New York – Cronuts & The BEST Chocolate Mousse Ever

Super belated post but thought I’d upload some of the many food pics from a trip to NY a month ago. Every time we go to NY we eat. SO. MUCH. FOOD. Something like 4 meals a day plus squeezing in snacks everywhere (paninis at Eataly, the banana bread pudding at Magnolia, the Salty Pimp cone at Big Gay Al’s…). So I guess this time was no different. Part 1:

DOMINIQUE ANSEL CRONUTS:

Perhaps I am disqualified from properly judging this particular cronut flavor because I dislike things that are overly sweet (white chocolate, fudge, caramel….) but on the other hand I love dulce de leche so this should have been amazing.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Although I appreciated the flakes of sea salt to offset how sweet it was it was still SO SWEET. And very very buttery. A little too buttery for me. I had one bite and I think that was all I could eat. It’s not all bad news though, could definitely see this being delicious with the right flavor, maybe something more tart like raspberry? And it was perfectly executed, crisp shell on the outside, soft flaky layers inside and perfectly smooth dulce de leche cream between the layers. Lest ye abandon all hope.

Dulce de Leche Cronut

Dulce de Leche Cronut Innards

Dominique Ansel

189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
New York, NY 10012

http://dominiqueansel.com/

BUVETTE:

Buvette is a lovely little (and I mean little) bistro style restaurant in the West Village. We always go for their unbelievable Croque Monsieur/Madame and for the best chocolate mousse in the world.

Buvette

Buvette

The menu is fairly small and fairly traditionalist French with croque monsieurs, charcuterie, steak tartare, duck confit rillettes, coq au vin, tartinettes, etc. Portions are somewhat small too so be advised (perhaps that’s French too?). We prefer to come here for breakfast/brunch.

This time we all shared the Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto, which seems small but with the bread it becomes a more substantial meal.

Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Demolished Steamed Eggs with Prosciutto

Not substantial enough because we also individually ordered the Salade de Poulet which sounds boring but is actually quite nice. It comes with shredded roasted chicken, green beans, potatoes, butter lettuce and creamy mustard dressing. Probably one of the lightest things you can get at Buvette even with that rich dressing.

Salade de Poulet

Salade de Poulet

The Croques. You truly cannot go wrong with any of them. At most places vegetarian attempts of “real food” are often dismal but here the Croque Forrestier with creamy bechamel sauce and wild mushrooms is as good as the Croque Monsier with prosciutto and the Croque Madame with prosciutto AND an egg. All have gruyere and despite their apparent diminutive size these things are super rich and they pack quite the punch.

Croque Madame

Croque Forrestier with an added Egg

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

Lastly to end you must order the Chocolate Mousse. I  solemnly swear it is the best chocolate mousse I have ever tried. Incredibly rich and chocolate-y and with a texture so dense its almost chewy.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

We sneakily tried to find out what was in it by pretending to have a range of allergy afflictions and self-imposed dietary restrictions from lactose intolerance to keeping kosher in order to find out if there were dairy, eggs, nuts or gelatin in it. Sneaky. And for the record there is no dairy in the mousse itself (not including the whipped cream on top of course) and no gelatin. Hmm.

More to come and please forgive the amount of chipped nail polish in these pictures. Probably should have gone with gel nails.

Buvette

42 Grove St
(between Bedford St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014

http://ilovebuvette.com

Diner en Blanc SD

Having heard of the Diner en Blanc events a couple years ago I considered going to last years for the first time it was happening in SD but ehh was too lazy and ended up not committing. This year we bought tickets fairly early on and I have to say it surpassed my expectations and I will definitely be back next year!

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc started in Paris 25 years ago and now its hosted in cities around the world, everywhere from Quebec to Cote d’Ivoire to Singapore. Basically the premise is that all these people dressed all in white (nicely I might add) bring their own tables, chairs, table decorations and food to a spot. Although mind you, you can also rent tables/chairs from them and purchase a multi-course meal as well if you are not inclined to make your own. After meeting up everyone gets on buses that will take you to an undisclosed location where the thousands of people that participate in these events will set up their tables, chairs and food and have a giant open-air dinner party. They have taken place in the Place Vendôme at Paris and they shut down Rodeo Drive last year for the one in Los Angeles. In SD last year it was at Harbor Island and this year it was in a lovely courtyard in Point Loma.

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

Diner en Blanc SD 2013

The meet up spot was at Balboa Park and when we arrived I was happy I wore a nice white dress because people go all out for this. Floor length dresses, all white suits, parasols, carnival masks, boas…you name it. Apparently there is an award for best-dressed person as well as best-decorated table. Originally I thought this was a more casual affair and so I was glad that I was informed that yes, you have to dress nicely and no, you can’t just eat on a picnic blanket.

So the only downside is having to carry all your stuff everywhere. Its not too bad but we did have some pot de creme desserts that tipped over and made a bit of a mess. As well as I had trouble carrying our table from the car to the bus but I would blame this more on a personal shortcoming of having the upper body strength of an 8 year old.

The bus took us around a bit, going on the freeway and then back off, around downtown, stopping in a random parking lot (psyche) and then finally to Point Loma. Although initially I was unimpressed by the location once we were in the courtyard and everyone was set up it looked beautiful. The courtyard around us also handily sheltered us from the wind so that both girls in skimpier dressing as well as tall flickering candles were well protected.

Napkin waving

Napkin waving

Once tables are set, dinner starts with a napkin waving thing. It was nice chatting to the tables around us and although we were definitely on the younger side of attendees it was cool to have a good mix of all ages and both couples that came alone and huge groups of people attending together.

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

Our table!

We went with simple but elegant for our table and a bottle of rosé for libations. Also although organizers say you must purchase alcohol from them and not bring your own, EVERYONE brought their own and lots of it. Next year we will definitely be smuggling some more wine in with our food.

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

Crostini with Truffled Ricotta and Mushrooms

For our first course I made crostini with truffled ricottas and mushrooms. When you are cooking you kind of have to keep in mind that all this stuff has to be transported and also that it will most likely be served sort of closer to room temperature, unless you have a nice insulated mode of food transportation like I did not (does a Trader Joe’s bag count? I thought not).

Caeser Salad

Caeser Salad

For the second course I made a caeser salad with caeser-basil dressing. Also known as, I made a caeser dressing and added basil to it because why not.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

Roast Chicken with Potatoes

The entree was roast chicken with Meyer lemon + roasted potatoes. I followed Kenji’s recipe from Serious Eats for a perfect butterflied roast chicken with quick jus. This was awesome. And I roasted the chicken on top of a wire rack with the potatoes underneath so that the chicken spices/juices/fat/everything dripped on the potatoes and they were sooo flavorful. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, dropped them in a pan with cold water + rosemary, Meyer lemons and salt over medium heat until they boiled and then threw them in with the chicken in the oven. They were the best roast potatoes I have ever made. No lie. Sadly not as good served room temperature but will definitely repeat this recipe.

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

Dulce de Leche + Coconut Pudding & Strawberries

For dessert we had dulce de leche + coconut pudding with strawberries. This was also great and I want to make it again but with more coconut and a chocolate sauce.

So after dinner there is dancing and we were thinking of just leaving early because we are the lamest 23 and 25 year olds on the planet and have work really early. But the DJ who was playing mostly oldies throughout the dinner sneakily got people on the dance floor with the Cupid Shuffle and from that went to more upbeat music. By the end of the night people were dancing in the fountains, there was a guy running around with a bubble gun and when we snap chatted a picture of the event to a friend she thought we were at Sensation White (the rave).

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Diner en Blanc SD

Being used to going to loud bars/clubs that mostly have just people your age and that play mostly EDM all night it was super fun to dance around to songs with WORDS that everyone knows the lyrics too. It was also great seeing people of all ages dance and even better to see both 20 year olds and 60 year olds dancing inside the fountain!

Fountain Dancing

Fountain Dancing

Bubble Gun

Bubble Gun

We stayed until the very end and of course the very last song they played was Journey. I don’t even have to tell you which one. Great experience and can’t wait to be back next year! Hopefully with leak-proof containers for the dessert and someone else to take up table-carrying duties 🙂

For more info on Diner en Blanc:
http://sandiego.dinerenblanc.info/

URBN

[Edit: This post was updated with new pictures because we went again and pretty much ordered the same gosh darn thing. But took better pictures because the old ones were taken with my Jurassic-era iPhone 4 with a smashed screen. Damn you Barcelona pick pocketers for taking my sister’s phone so that she had to steal my upgrade. And damn you AT&T for your ridiculous early upgrade fees. Anyways]

urbn Pitcher

urbn Pitcher

urbn Pizza

urbn Pizza

If you like your pizzas thin and crispy with a good char and most importantly free with a pitcher of beer, URBN in North Park needs to be on your radar. URBN is owned by the same people as Basic in downtown that also put out crispy, thin Neapolitan style pizzas with yummy toppings and blistery crusts. And while Basic gives out free slices of pizza during happy hour you do have to fight other patrons over the slices while here you get an entire free pizza with a purchase of a pitcher of beer from 5-6pm!

urbn Pitcher + view

urbn Pitcher + View

URBN has an amazing craft beer selection, lots of taps on draft and an extensive bottle collection. Once one of my dining companions inadvertently ordered a $48 dollar bottle of Imperial Russian stout…she swears it was worth every penny though. We were not trying to order a $48 dollar bottle of anything so we went with the brewery that was on special that month so that you can get a discounted price and picked a nice crispy Hefeweizen pitcher for $18 dollars.

urbn Interior

urbn Interior

The interior is nice too, huge with super high ceilings and huge fans. Definitely more of an industrial look but it suits the place and you’ll be hard pressed to not find seating.

Along with pizzas they have some salads and appetizers if you’re not in the mood for pizza. I decided to complement my pizza with a Caprezanella, which is a mix of a panzanella and caprese salad with bread croutons, olives, red onions, fresh mozarella and tomatoes.

Caprezanella

Caprezanella, why yes I did eat all the mozzarella before I took a picture

The small portion is more than suitable for a side and could even pass as a meal if you’re not that hungry. This was simple but tasty and went well with the pizza.

Now for the pizza. You get a free small pizza but the small pizza is actually quite large and we could not even finish it between 2 hungry people. You get 2 toppings free but we added 2 more because we’re greedy people. Topped off with salami (SO GOOD. BETTER THAN PEPPERONI. DO IT.), cherry peppers, garlic and mushrooms this thing was a beauty.

urbn Pizza

urbn Pizza

Slice

Slice

The crust was delicious and my only teensy complaint is that despite loving some good char on pizza crust there was a smidgen too much char but nothing that stopped me from thoroughly enjoying our pizza.

You also get little containers of sea salt, shredded parmesan, oregano and red pepper flakes to liberally apply to your pizza.

Pizza Condiments

Pizza Condiments

Overall a great deal and for a good price. Sadly they include 18% tip on the original price of the meal (i.e. with the price of the pizza included) so it wasn’t quite the deal we were expecting but definitely still a nice happy hour.

CHECK:
Pitcher of Hefeweizen $18
Pizza (free with purchase of pitcher) $0
Caprezanella small $7
Mandatory 18% gratuity for happy hour $7.74
TOTAL: $32.74

URBN Coal Fired Pizza

3085 University Ave, San Diego, California 92104
(619) 255-7300

www.urbnnorthpark.com/

Related links:

Bouchon Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

So naturally after a healthy post I follow up with something on the other end of the scale. My mom got me Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook and having heard really great things about it I was excited to try something. I started off with the TKO cookies and the Nutter Butter’s but thought a more unique thing to share would be the Flan Tart! I slightly adapted it by omitting the apricots and adding a chocolate ganache to the top of it.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Look at that thing. I personally love flan, crème brûlée and all sorts of custard based desserts. This filling isn’t exactly flan per se as it does not include condensed milk which is typical of flan but more of a simple custard based simply on whole milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar. It has a pâte brisée crust and you can use Bouchon Bakery’s recipe or one that you are more familiar with, as long as it fits a 9 inch round pan.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

The recipe’s in Bouchon Bakery are very exact and contain a lot of useful information. If you follow directions closely you will end up with a great product. One of the tips I really liked is to let muffin batter sit for a day as this soaks the flour and produces a more moist final product. Having made countless batches of dry-ish muffins despite vast amounts of oil or buttermilk this might be the clue I’ve been missing all these years! I plan on trying one of the muffin recipes and reporting back here to see how that goes 🙂

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

One important thing to note is that they call for Bird’s Custard Powder for the recipe. Coincidentally had this as I had been to Cost Plus World Market and they had this in their section of international foods a while ago (custard powder is quite popular in the UK). If you don’t have it I looked at the ingredients and it is entirely cornstarch with flavoring and food coloring. So you can most likely sub cornstarch for it and maybe add some extra vanilla. Your final custard might be less yellow but taste should not be too highly affected.

INSTRUCTIONS:

FOR THE PATE BRISEE RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE FLAN TART RECIPE SEE INSIDE THE BOOK HERE

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

INGREDIENTS:

– 8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
– 1/2 cup whole milk or cream

1. Melt the chocolate and milk together over a double boiler or by microwaving for 30 second increments with whisking in between.
2. Spread over the cooled flan tart.

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

Flan Tart with Chocolate Ganache

TIPS:
– As before, if you do not have Bird’s Custard Powder you can order it online, find it at Cost Plus World Market or substitute for cornstarch and extra vanilla flavoring.
– Incorporating coconut in this, whether by subbing in coconut milk or topping with toasted coconut would be quite good.
– Another option is omitting the chocolate ganache and topping with fresh berries.

Slice

Slice

Healthy PB + Chocolate + Banana Smoothie

Since we had a good response to our Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie post we decided to tweak that recipe to make a healthy peanut butter banana chocolate smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

This recipe is the same base as the Healthy Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie but with a few tweaks. This definitely has more of a dessert feel with the chocolate and banana always adds a wonderful creaminess to smoothies. This is definitely a thicker smoothie but even so it only has 174 calories, only a smidgen more than the peanut butter & jelly smoothie!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Banana Hanging Out in the Smoothie

And again the secret to making a healthy peanut butter smoothie is PB2. It’s a powdered peanut butter product that tastes like peanut butter but has almost none of the fat. I bought this once to try and though I do not eat it plain on toast it has become a staple in my pantry and I like adding it to smoothies, stir frys and to my cereal every now and then. To read more about PB2 or buy it click here.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:

Makes one smoothie.

1/2 cup of greek yogurt
1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 banana (this can be frozen for extra creaminess!)
3 tbsp of PB2
1 square of dark chocolate
Sweetener (We used Splenda, but you could use stevia or if you don’t mind the extra calories real sugar, agave, honey etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Add the all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate to the blender and blend until smooth.
2. Once those are blended add the dark chocolate and blend until you have little chunks of dark chocolate throughout. I like these chunks big enough that you can chew on them, if you blend too long it’ll just be chocolate dust.
3. Pour into a cup and drink up. It’s ready!

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Although using half a banana seems impractical remember this smoothie recipe serves one and you can use the other banana half for a smoothie the next day or to add to your cereal. I personally like to only add 1/2 a banana to my morning cereal because 1) you’re saving 50 calories and b) your bananas last longer! I find that that half a banana super thinly sliced is the perfect amount to add to my Kashi Berry Crumble or Fiber One Chocolate cereal. I’m also adding a lot of other things (coconut flakes, chia seeds, raw almonds, etc.) so I don’t need to much of any one topping.

Before

Before

After

After

Anyways. Hope you enjoy the smoothie, I love these guys after work or pre/post-gym. They take 10 seconds to whip up and are quite satisfying without actually being bad for you.

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

Healthy PB Banana & Chocolate Smoothie

TIPS:
– If you prefer milk chocolate or white chocolate go for it. They have a bit more calories than dark but since its only one square I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think the white chocolate would be especially delicious in this.
– Other great additions would be coconut, almonds, or hazelnuts. These would add more texture to the smoothie so its less smooth but if you don’t mind that all would be quite tasty.
– This could also be made with regular milk, soy milk, etc. I just love the taste of almond milk and its extremely low calorie
– You can easily make this vegan by substituting soy or any other non-milk based yogurt for the greek yogurt!

Polite Provisions II

After being quite smitten with Polite Provisions the first time around, we decided to revisit the place during the afternoon to see what it’s like a little earlier in the day. It was definitely less crowded on a Thursday afternoon compared to a weekend night which is when we previously attended. We were able to sit at a table and it was a more casual vibe with most people ordering food from neighboring Soda & Swine next door.

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

As usual the cocktails we got we’re all spot on. The cocktail menu changes a bit everyday but there are a couple constants. They try to incorporate seasonal beverages and change up the cocktails on draft. Below is the cocktail menu for that day:

Polite Provisions Menu

Polite Provisions Menu

On to the libations…

The cocktail I ordered was the Ocean Side. This came with London dry gin, fresh lime, mint, sea salt and celery bitters.

Ocean Side

Ocean Side

I really, really liked this drink. It’s refreshing, not cloyingly sweet, and herbal as well as sweet and savoury at the same time with the sea salt and celery bitters. The celery flavour is noticeable but subtle, it played really well with the mint and lime. I’d reckon if you like gin and tonics and you like Bloody Mary’s you would like this guy.

One of the other drinks we ordered at our table was the Uncle Jalapeno, with Blanco tequila, jalapeno, and T-Bone’s pineapple soda.

Uncle Jalapeno

Uncle Jalapeno

I love spicy flavors in drinks like the habanero infused beer Ballast Point does or the jalapeno infused drink at Whisknladle (cannot remember its name right now even though I always order it!). I am not someone who can handle suuuper spicy food so don’t worry if you are wary of that, these are not meant to burn your palate, the peppers just add the slightest zing and more of their flavor than just blunt spice. The pineapple soda tastes like fresh pineapple and complemented the jalapeno and tequila flavors really well, without being too sweet. If you like those Mexican fruit cups with the spices and little limes on them you will love this.

The last drink we had was the Kentucky Buck. This drink was a little sweeter and fruitier but not anything excessive. It has bourbon, fresh lemon, strawberry and ginger beer.

Kentucky Buck

Kentucky Buck

Ok so the best way I can summarize this drink is that it tasted EXACTLY like strawberry fruit roll-ups. IT WAS AWESOME. And other people at our table agreed. Not very bourbon forward and very drinkable. If you’re not a fan of spirit-forward drinks but like fruit roll-ups (and who doesn’t?) you will like this drink.

Overall we had another great experience. Drinks are still all mostly $8 bucks, you are getting such good value for your money. The only $10 dollar drink was the dessert one. Cannot wait to come back yet again and try the punch bowls…

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions
4696 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
politeprovisions.com

PB & BCH Toast

If you are currently at a loss for breakfast we have the simplest recipe for you. It involves no cooking (is toasting cooking?) and it will be ready in about 5 minutes, depending on how fast your slicing skills are.

As much as we would love to have a full breakfast everyday, one rarely finds the time to make rashers of bacon, crispy potatoes and scrambled eggs on weekday mornings. And breakfast is, as most of us are tired of hearing, the most important meal of the day. Although we too are guilty of occasionally skipping breakfast, many studies have shown that people who eat breakfast eat less throughout the whole day. Almost on par with skipping breakfast is having an unsatisfying breakfast. Although many times cereal will do just fine, if you are pressed for time and want something hot you need nothing more than 4 or 5 ingredients.

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

INGREDIENTS:
Loaf of country whole wheat bread (We like Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread)
Peanut butter (we are partial to crunchy but we know this is a controversial topic)
1 banana
Honey
Shredded or flaked coconut (or any other topping of your choice!)
Coconut oil

Directions:
1. Slice some of the bread to your desired thickness.
2. Toast. Spread coconut oil on both sides then pan fry until golden on each side.
3. Spread the peanut butter generously on one side.
4. Slice the banana and layer on top of the peanut butter.
5. Drizzle with honey.
6. Top with coconut flakes.

Should you follow these ridiculously simple (almost to the point of being unnecessary) directions: The toast will be hot, crunchy on the outside, and will smell coconut-y and butter-y at the same time. The peanut butter will begin to melt where it touches the bread and ooze over. The bananas and honey will add sweetness and lastly you’ll have some more texture and flavor from the coconut. So good! This would also be a perfect afternoon snack.

TIPS:
– If you are allergic to coconut you can use butter instead of coconut oil and omit the coconut flakes.
– This would be also delicious with just plain white bread or super dark rye bread.
– This is what the Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread looks like (here).
– Instead of the coconut flakes you could also top this with dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates…), chocolate chips, cinnamon, nuts, or berries!