Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sweets and the City: Desserts from Everywhere

Yes, I'm one of those people who say dessert is the most important part of the meal. And yes, I sometimes skip the entree and go straight to dessert without thinking twice. All thanks to my massive, insane sweet tooth.

So, here's a dessert version of the list of noteworthy coffee shops that I posted a while back. Just like coffee, there are so many great options to get your sugar fix in the city, and the following are just a few of my recommendations (again, in no particular order).

1. Levain Bakery's chocolate chip walnut cookie — Upper West Side, Harlem

Chocolate chip walnut cookie — UWS location

Talk about heaven in cookie form. Levain Bakery's chocolate chip walnut cookie is seriously a godsend — and that's an understatement. This incredibly rich, indulgent and HUGE cookie will set you back $4, but as soon as you sink your teeth into this glorious creation, you'll know that every single penny is worth it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY: Fool-Proof Birthday Cake

Oh, look, another DIY! Maybe I will post these most often than I thought...

Anyway, it was my best friend's birthday last week (HAPPY BIRTHDAY again, SARAH), and of course, I had to bake something to celebrate. I decided I'd go with my fool-proof chocolate cake recipe (not made in a mug this time), which, surprisingly, comes from Hershey's. I first tried this recipe a few years back for my then-boyfriend's birthday, and while I was weary at first about the 1 cup of boiling water the recipe calls for, I was so pleasantly surprised with the result that this soon became my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

For accompaniment, I made a very simple dark chocolate ganache, which glistened beautifully on top of the super moist cake. I love making ganache not only because it's such an easy fix when you need something to top a boring cake but also because it requires a lot fewer ingredients than a whipped cream or frosting yet tastes just as good.

On top of the ganache, I placed some blackberries, her favorite fruit, and dusted some powdered sugar to make it pretty.

Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and blackberries

Super moist cake + rich and smooth ganache + sweet yet tart blackberries = happy, happy birthday girl and friends.

For the recipes:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quickie: AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar

TL; DR: ★★★★☆

For a small reunion with a couple of fellow wolverines, I headed to AYZA Wine & Chocolate Bar right by Koreatown on Saturday night. We had made reservations for 8:30, and it was a good thing we did because the place was packed when we got there. 

The food, wine and ambiance are really awesome. I tried a chocolate wine ($10) for the first time, despite having heard not-so-great things about it (chocolate wine in general, not Ayza's particularly), and I was so pleasantly surprised as I could actually taste the chocolate. The aroma was incredibly intoxicating — it smelled like dark chocolate raspberry — and the sweet hint of chocolate worked very well with the bitterness of a classic red wine.

Moscato D'Asti, Muscat and chocolate wine
Cheesecake and dark chocolate fondue

The desserts we got were also great: The dark chocolate fondue ($10) was fun and came with a decent spread of dippings, and the cheesecake ($8 — highly recommended) was deliciously rich and smooth. 

The only down side of this place was that the service was super slow, although our server was very friendly, and the portions were quite small compared to the prices, especially with the wine. 

Nonetheless, this is a great place for a date (really great date spot, actually; it's very romantic) and/or catching up, and chatting up a storm, with friends as we did. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Hidden Gem: Cafe Condesa

TL;DR: ★★★★★

Despite the inattentive staff, the simply awesome food and romantic-yet-cozy atmosphere makes this place a five-star gem in the West Village.

Food: ★★★★★
Ambiance: ★★★★★
Staff: ★★★★☆

Price: $$
Number of visits: 1

Inside Cafe Condesa
10th St. & 7th Ave.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Update: The Halal Guys Are Coming!

So, The Halal Guys must've heard me wonder (or read my post?! :D) yesterday about their new location in the EV because I just came across this article by DNAinfo on Eater NY — and it's been confirmed! The Halal Guys will open their first-ever storefront on 14th & 2nd in November.

Needless to say, a great addition to the village!

Wooooo, Halal all day, errday (JK, that'd be gross, and I'd die, like, next month)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Spotted: The Halal Guys in East Village

Look what I saw on my way home from work today: The Halal Guys! They had their cart propped up on 14th St. and 2nd Ave. I've seen them here a few times within the last week — I wonder if this a permanent satellite location?

14th St. & 2nd Ave.

For a review on their ★★★★★-food: