Monthly Archives: May 2016

Marta – Roman Rule, Stage 2

Marta Marta Marta…

Eating With Ziggy

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Update 5/30/16:

4-5 trips since the last update and a lot more awesomeness out of Marta to compensate for the dubious title (I must have just watched Gladiator for the 100th time).  The Carbonara pie is just about my favorite pie in NYC at the moment, though recently I also discovered the Mushroom pie that does it for me.  Rabbit meatballs was replaced by chicken but you hardly notice a difference.  Get the grilled chicken people.  Some of the most tender, gorgeously brined birds out there.  The Suppli Cacio e Pepe (there he goes again with the C&P) carry a lot of punch.  Took friends here last night and Marta Marta Marta delivered yet again.

Update 9/28/14:

Two more fantastic meals at Marta.  Patate Alla Gricia – Good amount of potato with Guanciale, Pecorino, Black Pepper, and egg which was a supplement at that time.  The Gricia was later replaced with Patate Alla Carbonara…

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The Seven Stars Survival Guide

Update to SS guide. More food, more pictures, more awesomeness…

Eating With Ziggy

Seven Stars view

Updated May 28, 2016 (after visit #12)

So you decided to book the Seven Stars in Turks and Caicos.  Mazal Tov!!  And now what?  Not quite sure what to do?  Got that deer in headlights look after all those All Inclusive trips?  Time to change that to Raccoon in fresh Indian leftover garbage can look.  Or something like that.. you know what I mean.  Here are some tips that should enhance your stay.  Some of these are my own opinions by the way so save the hate mail and voodoo.  I occasionally have friends and family stay here so I’m partially doing this to save time writing stuff for them.

Airport – first things first, get your island reading material.  After customs, go straight to the stand on your left to pick your free copy of the Where When How Magazine and Dining Guide.  Dont be surprised to see my…

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Lilia – Cacio e Perfect!

Lilia Agnolotti

February 23rd, 2018 Update:

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.  Its been 643 days since my last meal at Lilia.  Its just that it continues to be one of the toughest tables in Brooklyn.  You either need to have friends in high places, or low places.  Or just call at 10 am when they open 30 days out.  Thats the biggest tip I can give you on this update.  10 am!  Not 10:01, not 9:58.  10!  Its imperative that you try the simple brilliance of Missy Robbins, and do it soon.

Add the Fettuccine to the list of classics.  Robbins uses a thin but potent Tomato Passato with spicy lamb sausage and Fennel seeds.  After the initial palate shock, it settles down into one heck of a “Red Sauce” dish.  Another new hit for me is a starter of Roasted Trumpet Mushrooms, rocket, balsamic, and Sicilian almonds (the best almonds on the planet).  Rocket?  Yes, I said, Rocket.  We are apparently the only country in the world that calls it Arugula.  Lilia gets 3 very solid Z’s.

May 24th, 2016 Post:

This burg has changed.  30 years ago, when I was a young shy boy-man growing in Brooklyn, Williamsburg was the place I used to go to fix my car.  The immediate area around Lilia, including the building that houses Lilia, was like one giant Auto Shop extravaganza.  Since I grew up poor, my first cars used to break often, and so were my visits to North Williamsburg.  Sometimes I would even need a little push on the BQE to make it to my destination.  Oh the good ol’ days.  There was no other reason to go to the area until we discovered Sea, the cheap, clubby Thai temple that is still going strong today.  My Thai preferences shifted as I got older, but Sea was the place where we could have fun as a group, and still save for those car mechanics.

Fast forward to 2016, my auto shop is now a bank, and the area overall has clearly, how do you say, gentrified? (a little Top Secret humor).  Gentrification, a term every New Yorker learns at some point.  Like when you discover the last remaining $1 dumplings place in your neighborhood has closed, or when grandpa announces during Thanksgiving dinner that he can no longer receive happy ending at his salon.  Now we travel to North Williamsburg as a family for pizza, Maine seafood, and Cacio e Pepe renditions that puts some of the neighboring borough great Cacios to shame.Lilia Cauliflower

Lilia delivered the type of meal that almost makes you want to move to Williamsburg (Parking, and lack of reliable auto shops stand in the way).  Although my team of critics and I had to wait a month to score a table (damn you Hot Lists and all your informative wisdom), the initial feeling upon enetering is that of a comfortable neighborhood spot where you just want to hang on a Sunday night.  Roomy, bright, high beam ceilings, and did I mention roomy?  A luxury these days in North Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Even when you consider the number of employees almost match the number of diners, no one is on top of you, and the space makes you want to get up and run around, with scissors, naked (I’m seeing someone about that)

Lilia Bagna càudaThe menu reads like a beautiful mashup of Italian and Dr. Seuss.  There was pasta, meat, veggies, little fish, big fish.  Or perhaps the ultra talented Missy Robbins is a PJ Harvey fan (She wasnt there to ask).  The punchy Cacio e Pepe Fritelle, from the cocktail snack section, is a must get starter.  Little fried balls of awesomeness.  The Bagna Cauda, a Piedmont specialty of veggies you dip in an anchovy garlic sauce was like the Best of Union Square Market album.  I would order this just for Robbins’ ability to pick the finest of the bunch.  Then there was this perfectly cooked Cauliflower with hints of Spicy Soppressata, Sicilian Pesto.  If there are trends all over town these days, Cauliflower and Cacio e Pepe are right up there.

The pastas here are so good, that by the end of the meal you find yourself playing “lets rank the pastas” with your neighbors.  I won!  The yellowest, longest, most beautiful, straight from an orthopedic pillow infomercial, Agnolotti, filled with Sheeps Milk cheese, and finished with butter, saffron, honey, and much needed acid from dried tomato that completes the dish.  At most places this would be #1.  Here its #3 from the three we tried.  The ‘imperfect’ Malfadini looked and tasted pretty perfect to me.  Take your average Cacio e Pepe, change the pasta to something with more texture, sharper cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, and pink peppercorns, and you essentially got Cacio e Pepe on crack cocaine.  And then comes the tomato-less Pappardelle with veal and porcini ragu.  Quite a contrast and an upgrade over other such ragus all over town, one of which by Via Carota I’ve had days earlier.  What a difference.  Its all about the slow braised meat and its juices, reminiscent of the Ostera Morini meatless Stracci with mushrooms.

Lilia MalfadiniNormally after a start like this, secondis rarely wow.  They wowed here, but not without some quibbling.  A veal steak, far from your average veal, was cooked to pink perfection with plenty of flavor to boot from the Serrano peppers, herbs, lime and the rest of it.  The size was certainly there, but what was missing considering the previous dishes, and the price (almost $30, forget exactly) was at least one more vegetable.  The magnificent Black Bass with Salsa Verde, on the other hand, came on top a roasted potato, but was missing more bass.  Minor quibbles when considering the entire meal.

Missy Robbins was Barack Obama’s favorite chef in Chicago before he became president.  With a name like that its surprising to learn that Lilia is her first owned restaurant.  While I need another visit or two to make it official, Lilia is a top 3 Italian, and a shoe in for the Z-List.  Mazal Tov 😉

567 Union Ave, Brooklyn
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Fritelle, Bagna Cauda, Mushroom, All pastas, Veal, BassLilia Frittelle Lilia Pappardelle Lilia Veal Lilia Black BassLilia


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Why I Like to Take Groups to Da Andrea

This was a good eating weekend that included old faves Da Andrea and The NoMad. While its not on the Z-List, Da Andrea continues to be my most frequented place mainly for the reasons stated below. While I wouldnt take foodies there these days, I cant think of another place in NYC I’d rather take friends or a large group. They dont make em like this anymore…

Eating With Ziggy

Da Andrea TigelleWhat is your favorite Italian?  The most confusing, challenging subject since sex education in High School.  Not only I don’t really know, but I also don’t have a clue what is your definition of “Italian”.  Italian can mean 21 different things, for the 21 very different regions including the Italian region of Staten Island.  It could also be a steakhouse (Costata), a pizza joint (Marta, Don Antonio), or a fusiony place like Piora.  Many of the so called “Italian” dont really have much in common.  In fact whenever we talk to Italian chefs in Italy about what they do and where they eat in NYC, they often mention Italian restaurants.  Because to a chef from Piedmont, a Roman restaurant may be just as foreign as Korean.  Ok, maybe not.  But to them there’s no such thing as Italian restaurants.  They are just restaurants.

But if you would ask me which of our so called Italian…

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Provo – Food for Thought 2016

Somewhere Fajitas

Somewhere Fish Fajitas

Our latest food adventure on our favorite home away from home.  I didnt take too many pictures, and on some evenings at the regular spots I didnt even take my camera (it felt like its time).  But this was yet another fun trip, with good food for the most part.  To some of the regulars these mentions may become tiresome, but I did have enough new dishes at most that moved me (yes moved)

Sweet T’s – Our new regular first stop driving from the airport.  $6 chicken (12 pieces), $2 fries, $2 drinks, eating the chicken in the car while ducking every time a Grace Bay Rental employee shows up, priceless!

Caicos Cafe – The prerequisite double meal at Caicos Cafe.  A lot of changes on the menu since the last visit not surprisingly (knowing chef “Mad” Max).  Old fave Tagliolini got a tan.  It’s now a sweeter tasting pasta by way of the squid ink.  Grilled Calamari and the Gnocchi are a must get from day one, while the fall off the fork ribs are heading to that direction as well.  On the second visit I “Scarpetta’d” the shi&$t out of the calamari plate with their homemade bread, to the point of an unrecognized spotless clean dish.  Grouper, when on the board, you will not find a better preparation on the island.  Loved the conch and grouper chowder this time.  Goat cheese with butternut salad in a pastry was perhaps the best new app discovery.

Mad Max also does a decent steak.  Peppercorn expectedly not as creamy as Le Bouchon, but more peppery.  Good ol’ Orrechiette (aka Mike Tyson’s fave) has finally been replaced by Pacheri, large rolled tube shape, when unrolled they are like Pappardelle with balls.  But it’s more like a crazy salad than pasta, fully loaded with peppers, sausages, zucchini, a cold small mozzarella ball in the center, and more.  Gorgeous dish.  Had a nice semi dry white from Naples – forgot the name of the grape, not something I heard of before.  That’s one region we haven’t explored yet.  Iced mousse with chocolate and coconut mousse, like the island version of Semifreddo.  The lone miss this time was the grouper ravioli, but I’m not a fan of fish ravioli to begin with

Caravel – This is one of my favorite newish local spots.  We had a nice lunch here two months after they opened, and now back for dinner.  They are no longer open for lunch after they realized they are not on the water!  Very welcoming, and comfortable from the friendly husband, wife, and friends team.  The soups here are very strong, particularly the white chowder.  Good blackened snapper, while jerk pork loin less successful.  But the star here again were those unusual fried fish tacos.  I would love to see more Caribbean specialties on the menu, like goat and oxtail.  Owner cooked at Amanyara, Mr Grouper’s, Fresh Catch and finally now his very own restaurant, but something tells me he has more tricks up his sleeveIMG_8254

Hemingways – We had fish tacos at 4 different places on this trip including the famous Somewhere, and to me the Hemingway’s tacos are still the ones to beat.  Perfectly flaky, nicely seasoned grouper with a nice tang from the mango salsa.  Same goes for the fish & chips, a must for us on every visit.  Hemingway’s was our first meal in TCI 10 years ago, and still going strong.  Hard to beat this setting for lunch

Julien’s Deli – Stop by before the flight (give it some time) got sandwiches and leave it to Julien, your Le Bouchon host, to make your return flight easier.  You will have the best food on the plane

Le Bouchon TunaLe Bouchon – I saw an ad on the bus today for Jimmy Kimmel for Vice President, “A good, solid #2”.  This is essentially Le Bouchon for me, though they can be easily #1 if they feel like it.  This is the only none ‘local’ place on the island where locals and expats outnumber visitors.  Tuna tartar, nothing short of spectacular, as only the French can do.  Escargot, now that the kids are obsessed with escargot (seriously I’m raising freaks) we should start getting two of those.  Lets just say I enjoyed the bread :-(.   The head cheese-like Octopus Carpaccio… angels singing.  Get this.  The now legendary Steak au Poivre is still the steak to beat.  Two perfectly seared scallops on creamy saffron risotto was on point.  A beautifully done yellowfin tuna (left), so light and flavorful (once you add the sauce).  Perhaps the best LB meal to date.

Conch Shack – We forgot how much fun this place can be.  And the food here is good enough to make it a regular again.  Conch rules much of the menu, but make sure to get the jerk wings with the homemade sauce.  The sauce is one of those sauces that make you dip anything and everything in it.  Peas, rice, beans, fingers, car keys, it’s all good.  The blackened fish make-yourself tacos are fine.  Basic conch salad.  And Conch Creole was like the homey tomato based stew your grandma would make if she was into conch (like the coolest grandma ever).  You cant get a better setting, and “welcome to provo” than this

Conch Shack Wings

Vix – New management, new chef, new menu, new mediocrity?  The place and flavors just did not come through for us.  The frozen packaged tasting gnocchi looked better on the menu than on the plate.  The very basic Caesar salad can use some tips from Mark from Lupo nearby.  The spicy Pasta Rusta’s heat was the only thing you taste after a few bites.  Just pure senseless heat.  Lamb Shank was fall off the bone alright but became boring in a hurry.  The snapper, cooked creole style was the saving grace.  One and dont!

Bugaloos – Another regular stop.  Conch salad is noticeably fresher here, though its not so much freshness, but who chops it fresh for each order.  A misunderstanding that we could have corrected but chose not to, left us with a mammoth $85 snapper that we all shared and couldn’t finish.  They got the freshest snappers, and other than the broth a little saltier this time, we enjoyed this again.  Coconut cracked conch is fine, much prefer the raw goodness.  “Service can be slow at time” is becoming the norm, but who cares.IMG_8327

Bella Luna Pizza – Stayed in one night to watch Hockey playoffs (the only thing I like more than food).  Thin, underdone, soggy,  super cheesy, desperate need for seasoning, but other than that, we loved it!

Simone’s – Considering this is the first place I wrote about when we came back, yes we liked this newcomer quite a bit.  It wasnt perfect, but very very promising.

Infiniti Bar – This is becoming a favorite for pre-dinner drinks, and sunset.  The drinks are good, and they give you popcorn!

Somewhere – Infamous fish tacos were much better this time, so I’m finally on board.  But something tells me the best thing on the menu is the the fish fajitas especially when they have fresh snapper.  Our friends ordered it, and it looked and smelled amazing.  Ex-friends I should say, since they didnt offer me any!

Seaside – As long as Francois is at the helm, I’ll continue to come.  But out of my favorites, I have the lowest confidence when recommending Seaside, mainly because it doesnt have much of an atmosphere.  Blackened Mahi was nicely cooked.  Not the biggest mahi fan, but this one worked.  A nice new addition to the menu is the excellent open faced ravioli with bay scallops, conch, shrimp, mahi, some truffle oil and mushrooms.  The elusive “South American” (aka Peruvian) conch salad, still the best conch salad on the island.

Seaside Mahi


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Bike, Eat, See NYC

IMG_8095Well, Manhattan at least.  With a little bit of Brooklyn.  A couple of people asked me to write something like this, but classic me, went a little bit overboard.  Pretty sure I got finger tendinitis.

This is a fun and safe way to spend a day in the city, for locals and tourists alike.  All you need is $10 and a dream (a little lotto humor).  The $10 is for a 24 hour Citibike pass you can purchase at any Citibike station.  The dream is the dream you’ve been carrying with you ever since you’ve seen Home Alone as a young Glasgow lad.  There’s only one little catch about those little blue bikes that many tourists miss somehow.  You need to return them every 30 minutes.  Even if it means getting a new code, and getting the same bike back right away (though new rule may require 2 minutes wait).  This itinerary is devised to accommodate this, however if you miss your 30 minutes on a particular ride, you will only get charged $4 extra.  Its keeping the bikes for much longer that could prove costly

I’ve been biking all over Manhattan and Brooklyn since the bike sharing program started, and I’m fairly familiar with all the danger involved, especially for folks unfamiliar with the city or any large city.  Our bike system has improved by leaps and bounds over the years, but its not there yet.  This is a relatively safe route that covers some of our best parks, and the west side of the island.  I was tempted to include some of the east side as well but that side isnt as ‘connected’ as the west, and could prove challenging for some.  Even the bridge I chose is a relatively safe one as far as getting in and out.  Contrary to what you may think, I do care about my readers.  But, I will also touch on the fun alternatives for the less novice.

You can obviously make whatever you want with this, but if you follow the entire plan, it will take much of the day if not all of it.  There’s relaxation time, fun bathroom breaks, and great, wonderful food.  The food options are fairly diverse to accommodate a wide range of tastes, but I will touch on alternatives in each stop.  The tour starts on Columbus Circle and ends in Hell’s Kitchen on 9th and 44th

The color coded map that took me two days to manufacture is at the bottom.  A Citibike app that will show you bike availability in real time will be useful.  Also pay attention to stations that are full when returning a bike.  Try to start before 9 if you can, and take it slow, this is not Amazing Race.  Stay hungry, stay safe, and most importantly, stay hungry!  Here we go…IMG_3151

Start in Columbus Circle, and get your 24 hour pass from any of the stations nearby.

Walk the bike to the main road of Central Park and turn right.  Within minutes you will find yourself racing other bikers in the every morning Tour de Park.  Making this short loop is not the best way to see the park obviously, but its one of my favorite morning rides.  Unless you take lots of photos by Bethesda Fountain and Strawberry Fields, this loop around should take you about 10 minutes.  If you opt to spend a lot of time to take pictures, get a new bike on Broadway and 60th.

Cross the street to Broadway/60th, head west on 60th, and turn left on Columbus (9th ave).  If its Wednesday or Saturday you’ll see a Farmers Market between 56/57.  Carefully turn right on 47th, and return the bike right before 10th, next to Hell’s Kitchen Park, the most popular park among families in HK.  If by now this is not going well, and you realized you havent ridden a bike since you were about zero, there’s Hell’s Kitchen Dental around the corner.

Walk on 47th toward 11th until you reach Sullivan Street Bakery.  This is perhaps New York’s premier Italian/Roman bakery, owned by celebrity baker/author Jim Lahey who went to Rome one day and discovered the art of baking.  When I went to Rome for the first time, I discovered the art of a Strike.  Try a Bomboloni (donut, or more like a Jewish Sofganyot), almond croissants, Canotto, or a simple focaccia, or pizza bianca with pecorino if they have.  You may see trucks outside getting ready or returning from deliveries to some of our premier Italian restaurants like Maialino, Scarpetta, and great Italian stores like Di Palo’s.Sullivan Street Bakery

Sullivan’s quality means higher prices.  A cheaper but nice alternative is The Jolly Goat Coffee on the same block.  Great latte, and even a flat white for my ozzies.

Go up to 11th and turn left.  On the next corner, you’ll see an Hell’s Kitchen institution with a twist, Landmark Tavern established in 1868.  A popular speakeasy among actors during the prohibition (3rd floor became a speakeasy).  For much of its days it was a waterfront property until the west side was expended.  Its an Irish pub, with Irish music on some days, dating back to the Westies days, the Irish gang that ruled Hell’s Kitchen in the 70’s and 80′.  All sorts of ghosts apparently reside on every floor – a confederate soldier who got stabbed and died in a bathtub, an Irish girl who died of Cholera, and actor George Raft.  Come say hello!

Hop on a bike across the street in front of Daisy May’s BBQ (best BBQ in the Hell’s Kitchen) and head west toward the Intrepid.  Cross the highway, take the mandatory selfie with the ship and head south… but before you do that, if we are still good with time, lets go the other way, North (not marked on the map) for a rather short distance.  You will pass the city’s most ambitious, craziest project, dubbed the Hell’s Kitchen Pyramid, on 57th.  This is actually my view from my office in Hell’s Kitchen.  I had no idea what it was until I read about it on a flight somewhere.  Bjarke Ingels is this Danish architect sensation, and this is his first project in NYC

Pass the floating sanitation dep’t on your left, and immediately after that you are in one of my favorite little parks in the entire city, Riverside Park South.  There’s always some public art here, and even though there’s a highway nearby, it feels kinda serene.  I like to come here early in the morning to read my emails and catch up with Kardashian news.  BTW, inside one of those little parks you need to walk your bikes.IMG_3178

Head back south.  Watch the tourists cross 42nd st, and try not to make fun of their choice of transportation.  Right before Chelsea Piers and another beautiful park near pier 63, carefully turn left on 22nd…  Park the bikes on 22nd right passed 10th.  Walk to 23rd, turn left and take the stairs up to the The High Line.  Chances are you already had The High Line in your plans, so this is a good day to do it.  Soak in the atmosphere including the art and the fake monks while walking south toward Chelsea Market, our next stop.  Try to rest those hips a little.  Tip:  Take a coin from the first fake monk you see, and pass it to the next one!

Exit the High Line on 16th st, and enter Chelsea Market from 10th.  In a city filled with food halls, as packed as the place is, there’s nothing like the Chelsea Market.  Walk around, try some Adobada tacos from Los Tacos #1, perhaps a Pastrami sandwich from Dickson’s (In preparation for this, I just had it after a year hiatus, and sadly its not the same, but the hot dogs are still good including the Mortadella dog.  Simple, but solid).  You can also try some Halvah (for free), including their homemade goat milk ice cream.  Right behind it is the future home of Dizengoff, promising to be an excellent source for Hummus and other Israeli snacks.  Might be open by the time you do this.  Or you can splurge for a Chirashi bowl at Lobster Place, or a lobster roll, or a better lobster roll at Cull & Pistol.  But for the purpose of this day, I suggest a taco or 2.  Good time as any to go to the loo here ladiesChelsea Market Los Tacos

Ok, enough with the crowds.  Time to escape.  10th and 14th there’s another blue bike with your name on it (after you get and enter the proper code that is).  We had south, but immediately north from that turn there’s Pier 57 which may look like a dump now, but its the future home of the much anticipated Anthony Bourdain market.  Turn back and go south.  On this short stretch, notice the bike/walk lane splits into 3, you need the middle lane.

You will shortly reach the West Village area and one of the nicest parks along the route.  This is where I ask you now to do something in return for all this hard work (Ahh, a catch!  but No, there’s no donations involved).  Take a selfie or a picture, or ask someone to take a picture of you by The Apple and send it to me (  The Apple, by the Hudson, and Charles st., “designed by Stephen Weiss, the late husband of world-renowned fashion designer Donna Karan, this bronze is part of his Larger than Life series and honors New York City by symbolizing the city’s heart and the core of life”.  I’m not sure at this point what I’ll do with the pictures, maybe Tweet them, put them on my site, or may even appear on a Citibike site, but it will be fun if enough people do thisIMG_3174

Turn on Christopher, and return the bike on Christopher between Greenwich and Hudson.  Walk around one of the liveliest, most expensive, fake monk free areas of NYC, West Village.  And yeah, if you need to visit Carrie Bradshaw’s House on Perry st, knock yourself out, I marked it for you.  Our food stop here is a falafel plate at Taim.  While this is not the best falafel in NYC (that honor I still give to Nish Nush), I really like this falafel plate to share.  They give you 9 small ball (try the mix), along with hummus, Israeli salad, and pita with zaatar seasoning.  Share one of those babies, complain to the cashier on their spelling of “S’chug” (they spell is S’rug, and it annoys me), and move on.

Give West Village a good hour or more.  I marked Magnolia Bakery, and Joe’s pizza as well (latter in case you are not into falafel or simply want more).  Washington Square Park means veering way East, but if you havent been and not planning to visit, this is an absolute must IMO, so I marked it as well just in case.  Back to the bike on Christopher (unless you are much closer to another location)Taim

Heading South again, you’ll be passing more parks, children playgrounds, dog playgrounds, skateboards, beautiful people, and beautiful skateboarders.  Even New Jersey will start to look beautiful.  You’ll be passing Tribeca, another great NYC neighborhood.  Turn left carefully on warren (look back before you turn and use hand signals.   You can return the bikes on Warren and Greenwich, and go up to Barnes & Noble to use their bathrooms, and browse their great Travel section just to show them that you are not just there to use their bathroom.  Although for me it always means buying a new Italy book, so these bathrooms can be very expensive.  And as per a comment from a trusted source, good place to refuel at Kaffe 1668 across on Greenwich.

Walk or bike (if you didnt stop for bathroom) on Warren toward City Hall Park and Brooklyn Bridge, our next destination.  Here’s why I chose Brooklyn Bridge over the other bridges.  Its Brooklyn Bridge!  Any questions?  Yes the other bridges are more bike friendly, and much less crowded, but BB is an icon, it yields better views, and although the other bridges are more bike friendly, BB is the easiest ride and easier to get to.  Although if its me, I’d hop on Williamsburg bridge, head to Best Pizza in Williamsburg for a slice or 3, maybe Brooklyn Brewery and head back via the same bridge.  Then get on the East River Promenade and ride it toward midtown.  At some point the views of Midtown get quite spectacular, but the bike lanes dont continue much after 20th st or so, and you’d need to ride on the streets.  Although, riding on 1st avenue is not that bad.  If my wife can do it…photo (66)

Another idea is to take Manhattan Bridge, bike to Wiliamsburg, and visit the ever changing Brooklyn Navy Yard (over 200 year old shipyard).  Much of this route is fun and bike laned

But for the purpose of this post, we are heading back west to the Hudson, and drop the bikes near Chambers (in front of Stuyvesant High School, one of our specialized high schools for the academically gifted), or if you choose to walk from City Hall Park, its not very long.  Next food stop is a doozy, a DOOZY I tell ya.  Walk to The Grand Banks on Pier 25, an old wooden schooner parked from May to October.  Indulge in some oysters, lobster roll, or anything else you feel like eating.  This is a very cool spot to just unwind, and soak in the views.  The views of downtown from pier 25 alone is reason enough to stop by

Alternatively, you also have the many options at Brookfield Place, and if you opted for a Joe’s slice instead of Taim, Nish Nush is your last chance at Falafel awesomeness.154

159And while in the area, check out the Irish Hunger Memorial, that so many visitors in that area easily overlook. – “The Memorial represents a rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage, stone walls, fallow potato fields and the flora on the north Connacht wetlands. It is both a metaphor for the Great Irish Famine and a reminder that hunger today is often the result of lack of access to land.”  Its important to know what you are looking at in this case, and read about how the famine helped shape NYC.  Ironically, this memorial was being built during the 9/11 attacks right across the highway.

Grab a bike on Chambers and head North.  Fatigue may start kicking in at this point (I’ve already hospitalized twice while writing this) so I suggest dropping the bikes on Bank (cross highway on west 11th) and relax on the lawn by the Hudson.  Maybe bringing a blanket on this day could prove handy.  Then, perhaps one last bike ride to 46th and 11 for the final food stop of the day, Gotham West Market.  Grab a burger at Genuine. Pig’s head sandwich at Cannibal, or my fave at the moment, the all day Breakfast Ramen at Ivan.  Or whatever looks good really, as long as you finish with the slated crack caramel at Ample Hills.  This is a perfect last stop to spend an hour or so.

Walk along 44th st, between 10th and 9th is one Hell’s Kitchen prettiest blocks.  Pass by the Actor’s Studio, the most famous ‘church’ in the area, and if open, Domus, my favorite concept store in the area.  Two women close each January, travel to some remote, usually third world destination, and bring back lots of interesting stuff.  Check it out


Ivan Ramen Breakfast Ramen

Ivan Ramen Breakfast Ramen






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

Stay Tuned…

Some posts are more fun than others.  Some posts mothers are bigger.. oh wait, I’m thinking of a Smith’s song.  The next post is taking me longer to write, because work, and stuff is in the way, but I think its going to be a good one, and useful for visitors and locals alike.  But to make it so, I need more time, to perfect it, and even do a little more last minute research.  Meanwhile, I leave you with a clue…


Brooklyn Spoke


Categories: New York City | 1 Comment

Provo Weight Gain Update


The latest update to How To Gain 7 Pounds in 7 Days and still look fabulous.  Without the looking fabulous part

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Simone’s (Provo) – Dishing Out the ‘True’ Fish and More

Simone's Conch Salad

February 6th, 2017 Update:

Coming to the island this time without my big boy camera felt weird but liberating.  It was also a way to say, “we are just going to our other home, and dont get overly excited anymore”.  And at that other home, one of the missions is to find the homey places where everyone knows your name and  your kids can run around naked.  As long as the food is a full notch above acceptable of course.  Simone’s is becoming that kind of place.  On our last dinner there we were the only secondary homeys there.  A bunch of locals hugging the terrace, including my favorite kind of locals, fishermen.  Two of them in fact.  Would local fishermen dine at a place serving frozen fish from Miami?  Would Urologists get Vasectomized by B grade Urologists?  That is the question one must ask.  Although on this date, as was the theme this week, Wahoo was the catch of the day, but boy was it good.  A beefy consistency as expected, without crossing the dryness line as Wahoo often does.

I would come back just for the Wahoo.  But not without the “Conch Ceviche” first which is essentially fancy for Conch Salad.  With its heaps of fresh veggies and heat, this may be the closest to Seaside’s Peruvian conch salad (RIP) today.  Here you also control your own destiny with an extra spoonful of Scotch Bonnet hidden below the lime.  The Seafood Chowder is another great one to add to the ever growing list of Island chowders.  This is a light, well balanced, full bodied white with delightful fishy notes.  The fine lobster, and curry snapper again, rounded another fine meal at this Three Queens of the resorts area.  Certainly not for those looking for full service, consistent, finer dining. Think of it as an easy going, eating at aunt Betsy type of place.  Except in this case aunt Betsy can flat out bring it.simons-wahoo

May 3rd, 2016 Post:

You can say we waited well over a year for the chef to show up.  Back in 2014, we sat at the foot of mount La Vista Azul waiting for the chef of ‘The Wave’ from the team behind Ricky’s Flamingo’s (only one member so far:  Ricky).  “She is coming, stuck in traffic”.  where is this traffic, Miami?  We waited until the house ran out of Bambarra Coconut, and left to Chinson’s.  Fast forward to December 2015, the place is now called Simone’s, and the head chef, coincidentally called Simone, is actually in the kitchen, not Miami, not Sunrise, not downtown Provo.  Four months later, Simone is cranking out award worthy conch salads, fresh Groupers and Snappers.

As of this writing, Simone is in no man’s land on Trip Advisor.  By the time you reach Simone on TA you either reach behemoths like Asu on the Beach, and Mookie Pookie Pizza Palace, or get finger tendinitis.  After spending some time with her, I dont get the sense that Simone is too worried.  Unlike some of her fellow counterparts, she is not going from table to table asking people to write TA reviews, nor she and her cousins busy injecting fake ones.  She only care about two things:  What people like, and what people dont like right now.

SimoneThis is Simone’s first restaurant.  But with over 15 years of cooking experience, including a long stint at nearby Sharkbite, she’s no stranger to the Provo restaurant world.  Simone has friends with benefits…  Fishermen!  One of them was sitting by the door, just watching the world go by (I apologized when I walked by).  ‘True’ Fish like freshly caught snappers and groupers can be a luxury at places like this.  In the last few years fishing in Provo has been severely erratic due to changing weather patterns and government regulations in favor of sustainability.  Even before all this, getting the correct fish that is listed on the menu has been a crapshoot everywhere.  Ever wonder why that Grouper ‘Special’ you’ve been enjoying at Caicos Cafe and Three Queens is completely different than some of the other places you tried.  That’s because it is.  That’s either Swai or Tilapia you dealing with, with the former resembling the grouper more and an upgrade in taste and texture over the Tilapia.

Simone does not only promise to serve the proper fish, but will also tell you if its frozen.  Location, and the the number of expats/locals frequenting Simone in the early going, suggest there could be some legitimacy to those promises.  Location is significant driving distance from most resorts (significant in provo = more than 5 minutes), off the road, without any views of oceans or sunsets to speak of.  Meaning the goal is for the food to take center stage.  Another good ‘local’ sign is the plethora of rotating daily nightly specials like oxtail stew and Goulash!Simone Fritters

So far so good on the food front.  Other than the uneventful, dry ribs, everything we tried was solid.  The conch fritters (the falafel of the sea) were light, just crunchy enough, and missing some of that greasiness you find elsewhere.  The jerk wings were basic but satisfying.  The curry snapper here can give Flamingo’s ‘Grouper’ a run for its money.  Fresh, perfectly cooked flaky snapper, with thick mild green sauce with onions and peppers.  Flamingo’s got the sauce, Simone got the fish.  Combine them together and you got the cure to summertime sadness.

Mrs Z is not particularly fond of the conch salad/ceviche in general but tries them all (not by force) like a trooper.  So when she declares “the best conch salad on the island”, everybody needs to pay attention. Spicy, tender, without the chewy rough stuff you normally find.  Simone simply removes the not so tender parts.  Some of the conch was as sweet as summer corn.  And she provided some scotch bonnet salsa on the side for the white folks to add more heat as they please.  Go!

Simone Wings Simone Snapper Simone Ribs Simone Drinks Simone out

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Provo Random

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