Mad. Sq. Eats in New York City, a special correspondent post

Today I have a very special post for you from my very good friend Karyn who spent a lovely weekend in NYC not too long ago with her friend Sari. Karyn mentioned to me they would eat their way through a street food festival so I could not help but ask her if she would like to write a guest post as a special on location correspondent. Happily she agreed.

If you are a regular CEE reader you will remember Karyn in past posts such as when she made Dutch Baby Pancake with Peaches, she was a dinner guest during the luxurious dinner party for PFB, I picked vine leaves out of her backyard to make dolmades, she was here for the miracle fruit dropping trip and finally I did an interview about her Pastry Chef on the side career.

Without further ado, here is Karyn with a special report from NYC. Thanks and love you hun!

———————————

Every year, my friend Sari and I head to NYC for 4 days of adventure. This is the eighth year of this trip, which is based around shopping and eating. It seems that as the years advance that it’s really more about the food and yet we had never ventured into the world of street food – except for Sari having a NYC hot dog in year 2, but it was nothing memorable! This year we decided that it was the year to crack the street food scene and see what NYC has to offer. My research led me to the Urban Space NYC blog about a street food festival in its second year, and wouldn’t you know it, it was happening exactly when we would be in NYC! It was meant to be!

 

 

We planned on hitting the Mad. Sq. Eats festival the day we arrived in NYC, and basically were just waiting to get there and eat! It was a perfect day for an outside festival and there was a fantastic collection of restaurants participating.

We took a walk around the grounds to see what caught our fancy and decided that we should start in style at Red Hook Lobster Pound, with Lobster Macaroni. We placed our order and waited, mouths watering, as we watched our order come together. There were a few technical difficulties as the blow torch being used to melt the cheese on top ran dry during our order, but Emma, our hostess was very pleasant and it gave us a chance to explain that we were doing this blog. I took a picture of Emma and the way her arms came out, made her look kind of lobster like, don’t you think?

Finally, the blow torch was ready for action! It was great to watch it come together.

Et voila!

The noodles were very large macaroni noodles, the biggest we’d ever seen and WOW for 9$ we sure got our money’s worth in lobster! There were quite a few large chunks and I think we each got a claw! Definitely a great start although I would have preferred the cheese sauce to be a bit warmer, but fantastic street food otherwise!

We barely paused before searching for our next victim, deciding on Fatty Snack, which I had read about. They have a restaurant in their group, the Fatty Crab, and I was very excited to try their food. We decided on one order of pork buns, which were actually two little buns overflowing with wonderfully spiced pork for $6.

They were fantastic. I would go back for another one anytime but maybe not for a first date as it’s not the most elegant thing to eat!

That’s Sari in the pic, waiting for our buns. The man in the picture was wandering around the grounds trying to decide on what to eat and he approached Sari, asking about what to try and she gave him great feedback yet he continued to wander… I don’t remember what he finally ended up with, but there was something there for every palate. He looked a little overwhelmed with all the choices.

Sari was parched after this and decided on a beer from a place whose specialty was beer and chocolate. She had a Southern Tier Pumpking. I’m not too sure if the g in Pumpking was intentional or not, but I took a pic of the sign to prove that I can spell! They also had chocolate covered bacon caramel that I really wanted to try, however they were out of it and were only receiving more the next day.

 

Did you think we were done? Not even close! Next on the tour was a stop at Waffles & Dinges. Of course we needed to know what a Dinge is. Well, it’s a term that basically means “Things”. We ordered a waffle with Spekuloos! I was SO excited when I saw they had Spekuloos and they were even selling it! I showed some restraint and didn’t purchase as I would have had to carry it all day… oh yeah and I have a bottle at home.

We’re not sure what the guy in the pic above was eating, but boy did it look like he was enjoying it!

Our waffle: Spekuloos and fresh fruit, cut in two for us to share.

Ah… OK, after that was done we thought, OK, we’re ready for dessert! Sari had spotted the cannoli and wanted to try it, so we did. The man working there not only guessed that we were Canadian, but Montrealers! He was an expat, having left in 1984 and could pick out our accent!

The cannolis were $5 for 3 of them and we decided on Peanut butter, Kahlua and Salted Chocolate. I am not a cannoli fan and even less of a peanut butter fan so I tried the last two only. The Peanut butter cannoli is missing from the picture below – I think Sari was just too excited to try it! I didn’t care for the Kahlua one as it was very cheesy… and the Salted Chocolate tasted good but the shell was way too hard for a cannoli, but the chocolate and salt was a really nice combination.

OK, after this we were stuffed! It was a great festival and intro to street food. The door to street fare has been opened and is far from being closed. The only advice I would have to someone going to a festival like this is to go with someone that you can share with so you can try more things!

The Cannoli Debate

Wow, who would have thought The Daring Kitchen’s last baker’s challenge was going to become such a controversy! I have gotten lots of private and public feedback but the best has been an ongoing email conversation with Claudia, a member of my dinner group. She happens to have Italian blood in her veins.

The controversy is not so much about my cannoli or the recipe, but rather where is the best canolli in town, store bought that is. Here is what she wrote (printed with her permission):

“Saturday supper was spent around my mother-in-laws table with some very ‘pastry opinionated people’.
The favourite place for ‘cannoli’ sparked quite the stir.
Who knew these debates could be just as heated as politics…but wayyyy more amusing.
Some comments got louder than most…who thought the cannoli had to much in ratio of ricotta to cream…were they way too sweet or not enough…should there really be chocolate added…or just left natural…crust just not right…should shell be fried or baked…wow…what a science… the right balance of ingredients seems to make or break that poor little cannoli.

Do you see what you started;)))

My husband and I were keeling over of laughter when we realized how deep rooted peoples’ opinions of food selections really are.

All this to say…better to talk about food vs. where is the real estate market at…and forecasting the nest financial scam!!!

Anyhow, at the end we seemed to have finally come up with a short list that is manageable.

Unfortunately, a lot of some of the best pastry shops are found wayyyy in the east end of RDP where my brother-in-law specializes (tons of Italians there)…however I find that it may be too far to mention them here.

Therefore…drumb roll please…here are the addresses in some order of preference.

Boulangerie Patisserie Cristina
2945 boulevard de la Concorde Est, Laval (450) 664-3698
…I can definitely vouch for their lobster tails
…mmmm….did you ever have these?…they are devine!

Pasticceria Di Bella
5235 Rue Belanger, Montreal, (514) 728-4335

Boulangerie & Pâtisserie Napoleon
4579 rue Jarry E Saint-Léonard, (514) 728-9635
…also very good lobster tails…

Boulangerie Patisserie Concorde
608 boulevard de la Concorde O., Laval (450) 668-7853

Boulangerie NDG
5801 Chemin Upper-Lachine Montreal, (514) 481-4215

Pasticceria Alati-Caserta
277 Rue Dante, Montreal, (514) 271-3013
although slightly over rated…is still a viable choice”

Thank you Claudia for that list. Have you got another place to suggest?

Cannoli Heaven

When I read the December’s Baker’s Challenge I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I LOVE cannoli. I don’t just like them, I LOVE them. I do not indulge in them too often because I would weigh 400 pounds otherwise. And this may sound silly but I never really buy them in my home city of Montreal. Even weirder my favorite cannoli are found in Boston at Mike’s Pastry in Little Italy. I have been told that the best canolli in Montreal are at Alati Caserta in Little Italy but have not gone there yet‎.

sugar 044

But I soon realized before getting to heaven I would first have to pass through hell. I fear frying in oil and have no real experience in it. You’ll remember I almost started a fire on my last attempt with the chocolate wontons. And before that well I honestly cannot remember if I have attempted to fry anything really. But I found the courage and went out to by a frying thermometer.

Actually I decided to do half the recipe fried and the other have baked…just to see the difference. Before I go on let me tell you the November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose her Cannolo (Cannoli is plural) recipe by using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I had my friend Raquel over to participate in the preparation. If you want to make them you can find the full recipe here. The night before I drained my ricotta as per directed in cheese cloth with weights on it. I was surprised at how little liquid came out of it.

sugar 018

Then we made the dough and let it rest for a good 2 hours. During that time there was a lot of wine and we made the ricotta filling. I wanted to keep it simple so I only added a little orange zest and I ground some freshly baked chestnuts. We decided to make have plain and half chocolate.

sugar 019

Then the tough part. Rolling out the dough and cutting it. Wow that is tough dough. But we finally got though it. I did not want to purchase cannoli tubes so I bought manicoti pasta tubes and oiled them prior. Worked just fine. Got the oil going and threw in the first batch. I was slightly panicked. But you know what they came out not bad at all. They blistered nicely as described. I made them a bit smaller.

sugar 027

One got loose from the tube and fried up into a big puffy ball. Looks like a spaceship or a puffed fried pita lol.

sugar 029

Once they were cooled down we filled some zi plock bags, cut the end of, and stuffed the shells with the ricotta mix. Here is the result decorated with more chestnutssugar 038

The baked shells are really inferior in look and taste…still good but it’s totally worth the effort to fry them.

sugar 047

And finally the taste test. They were simply…heavenly!

Hugs and Biscuits,
Evelyne