Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Food News!

Saul's (140 Smith Street, between Bergen & Dean Streets, 718-935-9844) is offering a special Easter pre-fixe menu this coming Sunday that looks awesome, for just $50 per person. It includes choice of appetizer, Tagliatelle, Lamb or Salmon, and choice of dessert (the desserts there are excellent!). I'm sure they'll fill up quickly, so call to reserve your spot!

Also offering special Easter goodies is Little Buddy Biscuit Company (635 5th Avenue, between 17th & 18th Streets, 718-369-6355). Hot cross buns, Easter cookies and cupcakes with Spring-colored frosting are yours for the taking, but only for a short while! Plus - coming soon will be homemade ice-cream sandwiches! Awesome!

May might feel like a long way away, especially with all of this rain, but put this on your calendar because it will be here before we know it. The Brooklyn Lyceum (227 4th Ave., between Union & President Streets, 718-857-4816) will be hosting the second annual Food & Craft Fair on Saturday May 1st and Sunday May 2nd! With over 100 vendors selling their wares on two 4000 Sq. Ft. floors, there will be crafts, clothes, jewelery & food galore!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Brunch at The Farm on Adderly

***Happy Passover!
And whoo-hoo, 102 followers!
Thanks everyone!***

I had dinner at The Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Road, between Rugby & Argyle Roads, 718-287-3101) back in the early fall and loved it, so I was excited to see what their Brunch was all about. I went with a friend to celebrate her birthday, and ended up bumping into other friends waiting for a table at the bar. It's a central spot in the neighborhood, and crazy-crowded during those prime Brunch times! We got a cozy table for two at the front in the window, so it was bright and semi-private, as there were only two tables up there - it's the rear of the restaurant that has the majority of tables. We settled in and placed our orders.

I picked the Poached Eggs & Grits with cheddar grits and sauteed escarole. I was pretty disappointed with this dish. The eggs were so undercooked, there was raw egg-white pooling in the grits. I hate that! The grits were nice and cheesy and the escarole flavorful and tender, but the eggs just made everything yucky. They started out looking good though.

I also got a side of bacon which was OK. It was a bit greasy, which overwhelmed the meat's

My friend ordered well though. She got the Sausage & Eggs with one housemade breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs, home fries and salad. The sausage were excellent - succulent, savory with herbs and substantial. The home fries were OK - I prefer mine crispier, but the onions were a good addition and the eggs were nicely done.

She also got an order of the Chocolate Brioche with Sea Salt & Butter which was a bit on the dry side. I liked the juxtaposition of the sweet chocolate and the salt though, and the thick slices made it easy to share.

All in all it was a nice brunch. Next time I'll make sure to ask for my poached eggs to be well-done or something. The food is made with quality ingredients and it's fairly priced at $7 - $9 per entree.

The Farm on Adderley on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brunch at Press 195

Everything aligned over the weekend and resulted in a delicious Brunch in a backyard garden with the sun shining. Yay! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll finally have some real Spring! So, yeah, Press 195 (195 5th Avenue, between Union St. & Berkeley Pl., 718-857-1950) has the cutest garden area out back that has a whole bunch of tables, including one really big picnic table that could seat 8. We headed straight back there, plopped ourselves in the sun and surveyed the menu. Holy Panini! There are a million to choose from (OK, 40 hot panini to choose from, and a handful of cold pressed, lightly toasted sandwiches). I went with the #31 - Turkey, crispy bacon, Monterey Jack, tomato, chipotle mayonnaise and guacamole. Mmmmm! It was perfectly spicy, so flavorful, so crispy and crunchy. The slices of cucumber were a little underwhelming - more vinegar & peppercorns please! But that panini...delish!

The boyfriend got #21 - Turkey & Fontina cheese with a cranberry and roasted pear chutney. This was good too, but so sweet in comparison to my savory & spicy pick. It was hard to really pay it proper attention. Great idea with the chutney though, right? And really, anything with melted cheese is going to be good.

The waitstaff were all friendly and competent, and we saw some salads being delivered to nearby tables that were HUGE. Definitely interested in going back and trying one of them. So, now that the warm weather is coming, head over to Press 195 to hang out in the backyard and eat some delicious panini. They even have dessert panini with nutella and banana! P.S. Hi Gina!

Press 195 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Food News!

Another restaurant focusing on pasture-fed meat and local produce opened in Park Slope! Benchmark is located at 339-A 2nd St., just off of 5th Avenue, and it's American-fare menu looks heavy on the steak and chops. It's co-owned by the owner of Loki Lounge, so there are fairly deep roots in the neighborhood. They're closed Mondays and will be launching a brunch menu soon, plus they have a garden space that fits more people than the inside space! Anyone been yet?

There are a few events scheduled in the coming months at the Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Bedford-Stuyvesant. First there's an Earth Day Celebration and Seed Giveaway on April 24th - maybe they'll have herb seeds? Then on June12th there's the 6th Annual Food Heritage Festival, focusing on foods of the African diaspora. All the dishes will be home-made, some with ingredients grown in the garden! Sounds delicious! Here's more info if you're curious: 718-638-3566 or

Photo from the gorgeous mural courtesy of Alix Sorrell.

Let me remind you that Dine in Brooklyn is still going on, through March 25th. Plus, the NYC Coalition Against Hunger teamed up with Dine in Brooklyn and created Share the Table, so if you eat at one of the participating restaurants, you'll have an opportunity to contribute to the cause. Your money will go toward supporting Brooklyn food pantries & soup kitchens serving low-income families living in Brooklyn.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baked Goods at The Blue Stove

My boyfriend took me to The Blue Stove (415 Graham Ave., at Withers St., 718-766-7419) recently, while we were wandering this section of Williamsburg, checking out some shops and boutiques and were in need of some snackage. When you first walk in you notice the most incredible smell. It's the combination of sugar and cinnamon and butter, all warm and delightful, which makes you want to sit down right there and eat a whole pie, all by yourself. I managed to restrain myself, and only ordered a few small things.

The Cranberry, Walnut & Orange Zest Muffin was to eat right then. The top of a muffin is always the best, as the inside too cakey for me. The flavors of this bad boy were strong and prominent though, which made eating it quite enjoyable. The tart cranberries, the bright orange zest & the nuts all made deliciousness. The top was still the best, but the rest of it was good too!

I also got two Tarts for later. One was savory, with Ham & Cheese & whole sprigs of Thyme popping out of it at different angles. It was buttery flakiness full of smoky ham and strong Gruyere cheese inside. Excellent for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Some of the cheese had bubbled out and got a little burnt & crispy which was so yummy!

The other was a sweet tart made with whole Figs & Goat Cheese. The cheese was creamy and tangy and the figs chewy and mellow, all wrapped up in the same flaky, buttery crust that gets all over your fingers and lips as you eat. Perfection. I did want a bit more fig in this though, but that felt like a minor disappointment.

Like I said, I can't believe how good it smelled inside. I want to go back and sample more of their baked goods, including the huge slices of coffee cake piled in a dish by the front door, to one of their whole pies in all sorts of bursting-berry flavors.

The Blue Stove on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dinner at Jake Walk #2

I wrote about The Jake Walk (282 Smith St., at the corner of Sackett St., 718-599-0294) last summer when the windows are left wide open and soft breezes waft through the space. I went recently, while it was still cold and blustery out, and enjoyed the cozy warmth. It's nice that it adapts so easily to match the seasons! The cocktails are delicious, in interesting and unique combinations, and are changing all the time. This was a wonderful concoction with citrus and gin and a tart, dried cherry as garnish.

We ordered the Lasagna Casagna with Butternut Squash, Chevre, Parsley, Carrot, Cabbage & Mozzarella. It was served in the dish it was baked in, with the melted cheese covering the mix of vegetables. It felt quite decadent, but packed with all that healthy stuff, I didn't feel so bad about enjoying it as much as I did. The textures were soft and comforting, the veggies earthy and clean, all combined with the tart goat cheese made for one amazing dish!

We also shared an order of the Venison Sausage Sandwich with Pickled Sweet Pepper Chutney, Turmeric Aioli and White Wine Braised Onion. The sausage was so strong and flavorful, the aioli spicy, the chutney added a bit of sweet and the onion provided a tart counter-balance to it all. I loved this sandwich!

The Jake Walk has something for everyone - veggie dishes, meaty things, plates of cheese and anything you could want to drink, from wines to spirits. Lovely!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Food News!


I want to announce the opening of a new pizza joint in Greenpoint called Paulie Gee's, (60 Greenpoint Avenue, between Franklin and West Streets (in the former Paloma space), 347-987-3747), part-owned by fellow blogger Morta di Fame. They plan to make Rooftop Pizza from produce grown at nearby Rooftop Farms - how awesome is that!? I can't wait to try it out! (Photo courtesy of J. Galatioto)

Also, it's Dine in Brooklyn again! Over 175 restaurants are participating this year, offering $25 pre-fixe dinners ($20.10 for lunch). Zenkichi is just one of the participating places, recently named one of the Top 50 Most Romantic Places in the US! Click here for a list of all the restaurants involved, and make sure you make reservations, as this is quite the popular event. It's on from March 15th to March 25th!

Little Skips (941 Willoughby Avenue, near Charles Place, 718-484-0980) is a fairly new Coffee House/Art Gallery in Bushwick serving pastries, muffins, quiche and expanding to providing more treats in the near future. Free Wifi and an Art Raffle on March 31st (tickets are only $5!). Check 'em out and support local artists.

AND...I have 96 followers so far. Who's going to take me to 100???

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dinner at Bocca Lupo #2

Bocca Lupo (391 Henry Street, at the corner or Warren St., 718-243-2522) is a sweet place. Low lighting, exposed brick and dark wood and big glass windows make it cozy & spacious at the same time. There's also such a variety of dishes to choose from, and small plates as well, that enables you to sample a number of items, and it's great for sharing too! I was there for dinner almost a year and a half ago, so I was glad to go back recently with my boyfriend and a friend of ours. We ended up bumping into old friends, so it's a meeting place of sorts as well!

We started with an assortment of Bruschetta. The Cannellini Bean Puree with Olive Tapenade was delicate and garlicky, the Prosciutto was broad and salty, the Sausage, Fennel and Carmelized Cipolle was juicy and delicious and the Grilled Gggplant was earthy & tender.

We also got an order of the Roasted Beet Salad with Ricotta and Pignoli. The ricotta was creamy and light, the plentiful pine nuts provided a nice crunch and the salt & pepper brought out the flavor of the earthy beets.

We also tried some of their specials - a spinach pasta with mushrooms in a light cream sauce covered with grated cheese,

and the lamb chops which were beautifully presented with rosemary and a balsamic glaze. They were soft, tender and delicious with very little fat.

The Panini are also really great, in interesting & decadent combinations like the Proscuitto, Porchetta, Pepperoncini & Piave. Phew, this was one incredible sandwich, full flavored & meaty with the earthy Piave almost melted and the pickled, spicy pepperoncini to cut through the richness of the meat.

Even though we were pretty full at this point, the three of us thought we could split one dessert, so we ordered the Panna Cotta with strawberry & mint. It wasn't as creamy as I like it, and the mint was a little odd. It was light, mild and soothing. (Excuse the shadows, I was trying to be subtle with the flash.)

Bocca Lupo is great and I highly recommend it - for romantic dinners for two, dinner with a group of friends, or for family outings.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mexican Brunch at Papacitos

I love Greenpoint. I especially love walking around and exploring, which is what I got to do last weekend during the wonderful Spring-like weather, and along the way I developed a hankering for Mexican. Luckily, there are a number of options along Manhattan Avenue, and we ended up at Papacitos (999 Manhattan Ave., between Green & Huron, 718-349-7292), a fun, loud, colorful spot that offers "Mexican street food in Brooklyn".

We started out with some Chips & Guac (naturally). The chips were greasy, and some weren't cooked all the way, but I liked how thick they were, and super crunchy. The guacamole was SPICY!!! It was chunky too, with red onions, green peppers and lots of Jalapeño. Whoo! It was good though; I kept going back for more.

My boyfriend ordered the The Papa Benny with Poached Eggs, Picadas Stuffed “ Mesca cake” with Black Bean, Chorizo, Chipotle Hollandaise & Avocado Pico De Gallo from the Brunch menu. The eggs were perrrrr-fectly poached! Not a runny bit in sight. The Mesca cake was delicious, the chorizo provided a touch of spice and the sauces were strong and flavorful. Yum! And look at that gorgeous presentation of all that color in the orange bowl on top of the blue plate.

I decided to get two tacos, one with Tilapia and one with Carne Asada. The tilapia was tender and flaky and so tasty with a little fresh-squeezed lime juice. The carne asada was served in plentiful cubes, flavorful and not at all tough. Both were topped with a dollop of sour cream, chunks of tomatoes and a sprinkle of cilantro and served in two, small corn tortillas.

I liked Papacitos, although their new stereo system was not working properly (so I was told) and the bass was pumping so loudly I developed a headache during our meal. Hopefully they'll figure that out soon, I'm really curious about their dinners. Anyone been?

Papacitos on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Food News!

I recently learned about, a free email newsletter and website. Subscribers get 30% and more off of meals at really great restaurants around the city. They recently wrote to me to say they're offering deals at Brooklyn restaurants as well, so check 'em out and support their expansion into Brooklyn. You should drop them a line and ask for more Brooklyn deals, too!

I also just heard about a Belgian program called Famous Food, a documentary series in which the favorite foods of various celebrities (Roald Dahl, Salvador Dali, Maria Callas, Johnny Cash to name a few) are prepared by Jeroen Meus, a well-known Belgian chef. I just love this concept! They're coming to Brooklyn at the end of the month to research Soul Food for a segment they're making on Jimi Hendrix. Any suggestions for them? You can also see the trailer for Famous Food here!

And, Brooklyn Beefsteak comes to The Bell House on Sunday, March 21st. There are two time slots available, but hurry, tickets are running out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lunch at Al Di La Trattoria

I had some time off recently, so I was able to enjoy lunch with a friend at Al Di La, (248 5th Avenue, at the corner of Carroll St., 718-636-8888) one of the best restaurants Park Slope has to offer. The main dining room is spacious and a little funky, with bottles of wine, dark tin ceilings and a pink vine design painted on the walls. It's country Italian food at it's best - simple, uncomplicated meals with quality ingredients and flavorful results.

My friend started with Soup of the Day, made with a basic tomato broth, filled with tasty, meaty, little clams, tomatoes, basil and garlic it was delicious and surprisingly filling.

He also got an order of the Ravioli made with Winter Squash, brown butter and sage. It was light and delicious, albeit very buttery, with just a sprinkling of grated Parmesean on top.

The dish I chose was my favorite though. A bowl of creamy polenta in a broth with tomatoes, kale and sliced porcini mushrooms and a perfectly poached egg resting on top. It was amazing! The intermingling of all the flavors and textures worked perfectly, and it was filling without being too heavy. I've been thinking about it ever since!

Al Di La Trattoria is such a delightful place with comfort food at it's simple best, in a cozy, comfortable space.

Al di Là Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 5, 2010

Breakfast at Sweet Melissa's

I had breakfast with a friend at the Park Slope branch of Sweet Melissa's (175 7th Avenue, between 1st & 2nd Streets, 718-788-2700) recently, and while I've been a fan of their desserts for a while, I hadn't sampled their menu yet. I am happy to report we had two delicious dishes.

I picked the Granola with Yogurt and Fruit and loved the presentation! Plump blueberries and slices of tartly sweet strawberries decorated the top of the bowl, half with incredibly thick, creamy & tangy yogurt and half with crunchy granola, complete with dried cranberries, currants, golden raisins and almonds. It was perfectly proportioned and wonderful.

My friend chose the oatmeal with walnuts & bananas. Milk is served in a container on the side, as is the brown sugar. So many walnuts! It's so nice, instead of getting a measly few. It was a filling portion, I don't think she was able to eat it all, but it was tasty!

The Park Slope Sweet Melissa's is bigger than you think when you first walk in. The space stretches to the back, and has lots of little areas to linger over coffee and talk with a friend. It's a great spot during off-hours when it's on the quieter side.

Sweet Melissa on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lard Bread Pizza at Francesco's

By Guest Writer: Josh Kaplan

Henry street sits on the far West side of Carroll Gardens. It’s a block from the BQE, and from Union Street you can see Red Hook, beyond that the river, beyond that the skyline. It’s removed from Carroll Garden’s central hub of mixologist bars and Michelin recognized restaurants on Smith and Court, more sleepy and reserved with businesses scattered rather than condensed. It’s also where you can find one of New York’s most interesting pizzas, and no, I’m not referring to Lucali’s.

Francesco’s, (531 Henry St., at the corner of Union, 718-834-0863) formerly Nino’s, was bought two and a half years ago by Mazzola Bakery, a neighborhood institution and trusted producer of breads, croissants and cookies directly across the street, on the southeast corner of the intersection where Union crosses Henry. Mazzola’s signature item, what separates it from the scores of coffee and cake shops littering scenic corners from Red Hook to Prospect Heights, is their lard bread. Lard bread is an addictive dough made from a standard flour, yeast, margarine compound flavored with diced salami, provolone cheese, black pepper, vegetable lard and pork lard. The dough is optimized in several forms, as a loaf, as a roll, as a pretzel, but their most creative application can be found across the street, where it served as crust for Francesco’s Lard Bread Pie.

By all appearances Francesco’s is a mild mannered neighborhood red sauce joint that feels homogeneous in its removed corner of Brooklyn. It’s split between a sit down restaurant and an adjoining pizzeria with booths. Both sides are homey and modest; in the pizzeria ESPN plays on a flat-screen mounted in the corner. On a visit mid-December Sinatra was signing melancholy renderings of holiday
standards and the decor resembled a deconstructed Christmas tree. The menu is stuffed with American Italian staples, Eggplant parm, fried shellfish, sausage and peppers.

The plain slice is passable, that generic New York slice that would be at home on any corner in Manhattan, but you’d be foolish to skip the lard bread slice - order a pie if you have the time and audience. The pie resembles those Elio’s-like cafeteria slices you loved in Grade school because you didn’t know any better, but there’s a sleek thinness that avoids the Sicilian style label the pie’s shape demands. The drawback, what keeps it from serious discussion, is apparent on grabbing your first slice, as that first piece separates reluctantly from its whole. The pie is blanketed by a down quilt of industrial strength, bargain basement mozzarella, a chore to contend with even straight out of the oven. But the canvas is the attraction, like its obese cousin at L&B Spumoni; cheese is entirely beside the point.

The pizza’s thin perimeter resembles nothing so much as a flaky pie crust, and that’s a good way to begin considering it. A peak at the underside reveals a labyrinthine crust full of pleasantly brown crevices that add an extra crunch. Beneath that crunch the slice is chewy but not doughy. The salami and black pepper provide a salty heat present in every bite, while the lard and cheese contribute a buttery unctuousness, grease you can taste on the tongue you don’t have to contend with on the plate, it all makes for huge, balanced but dangerously close to overwhelming flavor.

The Francesco’s Lard Bread Pie is a bold experiment, by your third or fourth slice, one a pizza connoisseur may deem unsuccessful. Regardless, that first bite is full of fun, and this attempt certainly deserves a place as an exotic entry in New York’s pizza vernacular.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brunch at Provini

I met up with a friend in Park Slope recently for Brunch, but the place I wanted to try turned out to be just a bar, so we went wandering around and lucky for us, found Provini (1302 8th Avenue, at the corner of 13th St., 718-369-2154). From the folks behind Bar Tano and Bar Toto, comes another cozy pressed-tin ceiling, wood bar eatery serving satisfyingly hearty & solid dishes. Light pours in through the front windows, and a large leather banquet lines one wall set up with tables for two.

I had a hard time choosing between an egg dish or a panini, but settled on the Black Forest Ham & Gruyere Panini with side salad. It was delicious. A substantial amount of ham was layered with cheese and grilled to perfection on delightfully crusty bread. The salad provided a nice, clean balance.

My friend ordered the Mushroom & Gruyere Fritatta which she described as "excellent" with "perfectly balanced tastes". Slices of the same crusty bread as in my panini were served alongside.

I also had a cappucino which was really good. The meal was priced very reasonably, our server was attentive and friendly and the space quietly elegant. I'm glad to know Park Slope is starting to get better dining options!

Provini on Urbanspoon