends used to regularly host dinner parties where everyone would pitch in and do their part: prepping, cooking, pouring wine, cleaning afterward.

image

Coke float in soft serve form.

One summer night, when it was hotter than the innermost circles of Dante’s inferno, and we had decided to eat outside, I suggested we make Coke floats for dessert.

No sooner had I announced my idea than I was met with a mix of blank stares and looks of horror. “Un’ americanata!” said one of my then boyfriend’s more gluttonous friends, a guy who refused to drink water and subsisted off soda and fruit juice instead, suggesting that the concept of mixing Coke with vanilla ice cream was so outrageous that only a fat American could’ve come up with it.

What happened next should come as a surprise to no one: I made them, they loved them. Point for America.

Coke floats are something I’ve loved since I was a kid. My sister and I would find the tallest glasses in the cupboard, toss in a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and then pour fizzy, cold Coke (we were never Pepsi girls) over the ice cream, watching the creamy, cola colored foam rise up to the top, frothy and delicious.

So during my sister’s recent visit, even though we were full from brunch, we had to stop at Momofuku Milk Bar whose sign outside said four magic words: Coke float soft serve.

Anyone who’s ever had Milk Bar’s famous cereal milk soft serve knows that’s unmistakably what it tastes like. With this new coke float flavor, chef, founder and Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi, absolutely did it again. Closing my eyes, I could swear I was back in my childhood kitchen slurping a float with my sister or sitting on that sun-baked terrace outside of Florence, enjoying not just the frosty dessert drink but the pleasure of proving an Italian wrong.

Burrata brilliance

Let’s just get right into it cause every moment you spend reading about anything other than BURRATA SOFT SERVE is a moment of your life that you are not living right.

image

Burrata in a whole new delicious form.

Slight exaggeration? Yea, maybe, but let’s go back to that and repeat after me: burrata soft serve. Cue the clouds parting and a choir of angels singing and blowing their trumpets and the one playing the harp actually busting strings, cause again: burrata soft serve.

On the off chance you don’t know what burrata is, it’s a milky, semi-soft Italian cheese, kind of like mozzarella’s slightly sexier, cooler cousin. It’s actually made from mozzarella, but it’s creamier and more spreadable on the inside. If you don’t have lactose allergies and have functioning taste buds, you know how awesome burrata is.

It’s completely wonderful on it’s own but at Dominique Ansel Kitchen you can revel in its deliciousness in an untraditional form: soft serve ice cream. Piled high into a beautiful swirl of creamy goodness with just a subtle hint of tanginess in place of a more common vanilla base flavor, but not as sour as plain yogurt, the soft serve comes in a thick, not too crunchy but almost cookie like cone, delicately drizzled with balsamic caramel and sprinkled with little sprigs of microbasil. I wasn’t sure whether the teeny basil leaves were decorative or not but I ate them with my big mouthfuls of creamy, cold soft serve and they were delicious, bright and peppery.

image

I don’t normally like surprises, but strawberry confit? I’ll take that any day!

But then, just as I approached the bottom of the cone, that sweet container of the final remnants of ice cream, I was hit with one last surprise: strawberry confit. Several juicy, plump, roasted strawberries just sitting in their milky, sweet soft serve. It was like an encore at an already awesome concert or an after-the-credits hidden scene after a great movie.

Cause if you ask me, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to ice cream. Just keep it coming. I’m looking at you, burrata soft serve.

Hot drinks meet cold treats

I promise I’ll eventually stop bitching about the weather, probably some day in  late October when I’m wearing a knit sweater and booties and my hair doesn’t look like one of my parents was a Brillo pad. Today is not that day.

Really though, it rained this morning and now it feels like a tropical jungle (hello, zika!) outside and the very inner rings of hell in my windowless, non air conditioned bathroom. (Ever try blow drying your hair in those conditions?)

The good thing about these muggy times though, is that I don’t feel even an ounce of guilt over my mass consumption of ice cream, and this weekend I got my hands on some that incorporates another thing I love: hot, boozy drinks.

image

One of my favorite hot drinks… Now in ice cream form

Hot drinks, cold ice cream, one delicious treat… what a time to be alive, right? Tipsy Scoop ice creams are liquor infused with flavors like chocolate stout, strawberry white sangria, and one of my all time favorite cold-weather indulgences: hot buttered rum.

Creamy, cold, and with just a hint of rum swirled in with the buttery, caramely flavor, I meant to eat about half the tub, and then just plowed through till I hit the bottom. (Bottom of the container, not any sort of personal “rock bottom.” No qualms here with eating a whole pint alone.) My only concern with this ice cream was that it was a bit on the soft side when I would have liked it to be a touch firmer. Then again, I did take it on a 15-minute train ride.

And with the temperatures down there, it’s a wonder I didn’t melt into a puddle myself.

Hot and (wander)lusty

I think the fact that I made it to work today without cursing at anyone, without shoving a single woman, man or child (oooh, especially child) and without bursting into hot tears of pure aggravation should earn me a prize. That prize, for the record, should at the very least be ice cream.

image

Thai iced tea ice cream, brief respite for the hot and wanderlusty

How, in this horrible, sticky, suffocating, swampy and oppressive summer heat, does anyone do anything that doesn’t involve just eating ice cream?

I long to be at the beach right now, under an umbrella eating ice cream. Acceptable alternatives include frozen beverages, cold beers, and basically anything that has either been in the freezer or contains ice.

Furthermore, as is always the case, I’d like for said hypothetical daydream beach to be somewhere far and exotic. Cause you know what else I feel during these trying summer times? Wander-freakin’-lust, man. I wanna go and I wanna go far.

But I just started a new job (eeep!) and I’m low on travel funds (booo!) and I have fun stuff that’s gonna drain my bank account planned for fall (hooray fun!)  so I can’t really go anywhere right this moment. What I can do though, is eat ALL the ice cream such as the above pictured, recently Hoovered, creamy, spicy deliciousness that is Thai ice tea ice cream from Odd Fellows, in addition to drinking all the drinks, (alcoholic and non, just as long as they’re frosty cold) and continuing to daydream the hot days away.

 

 

Sweet summer lovin’

I’ve hated summer my whole life, dreading its arrival each year and distrusting everything about it, but over the last couple of years, be it cause I’m getting older and wiser or just having better summers, I’ve started to change my tune.

While I still hate, hate, haaaate the heat, the rest of summer isn’t so bad anymore. I like the energy and vibrancy, the feeling of something fun always being just around the corner, the spontaneity in the air, the relief of a cold drink, impromptu picnics, last minute rooftop gatherings, new friends, new loves, new opportunities.

I was walking down east Houston in the Lower East Side, mid conversation with a visiting friend, when we passed Russ & Daughters and a sign in the window that caught my eye: babka ice cream sandwiches! We were on our way to lunch somewhere else but just like that, something new had been thrown into the afternoon’s plans, and after a late lunch a few blocks away, we doubled back for dessert on the bench outside the iconic shop.

Babka and ice cream are having a summer fling and I love it.

Babka and ice cream are having a summer fling and I love it.

A friend introduced me to babka a few years ago and I’ve been a fan of the traditionally jewish loaf-like cake ever since. Sometimes cinnamon, sometimes chocolate, I love the flavored ribbons swirled throughout, making it delicious and fun to pull apart and gobble. And ice cream? Well, ours is a life long love affair.

Russ & Daughters not only used the babka, cut into circular pieces, as the top and bottom of this dessert sandwich, but also in the creamy, cinnamoney ice cream in between. Wrapped up in the same wax paper used for smoked salmon or pickled herring, the babka ice cream sandwich had all the old school charm of this famed NYC institution and a fun, new take on a classic treat.

Like so much of summer it seems, it was unexpected and sweet, a welcome break from the heat, and another fond memory stored away.