Tag Archives: Clinton St. Baking Company

I Ate New York

When you live in a city as big as New York,  love food as much as I do, share a shoebox kitchen with three others and work 50-60 hours a week, it’s hard to cook. It’s also hard not to feel overwhelmed and excited by the infinite number of restaurants and cuisines available (many within a close walking distance).  So for the past almost four months, I have been eating my way through The Big Apple (and oh how that Hungry Caterpillar would be proud of me—thank goodness I walk everywhere!) I have some culinary highlights I’d like to share from things I have eaten thus far.

This is my dear friend John Carriani. We’re friends because we love theatre and we both get ridiculously excited about food (particularly baked goods) and will stop at nothing to track down a good pastry, no matter the distance. One evening we made a trip out to Red Hook to visit Baked. He had a $30 gift card there and wanted to use it all at once (for the both of us)! He is an incredibly generous soul. So we went to Baked…

and this is what we ate…

We were like kids in a candy store (err bakery) and we both pretty much agreed that this was the most exciting thing ever and that this is what dreams were made of (ours at least). We were very giddy (and this was before the sugar party that ensued)! My favorite were the bourbon chocolate chip pecan bar and the sweet & salty cake and John favored the whoopie pie and the cupcake. Don’t worry, we didn’t eat all of these devious morsels…at once anyway.

This Pulled Duroc Pork Sandwich from Num Pang. It was pretty stellar. It’s made with tender spiced honey braised pork, on the most luscious roll with chili mayo, cilantro (which I shamefully pick off), carrots and cucumber and it’s perfect. I enjoyed mine with a homemade blood orange lemonade which was also perfect. In the land of most amazing pork sandwiches, this baby rings in second place for me (the first being the pork sandwich I had a few years ago at El Paseo, in Seattle. Don’t even get me started on that sandwich.

-A chocolate croissant fresh out of the oven, from Charlotte Patisserie, consumed (too quickly for a photo), on a walk through McCarren Park on a fall morning. They also make different quickbreads that I love—particularly their apple & banana.

-Jay and I recently had the pleasure of having a late dinner at The Brooklyn Star and had our minds blown over the fried chicken dinner for two there. We  came on a Tuesday and they normally only do the fried chicken on Sundays and Mondays (and it has to be at least three people) so much to our surprise, when we were seated and our waiter informed us they were doing it (and for two), it felt like fate. Fried chicken fate. And oh that glorious fried chicken, those good ole southern fixins and classic Rolling Stones music that soon unfolded thereafter… It was undoubtedly one of the most memorable meals I’ve had here. The chicken was so juicy, crispy and flavorful and we had these awesome pickled vegetables, crack macaroni and cheese (studded with bacon, with a tangy kick from the sharp cheddar), mashed potatoes and gravy and biscuits. (No room for dessert). I think Jay got a pic or two of our feast but I was honestly too euphoric to bother.

-We also had a wonderful date at an adorable, romantic yet laid back Italian place in Williamsburg, called Fiore. It’s candlelit with black and white tiled floors and petite tables with little vase of fresh herbs.  There’s a long shelf with antiques that borders one of the walls, there’s some exposed brick and vintage photos in antique frames adorn the walls.

We shared a raw, shredded artichoke salad with lemon and parmesan, a bottle of red and two generous plates of homemade pasta (for under $10!!). Jay had ravioli with butter, chili flakes, sage and parmesan. It was simple but elegant. I had the tagliatelli bolognese—hearty and fragrant with rosemary, it was one of the best bolognese dishes I’ve ever had.  I loved it so much, I went there a week later with my friend and roommate, Caitlin (who also loved it) and we shared one of the best salads I’ve ever had. It a big bed of frise with toasted pecans, warm roasted butternut squash and sautéed wild mushrooms, pecorino and a lemon truffle vinaigrette. It was heavenly and the embodiment of autumn (in food form). We also shared a tiramisu that left us speechless.

So because I love and live for this sort of thing, here is my personal guide to some of the best eats in the city (Brooklyn mostly), based on some of my favorites:

NYC Gastronomy Awards:

  • Fiore, Moto, Cafe Colette and Dear Bushwick, for most intimate, romantic atmospheres
  • Five Leaves for best breakfast/brunch/bacon, people watching and favorite design
  • The Blue Stove for most adorable, cozy bakery and best pies
  • Best cocktails go to Dear Bushwick, for “The Iron Lady”: rose-infused Junipero Gin, Lillet Rose, Aperol and lemon juice and Gwynnett St for the “Go Fig-ure”: Blackwell Rum, Averna, port, fig jam, all spice and lime juice
  • Best bread goes to Commerce (everything) and Gwynnett St for their Whiskey Bread with Vermont cultured butter. It was one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever tasted.
  • Bubby’s (Tribeca location) and Clinton St. Baking Company for best pancakes (sour cream pancakes at Bubby’s and the banana walnut pancakes at Clinton St)
  • Best Polish food goes to Lomzynianka and Krolewski Jadlo particularly for their red Borscht and pierogies.
  • Best Sandwich goes to Num Pang for the Pulled Duroc Pork
  • Best cupcake goes to Butter Lane Bakery (the banana with cream cheese)
  • Best appetizers goes to Locanda Verde for the blue crab crostini with jalapeno and tomato and the focaccia and Nights and Weekends for their
  • Best cafe and favorite neighborhood hangout spot goes to Charlotte Patisserie
  • Best Bakery goes to The Blue Stove (I may be biased but truly everything there is awesome) and also
  • Best coffee goes to Cafe Grumpy (Greenpoint location just because it’s right by my apt)
  • Best doughnuts goes to Peter Pan (for cake doughnuts) and Dough for yeast
  • Best Pasta goes to Fiore (in Greenpoint)
  • Best Bar goes to The Richardson (for their wallpaper, Bourbon selection—because they carry several PAPPY’S bottles! and also for the bartender that looks like Paul Dano). Also, to Manhattan Inn for the overall classic atmosphere.
  • Best neighborhood bar that’s not in my neighborhood goes to The Double Windsor (in Windsor Terrace)
  • Best cutest, smallest restaurant /most handsome chef goes to Bistro Petit 
  • Best brisket goes to Lonestar Empire
  • Best Pizza goes to Paulie Gees, Speedy Romeo and Forcella
  • Best Bagels goes to The Bagel Store (in Williamsburg)—while I’ve yet to actually step foot into the store, a wonderful girl I work with named Jackie brings these delicious bagels into the bakery where I work, every Friday morning for “Bagel Friday.” How can that not make your day amazing?
  • Best fried chicken/southern food goes to The Brooklyn Star
  • Best Mexican/worst service  goes to La Superior
  • Best all around restaurant goes to: Commerce. From the bread basket down to the dessert menu, it’s amazing  (pics and review to come)!

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New England Road Trip Part II: NYC

Before I get down to business, I’d just like to share a few things I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment:

  • Lynn Hirschberg’s screen tests:  She is so skillful at capturing candid, intimate moments and weaving them together in such a way that it makes you feel like you know her subject.  It almost feels as if you’re watching in on a private moment – an honest look into a stranger’s life that you never get through ordinary interviews or watching films.  They’re all uniquely brilliant.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

14 Actors Acting

  • Greeting cards from Hello Lucky – I’ve been a fan ever since I first saw their cards at Parker and Otis, and have purchased quite a few.  I’d love to buy some of my favorites and just frame them.  They’re just so clever and cute  and have this great classic vintage look to them.




  • Entertaining the idea of making these in the very near future – I haven’t had one of those Little Debbie’s in ages and I always used to love them.  My mouth is watering as I type this.
  • I also can’t get enough of Design Sponge.  I browse that site every day and never fail to be inspired by them.  I’m not exactly a crafty person and a lot of the stuff on that site just blows me away.  I’ve never considered myself a big design buff either but the more and more I follow them, the more I contemplate getting a bit crafty from time to time, just so I can take a stab at creating something different and pretty.  I’m dying to make the Valentine’s Day Fort and wish I knew how to crochet, so I could make this:

Now for part deux of the New England Summer 2010 Road trip:  NYC

We stayed with our friend John and his partner in Washington Heights and I had a day and a half of solo exploration while they worked on edits and rewrites of John’s new play, Love Sick (which Jay was going to direct in September).  I had many places on my list and lot’s of walking to do, so I set out like a woman on a true mission, and food is always a driving motivator.  I went to Balthazar’s Bakery – a miniscule spot next to the bistro, that looks like a little boulangerie in Paris.  I bought a little bag of various goodies – a chocolate sable, a sticky bun (which I ate on a bench right outside of the bakery, melting in the hot July heat) and a doughnut.  All were delicious but the sticky bun wasn’t as soft as I wanted it to be.  I definitely plan on going to Balthazar’s one day and trying their famous fries, but since I didn’t have the right occasion or funds on this trip, the bakery had to suffice (and it did).

I was also on a quest for some vintage stores, went to the Guggenheim, walked through Central Park and devoured carnitas from the Calexico food truck, on a bench under Mexican restaurant awning in the village (in the pouring rain).  It was incredibly messy, juicy and the cheapest, tastiest Mexican I’ve eaten so far.  Food trucks are definitely the way to go.  Great food, frighteningly cheap and convenient (especially when you’re on a tight schedule with lot’s of places to see)!

Our first night in the city, John and his partner took us to one of their favorite pizza spots – an adorable place on the Upper West Side, called Patsy’s.  We all shared a couple margarita pizzas – clean and simple and delicious.

 

Afterwards, John and John took us by the famous Levain Bakery, and he was hoping we could get their double chocolate cookies but they were all out and about to close up!  We nibbled  on some cakey oatmeal raisin and regular chocolate chip cookies – which were like 90% chocolate chips  instead and they were definitely worth the hype.  I caught a secret candid shot of the bakery gals in action, donning their blue bandanas and aprons.  The cookies were devoured too quickly to be caught on camera : )

Jay and I had breakfast at one of my favorite NYC restaurants ever – Clinton St. Baking Company, and despite how crowded it was, we were able to get a table without a wait!  He got the buttermilk biscuit sandwich (with their famous biscuit and homemade tomato jam), some bacon and eggs with cheese and I got their beloved blueberry pancakes with maple butter.  Add excellent coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice to the mix and you’ve got one of the best breakfasts ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazily enough, afterwards, we chugged our full bellies onward through the East Village, in search of the Doughnut Plant.  The last thing we wanted to think about was food, but Doughnut Plant was on my list and I am serious about my doughnuts.  (Plus, we were already in the East Village, so the time to go was then).  We thought it best to get our doughnuts to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just look at those beautiful babies.  In addition to the inventive flavors and combinations, the thing that amuses me most about this place, is the fact that they only stay open until they run out of doughnuts.  I kind of like that unpredictability. We ordered a tres leche, a blackout, a blueberry and one other (can’t remember – serves me right for waiting seven months to finally blog about this).   Lucky for us, it was still morning when we went, although I wish we had arrived with empty stomachs, because when we finally did get around to eating the doughnuts late that night, their freshness had worn off.  I have to be honest here, the timing may very well be the culprit, but I didn’t feel as if Doughnut Plant lived up to all its hype.  Maybe I ordered the wrong doughnuts?  Maybe I just need to go back when I haven’t already stuffed my face with other breakfast goodies?  Maybe I’m just simple and old-fashioned when it comes to my doughnuts, and under the radar, little family run hole in the walls are my favorite.  I would definitely give it another try though.

 

 

One of my favorite things about John is that he is as fanatical and giddy over bakeries as I am.  If the two of us were to spend an entire day together, I guarantee you it would be spent running all around Manhattan, seeing how many different bakeries we can get to.  He introduced us to a charming little Italian bakery in the West Village, called Il Cantuccio – it’s the most recent of the three locations (one in Florence and one in Gigli, Italy)!

We had a lovely time talking with one of the owners (all three of them are from Italy), and she was so humble and passionate about what she does.  The N.Y location had recently suffered a fire, ruining virtually everything, on the night they had scheduled their grand opening no less!  She told us how devastating it was because she had to sit outside the bakery with her friend and turn interested customers away and then they had to rebuild everything from scratch again and delay their opening.  But things are looking up for them and if you go to this place, you’ll understand why it’s so special and worth rooting for.  Just having that conversation with the owner and hearing her story made me want to tell everyone about this place.  I had a sandwich of the freshest, saltiest, tastiest prosciutto ever, with fresh fontina on focaccia.  We also shared some biscotti, which John is crazy for.  Surprisingly, the biscotti (or “cantucci”) are very chewy and not dry or crumbly at all, because they are made without butter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still in the mood for something sweet, particularly cake, we headed around the corner to Amy’s Bread and John and I shared a luscious piece of chocolate cake with buttercream icing and that hit the spot!

I was hoping to try Butter Lane one day but the bakery was closed temporarily due to a parking violation, so next time!

There are so many other places I am eager to check out in the city and I am saving them for the next trip (which hopefully I won’t have to wait too long for).

 

More to come next time, with Part III:  Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine!

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