Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York City Sweets- Max Brenner

                  Today's topic will be on Max Brenner. Max Brenner is advertised as a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, but is mostly known for its chocolate. It began as a chocolate shop in Israel created by two men, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, around 1996. Later, Max Fichtman left, leaving Oded Brenner to handle things. This is the bald headed face you will usually see in the restaurant,whose public name is a combination belonging to two seperate individuals.

                   Max Brenner was a place I heard of from my friend, who told me," they have good but expensive chocolate", and the restaurant was rather fancy. Well, with me having the sweet tooth that I have, and enjoying the decadence of fancy things, I made a vow to go to this place, and take her with me. (She went twice before, so it was her third trip there.) There are two locations in New York, though only one seems to be listed on the official website. We went to the one in Union Square, which was quite spacious. The other address is on this list, a site stating their products are Kosher.
        When we went, it was around the afternoon, so we had to wait about five minutes before we were seated. When we sat down, we were placed around the back, where we got a rather nice view of most of the restaurant. Now, my younger brother also came that day, and as I was about to order food, he and my friend voted against it since they already ate. I, on the other hand, held my appetite for lunch that day and didn't have any food beforehand, but I was like, "What the heck? Might as well indulge and have dessert for lunch; it's not something I do everyday." I ended up purchasing a Strawberry White Chocolate Truffle drink, which was so good! (However, since it was a specialty and not a fountain drink, you don't get refills.) We decided to all order one big dessert, which resulted in buying a concoction called," Chocolate Pizza." This being my first time of ever hearing about a Chocolate Pizza, we decided to buy a pie with roasted marshmallows. In case you were wondering, it had no tomato sauce or anything else in a typical pizza. It gets its name cause it looks like a pizza; it has a breaded dough that is shaped as a round disk, and they splatter it with chocolate sauce and whatever toppings they have listed for it, which you can get however you want.
                   It was interesting, and rather tasty. The sauce was thick and a tad sharp, but easy on the stomach, and the marshmallows complimented it well. The pie wasn't a huge pie; each slice was about two inches, but I was full after two slices. XD I didn't regret it though, I made sure to devour every bite! Overall it is something I would recommend to try, even once.
              In the end, as we were ready to leave, we learned of a strange policy the place had on tipping.  A word of advice for those planning to visit; if you do not have a credit/debit card, and are only carrying cash, try to bring alot of singles and change. If you give the waiter cash that isn't the exact payment, they assume the change is their tip, so just be careful in that department.
            (If you were wondering why I didn't understand this earlier, it was never stated in their shop anywhere for one, and in my history of visiting cafe's or restaurants, if I'm not in a shop that has a tipping jar, most restaurants I've attended expect you to leave the tip on your table before you leave, or tell them in advance before they take the check.)

                                                         Entrance of the restaurant.

                                  Some dim lights and old music; a good place for a date!

                                                "Look Mom,Willy Wonka is Alive!" XD

A slice of the "Chocolate Pizza." Yum! XD
             Thanks for reading this far! All articles I got information from are listed below:
             NY Magazine
             Philly Article on Max Brenner
               Facebook (U.S.A)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brooklyn, New York Sweets- Little Cupcake Bakeshop (Update 2014)

     Today, let's talk about the Little Cupcake Bakeshop.The shop opened up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a few years back,around the mid 2000's. (I don't recall the exact date, and the website doesn't mention it.)(Edit: It was 2005.) They have one other branch, in Manhattan, but I haven't visited it. The place is designed as a cute cafe', with chandeliers above, and some vintage photos around which compliments the jazz music they occasionally play.
         The cafe'/bakery is known for their cupcakes, but they also sell coffee products, breakfast, cakes, and other sweets like cookie bars or pudding.The place is small, but comfortable, and the prices aren't high for the food. (Though if you want to purchase a t-shirt or bag, they range around $30, since they use a portion of that money for charity.) The cupcakes have icing and are thick, but they don't have a heavy taste; you get the feeling that you want to eat another one right after you finish the first! C: I've been to this bakery many times, and every time I went I wasn't disappointed with the quality of the food, or the friendly customer service.

Taken from across the street; the official site has a closer photo of the entrance.

                                                When you purchase something,                                                  
                                                they put their logo in a pink box.              

                                                        Some of the goods. C:

                                This was the lemon flavored one; it's sweet and slightly tangy.
       This unique looking bar is the smore's bar. Has alot of melted marshmallow and chocolate! XD
 The last thing I ordered was the Fruity Pebbles Treat; this would be good with some milk.
All you cupcake fans should try this shop!
     Do you have any cupcake shops in your town?
                                                                  Pages: Facebook
       (Update 2014: I wanted to show the raspberry sweet tea I got and the blue velvet cupcake; it was great!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Sweets- Cortas Rose Drink

           I'm going to talk about a drink I'm sure most people in the United States haven't tried,(and yet it was purchased in a shop located in New York!) Cortas Rose Drink is a sweet drink that tastes like rose,( yes, the flower.) When me and and my mother decided to take a walk one day, we arrived in the Middle Eastern district of town in Brooklyn,New York. ( If you're curious it's around the 70's street in Bay Ridge, in 4th and 5th avenue.) I noticed a sweet shop that had pastries outside, so we went in to have a look. I was thirsty, and noticed a small bottle with red liquid inside. Since it had a unique flavor, I asked my mother to purchase it. Well, I'm certainly glad I did that! It was love at first taste. XD

         The company that makes the drink, Cortas, originated from Lebanon, as stated on their " About Us" section.  However, it seems they do not sell to regular consumers, but as a retailer to small businesses.  (They also sell a syrup version to mix with water, so you can make the drink yourself.) If you want to try the drink, your best bet is to look in Middle Eastern shops, or ask if they can order it for you. (If I find a shop list in the future, I'll publish it here.)

The drinks are sold in glass bottles, so I had the idea to put coins in it. It was nice for the few weeks it held up.... XP
(Excuse the photo quality; it's old and from a cell phone.)
Actually, I briefly mentioned it, but the macaron shop had a rose flavored one which I purchased. ( It tastes pretty similar to the drink actually! XD)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brooklyn,New York - Let's talk About the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

       So, in my last post, I mentioned about Bay Ridge, a neighborhood located in south Brooklyn. Well if you're new to this part of Brooklyn, one of the things you might notice is the giant suspension bridge in the distance. This would be the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, (though everyone I've talked to just call it "The Verrazano Bridge.")               
                                                             MTA website                                                           
                                                             NYC Crossroads
         Like the two articles mention, at the opening of the Bridge in 1964, it was the world's longest suspension bridge.Today it ranks 8th on the list, and has become a type of national landmark that tourists like to see. The locals or tourists still use it to get from the rest of New York to Staten Island. So, how can you visit it? The bridge has no pedestrian lane, so you can't walk on it.There is however, next to the water, a promenade for walking, so you can take photos of it below ground, going right under the bridge.  It's usually couples, families, old folk, and joggers in the area. The area can get rather dark in the evening, even with lights, so it's advisable to go with someone if you want to see it at night.
                                                A view of the bridge at the promenade.
                                                           The rest of the bridge.
  A view of the promenade around sunset.

 A better view of the promenade.
The highway is next to the promenade but it's fenced off in many places.If you want to come here by car, you can enter from the highway to a parking area and walk.
Do you have any national landmarks nearby?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Omiya Sushi - Brooklyn,New York

          So, the first few posts were about shops located around different parts of Manhattan, but what about outside of Manhattan? Another borough I'm familiar with is Brooklyn. So, here is my review of a small Japanese restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

          How many of you have tried Japanese food? Omiya was actually the first Japanese restaurant I've visited, and went there when I was invited by a friend. My friend, who has visited Japan, said it's more of an American interpretation of Japanese food, but likes it regardless.

        So how was it? Like the name suggests, the biggest portion of their menu is reserved for sushi.Their menu is very unique, as they name every type of sushi they make. (Some examples are "Rainbow" or "AK47".) The outside of the shop looks small, but the interior has alot of space for tables and chairs, so you can move around.Since I am not a fan of eating raw anything, my friend offered to help choose something that was cooked. We ended up purchasing various kinds of sushi that had different types of fish eggs on them,some sweet shrimp dish on skewers, and rolls with crab meat. ( I think it was the California Roll.) All the rolls/sushi came with ginger and wasabi.(For the curious, it seems in any sushi place you go it will come with the food. The pink thing is ginger and the green is wasabi which is very hot/spicy. The wasabi is to add extra flavor to your sushi, while the ginger is to clean your mouth to avoid an aftertaste when trying a new roll/fish.)
         I mostly let her do the picking though, since I wasn't familiar with much of the menu. XD We both ordered green tea for drinks, which the waiters always refill for you. They serve the food in chopsticks, but I'm assuming they also offer regular silverware if you don't want chopsticks. (It was my third time using them but I don't think I did too bad... XD)

                  Here are some photos; I apologize for the poor quality since it was a very dim place.

Some dishes we got; I don't remember what the white thing was but the yellow is the shrimp with sweet sauce on skewers.

Taken at the table we sat in.

I remember these tasted very good; I'm pretty sure they were the California Rolls.

Outside was sunny so it helped the photo.
                                                       Outside of the restaurant.
                                                  A better view of the bottom portion.

              The restaurant had good food, but don't be afraid to ask before you order something, as not everything on their menu lists what is in them. The waiters mostly keep their distance and only come when refilling drinks or removing plates, so it's not a place were you feel crowded or pressured to leave every 10 minutes. (I've been to places that do this.) So if you're in this part of town, go give it a look. C:

Friday, September 23, 2011

New York City Sweets- Macaron Cafe' (Update 2014)

          How many of you have heard of macarons? Most likely, you might have seen photos of them in the web but didn't realize what they were called.Or, you might have heard of a similar sounding sweet, the macaroon, which is a coconut pastry. Macarons, for the curious, are a french sweet made out of almond and sugar. It's a cookie confection that usually has a cream, or jam filling, and each one will be a different color. After hearing from various different places on the web of how good they tasted, I, having a big sweet tooth, went on a hunt to get some. After some digging around it seemed a macaron craze had grown in New York City. And so, after much debating, I decided to try the macarons made at the Macaron Cafe'.
         We went to the location in Madison Avenue, near southeast of Central Park. The cafe' has a light food menu, but me and my friends went straight to the macarons that day. I remember getting a rose flavored one and an almond one. It was very sweet and soft; and also light; something like this would be very good with tea or coffee. C: If you're tempted to try some, then you're in luck; in the website I linked to, they ship everywhere nationwide.

The front entrance sign...
   Their display window has a metal design in the shape of a dress, covered in macarons! Sorry for the glare, it was really sunny that day.

I ended up bringing some home for my mother, (and friend),that day; the flavors in the bag are:
pink- rose/orange-mango/ light yellow-almond
So,if you have a sweet tooth and are looking for something new to try, go get a macaron!

 Pages: Facebook

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New York City Shop - LUSH

          Today let's talk about LUSH. I first heard of LUSH when a friend took me to visit this past summer. Her friend introduced her to it, and when we walked around Harold Square in Manhattan, she took me there.(It's across the street from Macy's.) For those who don't know, LUSH is a cosmetic shop that has alot of products for vegetarians and vegans. They mostly sell handmade lotions,bath products, perfumes, and small trinkets.
          When we went there, the first thing I noticed was that all the workers that day were girls. (This didn't surprise me, considering most of their products are targeted towards females.) When me and my friend entered the store, we were greeted by a pretty hyper and cute sales girl. The girl gave us a tour of the store, giving us a small history lesson about the place and pointing and explaining about everything in their inventory.
         The most theatrical event from the visit was when we went towards the Bath Bombs. These are balls made to fizz out in your tub, and contain oils and butters and sometimes glitter designs inside them. When we went to them, the sales girl offered to show us a demonstration of how they work. With a big yell, she said to her coworkers," Hey girls! I'm gonna explode a Bath Bomb!" The reply was alot of yelling and cheers. Well, when I saw her put that bomb in the hand tub, I already knew what my first purchase would be. Her putting that ball in the water, and watching it explode and turning everything in the pail pink, reminded me of a sorceress doing some wierd magic spell. XD

They also had something I never saw before...Jelly Soap! It feels like Jelly but is a body/hand soap.

Overall, I was very happy with the customer service at LUSH, and very pleased with the products I purchased. I intend on stopping by again in the near future. If you're in the city, give this shop a try!

Update: I'm adding this because some people asked me about this; LUSH products can be purchased online at their website and they originated from Britain. Their New York branch is one of many.