21 November 2007

Six Things - Two Days

On Monday I went out to:

Alchemy on 5th and St. Marks in Park Slope. Great little bar restaurant with a nice staff. Only downside was the incredibly bright lighting. But even that can be forgiven. Try it out for a low-key evening. Great early bar, it's quiet.

Union Hall on 5th Ave and Union. Crazy busy but beautifully put together bar. They have a really good list of draughts and bottled beers. They make great food. We had some of the Saga Cheese Balls...which were ridiculous, but awesome. Can be filled to the brim on some nights, be prepared for crowds. They have music in the basement.

We finished the night at Tea Lounge on Union and 7th Ave. On Monday nights they have free movies at 9:30. Some Like It Hot was showing this night.

On Tuesday there was more fun:

I started out at the movies. Margot at the Wedding was a very strange but great film by Noah Baumbach. It stars Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, and Jack Black.

Corner Shop Cafe on Broadway and Bleecker. I had a great feta and walnut ravioli. I ate with Tyler who had a PB sandwich that was two inches thick. The space is beautiful and it was comfortable. The website is all in flash, which is just annoying, but the menu is simple and good. Go there.

Quarter Bar is on 5th Ave and 20th in Brooklyn. It's right smack in the middle of a stretch of laundromats and bodegas. Great dim bar with an awesome jukebox. I recommend trying their meat pies. Delicious. They also have a nice list of signature cocktails to try out.

08 October 2007

Today Hayley's sister Amber is in town. The three of us met at Balthazar on Spring Street. The place is wonderful and I'm not going to debate it.

I had the Brioche French Toast for $13 and a nice glass of Orange Juice. The FT was perfectly sweet and didn't need syrup. It was squishy in the middle and crispy outside. My one complaint would be the too small glass of OJ and the waitress pushing a basket of pastries on us that was overpriced and kinda dull. It's one saving grace was the cocoa bread.

The wait-staff is very cute. There was this one guy with tattoos all over his arms that I wanted to make out with bunches.

After our brunchish meal we walked over to Sephora (nothing really interesting there) and then wondered into the M.A.C. store so Hayley and Amber could pick up some things. Somehow I ended up in a chair having eye-liner applied to my face...I will admit to some rockstar desire to keep it up for a bit, but we will see if I manage to pull that off.

I also picked up my lovely hand made bowler today from Kelly Christy on Broome Street. It looks awesome. Expect me to start wearing sweater vests, ties, and a bowler as soon as the weather actually turns autumnal.

The eye-liner might have to come out too... ;)

12 September 2007

call me angel (food cake)


Not only tasty bakery items, but terms of endearment for boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, kids and pets.

>Puddin' pop
>Pumpkin pie
>Sweet pea

I think it's interesting that we call each other food names to show that we care.

18 August 2007

Comfort Update

An update on a recent post on Gino's pizza. I tried it again, in a vain attempt at understanding why it was so bad.

They have fixed everything wrong. Well...mostly. It's still greasy and not quite what I want, but this pizza place has quickly turned around the sauce, pepperoni and cheese issues. The sauce is now more savory and the pepperoni tastes right. The cheese actually looks like it melted when they cooked the pie...all in all...100% better.

31 July 2007

Press 195

My friend Leonard visited from New Mexico a few weeks ago. We wandered Park Slope in search of the perfect post-dinner hour but not-yet-late-night eating establishment. We passed on the Thai fare at Song and discovered that the V-Spot was done serving dinner. Fortunately this discovery of Press 195.

A simple place with an extensive menu of various sandwiches and appetizers. We opted for the apple with brie and honey and I got the #27 - chicken with bbq sauce, onion, jalapeno, and Gouda. Leonard had grilled zucchini with squash, red pepper and spinach.

I spent a whopping $23 on this meal. It was the perfect evening ender.

Press 195 is located at (obviously) 195 5th Ave in Park Slope. 718.857.1950

15 July 2007

A Two Hour Tour

I've been sitting on this for week because I wasn't sure what to say. Hayley and I went back to Zoe.

I know I know We honestly wanted a fight, begging for it really. We were also hoping that it would go well this time.

We got there at brunch on a Saturday, the place was far busier than I'd ever seen it (including the previous post Piaf visit). The burger that we had so desperately wanted the last time was right in the middle of the menu. This was a dilemma, I was feeling breakfasty this day, but wanted to also make a point of our return trip.

I went with my gut and had an incredible blue corn pancake stack for $12. The pancakes were a lovely purple color with blueberry topping and mascarpone cheese. Hayley had chicken for some dollars I don't know about, it was a touch dry, but tasty. I had a nice glass of iced tea, she nursed a hangover with sparkling water. Zoe doesn't have mineral water, which was problem #1. The second was a lack of mint leaves in my tea...every other table was getting them...Bitches. If these were the only two problems though, I really have to hand it to them.

AND - On our way out they gave us a box of free cookies. A tad suspicious. Maybe they read blogs? It was lucky that we had those treats because we ended up on a boat ride from hell.

Hayley had been on me for a few weeks to go with her on a Circle Line tour around the isle Manhattan. I promised...and the Saturday after the 4th seemed like as good a day as any.

These tours are for tourists. Which we knew. What we were unprepared for was the mind-numbing narration by our 'captain'. Every 5 minutes were were told how 'tragic' and 'sad' September 11, 2001 was. How there was '2' no '3' no '4' inches of debris and soot on everything below 14th street. It went on...one second it was all 'over here you can buy useless crap..and on September 10, 2001 you could have bought some here...'

2 hours of tedium, but with snarky comments.

After the heat of the day I was ready for a drink, but wait a minute! The Snapple cost $4. That's US dollars folks. I ate the cookies with Hayley and watched Lady Liberty recede then reappear while slowly drying up like a cadaver in a desert. I checked my watch against the Colgate clock, wondered about visiting Governors Island, thought about how Battery Park is a pile of trash with grass on top. The whole time I was wishing I had noise canceling headphones and some mint tea.

Zoe is back on my list of good things in SoHo
4 stars for the meal...2 for lack of mint.

Circle Line gets -2 for expensive drinks and stunted narration.

10 July 2007

Taste of Chicago. It is one of the summer's main events. Restaurants from all over the city get together under a hundred different tents to sell three or four of their signature dishes. It's a fair just for food.

Instead of rides; rainbow ice cream.
Instead of games; Cajun chicken with red beans and rice.
Instead of 4-H club and blue ribbons; piles of freshly fried chips covered with homemade barbeque sauce.

The indigestion is unbelievable.

What I particularly like about Taste is that everyone deals with the fact that they drop food on themselves all day. Grazing from vendor to vendor, walking along eating off of paper plates with plastic cutlery, spillage is bound to happen. There's nothing to be self conscious about though, no sir! The smudges of food are badges of honor. "Look at me, I have curry on my sleeve, strawberry sauce on my chest and cheese on my tummy. I am a champion of the Taste."

Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmmm.

06 July 2007

Vin Rouge

I love France! I also love wine. There's a fantastic new wine bar in Brooklyn called Vin Rouge. On 5th Ave and 18th street. Go there, they have deliciousness.

29 June 2007


I spent the last week in the south of France in a town called Auvillar (link in French). It's nearish Toulouse and in the middle of nowhere. There is a nuclear power plant right down the road that adds a lovely sort of irony to the place. The people are unbelievably friendly.

The whole trip we had a lovely woman named Sophie cooking for us. We had bread, yogurt and fruit for breakfast and usually a light lunch of beet salad and cheeses. For dinner we had a variety of dishes. A quinoa salad one night, fish stew, chicken. All of it was amazing.

The one restaurant we visited was a wonderful creperie. The food was amazing, the ambiance more so. Picture a giant home on top of a hill surrounded by trees and a garden; it overlooks the lower part of a French village. I had a 3 cheese crepe, it was topped with a huge ring of brie and was rich and delicious. I shared it with my new friend Christine. We then shared a second crepe with bacon, cheese, and mushrooms. For dessert we had ice cream and crepes with butter and sugar. I felt cheated that we couldn't make a second visit work later in the week.

We ate on the huge balcony overlooking the trees and garden as a distant storm rumbled across the valley. There was lightening, thunder. The night was closing in around us, this all equals perfection.

What was not so perfect was the behavior of some of the other people at my table. Why do Americans get so antsy when a meal starts to take a few hours to consume? And why do they continually make claims that it's 'ok it's taking so long' or 'we are in France, I guess it takes longer, which is ok' Americans are the passive-aggressive champions of the world when it comes to other cultures. This is at least partly true. I'm sure that we could all pick another country and make our arguments stick.

I brought a bottle of a 2002 Le Vin Noir home with me from Les Vignerons du Brulhois. Le Vin Noir is black wine which is essentially a very dark purple colored red that tastes a little like black currant jam mixed with wood. It's way to strong for me to just sit and drink, but with a nice strong meal it would work out. The lovely lady at the winery told me to serve it with contif or a strong foie gras. I think it might be best with a nice slab of steak, but I'm not a huge wine head.

At the corner grocery I even found Kinder Surprise. They are chocolate eggs with a little toy inside. The outside is milk chocolate, the inside is white. the toy is usually a silly cartoon character that you have to put together. I got some ninja chimps and a magician with a broom in my three kinders. They are originally a German candy that I grew up with in England, so finding them in France was nice.

It's funny that the thing that most impressed me was the discovery of a childhood toy. But maybe not so surprising as I've been very sentimental these days. I find myself discussing personal histories with anyone who will listen...including these posts.

More later!

18 June 2007


It deeply saddens me that you can't find good pizza near you. Here are a few places I like in Brooklyn and Manhattan:

Little Toninos (BK), they have a pretty good whole wheat crust if you're into that sort of thing.
Lenny's (BK), their plain slice is pretty nice.
Pie by the Pound (Manhattan), you walk in, you select from different flavors, you tell them how much to cut, they cut, they weigh, then you pay.
Rome (Italy), Delicious.

15 June 2007

Cats and Comfort

Being comfortable is something that we as humans talk about frequently. When we are tired, we just want comfort and sleep. Sick? I, for one just need a comfy blanket and a ridiculous movie (Bedknobs and Broomsticks works for me every time). When we are dying the one thing that we always discuss first is the comfort of the person lying there. We are also discussing our own comfort, but don't verbalize it.

For me the one food that is comfortable at all times is pizza. It doesn't matter what my mood or state of mind, it will do. Even if I am in the violent throws of a fever, a good slice will make me sit up and eat. Nice and comfy like.

My neighborhood has no good pizza. For that matter, I have yet to find a truly great slice anywhere in New York City. This may come as a surprise considering the straight up insistence of the NY superiority in the battles of the slice. Honestly though...I'd rather eat Pizza Hut over the limp soggy grease-fest that passes as 'pizza' here in the pomme grande.

My search reached yet another dead end the other night. I had just spent the day taking care of a very sick cat. The evening ended with a trip to the vet and talk of catheters and surgeries that would 'widen uretra.' After the day all I wanted was a good slice of pizza and an episode of MST3K. I ordered from the only pizza place that delivers to my apartment - Gino's - in about 20 minutes I received a very large pizza for $11.75.

I came into my apartment and started up the DVD. Then I opened the box. The pie looked all right, even tasted OK...but...the pepperoni had a distinct sausage taste and the sauce was oddly sweet. The crust alternated between too soft and too hard. The whole thing did little to comfort me, and even less to fill me.

This seems to be the same problem all over the city. Even the 'best' slice I have found (Roma on 7th Ave in park Slope) still leaves me feeling empty and wanting more. Maybe NY is just like that...slightly greasy, hyped beyond belief, violently loved/hated, and at the end of the day it doesn't fill you up and you are not comforted.

Maybe that's life in general.

10 June 2007

I'll Have a Plate of Bland with a Side of Boring

Cheeseburgers are in, bland is out. Peach is in, salmon is out. Edith Piaf is in, eyebrows are out. Steak is in, pork tenderloin is out. Polenta is both in and out. Zoe was bland and so it's out.

09 June 2007

I Just Want Fries With My Piaf

I should disclose that I went into the film knowing a little about Edith Piaf. I knew that her last name is made up, that it means 'little sparrow', and that I liked her music. Knowing only this about Edith Piaf gave me few expectations of La Vie en Rose, which turned out to be a brutally beautiful bio film with an amazing actress in the lead role. The final sequence of this film may just be one of the best edited pieces of film I've seen ever.

Marion Cotillard is probably one of the best actresses I've never heard of. As Hayley put it - she's the Helen Mirren of France - which is probably as good an equivalent as one can get. Mirren was on TV in England in Prime Suspect; Cotillard was on TV in the US in the silly Highlander. Mirren of course has made tons of films but was catapulted to the top of the US conscious by a film where she plays a real life person dealing with death and change (The Queen for those who don't know). Cotillard was in A Good Year with some guy named Russel Crowe. Of course this film is in French but she is nonetheless here for your viewing pleasure.

Another thing that I don't know anything about - but know a little about - is gnocci. I bring it up because Hayley and I went to Zoe after we saw La Vie en Rose and I ended up having gnocci.

I have consistently loved Zoe since moving to New York. I eat there about once a week or so. If not that often, at least every time I go to see a movie with Hayley, since it's around the corner from the Angelika theater on Houston. The food is always good, inexpensive, and in SoHo. It's right by the R train and the Apple store. There's a big front window to people watch, the wait staff are amazing and awesome. The whole place is 10 kinds of fabulous.

But here's the point, after the delectable greatness of the film - and our last great visit - Hayley and I decided that Zoe would be the perfect finish to the night.

We decided that we'd go bar menu, because we never do, and we were feeling all hamburgerish. We asked for the menus and some sparkling water. We pursued. We loved the choices of cheese. Our waitress informed us that the bar menu was unavailable - even though we were given the menus.

In this circumstance I'd most likely get the steak, they have great steak for only $24, which is a steal anywhere, but especially in SoHo. This night I decided to go for the gnocci again, because I was trying to eat a little lighter. While I might not know much about the stuff, I do know that it should not taste like buttered spaghetti. That it shouldn't be bland and dull, and unfilling. I know that I should not have to use salt or pepper on a meal at as good a restaurant as Zoe purports to be. Hayley had pork, which was better tasting than my dish, but just as dull. I'm not discussing the amounts paid for the dishes because I'm pretending it didn't happen.

In an attempt to save the meal and our favorite restaurant for us, Hayley and I decided to get dessert. She had a nice peanut butter/banana tart object that was oddly light and buttery at the same time for $7. I had a very heavy chocolate mocha cake with bittersweet chocolate ice cream on the side for $8. Our waitress (in an attempt to placate us?) sent over some free ice cream in the house flavors (pistachio, cookie dough, mint chocolate chip). We loved the dessert, but still frowned while paying.

Next time we might have to dine at another restaurant in the area (there are several) and go to Zoe for dessert. Or, we might give them one more chance. It shouldn't be a problem to make a hamburger for a customer at dinner time in an averagely busy restaurant on a Friday night. McDonald's manages it and I've seen them with busier crowds than Zoe's probably ever had.

Zoe usually gets a 10, last night it got a 4