Shoutout to Two Little Red Hens in Upper East Side/Yorkville

Two Little Red Hens is still my all-time favorite NYC bakery for what I consider quintessentially NY treats: Cheesecake, Carrot Cake (ok not really NY but it’s the standout here), Coffee Cake, Brooklyn Blackout, Black and White Cookie but in fluffy moiste cake form.

What’s especially excellent are their mini-cupcakes in every flavor if you’re not committed to a big cake. I heard they recently got a shoutout on some “best of” list so they were extra crowded when I visited last. Totally worth it though and glad I got to share this place with my mom when she was visiting and kind of an nice welcome back to NYC treat for me.

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They’re also on this lovely stretch of what was once “Little Germany” in this stretch of Yorkville.

More details on Two Little Red Hens in my ViewingNYC Post:


Every few weeks or for a special event, I’ll take a trip to Yorkville to get some noms at Two Little Red Hens, a charming bakery on 86th and 2nd. For a place that has over 1,700 Yelp reviews, it doesn’t seem to have the name recognition it deserves compared to the Magnolia bakeries of the world. I’ll take Two Little Red Hens over the ‘famous’ bakeries any day.

First off, the winning item for me is Two Little Red Hens’ Carrot Cake. Moist, flavorful, and honest-tasting with each ingredient standing out– it’s the only way I can describe it. Even the frosting has a subtle tart flavor rather than the usual overwhelming sweet overload. Their cheesecake and chocolate cakes are also standouts.

Two Little Red Hens’ amazing cakes also come in cupcake form. Get the Brooklyn Blackout, Red Velvet, Chocolate, and Carrot Cake to get a comprehensive sampling, which conveniently comes in large or mini-size variants. I confess… I normally don’t really like cupcakes and never fully understood the craze, but I’ll lovingly carry a box of the ones from here back with me on the air-conditioned bus so the frosting doesn’t get ruined.

The scones, banana bread, and the pecan coffee cake are my personal favorites to take on the road, which sometimes get overlooked in favor of everything else here.

What I love about the food at Two Little Red Hens is that each flavor remains distinctive and complex rather than just a homogenizing sugary taste, as you often find in other local bakeries.

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Remote Year Month 1: Split, Croatia (and Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina) Top Food Experiences

Soparnik

Detailed in my Top 7 Croatia Experiences. If you have a chance to try this fresh, or at all, don’t miss out. As far as I know, the family that made it from scratch for us sells it at the Split Greenmarket.

Michelin Star restaurant in Split that doesn’t disappoint. Recommended by a local for high quality traditional food that doesn’t break the budget. She mentioned they could charge more but don’t because they want people to have a great konoba experience. Make a reservation as it’s a bouncer-like.

Mostar: Tima Irma and Cafe Alma

Not Split, but a not-too-long bus ride across the border gets you to Mostar, which is very worth going to.

National Restaurant Tima Irma 

Worth the line and the gruff service. Insanely good prices for quality and quantity of food in a great atmosphere. Still one of my top Remote Year Food Experiences writing about it so much later. Get the Mijesano meso or mixed meat, which includes a generous serving of cevapi.

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Cafe Alma

Go for the Bosnian coffee, similar to Turkish coffee, but not, and served with Turkish delight. The locals will explain to you or watch vid in link. One of few if not only still coffee roaster in town, with one that “survived the war” as the family brags.

Luka Gelato 

Delicious gelato. Also a bit off the madness of the main squares of the old town and peaceful to sit near the fountain. Lots of unique flavors, not your average basic ass hipster gelato place.

Green Market 

Amazing farmer’s market with insanely good quality produce. Honest vendors and great prices considering how touristy the rest of the area is.

Dvor

Really beautiful, I mean, beautiful restaurant set outside an elegant old home and next to the beach. Think fifth date. Kind of a hilarious Remote Year memory for me as I went to dinner here for the first time with someone who would become one of my best friends on Remote Year, but kind of an awkward place for a first meeting. As with most restaurants like this, and especially in South Europe, it’s Slow dining with the capital S, but you come here if that’s what you’re looking for. We weren’t expecting it and went off a recommendation, but lovely.

Fisherman’s Pension

Rustic seafood island hopping. If you’re visiting and able to book a private tour to visit the islands, I’d request going to this place. A part of my Top 7 Croatia Experiences.

Uje Oil Bar

Worth a stop in the shop for an olive oil tasting and a meal at the delicious restaurant. I recommend their products to buy home for gifts, really good quality. Olive oil is what you’d expect sitting on the Mediterranean.

Bokeria

This restaurant is definitely kind of fancy tourist hipster, but is delicious and the restaurant group is committed to more sustainable tourism and being a good force in the community. Extensive Croatian wine list.

Find the location to all these restaurants and my other favorite spots this month on this map.

 

All the Feelings about Croatia, and Bosnia. Where I was at and what what I learned. 

Where I Was At 

Every month on Remote Year, I wrote a bit about my mood and what I learned from each place each month. I got more disciplined about this over time, even taking a spreadsheet grid of each place I went to and what I liked. I’ll start posting that in the months to come. But it’s been more than a little over a year since I left and almost two months into my return, so I should start.

I have to say, a lot of my learnings are not necessarily the most happy, especially in the beginning, but I hope reflective and needed to decompress from a year as unbelievable I’ve had. I’ll start on some of the fun stuff soon. 

To start, I had a dark predilection for visiting and learning about unhappy places and sectarian conflict. I can easily draw a straight line back to my own family’s history. You project your own history on the history of others in the tragic tapestry of the human experience a way to sort out one’s inheritance. It’s a particular Asian American refugee neurosis for those of us in the tribe and other with similar experiences, but difficult for outsiders to comprehend that constant state of mind. Given world events the past few years the awareness I’d soon no longer be considered young, I was in a kind of mood. 

I wasn’t ready for a routine and not ready to settle down. At this point, I’d also gone through years of feeling figuring out my identity, that didn’t fit in anywhere and deprogramming myself from intergenerational trauma. Unfortunately through that progress I had evolved into the sort Asian female yuppy monster – you’ve seen them on the streets of NY, SF and LA, a bunch of recovering ABGs never too far from a needless act of aggression. 

My co-workers affectionately told me “you broke out of a middle class prison” by job hacking to work remotely for a year. I digress to say we’re better off than most New Yorkers, so it’s some real first world urban elite complaints. Still I wasn’t feeling it, so with the encouragement of a dear friend and mentor who did RY I put laptop on my backpack and got on a plane to Croatia, which had to be the most fitting places for both literally plunging into beautiful ocean and into dark history. 

All the Feelings About Croatia and Bosnia

In between daily gorgeous swims in the Adriatic outside of our beachy hipster workspace, exploring the islands, seeing insane natural beauty, running through roman ruins, and still working my full time job, I steeped myself in really terrible news articles and reels about Srebenica and the Bosnian wars for probably more time than was healthy and read Girl at War  and The Tiger’s Wife. I remember also reading S in college and remembered what Dr. Quinn, shout to one of the best professors I’ve had, taught us about the unfortunate nature of how history repeats itself despite knowing it and the shock to Europeans of it happening again in living memory at their shores in the Balkans. 

This behavior was probably not something someone should do on a couch with a view of the sea or anywhere for their psychological and emotional health. This month I had in Croatia and the next two were weird places for dark historical tourism juxtaposed to a kind of magical European vacation and drunken party Eurotrip alongside serious work hours and pressure on top of the madness of the first two months. Your sense of time and experience becomes warped and compressed in this way on Remote Year along with a sense of displacement. A friend told me about a French word dépaysement that describes it well I think.

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I felt this acutely traveling into Bosnia. It was really the first time I contemplated and saw blue hair blonde eyed White people in such a destitute ruins and recovering from such a recent and tragic history. 

In Croatia, it felt like the past wasn’t far behind, but the scars of war are visibly gone in most places a tourist would go. In Bosnia, bullet holes and no go zones with land mines are part of the tourism. It’s one of the early experiences that sticks with me. When I think about my time there, I think about one of the best meals I had all year and the beautiful landscape while sinking into a disturbingly recent shocking moment of humanity’s depravity. 

Dark tourism aside, I loved hanging out with a few college students telling me how their family saved the coffee roaster they got from Italy during the war and about Bosnian coffee. They asked me questions about what I was doing there and expressed how they wanted to join the EU and be like another EU member state, be able to travel and get jobs in places like Germany. Definitely a favorite moment of the trip, even if bittersweet. Really want better for them.

What I Learned

The enormity of how little I knew about this part of the world sank in, and I consider myself pretty cultured and well-traveled. Everything from the beauty, how charming the people were in a particularly slavic way, and histories I need to learn more about. 

So my lesson for the first month was fitting for the start: how little I actually knew and still don’t know. This would prove to be hypnotic contrast when I got to Asia, so in hindsight I felt grateful for the humility. I really leaned into that vibe as we traveled to Prague.

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First Transition Day aka traveling hoard of digital douchebags.

The Best Foie Gras Experience at Au Pied de Cochon

This is a Love Letter: disclaimer a place I haven’t visited in awhile (possibly months or a year) but still exists in a place I love dearly but no longer live full-time at the moment – check latest reviews on other sites accordingly as some items might be out of date.

I had one of the best dining experiences traveling alone at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal in the super cool Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood. It’s not a fancy pants white table cloth place, feels more like an upscale bistro/French brassiere that is unpretentious yet refined. Definitely fine dining although hipster beards and tattoos would not be out-of-place here.

I didn’t get a chance to try the famed foie gras poutine since I dined alone, but I definitely will if I have the opportunity to return to Montreal. Instead I had apps of a fresh baguette with butter, definitely above average. I do think it’s the sign of a good restaurant when items that are sometimes throwaway are given a lot of care.

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Then I felt adventurous and had the foie gras nigiri. I had something similar awhile back at A Plus Sushi in Taipei. Not the most pretty, but holy crap, it tasted amazing and genuinely like nothing I had ever before. Fusion food tends to be crap, but this combo of big ole hunks of high quality foie gras, good nigiri rice, topped with the slightest bit of soy sauce made this trip worth it alone.

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Of course, I had have what Anthony Bourdain had, the Canard en Conserve or Duck in a Can – literally a pound of duck and foie gras cooked in a can with vegetables and thyme so all the fatty juices melange. I rarely can’t finish a dish, but the richness and how tasty it was almost nasty. I kept trying to shovel more bites of the fatty duck, foie gras, and lard-glazed veggies but couldn’t especially after the plate of nigiri and bread. I ended up taking half it back with me. I joke around about eating heart attacks in a can, but very little hyperbole here. Perhaps kind of an abomination to French Canadian chefs, but it was bomb the next day reheated with sriracha sauce.

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Eating at Au Pied de Cochon and Jean Talon Market were definitely the highlights of my trip to Montreal. For solo travelers, it’s a fantastic place to dine alone with a long bar in front of friendly chatty kitchen staff. I was far from the only one enjoying a foie gras feast on a solo trip.

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Ironically, I’m writing this love letter I mentioned I had been there to an older Canadian couple on the same bus I was traveling on from Croatia to Bosnia, who I thought were surely French tourists at first but then turned out to be awesome friendly Canadians whom I talked food and politics all day after we bonded after I mentioned I had been there. Nothing brings together people like food.

  • Website
  • 536 Duluth Est, Montreal, QC, H2L 1A9
  • $30+ Canadian Dollars or so for entrees and $12 for apps 

Shoutout to the Fried Chicken at the Commodore

Crossposted from ViewingNYC

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Had to borrow a pic from Yelp since I probably didn’t take a pic latest visit bc I had chicken all over my hands.

I recently ate at the Commodore again, which is known for their fried chicken, which is the best I’ve ever had. And I have eaten a lot of fried chicken. More than people should. They recently re-did their interior a bit that amps up kind of a 70s cruise line feel featuring fruity throughback drinks like pina coladas. Honestly, this place really doesn’t seem like it’d have good food, but it’s so awesome. This time I had the fried fish and grits, which makes me think twice next time about whether I should order the fried chicken or that, but I’ll probably be a glutton and get both.

First, the fried chicken at The Commodore is the best I’ve had in NYC. I keep coming back here and swear I’ll order another main dish, but I just can’t. The order comes with four generous pieces of fried chicken goodness and three mini-biscuits. It also comes with a helping of vinegar-based hot sauces that taste homemade, which complements rather than smothers the taste of the very crispy chicken. The chicken skin somehow has this twice-fried quality and volume that I can’t quite explain, yet devour against my better judgment knowing about the adverse health effects. An extra piece of crispy peppery chicken skin literally hangs off each piece like a bonus addition to the perfectly tender meat. The biscuits also come with a honey butter that tastes like it was made from scratch. Perfect.

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Faz Bakery in Danville for Persian Cookies

Necessary shoutout to Faz Bakery in Danville, CA for their Persian style cookies, so good with rich flavors of saffron. A friend and I just happened on this place after leaving a baby shower in a city neither of us leave near or really go to, thankfully Faz Bakery and Coffee Bar are an awesome Bay Area chain!

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The Shirini Diamond, Shirini Saffron Rose, and Shirini Chickpea. Get them all.

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