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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Brain Freeze Nitrogen Ice Cream & Yogurt Lab

     The word is spreading. Nitrogen ice cream is here to stay, I hope. Our monthly pilgrimage to ChillN is always worth every mile traveled, but the thought of having this delectable treat in my neighborhood is titillating.
     Brain Freeze does ice cream with whimsy. No detail has been overlooked in making the place into a fun science lab. The main wall is splashed with formulas, a behemoth of a nitrogen tank stands guard in the far corner against wallpaper patterned into a gigantic Einstein head. Shelves are bedecked with beakers, lab flasks and syringes full of colorful ice cream toppings. My greatest delights were the 'scientists' behind the counter with their crisp white lab coats.
     The flavor offerings include all the usual suspects plus some combination specials and seasonal options. I was too late to sample the eggnog or the gingerbread so I opted for Nutella yogurt with brownie bites, and John chose a mix of almond butter and chocolate ice cream. Their 'bites' are more like bits, and the ice cream is not as dense as at ChillN, but the flavors were distinctive.
     I will say this, though. We went back for a second visit before this posting, and we found the texture much improved. Things can be better the second time around. You have to give a new establishment time to work out the kinks. John tried Nutella with brownies this time, and I had their Nutella frozen yogurt, crushed pistachios and a syringe of chocolate fudge. I feared my next syringe would have to be full of insulin, but it was totally worth it.
     My science grades would've been much higher if I'd been allowed to experiment with these chemicals and substances back in my school days.

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Friday, January 8, 2016


     Another year has come to an end, and we are grateful for blessings bestowed. Our Christmas Day brunch is always a highlight of the season, but since our regular venue, La Gloutonnerie, closed its doors, we have been in search of a new place to call home.
     Brazaviva is a Brazilian steakhouse in the style of Fogo De Chao and Texas de Brazil. A parade of meats descends upon your table, and your side dishes are spread in a huge self-serve bar. These can range from all varieties of cold and hot salads, rice dishes, pasta dishes, cheeses, vegetables and fruits. But not at Brazaviva. Here the bar is but a small fraction of what you find at either Fogo or Texas. That wouldn't be a problem if the selections were of equal quality. There's a lot to be said for quality over quantity, but this bar is poor, uninspired and sorely lacking in flavor.
    The fried cinnamon bananas and the small yucca puffs offered as table snacks are amusing, but the 'festival of blandness' theme continued throughout the rest of the meal. The meats were cooked well, but a little Kosher salt would've gone a long way in bringing out their natural flavor. Even dessert, with its promising array of choices, turned out to be underwhelming.
Photo by Andrea G.
     The display was attractive and enticed with two kinds of cheesecake, flan, chocolate cake, Tiramisu, and mousses of guava, chocolate and papaya. We ordered the chocolate cake and the flan cheesecake. The best thing I can say is that the chocolate cake tasted like chocolate. Predictably, no discernible flavor could be detected from our other choice.
     The restaurant is comfortable and sleek. Dark wood contrasts with white table linens. Two elegant bars anchor the main seating sections. A long private room and a wall of wine bottles are enclosed in glass. If the food wasn't such a disappointment, this is the kind of place where I could linger and lounge. But alas, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
     I am nothing if not persevering. I won't rest until I find a new home for my Christmas Day celebration.

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