Best Weekend Food Events: Special Black Tap Shake, Backyard Bash, Pier Party

Black Tap Milkshake Collaboration
Little Cupcake Bakeshop, (30 Prince Street)
Friday through Monday June 6

Little Cupcake Bakeshop has teamed up with Black Tap to create their own Brooklyn Blackout Shake. The chocolate shake comes with a chocolate-frosted rim, chocolate chips, whipped cream, syrup, and the shop’s Brooklyn Blackout Cupcake.

La Vida Backyard Holiday
Cafe de la Esquina (225 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn)
Saturday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Snag a table and toast Memorial Day weekend with five-dollar classic margaritas and deals on platters of tacos. The restaurant will offer specials throughout the day on mimosa pitchers, margarita and guacamole combos, and more. Get ready for live entertainment, too.

Takeout Window Special Menu
Huertas (107 First Avenue)
Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day weekend, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Huertas opens up its takeout window once again with a special menu featuring a Basque-style hot dog made with chistorra sausage. New items this year include house made slushies and a churro ice cream sundae made with Davey’s cinnamon swirl ice cream. Feeling famished? Huertas will also have a two-hot-dog-and-a-slushie special for $12.

CookOut NYC Food Party on the Pier
Stuyvesant Cove Park (East River Park at at 23rd Street)
Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Enjoy a huge selection of global bites and catch a battle of the burgers at this two-day affair, which offers unique ticket packages starting at $10. The lineup includes a raw bar, Danish hot dogs, and a fish fry. Snag a ticket here.


Best Weekend Food Events: Candy Making, Boozy Cupcake Tasting, and Chili Takedown

Union Square Holiday Market Opening Weekend, Union Square, Friday through December 24

Grab a cat-shaped macaron from Meow Parlour or pick up any number of food gifts at the brand new Urbanspace Provisions pop-up at Union Square’s annual holiday market, with ready-to-eat bites from the likes of Delaney Barbecue. This year, The Children’s Museum is also setting up a crafts booth where kids can make their own ornaments. A full line up of participating food focused businesses as well as holiday hours can be viewed on the Union Square Holiday Market web site.

How to Make Magical Healing Candy with Sweet Saba’s Maayan Zilberman, Fort Gansevoort, 5 Ninth Avenue, Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 2 p.m.

This two-day workshop lets students make candy from scratch, while teaching them how additives and oils can turn candy into cough drops. After students have molded their candy and returned for day two, the class will cover how to use food dyes for decoration. The class includes a mold to take home as well as goodie bag of treats from Sweet Saba; reserve your seat for both days – $264.74 per person – here.

Lexy’s Cupcake Tasting, Lexy’s Cupcake BarBlue Jean Studio, 149 West 24th Street – Suite 5B, Saturday, 5 p.m.

Enjoy cupcake and cocktails? Want to be on the ground floor to give feedback on flavors? Sample a variety of two dozen different alcohol-infused sweets (wine and soft drinks will be available too). Cupcakes also come in non-alcoholic flavors like pineapple-upside-down and caramel cinnamon apple, with other booze-infused creations like strawberry margarita and Bailey’s Irish Cream-infused vanilla.Tickets are $10; reserve them here.

Brooklyn Chili Takedown, The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, 514 Union Street, Brooklyn, Sunday, 12 p.m.

Grab all-you-can-eat bowls of homemade chili and vote on which chef’s secret recipe will take home the top prize. Over 25 chefs will offer spicy, savory, and sweet chilis to enjoy, with drinks available for purchase. Tickets are $20 and can be secured here.

Oyster Pairing and Restoration Talk, Lighthouse, 45 Borinquen Place, Brooklyn, Sunday, 5 p.m.

Have an hour to kill this weekend? Then enjoy it with an hour of oyster and beverage tastings along with conversation with Pete Malinowski, director of the Billion Oyster Project. Guests receive a half dozen oysters with beverage pairings — three different oyster preparations teamed up with a cocktail, beer, or wine. Afterwards, guests will learn about the role of recycling oysters in New York’s restoration efforts as well a better understanding of the farming process, courtesy of guest speakers from the Fishers Island Oyster Company. Tickets are $30; score them here.

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Brooklyn Cupcake & More Now Open in the Green Desk Space in Williamsburg

While Green Desk’s new kitchen incubator could use a catchy name (The Shops on Kent Avenue? The Mall of Williamsburg? House of Hipsters?), tenants in the space continue to make their debut, and Brooklyn Cupcake and Vapor Lounge New York are the latest to open for business, joining Essbar Juicing in an address that could become Williamsburg’s version of Chelsea Market–but like you know, totally more Brooklyn.

The popular cupcake shop, which celebrates the grand opening of its fourth location on Saturday, offers flavors like tres leches and guava con queso in homage to the owners’ Puerto Rican and Italian heritage. And at a time when residents worry corporate chains are ready to replace beloved Brooklyn institutions, the founders’ local Brooklyn roots and familiarity with the waterfront’s transformation is a good sign that local food entrepreneurs will continue to thrive.

Can't wait to take a cupcake home? Brooklyn Cupcake invites you to sit back and relax--and people watch!
Can’t wait to take a cupcake home? Brooklyn Cupcake invites you to sit back and relax–and people watch!

Vapor Lounge New York, a space that specializes in providing different flavored vapors for those looking to curb their smoking habit, is the first store of its kind in New York. And with flavors like cheesecake, caramel, and tiramisu, vaporizing might help you kick your smoking habit and sate your sweet tooth. Owner Ilona Orshansky, who moved from San Francisco to Williamsburg due to its artistic reputation, offers free tastings to those curious.

A selection of flavors customers can select from at Vapor Lounge New York
A selection of flavors customers can select from at Vapor Lounge New York

And because it would be shame to put a good view of the Manhattan skyline to waste, the creators of the DUMBO loft just launched the W Loft, a rooftop event space now hosting a variety of parties.

Looking for a roof top event space? Green Desk's new Williamsburg outpost provides a great view of the Empire State Building
Looking for a roof top event space? Green Desk’s new Williamsburg outpost provides a great view of the Empire State Building

Cupcakes With Chronic Diseases

Don’t touch them! They’re undoubtedly contagious.

Over the past couple of years, FiTR has gone from being neutral on the subject of cupcakes — from tolerating them, only wishing we had an entire piece of cake instead — to downright hating the tiny near-cylinders of dried-out cake surmounted by bad and agonizingly sweet frosting. But can a cupcake make you barf just by looking at it?

In a link provided by San Francisco correspondent Tracy Van Dyk, who, ever vigilant, has sent us the link from the shores of Lago Argentino in far-off Tierra del Fuego, a London baker named Miss Cakehead has created cupcakes which mimic the appearance of diseased skin. Complete with oozing scars and pustules that even a dermatologist would cringe from.

But these cupcakes have not been made out of spite for a sexual companion who has transmitted a disease, or a teenager suffering from a bad zit infestation, but for St. Batholomew’s Hospital Pathology Museum as a warning against unsafe sex (see condoms in photo). Convinced?

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Read Tracy’s travel blog here.

Want to see a few more of Miss Cakehead’s creations, courtesy of



Amy’s Bread Moving Baking Facilities From Chelsea Market to Long Island City

Two of the three storefronts Amy’s Bread has long occupied have been papered up, all the humongous ovens removed.

It must be accounted as something of a setback for Chelsea Market, if you’re going by the original plan. When the 22-building complex — originally a Nabisco factory — opened in 1997, it was intended as a haven for food-related businesses and a resource for chefs and home cooks, who’d be able to buy raw materials and equipment at the market. Artisanally produced foods and farmstead products would also be available for a growing gastronomic cognoscenti. Now one of the market’s most prominent tenants, Amy’s Bread, is moving its baking operations to Long Island City.

The retail store remains open, selling bread made who knows how long ago in Long Island City.

Over the past 15 years, Chelsea Market has had various problems. It had trouble retaining tenants and keeping a mix of retail stores that, say, would make it a one-stop place for someone preparing a dinner party that evening. For a while, there was no butcher. The complex added more square footage, and smaller businesses moved in. There’s a cheese monger now, and vegetable stand, seafood supplier, butcher shop, and liquor store, but losing the only bakery selling fresh-baked bread is a blow.

We’ll also miss the sight of all those white-clad bakers making bread and pastries in the windows, and one suspects that was one of the things that attracted tourists, too.

You see, over the past few years, Chelsea Market has turned into more of a tourists’ food court than a supply depot for cooks and chefs. It’s still a good place to buy kitchen necessities, but one has to fight busloads of tourists to even navigate the uneven walkways. Cupcakes have become omnipresent.

This is all in the context of the touristification of Manhattan, a process the mayor has wholly supported. I’m really glad that Amy’s Bread is not completely moving out of the city. But a loaf baked a day ago in Long Island City is not the same as a loaf baked a few hours before, right on the premises, by bakers you can watch.

Indeed, when I bought my baguettines (tiny baguettes) for breakfast this past Sunday, they were notably stale.

A handbill posted in the window of the papered-up facilities promises that Amy’s Bread won’t be leaving Chelsea Market entirely.

“We are not leaving Chelsea Market. Although our kitchen has outgrown Chelsea Market, Amy’s Bread will continue to have a presence here, with a renovated retail store and small bread kitchen. . . . Our remodeled 2,000-square-foot retail storefront will be placed where our ovens have been. It will also feature a baking demo kitchen. We still want visitors to see dough being mixed, shaped, and fresh bread being pulled from the oven!” Presumably, this will be accomplished Disneyland-style with audio-animatronic figures.

My baguettines were notably stale.

Full text of handbill.

Click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge

See Our 10 Best Things To Eat in the Chelsea Market.


Recipe: Maple Black Sugar Cookie From Filled With Sweets

When Taiwanese-American Terry Chen got laid off from her consulting job because of the economic recession, she took up baking. “During that time, I figured out what I wanted to do,” Chen says. “I knew I had a passion for food. Long story short, there was a moment where I decided to incorporate the Asian flavors I grew up with into my baked goods.”

Since then, the entrepreneur and baker has launched Filled With Sweets, a start-up dedicated to creating East-meets-West baked goods. “This type of fusion is natural for me,” Chen says. “In many ways, it represents who I am culturally.”

Filled With Sweets serves up uniquely flavored pastries like black sesame, vanilla taro, and matcha black currant cupcakes. All of the recipes are developed by Chen herself, who spent months experimenting before she launched.

Terry Chen
Terry Chen

She shared with us a recipe for her signature maple black sugar cookie. “Taiwanese use black sugar a lot in their cooking, and the Japanese use it in their cookies,” Chen says. “There’s also a lot of health benefits of black sugar. It actually has minerals, and it’s not processed.”

Chen says she added the maple to complement the black sugar taste and to create a festive, fall flavor. “Then I tried out a basic coffee cream for the filling,” she says. “My thing is that it’s not that sweet, and I think that bitterness from the powder that I used to make it kind of gives it a nice balance to the cookie.”

Here is the full recipe:

Maple Black Sugar Cookies
Yield: Around 32

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar
6 ounces black sugar
8 tablespoon maple syrup
4 tablespoon water

Coffee Cream
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
7/8 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon of espresso powder
1 tablespoon of Kahlua

Combine the espresso powder and Kahlua into a bowl and stir until the
espresso powder is dissolved.

Cream butter.

Add powdered sugar to the creamed butter.

Add the coffee mixture into the butter-and-powdered-sugar mixture. Keep mixing
until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a pot, place black sugar, maple syrup, and water on low heat. Mix
for about five minutes, until the black sugar has dissolved into the syrup and
water to create a syrup-like liquid. Note: Do not let the mixture harden or burn, so keep it on low heat.

In a medium-size bowl, cream butter and sugar until well mixed.

Add the egg and mix incorporate into mixture.

Into another small bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

First, mix one-third of the dry ingredients into the butter-and-sugar mixture. Then, add
the black sugar liquid into the batter. Make sure the batter is constantly
being mixed as the warm black sugar is poured.

Slowly add the remaining flour mixture into the butter-and-sugar mixture. The
dough should not be wet but rather should feel sticky.

Place tablespoon-size scoops of dough onto a pan, with one-inch separations
between each scoop.

Bake for 12 minutes and let cool for five minutes.

Once the cookies have cooled, spread a layer of the coffee cream on one side
of a cookie and place another cookie on top of it to create a sandwich.


Offered Without Comment

Cupcakes, Chelsea Market, 11 a.m.


Sprinkles Cupcakes Vending Machines to Hit Manhattan

Here’s some good news for Manhattan cupcake monsters: Sprinkles Cupcakes will install three 24-hour cupcake vending machines around the city this year.

The New York Daily News found out from a company rep that the vending machines are planned for Midtown, downtown, and the Upper West Side, but exact locations have not been decided on. The machines will be called “cupcake automats,” and will be filled daily with a couple hundred Sprinkles cupcakes. (To see how this all works, check out the HuffPo video of a Sprinkles ATM in Los Angeles, where the machines are making a big splash.) Sprinkles expects the first Manhattan installation to be ready by summer.


François Payard on Why Macarons Are Way More Awesome Than Cupcakes

Pastry chef François Payard, who runs François Payard Bakery (210 Murray Street, 212-566-8300), has become synonymous with chocolates and fancy French desserts. Payard is also currently organizing the third annual Macaron Day, which will be taking place on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, a citywide event to celebrate the beloved (and often belittled) colorful cookies. We called him up to learn more about trends in the pastry world today and to get his thoughts on the cupcake, that other beloved and belittled confection.

Why do you think France has such a pastry and bakery culture and New York City doesn’t?

France is all about food. In France, every corner has a bakery or pastry shop. It’s in the French culture to eat pastries, like how in American culture, you eat doughnuts for breakfast, or bagels, or go out to brunch. Every culture has its specific foods. But there is a difference between a bakery and pastry shop. The bakery is where you see a woman buying a baguette, and afterwards go to the pastry shop to buy cake. When invited for dinner [in France], we always bring dessert. In America, you bring flowers or wine, maybe. Only during Thanksgiving do you bring pie; it’s just a different custom. … Look and see how many pastry shops there are in Paris. And they are all busy!


What are the big trends in pastry today?

The new trend is the macaron. It’s become very big. The cupcake has stayed, but it’s not my favorite thing to have. I find it very sweet, but I think the cupcake is good for the kid market, while the macaron is for the everyday woman because it’s small. We come up with new flavors by the season. We develop them and work with a company in France that has developed the cold pressing of vegetables [to make flavor extracts]. It’s incredible what they do. To make an expression of coriander, they take 50 pounds of coriander and make five grams of extract. We’ll work with them to make new flavors. It’s very concentrated because it’s cold-pressed and not fake, and it just came on the market a few months ago.

How do you feel about the trend of having desserts be savory?

They become more savory because of people making them too sweet. They can be good, but it’s a fine line. … I still like a nice dessert. It doesn’t need 25 components. Simple but well-executed with the best ingredients. Sometimes, people work too hard and have about five to six on the plate and it gets lost. You need harmony. I think what makes a great dessert is simplicity and using the best ingredients. Most chefs think too hard. I loved Michael [Laiskonis] from Le Bernardin because he makes good things even if they are a little molecular. There’s not too much that’s extravagant. It’s all about the food. Sometimes when I go to restaurants, I’m not even sure if something’s a dessert. I had a chocolate mousse that was freeze-dried with some little fruits. I wasn’t sure if it was dessert or pre-dessert. People want to be so fancy now. … People want to impress the world by doing too much, but then the dessert doesn’t look like dessert.
What are some of the flavors of macarons you’ll be debuting this spring?

For spring, we’re doing some Passover flavors. We are making a milk-chocolate-coconut and another with green apple, honey, and pecan. It’s the flavor of Passover. And after that, we’ll have a line with strawberry-rhubarb and lemon-basil that’ll come up in the spring. We work three months in advance.

What’s the secret to making good macarons at home?

It’s not difficult to make at home. What’s different is the oven. If you want to make them at home, do the less fragile ones, like chocolate or caramel. When you have the pink color, or green-color ones, they get brown too quickly if you don’t have a good oven. But keep the meringue warm, and don’t make the macarons on a rainy day. Make the batter, and pipe, and cook. If it’s humid, they’ll have a hard time drying and will crack. We cook them less in the winter because it’s dry, and cook them longer in the summer because of the humidity.

And tell me more about Macaron Day.

This year, we have more than 24 participants, and the idea is to celebrate the macaron. We don’t want to tell you what shop is best, but you can be own judge. You play food critic for a day. The idea is to make people know more about macarons. Each shop will make 1,000 macarons [to give out for free]. The only bad thing is that it’s on a Tuesday. We wanted to do it on a weekend, but Pierre Hermé in Paris, who created Macaron Day, said, “No, Macaron Day is March 20.” It’s become more popular now than two years ago when it started.

And you’re opening a new spot soon at 3 Columbus Circle. What can you tell us about that?

We’ll be open in May. It’ll be the same as [the location in the] Goldman Sachs [arcade]. But we’ll have soft-serve ice cream. I love soft-serve ice cream, but not the fake flavor. Vanilla always has that fake flavor. Chocolate is always weak chocolate. Our vanilla will be made with vanilla beans and the chocolate with dark chocolate, and for once people will really enjoy soft-serve. Everyone today buys a mix! And we’ll offer a bigger variety of food. It’s a much bigger space at 1,100 square feet, and everything will come from our factory like at Goldman Sachs.

And I hear you want to open a new flagship on the Upper East Side. How’s that going?

I haven’t signed anything yet; we’re working on a lease.

Check back tomorrow, when François reveals his all-time favorite dessert.

For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me @ldshockey.


Georgetown Cupcake Opening Next Week on Mercer Street in Soho

It’s too bad that Our 10 Best Cupcakes in New York City ran last week, because the Big Apple is about to get a new cupcake shop. Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, owners of the super-popular D.C.-based Georgetown Cupcake and stars of the TLC show DC Cupcakes, have decided to open a bakery branch in Soho at 111 Mercer Street. “In addition to our flagship location in Georgetown, we ship our cupcakes nationwide, and the number-one shipping destination for our cupcakes was New York City,” explained Katherine. “We were also driving cupcakes up to New York City frequently for large parties and events. We had so many people asking us to bring Georgetown Cupcake to New York, so when we found the perfect spot in Soho, it was a very easy decision for us.”

The shop will officially open on Saturday, February 11, and will feature the sisters’ signature baked goods, including their most popular seller, the red velvet cupcake, and flavors including salted caramel and peanut butter fudge. The sweet treats will be baked daily on-site and packaged in the sisters’ signature pink boxes.

And expect to see the new shop making a cameo on the television show. “We’re filming a special episode on the construction and lead-up to the grand opening of our Soho shop so people can see what really goes into starting a bakery from scratch, and we’ll also be filming new episodes of the show in Soho in the spring, as well as in D.C.,” notes Katherine. Adds Sophie, “We’re so excited to finally be opening in Soho! We can’t wait to meet everyone and hope that everyone has a chance to visit and enjoys our cupcakes.”