Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Pines

Sometimes, if no one can celebrate the end of exams with you, you must take matters into your own hands.  And find yourself at The Pines for a drink--you've been curious about it because you once attended its sister restaurant Littleneck on a similarly dark and dismal night.  And you heard the cocktails are good and wintry, and the food sounds strange... and they let you in out of the storm, even though you're 15 minutes early, and make you a nice stiff drink of rye and pine and yuzu.  Eventually, you add some food--you never imagined apples as the star of their own dish before, but the Pines-y rendition succeeds, a giant bowlful coated in sheep's milk and sesame seeds, whose taste shines through, and a little bit of vinegar.  And maybe when you ordered it, you weren't thinking about how testa is basically headcheese, but it melts on the tongue and is accompanied with a pumpkin bread that's more like a loaf cake, and tart huckleberries.  And there's the amuse-bouche of garbanzo beans with--could that be guava salt?  Who knew!  Your second round drink is also made of apple, and whiskey and smoke (this is not actually the first cocktail you've had with apple and whiskey and smoke, but this one holds the smoke longer).  And your book is made out of winter and England and mystery and the dining room is cozy, and certainly your wallet feels the cost of the privilege of sitting here out of the cold for a couple hours, but it's money and time well spent.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Long time no see

Hello, world that is still reading!

I would like to write you a longer post about Red Rooster and Marcus Samuelsson and perhaps I will soon, but there's been a lot going on.  For now, I'll just say that at last I've found an album that I like this year, and it's A.C. Newman's Shut Down the Streets.  It's strange; though I've never really cared for the New Pornographers I do consistently like Newman's solo work.  This album doesn't disappoint; it's catchy and jingly and a little bit sad and just the sort of thing to listen to as darkness closes in earlier each night.  Who knew A.C. Newman sounded so much like a Belle & Sebastian for the wintertime?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Once more

Sometimes, if the weather is surprisingly breezy and you find yourself with not much to do, you may stand torn at the corner of your office building and then opt, resolutely, for home.  Home, where you haven't been for a week.  Where you can wrangle your bike away from the banister and hop on and ride up steep steep Mount Prospect Park and, prevailing, wend your way back down the Slope, through newly-navigable Grand Army Plaza, down to Christie's, home of the giantest $2.50 chicken patties you'll ever see and that curious New Yorky ice cream phenomenon, the grape nut.  Flavor the nuts do not have in spades, but they do provide a nice crunchy counterpoint to the buttery eggnog ice cream in which they sit.  And you too can sit, on a traffic island with a bench, and watch the cabbies and the yuppies and the hippies and the world glide by.  On the return trip, you can coast down the park, only pedaling once, and take in the glory of the house-lined tree-lined streets of home.  You can trot up the stairs, make a quick swap of bike for laptop, and step out once more into the perfect air, bound for a cafe and a too-expensive so-refreshing blueberry lemonade and a computer keyboard and the sensation of starting over, saying the same thing again and again, maybe better, maybe worse, but making it new once more on this July evening.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pork! aaaand

I wonder how many days in a row I could eat pork for lunch before rebelling. A couple weeks ago I got Wah Fun #1 Fast Food's staggeringly enormous pile of roast pork, bitter greens, and rice for $3; there is also Big Wong's superior roast and ribs combo for $5.50, or #1's neighbor Kien Tuong, which unfortunately was out of roast pork when I swung by the other day.

And today there was oft-lauded Xi'an Famous Foods and their superlatively cheap and delicious (and greasy--nearly irreversibly stained an outfit once) pork burger for $2.72 including tax (I think last time I went there was no tax, but everything is going up).

There is also Shanghai Cafe of Mott Street and its miraculous soup dumplings (pork or pork and shrimp), introduced to me by my sister, if these delights are not enough.

I suppose there is also the kiosk outside, if you want to bask in this glorious weather with a salad. But how can it compare to sitting in Columbus Park with a pork burger--or perhaps the 5-for-$1.25 fried pork-and-chive dumplings from Tasty Dumpling?

Chinatown, lunchtime cheapskates salute thee!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Salt and fat and persimmons oh my

It has been a while since I've been excited enough about a meal to tell you about it, but now that time is here. R.-- and I had been trying to go to Salt & Fat in Sunnyside for, oh, about eight months or so, but only managed it last night. Which may be for the best, because the reviews we read in June suggested it was a bit hit or miss, but now it is all hit.

S&F does small plates so R.-- and I started with three of them. (We later upgraded to a fourth, shocking no one, possibly not even our waitress.) The persimmon salad--my suggestion--was perfect: arugula's bitterness tamed by honey-citrus vinaigrette, sliced persimmons, goat cheese, and oh-so-candied walnuts. My only quibble is that there was not much speck atop the salad; I would've liked more than a small slice. I quickly forgot about that in the general abundance of persimmon and walnut though. Even R.--, who is not generally a persimmon fan, was impressed.

Next came R.--'s choice, the yellowtail. It is sooort of sashimi-style but that description does not convey the beauty of the dish. Presented with the plate, we oohed and aahed. Little hunks of yellowtail spread in a long rectangle across the middle, topped with radish, scallions, and some type of paste redolent of sesame; around the fish were perfectly round dollops of yuzu gel and spicy mayo. Mix it all together, our waiter told us, upon hearing we were new to the dish; after R.-- took a picture, we did, and plunked heaping forkfuls atop the crackly cassava chips served alongside.

Pork belly tacos were not as much of a revelation but did not disappoint. The pork flavor was perhaps a little faint but the fat was blessedly not overpowering, the topping kimchi salsa not my absolute favorite but an interesting twist on a familiar dish. The tacos came three to an order, and after some debate, I split the third one right down the middle, open-face sandwich style, revealing the intricate architecture of cheese on salsa on cabbage on pork. The pickled onions heaped alongside looked just like jalapenos but tasted sweeter; I wish I'd realized how much they enhanced the tacos before I was on my second one.

Unable to resist, we added a small dish of pappardelle. The noodles and mushrooms were good, with abundant enokis--another quibble, not enough of the other kind of mushroom for me to say with any certainty what it was--but the real star of the dish was the slow-cooked egg, resplendent with its unrunny orange yolk. I wish I could cook like that.

Decadent to the end, we split marshmallow ice cream with rice krispies, another winner. Two giant rice krispy squares, served warm, bookended ice cream the very apotheosis of marshmallow flavor, with little krispy shavings at its base. Often I find that restaurant desserts don't live up to the excitement promised by the menu, or the price tag. This one, at $6, more than delivered on both.

I hope that we will venture to Salt & Fat again before eight months have passed.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Brown paper packages tied up with string...

Though it's been nearly a year since I quit the hard stuff (read: caffeine), sometimes the thought of a latte is enough to get me out of bed. And so I reluctantly shoved off the covers in the early morning dark, thinking, You'll be glad later, and hopped on a B68 to Park Slope to try new cafe De Luxe. And it is in fact the perfect morning destination: delicious latte (decaf for noobs like me) and teeny-tiny butter and jam breakfast baguette in a neat paper-and-string package. There were two choices of jam today, mixed berry and apple; the very welcoming fellow behind the counter complimented my choice of apple. Sitting here before the workday begins, munching away on the perfect combination of sweet and creamy and crunchy sandwich, I too am glad of my decision.