Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Post Night Replay

Probably my most favorite meal ever is the post night out brunch/lunch. A time when everyone is still a little drunk, nursing a hang over, and replaying the embarrassing and interesting events of the night. Somehow we end up sitting at a table for way passed our welcome and we stare blankly at the walls by the end of it, but rehashing the quotes of the night are worth it all. When your friend uses a term like "Power Lesbian" and creates a signature hand-dance to ward off annoying boys who are hitting on you at a gay bar it needs to be revisited.

Monday, December 25, 2006


The trend of fusion food is nothing new. There are probably more fusion-esque restaurants in New York than there are traditional cuisine restaurants at the moment. Okay... maybe not, but the point is-- there are a lot. Topping the list are probably French-Japanese, Nuevo-Mexican/Italian/Spanish, and your offering of various tapas joints. Most of these places take traditional food and make it more glam. Like Dos Caminos, somehow they take tacos and put Kobe steak inside and its way more fab than your average ground beef.

The other offering that has become more and more popular is dumplings. Dumplings of different sorts are popping up everywhere. (Is this a trend I only see? or umm do others see it too?) So you have the normal Japanese sui mei, the Chinese dumpling, etc. Now you go to Stanton Social and you have the French Onion Soup Dumpling. Who thought to put the soup inside the dumpling rather than the dumpling in the soup? (and add cheese!) It's genius!

Now cut to Buddakan deemed "Modern Asian Cuisine." They have a variety of dumplings and sui mei on their menu ranging from butternut squash dumplings to general tso's dumplings, but the one that everyone seems to talk about is the edamame dumplings. What Buddakan was able to do was take traditional dumplings and add something not so traditional i.e. edamame. But in the process, they've created a new fusion which I call Japa-polish. You see, when the edamaeme is pureed, it tastes very much like potato. And everyone knows that when you put potato inside a pasta shell you have a pierogi (or gnocchi if smaller, but that’s not the argument here). So you see Buddakan has actually went to a place no one has ever gone before (even though they probably have zero clue they've done it) they've taken a highly popular cuisine (Japanese) and fused it with a cuisine... well... that’s not on the forefront of the culinary arts (Polish). And let me add, it tastes wonderful. My one issue with this is the plate comes with an uneven number of dumplings--who wants to be the asshole to take the fifth one? When it tastes as good as this... what the hell-- I'll be!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What makes a successful holiday party?

When you rehash a night at a 2 star Michelin restaurant, the first thing out of your mouth should not be, "Can you believe his date hooked up with the printer's girlfriend?!" Even if an incident like this did occur; the food should at least follow shortly behind. When I recount the events of my company's Christmas party at Del Posto, the food doesn't come at a close second or even a trailing third to the entertainment. In fact, the only comments I have made about the food was how disappointed I was in it and how I left most of my main course over. Understandably, it was a set menu, which always downgrades the quality, but I can't even say there was anything that stood out. The salad was salty, the lobster risotto just okay, and the arctic char tasted more like a fishy salmon. I can pick out a few passed hors d'oeuvres that I liked- like the fried gnocchi with proscuitto or the portabella mushroom bites--but I will soon forget them. The wine, on the other hand, was fabulous. But then again, the wine was part the reason that all the drama occurred.

When you bring a date to a company event, I think most people know to pick their date carefully. If it's a significant other, I hope you've already put some thought into this, as they are partly a reflection of you. When you have a choice of friends or acquaintances to bring, you might want to think about it a little harder. I don't think my coworker who we will call "Bad-date guy" put much though into this as he brought his 'craziest' friend. "She is really good at picking up girls," he told me the next day--as if I hadn't already figured this out from the company Christmas party. Not only did she hit on other co-worker's boyfriends, lustily lean into the bartender when ordering a drink, and recount drunken pole dancing stories about bad-date guy, but she also hit on one of our vendor's girlfriends who apparently was into girls as well. Within 10 minutes of talking to each other, they were making out in the downstairs lobby of Del Posto--and then brought it to the bathroom stall. Wow, that's classy. It's pretty hard to envision this if you've ever been to the establishment because the place is beautiful. Long winding staircases and marble and then behind one of the columns you could find bad-date-guy's date smooching with the printer's girlfriend. But his date did not stop there-- she then decided to take a stab at the owner of the company and his wife. Way to go bad-date-guy! You know how to pick a winner and look professional all at the same time!

However, regardless of the distaste and the mediocre food- if asked was the party a success? I could only reply-Why yes...why yes it was- great success!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I can't help but hate tourists. As a New Yorker, I think by default you are obligated to unconsciously loathe fanny-pack wearing, sky pointing, middle-Americans who are looking for Ground Zero. I know it sounds horrible but the day you forget your ipod on the subway makes you remember how damn annoying they are. They stand in packs unable to take a seat without each other--scared to be amongst strangers on the subway and make references to Miracle on 34th Street when you pass the Penn Station stop. They stand in the middle of a sidewalk with guidebook in hand and won't move while you try to weave through them in hurry. They are also under the impression that New Yorkers are cold and unfriendly. In all honesty, I have no problem giving directions to an out-of-towner with a smile on my face. I think I feel bad for the whole lost puppy syndrome. But maybe if they weren't so annoying, we would be all be more apt to do so. So please tourist, I beg you to step out of the way.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Shrimp Pizza Incident

You know how they say you are what you eat? Well I guess I must have become unattractive and uncool the minute I took a bite of that slice. But being that I’m a calculated planner, I was kind of pushing some buttons to see if I would really be deemed a sinner. I would think other things I’ve done would make me one of Satan’s fallen rather than tasting the “forbidden.” Oddly enough, I met the freak on all hallow’s eve…well sort of – at a Halloween party.

So I was dating this guy for about a month. For me, an avid serial dater, who can’t seem to stay with one person for longer than 2 weeks lately, this was starting to be a long time. Of course, because I’m the most indecisive person on earth (yes, the flipping coin method works wonders), I was still uncertain if I liked this guy. This was mostly because he was a ‘nice guy.’ If you are an asshole, I am obviously very interested. Ignore me and I’m all yours baby. But I decided to continue things being that this guy did everything ‘right.’ He picked me up from my door, took me out well, and was always a gentleman. Yes, our conversations were lacking and he definitely didn’t get my weird sense of humor but maybe I would get to know him? Okay…at least we had physical attraction. But his incessant calling and ‘into-me-ness’ kinda made the walls seem like they were closing in. He took me out to dinner the night after we met, he texted me from a foreign country and then called me when he landed at 4:30 am. I was having major gag reflex issues. When he told me he missed me after being on vacation and then asked me if I missed him too, I almost broke out into hives. “Errr, umm yeah?” I’m a pretty bad liar.

In any case, he had some other issues I was a bit concerned with. Let’s just call it his Jewishness. Now, I’m a Jew and don’t consider myself nearly reform. So I definitely know a thing or two. But this guy was like a real Jew. Like didn’t go out on Friday nights doesn’t eat meat outside his house Jew. But no, he didn’t wear one of those hats with the curly Qs. He looked completely normal from the outside. At first I had no idea, but by the 3rd date when we were continually going to sushi restaurants, I started to probe and found out no meat, no shellfish, Friday night dinners with the fam. (Excuse me while I go dry heave in the bathroom- scary!) But from the solid advice of my friends, I decided I couldn’t just dump him on the sheer fact that he was more religious than me. Although my sister referred to it as lifestyle differences that were irreconcilable and the masses began to refer to him as “Jewbaca.”

So we continued to date and he continued to be intense and I continued to doubt. I was giving him 2 more dates before I called it ‘El Fin’ or decided to continue. And then came the fatal night. We planned to go to dinner and I rushed home to go get ready. He was ready before me so he said he’d come over while I got ready (once again, intense). What this really meant in boy language, which I was unaware of, lets hook up and then I’m tired and jet lagged and will pass out for half an hour. Cool, love it. I’m starving. I suggested we order in and then finally he came around and when I mentioned Krunch- the gourmet pizza bar. He was up for it.

We get to Krunch which is extremely close to where I live. As I’m eyeing the different slices, I think to myself, I wonder what he would do if I got something unkosher. I hadn’t done this yet but wanted to test the water. I glanced at the chorizo slice. It looked delicious, but decided that might be a little over the top. Milk and meat and a pig no less. I needed to downgrade a bit. Shrimp pesto pizza. Hmm..that seemed like a delightful choice. Our meal was quick and as we were leaving he decided he’s really tired and was just going to go home. I reply, “Are you sure you want to go home? You sure you don’t want to hang out?” He quickly kissed me and left. Maybe he didn’t want to touch my shrimpy lips. If he had only known I had bacon the last time we had seen each other.

The next day we played phone tag and the day after that a short IM. Then the weekend- nothing. For a guy who was crazy intense, it was hardly a fade out. And then there was the real kicker. Monday morning, I decide to IM him since I rarely contacted him. As I open my IM message, I find I can’t IM him with my normal AIM is restricted to my work AIM name. And then I realize, he’s blocked me! I couldn’t even believe it was true. Seriously? Did he really just dump me over shrimp pizza? What a freak! So instead of IMing him, I text him that night playing the guilty card. “Are you okay? Haven’t heard from you in a while?” No response. I just really wanted to know if it was me or the shrimp pizza! Literally, nothing else happened. I was racking my brain—did I step into some bad lighting? So then I decided to IM him from my work IM just to try to stir him up. “Wow you’re an asshole. Here I am thinking there is something wrong but clearly I can see you are okay. Cool to be mature at 31.” Well I don’t know if he got that IM or just chose to ignore it because after that I surely got a text a couple days later. “I’m sooo sorry. I’ve been crazy busy …blah blah blah” Obviously I had no intention of responding if I wasn’t going to get to the bottom of it and clearly he wasn’t about to tell me it was because I was a bottom-feeder-eater. All I kept thinking was...I wish I got the chorizo slice.

Presentation is everything

I've done a little remodeling. Hope you all like. (all 4-6 of you that is!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Most Overrated Night of the Year

So I decided to be extremely controversial (at least to my group of friends) and write about whether it’s better to go out to a club/lounge/bar on New Years Eve or go to a dinner. Or maybe this is a lame attempt to outline a pros and cons list and try to start yet another dialogue. This is to be an aerial view and nothing to do with the politics of any current situation.

Last year, my group of friends went to Level V and had a great time getting sloppy wasted. I, of course, lost all the contents of my bag on the floor—which might I add was an inch thick with some sort of liquid said to be the exploded tap at the bar. On my hands and knees (in a dress!) searching for my beloved cell phone and camera was not fun. But being as drunk as I was, my tears soon stopped and you can find me on the dance floor shaking my ass to any song that came on. And then, of course, the rumors started flying that I made out with a friend of a friend (a guy you just simply don’t hook up with!). In any case, I still stick to my story that it never happened… well maybe just the prom-style dancing. I guess I can’t argue with photos. In any case, the night was fun and memorable. But when is the age cut-off for this type of behavior? I can only think we have only so many years left to act like complete idiots and for it to be acceptable or semi-acceptable. Okay. Sometimes.

So cut to this year…prices for tickets to all the ‘hot-spots’ have jumped about 50 bucks. Spending $175 on the most overrated night of the year is hardly anything ideal. But spending that sort of money on a ridiculously good meal might be more acceptable. There are so many amazing places in New York to try and there are not many nights that everyone is willing to throw in the big bucks. Deciding on this ‘amazing’ place is another big ordeal though. And I begin to wonder—are we going to be the youngest people there? Is this like something young married 30-somethings do? Would a group of young 20-somethings feel out of place and yearn to go back to the club to go blackout? (Well at least I know Ginger’s goal of the night is to blackout; she’s mentioned it in an email already).

Even though this is literally the most overrated night of the year and bears nothing on the rest of the year, the big question still remains—do you act unreasonable: spend the ridiculous amount of cash, party all night with your friends, and possibly not remember half the night the next morning? Or put the money to good use, eat and drink well, but possibly yearn for the night to forget? Putting it into this type of perspective, there are only so many years to act like intoxicated children and create stories as to what REALLY happened on New Years Eve.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas in Rockefeller Plaza

Rockefeller Plaza during the Christmas season: the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. The tree, the twinkling lights, the sentiment of giving permeating the atmosphere coupled with brisk freezing air slapping you in the face, the annoying crowds of people, the tourists that don’t know where the hell they are going and then there you are--a New Yorker cursing at the out-of-towners, weaving through the masses.

So when I was amongst this on Friday after attending a Conan taping, what seemed seasonally mystifying at first quickly turned into an irking sensation and an urgent need to escape the cold and the irritating crowds. Ginger (pseudonym created to protect the innocent or in this case, the wild) and I tried to shop for a little but were soon stricken with the hunger for a hot meal and a nice glass of red to beat the frigid weather. For the life of us though, we couldn’t figure out where to go? What is in that area? Now, I might be completely wrong but I couldn’t think of a thing. Ginger couldn’t either. We were having a great day (aside from security misplacing Ginger’s confiscated mace during the taping—but that’s just pretty funny that she was carrying that at all). We wanted to keep the momentum going and knew a fabulous dinner was the only answer. A brainstorming session and a couple of google texts later, the best we could come up with was City Lobster. Facing the wind and trying to figure out which way was 6th avenue, I suddenly remembered this little Italian place I almost went on a date to. I say ‘almost’ because we went there and it was too packed and we were too hungry to wait. But I remember thinking the brick oven joint was adorable and my date raving about the food. Although a complete weirdo, every other restaurant we had been to was great so I knew to trust his judgment.

I quickly texted “La Vineria” to google and was relieved to find that it was only 6 bocks away. There actually might be a haven from the tourist-centric blocks of 5th Avenue! Ginger and I began to weave through the crowds as I was already patting myself on the back to have remembered this place and crossing my fingers in the hopes it was good. We got to La Vineria and the tiny place was packed. Luckily, there was a two top with our name on it. We quickly sat down and sorted through the wine list as a thick accented waiter came to our table to share the specials. Ginger’s tongue almost fell on the table when she heard the assorted sausages dish and the grilled octopus salad. But something about this place screamed try the pasta!

We picked a Chilean Cabernet just because we had never heard of a Cab from Chile. It was actually just okay and I guess that’s why you don’t hear about Cabernets from Chile. But in any case, the food absolutely made up for the wine snafu.

We ordered the grilled calamari with avocado puree and grilled red peppers for appetizer. The rule of thumb for Ginger and me is that anything with guacamole is good. When the server told us it was going to take about 20 minutes we obliged and boy was it worth the wait. The calamari could only be described as ‘blissful.” It literally melted in your mouth along with the puree. The red pepper complimented the butteryness of the calamari and the avocado. It was exceptional. We were content with our choice and were now over-confident in our main course selection.

We both opted for the Pasta tubes with lamb ragout. When the plates came, we looked at each other and nodded. We knew, “It was on.” The ragout was so tender, it tasted like the lamb had been sitting in a stew for hours. We both could hardly speak. While it’s a very simple dish, it was a great surprise.

By the end of the meal, we sat with espressos basking in our victory. We had succeeded. We laughed in the face of that tourist area and I had converted Ginger from a “There’s no where good above 14th street” type of girl to a “There’s one good restaurant midtown” type of girl. I, of course, don’t agree with Ginger—there’s plenty of restaurants all over NYC, but when it comes to Rockefeller Plaza try and find em’.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Some things never change...

There are restaurants in this city whose menus cease to change and for them it’s not a bad thing. The whole point of these landmark eateries is that you know exactly what you are getting. The staff has had the same uniform for the last 15 years and some of the servers actually might have been there since the day the establishment opened. This being said, these are usually the angry old and senile servers, but I guess you got to give them some credit for longevity.

I wouldn't say these are the type of places I would go for a young fun crowd, or to grab cocktails with my friends, but when my dad asked me if I wanted to join him for lobster at the Palm, I obviously wasn't about to turn him down. As pointed out before, I doubt the menu has changed much since the day the place opened. Maybe the addition of a seared tuna appetizer to mix it up from classic crab cakes and lobster bisque but no one goes to the Palm for the exotic. In fact, when we saw the table next to us get a chicken dish my father was mind boggled and asked who comes here for chicken? It's almost a FACT you go to the palm for lobster and/or steak.

And the lobster is great. There is absolutely nothing to complain about. Paired with a couple of sides (we opted for mashed potatoes and sautéed string beans), a bottle of chardonnay and its a no frills good meal.

There is something to be said, however, for the maitre d, Al. Walking in at 630 on a Saturday night, almost all of the tables empty--Al asks for our name right away. I take the lead and say we don't have a reservation (errr...I'm kinda a control freak?). Al is quick to flash us his clipboard of reservations. His way of saying I'm packed- maybe we can fit you in. And all I can think of is what a load of crap!! You want to be slipped a $20 to get seated at any empty restaurant? Or are you merely just being an asshole cause I look like I'm 18 and asking for a seat. My father looks at his watch to signal the early evening. Al, being the accommodating guy that he is, says can you be out in a half hour? I glare at him. He replies, "I guess you wouldn't even get your food in that time...okay how bout an hour?" We comply as he sits us at the worst table in the restaurant. "Oh no no, not that table," he tells us, "the one right by the door." And as much as I love drafts, I wished my dad had spit in his palm before shaking hands with that bastard. Needless to say, there were 10 empty tables when we left an hour and a half later.

I can't say that any of the other service that night was bad. In fact, our server and bus people were nothing but sincerely nice and accommodating. I will say one thing though-- while some things are better left unchanged, there is one thing or shall I say person that should have been left in the history books.