Ole and Steen – I was quite excited when this Danish bakery opened several outposts in New York City. Yet, when the Chef and I went in the Tribeca one for tea and Danish pastries, we were immediately appalled by the sheer ugliness of the place; we felt like we were in the lobby of a midtown office building. However, we were NOT disappointed in the pastries, especially the flaky rhubarb crescent ($4.50). I want to go back and have a breakfast roll with Danish cured ham, gouda and a medium egg ($6.00). Much looks excellent!
Colson Patisserie – I came to the Park Slope bakery after a wonderful class on taking care of my houseplants at Brooklyn Brainery. The pastries here are always immaculate and heavenly. I had something called a Gosette ($4.00?). On the outside you see a boring looking pocket of dough dusted with large sugar chrystals; inside there was an enticing combo of baked apples, pomegranate seeds and chocolate. You never know what’s on offer as baked goods rotate, but that means everything is fresh! I see Colson boasts a morning bun!
Marian Burros Original Plum Torte – This is just to say, I have cooked the plums that were in the ice box, and put them in the Marian Burros Plum Torte, but for over twenty years I have mistakenly called it a “clafoutis.” I have also always layered the crescent-shaped plums or apples on top in artful swirls, not realizing, until I tasted a friend’s Marian Burros Plum Torte, that slicing the fruit into the dough creates both a more moist torte and one the rises a little higher. It’s never too late to learn, in baking and in life!
The Harlem Pie Man – I signed up for the last of the Museum of the City of New York’s “Unexpected Pairings” food series, which was “Bourbon Chai and Sweet Potato Pie.” I had no interest in chai, but I came late in life to loving sweet potato pie. The event featured a panel discussion with Roots Chai owner, Raj Makhija, and the Harlem Pie Man, Clinton Shabazz. Both concoct and cook out of incubator kitchens in Hot Bread Kitchen’s wonderful incubator program, which allow food entrepreneurs to mitigate start-up risk and start their ventures in a community of business owners. I was totally smitten with Clinton Shabazz! What a down-to-earth, humble (pie), humorous man. He started out selling cheesecake, wearing his chef whites and balancing trays of cakes as he walked east to west on 125th St, sometimes landing in court! Before he got access to Hot Bread Kitchen’s shared incubator space, he cooked navy bean pies (!) and cheesecakes in a tiny oven out of his apartment. I like that he admitted he had not liked sweet potato pie at first, which caused some consternation among his family and friends, some of whom said, “You’re black! How can you not like sweet potato pie?” Shabazz hails from North Carolina, and he said there was much disagreement among regions as to which area produces the best, most authentic pie. All I know is the little sample he gave us was redolent of cinnamon, cloves and the crust was flaky. You can find his pies in Whole Foods.
Gunk Haus – Really this Bavarian restaurant at the foot of the Shawangunk mountains deserves an entire post, and, indeed, I flirt with the idea of writing an entire exploration and paean to “German Hudson Valley,” but this mention will do for now. This attractive arts and crafts style restaurant has a patio with the best view ever, especially on a sunny day, overlooking apple orchards nearby and the dramatic escarpments of the Shawangunks in the distance. While their spaetzle, wurst and goulash are all yummy, there are two unusual appetizers that are “Must Tries.” The stuffed mushrooms with Brie cheese and bourbon-bacon jam ($9). Apparently the jam takes an entire day to make, and it melds perfectly with the gooey Brie and hot, plump mushroom cap. The other is not always available, so get it when you can: fried pickled herring with beet and caper salad and horseradish sour cream—sounds weird but it works surprisingly well ($9.00). Another wonderful snack is the homemade pretzel with obatzda, a Bavarian cheese delicacy that is two parts soft aged cheese (like Camembert) and 1/3 butter, spiced with sweet and hot paprika ($4.00).
Kosiner Brother’s Fry Shack – New Paltz, with nearby Gunk Haus, is always our lunch stop when going further upstate to Saugerties. Coming back through New Paltz, I was peckish, and we walked through the kitschy Water Street Market, which doesn’t have the hippy-dippy appeal of New Paltz’s Main Street. However, it does have Kosiner Brothers Fry shack that serves fries that rival the best of the Belgian fry spots, like Macdougal street’s Pommes Frites or the now shuttered Frit Côte, which I still mourn. Fries are $3.50 small/$5.00 medium/$7.00 large. My daughter and I shared a medium with garlic aioli sauce. There are 21 sauces on offer, including espresso BBQ and bacon aioli!
Santiago’s Beer Garden – This is one of the Chef’s finds from his East Harlem walks. Over the summer he and our friend Jay enjoyed a dinner at this friendly, attractive Dominican beer garden. The Chef had roasted pernil that came with maduras and excellent rice, and he and Jay shared some empanadas ($2.50/ea.)that came with a creamy sauce. The Chef appreciated the wide selection of craft beers. The garden is open all year round, with a translucent covering overhead and heat lamps to keep you warm in cold weather.