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CSNStores.com’s Hamilton Beach Hand Blender (Review)

25 Aug

Continuing with the New York City cramped kitchen theme, CSNStores.com has extended yet another lucky gift to FoodForFodder.com–this time to the tune of a $20 gift certificate to use anywhere on the site. As a reminder, CSNStores.com has over 200 online associated outlets where you can find anything you need from swingsets, to fitness equipment, or even insulated dog houses! CSNStores.com is really your one-stop destination for all your online shopping needs.

Similar to my review of the cast iron skillet, I really wanted to give readers some ideas about other useful kitchen gadgets that could really cut down on storage space and time. As I scoured the list of kitchen tools, the Hamilton Beach Turbo Twister 2 Speed Hand Blender almost popped off the screen. It is perfect for mixing cake batter, making pancake mix, creating homemade sauces and soups, or anything else that needs a good whip. Unlike bulky mixers that take up a ton of overhead storage space or can barely fit on your counter top when you need to use it, this hand blender is a slim item with multiple uses–and can actually fit in a drawer. Continue reading

The Spotted Pig — Big Burgers, Bigger Expectations

28 Apr

The West Village is one of those neighborhoods that’s so inexplicably enchanting, that even the most manly man can’t help but feel charmed by the rich architecture, European-esq streets, and affluent young couples content with their three-story walk-ups. One of the more popular eat-centric attractions in the West Village has been The Spotted Pig, a corner gastropub, which features a chipper mix of twenty or thirty-something adults, juicy hamburgers, and an inevitable twenty-five minute wait.

The Spotted Pig is a staple on most people’s “must try” list–including the plethora of European tourists that have increasingly crowded the already jam-packed name-list. Popular entrees like the Pan Seared Scallops with Ramps & Chili Pan and the Roasted Veal Chop with Baby Artichokes & Dandelion will run you $32 and $35, respectively, so the eatery is hardly as pedestrian as its interior suggests it should be. Instead, most people opt for their Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings, which is “modestly” priced at $17.  Continue reading

Billy’s Bakery — Becoming a Cake Zombie

16 Nov

You’ve probably seen zombies in horror films, but its real roots are in West African voodoo. The belief behind zombies is that wicked magic takes over your body, and transforms you into a flesh-eating monster. As terrible as that sounds, there is an even stronger, and more dangerous type of zombie out there–a cake zombie.

If you’re ever within a two block radius of Billy’s Bakery, an unparalleled baked smell wafts into your nostrils, and transforms you into the above zombie. For those unfamiliar with the lore, a “cake zombie” is someone who, upon picking up the slightest baked goods scent, will become a drooling, groaning, and even violent person until they get their cake fix. I am a cake zombie through and through, and for me, Billy’s banana cake restores me to sanity.

Before you lose your cake zombie status however, you must wait on the inevitable Billy’s line. Cake zombie or not, the wait is one of the most intolerable life experiences. Red velvet cupcakes, pumpkin cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, and a plethora of other love handle inducers laugh at you through the glass case as your stomach twitches in pain. There have been many times when the nice folks at Billy’s have told me to “keep the groaning down.” I try, I really do.

At $4.50 per slice, you might think it’s a bit on the expensive side for a piece of cake. Despite the unsettling price tag, the slice is huge (big enough to feed any zombie), and the quality is unmatched. The cake itself is incredibly moist, and the bananas shine through each bite. The best part is the cream cheese frosting. The words buttery, thick, and creamy instantly come to mind. In a nutshell, Billy’s banana cake is pure bliss. If you don’t indulge on your basic human impulses when you’re near Billy’s, then you might just be a regular zombie.

Note: if you’re ever in line in front of me, and you order the last slice of banana cake, expect a world of pain (or just a lot of me crying).

Contact:

184 9th Ave (between 21st St & 22nd St)
(212) 647-9956

75 Franklin St (between Church St & Avenue Of The Americas)
(212) 647-9958

billysbakerynyc.com

Artichoke Basilles Pizza – Decisions, Decisions

15 Nov

New York City has long been known for their pizza. Joints like Di Fara, Grimaldi’s, and countless others have been staples in the pizza scene for years, but in 2008, Artichoke Basilles Pizza threw their hat into the ring. Since opening their East Village shop, Artichoke has evolved into a city-wide favorite, and recently, has even opened a few new locations (in Chelsea and the Greenwich Village). Unlike the traditional pizza shop, however, Artichoke Basilles Pizza only offers four slices–artichoke, margarita, Sicilian, and crab.

You’d think only offering four slices would be limiting, but to be quite honest, it has the complete opposite effect. In fact, choosing between their slices is more stressful than being a Mets fan (which I unfortunately am). For me, the insufferable question is always: “artichoke or crab?” On the one hand, the artichoke slice is a creamy artichoke and cheese dip on a slice of pizza. If I’m at a restaurant, and they have artichoke dip, it’s one of those no-brainer orders. But don’t forget about the crab slice. This luscious slice features lumps of fresh crab, and is doused in a rich crab sauce. They’re both the same price ($4.50 or $5, depending on location), so you can’t use that as a deciding factor. It just becomes a coin toss. A stressful, potentially life-changing, and super delicious coin toss.

Regardless of which slice you end up with, Artichoke Basilles Pizza will not disappoint. Even though $4.50-5 seems like a lot of pay for a slice of pizza, the slices are huge, and the ingredients are unquestionably fresh and unique to any slice you’ll get in this city. Oh, I also forgot to mention they’re open until the wee house of the morning–making Artichoke Basilles Pizza one of the best late-night food stops too.

Note: they are cash-only, so make sure to remind your drunker friend to make a visit to the ATM, and that he/she “owes you.”

Contact:
328 E 14th St (between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
(212) 228-2004

111 MacDougal St
(646) 278-6100

114 W 17th St and 10th Ave
(212) 792-9200

artichokepizza.com

Punjabi Tadka — Not All Natives Have High Food Standards

10 Nov

After dabbling in Bombay Talkie’s take on “Indian street food,” I felt it was time to get back to authentic Indian cuisine. Most people are aware that if you want good Indian food in New York City, trekking out to Queens is your best bet. However, trekking out to Queens means you have to trek out to Queens. Not exactly an ideal situation–especially if it’s lunch and you work for a living.

Then Punjabi Tadka presented itself. Certainly not a flashy exterior or interior, but more importantly, I’ve often seen a lot of Indian cabbies parked outside the joint. “Finally, an authentic Indian spot,” I happily thought to myself. The rule of thumb to ethnic eating is usually: “if they’re a lot of natives eating there, then it must be good.” However, that was not the case at Punjabi Tadka.

As I looked down the menu list, the cashier suggested I partake in the lunch buffet. For $7, it entitles you to a plate of rice, saag paneer, chicken tikki masala, cauliflower vindaloo, and chicken drumsticks in a mild spice rub. I loaded up my plate (minus the saag paneer), and purchased a mango lassi to make it an even $10 (the minimum for credit cards). I asked the cashier for naan, but alas, they were fresh out (damn cabbies!).

When I opened my plate full of Indian food, that recognizable smell wafted through my nostrils (and probably the nostrils of my co-workers too). I started to dig in, but was instantly disappointed. The chicken was anti-thesis of moist, and just crumbled apart when I picked at it. The cauliflower was significantly overcooked, and the vindaloo would have made my grandmother turn in her grave (not that she was Indian and I’m pretty sure she didn’t like Indian food). The chicken drumsticks were bland and fatty. And lastly, the rice, like the cauliflower, was overcooked–but to the point of mere mush. The only saving grace was the mango lassi–it was a perfect, thick mixture of mango and yogurt.

The lesson in my experience at Punjabi Tadka is that you can’t always rely on who’s sitting in the restaurant. It’s often easy to resort to stereotypical foodie tips, but in most cases, the food will speak for itself.

Contact:
688 10th Ave (between 48th St & 49th St)
(212) 956-0185
punjabitadkany.com

Public — A Michelin Star Not Reserved for the Private Few

9 Nov

What does Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, and Public all have in common? If you guessed “winning a Michelin Star,” you’d be correct. However, unlike Gramercy Tavern or Bouley, Public serves brunch–and for very un-Michelin Star prices ($9-14).

As its name suggests, Public is not only open to the public, but also has a public library theme. So if the Dewey Decimal system tickles your fancy, then this restaurant will be right up your alley. Also, unlike other prize-winning eateries who enjoy making its prospective patrons suffer, the waiting process at Public is actually enjoyable. Public offers a bottom-less glass of their drink-du-jour–so depending on the weather, you could be sipping on anything from a refreshing pomegranate ice tea to a body-warming spiced apple cider.

As nice as the free drinks are, the food is the real prize. Public’s menu is filled with interesting options that press all the right culinary buttons. From the menu alone, it’s pretty obvious chef Brad Farmerie (Iron Chef Kitchen winner, and 2009 Next Iron Chef competitor) has a unique knack and feel for great ingredient combinations.

Of all the offerings, the coconut pancakes (with fresh ricotta, mango salad, and ginger-lie syrup) and the ginger spiced lychee french toast (with lemongrass dark palm caramel and pomegranate mascarpone) particularly stood out to me. As the waiter approached, I felt like MacGyver deciding between cutting the red or the green wire. “Is there anyway to try both,” I asked myself. There wasn’t. My eating mate was set on ordering the fry-up (two eggs poached, scrambled or fried on sourdough toast with slow roast tomatoes and buttered mushrooms). I hesitantly opted for the the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but thought to myself, “I will come back for the coconut pancakes.”

When the food arrived, I barely let the plate hit the table before diving in (well, after a quick picture, of course). About four wonderfully pleasing bites into the meal, I realized something odd–it didn’t taste nor look much like ginger spiced lychee french toast. In fact, there was no lychees or french toast on the plate. I concluded it was not the ginger spiced lychee french toast, but instead, the coconut pancakes! “Did the waiter read my mind,” I asked my now grinning self. Usually in situations where the waiter messes up the order, it would be automatic points off–however, since I desperately wanted to try both dishes, it was an absolute pleasure to inform the apologetic waiter of his mistake.

So away went the coconut pancakes, and in its place came the ginger spiced lychee french toast. The joke was a bit on me though, as I thoroughly enjoyed the now-gone coconut pancakes more. I found the lychees to have a canned-taste to them and the pomegranate mascarpone to be extremely overwhelming. The french toast was well made, but I felt the dish as a whole was scattered. In my opinion, the real brunch winner was actually the fry-up.

The ginger spiced lychee french toast aside, my Public experience was a great one–the ingredients were impressive, the dishes had a ton of care put into them, and the talent in the kitchen was unquestionable.

Contact:
210 Elizabeth St (between Spring St & Prince St)
(212) 343-7011
public-nyc.com

Bombay Talkie — Taking Street Food Inside

25 Oct

One of the most popular vehicles of food-creation has been street food. Street food emphasizes quick, small, and delicious dishes–and often one’s that are true to traditional, ethnic cuisines with a bit of “hipness” injected. This all rings true with Bombay Talkie–except it’s a sit-down restaurant.

Don’t get the wrong idea, Bombay Talkie offers plenty of traditional Indian entree style courses, but they proudly feature a list of “street bites” that could easily be transplanted to a marketplace beyond the concrete jungle. The “street bites” menu boasts plates like papdi chat, bombay bhel, pau bhaji, vada pav, frankie rolls, crab cakes, ginger pork kebobs, kathi rolls, and dosas.

I went for the crab cakes and a dosa with lamb. The crab cakes featured crab (of course), mashed potatoes, onions, a cilantro breading, and a tamarind chutney dipping sauce. The dish was a solid idea mixing traditional Indian flavors with the Maryland staple. While the exterior appeared crispy, it wasn’t as resilient as a crab cake should be. The “fried” fell off as soon as I cut the crab cake, leaving me with a little fried and a little mush. A better execution would have resulted in a very interesting dish.

The dosa, which is a rice and lentil “crepe,” is a much more familiar Indian dish. Unlike “crepes,” the rice and lentil dosa brings more unique flavors to the table than its wheat-based cousin. Bombay Talkie’s version was stuffed with minced “tart lamb,” and accompanied by contrasting tamarind chutney and cucumber raita dipping sauces. While the dish was tasty, it was a chore to eat, and I found that most of the meat ended up on the plate instead of my mouth.

In addition to the two “street bites,” I also ordered the classic chicken korma, pork vindaloo, and garlic naan. The korma was creamy, but the chicken was a little too firm. The dish also lacked the “entree”-size portion its $17 price tag suggested it should have. The vindaloo sauce was only moderately spicy, but its consistency was more similar to a salsa than a sauce. Unlike the chicken in the korma, the pork was appropriately tender–but the portion was still too small for its cost ($18). Lastly, the garlic naan had a real garlic kick to it and looked like an individual-sized pizza (a good portion).

Bombay Talkie certainly has some tasty offerings to foodies craving new-age Indian “street food,” but the menu prices are just too unreasonable, and there’s a good chance you’ll leave unfulfilled and significantly poorer.

Contact:
189 Ninth Avenue
(212) 242-1900
bombaytalkie.com

Vosges: Mo’s Bacon Bar — A Chocolate Delight

19 Oct

People love bacon and chocolate, but when mixed together, there’s a tendency to be grouped with that kid who always picked his nose and ate it. Well, I say pick your nose and eat it–err, I mean eat chocolate-covered bacon (with or without picking your nose).

Despite the unlikely flavor marriage, there is a growing bacon niche in the chocolate scene–but it has often been reserved to small shops like Roni-Sue’s in the Essex Street Market. As wonderful as Roni-Sue’s “Pig Candy” is, Vosges presents a unique opportunity for the mainstream public to easily try the seemingly taboo tandem.

I first noticed the Vosges bar while shopping at my beloved Zabars. I was at the checkout counter when I saw a host of Vosges bars–including the bacon bar. It instantly brought back wonderful memories of Rhonda Kave’s smile at the Essex Street Market, so I had little choice but to impulse buy some chocolate bacon. Even though it was right before dinner, I had to break open the wrapper, and eat the bar (yes, the entire bar). Note: I am a grown person, so I can eat chocolate before dinner (adulthood has its perks).

I immediately noticed the quality milk chocolate (it comes in dark too), the sharpness of the bacon, and the perfect pinch of salt in each bite. While Roni-Sue’s chocolate-covered bacon is certainly supreme–you can’t beat the freshness or the bacon-to-chocolate ratio–Vosges isn’t exactly a slacker. Critics have to remember that Vosges is a chocolate bar, whereas “Pig Candy” is actually a piece of bacon that’s covered in chocolate. Regardless of the semantics, my Vosges experience was a positive one.

You can probably find Vosges bars in most gourmet stores, along with its own self-titled locations in New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Vosges bars may soon become a household name, but in the event it becomes too popular, don’t count out a potential “Bacon M&M’s” competitor. In the meantime, however, I’ll stick with Vosges.

Price: around $6-7.50

Energy Kitchen — Energizing a Sea of Unhealthy Eaters

8 Jul

America is a nation of heavy eaters-we’re constantly looking to feast on whatever food tickles our respective fancies. In most cases, chains like McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, KFC, etc… tend to do the trick since they are quick, easy, and cheap. However, food icons like Jamie Oliver are calling for a healthy overhaul–essentially, “out” with the mainstay chains, and “in” with home-cooking and healthier foods. At Energy Kitchen, not only do they see eye to eye with Oliver’s healthy mission, but their expanding brand is putting the mission to action.

In all eight locations throughout New York City (and one in New Jersey), Energy Kitchen is striving to give busy workers and other city dwellers healthy options and alternatives at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-between.

…to read more, continue to NewYork.com

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