Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co.

Last March, I discovered what was then the amazing Soft Serve Fruit Co. Since then, the delicious store has “added a name to its name,” becoming Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. Soft Serve Fruit is exactly what the name implies: fruit, ice and cane sugar. No dairy at all! In fact, according to their website, Soft Serve Fruit is free of the eight major allergens. Think sorbet but in soft-serve form!

Located in my favorite neighborhood, Union Square, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. is always a treat, even when it’s starting to get chilly outside. It’s the perfect snack to refresh you from brunch in Chelsea or shopping in Union Square! Chloe’s is tucked away on 17th Street between Broadway and 5th Avenue, and it’s a short walk from the 14th Street-Union Square stop on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, F, M, N, Q, or R lines, or the 18th Street stop on the 1 line.

The set-up is like a frozen yogurt bar, similar to that of Pinkberry, with different options and toppings. The featured fruit choices change seasonally so the winter flavors include cranberry and pumpkin. Toppings range from sweet to salty, with things like fresh fruit, cookies, cereal and pretzels. Other options include things like chocolate sauce, and waffle cones and pretzel cones instead of cups.

chloe's soft serve fruit co. (store)

My personal favorite topping is the gingersnap cookies, which go with any fruit flavor, such as the cranberry pictured here. Other favorite flavors have been the pear, strawberry, and mango, all of which go great with the cookies as well as other toppings dark chocolate chips. The dark chocolate flavor is great with pretzels!

chloe's soft serve fruit co. (food)

Chloe’s also has a loyalty card, much like Starbucks, where you can add up points to earn discounts on Soft Serve Fruit. Plus, you get a free treat for your birthday! (Food always tastes better when it’s free.)

chloe's soft serve fruit co. (bear)

Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. first caught my eye by chance with a “dairy-free sign,” and it has since become one of my favorite snack places in the city. The staff is friendly and conscientious and the choices are liberating. If you are in the area, I highly encourage you to take a break from the busy neighborhood and enjoy some delicious fruit!

Grom

It’s officially wintertime in the city, but despite the chill in the air, we took a little time this weekend to scope out a frozen treat! If you can never get enough of the cold, then Grom is the place to go. The Italian gelateria went stateside about five years ago, according to their website, and they have several locations in New York City. The one we visited today was their shop at Columbus Circle, just south of Central Park and across the way from Whole Foods Market. For those of you coming on the subway, Grom is just off the 59th street stop on the 1, 2, A, B, C, or D lines.

grom

The interior of the shop is small but colorful, with bright lighting and sparse furniture. The gelato is kept in shiny metal tubs and posters about gelato, fruit, and Italy adorn the walls. One of the special things about Grom is that they have a green initiative, called Grom Loves World. Trash cans differentiate between paper products—like cups and napkins—and organic products—like cones and spoons. According to their website, all the fruit is grown organically on Grom’s own farm and their inedible products (i.e. spoons, cups, etc.) are biodegradable and made from recycled material!

grom (counter)

The best part is that Grom lists the ingredients right on the wall and every flavor has its own serving spoon. Talk about transparency! Ingredients include fresh Italian fruits, cocoa and coffee from Central America, and best of all, no coloring or additives. All the sorbets, which change seasonally with the other flavors, are dairy- and nut-free by default! (NOTE: Some flavors do contain egg. I myself am not allergic to eggs, but if you are, please be aware!)

grom (december 2012 menu) grom (ingredients) grom (cash register)

After perusing the flavors for a few minutes (and sampling a couple choices), I chose a small cup—two flavors—with mandarino and pera, both of which were delicious. The tangy mandarin orange reminded me of the tangerine tree in my backyard at home in California and the sweet, gritty pear tasted like the fruit serving I wanted it to be (i.e. if fruit servings were always deliciously refreshing). Grom offered the perfect pick-me-up for Bear, who spent the afternoon trekking up and down Fifth Avenue!

grom (bear)

(NOTE: Although the picture describes the gelato as having milk, the sorbet is completely dairy-free!)

The store was not very crowded, perhaps due to the fact that it was dinnertime, but it seemed like a fun place to grab a snack for adults and children alike! The crowd on the street seemed to be a mix of tourist-y and trendy and everyone seemed to be in a rush to get somewhere. If you are feeling stressed from finals, friends, or the frenzy of the holidays, a trip to Grom may be just what you need!

Blossom

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your weekend is filled with all sorts of deliciousness, hopefully in the form of special desserts! I will not be in the city over the holiday, so no brunches this weekend. However, I will be leaving you with this fabulous find from last weekend. If you have foodie family members in town, I highly recommend it!

One of my favorite neighborhoods is the Upper West Side, home to the American Museum of Natural History and a plethora of cafés and clothing stores. One such charming café is Blossom, located on Columbus Avenue at 82nd Street, where we went for brunch before the holiday frenzy. Blossom, a vegan restaurant, is a short walk from both the heart of Central Park and the 79th Street stop on the 1 train.

Blossom is as warm and pretty as the name suggests. Inside the restaurant is all bright and colorful, and the murals on the wall suggest nourishment, growth, and other plant-related metaphors. The hardwood floors and the plush seating also adds a touch of elegance—this is not a barefoot-and-dreads sort of place. Though the restaurant is small, the high ceilings and the reflective surfaces add depth and space.

Everyone who works at Blossom is really friendly—like Trader-Joe’s-level friendly—and they also have great hair. The great thing about Blossom being a vegan restaurant is that everything is dairy-free! Whenever I go to Blossom and tell the waitstaff about my allergies, they sort of just laugh and point this out. How liberating is that? They have a few nutty items, but those are incredibly easy to avoid. (NOTE: The ice cream at Blossom is from Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, a wonderful vegan ice cream place that unfortunately uses cashew milk as their main dairy substitute. I myself am not allergic to cashews, but if you are, please be aware!)

Even though it was around 1 PM when we went, they still let me order the stuffed French toast, which is amazing. French toast is one of my favorite foods to make and eat, but ordering it at a restaurant is usually a no-go, because of all the butter and milk that goes into its creation. Other exciting things on the menu were soy bacon cheeseburgers, milkshakes and pancakes—all things I can never order at a regular restaurant. All the options were overwhelming, so I reverted to the wonderful French toast that I’ve had before.

Whenever I make French toast at home, it’s mostly just a mess of bread, eggs and sugar. Blossom’s version of French toast consists of thick, practically cake-like bread, stuffed with raspberries, strawberries and “cream cheese,” which gives it a much more intense and complex flavor and texture. The portion size is pretty perfect, right down to the syrup and the side of fresh fruit!

The other Blossom customers were young and trendy, which is typical for the Upper West Side, and not everyone was a vegan. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a vegan to love Blossom—you just have to be open-minded. Even Bear fit in rather well with the whole scene.

Because Blossom has such beautiful plates that all seem really delicious, I would recommend getting a few things to share between friends. Usually I refrain from sharing food at all, mostly because of cross-contamination, but Blossom has zero risks of dairy contaminants! Plus, the ability to be adventurous comes very rarely for us food allergy folks (see The Full Story) and Blossom is an especially safe place, unlike so many other restaurants in the city.

Blossom is a delicious delight, especially when paired with a pretty walk in Central Park or a trip to one of the many nearby museums after brunch. If you are looking for a classy brunch this weekend, Blossom is it. On this day full of gratitude, I am grateful for all the wonderful family, friends, and of course, food in my life! I hope you all have a safe and scrumptious holiday!

Community

It’s gray and rainy here in the city, so yesterday was the perfect morning to get some warm brunch at Community Food and Juice! I’ve been to Community a few times now, and it feels a little bit like restaurants back in California, with lots of natural lighting and organic menu options. Located on Broadway, between 112th and 113th Streets, Community is the trendy place to meet friends for a casual meal around Columbia. Even better, they feature “seasonal, local, organic food whenever possible,” as stated on their website and evident in their food. If you’re coming on the subway, it’s just a little bit of walk from either 110th Street or 116th Street on the 1 train.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is full of light and life. Elegant lamps hang from the high, unfinished ceilings, accompanied by ceiling fans. Different pockets of the restaurant blend together, including the bar and the open kitchen. Community has both individual tables for small parties, as well as communal tables, much like you might see in many European restaurants, although without the discomfort. On sunnier days than today, outdoor sidewalk seating is available, and according to their website they also have private dining space.

The menu boasted many several delicious looking options and I opted for the Country Breakfast—eggs, carrot hash browns, ham and a biscuit. I explained to the waiter about my allergies, and he suggested substitutions such as the biscuit for the seven-grain vegan bread. I also substituted the maple sugar cured ham for bacon, a personal preference. He was more than happy to inform the chef and make the substitutions. I have only ever been to Community for brunch and I tend to maintain a regular order at a lot of restaurants for comfort, so I can assure you that the Country Breakfast has been consistently safe.

The eggs were perfectly fluffy, but not as fully cooked as I myself might have made them—although I tend to prefer them slightly browned. The bacon was perfectly crispy as were the carrot hash browns (a Community special, barely pictured here). My favorite thing about brunch at Community, however, is the toast and jam. It seems so simple, but because I am not allowed to have a toaster in my apartment, I miss toast a lot! Plus, the jam at Community (is it raspberry?) is so delicious with regards to flavor, texture, and color that I frequently eat the leftovers with a spoon!

community (food)

When our food came, I was so hungry that Bear bear-ly managed to snag a solo shot with the remains of my delicious brunch.

I had enough (as you can see) to take home a second brunch, which is arguably the best kind of brunch! Not to mention, our waiter wrapped it up for me in a cute little box and a brown paper bag! The ending to brunch was a little rushed, as yesterday was a weekday and I had to get to class, but I can’t wait to come back and try some other dishes. I’m particularly intrigued by the B.E.L.T. and their rice bowls. Though outside was a little chilly and damp, Community is always a relaxing place to get some a little fresh air and fresh food!