Eggnog makes it better

Not only was I leaving the side hustle where I’d spent all morning to trek all the way uptown to my real job, but the weather was of the miserable variety best enjoyed in bed—dreary, chilly, raining—when I passed the colorful window of Big Gay Ice Cream‘s West Village shop.

C’mon, you know how this ends. There was no way I wasn’t going in.

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It’s eggnog season, kids!

And dammit, I was SO happy I did, because in addition to their usual assortment of awesome, their flavor of the day was… drumroll please… EGGNOG. (I did cartwheels and celebratory dances in my head.)

I love the stuff, regardless of how fattening or sugary it is, and can’t get enough of it during the holiday season (which thank God we are fully in right now.) Big Gay’s was almost mousse-like in it’s fluffy, light texture while simultaneously having the thick, creamy sweetness of a good, classic eggnog.

Even though my new shoes got wet, my hair frizzed, and the rain backed up all the trains and made me late to work, I wasn’t too concerned, not with one of my favorite holiday treats in soft serve form in hand.

A burger for these impossible times

Now that the seemingly impossible’s actually happened, I need to take a break from all the doom and gloom and talk about something else for just a minute. Food’s always been a respite for me, and writing a form of therapy and distraction, so indulge me, will you?

Last week, when the world—while troubled and strange— didn’t seem quite as broken as it does now, I got around to eating something I’d been wanting since earlier this summer when it made its New York debut: an Impossible Burger.

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Oh, that flag.

Made by the creative wizards and scientists at Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods, their burger’s only available at three restaurants in California (two in San Fran and one in LA) and now at  Momofuku Nishi in Chelsea, where I had it.

The crazy thing about this burger, the impossible thing, is that even though it’s made entirely of all natural ingredients and not a single animal, it also looks and tastes like a regular ol’ hamburger made of ground beef. It has the same consistency, the same juiciness when you bite into it, the same reddish-pink inside and the same charring on the outside.

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Would you believe it? Not real meat!

Now, everyone who knows me knows I eat meat and burgers are some of my favorite, but I also love veggie burgers. To me though, they’re two different things. Until now.

Nishi’s burger is served on a soft potato roll and dressed like a pretty standard burger: lettuce, tomato, pickles, a smear of special sauce, and in my case, a slice of American cheese. A heap of crispy shoestring fries comes along next to it.

While I don’t think it’s the best burger out there, I do think it’s the closest thing to a beef burger that I’ve ever tasted in the world of veggie burgers. If I was trying to be vegetarian I would eat these all the time. Even as a meat eater, I’d definitely eat this again.

The fact that it uses way less natural resources like gas, water and land to create it, and also has  none of the crap like antibiotics and hormones that so much of our beef unfortunately has, makes it all the better.

In these impossible times, something enjoyable and less harmful to the world around it sounds pretty freakin’ good to me.

Halloween for breakfast

I was on autopilot a couple of weeks ago when I walked into the bagel shop around the corner from my apartment and ordered my usual: an everything bagel with regular cream cheese. Man, I should’ve known better.

My go-to shop, conveniently and dangerously located on the same block I live on, is The Bagel Store, the creatively named home of the rainbow bagel and all sorts of other wacky variations and crazy cream cheese flavors (tequila lime, I’m lookin’ at you.) It was exactly the moment after I’d ordered that I saw what I should have gotten, what I went back this week and had: a candy corn bagel.

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One of my favorite Halloween sweets, now in bagel form.

Yes, I’m that person. I love candy corn. I don’t care if you think it’s waxy or gross or too sweet. You don’t like it? Great, I’ll take it.

Using what I assume is the same dyeing method as the rainbow bagel, the candy corn bagel is a freakishly colorful, orange, yellow and white take on the New York breakfast fave. I was told it had a subtle vanilla flavor so I decided to go full sugar-overload, Halloween themed, autumn glutton and had it loaded up with pumpkin cream cheese.

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Just in time for Halloween!

While I couldn’t see it ever taking the place of my trusted everything bagel, I did think the candy corn bagel was tasty and fun, with its super sweet globs of cream cheese  oozing everywhere.I like my bagels on the savory side but this one was good too.

Maybe from now on, in addition to eating a few bags of candy corn each October (as well as whatever other sweets I can get my hands on), I’ll add a candy corn bagel too. You know, just for good measure.

Out with the old and in with the calories

Ok, hear me out. This time I have a good excuse for my latest disappearing act. My dear, sweet computer, my ol’ Italian girl with the keyboard that used to trip everybody up except me, finally gave up the fight and went peacefully in her sleep one night.

We had a good long run together, about 8 years, so I think I need some time alone, no? Blogging on my phone, however, is a nightmare and doing it at work isn’t really an option either at the moment, so there you have it: radio silence.

But don’t you worry, it’s been gluttonous business as usual here. Below, a look at the things I’ve been eating and drinking and just not writing about:

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The phenomenal leek bread pudding from Cassette‘s brunch menu wasn’t what I was expecting (since I didn’t really know what to expect) but it was damn good. Oh and the restaurant, in Greenpoint, is adorable. You should go.

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I hated it the first time I tried it but over the years, the Negroni has become one of my favorites. At Extra Fancy in Williamsburg, they have a frozen one. Clearly, I was in love.

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In all the years I’ve lived in New York so far, I had never been to Carnegie Deli so when I heard that the local institution was closing at the end of the year, I had to go. Not wanting to wait an hour and a half on the sidewalk for a table inside, Stas and I got our order to-go and ate it in the park. The Woody Allen (“lots corned beef and lotsa pastrami”), the most delicious knish I’ve had yet, a fat slice of banana cream pie and a thick wedge of the richest, most dense cheesecake I’ve ever eaten, and the two of us were done for.

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And lastly, a special shout out to the pretzel dog at my favorite bar in my old hood, the Rusty Knot. It’s nothing fancy, just a hot dog in the loving embrace of warm, salty dough, but dammit it fills my heart with all the feels every time. Or maybe that was the drinks. Who knows. It’s all delicious.

Mojo between sisters

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You really do.

No one eats with more reckless abandon while on vacation than I do. Add my constant treat-yourself mentality and you’re looking at a lot of calories consumed on any given out of town trip. Case in point: my recent jaunt to South Florida.

When my sister announced we were having donuts for breakfast Sunday morning, I was fully on board and off we went to Mojo Donuts in Pembroke Pines, the otherwise barren desert of strip malls and gated communities.

While I’m a lover of just a plain ol’ French cruller or a classic Boston cream, my sister loves really over-the-top  donuts, filled with jams and custards, crusted with all manner of confections and drizzled with syrups and sticky, sugary things.

Mojo was one hundred percent my sister’s kind of donut shop, but you know what? I thought it was pretty great, too.

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You really do.

For a light breakfast to start off a day that would end up with me in a bikini by the pool, we went with a red velvet, banana cream pie, pistachio mousse chocolate, cannoli, guava and cheese, and Nutella and bacon assortment of donuts.

Completely over the top? Uhm, yea. Gluttonous as all hell? Duh. Finger lickin’ good and a perflectly acceptable way to bond with your sibling over your shared love of carbs and sugar when you have little else in common? Absolutely.

When the spirit moves me

I always have to correct people when they assume I know how to cook, or even that I enjoy cooking. I don’t. I just like to eat. And dammit, I’m great at it.

But every once in a blue moon, something’ll inspire me or circumstances will leave me with no choice, and I’ll have to actually make something in the kitchen. Now, don’t go getting any crazy ideas. If I’m “cooking” it’s usually something pretty basic, something with only a couple of ingredients, something pretty idiot proof… Cause that’s my kitchen style.

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Pretty good, huh? And I didn’t even burn the house down!

A couple of days ago, while visiting my sister and being trapped at her house while she was at work (no really, I was trapped in her gated community with no key for the stupid gate. When I went for a run that same afternoon, I had to wait for cars leaving and coming back in so I could chase behind them. You can keep your suburban life and I’ll keep my city freedom, thanks.) I decided to whip something up I’d seen on Instagram: baked pears.

I had picked up the ingredients earlier when we went to the enormous, sprawling Publix where she does her groceries. Once I had run, failed at going to the pool (cause again, no key to that either), watched all the garbage tv I could stomach, napped, read my book and played with the dog, I decided I should eat.

I took out a pear, sliced it in half longways,  and scooped out the seeds so it made a little hollow. Next, I popped both halves on a small baking sheet, sprinkled them with pumpkin pie spice mix (since my sister didn’t have the plain ol’ cinnamon I was looking for) and a little drizzle of honey and set them to bake for  about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. (All numbers I chose at random, cause I never fully know what I’m doing.) When they were done, I plopped some creamy, cool, large curd cottage cheese in the hollows, sprinkled more spice over them and drizzled them with more golden honey, and sat down to hoover it all down.

Warm, creamy and spicy, with all the smells of the soon-to-come autumn I love so much (even if only back at home in New York and not in the forever summer of Florida) I was pretty proud of my little kitchen creation.  A no brainer, sure, but I did it myself, unsupervised, and it was delicious!

Now that oughta hold me over for at least another couple of weeks until I get my next burst of inspiration.

It’ll be ok, there’s matzo ball soup

Ever have one of those days that feel like you’re riding the struggle bus and no matter how many times you try to get off, it just seems to be going express, making no local stops as it barrel asses down the road, hitting all the pot holes along the way and giving you the worst car sickness ever, and you just can’t get off? Well I’m having one of those months.

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Even in hot weather, this soup is a bowl full of comfort.

I must’ve looked especially green-in-the-face and in need of a hug the other day because the struggle bus managed to give me a break and dump me outside of Frankel’s Delicatessen and Appetizing, Greenpoint’s newest Jewish deli, where I found exactly what I needed, the edible equivalent of a back rub and a “don’t worry, honey, everything’s gonna be fine.” Matzo ball soup.

The weather that day was muggy and hot (insert shocked face here), it was soup and not ice cream or a cold beer, that did the trick for me. Frankel’s matzo ball soup is the kind of deeply comforting, belly nourishing, spirit warming affair of broth, chicken, carrots, dill and a big, soft carby goodness matzo ball that can make you forget your troubles, even if only momentarily.

As I slurped the hot broth and carved out soft spoonfuls of the tennis ball-sized matzo ball, I swore I felt the struggle bus roll by and man, was I happy to  not be on board.