A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ramen, Cupcakes and a Champagne Cocktail

What more do you need on a rainy, windy Saturday?

After a successful but mentally fatiguing shopping expedition to Midtown, S. and I treated ourselves to some much needed girl time. We headed down to the East Village to some of our favorite places. First off was
Minca Ramen Factory. We both went for the Basic, a huge steaming bowl of noodles and thick, rich garlicky broth topped with mushrooms and a couple slices of melt in your mouth pork. Rest assured, this ramen bears absolutely no relation to the noodle block many of us depended on for sustenance in college. I can never finish it and usually take the rest home for lunch the next day.

After filling our bellies with ramen noodles, we took a walk down to
Sugar Sweet Sunshine on the Lower Eastside to have a couple of their superb cupcakes. S. likes the red velvet, which are moist and very red. I tried the pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, also moist with a little spice. The buttercream they use is light and not too sweet. You can eat a whole cupcake without feeling like you'll get a cavity. The atmosphere is cozy and warm and the sweet smell makes you want to stay for a while.

We topped off our evening with cocktails at Angel's Share. I tried one of their signature drinks, Scenes in the City. A refreshing mix of Citron, grapefruit juice, and lychee syrup. S. went for her favorite, a Bellini. For the encore we each had a Kir Royale. I have to thank S. for getting me started on the champagne cocktails. They add a festive note to going out for a drink. This bar is small and a little hidden (though really not much of a secret). You need to go up a flight of stairs and through a Korean restaurant to enter. It fills up quickly, so the time to go is right after it opens at six. We sat at the window and watched twilight fade into night. The mixologists at Angel's Share are scientific in their approach to drinkmaking. They are fascinating to watch as they measure out the proportions and then put it all together. I recommend getting a bar seat once in while to see them work.


536 East 5th Street
New York, NY

(212) 505-8001

Sugar Sweet Sunshine

126 Rivington

New York, NY
(212) 995-1960

Angel's Share

8 Stuyvesant Street

New York, NY
(212) 777-5415

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wine Stained Teeth

As many of my friends will tell you, I will rarely, if ever, say no to a glass of wine. Not that I am a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I just know what I like and enjoy partaking in it. By extension, wine tasting is a favorite outing. When S. and I lived in San Francisco, we tried to make it up north of the Golden Gate once or twice a year. Since moving to NYC, we've discovered the North Fork area of Long Island. It was time for a trip out there and out of the city, so RFC, S., S's SO (who will be henceforth known as SG) and I packed up the car for a weekend away.

I can't believe how close the North Fork is, and yet how far out in the country it seems. There are big(ger) pieces of land, farms, farmstands, and wineries, all about two hours away from NYC. We totally lucked out on the weather with two perfect days of sun. We hit five wineries in all, but really just three stood out. The other two were closer to that scene in Sideways of the scary over-run tourist winery, so I won't bother with them. I think the trick to North Fork is to get off the Route 25 and onto the less traveled 48. There you will find Shinn Estate Vineyards and Sherwood House Vineyards. Shinn Estate is owned by the people who own Home in Manhattan. (Which is a lovely little place in the West Village.) During our wine flight, we were led on a short vineyard walk by one of the owners. We also had the opportunity to lavish attention on their cat and dog. The people at Shinn Estate pointed us in the direction of Sherwood House down the road. They boast the smallest tasting room in North Fork, and it is small, a converted shed really. But because you can't hang around inside there, you are forced (wink, wink) to sit outside next to the vines. Earlier, we had stopped by the Peconic Baking Company and there had picked up a moist, lightly spiced pumpkin bread. We brought it out and spent a very content hour nibbling and enjoying their Reserve Merlot. It's amazing we were able to leave. We ended this day eating at Claudio's in Greenport. This was a recommendation by RFC who has been there a few times and it was totally on the mark. We dined on clam chowder, local oysters, flounder and striped bass as well as North Atlantic swordfish. Everything was simply prepared so the freshness of the seafood shown through.

The next day was much more leisurely. We refueled with eggs, toast and bacon at the
Cutchogue Diner. It's a classic with it's chrome outside and cozy, bustling atmosphere inside. Since we weren't quite ready for wine at 11am, we scouted out a few farmstands. They were
already packed with families seeking corn mazes, hay rides and the perfect pumpkin for jack o'lantern making. We selected a few types of winter squash to enjoy later in the week. Having satisfied much of our wine needs the day before, we decided to only stop at one last vineyard, Old Field. We went by The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck and with the help of the friendly and very mellow staff, picked out a couple cheeses which we paired with fresh bread and thinly sliced prosciutto. I am a very bad foodie by the fact that I can't remember what we bought. (Can anyone help me with this?) This became the basis of a little picnic at Old Field. The owners here are very friendly and all the tastings are done outside, the chicken coop in clucking distance. You feel like you are a million miles from the city. We loved their chardonnay and bought glasses of it to enjoy with our snack.

I have to say a big thank you to RFC for doing all the driving. He really needs to teach me how to drive a stick so I can do my part. And S. and SG were perfect traveling companions. I can't wait until our next outing.

NYC Tart

Shinn Estate Vineyards

2000 Oregon Road
Mattituck, NY
(631) 804-0367

Sherwood House Vineyards
Elijah's Lane North of Country Road 48
Mattituck, NY (631) 298-1396

The Old Field Vineyards

59600 Main Road
Southold, NY (631) 765-0004

Claudio's Restaurant
111 Main Street

Greenport, NY
(631) 477-0627

Peconic Baking Co
8595 Cox Lane, #5
Cutchogue, NY
(631) 734-4182

The Village Cheese Shop

Love Lane

Mattituck, NY
(631) 298-8556

Cutchogue Diner
28230 Main Road

Cutchogue, NY
(631) 734-2330

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


When I moved to Chapel Hill, I knew only 2 people. One was my dear friend Cheryl who I met at White Lotus during a Yoga Teacher Training Program. The other was a cook named Hitch who I worked with at the venerable Union Square Cafe. We literally worked on opposite sides of the kitchen. Hitch would work feverishly on the Pasta Station, while Karen and I would toil away in the Pastry Station. The design of the Pastry Area was created by someone with a very wicked sense of humor. During service, only 2 people could work in the area and it was still a bit too cozy. While we tried to make delicate tuiles in the top oven, the line would be searing off lobsters or bacon in the bottom one. Our Hobart machine was housed on the floor and the ice cream machine lived in the dungeon. I mean downstairs past the walk-ins and dry storage. The whole kitchen and upstairs office had an eclectic feel of a first apartment. Use of space and inherited objects would find very creative uses, but somehow it all worked.

The menu was not cutting edge, no foam or sous-vide here, just, rustic inspired food. How could you go wrong with the Greenmarket just steps away? Among the hustle and bustle, you would find a familial atmosphere. Many interns, cooks and chefs would pass through the doors to gain hands-on experience and a notable mark on their resume. I didn't know Hitch all that well, but knew he was moving to this place called North Carolina. Quelle idee! I thought when you get married and have children you move to Connecticut. Of course, roughly a year later I found myself in the same predicament and was eager to get in touch with him.

I had no idea what a culture shock it would be to move here and going to Hitch's restaurant Sandwhich definitely reminded me of home. We would reminisce about work, living in the city and adapting to life in a small town. He even let me try my hand at making a few pastries for his shop. His menu is composed of thoughtful concoctions that are far from ordinary. Each sandwich is served between Weaver Street Bakery bread and many ingredients are from local farmers. The Tuna Sandwich, a favorite, is a perfect homage to our Alma Mater.

East End Courtyard
431 West Franklin St. Suite 16
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Monday, October 09, 2006

Apple Time

Autumn is definitely my favorite time of the year. I love the chill in the air, football on the television (Go ND!), Halloween and Thanksgiving, and the hearty, comfy food it all inspires. RFC and I celebrated the beginning of fall by going apple picking. We took a drive about an hour north to Masker's Orchard in Warwick, New York. It is a "u-pick" orchard where you actually drive your car among the trees and fill your orchard-issued bags until your heart's content. I don't think I am too keen on the idea of driving through the orchard and it was awfully crowded, but we still had a fabulous time picnicing on the grass with apples randomly falling from the trees above us and then harvesting to the point we could barely carry our bags. We came away with a few Red Delicious, which aren't really a favorite of either of us. I find the peel a little bitter and RFC thinks they are devoid of flavor. Most of our haul consisted of Macintosh and Jona Golds as big as your head. Pie making is now in my future, along with some apple cookies and possibly pancakes.

We took a break from the picking to indulge in all things apple at the farm stand. The two of us shared a slice of apple pie and a cider doughnut. And we sipped hot and cold cider. The pie was freshly baked, the apples in the filling still held their shape, yet melted away in my mouth. The crust was flaky, if rolled a little thick. The cider doughnuts were...good as doughnuts usually are. I couldn't taste the cider in them, but I love the idea of cider in doughnuts. The dusting of cinnamon-sugar was enough to satisfy my taste buds.

Now is the time to give free rein to your apple fancy. If you can't get out of whatever city you are in to pick them yourself, I'm sure there is a farmer's market near by. Here in NYC, I know the Greenmarkets are bursting with their apple bounty. If you see them, try Honey Crisp, they are so sweet, it's like natural candy.

NYC Tart

Monday, October 02, 2006

Cheese & Pepper

In honor of S.'s 32nd birthday, the gang made a trek to the East Village to Cacio e Pepe for an Italian feast of pasta, wine, and then a little more wine. S. and her SO went to Italy last year and still reminisce, and attempt to recreate at home, a pasta dish they had there, which also happens to be the dish for which this restaurant is named. Three of our five ordered it and it was served tableside out of a hollowed out wheel of pecorino cheese. The presentation was very impressive, though it led to some discussion about whether this was a traditional way of serving it (the consensus was no, followed by a few cheese wheel jokes). The dish is very simple, literally just cheese and pepper dressing the pasta. S.'s SO thought the key was fresh, fragrant peppercorns. I was thrilled with my giant rigatoni with tuna, olives, and capers that packed quite a kick. RFC was also pleased with his pasta in red pesto. All were cooked perfectly al dente. We also tasted a sweet/salty foccacia with figs and proscuitto and a lentil salad with blue cheese and beets. We passed on dessert because there was a cake waiting back in Queens, but there were some interesting combinations that I would love to come back and try.

Cacio e Pepe

182 2nd Avenue
New York
(212) 505-5931

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cookies for Breakfast

I am very overdue in my write up about a second blogging event I participated in. Around the time I discovered Sugar High Fridays, I came across Blogging by Mail, sponsored by Dispensing Happiness. Stephanie invited bloggers from all over to send in their snail mail addresses to her along with food likes and dislikes. She matched up everyone so that we all got a care package in the mail this past month. I sent one out to Kansas to Heather at Eating for One. I included some NYC treats along with a few things I really enjoy. A couple weeks ago, I received my own box of goodies from Michelle in Texas. What was waiting for me at the post office was filled with two kinds of cookies, tea cakes that were similar to sugar cookies, but more crumbly, and what she called, "one cup cookies." They were like oaty chocolate chip cookies. I like cookies with some texture, so I literally ate them up...for breakfast...every day for a week. Yum. Thanks Stephanie for setting up BBM and thank you Michelle for the lovely package! NYC Tart

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