the village tart: a sweet destination

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the village tart for me is all about the sweet stuff.  and while i cannot go there nearly every day, like these lucky girls, i will be stopping by whenever i’m in the neighborhood for a quick snack. i am still dreaming of this strawberry rhubarb almond frangipane.  this might be my perfect combination of rich, tart fruit with a slightly sweet, dense vanilla type cake and all that sweetness was cut perfectly with the creme fraiche.  i had to have this twice, and each time it was super.    on one visit, we did branch out with a cupcake, which was fine, and some very delicious, compact chocolate banana bread too.

i’m not the only one who seems to think the sweets at the village tart are better than the savory items, though there have been some mixed reviews (and boy has this place been reviewed).  we’ve tried the baked eggs, and the scallion quiche, which while the quiche had the most luxurious, creamy innards, its crust surprisingly was chewy, and much too heavy for that airy innards. i do love pichet ong, the “mastermind” behind this spot — i even have his cookbook though the recipes are a bit daunting — so i’ll be watching whatever, he does.  and i do like the space, a little like a spacious, light-filled french cafe (cute marble tables, walls filled with vintage mirrors) and definitely will keep coming back to the village tart to an afternoon pick-me-up.  the village tart, 86 kenmare street at mulberry street, manhattan, new york, 212.226.4980.

it’s not for lack of trying

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for the past few months, i have been dragging the family out nearly every weekend, several times a weekend in fact, to try out the many spots on my list in brooklyn, but so far at least,  we have failed to find spots that meet the cherrypatter standard of excellence.  so while i tend not to write about the places not to go to, i thought i might share today at least some of the flops, or maybe bad beginnings, that we’ve been experiencing of late. of course, there are plenty of places yet to try which could fill my “outer borough food slot” including the huge assortment of asian and latino spots in queens,  a few in sunset park, some destinations  in the williamsburg/greenpoint hood i haven’t yet visited (fette sau for one, along with peter pan donuts and of course this market) and mimi’s hummus out in ditmas park (purple yam wasn’t a winner either unfortunately).  so if you all have any thoughts as to what i’m missing please send them my way. but for something close to home in the south slope area, things have been a bust.

first off, benchmark. this place is right on our block so we were hopeful.   but our meal was overpriced, and very very bland.  the thickest hollandaise we’ve seen in a long while. we’ve heard better things about dinner (we sat outside for brunch) but given the pricing and the really unimpressive canned juice in our mimosas we won’t be back.

our third visit to buttermilk channel was not the charm.  while the space is lovely in an “easy to digest way”, the service is always a little bit off, and the food frankly just isn’t spectacular. even their much beloved almonds with bacon snacks (above) were not fresh — a little soggy and not at all appealing.  not sure why buttermilk continues to be so crazy busy but for the same money i would opt for prime meats or frankies.

other recent visits include calexico (pictured up top) which was fine for cheap, mexican food but nothing to go crazy over (locally, i prefer maria’s), and sue perette was just a little depressing. i had seen saipua’s rave review but for our meal, the foie gras was cool and dull, the fries overfried and coolish,  and the hanger steak and lamb were not of the best quality. and even more sad the place was empty so i think it might not be long for this world.   i also checked out the new scoopz on 5th avenue this weekend.  i could really use a good ice cream in our hood but scoopz doesn’t do the trick.  their chocloate gelato was watery and too sweet.  maybe their ices will be more successful.

lastly, two new spots didn’t quite hit the mark with us.  first up was fornino. that place was packed to the gills. however, i don’t think my favs –  robertas, franny’s or motorino — need to worry.  the fornino service was way off (no idea how to deal with kids despite the much maligned kids’ menu), the appetizers were unremarkable and the pizza was like a big cracker with cheese.  we also checked out seersucker a couple of weeks ago.   the chicken and dumplings, while a little salty, would be great for those cooler days, and i did like the crispy catfish appetizer (super spicy mayo based sauce) and the biscuit box. the iceberg salad (above) and the grilled steak though were pretty meh, and i was no fan of the shrimp and grits.  it was too mushy and didn’t work.  i love the space though, and the service was kind, and given that there were some highlights we’ll be back to see if they improve more generally.

so i clearly need to get ready for some eating far from home, and hopefully we’ll all be the better for it.

interview with bilgin turker of fred flare

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hello, everyone, i am here.   it’s been super hectic at home and at work so squeezing in my posts has been a wee bit challenging. it doesn’t help that i collapse into bed at 9:30 p.m.  hmmmm, how to stay up later and not be tired is my never answered question.  so getting back into the groove, first off is this interview, and later today will be an update on my brooklyn eating challenges.

for fun, fred flare is the best shop ever. although they have an excellent website, it is definitely more enjoyable to check out their very lively greenpoint shop.  i was happy to hear that fred flare’s manager, bilgin turker would share some of her favorite spots in the borough with lots of finds in greenpoint as well as a few trips into manhattan.    bilgin lives in brooklyn heights and she’s clearly obsessed about food although she also writes for fun, knows how to hip hop dance, and plays the drums.  and given that bilgin gets most of her wardrobe there, i think i might have to go by fred flare more often for clothes as they do have a nice, very affordable collection.   thanks so much bilgin.

shops:

for a wardrobe pick-me-up?

i work at the fred flare shop and i have to say we always have something to pick any wardrobe up. i think i own everything. no joke.

how to make sure you’re invited back and where do you get it?

even if your intentions are good and you want to help clean up after a party, never, ever put liquid hand soap in a friends dishwasher, especially if you have never used a dishwasher before. that just recently happened to my friend. bubbles everywhere! to quickly remedy that you can always show up with maybe a bottle of wine, exotic olive oil or extra paper towels.  dandelion wine has a great selection of vino.  heights chateau which is in my hood (brooklyn heights), has a great selection too. all you do is walk into the place and it’s like they have the bottle of wine waiting for you.  i love going to sahadi’s on atlantic ave for olive oil and nuts. there is so much yummy stuff there!

the best for snail mail greetings?

kate’s paperie and house of cards. click here for more: interview with bilgin turker of fred flare

shoegasm: quick and easy wardrobe update

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every season, i realize i need some new shoes, and yet don’t have time to scour every single shoe shop for something new, a little different and hopefully affordable.   in manhattan, i often tend to go to bloomingdales in desperation (they usually have a great, pricey vast selection) or this little humdrum shop filled with surprises on lexington just north of 77th (someday i’ll profile that one). for now,  if i’m in the big city, it’s shoegasm.  a bit of a chain, with three shops all south of 14th street,  with very affordable pricing  — lots of choices under or around $100 — there is no need to feel too much of an investment  and maybe even try to experiment a little.

shoegasm has plenty of trendy choices.  tons and tons of gladiator style sandals in shades of browns, blacks and metallics by people like bruno menegatti, plenty of  comfy, stylish looking shoes for work like oxfords by navid o’nadia or super casual clogs.  for dressed up flip flops, shoegasm has zillions of options including  good choice, madden girl, chelsea crew and diba.    in some ways shoegasm felt a wee bit brooklyn, as they had a bunch of brands i often spot way out here in brooklyn that are among my favorites like  the open toe flats mariana by golc in greens, pinks, greys and purples.  i was particularly fond of the open toe espradilles in bright red and blue and if it hadn’t been such a miserable day when i needed to get home, i would have certainly ventured out of my comfort zone so maybe i need to head back soon.

in the way back, shoegasm still had quite the selection of boots (i might be heading straight here in the fall) and a decent selection for men, though maybe a few too many loafers and slipons (totally not my style).  there were keds, kswiss and hightops and i did like these leather versions of new balance (my forever jogging shoe).  while friendly enough, sometimes the shop feels a little cheap, but really that’s ok, as long as you get what you want.   shoegasm, 71 8th avenue between 13th street and greenwich avenue, 212.691.2091; 383 broadway, 212.925.3800; and 20 west 23rd street between 5th and 6th avenues, 212.741.3288. all in manhattan.

girl cat: silky classics to covet

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although i have gone up and down atlantic avenue a zillion times, only this weekend did i finally venture into  girlcat.  i have clearly been missing our or on the bright side saving money.  this little shop, basically a shrine for all things designed by the very talented anya ponorovskaya, is a girly girl shop, mostly a dress shop with a few very classic, very beautiful items.  i am now officially obsessed with the audrey, the  girlcat signature reversible dresses.  these slightly retro, super practical yet elegant dresses, have impeccable tailoring and are made with fantastic substantial silks in deep colors like teals, rusts, creams and bronzes or slightly asian flower patterns with champagnes, blacks and pinks.   in all her dresses,  anya adds elements to  jazz them up  and keep the look fresh (buttons up the back, or keep it open to reveal a different lining.   she’s focused on the perfect fit.  the material has a little stretch and the styles are designed to create the most flattering figures for everyone.

girlcat had a few accessories.  some affordable baubles like a super cute chunky gold link necklace (at $89), and great little clutch leather patterned purses in oranges, greens and greys.  Anya has started to design both her own purses and these great shoes (green strappy high sandals, sparkly pumps).   the girlcat main goods are expensive with most dresses falling in the $495 range and shoes  in the high $200s.  but i could see making a splurge given the quality and longevity and given how much attention to detail anya provides.

i was also pretty smitten with anya’s current focus on red, and these particular shoes are made for me.   this picture set me dreaming of fall clothes  –  i’m hoping that my 5’4″ frame can really pull off wool red pants  and deep red cardigans  — and now anya can make it happen.  just in case the brooklyn store isn’t enough, anya has two girlcat shops in nolita and one down in miami.    girlcat, 380 atlantic avenue between bond and hoyt streets, brooklyn, 718.643.3863; and 167 and 235 elizabeth streets between houston and prince streets, manhattan, 212.966.9650.

kee’s chocolates: take two

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hope you all had a super memorial day weekend. ours went by in a flash. a p-rade in princeton, a wedding at 11 madison park, meeting up with old and new friends, checking out new and old eating haunts, a little cooking and of course adventures with the dog!  so for the start of what really feels like summer (yahoo!), i’m back to an old friend, kee’s chocolates, as i did one of my very first posts about this incredible chocolate shop in soho.  i discovered, for the first time, that kee’s has macaroons.   apparently, this is not a new phenomenon, just new to me.

these macarons were beautifully crafted, and came in all sorts of flavors like lavender, shiso, kaffir lime and raspberry.  they are light, jewels of a puffed up cookie with these incredibly vibrant flavors popping from the middle with lots of chocolate undertones.   i’ve been hunting for a great macaron place ever since itsy bitzy patiserie disappeared from the scene, and of course fauchon has long been gone.  there are plenty of other place in new york, documented here and here, but i think i’ll just keep coming back to kee’s.

kee’s chocolates is just too appealing especially as it’s a two-fer visit (excellent chocolates and macarons at the same time), and i also like this little strip of thompson street, as it feels like what soho used to feel like with way fewer of those unappealing chains.   kee’s chocolates, 80 thompson street between spring and broome, manhattan, new york, 212.334.3284.

doggy style: only the best for the beast

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it took me ages, and i thought i would never find it, but i have discovered the dog shop for me and for this lucky critter.   doggy style, located in soho, has the greatest stuff if you want to keep your dog looking good but not in a frou frou way.  i really have visited a ton of pet stores, and while there is one very fancy one downtown it’s just too over the top. i needed one that had high quality, great design stuff.  i loved everything in doggy style.  from the fantastic selection of collars and leashes with brands like bella bean, gorgeous george, wonderdog. (now if i could just keep ours clean, that is a challenge even though ours are washable). and there are huge dog beds in velvets and corduroys, browns, greens, purples in all graphic patterns  and corduroy.

and the tags were the best. this was my favorite bit of doggy style. real, beautiful handmade engraved sterling dog tags.  i of course couldn’t resist getting one for spello.  too bad i can’t get the government-issued tags to look so good.  doggy style also has an excellent assortment of pricey toys like ugly dolls, sock monkeys, vibram balls and those chewing bones above. so nice not to have them in the standard white, black or “kong” red.

and of course, i totally need new bowls now that this dog will be with me both at work and home, and doggy style has the best ceramic ones around.  they also have bowls from daisy dog studio and harry barker.  they also have all these fancy bowl holders (don’t think i need these) in silver, enamel and even wooden-like fruit boxes which is more for the rustic home setting.   the food selection looked very tasty if you’re into chewing with glass containers full of free range bully sticks, beef tail and curly tendons.  there were organic peanut butter bacon biscuits by little lulus, the stella & chewy’s duck duck goose dinner or the dandy lamb dinner by robby dawg.   given it’s price point, doggy style is not for every day, but i sure will be going there for just a few indulgences now and then.   doggy style, 73 thompson street between spring and broome streets, manhattan, new york, 212.431.9200.

brooklyn general: for the handy among us

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although my life and hers are completely different, i just cannot get enough of soule mama.  maybe it is my love of little house in the prairie, but something about how she is raising her family, and doing all those crafts and making all those incredibly adorable outfits, sometimes just make me want to move to maine (oh right, i forgot it is quite chilly up there).   so, while i cannot make a single thing (i did have home ed in 7th grade, and made some fine shorts — one leg was white with red polka dots and the other was red with white polka dots) my sewing skills never proceeded any further.  and i know that was a real shame.

so while i definitely don’t sew, and have no plans to do that or even knit (even being bored out of my mind in china for days at a time couldn’t get me to crack those needles), i do appreciate a quality shop and brooklyn general store has got to be the be all and end all for fabrics, materials and yarns in brooklyn.   located out in cobble hill along the bqe (right next to calexico if you want some spicy treats), brooklyn general store is quite big and full of fantastic finds.  the fabrics are gorgeous — prints by kokka with little marching men, cars, musical instruments. other brands include tana lawn, michael miller and anna maria.

yarns of course come in all materials, marino wool in purples, blues, and pinks. there is claudia hand painted yarns.  they have yarns from baby cashmerino from debbie bliss, road to china, schoppel wolle and the manos del uruguay wool.  and then there are classes up the wazoo for sewing, fair isle knitting, photo embroidery, toy knitting (oh i so want one of these dolls via the waldorf model), crochet and pattern making.  and if you don’t want to craft, or just want to pretend that you do, brooklyn general store has some cute items for sale too like swans island and ratzer blankets, hats by jomade and even a few wallace sewell scarvesbrooklyn general store, 128 union street off columbia street, brooklyn, new york, 718.237.7753.

azuri cafe: a falafel anyone can love

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for some reason, middle eastern food is not usually my thing. i don’t often crave it, and a bad meal can really deter me from trying again. take falafel for instance. sometimes the coating is too thick and hard, there’s oil everywhere, or the pita pocket is just filled with sauce and untasty lettuce.   however, when i have a good one i’m like, oh right, this is why i should be eating this food more often — pretty healthy, cheap and so satisfying.

of course, new york has dozens of falafel joints along with thousands of falafel experts. while that’s not me, and i still haven’t tried places like taïm or mamouns and haven’t been to rainbow in ages, i can report with some limited authority that azuri’s falafel is excellent.  maybe not the best (who knows), but very very good, and if you’re stuck in midtown, and need something cheap, fast, light and fluffy and filled with spices, i’d head on over to the west 50s.  the place is small, nondescript but clean, gets crowded fast though service is quick, quick, quick and the falafel platter was perfect. in fact, i wanted more when i was done thinking i hadn’t quite gotten enough.  now that is saying something. azuri cafe, 465 west 51st between 9th and 10th avenues, manhattan, new york, 212.262.2920.

four & twenty blackbirds: pie, pie and more pie!

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sometimes, luck turns my way, and when i heard a new pie and coffee shop was opening right across the street from my office i jumped for joy!  my office is located just a block from the canal in gowanus in an old sweater factory.  the building has plenty of charm, and in the summer time plenty of stench but  lots of light and i do love our view of the f train as it rumbles very the tracks.   the major downside  has been, until now, absolutely nowhere to eat within a 10 minute walk.  we have to venture over to 5th avenue (not too many lunch options there) or over to carroll gardens (which while frankies is great this is not a realistic daily walk).   so imagine my excitement when we had a real coffee shop, with real espresso and great coffee (irving farm), and an added bonus is pie!  quite the treat.

the pies are slices of heaven.  my all time favorite so far is the salted caramel apple.  the crust is fantastic, crisp, flaky and buttery, and the inside salt helps to real cut that sweetness among the stacks of apple slices.   i’ve also tried a few of the chocolate pies which seem to appear in different varieties – the chocolate is dark, not sweet at all and probably could benefit from some creme fraiche or even just plain whipped cream.  other varieties that have appeared thus far on the menu include an apple pear rose, farmers cheese,  rhubarb and custard and a chess pie.  i really wont’t be able to resist this  four & twenty blackbirds midafternoon treat once those summer fruits start appearing i think.

oh, and i forgot to mention the best part — breakfast.  the cappuccino’s are excellent (and i’m not just saying that because my hubbie has been doing a barista gig here for a few hours on the weekends — i actually haven’t had his professional coffee. i hope it’s up to snuff and am nudging him to work on his foam art!).   the treats are so much more fun than the usual croissants and scones.  instead four & twenty blackbirds has the best filling meal — egg in a nest. baked in a muffin tin, the egg is set at the bottom with cheese, and topped with a slightly sweet biscuit. the combo works just fine. if i knew for sure they would be on offer i don’t think i’d eat breakfast at home again.  four & twenty blackbirds also has breakfast cakes (a recent one was fig and almonds), a smattering of cookies and fresh fruit.  coming soon (we hope very soon) some light lunch items. then really we will be in heaven.   four & twenty blackbirds, 439 third avenue at 8th street, brooklyn, new york, 718.499.2917.