It’s not everyday you meet a baker so extraordinary she goes by the name “Cake Hero.” One look at the treats Melissa Torres has masterminded and you’ll understand why the name suits her. As owner of the online shop Cake Hero, Torres spends her days creating, baking, and decorating an abundance of sweet treats out of the comfort of her Greenpoint home. She bakes everything from candies to elaborate cakes that are specially ordered by a variety of clientele. In addition to baking for friends and family, Torres has designed cakes for the likes of Cartier, Nickelodeon and most recently Vogue.
I had the chance to ask Melissa a few questions about how she got started and how she caught such a major fashion magazine’s attention.
Dudes! The Fourth of July has passed. August is fast approaching. Sure, this constant humidity and 90 degree heat sucks and begs us to stay indoors in front of the AC racking up the electric bill, but we cannot let Mother Nature win!
Autumn’s cool breeze will be blowing leaves in our faces before we know it. We’ve got to take charge and make the most out of the last of our summer weeks. Here are a few inexpensive suggestions to help you end these hot, sunny days with a BANG.
1. Bike to Coney Island
I dare you! It’s not as far as you think. Well, it is, but it’s a pretty flat, easy route and once you arrive you can eat a hot dog at Nathan’s, jump in the ocean depending on how hardcore you are, and then brag to your friends that you biked 26+ miles. Once you get past Prospect Park, you’re on the Ocean Parkway Greenway for a little more than 4 miles. This bike path is mostly shaded and separate from the street so it’s safe and for the most part a pretty sweet ride. If you’re one of those New Yorkers who’s never been to the historic amusement park, I highly recommend it. Heck, I demand it. It’s equal parts awe-inspiring and gross, but will dazzle you nonetheless. Also, you’ve got to ride the Cyclone at least once in your life.
Mark it on your iCal, vinyl junkies. Record Store Day is comin’ atcha this Saturday, April 20th, with a bunch of deals, exclusives, and giveaways that you won’t want your turntable to miss out on. For your convenience, I’ve been in cahoots with local record stores to help you plan your attack. Lucky for us, Greenpoint has two key record shops well prepared for the annual event: Permanent Records (181 Franklin Street) and Co-op 87 (87 Guernsey Street), which was recently listed as the best place to shop for records in Brooklyn by New York Magazine. Yeah, Greenpoint!
You’ll likely want to kick your shopping off at Co-op since the store opens at midnight Friday. Yes, you read that right. For the second year in a row the store will open its doors for a full 24 hours in celebration of vinyl. RSD ambassador Jack White would certainly tip his hat to that.
Meanwhile a few blocks north, Permanent Records will be open from 10AM to 8PM. Both shops promise to be stocking up on as many RSD exclusives they can get their hands on. (You can find a full list of those exclusives here: Continue reading →
A few months ago I purchased this doughnut map that features 35 of the best places to get a doughnut in New York City. It was the best $10 I’ve ever spent. Since receiving the map, I’ve been traveling throughout the boroughs eating a shit-ton of donuts and probably gaining a few pounds, but whatever. I’m having the time of my life.
Yesterday I went to #1 on the map, Peter Pan Bakery (on Manhattan between Norman and Meserole). I had never been before. Why? Because I’m out of my goddamn mind, that’s why. The place is a 10-minute walk from my apartment and serves some of the most delicious doughnuts I’ve ever tasted, and I promise you, I’ve tasted plenty.
Are you aware that they have a doughnut with frosting and red velvet cake crumbled ON TOP of the doughnut?
Are you also aware that their donuts are only $1? And the more you buy, the less they cost? Ten donuts, for instance, costs $8 and change. THAT’S IT.
I was so overwhelmed by the variety of donuts and scent of sweets that I started convulsing. It wasn’t the cold air outside. It was the ‘nuts, man. This place is no joke. No wonder Tina Fey once said she wanted to violate them.
If you live in Greenpoint, please don’t make the same mistake I did. Get off your ass, head to Peter Pan and go get a doughnut….or seven. I bought seven. YOLO.
I drank a lot of whiskey last week on my quest to find Greenpoint’s best hot toddy. The booze guzzling was well worth the effort. I’m proud to announce Greenpoint bars are no stranger to the tasty winter treat. I found a few bangin’ toddies in this ‘hood and got a little tipsy along the way.
Before I feign food critic and rate the toddies, how about some history, in case you’ve somehow survived without toddies all winter long? Traditionally, the drink combines whiskey, boiling water and sugar or honey. Cloves, lemon and/or cinnamon may also be added. According to good ol’ Wikipedia, hot toddies were once recommended as a cure for the common cold, but the American Lung Association denounced this because alcoholic beverages cause dehydration. Yeah, whatever.
Though a seemingly simple recipe, concocting the best hot toddy is an art. You’d be surprised how disappointing a toddy can be – especially when you’re paying $8 for what tastes like hot water with lemon. Luckily, the bartenders in this neighborhood know what they’re doing and tend to be plenty generous when it comes to pouring whiskey.
Runner Up:Greenpoint Heights, 278 Nassau Avenue Toddy: $6
Props to the hidden dive bar on the corner for having hot water ready to go upon my arrival. Also, I’m sending a virtual fist pump to the bartender for pouring half a mug-full of Evan Williams before adding the water, cinnamon stick and lemon with cloves. THIS toddy would cure a common cold. And knock you on your ass. Heights’ hot toddy isn’t trying to be anything special. It needs honey. I did like the holiday teddy bear mug, though. And I hear this place has great tacos.
Runner Up: Black Rabbit, 91 Greenpoint Avenue Toddy: $8
First, let me point out that Black Rabbit wins for coziest, most perfect toddy ambience. Fireplace? Check. Twinkly lights? Check. This is an ideal place to escape a cold winter night. My biggest problem with their recipe is the use of scotch instead of whiskey. Huh? It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite. Rabbit’s excessive use of lemon made the toddy too bitter for my liking. Additional ingredients include honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled and cooled), Tetley’s black tea bag, cinnamon stick and a clove-studded lemon slice.
Third Place: Berry Park, 4 Berry Street Toddy: $8
“Jameson. Fresh lemon. Honey.” That’s what the menu reads. There’s not much else to say about it. Berry Park’s toddy fits the traditional definition best. It’s simple and delicious and not trying to be fancy. It had just the right amount of each ingredient.
Second Place: Spritzenhaus, 33 Nassau Avenue Toddy: $8
For the record, Spritzenhaus almost came in first. I lucked out with a bartender who is extremely passionate about his hot toddy making. His trick: Coat the bottom of the glass (not a mug) with lots of honey. He used Barton’s whiskey, which sounds worse than it tastes, I promise. The honey disguised it well. You can certainly request better whiskey if you prefer. Spritz’s toddy also included a lemon wedge with cloves in it and a cinnamon stick. Fireplaces and Jenga definitely added to this Greenpoint beer garden’s hot toddy perfection. Bravo, Spritzenhaus. Bravo!
WINNER: Enid’s, 560 Manhattan Avenue Toddy: $8
Enid’s serves a perfectly whiskeyed and perfectly sweetened toddy that’s easy on the lemon (despite the use of lemon juice and a lemon wedge) and sans both cinnamon and honey. The secret ingredient that makes this toddy so goddamn delightful is…wait for it…maple syrup! In addition to its deliciousness, the hundreds of handmade snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and the still-standing-in-January Christmas tree provided the ultimate winter atmosphere. Enid’s toddy isn’t on the menu, but ask and you shall receive. Congrats, Enid’s!
The Enid’s Magic Recipe: 1 Part Maker’s Mark Bourbon 1 Part Fresh Squeezed Meyer Lemon Juice 1 Part Grade B Maple Syrup 2 Parts Boiling Water
Remember the last time you walked across the Pulaski Bridge? You likely were almost run over by a cyclist, right? Or were you the cyclist coasting at a rapid pace with no time to break as you approached a halted pedestrian stopped to snap a shot of that breathtaking Manhattan skyline?
Lucky for us, this danger might soon come to an end.
The city is currently in talks to create a separate bike lane for the bridge, providing a more spacious walking route and a safer way for cyclists to cross from Greenpoint to Long Island City. A bike lane would reportedly replace one of the Pulaski’s three southbound car lanes. The current sidewalk is only eight-feet wide for cyclists and pedestrians traveling in both directions.
The only roadblock (pun intended) is the Pulaski’s drawbridge. According to DNAinfo.com, the Department of Transportation will announce a final decision this March. Maybe Greenpointers will have a safe way to head to LIC just in time for ideal spring bike-riding weather.