Dos Leches y Uno Rompope Cake

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There’s a delightful couple who live in my building whom I’m privileged to regard as especially close friends. Their toddler recently celebrated his second birthday and they graciously saved a piece of cake for me. Since we are all hardcore foodies, we often pass goodies along to each other.

Now, if you read me, you know that I’m a fan of neologisms; I’ve even created a few such as: to “doorknob” (verb) – the act of hanging a bag containing a tasty treat on the recipient’s doorknob to be retrieved upon their arriving home (or waking up). Example: “I just doorknobbed you some homemade chocolate chip cookies.”

This action is often accompanied by a text message containing relevant details. In this case, my friend wrote, “Just doorknobbed you a piece of birthday cake. The bakery called it Tres Leches Cake; it really wasn’t very wet, but that’s what they called it.”

The cake and its icing, custard and strawberry fillings were wonderful, but there was not uno drop of leche to be found, let alone tres of them.

Fortunately, I had a little sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream left over from baking Thanksgiving pumpkin pies but no evaporated milk to complete the trio. I did, however, have eggnog in the fridge and since I’ve raised lily-gilding to an art form, I decided to go for it. I added a few fresh strawberries and the result is what you see here.

Another win for Team Eggnog! See why we need to have it year-round?

Happy Diwali!

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Dear Friends,

I can no longer keep this to myself. I am an addict, hooked on mithai. What’s that? You don’t know about mithai? Mithai are Indian sweets and since Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is upon us, I can think of no better time than now to tell you my tale. So gather round your diyas and check out my post “Indian Sweets 101: Meeting Mithai” right here on!
दिवाली मुबारक
Happy Diwali!


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You know about mochi, the popular Japanese rice cake, often sweet but not necessarily, made from glutinous rice pounded into paste.

You might not know about hopia, pastries hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia that can be found with a variety of fillings like ube (purple yam) or sweet bean paste enclosed within either a flaky or a cakey dough.

This product is called Mochipia, a portmanteau of mochi and hopia, both in name and composition. They’re filled with ube/macapuno paste surrounding a chewy mochi center that provides a snackworthy contrasting texture. Macapuno is a cultivar of coconut, sweet and jelly-like in texture, and often found in combination with ube in Filipino snacks because the two flavors are deliciously compatible.

And, of course, we always get some along the way on my Elmhurst food tour. Want to know where? Get the details on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst page and sign up to join in the fun!

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – 2023

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A visit to any Chinatown bakery this time of year will reveal a spectacular assemblage of mooncakes (月餅, yue bing) in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes, sizes, ornamentation, and fillings, all begging to be enjoyed in observance of the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated this year on September 29. Here are two pandan mooncakes, one with preserved egg yolk and a mini version without, from Chinatown’s Fay Da Bakery.

And here’s one of my favorites, Five Mix Nut Moon Cake, from Golden Fung Wong Bakery at 41 Mott St – one of the stops on my Manhattan Chinatown ethnojunket, of course!

Since 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, known for his elegance among many other characteristics depending upon where you do your research, I decided to purchase an assortment of these elegant delicacies in order to share them, virtually, with you.

For a deep dive into the holiday and these delicious treats, you can get the skinny – er, poor choice of words there – in my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified page detailing their similarities and differences in an attempt to shed some light (moonlight, of course) on their intricacies.



Genatsvale is a touching Georgian word that doesn’t readily translate into other languages. At its essence, it is a term of endearment but it’s actually an elision/concatenation of a longer phrase which loosely deconstructed is, “If you are ever in trouble, let me take your place.” Sweet.

It is also the name of a new month-old Georgian bakery at 3070 Brighton 3rd St in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn where the two items I’ve tasted have easily surpassed any other versions I’ve experienced – and that’s saying something.

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This is Achma. It looks like noodles with cheese, but it is considered a member of the khachapuri family (Georgian breads). It consists of layers of thin handmade dough (a laborious task) interspersed with a mixture of cheeses all baked together until the top is brown and crispy and the cheese is melty and gooey. Their rendition of the dish is outstanding, and yes, we enjoy this seemingly modest miracle on my Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa ethnojunket.

And speaking of sweet, what’s for dessert? They spell it Gada although I’ve seen Qada more frequently. The dough is rolled out, spread with a simple but rich filling, rolled up, and crinkle cut on the bias. It’s dense yet soft, a little crumbly, sweet but not cloying, buttery but not unctuous. Again, it’s by far the best I’ve had anywhere.

No surprise that they know me by now because I keep going back for more – so if you want to buy some for yourself, tell Katie or Linda that ethnojunkie sent you! (This is NOT a paid endorsement, but it is a recommendation!)

Or you could just take my tour to try these and even more delectable treats! 😉

Shakalaka Bakery

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The cliché applies to each of New York City’s nine Chinatowns: So many bakeries, so little time. And Flushing is no exception rocking its major chains, smaller collectives, and the occasional singleton.

Each is known for its specialties, and each has its loyal followers who passionately champion their choice of who has the best Don Tat (egg tarts), the best Char Siu Bao (BBQ pork buns), the best Jian Dui (sesame balls) – you get the idea. The larger chains have a reliable contingent of the most popular goodies (like the aforementioned) but it seems to me that the smaller the establishment, the more likely you are to find something unique.

Shakalaka Bakery at 136-76 Roosevelt Ave in Flushing is one such enterprise. I entered in search of crispy, crumbly, almond thins but was stopped in my tracks by a sign that read “Gooey Chocolate Cookies” perched over a tray of baked goods that looked more like mini loaves than cookies. Obviously, since gooey, chocolate, and cookie comprise a hat-trick, I had to indulge. I’m hard pressed to describe it as a cookie, but I can vouch for the fact that it was a righteous snack on the subway ride back. (What – you thought I’d wait until I got home?)

And in other news, although I didn’t purchase it, the label on these diminutive carbobombs was “Chestnut Cake”.

I think “Cousin Itt Cake” would have nailed it, but that’s just me.

Guoyu Spicy Fruit

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In case you were thinking that Mexico had cornered the market in sweet fresh fruit garnished with a spicy topping (Tajín, for example), please allow me to disabuse you of that notion.

I was in Flushing scoping out new and unusual goodies for my “Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best” ethnojunket and I discovered Guoyu Spicy Fruit in the revived Golden Mall at 41-28 Main St. They’ve been there about a month offering 16 varieties of cut fruits with a choice of either spicy chili or sweet yogurt mix-ins.

You’ll see samples for each of the two options. Taste the spicy sample and then channel Goldilocks requesting spicier than this, less spicy, or just right. Personally, I think the idea is brilliant – so much more meaningful than an arbitrary numbering system that’s relative to nothing.

The sweet yogurt option comes with an assortment of toppings such as popping boba, coconut, sprinkles, crumbled chocolate cookies, nuts & raisins, and the like so you can customize your treat per the sample cups as well.

Naturally, I was all in on the spicy option. You fill up either size (¾ or 1 liter) container yourself with as many or as few kinds of fruit as your heart desires and specify the topping to be mixed into it. I’m pleased to report that it was truly delicious – how could it not be?

But even the smaller size was more than I could finish in a single sitting, so I brought the remainder home with me – and that’s when I went rogue: I tried it over vanilla ice cream and it was positively synergistic. Turned out it was also a perfect foil for mixing into tapioca pudding. The day after that, I anointed my breakfast French Toast with some of the remaining sweet, spicy juice: who needs cloying maple syrup? I will even admit that I poured a bit into a glass of ice cold Coca Cola by way of experimentation – and it actually worked!

I am more than happy with this – not to mention that it’s good for you! Fresh fruit and spice – no fat, no sugar added. Plus check out the adorable multi-purpose bucket that it comes in!

I’m curious to see what you think, either if you’ve been there or are planning to go; let me know in the comments below!

Flavor du Jour

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What’s your favorite flavor? My favorite flavor varies radically from day to day. That particular day was a sweltering New York City scorcher that reminded me of childhood trips to the boardwalk on Coney Island – ocean breezes, blue water beneath bluer skies, cumulus clouds poised to be redefined, the blare of AM transistor radios blasting Top 40 hits competing with a Yankees game, the screech of seagulls in a feeding frenzy fighting over a fried clam – and a mandatory visit to Williams Candy Shop on Surf Avenue for a cup of pistachio/banana twist soft serve.

“Pistachio and banana?” I hear you cry. “Is that a good combination?”

Of course not.

But this is artificial pistachio paired with artificial banana. A perfect match made in food laboratory heaven; the two share a strong chemical family resemblance and thus are highly compatible.

So on that particular day, this was my favorite flavor: The Flavor of Nostalgia.

Polish Baked Goods

A few posts ago, I wrote about Moe’s Donuts in Greenpoint. They’re outstanding, they’re unique, but they’re not Polish.

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A few of my favorite neighborhood bakeries haven’t survived, but that doesn’t spell the absence of authentic Polish goodies. And speaking of spelling and authentic Polish goodies, this is Drożdżówka z Makiem: “bun with poppy seeds”. Polish bakeries typically offer an assortment of sweet poppy seed pastries. The seeds are ground and cooked together with sugar and other ingredients to make a distinctive coarse paste used in dozens of Eastern European dessert recipes. If your only contact with poppy seeds is in the form of a scattering on top of a Kaiser/Vienna roll or a bagel, understand that those savory sprinkles and this sweet poppy seed filling are Poles apart. (Sorry, not sorry.) My recommendation: the more plentiful the poppy seed filling in the pastry you choose, the happier you’ll be.

These are freshly baked Pączki, genuine Polish jelly donuts that frequently come coated with a sugar glaze; you’ll find that the distinctive dough differs a bit from most American jelly donuts. It seems that they’re available just about everywhere that sells fresh food in the neighborhood – even if it’s not a bakery – if you just look for them. The filling in these tasted somewhat like apple, but I suspect there’s more to it than that.

And of course we’ll sample pączki if I do a Greenpoint food tour – but that’s up to you. I’ll do one more post after this one (Kielbasi!) and after that I’m looking forward to hearing from you to see if you’d like to join me on a Little Poland ethnojunket.

Stay tuned!

Advocat Cookies

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If you read me with any degree of regularity, you know that I’m a foreign language nut. You also know that I’ve been prowling around Greenpoint with an eye toward putting together a Polish ethnojunket.

So I was pleased to find an entire aisle of Polish filled cookies whose wrappers I could actually translate: wiśnia – cherry flavor, śliwka – plum flavor, cytrynowy – lemon flavor, advocat – lawyer flavor…wait, what? My BFF Google Translate was no help; it translated Polish advokat as lawyer. And no, having D as the second letter rules out avocado; awokado is Polish for avocado.

Of course I bought a bag. The English printed on the pack was even less help: “Crispy biscuit with delicious cream of advocat flavour in the chocolate shell.” Gee, thanks. It was only then that I noticed a picture of a tiny glass containing a yellow liquid lurking behind a stack of cookies on the package. I looked up “advocat drink” (how did we even survive without internet search engines?) and discovered: “Advocaat is a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar, and brandy. The rich and creamy drink has a smooth, custard-like consistency.” So it’s eggnog flavor that makes them unique and almost Christmassy! We’re definitely getting these treats if we do a Greenpoint food tour.

Because if you read me with any degree of regularity, you know how I feel about eggnog! 😉