Good evening, everybody.
An update to my earlier quibbles with The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop: I have been banned from posting comments on their facebook page. They didn’t care for my heroic crusade in the name of fresh whipped cream. Not that I won’t keep trying. In any event, I went there today for a Monday Sundae, and upon requesting it with Pumpkin Soft Serve ice cream, the counterperson informed me that of course I could have it with pumpkin, because I’m a “decadent bitch.” True enough.
(They still used crappy canned whipped cream.)
In other news, it looks like my next target for improvement is the Salty Road Taffy company; I bought a box of their taffy from Brooklyn Larder, and foolishly did not read the ingredient list until I got home. I assumed since it was $6.50 for a small box, it would be quality taffy without some sort of godawful atrocious ingredient in it.
I was wrong. To my horror it was made with HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL. If I wanted that junk in my taffy, I would go to the corner bodega, like a savage, and buy a package of laffy taffy or airheads. I’ve sent the Salty Road an email expressing my outrage; I’ll keep everyone updated on that.
And finally, let’s document my literary adventures wherein author Marisha Pessl has been dodging my pressing questions that need answered about Jewish appetizing and NYC geography. I don’t usually cover books here, but I’ve enjoyed her work. Topics in Calamity Physics turned out to a surprisingly unpredictable and compulsive read, and Night Film, the subject of my inquiries is definitely worth picking up. It’s an effective horror/mystery about disgraced reporter, Scott McGrath, tracking down an elusive cult film maker. The ending is a bit disappointing mostly due to the stories within the story telegraphing the ending, but it’s a well crafted novel.
Anyway, about midway through, McGrath needs to get some information from one of his sources. This source happens to really love Jewish Appetizing, so he decides to pick some up to butter her up. Herein lies the problem. He lives in the West Village on Perry Street. His source lives in Middle Village, Queens. Now, stay with me here. He decides to take the 1 train to the UWS to go to Barney Greengrass for the goods. It’s certainly an institution and an excellent choice for lox et. al, but it makes no sense to go there if he’s going to Middle Village! Middle Village is off the M train. You know what else is off the M train? Russ and Daughters!!! It’s stupid to go all the way to the UWS via the 1 train, to just have to shclep back down, completely leave the subway system to the get the M. (unless he wanted to catch either the 7 or L train, and then transfer AGAIN to the M) when easily could have walked to Russ and Daughters from his apartment, then gotten the M train at Broadway Lafeyette, and taken that to MIddle Village. This has been keeping me up at night, and so far my inquiries on Pessl’s facebook page have gone unanswered. As always I’ll let everyone know if I get a response.
Writer’s Block: what a concept.
Anyway, Smorgasburg started up this weekend and I went there to eat twice my recommended daily intake of calories in just about a half hour or so. I arrived at around 11:15 A.M. to avoid crowds, which worked out pretty well. Most of the vendors were already set up or just about finished setting up, and I didn’t have to awkwardly cut in line and ignore people’s indignant protests.
Here’s what I ate:
I started at Mighty Quinn’s BBQ because I was denied on Friday evening due to a line piling out onto the street in its East Village brick and mortar location. I hear the line at Smorgasburg got pretty brutal as the day went on, but I didn’t have much of a problem. I picked up a very good pulled pork slider, and had no complaints. The slider was imbued with an intense woody smoked flavor, and the sprinkle of kosher salt they put on it brought out even more flavor and added an interesting crunch. Pickles and pickled onions rounded out the slider for a good start to the day. Mighty Quinn’s might be my new favorite BBQ, mostly because unlike John Brown’s, they haven’t banned me from their facebook page yet.
Next up, I made my way to Brooklyn Wok, mostly by default because I was having trouble deciding what to get. I had heard good things about their restaurant, but never made it over there. They were serving Fried Wontons, and while it’s killing me to be so positive, they were some of the best fried pork wontons I’ve ever had. They came out fresh from the frier, and had a thinner skin than most fried wontons from other Chinese places. The pork was also delicious, both piled on top of the wontons and within as well.
Then I said fuck it, and went to the Bombay Sandwich company and ordered their quinoa chickpea stuffed sandwich which was kind of a panini and kind of a samosa. They guy told me to come back in five minutes, so I took that opportunity to head over to Cake Bites where they were serving cake truffles, and ordered a salted caramel. Unfortunately I didn’t realize until after I paid that it was vegan, but it was surprisingly excellent. The chocolate coating was serious dark chocolate, and the cake had an intense, burnt sugar flavor while being very moist. Not quite as good as Momofuku Milk Bar’s cake truffles, but still quite good.
After my cake intermission it was back to Bombay Sandwich company to pick up my Chickpea Quinoa concoction, and it turned out to be very good, topped with some of the best Green Chutney I’ve had in the city. They also have a killer hot sauce that’s very hot without sacrificing flavor. And I almost forgot, there was a mango-mint lemonade which was a worthy accompaniment, but could’ve used a bit more tartness. It was more like mango mint juice with a smattering of lemon.
So, by this point I had had enough of savory, hit stage two of my smorgasbinge, and picked up a s’mores pie from Butter and Scotch, because I had not had enough pie lately. It was delicious, consisting of a nice chocolate pudding base topped with toasted marshmallow cream. If I made one mistake that day, it was not ordering two of them. I washed that down with a salted chocolate chip oat cookie from S’mores Bakery (perhaps ironically) that was about the size of my face and also delicious. I usually don’t like salty tastes in my desserts, but it wasn’t overpowering, and the cookie had nice caramelled crispy edges that really heightened the experience.
I was pretty full at that point, but alas I couldn’t leave without going to one of my favorite vendors, Landhaus for their maple bacon stick, which is so amazing that it won the nobel prize last year. Kind of a bacon slice on steroids, it’s about three inches, by one inch, by 1/4 inch thick, put on a stick, grilled, spiced, then topped with maple syrup. It’s amazing because it can simultaneously cause heart disease AND diabetes.
Here’s to another year of Smorgasburg. Also in case in anyone was worried that this was too positive, I plan on ripping Jacob’s Pickle’s a new biscuit hole soon.
Happy New Year everyone, and welcome back to the blog. I want to talk about two dining establishments that I frequent, both as a customer and as a facebook commenter on their walls. Unfortunately, these restaurants did not like what I had to say so they banned me from posting. You can rest assured that this blog will be sent to them as a message to let them know I’m still out there and watching them, but what’s odd about their response is that I actually like these places. They’re delicious. Without further delay, in chronological order:
John Brown’s Smokehouse is a really good BBQ place on a barren, industrial stretch of 44th Drive in Long Island City. They opened about a year and a half ago in a smaller location before moving to their larger and much improved location. Anyway, when they first opened I had two issues, one of which they’ve since resolved. First, their soda selection is paltry. They just have Coke, Sprite, lemonade, and some sort of strawberry soda that really isn’t good. The other issue was that they used frozen french fries. Of course I couldn’t let this stand, so I immediately, and bravely, ran to their facebook page to inform them of these transgressions against my food commandments. (and decent taste) Their response was less than enthusiastic, as to my best recollection one of the owners responded sarcastically that while they were at it, should they start serving Champagne on tap also? Sadly, a few weeks later, and after a few more posts where I responded to announcements of live music by inquiring where they were going to fit the musicians in such a tiny space, (The original location was definitely tiny.) I found myself unable to post on their page anymore. I was silenced by their smoky BBQ wrath.
It’s worth noting that when they moved to their new location they acted on one of my suggestions and started serving vastly improved fresh cut french fries, and most of their other offerings are delicious. They have a superlative smoked turkey breast and a deliciously fatty pork belly. Their specials, whether it be rich smoked duck, or excellent wings are always good. They offer a good selection of beer if you’re into that type of thing. And, as for sauce, it’s some of my favorite BBQ sauce in the city, both their regular which isn’t overly sweet and goes perfectly drizzled on their meat, and their Ghost Pepper Sauce which manages to have a nice kick, but isn’t one dimensionally incendiary. So John Brown’s, there you have it-I like you people, we can have a peaceful facebook relationship if you’ve read this far. Just get some damned Boylan’s soda in. (Or if you insist on sticking with the commercial behemoths, at least get some Mr. Pibbs.)
Who else? I’m looking at you Bark Hot Dogs, and I’ve covered them in the past.
To review, Bark is one of those precious foodie havens in Park Slope that part of me hates to love so much because part of their reason for existence is to see how much they can get away with charging for food, but damnit it’s delicious (see my past post on their crispy pork sandwich.) This deliciousness happens to be located two minutes from the newly opened Barclay’s Center. Great business opportunity, obviously, lots more people flooding into the area, and by all means any business would be stupid not to capitalize on that. My problem, that I hammered them about, was that that they were coming off as wayyyyyy too needy and whiney in trying to get Jay Z (who while a brilliant business man, is for all intents and purposes useless as a musician) into their restaurant for free hot dogs. I think they got a little upset when I gave them a rant when they offered him free hot dogs for the eighth time, meanwhile Neil Young was playing that night and they seemingly snubbed him. Neil Young is a living legend, and Jay Z is a talentless smug hack. I guess Bark took umbrage when I demanded that they give Neil Young free hot dogs if he showed up. So that was that.
Which again is odd, because for the most part I’m positive about Bark. Sure it has its minuses: they’re hiding the fact that they got a B sanitary grade by pasting it on a side window in the entrance alcove so it’s easy to miss, and it attracts way too many Park Slope parents who let their little satan spawn run wild through the restaurant while for some reason bring half of their toy chest with them. On the other hand, crispy pork sandwich, and crispy chicken sandwich are some of the best sandwiches every made, their fries are amazing, they do a great breakfast, and have Foxton Park sodas, which are a step up from coke and pepsi.
In any event, it’s their loss if they don’t want to listen to me. I guess I can only hope to create more waves as 2013 goes on, and maybe even get banned from a really classy place, like Per Se.
I’m a miracle of modern science, surviving on a diet of cake, candy and chocolate. Let’s see where I obtain my candy sustenance.
One of my favorite new places is the Sugar Shop in Cobble Hill. It has just about anything anyone with a candy problem could ever want: shelves overflowing with gummies, chocolates, candy bars, and hard candy. I’m not a huge fan of a lot of commercial mainstream chocolate so that part I can take or leave, but their bulk candy bins are a turning into a guilty pleasure, as a handful of gummy cokes, a peanut butter malted milk ball, and some chocolate covered espresso beans really take the edge off of a tough day. The Sugar Shop also has a nice selection of higher quality dark and milk chocolate bars, featuring a few local Brooklyn favorites like Mast Brothers and Cacao Prieto.
If I’m in more of a European mood, I’ll usually head over to Christopher St. in the West Village to Sockerbit which has a nice selection of Swedish candies, toffees, chocolate covered things, and if you’re a masochistic sociopath, licorice. They also have popsicles in the Summer*. Aside from the delicious piles of gummies and chocolate covered nougat they have laying around in bins, my favorite thing about Sockerbit is the fact that everything in the store aside from the food stuffs is so white. It’s cathartic walking into the shop as you feel like your stumbling into limbo before you start to spike your glycemic levels. The only problem is that the bin design is flawed as their covers span four different bins, and each bin is pretty wide so that the candy is exposed to too much air, and while I have no doubt they keep their stocks fresh, this tends to lead to some of the gummies going stale and hard.
These are all well and good, but when I really need to get my high quality chocolate fix I’ve discovered the Meadow on Hudson Street for its excellent selection of dark chocolate bars from all over. And quite frankly I needed to immediately rush home to clean my underwear when I discovered that they carried Soma chocolate, an amazing chocolate producer located in Toronto. Some makes the best dark chocolate bars I’ve ever had. The Meadow also sells bitters and finishing salts, but fuck that, I go there for the chocolate.
We’ll wrap it up there for now because I need to go mainline an Askinose Bar. Happy Fudging.
* Under the Adler regime, seasons will ALWAYS be capitalized.