Monthly Archives: June 2012

Diners

So I met up with my British Museum friend whilst in New York and he decided I had to experience this diner on the Lower East Side. It’s a classic place. The staff are unfussed and  unpretentious. It is what it is. They serve that ridiculous (almost undrinkable) American coffee which they refill numerously whilst you’re there, leaving you on a caffeine high of epic proportions. The milk comes in those little throwaway plastic cartons.  We met for breakfast.For me this meant only one thing – pancakes. I love a pancake. I particularly love a diner pancake and when I’m in a classic American diner, like something out of the movies, that is the only thing to order. So I did. Blueberry pancakes with a side of bacon and a large jug of maple syrup. It was delicious. The serving size was enough for about four people so I got nowhere near finishing but it was the perfect combination of flavours: sweet from the syrup, salty from the bacon. The pancakes provide the best vehicle for these two combinations of flavours. In my humble opinion that is.

The other diner I visited on my trip was just up the road from my hotel, and is called The Bowery Diner. This has been retro-fitted to look like the sixties and attracts a cool crowd. I sat out front on these cute chairs and ordered a cheeseburger with fries. The burger was good, the fries better. I couldn’t finish it all (portion sizes) but it was a classic meal which I managed to have all by my itty-bitty self. That in itself was a learning experience.

Bouchon Bakery

I found myself walking through Rockefeller Plaza one afternoon and decided I was in need of a tea break of sorts. Iced coffee was called for – I happened to be in New York at their ‘start of summer’ which in non-New Yorker speak means the first summer heatwave. It was hot! And humid. The perfect excuse for many an iced coffee break. I’ve never really been a huge fan of iced coffee but apparently I’ve been reformed because I couldn’t get enough of the things. I’m also not the biggest fan of meringue but for this perfect tart I had to make an exception. Look at it! Isn’t it just too lovely for words? There was lots on offer at Bouchon Bakery but I saw this and knew it was destined for me.

It turned out to be a near perfect (possibly perfect) tart. Crisp pastry base. Tart, thick lemon curd. Soft, fluffy and somehow creamy meringue. Oh for more tarts like this one…

Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District

On my first day in New York I organized to do a food walking tour of Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District. I hadn’t been or known about Chelsea Market on my last visit to the city but it’s a fascinating place. The market is on the ground floor of what used to be the NABISCO factory – where they invented the Oreo. It’s all industrial chic with exposed pipes and brick work and the shops are exclusive bakeries/food shops/delis/supply stores that can easily break your will power and budget.

We started at Eleni’s bakery for a sampling of a red velvet cupcake. I love the biscuit dress in the window and the themed boxes of biscuits but at $65 a box, these were not in my budget! The cupcake was lovely, the icing smooth and creamy. It was bite-size which was good because we ate continuously for about three hours!

We then wandered through to watch the bakers of Amy’s Bread. The kitchens are all glass windows so you can see people at work, making the delicious goods on offer. This is an industrial operation with racks and racks of dough in various stages of proofing, baking,  and cooling. Very impressive. Whilst we watched we sampled chocolate milk from Ronnybrook Dairies.

Next it was into the fishmonger for a sample of lobster bisque…

Before a feast of Italian deli favourites – olives, cheese, cured meats, breads – where I saw these awesome marzipan fruits!

I was tempted to buy half of the shop at Chelsea Market Baskets. Dulce de leche from Argentina, Island Bakery cookies from the Isle of Mull (I got super excited when I saw these as I love this bakery), weird bacon sweets, chocolate gummy bears.

I particularly like this idea of bacon inside the pancakes!
I loved these Sesame Street cupcakes.

Then it as out onto the High Line. The High Line is now a fantastic green space but I’ll talk more about it later in the week. This is just a taster…

Finally, we wandered through the Meatpacking District for one last sampling of oxtail pasta. I like the slightly gritty feel of this district. Despite it’s gentrification over the last few years, it still feels slightly harder and more intense in parts. By the time the tour was over I was full to the brim and ready for a long walk to recover.

Adventures in New York City

Hello again dear readers! I have returned from the new world, slightly jet-lagged and with a distinct need to stretch the buttons on my jean-pants. I had a super duper time in New York City – mostly work (an energizing conference where I felt I had found ‘my people’) but with A LOT of eating in-between. A. Lot. I really pushed out the boat here. And I did it all for you. Well, that’s what I kept telling myself when I was eating croissants from breakfast followed by tarts for tea, and not forgetting a burger or two, all washed down with endless cups of iced coffee (I am now an official addict). I did and saw so much that New York is going to take a number of posts.

First Views of the City – From the Rooftop of my Hotel

But first things first. Breakfast on my first day. I arrived on Sunday evening, got lost, then found again and finally went out for drinks with a friend from my British Museum days. By the time we finished I’d been up for almost 24 hours so serious amounts of sleep were called for. My body clock woke me up at 5am and I had that surreal, over-imaginative experience where I was sure I’d overslept and my clock had managed to change time on it’s own and I was missing vital parts of my New York experience. Of course that wasn’t the case at all – a quick check out the window revealed a city still in the throws of the very early morning.

The Window at CeciCela

When I finally did leave the house it was already warm and coffee was a priority. I wandered down Spring Street where I stumbled on a place on my list (the endless one I wrote for myself at the last minute). CeciCela was recommended for croissants so that’s what I ordered – an almond one and an iced coffee (the first of very, very many). The coffee was cold and very bitter which contrasted nicely with the super sweet croissant. It was flaky, full of almonds and sugar. I ate as I walked, wandering past bistros and boutiques. I got crumbs down my front. It was super.

 

CeciCela
55 Spring Street

Cheeseburgers and Cheesecake

Tomorrow I get to go to New York City! I’m rather excited about this. I’m going for work and will be presenting at a conference for the first time (minor heart palpitations/stomach butterflies etc) but I am also going to EAT. I started to draw up a list of places I wanted to visit (all of which you’ll get to read about when I get back) and after I’d gotten to page 3 I realised that my list is probably too long for just one person and one week. Still, I’m going to try and sample as much as I can. Most of my list is made up of bakeries or bakery items so there’s going to be a lot of carbohydrates going on, plus a few ice creams to shake things up. I’ve also organised to go on a food walking tour of Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District as well as a few other things that are offered by the conference. Hopefully it’ll all live up to my (rather excessive) expectations. In the meanwhile I’ll leave you with some photographs that I took the last time I was there. Catch y’ll on the flipside!

Raspberry, Lime and Yogurt Cake

This cake is a perfect marriage of raspberries and lime – the raspberries tart, the lime refreshing. I’ve thrown in some poppy seeds for texture and some yogurt for moistness. I’m slowly getting over my aversion to raspberries (a result of one summer when we ate nothing but raspberries and blackberries) and I particularly like the red tartness of the ones currently available (yay for farmer’s markets!). This is uplifting cake, the kind to be made on a dreary Wednesday or when you’re suffering from the Sunday blues – it works as breakfast, tea and dessert. I did not ice the cake but you can drizzle some of that white chocolate ganache I spoke of here  if you feel inclined.

Raspberry, Lime and Yogurt Cake
180g butter, unsalted, soft
180g golden caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
240g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
40g poppy seeds
2 tbsp plain yogurt
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 punnet of raspberries

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Mix together the poppy seeds, yogurt and lime juice and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until white and fluffy.
Add in the eggs, followed by the vanilla and lime zest.
Fold in the flour and baking powder followed by the poppy seed mixture.
Finally, crush the raspberries slightly (I just used my hands) and fold them into the cake mixture, creating a ripple like effect.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and even the surface with a spatula.

Bake for 25 minutes at 180C and then reduce the heat to 160C and bake for another 10-15 minutes. The cake should pull away from the sides and a cake tester inserted should come out clean. I reduced the heat in the oven because the cake was browning too quickly but you may not need to do this.