May 31, 2009

Delicious Ice Cream Sandwich in the Most Unlikely Place

Who would have thought that a beer store would produce one of the best ice cream sandwiches we have ever eaten? We wandered into Bierkraft to see what beers were available on draft (to fill our growler).

Instead, we ended up debating over Bierkraft's own delicious ice cream sandwiches: brownie with vanilla chocolate crunch gelato filling, pecan blondie with dolce de leche gelato, brownie with peanut butter gelato, cherry blondie with dark chocolate gelato.

All of the sandwiches are made with il laboratorio del gelato and the brownies and blondies are made with organic and gourmet ingredients (including beer!). We chose the cherry blondie with dark chocolate gelato, which was very large (and only $4.95). It wasn't overly sweet, had great texture, and the gelato was wonderful. It's a great treat to share on a summer's day.

Bierkraft is located at 191 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

May 30, 2009

Alamos Malbec Seleccion

We recently had a couple of bottles of the 2007 Alamos Malbec Seleccion (Bodega Catena, Mendoza region of Argentina). This wine is one of our favourite everyday reds.

The regular Alamos Malbec is usually $15-$16 per bottle in NYC. We were excited to see the Seleccion version at Zachys (in Scarsdale, NY), so we bought a case. (We also ended up getting a great deal, paying about $12.50/bottle).

The Seleccion is ripe and fruit forward with a lot of dark, almost plummy fruit on open (not jammy though) and is deep purple in color. After some air, the upfront fruit fades a bit, with a little grapiness as the wine warms. A round, medium-body mouthfeel with some decent astringency on the finish to go with your steak or BBQ... definitely not bad for a bigger, value-oriented Argentinian Malbec. Cheers!

May 29, 2009

Best Black and White Cookies in NYC

Every New Yorker has his or her favourite place for Black and White cookies. Actually, they're not really cookies. They're more like flattened shortbread-like spongey cake with chocolate and vanilla icing on top. The cookies were made even more famous by the Seinfeld episode, "The Dinner Party" where Jerry proclaims,"Look to the cookie" as the answer to race relations.

We headed over to William Greenberg, a mainstay since 1946 on the Upper East Side. The wonderful smell of homemade goods hit us when we enter. Even though the store is filled with pastries, cupcakes, and tarts, we head straight for the black and white cookie.

The Black and White cookie ($3.50, smaller ones are $2 each) is amazing! The cookie was fresh and the frosting was sinfully decadent.

Why is this the perfect black and white cookie? In addition to the creamy frosting, the cookie part is thick, rich, and moist (versus non-traditional drier/biscotti-type versions).

William Greenberg
is located at 1100 Madison Ave. (btwn E83rd and E84th Sts.)
William Greenberg Jr. Desserts on Urbanspoon

May 28, 2009

B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher from Hoppin' Frog Brewery

We were surprised when we stopped by a local pub to find B.O.R.IS The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout from Hoppin' Frog Brewery. We've had the 22oz bottles of this before but we've never had it on tap. The first time we had this, we made the mistake of drinking the whole big bottle in one sitting as it is 9.4% ABV. It does pack a wallop.

The beer looks just like it tastes. It is thick, bold, and rich. We tasted dark, smoky fruit and roasted coffee. After we let it sit and warm up a bit, the sweetness diminished a bit. This allowed some of the roasted malt and coffee aromas to take over. And the finish is not overly bitter but is long lasting. If you drink this too fast, well look will crush you (and us) every time. Too bad we couldn't fill our own growler to take some beer to go. We would've loved to bring it home to pair with chocolate - it makes a great, after-dinner drink!

B.O.R.I.S (Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout) is from Hoppin' Frog Brewery located in Akron, OH.

May 27, 2009

Rattle n Hum - Beer tastings anyone?

We love trying new craft beers, so we were eager to check out Rattle n Hum. It's a relatively new bar in midtown that features craft beers from over 40 taps and 4 casks. Rattle n Hum also offers growlers to take the beer home with you.

This is a beer lover's dream. The selection is ever-changing and the menus feature ratings by Beer Advocate. Some of their recent selections on tap and in cask have included brews from Stone, Allagash, Sixpoint and Bear Republic along with a great selection of big bottles.

Pretty crowded for a Tuesday night!

Big, spicy, and meaty wings...At only 25 cents a pop, they make for some great cheap eats.

And, or course, we indulge in the beer tastings of craft beers on tap (draft and cask). A tasting of 4 beers start at $7.

Rattle n Hum is located on 14 E 33rd St (btwn 5th Ave and Madison Ave)
Rattle n Hum on Urbanspoon

May 26, 2009

govino - Elegant wineglasses anywhere you go!

We love outdoor get-togethers and sharing great wines with
friends and family wherever we go. But we always face the dilemma of either serving a fine bottle in cheap plastic cups or sacrificing Waterford glasses for the greater good.

Govino glasses are a perfect solution to our entertaining needs. We tried them out this weekend after reading about them in a wine magazine. At only $2.99 each (or a 4-pack at $11.95), they are an inexpensive way to showcase our favourite wines without worrying about broken glass.

The glasses feature a dent on the side for your thumb so you can easily carry them. They are also lightweight, yet durable.

Originally designed for wine professionals, these glasses are made of a special plastic that acts like crystal...that is, you can properly see your wine's colour and smell its bouquet. We loved its design as it was perfect for swirling, sniffing, and most importantly, drinking wine.

And the glasses are shatterproof too (as seen by how bendy the glass is in the photo above). One of the guests even dropped the glass, only to have it bounce back in his hand.

These beautiful glasses are reusable (they should be hand-washed) and recyclable.

For more information, including where to purchase these wineglasses, go to:

May 25, 2009

Crif Dogs: Hot Dog Hedonism

New Yorkers are proud of their hot dogs. From dirty-water dogs outside Yankee Stadium to Gray's Papaya, there are a myriad of choices found in the city.

Another well-known mecca of hot dogs is Crif Dogs, found on the Lower East Side. Locals and tourists alike trek down here for what many consider are the best hot dogs in New York.

The extensive menu is packed with various options to dress your Crif Dog. The Crif Dog itself is a handmade, naturally smoked dog. You can customize your dog by choosing from a variety of toppings, or you can just leave it to the experts and order from the menu. There are also Crif Burgers available...but we came here for the dogs!

Spicy Redneck ($4.75): Crif Dog's #1 best-seller. This is a bacon-wrapped Crif Dog with chili, cole slaw, and jalapenos. It was incredibly filling, but delicious. It was spicy (from the peppers) but cool and refreshing (from the cole slaw). The slaw added crunch, while the chili made it hearty. We loved how all the flavours and textures mixed together. A meal in itself, this was our favourite.

Chili Dog ($3.75): This well done Crif Dog (deep fried!) was topped with mustard, onions, and their special chili sauce. It was tasty and indulgent.

Chihuahua ($4.50): This bacon-wrap Crif Dog was covered with sour cream and avocadoes. It was lighter than the other two and the avocados were nice and fresh.

"Secret" entrance to PDT (Please Don't Tell). Phone reservations are needed ahead of time to enter this speakeasy. You can also order Crif Dogs here, in a more sophisticated, sexier lounge.

We like the "hole in the wall" feel of Crif Dogs. The hot-dogs just seem to taste even better when you can indulge in a game of vintage Ms. Pac-Man.

Crif Dogs is located at 113 Saint Marks Place (btwn 1st Ave and Ave A).
Crif Dogs on Urbanspoon

May 24, 2009

Cichin 2000 Barbaresco

We recently wandered around Park Slope in Brooklyn and happened upon a local wine shop, Red, White & Bubbly. Since we had the 2001 Cichin at Esca in Hell's Kitchen, a bottle of the 2000 Ada Nada Cichin Barbaresco ($35) caught our eye.

The colour of the wine was a dark garnet. There was some menthol on the nose when we first poured it. We should have opened the wine a few hours earlier.

When we poured the wine, there were few bits of sediment in it and the wine was still juicy and fresh. After letting the wine open up for a while, it became light and elegant with a little iodine and leather on the nose, very faint oak and cherry, light acidity, fleshy tannins and a slight menthol and drying finish. For $35, this was not bad for a Barbaresco with some age on it since most newer 2004 and 2005 Barbaresco's start in the $30 to $40 range and are not ready to drink yet.

May 23, 2009

The Bent Spoon - Best Ice Cream in New Jersey

It's the long weekend - so of course our thoughts turn to road trips and summer treats.

We recently went out to Princeton, NJ to visit friends, soak in the Ivy League neighbourhood, and enjoy some of the best ice cream we ever had.

The Bent Spoon is known for its artisanal ice creams and sorbets that are made in-store. With an ever-changing menu, The Bent Spoon use local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. This makes for some interesting and creative flavours including lavender, ricotta, and watermelon basil. The staff was very friendly, indulging our curiosity, and letting us try as many different flavours as we wanted.

We chose organic vanilla bean and habanero chocolate (2 scoops=$3.50). Both flavours were really good, but of course, we loved the spicy kick of the habanero chocolate. Because the ice cream is handmade and uses fresh, natural ingredients, the flavours are delightfully sharp. We cannot wait for our next visit!

The Bent Spoon is located at 35 Palmer Square West, Princeton, NJ.
Bent Spoon on Urbanspoon

May 22, 2009

Veronica's Kitchen - Bringing Soul to Wall St.

The Financial District has never been a go-to culinary destination. But there are some random gems to be found. Veronica's Kitchen happens to be one of them.

As we approach, we can smell the delicious soul food. We got there by 12:45 pm and managed to be only fifth in line. We've been told that waits can exceed 20 mins at times - so our 6 mins wait wasn't too bad at all.

Besides, we needed some time to digest the huge menu.

We opted for the large meal of Jerk Chicken with mac n' cheese and potato salad ($7.50). The chicken was nicely seasoned with a little hot spicy kick on the back end (you can see the hot pepper and pepper seeds!). It was very flavourful and we loved the ox tail sauce on top. The mac n' cheese was good (it's always nice having this comfort food without the neon orange American cheese). The potato salad was just ok - it paled in comparison to the jerk chicken.

We also chose the large meal of Ox Tail with Collard Greens and Rice and Peas ($8.50). The ox tail was fantastic! The braised meat fell right off the bone. It was very flavourful. The sides were great too. The collard greens were tasty and not greasy. The rice and peas went well as it sopped up the delicious ox tail sauce.

Veronica's Kitchen can be found on 125 Front St. (btwn Wall and Pine Sts.)

May 21, 2009

Street Fairs Part 2 - UWS edition

The best part of living in New York is that on any random day, you never know what can happen. Last weekend, we were blessed with one of those rare "don't have anything to do" days and happily walked out our door to find another street fair.

So we wandered along Amsterdam Ave. from W 86th down to W 73rd street and checked out the local offerings.

Our favourite neighbourhood Thai spot, Land (450 Amsterdam Ave btwn W81st and W82nd Sts), were setting up to offer their delicious pad thai, Thai iced tea, and chicken skewers. Land is our go-to place for their $8 2-course lunch (available for both dine-in and take-out)

Sido (403 Amsterdam Ave. btwn W79th and W80th Sts.) offers fantastic falafel wraps, grape leaves, and other satisfying vegetarian treats. We usually come here for a quick, healthy meal all for under $5.

This is our first glimpse of what recipe, the new restaurant on Amsterdam between W81st and W82nd Sts., has to offer.

recipe was offering oysters, clams, and calamari. We look forward to dining at this new restaurant.

And of course, who could pass up $3 beers on draft?

Who could miss the giant beer bottle outside Irish pub George Keeley's (485 Amsterdam Ave btwn W83rd and W84th Sts).

Lots of beer on tap!

And the before shot of the porchetta...

mmm...the meat on the grill smelled so good!

And the porchetta looked delicious!

We opted for their Frickadelle burger ($8). A mix of beef and pork, topped with onions and peppers. It was fantastic and very satisfying.

The porchetta ($9) was so good! The skin was crispy, but not too hard, and the meat was well seasoned.

The peppers and onions were tender and tasty. It gave the sandwich a nice rustic flavour.

There was tons of Indian Food. There were this appetizing buffet from Earthen Oven (53 W72nd St)

And then there was this spread from Alachi Masala (488 Amsterdam Ave btwn W83rd & W84th Sts.)

Everything looked good and we have been meaning to dine here because it is a BYOB restaurant.
We got the "end of the day" special from Alachi Masala. The large takeout container of naan, basmati rice, goat curry, chick peas, and red chicken tikka only cost us $7. The 2 huge samosas and fried onion set us back a mere $2. The food was fantastic! The chicken tikka was slightly sweet while the goat and chick pea curries were wonderfully spicy. The samosas weren't greasy and filled up with lots of potato and peas. The onion was incredibly tasty...not burnt, but fried enough to bring out the sweet caramelized taste of the onion.

We love street fairs - they're such a quick and tasty way to (re)discover new places and old standbys right in your neighbourhood!