Cake @ Batch…Pizza @ Artichoke…Eternal Happiness @ Abraço

Sunday, March 30, 2008 8comments No tags Permalink 0

I. Batch

An afternoon pause between Sunday errands found me at the entrance of Pichet Ong’s new sweet shop, Batch.

Chef Pichet and two others were doing brisk business as I ducked in from the wind and into an interior of shiny deep red walls, a duo of chandeliers flecked in shimmering crystals, and an open kitchen. Half a dozen people crowded the counter, eyeing whimsical displays of dainty sweets – the shop flirts a fine line between cake studio and jewelry store.

Options are aplenty, running amok from rainbow of puddings, tiny cookies and biscotti, cupcakes aplenty. Flavours? Spiced chocolate, matcha frostings, sesame, calamansi, mango and chai. Also noticed that they carry organic milk from Manhattan Milk, a brand I’ve never seen before. Will make note to try on my next visit (hopefully on a warmer day :).

Ever the fan of caphe suda, I called a slice of the Vietmanese Coffee Cake my own, and took it to a bench around the corner. Tender crumb, studded with chopped walnuts and a tangle of sweet raisins, the cake was justly moist and a fine afternoon treat. However, the flavour of caphe suda was faint at best, barely noticeable save for a coffee-eque hint on the tongue – a slight disappointment.

II. Artichoke

Via a link from Kathryn (thank you! :), I made a late night trek with Shann and Darien to Artichoke up on 14th Street. The small storefront is standing room only, but that doesn’t haze customers who kept this place busy even near the midnight hours.

A few pies were out – plain slices and Sicilian pizzas. We even spotted a luscious looking tray of stuffed artichokes. At first I though it would be difficult to make a decision, but the second a fresh spinach & artichoke pie slid out the oven, there was no need for second thought. Half the pie was immediately bought by the two girls next to us, and I eagerly claimed a slice from the remaining half.

$3 buys a generous wedge, still emitting steam, with cheese oozing off edges of the paper plate. It’s a hefty pizza, the hearty crust nicely charred in just the right spots. Check out an upskirt shot here. I’ve never had a pizza quite like this. It’s not simply cheese pizza with a topping of spinach and artichoke but more akin to spinach-artichoke dip smooooothered, and I mean smooothered on top a wonderful dough. Every bite yields a crazy mass of hot melty cheese bathed in tangles of chopped spinach and artichokes, understandably competing for attention with the addictively crisp crust. One slice makes for a filling meal, and there could be no better pairing than an ice cold Coke, in a glass bottle of course ;)

III. Abraço

(photo by Don)

I think it’s fair to say by now that no weekend is complete without a minimum of three trips to Abraço.

It was the Sparkling Espresso for me this morning, made with Lurisia, while Darien enjoyed an Almond Milk Latte. Jamie’s upped the almond potency of this milk which should make everyone in the world a million times happier.

We only planned to come for morning drinks, but our taste buds were easily swayed when the fellows next to us offered a taste of the Olive Shortbread. An wedge of Olive Shortbread quickly evolved into shortbread and an order of the Ricotta Pain Perdu. The shortbread is quite possibly the best sweet I’ve had at Abraço, all at one encompassing the elements of sweet and savoury, crispy-light and buttery with little olive nuggets. I wish I could tuck an endless supply of this into my red coat pocket.

An afternoon return but a few hours later, yielded a savoury delight of Greenmarket potatoes, fried to order, with a sprinkle of salt much similar to Maldon. The highlight though, was Elizabeth’s house-made ketchup, sweet and tangy just so, positively luscious with a slightly chunky texture.

That’s Sunday for you – hope everyone is well :)

Batch
150 W 10th Street
NY, NY 10014
(212) 929-0250

Artichoke
328 East 14th Street
NY, NY 10003
(212) 228-2004

Abraço
86 East 7th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 388-9731

Shots From: Dinner at Don’s #4

Friday, March 28, 2008 8comments No tags Permalink 0


Crimini Mushroom Veal Soup, Crème Fraîche

We picked up crimini mushrooms and Ronnybrook crème fraîche from the Greenmarket earlier in the morning. Don conveniently had a supply of the most lusty veal stock in the fridge. The result? A soup was so rich, so thick, that it could easily passed for a mushroom & veal sauce. He left the soup on the chunky side, opting not to strain – I enjoy it this way, more texture, bits of mushroom in every spoonful. Pour over a warm bowl of pasta and voila, you have a meal in itself! I found myself licking the bowl after a second helping and a bit more crème fraîche than my doctor would recommend, hankering for a baguette to soak it up.

The day before, I said, “lets eat pasta.”
Don said, “we’ll make pasta.”
It’s kind of like magic :)

Flour + Tello’s yolks + Ronnybrook heavy cream

Busy at work. I could watch them make pasta forever…

…cutting the pasta…

Chairs serve more than one use!

Greenmarket lamb – braised with tomatoes, garlic, and shallots.

Parpadelle, Lamb Ragu, Parmesan

I’ve had plenty of bad pasta, lots of decent pasta, but oh man, this was only the second time in my life when I’ve tasted fresh pasta…I think it’s perfectly fair to say I never want to turn back again. The hearty lamb ragu was insane – melting into the bowls of parpadelle, slippery and tender on your mouth. There was practically no need to chew the lamb as it simply teased for a second before falling apart, with tangles of garlic and shallots. If it were possible to hug food, this would be a dish I want to hug, for it oozes warmth and comfort like no other. Generous gratings of aged parmesan, fresh basil and a silver fork was all we needed to bring the dish full circle. A few glasses of wine didn’t hurt.

Warm Dark Chocolate Brownies, Crème Fraîche

Manhattans

If I could eat like this every night, I just might never want to dine out again :)

Abraço, RED BIKE, and Ippudo!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11comments No tags Permalink 0


Am off to pick up laundry in a minute, but…today’s (un-work-related day) was quite exciting – I want to make a quick post at the very least. Don was running a tad late for our meeting on 6th Street, so I popped in at Abraço for an espresso macchiato.

Barely a minute after I stepped in, the door opened once more and I spotted a familiar face – it was John! Yay! He carried a plastic bag, the contents of which Jamie proceeded to use in creating a Shakarati, a wondrously sweet shaken concoction of espresso and amaretto. This photo was taken a minute after the drink was poured into the glass, but I wish you were there to see it the moment Jamie poured it out of the shaker, and watch the three distinct layers unravel into the clear glass. The foamy head and two tones of brown layered beneath. I’d gladly have a Shakarati replace my morning espresso…though I dare not show up to work sloshy, no? ;) Don arrived five minutes later and we stayed for a bit more. Leaning against the counter, I listened to the conversations around me, did less of the chatting and more of the musing and silent marveling over the macchiato. It was funny. Since busy season started, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to see the sun on a weekday, for we don’t take lunch breaks and the office room is sadly windowless. So the opportunity to be in the East Village on a Tuesday afternoon, warm drink in hand, good company, far from computer screens and excel documents was kind of…crazy, ridiculous? All of the above? Awesome.

Don and I parted ways with John soon after, and headed towards the bike shop, just one street south. Bike shop, you say? Yes, Yes!! After a bit of hem-hawwwing, and much convincing on the part of Don, I decided the time was ripe for purchasing my first bike. It’s a red bike, as you can see ^_^ white handles and a kyoot little seat. The weather is warming up, so as soon as I figure out how to use this crazy U-lock and get a basket to hold snacks and loaves of brioche, I’ll be biking my toosh all over the city!

Abraço? Check. Bike? Check. It was time for lunch! We walked west to the recently opened ramen shop, Ippudo, on 4th Ave and 10th Street.

The interior of the restaurant was larger than I expected, dimly lit, almost so soothing that I wanted to slip out a mattress and indulge in a little post-coffee/pre-lunch nap. We were seated side to side at a low counter table, on soft beige chairs with support on the back and right (or left) of the person. Such seating arrangements encourage, and is rather conducive to getting chummy with your dining partner. However not so functional when you keep on bumping into one another’s elbows mid ramen-slurping…

Three types of ramen are available, Shiromaru New York, Akamaru Modern, and the Karaka-men. I had the Shiromaru New York, the most basic option, “original recipe tonkotsu soup with stewed pork, cabbage and scallion.” I’ve never paid $13 for a bowl of ramen before, so it was natural to have high expectations at that price. The broth was gorgeous, full and fatty just so, rich to the tongue. The serving size? Massive. Perhaps overly so, but that’s just me…must always leave plenty, plenty room for dessert ^_^ Also massive in size was the serving spoon, which could easily hold three times more broth than a standard soup spoon! The toppings were skimpy at best, with two thin slices of pork, granted it was indeed awesome pork, extremely tender and sweet. But I’ve still yet to encounter the pork that comes close to the magic that is Yotteko-Ya back home in Hawaii. That, now that, was seriously what one would deem effortless meat. Slices of buttery pork plucked from steaming broth, dappled onto the tongue and in the second you dare bite, the pork melts. I swear. It melts! Onto your tongue, all over your mouth…some crazy swooning meaty estacy. Ahhh. Goodness. Yah. I’ve yet to meet that pork in the city. Don’s Karaka-men had the same broth with the addition on “spicy meat sauce.” See his photo here for a close-up of the noodles. But I will be back to Ippudo the next time ramen cravings hit or on the next rainy day, for Yotteko-Ya, is sadly a tad too far for lunch.

Make it a complete lunch for an additional $3 – you have a choice between roast pork or mentaiko over ice. I went with the mentaiko while Don did the roast pork. Cabbage and squiggles of sweet mayo with a dollop of mentaiko. Both versions hovered on the tasty end of standard, though the ramen portion itself was so enormous, that I was too full to enjoy the rice dishes for all it was worth. Didn’t stop me from polishing it off though, heheheh.

Okee dokes, well happy Tuesday – better go get my laundry before I forget! Hope the week is going dandy for everyone :)

Abraço
86 East 7th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 388-9731

Busy Bee Bikes
437 East 6th St
NY, NY 10009
(212) 228-2347

Ippudo
65 4th Ave
NY, NY 10003

Still Fresh On the Tastebuds (and Memory for that Matter)….

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 13comments No tags Permalink 0

(Just a note: thanks for all your comments on the last few posts :) am working on responses…will get to them very soon ^-^)

I. Mitsuwa + Santoka


Sunday afternoon, pre-Abraço (see “II”), I suggested a meal of ramen to Don. He inquired as to where. I proposed Minca, just a few streets down from where we currently sat. Robyn did an awesome post on Minca last week, and I had been craving it ever since. Don paused. “Want to go to New Jersey?” he asked. And then, no less than two hours later we arrived by car at Mitsuwa, the biggest Japanese market I’ve seen on the East Coast.

Back in Hawaii, I frequented Japanese, Chinese or Korean markets much more often than ‘American’ markets. Marukai, 99 Ranch, Palama…these places must sound familiar to many of you ^_^ I’ve been a bit deprived of good Asian markets since moving to the city, so the opportunity to visit Mitsuwa left me gawking like the biggest supermarket nerd in the world.

First thought: Sensory Overload. To the right was the actual ‘market’ – rows of fresh produce, Japanese snacks, soba, ramen and rice cookers galore. Straight ahead were yards of mochi, a bakery further up, and yet another to the left. Or should we start with soft-serve in flavours of matcha and black sesame? Or maybe pause at the plastic displays of fake food, oddly comforting. But we headed straight to Santoka, obeying to the commands of our stomachs and quickly satisfied cravings with a soothing bowl of spicy miso ramen. We originally planned to order the “Toroniku (special pork) Ramen”…but they were sold out…reason enough to make a return trip :)

Two bowls of ramen, two cups of hot tea, and a window booth on a lovely day, there’s but little more one could ask for. However, my favourite ramen is still at back at Yotteko-Ya in Hawaii. That place spoiled me for all ramen to come…I swear I can still taste that fatty pork melting in my dreams far too often! Alas, there’s a new ramen place popping up in the East Village sometime soon, will definitely check it out.

We exercised round the market, post-ramen, pre-dessert, and went up and down nearly every single aisle with the exception of two. First: the international food aisle, just because we can get “international foods” elsewhere. Second: the home appliance aisle because, well, it just wasn’t an option. Bergen county has mighty funny laws!

back into the food court area…dessert time! I had my eye on the taiyaki stand since we first walked in, and when I crave something I need never to let it go until I’ve done it justice. The plan was to eat one of each: obanyaki, taiyaki, and a creamyaki. But alas. The wait was ridiculously long and we were told that only obanyakis could be had. But wait! The lady behind the counter paused. Okay. You can have taiyaki! Yay! So we ordered two and dashed to a table.

Soon enough, we headed out of the market and
One bite in. Taiyaki FAIL. Severely undercooked innards. Doughy. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Shame cause the crust looked so promising, the taiyaki warm to the touch, straight off the pan, steam released from the first bite. But. No. FAIL.

Luckily, the day was saved when Don brought back black sesame soft serve. Black sesame, along with ginger and avocado are my favourite flavours when it comes to sweets. Avocado milkshakes, avocado picked from Kristen’s backyard in Manoa, split with a sprinkle of raw sugar, black sesame pudding, black sesame dumplings in ginger syrup, ginger in everything and anything, candied, juiced, or raw…mmhhmmmmm.

II. Abraço


Finally figured out why I was grumpy this whole week. It wasn’t due to fifteen hour workdays but alas, it was severe Abraço withdrawal! So I mended my problems and reinstated happiness by popping into Abraço three times this weekend.

Jamie started doing iced coffee last week, and goodness it is indeed a wonderful treat in the morning. Sweetened a tad, full-bodied and smooth all the way, it will be difficult to imagine drinking iced coffees anywhere else in the future. You know how some things/people/places just leave the biggest smile on your face? Abraço does that for me. I went to work right after as the happiest accountant ever on a Saturday morning, woohoo :)

Post work Saturday called for a return trip, this time with Diana and Ian. The weather was quite nice and Jamie had the windows open, making for a most picturesque setting. We sat on the outside bench, catching up on everything and anything. Iced coffee for Diana, a Cortado for Ian, while I went with a Sweet Little Thing. It honestly is called “Sweet Little Thing,” I kid you not!

Was back again on Sunday with Don and John. Iced coffee for the both of them, and an almond milk latte for myself. I ran into Kevin, the fellow whom I have to thank for introducing me to Abraço back in November. It is always rather strange/funny/pleasant when you run into people you know in this city. I tend to imagine NYC as this huge, packed, energetic place…but at the same time forget that it is composed of many small areas, communities, if you will. Most my free time is spent in the East Village, and I suppose after a while, you establish patterns and habits. Sooner or later, running into certain people on certain days becomes a part of these patterns. Last Saturday, on the way to the market, I ran into Olivia on the street, whom I just dined with the previous night. Days before that, I passed Tai on the way home from work. It always takes me by surprise and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. But I supposed that is oookay, because I like it that way, the element of surprise never gets boring.

III. Otafuku + Saint Alps


Had dinner with Shann the other night at Otafuku. We were lucky enough to get one of the bench seats right in front of the shop. The bench fits four people if you squeeze tight, but there’s always a long wait. Most of the time we take out monchings to eat at the church park right up the street on 2nd Avenue. I always get the Okominiyaki (with corn) & Yakisoba combo. Very fairly priced at $6, it’s a comforting meal that will fill you up quickly, perhaps a bit too much.

But then again, there’s always room for dessert right? We rounded the corner to Saint’s Alp to purchase warm liquids for the walk home. Green tea milk tea boba for Shann and black sesame boba for myself.

Hope the week is going well for everyone :)

Mitsuwa
595 River Road,
Edgewater, NJ 07020
(201) 941-9113

Abraço
86 East 7th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 388-9731

Otafuku
236 E 9th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 353-8503

Saint’s Alp
39 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 598-1890

Hooray, it’s Friday…

Saturday, March 15, 2008 7comments No tags Permalink 0

…but I’ve work tomorrow and Sunday too. Pooh! Oh well, no point in moping, lets skip to the food :)

Monch Monch. One of many dumplings: Pelmeni Moscow (baked with cheese & eggs)

I. Read Robyn’s post (both parts ONE and TWO) on our Brighton Beach outing with Olia as our super-duper-awesome guide. At Cafe Glechik, Olia most lovingly ensured that our bellies were well packed with more Russian dumplings than we could ever dream.

Dumplings: Meat + Butter + Fried Onions

Dumplings baked with eggs and smothered with cheese, broiled to a bubbling brown. Dumplings filled with a mix of pork & veal, then finished with plenty of butter and fried onions and even more dumplings with potatoes & mushrooms.

Sour Cherry Vareniki

Dumplings also bombarded us in dessert form, one order filled with sweet farmers’ cheese, and another with sour cherries. It was a complete meal indeed! Post lunch, we all (Robyn, Diana, Olia, Ian, Jeremiah, Natty and I) waddled over to M&I International for a massive hunk of what I swear on my deathbed is the best carrot cake you’ll ever have in your life.

ZOMG – best carrot cake ever!

I SWEAR. I’ve had this carrot cake once in the past with Sergei and did a brief post here, so there’s no reason in writing about it once more. I KID YOU NOT, this carrot cake is insanneeee!!!

Post Brighton, we dashed back to Chinatown for a mini-durian adventure on Grand Street. The durian was transported back to Natty’s apartment where it proved to pair wonderfully with beer, television, and dirty stories.

II. With much thanks to Don, dinner a few Sundays back took place at Momofuku Ko’s family & friends night. Photos here, but you’re better off viewing Don’s photos, which came out significantly better :) My personal favourite? This crazy ass concoction of shaved foie gras over lychees, lychee gelee and pine nut brittle. The crazy part was the way the texture of the foie changed the minute it hit your tongue, from this light luxury to a meltingly creamy dream. I could be content eat nothing but endless bowls of shaved foie for the rest of my life.

Of course, I’d also need coffee and pastries from Abraço, and then. Yes. And then I’d be very, very happy.

And then local food from Hawaii every once in a while. I don’t ask for much ^_^

III. Andy’s Ghost Chili Cupcakes over at Pinisi on 4th Street in the East Village are definitely worth trying. Most ‘spicy’ sweets in this city are often underwhelming with the heat coming in as a slight afterthought, but at Pinisi the African chili shines though clearly with a dominate kick.

L’Arte del Gelato: Cherry-Vanilla & Butterscotch

IV. The owners at L’Arte del Gelato in the West Village recently started hiring new people to scoop gelato. A little sad, because it was always nice chatting with the owner, a most friendly fellow, whenever I visited. But the last three times I’ve visited they had this new girl working there. She’s nice, and gives extra generous scoops. But still. It is not the same. Though I suppose on the upside, that must mean they’re doing more business, so hooray!

(Sorta) Off the Subject of Food

I. The cab driver dropped me back home around 11 last night. As I opened the passenger door to exit, he exclaimed, “stop!” I stopped. He spoke again, “darling, there are only three things you need in life.” “Oh really?” I asked. He nodded with a grin, “good food, good money, and good sex.

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, “er, thank you.

And with that, he bid me good night, and I walked the six bazillion steps up to my apartment.

10 pounds here. Another 10 in the fridge…o_O!

II. This is why I smell like bacon every time I visit Don!

III. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve last seen my dog, Buddy. He’s just dandy, bursting with giddy energy even at the ripe old age of ten! I miss him. That is all. My sister recently purchased a guinea pig. We named him Dumpling.

Well I’m closing in for the night…hope you all have an awesome weekend! :)

Cafe Glechik
3159 Coney Island Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 616-0766

M & I International Foods
249 Brighton Beach Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 615-1011

Momofuku Ko
163 First Ave.
New York, NY 10003
No Phone

Pinisi Cafe & Bakery
128 East 4th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 614-9079

L’Arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue
NY, NY 10014
(212) 924-0803