04/15/13 9:52am
It’s packed with the goodness of goat milk—and salted caramel.

It’s packed with the goodness of goat milk—and salted caramel.

The other day I asked my buddy Peter Cuce, the man behind  Project Latte, for a West Village coffee shop tip. Soon I found myself at Prodigy Coffee where I knocked back a perfectly nice cup of espresso. And then I headed next door to Victory Garden, for some goat milk soft serve. I’ve only had goat cheese, before so I was curious to try goat milk it in ice cream form. Victory gets its goat milk from Side Hill Acres in Candor, N.Y.

Perusing the flavors I decided to go with salted caramel. I did so for two reasons. One, I have a pretty serious salted caramel habit. And, two, fine as it was, something was missing from the espresso I had at Prodigy. That something was the salt, cream, and sugar that I’ve been adding to my morning coffee of late. The goat milk soft serve ($4.75) fit the bill on both counts. That said there was definite underlying goatiness to the frozen treat. In any event, I am glad that I tried it. Plus, according to a sign on the wall, goat milk “is is lower in fat than cow’s milk, but with all the nutrition.” Good thing considering that day’s lunch consisted of Harold Dieterle’s decadent bone marrow and uni.

Victory Garden, 31 Carmine St., 212-206-7273

04/01/13 9:55am
Coffee and cocktails combine thanks to a partnership between Dutch Kills and Sweetleaf.

Coffee and cocktails combine at the new Sweetleaf.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of the third location of third wave coffee bar Sweetleaf for months. When I heard that it would be serving cocktails from Richie Boccatto of nearby Dutch Kills I became even more intrigued. So the other day I stopped by, partly to get a jolt to ward off an M.Wells-induced food coma and partly to check out the joint. Coffee maven and Sweetleaf co-owner Rich Nieto fixed me a macchiato while I soaked up the atmosphere. The wooden bar is equally suited to downing an espresso or sipping a fine libation. Ditto the comfy chairs in the front. There’s even a design element that pays homage to the gantries which are just down the road. (more…)

03/11/13 12:48pm
An ice cream parlor twist on an Italian classic.

An ice cream parlor twist on an Italian classic.

When I was a kid I loved ice cream sodas. As an adult I discovered the affogato, a very grown-up Italian treat that takes its name from the word for “drowned.”  It’s a scoop of ice cream with a shot  of espresso poured on top. One day I was in Eddie’s Sweet Shop, the quintessential Queens ice cream parlor and I noticed they had had an espresso machine.

“Do you make affogatos?” I asked. The kid behind the counter had never heard of one, but proceeded to tell me about the Donovan, an off-menu creation of one of his co-workers. “I don’t know how to make one though,” he said. About a week later, I returned when Donovan was working and ordered his specialty. It’s vanilla chip ice cream drowned in espresso and topped with a crumbled sugar cone and hot fudge. Think of the $7 treat as an affogato as invented by Willy Wonka or a bearded soda jerk with too much time on his hands.

Eddie’s Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, 718-520-8514

01/16/13 4:09pm
Espresso is best taken neat.

Espresso is best taken neat.

Coffee is often more of a necessity for many rather than a gustatory pursuit. And so it was and continues to be for me. Lately though I have begun to notice flavor nuances in the bean, mostly in espresso, perhaps because it is more extracted than other forms of coffee. Apple Jolly Rancher, stone fruit, and toasted coconut are some of the flavors that baristas at places like Sweetleaf like to discuss. Every time I detect one of these flavors in a shot of espresso is an aha moment for me.

Such flavor epiphanies are rare though. I have always liked my coffee strong, perhaps overly so. For years my morning coffee was prepared with a French press and taken with milk and sugar. Lately I have been grinding my own beans, and using a plastic pourover. To the resulting brew I add vigorously shaken half and half, a goodly amount of sugar, and a dash of sea salt. Unconventional, but to me delicious.

So here’s what I’m curious to know. How do you take/make your coffee. Tell me in the comments or hit me on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.