Wednesday, August 30, 2006

new york : post 8

Buttercup Bakeshop
I have to admit that I was skeptical about the cupcake craze that began some six years ago. Every city that I travel to somehow has a cupcake store. I have been to Magnolia and their cupcakes were definitely nothing to write about. So when my friend Phillip suggested we go for cupcakes, I was a little hesitant but I decided to give in and just go with the flow. We bought three cupcakes (red velvet, sour cream spice with walnuts and “devil dog” a cupcake topped with a marshmallow frosting) and a serving of chocolate trifle, which Matt and Phillip swear by. The buttercup bakeshop is simple in its approach to old-fashioned desserts. They produce favourites such as carrot cake, coconut layer cakes, red velvet cakes, cheesecakes and a host of other comfort desserts. The cupcakes, cakes and desserts here are simple and satisfying, they don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are.

Buttercup Bakeshop
973 Second Avenue (Between 51st and 52nd Sts)
New York
212 350 4144

Amy’s Bread

With three locations and fourteen years of being in the bread business, Amy’s Bread is a reliable venue for all your bread needs. They have a good selection of breads, which include: organic, whole wheat, black olive, rosemary, sourdough, semolina and a range of specialty breads. Since I was having lunch alone, I had one of their Tuscan sandwiches, which contained proscuitto, provolone, tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. I also sampled their seeded, black olive and semolina, raisin and fennel twists. If you love bread as much as I do, stop by and pick up some bread from Amy’s.

Amy’s Bread
250 Bleecker Street at Leroy Street
New York
212 675 7802

Other Eats

Fleur de Sel, a well known New York restaurant, French cuisine. Try their amazingly priced 3 course $25 or 4 course $42 tasting menu at lunch. I had the 4 course tasting and it was fantastic.
5 East 20th Street
New York
212 460 1900

La Bergamote, a good and reliable French patisserie with the standard fare.
169 9th Avenue
New York
212 627 9010

Three Tarts, the store is half collectibles and half edibles. The edibles include: cookies, petit fours, parfaits, sorbets, tarts and chocolates.
164 9th Avenue
New York
212 462 4392

Oms/b, rice ball café with a small selection of desserts.
156 East 45th Street
New York
212 922 9788

I hope that these posts will help you on your next trip to New York.
See more pictures of my New York Dessert Adventure.

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new york : post 7

Blue Ribbon Bakery

I convinced my friend Gwenessa to lunch with me at the Blue Ribbon Bakery, even though I had already had lunch an hour earlier. I would describe this Restaurant as a small, brightly lit and very comfortable bistro. Located in the basement of the restaurant is an old brick oven where all the restaurants artisan breads are made. The tapas like menu offers a good range of breads, meats, cheeses, appetizers and wines. Since we were not very hungry we sampled a range of their wonderful artisan breads and had some salads. When it came to dessert, the waiter suggested the warm chocolate chip bread pudding, which was topped with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream and drenched with warm chocolate sauce. This dessert was clearly made with quality ingredients and may be one of the best bread puddings I have had. I was also told that the banana walnut bread pudding drizzled with banana caramel sauce is also good. The food at Blue Ribbon Bakery was made with fresh quality ingredients. The next time that I have a chance to dine here, I will definitely be ordering a lot more.

Blue Ribbon Bakery
35 Downing Street (Downing and Bedford)
New York
212 337 0404


I wasn’t really in the mood to put on a pair of dress pants and dress shoes for Jean Georges, so I decided that my friends and I would go to the more casual Nougatine which is located right before entering JG. The meal at Nougatine is creative and complex in its subtle simplicity. The food is made in an open style kitchen, the same kitchen as the food for JG. My prix-fixe lunch included: a tomato salad with mixed greens, bacon and a foam vinaigrette; crispy chicken made with rice krispies and cornflakes with candied carrots and squash in a yuzu sauce; dessert, consisted of a sabayon on poached apricots and cardamom shortbread with candied pistachios; all of which got washed down with my black cherry-yuzu soda. The food, the portions, the price and the service at Nougatine make this restaurant a wonderful choice and one that I would definitely recommend. Often overlooked because of JG and other fine dining establishments in NYC, Nougatine offers good food without pretension.

1 Central Park West (between 60th and 61st Sts.)
New York
212 299 3900

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

new york : post 6

Over the coming days, I will be writing three new posts about my dessert experiences in New York City. This trip was planned as a birthday get-away for Mie, Teresa and myself (my birthday is still 4 months away). We have been friends ever since high school and their friendship means a lot to me. I would also like to thank Matt and Phillip for their friendship, hospitality and for always recommending new and wonderful places. I had a fantastic time in New York, sleeping-in, eating and most of all hang out with friends.

If you are interested in other places to go to in New York, check out my first five posts written in May, 2006.

post 1 : Jean George
post 2: Chickalious & Room 4 Dessert
post 3 : Cream Puffs in New York
post 4 : Bouchon, Fauchon, Minamoto Kitchoan, Wichcraft
post 5 : Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Rice to Riches, Fluff

Serendipity 3:

Serendipity: to make discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things not in quest of.

I first saw the film Serendipity in 2002, the summer I came back from grad school in London, I never heard of it while I was England. For all those who haven’t seen it, it is a romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale where they fall in love by chance. My sister made me watch it. Anyhow, there is a scene where they meet up at a restaurant in New York named Serendipity.

Serendipity 3 is a fun and accessible restaurant, which brings up memories of comfort food and childhood favourites such as hot fudge sundaes. I’m not sure whether it was the movie or their reputation, but this restaurant can be difficult to get into. On two other visits to New York, I had planned on eating there, but the lines to get in were unmanageable. On this trip however, my friends and I were able to get in within 10 minutes of waiting in line. Once we were in, we ordered the “coward’s portion” of the banana split as we didn’t think we could eat the ridiculous amount of ice cream in the “outrageous banana split” and the “big apple” pie. The frozen hot chocolate, I have been told is the drink to get. All their ice cream creations are made with Häagen Dazs.

The reason why I think this restaurant does well, is that it plays on our sense of nostalgia. Our dessert at Serendipity was simple and enjoyable. However desserts like sundaes and banana splits are things that I rarely indulge in. I would recommend Serendipity 3 if you were looking for comfort food, desserts or a bit of nostalgia, otherwise don’t bother braving the line.

Serendipity 3
225 E. 60th St. (between Second and Third Ave)
New York
212 838 3531

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Monday, August 28, 2006

tiramisu : pick me up

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert typically made from ladyfingers, espresso coffee, mascarpone cheese, eggs, cream, sugar, Marsala wine, cocoa and rum. The name tiramisu means “pick-me-up”, referring to the two caffeine-containing ingredients, espresso and cocoa.
The ladyfingers are sprinkled with or briefly soaked in a mixture of the coffee, rum, and sugar. They are then layered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and a custard made from egg yolks, Marsala and sugar, known as zabaglione. Cocoa powder is then sprinkled on top.

From Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I got together with my good friends Mie and Teresa to make tiramisu. For many years, Teresa has been making her family’s recipe for tiramisu and, since she is a professional at it, I thought I’d learn a thing or two. I have to admit that I have made Teresa’s recipe before but it is just not the same. So what is the difference? Well, I think it is a few things: one, I love to eat other people’s food; two, anything made with love is good; and three, lots of alcohol. Instead of using rum, try Martini or Frangelico. Since Teresa’s family recipe is a secret, I cannot publish it. I have however included a recipe for savoiardi/lady fingers. I made these for our tiramisu, rather than buying them from an Italian grocery store. They are very simple to make and even easier to eat.

Our tiramisu was two layers of ladyfingers, which had been soaked in coffee and Frangelico, topped with mascarpone/zabaglione filling and dusted with Valrhona cocoa. It was fun, simple, tasty and satisfying.

savoiardi : ladyfingers

8 egg whites
250g sugar
8 egg yolks
250g cake flour

1. whip egg white and sugar into a meringue
2. mix yolks into meringue
3. fold in cake flour
pipe and bake @ 390ºF till golden

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asian sweets

Vancouver for me is undoubtedly is one of the best places in North America for Asian cuisine. This summer I went to many of my favourite restaurants and cafes. What I often find absent in Asian cuisine is desserts. The Asian sweets that I found this summer in Vancouver were primarily from the Chinatown and the Richmond night markets, which are open during the summer months in Vancouver and Richmond, BC. These night markets are wonderful for fantastic and authentic Asian street food; knock off wallets and bags and cute gadgets and stationary that nobody really needs. Here are some of the desserts that I sampled:

watermelon bubble tea with large tapioca pearls - refreshing and naturally sweet, fantastic, except for the bubble/tapioca phobic

shaved strawberry ice with strawberry, mango and coconut jelly - flavourful and suprisingly delicious

bubble waffle - light, airy waffles with a touch of sweetness

red bean with shaved ice and coconut milk - simple and refreshing without being too sweet

passion fruit ice with kiwi and coloured sprinkles - the artifical passionfruit and the cloying sweetness turned me off

waffle like fish with red bean paste - light, crisp and packed with redbean goodness

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Sunday, August 27, 2006


In 2003, Peter Fong opened up Ganache Patisserie in Yaletown, Vancouver. Ganache is a modern patisserie, which offers a good and diverse selection of individual pastries and cakes. They range from the classics like crème brûlée, lemon tarts and napoleons to seasonally inspired creations. They also produce chocolates, bon bons, french macaroons and one of a kind wedding cakes. Ganache offers a level of creativity and risk taking that not many pastry shops in Vancouver offer and this is precisely the reason why I recommend it.

1262 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC
604 899 1098

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I was inspired to make biscotti from a friend who enjoys baking biscotti on his weekends. I have made biscotti many times, with many variations on flavour and consistency of the biscotti dough. For instance there are firm doughs, soft doughs and doughs that are so soft and airy that you need to pipe them through a piping bag. Anyways, for my experiment, I decided to pack as many ingredients and flavours into my biscotti that I had around the house. I did ended up with a biscotti that was jam packed fruits and nuts. I myself am personally a minimalist when it comes to flavours, but the biscotti seemed to hail good response from the party in which I brought these to. The high density of fruits and nuts make these biscotti a little finicky to cut. They are also not as crisp and crunchy as your regular biscotti as they have a higher ratio of filling to dough.

almond, pecan, pistachio, ginger, cranberry and orange biscotti

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pistanchios
1/2 cup candied ginger finely cubed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1. toast nuts and set aside
2. cream butter, sugar and orange zest
3. add eggs and vanilla
4. add dry ingredients
5. at the end, add in nuts, candied ginger and dried cranberries
6. roll into 2 logs and chill for approximately 1 hour
7. bake at 350°F for approximately 20 - 25 minutes or until done
8. let biscotti cool for 10 minutes before slicing
9. dry out biscotti for 5-10 minutes at 300°F on each side for your desired crunchiness.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

simple summer fruit desserts

The last couple of weeks I have been so busy I have been absent from my computer and the blogosphere. The following are images of simple fruit desserts that I have made in the past couple of weeks, but I have not had time to write about.

Vanilla creme brulee with fresh raspberries

Rhubarb frangipane tart

Apricot frangipane tart

Cherries being pitted

Classic cherry clarfouti