If you are reading this, I am furiously studying for finals. Therefore, I am taking a little break from this for a few weeks. Happy April! I will see you in May!
From this blog, it probably appears that Sparky’s birthday has lasted a lifetime. The fact is, we love a reason to do special things. On his actual birthday, we had the pleasure of going to the Tipsy Parson.
I was tipped off to this spot when I saw a gorgeous photo of their frozen mint julep on Garden & Gun. I had been dithering over the restaurant choice but this sealed the deal. A day after I made the reservation, Frank Bruni (former NY Times Food Critic) tweeted that he had an excellent experience there. Oh, Tipsy Parson, how I was ready for you.
It did not disappoint. I got the infamous frozen mint julep, which is actually a Berry Bramble Frozen somethingorother (forgot the name, probably due to the strength of spirits in it). Sparky had the Tipsy Palmer, made with sweet tea bourbon. Mine was so strong, yet delicious. I wasn’t able to finish it but enjoyed it nonetheless. Next, we had the Fried Pickles and the Baked Crab Cake. I forgot that “southern” crab cakes can be a lot of breading but these were more like Maryland style crab cakes, with a ton of crab. The Old Bay Aoli had a great kick and the chow chow was sweet and tart. The Fried Pickles were breaded in a cornmeal breading and the ranch was spot on with tang and coolness.
For our meals, I had the Shrimp and Grits and Sparky had the Veal Breast Roulade. This is where the review falls apart, not because the food declined, but because my appetite quickly took a nose dive, probably due to the Great Levain Cookie Experience. Anyway, Sparky had no trouble putting his food down the hatch and mine was great that night, and even better the following morning for breakfast!
Go here. It is a gem. No pretense, just adorable, lovely food and service.
Do you like cookies? It’s no secret that we do. It has become a bit of a tradition on birthdays to completely ruin our appetites with a special sweet treat. This was no exception. We went to Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side to experience cookie paradise for ourselves.
As we arrive on the scene, there is a small swarm of people surrounding the entrance of the bakery. Upon further inspection, there are two camps of people. People in line to get their cookie and people eating their cookie. These cookies are so good that people can’t wait to get into them. There is nowhere to sit, but it doesn’t matter because that primal urge of ME WANT COOKIE NOW takes over. Man, I was excited. We get in the line, which is moving fairly quickly. Excitement builds as we finally get to enter the bakery. Wafts of buttery, chocolatey, vanillay heaven crosses our senses. We get to watch them put the baseball sized dough balls on the cookie sheets and excitement looms. We order, pay our $4 per cookie, which is deposited into an unsuspecting white paper bag.
The original plan was to get a cup of coffee and sit down and eat our cookies. However, like the other people, as we are walking to the coffee shop, we pause to take a taste. First up, the Chocolate Chip Walnut cookie. The edges of the cookie are just cooked, so they have a tiny bit of bite to them but soon you get to the gooey, melty bulk of the cookie. Then, we ate the Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie. Similar texture with deep dark chocolate flavor. Like shoes, I couldn’t pick a favorite. Both cookies were so special. They were long gone before we crossed 77th Street. Happy Birthday, Sparky. Levain may soon become a birthday tradition. Although, I won’t be waiting a year.
I guess this isn’t accurate to call Toby’s Estate a restaurant, but a coffee shop. Anyway, I had wanted to visit Toby’s for some time. After the Joy the Baker book signing, I was in desperate need of some rest time, so we decided to jaunt off to this spot. The weather was chilly and damp so when we came upon the unnamed store, we were ready for the indoors. The space is beautiful. I was only taking pictures on my iPhone but the entire store-front is glass, allowing tons of natural light. Even on a cloudy day, this definitely added to the atmosphere.
Toby’s definitely takes care in brewing their coffee. They use Chemex Brewers for their drip coffee, which really allows the flavor of the coffee to come through (therefore, if you use an inferior product, that will show through too). They also roast their beans on site. You can read more about their story on their website.
This was probably the best cappuccino I have ever had. Toby’s is clean and airy with plenty of seating. They take care in their coffee, from a social responsibility standpoint, which translates to a special cup of coffee. We will definitely return.
Are you as into Mad Men as we are? We are total nerds about that show. We had some friends over and ate “retro” food and watched the premier of Mad Men. We dressed in pearls and put our hair up. We drank martini’s and put out old pictures of old family to keep in the theme. We played a Spotify Mad Men play list and then of course, watched the show! It was super fun. We sort of want to do it every week! I’ll post a picture when I get it from my friend.
The menu was:
Joy the Baker’s Cheese Straws
Trader Joe’s Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip
The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast
Fine Cooking’s Potatoes Au Gratin
Green Beans Almondine
Green Jell-o with Mandarin Oranges
Devils Food Cupcakes
All of the food was great, weirdly, I think the jell-o really hit the spot after all that rich food. I don’t make potatoes au gratin very much, but I think if you are going to go for it, heavy whipping cream is the best liquid for it! Also, pot roast isn’t really my jam but this was tender and so easy to do. The cheese straws were a last minute add and I didn’t use the shallots but no one complains about puff pastry and parmesan cheese!
Do you ever do theme parties? I think I prefer them to regular parties!