Going around SoHo with Ces

My “neighbor”, Ces, had written a rejoinder to something I wrote about putting up my own boutique in SoHo, but it was her comment about going around SoHo that inspired me to write about one of my favorite places to while away a day in this busy city.

So where would I take you, Ces, if we had the luxury of stealing a day away from our motherly and wifely duties and just have a girls’ outing downtown?  I’d start with brunch at one of my favorite Asian fusion restaurants owned by a Filipino (UP alums both, I heard) husband and wife chef team — Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa — called Cendrillon.  While their breakfast fare is very close to what we would call traditional (tapsilog, logsilog, daing na trout), be aware that their entrees for lunch and dinner are sometimes quite a departure from what we are used to.  (Take note of their lumpiang sariwa which is not rendered in typical fashion, but worth trying nonetheless.  I personally go for the ukoy, though.  Crunchy and as ukoy as ukoy gets..)

For dessert, we have two options.  If we have room to splurge (meaning we didn’t have the buko pie at Cendrillon), I’d take you down to The Cupping Room Cafe for some sinful treats and a pot of tea or a cup of your coffee of choice (espresso?  latte?) — but not before you and I check out Gourmet Garage one of my favorite stops whenever I am in this part of the city.  They claim to be “New York City’s favorite neighborhood marketplace for fine foods,” and I must say I agree that they are in the same league as Zeytuna and Grand Central Market Place although each has it’s distinctive appeal.

If, however, we are, too full — let’s stop by Cafe Cafe and enjoy something lighter and less sinful in a very casual yet cozy atmosphere.  (I wouldn’t worry about the calories, though, because we will walk it off.)

After all that food, we’ll take our time exploring the streets and shops — take your pick — Kate Spade, Pearl River (a huge Chinese/Asian themed emporium where you can find anything from chopsticks to fabrics and a ton of other stuff), and knowing your culinary inclinations, we cannot not go to Broadway Panhandler (I always like browsing in kitchenware stores and look at all these fancy gadgets) — maybe find our dream location for our dream store, because after all, it costs nothing to dream.  It’s making that dream a reality that might cost us an arm and a leg but what the heck?!  We might win the lotto in the next draw!

Now I don’t know if you’re into wine or not but whether we go on a weekday or Sunday, we can stop by Vintage New York which sells only wines made in New York and is just about the only wine store in the city open on a Sunday.  I get my cooking wine from their stocks and always find their cheese offerings very interesting.  Alan is the one who chooses the wine for our racks to consume when we feel like splitting a bottle between us or when we entertain friends.  (They are part of the same group which runs the Rivendell Winery in upstate New York but let me save that for another post.)

So many things to do and see in this most interesting part of New York City.. make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes, though, and be ready to walk, walk, walk. 

Pictures of Cafe Cafe and street scenes of SoHo coming
Need to fish them out of my archives!

My sweet indulgence this weekend — Chocolate Fondue

We stayed home all weekend to give Angel a chance to recuperate from the on and off fever (which finally abated overnight Saturday) and his coughing, what with the inclement weather that’s been hogging New York and much of the East Coast of late.  It meant eating all meals at home, keeping away from the malls (until Sunday afternoon at least) and just lounging away in front of the TV.

We did our grocery shopping yesterday while Angel napped and my mother-in-law watched over him.  I had dinner taken cared of (Arroz a la cubana with plantains and fried eggs as a side), and I decided to prepare some chocolate fondue as a special treat.

I have a ceramic mini-fondue burner which works well with a votive candle, but I decided to do without it this time.  I got some strawberries and ripe bananas, a giant bar of special dark chocolate, some chocolate chips and I already had the milk in the fridge.  While chocolate alone works well, it can get too thick and tends to burn.  One thing I had learned surfing the web for chocolate fondue recipes is that it’s important that you work with a liquid base that will help you melt the chocolate evenly even if you’re not using a double boiler.  There are recipes that suggest using corn syrup.  Some recipes suggest using some heavy cream, I use 2% milk. 

You really have to eyeball it and use just enough to make sure the base of your pan is covered, so that any chocolate that melts doesn’t go straight to the bottom of the pan which can lead it to burn easily.  I broke off the chocolate bar into smaller pieces (after having left it in room temperature to make it melt easire) and stirred as it melted.  I only added the chocolate chips to temper off the intensity of the dark chocolate and voila, a special dessert for a quiet evening at home.

Hoping to get my reading list going

I was about to bring home my copy of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA this weekend when I thought twice about it because I remembered I still had my latest Glamour, O (Oprah), Parenting and People waiting next to my half-finished Blink.  That “blink” has become a “nap” and I haven’t quite finished reading it yet despite my initial fascination with the simplicity of the ideas presented there.

At lunch as I was trying to feed Angel by his folding Pooh sofa next to my book shelf, I looked up and saw at least another dozen books waiting to be read.  Talk about a reading rut.. I have to get reading — otherwise, I’m not buying any books until this time next year.

Now where’s that book, Blink… have to get going with the “thin slicing”.. (If you have read the book, you will have an idea what I’m talking about.)