Have you ever attended a Jewish rave? Are your thoughts crippling you? Have you ever had a gordita from the El Idolo taco truck that parks on Sixth Avenue near West 4th. Pete's responses: "No."; "On occasion.; "Yes." The "little fat one" is a thick cornbread tortilla that's cut lengthwise and stuffed with white cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a lot of fatty pieces of pork. Pete recommends drizzling some of their sweet/spicy red chili salsa--cuidado: the s'tang (sweet tang) will sneak up on you. It's a far cry from the version that they sell at the Bell; it's more like a little mini sandwich. (True story: Way back in the day, Pete and a certain person who shall rename nameless since she is now a well-respected food writer would do a weekly Sunday pilgrimage to the Bell; they ordered so much food that they would order an extra drink just so the Bell employees wouldn't think they were gluttons.) Pete also enjoyed the carnitas tacos, they're the double tortilla kind, and they're served with cilantro, chopped onion, and radishes on top, and a little lime wedge on the side. Pete shall return to the truck again, maybe one late night after attending a Jewish rave.
Like a hitman, the carnitas torta at Pinche got the job done. It's definitely not as pinche good as some of the places in Sunset Park like Speedy's and Rico's but what it lacks in pure taste pleasure, it makes up for in size. It's pinche enormous. It's like a loaf of Wonder Bread stuffed with pork, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa verde. Pete went into instant pinche food pinche coma so he headed across the street to Gimme for a coffee. Still not pinche satisfied and desiring something sweet, Pete thought it would be fun to contrast the torta's size with that of the really pinche mini cupcakes at Baked by Melissa; alas, the line was pinche at least 250 tortas thick--stretching all the pinche way to Broadway. Like a dancer, Pete thought quickly on his feet and made his way over to Grandaisy Bakery on Sullivan Street for a pain au chocolate. It was like a dancer dating a hitman, the croissant was graceful and light, but the chocolate was hard and dangerously good.
In an effort to save some dough, eat more vegetables (not less meat though), and just be a little healthier--especially with Speedo season coming up--Pete wildcatted, i.e. made up the recipe as he went along, a pasta dish at the LaCockcina. Pete made a sauce of tomatoes, artichoke hearts, broccoli, crushed red pepper, and paprika, that he served over whole wheat pasta. Pete had a spinach salad drizzled with olive oil on the side. Pete thinks if the dish was being served in a downward-spiraling Italian restaurant on the eastern end of Long Island, and Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares showed up, then Gordon would take one taste and say, "For fuck sake, man, you actually serve this shit to customers. It makes me want to fucking rip my fucking taste buds out--because I don't fucking need them for this fucking shit." Or if Pete served it to a girlfriend, she would say "I like it." but she wouldn't ask Pete to make it again. However, if your average working luncher scooped it up into plastic container and paid $4.99 a pound for it at the deli, then Pete thinks they would be pretty satisfied.
The chicken, beans, cheese, guacamole, rice, sour cream, and red chiles in the Super Chicken Burrito at Lupe's East L.A. Kitchen on Watts Street sprung a leak shortly after Pete's first bite. Pete's plate was quickly covered with an unnatural orange sheen of goo--not unlike the Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdezsmashed into the Bligh Reef twenty years ago today. Pete's hibiscus agua fresca was only slight more satisfying. Pete completely disagrees with those who say New York doesn't have good Mexican food--just go out to Sunset Park in Brooklyn and pick almost any taquiera--but if New York doesn't (have good any Mexican food), then maybe we should blame California. The meal was saved from being a total waste by Spaceman's son who covered his face with rice and declared himself "Rice beard."
Although the two most iconic carts in New York sell coffee and hot dogs, Pete never thought, "What if one sold hot dogs and coffee--genius!" However, apparently some Koreans did so with much success in their homeland so they decided to open up a New York Hot Dog & Coffee in New York of all places. NYHD&C have the standard fare--i.e. Mackey's chili and cheese dog--but they also do dogs with a Korean twist. Pete got the bulgogi (literally "fire meat") dog; it's a regular dog on top on a bed of lettuce and pickles that's topped with thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet sauce and served in a normal bun. (You can also add spicy kimchi.) It's the Korean version of the chili dog. It was pretty good, but it would be really good if the dog had more snap and the bulgogi was a little more flavorful. Pete thinks NYHD&C should focus on bit more on the quality of their namesake coffee and hot dogs and leave the Belgian waffles and flagels to someone else. It's sort of like Pete's teachers used to tell him: "Focus!"
and eavesdropping is America's pastime. Pete has been eating on the cheap lately, which for Pete means lots of dumplings, sesame pancakes, and bahn mi. So Pete didn't feel too bad about dropping some real yen on lunch with Bryan Neikro. They set out in search of the Akamaru Modern at Ippudo NY--the first U.S. branch of the super popular Japanese noodle restaurant that is also already super popular in NYC since it was packed at lunch and you can wait between two and three hours to sit at dinner--in the East Village. The super congenial staff greeted us with shouts of Japanese at every facet of the meal. (My best guess is that they said: "Hello, welcome, super!" "You just super ordered!" "Look, the tall white man is super slurping up his soup like an anteater." "Thanks, super come again.") The Akamaru Modern ramen--stewed slices of Berkshire pork, cabbage, scallions, and... then you grind sesame seeds over it (super cute contraptions (see pic)--in their pork-bone broth is their signature dish and it is only served in NYC; it might be the best ramen I have every had. And super bonus: if you eat your ramen up too quickly, you can get more thrown in for a measly two bucks, if there is the proper amount of soup left. And three dollars more gets you a side bowl of pork and rice and a small salad of fresh greens with a pineapple dressing(?). Pete and Bryan ate at a communal table with a bunch of lone diners who are all pretty much all caught up with what's going on in Pete and Bryan's lives. Kudos to them for not even pretending to not listen. Pete was thinking about saying something completely outlandish to get a ramen-spitting reaction, but he refrained. Next time. Finished up with a super nutty cup of tea, it almost tasted like chocolate.
It's sort of useless to talk about lunch when you attend the Phagwa or Holi festival (Anecdotal aside: Pete doesn't quite get the metaphysical meaning of dumping powder and shooting food coloring on each other but then again Pete completed his minor in philosophy in college with a thesis that instead of being a five-page syllogism on why Pete couldn't be sure he existed was a title and only a title: "Metaphysics is mental masturbation.") at the very end of the A line in Rich Hill, Queens, but... Pete and the superfriends ate Guyanese food--spicy roti, chicken patties, egg puffs, ruff (fried chicken and french fries), fried rice, milk candy, cassava balls, and pholourie--at Brown Betty on Liberty Avenue. Damn good every bit of it. Pete thinks photos and video explain this excursion better than he can.
Pete ate curbside on the corner of Front and Washington Street in DUMBO--how about some tables, yo? Pete got chicken pupusas from one of the Red Hook ballfield vendors that relocate to the Brooklyn Flea in the winter. Super tasty and filling and worth the trip; however, not to get all hipsterocrite but the scene is a bit too much of a scene for Pete. When the guidebook-led Europeans join forces with the skinny jean Billsy-burg crowd, it gets a little silly--but whatever. Pete and friends headed to Montero's at the very end of Atlantic Avenue for some refreshments afterwards; a woman was making chocolate easter bunny lollipops in the kitchen--Montero's often serves up spaghetti and meatballs free to all customers--and Playboy Playmates ones, too! Her nipples are cherries.
Pete ate yesterday's unordered lunch today. Pete was joined by some stranded English school boys--Ralph, Piggy, Jack, Simon, etc.--for some Pig's Blood Rice Noodle soup. Lame, obtuse references aside, pig's blood is rectangular-shaped, gelatinous, congealed pig's blood (oddly enough). It's fucking nasty--and bland, too. Tastes like liverwurst without the taste of liverwurst if that makes any fucking sense at all. Pete has nothing else to say about it. Pete wiped the taste out of his mouth with some PBRs at the Spring Lounge. Pete is about to encounter a serious case of the Latin term drinkus interruptus--which loosely translated means "the slow comedown from three beers followed by three hours of no beers."
Go south on Bowery and take a left at the statue of Confucius in Chatham Square--where seven streets meet, seriously, fucking count them if you don't believe Pete--and you'll be at Food Sing Corp 88 or Foo Shing Hand Fresh Noodle Soup Shop. Get yourself some hand-pulled noodles here. A word of advice though: if you want the beef stew and beef han hand-pulled noodle broths (a big bowl for $4.50), do NOT keep pointing to the Pig's Blood--yep, it's like a bouillon cube of the blood of the pig (but more on that later)--Rice Noodles because they don't speak gringo and "Is this good?" might as well mean "I would like one of those, too." Ate the beef, got the blood to go; then picked up some mini egg waffle cakes (15 for $1) from a cart on Bowery and an almond drink (10 ounces for $1.25) from Yuen Yuen Restaurant on Bayard. I don't really understand Chinatown economics--for instance, how the fuck does this place sell fresh-squeezed OJ for $2? And apropos of nothing, do Kriss Kross wear their Snuggies like robes?
Sau Voi Corp Sandwiches & Records on the corner of Lafayette and Walker at the edge of Chinatown is not for everyone--especially those with a fear of restaurants that improperly use pesticides, aren't vermin-proof, and have flying insects--but if you are looking for a 18 different varieties of bahn mi (butter bahn mi?), meatballs on a stick, a rainbow ice, Gelly fish salad, stickly rice w. black eye bean, Ovaltine, scratch-off tickets, used CDs, Asian porn DVDs, "Korean Karaoke, Vol. 7" on vinyl, etc., then you have come to the right spot. Pete and Mackey picked up two Bahn Mi Nem Nuong--big slices of tender BBQ pork--and took them to the Spring Lounge in SoHo to eat them with a couple of PBR drafts. Pete suggests you check out how bahn mi 4 and bahn mi 15 have been renumbered in pen on the menu. When Pete ordered two number fours, lunch lady said, "Number 15? Four is 15, 15 is 4 now." Pete will buy a four or fifteen--and one used CD (they currently have Prince's "1999" in stock--lunch for the first person with a sane explanation for this.
It's Tuesday, which means the special at M&O Market is fresh turkey, so that's where Pete and Spaceman went to pick up sandwiches. There must of been something in the blogosphere air today because the scanwich guys had lunch at M&O too. Spaceman gives a partial thumbs up to M&O's latest creation, BLT sauce. I don't know why it's called BLT sauce since it doesn't have the B, the L, or the T, but Spaceman said it added a refreshing wetness to his sandwich, though it was a little too herby.
Pete needed some comfort food since he was feeling a bit of the rainy-Monday melancholia so he slouched off to the area that Jacob Riis once called "a vast human pig-sty," which is sort of appropriate because Pete really enjoys the pork at Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street. For less than five bucks you can get ridiculously full on 10 pork dumplings, a sesame pancake, and a wonton soup. And once the weather warms up, you can dine al fresco in Columbus Park while enjoying the sounds of parakeets chirping from cages in trees, mahjong tiles being smacked on picnic tables by old ladies, and, if you are lucky, listen to the world's most in-shape homeless man sing into his blowout comb.
Pete met up with Smiler and family at their homebase in the recently nicknamed (by Smiler) DoFu (sounds like "tofu") section of Queens--aka, downtown Flushing--for some Chinese cuisine. We started out at Xi'an in the Golden Shopping Mall at 41-28 Main Street--it's down in the basement beneath a cellphone store--where we picked up some deliciously greasy lamb burgers (big chunks of lamb with cumin, hot peppers, and jalapenos), translucent potato noodles with chili peppers, and thick wheat noodles served with moist pieces of lamb and a super spicy sauce; then we headed off to the Flushing Mall food court--stopping to pick up some lamb skewers from a street-meat vendor on the way. We ordered some more food--pork dumplings, pork wonton soup, boiled eggs soaked in soy sauce, and taro and papaya milkshakes--and then began to feast. Everything was fantastic (well, the eggs were a little nasty)--Pete suggests reading this if you want to actually get learned about the food to be had out there. The highlight of the afternoon took place while we were eating. One of the more curious things about the Flushing Mall are the signs in the men's bathroom. One above the sinks says "Please do not vomit in the sink" and then there is one above the garbage can next to the sinks that says "Vomit here." Smiler reckons that "vomit" is a bad translation of "spit" and Pete most likely concurs but... as we were eating a little boy standing ten feet behind us missed both the sink and the vomit can so...
Pete met GG at the old-school Westside Coffee Shop (WSC) on Church just below Canal--aka, the epicenter of bootleg goods in Manhattan; nothing but Caribbean guys and Chinese ladies selling knock-off purses and watches out of Hefty bags, and Indian men pitching perfumes and colognes--for some Hispanic eating. WSC's cubano is slightly non-traditional; it's got big chunks of pulled pork, thin slices of ham, and melted swiss cheese, but it lacks the pickles and garlic mayo, and the bread is more like a pressed hero roll than the traditional Cuban bread which it's usually served on--it's still delicious though, and their fries are cooked in pork oil, making them super flavorful. The black beans and yellow rice, especially once a heavy dose of hot sauce is added, are also muy bien. Washed down la comida con the thinking Puerto Rican's drink of choice, Malta India--the taste was a bit too overpowering for Pete, he grew up on Waldbaum's generic root beer after all, but it reminded GG of malzbier--and the highlight of the meal: the morir sonando (translation: to die dreaming). It's a heavenly mix of orange juice, milk, and cane sugar, and it's served chilled--it's probably the most popular thing in the DR outside of the merengue and baseball. Pete thinks it tastes like a melted orange creamsicle or a less sweet version of Stewart's Orange 'n Cream. Hit La Colombe for coffee afterwards and then floated on back to the space station. LaCock's Lunch-O-Meter: A solid six inches.
Pete wanted a lunch as classic as soup and a sandwich, a burger and fries, or fish and chips, so headed to Carmine and Sixth for pizza and cream puffs from Joe's Pizza and Beard Papa. Joe's has been around--albeit in a different location originally--since around the time Pete uttered "Me, too." for the first of many times to come; however, their slices still maintain the four classical pizza elements: crispy crust (you hear a slight "crack" when you fold the slice); tomatoey tasting sauce (not sugary sweet); the right amount of cheese (like pornography, you know it when you taste it); good price ($2.50 for a regular slice). For dessert, Pete went next door to Beard Papa for super friendly service (Pete: "Thank you." Them: "Thank you." Pete: "Thank you." Them: "Thank you."), strong coffee, and this week's cream puff of the week: Cookie Crunch. It was basically the original vanilla cream puff with a coating of something resembling crushed up Cookie Crisp cereal. Pete finds it interesting that Beard Papa maintains such a big beard--well, other than the obvious fact that his name is Beard Papa--because if he is anything like Pete, whenever he eats a cream puff (and I imagine he eats a lot) he walks with custard smeared all over his beard the rest of the day. A solid six on the LaCock Lunch-O-Meter.
If anyone actually read Pete's blog, Pete would stop bravo-ing the sandwiches at Puffy's Tavern out of fear that it would become as hectic as Alidoro (see previous post and picture for further explanation). Readership being what it is, Pete has no qualms highly recommending the sandwiches and laid-back atmosphere. Pete had the Pavarotti--thinly sliced salami, smoked mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and sweet peppers on a cut-the-roof-of-your-mouth crusty stirato. It is a sandwich that the Maestro himself would be proud to eat three or four of in one sitting between meals--if he wasn't dead.
Pete met up with GG in Chinatown at the King of cheap-eat spots, Vanessa's Dumpling House, to fight the below-freezing temperatures with crispy, juicy pork and cabbage/chive dumplings (8), a fluffy sesame pancake with egg, tasty pork buns (3), and so-so miso soup. The best part: All of this costs about the same as one ride on the Cyclone; Pete, however, strongly cautions against doing one before the other. Next, Pete and GG headed down and around to the Egg Custard King Cafe on the corner of Grand and Forsyth. The plan was a doughnut and coffees, but GG's curiosity got the better of GG. (Note: Do not touch the food items unless you plan on purchasing them--even if they are wrapped in cellophane. Note II: The answer to "What's in that?" is "It's good." followed by one of the items being put on your tray.) One sesame ball (strangely tasty for something so slimy); one sugar doughnut filled with black bean paste (really good but not recommended by four out of five), one giant yellow sponge cake (would be the only dessert left standing after the apocalypse), two thick noodles wrapped around pork and green onions (bakery and cafe might be a more appropriate name), and two coffees later... we owed them... less than five dollars and we were steeled for the cold walk back to our respective underground fortresses. Pete doesn't think all the sweets are necessarily treats, but Pete loves saying, "Egg Custard King Cafe."
Neither rain nor snow... nor gloom... shall stay Pete from his appointed lunch rounds. The beauty of the snowy-white morning had already turned into the annoyance of the slushy-sidewalk afternoon--from pretty to shitty in Manhattan time--but Pete and Spaceman were craving a wintry mix of soup and tamales so they sloshed off to Rice on Elizabeth Street. Spaceman had the Mexican chicken soup--avocado, tomato, corn, rice, and cilantro--as well as the chicken mole and chicken tomatillo tamales; Pete had the tamales, too, but he opted out of the all-fowl lunch and instead had the caldo verde: a Portuguese spinach soup with potato and chorizo. The soup was good, especially after Pete doused it in hot sauce, and Pete's often disappointed in tamales--too dry, too much stringy mystery meat--but not this time. Rice's are moist, the meat doesn't taste like muppet, and they're served with a smooth, peppery sauce--the chicken mole tamale is Pete's clear favorite. Pete ended the meal with a cup of Jack's coffee and a chocolate cake donut from Balthazar Bakery. On the newly established LaCock Lunch-O-Meter, today's colorful meal gets seven and a half inches.
Verily I say unto you. There will be some standing in line here, which shall not taste of the deep-fried schnitzel or bread crumb-covered hot dogs stuffed into baguettes and sauced up, till they see it has the blessing of Rabbi Yisroel P. Gornish. (Matthew 16:28) Pete and Mackey Sasser trekked off to Midwood--meandering around multiple Flatbush neighborhoods on the pilgrammage--to experience the manna that is the schnitzel sandwich at Schnitzi on Coney Island Avenue. Pete did not waddle away disappointed either, the sinful gut-bomb goodness of the Schnitzi would make even Baby Jesus cry; Mackey found his Italian a bit too seasoned though. Pete even fashioned a bib out of a plastic bag so that the chimichurri sauce wouldn't drip all over his one remaining clean shirt. Schnitzi's is closed Fridays and on Holocaust Remembrance Day--which prompted Superstar and Pete to wonder out loud after walking up there one day last May: Now who's getting screwed? Also of note: As far as I can tell, the tip jar is merely a prop--maybe because the Torah forbids you from making your brother pay interest on victuals? (Deuteronomy 23: 20-21) Weary from his 13-mile exile, Pete picked up a chocolate croissant from Blue Sky Bakery and a cup of coffee from Blue Marble to celebrate his prodigal son-like return to Cobble Hill.
After another come-from-behind one-point win, Pete headed over to Toby's Public House to celebrate the football victory. Started with an endive salad that had caramel, almonds, pecorino cheese, and apples, and then split a polenta with gorgonzola and truffle oil topped with crimini, and the speck pizza. (In German, Cummerspeck means "bacon worry", i.e. overeating due to emotional stress.) The speck is thinkly sliced and there are hints of juniper to it, and it goes well the with mozzarella, mascarpone, and arugula. Toby's has a sort of fratty, sports bar feel but the food is excellent. Pete also took a bag of Bam's root beer beef jerky, which is surprisingly spicy, home with him. Pete has previously had the Dr. Pepper flavor as well--it tasted like Dr. Pepper! Bam himself was behind the bar serving Pete his Toby's Cheap Beer beers; Pete thinks that Bam could do for jerky what Iggy did for drugs--make you wonder why repeatedly doing something that is supposedly bad for you--eating beef jerky, mainlining heroin--gives you the physique of a Greek statue.