Friday, December 21, 2007

New Year's Eve Prix Fixe

New Year's Eve gets very expensive in NYC. Everything has a cover, even the not-so-great bars, while the restaurants all have special menus that cost a lot.

We thought it might be nice to go with friends of ours to River Cafe for a low-key dinner. We were prepared for the $125 (still expensive, but worth it) prix fixe menu but when we called we were shocked to find out that the cost for New Year's was $450 per person, which includes a champagne and caviar cocktail hour. And can you believe it, it's completely booked as of this morning.

If you like seafood, one nice and well-priced option (in my opinion) is the Mermaid Inn. It's not in Brooklyn, but there is a location in the East Village and a new outpost on the Upper West Side. Here is a link to the menu. There are two seatings and the pricing is reflected ($50 & $70 menus).

Zagat offers a round-up of high-end prix fixe options, which does include the Mermaid Inn.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

$7.8 M Penthouse Listing in Clocktower

Check out this Sotheby's listing for a $7.8 million penthouse in the Clock Tower (1 Main St.) building in DUMBO. Pretty nice!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Brooklyn-Made Food & Drink

A thread from Chowhound looks at food and drink native to Brooklyn. Here's the list that readers have come up with so far.

  • McClure's pickles
  • Junior's cheesecake
  • Brooklyn Brewery beer
  • Jacques Torres chocolates/hot chocolate mix
  • Steve's Keylime Pies made in Red Hook
  • Black Hound Cookies
  • Six Point Beers/Ales from Red Hook
  • Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup
  • Baked brand cookies (my add)

Anything missing? What's your favorite?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Interview: Carla's Closets

Whether you've been blessed with a big closet or are like most New Yorker's and your apartment resembles a closet more than anything, stylist Carla Nemiroff of Carla's Closets can help you get organized and make life, well, easier.

In this Q&A, Carla offers some helpful tips and tricks as we head into colder weather and a natural time to purge old clothes and coats to donate them to charity.

What is Carla's Closets all about?

Carla’s Closets is all about making your life easy. I believe that women especially need to make a conscious effort to treat themselves with lots of love, and Carla’s Closets is all about making this happen in a very practical way. The interior and exterior of us are one in the same; if you take care of one, the other feels better. I don’t promote being high maintenance and superficial. I encourage others to keep it simple and practical with moments of pampering and indulgence to create those simple pleasures, like putting on something that makes you feel just that fantastic.

What is the number one mistake people make when organizing their closets?
I think the number one mistake people make when organizing their closets is that they aren’t realistic. Most of us wear maybe 50% of our wardrobes if we’re lucky. There are things in each of our closets that for a number of reasons, we never want to put on. You’ve got to ask yourself why you’re not putting something on, and then decide how to change that, or get rid of it; they’re just clothes at the end of the day.

What advice would you give people as we head into sweater season in terms of organization?
As we enter sweater season it’s really important to take an inventory of what you’ve got in the closet already. Sweaters are the bulkier things in our closets and there’s only so much room for them. Take a count of how many sweaters you’ve got, and then break them down into categories by color and type. This could mean you’ve got 10 black sweaters and one non-black, so guess what? Don’t buy any black sweaters this season! (And maybe think about getting rid of a few you haven’t worn the last few seasons) Or this could mean that you’ve got 6 cruddy “raking the leaves” sweaters, and only 2 nice ones that could pass for a night out to dinner. Be real with what you’ve got and what you really need most. Many of us hold onto cruddy things for too long, and before you know it, that’s all you’ve got going on in your closet. No wonder you feel like a schlep!

When is it time to purge old clothes?
I try to encourage all my clients to purge each spring and fall from their closets. You have to get rid of at least a few things each year to make room for the new things that you are most definitely going to buy, don’t kid yourself. Anything that looks worn or just isn’t doing it for you anymore, lose it.

In terms of your style, what designers or celebrity looks inspire you?
I love classic designs with a twist that are going to fit my body and last me style-wise for a long time to come. A few of my favorites are Theory, Nanette Lepore, Diane Von Furstenburg and Mackage for outerwear.

What are some of your favorite stores?
Department stores will always be my number one when shopping with clients for the simple fact that I can hit so many different departments in the least amount of time. A few affordable chain stores I love are Club Monaco for classic looks and Armani Exchange for funkier pieces.

How can people get in touch to schedule a consultation?
If a client wants to get in touch have a consult they can just email me through my Web site or give me a call directly!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Worst Brooklyn Bartenders

Gridskipper has posted its list of the worst bartenders in Brooklyn as part of what it's calling Mean Week.

DUMBO's Superfine made the list at No. 6. Here's what they had to say:
While many of the bartenders at Superfine are very nice not to mention super fine, there are a few that really go out of their way to not get you a drink. Often, beverage orders are accepted, then the bartenders… go and chat with their friends after belittling you for asking about the drink specials.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Recipe: Holiday Biscotti

I have never made biscotti, but when I saw Giada make her recipe on TV it actually looks quite simple. Below is her recipe from Food Network. I plan to make up a batch this weekend and will let you know how they turn out.

Holiday Biscotti
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
Red and green sugar crystals, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

Friday, November 16, 2007

DOH Shuts Down Bubby's Tribeca for Roaches

I've never been to the Tribeca location and haven't been to the DUMBO outpost in a while, but now I may rethink going back anytime soon.

Bubby's restaurant failed four inspections since June 2007. Inspectors observed evidence of vermin activity at each inspection, including rat activity during two of the inspections. The restaurant was closed following an inspection on 11/14/07. Violations at that time included food contaminated with over 200 live cockroaches in four areas, evidence of rat activity in two areas, fly infestation in four areas, food kept at unsafe temperatures, bare hand contact with ready to eat food and multiple conditions contributing to vermin infestation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Hook: The Embers of Gentrification

A feature story in New York Magazine takes a second look at the state of Red Hook, which for about a year or so has been penned as the next area poised for gentrification thanks to new restaurants, shops and large brands like IKEA and Fairway. But the article offers a healthy dose of the harsh reality.
For the last two years, people in Red Hook have been waiting—some hopefully, some fearfully—for that wave to crash, the hordes to come, the towers to sprout. Weirdly, though, none of that has happened. In fact, for all the heraldic attention, the neighborhood now seems to be going in reverse. The Pioneer bar has shut down. So has the bistro 360 and, just recently, the live-music venue the Hook.
In the past year, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about Red Hook as a great area to make a real estate investment, with apartments like this one regular being profiled in the Saturday Times' "Habitats" and "Living In" sections.

But the NYMag article suggests something interesting:
What if gentrification isn’t self-sustaining after all? What if, in fact, it’s exactly the opposite: a self-extinguishing phenomenon? What if it’s less a flood than a forest fire—wild, yes, out of control, absolutely, but destined to consume itself by burning through the fuel it needs to survive?

Is all hope lost for Red Hook or perhaps did people just over set expectations too quickly? Personally, I think Red Hook has some hidden gems, lovely views and good investment areas. I agree with Ben Schneider of the Good Fork (love that place) who is quoted in the article as saying that Red Hook is "definitely not for everyone." It's hard to get to and has its pros and cons, just like every neighborhood.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Recipe: Tuscan Onion Soup

This onion soup recipe can be made anytime but is suggested as a first course for Thanksgiving and comes courtesy of our family friend Pat (yields 4 servings).

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ lbs. white onions, peeled, thinly sliced
  • ¾ c dry white wine
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 4 cups low salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped, (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried
  • 4 tsps. Finely grated parmesan cheese

Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Add wine; simmer until wine evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add tomato and sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. Transfer 1cup of chicken or vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Add remaining 3 cups broth, chopped prosciutto, and thyme. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes to blend flavors.

Ladle soup into bowls and top each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Round-up: Links from the Blogosphere

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Red Hook Dive Moonshine Cited for Violations

Ever since we saw Anthony Bourdain visit Moonshine on his show No Reservations, we've always been meaning to go. Two of our best friends go all the time; it's down the block from one of them in Red Hook over near Wolcott St. Well we finally had the chance to go last weekend and I've already been plotting my next visit and telling anyone who would listen about how much fun we had.

Moonshine is the kind of place everyone wants at the end of their block with its casual atmosphere, inexpensive drinks, quality entertainment (Ms Pac Man, Photohunt, pool table, Buck Hunter and a juke box) and friendly service. They also have copious amounts of board games, including some of my favorites like Jenga and Connect Four (totally reminds me of the bar in Boston where I met my husband). But some of the things that differentiate this bar from others -- the bar's dog, opportunity to grill and chill your own meat in the back -- are apparently health code violations, according to The New York Times.

The bar's Web site now has the following posted in its BYOM section: "It is with great regret that we must announce the closing of the grills. The NYC Department of Health will not allow us to offer the grills to the public and therefore we have removed them from the premises. Feel free to BYOF...Bring Your Own Food."

What the NYT article so accurately points out is that some of these "violations" are just ridiculous and unavoidable. Ok, mice droppings... I get it. Fruit flies, yes gross, but who doesn't have fruit flies? I had flies in my sake at Nobu. Citations for bare-hand lime contact is just ridiculous.
A male worker observed having bare-hand contact with one slice of ready-to-eat lime while placing on top of beer bottle for patron in bar,” the citation, dated Oct. 9, states. Bare-hand contact? How else is a bartender supposed to get a ready-to-eat lime slice into a bottle of Corona for a patron? According to the health department, there are two solutions. Plastic gloves or tongs. In other words, every time a bartender in New York City puts a lime slice in that Corona with bare hands, he or she is breaking the law.

What do you think? I know I'll probably be back for more ...

317 Columbia St.
Red Hook Brooklyn

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Recipe: Apple Corn Bread-Stuffed Pork Loin

An oldie, but goodie from Cooking Light. I have been collecting recipes over the years and recently made this one again after having forgotten about it. My only suggestion would be to omit the "sauce," which is inedible. Otherwise, the dish is fantastic for a dinner party or small group of friends.

Apple and Corn Bread-Stuffed Pork Loin
The pork loin is stuffed with and baked atop apples. The apple wedges that the pork cooks over are discarded, but they contribute lots of flavor. The double-butterfly method used to flatten the pork for stuffing creates an attractive pinwheel pattern, evident when the pork is sliced.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1 1/2 cups corn bread stuffing mix (such as Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 1/3 cups apple juice or cider, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 (4-pound) boneless center-cut pork loin roast, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  1. Preheat oven to 450°
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add diced apple; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Place apple mixture in a large bowl, and cool slightly. Stir in the stuffing mix, 1/3 cup juice, 1/2 teaspoon sage, and egg; set aside.
  3. Starting off-center, slice pork lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open butterflied portions, laying pork flat. Turning knife blade parallel to surface of cutting board, slice larger portion of pork in half horizontally, cutting to, but not through, other side; open flat. Place plastic wrap over pork; pound to 1-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Spread stuffing over pork, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around outside edges. Roll up pork, jelly-roll fashion, starting with a long side. Secure at 2-inch intervals with twine. Combine 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon sage, and 1 teaspoon salt; rub over pork.
  5. Arrange apple wedges in a single layer in bottom of a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; place pork on apples. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° (do not remove the pork from oven). Bake an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°. Remove pork from pan; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Discard apple wedges.
  6. (This is what I omit: Combine 1 cup juice, cornstarch, and broth in a small saucepan; stir with a whisk. Bring broth mixture to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.)

Yield: 12 servings

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Review: Frankie's 457

Last night, we went with another couple to Frankie's 457 in Carroll Gardens. I had never been to that end of Court Street and anticipate I'll be back soon for more. The cozy atmosphere was a perfect complement to the cooler weather last night. The inside of the restaurant had exposed brick walls and a tin ceiling and wall.

We didn't have a reservation, but had a drink at the bar and it was only a short wait for a table. I would definitely recommend going as a party of four as there are some very small cramped tables of 2 in the front that seem less desirable than the other options.

After about 15-20 minutes, we were led to our table. When the host took us to the back door and outside I was very worried for a second, but we were taken to another structure in the back, which was almost like an old farmhouse inside. Brick walls and contemporary soft lighting filled the room and I felt instantly at home. This area would be fantastic for a small wedding reception, anniversary party or something of the like.

The menu was broken into several sections, including salads, sandwiches and specials (entrees), and a back-side with cheeses and meats. We all decided to get something different so we could taste a bit of everything. We ordered the chef's choice antipasti, roasted spicy eggplant on crostini and then we tried four entrees: squash and yam ravioli, sweet sausage roasted red peppers and onions over polenta, homemade spaghetti over mushrooms and homemade cavetelli with spicy sausage and brown butter.

My husband's pick -- the sweet sausage and polenta -- was the clear favorite and I would order it the next time for sure. All of ours were very good, but his was outstanding. The wine selection was also very good although I can't remember which bottle we shared.

There was ample street parking, but the restaurant is close to the F & G at Carroll Street. The bill for four with a bottle of wine and other drinks was very reasonable.

457 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (718) 403-0033

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blue Ribbon Opens at Columbus Circle

Zagat reports on the new Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill opening in Midtown:
Located inside 6 Columbus, Jason Pomeranc's new hotel across from the Time Warner Center, it will give area sushi fans a more affordable alternative to the $400 prix fixe at nearby Masa. Accessible via the hotel's lobby, it features a front bar that's already open for business, plus a den-like dining room that's all warm slatted wood. 6 Columbus Circle; 212-397-0404

Happy Halloween!

Brooklyn, NY
Originally uploaded by URBAN ENVY, NYC
I came across this very nice photo stream of Halloween-inspired Brooklyn brownstones. A real diamond in the rough amid the hundreds of drunk Halloween party pics on Flickr.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Recipe: Fiber One Muffins

Sorry these Monday recipe features haven't been very regular. On that note, here's a heart healthy recipe that won't pack on the pounds, courtesy of my friend Stephanie.

Fiber One Muffins

  • 1 cup Fiber One Bran Cereal (the strands not the flakes)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (option to substitute olive oil)
  • 2 containers (6 oz each) plain fat-free yogurt, such as FAGE
  • ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (or splenda)
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fruit, such as blueberries, apples, strawberries or banana
Optional ingredients: Cinnamon, raisins and/or protein powder, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F
2. Grease bottom of muffin cups or use paper baking cups.
3. Crush cereal
4. In mixing bowl, combine egg whites, oil, & yogurt. Stir in cereal and remaining ingreds.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned

Best of New York Dining from amNY

amNY offers its list of the top dining spots and bars in New York. I was pleased to see that Sushi of Gari was named "best sushi."

Venues are organized by the usuals, such as "best burger," "best sushi," "best ice cream," in addition to "best place to be seen," "kid friendly" and "best place to take out-of-towners." I haven't been to all of the places they included and probably would have made different picks.

Local Brooklyn spots were featured, including: Barcade as "best bar to play games," Freddy's Bar & Backroom in Prospect Heights as "best dive" and L&B Spumoni Gardens as "best pizza."

Follow-up Knitting Post: Brooklyn General Store

On Sunday, my friend took me to Brooklyn General Store on Union St in Carroll Gardens. They also have a wide selection of materials and instructional courses. Although what I learned at Knit New York was invaluable, it appears that you get more bang for your buck in Brooklyn.

I also found some lovely little decorative buttons - some in great animal shapes - to incorporate into my knitting products. They also feature a "pattern of the month" online to give customers new project ideas. Here is a link to their blog.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Knitting Rocks

Learning to knit has been a line item on my to-do list for many years. I still have knitting supplies and failed projects that I purchased in Boston when I lived there more than three years ago. I learned to knit from my grandma when I was very young, but the intricacies of casting on and off have left my memory banks and I would love to move beyond the basic stitch.

I finally decided it was time to learn how to knit properly so that I could actually finish a project and cross that item off my list. So yesterday I took a "Knitting 101" class at a fantastic place called Knit New York on 14th street right off Second Avenue.

The class is small (4 people, 2 teachers) so you get 1:1 instruction and the fee includes everything you need -- supplies and instruction -- to knit a hat. It's the kind of place you want to hang out at after work and on lazy rainy days (well at least I do!). Everyone was knowledgeable, friendly and nice -- all-in-all a great vibe.

They have an expresso bar and a nice selection of beverages and penny candy for sale, with several seating areas. The walls are lined with yarn in all colors and textures, while impressive finished projects sit folded on shelves and hanging on racks -- all very inspirational.

I would love a place like this in DUMBO (and I think it would do really well), but I found that there are some great places in Brooklyn that offer knitting supplies, some with classes. But I would highly recommend Knit New York as it's a casual environment so there's no pressure!

Here's a link to a Web site that offers a round-up of NYC Knitting shops and resources.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catch Some Burlesque in Brooklyn

This Saturday, October 27 head on down to The Hook (yes, in Red Hook) for a night of music, entertainment (Burlesque!), carnival booths and burgers. Called the The Death of Astroland, doors open at @ 8 p.m. and the venue is on 18 Commerce St., b/t Richards & Columbia St., Red Hook (718-797-3007).

Burlesque shows are great fun, although I don't care for the Blue Bunny (he was mean to my friend on her bachelorette). A cool chic I met who works at No Idea Bar is also with a burlesque team called Lady Rizo and the Assettes. Next week on Halloween, starting at 9 p.m. they will be performing at the Brooklyn Lyceum as part of the NIGHT OF THE CONEY ISLAND DEAD (I sense a theme?).

Please Don't Judge Me: I Watch Gossip Girl

Creating Gossip Girl was the least the CW could do after taking away my beloved Veronica Mars. Luckily, Kristen Bell has gone on to narrate Gossip Girl and take on the role of Elle, a new character on Heroes with an electric personality. Surprisingly the show's ratings have taken a dip when it just started to get good?!

Anyway, I had to share an excerpt from, which does a hilarious (and spot-on) write-up of Gossip Girl every Thursday offering points (+/-) based on the believability of each episode. Thought this portion was especially relevant regarding the ongoing discussion in the blogosphere about how Gossip Girls continues to use Brooklyn as its backdrop for what is supposed to be the lush, exclusive UES:
When Dan blows off Vanessa, she says he can make up for it by buying her "pierogies at Veselka." True, pierogies will right most wrongs, but they live in Williamsburg, so why deal with a weekend L when they can just go to Kasia's? Yet Vanessa somehow mysteriously manages to make it all the way into the East Village and then to Billyburg to get to Dan's house (which we all know is in Dumbo) before he gets home. Don't tell us bitch took a cab. She wears scarves in warm weather! She is not a girl who ponies up for the yellow chariot. Minus 2

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Brooklyn Cupcakes

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that cupcakes have made a real come-back in the last few years thanks to bakeries like Magnolia, Crumbs and Buttercup. (Artie Lange from Howard Stern even has his own cupcake at Crumbs.) No longer are these trendy, bite-sized (sometimes 5-8 bites worth) of sugary deliciousness reserved for birthdays alone.

For work birthdays, we used to get to order from LES favorite Sugar Sweet Sunshine, but now we make them ourselves to show off the domestic goddess inside. But I really love the cake portion of the cupcakes from Magnolia as they are closer to a biscuit in consistency and texture, than a cake. But who wants to wait on that line unless you have someone from out of town coming to visit?

That's why a posting on a blog devoted to cupcakes caught my eye. It spotlights a Williamsburg bakery called Kumquat. The tiny cupcakes look delicious. From their Web site:
Keavy MacPherson has been making cupcakes from scratch, for her friends, for years. Word of mouth quickly spread about her delicious mini-cupcakes and catering orders started piling up. For the past few months she's been selling her delicious mini's underground to anyone who's heard about them, but now they're available to all.
Still I'd love cupcakes in DUMBO. I saw some good looking homemade ones at Forager's. The same blog mentioned above gives high marks to the cupcakes from Almondine. I also came across an old post in Gothamist about a cupcake bake-off last April at Brooklyn Kitchen. I will have to attend next year's event!

Anyone had cupcakes from Brooklyn that they love? Tell me!

If you are feeling adventurous, try to make the famous vanilla Magnolia cupcakes yourself, recipe courtesy of Food Network. Or, if you're not up to making cupcakes from scratch, my favorite "fake-out" is to buy a box strawberry cake mix and then frost with vanilla confetti icing.

* 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Buttercream, recipe follows

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
* Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
* In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
* In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
* Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
* Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
* Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
* Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
* Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream:
The vanilla buttercream used at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: enough for 2 dozen cupcakes or 1 (9-inch) layer cake.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Meet the Ladies Behind DUMBO's Nylon Cooks

When I heard about Nylon Cooks a new venture started by local DUMBO chefs Lindsay Broder and Kristen Clay, I was definitely interested in learning more. I can certainly relate as someone who loves to cook but is short on time. The following Q&A offers insight into the thinking behind Nylon Cooks and why you should give it a try.

Q: Why did you decide to start Nylon Cooks?
A: We started Nylon Cooks because we wanted to improve the in-home dining experience for busy New York City dwellers. We give our customers an alternative to typical take-out by offering them pre-prepared meals with carefully selected ingredients.

Q: Is there anything behind the name of your company?
A: We get that question a lot! Kristen is from England and Lindsay is from New York. Ny=New York, Lon=London. Nylon Cooks reflects who we are and what we do!

Q: How does it work?
A: We offer a selective menu of pre-prepared entrees, side dishes and soups. We also offer a children’s menu of healthy alternatives to your kids’ favorite meals. We schedule deliveries twice a week. Meals arrive in oven-proof packaging with heating instructions. It’s as simple as turning on the oven, eating a delicious dinner and throwing away the container. No pots or pans required!

Q: Aside from the fact you live in DUMBO, why target DUMBO?
A: As we were planning Nylon Cooks we kept hearing from our neighbors that they struggle with putting dinner on the table each night. They don't have the time to cook a full meal and they find the options for take-out to be limiting. That's where we come in!

Q: What's your most popular dish?
A: Our signature Lasagna has been very popular, but we've been getting great feedback on all our dishes!

Q: Do you take special requests, for example if someone has food allergies?

A: Since we are a startup company and it's just the two of us we aren't able to accommodate such requests at this time.

Q: Do you see Nylon Cooks expanding to become a catering service one day?
A: We have aspirations to expand Nylon Cooks to other areas of the city and we hope that our customers will see the value in ordering Nylon Cooks in larger quantities for holiday dinners or for their dinner parties.

Q: Why should people choose Nylon Cooks over say the prepared food from Forager's, ready-to-cook meals from Fresh Direct or Busy Chefs in Brooklyn Heights?
A: Our food is not about reheating. They are not prepared meals. They are pre-prepared. We've done extensive testing on our recipes and figured out to what point each dish should be cooked in order to make sure that when it comes out of your oven that it tastes as if we've just prepared it for you in your own kitchen. And the best part is no pots or pans to clean up!

Q: How much does it cost?
A: Our entrees range from $12-$15 and our sides $6.50-$7.50. Our kids entrees are $7.50-$8.00. A pint of soup is $5.50 and a quart of soup is $10.00.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Triple Celebrity Sighting at Balthazar in SOHO

We were with my parents today having lunch at Balthazar today in SOHO and experienced a triple celebrity sighting. I never see celebrities so I was pretty excited.

Bill Gates and Bono were eating lunch together with another woman (likely Melinda, although I don't know the face). Recently Gates has been out talking about his latest effort: to end malaria. So it makes sense to see him talking to Bono, who is also known for lending his celebrity status for philanthropic efforts in Africa. Bill was very casual (disheveled hair, sweater), almost undetectable without Bono at his side.

Sitting next to me was Sara Moulton, editor of Gourmet Magazine and former host of Sara's Secrets on Food Network. She said she's left the Food Network and going to PBS. Her new show starts in the spring. She was eating lunch with her daughter.

I'm huge U2 fan and work in technology, so the Bono/Gates combo was very exciting, but I think meeting Sara was cooler. I love her show and am glad to hear the the opportunity to teach people new things about cooking -- which is the essence of her show -- is the most important thing to her. She was very down to earth.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brooklyn Fashion Week(end)

Brooklyn Fashion Weekend kicks off today in DUMBO.

Brooklyn Fashion Week{end} made its debut in May 2006. The event was created by the non-profit Brooklyn Style Foundation, which was founded as an incubator for emerging design.

This season's theme is CIRCUS COUTURE (um, what is that? I am kind of scared) and will feature the Spring 2008 Collections of 21 emerging designers hand-picked by The BK Style Foundation.

The event is free, but you still need a ticket for admission. Get one here. However the site notes that once the venue reaches capacity, people will be turned away and invited to come back the following day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What About the F? reports that the MTA plans to expand service on the L subway line, adding 23 new round-trip runs on weekdays and 30+ on weekends. The expanded services is expected to cost about $2.6 million a year.

Blue Ribbon General Store to Debut in Boerum Hill

From a press release today:

Blue Ribbon General Store, an urban general store for a well-lived life, today announced its opening in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood. Combining the charm of a country general store with the sophistication of a modern city lifestyle, the store features a unique assortment of home accessories and gift items for kids, pets and adults that represent the best of what life has to offer, all under one colorful and cozy roof.

365 State Street (corner of State and Bond)

Red Hook Bullies Attack at PS 27

The story about a first grader falling fate to two 14-year old Red Hook bullies at P.S. 27 has been circling the airwaves. We all know kids can be mean -- trust me, I know -- but who ties masking tape around a poor little boy like a mummy and then threatens to toss him down the stairs?

This news has ignited a debate about whether or not children in such different age groups should be allowed to go to school in the same facility. For Red Hook families, there doesn't appear to be much of a choice, but overall it's a bad idea in my opinion. The article notes that only six of the city's public schools run from kindergarten through 12th grades, not including charter schools.

I went to Montessori school, a method of teaching that allows mixed age groups and focuses on "adapting the child's learning environment to his developmental level, and of the role of physical activity in absorbing academic concepts and practical skills." However, this learning environment is usually limited to pre-school and elementary grade levels.

What do you think?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fireworks Last Night On Par with Macy's

Living in DUMBO, we are often lucky enough to see fireworks on any given night over the harbor. But last night's show was like Macy's 4th of July and I couldn't keep my eyes off the colored lights above downtown Manhattan.

According to McBrooklyn, the show was for the Deepavali Festival. More on the show from Brooklyn Heights Blog.

I took a short video of the fireworks, which I'll try to upload from home later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Shopping Guide: New York

Home & Garden offers a local New York shopping guide that aims to highlight smaller, unique and boutique establishments. While chain stores offer decor on the cheap, some of these places look like amazing places to at least window shop for ideas and to score some great design elements that will make a statement. Also included are some good food finds.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Gossip Girl Filming Tonight in DUMBO

CW's Gossip Girl will be be filming down by Starbucks and West Elm on Front Street in DUMBO at about 8 pm tonight. As other bloggers have pointed out, Gossip Girl seems to do most of its filming in Brooklyn.

Other bloggers agree it's ironic the show is using Brooklyn as its backdrop to give viewers and eye into the elite lifestyle of the upper east side, whereas Brooklyn is portrayed as a lower class suburb on the show. For example, the blossoming freshman "Jenny" and her brother "Dan" (the blond, Serena's, love interest) are supposed to live in a poorer Brooklyn hood, but they live in a schnazzy loft that appears to be in DUMBO.

Apple Crisp

I know I should be thankful for the warm weather and extended summer into October, but I can't help but desire a chill in the air and a fall treat like Apple Crisp.

Blackberry and Apple Crisp with Nut Topping

* 3 red apples—peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
* 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (feel free to sub for blueberries or another berry)
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

* 1/3 cup rolled oats
* 1/3 cup whole almonds and pecans, coarsely chopped
* 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 3 tablespoons butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish. In a bowl, toss the apples with the blackberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Scrape the filling into the baking dish.

2. In a bowl, toss the oats with the remaining » cup of flour and the nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub it in thoroughly. Sprinkle the topping over the filling and bake for 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the top- ping is browned. Let the crisp cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Definition: Red Eye

I have been recently blessed with several free Starbucks coffee cards. While in line, I have overheard many people ordering a drink called a red eye, which is not on the menu. Given that I understand the meaning of the term from airplane related adventures, I assumed this had to be a super strong espresso drink.

I came across several good definitions, one of which was hilarious and I had to share:

Red Eye (n.) -- Someone who can 'drink' (i.e., choke down) a Red Eye deserves your respect. This drink is basically a cup of coffee (already well caffeinated) with either one, two, or three espresso shots added for good measure. People that drink these are either clinically dead and need resurrection, or are writing a doctoral thesis or something equally mind-numbing. You may want to think twice before ordering this drink.

The drink has also been defined by Wikipedia. Apparently, the red eye is the equivalent of Dunkin Donuts' Turbo drink, if that is even still available.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

DUMBO Arts Festival 07

DUMBO Arts Festival 07
Originally uploaded by blackoutny
I missed this on Saturday, but found a great picture on Flickr. They are pulling a manhole cover with someone sitting on it. I'm sorry, I don't get it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Zakka Comes to DUMBO

During the Art Festival last Saturday, I discovered a very cool store in DUMBO called Zakka. It was open on Saturday (down on Water St) but the man working said that it wasn't set to open until later this month.

According to its Web site, ZAKKA is "a shop and artists' space, where you can find graphic art-related books, as well as other select items boasting unique design, including clothing, music and stationery." Zakka highlights some of the latest Japanese subcultures and art scenes through its acclaimed selection of unusual merchandise. There were loads of interesting books, unique t-shirts and collectible items like tin Darth Vader figures. I will definitely be back when it opens to take a closer look.

Bedstuy & Breakfast

Brooklyn entrepreneur-ess Diana Hussey (a.k.a. Miss Pets) recently opened the doors to her latest venture called Bedstuy & Breakfast. It turns out, B&Bs are very hard work even for celebrities with endless resources like Tori Spelling.

I haven't been down to check it out in person, but Diana and her brother are excellent pet sitters if you ever need someone. Located near Myrtle Avenue and Spencer Street, rooms are available for as short as three days, or up to three weeks.

The list of amenities includes: use of a full kitchen and large shared bathroom, air conditioning, washer/dryer, free WiFi, Wii & video games, ping pong, rooftop access and bicycles available to borrow.

Suites are cleverly named, for example the Sky Room:
Features a full-size bed in the sky, overlooking Bedford Avenue with a skyline stretching clear to downtown Brooklyn. A translucent wall permits all the light from outside in, but distorts shapes beyond recognition, protecting your privacy.

As it turns out,
there are actually quite a few B&Bs in Brooklyn, although I haven't stayed at any of them. Seems like a nice option and one that would allow people to discover other neighborhoods.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday: DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival

Sorry there haven't been any recent posts, but I was away on a business trip the whole week in San Diego and I don't think it would have been of much interest to you anyway. Luckily, I got back in time for the DUMBO Art Festival.

There were a lot of great things I didn't get to see yet so I am going to walk around again today and go into the galleries. We had a lot of people with us in a large group, which made it hard to see everything. There was a lot of great performance art, including music and some more "out there" art, which I will try to get a picture of from my friend. The shaving cream cave was very cool and my husband especially liked the blond in the bathtub.

I got some nice new earrings from the sample sales going on in ReBar. They are from a designer named Nicole Gagne of I got them at 40% off, which was a great find. OK, more to come later today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This Sunday: Brooklyn Bourbon Festival

LeNell's brings out open bottles of bourbon (corn, wheat, and rye, too) from its tasting cabinet. Choose up to three different bottles to sample or buy six bottles of American Wiskey for 10 percent off.

@ LeNell's
Sunday, September 23, 2007
12 Noon-9 pm
416 Van Brunt Street b/t Coffey & Van Dyke
Red Hook, Brooklyn

Beacon Retail Space

A team of people have been working on the retail space for lease in the Beacon Tower on the intersection of Adams and York Street.

I have been so curious what is going in there, so this morning on the way to the subway I asked one of the contractors and he said they are in final negotiations but that the space will either be turned into a day care center or a hair salon. He proudly told me he would be doing the interior once a decision had been made.

Anyone hear different? I wonder what Beacon residents would think of having a daycare center in their building.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Round-up: Links from BK Blogosphere

BK Links for Tuesday, September 18:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday Recipe: Spinach Cheese Poofs

This simple recipe is sure to impress your guests. You can make them a few hours ahead and then warm them up just before guests arrive.

What you need:
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (I use the light version)
  • 1 small package of soft, herb goat cheese (any pre-packed cheese in the dairy isle of supermarket will do)

What to do:
  • Preheat oven according to directions on Crescent Rolls container
  • Defrost the spinach in the microwave and drain the excess water. To get it completely dry, one trick is to use a kitchen towel. Just put the spinach in the kitchen towel and wring it out over the sink. You will get every last drop.
  • Flour a hard, cool surface -- either a baking sheet or counter top
  • Carefully pop and unwrap the dough from the packaging, unrolling it lengthwise and laying it out horizontally or "landscape" direction
  • Using the tips of your fingers, gently push together the dotted edges so that it forms a uniform sheet of dough. You can use a floured rolling pin to help this process, but it doesn't have to be perfect.
  • Take the cheese and spread it out on the dough.
  • Sprinkle spinach all over the top.
  • Layer a handful of the grated cheese on top.
  • Roll the dough lengthwise into a long log. Roll the log out a bit skinnier with your fingertips and then slice into even pieces, about a half inch thick.
  • Lay each little circle pinwheel on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle the rest of your cheese on top.
  • Bake according to package directions or until light, golden brown.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Street Fair: September 29

From Mr. Fink at BHB:
The Cranberry Street Fair is set for September 29 from 11AM - 3PM on Cranberry Street between Hicks and Columbia Heights. Stop by for food and drink, books for sale, dancing, games, live music, raffle, flea market as well as "treasures." Proceeds of the Fair go to the beautification of the neighborhood.
The Cranberry Street fair coincides with this year's DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival, so it will be great weekend to experience South Brooklyn and offer an opportunity to check out what's going on nearby in Brooklyn Heights.

DUMBO on Food Network

In one of her most recent getaways, Giada DiLaurentiis takes her "Weekend Getaway" show to New York City where she spends her first night in DUMBO. She hits the usual spots: Jacques Torres, River Cafe and Grimaldi's pizza.

Giada lets viewers in on little secrets, for example that you can taste test the chocolates at Jacques Torres before buying (she grabs a love bug, my favorite), something I was totally unaware of and plan to try out this week. She also has a cocktail and appetizer on the terrace at River Cafe, a great way to experience the menu and beautiful view -- all without the price and complicated procedure to book a reservation (involves faxing your credit card).

She smoothly sails into Grimaldi's for a pizza, offering narrative on the benefit of their coal ovens and "no slice" policy. It's unclear if she had to wait in line.

It's nice to see DUMBO tourist spots featured on shows like Giada's but the only unrealistic piece was when she hailed a taxi, announced her destination of "66 Water Street" and he then happily drove her to DUMBO. Tourists should know that NYC cab drivers won't be smiling when you say your destination is Brooklyn and that you should be prepared to have turn-by-turn directions as they often don't know the street names.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pretty Inside Spa

I finally had a chance to go to Pretty Inside, the spa in DUMBO that recently opened a sister salon. For my service, I had the basic 70-minute facial.

The Good: I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the reception area as I immediately felt transported into a calm atmosphere. The receptionist was friendly and walked me into the locker room, where I changed into my robe and went to wait in the lounge area. The lounge was nicely decorated with ample magazine selection. Little snacks of brownie bites, cheese, cookies and cucumbers (the same fare as Bliss) awaited, as well as water and red wine, which was a nice touch but seemed counter intuitive... but what do I know... it was still a nice option.

A very pretty, friendly woman named Kelly Anne came to get me after a few minutes -- she wasn't late, just enough time to allow me to read a bit of the magazine and have a snack. It was nice not to feel rushed. I had a really nice facial and she was very attentive to my sensitive skin. She was also a massage therapist, which came in handy during the massage portion of my service. She also wasn't pushy about the product; more informative.

They use various product lines, but mainly Decleor. They also carried some Strivectin, Peter Thomas Roth and Bliss product from what I could glean from a distance. I didn't get to see the hair salon, but I was offered a free consultation and scalp therapy after my facial, but had to turn down the offer because I didn't have time.

The extractions also didn't make me look like an alien, which is sometimes how you feel leaving to walk home in public after getting a facial. This can be a problem living in NY when you can't just duck into your car and hide.

The Bad (although nothing really that bad): They don't have separate locker rooms for men and women so when I went to go change after my service, the receptionist had to come grab me and prevent me from going inside.

Also, I think $150 for the basic facial is a bit much, considering that the basic facial at Bliss is $100 (60 minutes). Although I guess I should consider that it's a fair price because I got two masks and at Bliss they try to up sell you a bit when you're in the chair by suggesting different masks, which is frustrating when you are trying to relax.

Pretty Inside
has a lot of potential and is somewhere I would recommend to friends and family. I had a great experience. The spa was new, clean, the staff was friendly and my skin looks great! I would certainly go back.

Friday, September 14, 2007

TGIF Must Read: My Empire of Dirt - NYMag

If you haven't already, pick up a copy of New York Magazine with the cover story, "My Empire of Dirt," or read it online if you prefer.

It is one of the most well written, interesting articles I have read in long time. It offers first-hand perspective from a Brooklyn "farmer" on the locavore moment, a mantra where people should endeavor to eat food grown within 100 miles of where you live.

They sent Fox's "Anne About Town" to his farm this morning, but the segment doesn't do it justice. You have to read the article.

(Photo: Andrew Eccles)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DUMBO Fight Night Next Week

Next Thursday, September 20 is DUMBO Fight Night at St. Ann's Warehouse. It's a fundraiser event to help preserve DUMBO and features entertainment such as dance and boxing, a silent auction, art, food and fun for everyone! Tickets are $50 per/person and there is a $100 family rate. For more information, visit the above link.

The proceeds will go to a maintenance fund to restore the history of DUMBO, including its trademark Belgian block streets. Trust me, these are in desperate need of repair!

Sunday is International Pickle Day VII

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brooklyn Bowling...I'm so There

Gothamist has a post on the soon-to-be-opened bowling alley, The Gutter. It's apparently the first bowling alley to open in Brooklyn in a long, long time. I have had a bowling craving for the past few months so this is great timing!

WHO: The Gutter

WHAT: Bowling, Beers & Embarrassing Shoes

WHEN: "Soon" Mon.-Thurs. 4pm to 4am; Fri.-Sun. noon to 4am

WHERE: Greenpoint -- 200 North 14th St

WHY: It's fun, silly!

According to Gothamist, for a group of 4 (or more) it will cost you $48 per hour during the week; $56 per hour on weekends. Bring cash to pay for the game, but your card will work at the bar for drinks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tidbits From the Brooklyn Blogosphere

F Express Update ... (Gowanus Lounge)
Incredibly Touching Reader Comments about 9/11 ... (Brooklyn Heights Blog)
New Blog: Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn ... (Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn)
Oktoberfest in BK ... (Clinton Hill Blog)
JCondo Video Walkthrough ... (DumboNYC)
Worst or Artist Expression ... (Kensington Blog)

Best Burger in NYC

Gridskipper posts a round-up of the best burgers in the city, including a lovely map to help negotiate your way to the meaty goodness. While many of the top picks are located in Manhattan, the article highlights some burger hot spots in Brooklyn too.

In order: Blue 9 Burger, Shake Shack, Peter Luger, Better Burger, Chez Oskar, Dumont, Corner Bistro, Burger Joint, Good Burger and Royale.

I can't say that I have had burgers at all of these places, in fact only three, but notably missing is J.G. Melon -- my pick for top burger in NYC. It's cash only and no one cuts the line, but it's worth it. I mean what can be better than a burger cooked next to (or right in) the bacon? I pride myself on being a health enthusiast, but when you're having a burger you might as well get it done right!

Corner Bistro ain't bad either, but the crowd well, let's say "interesting" ...

What are your favorite picks?

Online Comic Channels Adventures in Brooklyn

Check out this article from the NY Daily News that profiles online comic writer Meredith Gran.

According to the article, Gran's online comic strip, titled "Octopus Pie," follows the adventures of Eve and her roommate through Brooklyn.

For more information, click here.

West Nile Case Reported in Brooklyn

A Canadian publication reports that a 41-year-old woman from Brooklyn has been confirmed as the first human case of West Nile virus by the New York City Health Department.

"The 41-year-old woman though became sick in the middle of August. She had a headache, fever, felt tired and weak, and also had muscle pain. She was put in the hospital on August 25th and is now back home recovering. She has now been confirmed as the first human West Nile case of the season for New York CIty."

West Elm Customer Service Lacking Luster Lately

Normally I have fantastic things to say about West Elm, but recently their customer service has sucked of late.

On the floor, there are an infinite number of people trying to help you but unfortunately people go to the register first to ask questions. Rather than referring them to someone on the floor, they end up helping with the request, which in turn, backs up the register line.

The time they are taking to walk a customer through the catalog or answer questions could be deferred to an open sales person on the floor so they could instead concentrate on closing the sale.

I cannot tell you how many times I have abandoned purchases because I have been left to wait too long (more than 15 minutes) at the register. Anyone else have similar experiences?

On a more positive note, they are having a great in-store sale on accessories, which sounds like a broad category but is more limited to organizational items, and other select items.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Would You Like Flies With That? Thanks, Nobu!

I had the pleasure of nearly eating a little something extra while dining at Nobu Tribeca on Wednesday night. I took some photos with my cell phone, but it was so dark in there they didn't come out well. If you don't believe me, I can send them to your phone.

We went for a special dinner with my mother-in-law, aunt-in-law and my husband. We sat up front at a nice table and prepared for a delicious sushi experience. My mother-in-law has recently come to appreciate the deliciousness that is sake and ordered a container of both hot and cold for the table.

We poured rounds of sake out of the hot caraffe most quickly and received a little surprise with the last pour, a dead fly. He lay still in my husband's cup. We called the waiter quietly to take it away as we didn't want to make a big deal. Hey, these things happen, right? The host came over and apologized and kindly ordered us another caraffe of hot saki.

My aunt-in-law continued to make headway on the cold saki and on her last pour, she too received a token fly in her cup, this one much bigger like a traditional house fly. We all burst out laughing... I mean what are the chances? But at the same time, we were pretty grossed out.

Nobu is considered one of the nicest places to eat in Manhattan for sushi and here we had been served two flies in less than two hours.

I must say that the staff was very accommodating. We didn't eat for free, but our bill was substantially reduced. I am sure that there will be a new procedure for cleaning and storing the saki containers -- upside down and triple rinsed.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

BK Industries Hosting 4 Contests

Brooklyn Industries is offering 4 different ways to win something cool.

2 Tickets to see Common on October 7th at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square, an autographed copy of his latest album "Finding Forever" and a limited edition lithograph.

2 Brooklyn Industries Messenger Bags filled with CDs from Barsuk Records. It also includes the Sept 2007 release: Kurt Cobain About A Son: Music From The Motion Picture CD.

2 Tickets to each Aesop Rock East Coast show of None Shall Pass tour. Three runners-up will win autographed copies of Aesop Rock’s new album None Shall Pass.

1 Signed copy of The Brooklynites, a book that offers a collection of images, interviews, and essays about the charismatic characters of Brooklyn. For over three years LaSala and Kushner trekked tirelessly across the borough, documenting the famous and the nameless, current residents and former inhabitants from Brooklyn Heights to Brownsville, Bensonhurst to Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bay Ridge and beyond. The Brooklynites is published by powerHouse Books and will be available September 20, 2007.

For details on how to enter.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sinkhole in Manhattan: If Only it Was a Few Blocks Closer

I saw the helicopters after lunch today but couldn't pinpoint what was happening. I work in Union Square and the helicopters are usually a good indication of something gone wrong -- something good enough for broadcast news.

I had forgotten about it this afternoon while I worked away in my little cube, but my friend just sent me a link to the news on Gawker about a sink hole that emerged on 17th between Fifth and Sixth Avenue.

Why couldn't my work building be sinking instead?! That would have been much more interesting and possibly could have led to an early closing.

More on the news from Gothamist.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Waiting on Whole Foods Brooklyn

I was just thinking about the Brooklyn Whole Foods today as I had gone into the Bowery Store today for the first time. The place is massive, but it wasn't even 1/100th as busy as the Union Square location usually is. Maybe that's because of the holiday?

So I set out to see if the Web site had an update, but it just says TBA. Looks like there have been reports about delays on the store, according to A Brooklyn Life back in '06. Probably best just to do a drive by to see what it looks like now, which is usually a good indication of how close it is to being completed.

From around the blogosphere, there seem so be some more recent issues about the new location:
Poll: People Generally Psyched For Whole Foods ... Brownstoner
Whole Foods: The Petition ... Daily Slope
Do you want lies with that? Whole Food’s answers ain’t kosher ... Brooklyn Paper

Pinkberry, Part Deux

After my first Pinkberry experience, I didn't think I'd be back. I thought it was really sour ... way too sour. But since that initial taste test, I have found the right topping combination (regular + rice cakes (these are fantastic) + chocolate chips + blueberries). There needs to be enough of a sweet blend or the sour of the yogurt is overpowering. Plus, I love mochi ice cream and the rice cakes taste like the outside of the mochi pod.

I took my husband today for the first time (Spring St. location). It was much less crowded than the Upper East Side location, but still hot inside -- likely due to the door opening and closing every two seconds. I think I would go crazy working there. I hope they pay those people well.

He liked it too (regular + fruity pebbles + banana + rice cakes), which totally suprised me because he hates fake versions of real things (frozen yogurt vs. ice cream). But today he also ate half my veggie burger so I must be rubbing off a bit in the right way.

According to their Web site, there are only 25 calories in 1 oz (no fat, only 5 grams of sugar). That's really good considering a big one plus toppings probably nets out to less than 200 calories assuming you likely won't be able to finish it since it's ginormous.

Wonder when Pinkberry will come to Brooklyn?

Friday, August 31, 2007

DUMBO Block Party - Saturday, September 8

Halcyon is promoting the upcoming DUMBO Block Party on Saturday, September 8 from 1-7 pm @ Pearl Street Triangle right in front of their store.

So what's a block party you ask? It's a FREE family friendly event loaded with activities for kids of all ages - but don't be fooled - this is also a party with DJs and Live bands presented by halcyon and dubspot, and, erm... sanctioned mid-afternoon boozing and dancing on the streets of the city. And all in the cozy confines of the brand new quasi-park that used to be the local illegal dumping area!




Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mural vs. Condo - New BK Blog

Thanks to Gowanus Lounge for flagging this new Brooklyn blog Mural vs. Condo, a "personal account of development and gentrification issues in Sunset Park, Brooklyn."

Welcome, Amina!

Brooklyn Waterfront "Endangered"

A new report issued by nonprofit organization National Trust for Historic Preservation highlights 11 endangered places in the U.S. that are "being disturbed or damaged."
"The 2007 list includes historic motels on Route 66 that are losing out to chain hotels and travelers who rarely slow down along the newer interstates. They are listed alongside the industrial waterfront of Brooklyn that is increasingly being bulldozed to make way for multimillion-dollar condos, and a World War II-era internment camp that once held Japanese-Americans that is slipping into decrepitude ...

... The historic dockyards and factories are being replaced by acres of condominiums in suddenly hip areas with new acronyms like DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The trust wants to preserve at least a portion of the borough's 19th-century industrial heart."
From the Salt Lake Tribune.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Recipe: Za'atar Chicken

One of my favorite recipes of all time is from Nigella Lawson, the lovely British cook that has finally joined the Food Network with her own show. At my house, we call it "dirty finger chicken" and after making it you'll know why!

It's very simple and comes from her cookbook, Forever Summer, which is all around a great cookbook. I got it several years ago when I was still living in Boston and it was challenging to find Za'atar (thyme, sumac & sesame seeds), the key ingredient. You can find this spice in most Middle Eastern grocery stores, or in the spice section of Fairway, right before the coffee area.

It's so easy to make and is very cost effective. You buy a chicken, cut up into pieces, and then marinate them in ziploc bags overnight with olive oil, a generous amount of Za'atar, salt and pepper. Basically you put the chicken pieces in first (you probably need two large freezer Ziploc bags), add the oil to coat, and then the Za'atar to coat. You can also marinate for a few hours, but the longer the better!

Afterwards, dump the bags of chicken out into a baking dish and make sure to squeeze out the seeds and oil on top. You can add some more seasoning if some sides of the chicken pieces are bare. Pop the dish into pre-heated oven and roast at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or so, and the outside will be crispy delicious while the meat tender and tasty.

As a side, Nigella serves up fattoush salad, which I highly recommend. It's a blend of chopped ripe tomato, cucumber, scallion and toasted pita that has been broken up to absorb a basic dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and a squeeze or two of lemon.


Can You O.D. on Vitamins?

I finally picked up some Diet Coke Plus this weekend and just sat down to have my first sip. As a Vitamin Water fan, I was excited to try a new take on my daily diet coke habit that offered an added bonus -- without the sugar.

The lovely rainbow and aqua blue branding on the outside of the can is so much nicer that the original can decor. Of course, it tastes the same but it's nice to know I am getting my vitamins and minerals.

According to Wikipedia, each "8-ounce serving of Diet Coke Plus provides 15 percent of the daily value for niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, and 10 percent for zinc and magnesium. In fact the second main ingredient in diet coke plus is magnesium sulfate."

The question I have is with all these new vitamin and mineral enriched foods/drinks, do I need to rethink my daily vitamin? I mean, I know too much Iron is not a good thing, and I think I remember reading that too much Vitamin A isn't good for you.

So, the question is: Can you overdose on the good stuff?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Flickr: Car Fire Brooklyn Bridge

Talk about being in the right place at the right time to get this kind of photo.