Carnival Classics: 11 Indulgences Inspired by the Midway

Riding the Ferris wheel, shooting baskets for oversized stuffed animals and looking at a wiggly wobbly reflection of yourself in the fun house mirror is only part of the simple pleasures to be found at a carnival. The other part comes courtesy of the heart-clogging, high-sugar foods you’ll find for sale on the midway. This is not cutting-edge cuisine – most of it is quickly cooked in a deep fryer – nor does it pretend to be. It’s just really good food, even if it doesn’t happen to be good for you. Chefs are having fun with these lowbrow, high-calorie treats via refined riffs on carnival classics. Here are 11 indulgences inspired by the midway.

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, New York, New York
Perhaps no treat is associated with the midway more than cotton candy. Every table at Landmarc gets a free order of the airy spun sugar confection, which comes in a revolving array of poppy colors. For once, it’s acceptable to lick your fingers in between bites.

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Provision No. 14, Washington D.C.
Usually, funnel cake arrives on a grease-dotted paper plate with nothing more than a deluge of powdered sugar. Here it is served as an accompaniment to a whole fried chicken with maple-infused gravy on the brunch menu. Any day that begins with funnel cake is bound to be a good day in our book.

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Fleur by Hubert Keller, Las Vegas, Nevada
There are the unnaturally pink hot dogs of unknown provenance cooked in dirty water at the carnival, and then there’s the one Hubert Keller makes. Forged out of Wagyu beef, it arrives in a pretzel bun with sauerkraut and a zigzag of mustard. Warning: It may spoil all other hot dogs for you, so proceed with caution.

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Anthem Kitchen & Bar, Boston, Massachusetts
Deep-frying is an art and a sport for carnival culinarians. The unhealthier the item you’re dropping in the hot oil, the better. This deep-fried Twinkie is a perfect example. Don’t worry; it comes topped with fresh berries, so you can rationalize that it’s actually good for you.

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Tico, Washington, D.C.
Chef Michael Schlow takes pillows of Manchego cheese and crusts them with thyme-accented panko to create a Latin-ish play on mozzarella sticks. The savory squares arrive with a sweet ‘n’ tangy pomegranate honey sauce for dipping. We recommend getting two orders because just one won’t do.

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Alder, New York, New York
Corndogs are a favorite at the fair. But, of course, Wylie Dufresne wasn’t going to put an ordinary version on his menu. The sausages are made with pork shoulder, chicken liver, poblano, and parsley, speared on sticks, dipped in batter, fried, and served with Meyer lemon mustard and poblano relish.

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Family Meal, Ashburn, Virginia
The joy of the jalapeño popper is biting through the crackly crust and the softened skin of the pepper to reveal the melted cheese core. Chef-owner Bryan Voltaggio has recreated that experience while putting a Southern accent on the flavors by using smoked peppadew peppers and piquant pimento cheese. Y’all will love ‘em.

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Sage, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Pink Cashmere was born when mixologist Craig Schoettler was trying to come up with a fun twist on the Cosmo. He starts by putting a puff of pink cotton candy in a Nick & Nora glass, then pours over it a mixture of Grey Goose Cherry Noir, lime juice, white cranberry juice, and simple syrup. Don’t forget to extend your pinky while sipping it.

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Rosa Mexicana, Oxon Hill, Maryland
This is a heart stopper — though perhaps corazón stopper would be more appropriate. Cinnamon-dusted buñuelos (flour tortillas) are ground up and used as a crusting for deep-fried vanilla-chocolate mole swirl ice cream, which is complemented with guajillo-raspberry sauce and whipped cream. The dessert is finished off with freshly fried churros, a staple of state fairs everywhere.Continue Reading

Nine Boozy Milkshakes to Blow Your Mind (and Freeze Your Brain)

Staying breezy and buzzy in the summertime can be difficult. Luckily, someone had the frankly brilliant idea of combining ice cream and booze to create milkshakes and floats for the over-21 set. Whoever thought of that should be given a Nobel. Or at the very least a James Beard Award. Now you can cool down as you drink up these sweet, spirituous swigs. Without further ado, here are nine boozy milkshakes that are guaranteed to blow your mind and freeze your brain.

Ted’s Bulletin – 14th Street, Washington, D.C.
Choose from one of the classic combos – such as Irish Caramel (vanilla ice cream, freshly brewed coffee and Irish Cream) or grasshopper (vanilla ice cream, Kahlúa, and crème de menthe) – or mix and match your favorite flavors. We’re partial to a PB&J&JB (peanut butter and jelly and Jim Beam), though the Millionaire Malt made with 18-year-old Glenlivet is a worthy indulgence.

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Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar, Atlanta, Georgia
You might think you hear a banjo playing if you order this spiked sipper. A few orbs of vanilla moonshine ice cream are dropped into a mason jar mug full of frosty Coke. Consider it deliverance from the usual boring old floats.

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STK Midtown, New York, New York
We believe that doughnuts make everything better. Case in point is this milkshake forged out of cinnamon liqueur and dulce de leche ice cream, which comes with a petite pail brimming with cinnamon sugar-dusted churro bites.

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Heavy Seas Alehouse, Arlington, Virginia
Beer is awesome. So is ice cream. Therefore, a beer float is totally awesome. There are five options, but our favorite is the Peg Leg float featuring the alehouse’s own imperial stout, a couple of generous scoops of vanilla ice cream, and a splash of Coke to add a little sweetness. [Photo by Laura Hayes]

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CUT by Wolfgang Puck at The Beverly Wilshire, Los Angeles, California
Studies have shown that regularly eating dark chocolate can lower the risk of heart disease. But what if you consume that dark chocolate in the form of a milkshake amped up with Buffalo Trace bourbon and coronated with plenty of sweet cream? Who cares? We’re drinking it anyway.

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Not Just for Kids: 15 Ice Cream Sundaes You Won’t Want to Share

The last day of school is fast approaching, and even though we’ve already graduated, we can’t help but crave an ice cream sundae at this time of year. Rather than stealing a spoonful of sweetness from the well-deserving students in our lives, we’re looking forward to ordering cool, adult-friendly desserts from restaurants across the U.S. Here are 15 ice cream sundaes you won’t want to share — including a $1,000 splurge of a sundae.

Cracker Jack Sundae, at American Cut, New York, New York
You can’t strike out with this treat. Dreamed up by pastry chef Tara Glick, this sundae will take you out to the ballgame with crunchy Cracker Jacks and popcorn ice cream.

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Secret Sundae, Amis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shhhh! Served by special request only, the secret sundaes at Amis include strawberry rhubarb granita with vanilla semifreddo from founder and chef Marc Vetri.

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Sabrina Sundae, Barton G.: The Restaurant, Miami, Florida
The sparkling sundae is served in a giant martini glass filled with housemade ice creams and outrageous toppings. You won’t have a choice but to share, as it is built to serve four-six guest with fudge brownies, scoops of Valrhona chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla spice ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, and chantilly, and is topped with shaved chocolate shards, chocolate cigarettes, dark chocolate “B’s”, and maraschino cherries.

Barton G Sabrina

Pistachio and Vanilla Ice Cream Sundae, CBD Provisions, Dallas, Texas
Pastry chef Ruben Torano is featuring fabulous sundaes on the menu all summer long in the Texas heat. The sundaes highlight local ingredients and Texas flavors, while all ice cream, gelatos, and garnishes are made in house. Don’t miss the pistachio and vanilla ice cream sundae with apricot rum syrup, toasted huckleberry cake, candied lemon, and meringue.

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Cinnamon & Pecan Bun Sundae, The Clam, New York, New York
Chef Mike Price has created a menu of classic American desserts at The Clam, such as this cinnamon and pecan bun sundae topped with housemade bourbon pecan gelato with warm chunks of cinnamon and pecan bun, and a drizzle of caramel, and finished with a dollop of whipped cream.

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Corsair Ice Cream Sundae, Corsair, Miami
Scott Conant’s new Miami eatery offers an outrageous dessert. Created by pastry chef Michael Brock (who took this picture), it has smoked vanilla bean ice cream, blondie bites, ginger chantilly, salted caramel sauce, crystallized ginger, chocolate cookie crumbs and toasted marshmallow.

Corsair Sundae

Create-Your-Own Sundae, The Gander, New York, New York
At The Gander, chef Jesse Schenker launched its brand new sundae cart, which features a mobile ice cream station filled with housemade flavors, such as Tahitian vanilla bean and Valrhona 72% dark chocolate, with toppings including candied walnuts, rum-soaked raisins, fresh macerated berries, rhubarb jam, salted caramel sauce, and more. Bonus: Custom ice cream sandwiches are also built tableside.

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The Victoria, Parlour at The Langham, Chicago, Illinois
The sundae to end all sundaes, the Victoria features typical ingredients, as well as over-the-top items such as 24kt Gold Leaf, 24kt Gold Dust, and Hennessy VSOP. It is served in a Wedgewood crystal bowl (Yours to keep!) with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon — all for only $1,000!Continue Reading

OpenTable Restaurant Reviews Reveal Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America; Plus Exclusive Dessert Slideshow

As diners make reservations for romance on Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to honor the 2014 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for approximately 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Featuring restaurants with alluring ambience and seductive menus, the complete list of honorees is scattered among 32 states and includes Canlis in Seattle, The Little Door in Los Angeles, and Zenkichi in Brooklyn. California boasts the greatest number of winning restaurants with 14, followed by Florida with eight. Hawaii, Texas, and Virginia each have seven winning restaurants. Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio claim five winners apiece, while Arizona, Illinois, New York, and Utah have four. Missouri, New Jersey, and Tennessee count three winning restaurants, and Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington have two each. Alaska, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, and Rhode Island also have winning eateries.

For another year, fondue is a favorite for diners seeking to fan the flames of romance. And, illustrating that home really is where the heart is, American fare restaurants account for the greatest number of winners. French and Italian cuisines are very popular as well. And, because almost everyone loves to share a sweet with their sweetheart, we have an exclusive slideshow of swoon-worthy desserts from our winning restaurants.

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