Sarah and I just can't stop eating. CAN'T STOP. No one is safe! Hide your children!...if they're tasty and features on menupages or chowhound.
A quick look around menupages brought us to Calcutta for dinner on Monday night. Neither of us had eaten on "curry row" (which isn't totally Indian, but whatever) nor did we eat Indian food often. So naturally...we had to get Indian food.
Dude with a sitar! I have no idea if restaurants in India feature musicians, but I guess that helps to set the mood when you're in the East Village. Nice touch.
Sarah and I had a hard time figuring out what to eat. We didn't really have favorites, aside from "things made of wheat", and we didn't know how big the portions were. After staring at the menu long enough for the sitar player to complete playing, and maybe writing a symphony (a sitarphony!...wow, that was horrible), we settled on two appetizers, a main course, and an order of bread. Just so you know, that's at least one appetizer more than we needed. Ah. Whatever.
But before that, we were given a basket of flatbread cracker things that I'll call papadum for now since thats what google tells me they are. Very light, thing, and very...flavorful. Flavored. With. Tasty. Things. Dammit, I don't remember; it was four days ago! Eat the free flatbread, eat it! And smother it in various sauces, none of which I can really describe to you because I have the memory of a goldfish (and I'm talking stupid goldish, not the smart ones with attention spans of 10 seconds as opposed to 0.5). They came in green, brown, and chunky red stuff (er, tomatoes). Mmmm...I liked "green".
We didn't expect one order of pakora to include four golden fried dough balls. Oh. Jeez. You can't go wrong with fritters, especially if they're sweet and contain banana. Although the description "banana fritters" would lead one to believe that they're mainly banana, there's really only a tiny chunk of banana in each ball. However, the soft dough is chewy, slightly moist, not crumbly, and IT'S FRIED, SO IT'S AUTOMATICALLY DELICIOUS. The first thing that came to my mind while chewing on my first bite (yes, I chew..sometimes) was a donut, but it's denser than that. It's not very dense, nor light. It's a bit fluffy and squishy. Bottom line: I liked it enough that I'd want to eat it again. That's all you have to know.
Samosas are lovely stuffed fried wheat pastry things. Ours were stuffed with vegetables, such as potatoes and other things that can't moo, oink, or make some other animal-esque sound. Mmm. It's like a pasty, a miniature savory pie that isn't pie shaped. And I'm going to stop attempting to describe it now because this is turning from "bad" to "craptastic."
Hellooo, pile of fluffy, chewy, onion-bit-ed bread. HOW YOU DOIN'? Sorry, but your life will be short. Sarah and I love you so much that we have to masticate you, digest you, and poop you out to in order to express our deep burnin' love (and the acids do burn). ...It's not a very pretty relationship, but you're just too tasty. Now you must die.
Ooh, glorious Indian rice. I love sticky, short-grain Chinese and Japanese style rice, but I also love fluffy long-grain Indian rice. I LOVE ALL RICE. GIVE. TO ME. THE CARBS. I also love almond slivers. Almonds slivers + rice = lovely.
Unfortunately, I can't describe all the flavors in lamb malai. At the very least, I remember that it wasn't spicy and my assumption is that it's made of coconut milk and "stuff". Stuff probably includes spices. Maybe fruit. Maybe not. What I am sure about is that the lamb was moist (no duh, it was swimming in sauce) and tenderlicious. BOTH TENDER AND DELICIOUS!...okay, you figured that one out. Good job.
One of the coolest things about this restaurant was the dude in the back behind glass, makin' stuff. We'd watch him knead dough, put meat on deathly skewers, pull deathly skewered meat out of the pit, shape bread on round thingy that probably has a real name but of course I don't know what it is, pull fluffy bread out of the pit, etc. It was the magical bread room, with some meat I cared less about. My god, I want one. Bread room, I mean.
We were stuffed by the end of the meal. Despite the tastiness of the bread, we couldn't eat it all (don't worry, Sarah took home the leftovers). The total damage was about $12 per person, a great deal for the amount and quality of food...plus the constant attention paid to our water glasses. Hydration is a good thing.
I don't normally eat two times in a week with the same person (we've actually eaten four times together in a week-long period...whoa!), but that's because the other person isn't usually so "OMG LET'S EAT!" like I am. However, Sarah is an "OMG LET'S EAT!" kind of person, so on Thursday night we headed to Caracas Arepas Bar in the East Village for some arepas, aka "sammich-esque corn cake stuffed with stuff".
This place is tiny (if I had to guess, there may be around 16 seats). It wasn't too crowded at around 6:30, but there were some people waiting outside by the time we left. An open kitchen looks over the the room of tiny tables and chairs. But tiny is cute and cozy! ...Unless you're a normal sized human, in which case it could be kind of uncomfortable. Besides that it's cozy, the walls are colorfully decorated with photos and knick knacks in a neatly cluttered way that showed some personality, as opposed to the TGIF way which is...actually, I haven't been to TGIF in a long time so I don't even remember if it's one of those places with "flair" all over the walls. Er. TGIF was cooler when I lived in Taiwan and didn't care much about food. Then again, I ate a lot of McDonald's there too. Let's forget that.
While I don't usually go for drinks, I've just decided to go on a "milkshake mission". If you have any suggestions as to where I must get my lactose on, leave a comment. I ordered the caburada , a banana milkshake with a touch of cinnamon. Initially, I was confused since I thought I ordered the coconut milkshake, but after taking a sip and deciding it tasted more like banana I realized....I either said banana or they got my order wrong. Hmmm...it's a mystery. The shake was not overly-banana flavored, but it definitely had a thick, banana texture. The thickness level was great (straw sucking goodness), the texture creamy (although not uber-creamy, perhaps more icy than milky if that makes any sense) and the flavor wasn't too sweet. I finished it. Duh.
I ordered the special arepa of the day, which was stuffed with sliced chorizo (pork sausage), pernil chunks (pork...um, just pork), and plenty of guacamole. While the arepas are small, this arepa was filling due to containing roughly a baby pig's worth of meat in cured meat and tender, moist meat forms.
I'd take a bite and then...my god, another pork bit would pop out. It was like my sandwich was preggers with a gazillion baby pork bits. TOO MANY FERTILITY DRUGS, PERHAPS ...Keep in mind that I don't usually eat a lot of meat, so if you do love meat, this probably won't seem like a lot of meat. However, it seemed neverending to me (maybe because everything was disguised until a sea of guacamole, mmmm), which was kind of cool. Sarah tried a bite of mine and I a bit of her la del gato arepa (guayan�s cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices); she liked mine so much that she ordered one for herself. Her la del gato arepa was good too, but not as filling as my porky preggers arepa.
While it's certainly affordable, you don't really get a bang for your buck. (Tiny's is definitely a bang, for example.) What's a step lower than a bang? A poke? Can you get a poke for your buck? ...What the hell does that mean? Er. Well, it was tasty and I would like to eat more arepas, but I'm not dying to go back. (I wouldn't be opposed to going back if anyone else wants to try it though. Their menu is pretty large and I didn't get to try any desserts.) However, it's nice to finish a meal without consequently feeling like you have to be wheeled out of the restaurant on a flatbed truck (since, you know, that's the only thing that will comfortably accomodate your girth). I'd say this place is worth trying. Next stop: Venezuela!