Very Bad Blogging

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In my struggle effort to reach the coveted title of “semi-functioning adult,” I realized I’ve fallen into this hole of forgetting to carve out time for food adventures. Neglecting the blog and all of the wonderful things there are to eat in this world is the last thing I want to be doing, so I offer you some notes on three Manhattan spots that have taken the internet by storm. Let’s raise our desserts to making time to do what you love.


Milk & Cream Cereal BarLittle Italy

My old roommate and I actually stumbled upon Milk & Cream by accident, on a gray Saturday afternoon in May. It plays upon the success of Momofuku’s infamous and ever Instagram-worthy cereal milk ice cream, but on a major sugar high. If you go traditional, you’ll be allowed one cereal choice to blend into your ice cream and one topping, all in a cup or in a The Konery cone (As a heads up, the Birthday Cake Konery cone is pretty but is not a good choice.) If you’re fancier, go for a Signature Blend. No worries about the size of the line, the staff is totally on it!

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Personal fav: Vanilla ice cream with Cinnamon Toast Crunch blended in, topped with chocolate chips *drools*.


DOGreenwich Village

DO now has adorable storefront Greenwich Village, after churning out edible, egg-less cookie dough from a kitchen in Kips Bay for quite a few years.

It’s sugary, creative, and actually feels kind of naughty… like you should be eating all of whatever you order before whomever used to bake cookies with you comes back to scold you for sticking your fingers in the raw dough and give you a lecture on the dangers of eating uncooked eggs. However, just like back in the day, one scoop is probably all you need, even without the raw eggs; it’s very dense. Prepare yourself for a minor food comatose shortly following.


EgglooChinatown

When my friend Kendra comes to town, all we do is eat. So when she told me she wanted to find Eggloo, I knew it was going to be good.

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And it was. It’s not fancy, just fun. You have your choice of bubble waffle and your choice of ice cream. Oh, and your topping limit is uncapped. Smother your whole life in mini M & M’s and chocolate Pocky while you can.

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5 Best Things I Ate: Ireland

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I finally made it to Ireland, and the whole fam was there too! Shoutout to them for helping me narrow our Irish culinary endeavors to these top five.


Sticky Toffee Pudding

Where to find: F.X. Buckley, Dublin, Ireland

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My family purchased this masterpiece to mark the commencement of our Irish adventure. A caramel-drowned piece of homemade Irish brown bread with homemade whipped cream set the bar very, very high for any dessert we ate in the following days.

Spoiler: we ate a lot of dessert. This was unbeatable.


Bailey’s Fudge

Where to find: Somewhere on the Ring of Kerry

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This might seem weird, but a man named Fi has quite literally has set up a tiny fudge shop out of his car. He’s parked at a lookout point right where all of the coach buses stop for pictures, so you’ll have a higher chance of finding him if you’re traveling with a tour. It’s two euro for a glorious bag of goodness, and you are permitted to sample (Both before making your choice, and after…). While all four flavors are homemade and wonderful, the Bailey’s (bottom right-hand corner of the second image) is the winner.


Boxty

Where to find: Bricin, Killarney, Ireland

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Meat has been folded into a giant potato pancake and my life with never be the same.

Bricin specializes in traditional Boxty. Filling options include lamb, chicken or veggies, and sometimes beef stroganoff as a special.  My picture immortalized one of the last plates before they ran out of beef stroganoff for the night, so get your paws on it while you can.


Shepherd’s Pie 

Where to find: Murty Rabbit’s, Galway, Ireland

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I rarely find planned dinners on tours to be much to speak of, as it’s likely someone has narrowed the menu for you, eradicating some potential choices. But when there is a Shepherd’s pie situation, there’s basically no need to consider anything else anyway. Murty Rabbit’s version is best paired with a pint of Guinness.


Guinness

Where to find: Literally everywhere in Ireland

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Speaking of Guinness, your friend who never hesitates to mention how much better Guinness is in Ireland is totally on to something (Read: I am now that friend).

Delicious Traditions

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Hello, my name is Ilana, and I search high and low for food trucks wherever I go, even on the other side of the world.

I can’t fully take credit for this one though – this find was a recommendation (Shoutout to Contiki Trip Manager Shanna, this is all her doing!). Should you ever find yourself in Budapest, make sure to stop by Karavan.

Karavan is just steps from Szimpla Kert, the original Budapest ruins bar. It’s a small, permanent lot of about 12 – 15 food trucks serving up everything from vegan burgers to traditional Hungarian cuisine, and is also where you’d find me every single freaking day if I had anything to do with it.

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I wanted to try everything. For some odd reason, anything vegan calls my name even though I am not at all vegan, until I ran into another girl from my group who had traditional, hearty Hungarian goulash inside a giant loaf of sourdough bread sitting in front of her, and an elated expression on her face. I was sold. I had to have it.

My nonexistent Hungarian skills ended in me finding the Nyakleves truck and excitedly pointing at the picture of my desired meal, and then bouncing up and down on my toes like I’m eight until I could smell the paprika, meat and veggies. It wasn’t long before I was scraping the saturated bread off the inside of the massive bread bowl, attempting to fit every last morsel (It was one of the best things I ate on the trip!).

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While I ate like I’d never seen food before (Partially true – I’d never had goulash before this trip, and I never imagined it’d taste like that!) the remainder of the group scattered around the lot and then returned to the table we’d claimed with burgers, tacos, and chimney cakes, all of which we tested, approved, and then did some serious damage on.

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The Chimney Cake never stood a chance, to be honest….

No one needed to eat breakfast the next morning, and not one person was at all mad about it.


Karavan

Kazinczy utca 18

Budapest 1075, Hungary

TripAdvisor: Street Food Karavan

Weird Cravings

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Never in my whole life have I ever craved Israeli food.

When I visited Israel, I struggled to find things that weren’t resting on top of mountains of hummus, and I found myself picking raw tomatoes out of everything. I’m actually incredibly fussy about my food, which is not a trait of mine that I’m particularly proud of (but I did think the hotel in Jerusalem that gave me food poisoning was a good enough reason to fuss…).

Enter Budapest, a city with a cafe culture and an unexplained affinity for shawarma, which sparked an unexplained need for me to relive what I had once bought three years ago in the pouring rain from a too-tiny cart in Tzfat.

Except now I’m obnoxious and have a social media problem, so I found Mazel Tov, an Instagram-worthy cafe to fulfill my shawarma dreams.

How we got there, I literally have zero idea. My friend is some sort of insane mastermind in which she can take one look at a blurry, screenshotted Google map and walk you wherever you need to go. It’s a superpower.

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It was a million and ten degrees in the greenhouse-esque restaurant, so while fairy lights and funky wall decor are certainly a selling point, I started sweating immediately. Order water ASAP. Your body does eventually adjust.

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My shawarma was top notch. It was packed to the gills with crunchy chicken, which was a nice surprise, and was also probably the first fully edible chicken I’d seen in days (#carbs). There was some cucumber in there as well, and it was so proportionate ingredient-wise, I even tossed with some of the raw tomatoes (I know, right?). Not to mention those crispy fries (or chips) coated in all of the sea salt your heart could ever want, which can also be purchased alone as an appetizer.

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Hunger: Satisfied.

Nostalgia: Also satisfied.

Happiness: Off the charts.

Bizarre Hankering for Shawarma: Probably good… for now. It’s not as good anywhere in the US. But if this is a once every three years kind of deal, it’ll be the greatest excuse to make a trip back to Budapest.


Mazel Tov

Akacfa utca 47

Budapest 1073, Hungary

http://mazeltov.hu/

Twitter: @mazel_tov_bp

5 Best Things I Ate: Contiki’s Eastern Trail

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Starting a new series here on the blog, because just one must-have meal is boring. Here are the five best things I ate in Eastern Europe to kick it off:


Donuts

Where to find: Somewhere in Krakow, Poland

My friend and I quite literally purchased these from a random window in Krakow for the Polish equivalent of one American dollar. Mine was filled with Avocat cream, which airs on the side of a custard (like the best Boston cream donut you’ve ever had, times a billion). My friend’s was filled with rose marmalade. Rose is a common ingredient in many desserts, and if you can get past that it will taste exactly the way a rose smells, it is worth a try. Beware of filling explosions, and keep your treats away from the pigeons!


Goulash

Where to find: Nyakleves Soup Truck @ Karavan, Budapest, Hungary

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Goulash is a must in Hungary. While almost everywhere will tout some version of the traditional dish, the thick, hearty version at Nyakleves raises the bar and keeps it there. It’s jam packed with meat, veggies, and paprika, all inside a giant loaf of bread. It’s like a hug for your stomach and your happy traveler heart. Whatever you do, do not miss out on it.


Bled Cream Cake

Where to find: Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled is very proud of their iconic, simple, light vanilla cream cake. It can be purchased at any of the little cafes in town. Enjoy with a coffee, some friends, and a view.


Pasta in a Box

Where to find: Dal Moro’s, Venice, Italy

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I can promise it will be very, very worth however long you’ve been lost for trying to find it (Getting lost is part of the fun!). Dal Moro’s is quality, authentic pasta, with any sauce you want and any decorations you want (Give me ALL the parmesan!) boxed up to-go in a little container. Sheer spaghetti perfection.


Gelato

Where to find: Suso Gelatoteca, Venice, Italy

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Another hidden Venetian gem, and that’s not a pun – Suso lives on a street where the next street over has the same name but doesn’t connect. Confusing, I know… the dark chocolate gelato should compensate for any frustration. Pair it with Mint Chocolate Chip or Stracciatella. Four euro for two scoops. Eat after Dal Moro’s and before (happily) rolling yourself to back to the mainland.

There’s More To This

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Like sushi rolls, restaurants are even better with something special inside.

I don’t actually eat real sushi… yet. I’m still getting past the fact that most things that are raw are also slimy which is proving to be rather difficult. I can, however, now eat a piece or two of yellowtail sashimi and hold it together, which is a great improvement from immediately gagging on salmon roe (This is still a thing. However, I’m just accepting it because my sister, a true sushi lover, has the same reaction to such an ingredient). I now also exercise zero restraint on California rolls, anything with fruit inside, tempura things, and salmon teriyaki.

Salmon teriyaki is the real MVP. Moving on before a massive tangent happens…

While I might not be fully qualified to weigh in on the cuisine, don’t count me out just yet. A place’s overall vibe is just as, if not more, important. And as far as vibes go, Shokudo is where it’s at.

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It’s a neat and tidy little place with some funk. There’s a solid playlist of pop hits everyone genuinely loves, with a strong emphasis on the new and improved Justin Bieber, and none of that super repetitive junk. The menu is not overwhelming, and even has a few things for those of us who don’t prefer our fish still swimming.

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Delicious Miso action for starters…

I went the bento box route because I secretly wanted a taste of everything anyway, while my sister went for a modified poke bowl (pictured below). Shokudo took what has become a very trendy (and usually overpriced) dish and dialed it back a little, letting simplicity shine through. It’s true testament to the whole experience. My compartmentalized array of little delicacies was nothing to scoff at either.

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And now you’ve gotten all the way to end of my first food post in a very, very long time and I haven’t even clarified what makes Shokudo so special. The building that houses Shokudo actually has quite the history; my grandparents used to own it. The bottom floor was once my grandfather’s pharmacy. Places with remaining bits of New York City history are becoming fewer and farther between. If you take a seat and look up, you’ll notice there are beams running across the ceiling. They are one of the only remaining original elements of the space. Everything else has been fully transformed.

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Even so, Shokudo is a little oasis amongst all of the Hell’s Kitchen movement. I think even my grandfather, who was one tough cookie, would have given it his stamp of approval; his granddaughters certainly did!


Shokudo

658 9th Ave (Corner of 46th St)
New York, NY 10036

http://www.shokudonyc.com/

Best In Snow

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Rooftops aren’t just for sweltering August days anymore.

After Saturday brunch at The Crooked Knife on 30th Street (I tried to write a whole blog post on the experience, but I have to say I struggled. The place was real hipster but was nothing outstanding, and is likely best with a very specific crowd. Anyways, back to the good stuff…) 230 Fifth seemed like the only reasonable after-party… at 5:30 PM. Never too early?

The entrance, which looks at the Flatiron Building, is nothing too extravagant for a bar that is actually a rather famous event space, and therefore my preconceived notions slowly melted away.

It’s free to take an elevator ride to the top. The inside portion of the bar is a cross between a sports bar and a very luxury club, but the outside is what really seals the deal. If you still use Facebook, you’ve likely seen the viral video about the bar in NYC with igloos on the roof. This is that bar!

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The igloos are hard to come by. You’ll likely have to make friends with whomever is already zipped inside, or you need to already be a large enough group to take over an entire one and scare other visitors away. They are comfortably warm, seat about 12 – 14 people, and each is a different color, which makes finding your way back easier (Ours was red!).

The outdoor bar sort of resembles a line of drive-through windows. It’s very expensive. However, I purchased a Hot Chocolate spiked with Bailey’s, and quickly ignored how much I ended up paying for it because it was just so. damn. good (I feel the same way about Irish cream as I do about chorizo. If it’s there, I must have it, because everything tastes better with it. Kahlua Hot Chocolate is also an option at 230 Fifth, but choose wisely. I’m rambling… sorry… ).

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We were very pleased with ourselves!

And if hot chocolate doesn’t quite sell you on a 230 Fifth visit, perhaps this will:

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Now, go ahead and cross “standing inside a snow-globe” off your bucket list.

Nothing beats a snowy, million-dollar view.


230 Fifth Rooftop Garden Bar & Restaurant

230 5th Ave

New York, NY 10001

http://www.230-fifth.com/

Rhode Island Gems

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New England in the fall. Ask anyone who’s lived there, and they’ll probably tell you that’s what they love most about the area (or they’ll tell you it’s the only thing they love about the area, but that’s beside the point..).

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Providence is not your average city; there are no Starbucks on every corner to pee in if the need arises. That’s one of the top things I adore about it. There are few cities in this world in which commercialization does not reign supreme. Instead, my friend and I spent the weekend exploring, eating, and stomping through the leaves.

My friend took me to Wickenden Street for a day. Wickenden is more of a small-town shopping street than a big city avenue, but it is home to a spot for afternoon tea, a place that does pancakes at all hours, and a three-floor thrift store. See why it’s perfect?

Nostalgia is a massive antique store with zero rhyme or reason to their arrangements, departments, or merchandise. It’s an ideal hodgepodge of everything with just a sprinkle of Boston pride in case you’ve forgotten where you are (You’ll find occasional Boston Bruins stuff). It reminded me of Uncommon Objects on South Congress in Austin. While we didn’t purchase anything, we were happily lost inside for about three hours poking through everything.

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All the fun warrants a meal. We went to The Duck & Bunny. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. It could’ve aired on the side of snooty, or it could’ve been a real rare find. The other guests were snooty, actually. But putting that aside, the food is 400% worth it.

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The “snuggery” serves a full menu. We started with savory crepes; mine was a ham/cheese/mustard sort of situation. But like, the world’s most outstanding honey mustard. It just begged to be devoured shamelessly.

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From there we moved to cupcakes. I say you can gauge how good a place’s cupcakes are by ordering a classic, which is how I’ve earned my title of “That Annoying Food Blogger Friend,” to which I say you should still get a Red Velvet at The Duck & Bunny because it will be unforgettable. The cake and the ultra-sugary icing quite literally melt in your mouth. My friend (who went Chocolate Mocha) concurs, to give you some further perspective. Because Red Velvet is simply just another cake flavor dyed red, it usually isn’t very unique, but at The Duck & Bunny it really is in a category of its own.

And while all that’s fine and dandy (That’s a new verbiage situation for me, OK sure, let’s roll with it…), the only thing that makes it even better is a buddy who will join you in intentionally and ruthlessly destroying neat leaf piles or eating for 95% of the day.  That’s one of my mine below. We’ve been friends since we were four years old. If you were wondering: yes, we are secretly the same person, and yes, it is absolutely adorable.

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Many more adventures coming soon!

Mad for Molly’s

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I believe we’re at a point in our relationship in which I can introduce you to my first true love; its time we had a serious talk about Molly’s Cupcakes.

Molly’s came into my life when I moved to New York as a freshmen at university. My cousin Jamie took me there in her quest to properly introduce me to the city (She succeeded. Some of my most favorite places in Manhattan are ones we’ve visited together!). Now, I take literally everyone to Molly’s. Friends, family, visitors from out of state or other countries… I even send random people there if they look lost on the street.

Why so great, you ask? It’s a West Village cupcake shop, just on the outskirts of Soho, right before you hit all the NYU madness. There’s only one in the whole entirety of New York (and a handful in the midwest United States, but I digress).

Most of their cupcakes are filled, meaning that if you stab right through the top of one with a fork, something delicious will ooze out all over the place. What they’re filled with all depends on what you get. There are endless options stuffed with cream, Nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, fruit preserve, icing, and even cake batter or “raw” cookie dough.

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It’s literally dripping cake batter. 

There are a few seats along the counter that are actually playground swings, and the rest of the room is reminiscent of elementary school. It’s complete with board games and card games for you to play with, like the ones you weren’t allowed to play with unless it was recess. They’re all yours to enjoy here!

I’d highly recommend that those games are best paired with a Birthday Cake or Boston Cream cupcake, and maybe a cappuccino in a mug the size of your face… but you’ll just have to meet Molly’s and see how easy it is to unconditionally adore it.


Molly’s Cupcakes

228 Bleecker St.

New York, NY 10014

http://www.mollyscupcakes.com/

Goin’ Up on a Thursday

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I’ve honestly tried to get into Thursday Kitchen three separate times.

I saw it first on The Infatuation, which is my favorite website for unique places to try that aren’t totally out-of-control expensive. They’ve even got an app, which works wonders in a pinch (I will admit to using it when restaurants I chose fall through, which happens more than I’d like to admit…)

They reviewed it, it took one read of the post for my one-track mind to become entirely enthralled by the Korean fushion menu, and then I failed to make a visit work each time until my third try – a rainy Thursday evening. We’ve really redefined “third times the charm” here, people.

You must start with the alcoholic Capri suns. Thursday Kitchen has gained a lot of press for these, and they’re positively sinful. Like, sinful to the point of absolutely do not leave without ordering one but once you do, probably just stay seated for a while. The lemon one wins the gold medal.

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Lemon & Strawberry drinks!

The staff suggests 4-6 of their plates for two people; we ended up with 6. The Angry Potatoes are a great start. They aren’t too heavy and will cushion the punch from the drinks. I’d also recommend the Korean fried chicken. It’s a classic done right. You really cannot go wrong with it: a sweet, sticky sauce, sesame seeds, fried popcorn-sized chicken. Honestly, I’m already reminiscing.

The Hwe Soba came highly recommended. I wasn’t in love with the raw tuna, as I’m still learning to conquer the sashimi-ish food group. It was also very spicy, with a big hit off the back end of every bite, even the noodles. It’s a bit of a struggle unless you’re really into that sort of thing. I had to abort mission. My friend was a huge fan though.

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Clearly, we dove right in…

On the other hand, the salmon was one of the best things we tried. The salmon is cooked with beets, making it appear raw. It’s fully cooked so perfectly that it isn’t even fishy. Only four pieces per dish though, so share nicely if you can.

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The Korean gnocchi was my personal favorite. A lot of other reviews gave this dish a thumbs down. Understandably, after some heat from the other dishes, the sauce will end up tasting the same. The fix is to take the garlic aioli and spread it out over the gnocchi, which takes the dish from “meh” to marvelous. It’s very garlicky, but it doesn’t burn. The texturized pieces are cauliflower, and those little suckers will run from your chopsticks like nobody’s business. Chase them down and eat those too.

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And of course for dessert, the Popcorn Ice Cream was a unanimous, immediate decision. In addition to all of its caramel corn glory, it really takes the heat off after the soba and the gnocchi.

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I promise that even if you end up waiting outside on East 9th St., it is a stellar place to try (Forewarning: Thursday Kitchen is a snuggly, small place, but they do not take reservations!) Just make one of those drinks the first thing you order as your well-deserved reward.


Thursday Kitchen

424 E 9th St

New York, NY 10009

https://thursdaykitchennyc.com/