Monthly Archives: August 2010

Puppies, Tacos, and Pie, Oh My!

Two specific things will get me out of bed and on a train to a far off land called Brooklyn on a Sunday morning: food and puppies. Not necessarily in that order. So when my lovely friend Ben invited me out to Park Slope for tacos, pie by the slice, and quality time with his golden retriever puppy, I was all about it.

Carlin! Who couldn't love that little furry face?

Reyes Deli and Grocery 4th Avenue between 14th Street and 15th Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY. This tiny deli and Mexican grocery offers up an incredible array of tacos, including chicken, pork, beef, and veggie. There is one man behind a stove, whipping up amazing tacos for only $2, and they are huge. Look at these beauties, and then make your way to Reyes. They offer eat in, take out, or delivery.

Crispy pork taco with cilantro and white onion

Chicken tacos

Four and Twenty Blackbirds 3rd Avenue and 8th Street, Park Slope/Gowanus, NY. This new little pie shop offers up seasonal flavors in an adorable, high-ceilinged, multi-windowed space with faded gold paint on the walls and large wooden communal tables. The salted caramel apple pie (pictured yesterday!) was a standout, with crisp apples packed tightly together in a lightly salted crust. I can’t wait to go back to this place place in the fall when they serve up bourbon sweet potato pie and honeyed pumpkin.

Nectarine plum crumble

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Farewell, Sweet Summer

Happy Monday, dear readers. This is the last week of August! Can you even believe how fast this disgustingly hot summer went? I have some tasty posts about tacos and pie for you (with maybe a puppy thrown in?) but all that’s to come tomorrow. Now, to whet your whistle:

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Weekend roundup!

Happy Friday, my sweets! This weekend I have big plans to visit Park Slope and eat tacos and pie (more on that Monday), but for now a quick roundup of things that are on my radar at the moment.

c/o The Kitchn

How gorg is this cake? And it’s just a watermelon. Seriously.

Ever heard of fried margaritas? Fried Pop Tarts? Texas Fried Frito Pie? I hate to say “Hey Texas, this is why you’re fat” but well… if the shoe fits…

Have you heard of Eataly? Oooh be still my heart! I can’t wait to go.

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza is opening a second location in Chelsea! The soon-to-open (don’t worry, I’ll give you an exact date when it surfaces) restaurant will be located on West 17th St and 10th Avenue. You can sit down, you can have a glass of wine, and hoover in multiple slices of the spinach artichoke pie all dainty like at a table with a fork and knife. Class-E.

Did you know that Tuesday, August 24 was National Peach Pie Day and yesterday was National Take-A-Shot-At-Lunch Day? Okay, that last one might’ve been a joke but doesn’t that sound like a nice little warm-fuzzy to ease you into an afternoon at the office? I’m thinking of rain-checking and celebrating next week instead.

This week felt like fall, and the Dublin-like weather forced me to eat half a stick of Kerrygold butter. If you enjoy butter, and you have never had Kerrygold, get off your duff right this minute and go to your grocery store and buy some. And then sit back down on your duff, cut yourself a fat slice of brown bread, and go to town (a little cold-weather-weight never killed anyone). It’s hard to describe why this butter is so incredible, but I’m telling you you won’t be sorry.

That’s all for the week, dear readers. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

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Midtown Reprieve

If I had a nickel for every time I complained about midtown lunch, I could quit my job. I could quit my job and send myself to culinary school… and then I could open my own bakery in San Francisco and buy a houseboat and sit on the porch every night and look out over the water with my trusty Bernese Mountain Dog by my side…

Ahem.

So. Midtown lunch. A welcome break in the form of burgers, coming at you September 7.

4food East 40th St and Madison Avenue, New York, NY. I was lucky enough (thanks, Shannon!!) to attend a special pre-opening event at 4food, a brand new spot in Manhattan that offers a high-tech atmosphere with endless burger options. Their slogan is “De-junking fast food” and with a dizzying array of burger options. I won’t bore you with a list here, but you should check out their “build a burger” website and let the drooling commence.

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On the menu:
Pork burger on a pumpernickel roll with avocado chili mango and gruyere cheese
Square roots: crispy sweet potato, Idaho potato, and purple potato squares with sweet chili sauce
Peach and rosehip iced tea with fresh peaches

Verdict: Ahhhh SO good! The space is warehouse-like with a giant screen on the first floor that scrolls with a live Twitter feed. The staff walks around the restaurant with iPads to ask how you’re doing, help you order, and offer up suggestions. It’s like a diner of the future! My pork burger was moist and flavorful, and the toppings were a nice complement to the spicy pork. The packaging of the burger and the Square Roots (a take on French fries) boasts that nothing in the place is deep fried. The Roots are baked and then probably pan fried in oil, but “nothing deep fried” makes me feel like I could be eating carrots, and same diff, right? At least that’s what I will tell myself when I visit 4food every other Monday.

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Everything’s Bigger at Hill Country

This is a story of one girl’s quest for amazing BBQ ribs in New York City. I was told that Hill Country had “Texas-style BBQ” by a woman I met at The Brooklyn Kitchen condiments class who has toured the country and tasted BBQ all over. I figured this was a solid recommendation.

Hill Country 26th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, New York, NY. Hill Country is, as mentioned, Texas-style BBQ in a honky-tonk setting. This is a place that sells its own t-shirts at the front register if that’s any indication of the atmosphere. When you sit down at Hill Country they hand you a card with all the menu items, and then you have to visit the meat counter, the sides counter, and the dessert counter to order what you want. You can order as little or as much as you want, from a single slice of brisket and single pork ribs, to a whole game hen and “feed the family” sized mashed potatoes. The ambiance is a down home, down country, honky-tonk, kick up your heels kitsch-fest. But somehow it feels authentic.

On the menu:
Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes
Corn bread
Macaroni and cheese
Roasted game hen
Pork ribs
Moist brisket
Apple ginger cupcake
PB&J cupcake

Verdict: Holy brisket. I think this is what Texas does right. The ribs were satisfactory, and still nothing to write home about, but holy mackerel, the brisket. It was delicious. And Hill Country has three different types of brisket on the menu, so I GUESS I have to go back again to try the other two. Another standout menu item was the game hen. It was incredibly moist and roasted to perfection with a crispy skin. It should also be noted that Hill Country is perfect for big groups. The pickiest (or cheapest) member of your party can literally order one single pork rib and a beer if they feel like it, and separate checks are a done deal from the start. The service is attentive, the atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming, and the food was decadent and delicious. I almost wanted to start throwin’ around “y’all”s.

Almost.

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Braving the Rain

You know you’re a dedicated food writer (or just fat) when you brave torrential downpours and hurricane winds for an ice cream festival at South Street Seaport.

A tiny cone of lemon verbena

The New Amsterdam Market is one of many markets in New York City that offers locally grown produce and other local edible goodies, such as wine, maple syrup, ice cream, and cheese. All the vendors come from the North East each weekend and bring their delicious stuff with them. They host special events and festivals all the time, so it’s worth checking back to their website to find out what’s on the menu for the fall.

Sunday’s ice cream festival featured New York staples such as Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream and MilkMade (mentioned here!), as well as Early Bird Cookery, Roberta’s, The Bent Spoon, and Marlow & Daughters. $20 got me 6 tiny cones of incredibly innovative flavors, some better than others.

Some bizarro but incredible flavors from Early Bird Cookery

Roasted peach with black pepper (by far the day’s winner! who knew sweet peaches with a spicy after taste of black pepper would be so divine?!)
Beet
Hay (yes… HAY) with local honey
Ginger and blackberry
Bourbon vanilla with sea salt caramel (more than 1 cone of this and I would’ve been drunk)
Fresh ricotta
Nectarine sorbet
Lemon verbena

The stand out flavors were the roasted peach with black pepper, as mentioned, the nectarine sorbet, and the fresh ricotta with an incredibly thick and creamy texture and perfect cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice blend. The rain was pouring down but I was radiating sunshine from within. See? That’s a happy face.

Double fisting!

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It’s a Wonderful Town

New York has some characters. Amidst the tourists, the businessmen, the supermodels, and the college kids live some crazy cats, and because New York is a much cleaner, safer town than it used to be, those cats are occasionally hard to spot. Enter Shopsins.

Shopsins Essex Street Market, 120 Essex Street (corner of Essex and Delancey), New York. Shopsins is a tiny diner that used to be located in the West Village and relocated to a stall in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. Kenny Shopsin, the owner, has some bizarre rules: no parties over 4 people, no cell phone calls, and he has the right to kick you out whenever he feels like it. He hates the press and notoriously denies interviews. As soon as our waiter, Kenny’s son, went back into the kitchen I snuck this picture. The last thing I wanted was to be kicked out before I got my RIDICULOUS meal.

The Leeky Boat

On the menu:

Leeky Boat: fried potato skins filled with scrambled eggs, leeks, and gruyere
Slutty Cakes: pancakes made with pumpkin, pistachios, and peanut butter
Strider: maple veggie sausage, eggs, and avocado on an English muffin

Verdict: I. Love. This. Place. Word has it, Kenny Shopsin loves his loyal, regular customers and I want to be one! When I was sitting at the tiny table, waiting for my crazy incredible meal to be delivered, Kenny himself sat down outside the stall front and yelled out to someone in the kitchen, “WHAT KIND OF F***ING VEGETABLES DON’T THEY LIKE?!” If you’re looking for a New York character, this is it. Think Soup Nazi. And the food was incredible. The fried potato skins were crisped to perfection with the silky smooth blend of leeks and cheese stuffed inside, and the Slutty Cakes (if I was stuffed with pumpkin, peanut butter, and pistachios I’d probably be pretty popular, too) were to DIE for. The cakes themselves were crisp on the outside and the filling (who’da thunk it!) was an incredible blend of salty, sweet flavors. And the kicker? Each plate of pancakes is served with a tiny bottle of REAL maple syrup. Be still my heart.

The real draw of this place, outside of the character who runs it, is the extensive menu. Coconut cinnamon pancakes, hash with eggs and toast over “white trash” gumbo, the Quack (BBQ duck drumettes with chili cheese fries, eggs, and toast), MAC AND CHEESE PANCAKES!, bread pudding French toast, corn fried catfish with gumbo… Does any of this sound good to you? Over 900 menu items. If you can’t find something to love, then I don’t want to know you. There I said it.

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