Tag Archives: Hester Street Fair

The Vendys is just days away. Tickets are still available for purchase here. It’s seriously the greatest day of the year. In anticipation, I’m producing short videos on each of the nominated vendors. Here are four more nominees:

The GoGo Grill

Down at the southern tip of Manhattan, two friends decided to re-invent street food for any dietary restriction. The GoGo Grill always has a huge line at Bowling Green for their weekday lunches of salads, burgers, falafel, eggplant, and more. And everything is homemade, including the English muffins used for the sandwiches.


Zha Pan Asian

I already wrote about these amazing Asiancini (Asian rice balls) last week. But now meet the guys behind the concept. They’re inventive (and delicious food) has earned them a Market Vendor of the year nomination.

Dough

This is a bold statement, but I truly believe Fany Gerson and the crew at Dough are frying up the best doughnuts in the country. They’re large, yeasty, airy, and just incredible. I normally stay away from dough bombs, but these Dessert nominees are impossible to resist.

Shanghai Sogo

Benjamin Wang has worked at high end restaurants like Nobu before bringing his concept of fresh, restaurant-quality Asian tapas to the streets of New York. Shanghai Shogo turns out fresher food than you find at most restaurants. They’re a Rookie of the Year nominee.


Category: Video

Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

ZHÁ PAN ASIAN, Hester Street Fair, Lower East Side

My friend Steven Luw told me a while ago about a brilliant concept he had. Steve is a fellow food blogger and food truck enthusiast and wanted to open up a truck with this groundbreaking dish. That was well over a year ago now.

Well, fast forward through a lot of hard work, quitting his corporate job, a weekly pop-up at Zucker Bakery, and Steve is in business with his friend Heezy Lee. It’s taken me a while to actually get a chance to try their food at Hester Street Fair, but I can now say wholeheartedly that Steve was right. His idea was brilliant.

(more…)


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.

NUMBER 85. ROOT BEER FOAT COOKIE at RUBY ET VIOLETTE

I’m attracted to surprising flavors in surprising places. I can appreciate a good simple, well-prepared dish without any frills. But in truth, what excites me and leaves an impression are unexpected combinations and flavors that work well together that you wouldn’t expect.

Who has ever heard of  root beer float cookies? Well, besides anybody who’s been to the humble little cookie and ice cream shop, Ruby et Violette, which is hidden on a side street in Hell’s Kitchen.

They make incredibly soft and full-flavored cookies. And their flavors are always surprising.

I love the dark root beer float cookie which looks like it would be a dark chocolate flavor, but it’s rich and malty with the unmistakable root beer flavor. The big chunks of creamy white chocolate chip imparts the vanilla ice cream flavor. And you have a usually drinkable dessert in a solid cookie form. Willy Wonka can eat his heart out. Price: $2.50 (for one), 3 for $6

RUBY ET VIOLETTE
457 West 50th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenue)
Hell’s Kitchen
(718) 728-6250
rubyetviolette.com

84. CHINATOWN TEA PARTY at GUERILLA ICE CREAM

SADLY, GUERILLA ICE CREAM IS NOW CLOSED.

Guerilla Ice Cream is still a little elusive since they don’t have their own store or truck. They set up at festivals around the city and can almost always be found at Hester Street Fair (maybe not much longer as the weather gets colder). They were also nominated for a Vendy Award this year, so hopefully their visibility will allow them to settle down.

On July 4th, I tasted one of their speciality concoctions called Chinatown Tea Party (all their sundaes are strangely named after political movements and feature really surprising flavors and toppings).

Here I got Steel Buddha Tea Sorbet topped with Chinese walnut cookies and dragonfruit and it was amazing. The sorbet had some rich, earthy tea flavors that was refreshing and the texture of the sweet crunchy cookie pieces with the mild sweetness of the dragonfruit was just incredible.

If there’s any justice in the world, they’ll be able to get their own store (or truck) next year so we won’t have to brave street fairs to get a taste of the innovative ice cream.

GUERILLA ICE CREAM
Various Locations
Follow on twitter: @GuerrillaIC
guerrillaicecream.com

83. CAKE-CUPS from BEE’S KNEES BAKING COMPANY

SADLY, BEE’S KNESS BAKING COMPANY IS NOW CLOSED.

I was recently contacted by a buddy who I worked with many years ago at a big time steak house. Turns out he and another two friends started a baking and catering delivery company. Intriguing. And when I learned that they were baking something innovative and brand new, I was even more intrigued.

Cake-cups. I thought they might have been making cupcakes, but were cursed by a dyslexic publicist. Or maybe this was a cutesy way of saying cupcakes. But no, they have re-invented the dessert that New Yorkers are still so obsessed with. I blame Sex & the City.

These are basically cupcakes in reverse. They’re baked cake that’s layered into a shot glass, topped with any number of frostings, creams, or toppings. I tried the Pumpkin Spice, which was a moist pumpkin cake layered with a citrusy and tart orange cream cheese mousse. Definitely made me realize fall is upon us – even if the weather is saying otherwise.

I also really liked the Chocolate Toffee which was dense chocolate cake layered with sweet salted caramel and garnished with perfectly crispy toffee pieces.

These are fancy, original, refined takes on the overdone cupcakes. And the fact that they’re only available for delivery makes them that much more desirable. Depends on Order

BEE’S KNEES BAKING COMPANY
beeskneesbakingco.com

82. SALTY PIMP at BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK

I featured Doug Quint and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck on my ice cream episode this past year. And it wasn’t because he made the best ice cream (he actually doesn’t make the soft serve ice cream), but it’s because he has brilliantly evolved the summer treat by adding unusual and successful topping combinations to make the best soft serve ice cream ever.

And I think his most delicious speciality is what he calls the Salty Pimp. It’s a helping of vanilla soft serve, decorated with dulce de leche, sea salt, and then dipped into a chocolate dip. He uses just the right ratio to make the very simple marriage of flavors work beautifully. The sweet, salty, chocolaty combinations are classic but have never improved upon with such grace and flamboyance.

BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK
Broadway and 17th Street
Flatiron District
Only Through October 29 (and then open again in the Spring)
biggayicecreamtruck.com

81. WARM TRUFFLE ALMOND STRAWBERRIES WITH PEPPER ICE CREAM at GRAFFITI

SADLY, GRAFFITI IS NOW CLOSED.

We had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Graffiti, a literal hole-in-the-wall in the East Village. The service (which was all done by the chef, Jehangir Mehta) couldn’t have been more gracious and the food was experimental and delicious.

Mehta was the pastry chef at Jean Georges (among other restaurants in the city) and was acclaimed for brilliantly combining savory and sweet flavors.

So it was obvious that I would be having dessert and I am so glad I did. The name of this dish seems sort of just thrown together. Should it be warm strawberry almond truffle? No! You soon realize that the strawberries are not made into an almond truffle. But rather they are tossed with almonds and truffle (mushroom) oil!

Bizarre, yes? But delicious! Along with the spicy, but refreshing black pepper ice cream, the sweetness of the strawberries is enhanced by the earthiness of truffle oil and the texture of the crunchy almonds.

This is what I always yearn for – surprising and bizarre flavors that make for an amazing eating experience. Price: $7

GRAFFITI
224 East 10th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue)
East Village
(212) 677-0695
graffitinyc.com

Photo courtesy of: foodfashionista.com


SADLY, GUERILLA ICE CREAM IS NOW CLOSED.

Everybody’s gotta have a gimmick, right? It’s certainly true when it comes to ice cream. Sure, you could make simple flavors and hark back to the old ice cream shops of the 5o’s. But isn’t it fun when you flamboyantly dress up your Mr. Softee truck (Big Gay Ice Cream) or make liquid nitrogen ice cream (Lulu & Mooky’s) or vegan ice cream (Stogo)? But who could have seen Guerilla Ice Cream’s gimmick coming?

This brand new mobile ice cream vendor is selling ice cream sundaes named after and inspired by political revolutions. Say what? It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me, but just go with the strange names like Red Corridor and Velvet Revolution. I don’t know enough (okay, I don’t know anything) about these revolutionary movements to make the connection with the names. So to me it seems rather arbitrary and gimmicky. But they do make some crazy, intriguing flavors and toppings. And Che Guevara be damned, if it tastes good, who cares what it all means?

They’re set up on Saturdays at the Hester Street Fair and at the Fulton Stall Market on Sundays. I caught them a few weeks back at the Hester Street Fair, which is a foodie nerd’s wet dream. You could eat an avocado paleta, a cheddar truffle pretzel, and a kimchi dog all in a matter of a few minutes. These are unique vendors selling their food because they’re passionate about it. And most of these guys don’t have a home. They’re a new kind of street vendor, who instead of moving from street to street, move from internet sites to food festivals.

Guerilla Ice Cream is one of three vendors selling frozen treats (La Newyorkina does paletas and Melt Bakery does ice cream sandwiches) at the Fair. And they’re the ones making the most unique flavor combinations. The watermelon and avocado paletas are great, but nothing touches Steel Buddha Tea Sorbet topped with Chinese walnut cookies and dragonfruit.

That was their special the day I showed up. It was called Chinatown Tea Party and it was amazing. The sorbet had some rich, earthy tea flavors that was refreshing and the texture of the sweet crunchy cookie pieces with the mild sweetness of the dragonfruit was just incredible.

And that was just one of six flavor combinations on offer. They were more than eager to let us try as many as we want – they have to be if they’re going to sell such obscure flavors as chai masala. Everything we tasted was intensely flavored and the toppings all sounded great. The most pedestrain flavor they served was the dark chocolate and port wine, which had a very dense, rich texture and a slightly bitter but lively chocolate bite.

They can call this stuff whatever they want, but as long as they put inspired and innovative flavors and ingredients together, I’ll come find them at Hester Street Fair or wherever they may be.

Is Guerrilla Ice Cream the best ice cream in NY? They get a 7 out of 10 because it’s certainly unique and while it may not appeal to all palates, it’s a fun concept and their flavor combinations work well.


Category: Ice Cream

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