Westville – West Village

It was a pretty chilly day so I was seriously craving some tomato soup and grilled cheese. We usually head to Bouchon Bakery when I get this craving – their combo is one of the best I’ve ever had. But since it’s a bit of a trek now since we’re no longer going to school in midtown, the Boyfriend found Westville, which serves up some delicious grilled sandwiches. We arrived around 1:30pm on a weekday and there were three other parties waiting in front of us for a table. We came at a opportune time though because we only waited about 15 minutes – several parties left at the same time. The place is pretty small so definitely be prepared for a wait! Their soup of the day was a creamy tomato soup so we decided to get that to split. It was pretty tasty – definitely not Bouchon or Juliette status for me, but it was pretty good. It definitely fulfilled the craving that I had! IMG_5538 We also split their Smokey Mac & Cheese ($8.00). It was done with huge spirals, which was a new one for me. The bottom was really, really creamy while the top layer was crispy and smokey. It really did taste like smoked cheese! I’d come back for this mac & cheese alone. IMG_5539 We’re huge piggies so we each also got a sandwich after we split the first two. The Boyfriend had the Beer Battered Po’Boy Sandwich with homemade tartar sauce and fries ($10.00). It was a lot bigger portion than we both expected but it was definitely good. The po’boy was crunchy and well seasoned. I only wish there was more tartar sauce cause I’m a fiend for it! IMG_5541 I went with their Grilled Cheese ($8.00), which features a blend of cheddar and gouda on a Portuguese muffin with bacon. The Portuguese muffin is sweet so it was a nice contrast of sweet and salty. It was definitely very well grilled and the cheeses mixed well together. Throw in some bacon and you’re in grilled cheese heaven. Everything is better with bacon! You also get your choice of fries or salad with this sandwich so it definitely makes a hearty meal. IMG_5540 We were definitely too full by the end for dessert but I was definitely eying their pies a la mode. Maybe next time I shall save some room for a piece of pie! Quick tip: Their bathroom is a super tiny closet in the back of the kitchen area so be very careful when you’re going back and forth!

Earl’s Beer & Cheese

After over a year and a half on top of our food list, the Boyfriend and I finally decided to make the hike up to Earl’s Bear & Cheese in East Harlem. We’ve heard a lot of good things about their grilled cheeses so our expectations were pretty high. We arrived around 12pm on a Thursday afternoon and it was pretty empty. There were only two other parties there so we managed to get a table seat instead of the high-tops.

We ordered at the bar and they brought our food over. We started with the Foie Grad Taco ($12.00 each), which features seared foie gras on top of a large tortilla with crinkle fries and a slice of cheddar cheese. We decided on the taco on impulse and it turned out to be the best order of the day. The foie gras was perfectly seared and all the juices from the liver oozed with each bite. I honestly could come here again and just eat 2 of these and be completely satisfied.

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We then shared the NY State Cheddar Grilled Cheese ($8.00), which is their signature grilled cheese. This sandwich features NY State cheddar cheese, pork belly, kimchi and a fried egg on top of sourdough bread. The bread was thick and crunchy and did not fall apart at all. The pork belly and kimchi paired really well with the cheddar and the fried egg was just the icing on the cake.

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We also shared the Mac & Cheese ($8.00), which is made with goat cheese and rosemary. The mac & cheese, although tasty, was my least favorite of the day. The taco and grilled cheese was just so good that the mac & cheese was a bit bland compared to them.

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Next time, I definitely want to try the Beer Cheese, which is one of their specialties. The service is friendly and we never felt rushed. I will definitely be back for more cheesy goodies!

Smorgasburg

Saturday afternoon brought the Boyfriend and I to Smorgasburg on the Williamsburg waterfront. Smorgasburg, which runs every Saturday and Sunday, is host to over 75 different vendors. Each visit is slightly different than the previous one as some vendors change weekly based on availability. This Saturday, we started off at Dough, which is usually located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. They didn’t have my favorite flavor (blood-orange) so we settled for Passionfruit Chocolate Nibs ($2.75 each). The doughnut itself was very good but I thought the passionfruit flavor was a bit weird. I think next time I’ll probably try their famous Hibiscus instead. IMG_4506 As I was waiting on the line for Dough, the Boyfriend stumbled on the infamous Ramen Lab’s Ramen Burger line. At 11:20am, the line was already 188 burgers deep. We were #189 and #190. They were serving 400 burgers that day so we were about the halfway point. They only allow one burger per person so make sure if only one person is lining up for a group – round up the group before ordering! IMG_4518 IMG_4523 The line is pretty slow (took us TWO hours to get our burgers!) because they only have one grill and it is split into two sections – one side for burgers and another side for the ramen “buns”. There is one cook on each side with three workers unwrapping the burger patties and “buns”. One worker mans the register while two other workers sets up the burger. IMG_4520 You start with one ramen “bun”, add mixed greens, put on the burger patty, a spoonful of their special sauce and it’s all finished with a handful of chopped scallions and the other ramen “bun”. The burger is then wrapped in a circular wrapper that allows you to eat the burger without taking it out of the wrapper. Genius! Each burger is $8, which isn’t too bad considering how much work goes into preparing one. IMG_4524 IMG_4526 IMG_4527 We quickly found a nearby ledge and began feasting. Boy, that first bite was absolutely heavenly. We both thought the ramen “buns” were very tasty – and intriguing! The ramen was still chewy and bouncy despite the fact that they were in a solid block form. The patty was well seasoned and the special sauce was a nice compliment. It tasted a bit like Chapagetti sauce, which is a sweet black bean sauce used in a Korean instant noodle dish. I’m not sure if I would wait 2 hours again but it was pretty damn good. IMG_4529 As the Boyfriend waited, I would walk around and bring back goodies to the Ramen Burger line. First we tried Landhaus’ Maple Glazed Bacon. It’s more pork belly than bacon but regardless it was very well seasoned. They come $3 for 1 piece or $8 for 3 pieces. I opted for 3 pieces, which we split between the two of us. Because it’s barbequed, the bacon was a bit tougher than we’re used to so biting was a bit hard. You’re better off being a piggy and sticking the entire piece in your mouth. IMG_4509 My second trip around brought us two new items. First was Takumi Taco’s Spicy Tuna Taco ($6.00), which features big eye tuna, jicama, avocado, cucumber, and spicy mayo on top of a fried gyoza shell. The gyoza shell was very crunchy and held together better than your typical corn taco shell. The tuna was just the right amount of spicy but I wish there was a bit more for the price tag! IMG_4511 I also brought back Lumpia Shack’s Filipino-style spring rolls ($7.00 for 6 pieces). I opted for the vegetarian option – Truffled Adobo Mushroom, which features three types of mushrooms: cremini, shitake, and enoki. The spring rolls are topped with truffled aioli and pickled red chili peppers. The spring rolls were super crunchy but be careful because they are spicy! IMG_4510 The last treat that I brought back to the line was Pecan Patti’s Sweet Tea, which was a hot seller that day. Each sweet tea comes in a huge mason jar ($6.00), which is definitely the best deal out of all the vendors at Smorgasburg. The portion size lasts the longest and you get to keep the jar! I opted for the Citrus Sweet Tea, which features Orange, Lemon, Pineapple and Black Tea. The combination is refreshing, sweet and light all at the same time. I wanted to go back for another one but the line was way too long! It was even longer than the Mighty Quinn line! But I highly recommend this one – it was my favorite after the Ramen Burger. IMG_4516 IMG_4517 Although I didn’t try as many vendors this time as I did on my last Smorgasburg visit, I definitely thought the ones I did try this time were pretty outstanding. This is the first time I have waited two hours for a food item and I thought it was worth it. The Ramen Burger lived up to the hype and the sweet tea really quenched my thirst during the two-hour wait. I wish they made bottled versions of that stuff because it is delicious! You’ll have to go try it out for yourself!

Smorgasburg – My Trek to Food Paradise

After staring at the Smorgasburg website and all the vendors they had to offer in one place for over two years, the Boyfriend and I finally decided it was time to go. So along with the Boyfriend’s mom and her friend, we made our trip to the waterfront for some delicious food.

We arrived around 10:30 so we took a walk around to see the vendors setting up. The only vendor that was up and ready for sale after our original walk through was Brooklyn Piggies, which sells Pigs in a Blanket. Their Pigs in a Blanket comes in original or spicy. Since we had four people, we got 3 of them to share (3 for $5). The crust was very crispy and the little franks for very juicy. It was a great way to start off the day.

Our second stop was Shorty Tang & Sons, which serves cold sesame noodles. They use a wooden bucket to toss their noodles in their own combination of peanut sauce, sesame paste and chili oil. Each order is hand tossed on the spot whenever you order. This ensures that the noodles don’t soak up all the peanut sauce and become soggy.

We ordered one order to share between the four of us and it was just enough to get a good taste. One order can definitely fill you up entirely. The noodles were bouncy and cooked to perfection. There was a hint of spice, which was a nice compliment to the sauce.

After we finished the noodles, it was around 11am so we decided to head for the main attraction of the day – Red Hook Lobster Pound. While the Boyfriend’s mom took her time to decide between the Connecticut or the Maine style roll, I noticed that Dough was starting to sell their doughnuts. Dough is famous for their different take on doughnuts with flavors like passion fruit, hibiscus, and cheesecake.

I decided on their Blood Orange doughnut because it sounded so different. Each doughnut runs at $2.50 each but at the size it comes in, it’s more than worth it. The Blood Orange doughnut was amazing. Even the Boyfriend, who isn’t usually a fan of sweets, thought it was amazing. The doughnut was fried to perfection. Dough had managed to somehow capture the taste of blood oranges and transfer it to doughnut frosting.

While we were snacking on the doughnut, we headed over to Red Hook and made our order. I’ve had Maine style lobster rolls – chilled lobster tossed in mayo – before so I knew I had to try the Connecticut style. The Connecticut style, which features warm lobster tossed in butter, was perfection. The roll was toasted and buttered, which makes the entire dish warm and toasty. The buttered lobster meat really allowed the lobster flavor to shine through. Despite the fact that it’s $16 a pop, I would definitely recommend giving them a taste – at least once!

On our hunt for something to eat, the Boyfriend and I walked by Mighty Quinn’s and noticed the long line. We decided that getting on the line earlier was a better idea than later when more people started to arrive at the flea. The Boyfriend and I decided to share their beef brisket slider. The sliders are $5 for a small and $8 for a large. We decided on the smaller size because we wanted to try more foods later on. The brisket was very tender and some pieces melts in your mouth. No wonder there was a line!

We decided that our first drink would be Kelvin Natural Slush Co., which was a Vendy Awards winner for Best Dessert. I noticed them setting up earlier in the morning and was actually pretty curious to what they were serving. The method used here was that you pick your base slush – either Ginger or Arnold Palmer – and then you pick your mix-in, which is basically the flavor you want.

I watched them make it and basically they fill one-third of the cup with the base slush and then add about another third of the mix-in flavor. After that, they finish up with more base slush in order to even out the flavor. We decided on the White Peach, which was a great choice. The slush was very even and didn’t have any odd chunks of ice. The peach flavor was very prominent without being too much. I would definitely go back for this!

While the Boyfriend and I were enjoying our slush at one of the picnic tables, his mom was wandering the flea and came back with one of Brooklyn Bangers’ sausages. She decided on their Kielbasa sausage, which is a Polish sausage. Neither the Boyfriend nor I really liked the onions on top but the sausage itself was very good. It was very juicy and when served piping hot, very delicious.

After some more wandering around, we stumbled upon Noodle Lane. Sometimes they serve mini hot cakes but today was just not our lucky day. Instead, we decided on sharing an order of their Dan Dan Noodles, which is served cold with spicy chili oil ($8). The noodles were very good but a bit on the spicy side, which is why I gave most of my share to the Boyfriend. The presentation was very nice and had it not been the spiciness, I would have eaten a lot more.

After Noodle Lane, we all agreed that we were pretty full. Time for dessert! While the other two went to check out Kumquat Bakery, the Boyfriend and I headed over to S’more Bakery. They torch all their s’mores on premise so they all come nice and hot. They serve two flavors – an original milk chocolate and a salted caramel. We opted for their S’more d’oeuvres, which comes with 3 mini versions of their original sized s’mores (3 for $4).

We opted for their original version, which features Madagascar vanilla marshmallows sandwiched in between two baby graham crackers with a milk chocolate ganache. It was fun watching the s’mores being toasted right in front of us. And eating them was even better – the marshmallows were melty and fluffy at the same time. It wasn’t overly sweet either – perfection!

Our last stop was Kumquat Bakery, which serves mini-cupcakes. Most mini-cupcakes are $1 each and some are $2, depending on the novelty of it. I decided to go with their Cilantes and Lime Margarita flavor. It was a wonderful choice. The cupcake was fluffy and the frosting wasn’t too soft. The best part was the sea salt sprinkled on top of each cupcake to imitate a margarita. I really liked that small touch because it made it all the more real.

While we were eating our cupcakes, we noticed that the next stand was Brooklyn Soda Works. They service handmade carbonated juices, which was something I’m always in the mood for. They give out samples on request so if you’re being indecisive, make sure you try it before you buy it! After trying the Ginger Apple, I decided to buy some. Buying a cup costs $4 but if you pay an extra $4 you get a class bottle to take it with you. We decided on the glass bottle. With tiny sample cups, we all were able to try the drink. I definitely loved it – there was a strong apple cider taste but the ginger was also present. Definitely a must try!

Despite the fact that there is no shade in the immediate vendor area, I was quite content. It was hot but not overly so. The fact that it is right by the river made it very breezy and nice to just sit and eat. The park area was a perfect place to sit and just enjoy the water breeze. If you have a free Saturday, think about making the trip to Smorgasburg. It’s definitely worth it.