Monday, April 30, 2007

Coffee Update

If you like a good shot of espresso every now and then, then you are aware that a fragrant, strong, and not too bitter double shot can be hard to find. Well I have good news for all you diehards, the espresso at Chez Lola on Myrtle Avenue is slammin'! (yes I said slammin')
I could have easily guzzled this double without even a drop of sugar though of course I didn't(guzzle or go sugarless.) The brunch menu was awesome itself, including Chocolate French Toast (OMG), Pancakes with your choice of Blueberries, Bananas, and or White Chocolate, and savory items such as a fluffy Omelette with apples, leeks, and ricotta.

So next time you are in Fort Greene and you are suffering from coffee and or chocolate withdrawal - I almost always am - swing by Lola, you won't be sorry.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Perfect Restaurant

Did you ever try to imagine the perfect restaurant? What kind of food would it serve? What kind of ambiance would it provide? What kind of music would they play? And perhaps most importantly, how good would the coffee be? For many of you the notion of the perfect restaurant is nothing more than a fantasy, but luckily for me, this fantasy has become a reality. Cheryl’s, the new neighborhood restaurant focusing on “global soul’ may well be my dream come true.
It first grabbed my attention because of its innovative, funky, and comfortably minimal design. The brick walls are painted white, and covering the right wall are grainy slats of wood that reach and curve toward the back of the restaurant and continue up onto the ceiling creating a warm and rustic atmosphere. The first time I ate lunch at Cheryl’s I was running some errands and figured I would stop in for a quick bite. Even though it was my day off, it had been a stressful one so while ordering the Chelsea (all the sandwiches have names, as in human names) I spontaneously tacked on a glass of Rioja. The sandwich was simply perfect! Just the way I like it, with two fabulously fresh slices of nutty grain bread lightly smeared with fresh tarragon mayo, and stacked with just the right amount of turkey, greens, and delicately sliced cucumbers. Jenny Lewis’s soft and breathy voice echoed in the close to empty dinning room, “I’d rather be lonely, I’d rather be free, I’m as sure as the moon rolls around the sea…” I sipped my Rioja, boldly flecked with fragrant oak and fresh fruit, and took turns eating/sipping, sipping/writing, and writing then gazing out the window at the picture framed street corner on the other side. By the time I finished my perfect sandwich and polished off my glass of the wine I had decided to trashed my to do list and instead relaxed and got some writing done. It was altogether a flawless experience except that, when I went to use the bathroom I was almost stunned to find that there was no mirror.
Call me vain, but there was something unsettling about a bathroom trip without a mirror.

My second visit I wanted to put Cheryl’s to the true Gourmet Peasant test and that would have to involve morning coffee. I went in clean (without morning coffee or even a whiff of breakfast.) Moody and jonseing for my morning brew, I made a b-line for the counter and ordered the quiche Lorraine and a latte. I took my seat and prayed that the coffee would arrive before the coffee monster awoke from its peaceful slumber. I was overjoyed when the coffee arrived swiftly and with the perfect espresso to milk ratio. I took a sip, moaned then took another before noticing that the person next to me was staring. Oh well. I was jacked up on coffee and starving by the time the quiche arrived and devoured everything on the plate before I remembered that I had planned to take a picture.
Oh Well :(

So fare Cheryl’s has proved to fit the bill for my dream restaurant. Even the mirrorless bathroom adventure turned out to be a growing experience. There will be further testing before anything is set in stone of course. There is brunch to try, dinner to eat, and we musn’t forget about these cuties,
I can’t wait to give them a try. I think I may have an opening for dessert tomorrow, shall we say around 8pm?

Check out other reviews for Cheryl's Global Soul

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Admit...

Alright, I admit it, I have an obsessive personality and, when it comes to food, this fanatical glitch in my otherwise prudent nature can very often border on pathological. You’re all incredibly shocked, I’m sure. Those of you who have kept abreast of my coffee antics, have tagged along for my fantastical and at times quite tragic forays in cup cake making, and have witnessed my diligent journey to the finger-licking depths of chocolate noshing all understand how truly fixated I can become on a single food item.

Well I stand before you guilty once again. This time the substance of choice is, you guest it, ICE CREAM. Sure I could blame somebody else for my ‘difficulty’ with the stuff. I could easily blame David and his damn Perfect Ice Cream book but I am afraid that I am the one to blame. I have been making ice cream and consuming ice cream in sizable quantities long before The Perfect Scoop showed up on my doorstep (just wanted to take the time to thank my UPS delivery-man, Tom. Yes, we are finally on speaking terms and I'd like to keep it that way.) Blame does very little to alleviate the problem; this transgressive pattern in my eating habits is not going to change anytime soon. Who knows when I will tire of ice cream, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never. The point is, and I promise you there is one, is that I realize that reading about coffee and coffee alone for two whole weeks only to turn around and read strictly about chocolate might become a bit boring for you readers and this is why I have devised a plan. I propose that each week I will select a subject and do my very best to blog about different aspects of that subject. When the week is up, I will move on to a new subject. I am not saying that it will be easy and I am certainly not promising that I will succeed, but for the sake of not boring you I am willing to try.

To kick things off I have decided to take things out of the kitchen and into one of NYC most beloved boroughs. My topic of the week is eating out in Brooklyn. Check back in throughout the week to find out what this peasant is eating in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pros and Cons

When comparing two items, it is important that the comparer carefully consider the pros and cons of each item. Thankfully, in my case, I am comparing ice creams, and not something unappealing like canned beets or hostess fruit pies.
Let us start with Ben and Jerry's.


1. Its free Cone Day.
2. Its already made.
3. It's only one serving (so I won't stuff myself later.)


1. It's only one serving (so I won't have a chance to stuff myself later.)
2. You have to choose from a set list of flavors.
3. The waiting.

And what about making a fresh batch of the ice cream from The Perfect Scoop?


1. You can read and pronounce all the ingredients.
2. You can choose from a list of adventurous flavors.
3. You can improvise - I added ginger to the Super Lemon Ice Cream, and melon to the
Ginger Ice Cream.


1. The effort
2. The mess
3. The waiting

As it turns out, I can't compare Ben and Jerry's and David Lebovitz' ice creams because to be honest, I didn't have the patience to wait on that long-ass line. Sure everyone looked like they were having fun, but I had been dreaming of my free scoop all day long, I hadn't eaten all day, and just around the corner was an ice cream place I have been waiting to try.

There were no long lines at Sundaes and Cones, and within moments I was sampling flavors from their selection of classic and some more unusual flavors (wasabi/poppy seed.) I ordered a cone with one scoop of Mocha Chip, and one scoop of Creamy Ginger. Sorry Ben, sorry Jerry:(

Though I did spoiled the proposed contest, I still felt the need to draw some kind of conclusion about store scooped and homemade ice creams. So when I got home I whipped up a batch of Super Lemon Ice Cream, adding a bit of ginger for good measure.
After two ice cream shops and a batch of homemade - the life of a food blogger is not easy - what does this peasant have to say about the difference between store-bought and home churned ice cream? I must say that, as you don't have to wait on an insanely long line for them, they both have their charm.

David vs. Ben and Jerry

April 17th is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's. Participating ice cream shops in the NYC area include Ben and Jerry's Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Ben and Jerry's Chelsea, and Ben and Jerry's Third Avenue. Log onto their site to find participating ice cream shops near you.

As for me and all the other Lebovitz disciples, I wonder if our ice cream endeavors will forever ruin our taste for anything other than homemade ice cream. Thankfully, I am willing to sabotage my pitiful attempt at a diet in order to find the answer to this urgent question. Check back tonight for results.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Word with Martiny

“ Martiny, you are now at an age in which you should know the truth about your origins…
“You are probably already aware that you are not like other Martinis. You’re shorter, tinier, and you only have room for one olive.
“What you are not aware of is why it is that you are different. The truth is, there is no such thing as a Martiny. My friend Caitlin conceived of you at a party one fateful night as a solution to my disorder. You see I love Martinis. I love them dry, straight up, a little dirty, and most importantly, I love them cold. The problem? Martinis don’t love me back. I have a fairly good tolerance to most alcohol, and have masterful pacing skills, but there is something about the sinister Martini that prevents me from being able to employ these skills.
With the first sip of the menacing Martini comes the belief that I am in fact invincible and can mix as many different types off booze as I want with little consequence. Red wine, white wine, bourbon, tequila, and beer, its all equal territory after I’ve had a martini or two. The sober reality however, is that I am not invincible, there is no equal territory, and there are unfortunately consequences (click here for more details, and here, and here)

“Now, I know that this is hard for you to hear, and perhaps even harder for you to understand. You have spent your entire existence being bullied.
“You are an outcast. Rejected, you have been forced to skate on the fringe of the elite and illustrious martini community to only now learn that it not your fault nor is it your weakness, it is mine.

“I only hope that with time you will come to terms with your anger and resentment and will understand that it is not easy to bear the weight of cutting-edge innovation, for it is both a blessing and a curse. With nothing other than good intentions did Caitlin first shouted out the word, “MARTINY!” And without malice were you poured from the shaker the very next day. I only hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive my shameful handicap.”

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An Ice Cream Wish Fulfilled

Scrolling threw my blog entries over the last month or so, one might get the notion that I have become entirely consumed with the task of making ice cream. Do I deny it? With my culinary exploits broadcast on the web for anyone to see, how could I? Even David Lebovitz himself, the author of The Perfect Scoop and many other wonderful cookbooks, alludes to my heavenly immoderation with his link to my Gourmet Math – A losing battle post in which I attempt six of his recipes in one weekend. In accordance with 'gourmet math', and for the sake of looking sum-what presentable in my summer swimwear I was aiming at taking a break from ice cream making for a few weeks, but in light of Davids’s generous link, it seems that I must instead step it up a notch. Ah, La vida es dura – an ironic phrase that I have been uttering quite regularly as of late.

So how does an ice cream peasant step it up a notch? By making ice cream dreams come true of course! While showing my new ice cream maker to close friend and cooking companion Abraham, he opened up to me about his long and unfulfilled dream of making cilantro ice cream. “ Well do you have any plans this evening?” I asked him. He looked down at me with a tentative grin (he’s 6’4; I’m 5’4) and answered with hesitating inflection, “making cilantro ice cream…”

Unable to find a recipe for Cilantro Ice Cream, we decided on using David's recipe for Basil Ice cream as a guideline, and replaced the Basil with Cilantro.

Cilantro on its own seemed a bit boring so we decided to candy some lemon and lime zest to add a bit of kick.

With the custard churning away in the ice cream machine, and our candied lemon/lime zest cooling and crystallizing, we sat back and enjoyed some Roasted Carrot, Pear, and Beet Salad (we didn't want to eat anything too heavy with a quart of ice cream on the horizon.)

Five minutes before the ice cream was done, we tossed in the candied zest and watched as it was devoured by the rich and velvety frozen custard. "DING!!" went the timer and within moments we were crowded around the bucket and with fencing spoons tearing into the already melting concoction. It was a race against time, and we waisted none of it. " The cilantro is much more understated than I thought it would be," Abraham said before taking another bite. " But the flavor lingers," I interjected. And it did linger; Hours later I could still taste the earthy green essance of cilantro.

After our race against the melting pot, this was all that remained

So Abraham, how does it feel to have your long term ice cream wish fulfilled?

All in all the flavor came out great, though it will be subject to further experimentation and review. Perhaps we will 86 the zest and mix in a swirl of strawberry or even tomato jam instead... Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April Showers Bring May Flowers - SHF #30

At least that is what we have been telling ourselves over the years in order to make it through the rainy entrance of spring. But what if it didn’t rain? What if, instead of increasingly warm weather and plenty of rain, we got endless chilly days accompanied by the occasional snow flurry? What is it that we tell ourselves then?

This month's Sugar High Friday is being hosted by Monisha of Coconut Chutney. The theme, Flower Power entails cooking with flowers or flower extracts (yum) and is apparently inspired by the "beautiful Spring weather we’ve been enjoying recently." Well Monisha, I am glad that somebody has been enjoying good old fashion spring weather because this April has been anything but average here in the north east. The daytime temperatures have parked themselves comfortably at about 45 degree with late nights dropping below the freezing mark. With no expected change on the horizon, almost all of my friends have surrendered and revisited their long overworked winter wardrobes. But not me, I refuse! I will not yield to these meteorological conditions. I will not be intimidated by snow flurries on Easter morning, nor will I be railroaded by a chilly climate. I will ride my bike - even if it means I end up with an ear ache, I will wear my Marry-Janes – even if I have to wear them with thick wool socks, and I will eat Rose Sweetened Tri-Berry Sorbet – even if I have to drink a cup of hot tea to warm up afterwards. My entry this month has little to do with inspiration and is much more a statement of protest. Just like a tree that's standing by the water, I shall not be moved!

The round up will be posted on Coconut Chutney's Blog on April 27th so check it out and get a taste of spring.

Rose Sweetened Tri-Berry Sorbet

4 cups - mixed berries frozen or fresh - I used blueberry, strawberry, and

1 cup - water
1/2 cup - Rose Water Syrup
1 tbsp - lemon juice
Zest from one lemon

  1. Heat all the ingredients over a low flame. Do not boil.
  2. Pour mixture in food processor and blend
  3. Pass through a sieve, then stir in lemon zest
  4. Freeze according to manufacturers instructions

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gourmet Math- A Losing Battle

I jog an average of three miles, three to five times a week. I do this for cardiovascular health, and more importantly, to counteract my habitual cup cake, chocolate, and ice cream abuse. Think of it as gourmet math. I can pawn 40 minutes of jogging for eight bite-size pieces of dark chocolate - to be consumed at strategic moments throughout the day. I can also swap 40 minutes on the elliptical for a scoop or two of my favorite ice cream, a tri-berry scone from Two Little Red Hens in Brooklyn, or Salt Caramels from Lucky’s…Hell, throw in a bike ride to work and back and I can have all three. Gourmet math would be a wonderful system if it were not for it one critical flaw, my mother.

This week I visited my mother upstate and with her boyfriend Dave out of town, we were free to run wild in the kitchen, and run wild we did. Like two witches at the cauldron, we churned away at the stove making custard after custard too freeze into ice cream. The ice cream machine cranked and grunted as we watched with childish delight the creamy and swirling liquid thicken into a frosty marshmallow-like consistency. We made four flavors:
The vanilla was flawless,
the coffee aromatic,

the lemon light and puckery,

and the butterscotch almond a buttery dream.
The next morning I woke to the caramelized aroma of toasted sugar and butter and found my mother in the kitchen making ice cream cones. Later that day, with my niece, nephew, and brother, we devoured the cones and most of the ice cream. That night we returned to a nearly empty freezer; the only flavor left was a previously made container of Roasted Banana Ice Cream. We did the only thing we could do; we ate it.

For most people, this two day ice cream fest would have be enough to fulfill a month’s allocation but, for me and my mother we still had one day, three flavors, and an stack of ice cream sandwiches left to go. Why quite when you are on a roll?
After calculating the number of extra calories consumed in ice cream while at my mother’s house, Gourmet Math determined that, I would have to run three miles, at least three times a day in order to break even with this degree of calorie consumption. Who has the time for such measures? And, what is an ice cream eating peasant to do in such extreme circumstances? These question and others even mildly resembling them are clearly pushed to the back burner while visiting my mother. Lets just say, I have a lot of extra running to do in the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

La Vida Es Dura

Just moments after my mother swooped me up from the train station, were we comparing our favorite new cookbooks and selecting the recipes we would tackle over the next few days. She had just received David Lebovitz’s new recipe book, The Perfect Scoop, and I had just purchased The Essence of Chocolate by John Sharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. As I ruffled through page after page reading them aloud, our stomachs began to protest loudly. There were just so many marvelous recipes, Olive Oil Ice Cream, Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate Shortbread with pink salt and chocolate nibs, Chili and Chocolate Marinated Flank Steak… how were we ever going to choose between them all? Overwhelmed, I leaned back and glanced out my window at the approaching mountains plump with the promise of spring, and releasing a tiny giggle I sighed, "La Vida es dura."

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Soho Sighting

Master food and wine pairer Bernard Shanahan was spotted last night, sources say, at Soho hot spot Raoul’s on Prince street where he charmed his two fantastically dressed and blindingly gorgeous female companions with his delectable knowledge of food and wine.

It is said that, upon entrance to the gridlocked bar, the crowd parted creating a path that lead to a row of empty seats that appeared to be patiently waiting the trio's arrival.

After coupling the indulgently rich and fearlessly savory Foie Gras Brulee and Wild Boar Prosciutto with a luscious Tokai, Bernie shuffled his two mystery companions (if not already famous surely on their way) to Fanelli's Bar where the three enjoyed yet another brilliant pairing at his artful expense.

Cheesy and undoubtedly deep fried Jalapeno Poppers endearingly attended by a chocolaty Pint of Guinness Stout. It just goes to show, one of the most important skills a pairer can posses is versatility.