Amarachi.

I dropped the ball over the weekend, so Christina and I missed out on this year’s CurlFest. I promised her I’d find us a delicious brunch to make up for it.

My generation has left the free before 11pm scene and is now about day parties and happy hours—and brunch! I’m talking two-hour waits and lines out the door, as we take our brunch very seriously. I often forget I have an OpenTable account, but it usually comes in handy in these scenarios.

Searches for table for 2 people for 3pm.

The results were forwarded and Christina selected Amarachi.

Amarachi is a family owned restaurant in downtown Brooklyn—with obvious roots from Nigeria and the Caribbean, cooking up dishes like Jollof Rice and Suya and Curry Chicken.

 

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Artwork on the walls.

We walked inside and it seemed packed! However, no one was eating. After looking around and putting 2 & 2 together, I realized they were having a private event. This would happen to us, right? Although they were hosting a private event, they were still open for brunch! Perfect!

We were seated by Jonathan as he went over the brunch special: a personal orange/mango/guava/pineapple mimosa carafe and entrée for $40, and their special Hennessy mimosa was available because it was such a beautiful day. I clutched my jade when he said those words—I’ve never heard of a henny mimosa, and although it sounded so intriguing, I had to pass. He left to give us some time to think about what we wanted to order. Christina decided on The Big Breakfast, consisting of Honey Jack French toast with scrambled eggs, home fries and turkey bacon, while I went with the Shrimp Linguini in a homemade alfredo sauce.

Jonathan returned to take our orders. When it was time to give him our selected mimosa flavor, Christina wanted mango and I wanted regular orange.

“Nothing about you is regular!”

You know that blank-faced, wide-eyed emoji? Yea, that’s what my face looked like. “Guava please?”

“Thank you.”

That interaction warranted a photo before leaving!

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Brunch gawdess.
The turn-around was quick—very much appreciated with a mean case of the munchies. Christina’s Big Breakfast certainly was big, with fluffy slices of French toast and hearty servings of scrambled eggs and home fries. The homemade alfredo sauce was everything I expected. Christina didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing—it’s a great thing! With their Nigerian and Caribbean roots, I expected it to have a little extra kick of spice, and it certainly did! And I must mention how beautifully the shrimp was cooked.

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I stole a bite of French toast off Christina’s plate—then I went back for a decent sized piece. I had to have more! Amarachi served one of the best French toasts I’ve ever had in my life. It had a natural sweetness we couldn’t pin-point, so I called my friend Jonathan over for a little inside information, hoping to get some secrets.

“We’re a family owned restaurant, run by four brothers, and to get our recipes—you’d have to marry one of the brothers.”

I love new recipes, but I love Chéo more, sorry not sorry!
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I’m convinced my stomach is smaller than my fist, so I surprised myself when I ate about 99% of my plate! That shrimp definitely made it to the doggy bag. Yes, just those three. We struggled to finish our mimosas. We started mixing them to try to help each other out, but still no luck.img_6559img_6560

Christina and I had an amazing brunch experience at Amarachi. I came home bragging about the Hennessy mimosa I hadn’t tasted because I knew Ché would want to, so hopefully we can get another beautiful day to go!

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Thanks for everything Jonathan!

 

Amarachi
189 Bridge Street
Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Happy (Belated) National Ice Cream Day

img_6422I double scooped Ice Ice Baby (triple vanilla) and Dough Boy (chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate brownie dough pieces) for National Ice Cream Day at Mikey Likes It! I really wanted to try the flavor of the month, Forrest Gum, but every time I came back to get it, it was either being remade or sold out! Think about it, it’s ice cream with strawberry crumb cheesecake and blueberry compote covered pound cake—no wonder it sells out so quickly!

Mikey Likes It
199 Avenue A
New York, NY

Sugarfina.

While I was in San Francisco for work, I decided to walk around to find a sandwich for lunch. What the hell was I thinking, knowing damn well the hotel was on a gigantic hill.

I found a sandwich shop, ordered a pastrami sandwich, and decided to go for a walk while it was being made.

A few doors down was a Sugarfina store. I actually walked past it and doubled back. I walked in for one thing and one thing only- Champagne Bears.
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I saved them until I got to Greensboro so I could try them with Chéo, my champagne enthusiast of a lover. When I say theses are boozy! Spiked with Dom Perignon, you can definitely taste the brut and rosé.

MUST. GET. MORE.

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*These were almost on the gift guide last Christmas but they didn’t quite make the cut. 

 

Believe the Hype: Magnum New York

Last summer, Magnum Ice Cream had their pop-up store in Soho where you could customize your own ice cream bar. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it and they close for the season.

Fast forward to spring of 2017- Magnum opened their pop-up this time in the Gansevoort area. The videos started circulating, so of course I had Sarah and Mimi meet me there to see what all the hype was about.

They have a variety of toppings to choose from: hazelnut crouquant, sliced almonds, goji berries, yogurt dots, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, edible rose petals, and dark chocolate-covered chia seeds to name a few. Unfortunately, you can only choose 3 for your customized bar. Then you pick an ice cream flavor- vanilla bean or chocolate- followed by the white, milk, or dark chocolate dip. Watching the process is so much fun. They throw your selected toppings into a drink shaker for a little bartender-esque action, dip the ice cream in the pool of chocolatey goodness, pour the toppings on the gooey chocolate-covered ice cream bar, then drizzle some more chocolate with a corresponding chocolate monogram disc.

img_5371-1I had a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in milk chocolate, topped with amaretti cookie crumbs, dried raspberries, and shredded coconut with milk chocolate drizzle. She was gorgeous!

Mimi had a vanilla ice cream bar dipped in white chocolate, topped with mini mint-chocolate chips, yogurt dots, and white chocolate pearls with milk chocolate drizzle. She was also very pretty!

Sarah had nothing, because Sarah is allergic to nuts. They usually have a packaged-away-from-nuts batch of ice cream bars sent from the factory, but we went on one the hottest days so it somehow melted while en route to the store.

So—believe the hype or not to believe the hype?

You better believe it! My combo was amazing, but I’d love to try those edible rose petals. I’ll be returning quite a few times this summer! ​


Magnum New York
875 Washington St
New York, NY

 

Pretty Please Bake Shop

You can’t recommend what you don’t know, and since this is the only bakery I know of in San Francisco, it’s the only one I can recommend!

But this is an excellent recommendation! With Chéo, carrot cake is king, so when baecation planning went into effect, I made it my duty to blindly find a bakery from across the country. 

Yelp will never steer you wrong!

My San Francisco bakery search brought me to Pretty Please Bake Shop. Not only were the ladies of Pretty Please a pleasure to work with, but the carrot cake we blindly selected was ah-mazing! Super moist and not painfully sweet flavorful, we had a few for dessert after dinner, then some more for breakfast the following day!

I was able to send them these isomalt crystal cake toppers I got from Lucitini Cakes on Etsy. I squealed when I saw the finished product- our cupcakes were beautiful!

I’m currently following Pretty Please on instagram, and what these ladies do with cakes is nothing short of jaw dropping! They even made the 2017 birthday cake for the Golden State Warriors, so you know their cakes are legit!

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Shout out to Lucitini Cakes- we definitely didn’t expect those isomalt crystals to be as tasty as they were!

 

 

Pretty Please Bake Shop
291 3rd Ave
San Francisco, CA

 

Women Who Cook: Dalal Monroe

I met Dalal last summer at an Empanada party—that ran out of empanadas—and I’ve been following her on twitter ever since. It took a while before getting around to asking if she’d mind being featured on #avaeats, so I was stoked when she agreed to a little interview.img_6247

#avaeats: You and food: who, what, where, when, and why?
Dalal Monroe: I’m Dalal Monroe, self-taught chef and owner of Little Love Catering in Brooklyn, New York. And why—because I loveeeeeeee food and cooking soothes the soul.

#ae: How did you get into the culinary industry?
DM: I grew up in a southern foundation family so cooking was a must know how to do thing. I grew up in the kitchen and food is just so amazing, I educated myself on more until I started to cater for people.

#ae: Is cooking a day job or a side hustle for you?
DM: Cooking is my day job and side hustle: I’m a chef at a private school for kids Monday through Friday.

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Chicken Empanadas with Avocado Cilantro Dip.

#ae: What style of cooking do you do?
DM: I can’t say I have a style, I just like people to experience really good food.

#ae: How would you describe your food?
DM: Flavorful.

#ae: What are some challenges of being a female chef?
DM: I wouldn’t say there was any challenges honestly, it’s so perfectly balanced between male and female chefs.

#ae: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve eaten?
DM: Omg I’d have to say it was this broccoli and pear salad with lamb—it was freaking amazing!

#ae: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve prepared?
DM: Oh, it was oxtail hash—still is out of this world!

#ae: What’s your favorite cheap eats?
DM: $6 plate from Hardee’s Chinese restaurant.

#ae: What’s your guilty pleasure?
DM: 2 for $1 honey buns from the corner store and sweet potato pies from the chicken spot.

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Oxtail hash.

#ae: Who do you admire?
DM: My best friend Chantaye—she’s really amazing. Like me, she’s battled health issues but still pushes through. She graduated with her masters and I cried. She’s my kids godmother, and even miles apart she never misses a holiday or celebration—be it the physical or her sending gifts. She’s been my biggest supporter since we were 16 I’m truly blessed to have her

#ae: Who inspires you?
DM: My daughters, Skylar and Leia—those are my life lines.

#ae: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
DM: Lab Clerk work, probably.

#ae: What’s your culinary dream?
DM: That’s a secret.

#ae: What one dish would you choose if it were your last meal?
DM: Surf and Turf with garlic mash and roasted asparagus.

#ae: Any talks of wanting to be a chef from your daughters when they grow up?
DM: They help me a lot now cooking actually but no—so far it’s an lawyer and a movie star.

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#ae: Oxtail, BBQ & Jerk Wings, Shrimp Boil, Mac and Cheese, Rasta Pasta, String Beans, Yams, & Cornbread: you tweeted this menu one weekend and I chimed in for details. You said paper box- what is that?
DM: The last event I catered was for -paper box is an event space I get hired to cater at often—that was an Unplugged event by a local artist. I’ve also catered events like hARTlem, The IN House, TNT Mic Series, TRUCKED, Buenos Dias Boatride, Ladies Dine Out, numerous parties, podcast, as well as meal prep for reality stars.

#ae: How can people taste your food?
DM: By placing an order directly with me at littlelovecatering@gmail.com, or catch me at any of the many events I do happen to be catering.

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Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Savory Waffles and Blue Cheese Coleslaw.

 

Believe the Hype: Chick’n Cone.

We see videos for new food concepts all the time on Instagram and Facebook- they’re adorable and look so cool, but do you actually believe the hype?

I met up with Sarah and Mimi (Savvy’s mom) to see what all the hype was about Chick’n Cone. 

The chicken and waffles you love for brunch has been remixed into a hand-held snack. Bite-sized chicken pieces, piled into a sweet waffle cone, and drizzled with one of their five sauces: : Kick’n Ranch, Yella BBQ, Cinna-Maple, Buffalo Blue or Traditional BBQ.

Believe the hype- Chick’n Cone* is as good as it looks.

*Their apple pie in a cone could use some improvements, though- I’ll remix it at home.