Archive for ‘Travel’

September 30, 2013

Christina Tosi, Momofuko Milk Bar, New York NY

I slowly wake up to the sound of the pantry doors opening and closing and the clatter of breakfast bowls as the kitchen begins to come to life.  The warm light peeking out over Mt Diablo gives just enough light to guide me as I scamper out of bed and head downstairs.  I slide my bar stool close to the counter so I can kneel on the seat and get a good view of our morning treats.  Ice cold milk, Honey Nut Cheerios and a topping of fresh banana for Dad. As I intensely study the puzzles on the back of the cereal box my Dad casually flips through the morning paper.

Cereal Milk Soft Serve

Cereal Milk Soft Serve

On a recent trip to New York I was instantly transported back to this sweet moment.  I place in time that I never thought could be replicated in my years as an adult.  Christina Tosi’s cereal milk soft serve with a delicately, crunchy corn flake topping instantly took me back to those mornings with my Dad.  What took me by surprise was Christina’s ability to conjure up such emotion, and bring back a past time that felt as if it had happened just yesterday.  Her ice cream confection reminded me of those mornings I shared with my Dad as picked up our bowls to savor the last drop of sugary milk at the bottom of our breakfast bowls.

The idea behind cereal milk is so obvious it make you want to smack yourself and go, duh, why didn’t I think of that.  When I met with Christina she explained her inspiration behind this dessert.

“I was in the grocery store going up and down the aisle looking for something to flavor my panna cotta.  I couldn’t just serve any old panna cotta, it has to be one that no one had tried before.  I was in the cereal aisle and thought… hm… this is either a really good idea or a really bad one. It’s either going to be really well received of they are going to be like, this is dumb,” she explained when she was asked to prepare a memorable dessert for Momofuko Milk Bar.  But once they tried her cereal milk panna cotta they knew Christina had stumbled on something extraordinary.

I was lucky to spend an evening at her warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where she greeted us with an energy and happiness that was intoxicating.  With her strawberry blonde hair pulled back with a cherry printed bandana, I felt like I had walked into a family owned farm kitchen in the Midwest.  After sampling her compost cookie, crack pie and famous cereal milk ice cream she shared her inspiration and love for baking.  For her, it’s not about recreating a classic, but constructing something new that draws on a memory or an emotion.

“Everyone has their relationship with chocolate chip cookies, they know what their favorite is, what they like in them, what they don’t like in them… there is this range.  So for me it’s about tapping into that feeling, flavor, emotion and nostalgia that makes you love your grandma’s chocolate chip cookie but sharing it in a new and exciting way that doesn’t compete with the original.”

Christina doesn’t take herself too seriously, she just wants to have fun and experiment in the kitchen and lucky for us her experiments more often than not turn out incredible.

Christina Tosi Momofuko Milk Bar Williamsburg, NY

Christina Tosi Momofuko Milk Bar Williamsburg, NY

August 31, 2011

Dutch Pancake Cafe Stowe, Vermont

If you’re a pancake aficionado like I am, then you must make a trip to Stowe, Vermont to visit the Dutch Pancake Cafe.  Apparently someone at the New York Times called it “the world’s most decadent breakfast”. I can confirm that you will not leave hungry, and only wishing you could spend one more night in Vermont so you can try another round of these delicious breakfast treats.

If you like lots of toppings, but hate when you have to fork around your plate to gather them all up into one bite, then this place has your problems solved.  Dutch pancakes are specially prepared, crepe-like pancakes with a variety of ingredients baked right into the pancake.  Each pancake is prepared in a traditional Dutch skillet, and is 12” in diameter and thinner than an American style pancake.  Once you have the batter, the fillings are up to you.  Whether you’re like a sweet start to your morning, or something savory there’s something for everyone on the menu.  Chocolate, strawberries, and fresh picked apples to tomato, sausage, bacon and spinach… the options are endless.  (I mean it, they have over 80 options on the menu and can also make you one to order)

Of course, I did what any sane person would do.  I ordered 2.  To begin my meal I ordered a plain pancake with lots of powered sugar and butter.  There’s extra powders sugar on the table for those who like to go overboard with their sugar intake.  I called this my breakfast appetizer; it warmed up my pallet for the next creation.  Round 2 consisted of onions, spinach, bacon and mushroom cooked into the pancake.  Could you ask for more?

To complete your meal, make sure you ask for some Keukenstroop Dutch Syrup.  It’s the color of molasses, consistency of fine honey and a not overly sweet yet complex taste, this Dutch pancake syrup is perfect for the distinguished palate.

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