Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lunch at Home

Mabel and I just came back from a very nice lunch at Home.

It's been under renovation for most of the summer and only re-opened recently. We pass by almost every day, and today we finally thought to give it a go.

They have a garden in the back that's adjacent to our building's backyard. The furniture's all new, some of the fencing is not even weathered grey yet. And they have outdoor heaters.

I got a salami sandwich which was good. It's how I would have wanted to make it myself. And they used a warmed soft ciabatta roll. Mabel got a fried oyster po' boy which was really awesome. It beats the Pearl Oyster Bar fried oyster roll, although I guess they're going for a different thing there. But still.

Anyway, the lunch was very simple, but you could tell the ingredients were impeccable. Nothing to dwell on, but it gave me a good feeling.

We will have to come back sometime soon for dinner. I imagine that this place is bound to get re-reviewed at some point. I haven't seen them with a full house yet, but that's not going to last for long.

Home Restaurant
20 Cornelia St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 243-9579

Friday, October 24, 2008

Joe's pizza with pepperoni

Yesterday while my bike was getting stolen, I went to Joe's Pizza and brought back lunch. Now I usually just get cheese, but I wanted a change, so I got pepperoni.

I got a large chunk of pepperoni on one of my slices. I guess things equal out in the end. I lost a bike that day. But I got extra pepperoni for free.

My bike's last day

Woe is me. My bike got stolen yesterday. It was in the backyard of my building. Someone stole it between 12:30 PM and 3:45 PM, right after I finished truing the wheels.

I wonder if it was someone in the building. Maybe they saw me working on it. The only people who can get to the backyard are people with keys to the building. I will never know.

I knew this day would come. I have been preparing myself, as this Bike Snob post advises. But it still stinks.

At least I had a nice final ride on it.

On Wednesday, I needed to get out after a morning of reading. So I biked up 8th Ave to Central Park. I walked my bike through the Mall because it was such a nice day. And I ate a hot dog there while listening to a saxophonist. Then I headed to the Met and looked at the Jeff Koons exhibit on the roof which is ending this weekend.

I rode down to Tiffany's to get my mom's watch fixed, then over to Broadway and through Times Square where I almost ran over a pedestrian in the bike lane. I almost passed Madison Square Park without going to Shake Shack, but then thought better of it and got myself a Shack Burger. There was no line! And the burger was more delicious than I remembered it. I want to say that Shake Shack is my favorite burger right now, but I've been saying that about every hamburger I've eaten lately.

Anyway, I noticed the treehouse art installation in the park. It was neat.

From there I rode down to the Union Square Greenmarket. I picked up another stem of Brussels sprouts except these were really fresh and nice (the other stem was a bit ratty). And then I went home.

At least they didn't get my milk crate. I took that off before working on my wheels. Oh well.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saint's Alp Teahouse to go

We biked to Saint's Alp Teahouse after dinner to get some black tea milk tea to take home with us.

I walked in and the people up front ignored me for a few minutes. Rather than try to vie for their attention, I picked up a business card, called the number, walked out the door, watched someone pick up a phone in the back of the restaurant, and ordered our tea. It was done in less than 5 minutes. We saw someone bring it up front, and I went in and got it.

So, the in house service is still horrendous. But getting things to go is ridiculously quick.

Joe's Ginger

We just got back from getting soup dumplings at Joe's Ginger.

We tried going to Joe's Shanghai last night but the wait was about half an hour. That's not unreasonable, but I really didn't feel like waiting, so we went to Lei's Secret Restaurant instead.

I was telling Priscilla about it earlier today and she said that we should have gone to Joe's Ginger just down the street from Joe's Shanghai. This was something like the fifth time she has said this to me, but I keep forgetting about it. Well no more.

Priscilla's account of Ginger is that it's nicer, there's no wait, and the service is better. The prices are the same. The dumplings are just as awesome.

In a weird way Joe's Ginger is one of those places hidden in plain sight. It's in a weird way because it looks like a rip off of Joe's Shanghai, like Ray's, Original Ray's, and Famous Original Ray's, but it's totally not. It's like a double trick that's not meant to be a trick. It's hidden because people, myself included, think, hey that place is just trying to fool confused tourists into going there.

As we were locking up our bikes, I overheard a European tourist say to his friend that the line at Joe's Shanghai was really long. The friend said, what about Joe's Ginger? And the guy said, that's not the same thing. And I said, they're the same people.

They didn't follow us in. Maybe people like Joe's Shanghai for the frenetic environment and the energy of the place. I can understand that. But that's not what I'm after. I'm happy eating my soup dumplings now, and in peace.

Joe's Ginger
25 Pell St
New York, NY 10013

Sunday, October 19, 2008

First oysters of the season

I got two dozen oysters from Citarella today! It was the first time we had oysters since it has gotten cooler.

I got my favorite, Wellfleets, and my new favorite, Fisher Islands. The Wellfleets were better than the Fisher Islands this time around, so I guess my new old favorites are now Wellfleets.

I went to our new neighborhood Citarella (new to us). I was eyeing the rest of their seafood. It looks really good. I'd forgotten about fresh seafood, maybe I should get back into it. It looked like they had day boat sea scallops. The only other place I know that has those reliably is Balducci's. Anyway, I'll be going back sometime soon for some of those.

Citarella (Village)
424 Avenue of the Americas (at 9th St)
New York, NY 10011

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe's Dairy

After a shopping trip today, we happened upon Joe's Dairy! While it was open!

Mabel first tried to buy some cheese here a few months ago on her way back from work. She thought it looked like an interesting shop, stood outside reading the Times article posted on the front window, and went in. The guy running the counter said, "We're closed!" and she had to retreat.

But today we got them while they were open.

They sold the olive oil we like, Frantoia, for $22.99 a liter. That's like 20% cheaper than Murray's and a dollar less than Citarella, although a little more expensive than Fairway and Fresh Direct. But it was worth paying a bit for the convenience. Anyway, we got two bottles. And we got a small ball of salted mozzarella cheese.

The cheese was very good. It tastes homemade and tastes fresh. It was kind of squeaky. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but that's what it was.

Mabel wants to get the smoked mozzarella next time.

We passed by one of the new Banksy murals on the way from Joe's.

And on our street, I saw a bike tied up with a cable lock that was almost cut through.

It was tied up next to a Rolls Royce limo.

Joe's Dairy
156 Sullivan St (near Houston)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-8780

Friday, October 17, 2008

Slow roasted pork shoulder

I roasted a 5 lbs piece of pork shoulder for 19 hours from Wednesday to Thursday using this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

It turned out very well. Jen and Soes helped us eat it.

I forgot to take a picture of it before eating most of it. We were able to cut into and serve it with a spoon.

Anyway, this was the first of three 5 lbs pieces of shoulder we got from our pig. I'm looking forward to making the others.

Brussels sprouts on the stem

I went to the Greenmarket last Wednesday and found several stands with brussels sprouts on the stem! I brought one bunch home.

At $3, the price isn't bad. It takes a little extra time to cut them off, but I'd rather do that than go picking through a bin of them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Smell from outside my window

I've been working at home on and off for the past few weeks, and I've been noticing the smell of delicious baked goods in the afternoon when I have my window open.

For a while I assumed that it was someone from the building, but no home cook bakes that much.

But I just realized where it must be coming from. It has got to be from Rocco's Pastry Shop on Bleecker St! I wish that I couldn't smell it, because it makes me want to eat cookies.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul's Place

We went on a burger bender today.

After lab meeting, I was talking about burgers with a bunch of people in lab, and John said that all this burger talk was making him hungry. So either Priscilla or I said, let's get burgers! But we were the only ones willing to follow through. Anyway, I called Mabel and she called Hyman (they both had the holiday off), and we all headed to Burger Joint for lunch.

I love their fries. I got a shake. I was thinking that Burger Joint is my favorite place for a burger, when you factor in the fries. The only problem is that, like most other burger places, the meat seems to be underseasoned. Otherwise, it's great.

But for some odd reason, Mabel and I wanted more. I mean, we were full after lunch, but that just stoked our craving for burgers. So I took her to Paul's Place for dinner.

I like this place. I think I've been twice before, once around the time I first arrived in New York, and another time more recently. The most recent visit, I was with Ben C, we were waiting for a table, and for some reason I was trying to remember Macbeth's tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow speech. I was struggling through it until the guy waiting behind us started reciting it for me:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

I can never think of a quick rejoinder to that speech.

Anyway, Paul's is still as satisfying as I remembered it. Their burger is humongous.

The patty could use more salt, but I decided to salt it myself and it was even better. Good burger. And I like the vibe of the place. For some reason it reminded me of Philadelphia, in a good way.

Mabel says that Paul's burger is juicy but underseasoned. She still likes Burgers & Cupcakes best.

Paul's Place
131 2nd Ave (near St Marks Pl)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-3033

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Asparagus update 2

I haven't done the best job of keeping updates on the asparagus. But basically, between my last update in May and September, this has been the progress.

This picture was taken on September 6th.

My mom planted pepper plants in between the rows of asparagus. The asparagus are the bush-like plants with leaves like dill.

I took some pictures of unripe cherry tomatoes that day.

And here's a random picture of a mantis from June.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Purple cauliflower

I got this purple cauliflower last Saturday (Oct 4) at the Greenmarket.

I'd never seen purple cauliflower before. As I was buying it, a woman behind me asked the vendor if it tasted the same as regular cauliflower. He said yep. She asked if there was food coloring added. He said nope. Then she asked if it stayed purple after cooking, and he didn't really know how to answer. And then she asked me. And I said that there's only one way to find out.

Well, I can't really say if it tastes the same because when I prepared it, I steamed it. And I don't remember the last time I ate steamed cauliflower. I'm not the biggest fan (I bought it this time because I couldn't resist the purple) but this was really good. It might have just gotten me interested in cooking all kinds of cauliflower now.

Anyway, it definitely stays purple after cooking.

I also picked up a head of cabbage because it looked so attractive. I've been making a lot of cabbage soup lately.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Magnolia Bakery

We were riding our bikes back home from Socarrat and noticed that there was no line at Magnolia Bakery.

So we figured we might as well see what all the fuss was about.

It was ridiculously disorganized. There were signs saying where you should order and where you should pay, but the people working there didn't really seem to be taking orders. We asked one person where to take orders and she pointed to the counter. When we asked the counter person, she pointed to a table of cupcakes. I guess it's self serve? Fine with me. There were also something like 8 people working up front, but I couldn't figure out what half of them were doing.

Anyway, the price of the cupcakes seemed about right. We ate at a park across the corner from the bakery.

The cupcakes were tasty. I got just plain vanilla and Mabel got red velvet. The red velvet was pretty intensely red.

This bird preferred my vanilla cupcake.

I think it's evolutionarily programed to consider anything red to be poisonous.

It was really going at it.

I'm surprised that my phone had video.

Anyway, it's as satisfying as a cupcake should be which is pretty gosh darn satisfying. I liked how they did the frosting on top. We plan to drop in whenever there's no line.

Magnolia Bakery
404 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

Socarrat Paella Bar

Mabel and I just got back from eating at Socarrat.

She's post-call and I'm staying in to read and write, so we figured that we should make the most of our time at lunch. This place just got a positive Bruni review, and lunch seemed to be a good way to avoid crowds.

It was really very good. We got some fried artichokes to start, which were good, and Paella Valenciana which had snails, rabbit, and bits of pork ribs. From what I've read, Paella Valenciana is one of the more traditional paellas. Although there's no seafood, the snails gave it a nice shellfish taste. Mabel says that the snail shells were the most beautiful snail shells she'd ever seen. I would have taken a picture, but I forgot to put the battery in the camera.

Anyway, the paella was great. It was on the saltier side which I like. There were a few lima beans in there and some peas on the half shell, if that makes sense. It looked nice.

I would say that one of the main draws is this Spanish guy who works there. He seems like someone who could be running a tapas bar anywhere in Spain. I think that he must be the guy that Bruni refers to, going around and helping people dish out their paella. He suggested to us to leave the edges of the pan, and the socarrat, untouched until we'd mixed and eaten the center of the pan. And only at the end of the meal, to scrape and eat the socarrat. I like how that works. It's like a dish that they would do for you at a fancy pants restaurant: paella two ways. The soft paella and then the crunchy paella. Except in the case of paella at Socarrat, that's the only way to do it.

Socarrat Paella Bar
259 W 19th St (btn 7th and 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 462-1000

PS- This obsession with socarrat reminds me of the Korean Noo Roong Jee which is the burnt rice left over after cooking rice in a stone pot.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ground coffee at The Grey Dog's Coffee

I just picked up a bag of coffee from The Grey Dog's Coffee, and I am sorely disappointed. It was ground! I guess I must be a coffee snob because I assumed that any serious coffee place would only sell whole beans, or grind to order. It's going to go stale in a day and it cost the same as the awesome bag of coffee I got from Cafe Grumpy. I should have known! It came in a burlap souvenir bag. But I was out of coffee this morning and desperate.

It was ground too fine for my usual dual-mug-and-tea-strainer-faux-French-press method, so I had to dig up some old coffee filters and a mixing bowl. Not a bad cup of coffee, but definitely not what I had in mind.

Update 10/13/08
I stopped by today. The sign above of the coffee beans indicates that they have both whole and ground coffee. I guess I just took the wrong one. But they don't mark the bags themselves. Anyway, Cafe Grumpy remains my coffee bean purveyor of choice.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fried rice

Mabel wanted me to take a picture of some fried rice I made last week. Since we don't have a microwave, this is one of our ways of dealing with cold, leftover rice.

I pretty much just put in any vegetables that I can into it. But I especially like putting in corn for sweetness, bean sprouts for texture, sauteed onions for onion-ness, and carrots because I just always put in carrots. Scallions are always nice on top if we have them. This is great for leftover meat. I put in some leftover lamb this time. And I put in an egg just for fun.

Westpfal scissors for sale

I got some pictures of the Westpfal scissors when I picked up my knives on Thursday.

The old sign is pretty beat up. They're putting it up for sale. I put in a bid of $40 but someone who owns a barber shop on Long Island had already offered $100.