10
Oct
11

Wafels & Dinges

It was an unusually warm evening in October when I decided to take a few minutes to slow down and enjoy the city.  I am normally very happy in my relationship with the city but I’ve been feeling a bit stifled in the relationship lately.  I was really feeling like I need some space and some time away- that the principle of reciprocity was off balance.    And then I got some perspective in the form of cool and creamy ice cream over a soft and crispy warm waffle.  I had passed the Wafels & Dinges truck the day before and although it looked and smelled amazing and it seemed to live up to the publicity that it has been getting in the foodie pages but the long line in front of it was the only deterrent.  Tonight was the night.  There weren’t mobs of people passing by and through the Time Warner building and there weren’t too many people polluting the air with cigarettes outside so I became the third person in line at the Waffle truck.  The guy in the truck served me with wonderful attitude and he gets an A-plus in customer service.  I had a ton of questions and when I asked what was in the Spekuloos spread, he said, “Rainbows, magic, and a little bit of James Franco,”  as he handed me a sample of it.  “Wow, James Franco is really hot and this spread is really good!” was what came out of my mouth.  The waffle came hot off the iron and the Spekuloos (Belgian gingerbread-cinnamon) spread melted gorgeously over it.  It was topped triumphantly with raspberry-vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  I got it in a mini size which was perfectly sized and proportioned so that  in my mind I didn’t have to convert the calories into time on the treadmill.

I did say something about perspective earlier so here it is, as promised.  There was a question posed to me last week at church: Are you a consumer who takes from the city or do you seek the peace and prosperity (Shalom) of the city and it’s inhabitants?  I had been taking for granted that the city is about people and culture, not necessarily about places and things.  Yes, this was an amazingly delicious wafel that I was enjoying but it represented something more than just a food product.  Someone who is passionate about food was able to turn that passion into a wonderful experience that brings smiles to people’s faces, that brings foodies, families, and friends together, and that serves as an ambassador of Belgian culture.  Why does that song say, “New York, New York.  If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere?”  What makes the city unbearable to me sometimes is exactly what makes it a cultural influencer.   It’s feels crowded and dirty, the weather is fickle, and there are always groups of people speaking their mind (or playing loud instruments badly) whether solicited or unsolicited.  But the thing is, the more needs that arise, the more creativity and resolve rise up to meet them.  While I feel the need to go someplace that resembles nature, I feel more compelled to go down to Wall Street to help Occupy it.  I need to check in on those friends that I haven’t heard from in a while.  And I should find a way to use my talents for good instead of complaining that my talents go unnoticed.  And yes, all this came out of a wafel.

Wafel & Dinges

 

06
Aug
11

Deep Fried Pizza

I read this post on Tasting Table and I must go and try it!  Thank goodness they don’t just throw a whole pie into the deep fryer.  That would be a bit of a mess. At Forcella in Williamsburg, they flash fry the pizza dough and then bake it in an oven that was transported from Naples by a guy who has been making pizza since he was 13.   I still haven’t tried the famous Grimaldi’s pizza, even after walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, and although I generally don’t trek out into Brooklyn too often, this could be worth the journey.  Who’s in?

01
Aug
11

Crème Brûlée Cappuccino

This post begins my homage to California.  Some people may think of California as the land of Arnold Schwarzenegger, SUV’s and surfer dudes but as a California native, I especially appreciate California as an agricultural and culinary oasis.  The freshest fruits and vegetables all year around, perfect weather, mountains and ocean in one scene, and people who are generally laid back, casual, and friendly.

I was reunited with a good friend during my vacation to California.  We hadn’t seen each other in years and I was amazed when she asked me if I would be in California at the exact time that I planned to be there!  We managed to see each other the morning that she flew back to Indiana with her husband and two young daughters.  Her husband was kind enough to let me take her for a couple of hours.  We ended up at one of her favorite coffee shops.  This was no ordinary coffee shop.  Barefoot Coffee Roasters serves a Crème Brûlée Cappuccino that I am craving as I write this post.  I have yet to find another coffee shop that will sprinkle fine sugar over your cappuccino and take a torch to it.  You get the thrill of breaking through burnt sugar without the guilt of eating a cream custard along with the reward of a seriously delicious cappuccino!  Perhaps I can find this drink somewhere in New York City.  I’ll have fun trying, at any rate.

Creme Brulee Cppuccino from Barefoot Coffee

22
Apr
11

Social Eatz

I was searching for a quick and casual place to eat around the Bloomingdale’s area.  I searched Yelp because I am not a huge fan of the girly places near there, such as Serendipity and Alice’s Teacup.  I came across Social Eatz which I have been seeing in the Tasting Table newsletters and has had publicity from Top Chef (which I never watched).  Since I was meeting an adventurous friend, she agreed to try this new place with me.  They don’t open for dinner until 5:30 and we were trying to make it to a Good Friday service by 6:30.  The menu is quite witty and charming.  The food was introduced to us by our server as classic American fare with an Asian twist.  Although the Yelp reviews led me to believe it was going to be hit or miss, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.  We started with Spring Roll appetizers and before the main course they gave us scented hot towels for our hands!  We had flavored unfiltered Ginger Ale- I only recommend this if you are a huge fan of ginger.  It was quite strong.  The Hanoi Burger was very tasty and my Tilapia Tacos were delicious as well.  Flavor, texture, taste, all good.  The fries, though, [insert dramatic pause here] the fries.  Seasoned and served with a spicy cheddar and sake sauce, these shoestring fries were out of this world.  At first what attracted me to the menu was the Korean Beef Tacos.  I’m glad I didn’t order it, though, because I would have been comparing them to the ones I had in L.A. off the Kogi Truck.  That is a post for another day.   If you are on the East Side, try Social Eatz.  The food was good, the service was friendly, and we were served quickly and made it to church on time.

Spring Rolls and Ginger Ale

21
Apr
11

Flor de Mayo

This picture was taken about eight months ago but I need to give Flor de Mayo it’s due.  I was chatting with a colleague in the break room and we were talking about Chinese food.  Since we work on the Upper West Side, he said, “I was craving Chinese food so I went to Flor de Mayo.”  I knew what he was talking about but it just sounded strange.  I actually have never tried the Chinese food there.  I always opt for the Peruvian side of the menu, the Aji de Gallina-Shredded chcken cooked in special spicy sauce with cheese and walnuts.  I always order the green rice with it.

Aji de Gallina with green rice

04
Apr
11

Xi’an Famous Foods

Yet again, the food was much too delicious to take the time to snap a photo.  There are a couple of clips from the Travel Channel and the Cooking Channel on Xi’an Famous Foods Homepage.  I hadn’t realized that there several locations in New York City.  There are two in Flushing and two in Manhattan.  I went to the one inside the Flushing Mall Food Court and since I was running errands in Flushing, I got my order to go.  Yes, it is the stall that has the picture of Anthony Bourdain framed in front.  Although I have had their hand pulled noodles before (excellent), I had a hankering for the cumin lamb burger.  I ordered their Liang Pi, which is a spicy cold noodle dish.  I’ve been craving Liang Pi ever since my parents said they ordered it from a restaurant in San Gabriel, California.  From the Xi’an Famous Foods page:

14
Oct
10

Magnolia Bakery S’more Cupcakes- Absolutely divine

This month’s featured cupcake at Magnolia Bakery was certainly worth the wait.  It was like heaven on a plate.  Graham cake injected with chocolate ganache and topped with marshmallow meringue.  It is my go-to for the month if I have a bad day at work.  I’m sure they would also work as bribes, apologies, or used for buttering someone up before making a request.  I had the S’more and my friend had the Orange.  I hope they have these cupcakes in heaven!

The S'more Cupcake

Orange Cupcake

04
Oct
10

Macaron

I’m sitting inside MacarOn in Midtown, one of my favorite places for coffee. It’s on 36th at 8th Ave. Sandwiches and Salads are made to order. Coffee and milk are organic. MacarOns are gluten free. French pastries, sandwiches, and salads, incredible tasting coffee. Add the WordPress app for iPhone into the equation and what else could a girl in NYC ask for? MacarOn Café

Let me get back to my coffee now.

12
Sep
10

Chinese-Korean Zha Jiang Noodles from Hyo Dong Gak

Conversation number one:

Calvin (Chinese):  What’s the Korean word for three?

Abe (Korean):  Sam

Calvin:  That sounds just like the Chinese word for three.

Abe:  That’s the word the Chinese imposed on the Koreans.

Conversation number two:

David (Korean):  Let’s go have Zha Jiang Mian in K-town.

Alicia (Chinese):  Isn’t Zha Jiang Mian a Chinese dish?

David:  It’s a dish that the Chinese Imperialists brought to Korea.

Alicia:  But the Chinese invented it!

David:  The Chinese may have invented it but the Koreans perfected it!

Alicia:  I guess I can live with that.

Hyo Dong Gak is a Chinese-Korean restaurant in Midtown on 35th Street between 5th and 6th.  I had always watched my dad eat Zha Jiang Mian growing up.  We always celebrate birthdays in our family with noodles and my dad’s favorite noodle dish was Zha Jiang Mian.  I never could bring myself to try them because I couldn’t get over the black colored sauce.  Boy, I never knew what I was missing out on until now.  We ordered ggampoongi for the table.  When it arrived I couldn’t help but call it a Korean General Tso’s Chicken.  The irony in that is that General Tso’s Chicken is not a dish that is found in China.  It is a Chinese-American creation.  But I digress.  The Zha Jiang noodles were amazingly delicious.  And the spicy seafood noodles called jjam bong were nicely done, as well.  The bowls are huge so this is a great place to take guys, Chinese or Korean!  Or anyone else, for that matter.  It’s very reasonably priced.

Korean General Tso's

Zha Jiang Noodles

Jjam Bong Noodle Soup

11
Sep
10

S’mores Cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery

I received inside information from a former employee regarding S’mores cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery (69th and Columbus).  They are only produced on Fridays.  They are graham cracker cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache and topped with marshmallow.  I missed yesterday’s and now I wait in great anticipation for next Friday!

27
Aug
10

Cherries

I couldn’t resist picking up some cherries since the price was so reasonable at the local Asian grocery store.  I bought a pound of them and when I got them home, I noticed that they had appendages.  These pictures might be a little self incriminating in the sense that I may have had a little too much time on my hands…inspired by Joost Elffer’s book Play With Your Food.


17
Aug
10

Shackin’ Up at Rockaway Taco with the fishes

I was introduced to Edible Queens magazine by a friend.  Now that I know it is available for free at the information desk at the Queens Center Mall, I’ll be stopping by to pick one up.  My friends who let me tag along (after I got an unexpected Saturday off) with them to the beach showed me the article entitled, “Shackin’ Up.”  A restaurateur had a vision for Far Rockaway and made it happen.  My friends had already planned on stopping by Rockaway Taco for lunch and even though we thought we would miss the crowd because we went around 2pm, it was clearly not the case when we arrived.  Was there a long line?  Yes.  Was there a 30 minute wait?  Yes.  Was there seating available?  Not really.  Was it worth the wait?  Yes, it certainly was.  Molly even said she’d go out of her way to have their fish taco.  I’d have to agree.  Everything was fresh.  The chips came straight out of the fryer.  The fish tacos were absolutely perfect in texture, taste, dressing, and size.  The cucumber salad was crisp and refreshingly dressed.  The elotes looked really good.  I tried the tofu taco but it wasn’t my favorite fusion dish.  The tofu was marinated well but I would have preferred to eat it over rice.  Oh but that fish taco…was in my dream that night!

Rockaway Taco menu

Chips and Guac, Tofu Taco, and Fish Taco

17
Aug
10

La Pequeña Colombia in Jackson Heights

After a nice unexpected call from a friend, we decided to try something in Jackson Heights.  Although Kai hails from Chinatown, he was in the mood for some Latin food.  And, he wasn’t complaining about the presence of Latin women in the restaurant and neighborhood.  He got a recommendation for La Pequeña and after checking Urban Spoon, I agreed to try it.  I had been wanting to try a new Colombian restaurant since I live in the heart of Little Colombia but I don’t have many friends who are willing to trek out to Queens just to eat.  La Pequeña had a nice variety of entrees on their menu.  I wanted to try their soup of the day but they were out.  After consulting our server about her recommendations, I basically just asked Kai, “Which mound of meat would you like to order?”  We ordered a Platos Tipicos and another steak dish.  It came with bread, salad, beans, rice, eggs, chicharron, and arepas.  I couldn’t stop from stuffing myself, the food was so good.  I need to learn how to cook rice the Colombian way.  I’m used to cooking it with water only but I believe Colombians add onion, garlic, salt, and oil to the water.  Anyone have a recipe?  Please see pictures below.

Bread Basket and Sauces

Platters of juicy, tender, delicousness- not for vegetarians!

12
Aug
10

Coupon for UFC (Unidentified Flying Chickens)

There’s a Groupon for UFC (Korean fried chicken) in Jackson Heights.  It’s only available for four more hours.  Their chicken is out of this world.  I went there quite a few months ago with some coworkers to celebrate a promotion.  We ordered a whole chicken and the Soy Garlic drumsticks as well as the Chicken Dukboki (rice noodles with chicken, onion, and spicy sauce).  Seriously delicious and addictive.

Drumsticks and a Whole Chicken

Chicken Dukboki

30
Jul
10

JP’s in City Island

To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even heard of City Island in the Bronx.  We were actually trying to get to the Chart House in Weehawken for a combined birthday celebration (one of whom was turning 50!) but it just seemed like too much of a project to get there after work without a car.  Since Molly had her car in Queens, she took us to JP’s for seafood.  We drove past a restaurant with a giant neon lobster over it and Molly said, “We’re not going to that one, we’re going to another place.  You might think it is a little dive-y but I really like it.”  We walked in and Air Supply was playing over the loudspeaker.  As the evening progressed we went through love songs of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  I thought it a bit strange while I was there but afterwards I was really missing the love songs.  The service was friendly and courteous.  The food was overall pretty good.  My ribs were excellent, fall-off-the-bone tender.  The steamers were fresh and the fried seafood platter was gigantic.  The fried soft shell crab and the shrimp are worth returning for.

Since Molly had been there a few days before, she had chatted with the owner.  She found out that the music was actually coming from a satellite radio station called “The Love.”  The owner was very nice and gave us all souvenir T Shirts to take with us!

Although I could understand why Molly thought we would think the place was a dive with the booths and life size pirate and giant helm, I had a thoroughly good time at JP’s.

26
Jul
10

Everything Frosted- Chinatown cupcakes

This post on Everything Frosted is overdue.  Time to give it it’s due.  I had just come from dumplings on Mosco Street when this blackboard caught my eye.  Even though I was stuffed from the dumplings, the cupcake flavors were irresistible.  I just had to go upstairs and take a look.  I was greeted warmly by the owner.  He was passionate about his creations and offered to freshly frost a cupcake with less frosting than those that were already in the case.  The choice was hard to make but I finally decided on a green tea cupcake with jasmine vanilla buttercream frosting.  He packaged it in the cutest single cupcake box.  Unfortunately my box took a tumble before I got it home so I couldn’t get a decent picture of it but check out their website (link above).  And go try the cupcakes for yourself.  The cupcakes would be great paired with ice cream from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory!  I’m going to try that next time.

25
Jul
10

Cupcake Cafe

The picture of the cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe on 9th Ave between 40th and 41st are over a year old but their cupcakes are still good.  And gorgeous!  Out of all the cupcake shops I have visited thus far, I think my favorite is still Cupcake Cafe.  We were hosting a dinner and prayer meeting for our Grace and Race events and after the order from Carmine’s didn’t work out, we had to rustle up dinner in Midtown on short notice.  Chinese food from 38th and 8th it was, and then we looked up Cupcake Cafe on the iPhone since we had heard they were good but never tried them before.  Needless to say, they were a hit!

25
Jul
10

Cupcake Stop (truck)

I had just struck out at the Wicked lottery and it was a wicked hot day today.  I headed up to Columbus Circle to take shelter at the air conditioned Borders when I spotted the Cupcake Stop truck parked at the corner of 58th and 8th.  Diana and I split a Vanilla Latte Cupcake.  The cake was nice and dense without being dry.  Ratio of frosting to cake was absolutely perfect.  Definitely recommend it if you pass by.

24
Jul
10

Chicken n’ Rice- 53rd and 6th

People at work were passionately debating a topic one day.  As I listened, all I could make out was what sounded to me like a compound word, “Chickenrice.”  Back and forth.  “53rd is a classic.”  “No, Sammy’s was voted best cart!”  I’ve only eaten from a couple of Halal carts in the city, and neither were 53rd or Sammy’s.  So last night after work we ventured into the city for Chicken n’ Rice at 53rd (and yes, they do actually have a Wikipedia article).  As we drove from Long Island to the city, I came to understand the importance of 53rd.  My coworkers would drive into the city on the weekends just to eat Chicken n’ Rice, and they’d have it multiple days during the weekdays if they were in the city already.  Jonatan said, “My mom always asks me why I need to go all the way into the city to eat.  When I tell her that it’s Chicken n’ Rice she tells me that she’ll make me chicken and rice.  It is not the same, ma!”

We finally made it to the Southwest corner of 53rd and 6th.  My friends were messing with me.  They said, “It’s like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.  You can’t say anything to them!  Just kidding.”  We got there somewhat early, around 11pm.  The line was still very short.  $6 got me a large container of rice with chicken and lamb.  It comes also with salad and pita bread.  Sauce is on the side for you to add yourself.  The white sauce went on it without hesitation but I decided not to mess with the hot sauce.  I was warned that it is extremely hot.  It was a hot night, had a long day at work, and the iconic Chicken n’ Rice really hit the spot.

I grew up in California making midnight runs to Little Cesar’s, Taco Bell, and In-N-Out Burger.  If I grew up in New York, you bet I would have made midnight runs to 53rd.  Up next:  Sammy’s in Jackson.  My other co-worker insists on the comparison.  I’m glad he’s coming with me because there are so many Halal carts in Jackson Heights, I can’t tell which one is Sammy’s!

23
Jul
10

Frankie and Johnny’s

So Molly and I got all dolled up for speed dating and then the event got cancelled.  We did, however, get to spend time with Frankie and Johnny.  Frankie and Johnny’s Steakhouse is on 37th Street between 5th and 6th Ave.  There are two levels with the bar on the bottom level.  Molly and I each ordered a Caesar Salad and shared a dish call Steak Bits that was not on the menu.  They also brought us a beautiful bread basket.  The Caesar Salad was very fresh and the dressing was nice and light.  The steak bits were served on toasts and were perfectly done medium rare.  No steak sauce needed.  Seriously delicious.  We also stopped by The Strand rooftop for a great view of the Empire State Building.  It’s really ok that speed dating was cancelled.  Instead of meeting beefy hunks, we ate bits of steak.





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