Pete recently hosted a That 70s Tennis Tournament. Due to logistical lack of planning problems, it ended up with Pete and his cohorts inventing a new game. That game was called racquetball. Pete led Team Borg to an inglorious defeat--Team Laver took home both the Play-Doh-esque medallion and the scoreboard--which was actually a record Pete had planned on keeping. But next fucking time we will beat them. Pete has had a perfectly defeated 2009. No wins in soccer, softball, or tennis. Plus, the Mets suck. Oh yeah, Pete made some chicken salad sandwiches for the tourney. Chicken, walnuts, apple, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and dried orange cranberries. Pete being Pete, he ran out of rye bread so half of them were served on cinnamon raisin bread. Dirty Arnold Palmers were also imbibed by the two-fifth's worth. Lissy provided Nutella for dessert. The whole day was crazy, natch, nuts.
Pete once thought that the world was crazy, everyone was sad and chasing happiness and love and Pete was the only one above it--but then, Pete discovered his two loves: the art of dance and ice cream. After repeated failed auditions to become a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance?, Pete decided to focus on ice cream so he began So You Think You Can Ice Cream? Pete has licked and dripped his way through the summer. Eating ice cream from the Poconos to Paris--sometimes as many as three full cones in a day; sometimes sampling as many as ten in a day--but he has limited the competition to ice creams found in NYC. Also, only the best of a flavor will advance, so while Pete loved both the Strawberry Sweetart and the Strawberry Chocolate Chip from Blue Marble--his favorite ice cream spot overall--only one will move on. Pete also has excluded ice creams that get the majority of their goodness from mix-ins, so the delicious Carrot Cake from Bar Breton will not move on either. Pete also believes the ice cream must exist in the real world so, sadly, Pete's favorite Peanut Butter Banana from Blue Marble has been disqualified as well because Pete found out, sadly, that they are no longer making it due to allergy-contamination concerns. Fucking nuts. Pete now considers PBB the Holy Grail of ice cream. This woman from the Times who took on a similar pursuit as Pete believes she found the Holy Grail of ice cream in the Salted Caramel Pretzel at General Greene, but Pete thinks that finding the Holy Grail is an oxymoronic pursuit--the point of the Holy Grail is that, like true love, it is unattainable. The other thing Pete takes from this article is that there are so many flavors it is impossible to taste them all, and that the point to declaring anything the best is so that you can argue about it with other people who think something else is the best. Pete will declare his favorites shortly and then ask a few followers to join him on a journey into the center of the cone: Taste them all in a single day and declare the ultimate winner.
With a clientele that leans heavily towards the uniform of khaki cargo shorts, flip-flops, the name of their university on their t-shirt, and baseball caps (lots of Boston "Bs")--and the women that love them--the Dram Shop on 9th between Fifth and Sixth is like a microcosm of everything that makes Pete cringe about the "new" Park Slope: Moneyed frat boys that are "living in Brooklyn" for a few years before they become more-moneyed yupsters that move out to Long Island--where Pete grew up so he isn't totally hating--or back to their hometowns. Pete can imagine that this place has one of the highest douche bags per capita ratio in all of Brooklyn once night falls and the shuffleboard starts sliding. Yet... It's one of Pete's favorite spots to front-load--drink on the cheap before heading out to drink somewhere else more expensive later-- on Saturday afternoons before he heads out to Coney for fun in the sun or to the Rockaways to go to a house party and drink pina coladas and almost drown in the riptide and almost die driving back with a crazy Russian who stops at his Ditmas Park townhouse to get his "pill" before going out dancing. But Pete digresses. The two reasons Pete likes are: From noon to 3PM, the Dram Shop's friendly bartenders serve up all of their drafts in a chilled, frosty mug for half price. Pete's current tipple is the Goose Island Honkers Ale. Secondly, the burgers and fries are fantastic. The burgers are like a sloppy grown-up version of a Wendy's double. Two square-shaped patties are browned on the griddle and shoved between a sesame seed bun with American cheese, lettuce, pickles, mustard, onion, and tomato. And the hand-cut fries are crisp but not too crisp and flavorful since they are obviously cooked in meat oil since they are brownish in color.
194 Bleecker Street in the West Village is one of those spaces that is a dark night for restaurants. Over the years restaurants like the Burger Joint--not related to the one in the Le Parker Meridien; it was the second outpost of the one on 20th and 3rd that served $1 sliders and Bosco chocolate sodas, and the guy behind the counter liked to call people "homos"--99 Miles to Philly, and the Indian Bread Company have tried to make it in this spot, and all have failed. It would be a shame if Aamchi Pao suffered the same fate since their "Mumbai Street Food on a New York City Block" is one of Pete's new favorite snack spots. At first, Pete thought that Indian sliders was a classic New York concoction of old and new world; but, it turns out that these cute little sandwiches were invented to feed workers on the go who didn't have time to eat rice dishes--so Pao!: Put classic Indian toppings on a ghee-griddled bun. Pete tasted the three Paos pictured above (from left): Tandoori Achari Paneer with pickle marinade, mint yogurt, roasted peppers, and mango chutney; Spinach Lentil Tikki with tomato mustard chutney, chickpeas, and chili mayo; Parsi Beef Keema with coriander, cumin masala, and tomato. Pete loved the Parsi Beef Keema and the Tandoori Achari Paneer. You can also get your Pao topped with an egg for a buck. The sliders are small--White Castle sized--so Pete headed over to Cones just across 7th on Bleecker for some ice cream afterwards. Pete's Mate--South American green tea--was okay; but Pete's friend's Mascarpone con Frutti di Bosco was the perfect dynamic duo of creamy and fruit and it will be moving on to the next round.
Pete has been preoccupied with planning a 70s tennis tournament, preparing for a dance off, and other ridiculous things so he hasn't been able to keep up with the blogging lately. But there are a lots of entries (and entrees) that Pete is just waiting to post on. Everything from sloppy burgers at the Dram Shop in Park Slope and Bombay-style sliders at Aamchi Pao in the Village to take-away pina coladas with a cherry on top at Connolly's in the Rockaways and Pork and Green hoagies at Shorty's in Hell's Kitchen. But, there is some exciting news in the blogosphere: Solo Basura has joined forces with Pete to offer up culinary anecdotes from LA on Comida con Basura. It's well worth your time.
Pete drizzled a little olive oil on his black olive semolina from the Greenmarket
and then melted thick slices of salted smoked mozzarella over filetti di alici (anchovies in pure olive oil) from Joe's Dairy--located at Sullivan Street just south of Houston. Joe's is an old-school Italian cheese shop/speciality shop that's famous for their smoked mozzarella--it's really fucking good--and it makes you think you are visiting the set of Serpico or Goodfellas. The owners are friendly but don't suffer fools easily; they have classic New York accents and will ask you to leave if you get on your cell phone. Pete had a heavily peppered side salad of red-leaf lettuce, cucumber, and broccolii. Pete also tried three new contestants from Griff's Gelati on Duane Street in Tribeca: gumball, raspberry chocolate chip, and chocolate malted-milk. The gumball tasted like gumball, but is that a good thing?; the chocolate malted-milk was tasty but not exceptional; and the raspberry was not flavorful enough, but the chips were very good. None of the three shall be moving on to the next round of SYTYCIC?
Pete hit the 31st annual Crab Feast (Pete tried to turn it into a Crabfest, but the regulars were having none of that) in the swampland that is the Baltimore-D.C. area--the outdoor thermometer was clocking in at around 102 degrees, and it felt hotter. But despite the unpleasant heat, Pete felt like he was in the land of pleasant living--sadly Natty Bo's brother, Mr. Pringles, could not attend the event due to a previous engagement making people fat all over the country. (Pete also thinks that Pringles may be a gateway drug to crack, but he has no scientific evidence to back this claim up--at this time.) Crab Feast consisted of more crabs than a frat house (yes, crab jokes were just as plentiful as the real thing)--the crabs were steamed in custom-made beer kegs that had the tops sawed off and ovens attached to the bottom (fucking cool). Pete thinks that from a strictly food consumption point of view, it is more work than reward to get at the actual crab meat, but if you look at it as a social event, i.e. sitting down for hours and banging a mallet and ripping things apart with your hands while eating and talking, then it's worth it. (Pete's one-liner of the day came after being told that the yellow stuff was shit, Pete said: "Pete don't eat shit, Pete talks shit.") There were also mussels, lobster, shrimp, scallops, ten different salads, fried chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, and a bake-sale variety of desserts. There was also The Deep-Fried Turkey, and the fries cooked in the deep-fried turkey oil. Pete is at a loss as to why you would cook turkey any other way--or make fries in non-meat-soaked oil. It takes less than an hour to deep fry a turkey and the skin is crisp and the turkey comes out super juicy; one of the best turkeys Pete's ever had. Oh, and there was this thing called beer, lots of that thing. Not to mention many other potables like sangria and cocktails and even things for the recovering alcoholics, of whom there were plenty. Pete will update with actual photos from the event if he ever finds the time to download photos.
Pete lunched on an old school grilled cheese with tomatoes and onions, and a bowl of gazpacho at the Blind Tiger on Bleecker Street with the West Coast chapter of his fan club--Solo Basura and Fernando Valenzuela--plus Spaceman and Piper Steampunk the Third. Spaceman, Solo, and Piper got the roasted bacon, Granny Smith apple, red onion, and cheddar melt and Fernando got the always delicious bahn mi. In terms of bars that serve food, as opposed to restaurants that have beer, the Tiger is one of NYC's best and their beer selection is vast and outstanding. So, Pete, in honor of Saturday's Red Hook Pub Crawl that will begin at Six Point's brewery, exploded two Six Point Brownestone Ales into his face. The highlight of lunch--outside of catching up with good friends and cracking a funny or three--was that Solo coined the catch phrase for the back of the coming-soon LaCock tees: I likes me some LaCock... Because, really, who doesn't like a little--or even a lot--LaCock from time to time. And just because there is a lot of LaCock to go around, Pete would like to share the location of the single greatest outdoor beer garden in NYC: The Manhattan Bridge. Pete's preferred pick-up spot is Juan's Bodega on Forsyth and Rivington where for $2.50 you can get two 16-ounce PBR cans.
Pete attended the Good Beer festival at BAM. Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar with Troegs Pale Ale; Co. pizzas (check out their pizza truck; Pete cringes with envy) with Southhampton Publicks; Schnitzels & Things weiner schnitzel with cucumber and potato salad with Brooklyn Homebrew's Wheat Ale; Beer Table's pickled eggs with sea salt and jalapeno powder with Bayerischer Banhoff Leipziger Gose; Snaps! ginger snaps with Brooklyn Brewery's Cuvee de Cardoz; Gramercy Taverns pigs in a blanket with their own porter homebrew; Widow's Hole and Pipes Coves oysters with Left Hand Milk Stout; Jomart chocolates; Dallis coffee; Bent Spoons My Dark Philosophy ice cream (incredible); Basis Farm to Chef's mini meatball subs with Smuttynose IPA; Bruschetta with goat cheese and fava bean spread with Allagash White; No. 7's beer-poached shrimp with tomato, shallot, and crispy farro with Sly Fox Saison Vos; Ici's cornbread with summer squash and Vermont cheddar with Kelso St. Gowanus; Porchetta's pork sandwich with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Missed a few but the stomach was too full of good food and beer to care. The overflowing beer led to one of the most brutal versions of karaoke in the history of mankind at Frank's Cocktail Lounge on Fulton Street in Fort Greene afterwards. The next morning, Pete regaled his co-workers with his tales of too much too much.
Whenever Pete hears the word "liege" he can't help but think about the three-week span when he made up for semester-long slackness by watching 25 BBC productions of Shakespeare in the college library. Shakespeare was a big fan of the word; it means "a feudal servant." Liege is also the town in Belgium where the liege wafel was born; and since Pete missed Shakespeare's birthday this year and since the Wafels & Dinges truck was parked around the corner on Hudson and Houston, he decided to pop over to celebrate Will's awesomeness with a liege for lunch. The liege is supposed to be softer and chewier than normal waffles but it was actually the opposite (hard and crispy)--and after paying $6 for a waffle with bananas and strawberries, Pete expects (nay, demands) more. The news, my lieges, is that the liege is not worth it. The walk up to Cafe Grumpy on 20th and 8th afterwards was though: Pete's iced Guatemalan was "...rich but approachable...with hints of chocolate...invoking the playfulness of a balloon." Pete made up one of those descriptions. Free coffee to the first person to guess which one.
Oaxaca (pronounced like Fozzie Bear's laugh) is a recently opened taco/torta/tamale joint on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens; it's also a region of Mexico that's famous for its cuisine, especially its cheese and moles--thus the region's nickname: Land of the Seven Moles. For third lunch, Pete ordered three tacos--carne asada, carnitas, and pescado--plus rice and beans for $9.95, plus a fresh-squeezed lemonade which made Pete make a face like a baby sucking on a lemon, shit was tart. The tacos come topped--but not overstuffed--with cilantro, onions, tomatoes, green sauce, pickled red onions, and queso fresco. Pete's fave was the pescado; the fish (mahi-mahi?) was chilled--not fried--and very refreshing. And well Oaxaca didn't make Pete forgot about the squash blossom huarache at Speedy's in Sunset Park, it is a nice addition to the cheaper side of eating in the hood. Pete began his meal with a Matcha Green Tea ice cream from Blue Marble Ice Cream; it was very tasty and the color was beautiful but it will not be moving on in SYTYCIC? After dinner, Pete went to the old-school pizza joint/Italian restaurant Francesco's that is just down the street from Lucali on Henry Street in Carroll Gardens; he ordered a banana but got a vanilla. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing to go out of your way for either. Could serve as a snack to tide you over while you wait the two hours to get seated at Lucali though.
Whilst Pete is not ready to commit himself to going vegetarian for the rest of the summer like Spaceman, he has been trying to enjoy the summer bounty of fruits and vegetables currently in bloom at the greenmarkets; and he has been eating decidedly less meat--and very little since the short rib hash at brunch at Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens on Sunday (see salad number 5 for the one exception). And thanks to the Minimalist's latest article, Pete sees no end in sight to this trend. Last third lunch, Pete prepared five of the 101 salads (numbers 1, 3, 27. 39, and 78 (the hot dog salad!), pickled some cucumbers, made sweet tea with lemon, and threw together a sundae with chocolate ice cream from Blue Marble, homemade whipped cream, walnuts, and shavings from Chocolate Bar's Blade Bar. After the five-salad-fest, Pete went back for more today. At lunch, Pete had almond butter and raspberry jam on raisin bread; a peach and blueberry--and a touch of balsamic vinaigrette dressing--fruit cocktail; and a salad. The arugula (almost nutty tasting), Jersey tomatoes (the best thing from Jersey besides Rutz Hut regulator hot dog), Middle Eastern cucumbers (like Miller Lite: less bitter, crunchy taste), and sweet broccoli (uh, sweet) were so fresh and full of flavor that no dressing was required; Pete added just a little pepper. This would make Pete's grandfather--who used to make Pete get up at six in the morning and drive all over eastern Long Island hitting different fruit and vegetable stands to get the best (fill in the blank)--proud. Pete's grandfather also imbued him with a love for all things ice cream; Pete however did not love Jacques Torres Signature Chocolate Chocolate Chip--it shan't be moving on.
In these tough economic times, Pete--like everybody else--is looking for ways to save money, including bringing his lunch to work. But there is only so much pasta, almond butter, and salad you can eat. Eventually you want something tasty--like Korean BBQ--thus, Pete dined at Air Yakiniku today. He put on his apron and enjoyed succulent slices of pork and beef while expertly air chopsticking like this guy plays the air guitar.
"Happiness is a hound dog lying in the sun. But we were not put on earth to be happy. We were put on earth to experience interesting things." Pete thinks that Coleridge was a little too quick to discount happiness; for can't doing interesting things bring about happiness? Pete went to see the installations/art works "Untitled Corner" at One Manhattan Penn Plaza and "A Clearing in the Streets" at Collect Pond Park recently; they were interesting (sort of), but they didn't make Pete happy. Hmm... Afterwards, Pete set off to try a dumpling house he had spotted on one of his evening constitutionals in the city. Pete finds it interesting to explore neighborhoods--especially ethnic ones like Sunset Park, Chinatown, Jackson Heights, etc.--and randomly choose a place to eat; it makes Pete happy when they are actually good/interesting. Pete found happiness at Chinese Food--bonus points for having a great name, too--on Henry between Market and Catherine. The five-for-a-dollar pork and chive fried dumplings were crisp on the bottom and soft on top, and they were not too doughy; the dollar-fifty sesame beef pancake was exactly what the menu said it was--beef on a sesame pancake--it had none of the usual toppings (carrots, cucumbers, cilantro) that other dumpling houses use, and it was not all that great until Pete added some of the homemade kimchee (super spicy cabbage with apple slices) that sits in a big glass jar on the counter and that the woman scoops you up a deli-hamburger-styrofoam-container-to-go's worth of for a dollar. Pete highly recommends the pancake O-Pete-chee style. Pete ate on a bench on the East River beneath and between the two bridges and watched New York buzz by--by boat, plane, car, helicopter, bike, scooter, unicycle, pogo stick, etc.--and ruminated on the Chinese Proverb: The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water; but to walk on earth. Inspired, Pete walked over the Williamsburg Bridge to the General Greene in Fort Greene for an existential balm--ice cream--the Brulot Chip was a flavorful, bitter combination of coffee, orange, and, Pete thinks, cardamom. I'm happy to say it is moving on to the next round.
Even though Pete's real name is Pierre, he did not participate in any Bastille Day festivities for lunch--Pete did have seasonal fruits and vegetables (which is sort of French) and an almond butter and raspberry jam sandwich (which is not French at all)--because: (A) The Bastille doesn't exist; where it stood now stands a slightly generic French cafe. (B) The great siege resulted in the grand total of seven petty criminals being freed--more prisoners escaped on that TV show Prison Break. (C) The real, little known reason the storming started in the first place is that a distraught French peasant thought one of the Bastille's guards was fucking his wife so he charged toward the prison screaming "C'est tout fini!" The crowd thought he was referring to Louis XVI's reign and followed after him. (For real.) (D) Steak with Paris sauce and pomme frites (Pete's desired Bastille Day meal) is expensive and Pete is more pauper than prince. So unless Pete can find a cuckolded peasant to storm into a steakhouse with, Pete will not be participating this year. Pete did have a Kumquat Johnnie Walker Black Label gelato from Cones in the West Village; it was really flavorful and the scotch was not overpowering, however, it will not be moving on to the next round. Just doesn't compare to the Peanut Butter Banana from Blue Marble--which brought Pete back for another scoop the next day. (FYI: The picture is from the scene where Rick's mom prepares the French meal in Better Off Dead. Notice the Perrier, French dressing, and French's mustard.)
Of all the first-generation, under-$5 bahn mi, Banh Mi So. 1 on Broome Street between Mott and Elizabeth in Little Italy is Pete's fave; the pork is always cooked properly and has none of the mystery meat feel that some of the other hole-in-the-wall shops have, the vegetables (cucumbers, carrots) and spices (cilantro) are always fresh, and the peppers are not overpowering, a little mild if anything. However, Pete's one complaint is that sometimes the bread is a little on the stale side; it cuts up your mouth like Cap'N Crunch. Speaking of complaints, if Pete was the father of one the children playing in the park on Spring and Mulberry where Pete had his lunch, he would have quite a few since the camp counselor was on some weird power trip. Is it really necessary to make eight-year-olds stand at attention for over ten minutes while barking at them that, "I'm going to find out which ones of you have not paid for this trip. It might not be today; but don't think you will get away with it. I will track you down to the edge of the Earth if I have to." One of the young girls actually passed out while Chairman Mao walked the lines of nervous children. On the opposite side of the dickhead spectrum is the nice boss who makes a Chocolate Graham Cracker Torte with Whipped Cream for the office; and the guys from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, who couldn't be nicer (or gayer for that matter)--alas, their choinkwich (a chocolate bacon cartwheel) is not moving on to the next round of SYTYCIC?
Pete was going to talk about how it's sunny and 75 and it feels so good to be alive; Pete was going to mention that even though he split a half bacon, half pepperoni pie with Ms. B at Totonno's in Kip's Bay last night, that he still went to the corner of Bleecker and 7th Avenue to one of his favorite slice places, Bleecker Street Pizza, for two nonna slices for lunch; Pete was then going to congratulate the panna cotta from L'Arte del Gelato on Barrow Street for narrowly defeating moccachino, caffe, strawberry, lemon, and pineapple, and for moving on to the next round of So You Think You Can Ice Cream?; Pete was going to riff on his theory of the evolution of high school boys of a certain ilk like he did at lunch, how they first think they are Holden Caulfield (Nobody gets me!), then Jim Morrison (I'm deep; I'm dark.), and lastly Jack Kerouac (I'm going live to experience.) (Some of Pete's exes may wonder aloud if Pete has ever left high school but...); Pete was going to mention how much he likes the coffee at Irving Farm on 13th and 7th; Pete was going to mention getting a never-going-to-happen-ever lunch invite from the Village Voice's food columnist Robert Sietsema; but, then, some dude fucking barked in Pete's ear--loudly and longly. The setting: Pete's walking past two attractive women in sundresses (see LaCock's 9 for Pete's feelings about these) and the dude walking behind him started barking at them. Okay, Pete will buy panna cotta gelato for anyone who will offer up a reaction. Is Pete going about the whole dating ritual the wrong way? Is it more of a mating ritual?
Pete wildcatted a pretty simple Thai-ish dish for lunch: chicken, asparagus, and artichoke hearts in a red sauce with green chilies served over penne pasta. The only thing worth noting was the heat emanating from the chicken; Pete marinated it in Sambal Oelek, crushed red pepper, and paprika--it was so spicy Pete had to put on Burt's Bee's afterwards to soothe the burn. Pete knows that asparagus and artichokes are not in season but he did have a salad that was made with greenmarket produce: red-leaf lettuce (with the holiday season almost here, keep in mind that Pete needs a salad spinner to keep at work; he's tired of eating dirt), porno-sized cucumbers, Jersey tomatoes, and broccoli, plus peaches and blueberries to snack on throughout the day. Pete hopes that buys him some locavore credits, which are like carbon credits, only tastier. In continuing with the themes of spicy and local, Pete walked around the corner to the three-day-old, street-curb ice-cream stand at Jacque Torres Chocolate on Hudson and King to try out the Wicked, which is chocolate ice cream laced with smoked chipotle and sweet ancho peppers. The ice cream is smooth and creamy and flavorful--obviously the chocolate is good but it's the spiciness of the peppers that wake up your tongue and tickle your throat that have earned Wicked a trip to the second round of So You Think You Can Ice Cream? Where it is joined by Salted Pretzel Caramel from General Greene and the Peanut Butter Banana from Blue Marble.
Patriot's Day passed, Pete picnicked on a pupusa platter--pork and cheese, zucchini and cheese, plus pickled jalapenos, purple cabbage salad, plaintains, and Salvadoran cream the color of puffy clouds--from the Red Hook Ballfield vendor posted at the Brooklyn Flea beneath the Brooklyn Bridge (where, incidentally, Pete saw lots of little people popping up all over the place one day previous). Pete's picnic-partner (PP) popped over one booth for a precious, pricey ($13) lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. Pete and PP passed their picnic in a puny, pristine park near the River Cafe; then, perused the flea market--no purchases for Pete; PP got a pretty pendant. Post-perusal, Pete proposed: "Perhaps an ice cream from Blue Marble?" PP proclaimed, "Proper, yes, please." Pete's cookies and cream--with Newman's-O's--was a pleasant postcript to a pretty day.
With Joey Chestnut and Kobayashi force feeding themselves cabbage and Pollio string cheese to prepare their stomachs for the next day's hot-dog eating contest at Coney, Pete was forced to enlist the Triple-A squad--Stretch, D-Nice, and Mackey--for an excursion to visit the real master of competitive eating, Domenico De Marco. Many restaurants are overrated and/or overhyped--i.e., Corner Bistro,Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Magnolia Bakery, Grimaldi's, etc.--however, despite the overwhelming hype and accolades and hype, DiFara Pizzeria (which Pete once heard name-checked while visiting Victoria Island in British Columbia) on Avenue J in Midwood is definitely not overrated. It is also definitely not efficient and not easy to find a seat to eat at--Pete and the Triple-As waited an hour and a half for their pie and were forced to eat standing up in the rain while using the take-away window as their table. But it was worth it. The square pie is prepared in a slightly different manner than the normal not-so-round ones. The sauce is made with simmered pancetta or prosciutto for one. Dom also bakes the dough with only a layer of sauce on top of it for five or so minutes, then takes out the dough; once it cools, he adds olive oil to the bottom of the pan--which results in the bottom of the pie being super light and yet crispy--and adds the first two cheeses. He then re-sauces and tops the entire thing with an entire thing of bufalo mozzarella. He then puts it back in the oven; upon removal, it gets the same treatment as the not-so-round pies: fresh basil and parmesan. The result is magical; and, even if it wasn't, most folks are so fucking hungry by this point that cabbage and Pollio string cheese would seem like an appealing option.
Pete lost his one true Sweetheart when she wouldn't walk home with him one hot summery day; last Pete heard, she was looking after a small grocery in his old Ditmas Park nabe. Pete only mentions that because if you are not careful, you will walk right past Sweet Heart Coffee Bakery on 8th Avenue just south of 14th Street since it has no sign and it's in that confusing section of Greenwich Village where 4th Street and 13th Street intersect--Pete once wrote a song about this phenomenon in a larger ode to his bad-direction giving. The easiest way to locate it is to get yourself some strapless heels at Shoegasm, and then walk one store in a southerly direction. And you don't want to walk past it because they have the self-proclaimed best empanadas in New York City. Pete is not an expert on such matters--but doubts most of these claims as a general rule--but they are damn good, definitely better than any he can remember having. Pete recommends the Argentinean beef, the cod fish, and the pumpkin with goat cheese. They also have daily specials--today's was pepperoni and mozzarella--as well a combo deal of an empanada and a banana shake (the super thin, slightly watery kind) for four bucks; plus, they have really good pastries--pan au chocolate and big-ass cookies.
It's that part of the summer when you can "Visualize a magical time where everything is freshly made, where lettuce leaves are crisp and green and tomatoes are red and from the vine..." That's right, it's Hoagie Fest! Alas, there isn't a Wawa in NYC so Pete will have to wait until his trip to Philly for the Fourth to see the Hoagieman in the blue balloon. Pete had to satisfy himself with a Farmer's Market Fest instead. A red leaf lettuce salad with carrots and a big juicy Jersey tomato; a cup of freshly picked blueberries in Ronnybrook yogurt; and a mushroom, mozzarella, and plum tomato stromboli from Baker's Bounty. Pete would have enjoyed a bagel ice for dessert, but apparently these New York-style bagels can only be found at Bagel & Bagel in Japan.
With apologies to Ernest Hemingway... This is a clean and pleasant cafe. It is well located. The light is very good and also, now, there are the shadows of Notre Dame. Pete took a long stroll along the Seine perusing the bouquinistes (book stalls) and dreaming of living on one of the peniches (houseboats) that are docked all along the river; he then had lunch at a river-boat restaurant in the shadow of Notre Dame. He ordered a steak with Cafe de Paris sauce--a super rich, creamy butter-based sauce--and pomme frites; after the food and a couple of glasses of red wine, Pete had two cafe allonge--like espresso but more water is poured through during the brewing process--and a strawberry torte. Life was good. It would have been better if Pete had been able to stumble home to his imaginary peniche and take a nap with his imaginary belle ame.
Pete was ready for the pastries in Paris--which he'll get around to at some point--but he was surprised by all the ice cream everywhere. Parisians are mad for it, but then again, who doesn't love ice cream? (Check out the grave photo.) And is it any surprise that French glaciers make some of the best in the world. Pete's two faves were Maison Berthillon (sounds a little classier than Baskin Robbins, right?) and Gelati d'Alberto. Berthhillon is on the Ile Saint-Louis, one of two natural islands that sit right in the middle of the Seine in the middle of Paris. Berthillion is considered by many--like this guy who wrote the Perfect Scoop--to make the greatest ice cream in the world; Pete tried three flavors: licorice, ginger bread, and salted butter caramel. The salted butter caramel was pretty amazing, the best Pete has had. The ginger bread had big chunks of ginger bread in it and the licorice tasted like licorice. The best in the world is big words though. It is a quest Pete would gladly go on though. Gelati d' Alberto in the lovely Rue Mouffetard section of town--where you can find lots of really good street food like potatoes cooked in rotisserie chicken drippings, panini, falafel, as well as cheese and wine shops, boulangeries, etc.--is not world famous but they do sculpt their ice cream into flower shapes. Pete had coffee and chocolate bacio on a sugar cone, it was delicious and beautiful despite its unappetizing color.
Pete and his favorite fake nieces, Ilo and Fenn, spent the afternoon at the Bois de Vincennes, which is the second biggest park in Paris and lies on the eastern outskirts of the city. After rowing around the lake, walking through the woods, and watching--but not understanding--a game of petanque, Pete and the girls decided to lunch on Nutella crepes from a stand in the park. Dirty Johnny the Crepe Man--who looked like he had slept in the park the night before--threw the batter down on the steaming grill and whipped them up right in front of Pete and the kids. They were delicious, Nutella is sorely underserved in the States. But a word of advice: Don't even think about asking Dirty Johnny for an extra slather of Nutella. Because he'll tell you, "You have received the proscribed amount of Nutella--not more, not less."
Pete lunched in the Marais district--marais means "the marsh" (the area used to be a swampland); marais rhymes with gay (and it's fittingly the gay section of Paris); it used to be the center of Jewish life, and while some of that remains (a synagogue for example) it is mostly occupied by expensive, trendy boutiques and clothing shops--at the famous Jewish eatery Chez Marianne. Pete and friends ordered 16 items from the assiette menu--including a delicious artichoke, fennel, and orange salad, pickel (a shockingly red-hued pastrami that is delicious nonetheless), foie gras, hummus, aubergine, green (spicy) and red (sweet) peppers, and kefta (seasoned balls of beef)--and washed it down with some red wine. In part one of this post, you'll notice a white figure over the handsome bearded gentleman's left shoulder; you'll also notice a black figure with a red balloon on the wall of the cafe. These are two pieces of street art that can be found all over the city. There's even a graphic novel--the French are mad for graphic novels--about these pigeons that fly around and have existential (oh, the French can't help it, give them a break) conversations in front of the most famous pieces of street art in Paris, which also include tiles in the shape of Space Invaders-like creatures, a big smiling bird, and black-and-white headshots of famous actors like Cary Grant and Sophie Loren.