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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

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Barbalu was just around the corner from the hotel we were staying at. Barbalu is the marriage (literally) of husband and wife team Stefano BARBAgallo and Adriana LUque. The couple rebuilt their new restauarant in the same location as their old restaurant Barbarini, which was completely destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

We arrived in the city late and had GrubHub deliver.

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Fettucini bolognese ($17) was ok, but came out more like lasagna since all the noodles were stuck together. The presentation for take out doesn’t do the restaurant justice. had I just based my review on the take out alone, it wouldn’t be as favorable.

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The Meat lasagna ($17) was tasty, but nothing to write home about.

Two nights later, we needed a casual spot on the fly to grab a bite, so we dined in the restaurant with my aunt and my cousin.

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I started with the burrata salad ($16) which was delicious – although I wish the tomatoes had been a bit more ripe. The burrito was smooth and creamy.

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The Spaghetti alla Chitarra ($17) with sausage and cream alla Norcina was delicious, I devoured my meal. We had a much better experience when we dined in – the restaurant has two rooms and a patio in the back. The service was excellent, for the majority of our meal we were the only ones in the room off the the right.

Barbalu

225 Front Street, New York, NY

http://barbalu.com

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Therapy 2

Thursday night I was invited to a cocktail class at Therapy, the private dining room at Ames Street Deli and Study.

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Ames Street Deli is the more casual spot to hang out, grab a bite to eat or get a drink at the bar. Study is the more formal dining experience next door.

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Both are owned by Sam Treadway, pictured above. He’s a talented and accomplished bartender, competing all across the country. Check out Sam taking home the first place win at the 2015 Shake it Up competition.

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I first met Sam at the GrandTen tasting at Journeyman, the sister restaurant to Study and Ames Street Deli, and we had a chance to meet again when the Good Ones had an event at Therapy not too long ago.

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Check out the cool drink matrix and menu at Ames Street Deli here.

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Sam started off the evening by showing everyone how he makes his ideal martini.

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He gave a brief history of the martini and explained why James Bond was wrong, asking for his shaken not stirred. Next time you stop into Ames Street Deli or BackBar, ask him why!

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There were about 20 or so participants and everyone had the chance to customize their own martini, choosing their gin, vermouth and garnish (and whether or not to add bitters).

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Sam explained that it is important to peel the fruit over the cocktail so that when the oil from the fruit mists, it lands in your drink.

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Some people chose to garnish with a lemon, an orange or a grapefruit. I found it interesting that only one person chose to garnish with an olive!

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Pictured, Rafiq Abdus Sabur.

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Look who we ran into, Mr. Opus himself, Graham Wright!

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The lovely Rose Drucker.

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Guests carefully measured out their alcohol in jiggers, an hourglass measuring device you see at many bars.

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After the drink was stirred, guests poured their drinks into chilled glasses.

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Pictured, Ryan Lee.

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Eric Klotch, Sam Treadway, Catherine Owens, Director of Food Sourcing, Social Media and Design at Journeyman.

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Guests were invited to sample the different types of vermouth available – tasting the difference between the sweet and dry varieties.

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Three guests were mixing drinks at any give time. While they were mixing, other guests were snacking on a delicious charcuterie board and fried cheese curds.

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Miss this class? Sam will be teaching another one on September 3rd – this time he’ll be mixing up some tiki drinks! Get tickets here.

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Good Ones Liberty Hotel 2

(L-R) Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of the Good Ones, Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Featured Guest, George Papachristos, Attorney; Carolyn Meenan, Co-founder of the Good Ones.

Monday night the Good Ones gathered together at The Yard at the Liberty Hotel for a party featuring all things Greek. Attorneys, Entrepreneurs, food bloggers, animal lovers and fashionistas mingled all night with Aperol spritzers and other custom cocktails.

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(L-R) Carolyn Meenan, Co-founder of the Good Ones; Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of the Good Ones; Alessandra Maahs, Good One and Scientific Writer of Research & Communications at Harvard Medical School, Biomedical Research Institute, BWH​.

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(L-R) Robert Whynott, Attorney; Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Featured Guest, George Papachristos, Attorney.

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(L-R) Paul Kotakis, Director of Annual and Alumni Programs at the MFA; Janet Wu, Reporter/Anchor at WHDH-TV, Adjunct Professor at Emerson College; Kennedy Elsey, Voice of Mix 104 Radio.

Janet turned Kennedy on to fostering dogs for the Great Dog Rescue New England, check out the cute puppy that is available for adoption in the photo above.

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(L-R) Daniella Messler; Tau Zaman, Good One.

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(L-R) Brianna Garland, Marketing Communications Specialist; Featured Guest, Allison Daroie, Founder at Paridaez; Elena Kollarova, Research Associate. Hair and makeup for Brianna and Elena by Viselli Salon.

Paridaez is an amazing company with transformative pieces that can each be worn a variety of ways. For instance, the “bird of paradise” top on Brianna on the left can be worn with the cutout on the front or the back. Brianna’s skirt, the “hummingbird” can be worn 4 ways, as a skirt (shown), a shawl, a scarf or a hood. The “albatross” skirt that Allison is wearing can be worn 3 ways – Elena is wearing it as a dress!

From the website: “The name “Paridaez” is as transformative as our clothing… stemming from an ancient Persian word meaning a walled enclosure or garden and later adopted by the Greeks, interpreted as the Garden of Eden and at times translated to mean heaven.  The sound and spelling was later changed and adopted into English to mean paradise.”

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Pictured, Janet Wu.

This puppy is available for adoption, for more information, click here.

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(L-R) Alessandra Maahs; Oksana Barchuk, Business Development at Educatius International.

These ladies brought their A game with the red dress code!

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(L-R) Taniya Nayak, Interior Designer/Television Host HGTV; Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Robert Whynott, Attorney.

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(L-R) Elena, Brianna, Tau.

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Elena and Sofie. Follow Sofie on Instagram!

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Kinda Touma, fashion designer, and Sofie.

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Brianna; Greg Ux, founder of Deluxe Life Fitness; Kinda; Lance Morrison, Professional Boat Man and  proud father of Sofie the mini husky; Elena.

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Alessandra is the newest member of the Good Ones!

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Interested in becoming a Good One? Join the waitlist for membership. Membership includes access to three events each month.

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And just to give you a taste of next week’s party, it will have a Candy Land theme and the featured guests will be Markus Sebastiano, a mixed media artist who specializes in exclusive large-scale art installations in restaurants, hotels, commercial spaces, and homes; and Christy Chow.

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Hope to see you at a Good Ones event soon!

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Abby Park 5

I used to work in Milton a lifetime ago. I love all the cute little shops and of can’t get out of the Fruit Center for anything less than $100. I was excited to visit my old hood and check out Abby Park, conveniently located on Adams Street. There’s plenty of on street parking – we lucked out with a spot right out front.

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Abby Park has a great dining room with windows that open onto the street. In addition, there is a large bar area and a private room downstairs for functions.

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They are highlighting a few different specials: Monday – Friday, from 3pm – 6pm kids eat free! Burger and a Beer for $10:  Monday through Friday, 3pm to 6 pm.

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I ordered from the Ladies Night menu which is available on Monday nights, 3 courses and a beer/glass of wine for $30. I started with the caprese salad. A lovely presentation and the salad was delicious – I liked that the dish had olive oil and balsamic.

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My main course was the bolognese. The sauce was a mix of ground beef, veal and pork with a touch of cream and it was all topped with a snowy mountain of parmesan cheese.

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For dessert, how could I pass up the key lime pie.

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They are also running a great taco special, tacos for $2.

Abby Park is participating in Dine Out Boston August 16-21 and August 23-28 with lunch and dinner. 3 course lunch for $20 or a 3 course dinner for $33. Check out the menu here.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Abby Park and my meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Abby Park

550 Adams Street, Milton, MA

http://www.abbypark.com

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New City Microcreamery 2

New City Microcreamery is located just across the street from its sister restaurant Rail Trail Flatbread Co.  in Hudson. The year round ice cream shop has ample seating inside and a large patio outside for those warm summer nights. You may have seen Churn 2 in Harvard Square, which is similar, but New City Microcreamery is the first of its kind, making liquid nitrogen ice cream on a large scale.

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We were stuffed from our meal across the street, but as the walkway to New City says, there’s always room for dessert! In addition to selling ice cream, New City sells Counter Culture coffee, MEM tea, ZOOS Iced tea and a variety of delicious looking baked goods.

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New City Microcreamery has a rotating list of flavors ‘on tap’. They offer homemade ‘gravy’ which includes things like blackberry balsamic, strawberry jam and hot caramel. Their ‘funk’ are delicious toppings like brownie fumble, almond granola, sprinkles and my personal favorite ‘corny flaky junk’.

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All of the ice cream is made with the freshest ingredients. The liquid nitrogen helps to flash freeze the ice cream to give it a smoother feel to it. New City makes their ice cream base from scratch and they allow the flavors to steep overnight. The liquid nitrogen freezes the base at a temperature more than negative 300 degrees! When we were there with owner Karim, they were whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. We got a sample right out of the mixer, and it practically melted in your mouth – light as air!

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Check it out the process!

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On the left, sesame almond tweel topping made with cinnamon from Dubai. On the right, baklava and sweet corn ice cream topped with corny flaky junk.

What is your favorite kind of ice cream?

New City Microcreamery

28 Main Street, Hudson, MA

http://newcitymicrocreamery.com/

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I was on my way to another shop when I passed by Bantam Bagels. What first caught my eye was the sign out front that noted they were one of Oprah’s Favorite Things, then I remembered that I was going to get these for Mark and Bekka for the holidays (before I came up with something else). These mini stuffed bagels are taking the world by storm – with Oprah in 2014 and then they appeared on Shark Tank this year! The shop is tiny, maybe 3 or 4 people can fit in comfortably at a time.

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Starting at the top left and moving clockwise:

The Everybody’s Favorite: Everything bagel stuffed with freshly chopped vegetable cream cheese.

The Hot Pretzel: Pretzel salt bagel stuffed with cheddar dijon cream cheese.

The Hangover: Cheddar cheese and egg bagel stuffed with bacon cheddar cream cheese. (available in-store only)

Check out the full menu online here.

Can’t make it to New York? You can order them online and have them delivered to you! And they are coming out with a new line called “stuffin muffins” which I can’t wait to test out!!

Bantam Bagels

283 Bleeker Street, New York, NY

https://www.bantambagels.com

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Rail Trail 1

From the time owner Karim El Gamal was a young boy, he knew he wanted to own a pizzeria. Years later, after college, going on tour with his reggae punk metal band, business school and living in 7 countries – he settled down in Hudson, MA and opened Rail Trail Flatbread company with partner Michael Kasseris in 2012. Karim and Michael are investing in the future of Hudson, not only do they own Rail Trail, but the pair, along with another partner, recently opened New City Microcreamery across the street. In addition to the two businesses, Karim also has calls Hudson home. Karim was generous enough to take the time and sit down with us at dinner and talk to us about Rail Trail, New City and everything in between. He’s charismatic, you immediately feel like you could be old friends. He was the ultimate host, we ate until we were stuffed, we laughed all night long and were taken in with his stories about life, business and travel.

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Don’t say the “P” word around here, they don’t make pizzas, they make flatbreads, and delicious ones at that. The menu changes 4 times a year, with popular items remaining on the menu and other items popping on and off with the change of seasons. Most of the flatbreads can be made gluten free with the exception of the stuffed mushroom and the Hawaiian. So many of the menu options are made from scratch, for example, they make their own dough, they make their own BBQ sauce for the Hawaiian pizza, they bake their own bread – it’s impressive.

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My dad used to work down the street at a pharmacy that no longer exists, right on the corner where Hudson Appliance stands. Back in the day, the neighborhood was very different, so it’s nice to see some great new businesses bolstering up the area.

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So let’s talk beer for a minute before we get to the food. Bar manager Rui Silva has created an outstanding craft beer selection, some I had never heard of. Some other beers on tap right now are: Stone IRS, Stillwater Folklore, Two Roads Moumit Hefe, Northcoast Puck, Foundatio Wanderlust, Downeast Cider, Foolproof Augtoberfest. There are 20 beers on tap so check them all out!

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You can create your own flatbread, but they have a bunch of delicious options already dreamed up for you like BLT (roasted garlic base, bacon, corn, provolone cheese, avo lime sour cream, fresh arugula, grape tomatoes), Lobster Mac and Cheese (creamy sherry lobster cheese sauce with shell pasta, lobster, funk, chive, lemon wedges), Prime on Wreck (horseradish buttermilk base, shaved steak, caraway seeds, caramelized onions, horseradish crema, cheese blend, fresh arugula) and Hawaiian (BBQ base, pulled pork, pineapple, caramelized onions, cheese blend). The dough has a nice char to the top of it, and they are always checking the bottom of the flatbreads as they cook so they don’t burn on the bottom. Our Hawaiian flatbread cooked up in about 2 minutes and was delicious – sweet and salty, a perfect combination.

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So we were dying to try the crispy ribs (confit and fried tossed in a bbq dry rub, fresh thyme, roasted red pepper, house ranch aioli), but they were all out :( Karim suggested the hot tots ($9) instead, which were delicious. Home made tater tots infused with housemate bleu cheese dressing, tossed in their signature buffalo sauce and served with a side of the bleu cheese dressing. First of all, these tater tots are not like the ones you got at school. They are the size of meatballs and they are light as air. They have a hint of heat to them, but they aren’t make your lips numb hot.

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For our next appetizer, we tried the avo con pineapple ($11), grilled avocado, grilled pineapple salsa, sweet corn crema, plantain chips and scallions. I loved the sweetness of the dish against the salty plantains. We couldn’t finish the whole app, so we took it home. I was thinking in the back of my mind that the plantains were never going to make it home – probably get soggy and I’d just have to call it a wash, but I was pleasantly surprised that the plantain chips remained crunchy the next day!

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There are so many things that sound delicious on the menu. Karim says, “order the first thing that caught your eye” and you won’t be sorry. So I order the bison burger ($16.50) cast iron seared rare to med rare, fancy sauce, fried onions, house pickles, smoked gouda, served on a sesame onion roll. The meat is so lean that they only cook it rare to medium rare, otherwise it would dry out. I love that they are introducing the community to “wild game” in an approachable style. You can’t even tell that it’s bison and I mean it in a good way, the meat isn’t gamey and it has the same mouth feel as a burger. The fried onions are an excellent choice for a topping and the gouda adds a nice saltiness. Let’s talk about the bun, house made and delicious, and it stood up to the burger, right down to the last bite, which is my criteria for a good burger (how often does the roll at other places get soggy and you’re stuck basically eating the burger without a bun??).

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I generally don’t get the vegetarian dish on the menu – usually it’s just pasta with vegetables or something equally unappetizing. The Muse ($15.50) caught my eye, and the way that Karim was talking about it, I just had to try it out. The muse is eggplant fried up in falafel batter, served on top of a couscous farro salad, with red pepper pesto, greek yogurt tahini, and xoriatiki salad. Let me tell you, as a meat eater, you don’t even miss the meat in this dish. The eggplant fried in falafel batter is just genius! There are so many wonderful flavors in this dish, each bold in their own right, but they blend to well together. I could eat this dish for days.

rail trail 11The service was excellent and the people that work at Rail Trail seem genuinely happy to be there – signs of a great company culture. Karim and his partner have done a great job in investing in their staff. I’m looking forward to heading back there soon and trying out some of the other items on the menu (and those ribs!)

Disclaimer: I was invited to Rail Trail Flatbread Company as Karim’s guest. My meal was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.

Rail Trail Flatbread Company

33 Main Street, Hudson, MA

http://railtrailflatbread.com

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The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is a family run business, they’ve been making ice cream for the last 30 years. The little shop is packed, so many people wanting to try out some of their unique flavors like Don Tot, Pandan, Lychee and Durian. Check out a full list of their flavors here.

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I found it amusing that pistachio is listed under the “exotic” flavors, but what they heck! Wasn’t really in love with it, but we still ate it.

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My favorite was the almond cookie, Chinese almond cookies from the famous Fung Wong Bakery soaked and blended into the ice cream. I could have eaten a pint of this in one sitting!

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

65 Bayard Street, New York, NY

http://www.chinatownicecreamfactory.com

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In an oversize world (I think of my iPhone 6 plus) do you remember when tiny used to be so much cooler? Sweet Buttons Desserts carries bite sized cupcakes, perfect for when you just want a little sugar fix (except for me, it’s never little). My logic is that since they are so small, 4 little ones = 1 regular sized cupcake. The store is white with a smattering of purple buttons decorating the walls and ceiling.

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(Starting at 12 and going clockwise) ($1.50) Vanilla: vanilla crumb, vanilla swiss buttercream; Pistachio: pistachio crumb, pistachio nut swiss buttercream, ground pistachio; Lemon Curd: vanilla crumb, lemon curd, lemon swiss buttercream, lemon drizzle; Nutella: chocolate crumb or vanilla crumb, nutella filling, nutella buttercream. The lemon curd was my favorite of the bunch, the most memorable and most flavorful.

In addition to cupcakes, they sell desserts in jars and cookies, check out their full menu here.

Sweet Buttons Desserts

84 Rivington Street, New York, NY

http://www.sweetbuttonsdesserts.com/

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We took the water taxi to Brooklyn. It’s such a great idea – no hour long, hot and sweaty subway ride for us! We hopped on near the South Street Seaport area and took a leisurely cruise to Brooklyn – it was the second stop and it drops you right off at the Fairway Market. We bought the all day pass ($30) which gives you unlimited rides all day. Baked is just a short walk from the market. There were far too many good looking things to only choose one, so we sampled a little bit of everything!!

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Grasshopper ($3.25) has a classic brownie base and is layered with crème de menthe and topped with a minty chocolate ganache.

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Good Morning Sunshine ($3.25) It’s totally ok to eat this for breakfast right? I mean, there is cereal in it…

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PB&J Bar ($3.25) raspberry jam and peanut butter atop a crisp shortbread crust. Topped with a sweet crumble. This one was my favorite of the bars that we picked up.

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Peanut Butter Krispy ($3.25) Dark chocolate ganache topping and peanut butter milk chocolate center on a bed of caramelized crisped rice cereal. I liked how the rice cereal wasn’t brick hard in this bar and loved the peanut butter and chocolate combination.

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The Brookster ($4) is a deep dark brownie base tart filled with chocolate chunk cookie batter. 1 word. AMAZING! Have to learn how to make these at home! (Although I probably shouldn’t)

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Oatmeal cookie ($2.75) coconut, dried cherries, pecans & white chocolate. I loved the new twist on this cookie, I would never have expected to put cherries in mine, but now, I swap out the raisins every time! So delicious!

IMG_9107Lemon lime bar ($3.25) creamy light lemon lime custard atop a golden coconut graham crust, dusted with powdered sugar.

Baked

359 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY

http://bakednyc.com

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