Scoop of the Day… Chikalicious

There is a club in NYC that is $0 to join with absolutely no membership fee. That’s right, it’s completely FREE! It’s a small gem of a spot located in the heart of the East Village and is probably the first of its kind. There is frequently a line to get in and it can get pretty packed at times, but that is a small price to pay for utter satisfaction. You probably won’t want to come every day, as you might bulk up, but I do suggest you make an appearance every once in a while, at least on special occasions. This club I speak of is none other than Dessert Club, ChikaLicious. Not to be confused with ChikaLicious Dessert Bar.

Dessert Club, ChikaLicious is a quaint spot with just a few tables and bar stools that sits directly across the street from its sister, Dessert Bar. Though it is adorned with a bright red awning and is usually accompanied by a trail of patrons waiting to sink their teeth into something dangerously sweet, it can be easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled. It may not be a refined, pre fix culinary retreat like its sister, but it gets right to the point and is more than capable of satisfying your sweet tooth craving.

Now, I can’t speak for the array of cupcakes, macarons, cookies, or eclairs they have on display, but I can tell you a little bit about their ice creams. Unlike the baked desserts, which have been described as simple or too small, the frozen treats here are colossal, distinctive, and divine. The foundation for each dessert is either shaved ice or vanilla bean soft serve, but each variation is unique and makes a lasting impression. Take for instance the Cookies and Cream Christopher treated me to for my recent accomplishment (aka a special occasion):

A Special Occassion

This Cookies and Cream is clearly no ordinary scoop. Oh, no. Cookies and Cream makes a statement. First of all, this dessert towers over all other desserts in the entire club (sans the shaved ice). This is the MC of Dessert Club. The signature vanilla bean soft serve, which alone tastes delicately of traditional creamy vanilla ice cream, is infused with chunks of their three homemade signature cookies (The Situation, Situation Dark, and Chocolate Chip). Then, it is piled high in a dainty plastic dish and accompanied by a tiny spoon that could easily get submerged should you choose to loosen your grip. You won’t have to worry about this though because you won’t want to put it down! Each bite is satisfyingly crunchy, cool, sweet, and salty, none of which overwhelms the other.

Due to its impressive size I was unable to finish even half of it, but that certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t give it my best shot. Until now, I had yet to meet a scoop that has a prerequisite, but next time I have reason to celebrate I will definitely be coming here. Will it be the Cookies and Cream again, the Strawberry Shortcake, an ice cream sandwich, or a shaved ice? I don’t really have the answer to that right now, but what I can tell you is that whatever it is, it will be REALLY GOOD.

Who wants to celebrate?

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Scoop of the Day… SanFran

While New York is my first love and will always have my heart, I have to say that there is a new lover in my life. This lover is a little more laid back, but just as passionate. Some may think he’s unstable, but I happen to like being kept on my toes. And this lover is oh so charming. My new lover in life is San Francisco. I met San Francisco (or SanFran as I like to call him) last year and we have been seeing each other casually ever since. When I am with SanFran all of my worries seem to melt away. We’re always doing something new and exciting, we spend a lot of time outside, and we’re totally on the same wave length. SanFran just gets me. One of the things I like most about SanFran is his food. New York does have a lot to boast about and of course his confidence draws the attention of the most attractive chefs, but SanFran is modest and smart, serving forward thinking, whimsical meals that really give you what you want, not just try to impress you.

When I see SanFran, it’s not too often, so he really tries to pack it in while I’m there. On my last trip this past weekend, he introduced me to the creativity and talent of both Chef Tyler Florence at Wayfare Tavern and Chef Michael Mina at Bourbon Steak. Now, when SanFran proposed these two chefs to me I was a little baffled. Tyler and Michael are celebrity chefs that should be at New York’s coat-tail. Tyler having his cooking show, Tyler’s Ultimate, making gourmet cooking accessible to the man’s man, and Michael being an established restaurateur and steak guy. How could these two chefs fit in with the creativity and lightheartedness that SanFran embraces? I thought he was playing me for a fool, but I decided to give him a chance. Boy, am I glad I did! While the main courses at each restaurant rang true to the chefs’ machismo styles, the deserts were flirtatious and made me especially giddy.

Wayfare Tavern, for instance, is like a huge rustic man cave you’d expect to stumble upon in the middle of Minnesota.. or Kentucky. Animals on the walls, billiard room for private dining, large flat screen tv for… well I’m not too sure guys, football? It’s oozing with testosterone. The experience was like having a first date with your meal. As soon as you sit down, you’re greeted with a beautiful, puffy, and flakey popover that is clearly used to butter you up and seduce you. The apps and entrees were Tyler-esque, and the deserts just hook you in, as if he were exposing his sensitive side! I was so surprised at how playful they were that I nearly forgot I was in a mantuary. One of our friends ordered a popcorn covered candy apple, another had a mini pumpkin pudding pie, and I of course had the trio of ice cream (my staple). This trio was composed of popcorn, cinnamon, and honey thyme, and each was UNBELIEVABLE. The texture was velvety smooth, they all had the perfect amount of creaminess, and the unique flavors were pronounced but not pungent. I can honestly say those were some of the best scoops I’ve had at a sit down dinner in a LONG time.

Bourbon Steak was a runner-up in the scoop department ( I had the trio of sorbet, none of which lacked luster), but the other deserts were shockingly, if not more, creative! Two people at our table ordered a child like root beer float with two gooey homemade cookies, XXL, and another had house made fig newtons! The third ordered beignets that tasted as if they came straight out of Mardi Gras, rum included sans beads. Not only did the desserts compare in fantasy factor, but the bread basket was similarly replaced. This time we were coaxed with duck fat french fries and a trio of sauces that made you do a little dance.

I can’t say which restaurant impressed me more, but I can say that SanFran certainly did not disappoint on this trip, and I anticipate he won’t on the next. Although at one time I thought SanFran to be jealous of New York and all his glory, I really don’t think that is the case. SanFran’s got the magic touch and really knows how to throw a curve ball. Honey.. you know the way to my heart… and my stomach. Till X-Mas 😉

Scoop of the Day… Craft

Craft, by definition, is “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry.” Craft, by reputation, is a renowned NYC restaurant commended for being understated and minimalistic while consistently delivering a luxurious and meticulously orchestrated dining experience. Tom Colicchio’s Craft, while recognized among foodies and mortals alike, is a restaurant that I have, regretfully, avoided up until this weekend.  I have a tendency to rebel against trends before surrendering, and this is one such instance in which I can admit to have been missing out. For years I tortured my frozen toes and layered my socks so as not to be aligned with Cult UGG, on that same note I stuck to flip flops in the summer. I have yet to actually purchase my own iPod (inheriting or gifting does not count) and it took me a solid three months before I surrendered to Facebook once made available on the GW campus.  Amongst all of my protests, I have to say that, when it comes to trending restaurants such as this, it’s worth your while to raise the white flag.

Although it has the stigma of being a chain, when you go to the flagship Craft in NYC, the entire experience is seamless from first sip to last bite. The ambiance flows fluidly with the food and beverage, which is then bridged by a gracious and efficient staff. The message throughout your stay is that of subtle elegance and refinement. For instance, the décor, upon first glance, says industrial and unfinished. After standing at the bar for at most thirty seconds, however, it soon reveals itself to be delicate and polished. It is as if the choice of medium and minimalism serves as a tromp l’oeil for strategic elegance. This theme of “craftiness,” if you will, persists throughout the meal. While the New American dishes on the menu are organized by genre and seem relatively straightforward, the execution is absolutely perfect and the blend of flavors and textures is undeniably calculated.

While the magic of the food and ambiance unfold, your party is seated at an ample wood table that serves almost as a stage. The food is served family style so that everyone can share the experience, the meal leaves your taste buds tantalized, and you’ll spend the rest of the night wondering, “Did that really just happen?”