Smile – To Go

I’ve been wanting to check out The Smile for a while now but haven’t gotten around to it. I did, however, finally make it to their take away outpost Smile To Go. It’s close to my office and always has delicious sounding sandwiches and salads. It was busy when I got there at 12:15 but not crazy and the line moves quickly. This is probably because their sandwich selections (which are updated daily, though seem to always be the same) are pre-made. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I found out. They also roast their own chicken, make their own salads and have generally tasty looking pastries available. I had trouble deciding what to get but made a last second decision to go with the mini maple bacon sandwich with a side of their kale salad.

Kale with pickled apples

Delicious indeed. The kale salad comes with pickled apple slices and light coat of vinegar and olive oil. Very simple and refreshing, especially on a beautiful summer day like today. It was exactly what I was hoping for. It tasted very…green and fresh. That’s the best way to put it.

Bacon Sandwich

The mini maple bacon sandwich has frisee and date mayo on an itty bitty buttery bun. Did you like that alliteration? You can never go wrong with a bacon sandwich and this was one was a solid choice. It’s small enough so you don’t feel gross for eating a sandwich almost entirely comprised of fatty meat but just enough so that you feel satisfied. I’d definitely say you need one of their side salads or a pastry to go with it though. Not quite enough for a full lunch. At only $4 it was worth every cent.

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Lunch at Caffe Falai

Last week on a rainy, disgusting, but warm Tuesday, my mom came into the city to get lunch with me and do some Christmas shopping. I got to show her my office and the Courthouse. All very exciting things. I decided to take her to Caffe Falai on Lafayette St., which I had been wanting to try for a while. There were two other branches of this restaurant on the LES but both have closed. When we walked in at noon it was nearly empty and the waiters and management were speaking Italian to each other – always a good sign in my opinion. The space is clean and welcoming and once they got cooking it smelled heavenly.

 

Tuna Panini

 

They start you out with a good bread basket and even better olive oil. It was peppery and fragrant, just asking to be soaked up by their fresh bread. We each ordered a panini. My mom went with the tuna, which looked delish. The bread was crusty and crispy on the outside but broke apart easily so that the innards didn’t squish and fall all over the place – that has to be my biggest pet peeve when eating a sandwich. Don’t you just hate when the stuff inside slips out the sides? Drives me nuts.

Mortadella Panini

I went with the mortadella panini, which came with a truffle robiola type cheese. I can’t remember the exact cheese and it’s not on their menu online. Oh well. It was delicious. They did not skimp on the cheese or the meat. The truffle taste was mild but that was good because it was already a pretty rich sandwich. It came on the same bread as the tuna panini.

I’d love to come back here sometime and try out their pastas and other offerings. Their breakfast menu also looks quite good.

Parm

As Dana can attest, the guys behind Torrisi Italian Specialties know what’s up.  Having not been there for lunch, when I heard they were moving this part of their daily offerings next door to a place called Parm, I knew I had to go.  So within the first week they opened, on a Saturday, Emily and I made our way there.  For the less patient, this probably would have been a mistake, and I am not sure if it has died down at all (doubtful), but we arrived slightly before 2pm and were told it would be an hour.  We walked around the area for about 45 minutes, doing some preliminary Christmas shopping and then waited out the last bit inside the small, very crowded establishment.

We were seated at the end of the bar, as opposed to a table, but with a very friendly bartender and great view of the open kitchen, given the option I feel like I would have preferred it anyways.  Emily was dying for a ball o’ mozz after we had it at Torrisi, and I was set on trying their Chicken Parm.  When it came time to order, we were devestated (very briefly) to learn that they were out of mozz balls.  The bartender assured us that the mozz sticks were well worth it so we ordered those, the afformentioned Chicken Parm hero, and garlic bread deluxe (with ricotta and marinara on the side).

Mozz Sticks

The items came one at a time, with the mozz sticks first, eliminating any former sense of devastation.  While you can pretty much never go wrong in ordering these anywhere, I was truly surprised to find how superior they tasted to the countless fried cheese logs I’ve had in the past.  This is a testament to how amazing their fresh homemade mozzarella is. 

Garlic Bread Deluxe

I originally wanted the garlic bread to eat with the ball of mozarella we were no longer getting, but decided to order it anyways, and upgraded to the Deluxe.  While delicious, I can’t decide if I liked it better solo or not.  They do garlic bread perfectly and I almost feel like the add ons take away from that fact.

Chicken Parm Hero

Lastly came the Chicken Parm hero.  They offer 3 different sizes, the hero being the middle size, and it was perfect for sharing since we had apps as well.  Again, a classic that you would think is pretty good almost anywhere, but hard to make outstanding, clearly shined here.  I loved it.  Side note: Any marathon running champs out there who can’t have sesame seeds, if you ever go, make sure you let them know because the hero was seeded but it doesn’t say that on the menu.

This meal left me completely satisfied, having consumed the perfect amount of food for a delicious late lunch.  If you go, plan for a wait, although it is a fun area to walk around.  Or go to the Spring Lounge for a drink as it is a block away.  Or steal a garlic salt shaker from the pizza place across from the Spring Lounge, whatever (too many comments directed at very few readers but anyways).

Lastly, despite my satisfaction, sitting at the bar staring at the open kitchen, I watched them carve what looked to be some amazing turkey breast, and in looking at the menu again while writing this post, there are just so many great options that require more than one return visit.

Well Hello Christmas Season

I’m back from my hiatus. Sorry for disappearing (because I know there are so many of you who read this). I hope everyone had a delicious Thanksgiving – I know I did. I’ve been lacking motivation to write recently, probably for a number of reasons. My camera is out of commission (I’m getting it fixed this week!) and most of money has been going to running clothes, accessories, etc etc rather than food. Running is, apparently, not cheap. But with the Christmas season upon us I’m feeling like there are good things ahead for the blog. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally put a recipe up on here.  

In the meantime, here is my recap of Philadelphia, which will be short and sweet. First, and most importantly, Megan ran her first marathon! What a champ! It was great to be there and cheer her on. I honestly can’t imagine running that far so it was incredible to see her do it. As for food, there is only one thing to get when you go to the city of Brotherly Love – a Philly cheesesteak. My dad, who went to college in Philly, had told me to avoid Pat and Geno’s, which are apparently not that good. And luckily for us our friend, Kate, who lives in Philly now knew a good spot to take us. I really don’t see how a cheesesteak can be bad – it’s meat and cheese on bread – but people in Philly take this very seriously. We went to Jim’s Steaks on South Street. The original was built in 1939 in West Philly but it’s expanded to several locations. We arrived around 2 and there was a giant line twisting around the building. That’s usually a good sign and thankfully it went quickly because we were all starving. I know cheez whiz is a big thing down there but after seeing the giant vat of it, we avoided it and went with american cheese and onions. I thought they were delicious. Cheesy, flavorful, and completely satisfying. I’m not sure there’s a better way to describe it. All in all, our trip was quite the success and I think we all enjoyed Philly a lot more than we thought we would…NYC is still better.

Also, in completely unrelated, random news – my hometown is getting a Dinosaur BBQ. I’m pretty sure this is the most exciting thing to happen in Stamford, ever. Joy to the world!

Porchetta

Porchetta:

Pig heaven or as Wikipedia defines it “a savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition.” Thus, describes the filling of the one and only sandwich available at Porchetta in the East Village. Actually, there’s a mozzarella sandwich too but that’s not why you’re coming here. You’re coming here for the pork in all of it’s fatty, tasty, glory. Porchetta was opened by Sara Jenkins and Matt Lindemulder in 2008 and it has basically become an institution.

Porchetta Sandwich

I mean, just look at that sandwich. Crusty, chewy bread from Grand Daisy stuffed with juicy, fragrant pork. There’s nothing else on the sandwich, just the porchetta. Your taste buds will immediately pick up on all of the seasonings that make this meat so good. There’s garlic, rosemary, sage, fennel, and a hefty portion of salt. This does not want for flavor. The sandwich comes with a trio of meat: the belly, loin and crispy skin (Rick calls it “pork candy”).

Porchetta Plate

You can also order the porchetta plate, which comes with cannellini beans and greens. It’s a hefty serving of food. The space is small but there is some bar seating. It operates mostly as a take out place. Porchetta is on the same block (7th between 1st and A) as Luke’s Lobster, The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, and Caracas Arepas. It’s a culinary destination.

Madison Square Eats Round 2

I spend a lot of my spare time reading up on new food/restaurants to try, so when I read Dana’s post about this festival, I was baffled that I didn’t remember hearing about it, but excited that it was still going on.  Last Saturday, when apparently half of the people I know had the stomach flu, I made my first trip for dinner and was pretty much determined to try all of Dana’s recommendations.  Emily pretended to feel okay enough to at least walk with me to give me company and for that I was grateful.  After walking through the actual park wondering where it was, we finally found it on the street close to Eataly.  We housed the Roberta’s Bee Sting, although the seasonal pie looked great as well.  Next, I had a Mel and Steve from Asiadog, and I asked for chicken but they definitely gave me beef.  I am not complaining though.  Next it was time to finish with the always enticing Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar.  Having had it once before, I am officially a “Crack Head.” (I don’t know if that is a legit saying about people who love this pie but I imagine it is).  Anywho, I was devastated to find out that they were sold out for the night!!  I pulled myself together and “settled” for a belgian waffle from Waffles and Dinges.  We got it with Speculoos spread and whipped cream.  I have no idea what is in that spread but it is heavenly.  Kind of Graham Cracker/Gingerbread-y with the texture of peanut butter.  Having spent some time in Belgium in high school, I think the Belgian Waffle is the first “Yeah this is good, but you should try the real stuff from (insert country here)” food obsession I developed.  My Mom now stocks her house with them when I come home on holidays because I’m a brat I’m spoiled I’m her favorite she loves me.  Waffles and Dinges does measure up to some of the best, though.

Walking around the festival, however, I noticed there were so many good options I wanted to try that it warranted a second trip.  With the flu still trying to take down the city, I went solo Wednesday night and the rain meant no lines. 

Red Hook Lobster Pound Connecticut Roll

I had my heart set on Red Hook Lobster Pound for a Connecticut roll since Saturday so I went there first.  Rather than the more traditional style, this one comes warm tossed in butter.  You know they do it right when big chunks of lobster fill the roll and the warm butter added such great flavor.  I still think Luke’s Lobster is the best roll in town, though.

The Milk Truck Classic

Onto course number two.  I had recently read an article about the best grilled cheese’s in the country and so when I saw the tent for The Milk Truck, which was on the list, I thought this must be fate.  What I didn’t think about was, “Hmm, is all of this going to settle well in my stomach?”  But I was fine.  I digress.  I got the classic, which is gruyere on buttered bread from Balthazar’s.  I have always been a fan of classic grilled cheeses with no fancy shmancy add ins.  While this sandwich was indeed amazing, I still think my Mom makes the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had.  This is probably due to the fact that she uses the best secret ingredient ever, Velveeta but I cannot reveal it.

Sigmund's Truffle Cheddar

Finally, time for some Crack Pie!  Wait, you have got to be kidding me.  Why is the Momofuku Milk Bar tent closed up?  This can’t be happening.  I feel like Tyrone Biggums right now, here for the 5 O’clock free crack give away and there is no crack to be found.  (I hope someone gets that reference.)  I decided to finish my meal with a pretzel from Sigmund’s, and treated myself to an additional cookie from there too to eat my sadness.  I had the cheddar truffle pretzel which was good, but not memorable.  This was later followed by the cookie which was peanut butter chocolate chip, with pretzel pieces baked in.  Normally I am not big on peanut butter flavor in cookies, however, it was subtle enough that the cookie was actually awesome.  The pretzel added a great salty balance to the sweet and the cookie was probably the tiniest bit under cooked, aka perfectly cooked.

Sigmund's Cookie

Despite my need for an intervention, as well as my one too many Mama’s boy references, the festival was, all in all, quite a success.  (Ends today for anyone wanting to go one last time)

Pane Panelle

Pane Panelle

Panelle are fried chickpea fritters that hail from the streets of Sicily, most notably, Palermo. They’re usually placed between two pieces of bread, which is commonly referred to as a “sandwich.” Yep, another sandwich here on BeerFoodLove. Embrace it because they’re glorious. Luckily, you don’t have to travel all the way to Sicily (though you should because it’s awesome) to have one of these bad boys. Pane Panelle in Tribeca serves up one of the most highly regarded sandwiches in all of NYC. It’s been voted one of the best by Grub Street and is frequently discussed on Serious Eats.

Pane e Melanzane & Caponata

Their eponymous sandwich, the pane e panelle, is made of the chickpea fritters, ricotta, and caciocavallo cheese. While this sounded delicious, and it is their most well-known, I decided to go with the melanzane e panelle. As the name implies, it comes with eggplant, panelle, and pecorino cheese on a small round roll. Let me tell you, it is a small sandwich and at $9 comes with a hefty price tag. I’m not saying it’s not worth trying, because it is, but if you’re starving this is not the sandwich you want to eat. The chickpea fritters are fairly filling and the eggplant helps to give it a bit more bulk but this won’t be filling you up.

Close up shot

I have to say, the sandwich itself is ridiculously tasty. The chickpeas are fried to perfection – light, not greasy, full of flavor. The eggplant is equally as good and the pecorino gives it a salty kick. The bread is wonderous. Not at all tough but doesn’t fall apart. It matches the ingredients perfectly. Really a well-balanced sandwich. Each sandwich comes with a side of their caponata. It’s a nice addition to the meal, though after eating the eggplant in the sandwich I didn’t really want much more of it. You can only eat so much eggplant, you know?