Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Farewell to Strawberries: Momofuku Style

Strawberry season came late this year. It's a typical sort of thing for us - wait all winter and spring for the season's crop to arrive and then when it does - don't anything with them. There's no doubt we're making a concerted effort to take advantage of the summer's fruit.

A Lone Fragolina

We have some alpines growing in the MGG [Mobile Ghetto Garden], but the reality is that there's a reason you don't see fragolina (baby-sized strawberries) at the farmers market - they take too damn long to pick. This baby strawberries pack a certain "wow" factor into any summer tart, but it's hard to find enough ripe ones to harvest at the same time.

The Mobile Ghetto Garden: Waiting to be deployed to any patch of sunlight

This is our farewell to strawberries for the time being. The Christina Tosi version is like none that I've ever had before. If I had to describe it, I'd have to say that it's somewhere between the softness of a butter cookie, with the volume of a biscuit. The dough is basically rolled in balls, chilled overnight (highly recommended), and then right before they go in the oven, they are rolled in powdered sugar. The sugar adds a sweetness that wouldn't otherwise be there.

The Momofuku Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries

If I had one word of advice it would be to not overmix the dough. Like a flaky pie dough that is over mixed, these suckers will not rise and became thin and dense - almost bullet proof. If you don't chill them long enough there is no doubt they spread like an oil slick. Christina's recipes are usually written very well, but the four minutes it takes to mix the butter with the dry ingredients was a minute and a half too long for me. I did the recipe by eye the first time with no problems. The second time I took it the four minutes she said and it was over mixed. I did by eye the last time (noting how long it took) and they came out fine. These are hard to overcook, but if you under cook them they are going to suck.

The Momofuku Shortcake is unique and easy to put together. I haven't tried them with any other fruits, but the salty/sweet shortcakes seem to be a pretty versatile item that can be pared with anything with a lot of sugar in it.

Here is a link to the recipe.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

NEO Underdog #4

My next Northeast Ohio underdog is not in the nether regions of Painesville, the blue collar neighborhoods of the West Side, or even the southeast corner of the county - this underdog is sitting right underneath all of your noses, in of all places - TREMONT.

I can hear it now, "Oh, BS. I've either heard of it, or it sucks. In all honesty, if someone had told me to name such a place I would have probably said exactly the same thing - but a funny thing happened on the way to Fahrenheit.......

We typically stop in at Fahrenheit (or Fahrenheit's, as some of the older folk call it) every couple months for some appetizers and an order of short ribs. But on a visit late last year I took note of the pizza place that is attached to Edison's Pub, conveniently called Edison's Pizza Kitchen. I can't tell you how many times I've either walked or driven past this spot and not given it a second thought.

Edison's Pub, itself, is what I would consider a local spot for the Tremontonians. (Is that what they're called? Nope, commenter below says they're called Tremonters.) For the most part, many of the patrons seem to know each other. It's a low key younger crowd with nary a suit or tie to be found.

The three headed monster that is the Edison's Pub/Pizza Kitchen/Next Door Deli combines good pizza (I've not had the subs), great beer, and a fun venue. What you have is basically two originally separate spaces that have been joined together to make one congruent space. On the right side is the pub and on the left is the pizza and sub shop.

The bar area consists of a few different sections. The main bar is in the front and is relatively small (15 seats maybe), and has four microbrews on tap and an entire cooler filled with bottles. They do a really nice job of selecting good seasonal micros - over the winter they carried Bell's Hop Slam which you don't typically find at a four tap bar. For such a narrow selection they always seem to choose I nice variety of beers.

As you walk up a few steps you head toward the back of the building. Off to the left is the ordering window for Edison's pizza and sandwiches. If you're dining in, or having a drink while you wait for your food, you can pay for it and sit in any of the booths while they make it. If you call ahead for a to-go order you can just enter through the front of the shop. Cash and credit accepted.
The patio being graced by my pizza eating compatriot Cheesecake

From those same steps, if you go straight back, there are more booths and a room with a pool table. Directly off the back is a fantastic outdoor seating area. A covered shelter in the back offers protection from the lovely Cleveland weather. A grape vine covered arbor runs along the left side of the space, while a fountain dribbles in front of some octagonal picnic tables. The outdoor area is a great place to be on the few days we have beautiful weather. I love me a warm summer night with good friends, good beer, and good pizza.

Bountiful Toppings, Delicious Dusted Crust

The pizza is without a doubt my favorite in the downtown/Ohio City/Tremont area. The toppings are plentiful. The crust is cooked just right (crispy but not tough, chewy but not doughy). And as I mentioned before, they sprinkle that fine powdery cheese around the perimeter of the pizza. One other thing they do is include a couple packets of honey. I'm assuming it's for dipping the crusts in. This pizza seriously kicks ass.

Edison's pizza is for real. The music is good (indy rock). The outdoor patio area is cool. Edison's Pizza Kitchen/Pub should definitely be on the summer list of places to try.

Looking for more stuff in Cleveland? Check this link for our Cleveland page.

Edison's Pub
2373 Professor Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 522-0006

Edison's Pub on Urbanspoon

Edison's Pizza Kitchen
2365 Professor Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 298-4484

Edison's Pizza Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


When we were in Hawai'i last January I was in ramen-ya heaven (Goma-tei, Tenkaippin in Honolulu, Sam Sato's and Noodle Star in Maui, all of which I have failed to complete posts on). With the heavy Japanese presence on Oahu, Honolulu in particular is a an izakaya hot bed.

When I go to New York, ramen is not really a huge priority for me. New York City is not Honolulu. This tiny Hawaiian island does Pacific Rim food exceptionally well - there's really not much reason to eat a whole lot of anything else. But New York? Wow. You can pretty much point at most any cuisine and there will be at least two or three practitioners of that particular genre who are held in high esteem around the world. Until the last few years the lowly ramen has languished in relative obscurity among the city's endless bounty of restaurants.

That is, until Japanese powerhouse Ippudo NY decided to open its only US outpost in this dining Mecca.

The New York leg of our East Coast trip was purposely left with loose dining plans simply because we knew that we were going to be eating an insane amount of food in Philadelphia.

The Bar/Waiting Area

While walking down through the the East Village, I noticed a lunchtime crowd of predominantly Asian people gathered around a front entrance passing time with their cell phones. With a crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk on a Friday afternoon at two o'clock, this had to be something good. Had it not been for the people outside, I would have walked right past it. With scaffolding obscuring the view of the packed bar area inside, there really isn't anything that lets you know that you have happened upon anything of any note. These people were waiting to get into Ippudo. A quick search on my phone reminded me that I had read about them once (along with nine million other "I have to try this place the next time I go to _____" restaurants.

Regional Japanese Ramen Bowls behind the bar

Since Regina and I had structured things so that we were flexible for dinner, Ippudo's "no reservations" policy was going to be just the ticket for the two of us. When we called at about 7pm the hostess said that the wait was about an hour. She said they'd take our name, quote us a time once we arrived, and even text when our table was up. By the time we got to the restaurant the wait had grown to an hour-and-a-half. Since we weren't really interested in eating dessert there, we decided to put our name down and go chase down some after dinner treats to take back to the hotel.

We walked down to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for pistachio cupcakes, Bisous Ciao for a sampling of macarons, and a few more macarons from The Dessert Truck Works for the infamous NYC Mini-Macaron Crawl. Okay, so maybe you're not into chasing down dessert, but there is no shortage of bars or coffee shops to pop into while you wait for your table to open up.

With desserts in hand, our table was ready. The music is fairly loud, but not so much that you can't hear your server or the people who are sitting next to you. We sat at a two sided bar that is located near the back of the restaurant. The kitchen is an L-shaped affair with low counters that offer a glimpse into what's being made and sort of how they do it.

With the Big Apple BBQ Block Party coming up the next day (and a bag full of desserts), we didn't want to order too much food and have to throw any away. I immediately zeroed in on the Akamaru Modern ($15)- The original "Tonkotsu" noodle soup (a pork based ramen) topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, kikurage, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. (Nitamago - Seasoned salt boiled egg $2, Kakuni - Braised pork belly $4 are suggested add-ons. Both of which I exercised my option on.)

Kamo Roast & Nasu Nibitashi

Regina wanted a little of my ramen along with an order of the Kamo Roast & Nasu Nibitashi ($12) - Japanese style simmered roasted duck and eggplant in a chilled dashi broth.

Let me start by saying that the broth in the ramen is one of the most luxurious bits of liquid richness that has ever touched my tongue. In all sincerity, I thought the broth at Goma-tei was about as good as it gets - no it gets better. Screw the egg, the pork belly, and all the other stuff - the broth is so complex, yet harmoniously satisfying, you don't even need the egg or the pork belly (I didn't say I didn't want them - that you didn't need them). Adding the vermicelli-like noodles, a touch of spice, and all of the other stuff've just got to try it for yourself. Make sure to order Kae-dama (extra noodles) for $2. For this nominal amount the waitstaff drops an extra serving of the noodles in your bowl to use with any remaining broth.

Regina's Kamo Roast & Nasu Nibitashi was a very clean and simple dish that laid out the bare elements one on top of the other. Regina is very sensitive to spice and slide off the little dab of whatever was on top. I love spice so she just added it to the pieces I ate.

The food here is well crafted. I'd even go so far to say that it is something you have to see (or taste) to believe. As with many things (barbecue, pizza, etc.) I'm sure there are those that would downplay the merits of Ippudo. Regardless of whether you like it as much as I did, I think it's safe to say that you could do far worse and at the very least a must visit at least once.

The interior design is very sleek. The servers are very patient and friendly. The food is very memorable. In terms of ramen-ya in the US, Ippudo may just be ramen heaven.

Looking for more stuff in New York City? Check this link for our NYC Page.

65 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shrimp Salad Rolls with Tarragon & Chives

I don't know anyone who enjoys buying those $2.50 packages of herbs in the winter time. Not only does it seem to be a crime to pay that much for something that you most likely only need about a quarter of, but it seems that the stuff just lacks any kind of flavor. There' s a sense that your purchasing "herbs in spirit", but not necessarily for flavor.

Needless to say, anytime I can go out to the back yard and pick herbs from my half-assed accidental herb garden or our MGG (Mobile Ghetto Garden more on that at a later date) which consists of 5 gallon buckets that are able to move in and out of full sun with the agility of a master ninja, I feel as though I am somehow stealing. Picking herbs makes me feel like I've gamed the system. You give the lady at the farmers market $3.50 for a plant and just for putting the thing in the ground you get a herbs with at least a street value (or supermarket value) of something in the vicinity of $50.

This a fresh little recipe that takes advantage of the limited palette of herbs in our sun challenged yard. We're flush with chives and tarragon, so I guess in a way I was able to save myself $5 in herbs on this one dish alone.

Shrimp Salad Rolls with Tarragon & Chives

You can use a roll or hot dog bun, but we feel the need to rock the New England-style split top hot dog buns with the flat sides like they use out east on lobster rolls. Butter up the sides. Quickly crisp them on a skillet and toss together shrimp salad. This is about as easy as it gets folks. Summer in a bun.

Here's the link to the Fine Cooking Recipe. To make shrimp rolls just substitute 2# of shrimp du jour for the 1.5# of cooked lobster meat. Would I prefer lobster meat? Sure, but for the money wild caught American shrimp works fine, too.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NEO Underdogs: La Mexicana Grocery & Señor's Tacos

It's been a couple of weeks since I divulged a NEO underdog, so today I'm digging really deep and pulling out one of my most under of underdogs - La Mexicana Grocery & Señor's Tacos, in Painesville. Since I know most of you aren't going to venture this far east, admittedly it is a drive even for a lot of East Siders, I'm putting it out there for the truly adventurous souls. I say adventurous because even my wife isn't that high on this place - it's a little to Mexican for her.

Señor's Tacos is actually in the front right corner of the La Mexicana Grocery. With a small counter space and a couple of tables this isn't your typical chip and salsa Mexican. If you want chips and salsa you'll have to buy them inside the grocery store. The staff of two speaks spotty English at best, but somehow manage to piece together your order. Make no mistake, the majority of the customers here are Mexican.

That's it folks! That's the dining area. They ARE underdogs.

The few comments I can find on the internets imply that this is authentic Mexican. I'm not going to try and mislead anyone hear and make that claim. The last time I checked, mozzarella is not a traditionally used cheese in Mexico, but here they put it on their tacos. While this might sound weird, it tastes really good because the cheese browns on the flat top and then they slap the melty, crispy goodness on the rest of the soft taco. My favorite is the mozz on chirozo.

Chirozo Taco

My suggestion would be to get a taco or the daily special they offer. The special could be anything from a pork chop to a Mexican stew. While there is an element of the unknown, this is definitely where you're going to find something authentic. I got this sense when I tried to get them to translate what exactly it was, they had a hard time explaining its contents. Usually ranging from $6-$8, there really isn't a fear of losing a lot money on something you don't end up liking.

A Tall Mexican Coca Cola

Let's be real, the Mexican options in Cleveland are pretty limited. I can count on one hand the places I think really do a good job. Señor's Tacos is pretty cool. (Plus they have tall Mexican Coca Colas for less than $2.) I'm not trying to pretend that it's a fancy restaurant. Hell, it's not even a stereotypical Mexican sit-down kind of place. If you come for dinner you're probably going to be disappointed. When you consider it's location it's a long way to drive for a meal that is going to last about twenty minutes. I would suggest stopping out here for lunch. Of course the hard part is finding a reason to come all the way out to Painesville.

La Mexicana Grocery & Señor's Tacos
170 E Washington Street
Painesville, OH 44077

(440) 358-1164

La Mexicana Grocery & Señor's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hill Country Chicken

I was on the ass end of lunchtime and just wanted something not quite light but not heavy either. Since I knew Regina was making a beeline Waverly Place for the über delish falafel paradise known as Taïm, I knew lunch was going to have to be something that Ms. "I'm allergic to chicken" wasn't able to eat.

*A side note here: Waverly Place is also the home to Mad Men's Don Draper. I am extremely bummed that Don, Roger, Peggy, Lane, and associates will not be with us this summer. The show's premiere typically fell on my birthday, but alas, this year Netflix will be the best I can do. Here's an interesting story about locating Don's address from one of the episodes.

The Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore-esque Interior

I decided on Hill Country Chicken. Since I was going to be in the area the following day for the Big Apple BBQ Block Party, I knew HCC wasn't going to be in the plans.

When you walk in the first thing you notice is the decor. I don't know who did the interior design of this place, but it had a brilliant late 60's early 70's country diner flavor that is superbly put together. With creamy yellow, bright red, and faded blues, the space really sets up the style of its food.

Hill Country Chicken obviously sells chicken along with a host of homey sides, milkshakes, and a plethora of pies. I think the most common gripe I seemed to hear when people walked in was their prices. These guys aren't cheap - if you want to go to KFC it's going to be cheaper - I don't think the people at HCC will argue with that. I think it should be noted that it's not exactly located in a podunk town where you're likely to find podunk prices (even if the interior suggests otherwise). It's Manhattan and I'm sure they're not getting free rent here.

Since it was a late lunch and I knew I was heading to Uppido dinner, I just ordered the three piece chicken tenders ($7.50) and a small side of broccoli salad ($2.50). The chicken's good. Is it the best I've ever had? No, I can't say that it is, but I do think it's good. Nothing in here is cheap, but when you consider the location and the quality of the product, I think the price is in the ballpark.

Will I go back? I doubt it. With sooooo many places to go, here in the city, decent or sometimes even good isn't enough to bring me back. Now my wife and Taïm? That's a different story.

Looking for more stuff in New York City? Check this link for our NYC Page.

Hill Country Chicken
1123 Broadway
New York, NY 10010
(212) 257-6446

Hill Country Chicken on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Peppered Chicken Wing with Soy Blackberry Glazed Sandwich

I bought a couple packs of the Tea Hills Farms chicken wings last week at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square. I prefer these mainly because they're pretty small and already cut into drumettes, mid-point wings, with points removed.

I've had some onion rolls from Zingerman's Bakehouse that have been sitting in the freezer forever. Remarkably enough, once thawed these things have held up really, really well. With some melted butter and a spell in the skillet, it's go time with a nice crisp.

I had bought the wings with the intention of smoking them, but decided I wanted to make a sandwich out of them. The logical question would be, "Why?"

I'm a sucker for skin. I love pork cracklins, chicharrones, turkey skin, chicken skin - it doesn't really matter. I like the way it tastes. I like the way it sounds between my teeth. I think South Carolina is still trying to recover from all the cracklins I consumed last April. However, a wing roasted in the oven is much different than one smoked in a cooker. When smoked, the skin tends to dry out a little bit and takes on a little more chew than I like. In an oven it seems to crisp up really nice. When you pull them out you can see that fat bubbling under the translucent skin.

The Soy Blackberry Glaze Chicken Wing Sandwich

Add the vast outer surface area of a wing (as compared to the skin:meat ratio of say a chicken leg or breast, and you have the beginnings of a great sandwich. Toss that with the Blackberry Soy Glaze and you've got fun on a bun. The small shreds of wing meat are a lot like a pulled chicken sandwich only there's copious amounts of skin deliciousness on board.

I took the recipe from The Big Bob Gibson's BBQ cookbook and instead of using the smoker - cooked them in the oven. Once the chicken has cooked and cooled down a little bit, I picked the meat off the bone and tossed it with the glaze (which is also in this post). Butter up you favorite bun (in my case a New Yorker poppy seed roll with a pocket of slow cooked onions inside from Zingerman's Bakehouse, and toast it on a griddle. Put chicken to bread. Grab an ice cold beer. You're good to go.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake (again)

I had a project last year in Boston that didn't afford me nearly enough time to sufficiently survey the city's culinary offerings. The problem with visiting most bakeries, is that by the time I finish work for the day, they are either closed or pretty much gutted of their wares. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in pizza joints and bars. One place I really wanted to get to, but never had the time was Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery. Due to the crammed together schedule I was never able to free up the time. (One place that I was able to get to was L.A. Burdick in Cambridge. Open into the evening, this little cafe serves up fantastic baked goods, chocolates, and coffee drinks. I spent a mint bringing home macarons for Regina.)

So we find ourselves coming up against the back end of strawberry season here in NE Ohio. The highly anticipated sour cherries are going to be making their way down from Michigan here in the next week and a half, so Regina and I are doing everything we can to squeeze out the last of the season's strawberry crop. Six months from now we'll be wishing we froze more than we ate.

The traditional biscuit type shortcake is what everyone really thinks of when they think of this popular American dessert. In a previous post I showed you something a little more sophisticated and decadent. This time I wanted to try something a little more familiar, so Regina suggested the Strawberry Shortcake with Balsamic Strawberries recipe from Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook.

The first time I had ever had balsamic vinegar and strawberries was during our visit to Jean Georges in New York. At the time I though it was a seemingly "out there" combination. Now, years later, I think you find it - well - in a lot of places. To quote Forrest Gump, "they go together like peas and carrots."

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

The biscuit is a pretty straightforward shortcake recipe. There really isn't anything that jumps out as being unique. I opted to used a very fine baker's sugar (which we love, and tote back from the West Coast whenever we're out there), on the top and perhaps that was a mistake. The granules were entirely too small and dissolved into the egg wash in a matter of ten seconds. I think next time I might try just regular sugar (or maybe even turbinado) so you get that texture of the granules included with the whipped cream and strawberries.

The strawberries are a basically combined with balsamic vinegar (we used a high quality 30 year syrup-like balsamic that we dispense sparingly), sugar, and lemon zest. The recipe suggest combining all of this 30 minutes before hand. We found that the whole thing tasted better when they spent an overnight in the fridge.

Playing off that zing of the lemon (after the photo was taken) we paired it with some very tart lemon yogurt from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. [Great idea, BTW]

Here is a link to the recipe that comes from the book. The Flour cookbook, by the way, is an abundance of very well written recipes that don't require a tremendous amount of skill or technical prowess. I think it would make a very good gift for just starting to cook. That's not to say they're plain run-of-the-mill desserts, just not something that requires a million and one different pieces of kitchen equipment or the skills of François Payard.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Mini NYC Macaron Crawl

I was faced with a tough task. How many macarons could I consume and critique in a roughly 48 hour period in the city of New York? Knowing that I had other delicacies on my radar, such as multiple trips to Taim for falafel [easily the best I've ever had], I knew that I had to be strategic in my mac eating approach. Luckily, I had already hit a few spots like Ceci Cela, La Maison du Macaron (aka Madeleine Pattiserie), and Kee’s Chocolates on past trips, so I was in a sense, starting out ahead of the curve. Below are the highlights of my mission: there were some definite favorites and one spot so good that it deserved a repeat visit.


Dessert Truck Works
6 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002

(212) 228-0701

Dessert Truck Works on Urbanspoon

Cost: $2.00 each; on the larger size


Salted Caramel, Praline, S’mores (with a marshmallow on top and tucked inside) and the Banana flavored, banana shaped macarons. So cute, you can’t help but like them. Next time, I’m going to do some better advance planning and take one of the popular hands-on macaron classes they offer right in the store.


Mille-feuile Bakery and Cafe
552 Laguardia Pl
New York, NY 10012
(212) 533-4698

Mille-feuile Bakery and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cost: $1.90 each; generously sized – a steal

I found this on a total lark...cutting through the streets from our hotel to the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party in Madison Square Park. I duly noted the macs in the window and did some internet research upon return to my hotel. Initially, I was torn between this spot and François Payard, but after reading this article and learning that this bakery was being run by a pastry chef that trained under macaron extraordinaire, Pierre Hermé, I knew I had to try it.

Edit: Olivier sent this very interesting clarification:

Many thanks for this post ! I very glad you appreciated our best of breed Paris macarons. I wanted to add a comment regarding my work at Pierre Hermé shop.

It's very ironic because you don't learn to make macarons in his shop but all others desserts ... actually P. Hermé has his own macaron factory in East of France where they are made mostly by machines then shipped to all Europe. If you want to make P. Hermé macaron style, which I believe his one of the best, then you have to figure this out by yourself. That was for me a real challenge for a while .... !

Many thanks again and I hope to see you soon at the shop and taste new flavors in a week ("caramel beurre salé" would be the next).


Everything. I’ve never eaten a macaron from France, but I can only imagine that they must taste like these. Light, but still dense…not too sweet and the perfect amount of filling. The first bite was almost like biting into a cloud…they were like no other mac I’ve had before. Hubby and I were blown away. They were so good that we each secretly went back the next day and hoarded some for ourselves. Flavors we loved: Passion Fruit, Chocolate, Espresso, Coconut, Pistachio and a Triple Vanilla that tastes just like vanilla ice cream in a cake cone. While in the shop we learned that they were recently featured in the New York Times (and rightfully so). I hope and pray that they will someday offer macaron classes…I’d jump at the chance to learn from this master.

Bonus: When you order a coffee here, they serve it with a little piece of a brownie on top of the “to go” lid. Coffee + Brownie bite = brilliant!

*How new is it? We had to add it to Urbanspoon!

Sorry guys, Dineomite here. I know this is my wife's post but I don't think she's hyped this enough. If you are in the city and you enjoy good desserts YOU...MUST...GO...HERE. Far and away the closest thing I have seen to macaron perfection. Olivier Dessyn is the real deal and if you've passed up Mille-feuile...well...the only person you've screwed is yourself. The prices here are enough to make your jaw drop when you consider the level of execution. I know the next time I come here, there will be a line out the door. This is an absolute gem of bakery not to be missed. Go ahead, fight the crowds at Baltazar. I'll be at Mille-feuile. Now back to your regular programming......


Bosie Tea Parlor

10 Morton Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 352-9900

Bosie Tea Parlor on Urbanspoon

Cost: $2 each, relatively small for the price

Tucked off of Bleecker Street in the West Village, this is a tea shop that happens to make macarons. I’m not much of a tea drinker, no naturally I was not really drawn to their tea flavored fillings, such as Darjeerling. I did however gravitate to the old standard, Pistachio, Lemon and Peanut Butter and Jelly. Unfortunately, the Lemon was a bit stale. However, the Peanut Butter and Jelly was awesome…peanut butter butter cream with a bit of jelly tucked inside. Genius.


Bisous Ciao
101 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 260-3463

Bisous Ciao on Urbanspoon

This was the top place on my list after reading so many positive posts. It looks sleek, like a mini version of Paulette in San Francisco. The person helping me accidentally cracked one of the macs while picking it up, so I got it for free: Bonus! Surprisingly, the Pistachio had an off flavor, not at all what I’m used to. However, the Mango Coconut, Lemon, Espresso and Dark Chocolate made up for it.

Looking for more stuff in New York City? Check this link for our NYC Google Map.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sherry Yard's Strawberry Shortcake sans Star Anise Sauce

I don't know about some of the other business travelers out there, but the Sunday before going out-of-town on Monday absolutely sucks. It usually starts with waking up and thinking about the fact that your sorry ass is going to have to pack at some point in the day. If you're a particularly sorry, sorry ass, you still have to wash the clothes that are going in the suitcase.

Sundays before a trip always seem to be a sort of a weird day where you're thinking about what time you have to wake up. What time the you have to leave the house. (My math wasn't so good one night and I woke up and hour-and-a-half before my flight was to leave. Shaker Heights. Hopkins Airport. Twenty minutes. Amazing Race. Rapido!, Andiamo!, ¡Vámonos! Made the flight. True story.)

Noooooo!!! Not the suitcase!!!

My answer is to all of this is to cook on Sundays. The pace and anticipation of making a delicious dinner seem to allow me to do a little laundry here and pack a few things there. By the end of the night I've have had a good dinner with my wife and most everything ends up being packed. If I'm really lucky, I've already slipped the suitcase past the dogs and loaded it in the car. [My pug Ladybug knows what the suitcase means and will not let me out of her sight once she sees it.]

With the strawberries finally ripened after the Sprwinter we had here in Cleveland, I had to make a good strawberry shortcake. A classic biscuit style shortcake is easy enough to do, but I really wanted to make something that was a little fancier than that. While not the most engrossing recipe, it was enough to divert my attention from going out of town - biscuits would have been done in no time and defeated the purpose of the exercise.

Hull thy strawberries. We shan't let them go to waste.

If you've not seen this book and love dessert, then you need to pick up Sherri Yard's Dessert by the Yard. (Side note: Sherry will be at the star studded Five Star Sensation event next Saturday.) It's been out long enough that you can find it in used bookstores or sites like Alibris, for a pretty good price. While I don't see myself making some of the things in this book, there are a lot of fantastic recipes and interesting techniques in it.

I was drawn to her Strawberry Shortcake with Star Anise Sauce [click for recipe],because it looked like something that would hold up for more than one night. The "whipped cream" ends up being very thick and rich due to the crème fraîche and heavy whipping cream. Combined with a normal biscuit-like shortcake this would be an absolute chore to eat, but the extraordinarily light, yet firm, "shortcake" with white chocolate incorporated into it, creates the perfect counterpoint to the whipped cream. (No à la mode necessary.)

Strawberry Shortcake sans Star Anise Sauce
(shown: just one sixth of the recipe)

I didn't make the anise sauce because Regina's allergic to oranges. I'd actually encourage you to make the sauce just because it sounds like such an interesting marriage with the shortcake. Also, don't you think Sherry would've wanted it that way?

The recipe actually halves very well - I did it, and assure you that it's easily enough for six people. The picture shows what 1/3 of the halved recipe makes. When spreading the strawberries, don't be stingy or you'll have bunch leftover at the end.

I don't know how many more weeks we have left of strawberries here in Ohio, but I know they're numbered. Give this recipe a try before they disappear.

Looking for other desserts? Check out our Food page here with a complete listing of our past creations. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Underdogs: Conte's Italian Cafe

A while back, a friend from high school asked me if I had ever eaten at Conte's Italian Cafe. She told me that it was just a small family run place that served up great food at a great price. Normally I kind of take this sort of thing with a grain of salt, but I think Maggie knows a thing or two about food, so I figured I had to give it a go.

Housed in a small strip mall near the intersection of Sheldon and Smith Rds. in Brookpark, sits Conte's Italian Cafe. The outside of the building does nothing to persuade you to come inside, for all you know this just another run-of-the-mill red sauce joint complete with able bodied deep fry technicians at the ready.

As you walk inside the first thing you notice are Italian tchotchkes that are scattered about the small restaurant. I warn you, do not walk out. Sure there a numerous pictures of the Azzuri, laminated place mats with maps of Italy on them, and crucifixes abound - all hallmarks of a stereotypical Italian restaurant. The only thing missing was a oil painted mural of the Tuscan countryside.

Then you hear Mama in the kitchenbarking orders in her native tongue and you immediately ask, "Where do I sit?"

The bread - I don't know if they actually make the dough themselves - is crusty and hot. The salads, which are included with your entree, are iceberg (not my favorite) and come dressed with a vinaigrette.

The Kitchen

But frankly, I'm not here for bread and salad. No, it's the entrees they rock hard and steady here at Conte's. From what I can see the pasta is made to order. (They had one of the sectioned off pots with the individual compartments for the pasta. Is it homemade? I don't know. I'll ask the next time I go. If there's a fryer here, it doesn't get used much.

The Margherita

We started with a Margherita Pizza with fresh mozzarella. It's clearly not Lucali, but the dough had a good flavor and the pie itself had a nice balance of flavors. I don't know exactly what to attribute it to, but the cheese had an orange tinge to it. I liked it, and at $7 who am I to bitch about its color?

I ordered the Pollo Dello Chef which consisted of chicken stuffed with spinach and mascarpone cheese in a brandy wine sauce, with penne pasta. This a very large serving of food. Unless you are a big eater I just don't see how you can finish the whole thing, due to its size and richness. I would recommend splitting this with someone since it isn't a good candidate for reheating. If you go it alone make sure you wear pants with an elastic waste band. Although I thought they had a heavy hand with the sauce, it was a fantastic dish.

I'm not going to pretend like this is a fancy restaurant - it's not. It is however, a place that you can bring children, people who value price over quality (like my dad), people you value quality over price (like my wife), and pretty much anyone in between. What they charge here - especially for lunch - is completely redic. I've not had the sandwiches, but if they're served on that bread they gave us for dinner you can sign me up. One other side note, my wife is a bit of an eggplant snob and said the thinly sliced stuff they're serving here is up is solid.

Conte's is an underdog if ever there was one. The building's not fancy. The decor is nothing special. The plating isn't very good. But the food is an excellent value. I posted the menu on Urbanspoon. [see link below]

Conte's Italian Cafe
15266 Sheldon Rd
Brook Park, OH 44142

(216) 898-0281

Conte on Urbanspoon