Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, The Pie Shop and Figment Art !

I know, I know, I am very behind on posts.  And I am about to embark on some serious food-eating over the next two weeks, so posts will become sporadic for a little while, but hopefully when I return, I will have some real eats that will dazzle you, or at least make you drool.  (If I can get just one person to drool onto their keyboards, my job here is complete.)  In the meantime, here's one of my past weekend adventures!

The Saturday before last, I hit up the Brooklyn Pride event hoping there would be performance and musical festivities to watch while I perused the street market wares.

Okay.  It's not entirely true.  I really headed out primarily to catch this guy in action:

Oh, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck!  For so long I have been following Doug'sTwitter, but have been unable to get down to Union Square during weekdays, but finally!  The Salty Pimp was going to be mine!

What I love about the BGICT is the orange scented handi-wipe that Doug gives you prior to handing you the ice cream treat.  Oh, who doesn't appreciate that attention to cleanliness!  And his glasses are great too.

The Salty Pimp!  Vanilla soft serve drizzled with dulce de leche, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped in chocolate.

See that beautiful dollop of dulce?  I sure did, right before I gobbled it down.  The salty sweet combination was awesome in the summer heat.  A perfect culmination of flavors that posed the ultimate refreshing treat.

I checked out the market, but I did not find much else that interested me, so I decided to continue on with my day... another eatery that I had passed on my way to see the BGICT. 

The Pie Shop

When Greeshma, Snehal and I had left Ippudo the other night, we had walked by a place called PIE, and we all eagerly hoped that we could slices of dessert pies by the pound to eat after our ramen fix.  However, the place turned out to be some pizza shop (bummer).  I had naively hoped the same dessert goodness for The Pie Shop, and again, it turned out to be a savory shop instead of a sweet one.  Why are you misleading the masses, New York?!

I decided with a Salty Pimp in my stomach, I should eat a little normal fare, so I ordered one mini pie and one regular sized hand pie:


The mini pie was vegetarian curry.  It had a lovely bit of curry flavor, but the filling was overpowered by the thick, hardened crust

The large pie was the "Breakfast" and featured egg and bacon

Don't get this.  The egg was way too dry and the wimpy bacon did not add much to flavor up this bland, also thick-crusted, pie.

The Pie Shop has a punch card, and I love places that have one (it gives me something to work towards!), but unfortunately, I do not think I will ever want to get this punch card filled here.  The pies were really not great.

After eating my face off, I hit up Figment on Governor's Island, a collaborative public art project where artists are encouraged to build projects on the island for the public to share in and enjoy as a community.  There is really no great food vendors on the island, but I wanted to share this event in case you wanted to attend next year.

Governor's Island is only accessible by ferry from the South Ferry in Manhattan or Atlantic Avenue ferry in Brooklyn.  Ferries are free, but during peak events such as this one, I had to wait in line for an hour in order to board the ferry.

Once we arrived, you can pretty much walk anywhere on the 172-acre island and find a "work of art."  Here's some snapshots from the day:

Silver Mylar balloon web

A box of cinnamon that you use a disposable straw to blow and create designs.  It smelled so good.

There were lots of hula hoop parties to be partake in on the island.  My niece would rock at this.

"Robot painting"

This artist created little robots that you dip in paint and let run wild on the white paper.

A dream tree made of copper coils

I found Diana's dream on the tree too (except her dream will be reality once she passes that bar!)

This was an adorable tent where kids can play in thousands of beautiful rose petals

The type of people that frequent Figment: young (read: high school) hipsters and bizarre artists

Glittery dreams

Made into reality where you get to SIT IN GLITTER and throw it around and roll around in it and have the glitter stick on your sweaty body and then look instantly awesome.

This was a really neat structure

Structure from inside.  You can sit inside, and they have performances on the stage in front that you can watch

These three women performed some number commenting on a routine life in a hopeful manner that embraces nature (as you can see, that makes no sense, but I am trying to understand these artistic endeavors!)

Figment was definitely an event worth attending if you want to be astounded.  I felt I had entered a new world filled with people I would never ordinarily see in my day-to-day life (super mega-artist-types), but it was most certainly a fun and vibrant experience.  The island is also really pretty with lots of green meadows that are perfect for bike rides and picnics.  There are barely any cars on the island, so it's a fun little getaway from the boisterous city.

Usually at Union Square (17th & Broadway), but follow the Twitter
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck on Urbanspoon

The Pie Shop
211 Prospect Park West 
Brooklyn, NY 11215
 The Pie Shop on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Buttercup Bake Shop: Red Velvet, Hummingbird and Banana Pudding

Everytime someone asks me where I live in Manhattan, they usually respond, "Oh, there are a lot of restaurants over there."  Why yes, there are.  But truth be told, I have not really eaten at any of them (as you know my love for the East Village), but I certainly have tried the sweet shops in the area!

Buttercup Bake Shop is one of the sweet shops that are just a few blocks away from me.  I had eaten here a couple of years ago, and I remembered I was not very impressed.  Time heals all wounds though, so I figured I should go ahead and pay them another visit.  Here is what I've tried!

The bakery itself is super tiny.  You walk into the width of a narrow hallway, and to the right are the glass display cases with these beautifully decorated puppies:

Butterup has several other neat flavors too, like the Devil Dog, which has a meringuish frosting, and the Lady Baltimore, an almond-flavored cake filled with coconut, candied cherries, cookie crumbs and almonds

The clerk behind the counter professed that his ultimate love in the bakery is the banana pudding (not the cupcakes!).  I have actually heard this about Magnolia Bakery also - the truth is in the banana pudding!

I took home the red velvet, the hummingbird cupcakes and of course, the banana pudding, because the clerk's challenge was on !  Could the banana pudding be that much better than the cupcakes ??

The Red Velvet topped with cream cheese frosting (as all red velvets should!).  I love how the frosting is about as tall as the cake itself.

I was pleasantly surprised how tasty this cupcake was.  My favorite red velvet in Manhattan is Tonnie's Minis, which has unfortunately moved on up to Harlem, but Buttercup's might be second on the list now.  The cake was fairly moist, and the cream cheese frosting was terrific - thick, incredibly chream cheesy and sufficiently sweet without being over the top.  The red sugar sprinkles are a nice touch too. 

The Hummingbird: banana, pineapple and walnuts; supposed to taste like banana bread

And it totally tasted like banana bread!  I was nervous about how the pineapple would taste in the mix, but I couldn't even taste it.  The cake was moist even the next day, post airflight to Kansas City!  Some reviewers say that it is basically a muffin.  But, hello, it is a muffin with frosting and it's a bit more moist.  Awesomeness.

A small order of banana pudding is placed in one of these cups.  You can see a picture of my cool succulent plant to the right (I'll feature that bad boy in a separate post).

The cup is absolutely filled to the brim with banana pudding.  You can see the chunks of banana and Nilla wafers throughout.

This is my first time to be eat banana pudding ever, and it was a lot better than I imagined!  Really tasty, but suuuuuuper rich.  After about six spoonfuls, I was feeling pretty disgusted with myself, and I hadn't even gotten to the halfway mark of the cup.  I think it is best appreciated in small quantities, and a small cup should be more than enough for two people to share.  The pudding is really, really sweet which kills the ability to eat mass amounts, if you're into that sort of thing.

But I totally loved these chunks of Nilla wafers that soften in the pudding.  Yum!

I had kind of hoped that Buttercup wouldn't be any good because it is sooo dangerously close to my apartment (and conveniently on my way home from the subway!), but I really did enjoy it, so I'll need to start allocating some calorie count to this spot hereonout!

973 2nd Avenue, New York
(212) 350-4144
Buttercup Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scenes from Minneapolis

I've tried to be a bit productive this weekend:
1. I cleaned the apartment (swiffered and all!)
2. Did three loads of laundry
3. Scrubbed the bathtub
4. Cleaned out the fridge

So it's only fitting I start cleaning out my camera along with everything else, and I have been sitting on these Minneapolis photos for three months.  I know!  They're practically moldy!

So here's a brief rundown from my four day work week in downtown Minneapolis:

I ate a few things from the Westin Hotel / Bank Restaurant / room service:

Kobe beef burger with cheddar and bacon.  Surprisingly really good.  The beef was super flavorful, the bacon was wonderfully crispy, and the bun was soft and toasted.

A wild honey semifreddo with raspberry coulis; the room service clerk insisted this was her favorite.  It tasted pretty good though the grahamish cookie layers made the dish too gritty.  I appreciated the pyramid formation though.

Mussel and clams with tomato and chorizo

Mussels always sound good to me in theory, but please do yourself a favor and don't order mussels from room service.  I ended up getting sick after eating this dish, and it wasn't even worth it, because the mussels and clams were too chewy (nothing like the perfection that is Bistro Cassis). 

Chocolate brownie dessert redeemed the mussel entree with its fudgy self

In the middle of the week, Stefani gathered a bunch of our colleagues together for dinner at The Sample Room, a cute little tapas place a short drive outside downtown.

Sesame crackers were part of the complimentarty bread basket.  Love these.

Ahi tuna tasted fresh (but a bit too raw for me - I know Diana can relate!)

Ribs!  Even though they are gooey beyond compare, I really liked this.  The barbecue sauce had a great, tangy tomato base.

Asparagus with balsamic vinegar.  Super green and crisp.  (I know Greeshma's eyes are buggin' here)

Fire Roasted Artichoke Gratin (the cheese was interesting, but wasn't my cup of tea)

Seared sea scallops in dandelion coulis.  Came two to an order; large, plump and perfectly cooked.

Lunch at the Greek Grill:

Lamb and chicken skewers on rice.  Pretty good actually for a little restaurant in the Nicolett Mall.  The meat was plenty flavorful and moist.

Dinner at Mission Restaurant

West coast oysters.  Really juicy.  I heart oysters so much.  And during happy hour, all appetizers are half off, so you can eat twice as many oysters!

Fries with five sauces.  Some of the sauces were ketchup, mayonnaise, a barbecueish sauce and others.  I tried some of the sauces, but really just dug the fries plain.  I noticed the menu now offers "Fries with four sauces."  I wonder what happened to the fifth!

Duck two ways: smoked duck breast laying atop haricot verts which in turn lays atop a risotto duck confit cake

Can you see that perfect ratio of duck fat to duck meat?  This dish was just terrific.  The duck skin was crunchy from a salty shell and the meat ever smoky and succulent.  The risotto cake was excellent also, the outside was crispy, and the inside of the 'rice cake' had chunks of duck meat.  Iloveducksomuch.

Lunch at The Brothers Deli, a New York style deli shop:

A bulgogi sandwich! At a New York deli!  I've never seen the likes of this in NY, so I had to have it.

The sandwich was bulging with bulgogi, smothered with caramelized onions and roasted peppers.

I kind of picked off most of the onions and the peppers, and the sandwich was still overloaded with all of that Korean-marinated meat!  And it was actually really good.  I kind of wished they had an option to serve it over rice, but maybe that's just too Asian.  Loved this as a sandwich also though.

Double chocolate brownie from Brother's Deli.  They just have it all.  That whole top layer is pure sugary chocolate.  You know you want it.

Lunch at Chipotle (you know I gotta keep it real)

I love myself some Chipotle, and this time I decided to try their carnitas.

I did not find the carnitas as flavorful as the other meats there.  Barbacoa and steak FTW!

Snack at Red Cherry

Hello, beautiful.

Red Cherry is located inside LeAnn Chin in Nicolett Mall.  As a froyo connoisseur, along with Diana, I had to try the place out, for research purposes, and it totally did not disappoint.  The froyo here is delightfully tart but it has this unique sweet aftertaste that I have never experienced at any other frozen yogurt spot.  And I really like it.  But I have no idea what it is (maybe fat??).  The only downside of Red Cherry is that they have limited toppings (read: no mochi!) but the rainbow sprinkles go perfect with it.

Breakfast and Lunch at Au Bon Pain:

Guess what this is!

If you guessed cinnamon bun, you are right!  Look at those weird layers!  I actually really like their cinnamon buns.  Don't ask me why.  Just look at that thick sugary glaze coating.  Good cinnamon flavor also.

I tried their Mayan Chicken Harvest Rice Bowl: slow cooked chicken and spices served over rice, topped with a salad.  It was okay: the chicken was nice and tender, but not at all spicy, and then seriously, who wants a salad on top of their chicken on rice? (Okay, maybe Greeshma)

Dinner at the Minneapolis Airport - French Meadows Bakery & Cafe

Plain ol' pasta in tomato sauce.  Pretty decent, especially the crispy, grilled bread.

And that's Minneapolis for ya!  With our crazy work hours, food selections had to be a bit quick, but mayhaps I'll get a better chance to try out other dinner spots in the future to share with you!

88 6th Street South, Minneapolis, MN‎

Greek Grill
40 7th Street South, Minneapolis, MN‎

2124 Marshall Street Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55418-4216
(612) 789-0333
Red Cherry
700 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55467
77 7th Street South, Minneapolis
(612) 339-1000
50 S 6th St
Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis Airport