Friday, August 29, 2008

Love Badge

Friday, August 22, 2008

Nice Coffee

The iced coffee drinking days of summer are growing numbered, but how else is a girl supposed to do the research unless she spends most of those days with an iced coffee in each hand? I offer up this end-of-summer review of some cold coffees you can grab in Brooklyn (and Queens) for one more month. (5 *'s is the best).

Cafe Grumpy
193 Meserole Avenue (at Diamond St.)
Brooklyn, NY 11222 (there is also one in Chelsea)

Frequency card: Yes
Food: Some ?
Consistency: Pretty good
Comments: The most expensive of today's list, the coffee is good and strong with a bit of sourness. The environment is large and varied with windows and a cozy, relaxed front room and a cavernous back room. There is a bench out front.
Rating: * * * * Strong is good.

Wyckoff Starr
30 Wyckoff Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11226

Frequency Card: No
Food: Yes
Consistency: Medium. Get it together!
Comments: They have the market cornered in Bushwick, and sometimes the quality can be a toss-up. However, they have the nicest staff in NY and when the coffee is good, its good. They have ok pastries. They have some interesting new savory tarts. They have fresh orange juice. They have good bagels. They have the option of tofu or regular cream cheese, with onions and cucumbers and tomatoes. This is a great breakfast sandwich, but hard to eat. They need to SLICE these options THINNER because big hunks of raw onion are unpleasant. They have seating out front and a tiny indoor space and they play good music. It is truly a community place.
Rating: * * * * This is a great place for making connections and feeling at home. One less star for the quality problems.

4007 Queens Blvd.
Sunnyside, NY 11104

Frequency Card: no
Food: Sort of
Consistency: Decent
Comments: This Turkish grocery and coffee store has some canned and dry goods and some cheeses and coffee by the pound. I had a wonderful spinach pie for $1.25 from the counter, and they dress your cup with milk and sugar before handing it to you, like at the deli. They use sugar instead of simple syrup so it's a little grainy, but they carefully plunk in homemade ice cubes made from coffee fetched from a Tupperware container. Aww.
Rating: * * * I'm sold on the cubes.

Gimme Coffee
495 Lorimer St (betw. Powers and Grand)
Brooklyn, NY 11211 (part of a mini-chain)

Frequency Card: Yes
Food: Balthazar pastries
Consistency: Good
Comments: Gimme Coffee! really cares about coffee, and they sell coffee beans as well as coffee drinks. They seem dedicated to developing the farm-to-cup perspective meaning that they are involved in pursuing and selling fair-trade, organic, sustainable or shade-grown coffees, as well as organic milks in their stores, compostable plastics and sourcing locally when possible. As far as the iced one goes: it has a creamy texture and a balanced flavor. The red interior and the graphic logo help create a dynamic brand that is focused and simple.
Rating: * * * * * Devotion to this kind of thoughtful behavior in business earns another star. All companies should address this stuff and not need to show off about it.

Champion Coffee
1108 Manhattan Ave. (betw. Clay and Dupont)
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Frequency Card: Yes
Food: Yes!
Consistency: Awesome
Comments: The iced coffee is Americano (3 shots of espresso over water and ice) and it is perfect every time. Strong, never bitter or sour or burnt. There is a bench out front. There is a great backyard and a cozy interior. The staff is friendly. The food options are VERY good. There is a limited but quality selection of pastries, egg dishes, sandwiches, salads and a great gazpacho. I love the mini baguette sandwich with goat cheese, tomatoes and Calamata olives. Everything is appropriately priced and the logo is snappy.
Rating: * * * * * Champions.

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Closed Mouth Don't Get Fed

New Mexico July Part 4

It used to be that Santa Fe was served by many tiny local grocery stores tucked into every neighborhood. Most of these are gone, and the city has the big mainstream grocery stores. There's an Albertson's and a Whole Foods and a Wild Oats and a Trader Joes along with some successful smaller local stores like the Market Place and Kaune's Foodtown. And happily, there is still Johnny's Cash Store, a tiny one room grocery that opened in 1946 and is still run by Johnny and his family. The store is hidden up a hill in an old part of town, where the streets are narrow and twisting, and turning into the dirt parking lot could feel accidetal.

In high school, this is where we went if we had a break or ditched school and bought tamales and Dr. Pepper and individual cigarettes and sat outside on the portal to share them. The tamales are excellent and hot. This one was red chile pork and had ideal proportions of filling and masa.

Blue Sky soda is from Santa Fe and many flavors are made with real sugar. I like the grapefruit because it is not too sweet and makes a great substitute for tonic.

Johnny's also offers burritos.

Even though I bought the large bag of tamales from Johnny's, I still stopped at Albertsons to buy tubs of frozen chile. Everything (15-20 lbs) went into an insulated tote bag and got checked at the airport. It should last at least a month.