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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lulu's Cake Boutique

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Eating stuff from a "Cake Boutique" makes me feel less fat stuffing my face with cupcakes and upgraded Hostess treats

In college there was a Mexican Bodega in New Brunswick that one of my friends lived near and every time I came to visit, I would usually stop there because they had these knock-off types of Twinkies that were covered in chocolate. Growing up in an anti-Hostess home, these were a guilty pleasure. Now in the “real” world with responsibilities, it is inevitable that you just need to upgrade, Velcro wallet to leather, Natty Ice to Artisan Beer and Hostess cakes to Lulu Cake Boutique. 

Lulu is a bakery that is located just a block away from Chelsea Market can be easily missed in the midst of traffic and cars heading to the tunnel. Stepping into Lulu’s you enter a chic and contrasting white space and makes you think that you mistakenly walked into a cosmetic store and made me do a double take, but the rows of sweets assured me I was right where I wanted to be. 

Lulu offers cakes, cookies, Intelligentsia coffee and of course cupcakes, but they also do an upgrade on nostalgic treats like Twinkies, Yodels and Snowballs. These are not just copies of Hostess treats; they are more like an improved overhaul of these lunchbox treats. They have a couple of Twinkies ranging from the chocolate, red velvet and the one that I picked up, the passion fruit white chocolate, called the passion fruit lulu, which I am assuming is called that due to trademark, but I can safely call it a Twinkie. The snack cake is dense and filled with a luscious tart passion fruit filling and covered in a white chocolate glaze and a sprinkle of coconut. I also tried the chocodiles, which was basically a Yodel or a mini chocolate roll cake. Mini is an understatement, and it is a sizeable confection and it is easily twice the size of a Hostess Yodel and of course tasted twice as good.  Cake Pornage after the Jump!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Recipe Sunday: Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with a Chocolate Baileys Buttercream

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: There is no such thing of making too much buttercream

Since Hurricane Irene decided to show up like a horrible party guest, it subdued any plans I had of Epic Om Nomzing and hindered any trip to Laudree, I did what anybody else would do if stuck in the house: re-watch the first season of Community and bake and cook. This is a bit of throw back recipe of something I made for a friend’s birthday. As much as I like making an epic layer cake, I decided to make cupcakes because:
 1. easier to transport
2. I was short on time and cupcakes can be made from start to finish within a hour
3. She likes cupcakes. Win situation for me

I decided to go with a recipe I jacked from Baking Bites blog that is great for ideas and recipes, or in my case, perfect for wasting time and reading at work. Buttermilk pretty much ensures the cake staying moist even if you freeze it and defrost it. I topped it with a chocolate buttercream that was spiked with Baileys because the addition of booze never hurts. From the Baked: Explorations I was inspired to throw on some burnt sugar shards that would be a nice crunch and also for people to be like, “whoa” and I comepletely admit it is not really necessary but a nice shits and giggles factor.
I admit, for anyone that enjoys baking sometimes when you are making stuff for others, you step your game up a bit for the ego boost of people being impressed and be like, “dude, how did you do that?” and you suavely responding in the most Cool Hand Luke response, “ehh, it was nothing” and these cupcakes will most definitely get you the response that you want. Also girls like guys that can make cupcakes, GAME CHANGER.

Adapted from BakingBites.com

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts until mixture is smooth.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Chocolate Baileys Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Baileys
Note** the Lush version is ditch the addition of milk or heavy cream and just add more Bailey
Cream butter until fluffy, then sift cocoa into the mixing bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Slowly add in the confectioner the sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and Baileys until smooth and all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes for easier piping and not having a mess of sloppy buttercream all over the place.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Askinosie Chocolate

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Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I am suspicious of people that do not like chocolate- Looking at you Mom

I first discovered Askinosie when I had an unhealthy obsession with Nutella. I was spreading it on basically everything and was looking for other chocolate hazelnut spreads and that is when I discovered Askinosie chocolate and specifically their hazelnut chocolate spread and it takes spreadable condiments on a whole other level. Also it is n Oprah’s list of favorite things because you know; I am the type that hangs onto everything Oprah says. Askinosie chocolate one of the growing number of American chocolatiers that is producing high quality chocolate on par with established European Chocolatiers. Not only that, they are deeply invested in the coca and overseeing the farming and production of all their beans. The founder, Shawn Askinosie is actually visiting the farm of the coca and meeting the farmers, ensuring are being paid fairly. This is probably the most conscious free chocolate that you will ever eat. It is all good that Askinosie are undisputedly on the responsible company honor roll but how does their chocolate stack up? Given I eat a lot of chocolate (I mean, I have a chocolate drawer…okay well more like a shelf) I decided to try their various chocolates, the San Jose Del Tambo  70% Dark Chocolate, the 72% Tanzanian, the Davao White Chocolate bar and the White Chocolate with Pistachios. Chocolate after Jump!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Co Pane: No Knead Pizza!? (Insert Stereotypical Italian Exclaimed Remark)

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Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Eating copious amounts of spinach I did not feel a boost of strength but my teeth did feel squeaky, is that good?

Located in Chelsea in an area that has a high concentration of tapas bar is Co Pane, an artisan pizza outpost. Owned by bread whisperer Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street bakery, Co is a must go for any pizza enthusiast or anybody that does not have celiac disease (if you do have celiac disease, my condolences if you are doing it because it is cool, then you can go screw yourself). I came here in the early afternoon on a Saturday and the place had only a few customers, the first thing I noticed, besides the spacious, abundance of wood paneling and Nordic furniture catalog style décor was that the pizza oven was nowhere to be seen. Food after the jump!

The Meatballs and amazing bread

Co not only has pizzas, but they have a few starters ranging from soups, salads, crostinis and meatballs, which I decided to have a go at. The meatballs are made with veal so ethical animal eaters can skip this one, but people wanting to eat tasty food should not. The veal flavors was present and was not lost at all in the perfectly dense meatballs. The tomato sauce was thin, slightly sweet and broth-like paired well with the meatballs and complimented the intense veal flavors of the meatballs to shine. The hunk of bread served with it, after much questioning was his Pugliese loaf, prefect aeration and slight acidity, was nothing short of excellent and I found myself eating all of it and sopping up the tomato sauce with it. I went with the most popular pie, the Popeye which is a meatless pie, comprised of pecorino, gruyere and mozzarella and of course, spinach that may or may not have been acquired by a sailor.

The Popeye

Fresh spinach is generously piled onto the pie, creating a beautifully deep green iron-enriched blanket. The spinach, is just cooked till tender and had bits of slightly charred leaves, giving a smokiness to the spinach. The combination of the pecorino, gruyere and milky mozzarella made this a perfectly composed pie. The incorporation of the pecorino adds just the right amount of saltiness to the pie and accented the spinach topping. The Pie is a mix between a Roma style pies that has some Neapolitan attributes. The pie is thin and has more crisp than the doughy chewiness that is expected of a Neapolitan. The pie still had a bit of chew to it but nothing comparable to the chewiness of a Neapolitan pie yet had the leopard spotted char gave the classic smoky element taste to the pie.


I rarely comment on the service but the service at Co needs to be address and unfortunately as much praise I had for the food, I cannot say the same for the service. Service at Co can be summed up in one word: “Frantic”. The dining room was less than 50% full the whole time I was there and the servers, which there were only 2 with a third sauntering in a little before the end of my meal, were running around, like literally running backing and forth. One of the servers I do not think had command of the English language yet for when I asked him where the butter came from multiple times ( I was testing his knowledge, I really wanted to know because it was damn good), he just kept nodding and mechanically answering, “yes, butter”. When my pie came out, he told me it was the carbonara which it clearly was not. I later witnessed the table next to me, get a carbonara pie and when questioned if the pie was the Popeye (clearly not what the man ordered) the server just said, “Yes, Popeye”. When it came time for the check, I paid in cash, hoping it would be a quick thing, but ended up waiting for a good 15 minutes (I happened to look at my watch) to get my check and bring back change. I could have watched half an episode of Scrubs in that amount of time it took to bring back 10.50. I hope the service was just completely off that day because the food at Co is exceptional and I would like to make a return trip back and not have to deal with shoddy service.

Pizza Oven at Co. Yeah dude, I know I am a dick.

Unlike most pizza places that I have visited that the pizza oven is prominently displayed, the one at Co is tucked away in the kitchen. I found this interesting because pizza making, there is a bit of showmanship involved of having the pizzaolo out front creating edible art in front of your eyes. Here at Co, along with the minimalist-like décor there is a bit of a “no shit” vibe that it does not need to show you that yes, the pies are being freshly made and cooked in an insanely hot oven, just eat our pies and you will know and the food speaks for itself, at least this is the random theory or idea that I have come up with but in the end, who cares? Skip the surrounding tapas joints and grab a pie at Co. 

Co Pane
230 9th Ave 
New York, NY 10001

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ice Cream Sammiches

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: No matter how many ice cream sandwiches I will eat, nothing beats a chipwich from an ice cream truck or a bodega.

Stroopwafel ice cream sandwich

Ice cream sandwiches are like the cupcakes of frozen treats meaning its gives the illusion of portion control. Sure I can inhale a pint of ice cream and feel food guilt, but eating just an ice cream sandwich, you get your icy sweet fix and do not feel like a live alone cat lady. But then your mind starts with the devilish whispers saying things like, “dude, an ice cream sandwich is so small, you can totally house another one!” After eating another one that voice in your heads gets louder and clear and starts making up logical excuses like, “You ran this morning, you can get that other ice cream sandwich with those calories you burned, besides that macaron sandwich thing from Payard? Thing is tiny, it can’t have that many calories.” By this point, it is like the Titanic sinking; all control is lost and you realized you ate the equivalent of 2 pints of ice cream and pushed back Michele Obama’s health initiative by a good month. More Ice Cream Sammich pronz after the jump!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revisit: M. Wells before their Hiatus

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Due to the open kitchen at M. Wells, I leave smelling like a fryer. In this case, I smell delicious

I still don't know what the hell you are...like a fancy pants Moose thing...minus pants apparently

I pay little attention to places shuttering and closing mainly because they were not places that I frequent or bluntly put, were not really good or om nomz worthy places to eat it. But in the beginning of August, when the Motorino Brooklyn abruptly closed due to the Earth trying to sallow the building, the next day news of M. Wells closure was a shock. Due to a dispute with the landlord, they have no choice and close their restaurant at the end of August and find a new place. Not knowing when they will reopen and I have no plans to visit the great white north, I went to M. Wells for brunch before they closed.
Apparently, the rest of New York did not have plans of going to Canada anytime soon because by the time I arrived at 9:45am, fifteen minutes before the start of service, the line was already snaking past the front of the building and rounding the corner of the restaurant. I almost did not make the first seating, and I went to go do brunch solo. I gave my whole order to the server the second I got seated, a practice I generally reserve for dining at Shopsins which was good because M. Wells was packed and they tried to fit everyone they could in their boxcar diner. Food after the Jump, ehh!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Molly's Cupcakes: Chi-Town Sweets in Nyc

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Do not judge me old lady for eating cupcakes at 11:30am when you are chowing down on a Faccio's Italian Hoagie (though I would not mind eating that either)

Anybody that says that the cupcakes trend is dying is a liar and eats a lot less sugar than I do. With the opening of Sprinkles a couple months ago and according to reports is doing great business from my sister’s frequents visits, it opened up the door for other cupcake operations to see if they go Sinatra and make it in New York. Enter Molly’s Cupcakes, which I found out later is no Molly, but there is a Johnny. 
Molly’s Cupcakes is from Chicago and just opened up recently on Bleeker Street. I can hear the groans from people, another cupcake place? Sigh. The amount of bakeries opening up, if there is ever a ban on sugar, the GDP of New York will drop like a rock within a day.

There are so many places that are established, Molly’s Cupcakes needs to bring their “A” game and if it is like AJ Burnett’s pitching, they are screwed, they need like, a Cliff Lee kind of a game to stand out and yes, I am purposely making sports references in order to pretend I know a good amount of sports and to make me seem manlier when talking about sugary and colorful confections. Cavity Induced Sweets after the Jump

Great box design, cubby holes for cupcake

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hester Street Fair

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Ice cream sandwiches at 10:30 in the morning is awesome

The Hester Street Fair is tucked away in the Lower East Side in a space that is the size of a really small basketball court. It sits smack dab on the border of the Lower East and Chinatown, at one side is Prosperity Dumplings, the other is the Doughnut Plant. If the Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea are the Yankees, The Hester Street Fair is like the Brooklyn Cyclones (that’s right, I made a sport analogy, I feel a bit manly), although it is smaller and not as well known, it is still enjoyable to go.  Although the Hester Street Fair is one of the smaller markets/fairs it is still enjoyable and worth going and the food options there good and they steadily gaining momentum. 

The Hester Street Fair has a number of food options and although one of them is a Brooklyn transport, Arancini Brothers. Arancinis are risotto balls that may or may not be filled and get a quick batter and fried. I have always seen this as the Western version of Onigiri. Arancini Brothers have ha couple of options ranging from spinach, carbonara and the one that I got, the ragu. The Arancini was hot and still had a crispy exterior, although the ragu was a nice meaty addition, the star of the Arancini ball is inarguably the risotto which was tender and cheesy. Mo' Food after the Jump!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Franny's- Doing Artisan Pizza before it was like, cool

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self:  Ain’t never too hot to eat pizza

Back on 2004 when I did not know any better about food and Domino’s 5-5-5 deal was pizza awesomeness to me, Franny’s opened up in Flatbush. This was when Flatbush still was a shadier neighborhood and anybody dressed like a hipster would mostly likely not make it out of that neighborhood unscathed. Not only did the opening of Franny’s mark the start of this revitalization of Brooklyn, but it also was the vanguards of artisan pizza making. Before Neapolitan and wood fired pizzas were a standard in New York, there was Franny’s pumping out pizzas out of their wood fire oven. Years later with new places sprouting in every Borough, Franny’s is going strong and I was due for a visit here. 

Pork Cheek and Beef Tongue Terrine
I came here early in the afternoon before the families and hung over hipsters rush and Franny’s was still quite empty. Franny’s also has a garden outback but given the rising temperatures outside the day that I went, I decided I would rather chill in the comfortably spacious and air conditioned dining room. I started out with the pork cheek and beef tongue terrine, which for an offal lover like me I was instantly drawn too and knew I had to order. The terrine was served warm with slices of fresh, toasted pieces of rustic bread. The meat in the terrine was moist and tender with quivering globs of fat that was a natural spread on the bread. This was a great starter regardless if you are a fan of charcuterie or offal bits. Also the addition of fennel pollen on anything just kicks up the dish from a 10 to an 11. Anybody that likes meat in some aspect would like this terrine and the only signs that there were offal cuts in the terrine are the bits of cartilage (which by the way, I am unsure where it came from, but tasted good regardless). 

Clams, chilis parsley pie
The point of my coming here was to try a pie and although I should have gotten the Margherita in order to do the whole fair judgment and “control” I said to forget that and just get the clam pie. The clam pie here is a must get and is a clear stand out from most clam pies in the city or even the tri-state mainly because they are actually using fresh clams on their pies. Even some of my favorite pizza places use canned clams which can be tasty, but nothing can beat the taste of fresh clams on a pie. Although the clams were sparingly put on the pie, the clams were plump, juicy and tender reigning quality over quantity. The pie had a brush of cream that paired nicely added to the richness of the pie. The controlled use of chili flakes was great, with just enough heat to tickle the back of your throat with each bite.  

Pizza Up Skirt- light char
 One thing to note is that they are not making straight up Neapolitan pies. The best way to classify the pies at Franny’s is that they are artisan wood fire pies. The pies are lightly charred and have more a chew to them than compared to a Neapolitan pie. The pie i notice has considerably greater rise and can been seen with the numerous pizza bubbles dotting the pie. However, they dough has a depth to it that is reminiscent of a Neapolitan pie and tasty enough that pizza “bones” are rarely left behind on the plate. The same goes for the rest of the food, which they put an emphasis on local foods. Franny’s is a must go food destination in Brooklyn that will not disappoint.

295 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cheeky Sandwiches: Where I go after watching Treme

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Zapps chips are vastly superior to any chips I have had to date

I'm pretty sure Tom Sawyer painted that fence...

I finally finished watching the first season of Treme which is all about New Orleans and after watching it two things occurred to me:

1.       Steve Zahn can actually be a good actor
2.       I really, really wanted a po’ boy bad

Now what is a po’ boy one may ask? It is a sandwich from Louisiana that is comprised of roasted meats but more popularly with fried seafood, predominantly oysters or shrimp but fish as well. It is served on a sub/French Baguette. It is basically a sub/submarine/grinder/hoagie from Louisiana. Thankfully, as much as I want too, I do not need to buy a ticket to New Orleans to get a decent po boy, all I have to do is go to Chinatown, yes Chinatown to Cheeky to get myself a taste of New Orleans. 

Cheeky quietly opened about a year, but it has gaining momentum and building there Street Credentials at guest appearances at various markets and fairs and now have a location at the DeKalb market. If the décor is suppose to set the mood, then Cheeky has nailed it with the whitewashed wooden window shutters and aged wood that looked like it had its share of rough weather (totally natural, because Chinatown is known to get hit by coastal storms and wetland climate). Inside is no different from the outside with wobbly, narrow benches and weathered counters gets transports you to thinking you are in the South and at Domilise's or maybe a Brooklyn hipster hangout. Despite the way it looks, it is the food that matters and the food at Cheekys is worth the risk of a splinter.
Cheeky is a sandwich shop and I heard that they make a gut bomb biscuit and a tasty short rib sandwich but I was there to satisfy my po’ boy craving. I got the half and half, half the sandwich had oysters and the other half shrimp. The po’ boys are made to order, meaning they are cooking the oysters and shrimp for each sandwich and although it takes some time and be a wait when it gets busy, it is well worth it. The sandwich is simply dressed with mayonnaise, ketchup, lettuce and tomato. The bread I confirmed is flown in from John Gendusa Bakery all the way from Louisiana in order to get the right kind of bread for the po’ boy. The po’ boy was in short, delicious; the fried to ordered oysters had a great cornmeal coat and were still plump and juicy. 

The only thing that could have made this even better is a couple dashes of hot sauce, Crystals or course. The bread is the perfect match and I can see why Cheeky has their bread flown in, sure you can get a stellar baguette from Grandaisy but it would not be the same. The bread on first impressions seems like it is stale, but then you realize that the roll is just remarkably light and airy and has a certain crispiness to it that the fried seafood sits comfortably on. The bread is another example of “Terroir” and I am pretty sure you cannot mimic this kind of bread anywhere else. Cheeky may not be much to look at from the outside, but the food here is filling and good and I have to come back for their beignets and that chicken biscuit a combination that sounds like a perfect breakfast to me!

Cheeky Sandwiches
35 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ample Hills Creamery

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Despite the inevitable melted mess, ice cream taste a bit better in a cone

No matter how old I am I will always end up with a runny line of sticky, sweet ice cream running down my hand. I should know better given how old I am, but anyway I eat it, I end up with hands of a five year old. But ice cream from Ample Hill Creamery is ice cream that should be eaten out of the cone. Made fresh daily and with local ingredients Ample Hill Creamery is just one of many frozen confection shops opening in New York this summer which is seeing a boom in all things ice cream, if duck is the new pork, ice cream is the new…uhh screw it I can’t think of an analogy. 

Ample Hills is colorful, not just in a figurative way and describing their confections, I mean physically, it is colorful, I believe they hit every Crayola Color spectrum and with a little play area in the back of the shop, it feels like a Day Care center. Besides the kid-friendly decor, Ample Hill Creamery is distinguishing itself with playful and tasty concoctions that Ben & Jerry’s wished they could have come up with first such as the one of their most intriguing ones, the Breakfast Trash which has breakfast cereal incorporated in it. Not like old people cereal like shredded wheat or muesli, more like a 7th year college senior breakfast of frosted flakes, Captain Crunch, Sugar Pops and Fruit Loops. Although I do not partake in the inhalation of leafy greens, I had to sample it and although seems a bit catchy, it tasted pretty good. The only thing that I did not like is that the Fruit Loops do not fare well to the freezing process to well and they get a bit gummy but other than that, it is a tasty ice cream. 

After much thought and tasting, I settled with the Salted Crack Caramel and the Baked/Unbaked.   The Salted crack caramel, salted butter caramel ice cream with their “crack” cookie composed of saltine, butter sugar and chocolate. Buttery, sweet saltiness with crunch bits played straight into my love for salty sweet combinations. The Baked/Unbaked is vanilla ice cream base with baked chocolate chip cookies and unbaked cookie dough and this combination is the cookie making process, all in one ice cream tub. The crunchy cookie bits with dough cookie dough made a tasty combination. Although it may seem like the ice cream flavors at Ample Hill can seem, quirky and gimmicky, one taste of their smooth ice cream will dispel any thoughts that they are not making a some serious ice cream. Ample Hills is a must stop for all ice cream eaters and with their multiple daily flavors and new ice cream in the works, your palette will never get bored again.

Salted Crack Caramel on top, Baked/Unbaked on the bottom, party all around

Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I cannot say “Sugar Sweet Sunshine” 10x fast

For a person that prefers cakes over an actual cupcake, I sure write and eat a lot of cupcakes but that is mainly because the reality is I do not have a discriminating palate and I will basically eat anything that tastes good…and sugary. I remember a few years ago, the first time I visited Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery in the Lower East was also the first time I went to Clinton Street Bakery, one I have never been back to and the other I stop by any chance I get and I think you can guess which one I am talking about. 

Pumpkin Cupcake
Before Sugar Sweet Sunshine, I had no faith that cupcakes could taste good because prior to that all I had sampled were ones from Magnolia and Crumbs were the definition of mediocrity and below average. They were like the Paris Hilton of cupcakes, wait, is she still relevant? Anyways, basically both these places are making cupcakes and bake goods that are not really anything special but due to a bit of fame (thankfully the cupcakes did not involve night vision) they gained popularity and a groupon-zombie horde following. More Cupcakes after the Jump!