East Village

Introducing EWZ Tours

img_7142-1Some tours developments for ya…

We have a name, a website, and the least attractive attractions on TripAdvisor (meaning the guide, not the experience)

The three tours are shaping up quite nicely.  I’ve made some changes to all three already and quite satisfied with all the routes.  I’m fairly booked for the holiday season, but not so much after January 3rd.  Yes, I’m doing the walking tours throughout the winter

I think the most painful part of this whole process was coming up with the name.  Eating With Ziggy Tours ultimately beat Angry Panda, Touring With Ziggy, and Hungry Penguin.  I was all set on the last one, but no one liked it.  Touring With Ziggy was the natural progression, but then the expectations of Drinking With Ziggy, and Sleeping with Ziggy would follow.  I would have already gotten a review on the last one, and I’m afraid it’s not good

It took about 6 weeks but we are finally on Trip Advisor, and Facebook.  On Instagram which I finally joined in the summer, I’m “EatingWithZiggy”, and on Twitter I’m still good ol’ Ziggy601

In order to get on TA, I had to quickly create a dedicated site which I’m still working on https://eatingwithziggytours.com/

Why East Village

Categories: Brooklyn, East Village, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Foodpourri

danji-big-korean-breakfastRandom EWZ food discoveries, announcements, and other nonsense…

Danji, the long time EWZ fave in the kitchen of hell is now doing brunch.  In addition to the best tofu dish in town, you can now enjoy delicacies like the Big Korean Breakfast (top picture), Kimchi bacon fried rice, and their version of the Filipino Sisig.  This medium size Jew did the big Korean Breakfast and (of course) the tofu last week, and as much as I enjoyed them, I would love to try the other offerings next time

Talking about Sisigs, I accidentally had it twice last month.  My favorite was in Maharlika in East Village.  Gorgeously fried pig ears, snout, belly with garlic, chilies on top of garlicky rice.  Just a solid combination of flavors and textures.  And while you at it, try their Lumpia rollsimg_4401

lam-zhou-handmade-noodle-dumplingsHaving trouble sleeping?  Problems in the bedroom, ever since Prosperity Dumplings closed by the health dep’t.  Before you reach for the red pill, blue pill or any pill for that matter, check out Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle in Chinatown.  Even at room temperature, you get some of the tastiest fried pork dumplings in NYC today.  8 for $3 is still quite cheaper than what all the new places charging today

In Pizza news, while I dont normally get excited about Sullivan Street Bakery‘s thin, often room temp Roman pies (I do get excited about everything else), the day I walked into a fresh Pizza Capicola changed all that.  Coppa ham, green olives, chili, fennel, Mascarpone.  A masterful combo with plenty of nice heat to keep your taste buds happy for a while.

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Discoering Los Mariscos in Chelsea Market is like discovering a secret Speakeasy, or Tom Hanks discovering a secret garden full of typewriters.  The Los Tacos #1 team leased the space that leads from the tacos hallway to 15th st where there’s a separate entrance.  The place meant to resemble a Mexican seafood shack, and the Baja style fish and shrimp tacos are as solid as they get in NYC.  And at $3 to $4, quite affordable for Chelsea Marketlos-mariscos

I’ve been eating quite a bit in Brooklyn as of late.  Some ups, some downs, with the highlight coming from the most unexpected, Olivier Bistro in Park Slope.  Homey, basic French Bistro fare done well.  Escargot, Hanger, Daurade special particular standouts.

Stop me when I start sounding like Crazy Eddy, but the new East Village Food Tour is beginning to look like a smashing success food and sightseeing wise.  I assembled a pretty nice route that includes a stop at the always fun Caracas Arepa Bar where we’ll sample some Venezuelan mini Arepas they do especially for the tour.  Not all tours will be the same, but this one is shaping to be one the most popular stops.caracas-bar-pork-shoulder-mini-arepas

img_4469In my constant pursuit of great Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao) in NYC that included the much hyped Drunken Dumplings, and others, The Bao in, you guessed it, East Village, makes possibly the best I’ve had in NYC.  Thin skin that holds it on, and a very fine filling of pork and crab which is what I recommend.  Love the dumplings, not so much the stuffier than it should be, $10 per person minimum, space.

Right below Bao on St Marks place is another place we’ve been obsessing with as of late, Spot Dessert Bar.  Playful, imaginary desserts like the Harvest, a plant of berries and soft cheesecake that you water with black rose milk tea.  Dont overlook however the more normal looking and sounding Green tea lava cake spot-dessert-bar

In Bakery news, I cant get enough of Breads Bakery (Jerusalem baguettes, babka, multiple locations), and Arcade Bakery in Tribeca.  Arcade is located in a lobby of an office building and the hours are office kind hours (m-f 8-4).  Go early for the sensational buttery Laminated Baguette, Whiskey-pecan Babka and call me in the morning.

Miso Cherry!  Say it with me, c’mon.  Slower.  Say it like you mean it.  Meeesooo Cherry!  Another wacky Oddfellows Ice Cream flavor that is perhaps the best ice cream/Gelato I’ve had this year.

Stay Hungry My Friends arcade-bakery oddfellows-miso-cherry-ice-cream

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

East Village Starting Location Changed

Just a heads up.  As much fun as it was playing Amazing Race, I have to change the meetup location of the East Village Tours.  The old location 51 Astor Place proved to be too confusing, especially when I discovered the arrow on the actual meetup building, 30 feet from the location, sends people to Broadway.  The new location is nearby, also on Astor Place, but much less confusing.  I think…

 

New Location:  26 Astor Pl, in front of Chase Bank.  http://tinyurl.com/hv8478g

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More About the East Village Food Tour

img_4226To describe East Village is like trying to describe our presidential race.  One of a kind bizarre, full of characters, twists and turns, and an extremely complicated history.  In some ways East Village reminds me of Sicily.  A long history of invasions of different peoples, cultures, and a lot of pain.  Like Sicily, seeing it is like seeing layers of paint.  And watching that paint while munching on an Israeli Bourekas, Philipino Lumpia, or a Xi’an spicy chicken wing is like… “Making watch paint great again!”  Or something like that.

Like the Hell’s Kitchen food tour, no tour will be the same.  We will have a few sit downs in some carefully selected spots that will differ from tour to tour.  Some of them I’ve been enjoying for years, while some discovered recently.  Unlike other food tours where strategic deals are made with the establishments regardless of quality, quality comes first. (oh boy, I’m starting to sound like Crazy Eddy)

img_4469While one may question the validity of Hell’s Kitchen being a hot food neighborhood (historically it hasnt been), you wont hear similar arguments about East Village.  Its arguably the best food neighborhood on the east coast.  Its not only extremely diverse, but well represented in any “Best Of” discussion.  From soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao) to BBQ ribs, to tacos.

We will pass by some important sights that helped shape the neighborhood and really NYC overall.  Plenty of history and photo opportunities

We will follow the Mosaic Trail.

You will hear stories that will bring the area to life.  Stories and events that even most New Yorkers arent aware of.  Some involve celebrities living in the East Village.

img_4396Small, private groups (up to 5 people) will enable you to experience the neighborhood like no large groups can.  I dont even need a microphone nor a pole with a chicken attached to it.  The only chickens you may see will be on skewers.

The timing of the tour 2-6 allows me to introduce you to some of these places and people in a more comfortable, relaxing pace, avoiding the crowds of lunch and dinner.  I try to finish by 6, although sometimes we have some fun and stay a little longer.  If you have a show to catch however, you will not have a problem.

$60 per person (for now)

Meet at 2:00 pm at 26 Astor Pl, in front of Chase Bank.  http://tinyurl.com/hv8478g

For any inquiries and availability email EatingWithZiggy@gmail.com

Love,

Ziggy img_4401img_4461img_4222

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Timna – Chutzpah Nation

Timna OctopusI will make this one nice and simple for you.  Pressing for time as of late, with only a week or so before I leave you yet again on another eating assignment (Sicily).  This one will be the biggest and baddest assignment ever, with a lot of interesting surprises in store.  Though I may be suffering from my first ever FRFS (food research fatigue syndrome).  I’m now seeing Busiate in my sleep and sometimes even when awake, like while watching the Euro 2016 (Football/Soccer).  As much as I’m enjoying the Euro’s, its best served as a rather harmless sleeping pill.  A much needed one since I’m not getting enough sleep as of late due to the mating season in my bedroom.  No, not what you think.  Birds! male birds, doing the entire Hava Nagila rendition at 4:30 in the morning in order to attract their female counterparts.

East Village in June, as I was showing to my Aussie friends, feels like mating season as well.  Its the east coast capital of pretty people.  Friends that live there give 2nd Ave nicknames I can not repeat here.  And on buzzy St Mark’s, in the middle of all that, you find little Timna, a modern Israeli joint with Nir Mesika (Zizi Limona, Milan, knows his hummus geography) at the helm.  When I visited young Mesika in the kitchen, I was announced by the manager Downton Abbey style.  The guy has all the talent and knowledge in the world, but has the look of someone in the early stages of a soccer career, rather than a world class chef.Timna Sashimi

Other than a slight discomfort at the rounded table at the back, with some A/C issues, this was a very enjoyable evening.  Started with the infamous freshly baked Kubaneh that comes with some yogurt, a tomatoee salsa and “Jalapeno Salsa” which is essentially green Yemeni S’chug.  If you have a Challah fetish, you will wet yourself over the taste and texture of this thing, and its a must get for groups especially (I wouldnt order it solo).  But as with most bread courses out there, its a bit overrated, and serves as a sharp reminder that the free bread course days are just about over.  Give me The Marshal french loaf with homemade butter any day of the week.  The obligatory Cauliflower that you will find in every Israeli corner, did not disappoint.  Here Mesika elevates it with curried yogurt, dried grapes among other deliciousness.  A veg-ful burrata is more proof that a sprinkle of Za’atar (oil in this case) makes everything better.

Mesika assembled a playful menu with influences from all over the world (Chinatown salad!) especially in regards to the raw stuff.  A Ceviche salad featuring mahi on this particular night was the weakest of the ones we tried.  A fine tzatziki tartar with minced lamb delighted Mrs Ziggy especially.  And the Mediterranean Sashimi featuring cured tuna, green Tabouli salad with quinoa, and crispy beat “leather” did the trick, including in the looks department  A somewhat deconstructed lasagna featuring slow cooked tender spareribs, and Jerusalem artichoke chips is another example of Mesika’s playful brilliance.Timna Shakshuka

But the most interesting dish of the night sounded the most boring, Bedouin Octopus.  Mesika tenderizes, sous vide style, the heck out of this thing (I’m guessing by the size, it was enjoying the coast of the Portugal a few days prior).  A bit softer than I like my octopuses.  Then he finished it on an open flame like the Bedouin 200 kilometers south of Mesika’s home in Israel.  This is by far the smokiest Octopus I’ve ever had, and one of the better, even while lacking the proper texture.  We skipped dessert.

Brunch in Timna is another delicious event.  And one of the better brunch values out there.   For $25 you get a selection of small salads (salatim) to share, any of the entrees, coffee (very good), and the obligatory Mimosa.  We sampled an average Hummus Masabacha which I’m not a big fan to begin with.  A nice Sabich Croissant, though I still prefer my Sabichs in a pita.  One of the better Shakshukas out there.  And a very solid burger with fried egg.

Timna
109 St Marks Pl (1st/A)
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Kubaneh, Cauliflower, Mediterranean Sashimi, Octopus, Shakshuka (brunch), Burger (brunch)

Timna Salatim Timna Masabacha Timna Burger Timna

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Ssam Bar – Come for Buns, Stay for the Porgy

Ssam Bar PorgyServers have a tough job.  We learn more and more the more we dine.  For example, ever wonder when servers are asked “what’s good here”, they often stumble or tell you to get the most expensive dish.  The correct answer is actually the stumble, usually indicative of the “if its not good, it wouldnt be on the menu”.  But often enough, the best dish is in fact its most expensive.  Whether its the use of expensive ingredients, popularity, labor intensive, the reasons are numerous.  Servers are not stupid.  They already know all about the “Oh, he’s probably saying that to get a bigger tip”, and all the rest of them.  Which is yet another reason for the hesitations

At the last meal at Momofuku Ssam Bar I didnt ask the server “what’s good here” because I already had a good idea from previous visits, and Chowhound chatter.  The only questions I asked the server centered around the most expensive dish, the whole boneless Porgy.  “How were the bones removed”, “What’s in the green sauce”, “where did the Porgy come from”, “What was his name”.  An instant classic that blew us away like no other whole fish before.

This Long Island sound Porgy shows up in all her glory, with head and teeth and all.  Except for the main bone that was surgically removed.  The fish is dressed with the momofuku signature ginger scallion sauce which made Mrs Z take note.  One bite, and you can tell this is not your average grilled branzino.  Another bite and its an entire Havah Nagilla rendition in your mouth.  By the 5th bite, you want to run around with scissors, naked.  And then at around the 5th inning, you feel you must try the accompanied lettuce, and tortillas to make fish wraps.  You experiment by adding some pickled bean sprouts, some cabbage, and creme fraiche, and you are suddenly the world’s greatest fish taco maker.  The fish comes with all these goodies in “Ssam” style (“Ssam” essentially means everything  you need to make wraps)Ssam Bar Buns

The Porgy and the rest of the meal help cement this one, not only as part the Z-List, but as one of my favorite restaurants in NYC.  Maybe top 5.   The signature steamed buns are perhaps better then Ippudo’s me thinks now (making a historic change of mind).  The spicy sausage with rice cakes is another signature that continues to please.  The spring menu featuring the scrumptious Broccolini with thinly sliced beef tongue and egg is adds more joy.  The Porgy is $42 but can easily feed two.  Add the rice cakes, pork buns, Broccolini, and you got yourself a great meal for under $150.  The only forgettable dish this time was the Octopus salad.  No much wrong there, just average octopus

The only thing I have to mention here is that Ssam Bar will not win any comfort awards, especially if you are two people.  You will sit at a long communal table either facing workers cleaning glasses or facing each other next to other diners.  And oooh boy the place can get loud.  But we are in it for the food, and as long as no one is poking me or runs around naked with scissors, we’ll keep coming for that Porgy

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave
$$$Ssam Bar broccolini Ssam Bar

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Harry & Ida’s – Meet our New Pastrami King

Harry & Ida's PastramiA lot of excitement lately centered around the pope’s visit to America and NYC.  For the past few days, he cruised central park and 5th avenue, met with our leaders, played with children in Harlem, and crowned our new Pastrami king in Alphabet City.  Ok, I’m not too sure about the last one, but that’s what I hear from my sources, Michael and Gabriel.  Either way, Harry and Ida’s deserves the title.  For too long Katz’s was at the helm doing a magnificent job satisfying tourists and locals alike, about 10 minutes from Harry & Ida’s.  Though H&I is not really replacing Katz’s any time soon.  Its the size of a shoe repair store without any tables, and a small counter by the entrance can accommodate about three food photographers.

When you first walk inside Harry & Ida’s for the first, you essentially sign a contract for life, or the duration of the place whichever ends sooner.  You are asked two simple but lethal questions.  “Have you been here before”, and “Would you like to taste some Pastrami”.  Yes, I suppose that if you are a vegetarian you may throw up a little bit inside at the thought, but as for the rest of us, its a point of no return.  You get two hefty, juicy pieces, far from your average deli sample.  One bite and…done, contract is signed, “One pastrami sandwich please”.  I invite the owners/manager to comment here please, and tell us if anyone ever left without getting more.  It doesn’t seem like its scientifically possible.

downloadThe pastrami sandwich is not very pretty looking at first glance, especially to pastrami purists like me.  It has dill, and cucumbers, and more importantly it has dill. WTF?  With that said, lets pause for a sec for a bathroom break, and a tip…

EWZ Tip:  If you come across a sandwich in NYC that has dill in it, its not a sign of a good sandwich, its a sign of a GREAT sandwich.  Dill is one of the ugliest things you can put inside a sandwich, and a sure bet to scare some people away.  But dill adds a nice flavor and aroma, and is specially complimentary in the summer, and over fish like salmon.  And partially due to that ugliness, its normally a sign of great craftsmanship.  “I don’t give a hoot about popular public opinion, I’m doing it my way”

The sandwich in a word is Maaaaarvelous (For my friends at Turks and Caicos who are smiling at this spelling).  It looks ugly at first, but after a few bites, it looks like the prettiest sandwich on the planet.  Thick, plentiful, tender, perfectly spiced slices can convert any purists out there.  One of the most delicious sandwiches I ever had in NYC, and I’ve had many.

These guys are no strangers to the art of smoked meats.  This is the sibling duo behind Ducks Eatery which I first tried a few years back at the Grub Street Food Festival.  Harry and Ida are their great grandparents who inspired this masterpiece.  There are more reasons to go back.  Like the much talked about hot dog, or the smoked eel.  But if they ask me that second question again, “would you like to try our pastrami”, how can I?

Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.
189 Avenue A (East 11/12)
$$

Harry & Ida'sHarry & Ida's Out Harry & Ida's books

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Red & Gold Boil – Boat to Village

Red & Gold Boil Red CrabI personally subscribe to the popular notion of “Happy wife, happy Ziggy”.  It took me years to understand what it meant exactly.  So when she comes home one day with an odd demand like “I feel like crabs”, I don’t even question the oddity.  I ask my friends at Chowhound where are the crabs before Mrs Z and I even finish the conversation.  I can multitask!  Especially when it comes to conversations about someone’s work or school.  When my kids finally, after a significant amount of begging, open up and tell me about their school, my thoughts go something like “Hmmm, this is significantly less exciting than I imagined”.  Followed by impure thoughts about pizza.  Anyway, the so called friends on Chowhound recommended some places to get crabs, including of course Ashley Madison.  But I opted to go with Red & Gold Boil in the East Village even though its pretty much the middle of crab season at Ashley Madison

Red & Gold from the outside on pedestrian busy St Marks looks more like another playful Ramen spot rather than a seriously good crab joint.  Inside, I havent even peeked or leaked so dont know.  We took advantage of a perfect day and grabbed a table outside.  Opened about a year ago, when the owners of a four boat flee exporting crabs to China decided to let New Yorkers join in on the fun.  And oh what fun it is.

Red & Gold Boil Dungeness

The crab is boiled with other goodies such as corn, mussels, potatoes, sausages, shrimp, squid, and all presented to you with added spaghetti bonus in a bag that can keep things warm according to my rough estimate for 3 weeks.  In fact it was so hot that in order to peel the shrimp without second degree burns you would need to take it out of the bag and let it to cool for about 10 minutes.  Why did we order another bag of shrimp, only god knows.  I would advice no to do so, and concentrate on what they do best here, sweet, meaty, messy crab.

Many years ago when Mrs Z and I lived in South Florida, we used to frequent a crab house for baskets of garlicky golden Florida crab.  We would get a bib and a wooden hammer, partly to beat the crap of the crab, and partly beat the crap of the table when someones birthday was announced.   Imagine 250 people pounding simultaneously on their tables until your ears bleed.   Ahhh, good times.  The love for crab never went away, but we very rarely do anything about it.  I call it the Family Guy affect.

We started with a catfish, fried to flaky perfection, along with overly garlicky but who cares waffle fries, and ok raw oysters.  The waffles and catfish are part of a

Red and Gold boil beer

$13 app special.   The seasonal $40 Dungeness crab that I was struggling to find on the west coast last month was the bomb!  Only to get slightly outstaged by the slightly sweeter $25, always available red Maryland Crab.  Bib and gloves are provided, and you might as well put your phone on do not disturb.  Not only you’ll be busy for a while but you will get so dirty that you wont be able to take out the phone from your man purse.  All the other items in the bag are just there to give you something to chew on between the cracking.  Like Crab amuse bouches.  All washed down with my new favorite Japanese beer, Hitachino Nest.  Another great find in where else, East Village.  GO!

Red and Gold Boil
30 St Marks Pl
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Crab, preferebly red, or goldRed & Gold Boil Oysters

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Bruno Pizza – Don’t Judge a Book by its Name

Bruno Pizza flukeIf you pass on this post because of the name, you may want to hang on a little longer.  But first I would like to present to you this very related Ziggy’s Guide to Tipping in NYC:

1.  If the service has been stellar – Tip 20% (on top of the tax, before tax is up to you)

2.  If the service has been a little less than stellar – Tip 20%

3.  If your water hasn’t been filled on time, your food hasn’t arrived on a timely basis, and no one asked you if you like your food – Tip 20%

4.  If your server made numerous errors with your order, hasn’t smiled the entire time, and looks rather stressed out – Tip 20%

5.  If the servers made you feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed the entire time, to the point of never returning – Tip 20%

6.  If the server along with another server collaborate to follow you to the bathroom, blindfold and kidnap you via the back alley, lock you in an apartment for 15 days and let you watch nothing but Full House reruns before leaving you in the middle of a bear infested forest naked – Tip 15%.  Yes, this is where I draw the line

Why then Ziggy?  Why do you recommend tipping 20% no matter what?  Because this is their salary.  Because the servers are humans like me and you.  Humans who make mistakes.  Because if you make a mistake at your line of work, your salary most likely doesn’t take a hit.  Because people can have bad days.  Because there are other workers relying on this tip.  I can explain much further but this post is not about that.  It’s about one of a handful of places in NYC that ditched the tipping practice completely, while charging a fixed 20% “administrative fee” (no tipping allowed).  I give them Kudos for that and I hope others follow suit.  Its just that over the years tipping has become sort of automatic.  And the more you eat the more you understand the ins and outs of running a restaurant and the reasoning behind bad daysBruno Pizza Eggplant

Bruno Pizza would have gotten major props even if they allow tips.  The food is much more creative than the name implies.  The name sucks!  I don’t know how else to put it.  Its one notch less generic than Rays.  “Not Another Bruno” would have made more sense

But let me tell you how much I loved this place.  It was on the radar since they opened, but leaped to the top of the mental queue when an Italian chef I respect told me to go.  They just got their liquor license and already featuring an impressive drink menu including a few beers on draft (liked the Italian one, didnt like the San Francisco one, forget the names).  The place has a funky, east villagy, minimalistic, rustic look.  Very loud.  Space between tables… maybe good enough for a Jenner, but definitely not a Kardashian.  As for the food…

Bruno PizzaFairytale Eggplant – More like Fairytale Eggplant and Shishito peppers.  A fairytale perhaps because they make them so meaty, and great tasting?  Comes with this mild black cashew paste which makes the dish resemble a squid ink mess after a few minutes.  Get this!

Fluke – Stunning all around, look and flavor.  Quinoa grains puffed and boosted with Tapioca add a coffee like flavor to the fluke.  A few uni pieces add more color but I would gladly sub them for one more killa fluke piece.  Need more cowbell, and fluke.

Margherita Pie – Good.  Not as wildely different as I was expecting after reading about the pizza elsewhere.  Just a little different texture, chew and a kinda whole wheaty flavor.

Nduja (pizza) – Thats more like it.  Nduja (spicy pork) with cauliflower which adds a nice crunch.  Great tasting pie

Cavatappi – Excellent.  Like fat Gramigna, or supersized curly elbows, with collard greens, smoked bone marrow, breadcrumbs, bacon and clams, all work nicely togetherBruno Pizza nduja

Grayson-Agnolotti.  The glaring miss of the night.  Its 5 tiny ravioli with light cream sauce, chanterelles, squash and hazelnuts.  Ok flavor, with hazelnut bringing unnecessary sweetness, and Agnolotti that has no resemblance to any agnolotti I’ve ever seen.  But the main issue is the size.  It would be tiny even as an appetizer, but priced as a main ($22)

Desserts –  This is where that brilliance is really showing off for me. Two items on the menu currently and both outstanding and very creative.  The rose gelato is made on the spot, and its so airy and fresh. It comes dusted with powder they make from lovage (that comes on the Margherita as well), and a berry compote thats not overpowering.  The peach sherbert was equally great, especially the accompanied plum merengue.

Kicking myself for not bringing the big boy camera for this one, but oh well.  Highly recommend Bruno Pizza.  One of my favorite new restaurants of the year

Bruno Pizza
204 E 13th St
$$
Recommended Dishes: Fairytale Eggplant, Fluke, Nduja, Cavatappi, both desserts

Bruno Pizza Cavatappi Bruno Pizza ravioli Bruno Pizza Margherita Bruno Pizza gelato Bruno Pizza peach sherbert

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The NYC Trip Report that Left Me Speechless

Annisa SquidAnd starving.  Like, literally starving to death.  There was a point where I realized that the safest time to read Aynat’s (Trip Advisor handle) daily accounts of her NY adventure is between 6 and 6:45, before my stomach wakes up from its beauty rest.  This was not Aynat’s first trip to NYC, and she already logged countless of great meals under her belt.  But this time it became apparent after day two (out of 27) that included a marathon meal at Ko (the best marathon there is), that Aynat picked up her game to almost unreachable levels.  From my vantage point (living room, transferring to kitchen soon) this is the Michael Jordan of trip reports.  The basketball player, not the chef.  Although the chef is pretty darn good too (miss Rosemary’s in Vegas dearly).

I read trip reports on various boards like Chowhound and Trip Advisor on occasion, and it usually doesn’t take long to get a sense of the due diligence involved.  Aynat on the other hand, essentially has redefined food research, and is probably already planning her next trip to NYC (best medicine to post vacation blues..  Alcohol.  Second best.. rebook).  This was 27 days of eating bliss and blissful eating.  After her trip was over, I figured it would be criminal not to write something about this on EWZ, but the challenge was how.  So I asked Aynat to compile a list of her favorite dishes of the trip and here are the results.  Top 20 dishes (comments are mine) with pictures whenever I could find them

Momofuku Ko – Chef’s Multi Course Tasting Menu.  Its impossible to pick one dish from this 18 dish ecstasy.  Its like asking Evander Holyfield which Illegitimate child is his favorite.  Perhaps the best eating experience NYC has to offer at the momenyMomofuku Ko Razor clams

Bowery Meat Company – Bowery Steak with Salsa Verde, Whipped Potato.  The ribeye cap, arguably the cows most delicious part is rolled into this hockey puck of dreams. One of the most delicious steaks I ever ate.  Aynat agrees.Bowery Meat Company Bowery Steak

Marta – Carbonara Pizza with Potato, Guanciale, Black Pepper and Egg.  I’ve watched Nick Anderer try to perfect this Roman beaut over the first few months, until he settled on arguably the best white pie NY has to offer.   Aynat also liked the Rabbit meatballs very much.Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Bistro –  Oxtail Fried Rice with daikon, Shiitake & Bone marrow. Aynat hesitated at first with this one.  “Why is he suggesting Fried Rice, in a hotel no less.”  Easily made the top dishes mark, along with the brilliantly simple sautéed squid (Ika shuga)Blue Ribbon Sushi Oxtail Fried Rice

The Marshal – Wood Oven Roasted Meatloaf stuffed with Mozzarella, Squash Carrots and Kale.  Sometimes a man just wants to eat meatloaf. Apparently same rules apply for women.  One of Hell’s Kitchen’s hidden gems, dishing out proper farm to belly American classics.The Marshal - Meatloaf

Annisa – Barbecue Squid with Thai Basil and Fresh Peanuts (top picture).  Aynat asked me about some of my favorite squid/octopus dishes in town and I directed her to one of Anita Lo’s best sellers.  Needless to say she liked it.

Ivan Ramen – Pork Meatballs with Buttermilk Dressing, Bulldog Sauce, Bonito.  Perhaps it’s the hypnotizing dancing bonito flakes, the tangy Bulldog sauce, or those tender juicy meatballs. Whatever that is, hope this LES Ivan branch keeps it on the menu for a while.Ivan Ramen Pork Meatballs

Alta – Shrimp and Chorizo Skewer with Avocado, Garlic and Sherry Vinegar.  Another winner at this old tapas staple.  Aynat also praised the Brussel Sprouts with apple, Creme Fraiche and pistachios.  The dish that essentially made us start cook Brussel sprouts.  And many chefs around town followed.

Balaboosta – Crispy Cauliflower With Lemon, Currants and Pine Nuts.  It’s not an Israeli meal without a cauliflower dish. (Hmmm, I knew something was missing from my meal in LA last night).  This is one Balaboosta mustBalaboosta - cauliflower

Nougatine at Jean Georges – Fried Calamari with Basil Salt and Citrus Chilli Dip.  Never been to Nougatine so never had it.  But I can just taste it…

Root and Bone – Crispy Free Range Fried Chicken, Tea Brined and Lemon Dusted.  Perhaps the NYC fried chicken to beat, along with Ma Peche’s Habanero infused bird.  The brine and the magic dusting gives it a deeper, lasting flavor. Aynat also really admired the Charred Asparagus with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Crunchy Peanuts. And talking about deeper and lasting, Root and Bone apparently means something else entirely down under (where half of the owners are from.  Coincidence?)root and bone chicken

Santina – Guanciale e Pepe.  Aynat also hit some of the new kids on the block, and enjoyed Santina’s Cecina as well.  I’ve personally been to Santina three times now, so ye.. I’m a fan too.Santina Guanciale e pepe

Rounding the top 20…

The NoMad Restaurant – Suckling Pig with Ramps, Potatoes and Salsa Verde.  Been twice, never had it

ABC Cocina – Spring Pea Guacamole with Warm Tortillas

Timna -Lamb Saddle with Persian Lemon Dust, Black Garlic Mousse, English Pea Purée.  Along with Fried Cauliflower (doh!) with Homemade Labane, Curried Tahini and Sumac.  Top of my to do list

Inti – Ceviche Mixto.  Love this dish.  They make great ceviche hereInti Ceviche

Mercato – Gnocchi in Beef and Pork Ragu.  Havent had this in a while and got tomorrow free.  m..u..s..t r..e..s..i..s..t…

Kati Roll Company – Unda chicken roll.  Never had it.

Gazala’s – Sun dried tomato Bourekas with Hummus, salad and olives.  Still best hummus in town

Ample Hills Creamery – Salted Crack Caramel.  Seriously addictive ice cream (like seriously!) .  Aynat also gives major props to the Sullivan Street Bakery Bomboloni and Amorino gelato.

So there you have it.  There were many other great dishes Aynat enjoyed in this one, but these are the highlights.  This is a great starting point for those researching their next trip.  Thanks Aynat for this glorious report

Categories: East Village, Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City, NoHo, Nolita, SoHo, West Village | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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