New York

NathansHotDog.jpg My dad was a two job guy.  We lived in a representative, working class neighborhood in Brooklyn, which was to me, the paradise of the world.  Representative I learned years later meant not just Jewish people, like us, but an equal mix of almost everything else.  The working class is obvious.

My dad worked at a brokerage house on Wall Street as a runner from 9 to 3.  That was his first job.  His second job was at the Morgan Annex branch of the US Post Office, in mid-town Manhattan.  He had started at the PO as a teen-ager, and was in it for the longest possible haul, a modest pension being the carrot at the end of his rainbow.  His hours on that job were 4 pm to mid-night.  He rode the subway to work.  He never owned a car.  Once in a long while he got driven home. 

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kyotofudessertOK fine. I'll admit it. I'm the person who studies the menu online before going out to eat. I devour every edible word and let the taste bud anticipation work its magic.

The moment I knew I would be meeting up with a friend at Kyotofu, a Japanese dessert bar in NYC, I quickly jumped over to their site to take a peek at their online menu of tea infused sweets. Within seconds the matcha green tea crème brûlée had my heart skipping a beat.

Although when the plate met the table, the ginger/pear sorbet seemed to steal the show. Let me just say that they were a harmonious pair. As I broke through the delicate, caramelized top layer, a vibrantly bright green mini pot of matcha creme stood before me.

The richness of the matcha creamy treat was balanced by the airy, refreshing bites of ginger, pear. Matcha crème brûlée was a down comforter on a chilly winter night, while the ginger/pear sorbet was linen on a summer afternoon.

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m.-wells-dinette-300x225That’s a loaded statement so let me describe the dish before we go any further. It’s a pot of clam chowder — with a light cream base — with succulent, dinner-sized hunks of pork, rosy-pink and tender as a clam, floating in the broth. You spear the pork onto your plate with a fork and then ladle up the soup from the bottom of the pot where the spiced and diced potatoes, clams and vegetables are lurking. Oh baby, oh baby.

This all took place at MoMA P.S.1 in Queens where we caught an early dinner at the M. Well’s Dinette, which serves as the museum’s commissary. It’s not easy to catch dinner there because the Dinette is not open for dinner, but I guess we qualified as a very late lunch.

Whatever.

The M. Well’s Dinette is the second incarnation of this concept from Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis, who are partners in life and business. Hugue came to New York via Montreal’s Au Pied De Cochon and first opened M. Wells, where he dazzled and shocked New Yorkers with his fun, fat and filling take on the eating experience.

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balthazar1v.jpgI have always wanted to eat at Balthazar. After many years of fruitlessly trying to go to Balthazar, I finally succeeded. Maybe it was the way the restaurant teased me over these past few years that I had become thoroughly intrigued: The restaurant’s Parisian frontage and the crowds of diners seen through the windows beckoned me. Maybe it was the promise of la vie Bohème. From afar Balthazar has that je-ne-sais-quoi look, but from up close it seems just a bit faux and overdone. I think the restaurant tries too hard to look authentic with its crackled mirrors, dark paneling, and dim light fixtures.

To make sure I got in this time, I made reservations almost three weeks in advance, but I still could not get the specific time I wanted. Still the eventual time was suitable enough for a stress-relieving Friday night out this past week with my friend Amanda of the Undomestic Goddess. When we arrived, one of the many hostesses confirmed that indeed the reservation was made, but then told us to wait for the maître d’ to direct us to our seats. A little confusion followed in which we were stormed by a large group coming from the bar area and then another group entering. We almost didn’t get served—a somewhat sordid start to an evening meant for relaxing.

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gothamwestI’m obsessed. There’s no way of getting around it. I’m a walking Jackie Mason routine. At lunch, no before lunch, I’m deciding where we will go for dinner. At dinner, I’m wondering if the dessert menu will speak to me or will I just head home to my private stash. I always have a private stash of freshly baked goods. I’m more of a junkie when it comes to food.

I’m going to focus on just visiting New York here because Los Angeles, where I live, is different, and a few nights a week I try to cook. I’m not a very good cook and I’m so lazy that sometimes I pick up one sweet potato, not two, and a salad from the salad bar and call it dinner. My husband will remind me we can afford two sweet potatoes, but I shop at Gelson’s, so maybe we really can’t afford two.

Back to New York, where there is a huge difference in my energy level. All my friends comment on it. From the second I arrive, I’m off and running. First day, my husband had done some research. He suggested we walk to 11th avenue -- Hells Kitchen, where there is now a food marketplace called Gotham West Market. It’s similar to Eataly or the Ferry Building in San Francisco, though on a much smaller scale.

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