New York City

Restaurant Week is Over. Here’s What You Missed

Ziggy:

Restaurant Week is coming up. Here’s what you’ll be missing…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

photo (7)1) A Slew of participants.  None of which are the hottest/trendiest places at the moment.  Mostly establishments that can use more bodies during Monday-Friday.

2) Menus designed for restaurant week.  A $25 lunch menu that normally includes a minuscule or none inspiring appetizer like the ever so trendy kale soup.  A main entree that is either off the regular menu, a smaller version of the regular menu item, or a new cheap invention.  You certainly did not miss the signature dishes, or the dishes that truly define the participant establishments

3) Dessert.  Seriously, who orders dessert during lunch anymore in NYC other than the business lunchers or “Ladies Who Lunch”.  At the end of the day, once you calculate all you had versus what the regular menu offers, you wind up with a free dessert

4) Cold Service.  Yes this will vary from place to place and certainly debatable I…

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Houston Street, We Have a Problem!

161A Note from the Editor:

In the summer, during my much anticipated staycation, there was a moment on the High Line that is etched in my mind.  We found ourselves almost paralyzed, stuck in rush hour Sunday afternoon traffic behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was like a zoo!  We’ve seen our share of tourists at the High Line before but not to this degree, and with characters no less.  We needed to get out of there and we had to do it fast, after a bite of the Delaney Brisket of course.  A trip to the storied High Line coupled with braving the crowds of the Chelsea Market is now firmly on the tourists path.  Great for NYC, and all those Chelsea eateries that must be thriving just about now, right?  Not exactly.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if my knowledge of Hell’s Kitchen extends to Real Estate, for the purpose of finding a new home for La Lunchonette, a long time Chelsea institution.  In what seems like a daily occurrence of businesses closing its doors, La Lunchonette is just another one to bite the dust of rising rents.  Culprit in this case:  The High Line.  The park, along with new zoning permits attracting Real Estate developers who now see a lot of green in West Chelsea, and I’m not talking about the plants along the High Line that no one looks at anyway.  Current building owners succumb to offers they can’t refuse, essentially forced to evict their tenants in many cases.  According to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, the High Line is the cause of La Lunchonette’s demise, and presumably, many more will follow.

I guess we are done with gentrifying the island and now focusing on hyper gentrification?  I’m not pretending to know anything about economics or real estate.  I’m just a poor software developer who wants to have a f*** bagel or matzoh whenever I choose to, or whenever Jewish holiday dictates.  Excuse my Yiddish there.  Oh did I mention Streit’s Matzo Factory is closing soon and so is the original Ess-a-Bagel to make room for Bank of America and you guessed it.. a bagel shop.  How can anyone afford to run a business or live in NYC anymore.

The Union Square Area alone is one giant “For Rent” sign, led by Union Square Cafe which is forced to move after its lease is up.  Restaurants are getting squeezed left and right from 57th street to Houston Street.  In Hell’s Kitchen the action is slowly shifting to the West.  A Mexican restaurant owner recently told me he couldn’t afford being on 8th ave anymore and had to move all the way to 10th.  Meanwhile downtown, Brigadeiro Bakery finally found affordable space in Soho after selling their Brazilian Truffles from a Basement nearby for years.  Do you have a Bodega (Mexican deli) near you nowadays?  Bodegas are closing all over or forced to transform and unbodega themselves.

So whats in store for 2015 and beyond.  Brace yourself for more Bank of America, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, and Eataly which plans to open two more stores in NYC in the future.  While I love Eataly as much as the next guy (I spent 3 hours there last Sunday), I need more Eatalys like I need a pimple on my ass.  This expression never made much sense to me, until recently when I finally got one.  Those things can be truly annoying.  Anyway, I cant help but wonder how many more small mom and pops will close as a result of two more Eatalys.  Places like Di Palo’s, where you get a much more personal service, need to cherished like we cherish our kids.

But is it time to panic?  Yes!  I suppose 2014 also saw many new restaurants open, and I believe I even saw “Record Year” being proclaimed somewhere out there.  But with that I also noticed that my spending has increased, so no doubt I’m paying for the rent hikes as well.  How many of the new openings are truly affordable, with entrees below $20.  For every Lumpia Shack there seemed to be 10 Batards opening last year.  In Hell’s Kitchen new business owners used to find refuge on 9th ave, but now they find it on side streets where foot traffic is much lighter, or 10th ave where traffic is even worse.  Whenever I walk to Inti, a Peruvian gem on 10th where the Rotisserie chicken rivals anyone’s, I always wonder how they are still in business.  My co-worker believes they have a healthy delivery business

I still believe NYC is the greatest food city in the world, don’t get me wrong.  And the options I have in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens are limitless.  But I’m a little worried about the direction.  Perhaps the worry is for nothing and I should stick to writing about food.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, avoid the High Line

Ziggy

Editor in Chief

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, Queens, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Trucks, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

HKSG Update – 3 in, 1 out

Pam Real OxtailNot the most exciting update to the Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide, but an update nonetheless.  I keep trying new places, and looking for hidden gems which turn out to be just hidden… Puff Cha, B-Side, all sorts of new Mexican, and Puff Cha Ramen formerly known as Puff Cha (little identity crisis, that’s all.  We all go through that at some point).

While some of you were standing outside of Pure Thai, patiently waiting for a table, I’ve been cheating with Pam for the past three months.  A much more approachable Pam Real Thai joins the list even though the list already includes two Thais.  I explain why there.

Two bars that happened to offer some tasty treats join the list, Brickyard and Shorty’s.  I didn’t have any bars in there, and I see plenty of site traffic coming from Ireland lately.  Just trying to keep my audience happy, and well fed.

I’m removing Annabel from the list after a recent visit.  Shared two pies with a friend and after I left it felt like I just ate an entire loaf of bread.  I liked it just enough after the initial visit but I think I added it prematurely.  I almost replaced it with Tavola, but I’m not totally in love with it either

Stay Hungry!

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

NYC – Top 10 Dishes of 2014

Lincoln StrozzapretiBowery Steak at Bowery Meat Company.  Normally in the food blogging universe, when a steak is compared to a Hockey puck, its usually in order to describe a poorly cooked piece of meat.  But in this case, its the odd looking Hockey puck shaped perfection sitting on top of creamy whipped potato puree, and topped with a little bit of Chimichurri.  One little touch of that thing with your fork or a prolong stare breaks the spiral roll of ribeye cap, aka the more flavorful part of the ribeye.  A most noble cut, generated by none other than the legendary Pat LaFrieda of course.  Don’t believe me?  Ask fellow meat lover Justin Bieber who was spotted there a day after yours truly and his family.  “Way to go dad, always picking the wrong days”

Bowery Meat Company Bowery Steak

Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – I’m starting to believe this soup has special healing powers.  Whether you are suffering from Flu like symptoms, Depression, Frontal Baldness, Cholera, try the soup and see a doctor.  Best to have the soup solo, as it will clear up both your nostrils and allow free grazing of the two giant oxtail bones in a way that should leave no witnesses.  Its spicy, complex, addictive and just about my favorite soup in NYC at the moment.  Which really means America!

Pam Real Oxtail

Patate Alla Carbonara at Marta – The White pizza section to me is like the pet isle in the supermarket.  I only get there by accident or under some form of influence.  My wife found me there once and though I was having an affair.  These days the only way for me to cheat on the reds is with this Bianca, featuring Guanciale, Pecorino and egg “juice” poured ever so slowly all over the pie.  It took a few initial incarnations (started as “Gricia” with an egg in the middle) until this thing was perfected by Nick Anderer who perfected so many things at Maialino.  Its Roman style pizza which means Matsoh like cracker thin (especially at the edges), but it holds its own nicely throughout so knife needed.

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Lobster Roll at The Grand Banks.  This place rocked!  Literally!  In fact we almost left upon entering this Schooner (a ship for the German readers) parked on Pier 25 in the warmer months.  But the food obsessed that we are, we braved it out and stayed for the main event.  A Maine style Lobster Roll (cold) using the meatiest and clawiest parts of the lobster, with tarragon mayonnaise and cucumbers which isnt very “Mainely” I know, but serve as barriers between meat and bun.  Very often lobster rolls lose its luster due to a soggy bun, but here the cucumbers keep it fresh and dont deter from the taste.  The roll which comes with well seasoned potato chips (no frier on board) is not exactly a value play at $25, but you gotta pay up for the good stuff mon.  Especially on the island I call Manhattan

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BBQ Squid at Annisa – Stunner!  Actually the first word that comes to mind is “gorgeous” but its hard even for the feminine inner Ziggy to say the G word these days.  When was the last time you heard a straight man say something is gorgeous.  And adding the F word just makes it sound awkward.  But this dish is not only attractive to look at, but got the flavors to match.  Marinaded, perfectly grilled Squid with fried tentacles, mint, and fresh peanuts boiled to match the texture of the tender Edameme.  Add Hoisin sauce for some sweetness and tanginess and the formula is complete.  I hope it never leaves the menu.  Anita Lo are you reading?

Annisa Squid

Carrot Wellington at Narcissa – A rarity.  A meal where the veggie dishes outperform the meats and fish.  Even the beet dish here made me question everything I knew about beets and seek Borscht the next day.  I never seek Borscht.  The carrots are cured, roasted and simply shine in those puff pastries.  They are tender and rich enough that you wont miss the meat.  And the accompanied veggies especially the earthy Bluefoot mushrooms complimented nicely.  Along with Piora’s carrots, perhaps the carrot dish to beat.  If you are having commitment issues, you can always share it as a middle course.

Narcissa - Carrot Wellington

Strozzapreti Con Aragosta at Lincoln (Top).   Orange is the new crack!  Possibly the most ingenious pasta dish I ever had.  First of all its looks gorgeous sensational, and you smell the sea as soon as it arrives.  Smell it!  Its an important aspect of any meal.  The Strozzapreti (invented I suppose when someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being slowly strangled) is made with lobster coral, the female egg sac, to bring that bright sexy orange prison look.  Sweet lobster chunks are added to the mix along with Tarragon and a delicate citrusy sauce.  But the best part and what puts this thing over the top was the shockingly flavorful lobster and scallop “sausage” bits which had the texture of chicken skin nut tasted nothing like it.  As of this writing the dish is not on the menu, so write to your local congressman

Scrambled Eggs at Gato.  I’m quite the sucker for nicely executed egg dishes, and this one topped a year filled with good ones (Casa Mono comes to mind).  Almond Romesco (spanish red pepper sauce), Boucheron cheese, and fluffiness levels that I’ve yet to produce no matter how hard I try.  I Google the heck out of how to make my scrambled eggs this fluffy, and it looks like Boucheron may be the answer.  Bobby Flay got something nice going there, but dont tell him that, or mention this pick.  We dont want success to get to his head.

Gato - eggs

Zabzi Tagine at Bar Bolonat – I attacked this mini Tagine on more than one occasion in 2014.  But I confess that the first time, closer to the Bar Bolonat debut was the best rendition.  Homemade couscous, aromatic fresh herbs, and short rib or beef cheek (it changes from time to time) so tender and flavor packed, even the Goyim foodies can appreciate this modern Israeli delight.  Get this, the kibbeh, Creme Brulee, and any of the other “Best of 2014″ dishes circulating the web.  Einat Admony got herself another winner.

Bar Bolonat - Zabzi Tagine

Fried Chicken at Root and Bone – Last year it was the Ma Peche Habanero, this year its R&B singing the chicken song.  Choon!  The bird is brined in sweet tea, onions and garlic for 24 hours, and finished with a dusting of dehydrated lemon powder to add that nice zesty tone.  Perfectly crisped skin, and juiciness levels I havent seen since college.  Great dish and a great menu that features all sorts of goodies like Sticky Toffee Pudding with whiskey sauce and beer flavored ice cream.

root and bone chicken

Special Mentions:

Burger at the NoMad Bar
Marinated Pork at Somtum Der
Falafel plate at Zizi Limona
Agnolotti at All’onda
Chicken Burrito at Missions Cantina
Beer Braised Pork Tongue Tacos at Empellon Taqueria
Octopus at Marea
Kimchi Fried Rice at Louro
Tofu at Dunji
Samsa at Nargis Cafe
Elk Chops at Henry’s End
Carrots at Piora
Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova
Dirty rice at Ivan Ramen
Cha Ca La Vong at Pok Pok Brooklyn
Oxtail and Bone Marrow Fried Rice at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill

Categories: East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bowery Meat Company – A Croatian Seafood Delight

Bowery Meat Company Bowery SteakJust dont call it a steakhouse.  The brainchildren behind this meat project, John McDonald, Josh Capon, and Paul DiBari dont like that, and for good reason really.  “Steakhouse” is stale, uncool, touristy and boring in today’s NYC.  You cant hep but get the feeling that traditional steakhouses not named Peter Luger still exist for tourists and older generation New Yorkers.  I cant recall the last time my friends said “hey how about bowling and steakhouse”.  But my father in law does ask on occasion, only to get that painful reminder again that he cant eat raw meat.  I predict that just like with the demise of Jewish Delis the steakhouse will eventually be replaced with places like Costata, Minetta Tavern and Bowery Meat Company.  These are full menu, modern steakhouses with each having its little niche (eg. crudo, pasta, burgers, oysters) in addition to great steak

Even Yelp is confused, giving BMC the cafeteria “Salad, Italian, Seafood” tag.  As in “Hey what do you want to eat today.  Sushi, Russian, or ‘Salad Italian Seafood'”.  I suppose BMC is more about “Salad, Italian, Seafood” than “Croatian” as the title suggests.  But only the savvies of the foodie travelers understand the role Croatians played in the evolution of Oyster fishing, and the invention of the Charbroiled Oyster by the legendary Drago’s in New Orleans.  The same Drago’s oyster was the influence behind the Charbroiled little ones at BMC, though I’m leaning toward the cheeseless version at Felix’s myself.  If there’s one complaint about this “I cant believe this is not a steakhouse” meat company is the excess of cheese and in some cases salt.  At some point it felt like one of those Borat “And what is this?  its cheese” episodes.  But yet, I would still put BMC on top of any steak seeker list today.  And there was absolutely nothing wrong about the soon to be famous Steak I highlight below.

Bowery Meat Company PolentaBowery Steak Meat has quite a few nice pluses, starting with the pre-meal freebies that you wont get anywhere else.  Rosemary Focaccia with what looked like small Finocchiona slices was gone before I could take a picture.  And to top that, some schweddy balls in the form of oxtail arancini were quite good.  They can easily charge for this stuff, but they dont.  Others should note.  Even free bread these days has been replaced by $6 fancy bagels with frozen “homemade butter”

Crispy Polenta –  Mushroom and Shaved Parmesan.  Nice starter.  Polenta not so crispy but thats a good thing as the texture was a perfect not too soft, not too hard.  Mushroom had a nice sweet tone and could have used some more earthiness or crunch.

Broiled Oysters – Garlic, Romano Cheese, Bread Crumbs, Parsley.  The great aforementioned Oysters inspired by Drago’s in New Orleans.  There are many folks out there like Mrs Z that will eat this over the raw stuff, so you gotta wonder.. what took you so long New Yorkers!

Short Rib Ravioli – Bacon, Rosemary Butter, Aged Balsamic.  Six large ravioli.  Nice meaty flavor and quite exceptional.  But covering these with cheese was a slight turnoff.  If I want my ravioli smothered with cheese I’d go to Staten Island.  I would order this again though.  Just hold the cheese.

Duck Lasagna for Two – Caciocavallo cheese, Parmesan.  As with anything “For two” in NYC means “For 4″ or “for a small Armenian village”.  I would never order something for 2, for just 2.  But we were 4.  Like the ravioli this also had excellent meaty flavor, and no sauce that I recall.  Soft lasagna sheets, duck and cheese worked together nicely.Bowery Meat Company Chargrilled Oysters

Cheeseburger – Griddled Onion, Raclette, Tomato Aioli, Fries.  This is an almost great burger.  My suggestion:  Change it to Burger.  Lose the cheese!  Raclette is generally quite salty, and this beautiful 40 day aged chuck, brisket, and sirloin combination should not be messing around with.  The fries were so salty they were not edible.  Perhaps they were gearing up for Justin Bieber who visited with his girlfriend the next day.  My youngest still cant believe she went to BMC on the wrong day

Bowery Steak – Salsa Verde, Whipped Potato.  A Triumph!  The steak of the year, and one of the best I ever had.  As soon as I touched it I knew it will be good (so many jokes with this one, but I’ll leave it alone.  Its a family show).  There’s no name to this 8 ounce meat perfection.  The best part of the ribeye, the ribeye cap is flattened and spiral-rolled into these Hockey pucks by who else, Pat LaFrieda and cooked to perfection.  Here’s your Michelin star right there.


Bowery Meat Company
9 East 1st Street
$$$$
Recommended Dishes: All of the above. But make sure to get the Bowery SteakBowery Meat Company Lasagna Bowery Meat Company Ravioli Bowery Meat Company steak Bowery Meat Company

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

Bar Bolonat – Shiksa Approved

Ziggy:

Updating a not quite oldie but goodie…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Bar Bolonat - Malabi

December 26, 2014 Update:

Took yet another shiksa to Bar Bolonat the other day and had another fun meal.  Plenty of empty tables on a Friday night at 8 pm but by the time we left the place was packed.  Are we eating later now like in Europe?  I didn’t get the memo.  Einat Admony’s pink scooter wasnt there again, and I’m yet to meet this NYC legend.  Yes, to me her accomplishments here are inline with some of the famous chefs in NYC.  Although there were some misses on this particular night, there were plenty of hits, some of which I added to the recommended list below.

Sunchoke Latkes – Hannukah special.  Tasted much better than they looked (they looked like Latkes!).  Nice falafely flavor

Delicata Squash – Good.  Essentially a hefty meaty sweet squash lightly dressed with some Tahini and a few pieces of brittle adding more sweetness…

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Best Tacos in Manhattan

Otto TacosA common misconception in NYC:  “There’s no good Mexican food here”.  “Skip tacos, concentrate on Pizza, bagels and hala”.  “For Mexican you got to go south then west”.  “Even the Mexican Soap Operas here suck”.  Somehow 350,000 tortilla challenged Mexicans opted for the Northeast, while the rest went to Texas or California.  Well, there’s no mistaken where the best Mexican food in the US is located, but that doesnt mean there are no decent options in NYC.  As with any cuisine you just need to a little bit of homework, thats all.  And in the past few years there appears to be a Mexican renaissance of sorts in NYC.  And if you think the soap operas are bad, think again.  Just like some of the taco joints I will highlight below, they are intense, colorful and will bring you to tears.  Here’s one example that will no doubt change your mind.  Now, lets get down to some of the best tacos the city has to offer…

Tehuitzingo –  I’ve already written plenty about this gem in Hell’s Kitchen.  For a while it was like one of those terrible soap operas (the other ones).  Did they close?  Oh no.  Oh wait, they not only reopened, but they multiplied.  Welcome baby Tehuitzingo on 9th and 41st.  6 pounds, 5 ounces.  Thats how much Lengua they sell every hour.  The original on 10th isnt the same bodega (deli) as it used to be, but the tacos are still the same no frills, no nonsense old tacos.  Its all about the great tasting meats with just the right amount of condiments.  Try the Al Pastor, beef tongue (Lengua), just beef, carnitas, or anything else you fancy.  I havent had a bad one yetTehuitzingo

Otto HorchataOtto’s Tacos – One of the new kids on the block, this LA expat is gathering a lot of attention lately.  Their Horchata makes every other Horchata I’ve had taste like 1% milk.  I tried all the tacos here except the chicken, and shrimp (top) is my clear favorite.  Coated with serrano cream sauce, with onions and cilantro, the Shrimp is perfectly seasoned and cooked just right.  The rest of the lineup is not too shabby either and that includes a mushroom tacos that both my vegetarian readers can appreciate

Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Al Pastor – The natural progression from the labs of Alinea and WD50 is obviously tacos.  Alex Stupak is perhaps the biggest player in this tacos revolution we are experiencing at the moment, with Emplellon Cucina, Empellon Taqueria, and now Empellon Al Pastor.  The latter is the cheap simpler tacos with the namesake Al Pastor, shaved off the spit Shawarma style, leading the pack.  Taqueria on the other hand is the fancy, polished taco option.  And if I would be drafting Tacos as part of a Fantasy Taco League, the beer braised pork tongue would most be my #1 pickEmpellon Al Pastor

Mission Cantina – The Mission District in San Francisco has some of the best Mexican food in the country.  Some in fact claim that this is where the Burrito was born.  So not surprisingly, James Beard winner Danny Bowien of the famed Mission Chinese Food in Mission can make a nasty Burrito, although its take-out only these days.  The wings here are great as well, and all these goodies will make you wonder about the low Yelp score.  Crafty shmancy tacos rule the right side of the menu, with Veggie tacos firmly in charge.  But one has to try the popular masa fish taco and the lamb belly while its still around.Mission Cantina Tacos

Los Tacos #1 – Where I come from, when you see a line, you stand on it, then you ask questions.  Same rule applies to Chelsea Market where three friends from Mexico and California are trying to introduce New Yorkers and tourists to Mexican street food.  Many claim that these are the best tacos in NYC, and who am I to argue.  Try any of them, doesnt matter.  As long as you try the Adobada.  Say it with me, A-D-O-B-A-D-A three times.  Good, you ready.  Now get out there and stand on line for those abodabasChelsea Market Los Tacos

Tacos Morelos – Another fairly new mom/pop/cousin joint in the suddenly taco heavy East Village.  The store and restaurant is on 9th and Avenue A where the slow roasted porky Cochinita Pibil reigns supreme.  But its the cart on 2nd and A, where the EV rockers get their fix after gigs at 2 am, and where my friend swears by the Al Pastor.  Almost 24 hours (they take a break around 4 am)  is 24 hours to me.

Tacos Morelos

 

 

 

Categories: Chelsea, East Village, Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Espoleta – Turkey Wishbone Produces More Tapas

015I panicked!  As I often do in situations like this.  Whenever the opportunity for a quick wish presents itself, I normally panic and wish for something that I already have or something that emotionally stable Middle Aged Americans should not be wishing.  So when I was given a crack at the Turkey wishbone a few weeks back, instead of wishing something more meaningful like good health for my family, a healthier college savings account, or an unlimited supply of Poo Pourri, I wished for Tapas.  I’m not even sure what it means, nor I recall what I was drinking.  I just panicked.

But the wish was granted when I was invited to the launch party of Espoleta, a new Spanish tapas and wine joint in NoHo.  Yes my friends, Mrs Z and I continue to move up the NY social scene at a furious pace.  Espoleta means Wishbone (ha!) in Spanish.  Former tenant Forcella means Wishbone in Italian.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Both sides of the Wishbone are held by Giuilio Adriani, pizza master of Forcella, now running the show at Espoleta.  But that’s not the only big name there.  Suenos fans can finally come out of their Tapa hibernation as Sue Torres is consulting here.  I was told she’ll be in the kitchen once or twice a week.

Chef de cuisine, Francis Peabody, the famous “American physician born November 24, 1881″. Wait that makes no sense, googling some more… Well, not finding much, but Ariel Lacayo, the manager once voted Best Maitre D in New York City by NY Mag says Francis Peabody is a Daniel, and more recently Le Bernardin veteran

Since this was more of a party with mass produced food, we only got a small taste of what Espoleta has to offer. We munched on various Pintxos, Tapas and Paellas.  Japanese squash, jamon, artichoke with manchego, various croquettes, Shishito peppers and more.  My favorite was perhaps the Goat Empanadas with raisins and salsa verde (top).  Excellent Spanish wine here, too excellent perhaps for me to remember to note it down.

Espoleta, with its big names, looks very promising and is one to watch.  Check it out peeps.

Espoleta
334 Bowery

Menu:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/249293660/Espoleta-Menu

016014 013 Espoleta

 

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Root and Bone – As Simple as ABC

root and bone gritsBefore I tell you more about this gem in Alphabet City (the last of the Manhattan neighborhoods that hasn’t received a hip name), there are a few developments in my personal life I would like to share with you.  Well, more like events really, not so much developments and not so interesting to the average reader Really.  Two milestones in one day (yesterday) that are fairly significant in one’s growth as a parent and more importantly as an American parent.  The first event was taking my youngest daughter, who is suddenly obsessed with hockey, to her first Islanders game.  Only those readers who experienced this can understand the magnitude of this thrill.  Especially those sport fans who never produced sons experiencing this a bit later on.

One can argue that the second event is even more significant, as it made me connect with the American people like never before.  Everyone, including tourists should do it at least one time during the holidays to show solidarity and patriotism.  We are Americans!  Some of the strange things we do, like tipping and brunch, photo (10)may seem different to some foreigners but this is who we are, and this our culture.  You dont question it, just like I dont question taking my shoes off in other countries, and not assuming that all those wonderful little plates they give you in Portugal when you sit down at a restaurant are free.  I’m talking about, you guessed it because what else could it be, wearing my first Ugly Christmas Sweater.  Although all I have is a spray of Poo Pourri to show for as my consolation prize in the ugliest Sweater contest, it felt great I tell ya.  You see I realized that there’s really no such thing as a fashion failure anymore.  Any fashion faux pas is either brought back by hipsters at some point or makes a big comeback once everyone in the world agrees that its ugly.  Or like in this case, its both!  I’m thinking perhaps I should hold on to those 80’s Hawaiian shirts after all, before Mrs Ziggy cleans the ‘hers and hers’ closet again.

root and bone chicken

Remember that little girl I was talking about earlier?  Other than hockey, she particularly likes mac and cheese and fried chicken.  So when I was looking for a place that serves both last Sunday, a return to Root and Bone was a no brainer.  I first tried their much hyped bird in the summer, not too long after they opened, but I may have been under some heavy Barolo influence which makes me like everything.  This time it was for brunch, affectionately called in my house and every other country, lunch!  But we don’t question, remember?  Southern homey soul food by two Top Chef veterans that look more like “The Bachelor” veterans, via Miami.  Famed Miami Beach Yarbird’s lose is NYC gain.  Well, Yardbird probably didn’t lose anything, its just an expression people.

root and bone wafflesWe started with Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits.  If you ever see something called Grandma Daisy’s Angel Biscuits on a menu and neglect to order it, you are an enemy of America!  These were light, airy and awesome, and once dipped in the gravy-like Honey Chicken jus, awesomer.  Benne seeds (fancy for sesame) and salt on the side for you to dip may be there purely for esthetic reasons, as I didnt feel the need.  Terrific Mac ‘n’ Cheese topped with more biscuit and featuring elbow pastas that will make you donate the elbow pastas in your kitchen cabinet to charity.

I feel like there’s some sort of a chicken renaissance going on in NYC at the moment with both Rotissarie and the fried kind.  You got the new Bird and Bubbles, The Habanero in Ma Peche, Somtum Der’s version, and so many other notables all over town.  The fried chicken here should at least be mentioned in the same discussion.  Its sweet tea brined, and dusted with dehydrated lemon magic powder that gives it that extra zesty tone.  Although, the dusting was more liberal the first time around (perhaps too liberal) there was no flavor lose this time.  The chicken, featuring no greasiness whatsoever is just a solid, juicy fried chicken, with flavors enhanced by the accompanying spiked tabasco honey sauce.  I preferred to sprinkle it on the white meat only.  And in true southern style we paired it with the Buckwheat Waffle that came with Cheddar and Whiskey Maple Syrup

root and bone buscuitsHaving eaten the chicken before, perhaps the most interesting item for me was the so called Trumansburg N .Y. Stone Ground Cheese Grits (top).  They came loaded with corn and ‘pimento cheese’, a spreadable hybrid of cheese and Pimiento (cherry) peppers.  The entire dish is a beautiful medley of textures and flavors.  And in a city filled with mediocre desserts as it seems as of late, the sticky toffee pudding with whiskey sauce and beer flavored ice cream was perhaps the best finish I’ve had this year.

Update:  The Poo Pourri works!  Dont think I need it honestly, but it works.  I may have to bring some to some of my coworkers.  You know who you are!

Root & Bone
200 E 3rd St
$$$

root and bone mac n cheeseroot and bone sticky toffee pudding root and bone

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Hell’s Kitchen Sandwich Awards

15 years ago when I first got familiar with the area, I couldn’t name two decent sandwiches.  Well, I could actually, but they would not have made this list today.  Times, as they say, “They Are A-Changin'”, as the area is suddenly flooded with all sorts of well crafted sandwiches that even tourists should target.  If I miss a big one here, please share.  But as far as I know these are some of the best and most unique sandwiches in Hell’s Kitchen and in some cases NYC.  And to make it just a little bit more interesting, I gave them awards!

The Dolly Parton Award- IL VIP at Sergimmo Salumeria.  A most excellent sweet sandwich featuring robust raw materials.  Prosciutto Crudo from Parma, homemade mozzarella, Arcadian mix, EV olive oil and a lovely fig spread from Casa Giulia.  On the sweet side of things like Dolly’s smile, and so not for everyone.

VIP at Sergimmo Salumeria

The Bill Clinton Award – Philly Cheesesteak at Shorty’s. Given to a most outstanding sandwich that comes with the occasional strange urge to pull down your pants even though the thing looks sort of sloppy and unattractive.  Get it the way it was intended.  With Whiz, “Wit” onions, and mushrooms.  I’ve had it in Philly and this is the real deal

Philly Cheesesteak at Shorty's

The Me Love You Long Time Award – Dave at City Sandwich.  A great all around sandwich with top notch ingredients that is best enjoyed slowly with a glass of wine or Manischewitz.  This beauty features an ample amount of fresh minced sausage, chili pepper, garlic, olive oil, melted mozzarella, and peppers, and the Portuguese bread from across the river cant be beat

Dave

The Oom Pa Loom Pa Award – Banh Mi Cha Ca at Co Ba 53.  Given to the best sandwich with the least amount of syllables. Historically given to a Banh Mi.  Hanoi-style fish, usually means “Catfish” or “I cant believe its not Catfish” Swai, Basa, or other Catfish-like creatures, with fresh dill, onion, mayo, jalapenos, and house-made pickles on a French baguette.  Not only easy to pronounce but tastes great

Banh Mi Cha Ca at Co Ba 53

The Kim Kardashian Award – Pig’s Ass Sandwich at Casellula.  Nuff Said!

The If You Build It They Will Come, And Come Again, When Weather Permits, Because Its Too Far Award – Pork shoulder at Court Street Grocers (Gotham West Market).  Given to a most outstanding well crafted sandwich that is a leader in its kind but a little bit out of the way.  Pork shoulder confit, mayo, provolone, broccoli rabe, pickled red peppers inside a terrific Caputo (Brooklyn) hero.  If you ask me, I think the name of the award is too long, but hey I don’t make the rules.

Pork shoulder at Court Street Grocers

The You Say Shawarma, I Say Shawarma Too Award – Shawarma Sandwich at Azuri.  Award given to the best Shawarma!

Note: Azuri is a 2 time “No Soup For You” winner.  Recent reports of Ezra smiling or even happy are most likely greatly exaggerated (I still think its gas) but I can no longer put him in that category.  Everyone seems unfortunately friendly these days or faking their unfriendliness for gimmicky purposes.  “Hey look at me I’m so unfriendly, tell your friends, start calling me the Muffin Nazi, bla bla bla”.  Ezra was a natural!

Azuri Cafe - Chicken Shawarma

The Breaky Bad Award – Bench Girl at City Sandwich.  Given to the best breakfast sandwich.  This one features Portuguese Alheira sausage, Grilled Onions, Spinach, Melted Mozzarella and Olive Oil.  Available all day, every day.  Now lets see if they change the name to Breaky Bad from Bench Girl before any use of online petitions.  Bench Girl sounds boring and borderline insulting if you ask me.

photo (31)

The Carlos Danger Award – Pig’s Head Cuban at The Cannibal (Gotham West Market).  Given to a great sandwich that is especially selfie/twitter/instagram worthy in all its glory.  Pigs head terrine, ham, gruyere, mayo, pickle.  Perhaps the hottest sandwich in Hell’s Kitchen at the moment.

The Cannibal - Pig's Head

The Barack Hussein Obama Award - City Sandwich.  A lifetime achievement award given to the top overall sandwich maker.  Last year’s Miss Congeniality winner takes top honors this year.  A Pioneer and a leader in the Sandwich making business.  Well deserved!  (ps. I’m expecting this mention on the window at City Sandwich in no time.  As my mom used to tell me “if you got them, flaunt them”.  A bumper sticker “I got a sandwich award on EatingWithZiggy will do as well)

Big Big Mazal Tov to all the winners!

City Sandwich

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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