Thursday, January 22, 2009

BCD in NYC Holiday Special, Part III (or is it??!)

by Xani

Thinking back on this trip, Sunday is a little hazy. It's been almost a month (oops!) since our visit, and the details are hard to conjure up... then again, perhaps the haziness has something to do with the four bottles of pink champagne we downed the night before. It made for quite a morning. We knew the only cure was a delicious, hipster brunch in Williamsburg!

We headed out in the cold to Egg, which we heard had the best brunch in Brooklyn. When we arrived, there were numerous hipsters milling around outside, and a chalkboard propped up against the front window, where names were scrawled and crossed out as the super-nice hostess came out to seat people... she seemed to feel really bad that people were waiting outside in the damp, chilly weather.

After a decently long wait (well, it seems like AGES, but when cold, tired, hungry, and badly in need of coffee, its difficult to judge time), we were finally seated at a cozy little table covered in white paper. The rest of the space was totally stark-- concrete floors, blank walls. Zero atmosphere; this place is all about the food. They did provide crayons so we could dress up our table a little. Our charming waiter quickly brought us french-pressed coffee so we could warm our tired bones (what?). (Also, note that I said the hostess was "super-friendly" and the waiter "charming." "Friendly service-people?? But they're hipsters!?" I hear you cry. Apparently the two are not mutually exclusive. At least, not at Egg.)

Along with the coffee came...wait for it.... donuts! Oh yeah, these melt-in-your-mouth little babies were the perfect sugar rush to go along with the strong coffee. I had already scrawled our logo on the paper in front of me, not knowing donuts were forthcoming. It was a MIRACLE. I think the waiter was confused...

Then we ordered: organic cheese grits and eggs (Stone-ground antebellum grits from South Carolina's Anson Mills, eggs cooked any style) for EP and LP, the country ham biscuit (Country ham from Col. Bill Newsom's Hams in Princeton, Kentucky,served on a biscuit with homemade fig jam, Grafton cheddar) for me, and a side of candied bacon to share. And, omg people, wow, GREAT brunch. So good it cuts through the haze of a champagne hangover and a month's time, and I can taste those cheese grits now....

Just really, really excellent breakfast. My sandwich, with salty ham, sharp cheddar, and sweet fig jam, all perched on a tender biscuit, was sublime. It came with a side of non-cheese grits, but the cheese grits EP and LP got were off the charts. LP deemed the kale (the seasonal vegetable of the day) on of the best things ever. And let's not forget about that candied bacon, which was salty, smoky, crunchy, and covered in a sticky sweet glaze-- in a word, perfection.

So that was breakfast. Afterwards we retired to LPs place to lay around like beached whales until it was time to go to dinner. Yup, we're still eatin'!


Dinner was something I was really looking forward to, as we were hitting another Mario Batali place, and I knew it would be super-tasty. Otto Pizzeria and Enoteca is a more casual, everyday kinda place (well, after eating there, I will say that if I lived in NYC I would want to eat there damn near everyday!). The space is warm and inviting, and we enjoyed (yet another) bottle of Prosecco at the tall tables in the bar before we were seated. Then the six of us (me, EP, LP, LPs boyfriend John, and EP's friend Kerry, who has appeared on the blog a couple times before) got down to the serious business of ordering. This is something of a challenge since Otto's menu is extensive and everything sounded absolutely delicious. So, we did what any reasonable person would do-- go completely NUTS with the ordering!

I can't possibly remember everything we ate, even with the pictures (again, the haziness). There were multiple types of house-made salumi, there were seven kinds of cheese with various accouterments, there were half a dozen antipasti vegetable dishes, there was pasta, there were pizzas, and eventually, there was dessert. These blurry pictures and my inability to recall the particulars of the meal really don't do it justice. Let's just say that my memories of this meal are so wonderful: drinking Italian wine, eating delicious food, enjoying the warm surroundings and good music, and talking and laughing with good friends. What more could I ask for?

Otto was our last meal in NYC before we headed back to Baltimore. We had a freaking fabulous time, as usual, and, as usual, on the train ride home we were already plotting, um, er, planning our next visit. Which will be very, very soon, and to celebrate a seriously special occasion. But first, a BCD family blow-out in LAS VEGAS. Stay tuned!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

BCD in NYC Holiday Special: Part II

by Erin and Xani

After our first, fun-filled day and night in NYC, Lauren, Xani and I woke up to a snowy Brooklyn on our first morning in NYC. Thankfully the precipitation had ceased so we only had to worry about not falling on the ice and seriously injuring ourselves or others. We bundled up and headed into the City. First stop: The West Village and The Spotted Pig. You long-time readers might remember that I went there with Lauren during my Spring Break trip to NYC last March and we ran into some male models - so hilarious. More importantly, it was so delicious that we wanted to go back so Xani could have a Spotted Pig experience of her own!

On the choo choo to the West Village

Like last time, we had planned on a long wait for a table, but alas, we walked right in and got a table! We think the weather had deterred many from venturing out, but not us - we had a food itinerary to keep, come hell or high water!

We were seated in a cozy back room and got a cup of delicious (and more importantly, hot) coffee.

We once again ordered the Chicken Liver Toast since I had told Xani all about it after my first visit and we, as nice Jewish girls, love our chopped liver. It was wonderfully rich, savory, and sweet all at the same time. It was served on grilled bread which added a great contrast in texture.

Then we ordered our mains. Lauren got the Smoked Haddock Chowder with Homemade Crackers, Xani got the Beef Tongue Hash with Poached Eggs, and I got the Cubano Sandwich with Mixed Salad.

Chowdah with crackers

Rockin' out to beef tongue hash

Layers of cuban goodness

The chowder was really comforting and rich, but still had lots of flavor from the fish and the veggies. It was creamy but not like a giant bowl of cream. The beef tongue hash was also great - clearly we love offal! The cubano was good but not as traditional as it could have been (e.g., they used a crusty baguette for the bread, instead of a softer cuban bread that crisps up better when pressed). Still, it had all the notable flavors of a cuban sandwich: roasted pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickles. (That reminds me of one time when I was eating a cuban sandwich at Little Havana with a few friends and they asked me if I kept kosher, to which I responded, "there are two kinds of pork, plus cheese in this sandwich. I don't think so.")

We also ordered a batch of their famous Shoestring Fries. The fries were wonderful - so skinny! (One of the few times the words "fries" and "skinny" appear in the same sentence.) They were cooked with garlic and rosemary, which gave them an amazing aroma and taste. We devoured them - can you blame us??


After! It was like a Christmas tree with all that rosemary...

Instead of dessert at the Pig, we headed to The Doughnut Plant, a donut place that was featured on "Throwdown" on The Food Network, and recently on "Donut Paradise" on the Travel Channel, amongst other accolades. I was VERY excited to go here since I LOVE donuts and I had heard so much about this place. We caught a [cash] cab to the Lower East Side, where it was one of the few businesses open on Saturday. We scooted into the warm little space to order, and you could tell there was a major baking operation happening on the other side of the wall.

Specials of the day

We had decided to get a dozen donuts and bring them to Ann and Steven's place for a donut tasting (normal!). We got almost every flavor they had, including almost all of the specials. Flavors included: vanilla glazed (raised), vanilla glazed with homemade cranberry-orange jam filling, the same as the former but with a peanut butter glaze to make it a PB&J donut, blackout, tres leches (cake donut filled with cream), pomegranate, marzipan, creme brulee, gingerbread, raised with chocolate icing, coconut glaze with coconut cream, etc., etc.

We got to Ann and Steven's awesome loft just in time for Steven to arrive with coffee for our tasting! We arranged all the donuts and cut them up so everyone could have a try of each. The verdict? The donuts were spectacular! They tasted fresh-baked (a rarity these days) and you could also taste each of the flavors in each donut. For instance, in the donuts with the cranberry-orange jam, you could taste the donut itself, the glaze, the cranberry, and the orange! Really wonderful. Winners for me were the vanilla glazed with cranberry-jam filling, the coconut with coconut cream, raised with chocolate icing, and the creme brulee. The creme brulee donut we saved for last - it was so teeny and had a hard shell of burnt sugar on top, with a rich creamy filling. The whole thing was sweet but had a tint of "burned" flavor, just like the real deal.

Black coffee and donuts! Also note the SQUARE donuts!

Xani tapping the sugar shell on the creme brulee donut

Donuts as far as the eye could see

Check out that jam filling - soooo delicious

After we sat around in a sugar coma for a few hours, we got ready for another birthday-ish celebration we had all been SUPER excited about: we were going to a burlesque show!! We got all dolled up and headed to This is Burlesque, a burlesque revue that is sold out for almost every show!

The gals!

We had great seats, not more than 15 feet from the small stage. As we sipped on pink champagne and nibbled on some appetizers, the show began and the MC came on stage. The MC was a special surprise guest: Dave Attell! He's a pretty famous comedian who had a show on Comedy Central ("Insomniac") and Xani and I were pumped to see him. He is very crass and inappropriate, but still very funny. The show then began and it was really great - the girls were wonderful dancers and singers, and it wasn't sleazy at all. My favorite was the tap-dancing girl, but then again one of them did a routine en pointe which was pretty impressive. And then there was the tassel-twirling - hoo boy! She was very talented indeed.

The show was holiday-themed - can't you tell?

Dave Attell!

Overall, it was a great show and the champagne did flow. Also, Lauren and Ann bought a few little goodies (a bumper sticker and tassels, respectively), which provided us with hours of entertainment.


More toasting, and note Xani's fab hair clip with veil

What a wonderful day and night! Thankfully we got home in one piece and collapsed in BK to prepare for Day 3 - post coming up next!

Happy tassel twirling,

EP & X

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