Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: chocolate

New York City 2012: Wafels & Dinges – Belgian Waffles

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This honking yellow beauty was the stuff of my dreams ever since I watched an episode on the Food Network about the best food trucks in NYC. Just the idea of buying food from a food truck seemed abstract and magical, like getting sprinkled with fairy dust. I wanted to be sprinkled with fairy dust.

I saw the waffles again kicking Bobby Flay’s ass when he tried doing a surprise Throwdown on Thomas DeGeest, owner and founder of what was eventually to become NYC’s waffle salvation – Wafels & Dinges. To be precise, Bobby got nailed by a flying, golden slab of a liège wafel slathered in Spekuloos spread. That’s like a 30-hit maximum combo on Marvel Vs Street Fighter that he saw coming, but chose to feebly execute a Low-Block instead of doing a Retreating Dash for Samurai Hill. No prizes for guessing who won that round (then again we all know everything’s staged. You know that. Right?).

Then again, it seems that as long as W&D’s Big Ol’ Momma Truck continues serving its good citizens piping hot, fresh Belgium wafels for many more years to come, everyone remains a winner. Just…you know…don’t ever try to go up against it.

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There’s no waffling about this issue: the Liège Wafels from any of Wafel & Dinges wafel trucks are better than those in their country of origin, Belgium. I’ve had doughy, crispy, delicious waffles drizzled in melted chocolate when I was in Brussels years ago and I remember how devilishly good they were, so I have a basis of comparison, unlike my inadequacy with Porchetta.

The only way to hunt down this elusive wafel truck is if you’re following W&D on every possible social media newsfeed that they have. Even then, my attempts and wild proclamations at hunting it down were abject failures at best, the stars never having aligned themselves to have the Momma Truck anywhere in my vicinity. I promise I was checking Facebook and Twitter daily.

When I stumbled across one of their small kiosks at Union Square, I obviously got myself a Liege Wafel ($5), and level-ed it up to a Wafel of Massive Deliciousness (WMD) by adding $2 for the option of having as many toppings as I wanted. This is dangerous stuff. Giving people free reign over any number of additional toppings they can have is like giving a child a stick of dynamite. I chose the explosive combination of Spekuloos, banana slices, and whipped cream.

And I chanced upon another stand at Bryant Park, and had another Liège WMD with Nutella, Strawberries, and Bananas.

Yet this was still different. This was from a stand in a holiday market. I’d gotten my taste of W&D’s wafel, but the Momma Truck hadn’t made my wafel. I needed to buy my wafel from the Momma Truck.

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Then during one serendipitous day (the only day that I hadn’t checked any social media platform for the whereabouts of the Momma Truck), I found her. She was parked at the curb in SoHo, windows wide open and beckoning, as peppy yellow as The Magic School Bus – wafel version. I went ballistic. My friend went ballistic for me.

We shared a non-WMD, still a liège though, and stood to the side in the nipping cold to chomp away at a Spekuloos (a spread made from Spekuloos biscuits – spiced biscuits that taste like glorious gingerbread) wafel. Liège wafels are dense and burnished a golden-brown. They’re crispy and caramelised on the outside and chewy on the inside. My kind of wafels, and hard to find in Singapore too. W&D has the other sort as well, what they call their Brussels Wafel ($5), the light and fluffy sort that I didn’t bother trying. Liège is all I need in my life. Also, W&D’s savoury wafels are only available from the Momma truck. Think Bacon & Syrup, or Pulled Pork, or Chilli Con Carne. I wished I had the opportunity for those, but I didn’t.

DSC_0380It’s hard not to see this as a staple for anyone visiting the Big Apple. Who doesn’t want fairy dust? These wafels are mad good. They have ruined me for all other wafels. It hurts that they are currently half-way around the world from me.

The New Yorkers truly have the best food truck.

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Wafels & Dinges

Website: http://www.wafelsanddinges.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wafelsanddinges?fref=ts

Twitter: @waffletruck

Brunetti – an Italian café experience

I figure I should test the waters of the current state of my writing, because unlike investments, it’s not going to appreciate by just festering in a corner over 3 months. So let’s start of with what I had for tea.

I was introduced to Brunetti – one of Melbourne’s most iconic Italian cafes – just this week, 2 days before it opened it’s first branch here in Singapore on the 29th of September. It came as a recommendation, for Italian coffee, pastries, gelato and the whole shebang. And trust me when I say that Brunetti is your one-stop wonderland to almost every Italian treat from biscotti, to millfoglies, hand-made chocolates, paninis, cornettos, espressos, straciatella gelato, and pignolos. Hand your wallet over to someone reliable, because you’re your own worst enemy in the face of at least 10 metres of glass displays with glistening pastries so shiny and vibrant you’ll need shades to gawk.

Brunetti has been around in Melbourne for more than 30 years now, and diehard fans of the outlet at Carlton have been anxiously waiting ever since there was news that it would open its doors here at RWS. But thank goodness it’s Tanglin Mall they’ve decided on instead of Sentosa. I can’t imagine having to go out of my way for a good cup of Italian roast or what could be the closest experience to sitting in an authentic Italian café.

It’s the tiled floor, the mosaic pieces, the black and white photographs of people sipping coffee, the sheer amount of sweets, and the smell of deep, smokey coffee that slows time down, draws you in and teaches you that a cappuccino should last a good, long conversation instead of having it taken-away and chugged down as you’re walking. There’s an otherworldly charm about Brunetti. It whisks you off to another time and place, and if you tried hard enough, maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to hear the staccatos of rapid-fire Italian over the buzz of the cafe. You won’t have to try as hard for Singlish though. Just saying.

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Canelé – Les Petits Gateâux

Le Royale

There is no better chocolate cake.

I don’t care what you say about Awfully Chocolate, because like all the times that I’ve commented on how they aren’t awfully-chocolatey enough (except maybe for the Super Stack Cake), I’ll say it again – they can’t hold a candle to Canelé’s Le Royale.

Of course you’ve got the main contenders: Rive Gauche’s Guanaja and Sheraton Tower’s Crunchy Chocolate Praline Cake.

But neither of those have the depth and bitter-sweet fullness, courtesy of a crackling bottom layer of hazelnut feullitine, a thick 66% chocolate mousse center layer, almond success (I don’t know what that is, but since I like it, I suppose it’s a success anyway), and a chocolate genoise tier soaked with rum. You can see it, can you? That thick, obscene layer of mousse? And what I would do to get my hands on the recipe for that crusty base.

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Fish & Co. – xoxo Platter

The XOXO Platter for 2 ($39.95)

Now I’ll just stick true to my principles and not launch into an entirely unneeded spiel of an occasion that needs no further publicity and marketing than already given. Because we all know that.

I will, however, have to admit that the special menu offerings, exclusive set meals, mind-blowing degustation selections, and promotions that restaurants push when it comes to riding the wave of commercialism during times like these really do tempt the passive consumer. You don’t have to believe in such festivities to enjoy an extended menu. Well more’s always good! Just ignore the neon pink kissy kissy stuff. Simple!

About a couple of weeks ago, the folks at Fish & Co. must have gotten wind that I haven’t been there in a while (and also perhaps they heard that I’m like Grinch of Valentine’s Day and they wanted a chance at enlarging my heart and – maybe, just maybe – turning me from green to blinding pink) and so invited me down to sample their new xoxo Valentine’s Day Platter for 2. Read more of this post

The French Kitchen

 

The French Kitchen

 

It’s hard to come by authentic French establishments these days. Far too many cafes, bistros and restaurants quietly serve up fusion fare, sneaking in herbs and spices otherwise never used in French cooking. But, as Jean Charles Dubois proudly declared himself, The French Kitchen has the pleasure of offering bona fide, untainted French menu selections for lunches and dinners at incredibly reasonable prices. The menus change every now and then, and so if you’re in luck, there’ll be caviar, if not, then pan-seared foie gras, sea scallops, veal or duck leg confit and a myriad of other very possible appearances by seasonal French ingredients may pleasantly surprise you.

The French Kitchen is situated in Central Mall at Magazine Road, a little ways from Clarke Quay and should not be confused with The Central that is directly above Clarke Quay station.

It’s a humble restaurant and seats about 30 people modestly. We easily took up half the seating capacity, walking in blearily after finally having found our way through the downpour that day for a three-course lunch.

The decor is bright, elegant and minimalistic, none of that froufrou ambience characteristic of French fine-dining establishments. It isn’t casual, oh definitely not, but it’s comfortable, and there is nothing else more satisfying than dining at ease, without a choking collar of propriety around your neck. Read more of this post

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza.

There are few things that irk me more when I’m rummaging through kitchen cabinets and the pantry than to find out that I am completely out of salt.

But not just any salt.

I’m talking sea salt, all kinds of sea salt in fact.

Flaky, coarse-grained, grey, fine, kosher….

There is, however, never a shortage of table salt in the kitchen. But I don’t care for that.

So you think salt’s just salt and what’s with all the fancy schmancy names? I mean, it’s no big deal right? Sure, salt’s important because without it, food’s going to taste like ribbons from the paper shredder, and oh, what with all the low-sodium products bursting forth in grocery stores, perhaps it’s best not to discuss potentially health damaging substances hm?

I apologise, but as you can see, I’m not really giving a damn.

I treat all my salt at home (and when I say ‘all’, I mean the total of 4 kinds of salt that I now have handy when I need them) more precious than any other gourmet ingredient – with the exception of my lone bottle of white truffle oil – because sodium chloride is king.

Have you ever forgotten to include that teaspoon of salt into your batch of cookies? Or perhaps intentionally left it out of your brownies for whatever demented reason? How’d that turn out?

Betcha didn’t really know why no one was helping themselves to seconds. Read more of this post

Macadamia & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Macadamia & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There will not be a recipe or post for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on my blog, ever. 

No chocolate chip brownies, no chocolate chip ice cream, no chocolate chip cake, souffle, pie, tart, cupcake, muffin, cheesecake, gratin, pasta, pizza, ramen, soba, udon… 

I’ve sworn off them. 

Why? 

Because they are ridiculously expensive for chocolates and are never of as good a quality as your bar of Cadbury. And for someone who doesn’t fancy cadbury, that is saying something. 

There will be, however, a recipe for The Best Chocolate Chunk Cookies and etc. 

I don’t care for chips. I want chunks. I want bold, obscenely sized, oozing lumps of chocolate in my cookies. None of those homogenous, wussy little clones because the good ones are pricey, and the cheap ones make me wonder why I didn’t buy a slab of Cadbury, or Van Houten, or Tudor Gold, or Lindt instead and hacked it up with a knife with enough gusto to make a butcher proud. 

Which is what I’ve been doing, and will be doing from now on. 

Have you seen the prices of those bars when NTUC, Cold Storage, Carrefour have them on offer? I could buy two of those 200g bars and I’d only get 300g worth of chocolate chips for the same price. The best I’ve seen was a 200g Van Houten hazelnut bar going for $2.60, which I used for this batch of cookies. 

If you’re like me who hasn’t wandered down the candy and chocolate aisle in the supermarket in ages for whatever reason, you probably should (with only the objective of purchasing baking chocolate in mind). Read more of this post

Double-chocolate pecan cookies

Double-chocolate pecan cookies

Tomorrow’s the first day of Chinese New Year, and instead of baking festive goodies like pineapple tarts, I produced cookies. Cookies as in chocolate cookies, as in double-chocolate pecan cookies, as in cookies made 56% of chocolate.

If you don’t  understand the gravity of it all, I’ll put it simply – more so for myself actually, because I am still reeling from disbelief – that is a hell lotta chocolate.

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