Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peking Duck House: What If I Don't Like Duck?

I certainly wasn't going to tell this guy I didn't eat duck, I was afraid he might have gone into a rage and chopped me up with his gigantic cleaver, so I kept it quiet. It was interesting to watch however. Another day another meal on the company at Peking Duck House at 28 Mott Street in Chinatown. This time it was a company lunch and my boss led us to this destination but I wasn't complaining. Now I have a unique perspective on Asian fare in the Chinatown area since I am married to a wonderful Chinese woman. She feels that most restaurants in that area strictly cater to the tourists so we don't often eat there. It's much like eating Italian food in little Italy, it's good but if you want authentic you go to Brooklyn or the Bronx. So when my boss said where we were going I was a little skeptical of his choice and thought that maybe I should suggest another location, then again I do write a food blog so it was better not to say anything and just give it a try. Of course everyone else wanted the duck, so I felt a bit left out but fortunately we ordered several other dishes so I wouldn't leave hungry. We got General Tso's Chicken, Chicken and Broccoli, Sauteed Prawns with Ginger and Scallions and House Special Fried Rice. I also ordered a Wonton Soup because to me the quality of the Wontons usually gives an indication of how good the restaurant will be. Before the soup arrived we were served an appetizer sampling of a Spring Roll, a Steak Skewer and a Steamed Dumpling which I ate rather fast but was underwhelmed nonetheless, very ordinary. The soup was similarly disappointing, not that I didn't pick up the bowl and drink the whole thing, but the Wontons were average. The problem with the Wontons was their wrapping, it was too thick and it over powered the filling. You will find similar Wontons at all the fast food Chinese places in the city. After watching everyone else gush about the fabulous Duck the waiter brought over the other dishes and overall not too bad. The Fried Rice was the stand out and tasted super fresh with lots of Peas, Eggs, Onions and delicious pieces of various meats, it was too bad I had to share otherwise I would have eaten the whole plate. General Tso's Chicken has always been a favorite of mine, there just wasn't enough of it, so I only had a couple of pieces which were good. Chicken and Broccoli is Chicken and's never fantastic but I had my fair share. The Sauteed Prawns were very interesting and I really liked the taste of them but it seemed that I was the only one who did. Overall a satisfactory experience but not a place I will be visiting again mostly because there are so many better options in the city plus the guy with the cleaver was eyeballing me on the way out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cake & Shake: A Yummy New Cart In Washington Square

So I read this little article about a new food cart opening up in Washington Square Park that charged $3 bucks for a cupcake and I was immediately intrigued. If someone has the nerve, the unmitigated gall to charge that much for a cupcake, it must be good and worth my patronage. After checking out the Cake & Shake website I decided there was no time like the present to join in on the excitement and head down to the park for a taste. But when I got cart! I immediately pulled out my iPhone (gratuitous plug to show how cool I am) and checked to see what their schedule was becuase I thought it was 9 to 9, 7 days a week. To my surprise I was completely right, but where were they? Extremely disappointed I moved on because I actually had something to do for work. Later on in the day, once I was finished with my work errand, I passed back through the area to see if the cart had appeared and luckily there it was, right on the north east corner of Washington Square Park just like it said it would be. So I moseyed on over with a boyish grin to find that I wasn't the only one with a hankering for some sweets and stood at the back of the three person line. Jeez. Anyway I was directed to the menu board on the side of the truck and it was explained to me that at the top were the 5 selections for the day but unfortunately the shake machine was malfunctioning. I assumed that this was the reason for their late start to the day but I decided that it wouldn't dampen my spirit. I settled on the Warm Glow cupcake which is made with Spiced Cake (Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Allspice), Carrot Pastry Cream, Golden Raisin and Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Walnuts...I know my mouth is watering too and I already had one! The first thing I noticed about the cupcake, other than the fact that it made my legs weak, was the fact that the cake part was so damn good. Normally cupcakes can be a bit sub-standard when it comes to it's underside with all the focus being put on the toppings, usually just a fluffy, not-so-flavorful lump of cake actually. But here it's a standout that accentuates the delicious aforementioned ingredients just above. And that frosting, oh my goodness. Sharing is not an option my friends so be prepared to buy more than one if you have company. Cake & Shake uses 100% organic ingredients in all of their cupcakes. All of the paper products that are used are 100% recycled plus their plastic products, which are made from corn, are completely biodegradeable. On the presentation front, the carts artwork, as well as the artwork on their packaging, is really fabulous and was designed by David Heatley ( Please check out their website for more information at

Please be sure to check out my other blog at:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rosa Mexicano: Loving The Guacamole!

It's kind of their thing. They want to roll that Guacamole cart over to your table so they can show off even before you sit down. Of course you are going to order the Guacamole, it goes without saying, at least that's what I do every time I go to Rosa Mexicano. Housed in what was once known as the restaurant America and showcased in a scene from Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues, this fine eatery serves up some of the best (non-traditional) Mexican food in the city and luckily it's right next to where I work. Not that I go often, it's a bit pricey for frequent visits so usually I save it for times when I can use my company credit card, you know for business...So as I was sitting down for lunch with a client yesterday I excitedly watched one of the Guacamole specialists whip up a (small) fresh batch for our consumption. It's certainly not the best Guac I have ever had, I make my own tasty concoction at home, but it's all about the presentation and the freshness. Too often however it is all gone right before my eyes because I have relentlessly dipped as many tortilla chips as possible without taking a moment to pause, I simply don't want to
share with anyone else! No not really, I just wish the serving was a bit bigger. What's funny is that I don't even consider the other appetizers as a possibility becuase I am always so focused on the chips and Guacamole. Sadly it eventually runs out and I have to eat something else, so I ordered the the Mexican Club Torta which comes with a side of extra delicious Sweet Potato Fries. By the time the sandwich was served I was a bit full from all the Guac plus I'd already had two cokes, not a good combo if I was still looking to enjoy the rest of my meal. Surprisingly it had little effect on my enjoyment of the Torta which was extra delicious. It's a pressed sandwich, like a panini, with Ham, Grilled Chicken, Bacon, Pickled Jalapenos, Avacado, Chihuahua Cheese and a Black Bean-Chipotle Sauce all on a focaccia like bread. It was a belt buster day for sure. Rosa Mexicano has 3 locations in NYC, plus several others around the country. For more info please check out their website at:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hike, Pig Out, Then Hike Back Home Says New Yorker

Manhattan trainer Melissa Delancey says pig out, then take hike from restaurant after

...I thought this was an interesting article in the paper today. Click the link to read it and see what you think.

Waiting And Waiting On Line For A Sandwich At Alidoro

A co-worker of mine told me that I needed to check this place out because they made some of the best sandwiches in the city. Immediately intrigued I headed to the internet to search it out and see what other people were saying about it. So from what I could tell, or read for that matter, was that Alidoro was the soup nazi of sandwich places but it was a must for great sandwich lovers. But be forwarned, do not approach the counter without knowing what you want to order. There will be a lot of people waiting on line behind you and if you are not ready you will be passed faster than an off duty cab and they are not going to check to see if you are ready yet. So with that in mind I headed down to 105 Sullivan Street to see what it was all about, hunger in tow. Of course there was a line. I stood outside of the small little shop patiently behind two others looking in through the door to see when there was room to fit inside. Be sure to close the door behind you! Don't leave it open otherwise you are going to hear about it. Ok I am being a bit dramatic. Anyway I took that time to look over the menu to figure out exactly what I was going to try and there certainly were a lot of choices even if they all seemed a bit similar. There were 6 types of sliced meats to choose from, Salami, Prosciutto, Smoked Chicken Breast, Sopressata, Capicollo and Mortadella, so that is where I would start. Not a huge fan of the others I chose to go with the Chicken Breast but still needed to find the right combination to complete my order. Scrolling down the list I stopped on the Alyssa with it's Smoked Chicken Breast, Fresh Mozzarella, Arugala, Dressing on a Semolina Roll and because that wasn't enough I added Sweet Peppers to top it off. $13.00, that's right a $13.00 sandwich, so it better be freakin' good. While waiting in the claustrophobic space for my sandwich I got a bit aquainted with their sandwich making process, not that I wanted to but it was a bit of a wait. You'd figure that with a line that stretched out the door that the people running the joint would move at a quicker pace so their customers wouldn't have to wait nearly as long, that would be common sense. Here there were three folks. One guy manning the deli slicer, a lady taking the orders and packing the sandwiches and another fellow hidden behind the refrigerator. What I found particularly amusing and freightening at the same time was that the guy in front slicing the meat was less concerned with what he was doing because he was trying to watch a movie! Off to his left there was an extrememly small tv playing, of all things, the movie Amelia with Hillary Swank and Richard Gere. His concentration on the film was as intense as a bullfighter as he sliced the Chicken Breast for my sandwich and I was surprised later to find that there wasn't a piece of his finger in my sandwich. Too bad.
So back to work I went, gigantic sandwich in hand, nervously excited about the meal ahead. And it didn't disappoint, well maybe a little. Personally I think I made the wrong choice because I really didn't like the Smoked Chicken Breast, it's flavor was not what I was looking for. But what was I looking for exactly, a religious experience? Maybe. Other than the Chicken I thouroughly enjoyed the sandwich, even though the  heart of a sandwich to me is the meat. The Fresh Mozzarella, the Arugula, the Sweet Peppers and the Dressing were all really tasty leading me to believe with the right combo of meat this would have been a really fantastic sandwich. Also I think I may choose a different roll or bread because I was not all that thrilled with the Semolina Roll and desire a firmer loaf to hold my sandwich. At some point I will again venture down to Alidoro to give their menu another try to see if I can come up with a better reason to spend $13.00 on a sandwich. Afterall it's not Katz!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pret A Manger: The British Invade Our Tummies, Thank Goodness

I never realized that Pret was started by a British couple back in
1986 and to think where we would be if we had all started eating this stuff back then. Hmmm...maybe the move towards better quality food in this country would have begun a whole lot sooner. Who knows but I will tell you one thing, these sandwiches sure are delicious. The one I always turn to is the Turkey Bacon Club with Avocado but the strange thing is that it's not mentioned on the menu on the website...weird. It doesn't matter because it's really good and probably the only way I'm gonna eat wheat bread. The first thing you have to understand is that these sandwiches are not your typical pre-packaged food even though it looks that way. I got into a discussion the other day with a person who refused to eat any sandwich that was pre-packed even though I told her it really wasn't. That's her prerogative but she's wrong. These sandwiches are made fresh with ingredients that are delivered every morning, so you can throw out the assumption that these are typical packaged food. At the end of the day Pret donates all left overs to charity and you won't find any sandwiches on the shelves that had been made the day before. More importantly all ingredients are fresh without any additives and all natural to boot. One of my favorite items at the 17th and Broadway is the bottled water that comes from the mountains in upstate New York, I mean who woulda thunk it? Of course I always have to have a bag of chips when I eat a sandwich and I always choose the Kettle Salt and Vinegar. Perfect combo. You won't leave Pret without spending at least $10 bucks but you have to pay for food that is good for you. Currently there are a whopping 24 locations in Manhatan so you won't have to go very far to enjoy their fine fare. Please visit their website,, to read their story and see what's on the menu. 
Pret A Manger means Ready To Eat in French...FYI

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creature Of Habit: Starbucks In The Morning

I know what you are gonna say. Starbucks, really? You are writing about the food? fact I am. Sometimes it's the little things in life. I have always loved the mix of yogurt, granola and fruit in the morning but often when you buy some that has already been prepared the granola is all soggy and mushy. There's no way I am not going to put it all in separate containers and bring it to work with me either (even though that would save some money). I love my Strawberry & Blueberry Yogurt Parfait from Starbucks every morning, taking out the separated granola and mixing it all together. It's fun! And all for only $3.45, plus the $2.50 for my venti Pikes Place Roast. Right there at the corner of 19th and Park, sitting with my coffee and yogurt parfait, reading my Daily News ignoring those all around, including the pleasant staff who try to befriend me to no avail. All I am interested in is the parfait with it's extra crunchy bits combined with the juicy blueberries and strawberries, it's an explosion of fruitiness! Honestly it's a bit small and often I am still hungry afterwards...hmmm maybe I should just eat less? What a thought. So the next time you are in a Starbucks, and you know you will be, please give the Yogurt Parfait a try. However not all Starbucks serve the same items in every location, a fact I learned when I grabbed a parfait at the Vegas airport only to discover that it was only pretending to be the yogurt, berry and granola blend that I was used to. You have been warned.

Stuff White People Like

Hmmm...curious title eh? That's what I thought when a friend of mine from Texas told me that I should read this book. I was like..."Ummm I am not so sure about this, do you realize I live in NYC?" I said before actually taking a look at it. What I found after perusing a few pages was a hilarious take on a certain group of white people that I somewhat fit into, ok I really fit into. is where this all started as a blog by a guy named Christian Lander after a discussion he had with a friend about the HBO show The Wire. The discussion centered around the fact that his friend couldn't trust any white person who didn't watch the show and wondered aloud what could they possibly be doing if they weren't in front of their TV's watching it. Some of the guesses were...divorcing, therapy, yoga or going to plays. Thus Christian began the blog with this general idea and now 80 million hits and a best seller later, Stuff White People Like is now internationally known. Now the reason I thought it important to post this on my food blog was because food is a common theme in Christian's book and thought anyone would get a kick out of it by comparing themselves to what you place importance on. Some examples are as follows:
#1 Coffee
#5 Farmers Markets
#6 Organic Food
#13 Tea
#23 Microbreweries
#24 Wine (Cheese is at a ridiculous #145)
#32 Veganism/Vegetarianism
#34 Brunch
#42 Sushi
#45 Asian Fusion Food
#48 Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops
#63 Expensive Sandwiches (Possibly my #1, in food terms)
#117 Premium Juice
#137 Eating Outside
#143 Bakeries
#145 Cheese

Regardless of where you rank the stuff you like, you will certainly get a kick out of reading this book and it will be something to share with your friends as well, of course after you explain the meaning of the title as to avoid any further awkwardness. Be sure to check out the website for new entries to find out what new things white people are liking these days...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dinner With The Family At 86 Fu Kee Restaurant in Brooklyn

My constant search for delicious eats in NYC is a daunting task often times travelling far and wide for a meal to enjoy. Sometimes the actual journey can be a determining factor on whether or not that meal is actually enjoyable but certainly doesn't deter me from doing what I love. So when my wife told me we would be dining with the In-Laws in Brooklyn the other night I thought...what a great opportunity to blog about a traditional Chinese restaurant. What I mean by traditional is that it hasn't been Americanized for the general public and caters mostly to the Chinese people in that area. Usually they have terrible service, overcrowded dining areas, little to no English is spoken and often they push you out the door when it's time to go. It's not all that bad, especially since my In-Laws are Chinese making it ok for me to eat there. On this particular night I hopped on the N train after work, headed out to Bay Ridge and was told by my wife to get off at Bay Parkway because the restaurant was nearby. As I was crossing the Manhattan Bridge on the train a message popped up on my phone telling me that the restaurant was at 86th Street and that it was just a short walk to meet them. Little did I know that the short little walk turned out to be 20 blocks (which for the layman is about 1 mile, give or take) and when I arrived nearly everyone had finished their meal! Fortunately there was plenty left for me to eat, so after drinking a tall glass of water and a spot of tea, I dug in.

What's always amusing about eating with the In-Laws is that no matter what restaurant we go to, no matter where it is, whether it's in Brooklyn or Manhattan, they always order the same dishes. Lobster, Fried Pork Chops, Shrimp in Sauce with Broccoli, Sauteed Eggplant, Shark Fin Soup and a Cold Roasted Chicken. Sounds like a lot but usually there's enough people at the table to finish it all. These restaurants also prefer to serve large groups or parties over six, so plan on a long wait if you show up with less. Now to the food. Other than the Soup and the Eggplant, I very much enjoyed the other dishes. The Lobster was my favorite with it's distinct seasoning and flavor but was also the most messy. The Pork Chops were very crunchy and delicious but had almost been finished before I got there, so there were only a couple of pieces for me. The Shrimp and Broccoli was a little rich with it's creamy white sauce but as usual that didn't stop me. I also love the sugary walnuts that accompany this dish and so do my kids. One good thing about me not being able to understand Chinese is that I don't have to listen to all the complaints at the table and believe me there's always complaints. They always complain about the service and yet still tip fairly well. Usually there's a discussion about one of the dishes being subpar, at least to them and they say have had better. My question is why not go to the place where it is better? Funny thing is there is a great restaurant pretty much down the block from where they live and yet we travelled across the borough just to come to this eat the same damn dishes we always get. Makes no sense to me but my wife says that's the way it's always been. I also very much enjoy when the check arrives to watch as everyone fights over who is going to pay, except me of course because I don't speak Cantonese. Whew!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Go Burger Truck: A Great Piece Of Meat

Yummy. Who doesn't love a really good hamburger? Vegetarians I guess. Now appearing in the summer street fairs accross the city is the new GO Burger truck (by BLT Restaurants) serving up fantastically delicious burgers, fries and hotdogs. I was very intrigued the other day as I made my way through the throngs of folks at a street fair on Broadway in the 20's, to find a large white truck that looked like it didn't belong. I was only out to buy a ridiculously large bag of the best kettle corn in the city for my wife, but the allure of the smokey deliciousness emanating from the truck was way to powerful and I broke down. To say broke down is a very poor description of what happened. I bought The Classic cheeseburger and fries and hurriedly ran back to work and, as per my m.o., stuffed it down my throat like a cheetah eating a gazelle (blatant exaggeration). Their 100% Certified Black Angus beef burgers are a combination of sirloin, short rib, chuck and brisket cut and are served on a semi-toasted bun. The burger is topped off with red onions, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and a sauce that seemed like thousand island dressing so no ketchup was needed. The burger had a very peppery flavor to it as well which was a pleasant surprise and really combined well with all the ingredients for a great burger experience. The fries were also very tasty in their small little paper sack. The Go Burger truck is a great addition to the average street fair choices and honestly was not at all expensive comparatively speaking. Basically about $10 bucks and way better quality than most of it's fellow participants, for instance the ridiculously large bag of kettle corn goes for $9 bucks. Check out their website,, to see their menu and find out where the truck will be stationed this weekend.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NYC Street Fair's: A Summer Tradition

Long a tradition in NYC, Street fairs are a great way to waste some time during a weekend if the weather is accomodating. Now I am not talking about the Feast of San Gennaro on Mulberry Street that runs for two weeks in September, that is an over crowded fair that I try to avoid. I am talking about the run-of-the-mill fair's that happen to pop-up when you least expect them especially when you need to drive across town thru one of them. Actually Time Out NY has a weekly schedule of fair's listed on their website ( so you can plan ahead. Usually I stroll thru smelling the different food choices, trying to find something to eat that is different from the last fair I attended. The classic choice is the sausage and peppers carts with smoke and steam spreading the delicious aroma that you just can't avoid. Some of the other choices include: Gyro's, Kebabs, Tacos, Empanadas, Arepas, Corn on the Cob, Kettle Corn and more. A strange addition to me has been the Crepes booth's that I am now seeing at most fairs. I don't know why this is so weird to me but it just is. Be prepared to spend a little extra for the food choices, which is the norm for these events. Just remember though that we are not talking about fine cuisine here and that you could probably get any of these foods within a block of the fair. It's NYC afterall. Soon I will be blogging about of the couple of choices I made at the last fair I attended, stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Food News: La Esquina/The Corner Closed By NYC (Updated 5/12)

This is a bit of a shocker. One of my favorite restaurants in the city, La Esquina/The Corner, has just been cited for safety violations and shut down by the city of New York until the necessary fixes are made. It's seems to be an unusual situation in that the city inspectors are saying that the restaurant does not provide proper egress for customers and staff referring to a stairwell that leads to the basement. Plus they said that their wood ceiling is flammable. What's most curious is that back in 2005 the city approved the plans for this construction as well as approving a slight remodel in 2008. Hmmm makes you wonder why suddenly the city would change it's tune? Perhaps it's because of the city's budget crisis? And what better way then to bridge that gap then to squeeze some money out of a very popular restaurant. Personally I think it's disgusting. The inspectors who approved the original plans should be held accountable and fired, it's their fault, not the restaurants.

Update 5/12 5:14pm:
I am very happy to report that the city's building inspectors have given the ok to let La Esquina re-open for dinner tonight. Thank goodness, now I can order some Tacos for lunch tomorrow. Whew!

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Wah or Wah Mei...Whatever, It's Amazing!

Sometimes a picture is not worth a thousand words after all, but what's important here is how it tastes and not how it looks. Take my word for it. Another spot where you need to know someone before you go, May Wah (or Wah Mei which it says on the awning) is a true hole in the wall that you will not soon forget. Usually very warm and stuffy, the restaurant (if you can call it that) serves up it's fine food at a very rapid pace. There are a few stools to sit down at but I highly recommend taking it to go otherwise you will smell like the place even after a shower. You also need to know what to order because not much english is spoken, not to worry. To me there is only one choice on the menu. Fried Chicken or Pork Chop over White Rice with Special Sauce, Pickled Veggies and a Marinated Hard Boiled Egg...yeah it didn't sound too good to me at first either. I really have no idea what's in the special sauce, nor do I want to know, but the smell and the taste is intoxicating. You will know when you are close because of the smell, it's unbelievable how far reaching it is, I swear I can smell it five blocks away. It smells so good. Admittedly I am not a hard boiled egg eater and still don't eat them outside of this dish but there's something about this egg combined with everything else. I like chopping it up and mixing it in with the sauce and the rice and the veggies. It's all about the textures here. The chicken is succulent and flavorful, not your typical fried chicken because there is no breading applied thankfully. For only $5 bucks it's a filling meal that will have you coming back for more. I also suggest buying a couple extra to put in your fridge for a later date, it's great to bring to work for lunch the next day. May Wah (Wah Mei) is located at 190 Hester Street, not to be confused with May-Wah Healthy Vegetarian just down the block.

Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli: Put Your Mouth Around It!

Ok that title sounds a little inappropriate but it's so true and as you can see from my ugly mug that's exactly what I did. Off the top of your head you probably wouldn't associate a sandwich with Vietnamese cuisine, certainly I never did back when I was introduced to these delicious creations. Honestly I acted like the typical food snob and said something like..."No way I'm gonna eat a sandwich that's not French or Italian and you can't make me!" Honestly I sounded even more snooty when I said it. I just couln't have imagined how good it was until I tried it, funny how that works. Not only is it really tasty but it's cheap and they don't skimp on the size...size matters. Anyway Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli isn't a place you would walk into on your own, it's a place that someone has to tell you about, like me! I always go for the #1 House Special, extra spicy, and often order more than one to keep for another day. That's unusual for your typical sandwich and against my normal beliefs, but normal went out the window when I first ate this sandwich. What's in it you say? Besides the fresh baked roll there's Vietnamese Salami, Pork Roll, Grilled Minced Pork, Pickled Carrots and Raddishes, Jalapeno's, Cucumbers, Cilantro and a spread that they call Hollandaise Sauce. It's all good. Literally an explosion of flavor in your mouth, it's pretty indescribable. The deli is often filled with folks thinking the same way I do, especially during lunchtime, and when a place has a following like that you know it's good. I suggest you all make a trip downtown to 369 Broome Street, near the corner of Mott, to pick yourself up a sandwich, or two, or three. You can visit their website for more info,, and please have a look at the rest of their menu.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Market Week: The Chelsea Market

Simply the most interesting shopping experience in the city, The Chelsea Market has all the sights, sounds and smells to delight all under one roof right next to the trendy meat-packing district. The focus here is it's wonderful array of foods that is sure to keep your nose searching for what's next. To me the most important part of the space is actually the space. Opened back in 1997, the Chelsea Market takes up the ground floor of what used to be the Nabisco building, which is at 75 9th Ave between 15th and 16th. It's truly an assault on all your senses. Extremely lively during the lunch hour, The Chelsea Market really gets it's groove on after work is over often with live music performances to add to it's already fabulous aura. Some of my favorite stops are, of course, Amy's Bread, Fat Witch Bakery, The Nut Box, Buon Italia and the Bowery Kitchen Supply. It is very important to leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy yourself because this place is not a quick in and out. You're gonna want to stay for awhile. Hours of operation are: M-F 7 to 8pm, Sat 7 to 7 and Sun 8 to 6. Check out for more information. Eat well explorers.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Market Week: Union Square Greenmarket

For the better part of the last 20 years of my life I have been in and around Union Square more than any place else in the city and I have been lucky enough to see the Greenmarket grow into the fantastic bazaar it has become. I can remember when it was only a small collection of tents there only a couple of days. Today it is three times the size with offerings from pretzels, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, plants, breads, pies, cookies, honey and many more choices. Obviously great weather is it's best friend allowing
enormous throngs of shoppers from all over the city, in fact all over the world. The spring and summer, of course, is a fantastic time to stroll for fresh herbs or a beautiful plant for your home. But if you are looking to see the Greenmarket in all it's glory you must plan to be there during the fall and early winter. While the temperatures may not be completely beneficial, it's the time of year to see the most expansive array of delicious choices. Warm cider, pumpkin and apple pies, soups, delicious autumn apples, gourds, sweet potatoes, and on and on. And if you are looking to save some money this is the place to shop.
If you want to pay more just walk to the bottom of the park at 14th street and go to Whole Foods, they will be happy to take your extra money. So please when you have the time travel to Union Square and enjoy a wonderful day shopping at one of the best outdoor markets in the country. It's open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 8AM to 6PM. Please visit to see all the Greenmarkets all over town and to read about how they promote regional growers and much, much more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Market Week: Trader Joe's

I know what you are gonna say, Trader Joe's is not New York, yes I know this. But does everything in New York have to be New York? I say as long as it is a good place to shop and they have good foods then it's fit for my list. I actually discovered Trader Joe's when I lived in Arizona a few years back and at first thought....What's the big deal? Well let's just say it grew on me and when I moved back to the New York area I was more than happy to find a few TJ's scattered throughout the city. Now it's not a place you go everyday for the usual odds and ends, what it is though is a market that has it's own unique foods that are often of great taste and quality. Blah, blah, blah you say? Not really. Trader Joe's prides itself on being a part of every community they are in and that makes it feel like a local grocery store. Their staff always looks like they are having fun and are extremely attentive to you and especially your children. My favorite part, of course, is the sample bar usually towards the back with it's free offerings. Usually whatever they are making seems to make it's way into my cart, (sucker) what a sales job! They have a great selection of fruits and vegetables, great frozen meals, good breads, juices, nut mixes and lots more. Most of all it's really affordably. My favorites include: Kettle Corn, Lemonade, Mandarin Orange Chicken and TJ's Olive Oil. Trader Joe's currently has 4 locations in New York City with a new one opening soon in Chelsea. Go to for more information.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Market Week: Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

To be a true foodie you must be able to travel anywhere in the city to find great food and/or a great market and in this case Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Not just simply an indoor market, Arthur Avenue is an entire community that is also known as the Little Italy of the Bronx. Don't be scared. For most New Yorkers the Bronx is like an uncharted alien (no pun intended) world that might be a bit scary to visit other than say the Bronx Zoo, but not to worry Arthur Ave is right next door! Honestly this is a food lovers dream with so much to eat and see you will be amazed.
There is of course the Arthur Avenue Market, the first indoor market in the borough, that is the center of this vibrant area. Fresh vegetables, fresh meats, cheeses, pizza, olive oil, gelato, pastas and much more. But that is just part of the experience. Littering the surrounding area are tons of great bakeries, meat stores, fresh seafood places and restaurants that can make it an all day affair. Some of my favorites are: Terranova Bakery, Teitel Brothers, Mike's Deli, Dominick's Restaurant, Calabria Pork Store and many more.
What I remember most, the memories that I am the fondest of, are the days I went to the market with my mother. We'd walk the entire market saying hello to all the people, the vendors who she had bought from hundreds of times. They all knew exactly what she came for. The place had a very distinct smell and a very small town feel. My sister and I would walk around looking for blank tapes, candy, gum and various knick knacks all while my Mom collected more bags. We were sure to avoid the meat counter with it's pig heads and feet plus the chilled calf brains, yuck! So for all you foodies out there in search of a shopping experience like no other, take the time to travel up to the Belmont section of the Bronx and experience a hidden gem of New York City.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Market Week: Gourmet Garage

Original founded in 1981, Gourmet Garage has been offering it's fine foods to the public since 1992 and has always been a favorite of mine. I think I like it most for the fact that it is not Dean and Deluca, also a fine place but in my opinion an over-priced option. With it's old fashioned charm, fresh breads, pre-made food options, fresh vegetables, cheeses and more, Gourmet Garage offers the best casual shopping experience in the city without the hustle and bustle of other well known joints. My favorite location has always been the one on the corner of Broome and Mercer, a bit small but very cozy. I often stop in just to pick up my favorite spicey olive mix and to walk around even if I am not buying anything else. For the full experience I suggest the Gourmet Garage at 117 7th Avenue South which is by far their largest and most noticable of all their locations. Here there is a larger selection of seemingly everything and it's also a fun place to people watch...I once saw Matthew Broderick squeezing some melons on a Thursday afternoon (don't be crude, I mean fruit you dope). Surely you can people watch just about anywhere in Manhattan. If you are looking for a quick meal to go I suggest trying one of their pre-made sandwich wraps or my personal fave, the Rigatoni with Meatballs, you won't be disappointed. For more information on Gourmet Garage please visit their website,, and look to see which one of their 6 Manhattan locations is closest to you.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bagel Maven Cafe For a Bagel and a Schmear

Let me start out by saying that it isn't as easy as you'd think to find a good bagel in NYC. Bagels are very similar to pizza in this town, there is just as much bad as there is good and if you understand that you won't settle for mediocrity (even though you may eat mediocrity occasionally). First things first; the rules. Never, and I mean never eat a bagel from one of the carts on the street. I don't care how hungry you are or how convenient it might be, but nine times out of ten these bagels are substandard. You must recognize the fact that bagels are NOT like regular bread. They are denser, firmer, and have their own unique flavor. So when you go to one of those street carts you most likely will get a piece of bread that is disguised as a bagel, don't be fooled. Also I have found that unless you buy from a street cart bright and early your bagel, or buttered roll (I love buttered rolls btw), will be as stiff as a board and not fit for consumption. Yet I see people lining up at these damn things every morning. You fools! Second rule: don't get your bagels from places that don't make them, like Starbucks for instance (also street carts and any place that list bagels as a footnote). They do coffee, that's why you go there and for times sake it's easy to grab something to eat there as well. Don't do it. To me bagels are an important staple of this city and I for one am always on the lookout for good quality, fresh tasting and authentic bagels that I can have more than one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Bagel Maven Cafe on the corner of 30th street and 7th ave serving up some great tasting bagels. Now I have walked past this place a million times always between meals and never had the chance to give them a try. However I could no longer ignore the wonderful aroma emanating from this establishment. I used to work at a bagel shop in Westchester when I was in high school and to make a long story short I really know what a real bagel is supposed to taste like. The bagels at Bagel Maven aren't exactly traditional bagels but they are close enough. To me the truest test is the ability to eat a bagel plain without anything on butter, no cream cheese. Luckily these are really good bagels so I moved on to a Sesame with Vegetable Cream Cheese (I am not a huge fan of plain cream cheese). I was very happily surprised by the vegetable cream cheese as well with its larger than usual chunks of red, yellow and green peppers, they were like small flavor burts. So overall a very sastisfactory experience and I now have a new morning stop before I head to work...sorry Starbucks you can keep your stale bagels which you toast to hide the fact that they are stale! Eat Real Bagels.