nyculinaryfinds

Food treasures in New York City

If You’re Passionate About Peanut Butter

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Peanut butter is my “go-to” spread for a sandwich of if I want to liven up an apple or banana. I used to buy Skippy or Jif but in an effort to eat healthier, I make my own peanut butter by grinding peanuts at my local Fairway. When I heard about a little shop in Soho called Peanut Butter & Co., I had to check it out.

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Inside Peanut Butter & Co. is very comfy

Located on Sullivan Street between Bleecker and West 3rd, PB&Co. is a sandwich shop that offers “classic” peanut butter sandwiches and “gourmet” sandwiches. Among the classic ones are, of course, a straight PB&J but also a “Peanut Butter BLT” which has fresh cut bacon;  a “Peanut Butter Cup” which includes Nutella; and a “Pregnant Lady,” which is topped with pickles!  The “Gourmet” sandwiches include: “The Bees Knees” with apple butter and wheat germ; and “White Chocolate Wonderful” sandwich with white chocolate peanut butter and orange marmalade. One of the fun parts is trying and choosing your favorite flavor peanut butter. There’s white and dark chocolate, cinnamon, honey and maple syrup. You can also choose among jams and jellies and types of bread.

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

My PB&J Club with maple syrup PB on one side and cinnamon PB on the other

There are also peanut butter centric desserts like sundaes and brownies. And you can go home with a peanut butter cookbook or jars of the peanut butter flavors the shop offers.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

Things to take home from Peanut Butter & Co.

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May 21, 2013 Posted by | Food, restaurants, stores | , , | 1 Comment

You Say Potato, I Say Potato

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Single ingredient food shops have become very popular. It began with all the cupcake shops popping up throughout New York. Today you can find restaurants and stores that sell single themed items like mac ‘n cheese; peanut butter or rice pudding. Now you can add to that list, Pota•topia. Located on Sixth Avenue, near 8th Street, Pota•topia opened earlier this year and offers different kinds of potatoes (yams, Yukons, Idahos) baked, mashed or fried with vegetable, cheese and protein toppings.

yams

Yam crinkles

You can order one of Pota•topia‘s “signature meals,” like “I Think Therefore I Yam,” — sweet potato crinkles topped with Asiago and Parmesan cheeses, parsley, red onion and garlic aioli.  Or you can build your special meal, salad bar style. You pick the kind of potato you want; choose vegetable and 2 cheese toppings; add a protein like chicken, shrimp or egg; and then choose a sauce. There’s a small counter space to eat in the shop, though it seemed most people bought their potatoes as take-outs.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | 2 Comments

Bagel “Holes”

bagelsNew Yorkers are very particular about their bagels, and rarely are they happy with bagels produced by other cities. Some people like them big and doughy, like you find at Hot & Crusty. Others prefer a thinner bagel with a crusty outside, like you used to be able to get at the original H&H Bagels.

Bantam sign

But Bantam Bagels offers a completely different take on the New York bagel. Located on Bleecker Street in the West Village, Bantam sells mini bagel balls, known as “Bantams,” which look like donut holes. There are “Bantam Basics,” which are plain, sesame, or everything “bagels” filled with cream cheese or butter.

variety

Then there are 14 different specialty bagel combos, some sweet and some savory. They include : “French Toast,” which is a cinnamon nutmeg egg bagel filled with a buttery, maple syrupy cream cheese; “Cookies and Milk” which is a brown sugar walnut bagel with a sweet chocolate chip cream cheese; the Hot Pretzel bagel which is topped with sea salt crystals, filled with mustard and sharp cheddar cream cheese; and the “Bleecker Street,” a pizza dough bagel topped with a thin slice of pepperoni and filled with marinara mozzarella cream cheese.

"Box Lunch," a plain bagel topped with crushed, roasted peanuts filled with peanut butter and sweet strawberry jam

“Box Lunch,” a plain bagel topped with crushed, roasted peanuts filled with peanut butter and sweet strawberry jam

I enjoyed the “Box Lunch” bite which was the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.I only wish the ratio of filling to bagel was a bit greater.

November 19, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | | 3 Comments

Krispy Treats

treat houseDo you remember Rice Krispies Treats? Basically, they are squares of Rice Krispies held together with marshmallows and butter. Well, earlier this month a new store opened up on the Upper West Side, whose products are inspired by these very treats. Treat House on Amsterdam between 81st-82nd, sells more than a dozen different flavors of crispy rice treats. And, according to their website, “all Treats are certified Kosher Dairy; and unless specified otherwise, are  gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free.” Their flavors include, cappuccino, chocolate mint, peanut butter, and blueberry pie

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Treat House also sells home made marshmallows made from raw cane sugar, breakfast bars, pops and ice cream bars. Treat House is committed to giving back to the community so the’ve partnered with The Food Bank for New York City. For every Treat they sell, they donate 10 cents to the Food Bank and for each t-shirt sold, they donate a dollar.

As expected, the Treats are rather sweet but if you’re looking for a unique way to satisfy your sweet tooth, then visit the “House.”

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores, sweets | | 2 Comments

Doughnuts Not Donuts

There are 50 Dunkin Donuts stores within a 10 mile radius of my home. For a simple, dependable chocolate frosted donut, you can’t go wrong with one of theirs. But, if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual then you need to try the doughnuts at one of the two  Doughnut Planet stores located in Manhattan.

Doughnut Planet on Grand Street

Doughnut Planet on Grand Street

Mark Isreal started Doughnut Plant in 1994, with his grandfather’s original doughnut recipe, in the basement of a Lower East Side tenement building that was converted into a bakery. In 2000, he moved to a street level location on Grand Street.  Mr. Isreal developed his own techniques of doughnut making as well as the original idea of using fresh seasonal fruit and fresh roasted nuts in glazes. Other innovations he brings to doughnut making include:  a jelly-filled square doughnut; “cake” doughnuts, which are made without yeast; and mini doughnuts with unusual fillings and glazes like Gianduja, a doughnut with a chocolate glaze and chocolate hazelnut filling.

The mouth-watering display case

The mouth-watering display case

On a recent visit, I had a hard time choosing which doughnuts to buy. I picked a combination of cake and yeast doughnuts, and selected one I had before — chocolate blackout cake — as well as two I had never tried — peanut butter and jelly, and Valrhona chooclate. They were all delicious!

My doughnut selection

My doughnut selection

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores, sweets | , | 4 Comments

Chobani Yogurt Bar

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You can find many different kinds of frozen yogurt stores around the city. One of my favorites is 16 Handles where you can choose the flavors you want and the amount of each one. The Chobani Store in Soho, is one of the first to serve fresh yogurt with a selection of fresh ingredients. The small store, which opened last summer, is Chobani’s first retail store. And while you can get many of the products sold in the supermarket, what makes this place special are the interesting sweet and savory combinations made on the spot.

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I gravitate towards the sweet ones. On my first visit, I had pistachio and chocolate that was also flavored with honey. orange and fresh mint. On my second visit, I went with one of the “combos of the day,” which was walnut, pumpkin jam and pumpkin seeds. Next time, though, I want to try the peanut butter, jelly and grapes combination.

yogurt of the day

Walnut and pumpkin combo of the day

Each yogurt is served in a glass dish with a cloth covering for take-out. If you don’t mind sitting on a large window sill, then you can stay and eat your yogurt in the store. You receive 25 cents off your next “yogurt creation” if you return the glass jar.

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January 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores | , | 4 Comments

Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture: New Exhibit Opens at American Museum of Natural History

Varieties of potatoes that no longer exist

Did you know that cookbooks didn’t exist until the 1800’s? Most people couldn’t read, so recipes were shared by word-of-mouth. How about the fact that in the 1500s we had 12 varieties of potatoes that no longer exist? Were you aware too, that some people can taste bitterness on their tongues but others (me included) can’t?

Press a button and “smell” fennel

These are some of the things that I learned at the multi-sensory, extremely creative interactive exhibit “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture” at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit, which opened November 17th and runs through August 11, 2013, looks at global food in a variety of ways: from farm to table and from growing to eating. Using beautiful photography and video, olfactory stations, and educational displays, one learns that what you choose to eat can shape the planet. Highlights from the exhibit include:

Interactive cooking table

At the Interactive Cooking Table four people at a time can try their virtual hands at cooking four different international dishes. Video projected on the table’s surface takes visitors through the recipes in five easy interactive steps. I “made” groundnut soup from West Africa. (See below for the recipe)

Apple tasting in the Whole Foods sponsored kitchen

A working kitchen, presented with Whole Foods Market, has live programming and features daily samplings. I tasted varieties of apples and learned how smell and taste are inter-connected.

Become a part of the exhibit via Instagram

You can become a part of the exhibit by posting a photo and caption of a memorable meal using Instagram with hashtag #CelebrateFood.

Groundnut soup

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 lb chicken thighs, cubed

1 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large red peppers, chopped

1 small squash, cut into ½ inch cubes

1 medium yam or sweet potato, cut into ½ inch cubes

4 large carrots, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups crushed tomatoes

8 cups chicken stock

¼ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground coriander

2/3 cup ground roasted peanuts (or unsweetened peanut butter)

Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry, season them with salt, and brown them in the oil. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the same pot. Lower the heat. add onions and garlic and sweat for two minutes.
  3. Add the pepper and sweat for one minute
  4. Add the squash, yam and carrots, and sweat for 8 minutes
  5. Stir in tomatoes, and simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the browned chicken, the chicken stock, pepper, cayenne pepper and coriander and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  7. Turn the heat off, and stir in peanut butter until well blended.
  8. Serve over rice, or in a soup bowl.

November 22, 2012 Posted by | Food, Museums | , | Leave a comment