“Its 10:00 PM do you know where your children are?” One of the perks of living in America. Television, not only brings us great entertainment and news, and Kardashians, but it also helps us with the daily challenges we as parents face. Laundry, food shopping, making sure you didn’t forget the kids somewhere, work, cooking, remembering that you have kids, bills, Facebook politics, are just some of things we need to constantly worry about. So thank goodness we have our broadcasting system to remind us that a) We didn’t forget our kids in Home Depot, and/or b) We have kids, and at this moment we have no idea where the hell they are and its for our benefit as a family to find out where they are at this late hour. Maybe call them or something?
“Its 10:00 PM and you have just decided to take a day off tomorrow to spend the entire day in the city with the family. Do you know where you will eat?”. Sleepless night follows. If only my kids were missing instead! Woke up next morning and had about 90 minutes to come up with some sort of a plan that involves eating, drinking, site seeing, and walking (a lot of walking – sort of a test drive before the big Italy trip. Test drive failed. With all the current cool inventions we get these days you would think they would invent comfortable shoes for women by now). Hence, the second annual Father’s Day Eating With Ziggy in a NY neighborhood. Last year it was the East Village. This time we move cross town, all the way to the West Village and Soho. And since we cant do it on Fathers Day this year, we did it a few days earlier.
We started with the one place just outside of the area, The Anne Frank Center. It feels sort of odd to mention this place in this post and context but it was indeed the first stop. Although we were somewhat underwhelmed by the small center since we visited Yad Vashem, and the actual house in Amsterdam, we were impressed by the amount of history packed here. It seams like the focus here is on bullying and discrimination, things kids today can relate to. There’s a 25 minute video which we missed. If you cant make it to Amsterdam and you have kids, it may be a good idea to pay a visit
We moved on to the Soho area and the first food stop, Dean And Deluca, one of New Yorks premier food stores. Really a pioneer in its industry. We sampled some delicious spicy Gumbo, and a lentil soup.
We then visited The Dutch, a 2 year old with a menu that falls neither here nor there hence “American” but since it deviates from your normal “neither here nor there” its “New American”. From the team that owns Locanda Verde, the Library at the Public, and the newly opened Lafayette who’s generating all kinds of buzz now. The food was good. The Dutch is known for some of the best Fried Chicken in town and it did not disappoint. Lightly fried, not greasy whatsoever, perfectly crispy exterior and a juicy delicious interior. The burger with the 28 day aged beef from the legendary Pat LaFrieda (Minetta Tavern’s Black Label) was perfectly cooked, flavorful, and their tangy secret sauce provided even more palate excitement. Not as thrilling as the Black Label, but not bad at all. Malfatti pasta was ok. Sort of a cross between open faced ravioli and broken lasagna sheets with spring peas, bacon and pesto sauce. Although the pesto was mostly at the bottom and wasnt very evident at first, so perhaps a bad mixing job. Although Malfatti basically means “badly made” so I guess it was a success?
UPDATE: Yesterday I saw this feature on the cooking channel about the Dutch. http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/videos/the-dutch-roots-cooking.html
Before lunch we enjoyed the walk toward D&C, especially some of the architecture on Greene street. We passed the site of the “Massacre of the Butchers” where in 1854 the Butcher housing complex on Greene street was targeted by an angry mob of NYU students demanding better cuts for lunch (look I’m not a tour guide and my history of the area ranges from shaky to none existent so I had to make stuff up and make it sound interesting and slightly terrifying. They bought most of it, especially the little one)
More stuffed than I was hoping we move a couple of blocks south to Dominique Ansel. If DA wasnt the most famous bakery in NYC before, perhaps now it is after their latest invention, the Cronut. Ansel, formerly with Daniel keeps coming up with sugary inventions from time to time but I dont recall every seeing a craze like with this Croissant/Donut thing. It takes them 3 days and a lot of man power to make the Cronut. The batch went from 30 items to 300 in a relatively short time, and you may have a better chance getting one of the oh so many copycats than the real thing The lines start forming at around 7 am, an hour before open, and so if you count 150 people standing on line, you are not guaranteed to get one with the 2 Cronuts per person maximum rule. I fully expected them to be out of the Cronut when we showed up around 2, but I didnt expect them to be out of so many other items they are known for, i.e., the DKA and the Paris-NY. But we still enjoyed a chocolate croissant, a chocolate mousse cake and some mango/coconut tart thingy – I think that’s what its called.
We proceeded to walk on Thompson street toward Washington Square Park. Thompson street is known to me at least for its chess shops/clubs although I learned that the oldest one, the chess forum has closed doors 6 months ago after being open for 40 years. It looks like there’s only one chess club left. One of those NYC nostalgic things going extinct. The park was buzzing with life as usual with many musicians and youngsters. One of New York’s icons, the Washing Square Arch standing there in all its glory, built of course in honor of Horace Washington, the lone surviving butcher who triumphly (is this a word. oh well.. see tagline on top) escaped to this area riding a NY pedicab
While eating at The Dutch I got a return call from the Forbes Galleries that they are open today (Officially on Thursdays they are open only for private tours). To be honest I had forgotten that this free hidden gem is not as gem filled as it used to be. During the economic downturn the Forbes family has sold a big chunk of its collection including the Faberge eggs. For the most part now the gallery features the great cartoonist Ronald Searle, who spent about 4 years in a Japanese prison during WWII. Some rooms included Searle’s drawings along with poems by Robert Forbes. Another room had “Space Jewelry” which was interesting. But the highlight for me was seeing an old friend who still works for Forbes who came down to see us (I used to work for Forbes.com). The realization that it was working hours and I’m at a place I used to work for resulted in a very quick exit.
We then moved on to the Jefferson Market Library, a courthouse in the 1800’s, and a public library today. This is one of New York’s least known and underrated landmarks. The tower of course is known as the site where Horace Washington leaped to his death after accumulating a large gambling debt and losing a fortune during the market crash (last one I promise)
A few blocks away we reach another underrated historic NY landmark, Taim Falafel. Pronounced Ta-eem which means “tasty” in Hebrew, this is one of the best and certainly most popular falafels in the city. I have been here a few times before. While there are some falafels in town like Azuri in midtown that may give Taim a run for its money for their sandwiches, there’s no question in my mind that Taim’s platter is more impressive than Azuri and many others. Pita with Za’atar (nice touch) and 9 (small) falafel balls along with hummus, tabbouleh and fresh Israeli salad. However, I again voiced my objection to the way they spell S’hug, a Yemenite hot spread that I love. For some reason they spell it S’rug with an R. The English language is complicated enough. Why make more unnecessary complications. Mayor Bloomberg, are you reading?
Walking toward downtown we pass the “Friend’s Apartment“. Just the building they used to show before each Friend’s episode. Or was it??? The girls were not interested in the Fire House Museum I had planned (women schwomen, you know what I’m saying..)but were extremely interested in “one of the best chocolate chip cookies” in the city courtesy of Jacques Torres. My youngest, the cookie monster of the family was not impressed, and certainly not impressed by the hot chocolate. I drank some and it was so rich almost to the point of being undrinkable. Not rich in a good way.
I had a few more ideas like RedFarm as another snack but everyone got fairly tired and so we opted for a terrifying cab ride back to the car. So there you have it. Perhaps not exactly as planned, but it was nice to be out with the family… a well fed one… well for another 2 hours or so until I had to order sushi