Tag Archives: Chikalicious Dessert Bar

Checking Out the Cheesecake

It’s strange writing a conclusion for cheesecake because I feel like I already did that. A few months back, I was asked to write an article for Gothamist about the best cheesecakes in the city. It sped up my journey and I kind of feel like I can now send people to that article when asking where the best is in the city.

But I still should have some sort of conclusion on this site. And so here it is.

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Category: Cheesecake

Come back every Wednesday for another funny, informative video documenting my inept food adventures.

Have you ever wondered what I do all day? The answer is simple: I walk and I eat.

One of the tour companies I work for having documented their guides in their neighborhoods talking about their favorite places. Since I’m a rambling man, I decided to have the camera follow me through a typical day in Lower Manhattan. We hit my favorite coffee shop, some great dim sum, a very cheap beer store, and two dessert spots. Just another typical day in the life.


Category: Video

My search for the best cheesecake in New York continues….

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR, 203 East 10th Street (between First and Second Avenue), East Village

The big argument about cheesecake is whether you like dense, heavy New York-style or light and creamy Italian style. The debate is solved at Chikalicious with a style all its own.

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Category: Cheesecake

Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.

NUMBER 30: CHOCOLATE SNOWBALLS at ZUCKER BAKERY

Why are balls so fun to eat? Don’t answer that! I’m thinking you can fit lots of flavor and texture into a ball-shaped food item. Crisp and crunchy on the outside with a soft and tender interior is always a pleasant texture whether the ball is sweet or savory.

The pastries at Zucker Bakery, a new Israeli inspired bakery in the East Village, are mostly bite-sized cookies for $1. There are lots of date and spice cookies, including rugelach and alfajhores, but I fell in love with the orbs called chocolate snowballs. Laced with just a touch of espresso, these cakey fudge bombs will wake you right up. Your choice of shredded coconut or colored sprinkles are the perfect garnish for these sweet balls. Price: $1

ZUCKER BAKERY
433 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A),
East Village
(646) 559-8425
zuckerbakery.com

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I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

NUMBER 90: BABY JESUS CAKE at VESTA

Sweet baby Jesus, this cake is good! Vesta is a modern pizza trattoria on the outskirts of Astoria. It’s not close enough to my apartment to warrant regular visits, but I had been hearing about their thin crust pizzas and thought they were close enough to take the chance.

While the pizzas were good, it was the grand finale that I’ve been thinking about since. This slice of ridiculously moist date cake is drowned in a sweet, rich caramel sauce. The side of creme fraiche cuts the dark sweetness, giving it balance.  It’s truly a holy experience!

VESTA
21-02 30th Avenue (at 21st Street)
(718) 545-5550
Astoria, Queens
vestavino.com

NUMBER 89: FROZEN BANANA from NANA’S

The Brooklyn Flea has become so popular with food eater and entrepreneurs, that Smorgasburg was born to host an entire market just for eating and selling foodstuffs.

One of the food vendors who’ve gotten the most press and compliments are Nana’s. This little stand is the brainchild of Cecile Dyer from the gluttonous and delicious Pies n Thighs. It’s very simple, but mighty tasty. She takes a whole frozen banana on a stick and dips it into quickly hardening chocolate, then rolls it in any number of rotating toppings.

I chose a very satisfying mix of textures and flavors – coconut and almonds. It was salty, sweet, chocolatey, and refreshing. Lots of flavors, without complicating the simplicity of a perfect banana. Smorgasburg will be around for three more weeks, but Nana’s is finished for the season. Keep an eye out once the weather gets warmer again. Price: $5 (with one topping)

NANA’S
Twitter: @Yummy_Nanas

NUMBER 88: TIRAMISU at OSTERIA MORINI

I have a weakness for tiramisu. Whenever I finish a red sauce pasta meal, my body begins to crave that boozy, creamy coffee flavor. In my years of eating at Italian restaurants, I’ve had many different versions of this layered dessert – some good, some not so good. But the best I’ve ever tasted happened this year at Michael White’s pasta empire, Osteria Morini.

The version of the dessert here didn’t look like any I had been served before. It was presented beautifully, but frankly, it looked as if it was going to be dry or overly bready. Somehow the layer of espresso cream (or mousse), the moist ladyfingers, the decadent mascarpone, and the hint of cognac worked like magic. I’ve now officially been ruined with tiramisu. I can’t imagine it getting better anywhere else. Price: $11

OSTERIA MORINI
218 Lafayette Street (between Kenmare Street and Spring Street)
(212) 965-8777
Soho
osteriamorini.com/

NUMBER 87: CUPCAKES from ROBICELLI’S

It’s amazing that the cupcake phenomenon is still sweeping the nation. I think may New Yorkers are sort of over it and are trying to look for some new dessert item (pie? macarons?) to replace cupcake fever. But if all the cupcake shops in the city were making specimens as innovative and delicious as Robicelli’s, I think then the cupcake revolution would be justified.

Robicelli’s has a permanent spot at the Dekalb Market, but husband and wife team Matt and Allison also sell their cupcakes at many other locations (including some holiday pop-up’s) throughout the city. I finally purchased some at the now-closed Madison Square Eats. The flavors (which constantly change based on season) were so tempting that I couldn’t leave without purchasing three cupcakes.

These were a perfect, modest size and I was relieved that the cake was super moist and the frosting was the right balance of sweetness. I got to sample the Bea Arthur (black coffee cake, cheesecake buttercream, espresso ganache), the Pumpkin Spice Latte (pumpkin cake, espresso mascarpone frosting, spiced chocolate covered espresso beans), and the Sweet Potato Pie (sweet potato cake, vanilla buttercream, bourbon glazed pecans).

They announce their flavors daily on their Twitter page and I drool just reading them every morning. There’s a list of all their flavors on their website and I seriously want to try every last one of them, but especially the provocative Chicken ‘n’ Waffles (yes, with a real chicken garnish). Price: $3-$5

ROBICELLI’S CUPCAKES
Dekalb Market,
332 Flatbush Avenue (at Willoughby Street)
(917)509-6048
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn
robicellis.tumblr.com

NUMBER 86: ECLAIR COOKIE at CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT CLUB

I have sung the praises of Chikalicious before on this site. The Dessert Bar might be my favorite place in the entire city, as it gives a unique, delicious culinary experience. I love sending visitors to the city here for a three course dessert.

But across the street, they offer more affordable pastries and cookies to go at the Dessert Club. It’s hard for me to go into the shop and not order their Espresso Ice Shot (which made my 100 Best list last year), but this year I brought a tour group in to taste their much more shareable eclair cookies. And I fell in love myself.

These are a hybrid between cream puff and eclair. The pastry shell is a little crunchier than most and it gives way to a rich vanilla pudding (chocolate if you choose the chocolate variety). The entire thing is dusted with powdered sugar which gives it a sweet aromatic quality. If I could, I’d breathe in sugar all day long. Price: $4.95

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR
204 East 10th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenue)
East Village
(212) 475-0929
dessertclubnyc.com

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

15. AMBROSIA COOKIE at RUBYZAAR

I don’t know about you but I’m not a huge fan of savory cookies. Aren’t cookies by definition supposed to be sweet? Well, what if I could told you that you could have all the usual vanilla, buttery sweetness with hints of savory fruits and spices? All for the price of one cookie?

Rubyzaar is a pop-up stand at the Union Square Holiday Market that specializes in fair-trade clothing and crafts from around the world. Strangely enough they also sell their own cookies (baked in Brooklyn) that were inspired by the flavors of the regions that their goods come from. They have a wide range of interesting flavors from Kashmir (earl grey tea, smoked almonds, chocolate) to Hoi An (Vietnamese coffee, cream, dark chocolate) to Savannah (sun-dried peach, pecans, chocolate).

The first one I tried was the one that made me fall in love with this concept. It’s called the Ambrosia and it features fig, dried pear, sage, roasted walnut, and creamed honey. It was an unusual mix of sweet and savory with an herbal note, lots of creamy and crunchy textures, and a delicious surprise.

The cookies are only available until Christmas Eve, so I would hurry up and get as many as you can. Otherwise, you may have to wait until next year. Price: $2

RUBYZAAR
Union Square Holiday Market, Booth #33
Union Square East (across from 15th Street)
rubyzaar.com

14. WARM CHOCOLATE TART WITH PINK PEPPERCORN ICE CREAM at CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR

My first encounter with pink peppercorns was at a restaurant I used to work at called Cafe Joul. The chef would often make a citrusy butter sauce containing the little pink guys. I recognized all the other flavors in the sauce, but the crunchy floral berries (not actual peppers) were a taste I had never experienced before. And I loved it.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that my favorite spot in all the city, Chikalicious Dessert Bar, makes pink peppercorn ice cream. I learned about it years ago, but I’m constantly coming back to discover pastry chef Chika’s inventive three-course desserts. Fortunately for me, one of her two never changing menu items is the chocolate tart with the pink peppercorn ice cream

And the tart itself, like everything else here, is delectable. It’s refined and full of balanced flavors and textures. The pastry containing the chocolate is crisp, light and buttery. The chocolate inside is decadent but not too rich. The red wine sauce adds some nice complex acidity and the pink peppercorn ice cream puts the whole thing over the edge.

I’d come in just for a cone of the ice cream (they don’t offer cones). And I love it so much I even tried to re-create it at home. Which worked, but not nearly as well as when Chika creates it. Price: Part of the $14 Prix-Fixe

CHIKALICIOUS DESSERT BAR
203 East 10th Street (between First and Second Avenue)
East Village
(212) 995-9511
chikalicious.com

Photo Courtesy of: commons.wikimedia.org

13. CHOCOLATE STOUT SYLLABUB at THE BRESLIN

“What the hell is a syllabub?” we asked our bartender. Strangely enough, he didn’t know and had to ask the other bartender. Either this guy was new or The Breslin has created a dessert so unique that it baffles even the staff.

Upon looking it up on my trust Iphone, I learned that a syllabub is an old traditional English dessert (The Breslin focuses on British pub food) that is made up of whipped milk or cream, sugar, and a touch of wine to curdle the liquid. I was still confused so I took the second bartender’s word when he said it was like a mousse.

I’m so glad we took the leap of faith because this was an amazing dessert. It was sort of reminiscent of a chocolate mousse and had a sweet, bitter flavor (probably from the beer) which worked perfectly together. The best part was the garnish on top. They looked like chocolate caviar but the menu called them bubbled caramel. They were these crunchy beads of sweetness. There was also a layer of white foam on top (creme fraiche?) that was caramelized or curdled or something. But it was also crunchy, reminiscent of creme brulee, and tasting vaguely of marshamallows.

Now I have an answer to my initial question. I’ll tell you what a syllabub is (besides an awkward thing to say): it’s pure deliciousness. Price: $9

THE BRESLIN
16 West 29th Street (between Broadway and Fifth Avenue)
Inside the Ace Hotel
Flatiron District
(212) 679-1939
thebreslin.com

12. COOKIES from DOWNTOWN COOKIE COMPANY

Downtown Cookie Company is an internet based company that makes cookies to order via their website or over the phone. They’ll ship anywhere in the U.S., but it’s also possible to pick up the cookies outside their commercial kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen.

I called the day before and the cookies were ready in less than 24 hours. You can order a dozen of any of their cookies or a variety box of three different types. It was a no-brainer for me, the guy who wants to try as much as possible.

It was incredibly exciting when the girl came down with my box of cookies. I handed her the $24 (I chose to go the exact cash route rather than give my credit card number over the phone) and she handed me box of cookies.

I literally couldn’t wait until I got home to try the cookies, so we cut open the box and undid the neatly presented bags that held the three different cookie varieties. The chocolate chip with walnuts was the first I tried. They were soft and chewy with the right amount of both chocolate chips and walnuts. Amazingly fresh. I’m not a big fan of raspberry jam cookies (they make me think of those lackluster butter cookie tins), but these were the real deal. The jam was clearly made from real preserved fruit and the almond cookie was buttery and had crispy pieces of almonds crushed around the edge. And the peanut butter cookie continued the deliciousness. They were rich and chewy, but not too much peanut butter (which tends to dry the cookies out for me). These were anything but dry.

The cookies all tasted homemade (I guess that’s obvious) and they were all so soft and fresh that I felt like they were made just for me. Wait a minute…

But the other amazing thing is that these cookies retained that fresh delicious sweet taste and softness when I continued eating them for days afterwards. They have four more cookie varieties (Ginger, Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip) and I’m afraid I’m going to have to find some special occasion to order another round. Price: $24 for a dozen

DOWNTOWN COOKIE COMPANY
(646) 486-3585
downtowncookieco.com

11. HAZELNUT DACQUOISE at THE MODERN

When I worked at The Modern, I would sometimes have to close the restaurant, which meant I’d be the last waiter there. And often, as any restaurant worker knows, there’s leftover food. So it would get thrown away or some lucky employee would get to it.

The hazelnut dacquoise was one that would be offered up for charity (meaning to me) and I would eventually have to resist because these little desserts were so darn addicting.

I would describe it as a little sandwich. It was a hazelnut wafer topped with milk chocolate chantilly (mousse) and layered between two chocolate slivers. It tasted like the most decadent, refined, delicious Kit Kat Bar you’d ever taste. I’m sure Pastry Chef Marc Aumont would love that I described it that way. But I mean it as the most sincerest compliment possible. Price: $11

THE MODERN
9 West 53rd Street (between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue)
Inside the Museum of Modern Art
Midtown West
(212) 333-1220
themodernnyc.com
Photo Courtesy of: thewanderingeater.com

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