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...