Friday, March 6, 2015

All of Your Friends Are Obsessed With Pickle Shack (and so am I)

So, I haven't been able to blog about Pickle Shack because I've been too busy eating at Pickle Shack, ya dig?


In case you haven't been, Pickle Shack is a restaurant & bar that serves "damn fine food & craft ales." Most people already know this and are as obsessed as I am (dates soon, everyone!). Other people who live in a bubble are all, "But I don't love pickles" and I'm like, "A) what's wrong with you?  and, B) It's so much more than that." In fact, I don't even like beer; the food is just that good!

try not to be freaked out by the unassociated Snuggle bears in the window

Pickle Shack is all vegetarian, but many of the items are vegan by default. Those that are not have their vegan counterpart clearly described on the menu and they are thoughtful and creative alternatives: certainly not an afterthought. This is definitely not one of those, "just order without the cheese, butter, and eggs to veganize" kind of places and I really love them for that.

The first time I went I had to start with the fried hot pickles with preserved lemon aioli. I mean, duh. So, so good in every way a glorious fried pickle can be.


I also shared the vegan version of their fresh California artichoke dip served with crostini: with cashew cream, herbs, & smoked walnuts. It's already been ordered again and again because THIS is how to do artichoke dip right (this is how to do it wrong).


For dinner, a friend ordered the orecchiette, broccoali rabe, pickled hot peppers, parsnip puree with garlic. It looked great (and she thoroughly enjoyed it), but I wanted something heartier.


So, I had the scotch ale and wild mushroom pot pie, roasted cipollini onions, braised greens. Aside from not being as liquidy as the low-brow pot-pies I shared with my dad as a kid, it was pretty darn authentic. The accompanying greens were precisely prepared and the onions atop the pot pie deserve their own blogpost.


For dessert, the vegan version of the dark chocolate hand pie made with cacao prieto single origin chocolate, served non-dairy with cinnamon-cold brewed coffee ice cream. 


So, let's talk about this. While all the elements of this dessert went together very nicely, I moved the ice cream out of the way at the start in order to focus on the hand pie; I haven't had one since October and, before that, 2009. The crust: incredibly buttery and flaky tasting. The chocolate filling: warm, creamy, and so ideally chocolatey. But the pool of vanilla caramel was so thick and decadent that I had to contact the restaurant later to ensure that it was vegan: the more I thought about it, the more I questioned it. Luckily, it is; go eat it immediately.


On my next visit I scored the cornmeal battered oyster mushrooms, lemon & fresh cocktail sauce. It was reminiscent of the non-vegan "popcorn" shrimp of my youth, but infinitely better tasting & cruelty-free. Thankfully I was dining with mushroom haters so I didn't have to share a single one. Let's do that again soon, friends!

 


For dinner this time around I caved to the overwhelming pressure of ordering the vegan version of the sourdough grilled cheese, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, pickled sweet peppers, non-dairy herbed cashew cream. Not only was this one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten (that bread!), but I'm so glad I went with a side of fries instead of a silly salad.

 

Sorry for the horrid flash; Pickle Shack's lighting is not at all blogger friendly. Just focus on the fries, which are are freshly cut, golden, crisp, and impeccably seasoned. While I was scarfing them down I said, "I think they make their own ketchup!" to which my friend replied, "If they do this well making their own vegan cheese I'm pretty sure the ketchup is no problem." Point taken and appreciated on all counts. Further inspection of the menu revealed the description, "thrice cooked yukon gold potatoes with fresh dill, sea salt, house ketchup."


So many of my friends share in my infatuation that we're constantly finding reasons to go to Park Slope. In fact, I currently have 3 tentative meetups and I know what I'm ordering next (I'm coming for you, pulled "pork"). Hope to see you there.

Read more about Pickle Shack from our friends at Raven + Crow Studio.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Until Next Time, Cinnamon Snail

The Cinnamon Snail recently announced the shocking news that their trucks would cease to operate as of the end of this month. Chef Adam Sobel spoke to GrubStreet about the decision and it's incredibly worthwhile reading- if for no other reason than to assuage your disappointment, as it offers some harsh insight into the reality of running a food truck in NYC.

In light of this blow to your compassionate, mealtime rituals- an ode:
I'd already been eating Chef Adam's food for years when The Cinnamon Snail opened in New Jersey on Valentine's Day in 2010: Jersey City.

 

VM and I (and 89 when she appeared) became instant regulars at their Red Bank, NJ farmar location.


Then we were there when they made their New York debut only months later, where I began my love affair with the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough donut and continued to stalk them regularly in a second state.


When they began vending at the Bethlehem, PA Vegfest, I succeeded in eating their incomparable fare in a third state- most notably in a downpour.


I celebrated when their kitchen moved to Brooklyn and have tirelessly championed their generous endeavors. I've held silly contests inspired by their wackiness. I've mo-foed them repeatedly. I've shamelessly obsessed over the noberweiberweiberweiberhydrafab, and essentially ate all of their donuts all of the time. I even relegated a piece of my snapware collection solely to the collection and transportation of their donuts, dubbing it "The Snail Pail."


I participated in the recipe testing for their highly anticipated cookbook, Street Vegan, which will be available in May.

 

 Twice.

 

I've visited the Snail at events galore: from NYC Vegetarian Food Festivals to the phenomenal Vegan Shop-Ups. Essentially, I ate and blogged about them so much that I even had to resort to trying my hand at being witty- which is not necessarily my forté.


I've eaten breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert at the Snail more times than I can count (yes, even more than I've blogged), but it somehow seems as though it wasn't enough.


I visited for the last time this past Sunday for a slew of Snaily "lasts." Plenty of other fans had the same idea; we waited on line for 1 hour and 37 minutes and it was worth every second.
 

VM's favorite portabello carpaccio, which was also the very first Snail sammie she ever devoured.


My gochujang burger deluxe.


Oh, and my Thai BBQ tempeh (don't judge; you'd have eaten two sammies also)


89's arugula party.


And, of course, some donuts for the road.


I know there are great things on the horizon for Chef Adam...


as well as the entire award-winning Snail crew.


So, I won't say "goodbye".

 

Not "so long", "ta ta", or even "farewell". It's only until next time...and I can't wait to see what the future will bring.

 

Thanks to each and every one of you for every amazing thing.


Rock on!