The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Balthazar, Cuba, Soy, and lavender-ish feet

another view

We did it! We...saved the whales.

I mean. We...ate the bread.

complimentary bread basket the other bread basket
excessive bread baskets

Jessica and I indulged in Balthazar's bread basket. No, not the free one, the $15 one. I mean, we ate both. Um.

Because I'm cheap, everything at Balthazar seems to cost a lot more than it feels like its worth. In Norway, these prices wouldn't seem so off-putting. BUT I'M CHEAP, OKAY?! Actually, $7.50 for each of us to sample five of Balthazar's goodies wasn't a bad deal. We only managed to eat a little more than half of the basket in addition to the other things we ordered before feeling like our stomachs were going to explode in a shower of wheaty partially-digested delights.

So what delights did we digest (hopefully to the full extent of digestive power by this point of the day)? Sticky bun, brioche, fruit focaccia, chocolate bread, and cranberry raisin pecan bread. My favorite was the brioche, which was so buttery that it reminded me of cake. A cake with a light brioche texture, at least. I love it when baked goods have excessive amounts of (good) butter; you can taste the difference. And probably feel it in your hips later. The cranberry raisin pecan bread was my second favorite as I'll like just about any bread with a combination of dried fruits and nuts. The chocolate bread was my least favorite since it only tasted faintly of chocolate (there were some chunks in the bread, but not in any of the slices I tried!). If eaten in a blind taste test, I'd probably have trouble discerning the flavor. Of course, in a non-blind taste test its deep brown color kinda gives it away.

onion soup innards..esque
onion soup

I ordered the onion soup after hearing a few people say they loved it so much that they'd run over cute baby puppies to get it (okay, I made that up—the puppies have to be ugly). The little bowl quickly arrived at the table and presented me with disgruntled golden cheese quietly bubbling off the perimeter of the crusty mass of...stuff. More cheese. Seemingly endess strands of soft, melted, liquidy curdled milk stretched off my spoon as I attempted to consume the large globular cheese chunks nesting inside the spoon like rotund malformed babies made of mayonnaise (which makes no sense, but I'm sticking to my simile). Uh. How the hell do people eat this stuff? Cheese got all over my face, pretty much.

Oh, it was very yummy. Lots of cheese, lots of broth-soaked bread, not a lot of onion nor broth (I suspect it all got soaked up by the bread), but lots of cheese...which I already mentioned. Due to the density of stuff packed into the small bowl, I could only eat about 2/3rds of it (or whatever you don't see in the photo, which looks like a deflated half of the original contents). Of course, I also ate all that bread from the two bread baskets.

The restaurant wasn't crowded at 10 AM, but by the time we left shortly after 11 the place was packed and there was a hoard of people around the door waiting to plop their bums into one of the tighly packed tables. Like the first time I ate at Balthazar I thought the food was good, but not so awesome than I'd feel compelled to made repeated visits. Unless someone else footed the bill.

After brunch, I met up with John and roamed around, which proved to be a not so good idea because...

oops, rain

...someone gave the sky a diuretic. Actually, more like a bucket of diuretics. Maximum strength. He accompanied me to the Camper store where I bought my first (and maybe last) pair of footwear for the year to replace the shoes I stupidly wore that morning that weren't even mine (property of mum) and whose cushiony properties were deceptively comfortable. The evil shoes showed their true colors after I started walking around in them (good idea, yes) and found that they fit rather unwell, turning "Robyn, whose posture is already pretty bad" into "Robyn, who looks gimpy." The result of the evil shoes was the addition to my left pinky toe of something that resembles those plastic bubbles on plastic bubble wrap, except instead of being full of air, it's full of lymph.

I think I just gave you too much info. Just be glad I didn't take a photo of it.

Oh, the funky thing about the shoes is that the top cloth part is actually a pocket that holds...whatever. Fresh from the store, they come pre-packed with dried lavender. The result is that after walking around in them for a few hours, my feet smell like feet with a hint of lavender. Which is kind of an odd smell.

spot the human!...oh

On Thursday during my lunch break I went to Cuba with co-workers Tony and Jan. My experience with eating Cuban food is kind of...[thinks]...non-existent. Any American food south of Florida is kind of off my radar, sadly. It's not like I don't think it tastes good, but I guess I'm not very used to it.

black bean soup
black bean soup

The lunch specials come with black bean soup, a thick and hearty combination of black beans beans. I enjoyed the soup (I'm a fan of soups you can chew, not drink), but I think I have to build up a tolerance for the heavy feeling you will unavoidably feel after gulping down whole black beans swimming in partially liquified black beans. It's a lot of beans.

pork thing
pork thing

While I considered going for a healthier option, I ended up going for masitas de puerco, a dish with pork, potatoes, and onions accompanied by beans and rice. The other option, basically. I would've preferred slightly less-cooked pork, but I liked the dish overall. It had a strong citrus flavor that I couldn't discern until finding an online recipe that lists the marinade's ingredients as garlic, orange juice, olive oil, and...other stuff. My bean-speckled rice intrigued me; didn't I just eat a bucket of beans? The beans and rice mixed with the pork and potato chunks resulted in an alert to my brain to start forming a second stomach and the feeling of defeat that comes when I can't eat everything on my place, even if I want to.

crab cakes sammich
more foods

Tony gave his crab cakes a semi-positive thumbs up (good, but not something he'd order again) and Jan gave his sandwich (whose name I forgot...maybe it was the Cubano) and semi-negative thumbs down. On the upside, he said the roast pork sandwich he had before was a lot better.

guess what this place sells

For dinner I met up with John and took him to Soy, a cute little place serving homey Japanese food in the Lower East Side.

hijiki salad
hijiki salad

Hijiki is one of my favorite types of seaweed since it has some bite to it without being too chewy and it has a bit of a...meaty taste. Sea meat. Smeat.

Uh. So we shared the hijiki salad appetizer. It was good (duh, I like all hijiki), although not my favorite form of hijiki. I'm not sure why. [scratches head]

vegetable curry
it's not mud, or...something else

Because we're so adventurous, we both ordered vegetarian curry. It's like regular curry, but with blocks of tofu and soybeans instead of delicious meat chunks (they also offer a meat version). This curry in particular was a smidge higher on the spicy scale than other Japanese curries I've had, which was fine with me. BRING IT ONNN. I seriously love all Japanese curry, unless someone really screws up the water content or the flavor is so hot that I can't eat it (both very rare cases). Although I wanted to finish off the generous portion, my defeat culminated through the slow, nearly comatose act of spooning small bits of sticky, short grain rice mixed with viscous curry into my mouth while slurring, "Uhh, so full...SO TASTY, WHY?!" until I felt the need for a third stomach (the second stomach was needed after eating at Cuba). John finished off his plate, but that made sense as he didn't eat much lunch and he's a foot taller than I am.

sesame pudding
sesame pudding

Yet I still wanted dessert. There's always room for dessert, right? If you share a small cup, sure! The sesame tofu pudding was packed with black sesame flavor due to the bajillion pulversized black sesame bits. Creamy, light, smooth, delicious, and not squeezed out of a cow's udders. It's squeezed from beeeeeeeeaaans! I'd eat it again.

Service was kind of slow, but the women who work there were nice and I couldn't say we were in a rush to go anywhere. If I lived closer to Soy I'd probably go there a lot.

Alas, I live in Jersey. The homey Japanese food does not roam widely here. Doh.

Oh, and if anyone's wondering, the bread and cheese eating was a one-time thing. I'm back to no wheat as My asthma is just as bad as usual (I go into wheezing mode constantly, hoho!...I scare little children), but it can't hurt for me to cut out junky food. Lung constriction really sucks, in case you're not familiar with it. I have to eat less overall so I'd prefer that if anyone was thinking of asking me to eat out if you could save your request for later when my lungs decide to work properly again.


deborah / June 25, 2006 1:22 AM

robyn... you have made my day with this post. i am seriously thinking od dedicating a day of fooding to you... but how can i beat brioche likened to cake, cheeeeese, lavender feet, cubano's and japanese curry. you rock!

i hope you are feeling better soon!

sam / June 25, 2006 9:35 AM

that post brings back some recent sweet happy memories, Balthazar, the camper shop, the RAIN!!!

David W / June 25, 2006 11:36 AM

Robyn: we asians seem to have an affinity for asthma: an eastern doctor told me that it is possible to treat asthma with acupunture and herbs. Evidently they attempt to rid the lungs of excess mucus, which is the root cause (per eastern medicine) of childhood or adult asthma.
I enjoy your blog!

From Our Kitchen / June 25, 2006 11:40 AM

I'm the first one to comment, how exciting!

That basket of bread looks amazingly good. Brioche is one of my favorites. It's so light and fluffy and buttery. Someday I will make my own brioche!

I hope your lung constriction gets better soon. I'll miss my only "experience" with NY restaurants and such.

Daisy / June 25, 2006 12:00 PM

Hope your asthma gets better. My sister used to have asthma too but it's dormant now. It seems really hard to have.

Anyway, food's good as always.

Keep writing! :D

roboppy / June 25, 2006 2:26 PM

Deborah: I made your day? Were you having a particularly boring day? ;) I won't have another bread and cheese entry for a while, although hopefully there will be curry in the near future.


Sam: Oh yeah, rain is like buckets of cold, pelting liquid happiness!

David: I think Asians have an affinity towards acupuncture and herbs, hehe. My family isn't very big on medicine, east or west...although my mum would rather use herbs than drugs. My lungs are pretty much filled with mucus, yee-up! HACKCOUGHHACK!

From Our Kitchen: Oh noo, I'm afraid I just didn't approve the other comments before yours. I was sleeping...late, obviously. ;)

I hope you make your brioche with LOADS OF BUTTER! Mmm.

Visit NYC someday, then you can have the real experience, including the smells and the pollution! Bring some of your banana bread with you. (cough)

Daisy: My asthma was dormant for a while. Doooh. It had a lot to do with what I ate though, as in "less crap". Doh. [shuffles off to blow nose]

Jason / June 25, 2006 3:45 PM

Sorry to hear about your asthma. I don't have it myself, but I think you're really smart cutting out/limiting the wheat (well, gluteny-stuff) and dairy. I've found rice is a great alternative, although to much of it can be not so good too. Geesh, sometimes we just can't win. Hope you're breathing deeply and clearly soon! Take care.

Gerald / June 25, 2006 4:03 PM

Oh man! Let me know the next time you go to Balthazar! I can go with some bread basket indulgence anytime..

Annie / June 25, 2006 6:27 PM

Can you stand to have silken tofu in chicken broth (Swanson's low-salt for choice) with fresh scallions and a little light soy sauce mixed with ponzu? Light, no fat, no crap, good for what ails you. Unless one of those ingredients is a well-known harbinger of asthma and I don't know it.

piccola / June 25, 2006 9:28 PM

Ooooh I've been meaning to try SOY for a long time, glad to hear you liked it! Sadly none of my friends are into that kind of place ("What? It's named after beans??") so I'll have to go alone... :-(

roboppy / June 25, 2006 10:53 PM

Jason: [wheeeze]

I CAN EAT SO MUCH RICE! It's horrible. I've switched to potatoes for a while and they fill me up pretty quickly. And they cook faster than rice, so hoorah!

[end wheeze]

Gerald: Damn, you should've come and then the three of us could've better tackled the bread basket. I don't think I could get it again...just too much freakin' bread! (Yeah, did I just say that?)

Annie: I could stand to eat that soup, but I'm not a big fan of...brothy soup. :O Or tofu. I don't hate them, just don't feel the need to eat them much, unless the alternative sounds worse. The remedy for minor sicknesses in my house is to drink a lot of water, take a lot of vitamin C, and otherwise do healthy things. Which reminds me, water tiiime!

piccola: I had SOY on my "eat list" for a while too! It's not just vegetarian stuff, I hope your friends know. Or are they not fans of homey Japanese food? [gasp] That's my favorite kind!

Kathy / June 25, 2006 11:22 PM

Yay! Black sesame pudding - I think I'll automatically love black sesame anything, as far as that goes. I always meant to try to bread basket at Balthazar but $15 was litttttle off my bread budget. Lol. Oh man, but brioche. I'm envious, Robyn! Did you have a chance to pass by Smac? I think it opened up earlier this week (12th st but 1st ave), dunno if you're a mac and cheese fan...but it sounds interesting enough (there's on with figs in it!)

roboppy / June 26, 2006 11:02 AM

Kathy: I haven't been to Smac yet, but I don't think I will for a while since I'm avoiding wheat and dairy...and that's a combination of the two! Oops. Sounds good though (I like mac n cheese) especially with figs!

Anne / June 26, 2006 1:16 PM

Hey Ro,

Not to make you worry about something else, but you know that hijiki has high levels of arsenic in it. Yup. It's my favorite too and I'd eat it til the cows come home but apparently there are some sort of regulations on it in New Zealand, Canada and a few other places. I normally wouldn't stop eating a fave food due to something as ridiculous as arsenic but then's ARSENIC! Read about it here:

I still eat it but ya know....not in large amounts. I figured you'd be interested since you study food for a living!

Jessica "Su Good Eats" / June 27, 2006 11:31 PM

Boo, Balthazar, ha ha! There's better, cheaper food to be had. BTW, Schiller's (same owner) in the LES has the Balthazar bread basket for $12. Hey, how come your food pictures always look better than mine, even though we use the same camera? Are you editing them? I use Picasa (if I'm lazy) or Photoshop.

Simon / June 29, 2006 5:41 PM

What's up Robyn? Yeah I've heard about SOY from lots of people - great post. I'm going to head down and check it out myself.

Yeah Hijiki rocks!

Something random from the archives