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?

Scoop of the Day… NY Mag Taste

Last night I had the privilege of being invited to the 2011 NY Mag Taste: A World of Flavors. Saying that this was a good event would be an understatement. This year, several of New York’s most renowned chefs and restaurants were hand-picked to showcase their craft with creative and decadent small plates that best represented their cuisine. The event was hosted by NY Mag editor Gillian Duffy in the Skylight SoHo event loft, which was filled to the max with a beautiful display of tables arranged by globlal influence, a fully stocked bar that stretched down the center of the room, and a Cadillac sedan…sponsorship. Each restaurant had its own table that was adorned in a way that spoke of its unique personality, and that was manned by THE Executive Chef. This alone put me on Cloud 9. I took full advantage of the situation and made a point to shake hands with celebrity chefs Michael Psilakis of Kefi, Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster, Nancy Olson of Gramercy Tavern, and Georges Mendes of Aldea, just to name a few. You’d think I was meeting Brad Pitt or Justin Beiber, I was so excited. This… was foodie heaven.

Speaking of taking advantage of a situation, as soon as I entered the loft the devouring began. Now, usually I am very meticulous about how I eat.  Omitting my sweet tooth, I pick and choose what I allow myself to eat in a given meal, and I pay close attention to what is going into my mouth. I eat smart. In this particular situation, however, my rule book was left in a cab. Without a thought or hesitation, my jacket came off and the tasting commenced. I don’t think I have ever mapped out a plan of action so quickly or so precisely in my life. It’s as if I had spent the day memorizing the event lay out ( Scoop’s Honor, I did no such thing). Sooner than you could say, “Jamie slow down,” I was onto the next plate. Bite after bite, table after table, you’d think I’d never had a meal in my life. There had to be at least 40 restaurants serving at the event and, I kid you not, I tried at least 95% of them. The most shocking part of all, was that I accomplished this in less than an hour. You can say it, “Jamie, how you could lose control like that? What were you thinking? How glutenous could you be?” And my answer is simply this, ” It was AMAZING. I was happy to lose control! I was being hand served by some of the top chefs in the restaurant capital of the world, dishes that were hand-picked and crafted BY them! Are you kidding me?! I have not one regret for my actions and given the opportunity to do it again, I’d pick up a pair of extra-large pants and get my eat on!” I do have to admit that as soon as I was done stuffing my face I high tailed it back to my apartment. That was a danger zone and lingering would only increase my odds of self-destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

While I can’t say that I remember all of the bites I had pre food coma, I do recall a few that stood out from the pack. The best bites that I would consider of the “appetizer” genre were the Red Kuri Pumpkin Veloute with Salt Cod Chantilly from Corton, the Oyster from Kefi, the Herb Falafel with Harissa Yogurt  from Boulud Sud, and the Black Sea Bass an Avocado Tarts from Red Farm. The best bites over all were the Smoked Texas Tenderloin with Skillet Cornbread from Hill Country BBQ Market, the Taco from Toloache, and the Risotto from SHO Shaun Hergatt. And last but not least, the best two desserts HANDS DOWN were the Pumpkin and Gingerbread Spiced Truffles from Gramercy Tavern and the Chocolate Creme from Porter House NY. Each of the dishes mentioned above were just so creative in composition and theme, and they all delivered so much more than you would initially expect.

Surprisingly, some chefs that you would have expected to steal the show, while still tasty, under-delivered. Alas, the only disappointment I can think of was that there was no ice cream, but, I would say that now wouldn’t I 🙂

The NY Mag Taste: A World of Flavors did what it intended to do and sent me on the fastest, most exhilarating culinary adventure around the globe, all within a New York minute.

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 😉