Sunday, November 30

Date Option: Union Square

dating in NY is a tricky activity. on-line and app dating even more so. if you make it over the initial hurdles of initiating conversations and maintaining a level of interest in someone that you have yet to meet (and i am a lazy texter and e-mailer. i text and e-mail the bare minimum to my friends, let alone a complete stranger), the next obstacle is the first in-person meeting.  you negotiate about activity (drinks, dinner, coffee, museum, park, movie), then the location (public of course, but where? east side, west side, uptown, downtown. we all inevitably want something convenient to us). 

more often than not, i tend to pick Union Square as a primary option, due to its key access to numerous subways and close train ride to my apartment. but there's only so many dates you can have at Coffeeshop or Lillie's or Rye House. so i'll throw a new option into the mix: Linen Hall.

to give you a little more background, my date was on a saturday night at 8 p.m. Linen Hall is on located on the stretch of 3rd Avenue that it littered with bar and restaurant options. but if you're looking for something in a more general, all-American theme, then look no further. 

the place has the old-fashioned wood bar with dark ambient lighting, so a great set-up for a date. not too crowded in the early stages of a saturday night. my date and i both got good seats at the bar, and comfortably enjoyed them for about 3 hours before the place started to get into full-swing saturday night in the east village. attentive bartenders and not too loud. just loud enough for you and your date to lean in and talk to each other, without having to shout.

and if it's food you're looking for, the menu has a nice variety to satisfy any food craving (assuming you're not looking for fancy crudos or upscale dining). my date and i only snacked, but the Disco Fries ($7) we ordered were the perfect bar fodder: crispy waffle fries topped with melted cheddar cheese with a hot side of gravy for dipping. i may not know what the future holds for me and my date, but i know he will always remember those fries. he actually told me so 2 days after our date.

Friday, November 14

feeling French

BlackSesame and I always try and find interesting and good meal deals so we can try out restaurants that we may not usually go to. this time, i had purchased a Travelzoo voucher for Mon Petit Cafe, which is a small french bistro. i mistakenly thought it was located downtown (as so many small french bistros are), but turns out it was located in midtown east, which was super convenient for me to get to after work.

when i arrived, there were mylar balloons decorating the restaurant. apparently they were celebrating their 30th anniversary and was serving their original 1984 menu, along with their regular menu.  due to the voucher, i didn't get to see their original menu, but it was a great concept.

the restaurant is tiny and can get cramped very quickly, but that can sometimes be the charm of a bistro. the service was generally good, although there was a significant lag time in the arrival of our appetizers, although we had ordered before other tables that had received theirs. this hiccup aside, the service had a very homey, neighborhood feel to it. 

BS and i shared appetizers of the Tartar de Thon (tuna tartar)($16) and the Escargots Maison (unshelled snails in garlic butter and Pernod) ($13). the tuna tartar was light and refreshing, with a sweet balsamic undertone. the 3 ridge chips served with it were soft and stale, so i recommend skipping those. the escargot was served piping hot, as BS quickly found out, and was very rich and savory from the garlic butter. both were good, but not particularly memorable.



for entrees, BS ordered the Hachis Parmentier de Canard (pulled duck confit with two root mashed potatoes) ($27).  BS was pleasantly surprised when he found out that the 2 root mashed potatoes were regular white potatoes and a sweet potato mash.  the duck is served in 2 ways, one with the regular mash and cheese on top and the other with the duck atop the mashed sweet potato.  it offers a nice contrast of flavor, and, if you didn't know the dish was to be served that way, a very nice palate surprise. the duck was also very tender and aptly described as pulled duck confit. the only thing i would note is that as an entree, this could be considered a little heavy, and the sweetness of the duck's flavor may become overwhelming over time. 

i ordered the Steak Frites (grilled NY Strip Steak with a choice of sauce and fries)($30) and opted for the bearnaise sauce (go big=go fat for me). this ended up being very very good. the steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and was the right amount of tenderness. the bearnaise sauce was served on the side, which allowed me to choose exactly how much, or how little, i wanted with my steak and fries. the fries came unsalted, but that was easily remedied by the small salt shaker available on the table. overall, this was the surprising hit of the night for me. usually, Steak Frites can be throw-away french bistro fare, done acceptably, but not well. Mon Petit Cafe did this dish very well.

all in all, including the bottle of wine, this was a very good deal for the meal we received. we both left with a fully satisfied, which doesn't always happen, unfortunately. and if ever in the neighborhood, and feeling a little french, i would consider dropping in for meal. 

Tuesday, August 5

something sweet and salty

i'm supposed to be watching what i eat.

and for the most part, i have. but on a recent lazy weekend, i found myself craving something sweet. like pastry sweet. and i realized how long it's been since i indulged in a true dessert.

considering the abundance of italian bakeries in my neighborhood, i figured i'd take a leisurely stroll down court street and peek my head into the shops and see if anything hit my fancy. around 11:30 a.m. (and it took all my willpower to wait that long), i rolled out onto the sidewalk on my mission for dessert.

first i rolled past Union Market. apparently 12 pm is too early for the market to be set up. none of the free samples had been set out (i love trying out their cheeses) and the displays for each food section hadn't been set up yet. it was a little like peeking behind the curtain while a performer's getting ready.

so i moved on to Court Pastry Shop. except 12 pm is too early for this bakery as well. i always thought bakeries were open at ungodly hours of the day, but it turns out i was wrong. when i walked into this small bakery, only 2 trays of pastries were displayed, and a bunch of cookies. the pastries didn't appear very enticing, and cookies, while delicious, is no pastry substitute. so i politely smiled and meandered on my way.

almost directly across the street was Caputo's Bake Shop. would they answer my pastry prayer? alas, not. they too suffered from the late-bakery-riser-symptom. i had just exited the shop to return home, a failure when i noticed a constant and fast-moving line of people purchasing bread. so i consulted with my trusty yelp app and discovered that Caputo's is well known for their lard bread and decided to take a leap.

and what a leap it was.

although i grew up in an italian suburb of New Jersey (Sopranos was filled 1 town over from me-that's how italian it was), i'd never heard of lard bread. clearly i was missing out.


the loaf given me was still warm and slightly crispy on the outside but soft and doughy on the inside. the pieces of ham (?), bacon (?), whatever it was, gave it a perfectly salty seasoned taste to it making it great to eat on its own, or with the burrata and tomatoes i later ate it with. the whole loaf cost $4.75 and lasted me the entire weekend (well, Saturday afternoon and Sunday brunch at least).

Thursday, May 8

Subway Shamed

i am by no means a skinny girl. and i blame no one except myself. i don't have any reason for not being skinny except for my love of food and loathe of exercise.

but am i fat?

sometimes yes, sometimes no. (i think) every woman, at least once a week (and that's being generous), feels fat at some point. whether it's because a shirt/pant/skirt/dress is a little too tight that day, or after eating a ginormous meal, or just catching an unflattering angle in the mirror, but everyone feels a little unfabulous sometimes.

and then, other times, you just feel like a big fat heffer.

which is what happened to me this morning on the subway. there were no seats when i got on the train, so i shifted into the middle of the train and stood in front of the bench on the 4/5.  within 10 seconds, a woman at the end of the bench waved at me and offered me her seat. i shook it off as someone being polite. "perhaps she's getting off at the next stop," i thought. then the gentleman next to her also offered me his seat. again, i politely rejected it, but i started to get that sinking feeling... then the skinny, 23+ year old woman sitting directly in front of me looked at me and said, "oh, here, have my seat. i'm sorry, i didn't see you."

and that's when i knew.  all these people thought i was pregnant (which i am most definitely not).

by the third offer, too much attention had been drawn to me and i was too ashamed not to accept it.

Tuesday, December 3

Japanese for Jews

so the title of this post is a little racist. i'm not actually sure that Kotobuki is Japanese cuisine for Jews. however, when i googled the restaurant, that's what practically every review and Yelp entry referenced. 

the food at Kotobuki doesn't indicate any Jewish heritage. instead, it's more like Asian fusion cuisine. at a very reasonable price. the only reason the restaurant doesn't "speak" to me is because i'm not a big sushi roll person. i usually go for the basic and plain options (yellowtail, Boston, Alaska, etc.) or else i go straight for sashimi. but if you're a big fan of crazy and inventive sushi roll combinations, then Kotobuki may be just the place for you.

i was at the restaurant at the suggestion of a date. i'd mentioned in conversation that i like Japanese food, so it was a good first step that he remembered my comment and chose Kotobuki for our first date. but he got a slight minus point for not liking salmon, which i am a big fan of. so in that spirit, i tried to order foods we could share that didn't have salmon in it.

i'd heard great reviews about their sushi and sashimi platters, which are served in portions for 2, 3, or 4. the price on these platters is more than reasonable when shared and, based on the pictures on-line, can usually feed more than the allotted people.

first off, i like the little yam noodle side dish they serve at the beginning of the meal. it's a little spicy, but in a good way.



My date chose:
1. Age Tofu ($5): this was actually very good. the sauce was light but flavorful, as it should be.  and the outside was crispy but the inside was still tender. i don't order this dish often, but if it's always served this way, i would order it more often.



2. American Dream ($9.50) (tuna, yellowtail, salmon, shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, cucumber, tobiko, and spicy mayo in a blended roll topped with sweet sauce): this was good, although it's really just a mishmash of fish and acceptable western sauces. 



I chose:
1. Hamachi Kama ($9.50): Kotobuki is the first restaurant i've come across that offers this in 3 ways (fried/broiled/marinated). usually, this dish is served broiled. the portion of this dish is huge but it was drier than usual. it also wasn't the most attractive dish to pick at while on a date...

2. Yellowtail Jalapeno ($14): a generous serving with delicate and tangy sauce.

(photo courtesy of Chopstick NY)
I also choice something that i can't currently find on the menu. The Viaduct is black pepper seared tuna thinly sliced and wrapped around lobster salad served on top of a cucumber slice. while the flavor was ok, the texture of this dish was way too mushy. maybe that's why i can't find it on the menu anymore...


i would give Kotobuki another try, if only to share a sushi and sashimi platter with friends. seriously, according to the pictures, the serving is very generous. otherwise, i'd rather stick to the less fancy but tried and true favorites on St. Marks. 

Thursday, September 5

Youngins

last night i went on a second date with a nice, adorable guy. 

who is 5 years younger than me. 

seriously, he's like a baby compared to me.

admittedly, when i went on my first date with him, i was more enticed by the restaurant he had picked vs. him. i had been reading a restaurant review for Psari and happened to get a text from the Youngin asking me to go to dinner at the same restaurant. and that's how i found myself on our first date. 

side note: Psari is off the hook good. if you like seafood, then absolutely run there. it's affordable and the food is very well cooked. the service is also affable and homey. we had the most adorable woman as our waitress. she was like my cool aunt giving us winks and nudges since we were obviously on a date. 
Seafood Combo ($30)
Grilled Octopus ($15): this was so good.
the date went well: he was easy to talk to and kind of adorable. 

which brought us to our second date. this time he came to my neighborhood (i won the coin toss) and we went to Brooklyn Buschenschank for some pizza (yes, it's a German bar. but it has a wood-fired oven and makes incredible pizza).
The Villager ($13)
Pretzel with Bier Cheese ($8): epic bier cheese, a little spicy, but the pretzel can get a little salty.
i forgot how perfect this bar is for a date. during the daytime/afternoon it's not bad either, but is suitable for both friend outings and dates. at night time, the place is dimly lit with only the candles on the tables providing the ambient light. très romantic. 

it was a pleasant date with nothing to really complain about. and i haven't really thought too much about where this whole thing is headed, since part of me considers him too young to be thinking about anything seriously. hence, we haven't had the "expectations" conversation yet.

what i did find interesting was the obvious "boldness of youth" that he had. most dates i go on, who happen to be closer to my age or older, tend to be reserved in the initial few dates, and that's fair, because so am i. 

so i was little surprised when, after we exited the bar, Youngin reached out to hold my hand for the walk back.it's a bold move for a second date. but also kind of sweet. people don't go for the simple hand-hold anymore during the casual dating phase of getting to know each other. it's usually one extreme or the other e.g. no physical contact at all or too much too soon.

but then again, Youngin is young enough that he still sees everything with rose-colored glasses. he hasn't experienced too much rejection and can still shake off bad experiences because they're few and far between. and that allows him to be bold and act without fear. it's adorable but also a stark reminder of just how far apart we are in age and our experiences.

but for now, i'm just gonna enjoy the ride and let myself get swept up a little in the capriciousness and straightforwardness of youth.

Thursday, August 29

J.Rabbit

i recently stumbled upon the korean indie group, J Rabbitt, and immediately became enamored with their songs and style. definitely out of the realm of the usual kpop i listen to.




the fact that they're not a manufactured, over-produced group makes them more endearing. plus they're a women duo (don't see many of those) who write and compose their own songs. one girl plays all the instruments and the other one sings. and they're only 26-years old. PLUS, although they have officially debuted and released 2 albums, they're pretty much part the amateur-youtube-movement, which, Bieber aside, i like because acts that come from that medium without all that corporate backing usually truly represent what the people like/want. they're actually part of a collaborative project with other indie artists called friendz.net



Monday, August 26

even i wanted to be a hipster

i always have a comrade to explore Williamsburg now that Bubby has moved into her new residence in the midpoint between Williamsburg and Bushwick (which we have affectionately named "Bushburg"). 

and so it was that this past sunny Sunday, i hopped on the B62 which dropped me off right in front of Supercore for brunch with Bubby. even though it was 1 pm when i met her, the place wasn't very full. i guess hipsters wake up late, because the place got packed right in the middle of our brunch.


Supercore has a clearly Japanese influence and food style, although it also caters to the less adventurous by offering American brunch and entree options as well. the indoor space is small but there is an adorable backyard in the back, with plenty of shade to avoid the sun but still enjoy the warm weather.

Bubby and i were immediately enticed by the $20 unlimited brunch option, which allowed you to pick any entree from the menu and have unlimited brunch drinks: sake bloody mary; beer with lemon, ginger, and honey; sake mimosa; and 1 other option which escapes me. if you plan on drinking more than 2 drinks (each drink costs $6), then i recommend going with the brunch deal.  since Bubby and i were both recovering from our prior night out, we skipped the option since we only had 1 drink each. i highly recommend the beer which is super light and refreshing with fresh ginger and lemon slices added directly in the drink. like a beer lemonade. 

we were both looking for stick-to-your-ribs hearty food, so it's no surprise that i ordered the Beef Curry (stewed for 4 days served with brown rice and roasted potatoes) ($9.50) and Bubby ordered the Meatballs (with homemade tomato sauce served with brown rice and roasted potatoes) ($9.50).  both of us housed our dishes as soon as they came out and it was the perfect remedy for our minor hangover discomfort. 

Photo courtesy of Stella Im Hultberg

afterwards, we walked off our meals with a trip to Brooklyn Flea for all the unique but ridiculously-priced wares where we ran into Bubby's friend. she directed us to Fabbrica for some coffee in a cool setting. although we didn't sit down, the place looked good and was full but not packed, which is a good sign. 

i also realized how "liberal" Bubby and i are: 2 men got in line in front of us to purchase coffee. 1 of them was holding the most adorable half asian/half white baby bay. being in Williamsburg, i made the assumption that the baby belonged to the 2 men, e.g. the 2 men were a gay couple. when i commented about how adorable "their" baby was, Bubby also made the same assumption and agreed. as soon as i said it, i realized that the baby didn't have to belong to the 2 guys, it could just as easily be that the father was in a heterosexual relationship/marriage with an asian woman who just happened not to be there with the 2 men.

about 5 seconds later, an asian walked in and approached the father and baby. 

just goes to prove, you should never jump to assumptions.