I just read the most scrumptious article on inventive, creative, outrageous flavors of ice cream being offered around town.  Town meaning New York City of course.  I read about these exotic places and yet I don’t go, what’s wrong with that picture?  A LOT!  Instead of being inside my air-conditioned apartment typing away at this blog, I should hustle myself over to one of these dairy delightful destinations.  Maybe this weekend I can get to one and really give you a first-hand opinion on just how delicious these ice cream flavors are.  I’ve copied the article (with photos I hope) and will attempt to paste below.  You know, just because you don’t live in NYC and you love ice cream, you could suggest to your own local ice cream shop (provided they make their ice cream like they all say they do), one of these flavors and give them the article too.  Now I call that paying it forward!  ** The photos didn’t copy so I’m going to try to put them in myself which means the wrong photo might be above or below the description.  Well you get the picture.

Chocolate. Vanilla. Strawberry. Always good choices. Chocolate chai? Cherry vanilla? Black-pepper strawberry? Even better ones. (And we haven’t even gotten to the Mexican Coke yet.) Check out five local creameries that are taking flavor combos to the next level.

Rum & Coke Raisin

Rum & Coke Raisin

Photo: Davey’s Ice Cream
This is one of those “Where has this been all my life?” moments. Davey’s Ice Cream in the East Village whips drunken rum raisins into sweet cream that has been infused with–wait for it–Mexican Coke. It’s an occasional special, but even the shop’s simple strawberry variety gets a kick of black pepper. It’s just how they do.

Davey’s Ice Cream, 137 First Ave. (at St. Marks Pl.)

Makers Mark Manhattan

Makers Mark Manhattan

Photo: Coolhaus
More of a whiskey girl? The traveling Coolhaus truck spikes its ice cream with Maker’s Mark and folds in sour cherries. Order it in a cup or in a sandwich of equally inventive cookies (hi, potato chip and butterscotch) and call it a day.

Follow @CoolhausNY on Twitter for truck locations and daily flavors

Avocado Ice Cream

Avocado Ice Cream

Photo: OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
It only makes sense that the world’s creamiest fruit is spun into the city’s healthiest cone. (OK, we have no real evidence of that, but hey, it’s got omega-3s?) Hit up OddFellows in Williamsburg or the East Village to see if the scoop of avocado is available. But really, any of the shop’s rotating flavors are worthy of this list.

OddFellows Ice Cream Co., 75 E. Fourth St. (at Second Ave.); 175 Kent Ave. (at N. Third St.), Brooklyn

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

Photo: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
The beloved day starter is now a day maker at Van Leeuwen. This is our go-to shop (and truck) for sophisticated flavors like Ceylon cinnamon, currants and cream, and gianduja.

Van Leeuwen locations throughout NYC

The article and photos are from PURE WOW.


I guess that’s a pretty crazy title and I better explain it.  If you think this one’s weird, I almost titled it CATCHING BEES WITH HONEY AND HOW TO CLEAN.  Enough – this is Thursday’s post and so I have some top tips for you.  Not 10 this week, just 9 BUT they are really good to know. 

Your Clean Machine in a Bottle

Your Clean Machine in a Bottle

Cleaning from within  was my attempt at cleverness – look within your kitchen cabinet and find that bottle of white vinegar which is probably way in the back because you haven’t used it since Easter when you mixed dyes for Easter eggs.

White vinegar, unassuming and cheap! It’s your miracle method for cleaning and it’s antibacterial too.  Let’s start in the kitchen.

1.  CUTTING BOARDS:  If you’re cleaning your cutting boards with water or bleach (oh no!) then STOP right now.  Wash the board with white vinegar and scrub it with a rough sponge or brush.  Vinegar is safe for human consumption, bleach is not!

2. SPONGES:  Just like the cutting board, vinegar is your best bet for cleaning and disinfecting your germ-prone sponges.   Soak your sponges in white distilled vinegar overnight. In the morning, rinse the sponges in cold water, then allow to dry naturally.

3.  COUNTER TOPS:  Your counters see a lot of direct contact with food, raw meat, and human hands…so not a good combination!  Unlike water, vinegar disinfects your counters, and is safer than bleach or harsh chemicals. From this day forward, vinegar is your counter top’s new best friend! Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, spray and wipe!

4.  FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SUPER CLEANER: You definitely need to give your store bought produce a good washing. The process of farm-to-table is loaded with pesticides and wax coatings (gross right?). Clean with vinegar!  Use your sink or large basin and fill halfway with lukewarm water and 1 cup of vinegar.  Wash the vegetables, rinse with water and let dry – you will NOT taste any vinegar.  Vinegar is a particularly fab way to wash your fruits and veggies because it easily breaks down the wax coating and kills bacteria and mold. No joke, the editors of Cook’s Illustrated set out to find the most effective way to wash fruits and vegetables, and vinegar came out the clear winner, beating antibacterial soap, water and just a scrub brush in removing bacteria.  I wipe fresh strawberries with a paper towel soaked in a water and white vinegar mix.

5.  WILTED GREENS:  White vinegar can work wonders on wilted, tired lettuce.  Soak the leaves in a bowl with 2 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 10 minutes. Finish with a hearty rinse. If you plan to use the lettuce in salad, dry it using a salad spinner and use a vinegar dressing like apple cider vinegar, balsamic or red wine.

6.  CARPET STAINS: Here’s a no-fail recipe; Fill a spray bottle of 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water.  Spray it directly on the carpet stain, and after letting it sit for a few minutes, dab (press down, don’t rub) the spot. Be sure to test the solution out on a small portion of your carpet before cleaning with vinegar, just in case. Vinegar is able to get out almost everything, 

7.  WINDOWS:  It’s finally sunny and pleasant out, yay! Time to let the glorious sunlight into your home by giving your windows the best clean of their lives! Mix  1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 4 drops of dish soap. First spray the windows and wipe clean with a (microfiber is best!) cloth. The real secret to streak free windows is to wipe dry with newspaper.

8.  REMOVING OLD WALLPAPER:  Difficult wallpaper is no match for white vinegar! Apartment Therapy’s Kate Legere found that cleaning with vinegar, or dousing really, was the only way to remove 20 year old wallpaper. Her technique calls for boiling hot water, vinegar, and a spray bottle. First she removed all possible wallpaper, then mixed equal parts boiling water and vinegar into a spray bottle. After a liberal spraying session, she waited for 5-10 minutes then gently scraped away the stubborn wallpaper with a putty knife. The tougher spots took a few more vinegar and scraping sessions, but after an afternoon, the 80s wallpaper was completely removed.

9.  COLOR RESTORER:   The best way to restore color and vibrancy to carpets is by cleaning with vinegar.  Mix together in a foam dispenser: 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon household ammonia, 4 tablespoons liquid dishwasher detergent, and 1 cup of water.  Apply the foam solution directly, and blot with a sponge. Divide up the total surface into small areas to maintain your focus. For sturdy fabrics, scrub with a flat brush to work in the vinegar.

Looks Good Enough To Eat

Looks Good Enough To Eat

It’s Tasty Tidbits Tuesday and I’ve got a great summer pasta dish for you!  I’m planning on making it the next time we are at the cottage.  If you are a regular reader you probably know that I am enamored with the fresh produce from the Garden State AND I happen to be growing some mint in my backyard!  A while ago I posted a pasta dish that had mint in it and I have to tell you it was with some trepidation that I made that dish.  I’m Italian and have been eating Italian food for a very, very long time and I had never come across any pasta dish with mint in it.   Sorry it took me so long because I’ve made that dish at least twice more since posting it.  That recipe can be found in a previous blog; http://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/wednesday-is-prince-spaghetti-day/

So now along comes another pasta recipe with mint as one of the main ingredients and I think it’s going to great.  I normally don’t feature recipes that I haven’t made, however, this one comes from the New York Times and I know it wouldn’t have been printed if it hadn’t been tested.

Sea salt and ground pepper

1 # fusilli pasta

1 TBS olive oil plus drizzling

6 oz. pancetta, diced

6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 quart of cherry tomatoes halved

3 TBS butter

Fresh ricotta

3 cups of whole mint leaves, torn

4 scallions thinly sliced

Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta to 1 minute shy of al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water. 

Meanwhile heat a large skillet or braising pan over med-high heat for 15 seconds, then add oil and heat till it thins out, coats the pan when swirled.  Add pancetta, cook till fat renders – 2 minutes.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook 2 minutes till fragrant.   Add tomatoes cook til they burst, have golden edges  and begin to shrivel – about 5 – 8  minutes.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with the tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry, add a little pasta water a few tablespoons at a time.  Cook over high heat while pasta finishes cooking.  Add butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.

Divide pasta into warmed bowls, garnish with dollops of ricotta and top with a generous mound of mint and scallions.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.

NOTES: You can use grape, pear or other diminutive tomatoes and mixing red, yellow and orange tomatoes will make your dish pretty.  Do not add the ricotta to the sauce, you want to keep it distinct so you can revel in the contrast of cool and creamy against hot, spicy and salty.  If you can find red scallions, use them.


He wrote songs that tell a story and touch our hearts long before Billy Joel started and he plays classical piano and embraces the audience in the manner Liberace did. This is Neil Sedaka !!!

That Was Then

That Was Then


This Is Now

This Is Now

Last night we went to a FABULOUSLY entertaining concert in Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium.  Neil Sedaka performed and he is truly the ultimate entertainer. He LOVES the audience and they love him. Really, what’s not to love?  The man steps onto to the stage blowing kisses to the crowd!

 Prior to his stage appearance, we are shown clips of one great performer after another singing hit songs that Neil Sedaka wrote and they recorded. His songs were sung by the likes of Elvis Presley, Elton John, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Jones, Captain and Tenille, JUST to name a few.

 Of course, the average age of the crowd was just perfect for him because we all knew all of the songs he played and sang. He’s energetic, jumping up after each song and relating anecdotes replete with humor and wit, and he even does a few dance steps with some of the songs. That might not sound like such a big deal but he is 75 years old and his voice is amazingly strong and clear. He belts out a song as well as anybody 40 years younger AND of course you can actually understand what he’s saying.

He’s a classically trained musician; he went to Juilliard in New York. His parents were not exactly thrilled when they realized he was writing pop music songs and singing them too! Early on he sold his first song and was hooked. Obviously song-writing comes easily to him – he has written 800 songs!

 Mr. Sedaka gave us what we came for; he crooned all the oldies we know so well. We were treated to OH CAROL, BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO, SOLITAIRE, CALENDAR GIRL, LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN, EARTH ANGEL, TEARS ON MY PILLOW, WHERE THE BOYS ARE, YOUR PRECIOUS LOVE, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET SIXTEEN, NEXT DOOR TO AN ANGEL and so many more.  The crowd went wild and applauded loudly at the beginning chords of each hit song.

 Neil Sedaka told us he sold 40 Million records between 1958-1963 and then asked the audience what did we think happened in 1963? The answer was pretty obvious to all of us and in a chorus we called out – “The Beatles”! His response, “NOT GOOD”!! The advent of the Beatles and the British Invasion was the demise of the Sedaka sound. For the next 12 years, he was virtually retired, working somewhat in England. It was there that he met Elton John, a BIG Sedaka fan, and who was thrilled to sign Neil Sedaka to his recording company, Rocket Records. This event heralded the comeback of Sedaka.

 As the evening wound down, although the songs never did, Mr. Sedaka regaled the crowd with a stunning example of his piano virtuosity. He played a beautiful piece of symphonic classical music, thrilling the audience once again with his talents. He is one fantastic entertainer, we enjoyed every single minute of this performance.

I’m amending this blog post because I found a YOUtube video of Neil Sedaka singing one of his newer songs.  THIS is real love song, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have listening to it over and over.

How can I name the Top Ten ice cream flavors, I mean really?!  This is just so subjective and for me the list revolves around moods, places and anything else lol.  Of course I have my old standbys, who doesn’t ?  What are yours? Want to share? Please do, wouldn’t it be great if the comment section of this blog  were filled with ice cream flavors and then whenever we wanted to drool, we could just pull up the page and lick the screen.  

This is clearly not the first time ice cream and ice cream flavors have found their way into this blog, oh no!  See this previous post, http://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/so-many-flavors-so-little-time/ and your vicarious taste buds will be activated.

So here goes in a true stream of consciousness today’s list of the TOP TEN Ice Cream flavors that come to mind AND are not in any order of importance – they’re just there this Sunday morning when I haven’t had my coffee or breakfast yet – this should be an interesting list ha, ha, ha.

So Many Flavors So LIttle Time

So Many Flavors So LIttle Time

1.  JAVA JOLT:  A delightful mildly sweet coffee ice cream with chunks of dark chocolate and dark chocolate syrup swirled through it.

2. CHOCOLATE MINT CHIP:  A minty green ice cream with tiny square dark chocolate chips throughout. This one is a real oldie and has become a classic

3.  MALTED MILK BALL: OMG when I found this flavor at an ice cream shop in Neptune, I couldn’t wait to taste it – such a throwback to a childhood favorite.

4. ALMOND TURTLES: If you’ve ever traveled to the South and picked up some of those famous chocolate “Turtles”, you know what I’m talking about.

5. PEANUT BUTTER MOOSE TRACKS: Definitely one of my “go-to” flavors for a peanut butter fix.  Thinks vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirls and chunks of peanut butter chips – Yeah you got the picture!

6. CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER: This speaks for itself doesn’t it?  Rich chocolate ice cream with chunks of peanut butter in it. God is good.

7. ALMOND JOY:  The only thing better than chocolate and peanut butter is chocolate and coconut with some almonds thrown in!!

8. CREAMSICLE: Oh my shades of the Good Humor man! Orange sherbet and vanilla ice creme blended.

9. PISTACHIO: Such an old time favorite and so good, never say no to pistachio!

10. PUMPKIN: Definitely seasonal so when it’s out, I eat as much as I can in those two months of the year it appears.

Just TEN for today, but then again it’s till before noon so after our brunch, who knows……



I don’t know whether to pick up the last couple of days of Ice Cream week at Pbenjay OR tell you where I’ve been and why!

Well, promises made are promises to be kept and I said I would explain why I just disappeared for a couple of days.  I was all set to post Thursday’s Top Ten list of ice cream flavors but didn’t get to write it before we left for the Shore.  I figured I could write it when we got there.  Never assume! 

Getting everything out of the apt, onto the cart and into the car is not fun thing it’s cracked up to be and Thursday was a WTF day!  I wheeled the cart out to the curb and took one look at the car and GULPED! The right rear fender has a huge dent in it. Oh shit! That was the mildest of the curse words that flew out of my mouth! I mean really, I am rebuilding this car fender by fender and bumper by bumper as it seems to be magnet for the most careless, rude, mean-spirited people that have hit my car and NOT ONE HAS EVER LEFT A NOTE ! There’s a real F U hit and run attitude prevalent in New York City.  I was just sick over this latest offense and thinking about yet another $250 deductible.  Naturally I asked Peter about it and he related the story of how he went to get the car from where it had been parked on another street and as he approached the car, a young man who was tinkering with his bike asked if this was his car because he thought it had been hit by a truck that had tried to park behind it and couldn’t fit and drove off.  Yeah he couldn’t fit – guess he knew that when he bashed in my rear fender!  This was not auspicious beginning of the trip or weekend.

We left New York a little after 3pm AND that was a mistake AND not the first time we’ve done such dumb thing and as a due reward for our stupidity it took us an hour to go from the UES to the Lincoln Tunnel.  I’m going to blame the late afternoon Starbucks for my very uncomfortable  situation;  we moved along excruciatingly slow and I wondered if I would make it to the service area about 2 miles outside the tunnel on the New Jersey side.  Ay yi yi…. I don’t need to fill in the blanks.

We were carrying things into the cottage and I remark to Peter that there must have been some rain here because there was a pile of mud and debris in our walkway (this always happens when it rains).  All of sudden Peter says, “hey there’s no power on”!  “WTF”!  I quickly open and close the freezer and my worst fears are confirmed.  Everything is defrosted, still a little chilled but definitely the frozen fruit is soup.  I call my friend Jane who owns a hotel in town and ask her if the power went out in town and she says no, not that I’m aware of.  I cross the street to speak to my neighbor and ask if he has power? Yes he does. BUT then goes on to explain that severe thunder and lightning storms along with 5 1/2 ” of rain fell on Monday and Tuesday AND the house 2 doors down from mine got hit with lightning.  Mmmmm – Peter goes to the basement, flips all the circuit breakers and nothing happens. I am so panicked about all the food in the freezer, we contemplate packing up a bag and taking it to the hotel but then we realize our neighbor’s house is empty because work is being done so we scoot over there to see if her refrigerator is on and empty.  We relay pass the food from our house to the neighbors over the fence.  I am stacking my soggy food in layers in her freezer with some freezer packs.

We call Jersey CL&P and tell them it’s an emergency, and we wait, and we wait.  Finally, a burly man with a big truck shows up.  Five minutes later he leaves…after he flips the MASTER CIRCUIT BREAKER switch.  REALLY??!! Really? In all fairness (and this part is hard), that switch stops halfway and in order to reset it, you have to push it past that point and pull it back.

Okay we have power, the food I think may be salvageable is next door and we still have to eat.  I start dinner and turn on the TV which for some reason I can’t seem to sync with the cable box.  Peter tries and he can’t do it either.  I think I’ll call Verizon but the phones are dead – I assume they are recharging – NEVER ASSUME.  And there’s no internet access.  So I call Verizon on my cell phone and for the next 30 minutes the technician tries to talk Peter through many steps to reboot everything only to discover ultimately that the big main box that was behind the wine rack, behind the cookbooks and behind the cake tin housing lots of tools is dead.  And that was only found out after trying to follow a cord out that box which ran behind the bookcase that held a ton of videos and its top shelf had several framed photos that kept falling as we tried to move the bookcase and then follow the cord behind the radiator which does not move!

Finally the techie and Peter realize making a service appointment is our only option. It’s now after 9:00 pm on Thursday night and the first appointment we can have is between 8am-noon on Saturday – WTF!  We have a house guest arriving tomorrow, we have no phone, no internet, no cable TV.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. We are up and ready by 8am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Verizon repair man. At 8:15 am my cell phone rings and a cheery voice greets me with the news that although our appointment was to be between 8am-12pm, he wouldn’t be able to get there until between 1pm-2pm.  I tell him that is totally unacceptable and rattle off the reasons why and tell him to call his dispatcher and call me back.  He doesn’t so I call Verizon and the poor customer service who picked up the phone got an earful from me.  He kept repeating how they were over-booked and I kept repeating my litany of how long I have been a Verizon customer, how this house has been without all Verizon services for almost a week. Ok he’ll call the dispatcher and call me back.  He calls back and gives me this song and dance about how he spoke to the dispatcher but there are 5 jobs to be done blah blah blah.  My response is that I don’t care that there are 5 jobs just me in a time slot that is before noon.  I remind him that I have a text confirming that appointment.  He tells me that we don’t know how long the appointments will take to which I say that’s not true since every appointment was made for a specific task.  Finally after about 10 minutes, I ask him to connect me to a supervisor because I don’t need to yell at him and I realize there’s nothing he can do. OK he’ll get a supervisor.  At this point I hand the phone to Peter because if you can catch more bees with honey rather than vinegar it’s time to give the phone to Peter since I’m really worked up.

Twenty minutes later, Peter is trying his best to convince the supervisor who is handing him the standard party line which we are not buying.  I motion to Peter NOT to give in because at this point, it’s like a game as to who will say “uncle” first.  We’re holding firm!  Finally Verizon says he’ll call one of the service men and see if he re-route him. 

Now it’s time for breakfast al fresco!  We eat and wait.

Yay he’s here!  He actually showed up at 10 minutes to 11am.  He said he had been instructed to come to us after he completed the job he had been on.  In less than 10 minutes he replaced the battery pack and we were back in business.  Before he left we checked all three components of service and all are working. 

The moral of the story is if you make enough noise, if you hold firm, you will be a loud wall BUT you just might get what you need!  So now that I have computer access, I’ve been typing for about an hour relating this tale of electronic deprivation and now maybe I’ll be able to finish my ice cream week.  And for the record I had the best dish of sea salt caramel vanilla ice cream tonight!!!

I’m here, I’m back and I have a story to tell you about what happened as to why Ice Cream week melted off the web. BUT that will have to be later tonight.  We are off the to beach for the day, then a concert to hear Neil Sedaka BUT I will be posting to catch up.




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