eat. shop. love. nyc.

2nd annual Taste of 7th St returns

Last year, Scoop Street kicked off its inaugural Taste of 7th Street Festival with Luke’s Lobster, Butter Lane, Caracas Arepa Bar, Porchetta, and Xoom Smoothies. The weekend-long festival brought with it long lines and general foodie mayhem, but the eats were worth braving the crowds.

This year from April 20th to 22nd, the Taste of 7th Street Festival moves from weekend to weekday/weeknight  and is spread across three days instead of two (probably so it’s not as crazy as last year). For $18, you get to sample signature dishes from Luke’s and Butter Lane (2nd year veterans of the festival), and Scoop Street has added Wechsler’s Currywurst, Dumpling Man, and Cowgirl’s Baking to the lineup. No more Porchetta or Caracas Arepas – I suspect it’s because the lines got CRAZY long last year and it was kind of a nightmare. It looks like they’ve taken steps to smooth out the logistics, and I look forward to another fun and tasty food crawl – now with drink specials at Jimmy’s No. 43, Burp Castle, and Standings Bar.

Buy your tickets here!

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Downtown NYC walk, shop & eat circuit

[tweetmeme]Some girlfriends are coming in from out of town and they are staying with another mutual friend in Union Square. I have plans to ride my bike to Brooklyn with other friends after brunching with them, so I wrote up an e-mail with suggestions of where to go and what to eat given that their home base is Union Square. What emerged was what I think is a great rough itinerary for a weekend day when all you want to do is eat, shop, and fall in love with NYC. My perfect Saturday (or Sunday – or any day you don’t have to work, I guess):

I’ve taken the liberty of drawing a walkable downtown Manhattan shopping map for you (with words). We can start with brunch in the East Village, the earlier the better bc then we won’t have to wait for hours. I would like to go to Cafe Orlin at 10 am so we can get in before the 11 am brunch rush, or we can do Cafe Mogador if you want slightly more ethnic (Moroccan and Mediterranean), but if they’re too busy, Paprika can be our backup backup. After brunch, I’ll be leaving you, but here are a few suggestions:

Recommended shopping (that you can’t get in DC)

East Village – walk down East 9th St. (very close to brunch) between Second Avenue and Avenue A to find a sweet collection of boutiques, clothing and otherwise. I like Cadillac’s Castle for jewelry and I picked up a gently used Alexander Wang dress there for $88. I like Think Closet as well and I think they’re having a sale, and there’s Roni and so many other stores on that stretch that are so cute but I don’t remember all their names. A great area to spend a few hours shopping. If you’re hungry after, head over to E 7th St between 1st and Ave A where there’s Luke’s Lobster for a lobster roll, Porchetta for a slow roasted pork sandwich, and Butter Lane for the most amazing FRENCH (not the American) vanilla buttercream on vanilla cupcake that you have ever had – seriously, the frosting is so good I want to rub it all over my body. I rarely feel this way about vanilla. One block up on St. Mark’s is Crif Dogs for a deep fried hot dog – I like the Chihuahua – or Xi’An Famous Foods for a lamb burger and some hand-pulled noodles. So many choices, so little time…

If you want a quick break from shopping and eating, swing by Tompkins Square Park on Ave A and 7th/9th. Usually there are musicians or sometimes concerts and festivals. You can just hang out on the green for a bit and rest your feet if you like, or just cruise on through.

From East Village, you can make your way down south to LES past Houston, stop by Szeki on Rivington (she’s a doll!), Honey in the Rough, Pixie Market, Miks, Yumi Kim (sale section in back of the store), Foley & Corinna… If you want jewelry there’s also Hillary Flowers on Clinton St. By this point, you’ll probably be ready for a snack. I would recommend swinging by Baohaus to try the pork belly or beef brisket bao, or just get a Straight Frush between the three of you to share. If you are in the mood for sweets, go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for a $1.50 cupcake and some bomb-ass banana pudding. Or swing by Meatball Shop for a $4 homemade ice cream cookie sandwich – ginger snap cookie with vanilla ice cream is the best.

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Who says vanilla is boring?
July 19, 2010, 11:53 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat, Love | Tags: , , , , ,

Martha Stewart Show

I was walking down 7th St. in the East Village yesterday and I heard a gentle whisper in the breeze: “Eat me… eat me… I am a delicious cupcake… eat me…” When I looked up, I saw Butter Lane looming overhead, like a beneficent, sugary angel sent from heaven to ease my shopping-induced hunger.

I think vanilla gets a bad rap. I hate it when people say, “That’s so… vanilla,” like vanilla is a bad thing. I’ve got news for you vanilla-haters: vanilla can be awesome, and I’ve got Butter Lane to prove it.

I’ve tried almost every cupcake combo at Butter Lane, and still I can’t resist the seemingly simple combination of the vanilla cupcake with the French Vanilla frosting. (The French Vanilla is different from the regular Vanilla because it’s made with egg whites instead of whole eggs.) The cake is so soft and moist and subtle, and the frosting is rich and light and so vanilla-y. I dare you to try it and tell me vanilla is boring.

After I devoured my first cupcake, I bought another one of the same. French vanilla on vanilla. I’m so gangsta.

I asked if Butter Lane was teaching people how to make the French Vanilla frosting during their cupcake classes, but

it turns out they are just teaching cupcake lovers how to make the American buttercream frostings. However, they did tell me to check their website under “Press” because the owner was on the Martha Stewart show demonstrating how to make the chocolate cupcake with French Vanilla frosting. So I went and got the recipe for you from the Martha Stewart website.

Butter Lane French Vanilla Frosting


Makes about 1 quart

  • 7 extra-large egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise

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Bake cupcakes like a rock star at Butter Lane
April 8, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: Cook, Do, Eat | Tags: , , , ,

This, friends, is the vanilla French buttercream icing from Butter Lane, aka the best cupcake icing in the world (although I’m also a huge fan of the “Moose” at Sugar Sweet Sunshine – maybe they’re actually tied for best cupcake icing in the world).

Apparently, Butter Lane gives cupcake baking and decorating classes on Monday evenings in their cute little East 7th St. shop from 8-10 pm. They provide all the ingredients and equipment, you just bring your pretty little self. I would love to be able to recreate this oozy, sugary goodness at home. How great a date would this be?! $50 per person, unless you organize a big group of your own, in which case you should call ahead about the price. This would be so much fun on a bachelorette weekend! I wonder if they do any boozy cupcakes…

Classes are available on the following dates, current as of this week:

  • Monday, April 5 (8-10pm) *Sold Out*
  • Monday, April 19 (8-10pm) -Just Added-
  • Monday, May 3 (8-10pm) *Sold Out*
  • Monday, May 17 (8-10pm) -Just Added-
  • Monday, June 7 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, July 5 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, August 2 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, September 6 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, October 4 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, November 1 (8-10pm)
  • Monday, December 6 (8-10pm)

Fill out the form at the bottom of this page to sign up for open spots the classes listed above or e-mail to inquire about group rates and special dates.

Happy cupcaking!

Taste of 7th Street was SO worth it

I finally got the chance to try some of places on 7th St. that have been on my to-eat list for quite some time: Caracas Arepa Bar, Luke’s Lobster, and Porchetta. I was already familiar with Butter Lane’s delicious little cupcakes and Xoom smoothies were new to me. For just $18 each, I bought tickets to the Taste of 7th St. food festival and it was worth every single penny.

We started off on a slushy Saturday afternoon at Porchetta, where they seemed to have the mass service thing down to a science. The line moved quickly and we got our snack size porchetta sandwiches almost immediately. We ate them outside while we waited in line for Luke’s Lobster, and Michele, an Italian native, told us that porchetta (pronounced porKETta), a savory, slow cooked, moist and fatty pork roast, is typical street fare in Italy. According to Wikipedia, the body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porchetta is usually heavily seasoned with garlic, rosemary, oregano, fennel, and or other herbs. The porchetta sandwich at Porchetta NYC was pretty oregano heavy and stuffed between crusty Italian bread. I’d take this street food over hot dogs and halal carts any day.

We finished our porchetta sandwiches and made it to the counter of Luke’s Lobster, where we were handed snack size lobster roll of cool, lightly seasoned knuckle and claw lobster meat (no fillers!) stuffed inside a warm, buttered slice of toasted bread. Phenomenal. The lobster was perfectly succulent, and while two of our crew prefer warm lobster, we all thoroughly enjoyed the rolls. It was definitely the highlight of the food crawl! Easily the best lobster roll I’ve ever had: succulent, lobster-y, and unadulterated, just the way I like it.

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Gorge yourself at Taste of 7th St. foodfest Feb 27-28 for $18

I’ve been meaning to try some of the most raved-about places on 7th St. in the East Village (Caracas Arepa Bar, Luke’s Lobster, Porchetta, Butter Lane – this one I know well and love, Xoom), but somehow I just haven’t gotten around to getting myself out there. Thanks to the good folks over at Scoop St., I now have the chance to try them all for just $18. Buy advance discounted tickets here through the weekend only.

The scoop features nearly half-off the best signature menu items of 7th Street’s constellation of culinary delight! A mere $18 with this Scoop St. exclusive gets you $35 worth of the following sweets and savories at a discount that’s the chance of a lifetime (with an added bonus of $1 off beers from select bars!)

First, Caracas Arepa Bar’s authentic Venezuelan pocket sandwiches, considered the Latin sloppy Joe, will have you dreaming of the Carribean coast. This scoop gets you one De Pabellón arepa! Tucked inside these golden, soft-pocket corn arepas, is a magical world where you can build a pyramid of deliciousness– starting with a base of black beans, white salty cheese and building up to flavor-infused shredded beef and layered sweet plantains!

Next, get a lobster roll at Luke’s Lobster! With the minimalist mentality of a true Maine lobsterman, only the sweet knuckles and claws lie atop these grilled buns and embellishments strictly include a squirt of mayo and a pinch of celery salt. The sheer simplicity at the lobster shack is its forte, and these irresistible rolls are considered the “Holy Grail of crustacean cuisine.”

Thirdly, devour one of Porchetta’s mouthwatering pork sandwiches, where you will feel like you’ve wandered into the finer food stalls and butcher shops of Rome! With a plethora of different textures, you can opt for the moist, fine grained loin meat or the chewy, fatty type that melts in your mouth.

Fourthly, get two cupcakes at Butter Lane, made with pure ingredients like real vanilla beans, pure cocoa, rich darkchocolate, and fresh fruit that will fill your tummy with yumminess! Butter Lane’s treats prove that the homestyle wholesomeness from your mother’s kitchen can be found in New York’s urban jungle. Sink your teeth into delectable frosting flavor classics like key lime or blueberry or, for the more eclectic tastes, flavors like cream-cheese or grapefruit ginger frosting. Continue reading