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Sugarplum Cake Shop

11 Nov

Fact: slow yodeling makes me faint. Actually, being crammed in an underground bar listening to melancholic cowboys sing so slowly they might STOP makes me faint. As in, keel over and black out.

I suspect it’s because I have an attention span that’s about as long as a slice of triple-layer strawberry vanilla cream cake – but not quite as high.

Ok enough with the segues. Let’s talk about Sugarplum Cake Shop.

It’s on Rue de Cardinal Lemoine – conveniently close to the Place de la Contrescapes should you fancy a pression in Orwell’s hood after tea time. And it’s manned by ‘Sugarplums’ who create heart-stopping deliciousness and friendly natter in equal measure.

If the Alice in Wonderland-esque wedding cake displays won’t lure you in, maybe the thought of free wifi, free filter coffee refills and these lathers of frosting will?

Sure the Peanut Butter Yummy Things are tasty, but it’s Sugarplum’s good old fashioned cheer that makes it so appealing.  You know… The fifty centimes discount because the cake was sliced a bit wonkily. The stacks of dog-eared recipe books lying on the communal table. The noisy greetings to the exchange students as they wander through the door in a fug of subjunctive conjugations.

A counter piled high with giant muffins, creamy cupcakes, hearty pumpkin pie slices and a custom-made cheesecake means this is not a place for the faint-hearted.

But the good news? There’s not a slowdeler in sight.

Sugarplum Coffee Shop
68 rue du Cardinal Lemoine

75005 Paris

Top image from Break Into Paris
Bottom image from Hello It’s Valentine


L’Arbre à Cannelle

2 Nov

In a city where the most prestigious and talked-about award of the year is for the best baguette, where people forge whole careers sculpting with sugar, and where companies ENFORCE two hour lunch breaks, it seems petty to take issue with anything even remotely food-related.

But despite my penchant for Pastis en terrasse, my fondness for bistros, and my affinity for a three course meal, lately I’ve been hankering for something a bit more low-key: the humble cafe.

Entrez:  L’Arbre à Cannelle.

Just around the corner from the toddler-strewn Jardin des Plantes, L’Arbre à Cannelle is a haven of blonde wood, heavy tea pots and, ah oui, cake.

L’Arbre CALLS itself a salon de thé, but a curious absence of patisseries and a chalkboard full of smoothie suggestions gives it the aroma of a full-blown, meet-your-mum-for-a-quick-coffee-and-a-chat kinda place.

By all reports the food here is hot-to-trot, but the café gourmand offering is worth the trip alone. France’s answer to high tea, a café gourmand is, typically, a cheerful congregation of sweet treats and an espresso, all on the one lavish plate.

At L’Arbre though, the café gourmand pairs a not-too-smooshy berry crumble with a warm slab of chocolate “brownie”, drizzles them both with thick crème anglaise and tops it all off with a piping hot allongée.

It’s not French and it’s not fancy, but for an autumnal sunset snack, c’est parfait.

L’Arbre à Cannelle
14, rue Linné – 75005 PARIS

First image courtesy of L’Arbre à Cannelle

Margo Patisserie

15 Jul

I don’t want to even write about this. I don’t want to give you the gift that is Margo Patisserie.  I don’t want you to steal one of the four tables that are perfectly sized for scribbly notebooks and a laptop and a buttery, flakey almond croissant and a really-much-better-than-average iced coffee.

I don’t want you to know about the sunshine that pours in the big street-facing windows but doesn’t get in your eyes, or the barista’s excellent taste in music, or the fact that the wifi is free and that every half an hour someone comes in asking for directions in that deliciously awkward way.  Most of all I don’t want you to get the last raspberry tart.

I love you but please don’t come here.

Photos from Yelp.


14 Jul

Inoteca brings to mind that age-old addage: ‘What they lack in manners, they make up for in gorgonzola and fig bruschetta.’

To be fair, it was only the door-bi…girl who was bossy.  The spunky waiter (actor?) who served us was chirpy, patient and didn’t let us over-order — an admirable trait in a world of small plates and sharing menus.

Figs aside, it’s hard to resist the fritto, and while the tramezzini are tempting it’s the crisp panini that the hordes of hipsters come here for. (The ones that made mama ‘ino famous.)

But I say: GET YOUR SALAD ON.  What could be better than juicy beets, slithers of orange, sharp pecorino, and fresh, fresh mint dotted with crunchy hazelnuts on a hot summer night?

Maybe a chilled glass of rosé, you say?  Ok, you can have that – or one of the 23 other wines available by the glass.

Like most four year olds in New York, this place has edge.

Images from inoteca and It Started In New York

The Dutch

6 Jul

We love things that are Dutch, right?  Tiny pancakes.  Hagelslag.   Re-using mustard jars for drinking glasses.  (Ok maybe not that one so much.)

So it follows: we love The Dutch.

Part trendoid bar, part almost-fancy restaurant, The Dutch is in the heart of Soho and blasts with flirty, shouty, 3o-somethings in shiny shoes. If you can elbow your way past the loved-up beautiful people and make it to the bar, slick bartenders will mix you up something wondrous — like a snarky New York Sour, a fresh, chartreusey  Sullivan Street Fix-Up, or a simple and elegant gin and tonic — heavy on the Tanqueray.

If you REALLY want to fit in here though, get your puppy dog eyes on… Because I’m pretty sure every Dutchman has a crush on the restaurant’s chef, Andrew Carmellini. Really.  And I’ll tell you why.

He’s no Damien Walters, but the man has skills. He is the creator of The Dutch’s sloppy duck, the champagne seafood ceviche, the creamy eggplant dip that will bring tears to your eyes — as well as something mysterious called Asian Whiteboy Ribs. The creator of a crumbly corn bread to nibble on with your drinks.  Of the sweetest rabbit potpie and house-made fries taste like they are HEALTHY.  The guy even foraged for the first melon of the season!

If you don’t lust over the chef or his late night menu, maybe it’ll be the selection of American whiskeys? The smooth, oak-lined bar?  The leafy view out of the wide open windows?  Less so the wait staff, who are either a touch snooty or just playing hard to get.

You might have missed Koningnnedag this year, but The Dutch is worth celebrating any day.

Images from The Dutch and New York Times (Evan Sung)

People’s Pops

15 Jun

If a rhubarb robot and a chamomile robot got into a war (stay with me) and then you froze them, you would have a PEOPLE’S POP.

There’s actually not any other way to describe this solid icy fruit brick-on-a-stick.  Well, I guess you could say: ‘This is better than a Dixie Cup.’  But that would be like comparing apples with some other, totally unrelated fruit.

Speaking of which, maybe you should try the apricot and orange blossom pop?  It’s like being smashed on the head with an orchard.  In a great way.

For those outlandish people who allow their herbs and fruits to co-mingle in the vegie patch, I guess the strawberry/basil combination is old hat for you.  Ditto for people who drink their morning mug of chai with a blueberry garnish. (I know you’re out there.)

For everyone else, lick it up at the People’s Pops stands at Chelsea Market, or the Highline or Smorgasburg. Drawcard: the giant hunk of ice they blade-shave if you order…ummm… a shave ice!  (Nothing but the best, mahalo very much.)

The People’s Pops peeps deserve your dollars because they’re young and gutsy, and also because they appreciate the interesting tracks forklifts can make in the snow. Tender folks, aren’t they?  Unlike fruit robots.  Those things are NASTY.

SlantShack Jerky

14 Jun

Sooooo. I ate your birthday present last night.

I know.  But let me explain. I had a couple of drinks at that rooftop wonderland Berry Park and went to bed early – really I did.  But you know how gin makes you wake up at odd times?  And makes you sift around on the net for a while? And makes you find quilted Chanel bags made out of jerky?

(Talk about glamour snacks.  Nice one Nancy Wu.)

Well, obviously that grass-fed, smoked and spiced beef jerky I got from Smorgasburg especially for you because I KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE MEAT was history.

Surely this could happen to anyone?  Anyone who is a hungry, selfish meatface?

On to the good news though — SlantShack jerky is delicious! Aside from there being nothing more medicinal than smoky, dried meat at 4am on a Sunday, this jerky is pleasantly chewy but not teeth-ripping tough.  It’s heartily spiced but not overpowering.  Apparently even their cows are happy.

Better yet, SlantShack have an online store where can customize your meat treat with marinades, glazes or herby rubs, and have it delivered to your doorstep within days.

Which means you can order your own birthday present.  And unfriend those nocturnal cured-meat-eating types with whom you might fraternize.

I’m sorry.

Image from Foodigity.


10 Jun

Is it ok to write about a place when you’ve only tried one, very delicious item from their menu?


What if it’s the cheapest thing in the whole place?

Definitely not.


Well… maybe.  But only if you’ve eaten it twice.  No, THREE TIMES. No, three times in THREE DAYS.

In that case, shut up.  Pop’s is the best vendor of BLTs in the whole land.  Yes, I’ve tried the BLTs at Redleaf.  And the ones at the Russian River Microbrewery – I think the river views might have made the bacon seem juicier there, by the way.  I hear a place in Port Douglas does a brilliant crispy-bacon version too.  But I’m just going to say it: Pop’s BLTs are better than the ones mum used to make for the F1 final.  (That’s a normal family tradition, right?)

As we all know, BLTS are the easy lover you can call on day or night and, seemingly, there’s not a lot more to the acronym than meets the eye.  But to explain the culinary genius behind Pop’s creation is to diminish it, and so I won’t.  All I’ll say is: chipotle mayonaise. It’s so good it’ll make you want to have imaginary conversations with yourself.

To get your hands on one of these tasty, meal time bridge-gappers, it’s imperative to ignore the nerdy, bearded white guys awkwardly bopping to the (admittedly kind of cool) beats oozing from their customized playlists — they might put you off your food.  Keep your eye on the bacon, my friend.  It’s worth it.

Pop’s has other stuff on the chalkboard too like chilli dogs and cheese fries and hefty angus burgers.  But for a sensual $2.75, why would anyone stray from the BLT?  It’ll love you back.  Thrice over.

Pop’s, 167 North 8th Street, Brooklyn.  (718-486-3663)
BLT image from Good Magazine

Oh Joy Brownies

3 Jun

Mmmm America.  Where it’s normal to combine chocolate and peanut butter and salt in a cake. New girl crush Joy the Baker aka queen of obscene flavour combinations in baked goods is responsible for this deliciousness.  She’s won all kinds of prizes for her blog and I’m pretty sure I’ve worked out her secret formula… What you gotta do is intersperse pictures of your mad culinary endeavours with hilarious text.  Like this…

It’s in the oven now and smells like heaven in a badass kinda way.

Sometimes on a Thursday you just need to make a batch of brownies. And then put salt on it.

You can add a crunchy topping of PRETZELS to complete the picture. But I’m just not that American. Yet.

So there you have it.

I’m betting girl crush would also like the bacon fat flavoured candy corn stall at the new food market in Williamsburg on Saturdays because bacon and toffee is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.  The market’s called Smorgasburg – of course it is – but more on that later.  Time to go eat these bad boys.  And maybe write a love letter.

Tai Thai

29 May

It’s no Thai La-Ong, but then again Bedford Avenue is no King Street.  So like finding one final milk dud in the box before you throw it out, it’s a nice little surprise to find some cheap and tasty Thai hidden amongst the hipster bars and vegan-fusion offerings in Williamsburg

Critics of Tai Thai take issue with its bizarre furnishings rather than its menu.  But both are eclectic: the majority of dishes on the menu here are ‘entrees’, but in fact are big enough to easily feed a hungry Australian, and the decor is a kitsch mix of Thai pop movie meomorabilia and Buddhist keepsakes.  If you prefer not to eat in a low-lit den of strange collectibles you can always sit outside.  Or go to the Manhatten one.

I’ve eaten my weight in cheap, dirty Thai and Tai Thai definitely goes one better.  The beef pad see eiw tasted mainly of fish sauce and, well, beef (rather than grease and MSG) and the chicken pad thai was hot and fresh, despite its stringy noodles.   Curries, stir-frys and all your favourite noodles make their appearances on the menu, and at about $10 each it doesn’t really matter how authentic they are, right?

Avoid the house wine – cheap beer is a better pairing with crispy sprouts anyway.  And while the waitresses may not earn the most enormous tip, Tai Thai’s excellent location make it a prime eavesdropping venue.  I mean people-watching.

Tai Thai

206 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211. P:  718-599-5556

Image: Eater