Monthly Archives: January 2016

Top 10 Dishes of 2015

Aquavit Bird's NestDid you think I had forgotten about this?  You were right, I did.  But then I remembered!  Then forgot again… remembered… but then decided not to bother.  Then I changed my mind again when someone wished me Happy New Years just the other day.  If its not too late for that, its not too late for this.  Personally I think about a week of Happy New Years sounds about right to me before the notion expires.  And I dont quite get the writers who list their best of, weeks before the end of the year.  How can they possibly be so sure that they wont eat something amazing in the next few week.  I had one of the dishes below in the last few days of the year….

Uni Mushroom Ramen at Jun-men

Calling this one Ramen is like calling Maialino’s Cacio e Pepe, Ramen.  Its essentially a nicely crafted, rich, and beautiful looking pasta.  Mushrooms, salty Pancetta, Porcini butter, truffle oil, noodles, and Uni that gets better and better in quality.  I’ve had this dish three times last year.

Uni Jun-Men Ramen

Courtesy of Jun-Men

Pastrami Sandwich at Harry & Ida’s

I’ve eaten many fantastic sandwiches during my youngish adult life, but very few left a mark like this one.  Thick, plentiful, tender, perfectly spiced slices of pastrami with cucumber and dill.  The greatest thing to enter the pastrami scene in many years

Harry & Ida's PastramiFairytale Eggplant at Bruno Pizza

One of the standouts from a standout meal.  Pizza is in the name, but the attention to detail spreads throughout.  Eggplant and Shishitos come with this mild black cashew paste that transforms this dish, like a fairytale.

Bruno Pizza EggplantMission Chinese Chicken Fingers at Fuku+

Momofuku and Mission, a marriage made in heaven.  As much as I love high spice and heat levels, I find the Mission Chinese wings a bit too intense.  But applying the seasoning to the meaty boneless Fuku chicken is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.  Pair it with the mini Fuku sandwich for a nice fiery lunch

Mission Chinese Choicken Fingers Fuku+Squash Carpaccio at Santina

I was all set to list the wonderful Cecina of the wonderful Santina which I must have each time.  But after the last visit, I think I have a new favorite.  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.  Get this.

Santina Squash CarpaccioBreakfast Ramen at Ivan Ramen

Take out my favorite dish (White fish turned Salmon Donburi), replace it with something like this, and I quickly forgive and forget… until you change your mind about the whole “available all day” thing.  Rich cheddary Dashi, Scallion omelette, ham, noodles, and more.  Magic in a bowl

Ivan Ramen Breakfast RamenEggs with Caviar at Ko

Picking a favorite from this meal is like Ray Lewis picking his favorite illegitimate child.  Soft scrambled eggs with Osetra caviar and breadcrumb-like fried potatoes, with homemade bread and radish butter. Like breakfast at Putin’s!

Momofuku Ko eggsPastrami Rubbed Rib Eye at Khe-Yo

Lets first clarify a few things, and please dont shoot the messenger.  There’s no pastrami, and there’s really no steak here.  The steak is a rare special, but can be found at sister American Cut, and we are talking about pastrami spices, not actual pastrami doing its best bacon impersonation.  Steak of the year!

Courtesy of Zagat

Courtesy of Zagat

Truffle Seafood Broth at Oiji

Mussels, Shrimp, two Crispy Rice “Sheets” that sizzle when the broth is poured table side.  But its all about the beautiful, dark, rich broth that makes this a winner.  Just a small hint of truffle, perhaps not enough to be part of the name, but just enough to round up the perfect broth

Oiji Truffle Seafood BrothArctic Bird’s Nest at Aquavit

Perhaps the most instagrammed dessert on the planet.  The more I learn about Scandinavian chefs (see Chef’s Table on Netflix) the more I understand the motivation.  A masterpiece!

Happy New Year! 😉

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Why Di Palo’s is my Favorite Food Store in NYC

Ziggy’s first book review. Best dishes of 2015 coming up next

Eating With Ziggy


January 26, 2016 Update:

My absolute favorite thing to do while on vacation is, you guessed it, eat.  And my second favorite thing is to read about what I’m going to eat on my next vacation.  Instead of reading a book about Sicily, I opted to read Lou Di Palo’s wonderful Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy, hoping to get some useful tips on my next destination.  I got that and then some.  It was especially great reading about the history of the store, and the stories, moving stories, about Lou’s life and travels in Italy.

The book reaffirmed something I suspected all along.  There’s nothing like Di Palo’s in the city of NY, and maybe even in the entire USA.  After just finishing the book, I cant wait stop by the store.  This time I’ll be one of the ‘jerks’ that bypasses his turn in order to be served by Lou.  I need more…

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Best Soups in Hell

Akamaru Modern Ippudo

Akamaru Modern Ippudo

Winter is here in beautiful Hell’s Kitchen.  The sky is blue, the birds are chirping, and the cabbies are singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” and other West Side Story tunes.  That’s what it feels like after you have any of those soups below on a cold NY day.  Let me put this another way… I’m not a soup person.  It rarely excites me, and I would never go out of my way for decent soup.  So for me to write about soup, it must be something special.  This post is 15 years in the making really, and none of these are your average homemade Ratatouille moment grandma soups.  For that I recommend grandma!  (although I will touch on some of those at the end)

Caldo de Bola at Nano – Perhaps I should have added to the above “Unless your Grandma is Ecuadorian”.  A tiny Eucadorian hole in the wall on 10th serves this traditional thing of beauty.  Rich, beefy broth with veggies, beef, corn on the cob, yes corn on the cob which is probably the least interesting item in there.  The most is a giant plantain dumpling with all sorts of awesome deliciousness inside… more beef, raisins, egg and peanut sauce.  Sounds bizarre, but it works

Caldo de Bola at NanoSpicy Ramen at Totto – Home to Ziggy’s first and coincidentally last Ramen, with about 100 in between.  Delicious Chicken Paitan broth topped with spicy sesame oil and your choice of chicken or pork belly (I’ve never had the chicken, always pork).  I like to sit at the counter at the 51st/10th location where you can also get some apps like Spicy Tuna Don at half price with your ramen (lunch time only I believe).  Cash only.

Totto Spicy RamenSukhothai Pork Noodles Soup at Pure Thai Cookhouse– While its hard for me to stay away from the rest of the menu normally, during frozen tundra times, this is the dish of choice.  A clean but tangy pork broth with rice noodles, sweet sliced roasted pork, long bean, bean sprout, peanuts, dried shrimp, ground pork, and if thats not enough, topped with pork cracklings.  Yes, its busy, YES its delicious.  Skip the option to upgrade to the homemade egg noodles and stick to tradition.  TRADITION!

Pure Thai SukhothaiShanghai Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup at Mooncake Foods.  Calling this Wonton soup is almost criminal.  Whether you generally like Wonton soups or normally pass on them at your neighborhood Chinese takeout in favor of the hot & sour, is irrelevant.  Pure, clean chicken broth with a generous amount of fantastically meaty dumplings, and noodles (extra).  Perhaps the best cure for the common cold in the hood.

Mooncake Foods Wonton soupAkamaru Modern at Ippudo.  I’ve exchanged eye pleasantries and perhaps tasted a spoon or two, but after a dozen or so visits, I’ve never actually had Ramen at Ippudo that’s not called Akamaru Modern, mainly out of fear.  I’ve made it this far, waited this long, not settling for potentially second best.  This porky Tonkotsu Ramen with a secret umami paste transforms ramen as we know it.  A game changer.  While Totto is my quick ramen fix, this one is where I would bring a wife, or a date

Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – I’ve already written about this one in great length.  Forget winter!  This is the official cure to summer time sadness.

Pam Real Oxtail Soup

The RestIndie Fresh at Gotham West Market got unusual and healthy soups like Borscht that can even make a Babushka blush… a rather shy Babushka.  When I’m in the mood for something simple like white bean or split pea soup I head to my friend Anna at Café Ole.  Sometimes when I feel naughty, I get Ezra’s terrific split pea with my falafel at Azuri CaféMocu Mocu serves a most unusual Miso with white bean and Sausage.  RIP Bis.Co.Latte, and Holly’s amazing soups

Mocu Mocu Miso

Mocu Mocu Miso

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Hanjan – Plan B Gets an A

House of Hao’s

It was one of those wildly premature excitements we experienced when we pulled over at 8 pm Saturday in front of 2 week old Nishi.  No line, on the worst time possible to visit the hottest restaurant on the east coast right now.  “Its gonna be about 10 or so” he says, “Oh, 10 minutes?  thats great” “No, I mean we can sit you at 10!  But its most likely gonna be 10:30”.  They just began a texting service… well whoop dee freakin doo.  Thats about 90 minutes more than I’m willing to wait with a kid.  Strong plan B it is.

Something tells me the great Hooni Kim doesnt mind the plan B tag here considering plan A was the latest David Chang (Momofuku) venture that is taking the city by the Chaloopas.  To give you an idea, the buzz on Nishi started before there was even any sign of a Nishi or anything else really.  No one knew what its gonna be.  The buzz started when Momofuku took on a lease on the space in Chelsea.  Z-List winner Jun-Men Ramen was another plan B contender since Mrs Ziggy still hasnt been (I’ve been 4 times).  But after flirting with Danji about a dozen times, I figured it was time to check out its younger sister, who coincidentally also keeps her goodies in her drawers!Hanjan

Hanjan, albeit newer, is more rustic and casual than Danji.  Communal table in the middle flanked by rows of individual tables with semi comfortable couches (chairs are more comfy), with dim lighting (I think its about time restaurants create blogger/vision impaired spots with ample lighting) contribute to the fun vibe.  As with Danji, the focus is on locally sourced, sustainable seasonal ingredients from local farms.  As I’ve been saying for a while, Farm-to-Table is a funny concept considering there are so many places doing the same thing but not billing themselves as such.  Any good ingredient driven establishment like Danji, Hanjan, and many all over town are essentially Farm-to-Table.  But I have zero issues with those places like The Marshal that call themselves as such to separate from the competitors nearby

Hanjan DumplingsStarted this one with a bang.  Kim’s take on Ddukbokki, Spicy Rice cake w. Pork Fat and fishcakes.  I thought I’ve had all the various shapes and textures of Korean/Chinese rice cakes but I guess I was wrong.  This one was “meatier”, chewier texture smothered with that classic intense Korean hot, sour, sweet chili sauce.  Very good and Mrs Z, and youngest favorite of the night, though I still prefer the Gnocchi like porkiness of Ssam Bar which is in a league of its own (yet another disagreement with these guys).  Pork and shrimp fried dumplings tasted much better than they looked.  Spicy Chicken Thigh Skewers were good if not slightly overcooked (slightly).  Hanjan gets its chicken from a top Brooklyn purveyor, freshly killed over the last 24 hours, so never frozen.

BBQ Wagyu Short Rib comes as part of a Ssam set of goodies was a high quality, nicely marbled piece of meat.  Good, but not particularly as memorable as the next dish.  Long time EWZ historians know how fond I am of a nicely constructed fried rice dish, and this was one of the best I’ve had in NYC.  Kimchi & Beef Brisket Fried Rice with a fried egg delivered big time flavors with nice socarrat action. The key here was little crunchy cubes of Kimchi pickled Daikon (Korean radish) that tied all the flavors together.

36 W 26th St
Reccommended Dishes: Rice Cakes, Dumplings, Short Rib, Fried Rice

Hanjan Rice Cakes Hanjan Skewers





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A Week in Anguilla

IMG_7600Oh Anguilla, AngWilla, what took yer so long to call my name.  I was more than Willa! to check ya out Anguilla, oh yeah!  Ok, I don’t know what it means about my musical writing abilities but whenever I try to write something, I sound like sir Justin Bieber….who visited Anguilla a week ago or so btw.  I’m jealous of Justin I must say.  The dude is 21, and goes to Anguila on a whim, just like that.  While I needed about 21 years to get convinced.  “The beaches are not better than TCI”, “you need a full day of suffering to get there”, “you need to take a high speed ferry where even the seagulls throw up”.  Turns out all the motivation I needed is United Airlines making it much tougher to get to TCI these days.

Anywho, let me tell you about Anguilla.  But instead of boring you with a bunch restaurant reviews this time, I will bore you with a giant post about everything and anything Anguilla.  Its the Everything Bagel of trip reports!  Or something like that…

Getting there

I think the notion that one gets over time about the complexities of travelling to this island makes it seem more complicated than it actually is.  Getting off the plane in St. Martin you are faced with a bunny ranch like lineup of high speed semi-private ferry representatives trying to lure you into their service… a $65 ride straight from the airport (a 5 minute ride to the docks) with the caveat that you need to reserve in advance (giving CC info online) or risk a full boat.  The most popular and cheaper option however is a $20 public ferry ride which leaves at the same frequency as the privates, but requires a $20 taxi ride to Marigot that could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on traffic (I always thought this ride is much longer).  We opted for the public ferry there and back, and will do so again next time.  Hard for me to justify the costs and efforts of the other options, especially considering we got to Anguilla before everyone else.  If this would have been Amazing Race, we would have kicked some serious tuches.  There’s also the air travel option between the islands which we briefly considered.IMG_7674


You need a car here.  Sure you can manage without one, but in order to take advantage of what the island has to offer, a car is necessary.  Although many people happily do so, this is not the place to linger at the same place for a week like in Provo.  Ronnie Bryan, a local celebrity, makes the entire rental process as smooth as can be through Bryan Car Rental.  Pay from home securely via email, pick up car at the ferry terminal, drop the car at the ferry terminal.  Other than driving to the great Hibernia for lunch, a map was not needed for us.  Fairly easy to get around!


Since Turks spoiled us big time with one of the best beaches in the world, this was not the time to settle.  But we sort of did, but in a good way.  Shoal Bay East is arguably Anguilla’s best beach.  But besides a few shacks and some dining options there’s not a whole lot going on there dining wise, which is not necessarily a bad thing for many.  Meads Bay was the perfect match for us.  Although one of the busiest beaches (relatively speaking), flanked by two behemoth resorts (Viceroy, Malliouhana) we found it quite serene and underdeveloped enough, with the water spectacular at times.  Not to mention close to many dining options.  Then you have the option of Maundays Bay, aka Cap Juluca-ville where the serenity level takes on another meaning.  You can request a tour of Cap Juluca while you there, and enjoy the beach by its main building.  Or you can Rendezvous at Rendezvous Bay with a visit to the world  famous Garvey’s Sunshine Shack.  The shack alone is worth going.  The most underrated beach however is perhaps Shoal Bay West.  Tranquil, green, with some interesting wildlife around to boot on arrival.  There are some more beaches, but I believe I covered the best ones.  This is why you need to rent a car here.IMG_7599


With one hotel stay under my belt, I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert.  I dont quite get the bloggers who write about a destination like a travel concierge, even though they’ve just been there for four days.  But here’s what I know.  Shoal Bay Villas is the popular option on the east end as far affordable accommodations go, while on Meads you have Turtle’s Nest (with actual turtles acting as security) and Carimar showing exceptional value.  The latter is the better looking building, but the former has a slightly better beach front.  The newly refurbished Rendezvous Bay Hotel on Rendezvous Bay is gaining a lot of traction on the boards as of late.  Then you have the Viceroy and Malliouhana, the behemoths flanking Meads Bay where I would personally not consider staying, but visit for a drink instead (Viceroy owns the best sunsets).  For more intimate feel, there’s the world famous Cap Juluca, and to a lesser degree CuisinArt.  Frangipani was a good match for us.  Small, personable, attractive, even sexy (which is why we felt at home!) boutique hotel smack in the middle of Meads.IMG_7614


This is where things get interesting.  We knew Anguilla has good food, but research elevated expectations even more (“Some of the best in the Caribbean”).  I’ve already discussed some here, and here, and listed my favorite dishes here.   While the end result was a successful one, the trip needed a proper finish in order to call it as such.  There were some misses early on, but for the purpose of this post and the possibilities of the often off days, I will only touch on the highlights.

Sarjai’s – This turned out to be the best of the “Local” spots we tried.  Not much of an atmosphere but the food more than makes up for it.  Try the Creole Snapper with the addictive coconut sweet potato dumplings, or the scrumptious stewed goat.  The crayfish here were the best of the trip.  And while I didnt have it, the steak is an award winner.

Blanchard Beach Shack – One of many beach shacks on the island.  Order, pick a picnic table and enjoy the marvelous views with your pager.  Although they have various items on the menu, this is a nice choice for a healthier “fast food” type lunch.  Try the Rice bowl with shrimp or Mahi.IMG_7619

Dolce Vita – Possibly the best Italian on the island, though it helps if owner Abbi is there to guide you with your order.  The Gnocchi Gorgonzola and the Lasagna are the specialties.  The latter is actually the reason for opening a restaurant in the first place.

Johnno’s – One of the coolest things about Anguilla is its music scene, especially on Sunday (“Funday”) afternoon.  And deciding where to go on each Funday is not easy.  But beating this venue with this musical lineup and the steamed snapper with Fungi combination at Johnno’s I imagine is not so easy.  Note we only had one item here to eat, and it was that good.

Sunshine shack – The definition of a beach shack.  You got the reggae, the beach (Rendezvous Bay), the man (Garvey), the grill, what else do you need.  An absolute must!

IMG_7797Jacala’s – One of the biggest gems of the trip.  Two Frenchmen, one in the kitchen, one on the floor, making all sorts of magic right on the beach.  Its open for lunch, but I wouldn’t miss dinner.  Great soups, heavenly Tuna Tartare, Risotto like no other (nice middle course to share).  Table side prepared Steak tartare is oddly a main course but very popular.  Not to mention the chicken of dreams, and the Panna Cotta.  Go!

B&D’s BBQ – Essentially a popup on the side of the road.  Very solid BBQ.. chicken, ribs, lobster, snapper, all served with Johnny cakes and sides. The slaw in particular was noteworthy.  Very popular with the locals, and even restaurant owners (Tasty’s below) which is a big endorsement

Straw Hat – Great drinks, beautiful setting overlooking Meads.  Nice Lobster Mac & Cheese, fish sandwich, tuna flatbread (in that order).  Since we stayed next door, we spent most of our breakfasts here.  And after cheating on a few other places, we concluded there’s no point to go anywhere else really.


Tasty’s – Quite a Tasty local spot by one of the islands best ambassadors, Dale Carty who is sent on critical missions oversees to promote island food from time to time.  The signature item is the magnificent seafood salad.  Other than a rather robbery lobster, everything was quite good here

Mango’s – I normally like to keep one night open and let the island sort of guide me to the right place.  Based on conversations with locals, Trips Advisor forumites, and even local cooks, it became clear that Mango’s got the freshest fish on the island.  You approach this one like you approach a Trattoria in Italy.  Go with whats’s fresh, and what’s on special.  Best snapper of the trip

Hibernia – If you are a foodie, and for some crazy, bizarre reason you’ve come to trust good ol’ Ziggy over the years…  Go to Hibernia for lunch!

Stay hungry my friends!

IMG_7692 IMG_7718 IMG_7802 IMG_7863 Anguilla Hibernia 2



Categories: Anguilla | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Anguilla – Top Seven Dishes


It wasnt easy this time to come up with 7, so I included a bonus dish.  You can find it on the excellent Anguilla-Beaches site which is as official as it can get for the island’s site.

Also, much respect and love to the one and only Ziggy, Ziggy Stardust.  RIP!  You will never be forgotten

Categories: Anguilla | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lupulo – A Taste of Lisboa in… Chachkitown?

A less than “hoppy” update on Lupulo…

Eating With Ziggy


January 7, 2016 Update:

Sorry to say I’m not as enthusiastic about Lupulo after a recent visit.  The place may still be a fun spot to grab a beer and perhaps some Piri Piri chicken, but the food is way too hit or miss and pricier than it should be.  Also for a Saturday night I would expect it to be much busier.

A special of snails in garlicky sauce was bland and uneventful.  The dry snails were impenetrable and could have used some French mastery perhaps.  Shrimp Porridge with two perfectly cooked shrimp was quite good.  No complaints about the shrimp turnovers either.  Manilla clams and Brussels Sprouts were fairly forgettable.  The one big miss was a lamb leg that was under-cooked while lacking any distinct flavors, accompanied by far (good) and some pickled veggies that didnt quite belong.  The Frango chicken with Piri Piri sauce was still good.  Nice and…

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Most Memorable Meals of 2015

Pulker's Heuriger Feast

Pulker’s Heuriger

And just like that, its over Johnny.  2015 was yet another year of great eats, great drinks, and yes great chicken wings.  I’m grateful!  Grateful for living in the greatest food city in the world.  Grateful for living with someone who not only supports this addiction but also willing to sleep with that thing.  Grateful for the kids who will eat anything as long as its not made by mom and dad.  Grateful for the friends and family.  What will 2016 bring?  Sicily!  Other than that who knows.  Most likely more chicken wings.  Here are the most memorable meals of 2016…

Momofuku Ko (NYC) – Quite possibly the best meal we ever had in NYC was at this new Ko 2.0 location.  An 18 courser, counter sitting, feast for all senses extravaganza.  Perhaps the best, most unique dining experience NY has to offer at the moment

Momofuku Ko Venison

Bruno Pizza (NYC) – The best meal with the most unassuming name.  While there wasnt anything earth shattering food wise, the entire meal from start to finish was just brilliant.  And before Danny Meyer made the news with his no tipping policy, there was Bruno implementing its own spin on the controversy.

Bruno Pizza Eggplant

Aquavit (NYC) – Emma Bengtsson’s Chef’s tasting menu is quite possibly the most underrated tasting menu in town.  The kicker here is that not only you are presented with tasty opulence coming out one after another, but you also got the anticipation and the arrival of one of the most Instagrammed desserts on the planet

Aquavit sorbet

Caicos Cafe (Turks and Caicos) – An odd mention considering we’ve been here over a dozen times, but still very much memorable in my mind.  Two meals on every visit is our ritual these days, and both meals this past year featured all our favorites and then some. It just gets better and better.

Caicos Cafe - Tagliolini

La Taqueria (SF) – Strange for me to choose this one over the great meals we had at Cockscomb and NOPA.  But this rather hectic light lunch was the one that gave me food envy like no other.  I’ve been eating tacos and burritos for many years, but the carnitas tacos and Carne Asada Burrito here was like eating this stuff for the very first time.  Cliche, but true.

La Taqueria food

Pulker’s Heuriger (Rührsdorf, Austria) – Our first foray into the Austrian Heuriger scene was memorable to say the least.  A wine grower’s wine tavern that serves menuless, fresh, local homemade food.  This one is right by the Danube, in the picturesque Wachau Valley.  This is why you rent a car

Pulker's Heuriger

Hibernia (Anguilla) – Still fresh in our minds, we are still awestruck by this one.  A 30 minute drive East brings you to this foodie paradise.  Brilliantly executed Asian inspired food with a French flair in an absolute stunner of a setting, surrounded by essentially an art gallery.  A dining experience like no other

Anguilla Hibernia Smoked Trio

Categories: Anguilla, Austria/Czech Republic, California, New York City, Turks and Caicos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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