Shave Ice and Rock Candy

Goodness, do I love New York City!  We just had such a good weekend.  First, how neat is this rock candy instillation at Union Square?

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Second, we hung out in the epically cool Industry City,

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and went to the American Fields pop up market,

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where they gave us (multiple!)(free!!) delicious rosemary maple bourbon sours,

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as well as a sample of Unicorn Kisses seltzer.

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I haven’t actually tasted it yet, but I’ve been trying to get my hands on some for a year so this was pretty damn exciting.  <– and it wasn’t even out on the samples table but I asked the Polar guy about it and he brought me one from a special hidden stash!

Five favorite foodie things this weekend…

{1} a new snack

Crispy okra from Trader Joe’s.

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{2} a new favorite in bubble tea

Pa Tea might be our new favorite tea spot.

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We had brown sugar milk tea with pudding aaaaand baby boba.

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{3} breakfast at Brooklyn Kolache

Pimento cheese and sweet cheese and blueberry.

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Plus a latte from Brooklyn Roasting Company.

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{4} lunch at Pig Bleeker

Complimentary cornbread madelines.

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A Yolanda Winston – vodka, curacao, vanilla, and Wolfer cider.

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Duck lasagne!!

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And roasted brussel sprouts with pickled mustard seeds that were the best vegetable I’ve ever been served.

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S’mores in a jar.

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{5} dinner at Little Tong

We loved this noodle shop.  Everything felt intentional and the dishes were all gorgeous – I wish the light had been better for pictures so I could come closer to capturing the beauty.

Chinese broccoli salad with citrus soy and smoked egg yolk.

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Spiced duck fat fried purple potatoes with cheese curds.

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Grandma Chicken Mixian – noodles, chicken broth, chicken confit, tea egg, pickles, flowers, fermented chili, and black sesame garlic oil, and chili oil on top.

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And then we walked across the street and cooled down our mouths with a guava snow cone with condensed milk.  Yes, on the coldest day of the year so far.

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I love NYC.

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Couch Potato, Twice Baked

This past week I came home from vacation and went back to work.  It wasn’t all bad, the end of vacation means I get to see this face –

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We made it home in time to celebrate his Buyday.  With steak!

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Here are the highlights of what the humans ate this week…

Coffee (coffee! coffee!).  Wicked Joe Coffee sent me some samples.  WJC is a sustainable, family-owned company producing certified organic, fair trade coffees.  They offered to let me try out the goods in celebration of the fact that they are available in 247 Sprouts Farmers Markets nationwide.

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I tried both blends (cooked in our drip coffee maker than cooled and served iced) black and with skim milk to taste-test and give them two thumbs up!  I also did some fun, sugary coffee pairings based on the tasting notes to jazz up my return to work mornings.  Wicked French says “bakers chocolate with an unexpected hint of sweetness” so I used fancy chocolate milk.

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Big House has “sweet notes of caramel and citrus” so I swirled in dulce de leche.

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Yogurt bowls.  Vanilla almond granola / cloudberry peach skyr / and three(!) colors of plucots.

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Passion fruit Fage / an apple / and an Rx Kids chocolate chip bar.

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I snuck in one last day of midweek vacation with Adam on Wednesday and we went on a lunch date at the gorgeously cool Chaan Teng in Hell’s Kitchen.

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I had shrimp and chicken dumplings to start.

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And a sweet and spicy cocktail with tequila, tamarind, basil, Szechuan peppercorns, mango juice, lime, and chili.

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They had kung pow duck!  With chilis , peppers, peanuts, and jicama.

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Snack attack.  We finally got to Astoria to try Chip.  My s’mores cookie was gooey perfection and now I can’t wait to go back.

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Cola candies.

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Korean Chili KIND bar.  <– I like their savory flavors even better than the sweet

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These dried mangos from TJ’s are out of this world good.

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If you stretch the definition of “cooked” to its limit, I made five nights of home-cooked dinners!  Turkey and sharp cheddar sandwich on a toasted whole-wheat croissant.

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BBQ chicken salad.  Local greens / ranch / baby heirloom tomatoes / pulled chicken breast with Korean bbq sauce / smoked cheddar.

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An assortment of freezer items, and eggplant that I actually cooked myself.

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TJ’s Thai sweet chili veggie burgers.

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Crinkle cut fries (with ketchup and mayo).

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Steamed/sautéed eggplant cooked with canola oil, fish sauce, gojuchang, honey, and garlic scapes.

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I made pimento cheese twice baked potatoes!

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This was my first time making twice backed spuds (or even eating them for that matter) but they came out great.  The filling was a mix of potato / extra-sharp cheddar / diced pimentos / mayo / smoked paprika and cayenne.

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Served with baked tofu.

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And beautiful roasted purple and orange cauliflower.

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The potatoes were great leftover too.

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With leftover duck that I chopped up and reheated in a skillet.

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And oven-baked okra fries.

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Have a great weekend!

Virginia Vacation

My week off from work has been pretty great so far!

Monday was my birthday.  I kept tradition going and enjoyed my free Starbucks birthday drink (quad nonfat iced latte) with sprinkles on top.

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Adam and I took a quick three day trip to Virginia.  Road trip essentials include…

Snacks (highlights were sweet chili Doritos and Koru apples).

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Coffee (mojito black tie from Peet’s aka cold brew with sweetened condensed milk and mint).

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Music.  I full-on head banged down the highway for a few hours thanks to our excellent music selections, including Betty Who, The Offspring, and this Regrettes song I’m obsessed with –

Richmond food highlights…

The coffee at Black Hand might be our all-time favorite.  We swooned over our choices and left with several bags of beans.

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Lunch at Urban Farmhouse.  I had a pimento cheese grilled cheese with local tomato and salad with cucumber, mint, and feta.

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One of my cousins lives in Charlottesville and she drove down for the day to spend my birthday with me.  We had an amazing dinner at Saison.  My Fuentes Fizz was smoky and delicious – Mezcal, Velvet Falernum, Cherry Herring, lime, grapefruit, egg whites, and soda water.

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We shared grilled okra and peaches to start.

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And I had the crispy rice bowl with fermented chili sauce, oyster mushrooms, pickled vegetables, and a poached egg.

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Dessert was just ridiculous.

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Panna cotta with honey glass and honey powder!

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Charlottesville food highlights…

Bagels at Bodo’s, where they ship in New York water for their dough.  I had an everything bagel with olive cream cheese and it was wonderful.

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Froyo at Arch’s.  Dulce de leche and cake batter with Oreos and a huge scoop of gooey brownie batter on top.

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We had dinner at Mas with my cousin and her boyfriend.

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I was too busy enjoying the company to take pictures (plus we ordered a million different plates!) but everything was fantastic.  The shrimp were out of this world.

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Now TODAY, I get to go pick up both Webster and my parents!  Enjoy the rest of your week!

Left My Heart In Montana

I’m missing a lot of photos this week but the meals I do have to share were off the charts good.

lunch

Mostly I did lunches from the cafeteria this week, like a tasty broccoli and cheese baked potato whose cell-phone photo was an absolute horror.  Packed lunches featured a great fruit salad – Cara Cara Orange, strawberries, and 3 varieties of pluot.

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With plain yogurt and Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes.

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Fresh mint in sparkling water is my jam.  This “mojito” rocked our socks off.

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We’ve kept the dessert every day thing going.  One morning Adam took me to work and we tried the doughnuts at Elsie’s Parlor.  I got the Confettura Di Fichi – filled with fig jam and topped with mascarpone and toasted almonds.

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I loved the idea of this, especially because the fig jam and mascarpone were delicious, but the texture was terrible, way too dense.  If I thought of it was a muffin it was great, but as a doughnut I ate half and we moved on to a tried and true.

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Now that’s a doughnut!  My peaches and crème doughseed had just the right balance of fluff and chew.  Plus it was perfectly tangy and sweet.

Vegan ice cream from Sky Ice.

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Thai iced coffee and Thai young coconut went great together.

Ice cream from Oddfellows.

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S’mores with amazing caramelized white chocolate with toasted almond.

Guava-cheese empanadas.

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Enjoyed with Ruth Reichl’s novel, which I read in a day and a half and enjoyed even more than her memoir.  She is such a good story-teller and her food writing makes your mouth water.

dinner

Leftover Korilla knock-off bowls were still yummy.

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I stir-fried mine with eggs to make up for the missing one on top.

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Also I kind of burnt the life out of it, but this was still good.

It was fitting that I put this dinner on my heart plate because I loved-loved-loved it.

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A tiny roasted pile of every single okra I could find at the stores this weekend.

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Plus I snacked on this for extra veggies.

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Toasted ciabatta sandwich with turkey, turkey bacon, Colby jack, and Smart Balance.

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The cheese was extra-thin sliced and it melted to perfection.

We checked out Bushwick’s Montana’s Trail House and our best meal of the week ended up being the best meal of the year!

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Adorable décor, amazing service, and freshly made food – most of it local – with well-balanced flavors.

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Captain Stormalong – Standard Heartcut White Whiskey, Campari, Demerara & Topped with Downeast Cider.

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Riff Randell – Vodka, Krupnikas Honey Liqueur, Contratto Aperitif, Luxardo Maraschino, Acid Phosphate, Sparkling Wine.  This was the best drink we’ve ever had.  It was like drinking pure honey but in an amazing way.  Similar to a great honey meade I had in SF.

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We started with the charred green beans – which were topped with browned garlic and soft-cooked eggs and served on top of housemade ricotta.  This was the best dish of the year, the lemony ricotta was fantastic with the drippy eggs and charred greens.

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Then we shared the dinosaur kale salad – with feta, roasted carrots, and kale that was grown in the restaurant’s rooftop garden!

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And the fried chicken with honey butter and housemade hot sauce.  Best fried chicken ever; super juicy and every bite had a whiff of honey.

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Dessert – aka the course I saw on Instagram that made me move this restaurant to my “must-eat” list – was banana bread s’mores.  <– squee!

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Also they brought us complimentary shots with our bill because we’d been raving about every bite we took.  Love.  NYC people – get yourself to Bushwick, you won’t regret it!

Reunited And It Feels So Good

I had an absolute blast in Buffalo but this past week I have been so freaking excited to be home with my boys.  I usually miss them by the end of my workday so a long weekend away feels like an eternity.  I am lucky to have a husband and dachshund who are both so great! {/sap}

breakfast

Black and white coffee.

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Or Vanilla Chameleon Cold Brew with chocolate milk and an apple on the side.

Cereal with milk.  And blueberries.

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Plus Guava Mandarin Polar seltzer.

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I lugged that back from Wegman’s in Buffalo and it was so worth it.

Coffee-eee-eee.

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Always worth it.  I’d be lying if I said my birthday drink freebie wasn’t bringing me a lot of anticipatory joy.

lunch

Asian-ish.

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Microwave noodles and roasted seaweed.

Oatmeal bowl.

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Chai-spiced oats from Target with maple almond butter on top and 2 black pluots on the side.

Yogurt bowl.

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Vanilla Skyr Icelandic yogurt with blueberries, KIND peanut butter granola, and chia seeds.  This was so tasty; I need more of that yogurt immediately.

dinner

Adam was at the hospital when I got home on Sunday so we had to turn Monday into date night.  He picked me up at work and came bearing red velvet cupcakes.

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We went to dinner at East Wind Snack Shop by Prospect Park.

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We came in for the foie gras bao, which ended up being only ok.  For the cheap price the amount of foie gras was very fair, but I would have rather paid a bit more and gotten a better meat-to-bun ratio.

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But my Happy Buddha Vegetables were yummy.

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They describe this dish as “jasmine rice, fermented tofu, seasoning, and all sorts of vegetables.” I’m not sure what the green sauce was but it was worth going back for.  Then we walked to the theatre (our movie theatre) to see “Ant-Man.”  The character development was weak but the movie was still hilarious so we’re glad we went.

I didn’t have time to do a real grocery trip this week so the following two nights were admittedly a little weak.  This meal was fine but it’s not winning any prizes.

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Cheez-its, leftover roasted veggies that Adam made last week, and a turkey and Havarti cheese sandwich.

This meal was a bit better.  It definitely tasted good.

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We needed a carbohydrate side so we had beer!  Tusker is one of my all-time favorite beers, and pretty much the only lager I enjoy.

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With roasted veggies – asparagus, okra, and zucchini – with Applegate chicken nuggets.

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A copious amount of ketchup was added after I took that picture.

My parents come to visit tomorrow.  And Friday is my birthday.  I’m old, but excited!

Staycation 2015: NYC

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Once we got home from St. Thomas (a week ago now,) our vacation turned into a staycation and the fun continued.  We got in a bunch of cuddle time with Webster, caught up on tv, and spent three straight days walking and eating.  On Friday we walked 6+ miles around the Upper West Side in one afternoon.  I know this post is running late, but that is because it is GIANT.  By sharing everything, leaving lots of leftovers, and through sheer force of will, Adam and I managed to try a ton of the restaurants on our “to-eat” list during our last days spring vacation.  I know I say that 8 different things in this post are “the best,” but I’m not exaggerating, these spots were all really outstanding.

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BAOHAUS

Baohaus serves some of the most inventive buns in the city.  We’ve gotten the Coffin Bao with fried chicken and chili sweetened condensed milk in the past and it was on point.  This trip we stuck with the Birdhaus – All natural fried chicken brined 24 hours, served with Haus Seasoning Salt, lemon-garlic aioli, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro.

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Plus tea from the shop next door.

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My milk tea had boba, grass jelly, and pudding.

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Bibble & Sip

B&S is an adorable little llama-adorned coffee shop on 8th ave just south of the park.  The baked goods looked great but we honed in on the lavender latte.  The floral flavor was perfectly balanced by the (skim)milk, though I wish we had gotten iced.

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Chuko Ramen

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Chuko is a modern-looking ramen spot in Prospect Heights.  This was actually our first official ramen experience, but I’m still feeling pretty confident in saying that this is the best in Brooklyn.

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Every dish had such umami.  We started with a shrimp bun with garlic tartar sauce.

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And crispy Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, peanuts, and pickled jalopeños.  The crunchy leaves were to die for.

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I got the veggie miso ramen with chicken, though they had the option to go full vegetarian.

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It was ridiculous.  The noodles were chewy, the broth was robust (and vegetarian!), and the poached chicken was unbelievable soft.  It came topped with sweet corn, greens in truffle oil, mushrooms, a soft-boiled egg, and chili oil.  This bowl was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted so it tells you a lot about the generous portion size that I couldn’t finish it.

Corner of Vermont

Corner of Vermont is a little shop on 5th in Park Slope that is Buddy the Elf’s dream – everything they sell is laced with maple syrup.  Black Bear Sugarworks‘ divinely smoky and complex maple syrup.  We were swooning over everything we tried, even the little cups of straight syrup they hand you at the door.  Adam got an amazing maple soft-serve and I got a maple soda.

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Plus we had a maple bear, the single best piece of maple sugar candy I’ve ever tasted.  The fantastic syrup gave it a great start, but also because the candy was so fresh the mouthfeel was perfect – the candy held up to the bite and then melted in your mouth.

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Dough

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These doughnuts are ubiquitous at this point – they sell them at Whole Foods and my hospital’s tiny coffee counter – but they are worth the treck to Fort Greene because they are a trillion times tastier straight from the source.  The dough is slightly sweet and not too dense and the glaze on my salted caramel chocolate was ridiculously chewy and deeply dark chocolate-y.

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Grand Central Station

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Café Grumpy makes us anything but grumpy, they have one of our all-time favorite expressos.  My skim macchiato was great.

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And the giant salted caramel macaron I paired with it also put a smile on my face.

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Hibino

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Hibino is a gorgeous sushi spot in Cobble Hill with a great selection of (many local varieties of) seafood and tofu that they make in-house.  I got an iced roasted barley tea which was unsweetened and very refreshing.

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We got seaweed salad which came with wakame and red and green seaweed.  Adam loved it but I could not do the unseasoned seaweed; there are very few vegetables I don’t like but red seaweed now tops the list.

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Of course we tried the the cold house-made tofu, which came with scallions, ginger, and dashi (a kombu, or kelp, broth).  The tofu was strangely flavorless and very creamy.

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And I went with the vegetable roll for dinner.

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The orange piece on the left was me being brave and trying uni – raw sea urchin!  It was good, very velvety.

Nunu Chocolates Café & Tap Room

Nunu is a Brooklyn-based chocolate company that makes a caramel bar I’ve been obsessed with for years.  Their newest location is Park Slope serves homemade chocolates, Blue Bottle coffee, and a pretty decent selection of draft beers.

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They also offer a chocolate and beer pairing, which is what we came in for.

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I am sad that I didn’t take notes because we loved every bite and sip but at this point I can’t remember what anything was.  Surprisingly, our favorite thing was a spicy beer that Nunu collaborated on with a local brewery.

Pure Thai Cookhouse

PTC is a Hell’s Kitchen spot with delicious, authentic Thai food.  Serious Eats raved about it and it’s been my Thai go-to since trip one.  The space is tiny but the vibe is casual and the service is crazy quick.  Their noodles are great, but I went with a rice-based special, Kao Ob Talay.

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Steamed jasmine rice with crabmeat, jumbo shrimp, taro root, shitake mushroom, onion, scallion, cilantro, ginger, and garlic soy sauce.

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The bites with sweet crabmeat and chewy shitake were take-your-breath-away good.

Schmackary’s

Schmackary’s is a cookie bakery and coffee shop in the Theatre District.  Their menu changes daily/seasonally and includes spectacular things like s’mores, sweet corn and bacon, and blueberry cobbler.  We got a butter pecan that was legit the best purchased cookie I’ve ever tasted – browned butter / toasted pecans / butterscotch.

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Weekend Wrap-Up; I’ve Got Recipes To Share

Like the title says – “I’ve got recipes to share!”  I managed to whip up some really great meals this weekend.  That accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider the cold I’m working through.  <– let’s consider my horn fully tooted, huh?  I was talking to my dad on Saturday morning about how glad I was to have missed Adam’s recent bout of illness and by that night I felt terrible.  Unfortunately I’ve felt progressively worse since.  Hopefully tomorrow will put me on the upswing.

breakfasts and snacks

Recipe #1 – Almond Joy Baked Oatmeal.

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This stuff was yummy.  Click the link above for the recipe.

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Green apple slices dipped in melty peanut butter.

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We tried a new type of citrus from Whole Foods, pixie tangerines.  They were great; nice and sweet with no seeds.

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Healthy or sick, I’m all about the coffee.  Iced brown sugar cinnamon latte from Dunkin.

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Tall iced vanilla macchiato from Starbucks just a few hours later.  I asked for regular drizzle but sugar-free syrup and it was a definite improvement.

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And a clover-brewed Kona blend during my last set of errands the next day.

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A handful of chocolates.

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Adam and I split this Southern Hibiscus and Peach Milk Chocolate Bar.  There were little bits of chewy peach embedded throughout.

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I made the best milkshake.  Dannon Oikos Café Latte Greek Frozen Yogurt blended with chocolate milk and toasted coconut.  It rocked my socks off.

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I had several sips of the husband’s Polar Vortex.

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Usually we don’t have the same taste in beers but we both thought this Dunkel Lager was delicious.

dinners

Our Mexican dinner fell through on Friday.  Several false starts later, we ended up at Mint.

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I had Jack Daniels Honey with mint, lime, and simple syrup to drink.

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On my plate was rice with sauce from Adam’s chicken and a big pile of bhindi-do-pyaza – okra sautéed with onion and tomato.

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Our food was good but it was so flipping loud in there that I’m not sure we’ll ever go back.

Dinners at home were much better.  Like Sweet Onion, Bacon, Blue Cheese Burgers.

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On a slice of buttered, toasted sourdough with a pile of pea shoots on top.

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And last night we had shrimp and veggie (white)rice bowls.

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I used this recipe as a guide but went with pepper jelly and grapefruit juice.

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Plus we bulked our bowls up with roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

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Adam said I hit it out of the park!  That was the last of our big bag of frozen shrimp and I definitely want to buy more.

Did you make anything great this weekend?