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Kellogg’s NYC in Times Square
Sep 26th, 2016 by donuts4dinner

I try to avoid carbs and sugar in my day-to-day life, so I never let myself have cereal for breakfast. I can’t tell you the last time I ate it, but I’m guessing it was in college, and it was probably something with “fiber” in the name so I could feel like an adult. But I secretly love cereal and was delighted to learn that Kellogg’s NYC opened in Times Square and that I’d need to eat a huge bowl of the stuff in the interest of reviewing it. The sacrifices I make, you know.

Click here to read more ≫

Jeni’s Ice Cream in NYC
Jul 3rd, 2014 by donuts4dinner

If you’re from Columbus, Ohio, like I am, there are three things you’re proud of: the concrete corn field, The Black Keys, and Jeni’s ice cream. Maybe Marilyn Manson, too. But definitely the other three.

I usually have some shame when it comes to my carb intake, but I was in Ohio last week visiting my family and managed to eat Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams three times. I actually visited four of the locations with different friends but didn’t eat at the Bexley one because I’d literally just come from the Grandview one. This is how pervasive Jeni’s is in Columbus. When I’m there, it feels like I have to fatten myself up for the lonely Jeni’s-less winter that is NYC. Sure, there’s Jeni’s in the freezer at my neighborhood grocery store, Brooklyn Fare, but once you’ve had it fresh from the scoop, no old pint will do.

Luckily, a Jeni’s popup just opened up in NYC’s Gotham West Market yesterday and will be here until September. In Ohio, there are about twenty flavors to choose from, all so distinct and distinctly interesting, with gravels and sauces and all the accoutrements. Here in NYC, there are just seven flavors, but boy, are they doozies. I get Salty Caramel ice cream almost every visit in Ohio, and I’ve been dying to try the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. It doesn’t seem like any of the toppings are available here, though, so you’ll need to head to Ohio to get the complete Jeni’s experience. Still, Gotham West Market is going to be seeing a lot of me this summer.

To whet your appetite, here are two of the Jeni’s sundaes I had while in Ohio last week:

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Wildberry Lavender, Salty Caramel, and Brambleberry Crisp ice creams, with Salty Graham gravel and a waffle wedge. Up until this visit, I’d never gotten a gravel. The ice creams are so flavorful that I thought adding anything extra would detract from them, but a friend convinced me that the gravel is as important as the base at Jeni’s. I still think the ice creams are perfect on their own, but I absolutely loved the crunch and the added savoryness of the graham cracker/butter mixture that is the Salty Graham gravel. I usually don’t even like crunch in my ice cream, but I loved the way this crunch broke apart in my mouth and melted.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

The same friend, upon hearing that I’d just gotten the gravel, informed me that the cherries at Jeni’s are the best cherries. Another friend informed me that no, it’s the whipped cream that’s so good. So on my next visit, the next day, I got the whole shebang. This was Bangkok Peanut, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean ice creams with Salty Graham gravel, Salty Caramel sauce, whipped cream, a cherry, and a waffle wedge. I really wanted to try the Donut gravel but just couldn’t miss out on having the Salty Graham again. All of the toppings were great additions that somehow didn’t tame the flavors of the individual ice creams, but the cherry was the star. It was dark and tangy, familiar and yet also unlike any cherry I’ve ever had. So rich I would’ve been sick after two of them.

I don’t know what it is about Jeni’s ice creams. Reading one of her recipes, I’m always slightly weirded out by the cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese in her bases. But if that’s what it takes to make ice cream so creamy and memorable you come back for it three times in the span of four days, I’m not going to argue. Visit Jeni’s @ Gotham West Market for more information and to see all the flavors being offered in NYC!

Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 (map)

Big Daddy’s Still Makes Me Feel Like a Kid/Alcoholic Again
Feb 13th, 2014 by donuts4dinner

I’ve written about Big Daddy’s, a diner with a focus on absolutely delicious/disgustingly fatty throwback foods, before, but I just found some photos in my archive and need to show them to you in case you need a reminder of how amazing/awful/amazing this place is. I understand entirely that this is the sort of food meant for children and drunk people. And I’m both of those at heart.

Big Daddy's NYC
Bow Wow Wow

Breakfast on a waffle: buttered waffles, scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, American cheese, hash browns. A completely nutritional dinner.

Big Daddy's NYC
Real “Mac” Coy

A burger, covered in mac & cheese and crispy bacon, served with sweet potato (excuse me, sweet potater) tots, of course.

Big Daddy's NYC
Cotton Candy Circus Shake

Cotton candy topped with cotton candy.

Big Daddy's NYC

All served in a space that’ll make you think of ’50s soda fountains, ’60s hippies, and ’80s Saturday morning cartoons.

Big Daddy’s
239 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003 (map)

The Swingle from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
Sep 17th, 2013 by donuts4dinner

Red Hook is a neighborhood on the southwest coast of Brooklyn that’s accessible by cruise ship and nothing else. Okay, there’s one bus that goes there. And you could take the IKEA ferry if you were desperate. But for the most part, it’s meant for people who own cars, which excludes me, because I basically live in NYC just so I don’t have to ever drive.

But one weekend, my landlord/roommate/former co-worker/friend Jack had his parents’ car, so I did what any responsible food blogger would do and asked him to drive us to Red Hook to eat chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, which I learned about from my good friends at We Heart New York.

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies NYC

Hurricane Sandy shut down the original Steve’s location, but random key-lime-pie-associated signs still hang around the area and will confuse you as you try to make your way to the end of Van Dyke street to the new Steve’s bakery, which is basically a garage with a cash register. Ask the nice lady behind the counter for a Swingle and then take it outside to enjoy on one of Steve’s candy-colored picnic tables. And then continue enjoying it as you walk around the corner of the building to Valentino Park, where you’ll have sunset views of the Statue of Liberty.

Red Hook NYC

Red Hook NYC

I say “continue enjoying it”, because this thing is RICH and will take you an hour to eat if you’re a pansy like me. Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies is serious about its dedication to using freshly-squeezed key limes, and you can taste it in the lip-puckering Swingle filling. Of course the homemade graham cracker crust and the dark Belgian chocolate balance out the citrus, but balance or no, your belly is still being filled with butter and sweetened, condensed milk with every bite, and you can feel it. I mean that in the best way, obviously. Eating this little tart on a stick is like sticking the best parts of summer into your face.

Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies NYC

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
185 Van Dyke Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231 (map)

Ben & Jerry’s Cannoli Ice Cream
Dec 19th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

When it comes to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it’s all about two flavors for me: Americone Dream and What a Cluster. I’ll dabble in Phish Food and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and I was into Magic Brownies (despite the Dave Matthews Band association) because it tasted like my hometown favourite, Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip. But my local Ben & Jerry’s spot was running low on the good stuff and running high on Late Night Snack and the Greek yogurt flavors the other night, so my boyfriend convinced me to try the limited edition Cannoli.

Ben & Jerry's Cannoli Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Cannoli Ice Cream

This picture is about as exciting as the ice cream itself was. The mascarpone base was a cross between vanilla bean and cake batter ice cream flavors that I actually wouldn’t mind tasting in more vanilla-based pints, especially with its end notes of butterscotch. The pastry hunks were very crunchy, and the chocolate they were dipped in had an alcoholic taste with a hint of cherry. Not bad, if a bit overpowering.

The disappointment was in the mascarpone swirl, which was only evident by a fleeting hint of graininess; we couldn’t detect a flavor difference between the base and the swirl. Either the swirl needed to be more Amazonian so the texture could make up for the lack of flavor excitement, or it could have been the traditional ricotta of a cannoli, or even better would have been something completely different, like the chocolate chips you see on a lot of Brooklyn cannolis.

I liked the overall effect of a slightly cheesy, elevated cake batter. I’ll just know to bring my own Nutella and M&Ms to the ice cream party next time.

Dylan’s Candy Bar is the Best Candy Store in NYC, and I Wish Your Kids Weren’t Allowed Inside
Oct 8th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

Even if you’ve never visited NYC, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Dylan’s Candy Bar. It’s been featured on a couple of episodes of “Project Runway”, for one, and your mom friends have no doubt chattered away at you during soccer practice about how you just have to ride the ferris wheel at Toys”R”Us and then go to Dylan’s and let the kids fill up a bag with gummy brains, jujubes, and clodhoppers for a mere $12.99 a pound.

Going to Dylan’s is, in a word, hellish. The store is packed–both with candy and with kids–at all times, and the crowd is backed up to the door and blocking the stairs and singing along to the candy-themed music at the top of their lungs. But it’s also, in a word, amaaaaazing. Picture three floors, packed with the newest candy and also the impossible-to-find stuff from your parents’ childhoods. There’s a cafe serving cakes and milkshakes upstairs, a corral of bulk candy that takes up most of the main floor, and a bottom floor filled not only with packaged candy and homemade chocolates and fudge but also candy-related pillows, pajamas, rain boots, and more.

There are giant gummy bears and Swedish fish behind the cash registers, humongous lollipops sticking out from everywhere, and transparent staircases embedded with candy spelling out cheesy sayings. For someone who requested that her boyfriend recreate the candy room from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory for her for her last birthday, it’s pretty much my idea of heaven.

Dylan's Candy Bar Interior

And really, the $12.99 per pound for bulk candy isn’t so bad. That’s basically what all candy stores in NYC charge, except they label their bins $3.99/¼ pound so you think you’re getting a deal. Dylan’s just says, “Yeah, our candy costs $12.99 a pound. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?” And the answer is “nothing”, because not only does Dylan’s have the most candy, it also has the best candy. Never have I ever had fresher circus peanuts than at Dylan’s.

On our visit this weekend, my boyfriend and I picked up a couple of bags of our bulk favourites for Halloween movie season (and then immediately devoured all of it in a 24-hour period) and these:

Dylan's Candy Bar S'mores Rice Krispies Treat

A s’mores Rice Krispies treat with graham cracker and chocolate between the layers. It was the softest, most marshmallowiest Rice Krispies treat I’ve ever had. It was also too big to fit into my mouth.

Dylan's Candy Bar Creme Brulee Candy Corn and Blueberry Cobbler Candy Corn

Creme brulee candy corn and blueberry cobbler candy corn. My boyfriend read about the blueberry candy corn just a few months ago while we were Googling the exact flavor of candy corn. It’s supposedly only available in Eastern Canada, so I immediately Facebooked every Eastern Canadian I know (one) and asked her to be on the lookout for me, secretly knowing that I’d spend the rest of my life blueberry-candy-corn-less. AND THEN I FOUND IT AT DYLAN’S.

The creme brulee tastes like vanilla frosting, and the blueberry cobbler really does taste like blueberries. The original candy corn flavor is still my favourite, but oh, the novelty.

Dylan's Candy Bar Cadbury Screme Egg

Cadbury Screme Eggs. Finally Cadbury figured out that like Peeps, there’s a market for Creme Egg ridiculousness all year long. Screme Eggs taste just like Creme Eggs but have a green yolk instead of yellow. Finding these made me feel so stupid about the chocolate Cadbury Creme Eggs I’ve been hoarding in my freezer since Easter, and my BFF and I are now anxiously awaiting the Christmas and Valentine’s Day ones.

Dylan's Candy Bar Cadbury Screme Egg

None of these specialty items seem to be available on the Dylan’s website, so please let me know if I can pick some up and ship them to you in Ohio or Louisiana or wherever. For a mere $15.99 per pound plus shipping.

Cereal Milk, Crack Pie, and More at Momofuku Milk Bar
Aug 28th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

When you’ve finished licking the fat of a whole rotisserie duck off your fingers at Momofuku Ssam Bar and your friends claim they couldn’t possibly even look at the dessert menu, the only thing to do is to say goodbye to all of them, walk one block in whatever direction they happen to not be going in, and then to quickly double back to Momofuku Milk Bar, the bakery offshoot of David Chang’s restaurant mini-empire.

The idea of Milk Bar chef Christina Tosi “living in Brooklyn, NY, with her three dogs and eating an unconscionable amount of raw cookie dough every day” like the Milk Bar website says kind of makes me want to vomit all over her cereal milk–wait, excuse me, Cereal Milk™–but you gotta figure she’s doing something right if even my friend in the backwoods of South Carolina is singing the praises of the Milk Bar cookbook.

Here’s a sampling of the offerings:

Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie
Crack Pie

Just for the record, this tastes exactly like my aunt’s famous old-fashioned cream pie (or sugar pie, as it’s known elsewhere). Which is pretty much the reason any of us show up for family functions in Ohio. And as a regular weekend crack-cocaine abuser, I can tell you with great confidence that this is absolutely nothing like crack. But I can also tell you with great confidence that it takes something bigger than mere narcotics to draw a family together. It’s not as creamy and jiggly as my aunt’s, but I love how dense and lemon-bar-like the texture of this one is.

Momofuku Milk Bar Corn Cookie
corn cookie

Everything’s better with corn. I could actually use a lot more corn flavor in this–my cookies don’t have to be super-sweet–but this is just what I want to bite into when I buy a cookie. Not some shelf-stale crunchy thing but a giant, flimsy, almost-uncooked-in-the-center butter-slab that I have to hold with both hands lest the middle simply droop right out of it.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Ice Cream
Cereal Milk™ ice cream

All the flavor of caramelized cornflakes with none of the getting-stuck-in-your-teeth. Well, until you have them top it with more cornflakes. Then it’s your fault. But if you’re going to get one thing at Milk Bar, make it this.

Momofuku Milk Bar
251 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003 (map)
(other locations)

The Dulce de Leche and Elvis Cupcakes at Crumbs
May 10th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

If you want to buy me a cupcake (hint), make it one from Crumbs Bake Shop. Yes, it’s a chain. No, it’s not as fresh-from-the-oven as Magnolia Bakery. Yes, each one contains half your daily recommended caloric intake. That’s sort of the point. When I eat a cupcake, I want it to be an event.

Or just, you know, a Saturday afternoon when I’ve already eaten half of a baguette slathered with cheese and honey, dumplings, pizza, and Cadbury Eggs. Don’t judge.

Crumbs Cupcakes NYC
the dulce de leche and Elvis cupcakes

Crumbs Cupcakes NYC

My boyfriend can’t resist caramel, so he chose the dulce de leche with chocolate cake filled with caramel cream cheese frosting, covered in caramel cream cheese frosting, and zigzagged with caramel and chocolate. It did not disappoint.

Crumbs Cupcakes NYC

I chose the Elvis for the peanut butter chips. I always get the Baba Booey for the peanut butter chips, even though I secretly prefer white cake to chocolate a million times over. So when I saw a cupcake with peanut butter chips AND white cake, it was

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

It’s soft banana cake injected with banana cream, frosted with peanut butter and banana buttercream, and rolled in peanut butter chips.

Crumbs Cupcakes NYC

Peanut. Butter. Chips.

Crumbs Bake Shop
420 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10170 (map)

This is Why You’re Fat
Feb 10th, 2012 by donuts4dinner

If there’s a good reason to be fat, this is it.

It’s a Chips Ahoy! Chewy cookie, topped with a fire-roasted marshmallow, rolled in Nerds.

My boyfriend, his friend Gary, and I concocted it in Gary’s backyard last summer while we were in California. We had already eaten four packages of Swedish cookies and a bag of marshmallows, and I guess the concern was that the sugarbetes wasn’t onsetting quickly enough.

This is Why You're Fat

I really love irresponsible eating.

Wasabi KitKat?!
Apr 18th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

Everyone knows I’m only dating my boyfriend for the Persian cotton candy his family sends us, and similarly, my friend Roy had the good sense to find a girl who’d bring back candy for him from Japan. He first shared a green tea KitKat with me, which was nice and grass-tasting and not at all weird, partly because it was so mildly-flavored that it was almost like eating white chocolate. Then, he brought in what he claimed was a wasabi KitKat.

I was pretty excited about the play between sweet and spicy, but biting into it, we didn’t notice any difference between it and the green tea bar. We decided it must just be a different wrapper. But then, literally milliseconds apart, we both sat upright with a little jolt as the wasabi hit us. And then it disappeared again, like a spark. It didn’t have quite the same satisfaction level as a regular chocolate bar, but it sure was a neat novelty.

Wasabi KitKat
photo by antontang

Other wouldn’t-last-a-day-in-the-U.S. KitKat flavors include soy sauce, yellow sweet potato, purple sweet potato, cheesecake, and annin dofu, a gelatinous almond dessert.

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