Events, New York City Eats

A Ferry, A Bus, a subway ride for a cup of coffee

The latest best adaption from the West Coast is not just any cup of coffee but Blue Bottle coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Blue Bottle Coffee Bar & Roaster opened a New York City location in Spring 2010.  Originated from San Francisco and established their business from the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s market.  I had revolved our day trip with the mission of getting a cup of drip brewed from Blue Bottle Coffee with the company of my hot yoga and food enthusiast friend, Cynthia Wang.

10.16.2010 (11:00am) : Cynthia and I met at the the Hester Street Fair for the New York Magazine Grub Street Food Festival. Located in the Lower East Side, this very jam packed event celebrated local New York City chefs, restaurants and small food business around the 5 boroughs.  With over 30 food vendors from Brooklyn, Kickstand Coffee & Pies n’ Thighs to Lower East Side, Pain D’ Avignon & An Choi.  So many mouth watering choices.  What caught our eyes and appetite was first Nijiya Market presenting The Rook, a Japanese gourmet catering serving taiyaki, a Japanese pancake traditionally with red bean paste ($3).  The Rook was serving unusual fillings this included: cheese & olive oil and red bean & cream cheese.  They were pouring the pancake batter over a beautiful cast iron fish mold and in few minutes added fillings to a batch with sausage & cheese in which is what we had.  It’s definitely a children’s favorite and a nostalgic treat for adults.

One of the best things eaten at the Grub Street Food Festival, Cynthia and I agree is Il Buco’s Panna Cotta with aged balsamic vinegarette (for only $1)  Panna cotta is essentially a pudding in Italian with cream, milk, sugar and gelatin.  Il Buco’s panna cotta was creamy in texture and the balsamic vinegarette, the tart and tangy contrast nicely with the semi-sweetness of the panna cotta.  I can eat several of these.  There were plenty of samples  around like  bacon marmalade from literally they stand by their name and call themselves Bacon Marmalade to An Choi’s pickled pigs ears which was deliciously seasoned.  While coming in we spotted these beautiful handmade twisted pretzel from Sigmund Pretzelshop.   Cynthia and I shared a truffle oil cheddar cheese pretzel ($3) with homemade mustard seed and beet sauce on the side.  As beautiful as the pretzels looked, the pretzels were absolutely fresh, the mustard sauce out shined the pretzel.

Finally, we settled for Purple Yam for lunch.  Long lines for this particular food vendor is always a sign of good food.  Purple Yam a Filipino  restaurant in Brooklyn was serving a Filipino kind of soul food, chicken and ribs in a signature apple vinegar marinade and sauce over what more appropriate than purple rice ($5).  The Philippines known for their roasted pig, Lechon without a doubt the ribs was juicy and tender and the chicken meat both deboned nicely without any mess.  Purple Yam was also serving a pork belly in steamed bun ($4) which the pork again is equally as delicious as David Chang’s pork buns from Momofuku Ssams Bar.

12:30pm: With our tummy filled we made our way to Pier 11 to catch a ferry ride to Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Free, courtesy of Ikea.  Before the ferry ride, we made a beverage detour at a Chinese cafe on Allen Street.  Cynthia was struck by the idea of boiled Coca Cola with ginger and lemon she decided to have one.  Apparently, hot Coca Cola with ginger and lemon is a remedy for preventing a cold or to fight a cold, FYI.

We caught the 1pm ferry and arrived to Added-Value, a Redhook Farm for their Halloween Harvest with fresh produce for sale all locally grown in Redhook,  apples from Red Jacket Orchard, pumpkin picking, and a live band of blues.

2:00pm: We then took the free shuttle bus (courtesy of Ikea) to Smith & 9th Street to take the G train to make our way to Fort Greene, Brooklyn to do a little vintage goods browsing at the Brooklyn Flea. This outdoor flea market is one of the best in the city with many inspirational objects dated back to early 1900s.  It’s a treasure for anyone who is looking to remodel their apartment to artist who needs some inspirational references or if you’re a little nostalgic a  gift for someone to a treat for yourself.

4:45 pm: Our final destination, Blue Bottle Coffee Bar & Roaster in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Located on 160 Berry Street, you can smell the coffee beans roast from a block away and this is a fact!  The space used to be a garage and probably a warehouse of some sort but the interior space with only three bar seats and a standing counter top is elegant and edgy.  Blue Bottle is not your typical coffee shop with big arm chairs and puffy couches, it is meant for a quick and snappy experience but you are of course more than welcome to stay to relax, most likely standing or if you’re lucky sit by the bar and be mesmerized as the barista pulls an espresso shot.  There is a beautiful Siphon coffee brewed method on display and further back is an amazing space where Blue Bottle roast their own coffee on-site!  The menu is very straightforward and as much as I wanted a latte or everything, I can only tolerate one cup of coffee during late afternoon.  I chose the drip brewed coffee house blend ($2.75).  The coffee is prepared individually from precise and accurate measurement in grams of coffee beans to grind and ratio to temperature of hot boiling water and is poured over the coffee grind and patiently drips through a Blue Bottle filter.   An individually cup of brewed coffee roughly took less than 60 seconds.  The aroma was fresh and the first sip was intensely bold and an instant awakening.  Making Blue Bottle a worth while outer borough coffee destination.

See my slide show, an adventurous day trip  from Lower East Side to Red Hook to Fort Greene to Williamsburg and back to Lower East Side in all in 8 hours.  Take this itinerary, just wear comfortable shoes.

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Added- Value/// 370 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Blue Bottle Coffee /// 160 Berry Street Brooklyn NY

Brooklyn Flea/// 176 Lafayette Ave (btw. Clermont + Vanderbilt Ave.) Brooklyn, NY 11238

Hester Street Fair /// Hester St New York, NY 10002

New York City Eats

The Perfect Cup of Coffee …and Apple Cider too.

Recently, Yahoo news posted a list of 100 things that makes you happy.  Listed on top 10 was the perfect cup of coffee.  The taste, the smell of coffee is uplifting on any given day.  Coffee sets the mood and it is part of the Western culture.  Over business, a friendly outing, a routine, or just because.   As a former Starbucks barista for 2+ years and as a daily pick me up during  the middle of the day, I think I have had enough coffee in my life by now that I am certified to be a coffee connoisseur.  So here are what I have encounter on my search to the perfect cup of coffee.

Once a Starbucks barista always will be a Starbucks customer.  I do regularly crave for my usual favorite and that is the iced grande hazelnut coffee with half and half.  It is a safe choice whichever Starbucks you step into it is more or less consistent whereas the lattes and cappuccino it really depends on the  skills of the barista.  Thankfully, less than 1 mile radius from the office I work at in Chelsea, the Starbucks on 23rd and 8th ave brews close to the palette I desire.

Not very far away on 23rd and 9th ave, recently turned 2 years old is Joe the Art of Coffee. Sister branch of the original Waverly Place location which started as a mom and pop coffee shop have now expanded soon to be fifth location tailored to the Upper West Side nautical family.  Joe the Art of Coffee have made latte art into mainstream and have really set the bar for all coffee shops to require to have latte art.   Most of the design is not fancy, no Hello Kitty latte art here just the basic leaf and heart.  The balance between milk and espresso is exceptional and the baristas are hip too.

Last Friday I had Good Friday off.  Thank You Jesus!  So I decided to pampered myself on my way to pick up my half marathon gear at the 2 World Financial Center.  I made a quick coffee stop at Financier Patisserie and right opposite is of course Starbucks.  Financier Patisserie is best known for the French influence pastries.  Leading to the weekend of Easter Sunday, Financier Patisserie was festive and Easter ready with various pastries with beautiful Easter themed designs.  I ordered an iced coffee and the staffs are by far the jolliest I have encounter at a coffee shop in awhile.  Along with my iced coffee I received a little treat, a mini madeleine wrapped in a clear plastic with the Financier logo.  The iced coffee was good but the service and mainly the surprise treat really exceeded my expectation of Financier Patisserie.  Will definitely return for sweets in the future.

Packaging has become such a crucial part to marketing coffee in what coffee has become a commodity.  Remember the 50 cents cup of coffee in a “We are Happy to Serve You” paper cup.  Irving Farm teamed with a renowned graphic designer Louise Fili and created the most beautiful coffee bean packaging found in the coffee sections of Whole Foods.  Being curious,  I had to get my hands on a cup of Irving Farm at the Irving Farm coffee shop on 14th street and 7th Ave. If you like mild coffee Irving Farm is your kind of brew.  I personally like my coffee bold so the design of Irving Farm is what really makes this coffee shop standout from the pack.  The coffee shop also carries bake goods from local bakeries such as the Almond Croissant from Balthazar Bakery.  This is the best croissant I have had since visiting Paris.  The almond croissant had toasted almonds on the outside and frangipan filling on the inside. It was buttery but not overly greasy.   Though it is on the expensive side for $3.25 I shared the croissant with my family of four which is why it may have tasted so good.  Everything just taste better when you share.

Other than the perfect cup of coffee,  on the menu of many coffee shops have hot cider and no where other than Shake Shack at the heart of Madison Square Park have the best caramel apple cider with a side of munchkin donuts during the winter months.  Shake Shack Shroom Burger makes me happy too.

I have my regular go to spot but when you’re in New York City why not go explore from your comfort realm.  Coffee shops I would like to try, so let’s meet up and sip:


Grey Dog’s Coffee

Gorilla Coffee

Indian Road Cafe & Market

Stumptown Coffee