Spicing up Brunch with Paprika

This past Saturday I enjoyed a hearty brunch at the East Village’s up-and-coming unassuming eatery Paprika. With a crowd shortly after their 12pm brunch opening, I figure that East Village dwellers are tweeting phenomenal reviews across the web or their $12 brunch is JUST that good. Could it be both? I was about to find out.

First off, arriving at Paprika at 12pm was the smartest thing we could have done. On my walk over I noticed enormous crowds waiting outside of other St. Marks favorites like Cafe Orlin and Cafe Mogador – tsk, tsk. By 12:45, Paprika was already packed with large groups of hungry brunch fiends like myself. And who could really blame us with a $12 brunch including coffee or tea, orange juice, and a healthy selection of main courses — we were pumped!

Our party of five ordered the Scrambled Green Eggs, Polenta and Salsa Cruda and the Mushroom and Fontina Omelette with Sausages and Tomatoes. Both dishes were absolutely delicious – beautifully presented, aromatic, and satisfying! The pesto in the green eggs made the dish bright and flavorful and tasted wonderful with the fluffy polenta and salsa cruda. The mushrooms and fontina in the omelet were also very tasty although I could have done without the accompanying sausage. But despite the richness of the omelet, the staff was polite enough to substitute egg whites for me at no charge – so I had no complaints!

I’d absolutely recommend this rustic, homey restaurant for brunch or dinner! I look forward to returning for their specialty – Northern Italian Cuisine! And in addition to their budget friendly brunch special, Paprika also offers a

two-course $15 prix-fixed dinner Monday – Thursday from 5-7pm. If you’re lucky, you may even experience a celebrity spotting!

PAPRIKA

110 St. Marks Place

Between 1st & Ave A

The Best and Worst of Aruban Cuisine

After spending three consecutive Christmases in Aruba I’ve had the privilege of surveying a great deal of Aruba’s restaurants with offerings varying from fanciful Italian delicacies to authentic Aruban prepared fruits of the sea. And I’ve found that despite the decor (elaborate or simple), the cuisine (Asian Fusion, Italian, or Aruban – or casual), or the service (which is mostly quite poor), all of these restaurants left me feeling equally disappointed, unsatisfied, and slightly cheated.

Living in New York has made me incredibly spoiled. If I want the freshest organic milk Manhattan has to offer its either across the street at the Food Emporium or a short subway ride away. If I get a sudden craving for delicious Indian food it is four blocks away. Good Italian food, one block – ten blocks for REALLY good Italian. And so on.

In Aruba if I want good anything I go to one of the now four Dunkin’ Donuts or a cute local shop called Dushi Bagels. I know, great name. A lot of things are coincidentally named Dushi in Aruba- boats, restaurants, drinks- you name it. And why? Maybe because in the native Arubian language of Papiamento, Dushi means precious. And let me tell you, on an island full of awfully plain restaurants, Dushi Bagels is a precious gem. This quaint, incredibly friendly “coffee shop”, located right outside of the Playa Linda, serves great salads (especially their crab salad), turkey burgers, egg sandwiches, and draft beer! Most importanly they have a lovely staff which is tough to come by in Aruba.

Aruba claims to be “One Happy Island” but their restaurants state otherwise. Despite the many duds I came across this past Christmas there were a few shining stars to be found.

Iguana Cantina

This causal Mexican eatery really hit the spot. With all you can eat fajita Wednesdays, the Levine family took advantage of this fabulous find which is centrally located across from the Holiday Inn.

Yemanja Grill

With Christmas vacation always comes my dad’s birthday and Yemanja Grill was a great place to celebrate! Aruban Decor and a sophisticated menu delighted our party of eight. And if you arrive early and stick to the appetizers and the grilled Salmon, you’re guaranteed to have a great meal. Just be sure to pay in cash as the service here is no better than the rest of the island.

Chef’s Table

Our favorite restaurant of three years. Ahi tuna appetizer and entree are excellent as are their salads and fish soup. The rest of the food is as plain and simple as is expected. But their desserts are a dime a dozen! Chef’s table uniquely serves all of their desserts in tall shot glasses!

Other restaurants I’d like to try….

Pago Pago

Screaming Eagle

Morandi

Places to stay away from…

Blossom’s (inside the Hyatt)

Cuba’s Cookin’

Scala

Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain QuotidienI think it’s safe to say that with a presence in 13 countries, French-trained pastry chef Alain Coumont, has created a pastry empire with Le Pain Quotidien. Le Pain Quotidien literally means “daily bread” and was first started in Belgium in the early 90’s. With 17 locations in New York, it’s hard not to notice this quaint eatery filled with delectable breads and pastries.

Pastries

Le Pain Quotidien considers themselves a bakery and communal table, which is probably one of my favorite things about this cozy chain. Diners have the option of sitting at smaller private tables or joining others at one large table. On the two occasions I have eaten breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, I’ve opted to sit at the private tables, though they are quite close to one another. But despite the lack of privacy, the intimate feel of the bakery paired with the rustic breads makes for a perfect weekday or weekend breakfast.

The cuisine is mostly organic and essentially French. Le Pain Quotidien offers an assortment of breads, soups, salads, and eggs for breakfast, but there is only one thing that I return for.

The reason I visit Le Pain Quotidien is for their Two Soft-Boiled Eggs with bread (see below), which makes for a nice 440 calorie breakfast. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy their other offerings, since I’ve never actually ordered anything else, but I just don’t see a reason in trying something new when you the thing you like is just that good.

Two Soft-Boiled Eggs

Two Soft-Boiled Eggs

Broken Soft-Boiled Eggs

Broken Soft-Boiled Eggs

Eggs Up Close & Personal

Eggs Up Close & Personal

The two soft-boiled eggs delicately sit on their silver pedestals just waiting for me to devour their milky white shells and creamy yolks. Accompanying the eggs are some whole wheat and sourdough bread with an assortment of condiments including Raspberry & Apricot Jams and a some variation of Nutella, but better! Clearly, it’s very difficult for me to even think about ordering anything else on the menu, aside from some coffee, with steamed milk on the side. Though my friend had no qualms in ordering something else and opted for the Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine with spicy tahini. The presentation was lovely, though I didn’t have any myself.

Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine

Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine

I hope all of you will stop into the charming Le Pain Quotidien in your neighborhood. Please note that the Two Soft-Boiled Eggs, with bread are only served until 12pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends.

LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN

833 Lexington Ave between 64th & 65th Streets

Breads

Muffins

Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain QuotidienI think it’s safe to say that with a presence in 13 countries, French-trained pastry chef Alain Coumont, has created a pastry empire with Le Pain Quotidien. Le Pain Quotidien literally means “daily bread” and was first started in Belgium in the early 90’s. With 17 locations in New York, it’s hard not to notice this quaint eatery filled with delectable breads and pastries.

Pastries

Le Pain Quotidien considers themselves a bakery and communal table, which is probably one of my favorite things about this cozy chain. Diners have the option of sitting at smaller private tables or joining others at one large table. On the two occasions I have eaten breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, I’ve opted to sit at the private tables, though they are quite close to one another. But despite the lack of privacy, the intimate feel of the bakery paired with the rustic breads makes for a perfect weekday or weekend breakfast.

The cuisine is mostly organic and essentially French. Le Pain Quotidien offers an assortment of breads, soups, salads, and eggs for breakfast, but there is only one thing that I return for.

The reason I visit Le Pain Quotidien is for their Two Soft-Boiled Eggs with bread (see below), which makes for a nice 440 calorie breakfast. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy their other offerings, since I’ve never actually ordered anything else, but I just don’t see a reason in trying something new when you the thing you like is just that good.

Two Soft-Boiled Eggs

Two Soft-Boiled Eggs

Broken Soft-Boiled Eggs

Broken Soft-Boiled Eggs

Eggs Up Close & Personal

Eggs Up Close & Personal

The two soft-boiled eggs delicately sit on their silver pedestals just waiting for me to devour their milky white shells and creamy yolks. Accompanying the eggs are some whole wheat and sourdough bread with an assortment of condiments including Raspberry & Apricot Jams and a some variation of Nutella, but better! Clearly, it’s very difficult for me to even think about ordering anything else on the menu, aside from some coffee, with steamed milk on the side. Though my friend had no qualms in ordering something else and opted for the Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine with spicy tahini. The presentation was lovely, though I didn’t have any myself.

Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine

Organic Black Bean Hummus Tartine

I hope all of you will stop into the charming Le Pain Quotidien in your neighborhood. Please note that the Two Soft-Boiled Eggs, with bread are only served until 12pm on weekdays and 2pm on weekends.

LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN

833 Lexington Ave between 64th & 65th Streets

Breads

Muffins

McDonald’s Breakfast Reviewed

McDonald'sSo I know this blog is supposedly be healthy but on Saturday morning I woke up craving a McDonald’s breakfast. It’s probably been at least a good 13 or so years since I’ve had one, but there was nothing I wanted more at that moment. And I think I’d earned this 1,000-1,200 calorie meal after a whole 13 years of deprivation.

I immediately looked at the clock to check the time since we all know, from the move Big Daddy, that McDonald’s breakfast ends at 10:30am, or so I thought. Luckily on weekends McDonald’s serves breakfast until 11:00am, and I had made it there JUST in time.

Although McDonald’s breakfast menu is a favorite among loyal customers, breakfast items are not served throughout the day. There was talk in 2006 of adding a few breakfast items to the lunch menu, to breakfast fans’ disappointment, never came to fruition. Though the delicious breakfast items are not the only reason customers frequent this fast food haven. And according to the NY Daily News, I’m not the only cost conscious consumer taking advantage of the $3.99 Breakfast Deluxe.

Apparently McDonald’s doesn’t serve anything separately anymore, so I was forced into ordering their Breakfast Deluxe which comes with 3 pancakes, scrambled eggs, a biscuit, hashbrown, and sausage patty.  Since I try and steer clear of what I consider “weird meat” I opted to keep my breakfast vegetarian. And I think a sausage patty from McDonald’s definitely falls into the “weird meat” category.

Despite the other wonderful meals that I’d had this past week, this was hands down the most satisfying. The combination of the sweet pancakes (which didn’t even need its usual accompaniments, butter and syrup), buttery eggs, and crisp biscuit really hit the spot. And I had almost forgotten about my adorable, sunny little hash brown, which made for a nice snack later on in the day.

McDonald’s breakfast is always a good idea, in theory, though I’d recommend saving it for special occasions (aka hangovers). Please keep in mind that unhealthy food is necessary, just in moderation.

MCDONALD’S

3rd Avenue between 32nd & 33rd Streets

McDonald's Breakfast

McDonald's Breakfast

McDonald's Breakfast Deluxe

McDonald's Breakfast Deluxe sin Sausage

Yum!

Yum!

McDonald's Hash Brown

McDonald's Hash Brown

Homemade Egg Sandwich

Homemade Egg Sandwich