Monday, November 15, 2010

We Went to There: Fatty 'Cue

A nice Eastern European man picked us up in a grey Lexus, number 96. He took us to a weird, industrial block in Williamsburg near the water. We stopped at the building with a red rooster painted on the side. The air smelled of smoked meats, pickles, chilis.

Our waiter was especially chatty. He wanted to make sure that we knew that sharing was encouraged (we did,) and that we were planning on ordering some greens (we weren't necessarily, but then we did.) He also told us that Sam Sifton inhales his food and that the smoked crab laksa recipe was off the menu, being tweaked -- the night's only disappointment.

We ordered some cocktails. I had the 'Cue, with rum, smoked pineapple, tabasco, and Pernod. It was intensely spicy, citrusy, and strong. M tried one of the cocktail specials -- a rootbeer sazerac. It was syrupy and tasted of winter spices. I was tempted by the Hitachino bombers (too overpriced) and the Recession Special, which includes a shot of whiskey, a shot of pickle back, and a PBR tallboy.

We started with a bowl of cucumbers, pictured above. They were cut into chunks, and tossed with smoked chili, brown rice vinegar, and sesame seeds. They were like spicy, un-pickled pickles: acidic with vinegar but fully crunchy and refreshing inside. The only problem was that there were too many -- probably two, three whole cucumbers. With these we ordered a plate of the 'Cue Coriander Bacon -- smoked, thick-cut bacon served with delicate toast triangles and a little cup of creamy yellow curry custard. The bacon was perfectly fatty and rich -- best enjoyed, I thought, with another item we ordered off the snack menu: Bowl of Noodles. Sam Sifton described this dish as "the OxyContin of Ramen" -- the noodles sit in a bowl of resting meat juices, chilis, and scallions, which nicely coat the noodles upon tossing. Also, the bowl came with a soup spoon full of house-made Sriracha. This may have been one of the best dishes of the night.

Our large-plate item was the Brandt Farms Beef Brisket, pictured above. The plate came with two cuts of brisket -- one fatty, one lean -- four doughy bao buns for sandwich-making, pickled red onions and cilantro, a little palette of chili jam and aioli, and a cup of bone broth. My technique was this: smear the inside of the bao with the aioli (I wasn't ready to fuck with the chili jam), lay the fatty cuts into the folds, pile on the pickled onions and cilantro, press the bao closed, and dip into the bone broth; eat; repeat; pick at the leaner cuts, which then paled in comparison to their fattier predecessors.

Then we had our pie. We ordered the whole pie menu -- which consisted of only two kinds of pie -- but still. We got a slice of spiced pumpkin pie, and a slice of whipped peanut butter pie with a chocolate top layer and a pretzel-crumb crust. These were First Prize pies -- they were second rate pies, but they were made by a company called First Prize Pies. The spiced pumpkin needed to be spicier and moister, and the whipped peanut butter pie desperately needed more salt. The meal ended on a high note, however, as we received a couple of moistened hand wipes with the check. Thanks Fatty 'Cue! Stay tuned for more Williamsburg Theres in the coming months..

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Went: Westward hum!

I tried to eat everything before my departure, and here's the run down:

Head Cheese!
Colt and Gray:  I went to here with my dear friend, JB, to celebrate his arrival in Denver.  Colt and Gray was one of the restaurants written about in the NYT shortly before I headed west, and is a pretty exquisite place.  There was a fireplace, there were cozy gray (ahem) chairs in the small dining room, the servers were super friendly, and my company was superb.  I've always loved gray, chose to wear it more often than not, and find its presence to be reflective of grace, calm, and refinement.  That's pretty much what Colt and Gray felt like--oh, and the food was really good too.  We took a chance and ordered the head cheese.  Yes, that happened.  Head cheese is a meat jelly, and yes, sounds kind of gross, but I swear it's not!  The head of this animal, or animals, was delicious, and I had no compunctions past ordering it that interfered with my enjoyment of it.  JB had the butternut squash gnocchi, which he allowed to try--firm, soft, savory, sweet, perfect.  I had the cioppino, and it was sublime.  I've never met a shellfish I didn't like, but the addition here of the tomato fennel broth put this over the top.  I'm crazy for fennel--and recently had some fennel ice cream here in Brooklyn, but that's for another post.  We shared a bottle of wine, and reveled in the potted cheesecake--the memory of which still makes my mouth water.
Potted Cheesecake

Roast Duck Salad

The Kitchen:  My first dining experience in Boulder was exceptional.  There's something about lunch on a day that's everybody else's workday that can't be beat in my world.  It can feel like the most relaxed, decadent, happy experience a girl could hope for.  And The Kitchen might just be one of the most perfect fulfillments of this idea.  I went with a girlfriend, RB, and together in the warm sunlight of a cool day, we shared the tomato soup, the lamb burger, and the beet and hazelnut salad, and the duck salad with poached eggs.  I also had the Eton Mess--an unformed Fool, if you will, or Trifle with meringue instead of lady fingers.  It was a perfect meal that I will never forget.
Tomato soup and Beet salad

D Bar Desserts:  I became very wistful at D Bar, seeing all the groups of women sharing food and sweets.  I texted a couple of my girls while I was there to tell them I wished we were together--it's the sort of place you go to with your sister, with your girlfriends, with your mother in law, with little girls.  And then you go to the ballet.  Oh well, I went alone, and I went for cookies.  You can't offer a cookie plate and not expect me on your doorstep.  Four cookies, all fresh from the oven, came with a glass of iced milk.  It was gooey, and decadent, and happy.  D Bar is a happy place--where grilled cheese lives peacefully beside chocolate cake and a mini malted, and where desserts are, slyly, "enjoyed in broad daylight."
French Toast with Maple Bacon Syrup at Snooze
Greasy Spoon

Reader, I ate so many more meals--I went to Jax Fish House in Boulder, Tee and Cakes, and to H Burger.  To Oceanaire, back to Rioja, to The Market, Noodle and Co., Ted's  Montana Grill, Sexy Pizza, P17, Snooze, Cru, Sam's No. 3, and many more.   My appetite is limitless, but now it must go to Brooklyn, back to its cousin appetite, to go to there again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

John Dory Oyster Bar

The Ace Hotel - 1196 Broadway at 29th Street

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (of the Spotted Pig) opened the John Dory two years ago on 10th Avenue but they've since closed that location and are bringing it to the Ace Hotel (also home to Stumptown, No 7 Sub, and Opening Ceremony.) The space sounds really pretty and the soups, stews, and bar snacks sound delicious.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Went to There: Denver

Let's be clear: I wanted to go to there first and foremost for cousin time; second and second most to bear witness to two wild nights of bloodsucking at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts; and third and thirdmost, to feed. Not on blood, but on the fruits of Denver. And feed I did -- feed we did.

Upon first arriving in Denver I was whisked away to the House of Commons, a tea room in the northwest corner of the city. Tea time, among cousins, is a tradition that has consisted of a lot of talk and little action. But the weather and the company car lent themselves to action on this sunny day, so we enjoyed afternoon tea at a sidewalk table. The service consisted of 4 little tea sandwiches: one roast beef with mayonnaise, one curried chicken, one cheddar and fruit preserves, and one traditional cream cheese and cucumber. On the second tier of the little tea tower there stood two scones, to be eaten with fruit jam, lemon curd, and clotted cream (pictured above.) On the top tier, some little petits-fours: carrot cake, chocolate cake, and a sweet little cookie. In addition, we shared a comforting slice of quiche and a square of peanut butter fudge with a hardened chocolate top layer that was decidedly OOC -- that's "out of control," for my elderly readers.

After Thursday night's show we parked at a corner table at Euclid Hall on 14th Street and we said to the man, "Please to bring us everything fried, please, and everything griddled." Not really, but we may as well have: our meal consisted of an outstandingly crunchy turkey corn dog; a platter of poutine with hen of the woods mushrooms, porcini gravy, and Wisconsin cheddar; a grilled cheese sandwich with Camembert and peach preserves; a cup of mushroom soup; a little pan of roasted vegetables; and a platter of "pretzel fried pies," which were basically stuffed churros. Also, I had the Lagunitas Censored to drink. One cousin delighted in the endless pile of hand-cut Kennebec french fries, and one cousin delighted in parsnips roasted in a honey-rosemary glaze.

And then we fasted. We fasted all night. And then we broke our fast at around 9 the next morning at Sam's no. 3, whose breakfast fare is not unlike that of a typical New Jersey diner, albeit one with a slightly Mexican theme. Eggs, pancakes, french toast: you can picture it in your mind's eye. What I really want to share is a beauty shot from the Squeaky Bean in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver, where we shared this gorgeous roast cauliflower salad with smoked trout, dates, and a parsley coulis. Also on the table: a delectable (if heftily packed) lamb reuben and a pig-shaped pig platter that came with 3 different types of salumi and a tray of toasted sourdough. For dessert, our be-sunglassed waiter, Luciano, recommended the carrot cake and shake: an adorable cube of creamy carrot cake topped with candy-glazed carrot ribbons and accompanied with a beaker (yes -- a beaker!) of vanilla milkshake. It reminded one cousin of horchata and the other cousin of kheer, the Indian rice pudding. In any event it was a delight.

I imagine that some other couple of cousins in this crazy, mixed-up world might have stopped there. "That's enough," some cousin might have said, patting her belly or, worse, skipping dessert altogether. Not these cousins. We stopped by the Denver Biscuit Company and picked up this stunner of a biscuit to-go, which would later turn into an innovative and attractive (if I may say so) late night salami and egg sandwich. With the biscuit in tow we continued on our way in pursuit of Dessert 2.0: Little Man Ice Cream, also in the Highlands neighborhood, also adorable, also cousin heaven.

Little Man donates some portion of rice, proportional to scoops sold, to villages in Ethiopia and Myanmar -- but guess what -- that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about how outstanding the fig gelato was. We ordered it in sundae form with hot fudge and Whopper pieces (who knew both cousins loved Whoppers!? No one likes Whoppers!) and took a little kids cup of honey gelato to-go as well. All to-go items, biscuit included, were ultimately consumed by midnight -- and enthusiastically so -- but also gracefully so.

For 10 long hours we rested and then we set out for more. Our late breakfast/early brunch at Rioja, on Larimer Street, consisted of a yogurt and berry parfait, a little lace cookie and chevre amuse bouche, eggs and pork belly (pictured above,) and the Rioja Benedict, 2 perfectly poached eggs with tomato, spinach, and bacon atop goat cheese biscuit halves.

But biscuits come and biscuits go, and the altitude had taken its toll on this biscuit. Before boarding my flight I stopped at Denver fast-food restaurant Itza Wrap Itza Bowl in the United Airlines terminal at the Denver airport and treated myself to a brown rice bowl with vegetables and tofu -- they dressed it with Thai peanut sauce, cilantro, peanut halves and Sriracha. Have you ever seen Sriracha at a fast-food establishment? Me neither. This actually wasn't so bad for airport food.

That concludes this cousin's Denver eating adventure. All in all Denver has proved to be an excellent source of bar foods, fried foods, desserts, baked goods, griddled foods, breakfast foods, and meats. One can eat well there, but it's certainly no place for any cousin to stay too long -- may I recommend Itza Wrap Itza Bowl for your impending trip home, cousin -- I'll see you in November.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Went to There: Maialino

So on Friday night I went to Maialino, Danny Meyer's new -- well, 10-month-old -- Roman trattoria on the ground floor of the Gramercy Park Hotel. I've wanted to go to there for many, many months, since before it even opened when I was subsiding on 99-cent sacks of potatoes in rural Ireland and dreaming of suckling pig. Thanks to the really nice people I worked for over the summer, I got a prime reservation and a really amazing meal on the house -- there, that's my disclaimer for the Federal Trade Commission.

Maialino has a noisy (in a good way) front area with a long, walnut bar and an open cucina counter -- this area looks out onto Gramercy Park to the south and lower Lexington Avenue to the east. There is also a quieter dining area in back where tables are spaced further apart, and we were seated sort of on the border between the two -- a couple of tables away from Woody Allen and Soon-Yi -- you can imagine how many other diners around us were tweeting on the topic throughout the meal.

We decided to order something from every section on the traditional Roman menu. Our salumi was a Soppressata Piccante from Long Island City, which came in beautiful, nutty slices just in time to enjoy with the remnants of the bread basket. Our antipasti was Carciofini Fritti, perfectly warm and crispy fried artichoke hearts accompanied by an anchovy bread sauce. Everything seemed to come out precisely when it was ready and just minutes after our having finished the preceding plate, such that everything was texturally perfect and appropriately paced. Before our larger courses came out, our server brought us a plate with two little slices of crostini topped with ricotta, grainy sunflower honey, and juicy, soft, pink figs.

Our main courses were the highlights, even though everything I've already described could have made up a remarkable meal in itself. From the primi menu, we ordered the Malfatti Al Maialino, asymmetrical folds of eggy, homemade pasta with suckling pig ragu and fresh arugula. Our secondi was Pollo Alla Diavola, a half chicken pounded and roasted to a light crispy outer texture with black pepper and pickled chili. With the crackly, spicy skin and the garlicky bitterness of the accompanying broccoli rabe (ordered separately,) this dish might have been the most impressive. We polished off a quarter chicken each.

We finished off our bottle of Nero D'Avola from Firriato and ended the meal with an Affogato. I left feeling not as Sam Sifton suggested I might -- "panting a little, ready for sleep" -- but perfectly content with how the meal had lived up to my expectations.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Denver Destinations

I want to go to:

1431 Larimer St.
Mediterranean, and website currently has a picture of a cocktail with jalapenos floating in it. Sign me up. Also, an excellent brunch menu featuring buttermilk waffles, crab crepes, and goat cheese biscuits. This also appears to be a minute away from your apartment! Sigh, I bet you've been to there.

Root Down
1600 W. 33rd Ave.
The Times mentioned this one in their recent article on local food in Denver. They have an enticing happy hour menu with hoisin duck sliders and sweet potato falafel. The space used to be a gas station and maintains a lot of 50's design elements. Ugh, you've probably been there, too.

Colt & Gray
1553 Platte St., #120
Another recommendation in that Times article. Oysters and coppa, marrow and beet burgers. The most baffling/intriguing thing on their menu would probably be the Croque Madame with Tomato Soup Apple Cider Fried Chicken Sandwich with Fennel Kraut. What?

There you go, cuz. What do you think?
P.s. -- Does anywhere in Denver serve lunch?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Want: Vandaag

As a new, and tentative member of the picklophile club (spell check just asked me to change that word to pedophile--I will not go to there), I am interested in Vandaag, the new, "vaguely Dutch" restaurant serving up an assortment of pickled items, from oysters (oysters?!), sausages (sausages?!), cantaloupe (cantaloupe?!), cherries (cherries?!), and pickles (pick--oh, okay). I think I'm as wary of Dutch food as I am of pickled food, and so the "vaguely" part may make this just the place for me.  I (kind of) want to go to there.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Ave.

New York, NY

Maialino is the newest original Danny Meyer concept and, lord, I have wanted to go to there, to really GO to there, since it opened while I was in Ireland in November of 2009. And this summer, I did go to there -- a few times, actually. But never to eat! I got to interview the pastry chef, Jen Shelbo, and the wine director, Liz Nicholson, and I worked on their bios for the restaurant's website. And that was basically the highlight of my summer, and it didn't even involve food.

Well, it's about time I supped on the Maialino, which means "little pig" in Italian. I have a reservation for next Friday, and believe me -- once I've gone to there, you are going to hear ALL about it. Here's what I foresee eating: carciofini, salumi misti, bucatini all'amatriciana, malfatti al maialino, pollo alla diavola.. and, as always, cheese and alcohol! My friends cheese and alcohol! You'll be hearing from me.

Went: Westward ho!

I'm picking up pace now as I settle in to life in Denver.  Here's where I've been to since the last post:

Vesta Dipping Grill was not on my list of go to theres, but promised a better repast than what I might find at Coors Field, where I was heading with a few cast-mates for a Rockies game (yeah, the Bratwurst would probably have been good, but I was trying to be good, and therefore needed something sans bun).  I was about to order the Colorado lamb loin with rose water yogurt sauce; ever since my mom made me her medieval rose pudding, I've been a fan of rose water as an ingredient.  I hear a lot of people find it too perfume-y, but perhaps they just haven't met my mother.  I ended up deciding that I was only ordering it for the sake of the sauce and what I really wanted was the venison sausage and the seared scallops with chickpeas and pancetta.  I liked both, the scallops in particular, and left with the general feeling that the other dishes, and the other sauces at Vesta are most likely pretty good on the whole; having so many other places to go to, however, I doubt I'll make my way back.  A few days after dining here, I read that it consistently wins reader's choice awards in a local magazine for a first date locale.

On my day off, I ventured out of downtown to find Marzcyk's Fine Foods, a specialty food shop with a focus, I would guess, on meat, from the looks of their logo.  It's a small shop, with really excellent selections; all the protein looked (and later tasted) incredible, and they had a nice assortment of cheeses, produce, and weirdo canned and jarred items.  Of great appeal were the "M" stickers pasted on all in-house baked good containers, and the presence of Robinson Dairy cottage cheese in the dairy aisle.  I like to have my name represented on my consumables.
The spread at Euclid Hall

At the Cherry Cricket, I had a crazy good hamburger topped with cheddar, bacon, egg, and avacado.  An actor from another DTC production had brought us to this place, where there is, apparently, always a line to get in to taste these delectable concoctions.  I asked our server if anyone ever actually ordered the peanut butter they offer as a topping for their burgers, after deciding I just couldn't do it myself--and yes, they do, mostly children.  Denver youth: foodies.  Who knew?

I spotted Euclid Hall on one of my first tours about town and was mostly interested in their pickle sampler, having become a recent picklophile.  And who, really, could resist a pickle offered up on a menu as "Hot, Spicy, and Very Sincere?"  I had "The Works," which included four sausages--bratwurst, boudin blanc, boudin noir, and weisswurst--and the aforementioned pickle sampler, whose dill and garlic pickle rivaled even McClure's (heresy).  The others were fine as pickles go.  I did not imbibe on this particular occasion--and whether that was due to the fact that I was about to see a play and didn't want to test my tiredness, or that the beer menu is broken up into mathematical divisions (so to speak) depending on the complexity of the brew, I do not know.  I want a complex beer and an easy equation--how can I reconcile that at Euclid Hall?  The sourdough waffle ice cream sandwich with salted butterscotch ice cream and praline was fine, as in fiiiiiine, and I look forward to trying the red velvet cupcake with 7 minute frosting before I leave town, and before my corset gets too tight . . . .

Ben Nye Stage Blood tastes even better above sea level.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Want to go to Denver!

I've been a fairly absentee go-er to there-er, and am going to fill the gap with a running list of all the places I go to while I'm out West.  Like jogging in blog-place until I get back to going to there in the appropriate, New York fashion.  I'll be updating every week, but it all starts at the grocery store:

King Sooper's is the local, non-specialty food shop here in downtown Denver.  I've had a lot of luck in recent months with these types of establishments--Stauffer's in Lancaster, PA, Publix and Piggly Wiggly in Montgomery, AL, Shaw's on Cape Cod--but my luck has run out.  Sooper's was a bust.  I might as well have been in a Price Chopper on Western Boulevard in Albany.  Oh, the Boulder Chevre was a pretty good find, and they get a little credit for the weirdo name---it's not super, and it ain't soup.

I spent a delightful half an hour wandering around the dainty Cook's Fresh Market on the 16th Street Mall--it's a specialty foods store, and has some tasty prepared foods.  I sampled the roasted tomato with asiago cheese, and the crust-less quiche, both of which were light, fresh, and delicious.  What I liked most of all, however, I found in the cheese section, where little bits of leftover cheeses are available on the cheap.

Wynkoop Brewery has been on my list ever since I started my Denver research.  I like breweries in general, and Denver's a place where you're supposed to try the beer.  So I tried it--eh.  They let me down.  The food looked uninteresting--I didn't order any--and my self-composed flight of four of their brews was undistinguished.

Friday, July 30, 2010

I Went to There: Farmacy

I sat at the counter, like any Brooklyn girl might have done years ago, and had my egg cream ordered for me.  I took it with a pretzel stick--salty and sweet, the way all good things should be.  It's a little trip back in time at Farmacy, where the counter stools swivel, penny candy is sold by the register, chalk is available for kids to use on the sidewalk outside,  and the servers wear those little paper hats that make me cringe at the thought of wearing one myself.  Farmacy is a sweet little spot, and I'd like to try their other goodies--the egg cream, both vanilla and chocolate, were refreshing, but the blueberry pie was below my standard--I will return for a malted, maybe a sundae, but maybe also just to time travel and share that second straw.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Went to There: Cascabel

When the cousin's away the mice will play -- and thus I finally made it to Cascabel taqueria the other night, on 80th and 2nd avenue. Cascabel is a brightly colored storefront with images of La Lucha wrestlers and other kitschy decorations. The room is set up as if for counter service, though they were doing table service for dinner that night. It was totally packed, and people were lined up for takeout as well as for tables.

The food: spicy guacamole with hot, house-made tortilla discs; shrimp tacos with black beans, chili oil, and fresh oregano (perhaps a little too much fresh oregano); slow-roasted Berkshire pork butt tacos (NO MORE NICE JEWISH GIRL!) with pickled onions and crispy chili de arbol; pickled vegetables in brine, a Lagunitas IPA, a glass of house sangria, a blueberry shaved ice, and a little bag of mini-churros!

The standouts were probably the tacos -- both were excellently seasoned and un-messily cradled by delicious, sturdy house-made corn tortillas. The pork could maybe have been moister, but was aided by a delicious smokey hot sauce that we had on the table. The shaved ice was nice but maybe a little too solid to eat with a spoon -- I suspect it was blended rather than shaved.

I would go back to Cascabel for the tortilla soup, the vegetal tacos (fingerling potatoes and oyster mushrooms) and a spicy mango margarita.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fatty 'Cue

91 S. 6th St., Brooklyn

I'm back on the meat train (tentatively) and I'm hungry for some Dragon Pullman toast with Master Fat. And Manilla clams, and Heritage pork ribs, and smoked crab laksa. Fatty, sustainable meats and Southeast-Asian seasoning are getting married and I want to go to the wedding -- I just need to know what train to take.

I Went to there: Taim

Did you see that episode of Bethenny Getting Married when she's interviewing potential assistants and one shlubby guy who has no business hanging out with Bethenny Frankel tells her she should go to Taim, that it's better than Mamoun's? I DID, 3+ times. That's what reminded me to visit Taim, a tiny falafel storefront in the West Village. It was one of the first Want entries I made on this blog. It had been hard to find a time to go here for a few reasons:
1. The weather had to be good, because there's basically no seating
2. I work right next to Maoz, which is amazing, so I always go there
3. I get lost everytime I go to the West Village

But I found myself in the neighborhood, not so lost, on a dry if exceptionally hot day last week around dinner time, so I went to Taim. I tried the harissa-spiced falafel sandwich, which comes with hummus, Israeli salad, and tahini -- and if you ask, pickles and hot sauce at no extra charge.

This Frankel-assistant-hopeful guy was right -- Taim is so good. You can choose between three different kinds of falafel balls: green (typical parsley, mint, cilantro blend); harissa; and red (roasted red pepper.) They're all fried to order, and they're perfectly crispy and browned on the outside and moist and flavorful within -- not crumbly or undercooked like some falafel. This was almost creamy. It's not necessarily better than Maoz though, and given that it's a little pricier and slightly out of the way, I'm probably not going to convert. But Bethenny should, if she's still going to Mamoun's!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain

Soon after I moved to Brooklyn, I took a walk down Henry Street from the Heights and into Carroll Gardens.  Along the way, I stared into the glass store-front of an abandoned corner drug store; it was one of those ghostly places where time stood still, where one day, no one came back--door locked, stock left on shelves, raincoat hanging on a coat rack, waiting.  The accumulation of dust was fantastic, and the amount of stuff, incredible.  If you don't believe in expiration dates--and I don't--there was a store of aspirin in there that would make you weak in the knees.  It wasn't until several weeks ago that I noticed some action at the old pharmacy, and now, since my return to the BK, it has (re)opened it's doors as an old-fashioned soda fountain, egg creams and all.  I want to go to there and drink one with a boy, two straws. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Went to There: Boqueria

I've never known a greater pleasure than having an array of small plates set before me with a little plate on which to assemble perfect bites myself. That's what I got at Boqueria (Flatiron) last Tuesday, and assemble I did. We ordered grilled bread rubbed with crushed tomato, shrimp with guindilla peppers, blistered shishito peppers, patatas bravas, salt cod fritters, smoked idiazabal cheese, and squid salad. To drink, a pitcher of sangria made with gin, honey, and lavender. The potatoes were definitely not as great as those I'd had in Barcelona last winter, but the squid was some of the best I'd had anywhere and the peppers were far superior to similar dishes at other small plates restaurants -- both Spanish and Italian. Also the salt cod fritters were amazing -- creamy and salty with a crunchy exterior -- but they came with an overly citrusy aioli that obscured the cod's taste. Luckily, it came on the side.

The perfect bite may have been this: a piece of grilled bread, ladled with guindilla-infused shrimp oil, with a sliver of salted pepper and a cube of smoked cheese -- followed by the white peach-colored sangria, which was excellent and plentiful.

Dessert was churros and melted chocolate, which I can't compare to the real thing because I've never had it, but these were delicious. All in all, a really wonderful meal with endless bite-construction possibilities. I was very satisfied to have gone to there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Char No. 4

196 Smith St., Brooklyn

150 American whiskeys, spicy crab soup, house-smoked brisket sandwich, shrimp and grits -- Smith Street! Chipotle bourbon bloody mary with house-made pickle.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Went: Bread and Butter

This restaurant has the Mom stamp of approval.  The food was great, and I really enjoyed the ample selection of delectable small plates.  I thought it would be fun to come here after my journey south since Bread and Butter leans in that direction--indeed, I had the catfish, which was very good.  The hamburger I tasted was better, and the scallops even better than that.  The place was noisy and they made us wait, what, at least half an hour, but at the end of the meal we were served some sort liquor that none of us could identify meant to soothe our supposedly frayed nerves.  I was complimented twice on my vintage dress, which is always a sign of the worthiness of an establishment.

We Went to There: Hecho en Dumbo

My only problem with Hecho en Dumbo is that it ain't in Dumbo any more.  I'm too pro-Brooklyn for games like  this--I felt the same way when Brooklyn Industries thought it'd be a great idea to sell clothes in Manhattan.  Where did their loyalty go?  My cousin Helen's loyalty lies with the fish taco, and so Hecho en Dumbo en Manhattan was went to.  I didn't taste her fish tacos.  I did like the guacamole and the snapper accompanied by some tasty cactus-y type vegetation.  The cola was Boylan's, that was a nice surprise.  And our waiter was appropriately odd and bemused with us and his surroundings.  I should have had a margarita to take away the sting.


53 West 19th St.; 171 Spring St.

How have we not gone here yet? We were even minutes away from the Flatiron location during our rain-soaked pursuit of hot food earlier today. YUM. When I was in Barcelona last December I went to the real Boqueria marketplace on Las Ramblas but I was too scared to order tapas because the counters were so crowded and I don't speak Spanish. Now is my chance: blistered shishito peppers, fried quail eggs, patatas bravas, baby squid. Locations in the Flatiron and Soho. Let's go to there when it gets really hot out.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We Went to There: Joseph Leonard

Indeed we did go to there, although one of us almost didn't get to there -- the West Village is a confusing place! For some. Joseph Leonard is an adorable little restaurant on the corner where Christopher Street meets Grove and Waverly Place branches off into two directions, both of which are still Waverly Place for a block (this is true - see here.) In the front of the room is a bar and a bartender with a mustache and some little tables by the window overlooking Waverly Place. We sat in the back, at a table by the open kitchen. A chalkboard above the kitchen window counter said "Breakfast and lunch, hell yes."

On every table there was a jar of gherkins marinating in brine. They proved delicious enough to turn a lifelong anti-pickler onto pickles. We also had a glass bottle of water, and tea towel napkins. For lunch I ordered the lump crab "sarnie" -- sarnie is apparently an informal British word for sandwich, and the waiter wouldn't recognize my order until I said it as written (my first attempt was "crab sandwich.") In this case it was open faced: spiced with Old Bay and piled on top of a thick, slightly toasted piece of dark bread, and accompanied by delicious Old Bay chips. This all went very well with the gherkins. And although the sarnie certainly couldn't be eaten as a sandwich, it was simple enough with knife and fork. Actually, the possibilities for perfect bites were many and varied: crab on a chip, chip with a gherkin, gherkin with a crabby bit of toast. You understand. A brioche bun might have been a nice way to eat it, too.

Margaret had the burger with tomato marmalade, arugula, and ricotta -- the burger, she reported, was delicious, but the accompanying fries seemed to be nothing special. After the meal we split a small french press that, according to the waiter, would not be enough for two people. It was. What a gherk! Overall, Joseph Leonard's precious affects might have been a bit much, but the food was actually really good. I was surprised that they didn't have desserts with lunch however -- the waiter mentioned some sort of caramel custard as an afterthought, but it didn't appeal. Would it be so much trouble, I wondered, to arrange a simple cookie plate for a couple of ladies with a sweet tooth?

You can expect to hear a bit from Margaret about the bathroom, which was one of the most charming parts of the experience.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hecho en Dumbo

354 Bowery, nr. E. 4th st., NYC

Hecho en Dumbo used to be located -- guess where -- in Dumbo, at the Dumbo General Store (also a Want destination, I think,) but it has moved to the Bowery and added some things to the menu. Their tortillas and salsas are homemade, their cocktails sound really good, and they're adding a Mexican brunch menu. Things I want to try: picaditas de jaiba (corn masa topped with crabmeat); verduras en vinagre; house-smoked swordfish tacos.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No. 7 Sub

1188 Broadway btwn 28th & 29th

No. 7 Sub is the new sub shop in the Ace Hotel. The above sandwich is an eggplant parmesan... with squash puree! And barbecue potato chips! Sign me up. Also of interest: ceviche sub; General Tso's tofu sub; tuna salad sub with PICKLED BEETS; a handsome braised lamb sub. I'm down for whatever as long as it's encased by bread.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Went to There: Num Pang

All people currently residing in the state of Alabama need to get back to New York right away because Spring has sprung and with it, sandwiches. This saucy catfish delight comes from Num Pang, a little Cambodian storefront sandwich shop on E. 12th St. You order from a window facing the street, and then you can enter into a narrow little vestibule to watch them make your sandwich. A spiral staircase leads to a casual seating room upstairs, but being that it was a sunny day (another one!) we took the sandwiches to Union Square for a picnic.

This was a fabulous sandwich. The catfish was very fresh and lightly panfried -- just enough to create a slightly crusty exterior, especially along the edges of the cut. It was slathered with a chili mayo -- mayonnaise mixed with sriracha, my friend speculated -- and combined with cucumber, fresh cilantro, and pickled carrots. The bread was a real standout -- a perfect mini-baguette from Parisi bakery, golden on the outside and soft within. The size of the sandwich was perfect -- big enough to be filling (and cost appropriate) -- but not sickening like some monstrous deli sandwiches.

Other enticing flavors that warrant future visits include: coconut shrimp; chinese eggplant and cauliflower, and Spanish mackerel with leeks.

Went: Joe's Fabulicious Ice Cream

I've actually never been a crazy ice cream eater.  There's a great picture of me at maybe 3, 4 years old eating a pumpkin ice cream come while sitting on my dad's shoulders, the ice cream running down into his hair, and this fall, I had a resplendent ice cream experience at The Creamery in Lancaster, PA, where I had Pumpkin Whoopie Pie ice cream in a pretzel cone (maybe I should stick to a signature flavor).  Two weeks ago, while driving toward Gulf Shores, AL, we passed by a truck, parked in a lot, with a sign reading "Joe's Fabulicious Homemade Ice Cream."  We'd been stopping constantly on what was becoming a very, very long car trip for various other culinary tourist attractions, and by the time we saw Joe's, there was no stopping until we saw the ocean.  That done, however, Fabulicious, that one enticing word, fabulicious, drew us back along a 15 minute stretch of highway away from the water.  We approached the ice cream truck only to be told that the ice cream wasn't ready yet--Joe's was set to open in the morning, we'd just have to come back.  When GV told them our sad little tale of travel and food lust, we were invited to return in two hours, when the ice cream would have, by that time, set; we could be their first customers.  And so we drove away to fill up on dinner--a restaurant/shrine to Jimmy Buffet called LuLu's (I had fried green tomatoes for the first time, and enjoyed their home brewed Crazy Sista Honey Ale).  Upon our return to Joe's we were treated to three massive ice cream cones--vanilla in home-made waffle cones--that were absolute, creamy perfection.  We got a tour from Joe of his facilities, saw the ice cream makers he himself constructed, talked about how he first started making ice cream so many years ago, were shown the mix he developed for his ice cream.  We gave him his first dollar bill, and he and his wife gave us three Cajun Pistols to take home with us.  All told, we spent probably 45 minutes with Joe, and his truck, and his ice cream--and we ate what was most likely a pound of ice cream each.  The ice cream cone was delicious, the southern hospitality was charming, and we wish Joe and his Fabulicious Ice Cream much luck in their new location!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Went To There: OBAO

On the first sunny day after a seemingly endless spell of rain, my mother and I delivered a batch of homemade fish soup to Grandpa and set off in pursuit of our own fishy treats -- I chose OBAO. Being that it was sunny and unseasonably warm, we weren't really in the mood for noodle soup, which is the OBAO specialty. However, the menu has a sizable selection of vermicelli noodle dishes, which made for perfect warm weather food.

The restaurant occupies a long, narrow space on 53rd street between 2nd and 3rd; the front room is more casual, and you can watch the chefs prepare your meal in the open kitchen. The back room, where we sat, is a little quieter and it looks upon a back garden which seems to have a fire pit in the center. The menu offers a wide selection of proteins in various categories: soup noodles, wok noodles, vermicelli noodles, bbq, and salads. The beverage menu has some really interesting choices, including preserved plum soda and a jackfruit shake, as well as a nice beer selection. We ordered vermicelli noodles with shrimp and an order with flank steak, as well as some crispy spring rolls and a couple of iced black teas.
The food was good, but not transcendent. My shrimp was really well seasoned, and it came with a nice cucumber salad with scallions and peanuts. The little bowl of lime dressing didn't have as much flavor as I wanted, and I would have enjoyed a thicker sauce to coat the noodles -- drenching my dish in Sriracha helped the situation but also compromised the flavor of the shrimp. I enjoyed the meal, but I probably should have gone on a colder day, because the Mekong Fisherman soup and the Malay's Char Kway Teow (wok noodles with shrimp, oyster, and chili) sound excellent.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Num Pang

21 E. 12th St.

I just can't stop thinking about sandwiches. So sue me. Since I saw this picture on Serious Eats last week it has been haunting me; I saved it to my desktop and saw, to my delight, that the image tag was "shrimp sammie." Even more appealing, upon perusing Num Pang's menu, is the peppercorn catfish club. And the market pickles. And the chocolate coconut joy cookie. And -- this never hurts -- the chalkboard menu. Ga ga ooh la la.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Went to There: Chris'

The best part of this experience was the restaurant itself--its menus from the many eras the restaurant has seen, one featuring 8 cent dogs, and 15 cent pig's foot,  the sage green wooden cupboards behind the counter, the candy shelves that cry out for penny candies, the dusty porcelain from bygone days with Chris' spelled out along a saucer rim.  The hot dog itself--GV and I split the "two weiners in one bun" (upon ordering this, a very robust female customer burst out in almost wicked laughter)--was nothing to write home about.  Dear Mom, Chris' hot dog was a hot dog like many others.  It's appeal was more in the atmosphere surrounding it, and the idea that in 1917, someone had been at this counter eating just about the same thing.  The restaurant stands out on a block filled with empty store-fronts, most of which bore paintings representing biblical stories on their boarded up windows and doors.  A man was slowly mopping the front entryways to these shuttered shops.  The street stems off the intersection where Rosa Parks boarded that bus not so very many years ago, and there's a sign there.  And not much else.  I'm glad I went to there, glad it's still a place one can go to.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Went To There: Pinche Taqueria

You may notice that this picture is more or less identical to the one I posted in the I Want To Go To There entry for Pinche Taqueria, which I stole from the internet. But I actually took this one -- don't they look amazing? I and my taco-mates enjoyed these fish tacos at the Lafayette location of Pinche last night, along with an order of yucca fries, an ear of corn rolled in mayo, spices, and cojita cheese, and some Negro Modelos.

Pinche is a tiny, narrow space wedged into the tight triangle between Lafayette and Mulberry just below the Bleecker St. station. You order at the counter and they bring the food to you at these low wooden tables with little foot stools. When we got there around 8:30, there were only one or two other groups dining. An hour later, it was starting to fill up -- mostly with Europeans, a couple of whom scoffed at me when I removed their belongings from my taco-mate's seat. The cooks at Pinche watch sports on the television, and when their team wins, they shout and ring a bell.

As for the tacos, I think you can see that they were a thrill. The fish is tilapia, generously fried and garnished with cabbage, onions, cilantro, cilantro sauce, and a delicious guacamole. The tortillas, though perhaps a bit on the dry side, stayed together and were of an appropriate size to contain the toppings. The yucca fries came in a huge order -- good for sharing -- but might have lost some of the delicious root-vegetable chewiness of the yucca to over-frying. Still, they were wonderful with the two dipping sauces: cilantro mayonnaise and jalapeno ketchup (I preferred the latter.)

I'd love to go back to Pinche, but there are many other fish tacos in this city that are begging to be had and savored. Next up: Mercadito.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chris' Hot Dogs

I've always liked a hot dog--on a city street, in the park, at a baseball game, at home, and in someone's backyard.  Castup, mustard, relish--I want it all.  And I want to go to Chris', which has been serving dogs since 1917 in downtown Montgomery.  Okay, the hotdog in the picture looks a little less than appealing--but look at Chris!  And look at their use of an apostrophe! Their website boasts of the years when it was Montgomery's favorite late night place to be--it stayed open all night and Hank Williams hung out there.  And I, I am going to go to there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bread and Butter

Is it the idiom or the taste that appeals?  Here's what I'd want besides a living income: I'd start with the black mission figs, and the pumpkin soup with roasted chestnuts.  Oysters.  The seafood gumbo is something I'd have to try but I think I might also want to indulge in the "Dinner for 2."  Mostly just because it's for two, and also because the very idea of its excess makes me happy.  But this is a neighborhood joint--I could come here for the occasional burger, the butternut squash with maple syrup, the fried sweet corn.  And I'd want to taste that cheese plate with the lavender honey, yes, I would.  Oh, let summer come quickly to Brooklyn Heights, and let my livelihood be metaphoric, and let someone say, "yes, I will have that Dinner for 2 with you."  But Helen, will you still go to there when you learn that this southern restaurant has no biscuits?

Sunday, February 7, 2010


222 E. 53rd St. nr. Third Ave.

O Bao? More like Oh BOY, those noodle soups look good (forgive me.) And here you were thinking all I wanted was a big sandwich. Mostly, you were right. But I also desire a delicious bowl of soup noodles, and this new place, owned by Michael Huynh (of Bar Bao, Pho Sure, and Baogette) has a number of vegetarian and FISHY options. Feed it to me.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pinche Taqueria

227 Mott St. & 333 Lafayette St.

I don't want to get ahead of myself with the Mexican thing, because we still haven't been to Cascabel Taqueria and they have some seriously special sounding oyster mushroom tacos waiting for me there. But since two nights ago I started eating fish again (for the first time in over 5 years!) I've got fish tacos on the brain and I'm looking for the best ones in New York City. On Thursday I sampled those at La Esquina, on Lafayette and Kenmare. Those were utterly delicious, but these sound pretty amazing too: fried tilapia served on a soft tortilla with cabbage, onions, cilantro, cilantro sauce, and guacamole.

Also, Eric Ripert writes in a 2008 review: "When we entered they were playing Mariachi music; it was charming. Mini coronas."

Join me as I savor my return to the sea.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gina la fornarina: We Went to There

     A visit to Grandpa is always soothed by a cousinly luncheon, and this visit around, we went to Gina la fornarina (the baker's daughter).  We stood on 2nd Avenue in the 80s between two Wants--Gina, and Cascabel--and choose the former since our last Want in Grandpa Herbland was a mexican joint and we wanted a little variety.  The place was, as their logo suggests, super cute, and pretty, and girly, and pink.  Crisp white tables and chairs, against a lovely magenta-like pink.  It was the perfect place to consume a lady-like lunch of fritatta with spinach and fontina cheese with a side of greens.  The fritatta was as dense as a quiche--like a nice, thick slice of pie.  The greens were delicately dressed.  I also had a green tea, a fair amount of which I managed to spill on my (pink) pashmina scarf during a small fit of conversational excitement.  We wished that we had been served some of the grilled bread the lady across from us was served, which came in a rolled down paper bag that suited a certain rustic sensibility of mine.  On our way out, we stopped to gaze at the delicious looking noodle dishes as well as some flatbread pizzas and thought that we might like to come back for an early dinner and a glass of wine.  They had no cookies but we were prepared.  Last week at Northern Spy, we picked up a sweet treat made by the Brooklyn based Liddabit Sweets called The King.  And, oh, how he rules.  He was really a glorified Twix--but when I say glorified, I mean exalted, beatified.  And it was wrapped with a green silk ribbon--chocolate and ribbons? A girl can only take so much.  What made The King so so so so good was this delightful combination: brown butter and brown sugar cookie, peanut butter nougat, and fresh banana ganache. The list of ingredients informed us that the ganache is made with the local Ronnybrook Farms heavy cream.  The dude at Northern Spy told us this bar was so intense that it took him six days to eat it.  After the 72 seconds it took us to enjoy this candy, Helen called him a name I can't mention in polite company, but I can say, as Helen would, that The King is without a doubt, my jam.   
      A brief note on the bathroom: it was pink too, and pleasing.  It was one of those rooms you'd like to linger in a bit--the lighting is nice and you look good in the mirror.  You take your time with the soap and the washing and drying of the hands.  You admire the painting of a half naked lady titled "La Fornarina."

Joseph Leonard

170 Waverly Place (Grove St.)
Greenwich Village, (646) 429-8383

"Gabriel Stulman, once a manager and partner at the Little Owl and Market Table... makes the backward glance by naming his new restaurant after his grandfathers, Joseph and Leonard, whose portraits hang in vintage frames. The tables are set with cut-glass salt cellars and curlicued flatware. You get the feeling that if you walked by Joseph Leonard at the right time of day, you might spot the iceman" -- Pete Wells for The New York Times, 9.30.2009

Allegedly out-of-this-world hash browns, Grandfather love, and all the old-world decor notes that Adam Platt seems to think are out in 2010 -- put them together, and you have Joseph Leonard, our new destination brunch spot. Of special note: the egg sandwich ($12) combines a croissant, manchego cheese, and brussels sprouts drizzled with Sriracha. I'm there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vinegar Hill House

When I first moved to Brooklyn, one of my favorite little finds was the relatively abandoned Vinegar Hill neighborhood past Dumbo and the mysteriously romantic navy yard.  I've always loved a ghost town--abandoned things really get me going.  Think of all the history these empty homes and shops have and of all the promise they offer for renaissance.  The Vinegar Hill House opened amidst the vacant buildings over a year ago now, and I've wanted to go to there just as long.  I'd like to try the roasted octopus and the farmstead cheese and salami with homemade crackers to start.  Then I'd move on to the roasted pollack with brussel sprouts, pistachio, apple, and mint.  Or what about the beef cheeks wth chestnut honey?  Chestnut honey?  Yes, please.