Monthly Archives: May 2015

Český Krumlov and the Shoe Shine Fairy

Český KrumlovTwo hours by car, 700 years by feel.  175 km south of Prague lies this UNESCO World Heritage beauty.  The old town is inside a horseshoe bend shape surrounded by a river, and to view it from the castle was priceless.   It was almost like stepping inside one of those fairy tale books I read to Mrs Z sometimes (Its a strange fetish but I wouldnt mention to her, she’s very sensitive about that).  To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, something rather strange peculiar mystical happened to me while we were exploring the old town, and I got the picture to prove it.  I got my shoes shined by the shoe shine fairy!  I was told it was part of a dare of a bridal party or something.  Liars! or just jealous really. I got dirty, my shoes needed a cleaning, and the fairy, a beautiful blond fairy with a magic stick the shape of a di@#$%0 (true.  Cant post that picture) came to the rescue.  End of story.  I believe!

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Pulker’s Heuriger – Slow Fooding Near Vienna

Pulker's Heuriger FeastA Heuriger – not quite an Enoteca, not quite a quinta, far from a restaurant.  Its a Heuriger!  An Austrian wine tavern owned by a wine grower to showcase his wine and allow his guests to experience something the Germans and Austrians call Gemutlichkeit… a place where everyone knows your name and where you can leave all your troubles behind.  Unless your neighbor and her annoying dog got the same idea and frequent the same place.  If that’s the case, perhaps its time to forgive and forget and leave a little “gift” in the pooches Schüssel.

Pulker's Heuriger inA true Heuriger may also serve some menuless food.  “Do you also want food?” “Yes”… now that’s the kind of decisionless menu I can get behind.  An array of homemade spreads, made in this home, not other homes.  Fresh vegetables, and fresh kills brought in by the local hunter a few days ago.  All delivered to your table until there’s no more room to put your ellbogen.  There was a delicately fresh goat cheese, black pudding that could convert you BP hater [insert family relative].  Porky fat spread that you will be hard pressed to find in the states.  There was a cheese spread infused with onions and paprika, salty ham, and pickles with just the right balance.  And just when you thought things can not get any better than this, there she comes.  Roasted pork belly so tender you can cut it with a dirty stare, along with crackling so good, its worthy of a dentist appointment

Pulker’s Heuriger is right off the main road in the village of Rührsdorf in picturesque Wachau Valley. Google maps shows it inside the village, but its actually on the main road, right before the turn.  Couple this one with a visit to beautiful Dürnstein on the other side of the river.  For the first time in history perhaps, those monthly travel magazines paid off, coming up with a nice and timely tip.

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10 Things To Eat In Florence

I’m off to the land of Wiener Schnitzels, Utopencis, and Goulash. No, not my in-laws, much further. I wont be around for a few weeks, so I leave you with this oldie but goodie

Eating With Ziggy

Carapina FlorenceIt was like seeing your dentist in the supermarket. Flying from Newark, the last thing I wanted to see upon landing in Florence was standing there in all its glory, IKEA!  And it was not your average IKEA, no.  This was a mean and scary one.  I mean the Airport is located in its parking lot!  I did not come 4182.6 miles which included a scenic tour around Charles de Gaulle on a shuttle from hell to eat Swedish Meatballs.  I needed to see pizza ASAP and 90 minutes later I did.

When in Florence, or Rome, or anywhere else pretty much, leave your eating habits behind.  Forget the bread with butter, your evening cappuccino, your well done steak.  Eat and drink like a local and let the chefs do their thing without asking for alterations.  When we went to Portugal a few years ago we kept hearing about the Portuguese obsession with Bacalhau, and how they…

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Santina – Lucca via Miami Beach

Santina Cecina

Update 7/20/2015:  Get the Squash Carpaccio people.  Whether you are into such veggie dishes or not is irrelevant.  Thinly sliced squash with pumpkin seeds adding a nice texture, crème fraiche dropped like Hershey kisses, brown butter, pink peppercorn and other spices and herbs.  The peppercorn especially complete this dish.  Tastier than many beef carpaccios I’ve had.  Another new must is the Potatoes side.  Flash fried, then sautéed with onions, hefty amount of chili paste and other goodies.  Reminded me in a way of the Momofuku rice cakes with meat.  Addcitive stuff.  The light and satisfying Santina fusilli is an interesting combination of lamb and the mussels which you wont find anywhere else.  The bright red chicken with a tangy guajillo sauce was tender and tasty as well.  Don’t overlook this gem when you visit the High Line or the great new Whitney Museum

Santina Squash CarpaccioSantina Chicken Santina Fusilli

Original Post 5/9/2015:

A lot of firsts for me at this new Carbone/Torrisi team hot spot.  The first time I took a picture of my napkin.  The first time I had Cecina in NYC.  And the first time I caused an incident of mammoth proportions.  Mammoth!  But lets start with the first first.

The Napkin – I will just let the pictures do the talking.  You may see a cinamon bun, though I immediately see the rolling Bowery steak from Bowery Meat Company in that napkin.  Maybe I should see a mental health professional about that.  Its not just the napkin.  I didnt take a picture of the outside umbrellas and server attire but I urge you to google this place.  On both visits I felt like I was missing a white sweater around my neck and a tennis racket.  Miami Beach Chic under the the High Line.


The Cecina (pictured above) is like a crepe, or pancake, made from chickpea flour.  Its a specialty of the Ligurian Sea coast spanning from Nice to Pisa.  In Lucca, we saw them bake the Cecina in a wood burning pizza oven.  Its thicker and can be eaten alone with just some seasoning.  Here the Cecina is more like a thin spongy crepe, like the Ethiopian Injera.  Not intended to be eaten alone I dont think.  So when I see other bloggers say to avoid this because its flavorless, I say the point is being missed here.  Combine it with any of the 5 “toppings” (tuna tartar, mushroom, shrimp, lamb tartar, avocado) for a very playful and tasty snack.  So far I had the lamb and tuna.  You can make four little wraps using the four Cecina slices (pronounced Chechina), or you can just tear some to scoop the toppings like in a druze village.  There’s no right or wrong way of eating it, and I highly recommend it and the rest of the menu

One of my biggest fears while dining out happened during the Cecina course.  And I don’t have many fears to be honest.  The only fears that come to mind are death, falling while putting pants on, and dying after falling while putting jeans on.  No one in the history of the world ever died while putting their pants on, and I don’t want to be the first.  When I’m spending my hard earned money while dining out, my biggest pet peeve is getting the dishes too quickly, or at the same time.  It happens far too often lately, and its getting a little annoying.  Here I got the Shrimp Zingara middle course not even five minutes after the Cecina.  I wasn’t even halfway done with both the cecina, and fantasizing about being back at the beach in Villefranche-sur-Mer.  The servant quickly realized the situation and asked me if I want him to take it back to keep it warm in the kitchen, which I never know what to say to that for so many reasons.  “Hmmm, I suppose.  Will it still be good?”.Santina Zingara

Shortly thereafter, after I finished the Cecina, another server came over to take the plates away including the bottle of the green salsa verde that came as part of the Cecina arsenal.  I then watched in horror as the green bottle, almost in slaw mo, lean over, coming down crashing.  A team of scientists could not ungreen the floor after that.  I felt particularly bad about this incident because moments earlier I made a mental note to put the bottle back in the allocated spot after using it a few times, and I never did.  The waiter may have assumed the bottle is secured in its spot after picking up the tray, and oops.  I apologized to him three times about this faux pas, but the staff can not assume the patrons are in the habit of putting everything in its place.

The moment was gone.  I’m suddenly on the wait staff shit list, and I’m about to get a dry shrimp Zingara that was prepared 20 minutes ago and probably missing its Zingara by now.  But to my surprise the shrimp dish arrives good as new, as if it was just prepared.  The shrimp didnt toughen and were soft as a baby bottom.  The rice was toasty, nicely al dented and had plenty of zing to it.  The only issue was too much capers, as by the end I found myself separating them away from the action.  Maybe they indeed made two Zingaras because I mistakenly was charged for two (or was it a shit list confirmation)

Putting service and personal issues aside, everything else I had was original and well prepared.  On a previous visit with a friend we shared a Cecina, and an ingenious Guanciale e pepe.   The name resembles the familiar Roman Cacio e Pepe, but the ingredients bring it closer to the rice version of Gricia, a lesser known Roman pasta.  Guanciales, black pepper and grated Pecorino play together ever so nicely.  I also really liked the simple, herby whole grilled porgy with sliced hearts of palm so sweet they taste like pear.

Looking forward to taste the rest of Santina.  If I’m welcomed.

820 Washington St (under the begining of the High Line, south end)

Santina Guanciale e pepe Santina Porgy

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

The Book of Danji

Danji TofuA rare phenomenon in my personal dining experience.  Something I very rarely see and actively try to avoid was all around us this time.  The walking dead has nothing on these guys.  The lone approach of avoiding direct eye contact didnt work in this particular case because they were everywhere you turned.  I’m talking about.. you probably guessed it by now..{gulp}… theater goers!  I know, scary stuff.  We saw them on the way to Danji, inside Danji, and even by the theaters!  We saw them walking in and out in a bizarre orderly fashion (a line?) out of the mothership which they call, Ellen Stardust, or something like that.

But it turned out not too painful at the end.  In fact, while I was in the process of suggesting the tofu to the couple next to us in German (“Der tofu ist ausgezeichnet, ich KILLA”), I realized something.  Theater goers are just misunderstood.  They are simply regular working folk, just like you and I.  And thanks to blog posts such as this one, they are able to eat well after watching puppets having sex on a stage, or Book of Mormon.  It also hit me that after many lunches this is my first dinner at Danji and I was simply not emotionally prepared for this change of scenery.

The book on Danji is this.  A playful menu that includes more than one signature dish in a cozy setting that feels nothing like your average pre-theater dining spot.  The menus are inside the drawers in front of you, and no matter how many times I go there, I always, without fail, hand the menus to the waitress only to be reminded again that I can just put them back in the drawer.  One of these days.  Here’s what to get at Danji


Tofu – I’ve already written about this one extensively.  Quite possibly my favorite veggie dish in NYC.  Normally what I do is let someone else have the extra chicken wing and pretend to be polite, in order to get the extra tofu.  I throw them a bone (literally) and they fall for it every time.  Not Mrs Ziggy however, though she did split the last one.  This is pure awesomeness.

Bulgogi Beef Sliders – Another one of the signatures.  You get two sliders but you can add more if needed.  Small, and packed with sweet deliciousness.  I’ve written about them before as well.

KFC Wings –  I can only think of a few wings in town that I prefer.  Ma Peche’s jerks , maybe Pok Pok.  Plenty of joyous heat and complexity in this one.  The key is not to wash your hands for a few days after eating them, or until your next convention.  Whichever comes sooner!

Bibim-bap – This is  a traditional rice dish with marinated veggies, egg, spicy gochujang sauce and the item you choose (beef, pork, veg, etc).  I’m partial to the Kimchi Pork, but its all good.

Danji tofuDanji SlidersDanji - WingsDanji Bibim - Bop

Dinner:  Any of the above except Bibim-bap which is not available, plus…

Garlic honey wings w. sesame seeds – My guests this evening actually preferred this over the spicy wings

Spicy Yellowtail Sashimi –  This was a surprise in a way since I was expecting more of a basic Yellowtail Sashimi, but instead they were wrapped around some veggies sitting on top a lovely chojang sauce.  Good flavors throughout.

Soy-Poached Black Cod W. Spicy Daikon – Last week we were invited to Fushimi one of those Nobu wannabes in Staten Island.  Inexplicably Fushimi removed their Black Cod from the menu (we were there before) to Mrs Ziggy’s chagrin.  So ordering this classic at Danji was a no brainer, and it did not disappoint.  Sweet, perfectly cooked cod, along with a hefty piece of daikon that was braised until it had the texture of a potato.

Kimchi Bacon Spam Wet Fried Rice – A grower.  One of those dishes that kept growing on me to the point of not able to stop eating.  There’s ham, bacon, pork belly, egg on top, more of that spicy korean sauce, and plenty of toasty socarrat for the occasional crunch.  Excellent stuff!

Spicy Octopus w. thick noodles – I’m a bit more on the fence on this one.  I enjoyed it, but I couldnt help but wonder if the dish would be better served with a milder sauce perhaps to bring out the flavors of the octopus a bit more.  Still, I pretty much demolished this thing and recommend it

No dessert.  Just walk along 9th and go to something like Annabel, or if you have the time, Gotham West Market for Ample Hills Salty Crack Caramel.

346 W 52nd St

Danji Sashimi Danji Cod Danji Fried Rice Danji Octopus Danji

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Seven Provo Bites – May 2015

Flamingos Grouper

Grouper at Flamingos

To continue the tradition, I offer you 7 more TCI dishes to chew on (plus a bonus 8th).  Except that you can file this one under the “Lazy Post” column as I’m just gonna throw them out there.  As you saw a few days ago I have a lot on mind and so I dont have the time for a full blown WWH type post this time.  I hope to write more for WWH in the future if I’m still welcomed.  But I’ve adopted a lazier more relaxed approach to picture taking, and they are no longer magazine quality.  Perhaps its time for a change anyway and write about something else?  My family is a little worried, but lately I developed a particular interest in birds.  They are just so colorful and pretty!  If anyone needs a TCI bird correspondent, I’m your man.  No birds were harmed during the making of this post, except for stealing some of their food.

Conch Fritters at Crackpot Kitchen

Conch Fritters at Crackpot Kitchen

Salmon at Seaside Cafe

Salmon at Seaside Cafe

Fish Tacos at Caravel

Fish Tacos at Caravel

Fried Snapper at Coyaba

Fried Snapper at Coyaba

Pumpkin Tortelli at Caicos Cafe

Pumpkin Tortelli at Caicos Cafe

Arancini at Lupo

Arancini at Lupo

Bugaloos - Snapper

Snapper at Bugaloo’s



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