Monday, July 30, 2007

My Week in Food

Wandered through Chelsea Market the other day, and had a wonderful clam chowder, courtesy of the Lobster Place, I love a good clam chowder, preferably New England, though given my blood pressure & cholesterol, I should eat Manhattan. But for whatever reason Manhattan clam chowder seems to be an excuse to leave out clams, and make a tomato-based potato soup. I've had some decent Manhattan chowders, but good ones are usually an exception. Lobster Place uses fresh clams, they're not over cooked and rubbery, and the soup is not over salted, another chowder pitfall. The broth had excellent mouth feel, creamy with clam undertones. After chowder, wandered into the Italian grocery store, where I got a nice big can of San Marzano tomatoes for 2 bucks. In fact, the Italian store has excellent prices on most of their foodstuffs. Then I went to the Red Witch bakery and had an excellent chocoate brownie, thin and moist. And I'm not a huge brownie fan.
A few days later, a friend had a birthday party at a Vatan, one of the few vegetarian restaurants I like. The place is along Little India in Manhattan, a few blocks along the East Side in the 20s. Vatan is prix fixe, about 24 bucks, and you get a ridiculous amount of food. Most of it was delicious, including an excellent version of a mango lassi, a delicious plum sauce, and excellent samosas. Highly recommended, but go hungry. I could not finish my dessert, an unheard of thing for me.
And recently I re-discovered a place I use to eat in years ago, and had forgotten: The Restaurant inside the Ukrainian National Home, right next to Veselka's on 2nd Avenue. Apparently under new management, the food was excellent, including a delicious beet-buttermilk soup, a great shnitzel with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut (Is that Ukrainian? I noticed weinershnitzel on the menu too). An excellent mushroom gravy could be had for the shnitzel. My friend ate blintzes that were heavenly. I'd have to say this was the best Eastern European meal I've eaten downtown in a long while.
I also stopped by another old haunt, the Odessa, and had a cup of the worst borsht I've ever eaten. It was so awful I was stunned. Odessa was never the home of haute cuisine, but the food was always palatable at decent prices. This soup was horrid, salty, bland, the beets blanched of all flavor. And I love beets! I didn't even know borsht could be this bad, since most of the Polish places in the East Village could at least give you decent bowl. But I guess not. Won't be going there again!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What, Bobby Flay too?

Whilst trolling the food sites, I discovered that foodies not only hate Rachael Ray, they seem to despise Bobby Flay. A question was posed: Fuck, Marry, Kill and 3 names given: Alton Brown, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay. An overwhelming majority would like to fuck Alton, marry Mario, and kill Bobby. No reason was given for this. I like Flay. I enjoyed his food at the old Miracle Grill on 1st Avenue, and even got to go to the opening party of Mesa Grill years ago. He seems a personable fellow, has a fun tv prescence, and seems utterly harmless. I undestand why foodies tear into Ray, but Flay? I don't get it at all. Does anyone have insights into this? And personally, you're better off marrying Alton, Italian men are notorious for marrying, propagating, and dumping the kids on their wives whilst they go gallivanting around town for pussy. Just a word to the wise.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Anorexia? That's a small island in Greece, no?

I've run into some anorexics in my time on earth, and I have to say, I'm utterly unsympathetic to this disorder. If you're too stupid to eat, DIE!! Let the motherfuckers starve, I say. You don't want to eat, don't fucking eat. Just don't bother the rest of us. I notice, by the way, you don't run into anorexics in Africa, or any place where people are actually starving. It seems to be a condition of the middle and upper classes. I'm not interested in how some twerp decides that she's too fat, and looking like an Auschwitz survivor is becoming. Eating, along with sex, are the two major biological impulses common to almost all species, and if you feel you don't need to eat, fine. But I don't want to waste any resouces saving you. If these whiny shnooks were allowed to die, the world would be a better place.
Along with anorexia, America probably has the fattest kids on earth. I"m shocked when I see how bloated and out of shape youngsters are. When I was a kid, there was always one really fat kid in the class, now, all kids are like that fat kid. It's a good way to keep your kids from having sex, but it's repulsive. You don't see this many bloat bags in Europe, though I suspect that may change. Part of this is the pathetic American diet, part of it is kids sitting playing computer games and the like. I almost never see kids playing the wide variety of street games we played: no hopscotch, ringolevio, stickball, etc. I lived my whole childhood on the street.
Guess I'm just a cranky old man. Can't wait to get a cane and whack people on their heads.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Breakfast in Britain

I love to travel, but I confess, that I'm not in love with "continental breakfasts" since they tend to be light and simple. One thing I liked about England is that their ideas on breakfast is on the same continuum as ours, maybe even more so. I recall the morning meals served in a small hotel outside of Bath, that consisted not only of bacon and eggs, but sausages and fried tomatoes. My German friend, being raised on the "continental" concept of breakfast, was not pleased, but I loved it. I also enjoyed the breakfasts in the Netherlands, because they would serve peanut butter. In fact, the Dutch seem to be the only Europeans who eat peanut butter, except they would look on with horror when we added jelly to ours. But there's nothing better than peanut butter and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on toast. The Dutch also have the best chocolate sprinkles, made with real chocolate, not wax or plastic, like ours.

Monday, July 2, 2007

German cuisine and its discontents

I love pork, and thus I adore sausages, and no cuisine has more sausages than German. I don't know what's going on with German food in Germany, but the few German restaurants I've eaten in NY and the midwest are bastions of a very old food aesthetic, untouched by nouvelle experimentation. Take Rolf's on 3rd Ave., where I had a splendid repast of weinershnitzel in paprika sauce a few months ago. First, all German places seem to have been designed to look like Rudolf Hess' living room, so you have to overcome the urge to sing the "Horst Wessel Song" and Sieg Heil, or that you're going to be asked for your papers. That out of the way, you're usually served vast platters of food, pre-any health conscious ideas at all. I admire that moxie. This is a heavy cuisine, so it's best eaten in winter, when you need the carbs for warmth. A friend was horrified when I said I had weinershnitzel. "You ate veal?" she gasped, as if I admitted to some deep horror. Let me explain that my attitude to veal is sort of like my feeling about lobster. Yeah, it's a shame to boil a critter alive, but the fucking things taste so good with butter sauce, so between my feeling for a sentient being and my desite for a tasty bit of food, my desire for food wins. So, I know veal is often raised in inhumane conditions, but the meat is just so delicious! I see that England has actually banned inhumane conditions for veal, but I doubt such laws exist in the US, where you can feed people anything, until someone dies.
By the way, the best Bratwurst I ever had can be gotten from the midwest, where many Germans settled. Usinger's makes great brats, and so does Nueske's. Highly recommended.