The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday Brunch

Les Halles (Downtown location, John between Broadway and Nassau, NYC) with my mother, Mary. This may be my favorite frenchie brasserie place in the City, with Lucky Strike (Grand between West Broadway and Wooster, Soho) coming in a close second. I also prefer this location to it's Park Avenue (at 28th) sister. Despite finding Anthony Bourdain's behavior to be a bit priggish and vulgar, I have to say, I think the brasserie empire he has built is beyond repute in terms of deliciousness and accessibility (monetarily speaking).

I opted for the prix fixe brunch, which included a choice of appetizer and entree. I started with the Petatou de chevre, which is a warm potato and black olive salad with goat cheese gratine. The goat cheese had a wonderful taste and consistency, however I thought the balsamic reduction the salad was served with overpowered the overall flavor of the dish. Being the creature of habit that I am, I ordered the Salade Nicoise as my main. I think it goes without saying that I loved it. The haricots verts were especially crunchy and delicious.

To drink I had a crisp and refreshing Riojan rose. In general, I am a big fan of wine from the Rioja region of Spain. Several years ago, one of my frenchie friends turned me on to Marques de Riscal. He told me that it was often King Juan Carlos' wine of choice with lunch. This is a great wine if you are looking for a nice red to bring to a dinner party, but don't want to break the bank. You can pick up a bottle ranging from $13-$19, depending on where you go. For white I am not a big fan of Marques de Riscal and opt for Marques de Caceres instead. A bottle of this will run you about $6-$10. I don't recommend going vicey versy on the aforementioned, unless you are purchasing a special reserve of the Marques de Caceres red, but even then, I really don't suggest it.

As an aside, I clearly have a propensity for eating food that requires the use of accents, cedilles and umlauts. Does anyone know how to type these on Blogger?



Sunday, July 30, 2006

Everything I Ate From Tuesday Until Now

Lordy begordy, Youthlarge has been posting up a storm in Korea! I've definitely been eating this past week, but just haven't been so into talking about it. Possibly because I ate french fries EVERYDAY last week. My eating habits, like my personality, are fairly manic, so I'll have a great eating week like I did two weeks ago, and then jump off the deep end the next. It's really a shame, my eating week started off so promisingly, what with the salad nicoise and all. Hmmm.


Lunch - Salad made of Boston lettuce and some spicy beef and chicken skewers I got from a guy down the street on Forsythe. Chinatown street food is truly amazing and delicious. This guy is always impeccably dressed, has a really nice wood chip grill type thingy on which he cooks skewers of beef, chicken and lamb, as well as sweet potatoes and corn. The charge for any one of the aforementioned items is a mere DOLLAR. How does he do it? I won't even get out of bed for less than a hundred.

Dinner - After sweating like a crazy manimal at boxing class, my friend Jim and I stopped at Bleecker Bar for three beers and then continued on to Bonnie's in Park Slope, where I ate a cheddar cheese burger with Canadian bacon and fries. While my burger was delicious, it gave me a horrible acid reflux attack which caused me to wake up around 4:30a the next morning. Fortunately, Independence Day was on. And yes, it IS just as good the 233rd time around. The chipotle mayo was divine. Jim had Buffalo wings. Seeing the delicious little wings crisping up in the deep fryer was too much for me to handle. It completely altered the course of my eating week - bad.


Breakfast/Lunch - Egg white omelette with turkey and swiss, homefries, no toast with a black iced coffee. I eat this exact meal all the time.

Dinner - Lobster night at Essex (Rivington and Essex, LES) with Adrienne. I ate a 1 1/4 pound lobster with corn on the cob and some yummy roasted potatoes sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. After dinner I received a really disturbing phone call regarding an affair with a married man that I never had, which caused me to want to eat my feelings, so I ended up eating 8 McNuggs and a large fry. GROSS.


Lunch - Some Chicken Marsala, one meatball and a Limonata from an Italian grocery/deli I like on the corner of Grand and Mulberry. I've never paid any attention to what it's actually called though.

Snack - Calamari and a black iced coffee at Spring Street Natural (Lafayette and Spring, SoHo) with Abbey. I wasn't particularly hungry at the time, so I'm not sure why I ate the WHOLE thing. Ick.

Dinner - Split 20 Buffalo wings and gravy fries from Atomic Wings with Mike W. Things are getting really gross.


Breakfast/Lunch - No recollection, though I'm sure I ate SOMEthing.

Dinner - Lil' Frankie's (1st and 1st, East Ville) with Tara. I was torn between the Lil' Frankie's Salad with house cured tuna and the seared salmon served with arugula and fennel. I opted for the latter and was pleased with my choice. We also shared a nice bottle of rose, which I'm really into right now for some reason. Probably the heat. Oh, while I was eating I got to hear Superchunk's 'Detroit Has a Skyline', which was a pleasant surprise. I've actually been listening to Here's Where the Strings Come In a lot lately, so I thought it was a weird coincidence.


Lunch - Croxley Ales (B between 2nd and 3rd, East Ville) with Papper. Croxley Ales is a pretty silly place, but we needed to eat and watch the Yankee game (they got spanked 19-6). We shared 20 hot Buffalo wings (at 20 cents a wing, they were an absolute steal!) and some tasty mussels and fries. The mussels came in a nice sauce made of Blue Moon Belgian White beer, garlic and BACON.

Dinner - The Sunburnt Cow (C between 8th and 9th, Loisaida) with Papper, Big Girls, Big Girls' girlfriend Melissa, who is not in fact a big girl, two of Big Girls' friends, Chris Cram, Michelle, Newell, Ilan and Adrienne. Later in the evening we were joined by Donovan, Dutch Robert and the BROTHERS SULLIVAN! Anyway, Pappy and I shared some calamari and then I ate the Roo (that's right - kangaroo!) Bangers and Mash. I've had this before there. Roo is very tender and flavorful, not at all gamey as one might imagine.

That's it for now. Haven't eaten yet today.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Asia Report #3 - Famous Suwon Kalbi, "Knife Noodles," Everybody Ramen

Before we hit the World Cup Stadium in Suwon (nicknamed Big Bird for its design) for a Blue Wings game, Dan and I were treated to some World Famous Suwon kalbi. Of course I forgot to grab a business card so I could tell you the name of the restaurant. I kept forgetting to do that a lot on this trip. Anyway, Suwon is known for its kalbi preperations and the kalbi here was indeed super tasty, but we've had just as good or if not better in New York. We're so spoiled living in a city like New York, where with the exception of maybe cheap Mexican, you can get excellent versions of so many ethnic foods. What made the meal for me with the unbelievable number of small dishes (banchan) that accompanied the beef. There must have been about 20 small dishes including super tasty mini pancakes that I think were made with some sort of yellow bean and maybe some glutinous rice? It had a bit of a spongey texture to it. There was also a few different types of kimchi (your standard cabbage to a variation on water kimchi (mul kimchi), which is not spicy at all. Additionally, we were offered small plates of various marinated vegetables, a scoop of tangy mashed potatoes, and mook, which I had blogged about earlier on the trip. The piece de resistance was the bowl of piping hot bean paste stew (denjang jigae) - which you never get for free in an American Korean restaurant. There were huge chunks of tofu and zuchinni, as well as clusters of enoki mushrooms floating around the slightly spicy, densely colored broth.

I found it really interesting that in Korea, you often share drinks. So when we all ordered some Pepsi, we were brought one bottle and three glasses. This is so much better than drinking all those oversized portions in the states. Also, the waitress kept insisting that Dan make a ssam with his kalbi. Ssam is like a Korean version of a wrap. In this instance, a piece of lettuce acts as the wrapper, with rice, kalbi, roasted garlic chips and hot bean paste making up the contents.

Oh, let me add that this was a soot bul kalbi joint - no gas grill here. All charcoal!

Wow, in retrospect we had a very long day in Suwon. Before the kalbi lunch, we took a city tour, which included stops at various points of the HwaSeong fortress, Royal Palaces, a drive by of the World Cup Stadium and a military training facility, and a KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) set that included recreations of Korean villages at different points in history. Pretty silly! After lunch, we were going to head off to a Korean Folk Village, but I had enough sightseeing for the day, so we rested a bit before dinner and the game. The room I rested in was the same room that 8 years prior, I was the victim of a relentless mosquito gang.

I had been promised a dinner at a kal guksu (which translates to knife noodles) house the moment we arrived in Suwon. The whole world knows I love my noodles. Unfortunately for Dan, this restaurant only had floor seating so he had to make due despite his pretzel rod flexibility. At the table were a couple of gas grills which the waiter filled with broth. Once it started boiling, we added various seafood (including mini-clams, mussels, abalone, and this one thing I was told would squirt out when bitten into. I do not like foods that squirt so I kept away) and vegetables. After letting that cook for a while, the handmade noodles were added. The starch in the noodles helps to thicken up the broth. The noodles are referred to as kal guksu because that's how they're prepared. You roll out your pasta dough and fold it over a couple of times and then use a knife to cut the thin strands. My mom makes a mean version of this dish.

Listmaker does a great job of going through the game for you - from the accident we witnessed prior to getting to our seats to the mad dash for the hot water coolers at half time to cook the instant ramen. The ramen scene was amazing! There was a trio of water dispensers every few gates or so and people, mostly kids and young adults were lined up 5 deep!. We were told that some people bring their ramen, but the stadium also offered them at concession stands too. The cost? About a dollar, I think. Beats a $5 hot dog most of the time!

p.s. Dan has become even more maniacal about baseball on this trip. He is crazy.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Asia Report #2 Photographic Evidence; Makin' It Great Wherever You Are!

Listmaker and I found ourselves in the town of Gyeong Ju, considered one of the ten greatest ancient cities or something like that according to the tour guides. It's about 4 hours south of Seoul on the eastern shore, and dotted with tons of historical treasures like a grotto and the Bulgoksa Temple. We were starving after the train ride, but there weren't too many options in the area since we were kind of cut off from the rest of the town as we were in a resort area by this lake. We decided to eat at the hotel and found a Korean restaurant that was jam-packed with only women, I am now realizing. Every regular table was taken up so they seated us at these elevated tables where you had to sit on the floor. Listmaker was not happy since he has the flexibility of a pretzel rod. They told us it would be at least 30 minutes before a table cleared up so this was our only option. Only not 3 minutes after sitting down, before we even ordered, a group of women got up and left. Then another group. In the next 5 minutes, there was a complete exodus and the entire restaurant cleared out. We got a table. Dan got some stone bowl bibimbop and I got neng myun, which is a cold buckwheat noodle dish that is very popular in the summer with Koreans. In fact, there was an article in the New York Times Dining section the other week that you should Google.

I thought our waitress was a robot. She was all too chipper. My inkling was compounded the next day when she was also the cashier at the in-hotel bakery stand where I bought some red bean buns. Maybe there was more than one of her?

Anyway, I tell this story to set up what we ate next. That evening, neither Dan nor I were in the mood for Korean. We each had a bottle of Hite beer at a coffee shop downtown before deciding on....PIZZA HUT! It may have been the best decision made that day. Don't get on my case for not trying local food. As I said, neither of us wanted Korean. We knew we would have plenty of Korean throughout the week.

Pizza Huts in Korea seem to be pushing the Cheese Bites pizza - I've also seen commercials for it in the states. As tempting as it looked, we thought the cheese filled dough rounds surrounding the pizza, which you then dip into a cheese sauce might be a little too much cheese.

We decided on a set menu that included a medium "Roast Beef" pizza, a pasta dish and two drinks. The roast beef pizza included bulgogi, assorted vegetables like mushrooms and onions and best of all, kimchi. I used to laugh at my parents when they'd pull out the kimchi to eat along with Dominoe's delivery or KFC take-out when I was younger. They were right - it does taste better with kimchi. For our pasta dish, we decided on a bulgogi and kimchi risotto. Again delicious. The spicy tang of kimchi was a perfect counterpart to the rich, cheesey rice. Also, our medium pizza was not much bigger than a personal pizza size you'd get in the states, which was perfectly fine with us.

Here's the green tea donut that Dan and I shared before boarding the train to Gyeong Ju. The counter person gave us two straws with our iced coffee (to which they added milk and liquid sugar). Incidentally, the last time I was in Asia - 8 years ago, I marveled at the fact that the coffee shops offered liquid sugar or simple syrup with their iced drinks. Eight years later and the US still hasn't figured it out.

This is the katsu that was the size of my face.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Today's Lunch

I don't want to go into it, but I finally got the energy to walk over to Dom's to get a Salad Nicoise. It was delicious and well worth the semi-schlep. I also picked up a 1.5 liter bottle of San Benedetto lemon iced tea. Really good stuff guys, really good stuff.


Last Night's Dinner and Snacky

Loreley (Rivington between Bowery and Christie, NYC) with Ted, Barb, Papper, Nate, Melanie and Alec. First things first - mazel tov to Alec and Melanie on their wonderful news! I don't know much, but I do know this: babies are cute. Usually.

After a sketchy dim sum experience, I was really looking forward to doing some serious eating at Loreley. I usually snack on their delicious fries (served with both ketchup and mayo) while I figure out what I want to eat for real. Figuring out what I want to eat for real usually means that I end up ordering the Jaeger Schnitzel, which is your standard Wiener Schnitzel, but served with a nice mushroom sauce. The Schnitzel is served with french fries, but I usually get Spaetzle as a substitution, as I have already eaten an ample portion of fries while sipping on one of Loreley's many enticing beer options. Last evening I was drinking half liters of Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse - one of my favorite things to drink in the Summer. You can also opt for having your beer served to you in a gigantic liter sized stein, but it's not less expensive to do so and you end up drinking warm beer. Unless of course you're super manly, in which case you probably drink your beer TWICE as fast as everyone else.

To eat I ordered the Schlachtplatte mit Kassler, Rippenspeck und Rauchwurst, which was basically just a huge plate of delicious meat. The meats included were a smoked pork chop, super fatty and delectable rib bacon and a smoked sausage. The aforementioned triumvirate of deliciousness was served on a bed of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. I asked for french fries instead of mashed potatoes, but ended up with mashies anyway. They were ok, but I REALLY wanted french fries as I did not order them to snack on while mulling over my entree selection. Next time. I didn't eat any of my sauerkraut because it agitates my acid reflux, but Ted, Alec and Papper all reported that it was rich and tasty. Ted, that old salty dog, ate all of my bacon fat too.

After dinner, we all piled into Alec and Melanie's new Jeep Liberty (It's funny, they traded in their sensible car for an SUV to accommodate the arrival of their new baby, but why would you want to bring a baby into a world full of SUV's? We asked Alec about what kind of gas mileage he got and he said about 4 miles to the gallon. Ha!) to drive to Hank's (Atlantic and 3rd, Brooklyn). Nate plays there every Sunday with Sean Kershaw and the New Jack Ramblers. They also have free barbecue there on Sunday nights. Despite the rather large plate of meat I consumed at Loreley, I still managed to scarf down a Mardi Gras sausage (andouille infused with cheddar cheese), courtesy of Soul! Sausage. It was nice and spicy and really hit the spot. Though, it was a little precarious to eat as the hot cheese would occasionally spurt out and burn us on our arms and faces. Ouch.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Asia Report #1: Green Tea Donuts and Pork Katsu

The CLC has doing all the work on this blog, so I wanted to chime in with a quick update from Seoul.

The Listmaker and I are about to board a 7:40 train to head to an area on the Eastern Coast of Korea called Gyeong Ju. Yesterday, we had a green tea donut from Dunkin' Donuts as a snack in the train station while picking up our tickets. That donut was for you Jim Flood! Dan didn't like it as much as I did, as it had an interesting texture to it that didn't appeal to him but did to me. It was called a Chew-isty and it sure was! The donut had a lot of elasticity so I wonder if they use rice flour or something more glutinous than cake flour. Picture to come soon.

For dinner we hit this cute little place on a narrow street in Myeong-Dong where our hotel is located. The name of the restaurant translated into: The Place That Does Donkatsu Really Well! I had the western style pork katsu and Dan, the curry pork katsu. The portions were huge - like the size of a first baseman's glove. Again, picture TK. To begin with we were both served a mystery soup of pale yellow. It was probably potato with something else. Our katsu plates were adorned with a junior scoop of Korean health rice, radish kimchi, macaroni salad and sweet pickled radish. I know, it sounds like a strange combo, but I really enjoyed it and it was a nice bargain at 6500W (about 7USD). There was also a side of shredded cabbage with a green mayo based dressing for both of us to share as well. For drinks, we both ordered beer, in this case a ginormous bottle of Cass, wich I could barely finish.

Then we stumbled back to the hotel to try and adapt to the time change. We both woke up around 4AM this morning!

Time for breakfast!

Lest I forget, for lunch we took a cab to my relatives' place in the Banpo neighborhood of Seoul, right across the Han River. There about 11 of us gathered for a wonderfuly family meal of make your own bibimbop. One of our hosts, my cousin Do-Won, shared a story about how a Frenchie friend of his said bibimbop was a terrible food because everything is mixed together and you can't enjoy each ingredient on its own. Frenchie, you have no idea what you're talking about! Pre-bibimbop, we shared plates of potato jun as well as a salad made with mook (which is this gelatinous food with not much flavor, but acts as a base for other tastes) lettuce, cucmbers, carrots and chiffonaded perilla leaves. Tasty!


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Last Night's Dinner: Take-out from Great Neck

Last night Newell stopped by around 9:30p for dinner. We considered our various C-Town eating options over a couple of glasses of Glenlivit Nadurra (16 year old single malt, non-chill filtered, very crisp and almost fruity), which somehow turned into two more drinks each. Suffice it to say, with the clock ticking and our unwavering resolve to continue the consumption of Scotch, our dining options were becoming rather limited. We finally admitted to ourselves that all we could really do at that point was get take-out from Great Neck (Great NY Noodletown, Bowery at Bayard, C-Town). Here's what we ordered:

Roast Duck and Flowering Chive Spring Rolls - Crispy and delicious, never disappoints.
Three Jewels (Roast Duck, Roast Pork, Soy Sauce Chicken) - First time getting this take-out vs. eat-in. I'm against it and won't make the same mistake twice. Not nearly as much duck as when you sit and get table service. Yummy garlicky scallion sauce still made me lose my mind though.
Beef Chow Fun w/ Chinese Vegetables - Not so psyched on this dish either for take-out. Now, I've had take-out Beef Chow Fun sans vegetables countless times from Great Neck and have been pleased every time. I'm wondering if it was the VEGETABLES that compromised the integrity of the dish? I knew there was a reason for my unadulterated love of meat and strong aversion to vegetables! Anyway, inexplicably, Great Neck separated our Chow Fun into two containers, one with noodles only, the other with the beef, Chinese vegetables (jerks) and sauce. This was no good for me because I wanted the noodles to be tossed around in a pan with the other components of the dish. Especially the SAUCE. Great Neck frequently does this with their takeaway noodle soups as well, but that's ok because there's no sauteeing going on there.

While we were finishing up dinner, Donovan stopped by with a six pack, fresh off the F train from some place in Brooklyn called Bar BQ (6th Avenue and 20th Street). It sounded seriously delicious and I was getting super jealous just hearing about it. I plan to visit there soon. Mike W. (aka Robo) and Sean Murphy came by Chinatown: the Apartment as well. Suffice it to say, we killed the bottle of Glenlivit, the beer and made a dent in some Bushmills, courtesy of Newell. My two drinks a day plan is really not working at all. Not even a little.


Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm in Love

This email was just forwarded to me. It is a love letter to Redbones, a BBQ place in Somerville, MA. I have never met the author of this email, but I will make it my life's work to meet and marry him. Or at the very least, get him to be a guest contributor to the PSG and CLC. Nah, I want the rock.

Dear Redbones,

I live in NYC but I have many friends and family in the Beantown area, so I visit frequently. During those frequent visits I almost ALWAYS stop by Redbones. Usually I do lunch there on the day of my departure, but this time around...IT'S DINNER TIME. I am making a trip into Boston on Friday, and I thought you should know, that today I am totally distracted at work today because I CAN’T stop thinking about your DELICIOUS variety of home style BBQ. I am literally salivating, and counting the seconds until Friday night, so much so that my office mate, just called me a FILTHY ANIMAL.

The beauty about this trip is that, since I'm coming for dinner, I get the WHOLE menu. Of course, this blessing is not without it's downside, i.e. I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL BE ABLE TO DECIDE WHAT TO HAVE. CATFISH FINGERS are a must as an app, but the BBQ HASH is good for what ails you. I HAVE to have at least one HUSH PUPPY, but I don't think I've ever tried the CORN FRITTERS. One of my buddies, is crying about the BUFFY SHRIMP, because he thinks they're too expensive. Between you and me I think he's a damn fool. I don't think $5.95 is too much to ask for seven pieces of THE BEST BUFFY SHRIMP I'VE EVER BEEN INVOLVED WITH. Plus, I used to work at a restaurant, so I understand FOOD COST, and I know that high quality treats from the SEA like those little demons can get a little steep from time to time.

What I'm trying to get at is that you can already see the chaos that may break out over my decision on appetizers. And that's just me. There will most likely be about 6 people in my party, and they ALL have a sickness that only REDBONES can cure. Looking at your menu on REDBONES.COM (site that I have bookmarked, by the way) I don't see any sort of COMBO platter. Do you not have one, or am I just blinded by the visions of RIBBIES, AND PULLED PORK DANCING IN MY BRAIN??

Seriously... I'm having visions. About ten minutes ago I saw one of your ARKANSAS RIBS. It wasn't just any RIB. It had on one of those ABE LINCOLN style top hats, carrying a cane, and wearing the BARBECUE BELT, all while waltzing a very attractive REDBONES T-BONE, in a wedding dress at a grand ceremony where the best man was a GRILLED SAUSAGE, and the bridesmaids were CHICKEN WINGS. I thought they were the perfect couple, and I wished them well, but then considered eating them. It was then that I realized that one of my co-workers was staring at me.

Obviously after a sight like that my decision on an entree might be more difficult than the tumultuous time I will have had over your APP selection. Whoever wrote up your menu must have stones the size of WOOD GRILLED CHICKENS for putting THAT many BBQ combos on the same piece of paper. But I LOVE him/her for it at the same time. I think the last time I was there I had the CATFISH DINNER. Although it was DELICIOUS, I believe that I would be doing myself disservice if I were to order the same thing twice in a row, when there are SO MANY other options, each one potentially more SCRUMPTIOUS than the last.

I might get your SURF AND TURF because it comes on a BED OF ONION STRINGS. Sometimes I wish I SLEPT on a bed of ONION STRINGS. I also might consider something pertaining to the SAUSAGE OF THE DAY, whether it be a SANDWICH, or a DINNER. I just think the concept of a SAUSAGE OF THE DAY is REALLY COOL. Or maybe I'll get the GRILLED VEGGIE BURGER.... just kidding.

Having said all that, REDBONES, I just wanted you to know that despite the long road I have ahead of me (the most difficult stretch, of which, will surely take place during the ordering process), I look forward to seeing you and as usual I will treasure the time we have together. And I know I speak for the rest of the party when I say THANKS IN ADVANCE, AND YOU BETTER BE READY. See you Friday night.


Michael G.

PS. Please consider opening a franchise in New York.
PPS. And oh yeah... I LOVE YOU.

Today's Lunch

First of all, safe trip to my partner in deliciousness and her lovely husband.

Per usual, I had a really hard time deciding what to eat for lunch. In the absence of a better idea, I called my local diner and informed them that I would be picking up an omelette with spinach and bacon and a black iced coffee. En route to the diner, I stopped by the post office to mail back a Netflick (Alias: Season 3: Disc 2). During the course of the 3 minute walk from the post office to the diner, I got caught in an absolute downpour sans umbrella. Teddy, the proprietor of my local diner, asked if I would rather eat my omelette there since it was still pouring out. But, I figured since I was already soaked to the skin that I might as well just make a dash for it and eat in the comfort of my own home. The downside was that I ended up getting even MORE soaked, but the upside was that I got to change into dry clothes when I got home, instead of shivering in the overly air conditioned diner as I ate my lunch.

To be honest, I really love getting caught in the rain. It's really cleansing and liberating to just not care about the fact that you are absolutely soaking wet. Just now was the second time it happened to me this week. The first was at Tuesday's Yankee / Mariners game, where I ate my requisite chicken fingers and french fries. I also had two huge sodas, which subsequently gave me a bellyache. The thunderstorm and garbage flying around on the field in the bottom of the 9th was such a great manic release for everyone after such a stiflingly hot day. Made me think of Dinkins era NYC.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Last Night's Dinner - 100th Post!

Cafecito (Avenue C between 11th and 12th, NYC) with Papper, Adrienne and Donovan.

Papper, always a bastion of enthusiasm, invited some people over to his place last evening for some post work lychee martinis, followed by dinner at Cafecito. I don't actually work, but if someone's having post work drinks, I'm there regardless. Though, the tricky thing is that I'm trying to limit myself to two drinks a day right now, because once I hit that third drink, I find that I just want to drink my face off. I'm sorry to report that I exceeded my self-imposed drink limit by four drinks, bringing last evening's drink total to six. The good news is that I did in fact wake up with my face on this morning, which I am very glad for.

So anyway, Cafecito is one of Papper's favorite restaurants in the City. I went there on his birthday, but just for drinks, so had never sampled the food there myself. I have to say, it was not only delicious, but a great value as well. They couldn't seat us immediately, so Paps, Adrienne and I just hung out at the sidewalk bar on Ave. C (it really looked more like a snack bar window, but bigger), drinking mojitos (always delicious and refreshing) and eating tostones with an amazing garlic sauce. We were seated after about fifteen minutes.

Just as our food arrived, I noticed some movement in the large potted plant outside the window. I looked closer and it was none other than Donovan - a truly magnificent form of urban wildlife not often found outside of its natural habitat. We invited the little Donovan in. He adapted very easily to the confines and customs of the restaurant and ordered a Dos Equis and a Cubano.

I had the churrasco, which is simply chargrilled skirt steak with Cuban chimichurri sauce and lime cured onions. The steak was served with yellow rice, which I passed on per usual, black beans and MORE tostones with the amazing garlicky sauce. The steak was simply succulent (I feel like Youthlarge was just saying the other day that she HATED alliteration. Funny.). It was also cooked to the correct doneness, which I was pleasantly surprised by. I really didn't expect it to be as skirt steaks are usually over done.

Papper started with the grouper ceviche (very light, perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of lime juice and cilantro) and ordered the Cubano as well. I've had my fair share of Cubanos in this town and think this might be the tastiest one I've ever had. It might have something to do with that garlicky sauce they use. Papper said that in addition to the standard ham, they also put a thin layer of prosciutto on the sandwich. Now, I don't know if I really buy that, but I suppose it would explain the extra savory goodness I experienced. Hmmmm. Well, I guess I could just order it sometime and take a look under the hood before I finish eating it. That's what I'll do on my next visit. I hope I don't forget though.

After dinner I tried to convince people to go to Ace Bar for some skee-ball action, but had no takers, so we ended up just going to Parkside for a nightcap. Man, I swear, if I could get back all of the hours I've spent at the Parkside I would be a much younger woman. Cheers.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yesterday's Lunch

As you know, I have a voracious appetite, but this heat has left me indecisive and apathetic on the eating front. Despite waking yesterday around 8:00a, it took me until about 1:00p to decide that all I really wanted to eat was a nice salad nicoise. My favorite place for salad nicoise is Dom's on Lafayette and Broome, but I felt like walking there in the sweltering heat would be a little too incidentally Bikram for my taste. So then I got the idea in my head that I could make my own, but then quickly realized that in order to do so I would need lettuce, tuna, haricots verts, eggs, new potatoes, anchovies and olives, of which I had none. Hmmmm... what to do? Then I thought about ordering a house salad from my local diner and picking up some potatoes and a salmon fillet to craft my own revised, simplified version of a salad nicoise. But THEN I realized that would involve way more effort than I was actually willing to expend. I ultimately ended up ordering the twin souvlaki platter from the diner, which is two skewers of pork souvlaki over a Greek salad, served with fries. Too hot for fries before the sun goes down, so I said 'thanks, but no thanks' to my little starchy friends. Granted, pork is not as light as say... tuna or salmon, but paired with the Greek salad and some cool tzatziki sauce, proved to be quite refreshing and really hit the spot.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Today's Brunch

Epicerie Cafe Charbon (Orchard and Stanton, LES, NYC) with Sean Murphy.

I had Steak Frites (medium rare) with a black iced coffee. In addition to frites, the steak was served with a nice mesclun salad, lightly dressed in olive oil and balsamic. I've stated this in previous posts, but seriously, the thing I love about frenchie brasserie type places is that they ALWAYS cook your meat to the requested doneness. I really appreciate that because so often one ends up with shoe leather when ordering steak. Last weekend Youthlarge, Listmaker and I all got the same skirt steak special at Song in the Slope. I believe both of them ordered their steaks medium and I opted for medium rare. Regardless, we all got well done. Whatever, it was steak, so I was still able to enjoy it.

Seanny got a croque-madame, which is the same thing as a croque-monsieur, but with a fried egg on top, a coffee and an orange juice - all part of the prix fixe, which I did not opt for.

During brunch, Sean told me that I can be rude and off-putting to strangers. He went so far as to say that he finds me to be obnoxious in general! So I was like, then why do you hang out with me all the time? And then he said something to the effect of wanting to keep me close so I don't turn on him. Man, could this week get any worse? At least my steak was delicious.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Misc. Block Island / Shelter Island Eating - this is the end

I figure since I've been back from my island getaway for just over a week now, that it's time to wrap this entry up. So I'm just going to try to breeze through the remainder of the meals list style with very little commentary, but please feel free to make up your own!

Sunday, July 2nd - Still on Shelter Island.

2 little slices of banana bread
1 chop-chop (I was introduced to the chop-chop that morning by Aunt ML. It's simply a soft boiled egg, which you break up with your fork in a little bowl with some salt. The fork repeatedly hitting against the bowl makes a funny 'chop-chop' sound.)
2 slices of bacon (I would have had more slices, but the competition was fierce. The cooker of the bacon, Cousin Peter, forced us to make up little poems in order to earn our bacon. My first one went 'Oink, oink, yummy, yummy. I love bacon, in my tummy!' I have no recollection of the second poem, but it must have worked as I did in fact eat a second piece.)
1 Hole in One

More sopressata filled antipasto. This time Aunt ML added some turkey cold cut to the mix, which I was glad for. Turkey cold cut and I have been close friends for quite some time now.

Dinner - Back on the Block!
Joyce was tired so Lauren, Dick and I met up with good old Ted at the Oar. The Oar was seriously crowded though, so we decided to go to Finns in the Old Harbor. Finns is right near the ferry, which was convenient since Ted needed to catch the 9:00p to Point Judith. I had fried clams (whole bellied, not just the strips) and chips. They were quite tasty. I've only had better ones once before, at some place in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard.

Monday, July 3rd

Grilled zucchini, eggplant parm (healthy, not fried), salad, boiled Jerusalem artichokes and grilled lobster. Prior to throwing them on the grill, Joycie stuffed the lobsters with a nice light breadcrumb stuffing, recipe courtesy of Jasper White. A perfect Block Island dinner.

Tuesday, July 4th - Last dinner on the Block.

Lauren made delicious crab cakes. These were great because I'm a real sucker for actual CRAB in my crab cakes, not just a bunch of bready filler. We also had some chowder from Finns, which never fails to please. On my next visit to the Block I plan to procure a Finns t-shirt.

I think that sufficiently wraps up all of the amazing eating I did on my trip. On a personal note, many thanks to my wonderful hosts! The only thing that surpassed the deliciousness of the food I ate was the graciousness of my hosts.

I Love You Meatballs

I love meatballs. I can't stop eating meatballs. Sometimes they land me in trouble, but for the most part they usually treat me right.

Many years ago, in fact, possibly a decade ago, the CLC and I were eating at a coffee shop on Union Square East, where there is a Children's Place clothing store now. I'm sure she was having chicken in the basket and I was having a cheeseburger. Out of the corner of one our eyes, we spotted a little girl who had a pile of spaghetti and an untoched meatball on her plate. We were totally eye-stalking this kid wondering if she would eat the meatball. Finally the plate was cleared with the perfectly good meatball. The CLC and I were aghast at this blatant waste of a meatball and somehow managed to show some self-control by not stabbing the meaty bally goodness as it passed us by.

Last night we dined at Lil Frankie's in the EV (and I don't mean Extra Virgin, all you Rachael Ray lovers). I had my usual rigatoni with polpettini ragu, while the CLC went with the roast chicken with mashed potatoes made with extra virgin olive oil. To start though, I had the Lil Frankie's salad, which is basically a vegetable plate. In the center is a pile of lightly dressed arugula and paper thin slices of red onion. Surrounding the greens is a medley of deliciousness: boiled new potato halves, cherry tomato gems, sticks of blanched for two seconds zuchinni, ultra thing shavings of fennel, gently steamed broccoli and a couple matchsticks of fontina cheese.

The rigatoni with polpettini at Lil Frankie's is divine. A generous portion of marble-sized, fluffy meatballs bathe in a not too heavy, not too light red sauce. There's not too little of the sauce where you find yourself eating a dry piece of bread, and on the flipside, the pasta is not drowning either. The rigatoni is cooked to al dente perfection, providing enough contrast to the meatballs that you're not just eating mushy foods. Food contrast is really important too me and pasta can sometimes be a dangerous choice. It's really never the case here, because I've never had a poorly cooked meal where pasta has been the base. A few weeks earlier we had dined at Max and I ordered a similar dish where instead of polpettini, the pasta was served with sausage and large meatballs. What a disappointment. The sauce seemed old and way too reduced if that's even possible. It was the consistency of tomato paste. And it was also burned.

There are other tempting dishes at Lil Frankie's, including their thin crust, brick oven pizzas, but I find it really difficult to stray from a classic when it's done me right every since time. I nearly deviated when I heard the pasta with vongole special, but the $17.95 charge was more than I wanted to spend.

Perhaps the CLC will chime in about her chicken, with its delicious pan sauce and crock of potatos.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Bacon-O-Meter 7/10/06

Number of strips: 5.5
Type/brand: Two pieces of Canadian bacon, 3 strips of uh, American bacon.
Consistency: Good for both
Comments: The two pieces of Canadian bacon came on my Eggs Benedict at Moutarde yesterday. It's tough to fuck up Canadian bacon, but my eggs were definitely not cooked to my liking. They were poached of course, and I anticipate a runny yolk. I don't anticipate runny whites. Runny whites are nasty and remind me of phlegm or snot. There was just too much runniness on the plate. Dan ordered a side of bacon to go along with his delicious crispy on the edges banana pancakes. It was a generous portion and I would up eating most of it!
Total count from April 26, 2006: 57.75


Friday, July 07, 2006

Misc. Block Island / Shelter Island Eating (Part 2)

More on Saturday, July 1st

I was already starving upon arrival at the party. Unfortunately, the pigs I saw spit-roasting as I walked up the driveway weren't ready to be served yet, so I half-heartedly noshed on some crudite as I chatted with Lauren, her cousin Peter and Julie Fanelli, who I went to grades 1-12 with in good old Montclair, NJ! I believe that Julie's grandfather invented Fun-Tak, which means that most people who went to college probably have some sort of beef with him because half way through the semester their freaking Steve Vai poster fell on them as they crammed for mid-terms, or while watching My So Called Life.

Anyway, I got wind of a griddle your own deliciousness situation and headed over to investigate. I was overcome with joy to find a griddle placed over a pit of charcoal, wooden skewers, a large tray of beef cubes marinating in oil and various spices, another large tray of venison cubes in the same marinade and yet ANOTHER tray of cubed swordfish and tuna marinating in what tasted to me like Soy Vay teriyaki sauce. In case you are not familiar with Soy Vay's products, they make very tasty kosher asiany sauces and marinades. I like to call it Jap JAP, because you know, I'm wrong like that. So I quickly grabbed a skewer and put three beef cubes on it and then grabbed another skewer and loaded it up with two pieces of swordfish and one piece of tuna, alternating of course. Because I do not have a very strong work ethic and am incredibly impatient, I preferred griddling the fish. Since I like my fish super rare, it only took a minute or so to cook and man, was it ever delicious! But don't worry, I griddled plenty of beef cubes as well. For some reason I bypassed the venison altogether. Not sure why though as I do actually like the stuff and don't really have any strong feelings toward Bambi either way.

Suffice it to say, I spent most of the evening at the griddle and when I stepped away for a bit, I felt strange and off-balance and felt compelled to resume griddling. I became a clandestine griddler. I would be mid-conversation and then lie and say I needed another drink or had to use the ladies' room, but really I was sneaking off to the griddle! I got two stains on my shirt from griddling and subsequently scarfing the fruits of my labor. My relationship with the griddle was taking over my life. I started to worry that the griddle would break-up with me for being too clingy. The only substantial break I had from the griddle all evening was when they opened up the main food event, which was three long tables covered with all sorts of picnicy salads (in addition to your standard mixed greens and slaws, there were lots of orzo and pasta based salads), rolls, cornbread and gigantic trays of barbecued lamb, beef and PIG. What did I do to deserve such a happy day? Here's what I ate:

- Some sort of salad with romaine, tomatoes and shredded parm
- Southwesterny salad with orzo, black beans, cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced yellow peppers and chopped red onion
- Macaroni salad with tunafish
- An incredibly small slice of cold spinach quiche
- Two slices of lamb
- Three slices of beef
- Many tong-fuls of succulent shredded pork and lots of crunchy pig skin

After I finished my plate, I snuck back for more pork. Then after the fireworks, which were amazing by the way, accompanied by the ingenious commentary of Lauren's dad (after one especially beautiful firework, he exclaimed 'take me home tonight!'), I went back for MORE pork! Then we sat on the porch, drinking, chatting and spying on Lauren's fourteen year old cousin, who was in the hot tub with a thirteen year old girl named Mackenzie. He almost kissed her like eight times, but he never managed to seal the deal. It was so frustrating to watch! But then again, maybe we shouldn't have been watching in the fist place! Periodically, I would leave the spying and conversation to return to the evil temptress that was the griddle. Then around 1:00a, Lauren's cousins Tom and Peter and I all decided that it was time to eat 'leftover' pork sandwiches. I put yummy horseradish sauce on mine. Oh, and lots of delectably fatty pig skin. We retired around 2:00a and woke up just seven hours later to continue our journey to the core of all that is delicious.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Misc. Block Island / Shelter Island Eating (Part 1)

Friday, June 30th

Lauren, her dad (Diego, Dick for short), Pablo the dog and I headed up to Westerly, RI Friday morning to catch an 11:30 flight to the Block. We were running late (totally my fault - sorry Bootsie!) and made it just in time for the flight. Fortunately, the planes were running late as well, which was NOT my fault. Phew. We arrived safely on the Block around 12:10, so I was able to catch most of the second half of the Germany vs. Argentina match, the two fifteen minute OT periods and the stupid penalty shootout (bring back the Golden Goal!). Deutschland uber alles! Well, at least that's what I thought at the time. By the end of the game, Lauren's mother Joyce had arrived, so we all hopped into the car and went to the Oar for lunch. The Oar is a great spot, right on the water with a wonderful view of Block Island's New Harbor. I had a delicious bowl of clam chowder (By the way, does anyone know the difference between Rhode Island clam chowder and New England clam chowder? I've been contemplating this for years, but admittedly, have not actually done any serious research on the matter. Both are equally delicious and taste exactly the same to me. Maybe one is made with quahogs and the other is made with just regular old clams?) followed by a huge Mediterranean salad made of all the usual suspects - mixed greens, thinly sliced red onion, cukes, kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese. Very tasty and not too heavy. My heart really wanted chicken fingers and french fries though... Stupid, stupid heart!

For dinner, Joyce grilled two delicious little chickens and prepared a lentil and brown rice salad. I grilled some zucchini with olive oil, a couple shakes of sea salt and many twists of the old pepper mill. Lauren made a wonderful salad with fresh mint and yellow peppers. Grilling is truly a superior method of cooking.

Saturday, July 1st

Joyce, Dick, Lauren, Pablo and I all hopped into a puddle jumper (I keep saying 'hop' - sorry) to East Hampton for a big 4th of July party on Shelter Island. We were greeted at the airport by our hostess, Aunt Marylou (Mary-Lou? Mary Lou? Bootsie, give me an assist on this one!), who drove us to her place and then proceeded to feed us some sopressata, super yummy and sharp provolone, roasted peppers, olives - you know, your basic heavenly cold antipasto platter - along with some of the sweetest and tastiest raw clams on the half shell I've ever had! Oh, and there was BEER too - thanks Uncle Joe! I really DO love beer. After some napping and France vs. Brazil action (Allez! Allez!), we headed over to Susan's (daughter of Marylou and Joe, niece of Joyce) for the big party. I'll give a comprehensive recap of the party's deliciousness in my next entry. Until then, just mull this over for a bit - there were TWO spit roasted pigs and honestly, that's not even scratching the surface of all the savory goodness that awaited me that night.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Noodles at Mitsuwa with Linda

Mitsuwa is a huge Japanese supermarket complex in Edgewater, NJ, not to far from where I grew up and where my parents still live. On visits back to Jerz, I try to get a trip to Mitsuwa into the itinerary. I'm not sure how long it's been there, but it's been there long enough that my brother worked there in either middle school or high school and has endured a name change (originally Yaohan). I'm goint to guess at least 15 years. It's rows and rows of brilliant packages tagged with adorable cartoon characters and Engrish, as well dozens upon dozens of items you had never previously realized you had a need for. Another key selling point of Mitsuwa is their awesome food court. It's undergone some changes recently, but the types of foods offered remain the same for the most part. The two main additions are the Italian Tomato counter and the Ito-En Tea island. The various ramen, katsu and red bean cake counters are still there though.

One of the best times to hit Mitsuwa (which, you can get to via shuttle bus from Port Authority) is when they are having a regional food festival, where they feature special foods and always have tons of samples. The last time I was there, okonomiyaki was celebrated. I don't think this was the Osaka kind, as it was a variation with noodles and an egg crepe I had never had before. I stood on line, I mean "in line" for nearly an hour to get my okonomiyaki (to go!) and it still tasted great back in Brooklyn. This past weekend, they were celebrating the Kyushu / Okinawa region. Linda (my mom, for those of you who are new), and I sampled seafood buns, salty fish roe and a variety of Japanese rice cakes. They were also pushing mackerel. At lunch, she was disappointed to find out her favorite type of ramen with scallops was nowhere to be found. So we both wound up getting Hidechan ramen from a special stand that was set up for the weekend. Hidechan ramen was unlike the other types of ramen I've previously tried. The thick broth (made from pork bones which have been simmering for a very long time) came as a big surprise and reminded me a lot of the broth in the Korean dish gom tang (ox tail soup). It almost felt too heavy at first because I was expecting a lighter broth. This broth almost felt three-dimensional, if that makes any sense. And like gom tang, Hidechan ramen is best served with lots and lots of black pepper. Another big difference was the type of noodle used. It wasn't your typical curly noodle with a yellowish tint. This noodle was much thinner, straight and white. Accompanying the broth and noodles were a large handful of chopped scallions and three slices of pork fanned out on top.

I didn't finish it. While it was delicious, I can't imagine eating this on a regular basis. It seems more like a special occasion meal. I also didn't take the photo, but thought the post needed a visual. It's exactly the same ramen I ate - down to the styrofoam bowl and plastic soup spoon.