Fat me and The Fat Elvis

Sometimes, when I’m bad, I’m really bad. And when a trusted source recommended I try The Fat Elvis burger at Atlanta’s Vortex Bar and Grill a towering behemoth of a burger topped with peanut butter, bacon and fried bananas I knew it was time to throw caution to the wind and be very freakin’ bad.

The Fat Elvis

The Fat Elvis

The Fat Elvis, ever so appropriately named after the King in his later years when he was known to wolf down peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches, is as serious as the heart attack it’ll cause you if you eat too many in one lifetime. It’s a massive beast, definitely not for the faint of heart and certainly not for anyone with a delicate stomach. My sister seemed mildly disgusted by the idea and and when it showed up at our table, on a plate filled with tater tots (Cause what, was I supposed to get a salad to go with it?) she just looked appalled.

You have to bring your A game when ordering this bad boy.

You have to bring your A game when ordering this bad boy.

Sandwiched between two doughy, soft buns was a big ol’ hunk, a hunk of juicy beef (See what I did there?) cooked to just the most perfect tender pinkness, smeared thick with a melty, creamy peanut butter, deliciously soft, sweet fried bananas, and everyone’s favorite: thick, wavy, glistening strips of bacon. Clearly, there was no neat, civilized way to eat this thing. It oozed peanut butter out one end and all sorts of juices out the other. It was messy and obscene, a crazy mix of flavors and textures, and absolutely delicious in all the worst ways.

Will the Fat Elvis be filed under sensible meals or healthy living options? Nope, not ever. But like so many things that are bad for you, it was damn good.

Side note: in case you were wondering, my sister ordered a burger topped with a heap of blue cheese spread, which isn’t something I’m totally crazy about so no, there are no pictures. My attention was completely devoted to The Fat Elvis. Nothing else.

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Happy anniversary to me!

What do they say, time flies when you’re stuffing your face? No, that’s not what they say? Well, that’s what I say cause that’s certainly how time’s gone by for me, flying by in a woosh of delicious food over the last four years.

Today, you see, marks the day four years ago that I showed up in New York with two suitcases and not a damn clue where my life was going or what adventures lay in store for me.

Ice cream cake makes all celebrating that much better!

Ice cream cake makes all celebrating that much better!

In the past four years I’ve lived in four different apartments (six if you count two stints on friends couches) and had three different jobs. I’ve dealt with two hurricanes and a small earthquake. I’ve had my heart broken to pieces, cried in public (a New York rite of passage) and then moved on. I’ve made new friends and reconnected with old ones, and realized that a few of both will be around forever. I’ve met Jay-Z and told the story maybe a thousand times, and will one day tell my kids too so they know I’m cool. I’ve lived four years and at the same time four whole lifetimes.

And as documented on this little blog of mine, I’ve eaten some of the best food around.

The whole thing’s been crazy. No really, it’s been simultaneously challenging, ridiculous, hilarious, exhausting, rejuvenating, frustrating and the best time ever.

To celebrate, it only seemed right to go with ice cream cake, always near and dear to my heart, from one of my favorite New York spots, Parm. A fat wedge of peanut butter, banana and raspberry ice cream cake on a bed of crumbly, crunchy chocolate, with a small strip of bacon plopped on top, Parm’s Elvis ice cream cake was the dessert version of my New York experience thus far: overpriced and perhaps over the top, but fun, delicious and unlike anything of its kind.

I’ll eventually leave this city one day but until then I hope to keep adding great memories and incredible eats to my New York City days.

Muffin gamechanger

While it might appear to be a regular ol' muffin, this is anything but...

While it might appear to be a regular ol’ muffin, this is anything but…

When it comes to baked goods, muffins aren’t usually something I rave about. I mean, I’ve obviously had good muffins before (lemon poppyseed at Blue Hill Cafe, I’m looking at you) but I never really crave a muffin when I could have a cookie or a brownie or a buttery croissant. Muffins are always just… ok. They never go above and beyond for me.

That is, until now. Until Saturday morning to be exact, when my lips met the oh-so-sweet, ridiculously good peanut butter and jelly muffin at Ovenly in Greenpoint. There were all manner of cookies, brownies, scones and goodies but at the suggestion of the girl working behind the counter, I went with this particular muffin and boy, did it pay off.

Behold, peanut butter and jelly deliciousness... now in muffin form!

Behold, peanut butter and jelly deliciousness… now in muffin form!

Soft and moist like no other muffin I’ve ever bit into, this one had an almost sparkly dusting of what tasted like cinnamon and brown sugar on top, with thin slices of almond for a subtle nutty note. Inside though, is where the magic happened: a gooey core of sweet peanut butter and jammy, ruby colored jelly. De-freakin’-licious. But unlike certain jelly doughnuts where you beeline straight for the filling and the rest is just an afterthought, this muffin was delicious throughout, perfectly sweet and cinnamony.

I’ll be back to try some other sweets and snacks at Ovenly, and until then I’ll be doing something I never have before, daydreaming about a muffin, their perfect peanut butter and jelly muffin.

Getting figgy with it

The Figgy Elvis. Thank you Murray's. Thank you very much.

It was my day off, and with temperatures outside sizzling in the upper 90s, my only plan for the day was to hang out in my PJs in the comfort of my apartment, AC blasting, music blaring, no plans of venturing into the outside world.

It was a damn fine plan too, until I checked Twitter. That’s when I read a Tweet from Murray’s Cheese Shop advertising their special melt of the day, the Figgy Elvis. As I read the ingredients, my thinking went a little like this:

Crunchy peanut butter (yumm), bacon (double yum), mascarpone (oh heck yea, now we’re talking), and fig spread (that’s it, SOLD). Alright, where are my shoes?

I threw some clothes on and bolted out the door and down Bleecker Street to Murray’s, which thankfully is only about a 10-minute walk away. After popping in, ordering and then beelining back, I was once again home, this time in the sweet company of my new lunch, the Figgy Elvis.

It might not be pretty, but it sure made up for it in deliciousness.

Now, I’ve had sandwiches that combine peanut butter and bacon before, but this was nothing like that. Instead of being a dry, tongue-sticking-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth jumble, the Figgy Elvis was creamy and smooth thanks to the velvety softness of the fluffy mascarpone cheese. The fig jam, rich and fruity, was the perfect amount of smooth and sweet to play off the salty crunch of the perfectly cooked bacon (perfect bacon, in my book, is crispy, not chewy).

I love every ingredient in this sandwich but it’s not every day that I eat them all together. But the Figgy Elvis?  I could eat that one every single day it was so good, even on my days off when I want to just hole up in my apartment.

Fit for a King

The Elvis

I don’t know how many people this happens to, but recently while sitting at work trying to get through the day, I was struck by a random craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I know what you’re thinking: who not currently enrolled in elementary school has these cravings? Well, me, that’s who.

So I made a date with the boyfriend to meet at Peanut Butter & Co. for lunch to get my peanut butter fix. I’d been to PB& Co. before and knew that they had not only all manner of sandwich featuring peanut butter but all manner of peanut butter, some with swirls of dark chocolate, others flecked with raisins and cinnamon, some sweetened by the taste of maple syrup. Continue reading

Sandwich and chips… in bar form

I wasn’t specifically looking for something to continue last week’s over-the-top sugar rush supermarket finds, but that’s just kind of what happened while I was waiting in line at Trader Joe’s this weekend. There I was, minding my business, patiently waiting while the lady in front of me slowly unloaded the entire contents of the Trader Joe’s produce section out of her shopping cart, when I saw it sitting on a shelf in the checkout lane: PB & J Bar.

The name, the bright colors, the contents... I was sold.

Say whaaat? I love peanut butter and jelly. What is this about a bar?

I picked up the bright magenta box and examined it, turning it over in my hand to see what was in this crazy thing.

“PB & J are sandwiched between milk and dark chocolate then sprinkled with potato chips,” the box told me.Holy mother of candy bars…”Potato chips? Yes, crisp delicious potato chips,” continued the box, answering my thoughts. “This means you have it all— sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. Lucky you.”

Lucky me indeed, I thought, throwing it in my basket.

I didn’t even wait till i got home. The weather was sunny and warm (for a change—it’s been unseasonably cold here in San Francisco) so I just ripped into it while I walked. It was a pretty plain looking dark chocolate bar and even when I bit into it, all of the ingredients (peanut butter, raspberry jam, potato chips and milk chocolate) all kind of looked like they had been through a blender. It wasn’t until I really chewed the PB & J bar that I could make out the individual flavors—the fruity tartness of the raspberry, the subtle bitterness of the dark chocolate, the hint of saltiness from the chips. It was interesting but not as crazy as the packaging might suggest. And the salty part, which is what really makes this bar unique, wasn’t as pronounced as I would have liked. Had I not known the potato chips were ground in there, I probably wouldn’t of suspected anything.

All in all, not bad. But I think I’ll stick to regular ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (sans potato chips) instead of the condensed bar form.

Only in America

Trifecta of tastiness

My boyfriend just came back from spending two weeks in the motherland (Italy) and I wanted to make sure that his return to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave was great so he felt happy to be back. And nothing says Welcome-to-America like a juicy hamburger topped with bacon and smothered in peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. On a burger. With bacon. Continue reading

A sweet cure for the blizzard blues

The snow is coming down today in gusty swirls of white, and while all the kiddies in New York get the day off from school, here I am at the office, forlornly staring out the window. So, why am I blogging and not working, you ask? Well, this weather, like rain, just doesn’t motivate me.

The office is quiet, and many of the people who commute from out of the city are working from home this morning. But I live a 10-minute walk away, so here I am. Instead, I want to be curled up in bed with a book, or my boyfriend, or even better, a plate of chocolate and peanut butter squares.

Eating just one really is almost impossible

Using Katie’s recipe (see “A walk on the vegan side”), I put my ability to read and follow instructions to the test this past weekend. The result, as evident by the fact that not even crumbs remained two days letter, was pretty fantastic. Below is Katie’s recipe in all its easy-to-follow, no-baking-required, chocolate-and-peanut-buttery goodness glory. If I pulled it off, anyone can!

1 cup of peanut butter

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (about half a package)

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 oz.)

¼ cup of butter or margarine (4 tbsp.)

Fat chunk of crumbly deliciousness

Mix the first three ingredients in a bowl. Be ready for an intense arm workout, as peanut butter puts up a pretty good fight against being mixed.

Next, press the mix into an 8×8 pan. Using your hands works best, but to get it nice and flat, try the edge of a knife or the bottom of a glass.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double-boiler saucepan. If you don’t have one, do what I did and Google alternatives. Pour the melted chocolate-butter combo over the pressed peanut butter blend and smooth over entire surface.

Place in a cool place, like the fridge, and be patient while it hardens. If you’re like me, you may need to leave the house to avoid the temptation of running to the fridge 5 minutes after you’ve put them in.

Finally, enjoy your delicious chocolate-peanut butter squares! Personal suggestion: I found that these bad boys make a ridiculously delicious topping when crushed and sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.

And finally, it appears I’m not the only one with chocolate and peanut butter on the brain. Saveur had its own tasty and pretty -looking recipe for Valentine’s Day, worth checking out if luring a glutton’s heart is on your to-do list this weekend.

A walk on the vegan side

"I'll have one of everything, please. Make that two."

For me, being a vegan would be like being a nun. It’s a type of abstinence I just can’t commit to.

Sometimes, I think if I really had to, I could be a vegetarian. I wouldn’t be happy about giving up burgers, bacon or prosciutto, but if I really had to, I could do it. Veganism, though? Not a chance. A life without dairy? No ice cream? No cheese? No, thanks.

But hey, to each his own, right? If it works for you, then great, more power to you! However, just because I’d never fully adopt the vegan way of eating, doesn’t mean I’m not open to trying their food. I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded eater. (Except for bugs, which I am uncompromising on. I will never eat a bug. Ever. Not even if it’s dipped in chocolate.) So when my non-meat-or-dairy eating co-worker Katie invited me to a vegan bake sale benefiting Doctors Without Borders’ relief efforts in Haiti, I was happy to go.

Sure, it was for a good cause and I went to support a friend in her baking endeavor, but mostly, I went out of curiosity. When I think bake sales I think cookies, cupcakes, brownies. I think milk, eggs, butter. I think dairy, in all its glory!

So how would this work? What would they sell? Would I like anything? Would I offend anyone?

With Flaneur in tow, I set out to find answers to these burning questions of mine.

MooShoes, the Lower East Side store hosting the fundraiser, was the perfect setting. A vegan-owned shop with an array of “cruelty-free” shoes and accessories, this place is a hotspot in the vegan community. In addition to the many hemp, faux leather and synthetic material-made shoes and bags (think stylish and trendy, not grungy and hippie) they also boast an assortment of cookbooks, t-shirts, magazines and even stickers (“Save everything! Go vegan!”) promoting the vegan way.

In search of Katie, we strolled through the busy store, nudging our way around people as we checked out MooShoes’ merchandise and more importantly, the dozens of different homemade baked goods set out on tables and counters around the shop.

Just as yummy as they are cute.

I was amazed. They were all there! All my favorites: cookies, cupcakes, brownies plus muffins, cakes, truffles and so much more. Everything with neat, handwritten explanations of what they were and what ingredients were used. These vegans, I later learned when we found Katie, don’t mess around. Absolutely no dairy or animal products.

Eager to get our vegan grub on, we bee-lined to a goodies-covered table. Decision-making when faced with multiple sweets is not something I’m good at but after much deliberation, we chose to start off with a banana and chocolate chip muffin, a peanut butter and granola ball, a cocoa carob chip brownie bite, and a strawberry cheesecake truffle.

(Note: This was a shared plate. As much as I would’ve liked to eat all that, there was lots to try and I had to pace myself.)

Why hello there new friends!

Next, we hit up a new table and bought peanut butter cookies, a fat Neapolitan cupcake, and Katie’s own creation: chocolate and peanut butter squares.

At our third and final table, Flaneur, who’s not anywhere near the avid sweet-eater that I am, pooped out on me and waved the white flag. I love eating but hate doing it alone, so I picked one last vegan treat, a rocky road brownie, and asked for a brown paper bag to take it home in.

At first I doubted the vegan baked goods, but in the end was pleasantly surprised by how delicious they were. If I didn’t know they were sans eggs, milk and butter, I would’ve never guessed. The cupcake had smooth, creamy frosting, the chocolate chip banana muffin was sweet and moist, and the carob chip brownie chunk was rich and tasty.

Everything, with the exception of the brownie I took home, which apparently petrified on the way there, was great. And even though I usually have a hard time choosing favorites, Katie’s chocolate and peanut butter squares were without a doubt the best thing I had at the sale. Made with peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, honey-free graham crackers, semi-sweet chips and margarine, these little squares were ah-mazing. How she keeps from eating these at every meal is beyond me.

The only thing, in my gluttonous opinion, that could’ve made this experience any better would have been a tall glass of cold milk. But hey, that’s just me.