Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two New Foodie Items I Love


Image by Mister Sister

Just the other day while I was picking out some goodies for my friend Kimberly's birthday at Mackenzi's Lockwood, I happened upon a few interesting foodie items I wanted to highlight here.  Known to carry some interesting artisanal provisions as well as foodie literature, I highly recommend checking these out or buying them as gifts for your food obsessed friends. 

Mister Sister Fudge - Sold in cute little individually wrapped pieces, the Mister Sister fudge comes from a local vegan bakery with the same name.  Some of the products are also gluten free, which is great and they're a real treat.  This one especially made me swoon, as it tastes more like a fudgy brownie rather than traditional fudge.  It's incredibly rich and the chocolate is made of high quality dark cocoa, which is delectable.  I'd highly recommend this for serious choco fans.

Gluten is my Bitch book - The fun title of this book captured my attention right away and the cover was eye catching as well.  In addition to documenting the sometimes slim options of the gluten intolerant, the book is told in a fun, tongue-in-cheek way and even contains some recipes for good measure (pun intended).

Lockwood Shop - 32-15 33rd Street, Astoria NY 11106
718.626.6030
N/Q Train to Broadway
lockwoodshop.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dough Flatiron Brings Home the Doughnuts





Ever since I've tried Dough Doughnuts at Everyman Espresso, I've been obsessed with finding the original source and trying new flavors.  It's great that they distribute all over the city, but the selection at these other locations is always limited, so I was eager to see what I can find at the legitimate home of Dough.

Atmosphere
:
Hailing from Brooklyn, I didn't have time to hit the original Dough up on a weekday so I settled for the next best thing - it's newly opened Flatiron location.  Situated on 19th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue, it's easy to get to and strategically stands out as the only sweet shop on the block.


Because I got there before 8 a.m. on a weekday, it wasn't yet crowded and the doughnuts couldn't be fresher.  I loved the look and feel of this place with its long communal table up front, a few chairs and a fun display of the almighty Hibiscus doughnut underneath a pretty glass jar.  The image connotes something sacred and special, which is just what you'll find here.  I can tell you that this week's visit won't be my last, as I'm determined to try most of the flavors offered.


Doughnuts
:
While the choices were a little overwhelming, I decided on two doughnuts, which I later shared with Angela.

Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel - The fact that they wrapped this doughnut in its own plastic covering said something to me, and that was that it would get messy.  True that, as the chocolate ganache was all over our fingers in no time, which I can't say I minded.  Although I simply loved the dark chocolate frosting, speckled with flecks of delicate sea salt, the best part was the actual doughnut, which was soft, chewy and incredibly airy.  Angela said it best when she called it really "doughy," living up to its namesake.

Dulce de Leche - This flavor is always a favorite of mine, so I wanted to see how it would measure up at Dough.  While it was tasty, it didn't stand a chance next to the chocolate sea salt caramel, as the topping was on the drier side and the doughnut overall wasn't as luscious.  Angela agreed with my assessment as well, so I know it wasn't just me.

Service and Cost:
Since I was the only person in the shop at the time, I was helped right away by the nice folks who worked there.  While they were perfectly cordial, there wasn't anything special or personal about the service I'd like to remark on here.

Costs are very reasonable for such delectable, gourmet doughnuts at just $2.75 a pop.  Needless to say, I highly recommend!

3 Mmmms

Dough - 14 West 19th Street, New York NY 10011
F/M to 14th Street
doughbrooklyn.com

Monday, October 20, 2014

Trying Rose & Joe's Sicilian Pizza



Loving to visit Rose & Joe's Bakery for their breads and sweet things, I'm not too proud to admit that I've never yet tried their pizza.  Very well known in foodie circles in Astoria, this pizza's reputation precedes itself in that it's supposed to be really classic and top notch.  As I found myself near Ditmars on Saturday, I decided to stop in and try it.

Rose & Joe's Sicilian Pizza - For those of you not familiar with the layout of Rose & Joe's Bakery, the pizza counter is situated all the way in the back.  I like that the pies are made fresh and you can even get a sneak peek of the large industrial sized ovens they use in the back of the space.

I chose the spinach Sicilian slice that you see above, but they have a lot of others you can choose from.  The crust was super thin, crunchy and the spinach was also a little crispy on the edges.  I like the homemade tomato sauce, which wasn't too sharp and acidy and overall created nice flavor balance.  The temperature of the pizza was the only thing I didn't love, as it wasn't hot enough.  I think the flavors would've shined that much more if it was a few degrees warmer and in retrospect, I should've asked them to heat it up longer.

Service and Cost:
Since this is still a somewhat undiscovered feature of the bakery (only true locals know about it), I got in and out of there in about 10 minutes.  Eating my pizza in the shop at the front counter was nice, as I got to watch the busy goings-on of 31st street while I devoured.

Costs are wallet friendly at just $3.25 per slice.

2.5 Mmmms

Rose and Joe's Italian Bakery - 22-40 31st Street, Astoria NY 11105
718.721.9422
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop) 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Astoria Gets Ready for Halloween with Delicious Sweet Things




With just two weeks away, Halloween is quickly creeping in, and it's fun to see that places in the neighborhood are getting ready.  While on a stroll through 30th Avenue and Ditmars, I noticed a few awesome Halloweeny things that caught my attention.  Make sure you check out these creepy, scary and beautiful windows and pop in for a treat.

Leli's Bakery - The best Halloween window I've seen so far is at Leli's with their creepy crawler cakes that you see above.  Not only are these creative and colorful, they exemplify amazing pastry and fondant work.  Aside from these impressive cakes, they also have Halloween themed cookies, cupcakes and other yums.  35-14 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.8090

La Guli Pastry Shop - On my way to get a haircut yesterday, I noticed the beautiful Halloween desserts in their window, including fondant cakes, gorgeous marzipan pumpkins and ghosts.  It looks like they have decorative sugar cookies as well, which are simple but always a big win with the kiddies.  19-15 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.728.5612

Martha's Bakery
- While the Halloween decorations are still in the works, there are plenty of pumpkin flavored treats available such as cookies, cupcakes, a pumpkin apple cheesecake, pie and even sheet cake.  Go orange! 36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.545.9737

What other kinds of Halloween treats have caught your eye?

Tacuba - Three Dudes Brunch Out





It's not often that I skip out on a new and interesting meal in Astoria, but Dan definitely one-upped me on this one.  Read and salivate as he brings you the play by play of the new brunch offering at Tacuba Cantina in Astoria.

Today, when I asked your Fooditka where I should go with my buddies for some brunch (yeah, three dudes going to brunch, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) she suggested Tacuba. She then also “suggested” I cover it for the blog. Here goes:


Atmosphere:

Tacuba is a new Mexican cantina that opened on the corner of 35th ave. and 36th st. where 5 Napkin Burger was. In fact, upon entering, I was struck immediately that the layout is exactly the same as it used to be. The d├ęcor is different of course; tequila bottles lined up above the bar instead of whiskey, a few sombreros on the walls, and a more rustic finish give it a Mexican cantina feel, but the interior fixtures are all pretty much the same. The familiarity is actually nice, as I’ve spent many a happy hour in those exact same confines and it’s nice to know I still can, albeit with a different style and flavor.

Food:

I love Mexican food, as I’m mostly gluten-free (yeah, mostly gluten-free, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) and as long as you’re dealing with authentic corn tortillas and chips, it’s like cheating it’s so easy. So as much as I love it, I’m euphorically overjoyed by terrific Mexican food, and gut-wrenchingly devastated by a sub-par effort. I’m also prone to hyperbole.

Drinks - Fortunately for me, the food was delicious. Also fortunately for me, it is happy hour at the bar from 12-8 p.m. on Saturdays, so naturally we sat at the bar - $5.00 drafts, $6.00 sangria and margaritas. Anybody knows that some cerveza goes well with three dudes eating Mexican brunch. Full disclosure, two out of the three dudes got a glass of sangria - also delicious.


Chilaquiles - There is a regular menu and a special brunch menu, and we all ordered from the brunch menu. I got Chilaquiles, but instead of eggs mixed in with all the tortillas and sauce and greens, I got chicken. It was well worth the $3.00 upcharge. The sauce was the perfect amount of tangy and citrus-zesty, the chicken was moist yet lightly charred outside, and the chip layer on the bottom soaked everything up the exact right amount.


Chicken Empanadas, Huevos Rancheros, The Burger - Paul got an order of chicken empanadas, and a plate of Huevos Rancheros that looked pretty awesome and Jamil got the Mexican burger, which also looked great. As we were three dudes eating brunch, we didn’t try anyone else’s food, so I can’t tell you exactly how theirs was, but they both seemed to really enjoy. The empanadas looked incredibly tempting and I would have had one for the sake of the blog, but alas…mostly gluten-free over here.


Service and Cost:

The service was also very good, the bartender was attentive, and the food all came out quickly and hot. With the empanadas, the three mains, one extra basket of chips and salsa, and mmpth-fmmf beers and sangrias, we got out of there for about $30 per person.

So to recap - decent atmosphere, fantastic food, good service, and moderate pricing. I’d have to give it 3 Mmmms.


Tacuba Cantina Mexicana - 35-01 36th Street, Astoria NY 11106
718.786.2727
R Train to Steinway Street or N/Q Train to 36th Avenue
tacubanyc.com

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Fall Cocktail Menu at Mar's Oyster Bar

Image by Mar's Oyster Bar

Keeping my eye on seasonal eats and drinks, I noticed that Mar's Oyster Bar, of my favorite neighborhood joints is featuring a new fall cocktail menu.  You can always count on Mar's to deliver something unique and sophisticated and I think these seasonal cocktails do just that:

The Orchard - Bulleit bourbon, St. Germaine, lemon cinnamon mash, apple cider...$11

Hot Toddy - Irish whiskey, simmering lemon & honey, hot water...$10

The Derby - Dry Curacao, Rye Whiskey, Angostura Bitters...$12

There's also the above pictured Rye Cousteau drink I spotted on Facebook, which is available during Happy Hour for $7. As far as eats go, take a look at some of the recent dishes I've tried that come highly recommended.

Mar's Oyster Bar - 34-21 34th Street, Astoria NY 11106
718.685.2480

N/Q Train to Broadway or R Train to Steinway St
lifeatmars.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

M. Wells Steakhouse Bursts with Juice and Flava





Celebrating our anniversary last week, Dan and I splurged on a special dinner at M.Wells Steakhouse.  I've been dying to try this place ever since it opened, but haven't gotten around to it, so this made for a perfect opportunity.

Atmosphere:

Located on a discreet corner of 43rd Avenue and Crescent Street in LIC, M. Wells Steakhouse isn't the easiest to find, but once you uncover it, you'll be glad.  Occupying an old garage/body shop space, it very much fits the vision that its innovators had for it in that it's unique, a little quirky and very noteworthy.

Once you walk in, you're welcome by a warm vibe and an overall spacious open floor dining room.  I love that you have full view into the kitchen, which puts on display the talented chefs that make all that steak magic happen.  There's a wood fired grill at one side from which delicious smells emanate and where you see women chefs flipping juicy steaks.  It's the ultimate juxtaposition, which breaks every cliche in the proverbial book and I love that.

Food:

The simple yet intriguing menu left us pining for almost everything on it, and we didn't shy away from ordering a little bit of everything.  In the end, I think we ordered too much, but my philosophy is to try it all and then pack the extra for later, which is exactly what we did.

Appetizers - We ordered two appetizers, including a classic Caesar salad as well as duck cooked inside of a pumpkin.  The latter was a clear standout, as it represented everything that I love about fall - deep, rich flavors, seasonal veggies such as the pumpkin and mushrooms.  The duck itself was luscious and juicy and flavored by a rich broth that soaked deep into the crevices of the pumpkin.

Steaks - The main draw is the steak of course, and we each chose something different, Dan deciding to go with a T-Bone and I tried the skirt steak instead.  Both were cooked to a medium rare consistency and had a nice char on the outside from the wood fired grill.  Even though they were generously marbled, I didn't mind and thought this added to the steak's overall tastiness.  While my steak was a lot less low-brow, I preferred my dish, since it also came with other accouterments such as grilled onions, thinly sliced potatoes and chunks of comte cheese.

Side - Even though we didn't need it, we had to get a side of poutine for good measure.  Everything about this was awesome including the hearty gravy, the crispy fries and the slightly melted comte cheese (the same one that was on my skirt steak).

Dessert - The dessert presentation was a thing of beauty, as our waiter came around with an elaborate cart full of goodies and meticulously described each item.  There were some impressive dishes such as Pumpkin Chocolate Charlotte, which feeds 2-4 people and is a whopping $29.

We didn't try that needless to say, but decided on a chocolate whiskey tarte with a cookie crust.  It was phenomenal - chocolatey, caremeley and crunchy on the outside, it was the perfect way to end this memorable meal.

Service and Cost:

Everything about the service at M. Wells was on-point.  From the minute that we walked in and got seated to the bread and water service, to the very end when we received our to go bags, it was all high quality and super professional.  The fact that the service doesn't feel stuffy and pretentious also says a lot about M.Well's excellent management.

Costs are expensive but unsurprising for the uniqueness of this place:

Appetizers - $11-$15
Steaks & Mains - $18-$160
Sides - $8-$15
Dessert - $6-$29

3 Mmmms

M.Wells Steakhouse - 43-15 Crescent Grill, Long Island City NY 11101
718.786.9060
7 Train to 45th Road/Courthouse Square
magasinwells.com

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