Sunday, November 16, 2008

Brunch, cookies, dinner & drinks = perfect day in NY (Saturday)

I'm back with a recap of Saturday's activities. There was so much going on, I just have to share it with all of you. I don't think I have any NY readers (except for my sister, but of course she was around this weekend) but I'm sure many of you travel there so maybe some of my experiences and reviews will come in handy.


We started the day with a nice brunch at Joe Doe. I can't have breakfast without coffee and this one came beautifully presented :)

The coffee itself wasn't that good, but I appreciated how pretty it was. That and it did have caffeine so it served it's purpose :D

We were also served some hot biscuits on the house. They were cravable. So good! (That butter dish was for the whole table... I had a few smears)

Knowing I had a cookie tour coming up later in the day (yes, we planned our day around bakery visits... I'm obsessed with dessert that much and my husband loves me :P ), I wanted to order something savory for brunch (a very atypical move). The corned duck hash sounded good, but unfortunately it was premixed with onions, so I got the Chilaquiles at Tulum - chorizo, avocado, tortillas and eggs.

It was quite delicious but I think not warm enough. The temperature threw me off a bit. I didn't looove this dish, but I ate every bite and like I said, it really was quite good. Not to fear, there were plenty of amazing treats in my near future. With that, let's move on to the really good stuff...


I've been reading food blogs for about 9 months now, which has opened a whole new wonderful world of food to me. I lived in NY for 3 years and never knew about some of the famous bakeries (some of which were just blocks away from my house) but thankfully I was prepared this time! We planned our day around Anna's cookie tour, which just happened to be in our old neighborhood. Fun!

1st stop: Bouchon at the Time Warner center in NY. I've passed by this little stand a million times while living in NY, but I was always on a diet of sorts and always talked myself out of buying one of their treats. Not this time! I stood in a short line to purchase the peanut butter cookie sandwich, as suggested by Anna. The place had so many moms with kids and other tourists, it was a bit hectic, but the service was fast and super friendly. I found out fast that the sandwich was actually named "The Nutterbutter" but the girl behind the counter didn't hesitate for a second when I asked for it by the wrong name.

I behaved... I took a picture of this monstrosity (afraid it may get crushed in its travels all over Manhattan) and moved on. This cookie's time didn't come just yet. *PS - when I did finally have a few bites of it that night, it was amazing! Super peanut buttery, though, so make sure you're in a serious peanut butter mood. I always am :D *

Next up: Magnolia Bakery on the Upper West side. I frequented Magnolia quite a bit during my life in NY. I think I first found out about it on Sex and the City, but the long lines were well worth it every time because seriously those chocolate cupcakes cannot be beat! So, I kept on coming back, usually stocking up like there was no tomorrow. I've stood in line for those babies in the freezing cold during a snow storm, and did not regret it! Every single time my expectations were high, and it didn't dissapoint. With that said, I've tried their vanilla cupcakes and they weren't my favorite. Go for the double chocolate cupcake if you're ever in the area (chocolate cake + chocolate frostin). I think they put crack in those, because they are definitely addictive!

This was my first trip to the bakery on the Upper West side. They opened it after I moved to Boston, and I think this is may be a good thing for my hips. The place was beautiful... much bigger too, with a shorter line (inside, not outside like in their original shop). I couldn't resist a little taste of my favorite treat since we were in the area :)

I ate this guy right away. Again, it was worth every calorie (god knows how many are in these things, it's probably chocolate colored whipped butter in that frosting) and I was a happy camper!

I also got a small banana pudding. I've had it before years ago, but after reading so much praise about it, I had to re-try it. Here is a picture of the pudding. I didn't taste it until Sunday morning.

It was very yummy, but you guys probably know by now that I'm a chocolate person, so the cupcake is better in my opinion if you only could pick 1 thing to order. My husband helped me out quite a bit with this cup (maybe 1/3??) and I had the rest all throughout Sunday (finally finishing it on the bus ride home to Boston).

Next stop: Jacques Torres Chocolate. All I can say is wow! I bought a very large mudpie cookie (maybe 5" in diameter), but once again after snapping a photo tucked it away.

* I tried this cookie on Sunday morning and it was THE BEST! If you're ever in the area, do not pass by this place without treating yourself to a little something.*

After almost leaving the shop at this point, I decided I wanted to try their hot chocolate. I have never liked hot chocolate, but I knew there must be a hot chocolate in this world that I would love (being a serious choco-holic) and this place definitely had all the potential. Here is my hot chocolate cup:

Sorry I realize I should have taken a picture of the actual inside of the cup, but I'm not very smart sometimes. I relaxed on a comfy coach, chatting with my husband, sipping on this baby, and let me tell you it was absolutely incredible! I was so blown away by how amazing this was, being that I've never found hot chocolate I even tolerated. This was high quality chocolate basically melted and served in a cup - now that's my kind of hot chocolate! They have different kinds, some with chilly peppers ("the Wicked") and orange... there are a few other flavors (I think 5 altogether) but I forget now. The classic was great and I'll definitely be back there for more (maybe next time I'll try something new).

Only about a block away was the Levain Bakery. This was the place on the top of my list! I've seen a few shows featuring this bakery and was happy it made it to Anna's cookie guide. I had to get the original chocolate chip walnut cookie. They have 3 other kinds and a bunch of other goodies that looked great! It was so hard to control myself in all of these places, but I had a lot of ground to cover so I did my best. Here is the ginormous cookie. I put it next to a splenda packet to show you the size of it, but I think even this picture still understates how large this thing is. I took a tiny bite of it and once again put it away for later. We had very important dinner plans and I didn't want to spoil my appetite. I basically had a cupcake and a hot chocolate before dinner, and it was the perfect amount of food and replaced lunch!

Btw, this cookie was very delicious! I can't wait to try their other kinds next time! Yes, there will definitely be a next time.

We also went to an Italian gelato place, GROM, that we frequented on our honeymoon in Italy. It was so fun to be there because it brought up wonderful memories of our honeymoon, but I didn't order anything... this time it was my husband that enjoyed a treat. Here is a picture of the store front in case you ever run into one. I'll try to dig up a picture of the one we took in Florence or Venice (we've been to both, a few times). This one looked identical to those ones... even the menu was in Italian. Very cool!

Btw, Anna suggests going to the Buttercup Bakery for a cupcake, but I know from experience (I've been to both places many times) that Magnolia's cupcakes are way better. I believe both places are actually owned by the same people, but something about Magnolia's cakes is better. Now that there is a shop on the Upper West side with minimal lines, I'd suggest going with Magnolia's. I've also been to the City Bakery (it's great) and saved a repeat treat there for my next visit to NY.


We also did a little bit of shopping, but that wasn't that exciting. What was exciting were the cute doggies in 2 of the shops.

Doggie #1: she could not stay away from my husband. SO cute!! Doesn't she look like a toy?! There were 2 of them in the store.

Doggie #2 - OMG, THE cutest! She was 3 months old and absolutely adorable. This picture does not do her justice. I wanted to take her home, badly.


We got a gift certificate to the River Cafe in Brooklyn as part of our wedding gift. This place is kind of hard to get a reservation at on short notice so last time we were in NY we didn't plan ahead enough, but this time we actually planned our trip around this reservation. It was really fun having the most expensive dinner of our life, for free!

The restaurant is located under the Brooklyn Bridge. The views were spectucular but unfortunately the pictures didn't come out. I'll have to keep a mental picture of the place :)

The dinner is a 3-course pre-fixe. We got a little espresso cup sized pumpkin soup a few minutes after sitting down. It was excellent! I love it when restaurants bring little treats on the house. They don't have to do that, but it's always a welcome touch!

Of course we got a bottle of wine to share. I probably had 1/2 of the bottle... my glass was being refilled at all times so I really have no clue how much I actually drank.

Next came the bread guy with 3 different types of bread (a whole grain roll, which I got, a sourdough roll and a garlic stick, I think). It was very nutty, warm and delicious! Again the butter is for the table and I had few smears of it with my roll :)

For an appetizer I ordered the Rainbow Trout - house smoked with horseradish crust, tender red beet and herb salad, trout caviar and sunny side up quail egg. Super fancy, complex and delicious! I ate every bite.

For my entree I was feeling like meat, so I ordered the Crisp Duck Breast in a truffle honey and fennel pollen glaze, duck leg and potato croquette, organic carrots and julienne bok choy. The meat was absolutely perfectly cooked. I ate everything except a few bites I gave to my husband and some of the bok choy. Again, this was absolutely delicious! I still had room for dessert though :P

Surprise, surprise, I ordered the chocolate dessert: Chocolate Marquise Brooklyn Bridge with terrine of hazelnut and vanilla ice cream. Look how beautiful this thing was. Definitely just like the Brooklyn Bridge!

I actually ate only about 1/2 of the cake, some of the hard chocolate and most of the ice cream. I could definitely eat the whole thing, but I didn't want to be in pain (+ I knew I had plenty of cookies waiting for me at my sister's place) so I stopped myself while I was ahead. Good move!

Overall, this was a really great experience. If I had all the money in the world, I would probably go back there. Otherwise, I suppose there are plenty of other great restaurants for less money. This was really fun though!


We were quite tired after dinner (done around 11pm) but we didn't want to be lame like the night before and met my sister and her friends at a local bar, Tapeo 29, a few blocks from her place. It ended up being so much fun! They need to have more bars like that in Boston!

I ordered a vodka tonic to start:

And then a Hoegaarden with an orange wedge:

I also had about 3 olives from this spread they ordered, just because they were in front of my face. They were really good olives!!!

Oh, I have to share 2 more fun pictures. This was me and my sister at the bar:

And this is a picture of our friend Tony who covered his arm with a napkin because my sister kept on spitting on him while talking. We decided it was somewhat food related. Haha. Sorry Innz, hopefully you remember giving me permission to talk about this on my blog :)

We stayed there until about 2am and then headed "home." This was basically the most perfect day, minus some of the nasty weather (boo rain!). I'll post tomorrow about Sunday. There was more great food!


sarah said...

WOW. really, that's all I can say. Everything looks beyond amazing. yummmm : )

Adam said...

Hey you forgot to mention the cabbie who refused to take us to Brooklyn claming "severe mechanical problems" despite us seeing him drive up the road and drop someone off!

Bridget said...

omg I want a cookie so badly right now!! If you liked that hot chocolate you should try Burdicks in Harvard they have a demi size which is like an esspresso cup, but thats all I need because it's so rich!

Anonymous said...

Everything looks absolutely incredible! Enjoy your NYC time :)

Elina said...

Hehe, yeah, cabbies don't like Brooklyn!

Thanks, Bridget. I will definitely have to check it out because I think I found my new love :D

Anna said...

Thanks for posting :). I really enjoyed reading about your cookie tour. Of course, I'm kind of bummed I didn't get one of Jacques' (we're on a first name basis ha) mudslide cookies. I wonder if the ones in his bakery are similar to the ones I made yesterday. I might try them again without the nuts and cherries.

Your photo of the dessert at The River brough back a lot of memories. A date took me there years ago and my favorite part of the meal was that chocolate bridge dessert.

inna said...

i want cookie now.
You've addictified me.
i DO NOT remember giving permission for you to discuss my 'spitting' problems. i think you're taking advantage of my vulnerable state of mind at the time the conversation took place..

Elina said...

Thanks Anna for reading up on this. Hopefully I did your tour justice :)

Haha, Inna, unfortunately once I get permission it's fair game :) How's that bread basket going? Are you done with it? (I'll post tonight about that brunch)

Lara said...

Love the fancy dinner! That trout looks so yummy!

Amanda said...

I've never been to NY, it sounds fun...and OMG I am now dying for a cookie.