Marta – Roman Rule, Stage 2

Marta PizzaIn Rome, a tourist can come and go back to the boat or hotel room without ever experiencing the true Roman Pizzerie.  And there’s a very simple explanation to that.  It’s closed!  The tourist may have seen pizza by the slice (Pizza a Taglio) at some stores or bakeries and may have enjoyed some of those, and perhaps a pizza Bianca or 3, but for the true Roman Pizza experience you need to seek out the wood burning oven joints that are normally open at night only.  Some open as late as 8.  I can go on and on explaining why pizzeries are open so late and that Italians take their lunches more serious than Americans, and historically even more serious than dinner… But I have to make this post quick because I have to go feed the kids and check their homework, and yell at them for not vacuuming the kitchen (I have muffin crumbs stuck to my feet.  Tastes like chocolate so its them).

Marta ovenSo while Romans have to wait until 8 to eat their pizza, new Yorkers can now have it starting at noon.  It would have been just as odd to make this one evenings only for New Yorkers, as taking away a free bread basket at the Italian restaurant near you.

Roman Pizza is Matzoh-like thin.  Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer’s second Roman venture Marta opened 5 days ago in the Martha Washington hotel.  Nick is there mopping the floor and inspecting every pie coming out to make sure its Kosher.  Get a seat at the bar to watch the team in action including Rabbi Nick inspect every pie coming out of the wood burning oven.  He lifts the pies up as he looks for consistency, a crisp bottom (dont we all) and to make sure he sees the ceiling light fixtures through it.

Started with the Popettini di Maccheron, a pair of aromatic fried pasta balls with tasty tomato pecorino sauce.  The balls had a hard solid exterior which provided a nice crunch, unlike your average Arancini that break apart when you just stare at them

Marta Pasta Balls

I broke my own rule and started with something other than Margherita (I do it often these days and I’m not liking it).  This is the Salsiccia – Mozzarella, Tomato, Pork Sausage, Crimini Mushrooms.  Very good overall.  Not soggy whatsoever, cracker crisp at the edges and fairly crispy thoughout.  No forks were hurt or needed in the process to scoop up ingredients trying to escape.  Nicely done!  With Roman pies I found that less is more, meaning the more ingredients and toppings you add the less exciting the pie gets.  This was simple enough with good flavor, but I do want to try the Margherita next.  And the rest of the good looking, fried filled menu.

Marta
29 East 29th Street
$$

Marta - Pizza Marta - Pasta Balls Marta Grill

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nargis Cafe – Uzbek Beauty With an Attitude

Nargis Cafe SamsaA love hate arranged relationship followed by a happy marriage is a good way to summarize this one.  We started dating awhile back, sparks were flying and things got intense.  But then she started seeing other people.  A lot of them!  To the point of having to make an appointment and sharing her while sitting very close to the other people and having to leave much sooner than before.  Time for a break, and to check out the rest of the Uzbek fish in the sea.  There was Kashkar, Oasis and some other flirts, but I kept thinking about her, my Nargisachka, who pleased me like none of the others.  To quote from the great Top Secret, “she took advantage of me in ways I cannot describe”  “Oh Nigel, it must have been awful” (Rolling Eyes Smiley)

Anyway, in a town suddenly filled with all sorts of Uzbek action, Nargis is probably my favorite at the moment.  You got all the usual Russian/Uzbek goodies here, and pretty much everything is cooked well.  Nice little Pilmeni (Russian dumplings) which I particularly like here because of its cumin action.  Good eggplant salad, fried potatoes with mushrooms which is a staple among the “Russian” spots in the city.  Great Monti, like giant Pilmeni that come covered in a basket.  Samsa, the Uzbek bourek is another winner at Nargisachka.  Last time they had a Samsa special, a hefty Chicken Samsa surrounding a drumstick.  Like a Samsa lollipop if you will.  They are known for their Uzbek Plov with lamb, chickpeas and liberal use of fresh scallions.  Terrific Tashkent Salad (meat, shredded radish, eggs, fried onions).  The kebabs here redefine tenderness and juiciness.  Chicken, lamb, veal, Lulya kebabs are as good as you will find anywhere on Coney Island Ave (plenty of competition on this street)

This is a very popular spot with the local families, and its best to come here with a group so you can sample enough.

Nargis Cafe
2818 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn
$$
Recommended Dishes: Plov, Samsa, Tashkent Salad, Pilmeni, Kebabs

Nargis Cafe Monti Nargis Cafe Plov Nargis Cafe Tashkent Nargis Cafe Kebabs

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best Burgers in Hell’s Kitchen

The Marshal*** Please excuse horrible iPhone pictures.  I get light headed if I don’t eat the burger right away and I rush the picture taking process.  I do think of you audience, but not at that moment *****

First of all, let me just be the first blogger to say this… most likely these are NOT the best burgers in Hell’s Kitchen. There are way too many places providing quality burgers in the area, and contrary to popular belief, I am human and cant possibly eat all of them and/or judge accordingly.  This list is also a list of places where you can most likely find locals as opposed to tourists.  So no Shake Shack, Bareburger, 5 Napkin, and not even the napkinless Five Guys.  That’s not to say my picks cant match against any of those guys.   I’m also trying to mix and match different types of burgers even if it means including something that’s not even considered a burger but worth mentioning.  Special attention is also paid to the fries and the place itself.  Another reason why you wont see Shake Shack.  “So why are you calling it Best Burger, Ziggy”?  Good question tommy.  For the same reason everyone else does.  Its much more Google friendly than “exceptional burgers”, or “decent Burgers”, and besides, they might very well be “The Best”

Island Burger and Shakes – Perhaps the obvious one and the place I frequent the most.  Great Burgers and.. you guessed it.. Churrascos!  Churrascos are chicken sandwiches grilled in over 30 ways – blackened, or spiced any way you want it.  The same goes for the top quality burgers where you have all these combinations to choose from including various toppings like Au poivre, pesto and even peanut thai sauce.  And 6 types of bread including a fine Ciabatta.  But don’t be afraid to try a very simple one with swiss, and perhaps sautéed onions or mushrooms.  What separates them from the rest is that they always grill the burgers to perfection (unless you are with a group of 8 as happened to me yesterday).  A medium rare is usually a medium rare.  Fries here are good but extra, though I usually share them with someone.  Oh and I’m noticing lately lunch specials of $10 that includes a plain burger, fries, beer, and a flue shot.

Island Burger

The Marshal –  (top) I already discussed The Marshal extensively but haven’t discussed the burger. As with anything else on the menu, attention to detail here is key.  An oven roasted fatty patty, a combination of chuck, brisket, and hanger along with kidney fat produces a perfect 80/20 fat ratio. This is the juiciest thing I’ve had since college!  No fries here but the duck fat potato chips and slaw make up for it.  The menu changes regularly so if you show up and the burger is not on the menu, I suggest you make a scene (how else they gonna learn).  Or just have something else for a change

Genuine Roadside – Essentially a Shake Shack fast food burger without any of the pain.  Every time I pass by Shake Shack on 8th ave I just want to shake a random German sock and sandals tourist and explain that there’s nothing in the land of pizza and burgers worth standing in line for.  Because you can find similar quality just about everywhere.  My only visit to this Shake Shack location was as much fun as a Vasectomy.  At Genuine, in food mecca Gotham West, you walk in, order, get a beeper, and wait a few minutes at one of the many booths available, instead of the standing room only Shake Shack.  Get the Double Stack, with american cheese, sweet pickles and house sauce which is essentially a mayo, ketchup, and mustard blend.  The patties are 80% chuck, 20% hanger, on the small side like Shake Shack and generally cooked well.  Fries are extra and well worth it.  But the one item on the menu I prefer over everything else is the Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich

Genuine Roadside

Brickyard Gastropub – For the health conscious.  If you noticed that burgers with diet coke is not helping you lose wait, try beer with Bison Burger.  You see what I did there kids?  Bison meat is leaner than cow meat and has more nutrients.  Brickyard offers regular burgers of course, and bison burgers that are slightly gamy and very tasty.  But you must pinky promise that you will order the truffled fries as well.  On first look they will seem greasy, but than you suddenly cant stop eating them.  A total opposite than my experience with the truffled fries at the super popular Umami.  But the burgers at this sport bar are solid overall.  And a cute Irish bartenderess that knows her food can only be a major plus

Brickyard Gastropub

Bulgogi Sliders at Danji – If the overrated Montmartre Patty Melt can be seen on “Best” lists than I’m adding sliders.  Its my blog, I make the rules, and those sliders will make you break the rules.  In a CNN 2011 reader’s poll of the World’s 50 most delicious foods, Bulgogi, a Korean style marinated beef was voted #23.  Soy Sauce, garlic, sake, car keys, and a whole bunch of stuff go into a typical marinade, and you can sample this deliciousness at Hooni Kim’s Danji with a lovely spicy pickled cucumber & scallion salsa.  Add the tofu and KFC wings while you at it

Happy eating and stay hungry my friends

photo (12)

 

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Ziggy Met Zizi {Limona}

Zizi Limona CowshukaIt was love at first chick(pea) at the Israeli Williamsburg neighborhood hotspot, Zizi Limona.  Stemming from the two city hummus empires Hummus Place and Hummus Kitchen owners, plus another Israeli chef, the three Israeli amigos opened a very affordable place that every neighborhood should have.  Mine has a good shoe repairman, a gas station, and your ordinary Chinese, which is why I sometimes have to eat in other neighborhoods (40 mins away) and pretend I live there.  But if I ever need to repair my flip flops while waiting for my gassy General Tso’s, I’m all set.  At Zizi on the other hand you can also shop for Pereg seasonings among other products off their shelves.  If they could also offer the much sought after refrigerated Pereg stuff like the best S’chug ever made, and repair your flip flops while you wait for your hummus, rent in that hood will skyrocket

Zizi Limona insideZizi is like Balaboosta light, or a slightly less polished Bar Bolonat.  The lunch menu is small but deadly.  When it comes to menus, the smaller the better as far as I’m concerned.  Drives me nuts seeing reviewers complain about such things.  Drinks here, you can tell, are taken very seriously.  My “Mosquito” was like a refreshing twist on Israeli “Limonana” (Lemonade with Mint) with Moscato, lime, mint, and soju.  Wifey enjoyed her pomegranate Zimosa, and kids claimed “best water this side of the Gowanus!”.  But I couldnt help but recall the Mosquito” fart in the phone app, and when we hid the phone along with a timer at a co-worker desk when he went to the bathroom.  “What kind of blog is this”  I hear the three Israeli owners asking.  The good kind amigos.  The kind you dont see on SeriousEats.  But lets dive into the food before they stop reading…Zizi Limona drinks

The Falafel plate, Aunt Trippo’s Falafel is of the Revelation kind.  Who is this Aunt Trippo and what is she smoking?  Golden, crisped to perfection balls sitting on top of this brilliant curry Tahini yogurt which I swear I just had this same sauce somewhere but cant remember where.  Pickle, and some ultra tasty smoked tomato to round up this little one.  I would come back just for this.  The next aunt is another Crazy Baba, as in Babaganoush, but this one is “greened” with basil and is spot on.  You will be hard pressed finding a better Baba in the city including in Brighton Beach.  Rule of thumb in Israeli spots, if you see Grilled  Cauliflower, order 17 of those.  This grilled beauty included artichokes and did not disappoint.  When you find yourself with three plates sitting there where you cant quite decide which direction your fork should go, you either came to the absolute wrong place, or the right one.  Loved the apps here.

Baba

Baba

grilled veggies

grilled veggies

Falafel

Falafel

The Chicken Shawarma served on thick solid Hummus is what every Chicken Shawarma should taste like.  The Cowshuka was far from your ordinary Shakshuka, where much of the tomato stew was substituted with Tahini, with eggs and in this case “I cant believe its not polish sausages” sausages that won me over (top pic).  More of their Hummus came in the form of the Hummus Masabacha with eggplant, hard boiled egg, and tahini.  For the Brooklyn Challenged, you can also get a nice Masabacha in Nish Nush in the city.  We capped this one off with an exceptional Malabi.  $90 later, all I can say is that I cant wait to have dinner here.  GO!  Nice to meet you Zizi.  Ziggy

Zizi Limona
129 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn
$$
Recommended Dishes: All of the above, especially the small plates

Masabacha

Masabacha

Shawarma

Shawarma

Zizi Limona

 

Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vasectomy Tips for Foodies

3_GreenGiant72I believe we already established that this is not your ordinary food/travel blog.  If you can find another food blogger that posts about vasectomies I will take you to a restaurant of your my choice and pick up the tab.  So while you are busy Googling your way to a free meal, here are some tips and general observations about this most misunderstood procedure.  But why for “Foodies”, Ziggy?  Well, who else is reading this blog.  Certainly not politicians, or health professionals.  Unless they are Foodies.

The procedure is misunderstood because its not really much of a procedure.  But instead of telling you all about it, I would rather direct you to the place that taught me everything I needed to know about Vasectomy.  So now that you are on your way to half-manhood…

Try scheduling the procedure before some major Sporting events like US Open Tennis/Golf, Football Sunday, or anything else you are interested in.  So you could at least enjoy the time off.  The recovery time is usually 48 hours, but take all the time you need.  Remember, this is your time to shine (so to speak, no pun intended. If shining gets really bad consult your dr)

Make sure you are booked for the morning.  Some doctors will tell you that the time of the booking will be determined closer to the date, but you need to be on top of this since you will not be able to eat for a while prior to the procedure.  So a 2:00 PM procedure for example is almost the equivalent of a Yom Kippur fast.

Office romance is an often overlooked benefit. Look at the overall picture, beyond your original reasons.  But before you start looking for any hotels that charge by the hour, and before you start hitting the bars again, you need to wait a few weeks in order to “clean the pipes”

Another big benefit is all the legit “My dog ate my homework” type excuses that come with it….

“Ziggy, can you finish the report by the end of the day” – “Sorry sir, but I have a Vasectomy scheduled for this afternoon”
“Sir, It will be 30 minutes”  “Can you make it faster, I have a Vasectomy coming up”
“Dude why are you home watching Ellen” – “I had a Vasectomy”
“Dad, can Jennifer sleep over” – “Sorry not today, dad is recovering from a Vasectomy”
“Can you throw out the garbage” – “Vasectomy!”

Get the picture?  You cant get better excuses than this.  Use it 3 times a day or as directed.

Use frozen peas instead of Ice pack for easier application to the infected area.  And yes, most likely you wont look at frozen peas the same way again.

You dont have to lift anything heavy for the rest of your life marriage

Remember Mr Foodie, this is the equivalent of you giving birth.  Make the recovery a little worse than it is.  Use phrases like “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!” to get your message across, and you are all set for at least a few months

Coming up next year – Vasectomy Reversal Tips for Foodies

Categories: New York City | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

All’onda – New Wave Riding with Giada

All'ondaAll’onda in Italian means “Wave”, pertaining perhaps to the soupy Risotto Astice prepared All’onda style which will make waves if you tilt your plate (versus drier risottos like in Piedmont).  Or it may relate to the new wave style of Asian influenced Italian cooking that chef Chris Jaeckle, formerly with EMP and Ai Fiori, is trying to introduce.  Or perhaps 30 years later my obsession with new wave music is not going away anytime soon, and now reflected in my blog post titles.  Every restaurant in the world should have Depeche Mode or the Smiths in its soundtrack and just like that the world’s conflicts are solved.  With the exception of Pure Thai Cookhouse, who’s funky Thai disco matches the atmosphere and Thai porn posters perfectly.

But I digress.  I cant even recall the music at All’onda.  All I remember is the food, and the long line to the bathroom upon arrival.  The line consisted of roughly 100% of members of my family but still.  They found out the hard way that stopping at Starbucks before a long drive from Woodbury Commons is not as brilliant of an idea as they originally thought.  Women Schwomen you know what I’m saying?

But I digress, again.  I always associate “Venetian Cuisine” with all those beautiful creatures found in the Venetian lagoon.   Like the amazing bay scallops you can see in one of my rotating top pictures which you can find just about every day in the greatest outdoor museum on the planet, Rialto Market.  So before the meal you could color me ‘I don’t get it’.  But after trying some cichetti (Venetian inspired snacks), Risotto Astice, clams, and evidence of Nero di Seppia on a previous menu, I see just enough similarities.  Perhaps “Influenced” is the more appropriate word in the description, but it just doesn’t sound as convincing.  Although it didn’t finish as strong as I was hoping, this was still an outstanding meal

So we started with the aforementioned Venetian style Cichetti.  Perfectly buttery chicken liver, pickled cherries and hazelnuts Crostini worked very well.  You got to start with some Crostini as soon as you pull up your gondola on Canal Street.  The Arancini here were oozing with flavor and black truffle aroma.  They will add Arancini balls as necessary for your party

All'onda Crostini All'onda - Arancini

From the lagoons of Rhode Island, comes this Calamari, fried to perfection with pickled peppers, white wine, and sopressata.  I like ordering fried Calamari in places like to make up for all those horrible fried calamari I’ve eaten in the outer boroughs in the nerdy years.  Same idea goes for the Clams Casino with pancetta and panko which is Japanese breadcrumbs (made from crustless bread).  Problem with the clams is that they are not very shareable, and at $15 for 5 not a whole lot of value.

All'onda Calamari All'onda clams

The pastas here were outrageous.  Oversized Agnolotti filled with Mortadella, and topped with pistachios, Soppressata and  homemade XO sauce, a fishy (in a very good way) Chinese sauce, this one made with dried shrimp and scallops.  Don’t let the fishy part deter you.  The sauce, along with the Soppressata adds nice depth to the Agnolotti which in this case would not survive on its own.  Get this.  The zesty Garganelli with sweet peekytoe crab and tarragon was another winner.  peekytoe crab is another one of those recent made up names describing those little crabs the Maine fishermen used to throw out until one NY chef stepped in, added it to the menu, and a market was born.  The Lobster Risotto (Astice) came in Venetian style soupy, but toughened up eventually and was quite good.

All'onda Agnolotti All'onda GarganelliAll'onda Risotto

Here’s where things started to tail off.  I ordered the Short Rib for 2 to be shared with all of us.  Its $62 for this little beast which is quite reasonable.  Upon the first few bites I was transported to short rib heaven, where everyone looks like Giada De Laurentiis and Alba white truffles are available year round, and shaved daily on your pasta, by one of the Giadas.. before she brings the short rib.  Ah my Giadachka!  Ok, where was I?  Oh ye, so I was enjoying this super tender slow cooked Giada meat, until I opened my eyes and realized I was the lone enjoyer.  The rest of the family had major issues with the amount of fat content they had to struggle with and just gave up on the meat too soon.  Still, I would recommend this for 2 people without children

The desserts were lackluster.   Hazelnut mousse was pretty to look at but with zero substance, like Paris Hilton.  We all disliked it and gave up on it quite early.  Same goes for the Affogato, one small scoop of Vanilla with Amaretto Espresso in an ashtray.  I bet Giada can make a killer Affogato, in a glass, like we have every year at our favorite restaurant in the world, Caicos Café in Turks and Caicos.

Giada if you reading, I would like to invite you to All’onda where we feast on Asian flavored pastas, learn how to say Pancetta, and make the Affogato together, wearing appropriate cooking attire

All’onda
22 E 13th St
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Crostini, Arancini, Calamari, Agnolotti, Garganelli

All'onda Hazelnut Mousse All'onda Affogato

 

 

Categories: New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Chicken and Wine

photo (10)Is the new Pizza and Beer.  Sometimes tasty surprises come at the most unexpected times, which is why they are called tasty surprises.  I’m in the process of writing about yet another “one of those meals” I had the other day but I’m just running out of time, so instead I decided to write about my day today so far (Yeepee, how exciting!  I know, right?)

At noon today I took a wine class with Corkbuzz in Union Square, examining the great reds of Piedmont and Tuscany.  While I’m mostly already familiar with Tuscan wines overall, I still learned a great deal about them, such as the story behind bad boys “Super Tuscans”.  But it was Piedmont I was mostly interested in, to prepare for my upcoming white truffle orgy trip in the fall.  We tasted some fine Brunello (which made me dizzy just thinking about all the zigzagging Ziggy Andretti did on the way to Montalcino last summer which got some of us sick), Super Tuscan, Barbaresco, Barolo and more.  All nice and dandy, until master Sommelier and owner of Corkbuzz,  Laura Maniec poured a bonus bottle of 2000 Pianpolvere Soprano Barolo Bussia Riserva that  made the other Barolo, and everything else seem light and uneventful.  Dark, intensely aromatic (I can still smell it as I type) with big tannins, and a beautiful finish.  Hints of plum, vanilla, and scallions (I wonder how long it was stuck between my teeth as I didnt have any today).  Quite a lovely bottle, and the heaviest one I ever held.  This was a very informative class overall and I’m looking forward for more from Laura, but its really just Italian wines I’m into
photo (9)
So I come out and right away I realize that my much anticipated pasta appointment across the street at All’onda is cancelled because they are not open for lunch on weekends.  The Chutzpah!  So what to do, where to eat.  All that truffle talk with my neighbors at Corkbuzz got me in the mood for truffles so I was ready to settle for truffle oil with Pappardelle and sausage at nearby old fave Da Andrea.  Oops, DA never open for lunch which I keep forgetting.  Perhaps go to Gaia finally? Mighty Quinn’s for wings?  Random filthy thoughts fill my mind.  Oh what I’d do to that Motorino Pizza right now.
But then I remembered the recently opened Root and Bone and their infamous fried chicken, so off to Alphabet City I Citibike.  Let me tell you folks about this crazy bird.  Insanity in a basket.  Sweet and zesty, dusted with dehydrated lemon powder which looks sort of weird at first.  The bird is brined in sweet tea, onions and garlic for 24 hours before drying, and is simply marvelous.  Cant get much better than this in NYC.  Bike, dont run to Root and Bone folks
photo (11)
Categories: East Village, New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Reasons to Visit the New NoMad Bar

116

Bay Scallops marinated with yuzu & pistachio

10. The place is sort of neat looking.

9.  They have a Chicken Pot Pie that will make you wish you were Amish

8.  Their head bartender has more moves than Nicky Minaj

7.  Their carrot tartar will make you eat carrots

6.  You just realized while reading this that on your last visit to NYC you went to the wrong nomad.  It happens quite often actually.  Like 1 out of 10 Australian tourists go to the other nomad.  Cabbies love it.

5.  Their Bay Scallops will make you eat carrots.

4.  The Cocktail Explosion will make you wish you were into Selfies more, like your close friend Betty

3.  Their 28 day Dry-Aged Burger will make you finally Google “Adult Diapers”.

2.  You could finally say you ate chicken at the NoMad

1.  Their Fries will make your kids put their phones away and tell you about their day

NoMad Bar Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie black truffle & foie gras

121

Burger dry-aged with cheddar, red onion & pickles

NoMad Bar Duck Sausage

Duck sausage with pickled ramps & cherries

NoMad Bar Carrot Tartar

Carrot tartare sunflower seeds & mustard Quail egg

NoMad Bar Pudding

Cookies & Cream ice cream with chocolate crunch, Banana pudding with rum & brioche

NoMad Bar Chocolate

Candy Bar, with dark chocolate and caramel

NoMad Bar Cheesecakes

Cheesecake strawberry & shortbread

115 NoMad Bar

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ivan the Formidable

Ivan Ramen Salmon DonburiWe all heard the story before hundreds of times.  A Jew from Long Island moves to Japan to teach English, moves back to the states, attends The Culinary Institute of America, leaves his heart in Japan so comes back to Tokyo, gets bored out of his mind and learns how to cook Ramen (just about the last thing that crosses my mind when I’m bored).  So he opens the first restaurant in Tokyo, finds success and opens another… moves back to NYC to open the Slurp Shop at Gotham West market and the flagship Ivan Ramen in East Village.  10 months later, over a dozen visits to the Slurp Shop and over a dozen whitefish Donburis, two visits to the new joint in East Village, and needless to say… Ziggy is a fan of the Ivan.

The Slurp Shop

I’ve already written extensively about Hell’s Kitchen’s main attraction these days, Gotham West Market, the home of the first Ivan outpost.  The Slurp Shop is normally the last stop of my monthly food crawls.  Problem is by the time we get here more often than not, tummy is already full.  The menu settled down over the year and features some unique staples like…

Slow-Cooked Pork Donburi - Another fun rice concoction with super tender pork shoulder, scallion, salted plum wasabi, and chunky roasted tomatoes proving nice balance and much needed acidity.

Ivan Ramen - Pork Donburi

Roasted Garlic Mazemen – I must admit the Mazemen here is more exciting to me than the traditional Ramen.  Mazemen is almost brothless ramen, but packs in more flavor and intensity.  This one comes with Nori, dashi, chicken broth, pork belly chashu, and the same rye noodle as the traditional ramen.  Garlic lovers especially may find this dish quite formidable.  Yes, I’m officially adding formidable to my vocabulary.

Ivan Ramen - Garlic Mazemen

Ramen – I cant find any pictures of any of the Ramen I tried here.  Most likely due to the way I attack them once I see them.  I believe I tried all of them except the vegetarian one and all are quite good in their own way.  The Tokyo classics Shio and Shoyu are cleaner and purer than most of the modern Ramens out there.

Whitefish Donburi – Perhaps my favorite dish in GWM but admittedly not for everyone (what is really).  White rice mixed with sweet soy dashi and topped with cucumber, scallion, salmon roe, and beautiful smoked whitefish.  Jewish heritage meets Japanese school girl.  Or something like that

Ivan Ramen Whitefish Donburi

Ivan Ramen

Lower East Side is the new East Village.  I can spend a year here and eat something delicious and different every day.  The new Ivan Ramen flagship complicates things even further for those locals that cant decide whether they are in the mood for Burritos, Ribs, Ramen or Israeli Scotch Eggs.  This is more of a sit down than the Slurp Shop, which basically means slurping isnt as encouraged here.  And the menu is quite different and fuller…

Pickled Daikon – shaved daikon (the radish white milder shy cousine), dried shrimp, scallop chili oil.  I expected fishier flavors from the shrimp but it was more reminiscent texture wise of the most freakish tasting bread crumbs ever.  Get this!

Ivan Ramen Pickled Daik0n

Chinese Broccoli & Garlic – Another cold winner.  You taste the Broccoli with that sweet garlic soy sauce and go “well this is nice..”, but then you taste the pickled garlic and the world suddenly beginning to makes sense again

Ivan Ramen Chinese Broccoli & Garlic

Pork Meatballs – Its texturally impossible to come up with more tender balls.  Garnished with bonito flakes, buttermilk dressing, and Japans official unofficial sauce, Bulldog brown sauce.  Marvelous dish!  And no, I’m not adding “texturally” to my vocabulary because its not a real word

Ivan Ramen Pork Meatballs

Tofu Coney Island – A playful and enjoyable take on the Nathan Hotdog.  Fried tofu topped with miso mushroom chili, mustard, and scallion.  Enjoyed this one

Ivan Ramen Tofu Coney Island

Categories: Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tourist in My Own Town – Day 4

136   Partially thanks to the new view, I slept like a baby.  I woke up every 3 hours needed to be fed and changed.  I’m attaching a picture of the “Courtyard View” which I requested over the street view we got last week.  We checked out after playing a game we invented called “I spy a courtyard” (I won!) and off we went to Everyman Espresso for another fantastic latte.

We are walkers, especially in the morning, and on this morning we decided to walk all the way to Battery Park passing approx 17 neighborhoods on the way give or take.  East Village, West Village, South Village, Greenwich Village, Nolita, South East Village, Chinatown, Soho, you get the picture.  Free tip for men:  The best time to walk through Soho is Sunday morning where its nice and quiet, and all the stores are closed!

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143We reach the Irish Hunger Memorial, dedicated to the million Irish killed in the great potato famine around 1850.  The great hunger led to millions fleeing to NYC, New Orleans, Australia and the relocation greatly shaped many NYC neighborhoods especially Hell’s Kitchen.  Its a memorial, not a museum, so there’s not a whole lot to see, but its fairly unique.  Large stones were brought in from the different Irish counties to represent them, and other stones were brought in to replicate a typical 1850 Irish cottage.

The transformation from the hustle and bustle of the city to Battery Park is akin to travelling from Milan to a small unassuming Italian Village with fewer cars, tourists, and more families.  We walked by the water toward our main destination of the day passing unique playgrounds, nice looking lawns with stunning settings, beach volleyball, and skateboard courts.  Kids here have it all.  When I was a kid, all I had was a tiny toy soldier, and a pack of cigarettes (I started smoking at 5, quit when 6, true story).  The Times They Are a-Changin’.

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156It may sound strange to new readers, but perfectly fine to the rest, that I built the entire day around a Lobster Roll.  Well, not just a Lobster Roll.  The Grand Banks is a Schooner (a ship for the German readers) that is parked off Pier 25 and offers one of the best lobster rolls in town until November when they go south.  The roll is done Maine style which means cold, and I’m not the biggest fan of Maine style rolls unless they are done right using the meatiest parts of the lobster.  This one features plenty of Maine claw meat with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumbers and worth every penny of the $25.  Fries would have been nice but the potato chips are spiced so very nicely.  “Is Very Nice!” Borat would have said.  The boat rocks by the way.  I mean literally.  At some point after a few beers, the thought of pirates came creeping in.  The Somali type!

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We then picked up CitiBikes and rode Hudson River Park a bit toward Chelsea and the Highline.  By this point Mrs Z is like a pro, utilizing all her fingers and command of the language.  I’m very lucky to have her.  The Highline on a Sunday afternoon is Meshugenah!  Crazy busy.  At some point we were stuck behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was a zoo!

Real tourists, you are standing on the wrong line.  Instead of tacos, you need to stand for the greatest Brisket in the tri-state area, Delaney’s Brisket.  It was comical to see no line to this while a long line for the tacos.  A trip to Briskettown the flagship in Williamsburg may also be necessary if you are a brisket fan.  I once drove for takeout with the Hummus Whisperer to bring back to Staten Island.  Also right next to Delaney is great gelato from L’Arte del Gelato and not too far, north is a La Newyorkina stand offering artisanal ice pops.  Don’t discount those stands, as this is great stuff folks.

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We shared the brisket sandwich, with the 2 great sides, and off we went to the subway to catch the L to cross East to 1st Ave.  We then picked up the bikes again and rode them all the way to 60th, and I must say once again, if Mrs Z can do this, so can anyone.  And besides, 1st and 2nd avenues are great for bikers and very Obamacare friendly since all the hospitals are right there.

We took the Roosevelt tram to Roosevelt Island.  I was there a few weeks ago for the first time and this time came back with Mrs Z for her first time.  Again, I went the south route to the new FDR memorial park via the only ruins in the city of New York (Smallpox hospital).  FDR has a special meaning for us since we met in FDR high school in Brooklyn (awwwwe!).  Cant say enough about New York parks these days

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I picked dinner close to the tram and for me it was a no brainer especially after the movie the day before, Moti Mahal Delux.  Locals and most visitors may not realize that this is actually part of a world wide empire chain, originating in India.  While menu wise it didn’t feel as sexy as a Kokum, Chote Nawab, and some other we’ve visited over the years, this was a solid North Indian fare.

Evening time, we realize we have kids, they are coming tomorrow, and fridge is empty.  Back to Union Square and Whole Foods.  But right before, we found ourselves singing and dancing with Israel supporters at Union Square Park, which over time became a center for political rallies.

After Whole Foods we loaded the car next to Liquiteria, a new location right in front of the Hyatt which I only noticed on Day 3.  Got my favorite juice the Grasshopper, and back home to Staten Island.

And thats all she wrote folks.  Now if someone volunteers to take my kids to Aruba (or Turks and Caicos) next year again, I would write another NYC Trip Report.  But, until then…Ciao baby!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

 

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Categories: East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Midtown East, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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