Eat This: Bread from Bien Cuit

Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY

Bien Cuit, a bakery that opened its doors this summer in Boerum/Cobble Hill, is everything a good bakery should be. Pre-opening buzz was intense; baker/owner Zachary Golper had worked everywhere from Philadelphia to Provence, cultivating his bread-making expertise. The shops sells a variety of breads and pastries, as well as premium coffee.

Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY

On a recent visit, I stood in front of the pastry case for a good ten minutes before deciding I needed something hearty and savory for breakfast. I was soon face-to-face with a beautiful lamb bacon frittata perched on a gorgeous brioche roll slathered with tarragon mayonnaise. It was all I could do not to wolf it down, as I tried to savor the bits of bacon and fluffy brioche.

The chocolate chip shortbread is the diamond-shaped cookie at the top. Photo courtesy of Bien Cuit's website.

The chocolate chip shortbread is the diamond-shaped cookie at the top center. Photo courtesy of Bien Cuit’s website.

Next time, I heeded the siren call of the $1 chocolate chip shortbread cookie. Honestly, at such a small price tag I wasn’t expecting much, but my god, this is no ordinary shortbread and graciously underpriced. Crispy, buttery, chocolaty, what more could you ask for?

Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY

I also brought home a half-loaf of the miche, Bien Cuit’s spin on sourdough. Again, this is no ordinary sourdough, using a combination of rye and wheat flour and left to ferment for a record-breaking 68-hours. My husband and I agreed this was the best bread we had ever tasted and the giant half-disc barely made it through the night.

Just reading their menu makes me drool; I can’t wait to go back for another sampling.

Bien Cuit, Brooklyn, NY

December 4, 2012 at 11:42 am 1 comment

Eat This: The Perfect Croissant?

Having never been to France, I realize I may not be qualified to give my opinion on this, but I think I’m qualified to judge what tastes good. I’ve always loved croissants, even bad ones. Really, anything with butter makes me happy. But a good croissant is truly something to behold: flaky, buttery, airy yet substantial. YUM. When I was in Vietnam in February I took advantage of their past French colonialism in the form of food and had several delicious croissants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The croissant from Fresh Garden Bakery in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Back in New York, some of my favorites include the pretzel croissants at City Bakery and Bouchon Bakery’s buttery treats. But my absolute favorite has got to be from Ceci-Cela, in Soho. Aside from the fact the shop is so adorable, the croissants are buttery perfection.

Ceci-Cela’s croissant.

Ceci-Cela’s storefront on Spring Street.

The charming interior of Ceci-Cela.


Fresh Garden Bakery: 47 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam

Ceci-Cela: 55 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012

August 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

On Hiatus for Winter-Spring 2012

Hello friends! As most of you have probably noticed by now, the posts have slowed to a crawl since December. With DevoLT off on her traveling adventure around the globe, Lindsarella in Boston, and JudyJams in NY trying to plan a wedding, we’re all over the place (literally and metaphorically). This blog has always been a collaborative effort, and we hope to continue that when we are all united again on our fair shores. Please do keep checking in and stay updated, because we have a lot more to say, write, eat and listen to. Happy belated 2012!

March 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

JudyJams’ Top Album Picks for 2011

I decided to forgo my picks for Nov/Dec since this close to the end of the year, online music coverage is basically a race to the finish line for top 10 lists. I’ve spent the past few weeks revisiting my favorite albums, many of which I have highlighted in my picks throughout the year. Here is what I came up with, and I apologize for going a little overboard in the descriptions of the Top 5:

1. Washed OutWithin and Without
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This record received so much gushing press before its release that I almost didn’t bother listening. I’m so glad that I didn’t trust my instincts. Washed Out’s debut is a well-balanced, perfectly graceful album that I want to listen to over and over again. In the coldest months of January, I’ll be grateful to have such relaxing, summer songs on my iPod as I trudge through the snow.
2. Bon Iver– S/T

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This man can really do no wrong in my eyes (perhaps the last song on this album was WAY too ‘80’s for me, but I can overlook it). It was thought that nothing could satisfy fans after such a powerful debut like For Emma…, but the self-titled follow-up really hit the mark. It was a slow burn for me, but it really hit home after I saw him live over the summer. I love when artists mix things up a little bit from album to album, and I see Justin Vernon doing that for the rest of his career.

3. Toro Y MoiUnderneath the Pine

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Toro Y Moi’s sophomore album is exactly the type of music that I needed when it came out: fun, quirky, and a good time every time. Each time I listen, I discover another song that I love. His mix of dancey, disco-influenced songs combined with smooth electro pop beats is expertly constructed.
(Image via
An eclectic mix of a record that pairs the British DJ’s beats perfectly with a range of vocalists, including most notably Little Dragon‘s Yukimi Nagano on the song “Wildfire.” To me, this is one of the successful DJ/electronic/vocal combo albums of the year, even though SBTRKT is sure to be overshadowed by the likes of James Blake and Burial.

5. Wye OakCivilian

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After hearing so much about this band, I had to hang my head in shame when I discovered how far behind I was. Civilian was one of the best indie-rock records I have heard all year. It is an album on which literally EVERY song is good. The dual male/female vocalist pairing, with a heavy emphasis on dark harmonies, hits all the right notes for me.

6. Zola JesusConatus

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After teasing us with a dark and wonderful EP last year showcasing her beautiful (classically trained) voice, Zola Jesus finally released her full length and I haven’t stopped listening since.

7. tUnE-yArDs whokill

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Merrill Garbus is my hero, and “Bizness” is one of the best songs of the year, hands down.

8. The AntlersBurst Apart

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A very successful sophomore effort that made me go back and reconsider the debut.

9. Wild Flag– S/T

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These ladies rule my world. Nothing will ever replace Sleater-Kinney, but this record comes pretty damn close.

10. Peaking Lights936

Image via Gorilla Vs

This was my “ignore-everyone-on-the -subway-and-enjoy-beautiful-music” record. It worked out very nicely.

(Honorable mentions after the jump) (more…)

December 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at Shopsin’s

The Shopsin’s experience is one of those NYC legends that travels from person to person like a game of telephone. Kenny Shopsin is known as the “Soup Natzi of the Lower East Side,” and has been said to be brash to customers, throw food, yell at waiters (a few of which are his children), and not to answer any questions about the menu. My friend (and brunch compatriot) and I happened to be in the city, free on an early Sunday morning, and we knew that Shopsin’s would be our destination. We couldn’t stay away, too many urban legends to conquer. But we approached with caution, even though it turned out that Kenny wasn’t even there that morning. Nothing too wild happened, aside from some cursing in the kitchen, so we’ll have to have the real “Shopsin’s experience” another time.

Now, the food: The menu itself is like nothing I have ever seen. Filled with an overwhelming array of options (including the famous Mac N Cheese pancakes), it was a hard, life-altering decision, and narrowing it down took at least 10 minutes of debate. The one thing about lots of options is that there are absolutely no substitutions, an official Shopsin’s rule. The advantage to this is that it cuts down on the obnoxious NY-er stereotype but doesn’t offer much flexibility. Check out just the breakfast page of the menu:

Image of menu via (click on it to enlarge)

And that’s just one page! The other page has a ton of lunch options (they have lunch trays!!!); there is no dinner here, because they are only open from 9 Am to 2 pm Wed-Sat, 10 Am to 2 pm on Sunday, and closed on Monday-Tuesday. We got there luckily right at 10:15. We only had to wait to be seated for about 5 minutes, and almost immediately after a long line queued up along the wall (make sure you wait along the wall by the glass doors or you’ll get yelled at!).

Our narrowed down options were rather healthy, but we had to have something decadent. Enter: the Slutty Cakes.

Image via

However ridiculous we sounded ordering these pancakes, it was worth it in the end. Pumpkin pancakes with peanut butter and pistachio nuts? Yes, please. How could we pass those up? Other pancake options included S’mores, Rocky Road, Brown Sugar  Banana Pecan, and Maple Glazed Raspberry Bacon. That’s not even mentioning the French Toast options (there is Bread Pudding French Toast. ‘Nuff said).

Our egg dishes were the Zebra (egg whites, veggie sausage, black beans, rice) and the Country Scramble with mozzarella, spinach, and avocado. They were our attempts to be healthy, and though they were delicious, we realized in hindsight that we should have splurged more. Granted, we couldn’t even finish all of our food, but those Slutty Cakes were almost completely devoured. Next time, I’m going for the Tiger Paws (egg and cheese sliders).

FYI: If you’ve been to Shopsin’s already, and want to recreate some of the recipes at your house (there are a ton of foodie websites that document these recreations), you can buy Kenny Shopsin’s cookbook here.

November 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

Fright Night Music Mix

Just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, we ghouls put together some spooky tunes to soundtrack your festivities—whether they involve bloodsuckers, brain eaters, and witches, or just a quiet night of candy binging. Get bloody hammered to the sounds of Goblin, the Cramps, Iggy + the Stooges, Zola Jesus, Tom Waits, X-Ray Spex, the Misfits, and more. Check out the tracklist below.

Click to download : Fright Night

Happy Halloween, fiends! xx

—TNJ w/ guest mix-maker Kevin Munley

“Human Fly” by the Cramps

“Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (song by Tom Waits)


October 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm 1 comment

Eat This (Abroad): Breakfast in Israel

This will be my first report of many on breakfast and brunches abroad. I’m off on a 6-month journey that has already taken me to Israel, Turkey, and now India, and will take me in the future to various countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and New Zealand. Naturally I will be eating lots of breakfasts in lots of places, and I will write about them here! Hope you like it!

A typical, simple Israeli breakfast usually consists of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, one or two kinds of cheese (often one a salty feta-like cheese), hummus, pita, and hard boiled eggs. Our first grand breakfast was at a guesthouse in northern Israel where we had a traditional Druze (Syrian-Israeli) breakfast, which was an amazing spread. You can read more about it here.

Shakshuka is often served in a cast iron pan.

Shakshuka also usually comes with some kind of pita or bread. This one came with a delicious, fluffy focacia topped with za'atar, Israel's unofficial national spice.

Another classic Israeli breakfast is a baked egg dish with tomatoes, onions, and sometimes peppers, called shakshuka. I had a delicious one at Cafe Yankale in Herzilya. In Brooklyn, you can get this yummy dish at Miriam in Park Slope.

You can have Mocha from an easy-to-drink carton...

...or the traditional, and cheaper, bag. Just bite off the corner and sip!

If you don’t want a whole meal, you can stop into any convenience store and get Israel’s version of iced coffee to go: mocha. Yotvata (a dairy kibbutz near Eilat) makes my favorite one, and you can get it in two forms: a carton or a bag. It’s a sweet mix of coffee and chocolate milk, which is made extra delicious by the absolutely amazing milk produced in Israel. If you love fresh dairy, this is your country.

Pomegranate juicer in the old city of Jerusalem

Another option for a liquid breakfast in Israel is to stop by one of the many juice stands in the country. When I was there pomegranates were in season so their juice was prominently available. Yum!

If you’re in Jerusalem and looking for a more international breakfast/brunch, Kadosh (on Shlomzion Hamalka Road) is an excellent choice. It’s got a chic, but cozy decor and the food (not just breakfast) is delicious.

Kadosh's interior is cozy and hip at the same time.

You can see part of the breakfast menu at Kadosh here. So many decisions!

I went with the Crunchy Smoked Salmon, which was truly divine. It is a nicely-baked croissant loaded with two poached eggs, smoked salmon, and their spin on a hollandaise sauce, which involves poppy seeds and anise. It came with a nice salad and my choice of drink, so I went with freshly squeezed carrot-orange juice.

Isn't she a beauty?

Here's her insides: perfectly poached eggs and loads of smoked salmon with an excellent hollandaise.

Is there anything better than fresh-squeezed juice in the morning?

After all this I was pretty full, but when I saw a halva-chocolate babka on their menu, I couldn’t resist. A few days earlier I would have had no inkling as to how yummy this cake is, but I had eaten it at a fantastic bakery/cafe called Nadav Kinuchim (Nadav Desserts) in Ramat Yishai. That halva chocolate babka was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and their other cake and bread displays were mouth-wateringly good. I pretty much can’t wait to go back there next time I’m in Israel and anywhere near it (it’s about 1/2 hour from Haifa). Here’s a bit more information. But alas, I did not have my camera with me then. But I did at Kadosh, and while their version wasn’t quite as good, it was still delicious. Many people don’t like halva, but I have grown to love it these last few years; the trick is it has to be good halva and in America that can be hard to find. But the halva in this combination isn’t so pronounced, it merely lends a sticky, crunchy texture to the chocolaty babka.

Isn't babka the best?


Nextup: breakfasts in Turkey!

October 31, 2011 at 8:36 am 5 comments

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