Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dessert at Sweet Melissa

To celebrate an event my boyfriend has been preparing months for, I picked up a few things at Sweet Melissa (276 Court St., Brooklyn, NY 11231, (718) 855-3410 - they also have a Park Slope location on 7th Avenue near 1st Street). There's a lot to choose from here, from pies and cakes to small chocolates and tarts. I started with a big Chocolate Cherry Cookie, which was not too sweet, was deeply chocolatey with a touch of tart cherry. Chocolate chips and dried cherries dotted the cookie.

I also got three Truffles - one Pistachio that was rolled in chopped nuts and tasted nicely nutty, one Dark Chocolate, that was on the bitter side, thick and strong tasting (which I liked) and a Creamy Milk Chocolate one that was light and airy and less flavorful. Such decadent, creamy treats!

I also got a slice of their Pumpkin Bread Pudding with a caramel currant sauce. I love their Classic Bread Pudding and their Chocolate version as well, but this was a little disappointing. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle, and it was very bready, less moist than the other kinds I prefer. It came with a thick caramel sauce with currants in it that also tasted a little like cinnamon too.

Sweet Melissa is also a nice place to go as well. It's like a comfy living room, with bench seating with pillows and a really nice backyard that is twice the size as it once was since they expanded this past year. They serve soup and salads and really great fruit & cheese plates as well. Lovely.

Sweet Melissa on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Robicelli's One Year Anniversary

5/19/10: I never updated this; probably because I was so sad. Robicelli's had to close. But, their cupcakes became so popular, they're still in business doing customs orders. You can still get your Elvis cupcake fix!

I went to Robicelli's Gourmet Market on Friday to celebrate their one-year anniversary. I forgot my camera, so bear with me as I describe all the things there were to eat without seeing photos - you'll just have to go to the store to see & taste for yourself! They had a big pot of their famous Butternut Squash soup that got them into the food business in the first place. It was so creamy and flavorful - I'm not a huge soup fan but I could eat this every day for a week and be happy! It was a lovely bright orange color too, certain to cheer you up on rainy, winter days.

There was also a big pan of roasted Brussels sprouts made with lemon juice which I really liked - definitely a new way to have sprouts that made them zesty and fresh instead of their normal earthy mustiness, in addition to roasted broccoli with pignoli nuts, nicely browned & seasoned. (Photo courtesy of Cupcakes Take the Cake via Flickr.)

There were also Pork Belly BLTs that were INCREDIBLE! Parts of the pork were nicely burnt, which made them crisp and crunchy, and the sandwich was completely decadent. There was also an egg salad sandwich made with olive oil and soft-boiled eggs so they made their own mayonnaise. Delicious.

It wouldn't be a trip to Robicelli's without cupcakes, and just for this special occasion, Allison made a Kiwanis Cupcake, based on the special-occasion-cake of her childhood. White cake with banana in the center, with banana (butterscotch?) frosting and topped with a cream puff and a slice of chocolate covered strawberry (help me out Allison, did I remember it correctly?). So rich, so complex - amazing for a small dessert.

There's so much good stuff going on there, I highly encourage you to visit. Run by a husband & wife team, they are always trying to do the best by their customers while also keeping their food top-notch. They are so dedicated to their neighborhood and to keeping business local, they're changing the products they carry to reflect a more NY-based selection.

Allison & Matt with their famous cupcakes. (Photo courtesy of Cathyerway via Flickr.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dinner from Dub Pies, NYC

Long day at work, after a long string of late nights + no food in the house = Take Out! I've been walking by Dub Pies, NYC (193 Columbia St., between Sackett & Degraw, 718-858-8414) for a while now and have been intrigued, but never had the occasion to eat there. It's more of a take out place, with only a few little tables in their space, but a full menu of various, savory mini-pies. There are a few vegetarian options among the chicken and beef pies, plus salad, smoothies and dessert.

I ordered the Dub Plate #2 which is your choice of any pie with one of three salads. I picked the Steak & Mushroom Pie with a "Roman's Russian Special" salad which is a mixture of cucumbers, tomato, radish, peppers, dill, cilantro, onion, black pepper and sour cream on the side. The pie was filled with chunky bits of steak in a very dark brown sauce. The flavors were clean and simple - meaty & earthy - in a shell of flaky crust.

I also ordered Curry Vegetarian Pie which is packed with cauliflower, potato, carrot, zucchini, peas, mushrooms, onions & corn in a garlic, garam masala curry. It was hands down the best thing on the plate - spicy, flavorful with so many different veggies. The pastry is vegetarian too and is perfectly flaky and so delectable.

They also sent some complimentary Sausage Rolls and Spinach & Cheese Rolls (the smaller things next to the pies on the plate). The Spinach & Cheese Rolls were excellent - green, bright & fresh tasting, although my boyfriend said the spinach tasted boiled. The Sausage Rolls were a little disappointing for both of us though. Not very flavorful, not very distinct. The salad was a nice balance with the dense, richness of the pies. It was not dressed, but didn't need to be with the light dusting of black pepper.

I wanted to try one of their desserts too so I ordered the Lamington - a sponge/pound cake with a layer of jam in the middle covered in chocolate & coconut (in the bottom right hand corner of the top photo). It was so light & fluffy with each ingredient shining through. They also sent a little heart-shaped chocolate brownie and a little apple-cinnamon filled, sugar-topped pastry. I was so full, I just took a bit to taste and was happily surprised with the basic, classic flavor. Definitely having it for breakfast!

I'm so happy I tried Dub Pies! The woman on the phone who took my order was so nice and the food was just what I needed after a long day. I'm adding their menu to my regular rotation of Take-Out places!

Dub Pies on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brunch at Buttermilk Channel #3

Mmmmm, scrambles. Buttermilk Channel's take on the egg at Brunch. Perfect amount, perfect proportion and perfect combinations. Really, this place makes a good egg. On this visit to a local Brunch standby I picked the Scramble with House-Cured Lox, Green Onion & Cream Cheese. A small white porcelain cup with these ingredients mixed up together so the cheese gets melty and the other extras are wonderfully dispersed amongst the egg - yum. Salty, smoky salmon, just a bit of green onion to provide some fresh zing and cream cheese make for a delicious start to the day. Plus toasted dark pumpernickel bread and a round of excellently browned grated potatoes!

My boyfriend got the Scramble with Roasted Mushrooms, Spinach & Goat Cheese which was also a great combo, wonderfully mixed, melty in a good way, with a side of wheat bread, the round of hash browns and a small side salad.

We also got some sides of breakfast meats. The first time we got the breakfast sausage it was out of this world. It's a bit inconsistent though - still good, but not as amazing as it was early on. The bacon was good too, plentiful and providing that salty, meaty, chewiness that's important with Brunch, but not AMAZING.

I know some people feel like BC is all around an inconsistent place, but for me it's a quality, reliable spot where the service is friendly and neighborly and the food good enough for repeat visits.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cookies from Little Buddy Biscuit Co.

Sorry for the late post today! I was away this weekend and didn't plan well. Hope these cookies make up for it! And thanks to my 50th follower!

Based on the packaging alone, I love the cookies from Little Buddy Biscuit Co. (635 Fifth Avenue at 18th Street, (718) 369-6355)! I was recently emailed by Josie Diels, the media contact for this new bakery in the South Slope, and subsequently sent a beautiful pink and blue package with three different Little Buddy cookies (lovingly cushioned with the packaging peanuts that melt in water).

There's a great little story about the creation of Little Buddy that's on their website which is appealing in and of itself...but the cookies! They're SO tasty and perfect. Some are creative and unusual in their combinations which sound a little crazy: orange, cardamom, coconut, currant & macadamia nut, but worked really well together. I also tried the ginger spice (with real chunks of dried ginger) and their version of double chocolate chip. The cookies are big, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and just the right amount of sweet. I'm heading over soon to try their Chocolate Chip, which, as some of you know, is my absolute favorite and the cookie against which all other cookies are measured.

They also serve brownies, cakes, muffins, scones and of course biscuits, PLUS a variety of savory & vegan goods. Let me know if you go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dinner at Mimi's Hummus

The people in Ditmas Park will be glad I finally made my way out to their hood for dinner! I met a friend who lives nearby at Mimi's Hummus, a cute little sliver of a place at 1209 Cortelyou Road (between E 12th St. & E. 13th St., 718-284-4444), a few blocks from the Q train. I immediately felt like regular when, standing near the door listening to the waitress tell us about the specials with another woman who had just walked in, she and I oohed & aaahed upon hearing the description of a lamb dish which resulted in a conversation about visiting meat-eating land vs. living there.

My friend and I were quickly seated (the other woman got her food to go) and began consulting each other on what we wanted to get. We started with an order of hummus, of course! There are a few types served, but we got the classic - made with chick peas, drizzled with olive oil and whole roasted chick peas on top. it was garlicky, creamy and delicious with warm pita bread.

We also shared an order of a Phyllo-wrapped beef dish with a side of beets. This was spicy and earthy, the phyllo was soft and delicate and the beets were bright and refreshing.

I went with lamb from the specials list because it sounded so good. Ground lamb kebab served on a bed of basmati rice. The lamb was perfect - lightly grilled, excellently seasoned with aromatic herbs and topped with a cilantro sauce. The rice was a little dry or something. It wasn't whole grains of rice, more like a fluffy version of basmati that I didn't like. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as it could have been.

My friend ordered the chicken meatballs which were served in a really tasty tomato sauce, but which were too salty to finish. That was disappointing, but it didn't color my overall experience of the meal.

Both of the meat dishes came with tabouli and a tomato salad which were both tangy & acidic and cut the heavy meatiness nicely. Even though we were pretty full from all that food, we couldn't help but get an order of these Chocolate Balls for dessert. The were like chocolate cookie dough, dense and rich, sugary in a good way, moist and intense. I loved them and wish I wrote down what they were called and how they were made. They're on the regular menu, and you can't miss them.

I really liked Mimi's Hummus and am excited to explore other spots in Ditmas Park. Suggestions???

Mimi's Hummus on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dinner at Enoteca on Court

Over the summer a new restaurant popped up on Court St. in Carroll Gardens called Enoteca on Court (347 Court St., between Union & President, 718-243-1000). They boast a menu with tons of wine, pizza, panini and an assortment of Italian dishes from Bruschetta & stuffed artichoke to meats, cheeses & small dishes from the oven like octopus, meatballs and chicken. They also have a lovely garden in which they host viewings of Italian movies on Sundays through mid-October. The garden is quite nice (I found the interior to be a bit too air-conditioned and the music was playing too loudly), with flowers, and little fountain and a wall of shutters that makes you feel as if you're in a genuine courtyard in Florence, perhaps.

Our waitress brought over this plate with a basic tomato & garlic Bruschetta (on the house) which was delicious - lots of garlic, fresh tomato and just a sprinkling of cheese and parsley. It definitely whet my appetite and made me eager for my meal. I chose the Romana pizza with tomato, mozzarella, anchovies, capers, olives & oregano. There were plenty of anchovy filets, flavorful whole cured olives & fresh cheese. The crust was thin and slightly sour, and just chewy enough at the ends. I really liked it.

My boyfriend ordered the Melanzana - eggplant, tomato sauce, basil & parmigiano regianno baked in a dish in the wood-burning oven. It came out steaming, was wonderfully cheesy but was a bit bland and needed salt. The eggplant was cooked well though, and there were no thick, chewy bits.

He also got a Panini with porchetta AND mortadella, provolone, pickles, caramelized shallots & roasted garlic aioli. This was really heavy, and he was only able to eat half (I got to have the rest for lunch the next day). The pickles were a perfect touch, and everything blended together really well.

Enoteca on Court definitely surprised me in a good way, and I'm happy to have another nice place to go in the area with a quiet backyard. They also offer flights of red wine so you can sample a few. I picked the Italian Red Ramble which included three delicious reds from Italy. I recommend going here when you want something besides pasta in a mellow, relaxing environment.

Enoteca on Court on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Snacks from Peeled Snacks

I recently got an email from Laurie Pierre with Peeled Snacks saying she'd seen my blog and asking if I wanted to try some of their products. Never one to turn down free food, I gladly accepted. I had sampled some Peeled Snacks before, but hadn't tried many of flavors. Since they're a new-ish (they were created in 2005 by Noha Waibsnaider) Brooklyn-based company, I thought they made the cut in terms of me writing about them.

Turns out, there are SO MANY different combinations and yummy treats available. They offer single-serving resealable bags of one kind of dried fruit and bags of dried fruit & nut combos that offer some protein with your snack. My favorites are the dried mango (how do they get it to stay so soft?), which is very flavorful and packs a big mango punch, the fig-stated, a mixture of figs, apricots, dates, pistachios and almonds. (They also have Bing Cherries, Pineapple, Bananas, Apples & Apricot, plus a few other fruit & nut combos with white peaches, cashews and other great ingredients). The servings seem small, but I think we all need to re-learn what a single serving is!

Another cool thing is that the nuts come separately wrapped so they maintain their crunch. Most of the fruit is organic, and there is NOTHING added - no extra sugar or preservatives, just the fruit and nuts and that's it. So nice to not have everything coated in partially hydrogenated oil or mixed with high fructose corn syrup. There's also a fruit & nut combo called Shock-olate with chocolate chips that's only available during cool-weather months that I haven't tried, but am eager to taste. The only thing that gives me pause is the plastic packaging. I'm not sure if there's a way around that, but when there's so much good dried fruit and nuts available in bulk, this isn't going to be my main source for eating those products. It seems Peeled Snacks are best when you're out and about and in need of a healthy pick-me-up.

***Update 9-16-09***

I just received an email from Peeled Snacks addressing the packaging issue. Turns out, they're working on finding a solution but in the meantime, you can send your empty Peeled Snacks bags directly to them for recycling! How excellent is that?! Send your bags to:

Peeled Snacks
530 3rd Avenue, Suite 2R
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Attn: Recycling

Friday, September 11, 2009

Breakfast at Prime Meats

I've said it before, but I really love going out for breakfast, especially in the middle of the week when you're one of maybe two or three tables in a place and it's quiet and mellow and peaceful. I had the luxury of having some time off, and took advantage by having breakfast at the lovely Prime Meats (465 Court St., at Nelson St., 718-254-0327). It's been decorated so nicely, with hand-painted wallpaper, dark wood and delicate-looking light fixtures, and the food is top-notch as well. The menu is similar to Frankie's, the other spot owned by the Franks, just a few doors down, but that's OK, cuz their brunch is delish.

On this day, I chose the Granola with blueberries and yoghurt, which is oaty, nutty and has bits of dried fruit. The yoghurt is tangy and creamy and the fresh blueberries offer a burst of juicy, sweetness.

My boyfriend got the French Toast, of course, because it's just so amazing. I don't know what they do to it (well, I think it has something to do with butter), but its crispy, slightly burnt outside and fluffy, chewy inside is perfect. With real maple syrup and more of those fresh blueberries, it's one of my most favorite dishes out there.

The coffee is worth mentioning here too - they serve Stumptown coffee which I really like. I know there's a major division of opinion out there, but I find their lattes to be exceptional, and the iced coffee to be flavorful and not watery at all.

Definitely a great spot any time of day. The hours are great - they're open really early so you can stop in before work, or in the evening for a drink and dinner.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breakfast at Egg

I got to check another place off of my list of places I need to go when I made it to Egg (135 N. 5th St., between Bedford & Berry, 718-302-5151) recently for breakfast. Always a satisfying thing to do. Cross things off one's list, that is, although breakfast at Egg is surely satisfying as well! We had no wait for our table around 11am, but there was a long line when we left about an hour later, so be forewarned!

It was difficult to pick what to order as everything sounded so tasty and alluring (biscuits, grits, gravy, cheese), but I settled on the Eggs Rothko, an easy-cooked egg in a slice of Amy's brioche and topped with Grafton cheddar and served with broiled tomatoes and a side of meat or seasonal vegetables; I picked bacon, naturally.

The first one I was served basically had a raw egg in the center and when I called over our waitress to take a look, I barely had to say anything before she agreed that it was indeed undercooked and whisked it away to be re-done. I RARELY send stuff back at restaurants, but this was really raw. The second one was cooked properly and delicious, albeit Very Heavy with that thick layer of cheese on top. I didn't think "topped" meant "an inch-thick layer". Oh well. I ended up wishing I had ordered the veggies instead of the bacon to provide a little balance to the greasy cheesiness. Tha tlittle stewed tomato didn't cut it.

I did order the Caramelized Grapefruit with mint which cut the grease nicely and offered a refreshing counterpoint to the egg-brioche-cheese dish. Slightly sweet, mostly tart and all good.

My boyfriend chose the Country Ham Biscuit which was country ham from Col. Bill Newsom's Hams in Princeton, Kentucky, served on a biscuit with homemade fig jam, Grafton cheddar, and a side of grits. The cheddar was amazing - sharp and flaky; the jam was just a bit sweet and a nice addition to everything else. The grits were good, the biscuit was a bit on the dense side and the ham was salty and a bit on the cured side - more like thick prosciutto than ham. I don't think either of us would order this again.

So, all in all I did like Egg - they're focus on quality, local ingredients is a plus - but I have to say I was a little disappointed. The inside space is a cacophonous mess with concrete walls and floors and not much to buffer the sound, and the food was so so. I'll go back to try other things, and think they should be supported, but for all the hype, something was missing. Other experiences?

Egg on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day Everyone! Hope you're enjoying a day off with food, friends and fun! I'll be back Wednesday with more tales of Brooklyn food. Happy Eating!

But, just to give you something to look forward to, here are a few awesome food events coming up in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, September 9th: WORD hosts the debut of Brooklyn-writer Michelle Maisto's book The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love (Random House, $15.00). She will be joined by Ben Sargent, The Brooklyn Chowder Surfer for a discussion about food and family. AND...they'll be hosting a Cream Puff Contest, how cool is that??? The fun starts at 7:30pm.

Saturday, September 12th: At 11am, the Little Buddy Biscuit Company (a handcrafted microbakery) will be having their Grand Opening, complete with ribbon cutting ceremony with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. They've been in soft opening for a while, but I'm so looking forward to this place, as I've heard such good things about their products, especially those extra-large Chocolate Chip Cookies! Check 'em out, and stay tuned for my post about them!

Also on Saturday, September 12th: The launch of the Greenpoint Food Market! I'm so excited about this. It's a place for "Brooklyn food makers" to connect with their supporters and community at large. They're still looking for additional vendors. Check 'em out! The eating will take place from 12 - 6pm at the Church of the Messiah in Greenpoint.

Sunday, September 13th: The Bell House hosts the Brooklyn Cheese Experiment, a cheese cook-off and home-brew throw-down! I have no idea what this is going to be like, but all you need to know is that it's sponsored by Murray's Cheese! The Main Event is at 1pm; the After party starts at 5pm.

AND, for all you long-term planners out there, get ready for the 35th Annual Atlantic Antic! From 10 - 6pm you can wander about two miles worth of Atlantic Avenue in the middle of the street, eating your way through the neighborhoods and soaking up some of the best Brooklyn sights. See you there!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lunch in Tallinn, Estonia

If you read my posts on Monday and Wednesday, you know that this week I've been focusing on the food I ate during my travels this summer to Finland and some of its neighboring countries. In addition to the overnight cruise to Stockholm, you can take a 2-hour boat ride to Tallinn, the capitol of Estonia. Lots of people make this trip back and forth, and since there's only a window of about 5 hours, the area you get to explore is quite limited. Tallinn dates back to the 1100s and boasts an 'old town' that is enclosed by a stone wall complete with turrets and red-tile-roofed towers. It's gorgeous and has windy, cobblestone streets that lead you to the top of a hill that overlooks the rest of Tallinn.

My friend and I had lunch at a place called First Lounge (Rataskaevu 22, (372) 6 413 414), where we sat outside in the sun and enjoyed gazing up at the stone buildings against the perfectly blue sky. It's kind of an odd place - with pasta dishes, wraps, sushi (?) and salads, techno music pumping mid-day and an interior painted in purples and silver. Like I said, we sat outside int he sun and had a lovely lunch. My friend ordered the Pasta with Salmon, with cherry tomatoes, peas, basil and (canned) black olives. It was decent, and a pretty big portion.

I ordered the Wrap with smoked salmon but received the Club Sandwich instead. It was good though, with turkey, lettuce, tomato and bacon (again with those damned canned olives!), plus, a little ramekin of Pringles in the center of the plate. There was also a nice, spicy mayo that apparently the Finns just love (and Estonians I guess), which added a nice zing to the sandwich.

First Lounge was nice since it was off the main streets where all the very touristy restaurants were. It was quiet and mellow and a great place to recharge for more walking and exploring!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food in Stockholm, Sweden

One of the things you can do when you're in Helsinki, is take an overnight cruise to Stockholm, Sweden. You board the boat at 8pm from either downtown Helsinki, or Turku, a city about two hours West of Helsinki, and twelve hours later you wake up in Stockholm! It was quite an experience (since the boat passes through international waters, there's gambling on board and no drinking age, although that barely there to begin with!), but if you make sure you get a cabin with a window, it's pretty fun, AND you get to spend the day in Stockholm!

Like I mentioned in my post on Monday about Finnish food, Rye Bread is all the rage. So what did I get for dinner on the ship? A salami & cheese sandwich, with lettuce, slices of red bell pepper and butter on Rye Bread. Plus a little apple danish for dessert. It wasn't the best, but the views of the summer cottages from the boat made it a most memorable meal!

Since Stockholm is an hour earlier than Helsinki, you arrive at 7am and have to get off the boat immediately, as they set sail for Helsinki right away. My friend and I discovered that Stockholm is a late rising city - not much was open - so we were almost jumping for joy when we saw The Coffee Place (Drottninggatan 25, near Gamla Stan, the old town) open and ready for business. The guy making our lattes was super serious about his job and lovingly decorated the foam with a heart and a leaf. The coffee was delicious!

After hours of walking around and exploring, we were famished. Serendipitously were stumbled into Ahlins Plat, (Dalagatan 52, 08 - 30 85 67) a sandwich shop with a sideboard where you slice yourself some bread and pour glasses of water with cucumber slices floating in it. So good! I got a panini with chicken, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes that was so good, I was sad when I got too full to finish!

The side salad with Bibb lettuce and creamy dressing was lovely as well. My friend ordered a panini with prosciutto that was quite good as well. The meat was a bit thicker than usual, and provided a hearty meal. The bread was also perfect - crusty, tangy and delicious.

We continued on, walking everywhere to see as much as we could before we had to head back to the ship to take us back to Helsinki. We stopped in at a cafe and I got a Korvapuusti (Cinnamon Roll in Finnish - I can't find the piece of paper where I wrote down what this is called in Swedish - can anyone help me out??) with cardamom. It was a new way to enjoy that earthy, subtly-spicy flavor, but I really liked it. A regular cinnamon & sugar pastry is at the top of the photo.

Instead of eating more boat food, we decided to buy a bunch of scrumptious delights from an indoor market and have an indoor picnic later that evening in our cabin. You can see our various goods in the photo below. We bought another piece of salmon, some bread, two small quiches (the Kantarellpastejer had Chanterelle mushrooms in it and the Ostpastejer had cheese), a wedge of brie and a few desserts. The big Hershey's-kiss looking thing is a Chokladbiskvi. Inside was a creamy, nutty, chocolately mousse atop a cookie platform and coated with dark chocolate. It was incredible. A little disappointing was the Mazarin, which we thought was marzipan. It is made with almonds, but didn't have that dense, paste-like consistency, nor did it have the almost too-sweet flavor. However, all was made better by the small little chocolate disks next to the Chokladbiski. I'm not even sure what these are called, but we purchased them from the Tysta Mari stand at the Östermalms Saluhall (Östermalmstorg, 114 39, Stockholm). They were filled with a chocolate mousse that made our eyes roll back in our heads. One was enough since it packed such a punch, but oh would I love to have one again right now!

I loved Stockholm; not just because of the food, but that certainly helped. I can't wait to go back to spend more time exploring and finding other delicious, local treats!