Monday, August 31, 2015

Favorite: Scratch Bakeshop

Oh Scratch Bakeshop, how we love thee!  Seriously, we really do.  I think our love began with the delicate French macarons that are available daily.  Not the chewy, coconut macaroons (still yummy), but the dainty, French sandwich pastry, called the macaron - only one 'o'; rhymes with phone, home - I think you get the point.

The flavors change bi-weekly, which means that we need to least bi-weekly!  Oh the thin crisp of the outer shell as you bite into the French macaron; the dreamy filling that may consist of ganache, fruit jams, flavored buttercream, etc.  Every time we bite into a macaron, we get that warm fuzzy feeling, and can't help but have a noticeable smile on our faces.  We have even done the eyes closed, savoring each bite, "mmmm' noise, when biting into one of these beauties. The possibilities are endless, which is exactly what Scratch Bakeshop shows us!

Ok, so let's back up a bit, before this entire post is about our love of Scratch's macarons!  We would not be able to seek our endless macaron cravings if it wasn't for Scratch Bakeshop, which is owned by two lovely women, Kate and Molly.  Although they did not grow up in Rochester, they have certainly established themselves in the Rochester food scene.  They initially met, working at Village Bakery.  Molly was the head of the Pastry Department and Kate had begun working at Village Bakery, shortly after leaving the Owl House, where she started as a Server and moved to Baker.  At this point, Molly and Kate began Scratch, working out of their apartments.  They both continued their full time positions, leaving Village Bakery and moving to The Revelry (Molly worked here as a Pastry Chef) and Victoire (Kate worked here as a server).  Clearly these ladies had a lot of experience as they were growing Scratch.  Molly and Kate did not expect the quick growing outpour of support from the local community.  They went straight to Kickstarter to raise $10,000 to build a commercial kitchen at their store location on Park Ave.  They both expressed that it was "overwhelming to feel so much love and support from the community."

In turn, they love to show their own support of the Rochester community. Many of the ingredients that they use in their products come from local farmers.  If you are in need of a recommendation for a florist, photographer, or other service, Molly and Kate are quick to recommend local businesses.

"We feel as though we are opening Rochester up to a whole new world of desserts.  We continuously search our brains for out of the box ideas and recipes.  We love to try new things and stay ahead of trends."  This is clearly true.  The variety of flavorings and options available to customers continues to grow.  Molly and Kate are inspired by their travels, the seasons, and local and fresh ingredients.  An example of a pair up with a local business is their connection with F Oliver's.  One of their favorite items they have created is a Chocolate Blood Orange Balsamic Cake, using F Oliver's products.  They also made a macaron with balsamic, which was fantastic! They share a passion for food and cooking, which comes out in their products.  Experimentation is key and "inspiration can be found everywhere and anywhere if you just open your eyes."

Included in the baked goods that are offered, there are the traditional baked goods, but also dairy free, vegan, gluten free and vegan/gluten free goods.  The increase in the market for non traditional items are growing and Scratch Bakeshop is able to cater to that need.  A bit less than half of their business is with clients who are gluten free or vegan.

Let's get to the tasty items....
Some of the items they offer are cakes, brownies, cupcakes, shortbread cookies, cake truffles, chocolate cookies, and of course....let's say it together....macarons!  They also provide custom goods for events.  A hint- check out their Instagram or Facebook page and look at the gorgeous creations that they continue to develop.

Molly and Kate clearly have a passion for baking and cooking and they hope to make people happy with the items they share with their customers. "We believe the key to life is finding something you are passionate about and going after it, despite any set back you feel might come your way."

This is a must try for locals; in fact, bring anyone visiting Rochester here too or send the items as a gift to a lover of baked goods!

Location:  113 Park Ave
                  Rochester, NY 14607

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Favorites: Royal Cafe

Today's post is featuring a favorite of almost a decade.  My then boyfriend, now husband, Johann, and I found a gem in the small village of Fairport, called Royal Cafe. A sign for gelato is what initially caught my eye.  A friend of mine had just returned from living in Italy for two years, and raved about the gelato she had there.

When we walked through the doors, we were greeted by the friendly owner, Sadik. He was excited to hear it was our first gelato experience, and went into detail about how it was different than regular ice cream, and his process for making it in-house. If you're not familiar, gelato is made from whole milk instead of milk and cream. This cuts down on calories and fat content.  The owner focuses on the use of fresh, organic ingredients, and extracting as much natural flavor as possible, in lieu of loading his gelato with sugar.  He was happy to let us sample new flavors from the case before deciding. From our first taste, we were hooked.

Fast forward to today where Stef and I are sitting in Royal Cafe. Upon walking in, you're welcomed by a colorful display of sixteen different delicious gelato flavors.

Kate explained today's flavors and made suggestions for combinations since we were having trouble deciding on our own!  We each decided to go with a small cup, which has three scoops. The medium has four, and the large, five. We decided to divide and conquer and each get three different flavors. Stef went with menta (mint), peanut butter chocolate, and espresso.  I decided to go with the salted caramel, coconut, and Sadik's favorite, hazelnut. Kate had explained to us that Sadik takes the time to oven-roast the hazelnuts, which fills the whole cafe with their aroma.

Even if you cannot have dairy, there is still an offering of various dairy free sorbets.  Some of the dairy free sorbet flavors include lemon, blueberry, mixed berry, and blackberry, which Stef did sample!  The blackberry flavor really came out in every delicious bite.  Yum!

Being a cafe, they do have more than just scrumptious gelato.  You can treat yourself to lunch, or a pastry dessert and a smoothie or coffee.

Staying true to in-house made goods, Sadik's mother makes the ciabatta bread for the sandwiches, and insists on using organic ingredients for the menu items.  In addition to sandwiches they offer a variety of wraps and salads.

If you're looking for a real treat that is hard to find anywhere else, try the spaghetti sundae! It's made with vanilla gelato, snaked like spaghetti, covered in a strawberry sauce, topped with white chocolate and brownies, then drizzled with a chocolate sauce.

If you are getting a gelato craving, but the Fairport location isn't a close drive for you, they just opened a store front location in the food court near the carousel at Eastview mall. They also supply their gelato to a few different restaurants around the Rochester area. No matter what you do, just make sure you check out one of the Royal Cafe locations. We're already scheming our next flavor combinations. You're in for a treat!

Location: 15 N Main Street
                  Fairport, NY

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Scream You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream!

This summer I have been eating A LOT of ice cream.  The ice cream that I have been waiting to try though has been from Eat Me Ice Cream.  They use organic, local ingredients.  I really enjoyed this video that explains their process of making the ice cream and deciding which flavors to create from week to week!                                                                                                                                                                    
Apricot Blueberry ice cream on a sugar cookie

I did meet one of the wonderful ladies from Eat Me and had the opportunity to sample a CocoNana ice candy, which was like an ice cream pop, both smooth and creamy.  I have to admit that banana is not my fruit of choice, but did I gobble up the ice candy?  Yes, I most definitely did and I enjoyed every bite of it!  

My friend Amy had the Apricot Blueberry ice cream on a sugar cookie and she said it was delicious!  I did sneak a bite and it definitely was yummy.  However, I had to go with one of the staples:  The Hugup.  Oh wonderful chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hugging together, sandwiched between a brownie cookie and a sugar cookie.  
I don't mind if I do!
You can feel the love between the 2 cookies.

Yum! What flavor should I try next?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July: Branca

Today we arrived for dinner at Branca, which took over the old Great Northern Pizza location in Pittsford.  There was outdoor seating, but we were sat inside.  It looked as though they were setting up the outside since it rained a bit earlier in the day.

We began with ice cold waters, which were refilled throughout our stay.  I ordered the Rossini, which included vodka, Prosecco, St. Germain, and a fresh berry purée.  It was definitely fresh tasting and I ended up ordering another mid dinner.  Beth had a virgin spin on the Rossini (no drinking for her!).  Our husbands ordered The Underwood which was a bourbon based drink, with Cinnamon Demerara, and Peach Bitters.  To be honest, we weren't quite sure what Demerara was, but upon looking it up (thanks google!), realized it was a sugar.  Jon ordered a second, and Johann also received a second, although he never actually ordered it.  They described it as a classic tasting bourbon cocktail, with a cinnamon finish to cut the heat.

We started with 3 appetizers.  Many items looked delicious, but the guys chose the crispy calamari with the sweet pepper sauce, which was fresh tasting.  The sauce was a nice compliment to the calamari.  I chose the panzanella salad with fresh, creamy burrata and a tomato vinaigrette.  The bread was perfectly soaked in the dressing and the burrata was very light.  I wish there was a little more flavor with the dressing mixed with the cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion.  Beth got the garden salad that came with seasonal vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette.  It was quite a big portion and had pieces of Gorgonzola and corn throughout.

For our main meals Beth and our husbands all ordered the gnocchi with a slow braised meat ragu.  The gnocchi was cooked well, but the sauce is what made the dish.  Pork and Lamb were in the ragu and a few of us are not a fan of lamb for various reasons (Personally, I had a few pet lambs and then I was later fed the lambs by my grandmother for a traditional Easter dinner unbeknownst to me.  There is more to the story, but needless to say, I still can't eat lamb and yes I still have a picture of me and my lamb pets!).  However, none of us could taste any "lamb taste" in the ragu.  If you are not a lamb fan and have had lamb, you know what I mean by "lamb taste."  It was missing a bit of the "wow factor," but I think they would order it again if there was not another item on the menu that peaked their interest.

I had the fettuccini with a pesto sauce and house made ricotta.  The pesto was delicious and my husband Jon kept scooping up the pesto at the bottom of my dish!  I made sure I had a small bite of ricotta with each bite of pasta.  It was so fresh and light with a bit of cracked pepper over it.  The pasta was perfectly cooked to al dente with that little bit of bite.  All of the pasta is also made in house!  There is no competition with fresh pasta.

Our server was very attentive and checked in no more than necessary.  Overall, we would like to go back and try one of the pizzas, a risotto, and maybe a few other dishes!

We promise next time we will include pictures!