NEW YORK ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

28 April 2008


First, our flight was cancelled. Fortunately, we were still at home when we heard about this. John immediately got on the phone and got us a new flight. This meant we suddenly had an extra four hours in which to do things like loll about, find some plane snacks, and eat breakfast.


I made cabbage and red pepper pancakes, essentially these. Sometime I need to make a batch of these with zucchini, red pepper, and corn. Also one with roasted tomatoes and feta and maybe some mint. Yes. They were an excellent idea for pre-plane sustenance.

Plane snacks:
- apples
- almonds and cashews
- the end of a bag of good trail mix with dried apricots.

I'm going to write about restaurants, since we ate at plenty of them, and it was kind of a bitch to find them even though we were basically living in the exact center of foodtown.

- Bread and Olive: I went here the first day, after coffee in Bryant Park and a couple hours in the that library with the lions. That one. I was actually pretty annoyed by the NYPL, since the only things accessible to humans are a couple reading rooms. No explorable stacks! You have to request all books from a librarian! It was way more a museum than a functional resource center. I made a long list of sources to find elsewhere. It was basically me tantalizing myself with the card catalog. Granted, that was pretty good, but still.

Ok. I wanted to find some decent lunch, so I went and asked a librarian about wifi access. She had no idea what I was talking about. Nice librarianship there. I had to spell it out as WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS. Oh, there isn't any of that up here in the main gigantic reading room! I went down to periodicals, where there was any of that, and went through pages of NYC restaurant business before finding said Bread and Olive.

I felt better once I got there and ordered a falafel sandwich for $1.75 less than they cost in downtown Palo Alto. The salad selection looked pretty awesome too. The fassoulia, lima beans in some vinaigrette-looking dressing, had beans the size of a silver dollar. If I lived there, I would be all over that for lunch.

- Home on 8th: This is a Chinese place with both a meat and a vegetarian fake meat menu. We don't generally do a lot of specific fake meat (besides chik patties), just straight up beans, tempeh, and tofu. So the idea of soy in particular fake meat form was kind of foreign, yet appealing. We went for dinner. Iced green tea: exceptionally good. Cold sesame peanut noodles and ginger soup: also superlative. We could've subsisted on just those, had they not been small appetizer sizes. So good! Then we got our entrées: fried eggplant and fake squid; cashew fake chicken. They were ok. It was disappointing just because of the the completely perfect appetizers. Also it is apparently not the best idea to order fake squid if you're not especially into real squid. Lesson learned.

- Astoria Beer Garden: here in the bar we mostly had beer (Spaten), shockingly enough, but I also got a big mild plate of chicken paprikash from the Czech restaurant downstairs. It was pretty solid. Heavy sauce with soft bread and chicken was exactly what I wanted with beer. It would've been even better had I gotten dumplings. Our friend Matthew had a similarly heavy and good plate of pork and sauerkraut. Neither of us could come close to finishing.

- Angelica Kitchen: Bethany told us repeatedly that we had to go here, so we did. Their green tea, hot this time, was also very good. I just want green tea all the time. Appetizers: soba noodles again; curried cashew spread with vegetables. I only got one or two bites of the soba, which was fine, since said cashew business was giving me many, many ideas about future cashew blender experiments. Also: daikon! We need to eat more daikon. Entrées: John got a hot spicy seitan concoction in a tortilla; I got one of the specials, polenta with quinoa baked in, with chili and lots of dark greens (mustard?). It was all pretty good. Chili with dark greens is clearly an excellent plan of which I had not thought before. There was also some broccoli, which was fine but didn't go with the business as well as the greens. I actually felt like it was there just to make the name of the entrée work ("Broccoliback Mountain"), which can't be a good idea. I feel like I would be more enthusiastic had I gotten a salad, or some of the pantry combinations: clearly, fresh and often raw vegetables are what they do best.

- Pizza 33: We had to have pizza after living in California, home of zero decent pizza at all. It's been torturous to live without it for three years. So we walked in at about 10:30, ordered a cheese pizza, waited ten minutes, and took it back to the hotel. Oh my gracious me. Real pizza. Ok, I grew up in Chicago, and as such have some serious ideas about pizza. New York pizza is not MY pizza, but it was still just about perfect in the hotel room at eleven at night.

Notice the hundreds of quality pictures I took! YES.

We did cook once! It was at Bethany and Danny's house. We had total day of all exercise (bikes in the morning; stair climbing; more bikes in the evening) and were all totally starving. So John and I took over the kitchen and made swift swift garlic broccoli rabé and pasta carbonara. These are both pretty standard.

Rabé: get some rabé or other dark greens that sound good. Wash them and cut them into appropriate pieces. I left them long and just trimmed the edges. Mince a couple cloves of garlic. Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan; add garlic and soften. Add your rabé, turning to get it coated with oil. Cook until soft enough to eat. I added some rice vinegar as well, but executed it poorly such that certain bits of rabé were soaked and bitter with it but others had none. We corrected it with a little soy while eating.

All of my pictures are horrendous, so I'm just going to roll with it:
Carbonara: I seem not to have written about this for at least a year, although it's extremely common while lazy at our house. First, mince up a bunch of garlic and take your eggs out of the refrigerator. Get some olive oil warmed up in a pan big enough to hold the amount of cooked pasta you want. Soften the garlic in it. Add any herbs you want, such as oregano, basil, parsley, etc. Fill a second pot with water and bring it to a boil; add pasta when appropriate. We had cappellini. When pasta is done, drain it and tip it into the garlic pan. Add a bunch of cracked black pepper and a couple pinches of salt, and take the pan off the heat. Now, moving quickly, crack and add a raw egg for each person eating. Stir immediately and thoroughly; the egg will cook into a sticky semi-sauce business and adhere to all the pasta.

If you want cheese, carbonara likes it; on the other hand, you're already eating a sauce made of egg, so you might not need any more richness. Fresh parsley is also a good idea.

Eat it all as hot as possible.

Last: Organic Nectars raw vegan gelato.

This was kind of an accident. Well. We clearly knew we were buying it; we just didn't realize it was vegan cashew cream.

So. This stuff is definitely expensive, even in half pint. I don't care, though, because it is also so good you cannot possibly believe it. We had it with the pizza on our last night in NYC, watching who knows what on TV and generally lazing about nicely. SO GOOD. Holy everything. We had chocolate hazelnut; the other flavors were exotic combinations like ginger/green tea. It totally wants you to eat it right now.

In conclusion, I believe I am ok with the food in New York. Love, Eileen.

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