Hello SUMMER

Today is the official first day of summer and apparently Mother Nature wanted to remind us of this fact by giving us our first 90+ day. Thanks a lot. Anyone who lives in NYC or has visited NYC on a day like today knows that it is completely unbearable. The subway is about 20 degrees warmer than it is outside, it smells worse, it’s humid, and stuffy. It also kills your appetite. Who wants to even think about eating food when it feels like you’re in a furnace?

Food Kiosks at the Brooklyn Bridge

That being said, I sit in an ice box all day long, so I still get hungry. I decided that I would hit up the food kiosks by the Brooklyn Bridge because they’re so close to me. I had planned on grabbing a couple tacos from Taqueria Nixtamal but when I got there I saw that La Newyorkina had a little cart. They make Mexican paletas, frozen ice pops, and what could be more perfect on a day where it feels like 96 degrees out? They had quite a few delicious sounding flavors but I decided on grapefruit. I figured it would be fruity and acidic, which meant extra refreshing. And it did not disappoint. Nice and tart with just a bit of sweetness. I enjoyed it while watching all the tourists look at the bridge. At $4 it is certainly the priciest popsicle I’ve ever had but that’s NYC for ya.

My grapefruit paleta

Big Apple BBQ Festival

Hogs are smoked and ready at Scotts

I can’t imagine why this was my first year attending the Big Apple BBQ festival. I’m disappointed in myself. A weekend with some of the country’s best pit masters should never be missed. I didn’t grow up eating lots of bbq, I’m not from the South, I haven’t spent lots of time in the Midwest so my expectations are pretty much always blown away when I get to taste legit BBQ. My preference is for pulled pork, specifically from the Carolinas where they have a nice vinegary bbq sauce to go along with their melt in your mouth pork. That was my plan of attack for last Sunday. All I wanted was the pig and that’s what I got. I only made it to 2 vendors but it was enough to make me deliriously happy.

Scott’s pulled pork and cracklings

Rodney Scott was my first stop. He has a BBQ joint in Hemingway, South Carolina and I had read an interview with him at Serious Eats. It was enough to convince me to check him out. Like I said, I don’t know the first thing about good BBQ. There are crazy fanatics out there who know all the different regions and what makes good pulled pork or brisket etc etc. I just know what tastes good and Scott’s peppery, vinegary pork was delicious. You got a plate of the pulled pork, which I promptly doused with extra sauce, and side of their fried pork skins. It had a little bit of spice but not overwhelming by any means. One thing it was not short on was flavor.

Ed Mitchell’s pulled pork sandwich

Next we hit Ed Mitchell’s bbq, who’s from Raleigh, NC. The line for his station was exceptionally long but it moved quickly. Once we got our food it was clear why everyone was willing to wait for it. My God. His pulled pork was on a whole other level of delectable. It wasn’t dry, the sauce packed a punch, and it was ridiculously tender. I would have gone back and gotten another sandwich if I didn’t already feel sick from how much I had eaten. Everyone I was with agreed that his bbq (he also had turkey) was insanely good.

Whole Hogs

I wish I could have tried more places but I was just too full. Next year I’ll try to get a few more places in. I’ll definitely be going back to Ed Mitchell’s though. I’m still dreaming about it.

Sarong Party Girls at Masak

Masak Menu

Last Friday was our first monthly group dinner in a while. We wanted something a bit cheaper (it’s wedding season after all…) and in a fun location so we could grab drinks afterwards. Masak definitely fit that description. It’s a small restaurant in Alphabet City serving food from Singapore. It’s been getting some hype lately so we were happy to check it out. The first order of business was getting some libations. Masak has a pretty stellar drink list. It’s short but interesting. I got the Sarong Party Girl and man was it good. Bourbon, pineapple, and ginger is apparently a fantastic combo.

Chili Crab Dip with Mantou

We ordered 2 apps for the table, which came recommended by our very cheerful waiter: the Chili Crab Dip and their special Spring Rolls. The crab dip came with mantou, which are fried golden rolls. They’re dense but fluffy on the inside and perfect for scooping up the dip. Nothing to complain about here. They even gave us extra mantou when we quickly finished off the ones provided to us. The spring rolls were good and honestly I couldn’t even tell you what was in them. Spinach? There was some green leafy vegetable inside. They were fried to a crispy perfection.

Burger & Fries

Almost everyone at the table got the burger for dinner since I had read a review saying it was a good one. The burger was HUGE. This is not for the faint of heart. You must be hungry to devour this monstrosity. I’ve only recently begun to like burgers and my preference is for thin ones with less meat. This is not one of those burgers. It still tasted good, just not what I look for in my burgers.

Kim, Me, and Megan

Kim ordered the Spicy Rock Shrimp and Grits. It was good and spicy but in the best kind of way. Sometimes things are spicy just to be spicy but this was a good kind of heat. Not that I know the first thing about grits but these tasted good and creamy, which is what I suspect they should be like? Definitely enjoyable.

I had the soft-shell crab (picture to be added later), since I’ve been craving one for a while and didn’t get any while down in Rehoboth. Even though I ordered the appetizer portion they did not skimp. It was a hefty crab. It was light and crisp and definitely cooked just right. It came with mushrooms and asparagus over a chive sauce. Everything was good but there was definitely something on the plate that was a bit too salty. It started to overwhelm me by the time I finished the dish. For $15 I definitely got my moneys worth and even if it was a little too salty I enjoyed it.

Dave, Mari, and Liz

I’d like to go back and try some of their other main courses to see how they stack up. I don’t know much about Singaporean food but I’d like to experience more.

Foodie Musings: Lewisburg Edition

This past weekend was Rick’s 5 year reunion at Bucknell. 5 years outside the bubble. That’s a year more than you actually get to spend at the happiest place on earth. Sigh, it won’t be long until that’s me. I was just glad I got to tag along, as I hadn’t been there since House Party ’10. Lots of things have changed in LBurg but it really felt as though I had never left. Obviously, upon returning, the things that I deemed most important revolved around food. During my 4 years there I never thought I would miss the food in Lewisburg, it’s not exactly gourmet, but man do I miss it. On the short list of places to go were The Bison (one of Bucknell’s 2 places to eat on campus), The Bull Run, The Freez, and MSD (Market Street Deli).

NOOOOOOOOO! RIP MSD

MSD is a staple in the Lewsiburg dining scene. They make the best breakfast sandwiches, delicious breakfast burritos, greasy sandwiches, and if you ask my friends, the best tuna sandwich. Kids eat there to cure hangovers and, in a brilliant move my junior year, they opened late night for all the drunkards to get their 3 am grease fix. Needless to say, the place is always doing good business. So, when we drove past it on our way into town and saw that it was dark and papered up, I was a bit confused. MSD, closed? How could that be? Apparently, it was sold last year to two guys (possibly Bucknell grads? No one seemed to know for sure) and they disappeared (to Greece?) and never came back and now it’s closed…for good. I shed a tear for our fallen comrade and secretly thanked God that I had graduated before this catastrophe occurred.

There were still plenty of things to eat. First stop on Friday morning was the Bison. Since my go to bfast sandwich place was gone, I needed to get my hangover cure elsewhere. The Bison does your standard college fare – sandwiches, salads, burgers, etc. The bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich was fine, if a bit underwhelming, thanks to the stale bagel (should have gone with a croissant!). Still, being back there was awesome and made me a bit misty eyed.

Damn it’s good

Lunch at the Bull Run Inn meant only one thing: Bull Dip. To anyone outside Bucknell you might think of this as ‘spinach artichoke dip’ but Bull Dip is so much more. I challenge you to find anything better. It can’t be done. Most everyone at our table of 13 got wings (their wings are fantastic) but my stomach was not happy so I stuck with a grilled cheese, which was delish.

It always goes down smooth

For a midday snack we hit The Freez. The Freez is the local soft serve ice cream spot that makes Blizzard like treats, except obviously these are better. Can’t be beat! They’ve got a bajillion different soft serve flavors and you can then mix in as many candy, nut, cookie add-ins as you want. Not only that, but you can then add fudge or peanut butter down the center hole left by the mixer (yeah, get your laughs out now you sick-o). They come in 3 sizes but anything larger than a small is ridiculous. The small is enough to feed 2 people minimum. I’ve never even seen anyone attempt a large. Rick and I opted for mint oreo, a classic choice.

Veggies galore

That night we hit up Vennari’s Pizza, the best pizza in Lewisburg. That may not be saying much but their veggie pizza is my favorite veggie pizza ever. It’s so loaded with vegetables that you can’t even pick it up. Our trip there was a bit disappointing, as the pizza was so heavy that we couldn’t even get it off the pizza tray. Still tasted just as good as I remember so I’m not complaining.

On Saturday morning we hit Cherry Alley, which I didn’t frequent until my senior year. It’s a gem. Really, really good breakfast food. Not just good for Lewisburg but legit tasty food. Their breakfast burrito is to die for. I needed something a bit less heavy so I got the Mediterranean omelet. Filled with feta, olives, tomatoes, and red onion, it was a standout. So was my iced chai, which revived me (I can’t recover from drinking like I used to).

The Caf

The rest of Saturday we ate at school functions so nothing to report on there. Sunday morning we went to the Caf for our final meal. Oh, the Caf. What is there to say? Unlimited greasy food and a wall of cereal. No wonder I gained the freshman 15. It was exactly what I expected it to be. Mediocre cafeteria food that tastes phenomenal after a night of drinking. I forgot how great the waffle maker was. And the bins of bacon and sausage.

The Best Place on Earth

There’s no place like home.

4 Year Anniversary at Gwynnett St.

Crazy to say but Rick and I have been together for 4 years. I can’t believe it myself. Time flies. To celebrate, Rick booked a reservation at new Williamsburg hotspot, Gwynnett St. The head chef is Justin Hilbert who worked previously at wd~50. Needless to say, he has a few culinary tricks up his sleeve.

Slow Poached Egg…and the shadow of my iPhone

Every review we read raved about their whiskey bread so we obviously started with that. It comes out warm and looks a lot like corn bread. It’s got a touch of sweetness and just a hint of whiskey and came in really handy with our other appetizer. We ordered the slow poached egg, which came with pork, peas, pecorino, and the most flavorful broth I think I’ve ever come across (save maybe Ippudo). Dipping the bread in that delicious concoction is about as good as it gets. Plus, it’s so pretty!

Chicken & assorted veggies

Rick decided on the Amish chicken with  Japanese cucumber, potatoes, and hay ash (apparently it is cool to cook with ashes?). From what I’ve read (NYTimes review) the chicken is brined with the ash but it didn’t taste overly smokey to me. Just incredibly moist and juicy. If you can use those two adjectives to describe chicken, then it’s been cooked perfectly. Rick and I loved it.

The Best Duck Ever

I ordered the duck and wild rice. I don’t think I’ll be able to order duck anywhere else because there is nothing that can possibly compare to this dish. The skin is crispy and under it is a layer of fat that has so much flavor it might make your brain explode from over stimulation. The duck breast is cooked to medium rare and is truly fantastic. This dish made my night.

Mint Sponge Cake & Pickled Green Strawberries

Then we got to dessert. It’s an experience. The menu in no way prepares you for whatever you’ve just ordered. My dessert was simply called, “Mint, milk, and green strawberries.” What I got was a mint sponge cake, with pickled green strawberries, ice cream, and some sort of crunchy salty concoction. It was totally different and felt light and refreshing. I preferred Rick’s choice though. He got the “milk chocolate, peanut, and black currant.” Essentially a slab of milk chocolate, with crunchy, salty peanuts, and black currant ice cream. As Rick pointed out, it almost tasted like a PB&J, except with the addition of chocolate. Yum.

Chocolate & Peanuts

We agreed that we’ll have to come back and try everything else out on the menu. It’s small and cute and the food is fantastic.

The Great Googa Mooga?

The Crowd at Googa Mooga

Oh Googa Mooga, I may never know what the hell your name means, but I shall look back fondly on our time together. Though the crowds were voluminous, the lines lengthy, and the wait for booze maddening, I don’t regret a moment spent at the festival. After all, it was free (not the food or booze) and it was a gorgeous day. Dave, Liz, and I arrived right after it started, which meant a manageable number of people. There were few lines and we got food quickly. By midday it was a different story but I’d say all things considered (it was the first year of the festival) the organizers did a good job. There were glitches: the people serving the booze showed up late and they didn’t have enough vendors for the number of people at the event. Hopefully these are things they rectify for next year.There was also no cell phone service but that’s sort of what happens when you get 20,000 people together in a small space.

The Slider from DuMont

Anywho, onto the food! We started at the Hamburger Experience. Liz wanted to try the DuMont slider. I’ve only recently become a burger fan and this was as good a burger as I’ve had in recent memory. Very simple, good, juicy beef with red onions, pickles, and tomato. Yum.

Mmm Roast Suckling Pig

After that we decided to divide and conquer. Liz got a brisket taco from Hill Country BBQ, Dave snagged the foie gras doughnut from Do or Dine, and I picked up a grilled cheese from Little Muenster. What to say about a doughnut filled with extremely rich foie gras and jelly? Way too big in my opinion. I don’t know how anyone could eat the whole thing. I had a bite and that was about enough for me. I loved my grilled cheese. They made it with Oaxaca and cotija cheese, corn puree, and tomatillo. Gooey and full of flavor. Right up my alley. It was so good that I didn’t even manage to get a picture of it before it was inhaled.

BLT From Landhaus

Next we tried the duck hotdog from Craft. It came with pickled cabbage slaw. I thought it was okay. The hotdog itself was quite tasty but as a whole I was not super impressed. Not my favorite bite of the afternoon. We then meandered over to the Hamaggedon area where Dave got a sandwich from Porchetta, which we all know is beyond delicious, and  Liz and I split the BLT from Landhaus. It was made with thick cut bacon and was definitely better than any BLT I’ve ever had.

Stracciatella Pizza from Co.

After a prolonged rest we decided pizza would be our last stop of the day (before hitting dessert obviously). I’ve been wanting to try Jim Laey’s Co. for a while. After all, his no-knead bread is legendary so I wanted to see what he could do with the pizza pie. We got the Stracciatella pizza, which came with stracciatella cheese, tomatoes, arugula, and a nice hit of spice. Good char on the crust, super fresh tomatoes, and the cheese was fabulous. I definitely have to get to the restaurant to try out his other pizzas.

Dessert was a horchata shake from Big Gay Ice Cream. I’m a fan of anything cinnamon so I was not disappointed by this. Cool and refreshing on a hot day. When we left, the park was completely packed, and lines were ranging from a 30 minute wait to an hour wait. We had all wanted to try to the soft-shelled crab sandwich from Vinegar Hill House but it consistently had the longest lines of the day so we didn’t bother. I had a great time though and I’m glad we went.

Central Park Saturdays

In college, spring weekends were reserved for day drinking at the downtown houses. Girls would wear sun dresses, guys would wear whatever because college guys are slobs. Everyone would gather to celebrate the nice weather, play games, and generally enjoy life the way only a college student can. We miss this spring tradition…we miss it a lot. And so, here in the city where none of us have outdoor spaces, we head to the park to do our day drinking.

Enjoying our picnic

We set up camp on Cedar Hill with our cheese, fruit, newly purchased Girl Scout cookies, and champagne. Of course, drinking isn’t technically allowed in the park but that doesn’t actually deter anyone from doing it. Just avoid making a scene or being too loud…or shooting champagne corks off all over the place….

Liz, demonstrating the proper way to open champagne

We had a nice spread of food. 3 different cheeses, (including stracchino, which was our favorite discovery in Italy), fresh fruit, salami, and fresh bread. Stracchino, also known as crescenza, is a mild, soft, cows milk cheese from Lombardy. Spread it on a good piece of bread, layer arugula, and prosciutto, and warm it up to create the best sandwich you’ll ever eat. You’re welcome.

Can't you just feel the happiness?

Anyway, it was a wonderful day spent in the park with good friends. I wish every weekend could be like this.