April 28, 2014

Friend of a Farmer: Breakfast

After a deeply disappointing dinner, I returned to Friend of a Farmer at ABF's request-- he'd had one of the best breakfasts EVER there, he insisted, and I should give it one more chance.

I was meeting up for a weekday breakfast with my friend Jeannie-- she lives a few states away but was in town for a conference. I couldn't pass up the chance to spend some time with her!

We got a cozy two-top in the upstairs area, where I've never sat before. Cute room! It has a fireplace, a country feel, and warm tones all around the open-air layout.

I was really hungry and almost picked a breakfast that came with pancakes, bacon, and more-- but opted not to get that one. I wasn't in the mood to take chances, so I ordered something I love: Eggs Benedict.

The dishes are very bare bones, no frills or even a fruit twist on the side. Mine came with a very small portion, maybe 2 heaping tablespoons, of home fried potatoes. My eggs, however, were perfectly cooked and delicious. The Hollandaise was very light with a bracing lemon kick to it, thin but very flavorful.

Lonely Omelet
Jeannie ordered the Farmer's Omelet, which came with spinach and cheese. She asked for an English muffin on the side instead of home fries (see my dish-she wasn't missing out on much!), so when her omelet arrived, it looked a little sad in the skillet with all that empty space where potatoes would have been. Aesthetics aside, Jeannie enjoyed her omelet!
We both got French press coffee, and this was fantastic. Velvety smooth, rich, and not a hint of burned or bitter flavors. Stellar brew!

The service was wonderful-- our server was friendly and funny, came at the perfect times to check on us, and while he did NOT rush us out of there, he was also quick to bring us back the bill so we could head out for a lovely walk through Manhattan..with a stroll right past nearby fancy-pants Gramercy Park, of course. Prices are also very reasonable (about 20 pp for breakfast and a pot of coffee, including tax & tip).

Friend of a Farmer definitely redeemed themselves in this instance, and I wouldn't hesitate to come back again for breakfast!

Friend of a Farmer

77 Irving Place

New York, NY 10003

(212) 477-2188

April 25, 2014

Food Truck Friday: Moshe's Falafel

The warmer weather has led me to thaw out the Friday Food Truck segment! I realized the other day that the lunch 'hour' had ended a while ago for most people. It was much closer to 3pm and I found that the first few trucks I wanted were all out of food. Denied!

The workers at Moshe still had a good crowd going, their workers were keeping up a friendly banter, and holy moly were their prices low!

I got the 5 falafel with 2 pickles, tahini dipping sauce, and hot sauce for three dollars. THREE. DOLLARS.

These are hands down THE lightest falafel I've ever eaten. They're fluffy, crunchy on the outside, and pretty tasty, too. The tahini and hot sauce go together quite well, but that hot sauce does creep up on you!

I enjoyed the friendly and fast service and would definitely swing by that cart again!
Moshe's Falafel
Corner of 6th Avenue and 46th Street

April 24, 2014

Purina One Cat Cafe: NYC

I don't wait in line if I can help it. Not for Cronuts, not for brunch, not for nightclubs. If there's a line over 20 minutes, I'm on to the next place. This is New York City, for crying out loud! Options abound at every block!

Then came the country's very first cat café to NYC. Apparently, I threw all my standards out the window – in exchange for a few minutes with some cuddly kitty cats. I'd actually been hoping to visit the cat cafe in London, but its opening was delayed until a week or two after our big trip in January (posts on THAT trip coming soon!)

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the line for the cat café wrapping all the way around the building on Bowery. It went pretty quickly at first – moving about 20 feet in about 20 minutes. Then we stood there for a long, long time. All in all, I waited THREE HOURS. I still cannot believe I did that. I had lots of company though, from tourists to locals-- and it wasn't just all ladies, either, despite the many 'cat lady' references I've heard this week. It was actually a very diverse and amiable group of people who just think cats are cool. Ya dig?

 About 30 minutes before I went inside, one of the women working at the café came out and asked us all to keep our visits to 30 minutes. Were they not already asking everyone that?

Inside the café, you can get free coffee and free snacks. They had muffins and cappuccinos and drip coffee when I went in-- all from Brooklyn-based Cafe Grumpy. I had to pass up the final blueberry muffin and go right to the kitty cats. Priorities!

By the time I got inside, the cats of had a long day of tons of attention. Most of them are very chill, sleeping on people's laps or resting on the perches around the room. The cats were all extremely well-behaved and seemed quite at ease, despite all the people (and a multi-person film crew setting up and breaking down all over the place). These cats are clearly very well cared for and look quite healthy and happy. The socializing didn't seem to bother them at all, but there were lots of safe, quiet hiding places for the ones who needed a break. I saw about six in the rotation around the room. I have to say some of my fellow cat lovers could do a better job of sharing the love, but whatever. (I'm looking at you, sofa-hoggers!) You just have to walk up to someone holding a cat and get in on the fun.

If you're going, I don't recommend going alone like I did. It's tough to snag a cat and a place to sit at the same time. I did get to cuddle with Little Miss Valerie for a few minutes – oh man, I was this close to adopting her myself. However, someone already beat me to it. In fact, four of the 16 kittens had been adopted by the end of that day

So how was the food? While I turned down the chance for a muffin, I actually did go back afterwards for a cappuccino. The baristas we're making adorable kitty art in the foam. My "cat'accino" was absolutely fantastic. Smooth, rich coffee from the folks at Cafe Grumpy- and it was free! 

Artsy kitten in the foam!

Hopefully they get a little better about managing the visitors and people won't have to wait so long. 

So it's not the same as cafes in other countries, where the food area & the cats mingle. The areas are very separate, but who cares!?! Kittens!

If you're in NYC and want to go, I do suggest you bring a friend (and/or a book and maybe even a snack) and don't be shy about asking to hold or play with any of the cats- but get there soon! The cafe closes on Sunday, April 27th!

Purina One Cat Cafe

168 Bowery

New York, NY


April 20, 2014

Easter: Lamb Cake

My mom started a tradition years ago- baking an adorable lamb-shaped cake from a mold and decorating it for Easter.

Years ago, I bought a lamb cake mold of my own....and they sat in my kitchen, collecting dust.
I don't know why, but this year I suddenly got the courage/nerve/chutzpah to try to make a lamb cake on my own.

I made the cake with a Martha Stewart pound cake recipe, subbing in almond extract for the vanilla. I felt the pound cake would be sturdy enough to hold its shape and travel well.

The batter all goes in the half of the mold with the lamb's face, so you get the details of the ears and eyes.

Per the instructions from many a fellow blogger, I reinforced the ears and neck with wide bamboo skewers to support the cake, and tied my mold shut with twine, but it wasn't tight enough. When I pulled it from the oven, I saw a lot of batter had leaked.

So my lamb was a little smaller than usual- that's where frosting comes in, right? I made the cake Saturday night and wrapped it tightly in the fridge until Easter morning. Then I got up early and  made a buttercream/cream cheese hybrid frosting. 

I smoothed a crumb coat, or a thin layer of frosting, over the entire lamb and out it back in the fridge for 20 minutes. Then I filled my pastry bag (with small pastry tip) and squiggled it all over the lamb. I was so taken with how easy and cute it was that I couldn't contain my giggling.

I surrounded the cake with shredded coconut colored with green food dye, placed a few Reese's eggs around it (for Spring color, not because I'm confused about animal biology), and off we went to Easter brunch!

The lamb cake got quite a reception when we arrived- it really does have a wow factor! I was also glad to be able to bring one of my family traditions to the table, even if my family couldn't be there in person. 

I was very relieved to find the pound cake was delicious, if maybe just a smidge overcooked. I think I would shorten the cooking time by 5 minutes, and I plan to try a fluffier frosting next time. And there WILL be a next time! I might not even wait until next Easter-this would be a fun cake for anytime in this long-awaited season! Happy Spring!
PS: Here's a link to a pan similar to mine: check it out for yourself! And a link the recipe I used (which I cut in half, and subbed almond extract instead of vanilla): pound cake recipe here.
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