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Food From Travels New York

Cookie DŌ

Well who knew, dreams dough come true. Of course New York of all places has dreamed up somewhere this magical: a place to buy cookie dough by the scoop, pimped up with different flavours and toppings. Only in NYC.

Opened in January this year in Greenwich Village, Cookie DŌ serves up safe-to-eat, uncooked cookie dough for $4 a scoop, and people are literally queuing for hours to get their mitts on some of the sweet stuff. After I accidentally left a half eaten Levain cookie in a dive bar instead of delivering it home to my cousin’s wife as promised, I was instructed that under no circumstances could I go to DŌ without bringing some back to make up for my faux pas. On the weekends DŌ has queues of 1.5 hours upwards, so being nearby on a weekday afternoon I thought I’d try my luck on skipping the peak time wait – as much as I love cookie dough, time in NYC is precious and two hours can be better spent. The place looked clear! Success! I walked up to the door: ‘err sorry, the queue starts across the street’. Of course it does. Told it was approximately a 40 minute wait, I promptly joined in line and waited my turn, happy to wile 40 minutes away in name of the dough.

Luckily the stress of picking a flavour keeps you entertained whilst you wait. Cake batter with sprinkles and white and milk chocolate chips? Gimme S’more, made with DŌ’s signature cookie dough with added Hershey’s, toasted marshmallows and graham crackers? Or how about the Chocolate Dream made with brownie batter, Oreos and chocolate chips? You see what I mean? It takes a while to choose so it’s almost a good job there’s a queue. It’s worth noting that gluten free is well catered for too, the owner of the store being so herself.

Once you’ve picked your sweet, sweet poison you also need to decide if you’re going to have straight up cookie dough or make a sundae, an ice cream sandwich or maybe a milkshake…are you going to pick up a cookie bomb cupcake or a cookie bar too? There are so many questions to be answered waiting in line for Cookie DŌ that it’s borderline existential crisis. Once you do make it in, there’s a freezer full of cartons of the good stuff to take away to store at home for emergency cookie dough cravings, which is good news as you’ve spent the better part of an hour questioning everything you know about a) cookie dough; b) your sanity at your preparedness to wait in line for so long for dessert and c) run through every regret you’ve ever had and will this be one of them?  The cookie dough will ease the pain of your queue-inflicted existential crisis, so you may as well stock up now you’ve made it to the front. The dough will last 3 weeks in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer, so no worries at all if you got too big for your boots, ordered two fresh scoops and couldn’t make a real dent in it because it really was so sweet – don’t look at me. It’s like I forgot cookie dough is basically just sugar.

I eventually landed on two flavours: Heavenly, which was what it says on the tin, made with sugar cookie with Nutella, caramel bits, chocolate chips and sea salt; as well as Salty and Sweet, mixed with salted caramel, dark chocolate chips and sea salt. In hindsight they were a bit too similar to be a good pairing, though both delicious. The shop had a couple of seasonal flavours on, one of which was Snickerdoodle – cinnamon flavour, which would have been a shout.

But was it worth the wait? Guys, it’s cookie dough, of course it was worth it.  This is the only place in NYC offering cookie dough like this, it’s new and it’s a fad, so naturally there is going to be hype around it. The hype is deserved, but I don’t think it’s worth any more than an hour’s wait, so do try to go on a weekday when it’s less busy if you can – there’s too much fun to be had in NYC to wait for too long, even if it is DŌlicious.

550 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY 10012, USA
+1 646-892-3600

Open: Tue, Wed, Sun between 10.00 and 21.00; Thu, Fri, Sat between 10.00 and 22.00. Closed Mondays.

One scoop $4, two for $7 and three for $9.

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Soft Serve Society

I love ice cream. Chocolate is great, cake is even better, but ice cream I really love. Recent years have seen an insurgence of great independent ice cream makers doing their thing on the street food circuit and beyond, but rarely are they soft serve. Scoop ice cream is bloody brilliant and I have many favourites, but soft serve takes you back, doesn’t it? Ice cream vans rolling down the street playing the music you so desperately longed to hear as a kid every summer evening, Mr Whippy 99s, McFlurries even – soft serve ice cream is nostalgic, and still as good now as it was then. Now imagine soft serve pimped up as other ice creams have been, and let me introduce Soft Serve Society.

Part of the fun of loving food is having a hit list as long as your arm of places you plan to try – in your own city and beyond. Food is a hobby, whether you consider yourself a full blown foodie whose penchant is tasting course menus or someone who strives to know the street food market like the back of their hand. What’s even more fun than finally making it to a restaurant you’ve read about, is lucking out by stumbling upon somewhere that unexpectedly serves amazing food, and feeling like you’ve discovered it. Of course many other people will feel this way too, but this is essentially what happened when I walked past BoxPark the other day and found Soft Serve Society. The queue snaked out onto the street, but whether hype or the sunny day caused it, I don’t know. Despite being on our way to Voodoo Ray’s for a slice and a frozen margarita, we stopped off for dessert first. Who says we have to play by the rules?

As ever when it comes to sweets, the difficult part was picking our delicious poison. Sundae (£4.95) or regular ice cream (£3.50)? Or to go big and go freakshake (£7.95)? Soft Serve Society had taken this latest trend under their belt but considering the imminent pizza, I thought it may be overkill. We both landed on regular ice cream – flavour of the day: chocolate with sea salt. Turns out, sea salt is just as good in chocolate as it is in salted caramel. I’d happily say it’s among the best soft serve ice cream I’ve had, if not the best. You get plenty of it too, though don’t be too fooled by those cups – there is a smaller cup inside that one that stops about two inches down! They’re generous but not that generous.

The menu is small, only two regular flavours: vanilla and green tea (the founder is Japanese), but always with a weekly special. The toppings do the talking here, with everything from meringue, popping candy, granola, popcorn, honeycomb and even puff pastry, along with all the usual sauce suspects – chocolate, strawberry, caramel. I topped mine off with Oreo crumbles for good measure. The pull of Soft Serve Society is going back to basics: soft serve ice cream done well, and from an independent too. I hope they’ll start popping up at street food outposts and festivals, but until then, head over next time you’re in Shoreditch for your own taste of nostalgia.

Have you tried Soft Serve Society yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Unit 35, BoxPark, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6GY

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A Bit Fancy Food London

Ivy Chelsea Garden

You’ve heard of The Ivy, everyone has. It has long history of almost 100 years old entwined with celebrity visits, business meetings for the corporate world and special occasions. Whilst it’s certainly considered A Bit Fancy, the consistency of The Ivy’s reputation is surely based on its food, classic and high quality, as opposed to the famous faces who walk through the door. So when my best friend invited me to take the afternoon off to join her and some friends for a leisurely boozy lunch at The Ivy’s Chelsea outpost, Ivy Chelsea Garden, I naturally jumped at the chance. I rarely let the combination of the words ‘boozy’ and ‘lunch’ pass me by, and the opportunity to try The Ivy’s famed menu at last was enough for me to immediately book a half day off.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a beautiful restaurant. Stylish yet classic decor with white tablecloths, bevelled mirrors and beautiful big glass and brass lanterns throwing light across the room is second only to the pièce de résistance: a conservatory area that opens into the coveted garden. It was a beautiful day which would have made the garden area a dream but unfortunately despite requesting two months in advance, it seems you may need to know someone in order to secure a table out amongst the pergolas and fountain.

Seated in the buzzy main restaurant and starting as we meant to go on, we ordered a beautiful bottle of rose whilst we scoured the menu, everyone wanting more than one thing – the starters a particular battle. Apparently I’ve travelled back in time as I’ve recently grown a serious penchant for a good prawn cocktail, but after much deliberation I opted for the buffalo mozzarella with asparagus, edamame, roasted pine nuts, pesto and baby basil (£8.95). And what a choice; honest to God one of the best starters I’ve ever had. Good food is food that stays with you, and this dish is certainly one of them. Luckily for me, the others at the table were generous with their choices, so I got to try not one but two tuna dishes, both of which I toyed with ordering myself. Tuna carpaccio with spiced avocado, lime, creme fraiche and coriander shoots (£9.95) was no disappointment, but certainly out done by the melt-in-the-mouth Ponzu marinated tuna served with radish, ginger and mango with wasabi (£10.50). The arrival of salt encrusted sourdough (£4.25) and more of the aforementioned rose made the first course a hard one to beat.

Service was excellent throughout, and respectful of the fact we asked for a wait between courses, something that isn’t always the case and a real pet hate of mine. When we did get around to the mains, three of us had gone with the chicken Milanese topped with a perfectly fried egg with the goldest of yolks (£16.95), whilst the remaining of our party went for the sea bream. The former was excellently done, the brioche crust of the chicken crisping beautifully, along with perfect truffle Parmesan fries (£4.50) and thick cut chips (£3.75). For good measure I swiped some zucchini fritti (£3.75) too but found them too floury – the truffle and Parmesan chips came out on top in the potato stakes.

But enough of all that, let’s talk about THAT dessert. You may have seen it doing the rounds on Instagram; a chocolate bombe sitting in milk foam, melting as hot salted caramel sauce is poured over it to reveal a vanilla ice cream and honeycombe centre (£8.50). I know. Honestly, it’s worth making a booking at The Ivy for this dessert alone. It’s better than it looks and better than it sounds. Friends ordered dark treacle tart (£6.95) and frozen berries with yoghurt sorbet (£7.50), all perfectly lovely but the envy was palpable. Frozen berries over a chocolate bombe with salted caramel? Amateurs.

Regardless of whether the dessert of dreams stays on the menu (why would it not?), The Ivy is definitely a restaurant I’ll be returning to for years to come. Classic, fantastically executed food with attentive service in a beautiful setting, The Ivy feels like a real treat without the pretentiousness I’d expected. I just hope I can get a seat outside next time.

Have you been to The Ivy and had their famous chocolate bombe? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

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Europe Florence Food From Travels Italy

Gelateria Santa Trinita

When I’m sitting mid-way through a tedious work week, my patience being tried and tested more than should be normal on a day to day basis, my mind inevitably wanders to my travels. To where I’d rather be. We all do it, be it dreaming of lying in the sun on a beach somewhere tropical or breathing in mountain air in the French Alps. There are many places I’d like to be, but today it happens to be sitting under the shade of the Duomo in Florence, reading a book whilst sipping on an aperol spritz before deciding to wander down to the river in the late afternoon sun. I’d walk past Ponte Vecchio and along the Arno, crossing at Ponte Santa Trinita for this: gelato from the aptly named Gelateria Santa Trinita.

Flashback to September: word of mouth has spread, my bed and breakfast host Biagio sending me to join the locals and tourists alike to try some of the best Florentine gelato. Biagio never was wrong with his recommendations. Italy isn’t short of good gelato, but this place deserves to be written about and ventured to.

Gelateria Santa Trinita make fresh flavours every day, with up to 38 different flavours of gelato, sorbet and even ice cream cake in the busy summer months, and they are constantly dreaming up new innovative flavours to go alongside the universally loved classics. As ever when it comes to ice cream, narrowing down the flavours becomes a challenge – at least it does for me, as I’ll want at least six. One I almost never steer from is Stracciatella, probably because you never seem to get it in England much, and if you do it’s never as good as its European counterparts. Creamy vanilla flavoured with chocolate chunks in it, it’s the perfect accompaniment to something a little punchier. Today that flavour is their signature, the Santa Trinita; mascarpone gelato swirled with hazelnut chocolate – essentially, swirled with nutella. Yes. A thousand times yes.

I think it must be some sort of unwritten rule to eat your gelato whilst sitting on the bridge overlooking the famous Ponte Vecchio in the distance. On the day I ate the best gelato in Florence, the sun was setting on the other side of the bridge I sat on, the city swiftly becoming one of my favourite places in the world. And when you can buy gelato that good for a few euros, who could blame me?

Piazza Frescobaldi, 11/12 R, Firenze, Italy
+39 055 238 1130

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Europe Food From Travels London New York Paris

Aux Merveilleux de Fred

Merveilleux:  a cake made of two light meringues sandwiched together with whipped cream, then smothered in more whipped cream and covered in chocolate shavings. Sold yet? Yeah, thought as much. Or you could just refer to them as ‘meringue cream…things’ like me (my French is basic at best).

I would go so far as to say that these ‘meringue cream things’ from Aux Merveilleux de Fred are my favourite patisserie in the whole world. They are just…well, it kind of feels like eating light pillows of cream whilst meringue dissolves in your mouth with a bit of crunch and a bit of chocolate, and come on, it really doesn’t get much better than that.

Whenever I’m in Paris I drag whoever I’m with on a mission to the nearest shop I can find, promptly order at least four mini merveilleux to take away and shove in my mouth at periods varying between ‘immediately’ and ‘the next morning for breakfast’. Truth is, these are best eaten on the day. The shop make them constantly throughout opening hours and it’s all open so you can see them gathering up thousands of chocolate shavings lightly onto the cakes, from tiny bite sized ones to cakes to share, anywhere for between 4 and 24 people. Admittedly, sharing would be a tough ask.

My personal favourites are The Incroyable – meringue, speculoos biscuit and whipped cream covered in shaved white chocolate; and The Merveilleux – meringue and chocolate whipped cream with dark chocolate shavings all over. Also available as minis are the coffee flavour, cherry, caramel and my third runner up, The Magnifique – meringue and praline whipped cream covered in almond chips and caramelized hazelnuts.

If this all doesn’t sound good enough, just wait – Aux Merveilleux de Fred doesn’t just live in Paris, but in Belgium, Geneva, New York and London, too. Now if anyone wants to win me over, they only need pop over to the Old Brompton Road. No excuses, really.

Various locations: Paris (multiple), London, New York, Brussels, Knokke, Geneva

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Afternoon Tea London

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson

Birthdays, Mother’s Days, hen dos – afternoon tea is now a typical go-to for celebrations, but the occasion is at the risk of getting a little samey. For something that’s a little more unique, head to The Sanderson for their Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. I’m big on attention to detail, and every tiny little thing has been thought of at The Sanderson to recreate the kind of tea Alice had with the Mad Hatter himself. Beautiful crystal bottles on an elegant mirror tray are tied with ribbon that describe the flavour of tea within, the menu sits within an old vintage book and napkins are tied with riddles. And that’s all before you’ve even picked your tea of choice.

Homemade marshmallow mushrooms and carrot meringues sit at the top of a three tiered stand of desserts. Matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse comes in a dark chocolate tea cup and the layered mini Victoria Sponge is decorated as a clock, delicate icing taunting you for being late. The puddings are rounded off by a super sweet passion fruit ‘potion’, which has been tied with a handwritten “drink me” note. No stone has been left unturned and it makes this tea some kind of wonderful.

Sandwiches are fittingly quirky; classics reworked on unusual breads: smoked ham and mustard on a sundried tomato loaf; cucumber and cream cheese on spinach bread, which is dense and surprisingly good; smoked salmon and lemon butter on a dark rye and egg mayonnaise on lemon bread. As with all the best afternoon teas, multiple refills of sandwiches (and of course tea) are whisked over to you on request. Mini quiche and of course, scones, round out the feast and there’s even a Jelly Wonderland to help yourself to if you’re not quite full after all of that.

This Alice in Wonderland themed treat is a great idea for kids, who will revel in the old music box that stores sugar cubes even more than the nostalgic adults, but be prepared to pay for the privilege – at £30 for children aged between 4-11 years, you are paying more for the novelty at The Sanderson when it comes to the kids. Prices for adults are more standard at £38 per person or £48 with a glass of champagne included. Uniquely, Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea takes place every day, which is perfect for those looking for something special to do on a specific date, and we were seated under cover in the courtyard garden, still able to enjoy the sun poking through those English Summer clouds when the day allowed it.

The Sanderson is one of the better Afternoon Tea experiences I’ve had, and certainly the most memorable. Next time you’re celebrating – or indeed, just want to do something a little different with your afternoon, head to the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. After all, it’s always tea time.

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Australia Melbourne


You know when people just ‘stumble’ upon some “amazing little shop selling I swear to God the world’s most incredible pastries, served with free flowing champagne by unicorns” and you’re left looking down at the McDonald’s wrapper left over from your breakfast, which wasn’t even an Egg McMuffin because as IF you ever make it …