The classic cheap dog place is Grey’s Papaya. I wasn’t near enough to sample their fare, but I did make it to Papaya Dog (twice!) in one day. The first time was near Broadway in midtown. I ordered one dog with sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup with a papaya juice. I know dog purists say never put ketchup on a dog, but sometimes I like the sweet/tart contrast it provides to the bitter spice of a good mustard. The sauerkraut was not as sour as I anticipated and really made the dog excellent. The dog has a nice bite due to the natural casings. The second time around I had one dog that only had mustard and ketchup (due to ordering confusion) and it was definitely lacking without the accoutrements.
The true surprise was the papaya juice. My parents always love to make me eat papaya because it is so healthy. However, I’ve always found it to be flavorless and cloying. This juice was creamy with a hint of tartness. I could still make out the flavor of papaya, but it was not the gross flavor of the, perhaps, overripe fruits of home. The second visit yielded mango juice, which though creamy did not really accurately capture the wonderful flavors that a truly good mango can provide or those of vitasoy’s excellent mango juice boxes.
Still you cannot do better on a budget in New York – two dogs and a 16 oz. juice (other options include grapeade, pina colada and strawberry banana) only run you $3.
There’s so much to say about the trip to New York. A culture so different from the cookie-cutter nature of DC. Certainly there are those men and women who emulate the snottyness of Sex and the City, trying to one up each other in fashion and riches. But then there are women who lean out their windows to people watch and chat with one another (like 227!). Subway stations that have unique art and sometimes sculpture (ears sticking out of walls). Strange women with shark cars selling strange hats. Men wearing Ugg boots. Halal kebab food carts. Stores devoted solely to skeins of beautiful yarn in every color of the rainbow stacked along entire walls. Strange and foreign looking fabrics tacked to walls. Then there was the surreal almost Robert Doisneau-like image of a man walking down the street loaded with bags of cotton candy. What made it even more amusing was a conversation between a mother and a child… similar to many that I’ve heard in the store before.
Child: What is that?
Mom: I think they’re puffers or… flags. They’re flags.
Child: It looks like cotton candy to me.
Mom: No, it’s not cotton candy.
Most trips are planned with specific destinations in mind. Things are thought out; books and web sites are consulted. Not this time. The decisive moment came during a discussion about Beauty and the Geek, and ended with an insane desire to purchase clothes at my favorite store, Uni qlo.
I hopped on the bus, and sat behind two rather large ladies. And I sort of think they went to the bus bathroom together or something scary like that. The fellow next to me related to the person on the other end of his phone that he was a “young black rock star.”
Friday was filled with shopping and food. I went to my treasured Uni Qlo with its stacks of beautifully colored sweaters stacked to the high ceilings. At Pinkberry I saw an Asian man wearing Ugg boots. At the Blue Note jazz club later that evening we sat at the table next to the music reviewer from the Village Voice. They played Lush Life, one of my favorite Coltrane songs. I like old, twitchy drummers.
Wandered through town and stumbled upon the Candle Building, which is sheer street art amazingness.
Worst nightmare came to life. Trapped in Greyhound bus bathroom. Was saved by brute strength of Israeli soldier who ripped the door off the tracks. Hysterical laughter ensues.
Reviews of eating to come. More Candle Building info here: NY Times article
There comes a moment when you start thinking… man I need to get outta here. So I made a very last minute decision to head to New York. Buy the special $35 bus tickets, a very odd bus trip and now I’m sitting in a Soho loft, listening to pigeons cooing, sun blazing through the window highlighting the fire escape. Cliches all ’round today.
So far I’ve had some brioche, European-style cornbread and raisin walnut bread courtesy of my friend. He is in bread baking school at the CIA. Today there will be an even RICHER brioche and croissants. There appears to be much chocolate, eating and shopping in the plans.
We had some extreme sushi making going on. We used 10 cups of uncooked rice. Fillings of eel, smoked salmon, avocado, egg, imitation crab, cucumber and flying fish roe. We also had some tuna sashimi and sushi. I prepared some of the sushi, because I had cut the pieces originally as sashimi. I also made an eel hand roll with way too much unagi sauce. We also had some bulgogi.
I recently reviewed Bob’s Noodle here. I went again with my parents and ordered one of their set menus. The set menu includes a beef and kimchi hotpot, pork with bamboo shoots, crispy salt and pepper shrimp and choice of veg (this case spinach). We also ordered the shacha noodles with beef and watercress and two other dishes I’ve discussed before.
Out of the blue my friend J. calls me and tells me he’s about two miles away from my place and if I wanted to get dinner. I scoured my mind trying to think of the best place to go. Spices? Meh… somewhere on the Pike? Meh… I know… Dino’s. I’ve stopped in before for drinks and to have their menu della sera, which is a great deal by the way. Forgetting it was Restaurant Week (RW), we decide. As we sit down, it hits me… it’s restaurant month at Dino’s. Any appetizer, any entree, any dessert for $30.07.
We were seated immediately, and our server, Shannon, was a real charmer. At least according to J. and I gotta agree she’s a cute girl. We perused and both decided upon the short rib special with polenta and spinach for entree. I got the prosciutto and J. got the three version of bruschetta small plate. Prosciutto was fantastic as always – delicate and sweet. While it may be shaved to near disappearing thinness, the portion is nonetheless generous and paired with perfectly soured cornichons and pickled onions.
J. delighted in his bruschetta – caramelized onions with balsamic and some kind of bleu cheese, some kind of tomato spread with goat cheese, and mushrooms with pesto and white bean spread. Since J. is on a low-carb diet, I had the fortune of getting to eat the bread underneath and catching the full brunt of the flavor. My favorite was the tomato spread, which was not sour and garlicky. Continue reading