What A Girl Is Really Thinking When It Comes To Food

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Anguilla

I have just returned from a family vacation to Anguilla, and if you think I eat a lot normally, then you do not want to see me on vacation. Despite the fact that I sit on a beach all day, with no movement with exception to me getting up to dip my feet in the ocean or to turn over to get my back tan, I still think it’s completely acceptable to gorge myself to the point of no return, to then return to my lounge chair, possibly more bloated, but definitely more tan.

Just to give myself a little credit here, for no one else’s benefit but my own, I did work out every single day on this trip, which included tennis lessons  (in which my mom continued to say “you really did love tennis. You should take lessons at home”) and pilates classes, and yes sometimes both in one day, but they probably did nothing for the 3+ meal a day marathon I was running on this trip.

To give you some background on Anguilla, there are a million trillion restaurants on this small island, and almost all are on the beach, so not only did we go out every single night for a 3 course meal for dinner, but we also left our hotel every single day to go out for lunch to sit at a different beach, and shovel in some food.

“Off we go to another meal!”

“It’s like as soon as we finish lunch, we wonder where we’re going to dinner.”

“Where are you guys going to dinner tonight?”

“Can you believe it? It’s time for another meal.”

These are some of the fabulous quotes my mom continued to say over, and over, and over, AND over again to anyone that would listen to her: our driver Russell, my sister’s campfriend and his family, our new vacation friends from Long Island, our other new vacation friends from Queens, people in our Pilates class, and yes even our waiters at the restaurants (the island is small, so people generally have more than one job, so they would literally watch us stuff ourselves at breakfast in our cover-ups at our hotel, and they would see us dressed up stuffing ourselves again for dinner at a restaurant).

It was like my mom felt the need to defend our actions to everyone in sight.

I personally thought we should just try and not make it so obvious, and just accept that everyone else was doing the same thing. What else was I going to do? Run on the beach? I started to laugh as soon as I typed that.

So, was the food worth it? Hell yeah it was worth it. Anguilla has some of the best restaurants in town, and for your benefit, I am going to give you the rundown on some of the favorite spots in case any of you do decide to make a trip there.

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The entire list includes recommendations, but one place pissed me off so badly that I need to begin with a review of the worst restaurant on the island of Anguilla: Jacala.

Jacala is owned by a French man named Jac, and if the name of the restaurant doesn’t give you a hint, he was maybe one of the most pompous narcissistic horrid restaurant owners I have ever encountered.

worst email ever

First off: he takes everyone’s orders for the entire restaurant, so you need to wait for at least 15 minutes just to order drinks, let alone dinner. Can you say control freak?

I watched as his 3 waitresses walked around scared to make the wrong move, or step out of place.

He completely ignored my family, maybe because we were all women, maybe because he could, but he came over to take our order with a smirk on his face knowing he made us wait.

And the food??? He started off by serving us a cold asparagus soup with a soggy tortilla, which tasted exactly like the soggy noodles Chinese restaurants serve you at the beginning of a meal.

chilled asparagus soup with a tortil

And the rest? Stuffy French food with a ton of sauce. The menu is described as “intuitive” cuisine. WTF is intuitive cuisine?

It was the ONLY restaurant that we did not order dessert, and the poor waitress that came over to tell us the specials brought over a huge board with 8 different desserts listed on the chalkboard. She would say one, and then nervously stare at Jac, and then say the next, each time watching the owner move from the bar to the main room. She looked frozen in fear of saying something incorrectly.

The restaurant has a posh reputation, but every single patron besides my family was over the age of 65. Skip this place, and go for a good meal.

tuna tar tar

Tuna Tartare

This was the least innovative dish, and tasted like something I could get at any run of the mill sushi spot.

chicken

Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce with a side of asparagus and yams.

Chicken stuffed with lobster in a lobster sauce? Sounds delicious right? UH NO. It wasn’t even warm when they served it, and it was whatever.

saucy pork

Porkchop in an apricot sauce.

Porkchop with sauce, sauce, sauce sauce, and a rice that tasted like potpourri.

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Now on to the good stuff:

Straw Hat

[Click the photo above to go to Straw Hat’s website]

Straw Hat (lunch or dinner): Love itttt. We went with another family for dinner, who has a love for food like us, so it was very exciting to have some rum punch and eat with a group.

Order: the tuna flat bread, which comes with truffle aioli. I ordered it twice, once for lunch and once for dinner (as an appetizer relax, like I’d only order that).

Lobster Cake

Crabcake minus the crab, and plus the lobster. Pretty, pretty good.

tuna flatbread

Say hello to the tuna flat bread. I love it. I love it. Did I mention I love it?

spring roll

Spring rolls stuffed with fresh fish. Yep, it wasn’t bad.

The appetizers were definitely the highlight of the meal, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with. Lunch is standard fare, and difficult to complain about.

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E's Oven

[Click the photo above to go to E’s Oven’s website]

E’s Oven: This is a local spot, and hands down one of my favorite places we ate for lunch. I ordered the filet of red snapper with a side of vegetables, and so did my mom. My sister ordered the lobster club Panini with a side of fries.

“You can have fries or sal-“

“Fries.”

The waitress was super sweet and accomidating, especially when concerning my mom’s tomato allergy.

This restaurant is not on the beach, but it was near our hotel, so we were back on the beach rather quickly.

bread

For the record all the bread on the island was absolutely amazing. Every loaf was served fresh and warm, and this was no exception.

turkey

They surprised us with a small bite of ground turkey with carrots in a light sauce. Seriously unreal. It is the only time I ate turkey in Anguilla.

filet of snapper in a light cream sauce

Such a great dish! It seemed so classy for a tiny little restaurant.rice with veggies

The best carrots I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why. Plantains are also on that plate. My mom and sister HATE bananas, and even they liked them!

lobster panini

This to me is America meets the Islands: aka lobster plus club sandwich. This is a lobster club panini.

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Smokey's Exterior

[Click the photo above to go to Smokey’s website]

Smokey’s (lunch): jerk chicken, ribs, rum, beer, all while you’re sitting on the beach. We went last year and this year, so recommendations vary. Jerk chicken wrap, the lobster roll, fish sandwich, or the ribs are all good choices. Oh, and they also offer a 50/50 plate of onion rings and fries…won’t kill you to try them.

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picante[Click the photo above to go to Picante’s website]

Picante (dinner): LEGIT Mexican food. Tuna tacos, fish tacos, guacamole, even the artichoke dip is to die for. Island food is delicious, but by the end it’s like “if you hand me another piece of snapper or grouper I’m going to smack you with it.” Picante is the perfect change of pace. It’s laid back, always crowded, and they make some strong ass drinks.

And we saw Kelly Osbourne there, so there’s that.

My sister: that girl looks like Kelly Osbourne.

Me: Monica, that is Kelly Osbourne.

My sister: O heehee

tuna tacos

My jam: the tuna tacos.

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Barrel Stay

[Click the photo above to go to Barrel Stay’s website]

Barrel Stay (dinner): French with Asian influence. I loved it. Order a salad, fish with Asian noodles, crayfish, or escargot, and you won’t be disappointed. I ordered a sea food soup, which tasted like a deconstructed French onion soup with spicy seafood.

The restaurant is also on the water, and I loveddddd the chef. He came out to tell us the specials, and crouched down so we were all eye level. He was very engaging, and patient with any questions we had. He even helped me find the bathroom. He was a fabulous ying to Jacala’s putrid yang.

Fresh Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad

Here’s a little sample of what we ate: the goat cheese and asparagus salad

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Veya Interior

[Click the photo above to go to Veya’s website]

Veya (dinner): “It looks like a tree house!” my mom exclaimed multiple times. There is a live band that plays in the background, and excellent wait staff. To start get the conch fritters to or the layered salad. And for your main? Crayfish. duhhh.

Scilly Cay

[Click the photo above to go to Scilly Cay’s website]

Scilly Cay Island: The best day we had! You take a 10 minute boat ride to a small island called Scilly Cay, you lay on the beach, have the yummiest and strongest rum punch, and the food! I ordered a combo platter of lobster and crayfish, which comes in a light curry sauce, with a pasta salad and fruit. And the restaurant owner, a character!

Cray Fish/Lobster combo

Say hello to my little friend: lobster and crayfish combo.

the view

And here’s the view!

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Blanchards

[Click the photo above to go to Blanchard’s website]

Blanchards: American owners from Westchester, my people. The corn chowder is made with no cream and filled with flavor. The key lime pie is a great way to end your meal.

And they have a more casual spot next door for lunch. For $3 you can get a lounge chair for the day (can you tell it’s owned by New Yorkers?), it’s the only place on the island that charges for chairs, but it’s also the only place where you can find frozen yogurt, milkshakes along with sandwiches, salads, and burgers.

You can just tell they had Americans in mind when this restaurant was created, but still has the authentic vibe of the island with bright green and blue chairs and tables.

shack
Here is the lunch spot, the shack. Take me backkkkkk!
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Novita [Click the photo above to go to Novita’s website]

102 East 22nd Street New York, NY 10010

After an incredibly rough weekend of celebrating my 22 year old sister’s birthday, it was time for me to continue celebrating with a big ass birthday dinner at Novita. I had already tried to keep up with her drinking, and now I had to try and keep up with her eating. Being a big sister is hard!

My mom originally told me that she didn’t care what time dinner was, because neither her or my sister had work the next day (my dad really doesn’t get a say either way), so I made the reservation for 7, figuring that was a normal time to eat dinner. Despite my mother claiming it was “up to me” she still called three times on Sunday to tell me she wanted to go to dinner earlier than originally planned.  6:30 it is (totally up to me).

I ask to get picked up due to the rain, and I wanted a free ride anyway, so they obliged.

“We’ll be there in 5 minutes.”

“K”

3 minutes later…

“We’re here.”

“K”

Just as I’m putting on my leather jacket, my phone starts ringing, it’s my sister.

“We’re here.”

“I KNOW! I GOT THE TEXT!”

I hop in the car to see three other people in leather jackets.

We get to the restaurant, I give them my name, and the host clicks my name on the computer monitor, and begins to scope out a table. Maybe two minutes have gone by…

“What’s the problem?” my mom asks.

He seats us at a table in the middle of the dining area. I have yet to sit at a table a host seats us at with my mother. We always move at least once.

She makes a face, and I know this isn’t working. He offers us another table, but I see that it’s in the corner by the servers, so we’re going to get a permanent breeze by the wait staff swooshing by.

“No, I don’t like that table,” I say (it’s my turn!)

“She doesn’t like this table!” My mom says, as if she did not disapprove of the first option. I’m the difficult one.

The host sees what’s happening here, and offers us a table for 4 against the wall, but not in the corner. Well played.

We sit down, and I immediately smell truffle oil.

“I smell truffle.”

“Yes,” the waitress says, “it’s our pasta special.”

Why did my sister even look at the menu? That was a done deal. My dad offers to get that pasta as an appetizer so we can all share. He then proceeds to cough up a lung. He has a cold. No thanks.

My sister is sitting next to him, gives me a weird look and goes, “but I want it as my main.”

I think I’ll be getting pasta as well, and say that I want the pesto.

“Those are the two best pastas on the menu,” my dad announces. What shall he do?

“Well, you can’t get them, because we are. Get something else.” It hubris in our family to get duplicate orders: how will we get a taste of everyone’s dishes if we all get the same thing???

As my dad contemplates pastas, my mom says she wants salmon, but the pesto I want looks good a well.

“I’ll split the pesto with you if you get a different fish.”

“Which one?”

“The sea bass.”

“Ok.”

SUCCESS.

We haven’t really decided on appetizers with exception to my mom who is getting grilled calamari stuffed with shrimp, and sliced like medallions. We listen to the specials, and I hear the word zucchini flowers, which I remember reading as a recommended dish. We order one round for the table, and the waitress asks if we’re ready to order everything.

My sister out of nowhere screams, “I’m not ready! I feel pressure! Stop rushing me!”

Need I remind you that she is already getting spaghetti with truffle (sauce? Truffles? I don’t know the correct way of phrasing it), so she could just order a simple appetizer, but apparently I’m an ass hole and rude for rushing the birthday girl, so the waitress leaves us, so we can all concentrate on the momentous decision ahead of us.

The waitress comes back. I have decided on the funghi misti salad (salad with mushrooms), my dad gets a salad with artichokes and decides on a spinach fettucini with Bolognese, and my sister still hasn’t decided, and asks the waitress to repeat the specials again.

“Blah blah blah blah, and a burrata cheese.” This is how I can assume my sister heard the waitress.

“I’ll get the burrata cheese.”

After ordering burrata cheese and spaghetti, my sister goes on to tell the rest of us that she’s lost weight, and her pants are big on her. I meanwhile already feel guilty for the pesto sauce that I haven’t eaten yet, while my sister’s face is pure joy. Not an ounce of guilt for the carbtastic dairy induced coma she’ll be in later.

The appetizers arrive, and they’re large portions for appetizers. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that the mushrooms are warm on the bed of lettuce.

My sister goes to town on the burrata; my mom scoops up the medallions, and my dad is upset with his “large” salad, and offers me a mushroom off his plate (you do know I ordered a salad with the word funghi in the name right?).

Mains arrive, and my phone freezes causing sheer panic in my heart. My family will never wait for me to take a picture of their food with this delay. In my haste I forgot to take a picture of pasta with pesto, and it still brings a tear to my eye.

Everyone starts scooping portions off their plates, and putting on each other’s bread plate or in sections on their entrée dish. I barely touch the sea bass, and nosh on a cooked artichoke my mom tossed on my plate, but I got to keep the pesto plate so my plate is extra saucy from my mom removing her portion of the pasta, I dig right in.

Ugh, I’m full, so let’s get dessert. What shall we get?

Not one of us like the same type of dessert, but we can all agree on tiramisu.

“It’s going to have a lot of liquor in it. That’s how it is at Italian restaurants,” my mom says (that is incorrect).

I see a crepe cake on the menu, and my mom and I decide that two desserts are ok.

“I don’t want that,” my dad says, but he has his tiramisu so he can pipe down.

“Guys don’t like crepes. All girls like crepes,” I say.

“That’s true. Guys don’t eat crepes or quiches,” my dad says.

“Why not quiches?”

“It’s for chicks.” K.

Both desserts arrive, and of course the tiramisu comes with a candle, and we awkwardly sing “happy birthday” to my sister.

The crepe cake was delicious, and I wish I could keep a bite of it always in my back pocket. I really do love crepes. The tiramisu was yummy as well, but it was not spectacular.

I get my ride home, we take a family picture in our matching jackets, and off I go to watch Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion.

“I wonder what she’ll write about,” I hear my mom say.

Novita (zucchini flower: stuffed with goat cheese and prosciutto)

SO SO SO SO good! It’s deep fried, but somehow you manage to convince yourself it’s not so bad for you, because it doesn’t taste heavy at all even with cheese melted inside!

My dad originally wanted “a bite” but didn’t get a bite with cheese, so he ended up a taking a whole flower.

Novita (burrata cheese)

My sister’s favorite. She gave me a few bites of it. they serve you balsamic vinegar on the side, and my sister was so excited to eat it, she forgot to put the dressing on!

Also, please note the text message I received after dinner in reference to her meal.

Novita (grilled calamari stuffed with shrimp medallions)

This was a specialty appetizer. It looks so elegant. My mom was in love with this, and was so thrilled with her choice. I split a medallion with my sister. the squid was a bit chewy, but it wasn’t greasy, and a light option.

Novita (insalata di carciofini: baby artichoke with mushrooms and parmigiano shavings)

Large portion of salad. I did not try it, but it seems pretty legit. Sorry that’s all the info I have on it.

Novita (funghi misti: grilled portobello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms with parmigiano shavings)

Pretty large salad for an appetizer! If you want to eat a light dinner, you could get this without the cheese, and I think you’d be pretty satisfied, but when is salad ever as good as spaghetti?

Novita (branzino con carciofi: pan-roasted sea bass with artichokes)

Cooked perfectly from the few bites I had since I was too busy scarfing down pasta!

Novita (pasta with truffles)

This was a special so I am unable to give you a detailed description of the pasta, but it was unreal. Some people are “over” the truffle craze, but they’re idiots. This had just the right amount where it was not overpowering. My sister did not leave one noodle!

Novita (spinach fettuccine with kobe beef bolognese)

A little before and after action on this one. This was really great! I despise when pasta is overcooked, and this was not: it was cooked perfectly!

Novita (mille foglie: 20 crepes layered with a light creamy custard)

A-mah-zing! What’s better than 1 crepe? 20 crepes.

Novita: tiramisu, sister

Here is the tiramisu, and the birthday girl! Delicious! And not too much liquor in it…at all!

Here we are in our matching leather jackets! Took the doorman 20 minutes to figure out how to work my sister’s camera…was it worth the wait? I think maybe.


Park Avenue Autumn [Click the photo above to go to Park Avenue Autumn’s website]

100 East 63rd Street New York, NY 10065

It’s Wine Week! Hooray to being in an office filled with drunk people, and hooray for me going to one! As I feel like work write-ups are awkward and weird and strange and what not…I’m going to do my best to write up an honest account of what occurred without potential termination, office gossip, or anything else that might happen from me writing this. With that being said, let’s get started:

Reservations were made at Park Avenue Autumn for two female coworkers and myself, and I obviously forgot what day we were going so I showed up to work in a black pant/leggings, combat boots, wavy hair (at least I sprung for the mascara) ensemble. In my defense it was raining out, but my attire was not really meeting the Park Avenue standard of classic business attire: button downs, pencil skirts, “smart” heels (maybe you don’t know this, but combat boots don’t qualify).

I tried to spruce myself up in the bathroom, but only found a hot pink Nars lipgloss in my oversize bag, and had no choice but to go with that. I flipped my hair 5 times, and I don’t know if it did anything but make me dizzy.

Once I’m seated I have to go through the whole process of telling the waitress I’m allergic to white wine, so the servers know to skip me on that go around and upgrade me immediately to red. The woman nods and then pours white wine in my glass.

“I said I was allergic.”

“Oh, I thought you were kidding.”

If that was a joke, that’s the worst joke I have ever made. Lady, you’re weird.

I peruse the menu. I think that maybe I’ll just get a salad in order to maintain some sort of dietary dignity for lunch. What I did not know about wine week is that they actually continue to serve you samples of wine throughout the entire meal (which obviously makes sense, but I don’t know that’s not where my head was at. I just imagined people ordering a lot of wine), so although I ordered a salad as my main, we still ordered two appetizers (tuna dish and fig and goat cheese salad), and two sides (roasted cauliflower and gnocchi) to share between three of us.

Oh work talk, work talk…

“When are you going to have a baby?”

“Where are you going to move to the suburbs?”

These questions were clearly not directed towards me.

Appetizers arrive. I’m already buzzed, but I see my salad being placed at our table with the appetizer.

“I ordered that as my main course.”

The waitress goes on to argue with me to say that I ordered a garden salad, which is an appetizer, but I ordered the salad under the entrée section labeled “garden salad with grilled chicken.”

“You said garden salad.”

“I said garden salad with grilled chicken”

“Oh, you meant the grilled chicken garden salad.”

Are you kidding me? I’m pretty sure this is improper etiquette for a waitress to mess up, and then argue with the customer about it. I hated her, and her curly hair (was it curly? My memory is failing), and her condescending smile. We’re on Park Avenue, but that’s not really carte blanche to be an ass hole (yes I wrote ass hole!).

The waitress went on to confirm the main dishes for the other two saying, “you got the fish, and you go the chicken right?”

“No, two fish.”

“Right!”

The appetizers were really yummy. It was advertised as tuna and avocado, but the avocado tasted more like straight up guacamole in texture and flavor, and the fig and goat cheese salad was delicious, a solid combination, and I did my best to focus on the tuna and avoid the cheese.

More wine is poured, and I don’t know much, but I found one I liked.

We are then served our main courses: one fish, one chicken, and a salad that was sitting under the heat lamp for the past 20 minutes (I’m drunk I’m not stupid).

We then have to tell the waitress that she messed up the mains, and that my chicken is cold, and I can see the salad on the edges are curled and soggy.

“You know the whole salad thing messed me up.”

“Oh, so it’s my fault?”

Yes, I said that. This woman was really pissing me off. We then get extra chicken, which I got to go and for free (for the price of on the house), a complimentary dessert, and something else I can’t remember.

So to celebrate we ordered 3 desserts and more wine. We went with a sorbet, the chocolate cube cake (which is what they are known for), and a carrot cake. I was doubtful about the carrot number, but it ended up being my favorite dessert. I had the best time knocking down the cube in my drunken stupor.

I suddenly realize I have to go back to work, and attempt to sober up in the bathroom. Instead I become best friends with some elderly lady, while I’m washing my hands, and we bond about the dim lighting and what we’re eating for dessert. I end up walking back to my table no less drunk but with more hot pink lip gloss on.

Oh, wine week!

My favorite wine was the Joel Gott, 2009, Relative Red Blend. I’m getting it again, it’s happening, don’t try and stop me.

The bread was pretty solid. The bread sticks were the most, then the onion bread, and then last the pumpkin loaf (it lacked flavor, maybe salt or sugar, maybe both)

Also PLEASE note the hot pink lipgloss on the wine glass.

Park Avenue Autumn (fig carpaccio: Hoja Santa goat cheese and yellowfin tuna with avocado: soy kalamansi vinaigrette)

Fig Carpaccio: I think this was my favorite thing we ordered! I love figs and goat cheese, and there were some almonds…delicious!

Yellowfin Tuna and Avocado: solid tuna dish. Not the most inventive, but not every dish has to be groundbreaking.

Park Avenue Autumn (roasted tri color cauliflower and potato gnocchi with sweet corn & truffles)

The gnocchi is offered as an appetizer, but we figured it would be nice to serve with the main courses, so we did! It was a tad bit too sweet to be honest, and didn’t live up to his nice description.

Tri color cauliflower: I’m always down for roasted vegetables, and I found it to be a nice seasonal dish with good crunch.

Park Avenue Autumn (Garden salad & grilled chicken)

Here is my sog-tastic salad. It was blahhhhh for all the fuss over it. Also the menu says garden salad & grilled chicken NOT grilled chicken garden salad.

Park Avenue Autumn (black sea bass: sweet potato, crispy kale, maitake)

Standard fish dish. I was pretty surprised by how much kale they used to top the sea bass. I feel like it’s usually served as a bed for the fish, and just less, but I’m not complaining, I just thought it was unusual.

Park Avenue Autumn (free range roast chicken, pumpkin pie)

Oh, the dish we never ordered. It was crispy chicken which I always like and had fall flavors, but I think it’s a little heavy for lunch.

Also Pumpkin pie? I don’t really see it.

Park Avenue Autumn (sorbet: pear, fig, chocolate)

Solid sorbet. I was actually impressed with the combination, but it’s wine week, I probably would have been impressed with Haagen Dazs.

Park Avenue Autumn (carrot cake and brie fritter, chai tea ice cream)

I didn’t taste brie, and I didn’t taste chai tea, but it tasted good. I don’t know what that gel thing is either, but as someone who isn’t a jelly person I really liked it, but couldn’t put my finger on the flavor.

Park Avenue Autumn (the chocolate cube)

Here’s the cube! It looks like a skyscraper. It was pretty good once you got into it. I want to say it had some sort of hazlenut taste, but maybe it wasn’t. This is a very true and accurate food blog as you can tell.


City Grit  [Click the photo above to go to City Grit’s website]

 38 Prince Street (between Mott and Mulberry) New York, NY 10012

 After hearing about the wonderful concept of New York culinary salon, City Grit, I decided I just HAD to try this out!! I don’t want to butcher the explanation of what City Grit is so I would just click on the link if I were you, but I will try anyway. Pretty much, this little lady named Sarah Simmons hosts different food events in a space in Soho. They host about 15 events per month, and each one is a multi-course meal with a theme. Each dinner is completely different from the one before. Sometimes they have guest chefs, but mostly Sarah runs the show.

 Anywho, back to me! After e-mailing my fake boyfriend aka gay best friend about this, he wrote me an e-mail saying he wanted to go to an event called “Best of the Best” for a mutual friend’s birthday, and asked if I wanted to go (it was my idea, don’t even think about claiming it). I bought my ticket (it was $60 for a 5 course meal, alcohol not included), and decided to be shmoozy and e-mail the host, Sarah Simmons, for a sneak peak of the menu. She obliged, and swore me to secrecy. I was thrilled to know more than my friends so I didn’t tell them anything.

 As the day approached, I wanted a plan for the night. Did I need to print a ticket out for this? (You don’t.) Where was I meeting them? (It was my gay bff, the birthday girl and her boyfriend.)  My best friend may be gay, but he’s a dude, which means his planning skills are minimal at best (he didn’t make reservations for his boyfriend’s birthday until the day of his birthday… SUCH A BOY).

 I gchat the birthday girl asking what the deal is (she usually knows what’s up, and I felt like I could trust her game plan). Turns out, it was a surprise…woops. You would THINK that my friend would include that in the e-mail, but no, he did not. Like I said HORRIBLE PLANNER.

 The birthday girl and I conspired to not tell him the surprise was ruined (so if you are reading this, you already know, the house has been boarded up and we are staying at the Holiday Inn). P.S. it’s your own fault.

 I meet them outside their apt (they all live together. Three’s Company, hit it!), and as soon as I arrive I announce, “Let’s go I’m starving!”

 Mr. Horrible Planner gives me a crazy look and goes, “It’s a surprise!”

 “It’s a surprise we’re eating? It’s almost 7:30. This is a surprise to no one.” (Isn’t he so annoying?)

 So, we arrive, and if the birthday girl really didn’t know where we were going, she actually WOULD be surprised, because the outside of the building says, “Furniture Shop.” They are so tricky (think speakeasy sorta), and a sign was written on the door that said, “we will be right back.” Ok….

 “Are you going to tell her yet?”

“Badaya.” (that is a made up word that he kept saying over and over again on the way to dinner)

“Ok, well we’re here, so maybe it’s time.”  (Am I a crazy actress? I might be).

 We only waited a few minutes until they opened the doors for us. You walk in, give your name, and then they seat you in assigned seating, (it’s assigned by group, so my friend called ahead of time to say that I was with them, because we didn’t sign up together so keep that in mind if you go!).

 The space is kitschy. It is an old Catholic School turned into I guess a culinary salon, so do what you want with that knowledge, but the bathrooms are far away with low toilets (it was an elementary school). Also, they made it unisex. It wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t the highlight of the event. I digress…Guests sit in two rooms with long tables scattered throughout, dim lighting, dark wood, and “Western” accents. It’s definitely not a sexy vibe, but it’s fun!!

 “Are all events held in this space?”

“Yes, I think so,” I reply.

“No, they change it,” responds Mr. Horrible Planner.

 Disagreement. I looked up other events, and I know they are all held on Prince Street.

 “No, they’re all here.”

“I think they change it.”

“I think you’re wrong.”

 The menu is posted on a blackboard, but I had it in my hands on my IPhone (I win).

 “Does anyone want to read the menu?” I point to my phone.

“I’ll take a look at it,” says birthday girl.

“It’s on the blackboard,” responds Mr. Horrible Planner. (Ok, squint at the blackboard butthead…someone doesn’t want to give me any credit)

 I glare at my best friend turned arched nemesis and am about to make a scene at our table, when our waiter comes over to save the day. He introduces himself as Dan Brown (he did not write the DaVinci Code, and it took a lot for me to NOT make that horrible joke at the table), and lets us know our wine options. I am allergic to white wine (if I’m ok with this you can be too) so we decid to share a bottle of red between the four of us, it eventually turned into 3 bottles…woopsies!

 First, we are served with an amuse bouche of a fried oyster wonton with spicy mayo (are you salivating?). I know an amuse is just supposed to be one bite, but I was starving! KEEP IT COMING!!

 I was really feeling the wine by the first course (shocker), which was a seared scallop, another baby plate. I get it. I get it. It’s a progression, but my stomach really didn’t give a flying…

 As the first course was being distributed to the last few people, Sarah and her business partner spoke, giving some background on City Grit (p.s. her partner said all events are held in the same space, booyah!), and then a description of our meal. Sarah said the meal were the top dishes of their past events, so rock on! She was just so cute. She’s from the south, and while I usually despise anyone using the word ya’ll she made it sound so endearing! Let’s be friends Sarah!

 However, that doesn’t mean I withheld all judgment (puh-lease)! When describing the third course, a fried chicken biscuit with deviled egg, she said…

 “A friend once told me, a dinner with deviled eggs, is better than a dinner without deviled eggs,” laughter ensues, and then she goes, “And I couldn’t agree with him.” Period.

 Couldn’t agree with him more Sarah. You forgot the word more. You just changed the meaning of that sentence.

 “I said more in my head.”

“Me too!”

“That’s like when people say, “I could care less.” It’s “I couldn’t care less.”

“I don’t know which one I say…”

 I hope the people next to us were not listening to our conversation.

 The 2nd course was gumbo, a bigger portion score! Then came the chicken course, which tasted just like a gourmet McDonalds chicken filet, but with a twist. I tried to eat it slowly, because I wanted my last bite to include the biscuit, but it was just so hard!

 Since the space is two rooms it takes some time for the servers to distribute all the plates to each table, so there is quite a bit of time between each course. We were over two hours in with two more courses to go!

“You had a weird friend at your birthday party.”

“What did he do?”

“We were in the elevator and he said everyone in the elevator had matching jackets on.”

“Did you?”

“Nope, they were all different colors! And when we pointed it out he said, “That’s such a Samantha thing to say.”

“I think he was in a weird mood that night…”

 Fourth course! Boneless short ribs with paramesan cream grits and braised collareds. It was our biggest portion yet. Suddenly I was full, and I couldn’t finish the plate. I became a new woman.

 “I get the progression now. Makes total sense.”

“Yeah, it’s perfect.”

 Amazing how easily one’s mind changes when they’re full.

 My friend was scraping the parmesan up with his utensils, and I started to gag watching him use his fork and knife so intently just for a tiny puddle of cheese. I was definitely satiated.

 I tried to not look at him, “I got a gel manicure for the holidays!” as I wiggle my fingers jazz hands style.

 “Why?”

“So it stays!”

“Do I look like Barbie?” My nails are currently bright pink. The lady applying my gels asked if I was going away, they are just THAT tropical looking…

 Dessert!! Banana pudding with salted Caramel. I am not the biggest of banana cream pie, and that’s pretty much what it was, but in a jar. However our awesome waiter, Dan Brown, brought out one with a candle.

 Happy birthday to you.

Happy birthday to you.

Hap-py birth-day dear ___ (silence in the Catholic schoolhouse as the patrons wait to hear her name, and then when we say it, everyone laughs like they knew the whole time)

Happy birthday to you!

 Big tip for Dan Brown.

 As we were leaving…

 “Hey what was that word I kept saying on the way here?”

“Badaya.”

“Oh, yeah”

“Ba-dayeinu”

 Happy Passover/Easter everyone!

 

City Grit (menu, Best of the Best)

Here is the menu of the 5 course delight!

City Grit (fried oyster wonton with spicy mayo, kimchi, ginger scallion sauce)

This was described as Asian food with southern ingredients. I would have eaten 10 more fried oysters. Great way to start off the meal!

City Grit (seared scallop with harissa carrot puree, bacon marmalade)

Smiley Face!! Bacon marmalade, need I say more?? This was my probably my favorite, and it was just so teeny tiny. I wanted more!

City Grit (Gumbo Z Herbes: green gumbo with white rice grits, pickled ramps)

I know this looks gross, but it was not! It was very hearty!

Sarah also told a great story about how this specific gumbo recipe is one of the oldest gumbo recipes and was almost extinct, but was revived after Hurricane Katrina, when people would make large pots of this dish to survivors of Katrina’s aftermath)

City Grit (Chicken & Egg: fried chicken biscuit with deviled eggs, shaved celery salad)

I loved this! Classy fried food is where it is at.

City Grit (boneless short ribs with parmesan cream grits, braised collards)

This was definitely the biggest portion we received all night. It was a little chewy at first, but once you dug into the middle it melted in your mouth!

City Grit (banana pudding with salted caramel)

Not my favorite part of the meal, but if you like banana flavored dessert then you’re in the clear! Please not the Christmas themed birthday candle!


Kanoyama: 175 2nd Avenue  New York, NY 10003

Momofuku Milk Bar: 251 E 13th St # A New York, NY 10003

 After a celebratory St Patty’s Day I was really looking forward to a relaxing Sunday. I went to the gym to burn off yesterday’s alcohol and pizza, but I don’t know how productive it was since I spent the majority of the expedition texting (what? I was on the bike!), and then I showered and settled in to start Book #2 of the Hunger Games. I scheduled dinner with 2 friends for later so I wouldn’t get antsy in my apartment.

 After reading only G-d knows (I know too) how many pages I realize I have to get up to go the lady’s room, because I haven’t moved in quite a long time. I decide to take a brief reprieve and check my phone, and see that my dinner plans friend has called.  Slight panic creeps inside me: She’s cxling! She’s changed the place to something really unhealthy! No, I didn’t answer in time and she went for linner. Plans foiled!

 Nope, she’s gone for a walk with our other friend and wants to know if I want to join them.

 “No, but if you sit outside somewhere I’ll meet you.” (I didn’t want to give up on Hunger Games quite yet).

“I think we might sit at BBar.”

“K, let me know!”

 Legitimatley 2 minutes later I receive a text, “we’re outside BBar.”

 I realize I’ve been sitting inside like a cavewoman and need to get myself together.

 “Are you guys wearing leggings, because I am?”…a minute later “Nevermind, I’m not changing.”

 I throw on lipgloss and sunglasses, debate about wearing a scarf (veto it), and head out.

 As soon as I get there…

 “I love your lipgloss!”

“Thanks!”

 I see they’re wearing spring attire on their feet, while I’m sporting my new sneakers (girlyfoodie + Justin Bieber = same closet). Win some you lose some.

 “You have to go inside to get a drink.”

 …decisions, decisions. Get the drink before I get settled, or hear stories and then get a drink? I don’t know! I don’t know!

 “You do not want to know what we’ve eaten already today…”

 I guess I’ll wait to get the drink.

 “I’ve had the worst day!”

“She’s had the worst day!”

 (sometimes they mimic each other)

 They went to support their friend who ran the half marathon, and on the train ride home a runner puked on my friend.

 “She puked on me”

“She got puked on!”

“The lady said it was spit up, but I got thrown up on.”

“She had the worst day!”

 Drink time.

 Bartender lady was sort of a biotch. She was wearing a beanie, and I immediately wasn’t her biggest fan (she wasn’t mine either). She took forever to pour me my beer (Listen lady, I am having serious FOMO, and I didn’t bring my phone to distract me. HAND ME MY DRINK so I can go back outside and socialize!).

 When I return:

 “I want guacamole.”

“We’re eating dinner soon.”

“Should we get guacamole?”

“Well, with the kind of day we’re already havin…”

“I want to have room for dinner.”

“Where should we go for dinner?”

“I still want guacamole.”

Dinner plans are decided on. We shall go to Kanoyama. Sushi, a few blocks away.

 “Should we get the sushi for 3?”

“Do you want sushi pieces?”

“It’s like sashimi with rice underneath.”

“Should we do it?”

“I want a seaweed salad”

 Waitress comes over.

 “We’ll have the sushi for 3 please”

 “It really is such a great deal. We’ll definitely be happy with it.”

 Turns out we were really happy with it: wide assortment and TONS of sushi. It’s hard to feel fat and weighed down from sushi. Although I always say it just takes that one last piece to put you over the edge. We ended up leaving 3 pieces behind on the oversized plate. Probably so later we could say we didn’t eat the whole thing.

 Conversation shifts:

 “I got my palm read on a date, and the fortune teller said I’m going to have a baby…soon. And it was really awkward, because it was our first date.”

 ..

 “I don’t want to get pregnant.”

“I’m going to get so fat.”

“I don’t think you will.”

“My face will be huge.”

“I’m going to have a c-secton”

 …

I should point out that there is a couple sitting 6 inches away from us not even speaking to one another, and just listening to our conversation. GET YOUR OWN CONVERSATION AND STOP JUDGING US. What kind of couple are you that just sit there and hold hands over your miso soup?  I’m realizing it’s a pattern that my neighboring patrons always seem to be listening to my conversation. Do I have weird conversations? Am I just loud (yes, I’m definitely loud)? Am I paranoid? Or am I just THAT interesting?

 “Where is our check?”

“Is she ignoring us?”

“I’m getting antsy.”

“We’re still going to Momofuku Milk Bar right?”

“Yep!”

“There’s a line. I’m cold, I’m going home.” (man down, she leaves but turns around twice to see if we’re still on line…we are)

 I have never been to Momofuku Milk Bar before, I’m not goin’ anywhere.

 “What do I order here?”

“Everything is amazing.”

 I end up ordering the peanutbutter cookie, and shove it in my sweatshirt pocket. I stroll home and do back to back conversation with my dad, and then my mom.

 As I’m heading into the elevator, my impatience gets the best of me, and I start chomping on my cookie. It was SO delicious! Unfortunately I was holding in my delight so my mom wouldn’t ask me why I was making such weird noises.

 My mom pauses for a second, “What are you eating?”

 “Celery.”

Kanoyama (seaweed salad)

That is a lot of sesame seeds. My friend wanted a seaweed salad with her sushi combo. She said it had “a lot of different types of seaweed in it.”

Kanoyama (miso soup).

Sushi for 3 comes with a choice of soup or salad. I opted for soup, and it was a great start to the meal.

Kanoyama  [Click the photo above to go to  Kanoyama’s website]

You can see my friend’s claws going at the sushi as I try to take a picture of it. I attacked piece after piece.

Momofuku Milk Bar [Click the photo above to go to  Momofuku’s website]

I know they look like regular cookies, but they are definitely not. My friend got the  cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip and the blueberries and cream cookie. I opted for simple peanut butter. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It was so gooey. I hesitated in turning on the television, because I didn’t want to stop eating my snack.


Sip Sak  [Click the photo above to go to Sip Sak’s website]

928 2nd Ave (between 49th & 50th St), New York 10022

Finding a good lunch spot is hard. It is so difficult to strike the perfect balance between undereating and stuffing yourself to the point of no return.

Undereating means feeling like a savaged beast by 3pm clawing at paperwork and pens at your desk, while overeating can lead you to wanting to take a nap under your desk. Not to mention you don’t want to have wasted all your calories before dinner. I bring you Sip Sak!

Sip Sak is technically a Turkish restaurant, but I like to say Mediterranean, because it sounds way less intimidating. I have been there a bunch of times, and it is always a great alternative to my usual salad.

Their appetizers are delic’. The bread comes toasted (I try to avoid the carbs during the work week, but sometimes I give in), and their hummus is SOOOO good. It tastes authentic and it’s also on the creamier side (i hate when you get hummus that is stiff like a pate). Their spinach appetizer is my favorite (it’s cold by the way)! I don’t even think it tastes like spinach (it tastes like crack. No it doesn’t. It does. No, but it’s good) It comes with a dollup of yogurt on the top too (I will sometimes just get this and a soup and call it a day).

I actually ordered spinach again as my main too, but this time it came hot and with mushrooms (relax, Popeye). Mushrooms and spinach are a super filling option if you don’t want meat (I do not observe Lent but some peeps do. I am one of the chosen people, but it is also a vegetarian option too. I am just trying to stay current).

My sister got lamb kebabs that I was pretty jealous of. They were perfectly spiced and had great texture. It also came with rice and cabbage. I am a weird sucker for a good cabbage salad (I really don’t know), and I reached my fork across the table and scooped it off her plate, eventually screaming “JUST PUT IT ON MY PLATE ALREADY”

My mom went for a traditional greek salad with grilled chicken. SipSak just added some fava beans. She has been here before, and if she likes a place…we go back.

There are seriously a ton of options. I drag everyone in my office to this restaurant. I think they’ve had enough of me.

Sip Sak (interior)

It’s just too cute.

Sip Sak (lamb with rice and side salad)

There are no words. I know some people are not lamb lovers, but this is legit. You can see my cabbage salad peeking over the lamb’s left shoulder (was that weird?).

Sip Sak (greek salad with grilled chicken)

They gave a ridiculous amount of grilled chicken, and my mom was definitely full.

Sip Sak (spinach with mushrooms topped with peppers and tomatoes)

You know how I feel about their spinach. No need to beat a dead horse.

Sip Sak (toasted bread)

I could fill up on this alone, but I held myself back and let my mom and sister take some too (they’re so selfish sometimes).


Shake Shack  [Click the photo above to go to Shake Shack’s website]

Madison Square Park:Southeast corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Ave and East 23rd St

Whenever I take a gym class in Flatiron I always have to stroll by Madison Square Park on my way. As I walk by the small piece of green I always see a line snaked around the corner for Shake Shack. In Manhattan there are only 2 reasons for a line, one: those people are tourists and idiots, and two: it’s actually worth the wait.

Being that I am walking to a gym class I always decide it would be counterproductive to stop for a cheeseburger and fries, but in the back of my mind I always think, “I will eat there at some point.”

Well! That day has come!

I was planning a Thursday night dinner with my friend, and her only rule was it had to be under $20. “Are we drinking?” I immediately ask (alcohol would make it a lot harder to keep the meal under $20). We are not (bummer, it’s Thursday), “Lets save ourselves for the weekend.” Suddenly I had an epiphany. We shall go to Shake Shack. It’s on.

The plan was we would meet at Shake Shack, and then bring the food back to my apartment to eat and “watch” the Knicks Game (what up LINsanity). I had told everyone and their mother (I’m going to Shake Shake. Spread it!) I was going so I had received a few suggestion.

Get the milkshake!

Get the burger!

OK OK! TWIST MY ARM!

I threw on my Thanksgiving pants (you know where that’s from!), and off I went.

As we’re waiting on line I peruse the prices. “It’s so cheap for a burger.”

“That’s because they’re so small,” my friend replies.

Small! Small! Panic immediately starts to build inside my stomach. What if I am not full? What if I am still hungry? (looking back it would not have been the worst thing) I change my mind. I shall get the double cheese burger, and a vanilla shake. I went to the gym in the morning for this exact reason!

My friend ordered a double burger, and we split fries. As we waited for our food (they give you buzzers so you know when your food is ready, which immediately led to phantom vibrations. did it go off? are you sure??) we chitchatted.

“Do you think it’s a big deal we’re missing part of the Knick’s game?”

“Nah, the 4th quarter is all that matters.”

“Oh, ok good.”

“They should just give each team 100 points and then put 2 minutes on the clock”

We invented a new game, while waiting for our burgers. PERFECT! LamLam? Carmello? Lin? How do you feel about this new sport??

Finally, the buzzers go off! (ok it was 3 minutes) I have to say, it was worth the hype. The burger was almost buttery, the fries were seasoned, and the milkshake was delightful (I’m lactose intolerant so I took a big risk with that). We packed it up and left to watch the Knicks game (they lost to the Miami Heat, and I screamed GET A REBOUND 10x to myself in my apartment).

“Hey,” I said as we were getting up, “this would be a cute date spot. It’s casual, and it’s cute being in the park at night, and you can even get a beer.”

“Yea, sure” my friend replies, and pops one last fry in her mouth.

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)

Tell me that isn’t a little romantic with the lights!

Shake Shack (double cheeseburger)

Ch-ch-ch-check it out! Cray-zay! I ate the WHOLE thing. I did, and I only felt a little guilty when I checked myself out in the mirror this morning. Maybe get a regular burger if you’re on a date…

Shake Shack (vanilla shake)

I got fancy with it!! I like the classic diner shake, either vanilla or black & white. This does NOT taste like a diner milkshake, but it was really yummy (my milkshake brings all the boys to yard…Sorry I’m not sorry!)

Shake Shack (double cheeseburger, vanilla milkshake)

Here is my delicious meal! It ain’t fancy, but who cares!



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