Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dinner: Totale

My friend Melissa and I were walking on our way to the usual sushi place to grab dinner, until I spotted this new restaurant. Artisanal pizza at Astor Place? Interesting.
Located between near cheesy head shops and 2 Bros 1 dollar pizza, they have a great deal going on, any margherita or marinara pie is only $5.75!
Spacious, with the oven in the back. 
The Margherita
 This was the classic, with mozzarella, basil, tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Usually cut in 4 pieces at other places, this was cut in 6. This was a nice sturdy slice, with a thicker base than Keste. The dough was lightly charred from the wood fired oven and was surprisingly delicious. I really enjoyed eating the crust, airy, light and chewy.  The sauce had a strong almost tart flavor, but still tasty. I wished they sprinkled a little more basil on the pie, we only got 3 pieces :(  
Price: $5.75 or $10.00 normally
Verdict: I actually liked this more that Co.'s margherita. For $5.75, this is a huge steal (especially because 2Bros pizza is pretty bad), hopefully this special goes on for a while. I am curious to try their other pizzas as well.
Totale Pizzeria
36 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10003

Friday, May 28, 2010

Drinks Only: The Smith

During the a nice day, Buddy and I decided to take cover from the sun for a little bit and grab a drink. After searching high and low for a quiet bar, we ended up at the Smith. 
The Bar
The Dirty Jane
This was vodka with green tomato juice. Please take note my 4 yummies is for the place and the fries only! 
This was the most disgusting drink I have ever had... it was like drinking liquid garlic juice. With that being said, you definitely get your moneys worth of vodka. They used Stoli and I estimated about 3-3.5 shots were in my drink.  However, no amount of alcohol would get me to drink this again. Liquid garlic. Literally. 
Price: $11.00

We decided to get a bar snack as well, these fries were the perfect treat. They were crispy, thin and starchy in the center. I really like how some of the fries still had the skin on (that is my favorite part!). I usually like dipping my fries in ketchup and ranch dressing, but lucky me...all I had to do was sip my gross drink to get the garlic flavor!
Price: $5.00
Buddy and I
Testing my new camera on something other than food!
Origami, Cold drinks and nice weather, what more could you ask for?
Verdict: I love the atmosphere here, it's modern, spacious, and lively. Service is wonderful and the food here is always good too, but I will have to say...I am never getting that green tomato drink ever again!
The Smith
55 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Breakfast: The Bagel Store

Ahh....breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Why not start it off with a carbo-load of delicious bagels and fatty cream cheese?! This place is on the way to the L train in Williamsburg and a very popular place to get bagels. My belly was ready!
Outside, super hipster art mural
Hipsters waiting in line for their bagels. It got SO crowded in here and the lines were very chaotic ( it was also a Saturday).

Sesame Bagel with Vegetable Cream Cheese
I asked for it toasted and it barely came out with a light tan. However, it was extremely fluffy, doughy and super chewy. All the aspects I look for in a bagel. It could have used another sprinkling of sesame seeds to completely cover the top however. The cream cheese was the winner, with actual chunks of veggies  in each bite. None of that pulverized stuff, they gave a generous spreading of this on the bagel.
Price: 2.75

Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter Bagel with Banana Cream Pie Cream Cheese
While in line I had to get a "dessert" bagel. The problem was that along with their 15 different flavors of cream cheese, they also have limited edition flavors . I ended up changing my mind 3 times before picking the banana cream pie (I could tell the guy taking my order was getting annoyed).
The bagel was a lot more dense and tough than the sesame. Swirls of cinnamon and raisins were in each bite I took, but I really couldn't taste the peanut butter. Perhaps it was because the cream cheese flavor was so strong, and not in a good way. I was expecting chunks of real banana mixed with sweetened cream cheese, but what I actually got was a HORRIBLE fake banana flavor (reminiscent of a banana laffy taffy) and way too much yellow dye. Definitely not getting this cream cheese again.
Price: $2.75
Verdict: I really love getting my bagels here, especially because they have very interesting flavors (apple pie flavored cream cheese is on my list) AND, right now they have a bacon, egg, and cheese flavored BAGEL, yes.. literally an all in one breakfast.
The Bagel Store
754 Metropolitan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211-3750

Brunch: Earth Matters

Late sunday morning, Buddy and I met up with some friends to get brunch together. We all wanted a relaxing, calm and roomy environment. Nikoma suggested we head to Earth Matters,  an all organic vegan/ vegetarian friendly cafe that also serves meat.
The room was spacious, roomy and had a lot of light coming through the windows. There was seating upstairs, as well as downstairs. They serve micro brews and wine and also carry groceries. Talk about a one stop shop!
Very Berry
This was 14 oz, and made with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and cranberry juice. I enjoyed this because it was not too sweet, and all of the berries blended together nicely. Tart and tangy, a great cold and refreshing drink to start the day.
Price: $7.50

Small Bowl Combo
This was at the buffet where you can order hot combos of your choosing. I got the "small", but they STUFFED it until the food was basically falling off of the sides. I picked 3 dishes, the tofu veggies stir fry, the mixed kale and collard greens, and the curry seitan. After asking for a plate so I can actually eat my food without it all falling on the floor, I dug in.
The seitan was my favorite, the perfect amount of curry, tender and not rubbery, just a dash of pepper was all it needed. I also enjoyed the stir fry and greens mix. However, there was too much oil for my liking. My mouth felt coated with it, but over all the veggies were not over cooked and still tasty.
Price: $5.50

The Gandhi
My friend Casey ordered this one. It was a homemade veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, avocado and humm
us. I didn't have any, but she seemed to really love it. Doesn't it look yummy?

Vegan Brownie
We had to top off the meal with a brownie. This was more like a piece of fudge than actual brownie. Extremely dense, moist, and chocolatey. Before I could blink, it was gone down in my belly. None vegans wouldn't have been able to tell the difference!
Price: $2.50
Casey, Melissa, Nikoma, Buddy (isn't he so photogenic?) and I
Verdict: The people here are really friendly. Though service was slow for not being busy, they did make everything fresh to order.  If you are looking for a relaxing and healthy meal, this is the place to go!
Earth Matters
177 Ludlow Street
New York, NY 10002

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dinner: Take out at Dumont Burger

After hanging out with friends all weekend, Buddy and I decided to have a relaxing Sunday dinner at home. Since neither of us felt like buying groceries and cooking, we settled for the next best thing...take out. We have eaten at Dumont before and gotten their burgers, but I was curious to try new things on the menu.
Dumont Mini Burger
Buddy ordered the mini with gruyere cheese since the regular size was pretty big. It came on grilled brioche with a side of bibb lettuce, tomato, red onion, homemade pickles and was about size of a CD.  I tried the fries and they were crispy and satisfying, I loved the kosher salt and parsley sprinkled on top. Great to dip in ranch dressing! I didn't try his burger, but he seemed to really enjoy it. The brioche looked delicious!
Price: $ 9.50 plus $1.00 for cheese 

Dumac and Cheese
This was made with radiatore pasta, bacon lardons, cheddar and gruyere. It came in one of those large round containers,  and we wondered before we opened it... this couldn't possibly be filled ALL the way full of mac and cheese...could it?  Um, yes it most definitely was! The pasta shape as short and chunky with ridges circling the pasta, forming the shape like the grill of a radiator. The cheese leaked its way into ever possible ridge and was gooey and delicious. The outer crust layer of the cheese was wonderfully crunchy and flavorful. Bacon lardon was sprinkled generously throughout the entire dish and added a nice hit of salt and smokey flavor with each bite. This could possibly be one of the best mac and cheeses I've had in a while!
Price: $14.00 for a large
When we called to place an order, I asked the girl on the phone how much brownies were, and I was expecting to hear 2-3 dollars. When she said 5 dollars, all I could think was "this better be the best freaking brownie on the face of this earth". 
This was a really big brownie, it was the size of a CD case and came heated and piping hot (insert Homer Simpson drooling here). Of course we started attacking this before our actual meals (notice the missing chunk?) This was a extremely moist brownie. Every bite I got a mouthful of hot melted chocolate chips mixed with sweet brownie dough. Add a scoop of salty caramel, coffee or vanilla ice cream and this is the perfect topper to a rich and decadent meal.
Price: $5.00
Verdict: Dumont can get pretty pricey if you eat at the restaurant ( add a couple of beers and one meal could cost up to 30 dollars per person!) but I am lucky enough to live 3 blocks and get carry out. Just buy a 6 pack of some good IPA, and go on your apartment rooftop, you won't even miss the restaurant atmosphere.
Dumont Burger
314 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quick Bite: The Hester Street Fair

Usually I would post my yummy and money signs at the top, but since I was at the Hester Street fair, there were a number of different vendors to review, so I will post them before each one. 
I love going to street fairs, you never know what you are going to find (or eat!) Usually I go to these things to dig for unique and interesting jewelry and clothing, but sometimes my tummy finds more things than I do.
Entrance at Hester street.

Sweet Jewel Cake Balls

This was the first thing I saw entering in the fair, and as soon as I saw "red velvet cake ball"" I had to get one since I am such a sucker for red velvet. I went with Buddy, and he insisted we try both flavors, I wasn't going to complain. :)

Both flavors were coated with chocolate and coconut shavings and were a hybrid between a cake and truffle( which was also how big they were)
Vietnamese Coffee Cake Ball
This one was the more successful out of the two. There was a definite strong coffee flavor (though I'm not sure how "Vietnamese" it was). The coconut and chocolate coating cut through the sharp flavor of the coffee nicely and the cake itself was dense and very moist.
Red Velvet Cake Ball
I was kind of disappointed in this one, it seemed to lack the flavor I was looking for in a red velvet. I wished the center had a cream cheese filling of some sort and the coconut flavor kind of threw me off. Buddy really enjoyed this one because it seemed more moist than the vietnamese.
These were cute and fun to eat, but next time I'm looking for a cakey treat, I might just settle for a mini cupcake.
Price: 1 for $3.00 or 2 for $5.00
Sweet Jewels Cake Balls 
Kumquat Cupcakery

Coincidentally after walking past some vintage jewelry vendors I found a stand whos bakery is devoted purely to miniature gourmet cupcakes. They had flavors ranging from chocolate lavender, to peanut butter and jelly. Considering I just ate two cake balls, I decided to go with just one. My staple red velvet.
It was about the size of large gum ball and surprisingly packed a flavorful punch in such a small bite! Extremely moist with the perfect hint of cocoa, the cream cheese frosting was silky and not overly sweet. I wished I had gotten more for later to pop in my mouth! 
Hopefully they will be at the fair again next weekend, but if not then you can always order them online.
Price: $1.00

La Newyorkina

Since the weather had been getting nicer, a lot of  specialty popsicle shops have been "popping" up, from Popbar to Peoples Pops. La Newyorkina seemed to be a new name in the biz, and their menu looked interesting, making me weak to resist their modern Mexican twist on popsicles.
Guayaba (guava)
This was a little bigger than the size of a business card and boldly tart, this was Buddy's favorite out if the two. It tasted like papaya with lemon juice, and was very refreshing. The texture was smoothly blended and equally juicy.
Price: $1.00 for a mini
Horchata Cinnamon Rice Milk
I loved the flavors in this, but it seems that they still need a little more time perfecting the technical aspects of making it. The texture and flavors were very inconsistent. Some bites I got a dense almost powdery texture that tasted sour, and other bites I got very sweet icy bits. The overall underlying flavor that was kept consistent was the milk and cinnamon.
Perhaps I got a faulty popsicle, but thats not going to stop be from wanting to try their avocado flavor next time which looked creamy and delicious.
Price: $4.00

Sigmund Pretzel Shop

Okay so after eating 2 cake balls, 2 popsicles and a mini cupcake, you would think I would have enough self control say "no" to this pretzel stand right? Umm... have you looked at this display? What human being could say no to melted cheese on a pretzel??
Bleu Cheese and Walnut with a side of Beet Relish and Honey Mustard
I was first drawn to this because of the bleu cheese, it looked bubbly and plentiful and was about 5x4 in size.They toast the pretzels in a portable oven, but only toast them for the length of time it takes to squirt you your mustard ( which was literally 10 seconds). 
I have to say, this was disappointing. It looked SO good, but the pretzel tasted day old. The bleu cheese flavor was barely there and was dry and crumbly. The walnuts were untoasted chopped bits mixed in the dough,added nothing to this pretzel.  There was not much textural diversification and was dense, tough, and like of bland. The winner was the honey mustard; spicy, tangy, gooey and sticky. The beet relish tasted like blended beets with horseradish mixed in. Not worth the money.
Price: $4.00
Gruyère and Paprika with Mustard Seed Dip
The cheese flavor was more prominent in this one, however I couldn't taste the paprika (though I saw specks powered on top). Again, its good looks deceived me and tasted day old. The mustard seed dip was fantastic however, bold and spicy.
Price: $4.00
I really wanted to love these pretzels but they failed to impress. I might try their store to see if I have a change of heart (they also have more flavors)
Sigmund Pretzel Shop
29 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
This fair was a lot smaller than I had expected, maybe only 10-15 vendors but its fun to walk around on a nice sunny weekend day. 
Hester Street Fair
Hester & Essex Street
New York NY 10002
April- December Sat-Sun 10am-6pm