Friday, February 26, 2010

Sugar Overload at Doughnut Plant

I woke up Saturday morning and had one thought in my mind- Doughnuts!! Seriously I think I must have been dreaming about them because my craving was beyond ridiculous. I was going to try and ignore the craving but then I heard the news that my Grandmother passed away. I was feeling pretty down and decided that a good long walk and a sugary treat was maybe just what I needed.

So I took a long walk from my apartment all the way down to Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side. It was a beautiful day outside and with the sun on my back and crisp air in my face I felt about a hundred times better. It’s amazing what a good walk can do for your soul!

Anyway I got to Doughnut Plant and the line was out the door. Luckily they move pretty quick here and it only took about 20 minutes for me to reach the front. I had one doughnut in mind to order but the same thing ended up happening to me that always happens to me at Doughnut Plant…I go Doughnut Insane. The next thing I know I’m ordering everything and suddenly I’m outside with $20 worth of doughnuts in my bag. At least I left the store! Last time I sat down at the table and sampled my six doughnuts with the line of people just staring at me as I ate.

Here is the doughnut that filled my dreams and launched this whole trek The Crème Brulee Doughnut.

Smaller than the other doughnuts this little nugget is one of the tastiest, sweetest things I have ever had the luxury of eating. The outside glaze is almost like liquid candy. The first bite in I was already on cloud nine.

The you hit the center jackpot- custard. Luscious, creamy, wonderful custard. Like a Boston Crème Doughnut but oh so much better. I used to think the Tres Leches doughnut was my favorite but it doesn’t stand a chance against this little guy.

So I ended up ordering four of those, of course two Tres Leches and then I decided to try a couple of their seasonal offerings the Carrot Cake Doughnut.

This is certainly on of the prettiest doughnuts I have ever eaten that’s for sure. The first bite was good- lots of nutmeg, ginger, and overall carrotness. However something was missing. I told Mr. T what this doughnut really needs is some cream cheese filling.

Hours later when I dove back into the bag of treats I went back to this doughnut and much to my surprise- Cream Cheese! Apparently it was all on one side of the doughnut. I just happened to miss it on the first go around. This truly made the doughnut. It was a perfect example of Doughnut Plant doing what they do best. A great seasonal item.

Unfortunately I ended up eating way too many of these guys and had somewhat of a sugar overload but hey that happens sometime. I woke up the next morning and Mr. T and I had a lovely breakfast at Veselka of Borscht and perogies, just like my Grandma used to make. It amazing how much food touches your life without even realizing it. It was my little tribute to her in some ways I guess.

Doughnut Plant

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef

We checked out the Artichoke guys newest shop this past weekend- This Little Piggy. I’ll admit, when it comes to Roast beef sandwiches the bar is set pretty high. Growing up in Buffalo you get a real appreciation to all thing beef- especially the quintessential Western New York favorite Beef on Weck.

However I know there’s no weck in this city so regular roast beef sandwiches have to fill the void. This Little piggy makes two kinds of sandwiches called This Way and That Way. This Way is Roast Beef with Cheez Whiz and au jus. That way is Roast Beef with fresh mozzarella and gravy. Neither of us were in a gravy mood so we went for That Way.

Upon opening up this large sandwich it was evident that they used a lot of us jus…I mean a lot! The bottom of the roll was so soaked through it proved to be no match for the weight of the beef and completely fell apart. This might upset some people but I love au jus so it was just fine with me.

Unfortunately the meat itself wasn’t great. The beef was overcooked and even with all of the juice it tasted a little stringy and dry. It wasn’t a horrible sandwich but it just wasn’t as good as I expected.

We also got an order of their steak fries. I’m not a big fan of steak fries but these were actually quite good. Really crispy and well salted.

Overall I thought This Little Piggy was just okay. I think the sandwiches and fries were good but not something to go out of your way to eat. However I could see this being amazing drunk food. Next time I’m out having a few beers in the East Village I may have to test my theory out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Asher's Potato Chips

In addition to Mr. T’s regular Valentines Day present I picked him up a bag of Chocolate Covered potato Chips. I figured everyone needs something sweet on Valentines Day so why not try something different. This is a bag of Asher's Chocolate Covered Chips that I picked up at Macy’s.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of having salty, sweet and crunchy all together in one package. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to the expectations I had for these sweets going in.

The potato chips were huge first of all- which I wasn’t really expecting and they were covered in a thick layer of chocolate that out layered the chip itself about

The chocolate itself was seriously rich and unfortunately it just too much for the perfect salty, sweet, crunchy combo I was looking for. I couldn’t really get a good salty chip taste. However the more I ate, the closer I got to the chocolate potato chip perfection I was looking for. I realized that the curled chips had less chocolate and therefore more of the salty sweet balance. If only all of the chips could be curly it would really make these babies awesome! Oh well, it was a nice try for something different for Mr. T on his Valentines Day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Brew Friday- Brooklyn Brewery Cookie Jar Porter

After our wonderful brunch at Perilla Sunday we walked around the block to our favorite beer bar- The Blind Tiger. As usual they had a bunch of beers we’ve never tried before- the first of which was Brooklyn Brewery’s newest release the Cookie Jar Porter.

This beer is insanely dark in color, almost black and pours with no head at all. The smell was strong like toffee and cider.  At first I tasted a mix of Kaluha and coffee but then it mellowed out on the end and was almost chewy with a hint of raisins and chocolate. Once again Brooklyn Brewery has created something completely original and very tasty. I don’t think I could drink more than one of these beers since it’s quite sweet but I’d love to pair it with some Snicker Doodles or Oatmeal Cookies for dessert.  Another stand out beer we enjoyed that afternoon was a bottle of Sophie from Goose Island.

Goose Island has long been one of my favorite breweries and this beer was delightful. It poured a light gold with a pretty thick head that slowly dissipated. It had a strong citrus smell on the nose and a light sparkling feel on the mouth. The first sip just reminded me of summer. It was light and crisp with a hint of citrus on the nose and a smooth finish of vanilla. Apparently this is one of Goose Island’s wine barrel beers. It’s a blend of 80% fresh beer and 20% that’s been aged in wine barrels and fermented with wild yeast. This is an unbelievably easy beer to drink. We all agreed this will be our new summer beer. I believe it’s only a limited release right now- hopefully it will still be around when the temperatures rise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day Brunch at Perilla

Valentines Day fell on a Sunday this year and although Mr. T and I usually stay home on this stupid holiday we decided to go out and enjoy a meal. I knew places would be crazy for dinner but I assumed brunch would be somewhat subdued. When Harold Dieterle opened his NYC restaurant after Top Chef it was on the top of my list to try. Somehow I just never got around to it. So this past Sunday, Valentines Day, it finally seemed like the right time. I got a reservation for brunch at 1:15 and the restaurant was certainly doing a good business. All of the tables were full and most of the bar seats were filled as well. I’m not sure if it was Valentines Day or if this place is just always packed for brunch.

Since this was kind of a holiday I decided to celebrate a little with a glass of Cava Rose and Mr. T tried out the Harpoon Levitation IPA.

They started us off with some wonderful little cranberry muffins. I’m not sure what they did to the cranberries but they tasted like candy. It was definitely a little sweet for the morning but completely enjoyable. I even thought about asking for more of these but I knew we had a lot more food coming our way.

We decided to order three dishes and split everything. The main dish was the Spicy Duck Burger with jack cheese, avocado and spiced fries.

I’d heard about this being the “do not miss dish” at Perilla and I have to say I agree. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it before. It didn’t taste like a regular burger but it didn’t taste like duck either. I have no idea how to describe it but it was incredibly good. I was worried it would be too spicy for me in the morning but the chili’s and shiracha were subtle and the jack cheese was so strong it really mellowed out the burger. The fries were decent- but nothing to write home about. They could have been a little more uniform as some were super crispy and some were soft, but they were okay. I tried the addition of avocado to the burger but I think it was better on it’s own.

Our second dish was more of a side item the Bibb Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette. The waitress told me the salad was going to be small but it ended up being quite a decent sized portion. Very minimally dressed with only the lemon vinaigrette, it was a simple yet refreshing dish.

Our third order, which was basically our dessert, were the Vanilla Scented Doughnuts with Honey Crisp Apple Butter.

First of all these things were huge! I was expecting something like a doughnut hole but these were easily three times that size. I thought these were pretty good. I enjoyed that they were piping hot and the honey apple butter was tasty. Honestly though we were both so full at this point from the burger we only got through two doughnuts.

The total cost of our Valentine’s day meal with two drinks and three dishes was $57. Not too bad considering how expensive Perilla is for dinner (and that my Cava was the most expensive item at $13).

I really enjoyed Perilla. The space was comfortable, the service was good and the duck burger was fantastic. I would definitely return again for that. Mr. T and I finished our Valentine’s day with some excellent beers around the corner at Blind Tiger. And guess what I got as a gift! A home brewing kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop! I’m so excited. I can’t wait to start my first batch. Hopefully I don’t blow up our apartment in the process.


Monday, February 15, 2010

HB Burger

After a wonderful Friday night out with our newly married friends, I awoke to a cold and gray Saturday. It was one of those days when you look outside you just don’t feel like doing anything. It had already been quite a crazy week for us with the snow storm on Wednesday. I ended up having the day off and spent it enjoying some beers and watching the snow fall outside McSorleys. Needless to say my midweek drinking binge and a night out with friends before had completely zapped me of energy. We decided to cancel our usual weekend events of errands and went to a movie instead.

We trekked up to Times Square and saw Avatar at Empire 25. I had low expectations for the movie and ended up really enjoying it. It was the perfect way for us to relax for a few hours.

Since we were already in the area, we stopped over at one of my favorite bars in the world Jimmy’s Corner for a drink and some jazz music. I had been craving a burger all day and when I realized we were only one block away from HB burger it seemed like a no brainer.

HB burger got a lot of press last year when it first opened up. Many of the NY food critics put it up there in the ranks of Shake Shack and PJ Clarks. Would it live up to it’s reputation? We were about to find out.

We walked in right around 6:00 and got one of the last tables. The space was big and reminded me of all of the other Heartland Brewery’s I’d been to before. Our friendly waitress took our order and within minutes the food arrived.

I went for the classic HB burger with American cheese.

Each burger comes with lettuce and tomato on a potato roll. Picking up the burger I was surprised how heavy it was. It was a decent size but I wasn’t expecting the weight. Maybe it was so heavy because of what was inside- the fricken huge amount of juice!

Oh my lordy! Look at these moist innards. Within two bites of this burger I was covered in freely flowing juicy goodness. There was juice all over my hands, down my face and so much so that I needed to ask for more napkins because the two I had were soaked through. I was a mess…but a very happy mess at that. This burger was great. It had a nice char on top and the potato roll was a squishy perfect casing for the insanely juicy beef. The bottom of my roll became completely soaked through but somehow managed to stay together.

In my mind this was a great burger but two things could make it even better. One, add a little more salt to the outside. The char was nice but it could use a little bit more so the outside has a crisper exterior.

Two- add a pickle or serve it plain. I my opinion burgers need all three or nothing at all. I truly missed the pickle on this burger and ended up taking off the lettuce and tomato half way though. Maybe I’m a weirdo but that’s the way I think a burger should be. The fries were okay- they didn't come with the burger- they're extra. I would probably try the tater tots instead next time.

That being said, I really truly did enjoy this burger. Is it up their in the rankings of Shake Shack and PJ Clark’s? I wouldn’t go that far, but for only $7.50 in the Times Square area`this is truly an affordable and delicious dinner.

HB Burger

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day Treats from Black Hound Bakery

On our way back from our "psych up the Saints" Louisiana style brunch at Acme we were feeling something a little sweet. We had another hour or two before the Superbowl was going to start so we decided to walk home and stop by Black Hound bakery. They had their regular line of cakes in the window as well as some special ones just for Valentines day. We decided to buy two- Valentine Busy Bee Cake and the regular Almond Apricot.

The Busy Bee cake is one of their most popular items. It has three layers of chocolate cake, two layers of almond cake, two layers of chocolate mousse and a layer of marzipan. I probably wouldn't have ordered this cake on my own because of the marzipan but it really wasn't too bad. The marzipan was mostly on the bottom so I just avoided it and enjoyed the deep chocolaty deliciousness of the rest of the cake. Yum!

The Almond Apricot cake was wonderful as well but it too had marzipan! The cake itself was an almond marzipan cake! I can't believe I actually liked it! Maybe my intense dislike for this flavor is waning? I don't know. Maybe it was just that the white butter cream and apricot was so good it detracted me from the marzipan. Well anyway they were both quite delicious. Happy Valentines Day!

Black Hound Bakery

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sahadi's in Brooklyn Heights

I consider myself very lucky to have such an awesome specialty food store like Kalystuyans in my neighborhood. Maybe too lucky. I’ve been working in Brooklyn Heights for almost 5 years now and just yesterday I stopped inside of Sahadi’s.

Sahadi’s is a specialty shop that focuses on ingredients from the Far and Middle East. I couldn’t believe how much great stuff they had inside. Up front there was a bulk section with every kind of nut and seed imaginable, to the side there was an insane variety of cheeses and in the back there were more kinds of pate than I had ever seen in my life.

Look at all this crazy stuff.

After walking around the store for a while I noticed that a little further back, they also had a little kitchen selling different kinds of sandwiches and middle eastern salads. I was starving so I decided to order the Kafta Sandwich for lunch.

After waiting for about 5 minutes the woman behind the counter handed me my sandwich. It weighed a ton and only cost me $3.50 ?? That’s ridiculous. I brought it back to my office and dug into the behemoth pita pocket. There was no way to pick it up alone. It was bursting with so much stuff I needed two hands just to steady it so I could eat.

Unfortunately I didn’t really care for the taste. The lamb was kind of mealy and really undercooked. I like my lamb chops on the rare side but with a lamb sandwich I don’t really want to see too much pink. The meat here was bright pink inside and made me a little bit nervous.

The spices were a bit too much for me as well. I had almost instant indigestion and it stayed with me the entire day. I guess you get what you pay for when you’re only paying $3.50. So unfortunately the sandwich didn’t work out but I would go back to pick up some groceries. Their prices were reasonable and the variety really can’t be beat.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The New Domino's

I spent this weekend in Snowmaggedon. That’s right- Snowmaggedon. That’s the term they’re using for the insane blizzard that hit from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. This was the weekend we chose to move my friend out of her Pennsylvania home back to Buffalo. Not exactly the best choice you might say.

We had so little time to get everything done there was no stopping for a sit down dinner and the only place that delivered was Domino’s. What a great excuse to try out their new recipe.

We ordered a regular cheese pie and the first thing I noticed upon opening the box was how thick it looked. I like my pizza thin and crispy and this was super doughy. Not a good texture at all. We all dug in and everyone noticed how spicy the sauce was- like a marinara. After having a few more bites we all came to the same conclusion- this tasted exactly like breadsticks and sauce from Pizza Hut. Seriously. I think it may be the same exact recipe. I got no food satisfaction from this pizza at all. In fact the only thing I got from this pie was heartburn. I haven’t had Domino’s since my college years but I remember the original recipe being much better than this.

So our dinner was pretty bad but it gave us the energy we needed to carry on into the night. In the end we did it. Four girls, 24 hours to pack and move everything in over two feet of snow and we did it. I have the best friends in the world. We rock.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sundaes at Chikalicious Dessert Club

It was a freezing cold Wednesday night but for some reason I was seriously craving an ice cream sundae. Where to get a sundae that won’t completely chill my bones but satisfy my needs? Chikalicious Dessert Club of course.

I love Chikalicious. The main Dessert Bar is great for a luxurious dessert experience, but when you need your sweet fix quick, the shop across the street is the way to go. They have everything- caramel and smores cupcakes, green tea grand mariner cake, chocolate eclairs, vanilla custard and most importantly for me sundaes.  I decided to order the Espresso Ice Sundae.

First off, Chiklicious vanilla soft serve is awesome. I don’t know what they do but it’s really natural tasting and not super sweet. It’s possibly the best soft serve in the city. Then they top that with pearls of chocolate and a shot of decaf espresso. This is the perfect sundae to get on a chilly winter night. The espresso warms up your tummy while the ice cream and pearls satisfy the sweet tooth.

Mr. T ordered the other sundae they offered the Hot Fudge Vanilla Bean. They use the same soft serve and chocolate pearls as the espresso but add hot fudge, kataifi and toasted pistachios. Wow- this is really good. At first I thought I liked the espresso better but then I had a bite with the toasted pistachio. It rocked my world I have to say.

Both of these sundaes are excellent and are really a bang for the buck at only $4.95 a piece. That’s less than I spend at crappy Tasti-Dee-Lite. This is a great stop for sweets in the East Village.

ChikaLicious Dessert Club

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Signature Dish at John Michael's

Mr. T’s parents took us out to a wonderful dinner last week right before our trip to Mexico. We traveled up into his hometown and to the wonderful, comfy and quaint John Michael’s restaurant located in North Salem. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful with gorgeous stone walls at the entrance, polished wooden floors and more fireplaces than the eyes can see! We got seated right in front of the main fireplace and it was just lovely feeling the warmth of the flames on such a chilly winter day.

Now I’m only going to report on one dish basically because I was actually quite under the weather with a cold and didn’t feel like taking pictures or trying people’s dishes. However, even through my sickness, this appetizer was so good it would be criminal not to share with the rest of the world.

John Michael’s Signature Foiejitas.

So just what are foiejitas? Basically Hudson Valley Foie Gras with marinated red pepper and candied shallots inside a nutmeg crepe. Oh my goodness what a signature dish. I have never enjoyed foie gras this much in my life I don’t believe I ever will again.

Looking at the dish I expected it to be overtaken by the heavy, fat flavor of the foie gras. Instead it was a silky, sweet fajita with flavors blending together so harmoniously it was almost unbelievable. I was able to taste each element of this dish without one component overpowering another. What a fantastic dish!

The Foie was definitely the highlight of the meal but the rest was fantastic as well. The veal Chateaubriand was exceptionally moist and complemented by a sweet mission fig compote, the filet had an excellent charred outer crust and look at the presentation of the duck.

Someone is taking a lot of pride in their work and that someone is John Michael. At the end of the meal John Michael himself came out to make sure everyone enjoyed their meal. It was so nice to see a well known chef not only in the kitchen, but also ensuring his guests are pleased. It was a wonderful meal all around and I highly recommend it if your taking a trip upstate.

John Michael's

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Restaurant Week at Mesa Grill

I planned a vacation day Monday to recover from our trip and get in one last restaurant week meal. I had made reservations for Convivo weeks before, but upon waking up Monday morning I just didn’t feel like going. The thought of a fancy, formal restaurant just didn’t appeal to my state of mind. I wanted something fun and casual where I could just relax. So I looked online and swapped my Convivo reservation for Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. I’d been to Mesa Grill once before for brunch and while I enjoyed it, it certainly didn’t blow me away. However their RW lunch menu online really good so I decided to give it a shot.

The main dining room was almost completely full when I entered around 12:30 and the bar filled up within minutes of my being seated. Maybe since the restaurant got full so quickly the poor bartender was slammed. It took a good 10 minutes to get a menu and another 10 minutes to finally place my food order. Luckily my appetizer came out within seconds of ordering- Sophie’s Chopped Salad.

As you all know I love salad but I probably should have asked for a description of this dish before ordering. I had one idea of a chopped salad in my head and this was very different. There was hardly any lettuce at all. It was filled with little square cubes of cheese, tortilla chips, three kinds of beans and a ton of tomatoes. I don’t really care for beans too much and the cheese was a little overpowering. I ended up picking out the little bits of lettuce and leaving behind the rest.

Unsatisfied with my salad, I ended up eating two pieces of bread from the basket, a French roll and a bluecorn- jalapeño muffin. The French roll was great- toasty and warm inside perfect for a big slab of butter. The muffin on the other hand was kind of a toss up. At first I hated it. The jalapeño section was just too spicy for me on its own. However taking a bite from each side at once proved to be wonderful. I really enjoyed the sweet and spicy together and I ended up eating the whole thing.

For my main I ordered the Grilled Mahi Mahi with Roasted Pinapple- Cascabel Chile Sauce, Caramelized Pineapple-Green Onion Salsa and Creamy Green Chili Rice.

This kind of went the same way as the muffin. At first the outside of the fish tasted too charred and overpowering. However the more I ate, and the more chili sauce I added to the dish the better it got. The rice it came with was so creamy and delicious it was the perfect addition to the strong char. It ended up being quite a solid little entrée.

For my dessert I got the Chocolate Peanut Butter Flan with Kaluha Whipped Cream.

Wow- this dessert was rich. I mean seriously rich. Thank goodness for the addition of the salty peanuts and Kaluha Cream. The flan alone would have been way to dense in chocolate for my blood. As it was I couldn’t finish the dessert, but it was a pleasant end to the meal.

Now my gripes- the wait! I had to wait another 25 minutes after my entrée was cleared for dessert! In fact, the poor slammed bartender ended up going all the way to the back and getting it herself finally, instead of the usual waiters who had been serving me all meal. There did not seem to be good communication between the kitchen and the front. I didn’t end up leaving my lunch until 2:15 which is almost two hours long. That’s a lot of time for a solo lunch. It’s the same problem I had at Aureole. Maybe it’s a restaurant week thing?

However everyone working was so friendly and gracious it was hard to get too upset. They score points for being apologetic which is nice. Overall it was a solid meal- definitely not the best restaurant week meal I’ve ever had but far from the worst. If I was ever craving a Tex-mex style meal again I would return. Just maybe not when they’re so busy.

Mesa Grill

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back from Mexico!!!!

Mr. T and I just returned from a wonderful, albeit quick, trip to Mexico yesterday. Both of us are absolutely exhausted but had such a fun time. We had more Pacificos and Miami Vices than one should probably consume in a lifetime and lots of tasty food.

This is actually some fish tacos we got before we were actually in Mexico at the Houston airport. They were surprisingly tasty. Nothing as good as we had in the actual vacation spot but good none the less.

The highlight of our food this trip was the awesome fried ice cream at our resort. Luckily we will be going back exactly one year and 22 days from today for our wedding (that will be the only time I count the days again...promise)

Yes we signed our contract and everything is a go for our destination wedding. Well actually nothing is done yet but at least we booked the hotel! Now we need to get our butts in gear and get all the planning done. Mexico we're coming!