Around Town: Mary’s Milk Bar – Edinburgh, Scotland

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There’s no better way to conclude a castle exploration than with creamy, delicious gelato. After roaming around Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, I descended the hundreds of stairs to the historic market place (Grassmarket) where Mary’s Milk Bar welcomes visitors with open doors.

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Mary’s Milk Bar is incredibly cozy and old-fashioned. Milk Bars, which promoted wholesome milky products, were popular in Britain between the 20s and 60s. Mary, who trained at Carpigiani Gelato University, makes sure all of her products are fresh. The chocolate she sells have a shelf life of no more than six months, and each week she offers new gelato flavors.

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I loved the Dark Chocolate gelato. It’s smooth and rich and tastes even better in a crunchy waffle cone. The best part about indulging in gelato at Mary’s Milk Bar? The insane view of Edinburgh Castle (which you can see in the background of the first photo).

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There are only a few tables at Mary’s Milk Bar, so if there isn’t room to sit, take your gelato to go and explore Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, and the other many winding streets in Edinburgh. It’s a gorgeous and historic city.

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Mary’s Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS, United Kingdom

Images by Lauren Jessen

Around Town: Treat House – New York City

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If you’re a Rice Krispie treat lover, then Treat House will be dessert heaven for you. Inspired by a successful bake sale, the Russell family expanded into a store when their gourmet treats were a huge success. Treat House is a flavorful twist on a childhood favorite treat.

While I normally can’t get enough of good ol’ marshmallow and crisp rice cereal, the flavors here are fun and creative. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, there are a variety of options to choose from. With flavors ranging from Birthday Cake to Watermelon to Pina Colada to Cotton Candy to S’mores, there’s something for everyone. An entire store dedicated to sweet rice crisp and marshmallow treats with unique flavors – yum! Visit with a friend and share a few so you can try a bunch of these sweet treats.

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Images by Lauren

Around Town: Levain Bakery, New York City

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Whenever I’m on the Upper West Side, I always make a stop at Levain Bakery. Though it’s very popular, I’ve only had to stand in a long line once. I go just for the cookies, but their bread, pastries, and coffee are frequently ordered items. I find myself dreaming about the Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies, and if I’m really in the mood for chocolate, the Double Chocolate Chocolate Chip (pictured above) hits the spot. The latter is a mix between a fudge brownie and cookie.

The cookies are heavy and dense, but incredible. They are crispy on the outside, but soft and doughy on the inside. Though the cookies certainly aren’t inexpensive ($4 each!), they’re huge and are worth every bite. Visit Levain with a sweet tooth and an empty stomach – you won’t regret it.

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th St
New York, NY, 10023

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Images by Lauren

Around Town: Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, New York City

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream is a contemporary twist on the traditional ice cream parlor, which is clear in their shop design, delicious ice cream, and the overall vibe of the place. I first enjoyed Morgenstern’s ice cream last month, and when I was in the neighborhood recently, I couldn’t resist going again.

I’ve enjoyed the Chocolate and Cafe Latte so far, but I can’t wait to try some of their other flavors such as Green Tea Pistachio, Black Strap Rum, and Maple Syrup Vanilla. Pro tip: get a couple of flavors with toppings (a few include honey, pickled pineapple, and toasted coconut) in the Monster (waffle) cone for a well-rounded treat. Also, they only take cash.

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington Street / NY, NY 10002

Images by Lauren

That’s a Wrap!

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I usually have some sort of sweet every day, but my treat of the moment are these chocolate covered grahams from Russ & Daughters. The chocolate is decadent, the grahams are crunchy…it’s the perfect combination. Needless to say, I’ll be going back for a whole lot more than .27 lbs worth (about 4 grahams). This week involved a lot of catching up on work and sleep due to last week’s major deadlines, and this weekend I look forward to escaping NYC for a short while (follow me here for behind-the-scenes of all things food and film). Until then, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

* In honor of the Tribeca Film Festival kicking off on Wednesday (and film festival season starting!), here are 15 travel-worthy film festivals around the world.

Orange is the New Black has (already) been renewed for Season 4!

* Even astronauts need espresso.

* 10 wedding cake trends.

* The state of ramen.

* I love that there’s going to be a Wonder Woman movie. A new director was just announced for the film.

* Ice cream innovations for spring. Yum!

* HBO to Netflix: bring it on. Oh boy.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Photo by Lauren

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

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I was inspired to try making flourless brownies while standing in the middle of the baking aisle at the grocery store. I was curious as to what flourless brownies would taste like and decided right then and there that I was up for the challenge. Turns out, it’s not so challenging, and these flourless brownies were more delicious and rich than brownies I’ve ever made with flour. This was also my first time using coconut sugar (a sugar produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm) and arrowroot powder (a starch that comes from the rhizomes of several tropical plants) – very exciting. The top of the brownies are crispy/crinkly (insert word here for ‘top of brownie perfection’) and the insides are soft and decadent. Chocolate lovers, you won’t regret making these.

I wish I could capture the smell from the oven when these brownies were baking – it was unbelievable (and a good sign that my brownies were turning out alright). Try them for yourselves – they’re a healthy alternative to white sugar-loaded brownies and you’ll feel a little less guilty for eating four or five of them fresh out of the oven.

No butter, no flour, no problem. But – if you are craving brownies with flour, these are a winner.

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Ingredients

6 Tbsp. coconut oil
7 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2/3 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
A dash of salt

How to Make Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your cupcake tin with liners.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut oil and semisweet chocolate chips until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Combine the eggs, vanilla, and sugar for 3 minutes with a handheld mixer.
4. Add the melted chocolate and coconut oil and mix.
5. Add cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, and salt to mixture. Use the handheld mixer to combine all ingredients until the batter is smooth.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until they are each half filled. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let the brownie cupcakes sit in the warm baking pan for a couple more minutes. Remove brownie cupcakes and enjoy warm!

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{Photos by Lauren}

That’s a Wrap!

Pac Man Cookies

This week I finished up the first half of Mad Men Season 7, and now I am even more excited for the second half of the season to air next week. I also went to visit an exhibit that had a couple of sets from the show, as well as many of the characters’ costumes, script notes, and props (more on this next week!). If you haven’t seen Mad Men yet, you’ve got a little over a week to watch all of the episodes on Netflix. Go ahead and binge watch, which would be made infinitely better with these Pac-Man cookies. Until then, let’s wrap up the week with a recap…

* Every Tom Hanks movie in seven minutes.

* Because even astronauts get cravings in space!

* Where are all of the good meet-cute places in NYC anymore?

* Things you never knew about Pretty Woman.

* Sushi lovers, this is your dream towel.

* This happens to me way too often.

* Amazing women in the director’s chair.

* All I’m craving now are these.

* Don’t forget to follow me for more behind-the-scenes!

Have a great weekend filled with food and film!

{Photo by Lauren}