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Archive for August, 2006

On West Houston between Mercer and Greene Streets lies a fab new espresso bar named Aroma Espresso Bar.  Irene wanted to get a drink before she went off to pack for Berkley, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to try this place, so off we went. 

aroma
wordpress shrunketh my photo

I walked by one day and saw humungo signs advertising the new space during its construction so I came back and googled it.  It turns out that Aroma is Israeli owned, and man, do they know their stuff.  They drove Starbucks out of business in Israel!  And we all know about Max Brenner.  Mmm.  According to Haaretz, an Israeli news source, Aroma transported its own employees to train the New Yorkers.  They’ve also changed the names of some items that may seem to controversial for today’s political times.  Either way, they have some good stuff.  What was suppose to be an espresso break turned into a whole meal.  But I guess that’s not much of a surprise to you, right?  I can’t seem to find the Haaretz article anymore so you can all read about how Starbucks has been driven out of Israel.  They blame it on the lack of marketing, but some say it’s because they couldn’t compete with Aroma and other coffee chains there.   [blames lack of marketing]

I ordered an Aroma coffee, which came with chocolate and whipped cream.  The chocolate at the bottom wasn’t completely melted [they stick a chocolate bar in the bottom I thin] so it just tasted like hot chocolate by the end.  Irene got the mocha cappucino – it was very chocolatey.  It was very pretty with all the different layers though.  I like how they give you pieces of chocolate on the sides [I gave mine to Irene since I don’t really like to eat chocolate]. 

 aroma coffee mocha
aroma coffee & mocha cappucino

I wanted to try the Bureka special [I think it was previously called the Iraqi sandwich].  It’s a sandwich made with pylo dough stuffed with hard boiled eggs, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.  I had mistaken the cheese for sauce, but I remember ths sign saying cheese so I guess that’s what the melted stuff on top of the tomato is.  I knew it definitely wasn’t mayo.  Whoever thought to put eggs and pickles together is a genius.  Pickles?  good.  Eggs?  good.  Together? Yum!  I was pleasantly surprised.  I would definitely order this again.  It’s like eating a crossant-wich in the afternoon.  Irene ordered an omelet sandwich; it was an egg omelet, with pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo on whole wheat bread.  You get a choice of white bread, This sandwich was a bit harder to eat cuz the bread pieces were so big and the crusts were kind of hard.  I ripped off the bread and dipped it into my coffee- that wasn’t bad.  The ingredients in the sandwich with the big bread made it difficult to eat, but of course, this stuff never deters me.  The eggs were really fluffy- Irene thinks they used butter in their batter.  I would go with a switch in bread and more evenly distributed mayo.  Nonetheless, it was still a good sandwich.  Though, what’s up with only giving one piece of lettuce?

bureka   omelet

Since Irene was bringing an espresso machine to Berkley, and I just got one, we decided we should go buy us some espresso beans.  On our way to the shop, we saw a pink soon-to-be-opened place on St. Mark’s and went over to check it out.  I couldn’t get a full picture of the outside because there were other people standing in front taking pictures too.  Boo them.  The place, Bamn! is going to be a 24/7 vendor joint- meaning they have a whole bunch of food vendors in there and you go and get what you want and leave.  There’s no seating.  They plan to sell American/Asian finger foods for $1/$2 per serving.  Food vendors [with full meals] are actually very popular in Japan.  They even have them in food courts.  How do I know all this information on Bamn! even though it’s not opened yet?  Well, as Irene and I were standing outside chatting about how exciting this is, one of the guys who owns the place came out to give us an exclusive tour of the inside!  He wouldn’t let me take any pictures of the inside because they gave all the first-view rights to NYTimes and Time Out NY and such.  I was really disappointed when he said that it’s going to be American and some Asian finger foods.  I thought they were going to have a sit down area and have like chicken katsu or something.  When the guy said American finger food, I thought of chicken nuggets and Irene thought of fries.  Bleh.  They open next Tuesday for those of you who want to check it out.  I know I’ll be there. 

 ?  bamn

We spied something else on our way to the coffee bean shop.  In the window of the Black Hound pastry place, there was this lovely creature- chocolate teacup full of fresh berries. 

.

Finally, we reached our destination, the Porto Rico Importing Co.  Irene and I discovered this place one day on our way to sushi.  We finally have a chance to go in and not only look but to buy stuff!  It’s address is 40 1/2 e 8th.  How cute.  Their beans are pretty cheap too.  Irene and I both got half a pound of espresso and it was $3.50 each.  I got the Brazilian blend, which is suppose to be a lighter espresso and Irene got the French-Italian blend, which is suppose to be a lot stronger. 

coffee

Irene went home shortly after bean shopping and I went to get my nails done.  Jon and Daniel called me just as I finish and ask if I want dessert from Serendipity 3.  I wasn’t really in the mood for any of that stuff, but I went anyways. 

dipz

I didn’t know what I wanted so I ordered a fruit crepe with ice cream.  The crepe came with strawberries and bananas and tons of strawberry sauce.  The crepe was topped with vanilla ice cream.  I’m usually a fan of savory crepes over sweet crepes, but I do like my share of nutella and bananas.  The fruit weren’t bad but the sauce made things too sweet for me.  I had to neutralize flavors with the ice cream.  The vanilla wasn’t that great- I don’t remember where the vanilla was from but I know I’ve had it before.  I can’t explain it but it I guess it wasn’t vanilla-y enough for me.  The crepe was also burnt so I can say that I will not be having this any time soon- if ever again.  I normally order the Strawberry Fields Sundae but knew I couldn’t finish it.  The strawberry fields sundae has strawberry ice cream, cheesecake, real strawberries, with whipped cream.  Next time, I’ll stick with the classics.  The official staple, as we all know, is the frozen hot chocolate that Serendipity has even patented.  I think it just tastes like chocolate ice cream, but a lot of people seem to like it, ie. Daniel.  The two of them also got the Forbidden Broadway- it’s chocolate cake, fudge, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. 

 crepe frozen hot chocolate 
                                                   forbidden broadway

ack… what . to . do . with . self?  too . much . cho . co . late.

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I finally got to see the bestest this weekend!  I can’t believe she’s leaving in less than two weeks and I’ve only seen her a handful of times the entire summer!  Granted, I was eating my way through HK/China/Arizona for the first month of her being back, we still barely saw each other afterwards!  =[  The sadness.

Well, we made up for loss time by going shopping this Saturday.  What goes well with shopping?  Eating!  We stumbled across a Ben & Jerry Milkshake Experience [read: free milkshake tasting] in Union Square.  It was uber exciting.  They step up a little space in the theatre where Sandra Bernhard had her one woman show and gave out free samples from their new line of milkshakes.  There’s seating inside and there was a tropical island theme going on.  I even saw a woman giving out free massages in the Cherry Garcia side.  There were 3 flavors: Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

ben & jerry
enter here

The chocolate fudge brownie was too chocolatey for me and the cherry garcia would have been good if it didn’t have a cough syrup aftertaste to it [it would’ve tasted kinda yogurty], and the chunky monkey was best out of the three according to Ander and I.  The Chunky Monkey’s flavor wasn’t too strong and it was mostly banana tasting- but it was a light banana taste.  I think that the Chunky Monkey would actually go well with the Chocolate Fudge- someone should try it and let me know.  All the drinks were really thick so it didn’t really quench our thirst, but then again, milkshakes don’t generally quench thirsts. 

chocolate fudge cherry garcia 
                                                chunky monkey

I brought Ander to oggle and drool over Max Brenner’s new shop [the poor woman hasn’t even been to Ghiradelli!].  She’s a chocolate fan so I knew she’d appreciate Brenner’s works.  We made our way further downtown and I met up with Sherman to have a drink at Sambucca’s and to gossip a bit before we both had to run off for dinner.  Sambucca is a little cafe in Little Italy specializing in many home-made desserts.  There are better places in Little Italy like La Bella Ferrara’s across the street [not the one on Grand] but this happened to be Sherman’s place of choice and I didn’t really care since I was just getting a drink.  There’s outdoor seating in front of the cafe, which is where we always choose to sit and tourist watch. 

sambucca     sam
sambucca’s logo  //  the view from my seat

After a ton of shopping and indecision on dinner, Ander, Bak, and I stumbled upon a Cuban place on Thompson Street.  I was originally looking for Cuba, but didn’t recall where it was and Googl wasn’t helping too much.  I hate using my pebl for treo functions!  Anyhoo, we thought Cubana Cafe was a cute hole-in-the-wall type place to check out.  Little did we know, they were cash only!  I was cash-less and Ander had $3.  It was Bak to the rescue with his $60 dollars in cash.  Oh, they have an ATM machine next door for those of you who may need.  Since the place is a hole-in-the-wall, we expected hole-in-the-wall [ie. cheap] prices, which they supplied, so we knew we were okay with the $60.  The interior of the restaurant was very simple and reminded me of the inside of a grandmother’s Manhattan apartment.  Behind the door was a rod with a curtain that looked like it belonged on top of a bathtub.  You know, those rods that go all the way around a standalone tub.  The tablecloths were the odd plastic floral designs with a clear plastic covering on top. 

cubana cafe
3 guesses why the bestest is covering half her face

Their cuban sandwich was calling my name.  I don’t think I’ve had any since I was in West Palm, being served Cuban sandwiches by actual Cubans [whoa- that’s an entire year ago!].  Their cuban sandwiches are made with roast pork, sliced ham, swiss cheese, sliced pickle, chipotle mayo, with a side of chickpeas.  I generally don’t like meaty stuff but I lurve cuban sandwiches.  I definitely think the cheese and the pickles have a lot to do with it.  I don’t know how some people order the sandwiches without the pickles- the sourness gives it a good … sour kick?  It just makes the sandwich taste juicier to me.  I also love how the bread is smushed down and toasted so it fits into my mouth easily.  =D  In addition to the sandwich, I had to order regular food too.  Hey, the sandwich only costs $7.  I could afford a real entree!  I ordered the Palomilla pounded chicken breast marinated in garlic lime and onions served with rice and beans.  The chicken wasn’t very flavorful but it was good with whipped plaintains.  The rice and beans were okay, nothing special.  Ander got the pulled pork with whipped plaintains and roija wine pork gravy.   The whipped plantains were too sweet but the pork was good, although the roija wine pork gravy didn’t stand out.  I think I enjoy BBQ pulled pork more.  A liter of sangria only costs $15 so we just had to go for it.  It was good except they used a lot of orange peels instead of actual fruit which was very disappointing when Bak and I went to taste the wine soaked bits.  The only remarkable thing about this place is its cuban sandwiches.  I say take them to go and save yourself the tip.  They also didn’t bring us bread!  I was deprived of my favorite part of the meal!  We ordered it for “desert,” and they still didn’t bring it to us.  Boo Cubana Cafe for that.  The bill came to be just a bit under $50, btw.

inside cubana  inside cubana 2 
tablecloth  bill
  
  sangria  cuban sandwich
pulled pork  pounded chicken

Yesterday, Irene, Eva and I decided to celebrate our 10 year reunion.  This September would mark the beginning of 10 years of friendship.  Whoa.  Scary right?  We decided to go back to our JHS neighborhood [Stuyvesant Town] to celebrate at the original Ess-a-Bagel.  I drool just thinking about their homemade bagels with bluberry creamcheese.  As Eva and I got off the bus, we saw that a branch of the Belgian patisserie Petit Abeille has opened up on the corner.  They had outdoor seating and mimosas so we decided to scrape ess-a-bagel and have brunch at Petit Abeille.  I actually noticed another Petit Abeille being constructed along West 17th somewhere so I guess they’re branching out.  Petit Abeille is actually my sister and my place of choice to eat when we are waiting to get into the Metropolitan Pavillion for their sales.  I really do shop as much as I eat. 

essabagel
much better than H&H; no matter what anyone says

At the corner of 20th street and 1st avenue lies Petit Abeille.  We snagged a table outside and realized it was really humid out.  It might have been a better idea to get seating that was still inside the restaurant, but still facing the open-air. 

petit abeille  inside abeille

Irene and I ordered bellinis; strawberry and peach respectively.  The strawberries they used weren’t very sweet so the drink wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.  The peach bellini was absolute yummers though.  They have this brunch special for $16.95; you get an appetizer, an entree, and a Stella- the Belgain beer staple.  Since I ordered a bellini and couldn’t substitute the Stella for it, I decided a la carte would be best.  I ordered the Omelet Ardennaise, it came with onions, spinach, bacon, and mushrooms with a side of stoemp and mesclun.  The stoemp is belgain mashed potatoes.  it was sooo good.  I don’t know what they put in there, but I tasted onion- I am definitely a fan of stoemp.  The omelet was very hearty and had good flavors.  The dressing for the salad sucked but that’s okay- as long as they used mesclun, I can forgive them.  Irene got the waffle special with peaches and blueberries, topped with whipped cream.  It was sweeten whipped cream- so yummy.  I hate non-sweeten whipped cream.  The Firm actually makes some killer thick ass whipped cream.  I’ve learned to put that stuff on almost everything since I’ve started working here.  It definitely does not help the protruding tummy.  Anyways, the fruit was thankfully not canned and all fresh.  Waffle itself was good and soft.  Eva got french toast with fruit salad on the side.  Mmm… I lurve Challah bread.  It’s good even in non-french toast form.  A aprt of her toast was a bit burnt, so she refused to finish it.  The strawberry sauce was good, but I’m a bigger fan of syrup.  She also managed to finish all the fruit except for one piece of honeydew.

wafflse  french toast
omlet  omelet inside

After our fooding, Eva had to head uptown so Irene and I went downtown to Malia Mills because I was, and still am, in search of white bikini bottoms.  Little did I know, their bottoms cost $95!  AMERICAN dollars at that!  They may have the goods but they certainly do not have my business.  Pssh!  My top cost $19 and that’s already expensive to me!  Generally, I’m a pretty free spender- I see, I like, I buy as long as the price isn’t too ridiculous.  No wonder Malia Mills has to buzz customers to let them in- you walk away with one item, that’s like $100! 

On the way to Malia Mills, I decided I wanted ice cream- then it popped into my head- GELATO!  We got off the bus and hit up Ciao Bella– my favorite gelato place.  We ordered mango gelato with pear sorbet.  That’s a small sized cup Irene is holding!  I’ve had both before so I knew they were good.  Irene also gave them rave reviews.  It’s a really small shop- just a counter and barely enough space for 4 people to walk around inside comfortably.  There’s an itty bitty amount of seating outside by a tree, but otherwise, they’re more of a to-go type place, which is exactly what we did.  We walked and ate gelato on the Nolita streets. 

ciao bella    ciao bella

 Boo, Irene and Ander are leaving NYC!

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dinner with alvin

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