Chocolate Chip Cookie Obsession!

One of my grand fixations-chocolate chip cookies-have been perfected through numerous trials and taste tests (of course). Extra gym excursions are imperative at this lusciously, full-bodied juncture. Makes 20 cookies:
2 sticks unsalted butter-room temp
1/3 cup + 2 1/2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 T confectioners sugar
1 t salt
2 t orange infused oil
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 orange-zested
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups AP flour 
baking soda
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks (62% cocoa)
1/3 cup toasted almonds-roughly chopped
cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
2. Using the paddle attachment, mix the butter and both sugars until combined.
3. Add salt, orange oil, vanilla extract, zest, and eggs; mix well.
4. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add [in thirds] to the mixing bowl. 
5. Take the bowl out of the stand and add the chocolate and almonds, incorporating by hand. 
6. Scoop 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie and shape into rounds. Place cookies on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown.
**NOTE: substitute dried fruit (cranberries, currants, strawberries, etc) for the chocolate, should you prefer; alternatively, add the dried fruit to the mix!


Park Slope Food Walking Tour

Wanting to make the most of a few recent days off, (and since eating at just one restaurant is never enough), I've decided to incorporate self guided walking food tours into the mix. All the extra walking will make up for the extra eating...right? The way this works is: a neighborhood is chosen (within a few streets) and restaurants are hopped in and out of, at random...tasting/drinking/and amusing at each. The most recent stroll was along 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Luckily, my companion can pack it away like a food disposal, making for a great accomplice for such an event.

The first stop-Chavella's. A tiny Mexican restaurant near Prospect Park, which brings on huge flavor!
The Pescado taco presented perfectly cooked Dorado (mahi), cradled by two tortillas, with crunchy lettuce and fresh salsa; while the crispy Taquitos were filled with gooey Oaxaca cheese and topped with crema and salsa. Perfectly distinct flavors left us craving more, but we had to pace ourselves as the tour had just begun! We chose house made sangria to end the meal, which was super refreshing and slightly sweet. Loaded with fresh oranges, limes, and apples, it left us craving an entire pitcher (each), however we stood strong and continued our adventure.

Bonnie's Grill burgers have been reviewed as some of the best in Brooklyn. Based on these, as well as friends' recommendations, we decided to make the plunge into burger world, splitting the Spiced Black Angus Sirloin Burger (with 'spicy' cole slaw). While we waited for our meat to arrive, we enjoyed a Smutty Nose and a light Pino Grigio. The boasted burger arrived atop a kaiser roll, packed with lettuce, tomato, onions, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos. Unfortunately, we can't all have great days...this was evident today. The first bite of the unseasoned meat did not infuse taste onto the palate. It seemed as though this batch of beef was simply ground and thrown on the grill-no salt, pepper, or spice! Although cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the bland burger and dense, cold bun were the opposite of all the rave reviews. Consistently, the disappointment continued with the 'spicy' cole slaw-nothing more than store bought, mayonaise filled cabbage...once more lacking in seasoning. The name of the slaw (as with the burger) was completely deceiving, having no red pepper flakes/jalapenos/cayenne/or any other spice in the bowl. We paid or tab and were quickly on our way...anticipating the next meal!

Making a stop at Flipster's is always a favorite, for one of the greatest happy hours in Brooklyn-half off drinks! After a few Pinos and drafts, we were ready to stimulate our palate.

As we walked passed Coco Roco, the happy rooster on the front made me feel warm inside (it may have been the Pinos talking...but we'll go with the former). The Peruvian restaurant seemed busy with patrons and the front counter was flooded with take-out orders. We sat at a small table next to the window and were quickly greeted by a server wanting to take our drink orders. We happily gave up the info and munched on crunchy fried corn kernels and plantain chips, to start. Our order of fried sweet plantains, fresh mixed seafood ceviche, and Anticuchos (grilled and seasoned beef heart skewers) arrived just as we were finishing the munchies. 
The gigantic plate of sweet plantains was juicy and delicious. The flavorful ceviche carried mussels, shrimp, squid, sweet potato, and corn in a tangy marinade. While the beef hearts were tender and perfectly seasoned, served with grilled potatoes. Alas! A flavorful and extremely delicious meal to complete the savory part of our tour.
With our bellies full, our minds loose, and our feet ready...we ventured off in search of dessert. Stumbling [literally] completely past Sky Ice, we retracted a few steps to ogle at the menu of this charming, new cafe. Homemade ice cream with no preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors? Sold! After trying the creative options (seaweed, sea salt, green tea, etc), we settled on the homemade brownie with a trio of ice cream. The presentation (in a biodegradable serving dish) was top notch and the ice cream flavors were fresh, clean, and delicious. The distinct essences of each were precise (confirming the use of fresh, REAL ingredients). The brownie, however, left more to crave. With a lack of flavor, perhaps a bit of vanilla, some cocoa nibs, or carob chips would have added to the bland, quarter piece. Although the friendly service and fresh ingredients would persuade us to give it another try. Looking forward to seeing more unique flavors!

In the late evening hours, we rolled ourselves home, feeling happy and more than satiated. An overall walking tour success with more to follow.