Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Today In New York

Overheard on Canal Street today from whiny 8yr old child to Mom in the middle of a group of ten very slow family members:
"Mom, when are we going to see the pretty part of Chinatown?"

Overheard on Manhattan Avenue as said by weepy goth girl into her cell phone:
"The whip nicked the front of my shoulder. I have a mark...Yes, I always let them flog my back, and that was okay and went well but I can't believe one of them went that far this time.... I can't really deal with this!"

Seen driving on Manhattan Avenue:
Kid with mohawk fully up in punk regalia, in brand new Mercedes convertible.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I am on my first three week vacation in about six years, so posts will be sparse through Labor Day.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Steroids & Southern Food

Here is the best new quote about food I've seen recently, as said by former Negro Leagues star Sidney Bunch of Nashville, TN:

"Our steroids were white beans, cornbread and pig's feet."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Eatin' Out - Midtown lunch roundup

From 39th to 51st, btw Madison and 8th Avenue

I'm moving from this hated job to this new, hopefully fantastic one starting after Labor Day. My years of research into Midtown lunch are going to go to waste down there on Mercer Street! Here's a round-up of some the places that made me happy and filled me up over the past 6 years.

PRIME BURGER (5 E. 51st btw 5/Madison): hands down, my all-time favorite diner. They have individual tables that swing out, like a grade school desk, decor that hasn't changed since the early 60s, homemade pie, excellent burgers (make sure you ask for any extras beyond meat, bun and cheese) PLUS grilled cheese and tomato soup are always on the menu. Home of the nicest staff ever, who always remember me and say "Where have you been?" when I don't show up for awhile. Gene Shalit once harrassed me here and a waiter sang "Wichita Lineman" to me while I ate.........ZAIYA (18 E 41st btw 5/Madison): Almost solely responsible for the weight gain I've experienced since my job moved near here in March. Japanese pastries (cod roe gratin, tuna melt, cheese dome), take-out sushi, bento boxes, crustless tea sandwiches, aloe vera juice and Beard Papa's creme puffs. Very cheap, always insanely crowded. Half price late in the day..........AKDENIZ (19 W. 46th btw 5/6): Mediterranean Turkish cuisine, good cold appetizers like taramasolata and babaganoush, plus traditional turkish entrees like shish kababs, gyros and lots of other things made with lamb..........BERGER'S (44 W. 47th btw 5/6): basic Jewish deli, a little pricey but perfect when you must have whitefish salad on a bagel or a pastrami sandwich..........CARVE (8th avenue/corner of 47th): Unique and amazing sandwiches, again a bit expensive, but the half and half (soup + sandwich) is a deal. Try the Fourth of July picnic (fried chicken, corn slaw on Tom Cat baguette) or the Far East Tuna (Crusted tuna with tempura flakes and wasabi alioli served on a big lettuce leaf..........SAPPORO (152 W.49th btw 6/7): Japanese ramen noodle place, good all the time but serving in the summer only, Hiyashi Chuka, which is a bowl of cold noodles in a slightly sweet broth, topped with ham, chicken, egg, fish cake, green onion, shredded ginger, cucumber, and corn. Awesome.........KWIK MEAL CART (Southwest corner of 45/6th Ave): The chef here apparently used to work at the Russian Tea Room, if that matters to making some really good kababs out of a cart. Chicken, or for a couple bucks more, a damn good lamb kabab.........MONSTER SUSHI (46th btw 5/6): Home of the yellow tail special roll, which includes salmon roe. Good, solid sushi place..........And of course, my old standby, AU BON PAIN (located damn near everywhere). Ham & cheese croissants, salads, gay sandwiches, and half price pastries after 4pm.

A few others: Red Flame Coffee Shop, Virgils (mainly for the Hush Puppies with maple butter), Trin-Paki Boyz cart on 43/6th, Citarella for takeout, Amy's Bread on 9th Avenue, Grand Central Food Court and Pret a Manger.

I Hate Perfume

For my birthday this year, Anne gave me one of the neatest gifts I have ever received. Christopher Brosius, who originally developed scents for Kiehl's and Demeter, now has a shop/gallery in Williamsburg on Wythe Street. For a secret birthday gift fee (maybe $75?), you can go in and get a session with Christopher himself, who will help you select scents based on your descriptions of what you liked in the past, what your favorite smells are and simply by sitting down for an hour and whiffing loads of his 200+ unusual scents. You can pick one or two you like, or with additional visits (definitely on my agenda), he will work to develop a scent especially for you by blending 4 or 5 accords together.

He's been written up in tons of fashion mags as a "perfumer to the stars", and recently developed a scent with Alan Cummings that includes notes of scotch, heather and pine. Chris' scents include everything from Cut Grass to Amaryllis to Mediterranean Sea to Doll Head to Roast Beef. An interesting and a passionate guy about the art of perfuming, Christopher told me he often makes a scent just to see if he can, even if people wouldn't wear it alone. He gets continual requests for Wet Dog and Puppy, but hasn't mastered these quite yet.

Now will you forgive me for walking around smelling like Black Tea and Salad Greens?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Eatin' Out - Katsu-Hama

11 East 47th Street
btw 5th/Madison

As I wrap up my stint of working in midtown, some of my favorite lunch places over the past 6+ years must be acknowledged. This one's a old standard, carrying a $10 tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet) lunch special that can't be beat. Served along with the cutlets are miso soup, a small dish of japanese pickles, rice and a light cabbage salad. I've never had anything else here in the 25 times I've been, so who knows if the rest of it is any good. But I think the all-Japanese crowd that packs this place during lunch is a decent indicator that the rest of the menu is also tasty.

Enter the curtained door to the restaurant after passing through the Japanese take-out in front. You'll start by getting a mysterious dish full of sesame seeds that you smash up with a pestle, and then pour the brown dipping sauce into. Watch the japanese folks around you if confused. Grab some breaded pork and dip. Yum.

Eatin' Out - Mama's Empanadas

42-18 Greenpoint Avenue
Sunnyside, Queens
7 train to 42nd Street

Although empanadas are really The Haas' area of expertise, I feel I can adequately fill in for her. I mean - who doesn't love a deep fried filled pie?

I zipped up to Sunnyside to pick up a few hot pockets of deliciousness from Mama's Empanadas prior to seeing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the ghetto Center Cinema on Queens Blvd (PROS: only $7 for first run moves, close to my house CONS: its like sitting in someone's basement; people bring their babies to 'nap' during the movies...Although I guess I fit right in since I was rustling around and munching down on a big ol' bag of empanadas before the movie even started...)

They've got abot 30 different kinds of empanadas, including stuff like a pizza empanada (mozzarella & tomato sauce), a rice and bean patty, and a cheese, ham and pineapple patty. I went more traditional, sampling a plain cheese (fabulous), a beef (dry and flavorless), and the piece de resistance - a fig, caramel and cheese pie. The thing was like molten lava in the theater but holy crap -- was it good. Next time, I'm going for pork, and guava and cheese. They also have loads of batidos naturales, but the service was so slow, I was going to miss my movie if I waited another 25 minutes for my drink.

At no more than $1.50 per patty, I'm seeing many trips up Greenpoint Avenue in my future.