Thursday, September 23, 2010

Purple Elephant Cake Boutique: 1212 Lexington Ave. NY NY

I saw an online deal ( this morning to get 6 cupcakes for $8 and since this is a new bakery near me with a cute name and an even cuter logo, I figured I'd give it a shot. Normally, those same 6 would have cost a whopping $16.50.
It's a tiny, adorable storefront in a great location on Lexington ave, and the staff was smiley and welcoming.  There were 2 or 3 people mixing, pouring and frosting in the little open kitchen and it smelled woonnnnnderful in there.
I asked the person helping me which was his favorite flavor and his response made it quite clear that he adores these treats. Everything looked appealing so I decided to let him choose my 1/2 dozen for me. I asked if they freeze well and was told that yes they do, just take them out an hour before you want one. Hooray! My plan was to eat one and freeze the rest for another day. 
These cupcakes are a nice petite size- not the overwhelmingly enormous ones that so many of the other cupcake shops sell. The one I chose to eat today was the counter guy's favorite, chocolate sweet & salty. 
The salty, caramel frosting was excellent. I am VERY picky when it comes to frosting- I almost always prefer none at all. This had NONE of the qualities that I dislike about frosting. It wasn't the least bit oily or chemically, not too dense, light and fluffy and a deeeeeelicious combo of flavors. The salt cut the sugary sweetness so perfectly that the flavors really stood on their own rather than competing. The caramel swirl on top added a sticky, gooey component that enhanced the whole cupcake. The cake itself was the only part that I wasn't thrilled about, and that just seems silly. It pretty much fell apart after my first bite and was so crumbly that I wound up eating it with a spoon. The flavor of the cake was a rich, deep chocolate, but the texture wasn't impressive. Dry and crumbly instead of moist and spongy. It wasn't bad, but did not live up to the bar that was set by the above-average frosting. 
Then I put the remaining 5 cupcakes into the freezer.
2 hour later I went back in. 
I chose the cookies & cream. Instead of waiting the suggested hour before eating I dug right in. After all, they'd only been in there for 2 hours and weren't frozen solid yet. YUM! Good choice! Now I'm really not sure if this was simply a moister, better cake or if the freezer time actually helped but either way, WOW! It had a cookies and cream filling and frosting with a vanilla cake and it was fabulous. Now I'm confused. I need your input! Go visit the purple elephant and leave your comments here! 
Overall, I think it's a good neighborhood cupcake shop and If I have a craving without enough time to run down to Kyotofu for my absolute favorite cupcake in the city, I'll probably drop in again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gustorganics: 519 Sixth Ave. New York, NY

I am SO lucky to have a friend who continually buys coupon deals for great restaurants and then realizes that they are about to expire. Being the friend of hers who works at night and is usually free for lunch, I seem to keep benefiting from these purchases with lovely lunches and great company.
Today we went to Gustorganics near Union Square. I looked up the reviews online to find a very mixed bag- some great and some horrible. Lucky for us, we had a great experience.
The atmosphere is bright, sunny, clean, modern and springy. We loved the 'living wall' behind the bar filled with beautiful growing plants. The tables and menus were woody/grainy organic-ness that coordinated so nicely with the whole feel. Grass green cushions on the benches and chairs felt earthy too, and were surprisingly comfortable.  Displays of stones and moss were tasteful and carefully placed in thoughtful stacks. Even the bathroom was cool- with a long wooden sink and open feel.
The menu was very reasonably priced for organic food- and really for NY food in general. Plenty of sandwiches, salads, pizzas and more to choose from for under $10. I sipped my tasty 1/2 iced tea,1/2 lemonade while we figured out what we wanted to order. We decided to share two entrees and a dessert. The flatbread pizza was delicious, covered in caramelized onions and fat, juicy mushrooms. The thin crust made it perfectly chewy without being too filling. The sandwich was grilled veggies and cheese on a folded tortilla with a small side mesclun salad. Again, it was all very tasty and fresh. Healthy, but satisfying.
At the suggestion of our waitress, we shared 2 cookies for dessert. Shortbread filled with dulche de leche cream. One was dipped in dark chocolate and the other was rolled in coconut. Both were rather enjoyable and different from any cookies I've had before. I would definitely recommend Gustorganics if you're nearby and like clean, healthy, organic food. Though I'm not a big drinker, I plan to go back for cocktails someday because the drink menu was extremely appealing with only organic wines and liquors. Great find!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fulton Seafood Exchange: U.S. Open food court

I always look forward to attending the U.S. Open each fall. I'm not a huge tennis fan, I don't know all the top players names and at best I'm only a semi-decent player myself, but there is something about the thrill of watching incredible sports played live and the buzz of the excited crowd.
The kind of people who go to watch tennis are so different than the type of people who go to see football or baseball, and the plethora of options in the food court reflect that. You'll only see a tiny of handful of people with hot dogs and beer here, these folk tend to gravitate more towards things like grey goose cocktails and sushi.
Following suit, my mother and I decided to share the lobster and shrimp salad and the salmon sandwich. Considering the generous amount of seafood in the salad, I actually thought that $18.75 was fairly reasonable for it. (The $4.50 soda was the real rip off- available in only one size which was medium-ish. If you wanted a bigger one, you had to buy the $6.50 souvenir cup which was ridiculous) The shrimp and lobster were totally delicious although there was a lot of mayo in there which neither my mom or I am a big fan of. Large pieces and cooked the right amount, the seafood was a pleasant surprise when we really expected to get just a tiny bit on top of greens. The salad was very lightly dressed with just a tiny bit of lemon juice, and it was a fantastic lunch on a hot summer day. The salmon sandwich wasn't quite as good, but it was fine- simply prepared with tarter sauce, lettuce and one really minuscule piece of under-ripe tomato. The roll was kinda crumbly and not that fresh....but still, MUCH better options than the expected hot dogs and beer.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bistro chat Noir: 22 East 66th st. NY NY

My friend bought an online deal to this restaurant and I was thrilled to get to try it out with her. They have a very pretty little outdoor seating area in front, but it was too hot to stay outside so we opted for in. It's a  pretty setting with lovely flower arrangements, but it was mostly empty except for a few tables. The service, considering that there was hardly anyone else to wait on, was polite but very slow and not particularly attentive.
On a hot summer day cheesy macaroni with truffles isn't exactly the first thing I'd normally gravitate to on a menu. Since the offering was an appetizer, and my friend really wanted to share it, we went for it and it was a good decision. So creamy and delicious with pieces of truffle big enough to see and taste. It was by FAR the best thing we ordered for lunch today.
To offset our ridiculous saturated fat indulgence, we both chose salads for entrees. My friend had the chopped chicken salad and I had the shrimp Cobb. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the key elements in a Cobb salad the bleu cheese? Well, pictured below our mac & cheese is the ONE tiny piece of bleu cheese that came with my salad. Ummm. Really? Did this one crumb fall off of another salad or was it deliberately placed there? If the latter, wow that's pretty f-ing ridiculous. If not, maybe the chef needs to brush up on her key cobb salad ingredients list. By the time the waitress came back to check on us, I had already eaten half the salad and was too full to bother sending it back. She asked if I wanted a side of bleu cheese- but I was already pretty 'over it'. It was otherwise a pretty poor salad anyway. The dressing was completely boring and not even a little bit original or creative- I'm pretty sure it was just olive oil and lemon. The shrimp were fresh and grilled nicely, but almost inedible they were so over-salted. The tomatoes, given the fact that this is the prime time of year for awesome tomatoes, were very so-so. The bacon was just bad. Chewy thick chunks. Ew. I barely finished half of my entree and was pretty glad we decided to have the appetizer and the yummy bread and butter than came first. So, aside from the fact that my evening run is going to be carb-fueled as if I'm running a marathon and not just a few miles, this lunch was a pretty huge waste of time and money. (Although It was a real pleasure to catch up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while) All in all, it was such a disappointment that I didn't even bother considering dessert...and for me and my sweet tooth, that says a lot.