celebrating the glories of eating in brooklyn. from the gut.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I scream, You scream....

I've never had Blue Bell ice cream, but after reading this article in the New York Times dining section, I'm dying to try it. Am I crazy enough to pay almost $90.00 to have four half gallons flown to New York from Texas? Sounds like a job for Jeffrey Steingarten.

What I found interesting is the company's emphasis on flavor over sweetness (imagine). Also, they have lower butterfat content than other ice creams.

I've been experimenting with my own ice cream lately. At first I followed the recipe book that came with the machine, but I found the taste to be too creamy and too sweet. They called for 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole milk. I found a better balance by using 1.5 cups of heavy cream and 1.5 cups of whole milk, but now I'm wondering after reading that article if I should switch to skim milk or 2%. I could also try using even less heavy cream. There's only one way to find out.

The last ice cream I made was actaully orange sorbet. I squeezed sweet oranges and combined it with the "syrup" (2 cups sugar and water cooked until sugar is dissolved). The syrup was still a little on the sweet side, but overall I must say it was the best damn sorbet I ever had.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New Place Going Into Old Bodegas?

I happened to notice the other day that it looks like a new place is going into the old Bodegas on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill. Bodegas closed down a few months ago along with the owners' other establishments, Liquors and Lewis & Ruby's.

The new signage on the windows said "Clinton Bar and Lounge." But that's all I know.

Village Voice Checks Out a Few Taquerias

This Robert Sietsema article is a few weeks old, but it's still worth noting his Mexican picks on 5th Avenue. My feeling is that there's an abundance of Mexican restaurants, but it's slim pickin's when it comes to authentic and excellent.

Brooklyn Spearheading the City's Jazz Revival

From the New York Times:

"The rise of that [jazz] scene — which, like its borough, is an assemblage of enclaves — has been one of the most significant developments for jazz in New York in recent years. (Every bit as significant as the Brooklyn rock explosion of a few years ago, with which it shouldn't be confused.) Through a growing network of low-rent spaces mostly booked by enterprising musicians, Brooklyn has assumed a vital role in the city's larger jazz culture. And the music has been a boon for listeners of all kinds, including those who have to cross the East River to hear it."

The article does a good job of covering jazz spots across the borough.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Product Alert: Wine Cellar Sorbets

Most of the time when I'm food shopping I usually either don't try the demo products or I try them and never buy them.

The other day I was in Blue Apron in Park Slope and they were doing a tasting of Wine Cellar Sorbets. I love wine and ice cream, so I gave it a try and this time I bought one.

The sorbets are made with real wine (two full glasses in each pint). They are an alcoholic adult treat and very refreshing. The flavors I liked best were cabernet and sauterne. The sweet dessert wine translated well into a frozen dessert.

What's more -- they are based in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cheesecake and Rabbit

Despite being busy with the block beautification project over the weekend, I did manage to get some cooking in.


With strawberries coming into season, my thoughts turned to one of my favorite treats: mascarpone cheesecake with balsamic strawberries. Here's the recipe.


The Coop actually had rabbit when I shopped there Friday evening. I've always been a big fan of it. I followed a recipe from Claudia Roden's book The Food of Italy: Region by Region. I like this cookbook because it covers all the regions of Italy and because she captures the essence of simplicity -- often just giving the basic structure of the recipe and letting the cook take over. She fits multiple recipes on one page.

I was grabbed by a Sicilian recipe for rabbit. I thought the agrodolce sauce was delicious, but the rabbit was tough unfortunately. I'm also not sure if I would dredge the rabbit in flour next time. Anyway, here, roughly, is the recipe:


1 2.5 lb rabbit cut into pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 pint red wine (I used a cote du rhone, which worked fine.)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 table spoon raisins
2 tablespoons chopped black or green olives
2 or 3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

Fry the onion until golden. Dredge the rabbit in flour and fry until just browned. Add the wine and simmer for 20 minutes, until rabbit is cooked. Add the vinegar, pine nuts, raisins and olives and cook 1-2 minutes until the vinegar cooks off. There should just be a faint taste of the vinegar.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Block Beautification Day

Ok. So this post isn't about food. Sometimes food blogs talk about gardening and sometimes garden blogs talk about food. Really the two go hand in hand. Though admittedly I wouldn't eat the plants we were out there planting on Saturday.

My block decided to enter the Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest this year and in preparation the block association went out there Saturday to plant whiskey barrels and rake the treepits.

Sounds easy doesn't it? But in reality it required weeks, no actually months of planning. Small on members, we really had to pull together and get everything we needed. In the end since the whole block benefits, people are nice enough to give us monetary donations.

What we did in a nutshell:

  • Raised money by selling raffles
  • Bought 11 whiskey barrels, bags of gravel and top soil to mix with the compost
  • Rented a U-haul truck, drove to the city's compost site on designated dates for the free giveway. Then we loaded up 50 heavy-duty trash bags with glorious compost. We stored them in someone's garden until the time to plant.
  • Planned the placement of the barrels and decided on the best types of shrubbery
  • We ordered iron stands for the whiskey barrels, but they didn't come through on time, so we improvised with bricks. Not the most elegant solution, but it looks ok.
  • Finally, after so many weekends planning and preparing, putting everything out there!

My side of the street.

The other side of the street. Oh yeah and that big silver machine is my car.

This is our treepit. We planted purple salvia and some orangey-yellow flower that is supposed to be one of the hardiest perennials. We also planted a climbing rose. We're hoping it will grow up the tree. In the city, treepits are an extension of your garden (if you're even lucky enough to have one!)

Someone was smart enough to think to put the bricks underneath the barrels so you don't see them. So the barrels look like they are floating. When the bricks stick out like legs I think they detract from the overall look.

This one has a jasmine in it. There seems to be some controversy over whether this is an annual or a perennial. I'm betting the poor guy won't survive the winter. We also planted vinca vines in all the barrels.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Now That's Italian

I really enjoyed this article from Frank Bruni today. He explored a half dozen old world Italian-American restaurants in 4 boroughs that we all get that nostalgic pang for.