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
(Image via SubPop.com)
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

Image via minnesota.publicradio.org

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

Image via Stereogum.com

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.
4. SBTRKT-S/T
(Image via Sbtrkt.com)
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

Image via Tumblr.com

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

Image via Wikipedia.org

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

Image via Amazon.com

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

8. The AntlersBurst Apart

Image via Amazon.com

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

9. Wild Flag– S/T

Image via Wikipedia.org

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 Bear.net

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 Shopsins.com (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 microcosmk.blogspot.com

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)

(more…)

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

JudyJams Oct 2011 Picks: Edie Sedgwick, Future Islands, Dum Dum Girls, Twin Sister

Fall is in full swing on the East Coast, and although it has been a schizophrenic season (it’s about to snow here!), we’re happy to be putting on our sweaters and drinking hot chocolate. What I always enjoy about Fall the most, apart from the over-use of pumpkin in every food item, is the downpour of new releases:

1. Edie SedgewickLove Gets Lovelier Every Day

Image via Dischord.com

Seeing this in my inbox filled me with the kind of happiness that only records from Dischord can offer. I was late in the game to discovering this band, and never really got into DC staple El Guapo (lead singer Justin Moyer’s other, more well-known Dischord band). To tell you the truth, I found the whole “cross-dressing as Edie Sedgwick on stage” thing rather bizarre. Bu the music is so good. It just doesn’t matter. If you’re a big Dischord fan like me, and miss Q & Not U terribly, this is not to be ignored. I’ve included the wonderfully weird video for the lead single “Silver Bullets” just to convince you how worth your time Edie Sedgwick is:

2. Future Islands– On the Water

Album cover image via FutureIslands.com

Future Islands is yet another band that I’ve been rather blatant about my love for. Their debut Thrill Jockey full length In The Evening Air continues to have a steady rotation on my iPod over a year later. Their sophomore follow up On The Water is a worthy successor, with songs like “Where I Found You” and “Before the Bridge,” that give the listener an intense need to dance. You can preview all the tracks here.

3. Dum Dum Girls Only in Dreams

Image Via Wearedumdumgirls.com

If you haven’t heard of these ladies, then you’ve been under your rock for way too long. Last year’s debut I Will Be managed to stand out in the crowd amid a girl group onslaught (we’re not complaining!), with catchy, upbeat  songs like “It Only Takes One Night.” Their follow-up Only in Dreams continues the trend. My favorite track on this album so far is “Bedroom Eyes,” which you can listen to here, along with several other new tracks.

4. Twin SisterIn Heaven

Image via Twinsistermusic.com

After putting out two excellent EPs out, Twin Sister left us in wont for a solid full length to bite our teeth into. They have delivered with In Heaven, which gives them room to show their vast range. They waver between sweet upbeat indie pop, and slower, retro-ballads with a late 50’s-early 60’s influence. If you’re unfamiliar, you can listen to the new single “Bad Street” here, and please do check out the video of one of my favorites off of the 2010 EP Color Your Life, called “All Around and Away We Go”:

Only four picks this month, but the month is almost over and there are more to come. Enjoy the rest of your October!

October 29, 2011 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

CMJ Preview 2011

It’s that time of year again, perhaps one of the busiest music moments in NYC: CMJ. Hopefully you’ll get out there and see some shows! If you’re not getting a badge for some industry-related reason, or you’re not getting a discount, don’t buy one! Just buy tickets to individual shows! Here are some suggestions of whom to see, with some brief descriptions:

1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Image via Stereogum.com

Amid much internet buzz, the New Zealand band Unknown Mortal Orchestra are dipping their toes in the US touring scene with a big stop at CMJ 2011. They are sure to be one of the “must see” bands this year, and with such a catchy single like “FFunny Frends” it’s hard to imagine that the hype is wrong. The full album sounds like a lost Beatles B-side compilation from the Sgt Pepper era. See them live several times this week: Thursday Oct 20th in the afternoon at the Puma Store, and in the evening at Cantora Labs Smartlounge, and Saturday Oct 22nd at Brooklyn Bowl.

2. Small Black

Album cover via Small Black Blog

Small Black stood out among the throngs of bands trying to be heard during SXSW this year, so I’m very grateful that they will be playing (multiple times) at CMJ this year. Their debut album came out last year and they have been touring ever since, spreading the good, fuzzy electro-pop vibes around town. See them live in NY this week: Wednesday Oct 19th at Cantoras’ Labs Smartlounge, on Thursday Oct 20th at Tillman’s, and on Saturday Oct 22nd at both Mercury Lounge and Pianos. (The last two are late night shows so drink your coffee if you want to attend.)

3. Metronomy

Image of Metronomy via RcrdLabel.com

I’m still kicking myself with regret that I missed Metronomy’s past few NY shows, especially the free summer show at South Street Seaport. Luckily, the British band is back and gracing us with their presence this CMJ. I’ve been a fan since their second full length, Nights Out, came onto my radar,  and while I haven’t heard this year’s release (The English Riviera) I can only imagine it will be more of the same upbeat dance-rock. See them live on Thursday Oct 20th at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

4. Emil and Friends

Image of Emil & Friends via Cantora Records

A relatively new band on my radar, Emil and Friends are another CMJ buzz band on the precipice of breaking out. Fronted by Emil Howard (and starring other “friends”), you can tell that the project is good-natured fun, not a serious hit machine. The music has a summery, chilled out indie-rock feel without being too saccharine. See them live Friday Oct 21 at Bowery Ballroom and Saturday Oct 22 at The Delancey.

5. Mice Parade

Image of Mice Parade via Fat Cat

It’s hard to believe that Mice Parade has been making music since 1998, because every new album that comes out sounds fresh and modern. Their newest, What It Means to be Left-Handed, came out last year and is more of the sweet, playful, multi-layered indie rock that we know and love. See them live on Wednesday, October 19th at Mercury Lounge.

Check out the full schedule here and make your own plan for the week! There are a ton of other bands I would recommend but due to my slacking, it’s almost time for shows tonight. Enjoy!

October 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at the Dutch

Readers of this blog should be pretty familiar with my love for Locanda Verde’s brunch. So when head chef Andrew Carmellini opened a new restaurant called the Dutch in Soho, I knew I had to have their brunch. And I was not disappointed.  The vibe is low-key and friendly, but with impeccable service, just like at Locanda Verde. And the food and drinks are also top-notch.

Wonderful cocktails at Andrew Carmellini’s new place, the Dutch.

My companion and I had to wait for a table (but not too long) so we sat at the bar and got a Bloody Mary ($12) and an Aperol Fizz ($13). The Bloody Mary was one of the best I’ve had; perfectly spicy but still easy to take down. And it came with a nice toothpick of pickled vegetables, including an amazing pickled okra. The Aperol Fizz was a blend of Breuckelen gin, aperol, lillet, passionfruit, tangerine, and cremant, a great variation on the typical mimosa.

Perfect fluffy cornmeal pancakes.

Once seated, we managed to resist the pastry board, something I’m not so good at while at Locanda Verde. We did get an order of the Cornmeal Pancakes ($17) though, which were amazing. Definitely contenders for best pancakes in New York City! The cornmeal didn’t keep them from being fluffy, but added a nice texture to make them unique. And they came with a delicious local blueberry compote and a nice ball of salty butter.

The softest eggs you’ll ever have, in a good way.

We also got the Soft Scrambled Eggs ($21), which come with smoked sable, trout roe, and a toasted half-bagel. It was topped with a thick dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh scallions. The scrambled eggs at Locanda Verde are some of my favorite, but these were out of this world. When they say soft, they mean soft–as in almost liquid, with a grits-like consistency. Divine. The smoked sable was fabulous and the trout roe were large and fresh. My only complaint–I wish they gave us a whole bagel instead of just a half.

If you like oysters, they have a huge raw bar. They also have a burger and sandwiches, as well as fried chicken available during brunch (that all looked delicious), if that’s more your style. Are the prices a little bit absurd? Of course. But when our bill came they charged us about $4 less for each food item, I have no idea why. So I was perfectly happy with the value, as it was definitely one of the best brunches I’ve ever had.

October 2, 2011 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 11 other followers

Like us on Facebook!

Like this at Facebook!

Contact Us

toastandjamsblog@gmail.com