Posted in new york eats | 3 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • local eats: back forty west, new york city

    Posted at 8:28 am , on January 27, 2013

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    People who ask me for restaurant recommendations give me vertigo on the level of cringe-inducing, nail-biting terror. Make no mistake — I want to prattle on endlessly about the places I patron, but I tend to be a creature of habit. While there are so many extraordinary places to dine in New York, there are as equally many horrible, overpriced establishments. And it’s more often than not that I find myself tossing my napkin on the table, seething.

    I SPENT $40 FOR THAT?????

    I work in industry that values the power of word-of-mouth, so I rarely, if ever, visit a place that hasn’t been vetted by a swat team of friends and honest strangers on Yelp and Chowhound. And you better believe that I walked back Back Forty West at least forty times before I stepped in. On one particular occasion I made it in for a total of ten seconds only to scurry out and flee to the comfort that is Delicatessen. Call me strange, most do, but a mediocre meal is an experience rivaling the Saw movies.

    However, one day I cracked and found myself settling into a seat and ordering a pile of food. Suspicious, I expected that my well-done burger {don’t lecture me about eating medium-well meat} would be a hockey puck and my biscuit to be its bedfellow. But to my shock, pleasure and unexpected delight, the food was DELICIOUS. My burger was moist, yielding and the bacon was thick, salty and perfectly peppered. I hoovered that meal, plate and all, in 3 minutes flat. The biscuit, and its jam accoutrements, were sheer, flaky joy, and I got delirious and ordered a fluffy cheesecake.

    Suffice it to say, I’ve been back multiple times since and the local-minded, simple and flavorful menu is nothing short of extraordinary. From seasonal salads to grilled vegetables and tasty sandwiches, you will savor your meal at this corner eatery in the frightening bowels of SoHo. Manga.

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    Posted in new york eats | 1 Comment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • get ready to weep: herb-gruyère biscuits

    Posted at 4:16 pm , on January 13, 2013

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    Every holiday I make the Odyssean trek to Connecticut to spend time in a warm home surrounded by a vast forest. The drive from New Haven is a long one, and the road ahead is wrapped in a ticker-tape of trees that were once deciduous but are now covered in bone-white snow. This year my friend’s husband collected me from the train station, and as we passed the time in catch-up conversation, I slid further down in my seat. Taking comfort in watching my oldest and dearest friend’s husband drive.

    I should tell you that I don’t like cars — they feel like metal coffins, and I’m always skittish when on the road. There’s not only you with your hands on the wheel and the road in front of you, but there’s all sorts of people, strangers really, to consider. So while my friend’s husband expertly navigated our way home, I found myself closing my eyes. Trying to forget the cars around me.

    During the ride I did what I’m wont to do, which is ask after the food. We spoke of grilled fillets and chipotle sweet potatoes, and when he mentioned the biscuits, THE BISCUITS, I went weak in the knees. It should be noted that my friend Elizabeth makes the BEST. BISCUITS. EVER.

    I mean, the BEST.

    And after I managed to consume four in one sitting, I begged my friend for the recipe and she was kind enough to slip it into a package she sent a week later. So it’s with love and light that I honor Elizabeth and her kind husband by re-creating my true love. THE BISCUIT.

    INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Food + Wine.
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
    1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
    1 cup shredded Gruyère
    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter—10 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled, 2 tablespoons melted
    1 cup buttermilk, chilled
    Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

    DIRECTIONS
    Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine salt. Add the chilled butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. Add the chopped thyme and sage, and the Gruyère. Stir in the buttermilk just until the dough is moistened. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick disk.

    Using a floured 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds as closely together as possible. Gather the scraps and knead them together 2 or 3 times, then flatten the dough and stamp out more biscuit rounds. Pat the remaining scraps together and gently press them into a biscuit.

    Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter. Lightly sprinkle the biscuits with a few grains of flaky salt and chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

    Bake the biscuits for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let the biscuits cool slightly on the baking sheet before serving.

    MAKE AHEAD The unbaked biscuits can be frozen: Freeze biscuits in a single layer and transfer to a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Bake straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the cooking time.

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    Posted in savory recipes | 12 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
  • lazy east village sunday: peels + zucker’s bakery

    Posted at 4:35 pm , on December 30, 2012

    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Peels NYC
    Zucker's Bakery
    Zucker's Bakery
    East Village
    East Village
    East Village

    Posted in new york eats | 0 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • christmas in connecticut…

    Posted at 6:10 pm , on December 25, 2012

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    Posted in foodie gal | 0 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • the fat radish, new york city

    Posted at 4:41 pm , on November 25, 2012

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    Boys at the pool would tell me that I’d be beautiful, really beautiful — if only I had Violet’s face, her feathery hair, her silver rings on my fingers. And I closed my eyes and lived the rest of the summer like that, her head in mine, on mine.The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here, by yours truly.

    After weeks of contemplating a visit to The Fat Radish, I finally did it (Alice Gao’s vivid snaps had me swooning. So much so that I nixed my Sunday routine and made the trek into the city for brunch), and believe me when I say that I’ve no regrets. From the impeccable service to a dining space that you’d only dream of replicating in your home, to the flaky biscuits and farm-fresh eggs to the duck-fat fries and juicy burger, you will fall rapturously in love with the restaurant and proceed to HOOVER EVERYTHING ON THE MENU. And no one should stop you — it would be criminal to.

    But something else is gnawing at me. I witnessed a few comments on Alice’s site + read a few articles based on a very lovely foodie I’ve only started following — the strangeness of coveting someone else’s life. I’ll spare you the diatribe, but I’ll say this: a DSLR camera and a lithe figure are not worth making yourself blue. What people choose to publish online is only but a small fraction of their true selves — a representation of their life they feel comfortable sharing, but it’s not the whole of it. I’m sure these lovely ladies hurt like the rest of us, and instead of coveting a stranger’s life, let’s focus on finding the remarkable in our own. I have to repeat this to myself daily, as many of you probably think I live this very charmed existence and I definitely don’t.

    Find the remarkable in the ordinary. Ferret out the beauty in your life and celebrate it. Covet it.

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    Posted in new york eats | 6 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • a comprehensive guide to sweets in aix en provence

    Posted at 4:01 pm , on September 27, 2012

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    The Internet can be a cruel, cold and lonely place when one isn’t able to find exactly what they need. Would you believe that I spent hours (no seriously, HOURS) on the web searching for a list of boulangeries and patisseries to visit in Aix en Provence? Would you believe that after translating dozens of pages from the French, I found only a handful of places — a paltry list of tourist traps — to guide my first day in Provence?

    I WEPT CROISSANTS, PEOPLE. CROISSANTS AMANDES, TO BE PRECISE. THAT’S ALMONDS TO YOU, PEOPLE!

    After spending two days in Provence, hitting every alley way and every shop that sold confections, pastries + bread, I’m bringing you the very best of what I’ve discovered during my stay. In all candor, nearly all of the places I visited were a complete and utter delight. You’re instantly greeted with a waft of a hot oven, of things baking and cooling, and a pride, helpful proprietor. Oddly, I had a dream the other night where a woman told me that my constitution was built for bread and cakes, not for exquisite pastry. I was obsessive, methodical, passionate but not borderline psychotic. You need to be insane to devote that much minute detail to the art of pastry. And this is true. Although I’m a Type A personality, I tend to not have patience for pate-a-choux, and most of my achievements have been working with breads, loaves, cakes, pies, etc. I have a predilection for the grand in stature rather than the microscopic perfection. What this means is that I cared less for the fanciful Bechards of the world (the beautiful shop was a bit intimidating) and opt for more of the rustic bakeries. However, this is my taste and I encourage you to explore what suits your fancy.

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    If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a croissant rampage. For those who know me and know me well, there was the situation I’d like to call the Muffin Intervention of 2007. I devoted six straight months to the consumption of the blueberry muffin and wondered why I’d gained five pounds. Mysteries of the world, people. Riddle of the Sphinx, etc. In the past two years I’ve engaged in an outright war against the consumption of the CROISSANT. Specifically, the almond croissant. This pastry is much like crack cocaine, and I’ve found myself making the Muffin Intervention of 2007 look like a blip in the calendar. However, I’ve allowed a week of debauchery (I’m in France!), so it’s been a three-croissant/day situation. At this point I’m acutely aware of how bad this has gotten, and cannot wait to set foot in JFK, where I will properly mainline kale.

    But I digress. These two gems are from Banette and Pâtisserie Weibel, respectively. Banette is much like your local bake shop cum deli, serving up sandwiches, light eats, pastries, fresh bread and croissants. The place is a bit ordinary, but the chocolate croissants (at $1.30) are a pure and utter delight. Flaky and fresh with a warm chocolate center, you will order two, as I did, and have no regrets consuming the lot. As Edith Piaf so sagely sang, Je Non Regret Rien!

    Weibel is a bit fancier in nature, selling loads of the Aix sweet, callison (think fruity chalk), however, their almond croissant is probably one of the finest I’ve sampled in France. Subtly sweet, you have a hint of amaretto amidst the powdered sugar, cream and light pastry. It’s a symphony of flavor, I assure you, and I treasured EVERY. SINGLE. BITE.

    Remember when I waxed poetic about Stohrer? Sang its praises, etc? While Stohrer will always hold a dear, minimalist place in my heart, I fawned over the perfect eclairs at Lavarenne (below images). Like pages of a book, I love how this pastry unfolds. At first bite, you taste a thin layer of chocolate frosting and sheets of puff pastry. As you delve deeper, the pastry implodes, caves into a perfect chocolate center juxtaposed with a slight touch of cream.

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    While I felt intimidated by Bechard and its decadent pastry and bright lights, a much humbler Riederer (below images) is definitely worthy of a visit. Tucked away on a side street off Cours Mirebeau, Riederer feels like Bechard’s quirky cousin, mainly due to its current pâtissier, Philippe Segond, who is warm, effusive and constantly re-inventing biscuits, chocolates and the delicate cakes the shop sells. Instantly, you’ll be drawn into bakets filled with biscuits — an array of aromatics — lavender, almond, citrus, lemon, chocolate, and on it goes. Yet, you’ll leave with a slice of cake (the pistachio blueberry melted my cold heart) or a fig tart.

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    And let us not forget my lifelong affair with chocolate? As Nigella Lawson once said, whatever the question is, chocolate is ALWAYS the answer. If you’re seeking confectionary finery, I encourage you to check out Puyricard (below images). Whether you’re taking a tour of the chocolate factory in the Aix countryside where you see artisans hand-crafting exquisite confections, or you’re strolling around town aching for a bit of sweetness, Puyricard will easily satisfy all cravings. Not only did I sample coconut and almond-infused truffles, but indulged in chocolate-covered almonds, discs of dark chocolate studded with nuts, and pillowy marshmallows that melted in my mouth.

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    Notables: Don’t dismiss PAUL because it’s a chain. Serving up tasty sandwiches, fresh coffee and tarts that will put your heart on pause (I stood in front of a glazed fig tart for ten minutes, gawking like a lunatic). If you’re looking for a solid, affordable lunch or a quick sweet, definitely hit up this spot. Loved Gout de Pain’s bread.

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    SWEETS GUIDE (My Picks)
    Banette Puyricard
    5 Cheminement Ecoles
    13540 Aix en Provence

    Pâtisserie Weibel
    2 Rue Chabrier
    13100 Aix en Provence

    Lavarenne
    44 Place Richelme
    13100 Aix-en-Provence

    Riederer
    67 Cours Mirabeau
    13100 Aix-en-Provence

    Puyricard
    9 Rue Rifle Rafle
    13100 Aix-en-Provence, France

    Posted in foodie gal, french eats, savory recipes, sweet recipes, traveling girl | 2 Comments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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