Back for s’more!

I really wish I had a good reason for why I’ve been away since April. But, uhm, you see, thing is, uhh… well, I’ve got nothing. Not a new flame, not a new job, no new passport stamps, nothing. I’ve been here, doin’ my thang, which apparently didn’t include this, and really, for no other reason than I just haven’t been motivated.

That happens, right? You get it.You didn’t even notice so really, it’s ok.

Dominique Ansel's frozen s'more

Dominique Ansel’s frozen s’more

Glad we sorted that out, then. But now, you see, now I’m back, because if there’s anyone who could bring me back to my humble little bloggity blog, it’s Dominique Ansel and his always-crazy-delicious bakery creations, the most recent to hit my mouth, the frozen s’more.

The frozen s’more is a hunk of vanilla custard ice cream, coated in chocolate, all inside a fat marshmallow coating of deliciousness that then gets the blow torch treatment to oh-so-perfectly char and caramelize the outside. It’s even served on a long wooden stick (alla campfire marshmallows) for extra fun eating. You bite into this thing and the outside is warm and gooey while the inside oozes chocolate and the very core of it retains the creamy, cold ice cream.

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Gooey greatness

I never really thought s’mores were something that needed to be improved but dammit if DA didn’t go and do exactly that. They already had the great blend of textures and flavors going on for them and now he went and added a cool, creamy center? Mind. Blown. And perfect for these muggy summer days (when my brain basically shuts down anyway)!

Come think of it, maybe the occasional frozen s’more is what I need to get the creative juices flowing…

The magic of hype

Dominique Ansel's Magic Souffle

Dominique Ansel’s Magic Souffle

The moment I read that Dominique Ansel, the evil genius behind the now infamous Cronut, had come up with something new called the Magic Soufflé, I immediately got to plotting when and how I’d get my hands on one.

When Cronuts first came out, I didn’t want to believe all the hype, but as soon as I had one I fell under their spell just as fast and hard as all the other Cronut zombies out there. (And let me tell you, New York is crawling with these pastry loving fiends. They will shank you if they think you have a Cronut, so watch yourself.) Suspecting we might have another pastry craze on our hands with the Magic Soufflé I wanted to cast my vote early, before things got crazy.

Earlier this week, I moseyed over to Dominique Ansel Bakery, making sure to get there before noon (because they’re apparently already gone by then), and ordered a Magic Soufflé. Inside a cute little red and white striped open box, reminiscent of an old school popcorn box, was the rectangular Magic Soufflé, golden brown with a white star of powdered sugar on top. But even better than the pretty packaging was the fresh-out-of-the-oven smell of warm pastry dough, sugar and chocolate wafting out.

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Mmmmmm warm chocolate souffle.

The Magic Soufflé’s outer layer is a buttery, golden, orange blossom brioche, brushed with Grand Marnier caramel, but the real magic, the chocolate soufflé part, is inside, warm and soft and almost melty at its core.

So what do I think? It was pretty good, but not magical good, and certainly not $7 good. Even the Cronut doesn’t cost that much and it’s waaay better.  I guess I’ve just never been one for magic.

The Cronut

Behold, the Cronut

Behold, the Cronut

Let’s cut right to the chase: the Cronut is awesome.

I didn’t wanna say it. I didn’t wanna like it.  I wanted to think New Yorkers were silly and obsessive, constantly looking for an excuse to spend hours in line waiting for something. I wanted all the hype to be just a bunch of hot air.

But it wasn’t, New Yorkers are actually on to something this time, the hype is deserved, and the Cronut is, in fact, awesome.

I showed up at 7:30am on a Sunday morning when Dominique Ansel Bakery doesn’t even open till 9, and there were already about 50 to 75 people ahead of me in line, some sprawled out on picnic blankets, others sitting in camping chairs like they were at a tailgate. I stood on the sidewalk, checked Facebook and Instagram a few hundred times, finished my book, had a lenghty phone conversation with my sister, and finally, after two hours, walked away with a shiny gold take out box, two Cronuts (the max you can buy) waiting inside.

I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket to the Wonka Chocolate Factory.

I felt like Charlie with the golden ticket to the Wonka Chocolate Factory.

On first inspection, they were pretty, definitely winning full points for presentation. Plump and round, like the part doughnut that they are, they were also sparkly with a dusting of sugar and topped with a creamy layer of purply-pink frosting on top for the flavor of the month, blackberry lime.

The Cronut, what a beaut!

The Cronut, what a beaut!

But it was the moment that I actually bit into it that I was completely won over by the Cronut. With sugar immediately clinging to my lips, chin and fingers, I chomped into the still slightly-warm-from-the-oven Cronut and was met not only with layers of soft, buttery pastry but an amazing burst of rich blackberry jam and a thick, custardy cream filling. It wasn’t just a wimpy little bit way in the back either. No, no, this delicious jammy-creamy combo oozed out of every bite, making each bite an amazing one.

A sticky, creamy, jammy wonderfully delicious mess I made

A sticky, creamy, jammy wonderfully delicious mess I made

If you’re wondering whether I ate both Cronuts I bought, the answer is yes, you bet your ass I did. I’m single and my roommate is out of town. No one else but me was getting their grubby fingers on my Cronuts. And after wolfing them both down, I am totally and completely on board the Cronut fan bandwagon. Those bad boys are awesome.

A chickenless, pieless chicken pot pie… and it’s awesome

It always happens that when I’m either wolfing down a messy veal sausage and fried egg sandwich or shoveling mac and cheese into my mouth or throwing back chunks of fried pork belly like they’re gulps of fresh air, I think two things:

1.  Yup, it’s confirmed, I could ABSOLUTELY never be a vegan.

2. Ugh, why can’t I eat this every single day? (Quickly followed by, “Oh, right, cause I would be a mountain of lard.”)

The “chicken” pot pie wrap at ‘sNice… my new favorite

But then recently, something awesome happened: I discovered the “chicken” pot pie wrap from ‘sNice, where I often order lunch when I’m at work. Let me explain, not only was this wrap the best thing I’ve eaten there (and ask my coworkers, I’ve pretty much had all of their sandwiches) but because of the quotation marks around the word chicken, this bad boy was VEGAN! A vegan “chicken” pot pie wrap! You know what that means? It’s a giant green light to eat one whenever I feel like it… with no remorse! One week I had it four days in a row. In fact, I order them so often that one time the nice folks at the ‘sNice on Sullivan actually threw in free muffins. (“Because you order all the time,” said the delivery boy.)

You're looking at serious fake chicken pot pie deliciousness here.

You’re looking at serious fake chicken pot pie deliciousness here.

But really, not only are there no animal products in this bad boy (which again, takes away about a 100 percent of the guilt/fat factor) but it actually tastes good! It has the same creamy, saucy goodness of a regular pot pie, the same hearty chunks of potato, carrots and peas, and even the fake “chicken” (which I assume is tofu) is tender and flavorful. But best of all, because it’s a wrap and therefore doesn’t have the traditional pie crust, the crust is insiiiiide of the wrap, just as good and crumbly and buttery (but remember, sans the butter!) as in a regular pot pie.

Last week, because I’ve been on a new salad kick at work, the first thing I did on my day off was to have a pot pie wrap from the West Village ‘sNice near my apartment. And just like the other dozen or so I’ve had, I hoovered it.

But because the pot pie is a winter special, it’s only a matter of time before ‘sNice pulls it from their menu. And when that day comes I’m going to have a total meltdown and cry like a baby. And let me tell you, it’s probably going to take a good amount of bacon to get me out of that funk.

Just the excuse I was looking for…

I routinely look for any excuse to not eat at home. We’re out of olive oil? Let’s just eat out.  We have friends in from out of town? Let’s just eat out. It’s Friday? Saturday? SundayMondayTuesday? Let’s just eat out!

But one of my more justified reasons for eating out is NYC Restaurant Week, because really how can you not take advantage of three courses over lunch for $25 or three courses at dinner for $35? I certainly can’t, not in these trying economic times.

So last week, Flaneur and I set out in the name of Restaurant Week for lunch at David Burke Kitchen at the James Hotel in SoHo. And let me tell you, dear reader whoever you are, I will be using one of my many bullshit excuses to eat there again soon, cause it was good.

Asparagus and burrata salad… not sure how something topped with a giant ball of cheese is “salad” but hey, I am NOT complaining

To start things off, I ordered the asparagus and burrata salad, which wasn’t so much a salad as it was a beautiful stack of watermelon, yellow tomato, prosciutto, asparagus and creamy, milky burrata, with some drizzles of olive oil and sauces and a few juicy cherry tomatoes. Packed with colorful flavors, everything was clean and bright and delicious. A larger portion of this would make an amazing entree.

Tuna tartare tacos, so pretty and so delicious

The boy on the other hand, ordered the tuna tartare tacos, which would’ve given me major food envy, had my appetizer not been so damn good itself. Three crunchy taco shells were filled to the top with buttery, smooth avocado and tuna tartare and then topped with tobiko (flying fish roe, so I learned). Not only was this great tasting, but the color of the tobiko was one of the most beautiful jewel tones I’ve ever seen. I wanted to eat it and wear it all at the same time.

Softshell crab BLT: a pretty good way to get over mistrust of creepy crustaceans

For my entree, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and ordered the softshell crab BLT. Not that I don’t enjoy crab but I usually don’t like eating shellfish that still resemble the insects-of-the-sea that they are. (Whole lobster? Negative. Freaks me out.) But when it came out— the small crab hanging out belly up with all his little creepy legs in the air, sitting on top of a stack of toasted bread, tomato, chipotle mayo, and thick bacon— I knew I’d be ok. I chomped into it and forgot I ever had a problem with creepy crustaceans in the first place. To go with it was a tasty basket of fried vegetable chips.

Black sea bass with baby shrimp and spinach

Flaneur, who’s allergic to shellfish, ordered the black sea bass, which he somehow didn’t realize (even though it was plainly written on the menu) came loaded up with baby shrimp. (Guess whose mouth those ended up in?) But even sans shrimp, the sea bass was good, plump and clean under a bed of spinach and tomato with olive oil swirls and a thick, spicy mustard sauce.

Drunken brownie with mint-chocolate ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce and chocolate cherry lollipop

And then, my favorite and yours (or possibly just mine), dessert. Being the choco-whore that I am, I went with the drunken brownie, a fat, warm brownie topped with mint-chocolate ice cream and a cherry-chocolate lollipop. But really the kicker was when the waiter poured hot bourbon caramel sauce all around it on my plate. For a split second I wanted to ask him to pour it straight into my mouth but that probably wasn’t very lady-like.

Individual pie oozing with fat blueberries

The boy went with the fresh blueberry tartlet topped with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. While I definitely loved mine more (chocolate fan through and through), the mountain of juicy, fat blueberries made this a pretty good second choice.

Thankfully, restaurant week is never just a week, so I might just have to go back there and check out dinner too. And if restaurant week is over, I’ll just have to pull out some other random excuse from my ever-full bag-o-BS excuses.

David Burke Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Two of my faves

Cheese shaped sticky notes! Awesome!

I’m one of those people who loves Post-it notes. Big ones, little ones, in all colors of the rainbow, and even the digital ones. I also happen to be one of those people who loves cheese. Soft, stinky, sharp, all of them. So when I saw this block of cheese-shaped sticky notes at the MoMA Store in SoHo I was immediately smitten. How great when things I love are combined to create new things I can love!

This would make a sweet stocking stuffer. Not that I’m dropping hints or anything…

Always room for more

I approach Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday and perhaps plain ol’ favorite day of the year, with a no-holds-barred mentality. If it’s on the table, I’m eating it. If there are leftovers after everyone’s done, I have seconds… and then thirds. If there’s gravy, it’s getting poured on everything short of cranberry sauce. Oh and if there’s cranberry sauce, I’m eating enough to have it coursing through my veins. And there’s never ever a question of which dessert to have, because the answer is  always all of them. That’s pretty much how this year’s Thanksgiving, spent with my boyfriend’s half-Florentine half-Floridian family, played out anyway.

But then of course, there’s the day-after remorse. The slightly tighter waistband, the mental hazinness brought on by excessive eating, the guilt. But so help me God, if I see or even hear mention of pumpkin pie (my absolute faaaaave), I snap right out of my slump and put my game face back on.

Mercer Kitchen's pumpkin pie

That’s what happened today when through a series of fortunate events, the pumpkin pie from Mercer Kitchen found itself in front of me. More of a mini-pie than a slice, MK’s version had a fluffy dollop of maple creme fraiche in place of whipped cream and a creamy, caramely blob of candied cashews next to it. Also on the plate, adding more autum color and taste was a rich, sticky caramel sauce (that I would like to guzzle by the mug-full, might I add) which was perfect for running forkuls of pumpkin pie through.

It never fails. I could be in the depths of a profound food coma, but like sleeping salts to someone knocked out cold, my tried and true favorite, pumpkin pie, will always bring me back, because there’s always room, even if just a little bit, for more pie.