Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pineapple happiness, part II

I did it. I found the best dried pineapple in the city.

This was no small feat. It involved visits to many markets and specialty shops. It's been two years of sampling in earnest. I have spiraled into sugary orbits and toughened my jaws on stale specimens. I have consumed hundreds of calories while fooling myself that there is nutritional value in this pursuit — it's fruit after all.

Alas, I know there's no Vitamin C in dried pineapple and that it's not exactly a lo-cal snack. But who cares? When you find the perfect ring of dried pineapple, all is well in the world.

The reveal may seem like a no-brainer to some (nope, not Russ & Daughters). But it was a delicious revelation for me: Manhattan Fruit Exchange. Over there, in the Chelsea Market where I've walked many times before. But this past weekend I was finally lured in by the stacks of colorful candies, nuts and dried fruits in those enticing little plastic tubs.

This dried pineapple is pitch-perfect in color (bright, happy yellow — not dull with too much sugar). The rings are small rather than oversized. The meat: chewy and gummy. And the flavor is sweet and delicious. It tastes fresh and ripe and will be my one-and-only source from now on. Unless I find it better somewhere else.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pineapple happiness

For some, it's Cocoa Puffs. Others, Charlston Chews. For me, the sweets obsession that I haven't been able to kick since childhood is dried pineapple.

Starting at the ripe age of eight, I was hooked on their gummy sweetness. A store at the New London Mall had a big bin of dried pineapple - the uber-sugarcoated variety for sure. I would get a little white paper bag and use the tongs to pluck five or six rings from the happy yellow abyss. Back home I would sit on the couch in the den, with my tasty bag of treats, and surf between MTV and Channel 56. It didn't get any more blissful. (Unless my mom had made brownies or bought Ring Dings.)

Jump-cut two and a half decades: my obsession with dried pineapple has been renewed with a vengeance. I know where to go in every neighborhood to score the best stuff. At least the adult-me knows better than to get the ones cloaked in refined sugar — ew, those are quite awful. But slightly sweetened, gooey in the center, hard at the edges, a nice dark sunny yellow - nothing too bleached out - that's the perfect specimen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweets moratorium

It's been two days without sweets.

Every once in awhile I feel compelled to do the ole detox. Not because my jeans are too tight or that bathing suit season is coming up (though, of course, those things matter and, for the record, my stomach is making an obnoxious display over the top of my jeans). But it just seems unhealthy to eat sweets every day. Every day. It can't be good for you. No matter how good they make you feel.

So I'll do my usual goal of one week without chocolate after dinner, without a cookie fix for the afternoon slump, without French toast at brunch, without a handful of m & m's just because they're there.

So far I've walked by Teuscher (love you, champagne truffles), Amy's Bread (the size of those cinnamon buns…) Something Sweet (sugar cookies that actually taste good!) and Veniero's (another time, cannoli) and forewent a purchase each time. I have even abstained from finishing my chocolate marshmallow eggs that I hand-imported from Wahl's of Buffalo (talk about discipline).

The good thing is, in this town, I know all those sweets will be there when the moratorium is off.

Two days down, five to go…

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Waffling over dessert?

Walking home from dinner at Fatty Crab tonight, my mind turned to the trucks: the Dessert Truck, Treats Truck, Mud Truck, et al. I wondered if that waffle guy might be outside Trader Joe’s like he sometimes is.

Then, weaving in and out of the throngs of 14th Street shoppers, I saw red lights on the curb up ahead. Could it be? ‘Twas: the Wafels & Dinges Truck.

It’s a common story by now: guy enters mid-life and is unfulfilled with corporate career. Chucks six figures and launches absurd dream: food on wheels. There you have it, a truck peddling Belgian waffles on a night when you’ve slurped down curry soup.

It boils down to two choices: the Brussels Wafel or the Liege Wafel. The former is the traditional option, “Crunchy, light and yum yum.” The latter, the one I went for, is “Chewy, rich and flavorful.” (The chewier the sweet, the better.) Sparkling with sugar crystals, spongy and served warm, this is a quiet dessert. Simple in flavor, satisfying in texture, and subtle in size.

Unless you dip in to the Dinges: strawberries, whipped cream, nutella, dulce de leche, maple syrup and Belgium chocolate fudge can all be added to your Wafel to create a gluttonous dessert, or a “Wafel of Massive Deliciousness.” If only I hadn’t already eaten a gut-bomb of a dinner…

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


One good thing about tax time is that it gets me down to the intersection of Grand and Essex. It's where my tax guy, Adam, works. And it's where Doughnut Plant is.

Current flavors are as delicious as ever, skewing more savory than sweet. Toasted almond, vanilla bean, peanut butter glaze and coconut glaze are tossed in with organic orange, Valrhona chocolate and the always yummy blackout and tres leches. There's just too much immoderation involved.

But I was good. Just one yeasty doughnut: a toasted almond. It made up for the hours I spent itemizing my '07 receipts.