Big Booty Takes the Cake

While searching for bakeries within walking distance of my office downtown, I stumbled upon Big Booty Bread Company, and of course, I was first struck by the playful name.  But then I scrolled through the menu, and the Latin American-inspired pastries sounded too good to resist, particularly the namesake booty buns.

The exterior
The exterior

Escaping the harsh winds of New York and stepping into a cozy niche in Chelsea was the perfect conclusion to a long day at work, and I was immediately impressed by the relaxed atmosphere of the location, devoid of the pretentious attitude that some patisseries have.  Dining alone that day, I definitely welcomed the calm.  There was an expansive display cabinet and counter at the front of the store, while the back contained simple wooden tables, topped with flower vases.  There were also some examples of apparel hanging on the wall, and I might have to return again just to purchase a shirt that reads, I <3 Big Booty.

The seating area
The seating area

I arrived with a very clear sense of what I was going to order (having already scoured the menu), but the packed display case made me pause because all of the fresh pastries and baked goods were so tempting.  Beyond cupcakes and cookies, Big Booty also offers paleo and gluten-free options with a Latin American flavor, like a cheese bun or guava pocket.  I probably could have ordered one of everything, but I decided to stick to my original order: one strawberry booty bun (a brioche bun stuffed with strawberries and topped with sugar) and a ham and cheese empanada with chimmichurri sauce, completed with a half tea, half lemonade.

Just some of the delicious looking pastries
Just some of the delicious looking pastries

The warm empanada melted in my mouth, and the sauce added that little bit of kick to put it over the top.  The booty bun was the perfect complement, with a crunchy, sugar-coated exterior with a soft bread in the middle.  I will definitely be returning to Big Booty Bread Company, so I can sample all of the booty bun flavors because one just wasn’t enough.

My empanada, booty bun, and drink
My empanada, booty bun, and drink
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Narcissa at The Standard, East Village

Narcissa was a very happy find for me. Looking for farm-to-table restaurants is not exactly the easiest task. Thankfully and despite the lack of several choices, I am thrilled to have discovered Narcissa.

Walking in, I thought I had come across a 21st century Garden of Eden. Its design is very modern and sleek. Wood panels, white marble countertops, colorful pieces, and abundant flowers can be found inside. There is a beautiful lush garden that highlights the restaurant’s farm-to-table take. All of this is made more idyllic by ubiquitous bright light. It is fresh and green, yet manicured and neat.

Since it was brunch and I was in such a nature-inspired restaurant, I wanted to order something cool and different. Yet, I ordered a burger. This can seem to be a rather basic plate, but with the right ingredients and in the right place, it can be magnificent.

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And it was. It was accompanied by guacamole, Manchego cheese, and a spicy orange sauce. Need I say anything else? It was pure perfection. A mixture of very diverse flavors blended in my mouth each time I took a bite from this moist dish. When the guacamole fell off the other end of the burger, I grabbed a knife and rubbed it back unto the burger. I think that pretty much sums it up.FullSizeRender

I would return any day to this inviting, cozy, hip, and elegant locale!

Absolute Bagels: A Bagel Lover’s Oasis

Ever since my freshman year, I have been constantly hearing that one of the best bagel places in the city is located right off campus on the corner of 108th St and Broadway, so I decided that it was time to try it. Upon entering Absolute Bagels, I was welcomed by the sweet aroma of freshly made bagels. The smell definitely made up for the odd decor in the bagel shop, and I could tell the rest of the customers did not seem to care considering how crowded it was inside.

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Though there was a long line to order when I got inside, it moved at a rapid pace. I waited about five minutes to order and only another three minutes or so for my bagel to be ready. I decided to order an egg bagel with egg and cheese on it. My all-time favorite type of bagel is an egg bagel, but a lot of bagel shops don’t have it, so when I saw it on the menu at Absolute Bagels, I had to order it!

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Egg bagel with egg and cheese

Upon taking my bagel out of its packaging, I was astonished by how soft and fresh it was. As I sat at one of the tables in Absolute Bagels, I noticed that they were constantly bringing out fresh batches of bagels, which explains why my bagel was so fresh. I wouldn’t change anything about the bagel because it really was one of the best bagels I have ever had. On the other hand, the egg and cheese inside the bagel was good, but not great. The cheese wasn’t melted and the egg wasn’t spread out equally on the bagel. Next time, I will probably just get cream cheese on my bagel instead. I also would have no problem eating the bagel plain (even though I hardly ever do that) because it was just so good that it really didn’t need anything on it.

If I didn’t already make it very clear, I will definitely be going back to Absolute Bagels! When I was there, I noticed a lot of people  were ordering 10+ bagels to go, and that’s what I should do next time (maybe not quite that many). If you do decide to go, make sure you bring cash with you because they do not accept credit cards. I definitely would recommend this bagel shop to anyone that likes bagels.

 

16 Handles

Location: 325 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY, 10023

Hours: 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Mon-Thurs and Sunday), 12:00 PM to 11:30 PM (Fri-Sat)

I love healthy food, but I also love frozen yogurt. The compromise? Get a green smoothie from a frozen yogurt shop. I had bookmarked 16 Handles since the beginning of the semester for its raving reviews on Yelp. It did not disappoint.

Located on Amsterdam Avenue between 75th and 76th, 16 Handles was extremely easy to locate, especially with its lively music and brightly lit environment. There is a wide range of options for frozen yogurt, with low fat, fat free, gluten free, and vegan options, and fresh fruit amongst other toppings. What caught my eye, however, were their green smoothies.

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I ordered an “Oh Kale Yeah!” smoothie made of fresh IQF pineapple, banana, spinach, kale, coconut water, and white grape juice. There are no artificial ingredients or ice. The staff was extremely friendly, inviting me to test out their new frozen yogurt flavors while I waited for my smoothie.

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Expecting a more starchy bland smoothie, I was blown away. The smoothie was not extremely heavy, and provided a nice citrus-y freshness. While the banana seemed overpowering at first, it blends extremely well with the spinach and kale, which tone down its flavor. The natural sweetness of the white grape juice balances the acidity from the pineapple, allowing me to enjoy every sip I took. The spinach and kale substantiate the smoothie, making it slightly more filling. This was definitely the best green smoothie I’ve had in a long time, and believe me, I drink a lot of green smoothies! I am addicted! The “Oh Kale Yeah” would be perfect after a workout, or just for a slight healthy boost before shopping at the Sephora nearby.

Green smoothies in a frozen yogurt shop: unexpected, but extremely well-made.

Hope you had a great break, and till next time!

Fiona

 

 

Big Pancakes at Big Daddy’s

Not having a class until 11:40 a.m. on Tuesdays has its perks. One of them – perhaps the most important – is that I have time to go out and get a nice stack of pancakes to start my day. So last Monday night, I did some research, and decided to go to Big Daddy’s the following morning.

On Monday morning, I hopped on the 1 and rode it down to 96th Street, and from there, I walked to 91st Street in search of Big Daddy’s. It certainly was not difficult to find; the storefront was quite colorful, and there was a big red neon sign with the restaurant’s name out front. Just from looking at the outside, I knew that this meal would certainly be an experience.

The exterior of Big Daddy's.
The exterior of Big Daddy’s

The inside of Big Daddy’s is incredibly festive. The color scheme of the inside was vibrant blue, red, and yellow, and there were decorations everywhere. These decorations were mainly to give the restaurant an old, diner-y effect; there were old tin lunchboxes, gumball machines, license plates, pennants, and posters everywhere. The atmosphere was quite fun, though slightly over-stimulating. But as it was only 10 a.m., the restaurant was fairly empty, and I was one of the only customers there.

The interior of Big Daddy's.
The interior of Big Daddy’s

After sitting down, I was handed a very colorful and overwhelming menu. On the left of the menu, there were many different kinds of pancakes, each with its own unique name. I deliberated for a while, then ordered the “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” pancakes, which had bananas and chocolate chunks in them.

When the pancakes arrived, I was at first dismayed at how large they were. It was a stack of three pancakes, and they almost filled the whole plate. The stack was topped with chocolate chips, banana slices, and powdered sugar, and there was whipped cream and maple syrup on the side. The pancakes were visually gorgeous, but I didn’t think I would be able to finish them. I drizzled a bit of maple syrup over the top and dove in.

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The “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” pancakes

The pancakes were wonderfully fluffy and the flavors of the chocolate and the banana were delicious. But the one big issue I found is that the pancakes were incredibly sweet. The sweetness of the pancakes plus the sweetness of the chocolate and the bananas (and the bit of syrup I poured on top) was a bit too much, and it felt more like a dessert than a breakfast. But since I have a sweet tooth, I didn’t mind too much, and I kept on eating and enjoying. I even surprised myself by finishing the entire stack, though I felt incredibly full afterwards.

Big Daddy’s is certainly an experience. The interior of the restaurant is very entertaining and zany, and they have quite a selection of food. Their pancakes, though sweet and enormous, are very satisfying and delicious. If you’re in the mood for sugary pancakes in a festive diner, Big Daddy’s certainly won’t disappoint.

Location: 2454 Broadway, New York, NY

Hours: Sunday through Thursday – 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday – 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Juice Generation

644 9th Ave, New York NY 10036 (Between 45th and 46th St)

Mon–Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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This healthy little gem is located on 9th Ave, between 45th and 46th St. It’s not too far from the Times Square subway station, making it very accessible if you’re shopping nearby. This famous chain also has many other locations, including one on 117 W 72nd St, which is much closer to campus. While the physical store is quite small and has no seating available, they have a wide variety of options. 2017-02-18 16.44.13

Need a quick pick-me-up?  They have healthy juices and smoothies. Want something more filling? They have nicely portioned açai bowls, vegan lunch options (rolls, burgers, and noodles), and vegan pastries. What is unique about this chain is their “juice farmacy,” which is made up of small drinks with jam-packed nutrients. One such drink is the “lemon lozenge,” a blend of lemons, cayenne, and ginger, to help clear an irritating cold.

I ordered a “Green Guardian” smoothie and a “Jackpot!” açaí bowl, while my friend ordered an “I Heart Watermelon” smoothie, sweetened with agave and an “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl. For smoothies, you have the option of almond milk or hemp milk and you can sweeten them with either agave or dates.

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“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie and Almond Bliss Açaí Bowl

“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.

Overall, the smoothie had a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and was not too overpowering. The first note of the smoothie had a very strong raspberry taste with a subtle hint of watermelon that was gradually brought out upon further tasting. It was very light compared to the “Green Guardian,” with a more liquid texture (as opposed to starchy), and would be perfect for a post-workout refreshment.

“Almond Butter Bliss” Açaí Bowl: açaí, almond butter, almond milk, banana, coconut shavings, hemp granola, and strawberries.

The “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl had an overall extremely nutty flavor that my friend thought was slightly overpowering. The bowl could have used slightly more acidity with the addition of more citrus-y flavors. Interestingly, she tasted a hint of chocolate milk, which could have been caused by the mixture of almond milk and banana.

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“Jackpot!” Açaí Bowl and “Green Guardian” Smoothie

“Jackpot!” Açaí Bowl: açaí, almond milk, banana, coconut oil, coconut shavings, hemp granola, jackfruit, kiwi, and strawberries.

The açaí bowl was actually more liquid-y than I had expected, and didn’t look too appetizing by looks alone. I was blown away by the taste. The textures in the bowl brought a nice variety and they struck a perfect harmony between the chewy and crispy granola, the tarte fruit, and liquid-y açai. The nutty flavor contrasts the typical sweet and sour açai bowl and provides a nice base note. Kiwi is an unusual fruit to add into açai bowls, but it definitely works here and provides the desired citrus-y acidity. The fruit used in my açaí bowl was really fresh. After eating this açaí bowl, I felt a lot healthier and even  refreshed!

Green Guardian” Smoothie:  avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, spinach, strawberries, and swiss chard.

At first, I regretted my decision to order this smoothie. It was rather bland compared with the “I Heart Watermelon,” and I wished that I had chosen to sweeten the smoothie with dates or agave. The smoothie was rather starchy and thick. About half way through the smoothie, it was difficult to obtain any more liquid and I had to constantly poke around the cup. The more I drank, however, the more my opinion of this smoothie improved. The almond milk fragrance became more identifiable and there even seemed to be a banana-like taste in the background. Definitely sweeten the smoothie if you order this drink!

Juice Generation has a nice variety of healthy options and I can’t wait to try out the many other options that it offers.

Till next time!

Fiona

Sedutto – Unexpected Ice Cream Haven

I love ice cream. Coming to New York City, I’ve made it my mission to  try all the ice cream shops the city has to offer.

Working a job on the Upper East Side, I spent my night looking forward to a late-night treat. I had not really known much about Sedutto before visiting but had it bookmarked on my Maps as an ice cream shop to try. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find the shop lighting up the corner of 78th and 1st Ave.

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I walked in to find a cheerful yet modern shop with a plethora of flavors, toppings, and choices. Having trouble making decisions, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings. They had over 40 flavors of hard ice cream, ranging from Red Velvet to Pumpkin to Banana Fudge to Green Tea. There was two full freezers in front with a list of more that they had in the back. They also had several soft serve ice cream choices. To narrow my options, I just considered the hard ice cream flavors. While contemplating what I should order, the man behind the counter let me taste try a few samples, one being Red Velvet.  I finally decided on Birthday Cake and Midnight Cookies in Cream, two of their most popular flavors, in a cookie crumb waffle cone. I was amazed at the varieties of cones they offered. They had multiple speciality waffle cones in unique flavors like birthday cake, and of course the classic cake and sugar cones.
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With the first bite of my ice cream I knew this place was a hit. Of all the other ice cream places I had tried so far, this was definitely the best quality. The Birthday Cake flavor was undeniably frosting sweet and had wonderful cake chucks perfectly mixed in. I often order this flavor, and Sedutto’s version was definitely one of the best. Reaching Midnight Cookies and Cream, I was amazed at the stark contrast between the sugary cake-like ice cream and a decidedly rich chocolate flavor. Midnight Cookies and Creams successfully combines the depth of chocolate with the classic taste of cookies and cream. My cookie waffle cone held up well, and the ice cream was hard set, allowing me to leisurely take my time-consuming this richly flavored ice cream.

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I was sad when I finally reached the bottom of my cone, but I look forward to returning and trying some of the other hard-to-find flavors.. This ice cream shop is definitely a gem that does not get the attention it deserves. 
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