Category Archives: New York City

On a Mission.

As has been well-established by now, I am not one to jump on the sceney-restaurant bandwagon. It’s not that I don’t want to try the latest and the greatest; I do. But a combination of minor social anxiety (does anyone ever feel skinny and well-dressed enough for trendy new restaurants? Please say no), a growing dislike of crowds (not at all caused by an inherent lack of personal space here in New York—why do you ask?), and a low tolerance for two-hour wait times at tiny spots that don’t take reservations for parties of less than five means that I just don’t tend to enjoy evenings out at this city’s hot spots.

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One solution to this problem? Brunch.

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Ten Things In 2012.

As 2013 rapidly approaches, we pause to take a look at our top food memories and discoveries of the year.

Jill: My itinerant adventures included a spring trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rice, summer visits to New York City and Cleveland (yes, a worthy destination) and a last-minute trip to San Francisco spurred on by World Series baseball. Below are a few things of note as I look back at the year that the world was supposed to end.

1. One-Course Meals.

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In 2012, I realized that while I may not be able to afford three courses of fine dining, I can create my own buffet of great eats by visiting several places for one course each. San Francisco was the perfect backdrop for this style of eating, and I found myself slurping oysters not once, but twice in the ten-day stay. The key, by the way, is to be upfront with servers from the beginning. And to tip a little extra before heading out for the next snack.

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Green Dreams.

On Friday night, I ate so much barbecue I thought I felt my arteries hardening. Seriously. (Wild-boar rib chop, though—totally worth it.) Yesterday,  I had a brisket sandwich for lunch and Shake Shack for dinner. Today, all I can think of is vegetables.

My mouth is currently watering over the memory of this smoked-trout salad from Boerum Hill’s Rucola, in which bitter frisee and radicchio, coins of soft, creamy potato, and pungent flakes of Shelsky’s fish are roped together with a horseradish dressing and punctuated with crunchy, tangy pickled onions. Yes, please.

Rucola
190 Dean Street
Brooklyn, New York
718.576.3209

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Gastronomical Geography.

I never pay attention to where I am when I visit New York City and her boroughs. Instead, I blindly follow the natives — mainly Maya — around from restaurant to bar to coffee shop to bar to restaurant. And the touristy things? They’re pretty low on the list of priorities. I’ve seen more of Buttermilk Channel than I have the Statue of Liberty.

In my most recent trip, we shared Maya (and her one bedroom apartment) with her mom and sister; she wasn’t as available as she’d been in the past. With the exception of a few meals, we would be navigating the city on our own, with heavy reliance on the map function of the iPhone. The result was mixed: more mess-ups on the subway and a chance to do something touristy. (Enjoy the shot above taken from the Staten Island Ferry.) Somehow, though, we managed to stay hydrated and well fed.

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Big Game, Bigger Burger.

For a fan of club soccer, summers can be misery. Even with the season’s bountiful warm-weather distractions, the months between when the Premiership ends in May and revs back up again in August can seem interminable: With no actual games to watch or performances to analyze, the papers are full of little but gossip and speculation. It’s a sad state of affairs when the odd newsy tidbit comes as a welcome relief.

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Every two years, though, there’s a respite from the mundane. In 2010, we had the World Cup; this summer, it’s the Euros. (The games might not be as thrilling, but hey, football is football.) As those of you who follow me on Twitter have surely discovered, I’ve been watching the tournament religiously— not, however, without a little bit of guilt over spending perfect June afternoons in a bar instead of in the sunshine. For the addicts among us, there are a few spots that strike a healthy balance between the two with outdoor screenings; last weekend, in lieu of making the trek to Astoria’s beer garden, I found myself in Williamsburg, pulling up a seat in Iona‘s backyard.

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Golden Ticket.

Maya: There are times when the most amazing meals are the toughest to sit down and write about. This is one of those times.

Jill: “I won a $400 gift card to Gramercy Tavern. And you’re going with me.” Notice the lack of exclamation point or question mark in Maya’s statement. She was simply stating two facts. My response was as resolute: “Okay.” There are things that you don’t question. And Maya sharing half of her culinary booty with me is not one of those things.

Maya: I received the email after an emotionally and physically draining day, and it couldn’t have come at a better time: My mother and I had spent the previous day packing up my old apartment, and the movers had come that morning. Between the crying and the heavy lifting and the gin and tonics consumed at dinner, I was pretty much a wreck—I doubt Charlie Bucket was happier to see his golden ticket. Once the dust had settled, somewhat, Jill booked a flight to New York, and we made a reservation for a late Sunday-night dinner.

Back in December.

Please don’t judge.

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On Travel Friends, and Nina.

We met Nina at the dock in Moyogalpa on Ometepe, seconds after I’d agreed that we’d use our cab driver’s friend on the other side of the ferry ride. It took the British woman two sentences for us to agree to abort our previous travel plans and join her on the chicken bus to San Juan Del Sur. All three of us were going to the same place; why pay extra for a cab? And so Nina joined us (or we joined her) and two became three for the next leg of the trip.

I don’t know how to say the following without writing in generalizations: Being far away from home makes it more natural to open up to strangers. We spent two days with Nina, this outrageous, striking, smart and dominant California transplant. It could have been one hundred. I felt like I thoroughly knew her by the time we parted ways.

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Sandwich Spotlight: Buttermilk Channel.

The Subject: A-B-C grilled cheese, from Buttermilk Channel.


In Buttermilk Channel‘s world, A is for apple, B is for bacon, and C is for cheddar, an alphabet I wholeheartedly condone. Nonetheless, the rest of the brunch menu—the warm lamb and romaine salad‘s combination of fried capers, roasted cauliflower, and anchovy dressing is my damsel-in-distress begging for rescue; the fried pork and waffle, a deep-fried chop from a mysteriously gargantuan species of pig, paired with a cheddar-laced waffle, speaks for itself—had always proved too much to resist.But this time around, still full from a weekend of decadent dining, I was finally in the mood for something a touch lighter.

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Ramen Reminder.

Hey, remember our ramen obsession? Rest assured that it’s still going strong. Fear of sounding like a broken record has kept me from reporting on every bowl of noodles I eat, but this one deserves a mention.

Though Ippudo is still my hands-down favorite, 15-month-old Totto is just a couple of blocks from the office and ideal for a quick, indulgent lunch. Buyer beware, though: Much like Ippudo, Totto has its own rabid following—go solo, during off-peak hours, for the least frustrating experience. After a ten-minute wait on a recent (very cold) afternoon, I snagged a seat at the counter and watched the staff torch slices of pork belly and stir steaming vats of broth until my soup arrived.

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