Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Defonte's- Another Sandwich Winner

Have I ever mentioned how much I love having Defonte's in my neighborhood now? In case I haven't...I LOVE having Defonte's in my neighborhood! Man those guys have really brought the level of sandwich awesomeness (is that even a word?) to a whole new level. I love their Roast Beef sandwich so much it's hard not to order it every time I stop in. Somehow I managed to pry my eyes way from that luscious roast and order their Hot Turkey instead.

They slice off some thin layers of roasted turkey which has been stewing in juices, through on some delicious swiss cheese, the classic fried eggplant and then pour some hot au jus on a smushy white roll. That's it. Nothing flashy, nothing crazy just some great sandwich goodness. I sill have yet to find a sandwich here I don't absolutely love. It's just sandwich perfection. Oh and Nicky still has the Bill's hat on. That's what I'm talking about.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whoopie Cookie

I was walking around midtown Sunday and just happened to walk by their branch of Magnolia Bakery. Never passing up an opportunity to indulge in some sweets I went inside and tried out something new. This is Magnolia's Whoopie Cookie.

Two brown sugar cookies are held together by a thick, rich layer of maple butter cream icing. If you are a fan of super sweet this is just for you. The cookies were extremely fresh with a slight chew in the middle and the frosting was ridiculously sweet. Although I really enjoyed the whoopie the maple buttercream was a little bit too much for me. I think I would have enjoyed a simple vanilla instead. The brown sugar and maple were almost a flavor overload. Luckily I also purchased a cupcake as well so all of my sweet needs were meet!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Treats at Corrado Corrado Bakery

After an evening of hopping around the West Village I was in serious need of an espresso and some sugar. Luckily Corrado bakery happens to be right near Kettle of Fish and those dreamy sweets in the window were calling my name. I ordered a double espresso, some macaroons and threw in a cupcake at the end just for good measure.

The espresso was excellent but I’m still a little on the fence about the sweets. The Red Velvet cupcake was good. The frosting was more of a butter cream than the usual cream cheese and the cake was tasty. However the cupcake was cold. It was almost as if the pastries had been sitting in a chilled display case. The coldness made the cake very dense and the true flavors really were numbed by the temperature.

The same was true for the macaroons. These too were much to cold to enjoy the usual flaky texture of the treat. I found the Pistachio and Strawberry fillings to be overly sweet but the Coffee Macaroon was spot on.

So the final verdict is mixed. Cold pastries really don’t make the cut but the espresso and coffee macaroon were so good it makes me think. Stick with coffee centered items here and I think you’ll enjoy yourself. Then head over to Rocco’s for your sweet fix.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Carl's at Yankee Stadium

So we made it to Yankee Stadium for the second home game this year. I love getting in a game early. I just can’t truly get into a new season until I’ve felt the sun shine on my face and smelled the glorious stadium odors of hot dogs, peanuts and frothy beer. Of course I come to watch the Yankees play as well- I just get excited about the food.

The first thing I saw new this year was a stand with a good variety of beers on tap and in bottle that was NOT Beers of the World. Look at that- Goose Island IPA! On Draft!!

I was so excited we tried to grab one right before the start of the game but lo and behold they were sold out! Sold out of your draft beer already! On the second day of play before the game even began! That’s just crazy. Did they only order one keg for the season? Ridiculous. I had to settle for a Goose Island Honkers Ale. Still good but no IPA.

For food I decided to try out Carl’s Cheese steaks. The original Carl’s is right by my apartment so I’ve had it a bunch of times. Part of me wanted to see if it would be as good and part of me really just wanted a cheese steak.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of cheese on the sandwich. I hardly saw any of that yellow processed whiz at all! Luckily I noticed before leaving the stand and was able to score a side of sauce from the cashier. However the extra cheese was cold and hard which made it very difficult to spread on the sandwich.

The meat was okay- a little on the dry side and the roll was nice and crusty. However I really didn’t enjoy this sandwich. It seemed kind of stale, like it had been sitting around for a awhile and the whole cheese, meat and bread ratio was all off. Maybe I got one that had been sitting around a while. Next time I’m sticking with the hot dog.

So the sandwich wasn’t great, they ran out of Goose Island and the Yankees lost. Even with all of that it was nice to sit in the sun and watch baseball again. We got a long season ahead of us.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

S'Mac Mac and Cheese

Remember S’Mac? I mentioned it briefly during my review of quite possibly the most gluttonous day of my life here . Well there was so much food eating going on that day I never gave it a proper review and it truly deserves one.

S’Mac is located in the East Village right on a 12th street near 1st avenue. It’s quite a cute and cozy little restaurant that most people enjoy dining at. However they go a little too far for me with the whole mac and cheese décor. I really don’t enjoy the color orange too much and this place is covered in it! Walls, chairs, food- Orange! Ugh. Luckily I live close enough to get S’Mac delivered right to my door. See how I compensate for my insane orange phobia :)

The other night we ordered two pans- the all America and the Alpine. Let’s start with the All America.

This is probably along the lines of what you would picture when someone mentions mac and cheese. Tons of cooked elbow macaroni topped with a blend of American and cheddar cheeses.

The top crust of cheddar cheese adds a nice crunch to the dish while the melty American adds into the creamy factor. This is one awesome macaroni and cheese. An upscale version of the classic “Out of the Box” my Mom used to make and oh so much better.

The Alpine is a little different. Going more towards a Swiss style they blend the elbow macaroni with Gruyere cheese and slab bacon.

At first I didn’t like this one. I thought it was kind of boring. The cheese wasn’t as strong as I was expecting and the bacon felt a little low on the salt. However once I got to more of the middle of the dish it started to fall into place. Here the cheese and bacon were much more prevalent and the chewy stringy gruyere goodness really began to shine.

Just looking at this shot makes me want to dive into another bowl. Again-not your mom’s mac and cheese but really, really good.

Overall if your craving some comfort food S’Mac is always a good bet. I think my favorite is still the Napoletana with tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella, but they all have a special place in my heart. Now if they would just tone down the décor I might go inside.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Live Bait

Yeah that’s right- that’s a picture of a young Jim Kelly.

Why am I posting this here on my food blog? Because his picture hangs inside the bar Live Bait which has a pretty rocking happy hour special. $5 will get you a ¼ pound of peel and eat shrimp, a basket of extra crunchy fried hush puppies or some big meaty honey bbq wings which I wrote about here. That’s just some of the special food items at Live Bait. And a nice side of Jim Kelly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Getting that Summer Time Itch Yet?

I sure am. And it started all last week when gorgeous weather prompted a trip to the Frying Pan. That's right- it's not fully open until May 1st but when the temperature hits 70 degrees they open the gate and it's time for drinking on the water. Look at this great summer spread.

Since it's not fully open until May this is about all the food options you'll get right now. My awesome Cesar salad was unavailable, as well as some of the usual beer choices, but if your down for a bucket of Coronas and some classic grilling fare- why wait. Get on over and enjoy every second of the sun on the Hudson River.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Damn Fine Doughnuts at Peter Pan.

It was cool and crisp last Saturday- a great day for putting in a nice long walk around the city. We decided to take the train out to Greenpoint and explore the neighborhood. Greenpoint is the northern most neighborhood in Brooklyn. We explored here about two years ago and I fell in love with the beautiful river views, the abundance of Polish speaking locals and cute little bars and restaurants. Last time I had somehow walked past maybe one of the best bakeries in the borough- Peter Pan.

How could I have walked past this place! Big fluffy doughnuts, custard oozing cakes and sugary cinnamon turnovers fill the front window practically screaming at passersby to stop in for a treat. There were so many options but we still had a big day of eating ahead so I limited myself to only two.

First up was their take on the classic Boston Creme. Just looking at this doughnut you can see there is waaaaay more custardy goodness than you find in most doughnuts. Score one for me! The doughnut was incredibly fresh with pillowy light dough, creamy smooth chocolate glaze and that wonderful buttery custard. I may never be able to have a regular Boston Creme doughnut ever again.

The second doughnut was the Red Velvet. I wish I had gotten a shot of the bright red cake inside but this little guy was too tasty to stop eating long enough to take a shot. Covered with a light sweet glaze the crisp crunchy peaks and a insanely delicious cakey innards make this one of my top doughnuts ever. I always think of doughnut more like dessert type food and never understood the morning allure. For some reason this doughnut made me understand. Paired with a steaming cup of coffee and the morning paper I think this would make for an excellent start to the day. Plus I got these two doughnuts and a cup of Joe for under $3.00. What a deal!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter Brunch at Zum!

I love Easter Sunday. Growing up it was always such a fun day filled with Easter egg hunts, good food and lots of family. Unfortunately Mr. T and I were all alone this year but we still wanted to do something a little special so walked down to Zum Schneider for a lovely Easter Brunch

Zum was in the festive spirit with Easter Egg trees on the bar, Easter candy stashed in the potted trees and Easter Egg baskets on each table. We ordered up a couple tasty liters of beer and then perused their specials menu for the day.

They were doing two Easter dishes for the holiday- one ham and one lamb. I was conflicted. I grew up having ham on Easter but in my older years I’ve been gravitating to the lamb on Easter. It was a tough choice. After much heming and hawing from me (and frustrated hungry aggravation from Mr. T) we settled on splitting the Easter Lamb.

Zum Schneider has never been known to give anything smaller than a massive portion of food and this Easter dish was no different. An enormous lamb shank that had been braising in a red wine sauce was accompanied by some green beans and a gratin potato. The lamb had a wonderfully crispy skin and fall of the bone tender meat inside. A meat shank is a little like the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I thought we were done a piece of fatty innards would be moved aside to reveal more and more moist juicy deliciousness.

Although the lamb was the star of the show the sides were right up there in terms of flavor. The green beans must have been soaking in a ton of butter because they were absolutely heavenly and the potato gratin? Don’t get me started. Thin slices of crispy potato with layers upon layers of rich buttery cheese oozing out between each and every one. OMG I was so full after this rich meal I thought I was going to burst.

We were both too full to move right away so we stuck around and decided to try out one of their special beers for Starkbierzeit (strong beer festival). Here’s a look at the festival menu:

I love the Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen so I ordered their strong beer Vitus.

I was surprised to see how similar this was to their regular Hefeweisen. Same strong yeasty smell and big fluffy head with a slightly clearer golden color than the former. For a strong beer this was incredibly crisp and refreshing. Totally unlike any other Weizenbock I have tried before this is probably one of the best I’ve ever had. Mr. T ordered the Weihenstephaner Korbin and while it was lower in alcohol than my beer it was incredibly rich and heavy. Sometimes I love those complex beers but on a gorgeous sunny day I was really feeling the crispy thirst quenching Vitus.

On the way home we enjoyed the beautiful flowers and of course stopped into Chikalicious for dessert. An espresso shot sundae for me and some cupcakes for Mr. T and we were all set. What a wonderful way to spend an Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Whiskey Tavern

Mr. T and I found ourselves wandering around Chinatown the other day enjoying the nice spring weather. Unfortunately the basketball games were going to start soon so we had to abandon the beautiful weather and head to a bar stat to watch the action.

Since we were already in Chinatown we decided to head over to an old favorite- Whiskey Tavern. We came to this bar quite a bit when they first opened about a year or so ago. It’s not very big inside but has a great TV set up and a nice patio in the back perfect for outdoor drinking in the summertime.

One of the best things about this place is the friendly bartenders. They always seem to remember your name and always add simple little touches like cozies for your beer.

We were already planning to have quite a few beers, so why not go all out and be extra unhealthy with an order of tater tots covered in cheese.

That’s right- cheese covered tots. This is what drinking a lot of beers does to you. Suddenly flash frozen potato bites covered in processed meted cheese taste amazing. I have to admit they really hit the spot. Crispy, salty, cheesey- what’s not to love! It’s a beer’s best friend!

They also gave us a free order of the house specialty fried pickles.

Thank goodness we didn’t pay for these because I found them pretty disgusting. The briny pickle flavor just seemed off putting with the crunchy out skin. Although the dipping sauce made it a little more enjoyable this is definitely not something I would ever order. However the fried pickles kind of enhanced the fun laid back attitude of the bar. I highly suggest this as a place to put back a few beers and relax with friends. Even if you’re not a big bar food fan. You can always just pop around the corner and pick up some pork buns and dumplings and then come right back to hang out. There’s a little something for everyone in the oasis of Whiskey Tavern.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza?

I was in Monty’s the other day out in Brooklyn for lunch. I was heading towards my usual salad line when something caught my eye. Pizza. Not just any pizza but a new special Buffalo Chicken pizza. I have to admit I found the combination both disgusting and intriguing at the same time. It just looked so weird. I had to have a slice. I ordered one up and added on a regular slice as well -not because I’m a pig but just in case the Buffalo didn’t go well (yeah right).

The Buffalo pizza was interesting. Big chunks of chicken were plopped on top of the cheese and instead of tomato sauce it was covered in hot wing sauce. The first bite I absolutely hated. Something about the texture and combination just really revolted me. Then I tried a few more bites and found myself kind of enjoying the flavor of the sauce. Then about halfway through it just got to be too much. The pizza was way too thick and the mozzarella and hot wing sauce just didn’t go together. The best part about this slice actually was the crust. There were big puffy bubbles of extra crispy dough with a little bit of burnt cheese on the top. I ended up just eating the crust and leaving the rest.

Onto the regular slice. I usually enjoy Monty’s regular pizza but I think this was an off day. Their pizza is always thin, which I enjoy, but today it was downright flimsy. It was covered in a big pool of oil and when I tried to pick it up, I had to use two hands to prevent the sagging dough from losing all of its cheese. The crust was pretty weak as well. There were no big puffy bubbles but a small brittle end that just didn’t add anything to my pizza experience. The sauce and cheese still had that awesome Monty’s sweet flavor but the pizza needed a little more foundation.

So in conclusion- pizza is great. Buffalo wings are great. Let’s just keep these great things separate.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Dyngus Day!!!

Hopefully everyone had a nice Easter and can take some time today to enjoy the lovely weather and have a cocktail or two in honor of this holiday. I recommend heading to Angel's Share tonight for one of their signature drinks.

Mr. T always orders the same thing- The Groovy.

It's actually not listed on their menu anymore but they'll whip one up if you ask. Shiso leaves and yuzu make for quite the crisp refreshing cocktail. I usually order a lychee based drink, Serenity, but they had a list of new spring cocktails so I decided to try one out.

This is the Spring Swing. To be honest I'm not sure exactly what was in it but it was awesome. Smooth enough to go down easy but with enough bite at the end to know you better watch yourself.

So enjoy this lovely day and grab some pussy whillows somewhere for your significant other. Happy Dyngus Day!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A quick slice at the “Original” Rays Pizza

There’s Rays Pizza, Famous Rays, Original Rays, Famous Original Rays, etc. Who knows which one is truly the first Rays pizza. Supposedly it’s the Ray’s on Prince Street, where I found myself walking by early Saturday afternoon. I had just eaten breakfast about an hour before but I didn’t feel like I could pass up this monumental opportunity. I mean come on. I’ve lived in NYC for almost 10 years now and I still haven’t the first Ray’s! What’s wrong with me!

Ray’s Pizza has one side with tables and waiter service and one side that’s pick up only. I got into the service line and waited as the pizza guy shouted orders and threw up slices of pizza in a frenzied but efficient manner. Within about 5 minutes I was standing outside slice of pizza in hand.

Upon first glance ray’s pizza doesn’t look very different than any of the other Ray’s pizzas I’ve had in my life. And you know what- it doesn’t taste much different either.

The crust was nice and crisp with a good slightly charred underskirt. The cheese wasn’t very oily which was nice, but I thought the slice could use a little extra sauce.

Overall it was a decent slice of pizza. Not one I would ever go out of my way for but a decent one indeed. For a slice joint in SOHO it’s alright. For whole pizzas I would still rather give my money to Lombardi’s in the area.