Monthly Archives: May 2013

10 Things to Try in Eataly

EatalySomething I don’t do nearly enough is read other food blogs.  I wish I had the time to just chillax for a full day and read nothing but food blogs.  No wife, no work, no kids, just me, myself and blogs.  Not possible.  But whenever we are about to travel somewhere I put the blog reading on the next gear, and naturally these days I read Italian food blogs.  I noticed that not only I get many ideas on what to eat on our upcoming trip in the summer, but I also get plenty of ideas on how to improve the blog.

For example the excellent Katie Parla blog (which I found last fall while researching New Orleans and got the a great Boucherie reco from her) and Elizabeth Manchilli in Rome (and Florence) have given me something to think about, like that my site sucks does not have enough lists.  So I gave you Best Pizza in Hell earlier this month and now I figured I’ll write about Eataly.  A place dear to my heart and wallet (my wallet strongly believes in keeping your friends close and enemies closer)Eataly10 years ago I used to work right across the street from Eataly where it was a Toy Building.  While we were too busy at work checking out the modeling action on 22nd st with our binoculars working, we didn’t have much time to check out the toys back then. But nowadays we go there often.  Eataly is busy, hectic, full of Italians for some reason, and very very touristy, but for good reason.  You can easily spend an entire day there.  Well, I can!  During the last few years I spent a lot of time there eating, drinking, shopping and learning elementary Italian cursing like “tuo padre è un pollo” (your father is a chicken) comes in handy.  So without further ado, here are 10 things to try while visiting Eataly to make your visit more memorable

Sorry about some of the Iphone photos.

1)  Italian Soda.  My new obsession.  The refreshingly citrusy Cedrata, Gazzosa, the ‘root beer on crack’  Chinoto, the lightly sweetened Gus Sodas.  Buy a few and see what you like.  All with natural ingredients and some like the Gazzosa feature the famous lemons of AmalfiEataly

2)  Maitake Mushrooms at Birreria – Put your name down for the roof garden, and wait for the text.  The text is your gateway to some of the most delicious Mushrooms you will ever eat.  Perfectly chewy and savory Maitake with Pecorino cheese.  One of about 3 or 4 dishes in their mushroom section along with nice Oyster mushrooms and fried shiitakes.  Also try the Cotechino sausage and pork shouldereataly2 photo (35)

3)  Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Formaggi at La Piazza – Say what?  thats right.  A nice little assortment of the best cheese and Salumi of the day in the Piazza.  Prosciutto, salami, 4 different kinds of cheese, honey, figs and more.  Add a glass of one of their fine whites and its like having an aperitivo in Piazza Navona staring at la Fontana dei Fiumi.  Except that you are in Eataly, inside a building, staring at a German tourist’s sandals with socks.099

4)  Asparagus and Egg at Le Verdure.  Another example that adding egg to anything will make it better.   My favorite from the veggie menu of Le VerdureEataly

5)  Cacio e Pepe at La Pasta.  “A so a simple and a so good a”.  Cheese, black pepper, al dente pasta is apparently all you need to make this Roman classic.  Perfection on a plate.   So what am I doing wrong?Eataly

6)  Gnocchi at La Pasta – To compliment your Cacio e pepe.  Gnocchi, with 3 hours braised + 3 hour cooked + 3 hour groin massaged, wonderful melt in your mouth lamb shank.  Also try the Neapolitan pizza while thereEataly 101

7)  Fresh Agnolotti cacio e pepe – This is to buy.  Pillowy delicate Agnolotti stuffed with pecorino and black pepper.  Don’t overcook.  Set the timer to what it says on the box – I believe about 3-4 minutes after returning to boil.  Add some freshly shredded cheese and butter and invite me for dinner and Voila!  I found that a little more than 1 pound (1.2) feeds a hungry family of 4. Eataly

8)  Truffle sauces.  Walk all the way to the right pass the dry pasta section, and you’ll see this mostly Urbani truffle heaven.  It will do wonders to your pasta.  Just don’t overdo it – add just one of those little babies and invite me for inspection.  You can also visit the Urbani NYC headquarters on 11th in the 50’s (I forget)Eataly

9)  Pesce Alla Diamantese at IL Pesce – Seared fish of the day cooked with tomato sauce, olives, Calabrian Chiles, fennel and capers.  Savory, great flaky texture and absolutely delicious.  Well played Mario.

10)  Gelato – Duh!!  Try the Stracciatella (sort of like choc chip) and Nocciola (hazelnut).  Fantastic gelato

So there you have it.  Buon Appetito, and stay hungry my friends.  Some more food porn…

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Le Philosophe

Le Philosophe

November 1st, 2015 Update:  Despite the mediocre mussels this time, still loving Le Philosophe.  Over the past few years it transformed into a fine neighborhood bistro.  The classics are still on the menu, but the numerous nightly specials must get some attention.  The Lobster Thermidor puts all other overly rich Thermidors we’ve had in the Caribbean over the years to shame.  The Tournedos Rossini is still a nice ode to the classic, and so are the frog legs with Hen of the Woods (aka Maitake) Mushrooms.  The mussels this time did not have the “Balls” of the old ones. Hope they didnt change suppliers.  But those Profiteroles, even if you are remotely into Profiteroles, you must get them.  Earlier this year, a new half sister called L’Antagoniste was born in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.  Hoping to get there one day, but considering the location its a tough sell.


I don’t wear a single piece of jewelry.  For the same reason I don’t wear turtlenecks.  I have this thing where if I do wear anything excessive, I would constantly feel the need to free myself of it.  Every inch of my body needs to breath.  Every inch!  I used to wear a watch until I discovered the brilliant invention since the cell phone:  Cell phone that shows time.

The last of the Mohicans was a wedding band.  By law I had to wear it at all times including funerals.  Just in case I would get approached by someone – “Very sorry lady but you see this, I’m a married man”, “Good to know, but I was just wondering if you can spare me some change, as I haven’t eaten in 3 days”.

So with the wedding band, I had the constant need to temporary remove it from the finger and play with it while the finger breathes.  And occasionally I would drop it somewhere like in a movie theatre where I would wait until the lights came on in order to find it.  But I dropped it the most inside my couch while watching sports.  And every time I dropped it, it would take me 2 to 4 weeks to find the will time to get the flashlight and dig out the ring from the couch.  Occasionally, I would also find an M&M and a grape if I’m lucky in the process.  I remember we would have dinner somewhere where Mrs Ziggy would just stare at my bare finger and go “Inside the couch?” and I would just nod with embarrassment.  And so as soon as I got the ring out during the 4th archeological dig, I found myself staring at Mrs Ziggy’s angry hand.  She took the ring, and I haven’t seen a piece of jewelry since.

So whats your point Ziggy?  My point is I don’t need jewelry to remind myself or anyone that I’m married.  In 2 weeks it will be 20 years of being married to the most wonderful cougar woman on the planet.  And on her birthday last week, this classy lady deserved nothing less than a classy meal.  Hence, the longest prelude to a review on EatingWithZiggy.

The meal at Le Philosophe in Noho (near the east village) was one of the most satisfying of the year.  One of those rare meals where every dish offered interesting flavors and did not disappoint.  The menu consists of old school French classics that you don’t see in French bistros anymore.  As usual I did some homework on what to order and we (4 of us – Hummus Whisperer and “I don’t like to share” wife joined us) couldn’t be happier with the results…

Frog Legs –  Completely not the legs I expected.  More like a beautiful salad with hen of the woods mushrooms, sunchoke, deboned legs, and a very nice garlicky sauce

Mussels –  Fantastic Maine mussels, some of the biggest I’v had.  Along with potatoes and more great sauce which became the theme of the night

Escargot – Another classic that didnt look anything like the classic.  Major garbanzo presence and more amazing (black garlic, sort of curry’ish) sauce

Tournedos Rossini – Great dish.  Its essentially a Filet Mignon sitting on top of a brioche slice, and a piece of Foie gras on top of that.  Didnt care for the Foie much, but the filet was perfectly cooked (medium rare, more toward rare) and very flavorful for a filet, perfect with that madeira sauce.  I’m more convinced now that Filet Mignon can only be enjoyed with a nice Madeira sauce.  Asparagus was a bit too buttery

Duck a l’Orange – Had a few bites and thought it was perfectly cooked, nicely crisped, delicious duck.  Not too orangy, more of an orange hint

Black Bass – Another winner.  More incredible sauce with dill and mint, perhaps the finest of the night

Maine Lobster Thermidor – Ordered by the “no sharing policy” member of the group who enjoyed it.  It did not look like the messy Thermidor I’m accustomed to.

Profiteroles – Awesome

Chocolate Mousse with Passion fruit – Awesomer!  Lately I shy away from the Mousses (Mice?) but this was different and with that bitter hints of the fruit absolutely delicious.  Although the women didn’t care much for the bitterness.

On one of the walls there’s a mural depicting various French philosophers.  From what I understand if you guess all the philosophers you get a free flu shot.  We only guessed Voltaire, so left exposed but very well fed.  Happy birthday Mrs Ziggy.

Le Philosophe - Frog legs Le Philosophe - Mussels Le Philosophe - Escargot Le Philosophe - tournedos rossini Le Philosophe - Duck l'orangeLe Philosophe - BassLe Philosophe - Lobster ThermidorLe Philosophe -tournedos rossini

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Da Andrea, Meet my New Canon T4i

Da Andrea - TiramisuWell, not really.  That was the dream title I was envisioning, but the jew in me somewhat missed the fact that B&H closes at 2:00 pm on Friday.  My brilliant plan of going to B&H after work, proceeding to take pictures of pretty flowers and painted rope, followed by dinner at Da Andrea the next day did not go exactly as planned.  Instead its: Da Andrea, Meet my (suddenly battery challenged comatose) Iphone 5.

So earlier this month I was asked by members of a Trip Advisor community to pick a restaurant for a meet up.  Sort of a no brainer.  I’ve been to Da Andrea about 8-9 times now, probably more than any other place in the city.  Second only to Caicos Café in Turks and Caicos on the planet (it feels weird writing that.  I frequent a place in some remote island more than any other place in NYC.  Poor kids, now have to rely on their grandparents for continued education.  Well, thats their problem!).

But an annual trip to Da Andrea, brainchild of a trio from Emilia Romagna, has become routine.  This routine started in the old location on Hudson street where we stood on line to get inside a shoe box that did not take reservations.  Now, double the size (to a her’s and her’s closet) and still the same old line of village people trying to get in.

We started with the usual, one of the MUSTS especially with a group, the Tigelle.  Baked on premises tasty buns with some of the most delicious prosciutto you will eat in NYC.  A very shareable and tasty snack.  The always terrific tower of grilled veggies followed, along with the grilled calamari and octopus salad which I enjoyed more this time than last year (especially the former)

But I’m here for one of my old time favorites, homemade Pappardelle with sweet sausage and truffle oil (half a plate pictured below).  Its like a nice glass of wine where the scent of the truffles hits you right away, signaling the level of yumminess to the brain before you even taste it.  I order this in other places such as Il Melograno in midtown which I enjoy, but no one makes it like in Da Andrea.  Another winner was a rich but light risotto special.  Tiramisu here is top notch as well.

I noticed recently they started taking reservations online which is great, but on this one I rather stick to tradition and start the process with a “Buona Sera”.  Great food, great new friends, what else can I ask for.  A new camera, which I got a week later.  Buona Sera friends, and enjoy more Iphone 5 pics

Da Andrea - Pappardelle Da Andrea - risotto Da Andrea - veggie tower Da Andrea - Tigelle

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

5 Reasons to Visit Flatiron District this Month

MSP2IMG_1640The Flatiron district is one of my favorite areas in NYC.  It is the first area I think about when I need to kill some time.  You got great architecture, artsy park, some of the best dining in NYC like Maialino and ABC Kitchen, and a stone throw away from Union Square and the village, Curry Hill, Koreatown and other great hoods.  If all that is not enough here are 5 reasons to head to Flatiron today

1.  New art at Madison Square Park.  Orly Genger’s Red, Yellow, and Blue.  3 structures of layers of hand painted ropes  in 3 areas of the park.  I’ve seen a lot of art over the years at the park and this is one of the most stunning

2.  Madison Square Eats.  They are back.  New York’s finest in the food business dishing out some super tasty snacks.  We are talking about Roberta’s Pizza (try the Bee Sting pizza), momofuku milk bar, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Arancini Bros., Bar Suzette, Hong Kong Street Cart and much much more (note that was 2 muches).Madison Square Eats

Avoid midweek during lunch however unless you don’t mind painful lines.  More painful than standing in a full bus on a Friday night for 90 minutes as I did the other day.  It was getting somewhat frustrating at some point but then luckily we all got that loud announcement again.  “City bus operators are protected by state law. assaulting a bus operator is a felony!” Well thank goodness.  And what perfect timing as I was just getting riled up.  I mean is it really necessary to wake an entire bus of tired New Yorkers after work with this announcement.  I can just imagine the meetings they had about what announcements they should do with their brand spanking new buses with fancy announcement systems.  ” Hey lets remind them that assaulting a driver is a felony in case, you know, they are plotting something”,  “Oh and lets also remind them what the fare is in case they forgot”  We just paid it!!

Eataly3.  Eataly.  Still there and not going anywhere by the look of the crowds.  I’ve been there 3 more times in the last 4 weeks alone and had more delicious Italian goodness like this Asparagus and egg dish in Le Verdure.

4.  ABC Cocina.  Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Dan Kluger’s much hyped Spanish tapa extension to the ultra popular farm to table ABC Kitchen.

5.  Do you really need a 5th reason?  Seriously why are you still reading?  I gave you 4 perfectly fine reasons above including great food, flowers and painted ropes next to flowers.  What else do you want?  You know what, I had a great 5th reason but I’m choosing not to share it at this time.  Instead I leave you with more pictures of painted rope with flowers, food, and for my Australian readers a squirrel…IMG_1628 IMG_1636 IMG_1637 IMG_1641 IMG_1648 IMG_1651 IMG_1658 IMG_1660 IMG_1663

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Getting Organized. Introducing the TCI Page

Last TCI post for a while.  I have quite a few New York posts cooking on the back burner.  The Turks and Caicos link now points to this page, your one stop shop to everything Provo including other one stop shops, dining stuff, photos, directions, Hitler videos, and more.  I will try to update the page as needed.

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Turks and Caicos – Top 7 Small Bites

(As published in the current WhereWhenHow Magazine)

Seven days of culinary bliss. That defines another trip to Providenciales in a nutshell for the Ziggy clan. I can’t think of another Caribbean island where we’ve had it thisgood in such consistent fashion. Recent trips to foodie heavyweights in Europe have produced their share of clunkers. So who knew that an island nation of 33,253 residents, with restaurants mostly geared toward tourists, would produce such culinary delights?

I just love eating in Provo.  In fact I love everything about the island – the beach, the people, even the driving.  According to Mrs Ziggy I turn into someone else, including a complete gentleman while on the island (Although the truth is I keep forgetting the location of the steering wheel on the rental and keep opening the wrong door).  Anyway, with that said, I will share here some of our favorite dishes from our last trip.

A solid meal can turn uneven in a hurry without the support of a solid starter to set the tone.  So without further ado here are the nominees for best supporting cast (I’m talking about small dishes.  Play with me here as I’m recovering from the latest Oscar fever)…

Conch Kebabs at Garam Masala.  Imagine the Falafel and the Shish Kebab having a baby girl named Apple (a Hollywood Bollywood baby).  The result is a spicy, juicy palate pleaser that opens your senses for things to come.  I love Indian food and I can tell you that this is not your ordinary Indian.  Part owner Vinni has a passion for his native cuisine and it shows.

Strong contender:  Chicken Tikka “Pizza” (on naan bread)

Garam Masala - Conch kebabsLobster Salad at Las Brisas –  Lobster, tortilla, Chalk Sound, gazebo, light breeze, stronger breeze, napkins flying, oh no quick, close the shutters before the kids get a cold – Ingredients you wont find anywhere else, not even in Basque Country.  The folks at Las Brisas (which means breezes) have been dishing out great tapas and lobster salads  for years.  They partially cook the lobster and let the lime acid do the rest.  A semi-ceviche if you will.  But you need to get there during  lobster season, otherwise, well.. enjoy chicken season.

Strong contender:  Chickpeas and Chorizo

Las Brisas - Lobster SaladGrilled Calamari at Caicos Café – Did you ever take a bulldog for a walk to his favorite spot in the park, and experience its huge anticipation as it strains on the leash to get there?  That is sort of like when I’m being taken to Caicos Café.  And in recent years in Caicos Café, the marvelous grilled Calamari is usually the first thing to arrive at our table. The squid itself has great texture, not too chewy as some can get.  Add fresh mussels, savory Cannellini beans and finger licking, more bread please sauce and you got yourself one heck of a dish.  I  like to order grilled calamari everywhere we go and the result is very often a case of severe daydreaming.

Strong contender: Gnocchi with Mushroom sauce

Caicos Cafe - Grilled CalamariFish Tacos at Hemingway’s – A staple on every trip to Provo for us, especially for Mrs Ziggy (Hi, Mrs Ziggy, look at me I have my own column.  See, I told you all that time spent on Trip Advisor will lead to something).  While in other popular establishments on other islands you need a fishing license to fish the grouper out of the tacos, in Hemingway’s the fish is the main event.  A hint of sour cream and sweet Mango chutney provide a glorious compliment and lets you temporary forget any preferences for the spicier stuff.

Strong Contender: Conch Fritters

Hemingway's - Fish TacosCoffee Rubbed Tuna at Bay Bistro – Who knew coffee and tuna can play so nicely together.  Well, the same person that figured out the pecan, conch and orange Ménage à trois among other great combinations in the classics filled Bay Bistro menu, that’s who. Island riots and airport shutting firefighter strikes normally erupt after Bay Bistro removes items from the menu.  Long live the Coffee Rubbed Tuna!

Strong Contender: Conch Wontons

Bay Bistro - Coffee Rubbed TunaEscargot at Le Bouchon.  When in Provo do what the French do, and eat what the French eat like the succulent Escargot at Le Bouchon.  It’s a fairly simple dish that so many can’t get quite right.  At a recent popular Brooklyn joint I was presented with an Escargot dish that was pretty to look at but with zero substance, like Paris Hilton.  However at Le Bouchon what you get is the perfect balance of garlic, butter and herbs.  And once you are done with those babies you can shift that ‘I want more’ desire to the sauce and the terrific bread.

Strong Contenders:  Mussels

Le Bouchon - EscargotScallops at Beach House – Perfectly seared scallops with cauliflower espuma and white truffle vinaigrette.  The espuma is a foam-like runny “I cant believe its not mashed potato puree”, and you really get the wonderful truffle essence here.  Big flavours in this one.  Note that spelling flavour with a U, the British way, normally alludes to bigger tastes than the less sophisticated American plain Flavor.

Strong Contender:  Strozzapreti (Another Note, I havent actually tried those particular Priest Stranglers (“Strozzapreti”) but strictly judging in this case by the facial expressions of a trusted foodie that did.  Unless it was just gas)Beach House - Scallops

So there you have it.  7 memorable small bites from our last trip.  Enjoy your trip and stay hungry my friends

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Chote Nawab – Dinner and movie, without the movie

Tunde Ke kebabAs I’m munching on a fiery Indian snack I picked up at a deli in Curry Hill/Little India, I ask myself how come I don’t visit that area more often.  I love Indian food, I eat Indian on a regular basis, and I love Bollywood movies.  Ok, the last part is not really true.  But whenever I pick my Indian order at Basera Indian Bistro I find myself staring at some pretty neat Bollywoody action for a few minutes.  I think over the years I’ve watched an entire movie 2 minutes at the time.  Just like with Full House episodes at home as my kids watch it religiously for some time now.  My favorite part of that Bollywood movie is when the bad guy dies, the pretty girl is rescued, and a huge dance-off unfolds which includes the dead guy.

Chhote Nawab (with the extra h there) was a Bollywood movie, a bad one looks like according the 12 votes on IMDB.  Why on earth would they name a restaurants after a terrible movie that received 12 votes on IMDB.   Bloomberg do something!  Is it because owner, Shiva Natarajan who owns more than 10 other establishments including 3 on the same block as Chote Nawab simply ran out of possible names?  Ok, lets get to business…

Fantastic meal!  I’m not sure I’ve had better Indian in NYC including some of the higher end spots

Waiter was extremely delighted with my first choice of the Tunde Ke kebab (“Very good choice sir”) as an app but then things went south in a hurry as he got a little annoyed when we asked for 2 main veggy dishes to bring with the first course as well.  With that said I prefer a waiter that speaks his mind and we proceeded to have a nice chat later on.

The Tunde Ke kebab (pictured on top) was interesting but after a few bites I felt the need to have something else with it like the veggies or some sauce, which doesnt take anything away from the dish.  It came sizzling in a dutch oven, with a spoon sitting on top which we could have used as a potato in a hot potato game.

Bindi Sasuralwali – it says on the menu “okra you would eat at your in laws house” – Flat out lie! Not my in laws I’ll tell you that.  I’m not even sure they know what Okra is.  But the dish was good and so was the eggplant with a nice peanut masala (Baghara Baigan Mirchi)

Shrimp Pappas was another sauce dish.  Not one of my favorites but enjoyable nonetheless.  Its cooked with Kokum, an Indian fruit and came with one dried Kokum which didnt taste that great but the dish overall worked well.


Lamb Biryani was one of the better Biryanis I’ve had.  Tastes much better thna it looks.  Comes with 2 sauces  but I didnt feel the need for any.  The only thing I wished I had ordered the goat instead if the lamb.  Loved the bread covering it – nice touch.  BTW, the garlic naan is very good here

The highlight for me was the Chicken Kori Gassi which was packed with flavor.  Couldnt stop eating it.  The chicken was super tender and very tasty.  And a decent amount of heat as with most of the dishes we got

Overall, lets just say I took my time before I washed my hands later that day.  Thoroughly enjoyed Chote Nawab

Chicken Kori Gassi

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