March 30, 2010

East Village's Ciao for Now Cafe & Bakery/Sustainable NYC get the "Green" Award from The Coffeebeaners

Ever since I was employed at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the only GREEN museum in the city (with bamboo floors, low sink faucets, solar panels and more) I have been ultra conscious of my carbon footprint.  It is difficult and frustrating at times to take everything where someone else can make good use of it but there was no going back once I realized how wasteful I was and how easily convinced I was to buy something unnecessary. I can’t help but also be cautious of my family’s consumption of products and our responsibility to try and fix things and recycle them instead of throwing them on the sidewalk to end up in some landfill.  Now we recycle our computers, our number five plastics get dropped off at Whole Foods, we reuse all of our grocery plastic bags every time we buy fruits and vegetable, sometimes we turn old clothes into rags so that we don’t have to use as many paper towels and we reuse water for plants and on and on.  I give Diego bits of information on how this helps the planet, not too much to overwhelm him, just enough info to make him see how valuable our resources are and how we can appreciate the things we have. 

This past year D and I visited the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and we learned so much about human’s impact on earth.  We were asked to make a pledge that day.  On video, I promised I would stop buying plastic water bottles and he promised that he would start using rechargeable batteries instead of regular ones for his toys.  Little by little we make small changes that make us feel like we are helping our own lives and the planet. 

This past weekend we found the perfect place to invest in a reusable coffee mug that I could use for our coffeebeaner excursions….

On Avenue A between 8th & 9th in the East Village is a café and “green” business that combined are like no other business in New York City.   Sustainable NYC & Ciao for Now share this space and together they form a penny size café and a store of products and gift items that are local, organic, recycled, fair trade, re-purposed, and/or biodegradeable.  We have never seen anything like it. 
As you walk in you see products like clocks (powered by the iodine in water), purses made from old keyboards, glasses made out of old beer bottles, big crayons made from melted and broken ones, pencils made from paper, notebooks made out of bottle caps, and an amazing array of gifts that somehow will degrade easier and faster when placed among compost.  On the right lie rock colored tables with aloe-like plants and a back drop set of walls that look like tall grass and trees full of leaves.  Anyone who walks into this place will feel an instant awareness and great energy burst.  Both Diego and I walked in and felt revived and we hadn’t even had our regular sugar fix yet.  We felt even better after the Valrhona Hot Chocolate, the Ink! Coffee, and melt-in-your-mouth Polenta Muffins. 
Owners of Ciao for Now, Kevin and Amy serve organic coffee from Colorado, offer over three different kinds of lemonades, a healthy variety of juices, soups, salads, wraps and over 30 different breaded treats. They use local vendors for their hormone free, organic chicken, grass fed beef, and free range turkey and use organic eggs, nitrate-free bacon, Hudson Valley Fresh milk and local and organic produce whenever seasonally possible.  In addition to this they use quadruple filtered water for all of their cooking, baking and beverages, including cappuccinos and lattes.  All of their food waste is composted and they use an electric ZAP car (Zero Air Pollution) for deliveries in the city.  Oh yes, there’s more…their bathroom wins “The Coffeebeaners Bathroom Award” for being New York’s most multicultural restroom.  It is filled with vibrant images of people, animals, and places from all around the world that resemble covers from National Geographic Magazine.
Ciao for Now and Sustainable NYC is located at 139 Avenue A near 9th Street.  Take the L Train to 1st Avenue.
Atmosphere-5 Stars
Pastries-4.5 Stars
Coffee-4 Stars 
Service-Casual (new staff)

March 24, 2010

Sigmund Pretzelshop in the East Village

Pretzels, pretzels, pretzels!  Down in the lower part of the East Village it’s pretzel paradise on Avenue B. You’ll find sweet ones, spicy ones, and toasty ones, with flavors like Caramel Pecan, Garlic Parsley, Gruyere Paprika, Jalapeno Cheddar, Cinnamon Raisin, and more.  
Lina Kulchinsky was a pastry chef and had done many things with flavors, but four months ago she decided to finally begin to explore the world of the pretzel she loved.  She was attracted to its’ versatile shape and it’s ability to be sweet and savory and was determined to make sure every New Yorker had the chance to taste the kind of pretzel tasted in Switzerland. 

After opening Sigmund Pretzel everyone asked for a spicy choice so she marched into the  bodegas in the area and grabbed as many chilies as she could find and began to meld flavors together.  The seven chilies of Serrano, Chipotle, Guajillo, Chile Molado, Jalapeno, Costeno, and Pasilla are mixed in the dough and baked.  The twist is then brushed with oil and sprinkled with more hotness.  We tasted it with the Mulled Cranberry Tea and it was divine.
If your stomach is craving something more substantial you can purchase pretzel bread sandwiches of Mozzarella, Tomato, and Pesto, Smoked Salmon Dill Cream Cheese or Hot Ham and Fontina.  We decided to fill up with the homemade sugar donuts and now Diego can’t seem to forget them. My latte of La Colombe Arabica coffee was good but the tea with poached cranberries is really something to come back for.  Hot chocolate, organic chocolate milk and Boylan's soda are also available to accompany your twisty three-dollar treats.  
Sigmund Pretzel is a Pretzel Shop with coffee and tea options.  They have  great seating options and lots of light for people to come, eat, and go (they do have free wi-fi but I would not recommend lounging here for hours).   Lina teaches pretzel workshops to kids and is willing to give pretzel workshops to groups if you set it up, she is swamped with salt, sugar, and seeds. 
Sigmund Pretzel is located at 29 Avenue B between 2nd & 3rd Streets. Note that they are closed on Mondays.  One can take the F to 2nd Avenue or the L to Avenue A and walk several blocks.

Atmosphere-4 Stars
Pastries-4 Stars
Coffee-3.5 Stars 

March 14, 2010

Saving the Great American Bake Sale at Bake-In Rally, City Hall

Please know that we will be updating our blog mid-week. Diego and I have been putting all of our time into saving The Great American Bake Sale in NYC Schools at City Hall on March 18th.  We are planning a Bake-In Rally to protest the New Chancellor Regulation A-812, which prohibits home-baked foods from being sold at school fundraisers while permitting Doritos & Pop-Tarts instead.  For info go to

March 10, 2010

One Girl Cookies in Cobble Hill

One Girl Cookies reminds us of why we love New York, because we absolutely adore the cultural fabric in our small mom & pop businesses.  Traditions are interweaved in what they sell, how they sell it, and why.  By just strolling the unchartered sidewalks and taking a moment to step into these small worlds, New Yorkers are given the extraordinary opportunity to learn something new about a culture; an invitation to taste new things, hear new languages, see new words, and the likelihood of meeting new people that we might have never engaged with.  It is one of the great benefits of raising a child in the city.
At this exquisite cookie shop in Cobble Hill, you can learn the story of owner Dawn Casale who used to sell cookies out of her West Village apartment and David, her husband, a baker too!  You can also catch a glimpse of their love story on the family tree of baker’s in the sunlit sitting room while trying a Lucia, Lana, or Susanna – all lip smacking cookies from the classic collection.
Come for a breakfast of yogurt with stewed apples (seasonal fruits), baked eggs, scones and muffins or be patient ‘til the clock strikes eleven and run to enjoy the soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth whoopie pies and spiky cupcakes. 

Bite size cookies, cupcakes, European cakes, and gift boxes of whoopee pies are also available for order at Call in advance, some may only be available for pick-up.

One Girl Cookies is located at 68 Dean Street between Smith St. and Boerum Pl.  One can take the F to Bergen or the 4/5, 2/3 to Borough Hall.

Atmosphere-5 Stars
Pastries-5 Stars
Coffee-4 Stars 

March 9, 2010

"Bake In" Protest at City Hall in NYC...Save the Great American Bake Sale

This blog is making an exception today to inform people about the Bake-In Rally to protest the new Chancellor Regulation A-812, which prohibits home-baked foods from being sold at NYC school fundraisers while permitting Doritos and Pop-Tarts instead.  
Read more at:

March 5, 2010

Cafe Royal in Greenpoint Opens Saturday, March 6th

Cafe Royal will be opening tomorrow, Saturday, March 6th. Read more about Cody Utzman and his team down below at the blog post of February 19th.  Cafe Royal is located at 195 Nassau Avenue between Jewel & Diamond. 

March 1, 2010

Van Leeuwen in Greenpoint

This past Saturday,  Van Leeuwen opened its' little door to Greenpointers.  The tiny space right next to the Manhattan Inn, serves Intelligentsia coffee, cookies, and over ten of their famous ice cream flavors like Pistachio, Espresso, and Currants & Cream.  Diego and I will not be covering them right now because we are exploring other neighborhoods but we will soon.  They also serve the Affogato, a scoop of Van Leeuwen artisan Vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso.  Van Leeuwen at the Manhattan Inn is located at 632 Manhattan Avenue between Nassau and Norman.  Take the G Train to Nassau Avenue.