Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Roberta’s and Sixpoint Craft Ales: a night of highs and unbelievable lows

261 Moore St., Brooklyn

Last week, Sixpoint Craft Ales celebrated their fifth anniversary with a week-long series of events throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, one of which was a Fifth Anniversary Celebration at Roberta’s in Brooklyn. When word reached Little Scarlet of an all-you-can-eat three hour event with “unlimited beers and unlimited pizza and organic salad plus assorted dessert offerings baked with Sixpoint beer”, for only $32 - it was a no-brainer!

Unfortunately, this event truly failed to live up to its promise and became a complete disaster.

I met up with some friends from my dinner club a few minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, since tickets were expected to sell out and attendees were advised to arrive early - “so you are not disappointed”, they said. The atmosphere upon arrival was great - long tables of dark, rustic wood lined Roberta’s industrial interior and the staff were weaving in and out of guests, serving pizzas and salads family-style. Growlers of Sixpoint beer were brought to the tables just like the pizza, and the outside bar on the backyard deck was charming, with a bonfire nearby and a light flurry of snow just starting to come down.

So far, so good, right? That’s what we thought. Just wait.

The pizza was good - great, even. Roberta’s pizza belongs to the school of thick, doughy crust, slightly charred in places from their wood-fired oven and with a generous one-inch rim of crust on each 12-inch pie. Their Margherita pizza is satisfyingly saucy, cheesy, and chewy, with the great flavor that only fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil can deliver.

Margherita pizza

Roberta’s topping combinations are creative yet impressively simple, as in their “Madd Martigan” pizza, with mozzarella, mushrooms, pesto, and artichoke, and a special pie for the Fifth Anniversary Celebration, consisting of mozzarella, crispy prosciutto cotto, red onions, and mushrooms.

Madd Martigan pizza

Sixpoint Craft Ales Fifth Anniversary Celebration “special” pizza

Their bibb lettuce salad, full of toasted walnuts and gorgonzola, is brightened by a splash of sweet-tart dried cherry vinaigrette, and Sixpoint’s beers are on point, as always - full of great flavor and exactly what you wanted to go with Roberta’s straight-from-the-oven pizzas.

Again - so far, so good, right? This sounds awesome, what could possibly have gone wrong? Get ready, because here it comes.

Apparently, it turns out that “3 hours of unlimited beers and unlimited pizza” was more of an advertising gimmick than an actual guarantee. After enjoying some pizza and beer for a little over 1 hour, we were asked to leave to make way for people who had shown up late and were waiting to sit down. We were surprised to hear that the event had been oversold and that we were “hogging” the table - being savvy New Yorkers, we had shown up early and expected to get what we paid for. But while being asked to leave early didn’t seem right, we were sympathetic to the latecomers’ plight, so we asked for one more pizza and promised to leave right after. One of our friends had been outside refilling our growler of beer during this exchange and upon his return, our harried waiter had “had enough.”

Before we knew what was happening, this waiter-on-a-power-trip took away what was left of the pizza, our full glasses of beer, and told us to “Get the fuck out.” Stunned and confused, we stammered that we had been peaceably enjoying the evening and weren’t sure why we were being forcibly thrown out. Our waiter revealed that he was, in fact, the owner and threw our money ($160 in cash!) at us, telling us to never, ever come back.

Well, Roberta’s, point well taken. The food is good, good enough that I could have been convinced to make the long trek out to Bushwick a second time. But if that’s how the owners want to run their business, there’s more than enough great pizza in New York to keep me from returning.

Bottom line? If Bushwick’s not too far away and you want good pizza, go ahead - give Roberta’s a try. But if they throw any events in the future, I’d be sure to stay far away.

Unless, of course, you’re looking for a good story to tell.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taste of 7th Street

Ever wanted to travel around the world? For only $18? Well, keep dreaming, but at least with “Taste of 7th Street”, you can eat your way around the world for $18!

This weekend, February 27-28, marks the first inaugural “Taste of 7th Street” food festival. Walk your way down East Village’s 7th Street from 1st Ave to Ave A and eat your way from Venezuela to Italy, Maine to Tucson. If you live in the area, chances are this is already one of your favorite blocks, and if you haven’t been, this is the perfect opportunity to go!

You can buy your ticket to the “Taste of 7th Street” event on Scoop St.’s website ( for half of the original $35 price, and in return you’ll be given a one-time use ticket for signature items at five of the great dining establishments on the stretch of 7th Street between 1st Ave and Ave A: Porchetta, Luke’s Lobster, Butter Lane, Caracas, and Xoom. Visit them all in the same day, or spread it out over the full weekend - the choice is up to you!

Little Scarlet has raved about Luke’s Lobster and Porchetta in the past, both of which are offering their signature sandwich as part of the “Taste of 7th Street” festival, and your “Taste of 7th Street” ticket will also entitle you to an arepa from Caracas, cupcakes from Butter Lane, and a 24oz fruit smoothie from new(est) kid on the block, Xoom. But that’s not all. Your $18 ticket will also get you a discount on beers at the best bars on 7th Street: Jimmy’s No. 43, Burp Castle, and Standings Bar. Standing head-and-shoulders above your average dive, these bars proudly carry the Good Beer Seal, demonstrating a true passion for craft beers and cask ales, as well as a commitment to being a nice, local place to drink great beer with friends.

This weekend-long celebration of local establishments is a food-lover’s dream, and there are only a limited number of half-price tickets available, so act fast!

For more details and additional ordering information, click here.

**update** - As of 24 Feb, this event is sold out - 830 tickets have been sold (wow!) but feel free to come out anyway and taste what 7th Street has to offer!

**update #2** As of 25 Feb, Scoop St will be releasing 170 more tickets this morning, so get on it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Poll of the Week - 2.22.2010

Going into the final week of the 2010 Winter Olympics, it’s been wonderful to look back over the past week and see the finest athletes from all over the world compete for their country. As the Olympics move from one city to the next, country to country, it’s exciting to learn about the local culture - and no culture is complete without its own epicurean history!

Whether it’s fine dining or local street vendors, this week’s “Poll of the Week” wants to know: of the past and future Olympic host cities listed below, which city’s food would you be most excited to eat?

And congratulations to the U.S. Olympic team - 24 medals (as of 22 Feb) and counting! Click here to see how your country is doing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras!

Celebrated as “Carnival” in Brazil, Italy, Spain, and France, here in America, no one does Mardi Gras better than New Orleans!

If Louisiana is a little too far away for you, try some of these recipes from Little Scarlet to bring the taste of New Orleans to you:
  1. Red Beans and Rice: this simple stew adds kidney beans and salty, smoked ham to Creole cooking’s Holy Trinity - serve over rice with hot sauce for the table and you’re good to go!
  2. Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Gumbo: packed full of okra, sausage, and shrimp this spicy Creole stew is just the thing to set your Mardi Gras off right.
  3. King Cake: a ring of braided bread, filled with cinnamon, pecans, and topped with the official colors of Mardi Gras - green, purple, and yellow. Don’t let your Carnival be without one!
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is prepare a meal for a big holiday, and Mardi Gras is a great time to head out on the town. Visit Mara’s Homemade in the East Village for a true taste of New Orleans spice and flare! Be sure to take advantage of tonight’s special Mardi Gras menu with gumbo, barbecue, a live crawfish boil, and King Cake. With no closing time tonight, Mara’s is serving food & drinks until the last customer leaves, so grab your friends, a bucket of crawfish, and a round of hurricanes - Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!

King Cake

It’s Mardi Gras, and you can’t possibly celebrate this holiday without a King Cake!

There are many variations of the King Cake (or King’s Cake), but in New Orleans it is traditionally a ring of twisted or braided bread (similar to brioche) that is topped with icing and sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors (green, purple, and yellow). Some stuff their cake with cream cheese and pralines, others deep fry the cake like a doughnut before dousing it in sugar, but all of them include a hidden “trinket” tucked into the cake. If you find the trinket in your piece of cake, you’re the King (or Queen) for Mardi Gras, and it’s up to you to provide next year’s King Cake - so be sure to keep this recipe handy!

Little Scarlet’s recipe follows traditional New Orleans’ guidelines, with pecans and a light, icing glaze - but uses a few welcome shortcuts.

 This delicious mess of a cake is all Southern pecans and cinnamon-sugar sweetness - serves 8-12


4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 11-oz can Pillsbury bread sticks (refrigerated, not frozen)
½ cup chopped pecans

1 12-oz can whipped cream cheese frosting
1/4 cup skim milk
Green sanding sugar
Purple sanding sugar
Gold (yellow) sanding sugar

1 heat-proof plastic baby

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together using an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Open bread sticks and separate twelve breadsticks. Press together the ends of two breadsticks to make one long stick, until you have six long breadsticks in total.
  3. Pinch together three breadsticks at one end, and (with clean hands) spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over all breadsticks, pressing pecans into middle braid. Loosely braid three breadsticks together, taking care not to stretch the dough too thin. Pinch the braids together at the other end, and repeat with the remaining three breadsticks.
  4. Loosely coil one braids in a circle, leaving a small hole in the middle, about 3 inches in diameter. Coil the remaining braid on top of this one, and carefully insert the heat-proof plastic baby (or other trinket) somewhere into the braided dough.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cake is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  6. Once the cake is cool, combine the whipped frosting and milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Heat until mixture is warm and smooth, stirring constantly. With a spoon, pour glaze over cake one spoonful at a time, until coated to your desires. Sprinkle with sanding sugars and let cool again before serving.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poll of the Week - 2.15.2010

Lent is a Christian holiday spanning the 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. During this time, Christians traditionally practice self-denial (along with other devotional practices) by electing to give up something they enjoy for Lent’s duration. Meat and alcohol are the most common pleasures that people give up, but you could abstain from anything you enjoy and indulge in on a regular basis. Giving up things like broccoli and exercise don’t count!

For this reason, the self-denial aspect of Lent has moved beyond Christianity and is now practiced by many in a secular fashion - most often by people who want to renew their New Year’s Resolutions and use Lent as a period to regain focus.

This year, Lent begins on Wednesday, February 17, and will continue until April 3 - what will you be giving up?

Remember, Mardi Gras (or “Fat Tuesday”) is also this week, and is meant to serve as a “last hurrah” before Lent begins - so make sure you plan something big!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pomegranate Cocktails

During Valentine’s Day weekend, it’s hard to get away from all things pink and red – but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur was kind enough to send Little Scarlet some samples, and I can honestly say that this ruby-colored liqueur is just wonderful!

Made from pomegranate juice, premium vodka, and “a touch” of imported tequila (34 proof - 17% alc/vol), PAMA has a thick, sweet flavor with a tart bite, similar to that of cranberry juice. This versatile liqueur is well suited for a variety of drinks across all seasons. Try it around Christmas time to perk up a mulled wine, or use it in a big summer-time pitcher of tropical punch. Great for fun martinis with the girls, this jewel-toned liqueur also adds a splash of drama to an elegant Champagne cocktail.

The next time you’re in the liquor store, look for this beautiful bottle in the liqueur section and whip up one of these great cocktails!

Pomegranate-Mulled wine

Blushing Lady

Pomegranate Champagne cocktail

Pomegranate-Lemonade Fizz

Pomegranate-Mulled Wine (serves 12):
12 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 lemons, sliced
2 oranges, sliced
1 cup PAMA pomegranate liqueur
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cup water
2 bottles red wine (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot)

Combine cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemons, and oranges in a cheesecloth. Pour remaining ingredients into a large, saucepan over medium-low heat, and add spice-cheesecloth. Heat for 15-20 minutes, without bringing to a simmer. Wring cheesecloth out over pot, and remove. Serve warm, with a cinnamon stick for garnish.

Blushing Lady (serves 1):
1 oz PAMA pomegranate liqueur
2 oz vodka
1 oz pink grapefruit juice

Garnish glass with coarse sugar rim by running a lemon wedge around the rim of a martini glass, and dipping the glass in a plate of coarse sugar. Then, pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake. Pour through a strainer into a garnished martini glass.

Pomegranate Champagne cocktail (serves 1):

3 oz PAMA pomegranate liqueur
1 oz Champagne

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice, and stir. Pour through strainer into a Champagne flute.

Pomegranate-Lemonade Fizz (serves 8):
1 cup PAMA pomegranate liqueur
1 cup citrus-flavored vodka
1 cup cranberry juice
3 cups lemonade
1 cup club soda
Optional: fresh raspberries and lemon slices for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher with ice, and stir well. Serve in tall, individual glasses,  and top each glass with 1 oz club soda. Garnish with fresh raspberries and lemon slices,if desired.

Recipes are either provided by or adapted from PAMA - thanks to PAMA for providing images!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day - one of those holidays that is loved and loathed in equal measure.

Some people see it coming months in advance and lay out ridiculously elaborate plans, while others move through February blissfully (or perhaps willfully) unaware of the approaching holiday. But then suddenly, it’s just a few days before The Big Day and you’re scrambling to come up with a last-minute plan that seems impressive and thoughtful!

Whatever your reason is for the eleventh-hour planning frenzy, whether your relationship just started or you simply forgot it was coming, Little Scarlet has you covered. Here are Little Scarlet’s two favorite “last-minute” ideas for Valentine’s Day (and if you don’t happen to live in the New York metropolitan area, they’re versatile enough that you can whip them up in your own hometown).

Idea #1: The Grand Gesture
Fancy restaurants are often the first thought for most couples on Valentine’s Day, but there’s something even more romantic about someone going through the effort of preparing a home-cooked meal for you, especially if it’s paired with good wine and candles!

This year, let Brooklyn’s Red Hook Lobster Pound do the heavy lifting for you. For $140 ($115 without wine), they will provide you with a 15-qt lobster pot with a steamer insert (a great gift by itself if your valentine happens to be a lobster lover!), two 1.5-lb lobsters, a bottle of champagne (or other wine, if you prefer), and chocolates. And if you’re lucky, the rest of the package (“Morning After Green Chorizo Sausage” from The Meat Hook and 10-oz of Crop to Cup coffee) will be a welcome addition!

Call for reservations (646.326.7650), or e-mail ( - hurry, these are going fast!

To round out this Valentine’s Day lobster dinner, Little Scarlet recommends serving smashed red potatoes as a side. To make, simply halve baby red potatoes and boil with the skin on for ten minutes or until cooked, then drain most of the liquid (reserving a few tablespoons) and smash the potatoes with the back of a fork until they are broken. Mix in sour cream and some of the reserved potato water, and top with fresh dill.

Idea #2: “U R 2 CUTE” (Valentine’s Day for the kid in you)
If you’re looking for a more low-key Valentine’s Day, or if your sweetheart has a soft-spot for lace doilies, paper cut-out hearts, and conversation hearts, Peanut Butter & Co. has the perfect date for you! Their “Sweetheart’s Snack” menu goes for the low rate of $35, but the cuteness factor is immeasurable.

Reservations are recommended - 212.677.3995

Four heart-shaped sandwiches are served with potato chips and carrot sticks, alongside big glasses of plain or strawberry milk, complete with a twirly, heart-shaped crazy-straw for two. Candy conversation hearts and a PB&J pretzel sundae (vanilla ice cream, peanut butter pretzels, and melba sauce) finish off the meal, and they’ll even throw in a jar of Peanut Butter & Co.’s all-natural peanut butter as a keepsake. Although their peanut butter is so good you won’t want to keep this on your shelf very long!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Poll of the Week - 2.08.2010

Little kids are notoriously picky eaters, which can be disheartening and a serious drain on a parent’s energy, especially if that parent is a true food lover, like Little Scarlet’s readers! Picky eaters can turn up in any household; even world-renown chefs like Tom Colicchio have children who go through a picky phase, refusing to eat raw tomatoes or anything green.

According to recent studies, however, one of the best ways to encourage children to try new foods is to bring them into the kitchen and involve them in preparing family meals. I was exposed to a great variety of foods as a child and ate fairly adventurously, but it wasn’t until I caught and cooked my first crab that I was willing to eat any shellfish besides shrimp (and even then, always hiding under a mass of cocktail sauce)!

In this week’s “Poll of the Week”, Little Scarlet wants to know what food did you hate as a child that you now can’t get enough of?

If you have a picky eater at home, what other foods do they dig their heels in about refusing? What’s the one food you’re convinced they would love if they would just give it a try? Little Scarlet wants to hear all about it – and good luck to all the parents out there!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Game-Day Chili

If you’re still trying to decide what to make for Super Bowl Sunday, don’t look any further! This chili recipe from Little Scarlet is exactly what you’re looking for - delicious, easy to make, and open to variation. Normally, Little Scarlet prefers to make things from scratch, but everyone needs that one “dump and stir” recipe to fall back on, and this one is perfect for those crowded, hectic entertaining days like Super Bowl Sunday!

Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili Kit hits on precisely the right spices for flavorful chili (red pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, dried onion & garlic, paprika, salt), and has the right amounts in easy-to-use packets. And the best part? You can buy this in almost every single grocery store in America! (you’ve probably seen it a million times before on supermarket shelves - see picture at right)  

Little Scarlet builds on this seasoning base by including fresh onion, two different kinds of beans, whole, peeled tomatoes, okra, and sliced jalapeños, making this chili recipe satisfying and special. Thick and hearty from all those vegetables and legumes, this recipe would be great even without adding the ground beef (ideal for vegetarians!), but the two pounds of ground beef should satisfy any meat-loving chili eater - and might even be a good stepping stone for any veggie-phobic eaters!

Recipe yields 8 servings

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 12-oz can of low-sodium V8 juice
1 cup water
1 package Wick Fowler’s 2-Alarm Chili Kit, minus masa flour
2 12-oz can black beans
2 12-oz can kidney beans
1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes (diced tomatoes can be substituted, if desired)
1 16-oz bag frozen, sliced okra
Optional: 1 4-oz can nacho sliced jalapeños
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté ground beef with onions. Drain off fat and return to pot, adding V8, water and the spice contents of the 2-Alarm Chili Kit, except for the Red Pepper and Masa Flour. For spicier chili, add the entire Red Pepper packet, and for a more mild chili, only add half of the packet. Do not include any masa flour - the okra in Step 3 makes this chili nice and thick!
  2. Rinse the beans thoroughly in a colander until the water runs clear. Disregard any remaining 2-Alarm Chili Kit package directions, and add black beans, kidney beans, and tomatoes (with juices!) to pot. Don’t cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces, but it is a good idea to pierce them a little so they release steam and juices, and you don’t burn your mouth when eating them.
  3. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. Add frozen okra and continue to simmer until okra is cooked through (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. If desired, add well-rinsed jalapeños at the same time as the okra.
This chili can be served immediately, or kept covered for several hours (just bring back to a simmer before serving). You can add whatever toppings you like, but Little Scarlet likes to keep things simple with sour cream and a bottle of Frank’s RedHot sauce for the table!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Jalapeño Poppers

A favorite of tailgates and barbecues all over the country, the jalapeño popper is the perfect blend of spicy and cheesy, cool and crunchy. These poppers are baked in the oven for a lighter bite, but a cornflake breading helps retain all the same crunch of the deep-fried original. As the jalapeños bake, the peppers’ burning spiciness mellows out revealing the wonderful flavor of their signature heat. And equal parts cream cheese and shredded cheddar make for a creamy, cooling contrast to all that jalapeño spice.

Easy to make and delicious, once you make these for your friends they’ll be begging you to make them for every occasion - make sure you bring a big platter to your Super Bowl party!

Makes ~30 poppers (depending on how much filling you use per popper!)
(Image belongs to Hungry Girl, Lisa Lillien)

Directions (adapted from Hungry Girl’s Jalapeño Swappers recipe):
15 whole, fresh jalapeños
1 cup Philadelphia cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cornflake crumbs
4 large eggs
Optional: salt, pepper, chili powder, and/or garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Halve the jalapeños lengthwise, and using a small spoon, scrape out the seeds, stems, and membranes (for spicier poppers, reserve some of the jalapeño seeds and add to the cheeses in Step 2, below). Be very careful not to touch your face or your eyes until after thorough hand-washing. Wash all jalapeño halves and dry well.
  2. Stir cream cheese and shredded cheddar together. Place cornflake crumbs in a shallow dish and season with salt, pepper, chili powder, and/or garlic powder, if desired; place eggs in a separate shallow dish and beat well.
  3. Using your clean hands, spread the cheese mixture on each pepper half, but be careful not to over-stuff your poppers or else the cheese will ooze out while baking. Next, coat the entire pepper with beaten egg and then with the cornflake crumbs. Place peppers on a nonstick baking sheet lined with tin foil. Bake for about 20 minutes (add additional ten minutes for less spicy peppers).
Eat as soon as possible - don’t burn your fingers!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Poll of the Week - 2.01.2010

I absolutely love the Miss America Pageant and have watched it with my family every year since I can remember. So before we get into the “Poll of the Week”, I’d like to congratulate Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron, for winning 2010’s Miss America Pageant!

Miss America 2009 (Miss Indiana, Katie Stam) crowns Miss America 2010 (Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron)

Moving on to business, though, many of you are probably spending this week preparing for this Sunday’s marathon eating session, also known as “Super Bowl XLIV”. The Indianapolis Colts will play the New Orleans Saints, and upwards of 90 million Americans will be tuned in to see the outcome. Of course, it’s almost impossible to get a large group of people together to watch football without feeding everyone (unless you want to incite a riot!), making Super Bowl Sunday the biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving!

According to ABC, Americans consume more than 11 million pounds of potato chips and 53.5 million pounds of Hass avocados on Super Bowl Sunday, with the average person eating 1200 calories worth of food just during the game itself!!

Everyone has their own game-time specialty, whether it’s your own spin on a classic Velveeta dip or if you and your friends keep the local pizza parlor in business. This week, Little Scarlet wants to know what is your favorite Super Bowl game-time food?

Be sure to check back this week for some of Little Scarlet’s favorite Super Bowl recipes!