Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday at New Caporal

Just ate chicken from New Caporal. It wasn't as good as it was before. There was only one guy working in the shop with no working fryers, and I have a feeling that they made a whole bunch of chicken in the morning to last the rest of the day. So it wasn't fresh. Anyway, it's strange that they would do that. I'm hoping that it's only a Wednesday thing, or maybe someone's on vacation. Because otherwise it's not worth the trip.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reusable Whole Foods bags

My train got stuck at Columbus Circle on the way home last night. There was a stalled train in front of us. So I figured I might as well go to Whole Foods instead of waiting for who-knows-how-long on the train.

I went to pick up a Bell & Evans duck. They had them!

The express line is usually ridiculously long, but yesterday it was especially ridiculously long. I had an interesting conversation with a guy in line about the ethics of eating meat. He'd just seen Fast Food Nation and was trying to eat more organic meat but I think he still felt a little guilty about eating meat in general. I'm currently reading The River Cottage Meat Book, and I was trying to convince him that he shouldn't feel at all guilty about eating meat, particularly meat that has been well-raised. There is an ethically sound justification for eating meat that is as convincing (at least in my mind) as the vegetarian or vegan stance. But I'm not going to go into that now.

Anyway, Priscilla told me that Whole Foods has these cool reusable grocery bags, so I was looking forward to getting one of those too. I got an extra one for Mabel. It has an awesome oyster theme. I love oysters.

I might be warming up to Whole Foods after all. These reusable bags and the switch from plastic might end up doing some good. Although, instead of wrapping my duck in it's own plastic bag, they used a paper one which got soaked and let raw duck juice get all over my oyster bag. Hmm.

Update 4/28/08: Lei tells me that there are $12 canvas bags being sold as well. But the oyster bags (or whatever design they switch to next) only cost $1, and I think you should be able to ask for them at the checkout counter. You also get a $0.15 discount for bringing your own bag.

Update 5/5/08: Priscilla tells me that they reduced the discount to $0.10.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I planted an asparagus bed Saturday morning.

My mom bought the crowns at Agway the week before.

Neither of us have ever planted asparagus before. It's a strange vegetable to plant.

I dug 3 rows that were a foot deep and a shovel's width wide. We put down a thin layer of fertilizer, lime, and soil, fit in 3 crowns per row, and then covered with a few inches of soil.

The idea is to wait until the spears pop out of the soil and then to cover them with a few more inches. And repeat until the soil reaches the top of the trench, hopefully by the end of the growing season. That way the roots are really deep. But we won't be able to harvest until next year. We'll see what happens.

10 N Route 313
Dublin, PA 18917

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Frappuccino with McDonald's straw

I'm a fan of the Starbucks Frappuccino. The only problem is that most of the time the ice doesn't get fully crushed and the straw gets clogged.

You would think that Starbucks could solve the problem by providing slightly larger straws, but they don't. At least not in Washington Heights.

But McDonald's has perfect straws. They have an ever so slightly wider bore than your typical straw, so I figured they might be a perfect match for the Frappuccino.

To test my theory, last week I stopped by McDonald's to get a bunch of straws (along with a chicken sandwich, I couldn't resist). Then I got several Frappuccinos at Starbucks (I was doing a Frappuccino run for the lab, Nicolas helped).

It worked! McDonald's straws do not clog when used with Frappuccinos! It's totally worth stealing a few straws at McDonald's to have a clog-free Frappuccino.

Now I really wonder why Starbucks just doesn't use wider bore straws. It makes the Frappuccino experience at least 50% more enjoyable. Maybe McDonald's has a patent on that perfect straw width. It's not so narrow that it's impossible to drink their milkshake, but it's not so wide that most people notice it. I could see a plausible case for a patent. If that's the case, then I think that Starbucks and McDonald's should merge and open a bunch of hybrid McStarbucks. McDonald's would benefit from the extra foot traffic and Starbucks would get the straws.

Update 8/15/08
Just stopped by to get an espresso frappuccino (the best one) at Starbucks. They have wider bore straws now! Hopefully it will last.

Starbucks (Washington Heights)
4001 Broadway (at 168th St)
New York, NY 10032

McDonald's (Washington Heights)
4036 Broadway (at 170th St)
New York, NY 10032

Gringo coffee

A former post-doc from the lab brought this bag of coffee from France, and we discovered it a few months ago.

For some reason I think it's hilarious. It's a commercial French brand.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free ginger

I got free ginger today from Sugar Deli! I wanted just a little fresh ginger to put in my wonton noodle soup so I picked out a small piece. I guess the guy didn't want to bother charging me the 10 cents for it. Anyway, it made my day.

Sugar Deli Food Center
468 9th Ave (at 36th St)
New York, NY 10018

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Republicans prefer brown water

There's a ridiculous article in today's Times about the differences in food preferences between Republicans and Democrats. It could almost be mistaken for an Onion article.

But I couldn't help noticing this particular paragraph.

For example, Dr Pepper is a Republican soda. Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic. So are most clear liquors, like gin and vodka, along with white wine and Evian water. Republicans skew toward brown liquors like bourbon or scotch, red wine and Fiji water.

So pollsters say that Republicans prefer brown water, and brownish red wine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cafe des Artistes

We went to Cafe des Artistes at the beginning of the month (April 2nd) to celebrate getting our taxes done. Neil Gargiulo is a godsend.

James and Christine got us a gift certificate to the restaurant for Christmas.

We initially tried to use it on Valentine's Day. We don't like going out to eat on Valentine's Day, but we figured that we might as well since we had the gift certificate, and besides maybe we could just let go and not be Valentine's Day snobs for once. But they canceled the reservation we had. Something about not having my credit card or phone number. I don't know. Instead of giving them a hard time about it, I just took it as a sign. We aren't meant to go out on Valentine's Day.

But we were meant to have a romantic evening celebrating taxes. They seated us next to the bar room overlooking the rest of the restaurant. And they gave us a four person table so we could both sit on the banquette and people watch. But I decided to sit facing Mabel, and the mural. It just seems weird sitting side by side.

We ran into Penny and Heather from Pharmacology. They were taking out the seminar speaker, and sat the the table right next to us.

We ordered some cocktails to start, and some oysters. The oysters were really plump but mild. Mabel was super impressed by their plumpness. She wanted to finish her cocktail and get a glass of wine, so she took a really long sip which made it look like she was downing the whole thing in one drink (though she wasn't). Five seconds later our waiter asked if everything was okay.

She got Scallops and I got Pot au Feu.

I've been looking forward to this Pot au Feu ever since I looked at the menu in December. I'd never had it before, and it sounded awesome, various boiled meats and vegetables with a marrow bone.

It was very good, and there was enough for 2 or maybe 3 people to eat. But the awesomest thing about it was that they gave me a marrow spoon for the bone!

It was so cool that I wanted to steal it. I'd heard that the defunct Alain Ducasse at the Essex House had a problem with people stealing their esoteric silverware, and I couldn't understand why anyone would do that. But of course now I do. I didn't want to take any pictures in the restaurant during this dinner, but I couldn't help myself. It beats stealing.

All I could make out was that it was from Sheffield, England. And it looked like silver. And it was old.

When I got back home, I looked it up on eBay. I found one that was similar, though not silver, and bid $20. I lost. It eventually sold for $70.

I found this cool New York Times article from 1982 talking about marrow spoons and where to get them.

Anyway, we finished our dinner with a ridiculous amount of dessert. We got the dessert sampler, which we thought would be little pieces of different kinds of cake. But it turned out to be large pieces of 4 or 5 different cakes and pies with a centerpiece of fruit and whipped cream. We ended up eating about a quarter of it and had some for breakfast the next day. It's funny how some desserts can become breakfast.

Cafe des Artistes has great atmosphere, great flowers, and great murals. The food is good, but the real draw is the atmosphere and friendly service.

Cafe des Artistes
1 W 67th St (near Central Park West)
New York, NY 10023
(212) 877-3500

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 12, 2008

Mabel had to be on call today (4/13/2009) so we did stuff for her birthday yesterday. We saw an apartment on 45th and 9th Ave (not a good one) and had lunch at Marseille. Then we went to Sam Ask near Times Square, sampled a bunch of electric pianos, and bought one.

We went to the Central Park Zoo, and Mabel got to pet some farm animals. We actually ended up making it to the West Side shooting range, but only 20 minutes before they closed. We're going to have to get there earlier next time. We met up with Ben Djang for dinner at Lucien at 1st and 1st. The restaurant was solid, although I tipped less than I wanted to because I can't multiply by 2. We got smoothies at Ben and Jerry's (and I finally saw where Otofuku is) and called it a relatively early night. It was exhausting, but lots of fun.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yakitori Totto

Jen and Soes were really excited for us to try out Yakitori Totto, so we all went several weeks ago (March 14).

Totto is pretty nice--not a hole-in-the-wall kind of place--and the prices are good.

We got kobe beef tongue (Soes' favorite), soft chicken bone (not that great or edible), chicken oysters (awesome, and not what it might sound like), some salad, some tofu, and some of the most perfectly grilled rice balls.

We shared a bottle of Dassai sake and a good time was had by all.

Yakitori Totto
251 W 55th St (btn 8th Ave and Broadway)
New York, NY 10019

Izakaya Ten

Mabel and I went to Izakaya Ten (on 3/4/08) after I saw it in a ramen article that Priscilla sent me. It's right in our neighborhood. A ramen place in our neighborhood!

We got seated in the back area. The echo was awful and we were right next to a really obnoxious group with nail-on-blackboard voices and irritating laughs. All I could hear were stories about how awesome Jagermeister is.

As an izakaya, it didn't come close to being as good as Hagi, and it was about 50% more expensive. We got a Tofu Salad, Asparagus with Mayo, and Ginger Pork Belly. I got their Ramen.

Their Ramen was pretty good and at $8 a relatively good value.

But I couldn't really tell how good any of the food was because the back room acoustics with that terrible group was really stressing me out.

By the end of the meal I was pretty tense. I want to give them another try and sitting not in the back. I'm unwilling to give up on the place. It's in our neighborhood. The ramen is at least decent, probably better than decent. And on Tuesdays they take $20 off any bottle of shochu, which is crazy. That's almost at cost. But I think Mabel has already made up her mind that she doesn't want to go back.

Izakaya Ten
207 10th Ave
New York, NY 10011