A big craven wishlist

Ok, so I am having a bad day today. A mix of unfaithful hair products – resulting in a frizz bob do, unhelpful customer service – telling me that because I own a mac i’m STUFFED and that was before lunch! So to cheer me up, and to keep you, (my non existent readers?!), entertained i’m coming ‘atcha’ with a big craven wishlist…ooooh.

Ants on my cup and saucer
Ants on my Cup and Saucer by Bailey doesn’t Bark on Etsy

So wonderfully macabre of course I love it!!

Pop Art Series Malibu's
Pop Art Series Malibu at the Colette food shop.

I love when artists collab to take an everyday item and make it something special. La MJC came up with this idea of re-designing Malibu bottles in “pop” interpretations by legendary Europe artists So-Me, James Jarvis and Delta.
Only 100 numbered bottles of each are available, a colette exclusive. At $24 USD per bottle, I say its art and booze well worth it.

Heart shaped mixing bowls
Heart Mixing Bowls at Urban Outfitters.

Kitsch – check
Colourful – check
Impractical – (quite possible) check
want it – check!

I don’t know what it is about this unserious (is that a word?!), incredibly fun mixing bowls, but I’ve loved them from the first time I saw them (cue cheesy music here).

Ruffled edge cake stand
Ruffled edged cake stand by Layla Grace

I don’t know if I am an inherent Francophile but we just coincedently share a similar aesthetic, thus I adore these cake stands. So girly, so refined and a way of officially telling you that whatever is on them should be savoured. I have a dear French friend whose tiny East Village kitchen is filled with treasures such as this and it just encourages me to eat slowly, savour and enjoy the visual presentation as well as the flavour of the food.

Feast Book
Feast by Lines and Shapes

I think one of the things I love most about food, (one?!) is the social aspects of it. How it brings people together to revel in a communally satisfying gastro experience coupled with the free speech and mental stimulation. Many of my favourite life experiences have started around the dinner table and gone on into the wee hours of the morn.
Lena and Maria of Lines and Shapes have chosen some photographs, drawings and recipes which celebrates being together and sharing food, drink and sweets. Yummy!

Vintage Chalkboard
Vintage Chalkboard in Blue Bell Bazaar on Etsy

I’m on the cusp of redoing my horrid kitchen and this chalkboard would contribute to what I am hoping would be the European bistro kitchen vibe I am trying to create.

Vintage Marmalade pots
Vintage Pillivuyt Marmelade Pots at P.O.S.H Chicago

Simply perfect for my individual chocolate moouse treats or trifle surprises!

Garden dinner party
Relaxed Garden Party by Domino Mag (RIP)

I wish I wish I wish I had a garden. Wherein I could design and plan sweet little garden parties such as these. Dinner with friends, drinks by candlelight, strumming the guitar and group singing along. Hor’s Douvres and finger goods, bucks fizz and experimental booze..ahhh. Until I have said garden. I shall dream…

Cheese Sponge
Cheese Sponge by Atypyk

Yes it’s cheesy (pun intended), but it makes washing dishes fun no?

’til next time!

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Kitchen Voyeur

Kitchen treats

If there is one thing I love, it’s looking at other peoples kitchens. One of my most favourite sites, The Selby, has paid a visit to the home of chef Sebastian Gaudard. I love his kitchen, nay his entire home. A lovely warm mix of the functional, the classic, modern and antiquated to provide a visual interest and homey feel. Go, look and envy.

Yum Review – Cafe Orlin St. Marks Place NYC

Cafe Orlin Exterior

My visit to Cafe Orlin was the first visit I had made to a restaurant with a group of friends based SOLELY on a mate’s reccommendation. A few doors away from Cafe Mogador, (who boasts IMO, the best falafel’s in NYC), and across the street from Paprika (good authentic Italian fare), I was curious as to what Orlin would bring. My friend who frequents Orlin interestingly had only been there for brunch…

The decor and service of Orlin was actually quite nice. It had a laid back French vibe, and I easily chatted with the bartender whilst waiting for my friends.

The layout was great for groups or intimate couples, divided into three sections, one is elevated and behind glass providing a voyeurs view of the rest of the punters and yet a private space for one-to-one chatter; whereas the main room was spacious and populated with Vienna Cafe Chairs and tables that easily could be linked together. The vibe was decidedly NYC and downtown trendy-casual.

The food was served quite quickly but its quality was nowhere near on par with those of its neighbours. The french fries were extremely thin and more like crunchy potato chips than potatoes kissed in hot oil. While the portions were a nice size, it seemed as though the quantity was substituting for quality. I ordered the falafels in a pita pocket stuffed with sauerkraut and salad. The sauerkraut was a bit of a gamble, a cultural fusion in a handy meal and unfortunately the fusion didn’t quite..fuse.

Sloppy Sauerkraut made it messy to treat this as a ‘hand’ food and provided a very strange taste to mix with falafels. Other dishes also proved to be a strange mix or a little cold, when they should have been warm.

All in all, I would love to try this place for Brunch in the summer – its nice outdoor space looks great for people watching and outdoor coffee drinkin or for drinks in the evening before meeting friends. If you want to visit hit up Cafe Orlin at 41 Saint Marks Place between 1st and 2nd ave.

Culinary Curriculum

The Brooklyn Kitchen

Mmmm cookin’. The smells, the tastes, the sounds and now – the classes! I have been looking around for some interesting cooking classes as, well, one can only cook their own way for ‘so’ long. It’s good to get some useful input from other outside sources. Enter The Brooklyn Kitchen!

With a varied curriculum from (the perpetually sold out), ‘Knife Skills’ class for $25 to ‘Latin Soups n Stews’ to a ‘Valentine Special’, wherein one learns how to make some yummy dishes with some decadent but simple recipes using common spices like paprika, chili pepper and cinnamon.

All classes are taught by pro Chef’s so check them out if you can. I know I want to…The Brooklyn Kitchen Classes.

Not your average Joe

Coffee Cup

My name is Craven Maven and I’m addicted to Coffee.

They say admittance is the first step to recovery, (note – who are ‘they’??), and if that is the case consider me on a perpetual road to healing. Coffee soothes the soul, makes right the days wrongs and when made right is something I wouldn’t exchange for many; many things. But who makes it good? Who makes it reeeaalll good?

Here in NYC Coffee is as much a part of the fabric of life as rats, looking good and giving ‘that’ blankstare when you’re nose to armpit to the person riding standing next to you on the rush hour train. But where can you get GOOD Coffee? Sure there is a Starbucks on every corner but if I had a penny for every person who told me that the ‘bucks gave them a ‘tummy ache” I would have a niiice shiny collection of Lincoln coins. Dunkin Donuts does have a distinct ‘nutty’ texture to their Coffee that is nice, but it also has a slightly rancid and bitter aftertaste. Pret a Manger, isn’t bad but is a little weak with a thin texture.

Enter the corner bodega. That’s right my friends, the one at the end of the street stocking everything from manky old tampax to spanish name brand potato chips. I have experienced it myself as well as heard it from other Coffee-voires: Why do local bodega’s make such good Coffee? I know many of the Spanish ones serve Cafe Bustelo (espresso) in a regular Coffee cup! Giving a high octane hit to hard core drinkers such as yours truly. The depth and richness of such a coffee in the size of a…quarduple espresso is just what is needed to hit the spot. I’ve heard Middle Eastern run deli’s serve Coffee brands from their home countries also – Places where people know Coffee and treat it like the brown gold it is instead of the ‘warm coca cola’ that is reminiscent of many an American establishment.

So next time you are in NY and you need a gooood cup of Joe, but not your average Joe. Do not under any circumstances overlook the grotty looking bodega on the corner, its ‘brown gold’ runs from about 60 cents a cup and will soothe all that ails ya. 😉

Check out Evelyn’s Grocery in Canarsie, Brooklyn for a good cup o’ Joe for only 60 cents!!

Cupcake Bakeshop

Lime tart cupcake Wasabi White Chocolate Cupcakes with Plum Sake Filling

One thing that really tickled me when I started working in NY was how much office workers LOVED cupcakes. To be honest, I found the fascination a little ….weird. Mostly because I always associated cupcakes with being a young child learning to bake for the first time. Buying those rainbow coloured cupcake sleeves, icing powder, and ‘hundreds of thousands’ , (thats ‘sprinkles’ to my American friends..), for the topping. Making cupcakes was ones first entry into culinary independance. And boy did I LOVE it.

But grown ups? Eating Cupcakes?? Insanity! However, once I tasted the likes of Magnolia Bakery I understood completely.

Which is why a site like Cupcake Bakeshop should come as no surprise. Not only do these flavours sound to die for – Lime Tart, chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate glaze and buttercream and Wasabi White Chocolate Cupcakes with Plum Sake Filling to name a few, but they look to DIE for. Seriously. I took a look at one and prepared for the end.

Check out the recipies and pictures if you are in the mood for some gastroporn.