tonnie’s minis

Harlem doesn’t just have great soul food, they have great cupcakes too! Located just a couple blocks south of Sylvia’s and Red Rooster is Tonnie’s Minis, a bakery specializing in small bite sized cupcakes (though, they do offer larger cupcakes and regular cakes as well).

I first tried Tonnie’s Minis at last year’s Taste of the Nation and they blew me away. Since then, I thought maybe I just put these on a pedestal…definitely not. Red velvet cupcakes are my favorite variety of cupcakes so I’ve tried others since then and nothing seems to quite fill the void like Tonnie’s. These cupcakes are incredibly moist and the icing is pleasantly sweet. They’re also small, so you can eat one as a snack without feeling too bad about it.

I did have to break out of my comfort zone. When asked what I wanted, I almost ordered all red velvet cupcakes. After hesitating a bit, I got 3 red velvet and 3 carrot, all topped with cream cheese frosting. As a child, I had an aversion to carrot cake. If they tasted like this there’s no way that would have happened!

If you find yourself in NYC with a craving for cupcakes, make the trip up to Harlem for these! It’s close to the 125th St stop on the 2 and 3. You’ll be glad you did.

So jealous my friend works up the street…

Tonnie’s Minis
264 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027

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verrazano-narrows bridge

Every time I pass over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, nostalgic memories pop into my head…heading into Brooklyn to visit grandma, constantly looking up at the towers through the windows of the car in awe at the massive blue towers, looking north during clear skies to see the Statue of Liberty or the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and looking south at the neverending blue of the bay/Atlantic Ocean.

The Brooklyn Bridge is my favorite, but I hold the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge closer to my heart. Too many memories and it’s very much so one of the inspiring reasons that I’m a bridge engineer. I don’t know if I’m just bluffing, but I think I want to climb suspension cables at some point…

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was opened in November 21, 1964 (happy belated 46th birthday!) and carries I-278 over the Narrows, connecting the NYC boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. It was designed by engineer Othmar Omman, the same engineer responsible for the George Washington Bridge, and several other NYC/NJ bridges. The bridge is named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. When it opened in 1964, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, surpassing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

On a slightly random but recent note, the New York City Marathon starts at the Staten Island end of the bridge. I don’t feel like I could ever run that much, but running over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is pretty damn enticing!

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2010 vendy awards!

I was a volunteer at this year’s Vendys in New York City. You’ve probably read all about the Vendys already since I’m posting this a couple weeks after.

vendy cup

This year’s Vendy Awards were held at Governors Island. Several NYC food trucks were nominated for three categories, Vendy Cup/MasterCard People’s Taste, Rookie Vendor of the Year, and Dessert. The nominees for the Vendy Cup/People’s Taste Awards were: King of Falafel & Shawarma, Bistro Truck, Schnitzel & Things, El Rey de Sabor, and Patacon Pisao.

patacon pisao

schnitzel & things

king of falafel & shawarma

The nominees for Rookie Vendor of the Year were Souvlaki GR, A-Pou’s Taste, Mexicue, The Cinnamon Snail, and 99% Vegetarian.

souvlaki gr

Lastly, the nominees for Dessert were Guerrilla Ice Cream, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Dessert Truck, Yao’s Dragon Beard Candy, and Kelvin Slush.

yao’s dragon beard candy

kelvin slush

A couple of Philly food trucks made the drive up! Honest Tom’s Taco Shop was among three Philly trucks to serve at the Vendys. The other two were Chester Spring’s Birchrun on a Roll and Denise’s Soul Food Restaurant.

honest tom’s taco shop

Now, without further ado, on to some food photos!

bistro truck – lamb tajine, rustic lentils, and dijon chicken (cw from bottom)

schnitzel & things – veal schnitzel & schnitz lolli w/ sides (potato salad, cucumber salad, sauerkraut, chickpea salad, and roasted beet & feta salad)

king of falafel & shawarma – falafel

the cinnamon snail – korean bbq seitan, porcini hempseed crusted tempeh, and ginger island grilled tofu (cw from left)

yao’s dragon beard candy – long tzi tang (pulled sugar around crushed peanuts)

guerrilla ice cream – libertacao (72% chocolate & port wine ice cream topped w/ brueleed frozen banana & cashews)

guerrilla ice cream – 8888 uprising (mango, lemongrass & palm sugar sorbet topped w/ shredded coconut and lime zest)

patacon pisao – tres leches

There was an abundance of food and I pretty much got to try everything sans Kelvin Slush. I knew I shoulda gotten a slush when the line was short! The line grew 10x in size as the day went on.

At the end of the day, there were a couple dishes/desserts that were my favorites. I still think about them to this day, wondering when the next time I can eat it will be…

souvlaki gr – pork souvlaki (pork, tomato, red onion, french fries, and tzatziki in a pita)

patacon pisao – chicken patacon (plantain sandwich)

king of falafel & shawarma – shawarma & rice

big gay ice cream truck – salty pimp (vanilla ice cream w/ dulce de leche, sea salt, and a chocolate dip)

The winners for the Cup, Rookie, and Dessert categories were King of Falafel & Shawarma, Souvlaki GR, and Kelvin Slush, respectively. Sigh, really wish I tried some slush! I’m just gunna have to make my way over one of these days.

I left Governors Island extremely full but content. It was a fantastic day of eating, enjoying the gorgeous weather, hanging out with RK, and meeting some great people (Amy Cao of Amy Blogs Chow and Dan Cohen of Danny Macaroons). Thanks for the macaroon, Dan! It was delicious!

In more local news, it was announced that Philly is set to have a Vendys of their own next year! Can’t wait!

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shake shack

It was an absolutely beautiful summer day on Wednesday. I met up with two college friends in Madison Square Park to mark my second visit to Shake Shack.

shack burger

On my previous visit I ordered a Shack Burger, so this time around, I got a Shroom Burger (have I mentioned I love portobella mushroom burgers?). The Shack Burger consists of Black Angus beef with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce. The Shroom Burger consists of a crisp fried portobella, filled with muenster and cheddar, and topped with lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce.

shroom Burger

To show you how good these burgers are, I attempted to take a photo of my friend making love to her burger (taking bites of it with such pleasure)…but she caught me and gave me a look of disgust. (Sorry Kathleen…)

It’s a shame that I have never tried their shakes, custards, or concretes yet. I’m just never THAT hungry… Hopefully one day..

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park (Madison Ave & E 23rd St)
New York, NY

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I’ve heard and read so much about Korean fried chicken. All signs pointed to NYC when trying to find a place to try some. As often as I go to NYC, I unfortunately always forgot all about it when I came up. Finally, earlier last week, I met a friend for lunch at one of the places, Kyochon.

Kyochon is a Korean chain, which has a couple restaurants here in the US now. They’re known for their fried chicken, which is nothing as we Americans know fried chicken as. Korean fried chicken is twice fried, not coated with a batter like southern fried.

The restaurant was pretty neat looking. The employees looked like flight stewardesses with their outfits and the decor/atmosphere felt like very loungy….even the bathroom was wild looking.

I ordered a combo of soy garlic wings with potato wedges. Soon after sitting, the district manager of Kyochon happened to notice me taking photos of my food, and gave me a sampling of the hot & sweet wings to try…very awesome!

I liked both varieties, though I felt the hot & sweet wings were a little too spicy to enjoy. Each bite was flavorful without an overload of sauce flying all over the place. These were actually sauceless yet tasty.

If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken before, go out and try some. I enjoyed my meal despite the feeling that I broke my no fast food diet by going to a Korean equivalent of KFC. But no, this is not. This is definitely better than KFC!

As I left Kyochon, I noticed that a BonChon, another competitor in the Korean fried chicken war, was opening soon just down the street!

319 5th Ave
New York, NY 10016

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