[yiddish] To eat like an animal, i.e., quickly, noisily, and in great quantity.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nobody loves a generic deli, but everyone loves 1/2 off

My coworker Rachel pointed out the exciting news: for the grand opening of Bistro Market Place on 34th between 8th and 9th most food items are 50% off, helllll yea. Coupons were handed out in advance but it did not appear that we needed them. The place was packed but the staff did a good job at keeping things moving. The made to order stations include breakfast items, pizza, sandwiches/panini, salad, and sushi/udon. Over at the by- the- pound tables in the middle, I was impressed by the selection. I picked up mac n cheese, fried calamari, stuffed mushrooms, brussel sprouts, corned beef, an avocado slice, a marinated artichoke, marsala mushrooms, tempura shrimp, and a pierogi (that had no filling, fail). I was pretty happy with most things, including the shrimp and corned beef. The fresh squeezed juice bar is also part of the deal; I indulged with a large carrot/mango/raspberry juice, which I believe would have cost me $3.50. For later on, I ordered an italian combo, normally priced at $6.25. In total, all my food was under $11. The deal lasts until Friday and I plan on coming back. I would considering returning after the deal is over... maybe, the by-the-pound options are more fresh and appealing than many out there, but at over $7 p/pound, that is going to add up fast. 

See look, nothing inside :-(
Nice shrimp though

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Woorjip secret prize??

So my purse was stolen this weekend and among my passport, credit cards, and other things that are gone forever I also lost my frequent luncher card from Woorjip. I was about half-way through to getting my free surprise. And now I will never know what it is. The suspense may kill me. Does anyone know what secret treasure is bestowed upon the gluttonous?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekend Cooking

There is nothing better than strolling through the Union Square market on a sunny day and impulsively buying fresh produce.

Some adorable fingerling potatoes.

These mushrooms are stunners: hen of the woods and yellow oysters. Lets not even get into how much they are a pound. 

Ramps, of course

(I liked this sign for obvious reasons)

And here is what we did with all of it:

Sauteed ramp shoots, fingerlings roasted with ramp bulbs, oyster and hen of the wood mushrooms sauteed in butter, and grilled skirt steak

The grill master

Our pre dinner spread was also delightful

And lunch the next morning: egg salad with sauteed ramp bulbs, carrots, celery, tarragon, and deep fried sage leaves.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Revisiting 6th Ave Taj Delhi Chaat

Its been almost a year since I last ate at the 6th Ave News stand.

The layout is always changing; currently the news/lotto stand is to the left when you enter and pizza is sold on the right side. In the back the food tables are ordered from left to right respectively: Taj Halal steam table /Chaat in the corner/Vegetarian steam table/Spanish steam table.

I ordered the #4 Aloo Chaat which has chickpeas and potato along with the crispy noodle shreds, onion, cilantro, yogurt, tamarind sauce, and spicy sauce. The guy making it is pretty slow and had trouble understanding me AND worst of all, he let a more middle eastern looking customer cut in front of me. I do prefer that my meals be made with love but I can let it slide, after all its $4.99 for a huge tin of flavors that I love. I finished about half of that serving; the potatoes and chickpeas make for a very very filling dish. So my lunch total was actually $2.50, I like this fact very much.

The #19 was a bit different, a curried veggie mush with bread on the side, it tasted great but was not the typical chopped mix we were expecting

Over at the Halal steam table there were various rice and curried meat options. $7 gets you a choice of meat, your choice of rice, savory potatoes, a soup thing, and a not so great chapatti. It comes in a sectioned off plastic container that you will want to reuse.

The curried goat and chicken marsala were both tender and flavorful. Neither were overwhelmingly spicy; my memories of the vegetarian food last year are of needing many glasses of water to temper the heat. Perhaps the veg section is still like this, we did not sample from that steam table, it would not behoove me to choose the squash and beans (as delicious as they were) when the curried meat and chaat looks this good.

Its probably a good thing that this place is so far from my office, otherwise I would spend way too many lunches eating here.

1013 6th Ave.

Two Very Happy Hours

The Dove is an elegant bar in Greenwich Village that stands out with touches such as burgundy wallpaper, a faux fireplace, and luxurious furnishings. Drinks even come with doilys, which makes it tempting to booze with your pinkie up. The happy hour, from 4-8, offers its specialty cocktails for $6 (normally $10). The cocktail list cites frequent use of infused liquor, spices typically found on dessert menus, and fresh juices. My "Spiced Peach Cobbler" with peach vodka, honey, cinnamon and organic vanilla soy milk did indeed resemble a dessert. This is a mild drink in terms of booze levels, others on the menu like the Silk Road Margarita pack more of a punch.

228 Thompson St.

Across the island on the east side, the Common Ground also has a spectacular happy hour, though more for the food and games rather than crafty cocktails. This bar is also nicely decorated with big windows that are kept open in good weather, chandeliers, and couches that accommodate groups nicely. Happy hour, also 4-8, includes appetizers and panini at 2 for 1. In any other bar, this might not be significant, but the food here is closer to what you would expect at a wine bar. Appetizers include Roquefort with pear and toasted spiced pumpkin seeds, brie with toast and apricot mustard, and almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon (of course a must order, but where is the stilton, right Mary?) The goat cheese and artichoke heart panini is vegetarian friendly, but you might as well get a few to split and sample with friends, two will cost you $10. It ends up being unbelievably inexpensive to fill up here. Yuengling and Miller light are $2 during happy hour, but if you choose Miller over Yuengling you are a fool. The $5 cosmos are decent and pretty strong. Apple martinis are also on special but there is no way I would ever drink that. For even more enjoyment, games like Connect 4 and Sorry! are available.

206 Avenue A

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Porchetta Round Up

Porchetta is a place you want to love. Its a teeny, much hyped eatery that unabashedly worships the pig. But the prices are a little steep in comparison to what you get. You would think that the more you pay, the better the value- the opposite hold true.

My choice for best value is the $5 crispy potatoes and burnt ends, the potatoes are indeed crispy and surrounded by the most delicious pork bites.
The porchetta sandwich comes with a lot more meat, but a lot of it is difficult to eat. The fat is too chewy and parts of the skin are impossible to chew. Don't get me wrong, put this sandwich in front of me and I will happily eat it down. I am just hesitant to spend the $9 on it. Maybe $7 would be ok.

Before trying the sandwich, I was mesmerized by the glistening skin on top of the pork behind the counter and the jovial employee gave me a square. It looked like a bite sized piece of pure fat heaven but fell quite short of that once in my mouth. There was some solid flavor going on but it was like eating pork flavored glass; not what I was expecting.

In last place comes the porchetta platter. While it was moist and well seasoned, the portion did not justify the $14 price tag. The sides of greens and beans were tasty, but reminded me of something I had just made in my own kitchen.

My advice is to seek Porchetta out for a snack of the crispy potatoes and burnt ends and mosey on across the street to cutsey Butter Lane for a cupcake. I got a banana bread cupcake with french chocolate icing. Proof of my approval= licking the frosting off the wax paper that wrapped it while on the subway and not caring who saw.

Porchetta 110 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)

Butter Lane 123 E 7th St

Ok... I ate a piece of burnt ends along with the cupcake and really liked them together. Is that weird?

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches

Nicky's Banh mi were the perfect quick bite last week. I tried half of the chicken($5) and half of the pork chop ($5.50). The pork was a bit better than the chicken, but both were well seasoned. The standard banh mi veggies (carrots, cukes) were fresh but were segregated to one side of the sandwich with the meat of the other, I would prefer a mix of both throughout instead. I know these cost a lot less in Chinatown, but we were in this neighborhood. It took longer for the sandwich to toast than it did for me to consume it, but for what we were looking for (quick, cheap, healthy something to fill the belly), it served its purpose.

150 E 2nd St

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Smith's Chicken Dinner for 2 Deal

My friends and I were having a get together on a Monday night. With restaurants losing business in this economy many have proposed amazing deals to entice diners on off-nights. An article in New York Magazine led me to Smith's Monday/Tuesday night chicken dinner special- a meal for 2 people, $35 total (not each!). Perfect.

The decor in Smith's is modern and clean looking with a mirrored ceiling and lattice work defining the difference dining spaces. They have a bar in the back, booths in the middle, tables by the window, and outdoor seating. The lighting is low, which sets the mood but makes for terrible pictures...

There were 4 of us but we ordered 1 "chicken dinner" and some extras to maximize our variety. To start: onion ring appetizer($6) and fried burrata($4) from the bar menu. The onions were huge, not too greasy and its sauce had a nice kick to it. The fried burrata is the perfect grown up version of mozzarella sticks. I could have eaten so many more than my one little sample.

This neon dish is ramp risotto with mushrooms and preserved lemons, a crazy combination with flavors that worked well together, though the risotto could have been cooked to a better consistency.

The chicken dinner came with a large salad full of fresh veggies that was brought out with the rest of our appetizers. Our chicken was served on a hot skillet; its skin crackled and the white meat was juicy. This is not something I could easily replicate at home. The sides of earthy mushrooms and rich polenta were equally satisfying.

And yet there is more, a dessert of chocolate mousse with pistachios also comes with the dinner deal. The mousse is neither too light nor too dense, and the salt of the pistachios brings out the chocolate flavor while adding a crunch. It was a large enough serving that we all got to end our meal with many spoonfuls of sweetness. We loved the long spoons and the freezing cold bowls they came with.

Lets recap: fresh salad, two delicious sides, a perfectly roasted chicken, and a chocolatey dessert for $35. This is a deal worth going out for on a Monday/Tuesday night.

79 MacDougal St

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

La Nacional: yay paella

Table for 8 early on a Saturday night without a reservation? No problem.

La Nacional is a family favorite for solid Spanish food that won't break the bank. It is associated with La Sociedad Benefica Espanola de Socorros Mutuos, a Spanish Society founded in the 1860's, which occupies the building above. The basement dining area, complete with Christmas lights and paintings, and its obscure entrance have just the right amount of diviness to enhance the charm.

Head down the stairs and though the hall to get to the dining room.

Immediately order a pitcher of sangria. And enjoy the olives and breads brought to your table.

Appetizers are split into two sections, hot and cold. The chorizo appetizer($8) is an easy choice, cannot go wrong there. Look at that spicy oil deliciousness and do not be afraid to dip your bread in it.

Other hot appetizer options that also delivered the flavor along with being properly tender: pulpo (octopus,$9) and calamares a la plancha (grilled squid, $9). You will probably also want to dip your bread into the squid's sauce.

And for the main attraction- paella. The staff is good about calculating serving size based on the number of people in your party. Though we all agreed the quality was slightly better a few years ago, this is still a great dish. The seafood tasted fresh and the rice was full of real flavor that comes from being cooked with so many yummy things.

There are shrimp, mussels, cockles, chicken, and peas in the version we selected (paella de la casa).
Here are some close up shots if you are into seafood.
And a shot of that essential rice crusting.

Past visits while the owner was around resulted in free glasses in sherry and some great tips on traveling in Spain.
The food plus the relaxed,unexpected environment is the perfect place for a group to have great conversation over pitchers of sangria and sufficiently authentic Spanish dishes. And if you don't have great conversation, get new friends.

239 W 14th St