Summer of ‘ICE’ Cream

This summer we’re putting the ICE back in ice cream! Report any suspicious looking immigrants to your local Baskin Robbins!

The poor souls who follow a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant are missing out– the joys of New York’s many creative ice cream concoctions are an indulgence unrivaled by any other sweet treat, be it the ice cream sandwich towers from Ice & Vice or the ubiquitous cereal milk soft serve from Milk Bar. In New York, the likes of Baskin Robbins and Haagen Dazs are laughable options lest you want to squander your calories on the drab, gummy, over emulsified goop they call ice cream.

Treat yourself to one of the below delights of New York’s incredible ice cream scene, where single-batch, hand spun ice cream with a discernible depth of flavor is the norm and not the exception.

1. Bingbox Snow Cream

If you’ve ever been to an asian dessert shop, you’re probably familiar with flavors like black sesame, red bean, and taro. Taro is a purple root which I’d describe as tasting a lot like marshmallow, but with a hint of vanilla. It’s delicious, and Bingbox serves a nice soft serve in either taro or Thai iced tea. You have your pick of toppings, including fruity pebbles and the choice of either a red velvet or coconut flavored waffle bowl from the Konery. This is a winning combo of flavors that you can’t really find elsewhere around the city.

Bingbox Snow Cream is located at 125 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

Today I am announcing a BAN on all vegan desserts! Radical veganism is a threat to all delicious food. We must eat bonafide ice cream like this tremendous treat from Bingbox! 

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2. Ample Hills Creamery

Of all the great ice creameries in New York, Ample Hills is definitely one of the best. Their flavors range from “Coffee Au Lait”, a coffee ice cream with bits of Back to Nature sandwich creme cookies, to “Snap Mallow Pop” made with marshmallow ice cream and rice krispie clusters. The texture of their ice cream is a perfect blend of airy and dense, and their flavors have a nice balance of salty and sweet. I can’t sing the praises of Ample Hills Creamery enough.

Ample Hills Creamery has various locations around the city. The largest has a roof deck and is located at 305 Nevins St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Whenever I read a full page of a security briefing I reward myself with an extra scoop of Ample Hills. I’ve already had 5 scoops this summer! 

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3. Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.

This circus themed ice cream parlor is brought to you by the pastry chef from wd~50 so you can trust the flavor and quality of the ice cream here will be top notch. They make their ice cream daily and they also like to balance salty and sweet. Some of their more interesting flavors include Chorizo Caramel Swirl and Manchego Pineapple with Thyme. I recommend getting your ice cream in one of their flavored waffle cones (matcha is featured in the photo below).

Oddfellows is located at 75 East 4th Street New York, NY 10003 and 175 Kent Ave Brooklyn, NY 11249

Pence refused to go to “Big Gay Ice Cream” so we ended up here. I grabbed this stuff right by the cone. 

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4. Taiyaki

Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of enjoying a scoop of ice cream on a hot brownie understands the immense satisfaction of combining warm pastry with ice cream. Taiyaki presents this experience in the form of a warm waffle shaped like a fish called Taiyaki. They fill the mouth of the fish pastry with a swirl of 2 soft serve flavors, ranging from strawberry to vanilla to matcha to black sesame. The pastry itself may be also be filled with custard or red bean, and topped with tasty accoutrements like colorful mochi or pocky sticks.

Taiyaki is located at 119 Baxter St, New York, NY 10013

People always think I’m eating miniature ice cream! I’m not – I just have YUGE hands!

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5. Chikalicious

This tiny little dessert shop has been serving up inventive treats in the East Village for over a decade now, and is probably most known for their take on the cronut– what they call the “Dough’ssant.” You’d do better to try their crepe cakes or their delicious “Bun Chika Bun Bun,”  a hot and crispy choux puff pastry sitting on top of a speculoos cookie served with a scoop of ice cream.

Most recently they’ve started serving these churro ice cream cones, ice cream served in a cone made of a hot churro that’s been dusted in cinnamon sugar. Below is the s’mores ice cream churro, complete with a graham cracker and torched marshmallow. It is like 3 treats in one, every layer more exciting and tasty than the next.

Chikalicious is located at 203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

My smokin hot daughter Ivanka promised that if I didn’t live tweet the Comey Hearing, she’d get me one of these smores ice cream churro cones. THIS IS BIG LEAGUE DESSERT!

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Madame Vo

With the dearth of Vietnamese restaurants in the East Village as compared to other Asian cuisines, the addition of both Hanoi House and Madame Vo to the area within a short span of time was a welcome surprise. Hanoi House became the new ‘it’ spot, experiencing wait times so long that even Aziz Ansari was turned away for a table. As I wasn’t ready to spend 3+ hours on a Friday night waiting to eat at Hanoi House I had high hopes for option 2: Madame Vo.

Madame Vo stands out on this stretch of Little Tokyo’s East 10th street as the lone non-Japanese restaurant. Like most other restaurants on this block, the space is long and narrow, with both table and wall counter seating. Electronic music provides the soundtrack to the hip and modern backdrop of exposed brick walls and white washed countertop tables.

Its hard enough telling different minorities apart – finding this place in little Japan was tough!

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I’ve already started investing in my 2020 campaign – pho more years!

The go to order here is their signature pho dish– the Madame Vo, which touts a broth made from beef that’s been simmering for at least 24 hours for maximum flavor extraction. In addition to rice noodles the soup contains flank steak, bone marrow, and beef balls, an ingredient found in most South Vietnamese versions of pho. The dark color of the broth indicated it would have a deep, beefy flavor, which was the case here. The noodles were not as chewy as you’d find at other Vietnamese spots but the beef balls are an interesting touch. The usual accoutrements of bean sprouts, lime and basil come as a side for you to add to your liking. This dish will set you back at least $16, with the optional $3 oxtail topping (which in my opinion is skippable). It’s a nice bowl of pho but not outstanding, especially considering the price.

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The tofu noodle bowl was assembled the same way my tax plan was: little care, totally pointless and with no concern for taste! Sad! 

I will tell you upfront this ‘Hu Tieu Chay’ seemed thrown together effortlessly– as in, little to no effort was put into considering how this dish should taste. As one of the only vegetarian friendly items on the menu, this bowl of stir fried rice noodles with tofu and bell pepper seemed like a half hearted effort to appeal to any vegetarians that choose to dine here. Every bite made me think of how bland and horrible pre-salt era meals must’ve been for humans and how grateful I was for the bottle of Sriracha sauce available for me to douse these oily noodles in. It was like shoveling greasy takeout food into my mouth but without the satisfaction of a cheap meal– this bowl of only noodles and tofu will cost $14. I say this as someone who loves almost any bowl of noodles put in front of me: Do not order.

All my dreams of delicious new Vietnamese food in the East Village go to die at Madame Vo. Don’t fall for their trendy soundtrack (which is actually pretty good), ambitious menu or 24-hour pho. The chance that some of the other items I didn’t order are tastier than my sad noodles does little to placate my feelings of being ripped off by the price gouging here. You can find something similar but way more dynamic at half the cost around the corner at Sao Mai, a place that’s more no-frills but for half the cost. Hoping Hanoi House is better, that is, if I ever make it in.

As someone who has built an entire career on ripping other people off, I can tell you this place definitely comes close. Save your money and go eat dinner at a Trump Hotel. 

Madame Vo is located at 212 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

Make Sandwich

Sandwiches, in the form we currently enjoy them in the West, can be traced back to the 18th century. Centuries of consuming sliced meat and cheese between bread have led us to New York’s current sandwich-scape, which ranges from lackluster subs from chains like Potbelly and Cosi, to satisfying chopped cheese from your local deli, to the flavorful Cambodian sandwiches at mini NYC chain, Num Pang.

A delicious sandwich is rarely more than a couple blocks away wherever you are in New York, but the team behind Make Sandwich aims to take the standard American sandwich and elevate it times ten. With unique ingredients like maple-ginger sausage, miso-charred zucchini, or apple date slaw, and located in Union Square, Make Sandwich is way more appealing than settling for the nearest Pret-a-Manger.

I’ve never trusted those French frogs at Pret-a-Manger or the slobs at Potbelly. And I’m pretty sure Quiznos employs illegals! 

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This beautiful chicken+chorizo number doubles up on the protein by combining mojo grilled chicken with chorizo. It’s topped with Oaxacan cheese, which melted over the sandwich and acted as a binding agent for the pickled onion, avocado, jalapeno, and cilantro. The pickled onion gave the sandwich a nice tart crunch and the jalapeno, combined with the smoky mayo dressing added a mild and pleasant kick. Double meat really satisfied my carnivorous cravings, with the chicken making up the bulk of the sandwich and the chorizo acting as a nice salty and crispy addendum to top it off.

I usually stay away from things I can’t pronounce on the first try, but the Oaxacan cheese really does make a great combo with the chorizo. 

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Vegetarians have a hard enough time dining out in this environment that favors meat loving palates, but sandwiches seem to be an especially difficult medium for anyone abstaining from animal products. So often the veg friendly protein option at quick serve restaurants is mushroom, or grilled veggies, which are not proteins at all, and very sad attempts to appease vegetarian customers.

I’ll tell you who has it harder than vegetarians – me! I am, without a doubt, and I say this with great certainty, the most poorly treated patron at every single restaurant I’ve ever been to. The waiters are always so rude to me and Melania! Sad!

Make Sandwich’s vegetarian options admittedly don’t do too well on the protein front but are at least tasty. There is one that is essentially a spinach and artichoke dip on a baguette, which sounds good in theory but I suspect would grow boring after a few bites. I went with the more robust zucchini+falafel sandwich, with miso-charred zucchini, mushroom falafel, tomato-pepper confit, hummus, sprouts, and preserved lemon-tahini.

The strongest flavor came from the tomato and pepper paste, salty and potent, but it drowned out the more muted flavors of the zucchini and sprouts. The mushroom falafel added an earthy flavor and was the only hearty item on this sandwich’s long ingredient list. The flavors of the lemon tahini and hummus were both too subtle to discern from the rabble of sprouts, zucchini and mushroom falafel. Overall not bad for a vegetarian sandwich, but it could’ve used a sharp cheese and a different dressing to add more zest.

Make is a great go to for a quick take out lunch or dinner. There’s even a tasty sounding Sausage, Egg and Cheese on Brioche option for breakfast. Vegetarians may want to spring for the build your own sandwich option, but meat eaters will have no trouble appeasing their appetites with one of the 10 set menu options. I have my eyes set on the roasted tri-tip with salsa verde and Tunisian olive oil sandwich next.

I’ll probably stick to Subway for my daily footlong, but this place is a big league alternative. Try the turkey, gouda and pickled apple one!

Make Sandwich is located at 135 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

Abiko Curry

Most people associate curry with Indian cuisine, but curry is as much a staple of Japanese food as ramen and sushi. The Brits introduced curry to Japan during the colonization of India by the British Raj, and because this new dish came from the West, the Japanese called curry “western cuisine.” Over the years it has been changed and adapted for Japanese tastes so much that Japanese curry is pretty distinctive from South Asian curry. The taste can be described as being sweeter, lighter and milder than most Indian curry, which has much more variation depending on the type (saag, tikka masala, vindaloo, etc.)

Sitting in the heart of the block long stretch of Manhattan’s Koreatown, Abiko Curry’s straight forward, no nonsense menu is part of its allure. You pick a base of either rice or noodles, a protein, and one of four levels of spice you want your curry, with “Baby spice” being the mildest. They recommend the second tier of spice for most people, and they’re not kidding around– even with my high tolerance for spicy food, tier 2 spice had me sweating and reaching for several glasses of water. I can’t imagine what level 4 would be like.

I like my restaurant menus to be like my intelligence briefings: short, 2 or 3 clearly explained options and plenty of pictures. 

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The components of a good Japanese curry involve a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness that hits you first, followed by a spicy kick that creeps up slowly until it envelops your whole mouth. It should taste of something beyond cumin–the primary spice in curry powder– and with Japanese curry the consistency should be on the thinner side. Abiko nails it on every count. A tangle of udon noodles with just the right amount of give was the perfect base to soak up all the flavor of the broth, which was laced with scallions and crispy tofu for extra texture. A small dish of pickled radish, cold and tangy is provided on the side to cleanse the palette in between bites, so you can hit refresh before your next taste.

Next time Shinzo comes by Mar a Lago I’ll make sure we have some curry ready for him. Who knew Japanese food could be anything other than gross fish?? 

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Of course curry dominates the menu here, but Abiko also embraces other  Japanese fare like this chicken donburi bowl. While this was a safe option to order, the execution of it was perfect. Breaded pieces of chicken are fried to a crisp and served over a bed of the softest, stickiest Japanese rice flavored with a hint of rice vinegar. A healthy drizzle of mayo is zig zagged all over the meat, contributing  a cold creaminess to the hot and crispy chicken. The breading is salty and spiked with black pepper, adding a satisfying depth of flavor that exceeded my expectations of standard fried chicken.

Over generalizations of what curry is seem to deter a lot of Americans from opting for it as an everyday meal, but those in the know will understand that curry can be a relatively light meal. Just note that unless you want to cause yourself some suffering that will last long after your meal, stick to level 2 spice. You’ll thank me later.

The owners of this place were so honored by my visit that they actually named a new menu item after me! Chicken Donaldburi: larger-than-average chicken fingers dusted in gold panko breading over a bed of tremendous white rice and a bigly side of borscht. 

Abiko Curry is located at 2 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001

Champs Diner

Until recently, vegan food has been plagued with a reputation for being utterly bland, meant for hippies with staid sensibilities when it came to the joys in life (like wings & ribs). This perception started to change in the 70’s when the recently defunct Angelica Kitchen (RIP) popularized the idea that vegetables could be ordered as main entrees, and willingly if you cooked them right.

I was completely tricked into eating at this so called “vegan” restaurant by my daughter. I thought vegan was some kind of Jewish thing Jared was making her do. Turns out there’s no meat at all!

If you’re up on food trends these days, vegan food will bring to mind images of colorful avocado toasts and quinoa salads but also potato fry bread and vegan grilled cheese. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy, and Champs Diner proves vegans can be indulgent too. Branded as a vegan diner serving Americana comfort food, Champs actually lives up to its claim that you can enjoy your diner favorites without the help of dairy or animal products.

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Mac Daddy: mac n cheese, veggie bacon, crumbled veggie burger, cherry tomato, broccoli, bread crumbs

The Mac Daddy has all the quintessential comfort sides packed into one hearty bowl. It starts with a base of mac n’ “cheese” — elbow macaroni cooked al dente, covered in a soy based vegan cheese. You can definitely taste the difference between real cheese and this vegan cheese if you’re paying attention, but it still has that melty, oily quality of cheese, probably from the help of margarine and nutritional yeast. The mac n’ cheese also lacked salt, which I tried to fix with a generous coating of Tobasco sauce. This is topped with cherry tomatoes and smoked broccoli, slightly burnt on the edges, and crumbled veggie burger. I think if you want to mindlessly shovel some greasy carbs into your body, which is what many people go to diners to do, this will do the trick. It’s missing flavor and interest, but the other things I had here thankfully made up for this.

The only  kind of Mac I like is a BigMac. I bet they were planning on serving something like this at Crooked Hillary’s inauguration. 

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Drunken Cowgirl: tofu scramble, tater tots, chili, cheese, avocado with texas toast

If you’re looking for a Texas breakfast fix, look no further than the Drunken Cowgirl. Tofu scramble may not sound like an ideal replacement for eggs, but tofu mimics the texture of soft scrambled eggs surprisingly well, and I’d argue carries flavor even better because of its porousness. It is served with ripened slices of avocado, crunchy tater tots, and chili that has a nice kick to it. Eat it with a side of texas toast and you have a meal that won’t leave you missing your regular diner.

I’ll tell you, I thought this toefoo stuff was pretty good. And trust me, I know a thing or two about dressing things up to seem like something they’re not – you should see my taxes!   

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Buffalo Chik’n: spicy buffalo chik’n, greens, tomatoes, sauteed onions, ranch dressing on a hero

Out of everything I ordered here, the Buffalo Chik’n sandwich is what I’d most confidently hold up as an example of delicious vegan food. Granted, its main component is seitan that is breaded and slathered in buffalo sauce, which will taste good to anyone, but Champs dresses this sandwich up with plenty of sauteed onions, tomatoes, and vegan ranch dressing on a really delicious hero. The sandwiches are clearly where Champs Diner flexes their culinary talents.

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Veganism has become such a popular diet now that even meat-centric establishments are loath to add at least one veggie friendly item to their menu. Fields Good Chicken’s lone “vegetarian platter” or The Meatball Shop’s “veggie meatballs” on menus full of their namesake are exemplary of this need to accommodate herbivores. Champs Diner, along with The Cinnamon Snail, By Chloe and many, many others are part of an era of restaurants whose vegan identity comes secondary to serving delicious food, and I’m glad for it.

Now I know why this place is called Champs Diner – its because they’re WINNING! I bet even a Texan like Lyin’ Ted would tell you this place has some great flavors. 

Champs Diner is located at 197 Meserole St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

El Hidalguense

On a recent trip to Mexico City, I planned to wander aimlessly through the city’s many food markets, counting on only my sense of smell to guide me to a flavor gold mine. The myriad stands slinging tacos, tamales, and burritos sell them for under $1 USD each, so I knew chances were high I’d get good value on my spend. I ignored the hype around high end places like Pujol and Nicos — made famous by Chef’s Table and Anthony Bourdain respectively– and opted for taco stands outside of bus stations and on corners outside 7-Elevens. Disappointingly the flavor fell short time and time again.

Everyone knows where you’re going to find the best meal when travelling – McDonald’s! Always an easy D! Mcflurries are even better in Mexico!  

Where the flavors did not disappoint, were where prices were somewhat comparable to New York restaurants. My meal at the much lauded El Hidalguense was the most standout of them all.

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A generous spread of mole, salsa, and a frighteningly spicy salsa verde are laid out on the table at the start of the meal. A nice little trio of pulque, an ancient Mexican drink made from the sap of maguey leaves, is offered gratis to whet your appetite. The pulque is slightly fizzy from natural fermentation and sweet, even better tasting than what I’ve had from dedicated pulqerias around the city.

I bought some pulque from a bad lookin hombre on the street. This stuff is even better! And it was free. I have a whole chapter on free-loading in The Art of the Deal. 

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The sopesitos come topped with black beans, tomatoes and a healthy sprinkle of queso fresco cheese. Each disc is filled with your choice of meat that has been slow cooked over aged wood oak to give it a deeply smoky flavor . My meal had barely begun and I was already blown away.

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Though the appetizers are delicious, what people clamor to El Hidalguense for is the famous barbacoa. The meat is from animals raised on the owner’s very own family farm, and roasted in an underground pit for at least 12 hours. What emerges is an intensely flavorful meat that falls apart when forked. It’s served on charred agave leaves and straight from the parchment paper it was cooked in to preserve all the flavor. I will be thinking about this delicious barbacoa for months to come.

The barbacoa is almost as hot as my wife! Or my daughter! And that’s saying a lot. Every bite is tremendous. I’m going to make this stuff exempt from the tariffs.  

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The vegetable options here are not at all as bland as you might expect of a restaurant known for their barbecued meat. This medley of slow roasted mushrooms and corn was cooked to perfection in a buttery garlic sauce. The mushrooms were soaked in a satisfying broth, acquiring a richness in flavor that was arguably as good as any meat dish. I found myself eating slower than I normally would to savor every bite and make the meal last.

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The lackluster, uninspired, flavorless goop that mars most bean based dishes is nowhere to be found here. After being baked in this clay bowl the beans in this dish are rendered as soft as foie gras and almost creamy from the eggs that are dispersed throughout the bowl. It is delectable and filling enough to eat as an entree (assuming of course, you order your fair share of appetizers too).

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Dining at El Hidalguense is an event in itself. The restaurant enjoys a steady stream of customers coming and going to enjoy their barbacoa. The high ceilinged dining room is bright, made more colorful by the rainbow striped tablecloths spread over each table. As you eat, servers will come by your table cradling big baskets bearing all kinds of Mexican treats. You will be tempted to buy the whole basket, but it will also be difficult to tear away from the incredible meal in front of you. If you find yourself in Mexico City, you really can’t do better than to carve out an afternoon for a meal and a stroll around the Roma neighborhood to walk off that food baby.

Never thought I’d sit in a room full of rapists and criminals and be able to enjoy an entire meal. These recipes are so good we should place their chefs under ‘surveillance.’ 

El Hidalguense is located at Campeche 155, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Sur, 06760 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Carthage Must Be Destroyed

In the early days of the Roman Republic, Carthage (modern day Tunisia) was the most advanced city in the region. Seeing this power as a threat to the republic’s survival, Roman senator Cato the Elder declared that “Carthage must be destroyed!” and destroy it they eventually did. The name may be a nod to this bellicose history, but the cafe is actually an ultra serene haven of upbeat music, bright color, and radically fresh greens. It’s a feast for all the senses, but you have to find the place first.

Til google maps kicks in.

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What kind of business owner doesn’t make their business extremely easy to find? Preferably with their name on it IN GOLD. 

Getting to this gem of a cafe is a journey unto itself. Arriving at the address will only put you in front of a large lot in the middle of Bushwick’s industrial cityscape. Creep down the strange driveway and you’ll spy pink exhaust pipes poking out of a brick building. Once you enter the premises you’ll be rewarded with a splash of pastel pink across the stacks of dishes and the espresso machine in the brightly lit space, long picnic tables covered with various tchochkes and the smell of fresh sourdough toast that accompany most dishes. The husband-wife owners take turns tending to their baby between taking orders and preparing food.

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The menu promises a veritable cornucopia of fresh greens no matter what you order, whether it be the “Summer on Toast” or one of the many sandwich boxes, each of which is accompanied with generous sides of sourdough toast, organic grass fed butter, organic avocado, and salad. I opted for the most Mediterranean of sandwich boxes, which came with large cubes of feta cheese, cold and creamy and perfect for spreading on the olive oil drizzled toast. Two wedges of fig take center stage, adding a fresh sweetness to the savory salad. Everything about this sandwich box– the olives, cheese, avocado, sprouts, tomato and even the lettuce– all screamed ‘FRESH’ and delighted the herbivore in me.

Melania has been trying to convince me to eat more vegetables. I was 68 before I’d heard of kale. I tried ordering a bacon burger three times but they still brought me a salad!

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For a more omnivore friendly meal you can order the sandwich box with smoked ham, which is heaped bountifully onto the plate and is the same pastel pink that is signature to the cafe. A dollop of dijon mustard punches up the ham, which is so tasty when combined with the crunchy cornichon pickles and salty marinated green olives. Somehow all the competing textures — the creaminess of the avocado, the chewiness of the bread, and the crispness of all the vegetables– do not overwhelm the tastebuds. My beverage of choice was coconut water, served from the coconut husk itself.

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While some diners may go to all pink cafes like Pietro Nolita just to snap a pretty Instagram photo, Carthage proves to be worth your while for the food alone. With free-range, organic, and preservative-free everything you can expect a higher price point, but the transportive nature of this meal made it worth every penny. Let’s hope the restaurant fares better than the city of its namesake.

Even though this place is way too girly, it has some taste. Its like if Ivanka designed it. Would take all the veggies off the menu and replace them with meats. 

Carthage Must Be Destroyed is located at 222 Bogart St, Brooklyn, NY 11206