Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mandoo Bar - Manhattan

They Make Em Right in the Window!
I am talking about Korean dumplings, obviously. The last time the Puffin was in town we took a walk on 32nd street and caught a glimpse from outside. It is like a magnet that pulls you in.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fu-Kee - Manhattan

Nothing Like a Good Soup to Perk You Up
I learned about this place from Lunch and ordered exactly what they did, zombie-like. I got the roasted duck soup. As you can probably intuit from the photo, it was delicious. I suggest you click on the photo for a closer look. This is a good place for quick, cheap Chinese food.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ruston's Diner - Syracuse

Some Have Accused me Of Fanciness
I grew up in Syracuse, a pretty regular, small city in central New York. I came back for a x-mas visit and was confronted: any spots up here getting on your fancy list? Huh, Mr. Paris Fancy-Pants? (Or at least, that is how it sounded to me.) I happen to think that there is quite a bit of good food up here, especially the diner variety. Case in point is Ruston's, a small diner that doesn't have a weakness on the menu. If you go more than a few times the waitresses remember you, how you like your coffee and what your "usual" is. Today I tried something I'd never had before: home fries smothered in brown gravy. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

H3C - Paris, Redux

Had to Try the Pho
There is a French custom of shaking everyone's hand when you arrive at work in the morning. I like it generally, but wonder how smart it is during flu and cold season. Everyone at work has been coughing and wheezing so when I started to feel a little flu-ish, I popped over to H3C for some Pho. In my mind, this would be akin to chicken soup and I was eager to feel better prior to jumping on my flight back to Brooklyn. I have a longer write-up of H3C here, from a previous visit.

This was just what the doctor ordered. I dipped the tender beef in the side-sauce, then slurped up the noodles with my chopsticks and finally drained the remaining broth, one spoonful at a time. Ok, time for my eight hour flight.....
9, Rue de Renard
4th Arondissement

Breizh Cafe - Paris

A Small Piece of Brittany in Paris
Excuse the alliteration, but Breizh means Brittany, in Breton. Breton is a celtic language that is a relative of Cornish and Welsh. I had no clue about any of that until I read this. The Breizh Cafe focuses on galettes and crepes, Breton-style. Below is my "Galette de Champignons", a tasty mix of cheese, mushrooms and ham wrapped in a buckwheat envelope. It was delicious.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lao Lane Xang - Paris

Thai Food, You Got Competition!
I am lucky enough to have a colleague here in Paris who was born in Laos and offered to take me for an authentic Laotian meal. I'd never had it before and was not sure what to expect. I love Thai food and measure most asian food againt it. This meal more than held its own! I recommend clicking on the pictures for a larger view, you won't regret it. We started with an order of fish cakes. Not only were they beautiful, but they were also meaty and light at the same time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Patrick Roger - Paris

Un Temple de Chocolat
A wise man once told me "don't trust anyone with two first names." This crossed my mind as I approached the Patrick Roger storefront. However, a few minutes of peeking in the front windows changed all that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

La Goulette - Paris

Just the Fries, Please
Sometimes laziness gets the best of me. Ok, truth be told, sometimes ambitiousness gets the best of me, the rest of the time I am lazy. Tonight was no exception. I picked a small Tunisian cafe for dinner because it is directly across the street from my hotel.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crêperie Suzette - Paris

Savory Crepes on rue des Francs Bourgeois
I spent most of Sunday afternoon walking around the Marais. I was absolutely starving and remembered I was a few short blocks from this wonderful creperie. They serve both crepes and galettes, I was in the mood for the latter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Berko Bakery - Paris

And Now For Something Completely Different...
I did a double-take as I passed a window full of cupcakes on rue Rambuteau. Cupcakes? Ain't that as Americana as you can get?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jacques Genin - Paris

I've Been to Heaven - It's Caramel-Made
My ideal Saturday breakfast is sugared and caffeined in double dosage. So, when I read about the newly-opened Jacques Genin boutique on David Lebovitz' blog, Saturday could not come quickly enough. Vehicle of choice - a caramel eclair. But, I am getting ahead of myself....

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pain de Sucre - Paris

Marshmallows in Paris?
This lovely shop in the Marais makes some absolutely beautiful treats.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maison du Chocolat - Paris

Pilot's Strike = More Chocolate
My previous visit to Paris ended up being longer than planned due to a pilot's strike. Annoyance quickly turned to glee as Puffin and I thought about all the extra treats we could eat. We took a walk down Rue de Rivoli and popped into the Maison du Chocolat next to the Louvre. Peering through the front window got me all revved up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

H3C - Paris

Minh Chau's Little Brother
This sleek vietnamese eatery is owned and run by the same family that started Minh Chau. It is the younger, cooler, hipper version. The exterior belies what waits within.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Roni-Sue's Chocolates - Manhattan

2+2 = 5
Roni-Sue is a small chocolate shop a few stalls down from Shopsin's in the Essex Market. They have, using some kind of magic-realism, fused two disparate elements into a delicious chimera. I am referring to what we insiders call "Pig-Candy." It is crispy, salty bacon, deep-dipped in chocolate. What kind of a sick mind would associate these, much less retreat to their laboratory to meld them? Roni-Sue, of course. Thank goodness she did.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chickalicious Dessert Club - Manhattan

Diabetes, Here I Come....
Puffin and I took a test drive to see if this spot could be added to my diabetes express train plan. This is the little cousin of Chickalicious, across the street. Definitely much more low key - you order your desserts at the counter and take them back to your seat. No wine pairings, just plenty of treats to pick from.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Korhogo-126 - Brooklyn: CLOSED

Love at First Bite
Sometimes you just fall in love with a place. Korhogo bills itself as a French-African bistro (or African-French, not sure which.) It is named after the chef's hometown of Korhogo, Ivory Coast. The Puffin and I visited recently on a frigid night and were warmed up with a starter of crab and cod fish fritters, which were delicious.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

67 Burger - Brooklyn

All Looks, No Personality
I am a burger lover, pure and simple. Thus, I went to 67 Burger with a predisposition to like it. Nothing in the lead up hinted otherwise. Not the sweet smell of sizzling beef that hit me one step inside. Not the dizzying options available on the menu. Not the smiles of those half-way through their burgers. Puff and I ordered and waited hungrily at our table. She a ranch, me a bacon-cheese. They arrived and were shockingly beautiful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Polish G.I. Delicatessen - Manhattan

Friday Donut Day Goes Polish
Happenstance: the magical act of finding an unexpected donut while looking for a different donut. Puff and I were on our way to Abraco in the East Village for some ricotta fritters when something sugary registered in my peripheral. I stopped dead in my tracks and whirled around to a window full of treats. I stepped inside the little storefront and felt like I was in Warsaw. If you click on this pic you will see the old polish lady with the sour face sitting inside.

I got one of those powdery treats in the middle of the window. The proportion of dough to filling was a bit off - I like more filling.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Matteo and Paula - Paris

The Most Relaxing Lunch
Puff and I were walking around the 6th Arondissement on Sunday afternoon, looking for something to eat. A real rookie mistake, we found out - nothing is open in the 6th on Sunday. Well, amost nothing. While looking around for bikes to rent so that we could pedal back to life in the 3rd, we stumbled into this lovely cafe. The stone walls and plank floors were lit minimally, which made it all the more inviting to my eye.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pozzetto - Paris

All the Gelato You'll Ever Need
As luck would have it, our hotel is on the same street as this lovely gelateria. It has a walk-up window for sidewalk orders or you can sit inside and relax, jump on their free wi-fi and eat at a leisurely pace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

L'As du Falafel - Paris

Falafels in the Heart of Paris
Puff and I are here in Paris, reading through many Paris food blogs to find places to eat. L'As du Falafel (Ace of Falafel) is recommended in many of the blogs. It is only a 5 minute walk from where we are staying in the 4th Arondissement, so we decided to check it out. It is located on a tiny, medieval street called Rue de Rosiers in the Marais district. The tabletops carry their trademark.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Minh Chau - Paris

The Puff List Goes to Paris
One of the benefits of working for a French company is going to Paris for "work" every now and then. This time, I had the Puffin in tow - poor thing, how she suffers. We are staying in the Marais and while walking around, stumbled into a small Vietnamese restaurant called Minh Chau. To be clear, it was the bucket of spring rolls displayed in the window that caught my attention.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Bistro - Brooklyn

Senegalese Fusion Burger
A friend of a friend told me about a place in Fort Greene with a pretty good burger. He said it matter-of-factly, with little elaboration other than a general idea of its location and told me "you'll know it when you see it - it's Senegalese." "A Senegalese burger?" I asked, scrunching up my face, but got no response. The next day I Googled the address - without which I don't think I would have found it, but more on that later. Cutting to the chase, I ordered it medium, with cheese and salsa. Not any old salsa - Senegalese salsa - an alchemy of jalapeno peppers, red peppers, olives, capers and sauteed onions. It arrived full of promise, with a small salad, fruit slices and home fries.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keko Cafe - Manhattan

Not All Breakfasts are Created Equal
Sometimes, for no apparent reason, things turn out perfectly. Keko Cafe is usually just a coffee spot for me but the Puff suggested trying their breakfast. It is a cozy, warm, closet-sized space with no more than 5-6 small tables. Every inch of the walls is covered with interesting bric-a-brac and a tv on either end, tuned usually to European soccer matches. It feels as if you've left Manhattan and stepped into a cafe in Paris or Amsterdam.

This photo from nosh and nibble.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Caffe Falai - Manhattan

Breakfast Bomboloni
My gut and I would like to thank Serious Eats for their "Best Donuts in NY" post. Ever since I read it my donut intake and waistline have been increasing. I had no clue that bomboloni existed and was perfectly content. Of course, their photo looked so delicious I HAD to have one, so off to Caffe Falai went the Puff and I. Very swanky place, whitewashed throughout, triple chandeliers over the counter and tables bedecked with linen. Not a place where pocket change is gonna cover it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Red Hook Ballfields - Brooklyn

Pupusas for the Puffin
The Puff List is working. The Puff is here for her second visit and what better way to reintroduce her to the BK than to take her to for some Salvadoran pupusas at the Red Hook ball fields. I hear that Singaporeans have elevated street food to high art, so I know what you're thinking: this is a risky move. Thanks to the heads-up from Eating in Translation that this past weekend was the last of the season for the vendors. For those of you not in the know about the ball fields, check this out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cart Guy at 26th & Madison - Manhattan

Friday is Danish Day!
I know, I know - Friday is supposed to be Donut Day. I've been chomping my way through the Serious Eats donut list and needed a break. I went old-school this morning and hit up my favorite cart guy for a pecan danish. If you live in NYC, you know this type of cart guy. He always has a 20-person line at his cart but has your usual order ready without your saying a word. But if you skip his cart for a week, this type of cart guy also says something like "I thought you died!" or "I guess you like that crap McDonald's coffee more than mine, huh?"

I hadn't been to his cart for over two weeks! I looked at my shoe tops, mumbling something about having to travel for work lately, not half-believing the lie. He stared hard at me as he tossed the bag across. "NEXT in line, please step up!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Despaña - Manhattan

Not Your Run of the Mill Ham & Cheese
I went to Despaña to look for churros (cinnamon-sugared drumstick donuts) to find out they're only sold frozen. Just as I was spiraling into grumpy-mode, I noticed a small kitchen in the rear and shuffled over to inspect. A quick scan of the sandwich list on the counter struck gold: chorizo and manchego. In other words, Puff, good old ham and cheese, but many links higher on the food chain. Chorizo is a pork sausage that includes paprika, giving it the red glow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chinese Mirch - Manhattan

Satisfying, but Not Sock-Knocking
This sunny Murray Hill spot bills itself as Indian-Chinese, not the other way around. I was unable to engage the Indian and Chinese waiters in a debate on the subject, but they did confirm that the word mirch means spicy in Hindi. They have plenty of spicy dishes to bring you to a boil, a good idea on a cool, windy day like today. I warmed up with Manchou soup - vegetables, green chilis and crispy noodles. The slight sourness of the first spoonful was gracefully overtaken by chili-heat.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dogmatic - Manhattan

Piggies in Blankets, Flossy Style
Let's cut to the chase: Delicious! Delicious! Delicious! The name Dogmatic is misleading, these are not hot dogs, these are sausages. Here's how it works, you choose a sausage and a sauce from the list. You can pick any combo you like:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baked - Brooklyn

For Me, It's All About the Space
Yes, they have freshly baked goodies, coffee from Stumptown, friendly staff and free wifi. The B61 bus even drops you at the front door. These are mere trifles because what struck me immediately about Baked was the space. I sunk into a cushioned bench with my latte and took it all in. The faux crystal chandelier above the counter contrasts against chocolate walls on one side.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stan's Place - Brooklyn: CLOSED

A Bit of New Orleans in the BK
I've only been to New Orleans once, so I cannot judge Stan's on authenticity. I will stick to basics: vibe, food and service. First, it is a warm and inviting space - I went for brunch with Hatebean on a warm day and we sat in a front window that was open to the street. (No, that is not us in the photo.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hanco's - Brooklyn

Banh Mi in the BK
This tiny Bergen St sandwich maker never ceases to please. Lately, it has become my go-to Sunday football half-time meal. The menu is limited, which jibes well with my indecisiveness.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Donut Plant - Manhattan

You Gotta Get Up Early to BKF with the Kid
Friday is donut day, I've decided. Last night as I went to bed I had the Donut Plant on my mind so is it any surprise I woke up before dawn? This is not a shot of the Donut Plant, this is a shot of the moon. I am up early, get it? Ok, nevermind.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prune - Manhattan

What Kind of Restaurant Name is Prune?
No, prunes are not their specialty and they aren't served in any dish. Strange name or not, this is a cozy place whose lunch menu of "New American" dishes doesn't lack ambition. The choices, though few, were so equally enticing that I had a hard time choosing. To start, a barley and oxtail soup. Weighted by the expectation of a West Indian oxtail stew, I found it to be too mild, as unfair as the comparison is.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crif Dogs - Manhattan

Dogs, Bacon-Wrapped, Deep-Fried to Boot
I learned about this spot by reading the NYC Food Guy blog. It was everything it was promised to be. I ordered the "Chihuahua" - an evil-genius concoction of hot dog, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and slathered in sour cream and avocado. True love at first bite. The dog-bacon combo is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. If this doesn't call out to you, I am worried about you. Click on the photo for a close-up. Check out the rest of the menu.

Pho Bang - Manhattan

Vietnamese Lunch in Chinatown
I went to Chinatown to get a Banh Mi sandwich from Banh Mi Saigon but since I am unlucky, I picked the one day that it happened to be closed. Not one to quit easily, I wandered around looking for some Vietnamese and ended up at Pho Bang.
As soon as I read the words "Salty Lemonade", I had to try it. It was a little too salty for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rice to Riches - Manhattan

To Go, Please - My Spaceship is Double-Parked
There is something wierd about a place that serves nothing but rice pudding. Something spacey about it. From the futuristic look of the exterior....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taci's Beyti - Brooklyn

Jumping the Q Train to Istanbul
I have a colleague from Turkey who, when asked to name her favorite Turkish restaurant, jumped from her seat and began speaking in tongues. "Can you write that down for me?", I asked. As you can see from the title, thank goodness she did. She also gave me a specific list of dishes to try. A few days later, me and my monthly metrocard were on our way to Midwood. I was excited, this was an insider's recommendation - it simply couldn't go wrong. I got off the Q at King's Highway and didn't recognize one language I heard during the three block walk. The place was pretty low-key from the outside, which only made me more confident.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blue Marble - Brooklyn

I Scream, You Scream....
I was during this morning's breakfast search on Atlantic Ave that I discovered Blue Marble, an ice cream purveyor. I made a mental note to return in the afternoon and continued on my way. No further than twenty steps later I did an about face and jogged back. Nobody is gonna know that I had ice cream for breakfast, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shopsin's General Store

I Ain't Afraid of Kenny, or His Sliders!
This one is so deep - I cannot do it justice. We're talking about a NY institution, manned by a true NY character - a chef who has his own documentary. I didn't know much about the place or the man until recently, I read up on both in only the last few weeks. If you believe what you read, you should expect a visit to Shopsin's to include being cursed out, yelled at, thrown out or worse. You should also expect some good food. Just look at the menu!

Shopsin's current incarnation is a small corner of the Essex Market on the Lower East Side. Kinda like a glorified stall.

Got this photo here.

I was there specifically for the sliders, a foodstuff with all the food groups you'll ever need. I didn't expect to see the man himself, but there he was, Kenny Shopsin, sitting in a chair near the entrance. I was looking around nervously as he checked me out. "You coming in buddy?", he asked in a friendly voice. No beat skipped - "Only if you got sliders in here." "Come in, sit down. Zack! Throw some sliders on." I later learned that Zack is one of his sons. There were a few customers scattered around - I chose a table out in the market hall, far from Kenny. Ok, to be honest, I was a bit apprehensive - how am I gonna take a photo without his noticing? When the sliders arrived, I no longer cared. I had to get a shot. Please click on the photo and get a close-up look.

Tender, direct, unadorned beef. A perfect blend of meat, cheese, onion and bun. I scarfed all three down within minutes. If you are a doubting Buddhist, pondering trying beef for the first time, this ain't a bad plate to start with.
120 Essex St
Map it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Chocolate Room

Cake and Ice Cream for Dinner
In some cultures it is called a sweet tooth. Me? I got a wolf-mouth full of em. I mean, it just grabs hold of me. I swear. I had no intention of going into the Chocolate Room - none. See, the colors caught my attention, made me turn to take in the full bloom of the place. My feet slowed their usual shuffle. I was standing, staring, not really thinking. Ok, a quick peek inside to see what they got.

I managed to walk by all the chocolate bars stacked up fort-knox-style in the display cases, past the cupcakes, past the kitchen to the back of the place. Ok, I'll rest my feet and sit for a minute. A menu? Sure, I'll look one over. Before I knew it, things were arriving. A small taste of chocolate ice cream. So rich, so delicious. Now the juices are flowing.

Next, a darkly good slice of chocolate cake. So dark that it kinda scared me. Waiter - bring me a coffee, quick! Need some coffee to handle this baby. Couldn't wait though. Carved off a nice chunk and to my surprise, it had a light, clean taste. I blinked and stared at it as I chewed, like I would at an optical illusion. How the hell did they do it? How?

269 Court St
Map it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stinky bklyn

Ham and Cheese Ain't Ever Gonna Be the Same
First of all, can you think of a cooler name for a cheese store? Check out the sign - I love it. First time I walked inside this Smith St. gem, I noticed that it indeed was kinda, well, odoriferous.
Here's a shot of the outside. I hope they got a chain on that bench, the economy is starting to drag. Before you know it, "bklyn" will start being "Brooklyn" again.
If it ain't obvious yet, they specialize in cheese. All shapes, sizes and provenances. I noticed a number of different Spanish Manchegos - which happen to be my favorite. All you need is some Spanish ham to go along with it....
Got this flick off of flickr.

Speaking of ham.... Click on this pic and take a closer look. Yep, they got the real stuff, straight off the hoof, so to say. I haven't seen it like this since I spent a summer in Madrid. I never thought I would see this in the good old US of A.
So, here is the plan: when you come back we'll celebrate with some Manchego and a few prime slices of the Jamon Iberico. Oh, did I fail to mention that they also sell Chinotto? I feel like I've hit the trifecta.
261 Smith St