Friday, November 29, 2013

Milkflower

Spicy soppressata pizza, Milkflower

What exactly is a milkflower? We don't know, nor did the pizzas we and our good pal Howard ordered at a newly opened pizzeria in Astoria named for one help elucidate the word's meaning. Perhaps Milkflower's spicy soppressata (above) might have come out of the high heat a little sooner, charred as its bits were. Nevertheless, it was admirably spicy and sweet, thanks to chili flakes and honey, respectively. Does it beat the versions on offer at Roberta's or Paulie Gee's? Probably not. But we left not a scrap or bit in the pan. 

The aptly named sausage (below) had hefty chunks of cremini mushrooms interspersed among small chunks of sausage, tomatoes, onions, and mozzarella. Unlike many a Neapolitan pie, these two didn't get soggy in the center, and both boasted a well-salted, nicely crisped crust. Between Tufino and Milkflower, Astoria is trying to give Brooklyn a run for its equally freshly made mozzarella and puffier pies. It still has a ways to go, but it's nice to see it enter the race.  

Sausage and cremini mushroom pizza, Milkflower
   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2010

Wherever you are and however you're celebrating, we wish you and yours all the best.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Autumn Donuts at Doughnut Plant

Apple cinnamon donut, Doughnut Plant

Currently on offer at the Doughnut Plant: apple cinnamon, with chunks of apple and a sweet glaze (top), and pumpkin, with sugared seeds and pumpkin glaze. They make a welcome addition to any breakfast table, or afternoon tea, or evening snack. 

Pumpkin donut, Doughtnut Plant
  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hide-Chan Ramen

Spicy hakata ramen, Hide-Chan Ramen

A longtime midtown favorite, Hide-Chan Ramen wowed us with its spicy hakata ramen. Can you see the chili oil in the photo? Well, there was a lot more where that bubbled up from. And the pork chunks were some of the tenderest we've ever had in ramen.

What's unusual about this noodle shop is that it lets you specify the type of noodles: very firm, firm, medium, or soft. These aren't arbitrary or meaningless distinctions, either: the medium noodles resembled spaghetti just this side of doneness, while the firm ones were excellently al dente.

Vegetable ramen, Hide-Chan Ramen

Lurking beneath all those vegetables is, indeed, a bowl of broth. Alas, this ramen lacked the piquant kick of the spicy hakata, but a polite request for some chili oil was granted --- and helped the dish immensely. Really, though, the top photo is where it's at. Feel free to scroll back up. 

We also got pork and shrimp dumplings, half-off during happy hour. Good, good, but have we mentioned that spicy ramen?  

Pork and shrimp dumplings, Hide-Chan Ramen
  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spice Symphony

Paneer chili, Spice Symphony

A few months ago we tried to eat at Spice Symphony, only to be politely turned away for lack of a reservation. We had no such difficulties in October. By then, Ligaya Mishan's glowing Hungry City review in the Times had been out for a while, and folks had perhaps moved onto her more recent favorites, such as Skal.

The paneer chili (top) might have been a main --- all it needed was a side of rice or bread to soak up the sticky sweet sauce, made from chiles and ginger. The chunks of cheese stayed firm, the scallions provided bite. Of everything we ate, this appetizer best showcased the restaurant's dual focus on Chinese and Indian food.

Spinach chaat, Spice Symphony

The spinach chaat (above) fell more decidedly on the Indian side of things, while the tellicherri pepper chicken (below) again revealed the kitchen's deftness with mixing and matching flavors and preparations. According to Mishan, the head chef calls his rustic style "grandmotherly cooking." Whatever you call it --- fusion, unrefined, inherited, a little of this, a little of that --- it works.     

Tellicherri pepper chicken, Spice Symphony

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cho Dang Gol

CDG Dumplings, Cho Dang Gol

Cho Dang Gol calls itself the most famous Korean restaurant in New York City. We found ourselves there one Friday evening not so long ago, on one of the first truly chilly nights of the fall, along with lots of families and couples, most speaking Korean. Sometimes, we suppose, you can find truth in advertising. We began with CDG dumplings, almost vacuum-packed with pork and shrimp.

Shrimp bibimbap, Cho Dang Gol

Bibimbap was our reason for visiting, and alas was the weakest part of the meal. The baby shrimp and veggies were fresh and fine, but the rice lacked the char that makes this dish so special and so texturally revelatory. Truthfully, the kinda mushy rice let us down. 

Banchan, Cho Dang Gol

Behold, the banchan. Of particular note is the homemade tofu, a "soft white custard [with] the texture of overwhipped cream," as Ruth Reichl noted in her 1998 review (above, far right). Not much has changed since then as far as the fermented soybeans go.

The kimchi biji was a mini cauldron of meat and spice, a flavorful stew of pork and more soybeans and pickled vegetables. Cho Dang Gol's website doesn't explain what makes it the most famous Korean restaurant in the city --- only that it is. We'd hazard, however, that this soup has something to do it.    

Kimchi biji, Cho Dang Gol

Monday, November 18, 2013

OHNY: Edward Hopper's Studio

OHNY: Edward Hopper's Studio
 
This is Edward Hopper's studio, where he lived and worked from 1913 to 1967, in the Village, now part of New York University. We saw it as part of Open House New York, but you can see it by appointment

CBS New York: Ramen in Midtown

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

Totto spicy ramen, Totto Ramen

In recent years, New York City has become a ramen town. This means you can get big bowls of this Japanese noodle soup in many neighborhoods, from the East Village to Harlem. Here are our five picks for the best ramen in Midtown [read more].

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chikalicious

Warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream, Chikalicious

At Chikalicious, the desserts are almost too pretty and dainty to eat. Almost. Sitting at the bar watching Chika Tillman and her staff carefully sculpt each dessert --- such as the warm chocolate tart with pink peppercorn ice cream or the lemongrass panna cotta with limeade sorbet --- you can't help but admire their dedication to craft, even as you know that you're going to utterly destroy these perfect creations when they're placed in front of you. It's bittersweet, in a way. But mostly sweet.

Lemongrass panna cotta with limeade sorbet, Chikalicious

Amuse bouche, Chikalicious

Three-spice pound cake, coconut marshmallows, espresso chocolate, Chikalicious
  
  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sir David Attenborough at AMNH


Mandarin duck, Bronx Zoo

Last night Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster, octogenarian, and hero to naturalists everywhere, gave the capstone lecture for the American Natural History Museum's celebration of Alfred Russell Wallace's centenary. The standing ovation lasted almost as long as the talk. 

Sir David focused on Wallace's commitment to and interest in the natural world, specifically the birds-of-paradise that led to both his theory of natural selection and the development of the Wallace Line, what we now know to be patterns of biodiversity based on continental shifts and drifts. The talk featured Sir David's plainspoken-ness, occasional malapropism, and absolutely infectious enthusiasm. If we hadn't had to go home and feed our cat, we'd probably still be clapping.  
  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CBS New York: Best Candle Shops

Hey everyone, we're also writing about New York for CBS New York. Periodically we'll link to content here that we produced there.
 
Evening aarti on the Ganges, Varanasi

Light up your life by making a purchase from one of New York’s best candle shops. Everyone looks better by candlelight, and, depending on what kind you buy, everything smells better too [read more].

CBS New York: Best Dishes for Two

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

Pizza rustica + pizza delicata (peppers, sausage, bresaola, ricotta, cherry tomatoes), Numero 28

Everything’s better when you’re together, as the saying goes, but the dishes below truly hue to that maxim: indeed, they’re designed to be split. These are some of the best dishes in New York, and the fact that they’re meant to be shared means you won’t have to begrudge your dining companion a single bite. There’s enough for you both [read more].

Monday, November 11, 2013

Landbrot

Bear paw, Landbrot

This is a bear paw from Landbrot Bakery & Bar in the West Village. Why, yes, it is almost as big as an actual bear paw, but far flakier, friendlier, and frosting-covered.
 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Pok Pok NY

Kaeng Hung Leh, Pok Pok Ny

Roughly a billion years ago, give or take, we dined with our friend Howard at Pok Pok NY, Andy Ricker's temple of Thai in Red Hook. The food was clean, sharp, elevated, and bright, especially the kaeng hung leh (top), which mixed pork belly and pork shoulder curry with ginger, palm sauce, turmeric, tamarind, burmese curry powder, and pickled garlic. Also memorable was the papaya pok pok (below), a refreshing mix of green papaya, fish sauce, salted black crab (i.e., the thing that looks like a mushroom cap), tomatoes, lime, long beans, peanuts, dried shrimp, tamarind, palm sugar, garlic, and many, many, many Thai chilies. Definitely order the recommended sticky rice alongside this dish. 

Is Pok Pok worth the generally epic wait? We can't rightly say, in part because we walked right in at 6.30 on a Monday --- admittedly not most people's ideal time to eat. That ratio of hype to quality to amount of time spent on line is as individual as how spicy is too spicy or how pricy is too pricy or how blond is too blond. We went in hungry, came out full, and were in our PJs by 9. In other words, exactly how we like it.      

Papaya pok pok, Pok Pok Ny

Ike's Vietnamese fish sauce wings, Pok Pok Ny

Grilled corn with coconut, Pok Pok Ny

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Lam Zhou

Dry noodles with minced pork sauce, Lam Zhou

We have a new go-to spot for hand-pulled noodles: Lam Zhou. Here, women roll plate after plate of dumplings, a veritable factory of flavor, as families, couples, and friends jostle for space at one of the communal tables, and the kitchen staff weaves in and out of the dining area.

To order, you point --- at the big menu taped to the wall, or to your tablemates' feed. Most everyone gets the juicy pork dumplings, along with some variation of noodles plus soup, such as the dry noodles with minced pork sauce (top), a mess of al dente tangles that get coated in meat and chili oil, or the fish ball soup (below), with a surprising peppery broth and plump balls filled with more pork. Despite the crowds, the dining room has a kind of hush, just the soft sounds of slurping punctuated by the vicious, violent WHAP WHAP WHAP of noodle dough being pummeled into shape.  

Fried dumplings, Lam Zhou

Fish ball soup noodle, Lam Zhou
  

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

CBS New York: Best Breakfast Sandwiches

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

Biscuits with raspberry butter, Maggie Brown

You know what they say: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start your morning off right by ordering one of New York’s best breakfast sandwiches. You’ll be able to handle anything that comes at you for at least the next several hours [read more].

CBS New York: Unusual Candy Stores

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

Old Time Favorites, Economy Candy

New York has no shortage of places to get your sugar fix, well, fixed. But if you can’t get enough of the sweet stuff, check out five of the city’s most unusual candy stores [read more].

CBS New York: Prettiest Cemeteries

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

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

The phrase “Rest in Peace” takes on a whole new meaning at New York’s prettiest cemeteries. Home to the wealthy, the famous, the well-connected, and, in some cases, the long-forgotten, these areas make for pleasant strolls and nice afternoons [read more].

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Measuring and Mapping Space at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Library of Celsus, Ephesus

Nestled among manses on the Upper East Side, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World may be small, but its current exhibition contains the whole world. Measuring and Mapping Space focuses on Greco-Roman geography and its Renaissance revival, demonstrating through maps, kraters, books, and coins how Greek and Romans from Herodotus to Hadrian imagined and represented the physical world. Nifty details abound --- did you know that Roman coins have been found in the Mekong River? --- and the mix of precision and fantasy that characterizes ancient geography makes you long for the days when you knew exactly how many stadia you had to travel before battling griffins.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Wechsler's

Currywurst, Wechsler's

Wechsler's bills itself as "a Taste of Berlin in the East Village." In our case, that means currywurst with a side of fries (above), a forlorn chicken-and-apricot sausage (below), and a cinnamon-spiced side of red cabbage (way below). As the weather turn autumnal (at last), this kind of hearty fare hits the spot, Germanic or otherwise.    

Chicken and Turkish apricots sausage, Wechsler's

Red cabbage, Wechsler's
  

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