Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

It's that wonderful, fun, scary day again! I love Halloween. It gets no better than leaves on the ground, a crisp scent in the air and chocolate.

I've already told you about the new Bespoke Chocolate so I'll let my pictures to the rest of the delicious talking.

Milk Chocolate pumpkin pie crunchy shell.



Luscious creamy pumpkin bourbon puree innards.



Worth every delicious last drop!! Happy Halloween!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bill’s Bar and Burger

Mr. T had the day off Friday so he met me for a late lunch around 3:00. I was working in Greenwich Village about 4 blocks from the newly opened Bill’s Burger Bar so it seemed like a no brainer.

Bill’s Burger Bar is the new BR restaurant group place that moved into the old Hog’s Pit space. We used to frequent the Hog’s Pit a decent amount back in the day. Mr. T’s brother was on a foosball kick for a while and this was one of the places that always seemed to have some exciting foosball action. It was always a fun place to hang out but a little dirty and divey.

Walking into Bill’s on Friday I noticed the room was actually bright! I tried to recall if there were shades on the windows at the Hog’s Pit or if it was just really dirty. Here the windows let in a ton of sunlight and the place had a cheery diner like feel to it. The tables were covered in picnic style checkered cloths and some good rock and roll music playing in the background.

We got a seat in the back room and placed our order. The first burger I tried was the classic Bill’s burger with American cheese.



First things first, this burger came out looking like a UFO! It was super thin and wide. They cook the 5 oz Pat La Frieda meat here on a griddle using a technique of smashing the meat on both sides with a spatula. The result it a big flattened burger with super crispy edges and a nice salty char to the outside.

I absolutely loved this burger. My favorite part of the Shake Shack burger is the crispy edges and this had a ton! I don’t know how the burger stayed so juicy and moist even when it was cooked far beyond my normal medium rare. I kept licking my lips to enjoy the salty beef aftertaste!

I tried to put some of my toppings on the burger however and it just didn’t work out. The tomato and pickle were almost too thickly cut for the super thin burger. I enjoy the Shake Shack’s topping to meat ratio much better.

The other burger we tried was the Fat Cat.



This is actually a burger with two patties and has cheese layered between the middle. It’s served on an English Muffin bun and topped with some caramelized onions.

Look at this juicy burger shot!



This burger was very good as well. The onions gave the meat a nice sweet flavor but I didn’t get the same salty crunch as I did with the Classic.



The order of fries we split were good but nothing special. They could have been cooked a little bit longer so each one was uniformly crisp. It truly didn’t matter to me though- I was too busy swooning over my Bills’ Classic burger.

The only thing I thought was a little weird was the empty ketchup bottles on the table. I’ve never been to a place where I had to try 3 different bottles of ketchup before finding one with some inside. That may just be a minor opening month issue that will be resolved soon.

Bill’s Burger may not be for everyone. Mr. T liked both of the burgers but said he prefers a thick burger with a little bit more going on. I loved Bill’s and for the price point think it’s a welcome new addition to the neighborhood. Each burger was $5.95, which is a great deal anywhere but especially in the Meatpacking District.

I’m not ready to put Bill’s into my top 5 burger category until a few more visits but it’s definitely a contender.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Bites at the Madison Square Market

It was a beautiful day last Wednesday so Mr. T and I went for an al fresco dinner at the Madison Square Market again. This time we went straight to the Hill Country stand for some meat sandwiches.  Here is the Jalapeño Kreutz Sausage.



For those of you that don’t know- Hill Country gets this sausage shipped directly from Kreutz BBQ which is among the top five best BBQ places in Texas. These sausages have a great snappy casing and pack in a serious amount of spice.  Here is our other sandwich the BBQ Beef.



Is there anything better than a big old shreddy beef sandwich? Okay Shreddy may not be a word but I’m using it anyway- shreddy sandwich. Yum.

To wash it all down we stopped over at Fatty Crab/Cabrito stand and got a Mexican Coke. The average American Coke is made with high-fructose corn syrup while the Mexican Coke is made with real cane sugar. The Mexican Coke really tastes different from a regular one with a lighter, cleaner flavor.



For dessert we stopped by the Breezy Hill Orchard stand and picked up a huge Molasses cookie that was a great mix of sugar, spice and everything nice!



The Market ends this Sunday so get there while you can. It’s a great autumn event worth stopping by for.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fika Blueberry Muffin

I absolutely love Fika. You’ve heard me sing its praises many times here on this blog. Recently I have enjoyed my espressos at Abraco and Stumptown a little more than Fika but it still has a big place in my heart.

I stopped by the 28th street location the other day for a quick morning pick-me up and noticed some muffins in the display case. The blueberry one looked absolutely amazing with some kind of creamy, custard like substance actually dripping from the top.

I had to try it out so I took one home for breakfast.

I was so excited to give this muffin a taste and see what that luscious cream was like. It had such a thick beautiful shine to it I had never seen on a muffin before. Mr. T and I each took a bite and then simply looked at each other slightly bewildered.



It was batter. I mean the actually muffin batter used to make the muffin. Now how does this happen? I’ve had undercooked baked goods before where the inside was a little runny but the top? The rest of the muffin was perfectly cooked all the way through. Did they add the batter on top at the end? Is this some sort of strange baking blunder?

I have no idea but neither of us really wanted to finish eating it. I’m pretty sure raw batter sitting out in a display case can attract some pretty nasty bacteria. I just don’t understand how this even happened. I plan to speak with the Barista next time I’m there to find out what kind of cooking method they use. I need to figure this situation out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mini Cupcakes at Baked by Melissa

I decided to walk home from work the other day through SOHO and stumbled across Baked by Melissa on Spring Street. I had heard about this little cupcake stop before from a friend so I decided to sample some of its offerings.

Baked is basically just a pick-up window that sells about ten different varieties of frosted miniature cupcakes. You pick out the flavors you want, pay the woman and then find some place discreet nearby to enjoy your treats. Or you can just pay the woman, walk two steps and devour the goodies before you reach the end of the block- it’s up to you. I choose to do the latter :)

Baked sells it’s cupcakes for $1 a piece, which is pretty expensive considering they are just slightly larger then the size of a quarter. However I love the fact that they are so small you can try out a bunch of different flavors without feeling super guilty about all that sugar.

Today I sampled the Peanut Butter Cup and the Cookie Dough.



First up was the Cookie Dough. On first bite I was struck by how much awesome fudgy flavor this little guy packed in. This was some intense chocolate frosting! The yellow cake was light and moist and the cookie dough, while slightly too sugary, was in a good ratio to the rest of the cake.

The Peanut Butter Cup shocked me at the first bite as well. The Peanut Butter frosting was so intense! For such a little amount of icing on a rich cake the flavor really shined through.

Overall I enjoyed both of my cupcakes. I would definitely come back to try out some of the other flavors. They had a Rocky Road and a Tie- Dye Cupcake that looked absolutely scrumptious.

Baked By Melissa website

Monday, October 19, 2009

Luke's Lobster

To kick off the start of College Football Super Saturday Funday we decided to head down to Luke’s and check out the lobster rolls.

Luke’s is a really tiny place on 7th street right near some of my other favorite food spots like Caracas Arepas, Porchetta, Wechsler’s and Abraco. The small store only has about two tables and a couple seats up front for dining. We decided to place our order to go so we could find a more spacious place to eat our food.



Luke’s has a chalkboard menu up front listing their items and the specials for the day. I was surprised to see some of the big meals they advertised like“A Taste of Maine”. It came with three different rolls, a pair of empress claws, chips and a drink all for $20. That’s a pretty good deal. I wasn’t feeling like a huge meal however so I stuck with the standard lobster roll.



Luke’s lobster roll is smaller than Pearl’s but also less money at only $14 a roll. They use the standard buttery toasted hot dog bun and fill the roll with big chunks of meat and little to no mayo.

My first bite of this roll was okay. The meat tasted very fresh and the seasoning on the roll was pleasant enough but it didn’t have the same wow factor for me that the first bite of Pearl’s always does. On my second bite, I ran into a bigger problem. I heard a crunch and pulled a big piece of shell out of the roll. Upon further inspection I found another piece about halfway through the rest. Two pieces of shell is quite unacceptable. I really struggled to enjoy the roll after this and ended up throwing a lot of it out.

My companions had shell free rolls so I guess I just got unlucky. I may give Luke’s another chance but with so many other great food options in the area it probably won’t be again for some time.

Lucky for me I was able to get one of my other great options a smoky, fatty pork sandwich from Prochetta. Yum! Once again pork saves the day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Brew Friday- Dogfish Head Sahtea

I noticed this new Dogfish Head in Whole Foods yesterday and something about it really caught my eye. One of the workers there saw me inspecting the label and bounded over to spew the wondrous virtues of this beer. His exact words at one point were “I drink this beer for breakfast.”

Well that is a pretty strong recommendation. So I picked one up and brought it home for us to try out (at night time mind you)

Apparently Dogfish makes this beer by using the same method for brewing a Finnish style beer Sahti. After mixing the grains they add juniper berries to flavor the beer instead of hops. Then they heat white hot rocks over a fire to use for boiling the wort. Dogfish adds a black chai tea to finish the brewing process which makes it a completely different kind of beer than the Finns brewed.



Appearance- This beer poured a cloudy amber with a small head that quickly dissipated.

Aroma- Wow! This smelled exactly like a Chai Tea from your local Coffee shop. I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a blind smell test! Okay that doesn't make any sense but you know what I mean.

Taste- This beer had a great creamy texture that was a lot like Chai Tea with Cinnamon, Oatmeal, Vanilla and Nutmeg.

Overall- Dogfish did it again. This beer was so drinkable and tasty I would never guess it was 9% (just like the Red and White). This beer does have a sweet finish that may be a little too much for some people but I really enjoyed the flavor. If I ever have to have a beer for breakfast this is the one I want.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

PB and J from Trader Joes

I was really excited when I noticed a new chocolate treat in trader Joes the other day- their PB & J bar.

The label on the front said it contained milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peas nut butter, raspberry jelly and potato chip crunchies. What!!! Potato Chips! I had to try this out.



I think this might be the first candy bar I’ve ever had that came inside a box rather than a wrapper. This bar is pretty enormous- kind of like a Hungry Man chocolate bar.

Here’s an inside shot. As you can see there are varying layers of Peanut butter and Chocolate on the top with the raspberry jelly on the bottom.



I was expecting to love this candy bar but I didn’t really enjoy it. First of all I never really tasted the potato chip crunchies. Here and there I got a crunch feeling but no salty crunch flavor. The bar was also a little bit too dense for its’ own good. The chocolate coating was very bitter and it seemed to overpower the taste of the other flavors. The peanut butter actually ended up having almost a burnt flavor.

I definitely won’t be running back to get another one of these bars. I’m almost a little glad I didn’t like it. There are so many other sweets in the city that I’m infatuated with. I don’t need anymore.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Manhattan Project

We stopped into Blind Tiger Ale House again last Saturday. This is beginning to be a weekend tradition. It’s hard not to stop in when we know they rotate their list so frequently it almost always means trying out a new beer.  This day was no different. We looked at the board and saw Brooklyn Brewery’s new offering the Manhattan Project. This ale was designed by Brooklyn Brewery to taste like an old rye Manhattan cocktail. They aged the beer in 100 proof Rye barrels and then infused it with the flavors of red vermouth and bitters.



Appearance- this beer poured almost black with a red hue on the bottom and no head whatsoever.  Smell- this smelled exactly like a super bready Manhattan with a strong whiskey and cherry scent.

Taste- I was surprised the whiskey flavor of this beer was so smooth. The smell kind of scared me but the actual flavor was quite mellow with a slightly sweet cherry aftertaste.

As the beer settled the cherry hue got stronger and the beer became a little too sweet. The cherry flavor really took over and in the end it was too much for me.

This is definitely a great beer but just not what I’m looking for in taste. I’m not a big Manhattan drinker so the flavor was a little lost on me. However if you like Manhattan’s than this beer is for you. Try and check it out before it’s too late.


Brooklyn Brewery

Sunday, October 11, 2009

NYC Food And Wine Festival- Hangover

It was another great Food and Wine Festival weekend. I started it out with the Meatpacking Uncorked on Friday. This year they added some food stations to the event. The best two being the supple rich Wagyu Beef from Debragga paired with a fantastic Malbec and the pork tacos from Los Dados.

OMG those pork tacos were amazing! They filled the tortilla with big chunks of smoked pork and then fried the shell so that it came out like a pork taco egg roll covered in sour cream, avocado and tomatoes. It had to be at least 1000 calories a taco but man it was so worth it.

The best wine places of the night was the sparkling white from the Leo Kesting gallery and the multiple tastings I enjoyed from the clothing store Darling. I had a great time talking with the women there and they had a really cute shop.

The Grand Tasting was Saturday and we once again took full advantage of the fabulous event. This year they had one of our favorite beers flowing- Palm and some of our favorite wineries including La Crema and Grgich Hills Estate.

The best food of the night were the pumpkin cheesecake tarts with pistachio brittle from Olana, the Lemon Crepe Cake from Bar Breton and the Pork Belly BLT that for the life of me I can't remember where it was from! Pork Belly was everywhere it seemed.

I rounded out the weekends events by stopping at the Madison Square Park Mark't. This three week event has a bunch of little shops set up and a ton of food options. Hill Country, Waffle and Dinges, Butter Lane, Suzette, Breezy Hill Orchards, Viking Danish cuisine and Fatty Crab all have a spot.

I decided to make it Fatty Sunday two weekends in a row and got a Fatty Slider from the Crab.



Unfortunately I really didn't enjoy it. The meat was so overly spiced all I could taste was pepper. However I enjoyed my Fatty Rouge Red Ale and just people watched for a while. The sun was on my back and the park was filled with families enjoying the beautiful fall day. The Mark't is open from 11:00 to 8:00 daily. I wish they opened earlier because I would love to start my day with some Stumptown Coffee from Butter Lane. Overall it was a great food weekend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some SWEET weekend Updates

OMG it’s the New York City Food and Wine Festival this weekend! I’m going to Meatpacking Uncorked tonight and then I’ll hit up the Grand Tasting tomorrow. I had a great time at both events last year so I’m very excited!

Some SWEET updates for your weekend. I thought I would start with a picture of one of my favorite desserts in the city- the Gramercy Tavern German Chocolate cake.



I was lucky enough to have this cake two nights in a row while my parents were visiting last month. Their pastry chef was just on the Martha Stewert show yesterday making a corn blueberry sundae. I may need to stop in for one of those.

Bespoke has a new item out just for the fall season a Pumpkin Bourbon Chocolate. This is probably my favorite take ever on Pumpkin and Chocolate together. Bespoke only uses the purest ingredients and it shows in the quality of their product. I truly felt like I was biting into a wonderful pumpkin pie. This is even better than their Salted Pretzel Chocolate. You go Bespoke!

One last SWEET update. Magnolia continues to have the best banana pudding in the city IMO. Why people stand in line for their cupcakes and then leave without this masterpiece is beyond me. Maybe Carrie Bradshaw will come to her senses in Sex and the City 2 and get this instead!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nolita House

It was a rainy and overcast Saturday, the kind of day perfect for a big bowl of steamy rich ramen! Mr. T and I headed down to our favorite ramen place Ippudo to see if we could get a table.

It was only about 1:00 when we arrived but already the line was out the door and the wait was over an hour. We were both starving so waiting around wasn’t an option. Instead we decided to keep walking down to Houston and check out Nolita House.

Nolita House used to be one of our go-to restaurants for a couple of drinks or a casual dinner. I was surprised to see how crowded and lively it was for brunch. Every table was filled and there was a nice pleasant buzz of energy around the room.

Each entrée comes with your choice of Mimosa, Sangria or juice. Of course I went for the best brunch drink in the world- the mimosa.



For my entrée I stuck pretty traditional and got the Brunch plate.



Two scrambled with bacon, French fries, an English muffin and salad. Everything was very tasty and they gave me a least enough food for two people. I kind of wish I had tried something more exciting though. I think the woman next to me ordered the Brick Oven Egg dish and it looked amazing.



Mr. T ordered his usual at Nolita House the Brick Oven Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon. This Macaroni and cheese may be one of the best in the city. They use corkscrew pasta and combine big pieces of bacon with an insanely creamy and rich cheese, then toss it in the oven so the outside gets a nice crispy finish. YUM!!!!

Nolita House was a great back up food destination. Our food was excellent and the service was fast and efficient. They have a Bluegrass band play on the weekends which is fun but it can get loud. Ask for a seat in the back if you want to enjoy some conversation.

Nolita House

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fatty Sunday Football Funday

Usually our Sundays in October are spent watching football and drinking a few beers on the couch. This past Sunday we did that as well, however on a much larger and fattier scale! Sunday was Epicurious Entertains Fatty Football Sunday Funday event hosted by Zak Pelaccio.

Zak is expanding his empire of restaurants even further next month by opening up Fatty Cue in Brooklyn. This event showcased the Southeast Style of Asian BBQ he hopes to bring to the table and I have to say it was pretty awesome.

The event started at 12:00 and we ended up being the first one up the stairs to check out the space. The second I opened up the stair door I was hit with the most intense smell of smoked meat I have ever had. It got stronger with each step and by the time we were at the top I thought I was going to be a little sick by the sheer meat intensity coming out of the room! A good kind of sick, mind you.

I walked in and was greeted by non other than James Oliver Cury, Executive Editor of Epicurious and former editor of Time Out New York’s Eat Out section. I was so excited I could barely think as he welcomed us to the event and encouraged us to grab a drink and relax. I was too busy admiring the wonderful, sleek space and big bowls of Lindt chocolate on each table.

The bar was set up against one wall with the kitchen on the other side and tables down the middle. They really did a nice job keeping the space so that people could move freely for either food or drinks while still having a view of the football games.

We took a seat at one of the long tables in the middle and then went to the bar for some drinks.



They had a pretty impressive amount of alcohol for such a small event. Leffe Blonde, Stella, Hoegarden and Tecate for beer, red and wine wines from Dancing Bull Winery in California and different bottles of liquor like Patron and Johnny Walker.

As we waited for them to finish up with the cooking I scoped out the kitchen area.



Here’s the menu for today.



Wow- so much good looking stuff. Luckily we only had to wait about 15 minutes before the food was ready.

They set up the food buffet style so you walked through the kitchen and piled your plate high with as much meat as you wanted. Here’s a picture of my first plate.



I tried a little bit of everything. That huge sandwich in the middle is the Banh Mi. It’s hard to see in this picture but it contained turkey along with the other ingredients which I thought really brought the sandwich together in a whole new way.

The white bun in the back was the Smoked Brisket bun with Cilantro sauce and the meat up front was the ultra moist and fatty BBQ Lamb shoulder with Goat Yogurt.

One of my favorite foods of the night had to be the Pork Spare Ribs. When I heard they were glazed in a Palm Sugar Fish sauce I was a little worried I wouldn’t like it. However the sweet sticky glaze was a perfect topping for the smoky meat and I chowed down on a ton of these.

My favorite dish of the event was the House Smoked Bacon and Clams. Look at these nice big chunks of bacon.



So good! This man knows how to cook! The food was all pretty great but there were a few things I didn’t like. The Charred Turnips and Greens with Red Curry was so spicy I had a little coughing spell after the first bite. The Cucumber salad which I thought would be nice and refreshing also suffered from the same affliction of being overly spiced and hot.

However the hits were much greater than the misses and they get bonus points in my book for having a signature shot for people to enjoy.



I actually didn’t care for the taste that much but it was a big hit with the other guests. They ran through those liquor bottles faster than they ran through the food!

It was a great event and for $50 highly worth the price tag. It lived up to the name Fatty Sunday Football Funday in every way.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest is back and fully in swing around the German spots in the city. I spent some time celebrating at Zum Schneider the other day with some liters of Spatan and a giant pretzel.



This picture doesn't do justice for the mammoth snack specimen. It was easily the size of my head..and I have a big head!

If your looking to celebrate Zum will be having their live Oompah bands playing the Monday,Tuesday night this week and Saturday and Sunday afternoon. It gets packed so show up early or be prepared to wait. The lederhosen is optional :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Keg and Eggs at Resto

Sorry my posting has been a little bit sporadic lately. This post is actually about a brunch we went to two weeks ago. Somehow this got lost in the shuffle of things that was the end of summer.

The second week in September was the 2nd annual NYC Craft Beer week. This is a great time in NYC with tons of beer events, special cask ales and just a celebration of everything beer.

I got an email Friday night from the Belgian restaurant Resto informing me of a Kegs and Eggs brunch they were hosting the next morning

I’ve written about Resto a few times in this blog and I find it to be inconsistent. The dinners I’ve had there have run the gamut from being really good to almost inedible. However I have always enjoyed their brunch and this looked like a good deal so we decided to go.

Here’s the deal as per their email “Resto will serve a traditional English Breakfast - Eggs, Blood Sausage, Heirloom Tomato, English Cheddar, English Muffin and Home Fries served with two draft beers from Ommegang or Ithaca Brewing Company for $20.”

Sounds pretty good right? Plus the Ithaca beer was a special coffee stout brewed specifically for this event. Coffee and beer together equal a match made in heaven.

We got to Resto right around noon on Saturday and the place was packed. We got one of the tables in the front and each started with the Ithaca Eleven Stout.



The first sip was truly like drinking a cup of black coffee. Strong aromas of coffee beans and a little mocha gave this beer quite a nice flavor. After a few more sips the taste mellowed a little and the beer became incredibly drinkable. Sometimes coffee stouts can be too rich but this was light and almost refreshing.

Okay before I even get into the meal, when we placed our order I asked our waiter to describe what exactly came with the meal since I hadn’t looked at the email again. He said bacon, eggs, blood sausage and some kind of fruit. Hmm…fruit...maybe tomato?

Then our meal showed up. Here’s my “Traditional English Breakfast”.



As you see there is obviously no bacon, apparently the enormous Portabella Mushroom took that spot, and the plate looks a little bit sparse compared to most English breakfasts I’ve seen. One egg for me does not constitute a full breakfast.

The little food I did have was pretty good. The egg was cooked well and there was some nice cheddar cheese on the English Muffin. The one puzzling part about this dish was the Blood Sausage. I just had blood sausage a few weeks back at DBGB so when I saw the little ramekin I assumed I knew what I was getting into. However upon tasting said ramekin I only tasted one thing- beans.

Did they put beans in with the blood sausage? Possibly. Did they put beans in instead of the blood sausage? Maybe more likely. I got no sausage flavor at all.

At this point I would have loved to ask our waiter but he was nowhere to be found. After delivering our second beer, the Ommegang Whitte, he seemed to vanish into thin air.



About 20 minutes after we finished our meal, we finally managed to flag down our server and pay the bill. I had really wanted to end my meal with an espresso but I was scared to prolong our departure any further.

Once again I am conflicted about this place. I’ve always had great brunches here before today. Unfortunately I think it was too crowded and not prepared for this special event and the food and service suffered.

I really want to love Resto. They have such great beer, a nice space and it’s so close to my apartment! I’m keeping on my brunch list for now but we’ll see what happens next time.

Resto Website

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Squall IPA

We were at Blind Tiger a few weeks back and saw that they had Dogfish Heads new IPA on the menu. Unfortunately when we ordered it they had just run out.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a couple bottles at the Bowery Whole Foods. I always forget that place has a ton of great beers. So I picked one up and brought it home to try out.

The Squall is basically their classic IPA that instead has been unfiltered and bottle conditioned. They apparently made this beer in collaboration with a clothing store not to far from the brewery. They were inspired by the clothes they made and came up with this beer as an ode to them.



The beer poured a dark brown with a decent sized head on the top (the Steam Whistle Glass seemed to fit). The smell is exactly like the regular 90 minute IPA- strong and hoppy. The difference between these two beers lies in the taste.

While both have that extreme malty complex flavor, the Squall seems a bit more balanced. It has a slightly sweet finish to the end that makes this a much more drinkable beer than the regular 90 minute. At 9% alcohol I definitely had a warm feeling in my tummy after a few sips. This beer is only available in a few east coast states and for a limited time. I still think the Dogfish Red and White is the best of the bunch but this one is a winner.