Hope you all had a lovely 4th of July! I just got back from a trip to San Francisco filled with sunshine, some relief from the oppressive NYC heat, fabulous company and, of course, some great eats. We were surprised though to find so many places closed the day of the 4th. We walked over to Dynamo Donuts, which was either closed for the holiday or closed due to being out of donuts, as we learned is often the case. We found many stores closed in the Mission (as well as closed when we tried to go back again). We learned store hours are sometimes more goals than absolutes.

St Francis Fountain - The Mission, San Francisco

St Francis Fountain – The Mission, San Francisco

Anyhow, as we made our way back towards where we came from we came across St. Francis Fountain, a spot I’d noted more for ice cream than for food. However, I have to say the food didn’t disappoint. Solid diner style fair with a proper California flair. I had to go with the upside-down hog cakes, which were packed with bacon, cheddar, & green onion. You can get a stack of two or three. I recommend not being so ambitious as to go for three. I couldn’t finish my two! The salty sweet of the bacon/onion/cheese versus the maple syrup works well. Is there anything more American than bacon in pancakes?

Upside-Down Hog Cakes

Upside-Down Hog Cakes

Even better balanced when you add in a milkshake. I went with the espresso milkshake, which was a vanilla milkshake with a shot of espresso. So good. It seemed the perfect brunch option when you just couldn’t seem to pass up some sort of ice cream.

Espresso Milkshake

Espresso Milkshake

My boyfriend went with the Chef’s Mess, which was two eggs scrambled with homefries, bacon & mushrooms, topped with melted cheese, tomatoes, sour cream & green onions. Served with choice of toast or a baked good (he had the banana bread). Serious option. The food just kept coming! Serious quantity of potatoes here lurking underneath the surface. Worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood. Solid sustenance for wandering a bit through the Mission.

Chef's Mess

Chef’s Mess

St. Francis Fountain – 2801 24th Street (at York) – 415.826.4200
No Reservations

While we’ve had a few days here and there that have been nice, yesterday was one of the first truly nice days where I was out and about on the weekend. As I mentioned earlier today, on Sunday I went to brunch with the gang of Google Places Power Users at Cafecito Bogota. left craving a little something sweet. Blame it on my having eggs and not french toast.

It was nice that from there my boyfriend and I decided to go on a walk. We continued on through the rest of Greenpoint into and through Williamsburg, winding back into Bushwick, making sure to stay on the sunny side of the street since it’s the time of year where that makes all of the difference.

Blame it on the weather, but along the way that dessert craving became more focused. Ice cream. Only ice cream. We passed some ok looking places, but why settle for ice cream dispensed from the corner of a convenience store when you can keep going a bit more for the real thing – Ample Hills.

Ample Hills Creamery opened last summer on Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights. I didn’t get to try it for a bit -scared off by the likes of them selling out of all of their ice cream during their first four days they were open, causing them to have to close and replenish their stock. That’s no joke!

I finally got to try their ice cream, but never on-site. One cold, gross day my boyfriend surprised me with a pint for us of their Black Cow Float – root beer ice cream with a swirl of milk chocolate. So good. Root beer ice cream? Yes please. And for a friend, we had one of their ice cream cakes – tasty but heavier than other ice cream cakes I’ve had.

Fun with seasonal flavors

Fun with seasonal flavors

Yesterday though? I went inside. Ok. I may have gotten ice cream not only once but two times in the same – once before dinner and another time after dinner. Both at Ample Hills. That’s okay though. Being able to do things like that make all the downside of being an adult a bit more bearable.

First, I had their PB&J ice cream. I sampled it first as I thought that sounded like it could be amazing or disgusting (note after sampling a few flavors here, I think even the most extreme flavors here end up working). It was really good – not overwhelming peanut butter ice cream base with a grape jelly-esque ribbon running through. Unique and so good.

Oh hey hey, PB&J

Oh hey hey, PB&J

The other flavor I’d been eyeing was Nona D’s Oatmeal Lace – brown sugar and cinnamon ice cream with bits of oatmeal cookies sprinkled throughout.

They’re about to start ice cream classes and they also often accommodate parties. Have an idea for a flavor? Tack it up to their flavor board and maybe you’ll get your wish. Let’s just say I’m thankful I don’t live around the corner from this place or else I know where you’d find me all summer long!

Ice cream doodles from the suggestion board

Ice cream doodles from the suggestion board

Next visit? Shake time. Yes, that’s happening.

Ample Hills Creamery – 623 Vanderbilt Avenue (at St. Marks Avenue) – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 347.240.3926

I like two-fers – two things on a list. Check. Check!  I’ve been following the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck via Twitter as they make their way all around the city. Similar to my attempted approach to Mister Softie (an ever-present tempting evil!), I try to forget they exist – otherwise warm summer days turn into ice cream puddles in my hands of demolished desserts.

When I learned Anthony Bourdain’s wife would be serving up cones from their truck yesterday two hours before her husband’s book signing, I had to swing by. I’ve been following the banter between her (@OttaviaBourdain) and him (@NoReservations) since she started her account. Love it! And she did not disappoint – very much true to her feisty Twitter persona. She sang and danced, inducing a strobe-like effect occasionally in the truck.

I spy... a bonus Bourdain!

I spy... a bonus Bourdain!

And he made a surprise appearance, standing relatively quietly in the front – taking tips, making change, and occasionally heckling his wife. Oh and posing for photos. All tips were going to Doctor’s Without Borders, and Tony was matching all tips and proceeds from the day to go to the cause as well. I’d seen Bourdain back on his tour promotion the intitial hardback version of his book “Medium Raw”. With the spotlight on him for that event, he seemed resigned to take the stage – but yesterday it was clear he was letting his wife be front and center.

So many tips...

So many tips...A shot with the Family Bourdain (minus their daughter)

In hindsight, I probably should have given my tip before this photo. Perhaps that would have gotten Tony to smile – ha. Jose, who was kindly taking the photograph, did wait until Ottavia stopped sticking her tongue out for this photo!
 
Yosh and I, posing with our fabulous ice cream. Shhhh - don't tell.

Yosh and I, posing with our fabulous ice cream. Shhhh - don't tell.

 
I ran into my sweet friend Yosh while waiting in line, who told me that I wasn’t allowed to buy my first ever ice cream at the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. What a sweetheart. We both had “The Mermaid” – which was key lime curd, graham crackers, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Oh and delicious.
 
The Mermaid - mostly sweet, just ever so slightly tart

The Mermaid - mostly sweet, just ever so slightly tart

 
Perfect way to spend the nicest afternoon we’ve had in a while!
 
Anyone else swing by? If there are any Big Gay Ice Cream Truck afficionados out there, what is your favorite on their menu?
View of Manhattan from LIC's Water Taxi Beach

View of Manhattan from LIC's Water Taxi Beach

Yesterday the Fourth Annual NYC Food Film Festival came to a close, having kicked off on Wednesday, June 23rd and providing five full days of various events and films – all relating to food, from the normal to the extreme. The first event I attended of the festival was titled Edible Aventure #001: Smokes, Ears, & Ice Cream. I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at the event, aside from the run down of the films which they would be showing and I assumed that they would have food to purchase which would line up to the title of the event. I ended up at least being partially correct!

The event was at Water Taxi Beach. When we arrived in, we expected to see vendors set up around the space selling the food, but that wasn’t the case. There was a line for hot dogs ($3, the only real food for sale) and there were bar areas set up, but no food vendors. Instead, the food was distributed around the venue via volunteers, meaning it was better for you to have staked claim to a seat at the tables (something we hadn’t done). The volunteers were great, but the method for distribution seemed a little less than ideal, meaning the crowd would rush over and mob them wherever they happened to walk – defeating what I’m assuming was the intended purpose: allowing the attendees to focus on enjoying the films. (more…)

Holey Cream - Hell's Kitchen

Holey Cream - Hell's Kitchen

I’d been curious about this one for a while. A friend of mine who lives nearby to Holey Cream summarized it as “gluttony at its finest”. What they do is to take something not entirely healthy – donuts (hello fried dough!) and allow you to take it even further in the unhealthy direction, slathering it first with your icing of choice and then allowing you to cake on as many toppings as you’d like (Reeses Cups! Oreos! M&Ms! Sprinkles!). Somehow I don’t think they will be adopting that as their slogan tomorrow, but it isn’t far from the truth. 

Not enough? Well, have no fear. There’s another option. A sandwich. Oh yes. A DONUT sandwich. For this, they’ll slice that plain donut into two, like a bagel, and plop your ice cream of choice in that donuts mid-section. The whole icing and toppings concept carries through here as well. Options. So many options.  (more…)

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