The Proof is in the (Rice) Pudding

Have you ever thought, “Wow, I really wish there was a place that served good rice pudding”? You probably haven’t. I hadn’t either. That is, until I stumbled upon Rich to Riches.

A day of Soho exploring, topped off with a burger at Soho Park and a quick pit stop at Helen Ficalora, led me straight to NoLita and directly into Rice to Riches. Not sure if it’s just that Fall has arrived or I’m plain old overindulging (or both), but comfort food has been high on my list this week – and rice pudding hits the spot. It’s hard to deny the creamy goodness of rice pudding made just right. And Rice to Riches is spot on.

With 21 nontraditional flavors like Forbidden Apple, Man-Made Marscapone w/Cherries, Honey Graham for Mr. Smith, let's face it: the fun names alone make these flavors worth trying. Oh, and if those don't sound decadent enough, you can also pick from about 10 toppings like jam, buttery graham crackers, whipped cream, buttery pound cake...sold yet?

Smitten with the bright lights, funny signs (something about "you're going to die anyway, so why diet?" seems right to me...), and beer helmet filled with rice pudding, I happily stood in a longer-than-average line at the glass case, which I would have thought was an ice cream case, if I didn't know better. Though I'm a traditionalist, I was able to sample some fun flavors, like Forbidden Apple before committing to a Diva-sized (and prepackaged) Cheesecake Rice Pudding, and a takeaway Epic-sized half Old-Fashioned Romance, half The Milk Chocolate Only Rings Twice for a party that evening. Fun packaging and scooping spoons topped off the presentation. While it's maybe not completely eco-friendly, I do intend to reuse my plastic container. Though not exactly inexpensive ($5 for a Solo size, $7 for Epic, $20 for Sumo, & $40 for Moby), it sure beats some other specialty shops in both flavor and portion (e.g. Cold Stone Creamery, a supposed - gourmet - yet - entirely - overpriced - and - overhyped ice cream shop).

The pudding itself was thick, creamy, and sweet - all the components necessary for properly wonderful rice pudding. The thing about rice pudding is that it is very easy to get it wrong in so many ways...but Rice to Riches only gets it right. Sweet, but not too sweet. Thick, but not flan-like. Ricey, but not too ricey. It was the perfect rice to pudding to sweetness ratio. And I can't wait to go back.

Beware: Pudding portions are huge. I started out with a false sense of stomach emptiness, but the RP snuck up on me in an instant making my stomach feel full and needing a post-pudding walk.

Bonus: Rice to Riches is located just across the street from famed Lombardi’s Pizza. Make Rice your dessert destination following lunch at America’s First Pizzeria.

Baked by Melissa Serves Up The Perfect Cupcake For a Sampler

Oreo, peanut butter, marshmallow, mint chocolate, raspberry, devil's food...I don't think it's any secret that one of my favorite New York treats is...drumroll, please...cupcakes. Though I have my favorites, I am constantly in turmoil over flavors. After all, despite constantly being mentioned in my articles and contrary to popular belief, I do not often allow myself to indulge. Since I tend to be a traditionalist (and an earth), I also tend to stick to basic flavors and very rarely veer away from this - despite my desire to taste test. As you may or may not have noticed, I am a sampler. Rarely do I like to commit to a full meal or, in this case a full cupcake flavor, because then I only get to taste just that one. All too often, I'll stick with my usual - chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream (and sprinkles, if available) - but then I don't get to try the many other delectable flavors..making sense?

Luckily, I'm not the only one with this problem. This weekend, I met my sister for some Soho shopping and stumbled upon Baked by Melissa on the corner of Broadway & Spring and suddenly my world of cupcake tasting was turned upside down. What's so special about another bakery selling fresh cupcakes? Well apparently Melissa is a gal after my own heart. After suffering from seemingly the same predicament, she started Baked by Melissa, a teeny window/counter in Soho that sells quarter-sized stuffed cupcakes. With flavors like Peanut Butter & Jelly, S'mores, Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Red Velvet, and Tie Dye (didn't get to this one this time, but it's on my short list for the next trip), each mini cupcake is $1. And the best part? I was somehow able to rationalize this as being guilt-free since they are so teeny. The basic order is 3 for $3 and I ordered the S'mores, PB&J, and Oreo Cookie.

Clockwise from bottom left: S'mores, Oreo Cookie, Peanut Butter & Jelly

Each cupcake was fabulous in it's own right and completely encompassed the essence of said flavor, even in its smallest form. The S'mores featured a chocolate cake with marshmallow filling and topped with a small yet buttery graham cracker. If I sat in front of a campfire with a marshmallow on a stick, it couldn't taste more S'more-like. The Oreo Cookie was chocolate cake stuffed with vanilla cream and topped with a piece of Oreo. I have to say, this had potential to go seriously wrong, but it tasted just like a real Oreo cookie, right down to the super sweet & sugary icing. I saved my projected favorite for last - the Peanut Butter & Jelly. And I must say - it did not disappoint. Yellow cake stuffed with jam and topped with peanut butter frosting...the flavor combination doesn't really get better than this. And if you've found one, please tell me at your earliest convenience.

Bottom Line: For a fab sampling of sweets on the go that won't break your bank or your calorie count, be sure to check out Baked by Melissa's.