At Kelvin Natural Slush Co., there’s nary an electric-blue or cherry-red slushie in sight. That’s because the food truck’s all-natural slushes come in three base flavors—spicy ginger, tangy citrus, and green and black tea—and gain color from real fruit puree, chopped herbs, and natural mix-ins.
Customers can design their own flavor combination or ask the staff for suggestions; favorites include tea slush with raspberry mix-ins, ginger slush and blueberry, and the “Arnold Palmer,” a half-tea, half-citrus slush made with ice hand-crushed by a vintage nine-iron. Stacked against other NYC-area food trucks, including ice creameries and a candy shop, Kelvin Natural Slush Co. took the award for best dessert at the 2010 Vendy Awards.
The enchanting scent of sugar and popcorn wafts through the city, leading visitors to Kettle Corn NYC booths, where they can watch the snack being made in front of their eyes. The process, which was featured on the Food Network, occurs in a 500-degree kettle, where popping corn is swiftly stirred with a wooden paddle to ensure an even coating of flavor. Kettle Corn NYC owner and chef Ken Nercessian uniformly coats kernels with a kaleidoscope of more than 15 flavors he’s created including original kettle corn, spicy ranch, chocolate covered cherry, and cheddar-caramel.
Jim Lahey may have set out to shape stone and clay, but—to the delight of just about everybody else—dough was the medium he was destined to mold. While studying sculpture in Italy, Lahey became invested in the art of Italian bread baking, and brought that passion and a hand-cultivated wild yeast back to the kitchens of New York. There, he developed an innovative no-kneading technique of bread making that spawned a revolution in artisanal breads, thanks to a recipe spotlighted by ¬¬New York Times food critic Mark Bittman. Since then, critics from sources as diverse as Bon Appétit and the Martha Stewart Show have praised him between bites of his sought-after loaves.
At Sullivan St. Bakery, the wild alchemy of Jim’s oven-teasing ways is on full display. The filone, a dark loaf prepared with mature fermentation and coated with wheat bran, gives off nutty and sour flavors, while the pane pugliese’s lingering caramel aftertaste could convince a swarm of bees to surrender their hive so that their honey could broach its soft interior webbing. Panini and pizza are also available, gracing the same breads that made Jim famous, as well as signature bomboloni Italian doughnuts, with cores of vanilla bean custard or seasonal fruit fillings bursting through sugar-powdered shells.
While it’s listed by TimeOut New York as one of the city’s “best coffeeshops for doing work,” Sweetleaf is also a quintessential Queens hangout. Located in a 19th-century building with exposed tin walls and ceiling, the shop has a turntable with vinyl records, Old World-style furniture, and expansive windows that open up to Long Island City. Sweetleaf has made a name for itself as one of the few shops in Queens brewing Stumptown Coffee Roasters beans. Meticulously made espresso is its other strength—baristas use a Florentine La Marzocco machine, and digitally weigh each espresso shots to ensure extra-precise drinks. Sweetleaf’s Ice Rocket Fuel drinks blends iced coffee with chicory and maple syrup, while its hot chocolate includes homemade marshmallows. Pepper pear goat cheese scones, coconut oatmeal cookies, and other pastries are also available to balance the caffeinated beverages.
For 91 years, the Orwasher family helmed their eponymous bakery, situated in what was once a primarily Eastern European neighborhood. They worked in the basement, using a rustic brick oven to create handmade loaves and even inventing, as legend has it, the first slices of pumpernickel.
Today, the bakery’s locale has evolved into the Upper East Side, and the Orwashers have moved on. They sold their shop to baker Keith Cohen in 2007, who not only kept the name, but many of their old-world traditions. Using local, sustainable, and organic ingredients, Cohen makes nearly 20 varieties of his raved-about bread completely by hand. His long fermentation process ensures rich, complex flavors such as cinnamon raisin, craft ale, and New York rye, all pulled fresh daily from the oven. Cohen has even perfected what the Orwashers very well may have invented; his Russian pumpernickel is not only found in the flagship store and at the Orwashers shop in All Good Things Marketplace, but also on Saveur’s list of their 45 favorite loaves in America. And though Cohen has moved to a modern oven for the majority of his loaves, he makes weekly pilgrimages to that same basement oven for his challah and rustic breads.
Bread is what made Orwashers famous, but the bakery also houses many other goodies. Customers can stop in for cookies, pastries, fine cheeses, and jams. Additionally, slices of their breads can be found in restaurants across the city.
Everything Frosted is owned and operated by frosting front man John Wu, a pastry artisan known for crafting edible masterpieces fit for any confectionary occasion. Make an even exchange by trading in this Groupon for a dozen cupcakes, available in signature flavors such as boston cream, toasted almond, and choco-nut ($2.50 per cupcake); or, mix and match cake and frosting options to create a newfound flavor phenomenon, such as a pink champagne cake with strawberry frosting or a black sesame cake with black sesame frosting.