Tag Archives: NYC

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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Hooky Day.

Last week, I took a day off.

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I slept in. I had a leisurely breakfast and a large cup of bodega coffee, then hopped the train to the Rockaways.

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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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Friday Five: The Brooklyn Flea’s Winter Wares.

Jill: Brooklyn Flea: the weekly market that fittingly sells repurposed and crafty wares in a bank repurposed as a three-floor mall, filled to the brim with furniture, boots, hand towels and jewelry that we can only dream of owning and with people who are way cooler than you or I will ever be. Maya and I visited this past December with a mission: to visit as many of the basement food vendors as humanly possible. And although I became momentarily distracted and purchased a porcupine-screened tea towel, we completed our task with precision and professionalism. (Porcupines are obviously the new bacon-owl-mustache. Duh.)

Maya: Though the allure of the Flea has diminished for me (thanks both to the ubiquity of the mobile vendors and to my awareness of what vintage goods  bought at flea markets should cost), it was worth the trip just to introduce Jill to some of New York’s premiere food-truck players. Today’s Friday Five highlights some of the things we managed to stuff in our beaks.

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The Freelance Diet: How to Splurge.

When I started coming up with a list of topics for my Freelance Diet series, I never imagined that lobster would qualify for inclusion: That crustacean hasn’t screamed “budget cuisine” since the days when it was known as poverty food and only deemed suitable for prisoners and indentured servants.

To say things have changed would be an understatement, but fortunately for the modern-day lobster-lover, deals are still there if you know where to look—or even if you don’t. It’s not just $29 rolls (or even $14 rolls, for that matter) in this town.

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Housewarming.

I moved into my new apartment at the beginning of October. Except for the all-too-brief summer between my junior and senior years of college and, pre-New York, a few months spent in Bucharest, this is the first time I’ve lived on my own.

I kind of love it.

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All In the Pan.

Jill and I haven’t been shy about discussing our collective obsession with Spanish cuisine in these pages—our love affair with tapas and sangria has been going strong since our inaugural trip together, and it shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Fried chunks of potato doused with aioli, shrimp in sizzling garlic oil, served in a hot cazuela, blistered shishito peppers sprinkled with sea salt, croquetas de jamón (or blue cheese and dates, if we’re feeling fancy)—these are the things of which reveries are made.

But as much as I love those small-plate staples, I’ve always been less than impressed by what may as well be the country’s de facto national dish: paella. (Not that that’s stopped me from wanting to make a great version myself, mind.) After one too many encounters with an underwhelming, blandly seasoned pan of rice, I gave up, mentally categorizing this dish as one that’s great in theory—what’s not to love about seafood, sausage, and garlic?—but fails to live up to its billing in reality. Silly me. Turns out I just hadn’t met the right one yet.

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Brunch Bonanza.

The Lower East Side’s Clinton Street Baking Co. isn’t exactly a well-kept secret. Lauded for its baked goods—the buttermilk biscuits are particularly renowned—and notoriously popular brunch, I’d recommended it to visiting friends who had weekday mornings free for leisurely breakfasts; they always reported back in the positive, but then, the lines are shorter Monday to Friday, and I’d always been too put off by the crazy weekend waits to give the place a shot myself.


A few weeks ago, though, some friends and I found ourselves with a Sunday at our disposal. One got there early and put our name on the list; the rest of us met her at the café across the street, settled in with our iced coffees and commenced with the waiting. As a reward for surviving the epic lines, we were served, as promised, “no-fuss-just-plain good food.”

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Anatomy of the Perfect Bite.

One of the benefits of my current freelance gig is the schedule—I work until an ungodly hour on Monday nights, then have Tuesdays and Wednesdays to recover. I try to be productive on those days off, I really do, but the apartment is still messy, the laundry is in piles, and my various writing projects are yet untouched. It’s shockingly easy to acclimate to a midweek weekend.


Taken in that context, I consider it an accomplishment when I manage to make it out for lunch. It helps to choose to forget about the financial expenditure (dinner normally costs a whole lot more) and the caloric intake (one large meal in the middle of the day is much better for you than a large meal in the evening): Both are easily justified as minor side effects of blog-content procurement. Anything for you, readers. (And the light’s much better at lunchtime, too).

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Culinary Confluence.

Nearly a year ago to the day, I wrote about some new developments in my section of Bed-Stuy, and since then, there’s been a veritable explosion of food-and-drink business in the neighborhood. Within a few-block radius, there’s a great coffee shop, a lovely café with solid fare, a tiny sliver of a Cuban restaurant, and a Vietnamese sandwich place, all just around the corner from my apartment. Best of all, though: That bakery I talked about finally opened, caddy-corner to two—count ‘em, two—sit-down restaurants. Less than a minute from my door. Cue the squealing.


Though it’s impossible to overstate my excitement at this turn of events, it took me a little while to get across the street to try them both out. (What can I say? Bad habits are hard to break.) This weekend, the confluence of time and money was finally in my favor, and on Sunday, when the recent heat wave broke, dinner on the patio at Italian resto Sud sounded like the ideal way to celebrate. We quickly ordered two glasses of wine, and they were delivered just as speedily, along with a complimentary dish of olives and a bowl of bread—almost as if someone told the management that the way to my heart is through carbs and booze. In other words, my kind of service.

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