Saturday, March 28, 2009

Top Chef The Tour

Working in Flatiron today brought me to the tent and tour of Bravo’s Top Chef. The show just completed its fifth season and is filmed in NYC of course. A large crowd gathered around the tent, mostly people coming from Madison Square Park after getting a Shake Shack burger, but also a mix of Flatiron District shoppers and tourists.

The show Top Chef offers a fascinating window into the competitive environment of the restaurant business while the Top Chef Tour offers some photo opts and rather disgusting samples. The sample I had the patience to wait for was oatmeal blended with a mix of fruits and nuts which sounded safe but made me want to gag. Apparently there were some demonstrations earlier by last year’s contestant Nikki Cascone and the most recent winner Hosea Rosenberg, but I missed that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pinche Taqueria

Robb led me to Pinche Taqueria at 227 Mott St in Nolita for our Friday lunch. This is a place Robb had told me about before and wanted to go back to in order to try out the fish tacos. The inside is small and the seating is a little awkward, luckily it wasn’t crowded when we arrived.

We ordered up two types of tacos, Taco de Pescado and Taco de Camaron. The Pescado are fish tacos consisting of a lightly battered Tilapia and the Camaron are filled with shrimp. They are served on a thin flour tortia with cabbage, onion, cilantro, guacamole and a cilantro sauce. Each table has a red and green salsa, the red salsa is super hot while the green verde salsa was sweet and much more to my liking. The fish and shrimp tacos are $3.95 each while all other tacos on the menu to include steak, pork and chicken are $2.95 each. No complaints from me, these tacos are very good. The tacos have a Californian quality more than authentic Mexican style.

As I headed back to the office I saw this guy wandering around out front of the NYSE…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Albany St/S End Ave Food Cart

There hasn’t been much time to go out to eat these days since I am so focused on midterms and getting through this semester. Also, we have been trying to keep our budget in order with so much planned for this summer. The combination of these two goals isn’t necessary but is convenient as an excuse to get something to eat on the street.

Street food scares some visitors and entices others. For a true New Yorker there will be no hesitation getting your hot dog or your preferred grub wrapped in tin foil- I like the Lamb Gyro soaked in Ziziki sauce (Cucumber sauce) and NO LETTUCE. It was great and so filling. Also makes you smell like Gyro all day but totally worth it. Although I recommend some food carts around the city - you quickly learn, like most locals, that the nuts never taste as good as they smell and the pretzels may be hard as a rock.

Every corner in Manhattan appears to have a stand filled with wonderful meats on sticks, in buns, or of course with pitas. They are cheap, quick and can feed a majority of the city these days when wallets are slim. The one I check in with on a regular basis is located in Battery Park City, close to home and usually the best. You can get an awesome gyro for $5 now, used to be $4, with only a slightly snide remark correcting your pronunciation (g-I-row). When the nice man or his son are in a good mood they will even throw in some old stale donuts for no extra charge. You gotta love a city where the food comes to you - even on the sidewalk!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Joe’s Shanghai

Robb and I took our weekly lunch earlier this week since I am taking off Friday to watch basketball. We took the bus to Chinatown with a final destination of Joe’s Shanghai at 9 Pell Street. You will find a crowd at lunchtime and expect to sit at a communal table since space is limited. It is fun to watch the non stop action of waiters weaving in and out delivering food from the kitchen to the tables.

The Crabmeat Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings) served in bamboo steamers are amazing. Robb’s favorite were the Pork Fried Dumplings, they have a thicker outer layer that makes them unusually tasty. We had a small noodle dish, Singapore Mei Fun, a thin noodle with a curry sauce, onions, peppers, shrimp, pork, chicken, egg and who knows what else. The main course was the Moo Shu Pork accompanied by the standard pancakes and plum sauce. Just like everything else the noodles were very good and the Moo Shu was excellent.

This is the place to go for dumplings, the price is right and they are filling enough to skip the main course. We decided to walk back to the office after a little too satisfying lunch.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Park Slope ChipShop

For lunch today I had Fried Fish, French Fries and Fried Twinkie. At least I passed on the Deep Fried Pizza, Fried Jumbo Sausage, Deep Fried Burger, Fried Banana, Fried Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, Fried Cadbury Egg and the Twice Fried Cherry Pie, although the Twice Fried Cherry Pie says it has been “Banned by the NYC Health Department”.

To be more exact I had the Battered Haddock & Chips at The Park Slope ChipShop located at 383 Fifth Ave. (at 6th St.) in Brooklyn. The ChipShop calls itself “An English Restaurant” and is filled with U.K. memorabilia lining the walls of this small yet welcoming restaurant. The place was only about half full and appears to be kid friendly with kids menu items and the various young family’s coming and going. The waitress was decked out in English attire, she was helpful and pleasant. The ChipShop also has a take out window and another location in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The piece of fish was huge and flaked apart perfectly as it was cut into, while the crust was crisp although slightly overcooked. The fries were fine but the fish was the main attraction and I would highly recommend it. Only Robb and I today and he went with the Battered Cod & Chips. We decided to split a Fried Twinkie, served with a rasberry sauce, and it kinda reminded me of a fancy donut. The fish is the way to go and is goooood. Go4Kb.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bill Maher vs. Ann Coulter

Last night MSG Entertainment kicked off the second annual “Speaker Series: The Minds That Move the World,” at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The Speaker Series is a string of events that serve as a medium for understanding politics through the insights of “some of the most prominent political figures of our time”. The prominent political figures of this event included Bill Maher and Ann Coulter debating a forum of “Humorous Perspectives and Serious Issues”.

I had to convince Kevin to go to this debate due to our mutual dislike for Ann Coulter and skepticism that she could contribute to an intellectual debate without a total reliance on false truths. This assessment correctly summed up Coulter’s entire defense; an argument of nonsense rooted in lame old GOP lies such as “Bush prevented a terrorist attack”. But Bill kept the discussion hilarious (“Those rich Republicans would sell the Red Cross to Dracula!”), respectful and coherent. There is only so much that can be said when you are arguing with one who does not believe in evolution and is waiting for Sarah Palin to run again. The debate was no contest and as soon as Maher called her out on falsifying statistics when discussing stem cell research, Bush politics, and current WH policy, the theatre erupted from their sickness of her. It sounded like even her own crowd booed her when she declared she would date Rush Limbaugh! It was an interesting dynamic between the two and their history of friendship didn’t get in the way of Bill challenging her bold lines of bullshit.

The sold out crowd is questioned by moderator Mark Halperin to find out if they are there to see Bill or Ann and if they voted Obama or McCain. I was surprised to hear a strong Coulter crowd in the balcony but not pleased to have to deal with the constant heckling from them and some others in the audience. The heckling was directed at both speakers, to the point that Bill had to ask “Really…at Radio City? I would expect this in Jersey.” But the crowd stayed cool long enough for the show to go on and I would say most people, including Kevin and I, walked out praising Maher’s performance and questioning Coulter’s species/sanity/days left until hospitalized for malnourishment.

This show was funny if not very informative but there are some more serious events to attend during this series. Over the next couple months, Radio City Music Hall, Wang Theatre in Boston, and the legendary Chicago Theatre will each host four of these speaker series events with different political leaders and pundits, including Al Gore, Mike Huckabee, Karl Rove and Arianna Huffington, just to name a few.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shimizu Sushi & Sochu Bar

We attempted to find relatively cheap sushi in the Theatre District for our pre Bill Maher show dinner and this lead us to Shimizu Sushi & Sochu Bar at 318 West 51st Street (between 8th and 9th). We started with Miso Soup and then shared the Regular Sashimi Platter, a Spicy Tuna Roll and a California Roll. The sashimi and sushi was fresh and precisely prepared. The restaurant was simple, modern, clean and also practically empty. In the end the location was great but the food was a little pricier than expected and nothing distinguished it from similar options just around the corner.

What was most memorable is what I’m seeing more often throughout the service industry. A feeling of sorrow and desperation has replaced most individual’s usual insolent and unenthusiastic demeanor (except this peace happy sushi chef below!). The effects of the economy can be seen everywhere and more often I'm left feeling guilty for my cheapskate antics.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ollie’s Noodle Shop & Grille

Most New Yorkers have heard of or been to Ollie’s Noodle Shop and it has been a favorite of mine. With several restaurants throughout the city I have recently been reminded there are differences from location to location. Twice in the past six months we have gone to the Lincoln Center spot at 1991 Broadway (between 67th St & 68th St) and both times expected better food.

There are a variety of Asian options but only a few plates from which I usually select. Today the choice was the Pan-Fried Noodle with Seafood. The noodles were fine other than an unequal amount of shrimp to squid which was a let-down since the squid was rubbery and flavorless. The Steamed Mixed Dumpling’s were served cold, however I did like the dumpling sauce. We have had much better meals at the Ollie’s in the Theatre District and need to stick with that location.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Salt & Battery

Another Fish Friday, this time the outing is to A Salt & Battery at 112 Greenwich Avenue (Btwn 12th & 13th St). This place has oodles of positive reviews and my sister, Christine, recently recommended it as well. Our crew, Robb, Jennie and I, headed up to the West Village for lunch on a perfect New York day, 50°, overcast, no rain. It is an unusual little place with just an order counter, a few stools and wall ornaments to give off an English vibe. Robb even jokingly remarked it’s just like London if only the cars had been driving on the other side of the street. The place was packed at 12:30pm, but we lucked into three stools at a side counter.

For the most part everything is deep fried, with the main attraction the fish (Haddock, Sole, Whiting or Pollock). I went with a large order of the Whiting while Robb & Jennie ordered a regular Haddock and Chips. All orders are fried on the spot, served with a side of tarter sauce or vinegar, and the fish comes out hot, crispy, and was very good. But the chips were cold and soggy; I would recommend a side of the Homemade Mushy Peas instead. We missed out on dessert, the line was too long to place an order on our way out, but you can get a deep fried Mars Bar or a deep fried Lion Bar, which is a poplar English candy bar made by Nestle. Go4Kb.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

RUB BBQ

How do I love you Barbeque? Let me count the ways…14th…18th…all the way to 23rd Street. This is where you will find the best authentic Texas BBQ that we know of in NYC. RUB, an acronym for Righteous Urban Barbeque, has been our go-to BBQ joint since our first visit a few years ago. The owner Paul Kirk has a history of winning many BBQ competitions in the South where saucy flamed cuisine is a way of life. RUB is located in Chelsea at 23rd street between 7th and 8th Ave.

Kevin was not so impressed with the Baby Back Ribs this time ($24.75 full/$13.75 half). They were smoked fine just lacked the meat he is used to getting with beef ribs. There are so many options at RUB, it is very difficult to choose. The huge competition quality smokers are filled with ribs, turkey, ham, brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, and sausage, all of which are tasty. You can have them all if you attempt to conquer the Taste of Baron dinner, a combo of 6 different meats and two sides with cornbread, enough to serve 4-6 people for $50. This time I had the BBQ Rib Sandwich but on my next visit, I plan on trying the BBQ Reuben Crusher ($11.75 - pastrami, swiss, sauerkraut and Russian on grilled rye). I almost ordered the Ruben this time but did not for fear of pastrami comparisons to Katz's, which I can't imagine being outdone. I’ve been told to save room for a legendary deep fried Oreo dessert, think funnel cake with melted Oreos in the middle. How did I not get one of those yet?