Last week I was fortunate to get to preview the offerings at Tramezzini's first brick and mortar location on the Lower East Side. Tramezzini began their business as a vendor at the weekend food fair 'Smorgasburg' in Williamsburg and Prospect Park and was founded by brothers Filippo and Massimiliano Paccagnella, and their friend Davide Pedon, all hailing from Venice, Italy. For those of us not yet in the know, a tramezzino is an Italian sandwich made with soft, white bread with the crusts removed.
The month of May is Cheesecake Month at Breads Bakery. And the star of the show (for me anyway) is the Cheesecake Babka ($14.95). For May only, you can also get your hands on a lemon ricotta cheesecake and a pomegranate cheesecake in a jar. The classic New York cheesecake is available all year round. To say this Cheesecake Babka is amazing, is an understatement. This is without a doubt, one of the best things I have ever eaten in my whole life. Our office has a tradition of getting something sweet for everyone to enjoy on Fridays. So this particular Friday, we decided to get the Cheesecake Babka. I couldn't shut up about how good it was, and the others couldn't stop marveling at how exactly they do it. How does Breads Bakery make something so damn perfect, that it's the stuff of dreams?
It had been on my list for a while to try the 'Special Swirl' soft serve at Cha Cha Matcha. Every month they introduce a special flavor that is swirled with their matcha soft serve. This month's flavor is vegan Tangerine Dream. Located on Broome Street in Nolita, the cafe showcases the flavor of authentic Japanese Ceremonial matcha.
Cha Cha Matcha was founded by recent New York University graduates Matthew Morton and Conrad Sandelman. The two met while studying business management and hospitality and both had a fondness for matcha. Morton is the son of Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Peter Morton. They wanted to see if a matcha bar would be viable in New York so they traveled to Japan to visit small, independent tea farms and decided to partner with one in Uji, outside Kyoto. The goal was to create a matcha blend that was smooth, with more caffeine (to appeal to New Yorkers) and less bitterness. Since opening in April 2016, Cha Cha Matcha has enjoyed great success, with long lines extending out the door every weekend.
Ever since I moved to New York City back in 2012, I've been enjoying Levain's famous monster cookies. My go-to flavor is the Chocolate Walnut. But for whatever reason, I'd never tried the Oatmeal Raisin cookie ($4). Big mistake on my part! This cookie really holds its own, alongside the chocolate versions (there's also a Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and a Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip). The Oatmeal Raisin is rich and buttery, with the signature chewy center and is full of juicy raisins.
This Pie Is Nuts is a range of healthy pies and granola, which are free from preservatives and are nourishing for the body. I first tried these delectable pies at the Bryant Park Holiday Market and I got to meet the pie creator herself, Diana. The pies come cutely packaged as individual squares and the flavors are Key Lime, Chocolate Mousse, Purely Pumpkin, Coconut Cream and Sweet Potato & Ginger.
I chose a Key Lime pie and a Coconut Cream pie. The Key Lime was definitely my favorite, with its zesty tartness mixed with creaminess. Pie perfection. The Coconut Cream was really luscious, with flakes of unsweetened coconut adorning the top of the pie.
Larb Ubol, in Hell's Kitchen, serves up authentic Isan Thai food that will have you coming back for more. Isan, a region in northeast Thailand, dominates the food scene across the entire country despite containing only 30% of the population.
I ordered the Larb Moo (pork) salad ($9), which consists of finely ground pork, shallots, fresh mint, scallions, cilantro, chili powder and lime dressing. Larb is a Thai salad, although instead of a vegetable salad, it's a meat salad. If I'd never had a taste explosion before now, this dish would definitely cause one. Upon first bite, I exclaimed 'wow!' It was like being hit in the face with a fish. But in a really good way! The flavours in this dish really delight the senses: you have spicy, salty, sweet and sour all in the same plate. Make sure to order a side of sticky rice.
One of my co-workers used to live in Greenpoint and I remember her sharing a baked good with me one day, which had berries and tasted incredible. This was my first time trying anything from Ovenly, and I was so impressed I had to try more. I finally went there last weekend around 11am. I spied one last Blueberry Cornflake Muffin. It was mine! I have a thing for good berry muffins. Then, I thought, I can't come all the way here and just get a muffin. So I also chose a Salted Peanut Butter Cookie and a piece of Espresso Burnt Sugar Shortbread, A.K.A The Stumptown Shorty.
I had heard claims that Ovenly's Salted Peanut Butter Cookies were the best you could find anywhere. I had even read these claims in online reviews. But I'm not going to lie: when I first saw these cookies in person, I thought they looked too small and how could anything that small be the best? Well that old cliche, 'good things come in small packages', definitely applies here!