Monday, April 25, 2011

The Quest for Treats

You'd never guess it from looking at these pictures, but I have been trying to cut way back on the amount of sweets that I eat. Infact, I managed to go a whole week without eating sugar (well, almost). Last week was however, school vacation, and I was able to get a few days off to hang with my family and some great friends in Brooklyn. When I lived in Brooklyn, my general motivation for leaving my apartment was food (either for work or adventure). On this trip, I have to say I ventured out after many fewer sweets than usual, but there are still some good things to share. Over the break we also spent one day hanging out in South Norwalk for a children's museum visit and managed to score a bunch of delicious treats there too....

So with no shame, I will share with you some of my guilty (and not so guilty) pleasures:

 Amy's bread 
Fabulous, NYC based bread co., the Semolina Bread with Golden Raisins and Fennel (and corn meal). This bread when toasted is unbelievably good. My wonderful mother in-law manages to bring me a loaf every time she visits and had this one waiting for us when we arrived at her apt! If you stop by Chelsea Market you can watch them being made by hand!

The Mast Brothers are part of the beard wearing, slow food, almost cultish, artisnal food making Brooklyn elite. Exceptional, handcrafted, single origin chocolates, with only 2 ingredients : cocoa and sugar. That's it. I have to admit while I have known about this chocolate for some time now, I had yet to be able to splurge on a $10 chocolate bar. These were a gift from my fabulous sister in-law, and a wonderful gift they were. The Madagascar bar was particularly great. The cocoa nib bar was less bitter than most cocoa nibs I have tried. I'm guessing that they were carefully roasted, so not burned, but the chocolate in that bar (the grey wrapper) was much more acidic, and not my favorite. My kids taste buds agreed with mine, and while it warmed my heart to see them enjoying such fine chocolate, I had to hide the bar so it didn't disappear as quickly as it had arrived.

This was an almond croissant. Need I say more about how good it was? This one was from Cousin John's in Brooklyn, the predecessor to the more refined SoNo Baking Co. in South Norwalk, whose almond croissants are event better, if that is even possible (thanks to John Barricelli) . Dark, crispy, caramelized edges, filled with sweet, tender almond paste cream. A serious treat.
 A fancy raspberry mousse cake from SoNo Baking Co. My boy's choice.

Some of you may have read my posts from my trip one year ago to Holland with my grandmother. This salty black licorice is an acquired taste, one I am thankful to have had since childhood.When I was a kid, my aunt Claire used to bring us these cone shaped bags from a Dutch store in Toronto, on her visits south. Now we are lucky to have a Dutch store of our own right here in CT, Taste of Holland in South Norwalk, CT and they have a website. Two of my other favorite Dutch sweets are applestroop: a dark strong apple jam made with sugar beet syrup and apples, and Honey Spice cake: a chewy slightly sweet cake made with rye flour, unusual, but delicious. 

Cafe Regular
Ok, there is more great coffee around these days than anyone could possibly drink, and certainly not just in NYC (who was kind of late to the great coffee game to be honest.) There is one sweet spot in Brooklyn though, that has been around for a while, has excellent coffee, and a particular flare for interior design - french style. The original Cafe Regular was about a block from my last B'klyn apt, and in an unlikely hole in the wall, which attributed to part of it's charm. The owner was known for training his employees for months on the particular techniques of steaming milk, long before there were latte art had over 1 million google image hits. And, the painted and distriessed tin ceiling and walls, and the menu written on a mirror had an old world, handcrafted, hip charm. My occasional perfect latte from the original spot was always incredible. I've had hit and miss experience with the new spot, although the interior of the store and all the details are incredible, and even a "bad" latte from here is still great. They also have these amazing handmade ring dings from Tumbador chocolates that are kosher and I think vegan. (yes, I know that sounds rediculous.)

While I'm on a favorite treats role here, I can't help but mention a few other places I love even though I didn't get to them on this trip:

Franny's is a fabulous Farm to Table pizza (and more) spot on Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. It first opened when my son was born and I have the fondest memory of walking there and eating at the bar with him asleep in a sling. It was his first meal in a great restaurant and my first proof that life with good food didn't have to end just cuz I had a baby. Brooklyn Larder is their Cheese and Provisions store across the street. Gorgeous store, fine artisnal foods, way out of my price range these days, but amazing none the less!

There is no argument that these are some of the absolute best bagels in NYC. (ok, start arguing). These must be eaten the same day you get them, because the extra crusty/chewy exteriors get harder by the hour, but when you get them fresh, they are just incredible, and a far cry from the all too fluffy bagels that seem to be everywhere else. The pumpernickel has tiny pieces of onion flecked throughout, a real treat.  One other good bagel spot is Terrace Bagels, very good, but in my opinion a second place to the Bagel Hole.

Oh, I could go on and on, Damascus Bakery, Almondine, The Pickle Guys....anyway, I'll have to save something for another trip....

And, just so we can all remember that a treat does not have to be a food, or a sweet, two wonderful spring garden related treats to get you going on the summer harvest treats to come: 

Turning a pallet into a garden - a beautiful garden project, especially if spaces is tight! Many garden centers will give you pallets for free. We used them to make our compost pile too!
Homemade seedling starter cups - use b&w newspapper or newsprint paper (like the kind you can get at ikea check out) to make little seedling starter pots!

What are some of your favorite treats???

1 comment:

  1. my friend Eve commented on FB "makes me wanna have a food adventure right now!" yes, I miss my food adventure pal....such a good thing to have!