Category Archives: Friday Five

Friday Five: Postcards from Copenhagen.

We were in Copenhagen for nearly a week, and during that time we managed to cover quite a bit of ground on foot. Narrowing down the list for today’s Friday Five took considerable effort; consider this an amuse bouche, a handful of images from various corners of this picturesque city, both on and off the beaten path.

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Friday Five: Things To Do On Ometepe.

Here’s a list of things to to while visiting Ometepe in Nicaragua.

1. Walk past the cabbies when you get off the ferry.

You can do this pretty much anywhere in the world, and you’ll save a few bucks. That first guy, the friendly one who’s making you a deal? He’s not. I always forget this. Luckily I travel with people like Bethany or Maya who aren’t as easily walked over as I am. So, keep going. The price will go down.

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Friday Five: Reasons Why I Haven’t Been Writing.

Talk about the elephant in the room. There are no two ways around it: I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. My top five rationalizations/ excuses/reasons follow, accompanied by—fair warning—a healthy dose of whining and self-pity. Read on at your own risk.

1. I’m broke.

I recently moved, as you may recall, and as a result, my living expenses have nearly doubled. I’m working fewer hours at a lower rate than I have in the past couple of years, even though I’m juggling multiple gigs—and one of my (former) primary clients is declining to pay me without some major teeth-pulling. All of that means that I’m eating out a lot less than I have been—my splurges these days are crappy Chinese takeout and the $5 lunch special (below) from the Jamaican place on my corner—and I’m cooking a lot more pantry-based, clean-out-the-fridge style meals.

How often can one write about bean soup, or dal, or various grain-based salads? And how often does anyone else want to read about these things? There’s a limit, right?

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Friday Five: Postcards from Nicaragua.

When considering a week-long trip south of these United States, Nicaragua wasn’t the first country to come to mind. Brazil had that honor, but its $1200 airfare pushed it far out of the eight-day destination category. (My equation isn’t exact, but if the airfare tops $1000, the destination deserves at least ten days, if not two or more weeks.) The lower price tag of Nicaragua (most flights from CMH were closer to $600) and the quick flight (less than three hours from ATL), combined with a friend’s lavish praises piqued my interest. Simply put, it was personal economics that landed me in the poorest — and safest — country in Central America. I’d go back in a second.

Today’s Friday Five is a quick peek of our fleeting visit to three areas in the Southwest region of Nicaragua.

1. Granada’s Market.

With only half a day to experience the famous Spanish colonial city of Granada, we placed a visit to the market on top. Piles of produce (some recognizable, some not), clothing and countless street food temptations sang to us as we wandered the streets of the sixteenth century city.

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Friday Five: Winter Hashes.

When I see caprese salad, asparagus with hollandaise or cucumber salad on a winter menu, I mentally categorize the dining establishment as one of those whose walk-in coolers are filled to the brim with plastic containers of pre-made distributor-sourced foodstuffs. Side dishes speak volumes about how a restaurant sources its food and what makes a chef tick. Coleslaw year round? That guy spends his free time watching Dancing with the Stars. He drives an SUV and only gets emotional during professional sporting events. The chef who dabbles in broccoli rabe, kale and the beloved tuber lives a different sort of life. He (or she) probably dabbled in the arts — french horn? pottery? poetry? — before deciding to make a living hovering over his (or her) knives and cutting board, turning brussels sprouts and smoked meats from single notes to entire symphonies.

While there’s a difference between seasonal and local on a menu, my respect goes out to those who attempt one or both.

I’m not the most astute at observing (or writing about) trends, but I’ve noticed that the potato, in hash form, has received much attention on my favorite menus this winter. Has it always been there, and I’m just starting to notice? I can’t say. But it’s the perfect venue for cool weather veggies and my treasured winter meats, and is often the reason I choose a dish. Like snowflakes, each is unique. Let’s take a look.

1. Short Rib Hash at Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn

With a 2:1 beef-to-potato ratio in its hash, Buttermilk Channel — one of my favorite stops in Brooklyn — definitely knows how to make a potato seem glamorous. Served alongside lightly dressed greens, the dish is well balanced: heavy meets light, green meets beige and brown. The beef is seasoned with cinnamon and topped with a salted egg. And the soft texture of the potatoes is embellished with crispy bits of beef, scraped from the bottom of the pan, reminiscent of childhood dinners of pot roast. And if one can ever be excited about carrots, this is the time.

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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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Friday Five: Things I’ve Eaten Lately.

I may not have written much during the past few months, but I have had plenty of good food—and become completely obsessed with posting snapshots of said food on Instagram. To the photographic evidence!

1. Bronx pork-a-palooza.

In October, I capped off a wholesome trip to the Bronx Zoo with the amazing — and decidedly unwholesome — lechón at El Nuevo Bohío. The crackling skin alone made the train ride uptown worthwhile.

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Friday Five: NYC Food Apps.

Shortly after Jill got her first iPhone, we traveled to Vermont together, and I’ll admit—I just didn’t get it. In lieu of providing her with street names when I was in charge of navigation, Jill urged me to follow the blue dot on the Maps app; “iPhone says” became a commonly heard phrase in our Mustang rental. And then, a year later, I got my own and became an instant convert. While I might not refer to mine in the third person, I am similarly addicted. Today’s Friday Five pays tribute to the New York-centric food apps that keep me (even more) glued to my touchscreen.

1. The Scoop.

While categories devoted to bars, coffee shops, events, and day trips out of the city make this New York Times app the most well-rounded of the bunch, I particularly love the Sifty Fifty section—ex-restaurant-critic Sam Sifton’s top fifty dining destinations in the city, complete with a checklist and sharing options. (No word yet on whether or not his replacement will be renaming the column, but with “Wells” as a surname, the possibilities are endless.)

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Friday Five: Things I’ve Eaten Recently.

Today’s Friday Five could easily have a million titles. Things I Crave Right Now. Things to Eat on a Rainy Autumn Evening. Why Columbus is Delicious. Browse below as you take a trip through my recent culinary adventures in the Capital city.

1. Pho at Buckeye Pho.

The city’s newest pho and bahn mi joint is only a couple of miles from my house, and I couldn’t be happier. Is it as good as my beloved Mi Li Cafe? I’ve only had one visit and feel unprepared to make a verdict. My first encounter was pretty damn good, though.

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Friday Five: Places to Picnic in Columbus, Ohio.

Picnicking season is upon us! And with the onslaught of trucks and carts hitting the city (and country), the word can be loosely interpreted to include just about any outdoor eating. (Picnic purists, do not fret. Everyone knows nothing—not even a grilled cheese sandwich filled with Cincinnati-style chili cooked in four minutes and handed to you just a few feet from the blanket—can take the place of home prepared food, slathered with mayonnaise or mustard, tucked with fresh garden dill or basil, served alongside brownies and watermelon.) But for this post only, let’s broaden the definition so that we can “picnic” as often as possible.

1. Columbus Commons.

Picnic-related injuries are at an all-time low at one of the city’s newest parks, Columbus Commons: no splinters from these tables! And chances are, no matter what you bring to eat, it’ll be better than the Sbarro (and other City Center food vendors) that were the previous occupants of the space.

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