Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Tag Archives: soho

New York City 2012: Dominique Ansel Bakery

DSC_0037

The sidewalks of Soho are seasoned by the pounding footsteps of thousands of tourists and locals alike, filtering into fashion boutiques like the tributaries of a constant river. Soho is, first and foremost, a shopping district, and the Broadway strip is a haven for lazy shoppers who needn’t so much as think as to forge forward in a Zombie March under the sheer influence of brands the likes of Zara, Aldo, H&M, and more. It’s too easy to ping-pong straight along the avenue, completely missing the quieter streets to the left and right – and overlooking Dominique Ansel Bakery at the end of Spring Street. Balthazar, Dean & Deluca, and other big-named (unfortunately over-hyped) dining establishments usually manage to suck in the strays that wander from the main shopping belt. Needless to say, famished and bleary-eyed shoppers don’t wander very much, and certainly not far enough.

That suits me just fine. While every other bistro, restaurant, and chichi café is packed, the five blocks of walking distance from Broadway means that Dominique Ansel usually ends up being relatively quiet no matter the time of the day. The best pastries would still be sitting in their displays.

DSC_0598

It’s a little ludicrous that I’ve even been there thrice, at every opportunity that I had found myself in Soho – reliable food does that to me. Its consistency may have something (or everything) to do with how Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel used to work for Daniel Boulud at his 3-Michelin-starred restaurant, Daniel. You can be assured that the quality is strict, and the pastries no less stunning than his star-studded background.

DSC_0033

The DKA, which sounds like a cross between an underground criminal syndicate and a weapon of mass destruction, was at the top of my list. Dominique’s Kouign Amann ($5.25) looks like an actual explosion of liquid gold happened in the tiny confines of a muffin cup, got flash-frozen in the nick of time, and was tipped over unto a plate and served.

Read more of this post

New York City 2012: Wafels & Dinges – Belgian Waffles

DSC_1220

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.

DSC_0384

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.

DSC_0086

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.

Wafels & Dinges

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

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

Twitter: @waffletruck