Tag Archives: Manhattan

Pastry Chefs Vie for Top Honors in NYC Desserts Faceoff

Paco Torreblanca puts olive oil to use in lieu of butter. Photo: StarChefs.com.

How sweet it is. The winner of the The 3rd Annual StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition taking place now in New York will walk away with a $5,000 cash prize. But first, the 20 chefs vying for top honors in the annual pastry contest have to get through two elimination rounds in order to make it to the finals Oct. 2.

A host of pastry luminaries have been tapped to judge the flour faceoff. “Top Chef Just Desserts” star Johnny Iuzzini will lead a team that includes Alex StupakJeffrey SteingartenElizabeth FalknerStephane Treand, and Michael Laiskonis.

I’ll be live-tweeting the final round Oct. 2, which pits two pastry chefs against each other. Follow me at @Foodandthings.

Click here for daily updates.

Here’s a brief summary of each day’s events:

Pre-competition, September 29: Pastry training and prep for Round 1.

Round 1, September 30: Pre-dessert competition–20 chefs compete for 10 spots to advance to Round 2.

Round 2, October 1: Plated dessert competition–10 chefs compete for three finalist spots and prizes and advance to the final round.

Round 3, October 2: Finalists create three corresponding desserts, each showcasing a different technique–1 pastry chef wins the grand prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

How to Pick a Wine Store

;

 

20120707-044221.jpg

By Ron Blumenfeld

People have been making wine since they discovered that fermented grape juice was an appealing alternative to water.

It’s hard to know how wine tasted thousands of years ago. But the wines we enjoy today are usually quite drinkable and often delicious. And wine’s gone truly global, with a huge range of price points and styles.

The paradox: how to find wines you like amidst all this plenty. The fact is that most of us could use a little help, and wine stores can be one place to find it.

At one end of the spectrum are the wine supermarkets like the national chain Total Wine or the rapidly-expanding BevMo!, with outposts in California and Arizona. Both outfits offer massive choice and good prices. Still, generally, when it comes to choosing a wine that will suit your taste and pocketbook, you’re on your own. That’s fine if you know exactly what you want, or if the occasion calls for a well-priced “mass market” wine (like big beach parties or BBQ’s where wine is not a focus).

You’ll have a very different shopping experience at a place like West Side Wines, located on Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. (West Side Wines stocks bottles Domaine des Bories; I’m a part-owner.). It’s just big enough for the owner, Andy Besch, to offer a personally-vetted international selection, favoring smaller producers, often from lesser-known regions. He devotes no floor space to mass-market wines, and isn’t influenced by wine ratings. He sells only what he likes, and loves to send customers home with wine they didn’t expect to buy.

Then there are stores that offer a little of both—some mass market selections and some hand-picked ones. You may be confronted with stacks of wine at the door, but further inside is often a more intriguing selection, and a wine geek who can’t wait to tell you about it.

Explore wine stores until you find one (or two) that you can call your wine home. Make yourself—and your wine tastes—known. Ask questions. Stick to your favorites, but from time to time, let knowledgeable salespeople guide you outside your comfort zone.

Ron Blumenfeld is part owner of French vineyard Domaine des Bories.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

The Georgetown Cupcakes that Ate New York

 

by Chef Renee Marton

I’m so over cupcakes, but at the urging of my friend Ming, I trekked to Soho to taste Georgetown Cupcake’s treats.

I may be sick of the sweet round morsels, but these cupcakes were very tasty. I sampled just two—vanilla with coconut butter cream frosting and chocolate banana with a chocolate frosting.

We checked out Georgetown Cupcake—decorated in what seems to be the de rigeur cupcake color scheme of pink and more pink—one early weeknight. We were the only customers in the place.

Both the vanilla and the chocolate banana, priced at  $2.75 apiece, were very tasty if a bit too sweet. They were moist and fluffy, with a generous swirl of frosting. Uniformly creamy and smooth, the frostings are made from butter cream and cream cheese. A little salt in the icings would have lent these cupcakes greater dimension.

After Ming took a bite, she declared that the cupcakes were topped with too much frosting. Some folks, of course, would say that there’s no such thing as too much frosting when it comes to cupcakes.

Georgetown Cupcake
111 Mercer Street (between Spring and Prince)
New York, NY

212 431 4504

Monday – Saturday

10am – 9pm

Sunday

10am – 7pm

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

Hidden Vintage New York Hotel Menus Unearthed

I found these spectacularly beautiful menus from The New Yorker Hotel when I was on assignment for Interior Design magazine. Joe Kinney, the hotel’s chief engineer informal archivist, has over the years amassed scores of menus, door hangers and other hotel memorabilia, most of which date from the 30s and 40s.

To see more of menus, go to Big World Magazine.

To read my New York Times story about the entire collection, click here.

One of the New Yorker Hotel’s collection of menus from the 1939 World’s Fair.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr

The Best Rugelach and Croisaants: Two New Bakery/Cafes Open on the Upper East Side

Rugelach via flckr by by Soup Spoon Blog

Two new bakery/cafes have opened in the last several months on the Upper East Side. Le Moulin a Cafe, a French spot on York Avenue between 76th and 77th streets, serves up some of the best croissants I’ve eaten in the city. Plenty specializes in homey desserts like rugelach and crumb cake, along with cakes and cookies.

Le Moulin a Cafe

Forget all those leaden faux croissants on offer at your neighborhood bodega. Instead, head for Le Moulin a Cafe. The cozy spot opened over the summer when it started dishing up croissants that are as flaky and tender as any I’ve had in France.

The reason? Nicholas Lecuq, the co-owner, imports frozen dough from Brittany. Lecuq’s chef then bakes the dough in-house. Who would think pre-frozen croissants could turn out so well?

The weekday morning I stopped by, the place was hopping. Stroller moms who had dropped their kids at the Lycee Francais de New York across the street, flooded the cafe’s tables. Neighborhoods folks were stopping by too. And I’ll bet there’s more than a few NY Presbyterian docs–cholesterol be damned—who are sampling Le Moulin a Cafe’s offerings as well.

In addition to pastries, there’s a menu of quiche ($10), salads ($11-$12), and entrées (skirt steak with fries ($21) and the like, and wine is coming soon.

Plenty

If it’s old fashioned cakes and cookies you’re hankering for, Plenty is your spot. Arrayed in glass cases, the pastries are pretty much like grandma used to make—and there’s a reason for that. Jessica Weiss, the proprietor and a lapsed MBA, earned her chops baking alongside her grandmother Hannah, one hell of a baker judging by the fare at Plenty.

The crumb cake was light and moist with a buttery, tender topping.  Delicious but not for me.  For me, the chewier and doughier the cake, the better. The rugelach?  I wish that my grandma who’s ruglach were reliably uneatable, had taken some lessons from Hannah. Plenty’s were flaky and not too sweet, just about a perfect bite.

Along with these homey standards, Weiss also offers chocolate cake ($4.75), cinnamon sugar donut muffins ($1.75) and homemade Oreos ($2.50). There are whole cakes for $35-$40 that can also be ordered by the slice.

The place sports a few tables and you can purchase various coffees and teas to go with your pastry.

Le Moulin a Cafe
1439 York Ave
New York, NY
212  288 5088

Monday – 7 am – 9 pm
Tuesday-Thursday – 7 am – 10 pm
Friday – 7 am – 11 pm
Saturday – 8 am – 11 pm
Sunday – 8 am – 9 pm

Plenty
1457 Third Avenue (82nd Street)
New York, NY
212 628 2110

730 am to 730 pm 7 days/week

 

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on RedditFlattr the authorShare on StumbleUponShare on Tumblr