Friday, May 14, 2010

Two Boots is Coming! Two Boots is Coming! Two Boots is Coming!

Last night, as I went for a glutenous late dinner what did I see? A Two Boots Pizza sign between Peaches Natural Yogurt Cafe and McDonalds.
That's right. A new pizzeria on Broadway and 96th to go with the new entrance for the subway entrance. And finally, a worthy pizza pie worth visiting on the Upper West Side - Sal and Carmines aside (the demise of which was inaccurately reported some weeks back). Possibly Patsy's.
I stopped and snapped a few photos with my phone this morning, and attempted to get Symphony Space into the background as proof of location. Look really closely at the third photo and you can make out the sign.
Note the absence of permits, which leads me to believe it won't be opening any time soon. Also, the website had no mention of the UWS location coming. Interesting. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BABBP (If you don't know, you don't know)

It's mine and you can't have it

As a park, Madison Square has never been much of an attraction for me. Once a Shake Shack outpost opened in my neighborhood, I had even less of a reason to make the trip. But all of that changes for a weekend every year.

The Big Apple Barbecue Block Party is coming. I may not make it every year (thanks, bar exam), but it is certainly on my mind. That and the chocolate show, which comes around during the fall. New York has decent barbecue, and it makes an appearance at the BABBP. However, pitmasters from more well-known barbecue states come up north and bring their smokers with them. Clicking on the interactive map on the website ( gets my mouth watering. And the event is a month away.

The picture above is my fast pass for the event. It costs $125 and has a credit for $100 worth of food and drink, along with a companion pass so that a freeloading guest can join me in line (and pay for half, making for more of a partner than a guest in the experience). Why pay an extra $25 for the pass? The lines can be unbearably long. And with real barbecue taking 12 hours and longer to cook, food runs out. Not like the pitmaster can just throw some more pork shoulder into the smoker when he sees a long line.Weather is also a factor. In the past, it has been hot and humid, and the tents are set up on the periphery of the park where there is no shade. Between the weather, the lines, and the taunting smell of fine barbecue, tempers are truly tested.

Will I have to try all three St. Louis-style rib selections on offer? Perhaps. Will I sample both whole hog plates? Definitely. All three pulled pork choices? No doubt. I may be a little more selective with beef brisket and pass on the mutton. If I don't see some sweet tea, I may resort to a temper tantrum.

The end result? I will be stuffed. I will be happy. I will longingly await the BABBP's return next year.

3 out of 4 ain't bad

Even though my plants are young and fragile, I had to leave them and travel for work a couple of weeks ago. Basil and dill had just popped up a couple of weeks prior, and lavender and rosemary had yet to make an appearance. Nevertheless, I did what any responsible gardener would do: I watered thoroughly, positioned the pots for optimal sunlight and offered up a little prayer.
Lo and behold! I came home to find that my burgeoning urban herb garden had (mostly) prospered in my absence.

I say "mostly" because lavender proved to be incredibly stubborn. In fact, I went ahead and planted another seed. Since it takes a few weeks to germinate, I still don't know if I have what it takes to grow lavender.

When I left, basil was two wimpy looking leaves. I came back to find four leaves. That is a 100% improvement. On a qualitative scale, it was even better when taking into consideration the fact that two of the leaves were considerably larger.

Dill has actually started to look like dill. Since this picture, it has grown considerably and a second offshoot has sprouted. It still looks very fragile, but has come a long way from its first sprouting just a few weeks ago.

Though hard to spot, rosemary has made an appearance. Utilizing my superb photo editing skills, I have circled the little sprout. Perhaps I should have chosen a color other than green to highlight.

All said, I was thrilled with the progress made. I hope to be using my home grown herbs sometime by the end of the decade. Yes, I realize the decade has only begun. This takes time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

This little piggie went to Bowery

Ah, Mother's Day. Yet another reason for my family to try someplace new. It isn't like I do not see or speak to my mother all the time, or appreciate her year round (Hi Mom!). This year - brunch at DBGB. I am not sure what the "GB" stands for, but "DB" is Daniel Boulud, which invariably means good food.

After much deliberation, we settled on the viennoiserie (bread basket) to start, which my mother and sister both missed on the menu. My mother chose the croque madame, which came out open-faced, covered in bubbly brown Gruyere with a sunnyside egg on top. Rachel went for an omelet that apparently was good, but looked like it was made in a non-stick pan using eggbeaters. I defer to her judgment on taste. I went for the piggie burger. This is a burger with Daisy Mae's pulled pork and cole slaw on top. I had thoughts of ordering this well in advance of brunch and nothing on the menu changed my mind.

Initially, there was disappointment. The viennoiserie was running low. The pain aux raisins was excellent. A gooey, warm, raisin-filled wonderful bit of pastry. The croissant was nothing exceptional, but I did take note of its construction - it did not fall apart when being torn. The madeleines were light and warm, and went well with the jelly and butter with sea salt on the platter. However, there was one notable absence - pan au chocolat. How do you know what goes into the viennoiserie and not have equal amounts of each element? Why do you run out of one thing? Are people requesting a basket with only pan aux chocolat? Probably. But then, they should know this is going to happen and prepare accordingly. I felt gypped.

Here is where things began to feel rushed. The waiter came for a drink order before asking about food and waited until the drinks were delivered before coming back. Not a problem. We were still working on the bread basket when the rest of our food arrived. Problem. We do not eat slowly, so this was a real surprise. I would like a minute between croissant and burger, please. It was wholly unnecessary since this was the latter part of brunch time and tables were emptying.

The burger was good. Actually, what I could taste of the burger was good. The flavor of the pulled pork was clearly dominating here. The cole slaw stood out as well. I expected more of a complementary relationship between burger and pulled pork. I could have gone to Daisy Mae's and been just as satisfied; perhaps feeling a little less glutinous even. When the waiter brought over condiments, he recommended that I only use ketchup with the fries and not on the burger, which was half gone at this point. Duh. Apparently, he had personally made this mistake in the past. He made another mistake later on when he charged Rachel for the full brunch and me for the burger she was bringing to her boyfriend. Whoops. Overall, the burger was very good and was the last thing I ate until lunch the next day.

To dessert or not to dessert. That was the question left for me to answer. So I chose two: the chocolate-chocolate sundae, and a rhubart tart. The sundae should have had a couple of more "chocolates" in the name. Chocolate ice cream, truffles, chocolate chip cookies, cocoa crunchies. A little caramel sauce and some whipped cream on top. It was decadent, it was intense, it was delicious. The rhubarb tart was more lemon meringue than rhubarb, but very nice and light. A rhubarb ice cream on the side had us all talking, wondering if it was made in-house. If mass-produced rhubarb ice cream would taste like this, then someone should be making it.

I walked out with mixed feelings. There seemed to be something off at every stage. The viennoiserie was missing pan au chocolat. The burger was heavy on pulled pork (from another restaurant). The dessert... well that was really good.  I started to feel a bit rushed without apparent reason.  The waiter switched credit cards and didn't bring a credit slip when the correction was made. In the end, this is a series of mostly little things, but taken together they detracted from the experience as a whole. In the future, if I want pulled pork I will go to Daisy Mae's and if I want a burger I will go to Peter Luger. Maybe I'll go to both places and make my own piggie burger. Also, I never figured out what the "GB" stands for.

DBGB, 299 Bowery (between Houston and 1st Street)