Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bits and Morsels takes the water taxi to Red Hook

Peanut butter crispy bar at Baked.

This weekend I went with the digital on an adventure to Red Hook, Brooklyn. The most efficient and entertaining way to get to Red Hook from Manhattan is by taking the New York Water Taxi. And there is even a free IKEA Express Water Taxi that leaves from Pier 11 in Manhattan and goes directly to the IKEA dock in Red Hook (and no, you don't need to shop at IKEA to hop on).

The trip is approximately 20 minutes long. If the weather is warm, as it was on Sunday, make sure to sit on the outside top deck. It’s easy to forget that Manhattan is surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Hudson, Harlem, and East Rivers. The views from the water taxi are alone worth the trip to Red Hook.
You get the water taxi at pier 11. IKEA express schedule.
Hopping on the Water Taxi.
En route to Red Hook.
I met up with some friends in Red Hook at the Hope & Anchor for lunch. The Hope & Anchor, which is located at 347 Van Brunt Street, is an ultra-low-key standard-issue diner. The prices are reasonable and it's stocked mostly with locals.

We had a typical brunch of eggs and French toast, although we started with a very fresh hummus plate which was served with warm pita. The eggs were eggs, but the home fries were especially tasty thanks to its crispy texture and oniony bite; I could have sworn they came from an aged griddle with years of flavor built in.
Hope & Anchor. Vegetable omelet.
Hummus plate. Eggs benedict with spinach with hollandaise on the side.
French toast. Reasonable for three people.
After lunch, we headed a few doors down to Baked (which was the original purpose of my trip to Red Hook). Both Baked and Hope & Anchor are located on Van Brunt Street. The street has a selection of cutesy shops and restaurants, making for a nice stroll. Baked, 359 Van Brunt Street, is a bakery that serves up some amusing and delicious goodies. The sweet scent of freshly made cookies and brownies smacks you in the face when first entering Baked.

Two of the items that we sampled (which they are known for) are the peanut butter crispy bar and the sweet and salty cupcake. The top of the crispy bar was much creamier than it appeared (I was expecting the consistency of fudge) and so the smooth texture went well with the crunchy rice. The salty cupcake had a perfectly salted caramel frosting and the chocolate, which was very pronounced, was held in check by the moist cake also filled with caramel. Irresistible.
Whoopie Pies at Baked.
I am not a huge fan of the Magnolia Bakery whose cupcake's icing is over-sugared and where the line runs around the block. Baked is not like that at all. The atmosphere is quite comfy and it’s a real treat to spend an afternoon sampling cake with your friends. The next time you need to escape Manhattan for a few hours, take the IKEA Express over to Red Hook. I know I'll be back soon. [Baked] & [New York Water Taxi]
Outside and inside Baked.
Hot chocolate. A homemade version of pop tarts.
Peanut butter crispy bar. Table of goodies.
Jars of cookies. Oreo cake.
Sweet & salty cupcake.
After reading an article in the Financial Times about a candy company by the name of Romanengo (based in Italy) that has been around since 1780, I raced down to Formaggio on Essex Street to snatch up some of Romanengo's handmade candying fruits, chestnuts and flowers. To my dismay, Formaggio did not have them in stock.

The manager of the store couldn't have been nicer and said she would call me when she got them in. But since I had already made the trek downtown, I decided to explore the area.
The Doughnut Plant.
The Doughnut Plant on 379 Grand Street is right near Essex so I stopped by for a try. I had heard about their crème brulee doughnut and decided since I was there ... I had to try just one (right?). Think of a jelly donut with caramel sugar coating and crème brulee filling. Do I need to say any more to convince you?? [The Financial Times] & [The Doughnut Plant]
Crème brulee donut.
I am thrilled that Gino is not closing. There was talk about them losing their lease and shutting down but they renewed for another five years. Gino is one of my all time favorite places in New York. I grew up going there at least once a week and it would be a devastating loss for the neighborhood if they were to close. [Eater]

This is an article worth reading.
It is all about how Jean-Georges Vongerichten is growing his restaurant business to open up as many as 50 restaurants in the next five years. He has a deal with Starwood hotels and many of their new hotels will feature JGV's restaurants. This will require him to run an extremely tight operation, but methinks he's up for the challenge. [Fortune]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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