I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Monday, January 31, 2011

Robicelli's Cupcakes at OpenHouse

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Nothing wrong with eating cupcakes for lunch by yourself in a AstroTurf fake park 

I guess it has been a cupcake kind of weekend....

After two weeks of searching and no hope from anyone at all, I found what I have been looking for: Robicelli’s Cupcake Chicken n’ Waffles. Last night before going to New York City  the Arctic Tundra, I randomly went to the Robicelli’s Cupcake site to find that they would be at the Park Here at OpenHouseNYC. It is basically a weird indoor astrotruf park that people can hang in. Now that I think about it, not so weird given the snowy Nordic conditions that the East Coast has suddenly become. OpenHouse allows vendors such as Robicelli’s and others to showcase their products.

Robicelli’s only had a few that I regret to not record but I went above and beyond stomach capacity (I did not really eat lunch and trekked through Williamsburg fending off hipsters beforehand) and chowed down on four of their unique cupcakes. Although seemingly unhealthy for a lunch, the composition of the cupcakes technically made it for a balance meal. Take that Michelle Obama’s Anti-Obesity Campaign! **Note I do not endorse replacing meals with cupcakes**

Hot Josh top left and El Guapo bottom right

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Everything Frosted Cupcakes

Everything Frosted 

 Signage outside

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: When tea shop/jewelry store/internet cafe clearly says no outside food allowed, ignore it. 

The address of this place is 105 ½ Mosco Street in Chinatown and I immediately thought that this was some weird Harry Potter book and I got to walk through a wall to get to this place. In my quest for food awesomeness, after a pleasant dim sum meal at 27 Sunshine, me and my culinary companions (or extra stomachs) walked over to Everything Frosted, new to the cupcake and bakery scene opening up late 2010. Everything Frosted sets itself apart by using Asian influenced flavors, such as black sesame or taro and an ever changing combination cakes and frosting offerings. This dessert roulette can produce anything from a hazelnut cupcake with a red bean frosting, to a red velvet cupcake with a cookies and cream frosting and completely different offerings the next day. If you are bad at making decisions your options are:

A)    Look up their various cakes and frosting offering and compile a pre determined list of cupcake/frosting combinations you like. I believe the only prerequisite for determining the amount of combinations is at least Algebra, probably a B- or better
B)     Roulette style, just point and grunt and choose at random.
C)    Go with 2 or more people so you can choose multiple ones and try a little bit of each

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nomad Pizza

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self:  GPS is awesome

I realized today as I was leaving the house for work, that I have not seen grass since Christmas. Although I do enjoy a Winter Wonderland, I do not want a Winter Wonderland for four consecutive weeks. I found this little piece from a review of Nomad Pizza back in the summer and just reading it and looking at the pictures of hot steamy pies just warms me up, as well as crave a chewy, steamy Neapolitan pizza in this cold weather.
I had my first Neapolitan pizza when I was in Naples. I unfortunately, was not fully culinary aware at the time so I underappreciated the value and my experience of such a special pizza. One thing I did know and learn was that:

1. There was more to pizza than the Neo-Neapolitan pizza I was used to eating
2. Getting drunk in front of your parents, although good idea at the time is pretty awkward
3. Neapolitan pizza is like no other and is by far, my favorite style

Now, for those of you that are not food nerds/losers that do not read and research food constantly or in this case, read Ed Levine’s Slice of Heaven, there are many types of pizzas. Not going into a whole food history, Wikipedia-like lesson, generally the pizza that we know that comes from your local pizzeria is characterized as New York Neapolitan pizza, the step child of the original Neapolitan pizza. True Neapolitan pizza has stringent standards to be called a true Neapolitan. There are actual government, bureaucratic rules to this set by the Italian government and the city of Naples. You have got to love the Europeans, only they would set laws on food standards, better that the United States doing the whole “freedom fries”. The rules range from the construction (hand formed, 12-14 inches, 0 or 00 flour), to the ingredients (San Marzano Tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy and fresh as hell mozzarella from region around Naples like Campania or the Southern Apennine Mountians). Bascially you get the idea that this is no ordinary style of pizza but the main gist of it is the usage of the best and freshest ingredients and producing the best pie one can create.  As ridiculous as these rules may seem to you (read normal people) these standards create something unlike any other pizza. Neapolitan pizza has a texture and taste that is unlike anything I have ever eaten.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mast Brothers Chocolate

Straight up Amish Beards. Picture via SeriousEats

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Having a chocolate box is normal.

I did not actually use a razor and shave until the tender age of 23. I am currently 24 years old. I am quite envious of people that can grow glorious beards and mustaches; I AM TALKING TO YOU TOM SELLECK. I am envious of people such as the Mast Brothers that have the ability to grow insane facial hair and make tasty, quality food. Besides the ability to grow Amish-like beards, they produce high quality chocolate bars. Boasting to be American Craft Chocolate, Mast Brothers Chocolate is based out of Brooklyn and are making and packaging their chocolates by hand ensuring the high quality chocolate. I recently was able to try two of their chocolate bars: the Dominican Republic and Hazelnut. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Carrot Cake

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Cream cheese frosting tastes awesome...especially the morning after when a smudge of it sat on the table overnight. Don't judge me.

I never liked Carrot Cake as a kid. My Mom rarely bought any sweets and when she did, it was a special occasion for a fat kid like me. On the rare occasions she bought cake, I was happy like the fat kid in Willy Wonka that drank from the Chocolate River. Imagine my surprise when I would be psyched for cake and  I realized that she bought a Carrot Cake. World would collapse and go dark, I start shopping at Hot Topic and start writing bad poetry. Being Asian I broke it down my dislike for Carrot Cake mathematically:

Carrot= Vegetable
Vegetable= Not Cool/do not want

Therefore, Carrot= Not Cool/do not want and Cake= Cool/do want then:

Carrot + Cake= 0

0 is fail.

I got older, I became less of a picky eater and became open to other foods and it was not until I got to college that I actually appreciated Carrot Cake. Sadly, the first Carrot Cake that I remember enjoying was about Sophomore year at the Busch Dining Hall (Rutgers U. acknowledgement) and I was pretty sure that it was a sheet cake. Carrots themselves are naturally sweet so it is no surprise to make it into a carrot and topped with a traditional cream cheese frosting a great pairing.

I copped this recipe from the Flour Bakery Cookbook. Joanne Chang is a badass baker and I think I secretly have a weird Amy Tang novel connection with her with the whole Asian-person-not-wanting-to-do stereotype-Asian-job-and-bake kind of deal

Great thing about her book is she not only got volume measurements but also have the weight measurements which is far more accurate and easy to divide if you don’t want that much. I used dried cranberries instead of raisins and poached them in a mix of rum and white wine to give it a boozy kick.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Four Bakery Cookbook

1 cups + 2 tablespoon (160 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon buttermilk (yogurt, heavy cream, sour cream all works fine)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups (260 grams) grated carrots
1 cup (50 grams) coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup (80 grams) raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup (220 grams) of brown sugar
3/4 (150 grams) canola oil
2 large eggs
For the Frosting
12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoon/half cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 1 2/3 cups (230 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Butter and flour one 8 inch cake pan.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the sugar, oil, buttermilk together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean; the cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and un-mold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
Frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth.
To assemble: Wait for all parts to cool down, makes it easier to work with. Cut the cake in half, frost it up let it rest/cool in the refrigerator, profit/eat.
**For Boozy poached raisins (via www.thekitchn): Place your raisins in a saucepan and add 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum, 3/4 cup dry white wine, 3 tablespoons orange juice, and a little sugar if you'd like. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the raisins have soaked up the liquid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Meatball Shop Beard House Luncheon

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Not everyone, especially at the Beard House want to hear about Chef from South Park Chocolate Salty Balls.

Friday was a day off so I braved the cold and went to the James Beard House for a luncheon show casing Dan Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop where they prepared hors d’oeuvres and a tasting. Who does not love meat in ball form?
One thing that I learned from this and will forever take with me is: NEVER, EVER, EVER be late to a James Beard House event. You end up missing the hors d'oeuvres and hors d’oeuvres are awesome. It is like a classy buffet where they bring you stuff and mingle with other people. Due to circumstances out of my control I did not get there till before the main tasting and ended up missing the onb slaught of hors d’oeuvres. The hors d’oeuvres line up was: Miniature Maryland Crabmeat and Potato Chip Meatballs with Old Bay dipping sauce, Mini Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Blue Cheese dipping sauce and Reuben Meatball sliders with Sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing with all the Prosecco you can drink (socially acceptable to drink).

 Miniature Maryland Crabmeat and Potato Chip Meatballs with Old Bay Dipping Sauce. 
**Due to Social Grace/Etiquette I did not sit there and shove all of them in my mouth and down the dipping sauce like a Big Gulp.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Robicelli's Cupcakes

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Nothing wrong with having a cupcake at 9:30 in the morning

I like cupcakes, but I never really got onto the whole cupcake craze, a cupcake is just a pre-portioned slice of cake. I much prefer to have a slice of cake given a choice between the two. However, I do appreciate a good cupcake that does not taste like airy cardboard and bring ones that back memories of elementary school birthday pass outs. My Mom never cared enough to bake cupcakes for the class, we just Munkin-ed it up from Dunkin Donuts.

I have my favorite cupcakes like Sugar Sweet Sunshine and Two Little Red Hens but I have to add another to that list: Robicelli’s Cupcakes. Hitting the top for People Choice via Midtown Lunch and SeriousEats, I knew I had to hurry up and get my grubby mitts on these and try one.
Robicelli’s is different not only in there seasonal and non traditional cupcakes such as their PB& Grape J (Vanilla cake, grape jelly, peanut butter buttercream, chopped peanuts) and their Chicken n’Waffles (Vanilla “waffle” cake, vanilla buttercream, buttermilk soaked fried chicken dunked in pure Vermont maple syrup, this one just makes my heart skip a couple of beats, if anyone can point me in the direction of this said cupcake I will give you 1 WHOLE DOLLAR) but they also do not have an actual brick and motar store front. They basically make a lot of cupcakes and then bring them to various places to sell them, one of them being Cake Shop in the LES. Cake Shop a coffee/record/bake goods/music shop that has a very Kurt Kobain-esque vibe to it. However, they do make a descent cup of coffee (I am pretty sure that because it is a bar as well you can Irish it up which is always a plus) and have various bake goods, such as Robicelli’s Cupcakes.

 Pecan Potato Chip upper left and bottom right the Car Bomb
In order to not feel like a complete Fatty McFatterson, and to save room (I also was going to do a meatball tasting at the Beard House) I got two cupcakes, the Pecan Potato Chip and the Car Bomb. I went for the Car Bomb first which is a Chocolate Guinness stout cake, Jameson whiskey butter cream, Bailey’s butter cream. This cupcake is to worth the calories and is a clear example why Robicelli’s Cupcakes is worth searching out. Here is the breakdown: the cake is moist and dense and the chocolate hits you right away. Although the cupcake is dense, it has good crumb structure meaning that it isn’t flaking all over the place but you are not eating a piece of fudge. The frosting is one that really stands out to me is that it was a true butter cream and used all butter. I do not like shortening base frosting because my philosophy is: if I am going to clog my arteries with sweet goodness I want smooth, creamy dairy fat to line my arterial wall. The frosting was generously topped on and because it was so rich, imparted a smooth silkily texture that was almost like eating frozen custard. The other one, the Pecan Potato chip, a Pecan & potato chip butter cake, vanilla butter cream, roasted pecans, crushed potato chips, salted butterscotch. The cake was lighter compared to the Car Bomb but still held its own in the moist department. The cupcake had a great salty sweet going on even though I could barely taste the potato chip part. Unfortunately due to stomach capacity I was not able to try anymore cupcakes but I will now make it a point to be on the constant look out for these cupcakes.
Since they do not have an actual store, you are going to have to do a bit of searching in order to find these cupcakes but it is well worth it. 

Various Locations

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bisous Ciao Macarons

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Bring manly looking bag to disguise feminine macron bag 
Real men watch the Jets game and eat macarons. At least that is what I am telling myself while sitting here watching the Jets game…and eating macarons. But if it was a choice between Pringles and Frenchy macarons, I choose the macarons.

Bisous Ciao opened in the summer of 2010 in the Lower East Side and is a minimalist store. It is just a chilled case of macarons and a cash register. There is a very small counter towards the window front that I think you can maybe eat the macarons in the store, but it is basically a takeout kind of a place.

This is pretty much it to the store.
The store goes right to the point and sells macarons. Bisous Ciao makes 16 varieties, and currently have 4 seasonal macarons which are the peppermint chocolate, the masala spiced chai, the pecan caramel and the cranberry. All of these macarons were bursting with intense flavor especially the masala spiced chai, tasted like Slumdog Millionare. Each spice in the macaron from the subtle cloves to the touch of ginger explodes immediately after biting into it. Aside from the seasonal flavors I picked up their salted caramel (their signature) and the gianduja. All the macarons had a delicate thin crust and soft, chewy meringue which a rich and intense filling. Eating a good macaron such as this, like in the movie, Next Friday "makes you wanna slap yo Momma". Please do not hit your mother or women, I do not advocate domestic abuse. 

 Left to Right: Salted Caramel, Pecan Caramel, Cranberry, Peppermint Chocolate, Masala Chai and the Gianduja.

Although the macarons are pricey, clocking in at 2.25 a piece this is something that everyone should selfishly indulge in or guilt trip a loved one into purchasing for you. One thing about the French is that they do not skimp on packaging. The macarons come in a fashionable box and sleek bag. Its one of those bags that you keep, even though you may never use it but you keep it because it would be such a waste to throw out, I mean look at it! It has a bow on it! I’m serious, real men eat macarons. Excuse me while I go do some ultra manly stuff like eating glass and fighting lions. Brb.

Seriously, look at the box they give it to you in and bag. Frenchies knows how to do up presentation.

 Bisous Ciao Macarons
101 Stanton St.
NYC 10002

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Panna Cotta with an Apple Cinnamon Compote and Spiced Pecans

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Immersion Blender can solve more than 50% of cooking problems

Panna Cotta is a dessert that unfortunately has been abused too much by too many restaurants. Panna Cotta is  an Italian originated dessert that is like a creamy jello and is quite simple to make. Actually, to compare it to jello would be insulting. The only thing that it has in common with jello is the use of gelatin. A Panna Cotta is delicate and when unmolded from a ramekin, it should be barely standing up, the only reason for gelatin is so it can be plated. Panna Cotta should taste light and creamy and smooth. When you put that first spoonful in your mouth, and press it in between the roof of your mouth and tongue, it should just melt and dissolve, fully embodying your mouth with awesome flavor.

This recipe I found when I realized that I had some sweet potatoes I needed to use up. I missed Thanksgiving, which would generally make me angry, but I went back to Taiwan so I was able to still experience full gluttony. However, I missed the Thankgiving-y like flavors when I got back and as much as I like pie, well not like, LOVE pie, I didn't have any pie dough on hand and pure laziness prevented me from making some. I came across this recipe for a Sweet Potato Panna Cotta that was created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. This recipe for a  Sweet Potato Panna Cotta is great because it is simple and love the fact that she uses condensed milk, which brings a subtle sweetness and allows the sweetness of the Sweet Potato Panna Cotta to shine. She pairs it with a cranberry sauce and cinnamon toast croutons but since i did not have any of those, I just did an Apple Cinnamon Compote with a Spiced Pecans.

Pure laziness, I decided to not unmold but it is fairly easy to do so, simply fill a large bowl with warm water and dip the ramekin in there for about 20 seconds. After that, run a butter knife along the edge and flip it on the plate. If it does not come out in one perfect piece its fine, just tell people you were going for the "rustic" look.

Recipe can be found here

Saturday, January 8, 2011


The Bird may or may not be included in service. 

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Hot Sauce + Pancakes = good.

You either like Shopsins or you hate Shopsins or don't know what the hell it is. Shopsins is not for everyone. If you are expecting your needs to be constantly catered to and having a michy star experience dont come. Just don’t. save yourself the trouble, hell go write a bad review on Yelp. I personally don’t care because that means I should be able to get a table at Shopsins quicker.

If you do decide to come here, come prepared. Learn their unwritten rules that are written by someone on Yelp and look up the menu before you come here. If you think the menu at I don’t know, the Cheesecake Factory is overwhelming then this menu will most likely give you an aneurysm. My friend Conway, being smart let me, a food nerd/loser that already studied the menu (horary for work time productivity) and let me do all the ordering. I came prepared and like a good food nerd, briefed my dining compatriots on the rules and after a short wait we were seated. After we were seated and I placed our order, I felt pretty comfortable. Mind you, I was actually quiet nervous, actually the most nervous I have ever been to eat at a place. Reading reviews on yelp and countless posts on Chow, I did not want to get kicked out.