Tag Archives: local

Your Neighborhood Bakery

With the cold winter months quickly approaching, now is the time to soak up the mild weather and take advantage of the spots that are easily accessible from campus.  After a long day full of classes and other commitments, I find myself in need of a way to unwind, without paying subway fares or venturing too far away from Barnard.  A walk to the local Silver Moon Bakery & Cafe, located on 105th and Broadway, provides an opportunity to explore the neighborhood (and the exercise to use as an excuse for buying many pastries).

The exterior of the bakery
The exterior of the bakery

The blue awning and outdoor seating of the bakery provides an inviting welcome to the space, and you feel right at home before you even step inside.  Once I walked in, the excitement of being in a new bakery hit me once again.  I immediately walked straight to the pastry display case, to drool over the wide variety of pies, cakes, and pastries, with everything from apple pie to chocolate mousse and blueberry ginger muffins.  I was so focused on choosing the perfect dessert that it took me a few minutes to see the shelves piled high with breads of every shape and size.

Pastries on display
Pastries on display

From baguettes to boules to rolls, Silver Moon Bakery handcrafts all of its breads, ensuring freshness and variety.  Though I knew an entire loaf of bread was a strange item to take back to my dorm room (Editor’s note: is it, though? ), the appeal of the sourdough boule convinced me that it was worthwhile.  A feeling of contentment spread over me as I left the bakery, now armed with a berry tart and my very own sliced loaf of bread.  Paired with a hazelnut spread I bought later, the bread was the perfect combination of a crunchy outer crust and a chewy inside and just what I needed to get through the rest of my homework.

My bread in all of its glory
My bread in all of its glory
My delicious fruit tart, reminiscent of summer days
My delicious fruit tart, reminiscent of summer days



New Kid on the Block- Chokolat Cafe

We all love Nussbaum bagels and Hungarian Pastry Shop coffee but occasionally we all need a change. Chokolat Café is a quaint bakery/coffee shop on 125th and Broadway that I would like to deem the “new kid on the block”. I have driven past it numerous times over the past two years and during exam week when I needed a few coffees to keep me studying and a baked good to satisfy my sweet tooth; I decided to check it out. I was blown away by the café and think it is completely underrated for something so close to campus. It opened in October 2011 so maybe it has not made a name for itself yet in the area, but I would definitely suggest making the walk there your next coffee date or study session.

I was shocked when I walked in to see how laid-back the decorum was. I wished that I had brought a textbook to read because it was the perfect, cozy atmosphere to study in. The café smelled of freshly brewed coffee and unlike Butler there were actually tables open. The next surprise was the prices of the coffee and baked goods. Everything was extremely cheap for things that were so fresh; their pastries and desserts are made in their kitchen daily. They had various breakfast options like muffins and breakfast sandwiches as well as desserts. Since it was early I ordered a coffee and a blueberry-cream cheese Danish, as opposed to the tasty looking green tea and red bean cupcake.

The danish was hands-down the best Danish I’ve had in my life. The puff pastry dough flaked as you bit into it and its buttery flavor complemented the sweet filling perfectly. Plus, the cream cheese custard was still moist, so I could tell that it had been made freshly a few hours before. There was a thick, sweet layer of it yet it was not overwhelmingly cheesy nor did it overpower the blueberry fiilling which was swirled in. My favorite part of the blueberry ham was the fresh blueberries in it which gave it a natural flavor as opposed to a fake, sugary taste. Finally, the coffee grinders behind the register were used daily to make the coffee fresh which was evident in its rich flavor.

It was fresh and inexpensive for that necessary caffeine boost during exam week. I was blown away by the atmosphere and quality of the goods at Chokolat Café; you will definitely see me there during reading week. The best part about it is that they have a mini shop on 123rd that sells all their delicious goods. If you don’t want to sit down in the café, you can go there and get your coffee and a pastry to go!

Westside Watch: A Breakfast of Champions

Delicious, creamy, satisfying.

Unlike most of my fellow students, I am an early riser. No matter what time I go to bed, my body loves to wake me up around 7:30 every morning, even on the weekends and even when I don’t have class until 10:10. I’ve tried to sleep past 7:30 and it simply does not work. So, I really hate it that the dining halls do not start serving brunch until 10:00 on the weekends. It kills me. I can’t wait that long to eat so usually I make do with some instant oatmeal and peanut butter that I have stashed in my room. Needless to say, this is not my favorite option, especially when my roommate sleeps in until noon and I have to tiptoe around the room with the lights off.

Leave it to Westside Market to come to my rescue. One of my good friends shares my habit of waking up early and also shares my frustration with the lack of viable, cheap breakfast options on the weekends. She told me of a magical product that has made my life much better. It’s called cold oatmeal. And it’s delicious.

If you walk into Westside and make your way to the cheese section, you’ll find a glorious array of various puddings, yogurt, and fruit, all packaged in house. You will also find several types of what Westside calls “Maria’s Homemade Cold Granola Oatmeal.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: home-cooked oatmeal but served cold. It comes in a myriad of flavors, all of which I have resolved to try while I am at school here. So far, I’ve had the pleasure of tasting raspberry and blueberry-raspberry and I have fallen in love. The oatmeal is made with soymilk, honey, fruit, and granola, so it’s easy on my lactose-intolerant stomach and incredibly filling. It’s not overly sweet and it is exceptionally creamy—what I would call the perfect breakfast.

I was boggled by the amount of flavors available. Since I’ve discovered it, I’ve observed cherry-vanilla-almond, blueberry, strawberry, pumpkin, gingerbread, peanut butter, cranberry, chocolate chip, etc. The options are endless. I’ve become so entranced by it that I’ve made it my Sunday routine to get up, grab some oatmeal, and sit down at Starbucks to write papers. I find I get a lot of good work done with a filling breakfast. I even took some on the bus with me when I went to visit my sister last weekend in Philadelphia. That’s how much I love it. And you should try it. Because you’ll love it too.

Foodie Flicks: Indian Food & French Films

As a French version of The Sound of Music‘s “I Have Confidence” begins to coax scenes of brick factories and lovelorn chocolatiers, I scoop a mound of hot basmati rice into a glass bowl and pour my spicy masala sauce on top in a whimsical swirl.  I am watching the 2010 French rom-com Romantics Anonymous whilst eating take-out from local, family-owned Curry & Kebab (106th and Amsterdam).

I’ll begin with the Indian food.  Curry & Kebab was actually my first real taste of Indian food.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of this cuisine, mostly because there didn’t happen to be a lot of Indian restaurants in the middle of the Mojave desert or in the southern agrarian towns of Germany (#armybratlife).  When I came to New York and my friend Christin took me to Curry & Kebab, I was ecstatic.  How could I have possibly have been missing this all my life?  Sure, I’d eaten Roti Roll and yeah I’ve had Chinese-Indian fusion, but this was a far more thrilling venture into flavor.

Christin and I happened to eat on a sunny afternoon that day, and the small black tables extended out onto the sidewalk.  Curry & Kebab has sari blankets and wraps hanging across the ceiling and down the walls, giving it a homey and pleasant atmosphere.  At night, the mood lighting comes on.  An upbeat mix of traditional music and contemporary Indian songs begin to play loud enough to be heard but not enough to interrupt the private sanctity of your meal.  Additionally, in my opinion, Curry & Kebab offers some of the best table toppings.  I love their cilantro chutney (the smooth, green sauce), the tamarind (viscous, melodically tangy dark sauce), and I honestly haven’t found any chutney comparable to (what I think is red pepper) chutney.  My favorite dish is the chicken masala (which doesn’t always appear on the menu–if you ask for it, they’ll have it).  Chicken masala is a dish of chicken that has been marinated in spices and yogurt, baked in a tandoor oven, and served in the “mixed spices” sauce known as masala.

So you can imagine my state of bliss after a long week as I swaddled myself up in my blankets, eating my favorite Indian food, and watching one of the most delightful films I have seen in ages.  Romantics Anonymous tells the story of a tragically shy chocolatier (Angélique) and her painfully awkward boss (Jean-René).  Both are hopeless romantics, though neither wholly aware of each other’s social difficulties.  On their first date, Jean-Rene holds his menu in front of his face, not realizing this might be complicated while trying to talk to his date.  Angelique, meanwhile, develops chronic hiccups moments before suddenly asking, “What do you think of the situation in the Middle East?”  (She’s reading from topical cue cards.)

The musical cues in Romantics Anonymous are spot in, and they propel this lovely story forward in the world where chocolate and love collide.  I certainly recommend this film over the adapted Chocolat (2000) and while that film has Johnny Depp, this one has judgmental French waiters that are to die for.

And, even better, this film is available for streaming on Netflix!  If you’re looking for something romantic (or not) for Valentine’s Day, this film hits comedy and poignant realizations of self that will be delightful to watch no matter what you’re in the mood for.


Foodie Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ (out of five)


Click on the names of these films if Romantics Anonymous doesn’t do it for you…

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi – beautiful, inspiring documentary about a Michelin 3-star rated, 85 year old sushi chef (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Kings of Pastry – documentary about competitive pastry chefs, food porn to the max (available for streaming on Netflix!)
  • Ratatouille – a Pixar film featuring a rat who becomes a gourmet chef; this film won the Academy Award for Best Animated feature and has a great soundtrack to boot
  • Big Night – the brainchild of actor and gourmet foodie Stanley Tucci, this film tells the story of two brothers struggling to save their Italian restaurant
  • Waitress – a heartfelt story about a pregnant waitress with a powerful penchant for pies and creative names
  • Pressure Cooker – inner city kids compete in this documentary for culinary scholarships that could change their lives (available for streaming on Netflix!)

Malaysian Grill

Exterior View

James returns with Curious Flavors to review a local Malaysian eatery perfect for those nights that Milano salads just aren’t gonna do it for you.

This past Friday night while browsing urbanspoon for somewhere in the Columbia neighborhood to grab dinner I came across Malaysian Grill. Hardly ten blocks from campus at 224 West 104th St.  (between Broadway and Amsterdam), this small restaurant seems to be a local favorite and offers delicious and interesting food in a cozy setting at extremely reasonable prices.  Since I haven’t had much exposure to Malaysian food, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to find a local eatery I can frequent and make a worthy subject matter for this week’s post.

The restaurant’s menu is large and has the breadth of dishes one would expect of many Asian take out restaurants. While there are many familiar options including fried rice, dumplings, and soups there are many dishes, or variations on dishes that I have not seen elsewhere. From my observation I would characterize the menu as similar to that of a Thai restaurant, but with strong Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian influences and I attempted to experience some of the great variety of foods in what I ordered.

Shrimp Broth Soup

Thanks to the extremely reasonable prices (most appetizers and soups are about $5 while larger plates are about $10) my girlfriend and I were able to enjoy nearly a half dozen plates. We started with the roti canai, a flatbread similar to Indian naan, which came with a small bowl of chicken curry. Then came the Malaysian shrimp broth soup, a hot soup with (unsurprisingly) a very flavorful shrimp broth, spinach, bean sprouts, and your choice of shrimp of meat. We next tried the gado gado salad, a cold dish of tofu, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, and jiccama with a peanut sauce, I found this salad to be quite flavorful as well as refreshing. Finally as an entree I had the beef rendang, extremely tender (through somewhat fatty) chunks of beef in a paste of ground onion, lemongrass, chili, and coconut curry served with potato, some vegetables, and your choice of rice (I got coconut rice). My girlfriend, a vegetarian, got the healthy food special, a custom assortment of your choice of steamed or cooked vegetables, a sauce selection, meat if you so choose, and a choice of rice. Continue reading Malaysian Grill

Farm Fresh Cooking: Autumn Squash Soup and Red Cabbage Slaw

Kabocha sqaush and sweet potato soup, garnished with olive oil, sage, rosemary, and homemade roasted sqaush seeds.
New blog writer Julia has done something that I’ve always wanted to do–become a part of the MoHi farm share.  Crops are grown locally and participants, for a flat fee, get to select a variety of fresh produce.  She begins with probably a yummy ode to the autumn season.

When I arrived at the produce pickup station for Morningside Heights CSA farm shareholders this week, I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Filling my goodie bag, I moved down the line of crates with zeal. 1 bunch romaine lettuce. 3 red onions. 3 ears of corn. Then came some unfamiliar items – 1 bunch mizuna, 1 kabocha squash – and some extra special treats: purple basil and two beautiful multi-colored heirloom tomatoes.

The chill settling in slowly can mean only one thing; fall has fallen and is here to stay. Central Park will soon become a painter’s palette of autumn tones, commuters will bundle up in scarves and mittens, and my pantry will be transformed from week to week by the latest autumn harvest produce, straight from the farm.  What better way to celebrate all of that than with a warm cup of creamy squash soup?

Squash truly is the gift that keeps giving. Whether roasted with brown sugar and butter, pureed into a soup or a pie, its fleshy interior provides sweet, full bodied flavor that can be paired with any number of spices and textures. Moreover, there seems to be a squash for every occasion.  Yellow summer squash, small acorn squash, rich butternut and quirky spaghetti squash. The kabocha squash is medium sized, resembling a green pumpkin, which prompted me to attack it like a pumpkin… Continue reading Farm Fresh Cooking: Autumn Squash Soup and Red Cabbage Slaw

Locally Sourced, Organically Grown

SF City Hall promoting local with an organic garden; photo from http://www.zimbio.com

Katie just recently returned from her summer in San Francisco, and in this solo post for the blog, explores tasting the organic and being able to afford it in this op-ed post.

Since I’ve been in San Francisco for the past two months, I’ve learned that the magical words to food and produce is “locally sourced” and “organically grown”.  In fact, these characteristics are such norm that I occasionally go out of my way to look for non-organic, non-local foods.  I can’t.  Back in New York, I’m adamantly opposed to the idea of organic.  My Whole Foods tab ends up being significantly higher and I can’t honestly say I notice a difference.  Here, on the other hand, most of what I eat ends up being organic and local.  The fruit is sweeter and the produce is fresher.  How much of it can be attributed to organic or how much of it can be attributed to the wonderful California sun, however, I couldn’t say.

San Francisco has so much great fruit and produce grown in the area, it’s actually cheaper to buy local.  Naturally, much of local produce is organic.  I lived in the outskirts of the Mission District for a while, a near perfect comparison to Morningside Heights with a little less gentrification.  My corner bodegas had fruits from farms not even an hour away.  The concept of eating locally and organically is so engrained that considering it a “lifestyle” is giving it too much sway. Continue reading Locally Sourced, Organically Grown

A few blocks away, Jin Ramen awaits

Jin Ramen from Amanda Tien on Vimeo.

Last semester, my friend Gavin said he knew a place that I’d love.  As many people are, I was very ecstatic to learn that something I would love was about to come into my life.  That week, we went up with some friends to Jin Ramen.  Jin Ramen is also commonly known as my new paradise and my place of choice to take out of town visitors.  Many people are aware of the current ramen craze hitting New York, courtesy of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants.  I went to Momofuku, and while it’s definitely a great place, I have to say…I prefer Jin Ramen.

It’s not just because Jin Ramen is closer, but the noodles and broth are consistently top notch.   My favorite dish is the Tonokutsu Ramen–creamy pork broth topped with Chashu (braised pork belly), Nitamago (soft-boiled egg), Menma (bamboo shoots), Nori (roasted seaweed), and Negi (fresh scallion).  Pork is a speciality of Fukuoka, a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu.  Thus, the Tonokutsu dishes in particular reflect the flavors and specialties of this southern island.

Continue reading A few blocks away, Jin Ramen awaits

SMOKE: a meal and a concert, two for the price of one

The exterior of Smoke, courtesy of the lounge's website

SMOKE Jazz Club & Lounge

Where it is NOT located: 2751 Broadway New York, NY 10025

(212) 864-6662

I have noticed that, for some reason, students tend to neglect the local. It can be exciting and enriching to venture to faraway lands (as far away as any two places on the Manhattan island can be), but there are some phenomenal establishments within walking distance. SMOKE, a jazz lounge/restaurant, is not hidden, but I had passed it at least 10 times on morning jogs without thinking twice, so it might as well have been.

I went to see my professor and his Latin-Jazz band, SYOTOS, perform at a 10 o’clock set. On certain nights, there are two or three acts, so call ahead of time, or walk by 104th and Broadway to peak at the paper taped to the door.

There is no cover charge, but each set is approximately a $20 minimum. Basically, you can get an appetizer and dessert AND an intimate concert for a little over $20. If you want a full dinner, it might be a bit pricey, but you could just get a glass of wine and a dessert and call it a night. The music will not disappoint—not just any musicians get hired. You will feel swanky for the entire duration of your visit, I promise.

Now, for the more food-specific writing.

Continue reading SMOKE: a meal and a concert, two for the price of one