04/24/17 11:29am

Just five minutes to smoothie magic with Greenblender.

Last week the internet enjoyed a rare moment of harmony as it gathered together to mock Juicero, the high tech juice company that raised $120 million to hawk $400, wifi-enabled juicers. A meticulously reported Bloomberg story and accompanying video demonstrated that despite its boasts of aircraft-grade aluminum and four tons of pressing power, it was possible to squeeze Juicero juice packs–which you cannot buy without first purchasing the juicer, called The Press–by hand, to pretty much the same effect.

A tech writer friend and I have had an ongoing joke about Juicero since this gushing New York Times profile of founder Doug Evans came out last year, the punchline being, if you’re a certain type of white guy (read: unconventional, but rich, with a charming if slightly sociopathic personality), you can get Silicon Valley dollars like you have an ATM card, no matter how dumb your idea is.

But here’s the rub–I like drinking juice or smoothies for breakfast, and most juicers really are a pain to clean and I get annoyed by my own lack of creativity when it comes to my smoothie game. Surely there must be some kind of juice interruption that actually delivers, without having to purchase a $400 lie.

There is and the company started in Brooklyn, of course.

Greenblender, to use a tired, but useful formulation, is Blue Apron for smoothies. For $49 a week (less if you commit to several months at a time) you get recipes and ingredients for five different smoothies, two servings of each. You just pop them in a blender and voila, breakfast in about five minutes. Technically these are smoothies–no pulp or fiber is removed, it’s all blended all in there, but they’re much more fruit and vegetable foward than your standard smoothie, which is really a milkshake in disguise. Think of Greenblender concoctions more like super juice. You could not squeeze these ingredients with your bare hands and get a drink from your efforts. (more…)

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04/03/17 10:31am

For those of us who admit to being more than a little food-focused (or slightly gluttonous, whichever), this was a much-anticipated weekend, and we’re very lucky that Smorgasburg isn’t picky about the weather. The lauded food market returned to East River State Park and took up residence in Prospect Park this weekend, despite a somewhat chilly and grey start on Saturday. This year, the market opens with a decent shaking up to its usual program–from mom-and-pop shops cooking up traditional Haitian food to Chinese dumplings with eclectic fillings inspired by the diversity of Queens. Below we’ve highlighted a couple of vendors to look out for, so ready your utensils! (And yes, there’s a spaghetti donut. We tried it. It’s fine.)

Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

John’s Juices

Ok, so you’re totally over walking around Smorgasburg sipping coconut water from a coconut–but how about slurping fresh juice straight from a dragon fruit? Or a pineapple? John DeWindt and his partner August Major take fresh fruit juice to a whole new level using a nifty machine they spotted and picked up in Japan. It grinds the juice inside the fruit, so all you have to do is mix in a little agave, ginger, or seltzer, stick in a straw, and you’re done! It’s a pretty flawless summer treat. (more…)

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03/13/17 9:29am
The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

The beet burger at 61 Local is the work of veggie mastermind, Lukas Volger. Photo: Local 61

If you eat animal protein, there’s generally little reason (if any) to opt for a veggie burger instead of a luscious patty of ground beef. That said, veggie burgers can be delicious in their own right, if you know where to go, and from David Chang’s so-meaty-it-bleeds veggie burger, to Superiority Burger in the East Village which New York Times food critic Pete Wells referred to as “Shake Shack for vegetarians,” they’re really having a moment. (Cara Nicoletti, a butcher at Foster Sundry in Bushwick just did a video for Vice Munchies on how to make them at home, if you’d prefer to stay in for your veggie fix.)

For the most part, these burgers are best considered as unique food items. A chicken sandwich or a falafel are not the same as a burger, and you wouldn’t hold their lack of beefy heft against them. Same here. We picked six of our favorite veggie burgers in Brooklyn–these sandwiches can stand their own, we promise!

For the beet lover: 61 Local

In Cobble Hill, 61 Local serves up local foods and good vibes. The restaurant’s menu features a delicious and earthy beet burger made with chef Lukas Volger’s special blend. (Volger, a former employee and now the owner of the brand Made by Lukas, developed the recipe while working at 61 Local.) The patty is topped with pickled red onions, miso “mayo,” baby greens and ketchup and served on a ciabatta roll.

61 Bergen St., Cobble Hill

For the milkshake drinker: Dutch Boy

Burgers and milkshakes go together like…fries and ketchup, peanut butter and jelly, pickle juice and whiskey shots. Dutch Boy in Crown Heights is as well known for its spiked milkshakes as it is its burgers and so we had to include them on this list. The veggie burger here is house-made and distinctly simple, but for two reasons we love it. One, it’s served with chipotle aioli, which delivers a heat-packed punch and two, you can (and should) wash it down with a root beer schnapps-spiked milkshake.

766 Franklin Ave., Crown Heights (more…)

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12/18/16 9:25pm

The time has come to reflect on 2016. Luckily, I write about food and not politics–this has been a great year for food in Brooklyn. We’ve been graced with openings from renowned chefs, quiet sleeper hits and pizza, pizza, pizza.

I started thinking about this in terms of a “best of” list and quickly realized I wouldn’t get anywhere just thinking about what was “best.” That is both a limiting and tired way of looking at any subject. So here I’ve broken it down into some of my own personal favorite categories (including pizza, burgers and wine) to highlight the real standouts from the past 12 months.

Photo: Olmsted

Photo: Olmsted

Best vibes: Olmsted

Olmsted has been getting so much love from the city’s foodies, critics and well, everyone, that it’s almost like, what do I have to add?

The food is refreshingly clever and yet still accessible. The dishes are pretty to look at and delicious to taste. (Nobody likes carrots that much and yet the carrot crepe is one of the best items on the menu.)

But what Olmsted is really owning is its reputation as a homey, down-to-earth Prospect Heights restaurant. Its well-known and loved edible backyard is now a winter sanctuary complete with heat lamps and Pendleton blankets. To turn the crown jewel of the restaurant into a year-round destination is pretty genius. Who can think of a better way to spend the early days of Trump, which will coincide with the deep days of winter, than in a joy-filled Brooklyn garden, mugs of booze in hand?

659 Vanderbilt Ave., Prospect Heights  (more…)

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07/18/16 10:24am

Head to Bobek Deli early for the best choice of hot dishes. Photo: Brendan Spiegel

When I was checking out the array of trendy new restaurants popping up in and around Kensington earlier this year, I came across one unsuspecting little spot that is far from trendy but definitely shouldn’t be passed over by serious eaters.

Bobek Deli is the kind of place you would probably walk right on by if the assortment of Polish canned food in the front window didn’t grab your attention. But inside the narrow, angular space, behind rows of Polish tabloid magazines and Slavic-brand potato chips, there are some fantastic culinary creations worth exploring. First, There’s a  butcher’s cold-case filled with about a dozen un-pronounceable offerings like zwyczajna (a smoked and cured pork kielbasa made with black pepper and garlic). Another case is stocked with fresh-baked pastries and fruit-filled bowls of Jell-o. But the real prize is the unsuspecting hot-food bar in the back, where a daily array of freshly-made to-go items offer rib-sticking Eastern European comfort food to dedicated regulars. (more…)

07/11/16 11:52am
Lukas Volger's vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Lukas Volger’s vegetarian recipes are full of flavor and crunch. All photos: Spencer Starnes

Brooklyn, as well all know by now, is home to an incredibly dynamic food community of adventurous chefs and makers. While the local food scene became known early on for its bacon-infused excess, a new crop of vegetable-driven restaurants and food businesses have bloomed in response to a demand for bright, lively flavors and lighter fare in recent years. We chatted with a few vegetable-obsessed makers whose products are delicious, nutritious and available in Brooklyn, for your snacking pleasure.

It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Pure Genius Provisions

If your sweet tooth tends to undermine your healthy eating habits, Nancy Kalish can relate. She founded Pure Genius Provisions after developing a chickpea-based recipe for brownies and chocolate chunk blondies, which both succeed in scratching that dessert itch without spiking your blood sugar.

Name: Nancy Kalish, founder and CEO, Pure Genius Provisions

What’s your favorite item that you make? Well, for me, the chocolatier the better. So I have to pick the first product I ever created, our Deep Chocolate Brownie. It doesn’t get more fudgy than that! You’d never know it was vegan and gluten-free.

Choco chickpea going in the oven in Nancy Kalish's Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Chocolate chunk blondies go in the oven in Nancy Kalish’s Carroll Gardens apartment and test kitchen. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Where’s your kitchen? I do all my R&D in my home kitchen in Carroll Gardens where I have a multitude of mixers, dozens of baking pans, 50lb bags of chocolate chips, gallons of maple syrup and boxes of products in development. There’s barely any room for anything else. My husband is a saint! Our products are then produced in an gluten-free, allergen-free bakery.

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Raw ingredients sit measured and ready to become brownies. Photo: Spencer Starnes

How did you get here? I’m a former health journalist. So I’ve always known what to eat to be healthy. But I have a raging sweet tooth! I could never find a treat that really satisfied me and that I wouldn’t feel terrible about eating. So I got busy in the kitchen. It took me more than a year—and hundreds of dirty pans—to come up with our brownie but it was worth it. Now I can eat dessert for breakfast if I want. And I often want to!

Will you tell us something surprising that we probably don’t know about your sweets? Our brownies and blondies are made from more than 40% chickpeas (we’re talking the whole beans, not flour). (more…)

06/27/16 9:32am
I, uh, ate two of the eight-donut sampler before I could grab my phone. Photo: Kenneth Rosen

I, uh, ate two of the eight-donut sampler before I could grab my phone. Photo: Kenneth Rosen

The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city’s all-night eateries and their inhabitants.

June 3 was National Donut Day. So really, that makes June, National Donut Month in my estimation. Which is to say, don’t tell me when to eat my cream puff.

I’ve written about what I believe is the best donut in Queens, and have yet to seek out new horizons in toroidal fried glory in the Bronx or Staten Island. But if you find yourself in Manhattan or Brooklyn (maybe we can get together!), the careworn joints Holey Cream and 7th Avenue Donuts will leave the lights on for you.

Both are open late, and both dish out irreproachably delicious donuts. They’re definitely not vegan, or flavored with hibiscus, foie gras or truffle oil. But these are donuts in their natural habitat. (more…)

06/13/16 12:09pm
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Eat tacos and sip rose for a good cause this summer. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Be honest–when was the last time your good deed for the day was purchasing and devouring tacos? Never? That’s about to change. For the rest of the summer you’ll be able to pop by the backyard at Greenpoint’s San Damiano Mission, fill up on some seriously delicious tacos, and know that your money is going toward a noble cause–the repair and restoration of the church’s 104-year-old pipe organ.

“Josh Cohen, my partner over at Extra Fancy, does a lot of outreach and support in the neighborhood, and that’s how he befriended the Sam Damiano Mission,” explains Extra Fancy co-owner Mark Rancourt. “They asked if [we] wanted to use their yard for the summer as a food and event space, and we went for it.” Rancourt says that figuring out the menu was easy enough–who doesn’t love tacos?

Currently, Holy Smoke (the punny name of the summer pop-up) offers beer, rosé, chips, and a choice of three tacos: chicken mole, hickory-smoked pork, and portobello, and all three are pretty flawless as far as tacos go. All of the profits from the pop-up will be donated to the organ restoration project. (more…)

06/06/16 9:29am
Photos: Two Yutes

Photos: Two Yutes

When Michael Bruno opened Michael & Ping’s Modern Chinese Take-Out in Gowanus six years ago, the restaurant may have seemed a bit random. Bruno, who grew up in an Italian-American family in Bensonhurst, didn’t actually know that much about cooking Chinese food (and there’s no actual Ping, the second name’s just for effect), but he’d eaten loads of takeout growing up in New York, and saw an opening for an eatery focused on American-style Chinese classics like Kung Pao chicken and beef and broccoli, but made with high-quality local ingredients. Industrial Third Avenue was nowhere near the foodie destination it is today, but it was the perfect location for a delivery-focused spot, given the proximity to Park Slope, Cobble Hill and other booming neighborhoods.

Fast forward six years later: Michael & Ping’s is thriving, while the neighborhood long mocked as a fetid Superfund site is filled with shiny condos, farm-to-table restaurants, and lots of new businesses. For his second enterprise, housed within Michael & Ping’s, Bruno opted for something a little closer to home. 2 Yutes, billed as “a Brooklyn panini pop-up” is “a little more in my wheelhouse,” says Bruno. “It’s all what I grew up eating in Bensonhurst–at places like John’s Deli and Lioni’s. There’s no great sandwich shop in this neighborhood, so I decided to give it a try.” (more…)

05/31/16 11:07am
A row of hammocks at the ready at Rooftop Reds, for their "Hammock Happy Hour". Photo: Nicole Davis

A row of hammocks at the ready for happy hour at Rooftop Reds. Photo: Nicole Davis

The Brooklyn Navy Yard has been getting a lot of attention lately, with Fly by Night, the recent announcement that Brooklyn Brewery will open a new facility there in 2018 and a whole summer’s worth of events (including sunset yoga and dinners) underway at the Brooklyn Grange.

What may have flown under your radar are two new Navy Yard spots for outdoor drinking, Rooftop Reds and the new tasting room at Kings County Distillery, The Gatehouses. The latter has been open for cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights for several weeks now, and, as of yesterday, will be serving whiskey pours ($8-16), flights ($16 for three whiskeys, $30 for five), and cocktails ($8-14, and if you think that whiskey is too heavy for summer, remember the mint julep, $12) Monday to Saturday all summer long. Snacks from Vinegar Hill House and Crown Finish Caves and whiskey popsicles made in collaboration with People’s Pops round out the menu.

The real clincher on Kings County is the location. The tasting room is in the gatehouse at the Sands Street entrance to the Navy Yard (where Flushing meets Navy–glamorously close to the NYPD vehicle impound lot). Basically, it looks like a castle. This is the type of weird old building that is just such a pleasure to gawk at, amidst all the murderously boring glass and steel towers rising around the city right now. Also, you will definitely know that you are in the right place when you arrive, which is a slightly more challenging proposition when it comes to King’s County’s neighbor, Rooftop Reds. (more…)