New York

eisenberg-sand1-300x258.jpg“Have you ever been to Eisenberg’s?” This question from my daughter, Alison. “Shannon and I went after the gym the other day,” she says. “Best Reuben I’ve had in a long time. You should check it out.”

Yes, I should – for a couple of reasons: Eisenberg’s is an iconic New York sandwich shop and I – being a sandwich-oriented human – should indeed check it out; secondly, just hearing the word Reuben sets my taste buds atwitter – sweet/salty meat piled with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, slathered with Russian dressing on grilled bread – what’s not to like? Eisenberg’s motto, printed on their T-shirts and cards is, “Raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929”. No kidding.

Eisenberg’s, despite its name, is not a Jewish deli. There are no salamis hanging from the ceiling. And what self-respecting Jewish deli would offer – with pride – a Tuna Melt, which is the single worst excuse for a sandwich since the Earl invented the form back in the 18th Century. A Tuna Melt takes already fully cooked tuna and cooks it again under a grill until it’s rendered as tasteless and hard as cardboard. And then they put cheese on it. Cheese on fish is an abomination.

Read more ...

capizzi.jpgI’ve been in rehearsal this week for a reading we’re doing on Friday. It’s a fun piece called “Old Jews Telling Jokes” based on the website of the same name. All this is to say that this week I’m a working man, a nine-to-fiver, so bye-bye to my indolent life. No time now for shopping at Eataly after my caffé macchiato with the crossword puzzle; no time for noodling away at the stove in the afternoon, sautéing pretty vegetables for Jill’s dinner while hooked up to a Sangiovese drip. No. I’m a working man. Punch that clock.

But today I fell into one of those time warps that New York offers up when you have no particular place to go. I’m on my break; it’s drizzling; I have an hour to kill. Our rehearsal hall is on Eighth Avenue in the high Thirties – a bit of garment district, a bit of spillover from Forty-Second Street — tons of places to eat and not one of them calling me. I walk in the rain over to Ninth Avenue, which never lets me down. Ninth Avenue is a Baghdad bazaar — good, bad and everything in the middle. I love Ninth Avenue. I walk past this little place with a menu board out front. It’s called Capizzi, a little joint, sitting in the shadow of the Port Authority bus terminal. It’s essentially empty, some people at a table in the back – maybe it’s the staff having their lunch. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon – the rush was over. But there’s something; I walk by it three times; there’s something about this place.

Read more ...

indianfood.jpg I first fell in love with Indian food while working at a company in West Hollywood and my boss, who was a true asshole with excellent taste in food, always ordered lunches from Anarkali.  I would drive to pick up the large order for practically everyone in the office, and savored the few minutes I spent inside there while waiting for the food. Anarkali's low ceilings and uber-decorative booths offered a sweet escape from my days at work.  And they always gave me free beer, which I would give to the head of the company because I was still 18 and not quite ready to drink on the job. 

The array of foods on the table in the center of the office would bring everyone together and I slipped in and out of taste bud sensations.  I had never liked Indian food, until Anarkali. Then I started eating it all the time.  It worked perfectly for my family because now they didn't have to wait until I wasn't home for dinner before ordering Indian.  I still remember the styrofoam platters (a rare allowance for my mother) lined up across the kitchen counter as everyone served themselves buffet style.

Read more ...

ImageIt’s Sunday morning, and the last thing I want to hear is a discrete ringing sound, calling out from my computer, to alert me that I have mail. I ignore my computer, throw on my jeans, and catch the train into the city. The first and only thing on my mind, on this day, is an Upper West Side brunch that comes with a wonderful, delectable, cappuccino – I hope.

And it was the best Sunday morning cappuccino since Cafe della Pace nearly three months ago.

It was actually my first cappuccino in several weeks. After receiving a pay check the day before, I felt that it was ultimately time to treat myself. As I neared the restaurant, Cafe Lalo, I took note of several photos outside.

Each photo read “You’ve got mail” and had screen captures of the infamous romantic comedy which starred Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks nearly a decade ago.

Suddenly, the once annoying ring of “You’ve got Mail” had turned into a welcomed thought. “Oh. I will have a cappuccino where one of my favorite films was shot. At Cafe Lalo how lovely.”

Read more ...

danjiext1mike tucker glasses1I had an experience the other night that was right out of Larry David’s universe or Seinfeld’s. A classic. I’ll try to describe it for you.

It was around 9:45 and I was at Danji, the wonderful Korean fusion restaurant on West 52nd Street, waiting for Jill after her show. Our friends Florence and Richard Fabricant were seeing the show that night and we were all going to have dinner. I know that mentioning Florence Fabricant is name- dropping – I apologize — but her position as a famous food writer for the NY Times is part of the story.

So, I’m sitting at the bar, sipping a nice white with a Japanese name from Alsace. Yeah, a Japanese wine from Alsace – or an Alsatian wine with a Japanese owner – whatever – it’s very good.

I get the manager’s eye and he comes over.

“I’m with the Fabricant party. I’m the first to arrive,” I say.

He looks into his book, shakes his head and says, “You know, we don’t normally take reservations.”

Read more ...