My main reason for eating out so often is because...I like da foods. The process of shoving tasty things into my mouth and maneuvering my jaw in such a manner so that my teeth may best crush up the bits of tasty things and send them along the lengthy, squishy, mucus-lined journey through the series of digestive tubes so that I may reap the alimentary benefits or gain another subcutaneous layer of fat fills whatever part of my brain that feels joy with...joy.
[That sentence was much, much longer than I had planned it to be.]
But there's another good reason for eating out so often. (Of course, there are many good reasons, assuming your budget can handle it.) Going to NYC from my suburban home in NJ means I have a reason to get the hell out of NJ and be mildly distracted by food and friends in NYC. Which is nice. Especially since I just realized one reason why spending the past semester in Paris was so awesome; I had very little stress. Family problems were left behind, possible friendship issues were put on hold, and even if I did need cheering up, I knew just where to get a delectable baguette or macaron (which I would eat no matter what mood I was in) to make things superficially better.
I don't want to appear overly spoiled, but...I probably am. I think about it every now and then—that I have a lot, that I probably don't deserve it, that I feel guilty for not deserving anything I have, but I don't hate it enough to reject it all. [shrugs] I assume that karma will get me in the end and by the age of 35 after a string of failed careers I'll end up living in a ditch, clinging onto a plank of discarded wood that I'll name Stabby and regard as my only true friend.
...Wow, I really need to not write when I'm in a funny mood. This is why I sometimes go so long without updating, in case you're wondering. I do have a fit blogging state; this ain't it.
But I have a lot of catching up to do, so HERE I GO, OHH HOLD ONTO YOUR STOMACHS KIDDIES!!@!#!@
Last Tuesday I went on a "let's revisit some of my favorite places in NYC" fooding tour with Lee Anne, one of my best friends visiting from Arizona. We met up with my friend Amy at our first stop, Taim, also known as my favorite falafel-rie. Unintentionally, we all ordered the same harissa falafel pita, the spiciest of the three falafel choices. Happiness is a warm, soft, slightly crunchy pita pocket filled with light, crispy falafels with just the right amount of whatever tasty sauce they put on it along with the raw chopped vegetable salad stuff and...yeah, I'm going to stop talking about it because my words will only bring down its quality. I want to put this sandwich on a satin pillow and gently fan it with an obscenely large feather plucked from the most beautiful bird on the endangered species list.
...uh, what did I say? I don't know. [shakes head]
At my insistence, we shared an order of long, skinny french fries presented in a curvacious, shining white porcelain bowl and accompanied by little tub of homemade saffron aioli that is roughtly 1035.6% better than ketchup. Do fries go with falafel sandwiches? Hell, as far as I can tell, fries go with everything. I know what would be even better—if the fries were inside the sandwich! Ah-ha, I smell a winner. TAIM, ARE YOU LISTENING? (...Probably not. Maybe I will experiment with my own fries-and-falafel sandwich. Uh huh, you know you want it.)
With bellies full of fried chickpea mash, we went to City Bakery despite not being hungry at all. Then again, you don't have to be hungry to eat their chocolate chip cookie; your stomach will expand to make room for the crispy, chewy, brown sugar-and-butter laden disk of awesomeness. It's still my favorite chocolate chip cookie.
Although the chocolate chip cookie has just the right amount of chocolate so that the rest of the buttery cookie-matter isn't oberwhelmed, CB's hot chocolate is likely to put you in a chocolate coma after a sip or two. (It actually takes me more than one cup to get to the coma stage, but this isn't something you want to learn from experience.) Lee Anne was quickly beaten down by the cup of molten chocolate and ended up asking for a cup of hot water to mix it with. After she mixed a cup of possible half water, half hot chocolate, the result was still disarmingly strong. Dude, that's scary. But at least you get your money's worth in liquid chocolate goo.
After parting ways with Amy, Lee Anne and I roamed around the Lower East Side and stopped at Teany for the sake of sitting inside somewhere for as long as we wanted to without having tospend a lot of money. Since I'm not much of a tea drinker, I ordered a red cooler, "a blend of mint and raspberry teas with cranberry juice". It tasted like...the description. Lee Anne ordered a pot of tea whose name I don't remember, but I suppose she really liked it since she refilled her pot once and took away the extra tea in a huge cup.
At 6PM we met up with Sarah, her sister, her sister's boyfriend, her friend, her other friend, and her other friend's boyfriend (check out how many names I can remember...dammit, I suck) for dinner at Cafe Mogador. Sarah (who you know, if you've been reading my blog for a while, was a prominent fooding partner during the spring 2006 semester) is originally from Kansas City and she and her friends (who aren't all originally from KC, but whatever) were only visiting NYC for a short while. Awwww. Poop. :[ Thankfully we got a good night of fooding in.
Although I would've loved to have eaten the tagine I had from my first visit to Cafe Mogador again, the "Hudson Valley Duck Confit served with baby arugula, balsami reduction and french fries" was obviously meant to spend its last moments of existence in my stomach. Aside from the fries, which were a bit limp, it was just as good as any duck confit I had in Paris. The tender meat practically detached itself from the bone and the skin had that intense layer of squishy fat coated by a thin shield of crispy fat that makes you feel all warm and happy inside...because of the impending factor of death. Or deliciousness. A bit of both, probably.
Annnd because I'm lazy and know you like photos, here are a bunch of photos of stuff other people ate. Many plates were cleaned, many stomachs were happily stuffed.
It was sad to part ways with Sarah, but she loves NYC so much that I'm sure she'll be back this year. Or should I visit Kansas City? [rubs chin]
Since Lee Anne and I were quite sickly, we slept in the next day with the plan of doing nothing that could be labeled as "productive". Oh, how we succeeded. GO US!
She gave me a box of chocolate truffles made by her aunt and uncle's chocolate company in El Salvador, which has a website that I cannot remember because I don't have the box on me at the moment. I sucks. What I do know is that you can't buy them in America, so...eh. It's our loss. They're tasty! While I don't usually like fruit filled truffles, these fillings weren't too sweet or oddly sticky like I've found others to be. I ate them for breakfast! Hells yeah. I'm not a nutritionist, I don't care.
another long day of fooding
Even before I went to Paris, I wanted to go to Le French Diner more than any other French restaurant I knew of in NYC. Why? It's small. Accessible. Doesn't cost a crapload. Neighborhood-ly. Whatever that means. Basically, a place I could feel comfortable in. There I met Carol, one of my oldest friends from middle school, before going on a whole afternoon of wandering and eating.
Although I had a perfect spot by the window to get a photo of the whole interior, I was too slow and ended up chickening out. Oops. It's small. Check out Noah's interior shot. From that point of view there's a table for four, a two-seater on the left and a four-seater on the right if you really squish in. Carol and I somewhat awkwardly stood in between the filled seats (meaning that I repeatedly unintentionally poked the backside of a poor young woman) as we waited for people to leave.
And then a party of four finally left as we uncomfortably hovered next to them. SCORE! It's sandwich time.
I ordered Le Poulet de Belleville, a toasted baguette filled with grilled chicken, melted goat cheese, and ratatouille. It kind of reminded me of Crosby Connection's chicken mama mia, but small and without the "innards exploding all over the bread" factor. I love a sandwich whose viscera don't splodge out all over my hands. The baguette was okay, not flimsily soft but without the jaw-aching chewiness of the crackled crust, hole-filled baguette that I quickly grew to love in Paris (if you looked in the right places, at least). Overall I enjoyed the sandwich for having just the right amount of ingredients to neatly fill its bready container and for being the perfect size to satisfy my stomach without making me feel preggers. I have nothing to complain about the accompanying crispy, salted fries. If only I could swoon over the baguette...
Carol ordered Le Saumon Fume Crudite, composed of smoked salmon, thick tomato slices, salady stuff, hard boiled egg, cucumber, mayo, and basil. I'm not sure what else to say about it besides that I liked the one bite I had. Yes, I'm feeling lazy again in my food descriptions.
Their menu is pretty huge; if you can't find something you like, you're too picky. I'm sure I have to go back just so I can try the duck confit. Bwahaha. That's my new goal, you know—to eat all the duck confit I possibly can. I don't have high aspirations.
We walked about a block to Sugar, a narrow bakery/cafe on the corner of Allen Street and Houston Street. Carol had a craving for iced coffee while I had a craving for nothing in particular, but bought an apricot hamentashen (or technically hamentash, but Yiddish is not a strength of mine) for the sake of eating something that I knew I'd like. Why do these simple, dense, tender, brick-like triangular cookies taste so good? Maybe it's the buckets of butter packed into each mouthful? And the eggs? And sugar? And whatnot? I'd be perfectly happy without the filling, but I do love the poppy seed filled ones from Moishe's Bake Shop. Which reminds me, I really have to go back there.
Despite being sickly full by this point, we walked to Egg Custard King Cafe at the edge of Chinatown seeking egg custard tarts, one of my most favorite foods in the world that I hadn't eaten in months.
We played it safe by deciding to only share one 75 cent Portuguese egg custard tart. Which was dumb because we could totally have eaten a whole one each. Or two. Like CB's chocolate chip cookies, your stomach will make room for the comforting warm, soft eggy goo in its flaky pastry shell.
I would love to see egg custard tarts take over the world as much as I'd love to see macarons in every pastry shop. COME ON, GUYS! Create the demand! For my sake! And for the rest of the world. Um. Yes.
I was amused by the cakes in the rotating display at Egg Custard King Cafe. They were no different from cakes at any other Chinese bakery, but if you've never seen them before then you may think they're funny. Or not. There's something about the way they're decorated that seems intricate and well thought out...but at the same time, not intricate or well thought out. I guess it depends what your design sensibility is. And don't get me wrong; I'd totally eat that cake draped with uniform mango slices. With help from a few other human beings, preferably.
Behold, the new sparkling jewel of Chinatown: Paris Sandwich. Oh my god. It's so not Parisian, but what matters is that they tried! And by "tried" I mean that their logo has the Eiffel Tower in it. SCORE!
The stars of their menu are the sandwiches (I would assume from the name of the place), but they also have various spring/summer rolls, meat and rice combinations, lots of desserts involving coconut milk and...baguettes! Probably not the most French of baguettes, but still...they have em. Carol bought what I think was labelled as a sweet baguette, a name that left out the key ingredient of "garlic" that the bread was seemingly soaked in. She said sweet garlicky things were common in Asia, so I'll take her word for it.
Carol departed for dinner, but I was joined by John, Pete, Aleks, Diana, Lee Anne, and her two friends from school in Arizona for pizza gorging at Numero 28. I will be beaten in a later life for being too lazy to link to all these people's websites and for forgetting the names of Lee Anne's friends. Oh yes. [sigh]
Our party of eight ordered four 18 inch pizzas, each one to be shared between two people. Lee Anne and I went with half margherita reginella (tomato, buffalo mozzerella and basil) and half pere (pears, gorgonzola, mozzarella and walnuts).
Charred, thin, soft, chewy crust of yum! Not overwhelmed by toppings! Yay! The gorgonzola was strong, but the mozzarella mellowed it out. Sweet, juict slices of pear and two-cheese goodness punctuated by crunchy walnut bits equates to AWESOME PIZZA. It's like a party in your mouth! With cheese! And fruit! And nuts. And dough. It's a weird party, I won't deny that.
If you can believe it, I didn't actually plan for us to eat dessert out after dinner until my friends suggested it. Yes, someone else had to implant the idea into my head of mobbing a sugar-laden eatery post-pizza coma. Although I led a beeline towards Cones, Lee Anne spotted the magic "GELATERIA" word in the awning for Pasticceria Bruno, so that is where we ended up finding frozen treat happiness.
Bruno loses for giving scoops instead of paddling multiple flavors into one cup and for reeeaallly not wanting to give out samples, but they win for having a $1.50 one-scoop cup (take-out only). That's cheap, yo. And it's damn tasty, so the negative points don't matter that much.
Pistachio is a good way to mark the awesomeness of a gelateria, in which case Bruno wins...something. Something good. The pistachio gelato is a non-scary greenish-yellowish-brownish color ("pistachio", essentially) and the flavor has that roasty feeling along with the...pistachio-ness...
Dammit, my brain is blanking out now because I know it's the end of the entry. I AM OVERLY EXCITED TO HAVE FINALLY REACHED THE END! Not that I don't enjoy writing blog entries, but...my god...this is long...aren't you tired?...I feel sleepies...
Oh wait, before I officially end, I'll have you know that I am so out of shape that I nearly threw up while moving into my new 6th floor apartment (the home of Jo Jo) today! Hehe! HEHE!
...My god, that is so disturbing.
For years I've had no problem walking for (flat) miles and feeling fine, but present me with a few flights of stairs and I may be ready to die. Thankfully my dad and Jo Jo did most of the lifting while I was left panting and bent over in nausea on the 4th floor, my entire body coated in a film of sticky sweat.
But I'm all good now. Back in NYC! I need to buy groceries!
222 Wavery Pl
Le French Diner
188 Orchard St
175 E Houston Street
Egg Custard King Cafe
271 Grand St
113 Mott St
235 Bleeker St