The wonder elixir for… well, everything

No one tell my parents but as a longtime proponent of the mind calming, rest inducing, achey muscle soothing, anxiety easing, all-around-good-time promoting, healing properties of weed, I’ve been pretty excited about CBD’s recent rise to mainstream popularity, especially in food and drinks. (Even if it’s not the legalized marijuana I’d really like.)

As a very brief, very basic explanation for anyone who might not already know: the two main chemical compounds in pot are THC, the stuff that makes you goofy and giggly and weird, and CBD, the stuff with the medical benefits for people dealing with anxiety, sleep problems, pain, and nausea amongst other things.

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I mean, I feel better just looking at this tasty drink.

So again, for the people in the back: products containing only CBD will not get you high and are completely legal,  even in states like NY where weed’s illegal. Hear that mom and dad? (Just kidding, my parents don’t read this. And if they did, my mother would be lighting a candle for my soul while my dad would say this is why I’m unmarried in my 30s. But we’ll save all of that for another time and perhaps a therapist…) Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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.

On the road again

We had been driving down a hot, barren road toward the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza when there she appeared, quite literally like an oasis in the desert: a short, round faced, brown skinned girl sitting alone under a white tent, only a large cooler sitting on the table next to her. The hand-written sign on the gravel road said: NIEVES.

After breezing past her, we pulled over and turned back around toward the tent. A couple of minutes and a few dozen pesos later we were back en route with strawberry and pineapple-mango nieves, slushy, bright sorbets scooped into Styrofoam cups.

An easy way to make a good roatrip great

Like fun music and good company, snacks are crucial to a successful car trip, and those frosty, fruity nieves did just the trick. More like frozen blended fruit than just sorbet, each nieve in its modest Styrofoam cup was refreshing and bright, the pineapple and mango basically the food embodiment of a beach holiday, and the strawberry one less loud and showy, but just as sweet and tangy.

If I was that poor girl, sitting out there in the heat, bored and alone for God knows how long, I don’t think I’d be able to resist eating all those delicious tubs of nieve inside that cooler. Then again, no one would trust me with that job in the first place for that very reason.

Extreme decadence

Go big or go home, right? Well, let me tell you, never was that more the case than at brunch this weekend at Norma’s at Le Parker Merdien.

All joking aside, I probably had my caloric intake for a good solid week all in one sitting.  All on one plate. And I’m not exaggerating or kidding in the least bit. It was intense. What I had might very well be the single most gluttonous thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was worth every hour I’ll spend at the gym this week paying for it.

The menu at Norma’s was a wonderland of edible awesomeness. There were chestnut pancakes, foie gras brioche french toast, and mango-papaya brown butter cinnamon crepes among other things.  But for me there was nothing else to get, nothing else to think about, nothing else but those four sweet words: Chocolate Decadence French Toast. (Yes, decadence was actually in the title.)

Norma's Chocolate Decadence French Toast: about 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Forget your diet.

Equal parts awe and intimidation filled my head when the waiter placed the chocolate mountain before me. Was this actually French toast made with chocolate cake and not bread? And were there really three spongy, thick slices of it, stacked one on top of the other, between layers of fat, bright red strawberries, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, all of it dusted with powdered sugar , sprinkled with whole pistachios and drizzled with valrhona chocolate syrup? Was I ever going to be able to finish this without falling into some sort of sugar induced coma?  Yes, yes and of course yes.

More than just a standard brunch option, the Chocolate Decadence French Toast was just one massive dessert, and because I’m ok with starting the day with a huge quantity of chocolate, I was in heaven. Even though I worked slowly through the huge stack, each mouthful of moist chocolate cake maintained its fresh-from-the-kitchen heat, so that every bite was warm and rich, with the tart sweetness of the strawberries and the nutty crunch of the pistachios only magnifying the deep chocolatey perfection of the french toast.

With the exception of maybe only the “Zillion Dollar Lobster Fritatta” (which is packed with lobster and caviar and costs $1,000), the Chocolate Decadence French Toast was probably the most ridiculous thing to have ordered. Large, over the top, and decadent to the point of obscenity, I can’t think of a better way to have started my Saturday.

Where the wild drinks are

Fraise Sauvage at Employees Only

I’d heard lots of good things about Employees Only, the Art Deco-ish, non-descript-from-the-outside bar in the West Village but it wasn’t until out-of-town guests came to stay with us that I decided we should check it out. (I like to impress visitors with cool stuff so they don’t dwell on the fact that I live in a glorified matchbox.)

The ambiance was cozy and intimate, with that cooler-than-thou hint of exclusivity that pervades so many places in this neighborhood, but it was the Fraise Sauvage, French or something for “delicious and best smelling cocktail in the world,” that really sold me on the place.

Like almost everything else in New York, the drink was about three times the price I’d pay in a normal city, but then again, no one moves to New York looking for normalcy, now do they? Plymouth Gin shaken with wild strawberries and Tahitian Vanilla, topped off with Zardetto prosecco di Conegliano Brut. Fizzy, sweet, tart and with a bold taste and bright aroma of  juicy, fresh wild strawberries.

On top of everything, EO is literally two blocks from my apartment. Looks like this one’s getting added to the out-of-town-guests itinerary. (And to my personal delicious drinks itinerary.)

Morning at the farmers market

The Ferry Building is fast becoming one of my favorite places to hang out in San Francisco. With all the great food and interesting places to eat and shop, all under one roof, I have yet to get tired of going. Since I’ve been here I’ve gone at least once a week, sometimes twice. When I woke up yesterday morning, I knew that’s where I’d be heading first during my Saturday wanderings around town. The reason: Saturday’s Farmers Market.

I originally went for something specific, but when I got there it turned out the vendor I was looking for wasn’t there this week. At first I was upset because I’d walked all the way over there for nothing but once I started looking around at all the other stuff there I was glad I came. Fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and meat products—everything regional, straight from the farm, and most of it organic.

Everything looked incredible but I was particularly blown away by the fruits and vegetables. It was like I was seeing them for the first time. Had peaches always been this big and round, the color of a fiery sunset? Definitely not the tough, dinky ones I bought at shitty supermarkets in New York.

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