Archive for June, 2011

Guilt-Free Hazelnut Gelato

After I spent time in the City (see: last post), we travelled up to Saratoga Springs for a few days (the town in which I’ll be attending college). Located just north of Albany, the area is beautiful: wooded, historic, yet modern – and with a beautifully concentrated downtown center. Although we had a few unspectacular meals there, we ended the trip (within our last hour there) with a visit to the aptly named Cafe Gelato. There, I had a wonderful hazelnut gelato that I’ve been craving to have again ever since.

So naturally, I planned to make it myself. However, this was tricky; I wanted to make a light ice cream – something fitting for summer. And I didn’t want massive amounts of heavy cream and egg yolks to mask the flavor of the (expensive) hazelnuts. So, I did a lot of research (here and here and here and here and here). I read through forums on molecular gastronomy (in this case, using things like locust bean gum and xanthan gum in ice cream) and found websites that sold the aforementioned gums and stabilizers in mixed quantities – ready to use. But they were upwards of $15, and, more importantly, I would have to wait for the mix to ship before I could make my ice cream; I really wanted it now.

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Back to the City

About two weeks ago, I went to New York City to visit my cousin, see Lady Gaga in Central Park, and basically just hang out in the city. While I was there, I kept track of some of the cool foodie things we did; obviously though, I haven’t gotten around to writing about them – until now. And, with swollen cheeks from getting my wisdom teeth out (a.k.a. refusing to be seen in public), what better time than now?

Since the Gaga concert ended so early in the morning (we were on the way to the city by 5 AM), we were in no rush and had nothing to really do. And, because it was such a beautiful day (while, as far as I know, it was pouring back in Buffalo), we spent a good portion of our morning walking about the Upper East Side and relaxing in Central Park. To refuel, we had our “second breakfast” at a place called Sicaffe. Reminder: we were in the UES; the prices and atmosphere reflected that. My cousin and I each had a “mezzo” (medium) iced caramel macchiato and a sticky bun. Although expensive (nearly $20 for the two of us), the quality of our selections made the price worth it – after all, you’re not going to find anything much cheaper in that area. The iced macchiato (which ended up being our second of five coffees throughout the day) was pleasingly strong: something that surprised us given the milky color of the drink. The espresso was tantalizingly fresh and the balance was spot-on; we could’ve easily gone for another. And as for the sticky buns, the photo says it all: they were caramelized, fluffy, sweet, and perfect.

After a lot of shopping in SoHo and the West Village, we walked over to W. Houston St. and ate at Francois Payard Bakery (at around 2 PM, although it felt like 6). Although F.P.B. specializes in pastry – cakes, pies, macarons, etc. of every kind – which look picture-perfect, we were really in the mood for lunch. Luckily, the bakery offers a selection of about 10 sandwiches and other savory foods like quiche. I ended up choosing the Breakfast Sandwich while my cousin had a Roasted Vegetable Panini – all with iced coffee, of course. The names don’t do any justice to what we received: an excellent panini and the best breakfast sandwich I’ve had in my life. This sandwich – heated through when ordered – contained a vegetable omelet and cripsy bacon, sandwiched between pretzel bread and smeared with just a touch of mayonnaise. Innovative, delicious, and brilliant. It put any breakfast sandwich I’d had before to shame, whether homemade, locally made, or from a fast-food restaurant. And, the atmosphere was open enough that we felt comfortable relaxing there for a bit; others were seeing doing work or reading a book.

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