nyculinaryfinds

Food treasures in New York City

Honey For The Jewish New Year

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Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday evening September 4th. It’s customary to serve honey to ensure a sweet new year.  So what kind of honey to choose ?

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According to the National Honey Board, there are more than 300 unique kinds of honey in the United States, from diverse floral sources as Clover, Eucalyptus and Orange Blossoms.  In general, lighter colored honeys are mild in flavor, while darker honeys are usually more robust in flavor. The color and flavor of honey differ depending on the bees’ nectar source (the blossoms).  Honey comes in 5 different forms: liquid; comb (honey in it’s original form); cut comb (liquid honey with chunks of comb inside); naturally crystallized; and whipped or cremed ( crystallized so that it’s in a solid state and can be spread like butter).

Honey choices at the UES Fairway

Honey choices at the UES Fairway

All supermarkets and specialty stores carry at least a few varieties of honey. Many farmer’s markets also have stands with locally produced honeys. For convenience and variety, I found that Fairway was a  good place to shop for both the most common and the most exotic honeys; honeys from the US and around the world. Some examples:

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Langnese Country Honey is from Germany. It’s a creamy natural honey “made from the honeycomb after the bees have sealed it tightly with wax. This means that the honey is mature – it has a full taste and all the nutrients are intact,” according to the company. A different German honey is made by Bihophar and it’s an acacia flower blossom honey with comb. Attiki honey is from Greece. It’s derived from a select variety of Greek thyme, wild flowers and herbs. Aleluya is pure honey from Argentina and is mild and creamy.

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Dutch Gold Honey is a Lancaster PA company that has been making honey since 1946, Fairway sells a variety of different blossoms of their liquid honey including buckwheat, clove, and orange blossom. Tupelo honey comes from the blossoms of the tupelo gum tree and is mostly produced commercially in areas along the Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola, and Ochlockonee rivers. Honey produced from only the white tupelo is the only honey that will not granulate, according to the Tupelo Beekeepers Association.

Fairway also offers its own brand of reasonably priced honey made from wildflower blossoms.

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August 20, 2013 Posted by | Food, holidays, sweets | , , | 2 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

FOMO: Summer of the Rain Room and the Cronut

Fear of missing out – FOMO – is what the New York Times said was the reason why people were willing to wait at least 2 hours to get into the MOMA exhibit, “The Rain Room,” which closes July 28th. As a member, I thought I would have no trouble getting in if I arrived a half-an-hour early. But alas, others had, indeed, arrived 2 hours earlier. No art was worth standing in the sun for that long.

MOMA's Rain Room

MOMA’s Rain Room

FOMO may also be why people have been lining up at 7am every morning in front of the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street. They are waiting to buy this summer’s phenomenon – the Cronut. Developed by Chef Ansel and introduced in May, the Cronut is a doughnut shaped croissant. Every month the bakery offers a different flavor.

My friend's blackberry Cronut

Photo my friend took of her blackberry Cronut

If you choose to wait on line, you can only purchase two at a time. You can also pre-order by phone for pick-up Monday morning. But as of this posting, they are already filled with orders through August 4th. Not really knowing all the details, I arrived one day after noon. Of course, the Cronuts were all gone by then and no more more were being re-baked that day. My friend rose to the challenge and arrived at Spring Street one morning at 7:30am to already find the line down the block. As it inched forward, she saw people leaving the bakery; going to the corner; and re-selling their Cronuts like scalped tickets! Turns out, she was the last person of the day to get a Cronut box.She saved the Cronuts for her daughter, a food blogger, who thought it was the best thing she had ever eaten. My friend had a croissant instead and found it very disappointing.

I’ll never know how good these are because no food is worth waiting on line for two hours. But I do think there could have been a great cross promotion this summer — wait on line for the Rain Room and when you get inside buy a Cronut.

July 23, 2013 Posted by | exhibit, Food, sweets | , | 3 Comments

Nolita Sweets

nol;ita map

Nolita (north of Little Italy), is a small neighborhood that is bounded on the east by the Bowery; the west by Lafayette Street; the north by Houston; and the south roughly by Broome Street. But it packs a wallop when it comes to food. There are many restaurants to try but I went there recently in search of Brazilian Gelato and discovered rice pudding too.

biaggi

Located on Elizabeth Street near Prince, A. B. Biagi uses farm-fresh milk and sugar from Brazil to “spin gelato in a traditional vertical batch freezer, the Cavttabriga EFFE, the first of its kind in New York.”

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Antonio Barros Biagi, owner of the shop, first fell in love with gelato while growing up with his Italian family in the Brazilian countryside. Their gelato recipes were adapted to Brazil’s tropical weather, using local fruits and naturally lower fat milk to create lighter frozen desserts that could stand up to the heat. The store offers a range of flavors including: cinnamon, white chocolate, hazelnut and goat cheese with anise. You can also have Brazilian coffee.

ricetoriches

On my way to Biagi’s I discovered a NY Culinary Find that I hadn’t been looking for — Rice To Riches. Located on Spring Street between Mulberry and Mott, this store only sells rice pudding.

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The pudding choices all have amusing names like: hazelnut chocolate bear hug, almond shalmond, coconut coma and , “category 5” caramel, among others. Owner Peter Moceo has put a lot of thought into every detail of the shop. The rice theme is brought to life from the front glass window to the shape of the plastic bowls the pudding comes in. A 4oz. bowl is available in 4 flavors but the average selling size is 8oz. When I was there, I saw groups ordering a 3-dish bowl for sampling and sharing. You can even order the rice pudding online for delivery the next day.

July 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, stores, sweets | , | 2 Comments

Vegan Doughnuts “Dun-Well”

dunwell outside

If you love doughnuts but are committed to a vegan way of life, then Dun-Well Doughnuts is a great way to satisfy your sweet needs. Located on Montrose Avenue (right near the L train stop), Dun-Well  is named for founding partners, Dan Dunbar and Christopher Hollowell. Dun-Well offers 200 flavors of vegan doughnuts, though not all available at the same time.

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I chose a Butterfinger doughnut which was served on a clever “bark” plate. While I prefer a non-vegan doughnut, this had great texture and flavor and was slightly less sweet than a traditional doughnut. Thanks Adam for the recommendation.

June 11, 2013 Posted by | Food, sweets | , | 2 Comments

“NY Culinary Finds” Visits Israel

Dried fruit at Mahane Yehuda

Dried fruit at Mahane Yehuda

I just returned from a family visit to Israel. And while this was hardly the first time I was there (more like the 30th); I used this visit to explore unique Israeli culinary finds. My focus was in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas.

"Cakes" of halava in Machane Yehuda

“Cakes” of halva in Machane Yehuda

If you love food, you can’t miss a visit to Machane Yehuda. Located off Yaffo Road in the heart of the new city, the “shuk,” as it’s familiarly referred to, offers both a sense of the old and the new. Not only will you find stall after stall of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables that have been available since the founding of the state of Israel. But you can also have brunch, dinner, drinks or snacks at one of the many restaurants that have opened over the past 5 years.

Fresh chocolate rugeluch from Marzipan

Fresh chocolate rugeluch from Marzipan

On my visit to the shuk, I had dinner at Pasta Basta; bought warm chocolate rugeluch at Marzipan and hazelnut halva at Halva Kingdom. You can have a similar culinary experience at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.

Thongs on display at the Carmel Market

Thongs on display at the Carmel Market

Located just off of Allenby Road, Shuk HaCarmel also offers beautiful produce; wide selection of fish, meat and cheese; pastries and candies. This Shuk also has a wider range of clothes and household items than Machane Yehuda. If you go to the Carmel Market on a Tuesday or Friday, be sure to visit the arts and crafts market at Nachlat Binyamin. Don’t go just for the beautiful jewelry, pottery, and glassware. Also stop by the Bedouin tent to have fresh laffa with labane and za’atar.

Drying peanuts on a car hood on Levinsky Street

Drying nuts on a car hood on Levinsky Street

While I was in Tel Aviv I also visited the Levinsky Market, which is really just one long street in Southern Tel Aviv. It was my first visit there and I went because I had heard about the wonderful spice stores I would find; and I wasn’t disappointed.

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The stores on Levinsky Street all sell spices by weight and many sell dried fruit, including 3 kinds of dates, and a variety of nuts including 4 kinds of almonds. I also saw (and tasted) more unusual things like dried watermelon seeds, candied lime peel and dried garlic. My favorite store was Shuk California where I bought quinoa, candied ginger and ground cardamom.

Albert

While in the neighborhood,visit Albert’s Pastry shop on Matalon Street, which runs parallel to Levinsky Street. The shop has been there for over 40 years and offers many Mideastern sweets but is famous for its marzipan.

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, spices, stores, sweets | , , | 2 Comments

Taking the Subway to the Middle East

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Take the train to Borough Hall in Brooklyn and head towards Atlantic Avenue.Without ever needing your passport, you will be transported to the Middle East. Within a two block span you will find stores selling spices, sweets, dried goods, and breads with an authentic Mideast flavor. There were three that stood out.

db anniv sign

Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop, also known as Damascus Bakery, has been around since 1930. While they sell dried goods, like many varieties of beans and dried chickpeas, they are known for their breads and pastries. They offer 9 different kinds of pitas as well as lavash wraps, panini, and filled breads.  One unusual find were chocolate fudge rugelach made with “gream” cheese.

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Next store to Damascus Bakery is Sahadis. a market that has been around since 1948. More like a grocery store, at Sahadis you can find  canned goods, fresh produce, and packaged breads and pastries. I really liked the large jars of dried goods and condiments.

Dried beans and grains at Sahadis

Dried beans and grains at Sahadis

My last stop was at Oriental Pastry & Grocery. Though indoors, this store reminded me of walking through the Arab shuk in the Old City in Jerusalem.  Like Sahadis, Oriental Pastry sells all kinds of Middle Eastern grocery items. But it’s a much smaller store and all the goods are on top of each other. It’s more challenging to find what you want but the staff is very helpful and the smells really transport you to another place.

Inside Oriental Pastry and Grocery

Inside Oriental Pastry and Grocery

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, spices, stores, sweets | , | 2 Comments

All Things Greek

Athens Square Park in Astoria

Athens Square Park in Astoria

Ethnic diversity is one of the interesting characteristics of Astoria, Queens, but many associate this neighborhood with a strong Greek population. And though there are Greek communities all over Queens, one does still feel a strong presence in Astoria. This is evident in the numerous Greek bakeries and restaurants; schools and churches; and even the parks.

Titan Foods

Titan Foods

The place to go for authentic Greek foods and ingredients is Titan Foods on 31st Street. You can find everything from worry beads and Greek flags to canned pickled octopus and bunches of dried oregano. If you are a cheese lover, there’s one whole deli case devoted to a variety of feta and other Greek cheeses. There’s also a bakery that sells both sweets like baklava and savory filled dough like spanakopita.

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April 17, 2013 Posted by | Food, international, stores, sweets | , | 4 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

Sweets For Shorty Awards Tweets

shortyOn April 8th, the fifth Annual Shorty Awards will honor the best in social media. This quintessentially New York event takes place at the Times Center and gives awards, among others, to: moms and dads who use social media to “Keep Good Going,” (presented by New York Life) and individuals who help others make healthy choices via social media (presented by Health.Join In).  Though tickets are available, the event is live streamed, watched around the world and tweeted about by the thousands.  I thought it would be a good idea to have a selection of sweets to munch on during the awards event. So I visited two candy stores that offer a selection of candies that will take you down memory lane.

Economy Candy

Economy Candy

Economy Candy, on Rivington Street, is known as “The Nosher’s Paradise of the Lower east Side.” It’s been around since 1937 and sells hundreds of kinds of chocolates, candies, nuts, dried fruits; including halvah and candy I remember from childhood.

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For a similar, but more intimate walk down memory lane, you can also visit Handsome Dan’s Snocone and Candy Stand. It’s located on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, inside the Mini-Mall.

Inside Handsome Dan's

Inside Handsome Dan’s

As the name suggest, Handome Dan’s sells snocones and candy. The snocones aren’t the plain flvaored ones you find on the street during the summer but come in exotic flavors like  thyme dream, earl grey cream, orange blossom ginger, rose pomegranate, and chili passion fruit. Like Economy Candy, Dan’s carries candies that will evoke your childhood,  no matter what your age.

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March 7, 2013 Posted by | event, stores, sweets | , , , , | 4 Comments