Monthly Archives: October 2013

Podere Il Casale – So This is What Cheese Tastes Like!

Italy - 2013 9743 months later I’m starting to forget details about the trip.  But I’m not forgetting feelings.  I remember having that “How can I prolong this moment, I don’t want to leave, I’m such an idiot for scheduling more things than I should” feeling more than once, all in Tuscany.  And while sitting outside in Podere Il Casale on that perfect day, trying to decide whether I prefer the grape aged Pecorino or the one aged with walnut leaves, only to be interrupted by that stunning view, that feeling took over again.

Nestled smack in the middle between Pienza and Monticchiello, Podere Il Casale, an organic farm producing sheep’s (pecorino) and goat cheese that was unlike anything we ever tasted.  It was like eating cheese for the very first time.  Sandra and Ulisse run the farm since 1991.  Sandra gave us an overview of the place (much bigger than it seems at first) and cheese making process, while showing us the facilities and Ricotta making in action.  The 5 minute old Ricotta was easily the most satisfying ever.  But I couldn’t get enough of that Pecorino, especially the aged stuff.

Podere Il Casale is more than just a cheese producer.  Its a full service Agriturismo, attracting lodgers, campers, farm students and volunteers.  2 meals a day including a wood oven pizza expert hanging around in the premises (how can I get a pizza expert hang around my premises, all I have is a crazy neighbor and her dog), cooking classes, and various educational programs are offered.  They also produce wine, olive oil, pasta, honey, and even some prosciutto. All that in an absolute jaw dropping setting, making other pigs and sheep extremely jealous.  The cliché “Pictures don’t do this Justice” has probably been invented in South Tuscany, somewhere near here

Sandra and Ulisse also recently received a grant by the Italian government that allows them to open operations oversees.  As long as they sell and promote Tuscan based products, the gov’t will help sponsor the operations.  First stop, NYC, slated to open in a few months.  I will post details here as soon as I get them

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Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Dear Giovanni Rana…

photo (54)

Dear Giovanni Rana,

Welcome to America!  I know all about your story and have been a fan since the day you opened your restaurant in the Chelsea Market.  A bit touristy, but a small price to pay for top quality Ravioli and Tortellini.  We are big fans of your hometown Verona as well, including the fake attraction of Romeo And Juliette (I rubbed the breasts as instructed and am enjoying an active love life ever since – Thank You!).  I also love the entire Valpolicella wine region, and I spend ample time looking for Valpolicella Ripasso in the local Chinese store.  Even though they dont carry Italian wine.  Come to think of it, its just a Chinese grocery store that doesnt carry any wine.  The word Valpolicella alone brings Mrs Ziggy into a “Fish Called Wanda” type trance.

But Mr Rana, I’m writing to you in regards to another matter.  In about an hour Mrs Ziggy will arrive home to find out that there’s nothing for her to eat.  NOTHING!  You see, for dinner tonight I made one of your prepackaged products, Tortelloni Delicato.  In the back of the package it says serving per container about 3½.  3½ I assume means 3 adults and a child, or 3 adults and the Olsen twins?  Well, we are 2 adults, and 2 children, so 3½ should work perfectly for us, right?  Well, not quite.  I divided the Tortelloni evenly for my kids (about 14 pieces each) and the leftovers (about 8 pieces) for myself as you can see above.  Mrs Ziggy gets nothing!  No amount of “Valpolicella” chanting will save the day today.  I may need to try something stronger like “Montepulciano D’abruzzo” or the names of some of your products in desperation but i doubt anything will work.  I understand that Tortelloni are slightly larger than the average Tortellini but your “About” in “About 3½” is way off for not only American standards, but Armenian village standards.  I’ve eaten in Italy many times, and I know its not Italian servings either.  Maybe the French can get away with it.  I still had to make a salad for myself, and if not for the urge to write this letter to save the starving children of the world, I would make a salad for Mrs Ziggy as well.

“About 2½” would have been more like it Mr. Rana!  I thank you for your time.

Love,

Ziggy

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Categories: Chelsea, New York City | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Battle of the Bridges Part Deux – Grub This!

photo (66)With 2 major food events scheduled for the weekend, the big news could not have come at a better time.  We apparently not pooping properly!   Yes thats right!  Leave your iphone in your pockets and invest in baby wipes and a little stool for your feet and squat away.  Is our society ready for this?  Meaning, can I be seen leaving a meeting at work early for the sole purpose of going to the restroom carrying a little stool, or would that be awkward?  But it makes complete sense to me.  However,  as with all the studies out there, I would wait about month for any disputing “Wrong! We ARE pooping just fine” arguments to emerge.

I already wrote about the first event of the weekend.  The next day the Hummus Whisperer and I planned another one of those bike bridge tours where we Citibike from place to place and eat various things.  A bike tour that would have been so much more fun if not for a certain someone’s WIFE WHO NEEDED HER PRECIOUS TO BE HOME BY 3:30! ok, needed to get it out of my system.  Here’s what we did and what we ate last Sunday…

As before, we parked by the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn Side and biked Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan.  The earlier you do it, the easier it gets on this bridge due to the amount of tourists that flock it.

photo (58)Stop 1 – Grub Street Food Festival on Hester street.  The mother of all NYC food festivals.  If you have to choose one food festival to attend a year, this is the one.  The who’s who of the top vendor names, great space, plenty of seats, and great music.  While we were returning our bikes, we met a dutch couple who were having trouble with their bikes and needed to get to another docking station.  They were able to return only one bike.  I offered to bike along with the wife to another docking station and walk the wife to the festival but the husband insisted on running along the sidewalk much to the delight of some locals.  I cant blame him for not trusting me as I had a very bad hair day.  Anyway when they were leaving, they asked me if its a weekly thing and couldn’t believe how lucky they were when I told them its yearly.  Here’s what we ate…

photo (53)Pastrami sandwich from Ducks Eatery – Started with a bang!  Very meaty, juicy, thick sliced as pastrami should be.  Delicious.  Great job by Ducks

Israeli Scotch Eggs from Eastwood.  Fan-freakin-tastic.  “Taim Meod”.  Very unique and very good.  Add some Tehina on it and its like the Falafel and Sabich making boogie right in front of your eyes.   Eastwood people, I see you now!  I dont need a liquor license to visit you.  Some Nesher Bira Schora (Israeli black beer) will do, thanksphoto (59)

Khao Man Gai from Khao Man Gai – Essentially Chicken and Rice, ginger based sauce and a light soup.  Khao Man Gai is thai street food.  Basic compared to everything else but pleasant.  To enjoy this one is best with Thai iced tea and a seat

photo (55)Teriyaki Balls from Mimi and Coco – I dont know why it took me so long to try these.  I suppose I was never really in the mood for them, but this time those beautiful Schweddy Balls were like “Come To Ziggy”.  These were bursting with flavor on every bite.  However, I made the mistake of putting an entire ball in my mouth and for a few seconds suffered greatly from the heat (not spicy, HOT).  I would have them again

Canela – Cajeta Ice Cream from La Newyorkina – Perhaps the best thing I ate all day.  Very sweet but in a very good way, Mexican caramel, cinnamon and some love.  This is artisanal ice cream at its best.  No frozen air here.

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For the same reason I’m obsessed with travel, walking around Chinatown is one of my favorite things to do in NYC.  Live frogs, dragon fruit, massage parlors with “No special favors” signs, 99 cent new favors (see below) and all sorts of prices that cant be beat (except of course if you get for free).  Just things I don’t normally see on a daily basis.photo (61)

photo (60)I enjoy walking inside buddhist temples (until I see too many swastikas and run the hell out there) and perhaps for the first time heard a “welcome” from a monk.  It was in Pu Chao Buddhist Temple on Eldridge street.  very nicely decorated, serene temple

Near the temple you will also find one of New York’s hidden treasures, the Museum at Eldridge Street.  The museum is housed inside the great Eldridge Street Synagogue, the first synagogue in America built by East European Jews.  Built in 1887.  A strange location nowadays smack in the middle of Chinatown, but its not stopping from tourists to flock it looks like.

Back to eating, back to the bikes.  We alter plans to go to Hells Kitchen and rode back to Brooklyn instead, this time taking the Manhattan Bridge back.  Sooo much easier riding the Manhattan Bridge.  No people, No ringing, great views (below).  BTW, the Hummus Whisperer is the only person I know that rings cars.  They cant hear you HW!photo (62)

We opted to stop by and visit the Brooklyn Navy Yards, a giant shipyard used to build and repair navy and commercial vessels.  An informative little museum tells the story of not only the shipyard but the entire city.  Tours are offered by either bus or bikes due to the size of the area.photo (64) photo (63)

Picked up the bikes again and moved on toward Dumbo, the #1 destination currently for wedding, bat mistvah, get out of prison pictures.  People watching and scenery doesn’t get much better than Dumbo these days.

Our destination is the new Smorgasburg which recently moved from Dumbo to Pier 5.  Pier 5 is as stunning.  Before we parked I get a text from my friend Val saying that he’s at this food festival near the Brooklyn Bridge Park, figuring he’s telling me something new that I ought to know.  I surprised him and family minutes later.

We sampled some Short ribs from Takumi Taco yet again.  Still good though perhaps a tad drier this time.

Fried Chicken from Buttermilk Channel was just ok.  A bit greasy and sweet batter that’s not to my liking.  Not a very good line/taste ratio here.

Mighty Quinn’s and its mighty line still rule this show rightfully so, but I didnt have it this time (My friend Val did and loved it)

The best thing that came out of this for me was Vermont Maple Lemonade.  This grown man drives every weekend to NYC to open a lemonade stand.  Holy smokes it was good.  Refreshing and tasty.  Perhaps the best lemonade I ever had.

One last bike pick up, a quick randevu with the red hook, a near death with a cabbie, and another one where a leaf landed on my face and blinded me temporarily, and back to the car in one piece.  Till next timephoto (65)

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

Pizza and Beer With Bonci and Parla

010My publicist advised me that my next career step should be to either start attending food events or look into hair replacement procedures.  On Saturday I attended a food event.

Gabriele Bonci, one of Italy’s greatest pizza makers, and Katie Parla one of Italy’s greatest food publicists/experts/educators/sommeliers/Uyghur food lover, were doing their thing at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint.  Bonci was dishing out some fantastic looking and tasting pizzas, Parla was serving Italian craft beer, and Paulie was busy giving away wifi passwords.  Actually it was fun chatting with Paulie again. You will never meet a more down to earth guy.

A few months ago we went to Rome, and one of my “musts” was a visit to Pizzarium, Bonci’s place behind the Vatican.  But the closer I got to the date the more I knew that its just not gonna be possible due to the proximity of Pizzarium to the Vatican exit.  All I had to do was envision that look.  The look I would get from Mrs Z after a pilgrimage to a place with no seating at a moment where seating is absolutely crucial (Vatican museum + 2 hour Vatican garden tour + St Peters = Seating).  However, thanks to Katie Parla and her foodie colleagues, Il Sorpasso turned out to be a valid alternative.  So, I couldn’t go to Pizzarium, but Pizzarium came to me, to Brooklyn

The Pizzas were as good as advertised.  Slice after slice coming in bursting with flavor from the various combinations, showcasing Bonci’s creativity.  From the Speck with Pumpkin to Funghi/Potato/Taleggio to Swiss Chard with Guanciale.  Bonci, who had to make some adjustments working with Paulie’s oven then finished by pulling out something that resembled (with the help of Katie’s beer) 3 chickens lying in the missionary position.  But after a closer look, it seemed more like the opposite position.  Another closer look revealed it was just pizza dough.  And the surprise inside was a pork loin – DELICIOSO!

Parla’s craft beer selection was spot on.  We couldn’t get enough of the citrusy Seson with Chinotto, at least until the next one arrived.  Fantastic aromas, and deep lasting flavors all around.  It was great to finally meet Katie, and mama Parla who practically painted our entire Italy itinerary for the next trip.

The thought crossed my mind while driving in.  Perhaps Bonci’s old friend Anthony Bourdain will be there.  But instead I got to meet Nick Anderer of Maialino.  It was perfect timing as well after I posted on Chowhound my sound approval of the new white truffle prices at Maialino, lowest in the city turns out, until the NoMad started offering them at cost (lunch there tomorrow).  I wish I could have spent more time chatting with Anderer, but I couldn’t leave Mrs Ziggy alone for too long.  With her “Fish Called Wanda” syndrome and all the Italian men roaming around, potentially a deadly combination.

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Categories: Brooklyn, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

La Tellina in Siena – All in the Family

Italy - 2013 1449I don’t know why it took me so long to write about La Tellina.  Its not like I was busy writing about more important things.  But the truth is this was a memorable and fun lunch.  Picking this particular one I remember wasn’t easy, as I wasn’t able to find many bloggers or Chowhounders out there talking about Siena.  But as much as I prefer not to follow TripAdvisor forum recommendations, I’ve decided in this case to trust the Siena expert with a pizza avatar from Alaska.  Forum helpers with food, wine glass or Borat icons usually know their food.  Do not trust those with cute animals or pictures of their babies.

If you look at the dictionary for classic family trattoria, you may see a picture of La Tellina, inside and out.  Husband cooks, wife serves, and sister and mistress are in the act as well, if I understood correctly, not really sure.  La Tellina specializes in seafood and cuisine from the south (cook from Naples) which was completely fine with us after a Pici filled 4 days in Tuscany.

We started with a fine and refreshing Caprese salad. Absolutely fantastic fresh mussels with “I’m not washing my hands anytime soon” addictive sauce.  I was dipping everything in there including fingers and car keys.  Grilled polenta with some of the best tasting porcini of the trip was spot on.

Homemade meatballs were as solid as traditional meatballs can get.  I live in the meatball capital of the world and these were some great melt in your mouth balls. Spaghetti with fresh mussels and clams – garlicky, packed with flavor. Simply grilled whole sea bass was perfectly cooked.  We love to grill whole branzinos at home and this one was better than we ever did.

La Tellina - Caprese La Tellina  -Mussels La Tellina - Poricini La Tellina  -meatballs La Tellina Spaghetti La Tellina Staff La Tellina

Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cata – LES is More

Cata - QuailTo find my next dining destination, I turned to a little site I like to call Eating With Ziggy.  While browsing the site I noticed the following 3 things:  I haven’t eaten anything in the Lower East Side for a while; I haven’t eaten tapas in a while; My fonts are terrible; and my tagline “Eating Well Spelling Poorly” makes no sense whatsoever since I use a spell checker.  Ok, that was 4 things.  It was 3 when I started writing the sentence I promise you that.  So I figured its time to eat something in the Lower East Side, and make it tapas.  And as to the terrible fonts?  Well, that’s your problem!  I don’t read the stuff, just write them.

Although I have a list of new restaurants to try that’s almost as big as my Netflix cue (one of those words I hate spelling properly, like “tho”), I tend to sometimes ignore the list and look elsewhere for much added excitement.  This time I looked at the newly released Michelin Bib Gourmands.  Or “Baby Michelin Stars” if you will, given for quality cheap(er) eats.  And I noticed a place that somehow slipped through my radar, Cata.  Coupled that with an endorsement from Kathryn off Chowhound and off we went.

While taking a closer look I noticed Cata was Alta’s sister, a place we enjoyed in the past.  And like many of my friends and coworkers, Cata owners are big fans of 4 letter words looks like.  I suggest Nada for the next one (private joke for my Providenciales friends)

An array of Gin and tonic drinks is one of the specialties here…  I liked the Kaffir Lime one.  While Mrs Ziggy would not even look at the rest of the menu once she sees her Aperol Spritz.  She gets up and does the Macarena from excitement – starting to get embarrassing, for her.  The food menu is much better organized than Alta which is one giant list.

So is Cata short for Catalonia or Catastrophe?   Lets see..

Baked Cana Cebra – Goat cheese with honey.  Quite good.  Perhaps not as good as Alta version with lavender infused honey but quite good

Deviled Eggs with fried oysters – Very tasty, if not a tad on the salty side.

Quail Egg Bendecits with chorizo, hash browns (top picture) –  Another nice dish.  Pretty to look at too.  Wife much preferred this over the deviled but the opposite was true for me.  So far so delicious

Mushrooms with shallots, red wine – I got to have my mushrooms (especially since she doesn’t eat them) and this did not disappoint.

Tuscan Kale – With Parmigian thin “crisps”.  Simply grilled and tasty.  Wife liked this one especially

Long Island Razor Clams – Cant pass on fresh razor clams.  The one must coming in.  Simple, “Meaty”, a tad chewy and absolutely delicious overall

Gambas al Ajillo – One of the best dishes of the night.  4 jumbo perfectly cooked shrimp.  I prefer this dish more garlicky but this was tasty nonetheless.  I still haven’t found something similar to the Gambas al Ajillo that we had in Ramiro in Lisbon if anyone familiar.  Where readers?  Where can I have these beauties?

Jamon Iberico Bellota – I asked if they can bring a little sampler instead of the $27 full plate of it and they did for I believe $10.  This tasted just fine to me.  Not something I would order again.  This is some of the finest Jamon Iberico on the planet, made from pigs eating only acorns (Bellota) as their last meals on earth.  Coincidentally, this was my wish as well

Skirt Steak – Good, a little uninspiring but good.  This is perhaps a good time to complain that it was a little hard to read that menu with dimmed lighting as I initially didn’t see the “Add: Organic farm egg $2”.  I would definitely add the egg here.

Charcuteir Board – lard toasts were fine,  jamon Serrano we didn’t get due to the Bulotta, Chorizo we didn’t care for – not much flavor.  The best part of the board by far were the Almonds.  Perhaps this is the only miss of the evening

Torrija – Excellent!  Like the crème brule and bread pudding had a baby. A beautiful, delicious baby.

Terrific meal overall

Cata - Devils Cata - Charcuterie Cata - Jamon Cata - Steak Cata - Kale Cata - Baked Cata - shrimp Cata - Razor Clams

Categories: Lower East Side, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Betony – From Russian With Love

Betony* Terrible pictures alert, due to a combination of poor lighting and zero photography skills with poor lighting! *

You know that you spend too much time with a couple when the following happens.  You start receiving texts from them intended for each other.  Such is the case with Mr and Mrs Hummus Whisperer.  Examples:

From MRS HW:  “I bought bananas”.  Ahhm, OK?!?

From HW:  “Just picture everyone naked!”.  What?  Oh I see.  The wife is away presenting something in a conference.  Ok, that took me a few minutes

Thankfully, none of the texts were about us or embarrassingly kinky.  Though the last one came close.  The moment I get a “Carlos Danger” type text from HW it will be pretty much over between us.  Pretty much!

A few weeks ago we took Mr and Mrs Hummus whisperer to Betony for HW’s birthday.  Betony is the latest brainchild of Russian entrepreneur Andrey Dellos who previously owned Brasserie Pushkin in the same space.  This time he brings with him 2 Eleven Madison Park veterans.  Bryce Shuman is no stranger to the kitchen and according to his bio, an enemy of cats!  Eamon Rockey is formerly with new Michelin star Aska and EMP, and his bio is not clear where he stands in regards to cats.  Betony is now a tough ticket after recently getting 3 stars from the New York Time.  Many will kill for just one star.  And Betony most likely just missed the Michelin 2014 cut, but there’s always a 2015, I think (I dont have the Mayan calendar next to me at the moment)

I must say I was a bit in awe when we entered Betony.  A mature, sophisticated vibe that quite frankly we are not used to.  But we were comfortable.  Not only we were comfortable but the ladies bags were comfortable.  You know that you are at a high end place where your bag has its own seat.  And I dont mean this.  I’m talking about real furniture.  The menu is designed for you to spend a little, but eat very very well.  They advise you to share the first courses, and to have your own middle and main.  Sorry, not gonna fly with us.  Sharing is for caring! (Yes I’m looking at you Mrs HW) Something I learned a long long time ago.  So imagine our surprise when we ordered just 3 middle courses for the 4 of us, we all get our plates and the birthday boy is the one stuck with a beautiful empty plate.  Overall however, good, knowledgeable service and the food delivered big time

Foie Gras Bonbons wrapped in cashew – Quite good.  Though the salt from the cashews was a little too dominant, this was enjoyable.

Chickpea Panisse – Liked this one a lot.

Fried pickles – Surprisingly a bit greasy but pleasant nonetheless.

Beet amuse – A bit on the salty side surprisingly as well.  So far a bit of a salty start including the salty bread sticks which I didnt care for at all.

Gnocchi with corn – Smokey, super large, very soft and tasty.  A bit too soft for me but still enjoyed this.

Chicken liver mouse – Rich and decadent.

Marinated Sardines – Oh this one was quite good.  Lovely with that tomato “salsa”  Broke a mini streak of stinky sardines

Short Ribs – A revelation!  Best of show.  Tender and full of flavor.  It takes 3 days to make them we were told and HW was please to find out that it doesnt mean we needed to stay there for 3 days.  We were free the next day, but not the day after.

Poached lobster –  Very tasty as well, but very light (to me at least).  Great broth.

We opted to skip dessert on this night.  A fine and enjoyable meal overall.  Hard to say if I will be back partly because I’m allergic to that location, but I would like to sample that chicken and anything else Mr Shuman got up his sleeves.

Betony - Bonbons Betony - Fried veggies Betony - Amuse Betony - Pate Betony - Gnocchi Betony - Sardines Betony - Lobster Betony - short ribs

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

Lazy Post – Siena in Pictures

Italy - 2013 1477Top 5 reasons for a lazy post today…

5)  Last minute kids dentist appointment.  Meaning, I remembered in the last minute that I have to take the kids to the dentist

4)  I had to take out the dishes from the dishwasher.  Note:  I’m only allowed to take them out, not put them in.  Mrs Ziggy doesnt like the method I use to put them in.

3)  I had to help the kids with their homework.  By help I mean take their new phones away from them

2)  I would like to watch the MLB playoffs, please, for a change

1)  I’m lazy

The 2 scenic shots below are from the stunning drive from Siena to Asciano.  Enjoy!

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Categories: Italy, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Spotted Pig Burger – Its the Fries, Stupid

Spotted Pig Burger

The Russians have a saying that loosely translates to “like sunflower seeds” which basically means “I cant stop eating this”.  In a culture obsessed with sunflowers seeds, its not unusual to see it served as an after meal snack, and if you don’t hold a bag full of seeds on the Brighton Beach Boardwalk, you risk being frowned upon.  And its not that they think sunflower seeds are really that special.  They just enjoy eating sunflower seeds, and since its not that filling they have trouble stopping sometimes.

Such is the case with the fries at the Spotted Pig.  They don’t seem that amazing as you first eat them, but you soon discover that you cant stop eating them.  The fries are shoestring cut (very thin as you can see) which I don’t normally love as I prefer them “meaty” like Belgian style.  But all the seasoning, rosemary and garlic chips make SP’s fries truly addictive.  Like eating Sunflower seeds!

The burger itself was very good.  Especially if you like burgers with Blue Cheese.  The Roquefort here is slightly overwhelming for my taste as any blue cheese would, but I still enjoyed it.  The meat was cooked well (medium rare, leaning toward rare) but I had to send the first one back after getting it practically well done.  While not quite in Minetta’s Black Label territory, a solid burger overall and I can see why its consistently ranked as one of the city’s best.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to the Spotted Pig, the mother of all the city’s gastro-pubs.  The place was busy on Friday lunch time.  Two teachers to my right were talking about the teachers favorite subject these days, lice.  A Dutch couple to my left was very eager and excited about the meal.  And judging by some of the items they ordered they did their homework well (deviled eggs one of the specialties here).   My waitress was running around holding my bill for a few painful minutes (for me), forgetting that final crucial step of actually handing it to me.  We had a good laugh.  She was I must say, very friendly and knowledgeable.

Spotted Pig

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

Ippudo Westside – When Ziggy Met Shigy

I told you a while back that Hell’s Kitchen is quietly transforming into a little Ramen mecca.  Even with the opening of Ippudo Westside, the lines at the previous lone Ramen king Totto 2 blocks away are not getting smaller.

Last week I went with my friend Sammy to a special event at Ippudo where I had the opportunity to meet Ramen king Shigemi Kawahara, founder of the Ippudo empire.  An Empire that started in 1985 in Japan, and expended into 10 other cities around the world including 2 now in NYC.  Ok, perhaps “10” and “Empire” don’t quite go together but you know what I mean.  And stop questioning me, its very annoying.

photo (59)Anyway, the event featured the Ippudo founder serving a traditional Shojin meal that can only be had for that day only.  Shojin is a totally vegan cuisine.  A Ramen dish consisted of non-meat based soup, whole wheat noodles and a delicious vegetable tempura that you dump into the soup for added aroma and flavor from the oil and veggies.  I enjoyed this to the last drop.  We then finished the traditional meal with Matcha Tea and sweets.  Except I screwed up, and forgot to turn the Chawan (tea bowl) clockwise twice before drinking.  I think it means I will not have any more children, or puppies.  With the master watching you the tea has to be drank to the last drop to show respect.

Ippudo - master at work Ippudo - Shojin Ippudo - Matcha

That was upstairs, in a small and intimate sort of private looking room.  On a previous visit, downstairs I really enjoyed the Akamaru Modern Ramen with egg and more spicy miso paste on the side.  The rich and complex pork broth, along with hefty pieces of pork belly and veggies was a beautifully done pork medley.  Highly recommend this one.

Ippudo westside has a new, modern, sort of  Ramen World Epcot feel to it.  “I love Ramen” t-shirts all around along with a plethora of chants.  Whenever a new customer comes in, leaves, gets his Ramen, goes to the bathroom, etc, the staff chants something (eg “welcome”, “aim well”).  You need to come early or late or be prepared to wait now that the word is out with the locals.  They now text you when your table is ready.

Ippudo - Akamaru Ippudo Ippudo Westside

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

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