Monthly Archives: August 2012

Parker & Otis

        Parker & Otis
112 S Duke St
Durham, NC 27701

Second time in Durham, second time at Parker & Otis.  The place is rustic, charming, and full of fun little trinkets.  It’s a place where you find yourself meandering through the aisles of goodies but end up leaving with nothing.  A bar of chocolate was $7.  Enough said.

The food, on the other hand, is decently priced.  I split two sandwiches and three sides with LAW.  Pictured here is the turkey and Stonewall Kitchen mango chutney sandwich with bacon, lettuce, red onion, mayo, and yellow cheddar on sourdough ($7.99).  The ratios of their sandwiches are not quite my ideal because they give waaaay too much meat for the thin slices of bread that they use.  The turkey was decent though a little dry and the sourdough was also just meh.  The mango chutney, on the other hand, was delicious!  It was sweet, slightly spiced, and added a great kick to the sandwich.  Bacon was crispy and not too fatty, giving the sandwich a little texture.  Though, the best bacon in a sandwich can be found in my last post: Fosters Market. Continue reading

A Turkey Club at its Finest

Foster’s Market
2694 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd
Durham, NC 27707

I was in Durham this past weekend for a music video that Chen + Wong were shooting for Delta Rae.  I had been to Durham once before for another music video shoot but never had the chance to hit up Foster’s Market.  Foster’s Market is a food market and cafe that offers all kinds of pastries, soups, sandwiches, and various sides (such as green pickled mango).


LAW had been here once before and said that the Cheddar Herb Biscuits were amazing, hence we each got one ($1.50).

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Daily Juice


Daily Juice
329 14th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Daily Juice is a tiny little juice bar tucked away on the east side.  It serves up a variety of bubble teas, smoothies, fruit and vegetable juices, and wheat grass shots (see the neat rows of fresh wheat grass growing in the back?).  It’s owned by a Chinese couple, who recently shut down the bar for two weeks to get married.  Clearly not a large standardized chain place like Kung Fu Tea or anything.  And for my bubble teas, where standardization is very important (level of sugar, ice, ratio of tea to milk, etc.), I do prefer the Kung Fu Tea chain.  BUT, for fresh fruit and vegetable juices, Daily Juice really does it correctly.  They don’t add any sugar or syrups and always have very fresh fruits and vegetables handy.


I always get the large celery, spinach, and apple juice.  It includes like… four stalks of celery, a large handful of spinach, and two apples.  Insane.  I tend to get it when I feel like I haven’t been getting my share of vegetables.  The apples sweeten up the juice quite a bit so that you feel like you’re actually drinking juice… and not a meal.  It’s very refreshing.

 

Kenka – open until 4am… you know what that means.


Kenka
25 Saint Marks Pl
(between 3rd Ave and Astor Place)
New York, NY 10003

New York City night owls, prepare to meet your next favorite drunken food spot.  Think cheap Japanese tapas… the menu is huge, featuring a wide variety of foods like yakitori (Japanese bbq on a stick), grilled fish, fried udon, ramen, fried rice, soup, and even mochi ice cream.  AND it is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.  The food is not ridiculously mind-blowing but it is pretty good… and it becomes ridiculously mind-blowing when you’re intoxicated, of course.  I actually recently went just for dinner and so was finally able to take pictures.  Pictured above is the Yaki Udon, which is fried udon noodle with pork, squid and vegetables ($6.50).  The noodles are thick and chewy.  Pork was fatty and flavorful.


Here is the Yakitori BBQ Chicken ($4.00).  It is nothing compared to Yakitori Totto, but certainly serves its purpose.  Meat was not super tender nor tough.  Sauce was a typical terriyaki kind of sauce.  I didn’t like it too much, but my friend M.B. wiped the plate clean.

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Two Little Red Hens – my favorite cupcakes in the city

Two Little Red Hens
1652 2nd Ave
(between 85th St & 86th St)
New York, NY 10028

I’m on a roll with favorites.  My last two blog posts have all been favorites.  One was about my favorite pizza place, and the other about my favorite burger.  Let me know if you agree or disagree!


This post will be about my favorite cupcake place in NYC.  This, I imagine, will be somewhat controversial like my burger post… it’ll hopefully bring out some cupcake loyalties and will reveal who all of Two Little Red Hen’s legitimate competitors are.  The only qualm I have about the bakery is that it is so damn far away.  I’ve only been a few times, mostly as a side-stop after a visit to the MET or in this case, a visit to my friend B.G.’s gym.  He does a full afternoon workout + double-zumba session every Saturday and I thought I’d join.  Not going to lie, a big reason for why I went was that I would have an excuse to travel all the way uptown for some cupcakes…


While ordering, I was really wishing I had a sweeter tooth and/or cupcakes didn’t rely on freshness but neither of those are the case so I left the bakery with just these little gems.  The large cupcake is their Banana Cupcake, which is my absolute favorite.  I get it every time I come.  They actually had a fresh batch just as I got in, a sign from the gods that we were meant for each other.  The two small ones are the Brooklyn Blackout and the Peanut Butter.

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Shake Shack >> In-N-Out.

Shake Shack
215 Murray St
New York, NY 10282

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about Shake Shack, my favorite fast food chain and my FAVORITE burger of all time.  I’ve tried the whole spectrum from McDonald’s to Minetta Tavern’s $26 Black Label Burger and Shake Shack still wins in terms of 100% taste (meaning, I’m not giving it any bonus points for it being cheap).

I recently went to the Battery Park venue after a beautiful bike ride along the East side river.  LAW and I got three burgers and one order of fries.  Normally we would have also gotten the pricey but delicious Fair Shake ($5.50), which is a vanilla shake with organic Arabica Fair Trade coffee.  It’s the only shake I love because it is deliciously creamy and has such a nice roasted coffee flavor.  But we didn’t get it because we were hosting a root beer float party later that day…  Continue reading

Luzzo’s for Pasta


Luzzo’s
211 1st Ave
(between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003

I’ve mentioned my favorite pizza place a number of times on my blog because pizza is one of my favorite food groups and to this day, Luzzo’s still amazes me every time I go.  It’s not even a comfort food.  Every time I take a bite out of the Campana (pictured above: tomatoes, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and basil for $17), it tastes even better than I remembered.  Every time!  It’s always juicier, more flavorful, crust chewier, basil more pungent than the last time.  So effing good.

But I’ll stop at that and focus on the other dishes now.  This here has become one of my favorite pastas in the city.  It is the Pappardelle Speck E Porcini, which is made with homemade pasta, speck, porcini mushrooms, and truffle oil.  I actually blogged about it briefly before but my experience was not as good.  I’ve now had this pasta three times and I think that first time was just an off-day for Luzzo’s.  The next two times I had the pasta, it was perfectly al dente and deliciously creamy.  The porcini mushrooms had a nice bite to them and of course a very strong shroomy flavor (highlighted even further by the truffle oil) which contrasted nicely with the cream sauce.  Speck is very similar to prosciutto as they both come from the hind leg of the pig.  However, speck differs in that it is cured after it has been deboned.  It is also smoked with a variety of spices, which prosciutto is not.  As a result, the ham is slightly less tender than prosciutto but much more complex in flavor.  The smokiness went very well with the mushrooms and egg noodles.  Definitely one of my favorite pastas.

 

Dining at the Culinary Institute of America

American Bounty Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Dr
Hyde Park, NY 12538

A family friend of mine is about to be a senior in high school and as most people do during their summer before senior year, he checked out some potential colleges.  Unlike most people, however, he already knows what he wants to do and has known for over two years already: he wants to be a chef.  I joined him and his family on their visit to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY so got to check out this prestigious cooking school.

    
One of the admissions officers gave us a mini tour and explained the CIA’s roots with the US military.  It was founded in 1946 as a vocational school for veterans from WWII and has maintained a similar militaristic kind of structure in their classrooms.  Right as the admissions officer told us about these military roots, she spotted a dollop of mustard on the ground and yelled for a napkin.  I was wondering who she was yelling at and realized soon that she was yelling at any and all of the students passing by in the hallway.  One student scurried over and wiped up the mustard with a towel she had in her backpack.  Militaristic influences right there.

We had lunch at the American Bounty restaurant, an award-winning restaurant that focuses on highlighting American cuisine.  Everything is prepared by the students, from cleaning, cutting, to cooking.  All the servers are also students.  In their final year, they each do 3 weeks in the kitchen and 3 weeks on the floor as servers.  Training all the way around I guess.  Pictured here is my starter.  I had the Warm Buttermilk Fried Oysters ($9.00) with shoestring potatoes and roasted garlic lemon aioli.  Apparently, buttermilk is often used for frying because it acts as a tenderizer, and when combined with a base agent like baking soda, the acids in the buttermilk will react with the base, giving it a light crunchy coating.  The portion was a bit smaller than I expected but the flavors and textures were all amazing.  Oysters were supremely fresh, light, crispy on the outside (not crunchy), and creamy on the inside.  Best fried oysters I’ve had.  Mini salad was a nice accompaniment and aioli was deliciously garlicy. Continue reading

Kotobuki, my new favorite affordable sushi place.

Kotobuki
56 3rd Ave
(between 10th st & 11th st)
New York, NY 10003

Kotobuki just opened a few months ago in the East Village, replacing Lan Japanese Restaurant.  I had never been to Lan but it was apparently quite pricey and quite tasty.  Kotobuki is also quite tasty but is pretty cheap – probably a better combination for success in the East Village area.  Kotobuki is actually a chain that was first established in 1987 and has 3 locations in Long Island.  I guess it was smart of the owner to establish a track record of success before venturing into the harsh and unforgiving restaurant world of Manhattan.

I ordered the Sushi Deluxe ($23), which was supposed to include 10 pieces of nigiri and a California Roll (they actually gave me 11 pieces of nigiri – woo!).  Having recently gone to Sushi Yasuda, I tried to keep my expectations low, especially after seeing that the decor of the place kind of reminded me of a Chipotle… but I was definitely very, very happily surprised.  The fish was suuuuuuuuuuuuper fresh and smooth.  Not a single piece had any stringy bits or parts that would not just melt in your mouth.  Tuna is usually the most obvious indicator of freshness for me because bad tuna is just really bad.  The tuna here was delicious – sweet and slightly creamy.   Continue reading

Upstate in East Village

Upstate
95 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003

Craving seafood on a Friday night, per usual, I scoured the Internet for good options near home.  Upstate popped up a number of times as a low key beer and oysters kind of shack.  They are known for simplicity and freshness.  Sounded good to me.  I hear that normally there is always a wait on weekend nights but we managed to arrive right when a table of two was leaving – score!  We ordered 10 oysters ($2.50-$2.75 each), two of each: Sheepscot River (ME), Fanny Bay (BC), Kumamoto (CA), Hammersley (Puget Sound), and Skookum (WA).  Notice how we only ordered one East Coast type… both LAW and I prefer creamy sweet oysters to briney ones.  Kumamoto oysters won by far, as expected!


If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love scallops and will typically always order the scallop dish if there is one.  Well, since I started buying scallops on my own, I’ve stopped this nonsense because scallops are so darn expensive and petty at restaurants.  Case in point.  The scallop special ($18) included four very fresh steamed (I think?) scallops over a bed of summer slaw (zucchini and cucumbers), drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.  It was suuuuuuper simple and very healthy tasting.  I quite liked it and thought that the fresh, sweet scallops went very well with the veggies.  LAW thought it all tasted just a bit too healthy and was not quite filling enough.  I’ll have to agree with the not-quite-filling enough part… four scallops with zero grease equates to an appetizer portion in my mind.  I could definitely have two portions of these, easily! Continue reading