Monday, September 29, 2008

Westpfal scissors

The giant scissors hanging in front of Henry Westpfal were down today. I had to circle the block because I couldn't find the shop. I even googled them on my phone because I thought I had the address wrong. They were working on a homemade one inside.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Labor Day weekend 2008

Last year we figured out that the city is deserted on Labor Day weekend. So it's a good time to eat out.

We started off Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend at the Greenmarket, which was less crazy than it usually is. We picked up some blackberry jam because our current supply was running out. We also bought some nectarines that were really good, and ripe.

We dropped off all our stuff and then ate lunch at Papatzul. Mabel was craving Mexican food, so I did a quick search at Serious Eats for their recommendations. Ed Levine really likes this place, so I figured we might too.

The place was completely empty, which was kind of a surprise. I mean, I expected things to be slow, but not that slow.

We liked this mask they had hanging up.

Anyway, the food was good. It was satisfying enough although the ceviche was a bit disappointing. I think this place would be nice place to eat out with friends.

On our way out, we passed this dog with white paws patiently waiting for its owner.

Mabel wanted to send a chocolates to a friend from Marie Belle, and it was just a few blocks from Papatzul. So we stopped by. I really like their hot chocolate. They do it european style where it is basically half chocolate and half water. By chocolate I mean a ground up chocolate bar. Comparing their hot chocolate to something like Swiss Miss is like comparing freshly squeezed orange juice to Orange drink. Not that there's anything wrong with Swiss Miss or Orange drink, but I'm just saying.

Anyway, we still had plenty of their hot chocolate at home, and we didn't feel like hanging out in their little cafe. We picked out a few pieces to send to Mabel's friend, and we headed home.

I got a flat tire on our way home! It was my first flat tire ever. It's not a great feeling. But I got it fixed at the Hub Station. I've since bought tougher tires.

We headed to Hudson River Park to hang out after getting my tire fixed.

Then we saw Elegy. Mabel thought it was too melodramatic. I thought it was pretty good, although it was strange that Penelope Cruz would have two darkroom scenes in two movies that were out at the same time. I mean, who even has a darkroom anymore?

After the movie got out, I thought it would be late enough to get a table at Blue Ribbon, but the wait was 1-2 hours. Geez, it's Labor Weekend. You'd think that all the cool kids would leave the city on a holiday weekend. We tried Blue Ribbon Bakery instead, which had a much shorter wait.

The food was really good. Their bone marrow was nice. I can't say it was awesome, but it was nice and more refined that I know how to make it. They sawed the bone length-wise so it was really easy to get the marrow out. And the marrow was pure white and smooth throughout. And it had a very mild flavor which I thought was nice but Mabel though was boring. They must have soaked that thing for a while, but still. I'm not sure how they got everything so perfect looking. The bread was more like potato bread, which i think is nicer for marrow. They served it with a red wine sauce.

We also split an order of grilled sardines which were good to eat.

Mabel got sweetbreads and I ordered the duck club. We switched halfway through. Mabel would go back for the duck club.

The thing that really sticks out in my memory, though, is their bacon bread. They give you a basket of assorted breads, and I was eating a piece that looked innocent enough, until I realized there were little chunks of bacon in them! What an awesome thing to do. Bacon bread.

The next day we got Dim Sum at Golden Unicorn with some friends. I like that place. We went to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for desert.

I'm not up on my Godzilla monsters, but that mascot looks a lot like Anguirus. I wonder what the story is behind that.

They have good ice cream. Lot's of different flavors, although they seemed to be out of a number of them when we were there. It's a little icier than I though it would be, but that's probably because I've been getting a little too used to ultra-premium ice cream and gelato. This place makes old school ice cream.

55 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013

Marie Belle
484 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013

Blue Ribbon Bakery
35 Downing St (at Bedford)
New York, NY 10014

Golden Unicorn Restaurant
18 E. Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recent beef roasts

My recent project has been to go through the various beef roasts. Not the famous rib and tenderloin roasts, but the more economical and perhaps underappreciated ones. These are my first two.

The Sunday of Labor Day weekend we had Ben and Crystal over, and I cooked a sirloin roast from Florence. They trimmed it, covered it in garlic paste, salt, pepper, and rosemary, and barded it with pounded strips of fat.

I cooked it to medium rare.

I removed the barding and carved it up. It turned out really well! I think there's no reason to go with the super expensive roasts other than for super special occasions. The next day, I made a roast beef sandwich from the leftovers.

Last night I made a Newport roast for me and Mabel. It's only a 2 pound roast, and it's from the same piece as the Florence Newport steaks. This roast was easier for the butcher to put together than the sirloin roast. He had the piece already cut. One side naturally had a lot of fat. To the meat side, he inserted slivers of garlic. And then he seasoned it, folded the meat in half, and tied it together.

I threw some marrow bones into the roasting pan because there was room.

This also turned out really well. Since it was just the two of us, I made it rare. I made a sauce from the fond and some frozen stock I made earlier in the week.

Mabel liked the pieces of garlic in the roast.

We had leftovers. I'm planning on bringing in a roast beef sandwich to lab this week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Large scallions

I got these scallions from the Greenmarket today.

I think they look like something out of a Van Gogh. Mabel says that they seem like scallions that were forgotten about and left to grow wild.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Last night, I dragged Mabel to a debate between Levy and Zizek at the New York Public Library. It was extremely entertaining. Zizek was more eccentric than I could have imagined, and he was largely misunderstood. Levy seemed pretty classy at first, but he was sneakily passive-agressive. And the moderator was sullen for most of the debate since Zizek ended up hijacking the entire night. Anyway, it went over 2 hours and both of us were starving afterwards. We walked down to Kunjip for dinner.

It was our first time there. Kunjip seems to be the go to place for a lot of New Yorkers, so we figured we might as well try it out.

It was packed, even at 9:30 on a Tuesday night. We only waited 5 minutes for a table, but I was still surprised. The crowd was fun. I like the energy of the place.

I got Gal Bi Tang which is a short rib soup, and Mabel got Soon Doo Boo. Everything was just fine. Solid Korean food. Decent Ban Chan. And good service. At a Korean restaurant. Good service!

What Mabel likes about the place is one of the waitresses. We were waiting for rice. I think they were making a new batch. When it was finally coming out of the kitchen, one of the runners gave rice to the people next to us even though their food wasn't out yet. I was raising my hand to say something when behind me this waitress starts yelling at the runner, in Korean, "How can you give those people rice before these people? Look, these people have been waiting for the rice. What are you doing? Bring them their rice! And give them more Ban Chan!" She was hilarious and awesome. We got our rice and a refill on our Ban Chan. We love this place.

Kunjip Restaurant
9 W. 32nd St. (btn Broadway and 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10001


I stayed home to write today, so I biked over to Minca for lunch.

I'd never been. I tried going last Sunday, but it was really hot and humid and Minca didn't have their air conditioning on. So I went to Setagaya instead. (Where I bumped into my old med school roommate, Brian, who had his bike tied to the same parking meter as mine. What a coincidence!)

Anyway, it was a cool day today. Perfect for ramen.

I got there at 12:15, and I was the only customer for 45 minutes. They gave me a bottomless glass of cold barley tea, the kind I grew up drinking, and I ordered the miso ramen.

It was perfect. All the preserved vegetables, the pork, the corn, the broth, the egg, the sprouts, the noodles, were in perfect chewy, soy-filled harmony. It was beautiful and delicious, and such large portions.

536 E 5th St (btn Ave A & B)
New York, NY 10009

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Huge leeks

We got leeks from the Greenmarket a few weeks ago. We can usually find decent leeks from Gristedes or Whole Foods, but I wanted to see if these local ones were any better, you know?

Well, I cooked them later that week, and they are totally better. They look roughly the same size as the ones from the supermarket when you eyeball them, but after trimming off the dark leaves you realize that there is a lot of leek. I'm used to getting only 3 or 4 inches of the white and light green part of the leek, but the Greenmarket version is about a foot of edible material. They look like celery!

I braised them in chicken broth and butter for dinner, and we ate them all. And then we passed out. Mabel woke up later that night, but I went into bona fide leek coma.

Dried kkaennip

We picked up some kkaennip from the Greenmarket a few weeks ago. I plucked the leaves, washed them, and patted them dry. We ate some that same day, but I forgot about the leftovers in the fridge.

So we got dried kkaenip. I didn't put them in a plastic bag because I didn't think that they would get totally desiccated in the fridge. I guess now I know how to dry spices.

The only thing Mabel and I could think to do with them was to crush them and mix the leaves in with some cooking rice. I put them in a Ziploc bag, crushed them oyster cracker style, and dumped them in a pot of rice and water.

The result was really good. Not surprisingly, it tasted like kkaennip rice although I'm not sure if kkaennip rice is a thing. If not, then I guess now it is, at least in our household.

Chateau Peyraud

Sherry-Lehmann does an "Unsung Heroes of Bordeaux" series where they pick lesser known reds from Bordeaux that are a good value. I picked out the cheaper ones from that series in a recent wine order, and Mabel and I have been going through them.

This bottle in particular was really good. This is Sherry-Lehmann's description:
Chateau Peyraud 2003

Powerful and full, the wine from this small estate neighboring St. Emilion offers great value in Bordeaux excellence. Look for some sweet tanins, woody aromas and some cassis on the nose and in the mouth. One of our most popular Unsung Heroes.

I think it's great. It was only $9.95, but I would never have guessed. I've been told that price does not correlate to quality or enjoyability of wine, and I've been wanting to believe it. This is the wine that demonstrates that point.

Chateau Peyraud 2003 o

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cafe Grumpy

I just picked up some coffee beans from Cafe Grumpy.

I was especially disappointed in the cup of coffee I made this morning from beans roasted at Porto Rico Importing Company, and I decided that it was time for a change.

Jason first told me about Cafe Grumpy a few years ago. It used to be his neighborhood coffee shop.

They were one of the first coffee shops in the city that starting using the Clover. It's the only place that I've had coffee made on a Clover, and the coffee made from those machines are definitely special. They are winey and complex. And they are more acidic, in a good way. I usually like coffee that tastes like dirt with no acidity, but the coffee from Cafe Grumpy is an exception. I love their coffee.

I didn't get them to brew me a cup today. I was more interested in getting some beans that I could brew at home. New York really does not have any exceptional coffee roasters that I've ever heard of, although I read that the situation might be changing soon. Cafe Grumpy has high standards, and I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to piggyback on their coffee picks.

They suggested a roast from Intelligentsia Coffee which is based in Chicago. The price was not cheap. If I can't tell the difference between it and the roasts from Peet's, then I might as well start doing mail order from Peet's again. I'll know by tomorrow morning.

Update 9/6/08
So I can definitely tell the difference between Intelligentsia's coffee and Peet's, at least with the specific Guatemalan roast I got from Grumpy. The coffee I made from Intelligentsia's beans was winey and complex. And more acidic, in a good way. Now I'm not sure if Cafe Grumpy is special because of the roasts they use or because of the Clover. It is probably because of both. A test is in order. I saw that Porto Rico Importing Company has a Clover in their Bleecker Ave shop, so I'll have to try out a cup of coffee there before I draw any more conclusions.

Cafe Grumpy
224 W 20th St (btn 7th and 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10011