Easter Brunch at Jacob’s Pickles (Upper West Side)

After hearing about and eyeing this place for some time, I finally tried out Jacob’s Pickles last Sunday. My sister, Lilly, and I decided to treat ourselves to brunch before church, and while the food did leave me quite sleepy for the Easter service, it certainly did not disappoint!

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Lilly and I arrived at around 9:45am, just making it in before the mid-morning rush. Jacob’s Pickles is located on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 86th street, a comfort food haven by day and a bar by night. The interior had an old-fashioned, rustic feel to it, with an entire wall with shelves upon shelves of beer. It is definitely a casual place, suited for eating, drinking, and hanging out during any time of the day.

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Both of us were absolutely ravenous that morning, so we ordered a substantial amount of food. First, we started with the pickled goods; after all, that was what the restaurant was known for. We ordered a plate of pickled eggs (curiosity got the best of us), and also the hot and sour cukes.

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The eggs were okay, nothing out of the ordinary. Imagine dousing some hard boiled eggs in vinegar. That’s actually how I usually eat my hard boiled eggs, though, so I did enjoy these but it was nothing new. The cukes (short for cucumbers, I just realized) were face-contortingly sour yet somehow really good. When I took a first bite and reported to Lilly, “Mm I like these!” she raised an eyebrow and said, “Yeah it doesn’t look like it based on your facial expression.” Upon trying it herself though, she had the same reaction…in conclusion we decided that it is impossible to eat a pickle without looking like you are in pain, no matter how much you like it. Anyway, while I enjoyed these, they weren’t too different from a typical dill pickle and could be a bit spicier. We found that they were best for pairing with the main dish:

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Both Lilly and I ordered the biscuits with sausage gravy and eggs. This was amazing. Just thinking back on it makes my mouth water. The biscuit was warm and slightly sweet, reminiscent of corn bread. It was soft towards the center with crispy edges, managing to soak in the egg yolk and flavorful gravy while keeping its bread-y texture. The sausage gravy was literally perfect. Eating this dish with a bite of hot and sour cuke magically adds a whole new dimension. Full disclosure: I had to stop myself from licking the plate after I was done.

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Yeah, definitely not a winner in the aesthetics department. But oh man, this was so delicious. Lilly and I polished off everything. Price-wise it is not bad at all. For the appetizers and two entrees, our total came out to around $30, and our hunger was more than satisfied. Definitely come for the biscuits and gravy, if nothing else. Skip the pickled eggs. I highly recommend this place, and anticipate coming back in the near future, perhaps in the evening to check out the bar atmosphere. Just be prepared for the impending food coma.

Restaurant Week NYC: Petrossian (Midtown)

Winter Restaurant Week is something I look forward to every year – it’s the perfect opportunity to rally up with some friends from school to get dressed up, go downtown, and enjoy an upscale meal for a semi college-friendly price. I definitely enjoy a change from the usual microwaveable meal and 3-minute omelette every once in a while, so when the website came out with this year’s list I was eager to jump on reservations.

Last night, three of my friends and I made our way downtown to Petrossian, a French-Russian restaurant known for its seafood and caviar. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful! It is located by Columbus Circle, with its entrance right at the corner. The baroque-style architecture of the building is exquisite, with intricate carvings on a white-stone facade.

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The inside of Petrossian was just as lavish. Painted mirrors and ornate curtained windows lined the dining room. The entryway showcased its prized fish, the sturgeon, whose roe got the restaurant its fame. Many of the more popular items on the menu have caviar as a special ingredient, and even features a caviar martini!

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For those of you unfamiliar with Restaurant Week, it is an event that takes place twice a year during which participating restaurants offer a prix fix menu for lunch and/or dinner. Usually these restaurants are upscale, so the meals are a very good deal. We were each able to order an appetizer, main course, and dessert.

For the appetizer, one of the options was the caviar. It did have a supplemental cost to it, but I felt like I just couldn’t leave without trying it, so a friend and I shared it and a smoked salmon appetizer among the two of us.

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And I am so glad we did! I hadn’t ever tried “good”caviar before, but I absolutely loved the delicate and savory flavor of the sturgeon roe. It was served with a blini (a small Russian pancake) and creme fraiche. I learned that you only need a little bit of the caviar to go with the blini in order to taste the saltiness, which was mellowed out nicely with a dollop of the creme. The smoked salmon was also very tasty. I am a fan of smoked salmon and eat it quite often; this didn’t seem out of the ordinary to me, but I enjoyed it.

For my main course, I ordered the olive oil chicken with vegetable truffle medley, sweet pea puree, and foie gras sauce. I rarely order chicken whenever I go to fancier restaurants because I feel that it is such a common meat…like it seems hard to make chicken anything special, if you know what I mean. But truffle and foie gras are two things that I love, so I decided to go for it.

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Isn’t the plating beautiful? A work of art, really. And it tasted absolutely superb. I can say that my skepticism of ordering chicken at restaurant has been defeated with this dish. The meat was incredibly tender, juicy, and easy to cut through – no toughness or rubberiness at all. There was the perfect amount of crisp in the skin. The chicken itself didn’t have much of a taste to it, which was actually good because it allowed the olive oil flavor to shine through. The pea puree was smooth with just a hint of sweetness. When I mixed it with the foie gras sauce along with a bite of chicken…UGH so good. The truffle in the vegetables definitely tied the whole dish together. I’m a huge fan of truffle for its ability to add depth and earthiness to any flavor. Absolutely divine – I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish!

Last but of course not least, dessert. I ordered the pineapple cake with coconut ice cream. Normally I don’t go for fruity desserts but decided to branch out because 1) this seemed the most unique of the dessert choices and 2) coconut.

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When the waiter brought us our final course, we were amused by the size of the coconut ice cream on the plate. Literally the diameter of a golfball, but I suppose that’s what we get when dining upscale. Don’t let the size fool you though, because the taste was anything but skimpy. Upon trying a tiny bite, I was hit with the super coconutty with strong vanilla flavor. The texture was the most interesting part. It felt like a hybrid of ice cream and sorbet, making it rich and creamy yet also light at the same time. The pineapple cake was a bit of a letdown. While pleasantly warm, it tasted like an average yellow cake. The pineapple compote on top served to add a tang to it, but was super sweet which is not a plus for me. The ice cream was definitely the star of the dessert!

We left the restaurant at quarter to eleven, clocking in a total of 2.5 hours for the whole meal. I think that the spacing of the courses allowed us to savor each one more fully and look forward to the next one (and also gave us time to digest…and eat more!). It was great to slow down and have a conversation-filled dining experience. Being a student whose meals are typically simple and rushed, I’ve learned not to take this for granted. Overall, I had a lovely time at Petrossian and highly recommend it as a choice for restaurant week. I can see myself returning in the future; I admit I am somewhat intrigued by the idea of that caviar martini…

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Wicked Spoon! (The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip)

As if casinos, strippers and night clubs weren’t enough, Las Vegas bring the word “indulgence” to a whole new level within its top-of-the-line gourmet buffets.

There is just something so heavenly about eating as much as you can of gourmet food that is so tasty that it tingles your tongue with delight every single bite. When you are not busy dancing the night away at the night clubs or enjoying strawberry daiquiris in the pool at day clubs, you could relish in the many amazing buffets that Vegas offers at each of its signature hotels.

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The Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan is one of my favorite buffets in the Strip. Frequently rated one of the top buffets in not only Las Vegas, but in the nation, Wicked Spoon does not disappoint! It has selections from cuisines around the world, a salad bar that would give any supermarket deli an inferiority complex, and dessert bar that could potentially lead to severe  dental problems if fully indulged. You could tell that people truly believe in the wondrousness of the buffet through the long lines that go from the entrance of the restaurant to well into the lobby or casinos (at some hotels). While the Wicked Spoon is not an inexpensive buffet (expect to spend $40 for dinner), you really get your money’s worth. Having both QUALITY and QUANTITY never felt so good!

Despite the absurd quantity of food, Wicked Spoon displays its food all so gorgeous. From the decadent dessert bar to the baskets of seafood, Wicked Spoon is as much of a visual experience as a culinary one.

To talk about every single item I tried at Wicked Spoon would probably take days (not only because of the sheer number of food items, but also my tendency to be extremely rambly when talking about food). However, here are some of the highlights and my favorites!

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The Salad Bar: I generally try to start healthy at the start of the meal, so I head towards the salad bar. Adorned with meat, cheese, vegetables, ceviche, warm breads and , the salad bar is quite a site to see! My favorites would be the ceviche, cocktail shrimp, watermelon salad (sounds weird, but trust me, it is actually amazing and so fresh!). During dinner time, they bust out the macaroni bar, which everyone mac & cheese lover would die of happiness seeing. WIth dozens of different cheeses and toppings to customize your mac & cheese, you could literally eat bowls and bowls of creamy, hearty delicious macaroni noodles.

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The middle section of Wicked Spoon is for all of the meat lovers out there! There is a wide selection, from steak to lamb to bone marrow. My favorite would have to be the bone marrow and the fried chicken. Usually a pricey appetizer, you could eat as much of it as your heart desires at a Vegas buffet. Bone marrow has a such amazingly rich and buttery texture – eaten with a slice of thick, toasty bread, it is absolute heaven to my taste buds! The fried chicken here is also spectacular. Usually, I’m not the biggest fried chicken fan, but it is so delicious here. Juicy, crispy and tender – what is not to love?

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My favorites of the seafood section are the crab legs and the mussels. The crab legs are so fresh, and light tasting compared to the other parts of the meal. The mussels, on the other hand, are bathed in a broth of garlic, butter and tomatoes. I ate enough to probably cause the extinction of the mussel species.

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In the Italian section, I loved the truffle cheese and mushroom polenta. One bite and its packed with creaminess and flavor. Truffle is one of my die-hard favorite ingredients and makes anything taste just so delicious.

Finally, at the dessert bar, there is an armada of different desserts, from cheesecakes to macarons to ice cream. There is a gelato bar with 18 different flavors – and I tried every single one of them. Out of the cakes, my favorite would have to be the white chocolate mouse cake. It’s so gorgeously plated, with the colors of sunset painted over a harder coat of sugar, and a soft, creamy inside.

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Wicked Spoon is a “wicked” and indulgent culinary experience.

But it’s okay. Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right?

A Dose of Comfort Food @ Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too (Upper West Side)

Scratch that. By “dose” I mean a HEAPING PLATEFUL. When you go to Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too, be sure to go hungry.

The restaurant on the Upper West Side, just a block away from Central Park, is known for its delicious soul food staples. When I went there for lunch with my lab, it was my actually my first time having this type of southern, comfort food. Having lived in the midwest and New York for all my life, my experience with “southern food” was limited to KFC and the candied yams at our school dining hall.

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Miss Mamie’s, from the exterior, is a no-frills, simple-looking place. The inside was relatively small and reminded me of a diner, with its red and white checkered floor. It had a very casual atmosphere, good for laid-back gatherings and conversation. Our large group sat down at the one long table, and to our delight the waiter gave us complimentary cornbread and butter.

From the menu, you get to choose one entree along with two sides. I went with the smothered chicken as my entree, with collard greens and Hop ‘n John for my sides. I had no idea what Hop ‘n John was, but after looking it up on my phone I knew I had to try it. When my plate arrived, I gawked at the sheer volume of food in front of me. The entree was a good quarter of a chicken, fried and smothered with gravy. My “side” of Hop ‘n John filled up half the plate, along with a generous portion of collard greens.

Smothered chicken, collard greens, and Hop 'n John.

Smothered chicken, collard greens, and Hop ‘n John.

I thought that the chicken was only okay; the meat was rather dry and bland. While the gravy added some flavor to it, there could definitely have been more (it’s the one thing they did skimp on). The collard greens were sprinkled with bacon and quite tasty. The leaves were soft and melt-in-your-mouth tender, and to my surprise, sweet. While at fist the sweetness was pleasant, I couldn’t get through more than half of the greens before the taste got a bit too cloyingly sweet. The hands-down favorite of the plate was my new discovery, the Hop ‘n John! It consisted of rice and black-eyed-peas, along with a blend of onions and bacon. It was savory and rich, both simple and complex, reminiscent of home-style cooking. I loved every bite, only left wondering where on earth the name Hop ‘n John came from.

The others’ plates were just as filled as my own. One of my labmates ordered the jerk chicken, macaroni and cheese, and french fries. Another ordered the BBQ chicken, macaroni, and Hop ‘n John. I was able to try some of the macaroni and cheese and both types of chicken. The mac and cheese was delicious (but really, who can mess up mac and cheese?). The BBQ chicken was more tender than my smothered chicken but a bit too sweet for me. (As you can probably tell, I am more of a savory gal.) My favorite of the chickens was actually the jerk chicken; it was both tender and well-seasoned with a kick of spiciness.

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Jerk chicken, mac and cheese, and fries.

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BBQ chicken, mac and cheese, and Hop ‘n John.

If you’re a fan of simple, filling, soul food for a good price, definitely stop by Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too when you’re in New York. The amount of food you get is more than worth the money, so make sure you’re hungry when you go! While I was not overly impressed with my entree, I sing praises to the Hop ‘n John and would get it again, perhaps along with some other soul food must-haves such as the catfish or candied yams. Oh, and if you do find out, please let me know why the Hop ‘n John is called the Hop ‘n John. Even Wikipedia is uncertain.

Sushirrito! (California Chow Down)

Is it sushi? Is it a burrito? It’s a sushirrito.

Downtown San Francisco eateries are known for their innovation and fusion of different cultures (representative of the cultural and racial diversity of the city demographic itself). Sushirrito is a prime example of how the merging of two different worlds and their cuisines can create something fresh, delicious and utterly addicting.

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A “sushirrito” is basically a monster-sized sushi in the shape of a burrito stuffed with fresh sushi fish from yellowtail to salmon, all sorts of greens like seaweed or butter lettuce, and sauces like light wasabi mayo or sriracha. The entire assemble is wrapped in lightly vinegar-ed sushi rice and dried seaweed. Hence, the “burrito” part owes itself to the shape, while the “sushi” to the actual ingredients inside.

I worked at a tech start-up last semester where we would have brown bag lunches, and Sushirrito was very often the catering of choice. And no wonder – since the concept is so fresh and the food delicious and reasonably priced (at around $10 each sushi burrito).

My hands-down favorite is the Geisha’s Kiss, which is filled with Yellowfin Tuna, Tamago (grilled egg which is part of Japanese omelets), Piquillo Peppers, Yuzu Tobiko (a type of fish roe), Lotus Chips, Namasu Cucumber, Butter Lettuce, Avocado, and Green Onions. The fish was hand-caught and so fresh, and the vegetables and sauces so flavorful. The sushirrito tasted like a sushi, but with more variety and more explosion of flavors – as the sheer size could allow for more colorful ingredients to be included. Every bite made me want more, and before I know it, I killed my sushirrito, leaving not a trace but the white paper wrapping.Image

Another great option to try is the Sumo Crunch, which includes crab, cabbage, cucumber, avocado, green onions, red tempura flakes, and sriracha aioli. A burrito derivative of the California Roll, lovers of that sushi would dig the Sumo Crunch. My favorite part of the Sumo Crunch would have to be the spicy sriracha aioli, which combines the spiciness of srirachi with the creamy and garlicky flavor of the aioli. The red tempura flakes, while they don’t really taste like much, make this sushirrito extremely aesthetically pleasing.

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I would definitely recommend Sushirrito as a great lunch place and food stop in San Francisco! Be aware of the line during peak lunch hour, but otherwise, enjoy this creative fusion of Japanese and Latin American cuisine.

The Original Pancake House! (California Chow-Down)

I am a big breakfast person, and would never skip it for my life. It gives a great start to your day with a splash of deliciousness and energy. Breakfast makes an even greater start to your day when you get to enjoy it with company. 

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This morning I went to The Original Pancake House in Encinitas with two of my old friends from high school, both of whom I have not really seen in over a year. The Pancake House has a lot of sentimental value for me, as it is a place that I went to quite often in high school with friends (I still remember skipping 2nd period to come enjoy a hot breakfast here…) It was quite fitting to catch up with some old friends here, talking about our current lives and reminiscing on our past.

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The Pancake House was decorated with some colorful holiday decor in light of the season, which gave it a very festive and cheerful atmosphere. It was fairly crowded for 9am in the morning, so we took our seats at the only available table in the room. I first ordered a glass of skim milk to complement the breakfast, and then started looking at the all-too-familiar menu. One of our friends suggested that we all order different items and share our food, which saved me the difficult decision between either a savory or sweet breakfast, since now we can have both. I ordered the Mediterranean Omelette, while my other friends ordered the Apple Pancake and Strawberry Crepes. 

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The Mediterranean Omelette is a flavorful favorite that I ordered from high school, and the first bite I took from the toasty creation brought a rush of nostalgia. The omelette is filled with sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese and spinach – the sun dried tomatoes being my absolute favorite part. After a couple of bites of just the omelette, I added a slight touch of tabasco sauce to give it a spicy kick, and washed it all down with my glass of milk. While the omelette is rather tasty, it was a bit drier than I remembered it being, so it would’ve been even better had the omelette been a little bit moister.

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 The Apple Pancake has to be my favorite that I tried today! In all my years, I never tried that pancake – usually I go for the Strawberry or Banana or Chocolate Chip Pancakes – but I was in for a scrumptious surprise with the Apple Pancake. In fact, the Apple Pancake doesn’t look or taste like an ordinary pancake. The pancake came with enormous portions on a rather large plate (perfect for sharing with friends). With a risen center coated with spicy cinnamon and syrup and a crusty circumference, the pancake looked baked to perfection. On top, ringed slices of apples adorned all over, and within the pancake the crunch of apples came as  delicious surprises. The Apple Pancake tasted like almost a soft apple pie, with the same hearty syrupy-ness, and warmth that runs down your throat as you swallow a bite. The cinnamon on top was no simple aesthetic add-on, but actually a phenomenal touch of spiciness. The best part has to be the texture of the pancake itself – with the smooth and almost cloudiness of perfectly baked bread pudding. I probably ate more of this dish than my fair share, but it was by far one of the most addicting pancakes I’ve ever eaten in my life.

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The last dish was the Strawberry Crepes. It was a tough act to follow after tasting the Apple Pancakes, but they were decent nonetheless (although nothing extraordinary). The crepes came with a dollop of whipped cream on the side (which I used generously for other dishes as well), and a delectable pool of strawberries and sauce atop the thin, wavy crepes. Wrapped inside the crepes were even more strawberries, soaked in sweetness. The crepes were good, but a little bit on the sweet side for me with the strawberries. But I very much enjoyed the whipped cream on the side.

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The Original Pancake House is a great place to go for breakfast and brunch, as it has a very homey and welcoming atmosphere (the restaurant, in fact, is shaped like a classic wooden white house). I have many fond memories of this particular one in Encinitas, and plan on coming back here for many more high school reunions to come.Image

 

Umami Burger! (California Chow-Down)

Our consulting project group has a tradition of frequenting burger places after client meetings or for casual socials, and naturally, Umami Burger in Oakland was our next stop. Umami Burger is pretty well-known in California as a gourmet burger joint that combines Asian ingredients and themes with a classic American dish. With a relatively small menu with 9 burger selections (along with a couple of dessert choices as well), Umami executes its dishes very well with ingredients of amazing texture, taste and seasoning. If you want to go all out, you could buy the Manly Burger, stuffed full of bacon cheddar and of fried onion rings, with absolutely no inhibition. For a lighter meal, you could opt for a Ahi Tuna Burger with fresh sprouts and wasabi flakes.

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The waiter sat us down at a booth tucked away in a cozy corner of the restaurant. She was very friendly and willing to explain which of the burgers she would recommend to us depending on what kind of experience or taste we were looking for. I stared at the menu for a couple of minutes, torn about what items to order, as everything sounded amazing. Pretty much every burger had one or more burger ingredients that I go crazy for, like the parmesan crisp in the Umami Burger to the avocado in the Ahi Tuna Burger. However, as a diehard cheese-lover, I decided on the Truffle Burger, which comes with truffle and truffle glaze. Mmm….

Like all Umami Burgers, the Truffle Burger came presented like a petite work of art. The meat, cheese and buns were layered masterfully to be perfectly circular and symmetrical, and were served in flawless proportions. The bun smoothed upwards like a dome, while the cheese melted on the bun like a soft blanket of warmth. On top of the bun, you could see the trademarked “U” of Umami burger, like the signature of an artist. I took a couple of seconds just to take in what was before me before I caved into my hunger and took my first bite.

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The first bite was an explosion of flavor and textures. The star of the show – the burger patty – oozed with juiciness and wonderful flavors and seasoning. The truffle cheese was so delicious and aromatic, and had that distinct truffle taste that blended so well with the meat of the burger. Finally, to top it off, the bun had a buttery softness that finished off the journey of a first bite perfectly.

Umami Burger is now hands down one of my favorite burger joints. A great place to go with coworkers, with friends or on a date, Umami Burger won’t disappoint with its uniquely-styled and flavored gourmet burgers.

Cupcake and Wine Pairings @ Sweet Revenge NYC

Okay this is genius.

Cupcakes + wine. A perfect combination.

When my dear friend Claire from high school visited NYC, we decided to go to Sweet Revenge, a dessert bar that specializes in cupcake and wine pairings. It is small, cozy restaurant located in West Village. Unfortunately I was not able to snap a picture of it, but here’s an image I found online of the restaurant in daylight.

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We went at around 9 on a Friday night expecting a long wait, but lucky for us we were seated right away. The interior is quite tightly spaced and intimate, with little wooden tables and dim lighting. The waiter handed us an menu with an extensive listing of cupcake flavors from Creamsicle to Mayan Chocolate, along with suggested wine or beer pairings. However, only four flavors are offered per day. I went with the “Dirty”, which is described as Valrhona chocolate cake with dark chocolate truffle frosting, and paired it with a sweet rose moscato. Claire ordered the signature “Sweet Revenge”, which is peanut butter cake and ganache filling with peanut butter fudge frosting, and paired it with a glass of Malbec.

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I absolutely LOVED my cupcake. The dark chocolate was indeed dark, not overly sweet but incredibly rich. The cake itself was very dense, and on the drier side compared to most other cupcakes I’ve had. There was a generous amount of frosting on top, which I devoured. Funny thing is, frosting used to be my least favorite part of cupcakes. Now, it is what makes or breaks a cupcake for me. And this dark chocolate truffle frosting definitely made the cupcake!

The sparkling rose was a nice accompaniment to the cupcake. It was sweet and light, which really worked well in counterbalancing the heaviness of the chocolate. However, I find that taking sips of the rose and then a bite of the cupcake took the sweetness of the cupcake, which is not ideal since there was so little sweetness in the first place. I ended up just eating my cupcake first and drinking my rose “for dessert” haha.

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Claire’s peanut butter cupcake definitely did not lack in the sweetness department. It was really delicious – there were small peanut pieces in the cake itself, and the frosting was absolutely positively peanut-buttery. That really is the most accurate way I can describe it – it was pretty much like eating a spoonful of sweet peanut butter. My mouth is watering simply writing about it. Even though I’m a die-hard peanut butter fan, the cupcake was a tad too sweet for me. Each of us ended up preferring our own cupcakes, though, which worked out well!

I wish I could have gotten better quality photos, but the restaurant interior was so dark and flash really took out much of the color.

Overall Sweet Revenge is a really great place to check out if you’re in for a laid-back night. The waiters don’t rush you at all, and the atmosphere is relaxed with almost a vintage feel. Don’t come expecting a big crowd or rowdy environment. The cupcakes that we tried were really good – I’d say that they’re on par with Magnolia cupcakes, but the Sweet Revenge cupcakes are larger and come in more creative flavors. I do want to go back in the future to try more of the pairings; there’s a pumpkin spice cupcake + pear cider beer paring that I have my eyes on :)

A Birthday Brunch at Crepes on Columbus (Upper West Side)

Brunch is my favorite meal. I love the smell of scrambled eggs, pancakes, and bacon. Mimosas are an added bonus ;)

Luckily, there are plenty of excellent brunch places in New York City. Last weekend a group of friends and I met up for a birthday brunch at Crepes on Columbus, just a short walk from campus. It is a small, cozy restaurant a block away from Central Park, with an extensive, customizable crepe and omelette selection.

I opted for a specialty item on the menu: the Oeuf Columbus (which means “Egg Columbus”, as I found out from a French-speaking friend at the table). The others chose various sweet and savory crepes.

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All the dishes came beautifully presented. I thought mine was especially unique – a goat cheese and potato cake atop a bed of ratatouille with two poached eggs.

The Oeuf Columbus

The Oeuf Columbus

Personally, I love poached eggs and was excited to try it in combination with the ratatouille and potato cake. All I can say is that it was…interesting. Usually I like to have some sort of bread to soak up the egg yolks, so it was weird having the yolk mix (and virtually disappear) into the veggies instead. To my dismay, the ratatouille was very salty. The star of the show was definitely the goat-cheese and potato cake. It was a great combination of savory and tart, along with a nice crisp. But in the end, I felt like something was missing from this dish. Everything was really quite salty and lacking a “buffer” element to mellow out the sharpness of flavor. The combination of elements in this dish was just as it initially seemed: random, not exactly harmonious, and nothing more.

In spite of all this, though, it was nothing a big glass of water can’t fixed and I gobbled everything down. I also stole a few bites of my friends’ crepes and enjoyed those as well! Overall, I think that Crepes on Columbus is a great and convenient brunch location. Next time, I will probably opt for a crepe; after all, that’s what this place is known for. Recommended!

Cronuts! Dominique Ansel Bakery (Soho)

Long time no post! In the past few months I’ve accumulated many food pictures from some really great places around NYC, so I figured it’s about time to get this blog rolling again.

The latest culinary craze in Manhattan this summer has been the Cronut. The original Cronut, a donut-croissant hybrid, is only found at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery in Soho. It is a small bakery with your typical croissants, breads, and breakfast items, but also boasts some unique innovations. Aside from the coveted Cronut, there is also the frozen smore (torched marshmallow filled with ice cream) and the newsworthy magic souffle.

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Since only three hundred Cronuts are made per day, you must wait in line outside the bakery for two or more hours in order to get your hands on one. Each person is only allowed to purchase a maximum of two, so only the first 150-200 people in line are ensured a Cronut. So despite sleeping only four hours the night before, I got myself up at 6am on a Sunday morning in order to get a spot in line along with two friends. We arrived at around 7am, two hours before the bakery opens. Even then, the line was already very long!

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the line…yikes

At 9am, the bakery let people in small groups at a time. One of the bakers kindly distributed warm, freshly-made madeleines to all of us hungrily awaiting our turn. After waiting for 3 hours (!) we were finally let in.

inside the bakery

inside the bakery

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the making of frozen smores

I bought a Cronut (obviously) and a chocolate croissant. This month’s Cronut flavor is fig mascarpone. And oh my gosh it was absolutely divine.

THE CRONUT

THE CRONUT

fig and mascarpone filling

fig and mascarpone filling

I’m not a huge donut person, but this was an entirely different story. The outside was a thick, chewy, and wonderfully deep-fried shell sprinkled with sugar crystals. The inside, however, was soft and composed of many layers just like a croissant. The fig mascarpone filling was delicious; a little on the sweet side for my taste but not overwhelmingly so. Worth the 3 hour wait? I think yes, for the experience and being able to say that I did it, but I wouldn’t wait again. Too early and too much time in line. The next time I want a Cronut I will pre-order a few online and pick them up in store.

I definitely recommend this place to all of you who live in or are visiting NYC. This city is filled with quirky culinary innovations and I think that the Cronut sits among the top of the bunch for its taste, presentation, and “dining” experience. No wonder it has taken the city by storm. Bravo to Dominique Ansel for coming up with this amazing idea!