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… 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…

Baking from scratch is something that has been engrained in me since I was a mini Scoop. It all began in my second grade class with my teacher Miss Athenasiatis. It’s a mouthful , I know. Imagine saying that 10 times a day when you’re eight years old and you’ve only been speaking basic English for 6 years. Not so easy. So, for our sake, and to save her face, we will refer to her as Miss A. When I was in Miss A’s class we had weekly spelling tests, and I HAD to get a 100% on each one. If I didn’t get a 100%, I didn’t get a new troll doll, and if I didn’t get a new troll doll, the whole world would come to an end. Seriously, you do not know what I was capable of at that age, and I hope you never have to feel the residual effects. Well, one day Miss A gave us a spelling test, and there was a really difficult word on our study sheet. Even though I was prepared, and even though I kneeled down next to my bed the night before, stretched my chin to the edge of my mattress, and prayed for this word to magically not be on it, the very next day, Miss A stood before our class and said, “Spell the word…”Because.” Laugh all you want, but for one reason or another, I just could not master this word. Maybe it was because I frequently heard it paired with “…I said so,” or maybe it was the silent ‘u,’ but whatever the reason, as soon as she announced the word, my face got hot and my mind went blank. To my advantage, right after she announced the word, she was called out of the classroom to speak with another teacher. This was my chance, this was my one moment. In my little cubby to the side of my leg, my blue spelling book was standing tall, ready to be flipped open and reveal the true spelling of “Because.” As I sat there, however, I started to get the sweats. And then I got the shakes. Innocent Miss A would have no idea what I had done, but I would have to live with the fact that I had cheated. Every time I spelled the word “Because,” I would have to think of that one time Miss A was testing us and I cheated… for a troll doll.

This moment, believe it or not, helped define who I am today. Due to my inability to defy Miss A, I am now unable to cheat or cut corners in anything I do. And while I do envy those who are so comfortable swiping past years exams, entering equations on their calculators, or even having someone else do their work for them, I am wholly uncomfortable with it. The only time I really enjoy cutting a corner is when I J walk across the street… there’s something so thrilling about it, you know you agree.

While I know the easy way out would make my life, well, easier, I find pleasure in doing things from start to finish. This way, I am learning and manipulating steps as I go along, and creating an end result I can call my own. I take this quality with me through life, and I especially take it with me into the kitchen. Do you know what a box of Duncan Hines cake mix does to me? I get that same feeling I got in Miss A’s class when I tried to cheat, I get hot, I break into the sweats, and I start to shake.

Baking without cutting corners, a.k.a baking from scratch, is one of my favorite tasks to take on from end to end, and I had the ultimate scratch experience this weekend when I baked my left over homemade challah bread into a Maple Spiced Bread Pudding. While the bread making was exhausting, the bread pudding I could have done with my eyes closed, and the finished product was absolutely divine. The feeling (and results) you get after successfully baking from scratch do not come in a box. As Christopher likes to say, “Made from scratch, down the hatch.”

Oh, and about that last spelling test in Miss A’s class… I didn’t cheat… and I got my troll doll. 😉