Brooklyn Bell The Local-Crown Heights, Brooklyn

 

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Multi-ethnic boutique restaurants are sprouting all over Crown Heights, Brooklyn as locals are now more than ever dining out, but where to go for ice cream when your delicate palate wont settle for Baskin Robbins on the corner of Franklin and Eastern Pkwy? Café Froyo on the opposite corner of the intersection had been satisfying frozen treat cravings for a few years but the place has now shut down, I assume due to the lack of traffic and steady bills not adding up.

Ron Cunningham, ice cream genius/software engineer/private chef, decided to change all of this by bringing local, fresh, and quirky ice cream to Crown Heights through Brooklyn Bells The Local. The parlor embodies patriotism with hints of red, white, and blue displayed on the walls and décor. “We’re very patriotic; the American dream is ingrained in our psyches,” said Mr. Cunningham during a New York Times interview.

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Not only is the décor patriotic, but some of the most popular flavors are as well such as Sweet Potato Pie—a subtle creamy vanilla ice cream swirled with chunks of sweet potato sneaking up on you every few bites. The Backyard Bourbon—a peach flavored ice cream with outstanding hints of bourbon that fade the initial peach flavor you were hoping for. I asked about the ingredients to the ice cream base and Mr. Cunningham stated he wouldn’t reveal the ratio, but that it does consist of solely whole milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, and turbinado sugar.

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You’re bound to hear salsa music in the background, as El Gran Combo played throughout my time there. Paintings of locals are plastered onto the walls giving an emphasis on how much Mr. Cunningham cares to involve the neighborhood with his establishment.

 

Brooklyn Bells The Local

Address: 843 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238/ Phone:(718) 399-2613
Website: http://www.brooklynbell.com/

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Restaurant Review:Pokeworks

 

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Waiting on an hour long line to get a Pokiritto at Pokeworks  happens to be a great way to meditate on life and future endeavors. The restaurant is blending in with the now fast casual restaurant trend of high quality ingredients aligned in a cafeteria served manner. The place is smaller than you’re nearest gas station clearly demonstrating the unpredicted success the owners had in mind with their sushi burrito concept. Currently, demand is so high, guest are only allowed to order up to two items on the menu. Pokeworks success has thrived due to the almighty power of social media. It all essentially started with the worldwide spread picture of a sushi burrito that allowed lines of prominently college students to spiral down the block. As folks start piling in, the wind permeates a whiff of Ahi tuna through the air tempting the stomach of those still waiting on line . “Cup of miso anyone,” yells out one of the employees handing out warm miso soup with bits of minced scallions for guest waiting more than forty five minutes. Oddly the restaurant is located right next to a cabaret and adult film store. Nonetheless, the sushi burrito was long overdue here in New York, I however thought Pokeworks demonstrated how social media hype has at times fallen flat when high expectations are set. I ordered the Spicy Ahi a combination of Ahi tuna, sriracha aioli, green & sweet onion, cucumber, and masago rolled into steamed white rice and nori. Tuna was fresh, aioli was mild, hints of cilantro here and there, but lacking elements of flavor that you were hoping would outshine your local sushi take out spot. Pricing ranges from $10-$15 depending on the burrito size. Top selling items have been the Salmon Shiso, a combination of fresh-diced salmon, green & sweet onion, edamame, cucumber, shiso leaves, crispy onion & garlic, yuzu ponzu. All combinations come either in a bowl (Poké Bowl) or a burrito (Pokiritto).

Address: 63 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018/Phone:(212) 575-8881/Hours: 11AM–8PM/Menu: Pokeworks.com

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Let Us Claim A Staple New York City Dessert

 

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You travel to Florence to find authentic gelato. You travel to Istanbul to find mouth-watering baklava. You come to New York for cereal milk soft serve? Essentially New York has never had a staple dessert, yes the cronut was birthed here and has had tourist piling in from left to right, but I say we become known for Momofuku’s cereal milk soft serve. Lines at Milk Bar can be out the door as customers pile out with the soft serve in hand. There has been many things done to ice cream but nothing I have tasted beats this yet. The soft serve is served in a white paper cup with corn flake cereal bits on the bottom, cereal milk ice cream is swirled in, then wrapped in a ribbon of more toasted corn flake bits. The cornflakes however have a light kick being that they were buttered, toasted, and sprinkled with a hint of salt. Soft serve taste as if the remaining milk after finishing a bowl of corn flakes. The milk left in the bowl that you either chug down or leave behind is now swirled into a cup as a cool treat for a sunny spring day. Milk Bar is very proud to claim the longevity the soft serve has, before it begins to drench down onto your hands creating the typical soft serve mess. The trick I believe is the wrapping of the toasted buttered cornflakes as they cage in the ice cream giving it a longer melting point. I find myself at times even craving it. Like one would crave chocolate ice cream at 12 A.M. or flaky pie after a hearty lunch, I crave cereal milk soft serve any given time of the day.

Address: 382 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone:(347) 577-9504
Hours: Open today • 9AM–12AM
Menu: milkbarstore.com

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Sweet Chick, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sweet Chick, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

“So I…pull over to the side of the road. And I heard “Son do you know why I’m stopping you for? Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hats’ real low”, raps Jay-Z through the wall speakers on the corner of Bedford Ave and 8th Street. Sweet Chick, a restaurant that represents Brooklyn at its best. An urban hip cultured place where rappers such as Raekwon perform and rapper Joey Badass satisfies his cravings for curry chicken and waffles.Williamsburg, a part of Brooklyn most commonly known for its yuppie infested streets, rare vintage finds, eclectic fashion, and artisanal goods.  It is now home to one of the “top ten best fried chicken and waffle restaurants in NYC”, according to Zagat, BKmag, and Thrillist—Sweet Chick.

A long picnic table sits in the center of the dining room. A chalkboard at the far end of the room highlights a list of daily specials. Multiple vintage mirrors adorn the walls. Violet and Sun Porch Mum flowers in a water-filled Mason jar, maple syrup sitting above a mason jar lid, eco-friendly napkins and a fire-lit candle lay in front of each diner. She approached. I called her Lotus Flower, a quirky server yelling over the booming speakers and high pitch chatter finding its way around the place. A lotus flower tattoo inked onto her upper shoulder that would stand out to anyone.

So, how exactly is the fried chicken made at this joint ? Well, Executive Chef Randy Reppel brines his chicken in sweet tea and then rubs it in a secret spice blend. He then pairs his fried chicken with a wide variation of waffles such as the bacon cheddar waffle, dried cherry waffle, rosemary-mushroom waffle, walnut-parmesan waffle, and spiced pecan waffle, flavor pairings that might be familiar but not possibly in a waffle.

An order of fried chicken and dried cherry waffle arrives. A thigh and a wing lay next to 4 pyramid shaped waffle pieces. The crispy outer skin of the thigh and wing crackle in your mouth as you relieve the succulent meat from the bone beginning to steam with the first bite, similar to taking off the lid of a steaming broth. A dried Washington-Bing cherry waffle rested beside. The juices in the cherries burst into your mouth, brought back to life, rehydrated, bursting with flavor, so pulpy and acidic. A light dash of confectionary sugar is dusted over the waffle, which cuts into the acidity of the cherries, a sweet and savory combo at its best. A tablespoon scoop each of rosemary-thyme, assorted berry, and honey lemon butters, so light and airy as if they were whipped until light and fluffy in a stand mixer come complimentary with any chicken and waffle order. Spread these house-made butters on each waffle, your mouth will thank you. Sweet Chick, cool vibes and American comfort food at its best.

Sweet Chick
164 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11211
sweetchicknyc.com/

 

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Four & Twenty BlackBirds

“ Bake to please, bake to delight, bake to spread warmth and cheer”- Jamie Schler, I quote this from one of my favorite food blogs of all time http://www.platedstories.com

Chit-chat fills the right side of the shop, for everyone there is in an intimate conversation where ideas, thoughts, and jokes are being shared on a wooden commune table. Then you direct your attention towards your left and laptops are being intently stared at, as strangers cramp themselves into small tables with immense focus on their work. The high ceiling fans gently permeate the room with the various aromas coming from the ready to eat pies that have just been taken out of the oven. This sweet smell I believe can sometimes take us back to a comforting memory of apple pie in our childhood or pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving. That smell never fails to do so with me. I take a seat on the quieter side of the room and share a table with a graceful, mellow toned girl whom typed her soul away, as if her paper on one of the great authors of the Renaissance was due on Monday. With her headphones on, she flips through the worn pages of a novel, completely oblivious to her surroundings. It was a windy day with drizzling rain spontaneously showering passersby. The day continues on in this frustrating manner, one moment you need your umbrella very briefly, the next one, you don’t.

I order a slice of the salted caramel apple pie, a slice of the salty honey pie, and a café au lait. Slicing into the apple pie with your fork, mouthfuls of the 5 layers of apple slices come crumbling down onto your fork. The pie had a thick-latticed crust which was gently egg washed and then sprinkled with sugar crystals that gracefully browned whilst in the oven. Each apple slice wore this beautiful blush of cinnamon and nutmeg. A canoe  shaped scoop of cream that had been whipped until soft peak was placed on the side. I then geared my spoon towards the salty honey pie slice and began to devour it. With every bite, the sweet honey tingle’s your tongue with this smooth bread pudding like texture that easily dissolves in your mouth, but then the sprinkled salt on top cuts through that tingly sweet sensation, giving you a perfect contrast to the sharp honey taste still lingering on the tongue. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of honey they used for the pie. As the afternoon wore on, I continued to slowly sip on my café au lait, engaged in a book whilst the sun shone through the sheer beige curtains. In the midst of all this, the soothing smell of pie continues to fill the room. Envious I was that I did not live in this neighborhood. I was more than an hour away from this cozy café/bakery on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 8th Street.

Four & Twenty BlackBirds
439 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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Caracas Arepa Bar

More than six months ago I had placed Caracas Arepa Bar on my list of places I wanted to eat, but for some reason or another I never got around to it. Today was my only day off and adventuring to Arepa Bar was definitely the plan. I put on a thrift store bought brown suede blazer and a pencil floral black and white skirt and was out the door. The weather was perfect. It was cloudy with no signs of rain but the air gave an impression the day was to be magical. A day where mustard colored leaves sprinkled like snowflakes above your head and the cool breeze brushed your skin gently in every couple steps. Early afternoon it was, and the streets of Brooklyn were calm and serene.
Before this delightful day started, I decided to research the history of the arepa. I discovered an arepa is basically a corn pancake that is usually eaten with meats, eggs, or cheese but can be paired with a lot of food such as a potato. Arepas can also be sweetened and become the base element of a dessert. The indigenous people of Venezuela and Columbia actually adapted the name and have allowed the arepa to be an essential cake in both cultures. In my culture, we also call this type of corn cake arepa but sometimes use the spanish term “bollos” and in using this term instead of frying the batter we boil the batter and eat them as a side for a seared steak. Inspired by my little Google research on arepas, I called my mother and asked her how the corn cake was significant in her childhood. She goes into a detailed memory of family gathering’s with big pots of arepa for all the neighborhood. The process took about a day or two to make because first you scraped the fresh corn and then placed the seeds outside to dry in the hot sun. When they became dry you then intensively crushed them until they became a grainy mixture. Afterwards you sift the mixture and, voila, you have homemade corn flour. My mother then continued on with the memory of placing the flour in a large pot on the front porch over an open fire with hot coal. The flour would then be mixed with natural cow milk, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Once ready it would quickly be flipped over and all the neighborhood friends would enjoy a slice.
With my mothers memory in mind Caracas Arepa Bar was definitely a quick getaway into my Hispanic background. Waiting for your menu you notice the warmth of the restaurant and the salsa music playing in the background—both setting the mood for this Venezuelan adventure. While looking over the menu, the waitress suggests the lunch special from noon-4pm of an arepa and a soup or salad for just $8.50! I said, “I’ll take it” and ordered the arepa the restaurant is well known for — “De Pabillon” — and a salad as a starter. The salad arrived and I started munching. A mixed green salad with heirloom tomatoes lightly hand tossed in balsamic vinaigrette then plated on a clay bowl. The salad being just the right starter with its perfect lightness keeping you awaiting the New York Times reviewed arepa. The arepa arrives 10 minutes later and I immediately noticed the fork and knife provided was not needed. It was definitely finger food and not just something you can grasp with one hand. You need both hands to hold all it packed. With the first bite you hear the crispness on the edges of the arepa as you bite into beef, cheese, beans, and sweet plantains. The juices from the beef start dripping onto the plate with every bite (you know something’s good when its oozing out). The sweetness of the fried sweet plantains reminded me of my childhood. It played so well with the hearty beef and beans allowing it to truly show off the significance of this Venezuelan treat. A couple of mouthfuls and the arepa is gone and you’re craving dessert because how can you not desire a coconut tres leches or a moussesillo de parchita? I of course went with the mouseesillo de parchita because it’s a mousse that met a flan, went to a party and invited one of my most favorite things, passion fruit, into the mix. However, unfortunately the moussesillo didn’t meet my expectations. It was a bold dessert that went wrong. The passion fruit advertised didn’t shine through and the flavor overall of the dessert wasn’t pleasing. Your left just wanting to savor the blueberry sauce that the dessert is plated with. Overall, Caracas Arepa Bar showcased the Venezuelan culture to an American audience attractively. I wouldn’t hesitate twice to go for lunch again.                   
Caracas Arepa Bar
291 Grand st. 
(between Havemeyer st and Roebling st) 
Brooklyn, NY 11211 
 
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