Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weekend Treats

Cupcakes from Sprinkles (I prefer the black and white, though this dark chocolate one's prettier).

And the New Orleans iced coffee from Blue Bottle with stout coffee cake. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Five Leaves Burger

Okay, so I know I was just talking about how great a classic burger is and how special its non-specialness is and all that, but I have to talk about the concept of the Five Leaves burger now. It's fantastic. I've had it a little overdone or underdone or generally not that great in the past and it seems like they've finally nailed it.

The Five Leaves burger is a big, high-quality, somewhat fatty beef chuck topped with a grilled pineapple ring, pickled beets and a sunny-side-up egg with harissa mayo on a ciabatta bun. The end result is a fantastic combination of sweet, spicy and beefy, the egg adding a level of creaminess and the pineapple and beets contributing a little vinegar in addition to its unique flavors. (Strange illumination of picture below due to combination of 2009 iPhone pic in dim light and misunderstanding of Photoshop techniques in general).

I knew that the burger had the potential to be this good because I've made this at home before! Yup, one of my favorite recipe books, The New Brooklyn Cookbook, includes the burger from Five Leaves (and also the brick chicken from Marlow & Sons, duck legs and dirty rice from Egg, and the hanger steak from Dressler... hard to find a more awesome book). It was a bit of advanced cooking in terms of timing and patience making this at home, but it also gave me an appreciation for what goes into it. The pineapple ring is cooked in vinegar, honey, ginger and a few other ingredients before sitting overnight in the fridge. It's grilled right before its placed on the burger. The harissa mayo is whipped up at home with a little lime zest and lime juice. The eggs have to be fried just right. The buns need to be grilled with butter and the burgers need to be shaped and cooked to a perfect medium rare.

If you're feeling crafty, you should give it a try. Or go to Nights and Weekends for a few drinks, because your table at Five Leaves won't be ready for at least another hour.

Five Leaves
18 Bedford Ave

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Classic Burgers: Shake Shack & JG Melon

Happy almost Spring! We're lucky Daylight Savings Time began on such a mild, warm day. This afternoon we set off for a few hours of wandering about the city with hopes of catching an early, hopefully waitless dinner at Ippudo. But after a walking a few blocks out in the sun, we decided instead to join the end of the 40 min line at Shake Shack. 

It's something about the longer, lazier days that makes me think of classic, just-off-the-grill burgers that you'd get at home. No fancy cheese, no weird bun, no fois gras. Just quality meat, a basic hamburger bun, American cheese, lettuce, tomato. The Shackburger has definitely grown on me since the first time I had it. I like the almost jagged, uneven burger patties, the small amount of grease that seeps into the fresh bun, the American cheese that binds everything together. The krinkle cut fries have improved a lot here as well. They're crispier than they used to be. And better with cheese on top.

I'm glad it was getting a little chilly towards the end of the meal, or else I might have been tempted to hop onto the B Line and get one of those Concrete Jungle frozen custards with the fudge and peanut butter and bananas. OMG deliciousness. Shoot, I'm kind of regretting not getting one now.

JG Melon's burger is really similar to Shake Shack's, but they seem to get a lot less attention. Maybe because the old bar is tucked away on the UES? Still, the place still gets pretty crowded on the weekends. They use fresh, high quality meat with a lot of salt, plain American cheese, and a regular bun. I like to get mine with bacon for an extra crunch. 

I should add that I don't think any plain old burger is a good one. I'm a firm believer that it all comes back to the quality of the ingredients. Donovan's Pub in Woodside is supposed to have one of the better ones, but on my last visit, the burger was overcooked and the bacon had that springiness that old bacon tends to have. Lesson learned: a trip to Woodside will never be complete without a meal at Srirpraphai!

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park

JG Melon
1291 Third Ave (at 74th St.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cupcakes, Donuts & Gelato

Sweet things I like:

The Pain Perdu (french toast) from Le Gamin on Franklin Street in Greenpoint.

 The macarons from Cookie Road practically next door. They're fun to stack.

Cupcakes with extra sprinkles from (where else) Sprinkles. And who else is excited about their experimental cupcake ATM in LA?

And, speaking of cupcakes, did you know they offered wine pairings for your cupcake choice at Sweet Revenge? This one (from mid-summer) came with something sweet and bubbly.

Love Gelato.

And those irresistible coconut cream donuts from the Donut Plant. Will cause major blood sugar spike.