Nostalgia flavored dessert

Many moons ago, when I lived in Italy and had a boyfriend, (boy, those were different times!)  he and his friends used to regularly host dinner parties where everyone would pitch in and do their part: prepping, cooking, pouring wine, cleaning afterward.

image

Coke float in soft serve form.

One summer night, when it was hotter than the innermost circles of Dante’s inferno, and we had decided to eat outside, I suggested we make Coke floats for dessert.

No sooner had I announced my idea than I was met with a mix of blank stares and looks of horror. “Un’ americanata!” said one of my then boyfriend’s more gluttonous friends, a guy who refused to drink water and subsisted off soda and fruit juice instead, suggesting that the concept of mixing Coke with vanilla ice cream was so outrageous that only a fat American could’ve come up with it.

What happened next should come as a surprise to no one: I made them, they loved them. Point for America.

Coke floats are something I’ve loved since I was a kid. My sister and I would find the tallest glasses in the cupboard, toss in a few scoops of vanilla ice cream and then pour fizzy, cold Coke (we were never Pepsi girls) over the ice cream, watching the creamy, cola colored foam rise up to the top, frothy and delicious.

So during my sister’s recent visit, even though we were full from brunch, we had to stop at Momofuku Milk Bar whose sign outside said four magic words: Coke float soft serve.

Anyone who’s ever had Milk Bar’s famous cereal milk soft serve knows that’s unmistakably what it tastes like. With this new coke float flavor, chef, founder and Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi, absolutely did it again. Closing my eyes, I could swear I was back in my childhood kitchen slurping a float with my sister or sitting on that sun-baked terrace outside of Florence, enjoying not just the frosty dessert drink but the pleasure of proving an Italian wrong.

Llama Lovin’

image

Just a girl who loves llamas

Ever since I met a baby llama at the Central Park Zoo’s Children’s Zoo a few years ago, I’ve been completely obsessed with the goofy, long-necked fluffy animals. And after a recent brunch at Williamsburg’s Llama Inn with my sister, I’m kind of obsessed with that too.

We started off with pan de yuca, a simple but tasty Peruvian inspired take on bread and butter. Each little bun, soft and sweet, is made from the hispanic staple and root veggie, yuca. With it, a velvety, creamy sweet honey butter of sorts, so good I could’ve spread it on rocks and happily eaten those too.

image

Admittedly doesn’t look like much, but let me tell you, they make up in taste what they lack in fancy presentation.

My sister’s entree was the food envy inducing beef tenderloin stir-fry, a glorious heap of scallion topped fried eggs, french fries, plump caramelized sweet plantains, grilled onions, and juicy tenderloin medallions, all served in a bowl and drizzled with a spicy cream made from rocoto chilli peppers. Every ingredient was bursting with flavor, the plantains so sweet and soft they were almost custardy, the beef just the perfect amount of pink and juicy, and the fries pure golden, starchy goodness.

image

 A gorgeous mess of breakfast deliciousness

To match my sister’s bowl-of-awesome was my amazing crispy pork shoulder sandwich and crunchy plantain chips. A thick smear of spicy mayo, a colorful, tangy red onion salsa, and my favorite surprise element, a soft, almost buttery, sweet potato wedged right in with the crispy pork shoulder, which was tender and testy, with perfectly burnt edges for that bit of charred flavor.

image

A downright magical way to start a Saturday.

And because even brunch calls for dessert, we split the only one on the brunch menu, a bowl of chocolate sorbet and lucuma cream, made from a Peruvian fruit with a mapley, butterscotch flavor. To top if off were wafer-like crisps made from cappuccino foam. A mix of flavors and textures and now I have a whole new fruit that I love! Success all around!

image

Don’t let looks fool you, this dessert is a solid TEN.

Since originally writing this a couple of days ago I’ve also been back for dinner and drinks and I can tell you, my llama love is stronger than ever. Once one of my favorite animals, now one of my favorite restaurants.

Burrata brilliance

Let’s just get right into it cause every moment you spend reading about anything other than BURRATA SOFT SERVE is a moment of your life that you are not living right.

image

Burrata in a whole new delicious form.

Slight exaggeration? Yea, maybe, but let’s go back to that and repeat after me: burrata soft serve. Cue the clouds parting and a choir of angels singing and blowing their trumpets and the one playing the harp actually busting strings, cause again: burrata soft serve.

On the off chance you don’t know what burrata is, it’s a milky, semi-soft Italian cheese, kind of like mozzarella’s slightly sexier, cooler cousin. It’s actually made from mozzarella, but it’s creamier and more spreadable on the inside. If you don’t have lactose allergies and have functioning taste buds, you know how awesome burrata is.

It’s completely wonderful on it’s own but at Dominique Ansel Kitchen you can revel in its deliciousness in an untraditional form: soft serve ice cream. Piled high into a beautiful swirl of creamy goodness with just a subtle hint of tanginess in place of a more common vanilla base flavor, but not as sour as plain yogurt, the soft serve comes in a thick, not too crunchy but almost cookie like cone, delicately drizzled with balsamic caramel and sprinkled with little sprigs of microbasil. I wasn’t sure whether the teeny basil leaves were decorative or not but I ate them with my big mouthfuls of creamy, cold soft serve and they were delicious, bright and peppery.

image

I don’t normally like surprises, but strawberry confit? I’ll take that any day!

But then, just as I approached the bottom of the cone, that sweet container of the final remnants of ice cream, I was hit with one last surprise: strawberry confit. Several juicy, plump, roasted strawberries just sitting in their milky, sweet soft serve. It was like an encore at an already awesome concert or an after-the-credits hidden scene after a great movie.

Cause if you ask me, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to ice cream. Just keep it coming. I’m looking at you, burrata soft serve.

The winning cookie

In college, my roommates and I would often sit around, usually under the influence of something or other, and ask ourselves some really hard-hitting, soul-searching questions.

“You guys, what would you do if there was a gorilla running around outside right now?” Or the time we went camping and someone asked, “What if an axe wielding murderer ran out of the woods and started chasing us?” And then there was the one that really made me pause, look inward and reflect on what kind of person I was, “What one specific food would you choose for an all-you-can-eat contest?”

image

This rosemary shortbread’s a golden beaut of a cookie, no?

Ask me today and my answer would be the rosemary shortbread cookies at Lilia. I’m fairly confident that I could eat a horrifying amount of those cookies, an amount that would not win me any friends and certainly not any boyfriends, but dammit, it would crush my competition and win me that contest!

Shortbread doesn’t even do it for me, not with its usual dry, crumbly texture  and bland flavor. But this cookie, this gloriously sweet and buttery, rosemary flecked and sea salt sprinkled, palm-sized cookie, wasn’t dry or tough like its brethren. It still retained some of the coarseness that would make it ideal for dipping in a hot cup of tea while also being subtly soft, the kind of cookie that dissolves into pure deliciousness when it hits your tongue.

Not too sweet, nor too savory, just absolutely perfect in flavor and consistency, I’m pretty sure me and Lilia’s rosemary shortbread are gonna be a winning team.

Hot drinks meet cold treats

I promise I’ll eventually stop bitching about the weather, probably some day in  late October when I’m wearing a knit sweater and booties and my hair doesn’t look like one of my parents was a Brillo pad. Today is not that day.

Really though, it rained this morning and now it feels like a tropical jungle (hello, zika!) outside and the very inner rings of hell in my windowless, non air conditioned bathroom. (Ever try blow drying your hair in those conditions?)

The good thing about these muggy times though, is that I don’t feel even an ounce of guilt over my mass consumption of ice cream, and this weekend I got my hands on some that incorporates another thing I love: hot, boozy drinks.

image

One of my favorite hot drinks… Now in ice cream form

Hot drinks, cold ice cream, one delicious treat… what a time to be alive, right? Tipsy Scoop ice creams are liquor infused with flavors like chocolate stout, strawberry white sangria, and one of my all time favorite cold-weather indulgences: hot buttered rum.

Creamy, cold, and with just a hint of rum swirled in with the buttery, caramely flavor, I meant to eat about half the tub, and then just plowed through till I hit the bottom. (Bottom of the container, not any sort of personal “rock bottom.” No qualms here with eating a whole pint alone.) My only concern with this ice cream was that it was a bit on the soft side when I would have liked it to be a touch firmer. Then again, I did take it on a 15-minute train ride.

And with the temperatures down there, it’s a wonder I didn’t melt into a puddle myself.

Hot fix for a summer cold

Ladies and gents, I am comin’ to you live from SNOT CITY. That’s disgusting, yes, I know. And I’m sorry— kind of—because you clearly didn’t come here to read about the drama that is my sinus cavity right now, but it’s true. I’m in the midst of an obnoxious summer cold, and it sucks.

Sorry folks, it's not all food porn here.

Sorry folks, it’s not all food porn here.

I’m all red nosed and stuffy, bursting into sneezing fits every quarter hour or so, and I have a cough that feels like there’s a lone Pop Rock lodged in my throat. And so help me God, if I have to eat one more cherry flavored zinc lozenge, I’m gonna vomit.

Yesterday after leaving work, where the indoor temperature is precisely 30 below zero, the only thing I wanted was a hot cup of bone broth. Not only is it pretty much soup I can walk with, but it also has damn near magical healing powers. Bone broth is allegedly full of minerals and other good stuff that help aid the immune system and reduce intestinal inflammation (Woof. How terrible does that sound?) as well as help you sleep better, boost energy and keep you looking young (HOLLA!) thanks to collagen.

A few places in the city have it, but the closest to me at the time was Barney’s Bone Broth, a small walk up window near NYU. I went with Barney’s Signature broth, made from grass fed veal and beef bones, chicken, carrots, celery, onions, thyme, rosemary, garlic and parsley, all served piping hot in a to-go cup.

Even on a warm summer day, the hot bone broth was comforting and delicious, a portable soup-as-cold remedy for a sick girl on the go.

Hot and (wander)lusty

I think the fact that I made it to work today without cursing at anyone, without shoving a single woman, man or child (oooh, especially child) and without bursting into hot tears of pure aggravation should earn me a prize. That prize, for the record, should at the very least be ice cream.

image

Thai iced tea ice cream, brief respite for the hot and wanderlusty

How, in this horrible, sticky, suffocating, swampy and oppressive summer heat, does anyone do anything that doesn’t involve just eating ice cream?

I long to be at the beach right now, under an umbrella eating ice cream. Acceptable alternatives include frozen beverages, cold beers, and basically anything that has either been in the freezer or contains ice.

Furthermore, as is always the case, I’d like for said hypothetical daydream beach to be somewhere far and exotic. Cause you know what else I feel during these trying summer times? Wander-freakin’-lust, man. I wanna go and I wanna go far.

But I just started a new job (eeep!) and I’m low on travel funds (booo!) and I have fun stuff that’s gonna drain my bank account planned for fall (hooray fun!)  so I can’t really go anywhere right this moment. What I can do though, is eat ALL the ice cream such as the above pictured, recently Hoovered, creamy, spicy deliciousness that is Thai ice tea ice cream from Odd Fellows, in addition to drinking all the drinks, (alcoholic and non, just as long as they’re frosty cold) and continuing to daydream the hot days away.