Friday, August 29, 2008

Ice Cream & Frozen Yoghurt at Blue Marble Ice Cream

There's little else like cold treats on a hot day. While there's a lot of buzz about all the new frozen yoghurt places opening up, within feet of each other on a small stretch of Court St., you should ignore all of that and head to Blue Marble, (420 Atlantic Ave., between Bond & Nevins, 718-858-1100, www.bluemarbleicecream), a lovely little spot that feels like the country, and uses all natural and organic ingredients, as well as biodegradable spoons and bowls. They serve mostly ice cream, but they do offer sorbets and a delicious plain frozen yoghurt called "Culture", made by Ronnybrook Farm. It was terrifically tart, and paired with strawberries and hot fudge sauce on top it was heaven in a bowl!

On another visit I tried the Mocha Chip on a cone. It was creamy goodness; a wonderful combination of coffee and chocolate, with lots of big chips of chocolate throughout. The cone however, was...interesting. I inquired and was told that the cones they use are organic. They definitely tasted differently, a little like cardboard, but maybe it's just a matter of getting used to the better-for-you ingredients.

My friend got two scoops of the Pistachio Almond, which was an amazing combination of flavors. So creamy, lots of pistachios, and it wasn't that crazy green color that pistachio often is either.

Blue Marble has another location Underhill Ave. in Prospect Heights. If you find yourself in the vicinity of either of these shops, I recommend you make your way there pronto, treat yourself and support this awesome business.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sushi from Koto Sushi

I tried to go to the elusive, near-impossible-to-get-into Lucali Pizza recently, and while they weren't too crowded, they were closed for vacation! I swear, I'm not meant to go there. So with a simple switching of gears, we went to Koto Sushi (see post from July for more info), and had ourselves a lovely little dinner.

We started with the Sunomono Appetizer which was an assortment of fish in a vinaigrette sauce. It was mostly octopus, which had an interesting texture; kinda chewy, but in a meaty, not rubbery way. There was also some crab, one piece of shrimp and some seaweed salad - tasty, but not great, and since there are other, more terrific appetizer options (think Ponzu sauce), I think this was the last Sunomono at Koto I'll have.

I've begun to order from the list of Special Sushi of the day. I'm not sure if this makes me a sucker, but I find that the fish I've had off of this menu has been so incredibly fresh and amazing, I'm going to keep getting it. Below is a photograph of the Sea Eel (from saltwater, vs. Unagi, which is freshwater eel), and the Aji Mackeral. Let me just say now that photographing raw fish in a dark restaurant is not the easiest task, with the result being less appetizing looking than the actual meal.

The Sea Eel was amazing. So tender and flavorful, and very different from Unagi. It actually was a little bit saltier. Our waitress made sure that we didn't put soy sauce on these pieces, as they had they own special sauce. The Aji was great too. I prefer mine with a little fresh squeezed lemon, but again, these pieces were fresh, flavorful and tender.

We also ordered two Maki rolls, the "Out of Control Roll" and a special Yellowtail Roll.

The Out of Control Roll was made of too many items (tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna, siso, avocado), each one's flavor got lost amidst the others. It was also HUGE, and therefore difficult to eat. The Yellowtail Roll was great though, with crunchy asparagus and avocado inside, seared yellowtail on top, and I would definitely get it again.

The other great thing about Koto is that they use pickled ginger that has not been dyed, and has a terrific flavor that does not overpower. 'm often found eating that when all the Maki are gone.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pupusas at the Brooklyn Flea

Ever since the Red Hook Ballfield vendors became so popular, it's nearly impossible to get food there unless you're willing to stand on line for an hour. That's why I'm thankful for the Brooklyn Flea Market ( If you get there before the lunch-time rush, you can easily satisfy your Pupusa craving with these amazing little treats.

These are the Bean & Cheese Pupusas with tangy cabbage, hot sauce and sour cream. They're SO incredible. And sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll get one where some of the cheese has bubbled out and got a little burnt, which tastes SO good. The cabbage is mouth-watering good as well.

Two Pupusas make a good-sized meal, and there are other items like ice cream and baked goods on hand from other food vendors, you won't go hungry at the Flea.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pancakes & Eggs at the Greenpoint Coffee House

*2/19/10 - I'm so sad!!! I can't believe they really closed this place. It's tragic, really. And not just to me, other people are just as sad.*

Mmmm, pancakes. The Greenpoint Coffee House, (195 Franklin St. at Green St., 718-349-6635), has some of the best around. Somehow they get them to have a crispy-ish exterior and a lovely, smooth and buttery inside. It's like they're lightly fried before brought to your table. Whatever they do, they're amazing.

This here is the Hungry Individual. It's a perfect solution to the "sweet or savory?" dilemma of Brunch. With this, you get two eggs, any style, with two pancakes, potatoes and bacon or sausage. It's also great to split with a friend since there's so much food. This time it came with blueberry pancakes.

I forgot to ask for fried eggs, and ended up getting scrambled, which always seems like a lame thing to get at a restaurant since they're so easy to make. I also realized something - while I love blueberries on their own, I don't enjoy them in things. I know it's weird, but I don't like blueberry pie, scones, muffins, and therefore...pancakes. If you like that sort of thing, then you'd love these, because they were FULL of blueberries. I mean, I ate them, but I'd much rather have their plain pancakes. The bacon here is excellent though, meaty and salty, not greasy.

To offset all of that, my friend and I also shared a bowl of Granola, Fresh Fruit and Yoghurt. This is one of my favorite combinations, and GCH makes it great with plain yoghurt and a tasty granola that is not too sweet or not sticky, but well spiced with cinnamon. The fruit is also of high quality, and they give you a substantial amount.

The Greenpoint Coffee House also has delicious coffee. I'm not sure where they get it, but it's flavorful and strong. YUM!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cuban at Cubana Cafe

What timing! Brownstoner picked the Cubana Cafe (272 Smith Street, between DeGraw & Sackett Streets, 718-858-3980) as their restaurant of the day yesterday, and I happened to have eaten there with a friend just the other night. Here's a peek at some of the dishes not mentioned in their post.

I love Tostones, crispy fried slices of Green Plantain, and the Cubana Cafe does 'em up nice. They are served with a sweet and spicy mango salsa and are plentiful on the colorful plate.

I also ordered the Chick Pea & Corn salad with greens and creamy dressing, which I had been craving and is the perfect dinner for a summer night. It's served cold and is light and delicious. I can't get enough.

My friend got the Shrimp and Avocado salad with greens which was surprisingly good. The plentiful shrimp were grilled, and there were lots of big slices of yummy ripe avocado.

We also ordered the Relleno de Papa which is mashed potato, stuffed with ground beef and fried to a cripsy finish. It was accompanied by the chick pea salad, but overall was a little disappointing. The beef was a bit mushy.

I like this place and overall think that it's a great little spot for dinner and lunch. The service can be spotty, but for the price it's a great deal.

Cubana Cafe on Urbanspoon UrbanSpoon has more reviews.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Tasty Sandwiches at Frankie's

I can't get enough of the Frankie's lunch experience. I also wanted to give my veggie-readers more to drool over. This is the Eggplant Parmigiana sandwich, made on the same Grand Daisy Bakery bread as last week's sandwich, and is overflowing with delicious, savory eggplant covered in melty fresh mozzarella cheese. How can you go wrong?

Actually, and this is my preference, but I find the tomato sauce at Frankie's a little too strong. I think it's the amount of Romano or Parmesan cheese that they must add to the sauce that pushes it over to the wrong side of the line from tasty to too much. It's not bad but when, like me, you grow up with real, homemade Italian cooking, you tend to veer towards the flavors you were reared on. I'm sure the Frankie's folks grew up with sauce that tasted like this, maybe it's regional, but I like my red sauce a little softer and rounder.

This is not going to stop me from ordering this again, because it really is remarkable. Paired with a good beer or Limonata, and it's Lunchtime Perfection.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pancakes & Eggs at The Little Purity Diner

I love breakfast. The Little Purity Diner in Park Slope (390 7th Ave. at 12th St., formerly Katina's) offers the standard diner fare in terms of breakfast, but I was happily surprised with the dishes we had there. You can also get a bottomless cup of coffee and enjoy a leisurely, relaxed pace without being rushed out, especially during the weekdays.

I ordered the Eggs Over Easy, with a side of potatoes and turkey sausage. The eggs were PERFECTLY cooked – a runny yolk to soak up with the toasted wheat bread, and the whites were solid, with no gross raw bits. The potatoes were also great, with red and green bell pepper mixed in, and browned just so. The turkey sausage was interesting. A little….dry I guess, but they tasted OK. The toast comes out already buttered, which I love, because the best time to butter toast is when it’s right out of the toaster and hasn’t had a chance to cool off. Excellent.

The Pancakes. I’ve only recently started ordering pancakes again. Too often they’re just heavy and thick and too much of the same thing. I think people are making better pancakes nowadays, or maybe I’ve just located the best pancake joints around. New Purity Diner is definitely one of those spots; the pancakes are delish. These are the Banana pancakes, loaded with slices of Banana, and a side of Turkey Bacon, which was much better than the sausages.

They don't have real maple syrup at New Purity, but you don't really expect it, right? The breakfasts are better than decent, and are such a bargain. All of this food, plus coffee and juice, was $22, with tip! Yay breakfast!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tasty Sandwiches at Frankie's

One of my favorite things to do when I'm on vacation is to go to Frankie's 457 for lunch (457 Court St., at 4th Place,, 718-403-0033). A lot has been written about Frankie's, but not so much about their lunchtime fare. First of all, you can always get a seat. Preferably, the one at the back by the window that overlooks the backyard, and has a lovely view of the F Train as it descends into the Carroll St. station. Second of all, it's gorgeous in there at lunch, with the sunlight and the quiet. But really, what you're going for is the food, and it's fantastic.

This here is the Mozzarella, Tomato and roasted Red Pepper sandwich. It also has arugula and olive oil and is just deliciousness on bread, which is great too, flaky and fresh from the Grand Daisy Bakery. Divine. It's just the right amount and everything is of such good quality, the flavors are full, and enhance each other. Pair it with a glass of wine or a cocktail and you've got yourself a nice treat in the middle of an otherwise normal weekday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Best "Macaroni & Cheese" from Paninoteca 275

7-9-09 I'm sorry to report that Panino'teca has closed. I'm totally bummed. No more amazing Mac & Cheese, no quirky-ness and I never got to try their Brunch!!!

I find myself craving the Mac & Cheese from Paninoteca 275 every once in a while (275 Smith Street,, 718-237-2728, between Degraw & Sackett). It's made with Taleggio cheese and strips of Proscuitto that make for an unusual and delightful taste experience. This is the half order, which is more than enough since the dish is so rich and heavy.

It really is an amazing dish, with browned bread crumbs on top, and so many pieces of meat. If you share it and get a salad or something, is a perfect little treat. Eating a whole order would make me sick since it's so rich.

This is the mixed greens salad with goat cheese, beets and walnuts in a balsamic vinaigrette. It's huge, with so much creamy goat cheese, lots of walnuts and big chunks of beet, it feels decadent.

Paninoteca also has a nice list of special cocktails that are creative takes on the old standards. I got the "Honey Sidecar", made with Bourbon, honey & citrus. It was delicious. And strong.

They also have Menabrea beer, an Italian brew that is so good, I wonder why Peroni is the beer of choice at Italian restaurants. Menabrea is so much better. And look at that label! Gorgeous to boot. It was so dark, it was challenging to get a picture without a lot of glare. I started feeling like an annoying person with my flash, so I only took one of the bottle that came out, but you can see what I'm saying.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hot Dogs & Beer at the Gowanus Yacht Club

I aim to eat well all the time. I aim to eat well-raised meat, locally grown foods without pesticides and hormones and non-GMO food. But sometimes...sometimes I can't, or don't and what I really want is beer and a hot dog. And if I can't get to a baseball game, I go to the Gowanus Yacht Club (323 Smith St., at President St., 718-246-1321).

It's funny to me that this place exists. It's the teeny-tiny empty lot sandwiched in between the subway entrance (Carroll St. on the F or G trains), that doubles as a Christmas Tree & Wreath selling spot in the winter. It's a fun place though, and while my tolerance for crowds, smoke and claustrophobia has dwindled in recent years, if you go at the right time, you can sit and enjoy your beer and dog in semi-peace.

There's a lot of crap beer for cheap at the GYC (PBR in a can) but if you're inclined to spend $5 or $6 on a beer, you can get something better, like Six Point, which is what I did. I also ordered the Angus Beef Hot Dog which was a little pricier than the regular option. It was exactly what I wanted - salty, smoky meat on a bun with mustard. I also got the relish and sauerkraut as toppings. My friend got the turkey dog, and we shared an order of nachos, which has melted "cheese" all over them. Again, deliciously salty, but a little guilt-inducing because of the fauxness.

GYC is a pretty fun place, and now has more options in the way of food and drink than it ever has. If you know what you're getting into, it's totally a satisfying experience.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thai Food to Go from Em Thai

There's nothing like ordering in and sitting down to a beat 'em up Chinese crime drama, I mean "Crime Story" at the end of a long day. Out came the menu book and Em Thai Kitchen was chosen for tonight's meal (278 Smith St. at Sackett St., 718-843-0505, I really like this place, and favor it above the other Thai places in the neighborhood.

These are the Curry Puffs, one of the may Appetizers listed on the menu. I've never had Curry Puffs anywhere else and they're amazing. The outside is a crisp, doughy container for the delicious curry with ground chicken, peas and potatoes. It comes with the classic Cucumber Chutney Sauce that's a perfect light accompaniment to the compact Puff.

My new favorite food of recent months is the Fish Cake. I love the chewy consistency and the spicy, peanut-y sauce adds a tangy zing. Five to an order - I ate one before taking the picture, I couldn't resist!

I'm kind of a creature of habit, and end up getting the same thing when getting Thai food (usually it's Phad Thai or Pad See Ew with Shrimp or Tofu). I decided to try something new and ordered the Pad See Ew with Moc Duck. I'm always amazed when fake meat is done well and actually tastes like the thing it's imitating. This Moc Duck was great. It definitely had the grain-y undertone to it, but had a nice texture, almost tender like real Duck Meat, and was remarkably full of flavor. I was impressed. The Pad See Ew also comes with loads of Chinese Broccoli and mushrooms, and is definitely one of my favorite dishes from Em Thai.

We also got the Pineapple Curry, which comes with a side of Jasmine Rice, and is loaded down with chunks of Pineapple, peas, carrots, zucchini and bell peppers in a coconut milk curry sauce. You can get it hot if you'd like, but I prefer it to be on the more milder side.

A most delicious meal!

Em Thai on Urbanspoon
UrbanSpoon has more reviews.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Rice & Beans and Sweet Plantains at the Habana Outpost

I love Brooklyn. Really and truly. And one of my favorite things to do is park myself at some outdoor seating to eat and drink with friends and people-watch. Habana Outpost has been around for a few years now, but it's still a great spot to go for icy drinks, yummy Cuban & Spanish food & awesome people watching (, 757 Fulton Street, at So. Portland Ave., and mere steps from both the G and C trains, 718-858-9500). It's also a completely Green restaurant, using solar panels for all their electrical needs, human-powered smoothie blenders (with a bike) and rain water is used in the bathrooms to flush the toilets. Pretty cool stuff.

I got the rice and beans, the famous grilled corn, and a side of sweet plantains. The rice and beans totally hit the spot, but were your basic yellow rice and black beans, without much else in the way of spices or flavor. The corn was great, covered in cotija cheese and grilled to crunchy perfection. The sweet plantains, which I LOVE, were delicious. They were just the right bit of sweet, and were a nice consistency, but there weren't enough of them, even at $4. I also got a Frozen Mojito which was ample and strong and the yard was packed with the It's-The-Weekend! crowd. The tables are sort of communal if you're not there with a large group, so go only if you're in the mood to talk to a stranger. It can be quite the pick-up scene there too, so be forewarned. Or tipped off if you're in the market.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wild Mushroom Risotto & Oysters at 68 - yum!

68 is a new-ish restaurant on Greenpoint Ave., west of Franklin Ave., (, 68 Greenpoint Ave., 718-389-6868), and is connected in the back to Bar/Restaurant Coco 66. The fishatarian-friendly dinner menu lists lots of seafood options, and also boasts a 2-for-1 Oyster Happy Hour every day of the week. I've only recently accepted oysters into my repertoire of food, so with the 3 or 4 varieties 68 offers, it's a good way to make your way into this area of eating if you're not gung-ho about it. I took my Mom here and she loves oysters, so they were gone before I could take a picture! What you see below is the detritus of a plate of 12.

I ordered the Escargot special, which were prepared differently than the usual garlic & butter drenching and instead were marinated in a red wine sauce. They were delicious - still garlicky, but not oily. Since I'm a huge fan of Escargot, I ate them before I remembered to take a picture, so below is the aftermath of my appetizer.

My entree were excellent as well. My initial reaction to the size of my portion of Wild Mushroom Risotto was that it was a bit small, but it was just enough. It was also delicious; well-made, excellently seasoned, with big slices of mushrooms everywhere. Everyone else seemed pretty happy with their choices, and we were a large party - 8 in total - so that's a big feat to accomplish. Since I wasn't stuffed from dinner, I ordered the Chocolate Cake for dessert. MMMMMM, so good. Rich, moist cake with a warm, mousse-y center - this has become my favorite sweet ending to a good meal.