Hell’s Kitchen Taco Crawl



I have to make this one short and sweet.  My oldest who is now obsessed with everything zombies, finally convinced me to catch up with the Walking Dead.  That’s pretty much my evenings this week, between throwing out the garbage and taking out the dishes (I havent proved yet that I can put them IN the dish washer yet, but I’m getting there).  I dont even have the time to produce some nice pictures for you on this one, but I may do it later.  Besides, tacos I find, are the least photogenic food items out there.  Many look sort of messy or the same, and as soon as I get them I want to eat them quickly before they get cold.

In Hell’s Kitchen these days you cant sneeze outside anymore without a Mexican resaturant owner going “gazuntai, come on in, we have something for that”. It seems like every week something new opens up, and we are suddenly spoiled for choice.  This walk will give you a nice taste of the Hell’s Kitchen Mexican scene, and at the very least some ideas on where you can get some nice meals.

Shrimp Taco at Otto’s Tacos (9th 48/49).  One of the newer kids on the block, and a nice intro to the taco scene.  Get your Horchata here too (as opposed to the other places).  The rest of the tacos are fine as well, but this is my favorite

Fish Taco at Ponche Taqueria & Cantina (49th 9/10).  I would ask for grilled instead of tempura’d.  Al Pastor here on the sweet side but nice flavor as well

Al Pastor at Tehuitzingo (10th 47/48).  And/or the Lengua.  And/or the Goat.  Oh fuck it, get all three and share.  This place is getting very popular for good reason

Carnitas at Parada 47 (47th 10/11).  Former bodega recently reopened with the same cook David (say hi from Ziggy).  I like it here because its not discovered yet (and I’m doing such a great job keeping it that way).  Its like my little Mexican oasis.  Go to the front, order, sit, repeat

That should fill you up.  For dessert head across the street for a Canotto Dolce at Sullivan Street Bakery, or better yet head to Gotham West Market for the sick Ample Hills Creamery salted crack caramel.  If you still want more tacos, you can have more at Choza at Gotham West, or better yet try the fish tacos at Genuine Roadside.  While not a taco, a spicy chicken empanada from Empanada Mama can also be included in the walk (after Otto)

Enjoy!  let me know how it goes

Otto's Tacos

Otto’s Tacos

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Sim Sim – Staten Island’s Lone Uzbek is Legit

photo (4)The island of Staten is not exactly blessed with great dining.  Other than Sri Lankan I cant think of any reason to pay the hefty toll to go there.  Did you ever wonder why Enoteca Maria and Vida are on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list for what seems like forever.  The French inspectors are just way too busy to make room for Staten Island on their schedule.  Some may say pizza is another good reason to come, and to those I’d say you can find just as good or better in the other boroughs.  You just need to know where to look to find them.

Sim Sim is not another reason to travel all the way to the Midland section of the island, but it’s a solid alternative, and new experience for the islanders.  While Manhattan is not exactly known for great Uzbek (I cant think of one decent), you do have plenty of good ones in south Brooklyn (Kashkar Café, Nargis to name a few).  But the island residents have finally a legitimate Uzbek that can perhaps open the doors to some competition.  And competition, as always, is the healthiest recipe.  When you bump into the lone Indian restaurant in Pocatello, Idaho, you can bet your Vindaloo that you probably did not exactly discover a jewel.  But Sim Sim is closer to the exception than the rule

At the helm in the kitchen is an Uyghur cook (ethnic group living in villages all over Asia), dishing out all the Uzbek classics… Manti, Samsa, Plov (this one with raisins) and those chicken kebabs that require that special Uzbek touch.  The Uzbeks know how to grill em.  The cook comes early in the morning to start the preparations that includes pulled Lagman noodles, at this point only available in soup form.  The place is small and homey.  Freshly renovated and decorated to resemble a casual Uzbek hang out place.  The owner is Russian who operated the previous incarnation of the space, but now somewhat bravely, trying to insert some freshness into the island.  No alcohol permit here, so bring your vodka, though a solid Kompot (Russian fruit punch) is always available

Sim Sim Staten Island photo (1) photo (2) photo


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

EWZ Editorial: Michelin is the Devil



So yesterday the unimaginable finally happened.  Just thinking about it gives me the chills.  I left my office for lunch and 5 minutes later I realized that I left my phone in the office!  My choices were… 1) Go back to the office to grab the phone, and 2) Continue walking and risk the unknown.  I havent walked out without the phone in a very long time, hence, “unknown”.  I once left to throw out the garbage without it, but I quickly came back unharmed.  So I decided to brave it out and risk it all.  As a result I immediately changed the food plan and opted for something quicker and nearer, convincing myself that the reason being is that its a little nippy outside (by nippy I mean my nipples were starting to erect).  Throughout the walk I kept touching my left pocket as if the phone could miraculously reappear.  No doubt someone thought I may have been groping myself.  The entire 20 minutes felt like a scene from Naked and Afraid, except much much worse.  While waiting for my sandwich, I actually had to talk to another human this time.  Did she forget her phone as well?  I even had enough time to go to the liquor store next door and discover a 2009 Barolo for under $50 before my sandwich was ready.  Two bottles of wine, $55 lighter, and meeting a cute Russian girl later, I can tell you that this phoneless 20 minutes were not so bad.  I may even try it again in a year or so.  Why Ziggy are you showering us with this nonsense in a post about Michelin.  Stay tight.  I have a transition…

Simply put Apple, Samsung, and your other favorite phone manufacture got us by the balls.  Its the constant need to be connected at all times that is like a most powerful drug.  What is the first thing you do after a flight, or a meeting.  Connect!  Sad, isnt it?  In a way after 11 years, Michelin took the restaurant scene in NYC by the balls as well.  How did they do it?  Proper PRing, fame, and doing something no one else is doing.  Dishing out stars.  Like parents dishing out stars to their two year olds after pooping in a potty.  The other day, the stars for 2016 were announced, and before that the Bib Gourmand list was announced.  The anticipation is Oscars like, and the results always result in tears, anger, tears of joy and plenty of controversy.  For the controversy, you can Google to your heart content and read about it on Grubstreet and Eater.  Instead, I will try to explain in 500 words or less why Michelin should be much less relevant in NYC than it currently is.

Lets start with the main issue.  These guys are not from here.  What would the French think when New York Time starts dishing out stars in Paris.  Or perhaps something more appropriate like Goodyear dishing those stars.  How much merit would I get if I start telling Parisians on Chowhound where they should go eat in their home town.  Exhibit A:  Michelin just awarded Hometown in Red Hook a Bib Gourmand (“exceptional good food at moderate prices”).  Fine.  But does this mean that a visitor to NYC should schlep all the way to Red Hook for  decent BBQ?  Did the inspectors ever inspect the glorious Mighty Quinn beef rib, or the brisket from Briskettown?  How well does Michelin really understand our BBQ scene?  Better than Grub Street or Eater?  Hometown has good stuff no doubt, but certainly not superior to MQ, and is perhaps the most uncomfortable BBQ joint out there with its long painful lines

Issue two:  What is up with the I shall giveth and I then shall taketh it away just like that.  Michelin is like a life-time achievement award that chefs dream about from young age.  No other achievement is as newsworthy including stars (more like grades after reviews) given by New York Times which understand the dining scene here much more.  Its that perception that results from the name that always gets us intrigued and chefs extremely proud.  You show me a chef that says Michelin is meaningless here, and I’ll show you a chef without Michelin stars.  The ones that get it proudly display theirs above everything else, including NYT stars, and even Eating With Ziggy.  Even if you were under the opinion that Michelin Stars were meaningless before, you showcase those stars out of fear that you may lose them and the new-found status.  But how much do those stars mean when the god-like inspectors simply take them away a year later.  Does that mean that Annita Lo who is one of our most celebrated chefs, cooking for a state dinner at the white house in fact tonight, forgot how to cook and is no longer star worthy.  What would that reason be anyway?  A dry snapper, overcooked chicken, or just a bad day?  Maybe a slight menu divergence or inconsistency that is not consistent enough with “Michelin Star Establishments”.  Can star restaurants have bad days?

And what exactly did Danji do to lose that star last year.  Their menu has been practically unchanged since they got the star.  I’ve been eating their signatures (wings, tofu, sliders, bibimbap) and more ever since they opened and in all my visits those items were prepared the same exact way.  Was the expectation for chef Hooni Kim to up the ante and make every item, every nightly special, and every daring move work like a charm just because he now owns a Michelin star?  That’s well above my expectations from the casual Danji.  Mercato’s menu is even more stable.  In fact in all those years I’ve been frequenting Mercato I dont believe I’ve ever seen a menu change.  Like a true trattoria, one should pay attention to the nightly specials, and I certainly wouldnt expect every nightly special to be magical.  So what exactly did Mercato and their long time chef do to be removed from the Bib Gourmand list.

And what qualifies as a Michelin Star establishment anyway.  Something tells me even the inspectors are still confused about that.  “Exceptional good food at moderate prices” – that is a recipe for a Bib Gourmand inclusion.  Ok, we get that.  To be more specific, the magic number is $40.  As in you can have a solid two course meal for $40.  Was that their bill when they awarded the tag to Ssam Bar?  Highly doubt that.  I cant walk out of Ssam Bar without paying around double that.  Untitled at the new Whitney?  No way I’m walking out of there with under $150 for two.  Somtum Der?  Yes, that’s more like it.  But wait a minute, Somtum Der is no longer on the list.  Instead they were just awarded a STAR!  Which means they moved up from “Exceptional good food at moderate prices” to “A very good restaurant in its category”.  I like Somtum Der just like the next guy, but Michelin Star it is not.  Its that perception of Michelin I mentioned earlier that gets people excited, and part of that perception is the standards one expects from a Michelin Star establishment.  Somtum Der doesnt even have a little bench for your man purse!  How can we send Michelin experience seekers to a Somtum Der over something like Annisa.  Somtum Der replaced similarly priced Zabb Elee in the star column which is another strange move.  Since ZE stardom is so short lived, that begs the question, how long can Somtum Der keep its star.  Both would be solid choices as Bib Gourmands instead.  Michelin simply put is having trouble keeping up with the NY pace and the magnitude of our diversity.  Eating in NY is much different than Europe

There are good names on those lists no doubt.  But I would never send someone to a Baci & Abbracci over Mercato or Bar Pitti, or Osteria Morini.  And where’s Maialino and Marta.  Someone quick tell the line at Mission Chinese Food and Totto Ramen that they are not Michelined.  And when was the last time the inspectors crossed the bridge to Staten Island for long time Bibs Enoteca Maria and Vida, or try something new like the many great Sri Lankans the island has to offer.  Where are the great recent year additions of Contra, Cosme, and Estela.  Is the list better than a list die hard local hounds can put together on Chowhound?  I highly doubt it.  But to Mr and Mrs average visitor, that’s the NY food bible, written by a visitor.  And as long as its called Michelin, this devil is here to stay to {possibly} stir you wrong.

Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

This is Königssee

2151Did you think I was done with our Austrian/Czech Trip?  Think again.  I only left out possibly the best day.  The German day.  Specifically Berchtesgadener National Park near the Austrian border.  In fact for us, driving from Salzburg, it didnt seem like we are venturing into the German side.  The weather that day was misty, and fairly cloudy throughout the day, but got better after lunch.  And oh boy what lunch it was at the marvelous lake side Echostuberl, despite our much anticipated “Ya we have good Oxtail” turning out to be the 5th pork knuckle of the trip.

If I have to give one tip about this one to those researching, dont miss the stunning Obersee, the stop at the end.  So many get off the church and come back.  Its not only Obersee itself, but the walk to it, and the cows.  Perhaps the luckiest cows on the planet.  Ok, getting hungry… here are some pictures

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Harry & Ida’s – Meet our New Pastrami King

Harry & Ida's PastramiA lot of excitement lately centered around the pope’s visit to America and NYC.  For the past few days, he cruised central park and 5th avenue, met with our leaders, played with children in Harlem, and crowned our new Pastrami king in Alphabet City.  Ok, I’m not too sure about the last one, but that’s what I hear from my sources, Michael and Gabriel.  Either way, Harry and Ida’s deserves the title.  For too long Katz’s was at the helm doing a magnificent job satisfying tourists and locals alike, about 10 minutes from Harry & Ida’s.  Though H&I is not really replacing Katz’s any time soon.  Its the size of a shoe repair store without any tables, and a small counter by the entrance can accommodate about three food photographers.

When you first walk inside Harry & Ida’s for the first, you essentially sign a contract for life, or the duration of the place whichever ends sooner.  You are asked two simple but lethal questions.  “Have you been here before”, and “Would you like to taste some Pastrami”.  Yes, I suppose that if you are a vegetarian you may throw up a little bit inside at the thought, but as for the rest of us, its a point of no return.  You get two hefty, juicy pieces, far from your average deli sample.  One bite and…done, contract is signed, “One pastrami sandwich please”.  I invite the owners/manager to comment here please, and tell us if anyone ever left without getting more.  It doesn’t seem like its scientifically possible.

downloadThe pastrami sandwich is not very pretty looking at first glance, especially to pastrami purists like me.  It has dill, and cucumbers, and more importantly it has dill. WTF?  With that said, lets pause for a sec for a bathroom break, and a tip…

EWZ Tip:  If you come across a sandwich in NYC that has dill in it, its not a sign of a good sandwich, its a sign of a GREAT sandwich.  Dill is one of the ugliest things you can put inside a sandwich, and a sure bet to scare some people away.  But dill adds a nice flavor and aroma, and is specially complimentary in the summer, and over fish like salmon.  And partially due to that ugliness, its normally a sign of great craftsmanship.  “I don’t give a hoot about popular public opinion, I’m doing it my way”

The sandwich in a word is Maaaaarvelous (For my friends at Turks and Caicos who are smiling at this spelling).  It looks ugly at first, but after a few bites, it looks like the prettiest sandwich on the planet.  Thick, plentiful, tender, perfectly spiced slices can convert any purists out there.  One of the most delicious sandwiches I ever had in NYC, and I’ve had many.

These guys are no strangers to the art of smoked meats.  This is the sibling duo behind Ducks Eatery which I first tried a few years back at the Grub Street Food Festival.  Harry and Ida are their great grandparents who inspired this masterpiece.  There are more reasons to go back.  Like the much talked about hot dog, or the smoked eel.  But if they ask me that second question again, “would you like to try our pastrami”, how can I?

Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.
189 Avenue A (East 11/12)

Harry & Ida'sHarry & Ida's Out Harry & Ida's books

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

Arco Café – A Taste of Sardinia on UWS

Arco Cafe CrabThe little joys in life.  Walking in Central Park, conversing with a three year old again, eating ice cream on a hot day, watching an entire show with your kids without an erectile dysfunction commercial these days, and stumbling upon a restaurant without any prior research and having a good meal.  What?  Ziggy?  Are you ill?  Did you forget to pick a place prior to your visit to Central Park North.  That’s very unlikely of you.  Oh I did pick a place alright, but it just happened to be in East Village for a stop on the drive back.  A change of plans as we felt like eating right there and then, and so this little gem was discovered.

Upper West Side has always been a culinary wasteland in my mind compared to other neighborhoods, but that notion is based on history rather than present times.  The truth is anything past 75th street is pretty much a foreign area to me.  And if I’m driving anywhere near there, it usually means I’m on my way out of town.  So finding something rather good in that part of the woods felt satisfying and refreshing.  Like finding an authentic Peruvian on the Venice Beach Boarwalk last month.  Or perhaps the hummus obsessed inner Ziggy read it a Acco, a town in North Israel boasting some of the best hummus on the planet

Arco Cafe

Courtesy of Arco Cafe

Arco is one of those places where you need to pay special attention to the specials board.  The only thing better than menus?  No menus.  Something Yogi Berra who passed yesterday might say (RIP).  Arco has a menu of course as its almost impossible to be without one in NYC unless your name is Momofuku Ko.  But its the board that’s got the freshest, most exciting goodies.  Like the pasta special that looked like Strozzapretti with eggplant and dry ricotta.  Or the expertly cooked soft shell crab which was sitting on this simple but addictive string bean salad.  Swordfish, a fish I’m not fond of.  While this swordfish did not rock my world and turned me into a fan, I found it more enjoyable and not as dry as others I tried in the city.

Malloreddus is small Sardinian Cavateli.  The only other Malloreddus I’ve had was at Mercato in Hell’s Kitchen, a place that has more things in common with Arco.  This Malloreddus was topped with a sausage ragu and tomato sauce that will convert any “red sauce” haters.  No complaints about the Caprese nor the Fritto Misto (more great spicy red sauce).  The only dish I would not order again is the Gnocchi which was the fresh, super soft kind (I prefer a tougher texture), but that’s just personal preference.  I’m guessing its a good idea to stick to the Sardinian stuff here.  Desserts were good.

Arco is the type of neighborhood place that needs to be cherished. Very often we eat at places that make us feel like we just ate at a corporation (I’m looking at you Casa Mono) that only cares about serving you as soon as possible in order to free your table.  While family owned places like Arco, Mercato, and Bar Pitti, whether you agree or disagree with their tactics sometimes, have more of a personality, more personable, and understand how to make you happy.  Check out Arco!

Arco Cafe
886 Amsterdam Ave
Recommended Dishes: Malloreddus, Specials
Arco Cafe MalloreddusArco Cafe gnocchi Arco pasta special

Categories: New York City, Upper West Side | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Three Days in San Francisco



This post was supposed to be a lot better, and longer.  Instead of eating our way through the famous Ferry Building Farmers Market, we spent the time struggling with United Airlines reps who cancelled our flight at the last minute. “But mam, you don’t understand, we need to be there for the Roti Roti Porchetta, and something called Loco Moco, 6 hours from now.  I’m a famous food blogger and this is perhaps my last chance for a Loco Moco, whatever that is”.  No dice!  No Ferry Building Market for us.  But we managed, persevered, and even made it to the Ferry building eventually.

Its been 15 years between visits for us.  Last time it was the sardines, the wine, and the rise of the female chef.  While this time it was the burrito, Carne Cruda and Full House.  Yes, this time with Full House obsessed kids who needed to see every FH site including the house, the painted ladies, and famous Stamos arrest sites.  The Painted Ladies thing totally fooled me I must say, due to my daily proximity to this scene in Times Square.  I just wasn’t expecting buildings.  And as I was admiring these beauties, I couldn’t help but shed a tear for the last two goldfish Ziggy Jr and Ziggy Jr Jr who tragically committed suicide while enduring all these Full House hours in that room

San Francisco food scene is undeniably good.  Farm to Table concept doesn’t exists here because its pretty much assumed.  Chefs enjoying easier access to raw materials and longer seasons.  “Its easier to cook here” is what I keep hearing from SF chefs.  Its one decent Uzbek away from a town I could actually live in (I kid, I kid.  It can also use a few Sri Lankan, Isan, and Georgian).  Lets begin our tour…Chinatown

New York City has anywhere between 5-10 Chinatowns depending on when you read this.  On average a Chinatown is added every 4 years, like the World Cup.  But none of them are like the San Francisco Chinatown, the oldest in the nation.  You got the fun and touristy for a reason Grant Street and the surrounding alleys.  And once you feel like you had enough, you can move one block over to Stockton Street where the local Chinese actually shop, perhaps the real Chinatown if you will.

Eastern Bakery - Coffee Crunch CakeEastern Bakery is believed to be the oldest bakery in Chinatown.  Inside it appears that not much has changed with its ancient feel and boasting of a Bill Clinton visit while he was still president.  I love this kind of old school.  While the pork buns failed to impress (not many do), the Coffee Crunch cake made up for it and then some.  Then there was The Fortune Cookie Factory, which was a revelation of sorts.  Eating these babies fresh is like eating lobster in Maine.  You can even personalize your Fortune Cookie with notes you can write yourself like “This was not Chicken”.  But why on earth in a seemingly family friendly place like this they would feature X-rated fortune cookies.

I wish I could tell you about the wonderful egg tarts of the infamous Golden Gate Bakery but they were on vacation.  Apparently they surprise close so much, there’s a website devoted to it.  Although the track record of the site screams for another site to tell you if the other site works or not.Fortune Cookie Factory

Perbacco tajarinOur love affair with everything Piedmont has landed us in Perbacco.  A semi-classy, sprawling, corporate joint in the Financial District.  They make their own Culatello which is a bonus but the highlights of the Salumi Misti pretty much stopped there.  Carne Cruda featuring hazelnuts and quail egg was outstanding.  The pillowy Agnolotti dal Plin had that pleasant explosiveness one can expect from Agnolotti, but I couldn’t help but wonder how they taste with plain butter.  The Tajarin was eggy and  buttery alright but the ragu fell a little flat.  The Stracci with the rabbit ragu, peppers and anise was more like it, the star of the pasta course.Perbacco - Carne Cruda

Our first wow moment however came the next day, NOPA for brunch.  Or what we call, lunch.  The more brunch I eat the more foreign the concept gets.  NOPA is a sprawling, busy, industrial space that’s efficient and good.  And with those famous Painted Ladies practically next door to boot.  The soft scrambled with cranberry bean succotash was why I go to California to eat every now and then.  The burger was perfection.  We know burgers.  We got PhDs in burger.  This was a good burger.  The famous French toast looks like any other French toast in this picture, but I’ve never had anything like it.  A lot of work involved to reach such richness levels.  Also, these guys don’t mess around with their NOLA like Bloody Marys.  The spiciest one I’ve had.  NOPA is a screaming buy.NOPA - French Toast

But the true envy for me, as in why cant we get this back home, home to 350,000 Mexicans I might add, came at La Taqueria in the Mission District.  Carne Asada Burrito was griddled El Dorado style was some of the tastiest of its kind.  Now I understand.  But what blew me away was the tacos carnitas with heaps of juicy pork goodness.  The flat Horachata can be forgiven with food such as this.  Go!  And while touring the murals, pop in Dandelion Chocolates for some hot coco and perhaps the best S’mores you will ever eat.  We had bigger plans to explore the various latin eateries, but a defective pedal boat in Golden Gate Park changed all that.  80 year old ladies who lunch were passing us, while lunching.
La Taqueria foodDandelion Chocolates S'mores
The biggest mystery we faced, other than guessing if Golden Gate Bakery was open or not on any particular day, was where to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf.  Still a mystery, sort of.  Scoma’s did the trick overall, but felt rather touristy with prices that don’t match the joy (simple Pappardelle Bolognese $26!).  Cioppino and mixed seafood grill were fine, and the crab Louis with shrimp salad was quite good, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have gotten a better value from any of the other touristy places aroundScomas Crab Louie
Ferry Building Mushroom storeI was determined to go to the Ferry Building after all, market or no market.  We saw a nice eclectic selection of purveyors, like a modern Chelsea Market, with great water views and clean bathrooms to boot.  I liked the mushroom store guys, who grow it all, including beautiful Maitake (hen of the woods).  The olive oil folks had a nice selection to sample including cheap “Traditional Modena Balsamic Vinegar”, high potential for false advertisement.  But since we weren’t hungry we settled for Humphry Slocombe ice cream and its creative gelato like textures and flavors.  Secret Breakfast was brilliant, and “Toast and Jam” even brillianterMushroom store
 At SOMA Eats in SOMA, we enjoyed breakfast with local SOMAliers.  Healthier, well prepared only in SOMA options like Breakfast Burrito, egg and salmon sandwich with SOMA coffee, and SOMA Orange juice.  We liked SOMA eats.  (memo to NYC, SF and anyone else who is listening.  How about giving neighborhoods real names).

Cockscomb artOur last meal turned out to be a doozy.  Cockscomb had potential to be strike two.  Of things I’m not supposed to Google from work.  Camelback mountain somehow became strike one.  Playful, inventive menu with an emphasis on buthery stuff.  Or in the case of the splendid beef heart tartare, mostly unwanted butcher stuff.  Personal relationships with well respected local farms and butchers enables Cockscomb to strive in what appears to be a not so happening location.  The grilled cheese sandwich with egg, one their most popular items, was a fine rendition.  Calamari stuffed with risotto, came with an “I can’t believe this is not Hummus” chickpea spread.  The Bacon Chop, a glorious cut with the pork belly attached, was a revelation of sorts.  Juiciness levels I haven’t seen since the college days.  From pork chops that is.  We liked the Zampini.  Nicely spiced pork and fennel sausage with corn and shishito salad.  But our favorite perhaps was the simple brilliance of the Culotte, a sirloin cap cooked to medium rare perfection.  And when you finish with a rare Panna Cotta that doesn’t suck, you know you are in the right place.  Cockscomb – worth googling, worth going out of the way for.Eastern BakeryLa Taqueria Burrito

La Taqueria

La Taqueria

Dandelion Chocolates

Cockscomb Pork

Cockscomb Pork

Cockscomb Panna Cotta

Cockscomb Panna Cotta



Categories: California | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tourist in My Own Town – Day 1


Work, work, and more work preventing me from posting as of late. Send letters to my bosses, please. Meanwhile I’m reposting the first day of our staycation last year… aka the summer of Ziggy! With links to the rest of the days at the bottom of the post. I’ll be back soon starting with a mega post on San Francisco dining. Ciao for now

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

photo (9)There’s very little doubt as to what is my 12 year old’s favorite store in the entire world.  M&M’s World. Whenever we enter the store, her eyes bulge, and she’s not sure what area to hit first.  She’s like a kid in a candy store!  In a way, I felt similar symptoms when I found myself kidless for 9 days for the first time in 14 years.  There’s only one thing I love more than exploring NYC with my beautiful daughters.. exploring without them.  Although I normally feel free to eat wherever I want, this is a brand new level of culinary freedom, with endless wants and possibilities.  Instead of skipping town, Mrs Z and I decided to stay put and play tourists.  We wanted the real Australian tourist experience which includes staying in a trendy hotel, complaining about hotel A/C noise, and taking pictures of squirrels.  Day 1 out of 4…

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Red & Gold Boil – Boat to Village

Red & Gold Boil Red CrabI personally subscribe to the popular notion of “Happy wife, happy Ziggy”.  It took me years to understand what it meant exactly.  So when she comes home one day with an odd demand like “I feel like crabs”, I don’t even question the oddity.  I ask my friends at Chowhound where are the crabs before Mrs Z and I even finish the conversation.  I can multitask!  Especially when it comes to conversations about someone’s work or school.  When my kids finally, after a significant amount of begging, open up and tell me about their school, my thoughts go something like “Hmmm, this is significantly less exciting than I imagined”.  Followed by impure thoughts about pizza.  Anyway, the so called friends on Chowhound recommended some places to get crabs, including of course Ashley Madison.  But I opted to go with Red & Gold Boil in the East Village even though its pretty much the middle of crab season at Ashley Madison

Red & Gold from the outside on pedestrian busy St Marks looks more like another playful Ramen spot rather than a seriously good crab joint.  Inside, I havent even peeked or leaked so dont know.  We took advantage of a perfect day and grabbed a table outside.  Opened about a year ago, when the owners of a four boat flee exporting crabs to China decided to let New Yorkers join in on the fun.  And oh what fun it is.

Red & Gold Boil Dungeness

The crab is boiled with other goodies such as corn, mussels, potatoes, sausages, shrimp, squid, and all presented to you with added spaghetti bonus in a bag that can keep things warm according to my rough estimate for 3 weeks.  In fact it was so hot that in order to peel the shrimp without second degree burns you would need to take it out of the bag and let it to cool for about 10 minutes.  Why did we order another bag of shrimp, only god knows.  I would advice no to do so, and concentrate on what they do best here, sweet, meaty, messy crab.

Many years ago when Mrs Z and I lived in South Florida, we used to frequent a crab house for baskets of garlicky golden Florida crab.  We would get a bib and a wooden hammer, partly to beat the crap of the crab, and partly beat the crap of the table when someones birthday was announced.   Imagine 250 people pounding simultaneously on their tables until your ears bleed.   Ahhh, good times.  The love for crab never went away, but we very rarely do anything about it.  I call it the Family Guy affect.

We started with a catfish, fried to flaky perfection, along with overly garlicky but who cares waffle fries, and ok raw oysters.  The waffles and catfish are part of a

Red and Gold boil beer

$13 app special.   The seasonal $40 Dungeness crab that I was struggling to find on the west coast last month was the bomb!  Only to get slightly outstaged by the slightly sweeter $25, always available red Maryland Crab.  Bib and gloves are provided, and you might as well put your phone on do not disturb.  Not only you’ll be busy for a while but you will get so dirty that you wont be able to take out the phone from your man purse.  All the other items in the bag are just there to give you something to chew on between the cracking.  Like Crab amuse bouches.  All washed down with my new favorite Japanese beer, Hitachino Nest.  Another great find in where else, East Village.  GO!

Red and Gold Boil
30 St Marks Pl
Recommended Dishes: Crab, preferebly red, or goldRed & Gold Boil Oysters

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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