photo: Cool Haus
At Union Square West: It’s been a very mild winter so far, so it no surprise to see an ice cream truck, Cool Haus, in New York City – with a line, of course. What’s highlighted on the menu, of the artisan ice cream maker? This day, it was an ice cream sandwich with sweet potato & marshmallow swirl gelato between two pumpkin spice cookies and caramel hot chocolate with chocolate blossoms and whipped.
Follow Cool Haus Truck on Twitter: @CoolHaus
One morning on my way to work I spotted the Van Leeuwen truck. Now, I know they have great artisan ice cream (Palm Sugar, Red Currant, Roasted Banana, Earl Grey), but I thought it was odd that they were out so early. When I stopped at the truck, it was then that I realized Van Leeuwen is also a bakery. Along with that great ice cream, the truck also had rich ground coffee and a variety of pastries and cookies. I decided to grab an orange muffin and couple of cookies (chocolate and ginger). If you never had their ice cream, it’s truly something special. Their pastries are on a par with the ice cream. The guy working in the truck told me that they have different pastries each day.
I’m sure when most people think about Spanish food, they think Mexican or just ‘Spanish’ as if it were some generic blend of food. But when you live in New York City, you quickly come to realize the true range of Spanish cuisine. I had dinner at Sazon, a Puerto Rican hot spot, in the middle of TriBeCa. I was surprised at how busy this restaurant was on such an unassuming block in the city. One thing I can say about Sazon, it’s a good time! It seems like on that particular night I was there, every other table was celebrating a birthday, which was serenaded loudly by the staff with great banter from the in-house DJ. By the way, if you’re looking to have a quiet, romantic dinner, this place would not be the best choice. The noise level requires some yelling across the table. I found that a majority of the noise followed through from the bar area, which follows into the main dining area.
When I think of Dominican food my thoughts go straight to the green plantain classic, mangú. When it comes to desserts, it’s one of my favorites, the tres leche cake. While in my old neighborhood in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, I found out there’s more to Dominican desserts than cake at Vladimir Bakeshop. This Dominican bakery gives you all the island flavors in their pastries. One of my favorite tropical fruits is the guava and with items like guava empanadas and guava tres leche cake, I wasn’t disappointed. Some other pastries to mention were the passion fruit bite size cakes – sticky and finger licking good, and the almond cake with its fruit filling. And, of course, Vladimir Bakeshop had the tres leche cakes in a variety of flavors, aside from guava: pineapples, chocolate, chocolate mouse and vanilla. The bakery also has a variety of cake slices, but unfortunately I found the ones I tried lacking any kind of flavor and rather on the bland side. One saving grace for the bakery is its popular homemade hot chocolate – it’s rich and creamy. Vladimir Bakeshop also sells a variety of good, made to order sandwiches served on fresh bread baked on the premises.
Vladimir Bakeshop, 1166 Castle Hill Avenue @ Powell Avenue, 718-684-1166
Photo: Parm NYC
Italian-American home cooking in a small but cozy spot, that’s how to best describe Parm. It’s a popular and, as expected, noisy space but the noise adds to the ambiance in some strange way. The plates are small but the bites are big – there are layers of flavors! I had the chicken parmesan platter with some baked ziti – the most incredibly creamy ziti I’ve ever had. And I topped off the meal with a slice of ice cream cake, more layers – pistachio, strawberry and chocolate, to be exact. The presentation reminded me of a Carvel cake, but one that had to be made by a pastry chef.
Photo: Parma NYC
Parm, 248 Mulberry Street @ Prince Street, http://www.parmnyc.com
Oops! It seems like I left off two doughnut establishments from the November 2011 post, Doughnuts – It’s Not for Breakfast Anymore! And I believe they deserve mentioning. The first is Dough, a new doughnut shop in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn – my old neighborhood. These are not your average-sized doughnuts; they’re about twice the size – but still soft and flaky. These doughnuts all have the same yeast base, but the flavor is brought out through their extraordinary toppings. Some of these flavors include: Hibiscus, Chocolate Chipotle, Passion Fruit, Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue and Blood Orange.
Do you remember those Dunkin’ Donuts commercials from the 1980s? “It’s time to make the doughnuts.” When you think of doughnuts, you usual think of breakfast or a quick snack during the day. But lately doughnuts have moved beyond breakfast…all the way to dessert!
Dunkin Donuts and the once popular Krispy Kreme used to be the only bakeries around that had a doughnuts-only menu all day. Well at least until Dunkin Donuts started serving breakfast sandwiches. There’s still one growingly popular doughnut baker that has a doughnuts-only menu, the Doughnut Plant. Yes, doughnuts from sunrise to sunset. I was having lunch with my sister in the Lower East Side and decided to go check out this infamous baker. It was 2:00 p.m. so I was a little baffled when I finally found the bakery and there was a line out the door! Well, since then they’ve expanded to a second store in Chelsea and yes, at times the line is out the door there too.
I have to admit I prefer the cake doughnuts to the yeast doughnuts at the Doughnut Plant – though the yeast is highly favorable amongst the regular patrons. It’s easy to see why this doughnut spot is so popular. The menu is very creative with flavors like: chocolate chip, salted peanut, pistachio, blackout, tres leches, peanut butter glaze/blackberry jelly and that’s only a few. One thing that I do admire is that the menu is constantly changing – several flavors are seasonal. So when you think you’ve tried them all, no you haven’t. These doughnuts are not only rich, but they’re quite addictive. I’ve seen long lines at the Doughnut Plant at 5:00 p.m.!