July 30, 2012

Woolworth Tower Kitchen

ABF & I met for a mid-week dinner recently, and we popped back into a place that makes its mark on the downtown skyline: The Woolworth Tower, which is also one of America's oldest skyscrapers.

Inside the famed Woolworth Tower building (pop in the lobby of the main building to get a look at the STUNNING marble ceiling) is this fabulous eatery, Woolworth Tower Kitchen, where dishes are well thought out, fresh, and fabulous.

We each started with a drink--the Malbec for me (lovely!) and a dry gin & tonic for ABF. Life in London definitely gave him a new fondness for that drink. Me, I just can't do gin so much.

ABF ordered their Chicken Paillard salad, which is one of their most popular dishes. Arugula, thinly-pounded chicken filets (buried under a pile of greens), sliced green apples, spicy candied pecans, and two lovely slices of brie topping it all. I think this is going to be something one of us orders every time we visit.

I opted for the Cobb salad with grilled chicken. They make it in the chopped style, which normally I don't care for, but these were manageable bites, and not pulverized pieces. The scallion ranch dressing was so good that I asked for an extra serving of it. Yeah, that's right! I don't think I'm ready to start saying I LIKE ranch dressing, but I think I like flavored ranch dressings (chipotle ranch, avocado ranch etc).

Our salads were both quite filling, but we still decided to get dessert. Our server told us that the chocolate mousse cake was really good, so we decided to share that, but we honestly weren't expecting it to be spectacular. And yet it WAS. Deep, rich, decadent chocolate, with a fluffy, almost spongecake-like base and velvety mousse filling--great googaly-moogaly!

Even if you're not in the financial district area, WTK is just a few steps from the R and the 2/3 train. It's the perfect spot for grabbing a bite before or after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (which is our plan once the weather gets nicer)!

(Note: WTK is closed on weekends)

Woolworth Tower Kitchen
The Woolworth Building
9 Barclay Street
New York, NY 10279
(212) 571-2930

July 27, 2012

Foto Friday: My (Surprising?) Weakness!

I'm linking in to Foto Friday, featured on my friend Christy O's blog (visit her here!) Feel free to join in on the fun yourself--just leave a link to your post in my comments and visit the other links, too! And visits to my FB page are always welcome, too!

True, I live in NYC with a worrrrrrrrld of dessert options around me: painstakingly-prepared pastries, luscious layer cakes, cookies and puddings and custards and ice creams-- you name it. And true, I can even bake my OWN damn cake and THAT will be sublime! These treats are all tasty and I enjoy every bite, but when it comes to the plain old sheet cake at D'Agostino's (yes, the grocery store chain in NYC), I am powerless to resist. There is something about the fluffiness of the cake and the killer frosting that sucks me in and has me craving it randomly all year long.

A friend of mine shares this obsession and often has these cakes for her birthday parties. When we worked together, we did our best to make THESE the cakes at office parties (mwah ha haaa). I love this friend and would come to the party anyway, but I won't lie--I definitely put the cake at motivating factor #2!

Damn you, D'Agostino's...why are your cakes so TASTY!?!?!?

Is there a weird, not-homemade dessert or snack that makes you weak in the knees/tastebuds???

July 19, 2012

Guest Post: Polka Dot Cake!

**This is a guest post by my friend Holly P, who has been with me for many of life's moments--good and bad--over the past 8 years or so. She was so happy with the outcome of this dessert that she asked if she could share it on Stuff I Ate! The best part--you don't have to be a Super Baker to pull off this treat!**

Admission: I’m giving this to Lori over 4 months late. But in my defense, this isn’t just an Easter Recipe; it’s fun for ALL SEASONS!

Every year my boyfriend’s family asks me to bring the dessert to Easter dinner. Oh, the pressure! So I spent two weeks scouring blogs and websites for the perfect idea. My challenges:

1. Needed something that would travel well in a car ride for 4 hours.

2. Needed something that I could make two days in advance that wouldn’t dry out or need refrigeration or be difficult in any way.

3. I suck at baking. I love to cook, but baking has never been a strong suit of mine, so I needed something easy.

So, after much searching, I found the delicious answer here!
What could be more adorable? It seemed easy enough to adapt into a spring themed cake, all I needed to do was modify the colors. You could just as easily make a red white and blue cake, or a red and green Christmas cake.

I don’t actually own a cake pop maker, but I do own a mini muffin tin, so I figured I’d try it out. And it worked like a charm! And the end of the day, you don’t need absolutely perfect circles. I bought 2 boxes of cake mix from the store, and prepared just as directed. I poured some batter into 3 separate containers then added drops of food color. I filled the muffin tins just over ½ full and then baked for about 9 minutes (checking regularly w/ a toothpick).

Once they were done baking, let them sit for a minute or two before running a knife along the edge and popping the “muffins” out onto a cooling rack. I let them cool for about 10 minutes before assembling them into the remaining cake batter. In the original blog the chef had taken pains to cut the dots into halves and stick them to the sides and the like, but I didn’t really think it was going to make much of a difference, so I didn’t waste time.

What I found was, as the cake baked, the balls raised to the top. So in hindsight, I would actually try to “glue” some halved balls to the bottom of the pan prior to putting in the remaining batter. I ended up using all 24 cupcakes, and probably should have baked up about 12 more, as there was room for it and would have made it even more colorful.

I then baked my two 8” cake pans for about 20 minutes more, as per the directions on the box. Again, you have to check it with a toothpick to ensure it’s done. After it comes out of the oven, simply slice the tops off of both pans so your cake is nice and even. Flip it out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before attempting to frost.

Use your favorite frosting recipe and decorate for whatever holiday event you are celebrating. I guarantee once you cut into the cake, everyone will be impressed, and nobody will ever know that you aren’t a master baker!

This was simple, easy and actually a lot of fun to construct. Oh, and one last tip, if you aren’t skilled at decorating, you can do what I did and just but something cute like the “peeps” that I got from my local bakery, you don’t need to get all fancy with trying to pipe frosting.

Happy Holidays, whatever colors you use! ~ Holly

July 18, 2012

Lunch at the Library (sort of)

It's Summer Restaurant Week in NYC! Want ideas on where to go for Restaurant Week? Visit the site, or check out some of my previous blog posts!
The New York Public Library has a FREE exhibit that opened this week--which is also the start of NYC's Summer Restaurant Week (this is the 20th year!)-- dedicated to the history of lunch in New York City. I got to take a tour of it last night thanks to a Gothamist invitation, and my coworker CJ came along with me.

From the very origin of the world 'lunch' itself (I'm such a word nerd) to establishment of the 'lunch hour,' yes, THE lunch hour, to inventing metal hot dog carts, NYC was at the head of it all.

Another example of word-nerdness that I enjoyed: this shot of diner slang/jargon!
You can see everything from a restored Automat (now filled with recipes instead of grab-and-go dishes) to an old-school luncheonette soup dispenser.
There's also a vintage Heinz soup machine. Apparently the server behind the counter would open up the can, pour it into the pitcher, and in 2 minutes flat, you had hot, delicious (turtle???) soup!
The exhibit was fascinating, full of historic bits and pieces of our country's story.. from menus touting 35 cent pork chops to an impressive display of old-school metal lunchboxes. You can even listen to immigrants from all over the world share how certain recipes bring a bit of home to you with one bite.
Want to listen to food-themed songs? There's a display for that. :)
(I'm listening to "Ham N Eggs" by A Tribe Called Quest.)
After my coworker CJ & I made our way through the displays, we sat in on a panel that featured (L-R) Zagat guide co-founder Tim Zagat, Andrew P. Haley, author of "Turning the Tables", Rebecca Federman, curator of the exhibit, and well-known chef David Burke. We enjoyed hearing everything from Burke's rise through NYC's restaurants, and how cuisine has changed over the decades to each panel member's memories of dining in NYC.

It's a great display and well worth a visit. Also, did I mention it's free? Who doesn't love free?? Go here for more info on the exhibit, which runs through February 2013..

Lunch Hour NYC

New York Public Library's Steven A. Schwarzman Building (Entrance at Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street)

July 10, 2012

Levain: Cookie Nirvana

If you're in and around NYC, you've no doubt heard the praises heaped upon French bakery outpost Levain Bakery (original store is on the Upper West Side, a Harlem location and another one on Montauk highway out east). You may have heard of them even outside of my fine city, because these are some famous, fabulous treats. Levain's cookies are consistently called some of the best. Want to know why? BECAUSE THEY ARE.

I was lucky enough to have a gracious guest appear on one of the radio shows I produce, and when the host and I expressed our fondness for the chocolate chip cookies made on the premises here, I think the guest took it upon herself to bless us with a delivery straight from Levain. The cookies were STILL WARM when they arrived.

The flagship cookie is the walnut-chocolate chip. Do you see how huge these mounds of cookies are? There are heavy with the richest of ingredients-- no skimpy cookies here! There was an ENTIRE walnut half in mine (you can see it here in the cross-section!) and so much flavor--rich vanilla, melty, buttery chocolate, and fluffy, chewy bits of cookieness.

I also had a few nibbles of the chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips. This, heaven help me, was too rich for me. Maybe with a cold glass of milk I could manage more, but it didn't come close to the nommable cookie that is their walnut/chocolate chip!

There are a lot of 'best of' titles thrown around in this delicious city of mine, but this is one 'best of' I truly believe earns the title. If you're anywhere near a store, line up and try to snag one fresh from the oven..then let me know what you think!

Levain Bakery

167 West 74th Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 874-6080

Check out their website for other locations and online orders!

July 03, 2012

Mi Nidito

We took an off-campus lunch at work today, with tomorrow's Fourth of July making TODAY a half-day--Happy Birthday Eve, America!

Our group went to Mi Nidito (translation: my little nest) on 8th Avenue in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. When I worked in my talk show days, I ordered delivery way too often from this spot. So tasty and so reliable! It's also vegetarian-friendly (no lard in their refried beans, etc), which was good news for at least two people in our party.

The first basket of chips & salsa is free, and there are placards on every table letting you know it's $2.50 a basket after that. You've been warned! The salsa is so delicious that you will likely get a few more--I couldn't get enough of the super-garlicky salsa.
Four of us got there early and we were ravenous, so we ordered the nachos with the meat on the side (as one of us is a vegetarian). These were so cheesy, flavorful, and terrific than I didn't even miss the meat. The meat was good and well-seasoned, but honestly, these nachos didn't need the meat. You can't have lunch at Mi Nidito without having a 'rita, and since it was a half-day, we all ordered a variation on their margaritas (there is truly a mind-warping selection, from flavors, tequila combos, and more).

I stuck with the basic and ordered the Ultimate (first photo in this post), which is a regular 'rita on the rocks with fresh lime juice instead of chemical-y sour mix. Outstanding! One of my coworkers opted for a regular frozen with a splash of strawberry--artsy!

For my entrée, I ordered the chile relleno (stuffed poblano chili pepper) filled with shredded chicken. This has a nice coating of broiled cheese, but was pretty light overall. I love poblano peppers--they taste like thick, meaty, intense pieces of spinach to me. Yum. The salad came with beets (I love beets!) and a tasty citrus dressing, and the beans and rice were okay (no lard in the beans, so they're light, but I'm not a rice fan, so I mostly ignored that).
My coworker CJ (that's her sassy manicure you see in the chips photo) ordered the beef enchilada and said it was scrumptious with a nice kick.
We were pretty stuffed, but we managed to make room for a bite or two of the tres leches cake the manager sent us on the house. It was light, chewy with bits of coconut in it, and the sauce that came with it was super-cinnamon-y deliciousness.
The food was SO good. Yes, it's New York City. It's not like the food in San Antonio or Houston or your typical Tex-Mex havens..but you know what? It's pretty damn tasty. Their lunch specials are reasonable (9.95-10.95), their margaritas are STRONG (1 was plenty for all of us!), and the service is good.
Mi Nidito

852 8th Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 265-0022

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