City Bakery

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s nice to be reminded of why certain places with huge reputations actually deserve their hype– as is most definitely the case for The City Bakery (at least with regard to their muffins). This morning I took a slight detour on the way to work and found myself in possession of this beauty:

Blueberry-corn muffin.

Said muffin was a lovely departure from my typical choices– it was buttery and crumbly as opposed to cakey, invoking a slightly gritty cornbread studded with toasty sesame seeds and plump, juicy blueberries. The crust was firm and the innards threatening to fall apart at the touch; while messy, this was a treat for the mouth indeed.

Happy Monday!

New Hood

July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

I have been spending a fair amount of time in Williamsburg these days and, this morning, just so happened to be walking towards the Graham Ave. L stop when my morning coffee craving hit. It being 100 degrees and all I naturally needed something on ice, and, having seen a welcoming sign the day before advertising “cold brew”, I knew Variety Café would be my spot.

To compliment the coffee (or is it the other way around?) I ordered a blackberry-rhubarb muffin and promptly toted both back to my cozy cubicle. The coffee was great– subtle yet robust and not as bitter as I typically find Stumptown to be. That said, my muffin was a disappointment indeed. Dry, cakey, with only a hint of fruit; this was the type of pastry that gives muffins a bad name. It had so much potential, so much good fruity flavor to share! But alas, the overly-sweetened batter prevailed and I ended up eating only half. A shame indeed, especially for someone like me who enjoys consuming way too much sugar before 10am.

 

Despite this lackluster breakfast, I will definitely be back to try their other flavors and to get a refill on the cold brew. Variety, let’s hope you have some! I look forward to further interactions.

Bak(love)a

July 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

A tasty midday bite from the Turkish stand in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza:

Baklava, just the right size, oozing syrup from the bottom yet remaining light and crisp on top. With a thin layer of pistachios, this was a manageable afternoon treat and did not bring along the typical sugar-overload that I usually receive from (heftier) Turkish pastries. Alongside a cup of mint tea, the five bites of baklava tided me over quite nicely.

Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza: East 47th between 1st and 2nd Ave.

The Usual

July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

A breakfast that I have consistantly enjoyed over the past year is the apple-walnut muffin from Cranberry’s.

Cranberry’s muffins are some of the best around for your everyday breakfast– not too large, not too sweet, simple and satisfying. They are the kind of muffin that are actually meant to be eaten regularly, unlike some of the quasi-cake beasts that can only feel like indulgences. The apple walnut in particular (pictured above next to Joe’s iced Americano) manages to hit the perfect balance of wholesome cinnamon-bread base, soft apple and chopped walnuts that is both enjoyable to the senses and satisfying to the stomach. I can easily have three of these in a given week and still take enjoyment and pleasure in each bite.

My mother likes to buy these in bulk and stash them in her freezer. If you put a frozen one in your bag on the way to work in the morning, by the time you sit down to breakfast it is completely thawed but still chilly– absolutely perfect for summer days. Almost as good as breakfast pie! (But only almost..)

Iris, done right

July 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

I ventured back to Iris Cafe again this morning, determined to explore more of their menu. After reading favorable things about their granola, I decided to sample that as well as the blueberry-honey oatmeal. The verdict:

Possibly the best granola I’ve had, ever. Think flattened, crispy oats held lightly together with roasted pecans, walnuts and almonds. There is a heavy dose of salt, perfectly balancing the granola’s maple/honey sweetness. I ate a fair amount of this plain, without milk, but also enjoyed using the heated milk that came with the oatmeal to soften the granola into a warm cereal. This stuff is definitely going to become my go-to granola and I like it so much I am tempted to try to make it on my own.

As for the oatmeal– dehydrated blueberries plus mushy oats equals a perfectly decent dish, yet it so paled in comparison to the granola that I have put it away in the refrigerator for another meal. This granola needed no accompaniment; although I tend to believe that an iced coffee balances every breakfast these days. (On that note, I must say I am not nearly as fond of Stumptown as I am of Tazza/Joe’s/Van Leeuwen… is this just me?)

A Toast to the Season

July 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Blueberry sangria:

At Ortine in Prospect Heights. White wine, sake, blueberries. Pure refreshment.

Off (of) the Beaten Path

July 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is often difficult to break out of my breakfast routine, what with a freezer-full of muffins from Cranberry’s at the ready and Joe the Art of Coffee directly along my morning commute. However, I am always so happy when I do finally manage to stop by a new breakfast spot since then I invariably discover something like this: the almond-cherry scone from Iris Cafe.

Iris is located only two blocks from my house, yet I have been there a mere handful of times over the past year! Perhaps Tazza gives it too much competition? Nevertheless I am generally pleased with both their coffee and pastries and should definitely try to head down the hill more often. While this scone is not my absolute favorite (perhaps due to the marzipan-esque intensity of the almond flavoring), it had lovely soft innards and a beautiful crunchy crust to provide the perfect balance of textures. I would have liked to see more fruit, since the berries played well with the almond bits and livened up an otherwise decent but unimpressive pastry.

I am planning to try more things from Iris in the future, perhaps that tender-looking banana muffin?

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