All posts filed under “Sweets

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Katz’s Deli + Economy Candy + Crif Dogs, New York

Katz’s Deli

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

On East Houston Street has been standing Katz’s Deli for God-know-how-many years (since 1888 – I don’t do maths). This is a proper Jewish delicatessen of NYC Lower East Side (which London’s dear Mishkin’s takes an inspiration from). The walls are adorned with memorabilia of the past (with a lot of sleb diners) and straight to the future (I’m sure the place will have 100 more years to go). As I walked in, I was given a ticket, which was to be presented at the counter as I ordered my food. The menu is as vast as the deli itself and has everything Jewish – Chicken soup, Salt Beef, Pastrami, Knishes…

(As I was on a mini food crawl), I settled just for a Reuben ($16.55) and a Salt Beef Sandwich ($15.25). It was a mouthful of spectacle seeing the corned beef being sliced and then two slices were given to me as samples. Steaming hot. Tender in texture and powerful in taste. The same was repeated while I was waiting for the salt beef, which was gelatinous (thanks to the fat) and snapped apart very gently. Once turned into sandwiches, I did not like them as much. For the salt beef, I found the American mustard too sweet and did not contribute a striking contrast to the beefy forte. Personal preference. The Reuben was far more calorie-worthy thanks to the corned beef alone. Dressing-wise, the Russian dressing could have been more piquant and the sauerkraut sharper in acidity. But again this is a personal preference for sourness (as I noticed they seem pro sweetness over there). The rye bread were pretty spot-on spongy. A great meal, nonetheless, and the sandwiches were MONUMENTAL!!!

Economy Candy

A digestive attempt. I walked into Economy Candy – a rusty-looking, wholesale+retail candy shop on Rivington Street, still on the Lower East Side. The range of sweet things (mostly American brands and cartoon-focused goodies) here is incredibly orgasmic, considering how not-so-large the shop is. A sort of place that makes your aged retina beams with gleeful youth. The price of all things at Economy Candy is also a tempting bargain, about 1/3 – 1/2 cheaper than the regular retail price.

(I only bought 3 monkeys – below)..

Crif Dogs

Crif Dogs on Urbanspoon

And my mini food crawl ended here – Crif Dogs. A famous hot dog cafe with a “secret”.

Crif Dogs is dungeon-like with an odd resemblance to Camden. There are a great variation of toppings to choose from (16 kinds, I think), while the price fluctuates between $2.50 – $5. Tater Tots ($2.50) were these little cylindrical hash browns. Light, crispy and additive. No greasy aftertaste. The New Yorker was an all-beef sausage ($2.50) served nude in a bun (toppings on request) seemed fried rather than grilled and did not burst much taste (BAHD’s Pimp Steak beats this one hands down). The Chihuahua ($4.50) was a bacon-wrapped frankfurter with avocado and sour cream. Velvety touch. The sausage was snappy and juicy and the bacon very crackling. The Chilli Dog ($3.75) was pleasant and claimed a good mustard heat. I wasn’t keen on the cloyingly sticky texture, though. Apart from this, I also felt underwhelmed by the paper-like bun (it tasted a bit like the ones we feed fish in Thailand). My favourite of the meal was The Corn Dog ($4.75). I liked the sweet gummy batter and the moist hot dog. My only criticism was that my Corn Dog was a few minutes over-fried, resulting in a mildly burnt aroma and bitterness.

Hot dogs, done!

So, the “secret”?!?

The telephone booth inside Crif Dogs leads way to a secret cocktail bar called PDT (“please don’t tell”) which is opened daily from 6pm till late. You need to secure a reservation over the phone at a designated time (I learn it is 10am of the day you visit). If not, aim to arrive very early. I can’t tell if their cocktails are good because, during our visit, the place was so secretive nobody told us it was shut (for refurbishment).


RATING: 4, 3 Out Of 5



205 East Houston Street
New York City

Tel. 001 (212) 254-2246


108 Rivington Street
New York City

Tel. 001 (212) 254-1531


113 St Marks Place 2
New York City

Tel. 001 (212) 614-2728

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The Hannover Weihnachtsmarkt(s)

What We Say:

Happy Christmas.

IF you want a German Christmas market experience of your life – let me be blunt – Hannover is not it. Though the history of the city dated back prior to the Holy Roman Empire, most of its pretty, fortress-y Medieval features were destroyed in WWII. And I was left with a rather depressing conglomeration of post-war buildings, refurbishings and a shopping scene where 4-floored Primark reigned supreme. I didn’t make a destination out of Hannover. I was merely passing by. I wasn’t entirely disappointed…

In another more serious note, the Weihnachtsmarkt is of a decent size. There are three different markets. One is situated in the Market Church (the most attractive spot where all the photos you’ll find on the Internet are taken); another is the Finnish Christmas Market on the Ballhofplatz; and a Medieval X’mas village in between.


How to Get There:

From the Hbf/ train station, look out for stalls. They form a path or two for you to stroll your way around the three markets. Very easy.

Best to Go:

The markets in Hannover aren’t the most excessively lit or the most eye-watering polychrome, especially when compared to my last year trips to Koln and Dortmund. For a need to bask in the Christmas scene, it’s best to go near sunset and hang around until all is lit up and glowing. I arrived in early afternoon and the city looked un-atmospheric.

What to Get:

There are the usual stuff – wursts, mulled wine, gingerbread, candied apples, chestnuts, etc. – but I detected a lot of mini puffy square doughnuts, (French) crepes, and reibekuchen (deep fried potato fritters). The average price for all was no more than €3, with the exception of supersized things. Oddly enough, a few stalls sold stir-fried noodles.

The main bit..

Moving on to the Medieval bit and the Finnish Market. The smell of flamed grilled salmon (flammlachs) really perfumed the air.. and my coat -___-

Back to the Church Market.

Getting dark.

The XXL Currywurst glared at me at €4 (How much does a Bratwurst cost at Winter Wonderland!?).


YES SS :-9

What Else:

Fire play at the Finnish/ Medieval Market. The woman was good. The guy (behind) dropped all the burning torches he juggled!!

And.. if you don’t quite fancy a German market, do settle for a Guinness  >_<


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Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Lille

The destination..

Aux Merveilleux de Fred was not my intended destination.

But, thanks to my poor map reading skills (and perhaps good eyes for finding food), I stumbled into this little sweet boutique instead of the train station. This, as my luck had it, was the superstar patisserie of Lille. With a handful of Parisian and Belgian outposts, the Lenotre-trained patron chef Frederic Vaucamp is coming to be known as France’s meringue moderniser.

Marvellous boobies

To be honest, these plump, shapely hills of cream with a little dot on top appeared not too dissimilar to boobies. They are, in fact, known as “Les Merveilleux” – meringue enrobed with chocolate-y whipped cream and rolled in shaved dark chocolate. For some, they were very foppish looking; for others, they looked as if having been dropped on floor and carelessly reassembled. Taste-wise, there was an awful lot of aerated cream and sugar involved. All dissolved at a kiss and was very addictive.

At Aux Merveilleux de Fred, these babies came in different sizes – D Cup, F Cup. I didn’t like them big so I only grabbed the A Cup ones. There were also variants of white chocolate (with a black squeezing of dark choc Chantilly cream on top) called “Les Incroyables”. The coffee-flavoured ones called “Les Impensables” were also available.

Leaving for the train station, I did also ask for a Flan Nature to take away, and I immediately fell in love with the expertly jellied custard. Such a guilty pleasure…


Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

67 rue de la Monnaie

Tel. +33 320 51 99 59

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Indi-Go: Worthy Olympic Detour at Westfield

A novel idea it was that once you get out of the Tube and on your way to London’s brand new Olympic Park you’ll have to walk across.. *ahem* a shockingly vast maze of shopping mall. Westfield Stratford City, it is. I won’t bore you with my impressions, but I only want to tell you this..


Amidst all the chain and semi-chain restaurants at Westfield (I am talking Rosa’s, Franco Manca, Comptoir Libanais, etc.) lies this little gem, Indi-Go. A little Indian island on the Balcony boasting an open plan kitchen and a huge queue of ethnic crowds. Very cafe-like and looking inappropriately un-atmospheric. You queue, order food, get them things that vibrate, feel the vibration, get your food on a plastic tray (Yikes!), fetch your knife and fork, eat.. and leave. No service. No service charge. Not a kind of place you’ll linger there longer than an hour.

The menu at Indi-Go is pleasantly lengthy and focuses on Indian street food. Bhel Puri, Pau Bhaji, that sort of things. There are some biryani, some curries and many Indian sweets!!! This shows good promise :-D

I and the other bib was in a rush, so we tucked in what we felt would be the least time-consuming. Pani Poori was nicely presented and tasted good. These were six light, crispy rice balls filled with chickpeas, red onions, potatoes, coriander leaves and a frisky dose of spices. The tangy lime and mint sauce, albeit watery, shook the balls to livelihood. Then came the curries in massive bowls. Adraki Murgh – a thick, luscious chicken curry – rendered itself a wonderful heat and a perfect balance of sweetness, gingery-ness, cumin and spices. Firework in my mouth and very tender chicken pieces, too!! The same may be said of Kashmiri Lamb Curry. I particularly liked it for meaty robustness and a delicate note of saffron. That said, it wasn’t so much a soul reviver as the Murgh. I mopped it all up with two expertly and most deliciously puffed naans. Seriously they were as fluffy as a duvet!

And I spent my last few minutes juggling Gulab Jamun. Perfectly aerated and ridiculously spongy cake balls soaked in gently sweet syrup. LOVED IT!!

That was my meal. So immensely authentic it brought me to think of places like Dishoom and Delhi Grill. The bill for two of about £34 barely left a scratch on my wallet. If only we had more time, I would love to slowly nibble my way through the menu.

And, yes. I bl**dy take my words back. I can see myself linger at Indi-Go.. for hours!

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “7 out of 10″.


The Balcony (1st Flr)
Westfield Stratford City
Montfichet Road
Olympic Park
E20 1EJ

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Confectionery Pushkin, Moscow

Two so-so meals at Cafe Pushkin could already have shattered my expectation of the Pushkin’s and we could have given Confectionery Pushkin (just next door to the restaurant a miss). NOPE. This did not happen. I had Pushkin cakes half a year back in Paris, at a small Cafe Pouchkine – very annoyingly Francocentric spelling I know – at Printemps and everything was bloody damned tasty. Better than Pierre Herme for me, really.

And why?

Because of this guy.. Emmanuel Ryon.. the head patisserie chef at Confectionery Pushkin, the man behind all the eccentric, Mozartian cake creations. He is undoubtedly French. And he also undoubtedly won the World Confectionery Championship in 1999 enabling him to claim the title of world’s best pastry chef. He is also among very few Frenchies to win the most prestigious Best Professional of France. Patriotic winning which I don’t quite get. … ahem .. surely he’s great. Period.

Confectionery Pushkin is, like Cafe Pushkin, located in one of those false historical buildings on Tverskoy Boulevard. Verseille-looking decor. Opened from 11am till midnight. Laduree-like menu of sandwiches, salad and a prominent array of chocolate, macarons and bizarre-looking cakes. There were some Champagnes too.. we opted out.

We settled with two softies. The green one was tagged as “Exotic Celery” and the other was an apricot milkshake. The milkshake was a smooth delight. Gentle note of apricot. The “Celery” was very “exotic” for it hardly contained the stereotypically conceived foulness of celery at all. Instead, ’twas an ingenious mix of apple and cucumber. Refreshing and it slipped down my throat as quickly as my money slipped away from my wallet. I went back for this drink the day after – that’s the extent of how seriously good it was.


A rose-shaped, white chocolate cake with yogurt mousse and pistachio cream. Sweet, almost gummy white chocolate petals. Nice layers of things creating this gulf of appetising yogurty-ness. Very memorable but I think the rather spectacular look misled me to assume the flavour would be as complex as the look. The rum baba was a far more superior treat. Arrived in a filo pastry cup dusted with icing sugar. Cut to reveal a layer of fluffy arearated chantilly cream. Fragrance of spices. A joyful touch of rum. Actually this was one of the lightest and nicest babas I’ve ever tried – the other bib only gave me half spoon – and can be a contender to Ducasse’s traditional awesomeness.

We loved it.

I do think Emmanuel Ryon is talented – not innovatively so but inventively talented – and Confectionery Pushkin is for us the destination in Moscow. I wouldn’t particularly say it’s world’s best, though.

But if you couldn’t be arsed to fly there for cakes, just go to the one in Paris. More expensive but will surely cost less than a return flight to Russia X

Enough said,

My head rating says, “8 out of 10″.

My heart rating says, “9 out of 10″.


Tverskoy Boulevard, 26A/ Тверской бульвар, д. 26А

Tel. +7495 604 4280

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M&M World London: Emmm & Errmmm?? At Leicester Square

I spent a good part of my evening at Hampstead Theatre, another munching Sherwarma at Beirut Express but my ideal outing concluded in a psychedelic vision of militant consumerism at Leicester Square… in the form of M&M World London.

Annexed to the newly opened W Hotel London, this M&M store boasting 35,000 square feet and spread across three and a half stories is the world’s largest candy shop. It seems a dreamland of colours for tourists and kids. Many M&M personas in different colours and postures for ultimate photograph opportunities. Mr and Missus M&Ms in action.. On the walls are hung King Henry VIII in red and Queen Elizabeth I in green. There are obviously historical inaccuracies. King Henry of M&M is sporting a pair of Croc, while the crown on Miss Elizabeth Tudor of M&M is surely NOT what Queen Elizabeth has ever been portrayed with.


What about the chocolate?

One corner — you hear me right — ONE CORNER on the basement level is dedicated to M&M chocolate. Divided by colours. Only chocolate flavoured as I came across. No peanut butter. No global flavours. Is this because of the EU restrictions??

You’ll get to pick ‘n mix the calori – SORRY!- colours only.. and that’s about it, which I’d rather go pick ‘n mix Jelly Beans at Cyber Candies.

The rest of the store… houses M&M merchandise.

From knickers to blings….

From M&M dispensers to obese cuddly dolls. From smiley saucers to smiley cushions…

There were a lot of happy customers and a lot of loiters like us who appeared in awe….

Enough said but..

I won’t attempt at rating this. JUST GO SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!


Ground Floor
W London Hotel
10 Wardour Street
Leicester Square