Smorgasburg

In the years past, I’ve always made my annual Smorgasburg visit in early May – to beat the heat and the crowds. This year, since I was waiting for my cousin and his niece, we didn’t end up going until mid-June. If you’re going anytime during the summer months of late-June, July, or August, be sure to wear a lot of sunscreen and go early! In the earlier months of April and May, it doesn’t begin to get crowded until closer to 1:30/2:00. But in the summer, you definitely need to go at 11:00am to beat the crowds and the lines!

We walked around a little bit before I settled on what I wanted to try. My first order of business was Big Mozz Sticks for their fresh, made-to-order mozzarella sticks (4 long sticks for $8.00). Last year at Smorgasburg, Big Mozz was serving these delicious freshly made mozzarella bombs with pesto on the inside. Their new product this year did not disappoint at all. The mozzarella was gooey and cheesy and the mozz sticks just felt fresh and light – nothing like pizzerias at all.

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My second order of business was to finally try the chicken wings at Dan & John’s Wings, which has been a Smorgasburg regular for years now. I ordered their boneless wings (5 pieces for $8.00) with mild sauce since I’m not a huge spice person. The wings were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – a perfect combination.

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To combat the growing heat, I had one of my two usual drink vendors – Brooklyn Soda Works (my other being Kelvin Slush). I’ve had their blueberry soda before so this time I opted to try the Cherry Vanilla ($5.00), which was delightful. It kind of tasted like if you mashed a Cherry Coke and a Vanilla Coke together, which is awesome because they’re my two favorite flavors of soda.

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After we finished chowing down on the savory goodies, we moved onto the dessert portion of our trip. First up, gai dan jai, or egg waffles. Gai dan jai is a childhood staple for many Chinese kids, myself included. Back when I was younger, they used to be everywhere in Chinatown. Now there’s probably one stand on Canal Street and my favorite little old man cart on Grand Street (he’s only there on odd days now). So when the egg waffle cone craze started, I was super excited! I’ve had Eggloo, so I knew I had to try Wowfulls. We had their Wowfulls Creation ($9.00), which features Matcha Green Tea Gai Dan Jai with white chocolate chips inside and your choice of vanilla ice cream or their crazy ice cream. It’s all topped with mocha, green tea Pocky, and a drizzle of your choice. We opted for the fruity pebbles dust. The end result is this crispy egg waffle with delicious ice cream in the middle. The mochi was soft and the waffle was perfectly made.

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I also made a pit stop at Baonanas before we left. Baonanas sells “light and fluffy puddings”, according to their banner. I do have to agree – the puddings are, indeed, very light a fluffy. I opted for the double scoop ($7.00), because it allowed me to pick two flavors. They let you try one and I opted to try their Lychee Rose flavor. It was pretty good – but I also wanted to try their banana, which is their signature and most popular. I felt that both were tasty – but the Lychee Rose was definitely lighter and less sweet.

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All in all, I think it was a very successful Smorgasburg visit. We’ll be back in September to give some of the other places a try – I especially want to try the new kids on the block – Jianbing Co. for their Shanghai-inspired street food.

 

Disney Roundup: Raglan Road + Wolfgang Puck

Since we ended up with 7 nights of table-service credits, I picked a combination of new and old restaurants. We revisited Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in Magic Kingdom because we really liked our experiences there last time. We ate at five new restaurants during our stay but I want to highlight Raglan Road, Wolfgang Puck and Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney.

Raglan Road is an Irish themed restaurant located in Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney. There’s live performances during dinner – usually Irish tap dancers. They perform both on the main stage and in the side dining areas, where we were seated. There were a lot of yummy options on the menu but I opted for their special of the day – Baked Cod in a creamy sauce on top of mashed potatoes. I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes and any kind of cream sauce so this was heaven for me. The cod was tender and cooked just right. The sauce wasn’t overpowering at all and paired very nicely with the mashed potatoes.

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For dessert, I had the Key Lime Pie, which was huge! The key lime was just tart enough without being overly sour and the crust was nice and crunchy. This feels more like a two person dessert to share – especially if you’ve eaten a huge entree beforehand.

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Wolfgang Puck is located in the West Side of Downtown Disney. Since we stayed at Port Orleans, who have a River Ferry to the West Side, we didn’t have to walk far at all. I only wish that it didn’t rain so much, which causes the ferry to close! I liked Wolfgang Puck because it had a lot of different dishes on the menu – you could get pasta, pizza, sushi and a variety of entrees. I went with the Pesto Rotisserie Chicken with mashed potatoes and an arugula salad. The portion size was huge! The chicken was tender and not dry at all. The pesto sauce was strong and tasted really good mixed with the mashed potatoes. This dish is definitely worth your money.

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My mom and sister both went with their Salmon with polenta, which I thought was amazing. The salmon was cooked perfectly and wasn’t dry at all. The polenta gave the dish more flavor and the fresh veggies really made the dish pop.

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Both meals were beyond my expectations. Even though Downtown Disney isn’t technically a theme park, it is affiliated with one so I wasn’t expecting too much from either restaurant. Especially since the night before our visit to Wolfgang Puck, we had a pretty disastrous dinner at Planet Hollywood. But all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner at Raglan and Wolfgang Puck and will definitely put them on my Disney must-go list for our next visit.

Smorgasburg 2014

It’s time for my annual trip to Smorgasburg! Every summer, the Boyfriend and I try to make it to Smorgasburg at least once to try out the new vendors. We always see some familiar stands – Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mimi & Coco, Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Dough, Brooklyn Soda Works, and Mighty Quinn’s. But every year, there are brand new stands that we’ve never seen before – and definitely want to try out.

We arrived around 11:00am, which is when they open, so we walked around to take a look at all the stands first. Our first stop was at the Ramen Burger stand. Despite trying it last summer when it first came out, we both wanted to get one this time. Because we were there just when the stand opened, we only waited about five minutes since we were 3rd in line. This time around, they have cheese option – I’m a cheese lover so I opted in. Each burger with cheese comes up to $10 each, which is a bit pricey but you’re paying for a delicious burger! I actually prefer having the cheese on it since it gives the burger a bit more flavor. I only wish the burger wasn’t so fully cooked!

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After we polished off our ramen burgers, we walked around a bit more to see all the options. We walked by Lonestar Empire just as they pulled out a beautiful piece of brisket. The smell and amazing appearance hooked us and we ordered their Slow-Smoked Texas style Brisket Sandwich ($9.00). You get your choice of moist, lean or a mixture of the two so we went for the moist. They have a few toppings you can add on to your taste but we decided to do it plain. The brisket was so soft and tender! It was very well flavored. We’re both not big brisket fans but this one definitely changed our minds!

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By now, we’re getting pretty hot so we stopped by People’s Pops for some Shave Ice ($2.50). They have two flavors and we opted for the Plum Orange Blossom flavor, which was both tart and sweet. The shave ice takes a long time to melt so it’s great for snacking on while you walk around the stands.

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At 12pm, the beer garden opens so we went straight in for some day drinking! I opted for the Rum Punch ($12.00). They use a good amount of rum in the cocktail so it’s at medium strength. It was just enough rum for me to taste it but not so much that it was like a punch in the face. It was nice and refreshing – I love summery-tropical drinks!

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We then headed over to Ca’pisci for some Calamari Salad ($8.00). They toss chunks of squid, tomatoes and homemade croutons together to made this calamari salad. It’s a better deal than their squid sticks, which are the same price. It’s light and refreshing and a must have if you’re a squid fan! The salad was a perfect for the hot weather because it’s chilled.

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My favorite drink of the day, which I went back for seconds of, was from Bellocq, which sells loose leaf teas as well as two iced teas. The iced teas of the day ($3.00 each) were #21 White Nixon Tea and #82 The Phoenix. Both teas are white teas and taste amazing chilled. I had the White Nixon Tea, which has hints of white peony and grapefruit while the Boyfriend had The Phoenix, which has hints of fruit, orchid and honey. We both agreed that the White Nixon is better suited for summer since it is fruiter and lighter. We finished both our teas and went back for a second cup!

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For dessert, we went with an ice cream sandwich from The Good Batch. A friend had previously Instragram-ed a picture of the Nutella-Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich ($6.00) from them so I knew I had to try that one. And it was a great decision because it was so good! The cookie was just hard enough to hold the sandwich together and the nutella + nuts in the sandwich made it both smooth and crunchy at the same time. I quickly gobbled it up and hardly left any for the Boyfriend!

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If you haven’t been to Smorgasburg yet, I really recommend that you make a trip soon! There’s so many different cuisines to try out – there’s West African, Ethiopian, Columbian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American, Mexican, and so much more! But remember to go early or else there will be huge crowds and lines.

Broadway Bites 2014

After watching Maleficient at 34th street, the Boyfriend and I stumbled upon Broadway Bites, a seasonal popup market located at the intersection of 33rd street and Broadway in Greeley Square Park. We noticed a bunch of familiar vendors like Mexicue, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Mighty Balls and Roberta’s. But we also saw a few vendors that we haven’t tried yet!

Our first stop was at Onigiri by Tampopo, which serves Japanese rice balls. They had a variety of rice ball fillings but we opted to go for the Salmon Scallion ($5 each). The prepare it to order so your rice ball is always toasty warm and ready to eat. Even though I’m not a huge fan of scallion, I thought the filling was pretty good. It was light and flavorful – perfect for a hot afternoon.

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Our next top was NuNu Beers & Scoops, which was serving up a variety of alcoholic beverages and chocolates. We opted for the Frozen White Wine Sangria since it was pretty hot. The plastic cups they serve it in is pretty small but the sangria was really strong. The moment the ice starts to melt, you can sip at the delicious goodness!

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We also made a top at Mimi & Coco for some takoyaki and edamame. If you order takoyaki on it’s own, it’s $8 for six, but if you order a side with it, it’s $10 total for both. The takoyaki was pretty good but I really liked the edamame – probably because it was so hot outside and the edamame was super chilled!

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Our final stop was at CAЯNAVAL, which serves up Brazilian cuisine. Despite the fact that the corn and sandwiches looked very delicious, we were eying the churros. Their churros are made to order – they have this little machine that squeezes the dough out in a churro shape. They’re then fried and rolled in sugar. Brazilian churros are filled with dulce de leche so that’s exactly how we ordered ours – it’s sweeter and messier than we’re used to but it was still pretty good!

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There’s not a lot of room to sit and eat – they have some high tables for standing but that’s about it. It’s definitely not a place to really catch up with friends or have a leisurely meal. But it is a great place for a quick snack or drink! I highly recommend NuNu’s frozen sangria!

The Magic Soufflé

After hearing about Dominique Ansel Bakery’s newest addition – the Magic Soufflé ($7.00 each), I knew I had to give it a try. I’m a huge soufflé fan so I was particularly excited for this one. On my first visit, I went around 12pm and they were all sold out. I finally forced myself to leave my house early one day and made it around 9:30am. The famous Cronuts were all sold out but there was still a very long line to get into the bakery. 

Once you order, the baking takes about 10 minutes. They call your name when they’re done and you’re presented with a cute little soufflé in a carnival popcorn container. The Magic Soufflé is basically a chocolate soufflé baked inside a toasted orange blossom brioche shell. The entire dessert has a hint of Grand Marnier. 

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They suggest you tear it open right away before all the chocolate completely cooks. I did so and I could still see oozy chocolate. I really enjoyed the contrast in textures – the brioche was a bit crunchy while the chocolate was soft on the inside. The combination was a great warm-up to the chilly weather! 

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Lady M Part 2

One day, before class, the Boyfriend suggested we head over to The Plaza Food Hall for a Lady M coffee break. It’s a little bit of a walk from Columbus Circle but it was a nice day so we decided on a little stroll. We arrived at almost exactly eleven o’clock so all the vendors were just opening up. Although some vendors were still in the process of setting up shop, Lady M had already sold a handful of slices of their famous Mille Cake.

I have had their Original, Green Tea and Coconut flavors before so I wanted to try something new. I opted for a slice of the Citron Mille Cake and a slice of the Banana-Chocolate. The Banana-Chocolate is exclusive to the Plaza Food Hall so I definitely wanted to give it a try.

My first bite was the Citron, which features fresh lemon custard in between thin crepes. The top of the cake is covered with powdered snow-sugar and candied lemon. This was one of the lightest pieces of cake I have ever eaten. I felt like I was eating cotton candy the entire time. There was a slight lemon flavor but not overly so. I felt like I was eating a pillowy lemon meringue cake!

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But the highlight of the trip was the Banana-Chocolate, which features a banana pastry cream with chocolate crepes. This one caught my eye when I read about it on a Serious Eats’ article. On our visit to the flagship store, I had asked for this one but was told it was exclusive to the Plaza Food Hall. The worker at the flagship actually told me that it was his least favorite of them all. In my opinion, the Banana-Chocolate is the best Mille flavor after the Original. There was such a strong banana flavor. It brought me back to my trips to Disney World where they sell frozen chocolate-covered bananas.

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The slices at the Plaza Food Hall are a tad smaller than the slices at the flagship store. Since they only get a certain amount of cakes per day, I can understand why they would want to conserve their cakes. A friend of mine went to the Plaza Food Hall in the afternoon to pick up a few slices for his sister but they were all sold out. These babies sell out insanely fast so make sure you visit early if you want to try them out!

Sprinkles

Cupcake time! I spend a lot of my time looking up sweets because it’s quite possibly my favorite food. My mom keeps telling me I’m going to get diabetes by the time I’m 25 because all I want to do is eat sweet things. I’m always on a perpetual search for the best cupcake in all of New York City. For me, so far, the best is Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Even after trying the California-favorite, Sprinkles, SSS is still my favorite.

Facebook was doing a Buy-One-Get-One-Free deal for Sprinkles so I decided to grab the deal and try these famous cupcakes out. Since I went on a Tuesday and not a Friday, they didn’t have their Chai Latte flavor. I was a little sad since it was the flavor I wanted but I heard good things about their other flavors as well. I went with their Banana Dark Chocolate (right) and Black and White (left). Each cupcake would’ve been $3.50 each but I only paid for one. Good deal.

The Banana Dark Chocolate was my favorite. It tasted like I was eating a real banana. The bittersweet chocolate frosting wasn’t too sugary. The best part was the fact that it didn’t fall apart despite the various trips on the MTA. However, I do have a complaint – the cupcake tasted kind of like a banana muffin. The texture wasn’t as soft as I’d like it to be.

The same goes for the Black and White cupcake. The frosting was just right but the cupcake itself was a bit muffin-like. There wasn’t the same soft consistency of a cupcake that I’m used to. These cupcakes aren’t as bad as Crumbs in my option but they’re definitely not as good as Sugar Sweet Sunshine by any chance. The pricing also decreases my desire to buy them again. I understand that this is a brand name cupcake but $3.50 for just one is a bit steep.

All in all, if there’s another deal, I’d make a stop at Sprinkles. If not, I’ll probably skip it and head to Bloomies for some froyo instead.