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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

These artisan chocolates are amazing. The pretzel covered sea salt caramels are inspired and a welcome addition to the sweet-salty dessert cannon. As instructed by the proprietors of the shop, they are to be eaten in a single bite, lest you spill a drop of the gooey caramel. They’re the nuanced version of Rold Gold honey wheat pretzel sticks dipped into a bowl of melted chocolate chips. The rest of the chocolates are equally delicious; the flavors are clean yet layered and not overly cloying. And yet, they speak to even the stalwart-iest of milk chocolate lovers.

Listings:

Bespoke Chocolates
6 Extra Place (down a cute little alley, on 1st St. between Bowery and 2nd Ave.)
New York NY, 10003
Telephone: 212-260-7103

Oh, baby! A six-pack of the best confections EV-AH.

Oh, baby! A six-pack of the best confections EV-AH.

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I was at a Mets game this past weekend. They lost in an abysmal fashion to the Nationals, but the day wasn’t a total waste. We saw the new stadium (loved it!), ate some delicious food (a reasonably priced $17 lobster roll from Catch of the Day, which is run by Dave Pasternack of Esca) and chilled out in the shade on a nice (well, if you’d call 86 degrees nice), sunny day. And, strangely enough, we got to listen to some Russian music. A few minutes into the game, I was insanely excited to hear the stadium organist or whatever play “Kalinka,” a traditional Russian folk song. I looked around to see if anyone’s face displayed the same sort of recognition mine did, but no, most just sat there and attended to their beers and baseball caps. May I suggest a rendition of “Katyusha” for next game?

Citifield, the new home of the Mets

Citifield, the new home of the Mets

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…is this delectable little individually-wrapped chocolate-covered cheesecake-like snack (though don’t ask for a “mini-cheesecake,” the counter people will either have no idea what you’re talking about or point you in the direction of their “American” cheesecake; ask for a “sirok”–“little cheese” in Russian). They’re usually found at the cheese counter and come in a variety of flavors like strawberry, vanilla and hazelnut. This one in particular is chocolate chunk and is from Taste of Russia, one of the best Russian grocers on the Brighton Beach Avenue strip. It’ll set you back $0.80 and is the creamiest, most wondrous little dessert in all of Little Odessa. Every single bite will make you want to do a happy dance. Go. Now. Oh, and check out this New York magazine guide for more stuff to do while you’re there.

The compact dessert

The compact dessert

Chocolate chunk innards

Chocolate chunk innards

Listings:

Taste of Russia
219 Brighton Beach Ave
(at Brighton 1st Rd)
Brooklyn, NY 11235
Telephone: 718-368-1560

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I tried Macaron Café when it first opened last April. I was impressed, but soon forgot about it when I had to take a freelance assignment further uptown and my lunch options dwindled to the vicinity right around Bryant Park. I revisited it the other day and have become certifiably obsessed. Lunch lines usually stretch out the door and there’s absolutely no place to sit and eat, but it’s all so worth it. The French proprietors are always in high spirits and seem very passionate about this venture, even if they do get a bit frazzled at times.

My Two Must-Try Sandwiches:

The Norvegian–smoked salmon, capers, lettuce, lemon juice, cream cheese, scallion, persil and black pepper sauce on pane d’filone

The Siciliano–Breseola “Italian dry beef”, cherry tomatoes, basilic and mozzarella on a baguette

And then there are the macarons…

(I have an obsession, as is evident.)

Fig macaron, left, and Toblerone macaron, right.

Fig macaron, left, and Toblerone macaron, right.

The innards of a Fig macaron

The innards of a Fig macaron

The fig macaron was satisfying, but it didn’t really taste like fig, more like tasty gray stuff. The ganache was smooth and creamy and not at all like the sort that sticks in your teeth. It was great, but I would have appreciated a stronger fig flavor, if only for novelty’s sake.

Toblerone innards

Toblerone innards

I’m not exactly sure what this Toblerone flavor entails; I forgot to ask. I’m guessing it’s like the chocolate bar–honey and nougat. Personally, I thought I tasted a bit of hazelnut and almond. It was REALLY good, though. Light, but decadent enough to satisfy an intense sweets craving.

My favorite macaron of theirs is the lavender and honey (the lovely lady behind the counter recommended it), which I had the other day but sadly, didn’t take a picture of. It was mild like a fruit salad–well, maybe a fruit salad topped with sugar–and tasted exactly like spring.

Listings:

Macaron Café
161 W. 36th St.
New York, NY 10018
Telephone: (646) 573-5048

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Admittedly, New York City doesn’t have much street cred when it comes to dessert. Old world capitals like Paris, Brussels and even Rome may stick up their noses at this scrappy contender, perhaps citing that its purported piece de resistance happens to be a too-sugary but still tasty (yea, I said it, got a problem with that?) cupcake from a not-to-be-named bakery featured on a shall-go-anonymous primetime television show. I say ptooey! to all that. Those who know its sweet spots know that the city is awash with amazing cafes, patisseries, bakeries and even delicatessens serving up near-perfect iterations of both European and classically American treats.

I didn’t plan on taking a sweets tour around the city yesterday–it was a bone-chilling 20 degrees outside, after all; the whole thing just, well, sorta happened! Really! Here are the results:

First Stop: Bouley Bakery

morewinterstuff-005

Clockwise from left: chestunt macaron, white chocolate macaron, chocolate macaron; all from Bouley Bakery

I’ve become a sort of macaron fiend. There’s something about the combined texture of the crispy cookie and the decadent ganache that I find irresistible. Also, they just feel fancy when you eat them; the components are all so delicate. These Bouley Bakery ones were lovely: the flavors were unique (well, except for just plain chocolate), each macaron had just the right amount of ganache filling and the cookie was fresh, light and airy. Also, the filling wasn’t American-sweet, it was a reserved European sweet. The gold and silver dusting on the chocolate and white chocolate macarons, respectively, added to the regal decadence of these French treats. They seem to be almost as much about the appearance as they are the taste. Staple colors like cotton-candy pink and spring green are meant to make a statement. (Yea, I know, I so got the boring colors.)

Second Stop: Jacques Torres Chocolate

Jacques Torres's yummy hot chocolate

Jacques Torres's yummy hot chocolate

This is seriously one of the best dessert deals in town. The other day, I paid $3 for some dinky hot chocolate at a local-yet-generic Brooklyn cafe. For only 25 cents more, you can purchase a bit of heaven in a cup at Jacques Torres Chocolate on Hudson street. This hot chocolate coats your throat, sort of like cough syrup, but really, not at all. It’s a warmth-all-over sort of coating. I love the classic, but try the caramel, orange or wicked (a chili-flavored version) if you’re feeling at all adventurous.

Third Stop: Russ & Daughters

a must-visit

Russ & Daughters: a must-visit

Russ & Daughters interior

Russ & Daughters interior

Note to guidebook-wielding tourists from Europe: if you are planning a visit to venerable appetizing outpost Russ & Daughters, don’t just look around. Please, I implore you, try something! These kinds of places are meant to be sampled not toured! Russ & Daughters has been around forever and is a go-to place for Kosher-style appetizing like lox, white fish, herring, beet salad, chopped liver and the like. It also just happens to have some of the best desserts in the area. Their chocolate babka is perfection for the carb-and-sugar-obsessed and their rugelach is a richly nuanced combination of bittersweet chocolate, orange marmalade and walnuts.

Listings:

Bouley Market (Bakery is inside)
120 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
Telephone: (212) 791-1722

Jacques Torres Chocolate
350 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 414-2462

Russ & Daughters
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (212) 475-4880

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A Blanket of White

Carroll Street looking West

Carroll Street looking West

Prospcet Park

Prospcet Park

Prospect Park looking West

Prospect Park looking West

It was snowing today–a whirlwind of white. My Brooklyn neighborhood, Park Slope, felt like it was in a child’s snow globe. Snow brings a welcome calm to New York. The streets are quieter, as though the flakes themselves have the ability to silence car horns and screeching brakes. I love the feel of them, even as they sting my face and settle in my eyelashes, obscuring my vision. Maybe it’s the accompanying rituals I love–the hot chocolate, the sledding, the walks through the park–or maybe it really is the snow itself, which transforms ordinary life into something special, extraordinary.

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