Thursday, October 28, 2010

Street Meat

If there is one thing New Yorkers like to do, it's wait in line (or "on line" depending on who you talk to).  Tonight I waited in the line for "the best Halal cart in NYC". The cart is on the corner of 53rd and 6th, in front of Lou's Diner. I was advised not to go until 7:30 because that is when they do "something" - looks like either a changeover of the employees or of the food and by that time, the line was already forty deep.  I got there around 7:20 and Nicole and Dave joined me a few minutes later. Once 7:30 rolled around, the line moved really quickly.

I ordered the combo (chicken & lamb over rice - comes with lettuce & pita - $6) which is what I always get at the food carts outside of my work. I was warned about the red sauce, that it comes out quickly and that it's way too spicy. I thought I did a good job, by just putting a few very small blobs on and covering the rest with the white sauce, but Nicole said I still put too much red sauce, which I soon discovered on my own. After bumping my head on the side of the food cart and accidentally dropping the white sauce so it splattered on the guy next to me, we stood over to the side to eat our dinner. My mouth was on fire immediately so I steered clear of the hot sauce blobs I had made in my dish.

Overall I thought it was pretty good, I like cart food anyways, but I don't think I would dub this "the best Halal in NYC". I would get the chicken again, but I think the guy down the street from my work has much better lamb.  I need to start a campaign for him.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cake & Shake it a Baby Now, Shake it a Baby

Basically the first thing people learn about me is that I really, really, really like cupcakes. Multiple people have recommended that I be a cupcake for Halloween (this was not the winning costume decision). Some of my favorite things to do in NYC are to: try out new cupcake places, eat cupcakes, talk about cupcakes, make cupcakes, bathe in cupcakes, etc. Therefore, I have decided I should share my favorite cupcake places with my readers (aka Mom & George) so that you all know where to go when you need to suck up to me / apologize to me.  

The first place I'd like to introduce is Cake and Shake, yes, a cart with simply cupcakes and milkshakes. I've followed Cake and Shake on Twitter (@cakeandshake) since before they even opened because I read an article (which I spent ten minutes looking for with no luck) that really got me craving it. But, I didn't end up going until my cousins and I were walking around last month and decided to take a stroll into Washington Square Park. And what did we see there, but a GIANT CUPCAKE ON A BICYCLE!!!

I don't know if this bike has any association with Cake & Shake, or if there was a woman waiting to pop out of it and sing, or who the heck was even riding the bike, for that matter, but it reminded me that one of the two locations of the Cake & Shake trucks was right outside of Washington Square Park! The other location is 82nd St & 5th Ave, outside of the Met.

[Side Note: Washington Square Park (W 4th St & Fifth Ave) is just lovely and full of hipsters, and you should probably go. The fountain in the middle is fun to play in (okay, I have no experience in this, but it *looks* fun to play in) and it's so pretty, day or night. At night, the view of the Empire State Building through the arch is just delightful and oh, so New York City.]

End Side Note.

So anyway, upon seeing this giant mobile cupcake, I immediately entered a panic. "We NEED to find Cake & Shake," I told my cousins, who of course would never resist going on a quest to find cupcakes and milkshakes - either because they want them themselves or they are afraid to deny me such sweets. After a walk around the outskirts of the park, we found the truck on the South Side (W. 4th St. and LaGuardia Place).

Just like Christmas morning...

There are twenty different cupcake flavors and eight different shakes, but only five cupcakes and three shakes are featured each day on each truck. Everything is organic and the supplies are all eco-friendly and biodegradable, so you should not feel *as* guilty for indulging. I treated myself to a Whatchamacallit cupcake (milk chocolate cake, caramel mousse, and nougat frosting) and a Salted Caramel shake. This was too much! I really recommend getting either one or the other or sharing (which Emily and Christie did, at least with their shake, but alas, I am not very likely to share such delights.) I regretfully could not finish my treats and felt terrible for it. Next time I am bringing some tupperware and a thermos so that I can save my remains (because I, again, am not very likely to settle for sharing).


Monday, October 25, 2010

A Pop Tart by Any Other Name...

Today, Nicole, Dave, and I decided to go to Pop Tarts World in Times Square. Yes, you read that correctly. Someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea. The store is located on 42nd, in between Broadway and 6th.

The store itself is kind of cute, it's very colorful and open, but I kept thinking "Why does this place even exist?!"  The "Varietizer" is a machine from which you can select all different flavors to make your own Pop Tart variety pack, which actually costs way more than just buying a few different boxes in the grocery store.  There is strange and overpriced merchandise like a laptop case that is basically just a large Pop Tart, because who wouldn't want that?  I mean, they did try to be creative with this, but is anyone actually buying anything??

This is *not* on my Christmas list.
Where the store must at least make *some* money is with the full menu of sugary snacks with different varieties of Pop Tarts crushed on top of them.  I ordered chocolate ice cream with chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough Pop Tarts on top.  It was pretty delicious, and I never thought to use Pop Tarts as a topping before, so I might be tempted to do that again.  That is one of the ideas for this store, for people to learn how to use Pop Tarts in non-traditional ways so they will buy more.

I had looked at the menu previously and have been talking about getting the Pop Tart Sushi for a while. For some reason, every time I mention "Pop Tart Sushi" to people, they shrivel up their faces in disgust, not realizing that this type of sushi would not actually have fish in it.

So I was excited that one of the "attractions" at Pop Tart World was to learn how to make this Pop Tart Sushi - for the ridiculous price of $7. Luckily, some woman next to us asked the employee how to make it at home, and we all learned how for free, rather than paying to make it right there.

I, of course, went to the grocery store immediately and purchased Wild Berry Pop Tarts (apparently any berry flavor will do, but the chocolate flavors are a no-no) and Fruit Roll-ups (which I shockingly think I have not purchased since I've started living on my own and buying my own groceries). The sushi chef insisted that the Fruit Roll-up MUST be cold, so I put a few in the fridge for a couple hours, because I did not want to mess this up. After dinner, I crushed two Pop Tarts in a plastic baggie, rolled them "like a sausage", then wrapped a strawberry Fruit Roll-up around the tube and sliced it into individual sushi pieces.

Come on, that looks...good...right?

I don't know why, but Nicole and Ravi both refused to try my masterpiece.  Oh well, more for me.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Angel is in the Outfield

I never really followed any sports on television, the main reason being my short attention span, but I really like going to sports games in person. I'm supposed to like Philly sports since I'm from South Jersey, but for reasons I will not disclose here, I personally try to avoid everything about Philadelphia except for Ben Franklin and cheesesteaks. I actually got glared at on the beach this summer at home for wearing my Mets hat...

This summer I went to a handful of ball games. Aside from actually watching baseball, here are a few of my favorite things about being at the New York stadiums.

  • Going to my first Yankee game with my then future roomie on the first day of me being 25, successfully crossing off one of the 26 things to do on my list before turning 26 the earliest day possible.  

  • Garlic fries at Yankee Stadium and Shake Shack at Citi Field.

  • Waiting for a rain delay for two hours and watching a friend fall asleep on the stairs right inside the stadium.

  • Torturing Shane Victorino when the Mets played the Phillies in May.  His wife's name is Melissa, in case anyone else wants to yell things at him.

  • Watching a friend get on the big screen and get thisclose to catching a ball thrown by Angel (in the Outfield) .

  • Gorgeous sunsets.

  • Catching an extra-large t-shirt that I will never wear from the t-shirt gun at Citi Field.

  • Never going to our seats and always sitting in a way better section than what we paid for.

  • Watching two friends get escorted out of Citi Field during the last game of the season for not successfully sneaking back into the section we were sitting in instead of our own.

  • Tailgating at Citi Field and fitting our 6'5" friend into the trunk of a coupe to see if he could get out.

  • Cotton candy photoshoots. 

Can’t wait for April!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Best Cure for a Hangover...NYC Brunch

Since I've moved to my new apartment, I've actually only been to brunch (gasp) twice. Before you shun me and say I am not a real New Yorker, please understand that I was out of town a few weekends early on and the rest of the weekends I have eaten my own homemade just-add-water Bisquick pancakes. They are pretty legit, I will not lie, but the past two Sundays I have ventured out and treated myself to some even more glorious eats.

One of our favorite places near the apartment is Eatery (53rd and 9th). My roomie and I have been there for dinner a few times already and Nicole had gone a couple weekends ago for brunch, so we tried it again last weekend. The wait was an hour as we had a group of five, but it was well worth it. Nicole and her cousins each got a bloody mary, Nicole's boyfriend, Dave, ordered a guava mimosa (which he was quite embarrassed to drink because it was hot pink) and I got a pretty orange/pink pomegranate mimosa. The drinks were large and delicious banana mini muffins were brought out when we ordered. 

I love a sweet breakfast so I of course ordered the Stuffed French Toast - stuffed with chocolate-banana cream cheese filling and served with a side of vanilla ice cream. It was to dieeeeeee for, BUT I really surprised myself because as I went around the table trying everyone else's dishes, I actually liked Nicole's meal the best. I plan on getting it the next time I go to brunch there - Scrambled Egg White Tortilla - with organic cracked wheat salad, sweet corn, queso fresco and salsa verde. Although I am also very tempted to try the Corn Flake Crusted French Toast.  Maybe I will just get both. :)

This morning (okay, afternoon), my cousin Emily and I traveled over to Elephant and Castle (Greenwich Avenue at the intersection of 7th Ave and 11th St) in search of their Eggs 'N Apples Benedict on French Toast with Bacon, because Emily's friend has described it as "if I could marry one meal, this would be it." After a review like that, how could you possibly resist?  

Um HELLO!!!!!

The real dilemma right now is what to have for dinner - the other half of my Eggs Benedict from brunch or the House-made Ravioli of chicken and roasted eggplant with toasted almonds and sage from the Eatery as Nicole is ordering from there right now. But again, perhaps I will just have both :)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturdays in the Park

"a man selling ice cream"

Autumn and I usually don't get along too well. Not because Autumn has ever done anything to me, but simply because Autumn signals the end of Summer. Born & bred on the beach in South Jersey, Summer and I have always gotten along extraordinarily well. Autumn signals less sunlight, my tan going away, and the inability to wear flip flops on the daily.

But Autumn in New York is pretty incredible. This is actually my third Autumn in New York, although this one seems a little different. My first was in 2007 when I was on a work rotation in Manhattan from mid-October to mid-November. My second was in 2009 when I was living in Jersey City but working in Tribeca. So while it may be my third, this is the first time that I'm actually LIVING in New York for realz, and I'm experiencing it in a whole new light. Granted, this is a shorter amount of light than Summer would bring, but I'm going to accept it and just enjoy the hours I have.

I've spent the last three Saturdays getting to know this little park close to my apartment, Central Park. 

The first Saturday, my roommate's family was in town. After we nursed our hangovers from the previous night, we walked over a few blocks and met them there. We walked around a little bit, got soft pretzels, then went to the Loeb boathouse while Nicole's cousins took a rowboat out and drank a few beers, discussed politics (and Chris Kirkpatrick), and laughed heartily. I pledged that while the weather is still nice, I am going to take advantage of the proximity of the park to my new place. 

Bethesda Fountain

The next weekend, my super-awesome friend Aubrey from home came to visit and we went on a quest to complete one of the items on my "26 things to do before I turn 26" list: Ride the carousel in Central Park.  We eventually found it right off the 65th street transverse (after walking about 30 minutes out of our way - NYC Parks Department, please put some signs up in this park dagnabbit!) and made the best $2 investment we've spent in a long time. I mean, when is the last time you were on a carousel? Don't act like you're too cool for it. Everything about the ride was awesome: the antique horses, the carnival jams, the fact that we were a good 20 years older than all the other passengers. After riding a carousel, what else were we to do but stumble upon a playground and play on the rocks, slides, and swingset? The day was magical and provided for some pretty solid Facebook defaults (which is all our generation is in search for in life anyway).

Always wanted a pony...

This past Saturday was especially fun for me because I got to share my new backyard with my parents and my sister.  My family's visit happened to coincide with what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. I would have taken my former hippie 'rents to see Strawberry Fields (west 72nd street entrance) even if it weren't Lennon's birthday, but I was even more excited when Google reminded me of this special day because I knew a celebration would be going on. This is actually supposed to be a "peaceful spot" but on Lennon's 70th birthday AND the 25th anniversary of the "Imagine" memorial, it was quite the party. Unfortunately, because of the crowd, we couldn't make it anywhere near the actual memorial, so I will have to visit again another time. But, I thought it was really cool to be in the crowd of people dressed like Sgt Pepper and the man with the technicolor beard, all singing together in honor of a pretty awesome dude.

Happy Birthday Lenny <3

From Strawberry Fields, we went on to walk to the Lake and we hopped in a row boat - something I'd been dying to do since Nicole's cousins did it two weeks earlier. $12 / hour for a priceless trip on the Lake with your family members is not a bad bargain. The Loeb Boathouse boasts 100 row boats and three (yes, they actually advertise three) kayaks. As I've been told, the rowboats are more like bumper cars than anything else as no one on the lake actually knows how to row a boat and everyone just crashes into each other for the most part. My dad (kayak champion that he is) was rowing the boat as if he was in a race at first and ended up soaking this poor woman while trying to show off his skills and we definitely crashed into enough other boats. But all in all, we had a great time out on the lake.

My favorite part was rowing over to where a shirtless man was singing folk music and singing along with him. During one song, he asked us to do drum solos by pounding our hands on the rowboat and rewarded us with Kudo's 100-calorie bars. 2 out of 3 fell into the lake (although I triumphantly caught mine) but no worries, we fished them out and my dad even ate one on the trip back to the boathouse (ew). Pretty sure we are going to be in at least 20 tourists' photo albums slamming our hands on the boat (the start of my celebrity status??). We wandered around for a little longer after my sister and I both had our chances to row and found the Conservatory Pond where there are little model sailboats sailing around peacefully. We also were able to see the hawks' nest, which was pretty cool to see.

Rowing, Rowing, Rowing on a Laaaa-ake
I could get used to spending Autumn Saturdays in the park, where everywhere you turn there is something new. But alas, I have a feeling Autumn will eventually give way to my mortal enemy - Winter. But I hear Winter in New York is also pretty remarkable...bring it.

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