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Lobster Rolls, Tacos, Doughnuts, (and Ukeleles!) at the Brooklyn Flea…Oh My!

10 Jul

My Trusty Sidekick and I headed to the Brooklyn Flea Market yesterday to support a new friend, Barry, of Great Plains Handmade Instruments. During the week Barry is an amazing teacher, and on the weekends he makes ukeleles, other instruments, and beautiful odds and ends–often out of salvaged materials like old cigar boxes.

We were  blown away by Barry’s booth and by all the other vendors there–from hand carved furniture to vintage dresses, sunglasses, and shoes to hand painted pottery.  Best of all was the food! We feasted on heaping lobster rolls, succulent braised beef tacos, and intensely flavored doughnuts. Here are the highlights:

Lobster Roll from The Red Hook Lobster Pound

These lobster rolls from The Red Hook Lobster Pound were hands-down my favorite part of the day. Overflowing with giant hunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat that was nestled in a lightly toasted bun and barely dressed with lemon, mayo, and green onion, this is my kind of lobster roll! Just looking at the picture I’m beginning to drool. At $16, it was the most expensive food item we could find at the Flea, but with all that meat we thought it was a great value. I fully admit that I’ll be stalking their Big Red Lobster Food Truck for the rest of the summer.

Braised Beef Taco from Chonchos Tacos

Trusty raved about the well-seasoned, tender braised beef in this taco from the Chonchos Tacos stand, which was $4. Similar to Red Hook’s lobster roll, which made the lobster meat the star,  the braised beef in this taco didn’t have to compete with much–just a traditional presentation of onions and cilantro.  And with all the flavor in the meat itself, all it needed was a little bit of hot sauce!

The talented guys of Porchetta

As soon as we entered the flea, our dog Sam took us straight to Porchetta’s stand where the guys were nice enough to offer her a little sample of their amazing roasted pork. I wish I got a better picture of their delicious sandwich:

Porchetta's slow cooked roasted pork sandwich

The sandwich, $10, features “pork three ways”–fatty belly, crispy skin, lean loin–all roasted with garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen.  Meltingly soft and juicy, it was packed with flavor. While the lobster roll may have been the highlight of my day, this was the highlight of Sam’s.  She tried to talk us into setting up permanent camp underneath Porchetta’s table!

To beat the heat, we indulged in some crisp, cold, handmade sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works.  Formed in 2010, Brooklyn Soda Works is a labor of love by a young couple–an artist and a chemist–who make artisanal sodas that feature fresh, unconventional flavors like “Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn,” “Apple Ginger,” and “Dried Lemon, Juniper, and Hops.”

At the Flea we sampled two new flavors, “Raspberry Shiso,” and “Cucumber Sea Salt” :

The Cucumber Sea Salt was really surprising–it was especially thirst-quenching, and full of delicious cucumber flavor. The Raspberry soda, which was mixed with Shiso, a delicious Asian herb that can only be described as part mint-part basil, was also incredible.  The best part of both sodas was that there was hardly any sugar–they were truly refreshing and intensely flavorful. I was won over as a fan, and am eager to try more from Brooklyn Soda Works!

To finish off our trip to the Flea we treated ourselves to doughnuts from Bedford bakery Dough.

Dough's heavenly smelling booth

After our recent visit to the Doughnut Plant, the bar was set high.  But, Dough delivered. We tried a couple of flavors, including Chocolate Earl Gray, Blood Orange, and Hibiscus. My favorite was the Chocolate Earl Gray:

The Chocolate Earl Gray doughnut is INSANE.

The dough was soft and fluffy and the chocolate earl gray glaze was amazingly good–fragrant, flavorful, unusual, and not too sweet. (It got me excited to try this recipe to see how the flavor combination works in other sweet treats.) The Blood Orange flavor was another big hit:

Blood Orange doughnut

The sweet and tangy blood orange glaze was spectacular. Again, not too sweet, but it had a really concentrated blood orange flavor.

All in all, it was a fantastic trip to the Brooklyn Flea! Can’t wait to be back again!

Birthday Treat at the Doughnut Plant

26 Jun

The Doughnut Plant is no ordinary bakery. For starters, their hours are “6:30 AM-UNTIL DOUGHNUTS RUN OUT.” Famous for making doughnuts “the new cupcake” in New York, the Doughnut Plant has revitalized the art of homemade doughnuts with their creative, gourmet, and seasonal flavors. Case in point: the Crème Brûlée doughnut, one of the signature delicacies that put DP on the map.  The doughnut is hand-piped full of rich, vanilla cream, then topped with shiny, crackling, sugar that’s toasted with a chef’s blowtorched, just like an individual serving of the doughnut’s namesake dessert.

The famous chalkboard that's chalk full of DP's seasonal offerings.

Besides drawing attention for their immaginative flavors, Doughnut Plant has also earned accolades for their innovative preparation. Specifically, DP makes heavenly, trans-fat free doughnuts, going against the doughnut dogma that hydrogenated oils are absolutely essential to producing a light and airy doughnut.

The Doughnut Tray (all caps required) at the Doughnut Plant's tiny counter.

For my Trusty Sidekick’s birthday, we  ventured down to the Doughnut Plant (located at 379 Grand Street (Essex Street) on the Lower East Side) with a few friends to check out these claims for ourselves. And at $2.75/doughnut, we were able to try lots of flavors for not a lot of dough!

Trusty insisted on ordering the classic glazed doughnut (in order to establish a “baseline”). We also had to try one of DP’s signature square-shaped raspberry jelly-filled doughnuts. A Valrhona Chocolate doughnut and a Blueberry doughnut, two of DP’s current seasonal offerings, rounded out our order.

Blueberry and Glazed

The light, soft texture of each doughnut completely blew me away. It was as though cotton candy and a doughnut got together and had a baby doughnut–each bite literally melted in my mouth. And the taste of the dough itself is perfect–subtly sweet, but not overdone.

The sign of a well made doughnut: a soft and pillowy center.

The jelly-filled doughnut had a generous serving of home-made raspberry jelly, and the filling itself was packed with the sweet, slightly tart flavor of raspberries. The jelly was so intense and dark that Trusty and I wondered if maybe it was a mixture of both red and black raspberries?

The Blueberry was a big hit–the glaze was full of fresh, sweet blueberries that gave the doughnut great flavor.

Valrhona chocolate doughnut

The other doughnut that came out on top was the Valrhona Chocolate. I’ve never tried Valrhona chocolate truffles, but this doughnut made me want to! The flavor of the thick chocolate glaze was rich and intense–this was not your ordinary chocolate-glazed doughnut.

Can’t wait to go back and try more flavors SOON!

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bacon Crème Anglaise from NYC’s Famous Dessert Truck!

26 Aug

Spotting it there, parked at the curb, was a little like spotting a celebrity. Since finding out about the Dessert Truck, New York City’s cult foodie favorite, on the Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay I’ve been wishing and hoping for the chance to see if their chocolate bread pudding tastes as magical in real life as it looks on tv.

If you haven’t heard of the Dessert Truck, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Amazing idea, right? In my opinion, the truck’s founders, Jerome Chang (formerly the pastry sous chef at Le Cirque), and Columbia business school student Chris Chen, are scholars and gentlemen for making gourmet desserts mobile. Remember the warm fuzzy feeling you felt as a kid on Christmas Eve, knowing that Santa was out there somewhere in his sleigh, beginning to make his deliveries? That’s sort of how I think of the Dessert Truck, somewhere out there in New York City, bringing delicious $6 desserts to those lucky girls and boys who happen to be walking by.

If you don't have room in your tummy when you happen upon the Dessert Truck, you can get it to-go, like I did!

Tonight, that lucky girl was ME! I ordered DT’s famous chocolate bread pudding topped with bacon crème anglaise (if you don’t like bacon, you can get it with vanilla crème anglaise).


I thought that the bacon crème anglaise was pretty subtly flavored–it didn’t taste like pork, per say, just extra salty. It made me wish the chocolate flavor of the bread pudding was a little more intense–sweeter, maybe even a bit on the bitter side–in order to adequately play off the salty crème anglaise.

For presentation purposes, I flipped my pudding upside on a plate.

The pudding was extremely smooth and custardy. I know from watching the Dessert Truck’s Throwdown episode that they soak their bread pudding overnight to make the bread extra rich and creamy–when you take a bite, you can definitely taste and feel this–the pudding truly has a soft, pudding-y mouth feel.

I actually wish that the texture was a little more bready–I couldn’t tell the difference between the egg custard and the pieces of bread, and I actually like being able to distinguish between the two. Speaking of the pudding’s egg custard, there was a lot of it–too much. Check out this side view of the bread pudding–you can see that the Dessert Truck doesn’t use much bread–most of it (the entire top layer) was actually only egg custard, without any pieces of bread.  Bread pudding is supposed to be just that–bread pudding–so I have to say that I enjoyed the inside center best, where there was the best bread + custard ratio.

I hope that the Dessert Truck isn't skimping on bread to save some dough.

So, what’s my final review? I have to say I was a little disappointed with my Dessert Truck experience. But, you can’t ever give up on Santa, and I won’t give up my faith in the Dessert Truck. That said, if you feel the way I do about bread pudding I’d definitely recommend trying something else–maybe their molten chocolate cake with sea salted pistachios. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

Until next time, Dessert Truck. Until next time.

Just because I was a tad disappointed doesn't mean my bread pudding didn't disappear...