Tuesday, August 12, 2008

BCD Takes NYC: Part Three - Hipsters, More Cupcakes, and Dumplings

by Erin and Xani

After our super-fun first full day in the city, we came back to Brooklyn and went out on the town! We had lots of fun checking out the Bay Ridge bar scene (i.e., super-drunk firefighters and a leather-chapped bouncer) but we were sooooo tie-tie after our day of eating and touring around, and we slept for a LONG time when we got home. When we arose we hopped in the car and headed over to Williamsburg, an area of Brooklyn that has become so hipster, it was like a different planet. We saw girls on bikes wearing grannie dresses and sailor hats, and a guy wearing a Level 2 hazardous materials suit with a neon green halter tank underneath. Let's just say it makes Baltimore's hipsters look preppy. It was incredible. Anyway, we went to a bustling diner called Diner and amazingly got a seat right away. First things first: coffee. We got coffees and Lauren ordered a latte. The coffee was really good and strong, and a great way to start our day.

Just what we needed after a long night in Bay Ridge...

Xani caught stealin' those Domino sugar cubes! Charm City represent!

Tall drink of latte

The staff at Diner made us feel welcome, despite the fact that we were devoid of multiple tatoos and super-tight jeans (question: what do you do if you're a fat hipster and can't wear those jeans? Discuss.) The menu at Diner was minimal but they have lots of specials that change every day.

Cheers to not being hipster enough!

Lauren and roomie Sarah - also not hipster enough

Then we ordered our much-needed brunch. Xani ordered the Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Lauren ordered the Fruit Plate with Honey, and Lauren's roommate Sarah and I each ordered the special sandwich of the day: Bacon, Egg, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich with Cole Slaw.

Fruit plate

Xani's pancakes were the surprise hit of the meal! Xani doesn't even LIKE pancakes, and she loved these. They tasted like really corny cornbread but with the added bonus of being all griddled up and buttery, plus the blueberry compote was tart and sweet on top. Add a little syrup and you've got yourself a kick-ass breakfast.

EP's sandwich was also fantastic, but in a savory, I-prefer-lunch way. The sandwich was served open-face on a single piece of toast, and everything worked beautifully together. The bacon was fatty but not greasy, and the tomatoes were yellow heirloom tomatoes with lots of flavor. The fried egg on top was an added bonus with yummy yolk action not unlike a certain lamb's tongue salad we met a few nights before. The slaw was some of the best we've had - EVER. It was purple (from red cabbage, we presume) with lots of flavor from vinegar, celery seed and caraway seed. It wasn't gloppy in the least, and it was irresistable!

Aw yeah...breakfast in a sandwich

After brunch, we hopped back in the car and drove a few blocks to the Brownstoner's Brooklyn Flea Market to do a little shopping. Another reason we wanted to check out this market in particular is because we knew Keavy of the Kumquat Cupcakery would be selling her delicious cupcakes there!

Loyal readers will recall when Lauren did a field report on these cupcakes, which was very positive, and we were eager to try them for ourselves. Amazingly, when we introduced ourselves to Keavy, she remembered us and our blog! Hooray!

We tried one of each of her three kinds of cupcakes: chocolate blueberry, peachy vanilla, and red velvet. They were so adorably tiny, perhaps 2/3 the size of typical mini-cupcakes.

So tiny!

For all of them, the cake was light and moist, and the frosting was not overwhelmingly sweet. There was a wonderful cake:frosting ratio going on. In terms of flavor, they were all yummy but the clear winner was the peachy vanilla. Very delicate and dainty but not so dainty that you didn't want to shove the whole (tiny) thing in your mouth. Thanks Keavy! It was great to meet you (and your cupcakes)!

After we had had our cupcakes and purchased some fun new jewelry (who can resist vintage stud earrings??), we headed back to Bay Ridge to pack up our stuff. Then Lauren drove us into the city and dropped us off at cousins Ann and Steven's sweet pad in the middle of the city (right across the street from Shake Shack!). We hung out for a while and caught up, and then it was miraculously time to eat again. (That's the problem with writing these posts solely about food - it condenses all the eating into what sounds like about 20 minutes, but we swear, it was over a whole day!)

We decided to grab our last NYC eats with Ann and Steven at a dumpling place called Rickshaw Dumpling Bar (tagline: "Nice Dumplings"). This place was absolutely awesome for so many reasons. First, the chef and co-founder, Anita Lo, was recently the challenger on Iron Chef America, where she beat Iron Chef Batali in "Battle Mushroom." Also, she was the expert with whom Bobby Flay consulted on his Food Network show, "Throwdown," where the challenge was dumplings. Clearly, this lady is FIERCE in the kitchen.

But most importantly, we loved Rickshaw for its dumplings! There were approximately 5-6 types of dumplings, which they served pan-fried, steamed, in soup (six or so different kinds), or with salad (six or so different kinds). We mixed and matched and were able to try quite a few kinds.

First, we ordered some Watermelon Lemonade to sip while we waited (about 3 minutes) for our dumplings.

We ordered the Classic Pork and Chinese Chive dumpling and Hudson Valley Peking Duck dumpling, both pan-fried. Then we ordered the Chicken and Thai Basil dumpling in the Peanut Sate Noodle Soup. Not only did these dumplings come out hot and fast, but they were GOOD. Really good. I-might-drive-back-to-NYC-right-now good. The pan-fried ones were served with delicious dipping sauces, and the soup in which the chicken-thai basil ones were served was wonderfully fragrant and hearty, with lots of fresh vegetables and a generous portion of rice noodles.

We were still hungry after that round (yes, if you can believe it, still could eat more), so we ordered the Shrimp and Jicama dumpling, pan-fried, and the Szechuan Chicken dumpling in the Chili-Soy Noodle Soup. The soup was SPICY and delicious (especially the fried-up pieces of tofu on top), and the pan-fried dumplings were perfectly cooked and served with yet another type of dipping sauce.

Spiciest piece of tofu ever

The last thing we ordered were the Warm Chocolate Shanghai Soup Dumplings, which consisted of a rich, warm liquid chocolate encased in a kind of gummy, rice-based exterior coated with black sesame seeds. While Steven wasn't into them, the rest of us found them to be interesting and a great end to our dumpling meal.

Chocolatey innards...

The last reason we love Rickshaw is a reason we just discovered: their website is awesome (check out the section called "we believe" for their credo) and they use naturally raised, local, and organic meats when possible! Yay!

It was such a wonderful trip to New York with great friends, wonderful family, and spectacular, drool-inducing food. Can we go back now please?? Thanks to all who made the trip so great! We love you!

We heart NY,
EP & X

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