New York City Eats

Pinky up!

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If you are feeling nostalgic after returning from a visit to England or if you are obsess with the culture of Great Britain but cannot afford to travel across the Atlantic, Tea & Sympathy is as close of an English experience in New York City as you can get.  The restaurant is located on the same block as the popular fish and chip joint known as Salt and Battery and if you have the urge for a Cadbury Creme Egg or while you wait for seating visit the Carry Out Tea & Sympathy shop.  “It’s like little London” — Jesse.  

Tea & Sympathy, a tiny, cute and cozy restaurant that serves a wide selection of tea in floral prints to kitschy teapots.  Entering into Tea & Sympathy is the feeling of warmth and into a friend’s cottage.  The restaurant was staffed with English accent and diners alike!  Jesse had ordered the traditional scones with butter and jam with a choice of a pot of tea which she chose rose petal and she had recommended coronation chicken curry on seven whole grain bread sandwich with a pot of black currant tea for me.  When the scones arrived which was not what I typically know scones as with a firm and crumbly like a cookie texture.  The scones served are more like the southern biscuits which though there was only two, I was not at all disappointed.  On the side there was the thick and creamy butter and strawberry jam in which you can see the strawberries.  So let’s get this clear, the English refers a scone when in America is a biscuit and a biscuit as a cookie and trainers as sneakers…English culture 101.  

 

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 img_1372The nice thing about the tea served at Tea & Sympathy is authenticity based on the tea leaves rather than most places served with tea bags.  We each ordered a pot of tea and both came in floral prints and the strainer to separate the tea leaves from the tea as you poured.  I was pretty satisfy with my black currant compared to my Twinning black currant tea bags I have had before.  The aroma is not pungent but the taste of black currants is pretty refreshing paired with the scones.  Sugar and milk is not necessary with the black currant compared to the pot of rose petal where it is needed to your preference as it is a bit darker. 

Let’s not forget the coronation curry chicken on seven whole grain bread which I was unsure if I wanted to order sandwiches after the mountain of bread I have consumed for the past few weeks from my brother’s bread baking class. The taste of curry was unexpected as it was sweet instead of what I am regularly used to with spicy curry.  Overall it was not a heavy lunch but a good light snack for a first weekend to welcome Spring!

Tea & Sympathy /// 108 Greenwich Avenue (Between 12th & 13th Street) NY NY 10011

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New York City Eats

Long Live the Bread!

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“jim’me’s bread”- as my co-worker quoted 

A little bit of margarine spread onto a day after fresh baked baguette transports me back to my visit to Paris, France in mid-autumn October. No, it’s not Balthazar, Sullivan Street Bakery, or Amy’s Bread.  I am referring to my brother Jimmy’s debut in artisanal bread baking.  

After ten years with Lehmann Brothers, my brother Jimmy is one of many people who are close to me dearly that are affected by the recession and one of few who have taken the news optimistically.  Growing up with my brother, I knew he showed many interests and he has occasionally talked about entrepreneur in a tea parlor to a karate gym and now in a very likely horizon and with great potential: a bread shop.  

He enrolled in a nine week Art of International Bread Baking career program with renowned French Culinary Institute.  On the first day of class, my brother brought home a French Baguette which the French takes seriously of and as I recall almost every other Parisian on a bicycle or pedestrian had a baguette in hand.  I was really impressed with the French Baguette my brother had made.  The exterior crust of the baguette is hard and crunchy but not in the way where the roof of your mouth tears apart.  The interior of the bread is light and fluffy, not hollowed or completely mold together.  With a little bit of butter spread, I am in Paris and a fan of jim’me’s bread!    

 

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Later in the week, working the ArtAsiaPacific booth at the Armory Show, since I was in the Hell’s Kitchen area I made my very first visit to the highly acclaimed by foodies and my long awaited trip to Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery.  After hearing so much positive reviews about Sullivan Street Bakery, I needed to know what the hype is all about.   I did have high expectations beforehand and I admittedly have to say Sullivan Street Bakery did meet my expectations in terms of taste.  It was noon, I walked in and through the bread display there was a selection of panini (sandwiches), pizze (pizza), dolci (tarts & desserts) or simply loafs of breads.  The front counter lady barked at me, “are you ready? are you ready?” when there was not really quite a line.  The service was typical New York City unpleasant but I was not there to judge the service though it would make the overall experience better.  I decided to order a panino cubano (Cuban Sandwich) and pudica al Giuliano ( i think, the tomato bread stick).  I have not had too many cuban sandwich in my twenty – something years of life and the only one I can compare to is the one I had at Cafe Habana.   Sullivan Street Bakery’s panino cubano consist of a layer of roasted pork, prosciutto di parma, gruyere cheese, fresh cucumber pickles, a bit a mayonnaise, mustard seed, and according to their site menu aioli (that’s new!  aioli: olive oil + garlic + egg) on a subtle taste of garlic bread.  The prosciutto di parma was not too salty and the gruyere cheese is freshly and thinly sliced to perfection. Each component compliments one another pretty well but just about any good amount of fresh cold cuts between good bread should taste. 

The second item I ordered is what I believe the Italians call it pudica al Giuliano or what I call a baby tomato bread stick.  I had eaten this late in the day at the Armory Show, Jesse and I had  agree it was a very good end of the day snack.  The size of this bread stick is almost the length of my arm!  The presentation was very unusual with half -sliced, sweet and juicy baby tomatoes submerged into the bread for every 3 inches apart.  I was only going to eat a quarter of the bread stick but I end up eating the whole bread stick to myself after sharing another quarter of the bread to Jesse…that was how good it was! 

The next day Jesse brought in samples of sliced Sullivan Street Bakery pane alle olive (olive bread).  Amazingly there are fresh olives in the Olive bread in which maybe preserved in red wine…mmm drunken olive bread, very distinctive indeed.

 

Sullivan St. Bakery ///  533 West 47th Street Between 11th & 10th Avenue

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New York City Eats

A Steamy Weekend: All for Under $25

FEBRUARY 27th, 2009

Beford Ave, Brooklyn is quickly becoming the prime area to be on a Friday night scene.  For bowling and dinner all together for a total of under $25, I am in love with the neighborhood.  

It took me three weeks, 3 emails and a total of 161 messages on facebook to organize a St.John’s/ NeVAS gathering at the Gutter Bar.  Located conveniently three stops away from Union Square L train line and a ten minutes walk from the Beford Ave L train station to the bowling alley, it’s worth the out of Manhattan borough trek.  

It was my very first time at the Gutter Bar and as it was for the 14 of us: Eno, Helen, Sandy, Maria, Dave,  John, Kim, Matt, Karen, Shirley, Justin, Vaughn, and Obden. We all arrived roughly between 6:30-7:00pm.  While waiting for a pair of lanes there was a full bar, pool table, and hockey foosball to let the time pass by.  Finally, our pair of lanes were available by 8pm but we didn’t settle in until almost 8:30pm.  Let the bowling begin!  

Only 11 of us end up bowling and I was on the team with Sandy, Helen, Kim, Eno and John.  With a personal score of 95 which was obviously not my best score (letting you on a secret or not so much of a secret now I was in the girls bowling league in my high school).  Gutter Bar has amazing atmosphere if you are willing to scream amongst one another in order to communicate over the pumping indie music the Gutter Bar plays.  Unlike most of the 21st century bowling alleys in New York City with an overhead t.v monitor to keep scores and with selections of themes when you hit a strike or a spare or even a gutter ball, the Gutter Bar bowling alley keeps it sweet and simple and old school with only scores on the monitor.   The cons of Gutter Bar is if you are a serious bowler, there are only 8 lanes and you do not have the option to choose your bowling balls and the lanes are not as waxed and you may have difficulty concentrating over the loud music.  Though I was on a bowling team and have bowled at quite a few amount of bowling alleys, bowling is bowling and is pure fun! 

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During bowling, Dave ordered two large pies from Fornino Pizzeria for delivery in which he turned the night at the bowling alley into a pizza dealing business charging each of us $2 per slice.  Afterwards we stroll through Beford Ave scavenging for a real meal.  Suddenly, a eureka moment hit me and I thought of Sea the Thai restaurant.  When we had arrived, it was unexpectedly a disco/ club night.  We’re a young group but I think we’re all grannies at heart so we opted out for a more mellow Southeast Asian Cuisine restaurant down the block, Tacu Tacu.  Amazingly, there was a large table destined to compensate our large group without prior reservation.  The restaurant though call themselves Southeast Asian Cuisine, it had a very broad menu with Malaysian, Thai, and Spanish cuisines alike.  I ordered a rather American Asian dish Java Coconut flavored Tofu Fried Rice.  Perhaps it was after 10pm and my taste buds have a time limit, the flavor of the fried rice was rather bland.  I would suggest the complimentary plantain chips they serve before the meal, I think we asked for refills for at least 3-4 times, they we’re addicting.  Half-way through dinner, unexpectedly I had waiters approaching me with a fried ice cream with a birthday candle and a special effect flamed plate singing Happy Birthday.  The whole time I was reacting to the bizarre singing as a mistake that it must be the next table since my birthday has been a month ago.  I know it’s you Dave, so thank you!

 

FEBRUARY 28th, 2009

img_1153img_11592Personally, I am not a huge fan of hot pot but with the persuasion and enthusiasm of Jesse a.k.a Queen of Hot Pot, my perception of hot pot has changed or at least I’m digging the Sichuan style.  As a belated birthday celebration for Cynthia and a celebratory of the end of my vegetarian month (admittedly cheated),  Jesse, Cynthia, Michelle, Anita and I dined at the Grand Sichuan known for their hot pot on Canal Street, right by the Fung Wah NYC to Boston bus.  Thank goodness, Jesse made reservations because this place was in popular demand by locals and by Fung Wah passengers judging by the luggage as people we’re making their way out.  

Hot Pot consist a choice of broth of spicy or non-spicy or both and an endless selection of anything and everything that can be boiled, cooked and eaten and is excellent for the winter months.  Our selection with all individually priced consist of a plate of prawns, fried tofu, frozen tofu, mushrooms, clear glass noodles, chive meat dumplings, thinly sliced beef and pork, and a bowl of spinach and bok choy.  On the side we order sa cha dipping sauce.  With hot pot it requires self-cooked but that is the purpose and is fun especially with a group of friends and with at least one hot pot connoisseur.  As expected the Sichuan province known for their spicy flavors, the spicy broth with countless amount of chili peppers floating on the broth is authentically delicious and an excellent cold remedy, where throughout the meal caused occasional sniffles.  The regular, non-spicy broth which I believe is a simple chicken broth for those who may not be able to handle the heat is equally delicious.  A combination of some clear glass noodles, mushrooms, spinach and chive meat dumplings in the spicy chili broth with a dollop of sa cha sauce has made my stomach a very happy one.   

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Gutter Bar/// 200 N. 14th street

Fornino Pizzeria/// 187 Bedford Ave 

Tacu Tacu Southeast Asian/// 136 N. 6th

Grand Sichuan/// 125 Canal Street N.Y, N.Y 10002


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