Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Chronicle of Minor Cultural and Culinary Adventures: episode 3A (Food: July 19-August 20)

Farm Share fruit share week 2
Ok, so I've been unbelievably delinquent in my blogging this month.  So... here are some quick notes on NYC food experiences over the past month - 5 restaurants and my new farm share adventure - and I promise to follow soon to catch up on the theater, dance and movies I've seen!  

Farm Share - So my eating habits had gone from not bad to terrible during the hectic nights of ballet season and to say the vegetables I'd been finding in NYC grocery stores the past 6 months had been uninspiring would be a gross understatement. A few years ago, I had gotten weekly deliveries from a service called Urban Organic, but even their smallest box option was too big for little me to finish off in a week, and the mix of produce they gave me didn't inspire me much either (way too many greens and potatoes, and the fruit portion was huge for one person).  But, I thought, there must be similar services out there (since I don't really have time to go down to Union Sq. to the farmers' market every week, and I also find it way too overwhelming to be able to at all shop sensibly and get everything I need).  What I found has been so far fantastic.  It's a community-supported-agriculture (CSA) farm share that delivers:  I suppose it's a bit of a risk - you put up your money for the 22-week (or less if you start later in the year) delivery season all up front, and you don't know exactly what you'll get each week, but the 4 weeks of produce I've gotten have been wonderful and unless I eat out a lot during a week I can finish off the whole box.  

Spicy glazed eggplant
It's all local from NY farms as well, which seems to so far provide a selection that matches my own palate.  I am having to learn about new items such as purslane and tomatillos...but isn't that half the fun!  My cookbook collection is no longer collecting dust, and my account is starting to get virtual cobwebs.  The very first day of my delivery, I taught myself to make a delicious Asian eggplant dish.  The fruit share is an extra cost, and a little daunting (though much less so than UO), but look how pretty (above)!! 

Socarrat (Chelsea) - Thanks to a lovely former and soon to be again ABT friend of mine, I was introduced to this little Spanish gem around the corner from the Joyce Theater on Monday after the opening night of Cisne Negro (more on that soon).  I liked it so much, I went back last night before the show with another friend.  Both paellas I tried were delicious, as were the wine, the tapas and the dessert.  Our waitress last night was particularly wonderful - a sassy raven haired Spanish woman with a gorgeous accent.  This may definitely be my new go-to when I go-to the Joyce. 

From my trip to PEI in 2008
for more see
Flex Mussels - My second venture to the UES branch of this little restaurant was a good one. I first dined at the original Flex Mussels on Prince Edward Island, Canada back in August 2008 and LOVED it.  What's not to love about a pot of mussels cooked in lobster bisque with huge pieces of lobster in it? Or in a hoisin-infused broth with Peking duck ingredients thrown in? (They don't offer that one in the US sadly)  I first tried the UES location right after it opened, but as I don't have enough friends who eat shellfish I hadn't been able to get back there.  But we finally did, and my food was again delicious.  A tuna tartare appetizer that had me wanting to lick the plate, and I tried the "bruschetta" mussels this time - cooked with tomatoes, garlic, large pieces of crusty bread, lobster....mmmmmm!  My only criticism is that it was almost unbearably loud in the tiny restaurant - they may want to consider adding some sound absorbing materials in the near future.  They also have a branch in Union Square if you want to try them out! (And the prices are extremely reasonable)

Lincoln Ristorante - After that delicious pasta I'd had back in June at this newcomer in the glass building on the North side of Lincoln Center, I just couldn't stay away. So, when my parents came to town we went back for a full dinner.  This place really deserves all the accolades it's been getting, including being one of Gayot's top 10 new restaurants in the U.S. of 2011.  Every single thing we ordered was delicious.  I even tried things I probably wouldn't otherwise order, based on the enthusiasm of the waitress - an AMAZING salad with white sardines, and squid ink pasta with seafood.  I also had a semolina cake with cherries on top that I'm still dreaming about - and I'm definitely not a cake person.  I really could have eaten an entire pan of that cake.  Their coffee is also delicious, and the space is really beautiful without at all being overdone.  I almost hate for the word to get out about this place - I guess I'll just have to go at 9 pm during opera season when all the patrons are nicely tucked in their seats at the MET.  Quickly to the top 3 of my NYC dining list.

DavidBurke Townhouse - Usually one of my other, not quite as fancy, favorites in NYC, the last two meals I've had at DBT have been a little disappointing.  At lunch earlier in the summer, they forgot to fire our desserts, and when they finally came out the crust on the tart was so hard we were unable to even score it with a knife, so entirely inedible. They did bring us other desserts while we were waiting, but we didn't like those much either. This time the execution was much better, but I found the menu generally unenticing and my dishes were good, but not great.  (The menu was so uninviting this time that I actually wound up ordering a simple salad that wasn't on the menu at the waiter's urging just because everyone else in my party had ordered appetizers - I think the menu just lacked balance - everything seemed too heavy or not what I wanted.  It's summer - I wanted something refreshing.)  It makes me wonder - did they get a new executive chef this year?  Bring back last year's food!!  I will say they still have some of the nicest waiters in town, and my mother was raving about the signature pretzel-crusted crab cake.

Tipsy Parson - In search of some southern-inspired cuisine in connection with this month's book club selection The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy (which sadly, because of work, I have been unable to finish), I tried out this cozy Chelsea restaurant with some friends.  The food was good, but not great, and the "Avocado Toast" entree the waitress recommended was more like a big hunk of toast with a cup of unsalted pureed avocado thrown on top than the refreshing salad the menu led me to imagine.  Oh well.  It was also extremely loud for a little place, and it's one of those places that won't seat you until the entire table has arrived but will give away your table entirely if you're a little late.  I'd probably stop in again if I was in the neighborhood but I wouldn't make a point of going there otherwise.  

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