Sunday, July 29, 2012

Smorgasburg & Brooklyn Flea

Lately my weekend mornings have started like this: wake up, stretch, and stroll over to the Williamsburg waterfront to get some grub. On Saturdays, Smorgasburg has dozens of food vendors from all over Brooklyn. On Sundays the space is shared with vendors selling jewelry and antiques and other overpriced junk at the Brooklyn Flea, so the food selection is smaller. Either way, it's a great summer alternative to brunch.

We usually start with a Vietnamese iced coffee made from a blend of Viet style coffee, Cafe du Monde and condensed milk. Sometimes I taste a bit of chocolate in there. Really sweet and refreshing.

Then its onto the food. On super hot days when I need something light and cool, I really like the Cheong Fun noodle from Noodle Lane. It's kind of like a deconstructed summer roll with cucumbers, scallions, sprouts and peanut sauce.

Or if heat's not an issue, a whole pie right out of the oven from Pizza Moto is not a bad choice. Featured here is the pepperoni with basil.

If its meaty sandwiches you crave, there's a Porchetta stand, and we know how I feel about that. But there's also another great choice -- the Smoked Meat sandwich from Mile End. Cured and smoked brisket with just the right amount of mustard. The meat is fall-apart tender.

Speaking of brisket. I'm not a huge hot dog person, but even so I can appreciate a good weiner from Brooklyn Bangers. The brainchild of Saul Bolton, Brooklyn Bangers serves up dogs made with 100% brisket. 

As for the things I wouldn't go out of my way for, the short rib Takumi Taco is a bit overpriced and not so memorable, and the original sandwich from Bombay was a bit carb-heavy with the potatoes. Plus it got a little mushy.

I like to end things on a sweet note. If it's ice cream you crave, Blue Marble is a very respectable choice. 

But I personally cannot leave the waterfront without a donut from Dough. They made fun of me when I got a plain 'ol sugar cinnamon, so today I had the chocolate frosted with cocoa nibs, the bitter chocolate balancing the sweet amazingly. I have no idea how they get these donuts so high and fluffy. They might even be better than Peter Pan, but I think further research is necessary before I make such a crazy statement. I still have to try the dulce de leche, blood orange and cafe au lait flavors... to start, at least.

Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea 
East River Waterfront
Entrance at N. 7th and Kent Ave
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Walking Tour of E. 7th St.

I like to see New York as my own personal food carnival, popping in for phenomenal snacks to munch on while walking to the next destination. The block of 7th St. from 1st Ave to Ave A is filled with lots of shops with quick eats that are conducive to the munch-and-continue-on lifestyle. Here's a little walking tour of the East Village block.

Start at Porchetta. Enter, inhale the smell of porky bliss. Order the porchetta sandwich (obviously). Eat it on the bench outside. The pork, roasted with savory herbs, is served on a ciabatta roll, with the porous holes great for catching and hugging the greasy fat of the meat. The best part of the sandwich is the super crispy skin, adding a little crunch to the otherwise soft and tender meaty sandwich. If you have someone (or a few someones) to share it with, get the roasted potatoes with burnt ends.

Take a deep breath. Cross the street and get a lobster roll at Luke's. I believe that their lobster roll is the best in the city all year-round, but in the summertime, when lobster meat from Maine is ridiculously cheap, you get a lot more bang for your buck. Cool lobster claws seasoned with a hint of tarragon, served on a warm roll with a shallow base of mayo. A summertime staple.

Head next door to Caracas. If you've had enough meat for the evening, a vegetarian arepa will do you well. Maybe La Del Gato, with guayanes cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices. Or perhaps La Mulata with grilled white cheese, jalapenos, black beans, red peppers and plantains. Stringy cheese on a sweet corn base holds so much appeal to me.

Now, take a break before dessert. Walk around the block. Get a drink and settle in the back garden at DBA.

Ready to get back at it? If you're still full, you can grab a light People's Pops right at the corner of 7th. I've only tried the peach mint pop, which I wasn't crazy about, so I'd recommend pressing on. Head to the opposite side of 7th, closer to Ave A. Hop into Butter Lane and grab a cupcake for the line at Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. The line will look long, but it'll go fast. Get the Salty Pimp, vanilla soft serve on a cone with a drizzle of caramel-like dulce de leche, a few shakes of salt, and the whole thing dipped in chocolate. You'll have to eat it fast as the ice cream leaks out of the chocolate dip pretty quickly on hot evenings, but you're up for the challenge, right?

Next week, maybe a walking tour of East 8th St. is in order...

110 E 7th St

Luke's Lobster
93 E. 7th St

Caracas Arepa Bar
93 1/2 E. 7th St.

People's Pops
118  First Ave

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
125 E. 7th St.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Outer Banks Highlights 2012

Ah, the annual trip to the Outer Banks, where we hit a few tried and true spots and try to find something new. Which can be hard, since we've been going since I was about 11. No trip is complete without a leisurely dinner at Kill Devil Grill, and this year I had an awesome soft shell crab with sweet corn, black beans and polenta. They truly never disappoint.

This year the parents discovered a Jamaican-inspired spot down the road from us in Southern Shores, called Rundown Cafe, which I'm fairly sure also owns Tortugas' Lie down in Nags Head as the menu is pretttt-tay similar. But Rundown differentiates itself with a great coconut milk soup with fish, yams, tomatoes an onions that "run down ya throat sooo good, mon."

But the best discovery of the year was made by Rob and I on our way to the fishing pier one morning. We always drove by Duck Donuts, a mini chain down in the OBX, without giving it a second thought, given the name and its association. But what's in a name; will another donut taste as sweet? Fortunately the donuts here are nothing like the DD's I was expecting. They actually make the donuts fresh here, while you watch, and then dunk them in a glaze while its still hot. We got lemon. And the cakey yet greasy donut was still warm and sticky by the time we got down to Avalon Pier

2008 S Virginia Dare Trl
Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
(252) 449-8181
5218 Virginia Dare Trl N
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 255-0026

3014 S Virginia Dare Trail
Nags Head, NC 27959
(252) 441-7299

Duck Donuts
5230 N Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
(252) 261-3312

Monday, July 2, 2012

Annisa is Still My Favorite Restaurant

I love Annisa for a lot of reasons. The dining room is the right balance of comfortable and elegant, the bar is great for downing one signature cocktail after the next (try the Nash), and on the menu, there is always something new to taste and something familiar to savor. But the best reason to love this place is safety in trying a completely new (to me) ingredient. I can almost guarantee that I will enjoy whatever this new thing is. But then, I'm spoiled by how great it is. For example, I tried my first soft shell crab here, and, thinking I really liked it, ordered at a few other restaurants before realizing I only really like Anita's soft shell crab. C'est la vie.

On our last visit I tried cooked calf liver for the first time (had an amazing raw version at Bozu two years ago, though). Annisa's, with bacon, sweet peas and maple blossoms, was fantastically prepared, with warm, hearty, tender meat practically melting into sweet peas and tangy onions. So comforting and yet so original.

Frog's legs. I have never tried frog's legs until a recent Annisa visit. They remind me of tiny chicken wings with funny, tiny bones, only super tender and delicate. The delicacy was offset by buttery lobster in buttery grits, at once a familiar Southern comfort and a decadent luxury. Those lobstery bites may well have been my favorite of the evening.

There were a few other new things for me, too. Fried calf brain came alongside medallions of veal, and after a few timid bites, I realize I really liked the soft, fragrant and meaty nuggets, if only I could forget what they were. And pig's feet, stuffed with sherry inside a whole pan roasted chicken.

And while we're on the topic of new fried food, I really liked the garlic fried milk that accompanies the Spanish mackerel. It wasn't at all what I expected. I assumed it would be more of a liquid than a savory, creamy beignet. Almost like a cheese puff.

I'm going back in the Fall. And I already can't wait!

13 Barrow St.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Brunch at Back Forty West

The girls brunch this month took place at Back Forty West, a cute spot in SoHo with a spacious, homey and air conditioned upstairs seating area ideal for to wasting a few hours on a hot Saturday afternoon. I haven't had a fried poached egg in awhile, maybe since Prune awhile back, and this one reminded me why I love them so much. It came on an open faced sandwich with capers, parsley, large chunks of celery and a lemony mayo. Salty and acidic to wake you up when the iced coffee alone isn't quite cutting it.

Back Forty West
70 Prince St. (at Crosby)

Sweet Summer Treats

I walk by Sweet Leaf in LIC every morning on my way to work. Sometimes I stop in for an iced Vietnamese or New Orleans coffee, but only recently did I discover they have pretty amazing baked goods, too. My newest obsession is a strawberry scone with black pepper. It's fresh and moist and has lots of pepper to offset the strawberries baked inside.

And today, wandering from the West Village to the East Village just for its own sake, I needed something ice cold to keep me going. The chocolate dipped pistachio gelato from popbar did the trick, until it started melting about five seconds later. You gotta eat these fast on 90 degree days!

Sweet Leaf
10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens

5 Carmine St. (@ 6th Ave.)