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.