Eating My Way Through New York: Won’t Break the Bank

The smoked chicken sandwich at Roberta's.

The smoked chicken sandwich at Roberta’s.

Roberta’s

The iconic New York pizza may be a huge, greasy, foldable slice. But Roberta’s in Brooklyn is where true pizza connoisseurs flock.

At this funky place, you enter this cement fortress of a building through scuffed wooden doors to a alpine-lodge-like dining room crammed with long, wood communal tables.

A bird-eye view of the pizza making.

A bird-eye view of the pizza making.

The dining room at lunch time.

The dining room at lunch time.

The massive wood-fired pizza oven is to your right. You get a clue as to how much attention they pay to the pizzas here when you see a pie go into the oven. It’s never left alone for long. The cook is regularly rotating it, and lifting it, leaning the edge of the crust toward the flames to kiss it with char before turning it again and again.

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Eating My Way Through New York: Sweets and Snacks

Behold the Triple Black Donut at the new SuperMoon Bakehouse.

Behold the Triple Black Donut at the new Supermoon Bakehouse.

Supermoon Bakehouse

Wacky. Weird. Wild.

At Supermoon Bakehouse, you’ll find some of the most mind-blowing baked goods you’ve ever laid eyes upon.

But then again, they are the the handiwork of baker extraordinaire Ry Stephen, the creator of the Cruffin and co-founder of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco.

What luck to have it open its doors in the Lower East Side the week we were in New York, too.

At this place, there's a sense of fun in everything they do.

At this place, there’s a sense of fun in everything they do.

Pastries displayed on a long counter make photo-taking easy.

Pastries displayed on a long counter make photo-taking easy.

You’ll find Cruffins here, and a whole lot of other unique pastries that sport a strong foundation of crisp, buttery, airy layers — then go wild with imaginative fillings, colors and designs.

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Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars — For Times When You Can’t Decide

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

 

When it comes to switching jobs, breaking up with a significant other, moving to a new city or other countless life decisions we hesitate to make, how many of us have gotten out pencil and paper to make the proverbial pros and cons list?

Hands, please.

I know I have. Plenty of times.

It always helps. Even if I’m often startled to see how lopsided the count ends up being.

Thankfully, there are times when you don’t have to choose one over another. It’s rare. But occasionally, you can enjoy the best of both worlds without having to wrack your brain to take a side.

“Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars” is just such a case.

Do I want a brownie? Or do I want a butterscotch blondie?

Hmm. Why not indulge in both?

With this recipe, you get exactly that. It’s a fudgy brownie on top of a sweet blondie. It’s two treats in one — in every single bite.

The recipe is from the oldie but goodie cookbook, “The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook” (Chronicle Books, 2008), of which I received a review copy when it was first published, and has since had a prominent place on my bookshelf.

essential chocolate chip cookbook

It’s by longtime food writer and cookbook author Elinor Klivans. And it includes every type of chocolate chip treat under the sun — from “Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies” to “Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cream Tart” to “Hot Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae Cake.” Is it any wonder that I’ve kept this book so long?

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An Expanded Menu At Saffron Indian Bistro

Filled semolina puffs at Saffron Indian Bistro.

Filled semolina puffs at Saffron Indian Bistro.

 

If Michelin one-starred Rasa in Burlingame is the glam, attention-getting younger sister, then Saffron Indian Bistro in San Carlos is the dependable, dutiful older sister.

Before opening Rasa in 2014 to universal acclaim, restaurateur Ajay Walia debuted his first restaurant, Saffron in 2002.

It’s been quite a few years since I last ate at Saffron. But when I was invited in as a guest recently, I had a chance to see its evolution.

It still specializes in North Indian dishes. But the restaurant has definitely upped its game in the presentations. No doubt younger sibling Rasa had an influence in that.

Easy to get to on San Carlos Ave.

Easy to get to on San Carlos Ave.

The dining room was nearly full later on that night. A steady stream of to-go food was picked up by patrons, too.

The dining room was nearly full later on that night. A steady stream of to-go food was picked up by patrons, too.

Moreover, three years ago, the dining room got a refresh. Before it was rather utilitarian. Now, the lights are dimmer, creating a warmer vibe. The walls are painted crimson and gold, and a contemporary chandelier casts a glow.

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Delicate Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

 

I’ve been intrigued by kinako ever since I first experienced its unique taste.

Take soybeans, roast them, then grind into a fine powder. What you get is this golden Japanese flour that has a roasty-toasty character with a whisper of sweetness. It tastes like a cross between chestnuts, barley tea and maple syrup.

You might blanch at eating flour right out of the bag. But with kinako, you can. In fact, it’s often used to garnish desserts, such as by sprinkling on shave ice or as a coating to roll mochi balls or chocolate truffles in. It also can be incorporated into the batter and dough of cakes, cookies, and another baked goods.

Find it on the shelves in small bags at Japanese markets, then give it a try in these cute little unfrosted cupcakes.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

“Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes” is from the new cookbook, “Cook Japanese At Home” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kyoto-born Kimiko Barber, who teaches Japanese cooking and is the author of a handful of other Japanese cookbooks.

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