Monday, February 28, 2011

Passion Fruit Pineapple

The last custard flavor we tried in February was passion fruit pineapple. For the first time in our Shake Shack history, we tried every single flavor offered that month on the custard calendar! What an achievement!

This custard was good. It had a nice citrus flavor and was refreshingly different from most of the others that we've tried there. Unfortunately A wasn't feeling very well, so he doesn't remember too much about it. But I remember liking it. I would have gotten it again but this was the last Sunday of the month!

Passion Fruit Pineapple
M's rating: 8/10

If you missed any of February's other custard recaps, check them out here:
Monday: Bee Mine
Tuesday: Bananas Foster
Wednesday: Maple Walnut Spice
Thursday: Snowball
Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookie
Saturday: Thin Mint

Thin Mint

What's your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Mine are Samoas. A likes Samoas, Tagalongs and thinks Thin Mints are tasty too. Is it any surprise that one Saturday night (the day after chocolate chip cookie, actually) we tried the thin mint custard?

It was basically chocolate with some mint flavoring. We thought they might have mixed in some thin mint cookie or some mints generally for the mint flavor, but it was a very smooth custard - just chocolate with mint flavoring. We thought if there were some textural differences in the custard from an add-in, it might be stronger. But it was still good - a nice chocolately minty flavor!

Thin Mint
A's rating: 8/10
M's rating: 8/10

Chocolate Chip Cookie

There was never any doubt that we would try the chocolate chip cookie custard flavor at Shake Shack. Chocolate chip cookie? How do you say no to chocolate chip cookie?

I thought it would just taste like chocolate ice cream. But instead it was chocolate chip cookie dough custard. It was pretty good, although not amazing or anything special. I actually don't remember much about it because we tried it over 2 weeks ago (and haven't gotten it since). I guess it wasn't all that memorable, but it was still good.

Chocolate Chip Cookie
A's rating: 8/10
M's rating: 7/10


What does a snowball taste like?

That was what we wondered when we first saw the February custard list. Snowball? Is it just vanilla ice cream?

Luckily that afternoon someone asked the question on Shake Shack's official facebook page and they answered. Snowball was coconut almond custard topped with shredded coconut. Coconut custard with shredded coconut? Well... that made my day! I love shredded coconut and sweet coconut flavors (like my love for coconut macaroons).

We were only able to get to Shake Shack twice to get snowball custard, but it was my favorite of the month. The coconut and almond combined to make a great tasting custard and I loved the shredded coconut topping. I just wish they threw more shredded coconut on top because inevitably the shredded coconut was gone before you got to the bottom of the custard cup.

A's rating: 8/10
M's rating: 9/10

Maple Walnut Spice

When the custard calendar came out for February, we wanted to try all of them except for Wednesday - maple walnut spice. It just sounded like an oatmeal flavor to us! After months with pumpkin pie and other flavors that tasted remarkably similar to pumpkin pie, we weren't sure we needed another one that was just a custard with some cinnamon spice. But then I was reading on chowhound about this month's custard flavors and someone said the spice was more of a roasted spice, like a smoky peppery type spice. We figured we might as well give it a try since it wouldn't be yet another cinnamon flavor.

It was OK. It wasn't a cinnamon spice one, and it was a smokier spice, but it was just OK. Neither of us felt that strongly about it. The custard included walnuts and had some interesting flavors. It wasn't bad but it wasn't anything great either. This was another "last chance to try it" custards so we couldn't try it again even if we wanted to, but I don't think we would be going back for it. Just like the bananas foster. But before you think all the custards this month were just "meh" ... there were some good ones. Stay tuned and you'll see! These two were the low points of the month (for us).

Maple Walnut Spice
A's rating: 5/10
M's rating: 4/10

Bananas Foster

The Tuesday custard flavor for February was bananas foster. I was intrigued by this one because I think I've had bananas foster before and I wanted to see how they would translate that into a custard. The official description according to Wikipedia for bananas foster (I keep typing this as banans for some reason) is bananas and vanilla ice cream, with a sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liquer.

When I tried it, I definitely tasted banana. It was basically banana ice cream to me. I wasn't that into it but I was hoping for more of the cinnamon/brown sugar flavor. A tasted a bit of caramel to it but all I got was banana.

Either way, it wasn't really our favorite custard. We only got it once this month (well, we got it on the last Tuesday opportunity to try it, but wouldn't have gone back on a subsequent Tuesday).

Bananas Foster
A's rating: 5/10
M's rating: 4/10

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brie, Pomeranians and Wedding Soup

Today was a really odd weather day. It was on the cold side when I left for work (wind chill around 40), quite cold when I left work late at night (wind chill around 20), but 54 degrees (no wind chill) when I went to lunch. How are you supposed to dress for that? I had my big puffy down coat (which I really needed at night) but that was way too much coat for 54 degrees!

I saw that Hale and Hearty had wedding soup today, so for once, I knew where I wanted to get lunch before I left. I've written about their wedding soup before and also just generally about my love for wedding soup. This time I ended up going to the one in Rockefeller Center. It was a split second decision, choosing between that one and the one that is 3.5 blocks from the office, and it really had to do with the cold. I ditched the coat at lunch, going out in just a long sleeved shirt and a skirt, and it was a bit chilly. Going to Rock Center meant I could walk outside for 1.5 blocks and then take the concourse. (I have a feeling that if our building were connected to the concourse, my winter/rainy weather eating habits might be totally different.)

I don't particularly like the design of this H&H. I like the ones where you get your soup, progress to the sandwich station and then to the register. This one seems a little turned around. But it was after 2, so it wasn't that crowded and less of an issue.

I was intrigued by the chicken chili so I tried that. I almost changed my mind and got the chicken chili. Almost. It was really good, and is served on top of rice. (And generally, I love chili.) But I came for the wedding soup since they don't have it all the time, so I should just get it, right? I decided to try a sample of that too. In the end, I think I went with the wedding soup because I had already committed to it, but I am keeping an eye out for the chicken chili, because comparing sample to sample, I think it might have been better (and I think it's better than the turkey chili). (With all this rambling, is it obvious that I'm not posting this from my iPhone? Still need to get a new laptop...)

With your soup at H&H, you get a choice of regular bread (I think it's sourdough, never gotten it), 7 grain bread (got today for the first time) and oyster crackers (which I have gotten every other time). I think I'm going to stick to the 7 grain from now on because it's better for you and I really don't need oyster crackers to snack on throughout the day on top of my popcorners (which I love more). (Yes, one day, I snacked on oyster crackers, popcorners and Joe's O's all day. Aiya.)

On to the sandwich. I think I've gotten the same sundried tomato chicken sandwich on ciabatta the past 3 or 4 (or more) times I've gone to H&H. It's really good! But I forced myself to try something new today and got the smoked turkey with French brie, which came with lettuce, tomato and honey mustard, on Italian stirrato bread. It was good (and the bread is definitely less oily than the soft ciabatta), but I think my standby is better. I really should try more of the sandwiches since I keep going there. Sadly, you can't "sample" them the way you can with the soups.

The last part of the post title is pomeranians. The pomeranian in today's calendar picture is hilarious to me. Doesn't it look like she's flirting with the camera? (Am I assuming it's a female dog from the flirtatious pose or the pink background? Hmm, now questioning my assumptions.) The calendar description calls her puffy. I know the subject line makes it sound like there's more of a story, but really, it's just that pomeranians are really cute.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Elsewhere Burgers

I haven't been posting much lately (at least not extensive posts with more than one picture), due to computer ... "difficulties." So, instead of a full post on Elsewhere, just passing along a special from Tasting Table that we indulged in tonight. 2 burgers and a bowl of fries for the price of one burger? Great deal. And the burger was pretty good too. One week left to take advantage of the offer!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Schnipper's Turns 2!

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen turned 2 years old back on January 27th, and some of my coworkers and I went to partake in the awesome specials they were advertising. It was an icy, cold day in NYC so we were hoping that it wouldn't be too crowded.

Birthday celebration poster

The offer was $2 hamburgers/cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion (no substitutions) with a limit of 2 per person, and $2 cans of PBR.

A tad busy...

As mentioned before, we were hoping it wouldn't be very crowded. We weren't nearly so lucky. This is a shot of the crowd at around 12:20pm. We weren't around for it, but when George Motz was around between 2-4pm, it was even more crowded.

The spread

Normally my coworkers and I avoid drinking during the day, but with the slow day at work due to the weather, and because it was a special occasion, we indulged. It certainly didn't hurt that the beer was cheaper than a regular soda either. So, two cheeseburgers, a PBR, and some cheese fries thrown in for good measure. It was certainly a good feast, and we were all satisfied.

One of the cheeseburgers

Cheese fries!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

I had a doctor's appointment today at lunch so I stopped by Popeyes on the way back and got my usual order (chicken tenders with a side). For the side today, I got red beans and rice. Yum.

When taking the photos of lunch, it occurred to me that I should clarify something. By posing my dog calendar with the food, I am in no way saying that the food, like the red beans and rice here, is dog food. More like the shar-pei is jealous of the delicious food I get to have for lunch. And it's just cute.

I always forget how much I like Popeyes. Way better than KFC.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Disappointed Again

Back in November, A ordered from Meze Grill one day when I was working late and was really disappointed with his order. We haven't ordered from them since then until tonight. I never had a problem with them, and had gotten both delivery at work and eaten there with no issues. We hoped that delivery in November was an anomaly, but unfortunately it seems that it's not.

We each ordered a "rice platter" (mine pictured above) consisting of a meat (I got chicken, A got lamb), bulgur wheat (you could choose rice), tomatoes, onions, pickles, pickled turnips, feta cheese, cucumbers and 2 sauces (I chose garlic aioli and mediterranean salsa, A chose spicy harissa and tzatziki). It came with a pita (it used to be a choice of pita and pita chips, but now pita chips cost extra). We also ordered a chickpea and tomato soup (which we have never had before and which is the cause of much of our disappointment tonight).

The rice platters were fine. They weren't as empty as the last time when A was disappointed. But to me, they just didn't seem as good as they used to be. The chicken and bulgur wheat in mine was a little dry, and usually it was much better. Overall it was just OK instead of good. We both were not very happy with the pitas. They were dry, didn't really split open, and kind of hard and chewy (and not a good pillowy chewy).

We got our order and noticed there was no soup. A immediately called and they said the soup would be there in a few minutes. They seemed to already know that they didn't send it to us. But it never came. We tried to call them twice and they didn't answer the phone. I have no idea what was going on over there but the matter is still to be resolved. Sigh. I was really hoping that other time was an anomaly since the food is pretty healthy and we could always use some healthy food options. Unfortunately the past two times haven't been nearly as good as when we used to order from them. Oh well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dee Daa

Dee Daa, "balanced Thai to go" (basically Thai fast casual), opened in Midtown East this week. Based on photos and twitter updates, it seemed like the place was packed with long waits, so I waited a few days and headed over on Friday to try it. It was 60 degrees out when I left for (a very late) lunch and a perfect afternoon for a walk.

I loved the design of the place. It was cute and modern with their signature smiley D logo everywhere. I liked the clean design, the bright colors, the wall with ingredients often used in Thai cooking along with descriptions. It's not a huge place, but there is a small seating area to the side if you choose to stay. Generally it was bright and felt inviting.

When you go up to order, they list all the "bundles" on the menu above the register. The "bundles" are combinations - your main dish plus a recommended side. The lowest priced bundle is $10, so it was really hovering at the limit of what I like to spend at lunch if I got a bundle. What's tricky about this is most people look at the menu by the registers when they order lunch (anywhere, not just here). But off to the left...

There's a full menu with everything a la carte and descriptions of all the dishes. I don't think it's inconceivable that some people might miss that and think you could only order in bundles. One thing to note about the bundles is that they aren't actually "deals." There's no discount. It's just the price of the main dish and the side together.

I was in the mood for drunken noodle, and the suggested pairings for the bundle were vegetable spring rolls and coconut milk soup. I seriously considered getting the vegetable spring rolls since I love spring rolls, but I was trying to be healthy and stay away from fried foods. And since it was 60 degrees, I wasn't really in the mood for soup. So I strayed from the recommended sides and got the dee daa salad because I was intrigued by the description.

They packed up my order in biodegradable containers with a handle. Plastic bags are optional but since I had a 5+ avenue trek back to the office, I thought a bag was preferable to walking around with just the containers and a fork.

I started with the dee daa salad, which was described on the menu as a unique salad that shows what they're all about (their words, not mine). It was supposed to have carrots, pumpkin, French beans and cherry tomatoes in a specially prepared basil vinaigrette according to the menu.

First thought, that's a really empty container. I could see the bottom! I'm not sure that's worth $2.50 no matter how good it tastes since it's just vegetables (and not very many of them). Second, the flavor was really mild and I don't think I actually tasted any basil, even though it was supposed to be in a basil vinaigrette. The texture of the vegetables was good, but as you can see from the description, it's not quite right. No cherry tomatoes. It did have cilantro though which is a big plus in my book. Generally, I thought this was OK. It was light, had a nice mild flavor, but it was also really, really small. If you're looking for strong flavors, this salad may not be for you.

On to the drunken noodle:

This had much more flavor. It was actually pretty good, even though it was also on the small side. For $7.50, many other Thai places would give you 1.5 times the amount in that little box, if not twice that amount. This one had a fairly accurate description (flat rice noodles, string beans, carrots, red chili, holy basil) if you substitute "baby corn, onions" for "string beans, carrots."

My issue with the drunken noodle wasn't the flavor or the temperature (like some of the other yelp reviewers who had issues with the place) but the price. Less than 2 hours after eating, I was ready to eat another meal. Maybe it's just because my stomach is too expanded, but it's also a small plate. I took a picture of the containers using my fork as a guide to show the size. As you can see, the containers aren't very big.

So, the verdict. Would I go back? Maybe. It's the first week so maybe they need time to work things out. But my issue was less with the food (they may have gotten the ingredients completely wrong based on their descriptions but that's OK) and more with the price, and I don't think that's going to change. There aren't a lot of Thai options in midtown, so I might find myself back there again but I'm not running back. I like their concept, I like their branding, the food was fine, but it's tough to choose something expensive when you aren't going to be that full. I was hoping to love this place and put it on my regular rotation, but I'm not sure it makes the cut. Maybe they should do a groupon-type thing and then it'll be totally worth the price?

Friday, February 18, 2011


When we visited Food Gallery 32, one of the places we ordered from was Hanok. This place had a lot of the dishes you would find at other places in K-town, and we focused in on one of them - haemool pajun (seafood pancake).

We order this a lot when we go to our other K-town faves. This version was pretty good (although not as good as some others). It wasn't very large (as you can see from the photos below, it's the size of A's hand), but at $6.95, it's about half the price of haemool pajun at other restaurants, so half the size kind of makes sense.

While we prefer the haemool pajun from some of the other restaurants in the area, this was still pretty solid and a nice snack. I would be interested to see what else Hanok has to offer when we visit again.

Dee Daa Preview

A full post on the new (not even a week old) Dee Daa in the works. But here's the preview: flavors are pretty good (although I've definitely had better Thai food) but it's really expensive for what you get. There's just such a shortage of Thai food in central midtown. What would it take to get a Thai food truck?

Tuscan Chicken

Today the weather was gorgeous (almost 60 degrees at lunch!), but earlier this week, it was cold and definitely soup weather. I wasn't looking for a huge lunch since I ate a lot of Cheerios (I may be addicted), so I headed over to Hale and Hearty.

Cute mini-dachshund!

I usually go for the half sandwich + small soup combo. For the sandwich, I got the sundried tomato chicken, which I really like for the soft ciabatta (why isn't all ciabatta that way?) and the creamy mozzarella. I've written about this sandwich before, so I won't dwell on this too much.

One thing I like about H&H is that they let you try the soups before you get them. Saves you the trouble of buying one and finding out that it's really not your thing. Usually I'll end up going with one of the ones I've tried, but not always.

This time, I got the Tuscan chicken soup.

It came with chicken (obviously), a bunch of vegetables (I don't remember everything from the ingredient card, but there was celery, carrots, parsnips, white turnips, etc.), lemon juice (there was a distinct lemony flavor) and farro. That's another thing I like about H&H - if you want to know what's in a soup, they'll give you the ingredient card. Good for avoiding food allergies. And it's all natural.

I usually go to the H&H closest to the office but on this day I decided I needed a walk even though it was cold, so I went to a different branch (actually, the one closer to A's office). It's always interesting checking out different branches of a chain. This one had an express service area near the front with prepackaged soups. Maybe that's just new to all of them but I don't know if I've seen it before. Good if you're in a rush.

I recommend the Tuscan chicken soup if you want something healthy and tasty. Sometimes I get bored with chicken noodle soup so this is a good one to change it up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bee Mine

Mondays at Shake Shack this month mean a flavor called "bee mine." When we first heard about it, we thought it meant honey flavored, but after reading on chowhound, it seemed that bee mine was a combination of honey, strawberry and rose petal. (No idea where they got that from.) We were quite intrigued and have been waiting to try it.

The plan was to go today to get some custard, and then we saw on facebook that they were giving away single scoops of bee mine for free as a Valentines present. Shake Shack is awesome!

The bee mine flavor seemed to me to just be good strawberry custard. If there was supposed to be honey flavor in it, A was hoping for more honey. But regardless, we thought it was pretty good custard. And if we hadn't just indulged in shackburgers and fries, and had valentines cookies at home, we might have gotten a second serving. Strawberry custard = good.

Bee Mine
A's rating: 8/10
M's rating: 8/10

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tonight we went to Sapporo for dinner. A was in the mood for some ramen since it's cold, and we found ourselves there after checking out a few other places with no seats and long lines. We've been there a few times before and like them because they're quick and the ramen is good.

In addition to ramen, they also have other standard Japanese appetizers like gyoza and curry croquettes, donburi (I've gotten oyakodon before) and other specialties like sukiyaki and yakisoba.

A got the Sapporo special ramen which he's had before, and we got an order of gyoza, which we've also had before. I decided on the yakisoba, which was new to us. I think it caught my eye because I had seen a bunch of people get it at Sunrise Mart during lunch and I still hadn't tried it there, so I thought I would try it here.

The yakisoba comes with a bowl of miso soup (which comes almost immediately after you order). I liked this miso soup because it had lots of green onions.

The yakisoba plate was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. By the end of dinner, the plate was clean other than some ginger, but that's only because I had A's help. For $8.50, it was a really good deal considering how much you get.

If you're not familiar with yakisoba, it's basically pan fried ramen noodles with vegetables and meat (I got chicken), flavored with yakisoba sauce, and topped with seaweed powder. It was really good. This one also came with a side salad of cabbage and peppers with what tasted like a rice vinegar dressing. The pink stuff is the ginger, which I only used sparingly, as I'm not really a ginger person.

Generally, the yakisoba was good. There were a couple of pieces of chicken that were a little dry, but for the most part, it was good. The noodles were quite tasty and I liked the mixed in vegetables. I could get this as takeout during work (I've gotten ramen to go before), but I think it might give me food coma if I ate it all. I'm not sure that I've ever eaten yakisoba before, but it definitely goes into the "like" column for me.

Sapporo is located on 49th Street near 7th Avenue. They are cash only.

Friday, February 11, 2011


This little Pomeranian is a little too excited to see my pressata sandwich from the Cafe Europa in our building. I was really short on time for lunch and didn't even have time to cross the street. I try not to go to Europa too often, between the high prices, watery soups and going so often during my first year of work. But the chicken fajita pressata is one of the few things there that I would actually call "good" (as opposed to just decent) and is an easy choice for when I am forced to go there. That and the Thai chicken zesto. Any other suggestions for the next time I'm stuck there?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Food Gallery 32

Late in December, the long-awaited Asian food court opened in Koreatown. Food Gallery 32 is (obviously) on 32nd Street, and features multiple stalls, each specializing in different types of dishes. There's also a self-serve Red Mango in the front, and a side wall with drinks, kimchi and other cold prepackaged offerings.

A went to the food court for the first time a couple of weeks ago and today we went there together for the first time. There are so. many. choices. I remember reading in college about how the mind gets overwhelmed when there are too many options. That definitely applies here.

The registers where you order (for all the eateries) are at the front of the food court. They then give you buzzers and you pick up the food from each restaurant when it's ready.

Some of the food stalls - it was an off time but still really empty

We decided to try multiple items so we ended up with buzzers from 4 places:

We'll write up what we ordered in future posts since this one's just about the food court itself, but overall pretty good.

They also have a decent amount of seating. The second floor has a balcony area overlooking the food court with a counter and a row of tables. That's where we sat tonight. But they also have a third floor which is much more empty. I feel bad for the crepe people. Their stand is all the way up on the third floor and no one seems to know that they're there.

So many options... we'll just have to go back!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The test for me, to determine which place warrants a "lunch favorite" designation, is to determine if I would walk across town (or at least 15 minutes) for it. There are some for which I would do this but don't have to (like El Rey del Sabor, yum), but others are actually across town and I do make the trek. I don't always have a lot of time at lunch but when I do, I like to take a walk and get some exercise in along with good food.

One of these places for which I make the trip across town is Uncle Gussy's over at 51st and Park. I've written about them before and how good their sandwiches are. They had some problems last fall where the police kept trying to kick them out for no reason (and as a result had a customer appreciation day to clear out the inventory where everything was free), but hopefully that's all resolved now. Otherwise we wouldn't get affordable tasty lunches with specials made by mom!

Cute mini pinscher wants my soup!

Today they had afgolemono soup, which is a chicken lemon orzo soup (of course, made by mom). It comes in a small to medium sized cup (depends on your perspective) for $3 and it's absolutely delicious. I told A that it's too bad he doesn't work anywhere close to the truck because this chicken soup could probably cure your illnesses. Unlike other chicken soups which are watery (Europa, I'm looking at you and your watery soup bins), the soup is thick, full of orzo and chicken and so flavorful.

In addition to the soup, I picked up what I still consider to be one of the best deals for lunch in midtown - the $4 pita sandwich with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, tzatziki and hot sauce. Yum. As I've mentioned before, their chicken just seems better than chicken elsewhere.

It's all completely worth the walk through the "ice" (it's supposed to be Icemageddon but where's the ice?) and slush. You won't regret it!