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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Sticky buns at a farmer’s market

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While vacationing in New York City and staying with good friends in Brooklyn, ventured out one weekend with plans to stop by a local farmer’s market set up in the parking lot of a nearby pharmacy/convenience store. That morning there was a vendor selling strawberries – a lot of strawberries. Picked some up, which were eventually enjoyed as part of a parfait.

Slowly wandered the small area and spotted a vendor with heaps of baked goods. When it comes to bread and baked goods, it is always difficult to choose. On every visit to a personal favorite bakery, Paris Baguette, it always takes a few rounds looking through the self-serve display case before deciding on the one or two (or three) items to purchase.

Amid the array of bread and rolls, there was also a display of sticky buns – there was no way I could leave without picking one up. They looked so beautiful. At just the sight of it, could already taste its sweetness; plus, it was topped with nuts, so there was also an anticipation for contrasting textures whenever that first bite would take place.

After the market, continued with the rest of the day and was left to enjoy the pastry at a later time. I have a feeling it would have been amazing on the spot, without a day’s wear on it, but it was still delicious. The bread was a bit dense, but that was likely intensified from sitting in a bag for most of the day – it was still good.

In Bacolod City, it’s hard to find good bread and pastries. Most of it is pre-packaged and those marketed as “fresh” are, often times, missing key ingredients, leaving their products excessively crumby, to the point where it virtually disintegrates after the first bite; or they’re really dry, dense, and bland.

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Written by Paulo Loreto

February 23, 2018 at 8:18 PM

Picking up takeout on a lazy Brooklyn afternoon

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Since moving to the Philippines five years ago, on those indecisive days trying to figure out what to eat, the old reliable Chinese takeout place becomes a very-much missed commodity. Something as basic as the standard Chinese takeaway joint is all-too-often taken for granted and one of those things I’ve grown to miss once it’s not there anymore.

Not sure why the concept hasn’t taken off in Bacolod City. There are Chinese establishments, but they are all expansive restaurants (with attached banquet halls). However, the only thing I’m craving is a hole-in-the-wall spot that has a $4.75 lunch special.

Stopping for Chinese takeout was a regular occurrence back when living in the US; on every visit back, there has always been a visit to the random spot down the street or around the corner.

The classic entrée that comes with rice and the choice of soup or soda, is all too typical when living and working in New York City, but when visiting, after at least a year of being away, those kind of things become treasured. It would seem like something so simple would be adaptable to most cultures – given the practice has expanded to other parts of the world outside the US – but for the local culture in Bacolod City it, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be something attractive.

On the last trip, while staying in Brooklyn, after a long morning of work, followed by some time at the gym, venturing into Manhattan was the last thing on my mind. Stopped at a nearby grocery store and noticed a Chinese place a block over. Placed an order for a sesame chicken lunch special, along with an order of dumplings, and went back to the grocery store as they prepared the lunch set.

Getting back to the apartment, put the groceries away and plopped on the couch for some basic takeout and daytime television. Thinking back while sitting behind a desk in the Philippines, yes, those things, as mundane as they may seem, are definitely taken for granted.

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 18, 2018 at 5:20 AM

Spotting doughnuts in Koreatown

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On the most recent visit to New York City, was working remotely for the newspaper, which meant the work day started at 3:00 a.m. and ran until around 12 noon. Throwing in some time at the local gym, getting to take in as much as possible in the afternoon was a priority in order to truly appreciate the time back on the old stomping grounds.

More often than not, on any given day in Manhattan, it will likely be spent wandering up and down the strip of 32nd street referred to as Koreatown. Especially with a Koryo Books location to pick up the latest K-pop album, along with a Nature Republic store, it has become more than an eating destination.

Was walking eastward when a big sign that read “ginseng” caught my eye; incidentally, was in the market for ginseng products and had to check it out.

The place was called Besfren, with a cute logo with rabbits on it, which apparently is based on a fairy tale about a pair of rabbits that lived on the moon and made rice cakes. Stepping inside, noticed one side had a wall lined with ginseng products and the other side was a full-fledged café.

Before browsing the ginseng, and eventually picking up a small pack of sachets, was in awe of the pastry display. So many options, each with a very unique look to them. However, there was nothing more eye-catching than the green tea doughnut. After going for the brightly-colored pastry, also ordered a ginseng ginger latte, which offered a punch of ginger flavor with every sip, hopped on the subway with excitement, anticipating the joy of indulging in the doughnut.

Seeing it both in the display case and on the table ready to consume, this “doughnut” was more like a mini-cake – huge for a doughnut. Took the first bite and the green tea flavor was potent and, given how dense the doughnut was, it was not dry. Plus, the crème in the middle offered a nice complement to the pastry itself.

The next time in Koreatown, will definitely need to stop in again (wonder if the stamp card I picked up will still be valid).

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 10, 2018 at 1:37 AM

Australian Burger

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In all the years in New York City and all the variety of foods consumed in that time, there is really nothing that satisfies than a good hamburger. Leaving the United States, learned very quickly that a good hamburger cannot be taken for granted and it’s not as simple a concept as one would imagine in formulating a decent burger. Having enjoyed an extended vacation in 2015, stopped by one of the regular haunts, The Australian NYC – the only place to enjoy live rugby league at five in the morning.

If there’s anything as quintessentially Australian as koalas and kangaroos, it’s the way they enjoy their burgers. Two words: Beetroot and pineapple. Have had pineapple on burger before, usually places call it an “Aloha burger” or something Hawaiian, but it’s the Australians that have locked in an amazing combination of flavors with the variety of toppings. Given the other essentials – lettuce, tomato, onion – the burger can stack pretty high, but what other way is there to enjoy it?

The burger at The Australian NYC is both a classic and a new concept (depending on where you’re coming from). Must say, personally, not one to really indulge in beetroot that often, it’s usually only on hamburgers that the ingredient ever springs up. The Aussie burger is a nice contrast to the regular burger one would get at a typical pub, plus (for newbies), it has that little extra from the Aussie ingredients without getting too far into weird burger territory.

Beetroot and pineapple never worked better together.

Beetroot and pineapple never worked better together.

It also comes with some really tasty fries.

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 15, 2016 at 8:12 AM

Autumn Treat

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Upon visiting New Jersey, it was an immediate dash to getting shopping done to pack supplies for a box to send back to the Philippines. Visiting a warehouse store, picked up a good number of items that would be useful back home, on that last stop before the cash register, a box of cider donuts was added to the cart. Automatically, that brought back memories of apple picking with friends – a pretty remarkable tale – along with everything that makes autumn in the northeast something special.

Getting to enjoy the donut, paired with a cup of tea, it was everything one would expect. Sweet and delicious, the donut was rich, without being heavy, and coated with a light sugary powder that helped completely the experience.

Donuts can be found all over the place, in a variety of flavors, but there’s something that makes the cider donut so special. Perhaps the sentimental value of the season, the warm memories they seem to bring out in people, or just the plain great taste of them that usually isn’t imitated at any other time of the year. Definitely something unique to the northeast and something residents are very lucky to enjoy during that time of the year.

Cider Donut

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 23, 2016 at 10:32 AM

The Fitz

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Wandering somewhere in between where Midtown ends and Lenox Hill begins, as usual, it was a time for scoping out a place for lunch. Had the phone out to geolocate myself and walked passed multitudes of markers showing spots for a meal. Walked by PJ Clarke’s, been there a couple times, and it seemed like the peak of lunch rush – barely able to step inside. Immediately, left and the journey continued. Stumbled across the menu for The Fitz restaurant, housed within The Fitzpatrick Hotel, and they offered an overall decent-looking menu, was a couple blocks over and decided to give it a try.

Walked in (by this time, peak lunch was probably over) and the main seating area was filled with people having tea and coffee. Continued walking towards the back and found a full bar, equipped with bar counter seating along with high-top tables along the other side of the room. Took a seat at the bar and admired the beautifully designed bar area; dark wood, modern-looking taps, with lit-up bottles along the back wall.

By that time, after the search for lunch, needed some kind of burger or sandwich and zeroed in on the New York Steak Sandwich. Upon arrival, the sandwich was one on the beautiful side, a generous size, with plenty of steak making its appearance upon first glance. That first bite, it was on the chewier side, but nonetheless delicious; the combination of a firm steak with hearty bread made it one you had to take a good bite out of. Definitely a satisfying lunch and the steak fries that were paired with the sandwich; hot, fresh, and everything one loves about french fries.

The Fitz

Would probably consider this place for a Happy Hour.

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 13, 2016 at 7:34 AM

Visiting the Good Batch in Clinton Hill

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Heard about a place in Brooklyn that made stroopwafels; beyond that, heard they made stroopwafel ice cream sandwiches. Stroopwafels, the incredible waffle cookies made in Holland, super thin cookies with a heaping pile of caramel to glue the entire thing together. Pre-packed and bought at Schiphol airport they’re delicious, imagine them fresh and made in-house.

Arrived in the early afternoon and stepped inside. A clean interior with a wide display case, started with baked goods like scones and breads, moving down to the ice cream section. Not noticing the stroopwafel anywhere, asked if they had them available. On this day, they did not have them ready, was simply told, “later.” Buzzkill.

Had been thinking about a stroopwafel ice cream sandwich for, just about, the previous 24 hours, just to arrive too early. Took a gaze back at the ice cream sandwiches for a replacement, and honed in on the toffee vanilla ice cream sandwich. It was delicious. The cookie was soft and sweet from the toffee – even left a bit of stickiness on the fingertips, and the ice cream was great.

The Toffee Vanilla Ice Cream sandwich.

The Toffee Vanilla Ice Cream sandwich.

Mid-treat, a few other customers walked in and took coffee orders to go, while biting through the ice cream sandwich, overheard somebody ordering a hot chocolate – along with a discussion of peppermint hot chocolate; it became a necessary follow-up. Having, pretty much, made myself at home at the bench next to the window, got a peppermint hot chocolate once the ice cream was full enjoyed and it was a fantastic chaser.

A Peppermint Hot Chocolate for a misty NYC afternoon.

A Peppermint Hot Chocolate for a misty NYC afternoon.

While the visit to The Good Batch started as disappointment, there are heaps of treats the place offers to satisfy any craving one might have.