Tuesday, August 28, 2012

C is for colorful

One of the best things about summer here in NYC is the Greenmarket. Local family-owned farms transport their exquisitely organic, sweet, delicious and colorful fruits and veggies all the way down to the big apple for us city folk to partake of. (Amongst other goods such as: homemade pie, cage- free eggs, honeycomb, fresh fish and cheeses... the list goes on.)

There are two Greenmarkets near my apartment that come once a week. Today I found tomatoes, corn, onions, cucumbers, peaches, plums, yellow squash and some peppers for my spic-a-holic husband (who's taste buds are apparently rooted in his Mexican heritage).

Clearly, I got a little produce happy. (See photo) Come on though, what person in their right mind could resist, when the selection is this chromatically beautiful? No special lighting or anything of the like needed to make this beautiful loot look appetizing. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make me some mean gazpacho.

Monday, August 20, 2012

B is for Beer Brownies

B is for brownies. Specifically, brownies that will rock your world. These little alchohol- infused kickers are so magnificently moist and gooey while simultaneously packing so much salty- sweet flavor that you think your eyes might pop out of your head. Though you can't find these chocolate treasures in any bakery here in the city, you can create them in your very own kitchen- which is part of their beauty. I found the recipe in a Bon Appetit magazine a while back, and have decided it a mortal sin to keep such a key to utter happiness to myself (as much as I'd like to take credit for being the genious that came up with these beauties). So, because I love you, dear reader, here is the link that will lead you into the realms of ultimate joy and pleasure (in the way of your tastebuds):


Readers be warned: this recipe is not for the faint of heart. You can't just go throwing all the ingredients into a bowl and turn on your Kitchenaide. Please respect the brownies. Do what the Bon Appetit gods instuct you to, with precision and care. Also, try not to defile the brownies with crappy ingedients. I like to use Ghirardelli chocolate and extra stout Guiness. Good luck and enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A is for Alice's Tea Cup

Ok readers. I have decided that over the next few months I will compile a list of some of my favorite eats in NYC, in the form of the ABCs. Naturally, we'll start with A.

A is for Alice's Tea Cup. I like this place for a few reasons.
First, it is a magical place for kids and adults alike. When you walk in you feel as though you have been transported to Wonderland itself. Everything from the tepid water in your glass, to the traditional English scones, to the five-year old girls dressed as princesses having a tea party at the next table tells you that you aren't in New York anymore. They also have the best eggs benedict I've ever had (aside from my husband's, of course).

Arden enjoying her pumpkin scone
Second, as previously mentioned, they have scones. Not just any scones, mind you, but go- back- three- and- four- times- for- more- on- the- same- day scones. In my opinion, it is their specialty (besides tea, that is). My favorite flavor is the pumpkin spice, any time of year. Coming in at a close second is the lemon blueberry. Be sure to get them with a side of clotted cream and preserves. They may not be the most inventive flavors in the world, but it certainly is curiouser and curiouser how they get those things to be so perfectly moist and flavorful. If I lived nearby to any of their locations, I would have one for every one of my unbirthdays.

Extensive tea selection

The third reason why I like this place so much is the quirky and eccentric gifts that you can find within. I once found some "fairy dust" for my four year old (at the time) niece. I also found a magnet for my mom that says "Make your own damn dinner". You can also find adorable children's books and costumes.
Alice has three locations. One on the Upper West Side at 73rd and Columbus, and two others on the Upper East Side, at 64th and Lexington and 81st and 3rd Ave.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Doughnut Plant

I first discovered this place on a food tour a few years ago. I remember that I wasn't really in the mood for a doughnut. I remember trying a bite of one anyways. I remember being delighted at how someone had finally made a doughnut that was inventive and interesting as well as being delicious. Don't get me wrong, a good old fashioned glazed doughnut is great and all, but sometimes it's good to mix things up a little, right?

Doughnut Plant boasts intriguing flavors such as Cashew Orange Blossom, Valrhona Chocolate and Rose Blossom. Other, slighly less complex flavors such as Coconut Creme, Tres Leches and Matcha Green Tea are equally delicious. My favorite is the Creme Brulee. It's a lot of other people's favorite too, apparently, as they usually run out of this flavor mid-day. I suggest making a trip early in the day, so you have the best pickins. There are two locations, one on Grand and Essex in the Lower East Side, and one 23rd between 7th and 8th, in Chelsea. Although the LES location is the original, I prefer the Chelsea location for it's ample space and disco-themed bathroom. These doughnuts really will make you want to do a little dance...

My little foodie with our doughnuts.
Washing her hands post-feast in the psychedelic bathroom.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I survive here

There are many reasons why I choose to live in NYC.
Fascinating, driven people. Breathtaking architecture. Diversity in religion, race and sexual orientation. Stellar education. Fabulous collections of mind blowing art. Fashion. Theatre. Music. Comedy. Drag bingo night. The list is endless.
Reason number one, without question, is GOOD FOOD.
My sister is in town right now, and so naturally we are eating our way through the city. We have sipped Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity, gobbled up Creme Brulee donuts at Doughnut Plant, sampled a variety of delicious fare at Chelsea Market, D.O.C. pizza at L'asso, burgers at The Burger Joint, and of course, Salty Pimps at Big Gay Ice Cream. And folks,we haven't even warmed up yet.
Call me crazy, but when I'm busy consuming a pizza that was made fresh, just for me, minutes before it was brought out, with fire-oven roasted crust, tomato sauce that is certified by the Italian government (I'm not joking), imported buffalo mozzerella cheese and organic, locally grown basil, I can't help but feel that it is worth all of the hardships that a middle- class citizen of this city must endure in order to survive here.
I pay an arm and a leg for rent. I carry my Cadillac of a stroller up and down the blasted subway stairs almost every day. I encounter crazy people left and right. There is often dog shit on the street that some inconsiderate person failed to clean up after their dog finished his/her business. When I go running I am regularly inhaling exaust and garbage- infused air. I usually fall asleep to the ever soothing beat of a merengue tune that someone is blasting from their car until two in the morning.
And friends- it is worth it. It is worth all of it just to have the world at my feet in the way of good food. The famous saying: "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." rings true. It's not really all that hard to do though. You just have to have something that inspires you to survive. Mine is good food.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Black and White Cookie- a New York classic.

One of the major benefits to living in the Big Apple is that you have a plethora of choices when it comes to sustenance, and more specifically, dessert. I don't know about you, dear reader, but I personally have an entirely separate compartment in my stomach designated solely to dessert. So having this kind of variety (and not to mention quality) at my fingertips just about makes up for the fact that I'm going to have to sell my first born child pretty soon because rent is so exhorbiantly high.
New York boasts an incredibly vast array of bakeries, boulangeries, candy shops, chocolatiers and the like. You can sample a wide assortment of chocolates, cookies, beautifully crafted pastries, cakes, pies, candy–you name it. The sky is the limit, basically.
Having said all that, sometimes what you really need in your life is a good old-fashioned black and white cookie.
Simple? Yes. Is it the most exquisite or unique thing that you're ever going to put in your mouth? Probably not. It's a New York classic though, and with good reason. Often referred to as New York's version of an Oreo, this quintessential culinary gem is both graphically appealing and thought- provoking as well as being delicious.
Where did this cookie come from? My theory is that some brilliant baker a hundred years ago couldn't decide whether he/she wanted to make a cookie with chocolate or white icing. Or maybe he/she wanted to save money? People have many different theories about how and why the black and white was born but it remains a mystery.
There is also much debate about the right way to eat the black and white cookie. Do you break it in half and eat both sections separately? If so, which side do you eat first? Which side is your favorite? Do you fold it in half and eat both the black and white icing side simultaneously, a'la how a true New Yorker would gobble a slice of pizza?
Every good New Yorker knows the show Seinfeld, and will think back with fondness at the episode where Jerry reflects: "You see, Elaine, the key to eating a black and white cookie is that you wanna get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate. And yet still somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie, all our problems would be solved."  I'm with Jerry.

My sis, acting as Vanna.

I've had a harder time in recent years finding a black and white cookie as easily as I used to. I'm sure they'll continue to exist in this city for a long time, but just in case you can't conveniently grab one from around the corner (like me), I've included a recipe that I found from an archived New York Times article about the black and white cookie. Enjoy!

Time: 1 hour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon light corn syrup.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.
2. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter. Mix by machine or hand until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and lemon extracts, and mix until smooth.
3. In medium bowl, combine cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until mixed. Add dry mixture to the wet in batches, stirring well after each addition. Using a soup spoon, place heaping spoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake until edges begin to brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
4. Place confectioners' sugar in large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in enough boiling water to the sugar to make a thick, spreadable mixture.
5. Put half the frosting in the top half of a double-boiler. Add the chocolate and corn syrup, and set over simmering water. Warm the mixture, stirring, until chocolate is melted and frosting is smooth. Turn off the heat, but leave chocolate frosting over hot water to keep it spreadable. With a brush, coat half of the top of each cookie with chocolate frosting, and the other half with white frosting. Let dry, and store in an airtight container.
Yield: 2 dozen large cookies.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Big Gay Ice Cream

The title of this post made you want to read more, didn't it? I can't say I blame you. I have a hard time thinking of many things that sound like more fun than Big Gay Ice Cream. If you can believe it, my mom was the one who introduced me to this magical place. (When I say magical, I mean magical. If you want proof, be sure to check out the sparkle-tastic unicorn on the wall, complete with Bea Arthur brooch.)
I thank and blame my mother often for my immense sugar addiciton. The cupcake doesn't fall far from the tree, really. (That's the saying, right? At least that's what my mom told me it was...) As a young child, I remember how she would base our dinner meal around whatever culinary masterpiece she had created for dessert. When it was time to eat, she would round all of us kids up by calling out: "Banana cream pie a la mode tonight!" or "I made five- layer chocolate dessert!", never bothering to tell us what the actual meal was that night. Although dinner was always delicious and healthy, she treated it mostly as a necessary annoyance- a pesky hoop that we had to jump through in order to make it to the REAL reason we were all sitting at the table to eat.
So it comes at no surprise to me when my mother often calls me with the latest scoop on what new confection she's found to satiate her craving of the month (or week or day or hour). Let me say also, that for a woman that lives in a small town in Utah, she is pretty darn saavy when it comes to good sweets. Some of the best things I've ever eaten in this city, I found because my mom called and told me about them. Her sources remain mysteriously unknown.
I'll never forget her calling me one afternoon, while I was on my way home from work, ordering me in an excited yet almost panic- infused voice to "find the gay ice cream truck!" Huh? You can imagine my confusion at such a command from my own mother, who lives a couple thousand miles away. I thought maybe my dear mom had mixed up the wrong cocktail of meds that morning, and perhaps wasn't thinking clearly. There was, actually, lucidity in her madness. This "gay ice cream" she spoke of really did exsist! After a moment of calming her down and figuring out what in Betty Crocker's name she was talking about, I came to understand that there was, in fact, a one Big Gay Ice Cream food truck roaming the city somewhere with really big, really gay, really awesomely delicious ice cream.
That truck still makes it's rounds around the city (for exact location, check their twitter feed) and in addition, now has a mother shop in the East Village (7th St. between First Ave. and Ave. A). It boasts humorous and playful flavors, such as (my personal favorite) the Bea Arthur. Bea is a vanilla ice cream cone with swirls of dulce de leche, dipped in crushed vanilla wafers. Another favorite of mine is the Mermaid, which is vanilla ice cream with key lime curd, graham cracker crumbs and whipped cream. See what I mean? How could you not like this ice cream? Big Gay Ice Cream is where it's at.

My mom, sadly, still has yet to taste this fabulous ice cream that she so graciously told me about years ago. Hopefully for her next visit...