Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sweet Escape: Crumbs

Oh, for the love of cupcakes.

This entry originally took place on April 2.

It's no secret that my friend Chloe has a thing for sweets. Please direct your attention to Crumbs. Crumbs Bake Shop is tucked between Greene Street and University Place, next to Union Square. Across the street, on a sunny day, you can find street performers, skateboarders and artists championing their wares. On the day we happened to be there, a Vitamin Water campaign was in full swing. Free Vitamin Water for all! Sweet (I mean that quite literally).

Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.

Chloe isn't all too fond of the cake part. It's the frosting that she comes for. The rich, velvety vanilla frosting smears effortlessly onto the chocolate cake. I actually liked the thickness of the cake (much better than Kickass, that's for sure). Frosting is the bomb, though.

Going in for the kill...


One phrase: Power to the sugarboppers!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I'm not a huge cupcake fan, but for what it is, it makes decent snack fare.

37 E 8th St
New York, NY 10003

Baci & Abbracci, Pt II

Secondi 1: Pasta Farfalle with Cherry Tomatoes, Shrimp and Chickpeas


Wow. If I was already half full with my beans-infused appetizer, this dish just solidified the "well-fed" factor. Somehow, the blend of herbs and oils in the pasta farfalle was so flavorful I just had to finish it! The combination of textures thrown together kept my mouth happy -- thick chickpeas and fun bow-tie (farfalle) pasta. What's not to love?

Secondi 2: Pan seared salmon and mussels with broccoli

Vicky's salmon was tender and not overly seasoned. I sense that Baci & Abbracci is a family-friendly home-style Italian eatery. We noticed clientele trickling through into the later hours (7:30..8:30...). By 9 p.m, the restaurant was three-quarters full, compared to the empty house two hours earlier. A family of four was sitting behind us sipping wine. Next to us, two older gentlemen in ironed suits discussed a topic with rapid hand motions.

Our waiter asked if I wanted another caipirinha (a Brazilian drink made from cacacha -- a light rum, lime and sugar). At just $7 a drink, I would have readily said 'yes'! The caipirinha was at once refreshing and light on liquor, which is great for seconds. But this time, I left it at one. At first, I thought the bartender had diluted the drink, but on second thought I reconsidered that it could be due to an inherent property of cacacha (light rum being, well, light).

Dolci 1: Tiramisu

Time for dessert! My tiramisu arrived as I was contemplating how I was possibly going to finish it. In days of yore, I could have easily downed it, despite being stuffed. I mustered three bites...and those three bites were worth it. I loved the chocolate and espresso flecks. Powdered sugar on top completed the ensemble. Since I enjoy my coffee strong, I dug the hint-of-coffee flavor. Although the tiramisu's texture was rather light, don't let its airiness deceive you. It goes down heavier than you think (as I realized, patting my stomach five minutes later). It's how tiramisu should always taste. Not too heavy, whipped right.

Dolci 2: Yogurt Panacotta with Strawberries

My, that panacotta was sumptuous. Its tart sourness gave the dessert a luxurious feel, a far cry from frozen yogurt. The word that comes to mind is "elevated." Vicky and I readily give the panacotta two thumbs up.

Conclusion: Baci & Abbracci, which means "hugs and kisses" in Italian, surely delivered an intimate, welcome atmosphere. I would gladly go again, even on a non-restaurant week day. At $11 to $13 an entree, the prices are very reasonable. Ciao bella!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only thing keeping me from giving it five stars is the out-of-the-way location. I don't go to Williamsburg much, but when I'm here, I'll stop by again. Flavors could be a little more distinct, drinks could be stronger.

Baci & Abbracci
204 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.599.6599 (can anyone tell me why they have a Queens area code?)