Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Milkshake Is Better Than Yours

Danny Meyer proves that all shakes are not created equal.

Since opening in 2004, Shake Shack, the “roadside” eatery in Madison Square Park has developed a cult following — which means crazy-long lines. Luckily, most people are waiting for burgers, which have been declared among the city’s best. For milkshakes, there’s a separate queue that moves quicker.

What makes these shakes worth waiting in any line for is the quality and simplicity of their ingredients — think: Gramercy Tavern, not Carvel. Flavors are limited to chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, caramel, coffee, and black & white. Each is made with frozen custard — as opposed to ice cream or soft serve — milk and one other ingredient. The black & white, the most popular choice, for example, is vanilla custard, milk and hot fudge. The strawberry shake, made with pureed berries, is perfectly sweet and the caramel, which uses caramel sauce, tastes as decadent as an entire sundae.

Even sweeter? A portion of Shake Shack’s proceeds goes to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which keeps the park in tip-top shape.

Shake Shack
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park

Monday, March 05, 2007

Chocolate Pops

A new way to eat crème brulée: in one giant bite.

With the plants and orchids in the front window of Kee’s Chocolates, an under-the-radar boutique in Soho, you could easily walk by with nary a glance. But what a shame that would be. Once you step inside the wee spot, the heavy scent of chocolate seduces you, preparing you for the perfection that awaits.

Since opening in 2002, proprietor Kee Ling Tong has whipped up fresh bon bons daily, with her chocolate molds and fresh ingredients there for everyone to see. Thai chili, Earl Grey, mint mocha, and green tea are just a few flavors that might be infused in the homemade chocolates at any given time. But one that’s always on the menu — that is, if you get there before it's sold out — is the signature crème brulée truffle.

The outer chocolate shell of the truffle is thin and brittle, attesting to it being well tempered. But inside, it’s soft, sweet and creamy. “Pop the whole thing in your mouth so it doesn’t spew,” the staff advises. Indeed, the custard filling explodes inside your mouth, with the subtle vanilla flavor perfectly balanced against the dark chocolate. And hurry up, and binge: Because of the custard’s freshness, the crème brulée truffles need to be refrigerated and eaten within two days.

Kee’s Chocolates
80 Thompson Street at Spring