Saturday, July 28, 2007


A very, very long time ago a charming boy attempted to take me to Serendipity around Christmas. The three hour wait foiled that plan and we ended up at Patsy's across the street. It took another two years and better planning, but I finally went this past Christmas with my parents. The decor at Christmas is worth the wait, but on a normal day it isn't quite as pretty and I'm not so sure. It won't look anything like the movie at least, and, let's face it that is probably what you are expecting.

Today's trip was the first time I tried the food and while it was decent, I suggest that you simply do dessert. The Haight-Ashbury sandwich and the Catcher in the Rye BLT and fries were perfectly decent, but the portions were small for their price ($13.50) and fries were a la carte ($3.50). That is what you get for going to a "tourist trap." One that Tyra Banks frequents, but nonetheless a place for tourists.

The dessert options make the wait worth it, at least once, though. The Frrrozen Hot Chocolate ($8.50) with real, not sweet, whipped cream is delicious. It actually tastes like chocolate; you can almost imagine falling into love movie-style over it. I can't decide if it tastes better when eaten with a spoon or with the straw. I suppose that is why they give you both. While there with my family we ordered the Strawberry Fields Sundae ($13.50) and it was delish as well. Both desserts were generous enough to share, so remember to do so.

Location: 225 East 60th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30a-12:00a; Fri 11:30a-1:00a; Sat 11:30a-2:00a (be prepared to wait ~2.5-3 hours regardless of when you go; if you are lucky you can call for limited reservations during certain times of the year)
Cost: $$

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My Most Favorite Food

After seeing Deuce, we needed a place close to Times Square for coffee and dessert. Wandering led us down 45th Street where I suggested we try My Most Favorite Food. I saw it while temping in the area and found the name and desserts in the window tempting at the time.

Laura and her Mom ordered decaffeinated tea, which took two discussions to arrive. For some reason decaf meant black tea? Yeah, right. Anyway, I ordered a cupcake, of course, Gary ordered the carrot cake, and Laura ordered the cherry cheesecake. Their cakes trumped my cupcake - both were moist and not overly sweet. My cupcake had a whipped frosting that looked lovely, but didn't have much flavor and the cake was slightly dry. After eating it, I realized it probably came from the Cupcake Cafe. I should have known because of the decorative flower on top.

All was well UNTIL we asked the waiter to take a picture of the four of us. He was seriously not capable. The camera was held at an angle that captured two of four people... This was funny. Then we had to chase someone down to get our check. As if we aren't anxious to go by the time it arrived, the waiter basically urged us to leave faster. Based on the service, I do not plan to go back and sample the regular food, which is a shame as I'm a sucker for packaging and this place certainly had that.

Location: 120 West 45th Street (between Broadway & Sixth Avenue)
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8:30a-10:00p; Fri 8:30a-3:00p; Sat 9:00a-1:00p; 11:30a-10:30p
Cost: $$


Tonight I had the pleasure of joining most of Laura's family for an outing. Our starting point was dinner at 'inoteca on the Lower East Side. I knew the evening was off to a good start when walking directly from the 6 train stop took a lot less time than expected. Unfortunately, the slow bringing of the check after a mixed-up order plus traffic caused us to sprint to the theater later. There was bound to be some rushing though...this is New York.

That isn't to say that the service was all bad at 'inoteca. When I arrived the sommelier had already set-up our table with wine. According to the B's he was quite knowledgeable and had great taste. I'm not even going to claim to understand wine, so I'll just add that I enjoyed what was presented to me. The next challenge was interpreting the menu, which is basically in Italian. The staff was helpful here too as they didn't mind explaining everything more than once.

I started with a beet salad with orange, mint, and hazelnuts ($8) so good that I hardly wanted to share. It was worth it to taste Laura's salad with baby strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and greens and Gary's salad. Laura and I had paninis for dinner. While good the roasted vegetable and ricotta fresca panini ($9) did not live up to the inventive, flavorful salad. Laura's prosciutto, pesto, and tomato panini ($9) fared better, but still didn't excite me as much as our introductory food. That said, 'inoteca is definitely worth a try. Just be aware that when you eat beets, they will affect you for a few days afterward...

Location: 98 Rivington Street @ Ludlow Street
Hours: Mon-Sun 12:00p-3:00a, Brunch Sat-Sun 10a-4p
Cost: $$

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Black Bean (Pasta) Salad

After discovering that Sunday's Green Market on my street doesn't really close at 5:00 pm, I was stumped about what to eat this week without going broke. I spontaneously came up with the salad below; however, it might not be spontaneous as it is entirely like that I stole the mixture of ingredients from one of the numerous recipes I have read. Either way, I thought it went well and have recorded it below for posterity.

Black Bean Salad

One 15 ounce can of Black Beans
1/2 small white onion
1 bunch Italian flat parsley
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
1 large cucumber
1 block of organic feta cheese
2 cups of Gemelli Pasta
1 large bowl with a lid

1. Put the 2 cups of pasta on to boil following the boxes instructions.
2. Open the black beans and put them in a colander. Rinse and drain them.
3. Cut the onion, 5 of the sun dried tomatoes, and the cucumber into cubes (or whatever you want - I'm way to anal and thus a very slow cook). Place the chopped ingredients in the bowl.
4. Add a little bit of olive oil from the jar of tomatoes to the mix.
5. Add the black beans and stir everything.
6. Drain the pasta and rinse with cool water. Add it to the mix.
7. Cut 1/4 of the cheese block into cubes and toss into the salad.
8. Enjoy.

In retrospect, I would add the feta cheese as desired whenever you plan to eat the salad. It loses it's flavor if you let it sit overnight. I just added more cheese when I ate it on subsequent nights.

Obviously, you can omit the pasta. I just enjoy it and can "afford" to eat it since my parents suggested I force feed myself a little. They feel I'm too thin; Vika just says I'm NY thin. It's all a matter of opinion.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Luna Park

As with most outdoor venues, Luna Park's distinguishing factor is its location: outside. Being located in Union Square is also very convenient. Luna Park also has other pluses: the staff is friendly and offers prompt service. Best of all, you can talk without yelling. It was the perfect spot to meet up with Britt and his friends to catch up on life while drinking a little. Thank goodness they got there early though or we would have been without a table.

The crowd is attractive and dressier than typical for the area, but still fairly casual. I suppose when you are seated in plastic chairs under umbrellas, it wouldn't make sense to wear your Sunday best. The biggest downside to Luna Park would have to be the bathrooms, which are public park bathrooms. If you were interested in stealing the roll of toilet paper, forget about it, it is Masterlocked into place.

: Union Square West (between 16th Street & 17th Street)
: Mon 12a-1a, 11:45a-12a; Tue-Wed 11:45a-12a; Thu-Sat 11:45a-1a; Sun 12p-12a and only during the summer!
Cost: $$ (not entirely sure as for once I didn't pay for my drinks, but numerous websites say this)


A few weeks ago I made the mistake of going to pinkberry. I wanted to know what the big deal was... I'm still not entirely sure, but I find myself craving it pretty much all the time.

It could be the fresh fruit toppings generously layered on the cool, slightly tangy yogurt. It could be the novelty of it. It could be that it doesn't leave that gross I had too much sugar (and liked it!) taste that other ice cream leaves. Whatever the reason, it needs to stop or my social, discretionary spending funds will be depleted from my private, pinkberry outings.

I recommend that you avoid trying it or you might end up like me, but if you must I would get the matcha green tea flavor with rice cakes or the original with a fruit of your choice (I'm partial to raspberries). Whatever you choose it'll be gone before you know it.

Location and Hours: For location and hours visit their website. I was visiting the one on 32nd Street, but now I know about a closer one at 82nd Street.
Cost: $$

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Dumpling House

This past weekend my parents came up to help me move into my new apartment on the Upper East Side. My dad seemed a little worried about all the expenses involved, so I went through my long, long list of places I wanted to try in New York for the inexpensive ones. Dumpling House fit the bill perfectly.

For $10.50, the three of us had more food than we could eat. We sampled the boiled pork and chive dumplings (10), sesame noodles, a small hot and sour soup, and two "sandwiches." Most disappointing was the Hot and Sour soup, which wasn't sour so much as slightly sweet and low tasting. The highlight of the meal were the "sandwiches" served on fresh, fried sesame buns stuffed with fresh veggies or a tuna salad involving peas, carrots, and cilantro. They were to die for. I actually tried replicating the tuna salad the next night for my lunch. It was passable, but if the Dumpling House was beside my workplace, I would never pack a lunch again!

One caveat, there isn't really seating beyond a few metal stools in the back. I suggest carrying your food over the few blocks and sitting in Sara Roosevelt park. My parents have warned me that this spot would be hard to beat on future trips and I have to agree. I think even Magnolia Bakery came up short afterward...

Location: 118 Eldridge Street (Between Broome Street and Grand Street)
Hours: Daily 7:30a-9:30p
Cost: $