Monday, November 22, 2010

Delicious Sweet Potato Fries From Maoz

Oh sweet fries! The last time I went to Maoz I carelessly left without ordering the Sweet Potato Fries because I didn't spot them on the menu which in turn gave me a somewhat empty feeling in my gut. Now I did have a very delicious Falafel Salad, thank goodness, and the empty feeling wasn't because my stomach was actually empty, it was simply that I'd had my mind set on eating the Fries as well. What it really comes down to is the simple fact that I am a dummy. Yup I'll admit it, I'm stupid. All I had to do was ask the cashier if they had them. Duh! Anyway on the next visit I noticed that the Sweet Potato Fries were actually on the menu and I'd simply just missed it (say it with me...I am an idiot! No not you, I meant me.) Well let's just say that along with a Falafel Salad I also ordered the Sweet Potato Fries and quickly forgave myself for the earlier blunder. Growing up my Mom always baked Sweet Potatoes for Thanksgiving and it annoyed the hell out of her that I refused to eat them everytime. I was a bit of a finicky eater as a kid and wouldn't eat certain foods because of the way they looked and to me orange potatoes looked and smelled funny, but I never actually tried them. I don't remember exactly when it was but when I did finally try a Sweet Potato, in French Fry form, I was completely hooked. Well actually I still won't eat the ones my Mom makes, she just needs to get over it already. So now when ever I have the chance to order the fries I do and often get very excited about it. Sweet Potato Fries will make you happy. They will put you at ease and make you more attractive. People who you don't even know will come up to you and want to be your friend. When you eat Sweet Potato Fries you will no longer have any worries and your boss will suddenly promote you for no apparent reason. Ok, so only the happy part is true but it sounded so good when I was writing it that I just couldn't stop. Sorry if I mislead some of you into thinking that Sweet Potato Fries are better than they actually are and can make you feel really good for eating them. Hey wait...that's actually the truth! At Maoz they serve up their delicious Fries in a paper cone which is perfect for eating on the go and also great for pretending to be a microphone if you also like to sing and eat at the same time...guilty as charged. And let me tell you, they don't cheap you on the serving either, it's a lot of Fries! Pour on some delicious Garlic or Yogurt sauce and you are good to go, just make sure you have plenty of napkins, after all sticking your face into the cone can get pretty messy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Early Reaction To NYC's Letter Grades For Cleanliness In Our Restaurants

Just recently I've started noticing the new restaurant grades that are supposed to be posted in the front windows of all restaurants, at least the ones that have been graded so far. Well let's just say I've seen some pretty interesting placements. First off no owner wants to be given a C because that means that major violations have been found in the restaurant. An example of a major violation? Food left out too long. Dirty floors. Fish and meat not kept at proper temperatures for storage, just to name a few. As stated in the guidlines, once a restaurant has received their grade they are to post the sign in a prominent place, preferrably the a front window so that customers can see it. So far every A that I have seen has been pretty easy to spot, not a surprise, one restaurant I saw even had it blown up into a larger sign. We got an A! Yeah! Anyway the C's have been a bit more troubling. Not to finger point but Mangia on 23rd St. got a big fat C and did actually post it in their front window, of course with a giant pine bush placed in front of it. How convenient and within the rules I guess. Restaurants do have a chance to fight the dreaded C and once the re-evaluation is in process they are able to take down their C and replace it with a sign that says grade pending. So I suggest that everyone be on the lookout for these signs to make sure we are not accepting a restaurant that has a C. Also let's hope that all these restaurants clean up their acts, so-to-speak, because we as consumers deserve the best possible product, shit we already pay enough for it as it is!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Shake Shack Grows In Brooklyn

Man! I just want one damn IN-N-OUT Burger! Well until that fateful day we have Shake Shack and reports are that a new one will open in Brooklyn early next year. Apparently SS will get a prime location at the Fulton Street Mall at the corner of Fulton and Adams. Wait, isn't Tony's Famous Pizza already on that corner? Yeah but Tony's will be moved to a new location to accomodate Mr. Meyer's burger joint. The Fulton Street Mall is currently under a major renovation project with lots of new and fancy stores joining in on the fun (gentrification anyone?) Of course not everyone is happy about it. Many of the current store owners feel like they are being pushed out, which they are, and see this as a bad sign. Who knew a burger could do so much damage...other than your intestines of course. 

Bacon Flavored Soda? You Gotta Be Kidding Me

Seattle based Jones soda asked 40 New Yorkers to taste test a new soda flavor the other day, simple enough you'd think, right? Well first let me say that half of the people asked turned down the offer flatly when they heard exactly what flavor they were being asked to try. What was that flavor? Bacon. Huh, what? Bacon as in pig? Yeah that's right. Why on Earth would anyone in their right mind want to drink Bacon soda? That's just gross. And that's what 19 of the 20 who actually tried it thought. Most said they felt like throwing up after just smelling it, not a good start. There was some baloney about the soda being vegetarian and kosher but who cares? I'd want to drink Bacon soda about as much as I'd like to try Pizza actually that exists too...see above. Stop the madness!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Is Ronald McDonald The One Making Your Kids Fat?

Artist Sally Davies decided one day to chronicle the decomposition of a McDonalds Happy Meal right in her kitchen by taking a photo of it each and every day until it rotted into oblivion. Well as you can see above on day 180, the meal is practically unchanged except for the fact that it was hard as a rock. Now I for one have never really thought about the significance of food going bad. Usually when my bread turns green I just toss it in the trash, but imagine what they put in that food that makes it repel Mother Nature? Maybe someone will start shooting it into their lips instead of Botox? Hmmm...On to an article I read today in AM New York about fast food and the rampant epidemic of obesity in today's children. The article discusses whether it's the parents or the over-suggestive advertising that is marketed towards the children that is to blame. I for one am a perfect person to debate this issue since I have two young ones who both love going to McDonalds. Now let me just say that I try to relegate the amount of trips to McDonalds to two times a month and honestly the kids desire to go only stems from what toys currently are being offered in the Happy Meals. That my friends comes from advertising. These fast food companies know that kids spend a ton of time in front of their televisions, usually watching cartoons like Spongebob or shows like iCarly, and think that it would be the perfect time to promote their product. Some part of me thinks that's truly brilliant advertising and the definition of what marketing is supposed to be, but as a parent of young children it makes me believe that there is also some evil at play. And when I say evil I don't mean some red dude with horns. What I do mean is a corporation who sits around all day crunching numbers devising ways to get kids to eat more kids meals. Ultimately as parents we are responsible for what our children eat and I still believe that it is up to us not to just simply give in. Then on the other hand we can't completely eliminate the bad food because eventually our children will be old enough to just buy it on their own. I remember when I was a kid my Mom wouldn't allow us to have any sugared cereals in our house and until my first sleep over I didn't think anything of it. But once I got my first taste of Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms at Mark Mitchell's house all I knew after that was that I wanted more of it.  It's a double-edged sword but as parents we have to be more accountable either way.
Here are some interesting statistics:

$4.2 Billion dollars was spent on advertising by the fast food industry in 2009

12 kids meals out of a total 3,039 were considered to be nutritional

84 percent of parents say they take their kids to eat fast food at least once a week (wow!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Great Chicken Sandwich At Goodburger? Who knew?

It actually doesn't look so pretty in the picture does it? No matter, it's the taste thats the key. Seemingly running out of choices that I felt like eating last week, I walked on in to Goodburger feeling a bit defeated that I couldn't come up with something new. Now if I had been hankering for a burger it would certainly have been a great choice even if I have already blogged about them before, but this time I was determined to try something else. Now I wasn't completely sure they actually had anything else so I reserved myself to the fact that I might have to end up with an order of Onion Rings to go, oh well. Thankfully I was relieved to see that they had a choice of either a Grilled or Crispy Chicken sandwich and I suddenly felt the urge to try the Crispy with the hopes that it wouldn't be some frozen board that they warmed up in the microwave. Of course completely unnecessary but delicious, I ordered a sack of Fries to go with my sandwich just in case the sandwich underwhelmed, you know so I wouldn't go hungry. The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped my sandwich was that the Chicken was very thick and stuck out from eaither side offering me a chance to take an un-altered bite of just the Chicken. All I could say! It was really good and high quality for that matter. Of course once I put it all together and took a bite with the bun and all the fixings I was completely satisfied. The Fries became secondary so I covered them in ketchup and ate them all really fast, nothing like warm Fries in a sack! So the next time you are near a Goodburger but don't want a burger, you now know that they have an extra delicious Chicken Sandwich to choose! However it does make me sad that there are no Chick-Fil-A stores in NYC because that's my absolute fave.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Picture Of The Ruben I Ate On Thursday

It's ok to be jealous...that's why I posted it. As I have stated before the Ruben is the greatest sandwich ever! This one came from the Soho Garden Deli on Thompson between Grand and Canal. Of course not nearly as good as the one from Katz, but any Ruben is better than no Ruben.

Sausage and Shrimp and Potato Teriyaki Balls...Oh My!

Those are my two new friends, Mimi and Coco, serving up really great Teriyaki Balls (like Dumplings) at their last street fair this year, so of course I made a special trip down to see them today! Just about a month ago I first tried their Balls at a fair that was right outside of my job and I was completely surprised at how good they were. So when I got down there today I saw that they had three kinds to choose from...Sausage, Shrimp and Potato and being as super nice as they are, Mimi and Coco let me try all three, how cool! They were also nice enough to pose for a quick photo for me but I got out of there so they could get back to helping their next customer (I had to get back to work too). Anyway back uptown I went, Teriyaki Balls firmly in my grasp, passing all the crappy choices that street fairs usually offer. A quick note...always look for better choices, you'll find them. Ahh the warm and delicious Balls. The Sausage was really my wait I loved the Shrimp...actually the Potato were fabulous! Make up your mind man! Ok I will, all three were really great and I am really happy that I was able to go and see Mimi and Coco today, well worth the trip. My stomach thinks so too.
Gratuitous Ball Shot

Thursday, November 4, 2010

That's A Spicy Little Candy!

Forget Red Hots, this is the spiciest candy I have ever had! After having lunch at Laut on 17th street a few days back I was given one of these little gems with the check. Now all in all I love the flavor of ginger but man this was like eating the root! It was gummy and had a hint of honey, but jeez that spice! I am ending every sentence with an exclamation point! Beware the ginger candy! 

Ruben's Empanadas: Feeding NYC Since 1975, Just Hold The Raisins

These are not yo momma's empanada's. Nor are they like the ones you'll find in the Cuchifritos (Hispanic Luncheonette) all over town where they are deep fried and golden. Not that those aren't great, because they are. Ruben's Empanada's hail from Argentina and come in a wide variety of choices. My personal fave is the one pictured on top, the Broccoli with Mozzarella and Ricotta, just add hot sauce. You also have the choice of regular or whole wheat dough which I think is really great even though I have only ever tried the regular. At $4.00 a piece it is rather reasonable but I do suggest buying two because you know I am just like that. So the other day when I was there I ordered one Broccoli and one Beef thinking those would be my favorite two choices. The Beef Empanada is flavored with various spices and has an occasional Raisin mixed in which I could have done without. Not that it's strange or anything but in certain parts of Italy people put Raisins in their Meatballs, however I do not much like that either but I was willing to give this a try. Of course the Broccoli and Cheese was great with a smattering of hot sauce and I finished it rather quickly. With the Beef I decided to take it a bit slower trying to savor the flavor a bit more and to see how much the Raisins would bother me. Let's just say that if I had known there were Raisins in it I wouldn't have ordered it. Now I don't want any of you thinking that I am anti-Raisin, because I am not, I believe in equal rights for all fruit, dried or not. On their own they are a delicious snack and can be exceptionally tasty in one of my Moms Oatmeal cookies or also in a Chunky candy bar (I love Raisinettes too!). Enough about the Raisins. Anyway I highly recommend Ruben's Empanadas which can be found in several locations around the city (I frequent the one at Thompson and Broome), so stop in for a tasty treat that is sure to warm your tummy, even if you order the Beef and don't like Raisins.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

POP Burger Coming Soon To University Place

I was walking down University Place yesterday and saw this in a storefront window and suddenly got excited. It was at the corner of University and 11th Street. Being that I have never tried POP Burger this will now give me an opportunity to sample their fine sliders and apparently now their fine coffee. So far their website mentions nothing about the shop but on the window it simple states 2011. I will be on the lookout.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Breaking The Starbucks Needle Off In My Vein

The only reason I know who this person is in the picture is because I have an 8 year old daughter and actually she doesn't even like Miley. Now I have no real reason to despise this child so I will steer clear of making any snide comments about her personally or professionally. What I will comment on is that lovely cup in her hands and how silly people can be when it comes to buying a cup of coffee. Apparently when Miley posted this pic of herself on Twitter (which she apparently no longer uses) she had previously been wandering the streets of NY trying to find a Starbucks location. In her tweet she stated...thank god for GPS. Hmmm...guess she didn't think to check where the locations were before she started wandering around. First let me just say that this is F***ing New York City and there are literally thousands of choices for good coffee here within a few block radius wherever you happen to be standing. This is a byproduct of a much larger picture. Miley is from Nashville where her daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus, made a name for himself singing 'Achy Brakey Heart' (No Comment), and Nashville has many less choices to get a good cup of coffe than NYC. Less people = Less Choices. With that mindset the bar is set much much lower and the convenience of the drivethru Starbucks far outweighs whether there is better or cheaper coffee to be had. And this can relate to any food for that matter. Applebee's, Friday's, Outback you name it, name recognition can go a long way, and that's not saying that those establishments aren't successful here in NY because they are (also a topic I have already covered). I don't want to beat a dead horse but if there is one mantra that all New Yorkers live by it's choice. So that takes me back to the picture of Miley or Hanna Montana, whatever you prefer. She's in the largest city in the world with more choices in a 12 block radius than the whole of Nashville and she gets excited about going to Starbucks. But that's not her fault, she's been trained that way,  thinking convenience or familiarity over quality. And with that I say bye bye to my good friend Starbucks. I'm cutting the cord, or as I like to say I'm disconnecting the IV. It's time for me to find a new friend, one that doesn't have overly cool people with black aprons working behind the counter already knowing my order as I walk through the door....that of course is until I take a trip outside of New York to a place that has a drivethru Starbucks, how convenient!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sunrise Mart, A Japanese Market On Broome Street

I don't know about you but that picture above gets me excited. Ok I realize that sounds ridiculous but for someone like me who lives for the little things in life (because I can't afford the big things) Sunrise Mart is where my dreams come true (That's also a silly statement but I liked the sound of it). A lovely little Japanese market right in the heart of SOHO and luckily real close to my companies main office. I can't say that I stumbled upon it, because I didn't, my goofball boss happened to be eating some soup from there one day and told me I should go. Now I am a huge fan of everything Japanese when it comes to the cuisine...except for Sushi. I know what you are going to say, there is no Japanese cuisine without Sushi blah blah blah, but you are wrong. There's lots of other great stuff for weirdos like me to nosh on. For instance the wonderful Soba Noodle Soup with Shrimp Tempura that you see in the photo. And of course no meal is complete without an order of Edamame and no I don't like to share the delicious salted soybeans. Then I topped it off with an Orangina? That's not very Japanese...oh well I really like it. Well the Soba Noodle soup was extra delicious and I dunked the Shrimp Tempura into the broth....yummy! A perfect little meal for the chilly days ahead. Be sure to visit Sunrise Mart because they offer a whole lot more. Like already prepared meals, Japanese candies and snacks, loads of drink choices and many many interesting little trinkets, but the food is why I go.    

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How Do You Eat A Sandwich That's As Big As Your Head?

One huge bite at a time. Actually you eat one half and save the other for dinner, two meals for a total of $8.50! The other day while working downtown I was tasked with the job of picking up some spicy Sopressata and Italian bread to bring home for dinner. During my lunch hour I ran over to Aleva (on Grand and Mulberry) to pick up the Sopressata then on to Parisi Bakery (Mott just above Kenmare) to pick up my favorite 'Three Meat Bread', which is currently making my stomach growl at the thought of it. I'd always known that Parisi made sandwiches but I didn't expect there to be a huge line that trailed out onto the sidewalk...what a bummer. I thought maybe I could jump the line and just pick up the bread at the counter, but from the look of the patient patrons on line I am sure one of them would have gutted me like a pig if I attempted to do so. Back of the line I went to watch the extremely slow sandwich makers cater to all the people ahead of me. You know what? It was a blessing in disguise and I decided why not get a sandwich while I was there...oh yeah! Ideas fluttered inside my head. Salami, Turkey, Bologna, Onions, Sweet Peppers, Fresh Mozzarella...Fresh Mozzarella. I had to have Fresh Mozarella on my sandwich. Just then one of the guys behind the counter plopped a gigantic sandwich, filled with what looked like heaven, right in front of me, the bastard! I had to have one. Inside was Breaded Chicken Cutlets, Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Peppers, Oil and Vinegar all on a huge Semolina least that's what I deducted. It was by far the largest single, non-party sandwich I have ever seen. "Next!" The guy behind the counter yelled and quickly I scooted forward to tell him I would have the same as the guy before me. He replied with "works everytime", to which I said "What works?" So Naive. He said that almost everyone orders the same thing when they see that sandwich getting wrapped on the counter. Who cares I thought, as long as it's good, oh yeah and I need a loaf of bread. That was one heavy bag! That sandwich must have weighed like 10lbs. or something close to it and I was raring to get my chompers onto it (into it?). When I finally sat down and unwrapped the monstrosity from the paper I sat in complete awe of it's enormity. Was this thing in front of me really a sandwich? Was it akin to a football player on steroids? Was it going to eat me instead? Of course I could only finish a half, it took way too much energy to get my mouth around the whole thing, I kind of felt like a mini-person. Actually I was a little embarrassed sitting there in the lunch room fearing my fellow employees might think I am a bit ridiculous for eating a sandwich that large. I'm a little ridiculous every once in a while. Not feeling too defeated, I re-wrapped the other half of the sandwich, something I had never done my entire life, and placed it back in the bag from which it had previously come. Ok I felt really defeated, but honestly it was so delicious that I guess it didn't matter afterall. I am happy to report that the other half was just as delicious when I ate it for dinner but it didn't completely wipe away the disappointment from earlier in the day. Oh well!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting Social At The Stanton Social, Oh And Warm Doughnuts

My night started of with a Basil-Lime Gimlet and ended with Warm I need to say anymore? I don't get down to the Lower East Side often enough to sample it's wears but when I do it's always a pleasure. The occasion was work related and The Stanton Social was picked by one of my fellow employees, what a great choice! Located at 99 Stanton Street, the restaurant with it's very unassuming frontage rests just one block below Houston right near Katz Delicatessen (Best Deli in NYC). The thing about the LES is that there are so many hidden gems in places that you would never think to look, that's why it is so intriguing to be down there and makes me realize that I need to visit there more often. We met a fellow collegue upstairs in the lounge, already drinking of course, and waited patiently for the rest of our party to show up. In front of him was a Basil-Lime Gimlet in a martini glass that looked and smelled fabulous, so of course I had to have one even if my boss called it a girly drink. Sorry I don't care if it looked girly, it tasted damn good and I had four of them! On to the dining. Being a Monday evening at 6:00 pm the place was completely empty, but looks can be deceiving. Within moments the place was completely packed. The volume was cranked up high with music and conversation as our server brought us plate after plate of delicious tapas. Oh yeah did I mention that this was a tapas place? Anyway here is the list of the samplings that we were served in no particular order:

Lobster Rolls
Kobe Beef Sliders (with homemade sourcream and onion potato chips scattered on the plate)
French Onion Soup Dumplings (Wow!)
Baby Spinach Salad (Not a tapa, but damn good)
Red Snapper Tacos (ate them even though I don't eat fish)
Chicken N' Waffles
Braised Short Rib Soft Tacos (Very spicy)
Rosemary and Honey Glazed Parsnips (Not so good)
Herb Dusted French Fries
and some Octopus dish that I didn't eat  

They were all very good but with 7 people we could have had a few more dishes, or let me say I could have eaten a few more dishes. Somehow my attention diverted to the fact that I was only one block south of Katz and could easily stop in and get a Pastrami on Rye, that was until they handed me the dessert menu. First choice on top was Warm Doughnuts, nothing else, and that was all I needed to see, I was hooked. The only problem? There were 6 other people at the table and we had already shared everything else. People and desserts are funny. I don't often eat dessert at home, once in a while a piece of fruit or an Italian Ice. But there is just something silly about people eating dessert amongst others at a restaurant, I guess no one wants to be seen as being gluttonous or perceived as over-indulgent...not me of course. If I feel like eating something sweet at someone elses expense I most certainly will! Back to my Doughnuts...more like warm balls with Sugar, served in a bowl with the choice of Caramel, Chocolate and some kind of Berry Sauce for dipping. No sharing here. Ok I gave one away but that was asking a lot. Pastrami no longer necessary. So I highly recommend The Stanton Social and would love to visit again to try all the little dishes I didn't get a chance to eat the first time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Vesuvio Bakery In Soho, It's Not The Original But It Sure Looks Like It

Oh cookies. Sweet delicious yummy in my tummy cookies piled high in a storefront so I have to stop in and buy some. And that's what happened yesterday walking thru SOHO when I passed Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street. Well actually it's not Vesuvio at all, it's actually The Birdbath Bakery created by The City Bakery's founder Maury Rubin. The original Vesuvio closed a couple of summers ago after almost 90 years in the neighborhood, pretty sad indeed, and it had been feared by many that someone would come along and open up a Chipotle or something. Thankfully Mr. Rubin decided to leave the original facade keeping an historic sight from being torn down and forgotten. Back to the cookies. There's nothing like seeing a gigantic stack of delicious cookies in a window to make you salivate even before you have eaten lunch. So what. Inside the quaint little shop there were plenty of tasty offerings but I had my mind set, one Chocolate Chip and one Oatmeal, $5 bucks please...yikes! Ok they were oversized but the price made me expect an amazing treat. They weren't amazing, they were ok, maybe better than ok, I certainly ate them both however. I guess it wasn't what I expected but as the saying goes...never judge a book by it's cover, or a bakery from it's storefront.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Because Of Manzo Eataly Gets Another Shot

There was no way I could have known I would be back inside Eataly so soon after my first visit, especially since I wasn't overly thrilled with the experience. When it comes to food however you just never know. So when a friend said that she wanted to give the place a try I said sure why not, I've done worse things in life. What a difference between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. One of my biggest complaints was how much awkward space there seemed to be and how arbitrarily things seemed to be placed inside the shop. Well that all changed with a little bit more business. The place was packed to the gills and it felt like a real marketplace! It's amazing how my perception could change so much in just one visit. Anyway our goal was to sit down and eat at one of the restaurants, of which we chose Manzo (Meat in Italian), but they only had two seats at the bar because they were so busy. No problem we thought and sat down quickly. After a quick look at the menu, and a few questions for the bartender, I chose the Roasted Vegetable Salad and the Sausage Papardelle as my entree. First off what great choices! The salad was really delicious with lots of sweet flavors and it had the most amazing sauce that I don't remember what it was called. Who cares, it was great! The Sausage Papardelle, while a bit salty, was very tasty and just the right serving size for lunch. I especially liked the addition of Radicchio to the pasta dish. While it was a bit pricey I will say that the flavor and the quality kind of sorta made up for was easier to handle when it was expensed as a business lunch. The only way to go. As I said in my earlier post about Eataly I thought that the place was a work in progress and that feeling hasn't changed, only now I have something to recommend.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hurry! Watermelon Drink And Pork Buns Before It's Too Late!

Before it gets too cold outside I mean. Normally a summertime favorite, the Watermelon Ice drink at Tai Pan Bakery in Chinatown is fabulous refreshment. And no visit to Tai Pan is complete without 4 or 6 or 8(or 12) of their scrumptious BBQ Pork Buns, at least that's what my wife tells me, which I also happen to agree with(because I have to). So it was purely by chance the other day that I turned the corner onto Canal Street, smelling the stench of fish and suddenly feeling ill, that I pushed open the doors to Tai Pan for a breather. What a relief! As usual the hustle and bustle was upon me, pushing me to the back where the yummy buns(insert joke if you like) were lined up like a battalion waiting to be conquered, Vive Le France!(I don't know why I said that but it sounded good). A wonderfully plesant and helpful girl came out from the back and said..."What you want?" Six buns later I was standing at the counter with my tray waiting for them to take my money. "What you have?" The lady behind the counter said so eloquently. While standing there being pushed from behind by gnomish Chinese ladies, I had decided that I wanted a Watermelon drink even though the calendar said it was October. "You want one with ice? You know it's cold right?" Yes I know ice is cold, thanks. Anyway a few moments later I walked out the door, icy drink in one hand and Pork Bun filled sack in the other...heaven...except I was back amongst the stinky fish smell. Quickly I high-tailed it out of there and headed for work where I would plow through a couple of buns and finish my drink. To rub it in my wife's face I called her up and slurped the drink in her ear then hung up as to say ha, can't have none. Of course I had to call her back and apologize but it was well worth it. Still warm when I pulled one out to eat it, the Pork Buns were as delicious as always. The tasty Pastry filled with BBQ Pork and sliced Onions is a conflict of flavors in your mind but not in your mouth(sounds familiar). Surprisingly filling, I'd only just bitten into my second one when my tummy said...'Ok mister, put down the bun and step away from the table.' It was good while it lasted. No worries, I'd eat one on the train ride home I thought, leaving just enough for my wife to forgive my rudeness on the phone earlier in the day.

Pure love in your tummy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So I Went To Eataly And Wasn't Very Impressed...Sorry Mario

My Mom wouldn't stop talking about Mario Bataly's new market, Eataly, that just opened up near Madison Square Park, and how much she wanted to go there. Of course that meant in order to make her stop I had to take her there so she could spend a ridiculous amount of money on a ridiculously small amount of food...well I guess that wouldn't be all that bad. I'd heard from lots of people how great it was. 'Oh the pizza is soooo delicious!' 'The place is really beautiful and they have lots of great food.' Forgive me if I took it all with a grain of salt. I am no Mario Bataly fan and think that he is a bit of a food snob when it comes to Italian dishes, meaning that he only considers what he likes when it comes to the cuisine. I remember watching his short lived Food Network cooking challenge chef school or whatever it was...where he tutored young chefs in one of his restaurants kitchens. Anyway to make a long story short one of the youngsters made a traditional appetizer dish of Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil and Mario basically laughed at him and said that they don't make that....Hmmm, I believe pretty much every Italian place I have ever been to actually sells some version of the Caprese Salad, and who doesn't love a Caprese Sandwich? Snobbery I tell you. Well when it was announced that the fat redheaded one was opening up his own market I wasn't overly thrilled and didn't make it a point to rush over to see it. But some part of me was still curious. Appropriately on the day we decided to go, rain was falling outside as my Mother, my Sister and I walked thru the 23rd Street entrance to Eataly (very cartoonish name btw), and were first greeted by the absolutely dwarfish Vegetable section, it looked like an afterthought. And that may be my prevailing thought on the whole really looks like not much thought was put into the arrangement of the store like they haphazardly placed things wherever they fit (which may have been on purpose of course). There also seemed to be a lot of empty space or too much space was dedicated to tables for the restaurants. Basically I think the place has an identity crisis...what is it? A place to shop and eat? Or is it a place to eat and shop? Get my meaning here...It seems like it wants to be a quality filled marketplace that has specific sections for all kinds of great foods with places to eat alongside. I just think that the market part of it is lacking. Not surprisingly it is pricey but I expected that, I just thought there would be more. However as we left with one bag of groceries for a grand total of almost $90 bucks, I thought maybe it was a work in progress. Maybe all that room inside is for growth and the opportunity to mix it around a bit. What I also thought was that I am sure people will give their opinions and changes will happen over time like a real marketplace a la Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. In the most recent issue of New York Magazine they have a two page spread on the place and part of me was expecting them to gush about Eataly's wonderment, but to my surprise they did not. They also did not talk much about the actual market deciding to focus primarily on the restaurants which went from 1 star to 5 in the reviewers opinion. Suffice it to say it just might be awhile before I step back in there to give it another try. Gourmet Garage here I come!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fast Food, Where It All Began

Did you know that White Castle started in Wichita, KS? Or that Seven Eleven was originally called the Southland Ice Company? No? If not click the link above to read about the beginnings of some of America's most famous Fast Food joints and to find out all the interesting tidbits of info...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mimi & Coco's Yummy Teriyaki Balls, Sounds A Bit Gross But It Wasn't

Those are the tasty balls that the nice little Japanese girls gave me at the street fair today...oh come on, get your mind out of the gutter! Out in front of work today is an extremely crowded street fair that offers up some of the most bad-for-you-food in the city. It's usually fast and simple so you can carry it around with you. Sausage and Peppers carts. Gyro stands. Delicious golden Arrepas. All good enough to give you cardiac arrest right on the spot. So after walking about the area stretching my legs at lunch today I strolled thru the fair with a bit of a growl in my belly, however I wasn't looking for anything crappy. Not an easy task indeed. And if it weren't for Mimi & Coco's Japanese Dumpling Stand I think I would have returned to work with that growl cursing my existence. There wasn't actually much of a choice, Pizza Dumplings or Teriyaki Dumplings. I don't know about you but I am not eating anything called a Pizza Dumpling at a Japanese food stand, this is New York City afterall. So I chose the Teriyaki Pork Dumplings which the girl quickly loaded into a styrofoam container, brushed on some sauce, sprinkled some crunchy things and added some chopped Almonds all for only $5 bucks, what a deal! Hardly enough to completely satisfy the growl, the Dumplings were a very tasty snack that I would choose again if I had the chance. Only next time I will double the order. Check out MimiandCoco_NY on Twitter to see where they will be next.

Rainy Days Call For Soup At Hale & Hearty

I think it has pretty much rained for three days straight and something inside of me soup, eat soup you fool! Ok the fool part was for dramatic effect but it sure sounded cool. Anyway...I like soup all year round, I'm weird like that. Hot, cold, rain, snow...doesn't matter, if I want it I get it. I will admit however that a rainy day sure does make me crave a warm cup of soup. So off I went to Hale & Hearty on 17th Street near Union Square, a place I had never been but I'd always heard really good things about their soups.  As rain pelted me from all angles I entered the shop at the height of the lunch hour and it was packed. No worries, the line moved pretty quickly. As usual with me I wasn't sure how filling just a cup of soup was going to be and considered adding a sandwich...I was very confused. After looking over the soup choices I managed to land on the Asparagus, Potato and Leek Soup and a pack of Hale & Hearty's own Oyster Crackers (Oyster Crackers are a complete necessity when eating soup). While waiting for a free cashier I stood looking at all their pre-made sandwiches nicely arranged in the case. There were all kinds but I just couldn't pull the trigger...whimp. Back into the rain. Funny thing is that I contemplated getting something else all the way back to Apple? A Banana?  A large slice of Cheesecake? Oh well, it would be just the Soup. Thankfully it was really great and the nice flow of crackers into the cup really helped, amazingly I was also pretty full. I have one question though...what is it about Asparagus that makes our pee smell so funny? I'd never really paid attention to it before but after eating this Soup I was like whew!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Danny Meyer's Tabla To Close On December 30th

Here is a link to a story from NBC that talks of the soon-to-be closed Danny Meyer restaurant Tabla at 11 Madison Avenue. It has been 12 years since they have opened their doors with much hoopla and critical acclaim, however it appears they have succumbed to the current economic climate. Click the link to find out more.

The Michelin Guide For NYC Announces Award Winners For This Year

What the hell does a tire company have to do with the restaurants of New York City? Appearently they put out a restaurant guide, kind of like Zagat, that tells you where to eat and I guess it's pretty prestigious. The guide has just awarded 21 New York eateries with the moniker 'Bib Gourmand' which signifies that the restaurants serve two courses and a glass of wine for $40 bucks. So far 95 restaurants in the metropolitan area have won this distinction and if you are interested in reading more about it please click on the link below to read the full story from the Daily News...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thai Son Vietnamese...Ahh The Memories

Oh man that looks so good! Prior to 1999 I had never eaten any Asian food other than Chinese and Japanese (barely any Japanese), and basically as a typical American there were only a few dishes that I ever even tried. It wasn't until the summer of that year, when I met my wife, that I was introduced to a whole new world. Why you say? My wonderful wife, who happens to have been born in Hong Kong, is Chinese, and she took it upon herself to show me the so-called ropes when it came to Asian cuisine. Great I thought, someone to guide me thru it and someone who was pretty darn cute to boot! A win win as they say. You see the Chinese think we are all a bunch of whimps when it comes to eating certain foods. I for one am a huge whimp and am not ashamed to admit it (my wife makes fun of me all the time), and man do they eat some scary looking stuff, but I won't really get into that. On one of our very first dates that summer she took me to a Malaysian Restaurant called Nyonya on Grand Street, I certainly didn't know what to expect, but the place was packed with non-Asians...good I thought. Let's just say the most memorable part of the meal was the pink sweater she was wearing (she looked fabulous btw), because I try as hard as I can to block out the food that I saw that night. They were serving up scary looking creatures with lots of bones sticking out in all directions (ok thats a bit of an exaggeration but like I said I've blocked it out), suffice it to say I went home really hungry. Then she introduced me to Dim Sum which was a smashing success. Lots of tasty little appetizers filled with Pork and Shrimp and other stuff, it was really fun, but to this day I still get hung up on her eating Chicken Feet in front of me, gross. Anyway then came a broadened Japanese palate and even a dabble into Thai food which she never really had eaten either. However it wasn't until she brought me to a Vietnamese place that I finally found my calling...eating Vietnamese, it was meant to be. Above all others I truly preferred the variety of flavors and dishes at our favorite place Thai Son at 89 Baxter Street, and quickly we became regulars, frequenting the place three times a week. I couldn't get enough. I really enjoyed the way that they brought everything out in a jumble, sometimes the appetizers coming after the main course, and the general disinterest the servers had for the customers was always a real treat! Seriously though the food was great and it was really cheap. Sadly all good things must come to an end as they say. In 2001 we moved out west to Phoenix, due to a job transfer, and we had to say goodbye to our favorite place...a sad day indeed. Time passed very slowly indeed but as luck would have it the winds of change would find us again and return us back home in 2007. Back where we belonged, even if it was to New Jersey (sorry Jersey you ain't NYC), but back nonetheless. Fast Forward to a couple of weeks ago.

Of course time changes everything including habits, so it should come as no surprise that since we have been back we have only gone to Thai Son twice, a shame I know. So the other day while working downtown, my stomach grumbling as usual, I thought why not eat there? So I ran over to Baxter Street (the man punted Baxter! Anchorman reference) and ordered a few things to go. It was actually really cool to be back there but I wasn't used to standing there without my wife...weird. Anyway back to work I went with my delicious meal in a plastic baggy and all I could think about was how good it was gonna taste and if I should tell my wife that I ate there without her (tough one). First up were the Vietnamese Summer Rolls filled with Shrimp, Pork, Rice Vermicelli, Cilantro and Lettuce (I think) with a side of Peanut Sauce. Mmmmmm good! For my main dish I chose the Grilled Pork and Spring Rolls over Rice Vermicelli with a smal cup of the Vietnamese National Fish Sauce...better tasting than it sounds I promise. It's always better to sit and eat at the restaurant and I certainly didn't want to do that alone, but taking it to go was better than nothing. Thankfully it was still as good as I remembered and gave me more than enough reason to come back sooner than later. Besides there are like five other dishes that I need to make sure still taste like they used too...can't wait.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is The Reuben The Mecca Of All Things Sandwich?

Back when I was 13 me and my friends used to work at a nearby golf course as caddies during the summer, carrying rich peoples golf bags for close to four hours a day. Hard work. Afterwards, fresh with a lump of hard earned cash in our pockets, we'd walk into town and head to our local deli to order gut-busting sandwiches for lunch. My weapon of choice was usually a Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato and Mayo on a hero or what we called a 'Wedge', to which I would add a bag of BBQ chips and a large bottle of Coca-Cola. My two friends, Peter and Larry (attached at the hip) always liked to one-up each other by ordering something different each day, a sort-of anything you can eat I can do better (?) kind of thing. Mostly I just ignored them both because they're act usually became a bit tiresome, besides I needed to concentrate on my own sandwich. Anyway one fine late summer day, as schools were getting close to opening, the boys introduced me to a sandwich that consisted of Rare Roast Beef (the redder the better baby) and Cole Slaw on Rye. At first I was a bit skeptical because up until that point I had never really had Cole Slaw or Roast Beef for that matter, but it was the fact that the sandwich was on Rye bread that caused me to have the most pause. You see we were always looking for the biggest pieces of bread we could find. Gigantic rolls that could have sailed the seven seas just like a submarine, so it went against all our unwritten rules to request puny little slices of Rye bread. However I relented and I was sure glad I did.  For years after that day, whenever I would order that sandwich, it would happily bring me back to my days at Bedford Golf & Tennis even if it did make me think of Peter and Larry. How was I to know it would open me up to a much grander world? Not quite as easy to remember is how exactly I got turned onto an actual Reuben. Was it at Katz? Was it just dumb luck? Perhaps, but the rest is history. It is in fact my favorite sandwich of all time. Now I am talking about a real Reuben, not a Rachel Reuben or a Roast Beef Reuben (the original sandwich that I was first introduced to). The Reuben that was first created in.....New York? Or was it Omaha, Nebraska? Nebraska, really? Well actually there are conflicting reports so no one is really sure. The sandwich dates back to at least the early 20's (whether it's NY or Neb), so it is basically an American institution at this point. A traditional Reuben is made with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese and Russian or Thousand Island dressing and often times is grilled kind of like a Panini. Some people substitute the Corned Beef for Pastrami, also incredibly delicious, but that lead to the Rachel which uses Pastrami and Cole Slaw instead of the Sauerkraut. All good. I don't exactly remember why I started thinking about this, maybe it was a dream, or quite possibly it was my blogging friend Keri over at , her wonderful blog dedicated to the worlds greatest invention, the sandwich. All I know is that every time I read it I start craving for sandwiches...thanks Keri. Oh and thank you Reuben, you are the best (the sandwich, not the person).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Murray's Bagels Vs. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company

Those are the two combatants....Murray's on the left and Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on the right. Ok first off Murray's has the early edge because their name is shorter and easier to remember, maybe I should call the other one BB&CC to make this whole writing thing a bit easier on my brain. I am still a bit confused however that there are actually two Murray's bagels and not too far from each other either, one on 8th Ave and one on 6th Ave, but I have yet to confirm their relation (Both are owned by guys named Pomerantz, Matt and Adam and it would be easy to assume they are brothers, however they have separate websites and don't mention the other...very strange). The one I refer to is the one on 8th between 22nd and 23rd because that's the one I have been to. BB&CC, on the other hand, is just up the street on 8th between 24th and 25th making this the perfect comparison due to closeness of proximity. Both places offer traditional style bagels which are hand-rolled making the bagels less uniform. The biggest difference between the two places? Size. BB&CC's are over-sized and bulbous, so much so that the hole is pretty much not a hole. How do they accomplish this? They add a bit more yeast into the bagel so it plumps up extra high, and I know this because I worked in a bagel shop back in my high school days many moons ago...that's what we did, so it's nothing new. Ultimately it all comes down to the flavor and both places are right on par with each other. However in my book BB&CC's were just a bit tastier, but that is no slight on Murray's because they are a fine example of a great NYC bagel.

On top is a Murray's Whole Wheat Sesame with Vegetable Cream Cheese and on the bottom is BB&CC's non-Whole Wheat version, just a regular Sesame. Of course when you add Cream Cheese it changes the flavor of the bagel, so just comparing the two this way wouldn't be a true test. Just like Pizza, you gotta eat a plain butter, no nothing (referring to a plain slice of Pizza not a slice with butter...duh). I will say that the Coffee at BB&CC was also very delicious but we're not comparing Coffee here. Anyway I would be quick to recommend both of these Bagel joints because they were highly satisfactory and wonderfully uphold the high standards that we New Yorkers have when it comes to good Bagels. I believe it's something in the water...  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hill Country Chicken Is The Best Fried Chicken I've Ever Had!!!

Ok that is probably an over-statement but I am no Fried Chicken expert, all I know is that damn bird was juicy! For weeks earlier this summer I walked up Broadway past the corner of 25th street and wondered what exactly was happening inside because it was under construction and all they had on the door was the image of a Chicken. So the other day when I was reading the blog Midtown Lunch (great by the way) they mentioned that this place called Hill Country Chicken had just opened and it was the same exact place I had been passing. Early reports were that it was good but expensive and the wait was a bit too long with lines out the door. Well it's all true. In fact I waited on that long ass line today which stretched out to the corner. A little daunting yes, but it was worth the wait. I'd prepared myself by checking out their menu online and read about the history of the recipe blah, blah, blah. I am not going to go into it here I just want to talk about the food. First off the place smells and looks wonderful. It's retro, reclaimed kinda vibe really adds to the effect and was actually a pleasure. There was also lots of room to roam with numerous tables scattered about, so staying there to eat didn't seem so far fetched even though I took it to go.

I will say one thing about paying $5.50 for a Chicken Breast, $2.75 for a Drum, $2.50 for a small Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and $1.00 for a will certainly not over-eat at this place. It was definitely starch overload and I continue to think that I should have gotten the Cole Slaw to counteract the affect. Oh well back to the Chicken. There are two options when it comes to the Chicken, Hill Country Classic Style or Mama Els' Recipe, and of the two the Hill Country Classic was better. It was juicy and flavorful and like I said, it was the best Fried Chicken I have ever eaten. Not that the Mama Els' was bad or anything, it wasn't, but it was certainly not as good. Now the words Cheesy Fried Mashed Potatoes are enough to make anyones knees buckle, so you know I had to order it and I have to say they did not disappoint. The Buttermilk Biscuit was way to good, I mean I could've eaten like twelve of them and it would have cost me the same as my entire meal, but I'm glad I didn't. So do you think I liked it or what? Of course I did but I won't be going there too often. Not only is it pricey but it is still Fried food afterall, you can't eat that stuff every day, if you do well you'll be poor and dead. Not too promising.