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Monthly Archives: January 2011

With a Name Like Smooch, It Has to Be Good

I recently started attending an irregularly scheduled yoga class held on Sundays in the home of a friend of my friend Curly Fries. The four other ladies who attend the class have a tradition of going out for brunch afterward. The class, which is held in Fort Greene, is offering me a simultaneous introduction to kundalini yoga and the brunch offerings of the neighborhood. So far, both have proved enlightening. After the first meeting I attended, Curly Fries and our hostess went to Smooch Organic Cafe and Wine Bar for our post-yoga brunch.

Smooch is a small, airy and funkily decorated cafe, serving espresso drinks and various sandwiches and salads. It is owned by Australians, which quickly becomes clear from the site of Vegemite jars. In addition to beautifully embellished cappuccinos, the coffee menu includes a flat white, a coffee drink from New Zealand that’s similar to a latte but is prepared using steamed milk from the bottom of the pitcher where bubbles are smaller. Coffee drinks came with the food we ordered— a nice extra that most New York brunch spots would never offer.

The menu items had funny names based on inside jokes and comic descriptions. At our table, each of us ordered one of two very similar dishes. The first, the “Tamarama,” was an open face ciabatta slab rubbed with avocado, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice and topped with slices of tomato and hard-boiled egg. This came with a flat white. The second, the “Pascales ‘I Get Up to Way Too Much Mischief in Fort Greene and I’m Loving it Breakfast'” was exactly the same thing but without the tomato. (While tomato sounded fabulous with the combination, I personally opted against it because winter tomatoes are so often disappointing.) This one came with a cortado. The dishes were simple and divine. The rich and tangy topping on the crunchy, crusty bread reminded me of my favorite Spanish breakfast— an open-face baguette spread with fresh tomato and drizzled with flavorful olive oil. The avocado added another dimension to that acid-fat combination, and the hard-boiled egg made it a more substantial meal. I decided I could eat this dish every morning for the rest of my life without getting tired of it.

But I might want to vary that routine once in a while with a bowl of granola like the one offered a Smooch. The three of us shared one bowl of in addition to our sandwiches, and this was one impressive bowl of granola. The granola itself had nice crunch and just the right touch of sweetness, but the yogurt it came with was so rich and creamy that it took everything to the next level. The dish also came with beautiful fruit, including berries, bananas and apples, which made us feel virtuous and satisfied.

The meal at Smooch was a perfect post-yoga indulgence: fresh, healthy and invigorating. But maybe next time I’ll skip the yoga and try the restaurant’s wine bar. Namaste.

Smooch Organic Cafe and Wine Bar
264 Carlton Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11205
718.624.4075

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Motorino Might Be Worth All The Hype

There are some restaurants that are fawned over so much by the food media and my fellow bloggers that they become impenetrable in my mind. I convince myself that I’ll never be able to go to them because I’ll never be able to get a reservation or the line will always be impossibly long. For some reason, Motorino, touted as New York’s best pizza by multiple outlets, was one of those places.

Finally one Saturday about a month ago, Empanada Boy and I decided to go out to dinner after spending most of the day cooped up inside. It was already pretty late, so on the spur of the moment, I thought, why not take a chance with Motorino? The restaurant has two locations, one in the East Village and the other in Williamsburg. We went to Williamsburg, and to my surprise, there was a mere 20-minute wait when we arrived. The restaurant is crowded, but cozy and well-lit, with a bar where you can wait for a table to open up. We ordered some beers, which helped pass the time nicely. We were seated at a somewhat cramped table in the middle of the dining space, but any thoughts of displeasure vanished when we saw the bubbly-crusted Neopolitan-style pizzas wafting out of the kitchen toward neighboring tables.

We started with a punchy, flavor-packed salad of arugula, bacon, figs and gorgonzola. I loved how the peppery zing of the arugula played off the creamy, smoky and sweet toppings. For one of our pizzas, we selected the seasonal Brussels sprout pie, topped with fior di latte mozzarella, garlic, pancetta and pecorino. This had a lovely autumnal depth from the roasted sprouts and garlic. The mozzarella added creamy richness, while the pecorino delivered a hint of funk. And the crust was fantastic: light, with marvelous chew and satisfying blackened pock marks along its bubbly, olive-oiled edge.

Our second pizza was more traditional, but also delicious. Unlike the Brussels sprout pizza, this one had a slightly sweet, slightly tangy tomato. It also had spicy soppressata, creamy fior di latte, chili flakes and garlic. This pizza was delicious and beats out most I’ve had, but I still think I liked the Brussels sprouts better for its unique combination of flavors and ability to capture the essence of the season. Surely I’ll be interested in eating something lighter come spring, but for the encroaching cold of December, that pizza hit the mark.

Most importantly, I now know that an off-the-cuff trip to Motorino is possible any time I feel like a great slice (or three) of pizza. Empanada Boy and I may well find ourselves waiting at the bar there again soon, as the craving moves us. Maybe we’ll even stop in tonight…

Motorino
319 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718.599.8899

Also at

349 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.777.2644

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