Today: Sugar and Plumm Opens Second, Mini Location Downtown

Upper West Side’s whimsical bistro/bakery/café Sugar and Plumm opens a second location today in the West Village that’s truly the sweeter baby sister getting all the attention. Smaller-sized and with less of a bistro bent, this new downtown spot is more of a carry-out operation, making it that much easier to justify “just running in for something real quick" – that something being a flaky chocolate croissant, banana chocolate macaron, or towering brownie sundae. And if you too enjoy some attention, grab one of the few stools in the front, and give passersby a fine view of you shoveling dollops of whipped cream.

Get the inside-scoop on the new Sugar and Plumm, and follow Bonnie on Twitter here.  

The Top Alcoholic & Creative St. Patrick’s Day Desserts

Whether you’re heading to a St. Patrick’s Day potluck or intending to fawn tipsily over a plate of sweetness at the end of your pub crawl, the mission is clear: you need something sweet and St. Patrick’s-themed. Thankfully, some of NYC’s best dessert spots are offering special treats that lovingly combine not just the green theme, but also alcohol. And here they are:

The Beer Cream Puff at Puddin‘: Soda bread-inspired puff with an orange glaze, cherry compote, and filled with pudding soaked in Brooklyn Brewery’s Dry Irish Stout. Info here

The Black & Tan cupcake at Sweet Revenge: Chocolate cake infused with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, topped with ChocoVine-laden cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Banana Bread Pudding at Bounce Sporting Club: Topped with butternut squash ice cream and paired with three homemade Jameson shots: banana, eggnog, coquito. Get it Sunday at their Sunday Funday party, info here.

The Irish Chocolate cupcake at Sprinkles: Belgian dark chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s Irish cream cheese frosting. Info here.

The Leprechaun Milkshake at Melt Shop: Green vanilla milkshake topped with four-leaf clover sprinkles. Info here.

The Guinness Chocolate Cupcake at The Windsor: Guinness-infused chocolate cake with Bailey’s buttercream, served in a jar. Info here.

Discover the latest parties & openings with the weekly BlackBook Happenings email, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

 

Photo: UrbanDaddy

Fried Chicken & Childhood At Williamsburg’s New Sweet Chick Restaurant

Want to be a kid again? Eat waffles for dinner and cookies from a cookie jar? Read from a colorful chalkboard and devour Ritz cracker-crusted mac ‘n’ cheese? When you walk into Sweet Chick – Williamsburg’s new & first-ever “refined” southern spot  – you are signing on to an evening of childhood, with a twist. Dishes “grow up” fast, when your waffles are mixed with bacon & cheddar and topped with sweet tea-brined fried chicken, and gin fizz is added to your cup of Welch’s Grape Juice. In an evening (depending on perspective), you become either a buzzed and greasy-fingered five-year-old, or that really cool teenager you always wanted to be. At Sweet Chick, it’s a win-win.

With waffle irons hanging on the walls, communal wooden picnic tables, and foldable chairs, Sweet Chick has that homey, schoolhouse-inspired look – bringing you right back to that three-hour, colonial walking tour you took on the 5th grade Boston fieldtrip. But instead of packing PB&Js and an obligatory bus buddy, you now have the choice of bringing a date or a friend, and ordering the dry-aged rib eye. And if you need a reminder that you are in BK, there’s the requisite “Kale” B.L.T. Salad, served with bacon and tomatoes, and drenched in a creamy lemon vinaigrette sauce that defies all want for healthfulness.

But the meal shalt not commence without its star player: the Ritz cracker-crusted mac ‘n’ cheese. Somehow, Sweet Chick thought to take those buttery, empty cracker calories and dump them on pasta smothered in gruyere, fontina, and aged-white cheddar. Of course, this is brilliant.

When you have the KFC craving of your youth/stoner days, you can class it up with the Sweet Chick Bucket, filled with three pieces of fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, and collard coleslaw. And that jerky you lived on at sleepaway camp? It’s dusted on a big pile of “jerky” crispy fries.

By the time you’re done with the meal, you will have a Halloween-style bellyache. But that’s okay. It’s expected. And its only cure is the cookie jar dessert.

Sweet Chick

Food photo: No Entry Design. Interior photo: Daniel Krieger.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Cake In A Cup: Happening At The New Bee’s Knees Baking Co.

Cake in a cup. More specifically, layered cakes in cups filled with ingredients like salted caramel, milk chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse, and raspberry honey jam – even bourbon cake. Which is fitting considering the individualized cup portions are bourbon glass-sized, and slightly intoxicating (I’m looking at you, honey bourbon cake).  So of course, these cake cups are becoming a thing in the West Village, where they’re being sold at the recently-opened Bee’s Knees Baking Co. And with appearances at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, The Jade Hotel, and hundreds of weddings, the Bee’s Knees cake cup phenomenon is turning cupcakes on its head, and off its frosted, regal throne.

Opening on 12/12/12, as Bee’s Knees did, comes with a good deal of expectations. Both a doomed and auspicious day, Bee’s Knee’s has since emerged victorious, with customers rushing in at 8am for their Gorilla Coffee (only place in NYC to serve the Brooklyn-based brew) and croissants, and midday to lounge at the communal wooden table by the long front windows for some free Wi-Fi and chocolate PB cake cups.

Every day, around six or seven fixed and rotating flavors are offered, such as red velvet, lemon raspberry, carrot, PB & J, and even coconut grapefruit all baked fresh by chef Billy Mayer in a kitchen on Bowery. The most popular cup: the chocolate salted caramel – layered with chocolate cake, a thick ring of salted caramel, and roasted pecans and chocolate cake crumble on top.

So how did the cake cup idea arise? Switzerland-born co-owner Marco Stucky (pictured below) has the answer: “Americans love variety and options like nothing else,” he said. “So we wanted to come up with a cake that was as multilayered in flavor and as individualized as possible.”

Since opening, Stucky has not only lost 30 pounds from running around the shop, but has also become somewhat of the neighborhood talk show host; regulars know and love him for his easy conversation, passion for Bee’s treats, and his ability to remember your name. If you’re lucky – he’ll throw a couple of free, shot-sized samples in there to hold you over after lunch.

But Stucky isn’t the only European native in the shop. The coffee machines themselves, handpicked by Gorilla Coffee, are handmade and straight from Florence, Italy and Germany. “These are all top-of-the-line,” Stucky said. “Gorilla wanted to make sure we have the quality standards they have.”

And to test this, the drink to get is their signature Hot Nasir (named after a loyal regular, lucky guy), which blends hot caramel with a shot of espresso. Pair that with the chocolate salted caramel and, well, your morning becomes “the bee’s knees.”

Marco Stucky

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here, and sign up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email for the latest parties & openings.

Kick & Play: Dissecting The Wingtip Shoe

Last month, we shared a casual-looking wingtip that was good for that weekend-casual look. This week, we’re going to talk wingtips – but from the dapper, cleaned-up perspective. From the color to the laces, we’re diving into all the pieces of the classiest and most versatile shoe.

Wingtips originally come from the brogue shoe, a style originating from Scotland and Ireland. First used as an outdoors or country-walking shoe, it was not considered to be appropriate for social or formal occasions. Now? It’s perfect.

THE KICKS:

gravitypope: Brown

The art and aesthetic of a brown wingtip is remarkable. It’s the most interchangeable shoe when it comes to work and play. You can throw it on jeans – whether they’re rolled up or not – with socks or without socks. And when you throw it on a suit of nearly any color, it’s game over. My favorite look right now: on a blue suit or tapered jeans.

It’s probably also the easiest color to find, so you can get a good-looking pair at almost any budget.

Available nearly everywhere, but try gravitypope for $175.

Cole Haan: Grey

Cole Haan wingtips

Grey leather might be one of the hardest colors to find when it comes to a well-constructed shoe or boot. If you ever spot somebody with a pair of grey leather wingtips, trust that he or she paid a pretty penny. A more common style, but still a great look, is grey suede.

But the look and feel of a leather grey wingtip is quite stunning. That said, they aren’t a shoe that you can wear with everything. With a pair of dark jeans or pants, this pair gives a standout look. But do be careful: scuff marks don’t look as attractive on grey.

Available at Cole Haan, $248.

Wingtip Colors   

shoe colors

Feeling bold? Many footwear companies are now releasing wingtips in bright colors. From blue shades to bright yellows, there are a lot of ways to personify your outfit by sporting an unusual color. In particular, Cole Haan is a brand that definitely wins this battle, but if there’s a color you desire, it’s out there. Just keep digging.

Laces

shoe laces

Another way to make your shoe your own is to get creative with laces. Just because you have a brown or black shoe doesn’t mean your laces have to be the same. Add a little flare, and change the lace color to something completely contrasting in nature.

Laces available at your local Nordstrom or Forgetful Gentleman, $19.99-$40.00.

THE PLAY:

One Girl Cookies, New York, NY
Meet Juliette. She’ll be your best friend. Why? Because she’s a hazelnut cookie. Two hazelnut cookies, actually, with chocolate cinnamon ganache stuffed between them. One Girl Cookies is a very warm, friendly bakery in Brooklyn’s DUMBO and Cobblle Hill, where every cookie is named after ‘one girl.’ From creative ingredients in their cookies to their fun spikey buttercream on cupcakes, this is a must-visit for sweets-lovers.

Millions of Milkshakes, Los Angeles, CA
So Millions of Milkshakes has become one big party that celebrities regularly show up to. But still, they always make it about their shakes, not the crowd. This is one place in LA that really gives you the power to put whatever the hell you want in your milkshake. From the candy to fruit to nuts to powders to fudge, you select a ton of ingredients, pick an ice cream, and watch them blend. Or just go with a celeb’s favorite. Some drinks are simple (Kim Kardashian Shake: strawberries and bananas topped with whip) while some are absolutely insane (The Jabbawockeez Jabba Zabba Wokstar Shake: Nutella, cookie dough,  nuts, brownies, mixed berries, Ferrero rocher, bananas, Reese’s peanut butter cups, swirl ice cream, whipped cream, and gummy bears).  The name isn’t a joke. You can make or drink whatever your heart desires.

Sauce, San Francisco, CA
Sauce is a restaurant with a tagline: Drink. Eat. What should you eat? The dessert sampler. Why? Because it comes with all three magical creations. Cookie dough bonbons with vanilla ice cream. Fresh cinnamon sugar doughnuts with vanilla bourbon sauce. Strawberry sponge cake with Frangelico peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. This late-night café in San Francisco is just what your Friday nights need.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.

AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick and Play: Shoes. Party. Go.

Lately, I’ve heard many people talk about the struggle to find the perfect boot – the pair that you can throw on with anything and trust it to look and feel good. Sometimes one pair of boots only works with jeans and not your work pants, and vice versa. Meet the pairs that change all that.

THE KICKS:

Wodehouse Chukka by Timberland (to the left)

A brand known for work shoes and a plain look, Timberland introduced the Wodehouse collection a few years ago, and now it lives in its own realm of personal style and function. You get that same lifetime comfort with these Timbs, but look so damn good doing it.

Wodehouse’s super-comfy Chukka boots are a slightly pointed pair with wax-coated laces. They’re built as a mid-top so you can tuck your jeans in for a refined look, or let them hang for that brilliantly messy feel. Blazer, t-shirt, oxford – who cares. They all work.

Available in both black and brown, no pair is the same, since the shoes are hand-finished, full-grain leather with a worn-in aesthetic. That being said, the more you wear them, the better they’ll look. And most importantly, it’ll be your own unique fit. Nobody else’s. Available for $295 at Nordstrom.

Not loud enough? Let’s get wild.

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

For those who want something a little brighter, Cole Haan has taken their partnership with Nike to a new level by recently borrowing their Lunarlon sole technology and beautifully blending it with their very own chukka boot.

Dressed in a soft black suede with a volt (neon yellow) sole, this shoe is definitely a stunner. It’s a pair that you can wear for hours on hours and not have sore feet. With the LunarGrand, you get a great mix of casual aesthetic with traditional feel.

Also available in camel/red, grey/pink and woodbury/orange. Works great on jeans, but get bold with dark chinos. Available for $228, everywhere and here.

THE PLAY:

Smitten Ice Cream, San Francisco, CA

Hey, ice cream is good. But when you taste it at its freshest point, it just might be the best thing ever. No better way to say it, Smitten prides themselves on re-imagining the ice cream experience. Each order is made fresh, and is created from absolutely raw, organic ingredients and liquid nitrogren. Yes, liquid nitrogren. Why? Because it makes the smoothest, freshest ice cream you will have ever had, literally.

Gjelina, Los Angeles, CA 

A staple in the Venice community, the creative fusion-Mediterranean restaurant is perfect for the foodie. Seasonal menus, beautiful people, and all types of energy are here. Hey, it’s LA, right? Atypical from the typical Los Angeles characteristic, the menu is meant for sharing, so the more you order, the better you eat. Known for eclectic array of pizzas, but so good for their grilled goods like corn, shisito peppers, and carrots, Gjelina gives you great food, the LA culture and, likely, a good story. Rock your boots to brunch or dinner, just don’t ask for substitutions.

Momofuku Milk Bar and Bakery, New York, NY

Let’s call 2013 the year of the cookie. And ice cream. And pie. Is that too much? Momofuku is that creative baker-friend you always wanted. Remember sipping on that bowl of cereal milk after you finished your Cheerios? That’s the milk Momofuku uses to create their fantastic soft serve. If ice cream is too cold, try their famous Compost cookie, made of chocolate, butterscotch chips, oats, graham crackers, coffee, and potato chips. It’s one hell of a cookie. And then…the ultimate dessert – the crack pie, full of butter, cream, brown sugar, more sugar, and corn flavoring to give your palette a hit of salty and sweet. As Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi is known for saying, it tastes better “with your favorite someone.”

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well. 

Village Voice’s Choice Eats Event Last Night, Guided Photo Tour Inside

When you stick hundreds of New Yorkers into a space the size of an amphitheatre, filled with over 80 of the five borough’s top restaurants, alcoholic beverages, and desserts, and tell them it’s “all-you-can-eat and drink,” what happens?

We turn into CAVE PEOPLE. Voracious, thirsty, hungry cavemen and women. Wildly primitive desires emerged at last night’s Choice Eats event, as men and women aggressively made their way to the front of the shoelace-long lines, grabbed for the largest meat-covered crostini, shrimp roll, and bowl of salted caramel ice cream, and ran around with toppled food platters and sauce-covered fingers.
 
So we were full after 15 minutes, or we have some frou-frou diet to attend to. Who cares! For one night, we went wild. And it was oh-so-necessary.
 
Here’s our guided photo tour of the evening’s best:
 
Doughtnut Plant
 
Doughnut Plant’s peanut butter glaze and blackberry jelly donut. I’m still full, but I’m still craving this. 
 
Kafana
 
Scrumptious sausages at Kafana.
 
Bep
 
Bep’s mango salad makes healthy delicious. 
 
Ample Hills Creamery
 
Ample Hills Creamery’s Salted Crack Caramel ice cream. Made with salted butter caramel ice cream and bits of their "crack." Aptly named. 
 
Mile End
 
Mile End’s smoked meat bun. Sweet. Fluffy. Meaty. 
 
Tanoreen
 
Fried brussel sprouts topped with yogurt, tahini, and pomegranate sauce. Tanoreen does it again. 
 
Good Batch
 
The Good Batch’s chocolate chip cookies. So soft, but chewy, yet doughy. An enigma, actually.
 
Fay Da Bakery
 
Fay Da Bakery’s pork bun. Always the best.
 
S'more Bakery
 
S’mores Bakery. Toasted right infront of you. 
 
Ditch Plains
 
Ditch Plains’ mac ‘n’ cheese-covered hot dog. It’s worth the heart attack. 

No, We Haven’t Had Enough Sugar Yet: The Grand Hyatt’s Guide to Pairing Pastry With Wine

Our holiday leftover are always a wicked combination of sugar and wine, so Wine Enthusiast’s interview with Katzie Guy-Hamilton, executive pastry chef at New York’s Grand Hyatt came at the perfect time for our pantry. The Top Chef Just Desserts contestant shared her favorite wine pairings for the season’s most popular desserts.

For something velvety, meaning anything from a classic pot de crème to rich, ganache-filled chocolate truffles to chocolate pudding (no, not the Jell-O kind) Guy-Hamilton recommends pairing with grappa, like Grappa da Uve di Vin Santo from Avignonesi, for its hints of dried fruits and tobacco, which are common notes in many fine chocolates. If tapioca is part of your family tradition, pair it with an ice wine whose fruity aromas complement coconut-accented tapioca pearls. She recommends Canadian producer Inniskillin’s Vidal Icewine. For coffee-flavored desserts, Guy-Hamilton challenges you to step up your game in two ways. First, look for coffees or espressos from small independent coffee-roasting companies like Stumptown or Intelligentsia for maximum flavor and complexity, then pair with a tawny Port, an elixir that is also experiencing a major resurgence in popularity.