Posts Tagged With: Eastwood NYC

Lower East Side for Meshugenahs

Eastwood Israli Scotch Eggs****** Taking a much needed break in TCI beginning tomorrow which means no posts for a little while *******

009To continue our Meshugenah series we move over to the Lower East Side, a neighborhood rich with Jewish history.  When we parked our car we couldnt help but notice this beautiful red church right in front of us on Norfolk street.  However, by the time we came back to the car for the all important shoe change (women schwomen you know what I’m saying?), the church transformed into a synagogue, after overhearing a tour guide stationed with a group right by our car.  Evidently German Jews built all sorts of modern looking synagogues in “Little Germany” as it was once nicknamed, and some of those synagogues have been designated as historic landmarks by the city

In fact the entire Lower East Side neighborhood has been added to America’s Most Endangered List by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who is suspect #1 in the case of Mission Chinese closings by the way.  Is it too late for Lucca style Kebab Laws?  Most likely.  But something tells me the Jewish identity will remain in the area for a while.  That something is the guidebooks and tour groups flocking the area.  You cant walk a block in there without a “And this place here is home to New York’s best Knish, but their Gefilte Fish sucks”.  Our food focus on our annual father’s day (delayed by a few weeks this time) neighborhood crawl wasn’t particularly on Jewish food, but it did start out that way…

Russ and Daughters loxRuss and Daughters.  Our only iconic stop of the afternoon was at this 100 year old legend.  I’ve enjoyed those sandwiches before, but not my family.  The new R&D café had a 90 minute wait so we settled for taking a number at the original which turned out to be a 45 minute or so wait.  Silky smooth, rich Scottish Salmon with cream cheese is as good as it gets.  Unless you get the same Salmon rubbed with Pastrami seasoning with onions.  Great stop at this old timer appetizer (an old NYC originated term for such Jewish places) that involves a little bit of pain.  But if you have a low pain threshold, consider the following lox stop, with less of the hoopla, and much of the flavor

Russ and Daughters Sandwich Russ and Daughters

Nordic Preserves Fish & Wildlife Company at Essex Market – One of the most talked about sandwiches on the forums is the Nordic…  Nova Scotia lox, black lumpfish caviar, some onions, dill, tomatoes, capers on a Ciabata from Pain D’Avignon, a high quality French bakery also in Essex Market (some of the best baguettes in town).  An outrageously delicious, high quality sandwich cheaper than the R&D sandwiches.  Nordic Preserves is unlike anything you will find in NYC, selling all sorts of imported Scandinavian items from candy to jams, caviar, game meat and more.  As hidden gem as it gets in NYC

Nordic Preserves

Schapiro’s – We then needed a rest after all that eating and stumbled upon this nifty looking bar.  One quick glance at the menu and.. Jewish theme is still very much intact (will be broken very soon though).  An Israeli Gastropub? Hebrewpub?  Very interesting menu filled with all sorts of inviting goodies.  Couldnt quite pass on the not so traditional, but still quite tasty Shakshuka (the Israeli version of Huevos Rancheros).  And to make the little one happy, her favorite dish in the world, Mac and Cheese – A slam dunk as far as crafty mac and cheese in the city goes.  Schapiro’s is an homage to another neighborhood icon, Schapiro’s wine company which ruled the neighborhood for 100 years (1899-2000) right next door.  A very nifty, inviting space

017 018

That was a failed eating break by the way.  I just wanted to go somewhere for a drink while catching some of the Russia-Belgium world cup snooze-fest.  We then walked down to the east river for some nice waterfront views under Williamsburg Bridge and New York’s most hidden attraction…. the East River Sea Lion Park, a bunch of Sea Lions sculptures I discovered while Citibiking with a friend a few weeks ago.  Kids, summer, water, sea lions, what else can you ask for.  Tacos!  But that’s later (well that was the plan at least)022

035

EastwoodEastwood – Its been over 45 minutes since the last Hebrewpub visit and my left hand started to shake.  What happens when you put a falafel and an egg in one room to the tunes of Michael Bolton with Brokeback Mountain showing the background?  Israeli Scotch Egg (top picture).  A hard boiled egg wrapped in a falafel, served with a side of Tehina.. a crafty and tasty little snack which I had before but wanted to show Mrs Z.  And surprisingly solid Fish and Chips (the things I do for the Brits here, and for what?) can be found in this fun, as local as it gets Hebrewpub.  I first learned of Eastwood at last year’s Grub Street Festival where I met its energetic and fun owner.

Eastwood Fish and Chips

Eldridge Street Synagogue exteriorWay before the term “Hebrewpub” was even invented (10 minutes ago), there was the Eldridge Street Synagogue, on you guessed it, Eldridge Street.  Arguably, the most important establishment in the LES with the richest history.  While its really inside Chinatown these days, the synagogue is as much part of LES as anything else.  Opened in 1887, it was the first Synagogue built by Eastern European Jews in the USA.  Late 19th, early 20th centuary saw roughly 1.5 million Jews moving to the Lower East Side, while less than that moved elsewhere in the country.  The hour long tour (included in your admission) on the hour can help you imagine the daily activities and what this place meant to the community.  Although we actually did not take the tour (kids started to get tired, and I started to get hungry) we briefly spoke to the young girl running the tours, and also saw her in action while inside.  This is a striking looking structure by the way that will surprise even the European church lovers inside with its craftsmanship

Eldridge Street Synagogue

Prosperity Dumplings, Vanessa Dumplings – Jewish theme continues.  It is after all what we eat on Christmas.  These dumpling places are on every Cheap Food list, and for good reason.  Four delicious dumplings for a buck just doesn’t get any more value than this.  Verdict: Prosperity (left).  Bigger, fuller, more flavorful Pork and Chive dumplings than Vanessa’s.  Also, there’s something about irregular shape anything food that I find more attractive.  Like pizza for example.

Vanessa's Dumplings Prosperity Dumplings

 

Melt Bakery – This first rate ice cream sandwich shop was more of a secret 5 minutes ago, before they opened their 4th location.  Delicious ice cream, and even better cookie dough (choc chip walnut, hello!).  I also love that they have mini sizes so you could try more, or just have a smaller one.  I’m finding many of the artisanal ice cream sandwiches out there too big and too expensive these days.  This is New York’s first Ice Cream Sandwich Shop, and they now also have a stand on the Highline

Melt Bakery

This was the end of our little LES adventure but… I came back for more after a few days…

Di Palo’s – While not technically in LES, close enough and worth mentioning to those that are not aware of this neighborhood institution.  This is as old school as it gets.  For over 100 years selling imported cured meats, cheeses, and other Italian specialties (pastas, truffle sauces, fresh red sauce, etc).  But what is so special about this store to me is that even when quite busy with people waiting with numbers in their hands, you still get what I call a “Salumi Concierge” that will guide you and let you try anything you want with zero hassle.  You can be with your concierge for 30 minutes and no one will mind, because the people waiting want the exact same experience.  Try the Prosciutto, Finocchiona (salami with fennel), Cotto (Cooked ham) including truffled, and top notch Mortadella.  And don’t leave without trying some of their Truffled Pecorino – yes, more than one kind.  A rarity in this town.

Georgia’s Eastside BBQ – While killing time waiting for Mission Cantina to open, I stumbled upon this tiny BBQ joint.  I did hear about this place before, but had no intentions of eating here on this particular day, as my mission was clearly on Mission and their highly regarded riceless Burritos which we didnt get to a few days prior.  Mission failed again.  Half a rack of baby back ribs ($11) was simplify glorious.  Meaty, good quality, fall off the bone, perfectly seasoned dry rub with a side of homemade BBQ.   Plan was to leave room for the burrito, but I couldn’t help it and attacked this thing with full force.  Just solid!  The menu features all sorts of southern goodies like catfish and fried chicken.  Cant wait to bring the family here next.

Georgia's ribs

Luca & Bosco – The most famous dogs in the neighborhood will soon become the most famous dogs in the city, Luca and Bosco.  Their proud owners opened this Ice Cream stand inside Essex Market about 7 months ago, and folks, it just doesnt get much better than this.  Drunk and Salty Caramel with candied pecans was heavenly.  Light, fresh and very gelato like.  They are currently making the ice cream at an incubator in East Harlem, but soon moving to a new place with a bigger kitchen.  One of the partners studied in Florence, the gelato capital of the world, where she mastered a few techniques.  Anyone who ever visits Florence knows how standards get elevated.  Highly recommend this one.

Luca and Bosco

End of my eating adventures in the LES.  Other notable spots in the area:  Cata,  The new Ivan Ramen, Mission Cantina ;), Gaia, il laboratorio del gelato, and Katz’s of course

Follow my latest TCI eating adventure on twitter @Ziggy601

Stay hungry my friends.

032 030

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

Battle of the Bridges Part Deux – Grub This!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo (57) photo (56)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.