Friday, May 11, 2012

NYC Food Roundup, Part II

First, another housekeeping note. Blogger's new format is driving me completely nuts. Thanks, Google, for being evil and all. Every time I try to write a post, I descend into a fog of epithets and grumbling and, occasionally, fist-shaking. I actually had to insert html code throughout this post so there would be distinct paragraphs. WTF, Google? So, someday soon, if I am not feeling lazy, I will move this blog to Wordpress. Just a heads up. (If you're listening, Google, consider this a threat.)

On to New York.

After our delicious little bread basket adventure...

We hit an old-school Tiki bar. It seems like one of those places that's been in the same location for decades, doesn't really change, and if it has a name, you don't know what it is. It probably doesn't have a website. It's just there, in a weird little big city time warp.

Unfortunately for my sense of romanticism, it does have a website, and it's only ten years old. But we're going to pretend it isn't.

My drink came with a monkey! I was very excited about this, and also the spangly straw. Alas, the pours were extremely generous, and we came to it both too early and too late in the evening to really appreciate massively alcoholic cocktails. Next time.

Then we got pizza.

Nice lamp. But the pizza frankly sucked.

Artichoke is generally well-regarded, and our friend loves it. I don't know what happened. It's only once or twice a year that I order something so awful I think about not finishing it, and this was one of those times. I did choke it down, but only because I was starving. Imagine thinned spinach-artichoke dip from someplace like T.G.I.Friday's (too salty, too mayonnaise-creamy), spread on strange bread. The crust didn't bother me, actually- the top two-thirds was spongy, and the bottom was crisp and a little charred. Weirdly thick for pizza, but not bad by itself. It was the dip that almost made me nauseous.

The next morning, we kicked off Part I of our Lower East Side round-carby-things crawl with a visit to Russ & Daughters. I don't even know what to say. There's a ton of great food in New York, but I could probably wake up every day and eat here. The options are boggling: different kinds of lox! smoked fish! cream cheese options! I very nearly got my lox bagel topped with salmon roe, but resisted the temptation. That this is a suggested option meant I was in the right place for decadent salmon lunacy. I ended up with an onion bagel, belly lox, scallion cream cheese, and more onion on top. A tomato would've been advisable, but I always forget how good tomatoes are with lox.

Then there were soup dumplings in Chinatown. SOUP DUMPLINGS!!! I will talk about those in Part III, but in the meantime, if you see them somewhere, just think SOUP DUMPLINGS!!! and grab some. And bring me some, too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

NYC Food Roundup, Part I

Ok, so the title is a bit misleading, because I'm only going to talk about one restaurant in this post. Also because longtime readers know that when I declare something "Part I", Part II either never comes, or randomly pops up six months later to much confusion.

In any case, we spent last weekend in New York. One of the first places we went was Vandaag, in the East Village. Jon had actually heard of it and wondered about genever. Hence, a field trip to check it out. Vandaag is mainly a genever bar, though also a restaurant.

Isn't this gorgeous? This is the Vandaag Gin Cocktail. I think the most interesting component is a "golden ale reduction", which is just what it sounds like. It also contained genever, bitters, and a tiny bit of kirschwasser and absinthe. The grapefruit peel garnish nicely integrated everything. The bartender noted that the drink changes completely based on which variety of fruit peel it's garnished with, which is fascinating. I wouldn't have been able to distinguish its components without referencing the menu, but the drink was perfect, and a great recommendation from the bartender based on my "not sweet!" request.

Jon opted for a beer and a shot of genever, so he could sip and analyze the flavors. Straight genever was really interesting- very delicate and crisp, but not overly floral the way most ordinary gins are. It was like drinking the essence of rain, which sounds ridiculous but describes the experience perfectly.

We were on a bit of a food crawl (wait til you hear about our Jewish-breakfast-food crawl of the Lower East Side, next time), so we just ordered a bread basket before continuing. It seemed a bit pricey, and we weren't expecting much. But then this came:

This is quite possibly the best $6 bread basket in the world. There were wafer-thin pumpernickel crisps, hay-smoked white, red ale, cranberry-walnut, and seaweed foccacia. Pretty sure it's all homemade. Oh, and it came with gin butter and a onion-bacon jam. I'm going to attempt some gin butter someday soon, because it was amazing.

I just wish we could've stayed longer, but we had a whole city to explore. We'll definitely be back- maybe for their Sunday or Monday specials.