In fourth grade someone got the bright idea of cutting lunch to an outrageous 15 minutes (as if going to a year-round school without a cafeteria wasn't enough--we ate at our desks and were served by mobile carts in the hall). To get the slow eaters (me) up to speed, our teachers implemented a charming little policy called "Shovel Time."
The first nine minutes would pass normally. Then as the tenth approached, Miss Stauffer (a feathered-haired gal who drove a Camaro and loved Little River Band) would yell, "Do you know what time it is?!" The class would manically shriek back, "SHOVEL TIME!!!" Talking was absolutely forbidden the final five minutes—it was a deathly silent scarf fest.
don't know if I've ever been the same since. But as a nod to this classy
ritual, I've adopted the humble scooping implement as my rating system's
icon. Shovel on!
1 Shovel=Passing Fancy
2 Shovels=Puppy Love
3 Shovels=Crippling Crush
4 Shovels=Serious Stalking
While the Time debacle was sucking up everybody's attention yesterday, a most important (highly unrelated) tidbit was overlooked: the teen from Me and You and Everyone We Know is a chef?
As beautiful as the food at Alumette looks, I would have a hard time not thinking of pooping back and forth forever while eating it.
Photo: Tasting Table
Remember when Susan Sarandon got all into ping pong and opened SPiN with her young boyfriend? Now Dubai is having that experience, but with gold-plated tables, naturally.
Those ping-pongers will soon be able to brunch at Clinton Street Baking Company too.
Johnny Rockets has been in Kuwait for 18 years and is continuing its Mideast expansion.
What does anyone know about Belgian food beyond fries and waffles? Soon enough New Yorkers will find out when healthy fast-casual EKKi shows up in Manhattan. Based on the Facebook page, there will be farro, bowtie pasta and couscous.
Charleys Philly Steaks wants to fill "a void in the Russian market for quality, grilled sandwiches."
Americans love Costa Rica so it's not really surprising that the country would get a few Dairy Queens.
For me, Cerveceria Havemeyer, newborn kin of La Superior, has been a bit of a lifesaver. It fills the same super-close, crowd-pleasing (who doesn't like Mexican food and margaritas?) free seats on a weekend night niche as Taco Chulo, but with better food and music (someone really likes Thee Oh Sees and The Walkmen).
For you, I don't know? I would say that if you happened to be in Williamsburg and wanted a good sit-down taco al pastor and a strong drink, this would meet, and maybe even exceed your needs. (The now permanent Brooklyn Taco pop-up inside of Donna also thrives in this Williamsburg-Mex genre, but with more emphasis on the cocktail side and fewer menu options.)
Carne asada and tinga are fine standards, but lesser cuts are sorely lacking in the immediate area. So, in addition to the recommended spit-roasted pork, it's nice to see cheeks, tongues and skin also put to use (eaten, but not pictured).
Volcanes are tostadas blanketed in melted cheese (the lava?). Rajas work for that vegetarian friend, but meats can be piled on instead.
The masa-avoidant can have aguachiles (and ignore the accompanying basket of tortilla chips) which are a less lime-marinated ceviche. The shrimp version with truly raw seafood, no firming or pinkening, was powerfully spicy.
It's also fine to just drink and snack on the free (bottomless, as they say in the Red Robin world) chicharrones de harina, Puffed wheat wagon wheels striped with hot sauce and served with lime wedges. The $12 margaritas (classic, guava, hibiscus, tamarind) are really two drinks in one. Half sizes are available for half the price.
Cerveceria Havemeyer * 149 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, NY
Which eating and drinking establishment within a store are you most looking forward to?
Makers and Merchants, i.e. the Brooks Brothers steakhouse.
The Williamsburg Rough Trade cafe from Five Leaves folks.
TNT a.k.a. Taters 'n' Tits in an unspecified North Carolina mall.
In the chain world where flatbreads, wraps and pretzel rolls are considered innovations, a few brands are trying harder to tap into contemporary food trends, whether a ruse to appeal to the irrationally coveted millennials or simply a desire to appear relevant in late 2013. Some I've witnessed firsthand. (I've already documented how Cheesecake Factory's kale salad doesn't contain much kale.)
Take Maggiano's Little Italy. Little Italy isn't a selling point for anyone in NYC who enjoys tasting their food, so adopting this shrinking neighborhood as a concept and transporting it to the suburbs seems misguided at best. I don't doubt that there are parts of the country lacking in big family-style plates of manicotti and breaded veal cutlets smothered in marinara, and I have family members who insist on dining on Mulberry Street when they very rarely visit. It must be America's favorite casual dining restaurant for a reason.
It was the Handcrafted Classic Cocktails (as opposed to the plain Classic Cocktails section featuring a lemon drop and long island iced tea), though, that caught my attention and ultimately brought me to Bridgewater, New Jersey. There is an aviation, properly made and just mauve, not jewel-toned like the royal purple version ordered by James Spader in French in Montreal on The Blacklist to show off to the young FBI lady who just wanted a glass of Chardonnay, as if an aviation is the epitome of sophistication. They taste like Sweet Tarts, frankly, but they certainly are pretty and I do appreciate their presence on Maggiano's menu.
There was a surprising lack of sweet cocktails, the bane of all chain restaurants, and while not yet Fernet-crazed, a Negroni using Carpano Antica was pretty on point, as was the presence of Aperol, multiple bitters and Fever Tree tonic water. Do note the fat ice cube in my Catcher in the Rye (Knob Creek Rye, Luxardo Marashino, simple syrup, Old Fashion Bitters).
* * *
Until recently, Bonefish Grill was dinner-only, so its decision to introduce a Sunday Brunch (and Bistro Lunch) is certainly more about increasing a day's earnings (also, the Ruby Tuesday in Times Square advertises breakfast, a feature mentioned nowhere on its site) than trying to attract city folk with unlimited bubbles. Still, what other chains can you think of are doing brunch, the most controversial meal among food-centric crowds, with bottomless mimosas and bellinis? On a gut level I am anti-brunch, but because I can't articulate why in a convincing matter I cave quietly now and then.
The brunch fare isn't particularly on-brand for a seafood restaurant. Sure, there is a surf and turf eggs benedict with lobster and a crab and asparagus omelet (above) but the toast and au gratin potatoes (or fresh fruit) seem odd, especially coupled with the requisite warm Italian loaf and pesto dipping oil. $19.9 (Bonefish prices everything in oddball increments) gets you that and unlimited bubbly drinks, provenance unknown, though likely prosecco and not Perrier Jouet “Grand Brut," the only other sparkler it sells.
For fall, P.F. Chang's has created "fried rice" from red quinoa and assorted vegetables. It's topped with an egg. I was about to say that this is crying out for kale, but kale has its own showcase in the also-new Shanghai Waldorf Salad.
Moscow mules have also transitioned. P.F. Chang's has a tequila jalapeño version, which negates the Moscow. Even Longhorn Steakhouse (I say even because I've never had any interest in this Darden brand because it seemed so bland but am getting itchy to visit all of a sudden--maybe it's the Snowfall-esque website with a mesmerizing pumpkin spice lava cake that's sliced and oozes over and over again) has introduced a limited edition montana mule (I can't get a straight answer on capitalizing cocktails or not, and it's more problematic when the names contain proper nouns) Jim Beam, no vodka. So, it seems that the moscow mule is becoming the new martini with ginger, and possibly a metal mug, being the only requirement for the designation.
The Blacklist photo via The Pegu Blog
General Mills has been on a tear with its “Hello Cereal Lovers” campaign. Chefs like Dale Talde, Harold Dieterle and Amanda Frietag have developed recipes, and even I was moved to attend a cooking event with Do or Dine’s Justin Warner and I'm pretty certain I haven’t eaten cereal since I was in grade school (which I probably should’ve kept to myself, if only because saying “I don't think I've eaten cereal in 30 years" aloud only succeeds in scaring the NYU food studies girls who might not even be into their second decade of life).
What I really wanted to see was some unnaturally colored food made palatable, and I got my wish during the interactive cooking session. Lucky Charms, marshmallows only was an audience suggestion, which got turned into ravioli, also stuffed with smoked mozzarella and oregano.
The result wasn’t abysmal, a little sweet and herbal, and most importantly, the shells oozed blue.
The dark (destitute?) underbelly of food media was exposed when attendees began scrounging for leftover raw meat. Heck, I gave in and took the baggie of scallops along with my swag. Even though I rarely blog about cooking anymore, I always make at least two meals a week at home and a scallop fennel recipe was on the roster for Wednesday. A dusting of crumbled Vanilla Chex actually would’ve worked with this buttery seafood dish, so don't think that I didn't learn anything.
Pumpkin spice’s ubiquity has really taken a beating this year (white girl memes, flavor science proving it’s all spice, no pumpkin) but there’s something much fouler afoot and I spied it at Target this weekend on the instant headache aisle otherwise known as air fresheners.
Glad is promoting a limited edition fall scents collection, which includes Salted Caramel, as if salt contributes an odor to caramel, which is really just sweet and Cracker Jacky with a chemical undertone. No matter, it’s available in five different formats: jar candle, Plugins scented oil, automatic spray, which differs from premium room spray, and scented oil candles.
The rest of the collection is rounded out by Fall Hayride, a mystery blend, Pumpkin Spice (obviously) and two other foodish scents, Orchard Apple Cinnamon and Toasted Marshmallow, the latter which is described by an online reviewer as “Makes breathing fun!” Five stars for Toasted Marshmallow. Clearly, I know nothing about how a home should smell (or breathing).
What are the odds that Glade captures the aroma of a croissant-doughnut chimera for 2014?
By the way, I have not given up on this blog. It's that I've been spending an embarrassing amount of time figuring out how to migrate from Typepad to self-hosted Wordpress (seriously, I started in December but just got into high gear over the past few months) and then prettifying it in dribs and drabs. I have zero technical know-how and am not a designer either, obviously. It's kind of a mess, but I'd like to get over there soon anyway.
I was going to say that it shouldn't really matter because doesn't everyone (those everyones that still read blogs, that is) read blogs via rss? But then, Google dropped the reader due to supposed lack of interest, so maybe I'm overestimating the popularity of rss blog reading. I'm still not clear on how Twitter has replaced rss, despite so many experts saying so.
If anything, this reassessment has shown how easy it is to eat the same small number of cuisines in the same limited neighborhoods over and over. I was trying to eliminate categories with only one entry, but maybe the solution is to try and beef them up instead. I've only eaten Laotian food once in Oakland. NYC doesn't really have any of the nitty-gritty variety, so Khe-Yo could be a remedy. Bolivian also poses a similar problem, but we've yet to see an elevated version here. And despite the trickles of media coverage (most recently Food & Wine) and the Noma connection, I don't see Gustu spawning a wave of Andean mania. I'd totally pay a visit to La Paz if I had a little extra time and money, though.
The world’s love affair with what it thinks to be Brooklyn continues to blossom. We’ve come to expect this treatment from Paris and Tokyo, and now the Russians (fresh off their taste of Shake Shack) and Slavs are getting into the act. Personally, my favorite is the Kraków restaurant named Bococa, p0ssibly the city's grossest neighborhood portmanteau. The only words I can make out on the menu are French and Italian (croissant, penne, spaghetti, tagliatelle).
I didn’t even know what Spicy Pickle was, so it may as well open in Doha. It turns out not to be any sort of on-trend lacto-fermentation, Sriracha-slathered type of affair, but a Colorado-based panini chain. The meat is be halal at the company’s first international location.
ShakeAway, another mystery chain, will be coming to NYC. Yes, it involves milkshakes (one named Jennifer?) and is from the UK, a region I don't trust whatsoever to do a creamy dessert beverage properly. They probably call shakes puddings.
Michael White has expanded his empire to Istanbul.