Potatoes Category

Smattering from the Big Apple: Part 2

It was sunny but a bit colder, and definitely more windy on our next February morning in Soho, but nothing was going to keep us from a morning lunch on the Lower East Side at Katz’s Deli. That’s right. I said “morning lunch,” not “brunch.” Once you see what we ate, it’ll make more sense.

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston St

Given that Chicago has its own famous Jewish deli/cafeteria called Manny’s, the comparisons were inevitable. But it’s like Sophie’s choice over here, so I’ll just call out the stand outs.

Pastrami – Katz’s by a long shot.
Beef stew – Manny’s. It’s the gravy.
Lox and Bagel – Manny’s. Good at Katz’s but where’s the onion and tomato?
Knish – Katz’s. I’m no expert on Knishes but the chewy yet crispy texture of the dumpling, and really savory and peppery potato mash of Katz’s was highly memorable. I can’t remember how my last knish from Manny’s tasted, but that could just be my bad.

Looks like it’s a tie in the end. I guess it’ll take some more field research. Oh darn.

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Katz’s Deli in NYC and Manny’s in Chicago – two culinary institutions that I hope stay around forever and forever.

I weep for the pastrami I’ve consumed in the past as it’ll be hard to go back, if at all. Seriously, it’s as good as the legends say. Maybe even better.

If you’ve never had the delight of eating a knish, put it on your to do list. If you like savory mashed potatoes and fried dumplings, run don’t walk.

Oh and a side (or platter) of homemade beef stew doesn’t hurt either especially when you’ve got a chewy bit of knish to sop up all the brown gravy.

I admit it was hard leaving Katz’s without trying some other things like the matzo ball soup, chopped liver, cheesesteak, corned beef, and so much more, but people now were piling in and the love needs to be shared even though you really just want it all to yourself. Plus I think I needed to change into stretch pants.

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New York has the best toy store for those of us who love collecting art/urban vinyl toys. It’s called Toy Tokyo in the East Village and it’s simply put – a mecca of ultimate toy awesomeness. Managed by a staff of genuinely cool dudes like Lauren and David, Toy Tokyo never lets me leave empty handed. This time I scored big time with this Sam Flores vinyl figure. Check it!

I was still reveling in my find – annoying Jordan with the fact that “I got the last one!” – as we walked underneath some magenta awning for a snack.

East Noodle Robatayaki
119 2nd Ave (between 7th St & St Marks Pl)

This is our go-to place to sit down and have a drink and/or snack and revel in the toy purchases we just made down the street. It’s straightforward, super casual, and tasty if you’re looking for some charred and juicy nibbles of meat, veg, and seafood cooked on the robata or Japanese grill. East Noodle also offers steaming bowls of pretty tasty ramen. And for those of us who spent their load on toys, it’s cheap!

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Now it was time to visit my second favorite store in NYC – Forbidden Planet – which is one of the best comic book stores in the nation. It’s a bit of a trek north in Greenwich Village, but walking myriad blocks in NY don’t seem to phase me at all. Everywhere you go there’s something interesting going on…or being cooked…in a truck.

A-Pou’s Taste Truck
This was such a lucky find – Taiwanese potstickers! Turns out the owner Wen Pin won the Vendy Award for “Rookie of the Year” in 2010. These rectangular potstickers were so savory, porky, chewy, and umami-y to the max. Dip it into a little seasoned sriracha on the side and wooooo!

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It was dark outside by the time we headed back down south to call it a night. Of course walking down Broadway is such a bad idea if you’re trying to get home. Uh, hello, shopping! My legs were screaming at me to stop, but I kept telling myself that all I needed was a quick pick-me-up. Espresso? Gelato? Falafel? OMG, tacos!

Tribeca Taco Truck
What another great find! Some swear these guys have THE best tacos. Maybe it was the chilly night, maybe it was my need for a hot snack, maybe it was that my legs were turning to jelly, or maybe it was the Tribeca Taco stuffed with chorizo AND al pastor topped with cilantro, onion, picante rojo and salsa verde!

Jordan and I took our taco babies back to the hotel, plopped down on the bed, opened the steaming styrofoam and went to town. Super flavorful and kicked up with heat, the tacos were warm and soft and perfectly balanced with the richness of the chorizo, the toothsome tenderness of the al pastor, and the tart and refreshing cilantro, onion, and salsa combination.

The end to a perfect day. Adios Nueva York! Te amo!

London Calling! Fond Farewell

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”
– Samuel Johnson

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I was all sniffles on the way to the airport, and it wasn’t from the wet chill outside, I’ll tell you that.

Yeah, I was grumpy all right. And I preferred indulging in my melancholia instead of reveling in all the wonders we experienced in just four days…

like this…

and this…

and oh my gosh, this…

And finally this!

See, why I’m so grumpy!?

Well, always the stalwart optimist, Jordan seemed to know exactly what would cheer me up.

And in his wisdom, he followed his appetite.

What better than a proper English breakfast to send us on our way?

Needless to say, this brought a very, very big smile to my face.

🙂

My tummy and heart salutes you, London!

Cheerio!

London Calling! – Pagan rituals, Pasties, and an Irishman?

Never imagined waking up to a cold, rainy, grey sky would be so exciting!

Today we were off to the countryside on a small group tour arranged by International Friends (hugely recommended) to Windsor Castle, the medieval town of Bath, and Stonehenge. I hope the Queen is not cross with me for waiting so long to visit!

Tony was our guide. He was bright, knowledgeable, and just a gregarious silly dude which we loved. Are all Irishmen this cool?

Here is just a tiny smattering of all the unbelievable sights, scenes, smells, scenery, and of course, tastes of the trip.

The druidic pagan spirits must have been with us today as we were blessed with a clear towering blue sky and bright reflective clouds. This isn’t supposed to happen in the middle of November!

Breakfast of champions at Avanti – a cute Italian cafe in Windsor that served authentic pastries, panini, and coffees

Meticulous gardens of Windsor Castle

The stones speak to me…Ooommmmm…

Welcome hot snacks – meat and potato stuffed pasties from Presto Pasty!

Savory pie filled with juicy tender meat and peppery soft onions

Flaky crust, potato, stuffed with soft onions and lots of black pepper

Ancient Roman Bath of which the city gets its name

Charming streets of Bath

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It was quiet on the van ride back to London, part from exhaustion and part from meditation on all the amazing experiences we had today.

Once we arrived back in London, though, everyone wanted something warm in their bellies. Tony again had a perfect recommendation – a placed called Belgo which was all about mussels by the bucket.

Oh my gosh, that sounded killer.

So a bunch of us from the tour decided why not dine together and keep the party going?

Belgo was several floors but crowded as could be – vibrant, full of energy, clearly a happenin’ place, especially for young people. Craft beers, buckets of mussels, and lively conversation at every communal wood table made for some great feasting with some new friends.

It was too dark for pics, but here are the mussels they offer. Hard to remember but we may have ordered one of each, or at least wanted to.

Mussel Pots
Fresh rope grown mussels delivered daily, kilo pot served with frites

Marinière – Steamed with cream, white wine, garlic, celery & onion
Green Thai – Steamed in coconut, green chilli, lemongrass, lime & coriander sauce
Provençale – Steamed with plum tomato sauce, basil, thyme & garlic
Traditionnelle – Steamed with white wine, celery, garlic & onion
Florentine – Creamed spinach sauce with smoked bacon grilled with gruyère cheese
Mediterranean – Topped with a tomato and basil sauce, grilled with cheddar & mozzarella
Portuguais – Mussels & roast chorizo in a tomato, garlic olive oil & paprika sauce with new potatoes & basil
Moules Blanches – Mussels cooked in Belgo Wit beer with shallots, smoked bacon & parsley, served with frites

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After our glorious day and lively night, Jordan and I slept quite soundly indeed.

Cheers.

London Calling!

November 5-9, 2010

“The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.”
– Oscar Wilde

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Only a month after we visited Italy, I had the opportunity to travel to London for business.

I pondered whether or not to make a 2nd vaca out of it for, oh I don’t know, a good two milliseconds or so.

Are you kidding? London?! Of course we were going!

Visions of medieval knights, architectural wonders built with bricks steeped in history, the Tube, and of course, British food (famous or infamous depending on who you talk to), filled my mind to bursting for weeks before our departure.

This girl was on a mission and wasn’t going to leave London hungry that’s for sure.

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For me, our weekend had to start with fish and chips. But where to go? There were literally hundreds of fish and chips places all over London.

After a little online elbow grease, we headed out to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden.

It’s a small joint with the fryers right where you walk in and a tiny basement sit-down with walls adorned with groovy aquatic art. Family-owned for 130 years. They fry up all manner of fish from cod to plaice (flounder) to prawns. Malt vinegar, curry sauce, onion gravy, mushy peas and pretty much the lot you’d expect at a proper fish and chips place also garnished the simple straightforward menu board.

Seriously, this was what you call damn good fish fry.

Haddock and Chips with Mushy Peas

Haddock with Curry Sauce

Classic Cod and Chips

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We emerged from Rock and Sole – our clothes smelling wonderfully fried – and took a brisk walk through hip youthful Covent Garden under a slight drizzle.

We pretty much just let our eyes and feet lead us where they wanted to.

And it seemed all roads led to Trafalgar Square!

Yinka Shonibare’s “Nelson’s ship in a bottle” art installment

General Sir Charles James Napier

Whitehall to Big Ben

Admiralty Arch

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Despite the grey skies and sheen of rain on my cheeks, I was giddy.

And also ravenous for more English grub!

So after a quick change and chat with the concierge at the Cavendish, we were off to Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill which was just a few doors down.

Now don’t let the name fool you. “Bar and Grill” may conjure up images of loaded potato skins and Miller Lite, but Bentley’s is a veritable institution.

Opened in 1916 in the same Victorian building it occupies today, Bentley’s gothic facade speaks of a London from the past. But upon entering, Bentley’s gorgeous interior feels contemporary and undeniably British at the same time.

And the food – classic, crafted, local, and infused with pride.

Oysters sourced off the coast of Scotland – delicately sweet then refreshing like a salty spray of sea against rock

Pot of Wild Cornish Mussels – white wine, parsley, garlic, butter

Sole a la Meuniere for Two – butter, lemon, capers, parsley. Incredible.

Steamed Cavolo Nero

Local Cheeses – sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, bleu, fresh figs, arugula

I can truthfully say that I sampled English food from casual to classical all day today, and the exquisite flavors of fresh fish and shellfish, sweet thick butter, good salt, and creamy tart cheese lingered on my tongue all the way home.

Brilliant.