Friday, May 31, 2013

Tulips at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Pantone's got nothing on the tulips at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tulips, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Aska

Squid, radishes, onions, and oyster sauce, Aska

Dinner at Aska was a treat, and an adventure, and a pleasure. We interacted with pretty much everyone on the clock there that night, not because we were shuttled about or poorly dealt with, but because this Brooklyn restaurant's MO dictates that someone different comes to the table each time to explain the dish being served, in chef's whites or not. And with eleven dishes, we met a lot of people.

Molasses shortbread with smoked cheese, Aska

Our meal began with three snacks, including melt-in-your-mouth molasses shortbread topped with smoked cheese. Slaves to sucrose like ourselves won't be sorry to start sweet, but others might wish things kicked off on a more savory note. Either way, it was just one bite before the dried scallop with dots of dill arrived. This was a perfect take on 'chip with dip.'

Dried scallop with dill, Aska

Pig's blood chip and sea buckthorn, Aska

The third snack was the infamous pig's blood cracker with sea-buckthorn jam. We had a nice little chat with one of the cooks about sea-buckthorn, which we had in Mongolia, but which grows near the sea in Scandinavia. Here, the dollop offers a little spark of acid, almost like the way the morning's first sip of orange juice preps you for the day. 

OK, OK . . . so we're burying the lede a bit. This snack has been called a "scabby" "gimmick" that "tastes like rust" by several critics. We have to admire any restaurant so willing to keep a dish that's been so reviled. You know what, though? We thought it tasted pretty good, like a high-protein crispbread.

Caraway rolls and crispy flatbread, Aska

Speaking of bread, the bread bowl included warm caraway rolls and a crispy flatbread, with a huge plop of fresh butter. We got seconds, and almost went in for thirds.

Pickled herring, egg yolk, and dill, Aska

Our first course was pickled herring with egg yolk, onion, and dill. The folks at Aska hand-pick most of their herbs and greens --- the amount of dill we ate at this meal speaks to the season, obviously, as well as the restaurant's Scandinavian inflection. The location might be Brooklyn, the greens' terroir upstate, but the meal's heart and soul came from way, way across the proverbial pond. The pickled herring served as a reminder, just in case you forgot Chef Fredrik Berselius's background. 

The second course was a study in the humble leek: burned leeks curled at the bottom of the bowl, while leek root was fried and curled. The broth a light vegetable, the butter browned. While good, the dish proved awkward to eat: there wasn't enough broth to really slurp, and the leek root came up in one big mass. If this meal were on Sesame Street and everyone broke into a chorus of "One of These Things," then this dish would be the correct answer. 

Leeks, leek roots, and brown butter, Aska

Sweetbreads with nettles and fiddlehead ferns, Aska

Behold the best sweetbreads we've ever had. Thanks to loosely coiled fiddlehead ferns and a creamy sauce made from nettles, bitterness offset this fatty, umami-esque morsel.

Thinking back on this meal (and, uh, looking at the photos), we remember a lot of green --- dill, leeks, fiddleheads, the above sauce made from nettles, the sauce below made from ramps. The green makes sense: as mentioned, Aska is big into foraging. Yet more than once during dinner we found ourselves talking about Halloween, burning leaves, various autumnal things. While our plates constantly and consistently evidenced the bounty of spring, the flavors sometimes cast us into another time. Take, for example, hay-smoked milk, the white blob in the photo below. We've never been tempted to call a cream sauce beautiful --- until now. 
  
Pike cheeks, ramp puree, garlic mustard, and hay-smoked milk, Aska

Underneath the garlic mustard fronds (again with the bitterness) were slightly salted pike cheeks. Our other fish course, shown in the very top photo, consisted of squid, radishes, and onions in an oyster sauce. Both fish dishes epitomized deftness and balance. Everything was utterly controlled. 

Pork neck, blood cream, beet, and spinach, Aska

It wasn't until our final savory course that we made the connection: tradition dictates iron for a couple's sixth wedding anniversary, and here we were, celebrating that very milestone, with pork neck in blood cream. Emily Post would have been proud. Depending on her proclivities, she may also have enjoyed the meat itself, a juicy slab, as well as the carmelized hunk of beet and delicate spinach leaves.

As for the blood cream, it was most decidedly blood cream, and the sauce's lightness couldn't mask its coppery aftertaste. Also, there's somewhat of a psychological hurdle that must be endured or ignored: tell someone they're about to eat blood, and blood is what they'll taste.   

Rhubarb and oatmeal, Aska

Our transition dessert was a return to the snacks, an oatmeal cracker topped with a bit of rhubarb. The main dessert was buttermilk ice cream with whipped herb and dill ice cream. It harked back to the beginning, in the sense that the meal began sweet and ended savory.

Buttermilk ice cream, dill and herb whipped cream, Aska

We really loved Aska. It's terrific, challenging food, on the level of wd-50 in terms of creativity and originality, on the level of Torrisi Italian Specialties in terms of its delicious-to-cost ratio.

CBS New York: Great Boating Adventures

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there. 

The Lilac

Surrounded by water, New York City is perfect for boating. Yes, really. The five adventures described below are guaranteed to help you get cruising, or sailing, or kayaking, or canoeing . . . [read more].

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CBS New York: 5 Fun Sculpture Gardens

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.
 

  EAF Exhibition, Socrates Sculpture Park 

Sculpture gardens offer the best of two lovely worlds: wonderful art and wondrous nature. Here are five in New York worth exploring and enjoying [read more].

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scrabble Street Sign in Jackson Heights

Scrabble street sign, Jackson Heights

This street sign in Jackson Heights honors Alfred Butts, who invented a game called "Criss Cross Words" that relied on both chance and skill nearby in 1931. Today, we call the game "Scrabble," and know that winning depends, in part, on one's knowledge of two-letter words as well as words beginning with "q" that don't use "u."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mighty Quinn's

Pulled pork sandwich, Mighty Quinn's

Though you wouldn't know it today, summer is rapidly approaching, and with it summer foods, like barbecue. The sloppy, sweet, tangy pulled pork sandwich from Mighty Quinn's will leave you wiping your hands and face (and clothes) for hours afterward, but also smacking your lips and rubbing your tummy. 
  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Carol Bove's Caterpillar on Section 3 of the High Line

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

Under construction

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3

On view on the third, as-yet-opened section of the High Line are sculptures by Carol Bove.

Carol Bove, High Line Section 3

High Line Section 3


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CBS New York: 5 Moving Memorials

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there. 

Irish Hunger Memorial

Memorials make us remember those who have gone, but they also inspire us to great feats in our own lives. Read on for five of New York’s most moving tributes to check out this Memorial Day [read more].
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Smorgasburg DUMBO

Among the deliciousness on hand at Smorgasburg DUMBO:

Choconut s'more, S'more Bakery

A chocolate s'more from S'more Bakery, smeared with Nutella and blow-torched to order.

Moro-hibiscus soda, Bolivian Llama Party

A moro-hibiscus soda from Bolivian Llama Party, a stand that wins our award for cleverest name. This dark-pink soda had both berry and floral notes.

Merguez sandwich, Nadia's

A merguez sandwich from Nadia's Moroccan Kitchen. The lamb sausage was pleasantly dried, definitely cured, served on semolina flatbread. We liked the accompanying tomato and cucumbers, which gave the meat a summery freshness.

Apple and ginger soda, Brooklyn Soda Works

Man, this apple and ginger soda was refreshing. Brooklyn Soda Works certainly knows its way around siphons and juices. We love the backstory too: the couple who runs this company is one-half artist and one-half chemist

Miser taco, Taste of Ethiopia

From Taste of Ethiopia, we got a misir soft taco: a stripe of injera folded over spicy red lentils, lettuce, yogurt, and tomatoes. This stand wins our award for most descriptive name. 

Chicken mash dog, Asia Dog

At Asia Dog we tried the Mash, a chicken hot dog smothered in sweet and spicy ketchup, jalapeno mustard, and crushed salt-and-pepper potato chips. Ultimate stoner food. 

Oatmeal cookie, S'more Bakery

And we ended just about where we started, with an oatmeal and salted caramel cookie from S'more Bakery. Yes, Smorgasburg can be crowded, and the name, which one of us can never seem to remember how to pronounce, is utterly awkward. But, golly, every time we go, we remark on its brilliance, from its use of space to its selection of vendors to its fun atmosphere. It's everything you want from a street fair, minus the funky stands selling sweat socks or belligerently pushing massages.

    

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