Sunday Breakfast, Sunday Dinner

I should have known it was going to rain that Sunday morning. The sky was grey in the AM and there was an unmistakable chill in the air – I could feel it through the windows. Usually, on those mornings, I’d dive back under the covers, never to arise till my tummy commanded otherwise, demanding something warm and hearty. But no, on that particular Sunday we had a plan, a bike ride, in fact, and in spite of the moody sky, nothing could get in the way. I quickly changed into athletic-esque gear (something I have not done in ages) and dashed over to Don’s place. On the way, I stopped by Abraço for our morning drinks, an iced coffee for myself…

…and a latte for him.

He had breakfast set out by the time I arrived, a plethora of goodies from the most awesome Jewish deli ever, Russ & Daughters. Bialys and bagels, whitefish salad and horseradish cream cheese. Indeed the breakfast of champions. Into the toaster went the bialy (for myself) and bagel (for him), and out hot we smeared on fresh the cream cheese, horseradish speckled, alongside creamy whitefish salad. Cracked black pepper, and bite, bite, bite till there was no more. The only thing we missed was red onions and capers. Perhaps next time we will also include their famed wasabi tobiko.

Energized, we hopped onto our bikes, down Second Avenue, then Canal Street and finally onto the Manhattan Bridge. Halfway across it started to rain. Just a drizzle. A steady drizzle as we biked through Brooklyn to the Flea Market for sweets and pastries (check Serious Eats for the post on Thursday :). The rain started to come down hard soon after and we hid under the church awning, hoping it would let up. But it only got worse. So we took in a deep breath and got back on the bikes for a late afternoon trip back to Manhattan. It poured the whole way back, and aside from sopping wet clothes and a slight chill, I must say, biking in the rain is tremendous fun.

Back home, the dark skies called for a warm dinner and Don cooked something, some many things, wonderful, exceeding all expectations as he usually does. We started with bowls of miso soup, plenty of tofu and onions…

…then moved on to the chawan mushi, steaming in little red Le Creuset pots. Notice they also match the new kettle we have? ;) Hehehe. Savoury light, I slid spoonfuls of the eggy custardy into my mouth, letting it slide like silk before completely disappearing. The eating was, effortless.

I was in a miso-y mood that day, and because I always clamour for spicy food, Don braised spicy-miso chicken (dark meat only, please) and potatoes. Oooooh. This is winter food at its best (even though it is already May…what can we do, the weather is all funky stuff). We tucked the meal away with bowls of rice, and of course, make sure to eat our vegetables…

…in the form of crisp sugar snap peas and garlic. Fried in Benton’s bacon fat. Does that still make it a vegetable? ;)

86 East 7th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 388-9731

Russ & Daughters
179 East Houston St
NY, NY 10002
(212) 475-4880

Pudding for Breakfast, Pudding for Dinner

Buttercup Bake Shop

On some mornings, when yogurt won’t do, cereal & milk sounds unappealing and fruits feel strangely too healthy, I dash to the bakery. Amidst a bounty of coffee cakes, brownies, cupcakes and pie, I never fail to make a beeline for the puddings. My obsession over pudding knows no boundaries. Home in Hawai’i, I dote after Bread Pudding, in the San Gabriel Valley, you’ll find cups and cups of Vietnamese Durian Pudding in the fridge. But here in Manhattan, the city I currently call home, Banana Pudding is my weakness. Chocolate Trifle Puddings are a close second. And Rice Pudding third.

Buttercup: Chocolate Trifle

On weekdays, the pudding bakery of choice is Buttercup Bake Shop. It is the same order every time – one of my few food habits that will never change. “Half Banana Pudding, Half Chocolate Trifle.” The girls at the counter always make sure to ask which you prefer on top/bottom, which I think, is quite thoughtful. Such details are important :)

Buttercup: Banana Pudding

Banana pudding at Buttercup has noticeably improved over the last year. A pudding that was once folded with too much whipped cream, is now more dense and luxurious. Previously heavy on Nilla Wafers, they’ve found balance with thicker layers of pudding between. The best part? Bananas are cut lengthwise (and then into three)! So instead of the circular bits found at similar bakeries, these are rectangular, which is good, because the circular ones were always too small. The Chocolate trifle has too much vanilla whipped cream (as opposed to chocolate cream) to live up to the name chocolate trifle, but oh well, you can’t win them all.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine

Where one ought to go for a proper chocolate trifle is Sugar Sweet Sunshine. As much as I like the puddings here, I try not to patronize SSS often – the owners are catty and the service, however little there is, leaves a sour taste. Unless that boy with short brown hair is working. He’s nice.

SSS: Chocolate Trifle on top, Strawberry Trifle on Bottom

With that said, I’m nonetheless a proponent of their Chocolate Trifle, an intense crazy bath of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding and chocolate whipped cream. It’s overkill, yes. It’ll like you with the crappiest toothache ever, yes. And maybe a root canal (but hopefully not).

SSS: Strawberry Trifle on top, Banana Pudding on Bottom

My first love at the bakery was Banana Pudding, and there was a point in my life where I would come here for dinner a few times a week. No one said you can’t have pudding as dinner. I loved the Vanilla Pudding:Nilla Wafer:Banana ratio and the generous ladles of plush bliss. This pudding was my staple. My starting ground. But after recent visits to Buttercup in the last month, I’m changing teams. Something about lengthwise bananas cuts is quite attracting, heheh. And you’ll surely be better treated there. Argue as you must, but I strongly believe that the people/service factor counts for a fair share of any dining experience whether it be fine dining or, in this case, a bakery.

As for the Strawberry Trifle? I’ll be lusting after this one during hot summer months. Sweet, though surprisingly refreshing (who thought cake could be refreshing?), and strawberry studded with a lemony twist, it’s a fine warm night treat.

Buttercup Bake Shop
973 2nd Avenue
NY, NY 10022
(212) 350-4144

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St
NY, NY 10002
(212) 995-1960

I Told You…

I’d be back when the craving hit once more. I think, no, am certain, I’m addicted to Pampano. The fact that my new client is located 62 steps away doesn’t hurt, especially when coupled with daily 1:30pm cravings for Mexican. Today it was a duo of tacos in carne asada and pollo, both tucked into warm corn tortillas. The grilled-to-order filling is generous, which is justly expected considering the $2.75 price tag. Fresh fried chips, a serving of everything from the condiment bar, a seat out in the open courtyard and well…maybe the workday isn’t so bad after add!

Pampano Taqueria
805 3rd Ave
NY, NY 10022
(212) 751-5257

Saturday & Sunday: Meals Between Meals

On weekends, Don and I never have just breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Instead, we have pre-breakfast snacks, a sort of breakfast followed by a proper lunch and then many, many afternoon treats and drinks, dinner in the later evening, and then another smaller meal, and maybe a third or fourth dessert afterwards.

Most of our meals/snacks are eaten out, but the ones I enjoy the most are the ones we create ourselves. Don takes care of the savoury side, and I do the sweet, so it works out quite nicely.

Highlights from this weekend:

We made our weekly visit to the Greenmarket on Saturday morning for basic staples: eggs, Ronnybrook milk, and anything else that catches our eyes.

The ever trendy ramps are in season, (and just as quickly, are about to go out of season), so he got a few of those cause, can you believe it – up until this weekend, I’ve never had ramps before!

I was in the mood for pasta, so we went straight for the fresh beet pasta from Hudson Valley Farmhouse…

…and made little meatballs from the sun-dried tomato and chardonnay sausage at Flying Pigs Farm. With a generous hand of browned butter and plenty of talent, Don whipped up a most ideal spring dish in less than an hour.

The beet pasta turns a gorgeous pale pink after cooking, the colour accentuated with sautéed ramps, butter, and sweet little rounds of sausages. Complete, no? “Wait!” he said, when I nearly took the first bite. I paused, and because sometimes, more is more, Don grated slivers of fresh parmesan, turned the black pepper a few rounds and then finished with just a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Perfect!

While he was working on the pasta, I got to start on brioche dough. We took turns babysitting the dough over the afternoon, with plans to turn it into a Sunday morning snack. Vanessa brought over brioche tins, and Don shaped the dough into classic brioche à tête.

Now wouldn’t it be lovely to wake up to this every morning? A dozen warm golden brioche, just minutes from the oven and a jar of Greenmarket raspberry preserves from Philip’s Farm. Extra pats of butter always welcomed.

Don noted that it was on the yeasty side – perhaps I let the sponge sit for a tad too long before mixing it in with the dough, good to keep in mind for next time. I was happy with the texture, though wish it browned more evenly. I’ll have to play around with the oven temperatures and rack setting. Post brioche, we went out for lunch at Taim, and then came back to…

…bake mini madelines using this recipe Kathryn recommended. Notice this is the first time we’ve made mini ones? Don just got a darling pan from Broadway Panhandler but a few hours before, and I simply could not wait to put it to use. Don’t worry, we did not eat it alllll alone – they were shared with friends at dinner an hour later :)